League of Nil-ith Horn

The Men and Orcs of the League of Nil-ith Horn

The League of Nil-ith Horn is a merchant association formed by an alliance between the cities of Grunevald, Korvald and Kirkisvald, the major cities surrounding the Bay of Nil-ith Horn. Trade in these lands is a dangerous and risky business and the only way for merchants to protect themselves is by traveling together. The impetus for the formation of the League of Nil-ith Horn (LNH) was to protect its merchants involved in trading highly profitable Gautrian hemus potions (made from the healing swamp lotus only found in Gautia), and in the vast slave markets of the Vangen Orcs. While each city has its own merchant association (merchants’ guild) the alliance forms a loose Diet, or parliament, to govern inter-city trade and common policies. The trade between Grunevald, the only human city in the League, and the Valensian Empire (the dominant human empire) provide sea routes to all Imperial cities and the only legitimate port for the orcs of the League to ship any goods through. In most respects the policy of the merchants is protectionist and aimed at producing a Grunevaldian monopoly in the slave markets they supply.

The League of Nil-ith Horn and surrounding lands

The League of Nil-ith Horn Diet meets only infrequently and is filled with divisive politics based on differences in regional priorities. It is more frequent that the regional assemblies, known as ‘Thirds’, meet. There is a Grunevald ‘Third’ based on the internal and sea trades, a Korvald ‘Third’ based on slaves bought out of Kednvald, and a Kirkisvald ‘Third’ based on the hemus trade from Gautria and minerals from the Great Northern mountains. The predominant city in all dealings is Grunevald, which holds a central position as the only human port on the Nil-ith-Horn. The orc cities often complain that the merchants from Grunevald are given advantages over their own merchants.

The Grunevaldians, a race of seafaring men now under the rule of the Valesian Empire, claim the title of Masters of the League of Nil-ith Horn. From their capital city of Grunevald they dominate the other towns and cities of the League. Recently these men have raided and taken Gautrian lands on Lake Kisilev. Led by their famous conquering hero Boyar Gert Theovald the Grunevaldians have established a small kingdom of their own from the keep town of Berwik.

Boyar Gert Theovald and his Grunevaldian heavy infantry

LNH Orc Valdgrafs in the Grunevaldian market at Theovald Hall.

Kirkisvald is the more powerful of the two orc city states within the League of Nil-ith Horn. Its position on the northern most point of Nil-ith Horn bay makes it a wealthy and important trading port in the region. The political and financial interests of this LNH city-state are closely tied to that of their human “masters”, the men of Grunevald. As such many of their orc soldiers (called smerdi or “stinking ones” by the men of LNH) serve in the armies of Grunevald under human commanders. Some of Kirkisvald’s more wealthy and prominent clans have become belligerent recently, often acting autonomously in the LNH frontier regions.  

Graf Gozek and his LHN smerdi

Korvald is an orc city-state situated on the southwestern coast of Nil-ith Horn Bay. Not as important or wealthy as its sister city Kirkisvald, the orc sailors of Korvald are known to plunder the sea ways of Valensia’s great empire, and its greedy merchants are said to smuggle slaves through their own illegal routes. Korvald has suffered damaging reprisals and repudiation as a result. Recently some ambitious orcs of Korvald have devoted their energies to bring the LNH “Temple of The One God” to the neighboring Vangen orcs who have long harried their western borders.

Competing guilds, companies, and families belonging to every city of the League of Nil-ith Horn look for economic advantage and opportunity in neighboring Gautria.  From the lands rich in minerals and peoples, to the hemus lotus native only to its “troll swamps”, the kingdoms of Gautria posses vast and varied wealth to be exploited by the LNH. The League now is focused on control of Ondskap Mere, the great hemus swamp in the contested borderlands of the Vangen and Gautrian Kingdoms.

Vangen Orcs

The Vangen Kingdom

Valden the Ruthless and his personal retinue

The Vangens are a tribe of Great Northern orcs; their recent rise has been due to the great military successes of Valden The Ruthless. The Vangen Kingdom was established by Valden, a brutal and oppressive urog Hertog. Since his conversion to the “Temple of The One God” by the influential High Priest of Korvald, Ursio Erembald, Valden’s armies have unified many of the Vangen tribes into one strong kingdom.

Valden’s horde, well-armed through trade with the LNH.

