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The ashes of an empire (Thomas Parker X Lazarae)

Nykar

Let me be the demon to your evil queen
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Location
Tennessee
Tavus always loved riding. The sounds of his wolf's paws pounding against the ground. The air running through his hair. If he got his mount moving fast enough he could even feel like he was flying. He closed his eyes for a moment and just savored the feeling.

"What the fuck are you doing?" came the rider to his right. "Daydreaming about some fucking elvish book? Or maybe you are communing with the trees again?" Came the warrior. A large laugh coming deep from within his throat.

Kelosh turned, looking over to his fellow orc, his features almost unnaturally calm. "No, just thinking of your mother and how great it will be to get back to her. She always gives me the biggest hugs."

The orc snarled, and just kicked his wolf, riding ahead, no longer wanting to deal with him.

Another rider replaced him, an older orc who was just now starting to grow his greybeard. "your father would not approve of that. You know you should be trying to at least pretend to respect clan Ralzok. They are ones most likely to be putting up the next chief of chiefs after all?"

Tavus only sighed "if Clan Ralzok comes to power I could kiss everyone one of their asses and they would still kill me to keep elf blood from polluting our people. My father simply likes the illusion that when he retires the clans won't go back to fighting each others." Tavus' eyes narrow for a moment as he watches members of clan Ralzok gathering ahead and splitting off, heading towards the eastern forests. "See, already they are going to raid another human settlement against the wishes of the war chief. This was supposed to be something all the clans did at this years gathering as a way of showing us we are one people but it has turned into a pissing contest. Clan Ralzok wanted to see how many humans they could kill while everyone else just wanted to grab gold and food." he sneered a bit at them. "Ignorant fools, they care more about honoring the god of battle and blood rather than our people."

"Honoring the God of battle IS helping our people?" Tolnek pointed out.

"more than honoring the God of the hearth, or honoring the will of the Gods who chose my father, or of helping the women of the tribe?! No, they are fools who will drown in a sea of blood."

Tolnek sighed, but instead of arguing more decided to change the subject "I noticed in the last raid you disappeared while. Find yourself some cute little thing to play with?" He said with a chuckle.

"hardly, taking women against their will is a waste of energy and time." He adjusted his bag, and pulled out a book. "no, I was busy finding the court mage's room and seeing if he had any magical tomes. He showed me everything he had and was quite helpful. I was surprised he didn't make me kill him. I think he was too disturbed to fight when he realized I could use arcane magic as well as he could." Kelosh said with a chuckle. "And with these books, I should be able to learn more technics. I am well on my way to being a true eldritch knight."

Tolnek laughed this time "still obsessed with Elven culture eh? That is your mother in you. Still trying to be something you are not. You are an orc, and orcs do not read the words of weaker races. We claim them as our own. Taking on their own cultures makes us weak."

"You did not find it a problem when I cut into the city walls. It would have taken us weeks to get into the city otherwise. The future is not focusing on just one way, but on combing the skills of all. Only then will we be able to gain true strength."

Tolnek just sighed again "No wonder so many of the younger warriors are listening to you! You keep this up and you are going to cause division in all the tribes! Too many of our young have gotten used to the soft lives of these southern people. It will make us easy prey."

Tavus said nothing and just kept moving forward. There was no point in arguing with him. He was stuck in the old ways and would not be willing to change, could not understand that by taking so much territory that his people had to change. Now was not the time to be fall back to the old ways, now was the time be bold.

As he rode on several of the younger warriors moved closer to him. They were mostly from the smaller clans, and tribes. Warriors who could not properly raid unless they worked with a larger group. Kelosh did have many friends among them and they had fought...well they had fought alright. They were strong but still inexperienced. He lost too many of them during the raid. Still, all of them were coming back with loot and it would make their tribes far wealthier. A few had even grabbed slaves, women who were merchants, cloth weavers, and farmers. Women who would bring knowledge they lacked. It was Tavus that told them to claim women who would make the tribe stronger, not just women who looked attractive. It had already started to pay off.

