The Shadow Clan Chronicles - Part Two

Imlo the Druid

UP: Catskills

    The Clan Musters for War

My journeys had taken me far from the chaos of the Orc clan. I had journeyed to the east, on foot, to a realm I had heard of called the Griffon Township. Whether it be due to my timing, or other reasons, I found only a few souls with which to speak concerning the Township. I plan to journey back one day in hopes of meeting someone who can more perfectly guide me into a broader understanding of their ways, but, interestingly enough, my sojourn among the Orcs brought me full circle, as I shall soon relate.

I decided it was time to visit the Orcs again. As always the thought of the initial meeting with one or more of them fills me with a powerful sense of foreboding. Although I have been trained to accept fate and ultimate sacrifice in my quest for knowledge, it is never easy to remain calm when rushed by mail-clad, skull-helmed, warriors brandishing rusty, jagged-edged, two-handed axes! This latest meeting was no different.

I approached their fortress, but, according to my word to one of their warlords, remained outside the gate. A warrior met me and demanded tribute. I offered everything I had, which was not much.. a few bandages, clothing, but he was greatly pleased that I had two bottles of ale and one of wine. These he took from me as tribute and greedily quaffed them. I did my best to explain my mission, but could gain no real information. I did note that several "breeders" stood inside the compound.. females, as I noted, whom they did not stop eyeing lustily, yet spoke disparaging remarks about their battle prowess, which they clearly esteem very highly.

Upon dying at the hands of a "shardie" orc mage.. no doubt jealous of the attention I had given toward its hereditary enemies, I found a healer, was raised, gathered my things, thanked the killers of my foe, and began the journey back to the Abbey in Yew. Along the way several Clan warriors raced past me and I elected to follow them. I arrived soon in the midst of a more "civilized" area replete with Tower and buildings, and realized I stood in Necropolis, the City of the Dead, a place I knew of from stories by others of my Order. Herding a sizeable contingent of Clan Orcs, about fifteen to twenty in number, were several apparent "undead" or semi-undead humans, and I surmised correctly that a raid was in the making.

Eyewitness of Battle

I took copious notes of the mustering of the Clan Orcs and what appeared to be leaders of the undead forces, one of whom spoke with me demanding to know my purpose for being present. I explained that I was simply a spectator seeking knowledge. I was permitted not only to remain unmolested, but actually invited to the raid being planned. Heedless of personal danger, I at once agreed to go.

Even the Clan Orcs are not of great intelligence, it seems. Their allies who cast the magical gate had to wait a long time before the last of the Orcs stepped away from the arrival spot so we could get there.. and even they cursed their thick-headedness. When we finally arrived the first battle was over. A figure named Raven lay prostrate upon the ground quite lifeless, and the Orcs had again mustered in the lowest floor of a Tower whose sign read "The Black Rose Society." The orders shouted by the warlord indicated that another attack was planned elsewhere. After some time, a magical gate was cast and, filled with nervous excitement and the unquenchable thirst of a scholar, I eagerly stepped into it.

The din of battle filled my ears and, to my utter amazement, I was where my journey had first begun.. at a Tower claimed by the Griffon Township! Several mounted human warriors, whether members of the Township or no, I know not, were fighting the Orcs bravely. Yet the scene which completely captured my attention was the fearsome battle the Clan Orcs waged against a lone, tamed dragon named Prometheus! At least ten or so Orcs hammered away at it, surrounding it like a swarm of angry ants, hacking and slicing with axe and blade, filling the air with their war-cry "Hoowah!" Several soon fell, bloody and burned, but that did not deter the others whatsoever from their lethal intent against the dragon.. in fact it only seemed to stimulate their blood-lust. Two, three, possibly four or more of them fell victim to the dragon which, as its life ebbed, blood pouring from multiple, gaping, wounds, tried to fly away. At last, as a final, finishing, blow struck home, in a gutteral gasp of reptilian fury, Promethus fell to the ground, its broad body and wings crashing violently into the side of the Tower.

Orcish voices uttering cries of victory filled the air, but many were soon silenced. The human defenders, able to move faster and more freely on their mounts, and increasing in number by the minute, began a furious counter-attack. As if enraged beyond all capacity for self-defense, they struck down Orc after Orc, by arrow, blade, or magic. Even their undead allies, some very adept in magic use, were unable to prevail or even survive for long. In the end I concluded that the battle was a draw. If the Clan Orcs had intended to destroy the dragon, then, despite their losses, they won a tactical victory. But the human defenders must be credited for their valiant efforts and the enormous losses they inflicted upon their foes.

Stirred beyond measure by the sights, sounds, and smells of the battle, I could barely record on the piece of vellum I carry, what I had witnessed. I hurried away from the scene to find a quiet spot to contemplate the event and collect my thoughts. In the end, I learned what I had suspected.. these Orcs, when organized, are warriors of the highest bravery and caliber.. and should not be