The horns sounded again. The dwarves immediately retreated, as did the orcs. Two death defying roars reverberated through the canyon, followed by the shrieks of smaller creatures. Two wingless wyverns were locked in deadly melee with a pack of raptors.
The orcs charged.
Daka roared. “Meat!!!”
Forte stood there stunned. He couldn’t believe that the orcs actually challenged raptors and wyverns without a trace of hesitation. These orcs were no humans… they were truly beasts of war. The orcs circled around the wyverns, driving them away with ritualistic grunts and ground stomps. The wyverns appeared confused and intimidated by the loud patterned ground thumping, and backed off slowly. Then the orcs faced the raptors and attacked two of them, leaving the rest of the pack to flee. Forte agreed with their strategy. Scaring away the beasts and only dealing with a few at a time was a good way of preserving their health.
The orcs managed to drive off the remaining pack of raptors, while hauling over two dead raptors to butcher for later on. Forte was equally impressed and mortified at the systematic slaughter of raptors with such ease, without even using fire. He thought of how powerful an orc force would be if unleashed in the human domains. Any king with an orc army would be completely unstoppable. Forte smirked.
They camped for the night. The orcs camped in the open, unafraid of any beasts. They were the hunters. Forte slept in the caravan, with an ease he had not felt for a long time. Nightmare snoozed besides him. Two dwarves out of the original twenty-four were killed last night, but there were no orc casualties.
Forte shuddered when he realized just how long the orcs and dwarves had been at war with each other. Their bloodshed was written into legend.
Vaun stirred a simmering broth in a black cauldron. He was in the town of Lievestrum, in a basement. He was brewing a slog poison, which could paralyze a slog for three hours via arrowtip. The potion and its ingredients were rare, but it was a highly sought after potion by rich families for their hunting trips to the western plains. Since his original capital gains with Forte of about 460 silvers, Vaun had bought potion ingredients and brewed difficult potions. He sold them to aristocrats and commoners alike, selling potions ranging from neurotoxins like the one he was brewing to tooth ache soothers. His original batch of ingredients costed 416 silver, which he turned into 582 silvers through hard work. Numerous batches later, and Vaun’s fortune had begun. He had a tidy sum of 1153 silvers.
Vaun thought of paying a visit to his father, but felt that it was too early. He was the bastard son of his father, a wealthy merchant, and a local whore. He’d go back once he was just as rich as his father. And plus, big, exciting events were happening in the kingdom. The neighboring kingdom of Halfast was mobilizing its army, prompting the kingdom of Rottheim to follow suit. Halfast and Rottheim fought a war around 8 years ago, to a bloody stalemate. Both sides were still eager to spill blood. The king ordered seizure of all mithril deposits, ores, bars, and trade centers throughout the kingdom, leading to several revolts. Certain city states in both the Rottheim kingdom and Halfast kingdom had already declared their independence, and were mobilizing their own armies. Interesting times were about to unfold.
Nightmare blinked. Forte was consulting with Daka, encouraging him with good eats to travel south with them. Daka eventually agreed, weighing heavily the possibility of delicious food in the future. Orcs were also nomadic by nature, and migration was nothing unheard of. Forte cooked another beef stew that night, and the clan began to move south.
Forte noticed that creatures and beasts were getting stranger and stranger as they moved further south. They seemed like warped, mutated versions of benign creatures in the human domains. He speculated that they were warped by continuous exposure over generations to residue of strong dark magicks. He smirked. They were headed in the right direction.
The orcs seemed more restless the further south they traveled, but they managed to stay happy and keep their food down. They did not encounter any more dwarven regiments on their journey so far.
Lush green forests were around everywhere the eye could see, but the flora and fauna had noticeable differences. Forte could’ve sworn that an oak tree had grown an eye, but convinced himself that it was his imagination. Leaves swirled instead of growing in normal fractals. There was more than the occasional three eyed hare. The kams in the south were darker than their northern brethren, and bigger. It wasn’t just the kams—every creature seemed slightly bigger.
