Chapter 13: Uruks
“Da door won’t open.”
“Waddya mean, it won’t open?”
“Ya see me pulling? It won’t open. It’s locked or something.”
“Get outta my way, ya wimp! It’s just stuck. This door doesn’t even have a lock.”
“Ya think ya is stronger’n me. Go head. Jes don rip da handle off.”
“Now whoza wimp?”
“Yer right. It’s hard ta believe but yer right. Da door won’t come open. Sump’n is wrong here.”
Thorn gently poked Rose’s shoulder. She opened her eyes and saw from the anxious expression on Thorn’s face that there was trouble. Her dream of squabbling Uruk voices was no dream after all. She wiped the sleep from her eyes and came to her feet. Petal was just rousing Arrth. He had done the same as Rose, spread his cloak over a pallet of straw and then lay down to sleep on a bed just marginally softer than the stone floor.
“It sounds like the owners of the room have come home, Rose. They sound like uruks. They’re speaking Uruk. What should we do?”
Rose thought for a moment. “We look like uruks ourselves. Maybe we should let them in. This could be our chance to get some local information on this place.”
“Just one problem. Four of us are women and there’s only one man in the group. You know how uruks are about women?”
“Uruks cherish women . . . as long as they’re pregnant. If they’re not pregnant, the next question becomes why not and what can be done about it? They should be pregnant.”
They had all gathered close to Rose and were speaking in whispers while planning their strategy.
“None of us are the slightest bit pregnant,” hissed Petal. “And I don’t want some uruk trying to change my condition.’
There came a thud from the door, followed by a sullen “Ow! Dat hurt.”
“Ya idjit. Da door opens toward us. Ya can’t knock it down by smashin inta it.”
“Iffin I hadda ax, I’d knock dis door down.”
“Ya, but we don’t got no ax. We gots spears and skimmies.”
“I go getta ax. Da Dorfs have axes.”
“Ya, you do dat, Rokko. We waits for ya here.”
“We’ll have to pretend we all belong to Arrth. His name is almost urukish as is. If we preface our names with Ur, we should pass.”
“Urpetal is never going to work as an uruk name.”
“Change all the L’s in our names to R’s. That will work.”
“I don’t speak uruk,” said Arrth. “Isn’t that going to be a problem if I’m supposed to be in charge of our little clan?”
“Just speak Common to them. Make up a story for why you don’t speak Uruk. If we have to speak Uruk, Thorn or I will do it.”
“Thorn, tell them not to chop the door down. Ladies, all together over here. Arrth up front. Now!”
“Doncha chop da door down, ya dummies! We will letcha in. Iffin ya don do nuttin stoopid, ya won’t get kilt.”
“Udder uruks in our room! How’d dey get in dere?”
“Da door wuzznt locked, ya dummy. Dey walked in.”
Calyx muttered a word under her breath and gestured at the door. She and Petal and Rose knelt in a row off to one side of the table. A loud click announced that the door wasn’t locked. Arrth lifted his right foot and kicked the door. It slammed open, bumped into someone who was standing too close, and bounced shut again.
Laughter and curses came from outside. “Don stan in front of da opening door, Ugly!”
“Ugly is uglier now. I tink he loss a toof wen da door hit im.”
Arrth pushed the door open again, not so hard. Four uruks in the corridor looked in. They saw Arrth and Thorn. He looked barbaric and mighty, all clad in good steel and leather, with under tusks that jutted up almost to his eyes, skin a dark brownish green. Beside him was a short uruk female warrior holding a Dwarven axe, and wearing what looked like Dwarven armor. No Dwarf ever had a jaw like that with six jutting fangs, or the fiery red eyes and pointed ears that she displayed.
“C’mon in and mine yer manners,” Thorn told them in Uruk. “Dis is Urarrth, da boss of us. It’s weird, but he don speak Uruk. He speaks Common Tongue, so fer him, we will all speak da Common Tongue in here.”
The biggest of the Uruks in the corridor stepped inside. “I is Narat. I is da boss of dis group.”
“Speak Common!” barked Thorn in the common tongue—a language that was a pidgin of many different speeches used in this part of the Dragon continent.”
“I am Urrarth. I am mighty and these are my women. If you touch them, you die.”
“I am Narat. I could kill you and take all your women, but maybe I won’t.”
“Ha! You make a good joke, Narat. You might kill a lizard-man if you got lucky, but I would split your skull with this before your little skimmie ever touched me.” Arrth drew his broadsword and flourished it in front of the Uruk. Four feet of gleaming steel passed within an inch of Narat’s snout and made him flinch back a little.”
