Rogue Elements

The Standing Stone, Interlude

The orc’s red tongue slithered along the axe blade. “Tastes like dwarf” he hissed. Looking around and pulling air into his wide nostrils, he added “Smells like elf, too. Not gone long. Maybe can catch.”

It was half of a question, directed at the tall chieftain who was still examining the gutted corpse of his best warrior. Like the first speaker, he bore the same brand in his flesh – a circle with a lightning bolt through it – but his supremacy over the others was proved by the scarification running across, and destroying, his left eye. Standing, he tossed away the broken vines and roots he had scooped up. “Druid, too” he spat. “Elf cowards.”

Another orc ran into the room, bearing the same circle and line scars to mark its loyalty, but bedecked in wolf skulls and bones and daubs of ochre to set it apart as a shaman. “Stone not here, Vozh” he said, returning a shard of glowing rock to a pouch on his belt. Now the priest and the taster looked expectant. “Maybe they take,” said the taster, his hands tightening around the hilt of his scimitar, his red tongue flicking over his lips. Behind him, the chieftan could sense his two other two soldiers – the enormous, brutish females who formed, with the dead axewoman, his front-line force of bezerker warriors – growing equally tense with bloodlust.

“We follow” growled Vozh, with all the menace needed to remind his underlings he was boss. “We watch. We do not kill.”

Wiping his hands clean of the blood of his fallen comrade, the chieftain pulled the growl into a sneer, and added: “Not yet.”

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