Written by Alyssa Vaivao
At the edge of the Endless Forest lies the verdant Stone-in-the-Wood. Beneath the canopy, spears of light shone down on the lively village. Home to the clan that shares its name; the Stonewood. Among the clan was a young gelfling named Orus, who lived in the forest with his father, a lumberer. Orus’s mother, on the other hand, was a traveling blacksmith who traded metals all over the Skarith region. Orus did not see her often, but whenever she would return from her travels, he was always excited to see what metals she had brought back. His favorites always being the shiny, silvery metals since he thought of those as more refined and dignifying.
As a childling, his peers often thought of him as a bit too mature for his age. While the other gelflings his age would pull pranks on passerbys, he would instead spend the day helping his father with chores. This trait persisted into adulthood where he was often seen as a stick in the mud by his fellow guard. Other gelflings thought that he was a little pretentious when it came to his extensive knowledge on weapon craftsmanship, often judging other people's weapons by the sharpness, weight, etc.
He was not particularly fond of Fizzgigs, during his youth he stumbled a bit too close to a fizzgig den and was in turn chased by a pack. Even though this event took its toll on Orus, his father used it as a learning opportunity. So one day, his father carved him a wooden fizzgig figure as a way to “face his fears' '. To this day, Orus still has the figure, holding it in his hand whenever he is faced with a difficult task or nervous, hoping that it will give him the strength to face his fears.
Inspired by his father, Orus decided to follow in his fathers footsteps. Even though Orus was not as skilled as his father, he had once carved a figure of Maudra Fara, although the face of the carving was left to be desired. Nevertheless, he kept this as well as the fizzgig carvings in a small ornate box in his barracks underneath a piece of tablecloth from his home.
As a youngling, Orus believed that he was destined to become an esteemed woodsman just as his father was, however Orus took to sword fighting instead as it is family tradition, and learning how to defend oneself and their people was expected from all Stonewood gelfling. He was trained by his father in a two handed blade style, incorporating different wood chopping techniques that he had learned. This combination transitioned well into his own unique fighting style. He wished to grow stronger and one day plunge his sword into the Stonewood crucible, symbolizing that with that weapon, he felled a mighty foe and aided in the protection of his clan.During the first battle of Stone-in-the-Wood, his father was fatally wounded by the Ascendancy while trying to protect Orus. After plunging his weapon into the crucible, he arrived home where Orus noticed the amount of blood dripping out his side. His father gripped the wound tightly and asked Orus to lay him down in his bed. Orus sat by his side crying, his hands trembling as they wrapped around his fathers. His father whispered to him that Orus must seek solitude within the Endless Forest and perfect his fighting style. After accomplishing his request, he would earn the right to his grandfather's blade. Orus felt his fathers grasp loosening as he whispered to Orus that he loved him and uttered his final words, “Face your fears.” and soon he had returned to Thra.
Orus was seldom seen after his fathers passing. He had left Stone-in-the-Wood to do as his father had told him. He lived in the Endless Forest, only ever leaving to visit his fathers grave in the Ribbon Grove, an eerily silent, but calm thicket within the Burnt Wood. His father was his world and now he was gone. His mother unfortunately was not able to make it to the ceremony as she was on the other side of the Skarith region trading at Ha’rars ports. Something that he greatly held against her.
After that battle,Orus had changed. He was taught that war is a way of the world, a part of history and in some cases, the only way progress can be made. From that moment forward he decided to become a castle guard so that if a war were to commence once more, he can protect the ones he held dear. Seeing his father pass away in the same bed his grandfather and his father before him did, he knew in his heart that he did not want to continue the cycle. That same cycle of chopping wood, staring up at the castle. He wanted to be in the castle, looking back at Stone-in-the-Wood.
