Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Hunting Worgs|
I glanced at the Elf as we walked out of the fortress and headed into the pass. He was tall like most elves but wore a single white feather braided behind his left ear. He was one of the few elven rangers and my mentor for this trip. Besides my swords and knives I carried a new elven made bow. It was made from a tree that was extremely hard.
They called the wood from it green wood because of the pale green color. I had two dozen yard long arrows in a quiver at my left hip and another fifty bundled together on the side of my pack. I glanced at Gilbert and cleared my throat, “you didn’t say where we were going.”
He smiled as his eyes flickered around, “east along the mountains to Delf.”
I nodded, Delf was a long abandoned elf fortress. The last I had heard the orcs still hadn’t found a way into it. I looked at him, “tell me, why have your people abandoned so many places?”
He snorted, “we breed slowly and our numbers have declined.”
I smiled, “sounds like you need to begin a campaign to have more children.”
He chuckled, “I will let my wife know when I see her next.”
I grinned and then we were quiet as we left the few fields and entered the forest. Crossing creeks we followed the growing stream. We crossed in a shallow spot before continuing north. It took over a month to reach Delf and we found a small army of orcs camped a few leagues away. I was squatting beside Gilbert as we looked off the cliff at the few fires from the orcs.
He shifted when the worg and rider came out of the trees below us. I looked at the huge horse size wolf, the dark brothers had bred them especially for the orcs. I glanced around before slowly standing and turning. I had learned to always carry an arrow nocked. I pulled, aimed and fired as the worg trotted out of the trees behind us.
The arrow struck high in the neck and the animal dropped and spilled the rider who was lifting a horn. It never made it to his lips as another arrow from Gilbert slammed into his throat. I moved forward as I pulled one of the short swords and cut the breast’s throat before doing the same thing to the orc.
I pulled out the arrows while Gilbert kept watch. I smiled, “think they would follow us?”
He snorted as he accepted his arrows, “the problem is to keep them from following.”
I cleaned the arrows as I began to walk, “let see how long it takes them to quit.”
He followed me, “what did you have in mind?”
I laughed softly, “snares and traps.”
He laughed and we looked ahead as we walked and started planning and setting traps. We were ten leagues away when we heard one of the worgs scream. We were almost to a fast moving stream that went up the steep sided valley below Delf. I pulled out a large pouch as Gilbert looked around.
I turned and gestured to him, “walk straight into the water.”
He snorted, “they can still follow.”
He did as I asked though and I began sprinkling a very fine reddish powder back and forth. I held my breath and walked backwards to the stream before closing the pouch. I grinned as I put it away and started walking in the water and heading up stream. Gilbert chuckled, “Demon peppers?”
I nodded, “dried and ground into a fine powder.”
The peppers were so hot only a fool or dwarf would eat them. A single pinch in a large pot of stew would make the whole thing blister the mouth when it was eaten. We knew when the worgs reached the stream behind us. They howled and screamed as they inhaled the powder. It would be days or even a week before they would be able to track us by scent.
The fortress was above us when we came to the huge stone outcropping. It looked natural but one look at the water running through the tunnel and I knew it was made. We walked into the tunnel and I looked around and then up before stopping, “Gilbert?”
He looked at me when he turned and then followed my look, “a drainage tunnel from Delf.”
I nodded and glanced back down the stream and pulled my pack off and around, “think it could get us into the fortress?”
He shifted, “the ways were sealed.”
I looked at him and he grinned, “but this way may be open.”
I pulled the small grapple and light elven made rope out. I glanced up as I put the pack back on and hefted the grapple before throwing. It went up and into the hole and I pulled it back slowly until it caught. I checked it before starting to climb. Once in the hole it was a lot bigger than I thought.
I secured the rope and waited for Gilbert. A few moments and he was beside me and pulling the rope up. I put it away as we heard something coming up the stream. We moved back and waited as worgs and orcs went past and then turned and looked up the tunnel behind us. The left side had narrow stairs while the right had a channel where a trickle of water ran.
