Nurlge’s Lesson

Nurlge’s Lesson

Fiction Friday’s back! But I’m taking a break from Ghets to share a little parody piece I wrote for a friend. The story is set in the Warhammer 40K universe, and involves the Chaos Space Marines, villains that are so evil and insane that I always have a hard time figuring out their motivation.

I hope you enjoy!

Photo is from my friend’s Warhammer 40K army


It was a beautiful day in Nurlge, the god of death and decay,’s garden. The pox walkers were a bloom with fresh tumors. Great Unclean ones were releasing sweet miasmas of putrid death, while the little nurglings were playing between rotting corpses and splashing in the bile which ran like water in Nurgle’s realm.

The great chaos god himself was playing with his new prize possessions a series of massive bronze bells. He rang each bell building to a crashing crescendo. After he finished he turned to Isha, the Eldar goddess of healing who he totally did not kidnap and asked.

“What do you think babe?”

Isha was lounging in her rusting cage and examining a new series of boils on her palm. “What?” She asked absentmindedly.

“Did you like the bells?” Nurgle said gesturing at the giant church bells. “That was a little song I wrote for you called, ‘Only You can cure my heart.’”

“Oh” Isha said with a long sigh, healing and smoothing out her skin. “They were a little tinny”

“Right,” Nurgle said frowning. He turned to his loyal Tally Man. “Tell the boys in the bell workshop they need to step it up on the next batch.”

“Yes my Lord,” The Tally man said dryly, jotting down a note in the large book he kept chained to him. “I will tell the lunatic cultist in our employe that they need to be more precise in their work.”

Nurgle nodded, “Thanks, Tally Man I can always count you.”

The Tally Man ignored the obvious pun and kept writing. “If you don’t mind me asking my lord, why are we making bells?”

Nurgle looked down at the Tally Man, “Why wouldn’t we?”

“Well my Lord,” The Tally Man began, “It’s just that you’re the chaos god of death and pestilence, I’m afraid I don’t see how the bells factor in.”

“Exactly Tally Man!” Nurgle said, “Chaos God. We’re crazy and sporadic!” Nurgle flayed his arms about, “We can’t be doing the same thing all the time, we got a change it up every now and then, and bells are my new thing, whole army is going to get them.”

Nurgle lent in, “But if anyone in the Imperium asks, just tell them we’ve always been into bells, got it?”

The Tally Man sighed, “Of course my Lord.” He returned to his book. “I can think of nothing more chaotic and out of the ordinary than adding bells to our forces as we continue to spread death and disease like we have for the last ten thousand years straight with absolutely no deviation whatsoever.”

Nurgle laughed, causing a swarm of flies to escape out his throat. “Now you’re getting it Tally man.”

Satisfied, Nurge was about to return to his bells when he saw one of his little plague marine buddies come running up.

“My Lord, my lord!” The Plague marine shouted, as he came to a halt before nurgle, coughing and panting.

“Hey what is it sport?” Nurgle said crouching down so he could converse with the damned.

“It’s Mortarion my lord, he–” The Plague Marine started, before coughing loudly, a wet, smacking sound echoing in his helmet.

“What was that?” Nurgle asked confused.

Mor-baron pe” The Plague Marine tilted his head confused, “Mby phounge, mby phounge bas botton”

Nurgle scratched his head, “Tally Man, you get what he’s saying?”

The Tally Man stepped forward and examined the Plague Marine. “It appears his tongue has rotten off my Lord.”

Nurgle groaned, “Oh for the love of me! Can someone grow this a kid tentacle in there or something? I don’t understand him at all.”

“I will see to it my lord.” The Tally Man said, “But while I do so, I think it’s best if you go see Mortarion, he has been…’acting up’, as of late.”

Nurgle nodded, “Good thinking,” He turned to Isha “Sorry honeypoo, Papa Nurgs has to go check on the kids,”

“Yeah, sure, whatever” Isha said ignoring Nurgle while she returned to her favorite hobby: filing down her cage bars.

Nurgle trotted through his garden leaving a barren trail of rot and death in his wake and stopped at Mortarion’s room. The door was closed and locked. A sign that read “NO DADs” with a crude drawing of a scowling Emperor and Nurgle was hung on it.

Nurgle sighed. He used to think the Emperor was a bad father, but that was before he had a primarch of his own. Raising kids was tough.

Nurgle knocked on the door, “Hey champ, heard you might be feeling kind of down?”

A muffled voice shouted, “Go away!”

Nurgle crouched next to the door. “Hey buddy, I’ll do that if that’s what you want, but maybe it’ll feel good to talk about it, huh?”

