Hymns of Orogenesis

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Hymns of Orogenesis is a story written and illustrated by Iron Eater. It ran in Issue 58 at http://s2b2.livejournal.com/324454.html, and is mirrored at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/hymns-of-orogenesis/.


Wintertime is here, and thanks to some careful diplomacy the stronghold of Naar Rhoan is entertaining some important foreign guests. Sarouth and Riaag must deal with complications hinted at on the wind.

"They do not come to trade, Riaag Bough-Breaker. They come because they think Naar Rhoan sends us illness."

"They fucken what?" said Riaag, and it was only muscle memory that saved him from putting a gash in his leg with the axe as he wheeled to face Etxeloi properly. He heard the wolf growl from somewhere behind him, where he'd suspected it was. It was unnerving not being able to smell it. "We send food and aid and people ter rebuild and they say we's plague-bringers? The fuck is going on with your kinfolk, Etxeloi?"

Etxeloi stood firm in the face of Riaag's anger. His eyes were slitted like a fox's and looked worried beneath his dark, concealing hood, but said worry clearly wasn't because an orc of Riaag's build was baring tusks at him. "It is for them to say, not me. I tell you this because I think the truth is not what they think, and because you and your White-Hair have done great kindnesses for us, so I wish for you to be prepared. I do not want this to ruin things for your blood." He fussed with one of the furred flaps of the cap that kept his long ears out of the cold. "If Naar Rhoan suffers, so Usoa suffers. I say this much already. But they do not listen to me when they are not in need of news and secrets."

Riaag groaned. "So in two fucken days we's gonna get a buncha river people who say we's shittin' in the water or somesuch, and they do this in front of people we is trying most desperately ter convince we is civilized, and then we gotta figure out what in the fuck is actually the cause of the trouble, and then probably a buncha fucken bandits show up while everyone's pants is down or some shit."

"Ah," said Etxeloi, and Riaag's heart sank.
S2b2warning.png Content Warning: Violence, Gore, Abuse

The author wishes to note that this story contains some sensitive material, particularly one character's post-traumatic episodes; mentions of and allusions to childhood abuse; depictions of extremely graphic violence, injury, gore, and death; self-destructive behavior and thinking; on-screen character death; sacred mutilation; and quite a lot of talk about people eating rotten meat.

This story's main characters are not human.


This story is the fourth in the Rhoanish Works series. While the author recommends reading the stories in order of publication (in no small part due to increased writing ability and familiarity with the characters), it has been intentionally written so new readers won't feel too left in the cold.

The setting itself is very loosely based on the freeware game Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup.

Related Links[edit]

Some background information for this story was developed during an "Orctober" art challenge, the results of which may be viewed on the creator's Tumblr. While the provided tag is work-safe, venturing outside of #orctober 2015 may not be safe for the workplace.

Author's Notes[edit]

This story was originally meant to be a simple "breather" story between Terra Incognita and December 2016's planned piece. It ended up over 45,000 words long. I may have a problem.

This manuscript was another beast of a thing in which my pre-reader went through multiple unfinished drafts over the course of several weeks. Thanks for picking out the unclear stuff, Sparklebeard! I started planning some of this way back when I was working on Narcissus (and earlier!), but most of it was written in a furious whirlwind during late November/early December. I spent most of October drawing orc-related art instead, which while not helpful for my wordcount also gave me a chance to write up a bunch more backstory about the Rhoanish and their relationship with animals.

December is orc time. It's always orc time.

I knew that I wanted to introduce some more of the background information I'd created for this setting in a natural way, thus the simplified version of two Rhoanish stories and more frequent mention of their traditions and atypical behaviors. One of these days I'll properly explain more of what I know about how Rhoanish social groups are organized, but alas, today was not that day. Other goals for this story included updating the reader on Sarouth and Riaag's mental states, establishing where the stronghold was going in the future, and giving more insight into Agritakh. I think I was at least somewhat successful at all of these.

For those keeping track, The Stones' Earthen Grasp happenes in high summer, Seismic Gap in a temperate summer/fall block, Terra Incognita in autumn, and now Hymns of Orogenesis falls near the end of the year.

"Ash-water" is a very literal name for lye, which is made by leaching water through wood ashes. The egg trick mentioned actually works in determining lye's pH; a lot of the chemistry details were sourced via my husband, who handles absurdly dangerous substances for a living and therefore is full of useful tidbits like this.

River People are the same as always, though vunxailo is not derived from anything other than my desire to make some spooky elf berserkers. "Blunt-eared whatchamacallits" are humans of intentionally vague ethnicity but likely from an area roughly analogous to North Africa or the Middle East.

Agurtzane's name is an actual Basque name derived from a greeting; it could alternately be translated as "Howdylia." Like many names I use that aren't pure fancy, I went with something that was a cute reflection of her character.

External Reviews[edit]

  • fairyninjas.wordpress.com: "Five parts! Another story about the orcs of Naar Rhoan! This time they are trying to make some new allies, while everything else is going wrong. This world is so wonderfully detailed, and it’s such an unusual fantasy set to delve into (usually everyone writes about elves or other pretty fantasy races), and all the characters are so fleshed out, and the…I love it."
  • http://harmless-one.livejournal.com/42989.html: "It continues the holiday tradition of Iron Eater's epic fantasy stories that appear like Saint Nick every big bang. They follow the adventures of Riaag and Sarouth, orcs in love. These stories are dense and there are many parts now, so they're not newbie friendly, but they are quite a world to go visiting and lose yourself in."