Broken Lands Faction: Llwcharion

From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing.

Far from the centre of the Sundering, it was not the fall of the mountains or a rain of fire from the skies that slew the ancestors of the Llwcharion. Their fall was more pathetic.

Of course, their great palaces toppled in earthquakes. Of course their forests and fields were set aflame. Many were crushed and burned as elsewhere. But far from the centre of the maelstrom, many survived that great cataclysm.

The pain continued for a generation. With the great palaces fallen, who could keep order? With the Orc armies killed or scattered or preying upon the other survivors, who would protect the people? With the fields burned, where would food be found? It is always remembered that the Sundering destroyed forests and mountains. What hurt these Elves the most, was that it destroyed the web of farming, production, trade and administration on which they depended.

Millions starved, some were slain by rampaging brigands, many fell to illnesses which ravaged the weakened population. Many survivors huddled in ruined cities, hoping absurdly that civilisation would somehow rebuild itself, and perished as diseases spread amongst them. Others headed towards the traditional sources of their food, the farms and orchards, but these were burned and ruined, and such people starved even as the first shoots of growth appeared. Some stockpiled what they could find and barricaded themselves into fortified places, but these simply became targets for Orc marauders and human bandits.

What saved the Llwcharion, was intelligent cowardice. They fled.

The Llwcharion made for the northern deserts. Here, with resourcefulness and geomantic magics they coaxed a little food from the desert. Nobody troubled them in this desolate land: no Orc warbands would brave the barren heat and drought of the place. They soon learned to live, and then learned to thrive.

Yet their history has twisted them. No longer do they hope to make a better world. They hope only to survive. No longer do they seek the soft beauty of woodland glades, but revel in the barren desert. It is said that when they cry they weep tears of dust, but it is more likely that they simply do not cry.

Their achievements in surviving are worthy of admiration. And they have developed an impressive range of skills. The secret magics that coax food from the desert are remarkable. Their torturers are highly skilled, and we of the Argiri have made good use of these craftsmen. But they have forgotten, in their hearts, what it is to be an Elf, to be the highest of mortal creatures, uniquely able to rebuild civilization.

In short, for all their cleverness, they are little better than mere humans.


Broken Lands Faction: The Overoad Traders

From the journal of Barnard of Shelton, master trader in the employ of the Illyria Trade Council, recording his journeys to the Broken Lands.

I was invited to join two scruffy Dwarves, as they played dice with a gang of goblins. It was not the reception that I had expected.

The Overoad Traders, from the reports I had heard, control the foremost commercial network in these lands, with a range of well established trade centres stretching from the peaceful lands of Virten out into the wild and dangerous lands to the east. When I asked to be permitted to discuss possible trade deals with some of their leaders, I did not expect to be invited to play dice with ruffians.

I had expected, as in my own homelands, to be invited to a well established guild house or palace, where negotiations would proceed in measured tones in luxurious surroundings. Instead I found myself gambling with goblins.

The two dour Dwarves who led the game had planted a staff in the ground, adorned with tattered parchments listing the wares that they had for sale, and topped with an astrolabe, as a wizard’s staff might have some mighty crystal. And wherever such a staff is planted, that becomes a headquarters, for a while, for these rough traders. It is a far cry from a grand guild hall.

The two greeted me without enthusiasm. They explained the rules of the game, which were surprisingly complex, and told me to drag across a box to sit on.

As the dice were passed around, they quaffed ale from huge wooden mugs and wiped their mouths on their sleeves, and they started to quiz me about what I wanted to trade and at what prices. I outlined a possible proposal to gauge their interest, and was told, curtly, “It won’t work. I’d have to sell the cargo on at Cloghord’s Haven, and my costs mean I’ll only make six point seven percent.”

“Point six,” the other Dwarf corrected him.

The first Dwarf fiddled with four bulky rings on the fat fingers of his left hand. “No, point seven.”

“We promised Scritgut a raise,” the second nodded towards one of the goblins. “Include that in.”

