Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Dragon to the Rescue|
Every few days I managed to kill a deer or antelope as we came out of the hills and down onto a lightly wooded plain. We moved through the plain easily following an old trail that gradually widened into a road. Several times we found large farmsteads that had been destroyed but the tracks always led away to the north.
Ellie was silent each time we found the farmsteads. It was a week before we walked around a thick stand of woods and saw the small city, it had high walls and towers. The city was across a wide, deep river rushing through it. We went through the gate and the way led to the left and around towards the stream.
Ruin and wreckage was scattered everywhere and the stench of death was almost over powering. We were almost to a body strewn bridge when three orcs emerged from a building. There was no hesitation, my rifle came up and I shot the first in the chest and then the second. The third turned to run and I put a bullet through the back of its head.
I looked around before reaching back to pull on the horses, “make sure Little One and Charles are in the wagon.”
Ellie went to look in the wagon as we reached the bridge and started across. I could see tall wooden gates on the other side of the bridge with what looked like hundreds of orc bodies. The horses resisted going closer but I kept pulling until they followed. I finally had to stop and pull bodies aside before we could move forward.
I could see men above the gate on each side. When Ellie made a noise I turned to see a half dozen orcs trotting towards us. I knelt and started with the ones behind and worked my way up to the last one as it got close to the wagon. I put a single bullet through each orc’s head and stood when I was done.
I went back to moving bodies and a second later the gate opened and a dozen men came out to help. When it was clear Ellie led the horses through the gate as I fell in behind. One of the men, a tall wide shouldered man walked with me, “I don’t know how you made it through.”
I shrugged, “for the most part they have been ahead of us. These were the first we have seen.”
They closed the gates and he shook his head, “the first we knew they were climbing the outer walls and overrunning the guards. We barely had time to reach this side of the river.”
I glanced around at the few people, “they haven’t tried to reach you very hard.”
He shook his head, “they are to busy with those that didn’t make it.”
I continued to follow the wagon as Ellie led the team through the city. The man shook his head when we stopped in a stable yard by the other gate, “most of the people left out this gate already.”
I went to help Ellie unharness the horses, “let us look around?”
He nodded and I looked at Ellie while working. She smiled and glanced back, “not many orcs are going to attack anywhere but the bridge, they fear water.”
I smiled, “unless they find another way across.”
She nodded and we collected Little One and Charles before heading back to the gate blocking the bridge. From the wall beside the gate we could see into the city as orcs moved around. I finally gave Little One to Ellie and aimed the supper long before squeezing the trigger. There was the crack of the bullet as one of the orcs head exploded.
I nodded and began slowly picking targets. More orcs appeared to see what the noise was but they didn’t seem to connect the sound with them dying or with us. Ellie snorted, “so gorged they can’t think.”
I killed two hundred before I stopped, “I need more ammo.”
Ellie grinned and turned to climb down. She was back thirty minutes later and there was already a hundred orcs across the bridge looking towards us. She helped load magazines from the bullets in the wooden box. It took ten rounds before they began to understand that the sound and the dying orcs were caused by something we were doing.
They slipped away into buildings and the few streets so I was left with nothing to shoot. I reloaded and smiled at Ellie, “Dinner?”
She smiled and rubbed my shoulder, “they will try again tonight.”
I nodded as I moved the box of ammo closer to the wall under the firing port, “I know.”
While I continued to watch she went to make something to eat. The man that had let us in sat and yawned, “That weapon sure makes killing them orcs easier.”
I nodded as I thought about all the farmsteads we had seen on the way here, “There has been a lot of orcs moving around.”
He nodded, “we should have listened to the party of mages that came through last month.”
I looked away from the bridge and at him and he shook his head, “They said the orc breeding cycle had ended.”
I kept looking and he shrugged, “when they stop breeding it is time to expand and they all seem to gather into one great army.”
I gestured towards the bridge, “that isn’t a great army.”
He shook his head, “we heard rumors of something happening to the north.”
I looked at Ellie when she returned, “you know about orc breeding cycles?”
She looked towards the bridge and after several moments nodded, “that would explain a lot.”
She sighed, “the city of Calef is two days away.”
I looked at her as she turned to face the man, “you won’t be safe here.”
Ellie nodded to the box of ammo, “we need to leave while we can.”
I bent to lift the box and the man began calling to people as we went back to our wagon. I was thinking of our trip through the forest and sighed. After putting the ammo away I started harnessing the horses while Ellie packed everything away. People began joining us until the man by the gate pushed through, “this is everyone.”
