Imperial Orcs children
Children are very important within orc society, as the survival of the legions relies on the young. Most Imperial Orcs feel a special affection for children of their legion, even those that are not their own and will fight to the death to protect them from harm. Harm is seen as real risk to life and limb however; orc children are not spoiled. There is a belief that life is hard and that children must learn this from an early age. There is an orc saying that to shield the child is to expose the legion. Young children are never taken on campaign into enemy territory but they do travel with the legions as they march around the Empire. Sharing the harsh conditions that their parents experience is seen as character building.
Although children cannot legally take the battlefield before they pass their citizenship tests, they are still expected to serve the legion from a young age. Young children run messages for warlords, shamans and other important figures while older children work with bonesetters to acquire wealth and resources for the legion or acting as lookouts for thief-takers. Youth is seen as a handicap, since a child is prevented from taking the battlefield, they must compensate and look to help their legion in other ways.
When not working children are encouraged to fight and play games that teach them tactics and strategy or to study magic, literacy and history. It is accepted that children will want to engage in frivolous games that will not ultimately benefit them, but such things are seen as rewards for hard work.
Imperial Orcs live tough lives and those who fight in the Imperial armies know that death may find them at any point. As a result, they often look to pass on important belongings to children from an early age. Items of worth are particularly important. It is believed that learning to value the worth of an item, being able to recite its history and legacy, helps a child learn what it means to be an Imperial Orc as well as inspiring them to worthy deeds of their own. Weapons are common, once a child is old enough to carry one responsibly but pieces of jewellery, bones and other worthy pieces are all considered suitable for children. A young orc who carries an item of worth is expected to know its provenance and be able to tell stories of the deeds that helped it acquire worth. Some adult orcs, especially preachers like to challenge youngsters carrying such items to tell these tales, as a way of instilling pride and building confidence.
Once a child has passed the warrior test they are then old enough to fight in the fighting pits. The first fight is often a short, nervous affair and considered something of a rite of passage by many parents, but young orcs are encouraged to treat the pits with due respect. An orc should have reason to go to the pits, not simply because they are looking to prove they have become an adult.
While younger orcs do not hear their ancestors as often or as strongly as adult orcs do, it is important to teach them the difference between 'good' ancestors (those who offer guidance that helps them grow as part of the Empire) and 'bad' ancestors (those who give bad advice, or encourage them to do things at odds with the Imperial Orc way of life).
Things every child should know
- You have just one life, use it wisely. It should be your goal to become an ancestor.
- Your legion is your family. Wear your legion's symbols with pride.
- Support the Empire. You are part of the greatest power on earth, work hard to be worthy of it.
- Items have stories. These stories tell you what a person or item is worth, learn them well.
- Keep the laws. Without law we are nothing – Imperial law must be upheld at any cost.