More ring fiddling. “Six point five eight. You’re right. Anyway, the journey’s too dangerous. We have to factor in likely losses, so your price is too high. Now, whose throw?”

And so the conversation, and the game, continued. The Dwarves, it transpired, were two of the leaders of the Traders. At least, they had their own trade caravans, which in the chaotic world of the Traders made them leaders of sorts. And they were very happy to discuss major transactions while half distracted, it seemed, with a petty game of chance.

“Not game of chance!” one of the goblins objected when I commented on this. “Probability! Math-e-menatics!”

“He’s right,” the Dwarf concurred. It’s all about calculations and probabilities, just like trade is.”

“But still, is this a suitable place to discuss a trade deal?” I asked.

“Of course. My mind’s on numbers. And any deal we do, my friends share the risk, so they should hear what you have to say.” He saw that I looked surprised at his use of the word. “Friends? What, when you trade, who do you travel with?”

“Well, employees, servants….”

“We rely on each other. Rank doesn’t matter. Out there, we live or die based on each other, and we have enough enemies already. It has been like this for generations. When the Sundering broke the mountains, the Dwarven race was swallowed up. Some say that only three thousand of us survived. It must have been more, but the point is, almost everyone died. Our ancestors were trapped above ground while their families were crushed to death under the fallen mountains….”

And so he started to explain. He explained that the scattered Dwarves had become wandering craftsmen and traders, at last finding trade to be the more profitable path. He also told me what happened to the goblins.

“After the Sundering the Orc armies weren’t used to getting their own food. So when the survivors had nobody to send them supplies, they ate the weakest amongst their ranks. That meant that they ate the goblins. The goblins who got away also had no idea how to fend for themselves. The mages had only wanted them as scouts and killers – they hadn’t taught them to farm or forage or cook. So, those that our ancestors met they took in, and fed. These goblins, my friends, are descended from those my ancestor rescued five centuries since.”

The Overoad Traders, he explained, needed others to help them. There just weren’t enough Dwarves to perform all the tasks required in all their trade missions. And the goblins were outstanding servants – or as he put it, partners. They were excellent scouts, cunning and swift, they could look after pack animals, they could learn any simple skill, and if needs be they could be merciless. And they ate only half what a Dwarf or Human would eat, “which means we carry and buy fewer provisions. So we’d rather work with them than with humans. Not that we don’t have human partners. Anyone can join up. But the goblins have always been our best friends.”

Travelling light was important to the Traders, I realised. They carried no ledgers, but held all of their accounts in their heads. “This month is set to be my best in 2 years, by three point four percent,” he mentioned, apparently without thinking about it. They had no offices, no clerks. Everything was calculated through their well practised mental arithmetic, which, if needed, could be verified by the use of the four heavy rings which each wore: these four, made of several bands of metal which could be adjusted individually, were like a more complex abacus. One of the two also wore a pendant which was, I realised, a kind of portable sun-dial.

These, then, were not the degenerate gamblers that I had feared that they were when I sat down with them. They were clever, pragmatic survivors, and their approach to trade, though alien to me, is perfectly suited to survival, and perhaps profit, in a hostile land.

Broken Lands Faction: The New Light

From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing.

A tragedy for the present Age is that so many learn the wrong lessons from history. The New Light are foremost in this error.

In the Second Age, the Order of Silver Light brought peace, prosperity, stability and order to these lands, but failed to keep control over their subjects. After the Sundering, surviving mages, hedge-witches and sundry practitioners of secret arts came together to rebuild the Order.

These optimists called themselves The New Light, and they embraced all manner of occult practitioner. Where the Order of the Silver Light had included only the most powerful and most intelligent mages, the New Light included every manner of magical practitioner from shamen to alchemists. Where the Order of Silver Light understood the supremacy of Elves, here Humans and Orcs are accepted alongside their natural betters.

