Half-orcs exist uneasily between two worlds: the wild and often bloodthirsty culture of their orc parent on the one hand and the domesticated and frequently complex civilization of their human parent on the other. Gorin Thorian is one such individual. An orphan since birth, Gorin was adopted by a clan of good wizards, who found him abandoned in the forest outside their citadel. The wizards, all of whom were human, treated Gorin like their own child. Noticing the boy's natural intelligence, many of them devoted time away from their own studies to train Gorin in the magical arts.
Still, Gorin could not help but notice the differences between his foster parents and himself. His orc features set him apart from the other members of the enclave. They lacked his yellow tusks and coarse dark hair. They also all seemed much weaker than him, and, as Gorin grew up, he found himself frequently called upon to open stubborn jars of magic herbs or to lift heavy magic equipment that was too delicate to entrust to a simple telekinesis spell. This left Gorin feeling isolated and alone, for though his foster parents loved him, he was still not truly one of them. Because of this, his initial forays into arcane spellcasting all centered on ways to alter his appearance to more closely resemble that of the humans who surrounded him.
Gorin became sullen and withdrawn because of his feeling of isolation. He spent most evenings alone in the enclave library, devouring any books he could find that touched on orc history and culture. As he approached his early twenties, Gorin's only true friend was his familiar, a cat he had named Throkk after a mythical orc hero.
In time, Gorin grew dissatisfied with life in the enclave. He could not believe that all of the things he had read about orcs were true: Orcs were evil and uncivilized cannibals who butchered other humanoid races for sport. He wanted to see them for himself, as well as live among them and experience their culture. His foster parents were sorry to see him leave, but they understood why the young man had to go. To help him on his journey, the wizards equipped him with a ring of protection +1.
Gorin traveled to the outlands, where he attempted to join the first orc tribe he encountered. The initial meeting went badly for Gorin at first because of his lack of combat expertise. The orcs attacked him, beat him badly, and killed his horse. The orc chieftain was about to eat Throkk for his noonday meal, when Gorin resorted to magic. He cast fireball into a group of orcs, killing many of them, including the tribe's adept. The orc tribe had never seen one like them who could use such powerful arcane magic. Convinced of Gorin's power and his usefulness, the orc chieftain returned Throkk to him and appointed him the new tribal adept.
Gorin spent several years among the orcs, learning their ways and adapting his body to the harsh conditions of the wilderness. He even learned to fight with the traditional double-bladed orc axe, though he did not take to wearing armor since it interfered with his spellcasting, and he never learned how to use the axe as a double weapon.
Gorin's advice and magical aptitude led the orc tribe to greater and greater victories, enhancing their wealth and prestige until they were among the most powerful in the outlands.
However, Gorin became increasingly disillusioned by life among the primitive orc tribes. He had hoped to find a noble warrior race living in harmony with their harsh surroundings. Instead, Gorin found a cruel people that was consumed by evil and dedicated to the violent worship of Gruumsh, the orc deity. Gorin took it upon himself to show the orcs a better way by counseling them to abandon their fruitless warfare and infighting. Gorin's views became unpopular with the orc chieftain, who began to feel that the wizard had outlived his usefulness. Gorin's magic prevailed in the end, however: The same divination spells that he'd used to catapult the chieftain to power also alerted him to the chieftain's treachery. When the chieftain struck, Gorin was ready. The orc warriors loyal to Gorin and the orc wizards Gorin had trained easily prevailed over the chieftain's forces.
Finding himself suddenly the ruler of a powerful orc clan, Gorin took stock of his life. He realized that he hadn't found what he'd hope to find among the orc tribes. So he turned his back on the traditional orc ways and, taking seven of his most promising orc acolytes with him, he retreated from the world to devote himself to magic and learning. One day, he hoped, his students would return to the tribes to share their wisdom and turn the orcs away from their fruitless existence of ignorance and bloodshed.
About the Author
Ramon Arjona is a software developer with Wizards of The Coast. His poetry has appeared in the Absinthe Literary Review (www.absinthe-literary-review.com) and the Hawaii Review. His short stories have appeared in Strange Horizons (www.strangehorizons.com).