“You don’t want to talk, you just want me to go out and lead a Black Crusade against the Imperium.” Mortarion shouted between sniffles.

Nurgle felt his forehead, this again? “I just think you have all this potential and I’m worried you’re wasting it spending your time here in the Eye of Terror. The other chaos primarchs and their legions are out taking worlds and converting cultists to their gods.”

“That’s all you care about!” Mortarion shouted back, “Converts and corruption!”

“Oh Morty,” Nurgle said concerned, “You know that’s not true. I also care about death and pelistence, and you.”

“Then why did you give me fly wings?” Mortarion said, “All the other primarchs get cool raven wings or bat wings. I look like a dweeb.”

“Who called you a dweeb?” Nurgle said getting upset “Was it Angron? I’ll go over to Khorne’s place right now. That red faced bully has had it coming for a long time.”

“That’s not the point dad!” Mortarion said.

Nurgle took a deep breath, calming himself. “You’re right, you’re right. Now what’s so wrong with fly wings? Flies are our thing! You know with the rot and death and all that? I even got Plague bearers riding them. The fly wings mark you as my chosen, lean into the theme a little, son.”

“Oh yeah Dad? what about the bells? How did they fit into your ‘theme’” Mortarion spit back.

Nurgle groaned, “What does everyone have against the bells?”

“They’re stupid. Your whole crusade against the Imperium is stupid!” Mortarion said

“Hey now, watch it” Nurgle said pointing a finger at Mortarion’s door. “I brought you into this Eye of Terror turning you into an undying, zombie space marine and I can take you out!”

“Whatever, it’s not like you’re my real dad.” Mortarion said with a huff.

Nurgle bit his lip. He wasn’t the chaos god of anger, he needed to relax, “You’re right Morty, I’m not your real Dad. The emperor made you because…I’m not really sure, but he wanted you to lead, be a little version of himself. I don’t want that Morty, I just want you to be happy.” Nurgle lent closer to the door and said calmly, “Now what has really got you down? I know it’s not the fly wings.”

There was a pause, followed by some more sniffling. “I just don’t know what the point is Dad. I’ve been doing this for ten thousand years, the Imperium is never going to fall. Every time I win I eventually have to release a virus bomb and retreat. I just feel so numb, like what’s the point?”

Nurgle nodded, “That’s a tough one, son.” He scratched his chin. “But you know, I get it. I’m the god of death, of entropy. Everything ends, that’s just the way it is. Even the Death Guard will eventually die…and not come back as zombie space marines. The war we’re fighting, the Imperium, it will all end at some point.”

“But just because something ends, doesn’t mean it isn’t precious. I might celebrate the death of things, but even I know their real value is in the moment. Let go of the weight of ten thousand years Morty, even a primarch can’t bear that legacy. Besides its not ten thousand years of defeat to me, it’s ten thousand years of experiences, of joy and pain…mostly pain, of comradery and love…kind of. It’s the journey that makes the trip worth it, not the destination. You have to find what you enjoy about this undead life and live it.”

Mortarion didn’t say anything for a long while. “But Dad, what about you, what about all of this? The garden, the marines, the war, don’t you want to win?”

Nurgle gave a soft chuckle. “Son, didn’t you hear me? Everything dies, well maybe not the necorn or eldar? It’s confusing, but most everything dies. So I’ve already won! Hell, you and the Death Guard could stay in the garden for the next ten thousand years and I’d still be coming out on top. The other chaos gods would be dong the killing for me, or the Imperium would, they kill a lot of people on their own–they’re actually not that great either.”

“But the reason I give you sanctuary here is because I believe in you Morty. I only want what’s best for you. I just think maybe killing the Imperium will give you closure.” Nurgle smirked, “And hey, I even here Guilliman’s back, don’t you hate him? Wouldn’t fighting him be fun?”

Mortarion thought about it. “I guess I could try hating him.”

“That’s the spirit!” Nurgle said, “Now why don’t you come out here and give your Papa Nurgle a big old hug.”

“Okay!” Mortarion said.

The Primarch’s door unlocked and Mortarion embraced his chaos god, knowing that he was a wiser and richer space marine for listening to his dad (who was the embodiment of death, and renewal, but mostly death, and renewal only in a reanimator, zombie sense of the word.)

The End.

How to Write a Fight Scene

How to Write a Fight Scene

Fights, like sex, can be some of the hardest scenes to write. They’re always in danger of getting bog down in detail, or they’re the subject of comically obtuse metaphors, or are just plain confusing and the reader has no idea what’s happening. I’m still trying to master fight scenes myself, but here are some techniques I used to make them fast pace and exciting.