Still, many of the goals of the Order of Silver Light live on in this more diverse gathering. These mages understand that the wise should rule the foolish, and believe that an educated class of rulers should be schooled to provide leadership for the ignorant masses. They also believe that magical power is supreme above all others, and magical study the greatest intellectual endeavour. And so they continue the work of the Order to impose upon the lesser peoples the wise rule of potent mages.

These mages are obsessed with their magical power, and determined to rebuild a civilisation akin to that of the last Age through the rule of wizards. But this is muddled thinking. They have failed to learn the correct lessons from history.

The fall of the Order of Silver Light did not come from a lack of diversity. It came from a lack of commitment to maintaining order. Faced with a choice between keeping order and gaining magical knowledge the New Light will choose knowledge. This is a fine way to build a college of magicians, but an inadequate way to build an eternal empire.

This is why the New Light will never build a civilisation to rival the heights of the Second Age. And this is why we Argiri, not they, are the best hope for a land too free, to fractured and too foolish to prosper.

Broken Lands Faction: Argiri

From the History of Loss and Hope, by Llanawi Puresoul of the Halls of Care, Chief Physician of the Office For Cleansing.

Nobody can walk upon two paths. To complete a journey, to reach a goal, one must choose a single path, and set out upon it with clarity of purpose and certain determination.

In the Second Age, the Order of Silver Light understood that sheep must have a shepherd, that the wise should rule the foolish, that the powerful should protect the weak. And they established a glorious age of peace and hope and prosperity. But they walked this path with uncertainty, one day keeping the ignorant in place and the next day bowing to their fancies, one day cleansing the land of those who threatened peace and the next making accommodation with them.

The vacillations of the Order led to uncertainty and confusion. The confused became fearful, the fearful angry, and soon the ignorant and the angry rose up against those who had given them peace and plenty, and the land was plunged into chaos. From this chaos, the Order of Silver Light rescued the land, but at a terrible price, unleashing the magical fury which we now call the Sundering.

Weaklings and fools in lands such as Virten hold the Sundering as evidence against the Order. But in truth the Sundering occurred only because in the years before this the Order was uncertain, because it lacked commitment to its purpose, because it did not do until the very end what needed to be done. If the Order of Silver Light had enforced the peace and order that it had created with true determination, then its subjects would not have risen up, war would not have racked the land, and the Sundering would not have been unleashed.

The Sundering was a tragedy. But the greatest tragedy was that it could have been avoided, and peace and prosperity maintained, if only the Order had not wavered in its commitment to maintaining strong order.

Of all the people who have risen over the centuries since, only the Argiri have learned the true lessons, the hard lessons, required to restore and rebuild the glories of the height of the Second Age: he who is ruled by compassion cannot save what he loves; he who cannot cut out the rot cannot cure the whole; for the foolish masses the only true freedom is servitude to those who can best guide them.

There is hope. There is hope that the order and prosperity of the Second Age might be rebuilt. But this can only be accomplished by those who have the will and wisdom to pursue this vision with unwavering commitment. The sentimentalists of Virten do not have the determination. The blood-mad Drek-Hhakrall have no vision for the salvation of the people. The mages of the New Light seek only self-aggrandizement.

Only the Argiri carry a message of salvation to the peoples of these lands. Only we have the wisdom to build a glorious civilisation as we knew in the Second Age. Only we have the will to eradicate whatever might threaten this grand vision. For us, it is a hard path to walk, fraught with difficult decisions and painful necessities. For the lesser peoples, it is easy, for they need do more than submit.


Broken Lands Factions: Drek-Hhakrall

From the report of Drudzak the Cunning-Teller, before the throne of Great Chief Kujagur of the Drek-Hhakrall.

Great Chief! Champions! All who stand before the Great Chief, who eat of his gifts, who live because he lets you, who bow to him. Listen!

I have spoken to our wise hunters. I have listened to our cunning spies. I have cheered at the war stories of you, our great Champions. So I have heard and learned, and thought. I have thought of the enemies that we’ve killed. I have though of the enemies that we haven’t yet killed. And I can tell you, all, now of each. I can tell you what their weaknesses are. I can tell you where they have some strength. If you hear what I say, and learn, your next victories will be more bloody, more glorious.

