The Conscience of the Gods
Hrun Tarrok un Hunding
A fierce, strong warrior with a sense of honor.
Hrun was born in an orc tribe to an orc father and a half-orc mother. Given the number of times he was taunted as “half-man” by other orc children, he has grown somewhat sensitive about it and considers himself an orc rather than a half-orc. He favors his father in appearance so most non-orcs could easily take him for an orc, though orcs will suspect half-orc blood on seeing him. The Tarrok tribe was one of many that composed the Hunding clan/nation that roams the northern steppes and forests, moving from hunting ground to hunting ground on the dire wolves that served them as both mounts and a measure of tribal wealth. Hrun’s father was chief of the tribe and had a claim on the title of clanhead. Of course, just about every chief had some sort of claim on the title of clanhead. And like every other tribe, Hrun’s tribe believed that their chief was the only one that had a true claim and that all others were usurpers. The Veer-thuk tribe was the most successful in pressing that claim and was trying to put down dissenters and, after a few years of inter-tribal skirmishes, ambushed and slaughtered the Tarrok tribe in violation of a tradition that ordained one month of truce between the tribes as they travelled to and departed from their yearly gathering at their clan’s holy spot (the Veer-thuk claim the ambush took place one day before the truce went into effect. Orcs aren’t notoriously good timekeepers so, who knows, they may even be telling the truth). Hrun was only nine years old at the time but, when he returned from setting rabbit snares out in the woods to find his tribe dead or taken as slaves, he followed the killers, caught up with them, and challenged the Veer-thuk chief, Aalbren, to mortal combat. The chief laughed and beat him senseless and left him for dead. Hrun came to much later and wandered alone and disgraced until he was found by a human hunter and dropped off as a foundling at Noordhagen, a monastery of Kord. There he was educated and “civilized” while he still worked to remain a true orc, as nearly as he remembered what a true orc was. The brothers taught him to have a strong sense of honor to compliment his fierce nature. He grew up there as a hunter for the monastery. He had friends among the brothers and is grateful that they took him in but has now left them with the intent of strengthening himself so that one day he can return to challenge and defeat Aalbren, the Veer-thuk chief who murdered his tribe. He sees himself, due to the death of his father and older brothers, as the chief of the Tarrok tribe and has vowed to one day liberate the survivors from their enslavement and lead them into glory and even to exercise his “right” to be head of the Clan Hunding. This is not because he longs for power in any way—he sees this as the duty he owes his father. Allowing a false clanhead to rule, especially one who destroyed the Tarrok tribe, is an insult to his memory. The facts that none of this is very likely to happen and that the clanheadship of a dozen independent, uncooperative tribes isn’t at all the position of great authority that he thinks it is in no way deters his dreams. Nor does the fact that he is now too good and honorable to fit into orc society very well (he doesn’t realize this—he has somewhat idealized his old people and imagines that most of them would respect these qualities). Because he regards himself, through his dead father, as both the chief of the Tarrok and the true clanhead of Clan Hunding, he regards himself as a sort of nobility or even royalty, although he is tolerant that ignorant humans have trouble recognizing and understanding this. In his mind and memory a chief is equivalent to a baron and a clanhead is as good as a king and the Hunding clan is as numerous as the raindrops in a storm, not the paltry few thousand individuals that actually make up the dozen tribes. He is probably in for some rude awakenings someday.
It is worth noting that Hrun IS good, but his belief that certain orc customs are perfectly fine (such as taking trophies from defeated enemies) may make others wonder. Even though he is young, he tends to be serious and tries to be thoughtful, wise, loyal, and honorable as that is what he imagines a clanhead should be. He believes he has a destiny and that his rescue by the brothers of Noordhagen is indicative that Kord has chosen him for something great.
The Hunding clan:
These orcs are not as chaotic as most others, being culturally influenced by the northern viking-types who live nearby. They have adopted a sort of code of honor from their viking neighbors which they call the “Llarl.” The Llarl tends to be a sort of letter-of-the-law code and, while the Hunding clan does refer to it, they actually follow it just about as well as actual medieval knights followed the code of chivalry (not often, and usually only when it benefited them). For example, an orc should not break a vow, but if an orc can twist the exact wording of a vow, that’s respected as clever (“I vow never again to raise blade against you” and then hit you with a mace). Hrun’s memory of the Llarl is imperfect (he was only 9 when he was orphaned, after all) and a lot of what he believes to be part of the Llarl is actually the code of honor of Kord as taught to him by the brothers. Hunding orc warriors wear braids in their hair, and the braids of another warrior are the favorite trophies to take. Thus, the longer an orc’s braids, the longer he has gone without being defeated and the tougher he probably is. And if that same orc also has a bunch of really long braids hanging from his wolf’s saddle, watch out. Hunding orcs also have a custom of adding grandiose titles to their name like Dwarf-Crusher or Dragon-Hunter, the only basic rule about it being that you have to be tough enough to smack down anyone who sneers at it.