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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Dec 2011 at 21:46
"It went better than I expected," Tullim said tiredly as he and Emmit parted ways. He walked over to Rhaga, "and I wouldn't put it past Mylmo to be planning something, but more will live than would before."

"Strange," Rhaga said, "that they give up their lives so freely."  Tullim thought the Orc sounded somewhat disappointed. "I had always been raised on stories of how humans fought like wolves when cornered. And yet, now I find you cowering like starving dogs. 

It is strange to think that we feared something so pathetic."

Mylmo stalked over to them. "Hold yer tongue, Orc," his eyes moved to the nearest wagon, and Tullim realized, to his shame that they had been speaking loud enough to be heard. 

Tullim moved to apologize, but Mylmo's hand forced him short. "Don't. Not you, old man. Not anymore. There are no words that deserve the ignomity of your voice at this moment." 

The friar glared at him. "Better yet, I suggest you learn the Black Speech; it will serve you better with your new masters." He bowed mockingly to the Orc. "M'lord. I'd best see to the preparations."

***

Shae stirred restly on the wagon. "But why? Why on earth would they ever agree to such a thing?" She struggled to sit upright, but she felt feverish and tired in the chill. "And I can't believe Prelate Tullim would consent to this."

Harry gave a laugh "'Him? T'were his idea. Said better we live than die."

"You don't sound sure," Pete said, gripping Shae's hand as he protested her attempts to get up, "Ah, love, there's no reason to stir so...just take it easy-like."

"Tosh if there isn't!" Shae said, shrugging him off.  "I did not drag my bony, white arse across the ice to ring that bell just so he can bargain our lives away."

" 's no way for the bethrothed of an officer to talk, Sae." Harry said, giving her a wink, while Pete turned pink.

Shae turned on him ."You told. Damn you, Peter, you told." 

Harry laughed as she swatted the lad on his ear. "Ow, quiddit! I thought I was going to die, love. And I only told my best mate!" The three giggled for a moment before sobering.

"Y'know, what I'd really like is to get my hands on that boy....the one that'd done poor Anrik in." Harry said, watching the human boy Ori walking alongside his kobold. "Just give me two minutes alone with him, and I'd slice 'im good."

"Easy," Pete said, "You'd have a easier time swaying the Mountain," he gestured to where Mylmo was stalking towards them.

"I might," Harry said thoughtfully, "I just might, at that...."

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Feb 2012 at 08:52
"No, Harry."

Mylmo crossed his arms, his back turned to the orcs. He looked the smaller man in the eye. "...we might get a dozen of them. But more than a dozen of the women and children would go down first. "

Harry growled. "We can't just stand here, Brother. Do ye honestly think they'll keep their word?"

Mylmo spat to the side. "No, damn you; I don't. I think we will be lucky if half of us do not find our way to their dinner table tonight."  He shifted so that the wind carried his words away from the orcs. "But it doesn't have to be like that. Not if we can get most of us up to the monastery."

Pete whistled. 

The men looked over to see an orc sentry headed in their direction; they started walking down the line of wagons as if Mylmo was explaining the orc's demands.

"I have oil stored there, and black powder too - enough to bring all of Circlet down around them, may the Lady rot their bones," Mylmo said, "but it's impossible for me to leave the others now."

"I'll stay, and keep an eye on them," a voice called down from the nearest wagon. "I'm useless otherwise, anyway." Shae clambered down to stand next to them.

Harry looked over at Pete, who looked positively ill. "I appreciate the thought, lass, but I cannae leave them," Mylmo said. 

Harry surprised himself by saying "Pete and I will stay with her. And we can explain to the others that you didn't abandon them, if that's what you're worried about."

Mylmo looked at the three of them. "It would be easier; I know where the barrels are hidden," he conceded, "...but you'll have to promise not to stir up trouble - they have to think they've won." He grabbed Harry gruffly by the shoulder. "Promise me."

Harry nodded. 
 

   


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2012 at 15:24
Long time coming! The suspense is still building. ^^
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Feb 2012 at 18:13
Deep within the city, the Eater awoke.

Old-Mother Redbones, they called her now.

Before the usurper came, they had chanted her first-name; her true-name. Her line had been unbroken for eleven generations, before the She-Wolf came. 

Lashka. Even now, the Old-Mother had to resist the urge to scream. The gods had tested the Old-Mother twice now. They had made her as barren as the winter in the north, but her people had still loved her.  Until Lashka came, it had been her the Harim revered. 

Ushka-lai, they had chanted, our beloved Ushka. Now they gave her the bones of the dead to pick over, and expected her to be grateful. Well, so be it, my children - you may worship your painted lie, but the old gods still listen to me. They listen to me.

Away, away....they sang to Ushka as she slept, the false queen is away. Now is the time to take back what is yours... 

