Jogug kicked a stone and watched as it skittered across the floor and hit the cave wall. He hated this place. No humies to bash, never enough food, and the cave reeked, even by orc standards. He mumbled some irate complaints to the other orcs in the room, although most of them were too busy with complaints of their own to listen.
* * * *
The cave had been carved out (actually, blown out) by the orc bombers and reinforced by the orc choppers. In truth, it was well built (again, by orc standards), but many of the orcs had grown weary of it. Orcs cared little for the beauty of the outdoors, but Jogug missed the warmth of the sun and the openness of his home near Cove. Jogug wasn't exactly the bravest of orcs, but he had had enough of this hiding. And so had his lord, Sorgulg.
Jogug quieted his mumbling as Sorgulg raised his voice.
"NO!" the orc lord shouted. "No more hiding!"
This was followed by more shouting from the orc mage Opathu. Jogug could not hear the words exactly, but he could tell the mage disagreed with Sorgulg, preferring the safety of the cave. Jogug thought the sentiment typical of the mages. He didn't trust any orc that didn't bash things with an ax, although he did want to get his hands on some of those bottles the orc bombers kept. He liked the noises they made.
"NO! We go without you den. Take back home. You hide like mongbat if yub want to," Sorgulg retorted, his temper quickly rising.
Jogug knew his lord and the mage well enough to know what would happen next, and was not surprised in the least when he heard Opathu yelp, no doubt dodging an attack from Sorgulg. Jogug would have smiled at the thought, and in fact was about to, when he heard the orc mage yell for help.
The ground shook a bit. Jogug suddenly realized what was coming, and his smile quickly faded into a frown. Gathering what courage he had (which wasn't much), Jogug prepared for a fight. The ground shook again, this time much more forcefully, as a hulking brute of an orc entered the room. Easily twice Jogug's mass, with muscles bulging, the large orc immediately went to enter the room where Sorgulg and the mage were arguing. Jogug, trembling despite his attempts to hide his fear, stood to intercept the brute.
The huge orc smiled a wicked grin as it picked Jogug completely off the ground and threw him headlong into another group of orcs. The brutes had a habit of throwing any orcs who got in their way, since it not only made them feel powerful, but watching the smaller orcs grapple with whatever creature they had been thrown onto was really great fun. The brute was just getting ready to hurl another hapless orc when Sorgulg stormed out, boldly striding right past the imposing orc.
Jogug quickly followed Sorgulg as they left the cave, wanting nothing more to do with the hulking orc or those that wished to stay in the cave. He liked the idea of clomping more painted humies and more importantly, he wanted his home back.
"No more hiding," he thought, echoing his Lord's words and looking nervously back at the cave as another orc yelped and was thrown from the dark cavern.
It was time to clomp!
Duncan gathered the men and women of Cove into the Inn and waited for them all to settle down. The people were tired and weary from the fighting and it took him a while to secure their attention. Duncan was happy for the time to compose himself and gather his thoughts, since he knew the proposal he was about to give them would not be a popular one. Finally the room quieted and all eyes and ears went to Duncan.
The young Paladin, who had only months ago just begun his questing, was suddenly acutely aware of all the faces watching him. How had he become the leader of this desperate group? He cleared his throat and began speaking, cautiously at first.
"My friends, for weeks we have defended our town against these orc raids, hoping we could weather this terrible storm. Now these savages threaten our homes as well. It is time we took the fight to them and ended this nonsense before all of Cove is destroyed. Neither the orcs nor the savages seem willing or able to end this themselves... so it is now up to us."
The Paladin paused for a moment, watching the faces of the townsfolk for any sign of reaction. He saw their eyes still focused on him, and continued his speech. Conviction began to creep into his voice as he realized that they were actually listening.
"The time has come for us to leave the relative safety of our homes and take this fight to the orc fort! With these," the paladin held up a mask of orcish kin, "we can rid our land of the savages and put things back the way they were."
At this point, one of the elders of the town jumped from his seat, glaring at the paladin. "Help the orcs? Are you mad!? We've endured their attacks for generations; we'd be better off helping these savages! They're at least human... maybe we can reason with them!"
Duncan had expected this. He knew the deep-rooted hatred the residents of Cove held towards the orcs. But he also knew there would be no negotiations with the savages. The savages were intelligent, cunning, crafty, and were better equipped than the orcs. He had also heard rumors of savages mounted on huge, unfamiliar beasts and powerful savage spellcasters capable of raining lighting down on their enemies from the skies. That, coupled with their terrifying prowess against the most powerful of beasts made the orcs seem to be the lesser of two evils. Before Duncan could respond, the elder spoke again.
"We have already made up our minds, Paladin. We will use their own war paint to blend in with these savages. They'll never know who we are, and we can destroy the orcs once and for all." With that, the elder left the room, and at least half the gathered people followed behind him.
Duncan watched them leave and wondered if this moment would mean the difference between living with the savages or the orcs. Not a happy prospect either way, but he knew he had to do what he could to see that they were not left to the hands of the savages. Turning back to the remaining townsfolk, Duncan began to lay out his plans, and handed out orc masks to those who would fight with the orcs. Those without masks would remain to defend the town.
The time had come to drive the intruders out for good.
From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, July