Under the direction of High Priest Ursio Erembald, orc priests of the League of Nil-ith Horn provide Valden and his urog lords with a literate body of administrators and tax collectors. With their services Valden is able to run an efficient central government from his stronghold of Kednvald.

The Vangen Kingom and surrounding lands

All of the priests are protected by Valden’s laws and his vassal urog Hertogs, and all are held in high regard. The warriors answer to Valden as does the head of the League of Nil-ith Horn “Temple of The One God”, Ursio Erembald, the Habrok of Kednvald. At his capital of Kednvald Valden has seen the many wonders of the League of Nil-ith Horn civilization and the great benefits their new religion has brought to his orc subjects.

Vangen and LNH commerce over the Kednvald Bridge.

Great Northern orcs are free-spirited and fiercely independent however, and countless rebellions have broken out in Valden’s kingdom over its 22 year history. Many Vangens and Kromgaards refuse to accept the “God of Man” and persist in worshipping their own Ancient gods. Their complete conversion is an important matter to Valden, for he has renounced goblins and shaman. Valden believes the only true god to be “The One God, Lord of Light”.

Vangen orcs gather at “The Temple of the One God” in Kednvald

 

The Vangen orcs were part of the Great Northern orc migration and carried with them the gods and majiks of ancient orc lore. Their religion is polytheistic and majik oriented, goblins and shaman spread their cults through great displays of power. These orcs have many different beliefs and oft times magic cults will collide and bloody strife will result. Such is the way of the Great Northern orcs.

A Vangen margrave crosses Kednvald Bridge

Valden “The Ruthless” seeks now to change their ways. Adopting the more civilized religion of the League of Nil-ith Horn orcs, he has welcomed the priests of “The One God” and forcibly converted his own subjects. The “God of Man” has been well received in Kednvald, and other urban centers, but the borderlands of Valden’s kingdom have resisted. Led by powerful goblins, shaman and urog warlords the rebels have fought for over two decades with Valden’s mighty armies.

 

Orc Hall

Our Great Northern Orc Tribes needed some heavy fortifications (and feasting spots!) of their own.

Orc Temple

“What does a Great Northern Orc Temple look like?”

That question was asked at the crafting counter one fateful day. Those type of questions usually result in a hobbying frenzy and output of newly-actualized factions or architectural style. This question was no exception to the tool.

 

Orc City Dwellings

After construction on both the Great Northern Orc Temple and Orc Hall was complete, the workers and lesser chiefs got housing as well. 

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #53 – Battle of Hellgate Pass

King Kvig led his army to victory over the Varak orcs who had appropriated the mines of Hellgate from Kvig’s vassal Vestar Vastar. (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #52- The Battle for Hellgate Mines). Kvig now had to decide who to install as jarl over the newly-recovered mines.

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The Kildarian knight Baron Vulmar was outspoken, “We Kildarians have won many battles for you, King Kvig. Vestar has wasted the lives of many warriors and many more miners. Give me the mines and let Kildarian expertise get you rich! I will have these mines spilling forth silver the Vastars’ couldn’t even imagine.”

Vestar Vastar was enraged. “Generations of Vastar blood have paid for Hellgate silver! My clan has fought the Varak orcs time and again. These are my lands by right!”

Kvig surveyed Vestar and his many injured and poorly-armored bonders. Then King Kvig looked to Baron Vulmar and the Kilarians. The elite knights stood tall in their bloodied chainmail. It seemed an easy decision.

“Baron Vulmar shall have Hellgate mines and the keep at Sigivald Hold,” announced Kvig. “Any of Clan Vastar who wish to stay will be given positions defending the lands, or working the mines.”

“Odin curse you, Kvig Melgarson!” exclaimed Vestar. “You and your witch-queen have brought my son to death’s door and cheated my clan. I will have repayment for all your wrongs.” Vestar Vastar gathered a few loyal men and left Sigivald Hold.

Sigivald Hold, ruled by Vestar Vastar.

As the rest of the warriors of Clan Vastar prepared for battle, Bleddyn’s ulfhednar scouts brought a respected adversary to him. Bjorn the Mighty (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #50- Sword and Sorcery) had come to fight against the orcs. Bjorn looked to show his gratitude for the mercy Kvig and Bleddyn showed him (Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer).

