A sore eye encrusted with blood, received as a “blessing” for questioning
the elder shaman during the previous night’s war council, was a minor
irritant in a long line of irritants that Dudagog had learned to accept.
Although it had been only twenty cycles of the day fire since the shaman
council had rolled the bones and driven the tribe to move, Dudagog could
barely remember the logs and bone piles he called home. He could remember
the rich hunting ground though. Always fresh deer and hummies to munch
on, and the strength of a combined tribe of hundreds had made life as
good as it gets for an old, fat orc. In his younger days Dudagog would
have perhaps enjoyed this nomadic lifestyle, but age had given Dudagog
a wisdom that only comes through corpulence; hunting is good, but sitting
down for a meal is better. Thus when Dudagog had questioned the shaman
about the wisdom of his training the young orcins to hunt with the new
long way killer, the shaman elder chastised him with a swift staff to
his eye. Dudagog was not stupid enough to retaliate in kind, as the shamans
had been known to cause the air around an orc to burn as hot as the home
of a lava lizzie.
This morning Dudagog was up earlier than he would have wished for. The
day fire was barely awake and it irritated Dudagog that he should share
anything in common with that wretched ball of torment. The shamans demanded
that training start early and end late so the clans would be prepared.
What was it that they should be prepared for? This unseen danger to the
clans could certainly be no worse than roaming about the land in search
of prospects for new orcish conquest. What did orcs need of more places?
What orcs needed, they took. The Disway Datway clan of ettins had been
good partners for the orcs, and now they were far away from their large
allies. Dudagog might not be a shaman, but leaving that alliance was a
bad idea to his way of thinking. Of course, his way of thinking was usually,
“Hungry, want eat.” “You in my way.” “Tired, want sleep.” “You still here?
You still in way.” And so on.
Sharpening his axe was something Dudagog only did when he was nervous.
His whetstone, fresh when he left home, was now barely a nub. The time
of training would not be for a while yet, and Dudagog discovered that
his axe sharpening had made him thirsty. Of course, it had made him hungry
too, but even eating made him hungry, and it was a state he had grown
accustomed to. Since being thirsty was something he could correct, Dudagog
decided to travel to a nearby stream and have a drink. Beer would have
been better. Even stale beer would have been better, but Dudagog was not
permitted to drink before training. The decision made, his brain finally
motivated his legs to carry him to the stream.
Dudagog was startled to find what must have been one of his pupils already
in the stream. This gave Dudagog pause. He seemed to recall orcs disliking
water for drinking, and disliking it far more for bathing. No orc could
stand water long enough to even fathom the concept of swimming, not that
fathoming concepts was a particularly strong orcish skill either. Dudagog,
in what was to be one of the quickest decisions in his life not involving
food or food-like substances, decided the skinny fool had fallen in the
stream. In an effort to be helpful, to himself of course, Dudagog felt
that ordering the fool out of the stream was the quickest way of removing
the distraction to an otherwise bleak morning.
Dudagog was somewhat shocked when the wretch did not acknowledge his orders.
If orcs liked anything less than bathing, it was being shocked. Clearly
this was turning out to be a bad morning, and Dudagog had just about had
enough irritants to last a lifetime. Or so he thought. Dudagog had three
more episodes of being shocked before his life came to an abrupt end.
Throwing the whetstone at the fool in the water seemed like a good idea.
It was when the skinny orc caught the whetstone that shocked Dudagog for
the second to the last time. That shock was immediately followed by the
rather gruesome sight of the orc reaching into the fold of skin under
its neck and ripping the skin off its face while its body was surrounded
by a green light. What was not surprising in any way was the immediate
turn of Dudagog on his heels to presumably warn the clan, but in reality
to simply run away from this magical orc. The final surprise of Dudagog’s
life came just as his right leg had gained some forward progress. His
whetstone halted his progress as it came hurling back at him and caved
in the back of his head. The cut across his throat was not the way he
had hoped his thirst would be quenched, but he did not have to worry about
the problem for long, as the morning ended for him far sooner than for
any other beast in the land.
Note: In order to maintain the element of discovery, the introduction
of this story does not necessarily denote the beginning of the scenario
From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, May