Of People and Their Champions

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
In the second part of The Earth and Blade Saga, the great imperial city is attacked by Orcs that want only revenge for the mistreatment they have received from humans. With Only Gracil, Nore and Tayren left in the city to defend the civilians, the name 'Earth and Blade' will become famous amongst the city's inhabitants who would call them heroes.

Submitted: March 22, 2015

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Submitted: March 22, 2015

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The night drew on, only Tayren was left sitting in the dark of the main hall. No fire was lit in the main hearth, only one candle burned in the corner, and The Huntress sat in thought. There came a light sound of foot steps from the stairs. It was Dúframa!  He passed Tayren, too deep in his own concerns to notice her. 'Where does he go this late?' she thought to herself. She took up her bow and arrows that sat on the table in front of her and followed, hiding in the shadows. He left the city and came to an abandoned stream in the forest. Tayren hid in a bush and watched him. He took off his clothes, took in a deep breath and fell to his hands and knees. And then, in his place she saw a wolf. It was unclear at what point the beast replaced him, but the Elf no longer stood before her.  The beast ran into the woods, the scent of the hunt fresh in his mind.  Tayren gave chase.  She struggled to keep up with the beast who was not overcummbed by clothes and weapons.  When Tayren caught up with him, the beast was sniffing the ground for some scent that she could not find.  The beast followed the scent to track its prey.  They came to an Orc stronghold that hid deep in the forest.  The wolf looked at the wooden gates and growled at some evil that hid there.  A shout came from behind the wooden fortifications and makeshift arrows came from the small towers at either side of the gate.  The wolf ran from them, heading back into the forest.  Tayren followed back to the stream where the wolf appeared.  The wolf was, again, replaced by Dúframa hurrying to put his clothes back on.  Tayren took this moment to return to the guild house.  But, in her careless rush to leave, a twig broke under her foot.  Dúframa starred in her direction but only saw a shadow rush away.

 

When Dúframa came back to the guild house, he was greeted by harsh questions.

‘What was that!?’ Tayren demanded from out of the shadows, ‘Are you Elf or beast!?’

‘I am both,’ Dúframa replied, ‘and I am neither.  I was born with the spirit of the hunt.  You don’t speak Elvish, do you?’

‘I do.’

‘Then, Dúframa.  It comes from “Dúfÿen Borama”.’

‘Wolf blood?’

‘I am both Elf, and wolf.  That is why I would not let you slay your prey when first we met, she is my Spirit-Kin.’

‘Why did you not tell us?’

‘Many would fear me and cast me out of the city, unless they killed me first.’

‘Is there much else we do not know of you?’

‘Yes.  But, these past few months that I have been in your company, I have found you all to be, perhaps, the greatest friends I am yet to know.  My stories will be told to you all like any others.’

‘Then I eagerly await them.  But also, I await my bed.  Good night, Dúframa.’

‘Good night, Tayren.’

The Huntress left up the stairs to her chambers.  Dúframa put out the candle that was still lit in the main hall before heading to his chambers.

 

An hour passed before the candle was relit by Pefÿen who sat alone by the cold hearth.  Telroth came into the house along with her Dwarven companion and saw Pefÿen.

‘Is everything okay?’ she questioned moving to comfort the Dryad.

‘Yes, just trouble sleeping, that’s all.’

‘Well, if you need anything, we are not far.’

‘Thank you, Telroth.’ she smiled.

The Elf and the Dwarf retired to their chambers.

‘Zeksen.’ Pefÿen greeted the Dwarf in politeness alone, for there was little love between them.

Zeksen merely returned a smile before ascending the stairs.  Pefÿen stared at the gem that glowed like starlight on the hearth.  Time seemed, almost, to have no meaning in the cold light ripped from the heavens.

‘Here you are.’ A warm voice came from the entrance way, ‘I worried when you were not next to me.’

Pefÿen turned to see Kenrémas coming over to her.

‘I had some trouble sleeping and didn’t want to disturb you.’

Kenrémas sat down and put his arm round her.

