Out of the east, out of the west

Cross posted from facebook.



What rough beasts are these, slouching towards Anvil?

On the edge of Old Anduz, a band of barbarians wait watching the sun rise. Under a burnt orange banner they come, hands empty - weapons sheathed, shields stowed at their backs. They stop out of bowshot of the armies, insolently waiting. A captain of the host walks out, meets them. Discussions are swift and terse.

They present letters - invitations to a parley. Invitations to Anvil, in the name of the Generals in Segura and a Senator of the Empire. The captain, at first, is incredulous but the orcs are adamant. They are invited to Anvil. They demand free passage, or an escort, to the place of parley. They demand the offered opportunity to hear what the Empire has to say to them, these dusty brigands out of the Lasambrian hills.

The captain consents, quickly details a band three times the number of orcs to serve as escort. Calls for paper and ink, begins to draft messages to be sent ahead, warning the watchtowers and the garrisons along the route to Anvil.

The small band of orcs ignore the Dawnish soldiers, for the most part. They begin the week-long trek toward the heart of the Empire, east through the brightening dawn.

They are like a stone cast into a still pool. The rumour of their coming swirls around the marketplace of Anvil as the great and wise of the Empire begin to gather.

If the orcs from the west, walking into the sunrise, cause a stir imagine the clamour caused by the orcs from the east …

On sunset, two days before the Solstice, a tiny band of orcs cross the border from the forlorn plains of Gray Charge in Reikos, crossing into Casinea, into Marehom. They make no attempt to conceal their presence, and are marked immediately by the scouts of the Seventh Wave. They set a small camp, in plain sight, in the middle of an open field. After an hour or so, one begins to drum quietly in the gathering dusk.

As night falls, they light torches, set in a wide circle sixteen yards across, and return to their campfire.

The scouts are cautious. They have encountered Druj trickery before. Yet there are no trees here to hide ambushers, nothing for a mile around save the Summer-dry plains of Casinea and a handful of orcs. This is not an army, nor a band of raiders come in force. They seem to be waiting.

The scouts receive their orders, approach carefully through the gloom, arrows ready. The Druj barely stir, nor cease their drumming. A flag of truce hangs in their little camp, alongside a Druj banner.

“We come in peace,” says their leader, offering one of the scouts a bowl of hot vegetable stew.

“We come in peace,” he repeats, as something that might be a smile disfigures his face. “We wish to speak to your Senate …”

Two groups of orcs, one from the arid hills of the south-east and one from out of the darkest west. One claiming invitiation of Generals and Senators, one come under a flag of truce. Perhaps the captains and scouts should have struck them down where they stood … but such decisions are beyond the remit of captains and scouts. So now there may be barbarians in Anvil … at least for a little time.

Both delegations are small - less than half a dozen orcs in each. Both claim to wish to parley with the Empire. Neither will discuss their business with captanins, or with scouts; not until they reach the heart of the Empire, reach Anvil. Both have escorts of Imperial troops, who will send messengers ahead to warn Anvil in advance of their approach. It is likely that these orcs will want to speak to Senators and Generals … but those worthies serve at the sufferance of their people, and there are likely to be many people in Anvil who have an opinion about what it means to treat with barbarians …

As an aside, the magistrates wish to remind the citizens of the Empire that both the orcs of the dry hills and the orcs of the west are barbarians. A barbarian is someone with whom the Empire is at war - and it is at war with Lasambrian and Druj alike. They have no protection under the law, but may be the subject of it. The magistrates will be available to clarify any uncertainty this may cause - and the Senate may of course issue a specific ruling on the matter of these barbarian ‘‘diplomats.’’

You can find out more about the Druj here.

Not very much is actually known about the Lasambrian orcs, save that they come from the dry hills above Segura and Liathaven and that prior to 363YE they were little more than scattered tribes of bandits preying on border settlements and trade caravans passing between the Empire and Faraden or the Iron Confederacy. This might be an opportunity to find out more … or it might not …