As if sensing his thoughts one of the young warriors came beside him. "Hey Kelosh, why...I mean why didn't you claim any women? You are of age and surely that skinny little thing you keep at home isn't enough for you?"

Tavus' eyes narrowed a bit, and his arm twitched. His up lip started to form a snarl but in an instant he turned and said, with a laugh, all rage vanishing in an instant "I prefer to focus on gold and books right now. My tribe has plenty of women in it and more would just cause fighting amongst them. Besides my pet keeps me PLENTY busy." he said with a laugh.

He adjusted another bag, and gave it a slight pat. The steel in it making him smile.

A few hours later they came over a rise, and there was the great meeting. Tens of thousands of orcs camped on a rocky hillside. It was the only place that would not turn to mud with so many walking across it. It was an interesting time of year when all the tribes came together and this year was truly special. Not all tribes would come to the gathering every year but with his father starting to get weaker the various orcs that would replace him were starting to show off. Challenging each other and bring in greater and greater tributes to gain allies. It was also a time to gain a mate for an orc. For the males to try to win the hand of a fellow orc and start a clan of their own. All in all it was far more crowded than he liked, but it was at least interesting.

When he entered camp he always went to the same place first every time. He allowed his riding wolf to relax in front of the tent and sleep while he tooks his bags and went inside. He said nothing, but grabbed the woman he adored in his arms, and kissed her hard on the lips. His hand moving to her lower back as he held her close. Looking into her eyes he said "come, I got you something." And adjusted his bags. Pulling one open it was filled with knives. Most were just of sturdy steel but one he pulled out. "it is made of adamtine. I took it off a merchant in the last raid. It is said it can cut through ANY metal. When I saw it I just knew you had to have it." He said with a grin.
 
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Lazarae

Planetoid
Joined
Oct 22, 2020
The wait was the hardest part. The warriors of a tribe could be away for days, for weeks- sometimes even longer, though that wouldn't happen now with the great gathering. During most of the year the camp women would find Lilura tasks they found suitable for a human's soft weakness, but now with all the clans gathered even those small tasks put her underfoot, and she was waved away. The other slave-women she didn't even try to approach; she had less in common with them than she did the orc women, having been a slave since childhood when they had come in older.

When the women shooed her away she went to sit on a rocky outcrop where she could watch the children and the greybeards who saw to their training. They spoke freely despite her presence, no more concerned about what she overheard than they would be a stool, and she kicked her feet off the edge of the stone in boredom not entirely feigned. This gathering was larger than any she could remember, and the orcs stood at a crossroads. The young warriors who looked out into the world and saw more than something to subjugate, and the traditionalist clans who cleaved to both orcish superiority as well as brutality. Among the latter were those who had razed Lilura's hometown, burning it down to nothing. That was her earliest memory; who she had been before was lost to the ashes as surely as everything else. She could have been a peasant's daughter, or a merchant's, or even the daughter of a noble come to check his holdings, it no longer mattered. It had been a poor village in a poor year; when the raiding party came they took what little food the village had, the even lesser amount of valuables, and Lilura. From what she had seen it was rare for them to take child slaves- they were investments with uncertain returns, but Lilura had carried the promise of great beauty even in her youth and, perhaps as importantly, she was roughly the same age as the great chief's son. She had been given to him the way a human family might give a child a puppy.

As the sun travelled across the sky she left the outcrop to return to the main of the camp before her presence was properly taken note of; as Tavus's shadow for most of their lives the people of his clan were used to her presence, but at the great gathering there were still those from other tribes who watched her and noticed when she came and went. She had learned when to leave to avoid drawing suspicion.

Lilura had meant to pass by the women of the tribe she belonged to, but a strong hand reached out to gently grasp her arm and her startle was only half an act. "Coming from the greybeards?" The woman asked, and after a brief second of hesitation Lilura nodded, her gaze kept low. The woman stared at her for a long moment, obviously debating further questions, but she was of Tavus's clan and knew there was no squeezing blood from that particular stone; she simply released Lilura and sighed. "Gods save us from the acts of men."