Nightmare continued to grow bigger as well. Forte had gained a foot in the last few years and was a sturdy young teenager, but Nightmare had just outgrown him. The once infant dragon was now looking like a proper dragon. The orcs enjoyed the company of Nightmare, but always seemed to keep a safe distance.
Forte continued to practice his magic. He was becoming proficient in the usage of fire, and he could levitate a ball of water in the air for a minute now. He realized better magicians could use a smaller amount of stamina more efficiently than a novice magician.
From the corner of his eye, Forte spotted a butterfly. He remember the spell Jorhan had used against him all that time ago. Fryza.
“Fryza.” He whispered.
A small bolt of green energy shot from Forte’s fingers towards the butterfly. In an instant, his knees wobbled and he fell to the ground. Something was wrong. An inordinate amount of stamina left his arms and legs, and he lay there panting. The butterfly fell as if it were plucked from the sky. Forte let go of the spell, and to his amazement, the butterfly began flying as if nothing happened.
Panting, Forte reviewed what happened. He still could not figure out what the spell Fyrza was meant to do, but he knew that it was dangerous to try on bigger prey for now. Even using it on a butterfly nearly knocked him unconscious from the stamina drain. The spell was a bolt, that upon contact caused the butterfly to drop from the sky. However, when the spell ended, it resumed its flying, albeit looking a little strained. From that information, Forte speculated that the spell was some sort of stop command. He still couldn’t understand why that particular spell required so much stamina to pull off though.
The party was camped for the day, when the sound of a girl giggled could be heard. It sounded like children playing. The orcs looked uneasy, and Forte looked around quizzically. There could not be humans here, he thought. That would be impossible. But the girl did not sound like a dwarf either.
Daka grunted. “Elves.”
Realization hit Forte like a clap of lightning. Dwarves and orcs were not the only races of legend that escaped extinction. Elves.
Two girls, or what looked like girls with pointed ears and white hair, burst into the clearing. They looked horrified at the orc-human-dragon party, stopping their giggling and immediately running back. The sound of their screams rang through the entire twisted lush forest. Immediately, three elf guards appeared in the tree tops armed with notched bows. Two were female, one was male. The male elf signaled them back.
“Halt. Who passes through King Ivano’s domain? Name yourselves!” The male elf declared.
Forte stood up. “My name is Forte Mott, this is my dragon Nightmare, and these orcs here are my friends. We mean no harm.”
“Human find magic place. We go south. Human give orcs good eats. We no harm elfies.” Daka added.
The elf sneered. “As if I would ever trust an orc. The human may pass. Your kind is prone to evil, but a single human is no threat to us. And we have not seen one of you for such a long time… maybe it is time to put aside our prejudices between humans and elves. We are more alike than we are different. The orcs, however, must stay here. We cannot accommodate for orcs. As for the dragon… surely you jest. There are no dragons left in Varia. It is said that the last dragon, a green one named Asura, died in our city eight centuries ago.”
Nightmare held his head high and flew into the sky. He let out a bellow of red fire. The male elf screamed and dropped his weapon by accident.
“Do you believe me now?” Forte declared.
The two female elves helped up the male elf, as he regained his composure.
“We-we must report this to King Ivano at once. A dragon is alive! And not just any dragon, a black one! This is a good omen, a day to celebrate!” The male elf exclaimed. “Follow me. You may enter the city. Orcs, stay here. We will deal with you later.”
Forte was amazed to see Nightmare had gained the ability to breath regular fire. He left the orcs a stash of food for them to enjoy while he left. He and Nightmare followed the male elf, whose name was Leif. They meandered through the haunting but lush forest, and in the thick of the forest was a bustling elf city. Leif talked to a guard, who was speaking to Leif but could not take his eyes off of Forte and Nightmare. Elves of all sorts stared at the newcomers. Clearly they had not seen foreigners in their city in centuries.
The party entered the elven city of Istanbal.
Author's notes: What do you guys want to see in the elven city/elves in general?