December 2021

The Dheigh
“Dheigh” (sometimes transliterated as “dey” or “dhey”) is based on the Old High Orcish for “truth,” and as such might best be translated as “the true ones” or perhaps “the true orcs.” These are the orcs who have shunned the teachings of Hamur, refused to submit to the Hamurabash, and therefore eke out a marginal existence at the edge of the powerful and growing orcish empire as nomads and raiders.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Pastoralist and migrant, the Qumwab humans trade across the vastness of Naïx. Bitter enemies of the orcs, who once competed with them for the same pastures and animals, they have been largely swept aside by the emergence of the Hamurabash, which has unified and organized the orcs. Many Qumwab have joined the orcs, and indeed they represent the largest non-orc population in the Hamurabash. But many have spurned it and retreated deeper into the high desert, where their erstwhile enemies, the nomadic orcs who have rejected the Hamurabash, are now their strongest allies.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

The old orcs had many traditions born from their hard life amid the sands, their constant struggle with other sapients such as the Qumwab humans. Hamur recognized that many of these traditions were as fine steel, tempered by heat and fierce blows. Much as steel cares nothing for the hand that wields it, so too could these practiced be grasped by the Hamurabash and set to noble purpose.

Hamur said, then, let all who follow the Hamurabash go everywhere girded with their arms, lest they be called upon to fight for their home at a moment’s notice. Let all who follow the Hamurabash eat only those animals which were clean and free of illness, their lives ended humanely. And let not the followers of the Hamurabash shy from other innovations that strengthen them, so long as they do not lead to idolatry, to false worship, to false gods.

If they be in need of example, let them look to the memory of Hamur and his first mamihamurs.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

What, then, to do with those who would not submit to the Hamurabash?

The armies of Hamur had been ever-triumphant, but submission on the field of battle was not submission to the Hamurabash. In the old days, in the high desert, submission was annihilation: the conquered submitted or they were destroyed. Uprisings were common, and common too was the practice of killing all adult males before they could rise.

Hamur stood against this barbarism. “The followers of the Hamurabash are as a body, and conquest its nourishment. To discard food or to allow it to spoil is wasteful.”

The conquered were allowed to submit, and all their false idols and places of worship were destroyed or converted to memory halls. They would be free to practice their false faiths in private, but not to make any public displays or to proselytize on penalty of death. “That being said, only a fool does not cut out the rotten or spoilt parts of a meal before eating it.”

In time, Hamur knew that the old false faiths would die out and that others, even other sapients besides orcs, would come to embrace the Hamurabash.

Those who refused to submit were cast out, ejected and exiled. They would live so long as they did not challenge Hamur, but they would not live well.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

To remember beyond the span of a single life requires the information to be set down in writing. To this end, it was essential that the orcs learn to read and write, and Hamur took it upon himself to do this.

He had studied the many scripts then in use, from the old high orcish of the swallowed empire to the dwarven agglutinations, from the sinuous lines of elfscript to the utilitarian blocks of the profligate humans. In the end, he devised a script that perfectly captured all the sounds of the orcish language he and his followers already spoke, and taught it to his followers.

Hamur could not do all this alone. He had already declared Aynak mamihamur, one who repeats Hamur. Now Hamur and Aynak trained others, to spread the word of the Hamurabash. But that was not their only purpose; they were also teachers of reading and writing, engineers of water wells and masonry, and hunters of great skill.

A mamihamur’s worth comes not only from his recitation of the Hamurabash, but from his contributions to the community. Let them be welcomed for their skills as a teacher, for then to teach the Hamurabash will come as naturally as a desert wind.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

So it was set down thus by Hamur:

There are no gods that mortals may know.
There is no life but this life.
To live a good life is to be remembered and celebrated.
By remembering and celebrating friends and ancestors, we honor them and allow them to endure.

Some early converts to the Hamurabash saw this as ancestor worship, a practice they had long engaged upon. Hamur permitted them to believe this at first, as it made their conversation easier, but with time he set them upon the correct path.

The ancestors are not worshipped, for they no longer exist. They are remembered, and honored. The memory hall gives the community a place to gather in remembrance and to record the lives of those who have passed from existence. It is a focus, nothing more, and a convenience.

To live a bad life is to be forgotten; memory halls do not record the infamous. To live a good life is to perform great deeds of good, that others will remember and honor.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Twas the night after virus, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The IV bags were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that the CDC soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
With ventilator straps dancing about their heads;
And mamma with her face shield, and I in my mask,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shone bright on a yard without snow
Climate change means a balmy Christmas, you know,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an anti-vax horde, all mongering fear,

They deployed on my lawn, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment they were going to be dicks.
More rapid than eagles the assholes they came,
And they whistled, and shouted, and played their refrain;

“There’s no, COVID, no PLAGUE, it’s all dirty LIES!
Your VACCINES are TOXIC, now OPEN your EYES!
MASKS are OPPRESSIVE and horse meds a CURE-ALL!
United we stand and divided we fall!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the front door the protestors flew,
With their arms full of signs, and armaments too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard at the door
The anti-van slogans growing into a roar.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Through the door the invaders swept bound.

