Rise of the Fallen
Some two centuries ago, the terrible Orc Wars reminded the mortal races why they had laid down their weapons some 300 years earlier after the Great Wars. Terrible and merciless foes, the Orcs and their allies reigned down slaughter and destruction upon the mortal kingdoms. The organizations created at the Summit of Argos following the Great Wars banded together, as did the mortal nations, and steadily drove back the Orcs, but suffered unspeakable losses. In a terrible war that cost so many thousands of lives, the mortals at last crushed the Orcish Horde. However, many mortal nations were shattered, and their lands remain abandoned ruins to this day.
In the year 293 AU (Anos Unifikatos, which means “Since the Year of Unification”), or 5474 E3, the first Orcish Warchief Grolkar Flametalon brought unity to the scattered Orcish tribes by initiating a massive military campaign against the Allied Realms. So profound was his mastery over inspiring those under him that he drew other monstrous species towards his banner; clans and tribes of ogres, trolls, minotaur, the various goblinoids, and smatterings of a few other races. Thus began the dreaded time of the Orc Wars, and the founding and consequently the invasion of the Orcish Horde. Still scarred from their long conflict three centuries before, unwilling to continue expansionist views for fear of returning to war with their fellow humanoid nations, and having no foreknowledge or warning of the swift invasion, Warchief Grolkar’s Orcish Horde quickly overran the border nations of the mortal lands.
Their morale bolstered by their recent string of victories, the Orcish forces became complacent in their battles, and the tactical minds of the human leaders saw this. They established weak defenses against the onslaught meant to imply weakness to further placate the Orcs, while they used teleportation magic to send immediate envoys to their allies—the dwarves, elves, and eladrin. For the most part, the humans offered only minimal resistance, spending the majority of their efforts evacuating the commoners. The Orcish sergeants enacted a Scorched Earth policy, if for no other reason than to keep the Grunts busy in the face of so little resistance. Within a month’s time, the Alliance forces had assembled, and brought the battle back to the Orcish Horde, pushing the beasts back across their borders.
The wars raged off and on for the next three decades, seemingly ceasing after the current generation had become too tired out to continue to put up a serious fight, and igniting once again as one leader was slain, enraging the one side, which then struck back at the other.
The last Warchief during the Orcish Wars, Warchief Kurdok, was a vicious warmonger who, unlike his predecessor Grolkar, ruled the Orcish Horde with fear rather than inspiration. He had little respect for his underlings, and only tolerated his generals because he knew it would be impossible to keep such a massive force in line by himself. He used guerrilla tactics, slaughtered innocent peasants rather than take them prisoners, and seemed to have an insatiable bloodlust. It was because of this unslakable thirst to utterly destroy his enemies that caused the Alliance to formulate a guerrilla maneuver of their own—to slay all the generals at once, and turn the rest of Kurdok’s forces against him through dissent and attrition. The Alliance cautiously put a call out for adventurers in a “desperate attempt” to help bolster the defenses of a particular border of the collective Alliance lands, knowing full well there would be Orcish spies to intercept the message. Instead, the adventurers gathered, and then called away to a remote camp to receive their true orders, should they agree beforehand to take part in the mission. The Alliance even recruited criminals into the mission, offering reduced sentences, eased containment conditions, or even early release.
The Alliance’s clandestine plot paid off. Several adventuring parties, having undergone intense training to prepare for the secretive mission, were deployed throughout the border attacks―thus confirming the misinformation administered to the Horde―and then disappeared as they swiftly infiltrated the Horde staging zones and assassinated the Orcish generals. They then proceeded to stir up trouble any way they could—to plant evidence of the deed placing blame upon one of the battalions, or amongst the different races within the Horde, and quickly the Horde fell into chaos. A few Orcish units assumed the Alliance had struck, and though they retaliated, were quickly defeated without the aid of their comrades. Kurdok himself saw he was quickly loosing control of his Horde, and flew into a rage, commanding all his forces to attack in one great assault, but the command spread only minimally, and the second wave of the Horde’s attack was halted almost as quickly as the first. Kurdok saw there was no way to win, and showed his true cowardice by trying to flee, but a few adventuring parties anticipated this, and worked diligently to capture him. The Orc Wars ended quite suddenly in this last battle when these adventuring parties succeeded in capturing the Orcish Warchief in 329 AU (5510 E3). The great Warchief Kurdok the Bloodsong, Kurdok the Vicious, the Manslayer, spent the last decade of his life rotting away in a human prison, eventually fading away and dying of failing health. This ultimate dishonor caused him to loose his already tenuous grasp on his sanity, and he also earned the moniker Kurdok the Mad.
Over the next year and a half, the forces that once made up the mighty Horde either perished or scattered, and in the three centuries since the end of the Orcish Wars the races have never been able to form a cohesive military organization.
Although many smaller skirmishes have occurred throughout the decades and centuries since—largely border disputes or monster attacks—the Orcish Wars were the last great conflict to affect the mortal races, and though it was nearly three centuries ago, many humans still consider it recent enough to warrant strong hatred of the Orcs and their former allies.