But first, I speak of the greatest warriors. I speak of the mightiest armies. I speak of the fiercest, finest, most ferocious force to tread these lands since the mages fell! I speak first, of us! I speak first of the Drek-Hhakrall!

Who should be spoken of before us? How dare any name be mentioned before ours!

Does anyone have a general as strong as the mighty Great Chief Kujakur? Does any army have Champions as fierce as those who stand here? Do any races or kingdoms command hordes as bloody as ours? No!

So first, let us remember why it is that we are strongest, why it is that we are supreme.

First, we are Orc! In the First Age, when time began, the Always-Chiefs said that Orcs should conquer all. They knew that Orcs are strongest, that Orcs are born to fight and kill, that Orcs will make slaves and rule. It is in our blood to be strongest!

The Pirate Kings of the middle sea, or the peasant Kings of Virten, are they so strong? No! Humans scheme and plot, ride horses so that they can run away, that weave pretty cloths to wear at quiet feasts, sing stupid love songs, learn useless arts. How can such weak creatures stand against us! We do not scheme, but fight. We charge to battle, we do not flee. We wear the hides of beasts that we have killed ourselves. How much stronger are we!

Second, it is not enough that we are Orcs. More, we do not forget that we are Orcs! We remember how to be Orcs! In the First Age, the Always-Chiefs said that Orcs should fight all and rule all. We know this! We roar for this!

The Kartur-Hhakrall, they think that it is their place to serve! They hear of the First Age, and think that the Always-Chiefs want them to snivel and fawn before people they should crush! They have made themselves slaves to humans! You, here, are you stronger than slaves? Yes! Then you are stronger than the Kartur-Hhakrall. You know how to be true Orcs!

The southern Orcs, too. They forget the stories of the First Age. They forget that they should serve great chiefs. Is a fist stronger than a finger? Yes! Is an army stronger than one warrior? Yes! Is a fist stronger when it hangs idle, or when a clever mind commands it? It is so with us. While the southern Orcs fight in little groups, we come together to like a great fist. And we fight at the command of the greatest chief in any land – Kujakur!

But there is one more reason why we are strongest. And it is this! It is because we were so low! Who here, in this hall, was not beaten as a child? We all were! And we are stronger for it! We learned to take pain, and we learned to hate, and we learned to hit back harder. How many scars do we all have, from a battle where a foe was quicker, or used a new move? Many scars! And for each scar we learned a lesson. We learned to be quicker. We learned new moves to watch for. We learned to train harder.

So it is! Anyone who is knocked down will stand more firm when he gets up! Any who is beaten, will hit back with great rage! And we, through the Second Age, we, mighty warriors, were slaves! We were slaves to Elf Wizards!

Other tribes, other people, they say that the Sundering was very bad. They weep that so many died. Pathetic! There is always death! For us, the Sundering made us free! We were freed from slavery, to rise, and rule, and fight, and slaughter or enslave any who dare face us!

Broken Lands Faction: The Pirate Kings

From the journal of Barnard of Shelton, master trader in the employ of the Illyria Trade Council, recording his journeys to the Broken Lands.

I was welcomed in Belgorrian with trumpets blaring, a rich carpet rolled out on the dock to great me, and rows of men-at-arms lining my procession to the royal palace. There was a formal presentation to King Ulharadd in his throne room, and then a great feast in the evening.

This, I thought, is a pirate city? I had expected rough cut-throats, carousing in stinking taverns, making threats upon my life. But instead I was being wined and dined in royal style, treated to a display of courtly splendour and shown every respect.

The following day I rode out to hunt with Ulharadd and some of his courtiers.

