This week I am away exploring the castles of old in Hungary and Romania. As I wished you still had something to read here in my absence, I decided it was a high time to clarify what the orcs consider for honour. This was written some time ago but I just never found the right opportunity to post it. I hope you enjoy it.
In the second year of Sunwell's restoration I, Master of the Order of Blood Knights, Astalnar Impulos dor Peral of Silvermoon have decided to shed what little of light I can on the question of our allies the Orcs, and their ways. I believe this will serve well to many of my sin'dorei brethren and thus I find it necessary to put all my findings into writing. Here I shall discuss the meaning of honour among the orcs.
What I have found is quite fascinating unto itself, but instead of pestering you with my own fascination, I will elaborate on it. Orcs do not know honour as some more refined civilisations such as ours know it. That is not to say that the dwarves and humans are civilised. Far from it, they might yet turn to be greater barbarians than the orcs for all I can think of. But in order to differentiate between the honour as an orc would know it, I shall compare it to the honour of the humans. After all it is only fair to compare one simpleton to another.
From our meddling with humans most of you know what they consider for an honour. Their honour is very chivalric in nature. To be honourable among humans means to be true to your word, to stand tall and defend your ideals, and be very moral in general. Their honour depends in many ways on other people. They need the approval of others in order to be honourable. Much like our hounds. With being honourable they seek approval of those around them, as the hound seeks the approval of his master.
Orcs as such, do not recognise honour. If you described this what humans consider for honour, they would probably think you are jesting, and rightly so. What orcs call honour, is in fact what we would refer to as valour. I suspect that in course of initial contact there came to a misunderstanding when some sorry excuse of a human probably described his honour in a more grandiose fashion than it deserved. The orc as such, could only conclude that what the human is talking about is in fact what they consider honour, while in fact they were talking about very different things entirely.
Orcs do not posses the word that could describe characteristics of what humans call honour. Most likely, if they knew what humans call honourable, they would think them mad. Orcs are society of the strong. And the strong pull their own weight. Warchief does not expect anyone to die for him. If there was such a warchief, he would soon die with a knife in his back, an eye, or even throat. The orcs are merciless, and from this harshness comes the definition of their honour to which I refer as valour.
Honour for the orcs is to fight, survive, to show your prowess, demonstrate ones skill with weapon, to defeat your foe. Greater the foe, greater the honour. The means play no role among the orcs. There is no such thing as cowardice or pusillanimity if you accomplish what you set out to do. Honour for the orc is not to die for an ideal, but to live and fight for it. If ever there was such thing as an ideal an orc would fight for. Truly, that would be a sight to see.
Orcs are pragmatic creatures. It is unwise to underestimate them at anything. While humans boast with their unbreakable spirit, the orcs have something, I consider is worth much more in the actual war. The orcs think. They are calculating, astute, even shrewd. And while most of you would probably mark some goblin with those same words, these are the words that come to define the orcish ways of honour.
Some of you are probably doubting my words. You have certainly heard of some famous orc dieing honourably in combat. And to this, I can say nothing, but let you reconsider what this honour was. Did the orc in question just fall on the sword of his enemy and die with the last cry to his ideal on his lips? Or did he slay his fair share and much more before he finally collapsed under the many wounds that covered his dead body?
There is honour in death for the orc. But this death must be earned. Orc does not go in battle just to die, he goes to battle to kill and find a worthy foe who will be able to end his life. Truth be told, the older the orc, easier it is to find such foe, but hard is for this foe to succeed. You see, once again I shall compare humans and their approach to combat with that of an orc.
Humans seek recognition, thus they always tend to fight one on one. At least those that consider themselves honourable. Orcs are pragmatic. They will never if ever go one against one. They fight together. If one of your comrades finishes his opponent while your's still stands, you can be certain you comrade in arms will stick his axe in the exposed back of you enemy. And while humans refer to this as cowardice, orcs regard this as honourable.
Indeed this brings us to what orcs then consider dishonourable, if as humans would say, anything goes. This is a hard question to answer, but I will try my best. Most of this I heard in passing or from various seers among the orcs. It is dishonourable for an orc to betray his allies or accept defeat. Example of this is late chieftain of the Warsong clan, Grom Hellscream.
Grom Hellscream is nowadays viewed as an honourable chieftain, one who saved the orcs from demonic influence. Much of it probably because of his friendship with former Warchief Thrall, son of Durotan of the Frostwolf clan. This is to say, much of what is dishonourable decides the individual himself. Grom at the beginning never doubted his decisions, thus he never thought of what he did as dishonourable. He killed, pillaged, raided, and slaughtered. He was feared even among the orcs, his warcry shattered the courage of his foes.
And yet once the haze of demonic blood let go of him, he came to feel the dishonour he brought on himself. He did not regret killing hundreds, he did not feel remorse because of what he did. No, what he felt dishonoured for, was for he failed. He lost the war against the humans, and could do nothing about it but simply hide. He felt he betrayed his brothers in arms. If dead ever pestered Grom Hellscream, they never weighed down on him. Cries of all he had slain an annoyance as great as a simple fly buzzing about in his sleep.
He could never forgive himself not for drinking the blood of the demons, but for hiding while the rest of his brethren were imprisoned in camps and broken in spirit. Defeat is not dishonourable for an orc. Defeat for an orc simply means to try again, for they never relent, and never give up. And this is why Grom felt he lost his honour. Because he could not try again. He was defeated, but could not do anything. He was like a tiger who lost his teeth, claws, and fangs.
Astalnar Impulos dor Peral
Master of the Blood Knights order