Early Spring of the year 315 P.F.
Two days had passed since Batuul had been brought back to the mortal plane and in two days had she not felt the fury of battle nor had she tasted the blood of her enemies. The small party of warlocks and their retinues, numbering only thirteen, had insisted that they make haste to Arugoth without drawing the ire of the manlings. The scion had listened to them, though showing clear disdain for the idea of moving quietly through the countryside, much preferring to resume her campaign in Calesbail and slaughtering the likes of man. Yet, she found it odd that Chernobog had not yet given her a boon, a reward from breaking free from her prison. Perhaps he was waiting to see if she would survive returning to the home of the orcs before rewarding her for her loyal service, even after defeat.
Whatever the case, Batuul walked along the rocky outcrop that was the home to the Cales, occasionally kicking a rock or looking around for any hunting party that would attempt to ride them down. It seemed that, much like in her prison, boredom would be one of her primary enemies as the warlocks did not attempt to make conversation with their lady and their retinue was too afraid to say anything to her. It was not the orc's way to be this silent, she remembered a loud and boisterous people that would let out howls and warcries in enemy countryside all day long, but these old wretches had clearly spent too long studying history to be of any use to her.
“How much longer do we have, old fools?” Batuul asked in a grunt, raising her spear to rest behind her head as she looked to the head of the party.
“Another two day’s travel, if we walk through night, a week at our pace,” the warlock answered, not looking back at his patron as he stepped over a rock, “We make camp soon, rest for the next day.”
A grimace came across Batuul’s face before she pushed her way past the other warlocks, angrily walking ahead of the group before one of the warlocks ran after her. It was the youngest warlock, Bolag, who stepped in front of the scion and for a moment she stopped to look over the one who got in her way. It took a certain level of courage or stupidity to stand in front of her when she did this and not many would, even when she knew warlocks with more spine than this lot. She rested her spear at her side, looking over Bolag.
“My matron! Unlike you, these souls cannot fight off a manling party even if we wanted to. They need rest for their decaying bones, you are a vessel of the Dark Lord and are above such base needs. Understand that we came at great risk and we cannot risk losing you again,” Bolag stated in an eloquent, for an orc, fashion that seemed to confuse Batuul more than anything.
The Matron of the Orcs took a moment to process the words of Bolag before snorting and saying, “You do not speak like an orc should.” She suddenly brought her spear down to thrust at Bolag, the young one flinching out of fear though not quite meeting an end quite yet. The great spear of Batuul stopped a mere hair’s length away from Bolag’s body, another moment and he would have been skewered. However, Batuul’s point had been made, displeasure showing on her face as her massive hand grabbed the apprentice by the scruff of his neck and threw to the ground in front of the others. Then, she beat her fist against her chest, stating, “You are all weak! You are not orcs! My soldiers would have burned all the manling homes we came across! I cannot believe I was brought back by such spineless cowards!”
The warlocks collectively looked down, ashamed of themselves as Batuul berated them for their weakness and lack of bloodlust. Bolag could only look up at her as she did so, looking to her eyes and seeing that she only felt anger and rage at them for their transgressions against all of orc kind, before an insult about how their mothers should all have killed them as babes if they knew that they’d be as weak as they were. When one attempted to say something, she let out a roar that sent the warlock cowering back down into his place before Bolag began to return to his feet, his own anger rising for being lumped with the old ones.
“Enough!” Bolag bellowed, slamming his wooden staff into the ground, dark magics pulsing through it before it exploded and sent splinters flying outwards. He remained unaware of the magics that had ruined his staff, as he shouted back at Batuul, “We warlocks may be weaker than you, but we know the ancient ways! We are the last bearers of the dark magic of the fell and we are stronger than you think!”
Batuul was silenced for a moment, taken back by the youngster’s sudden aggression, staring down Bolag as he defiantly stared back at her. It seemed that the young orcs still knew how to act properly, how to show some meaningful amount of strength even if this one had done it through magical means. The other warlocks stared at him for his display, though it was clear that they were more shocked for his magical affinity than anything else, Batuul could tell this much. She stepped forward and took a deep breath of air, the scent of the young one’s strength hitting her nose before she reached a hand out, clasping the sides of his face and looking him over, inspecting him.
“Hmm.” Batuul stated, before pushing the warlock back, turning away, “Too scrawny to breed.”
The warlocks and their retinue stared speechlessly at the scion as she began to walk away, ordering, “I will scout ahead, set up camp for the night.”
After stalking away, Batuul took the time to think about her position, to think about how she might introduce herself back into Chernobog’s court. It was clear that she would take the responsibility for saying that she had broken out herself, she had just needed to gather enough strength to overcome the Exalted One’s chains. For that idea though, she’d need to make sure there were no opposing stories, she’d need to silence the warlocks. Batuul knew she’d have to kill them regardless, however, she thought about the scrawny one, Bolag, and saw his latent power that almost bubbled to the surface. Bolag might yet live, however, the others had grown too old to be of use to her.