The growing division wasn't only between clans; tribes were developing fault lines, splitting along ideologies within themselves. At home many of the women would not choose sides; how the warriors interacted with the outside world was the business of the warriors themselves. The discord they brought home with them, on the other hand... it was a strain on the women whose duty was to keep the home and hearth.

The fabric of the tent muffled the noise and scents of the busy camp, though it couldn't block them out completely it was enough to give her a measure of peace. Here she could rest, read through the books her love had already finished, and wait. Only a little while longer, and then--

She heard the gentle whuff of his riding wolf settling outside, and even as Tavus reached out she was meeting him halfway, her arms thrown around his neck and her head upraised for the kiss she knew was coming. This was not the response of a slave; away from prying eyes they were equals here, and her affection was genuine. Just as his hand remained at the small of her back, she kept one of her own on his arm even as he moved to open the bag. Her eyes darted over the knives within, a brief appraisal, but the one he brought out to show her...

"Oh, my love." Any trace of her natural accent was long gone, her even voice marked by the harsh syllables of orcish speech; she had spent more time among them than she had her own people. Lilura's free hand reached out to take the knife, her other briefly releasing him so she could unsheathe it just a half inch to get a look at the blade itself. "You always bring me the best presents." He could have brought her an emperor's ransom in gold and jewels and she would have been less overjoyed than she was now, with the blade in her hand.

"Leave the rest for now, let me get a look at you." It was nearly a demand, as she set the knife aside so she had both hands free. She walked a circle around him, her hands running across his torso, over his ribs, up his back as she checked him over for injuries. It wasn't sensual- not entirely, at least, seeing as it was hard for any touch between them to be otherwise- but brisk, brusque, near ritual. It wasn't that she doubted his capability, and while it was ritual she didn't do this every time he returned. The great meeting meant a great many fires, the air thick with the inescapable scent of smoke no matter where she went, and for Lilura that brought with it the burning dreams, fragmented memories of watching her hometown go up in flames. For as long as the gathering lasted she was filled with a vague anxiety, but now that he was back some of the tension had eased.

Tavus was her home, and her home was safe.

When she came to stand in front of him again she rose onto her toes to pull him in for a brief but hungry kiss, and even as she settled back onto her heels she tucked herself against his chest, her hand lingering against his cheek. "I missed you terribly. What's in the other bag? Come, tell me everything."
 
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Nykar

Nykar

Let me be the demon to your evil queen
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Location
Tennessee
Tavus laughed, his hand moving from her lower back to her bottom giving it a light squeeze. "Anything for my mate. Anything to see you smile." He said, in a hushed whisper. He didn't want anyone else knowing he had taken Lilura as his mate. It was an extreme taboo for his people to such a thing as it meant she would manage his tent. She would be the matron of his house and tell any other slaves and concubines...and most importantly other orcs what to do. Still, no one had ever made him feel this way. She would always be his first and he wanted to make sure she would always be that way.

He closed his eyes as her hand lingered on his cheek, pressing his face into it. Her touch was always the most calming thing in the world to him, it was what he looked forward to most when he returned home. He smiled softly and grabbed the bags. Setting them down next to their fire he sat down and pulled her into his lap. He kissed her lips softly and leaned back. He wanted to be comfortable and he was always most comfortable with her near him. "Well, we raided the great city of Aachen. It was the seat of one of their Emperor's a long time ago. Anyway, it had impressive walls but I was able to use my magic to blast open an opening. We took the castle at the center of the city in 4 days." He said proudly, puffing up his chest a little bit. He adjusted and opened one of his bags, showing off the heads of his most impressive kills. Pulling one out he said "This bastard was an amazing fighter." Kelosh adjusted to show a fresh scar on his neck. "He nearly killed me in one swing. Had I not had my defensive spells up he would've killed me. Poor bastard had never heard of an orc that used arcane magic before." He looked into the dead man's eyes, frozen in a look of surprise. Putting the head back he said "I would've gotten the most kills but I was...distracted by other things." He said with a smirk.

