The ogres, or O’kr as they call themselves in their own basic way, of the Highlands that dwell in the north of the Lands of Winter are a savage, bestial and unrelenting race of hunters. They live for the chase, strive for the prize and seek their prey with an excitable thirst for blood and honour. To the ogres, the races of men and ayl’far are nothing but game to be hunted and exterminated, as the pathetic and weak vermin that they are, should they ever dare to cross into their tribal territories.
To the south, in the Lochlands, the humans are a proud, stubborn and wary folk who have no trust for their southern cousins in the kingdom of Ayrlaston and would like nothing better than to see the very extinction of their barbaric neighbours to the north. Like the O’kr, they seek to claim all of the Winter Lands for themselves and the King and his Winter Court would relish the opportunity to settle the land so that they might hunt for bison meat and excavate their vast mines of iron and coal.
So why do they not wage war with each other? Why have there been no large battles fought over land and resources to decide who the true masters of the Winterlands truly are – once and for all? The ogres are savage, merciless masters of the hunt and the humans are fearful, resourceful warriors and explorers and they are no strangers to war. And yet they have stood apart since the first bloody meeting between the two centuries ago with no major incursions into each other’s territories.
The very reason is a simple one and a source of great frustration to both races. It is because of the wild, hostile hills and high grounds of the Grey Wolds. As it is normally coated in a sea of fog that merges seamlessly with its tall, dark green forests, it is a truly intimidating prospect for any traveller and one that separates the Highlands from the Lochlands for miles and miles all the way from the eastern shores to the western Silent Sea. Also known as the ‘Great’ Wolds, this region is peppered with powerful blizzards so cold and chilling that even one of the stoutest men from the city of Wintermere, and these are some very large men, covered in thick furs from head to foot would freeze to death in mere minutes if he had the misfortune to become lost traversing one of the few weather worn trails that lead into this area. The winds blow fierce and fowl with a vicious howl as if one hundred wolves were mocking your presence there all at the same time. These bitter sharp gales can cut the flesh of an unwary ogre whose dark furred and grey/green skin is thought to be so thick that any normal stone tipped arrow would just bounce off with but the slightest graze.
When the veil of blizzards and cold winter storms actually subside, any who venture far enough, and if they are lucky, may see large herds of mastodons roaming the region with little fear of being hunted for these periods of uneasy calm do not last long. Any hunter who does return home with the hide of a mastodon on his back is considered a hero amongst men or an unrivalled beast master of the ogres. Whilst the human may charge a small fortune for his or her prize and have a good story to tell in the tavern, their ogre counterpart can have their claim of many sexual partners, any reward of drink, feasting and fire and is considered worthy of the absolute leadership of their own tribe. Almost every tribal leader, they would come to earn the title of Kol, in the city of Tyrak and the Highlands has killed at least one mastodon and usually sits on a throne carved from its skull and horns and wears its hide as a coat of nigh unmatched distinction.
The northern line of the Lochlands before the Grey Wolds is littered with outposts and watchtowers that have some of the regions finest scouts and archers guarding the land every day and every night, looking out for stray wolves, maybe the odd elk that has drifted too far from safety and outlaws on the run. The most terrifying prospect though for anyone who carries the duty of a border guard is, on the very rare occasion that they have managed to cross over, a band of bestial, blood drunk, ale fuelled and battle hardened ogres looking for a fight and a fresh kill. Every now and then the most determined seekers of treasures and glory make it across, at least those who have survived the passing which tends to number only ten or fewer, looking to murder, pillage and plunder the bountiful lands of their southern foe.
The southern border of the Highlands tells a far more savage story. Lit by endless fire so that the shadows of fear can taunt and terrify as they dance for miles around, there are hundreds of massive rock formations depicting large visages of monstrous stone monuments of their mightiest ancestors as a tribute to their fallen kin. The O’kr tribes revere and refer to this as their Aegis of the Ancestors. They are coated in the blood and the bones of fallen warriors and vanquished prey lining the border as a vicious warning to any who might think it wise to cross into the territories of the Kol’s of Ancient Auroraden.
It would be considered a blessing from Maellor for any man to walk into the capital settlement of the tribes of Tyrak unscathed and then it would require a personal escort from the gods themselves for them to leave with all of their limbs still attached to their body. And no man, woman or child would see it as anything but a cruel curse to see one of the mighty ogres walk amongst them.
The more peace loving folk of the Lochlands give thanks to the gods every day for the protection of the great winter barrier between them that is the Grey Wolds. Devout followers of Maellor refer to this barrier as the Winter Veil, a blessing of the Winter God as a form of shelter for his people. However, they will always fear the day when the veil disappears and the savages from the north roam southward to claim the lives of their prey as they march to war and conquest in their search for dominion over men.