Keepers of the Clans

We The Keepers
For the ancestors

Ancestors, I need your wisdom now more than ever before. Great personal and social upheaval surrounds us and it seems we are without a steady star to guide us. I offer my tale to you that you may find me worthy of your grace.

Things changed quickly after the Battle of Stonefang Gorges. Drek’Thar found he could see magical energies after having lost his eyes to the elementals he summoned in order to win the battle against the ogres. This vision directed us to a site of tremendous magical power similar to previous ruins scattered through Frostfire. Unlike the previous sites which revealed to us spectral images from the past, this site contained a moment actually frozen in time. The flames moved increasingly slowly as we approached the center of the structure until the torches on the wall didn’t seem to flicker at all. The air itself was heavy and difficult to breath as if it resisted your lungs. At the very center of it all were figures alive yet frozen in battle, droplets of blood still hanging in the air. Their unrecognizable clan insignias born on their tabards suggested they could have been in that state for hundreds or thousands of years.

From one of the figures emerged a spectral apparition like we had seen before. She explained that she and her sister were the last of the Keepers, a group of orcs that contained within their minds the collective orcish cultural memory. More than just the shared oral shamanic traditions, these were real memories as if the Keeper had lived it themselves complete with sensory information. For reasons not entirely clear, they were hunted by their fellow orcs and destroyed. These last 2 had been able to stay alive by manipulating the local time and freezing the moment of their death as we had come to bear witness.

Hearing her describe the the Keepers, I felt that such as that would truly be what my life had been working toward all along. To not just know the stories but to channel them fully. I asked that she show me the way of the Keepers. She agreed to pass the power to myself, Tor’vash, Oguk, and Dak, but indicated it was a curse. She split in four and gripped each of us by the head with both hands. My body and spirit were racked with such incredible pain that I immediately regretted my request. The physical discomfort paled compared to the indescribable existential agony. It was like being punched 1000 times only to find out the bloody, ragged stump of a fist punishing you was your own.

When we regained consciousness we found ourselves more in tune with our the elements to a degree that we could bend them slightly to our will. We also had flickers of memories that were not our own but no way to decipher them.

We returned to speak with Drek’Thar and Durotan but we were divided about what to tell them. If we were the new Keepers and the previous Keepers had been hunted by their fellow orcs, I felt it best to keep the secret until we knew what it meant. Dak disagreed, and after a heated discussion with Drek’Thar and our chieftain, we were instructed to seek out the advice of a sage.

I fear that this proved to be a mistake for not only did the sage illuminate nothing, but another, Kargath, chieftain of the Open Hand, discovered our secret. Kargath has now called a meeting of all the clan chieftains which Durotan fears we may not survive. It seems there are still some among the orcs who remember the Keepers and do not welcome their return.

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The Battle of Stonefang Gorges

The day of decisive confrontation between the Frostfire ogres and Frostwolf orcs had arrived. The Frostwolf orcs were both exhilarated and trepidatious about the looming battle and each addressed it in their own way.

Dak and Bob stared deep into one another, sharing some communion only they were privy too and preparing their magic. The old man had many mysteries and many more secrets.

Tor’vash donned his hide armor for the first time, an elaborate Frostwolf embossed on the chest. He normally eschewed armor considering it a show of weakness, but even he felt the weight of the threat facing them and chose the added protection. It took several hours to get used to moving in the slightly restraining armor, but soon he regained his light step and moved to the front ranks awaiting his companions and the chance to draw first blood.

Vash, brother to Tor’vash and eccentric bone priest, performed his usual rites of worship to the ancestors while the animated skull of an ogre hovered around him like a vulture awaiting a carrion meal. He cast bones into a small fire while reciting the stories of great battles fought by legendary orcish ancestors. From each tale he drew strength and from the portents in the bones and smoke he drew knowledge. Lastly, he doused the fire and gathered the ash. He used the ash to trace the tattooed lines of the holy symbol drawn on his left arm: the skeletal structure of his arm wrapped in thick roots.

Oguk sat a vigil on a plateaued area overlooking the gorges. He was an orc more in tune with nature then his allies. Whereas they tended to turn inward, he found calm in the contemplation of the external world around him. He gauged the wind speed and direction, mentally adjusting how he would need to take his bow shots to accommodate. He viewed the sharp stones jutting up from the belly of the gorge like teeth, the gorges namesake. Fighting on the bridge would limit his mobility and he would need to avoid the edges lest he was knocked over the side. His cat, Tony, sat at his side sniffing the air for scent in anticipation of the hunt.

