The Orphans of Cathorna
The Kul are the most organised of the orc tribes in the Greater Firen Valley. The principal foe in Third and Fourth Cathorna, they have proved a bigger threat than the scattered Varg, the disinterested Huz or any of the other humanoid races (though a concerted ogre attack is many Cathornans’ greatest fear). They fight fearlessly in disciplined groups with quality weapons and armour, and a rigid command hierarchy.
The attack of Third Cathorna was foreshadowed by increased Kul activity in the forest nearby. Hunters noted a drop in game, well-concealed signs of foraging and occasional abandoned hides (as in hiding places, not animal skins). The militia was a much looser organisation back then, and Palanto responded simply by putting two people on gate duty instead of one. Even the disappearance of an experienced hunter (Davilak Par, a Treforn dun who came to Cathorna in 1630) did little to raise fears (his body was found tied to a tree after third Cathorna; he had been brutally tortured). When the Kul attack struck, nobody was ready for either its ferocity or sophistication.
Kul activity dropped off almost to nothing after Third Cathorna. A year later there was a half-hearted attack by a dozen or so orcs. By this time the militia had been formed and everyone over 15 trained to fight. First Heavy were on standing patrol atop Cathorna Hill when the orc force came through; they allowed them to pass, then quietly followed Kotlas Umber and two other hunters who had been shadowing the enemy since they crossed the Laska. The night patrol heading out to relieve First Heavy ran into the orcs; sandwiched between them and First Heavy a violent melee followed and the hapless orcs were slaughtered. Little more than the occasional black arrow and footprint have been spotted near Cathorna since.
The attack of Fourth Cathorna came out of the blue. There were no warnings, no signs of patrols, no lost hunters. Only the original Second Skirmish knew anything of the attack before the enemy were at the gates, and all but one of them died before they reached home with the news. Liane Volker, the only survivor, died of her wounds before the night was over.
While Fourth Cathorna was the end of the kul presence near the village, they have been spotted elsewhere. The few hunters who venture south of Keep Mountain report seeing patrols of up to five moving along the foothills, often with game or something else on carry poles. The hardy explorers who have been to the face of Armagil’s Glacier report seeing groups of up to ten fast-trekking across the alluvial plain and up the steep ravines to the east of it. Excluding recent events, nothing has been seen of them in the high Spruce, though so few Cathornans are foolhardy enough to venture there themselves that it is not known if they ever go there.
Back to Cathorna’s neighbours