This entry is part 25 in the series Orcs & Elves

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I’ve got so much campaign prep to get done that if I don’t do it here, I’ll never get it done in time…

I’m trying a slight change in layout this week, formatting the text more closely to that of a book than the usual web format. Let me know if you think it’s an improvement. If too many people dislike it, or find it hard to read, I’ll reformat it.

PS: Sorry if the icon for this part is unclear – it looked fine when I created it, I assure you! It’s meant to be a table with people on all sides, and the person at the end of the table singled out with a reddish color. Unfortunately, by the time I shrank the picture down to a reasonable size, it wasn’t recognizable as anything in particular. Oh, well…

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Chapter 66

Clan Wars XIII: The Minotaur Revolution

Even as the Minotaurs struck in the council chamber, other attacks were being launched throughout the city. Every Orcish warrior, administrator, priest, farmer, or worker had at least one Minotaur in their household to do the manual labor. More attacks took place throughout the besieging army, all triggered by the Minotaur deity revealing himself: the signal for a slave uprising.
   Other Minotaurs raised signal flags. As slaves to the Orcs, they had a full understanding of the Orcish signal flag system used to coordinate attacks between units at a distance on the battlefield; in fact, it was usually their task to raise such flag signals, freeing Orcish warriors from such menial tasks when there was fighting to be done. Unknown to the Orcs, the Minotaurs had been exchanging members of their populations for those in service to other tribes, communicating with each other, and organizing; one young minotaur looked much the same as another, to the Orcs, who had forgotten that they successfully liberated themselves from the grip of the Ogres when in an even more primitive state than that of the Minotaurs, and that the Minotaurs could do the same thing to them.
   Throughout the Orclands, signals to launch the revolution spread from one tribe to another. Weapons secreted against this day were exhumed from hiding places, and trusted servants struck at their masters.
   The Minotaurs were not trained fighters, but they were cunning, strong, and motivated enemies, who took full benefit from the advantage of surprise. They were outnumbered, and in many cases, opposed by battle-hardened and experienced combatants. No more than one attempt in ten succeeded in killing the targets against which they were launched, and eight times out of ten, the Minotaur was killed – but not without inflicting damage. One-tenth of the Minotaur population escaped into the countryside, heading for a rendezvous point in the mountains that had been chosen and scouted many years earlier.

Far to the Sunrise, where night had fallen hours earlier, the uprising had an easier time of it, and the Bleeding Swords who had invaded the tribal lands of the Red Eye clan were decimated; sleeping foes offer little resistance. The guerilla raids of the Army Of The Skull were a more nocturnal activity, and slave numbers were low; they had migrated to the Sunset with the rest of the Orcish clan. Sensing that their moment had come, the Army Of The Skull were able to take advantage of the confusion and reclaim their home ranges after a pitched battle. To the Sunset, where it was still early afternoon, and the Orcs were active and alert, very few of the attacks were successful, and there were few Minotaur survivors. Before long, forward observers and scouts from the Bleeding Swords began to send back reports that the Bugbears had retreated in confusion to the fortified positions previously occupied by the Bleeding Swords clan – the same ones that had been previously overrun and captured by the Army Of The One Eye, only to be overrun by the Bugbears en route to the climactic confrontation. The new status quo in the region had yet to stabilize.

The most determined attacks occurred in the command pavilions of the various armies, for these were the places where there were more servants with access to weapons, and the greatest determination to succeed; if a command structure survived intact, the other Minotaur revolutionaries could not hope to escape and reach the rendezvous, and the sanctuary promised by their God. Only by sewing sufficient confusion by the deaths of those in command would the local slave populations escape. Most of these were successful to a somewhat greater extent.

