Gnoll Clan Origins

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Gnoll Clan Origins (Lore)

Rainrot

We are one. One mouth. One voice. One hunger. Nothing will stop us.

But she was tired.

She was in the middle of the pack, so it wouldn't hurt to take a little break. She was sure that she could catch the pack by its tail when she woke up. The moment the pack rushed through a nice clearing, she dropped and was sleeping peacefully.

When she awoke, she was surprised to see that others had joined her. Apparently they were tired, too. She smiled and stretched, ready to re-join the pack. There was just one problem: she could not see, nor hear, nor even smell the pack. She had no idea how long she had been out, but it seemed that almost everyone was long gone.

She took a deep breath, trying to collect her thoughts. The world had provided for the pack before her departure, so surely it would continue to provide after. She smiled and laid back; she'd sleep on it and really work at it when she woke up.

She awoke to the sounds of screaming. This was familiar enough in the larger pack, but now it was closer and less diffuse. This made it much more difficult to ignore. She walked toward the screaming only to find most of the gnolls that stayed behind with her arguing over a frantic looking creature. It lacked their prominent mane, and had a much flatter face. It was so weak her friends could toss it about without trouble. Its skin was pink, and was covered by rags.

Most of the gnolls looked at it hungrily; no one was quite sure how long it had been since they'd eaten, and they were more than happy to remedy this problem with a quick snack. The weakling jabbered, but nothing of substance seemed to come out. The gnolls around it found it easy enough to ignore, and were arguing about who got to eat what.

“Please don't eat me! I'll do anything!”

She shoved the other gnolls aside, and stood right over the creature, pushing her snout into its face.

“Oh? Where's there food, then?” she asked, her smile growing wider. “Act fast, or it’ll be you.”

The creature stammered about a farm that he worked at not too far from where they were. He mentioned livestock, including cows bigger than a house. No one was quite sure what a house was, but when the meat sack made large gestures with its arms, they understood.

“Can you bring us a few?” she asked.

“I c-can try,” he stammered, the fear still obvious on his face.

She drew an X across the creature's chest – deep enough to leave a wound, but not deep enough to kill it outright.

“If you leave and don't come back,” she said, tapping her claw where the X intersected, “that's where a claw will go. If you want to die running, you can. If you want to live, bring us a few cows.”

The creature gulped, pale from the pain. It nodded, and agreed. As it stood to walk away, she pointed at one of the other gnolls.

“Follow it. If it tries to run, kill it.”

“Why should I? You've got legs!” the other gnoll shot back.

She sighed. “If you do, you can have first pick of what to eat from the cow.”

“You've convinced me,” the other gnoll replied, practically beaming.

To everyone's' surprise, most of all to the creature's, it came back with two extremely large heffers. All gnolls present feasted well that day, and a few scraps were even spared for the creature that had brought the feast. This then, was the start of an amazing new relationship: lazy gnolls and the creatures that would do their bidding. Though the methods changed over the years, the core principle remained the same: having someone else to do the work makes life much better.

Longclaw

We were one, but some had to be left behind. Still, we hunger. Still, we eat. Still, we destroy. Nothing will stop us.

The first loss did not affect the pack initially. They were used to losing a few here or there during a feeding frenzy, so it could be adjusted for. It would take a little more work, but it would also mean less mouths to feed, and that was seen by most as a win.

All was normal when some started to act out. They grew out their claws, and took special pleasure in killing and maiming their enemies. This wasn't too different from typical gnoll behavior at first, but it only became more violent and aggressive over time.

One particularly violent gnoll, one who called herself Naarja Rot-tail, led the pack into a confrontation with a dispatch of heavily armored soldiers. The pack lost many that day, including Naaja, but she died with a sadistic smile stretched across her lips. She left this world doing precisely what she loved: maiming, butchering, and throwing caution to the wind.

It happened again two moons later, but with one key difference. When Ger Dirtmouth tried to lead the pack toward a similar dispatch of humans, she was stopped by the other gnolls at the head of the pack. They grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and held her up for all the pack to see.

They proclaimed that all who wanted to join Ger in her suicide mission were welcome to do so, but that everyone else would let the battalion pass by. There were easier targets to raid; some of the more keen-nosed of the pack had sniffed out and were tracking a caravan that was carrying a shipment of supplies that they could easily ransack.

Ger still went, of course, her claws as long as Naarja's, her mane disheveled. A small gaggle of gnolls stepped out with her, exiting the forest where the pack had stopped to attack the troupe of humans. As most, the attack was a suicide mission. Still, those who left had never looked happier.

To this day, gnolls are still born with this gene: a wildness that even other gnolls cannot tolerate. They often wander these lands, always looking for something to butcher. They can be recognized by their unruly manes and their exceptionally long claws. Some say that these gnolls are united under the banner of “Long Claw;” those truly in the know, however, know their only allegiance is to death and destruction.

Guttermaw

Many have left. Still, many remain. It is no matter. We are still strong. We will persevere.

The pack may have gotten smaller, but what it lacked in raw strength, it made up for in agility. The use of tactics went from a novelty to a necessity, and this produced some of the most spectacular wins the pack had known. Everyone was well fed and there were spoils enough for all - until the chatter started.

It was a single gnoll at first; her name was Mul. She was small, but so full of energy. She was always the first into the fray, and had the scars to match. She often displayed a toothy grin, and was almost always nursing an injury of some kind. As such, she was all too happy to brag of her accomplishments and point out what she saw as the failures of others.