Gilbert pulled a small chemical lantern and led the way up. A thousand steps later we stood looking up at a stone grate with a ladder carved into the wall. The grate moved easily and we climbed out into a set of tunnels that spread out. I grinned, “these are the collection tunnels.”
He nodded before leading me down one and then up another ladder. We climbed out of another stone grate and into a stone practice yard. I looked around and frowned at the white stone footsteps in the dark grey stones, creating a pattern, “what is that?”
Gilbert followed my look and smiled, “the steps to learn our martial skills.”
I followed them with my eye until he pulled me after him, “come.”
We climbed to the northern wall and looked out and down into the distance. He touched a large crystal orb and I watched as the area far away and below appeared in it. He moved his finger and we watched as we found where we had killed the worg and rider. He followed our trail and we smiled when we saw the dozen worg bodies our traps had left.
We explored and I blinked when we found the armory and it was still full of elven weapons. The storeroom next door is where we found the arrows. They were in bundles and solid white and I knelt to feel them. I looked at Gilbert, “the shafts almost feel like stone but they are very light.”
He knelt to feel and smiled, “time has changed them.”
The huge dragon kites left in another room is what gave me the idea. We were eating in a high room and looking out a window, “have you ever seen the kite riders from down south?”
He smiled, “yes.”
I looked at him, “those dragon kites are in very good shape.”
Gilbert grinned, “you thinking of becoming a kite rider?”
I grinned back, “it would let us come and go. We could leave as the sun begins to come up and land on those cliff to the west. Hunt worgs and orcs and then use the kites to vanish and return here.”
He looked thoughtful before nodding, “hunting worgs sounds good.”
That afternoon we set up two of the kites on one of the southern walls. There was a breeze that kept trying to lift the kite. I watched as Gilbert fashioned a harness and showed me what to do. The first time I slowly lifted the front, the kite began to rise and lifted me as I tried to balance. Slowly I shifted my feet back and onto the rear brace.
I floated above the wall for several minutes before putting my feet down and landing, Gilbert grinned as I laughed. I watched him lift and a moment later he tilted the wings and slipped over the wall. I gasped but a moment later he rose up and began to circle before coming back and landing.
For an hour we tested the kites and learned before collapsing them. When we walked through the practice yard I saw the footprints again as they seemed to glow and a ghost began moving as if in a dance. Gilbert watched with me, “that is the practice spell to teach beginners.”
I smiled as I watched the graceful shade glide over the steps and moved to the first ones. To say I was awkward and clumsy would be polite but the ghost returned each time to guide me when I started over. When I slept that night the steps and martial dance almost glowed behind my eyes.
We were up early and left our packs. Gilbert returned with two large quivers of the white arrows. We lifted from the wall just as the hint of the sun appeared. I followed Gilbert and he followed ridges where he said warm air would keep us flying. It was cool but I loved the feel of flying from the first moment I took off.
It would have taken us at least a half day if not longer to reach the cliffs, we made it in an hour. We spiraled down and landed beside each other. After collapsing the kites we strung our bows and headed around and down into the forest below. It was several hours before I saw the worg moving through the trees.
I aimed and put an arrow through the side of its head. Gilbert killed the orc riding it and then gesture, “skin it.”
I looked at him before nodding and moving to the dying animal. I skinned it and rolled up the hide and thought before taking a canine tooth and carrying it back. We moved into another position and waited and it wasn’t long before another worg came as it followed the scent of the first.
Gilbert killed it and I killed the orc and then stood watch as Gilbert went to skin the worg. We killed twenty before Gilbert headed towards me, “time to go.”
I had heard the distant howls and nodded as I lifted the hide. We moved up to the cliff before opening the kites and letting the air lift us. I followed him again as he used the ridges to fly into the mountains. The kites were a little sluggish and took a little more work but we landing on the fortress wall safely.
We began cleaning the hides as we ate rations and then I went to the practice area. I followed the steps with the ghostly image leading me. It was very dark when I stopped and stretched. I felt strangely refreshed as I returned to the room.
Gilbert only smiled as he sat looking out the window, “soon the summer storms will come and we will not be able to use the kites.”