In the Council Chamber of the Mailed Fists, the Huyundaltha reacted immediately to the attack, and were able to protect most of the Hierarchy of the clan. The majority of the revolting servants were killed before they could even attempt a strike. In the city beyond the council chamber, they met with greater success; but beyond the fortified walls, the Army Of The Crescent Moon had gone wild at the death of Gruumsh and were busy mounting a suicide charge on the walls when their Minotaur servants began slaughtering their women and cubs. They turned on this new enemy – one that could yield, and feel pain, unlike the impersonal city walls – with gusto and fury.
   Chief Agronak immediately instructed the Clan Warblade, Goral, to take several squads of Orc Soldiers to rescue the families of the councilors and return with them to the council chambers. He then resumed the council of war.
   ”Now is much made clear,” commented the Drow Ambassador to Agronak. “The Armies knew where to mass against our forces because their Minotaurs got the information from other Minotaurs within your walls. Whoever was behind this clearly had one basic plan: they impersonated the deity most beloved of each population and lure them into a confrontation that achieved little but great death. But it was not merely the Orcs who were deceived; the Bugbears were likewise manipulated. And the whole point was to pressure you into preparing to cast forbidden rituals at the advice of a false Baghtru.
   ”It is uncertain whether or not the purpose was a distraction to permit this uprising, but while I have no knowledge of the characteristics – or even name – of the Minotaur Deity, it seems too far removed from the nature of the worshippers for such a complex and convoluted scheme to originate in that quarter. Once again, the only product is death on a vast scale. The rituals are still somehow ‘casting themselves’. In light of these discoveries, I am not certain that we can delay investigating that to determine if that was indeed the purpose behind this bloody charade.”
   ”The citizens are in riot. Progress will be slowed, and I wonder if that was not part of the plan behind events,” replied the leader of the Huyundaltha contingent. The Orcs are misled to provoke the rituals; the Bugbears to disrupt any military interference from the outside; and the Minotaur uprising to prevent interference from within.”
   ”If your thought is truth – and I see little room for uncertainty when events are described so succinctly – then what must be done, above all else, is that somehow we must interfere with those rituals.”
   ”The question is, how can we do that?”
   All eyes swept the room, seeking any glimmer of a notion that might lead to a solution, but the question remained unanswered.

Chapter 67

Clan Wars XIV: Ritual Behavior

“If we can wake the Shaman from his stupor, he may be able to give an answer,” said Agronak. “There must be one; no-one would go to so much trouble to prevent interference if we did not have the capacity to get in the way, somehow. And I find it suspicious that the Shamans were all frozen in place like that.”
   ”There is one possible way, Chief Agronak, but it is risky. Although we have strayed from his teachings, and exiled ourselves as punishment, Corallen may hear our call and intercede, if we beg him to do so.”
   ”I will not beg an Elvish God,” replied the Chief. “I trust you but a little and him not at all.”
   ”Then perhaps my mistress?” suggested Tathzyr. “I have not forsaken her, and she may perceive involving herself as advantageous.”
   ”I trust her even less than the Elf-God, for that very reason. If there must be another deity brought into this, it is the province of Luthic the Allmother, who Baghtru told us was to blame for these troubles. And you have not convinced me that he was false to us. I agree that the pattern looks suspicious, but it will take more than suspicion for my faith to waver. We must invoke Luthic, and settle that question one way or another. If she is our enemy, she will either reveal that or heal the Shaman who speaks with Her Voice. If she is not, she will heal him. Either way, we will have the guidance of the Gods restored to us.”
   As Agronak spoke, the first of the squads returned with several of the family members of the council members, including Goral’s own mate and daughter. Goral was approaching the end of his life, as was his mate; he had long been a loyal supporter of the Chief, and his family all knew him like a member of their own tribal family. Goral’s mate immediately spoke up, even though not officially privileged to do so, “Everything the All-mother does is for her family or to satisfy her own needs. She would not place her first-mate in danger, and all this does not make more cubs.”
   Another of the councilors immediately warned her to be silent or he would cut out her tongue, only to be waved to silence by the Clan-Chief. “As a maker of cubs, you are closer to the all-mother than any warrior. You are used to seeking her aid for minor cuts, scrapes and fevers, and other childhood ailments. Will you invoke her powers to heal the Shaman who sleeps with eyes open and cannot awake?”
   ”I am not a Shaman’s Mate, so She may not answer me, but I will try if you wish. There is a weed that grows amongst the fields which, when crushed, burned, and then boiled, aids against sleepiness through her grace. If Her name is invoked, She may strengthen its effects.”
   ”Go with these warriors for protection. Find some of this root and return as swiftly as your aged bones permit. I will have water readied for your return, and a bowl. Hurry, now.” With that, Agronak raised his hand before lowering it sheepishly. ” ‘Old habits die hard,’ as the Humans say. I was about to call for servants to make the preparations. I guess we will have to get used to doing things for ourselves.” Turning to one of the squad, he instructed the warrior to prepare boiling water and a bowl; the Warrior immediately protested that this was ‘slave’s work’ and refused.
   ”I gave you an order as your clan chief, Muk-lutt. Obey or your head will decorate a pike before the council chambers.” With ill grace, the Warrior put down his sword and went in search of the kitchens.
   The chief then turned back to the council, and looked pointedly at the Ambassador and the leader of the Huyundaltha. “Explain to me again the difference between a ritual and a spell.”

