– Te’talca, an orc gladiator, standing over the fresh corpse of her arena opponent
The orcs are a fanatically religious race whose society revolves around the zealous worship of their Mountain God, Kog’Tepetl. The orc obsession with gladiatorial combat is an attempt to appease and feed their mountain deity, who they believe gives them the strength to fuel their ferocity.
The orcs are led by five High Clerics who are all arena warriors that, it is believed, were selected by Kog’Tepetl by divine provenance to fight their way to the pinnacle of orc society until they are challenged and defeated themselves.
In orc society, gladiatorial combat and religion is essentially the same thing. Kog’Tepetl demands the sacrifice of the weak to bolster the strong, for only the fiercest of his devotees will be capable of defending their rocky lands from being razed by the enemies from below.
Kog’Tepetl is a Primal that takes the form of a mountain, which the orcs worship and build their dwellings around. An enormous face is built into the face of the mountain, with the mouth serving as a deep cave that serves as one of the holiest sites in the orc realm.
The fighting floor of the gladiatorial arena is covered in small holes, and the orcs believe the blood of those that are vanquished in gladiatorial combat drip down into the holes to feed their mountain god. Ayotochi is the city that has been built at the base of the mountain, and is the most important and populated orc settlement.
The orcs’ five High Clerics serve as the prophets of their god, and are generally regarded as the wisest and most respected members of orc culture. Any orc, male or female, can become a High Cleric, though the process is incredibly arduous.
Once an orc gladiator wins 100 arena battles in row (an astoundingly difficult feat that can only be remotely accomplished by the most ferocious and intelligent combatants), the orc must enter the Cave of Subjugation, an utterly lightness and tiny cavern deep within the mountain. The gladiator must meditate in darkness, alone, for 100 days. When the orc emerges from the cave, he or she must then challenge one of the current High Clerics in single combat to the death. If the challenger wins, he or she becomes the High Cleric in place of the one they defeated.
Orcs are not the only creatures who battle in their arena. War parties are often sent out to capture other creatures to fight. Orcs prefer to challenge themselves against creatures with a modicum of self-awareness, such as ogres, cyclops, and trolls. A captured slave that wins a large number of battles can earn themselves a valued place in orc society, meriting such perks as their individual freedom or even a comfortable home. A non-orc can never become a High Cleric, no matter how many arena matches it wins.
Orcs hate the vennen with a ferocious passion. No vennen would ever be captured for arena fighting, for any creature that participates in the orc gladiator games, even the lowliest dingler, is given a smidgen of respect, which no vennen deserves. An orc will always attempt to kill any vennen on sight.
The Underworld Incursion was so brutal, even the orcs in their remote mountain location took immediate, heavy losses. When the humans extended an invitation to join an alliance with the coyotle and elves, the orcs shocked even themselves by accepting and becoming the unlikeliest member of the Ardent coalition.