Duncan winced as the local healer pulled the bandage tighter around
his wounded arm. As he glanced down at the bloody arrow lying on the ground
next to him, Duncan was reminded of his own mortality. The wound would
heal in time, but he would have to fight without his shield for a while.
As he listened to the healer's idle conversation and looked around the
dimly lit room, he reminded himself he was lucky to even be alive after
the last orc raid. Many of his fellow townspeople had perished trying
to stem the never-ending tide of orcs.
"They can't keep coming like this! How many orcs can there possibly be
in the world!?" the young healer suddenly asked, changing the subject.
A warrior laying next to Duncan, her head wrapped in a bandage, propped
herself up painfully from her cot. "Seems there's no stopping them. There
has to be a way to keep them from taking the town!" The warrior pounded
her fist into her open palm as if to accentuate her point.
"They don't seem interested in controlling the city, though," Duncan said,
more to himself than to the others. "Can't stop a siege if the invaders
don't actually try to take anything over. It's almost as if each wave
is a separate group of orcs, running from something and just smashing
whatever gets in their way, rather than some organized invasion with a
purpose. I've heard reports from other towns that the orcs attacking them
aren't actually making moves to take control either. Something's got 'em
spooked, that's for sure."
Another warrior joined the group, this one having just recently arrived
from Britain. "I've heard that too. You know what I think? The orcs aren't
the real problem... more like a symptom of something bigger."
"Aye," Duncan nodded. "And whatever it is that's doing this hasn't shown
itself yet. So for now, the best we can do is protect our homes and hope
for the best."
"That's hardly encouraging," the healer said, giving the Paladin a wink
to let him know she wasn't expecting him to have all of the answers. Duncan
smiled slightly for the first time in days. He knew the people of Cove
needed him to stay strong and optimistic, but every band of orcs that
attacked made it harder to keep his spirits high and his determination
strong. He remained proud of his people, though, knowing that lesser men
and women would have long ago fled along with the royal guards to the
safety of Britain or Trinsic. As he looked around at the despair and carnage
in the room, he silently vowed to himself that when he did find this unseen
enemy, they would pay for the destruction their actions had wrought.
As the group continued to talk, a series of explosions from outside rocked
the building, knocking the injured warrior from her cot and hurling glasses
and healing bottles from their shelves. Duncan immediately rose, much
as it pained him to do so, and gripped his sword tightly.
"Cannons!?" the young healer asked shakily, as she helped the injured
warrior back to her cot, the fear evident in her eyes.
Duncan waved his hand dismissively, trying to calm those inside. "Orcs
don't use cannons, never have. They must have found some new toys." He
pointed at the warrior from Britain. "Come with me."
Both warriors carefully left the safety of their hiding place, warily
looking for the new orc threat.
From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, June