A Day Like Any Other, part 1

"The clash of weapons would have been deafening anywhere, but in the main courtyard of Madrhem, home of the Order of the Ram, it was constant.  Templars squared off against each other and against the younger orcs hoping to one day be called templars, with the occasional heavy crash of a heavily-armored body striking the dirt floor sounding whenever one orc managed to get the better of another.

The courtyard itself was impressive enough.  The walled fortress had been built with the singular purpose of enclosing this area, leaving the ground as dirt, with only a few cobbles laid to mark off each separate little sparring arena.  As huge as the open area was, most of it was dominated by wood; a massive tree trunk rising up through the center of the fortress, leaving the sparring arenas shaded even at midday.  The Order of the Ram could not have asked for a more fitting home than Ysil, the Worldwood.  It helped keep the new recruits properly in awe during their early training, at least.

A crow flew from one of the windows in the stone walls surrounding the yard, flitting down to land on the ground before one particularly finely-armored orc.  The ram's skull built into his helmet and curving horns engraved on his pauldrons had the nicks and scratches of dozens of battles on them, but the orc wearing the proud armor had few scars to show for his experience.  He rose silently, the crow taking that as the sign its message was understood and flitting back through the window as the orc turned and strode through the nearest doorway.

The halls inside Ysilheim were slightly cooler than was comfortable, but deliberately so to keep the orcs slightly on-edge at all times, ready to react instantly to trouble.  The orc moved through the stone passages with the casual ease that came from years of familiarity.  He ventured lower and lower through the stronghold, occasionally passing one of Ysil's great roots where it had grown and dislodged the stone walls that the Order had built around and between them.

He heard voices coming from ahead before he reached his goal, stepping into a room lit by brightly-burning torches, the walls made entirely of the wood of Ysil's roots where they'd naturally grown to create the dozen square feet of open space.

A quartet of orcs turned to face him as he entered, two of them in armor, the other pair in much lighter attire.  It was one of the armored orcs who addressed him first, speaking in a heavily guttural voice. 

"Welcome Varkof, eitar of the Ram."

Varkof bent his upper body forward a bit as he was addressed by his formal title, eyes remaining open and alert, as was tradition in the Order.  His own voice was unusually high in pitch for an orc of his stature, though it was still deep by any other standard. 

"Thank you Elrek, herto of the Ram.  There is a task that the Order requires my services for?"

One of the unarmored orcs stepped forward then.  He was older, a spokesperson for one of the groups of the less militant orcs who supported the Order.

"The most recent shipment we attempted to send to Borojheim never arrived.  The messenger they sent to inform us also never made it back to Borojheim.  We have all agreed that there is someone waylaying them along the way."

Varkof narrowed his gaze.

"The Tribe of Mork has been getting brave."

Elrek nodded his head, his stern expression matching Varkof's.

"They have. You will take your warriors and remind them to fear earning our ire. Go to Borojheim.  Kill any you find waiting on the path."

The eitar gave another open-eyed bow before turning and striding silently from the room."

by Brian Nelms

A Day Like Any Other, part 2 >