THE ORCRISTH ORCS

APPEARANCE - COAT OF ARMS - TERRITORY - PEOPLE - HOUSING - CLOTHING
DIET - WEAPONS - OCCUPATIONS - GOVERNMENT - PRODUCTION/TRADE
 
NATURAL RESOURCES
- MYTH/LORE - HISTORY

The Orcristh live in the canyons along the Uiyujappa River, located west of the Zhunith Desert and south of the Kaerath Desert, in the western part of Nybelmar. Hidden in the shadows of the sharp cliffs, they inhabit the Kingdom of Orcal and dominate the few secure roads through the desert.

Appearance. The most notable feature of the Orcristh is their raven-black skin which is different from any other orc tribe known on Caelereth. They are tall and comparatively slenderly built (in relationship to other orcs). Their black hair is plaited in heavy braids falling down on muscular shoulders. Their eye colours ranges from the typical yellow to an intense orange-red. Their sharp teeth are like those of most orc races but often contrast even more due to their whiteness against the dark skin. The raven-black skin and the strong build of the Orcristh make them appear also noble to other races and graceful in their behaviour and movements.

An Orcristh Orc

View picture in full size Picture description.The black Orcristh Orcs of Nybelmar, inhabiting the Kingdom of Orcal, are truly an intimidating tribe... Image drawn by Seeker.

Orcristh orcs dress mainly in more or less simply madeup loincloths, made from animal hides. However, many rings, bracelets and amulets decorate their bodies. The priesthood is known for making fire-red tattoos with which they cast defensive or healing spells on themselves or on warriors. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The royal guards wear the Orcristh symbol on their shields, the symbol of their godking, the Orcal, who is the center of the Orcristh religion. This symbol resembles an inverted S-shape. It stands for the river upon which the destiny of the kingdom depends and thus it is also the Godking's rune. With this sign the Orcristh mark anything that is possessed by the Orcal himself, from border stones, to documents about state affairs to the shields of his personal warrior guard. This symbol is seen as lifespending, blessed and divine and thus also often incorporated into jewellry, for one because of these magical powers but also as a sign of loyalty to the Orcal. The various towns and cities of Orcal also use a single, magical sign on the shields of their warriors to distinguish heritage. Instead of painting those signs on their shields, however their shields are shaped like the symbol, creating a vast variety in shield colour and shape.
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Territory. The realm of the Orcristh lies in the deep valleys carved into the sand and rock by a mighty stream, the Uiyujappa river, the lifesource of the Kingdom of Orcal. The kingdom spreads over several hundred leagues, northwest of the Zhunith Desert and the city-states of Zhun. There on the fertile shores and in the cooling shadows of the cliffs the Orcristh live and worship their gods and build their houses and temples.
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People. Unlike most orcs, the Orcristh have developed a society that is not based on clan and family structures - instead, it has evolved into a monarchy by which a godking, figure, the Orcal, rules the Orcristh nation. The Orcristh soldiers are well organized and well-adopted to the hot and arid conditions around them.

The Orcristh tend to treat their females well, but they are still not permitted to hold any sort of high ranking position or considered to be the equal of a male (with the exception of the Orcal-cha). However, they are considered to have their own special status as "the race bearers", and most males treat their mates with kindness and care. Females are considered to be under the rule of their household male, but their wishes are usually considered when decisions concerning them are made. The Orcal-cha, the only female with any rank, is the mother of the current Orcal (leader) and holds the position of his most trusted advisor.

The priests/attendants of Orcal were sophisticated enough to create their own alphabet and build libraries that record most of the Orcristh history and myths. The most important writings are usually preserved by being carved in stone, while others are printed on hides, using an ink compounded of water and pigmented rocks to make various colours. The Orcristh alphabet is mainly pictorial and one of these printed hides would appear at first glance to be a stunning work of art.

Also the mages and priests of Orcal are said to excel in magic use in a way not expected by the orcish race and their power in the art of fire magic became legendary. It is unknown how this may have occured, but there are several theories. A favorite among Santharian scholars suggests that the orcs intermarried with shadow elves and thus inherited their black skin, slender build, and propensity for magic. Some scholars have suggested that interbreeding occured with the Volkek-Oshra orcs, the orcish fire mages of Ximax. Another theory suggests that they absorbed so much sun radiance that they became black and developed an affinity for magic relating to fire/heat. A fourth, less popular one, holds that they are not actually orcs, but dark elves which became warped by magic in a ferocious battle with other elves and, losing, were exiled to Nybelmar.