Indigo worked with the archers whom she would be directing from the rear. Her brother, Igorak, sharpened his steel claws with a smile. He planned to move about where needed and had agreed to compete with Vash and Tor’vash for most ogres slain. Drek’Thar, the most powerful shaman among the Frostwolf clan, patiently meditated. Durok had been called from Wolf’s Tale outpost to join the battle bringing with him the several dozen orcs under his command. The entire clan swelled with confidence when at last Durotan emerged from his command tent fully armored and armed with an axe in each hand.

The horns and drums began the call to arms and the orcs split their forces between the 2 land bridges that spanned the Stonefang Gorges. One half of the council led the fight at each bridge backed by warriors while archers and shaman provided support. The Frostfire ogres met them on the land bridges with ferocity. Oguk moved swiftly about harrassing the ogres with arrows as the tried to corner him. Tony held one edge of the bridge against ogre advancement while Vash and Tor’vash danced around each other pinning ogres between them with deadly results. Dak flew above the fray bringing down lightning upon his foes and healing energy to his allies.

The ogres numbers were incredible, and despite all the Frostwolf effort they kept coming in waves resulting in a stalemate on the land bridges where the advantage of their numbers was neutralized. The tide was definitively turned when Drek’Thar summoned 2 elemental creatures of immeasurable size and power. None knew he was even capable of such a thing, but such an act came with a high cost. The summoned elementals made known their anger at such an imposition by impaling Drek’Thar’s eyes on spikes of ice and stone. The orcish forces retreated from the land bridges as the elementals pursued the ogre forces that had started routing at the sight of the creatures. Ogres were crushed like decayed fruit beneath the weight of the rampaging elementals, and screams could be heard echoing for hours along the gorges and among the mountains into which the ogres sought refuge.

The Frostwolf orcs rejoiced in their victory knowing that they had made their dominance of Frostfire clear. Their clan would now be the uncontested masters of the region and their children could be safe. The fallout of Drek’Thar’s summoning was not yet known and though he was blind, he would allow no other to assist him. “I asked for this”, was all he said in reply before retiring to his tent.

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Scheming

In order to lure the ogres into confrontation on our terms, our strategist has suggested baiting them into battle on some land bridges. In order to do this, we have begun dropping tidbits of information in various locations hinting at our battle plan. The idea is to make it look like the ogres were able to gather this intelligence themselves. We dropped one document off at an ogre ruin, the captured unfinished outpost (which we stripped and abandoned), and the land bridge.

In the process we found to more spectral displays. One depicted ogres and orcs learning to farm. Oguk proved particularly useful in instructing them on the use of predators to protect their crops. The second was the delivery of an unusual child, possibly the reincarnation of a legendary orc chieftain. Dak, Oguk, and Vash performed a successful extra-vaginal delivery and Tor’vash provided pain control in the form of a knockout blow.

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The Southern Campaign: Momentum
The account as told to Durotan at the council meeting

My chieftain, some of this you undoubtedly know from Oguk’s report, but I will retell it again for completeness. With the first ogre outpost taken, we had 2 choices: send for reinforcements and wait before proceeding, or strike out immediately to seize the advantage of our surprise attack. Tor’vash, Dak, Oguk, and myself along with Durrak, the leader of the warriors devised to do both as both had equal merit. Oguk volunteered to run back to Frostwolf village and return with support while we moved with Durrak’s remaining forces south to capture the next outpost. There were 21 of us on the march and we didn’t know what to expect.

On the way we came across 2 more sets of ogre ruins. Both held more ghostly picture shows of times past. In one, orcs and ogres were working together to build a machine that could map the stars. In the other we witnessed orcs cowardly drown captured ogre women and children. Though ogres are our enemy, it brings shame upon those who acted so dishonorably. I pray these images we have seen are untrue, but everything about the experience says otherwise.

We were quite outnumbered by the heavily defended and fully constructed, walled second outpost. We had considered stealth but in the end went with a show of force. A stealth strike would have suggested weakness on our part, that we lacked the power for open confrontation. Instead, we struck at dawn with the sun to our backs, marching in as if we had a force of hundreds. Dak commanded our 4 archers to pin down any javelin throwers from the walls and we met them head on at the gate. I still feel the rush of that battle now. Tor’vash and I stood our ground against a wave of ogres, forming a defensive wall while Dak showed them his elemental fury. The ancestors were with me that day, their power coursing through me. How else could I have survived being surrounded by such an onslaught with barely a scratch?