The Blow by Blow

This is the most common type of fight scene. It’s best used for duels or fights that take a while and don’t require too many participants. In the ‘Blow by Blow’ the writer is acting like the announcer of a boxing match, giving an account every swing and block.

Blow by Blow scenes are the easiest scenes to do, but they can very quickly devolve into tedium. Visual media has print beat when it comes to these types of fights. What’s more exciting watching the final battle in a Marvel movie or hearing your friend describe it? Writing can be very immersive and give us things we can’t experience in film. The taste of sweat, the thoughts of the duelist, the feeling in their shoulders.

Also try not to linger when doing a blow by blow scene. If a character does something fast like a jab, don’t drag out the description. If something happens quickly keep the description quick. Remember that you are dealing with more than just the five senses, you have movement too, you want your writing to convey the speed, and flexibility of the action.

The Abstraction

Writing isn’t a visual media so every fight scene, even the most technical blow by blow, is an abstraction. But what I mean by abstraction is focusing less on creating a fight scene at all, but rather focusing on the feeling, the motion, the way someone fights. Abstractions are best used for big battles, were everything is confusing, and you can use little details to build a sense of dread, or when a hero is fighting a bunch of henchman and dispatching them quickly or even if you want to introduce a threat.

Abstraction can be hard to describe so here’s an example of what I’m talking about from my novel Ghets:

Reez was like a wildfire, cutting and burning and consuming, with each swing she grew hotter, with each cut she grew madder. She blazed through her enemies, on them quicker than they could react, could think, she was an explosion in the middle of their ranks.

The whole thing is more a metaphor than fight. I don’t tell how Reez was defeating anyone, just trying to convey a beserker like style. I tend to prefer writing abstractions for my fight scenes. The feeling of what’s going on is more important than the than physical moves of the actors involved. But abstractions do have their short comings. They’re always in danger of becoming too abstract, the metaphor running away from any sense what’s actually happening. They’re also not great at conflict.

When I say conflict, I mean the push and pull of the fight. In the scene above I focused on Reez, the people she was fighting weren’t important. But most fight scenes, be they duels or battles are a contents between two parties. What makes them interesting and dynamic are the ways that those parties try get ahead or around their opponent. Present a problems for each fighter to overcome or try to out think.

Don’t show the fight

There’s one final strategy for fight scenes and that’s not to even bother with them. In the greatest action movie of all time, Mad Max: Fury Road, there’s a scene where Max runs off to take out the ‘Bullet Farmer’. We don’t know what he does to defeat the Bullet Farmer. We just see him run off, and then come back after an explosion. He’s covered in blood and carrying a bunch of stolen weapons.

The scene is wonderfully bad ass, but we never see what Max actually did. Instead we only have the aftermath and the other characters’ reactions to Max. This makes Max seem tough. He did something so cool we can’t even imagine it. It’s the same principle as the old horror movie conceit that the monster is scarier when you don’t see it. Describing the devastation or aftermath of a fight can make your character seem more competent or powerful than going in detail on the fight itself. It’s also easier for the reader to follow.

On a similar note, try treating some of your fight scenes like comics. Rather than doing a true blow by blow think of the best parts, the most thrilling. Only describe those, like the panels of a comic book. Don’t worry about the connective tissue linking the panels too much, just describe the scene like it’s all in slow motion. One or two cool moments is all anyone remembers about a good fight anyway.

Now that you’ve got some techniques, give them a shot, experiment! Let me know what works for you! Go fight!

Ghets Chapter 7

Ghets Chapter 7

Hi everyone! Thanks for following the preview of Ghets. This is the last chapter I’m going to post for at least a little while. If you want to get caught up on the story you can check out my Ghets Preview


Chapter:

With the Fellowship gone Reez ordered some cheesy, fried, bat wings. Despite being on the Aphetrrain side of town and run by a former Aphetrrian monk, the ‘Holy, Holy’ had a Dairkkul chef and she made the greasiest, most horrible for you food, you could get on either side of the Divide. Reez loved it. Nothing tasted better after a night of drinking and haggling than something deep fried and covered in stinky green cheese.

Odvid loosened his hood. He had kept it tight to make sure his red eye wasn’t visible to their guests, though Reez doubt it worked. Problem with groups like Markus’s was that you had to ease them into the differences between the two lands, force too much on them early and they’d freak out. Odvid’s red eye might have been enough weirdness for them for one night.

“That was…informative” Odvid said of the negotiations. “What did you think of the ‘Fellowship’?”

“I think they’re greener than me.” Reez said flashing Odd one of her infamous grins.

Odvid smirked. “Their requests… I don’t know where to begin. They don’t want to take the Gates? Or eat any food from Neradoom? They can’t travel over large bodies of water because they’re afraid Nord the dwarf will sink and the priestess wants to know if there’s any temples to Dhiamitrst they can stop at on the way?”

