Updated About & Character Page Added!

Hello all!

I realized it may be helpful to have more general information about Veiadokuur, its people, and the main characters here, since as of now, much of what I’ve shared is bits and pieces or short stories. That said, I updated my About page to have a little more background about the story, and added a Characters page with all the major players.

Thank you for reading! I appreciate your support more than you know!

Marc

Grasha, Outsider, pt. 2

Grasha’s frustration with the response of her tribal leaders to the ever-deadlier war in Veiadokuur only worsens with time. But she’s only a scout and a lowly, former-exile. Her words carry little sway, and the Blackskulls only tolerate her presence. It takes a horrible event before anything is actually done about the growing, inevitable conflict.

In this short story, I wanted to learn more about Grasha’s family dynamics and who she is as a person. I also wanted to explore the Blackskulls and the Seers of Geldorg, and figure out more about the human-instigated war in the region. She’s quickly become one of my favorite side characters in this, and she’s arguably the most badass character I’ve ever written.

So, here’s the conclusion. Again, it’s a longer chunk, but that’s to keep the natural divide feel more, well, natural. Thanks as always for reading, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Word Count: ~5500
Rating: PG
Warnings: Descriptions of violence and gore, plus brief sexist language.

During the coming years, a handful of messengers from the Seers approached the Blackskulls for help again. Each time, the answer remained the same: No.

Word spread in the tribe. Grasha made no secret of her views, if anyone cared to ask. And gradually, Bentrar learned to drop his political politeness, and spoke to his trainees and followers about the war in the rest of the region. The news they heard from any outsiders they spoke to only worsened. The human army grew ever powerful as time passed. The most recent news told them that Thelary’s Knightly Order joined the Helotak army in the east. It sent a wave of unease and concern through the tribe. Letho addressed the change by reassuring the Blackskulls that nothing about this concerned them, that they need only to continue about their days as usual without worrying. They had, after all, negotiated with the Order before, and came to peacefully agreements.

The Blackskulls had settled in the northernmost part of their territory, not far from the base of the Impassable Heights, when the Knights contacted them. They sent a single messenger, as they always did. Letho spoke to him promptly. That day, Grasha stood guard outside the meeting tent. It was cold out and her mood soured fast, only to worsen when she saw the young human in his overly-decorated armor. She scowled at him as he entered, but said nothing.

The messenger relayed a question and a request to Letho: What was the pool of magic energy guarded so fiercely to the north, and would they meet with a group of Knights to explain it?

(more…)

Grasha, Outsider, pt. 1

Grasha, Agrat’s mother, changes a lot through the narrative. I wouldn’t describe her as naive to begin with, but she is trusting, and she fundamentally doesn’t know much about the world around her. And how could she? The Blackskulls simply don’t interact much with outsiders. After her exile, she gains new experiences that question her tribe’s practices. As she ages, her bitterness and regret start to really eat at her, especially in old age as Veiadokuur becomes more and more unstable. But she’s headstrong and stubborn. It’s probably a gene the Uthordars pass down.

In this short story, I wanted to learn more about Grasha’s family dynamics and who she is as a person. I also wanted to explore the Blackskulls and the Seers of Geldorg, and figure out more about the human-instigated war in the region. She’s quickly become one of my favorite side characters in this, and she’s arguably the most badass character I’ve ever written.

This’s a long one at about 11,100 words. I was tempted to break it up into three parts for ease of reading, but there was a natural break in the narrative that made splitting it into two parts feel more natural. The second half will be posted on Friday. As always, thank you for reading!

Word Count: ~6700
Rating: PG
Warnings: Descriptions of gore and some brief sexist language.

Lukal, born and raised in the northwest quadrant of Veiadokuur, had never seen such a massive sky. Growing up in Kilverud territory, surrounded by mountains, made for a sky more like a ceiling. It existed only over your head, with snowy peaks to hold it up and keep it there. But here, she looked left, or right, or ahead and behind, and there was sky. Clear blueness, dotted with sickly, white clouds. Like a dome decorated with paint. It left her feeling claustrophobic. All this open, flat space with no true boundaries or landmarks overwhelmed her. She wondered how the Blackskulls made and traveled that territory.

