Escape and Return



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Escape and return

Autumn

What had these poor champions ever done without me? I really don’t understand how they managed to get as far as they have on their own. Hovan and Brigga can’t sneak around to save their lives, let alone someone else’s. Hope and Althea don’t seem to be very sneaky. But they are young so I guess I shouldn’t expect much. Korgul is pretty great though. Not as good as I am, but still pretty awesome. He did manage to get us into the city and to General Thag without being detected. As I spend more time with these guys, I feel more at home than ever. Granted it’s only been two or three days. Hovan treats me like a kid who needs to be protected. If I had a big brother, I imagine him to be like Hovan. Or maybe Brigga but he doesn’t have much to do with me. I’ll show them. I’m no child.

Hope was looking at the obalisque as if it were a piece of meat. She called to me and Althea. I drew a quick breath when I saw a tree without roots growing towards the sky. The tree was smeared with blood. Human or Orcish I didn’t know, or care to know really. Symbols of renewal and growth were all over the obalisque. I shook my head in denial. It seemed to come from the Spring Court. There was no way. I breathed deeply and turned when Hovan called my name. I had to get my priorities straightened out. Brighton first. Then I will force them to go to the First Forest if it kills me.

Hovan asked me to scout out the city. He needed to know where the “Kitchen” was, the best route to get there, and the danger level we would potentially encounter along the way. He sent me because, in his own words, That kid makes a shadow look like a drunk dwarf running around in full armor. See what I mean? They couldn’t live without me now! Korgul would have went with me as backup, but we had to send him back to the Duchess to report our position and the current situation. He has the best chance of getting in and out of the city without detection. So it was bye-bye Korgul and hello danger. I slid around buildings and danced my way across streets to get to this “kitchen,” which was actually just your average warehouse-like structure. Window-less with a front and back door. Not many escape routes, but sure looked like fun. There were door-like fixtures on the roof. Two of them were open with acrid smoke billowing out. I shivered, trying not to think of what was causing that smoke. I took a deep calming breath and slid further back into the shadows.

Orcs were milling around everywhere. Most had some sort of meat in their grubby little hands. Have you ever heard an orc eat? The sound makes me sick. They grunt and their lips smack in a manner most disgusting. They didn’t seem on edge. I guess they felt safe; they felt in total control. They were wrong. There were few orcs in the streets, and even less on the back roads. It was only about three blocks from the church to the “kitchens,” so it wouldn’t take long to get there. I realized that I had been gone too long and started back to the church.

Hovan and Brigga were waiting anxiously for me. I told them everything they needed to know and then some. We knew how to get in, now the question was how to get there. We had a wagon, but no driver. It was dark though. And orcs are ridiculously stupid. As much as he hated to do it, Hovan agreed to pretend to be an orc so he could smuggle the rest of us to the warehouse. I sat in the back of the wagon, closest to Hovan, and directed him through the city. As we drew up to the back of the building, we encountered three orcs who seemed to be relaxing. I softly crept my way to the front of the wagon and slipped out as Hovan came around from the drivers seat. We needed to get rid of these two goons, so Hovan grunted at them, motioning for them to come around and help him. One of them cautiously came around and met Brigga’s smiling face. Scary site indeed. Hovan and I took on the two by the door. We heard Brigga knock down his orc and I smiled. This was going to be so easy! Hovan rushed towards the two on the wall and I shot without a clear view. Darn Hovan and his tactics! I missed, fearing my arrow would find it’s way into his back instead of my target. It didn’t seem to matter though. Hovan couldn’t be touched. Those orcs just didn’t stand a chance against our mighty power. Althea sent a spell at the two which knocked them silly. Thank heavens for spell casters! Of course we killed the three. How could we not?