Her kobolds skittered around her. Her revenge would be bitter, it would be unkind. But it would be hers.

"Bring me the skull of the Ancient," she commanded. The kobolds squealed in terror, they hid their faces, but they were sworn to obey. They were Lashka children now, but they still belonged to Ushka. 

They brought the gilded skull to her. Harim, Ushka thought reverently as she turned it so that the eye sockets faced away and downwards. Ushka held her wrist up to her mouth, and bit deeply enough that the blood began to flow.   

"I invoke ashkur'maht, as the last of the line that came before," Ushka chanted,  "I invoke ashkur'mat in the name of Uruk, our ancient All-Chief."

No! The kobolds cried as one, You mustn't! "

Ushka ignored them, tilting the skull so that her blood flowed from her ancestor's foramen magnum into her mouth in the ancient blood-rite of the generations. "I invoke ashkur'maht as the Eater of Bones, as the keeper of all blood-rites, as the Mother-of-War: 

I am Ushka,
Daughter of Margh, 
Who slew one and twenty of the Elvish lords of the Northern Forests
Daughter of Uush, Dwarf-bane
Daughter of Pashk Great-Mother; first Horde-Mother, 
Who had thirty-and-nine sons who went to war and none returned.
daughter of Aggo,  
son of Khal, 
son of Rhuga Younger-brood, 
Who drove his brother Ruatha Traitor-Born out, 
son of Harim.

In their names, in the line unbroken, I claim the right, and call on the people to rise up," she felt decades younger. This was the most ancient rite of passage that had been passed down through the tribe since they had been wandering marauders.

Askur'maht, in the Old-Tongue. 

Exodus.  


 



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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Mar 2012 at 05:22
Perhaps it was the way his wolf trembled - a sense transmitted kinetically, but all the same he knew.

"Something's not right," Urgho whispered.

Lashka held up a warning hand. "Get me Murghat the Seer."

Urgho whistled, and his riders fanned out. The humans looked at them distrustfully, but they moved aside fearfully as the orcs made their way among them. 

Foot soldiers clambered into the human wagons, separating out the young and the weak, collecting iron and quivers and bows.

"C'mon you saltwags," one of the orc sergeants cried out. The humans looked murderous, but they complied. 

Lashka closed her eyes. She listened to the wind as it bent the tops of the tall pines and tried to ignore the ache in her bones. She inhaled. "Murghat."

A wizened kobold dropped down from the branches. "Horde-Mother," he said warily, "You sent for me?"

"Tell me. What do the bones say?"

"Let me see." Murghat spilled the contents of a small leather pouch into the snow. He hissed, spat onto the ground. "Nothing."

Lashka smiled. "Good - Urgho," she called out, "Let's get them back to the town."

"Lashka," Murghat said. She ignored him. "Lashka." He tugged at the fur-lined hem of her cloak.

Lashka growled. "How dare you!" She kicked at him with her boot. "I am your Mother!"

Murghat bowed. "Forgiveness. But Lashka does not understand. There is nothing. The bones do not speak because the bones are no longer tied to the land."

Lashka seethed. To address her so familiarly, as a mate would; she should kill him.

"What do you mean? Tell me, seer...." The ache in Lashka's bones twisted like a hot knife and she gasped. She grabbed the front of the seer's leather tunic. "Tell me."

"Ashkur'maht," Murghat whispered and spat again, "Ashk Harim has called for ashkur'maht, my Mother-No-Longer."

Lashka shuddered. She imagined she could feel the ground trembling as the entire city of Ashk Harim moved, could hear the iron horns that had not been sounded in a thousand years roiling across the valley. Her bowels felt loose and watery. Rune-sickness, the seers called it: the magical aftereffect of having one's earth-hold ripped away in an instant. 

She was a casualty of the blood-magic, now; homeless without a people.She had miscalculated Ushka. Badly. 

Ushka, I will find you, and eat your heart; I promise you.

She looked at the men. Her eyes stung. "How long until they abandon me?"

Murghat shook his head. "I do not wish this. But I must tell them, Mother-That-Was. I am honor-bound."

"Yes," she said, "I know." Her hand moved too fast for him to follow; Murghat fell forward into the snow, his neck a gaping ruin. 

It is too late for peace; now is the hour of sacrifice. She had truly liked the old seer. But this was necessary.

"Murghat!" she cried, leaping from her saddle to cradle his body. Her orcs moved instinctively to protect her.

She wiped the blood away from Murghat's mouth. "The humans are false with their words," she said, "treachery is their only coin; they have killed the seer."

Lashka looked out among the faces of her orcs, who would not question her until she found Urgho. His eyes alone refused to meet hers, but then he nodded.

Lashka gently lowered Murghat to the ground. 

"Kill them. Kill them all."







  


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