From the Liche King to the Orc King – A Letter

Ghosts of dragons are pathetic things. They are lesser without that molten heat coming from their guts, the magic in their blood, the greed in their eyes.

Still, even for me, having one arrive in my study was enough for me to halt my studies.

“They’ve found your exile and they’re going to use him as their precious little pawn in order to kill you.”

I would have smiled had I the lips. I hadn’t waited for my skull-flesh to rot but had cut it from my bones with the same ritual dagger that had killed my heart. Expressions give away too much. If someone wishes to know my will, they must look into the twin star-points of my eyes.

“Kill me like they killed you, old friend? Is that it?”

“These aren’t common orc, you dead bastard. They don’t fear you,” the ghost snarled and for a moment, he had some of his old fire. I could almost feel it. Almost.

“Thank you for making my day interesting, my lady. May what remains of your hoard cause generations of dwarves kin-slaying feuds beyond number.”

Her ghost faded away at that. Mentioning their hoard tends to take the rattle out of their chains.

Ghosts of a more common breed brought me my quill and parchment. I wrote the letter on stationary be-fitting a king, one to another. They’re orc but they’ll appreciate that touch. I sent a knight I could trust with a long journey over the ocean but also one whose death wouldn’t spark any kind of problem among the ducal fiefs. Last thing any liche-king needs is a feud among their vampire fiefs.

“Take this letter to the orc king. Treat him as you would treat any king of the quick who wear the crown and deliver him this letter, only deliverable to an orc king who is also a dragon-slayer. I’d encourage you to bring your own feed; orc blood is notoriously foul but the king might be kind enough to feed you from his stores.

“Be courteous. Be kind. Don’t allow them to unmake you without giving them something to consider before they do so.”

-The handwriting has centuries in every letter. It is as if it has had centuries to consider each letter of the Black Tongue, wringing meaning from every word like blood from an elven banner.-

Orc King, Overlord of the Broken Mountains, Master Over Grief, Greed, Faith, Spite and Hatred, He Who is Mighty and Earned the Ancient Rite to be Named Above and Beyond All Others Named

None might appreciate your place in your society better than myself.

I too rule a bloodthirsty group of monsters who none thought could rise from beyond their meager territories. I plucked them myself from graveyards and abandoned keeps, from sewers and from other dark, forgotten places. Our boundaries were probably much like your Broken Mountains, barren places no others wanted.

I miss those days, gathering monsters under my spell, putting together an empire and putting down enemies by claw or by spell. Perhaps some day you will miss those days too. Perhaps not.

The words I have written were not done so to gain your trust, only so that you understand fully that we have more in common than we do in difference, despite your breath and your pulse.

Inspiration for this letter came from your contact with a convict in exile from my empire. It is a weakness of my kind that taking existence from another creature, to snuff it completely is not done lightly, hence Radomil’s continued existence in the graveyard that was once the austere court of the Winter King. My apologies that I did not send it sooner, I should have done so as soon as word reached us that you were not merely a Named, nor just a king but a master of a mighty empire with a scarred banner.

It could be that you detect the contempt and condescension that you have found from your living colleagues and neighbors in the previous paragraph. Neither are present, please believe this.

The moment you did not kill the Eight-Legged Empress I should have contacted you. It was foolery not to. For this and this alone, one king to another, I apologize.

Let me now write to you of kingly things, of thrones and boundaries, of power and blood, of war and conquest. I want nothing on your continent. Elves and Dwarves hold no interest to me and now that the dragon is dead, your continent holds nothing that interests me in the slightest.

The 13 human city-states have their value but I can’t imagine you would not have your eye southward eventually. When this occurs we will split up the 13 city-states evenly, cutting the 13th city evenly in half with the dead on one side and the orc upon the other.

You will never have to bend knee to me, nor I to you and our people need never war. I am gambling here, gambling just as I did when I took my own life in a ritual that promised an eternity of arcane power. I am gambling that you have begun to either marshal your hatred or that you have done away with such a thing all together. Perhaps you have begun to Spite or perhaps you have put the hatred to use. It is of no matter to me.

I will never meet you, nor will I ever meet your sons, your daughters nor your heirs. You will do what you need to the world with hatred, hell and blood and I will do what I need to the world with death, dark and knowledge.

You may send a response back with my messenger. He will wait. Or you could send a messenger of your own to my kingdom. I would ask that you send but a single living soul, as the dead are shy.

I will wait for your response patiently but will not wait forever.

One crown to another,

L-

Crediting my sources: Calling the living, the quick is entirely ripped off from China Mieville’s Bas Lag books (Perdido Street Station, The Scar and Iron Council).

I loved it too much to leave it out; its too damned brilliant.

 

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15 thoughts on “From the Liche King to the Orc King – A Letter

  1. Excellent! I also loved the bit about the face. An ear for the creepy, you’ve got!

    Looking forward to see how those two orcs handle the undead. I wonder if that’ll be what finally gets them?

    Also, over at the Burning Orcs RPG.net thread, I really dig that little king/demon aside. So wise skills act as a sort of GM-provides-all-the-info-Circles roll?

    • Wises

      Wises can also be used for the players to make shit up too but I had a good idea and knew my gamers would dig it. Honestly, wises are the biggest hippie/indie point of Burning Wheel.

    • Wises

      Wises can also be used for the players to make shit up too but I had a good idea and knew my gamers would dig it. Honestly, wises are the biggest hippie/indie point of Burning Wheel.

    • Wises

      Wises can also be used for the players to make shit up too but I had a good idea and knew my gamers would dig it. Honestly, wises are the biggest hippie/indie point of Burning Wheel.

  2. Excellent! I also loved the bit about the face. An ear for the creepy, you’ve got!

    Looking forward to see how those two orcs handle the undead. I wonder if that’ll be what finally gets them?

    Also, over at the Burning Orcs RPG.net thread, I really dig that little king/demon aside. So wise skills act as a sort of GM-provides-all-the-info-Circles roll?

  3. Excellent! I also loved the bit about the face. An ear for the creepy, you’ve got!

    Looking forward to see how those two orcs handle the undead. I wonder if that’ll be what finally gets them?

    Also, over at the Burning Orcs RPG.net thread, I really dig that little king/demon aside. So wise skills act as a sort of GM-provides-all-the-info-Circles roll?

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