To the surrounding realms and races this prospering empire in the middle of nowhere has often a frightening effect, though the Orcristh remained for the most part - compared to the bloodlust of other orc tribes - relatively peaceful, though raids and skirmishes in what they claim as their sphere of influence are the rule, not an exception. Some of their religious ceremonies can be very violent and bloody - for instance, forcing captives/criminals to fight each other, or wild animals, to the death as a public spectacle which presumably glorifies their gods. Refusal to fight means a much slower, painful death, where the unfortunate victim is dismembered alive before the crowds.
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Housing. The Orcristh live mainly in clay or brick houses that are often built at the hillside of the cliffs into small villages and hamlets. The main cities are known to be so big that they grow up to the clifftops. Other towns were built into vast caves of the great canyons. Only palaces and temples are built with other sorts of stone that has to be transported over miles along the river to their destination. This is mainly sandstone but black or red marble is often used for portals or as a roof.
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Clothing. All Orcristh wear some kind of loincloth, however usually fixed by a belt which is decorated with aurium, claws, semi-precious stones or other things. The loincloth itself is usually made from animal skins, often dyed, cut into small pieces and sewn[1] together in intricate patterns of colour. Bracelets, armlegs and necklets are also often worn and made of painted brass, silver or aurium.

Women usually don't wear much more, although their clothes are longer and even more colourful. Married orc females wear a brass collar-like necklet, which indicates their marital status (and thus lack of availability to other orc males). Their status as childbearers is indicated by items set into the collar - one piece of obsidian for each male child and one piece of polished rose quartz for each female child, once the children have reached one year of age.

The priesthood generally wear a black loincloth with a belt made of links of aurium. They do not usually wear other jewelry except for ceremonial purposes.

In battle conditions, the warriors wear heavy steel armour - spiked helmets, breastplates, epaulettes, anklets, wristlets and kneelets which are separately bound around the arms and legs, with only a small fur as padding between the steel and the skin.
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Diet. As Orcal is a desert kingdom it rains very rarely. The only source for water is the great Uiyujappa River. The river flows over its banks each year, leaving a rich black mud on the surrounding soil. This mud is used for growing crops, which - along with fish and sheep - are the main food sources of Orcal. The Orcristh orcs also grow various fruits, to add food diversity. The ground is made fertile by constructing irrigation ditches, to transport the water to where it is needed. This irrigation system allows them to harvest crops three times a year. Flesh is mainly taken from goats and sheep and the wild Nybelmar quagga. Cattle is rare and precious, reserved for the Orcal and the priesthood.
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The Orcish Heavy Ballista

View picture in full size Picture description. A heavy and extremely powerful Orcish Ballista as constructed by the Orcristh Orcs in Nybelmar. Image from the game Mystical Empire, used with friendly permission, drawn by Quellion.

Weapons. The Orcristh use mainly a "sickle-like" blade that has a hilt of leather and cloth wrapped around one end. In some variants these blades can be thrown at their foes. In general they make up formidable slashing weapons in a terrain where only few races would dare to wear full armor. Also, heavy scimitars are very common. The Orcristh's second weapon is mostly a dagger or long knife. Return to the top

Occupations. The leading caste of this community is the priesthood, who help the Orcal rule the mighty kingdom. At their side is the warrior caste which consists of those wealthy enough to afford decent weaponry. Below them is the vast number of workers and craftsmen who are the main labour force of the kingdom.
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Government.  Orcal is a monarchy led by a king, the so-called Orcal who has godlike status among the blade and is seen as the mortal child of the Orcristh gods, Gra’khron and Mruk’cha. He reigns with absolute power over the kingdom.

Most things are regulated by the priesthood, by rituals and traditions. The priesthood collects the taxes and punishes the guilty, it blesses and heals the citizens or bans and curses them. They are also responsible for the education of the young higher caste children. The only other caste with influence is the warrior caste that makes up the Orcristh army. They represent the noble society among the Orcristh and only they can become priests or leaders. Female orcs may not take on any of these roles. Their main purpose, as in most orc cultures, is that of reproduction. The one exception to this is the biological mother of the current Orcal. She fulfils the role of trusted advisor to the throne and her status in society overranks any male not of the priesthood or warrior caste. She is called the Orcal’cha.
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Production/Trade. In the canyons of Orcal the Orcristh mainly produce their things for everyday life. But they also have great knowledge about herbs and spices and so they export many of these precious goods to other places. They are also capable of making glass from some special sands found in the deserts and slice crystals found into jewelry.

