About orcs – part III

Thrakbog sitting in a flowerBy rule, orcs do not live in cities, not even villages or similar settlements. There are a few exceptions though, where the local conditions allow for nothing else and prove the race’s enormous adaptability. Being constantly on the move is the easiest way to feed and have fun, but occasionally settling might prove useful. The cave orc has a tendency to conquer the whole cave complex as a change of accommodation might be impossible due to a general lack of caves in the area. This sub-race is the only one that has established a lasting form of creative art (cave painting: stripes, dots, whatever their taste allows), other than the body decoration mentioned above (tattoos etc.), which is quite common regardless of climate or area.

Marriage is temporary and follows the principle “I-saw-her-first”. Glorious warriors might find themselves under siege by willing females. To have as many wives as one can feed is regarded as normal. In rare cases a she-orc can have several males to serve her needs, especially when she is regarded as a holy orc or is one of the very few female warrior chieftains.
Ending a marriage is mostly a matter of strength or recklessness, but non-violent separations are not uncommon either. Basically one moves their belongings to the next available fire (where the arrival might face rejection, but that is another matter). It is also known that this stuff-moving is done by a rival – against one’s wishes – which consequently is dealt with by the principle of raw violence.

Same-sex relationships are rare but not uncommon, especially amongst male orcs that are bound together in so-called clubs. Those have forsworn female company altogether to dedicate their lives to battle and warfare (and drinking of course). The male coupling is their form of deepening their bonds and displaying solidarity as much as laying claim to leadership amongst them.
Whatever the womenfolk do when the males are not at home is of no interest to anyone anyway. This gives she-orcs a form of liberty to run the daily chores whichever way they like that is unique amongst primeval races. Whether this is due to the males not bothering or the females having the louder voices has been a matter of debate since creation.
She-warriors are not as rare as one might think, even though they normally do not lead the tribes. Some tribes have gained a reputation for producing a frightening number of purely female bands that put the fear of the gods in all their enemies’ hearts (before they tear them out). These are highly respected by their fellow males (the author uses the word ‘respect’ quite loosely here).

An orc is regarded as grown-up when he or she says so. As a consequence one occasionally finds the eight year old warrior as well as the forty year old childish idiot. The first is likely to become a legend, the latter will only survive that long by becoming a priest. Generally, priesthood is the only acceptable occupation when one is determined to avoid battle, but the candidate must face some pretty tricky tests by his or her fellow orcs in order to remove any trace of doubt that the orc qualifies as the tribe’s twit.
These priests are provided with food and shelter by the community or some charitable families and are proof that orcs indeed show high social competence if necessary.

Educating the young is a compromise between utter freedom and rule of the strongest. Orc offspring and slave offspring are regarded as entirely equal when it comes to being treated like shit. Generally, slavery is only a passing period directly following captivity. Usually it swiftly moves into assimilation or flight/barter/death.

Blood feuds are very rare, as most orcs prefer not to be limited when it comes to opportunities for battling. Also the orcish brain is not made for large amounts of input, i.e. their long-term memory is not worth mentioning. Feuds between tribes rarely last more than one generation, with territorial disagreements being the only exception.

Sociability around a fire is regarded as pleasant, but guests are by no means treated with hospitality. In order to get fed everyone has to see to it for themselves. Presents are entirely unknown unless they are given with an ulterior motive.
Pompous feasts are the usual evening routine, alcohol is consideredOrc on a bottle as staple food (a lot more than horses by the way) and in any form easy on the orc’s stomach. Other creatures usually find it less agreeable.
Distilled and fermented is everything that nature or pillaging provides. It is an honourable pastime, especially for priests, to experiment with new combinations of recipes. Every form of alcohol is highly appreciated loot. Quite a few caravans have been ambushed and its folk spared (more or less) because the barrels of wine or beer were more important. After sobering up, the second debate (see above) usually proves to be useful and the caravans then are ambushed again to loot the rest.

Food is everything that is not drink. Hunger is regarded as more bearable than thirst, i.e. alcohol withdrawal. Water is not a drink and only swallowed by accident (see “bathing” in the next paragraph) or as a form of torture (taken over from humans).

Hygiene is regarded as unorcish wimpishness or simply human. An orc never bathes for reasons of cleansing or as a ritual. There are only two possible reasons for an orc to bathe: one is by accident, the other is being a priest-twit.
There is one exception though: the mud-bath. Its disinfectant quality is highly appreciated (and beside alcohol the only accepted form of orc medicine) and a mud-fight is quite common as evening entertainment. Consequently it became one of the categories in their sportive competitions (see next paragraph). A theory states that the mud-bath is the subconscious expression of the orcish soul to get back to where it once originated from. But then again, theorizing has never been a strong point of the orcish mind.

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