“We are the true Warrior-Kings of these lands,” he assured me. “Our wealth, it is true, often comes from plunder. But raiding is a traditional noble pass time, a source of wealth and honour, and a training for war. People call us pirates, because we prey upon ships that will not bow before us and offer us due payments. In much the same way land-locked nobles will extract loot from subjects who refuse to bow to them and pay taxes. Are the world’s nobles all bandits? Only then are we pirates.”

Ulharadd’s views of other local rulers was not entirely complementary. He had the highest praise for Ramoar, Surriem and Azoash, the other three so-called Pirate Kings, with whom he is closely allied. But he was dismissive of the Kings of Virten, who he mocked as “commoners without breeding, training or experience, raised above their abilities to rule, unable to cope, reliant upon the College of Silence to secure their election and then twice as reliant on the College’s advisers and spies in order to rule.” In other words, the Kings of the west were, in his view, incompetent puppets, manipulated by the College. For the New Light he had even less kind words, dismissing them as power-mad maniacs. And when I asked about the Drek-Hhakrall he only laughed.

“We have no enmity to these people,” he shrugged, “but we do not pretend that they true kings, such as ourselves.”

Ulharadd explained that his own lands were ruled by men trained for war, taught from birth how to rule, and supported by families with experience in combat, administration and leadership. They were, he said, as any good nobles should be, an elite, superior in breeding and training, ruling over those less capable.

What was unusual, he conceded, that he and his fellow kings laid claim not only to land but also to water – specifically to all the waters around their islands, north as far as the jungle and south to the icy shores. Then he said that he hoped that the Illyria Trade Council would soon become some of his most honoured water-borne subjects – that we would bow to his throne, accept the protection of his fleet, and pay him royally.

The court was spectacular. The food, the entertainments, the quality of courtesy and conversation, the discipline of the troops and the fortifications of the city were all of the highest standard.

But such trappings do not disguise that rulers who blackmail and prey upon honest trade ships are nothing but pirates, and are the enemies of all honest merchants.


Broken Lands Faction: Cult of the Black Oak

The last words of Guldran, called The True Whisperer, Third High Priest of the Cult of the Black Oak, before his execution by order of the New King.

You fools you liars you deaf and blind!

Your life is a gift and you do not care you were saved above millions and you do not care you have your life through their power and only through their power because you stand upon the land that they they held firm when mountains fell!

You call me monster you call me mad you call me and forget and do not listen to yourself you fools you liars!

This is your funeral but you do not dance!

This is your birth but you do not scream!

They hold us all and held us all and do not care because nothing cares and nobody cares!

The bird who eats the maggot who eats the dead bird who had eaten maggots or the rain that falls or the child who eats the flesh that was bought by the gold paid to this executioner standing here nobody cares and it does not care and there is no caring for not caring!

There is truth and there is power and I know and I have seen and if you were with my brethren you would see and hear and know but here I stand and scream what you cannot hear and draw from my heart the pain of truth of joy of so call me call me call me what you will and do not listen and do not see and do not hear and do not learn that I have seen and known and you are blind and know nothing but you are fleshy puppets who dance at your own wakes but cannot see your own corpse lying there and rotting as you dance above!

You are blessed and you turn away and you could have knowledge but you stuff up your minds and you could hear truth but you refuse to hear but rather pay this man to kill because you say I should not kill so swing my executioner swing swing your axe and a thousand brethren will dance as I have danced and all the blood you shed cannot save the blood that will be shed so call me call me call me as I call them call them call them and now swing and swing and swing at once!

Broken Lands Faction: Houergertt

From the Teachings of Urgrukt the Blind, first High Priest of the Kartur-Hhakrall.

Pilgrim asked: “How now shall we deal with that last tower of the Order of Silver Light, the Tower of Houergertt?”

Urgrukut answered: “First, ask yourself, what could you do.”

Pilgrim remained silent, and thought.

Urgrukut frowned: “You are Orc! Long thinking is for Elves and cripples. Your heart knows what you should do. When I ask what could you do, let your heart answer!”

Pilgrim asked: “My heart says fight! Is that right?”