We started planning our next move. Hovan came up with this crazy idea to climb the warehouse from the outside and tie a rope so we girls could get on the roof and have an advantage over the orcs inside. It was a good plan with one downfall. I was the only one willing to climb the rope! Hope pretty much looked at Hovan and said “Not a chance in hell that I am going up that rope.” Althea agreed with Hope and poor Hovan was left shaking his head. When I told him that I would go up, he seemed relieved. So he began unbuckling his armor and Hope laughed. “Strip Hovan!” She said. I bet he blushed but it was too dark out to be sure. He quickly shed his armor and scaled his way up the building’s facade. He secured a rope to the window which I climbed up after he hit the ground. Smoke was pouring out of my window, but I had an okay view. I got into position as the others readied themselves. Hovan held up three fingers to count down. Three….....two….......one. Here we go again.

Hovan and Brigga reduced the door to splinters in their fevered aggression. It was the church all over again. Dismembered bodies were hanging from hooks in the ceiling. Two young women were chained to the wall and another had recently been thrown onto the grill alive. She was writhing and screaming in pain. I closed my eyes for a moment, then opened them with grim determination. Below me, Brigga over turned a table and laughed grimly, as if daring the orcs to come after him. I let two arrows fly and was pleased to find one orc, although it was one of the smaller ones, dead. My second arrow hit the…shall we call him the cook? He was big, he was bad, and he was in front of the grill. I could smell their fear. They had no idea where my arrows were coming from! Althea sent a spell into the room which killed another small orc and injured another, larger, orc. Hope threw a spell at the cook and Hovan pulled the woman off the grill, catching a few burns in the process. The smoke cleared a little more. It still wasn’t enough. I had to pull away from the window long enough to clear my vision. My eyes were raw and streaming. I returned in time to see Hope knock the cook onto the grill. Yet more smoke pours out of the window and the arrow I had intended to save Hovan from a nasty wound missed. I deftly made my way across the roof to another window which was closed. I threw open the shutters in time to shoot two goons and see Hovan stab the cook, who fell dead at his feet. Two archers had been causing quite a problem. Hope incinerated one and scorched another. These orcs were so scared they couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn! Hovan called for Caiden to come help flank so the orcs couldn’t run away. Know who the orcs choose to attack? Caiden! My precious Caiden! Hovan would definitely get an earful for this. Damn orcs picking on my wolf. I shot the bigger of the remaining orcs and smiled to see my arrow burry itself in his fat neck. Well, it was more like the area where his shoulder and neck met, but it was enough. For now. Brigga seemed to dance around these bumbling baboons for all the damage they were doing. Thank heaven for the element of surprise!

After the last of the grunts ceased, Hovan turned to the woman who had been on the grill and began bandaging her wounds. Brigga unchained the two on the wall and helped one stand while the other collapsed in hysterics. The one standing gave us more information on the city. Apparently the women of the city were being held in the “pens.” Stables to civilized people. The men and children had been separated from them. Well, we had already seen what happened to the elderly and some of the youth.

I looked closely at the three women. Althea looked at me, I at her, then back at them. They were fairly attractive. Coincidence? I think not. Hovan knelt next to the hysterical woman. Can you imagine this warlord comforting a woman? He’s not very good at it, but it worked. He was firm with her. Told her to get it together. She needed to be strong. The young woman nodded and stood up. We decided to try to get the three out and return for more survivors. I went in search of a way out of the city.

The orc guards are very bad at guarding. They seemed relaxed, sure that they would have no trouble keeping the city. They left a latter unguarded and that was all I needed. I returned with my findings and we set out. Brigga carried one woman, Hovan another. Luckily, the last woman was able to walk. As we neared our destination, Althea made a noise with her magic to distract two of the guards. One went down the ladder and the other around the wall to see what it was. Hope misses the last guard with icy chains and fire, so I knock an arrow to my bow and let it fly. I quickly sent another and let Hope finish him off. We flee to the top of the wall, not wanting to get caught. Brigga secures a rope and safely makes it down with his precious cargo safely. Hovan, however, doesn’t quite make it and breaks the poor girl’s leg. I follow them down after the last woman and find them a good hiding place. We told them to wait for us. We would be back with more survivors.

Hovan, Brigga, and I looked back at the wall where Hope and Althea awaited us. We had made it out safely. Now we had to go back in. I couldn’t help but wonder if we would be as lucky the next time around.

Escape and Return

Crucible Hardhead