“They’re gucking insane.” Reez said inspecting her glass. Buzzed or not she decided it would be a waste if she didn’t finish her wine. “Don’t these fellowships usually come with a Ranger or something? You’d think with all the fuss the Aphetrrians are putting up about this group, they’d at least include some veteran who’s been to Neradoom.”

Odvid scratched his chin, he had been growing a bit of stubble there, most of it was black, but Reez spotted a white hair or two. “Given the timing of the decree the Fellowship should have made it here before now, even if they weren’t using the Gates.”

Reez shrugged, “Thinking the same, figure they might have taken a detour. Wasn’t there supposed to be seven of them? They only talked about sneaking five across the border.”

Odvid shifted forward, his chin resting on his massive hands. Even though he was just shy of twenty-five he looked like an old man then. The hunchback he was always trying to hide in the folds of his coat was sticking up like a mountain.

“They could have had some trouble on the road. But even so, Sphetrra to Ghetshaven is an easy enough journey through allied territory.”

Reez shot up when the barmaid brought out her plate. She stared down at the mess of wings and chunky cheese.

“Yeah strange,” Reez said pawing at her bat wings, they were still too hot to eat, so she had to make do with licking the grease off her fingers.

“Lot of questions about this group, like did you know Arilune was a princess? Or that she’s supposed to be an Avatar to some Elven Goddess? How that even work? She’s human, Markus too. Speaking of Gods, why are they avoiding the gates? We can sneak anything shy of a god through them. They’re being silly gunkers.”

Odvid didn’t say anything for a moment. He was staring out at nothing, getting all deep like he did. Reez focused on her bat wings. She bit in, snapping one with a satisfying crunch.

“I noticed you haven’t been taking on as much work since the kidnapping.” Odvid looked at Reez like he was talking to a patient, all concern in his eyes. “There was no way for us to have known what Crow was after Reez. It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of being a Ghets.”

Reez dropped her batwing. “What are you getting at Odd?” She asked suspicious.

Odvid kept his eyes on her. “You feel guilty. I know you waited for the Fellowship, you want to save Arilune.”

Reez laughed, “Odd it’s a fat purse nothing more. Orcs don’t care about the wise of the fighting, we jus—“

Odvid rolled his mismatched eyes. “Reez, it’s me.”

Reez frowned and squirmed a bit. Guck Odd for ruining her bat wings. “Okay, maybe I feel bad about the princess. But this is a win-win Odd, we get to make a lot of money, and the girl gets to go home. I don’t seem a problem.”

Odvid lent back with a sigh, him and Elise always sighing. Reez crossed her arms pouting.

“I don’t want another burning gatehouse Reez.” Odvid said, “They’re quest isn’t ours. You didn’t kidnap Arilune and it won’t be you who saves her.”

“I know Odd.” Reez said annoyed. “Plausible deniability, we only lead them some place and then lead them back home when they’re done. I’m the gucking captain, I know how a gig works.”

Odvid nodded, but neither spoke for a while. Reez started down at the congealing cheese on her wings. She wasn’t hungry any more, Odvid had lectured it out of her. She glared at him and asked the question.

“You coming this time? Or ‘am I too close to this job’?”

Odvid frowned. “I get it. I sound like the old Sergeant in one of those hardboiled guard plays you love.”

That a got a grin out of Reez. “You are totally ‘the too old for this gunk’ type.”

“And you’re a loose catapult Kaikor Reez,” Odvid said with a smirk. He shook his head. “Of course, I’m coming. Who else is going to shame you for going off contract again?”

Reez laughed and tore into her still warm wings. She might have been the captain of her crew, but they were Ghets not the Okkore, everyone got a vote.

“I’ll talk to Elise tomorrow see if she’s in.” Reez sucked up the cheese off a wing, still talking as she chewed. “Given how Aphetrrain pretty that elven mage was, I don’t think Elise ’ll be a problem.” Reez also had questions about what business a human princess had being the avatar of Anudica.

“I’ll handle Jaques.” Odvid said, “He’ll complain about the distance, but he was down at the races last night, I’m sure he’s in need of coin.”

The races again? The dumb weasel was going to get his legs broken for a third time. Reez shook her head and focused on finishing off her batwings. The Fellowship wanted to leave as soon as possible, which meant she wasn’t going to get to enjoy a meal this greasy for months.