Putting the gruesome bag away he pulled out two more. One was filled with gold, silver, various precious metals, and some gems. It was a King's ransom. "I was the first one in the Duke's treasure room so I got first pick. Now, THIS is the start of real wealth. With this much money, we can start raiding under my own banner. I figure next spring we can begin raiding farther south and start putting together a new clan. I a lot of young orcs are getting mates now and wanting to strike out." He said proudly. Already starting to feel like a true warleader. No longer stuck in his father's shadow. "Feel free to take what you want from it. I know the females are starting to set up merchant tents again and the market this year looks good. We will need more riding wolves and the supplies to feed them, but beyond that.." He said with a smirk... "and...you should pick up a new outfit for yourself, maybe something in black." he said with a mischievous grin.

He went for the final bag, and pulled out several books. "I was able to read through some on our way back. It was a 3-week ride so I got bored at night without you." His grin never leaving him. "That stack has some trashy romance novels. The mage I took my books from had...a lot of them." he said with a laugh. "They are a decent read at least. He had a few adventure books, one horror book about a sea monster, aaaaand" he paused and pulled out a book written in elven "his speel book. He let me have it if I didn't burn his lab down and let him keep most of his books. I happily agreed. There are some advanced stuff in here. I haven't fully gone through it yet but with this book, I should be able to become a true wizard." he said with a proud grin. "Then no one will EVER be telling us what to do again."

He kissed Lilura on the lips again, his hand moving to her thigh. He was about to remove her meager coverings when he groaned and pulled his hand away. "ugh. I wish I had more time but the men are gathering soon to show off their spoils and to pay tribute to my father. He didn't travel with us this year so I am fairly sure he is going to join the greybeards tonight. He was so embarrassed last season when he let some welp stab him in the leg..." Kelosh said with a sad sigh. It was a shame that the greatest warriors lived to old age. Their wisdom was wonderful, and the guidance and order they brought to the younger male orcs was priceless, but it was no way for a proud warrior to spend his last few years.

Looking to Lilura though he said "did anything happen in camp while I was away? What are the women saying and buying for the coming season?" At first glance, orc society was extremely patriarchal and in many it was. After all the males became warriors and determined so much about society, but it was the women that actually ran it. It is said an orc warrior would rather risk the wrath of an enemy army than his mate...and for a smart orc that was true. While it was rare females had killed orc males for failing them in the past and bringing ruin on their house. Many a male had foolishly brought in several slaves but couldn't take care of him, so his mate would sell them to other males, and then kill her mate to be rid of him. Kelosh had an aunt that did that and she was much happier with her new mate. As such, while men control what the tribe did to the outside world, it was the women that determined what was even possible.
 
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Lazarae

Planetoid
Joined
Oct 22, 2020
Though she wanted more, Lilura's only response to the squeezing of her backside was to press just a little more against him, not wanting to distract him too much. She had tried to ensure what they said in the privacy of the tent would go unheard, but there was no guarantee. If they were seen like this, the gentle love, then Tavus might lose standing for being soft- if they heard him call her his mate that risked her life, and possibly his. She almost never spoke of the decision they had made, not because of any reluctance but because a secret couldn't be overheard if it wasn't spoken.

She settled onto his lap as he pulled her, head raised for him to kiss. As he brought the bags over she leaned back against his chest, even as it puffed with pride. She was proud of him as well, of his goals and his magic, of the way he had managed to match ferocity with wisdom. She wouldn't have loved him near as much if he had only seen the world as some of the other orcs had.

Lilura didn't even blink at the contents of the bag of heads, long used to the gruesome trophies. She had noticed the new scar in her examination, and hearing how he had earned it made her guts twist a little, but she was used to that too. Every time he left there was the chance he wouldn't return, but he was strong and his magic kept him safe. He tilted his head to display the scar and she half turned to plant a kiss on the lower edge.

The treasure she looked over with greedy eyes and greedy hands, picking through for all the best pieces. Or, at least, the best pieces to her taste- a necklace she claimed wasn't particularly valuable, but it had a smooth carnelian cabochon the size of an infant's fist that glowed in the firelight. "You know I've always looked better in red." She countered, holding the necklace up for him to see, and went silent again to continue listening.