“The terms and concept are human, Clan-Chief,” replied the Ambassador. “As I understand it, a spell is a quick and sudden power, for the most part, which can be used with little or no preparations. Its quick utility restricts the power that can be drawn apon. In terms of summoning, a spell has limited scope for numbers and the beings summoned are constrained to obey, and they abide in this world for only a brief time. A ritual is much slower, more elaborate, usually involves more casters than but one, has no effects save those intentionally incorporated into its crafting, and has a far greater capacity for power or range of effect. Each ritual must contain several specific components and building blocks, some of which may be inferred logically, some of which have been discovered by accident, and many of which remain undiscovered territory. A Ritual Summoning can bring forth greater numbers who may persist in this world for much longer. Weeks instead of minutes, Months instead of days, Years instead of weeks, and may have them appear much farther removed from the source of the summons.”
   ”But they are still constrained to obey?”
   ”Not necessarily. They are confined to a magical circle until released, and such release is usually only granted if a bargain is, or has already been, struck. You summon, you barter for assistance, and you either accept the offer and release the creature, or refuse it and send the summoned creature back.”
   ”Elf, you claim that you sensed the power of these rituals and named them ‘Forbidden’ – why?”
   ”I know even less than the Ambassador in some respects, but have been told that if a bargain is struck and the summoned released, the power of the ritual compels it to obey its promises – though it may do more or less in addition, as they will it. There are some rituals that summon beings who cannot be constrained to obey by any mortal means, and that is one reason for them being Forbidden; and there are other rituals that forego the enforcement for still greater persistence. Worst of all, some rituals summon not the creature to the caster, but the caster to the creature as supplicant; it is then the caster who must agree to the terms dictated by the subject, and if he does so, the subject may travel freely between his or her realm, wherever it may be, and this one. Whatever the purpose of casting such a ritual was, it cannot be controlled, for it is the creature being ‘summoned’ who sets the terms, and who can often overpower the resistance of the caster by will alone. The caster will agree to anything, no matter what his original intent.
   ”Why this particular ritual is Forbidden, I do not know. We merely sensed a ‘wrongness’ within the city walls, and the sensation of gathering ritual Magics, similar to the weaving of spells that my people use to reshape the world around us, the better to accommodate our companionship within it.”
   ”So, in the end, you thrust you and your party into the heart of this affair totally on instinct. I was not aware that our estranged kindred had become so sensitive to the unseen forces; if we survive the events to come, I am sure that information will be of great value to my Mistress.”
   ”It is a very Orcish response, and one that I did not think your people capable of. We do almost everything by instinct, tempering our instincts with understanding and experience. We had thought your kind too far removed from the reality of the world to feel the calling of blood, or sun-on-the-face, or the thrill of the contest. I am delighted to learn this, and for the first time, I feel sure that we are allies in these events rather than merely being curious. My council has wondered for some time if there might be some common ground between our peoples, and now we find it to be truth.”