Dak seems to always be there for us to mend our wounds in battle and lend us his sage advise in times of trouble. I guess it makes sense since he was there to bring us into this world that he would want Tor’vash and I to do great things. I know he sometimes disapproves of our eccentricities, but he really has been a father figure for us in a lot of ways. I can’t really get over the goat staring thing though.

Anyway, I digress. Our assault was so successful and surprising to the ogres that their forces routed despite superior numbers. Tor’vash and I gave chase briefly in case any had second thoughts about coming back or trying to halt the retreat, but none did. We took stock of our number and the outpost itself. Though undoubtedly a success, we had suffered heavier losses than previous and were now down to only 5 soldiers including Durrak. We did not have enough warriors to continue our campaign southward to the final fortress. We settled in until Oguk arrived a few days later with reinforcements and summoned us home.

The outpost is well constructed if not slightly oversized and we will be able to make excellent use of it. We have taken the liberty of naming it Wolf’s Tale in honor of the great glory achieved by so few that day. Between it and Wolfpaw outpost, we should have a healthy hold of that region. We will eventually need to deal with the remaining fortress, however.

That is my report. I will return to meditation while we await your next orders. You have other advisors who are better suited for such things as military strategy. I will fulfill my duties to the ancestors by retelling their tales and adding those of recent glory.

Durotan, one last thing. The bones foretell a storm coming. I know not if this is physical or metaphorical but it is ominous. Be cautious.

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The Southern Campaign: First Strike
A campfire tale

The ancestors were honored by your battle prowess and the story of this day will long be shared among the Frostwolf clan. As many of our past glories are retold around the campfire, let me be the first to give voice to the tale of this day. Let the bones bear witness and the ancestors pay heed!

[Vash throws an ogre skull and mandible into the fire and begins pacing]

We of the council returned from a exploring an old orc ore mining site to hear that Rohrs, the unparalleled scout, had found evidence of ogre construction suggesting fortification in preparation for war. One was a heavily fortified stone structure, the second a smaller walled outpost, and the third under active construction. After much debate we gathered 20 of our fiercest warriors and marched to take the construction as it was far less defensible and the raw materials could be used to further our own outposts in the Frostfire region.

We approached from the south to block any chance of escape to one of the other 2 fortifications. In the late afternoon sun, we rushed the outpost. Dak brought the blessing of the ancestors to bolster our forces. I brought the blessing of the bone to our captains so that our enemies would quake at our dire might. From Oguk and Tor’vash there was no where to hide as arrow, tooth, claw, and fist put a decisive and expedient end to the battle. Your courage and strength, all of you, took the day and this outpost. This victory is yours!

It was a resounding success, yet even greater battles await us. Still 2 more even more stalwart outposts remain to be taken in this campaign. We have the advantage of surprise and may use speed to our advantage, advancing as early as tomorrow on the next outpost before the ogres realize what has happened and can prepare. Or we may elect to hold this site and request further reinforcements from Durotan before moving forward to bolster our numbers against what are sure to be larger forces ahead. We of the council will deliberate on this tonight. May wisdom be ever with us, but we will always have strength with you at our side, my fellow orcs!

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Ogre Ruins, part 2
The account as reported to Durotan

We returned to Wolfpaw outpost to find it under attack by ogres. Our fellow Frostwolf orcs and the new recruits fought incredibly bravely against the force that had caught them by surprise. Our primary scout was far afield surveying the area and we had not yet been able to establish outbound scouting parties. We repelled the attack losing only 2 of our side and setting construction behind by 4 days. We will need to be more wary in the future as this could have been an utter disaster. To this end, Oguk has discussed training and organizing some advanced scouting patrols.

Our primary scout did return with detailed maps of the region including several points of interest: a mining site, a village of Draenei, and 2 more ogre ruins.

The Draenei village proved to be docile, but they were too afraid of us to consider an alliance against the ogres and shared little information. We may need to send Dak back again without accompanying warriors to further secure a mutually beneficial relationship. At any rate, they do not outwardly appear to pose a threat, but we should be cautious until we better understand where they stand.

The ruins were similar to the previous discovery. Four stone pillars surrounded a hidden entrance mechanism at each site. Inside were various rooms. One held ornately crafted weapons of which we have brought back a sample of 8. They are too large and unwieldy for orcs to use, but we thought our smiths would find the craftsmanship and artistry interesting.

