The Orcs that inhabit the continent are organized into regional clans, similar to that of those that live in and around Merceria. Of particular interest are the Orcs of the Red Hand, a tribe that lives in an autonomous region on the borders of the Duchies of Holstead and Krieghoff, in the village of Ord-Kurgad.
They derive their name from their practice of dyeing their hands red to signify their connection to fire. Shamans within the tribe tend to fall into one of two categories, Life and Fire. Life Mages are usually referred to as shamans and, in addition to being able to heal, often have mastered the art of communicating with spirits. It is their connection to their ancestors in this manner that makes them so valuable to the tribe.
Fire Mages, however, are often called masters of flame, thus differentiating them from the Life Mages. In Orc society, there is little difference between the sexes, in terms of position and influence, though the gender-specific terms of Shamaness and Mistress of Flame are used as honorifics.
Orc shamans, of both types, typically train apprentices to take their place. It is not uncommon for some tribes to have two or three Life Mages, along with six or seven apprentices. All shamans, regardless of their school of magic, must remain neutral in tribe votes. In addition to their magic, they act as arbitrators to settle disputes and host many of the ceremonies the Orcs carry out.
Their society is remarkably democratic, with all adult Orcs voting on important matters, which is done by ‘the counting of the stones.’ After debating an action, a bowl or other container is passed around the fire. Each Orc will either place a stone within, signifying their agreement with the motion, or refrain from dropping one in if they oppose. Once the container is returned to the head shaman, the stones are counted, and if the count is higher than half the Orcs present, the motion passes.
Orc chieftains are elected in the same way, though if there are more than two candidates, there may be multiple rounds of votes to eliminate contenders. A chieftain is typically chosen for life, though they will usually resign when no longer able to carry on their duties. In the rare case of an unpopular leader, a special vote can be called by the tribe to oust the unwanted chief.
There is much more to the Orcs that I can write in this article. The great news is that they play an important role in my latest book, Ashes, which is now available for pre-order!