   ”Very enlightened of you, Agronak,” replied the Elf drily, with an open smile, a remark that greatly puzzled the Clan-Chief who did not understand humor at all, and who – taking the comment at face value – replied, “Yes, it is.” The Ambassador immediately collapsed into gales of laughter, a response that was even more puzzling to the Orcs.
   ”Tathzyr has a strange way of thinking sometimes,” added the Clan-Chief, “but he is worth having around the rest of the time. So, you didn’t know what was wrong, just that something was wrong. Instead of running from the fire, you thrust yourself into its heart. Why?”
   ”We have experienced a very… personal disgrace, of which I will not speak. We seek to redeem ourselves in our own eyes. That quest is what led us to your walls to sense the wrongness within, and what compelled us to offer what aid we could to stop it. This may be the redemption we seek, or merely the first step of a long journey. You will have noticed that we have not given our names; we feel that we are no longer entitled to those we formerly possessed. I am simply First, my second is merely Second, and so on, until we can honestly judge ourselves worthy of the names to which we once answered. I will not speak further on this matter.”
   This piqued the curiosity of the Ambassador enough to penetrate his laughter, and he commented, “You Elves have always been too judgmental, holding everyone to an impossible standard whether they wanted to adhere to it or not. I might have known that sooner or later that stiff-necked attitude would turn inward and some of you be found wanting. I’m sure that there is a story there that I would find interesting, but that would bore our hosts to the point open yawning, and be irrelevant to the current situation. So, getting back to more important subjects, it has been two hand’s-breadths of the sun since the rituals began ‘casting themselves’. How much longer will it be before they conclude?”
   ”Elvish Spellweaving can take decades or centuries, but few have the patience for such attention to detail, and only our kind have the ability to begin a weaving and be relieved by another, enabling such continuous efforts over such spans of time. Human rituals can last as long as a day, but even that is of great difficulty, and most take a single hands-breadth of the sun, perhaps two. Anything between those two extremes is possible. I don’t know who or how is behind these rituals, but they have power enough to counterfeight several deities; how long can such continue to concentrate? It will take as long as it takes.”
   ”That makes no sense, First,” replied Agronak. “You have said yourself that these troubles are done to prevent interference, and that this means that if we knew how to do it, we could interfere – something I intend to do, with great violence, when I can. But these troubles would not have distracted us forever, or even for very long. I am sure that many of our former servants have fled, only to be slaughtered by the ravening hordes of Red Eyes beyond the walls. Many more will be in hiding, waiting for nightfall, and their opportunity to slip away. Were it not for your actions, our subordinates would have found us dead here before much longer, and would now be engaged in a city-wide hunt for those responsible, but by the dawn, those who could be found would have been, and attention would return to the forbidden ritual. No, this distraction would have served only to prevent meddling this one night. Either there will be another distraction before the first light of day, or the ritual will be complete before that time.”
   ”I can find no fault with your reasoning, Clan-Chief Agronak.”
   ”Reasoning, bah! It is is tactics,” answered the Orc, who was being regarded with astonishment by both Ambassador Tathzyr and First, neither of whom had expected the Clan-Chief to have such insight.
   ”Remind me never to underestimate you, Agronak,” replied the Ambassador.
   ”No,” the Orc replied. This time it was First who collapsed in laughter, as the council again looked perplexed.