Dear Beta-Reader

Dear Beta-Reader

I’ve been writing a lot about my novel Ghets recently and that’s because I’ve finished draft II! I’ve been working on this book for two years now and it’s finally ready to be shared. I put out the call for beta-readers and sent the novel to friends, family and acquaintances. The novel is far from complete at this point. I need to collect all the critiques and edits from my beta-readers and use them to sharpen the book into draft III. After draft III I’ll either be lucky enough to have an agent and publisher or I’ll need to hire an editor for draft IV and then finally publish the thing myself.

I know it’s a lot. So, let’s not get ahead ourselves. For this post I’m sharing the letter I sent out to beta-readers to thank them and let them know what I’m looking for. You might find it helpful, if you’re thinking about using beta-readers for your own project. Also I’ll never say no to people reading Ghets so if you’ve checked out the chapters I’ve posted and want to be a beta-reader too, let me know!


Dear Beta-Reader,

First, I want to thank you so, so, so, much for taking the time to read my novel. I know it’s long and it’s asking a lot of you. But just by reading this book and giving your critiques, edits and insights you are helping to shape this story. Books, like all creative works, are collaborative, the storyteller reacting to listener, feeding off their energy and emotion. It’s like a dialogue. And like all dialogues it helps to know what we’re discussing.

In truth I will take any edits you have to offer, but please don’t overextend yourself trying to correct every spelling, wrong word or grammar mistake. There are a lot of them and I will hunt them down with the help of an editor during the next draft.

What I’m looking for right now are ‘big picture’ reactions. What about the story worked for you? What about the story didn’t? Where was the writing confusing, where you couldn’t tell what was going on? Where there any characters that felt unnecessary? And most of all where there repetitive chapters or sections, or chapters that you felt didn’t add anything? This book is on the long side and I would love to be able to trim it down.

I will take any critiques you have to offer. If you couldn’t finish the book because of the time commitment, that’s fine! Just tell me what you thought of what you could read. Same is true if you dropped this book because the grammar was so bad, or because the general writing was awful, or because the story isn’t your thing. You don’t need to finish it to give me your thoughts. And please, be honest! I won’t be upset. In college I had my writing torn apart by my ex-girlfriend and her new ‘poet’ boyfriend during creative writing club. If I can survive that and still want to write, I can survive anything.

Once again thank you so much!

Ghets Chapter 6

Ghets Chapter 6

It’s Fiction Friday! This week it’s Ghets Chapter 6. Markus considers the mysterious Ghets he encountered last chapter. We’re getting close to the end of our Ghets preview just another chapter to go! (Well, for now)

If you’d like to get caught up on Ghets you can do so here: Ghets Preview


Chapter

After the arrangements were agreed upon, the Fellowship retreated to their stuffy Inn on the Aphetrrian side of the Divide. They had left the orc and her companion with an informal agreement, one that they would make official at ‘Oath Hall’ tomorrow.

Yin felt they were making a mistake, she was even less trusting of the Ghets than Markus. She said she had been around enough of them in Ruinsway to know they were all cheats and con men. At the very least Yin pushed for them to get a second opinion. But Meiral and Roland had been satisfied with the orc and too exhausted to look elsewhere.

Markus shared Yin’s concerns, but despite her bravado the orc seemed credible and her companion was rational. Both promised a list of references at Oath Hall to back their claims. Markus intended to thoroughly vet those.

He didn’t like the orc, though he didn’t understand why. She was both what he expected and nothing at all what he expected. Markus had met few orcs in his life, but he was under the impression that they were a brutish, violent people that held allegiance to no side but war. They relished and worshiped combat, known to enter a berserker like state of ecstasy they referred to as ‘bloodlust’. Even their biology was built for war, they were big, on average, taller and bulkier than humans with tusks or fangs drooping out of their mouths.

This Reez had green skin and yellow inhuman eyes. But she was shorter than Markus and only a little taller than Meiral. She had muscles, but they were the lean muscles of a swordswoman, not the hulking muscles of the barbarian like orcs Markus had fought. Her hair was a wild mess of red dreadlocks and she had a sinister smile, it was too long, and her teeth all looked like sharp canines. But there was a playfulness to her grin, and to her presence. Markus could even see how one might find her attractive despite her orcish qualities (not having tusks went a long way with that).

Her armor should have been a clear sign that she was a Ghets. It was an advertisement of her adventures, stitched together from different styles and cultures. Mostly brown and red leather bindings, with ‘plate’ in places. She had a shell of some creature worked into a kneepad, similar to the people of the western Aphetrrian tribes. Along her sword arm there was lacquered armor that looked vaguely Dairkkul. Their leather was grown from pits of flesh, blood and magics. Under her belt was a crimson sash styled in the manner of the horse archers of the Aphetrrain frontier. There were other pieces and trinkets on her that Markus could not identify.