Our scholars, or the Open Hand, may find historical value in the weapons and the ruins for they seem to be from a time long since past, before the decline of ogre civilization. I am uncertain if it is some magic of the locations themselves or something the ogres were capable of, but each ruin has held animated ogre skeletons doing tedious tasks. It may have been that ogres were once capable of harnessing the spiritual energy of bones for labor, but without guidance these entities carry on without purpose.

Most disturbing of all, we have had to bear witness to ghostly apparitions of historical events. Yet we are not simply an audience for these events but are able to interact with the apparitions as if we were actually there when they occurred. They address us directly! We have witnessed a treaty between ogre and orc, the coronation of a new ogre king, and the torture and beheading of orc children by ogres in retaliation for some misdeed. Something happened to separate orc and ogre as enemies, but this history is not known even by wise old Dak.

We will continue to search for any additional ruins, but we have not seen any pattern in their positioning among Frostfire. Each site has also held a strange glyph which me will need resources to decipher.

My chieftain, I say this next part to you and you alone for it is pure speculation. Once we had seen the apparitions, on exiting the ruins we found that the chamber through which we had previously passed was covered in untouched dust as if no one had entered in ages, yet we had just gone through the chamber minutes before. I will look to the bones for wisdom, but this concerns me that the apparitions were set apart from the flow of time itself until the event could be witnessed. The witnessing of the event may have ended the hold in time and caused the entire location to rapidly return to normal expected age, thus the dust. The implication is that these are messages intentionally placed for some specific purpose. I request that you send others from the council to one of these sites now that they have been cleared of danger. My suspicion is that no such apparition will be found a second time.

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Ogre Ruins
A Tale Recounted by Vash to Tor'vash

Brother, the ogre ruins were quite interesting. I hope your oversight of Wolfpaw outpost was productive for you missed an adventure. Worry not, I will recount the glory for you so that you could live it as if you were there.

As you recall, we were summoned from Wolfpaw by Durotan and we left you in charge of the site as it was too important to leave without the guiding fist of a council member. Durotan was meeting with Doomhammer who was very impressive. His pecs rivaled your own, Tor’vash. We inquired about the Blackrock clan taking on our blacksmith to train him since they are fine craftsmen, and they agreed.

Next we were given the location of some ogre ruins and were dispatched to investigate. En route some cloaked marauders made the foolish mistake of attaching our company and paid dearly for it. I was a fury of fist and bone, but did you know that Bob, Dak’s goat, has a knack for battle as well. I called on the ancestors to give us dire strength which turned Tony as expected into a dire cat and he took one flank while I defended the other. Suddenly out of nowhere, Bob comes up behind me, transformed by my ancestral energy into a bone spiked devil goat and starts leaving gaping bite wounds in our foes. As it turns out, we probably shouldn’t eat that goat.

The ruins were accessed through hand sized carvings on some stone pillars which revealed a door. Dak for all his lore couldn’t figure it out but a series of palm strikes from me seemed to show the pillars who was boss and prove our strength and worthiness to enter. A stairway opened up below us.

There were rooms of shoddy art that even a half wit Orc child would be embarrassed to display. Other rooms of nothing but paper. A map of inaccurate proportions. A room with – and I am not joking – 3 animated ogre skeletons moving boxes back and forth. I wonder if these ogres were so wise in life that the very wisdom within their bones has taken on life of its own. It was a curious phenomena and one I would love to return to at another time for they remain their still as far as I know.

After destroying a rather large spider, we were able to open a locked door where we were greeted by some spirit of an ogre. It did not seem to know that it was dead nor that there was nothing else in the room for it moved about as if interacting with objects in the room which were clearly absent. This spirit brought us before 3 other spirits who were under the assumption that we were there to sign a trade deal defending ogre caravans. After an exasperating interaction, we did end up “signing” a spectral document which we could not read. Dak believes the ogre chieftain was the spirit of a great ogre chieftain who was thought to be a legend rather than a real person.

We returned to Frostwolf village with our story and an orb containing what appeared to be lightning. Neither Durotan nor Doomhammer could identify it, and neither could believe our tale, but I know you will believe me, brother.

Don’t worry. We won’t leave you out of our next conquest.

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Establishing Wolfpaw Outpost: Day 1
A Frostwolf Fireside Tale

You were lucky that we found you when we did. By the looks of you and your cave, you probably didn’t have much time left. Your women were gone and with that evil creature preventing you from leaving to hunt, you would have died in no time.

The ancestors have smiled upon you by sending us your way. You can avoid that grim fate by proving yourselves worthy to become Frostwolves. What does it mean to be Frostwolf? It means true strength: of body and spirit. It means forging order in chaotic wilderness. It means honoring the ancestors by keeping the old ways while forging a new path ahead.