68

Clan Wars XIV: The Oracle Of Gottskragg

The mate of Goral had returned with a few of the precious plants. Her escort was wounded and proud of his success in fighting off a pair of Berserk Red-Eye warriors. Since the Red-eyes were ferocious in battle at the best of times, twice as capable on the battlefield as most ordinary Orcs, he had overcome an enemy strength of roughly four-to-one, and had every right to be satisfied with his success. She began to busy herself with preparing the root, crushing and brewing it.
   While the council of war waited, Agronak’s patience began to wear thin. He itched for action; this sitting around talking all day while things went on around him that he did not understand chafed, and the humiliation at the way he and his people had been used burned. The only thing that restrained his hand was the knowledge that the hasty stroke often goes astray, and no misstep could be permitted with the lives and existence of his clan at stake. But that did not mean that he had to like it, and he grew increasingly short-tempered as Ambassador Tathzyr and First continued to recount and reexamine everything they knew or surmised about the situation, dredging for fresh insights that might prove useful.
   ”Has it come to your notice how fragile the plan is?” asked First.
   ”What do you mean?” replied the Ambassador.
   ”To succeed in persuading the Mailed Fists to his desires, our unknown enemy had to pose a credible threat to the city. Hence the “alliance” between the Red Eye and Bleeding Sword clans. But, at the same time, he could not afford their campaign to succeed; if the city were destroyed, his ritual would never be cast. Hence, the Bleeding Swords had to betray the alliance. But he could not afford for the Mailed Fists to feel relief or to lift the siege, or there would, once again, be no reason to complete preparations for the ritual, and he could not permit them to interfere with his designs, either, as we have already said; he needed a new threat to maintain the pressure and imminent danger to the city. Hence, the Bugbears were united behind what appeared to be their Deity, and what was no doubt intended simply as an alliance of convenience by the Bleeding Swords became a full invasion thrusting toward the city walls. But they could not be permitted to succeed, either, so he first feigns the destruction of Gruumsh to drive the remaining Red Eyes at the city gates berserk, both maintaining the danger to the city while ensuring their ineffectiveness, and then reveals himself to be an imposter to the Bugbears to dissipate the threat when it grew too risky. But that required a new threat to keep the city off-balance and acting as he wished, and hence the Minotaur Revolt, which would have to have been planned and prepared from a time long before any of this began, so far as the Orcs were aware. So many finely-balanced elements, so carefully orchestrated, so many things that could have gone wrong – and any mistake would have unraveled the whole plot. Surely such finesse in planning is beyond anything mortal? Even the plots of your mistress against my people do not approach such sophistication.”
   ”You elves, always seeing deep planning and plotting behind every bush. Such a plan would not only be improbable to the point of impossibility, it would be doomed to failure. My Queen would reject out of hand any plan that relied on so many things transpiring as she desired. Not only would the beliefs and social attitudes of all the participants have to be known to an impossible degree, but the personalities of key individuals have to be anticipated in advance, as would the way they would react to situations with which none of them had ever been confronted before. While I agree with your superficial assessment of the strategy and the reasons for its shape, I disagree with your conclusion. No, you neglect the power of opportunism.
   ”Assuming that the enemies objectives remain unchanging, he simple sets each wave of events in motion, observes the situation as it develops, and looks for an opportunity to interfere with the events he has set in motion whenever they go too far. The initial alliance between the wild clans and the subsequent betrayal are all that is needed to be planned in advance, and that is not so much a plan as it is a strategy. The Mailed Fists call in the Bugbears; the enemy takes advantage of that to maintain the imminent threat the city. The enslaved Minotaurs have no doubt been spinning legends and taking advantage of such opportunities to win their freedom for centuries, hence the intelligence leaked to the Red Eyes of the counterstrike plans by the Mailed Fists; again, the enemy simply takes advantage of the opportunity to disrupt interference. As usual, your kind reads too much significance, too much intent, into events. Opportunism harnessed to the needs of simple objectives is sufficient explanation, and since each move is based apon the situation as it stands at the moment of decision, there is no danger of misstep. If you do not assume a plan of impossible sophistication, you have no need to attribute such supernormal planning abilities to the enemy.”
   ”How much longer must we wait? I need to do something, anything, to advantage our situation!” interjected Agronak. “You won’t even let me restore order to the streets, in case the enemy learns that the Clan Council has survived.”
   ”I know it is difficult, Clan-Chief, but the wrong move could be disastrous, or even the right move, chosen by chance, at the wrong time. Your troops are adequate to the task,” replied the Ambassador.
   ”The right move at the wrong time….” repeated First thoughtfully. “Why now? Why not last week, or last winter, or ten years ago – or ten years from now, for that matter?”
   ”Everything that happens has to happen sometime. Now is as good a time as any. Perhaps it happens now simply because now is when the enemy first thought of his plan to use circumstances to his own ends.”
   ”Perhaps, but do not reject the question because one possible answer makes it irrelevant. Assume that there is some significance to the timing, some trigger to these events – identifying it could be the key to unlocking all this, and giving or impatient friends a target upon which to vent their frustrations,” answered the leader of the Huyundaltha band.
   ”Bring forth your Keeper Of Memory, Clan-Chief,” replied the Ambassador. “Let us consider what your Clan have been doing lately, and if any act has unwittingly set these events in motion.”
   Impatiently, the Clan-Chief waved the Keeper of memory, who had been engaged in writing down the conversation (even if he didn’t understand it all), forward to face the council.

