V'nbaarrgh's Deceit

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V'nbaarrgh of the Darkpines
In the great forest called the North Grove by the Elves, and the Darkpines by the Orcs, at the time when the The Great Strife was just beginning, there once lived a tribe of Orcs led by a warrior named V'nbaarrgh. Today, V'nbaarrgh's memory is honored by Orcs all over Cartyrion, as he was the warrior who maintained the honor and greatness of the Orcs even as most of their number were defeated and destroyed in the god-war. But this achievement required that V'nbaarrgh make decisions that troubled him greatly and made him question his worthiness to lead. There was great dishonor in his behavior, hidden from his people by deceit that, to him, represented even more dishonor. This is V'nbaarrgh's tale.

Early Life and Rise to Leadership

V'nbaarrgh's early life was that of any Orc warrior living in the Darkpines. He learned to hunt alone and in small groups. He fought with his tribe when rivals threatened their territories. He listened to the shamans and the old ones tell the tales of the tribe's past while sitting around the fires at night. He paid attention to those stories more than the others his age, though, and was sometimes ridiculed for it. V'nbaarrgh would only snarl back, for he was sure that the past had much wisdom to give.

V'nbaarrgh's tribe, like other orc bands in the forests and surrounding lands, had several shamans, each dedicated to one of the Orokar gods. Most young warriors dedicated their hunts to Ghaa’raagh the Render, the god of war and of the hunt. V'nbaarrgh did as well, but he was one of very few who also dedicated much of his other activity to Mhaaggh’maacch, derisively called "the Soft" by most of the tribe's warriors, but known as "the Shrewd" to those with wisdom. Mhaaggh'maacch taught his shamans that sometimes, violent response was not the best response to an adverse situation. Sometimes, thought, planning, and cunning were the solutions. After all, was not the fox just as successful as the bear when hunting prey?

It was on a hunting expedition to the southern edge of the forest that Mhaaggh'maacch's teaching raised V'nbaarrgh's status in the tribe. Leaving the forest, the orcs encountered a great herd of bison. The ancient tales told of when the orcs lived on the plains and hunted these beasts - with skills and techniques much different than those used to bring down a lone boar, elk, or bear in the forest. A rival tribe had also come to hunt in the plains, and was also eyeing the herd. V'nbaarrgh's party wanted to first attack the rivals, then wade into the herd to make their kills, but V'nbaarrgh would not let them.

In fact, he had his party retreat to the forest edge. At first they derided his cowardice, but as they watched the rival hunting party get trampled by the many bulls of the huge herd, they realized that V'nbaarrgh was right to wait. "You listened to all the old stories... how do we fight so many?" they asked. "With guile", was his reply. After the rivals were dispatched, and the herd calm once more, V'nbaarrgh led his party in a move that drove away most of the herd whild isolating a few cows in a circle they formed. V'nbaarrgh then gave the word to kill the encircled few, which was done quickly. Then, as the bulls of the herd reacted to the cries of the cows being slaughtered, he had his party retreat to the trees once more to avoid being stampeded. This they did; the bulls did not follow them into the forest, and after a short while they were able to return to their kills and claim their rewards.

V'nbaarrgh led several more hunts like this, and as a result his tribe was well provisioned for the coming winter. And when the tribal leader died near the end of the winter, the tribe elected V'nbaarrgh to replace him.

Decision and Deceit

A few years later, the Great Strife came to Cartyrion. And as Ghaa'raagh the Render was the principle antagonist responsible for the war among the gods, most of the Orcs found themselves aligning with his cause against the "soft ones": the Elves, Dwarves, and Humans that stood behind their gods in opposition. A "Great Horde" of Orcs was forming in the Darkpines, gathering all the tribes together to create a great force that would take on the Humans in their kingdoms to the east. But V'nbaarrgh, guided by his friend and confidant, the Shaman of Mhaagh'maacch, had a deep-seated feeling that the Orcs would not win this fight, and that joining the Horde would be the end of his tribe.

