AppearanceThere are various accounts that exalt his fabled loveliness,whispered in reverence by his fanatical followers and embellished with each new re-telling. Some claim that Valois resembles the Sun God Himself,with the golden locks that sprout in such profusion from his head and the liquid pools of amber that glisten in his eyes,while others insist that his appearance is more akin to that of the Moon Goddess,she of the ivory skin and ebony black braids that flow forever. And there are even those who go so far as to say that Valois is so beautiful of form that none can look upon his glorious visage for long before turning away,overwhelmed by the sheer force of his unearthly beauty,legendary even to the elves.
And the truth of the matter? None of them have ever truly laid eyes on Valois the Fair. For if they were allowed to,they would cringe and recoil in revulsion from the filthy,bloated grey rat glaring out balefully at the world with its squinted black orbs.
History/Background Valois the Fair,eldest and most illustrious of the royal scions of the High Elves of Migard. Valiant and utterly without peer in every respect conceivable,he was the pride of the elven realm,his alluring emerald eyes reflecting the innate superiority and serene strength of his matchless people,second only to the very gods themselves in the grand scale of things as reckoned by the philosophers and mystics. For they were elves,were they not,a race that by their very nature,were beings far removed from the filthy hordes of bestial savages existing on the fringes of their pristine civilization,ever threatening to tarnish it with their degraded and brutish urges and instincts,consumed and dominated by the animal envy so typical of the lower order of living things. Human,dwarf,orc,it scarcely mattered. Each and every one of these ‘‘races’’ were no different from the lowly vermin they sought to distinguish themselves from with their pathetic attempts at achieving what they termed ‘civilization’. They would do well to learn from his people their true position and place in creation. Only for the elves,was reserved the right to call themselves sentient beings. Only for the elves,had the gods set aside the privileige of being honored as their children.
But the contemptuous loathing displayed by an elf towards the races he disdains as animals,is said to mask a stronger emotion. For beneath that haughty,insular surface of superiority,runs a powerful undercurrent of fear and insecurity. The gifts of the gods are always salted,the nectar of their munificence mingled with a powerful tang,serving to remind their creations that there must be essential drawbacks to even the most generous of gifts. So it is that with their long lives,comes the immense difficulty of maintaining the numbers of their population at a sustainable level. And the scum they despise are ever so fecund and virile,never ceasing to swell their broods with each new litter of hungry,demanding whelps. With the steady,inexorable march of time,that devourer whom even their arcane magic cannot even halt,the elves must endure their nigh eternal existence with the knowledge that the day will come when their sun is eclipsed and swallowed utterly by a new dawn.
Some elven monarchs choose to confront this uncomfortable reality by withdrawing into the seclusion of their forests. Others seek to keep at bay as best they can,the hordes of mortals by submitting treaties that grant them some degree of peace.
But the blood of Valois the Fair ran hot and belligerent in his veins. It galled him when he heard shameful tales of other elven realms surrendering their divine mandate to rule creation,surrendering it to the filthy mortals. It incurred his disgust,to see elves abandon their claim to filth. Cowardice was unacceptable and unworthy. Some of his more spineless brothers and sisters might choose to reconcile themselves to the long,slow death of decline,but not he. But if that fate was to be avoided,a more proactive approach to this challenge would have to be adopted..
The orcs dwelling in the dank,mosquito ridden swamps that lay to the east of Migard’s forests were getting out of hand. As long as the orcish tribes had been dwelling in the foul miasma of their water-logged realm,he had been content to ignore their existence,but the latest reports of raids on Ranger outposts and isolated farmsteads along the border had left him incensed. Already,the cancer was beginning to spread. If his people were to let this menace grow unchecked,the unthinkable would happen. Inevitable,unless there was a leader strong enough to put the entire gruesome lot of them to the sword.
When the throne of Migard passed into his hands,Valois lost no time in putting his intention into action. Drawing upon his exceptional skills as an orator,further augmented by his beauty,he put out a long and passionate appeal to his people,calling upon them to take up arms with the aim of nipping in the bud,the danger that lurked on the threshold of their kingdom.
It proved to be an easy and swift enough task to accomplish,channelling his people’s latent suspicion and lingering feelings of wrath over the recent outrages into a pressing determination to wipe out every single orc wallowing in the swamps. Thus begun a bloody campaign to exterminate the swamp orcs.
Armies were led into the heart of the swamp by the elven commanders,with Valois himself often charging ahead of the others on his elven mount in his haste to jump to the grisly task at hand. Spurred on by their dashing king’s example,the elven soldiers would swoop upon slumbering tribal orc encampments and proceed to murder every living creature inside. Elders,children,females,none were spared the butcher knives of the elves. For a terrible and bloody period of ten years,the waters of the swamp ran red with orcish blood. But still the orcish tribes refused to yield,using their intimate knowledge of their surroundings to spring savage guerilla ambushes on elven military camps,and then melt back into the dank gloam of the wetlands before the stunned troops of Valois had a chance to seize their weapons and retaliate. Brave,courageous displays of courage that sowed the seeds of doubt in the hearts of even the most resolved elven soldier.
But for Valois,the stubborn orc refusal to allow themselves to be evicted from their homelands,only served to goad him to more unspeakable atrocities. Enraged beyond measure by their defiance,he swore never to cease in his efforts until the last of the slavering brutes had been slain and skinned. So he continued to push his now flagging soldiers on,disregarding the dark rumours about his sanity that had begun to circulate in the tents of his men.
