Day 1, morning: Yesterday we made contact with an Orc warband on the shore. We asked them to fetch their leader, or someone who could speak on their leader’s behalf. He appeared, surrounded by retainers, big Orcs, with many scars. We asked for his permission to travel through his lands. We offered gifts, and veiled threats. Our own Kartur-Hhakrall guards took the lead on this, and spoke to him Orc to Orc. It worked. He took the gifts and gave permission. So this morning we make landfall, and start east.
Day 1, evening: There is good hunting in these lands, and we brought down plenty of game, so that we will eat well tonight. We saw Orc scouts behind, ahead and to the sides, but they left us alone. Presumably they have got the message that we have permission to be here.
Day 2, morning: Violently awoken. Camp attacked. One of our cooks was killed, a scribe injured. One of the Kartur-Hhakrall also dead, two others slightly battered. So much for promises of safe passage. The scribe can walk, and the Kartur-Hhakrall want to pursue our attackers. They want revenge. I want to know why we were attacked. So, we will follow our attackers’ trail.
Day 2, evening: Caught up with our attackers. I held the Kartur-Hhakrall back, not wanting to lose more people. They contented themselves hunting down one of the stragglers, then withdrew. We have camped in an easily defensible position, atop a steep scarp.
Day 3, morning: Little rest last night. Three separate incursions from the local Orcs against us. They seemed designed to test us, not hurt us. No deaths on either side, though we lost a pack mule, felled by a javelin. I have allowed our Kartur-Hhakrall to attempt negotiations. As I write they are bellowing insults and goading the Orcs to attack us.
Day 3, noon: My Kartur-Hhakrall seem to have decided that attacking is a form of negotiating. Half of them disappeared earlier, and have just returned. They carry the severed heads of two young Orcs. We are now fortifying the camp.
Day 3, evening. The Kartur-Hhakrall notion of negotiating works well with these local Orcs. A messenger has just shouted from the woods that their leader will speak to us tomorrow morning. We expect attacks in the night, of course.
Day 4, morning: Quiet night. No attacks. The Orc leader arrived at dawn. She wasn’t someone we’d seen before, not the same leader we bargained with from the ship. I asked why she had not stood by his promise, and she spat and cursed, saying that she would not bow to him. She bowed to nobody, she said, for she was a free Orc, not a slave. Discussions followed. It seems that these Free Orcs have a thousand leaders, none acknowledging the others. I asked of stories of great Orc strongholds here, held by mighty chieftains. She said that she could be such a chieftain if she wanted. Asked why she didn’t want to, she said they never survived more than a year, and she had many years of fighting to do. I asked if she would ever follow one of these chiefs, and she said that she had, and might again, but only if she felt like it. I am bemused by this, and have left further negotiations to my Kartur-Hhakrall.
Day 4, noon: We will move off again soon. The Kartur-Hhakrall decided not to do a deal with the local warleader. They decided that she would see it as a sign of weakness if they sought peace. Instead the told her what route we would take, and invited her to attack us if she wished. I’m not convinced by this. Inviting attack seems foolish, but it is too late now. We will march as far as we can today.
Day 5 evening: After one and a half days of peaceful march, we are leaving Orc territory. We noted scouts watching us, but none have attacked. I have thanked my Kartur-Hhakrall for their work ensuring our safe passage, but will be happy if we do not have to deal with the Free Orcs again.