I shook my head, the city must have had a few thousand people but there was maybe a few hundred here. I bent to pick up Little One and set her on the wagon seat with Charles before moving to lead the horses towards a gate in the outer wall. I glanced back a few minutes later to see Ellie lifting small children and putting them in the wagon.
Several minutes after that she was walking beside me and reached for my hand. I squeezed it as I thought, “we will stop at midnight and continue after the sun rises.”
She nodded, “I put the smaller children in the wagon.”
I smiled, “did you tell Charles and Little One to watch them?”
She laughed and glanced back, “they think they are in heaven.”
I stopped for breaks every hour to let people rest. When I stopped at midnight men and women moved together to lay down. I unharnessed the horses and let them rest as I brushed them before laying with Ellie to watch the night sky. The next day was more of the same except a few men ranged ahead to hunt and scout.
We stopped after dark and built a few fires to cook on before putting them out. Noon of the next day we walked over a low ridge and saw the large city of Calef. There was a high solid looking cliff behind the city with a wide river flowing through it. The outer walls were at least fifty feet tall with many crenels and arrow slits.
There were people working in the fields and they stopped to watch as we passed. At the gates Ellie had me stop while the small children were lifted out of the back. I smiled when we went through the gate to see a second curtain wall inside the first. We went through the second wall and Ellie started leading me through the streets.
We crossed the river on a stone bridge and continued to the south until we reached the sloop leading up to the cliff. She grinned and nodded to a grassy area, “park there.”
After stopping and putting the horses on leads Ellie took my hand and started climbing towards the cliff. When we reached the cliff she grinned and pointed to glyphs carved in a wide arch. I looked and she grinned, “an illusion.”
She touched the cliff under the arch and suddenly a set of tall, wide doors replaced the granite of the cliff. She grinned and pushed on one side, it opened slowly and she led me in, “I had a mage build this when he was still here. Of course I made a large house for him where I was so we are even.”
The hall was very wide and tall and went to a huge room with couches and comfortable chairs around a huge fireplace in the back wall. I grinned and squeezed her hand, “this is big enough to entertain a dragon.”
She laughed and nodded to the doorway on the right, “the kitchen and dinning area.”
She pulled me after her to the left and through another doorway with steps that led up. Above was several floors with large bedrooms, each with a small fireplace and fire as well as a bathing room. We returned to the wagon and started moving everything but stopped to make dinner and eat.
We were sitting together on a couch when there was a knock on the door. Several older men stood looking anxious when I opened the door and gestured them in. I led them back to the fireplace where Ellie was waiting and sat beside her, “you need something?”
One nodded, “I am Henry Dodson. We were told you had a weapon to kill orcs.”
I smiled, “I have a weapon.”
He cleared his throat, “we have several elven scouts that have reports orcs gathering to the north. They say it is a vast army.”
I looked at Ellie, “I can’t kill thousands.”
She bit her lip as I looked at the men, “I will think about your problem.”
After they left we climbed the stairs to a large chamber with a big bed. There were several narrow deep slits in the wall to let in the night air. Somehow Little One and Charles had found their way and were already stretched out across the bed. As I lay holding Ellie I was thinking and knew I couldn’t make enough weapons to stop a whole army.
I had dozens of ideas that I discarded as fast as they came. I was up early and dressed before I left and walked across the city after feeding the horses. The guards looked at me as I went through the inner curtain wall and looked at the wide gap between it and the outer wall. There were three outer gates and two inner.
I climbed steps and looked out at the fields beyond before walking all the way from the river and around to where it met it again. I did the same with the inner curtain wall before walking the streets and then checking the three bridges over the river. I found the marketplace and went looking for what I needed to make more ammunition.
When I returned to the cliff Ellie was outside brushing the horses down. I watched before walking up behind her and putting my arms around her, “I wish I knew how large this army was going to be.”
She leaned back with a sigh, “thousands.”
I looked at her and she turned to touch my face, “this is the end of a major breeding cycle.”
I looked across the river, “they might slow them but...”
I looked at her, “think the city council would listen if I spoke to them?”
She smiled, “they won’t leave.”
I shook my head, “and you want to stay.”
Ellie nodded, “this is where I want to live.”
I sighed and let her go, “then I have my work cut out for me.”
