The Undying Nomad, part 7
Tamerand Tower stood in the distance; fire belching from every window. Panicked people jumped from the parapets into the crowd below, their screams drowned out by the clash of steel as the battle raged throughout the city streets. For two days, the Orc hordes had pounded the walls and gates of Tamerand until finally a breach let them in. Fire had eaten its way through the housing section and much of the merchant quarters were already leveled.
From the overlook on Rinnak pass, the entire town could be seen. Four people stood there, solemnly staring at the battle below. Wilgar’s voice was the first to break the silence.
“We’ll need to get their attention. We’re too far away to help directly.”
A soft, sad voice spoke in response, “What element do the Orcs fear the most? I can get their attention.”
Cirox stepped to Vannah’s side as he answered her, “They fear little, but they consider fire to be a sign of power. If you opposed that power, you’d gain their notice.”
Her voice seemed to perk up. With a mix of cheer and malice, she said, “I’ll see you all in town.”
Vannah gave Oshiah a quick kiss, said some mystical words, and ran down the side of the mountain. As she ran, the mountain dropped away beneath her and her steps carried her on a path of air toward the sea. The three men watched as her wispy form disappeared into the night headed toward the crashing waves on the shore.
“Quite the amazing woman you’ve got there, Oshiah,” Cirox said, admiring the grace with which she bounded into the sky.
“She is amazing,” he replied, seemingly lost in thought. “We’d better get moving or we’ll never be in position before the show begins.”
Back in the city, the guard retreated to the plaza in the center of town from attacks on three sides. As they gathered there in a circle, the Orcs swarmed in around them. The fate of the inhabitants of Tamerand seemed to be sealed. A rumbling sound slowly overtook the sound of the buildings collapsing from fire damage. Orcs and men alike looked around to find the source – the sound seemed to come from every direction. A shout from one of the men brought all eyes toward the sea.
A great wave rose above the city as if the entire ocean was coming to consume Tamerand. Almost in response to the gasp of fear from the crowd, the wave stopped moving. It stood like a vertical lake leaning dangerously over the city, but refusing to fall. From the crest, droplets began to fall and a steady rain poured down soaking everyone and everything. At first, everyone began to cower, but the hiss from the fires gave them some comfort. The guards looked at each other and then cheered.
The Orcs backed away, unsure if this was the wrath of some deity or magic from an unseen warlock, but knowing full well that it was meant as a boon for the humans and a bane to the Orcs.
A piercing wail from the darkness snapped everyone’s attention back to the moment. The Orcs parted and a serpentine creature crawled forward. A huge Orc sat astride it, coated in plate armor. Blood and gore still dripped from the spikes and blades protruding from various points on his armor. Gleaming red eyes almost glowed through the smile of the skull helmet. He held a thick staff in his left hand — the top of the pole passed through an almost complete circle of steel. A great, flat crescent blade painted white like the moon, streaked with blood from the battle reflected an eerie light that seemed to have no origin.
His deep grating voice suddenly spoke, “Show yourself sorcerer. Clearly you want to negotiate, otherwise you would’ve crushed my army by now with your water trick.” A silence fell and several moments passed as everyone anticipated the response.
Finally, a voice from the southern wall spoke, “You always had a flare for dramatic entrances.” All eyes turned to see Cirox-Thong standing upon the steps of the ruined south tower. A howl arose from the Orcs on the ground as several of them charged at the unarmed and unarmored man. Cirox tilted his head, keeping his eyes on the mounted Orc chieftain.
“I almost forgot,” he said, as he backed against the half-wall behind him, his hands appearing from beneath his cloak in preparation for the inevitable assault. The first two Orcs, brandishing axes, charged at Cirox together. He quickly slapped aside the axe of the first, almost knocking the attacker off of the steps and ducked under the second, letting the axe clang against the mortared wall. With a flick of the wrist, Cirox lashed out with a thrust to the throat of the second attacker. A gurgle and a gout of blood were the response. A steel edge shimmered as it withdrew from the orc’s wound.
Cirox winked at the Orc as it grasped its throat. “I came here to talk. I don’t want any trouble.”
The four Orcs waiting for their opportunity to engage the newcomer found a fight they were not ready for. A scimitar reached from beneath the stairs and disemboweled the first. The others roared and then lunged into the darkness, hoping to avenge their brother. Clangs rang out as they hit something hard — a round shield thrust from the shadow, shoving all of their weapons back.
Oshiah stepped forward, very boldly, and twirled his scimitar around in a graceful display. The twin faces on his shield seemed to mock the Orcs, one laughing and one crying, as their wounded companion slumped to his knees and then fell on his face.
“Persist and you’ll all die unnecessarily,” he said, hoping to bring an end to the attack.
Meanwhile, up above, Cirox’s foe regained his balance. As he turned, he whipped his axe around wildly, meeting only air once again. Coming up from a crouch, Cirox stuck the dumbfounded Orc with a hard el bow to the chin, knocking him from the stairs and onto the three now facing Oshiah.
The three Orcs scrambled to regain their feet, the fourth lay unconscious with broken teeth and a bleeding nose. Oshiah stood, shield in front, scimitar poised like a scorpion’s tail, waiting for their advance. The Orcs snarled and hissed, but held their ground. Oshiah’s pink eyes narrowed as he looked from foe to foe, determining which one would attack first, if any, and how. Suddenly, their mood shifted and they all backed away slowly.
From the shadow behind Oshiah, Wilgar stepped into the light. The ominous glow from the mace hanging from his right hand spooked the Orcs. The grim glare he cast reinforced Oshiah’s ultimatum.
As the three Orcs backed up, their Chieftain strode forward on his mount. The glistening blade of his weapon, showing the pride and power of the Crescent Moon Tribe, loomed overhead.
Wilgar stepped forward and presented himself, “I am Wilgar the Cleric, War Priest of Titane and I come to speak with you peacefully.”
“As you well know, I am Sorris Pale, Chieftain of the Crescent Moon. I am well within my rights to have you all beheaded this day.” Thick droplets of water hit the saddle all around the Orc Chieftain, a not-so-subtle reminder of the great wave hanging overhead.
Looking down at the wet spots on his saddle, the chieftain smiled and looked up to Cirox-Thong. “But I see no need for that. I will spare this town further ruin while you speak your words.” He spoke the human language quite well, despite the monstrous snarl of a mouth that defined the lower half of his face.