Elder Players' - Interlude Five - Oren
I will be posting the e-mails I receive between the May game and the July D...D game, regarding Oren when they are appropriate for the whole group to read:
(from Mark) OREN'S CAPTURE - Oren felt guilty. He had given up in order to save his life. He had surrendered to his enemies. This pain was much greater than the pain caused by the bindings the orks had put on his wrists and ankles. Oren was laying on his side in the courtyard of Widow's Grove, just outside the smashed in door of the Blacksmith's shop. A few feet away the smoldering bodies of Gremage and Collin lay upon the flagstones. Across the courtyard, Kerbach's body lay bloodied. Oren choked a bit on the rag the orks had stuffed in his mouth for a rag.
That is when Oren saw an ork stoop down over Collin with a strange metal device in his hand. The ork cut away Collin's shirt sleeve, and scooped a chunk of flesh from his arm. All that was left was a hole...much like the holes in Kerbach's and Gremage's arm. Oren realized that this was Fedden! The ork looked up from his bloody work and smiled at Oren. "You're next my little friend...."
The ork/Fedden walked over and knelt down next to Oren. Oren began squirming around and trying to yell out to the real orks, but all that came out were muffled sounds. Fedden scooped a ball of flesh from Oren's arm, and then whispered in Oren's ear. "How many stunted little Dwarf bodies can Gorin grow with this sample? One? Two? Two hundred?!?" Oren stopped struggling and closed his eyes. When he opened them again in a few minutes, Fedden was no where to be seen.
Oren lay like that on his side for what seemed like half-an-hour. That is when he heard the loud voice screaming so loud it hurt his ears. "WHICH ONE OF YOU STUPID BASTARDS DID THIS! WHO BOUND THIS DWARF LIKE THIS! WHICH ONE OF YOU DAMNIT!" Oren looked up and saw that the Priest of Lightning was standing over him. Vikos had an ork by the collar in each hand, and had lifted them up onto their toes. "WHO DID THIS?!?"
One of the orks whispered, "Sergeant Cud...."
Vikos dropped the two orks and stormed away. "Unbind him and ungag him. He is our captive...for now. I will have him treated correctly. The orks saluted Vikos and set about unbinding Oren. Oren rubbed his skin where the bindings had tightly bound him. A few minutes later Vikos returned and asked Oren to accompany him back to the ork camp. Oren was exhausted, and still bleeding in a few spots. "We'll have a healer tend to you and get you some chow. I apologize for the bindings. Compared to the orks where I'm from, these are a fairly honorable breed...but they are still a little rough around the edges." Vikos gruffly laughed and put a hand on Oren's shoulder to steady him.
As they exited the gates of Widow's Grove together, Oren was surprised to see an ork lying on the ground, bound and gagged, much as he had been. Oren looked up at Vikos with a questioning look in his eye. Vikos laughed gruffly again. "Sergeant Cud...learning a lesson."
Oren was surprised to see that many of the orks, besides the red spearhead symbol, were wearing crude lightning bolt symbols upon the clothing. "Priest, may I ask you a question?" Vikos nodded. "What of the lightning symbols on the orks? Don't orks worship Grummish?"
Vikos patted the axe on his side. "Tobin is not afraid of other gods. He will take any and all that respect his power...and seek vengeance. It appears that in these past few days with these orks, I have won a few converts to my god!"
Upon arriving back at Vikos' blue and yellow campaign tent, Vikos held back a flap and welcomed Oren inside. The floor was littered with thick carpets, the walls hung with fine cloth, and there were tables of warm food. Vikos motioned for Oren to be seated on a pile of pillows near one of four fires within the huge tent. "I must help Jack Skull oversee the actions of these orks in relation to the townspeople. I will send healer to tend to you shortly...eat...rest. I hope I can trust you to not try to escape?"
Oren looked up, and in a weak voice answered, "For now Lightning Priest. For now...." And Oren fell fast asleep.
When Oren awoke, it was dark outside. His wounds had been clean and bandaged. Vikos' campaign tent was full of orks...all of them feasting and drinking, and offering up loud toasts to each other. Towards the center of the tent stood a rather large ork, in finer armor than any he had ever heard of an ork to wear. On the large ork's right was the skeleton man...Jack Skull? On the large ork's left was Vikos, an overly large mug clutched in his hands. Upon seeing that he was awake, the large ork and Jack Skull approached Oren. In turn Oren stood up, and straightened his clothing.