By helping us build this new outpost, currently designated Wolfpaw, you will start making names for yourselves. Whatever names you had before, those belong to dead men. You will become something new, something greater. We will work on your discipline and mettle so that when this outpost is completed, we can march you in front of our great chieftain Durotan with confidence that you will be accepted fully as new brothers in the clan.

I’m the morning Dak and Oguk will start cataloguing your skills so we can best utilize your talents in this endeavor. Some will serve as labor to build the fortification. Others will be charged with defense. Still others will hunt food and gather supplies. Lastly, a few of you may be tasked with scouting the area with us as this region is unfamiliar to the Frostwolves while your knowledge may be more intimate.

We need Wolfpaw built and quickly. The Frostfire ogres have made their intent for war known. Wolfpaw will serve to support any advanced forces and provide surveillance of any movement toward Frostwolf village.

Besides ogres there are others out here. Before finding your cave, we also found some sick Draenei. It is not yet clear if that was an isolated occurrence or if more Draenei make their homes here. They did not appear threatening but we should be ever vigilant.

Eat up, boys. We get to work in earnest when the sun rises.

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Kargath comes to Frostfire/First Blood
A campfire tale of the Frostwolf clan

Brothers and sisters, you have no doubt seen the arrival of emissaries from the Open Hand. We are blessed by the presence of their leader, Kargath, himself. Perhaps you have even spoken with them regarding their grand plan to unite the clans. Let me reassure you that the Open Hand are diplomats and sages. They do not seek to unite through war but rather through the sharing of knowledge and trade. Essentially Kargath seeks to make the model of the clan and expanded to include all orcs under a unified banner.

Already we Frostwolves share our skills in order to survive. Indigo and Igorak bring us food. Dak mends our wounds and crafts magical trinkets. Oguk blazes trails into the wilderness beyond our village. Our great chieftain guides us with his wisdom. And Tor’vash and I bring honor to our clan in battle with our enemies.

Even now the Frostfire ogres seek our destruction, but we have a plan. In the morning we will take a group and begin the construction of a fort overlooking ogre territory and our own. We ask for any volunteers who wish there names to be remembered by the clan for their bravery. There will be danger as we have already slaughtered 2 scouting parties of ogres, and they may seek revenge. I say let them come! Let them have their fill of Frostwolf fists to the face and mouthfuls of their own blood! This land is our home and we shall not be parted from it!

I also have to admit to the wisdom of Kargath’s words. Perhaps we would be stronger united for we are beset by many enemies: ogre, Draenei, beasts, and the forces of nature. We will now and forever be Frostwolf, but maybe we could also be something more. It would dishonor our clan not to contemplate the offering of a welcomed guest.

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Division and Reunification
A fireside tale of the Frostwolf Clan

Durotan had a falling out with Indigo and her brother, the twins primarily responsible for gathering meat for the clan. As a result they had left, compromising the longevity of the clan just as we were being threatened by the Frostfire ogres. Durotan requested that 4 members of the council secretly search out the two and request there return.

Tor’vash and I eagerly volunteered for the glory of our clan. Oguk, the hunter who had led me into the wilderness and protected my body on my vision quest, agreed to go as well as we would need his survival skills. The shaman also consented to go in order to temper our youthful vigor with his knowledge and wisdom.

Several opportunities to demonstrate our might presented themselves. We slaughtered 4 dire wolverines that rabidly attacked us. I stripped their bones to honor our primal ancestors and there power became ours. We crossed paths with several members of the Red Walker Clan and joined them in a storied battle with a wraith and several wights. Oguk’s tiger, Tony, suffered grave injury but survived. The cat is brave but is still a beast and no match for the nobility and greatness of an orc for our destiny is to dominate Draenor.

We found Indigo and her brother in a cave. The nature of their quarrel with Durotan was not clearly stated, but the shaman had heard rumors that the dispute was over moving the clan from their more defensible current position to a location more centralized for hunting wild game. The twins lost our respect for the childish way in which they defied our chieftain, but would later earn some modicum of respect back by demonstrating their prowess against a salamander and several fire iphrits. If only there sense of propriety was as strong as their martial skill, they would have seats on the council and Frostwolf would be greater than ever.

We returned to the Frostwolf clan with the twins, who agreed to stay. Durotan has now tasked us with sending a message to the Frostfire ogres who threaten our existence. Tor’vash and I rejoice in another opportunity to establish our legend and honor the ancestors.

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