orcs

Monday Means Good Luck

Thirty-four years ago…

He was going to kill them. Pouring rain blinded his one good eye, and his knuckles bled from each time he’d caught himself from sliding down the rocky slopes of the god-forsaken wasteland. By Bema, as soon as he survived the oncoming night and got back, he would string each and every one of them up over the span of the bridge.

Traitorous bastards. He had seen it coming, of course. Five month before, when he had allowed the six brigands to join his band, he knew. They pulled their weight and abided by the laws, but it was the subtle things that had set them apart and put a target on Ildric’s back. How many of his own men had followed their lead? He did not doubt that no small number of them resented him for one thing or another, and hearing of his supposed death Ildric could assume that many of them would follow the brigands simply because they were stronger.

By now the night had turned black, and only the occasional lightning strike gave him light to see where he was going. There was no shelter, and he knew there were no homesteads or villages within fifty miles. He knew which way was south, though, so he drug himself up to the top of a hill to avoid the inevitable flooding, and moved forward.

Any concept of time was lost as the storm continued to rage on around him. Ildric’s head throbbed with a terrible pain, and it was only the prospect of vengeance that kept him warm. They will hang. They will hang, served as the beating drums that kept his feet moving. More time passed, and he shook his head as the rhythm came to life, growing louder with each heavy step. He stopped… and the beat continued to sound. And it turned into two sets of drums, then three, then seven. A flash of lightening illuminated the hill he stood on, and the seven orcs that had stopped mere yards away.

“Look at this, lads! We go’ ourselves supper!”

Never pray to Bema. Got it. Ildric pulled out his boot knife, and waited.

“‘e’s as big as us!” growled an exceptionally gnarly beast who had began to flank him. “Maybe we can pit ‘im against some of the others fer sport before we divy ‘im up.”

A chorus of snarls and guttural laughs sounded around him in agreement. One of the shorter orcs who appeared to be in charge paced closer to Ildric. “What do you have to say to that, human?”

Lightning flashed, and Ildric spat at the creature. “What are you waiting for? Talk is worthless!” He flipped the knife in his hand and lept forward to strike at the orc who had left himself wide open.

Another light flashed, but came from behind him, and it wasn’t lightening. It was fire. The light blinded the orc he rushed, giving him the second he needed to send the screeching beast’s body rolling down the hill. More explosions of light, and screaming orcs. Holding up a hand to shield his good eye from the wind and rain, Ildric looked back in time to see the flare of a long cloak, and a blazing sword disappear into the last orc.

What the —

“Are you all right?”

A female? “Yeah. I’m all right. Where the hell did you come from?”

A horse appeared by the hooded figure; a trick Ildric decided instantly that he should master. “The North.”

“Where are you going?”

“To Tharbad.”

Ildric grunted. “Bloody coincidence.”

The figure hopped up onto her horse, and Ildric caught sight of pointed ears as she adjusted her hood. “Need a ride?”

Not bothering to answer, Ildric grasped the hand she offered to him, and swung up to sit behind her. He’d have to apologize to Bema after this.

“What’s your name?”

“For now, just Ravi will do.” She wheeled her horse around, and the animal moved into a sure-footed canter. “Yours?”

“For now, Vrax will do.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday…

“Do you understand me, boy?”

The lad could not summon enough courage to look up at the towering man. He just stared down at the first of six long nooses that hung over the ruined bridge that spanned the Greyflood. He nodded.

Ildric lifted a hand, and his lieutenant waiting on the southern platform began to approach. “You will be taken to be branded, to remind you of your crime and what will happen if you commit another offense. Do you understand me?” he asked again.

The lad swallowed hard, and finally looked up at him. “Yes, sir. I understand.” He then dipped his head to follow after the lieutenant.

“Vrax!”

Ildric sighed, and rolled his eyes. He should never have let the man become his bloody secretary. “What, Reed?”

“The party from the west came in. You got a letter from the witch.”

Ildric’s brows rose, and he pivoted to face the man. “Oh? Well, where is it.”

Reed blinked and looked about as sheepish as a sixty year old man could. “Ehh… I-It’s um… in y-your tent, sir.”

Strong hands clasped behind his back, Ildric gave the man an annoyed look. “Idiot. Ran out here empty handed? You’re getting too old.”

“Don’t need to tell me that,” Reed huffed, scratching at the back of his greying head of hair. A rumble of thunder sounded in the distance. “Damn. Looks like there’ll be rain.”

Ildric’s lips curled in a smirk as he gazed past the ruined tops of buildings. “Nah. You know better than that, Reed. Remember? A storm on Monday means good luck.”

Bittersweet: Waiting

The energy in the hills around them had shifted. The breeze smelled sweeter, the birds had returned, and the woods had emptied of their unwelcome guests. It was quiet. Almost too quiet.

Having climbed up one side of the manor of Ravenhold, Eruviel sat on the roof, perched atop the the high peak over the front gable. She felt like a gargoyle, quietly considering the darkness that proved a better shroud than the black cloak on her back. Where had they gone? What had they wanted? Most of all, had they gotten that looming, mysterious ‘it‘?” Of all the other thoughts that filled her mind, those were the most prominent.

She’d never seen Orcs that well outfitted. They had been exceptionally organized, and well fed. She didn’t care about her already healing scrapes, but if one of the villagers or people she loved had been harmed . . . But they hadn’t. None of them had.

Futility. The first word that came to mind when she thought over the whole situation. Knowing all that she did, Eruviel was still not satisfied. It all seemed pointless. The smallest thought that it had all been a joke made her blood boil. There were too many unanswered questions; too many holes that made her wonder what was beneath it all. What was it they wanted?