And it was that tribe that caused the other part of her anxiety. She’d heard the stories—everyone had. Humans might see orcs as a conglomerate of savage, cruel people, but orcs new better. Only the Blackskulls fit that bill. They were isolationists, and completely self-sufficient. Arrogant. Hateful. They believed themselves “true orcs,” and that all others were mistakes of the gods. Tales of Blackskulls killing outsiders on the spot, or leaving unworthy infants in the wild, or beating “blood traitors” to death made up Lukal’s complete knowledge of them. Her heart beat faster than her horse’s hooves. She was terrified. Who wouldn’t be The one rule most every orc knew was that the Blackskulls were bad news; a scourge to be avoided.

But these days, desperation dictated their decisions. Willowleaf’s genocidal army marched on without any signs of slowing. Rumors of young mages being used in the south spread around. The Seers needed help. They knew that the Blackskulls, legendary horse tamers and breeders, commanded a superb cavalry. Their warriors on horseback outnumbered and outranked the human army’s mounted soldiers by a landslide. Having them fighting with the Seers could erode the onslaught, and slow it to a halt.

So the Seers sent her, Lukal, as a courier to the Blackskulls. Her mission—to convince the Blackskulls to fight alongside the Seers—made for a heavy burden.

(more…)

Birth of the Thunderjaws

Another legendary tale, this time about a new orc tribe–the Thunderjaws. Like the Blackskulls, they live a rather isolated existence, but they pride themselves on their elven-orcish heritage. This is about their progenitor, Kunol–an elf adopted by the powerful Kilverud mountain orcs during a peak in the Long War. For this one, I wanted to experiment with the idea of the narrator addressing the reader, who is assumed to be part of the narrator’s culture. I’m not certain how successful I was on that front, but it was fun to write. The other thing I wanted to try out was making a character whose destiny is directly influenced by the gods.

Like most mythological tales, there’s always a nugget of truth somewhere in there. Besides writing about a hero, I also wanted to write more about the angels/demons that once wracked Veiadokuur to explore what they were capable of, what sort of forms they took, and so on. This one was mainly inspired by Nago from Princess Mononoke, but with less goop.

Originally Posted: January 25, 2017
Word Count: ~8500
Rating: G
Warnings: None

Many years before Fal’raikath’s birth and even the founding of the Thunderjaw tribe, a family of two elves wandered along the coast. They fled from a terrible enemy, a demon that ravaged their woods and blighted it for years to come. It tore through the homes carved into their great trees and made their trunks wither away until they collapsed into each other. It killed the ground too—made it dry, dusty, and impossible for sustaining plants and flowers. It drank the river that ran through their woods until nothing was left but dirt and pebbles and the skeletons of small fish. Everything dead, they had no choice but to escape while they still could.

As they looked for a new home, they lost themselves in a mountainous stretch of Veiadokuur. They wandered through rocky crevasses and high cliffs, but found nothing suitable for settlement. Weeks passed and their supplies—what little they could carry when they left—ran out.

Now, listener, please keep something in mind before I tell you what happened to this family. Elves, like orcs, valued family above all. Also like us, elves were practical and knew that sometimes, to survive, people had to make great sacrifices. These elves were not cruel nor heartless, nor selfish or greedy. They were dying. They were desperate. And, these two carried an additional burden beyond their own lives: An infant. (more…)

Tabris, Dokurokol, and the Life Gem, pt. 2

The conclusion to Tabris’ and Dokurokol’s search for the Life Gem. I wanna write more about underground adventures, and hobgoblins in general. They exist mostly on the periphery, and they’re kinda too interesting to just shove to the side.

Read part one here.

Word Count: ~3200 (out of ~7200 total)
Rating: G
Warnings: None

Dokurokol stood on the docks of Thunderjaw Island with her travel supplies on her back. While the orcs prepared her ship to the mainland, she stared out at the open waters. Veiadokuur’s cold, snow-peaked mountains lounged in the distance, grey triangles in the misty weather. Beyond them, to the north, the Impassable Heights stood far taller. In this air, Dokurokol could not even discern their tops. Even the water looked murky without the sun’s warmth. Every other day, the waves carried a deep blue hue and reflected the clouds. Today, though, it all blended together. The horizon towards the open ocean went on forever, and only differing shades hinted at the existence of land masses.

“How long will you be out this time” her Kilverud captain, Varn, said. Old, retired, and seasoned beyond his years, he regularly traveled from Stoneheart City to take Dokurokol to the mainland. He offered her a puff of his pipe, but she politely refused this time.