She was infuriating and seemed to enjoy Markus’s discomfort. It was hard to believe she took anything too seriously and yet, she seemed to have pride in the work she had done. Reez was confusing. Her companion on the other hand was not.

This ‘Odvid’ explained everything in detail and walked the Fellowship through all the challenges geographically, politically, culturally and logistically they would face on their journey. Just as Markus wished to dislike Reez, and yet couldn’t completely. Markus wanted to trust this ‘Odvid’ but found that he could not.

Odvid was of a people that Markus couldn’t place and the Ghets seemed to want to keep it that way. He wore a large overcoat with many pockets and a hood that he kept pulled over his head the entire night. His form was…strange.

He was about the size of a human, only a little shorter than the orc. He had a large hunched back and his hands and arms were massive, even larger than Nord’s stocky frame. And yet Odvid’s legs and feet were stumpy and weak. He walked with a hobble, it didn’t seem to impact him much, but it was evident in his gait.

His skin was stone gray and revealed nothing. His eyes though created more mystery. His left eye was gorgeous. It was pure blue, the richest color of the sky. No whites at all, just the iris and pupil like a glass bead. It radiated something, a power? a lineage? It suggested a pure Aphetrrian, an elven demi-god maybe. But Odvid’s right eye suggested something else entirely.

Ovid tried to keep his right side hidden in his hood away from Markus and the Fellowship. But Markus had gotten a decent look. Odvi’s right eye too lacked whites, it was a rich red with dark veins like cracks running through it. Its pupil was odd, shaped like a black star. Its edges shifted, moving slightly, growing and shrinking so it was never the same shape. It was hard to look at. It felt wrong, made of chaos and Neradoom.

Odvid did not seem Dairkkul. He didn’t have any horns and his proportions were very different from the demons. But Markus knew the Dairkkul could modify their bodies to a certain degree. Markus doubted any creature would want to shift itself into Odvid’s bizzare, almost crippled form, but maybe he was a Dairkklu that tried to appear as an elf and thus experienced a horrible accident? Maybe he was from another Neradoomin people that Markus didn’t know of? There were many. There were even humans in Neradoom, maybe they looked like Odvid?

And yet Odvid’s left eye felt so pure, so true to Aphetrria that Markus doubted it could be copied. Odvid could have been born at the border in Ghetshaven and maybe that affected him and gave him his strange eyes? Markus didn’t know, but whatever Odvid was it made Markus suspicious.

Why an Orc?

Why an Orc?

As I wrote last post there are problem with Orcs. But despite those problems I still wanted to include orcs in my fantasy world and even make my protagonist one. Orcs are fun! Their dumb and violent tendencies can make them mischievous, even endearing if presented in a certain light. And as the ‘evil minion’ race of hundreds of fantasy novels orcs feel like the underdogs. Maybe they’re just misunderstood? Maybe what is so often seen as barbaric in orcs is just a different point of view?

Like any longstanding antagonist orcs have gone through several revisions and become heroes. Stan Nicholls novel Orcs: First Blood, tells a story of human orc warfare from the orcs point of view, taking a traditional band of orc warriors and making them the protagonists. Terry Pratchett’s orcs are near extinct and suffering from a case of bad propaganda, only surviving one being friendly. And then there’s the Warcraft games.

Warcraft started out with a traditional Tolkien set up. There was an evil army of orcs vs. an alliance of humans, dwarves and elves. The first two Warcraft games had the orcs invading from a dark portal led by evil wizards and hell bent on conquering and killing everything in sight. But with the third Warcraft game Blizzard (the game studio behind the Warcraft series) decided to do something different.

Blizzard deconstructed its orcs and the very idea of orcs as the ‘barbarian other’. They took inspiration from what happened to historical ‘barbarian’ or ‘savage’ peoples after they were conquered. The orcs of Warcraft III start off enslaved or kept on hemmed in reservations. Their story becomes a fight for freedom and once they achieve that freedom they desire to go back to their traditional ways. The orcs are still violent, a warrior culture, but one that is more complex and less aggressive than the conquers they used to be. They even finally defeat the demon overlords that led them astray in the first place.

The orcs of Warcraft moved from mindless evil to at worse worthy antagonists, all while keeping the things people loved about them. They’re still big and green and mean. They still have pointy armor and say funny made up words like ‘zug-zug’, but they’re given their own needs and desires. They now do stuff outside of fighting.

When coming up with my own orcs I took inspiration from Warcraft, as well as Wahammer, Tolkien and all the others. The orcs of Ghets like to fight, drink and eat meat. They have green skin (as well as purple, orange, and pretty much any color). They’re a proud warrior society, that fights in ‘hordes’. And they’re the underdogs, despised by both Aphetrria the land of Order, and Neradoom the land of Chaos. But in Ghets, the orc’s ruling body, the ‘Okkore’ is the closest thing there is to a medieval UN.