Urgrukut answered: “Of course! You are Orc! So how can you fight, and how can you not?”

Pilgrim replied: “I would fight its champion. But it has no champion. I would scale its walls. But they are enchanted. I would kill its lord. But he is dead. I would battle its armies. But they cannot be killed.”

Urgrukut answered: “You say you cannot scale the walls. This is true. No siege engine can scratch them. Curses slay those who climb over them. But you are Orc! If your foe is more skilled that you, you train harder. If your foe has bigger armies, you win more allies. If you want to defeat an enemy, you will always find a way. You are Orc!”

Pilgrim asked: “Is this what I should do? Should I build bigger siege engines? Should I find other wizards to overcome his curses?”

Urgrukut answered: “You could. But why? To break into the castle of a man already dead? There is no glory there, no slaves to be won. It is an empty battle.”

Pilgrim asked: “Should I fight his armies? Each day they return! They cannot be defeated!”

Urgrukut answered: “You are an Orc! Your heart hurts if you cannot fight. Great glory is had in defeating a champion. In blood and pain you find joy. Now, here, the dead wizard’s enchantments provide you endless enemies! Sometimes there will be better battles. Sometimes you will have wars where you can take slaves, win gold, earn glory for your King. But here, always, there is an enemy who will face you. And you want to defeat champions? What greater champions than those who cannot really be slain!”

Pilgrim asked: “So this is what I should do? I should fight?”

Urgrukut answered: “Yes! At times of peace when there is no worthier fight. When you are at full strength and your heart is restless. When your warleaders are bellowing for blood. When your warriors are growing fat or lazy. Then, here, there is an enemy that you can fight. But that is not the first thing that you should do. First, you should give thanks! The Always-Chiefs laid down at the start of time that you should fight. And in your heart your long for war. And here, this dead mage has made it so! Give thanks that this wizard has given you these foes to fight. So, the New King may build a kingdom in peace, and you may serve him with honour, and yet, as the Always-Chiefs demand and as your heart desires, you will always be able to fight!”

Broken Lands Faction: Kartur-Hhakrall

From the Teachings of Urgrukt the Blind, first High Priest of the Kartur-Hhakrall.

Pilgrim asked: “What is best for Orcs? We do what we want? We kill? We hunt? What?”

Urgrukut answered: “Here, you ask me, because I am wiser. In war, the warrior asks the champion, because champion is stronger. In the forge, the young maker asks the master maker. In all things, ask the better, and they will teach. In great issues, ask the greatest. Ask the Always-Chiefs, who are elders to all, who are stronger than all, who are wiser than all, who came before all.”

Pilgrim asked: “The Always-Chiefs. What do they want?”

Urgrukut answered: “All Orcs, in all lands, know the stories of the First Age. There were four champions. The greatest was called Orc. He founded our race. He asked the Always-Chiefs what he should do. They said he should fight to make slaves of all the lands.”

Pilgrim asked: “So we should fight? Or we should make slaves? Which is greater?”

Urgrukut answered: “All Orcs know that it is good fight. It is in our blood. We are born knowing it. Great Orcs learn that it is good to make slaves. When a champion first sees slaves bow before him, slaves he has won in blood, then he learns, in his heart, that this is the greatest thing, greater than killing, greater than fighting. So to win slaves is greater, but cannot be without fighting. Many Orcs have learned this. But it is not the greatest thing.”

Pilgrim asked: “So what is the greatest thing?”

Urgrukut asked: “To get his answer, what did Orc do?”

Pilgrim answered: “He asked the Always-Chiefs. He asked those greater.”

Urgrukt said: “He could have no answers without asking those greater. He had no-one to fight for, without serving those greater. It is easy to know that we must fight. It is easy to learn that we should have slaves. Many Orcs understand that. But when Orcs understand no more, when they forget that they must serve, then all Illyria pays the price.”

Pilgrim asked: “So who should we serve? The Always-Chiefs?”

Urgrukut answered: “In your heart, always serve the Always-Chiefs. But the Always-Chiefs have left Illyria. So you must find a mortal master.”

