Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 1

This is a piece I wrote an embarrassingly long time ago. I recently ‘refound’ it in a corner of my hard drive and decided to share. So, for the next week or so, please enjoy ‘The Rescue of What’s-Her-Name.’



The sun was just reaching its zenith when the party found the edge of a large clearing. The group paused, as the wood-elven ranger knelt on the soft grass, studying the tracks before him. The others, all seasoned adventurers, fanned out in a defensive perimeter, save for a young half-elven woman who stood idly, twiddling with the hilt of her obviously brand-new sword.

“Tamra,” said a human, whose holy symbol marked him as a cleric. “Stand over there.” He gestured to a small clump of trees.


“Because there might be orcs about.”

“What’s an orc?”

To the left of the cleric, a colossal barbarian wrapped head to toe in furs and carrying an immense battle-axe sniggered. “She doesn’t know what an orc is!”

“Give her a break, Lars,” said a halfling from behind a bush. “It’s her first time.”

“Maybe I should give you a break, Bobbin? Like maybe your head?”

Everyone turned to glare at Lars.

“Calm down, Lars,” said another human, dressed in the robes of a wizard and spinning a wand between his fingers. “You were a noob once too.”

Lars looked around at his companions, and then folded his arms and began pouting. The cleric motioned Tamra over. “Okay,” he said. “Orcs are these big, dumb, ugly brutes with bad hygiene, not unlike Lars. There are generally lots of them, but they’re no real problem. Just follow everybody else’s lead and it’ll be fine.” He slipped his arm around her waist. “Having fun, honey?”

She shrugged. “It’s okay.”

“Are we ready?” asked the ranger, who was waiting by the edge of the clearing.

“Sure, Rallis. Sorry.” The cleric gave the half-elf a peck on the cheek and then everyone gathered around Rallis.

“Okay,” said the wood elf as he knelt and indicated the tracks before him. “Definitely orcs, a few days old, maybe twenty of them. They brought a cart through here, lightly loaded. These are probably the ones we’re looking for. Let’s skirt the west edge of the wood and see if we can find their village.”

“Sorry, but why are we out here again?” Tamra asked.

“Orcs ambushed and kidnapped the local lord’s daughter,” Rallis explained. “We’re supposed to get her back.”

Lars groaned. “I don’t wanna sneak around all day. Let’s just find them and kick their butts!”

“If it’s a whole village,” said the mage. “An entirely different set of butts is going to get kicked.”

“Maybe me an’ Rallis should scout or something?” said Bobbin.

“Eric - er, I mean Coryn,” Tamra said, tapping the cleric on the shoulder.

“Yes, dear?”

“Are those orcs?” she asked, pointing off into the clearing.

Everyone turned to see some thirty-odd orcs emerging from the opposite side of the clearing. The leader wore a resplendent headdress of gold and red feathers and carried a long, intricately carved staff with what looked like skulls dangling from it. He gestured and with a shout, the warriors began sprinting across the glade, their barbed spears and cruel, hooked swords glinting in the afternoon sun.

“Cool!” said Lars, as he threw off his fur cloak.

“Oh man!” the halfling said. “They’ve got a shaman.”

“All right,” said Rallis, as he nocked an arrow. “Defensive postures!” Lars immediately rushed to the front, almost knocking the elf over, just as the halfling rushed to the rear. “Hold it!” Rallis said. He stepped into the clearing. “Hey, give us a minute to get arranged!” he shouted to the orcs, who obligingly stopped about a third of the way across.

“Okay,” he said. “Lars, stand right there.” The barbarian stepped to the front of the path and began flexing his muscles at the waiting horde. “Tamra, over there on the left. Coryn, hold the right. Melkor, stick behind Lars.”

“Sure,” said the mage. “But if they get around him, I’m pulling a tactical retreat over to those trees.” He pointed to a copse about twenty yards away.

“Me too!” chimed in Bobbin.

Rallis sighed. “Fine, just as long as you make yourselves useful.” The elf went to stand beside Lars. “Once they get close, I’m gonna pull back and keep them from coming flanking us.” He took one more glance around, and then shouted back to the orcs. “Okay, we’re ready!”

Coryn looked over at Tamra. “You might want to draw your sword, honey.”

“Oh, yeah.” She drew her weapon, taking a few practice swipes in the air.

The orcs closed, their feet stamping a staccato rhythm that the entire party could feel through their ground. Rallis fired once, and then even before the first arrow could land, fired again. One of the lead orcs caught the first arrow in the throat, his coarse war cry cut off as he spun and thudded into the ground, his fellows leaping over him. The second arrow landed in a shoulder, though the orc did not fall. Rallis nocked another arrow, but paused. “Oh, hey, I forgot to add in my bonuses for the second shot.” The entire horde slowed, everyone looking at the orc that had taken the shoulder wound. After a second, the arrow disappeared, rematerializing in the orc’s chest. The orc gave a gurgling cry, frothy blood spewing from his mouth, and fell.

“Are we on inits yet?” asked the halfling.

“Yeah, Bobbin,” said Melkor, the wizard. “Quit playing with the dice and pay attention.”


Kyle said...

This reminds me, whatever happened with "Art the Wanderer"?

Jason Janicki said...

Art is currently being reviewed by an agent. It is unfortunately a long process. I don't have any news right now, but I do appreciate the inquiry :)