Once Orus reached adulthood, he made the trip on foot to the castle. His father always deterred him from being a castle guard as he had a feeling that something was amiss in the castle. Orus never truly understood what his father meant, but his father usually had a sense for what was good so he never questioned it. It just seems that whenever his father looked at that crooked castle, something in his heart knew something of no good resided within its walls. However, Orus interpreted this as a sign that he should be the beacon of justice that the castle needed.
It was a long and arduous trip to the Castle of the Crystal, however he did not anticipate an even greater task; convincing the Skeksis lords to hire a guard whom they had not hand picked. Upon arrival, he was quickly denied entry. Orus promptly refused to back down. He had made it this far, it was too late for him to turn back now. The Chamberlain was summoned to deal with the intruder only to find a filthy Stonewood. He would have shooed him away, but Skeksil bade the guards attack Orus to test his worth. Orus was able to subdue the guards, proving to the Chamberlain that he was at least worth the armor.
Orus found the skeksis to be large and all powerful behemoths of ultimate wisdom. He respected the General for his powerful stature and strength with the blade. On the other hand he did not hold the same respect for Chamberlain. He did not completely forgive him for pitting his fellow gelfling against him.Since Orus took his job as a castle guard seriously, he left very little room for error. He did not hold that standard for him only, but he did for his fellow guard as well. As mentioned before, his peers saw him as a strict, overbearing guard, however his fellow Stonewood took pride in him as an exemplary castle guard. The podlings that resided in the castle also respected him as he was generally a lot kinder to them then he was to others.
After some time as a castle guard, Orus sometimes felt a tinge of guilt for leaving his home behind. He fears his father looks over him in anguish as he has disobeyed him. But Orus knew that this is what a Stonewood must do. To Orus, the Stonewood clan was a shining symbol of history, power, and dutiful servitude to Thra. He was a part of a warrior clan and what is the greatest honor to a warrior prowess then being tasked with the protection of those who bless their lands and grace them so.
After his initiation, the relationship between him and his mother grew ever rockier. After the death of his father, the visits became fewer and fewer. Now that Orus had left Stone-in-the-Wood, he had not seen her since. Although he holds a grudge on her for choosing the salty winds of raising a child, deep down he regrets not leaving and traveling alongside his mother after his fathers passing. Perhaps he could have journeyed across the Skarith region selling metals. It was the safer option, but he knew he would not feel fulfilled. Whenever these heavy thoughts came to mind after a day of work, he would return to his barracks where hecould watch the brother suns setting across the horizon.
Orus often traveled across Thra whenever he had a mission, however Orus enjoyed his trips to the gelfling capitol, Ha’rar the most because Vapran art and culture spoke to him. He secretly idolized the styles of the Vapran but also wanted to show off his heritage. His clothes incorporate a bold and ornate take, while simultaneously maintaining a strong Stonewood appearance. Whenever he was free to roam, he frequented the springs high in the mountains. He enjoyed solitude and it was a place that helped clear his mind. The mountaintops of Ha’rar is also the area where he found his animal companion, a Sharp Awlis. He found them while on a scouting mission and made the fatal mistake of feeding it. Now the companionship is without his say, not that he is bothered by it.
Whenever Orus is out on patrol, he enjoys the long strolls through the environment and simply takes in his surroundings. Watching the many creatures of Thra pass by, noting all the small details such as curled tails or missing antlers. When setting up camp, he enjoys sitting by the fire and taking in the smell of the burning wood. The scent would take him back to a simpler time where he and his father would talk for hours by the fire back in Stone-in-the-Wood. He was wrapped in a blanket after his father rescued him after he took a dive into the Black River. He longed to go back to those times, but he knew that it was up to him to create new happier memories in his new life.
Orus rarely returned to Stone-in-the-Wood as he spent more time in Sami Thicket or Ha’rar, either for patrol or escorting the skeksis lords. However, whenever he found himself back in Stone-in-the-Wood, he made sure to visit his old home as well as his fathers grave once again. Leaving only a few words of apology for abandoning his home.