grasha

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…)

Advertisements

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…)

Agrat the Wanderer

Another Blackskull tale, this time about Agrat’s namesake. I plucked this out of the longer narrative to share online. This is another one that I should have included more about what the legendary Agrat actually did during his time a-wanderin’, but as I wrote it, I worried it would distract from the rest of the narrative too much.

For context, Agrat here has just come out to his mother, Grasha, about being transgender. He wasn’t certain whether she’d take his feelings seriously, so he’s feeling pretty ashamed and embarrassed about himself. Both of them were exiled from the Blackskulls, Grasha’s tribe, because the Blackskulls carry some nasty cultural beliefs about racial purity, and Agrat’s a half-breed. For all their faults, I still enjoy writing about the Blackskulls and who they are as a people

Originally Posted: September 28, 2016
Word Count: ~1600
Rating: G
Warnings: None

“Come,” Grasha said, and opened her arms. Agrat stared at her a moment, then crawled up to her. She hugged him tightly. “I should have seen this long ago. You are my son, Re—no, you need a different name. Do you have one in mind?” He widened his eyes.

Just like that? So easily?

His mind spun a bit before he thought back to his dreams and fantasies. He’d tried on a few different names and none really fit him perfectly, but one cropped up a little more frequently.

“Helmun,” he said. Grasha stared at him and rolled her eyes.

“That’s a human name,” she said. “You’re more orc than human, kaluk.” Agrat set his jaw forward.

“I’m half, though,” he said.

“You’ll figure it out someday. And either way, orc names are better,” she said and grinned.

(more…)