The Orcish Horde is Located to the West of The Empire, rivaling it in size, composed mostly of Orcs, Drow, Hobgoblins, Goblins, and Ogres, as well as the newly introduced Catfolk.
They live mostly in mountains and none are more skilled at living and fighting in the snow as they. As a matter of fact, no nation is as good at war as them.
The Orcish Horde wasn't always so big, in fact it didn't used to be a horde at all. The Orcs lived in tribes and were in a never ending war with each other. War has always been tradition in the Orc's lives. Eventually one tribe began asserting dominance and began defeating tribes one by one. After each was defeated, the warriors would be killed, the women taken into the fold almost entirely by force, and the children indoctrinated. In this way this tribe was able to conquer tribe after tribe, while growing in number. In time the tribe became so great that others would come and join it. These tribes had their women forfeit, and their children taken from them, and their men put on the front lines, because the Orcs viewed these Orcs as cowardly, wanting to surrender instead of being conquered. In this way eventually all the Orc tribes were enveloped into this one tribe.
They then turned their attention to the surrounding races, enveloping them into the tribe. The rapid expansion of the Horde became a concern to the civilized nations of the world, and especially those near the Horde's lands.
The Orcish Horde is led by a leader known as the War Chief. The War Chief is always an Orc, and is always male. The War Chief's rule is absolute, and his word is law. He remains War Chief as long as he maintains his strength, with a successor only coming to topple the War Chief, usually due to his age.
Recently there has been one exception to the all male Orc rule. The War Chief was planning how to stop The Empire's advance when he began to hear commotion. He sent one of his men out to see what was going on, and he quickly returned telling the War Chief he had to see this with his own eyes. Leaving his tent he looked up to see dozens of dragons circling above him. A loud thunderclap was heard, and the War Chief was knocked back by the force of a lightning bolt that struck a few feet in front of him. He looked up to see a tall pale woman standing where the bolt struck. She looked at him and spoke with authority, "Tell your men they work for me now." The War Chief laughed and said, "I don't care how many dragons you have, or what magic you can preform. We are Orcs, and we will die before we ever serve an el..." before he could finish that sentence a Dragon landed and grabbed him with it's teeth and slammed him against the ground and smeared him across the floor, like a bug. The pale woman turned to those looking and said, "I hope no one else holds the same sentiment."
Several Dragons landed next to the pale woman, and as the Dragon began chewing on the former War Chief's corpse she addressed the crowd, "With me as your leader you will find great success, for I will turn your enemies into soldiers for you. You will fight along side dragons, and I promise you you will never have to fight another battle scared that fire will reign from the skies. Now I give that fear to your enemies. I give you this gift - you will never loose another battle, and The Empire's capital will fall, and it's Emperor will be dead by the next full moon. Tell me, will you fight with me?" The crowd roared, and with that a new War Chief was crowned.
Life in the Horde
From a young age all they know is war. Children are children of the Horde more than of their parents. They are raised to be soldiers, loyal to the Horde, strong and self-disciplined. It begins in infancy. When a baby is born, soldiers come to the house and examine it carefully to determine its strength.The baby is bathed in wine rather than water, to see its reaction. If a baby was weak, the Orcs expose it on the hillside or take it away to become a slave (helot). Infanticide may be common in some cultures, but the Orcish Horde is particularly picky about their children. It was not just a matter of the family, the Horde decided the fate of the child. Nurses had the primary care of the baby and did not coddle it.
Soldiers take the boys from their mothers at age 7, house them in a dormitory with other boys and train them as soldiers. The mother's softening influence is considered detrimental to a boy's education. The boys endure harsh physical discipline and deprivation to make them strong. They march without shoes and go without food. They learn to fight, endure pain and survive through their wits. The older boys willingly participate in beating the younger boys to toughen them. Self-denial, simplicity, the warrior code, and loyalty to the Horde governs their lives.