I nodded as I went back to cleaning and stretching the hide, “the orcs won’t move around much during the first few.”
He laughed, “no.”
We looked at each other and then grinned. I spoke my thought out loud, “if it is at night we could enter their camp and attack the large central tent with their leader.”
He nodded, “it has a door at each end.”
We planned what to do as I worked on the hide. When I slept that night I dreamed of the ghostly image as I moved through the steps but this time I held two curved long knives. We were up early and packed more of the arrows before putting the kites together. This time we went further to the east and landed on a cliff before moving down to set up another ambush.
It was a week and we had killed over a hundred worgs and another hundred orcs. We were to the west this time and something just felt different. We had already killed a dozen beasts and orcs when Gilbert straightened, “more come.”
I glanced around as I got ready and then the hoard of worgs came rushing through the trees. I pulled and fired and reached for another arrow. When I ran out I tossed my bow and reached over my shoulder for my sword. I pulled it and slipped to the side as I swung and took the throat out of the worg as it leaped.
Now it was a dance as I plunged the sword through an orc’s belly and ripped it out. I sliced and turned and shifted while cutting and then spinning to stab. I heard Gilbert yell to run but there was no way I could get free. Then the huge black worg leaped over several bodies. A very large orc rode it and the sword it carried shone bluish silver.
There was also a bright sparkling bluish gleam from its chest. I slid aside as I spun and sliced up and around through the beast’s throat. I brought the blade around and then down behind the ear of another worg lunging in as I yelled, “REAPER!”
There was a surging thrill that went through me as the sword cleaved the head from the body. I continued to turn and bring the sword around. The large orc had slipped off his dying worg and leaping towards me with the sword raised. I took the arm and then turned to move the other way as I brought the sword back to take the shocked orc’s head.
I shifted aside and brought the sword down on another orc rushing me. It cleaved through the neck and shoulder and came out the hip as the orc was split. I looked around at the carnage as the orcs fled. I knelt and wiped my sword clean before putting it away. I looked at the dead orc that had carried the star silver sword.
I knelt and pulled a knife to cut the crude belt. I took the sheath and hesitated when I saw the two curved long knives. The hilts was a pale blue stone and carved. It was curved down while the blade was curved up towards the spine like my swords. I took them both and tucked them in my belt.
I looked at the huge fist sized blueish diamond like stone on its chest and broke the chains and put it in my shirt. I grabbed his fallen sword and slipped it into the sheath before finding my bow and the worg hide. I trotted towards the cliff where we had left the kites. Gilbert’s was gone so I knew he had made it out.
I put mine together and tucked the extra sword in my belt before balancing on the cliff until the air lifted me. I used it to go higher and turned to head into the mountains and headed back to Delf. He was still on the wall looking out as I slowed and landed. He looked at me for several moments before shaking his head, “I thought you gone.”
I grinned as I began collapsing the kite, “just a small brawl.”
He laughed as he turned to his kite. Back in the room we were using I showed him the stone and he hissed, “that is the Farintine Heart.”
He looked at me and sighed, “long ago. Before the first millennium my people used a mountain to make a home like the dwarves do now. In the very center we found the heart. The Farintine Heart, and one of our brothers took it. The mountain shook and cracked and many died as we fled. Since that day we have lived above ground.”
I looked at the stone and tossed it, “you and your people should have it.”
He caught it and looked at it carefully before nodding and tucking it away. I set the sword I had taken from the orc on the table and then began examining the knives. He chuckled, “the sword was one given to a king long, long ago. Those knives were made by an elven swordsmith for a human in the third Millennium. The human found a rare blue jade and carved the hilts.”
I looked at them and smiled as I removed the straight long knives on my thighs and replaced them. I went out to the practice area and started following the footprints. This time I held the knives as I moved through the pattern. By the time I finished the second time it almost felt as if I were moving inside the ghostly image.
I started working on the new hide and glanced out at the dark clouds. I looked at Gilbert as he stared out the window, “it looks like a storm coming in.”
He nodded and then turned and smiled, “they will not expect us tonight.”
I shook my head and rolled up the hide, “we can’t use the kites.”
