When Origia first created the intelligent races of the Earth, their distribution was very different from the present day. For instance, humans could only be found on the continent of Mali and in the southern regions of the continent of Arlia, while the nagas never ventured out of their native land of Indus and windigoes were only found on the western continent of Diirlin. It was in these early years, fifty-five millennia ago, when the stern mountains and wind-swept plains of north-west Arlia were home to the dwarves and orcs. The orcs occupied the plains and the foothills, while the dwarves made their homes in deep caves within the mountains. However, from the very beginning, they were not the best of neighbors…
Dear Gods! You Just Met!
It was the fifth year of existence for the intelligent races, but billions of years had already passed since the gods had begun remodeling the universe and hundreds of millions of years since Origia had introduced the first single-celled organism. Finally, the Earth was complete, with intelligent life, Origia’s great experiment/improv show, as the cherry on the sundae. It was in the spring of that very year, in the foothills of the Alidar mountains, that the dwarves and orcs first crossed paths.
On that day, a party of orcish hunters and a party of dwarvish hunters were both stalking the same moose. Neither party realized that the other was about—so well hidden were they both from their prey and each other—until both groups struck at once with their throwing spears. Unfortunately, neither hunting party was willing to share the kill. Instead, they began bickering over who had the rights to it.
The orcs tried to claim that it was theirs and theirs alone due to the fact that an orcish spear pierced the beast’s heart, making that the killing blow. However, the dwarves claimed that it was a dwarvish spear to the beast’s throat which had killed it and, besides, the orcish attack counted for nothing because they had women in their hunting party and, according to the dwarves’ early laws and customs, women could not be hunters. Infuriated, the women of the orcish hunting party retorted that it was the dwarves’ spears which counted for nothing because they were so short, which obviously meant that they were children—and ugly children at that—meaning that they had no business out hunting by orcish law. The dwarves then insulted the craftsmanship of the orcish spears and things only went downhill from there as the two groups continued to bicker and insult each other until, finally, the disagreement came to blows.
In the end, as the two groups bickered and brawled, a band of pixies stole the moose right out from under their noses while they were distracted. This only made both groups even angrier at each other, immediately starting the relationship between these two proud races off on the wrong foot.
For the next few generations, the orcs and dwarves clashed over and over again over hunting grounds and matters of personal and tribal pride. Soon, they had even divided the land into territories just to avoid running into each other. However, every once in a while, there would still be a dispute over where these territorial borders lay and nasty arguments and taunts exchanged from just across said borders. Things began to heat up between the two races when the orcs and dwarves almost simultaneously discovered how to smelt metals—coper and tin to be precise. Once they discovered the secrets of metalworking, and how superior metal was to stone for creating weapons, the world became a much more dangerous place.
Now, at first, the extent of their rivalry with metalworking was simply all about who was making the best weapons and tools. Both the orcs and dwarves have always been very inventive peoples, with the orcs having invented the first stone axes and the dwarves being the ones who invented scissors. (Yes, stone scissors, held together with sinew and with sturdy sticks for handles.) They would show off their newest creations, with metal tips and metal blades, in contests centered around hunting or preparing food, making sure to rub in their opponents’ faces just how much sharper, shinier, and more sophisticated their creations were at every turn.
Things took a turn for the worse, though, when the orc chieftain became jealous of how much easier it seemed for the dwarves to find good ore in the mountain caves than the orcs could down in the foothills. Spurred by envy and ambition, the orc chieftain gathered a band of his warriors to drive the dwarves from the nearest settlement and take the caves for their own. Naturally, this brutal attack did not go over well with the dwarf chieftain and the two races went to war with each other for the very first time.
Since this was the first war that they had ever had or heard of, no one knew how long the fight would take…or even had anything resembling an actual strategy. They just rushed each other’s settlements with torches and weapons, or two groups of warriors would just run at each other and start stabbing and swinging. It was a bloody three months, with lots of casualties on both sides and a flurry of technological advancement as orcish and dwarvish smiths examined their rivals’ creations—plucked from the field of battle as the spoils of war—for the first time.