Just when it appeared that he had thrown the resources of his nation into a un-attainable conflict,welcome news arrived. Short of breath but ecstatic,a scout rushed into his tent on during the mid-afternoon of the thirty-nine day to bring word of victory:The orcs had finally abandoned their war of resistance,abandoning their remaining villages,fleeing into the warg-infested lands to the north. They had seen the fleeing convoys of refugees,had cut down those that hadn’t managed to lose themselves in the thick,soggy foliage in the nick of time.
A brutal feeling of absolute satisfaction bordering on bliss,filled Valois the Fair. Giddy with the sweet intoxication of victory,he immediately left with a small escort for the clear spring located on the outskirts of their woodland camp,eager to cleanse himself thoroughly in it’s clear waters before it was time to break out the thrilling news to his warriors. Upon arriving at its fragrant,blossom strewn bank,he beckoned his guards to move some distance away,so that modesty could be preserved. A liberty with his personal safety one might have said,but Valois the Fair had no concerns. He had soundly vanquished them,had he not? No,no real threat would come from the direction of those savages. They would understand by now,that any attack on his person,would be repaid with the complete destruction of their folk.
So it discomfited him greatly when he espied the elderly orc observing him grimly from the opposite bank. Completely calm and un-afraid in the presence of the elven king who had exterminated so many of his brothers and sisters,he continued to fix the king with his unsettling gaze. Fear bubbled beneath his astonishment,and Valois found himself cringing inwardly from this gaunt spectre of an orc. His limbs trembling,he mustered all his nerve,bringing it to bear down on the seed of fear gnawing away at his bravado.. The gods knew,it was ridiculous for him to be afraid of this toothless beast. He who had daubed his blade with the life-blood of their strongest warriors,what did he have to fear from this frail collection of skin and bones with a death-wish? Granted the brute was disturbingly hideous like all his wretched kind,but that was hardly cause for a valorous elven king like him to cower. Disgruntled,he leapt out of the water,temporarily heedless of the dictates of modesty,and grabbed the sword he had left by the river,eager to bring this impasse to an end by spitting the cur on the tip of his sword. But as his fingers slipped over the pommel,the old orc startled him by speaking in a haunting voice radiating power and strength,the power and strength of the dark,primeval swamp.
‘‘So you are the tyrant who drives the orcs under my protection from their homes like vermin. Like all of your arrogant race,you consider only your and yours to be worthy of life,worthy of the blessings that nature bestows on all creation. But know this. I am the ancient one who has dwelled here since time immemorial,beyond even the ken of elves. And you have wronged my wards indeed,elder-born. The orcish people have dwelled here almost as long as I,leaving only to strike at intrusions by your people who seem intent on making all of nature acknowledge them as the masters of of all its manifold aspects. You supplant parts of my swamp with forest with the aid of your divinely gifted magic,not realizing in your blind hubris that you shame and embarrass the very gods who have gifted you thus. And now you commit the ultimate insult against me,by making war against a people that have done you no wrong,violating your own sacred precepts of the sanctity of life. You have become conceited like all your people,elder-born. But now you will learn that there are forces in existence that even your kind must respect’.
And these grim,forboding words pierced the words of Valois like a dagger,shattering his fragile mask of fearlessness. Finally dawning on him that the creature he confronted was no mere orc,he fell on his knees,desperate for any clemency this fearsome being might be willing to grant him. A futile effort. Even as his limbs sunk into the soft mud of the bank,trying their best to accomadate the hitherto unfammiliar position of supplication,he begun to shrink and sprout coarse grey fur. As his horrified mind struggled to come to terms with the harrowing changes assaulting his body,he heard a soft chuckle. Forcing himself to ignore the disturbing sound made by the pink hairless tail now forcing its way out of the back of his spine,he jerked his mutating head in the direction of the mysterious spectre.
It was chuckling softly now,its voice filled with ironic mirth. ‘‘The great elven king,slayer of the orcs,now reduced to to the lowly status of a swamp scavenger. And epic tragedy worthy of your bards,elf’‘. And with those vindictive words,it dissipated into a cloud of greenish vapour that was soon carried away on the back of a strong breeze that had begun to stir,as if summoned by the swamp lord.
And thus was the fate of Valois the Fair sealed.
Unfortunately for the well-fare of all orc-kind,his story did not end here. Though deprived of his own body by the curse laid on him,Valois the rat,Valois the Vermin,yet retained his capacity for vengeance. Whatever else of him that might have been altered beyond recognition,the flames of hatred burned on undiminished. Gnashing his molars in wrath,he made an oath to cease in his efforts only when when the last orc on the surface of this world had been exterminated.
A foolish boast perhaps,for a rodent compelled tos spend most of its existence scrounging refuse piles for nourishment. But there are advantages to being a rat as well,the most invaluable of them,the ability to sneak into most dwellings undetected,be they elven or orcish. It was in the home of the reknown elven mage Shalir,that he drank deep of the wondrous Mead Of Versatility,that allows the drinker to assume the glamour and mannerisms guaranteed to assure the success of the missions that he undertakes,enabling the Vermin to put together an army of small but dedicated followers sharing his messianic view of a world free of the orcish taint. And it was in the unclean den of a an orc,that he made the startling discovery of the orc tick,a parasite pervasive among the brutes,feeding off their blood with impunity and growing bloated off it. A vital bit of knowledge that a mind as fertile as his would only be too willing to put to devastating use.
So it is,that in dark laybrinths of the Vermin’s lair,his deranged minions breed seething masses of the ticks,greedily anticipating the apocalyptical goal of infecting each and everyone of the little blood drinkers with some of the most dangerous blood-borne diseases known to afflict orcs. The day will come when the entire race of orcs is felled,not by the sword of the elf,but by the verminous little creatures nestling in the crevice of their filthy bodies,that they so readily dismiss as harmless..