The orcs of Ghets were created by the god Kor to act as border guards, to prevent Aphetrria and Neradoom from killing each other. They take their mandate seriously, and even went so far as to conquer both lands to put an end to the millennia long war. It didn’t work, and by the time the novel begins the Orcs are trying to learn from their past mistakes.

I don’t spend too much time with the Okkore in Ghets, I’ve got more planned there for another novel. Reez is the orc that readers get to know the best, since she’s the lead. Reez is all the stuff I love about orcs with none of the baggage. She’s a carefree adventurer that always cursing in funny made up words: guck, gunking guckers. She loves to fight and get into trouble, but she’s not mean or even mercenary in her thinking or actions. She’s clever without being condescending and most of all she doesn’t take herself seriously.

Reez would find the abject barbarism of orcs like those in the Shadow of Mordor series to be comically over the top. Like the people she comes from Reez is down to earth, an orc that’s good at fighting, but is into other things than just conquest and plunder. She’s got her bones in the old greenskin trope, but she’s grown out of them into her own character. I really like spending time with her and I hope you will too!

 

Ghets Chapter 5

Ghets Chapter 5

This week on Fiction Friday it’s Ghets Chapter 5! The fellowship makes it to Ghetshaven where they meet Reez and Odvid, and the true journey begins. For more of Ghets check out my Ghets Preview


Reez couldn’t believe her luck.

Since the official decree arrived weeks ago every Ghets in town had been chatting about the Aphetrrian Fellowship. The Aphetrrians weren’t playing around this time. The decree was endorsed by everyone from the Golden King, to the High Priest of Dhiamitrst. There was going to be seven warriors to represent the seven Elven Goddesses and they each came from a different kingdom. Though most of them looked like Easterners with some support from their mountain allies. The Easterners were using the Fellowship as a power play since the Eternal Empire were hurting.

Politics aside, or maybe because of the politics, there was a lot of money and power behind this Fellowship, which meant it was going to be a fat purse for whatever Ghets landed a contract with them. Every Ghetter captain worth their gunk had been practicing their Lori’ve and spending time in the ‘Holy, Holy’ tavern wanting for the Fellowship to land on the Aphetrrain side of town.

Reez and Odvid had been at the tavern every night since the decree, but the Fellowship never showed. It had been well over a month and most of the other Captains had given up hope, taking work with cravens and heading out of town. Only Reez kept to taking day jobs and spending her nights in the ‘Holy, Holy’ waiting for a tired pack of Aphettrians to wander in for a drink.

Her perseverance had finally paid off. A strange looking group of Aphetrrains had come in and Reez was the only Ghets Captain in the tavern. She rushed them, dragging Odvid with her and offering to buy her new friends a round of drinks. The potential Fellowship had been guarded at first, but eventually Reez’s smile and charms won them over, that or she was too gucking stubborn to take a hint, (and why should she be anything else? They made her wait weeks!)

“So, you all work for the same guild or something?” Reez said to the Aphetrrians with a knowing smirk.

“No, why do you say that?” Roland asked. The old human seemed alright, bit Eastern Aphetrrian stiff, but friendly.

“’Cause you all got on the same cloaks,” Reez said leaning in, “Nice ones too, Winterash and a Silver silk blend? Fancy, hear that stuff changes to different shades of grey to help you blend in, a lot of rangers carry them.”

“Oh yes, right” Roland corrected feeling his cloak, “I suppose you could say we’re work colleagues, of a manner.”

“Roland” Markus said with force.

Markus was bitter, clenching his stein and looking all mean. If he wasn’t so ridiculously pretty or maybe had a pair of tusks, the human would have stirred something in Reez. Markus had nice muscles, rich brown skin, a strong jaw, and lush black hair. He had to be the leader. Aphetrria liked to make plays and songs about their ‘heroes’, they cultivated a certain type.

“So, you guys merchants?” Reez asked.

“Reez” Odvid said, exasperated, he just wanted to get this over with.

“Yes?” Roland offered not sure what to say.

These gucks weren’t good at the game. The innuendo, the raised eye brows, the little hints and suggestions. Everything done with just the right emphasis to explain what you were really looking for. Crow already had these guys beat, she was a master of the game.

“Burnished gold plate armor,” Reez said peaking at what was under Markus’s cloak before he wrapped it around himself, indignant.

“And you, Orecast chain mail?” Reez said turning to look at the dwarf. “And that’s an impressive war mallet too!” Reez said inspecting the weapon. “That thing double headed? One side an axe the other a hammer?”

