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An unfinished novel by VVK (though "finished" in the sense of NaNoWriMo completion), deconstructing some Tolkienian themes. A "prequel" and historical background for another unwritten novel (Heart of Evil). Essentially the story of how orcs came to be regarded as Always Chaotic Evil in the world in question. Also set in the same world, if not location or time, as A Heros Reward.

The story follows several points of view alternatingly. From the side of the orcs, there's the fairly ordinary family of Garka, an older hunter, most significantly including his adult children Gurkh, a farmer that feels uncomfortable with the expectations for a male orc to be a warrior, and Gurkhga, who much less unusually (or at least more socially acceptably) has chosen to be a warrior in spite of being female. There is also the band of Orkhonu Three-Slice, the greatest heroes of the orcs. The opposing side is primarily represented by its leaders and heroes, most importantly the elven mage Lunalia and the human warriors Thomasis and Adrios. Only brief glimpses are shown from the point of view of Trautse, the Dark Lord and Big Bad of the story.

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Tropes:

  • The Alliance: To counteract Trautse's threat, several nations form the First Alliance of Elves, Men and Dwarves, a very deliberate reference to the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in Tolkien.
  • Animated Armor: Trautse's inner sanctum is guarded by some.
  • Anti-Hero
    • Gurkh is basically just ordinary and out of place in such events.
    • Orkhonu and Thomasis. The problem is that they act like their enemies are just mooks or Always Chaotic Evil, but the story makes such a view impossible to take by showing both sides's perspectives.
  • Artifact of Doom: The crown containing the Seed of Chaos. The Seed itself is not an artifact (made item) as such, but a piece of primal Chaos; essentially a dormant Eldritch Abomination being used as an Unholy Nuke capable of tearing momentary holes in the fabric of being with disastrous results.
    • Artifact of Attraction: Zig-Zagged — it's got a a quality of attraction, but it's not as powerful as the repulsion it creates, and it doesn't bother to actively tempt mere mortals... but still... And then comes the question of whether it's just the knowledge of its power that ultimately attracts one, rather than a separate power.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority
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    • The orcs sort of have this as a rule, except that by this time they feel they have something of an asskicking deficit and are not terribly impressed with their current chiefs. This is exploited by Trautse.
    • The humans of Altonia have a more complicated situation: the time of kings heroic on the battlefield has ended, but there are enough remnants of such thinking left that at this period in time, a king can only stand backed by champions who show the necessary martial strength. By the end of the novel, there are signs of this system ending to be replaced by a clearer rule by politicians.
  • Big Bad: Trautse.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The heroes of the Alliance show up just in time to challenge Trautse before he manages to regain the Seed of Chaos, which Gurkh is desperately trying to keep away from him.
  • Bigger Bad: The discussed but largely unexplained power of primal Chaos. Trautse is actually shown considering it a clear force of evil more than the heroes, which doesn't stop him from using it as a tool.
  • Brown Note
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    • Any kind of interaction with the Seed of Chaos is sickening for mortals, even being near it when it's not directly bound to Trautse's power.
    • Trautse manages to create a similar effect (which actually happens in real life) by doing his Evil Laugh in the infrasonic range to keep his pawns from hearing it.
  • Character Alignment: It would go something like this.
    • Lawful Evil: Trautse, wanting to become tyrant of the entire known world and quench free will. Alternatively, he's so far gone in his own delusions and self-serving that he has become Chaotic Evil instead.
    • True Neutral: Gurkhga, basically uncommitted.
    • Chaotic Good
      • Orkhonu and Thomasis, both basically the same in this respect and with the same neutral tendencies. Heroic in their own way, but rather too happy with killing.
      • Garka
    • Neutral Good: Gurkh, who just doesn't want to hurt anyone.
    • Lawful Good: Lunalia and Adrios, the most clearly heroic characters, who are also rational and think about what they're doing.
  • Cosmic Keystone: Inverted with the Seed of Chaos, which carries the potential to negate the whole world.
  • David vs. Goliath: Everyone against Trautse. Even Lunalia turns out to be hugely outclassed by his magic. And, of course, he's physically over two metres tall, more after going One-Winged Angel.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: Trautse does this twice, and the shrapnel from his initial physical form would have been quite deadly if those fighting him would have been caught in it.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: It takes a LOT of effort, but mortal heroes manage to bring down the Dark Lord in the end.
  • Downer Ending
  • Dual Wielding: Orkhonu uses two orcish sabres.
  • Evil Overlord: Trautse is directly inspired by Sauron, and even calls himself by the title "Dark Lord". He begins to fit the trope when he sets himself up as the ruler of the orcs. He's basically responsible for imprinting the idea of an Evil Overlord firmly in the collective consciousness of future generations in this world.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Trautse builds himself one of these. It's practically obligatory.
  • Fantastic Racism: Part of an analogy for racism in general in the real world, not so much any specific case.
  • A God Am I: Trautse kind of is, but he takes it to the next level in seeing himself as having become superior to other beings who could make the same claim.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: While Trautse is clearly evil, a lot of the characters on different sides simply see themselves as advancing the cause of their own people while not taking the rights and claims of the opposite side seriously. The current conflict is caused by an evil being, but what enables it are attitudes like this.
  • Hero Killer: The so far unbeatable heroes start dropping fast when they go against Trautse, and they know it's a desperate move to begin with.
  • Knight Templar: Trautse takes it so ridiculously far, and in such an egotistic way, that it comes across as a flimsy excuse. To him, the world as it is unbearable, with chaotic mortals running around being stupid, and it could only become good if someone like him were to rule it with an iron fist.
