Zir watched a small trail of blood vanish in the flowing stream. The water would clean his wound and afterwards he would walk through the soft grass and mud which would make a protective patch over his sole. He trusted in the land. Nature would take care of him.
He would of course consider taking a break for a day, but it was only a few more miles to the Droklag Clan settlement. He might have to favor his left leg a bit while he marched on, but he would make it before midday.
Zir thanked the water and asked the grass to be gentle. It tickled and stung when he pressed his foot into the dirt, but he gave a satisfied grunt. Life was nothing if not the acceptance of pain.
It took him longer than it would have if not for nature's little jab, but he knew there was sure to be a reason and he did not complain to the wind or the sun or the earth as he wandered on. The top of the settlement's huts could be seen in the distance and he kept moving towards them at a leisurely pace.
When he entered the settlement boundaries a horde of little broods came running his way. It had been months since he'd last been at the Droklag Clan, but the broods remembered him well. He was quite the attraction wherever he went.
They all tugged on his knee-length hair to test if it was real and ask him why he was wearing tree bark on his arms and had vines wrapped around him. "Calm down, little ones. I'll come spend time with you later. First, I need to speak with your elder. The land needs to be listened to."
The broods reluctantly let him go. Zir marched on towards the elder's hut. The grunt guarding it looked at him with irritation. He grumbled something as he went inside and came out again shortly afterwards.
"Elder Ferkud will see you." The grunt's tusks were raised high in contempt.
"Thank you, my brother."
The grunt huffed in Zir's neck as he passed, but closed the flap to the hut without quarrel.
"What do you want, Zir? Or should I say what does the land want?" Ferkud was an old grizzled Orc with gray hair on the sides of his head. The top was bald in a neat crescent.
Zir knew that the elder didn't like it when his time was being wasted, which always put him in a lousy mood. But Ferkud was no fool and knew that Zir could bring useful information. If from other clans or from nature, it did not matter as long as it was useful.
Zir leisurely stepped up to the fire pit in the middle of the hut and grabbed a fistful of the ashes of last nights fire. He wet one of his fingertips and dabbed it into the ash and licked it off. "Mmm. These are good ashes." He rubbed the rest into the wound on the sole of his foot.
Ferkud was sitting cross-legged and had his hands propped on his knees, striking an impatient pose. A part of Zir enjoyed making him uncomfortable, but he was here on nature's behalf. Zir raised his hands up high for his proclamation.
"Zirayus, the land, from the mountains to the plains, from the seas to the desert. " Ferkud sighed and his arms slumped. He hated it when Zir started his speeches like this. "The earth, dirt, rock and metal. The wind, from the slightest breeze to the howling gusts of a storm. The water from the salty sea to the fresh icy spring. Zirayus, our land has spoken to me."
Zir's brow tightened and his tusks made his usual smile turn grim. "War is upon us!" Ferkud's back straightened and he was brought back to attention. "The land is unhappy with the bloodshed that this will bring. Something in the air has told me that no good can come of this and it must be stopped!"
Ferkud's facial expression went from annoyed to outraged. "How dare you come to me and talk about stopping this war. Orcblood has been spilled. Unprovoked. The humans are to blame. It is our nature to fight back and show them what we are made of. No Orc will idly stand by and let those filthy beings do as they please. I don't care what the land tells you."
Zir's tusks sank and he smiled sadly. "I thought you might react that way. I will have to find another clan elder that is willing to do something against this unnecessary evil. There is more to this war than just greed and honorless attacks. Someone needs to negotiate and find out what it is. Otherwise more will die."
"Yes! More will die. More humans! Nobody hurts the clans and gets away with it. Nobody!" Ferkud snarled and got up to his feet, getting ready to through Zir out.
"I see that I'm wasting my time and yours. Just know that the rivers do not want to flow red with blood. Neither Orc nor human blood. Death is always a waste."
Zir turned and left the hut, leaving the elder behind. He sighed in sorrow for the land. He was doing what he could, but he could not make the clans change their ways if they did not want to listen.
He went to play with the children until the sun began to set. The mothers gave him a meal as they often did. Afterwards he left the settlement and was back on his well trodden path. On to the next clan. To the next elder, who would reject him as well.