The blood cools, thick and heavy, upon my axe as I take a moment to look out over the battlefield. At my feet, the heat of his blood steaming against the boreal chill, a human boy no older than my own son lay freshly slain. While they have never put much stock in our craftsmanship, there are few humans who would fault the brutality of an orcish weapon, forged and swung. He offered me little challenge, his scale, little resistance, but he died a warriors death, a death of value and merit, fighting for his life, his love, his cause. I like to believe, in some way, he thanks me in the other life, as I would thank him, had he managed to best me.
Out across the snowline, similar battles take place, with numbers dropping on both sides. This is a border skirmish really, nothing more than a precursor to the true conflict that will begin. In this my troops, my men, my children, will whet their appetites, and their blades, or fall before a superior foe. I hold no ill towards our opponents; rather I love them as kin. Conflict is life for creatures such as us. War drums are our heartbeat, molten iron our blood, torn earth our flesh, and weapon haft our bones. Without a foe, we would fall upon each other like rapid mongrels, and surely we would decimate ourselves unto extinction.
These people, these human men and women, fight with a ferocity that matches ours, and a strength of will that more than surpasses the frailty of their arm. With every life they take, their fervour grows; with every life we end, our rage enflames. Truly, truly we are as brothers, though I know few would agree with me.
These thoughts, after all, are my own, and quite private. I know how my forces see me, and I would be a fool to contradict them. To them, I am a small god; my words echo with the intensity of a fallen star, my arm is more destructive than the most violent of blizzards, my will as unshakeable as the heaviest snow capped peaks. They would kill themselves a thousand times over for me, as they know I would do no less for them.
My seers inform me the human kingdom would demonize me to embolden their people, and I glory in such infamy from a worthy foe. To them, I am a soulless force; my words sound of destruction and hate, my weapon would find respite in their daughters and sons, and my will has given way to violent insanity. This fear, this hate, serves to ignite the warrior spirit in those who hear it, seeking to face me in battle and expunge me from this world. Such is the soil from which a crop of worthy foes grows.
I am charging now, heavy, muscled legs carrying me towards the front line. My armour glistens with frost and blood, and yet I am not cold. Indeed, I would strip all manner of garb from me and fight in the nude to try and cool my flesh. But to do so would surely invite my demise, which would be an insult to my family on both sides of the battle line.
The double-axe spins a wide arc in my hand, twisting end over end before coming to rest in the fallen torso of a cavalier. His horse, headless now, collapses against me, and its weight is enough to drive me to a knee. The beast was raised for war, fed on war, killed by war, I pray for a moment that its reward is even half as glorious as its demise.
The rider's legs are splayed out beside us with the animal's head, the axe having hewn both from their owners, and despite being divided, the man still lives, for the time at least. He splits blood upon my face and presumably a curse as well. I smile inwardly even though I bark, furious and harsh at him. Shifting my weight, I send the horse-corpse sprawling, crashing down somewhere to my right and I bring my foot down hard upon his chest remains. Still the look of hate burns in his eyes, and my pride in him grows. Truly, truly a worthy opponent, one whom I will praise once this battle is complete. With that, my free hand clamps upon his head and I tear it free from his shoulders before skewering it upon one of the smaller spikes which adorn me. He will see this battle to the end, or at least my end in it, whichever comes to pass.
Finally though, my true challenge arrives, the human champion called Garig Laddin. His once silver armor is now as thick with frost and stain as mine. The one-half blade he sweeps through my men is so hardened with gore as to be more like a butcher's cleaver than a warrior's sword. He spies me through the breech and for one brief, eternal instant, the world goes silent. There are no soldiers, no family warring about us, there is just us, two men, poised upon the edge of destruction. Our hearts beat as one, our flesh warmed by the same blood, cooled by the same frigid air, we are two sides of the same weapon.
We each other bellow the others name, our words combining to drown out the conflict, and then we charge, head long and reckless, at each other.
Truly, truly this is what it means to live.