“The orcs gather at Hellgate Pass. I have brought my men and those of my kin who would join you and push the orcs back into the mountains,” said Bjorn. “Bleddyn, take my brothers among your ulfhednar.”

Bjorn introduced his cousin Karlsefni. Karlsefni had been a slave to the Varak orcs in the west.

“The Varak orcs look to reclaim these lands on the lake,” said Karlsefni. “We have tracked a new group through Hellgate Pass. They scream for blood, King Kvig, and they are coming with a War-God.”

“War-God?” asked Kvig.

“You will see on the battlefield,” answered Karlsefni.

King Kvig, Bleddyn and Wynston marched their troops to Hellgate Pass, and saw the orcs there ready for battle.

Several wild orcs with javelins populated the jagged cliffsides.

Scores more orcs assembled in tight formations, blocking the road through the pass.

King Kvig’s men responded in kind, spreading their forces in a long line across the pass.

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The War-God stood before the orcs and bellowed to his troops.

The heavy infantry of the Gautrian army trudged into the pass.

The speedy ulfhednar and mounted knights sprinted across the gap.

The War-God held his ranks in check.

King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn charged the two-headed War-God with uncanny speed.

Wynston’s picked men ran up the hill in pursuit of the wild orcs and shaman.

The shielded orcs lined up against the human cavalry on one flank, and the heavy infantry on the other.

The War-God held fast in the center against King Kvig, Wynston, and Bleddyn.

The Gautrians’ left flank was pushed hard by the armored orcs.

But it was not enough to threaten the integrity of Kvig’s line.

The unarmored orcs fell to the ulfhednar on the human’s right flank.

The wild orcs all routed, or were slain. The last kill was up to Wynston, Kvig and Bleddyn.

Soon, all that remained of the War-God were two severed heads waiting to be tied to Kvig’s saddle.

“They will return from their side of the mountains, King Kvig,” said Karlsefni. “You cut through their War-God in this battle, but the Varaks will send more fighters. On the other side of Hellgate pass lies their fortress of Langar. They have many of my people enslaved in that compound. Lead us there King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and we will destroy their stronghold and keep the Varak orcs from returning to Gautria!”

Kvig thought for the briefest of moments before turning to his champion Bleddyn and minister Wynston. “There is only one way to push the orcs out of our lands. We must take the fight to them! To Langar!”

What will King Kvig find through Hellgate Pass? Will the Varak orcs fall before the advancing North Gautrian army? The adventures continue…

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #5- Road to Dalthu

Eskander Toshe returned to Rostok Hold with victories from his first mission under Boyar Thonkrik’s command. He and his urog ally Vaak Akarya opened the Mines of Rostok (LNHC #3). Eskander then slew the Upplander hero Valgar Ottarson during Valgar’s failed ambush upon Eskander’s troops on the Silver Road (LNHC #4).

Boyar Thonkrik was pleased, and a bit surprised, at Eskander’s successes.

“Well done!” Thonkrik congratulated Eskander. “You’re the one I need to take our considerations to Hertog Torkag at his fortress of Dalthu.  We’ve got two towers on the road to Kisevald that need to be rebuilt and manned against Bothvar Helgeson and his miserable Upplanders. I need you to convince Torkag to send three units for our final push to rid our side of the river of these savages.

“I’ll have a wagon loaded with gifts of great expense: silver, weapons, wine! Let him know his urog Vaak can run the silver mines for us. Just bring back fighting bodies.

I can only trust a man of your background with this, Eskander. So, no other officers can go, instead take that orc Gazzi you like so much. His valgrafs and Vaak’s orcs will see you through to Dalthu.

And Eskander- leave your horse here.”

The next morning, crates, casks and goods were piled on the wagon for the northern journey to Dalthu. Eskander saw jugs of Grunevaldian wine among the offerings. Boyar Thonkrik was lavishing gifts on this Hertog Torkag.

As promised for Vaak Akarya’s service in slaying the renegade urog at Rostok Mines, a two-handed steel sword was waiting in the armory for her. Eskander gave her the sword, and the news that she would be the urog to hold the silver mines.

Gazzi and his valdgrafs took postition about the yak-drawn cart and the party left. The weather was bad and the roads were worse. The scouts could find no easy way through the swampy trail.

The supply-laden wagon made slow progress on the swampy road.

The supply-laden wagon made slow progress on the swampy road.

 

The wagon frequently bogged down in the mud and needed to be worked free.

