Some where in the Eastern Warkore Mountains, a campfire snaps and sparks. Huddled around the small fire are five Orc. They are a ragged and scared lot. Sent out on patrol duty to make sure none of those pesky and dirty dwarves had tried escaping their holes, the five warriors set about eating dinner consisting of trail rations and a few choice carrion they found on their patrol.
“This stupid,” complains Auk, a large smelly specimen on the species with matted hair and a broken tusk. “Why we sent out chasing our tails in these hills while all others are fighting and getting all the glory for themselves. It isn’t right.” Having used up all his thinking power and limited vocabulary in one shot, Auk leaned up against a large boulder and expelled a loud snort.
“No dwarves here. I say we leave,” piped in a smaller orc by the name of Tark. He was usually called Rat Tark because of his smaller size and small beady eyes. Normally a small orc like Tark would have been prey to bigger orcs, but Tark had proven he was a quick one with his knives. Bandoleers and sheathes of various sizes were found all over his wiry frame. All with in easy reach should the need arise.
One-eyed Snag’s only comment was a loud wet belch. Snag was the oldest orc of the group, with a ring of wiry grey hair circling his head. His weapon of choice was a large spiked club that was almost black with age and dried blood.
Pook tossed what looked to be the thigh bone from a deer at Auk. “Shut up stupid. We sent here by the General, and here we stay.” Pook actually agreed with Auk, but the two had been rivals for as long as any orc could remember, so he always disagreed with the other soldier at every opportunity.
Pook’s aim was true and he hit auk square between the eyes. With a roar of outrage; Auk surged to his feet. “Why I aught to...,”
“Aught to do what? You couldn’t hit the broadside of a Hippotaun.” Pook sneered.
Auk turned as red as an orc could under his grey skin and reached for his many notched battle axe. His whole six and a half foot frame shook with his anger.
“Sit down Auk,” came a quiet raspy voice from the shadow of a boulder on the edge of the fire light.
“But, but....he...” Auk words ran over themselves in his anger and spit flew from his lips.
“I said sit down.”
Auk glowered at the dark shape of the speaker and snorted his defiance at him.
Slowly the shadowed form rose up to his seven foot height and turned with slow deliberation toward the fire and the assembled orcs. Yargosh was the leader of the group and a veteran orc from many engagements against dwarves. He was huge and his massively muscled frame was covered in scars. A long, ugly jagged scar crossed his throat. He received it in a fight against another orc. It nearly killed him, and damaged his voice box so that his voice always came out in a scratchy rasp.
Yargosh coldly stared at Auk in silence. Auk, for his credit stared back, but soon became nervous as his commander continued to stare at him. The other orcs around the campfire sifted nervously and looked anywhere but at Yargosh or Auk. The pop of a log settling in the fire and a dislodged pebble from the nervous audience was all that broke the silence.
Auk swallowed hard and drummed up his courage. After all, he thought, he was armed and Yargosh was not. The commander had left his greatsword on the ground on the far side of the boulder he ha been leaning against. Auk felt he could throw the axe to embed into the larger orcs chest before he even blinked.
The argumentative orc sneered as he spoke, “I think we should pack up and rejoin the main force. There is nothing in these blasted mountains. The cowardly dwarves are hiding in their holes.”
“There is your problem Auk.” Yargosh replied in a slow drawl. “You are not here to think.”
Auk hurled his battle axe at the soft spoken orc at that insult. The deadly axe spun over and over as it flew through the air toward its mark. Yargosh merely seemingly plucked the axe out of the air before it reached his chest. Auk’s smirk faded as he watched the larger orc take a firm grip f the oaken handle with both hands. The muscles in the commander’s arms and next swelled and flexed with the strain. With a loud crack like a lightning strike, the haft of the axe split.
All the orcs around the fire stared stunned at their leader’s show of strength. Auk turned a sickly shade of pale grey as Yargosh tossed the pieces of the broken axe over his shoulder as he strode around the fire to Auk.
The smaller orc visibly trembled as he watched Yargosh approach. He swallowed convulsively, trying to dislodge the lump of fear in the back of his throat. The commander reached out and picked up the soldier with one hand about his throat and lifted him off the ground. Yargosh held him there, at eye level, with ease while Auk kicked out with his legs and scratched Yargosh’s hand and arm with his nails; all to no avail.
A snap of a twig broke the silence of the awful spectacle and turned all eyes to the figure of the new arrival. Another orc approached out of the gloom. This one’s face and figure was covered in a cloak of patterned grey, browns, and greens. As the new arrival approached, Yargosh tossed Auk down where he was sitting to lay gasping for breath.
“Vashic, you have returned. Report,” he commanded.
The scout gave no indication that he had heard his commander. He proceeded around the fire to where the skins of ale sat. Crouching down, Vashic reached and picked up a full skin. Uncorking it, he titled his head back and drained the skin into his mouth.
“Well.... I don’t like to be kept waiting scout. Did you see any signs of dwarves in these mountains?”
The scout wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before replying. “Aye.”
“How many and where?” This from Tark, who sat up excitedly.
“Vashic, quit beating about the bush and tell us,” growled Snag.
“Give him time, Old One. This is a lot of work for poor Vashic, since he has little brains,” scoffed Pook.
The other snickered. Vashic, their scout, was known to be rather simple minded even for an orc, but was the best tracker many had seen in years. Yargosh glared the other assembled orcs into silence before returning his gaze back to the scout.