At the age of 20 or so, they have to pass a rigorous test to graduate and become full citizens. Only the soldiers receive the aristocratic citizenship. If they fail their tests they can not become citizens, but instead become perioeci, the middle class. So to some extent class is based on merit rather than birth.
If the young men pass, they continue to live in the barracks and train as soldiers but are required to marry to produce new young Spartans. The Horde gives them a piece of land which is farmed by slaves and which they do nothing to tend. The income provide for their support so they can remain full-time soldiers. At the age of 30 they are allowed to live with their families, but continue to train until the age of 60 when they retire from military service.
Girls also are removed from the home at 7 and are sent to school. Here they learn wrestling, gymnastics, were taught to fight, and endure other physical training. The Horde believes that strong mothers produced strong children. Young women even compete at athletic events.
If they passed their citizen tests, they are assigned a husband. Because this did not happen until they are 18-20, they are more emotionally mature when they marry and are closer to the age of their husbands.
Men and women do not live together, but meet occasionally for procreation. Women enjoy much greater freedom and independence in the Horde than in other nations. Because mothers have little responsibility for the care of their children, they are not as tied to the home as most other nations' women are. They are allowed to walk abroad in the city and transact their own affairs. They own their own property, and their husbands are only a minor part of their lives, and except in matters relating to the military are generally their own masters.
War with The Empire
As the Orcish Horde began expanding more and more many nations took notice. The Empire, being the closest became very concerned. With little debate Arcturus preemptively declared war in an attempt to maximize on the Horde's divided attention, as they were expanding on multiple fronts at once. The Empire underestimated the fighting capabilities of the Horde and their blitzkrieg warfare failed rather miserably. With the surprise gone, the Horde turned many of it's resources towards The Empire front.
After several years the Horde has reduced the number of fronts they are waging war on, and with each front closed came another conquered race included into the Horde, and thus more and more varied troops to send at The Empire. This helps the Horde immensely as every time The Empire learns to fight against the Horde's tactics, new races and tactics are introduced.
Though The Empire has advantages of their own, namely the Giants Valerian gained for his armies (see Kingdom of the Giants for more info.), and the Undead Dragon Riders. Some say that without the Riders the war would have been lost long ago.
Under Valerian Clockwork armies have been used against the Horde. At first this swung the tides of the war greatly in favor of The Empire, as missions which would result in catastrophic losses, but strategic gains, could now be undertaken. But the Horde knows only war from a young age, and they were not to be defeated so easily. The Horde was put in the defensive, and were slowly being pushed back into their territory, and continued to do so under Duke. With Duke's addition of a wider variety of Clockwork soldiers, it was expected that the war would end in victory for The Empire within his lifetime, with minimal loss of Imperial lives due to the Clockworks. That all changed
when the fire nation attacked when the Witch seized control of the Horde.
With their new War Chief and the Dragons she brought with her, the Horde began making unprecedented progress, and began winning decisive victory after decisive victory, quickly pushing towards Korhal. The Empire's own fighters would turn on their allies or themselves! The Witch's mastery of charm magic made the Clockworks the only way The Empire could hope to slow her advance. But even then the Witch could not be stopped. She would charm the siege engine's operators, and Clockworks would find themselves being pummeled by their own artillery. Dragons would come in and decimate the Clockwork soldiers as the armies of the Horde came in to clean up the rest. After a few terrible losses Duke ordered that all solider pull back to Korhal - and it was there that he'd make his final stand (see Edmund Duke for more info.).
Fall of Korhal
See The Empire for more info.
Induction of Catfolk
The Catfolk gained a great deal of respect from the Orcs when they helped take Korhal. The Witch saw great benefits to inducting them into the Horde and did so. She put them in charge of many operations that the Orcs had previously neglected including agricultural and city planning, as well as law enforcement. They were also put in charge of the Concentration Camps (see Seth, Jadis, and Auschwitz for more info.), and were most recently put in charge of the Asylum Initiative (see Blackford Asylum for more info.).
