Sunday, December 27, 2015
The Hill Giant Chief - Nosnra's Saga - part 138
"Leaving!" Talberth cried. "We can't, there is too much here."
"Talberth, the danger outweighs the reward," Telenstil explained calmly. "We have rested, somewhat at least, now it is time for us to move on."
"We can't," Talberth waved his hand about trying to summon up the words that would convince them but he could find none, "I can't."
"Will you abandon us?" asked Telenstil.
"No, no," Talberth. "Of course not." The mage squared his shoulders. "But here, this place, it may contain magics that would destroy the giants completely."
"There is power here, yes," said Telenstil,"and I do not know. You could be right, but look around, the power is not ours to control."
"If we spent the time we could control the power," Talberth slapped his fist, "I know it."
"I am sorry Talberth," said Telenstil, "I do not agree. We will gather our packs and go. Come everyone, I wish that there had been more time for us to rest but we need to leave here now."
"It will still be dark out," Harald said.
"Better to be outside in the dark than in here any longer," Telenstil replied.
"I'll go see what it is like out there," the ranger volunteered.
"No," Telenstil shook his head. "No, we go together."
"Telenstil, a little scouting won't hurt." said Harald.
"It will no doubt help," said Telenstil, "it has helped, but not so far ahead. We will face what lies in wait for us together. Our strength is greatest only when we are not divided."
It was Harald's turn to shake his head, but he did not press his objections further.
* * *
"How is he?" Harold asked.
The halfling knelt beside Little Rat and watched the slow rise and fall of the orc's chest.
"Healed. Sleeping now," smiled Gytha.
"I brought your pack," said Harold, "you heard?"
"I heard," she yawned. "This one will need to rest, we will need someone to carry him. Where are the others?"
The halfling looked at her with a quizzical expression. His eyes widened and he slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand. "The orcs!"
"Could they have escaped?" Gytha asked.
"I'd better go find Telenstil," Harold rose quickly, he scanned the room trying to decide where the elf had gone.
"Ask Harald to come here," Gytha called after him as the halfling took off at a run, "he needs to carry..." but Harold was already out of sight. Gytha busied herself with her pack, it contained little enough. With her horse and main supplies destroyed by the giants, the small bag she had brought with her on the raid of the steading was all that she had left. she would need to call upon the Saint's bounty for mere sustenance if they could not manage to supply themselves and this Gytha hated to do.
They'd taken hide pelts from the giants' hall and made crude sacks and cloaks from them. Beef cut from the body of giant cows, a herd slaughtered by magic bolts, filled some of the hide bags. The meat, blackened by fire, was wrapped in uncured leather, but it would not last. Already it had begun to decay, in a day the green rot would take hold if they could not spare the time to cook or cure the meat and then they would be left only with the crumbs of hard rations in the bottoms of their packs.
The smell from the hide sack she carried made Gytha wrinkle her nose and beside her Little Rat did the same. His eyes opened and he pushed himself up on his elbows. A long tongue licked thin lips and he yawned.
"Hungry," the young orc said. "What smell good?"
* * *
They looked like balls of fur, no sign of head, or legs, or even life. The gibberlings carpeted across the floor of the passage, they were mere pups, but they would claw and bite if even the tiniest spark of life remained. Light was the only thing they feared. A torch would make them cower and run, and brighter light would freeze them in their tracks, drop them into motionless huddled shapes that would not move to save their lives.
Ivo and Telenstil were the last to leave. The elven mage had sent the others ahead to wait by the opening that had been clawed through the ceiling by the pack of gibberling adults. There had been forceful words spoken to Talberth, the young wizard hemmed and hawed and dragged his feet, not wanting to leave his friends, but desiring to stay and explore the ancient ruin. At the last Talberth turned his back on the chamber of pillars and monstrous golems then marched sullenly away.
"Look at them, the wee beasts," said Ivo.
"Amazing," nodded Telenstil in agreement. "At a different time I would stay here with Talberth and explore."
"I'd send for my cousins back home and look through this place properly," Ivo chuckled. "The things you find when you can't do anything about them. It reminds me of when I was young, long time ago now," He held a torch in his hand and lowered it to a pile a sticks and rags as he spoke. The flame leapt and danced among the tinder bursting into a blaze then dying low. "That should hold them." said Ivo. He left the torch atop the fire and retrieved a magic stone from the floor. "Don't want to leave this behind."
"We had best join the others," Telenstil said wistfully.
As Ivo put the magic stone away, placing it back within a metal sphere that he snapped shut with a loud click, the hall dimmed. Instantly the gibberling young began to move. Those furthest from the fire were partially hidden from its light. Some disappeared back into the pillared hall, most shifted but the flickering light from the fire was enough to hold them still. Ivo and Telenstil beat a hasty retreat down the passage and rejoined the rest of their companions. The fire would burn for some time, more than long enough for all of them to escape back to the forested hills above.
* * *
"There you are!" Ghibelline was the first to see their approach.
"Is everyone ready?" Telenstil asked.
"As we will ever be," answered Gytha. "Harald has been arguing with his little twin the whole time. We are going to abandon the orcs?"
"It is too late for them, as I said," Talberth spoke sharply.
"But did you see them..." Gytha went on.
"They wouldn't have survived, I wouldn't have either if I hadn't known the words to say and the language to say them in," Talberth replied. "They're gone."
"Let us be off then," said Telenstil. "Harald, can you climb up, is the rope in place?"
"I told you," the ranger said. He seemed to speak to all the others at once. "I can climb it, but I've been waiting here. Gytha insisted."
"She was right," Telenstil said quickly before Gytha could reply. The elf felt the tension which radiated from one to another. They had not found rest within the ancient ruins, and leaving it seemed to have brought out the strain that their flight from the giants' hall had set upon them. "I want us to stay together and not to break off into smaller groups or disappear one by one," he looked at each of them. "Harald you are our scout, but more caution is needed, and that means lesser distance."
"A scout is best left on his own," said Harald. "What good can I do if we all walk into a trap together?"
"Any warning will be of a help," Telenstil replied. "We will face any traps together, and our strength combined will overcome them. If a trap takes you, as this place almost did, then you will not be able to help us. I know you are used to scouting for your wildland patrols, but this is different, we are not scouts or soldiers, and we do not wish to lose you even to save ourselves."