Her other thoughts were far more primal and less brutal in nature, a focus on reinstating herself as the Matron of the Orcs and to bring forth a more loyal and unquestioning force, one that knew less fear than the retinue of the warlocks. There was once a time where her armies were entirely composed of her sons and daughters, a time where there was no question as to who their leader was and what she wanted. Batuul knew orcs who showed no fear, orcs who knew no retreat. Seeing where they were now made her far more angered than it likely should have, after all, they were still her distant kin. Yet, she knew she’d have to reinforce the old ways and bring back the armies that she was used to leading, but for that she’d need to find someone strong.
The sound of hooves brought her out of her thoughts, her hands bringing up her spear before she heard yelling and hollering, then an orcish roar. Batuul rushed to the crest of a hill and as she gazed into the small dip below, she could see an orc being circled by the men of Calesbail. Without thought, her spear was thrown into a horse, impaling into the ground as the rider struggled to free himself. The two others brought the horses around before shouting to each other, turning and fleeing away away from the sight of her. Batuul, content to investigate the unknown orc, allowed the horsemen to flee and as she stepped down the hill to retrieve her spear, the orc threw herself onto the downed manling, sinking her teeth into his neck and devouring him alive as if she were some starving animal.
Cocking an eyebrow, the matron approached the feasting orc, settling a foot onto the now dead horse and pulling her spear out of its carcass, only then did the orc look up to her with a look of rage and a desire for carnage. Batuul looked over the female for a moment before asking, “Who are you?”
The orc remained silent for a moment before wiping the human blood from her mouth with her wrist, answering, “Chieftess Bula of the Devil Reaver clan… You speak well for a troll.”
Batuul let out a hardy laugh, finding it funny that the chieftess knew not who she spoke too, “I am no troll! I am Batuul!”
Bula took a moment before her eyes widened in realization, scrambling to bow to the Matron of the Orcs, making her obedience to the scion known. Her body was deteriorated, her muscles slightly atrophied and her skin riddled with scars that were partly infected, but even still she let herself bow to Batuul. She did not know what to say, only knowing that she was in the presence of a divine being.
“M-my matron! How may this chieftess bring honor to your name?” Bula asked, still shocked that Batuul stood over her.
“First, explain to me why a chieftess is without her closest champions,” Batuul ordered, wiping the blood on her spear against the horse carcass.
“We were captured when we tried to raid the manlings, matron. Many of us were killed, those of us who survived were thrown into the pits to fight for survival. I escaped, but my lot are still in the pits, I’d say fifteen of us were still alive the last I counted,” Bula answered, looking down, albeit hungrily at the human carcass. She pushed her matted hair back, running her unkempt digits through it to try and separate the knots. The chieftess had obviously been reduced to being nothing more than an animal for the past time, which was not odd for an orc but it was still proof that the humans and orcs were still actively fighting each other at all meetings.
Batuul pondered for a moment before ordering , “Show me this town… after you eat, of course. Hardly got any meat on you. Though, I think you should eat at my camp.”
The two matriarchs walked away from the site of the skirmish, though Bula was hesitant to leave her snack due to her ever aching hunger. Though, Batuul managed to convince her by asserting her dominance over the much smaller one. Nonetheless, the two walked over the rocky ground, carefully retracing their way to the camp as to not bring about anymore interest upon themselves. Their route, while short, was tiring to the malnourished one who was gasping after a short walk and needed to stop to rest. It was clear that she was weak after her imprisonment by the humans, which was why Batuul was not pushing her immediately.
When they reached the camp, the warlocks and their retinue were eating some small game that they had managed to grab, not much to be much of an adequate meal. Though, when they turned to see Batuul, they went to greet her but stopped when they saw Bula. One of the retinue immediately drew his sword and took a step towards the matriarchs before a mere growl from Batuul made him fearfully step back into place.
“That is no way to welcome a matriarch,” Batuul said with a scowl before sitting down, resting her spear in her lap.
“They know no respect,” Bula said in agreeance with the Batuul, the warlocks turning their heads to one another before Bolag stepped forwards.
“You bring a Devil Reaver here? They abandoned your ways after you were defeated!” Bolag exclaimed, looking at Bula who only looked to Batuul in a confused manner. Batuul returned the confused look to the other matriarch before motioning for her to respond to Bolag.
“I don’t know what he’s saying. I don’t understand South Speech,” Bula responded, looking up at Bolag before giving a snarl.
Batuul looked between the two, her mind sitting upon the fact that these two orcs could not understand each other despite being of the same race. A moment of tense silence passed as the Unifier tried to think about what to do in the situation as she knew a simple display of power would put them back into their places but that would not solve the immediate issue. Even she, an orc who knew only violence and slaughter, could see that the issue of linguistics would hamper her ability to lead them as there would be no cohesion. In the end, it was all the same as she rose from her place on the ground and as her shadow grew to look over the lesser orcs. Bula and Bolag looked up at her, bringing themselves low to her out of submission, along with the rest of the party.
The Unifier would not tolerate this kind of infighting within her ranks.