Frellon stood in the white snow and wondered why they kept coming. Once the other Orc tribes in the area had discovered them, it seemed word had spread quickly. This was the third raid this month, a new record. The bodies of three Orc warriors before him dyed the snow red. Even in winter they attacked, no parley, no terms. They simply, raided, and never surrendered. Twice a group had successfully made off with some supplies. Once, some made the mistake of carrying off an Orc woman.
Frellon had returned with their heads and the woman in tow the very same day.
There seemed to be a whole lot more orcs than he had thought there were out here. The Orunta were a small tribe in comparison to the ones that lived out here on the plains. On the handful of scouting trips he had taken, he had seen counted between 12 and 18 different camps within 100 miles. That was just it though, the others came and went, as if they traveled regularly and often. Frellon’s little city was the only stationary Orc settlement out here.
But how the other Clans conducted themselves was not his affair, for Frellon’s task was only to ensure that his Clan would flourish, defend itself, and grow.
Frellon frowned. That’s right, they would begin to grow more rapidly soon enough. The better part of a year had passed already, and there were dozens of mewling infants among the Clan. The pride Frellon felt in his people was great. They would grow to be the next generation of Orunta!
Frellon paid the blood seeping into the ground no more mind as he turned and made his way back to his home on the hill.
At first Frellon had insisted on defending the Village-city personally, as his people were few in number and were trained in hunting weapons, which were not ideal for combat. However, as the next generation began to crawl, walk, and then run, Frellon began the training of his people in earnest. He had finally collected enough discarded bows and arrows from the raids- it seemed the Orcs of these plains had developed weapons that the forest people had not -he had decimated to feel comfortable spending the reserves of ammunition on training. He had yet to convince his people to make arrows themselves, but he was hoping these lessons would change that.
Frellon faced the Orc children lined up in front of him, inspecting them. They were all male, healthy, strong and full of vigor; the perfect base upon which to build a warrior.
The first Lesson was refreshing for Frellon, it went similarly to his first real lesson with Eliat.
“What is the difference between the clubs your fathers use to hunt with, and these bows?”
Frellon addressed the young ones.
One of the braver ones dared to reply. “the bow can hit things far away, and the clubs hit things close to you?”
Eliat had rounded on Frellon mercilessly, but Frellon knew he was already respected and slightly feared by his Clan, and did not want to support the fear aspect of it.
“True, however, that is not the difference I refer to. The club is a weapon of choice. I can strike my enemy with a light blow or a hard one. I can knock my enemy out or break his wrist so he can no longer fight. If the need arises, I can strike an enemy with such strength that it crushes him and he dies. The club allows me to choose between life and death when I strike the enemy.”
Frellon let that sink in.
“The bow, by contrast, is a weapon of death. An arrow to the head, heart, or gut is lethal, often instantly. I cannot decide to spare an enemy with a bow; my arrow is not guided by my hand upon the entire length of its flight. A bow is a killing weapon. Only pick up the bow when your intent is lethality. Only fire an arrow when the intent is to kill.”
“Your father’s may casually bash each other with their clubs in jest. This is impossible with a bow. You will constantly treat bows with the respect their capacity for death deserves, or you will never touch another bow again. Is this understood?”
A spattering of agreement. Frellon frowned. “When I ask if something is understood, the answer is either ‘Yes, Bow-Master’ or ‘No, Bow-Master’. Is this understood?"
Frellon smiled, it was eager and predatory. He would turn them into fine Warriors, but they needed to learn respect for their weapons and for his instructions- Baz’Auran knows Eliat had drummed such into him
“Now then. This part of the arrow is called the fletching, and it keeps the arrow flying straight and true.”
Frellon watched from a corner of the mess hut as his grown, former students shared a boisterous meal. They had fought off their first raid together, with no casualties. He had expected some to second guess the killing, as he had at first. However, it seemed the 34 warriors he had trained were so used to the concept of him killing the raiders off that it didn’t bother them. Which was good, the raiders deserved no mercy, as they came into his territory with evil in their hearts and were willing to kill and die for it. There was no honor in what they attempted, but the honor of the Orunta grew as they sought no further retaliation against those who attacked them, other than the deaths of those raiders who refused to flee or surrender once the raid was discovered.
He had trained his warriors extensively with the bow, and taught them the basics of spear, club, and staff fighting. More importantly, he had taught them the methods for passing that knowledge on to others, as Eliat had generously done for him. The future generations of the Orunta would no longer need his personal instruction in this, which suited him.
Frellon had finally ensured that his people would be able defend themselves from the raids, rather than relying on him to step in each time. They were on equal footing now too, the Orunta and the raiders. With the excited youths to help convince the rest of the Clan, there was now a steady supply of arrows and bows being created. The arrows of other Clans would be met in kind should they strike while he was away.
And yes, he was leaving.
It was high time he went looking for his siblings. The needs of his people were all that had kept him here these last few years. Frellon had missed half a song, a long while ago. He was fighting when it arrived, and as he slew the last opponent, the words had become clear in the ensuing silence:
Have you left your sister?
Please, my siblings, come!
I wait for you in this land.
The rocks whisper among
Themselves, and the wind
Whips up the sand into
Great clouds of dust over
The sweet streams and
The high mountains that
Are barren and cold yet
Have given birth to these
Brave people who follow!
Come and meet them!
Your sister waits at the Olm-
Hoping that she is not alone…
Frellon only vaguely recalled the geography lessons. He was relatively sure all of the continents had some mountains or another. What was the ‘Olm’? The song was Fayruz’s, Frellon could pick out that voice and that harp anywhere, but if he was to find her, how would he get there? He didn’t know where she was! The problem had bothered him through many a long night.
Frellon left the hut and made his way to his own hut. Once inside, he began packing, taking two bows, the Sword of Heroes, three quivers of arrows, and a pack filled with supplies he’d been preparing for a while.
While Frellon was horrendous at most forms of magic, sensing the presence of the other gods was more instinct than much else, and he could tell that none of his siblings were north or east of him. All were some distance south or west, or both.
Frellon hefts his pack, which is the perfect weight, heavy, but manageable, and leaves the hut. He does not need to announce his departure, he has long since told his plans to Trekel.
Frellon begins a swift march in a south-western direction, and passes from the village.