‘How can I help?’ he asked

‘You can’t.’ she told him, ‘It was just a bad dream.’

‘Then share it.  I will take the fear and let you sleep.’

‘I was walking through the city.’ she told him, ‘Men in armour fighting some unseen foe.  They screamed and died amits blood and ruin.  Fire rained from the sky, hotter than any I have felt before.  But yet, there was still one man oblivious to the death surrounding him.  He was tall and proud, yet a black hood covered his face and he would not look at me.  Even to think of him, it sends shivers down my spine.’

‘Worry not!’ Kenrémas comforted her, ‘It is little more than a dream.  Now, come to bed, the morning cannot be too far away.’

 

The morning came and the companions came together to break their fast.  Many left on work and errands.  Dúframa left for a village a few leagues north of The Emerald City to settle a dispute with a troll, Pefÿen went south with Kenrémas to find rare herbs that grow seldom in light places.  Where Telroth and Zeksen went, they did not tell, save that they were leaving the city.  Kaunis left late in the morn saying only that she had been approached with “specialist work” that she could not disclose.  By noon only Gracil,Tayren and Nore remained to tell their stories.  They sat, laughing and talking, for a few hours.  It was then that they heard warning bells from outside.  They ran to the door to investigate.  Smoke rose in the distance.  The warriors took shelter in their house.  Gracil and Nore ran to the armoury in the back.  When they emerged Gracil was covered in steel plate and took a large great-sword in her hands.  Nore wore armour created in some metal known only by the Dwarves, covered in many runes and geometrical patterns.  In his hands was a large axe made of a similar metal to his armour.  Tayren took her bow that lay in her chambers and they went into the streets.

 

They found that Orcs had found their way into the city and were pillaging like it was some common hamlet.  On the ground were the carrions of innocent souls whose only failing was in their speed.  Gracil led the charge, her great-sword raised high shining in the sunlight.  Next came Nore, his axe cleaving Orcs about him.  Around them flew arrows in a deadly rain, each hitting its mark.  The warriors moved through the city towards the houses of the poor where the guard was less.  When, at last, they came to the slums Orcs were raiding as many houses as they could.  Women and children, the old and the lame fled their homes and ran to the warriors in desperation.

‘Tayren!’ Shouted Nore, ‘Get these people somewhere safe, leave the Orcs to us.’

‘Come on!  Come on!’ The huntress called to the people.  They followed without question.  Nore and Gracil took on the Orcs that rampaged the city.  Nore laughed in victory with each Orc his axe felled like trees.  They went into each house clearing it of Orcs until there was not one left in the district.  A guard came to them begging for help.

‘They’ve got to the palace!’ He cried, ‘ You must help us, they mean to kill the Emperor!’

The two warriors began to head to the palace.  They ran through the main street, city guards kept any Orcs away from them.  They found the palace to be filled by many Orcs.  Gracil’s sword swung, removing heads from Orcs’ bodies.  Nore headed up the main tower in search of the Emperor and his family.  He burst through all the doors he found but there was no sign of the royal family.  He did, however, come across a room that was empty, save for a single mirror that had a perfect surface.  It seemed to be a silver grey, yet the light that came through the single window revealed its true colour.  Under the gaze of the sun, the mirror appeared to be red.  The Dwarf was mesmerised by this illusion until a voice came from the next room.  He ran to it and found the Emperor fighting a single Orc with a sword used only for display.  Nore’s axe hit the back of the Orc.  Another came from behind but was stopped by the butt of Nore’s axe.  He raised up his weapon ready to strike.

‘Wait!’ Came a voice, ‘We must question this one.’

It was Dúframa!

‘And where have you been!?’ Nore asked

‘I came as soon as I saw the smoke, but three leagues is a long way to run.  Pefÿen and Kenrémas also have returned, they are finishing the last of the Orcs with Gracil now.’  He turned to the Emperor who now had cast his sword on the ground, 'Come.  We must question this Orc.'

