Orcs And Bombs

 World News

As orcs go, Fud and Grindek were not the most intelligent of individuals. As they looked down from the tree to which they so desperately clung, this fact did not escape them. It wasn’t easy being told by most orcs that you were less intelligent, especially when the message was usually delivered by a sharp blow to the head, but actually realizing that you were less intelligent was proving to be far more disagreeable.

Fud and Grindek were orc bombers. Science was painfully new to the clan and bombers were chosen very carefully. Most were chosen to continue the profession because they were more intelligent than the average orc. After all, not every strong thinker in the clan desired to become a power-user. Bombers had a new and difficult job to perform; one that was very risky. Almost daily a bomber was killed in the line of duty from making a mistake while mixing his ingredients or by accidentally dropping a bomb or, on more than one occasion, by testing his product for flavor and nutrition.

Fortunately for the clan, most of the bombers killed by their own mistakes were like Fud and Grindek, orcs so incredibly stupid that other orcs made fun of them. It took a special kind of painful ignorance to get their job; the kind of utter idiocy that could actually make another orc shake his head sadly and groan. Only these special, these chosen few orcs had the qualities for the most dangerous job in the clan. Fud and Grindek, and those like them, were known as the “bomb-tryers”.

To say that the job of a bomb-tryer was pointless was not entirely true. The real bombers of the clan did on occasion decide to experiment with their potions in attempts to create better bombs. The real bombers were also too smart to test such things themselves. As a result, the clan leaders created the new position of bomb-tryer. The leaders’ job included assigning the position. Complete fools like Fud and Grindek usually accepted the job with great excitement.

Today, however, was becoming more exciting for the pair than they had planned. What was supposed to be a simple afternoon of throwing new bombs at things and making them explode had become a nightmare. Far below, in the grass, a number of huge insects chattered in clicks and squeals as they looked upward into branches where the orcs dangled from their fingertips. The ants did not seem pleased.

“What we do now?” Fud asked in orcish.

“We wait for when big bugs go away!” Grindek replied nervously.

Below, one of the Solen stuck the tree violently with his arms. It watched as the orcs above dangled helplessly. Fud was sure the creature was giggling at him.

“Me think bugs not go away.” Fud whimpered as he struggled to maintain his grip on the branch above him.

“Why you run up in tree?” Grindek grumbled as he gripped the branch.

“Me run?! You run up tree! Me follow you up here!” Fud yelled.

The tree shook violently again to the blows of the Solen below jarring the two orcs. Nearby a large hole in the ground seemed to be producing more and more of the giant insects. Fud and Grindek each reestablished their grip on the branch and looked at each other angrily.

Me follow you up in tree, Fud!” Grindek yelled back at his partner.

“Me follow you first! You the dumb one!” Fud snarled back.

Again the Solen smacked the tree and watched the two green meals above dangle like pine cones.

Me not dumb!” Grindek’s patience was wearing thin. Ignoring the current danger below him he brought his leg up and kicked Fud in the stomach with a grunt. Fud responded with a kick of his own to Grindek’s middle. The two began trading wild kicks as they hung precariously from the branch.

The Solen stared upward in stunned silence.

As the two orcs continued bruising each other, their brains again failed to remind them of danger. Huge experimental bombs designed by the master bombers hung from each of their belts. As they kicked and kicked the bombs, created to do little else than destroy the user in a glorious and entertaining explosion, slowly began to loosen and slip. It wasn’t until one of the bombs fell from Fud’s belt that the two stopped and took notice.

As if time had slowed, they watched the large bomb tumble through the air, end over end, narrowly avoiding each branch of the tree on its way down to the ground. The Solen also watched it fall; their heads moved to follow it on its descent. Finally the bomb reached the ground and the world became a flash of bright light and deafening thunderous noise.

Moments later, Fud blinked. He was wrapped around one of the branches of the tree, hugging it tightly. Looking around he saw Grindek near the very top of the tree, swinging like a pendulum on the highest branch. The two orcs looked at each other, then toward the ground where bits of Solen still lay smoldering in the blackened grass.

Suddenly, a loud crack echoed through the air. The tree shook. Slowly, but with great determination, it began to fall to the earth. Grindek clung with all his might to the limb, as he watched the Solen hole rapidly approaching him. With a great crash the tree struck the ground sending Grindek flying directly into the dark cavernous portal.

With a thunderous roar that shook the ground and rattled Fud out of the branches of the fallen tree, a huge plume of fire and ash erupted from the hole, now Grindek’s tomb. . Too stunned to be frightened, Fud stumbled to the smoldering hole, now slightly larger than it was a moment ago. Through his dizziness he could see burnt bits of Solen below. Strangely, the charred Solen seemed to draw closer and closer. Fud began to panic. The Solen were dead! How could they move? Through the confusion a blanket of strange relief settled over him when he realized, “Oh… ants not get closer… me fall in hole!” With a thud he painfully landed in the soft dirt at the bottom of the hole, still warm from Grindek’s bomb. Luckily his new bomb did not imitate Grindek’s.

This was strange; he was inside the ant hole. Ants had been coming out steadily until Grindek... until Grindek’s bomb had fallen in! The new bomb was useful, and Fud still had his to show the others! Fud was now a good bomb-tryer! The other bombers in the clan would be impressed! Fud happily scrambled out of the hole back into the sunlight.

This was a good day. Fud was alive, he was now the head bomb-tryer, and he was on his way home to brag about it. He was in such a state of bliss he hardly noticed the huge winged shadow closing in behind him. The next day a party of orcs discovered a dead ancient wyrm with a large blackened burst of soot where its head should have been.

From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, September 19th, 2002.