I went back to pick up the bag of supplies I had managed to buy before heading towards the door. I had a few ideas to slow or stop the orcs but needed a few things. It was two weeks before the swarm of orcs appeared and I stood on the outer wall to watch them come. Every fifty paces was a pole with a barrel on top, they were set out a hundred paces from the wall.
The ground was covered out to a few hundred paces with small caltrops and traps. I watched with the guard commander as the orcs spread out but flowed towards us. They slowed when they hit the caltops and then the arrows began to fall. I lifted my rifle and started shooting and killed those that were leading the others.
It was a moment before they fell back but continued to spread out and more were still coming over the far rise. It was less then an hour before they started moving towards us again. I began killing them and once they were in range the arrows began again. They almost reached the barrels before pulling back and still more were flowing over the far rise.
While we waited I reloaded the empty magazines and watched. The next attack had them almost reaching the walls before the guards I had stationed lit the fuses I had made. There was a flash that was almost like an explosion. Less then ten seconds later the barrels exploded and the lamp oil with liquid soap ignited as it spread onto the orcs.
They screamed and fled in panic as those caught by the flames were burned alive. It was hours before they attacked again and I kept firing until they were almost to the wall when they finally pulled back. I looked at the guard commander as I started reloading magazines, “they will breach the wall next time.”
He nodded, “I’m moving the extra supplies back and moving the horses up.”
The horses had been my idea to help the escaping guards flee through the other wall faster. Between the walls were more barrels on tall posts as well as more caltrops to slow the orcs. There were safe lanes the guards had learned to use. The commander turned to bark the order for oil to be spilled between the walls as the orcs started forming and milling around.
I glanced at Ellie as she slipped up beside me, “ready to do your spell?”
She grinned, “as soon as they start climbing the walls.”
It wasn’t long before there was the roar from the orcs as they rushed towards the wall. There was still more flowing over the far rise as I began firing, they almost seemed to hesitate before everything sped up. They reached the wall and I heard Ellie begin to chant as I kept firing. There was a huge boom and lightning exploded along the front of the wall and reached out into the army of orcs.
I spun and grabbed the large shoulder bag before pushing Ellie in front of me. The commander waited as more orcs pressed in and started climbing the wall. I ran down the stairs behind Ellie and watched her almost flow up and onto a horse before leaping into the saddle of my own. I followed as she rode for the inner wall tunnel and gate.
Inside we turned and swung down before running up the stairs. I could hear the horns signaling the soldiers to retreat before we reached the top of the wall. I was hoping they had managed to finish evacuating everyone across the bridge as I stopped between crenels. I dropped the large shoulder bag and started reloading my magazines with Ellie helping.
It wasn’t long before I saw orcs coming over the other wall and began shooting. I went back and forth to cover the soldiers moving back through the gates. Others began firing arrows but slowly more orcs were spilling over the other wall. I grinned at Ellie, “time for our surprise.”
Orcs covered the other wall and seemed to spill out between the walls. This was more carefully planned and Ellie murmured and made a throwing gesture. The wall exploded in flames and raced away in each direction as orcs screamed and were consumed. The fire didn’t spill down between the walls so we were able to kill the milling orcs that had been trapped.
It was awhile before the fire on the wall died and the orcs began climbing over again. We had killed thousands and they were still coming over the far rise as if there were an endless number. We killed them until they reached the inner wall and then fire arrows were shot into the ground to ignite the oil that had been spilled.
Fire spread quickly until the entire area between the walls was in flames. I had been worried the barrel on the tall poles would catch on fire but the retardant on the poles kept the poles from burning. We used arrows to kill the orcs on the outer wall while they waited for the fire to die. When it did the orcs poured down between the walls and rushed the inner wall.
It was awhile before they broke through and the commander gave the order to fire the barrels. Wires ran from the inner walls to the barrels with a fuze and the fuze was lit. Each barrel exploded, sending flames and oil out and onto the orcs. It wasn’t long before the area between the walls was completely in flames again.
I reloaded and looked at Ellie, “go to the bridge.”
Each of the houses on this side of the river had bricked up. They all had planks leading from roof to roof. Two of the three bridges had been collapsed so there was only one way across and it now and it had a thick wall and gate blocking the other side. After Ellie was gone I looked out at the rise and shook my head.
I glanced at the commander when he stepped to my side, “that was the last of the oil.”
He nodded and grinned, “the barrels of whisky are next.”