"I am Grotten Redfang...Commander of this army. Reading the documents we were provided by Javair of the Lost, it appears that you were not present at the time of the Kobold massacre. I have decided to treat you as a witness...and not as a criminal. Though do not mistake my hospitality, you will be taken to the Azure Keep to speak with Javair, and perhaps shed more light on this horrible situation."
Oren nodded, "Commander, which of my friends lived and died. Who else do you hold captive?"
Grotten looked to Jack Skull, who answered for him. "Collin the singer and Gremage the soulless one are clearly dead. We secured proof of this for Javair, and we allowed the townspeople to bury their bodies as they saw fit. Zeek of the wilds is missing, as is Kerbach the grasslander. We have scouts out looking for them. I have information from Javair that Kit the dark elf is headed back to Greenmark, and that Javair plans to handle that sitution himself. Sorry about your comrads...we had hoped to take all of you captive alive...but that was not to be."
Grotten snorted. "Some hoped your fellow adventurers would live...I did not share in this view. You were not present at the slaughter...so I cannot hold that against you. But to be frank with you, when Meepo arrived at our doorstep and told us the story...I immediately readied my armies to come after the Marked Ones and kill them. I was more than willing to trade an eye for an eye, and one slaughter for another. My armies were already on the move when I received a rare communication from the Goblin Queen...."
"She said that Dutton Hobbs had returned to the land, playing the old songs and carrying his magical harp. She said that the Azure Kingdom would thaw, and that a new Azure King was mounting the throne. And finally she implored me to listen to this new lord, and to work with him to bring peace to this land. At first I resisted and told myself that I did not owe the Goblin Queen, Dutton Hobbs, or anyone else any favors. But then Jack Skull here, and his friend Vikos appeared before me out of thin air. They brought a message from this new Lord of the Azure Keep...and it was a message of peace and rebuilding. Human and Demi-Human working together to make this Kingdom a better place. Much like it was during the rule of the last Azure King."
"To tell the truth, in my mind I had signed on to follow the advice of these men and Goblin Queen, far before they even offered me payment. But payment only served to sweeten our cooperation. I agreed to do what I could to capture you and your friends, and return you to the Azure Keep to answer for what you did to those Kobolds. I agreed to not outright slaughter the Marked Ones. But in the end, there was no dealing with these adventurers. They sought death over all else. And it is death they found."
Oren was deep in thought, trying to take this all in. The thoughts in his mind were rapid fire and confusing. "Javair did not send this army after the Marked Ones? He sought only to divert them from the task of slaughtering us outright? Who was this Javair, and why did he side with these Demi-Humans?" Oren could not remember when he had encountered orks before, but it seemed to him that he had in the distant past. These orks were more honorable and organized than the orks Oren had known....
Oren's knew he would have much time to think over these things on the way to the Azure Keep. "Jack Skull. General Redfang. I was not pleased to learn of the death of the kobolds, myself. But I am even more upset at the death of my friends. I will travel with you to the the Azure Keep, but I must warn you that I mean to take up with the Javair the issue of the nature of this assault on the Marked Ones. As well as the great loss I have suffered."
Grotten smiled. "The tone in your voice reminds me of the tone in Meepo's voice. It is hard to see loved ones violently perish at the hands of another...."
Jack Skull put his bony hand on Oren's shoulder and guided him away from Grotten. In his deep raspy voice Jack said, "Oren, you need food...and wine, and most of all some time to think about all that has transpired! Let us eat!"
A Dream for Oren
(This segment also appears in the Interlude: The Dead section of the website)
Oren, arm in arm with Redfang took another swig of the expensive brandy. "You know" he thought, "these Ork's aren't so bad. When I see my father, I shall tell him to go easy on these orks...for they have been fair to his son! All Redfang had asked for was a little understanding. He suggested that the way I felt about my friends being dead, was much like he felt when he'd heard the Kobolds, and Yusdrayl had been slaughtered. It almost sounded like Redfang had know Yusdrayl...as if they had history of some sort?