The romance novels didn't interest her quite so much, though they helped to pass the time. The adventure books she showed a little more interest in, the horror even more, and her steely eyes lit up as he brought out the spellbook. The orcs may have argued, but to her magic was just another kind of strength and Tavus greater for learning it, not weaker. He had proved that well enough, with the walls of Aachen.

Even as she leaned into the kiss, parting her legs just a little at the touch of his hand against her thigh, she would have pulled away if he hadn't. They might have had time, if they were quick, but Lilura never liked to rush. "He will." She confirmed as she settled back against him. "He sat with them today, though not for long. Less than an hour, I think." As she sat, searched her memory, she held herself a little straighter, a little more sure. "There wasn't too much, with all the warriors gone. It's hard to tell how many of the women agree with the traditionalists; I think most are willing to fall either way so long as the conflict stops. They do appreciate the slaves the younger warriors have brought in after listening to you. They like having useful slaves staying at camp instead of just pretty ones." This had been said almost directly to her; Lilura had worked to make sure others thought her solidly in the second category, at least for now. It was easier to listen if people thought her little more than a pretty face.

"I think some of the more traditional clans are coming down hard on their younger warriors. Their women are trading rag cloth and scrap linen more briskly than I've ever seen. They're asking for herbs, too. Heart-of-the-earth, orpine, adder's tongue, storksbill... they're treating more injuries. Mad about it, too. I think the women from those clans at least might be willing to come down on the side of change, things keep up like this."

She stretched, arms up to rest over his shoulders. "Do you want me to sit with you during the tribute, love? Keep an eye on proceedings?"
 
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Nykar

Nykar

Let me be the demon to your evil queen
Joined
Nov 25, 2017
Location
Tennessee
Tavus laughed when she grabbed the Necklace. "I should make sure to get more jewelry for you the next time I raid." A big laugh coming from his throat. He kissed her again "And to be honest you look good in everything. If it were up to me you'd walk around in body paint." He poked her side and lifted her up again. Just to snuggle closer to her.

When Lilura said his father would give up the ax Tavus was crestfallen. It was too soon, he needed another year or two to fully great ready. Now he was sure he'd be challenged and very VERY likely some of the clans would refuse to follow him. If that happened things could get very VERY ugly very fast. He was going to have to kill a lot of his fellow orcs. But thankfully he had a few tricks up his sleeve for when that happened. He listened to her and just sighed as she spoke. That was exactly what he was afraid she'd say. "The women are pissed, the young are tired of the old ways and the most experienced warriors we have are out of touch. This will be very bad my sweet." He adjusted her, and moved her off his lap. He needed to think and cuddling would only make him want to do one thing.

"Yes, I think you need to stay with me. If for no other reason than we need to be close while I am at camp from now on." He was pacing back and forth, putting his arms behind his back as he thought. He turned on his heel and looked to her. "Alright, once we are done with the tribute and my father steps down we will have one year to choose a new chief. The clans will go NUTS and everyone will be raiding in every direction. However..." he smirked a little "I spoke to the wood elves as you suggested and I think they are willing to join MY clan. They are tired of being raided and want to keep their territory safe. Once we give my father tribute we can gather up any of the orcs that want to travel with us then we can join with the wood elves and put on a raid that will put everyone to shame."

He went to his older books and went through them. He tossed one to her. The title of it was 'A guide to high elven lands.' He grinned at her. It was something they had talked about several times but had always agreed it was too soon. "I think we need to do it as soon as we get the wood elves on our side. That will give us all the loot and slaves we could ever want. We will get access to magic items." He smirked again "but the best part of all of this, is that once we join with the wood elves having a human mate will no longer be an issue. We can be in public and you can adopt whatever role you want." he stood over her now, a smirk on her face. "Well as long as you keep being my beautiful mate." He reached down, running a hand through her hair. "So...what do you think my beloved?"
 
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