They were dressed all in t-shirts, with slogans thereon,
On their heads were all ballcaps for QAnon;
Heavy assault rifles were slung on their backs,
And it goes without saying that none of them wore masks.

Their eyes — how they burned! Their temples, how veiny!
Cheeks lit up like roses, their noses like cherries!
The sneers on their mouths were drawn down like a bow,
And it goes without saying their hair was white as the snow;

They were all breathing heavily through clenched-up teeth,
Viral particles they exhaled ‘round their heads like a wreath;
Thought-terminating cliches tumbled out of their mouths
Their poles festooned with flags of the defeated South.

They took all our masks, hand sanitizer too
Tore up our vaccine cards, and we had a few
Said they were saving us from a tyranny,
But you’ll understand it seemed quite different to me;

Preliminaries done, they redoubled their work,
Unplugged the ventilators, gave their cords a jerk,
Replaced them with chloroquine, given out by the vial
Gave the kids ivermectin to las them a while

Their mission complete, the team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
They didn’t hear me exclaim, ‘ere they drove out of sight,

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Similementary Rock – Formed from the long-term deposit of comparisons, contrasts, malapropisms, and other loose bits of rhetoric. Over time, they settle and harden into hard deposits of figurative language, though they can still be brittle and unsuitable for sentence construction, depending on the type.

Ironic Rock – Spewed in molten form directly from language centers, ironic rock is composed of real-life ironies, tragedies, and the like described in verbal form. It must cool to be used and, if fresh, can be extremely brittle or sharp.

Metaphoric Rock – When a similementary or ironic rock is exposed to heat or pressure over a period of time, it becomes metaphoric rock. Suitable for heavy-duty construction, up to and including poetry, it tends to be stable and long-lasting, if cryptic.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

“It is therefore my pleasure, as your President Emeritus, to call this meeting of the Deerton Explorer’s Club to order,” Ruby Kilgore said.

“What the heck is an eh-merit-us?” said Heath Kilgore. “Is that something they teach you in college?”

‘Lady’ Simona Osborne, wrapped in her shawl, chuckled. “It means someone who, while they no longer hold a particular position, is allowed to retain its title and sometimes even some of its powers and privileges as a sign of respect.”

“You’re not the President Emeritus then, you’re just the president,” Jayda Benning said. “Nobody stepped up after you left.”

“What?” Ruby said. “Who’s been running the meetings?”

“W-we’ve just been kinda talking,” said Laars “Stoops” Stoup. “Y’know, sharing stuff.”

“Well, yeah, but who’s been setting new exploration goals and adding new mysteries to the mystery board?” Ruby exclaimed. “Who’s been updating the website?”

“Well, it’s a good thing you quit school and came back then,” Ash Duran said. “Who knows how far the club would fall, without you to guide us.”

“Hey,” Ruby said, her finger jabbing toward Ash, daggerlike. “I did not quit. I dropped out. There’s a difference.”

“That’s like saying there’s a difference between eating dinner and eating supper,” said Jayda.

“P-pretty lame,” agreed Stoops.

“Quitting is something a spoiled child does when they’re flunking out of all their classes,” Ruby said. “Dropping out is a conscious choice, when someone decides school just isn’t for them.” She pulled a slip of paper from her bag. “See? I had all As.”

“But it’s still important enough for you to carry a paper report card around,” Simona laughed. “You had to print that out with real paper and real ink instead of just AirDropping it to me.”

“Artists and thinkers drop out,” Ruby continued. “William Faulkner dropped out; Bill Gates dropped out.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

So it was that Hamur declared the altar to be for the memory of the departed orcs of his tribe. He invited the community to come and inscribe their loved ones’ names and deeds upon the stone, offering the services of his allies who could read and carve stone for those who could not.

This first Memory Hall was not explicitly such, for it remained a shrine devoted to the false gods of the tribe. But the tribesmen, Hamur’s friends and relations, responded with enthusiasm. Soon the great deeds of their departed ancestors were write large upon the stone, and began to overtake the false gods’ possession of the place.

Hamur soon led the first memory services there, during which he counseled the people not to pray to the dead. Whether there was an afterlife or not was beyond their power to know, and immaterial; far better to learn from an ancestor’s noble and memorable deeds than to pray to their insensate remains.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!

Next Page »