H I L L S O F H A T R E D
Squashed between the Georgian Forest and Latium—both physically and politically—festers the Hills of Hatred, a range of lumbering hills in southwest Tamica. The hills drop sharply down into the Georgian Forest to the west and level out into Latium to the northeast. Its highest point is north of the fortress city of Bile: Mount Bruutuu rises to a daunting 1,620 feet above the Great Sea while its more rugged sibling farther to the east, Mount Rommuu, is close behind it at 1,580 feet.
White pine, larch, grand fir, spruce, and aspen were once all found in abundance in forests throughout the hills, a rain shadow of the Georgian Forest, but most were long ago clear-cut by orcs, leaving the region largely uncultivated as inhospitable scarp lands. The cuestas prominent to the region gently slope up from the north and then sharply fall steeply to the south; they are densely covered in scrub, low bramble trees, and smothered in noxious, irritating demon crabgrass.
Now these hills serve as the home of a significant orc kingdom, one officially recognized by the empire despite its open hostilities that plague much of the surrounding territories. When Emperor Kordaava divided Chaldea into distinct kingdoms (Kingdom Union Act of ’02) in order to guarantee and maintain law and order across the empire, the elves of the Georgian Forest vehemently refused any connection to those hateful hills. Likewise, Latium to the northeast also refused to inherit the hills and the inordinately difficult, expensive task of managing the recalcitrant orc infestation. With neighbors fervently opposed to absorbing the hills into their kingdoms, the emperor was forced to recognize the Hills of Hatred as its own legitimate kingdom of the empire, the largest congregation of orcs in Tamica and third largest world population behind Niesse and the Mountains of Chaos in Somarria.
The Hills of Hatred are an ongoing cancer to Chaldea and is considered so by nervous neighbors and business communities forced to deal with constant orc incursions into their lands and trade dealings. The roughest section of the Coastal Highway runs through these hills along the coast and is rightly considered one of the most dangerous portions of the Imperial road. International business trade travelers along the coast are often forced to hire local sell-swords to ensure their safe passage along the Imperial Coastal Highway. These mercenaries are typically legionnaires from Latium, elves from the Georgian Forest, or mounted soldiers from Roosh. Wealthier merchants avoid the headache, possible bloodshed, and probable loss of property entirely by opting for ships. Still, even that is not a guarantee of safety as orc coastal pirates haunt the nearby seas.
Orcs as a rule avoid two things: the sun and human civilizations, especially those civilized regions with organized militias, knight orders, and the emperor’s legions. As such, orcs stay to themselves most of the time—the bulk of their population remains tightly sequestered in subterranean towns and villages deep in the hills to the north. Despite their loathing for meddlesome humans, however, there are still a few orc villages and trading posts along the coast near the Imperial Coastal Highway that are open to human trade.
Hotka is the largest of these orc villages. Situated near the border of Latium, Hotka exists primarily for trade and export of raw materials, though it is crude and dilapidated by any human standards. It is primarily populated by orc outcasts—the old and the weak or those simply not capable of surviving on their own, all of them come to trade worthless trinkets and beg from passersby. The orcs in Hotka are more of a danger to themselves than to anyone else and are mostly harmless; they are old and miserable and far too weak to pose much of a threat to anyone. A busy mercenary guild chapter house keeps the mud-caked trading post clear of thieves, agitators, and cutthroats. In this wallow of misery, orc and human traders both openly wear white fur armbands of truce as they go about their miserable business.
There are several small fishing villages of orcs along the coast, cloistered as far away from the Coastal Highway and prying eyes as possible. Some orcs have grown to appreciate and even enjoy water and have become adept at fishing and boating. They prefer red meat, but as this is often scarce, fish are bountiful in the Great Sea and easy to gather. Sometimes larger vessels do business with the fishing villages, looking beyond the distasteful orcs in hopes of securing profit. Violent, lawless, and poor, orcs are naturally drawn to piracy and easy plunder, striking out from these small ports to bring back stolen goods to trade; some have been known to traffic in flesh as well. A few human pirates and smugglers also do business with these orc shanty villages, where no one will ask too many questions.
On occasion, the 4th Legion from Contubernium in Latium sweeps down from the north in a show of overwhelming military force, disinfecting the border territories of Latium and the Georgian Forest by clearing out orc riffraff and other deadly creatures that become increasingly bold.
Legion sweeps are usually comprised of new recruits eager to flex their muscles and see action by testing sword and shield—an increasingly vital training tool in the peaceful era of Kordaava. For a few weeks each year, high numbers of legionnaires march east and west along the Imperial Highway to make their presence known. Any orcs identified or observed causing trouble are quickly and harshly dealt with; those not put directly to the sword are often assigned to hard-labor chain gangs repairing the very highway they haunt. Eventually, with their training complete, the legion returns to Contubernium. And for a time, the highway and border territories remain quiet…but only for a while.
BLOOD OF AUTHORITY
The orcs residing in the Hills of Hatred operate under a simple chiefdom form of tyrannical government, led ruthlessly by eleven tribal chiefs (recognized head of family or tribe), all of whom pay fealty to the Tribe Elder, who lives in the Fortress City of Bile. Chief Bizerkin One-Eye of the Kraalva clan is the current reigning Elder, the latest of six generations of Kraalva that have ruled the hills.