Natural Resources. The only resources the Orcristh have in vast numbers is sand, obsidian, and some resources of aurium mined from deep within the earth. Besides that only the growing of spice and their sources of meat are of any real value in their kingdom.
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Myth/Lore. The Orcristh take great pride in their black skin, since the colour black is sacred to them. They have an interesting story about how they became black. According to the legend, they were once like other inferior races, paler in colour. But when they settled in what is now Orcal, they were plagued brutally by desert flies. For relief, they covered themselves in the black mud from the river, and eventually this stained their skin permanently black. Since black is a sacred colour, only the priesthood may wear black items of clothing, aside from obsidian gems as decorative articles. Return to the top

History. The origin of the black orcs is not known. However, there are several schools of thought on this issue. Most Sarvonian scholars believe that the black orcs originated when a shadow elf impregnated a female orc and their descendants, though intermarrying with other orcs (which are normally darker skinned than most people to begin with) retained the black skin colouring, slimmer build, and propensity for magic of their elven ancestor.

However, others say that the dark skin developed as a survival trait in the desert, where lighter skinned individuals would burn in the heat. Some think it is due to the kinds of foods they eat, while still others insist that they are not actually orcs, but aanother kind of being altogether, although these scholars are fewer in number. The bone structure and teeth of the black orcs is nearly identical to that of Sarvonian orcs - few people can tell the difference. Return to the top

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[1]
Since the orcs have no materials from which to make cloth, they use skins. For sewing, they use their own hair as thread, since it is thick, long, and tough. [Back]

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THE CURRENT AGE
(YEARS 2.970 B.S. - 1.667 A.S.)
1679 b.S.
to 1648 b.S.
The Orcal Wars
The Krath Empire is involved in a thirty years bloody war against the western orc tribes. The Zhunites are drafted in the Empire's armies from time to time, but generally they are kept out of the way. The Empire's grip on Zhun though, is weakened with each passing year.
  

1655 b.S.
to 1648 b.S.
The Third Zhunite Uprising
The Zhunite cities take advantage of the Empire's troubles in the Orcal Wars and form a common council (the Assembly of Equals) proclaiming their independence. Anis-Anpagan salutes this decision sending them aid against the Empire's retaliation. Eventually, after seven years of continuous struggles the Zhunite city-states are recognized as such by the Krath Empire. Yet although from this point on their independence is generally unquestioned, they remain under the heavy influence of the new Anis-Anpagan republic.
  

1431 b.S.
to 1420 b.S.
The Orcristh-Doimo Conflict
A group of Doimo hunters ambush and kill a Orcristh hunting party on a journey through the desert, as the Doimo remember that Orcristh adventurers burned and slaughtered their clans some hundred years ago. The great medicine man Otharak leads the clan which will later be called "Emohod" (the "Orcs-is-Burning" clan), wielding his rare talent for fire magic to burn the Orcristh during an ambush. Greatly angered, the king starts a small war against the Doimo, mainly one-sided. The conflict lasts for some time, however, the Doimo are still wary of the orcs.

It is during this conflict the Emehod clan gets its name, as their clan medicine man makes orcs burst into flames if they are careless enough to move far enough from their own magicians. Still, most of this war is spent keeping the women, children and elderly away from the Orcristh, while the hunters sometimes get the chance to feather a few of their enemies. At the worst part of the war, the lands occupied by the Orcal troops are abandoned.

Among the many stories from this time, one is more famous than the other. It is about a boy caught by a group of 10 Orcristh soldiers. The soldiers force him to take them to his camp, and the boy leads them. But instead of taking them to his home, he leads them astray into the Thirstlands. The orcs are angry the third day of finding nothing, and the discussion becomes heated. During the fuss, the boy flees, leaving the soldiers without a guide in a land they cannot survive for long in. Some days later, a group of hunters notices carrion birds on the horizon, and finds 7 dead Orcristh warriors. The boy becomes a band chieftain several years later.
  

1189 b.S. Competing for Supremacy at the Uiyujappa Canyon
Various cities within the canyon of the fertile Uiyujappa River compete for supremacy as well as herding and waterrights.
  

1179 b.S. The Orcal Union
A union of the various towns and districts is made under one ruler named Orcal. Lateron he's seen as descendant of the Gods and a God himself and will gain absolute power in the kingdom.
  

700 Olaroh defeats Orcristh Intruders
The myth of some Orcristh adventurers who pillage and burn in the west has its origins from this time. The raiders are overcome after a few days of hit-and-strike tactics by Olaroh and his clan hunters.

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