“How close did you see the signs of this lone dwarf?”
“No saw signs. Saw dwarf.”
“You saw the dwarf? Where?” the others asked excitedly.
Vashic screwed up his face in concentration as he tried to remember where.
“Where, Vashic.” Yargosh growled.
The scout then brightened up and smiled. “There,” he said as he pointed behind Yargosh.
As the commander turned to look, there arose a great bellow as a dwarf let loose with a great war cry as he leapt up from behind a boulder to plant the blade of his deadly axe in the middle of Yargosh’s forehead. The other orcs’ stunned expression mirrored that of their fallen leader as he toppled over.
Tark was the first to recover. His head was severed from his shoulders by a great sword as he reached for the first of his many knives. Snag leapt to his feet with a snarl as he faced Tark’s killer.
“What did you go and do that for, Vishic?” He spat as he brought his club in a vicious arch at the scouts head. Vishic ducked the swing, blocked the next two blows, and then disemboweled the old orc with one mighty swing. Snag dropped to his knees, clutching at his intestines as they spilled out as the scout turned toward the dwarf.
The dwarf had pulled out a matched pair of hand axes after his surprise attack on the commander, and was seemingly playing with his opponent. Pook was covered with small cuts and was breathing hard as he tried to keep up with the fast movements of the small dwarf. The dwarven fighter was dressed in leather armor instead metal and moved with a surefooted quickness not normally seen in the mountain folk.
With a sigh, the orcan scout leaned upon his sword and waited for the dwarf to finish his fight. The dwarf on the other hand, was laughing and having himself a good ol’ time with the slower orc. He began to lose patience with his opponent as the orc tired out rapidly from exertion and blood lose.
“C’mon, you bloody slow poke. Me grandmother moves quicker than you,” he teased. Pook to his credit, increased his attacks, but this seemed to amuse the dwarf more. The dwarf parried a few blows before taunting, “Is that the best ya can do? Why me own little sister can hit harder than that.”
After that comment, Pook became so enraged that he blindly charged the dwarf. The wily fighter just ducked down low and tripped the orc. Pook went crashing head first into a boulder. He hit with a sickening crunch and crumpled to the ground where he laid very still.
“About time you finished your game, dwarf,” the scout drawled. The timber of the orc’s voice had changed to a higher tone than before and held a slight musical quality to it than before.
“It has been many days since I we came across a band of orcs we had a chance of winning against, gel. Ya canna be denying an old dwarf his greatest pleasure in life: killing a few dirty orcs.” To exemplify his statement; the dwarf returned to the commander’s body and yanked his axe out of his head.
Ignored by the two strangers, Auk watched dumbfounded as the scout pushed off his hood, only to remove a strange hat. He goggled as who he had assumed to be Vashic turned out to be a female half orc with dark grayish-green skin decorated with tiger stripped tattoos, a thick black Mohawk tightly braided and long pointy ears.
“Well, gel, what should we be doing with these verman, eh?”
“We bury them in a deep hole and forget where it is,” she replies coldly.
“Bury them. Bah! Why should we be going to all the trouble to bury these louts? Better we leave them for the crows.”
The female half orc turned to the dwarf with a cold smile. “We bury them because we wouldn’t want to poison the crows with their foul flesh.” With these words she turns and grabs Snags leg to drag the orc away.
Scratching his red beard, the dwarf replies with a shrug, “Ah well...I see ya point me gel. Into a hole with them then. Wouldn’ wanna be hurting poor undeservin’ crows by feeding them this fodder.” He turns and heads over to drag Auk away. The dwarf then stops as he realizes Auk is alive, barely.
“Hey, this one be still alive, though I donna know how long that will be.” He scratches his beard as he slowly approaches the feeble Auk. The wounded orcan soldier tries to crawl away, but his broken wind pipe and lack of oxygen leaves him to weak to move. “Hmmmm...appears to have damaged his throat bad.” The dwarf then straightens up and dismisses Auk as a threat. “Guess’n the big one dinna want this one dead too quickly. Would have made him suffer more before we made ourselves known.”
“He will,” replies the female over her shoulder. “He will.”
Auk later watched in horror as the female returned to the camp after she and the dwarf had dragged his other companions away. She watched dispassionately as he struggled to move and plead for his life. The half orc then reached down and grabbed his ankle in a iron grip and dragged him into the dark. It was not long until they came to and area lit by a pair of torches flanking a deep pit. She dragged him along side and then grabbed both ankles as the dwarf came over and grabbed his wrist. With a grunt and a heave; Auk was tossed into the pit on top of the others like a sack of trash. The last thing the orcan soldier saw were rocks being tossed down on him as he was buried alive.
The dwarf dusted off his hands after the pit was filled and turned to the half orc with a smile. “Well Chimera, me gel. That be six orcs who willna be threatening Rakore anymore.”
“True, but we haven’t found the entrance to hidden tunnel leading into Stonehelm’s stronghold, Tavis. Are you sure you can find it, with only a few sketchy directions handed down in your family from your great-great-great uncle. Pardon my skepticism, but there was a lot greats in front of uncle.”
“Donna be worryin’ none, me gel. I willa be getting ye there and safely to the clan, ifn’ me name isn’t Tavis Stonehelm.”
With a nod from Chimera, the two set off at an easy jog up the mountside in search of a secret door that would hopefully lead them into tunnels leading to the Stonehelms.