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Mother Axe and the Lake of Tears

An elderly orcish shaman gathers the neighbouring children around an unlit campfire as the night is cold and the city of Skalheim is pelted with snow. With a flick of his wrist and a guttural cough, the fire roars to life inside the circle of orcs. Tonight, he will tell them the story of their people and of their divine mothers.  
Naathos, the father of the giants had grown cruel and frustrated. Axe, goddess of war, had denied him any ground in the Eternity War. Along with the elemental gods, Axe had prevented him from advancing on Khusan, the grounds upon which he wished to settle his frost giant raiders. She was a nightmare to face in battle, a whirling tornado of blows, her power was unrivalled and Naathos plotted, seeking a way to harm her.   Gael, mother of spirits and goddess of shamans was neutral in the war but kept in regular contact with Axe. They sent messages back and forth with ravens, conversing with one another, despite their differences. One day, a servant of Naathos saw Axe in a field, releasing the raven with the attached message. He waited until she left before tracking it and shooting it down. The script he held in his hands was a confession of Axe's love for her.   The next battle was a bloody one, Axe fought valiantly alongside her elemental allies to beat back the frost giants and she began to gain ground, eventually working her way towards the fortress she suspected Naathos to be defending. She charged into the courtyard, expecting to face Naathos in single combat, so that she may finally put an end to the giant threat. What she saw instead was the delicate body of Gael, bloodied and sprawled out over the ground.   It is said that her sadness formed Teardrop Lake, from which crawled the first orcs to help avenge their mother's love. Axe and her orcish army stormed Naathos' land with unbridled fury, destroying any who stood in her way. Once she found Naathos, her retaliation held a lifetime of fury. The strike shattered the earth between them and split the continent, slaying Naathos.   The orcs settled the harsh, scarred landscape, forever vigilant agains the evils of the frost giants, fighting an eternal war against those that would do them harm, and thus, Skalheim was born.
— Totemcaller Rog'har


The legend of "Mother Axe and the Lake of Tears" tells of a battle that occured during the Eternity War. Naathos, the now deceased deity of giants, slew a neutral deity (Gael) in order to cause harm to his opponent (Axe). This story tells of her revenge and of the birth of the orcs.

Cultural Reception

This legend is a core, integral part of how Old Orc culture formed and it heavily impacts their concept of honour. From this story they learn that harming an innocent opponent is an act of cowardice, and that fighting for and protecting those that they love is the most important part of being an orc.

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1 Dec, 2018 11:05

I really enjoyed this story. It is sad, poignant, well written, and feels quite convincing as folk tales go. It fits the feel and shape of something that would be passed down by orc shamans to child at the campfire.   Axe's lesson however, feels a bit tacked on. It isn't worded in the same way as the rest of the prose, and it feels both too modern, and too on the nose. I'd recommend adding a quotation box, omitting it entirely, or rewriting it to be more suitable to the situation. How would an old shaman tell this type of lesson to children? Perhaps it'd be implied already. Perhaps it would involve some sort of metaphor? Think on that.   Great read, very nice work overall.

1 Dec, 2018 11:08

That's a really good point! I'll fix it soon.

1 Dec, 2018 11:28

This reads like the kind of mythological story that you could find in real life. Really excellent.   But I'm not sure exactly what sort of lesson Axe learned or how it has impacted the Orcs sense of honor. What exactly is it you are trying to convey about the orcs and their culture with that? :)   Maybe expand on that! Weave it into the narrative :) Keep it up!

1 Dec, 2018 16:12

They sort of have a cultural based around honour and the importance of loved ones(original, right?) and I wanted to imply that part of it came from Axe losing Gael (who was an innocent in the war). I'll need to find a good way to word it without it feeling too forced though.

1 Dec, 2018 17:03

I really like the legend, you've written it compact but with just enough detail. I would suggest playing a bit with the formatting, maybe put most of it in a quote.

It seems like the first paragraph is an introduction and the next one all the way down to "Summary" is what the shaman is

actually telling the kids. That part would be great in a quote box. Expanding on the hornour part would also be great!