Chapter 88: Harkul tribe (2)

As Grobak and his crew walked further into the canyon, they were eventually met with a group of Orcs who were sent by the acting Chief of the Harkul tribe. They were then led further in and as they drew further into the canyon, the amount of people became much more scarce. Not every part of The Canyon had rock dwellings along the cliffs and walls. The area they were being directed to had very few abodes and eventually a series of cavern like structures were visible along with a large encampment. The cavern like structures were the supposed dwelling places of the ancestral spirits with ancestral altars within. The encampment, which included hundreds of tents both large and small, was where the ancestral guard trained. These warriors were those who protected the ancestral altars and caverns. There were also many Shaman among the encampment who took on a role similar to the priests from the churches.

Although it wasn’t visible at first, Grobak soon came into sight of something quite unexpected and astounding. The entire cliffside wall on one side of The Canyon had been chiseled out to look much like a palace. He had never seen anything like it. The palace itself was not an independent structure but had been carved out of the rock itself. He had no idea how this had been done, but it was quite majestic looking. It wasn’t as if the entire cliff looked like a palace, but the cliff face had been carved and chiseled to look like a grand palace with pillars and a huge door like opening. It was carved with extremely fine detail and if one couldn’t see the entire cliffside, they might believe it was an actual palace instead of a structure within a cliff. It wasn’t much different from the Dwarven style and Grobak wondered if this was perhaps once a Dwarven outpost and had nothing to do with the Orcs or any other tribe on the Steppes.

He was soon led into the palace past many powerful warriors, who had numerous tattoos on their bodies that glowed with a dim light. These were also part of the Shamanic branch of magic and would provide various slight boosts to the warriors in combat. Grobak didn’t fail to observe every last detail and he was intrigued by the strength of the tribe and also their accumulation of power. He had been from a small tribe originally and his tribe hadn’t had any totemic warriors like these. Even now his tribe had no warriors like these.

“The power of the Harkul is truly great, but in the face of my master’s overwhelming strength none of this will change a thing.”

While Grobak was impressed by what he saw, he couldn’t help but sneer inwardly. In the end, it didn’t matter how many powerful warriors they had. In the face of true strength, like that of his master’s, they were all dust. He had yet to see a single being which could threaten his master in any way.

Noticing Grobak’s wandering eyes which were taking in all the sights, the Orc leading him said rudely, “Hurry up, this way!”

Grobak grunted angrily, but didn’t bother wasting his time with words. He was now alone, his elites had to wait outside the palace and he didn’t want to cause any issues here. He picked up his pace but didn’t stop his observations of his surroundings. The interior of the palace had many statues and pillars which had been here since the palace was built as the Orcs didn’t have the capability to create such fine and exquisite work. The further he walked into the palace, the more apparent it came as the only furnishing which were added later were much more crude and clearly of a different style. The Orcs had added various furs, carpets, and furniture which was designed more for function than appearance. Although the Orcs possessed wealth, they lacked the skills to create on their own.

Ever since the fall of the original Orc Empire and the collapse of their civilization, they had devolved to a point that they had become much more concerned with physical strength and warfare than art or other skilled crafts. It was only in recent years that they had begun to develop more and obtain wealth from their various nefarious activities, but they had yet to become civilized to the point that they could leisurely pursue other interests.

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Eventually, Grobak was led into a large and open space. It appeared to be an ancient throne room which had been well maintained. There were large statues along the sides of the throne room but just like every other part of the palace, the statues had been worn down by time and the elements and the features were no longer fully visible. It was impossible to tell what race they belonged to. It was possible that they were Dwarven figures of legends or perhaps something else entirely. It was more likely that they represented deities of some kind, but the Orcs had no knowledge of them.

At the end of the throne room was a slightly raised dais with a throne of stone at the center. No one was seated on the throne and only the chief of the Harkul tribe was permitted to sit in it. There were several other stone chairs along the pathway leading up to the dais and there was a large but relatively old Orc sitting in the chair nearest the dais. There were also many Orc guards along the sides of the throne room who were quite fierce looking, wearing a type of unknown hide armor. They all possessed tattoos which covered a good portion of their exposed skin. These were powerful elites and were all advanced class beings with even peak advanced class among them. If they were all to attack Grobak, he would stand no chance of leaving this throne room alive.

The Orc which was leading Grobak impatiently gestured for him to go forward to meet the acting chief. Grobak gave the Orc one last look before heading further into the throne room. He decided to put on a false grin and happily presented himself to the acting chief of the Harkul. It was rumored that the current chief of the Harkul was in seclusion in order to break through to the Legendary realm and so an acting chief was placed in charge of the tribe until the real chief left seclusion. He had already been in seclusion for a long time, but it was unknown when he would finally come out of it.

The acting chief appeared to be a wizened old Orc with a long and unruly beard. Although he was old, this did not diminish from his fierce appearance and sturdy muscles. There was a large scar which ran down the left side of his face and through his left eye. He was clearly blind in his left eye, but his remaining eye was sharp and his gaze piercing. He gave Grobak the impression of a wily old snake, someone who was cunning and difficult to fool. He was also a Shaman of some power so Grobak wouldn’t underestimate him. Nonetheless, Grobak was not concerned too much because of this. Although his intentions were not pure, none of what he planned to say was a lie. The expeditions were a danger to the tribes on the Steppes and it would be wise for them to stand up to it before they grew in strength and established themselves.

“So, you are the Chief of the tribe encamped outside The Canyon? Have you come to offer tribute or is there some other purpose for your visit?” The acting Chief asked without any sense of urgency.

“I am Grobak! I have brought this head as a sign of my good intentions! This is a werewolf as you can see, a powerful master class being that I slayed with my own hands!”

Grobak roughly placed the spear with the decapitated head on it down on a nearby stone table before haughtily seating himself on a stone chair near the acting chief. This caused the acting chief to raise his right eyebrow in interest while the Orcs guarding the throne room suddenly became tense with Grobak’s disrespectful actions. Their sudden murderous intentions were apparent to Grobak, but he didn’t seem to mind them at all. Although their numbers posed a threat to him, he wasn’t afraid.

“Hmm, this is truly a remarkable feat and one that should be honored. No need to become so tense.” The Orc acting chief said to calm down the guards who returned to their previous state at his words.

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“You are quite the fearless Orc, but then High Orcs always tend to be this way. Since our chief admires talents, I won’t hold your arrogance against you. However, you should keep in mind where you are. This is the holy ancestral grounds of the tribes and you should show the proper amount of respect!”

Grobak snorted and then changed his seating posture to a more serious one.

“I meant no disrespect.” He replied with little sincerity.

He had presented himself intentionally in such a way. This persona he had created was necessary to show that he was no weakling. He could already see a slight change in how the acting chief looked at him. Showing weakness was never a good thing when dealing with Orcs. It was also not good to take things too far, so Grobak knew his limits and became serious.

“You have caught my interest, so what truly brings you here Grobak?”

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