The wagon frequently bogged down in the mud and needed to be worked free.

Shapes moved in the trees.

Vaak Akarya's orc captain spotted something amiss off the road.

Vaak Akarya’s orc captain spotted something amiss off the road.

Savage orc screeches were heard from the high rocks.

 

Several wild orcs appeared in the ruins on the cliffs above and hurled javelins at the stopped groups of orcs.

Several wild orcs appeared in the ruins on the cliffs above and hurled javelins at the stopped groups of orcs.

Vaak ordered her orcs to be ready for the ground attack while she went to the wagon.

Vaak ordered her orcs to be ready for the ground attack while she went to the wagon.

A giant urog dropped from the cliffs into the road in front of them.

Vaak closed with the savage urog.

Vaak closed with the savage urog.

 

Vaak's orcs intercepted the wild orcs on the ground.

Vaak’s orcs intercepted the wild orcs on the ground.

 

The steel weapons of the League forces were too mighty for the unarmored wild orcs.

The steel weapons of the League forces were too mighty for the unarmored wild orcs.

The wild urog smashed Vaak to the ground with his massive hammer. As she fell, Gazzi’s valdgrafs stepped into the battle and surrounded the urog. After trading many blows with him, the valdgrafs at last overcame the giant.

With the death of their leader, the remaining savage orcs scattered into the woods. The caravan regrouped and continued the march to Dalthu.

 

League of Nil-ith Horn Chronicles #4 – Ottarson’s Ambush

Eskander Toshe secured another victory for the League of Nil-ith Horn and reclaimed control over the Mines of Rostok. His urog ally Vaak Akarya insisted she and her orcs accompany them back to Rostok Hold to protect against the humans from the Upplands who frequently attacked the caravans and troops on the Silver Road.

The Upplanders spoke many boasts to ready themselves before the League of Nil-ith Horn army marched through their ambush.

Valgar Ottarson made brave boasts to his warriors they would crush the League of Nil-ith Horn forces in their ambush on the Silver Road.

Eskander agreed and they marched together for Rostok Hold. Very shortly, the scouts brought Eskander word of  significant enemies ahead. The Upplanders awaited their army.

The urog Vaak Akarya led 2 units of orcs to bolster the League infantry under Ekander Toshe.

The League of Nil-ith Horn forces deployed ready for a fierce fight through the pass.

Lookouts spotted the League army arrayed for battle on the road.

Valgar Ottarson gave orders for the Upplanders to take position.

The bonders shook their swords and shields.

Valgar’s bonders positioned themselves up the cliffside above the route of march the heavily armored Nil-ith Horn infantry would have to take.

The swift-moving ulfhednar bore down the road towards the pass.

The ulfhednar ran straight towards the pass at the League army, and instead climbed the short cliff by the bonders.

Valgar Ottarson called his elite berserk warriors to his side.

The utvalt men hurled insults at the orcs while Valgar Ottarson summoned a unit of elite berserk warriors from out of hiding.

"Let no orcs through this day!"

Valgar rallied his warriors as the League of Nil-ith Horn troops approached.

Gazzi brought his elite valdgrafs along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass.

Vaak Akarya brought her units up the left flank. The smerdi led the way for the League forces, followed by the League’s Gautrain Guardsmen.

Gazzi and his elite valdgrafs climbed along the ridge while the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry marched into the pass. Eskander and his officer Selibek held their horses to the rear.

Vaak's orcs challenged the berserks.

The League shields proved strong against the javelin fire as the infantry entered the pass.

Shielded bonders rained javelins down on the League of Nil-ith Horn infantry.

Though the bonders had the advantage of height, their javelins failed to drop any League orcs.

The ulfhednar ran through the woods and wrappped behind the slower League infantry.

The ulfhednar passed through the wooded terrain and attacked the rear of the League infantry.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The berserks jumped down to slay the smerdi.

The smerdi fell in numbers to Valgar Ottarson and the berserks.

The smerdi stood strong against Valgar and the berserks.

