A charred landscape, festering with scattered plumes of differently tinted smoke, some from the piles of bodies, others from the sheer power of war, is back lit by a waning crescent moon amidst a roiling overcast sky at dusk.
Broken towers loom all around like specters in this godforsaken abyss on earth. Telltale signs of powerful magics and massive weapons litter at every footstep.
The smell of blood sticking to hot metal and earth is fresh..
..for the snout of an Orc to follow from the nomad lands of the east to have picked up on the winds of Uktar, 2 weeks ride away.
Vol 1 : Of Pathways and Hunting. The Blood of Luthic.
His snout flinched upward suddenly, the the full thickness of death ripe in his senses, but not this kill, it was on the wind.. from distant lands west. Burroc twisted and wrenched free his crude blade from the neck of a flamboyant halfling merchant, glancing at the remains of his escort of Five then turning his nose back into the west coming wind.
"Mayhem, Blood, Melting Metal!" He thought. His instincts were sharp.. in fact sharper than the mixed bladed fabrication of sheer terror, which would serve as both a monument to primitive technology at it's finest and as a testament to surgical efficiency, that he called a sword. But it's served him relentlessly over the years.. time measured in lengths of the period between blood shedding.
Images born of the most intense origin were washing through him, gut instinct telling him he was too late, this was a slow wind, and Luthic took her bloody time to carry him the news.
He had been raiding the road south out of Shaval, in the High Country of the Sunrise Mountains, on a good route to port for miners and merchants from the west and south of The Endless Waste. His horde would come and go as they please, the traffic on the roads and through the forests as predictable as the sun setting everyday.. They roamed freely, but when good sport was scouted, word came to Burroc to lead the slay personally. It was the Honor and Duty of a top ranking Captain in orcish custom to enjoy the spoils of his leadership. To steal this joy was the lowest form of disrespect among orcs and would be punished brutally. Lethally.
Today was one such kill. A dissenting burly orc had fancied to take this halfling for himself, one of his pack delivered justice upon him at the mere mention. When an orc vocalizes something, he intends it sincerely, and if he didn't he was a stupid fool.
"We ride to the Nightwood.. something beyond my knowing has slain much. The Luthic brings me the scene, I can taste the blood of our brothers and fathers, mothers and wolves.. I smell the blood of goodness with it, and something from the gates of hell herself. We begin the ride in 1 hr. This place won't go anywhere.. if anything, after three seasons of plundering here, we should let the fruit ripen on these roads for some time!"
He cackled and snorted hard, the horde gaping and grunting along with him, drool streaming into the cracked earth beneath their feet.
"Gather the tents and strap some of these fatter ones to the carts, we'll ride north to the lands of Narfell under cover of the woods. Perhaps we'll find some hickory to smoke this halfling with!"
The horde erupted in laughter, one yelled,
"But we needs some elfs to add to the sauce for that one!"
"And some dwarves!! and some rabbits! Thick ones that taste so sweet when you bite them still thumping!"
Grinning, Burroc slung his blade over his back and into his hardened leather scabbard. Picking up the head of the halfling at his feet he rips it off and throws it half jokingly, at an alarming speed, at the pack member.
"Enough! We ride in the hour!
Bloodstone should have plenty of contracts for us when we get there, let's lean up some to make the rewards that much tastier! Now Fold Up!!"
His horde turned and began preparing for the long journey. A Week or more of solid riding. Bountiful killing.
Burroc tasted the air once more with his snout.. "If there is a Bloodstone to hold contracts, that is," he grunted through his lips.
In the crimson sunlight, his Various leather straps, wrapped around his flesh, seem to hold his deformations into a more regular shape. Acting like a permanent second skin, the oily leathers blending into his dark tough flesh. His muscular body seems to test the seams of his clothing and armor, bulging out at every opportunity. Eyes the colour of ash and old blood govern his weather-worn and stern cheeks, a massive maw riddled with teeth, growing in every direction. Two long braids of horse-like hair are pulled tight behind his head, adorned with small bones and gems and objects of unknown origin. Strong hands with razor sharp and chipped nails seemingly never leave their posts, ready to wield whatever weapon may be at his side.
Burroc, Bog Lurker - Captain of The Dark Ride, could already feel a vengeance for something he couldn't even understand welling from within. There was something far too wrong with this news.
"Curse the Sun, Luthic, that I ride on the fall of Nightal to discover the stench that you bring me now. This bitterness had better sweeten.. I wonder if Obould has annoyed too many enemies at the same time. I wonder if he even knows how to hunt properly anymore the fat pomp!"
His lip curled as he rode SlashFang, his gruesomely evil hell hound, westward into the wind he could not let pass without fully inspecting.
"Head north through the Mistbridge, I will head west and meet you in the Giantspire. I'll see what the ports bring for news, and if they don't yield it.. you shall see the flames of their ruins kissing the sky from the Ashane!", he bellowed.
Spurring SlashFang, he was off, riding towards the sun, the sky before him bleeding like a vision, a truth just delivered.
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