Eventually, the war was ended. On the orcish side, this was initiated by the chieftain’s wife, who was getting fed up with the fact that hunting was taking a back seat to fighting and there wasn’t enough meat to go around anymore. On the dwarvish side, it was the tribe’s shaman, who was sick of always running out of medicinal herbs to heal the wounded. The two arranged a meeting between their chieftains and would not let them leave, holding battleaxes to their leaders’ throats until a truce was finally settled upon. This took fourteen days.
The impact of this war in the long term was that both the orcs and dwarves began to spend a greater amount of time training warriors and developing ever-greater weapons, leading to the proud warrior cultures which survive to this day. However, as time went on, the two races’ knowledge of metals increased, paving the way to the creation of alloys such as bronze and the smelting of ever-harder metals such as iron and mythril. At every step, they have always been competing with each other to see who could work the more difficult metal or develop the strongest alloy. So, both in times of war and peace, their eternal rivalry has helped to push the field of metallurgy ever forward.
I Can Do Anything Better Than You!
As the ages rolled by and the races of the Earth began to venture beyond their native ranges and intermingle with each other, several different tribes of orcs and dwarves eventually split off and settled in other regions, making enemies, allies, and trade partners just like everybody else. However, it seemed that wherever the orcs went dwarves were sure to follow, and wherever the dwarves appeared a group of orcs weren’t far behind. Of course, they brought their ancient rivalry along with them everywhere they settled.
Occasionally, there would be another war between the orcs and dwarves, but more often (especially in the developing metropolitan trade cities of the early civilizations) disputes were settled with drinking contests, weightlifting contests, trials of skill and courage…and the occasional bar brawl. Basically, anything that could be made into a competition, orcs and dwarves would settle their differences over it. Even to this day, orcs and dwarves are the masters of “yo’ mama” jokes and other cutting insults thanks to thousands of years of sharpening these skills against each other and are able to take these remarks to dizzying heights of both hilarity and vulgarity.
In fact, the very complexity of the Orcish and Dwarvish languages is due to their rivalry as well. In their efforts to one-up each other in the power and nuance of their words, the orcs and dwarves created highly tonal languages with enormous vocabularies and staggering phonetic ranges. Though neither race prizes writers, poets, or bards particularly highly, they are still sticklers for ensuring that their children are able to speak their native tongue flawlessly in every respect…and Common as well ever since that language was developed. In fact, some joke that the greatest rivalry between the orcs and dwarves is not in combat strength, weapons technology, or metallurgy…but in who can more masterfully correct everyone else’s grammar!
Luckily, as the ages have worn on, the rivalry between these two peoples has become less bellicose and more friendly. Millennia of competition between them has fostered a mutual respect for their rivals, and many tales from both cultures speak of certain individuals from the other side of the fence in complementary, even absolutely glowing terms. Orcs and dwarves have even fought and worked together many times. Sometimes it has been begrudgingly, but at other times their cooperation has been quite willing. For instance, when the trolls of Fortann attempted to take over the mines of Mount Linnoas, the orcs of Kaox—nearly five hundred miles away—heard of it and sent a force of nine hundered and eighty-three fighters to come to their aid. They didn’t know them, had never traded with them, never battled or drunk together…and yet, they came to help.
Now, mind you, when they attacked the trolls they did yell, “Nobody makes war with the dwarves but us!” Still, they came to help out total strangers of a rival race, which was still pretty honorable when you think about it. Mention it to any dwarf or orc, however, and they’ll pretend it never happened. Thus is the nature of this glorious rivalry.
Thanks for reading. That’s it for this week, folks. If you liked this, you might want to give other articles under History or Races a look. Join us next week for more tales of interest! Until then, you can download the sample version of The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner (.mobi for Kindle, .epub for basically everything else) or Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire (.mobi, .epub) to check out the books for yourself. You can also find me on Twitter and Pintrest if you enjoy stalking people on social media, and check out This Video to learn how to get the full digital version of The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner for free from Smashwords.com this June!
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