“How much more time must we waste on this?” demanded Agronak, waving the Keeper Of Memory to silence in the middle of a recitation of the yield of a day’s harvest two years earlier. “Zagurk is not simply the rememberer, he is a member of the Clan council; if he had thought anything important he would have told it at once!”
   ”Not if he did not know it to begin with, my Chief,” interrupted a new and somewhat shaky voice.
   ”Kudja! Luthic be blessed, you awaken at last!”
   ”Not completely, Agronak. Luthic’s intervention has blessed me with a brief respite – but perhaps one long enough to give the council the answers they seek.”
   ”Mate of Goral, if Kudja’s words are true, you have earned the right to a name of your own with your service this day! Think upon your choice. Now, Kudja, what did you mean? It is the rule that the Keeper Of Memory be told everything that happens.”
   ”It was the business of the Priests, My Clan-Chief. When we understood its meaning, we would have told the Keeper.
   ”Some ten seasons past, The Council began sending explorers out to discover the shape of the lands in the places we had not trodden after the summer harvests were complete. Before the blanket of Ishlee [Goddess Of Cold, Snow, and Ice] last covered the mountains, one expedition returned with news of the discovery of a temple to an unknown god, covered with writing that moved, only to pause occasionally in place. They did not know the words, but they copied as much of what they saw as they could before it began to move again. None of them knew letters, though they knew what they were, so there were some inaccuracies, and much of what they copied were not our words. When they returned, the priests instructed the explorers not to reveal what they had found until we figured out the God to which the temple was dedicated, whether we should listen to what the words said to us, and what we should do about it. We have been trying to translate the words since then.”
   ”Why did you not tell the Council of this before?”
   ”The words are strange and hard to make sense of, and I am not a Keeper Of Memory; I needed to find the words that we had translated to see if they really did say what I thought they did. I retrieved them while preparing the rituals as instructed, and was going to return with them when I reported back to the council – but that was when the waking-sleep came apon me, and all the other priests.
   ”Here is the text that I thought I remembered:

       When the Oracle Of Gottskragg is found,
       When Gods commit Heresies,
       The Hidden Dragon will awaken.

       When the Gods divide,
       And the peoples go to war,
       The Hidden Dragon will threaten.

       When the sundered unite,
       And the speakers fall silent,
       The walls fall as the Light rises overhead.”

       When the Empire of Gold threatens,
       And enemies become allies and allies estranged,
       Will the sundered Kindred threaten the Powers Of Destruction.”