Oren had been mad the second he heard about the slaughter. He had been late in arriving at the dungeon, and had seen the dead kobolds...women, children, and the old...being eaten by giant rats at the entrance to the Sunless Citadel. Oren had yelled at the party, and pointed out the folly of the slaughter the second he became aware of it. What the hell could the party have been thinking? Kerbach, so thoughtless and insulting to both Oren and Vax, he had begun the battle during negotiations. But it had not been without some egging-on by other party members. Oren was sure of that. Those Kobolds hadn't threatened anybody; they just kept to themselves. Fighting their little war with the Goblins. Sure the kobolds had killed goblins...and the goblins had killed kobolds, but what did the party have to do with any of that? Perhaps the party had judged the kobolds as quickly and as harshly as they had judged Vax...
Oren pulled himself up on his cot holding his head in his hands. He was still in the dank supply tent. He could see the shadow of his guards beyond the tent flap. Everyone had been so jovial at the feast. They all wanted to be his friend, but here he was alone. Clearly the guards would not let Oren leave...what had they called him...a witness. Who s fault was that? That damned Kerbach and his warrior s temper. He had persecuted Oren and Vax, began the slaughter of the Kobolds, and had insisted the party stand and fight the ork army...along with Collin. Oren had listened to them, and in the end Vax...good old faithful Vax, had come to Oren s rescue. Where was Vax? Oren hadn t seen him since his capture.
And that smell. What the hell was that smell? He padded around the tent, nose in the air like some overgrown bloodhound. It must be that big bag hanging on the tent's center pole. Opening the bag he was sure of it. What could be in here, he'd heard Orcs ate some pretty rank cheese but this was a little much. It was dark in the tent and peering inside Oren couldn't make out what was in the bag. He reached inside and felt something round, pulling it out he spasmed in revulsion and fear, dropping the thing to the ground. It was Collin's head!
The soot stained head opened it's eyes and looked up at Oren, a grimace creasing its brow. "Bloody hell, Oren! Why'd ya 'ave to go and do that for? It's not like I don't have no feeling ya know. Well... technically I guess I don't. But it damn sure looked like it would'a been an ugly bruise if I 'ad any. Yer jumpiness wouldn't have anything to do with the company you been keepin these days now would it? You've been mighty friendly with the sugar-tongued lackeys of a lying Warlord. Yes, I know you've 'ad some doubt about it all yourself. I'da not blame ya lad."
"Just keep your 'ead up. I'm sure more than you as been taken in by the likes of that self anointed Prince. Not from the Azure, but seems to think e can run the place. Either convincing Green and Dunmit to go along or coercing em! I've not much love for either of em either way. Willing to sell out their own kin without so much as a, what were you thinkin lad! And Javair! Sending an Orc army to do 'is dirty work. Says he was 'eadin it off from just coming to kill us. If it'd be justice he'd be wantin' 'e could o' got here ahead of the mob and got us into Greenmark to 'ear our side o' the story. These lying devils as you've got bending your ear here, this so called Priest, parading around with the walking dead and an Orc who'd only see justice for 'is own kind. If they'd a wanted to take the Marked Ones alive all they'd 'ad to do was wait for word from Greenmark. At's all it would a takin for us to surrender. It was only a day down the road but instead they choose to take blood instead. If we're guilty of anything in this 'ole mess it's bringing those good people into our fight. For that I'm sure I'll pay. If not in this life then in the next."
"But enough of these angry words and depressing talk. I'm 'ere to prop your spirits Oren. Remember our brotherhood. We've truth to stand on, and be it enough or nay, for justice to be served it's not our place to judge. Always remember that in the mortal veil to which I hope to return or the shadows of Gellhorn, I'll sing of ye fondly. And be a good lad and mind me 'ead! I'll be needin it if I'm to return properly."
Oren woke with a start when the head winked at him. Thank god, it had all been a dream, he thought. Too much wine and food and to little sleep he'd had these last few days. Sinking back into the soft pillow he hoped it wasn't to close to daybreak. He could use a couple more hours sleep. That damned Collin, always talking nonsense when he was alive...now he s dead and he s crept into my dreams! Chattering on and on about Javair and the orks, Vikos and Jack Skull. Perhaps it my own doubts haunting me...or perhaps the dreams were a result of that smelly ork cheese he had eaten. Either way, it is time to sleep. Turning over he wrinkled his nose and wondered, what was that smell?
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