So V'nbaarrgh, with the aid of his shaman confidant, devised another course of action. He would lead his tribe out of the forest, through the plains in the South, and into the Basin Desert. They would avoid being pulled into the Horde, and they would thus survive the ordeal that the world was entering into. But he knew he could not tell his tribe that they were simply running away - Orc sensibilities would never stand for such cowardice. And so, he and the shaman devised a lie. V'nbaarrgh's entire tribe must go into the desert to locate and claim a great prize: a Greataxe that would guarantee the Orcs, with V'nbaarrggh at their head, would plow through their enemies like a boar charges through the forest.

As the tribe made its journey, the other shamans began to raise complaints. They claimed their gods were asking why the tribe was running away and not fighting their enemies. But then, one by one, these shamans started meeting untimely demises in the desert. One died from a scorpion sting, another from a venomous sandsnake. A third from tainted water. V'nbaarrgh knew that all of these were engineered by his own shaman confidant, but he told the tribe that this was simply the gods showing their approval of his plan by silencing those that would speak out against it.

V'nbaarrgh led his tribe into and around the Basin Desert for many years. He claimed repeatedly that as long as there was doubt in the tribe, the gods would not grant them their reward. All the while, V'nbaarrgh worried though. There was no "Greataxe", after all... he had contrived it to get the tribe out of harm's way. Sooner or later his deceit would come crashing down around him and all would be for naught. It was then that Maaggh'maacch provided the solution.
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V'nbaarrgh with his Greataxe
Through his shaman, he instructed V'nbaarrgh to seek out three tall stones standing apart from all others in the desert. After weeks of searching, the tribe came across this sight - and nestled in the gap between two of the stones there stood a Greataxe. Huge, with a blade of adamantite decorated in bronze and gold, with a skull-shaped pommel and glowing red lines of force shimmering in grooves along the haft, it was a weapon that impressed every member of the tribe.

As V'nbaarrgh held it aloft, the shaman began to speak. He had been visited by Mhaaggh'maacch, and he told the tribe their destiny was to be the salvation of all Orcs. But to do this, they would have to fight against their kin, for those that followed Ghaa’raagh the Render were doomed to failure. By trying to capture glories from the past, they were sacrificing their future. If they did not do this, the shaman proclaimed, there would be no Orcs left to sing the songs and tell the tales.

Legacy

Though already sixty years of age - old for an Orc, V'nbaarrgh led his tribe north out of the desert and into the mountains where battles were raging between Orcs and Humans. The Orcs knew of their approach, but thought nothing of it until V'nbaarrgh's warriors slashed into their flanks and cut their way to the southern edge of the battlefront. Messages were exchanged with the combined army of Elves, Dwarves, and Humans that were fighting the Orcs to assure them of their alliance. The arrival of V'nbaarrgh had an effect on the other tribes in the Horde as well. Battle had not been going well, and many now left the horde to join V'nbaarrgh. (Shamans of Mhaaggh'maacch certainly had much to do with this.) And while battles raged on for many more years, eventually the Horde of Ghaa’raagh the Render was defeated.

V'nbaarrgh did not live to see this; he died in battle shortly after sealing the alliance with the armies of those arrayed against Ghaa'raagh's forces. And it is said that before he died, he admitted to his Shaman that he ever regretted having to lead his tribe in running away from a battle, and did so with deceit.

But his leadership was never forgotten. To this day, the leader of his tribe wields the GreatAxe as a symbol of authority. The Orcs now tell tales of the great one who valued the glory of the Orcs over his own personal honor and glory - claiming that this was in fact the greatest bravery possible. And after the Great Strife ended, when the sages of the world assembled to make sense of the night sky that was reordered by the Astralar after the battles were done, one of the constellations in the night sky was named for V'nbaarrgh and his Greataxe, so that all of Cartyrion would remember the bravery of one Orc who stood against many tribes - an Orc williing to put aside personal honor and glory.put up with accusations of deceit and cowardice in order to fulfill a plan that would elevate his people.

Credits

V'nbaarrgh images made by RPGDinosaurBob using Hero Forge

Banner image by Pexels from Pixabay

Page background cathedral Image by 5163451 on Pixabay
Page background manor house image by Josef Pichler on Pixabay
Page background hut image by PamelaAndrey15 on Pixabay
Page background forest image by Waldkunst on Pixabay
Character portraits by RPGDinosaurBob on Hero Forge®

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