Though in charge of these and many more operations, the Catfolk are almost never the grunt workers, instead the other races of the Horde serve under the Catfolk. This has led to bitterness among the other races, and the Catfolk have quickly found themselves loosing their previously earned good will.
Catfolks in the Military
The Orcs remained in the high positions of the army, but some Catfolk that showed spirit during the Fall of Korhal or showed exemplary skills became warriors in the Horde. Generally they are split into three groups named in the traditional Catfolk tongue.
LonkoMeaning 'swiftly slow', the name signifies the combination of fast reflexes and attacks, with the slow death cause by the poison these fighters coat their weapons in.
Of the three kinds of warrior Catfolk, the Lonko have the most ties to the traditional Catfolk ways of war. Many choosing to wear traditional garb, these Catfolk often sport tribal paint along with trinkets displayed on their body, with the addition of leather armor to protect their vitals.
Mostly seen dual wielding daggers or shortswords Lonkos rarely strike with naked weapons, preferring to coat them with a vicious strength-sapping poison. These warriors draw upon their races agility swiftly striking their foes, applying the poison, then darting out of combat letting the poison weaken their foes before going in for the kill.
The Horde tends to use Lonkos to run special missions, instead of being on the front lines, but it is not very rare to come face-to-face with a Lonko in battle.
KikmongwiWhile Catfolk aren't known for their strength, a select few can be seen decked out in full plate-male, wielding greatswords and javelins. These Catfolk are known as Kikmongwi which means 'strength of the mountain'.
When the Catfolk began running the camps, and other operations within Korhal and it's surrounding territories, they found that any respect from the Orcs they gained by helping to topple Korhal, was quickly being lost. It was originally Seth's idea for some of the Catfolk to don plate-mail in order to show a front of strength to the Orcs, knowing that that was nearly the only thing they respected. Though this was a success, even the Catfolk that spent the most time training with these weapons and armor could not hold their own versus those with natural aptitudes for armored warfare.
As such you won't see Kikmongwi in the front lines, only within firmly established territories in a mostly cosmetic role within the S.S.
OnotioThere is no word in common that Onotio can be translated as. It most closely resembles the word 'elements', but more accurately carries the concept of 'earth, wind, and fire'.
After coming to power the Witch opened the eyes of many Catfolk, granting them the ability to cast magic. She originally began teaching them her unique brand of magic, but found that they could not pronounce the words of power with enough clarity due to their feline maws.
Instead teaching them traditional magic, they've spent the last fifteen years learning dark magic from her. As such few to none of them know very many positive spells, not even the lesser healing ones. The Witch explained that, "The more time you spend learning healing magic, the less time you spend on learning more powerful dark magic."
Not many Catfolk took to the magical arts, though there are considerably more Onotio than Kikmongwi and many serve in the Horde's army, as well as in the S.S.
Since it's only been the past fifteen years that the Catfolk have been learning magic, none are particularly powerful, though they have made significant progress due to their teacher's grasp on the subject. The Onotios are dark people, whether it was the darkness in their hearts that attracted them to the magic, or that the learning of the magic turned them dark is up for debate. Either way, the other Catfolks have found themselves keeping the company of Onotios less and less due to their darkness.
HandlerA precious few Catfolk were given the ability, by the Witch herself, to control a Kayla. Each handler only handles one Kayla, and if that handler dies the Kayla is unfettered and would kill all those around her. For this reason the Handlers are given bodyguards, and those bodyguards make sure to do their jobs well, lest a rogue Kayla is let loose. For some reason handlers are almost all females.
When Korhal was first conquered, the Handlers were sent out with Kaylas to accompany the Orcs to the edges of The Empire's territory to subdue the people there. When their goal was accomplished they returned to Korhal. Most recently they were used when Jack escaped Blackford to search the streets every night for him.