I nodded but knew even that wasn’t going to stop the orcs. I wasn’t sure how Ellie had gotten so much of the three liquids I needed for my ammo but it wasn’t going to be enough. I fired into the orcs crowded onto the other wall until the flames between the walls started to die. I reloaded again and waited until the orcs roared and rushed off the other wall before firing again.
They were starting to climb this wall when the commander ordered the catapults fired and barrels of whisky started crashing down into the orcs. Soon the area was in flames again and the orcs were fighting to pull back. The commander sighed, “the horses are ready for when they start climbing the wall.”
I nodded as I continued to empty magazines. I stopped and began to reload and started firing again as the fires died. The orcs flowed over the wall and down before rushing us. I kept firing and then looked up at a huge roar. A dragon was high above the city and I watched as he banked and dove towards the area between the walls.
I turned to yell, “don’t fire at the dragon!”
He raced above the level of the walls as a huge jet of flame consumed the orcs below him. He rose and twisted before starting to fly back and breathing flame on the outer wall and then came back beyond them. The men on the wall stared as the orcs fled in panic and I headed for the stairs.
The men guarding the gate hesitated before opening them and I raced out and ran towards the outer wall gates. They were open and burning as I ran through to see the dragon finally turning and flying towards the wall. I walked out and over the orc bodies that littered the ground. He dropped to the ground in front of me and I grinned, “well met dragon, I missed you.”
He grinned as he carefully walked towards me, “it is strange but I have missed your company also.”
I glanced at the running orcs and looked at the dragon, “have you eaten?”
He nodded, “a few deer.”
I smiled and turned to the gates to see guards and Ellie. She pushed past them and started towards me and I turned to the dragon, “will you stay?”
He looked around and seemed to smile, “a few days. I am actually going farther to the west and into the Peak mountains. My mate is finally coming into season.”
I blinked as Ellie joined us, “mate? I didn’t see...”
He lifted his head and breathed out a large smoke ring, “dragon mates do not stay together. We are mated and can speak with each other at any time.”
I nodded and then gestured, “old lizard this is my mate, Ellie.”
She hit my shoulder, “old lizard.”
She bowed, “thank you for helping us with the orcs.”
He sniffed, “helping you? Were the pests bothering you?”
I grinned as she tried to find an answer, “only a tiny bit. How was the trip so far?”
He looked around before reaching down to rip an orc apart and swallowing, “not bad. The plains are always tasty. But the mountains and forest on this side seemed sparse. The ground worms I found were very tasty too.”
I grinned, “I hope you roasted them, I liked them that way.”
The dragon nodded, “roasted is always good.”
I turned towards the gate, “would you like to meet us by the cliff? I don’t think you would fit through the gates.”
He grinned, “I wanted to talk to you about that female baron just beyond my territory.”
I was almost afraid to ask, “what about her?”
He snorted, “she is a brave thing. I ate one cow and she walked into my cave and told me off and demanded I pay the farmer.”
I grinned, “the old one tried to rob me and I had to kill him.”
The dragon started walking and I felling beside him as I grabbed Ellie’s hand, “this female baron was most reasonable. She suggested I visit the village over the pass and ask if they would like the remains of all the heros back.”
He chuckled, “it seems to have worked. I had a runner come to the cave to warn me about a stubborn prince that refused to go away. I paid him a visit as the female baron suggested and spoke to him at length while eating his horse. He was most polite and apologized for disturbing me.”
I laughed with Ellie as we reached the gate. The dragon just hoped and grabbed the wall as he climbed over and met us on the other side. The guards that had come out stood aside and stared as we went by and I cleared my throat, “I should warn you I made new weapons for some dwarfs beyond and to the south of the female Baron.”
The dragon snorted, “I noticed. Loud things that would wake the dead.”
I grinned, “I didn’t think about a silencer until later.”
We went through the other gate while he went over and the commander stood aside with wide eyes as we walked down the street talking. Once across the bridge and through the other gate the dragon snorted as Little One and Charles both appeared in the street ahead. They almost seemed to ignore him as they stood and turned to walk back towards the cliff.
I glanced at Ellie and then the dragon, “have you had anymore things fall through the hole?”
He shook his head, “it has been quiet since you came.”
We climbed to the cliff to the door into our home and I was right the dragon fit. I was almost sorry to see him leave a couple of days later. The orcs had not returned and the city was busy burying all the bodies. Ellie slipped onto my lap that night as I stared into the fire remembering my old life. She caressed my face, “time to change our history.”
I shook myself and smiled at her, “what change would that be?”
She smiled, “children.”
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