 

A company was gathered in the throne room of the palace.  Present was the Emperor, Táenér was his name, along with Sadthol, captain of the city guard.  Two guards stood beside the Orc, now on his knees, that Dúframa had spared.  There also came representatives of Earth and Blade.  Gracil stood behind the Orc, her blade held across her shoulders.  Dúframa and Tayren stood to the side of the chamber their eyes sharp and open.  Kenrémas stood by the Emperor on his throne.  Beside the sorcerer stood Pefÿen.  The Emperor sat in thought for a moment looking into the eyes of the Orc.

‘What are you doing in the city?’  He asked at last

‘We came to take what we could, be it in coin or whores.’  The creature laughed

‘You have killed many innocent men and women in your vain attempt at glory.’  Dúframa added, ‘Such actions are not excusable.  Yet now you have a chance to right your wrongs, be it only a small amount, tell us all you know of this raid!’

The Orc spat at the Wood-Elf, ‘I will tell you nothing, tree filth!’

‘Then you will speak to me!’ The Emperor demanded, ‘How did you enter this city?  It is clear you came not through the eastern gate, for you would have been stopped.’

‘Do you know why we would have been stopped?  It would not be for our weapons, many of my kin have tried to enter this foul dwelling of men bearing no arms.  We would have been stopped because you call us foul.  Yes, foul, that is what our name means.  During the Second Age, when the Goblins in the north still took human prisoners, they would mate with the women they captured.  The children that came from this were raised by the Goblins until the women escaped and returned to their villages.  

‘When at last the children escaped also, they set out to find their mothers.  But when they came to what they searched for, they wished they never left the Goblin caves.  They were shunned.  Shunned by their own mothers!  “Foul children!” they called at them.  Foul children, or in their tongue “Orc Arthan!”  That is why men hate us.  We look different, we do not look like your spawn.’

‘A lovely story, but it does not answer my question.  How did you come into the city?’

‘Through where you deem yourselves above.  We came through your filth and waste.’

‘From which tribe do you hail?’

‘The glorious Sharak are my people!’

‘Then your chieftain shall be brought to justice for his crimes.  You are free to leave this city and this empire, never to return.’

‘My lord.’  Kenrémas said, ‘I would not deem that wise.  An Orc chieftain would not risk such an attack on a city this guarded.’

‘And we also don’t know what he did with the mirror!’  Nore called from the stairs, ‘It is gone from where I saw it.’

‘Why do I need to care about a mirror’ Asked the Emperor

‘This is no ordinary mirror.’  Kenrémas told, ‘If it is as Nore described it, I fear that it is a Grey Mirror.  An artifact of intense magical power.  It is a door to other planes of existence and what lies behind it may have some ill fate planned against us.’

‘Tell me then.’ The Emperor turned to the Orc, ‘Where is this mirror?’

‘It is not ours.  We have no need for magical devices, we care only for steel and blood.’

‘Perhaps.’  Táenér turned to Sadthol, ‘I want you to search this palace from the highest tower, to the lowest dungeon.  I want that damn mirror found.  And you.’  He turned back to the Orc, ‘For whom does your chieftain work?  Who sent you on this failed raid?’

‘I have my honour!  I would not tell the name of my captain even should it save me from noose!’

A voice came from a shadow in the back of the room. ‘I believe I can help here, sir.’  Telroth stepped forward followed by Zeksen.

‘Who is this?’ The Emperor asked Pefÿen

‘She is Telroth, our sorceress.’

‘And how can you help, Grey-Blood?’

‘ I am well versed in many arts that others have only heard of.’  Telroth boasted, ‘I can pull what ever he knows from his mind, by force if I must.’

‘Do what you must, I am finished listening to this filth.’

Telroth stepped towards the Orc and took his head in her hands.  She looked into his eyes, and into his very soul.  Her hands gripped tighter.  The Orc’s breathing became heavy.  He tried to look away.

‘Suffer my will!’ She shouted at him, her voice echoed throughout the chamber.  The Orc fought her powers as best he could until at last, he lost the fight.  He let out a cry of pain that churned even the bravest warrior’s stomach.  Amidst the screams he begged for mercy and death.  Blood, thick and black as oil, leaked from his eye as a tear.  When his screams stopped Telroth let him go and he fell to the floor.

