The Never Ending Quest - Episode 4397

Fred had initially feared that the tunnel by which they had entered might be caving in. He was reassured that the dwarves, who knew much more about caves and tunnels than any man did, did not seem to think that was likely. The rumbling died away again. Shortly afterwards Sarn and Bern returned. "Orcs, lots of them!" one of them said. "There's a big hole in the floor of the main passage where their diggings have intercepted it. We must have heard the floor collapsing into the hole. The orcs are pouring out of it now and heading this way." Fred remembered that it was said that orcs could track dwarves using their sense of smell. Perhaps it was more than coincidence that the orcs should have appeared now. Tarin smiled grimly. "The ancient enemy of our people. What bad luck - for the orcs. Ready yourselves for battle, my friends."

Astra murmured to Fred, for he guessed about the tenth time since they had first met: "I wish I had a weapon." "There's no chance of Tarin letting us have battle-axes, I fear, even if there were any spare. In any case, I doubt that much will get past the dwarves." Fred affected a confidence that he did not altogether feel. Whilst he had a very high regard for the dwarves' fighting prowess, he feared they might be beaten by sheer weight of numbers. He knew that if the orcs won, any surviving dwarves would be massacred. The fate of the humans was less certain, but was unlikely to be pleasant.

"At least Rift looks frightened," Astra said, clearly happy at that fact. Indeed, the lawyer was very frightened. He had never been caught in a situation like this before. He wondered whether he dare get out the Crystallic whilst the dwarves' attention was elsewhere, and try to transport himself and Astra away.

  1. The first orcs reach the lair, and battle commences.

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JH (who, at first not sure what the rumbling was, was given inspiration by recalling a certain episode set in a parallel world)

9/23/1999 5:16:51 AM

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