   ”That’s obscure to the point of invisibility,” acknowledged Ambassador Tathzyr. “I can see why you would want to review the exact text before mentioning it. If your recollection was wrong, you could waste a lot of time talking about something that had nothing to do with what was happening.”
   ”It’s gibberish, a waste of time,” roared Agronak in frustration. “Give me an enemy to hit!
   ”Not complete gibberish, Clan-Chief. ‘Gottskragg’ is the name given to a mountain peak by a group of Dwarves who set out to explore it a few hundred years ago and lost track of all time for five years. Elves who passed nearby have reported having strange, inexplicable visions. And if this is a prophecy, which it certainly sounds like, that would make the ‘unknown temple’ an Oracle – so I think we can surmise that the Dwarves were compelled to construct it against their will, and the temple becomes ‘The Oracle Of Gottskragg’. Your explorers ‘found’ it. The Humans have been having trouble with their Gods committing Heresies for a decade or so, according to what their traders have revealed, tearing much of their society apart in the process. Those are both signs that the ‘Hidden Dragon’ will awaken. The next verse talks about what it will do once it’s awake – ‘When the Gods divide’ certainly sounds like Gruumsh, Ilneval, and Baghtru setting the Clans against each other in their names, and your peoples did ‘go to war’ as a result – signs that the ‘Hidden Dragon’, now awakened, will threaten someone or something. I don’t think it’s too big a leap to name our hidden enemy ‘The Hidden Dragon’ under those circumstances, do you?” replied the Ambassador.
   ”And what of the rest of it?” frowned the Clan-Chief, his head throbbing from the effort of thinking such foreign thoughts.
   ”The sundered have united, Chief Agronak,” came the answer from First, indicating both himself and Tathzyr – while reserving the thought that if the Orcs were, in fact, the ‘Other’ as his people believed, they also fit the title of ‘Sundered’, making the line even more appropriate.
   ”As Priests, our role is to Speak for the Gods,” added a drowsy Kudja.
   ”You certainly fell silent – unless you talk in your sleep, Kudja,” added the Ambassador. “So those are the final signals that the third verse is about to be complete. ‘The Walls fall as the Light rises overhead’ – sometime before the first noon after these Elves got here, your defenses are going to fail, presumably knocked down by your enemy, the Hidden Dragon. A Dragon would certainly be capable of bringing down a city wall or two, and letting that horde out there loose in your city, which would certainly keep you far too busy to prevent the ritual being completed – and presumably leaving him victorious. And, since it’s the only time of day mentioned, Noon is when the ritual will be complete, or when it becomes too late to stop it.”
   ”The last verse talks about why all this is happening, Chief Agronak,” explained First. “Someday, when an Empire of Gold – whoever or whatever that is – threatens someone, presumably your people since this whole prophecy is aimed at them, and when some alliance is broken and former enemies become allies, a coalition of Elves and Drow will threaten the Powers Of Destruction, whoever they are. They’re threatened by that, and more particularly by you’re knowing about it, so they have unleashed one of their number, or a powerful minion, to destroy your populace. They wouldn’t do that unless your people were also to be instrumental to the success of that alliance. Just to be on the safe side – you’re part of this particular alliance of ‘The Sundered’ – you should probably make sure that an Orc is part of any such alliance, presuming that we win this particular encounter. The prophecy seems to be on our side, but we Elves have a saying, ‘Prophecy helps those who help themselves’. If we want the whole thing to come true, we have to make sure that we both fulfill the conditions of the prophecy and win this fight with ‘The Hidden Dragon’.”
   ”Opportunism. We have to make the circumstances yield the effect we want, and use the enemy’s own tactics against him. How can we do that?”
   Once again, there was no answer.

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The Ongoing Elvish Glossary

I’m going to forego this while our attention is focussed on the Orcish side of the story, as it has no relevance to the narrative.

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Next time: In Chapters 69-71, a desperate plan is formulated and set in motion…

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Orcs & Elves Series:
  1. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 1
  2. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 2
  3. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 3
  4. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 4
  5. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Introduction to the Orcs and Elves series part 5
  6. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 1-4
  7. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 5-10
  8. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 11-14
  9. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 15-17
  10. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 18-20
  11. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 21-23
  12. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 24-26
  13. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 27-28
  14. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 29-31
  15. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 32-36
  16. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 37-40
  17. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 41-43
  18. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 44-46
  19. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 47-51
  20. Inventing and Reinventing Races in DnD: An Orcish Mythology
  21. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 52-54
  22. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 55-58
  23. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 59-62
  24. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 63-65
  25. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 66-68
  26. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 69-70
  27. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 71-73
  28. Who Is “The Hidden Dragon”? – Behind the curtain of the Orcs and Elves Series
  29. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapter 74
  30. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 75-77
  31. On The Origins Of Orcs, Chapters 78-85