The sound of a soft thud reached her ears. Turning her head, she looked behind her to the far side of the building. Kids. The estate was overflowing with towns people, and she imagined there were more than a few who wished to sneak off. Letting out a sigh she turned back to her watch, and the view. If another on patrol found the escapee, so be it, but she knew the level of danger in Durrow had, for the moment, returned to normal.

Just a few more days, and the gates would be opened. A few more days and she would have the freedom to leave. A few days would not wash away all the tracks of such a large force of Orcs. She hated being in a cage, but a gilded one with room to stretch her legs made her wonder how easily it might have been to break down the bars. But there was nothing to do now but get by till the Freemasons dug them out. It would do little good, sitting and stewing, if further action required a clear head.

Swinging her legs over the side, Eruviel leaned back to recline on the tiled slope to watch the stars disappear and wait for the sun to rise. The spring festival was likely to be used to encourage life to return to normal. It would be nice to have a few days of not constantly being on high alert. Yes, she could wait a few more days . . . .

Fallowmath: Sneaking Out

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Eruviel paused in a shadow near The Pony. “Hal.”

“What?” he asked, stopping on the steps.

“I can’t walk in the main room looking like this,” she said, motioning to her dirt and black-bloodied self. “I’m going through the back.”

Hallem gave her a guilty look. “Are you all right? For sure?”

Her mouth set in a firm line, she nodded. “I will be. I’ll see you inside.”

Giving her another look, Hallem continued up into the Inn. Turning, Eruviel slipped through the shadows along the side of the building, making her way around to the back door. By the Void, she felt terrible.

Stepping in the back door, a small breath or relief escaped her at seeing the hall vacant. Moving in she hesitated at seeing her reflection in a mirror along the wall. The cut over her jaw from the arrow didn’t look as bad as she’d thought, but she was indeed a sight with dirt and pineneedles in her braid. Orc blood stained her dark shirt and streaked over one side of her face, but the worst was the light bruise that had begun to form on her neck where the Orc had grabbed her.

“I’m going to be in so much trouble,” she murmured with a weary sigh. Poor Hallem. She had been furious when he’d dove for cover under a dead Orc. She supposed it was her own fault. Instead of calling for help, she’d called his name, and it had been dark . . . .

Shuddering, she moved to lean against a wall and wait. The pack she had filled with items from the camp they had passed slipped off her shoulder to the floor, and she pulled out the small note Hallem had found. Keep it up. We’ll starve them out, was scrawled across the small page in Black Speech. Her thumb traced over the name for the Orcs to contact. Ievi.

Fitting the note safely away, Eruviel shoved her hands into her pockets and fixed a hard look down at the black Orc arrows in her quiver. Leave messages for the guilds, inform the authorities, get food, find Rhe — Footsteps down the hall interrupted her list. “Ah, there you are, Hal,” she said, turning her stern gaze up from the floor. She then nods politely to Morty as he followed close behind the young man. “Master Mossfoot.”

“Eruviel? What’s going on?”

Eruviel pushed off from where she leaned. She’d never seen the gravedigger look so serious or strained with worry. “Orcs have us trapped in Durrow. They mean to starve us out. They are part of a group the Wayfarers encountered before . . . led by an Orc . . . His name starts with an ‘S’. Forgive me for not remembering off the top of my head. We are all right, for now.”

Morducai rubs at his face. “Stockard’s bones. What do Orcs want with Durrow?”

Hallem looked between them and responded, “That part-orc, Rheb, ran off. He was mad at Cwen. It could’ve been him.”

“I don’t know who either of those people are,” said the gravedigger, “but all right.”

Eruviel frowned. “What they really want? I’m not sure,” she admitted with a sigh. “I hope to find out more on our way back. My theory is that Rheb is being used by the Orc leader to hurt the people there for revenge . . . or power. Maybe both.” She then nodded to Morty. “Does the name ‘Ievi’ ring a bell?”

Morducai shook his head. “No, sorry. I don’t socialize with a lot of Orcs, either.”

Eruviel managed a small smile. “Probably for the best.”

“But Esthr and Hawk are both fine?” the man quickly asked.

“They’re fine, Morty,” said Hal with a nod. “But we n-need to get food.'”

Eruviel nodded in agreement. “We should get going . . . Can we take anything back for you? Any word or notes?”

Morducai looked to her. “Yes. Please let Esthyr know I know, and I’m doing everything I can to get the Freemason’s Guild down to you.” He then turned his gaze to Hal. “Go talk to the Mayor.”

“What about Kennick? Is he here?”

“Haven’t seen him in a few days, but he was with me when I found the avalanche, so he knows.”

“Anya found the raven, by the way,” said Eruviel as she picked up the pack.

Morty smiled. “Good. I thought she would. I’d say give her a kiss for me, but, well.”

Eruviel chuckled. “I think a sisterly one will have to suffice. I’ll give Hawk a kiss as well.”

“Thank you. I’ll do everything I can from here,” he said before looking back to Hallem. “It’s really good to see you, lad.”

Hallem nodded. “Yeah. You too.” The young man turned a bit towards Eru. “I guess we should go.”

Eruviel took a step towards the door. “We should. Be well, Master Mossfoot, and thank you.”

Morducai nodded. The man was so stressed that he forgot to tip his cap. Giving them one last look he turned and headed down the hall.

Eruviel took a deep breath, and gave Hal the other half of her smile. “Do you want to go see about the Mayor while I get the food?”

“Yeah,” he sighed. “I’ll do it.”

Eruviel nodded. “See you at the West Gate in . . . half an hour?”

Hallem followed behind her as she walked to the door. “Half an hour.”

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(Thank you to Oendir and Hallem for the rp! Dialogue taken from 4/16 in-game role-play and edited for tense and exposition.)