The dwarf crossed his arms and nodded with pride. Markus shot him a look and the dwarf coughed sheepishly.

“Well, we heard it was dangerous on the road, highwaymen and what not” Roland said trying to play.

Reez gave him a point for that. None of the other Aphetrrians were engaging. Markus spent most of the night glaring at her. The pretty elf blushed and looked away, the part elf with an eye patch squirmed, and the dwarf drank. They were all uncomfortable, clearly out of their gucking depth. It was a good thing Hawke or Sahar hadn’t gotten to them or these poor gunkers would have been swindled out of their coin before they even started their quest.

“Oh, it’s real dangerous out there.” Reez said leaning back, “That is if you don’t got a guide.” She gave them another of her award-winning smiles and then a big dramatic wink to sell it, cause this Fellowship needed all the help they could get.

“A guide, oh, like a Ghets?” Roland said, seeming legitimately confused. This was slowly unraveling from fun to painful.

“Yup, that’s what the G stands for. Ghets: Guides. Hunters. Explores. Treasure Seekers.” Reez said.

The part elf girl shot up. “What? Their dumb name really means something? I always thought they were trying to be stupid or cute.”

Reez deflated, “Nope, it stands for exactly what I said.”

“Oh marvelous,” Roland said, “Do you know any Ghets? We may be in the market, if you know what I mean.” He leaned in close, “We’re not actually merchants.”

Reez didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, “You don’t say.”

“Roland don’t,” Markus interjected.

“But Markus, I thought we agreed–” Roland said,

“She doesn’t need to know. We can find Ghets on our own. They must have a guild.”

Reez grabbed her wine and drank deep, “Course they do, got a certification board, reviews too, all the Fellowships they smuggle across the border on clandestine missions leave letters of recommendation. Don’t trust anyone who’s under three starts, fivers are overrated. If you’re a five, you usually haven’t done enough work that’s why their scores are so high, go for a solid four, they have the experience and the right price.”

Roland brightened at that. “Thank you, let me write that down.” He started searching his bag for a stencil until Odvid spoke up.

“Don’t, she’s teasing you. We’re Ghets.” Odvid said.

“Oh—I see, if you don’t mind me asking what are your stars?” Roland asked innocently.

Reez laughed, Odvid made a face, trying to ignore her.

“There’s no rating, there’s no guild or certification board. We do our deals in crowded taverns like this and then sign contracts written up in Oath Hall. Don’t worry, the language is made purposely vague for your benefit and ours.” Odvid explained.

“Why?” Roland asked confused.

Reez was having enough of this. If these gunkers needed it spelled out for them, she’d spell it out. “Because leading Fellowships like you across the border is breaking a ton of gucking treaties and we don’t like pissing off Neradoom, Aphetrria or the Okkore.” Reez said swirling her glass.

Markus shot up, his hand on his hilt, eyes locked on Reez. The entire tavern went silent watching them. Reez just kept on sipping her wine.

“How do you know about us and our quest?” Markus asked in a harsh whisper. “You’re an orc, are you a spy for the Okkore?”

“For the love of Kor and his gucking ways.” Reez said sharing a knowing look with Odvid. “Not every orc is a member of the Okkore, learn that quick or you’re going to tick somebody off. Now sit down and stop acting like a butt-spider. Half of Aphetrria knows about your gucking quest. Your kingdom has been bragging about it for months! I even took a job last week taking one of your Heralds to the Shattered Coast so she could give public reading.”

Markus glared at Reez but did as he was told. He looked to the other members of the Fellowship, all of them seemed aghast that their ‘secret’ mission was common gucking knowledge. They lent in whispering.

“There was the parade through both Valenbrook and Sphettra.” Roland said

“And the feasts in Eldorita and Grunnhorn” The pretty elf added.

“Oh yes, and in Nord’s homeland too! That was quite a bit of mead,” Roland said smiling before, looking down at his stein embarrassed. “Now that I think about it, one doesn’t usually get that drunk to announce a clandestine enterprise. Actually, rarely does one ‘announce’ anything clandestine at all do they?”

Markus’s scowled, “I can’t believe this. Why would Sphetrra jeopardize us before we even left? I knew of the announcements, but to be spotted like this” Markus sighed, “If the Ghets know we’re here than surely Maelator knows as well.”

There was a bit more chatter, not all of it Reez caught and then the Fellowship broke up their huddle. Markus the hero sat up straight and looked at Reez with frighteningly serious eyes.

“We need guides and body guards to take us into Neradoom.” He said

“Course you do. Now where do you need to go and how much are you going to pay me to get you there?” Reez asked smiling.