Online:The Chronicles of King Kurog, Book V
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Let's talk about the wives of King Kurog of Wrothgar. He began collecting wives shortly after he returned to Wrothgar and defeated Bolazgar to become chief of his clan. His first selections were purely political, taking wives to shore up his alliances with other clans. It was about this time that I became aware of Kurog's mother, Alga. He had mentioned her a few times in conversations we had over the years, but she never seemed to be a major influence in his life. At least, she wasn't prominent in his life as a mercenary.
Now that Kurog was chief of his clan, his mother had stepped in to fill a need he never knew he had. She took the title of Forge-Mother and immediately set out to negotiate marriages for her son. For those of you not intimately familiar with Orc traditions, you must understand that the only male in a clan allowed to take wives is the chief. He functions sort of like the primary male in a pride of lions, lording over all until someone younger and stronger comes along to take his crown. Just as Kurog did with Bolazgar. The chief's wives become the highest-ranking people in the stronghold, taking charge of important clan functions while the chief supervises everything from a distance. The only activity the chief personally takes charge of is war, whether leading raids or actually taking his clan into battle against a hated enemy.
The most-influential and powerful of the chief's wives is the hunt-wife, and this was the first marriage that Alga worked to secure. Rumors abound that more than a dozen young hopefuls were vying for the position, but Alga and Kurog had a specific goal in mind. In the end, a powerful daughter from the Shatul clan, famed hunters of the Wrothgar highlands, was selected to solidify the alliance between the clans. Noroga pledged her loyalty and the loyalty of her clan, taking her place as Kurog's hunt-wife.
When it came time to find Kurog a forge-wife to oversee blacksmithing and mining for the clan, Alga looked no further than the famed weapon and armor smiths of the Morkul clan. The obvious choice was the Morkul chief's eldest daughter, an Orc maiden named Ashaka. But Alga was more interested in the younger Tugha, who had traveled abroad for two years to study with the blacksmiths of western Skyrim. Her experiences, modern attitudes, and obvious intelligence won her the position of forge-wife for Kurog and his clan.
If there was a requirement other than bringing another powerful clan under Kurog's banner, the role of hearth-wife demanded not only a brilliant household administrator but a talent for cooking that went beyond the usual skills of a mountain-bear hash-slinger. Kurog, as I've mentioned in previous volumes of this chronicle, relished food with a passion. Between fighting and eating, I'd be hard-pressed to determine which activity Kurog enjoyed more. Be that as it may, it would take years to find someone of Orcish grace and exceptional talent to fill this marital role. A great competition was eventually staged while Kurog was off aiding King Emeric at the end of Ranser's War.
While Kurog was away, at least according to my sources, Forge-Mother Alga invited the most eligible Orc maidens from the most powerful clans not yet allied with Kurog to compete for the title of hearth-wife. She made them engage in a culinary battle that was as violent and bloody as any skirmish Kurog himself had ever undertaken. The women had to track, kill, and clean their own ingredients. They had to fight each other to secure spices from distant lands. And then they had to present their finished meals before time ran out. Alga and Kurog's first wives, Noroga and Tugha, would judge the worth of each contestant's offering. Barazal of Clan Murtag won the day, as much for her physical strength (it is said she killed a mountain bear with her bare hands) as her deft use of delicate spices.
Kurog has many and varied lesser wives, most of who I have no real knowledge of, as they work behind the scenes and rarely made their presence known. Two, however, are always at Kurog's side. These are his protectors, the shield-wives. Two powerful fighters currently fill these roles in Kurog's household, the warrior-sisters Oshgatha and Razbela. The sisters are as loyal to each other as they are to the king, ready to lay down their lives to defend him should the need arise. Even Noroga and Tugha remain on best behavior when the shield-wives are present.
Note: Though each marriage secured Kurog a certain degree of cooperation from the various clans, I should point out that since Kurog took the title of king, some of the clan chiefs who joined with Kurog by virtue of his marriage to their daughters have had a change of heart. While these chiefs won't openly oppose Kurog due to the marriage alliance, they have yet to publicly accept him as king of the Orcs. This, as you can probably guess, makes Kurog extremely unhappy.