One resilent smerdi stood against the mighty Valgar and his elite berserks.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

While the stoic League smerdi pinned the berserks, the Gautrian Guardsmen fought the ulfhedanr, and the valdgrafs destroyed the utvalt men.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak's orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

The last smerdi was slain, and Vaak’s orcs crashed into the melee against Valgar.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

Vaak and Eskander joined their strength to bring down the ulfhednar priest.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

As all seemed lost for the Upplanders, the bonders leapt into the fray.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

The orc reavers overpowered the lightly armored bonders, while the Gautrian Guardsmen stepped over the fallen orcs and hewed at Valgar and the berserks.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

Finally, Eskander and Vaak closed with Valgar Ottarson, and the heroes slew the mighty Upplander.

Sagas of the Gautrian Kings #51- The Warbringer

King Kvig won a sound victory over King Magnus as Kvig defended Mosveld against Magnus’ treacherous attacks. Two of Magnus’ units abandoned him during the battle and declared loyalty to King Kvig. Kvig demanded oaths from the men and their leaders: Kvig’s cousin the mighty soldier Bolverk Skallason, and Baron Vulmar Voclain, the Kildarian knight, pledged themselves and their elite units to King Kvig. King Kvig also showed mercy to Bjorn and his berserk warriors when he allowed Bleddyn to heal and release Bjorn from the city.

Kvig gathered his forces the next day and set on a march to chase Magnus from North Gautria. King Kvig pursued Magnus to the river dividing North from South.

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There the two kings were met by the third most powerful man in Gautria, Kvig’s uncle Skalla Grimson. Jarl Grimson had crossed the river from his home of Jarlin with troops to rival either of the kings’ forces.

Tense negotiations ensued.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

Skalla wanted the warring kings to understand their fight would cripple Gautria and leave her open to orc invasion. At last, Kvig and Magnus made peace and agreed to each keep to his own side of the river. Kvig went North, while Skalla Grimson escorted Magnus south.

Kvig and his army returned to his capital city of Mosveld. The tall, handsome Thrand Vesterson was waiting for Kvig in the Queen’s keep there.

“My father is in desperate need against the orcs,” Thrand said to Kvig. “The foul creatures have inhabited the old stone fortress of Dakagog and from that place of strength they threaten Sigivald and all your lands west over Lake Tagova. Sail with me, King Kvig, Orc-Slayer, and I will land your boats at Dakagog and join your men in the slaughter of those wretched orcs!”

“Agreed, young Thrand,” replied Kvig heartily. “We will take you from here and do what your father can not!”

King Kvig assembled a small force made up of his own veteran shield bearers, a unit of unarmored but highly mobile picked men commanded by Wynston, and a unit of ulfhednar loyal to Bleddyn. Kvig also chose the newly-sworn unit of elite Kildarian knights to accompany them.

Thrand Vesterson confidently steered the boats across Lake Tagova, and brought them without event to the shores of the orc fortress of Dakagog.

Thrand put in at the landing. Kvig led the charge up the hill, with Thrand and Baron Vulmar at his side.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

Bleddyn and Wynston brought their men scrambling up the rocks on the flank.

The wild orcs put up a vicious defense. Wynston’s picked men were whittled down as they tried to climb the hill. Bleddyn and his ulfhednar slowly pushed the orcs back.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

The orcs held strong at the top of the stone staircase against Kvig’s well-armored forces. The narrow steps left no room for Kvig to bring his numbers to bear.

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Kvig and his heroes hewed down orc after orc, slowly opening the space to gain a foothold on the crest of the hill.

Bleddyn’s unit broke the orcs on the flank and manuevered behind the orcs pinning Kvig and the heavy infantry on the hillltop.

Halvdan the hero smashed throught the line to attack one of the two urogs threatening Kvig. Wynston left her dwindling unit and ran across the cliffs to join the melee. She picked out the other urog attacking Kvig and hacked into its back. The three heroes quickly finished the two urogs.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

Bleddyn and the ulfhednar engaged the remaining orcs.

Sagas of The Gautrian Kings #51

Outnumbered, the orcs were soon slaughtered by the human invaders.

King Kvig called to the orcs that had barricaded themselves in the fortress to offer terms, but there was only silence from the stones. The humans set to opening the gates with force. Even unopposed, it was several hours before the humans cracked the fortress and Kvig stood inside the empty hall of Dakagog.

King Kvig had removed a good-size orc force from his western lands, but Thrand Vesterson said many large groups of wild orcs still populated these hills. Can Kvig and his forces reclaim the lands from the orcs? And how would Kvig deal with his vassal, Vester Vaster, and his inability to defend the King’s holdings?