This was fine for a time, until she started to gather a following. As she grew in influence, another voice in the pack started to grow as well. If Mul was the voice of the wild, Hyrn was the reserved voice of reason (or as reasonable as gnolls get). As Mul called for more and more aggressive tactics, Hyrn did the opposite. This instantly painted a target on his back; if he considered himself reserved, Mul called him indecisive. If Hyrn considered himself a strong leader, Mul claimed to be twice so.

It wasn't long before Hyrn grew tired of the verbal sparring and challenged Mul to single combat. There were only two rules: no weapons, bladed, blunt, or otherwise; this wasn't a fight to the death. Second, no other fighters in the ring. The winner would step forward as the first true leader of the pack, while the loser would shut their trap. Any followers of the defeated gnoll would also fall in line. Hyrn was not afraid to make this gamble, in part because fear is not in gnoll nature, but also because of his size and considerable skill in combat. He took Mul for a braggart, but not much else. His followers called her “guttermaw,” sure that her words could not keep pace with her fighting.

When the appointed time came, the battle was fierce. Mul continued to trash talk throughout the battle, sparing Hyrn no verbal lashing. For his part, Hyrn mostly ignored what she said, instead focusing on the fight. What he could not ignore, however, was that he was losing. Slowly but surely, she overpowered, outpaced, and most damningly, outsmarted him. He had to wave off two of his supporters with clubs when it became clear he was down for the count. Even if he was bitter, he wasn't stupid. Any attempt on her life would end his soon after, not to mention that the pack would scatter to the wind.

While Hyrn did his best to accept defeat gracefully, Mul did not make it easy; winning the fight had only increased her ego. She'd even started calling the pack clan Guttermaw so he'd never forget his loss. Isolated and defeated, Hyrn departed from the pack soon after. Only a small group of his most loyal followers went with him. He vowed to grow stronger, and to return and take the title of clan leader. He departed with little fanfare, determined to forge his own story. By contrast, clan Guttermaw remains one of the largest and strongest to this day.

Blackblood

Did we leave the pack, or did the pack leave us? Darkness, ever darker. We will grow strong to right the wrongs against us.

Hyrn left soon after Mul defeated him. He could no longer stand the constant jabbering of the Guttermaw, and he was tired of being the clan’s whipping gnoll. He left under the blood moon, taking only a handful of his most loyal followers with him, and vowing to become more powerful than Mul would ever be. He wouldn’t take back the clan by force; he would become so powerful gnolls would flock to him for leadership. That, he mused, would be the ultimate revenge.

As time passed, however, this plan seemed more and more like an impossible dream. With their drastically reduced numbers, raids grew increasingly difficult. In the early days of the pack, entire towns were regularly razed to the ground. Now, even small villages had the potential to repel them. It wasn’t long before some slipped off in the night, deciding to try their luck with another clan. The most desperate just left assuming they could do better on their own.

With no more than five other gnolls by his side, Hyrn began to falter. His plans of attack grew increasingly simplistic, leading to whispered accusations of incompetence. His ever-present hunger drove him, but his fear of being alone drove him mad. He would lay awake under the pale moon, unable to sleep for fear of the nightmares that plagued him. When his need for sleep finally caught up with him, it was halting and short-lived.

The nightmares grew worse when only two remained. These were the gnolls he ran with his whole life, the ones he had first eaten with, the ones who were prepared to kill Mul in his name. When he saw the look of doubt start to creep onto their faces, he could take it no more. He fell ill, a fever overtaking him.

His companions considered abandoning him, but decided against it on the off-chance he survived and sought revenge. They had seen the deep bitterness in his eyes, and were not willing to have that hate directed at them. Having no medicines, though, they could do little more than keep watch over him. One stayed by his side while the other hunted; this arrangement kept Hyrn alive but meant that there was never enough food.

As Hyrn laid there dying, he had incredible visions. He saw his own life flash before his eyes, the experience repeating faster and faster until it was over in a breath’s time. He made to scream, to fight, to do anything to stop this horror, when a guttural voice rang in his ears. Its depth shook him to his core, so much so that the visions ceased. When the visions stopped, a voice rang out.

“You are weak, but I can give you power. I will save you from death, if you repay your debt in blood. It should be an easy choice to make.”

From that moment, something started to seep into the very fiber of Hyrn's being.

On the third day of the watch, Hyrn stopped breathing for a long time. His companions figured he was dead and prepared to eat him, as was custom. When they first bit him, however, he smashed them away with incredible force. His blood ran black instead of red, and his eyes gleamed with a new fire.

When his friends started to stammer out apologies, he raised a paw to silence them.

“I know the way forward,” he said, a twisted smile crossing his lips. “Watch.”

He began to eat everything in their humble camp. He started with carrion meat and bones, licking his lips and smiling. His friends protested about how they were saving those, but fell to silence when they saw the ferocity in his eyes. Then, without warning, his paw plunged into his chest, pulling out a piece of his own stone-like heart. He tossed it to their feet and the wound closed without fuss, no trace of pain crossing Hyrn’s face.

“Eat, and join me, brothers. I now see the way.”

They both stared at him in awe for a few seconds before hungrily eating the heart. As they did, their bodies grew tougher, their blood curdling. They had unknowingly joined Hyrn in his pact with something more sinister than even Ankha herself. It played on their fears, twisting and bending them to its own will. In doing so, it gave them new power, new life. The Blackblood clan has been small but mighty ever since, with few gnolls willing to make the same choice as Hyrn and his followers.

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