He shook his head, “and we can not use the other way in.”
He stood, “we will use a rope and climb down the southern wall.”
The crash of thunder was enough warning and we left the bows and headed for the wall with a rope. We tied it to a crenel before climbing down. As it began to rain we started down the stream and then moved to one side as it rose. It wasn’t long before it was pouring and dark. I let Gilbert lead and followed close just to keep him in sight.
The rain didn’t stop or slacken as it poured down. It was hours before we reached the edge of the large camp. The worgs on the outer edge didn’t even move as we walked in. In each shelter we passed, groups of orcs were huddled together. When we reached the large tent Gilbert looked at me, “see you in the center.”
I nodded as I pulled Reaper and turned to head to the other end of the tent. I didn’t even slow as I walked in and slashed across to kill an orc. I chopped down and the other way as I moved and almost took another’s head. I stabbed into one’s gut and twisted and yanked as I slashed the other way to cut through two orcs bellies.
They were screaming and more screams were coming from the other end of the tent. I spun and slashed down and brought the sword back to take the arm and head of a dark brother. Between heart beats I stepped into the image from the practice area. I slipped the sword into another orc and slid aside as I turned to slice open two more orcs trying to get around me.
I spun back as I stepped and brought the sword down to cut a dark brother from shoulder to hip. I moved back and forth in a dance that had blood spraying the inside walls of the tent. The big orc came out of the crowd with a huge long sword, it was as long as I was tall. I was spinning as it raised the sword and lashed out to take the arm.
I turned to step in as I flipped my sword and shoved the blade through its throat. The huge sword landed point first in the ground and my left hand caught it. I slashed the other way and cut the throat of another dark brother as I brought huge but strangely light sword up and around. I cut an orc in half as I continued to step in the dance and kill those around me.
I extending the huge sword to impale a dark brother facing Gilbert. I sliced to the side and cut the throat of the last orc standing. I looked around as I straightened, “well that was fun.”
Gilbert laughed, “you are crazy.”
I walked to the side where the large chair of human bones stood. Beside it was an open chest full of gold coins and dazzling jewelry. There was a star silver crown sitting on top. I frowned before kneeling and grabbing a rag. I scooped the gold and jewelry into the rag before closing it and wrapping a string around it.
Gilbert snorted, “leave the treasure and lets go.”
I stood and tied the large rag pouch onto my belt, “actually I was taking the wandering king’s crown.”
I grabbed the huge sheath and wiped my sword and then the large one before putting both away. I looked at the dark brothers before going to each to take the throwing spikes in multi sheaths on their chests. I stood and headed for the far door, “we can wash on the way back.”
Gilbert chuckled, “unless we drown.”
It took longer to return and find the rope we had left. The sun was coming up as we climbed the wall and slipped over. The rain lessened as we coiled the rope and returned to the room we were using. We stripped and twisted our clothes to get most of the water out. After that we were drying weapons.
We leaned sheaths against the wall to get the water out and to let them dry. I had to dry my chain and dragon scale shirt and finally I opened the rag and looked at the star silver crown. Gilbert looked from across the table while trying to dry a long knife, “I think you were right. Star silver crown with Emeralds.”
I nodded and shook my head, “well we know why he never returned now.”
I looked at the huge sword and Gilbert grinned, “that is the largest sword my people ever made. It was for a noble that stood almost eight feet tall.”
I grinned, “and still very light.”
He nodded, “they must have found his tomb.”
I set it down and reached for the spikes, “these were interesting.”
He sighed, “my cousins sometimes use poison so be careful.”
I used candle flame to burn any poison off and cleaned and oiled the iron spikes. It looked like they had started with an iron rod and then hammered and stretched each end into an elongated diamond. Each of the end sides were sharpened all the way to the tip. When I finished I started back on the worg hide, “think they will keep looking for us?”
Gilbert chuckled, “we will see.”
It rained for three days before stopping and we took flight and saw the camp abandoned and returned. We used a make shift sled and left that day. I followed Gilbert through the mountains using an ancient trail. When we walked into the fortress in Blue Pass people stared at the rolled up worg hides.
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