Chapter 1
The Rebellious Princess

AT 1077 (AZ 1449) - Midwinter
The Shade's Forest, The Darklands

In the dark depths of the Shade's Forest, the thin mists curling around the gnarled trees made the area more gloomy than usual, but it fit the mood of King Orguz. War was on the horizon and the result would be the same for his people regardless of whether the battles took place in the West or in the East. Whenever the Orghim were ruled by another race, they were treated as little better than common beats, sacrificed to weigh down the spears and blunt the swords of the enemy. Not being common beasts, though, they could be compelled to obey more easily, which made them all the more convenient as pawns for their cruel overlords.
Orguz was never meant to be King, but ever since he was made to bear the burden, he strove to spare his people the ravages of further conflict. Though the Orghim were a warlike race, he tried to avoid bloodshed whenever possible, but sometimes blood had to be shed to prevent further bloodshed. It was a a great honor to be remembered as a 'war-king' among the Orghim, but Orguz did not care for such honor if it meant his people could live out their days in peace, though that peace would be short-lived.
The plight of his people was not the only concern weighing so heavily on his mind. His own granddaughter, in a misguided attempt to shake off the cruel yoke of the Monarch Lich, had left for the West in a mad effort to seek an alliance with the humans. She was too young and naive to understand that humans could never be trusted. They were no better than the Lich, worse perhaps because at least the Lich saw a use for their kind. Humans only wanted to see them exterminated.
If young Urgill survived the journey, of which there was no guarantee, she would have to somehow negotiate an alliance with the humans. If they did not kill her and her entourage outright, they would no doubt use her just as their kind have always been used. Even if all her foolish expectations were met and the humans defied the example of all history, what chance did they stand against the Lich?
The sheer hopelessness of it all weighed heavily on Orguz. It was as if the entire Mount of Shadows was placed on his shoulders. His granddaughter was lost to him and if the humans should come, how many of his people would die? Would it even be so different from any other day in these cursed and brutal lands?