  • Lady of Black Magic: Lunalia, though she'd be capable of acting as a Red Mage if the story went more that way.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Trautse's tower collapses upon his death. Fortunately the battle wasn't actually taking place inside it any more.
  • Master Swordsman: Thomasis, Adrios and Orkhonu.
  • Mexican Standoff: Between Orkhonu and Trautse at the end of their fight. Orkhonu has no trouble deciding what to do, though...
    • Mutual Kill: Subverted. Trautse survives decapitation while killing Orkhonu.
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Orkhonu essentially ends up being The Dragon to Trautse, but he never even goes over to being a villain. (It's wartime; the orders you get from an Evil Overlord aren't necessarily different from what you'd get from the "good guys".) He finally rebels when it becomes clear Trautse is only using the orcs.
  • Non-Action Guy: Gurkh, no matter how against cultural expectations it is.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Even the author doesn't know exactly how all the different names and languages are pronounced, although expect detailed analysis in the future if this whole thing goes somewhere.
  • One-Winged Angel: After Trautse's physical form is finally destroyed, he manifests as a towering, shifting humanoid figure made out of Hellfire.
  • Order vs. Chaos: Referenced, but not really explained nor concretely occurring here. (Though Trautse rather sees himself as representing Order in such a battle.) The idea behind it is also not really the trope played straight.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Parodied. They're not given much characterisation, but are shown as putting up an act to look stereotypical to outsiders. In fact, like the other "races" here as compared to your usual fantasy with the Five Races, they're not all that different from other peoples.
  • Our Elves Are Better: They have the oldest and most advanced civilisation and are the most skilled with magic. Trautse especially considers them better than all other mortals, but also hates them for rejecting him in the past. Physically, though, including aging, they are not very different from humans or other races.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: They'd like to think they're "Blizzard" orcs. Humans see them as "Tolkienite" orcs. Neither is true.
  • Painting the Medium
    • Trautse's speech is always written in a larger font than everyone else's to indicate his status as a Physical God.
    • After Trautse is decapitated, he starts talking like the Death of Discworld, complete with no quotation marks. Soon after, when what he says are barely even words any more, they combine this with what could be called a variation of cHaOsPeAk.
    • The mental words of the Seed of Chaos are written in a different font and in red.
  • Physical God: Trautse, having adopted a specific physical form in order to interact with the orcs.
  • Pointy Ears: Parodied; it is pointed out humans tend to imagine elves have these, even animal ears, but Lunalia demonstrates that her ears (usually hidden under her hair) are merely slightly more elongated ovals than humans', with no actual points. (Note that Tolkien's elves are never quite described as having pointed ears, but people still think they do.) The dwarves appearing are better aware of the truth, but call elves "pointy-ears" anyway out of a desire to tease.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The orcs. They're not doing very well in this respect, however, as their military might is dwindling while that of the humans grows, which is why Trautse is able to seduce them with promises of war and victory.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Orkhonu's response to Trautse when he claims to still be his lord: "Not. Any. More."
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Even though Trautse is more of a Satanic Archetype, from the orcs' point of view challenging him amounts to this, which is made especially clear when he starts imitating Yahweh in the Book of Job upon being challenged.
  • Reality-Breaking Paradox: Invoked by Trautse whenever he uses the Seed of Chaos as a weapon.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Set up a little depressingly in the end when Gurkh throws the Seed of Chaos into a ravine, reflecting on how it's bound to resurface from such a flimsy hiding place, but knowing he can't do any better.
  • Shoulders of Doom: No orc warrior would leave home without their unnecessarily large pauldrons, and their size indicates status. Trautse also wears enormous ones for that reason.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!, Staring Down Cthulhu: When Trautse gets ready to confront Orkhonu and the other rebellious orcs and shows up in all his terrible, godlike might, speaking of how insignificant mortals are compared to an immortal like himself, Orkhonu essentially grabs him by the collar and threatens to "bloody well cut [him] up," actually rattling him.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Averted when a minor character tries to harass Lunalia — all he gets for grabbing her arm is something resembling an electric shock. (Ironically, she's still glad when someone shows up to "save" her, as it's more socially acceptable among the humans than her successfully defending herself with magic, which might lead to complaints and to painting the man as the victim.)
  • The Stoic: Lunalia is a mild case due to a combination of her cultural upbringing and having Nerves of Steel. She's not without emotion, but tends to be very restrained; least restrained about positive emotion, more so about grief, and almost completely about anger. Instead of getting angry, she's good at pointedly expressing disapproval or correction with just a few words or gestures.
  • Take Over the World: Trautse's goal. (Of course.)
  • Time Abyss: Trautse can remember back to the time before the world as it is now was properly formed.
  • Tin Tyrant: The form Trautse assumes to impress the orcs.
  • The Unpronounceable: Lunalia notes that native speakers of Altonese (aka. "Humanish", and which not so coincidentally sounds a lot like English, even though it has a completely different vocabulary) can't pronounce any closer to Trautse's name than "Trout-say". The right pronunciation is still nothing hugely exotic by any means.
  • We Have Reserves: In the final battle, Trautse calculates that destroying his whole army with the Seed of Chaos would be a fair price for destroying the armies of The Alliance at the same time.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Some mooks are main characters.
  • Who Needs Their Whole Body?: Physically, Trautse is only mildly inconvenienced when Orkhonu manages to decapitate him. (It's not quite Losing Your Head, because the severed head itself disintegrates while the body maintains full sentience, senses and ability to act.)
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