“It’ll be a long one this time, Varn,” she said. “If I’m not back I six months, stop waiting for me.” He looked down at her, pulling his lips to the side.

“You’re thinking this’ll be your last one?” he said. “You’re ready for that?”

“Indeed,” she said and nodded. “But I don’t anticipate that I’ll die. I’ll just be adventuring further into the mainland if I find what I want.”

“And if you don’t?” Varn said. Dokurokol smiled. Waves lapped against the shore and the wind rustled the leaves in the forests behind them. They heard footsteps running down the docks, paired with clanking and rattling. The two turned and saw Tabris, looking like a mule as he struggled with a massive bag on his back.

“I’m coming!” he said as he approached. (more…)

Tabris, Dokurokol, and the Life Gem, pt. 1

A quick story exploring some side characters and events in my larger narrative about Veiadokuur. I loved writing about Tabris and Dokurokol’s interactions with each other. Figuring out how immortal characters navigate the world around them is also a lot of fun, especially if there’s some sort of trick to the reason why they cannot die.

Read part two here.

Word Count: ~4000 (out of ~7200 total)
Rating: G
Warnings: None

It took Tabris a moment to open his eyes. Even if he heard Dokurokol’s shout and felt her heavy footsteps coming down his staircase, he chose not to react. Half of his mind still felt the fern’s thin leaves curling up around and right through that part of his conscious. The brown, dry tips of the fern changed as wet greenness seeped back into it. What was dead lived once again. A gruff hand pestered his shoulder.

“Tabris, get up. Get out of that plant and listen to me, yeah?” Dokurokol spoke to him in Dwarvish, her native tongue. Still blinded, Tabris waved his fingertips over his plant. He latched onto his mind and reeled himself back from the fern, no that he’d completed healing it. Finally, he opened his eyes and looked up at Dokurokol. She faded into his vision first, then his concentration room, the deepest part of his home, appeared. Its smooth, stone walls without corners, low ceiling, and lack of windows made for a perfect isolation chamber. Somewhere he could move his soul around almost freely. He sat at his table, a long, narrow thing big enough for Thunderjaw orcs to lie down on. He healed them here, using his magic to take care of whatever ailed them. And most times, it could. When it couldn’t, he brewed medicine and catalysts for that.

“What is it now, Dok?” Tabris said when his vision returned to normal. Dokurokol stood squat in front of him, with only the fern to protect Tabris from her enthusiasm. She grinned past her thick, curly beard and mustache and held up a fat book in her square hands. The tome looked like her—short, dense, and bulky. All it needed was a shock of thinning orange hair and a beard to match, and a bulbous nose to top it off. Its creased cover even matched Dokurokol’s wrinkles. Unlike Tabris, she regularly left the Thunderjaw’s island, and aged because of it. She’d always been bitter about the “immortal with a catch” thing, and traveled to faraway places in the mainland against her better judgment.

“I’ve found proof,” she said, eyes sparkling like cut gemstones. (more…)

Rokag’s Departure, pt. 2

And the second part to Rokag’s leave. You know, despite this being like, 10k words long, it felt ridiculously quick to write. I had a lot of fun with it.

Read part one here.

Originally Posted: November 2, 2016
Word Count: ~5700 (out of ~10,200 total)
Rating: G
Warnings: None

It took a few hours, but Rokag eventually calmed down and went to work at her daily duties. Finn and Agrat also went to their own chores, and the three mostly stayed apart from each other until that evening. When she returned home for the night, Agrat and Finn were already sitting in the living room, next to each other on the couch. She sat across from them in a chair.

“So?” she said. Agrat scratched his head and Finn opened his palms.

“So y’ know—”

“Things haven’t—”

They glanced at each other and Agrat motioned for Finn to continue.

“Things haven’t always been easy for us,” he said. “I’m guessing you already know that we’ve done our fair share of wandering.”

“Right,” Rokag said. “Of course you did, since you traveled all th’ way here.”

“And it goes without saying that things get dangerous when you don’t really have a permanent home,” Finn said. “You know we moved here for a better life, since that wasn’t possible in Ettinsmoor. We didn’t get to actually settle down and stop for some time, and during that time we had some… difficult encounters.” She leaned sideways in the chair and rested her cheek against her knuckles.

“Well, just how difficult?” she said.

(more…)