‘He knew nothing beyond his own chieftain, sire.’  She informed the Emperor.

‘Well.’ He said, ‘We must put this Orc on trial until he is found guilty.  Captain, Send out patrols to the Sharak tribe and bring their chieftain for his trail, alive preferably.’

‘I will see to it right away, sir.’

Those gathered began to leave.

‘Pefÿen.’ The Emperor called, ‘Stay for a moment, I have a few things I wish to discuss with you in private.’

‘As you wish sir.’  She bowed.

 

The others left the palace and headed to the house.

‘Well, Gracil.’ Nore said, ‘Final count, twenty-five.’

‘Twenty-five what?’ Dúframa asked

‘Orcs that lie dead from my axe!’

‘Twenty-five people that you have reduced to a number.  That is twenty-five people that will never their friends, their families again.  Perhaps twenty-five fathers who will never see their children again.  Remember that Orcs, no matter what we think of them, are people with lives too.’

‘Come Nore!’  Said Telroth, with a spring in her step, ‘Let us leave those who are not grateful of our efforts to save this city.’

It was with this that Telroth and the two Dwarves left the rest of the company to travel through the slums again.  In a moment of sudden reflection, Tayren stopped and looked down at the floor.  There lay a rag-doll stained with blood.  She picked it up as the others stopped.  Its hair was made of yellow wool and its eyes were two wooden buttons of different sizes.  A permanent smile was stitched into its face.  Its dress was dark green. and flowed out in a skirt and its waist.

‘This was some child’s best friend.’  She said, ‘A child who is now either dead or afraid and alone.  For that child to see her best friend again might lift her spirits and bring her hope.  Or it may soothe her lost spirit on its way to the next life.’

A woman’s voice came from the street next to them, ‘Ethilies!’ It cried, ‘Where are you my dear?’

She came into the main street and saw the doll in Tayren’s hand.

‘Where did you get that?’ She asked

‘I found it not a moment ago.’ Tayren answered

‘It belongs to my daughter, where is she?’

‘I don’t know, if she is injured she will be in the temple south of here.  If not, then she could be anywhere.’  Tayren gave the doll to the woman, ‘Take this and return it to your daughter, and go with all the luck in the world.’

‘Thank you and bless you.’  She said before she ran to the temple.

 

When the evening meal came, there was silence.  No one cared to break the reflection of the day’s events, of the innocent people that died and the suffering that was caused.  At last, after the meal came the break to the silence all wanted.

‘I spoke to the Emperor today.’  Pefÿen announced, ‘As little as it means, he congratulated us on our efforts protecting this city.  However, more importantly, he thanked us for defending its people.  And that is why he is paying us to join the city guard, in a fashion.  He told me “Earth and Blade are the heroes that my people need.  I want you to be their heroes actively.  I would have you, when not on alternative business, to act as guardians of the city and its people.”  I told him that such a  decision was not mine alone to make.  He promises to pay us each as well as an officer of the city guard for our work.  I think it is worth taking up the offer, which is why I ask, What say you all?’

there was a moments thought, but one by one, all who were gathered agreed to this.

‘So it shall be so.  When the morning comes, I shall return to the palace and give the Emperor our verdict.’

‘But what of Kaunis?’ Dúframa asked, ‘She is not here to speak, we cannot assume that she would also agree to this.’

‘When she returns from her contract, I will ask if she wishes to be a part of this.  Until then I will assume nothing.’

 

Days passed, a trial was held for the chieftain of the Sharak people and he was found guilty of mass murder and treason.  He was hanged from the neck till dead and his corpse burned.  The ashes were scattered and lost, floating through the city and into the wilderness.  The members of Earth and Blade became the people’s champions and worked for them in whatever way they could.  Yet, in all this time, Kaunis did not return.  This caused the hearts of Tayren and Dúframa to grow dark.  


Thus ends the second part of The Earth and Blade Saga.


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