Pilgrim asked: “The priests serve the Always-Chiefs, and hold the secrets of the Always-Chiefs. So should I serve the priests?”

Urgrukut answered: “The priests are just Orcs, like you. Wiser, but not your lords. Do not trust a priest who wants to be your lord. Trust a priest who would be a priest, and find a lord who is the greatest lord.”

Pilgrim asked: “Who, then, should I serve? Who is the greatest lord?”

Urgrukut answered: “Orcs are the greatest warriors. But we are not good at the things a great lord must do. It is in our blood to fight and make slaves. Great lords must build, and maintain.”

Pilgrim asked: “In the Second Age, Orc warriors fought for the Order of the Silver Light. I should find lords like the Order?”

Urgrukut answered: “The wizards of the Silver Light were not great lords. They tried to make slaves, but they were not Orcs, so they were bad at it. When their slaves rebelled, they did what no Orc should do, they destroyed all that they had, wasted all that they had, killed their servants and slaves as well as their enemies. These are not things that a great lord would do. Only serve the greatest lords.”

Pilgrim asked: “So who, then, should I serve?”

Urgrukut answered: “You should serve the New King, raised up by the humans. Of course the humans are weaker, descended from weaker fathers, and birthing weaker children, and so are not as great in war as you. But they are better at the things that a ruler needs to do. They can build, and they can maintain. So, you should be the greatest warrior. But you should serve the greatest lord.”

Pilgrim thought long, and then asked: “What if the New King of the humans is a bad lord? What if he is stupid and destroys those who serve him, like the Silver Light?”

Urgrukut smiled: “Be sure that the New King knows that you are the mightiest, that he fears you and admires you. Be sure that he knows you are loyal. But be sure he knows you will destroy him if he is not the best that he can be. Then he will make sure he is the best ruler that he can be! This is what it is to be an Orc. Be the greatest warrior. Win many victories. Make many slaves. And through your strength, be sure that the lord of the lands is the best lord for the lands!”


Broken Lands Faction: Tears Eternal

From the journal of Barnard of Shelton, master trader in the employ of the Illyria Trade Council, recording his journeys to the Broken Lands.

A visit to these Elves is first perplexing, and then depressing.

They have no collective name. Other groupings in these lands have names, as most sensible people will – the Kartur-Hhakrall, the New Light, and so on – but not here. If one asks ho they are, they simply say “We weep.”

Common courtesy is similarly confounded. In most lands I might say “How are you?” and receive the polite, meaningless response “Fine, thank you.” But not here. Here the polite response is to pause, smile knowingly, nod, and reply, “I weep.”

Their public events, too, are infected with this mawkishness. Other peoples might have parades, or carnivals, or feasts, or present plays or rituals. But here they simply get together to be quietly miserable. For an really important ceremony, I’m told, the most admired of their holy men and women will get together and sob silently for days on end.

At first this is just bizarre. But after a while it gets to you. To spend all day surrounded by joyless, somber Elves, who stalk about with their eyes cast down, never laughing, to walk streets where even children do not play or laugh, where long flute solos or vocal laments drift through the air from each dour tavern, this is just depressing. I truly wish that I would hear at least one song that is not about the horror of the Sundering or the futility of life or our alienation from the divine.

Clearly I am not the only one who is affected by this maudlin atmosphere. I found a human trader, who has lived here for seven years, and he has certainly suffered for it. I asked him, hoping for some glimmer of cheer, how he has found his time here.

“I lost my love of life in the first year,” he told me, sounding as miserable as anyone I’ve ever spoken to. “Then I stopped seeing any purpose in work, and because I stopped bothering I lost my business in the third year. Then I spent two years living on the street as a beggar. But now, well, now I understand.”

Today I became so exasperated that I almost shouted at one local, “But the Sundering was five hundred years ago!” She just looked at me with pity, as one might look at an idiot child, and said softly, “no, it is every day.”