Fred had always thought that the stories he had heard as a youth
about orcs had all
been made up. Now he knew that orcs were all too real. He looked up
toward the dragon
chamber's only entrance and waited for the monsters to appear. Weaponless,
rushed for cover behind a fallen column; Astra and Rift likewise hid on the
other side of
the room. It galled him to be in this position, but there was nothing he
could do about it.
And so he watched and waited and he wondered what an orc really looked
And then suddenly the monsters burst into the room like a tidal wave. Fred gasped. The dark creatures were large and brutish. They only stood at a height of five feet but their shoulders were wide and their arms long, reaching almost to their feet. Massive muscles bulged from head to toe and over it all sprouted a matting of coarse, black hair. But what made Fred shudder the most was what jutted from the things' thick, corded necks. There was nothing human about an orc face. Beady red eyes peered from above wide flat nostrils and a gaping mouth filled with sharp, crooked teeth and a pair of yellowed tusks. Fred instinctively reached for his sword and cursed when his hand grabbed nothing but air.
Although the orcs were more animal beasts than intelligent creatures, they did have weapons and armor. But it was just as savage as they were. Spiked and horned caps crowned their heads and steel bands ringed their arms and legs. A few had shirts of chainmail. Their swords were short shafts of thick steel with multiple points, like teeth. These weapons were not made just to kill; they were meant to inflict the greatest amount of pain possible as they ripped through bodies of flesh and bone.
As the horde of monsters streamed into the chamber Fred expected the dwarves to attack. But the dwarves simply stood there, like statues. Arrayed in hauberks of plated steel, their toothy helms every bit as terrible as the blood thirsty faces of their age old enemy, Tarin and his fifty comrades waited for the orcs to come to them. And when the hundreds of hairy, fang toothed beasts leapt up to grapple with them, the dwarves finally raised their wide, heavy axes and Tarin-Gazin lifted his voice in a commanding shout.
"KAI DHER GHAKCHAR! DEATH TO THE ORCS!"
And the carnage began. Dwarf against orc. Axe against sword. The orcs at the head of the onrushing stampede were cut down in a spray of blood and marrow. Like the sea crashing against jagged rocks, the orcs were thrown back. But like the sea, the orcs surged forward again and again. The dwarves had positioned themselves throughout the chamber, each fighting alone. But with their backs protected by chamber walls or fallen rock, not one called out for aid. Each focused their inestimable might on the enemy before them. Each bent their indomitable will toward the slaughter of their ravening and bestial foes. And the orcs were cut down in droves.
But the monsters did not retreat but only bellowed out in hellish rage and pressed on with even greater ferocity. Their dead bodies and dismembered limbs rose up like mountains at the dwarves' feet. Fred gazed at the dwarf nearest him, the one named Dob. He was only three and a half feet tall, shorter than his brothers, but he fought with a fury that Fred could feel. Still, as dead orcs piled at his feet, the dwarf was forced to give way. More and more orcs surged forward, trampling over the hacked bodies of their slain as they fought to overcome the defiant dwarf. And so Dob backed up into the hill of fallen earth and cracked stone behind him and then inched sideways along its length. He was searching for a foothold upon which he could step and rise above his adversaries. But there was no foothold, only a towering mound of crumbling debris. To the left and to the right his battle axe rose and fell, sweeping a wide arc clear of his dark enemy. But never did he stop his slow retreat along the crumbling mound. And the further he inched along, the closer he got to Fred. And when Dob reached the feeble light of Fred's guttering torch, Fred saw that dwarves did indeed sweat.
9/24/1999 4:09:48 PM
The Never Ending Quest Home
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