John W Partington
Suspend disbelief - have an adventure

An Elven Tale: Thorn's Quest

“Gotto Daythorn-Claymore, when go we Christrasters?” Nork asked the same question every evening. It was a reasonable question, considering the Worsh-Rachel had shrivelled to less than a tenth their original size. The Reavers that were left were stronger, swifter, and particularly smarter than their brethren. They were becoming impatient waiting for enlightenment.

Dathon was also tired despite the cool night air which he usually found refreshing. After ten days of skulking around the serf lands, pretending to be a journeyman mason, he hadn’t gotten any closer to the citadel than the outer fortress wall. Even then they hadn’t trusted him enough to allow admittance.

Masons, desperately needed for the fortification, were being rounded up by the dozen. It seemed that even children who could make a passable sand castle were pressed into service.

Dathon knocked the dirt from his tunic. He hadn’t gathered any useful intelligence, not anything they didn’t’ already know anyway. He hadn’t managed to assassinate Edmond, or any of the conspirers’ staff. The best he had don was confirm a few rumors first hand. Rumors that were too conciliatory to be anything other than fact. He had barely escaped the tavern the night before. His line of questioning had been a bit too obvious, and apparently treasonous. Dathon just wasn’t cut out to be a spy.

“Muk nosk greek muk mask. Muk garf nepak,” Dathon gave the answer he gave every night. Nork grunted acceptance. What Dathon said was true. That, of course, didn’t make the answer any more welcome.

“Chune corq uh gotto Leaf,” Dathon ordered, “Corg ugah pak gaff groo chune neep corq corq. Uh nek chune corg, gaff greep nepak moor. Warc gril monk Vier chune corg. Nok mak gaff mak chune corg, gaff nok chune corg. Traw chune warc grill un gotto Leaf chune chune traw moor, gaff nok chune corg.” Nork payed close attention to the string of words, and accompanying gestures that Dathon rambled off. Nork was an excellent messenger. Once he understood his duty he became an invaluable asset. He was stealthy and quick. It was also unlikely he would break under torture if captured, and even if he did Nork’s command of Barter tongue wasn’t good enough to betray any real information.

“Questions?” Dathon sighed. He knew what was coming.

“Greek uh gotto Leaf monk?” It was the second question Nork asked every evening.

“Groo chune porg uh gotto uh Oberon,” Dathon gave the same answer he always gave. Nork grunted acceptance without really understanding. Daythorn-Claymore was above Silk-Christrasters by right of marriage. While it was possible somebody was above Daythorn-Claymore, Nork didn’t understand the relationship that caused such an occurrence. Life had been easier in the caves simply waiting for the god to arrive. Nork never really expected he would be the prophet.

“Well, what have we got here?” a guttural voice bellowed in slurred barter tongue. Dathon recognized the accent. It was caused by working a thick, forked tongue around upturned tusks. Turning around Dathon was confronted by five of Vier’s half elf-war trolls.

Three of them stood seven feet tall, and had pitch black eyes. The fourth was eight feet tall with blazing red eyes. The final was nine feet tall, and had eyes the colour of daffodils. All had thick, corded muscles contained under taught, ebony skin. The bone spurs around their joints and on their limbs were augmented by steel breastplates and pot helms. The number of horns on the helmets of the two larger men only indicated their rank in a fashion more obvious than their size or the colour of their eyes.

Dathon realized at once it was not a patrol. They were not equipped with the grieves and bracers, or the halberds patrols used. No doubt they were going on duty, or coming off. Judging by the way they stood, all to one side instead of circling, and the malicious glint in their eyes, it seemed likely they had come off duty. Dathon had the misfortune to provide them with some after work fun.

“Just a journeyman on his way home after a long day’s work,” Dathon cast his eyes down in difference, while tightening his grip on the horseman’s mattock he held. The hammer would never cleave rock as well as a pick, but under casual observation the difference was small.

“A journeyman?” the tallest of the half-trolls asked.

“Yes,” Dathon replied.

“A mason?” the half-troll looked at the hammer and dust.

“Yes.”

“Out alone, after curfew, in a secluded wood off a little used path, speaking goblish?”

“I’m drunk,” Dathon slurred.

“You’re dead,” the officer smiled. He pulled a blade from a scabbard. A second later the broad head of an arrow slammed out the front of his throat.

The other half-trolls looked about for the archer, even as two more arrows found their marks. The red eyed sergeant turned to face Dathon while the remaining half-troll started to run away. Nork kicked the sergeant’s legs, sending the half-troll tumbling to the ground. Dathon took a few running steps, then lunged forward.

The hammer spun end over end as it was released. Then it slammed into the base of the escaping enemy’s neck. The head snapped forward as the vertebras were crushed. Dathon turned to help Nork, only to find the goblin sitting on the sergeant’s still chest. Nork was wiping his blade clean on the grass.

“You’re not a very good spy,” a familiar voice said from the darkness. “But you’re an excellent shot with a throwing hammer.”

“I was aiming for his waist, so we could take him alive,” Dathon replied as he started to tug on the leg of the dead half-troll. “Sellwin, help me move this meat.” The kobold appeared from behind a bush. One moment there was nothing, then next moment the near naked warrior was beside Dathon.

“Here,” Sellwin shoved a parcel of paper into Dathon’s belt as he grabbed the other leg. “These things are so heavy. It always surprised me how they manage to sneak up on you every time. With all their armour and weapons and such they weight close to half a ton each. You would think with all the noise they make…”

“Are you finished?” Dathon slumped to the ground, using a dead half-troll as a backrest. Sellwin sat beside him neatly snatching the apple Nork tossed from a dead half-troll’s backpack.

“You’re a lousy spy,” Sellwin mumbled around the apple.

“It’s your fault,” Dathon bit into another pilfered staple. “If you would just come forward then I wouldn’t have to pretend it was me getting all this information,” Dathon waved the parcel in the air. “What is this anyway?”

“Edmond’s battle plan to attack Cordoon in two weeks,” Sellwin replied. “I copied it after they all left.”

“Two weeks!” Dathon almost choked on his apple. “It’ll never get there in time. Nork,” Dathon tossed the goblin the package. “Chun nepak! Norf neep, norf neep!”

“Nork traw,” Sellwin called, the goblin chief teetering on the verge of a mad sprint. “He’ll never get there in time, even with fresh runners along the way. Besides, the plan will never work. There’s only one way into Cordoon unless the enemy goes underground. Which is unlikely. Even thuls would be smart enough to avoid taking on dwarves in their own mines. I suspect the plan is a fake. They’ve probably caught on to me. According to the plan the enemy forces attack from the rear after traversing the Dwarf Mountains. There’s no way they can do that short of divine intervention. You met Oberon. He seemed like a nice chap. It’s not like trolls can fly.”

        “Norf chune,” Dathon ordered. Nork started running north.

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