Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: Scarlet Mountain|
It was later summer and we were headed east, far to the east. We weren’t going north into the plains, we were headed all the way to Red Pass and possibly Scarlet mountain. They were having a lot of orcs raiding out of the mountain and the rangers in the Red Pass had sent word. There were eight of us going but Aveline and I weren’t going to stay.
Scarlet mountain had once been a dwarf city that had fallen. The two month trip had us encountering orcs many times but with eight of us they died quickly each time. The closer we came to Red Pass the more frequently we fought orcs. None of the outlying farms or settlements had people living in them.
People stared when we walked through the snowy fields closest to the fortress blocking the northern pass. The few rangers looked tired and worn as we stopped. We sat and listened as they talked and I looked at Aveline. She smiled, “we are going into the Scarlet mountain.”
The others looked at us as I nodded, “someone is sending them out and I would bet they are coming all the way through the mountain from the north plains.”
The other rangers looked at each other and I grinned, “perhaps a few ambushes on those leaving the mountain would help.”
They laughed and began talking as I sat thinking. I could feel the pull on another elf stone, this one blue so it was the Elf’s Mind. It was a couple of hours later and we were eating when a dozen dwarves came in. They looked around before crossing to Aveline and I. We were eating alone in a semi dark corner and I glanced at the dwarves as they walked up.
One cleared his throat, “you are going into the mountain?”
I nodded and he gestured, “we will go with you.”
I looked at Aveline and she smiled and nodded, “perhaps you would know how to seal the northern door.”
The dwarf nodded, “aye, all of them.”
I looked at the others, “you take orders from us. No going off on your own.”
They looked at each other before accepting and I nodded, “return here at first light.”
After they left I looked at Aveline, “think we could use them to pick off the orcs and reduce the numbers to something manageable?”
She grinned, “yeah.”
We left our bows in the ranger armory that night and were waiting with light packs in the morning. We met the dwarves outside at the hint of dawn. They were carrying twin axes in their belts with what looked like small repeating crossbows. Scarlet mountain was a week away and I started off by walking into the brush.
We heard orcs and several groups went past but none came close. When Scarlet mountain began to loom over us one of the dwarves led us away from the main doors. We climbed a ridge and then walked out on a narrow ledge. It went around a corner with a sheer drop and then we were walking into a sheltered area like a porch.
I didn’t see the door until one touched the stone wall and drew a rune. A stone door appeared and I pulled my short swords and nodded for him to open it. The room beyond was empty and I waited as the door was closed and sealed. I let one of the dwarves lead and I followed as another held a small black chemical lantern.
We were going all the way to the north door using side passages. The first group of orcs came an hour after we entered. We heard them before we reached the room they were in. A glance showed a dozen and I nodded before we moved suddenly. I threw a spike that struck an orc in the throat.
Aveline was following me and threw another spike and then it was the dwarves with crossbows. Six filled the door and knelt as the other six stood behind them. By the time I had thrown the second spike all the orcs were down and dying. I pulled a long knife as I walked into the room and made sure the orcs were dead.
I pulled them into another dark room and we left after cleaning our weapons. We killed a dozen groups before the dwarves led us up a level and into a room. We ate dried rations and I slept with Aveline leaning against me. Our first ambush came the next morning. We were moving through a wide hallway when Aveline touched my shoulder, “someone comes this way.”
I stopped and the dwarves looked around. I pointed to four wide doorways on each side of the hall. We split up and hid in the rooms and waited. There had to be at least fifty orcs in the group and I waited until the leader was between two doorways. I threw a spike and then another and another. Aveline was throwing spikes and the dwarves were firing their crossbows.
After the third spike I pulled my short swords and stepped out only to look around as the last ones fell. I moved through them and made sure they were all dead. We removed bolts and spikes and pulled them into a room before continuing. By the time we were ready to stop and rest we had ambushed two more large groups and another four in rooms.
If we had fought all of the orcs together we would be dead but this way we had a chance. The next morning started with an ambush and then we were peeking down into the huge entrance room for the north door. There were easily a couple of hundred orcs moving around. I watched how they moved and whispered to Aveline, “watch the south corners.”
She nodded and several minutes later grinned, “we could take them as they go to the bathroom.”
I nodded, “as long as we do it quick and quiet.”
I pointed to one orc in the center of the room, “look at that one.”
She hissed, “it is wearing star silver armor and carrying an elven sword.”
I glanced at the dwarves before gesturing as I moved back. Six went with Aveline to the west and six went with me to the east. There was a dark hallway beside where the orc were relieving themselves. I waited for one and moved out and behind it. I used my dagger and stabbed up into the back of the neck.
It dropped and I bent to grab it and pull it after me and into the dark hallway. I watched as a dwarf followed another orc a couple of minutes later and he brought an axe down on its head. When he pulled it into the dark hallway he made sure it was dead before stacking it with the first. Six hours later a large party of orcs came in the door.
Half of those in the hall went with them when they left. It was another couple of hours before I touched a dwarf, “I think we can take them now.”
He moved out and across to the far corner as we stalked closer to the orcs. We stopped behind three pillars to wait for Aveline and the other dwarves. Once they we even with us I pulled a couple of spikes and turned to move out from behind the pillar. My first spike caught an orc only a few paces away.