Tribe Elder Bizerkin holds an official state title of Imperial senator and is a member of the Imperial senate. When the Imperial senate in Saratof is called to session, the Tribe Elder leads a political delegation formed by prominent members of the hill tribes. As a people in general, the orcs of Chaldea spit on the notion of an all-powerful emperor dictating and controlling their lives and refuse to pander to the senate charade. By contrast, the orcs from the Hills of Hatred feel that interacting with “civilized” humans is far more intriguing than ignoring Imperial proceedings. This may be a form of reconnaissance, as the senate often discusses troop movement and allocation.
The Elven Tribes of Hate in order of age and seniority: Kraalva, Tashla, Kenobug, Irshtigal, Ancult, Morhusa, TuSull, Drakthill, Kainkilkul, Magtugll, and Talon Atta.
The Fortress City of Bile is the unofficial capital of the Hills of Hatred orc kingdom and is the home of Tribe Elder Bizerkin of the Kraalva.
The early days of Bile date back to before the Claw Hammer War, when the Hills belonged to the Cromrath clan of dwarves (now believed extinct). The current city site was built upon the remains of Cromrath, a dwarven castle destroyed in a cataclysmic groundswell earthquake, reducing a once beautiful stronghold to rubble.
Shortly after the Claw Hammer War, the victorious orc tribes Kraalva, Tashla, and Kenobug built Bile on Cromrath’s broken corpse.
Its size classification is thought to be a type IV fortress, a mixed construction of surface fortress and a vast subterranean undercroft. Like an iceberg, the visible superstructure above is but a trifle compared to what lies beneath.
The population of Bile is estimated between ten to twelve thousand orcs and roughly another five thousand humanoid species of goblins, trolls, gnolls, kobolds, and, on occasion, ogres and giants.
For many years, persistent rumors echoed forth from Bile, bedtime horror stories that refused to die. Supposedly, Bizerkin had captured a Tannaluvian prize ship and was using the monster inside, as well as its captive crew, to learn how to summon Cthulhuian creatures and entities of the void.
Experts dismiss such a notion as idle court gossip or an outright lie—the Hills of Hatred is a ripe source for many crazy fables, they argue. Wisdom dictates that if Elder Bizerkin had such a valuable prize, he would not be so keen to keep it hidden. The fact that no one has seen a Tannaluvian ship in or around the Hills of Hatred speaks loudly that the rumors have little merit.
Since the emperor’s death, however, Cthulhuian orc cultists have become increasingly vocal and active, seen often all over the hill kingdom, promoting their slavish religion—in fact, cultists have erected a Cthulhuian shrine in Hotka as well as in several fishing villages and have even been spotted beyond the borders in Latium and the Georgian Forest. The question persists: has Bizerkin achieved his dream of summoning a void entity or possibly even a Cthulhuian monstrosity? While there is no evidence one way or the other at this time, given the seismic shift of power and influence the cultists now enjoy, there can be no doubt that something has changed.
Coal and iron ore are the Hills of Hatred’s chief exports. Orcs are expert miners and have ample supply of young workers to haul raw material out of the ground. Since Emperor Kordaava’s coronation, orc advancement in mining techniques has increased dramatically as the demand for their exports have encouraged an expedited pace.
In the Hills of Hatred, culm bombs and coal briquettes are the most common type of solid fuel, used primarily for cooking and heating. Due to the large coal deposits under the hills and the ready supply of tar, orcs have perfected large-scale manufacturing of briquettes to meet the ever-increasing demand from neighboring kingdoms for cheap fuels.
The Hills of Hatred fabricate and export large quantities of solid coal fuels manufactured in a number of forms: the cheapest for domestic use are culm bombs (hand-molded coal and clay briquettes), manual press briquettes (coal, pitch, and tar), and larger higher quality machine-made bricks requiring less adhesive agents—bricks are expensive and sold primarily to the government, the military, and the guild industry (blacksmiths, potters, etc.).
“Night Raiders” or “Hate Raiders” are high-speed orc raiding parties that actively foray into neighboring kingdoms, primarily the Georgian Forest and Latium, moving under the cover of night and poor weather conditions, killing and pillaging as they go.
Raiding parties keep their numbers intentionally low to maintain agility and speed (no more than ten to twenty members, favoring younger, faster, and stronger orcs). They move like lightning, stealing only what they can carry—small valuables, gold and coin, food stuff, weapons, and tools.
Hemmed in by the Georgian Forest, Latium, and the Great Sea to the south, the Hills of Hatred is relatively small compared to the wealthy, expansive kingdoms surrounding them. Small and strapped for resources, orc tribes are forced to steal to survive, and by leaving the protections of their hills, raiding orcs place themselves at great risk. Thus, raids emphasize need and alacrity over volume—causing wanton terror, death, and destruction are not typically within a raid’s mission goals. To linger is to invite death, so any member of the raiding party injured or incapable of keeping up is left behind or even killed.
Preferring the lush Georgian Forest for its bountiful hunting, fruit-laden trees, and natural resources, orc raiding parties strike the elf kingdom three times more often than Latium. To maximize raid success, they often make simultaneous thrusts—anywhere from five to ten raiding parties divide the wilder elves’ attention as the elves try to defend their border from these incursions.
Except during extremely hard times, orc raiders tend to stay away from the territories of the north, wisely fearing the emperor’s deadly 4th Legion. Orcs may move fast, but legionnaire cavalry move faster.