The dwarves began firing and I threw another spike. The orc wearing the armor rushed towards the dwarves and I pulled my short swords as I stepped into the pattern and moved to intercept it. I slid his sword aside when he swung and turned as my right sword stabbed past his face. He shifted and pulled his sword back to swing again.
I slid in as I pulled the sword back and cut his throat. He jerked and swung as I moved to the side and brought my left sword over his arm and through his mouth. I yanked it back as he fell and moved towards the few orcs screaming on the floor. The dwarves ran to the huge doors and two began moving centuries of dirt that kept the doors from closing.
I stripped the orc with the armor and took the sword. Aveline and I stood watch as slowly the doors were closed. The boom echoed loudly and then one dwarf did something and the doors vanished and it looked like a stone wall stood in its place. We moved to the dark east hallway and used the strange black chemical lantern.
We went to each and every door out of the north side of the mountain and the dwarves sealed it. As we moved back to the south we followed the main halls closely. We ambushed several small parties of orcs and always pulled the bodies into dark places. The pull of the elf stone seemed to tug at me the closer we came to the center hall.
When we first looked out and into it we saw hundreds of orcs in make shift camps. What drew my eye was the huge pile of treasure behind the throne and the dozen orcs in star silver armor. I glanced at Aveline, “we work around the edges. A day or two and then we need to slip out to resupply.”
She nodded and we headed down to the hall level. We used the shadows like at the north entrance hall and caught those that moved away from the others. The first orc in chain armor was later and I came out of the dark shadows to follow. I didn’t bother with knives as I came closer and reached out to twist and snap its neck.
I pulled it into the darkness and stripped it of the star silver armor and sword. An hour later the orcs around the throne began yelling and the others stirred and broke into groups. They started to head for the side hallways and tunnels and we moved to the side as one came our way. There were the eleven armored orcs remaining, I grinned at the dwarves as I whispered a plan.
We moved closer and Aveline and I slipped around to approach from behind them. Once we were in position the dwarves suddenly fired and bolts streaked out and into the face of each orc. We moved forward quickly as they went down and made sure they were dead before we stripped them.
I turned when we were done and moved towards the treasure. The pull of the elf stone was strong and I followed it to a thick stone chest. I struggled to open it and shift the gold coins and gems before seeing the large round multi faceted sapphire. I glanced at Aveline and the others as they moved the bodies and reached for the stone.
When my hand touched it was like my mind expanded and shrank. Tearing, stabbing pain that felt like my head was being ripped open tore at me. I blinked when the pain suddenly stopped and found myself kneeling. I tucked the stone into my shirt before filled a pouch with gold. I returned to the others and gestured back to the shadows.
We climbed using an almost hidden set of stairs before heading south. It was another day before we slipped out into a clear night. A week later we walked into Red Pass fortress. Some of the others were there and grinned when they saw us. After hot baths and a hot meal we talked to the others and the ambushes had taken a serious toll on the orcs.
I made arrangements for supplies and we went to bed early. It was snowing the next morning as we packed rations and left. The whole week it took us to return to the mountain it snowed. Once we sealed the door behind us we started moving to others and sealing them. The last was the south entrance hall.
There was easily three hundred in the hall when we began taking those that moved away. A day and those left were jumping at shadows since over half their numbers had vanished. They finally rushed out the doors and into the snowy night. We moved quickly to scrape and shovel the dirt away from the doors as we began to close them.
It was thirty minutes before the doors banged close. The one dwarf caressed them and they shifted until they looked like just another stone wall. We moved towards what had once been the throne room and ambushed a few groups of orcs. The closer we came the more I could feel something waiting.
When we reached it, there was maybe fifty orcs in the huge hall. What drew my attention was a huge dark shadow that seemed to move around the hall. We waited like before and started to take those that moved into the darkness. Half were left when the dark shadow struck. A dwarf killed an orc with a blow from an axe and the hall shook with a huge roar.
I drew Reaper and moved to stand between the dwarf and the shadow. I slashed as it struck and the blade seemed to hit something. There was a scream of rage and pain as I slid into darkness and lunged. I felt the shock of the sword hitting something and pulled back and slashed out. There was another scream and a huge figure appeared in front of me as I moved to the side.
A dark blade crashed down where I had been and I snapped Reaper down where the arm was. I felt the shock of hitting something as the dark blade started to rise and then it fell and I stepped and sliced across. Thousands of wiggling snake like maggots splashed out and onto the floor. I kept moving as the huge shadow monster staggered back with a roar of pain.
I lunged and stabbed up into the chest before spinning and dropping to a crouch as something half seen flashed over where my head had been. I cut out and across as I came to my feet and then brought the sword back and down. There were two shocks like I had hit something and suddenly the shadow monster was falling.
It shattered when it hit the floor and a huge mass of wiggling snakes took its place. Aveline was suddenly there throwing lantern oil and tossing a match. The floor wooshed and exploded in flame and there was a scream as the snakes were burned. I stepped back and looked for the orcs only to see them dead with bolts in them.
I used the sword blade to sweep any snakes or whatever they were into the flames. I glanced at the dwarves and they grinned as they moved forward to make sure the orcs were dead. We left the hall as soon as the fire died and returned to the south. When we returned to Red Pass the dwarves were already planing their return to the mountain.
We stayed another few weeks patrolling the south end of the pass. We left before the snow began to melt and headed back to Blue Pass and home.
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