“You have a good weapon, but you don’t dress much like an Uruk. You dress like a Man warrior.”
“I took this armor and weapon from a Man that I killed. It was better than the stuff I used to have, so I kept it.”
“And you talk like a man. Why don’t you speak Uruk?”
“It is strange, but I don’t remember how to speak Uruk.”
“Last year I was in a big fight.” The Uruks’ faces broke into grins. They loved talking about fights almost as much as they loved fighting. “I was doing good, stabbing and cutting the Humans and Elves. Suddenly somebody smacked me in the head from behind. When I woke up, Urthorn here was talking to me, but I couldn’t understand her any more. When I talked, it came out in this Human language.”
“That’s weird. I never heard of anyone forgetting how to speak before, but strange things happen to people that get hit in the head and don’t die. I remember this guy named Graller who had the side of his skull caved in, but the shaman saved his life. Except, after that he thought he was a wolf, and he ran on all fours and acted just like a wolf. He could talk to the wolves and everything. He was a useful guy until a younger wolf killed him in a battle for pack leadership.”
“I think Uruk talk might come back to me. I remember a few words now. Skrragg means kill. Nomnom means eat.”
“That’s a good sign. Maybe the true speech will come back to you.”
The other three uruks crowded into the room. “Hey, Narat, this guy has a lot of women, enough for all of us.”
Narat took his eyes off Arrth and glanced over at the three women who were kneeling silently on the side of the room. He hadn’t done so before because to drop one’s guard in front of a stranger could be fatal, but with his troops now in the room with him, he felt he could start taking command of the situation.”
“You have a lot of women for just one Uruk.”
“They are my wives, and all that is left of my clan.”
“You have four wives, even if some of them are skinny or short, and we don’t have any. That isn’t right. We will take three of them off your hands. You can keep the short ugly one.”
“I don’t think so. They are very fierce. They would kill you and your followers like dogs.”
“There are four of us, and only one of you. We can kill you and take them if you won’t give them to us.”
“I think not. First of all, I am a great warrior with a better weapon and better armor. I could kill all four of you tunnel rats by myself.”
The uruks began to growl and stamp their feet. This kind of talk usually led to a fight. Thee were four uruk women, and good spoils to be had in the form of weapons and armor. They were just waiting for a spark to touch off the melee. This new guy with all the women was big, and had good weapons, but they weren’t afraid of him. No true uruk was ever afraid of another fighter, at least not until they had lost a few fights to him, and losing one was usually fatal
“Secondly, my women all fight. We outnumber you.”
“Har! Women that fight? I believe the short one can fight, but those other three are not made for battle.”
“You are so wrong, Narat. Don’t make us hurt you. The tall one knows magic. She could turn you into a frog if I told her to. The short one knows poison. You might take her, but you wouldn’t live a week with her around. The middle one is the weakest, and she can kick any of you around like the dogs you are.”
“Magic? That’s not fair.”
“I find it useful at times.”
They glared at each other. Arrth had a thought. “I am only being stingy in order to protect you and your boys. But, I want to show you. If one of your uruks can take my Urroz, you can have her.”
“That is a fair offer. We don’t want any magic or poison people, but she is the prettiest of the lot. Those ears, those fangs, that glowing red hair. Yes, we will take her.”
“If you can.”
“Ugly, take that one.” He pointed at Rose. “Try not to hurt her much.”
Arrth turned and winked at Rose. He felt certain that she could take one uruk in hand to hand combat. If she couldn’t, well, there would be battle and dead uruks before they ever got to do anything to these women.
“Urroz, defend yourself. Try not to hurt him too much.”
“Yes, Boss.” She stood up and was a head taller than Ugly. He was the shortest uruk in the group, and not that much uglier than the others, although he did have a broken tusk. With a silly grin on his face, he advanced on her confidently.
“She has nice armor and weapons for a woman.”
In a dungeon, one doesn’t take the armor off just because one wants to be comfortable when one sleeps. Rose wore her chain and leather, as did the other “ladies” in the group. Arrth’s group had much better equipment than this ragged bunch of dungeon Uruks.
“All of my people have the best. Perhaps you should join my clan.”
Ugly smiled a nasty smile, then growled. He bared his fangs and roared in Rose’s face.
She kicked him in the groin. Hard. Ugly’s growl turned into a gurgle. He clutched himself and doubled forward. Rose brought her mailed fists around in a double-handed blow that struck him with an audible crack of steel on bone that sent him reeling sideways. She followed that with a spinning kick that caught him in the small of the back and knocked him down. Rose did a flying knee drop onto Ugly’s back that smashed him into the floor again. Then she caught his head by the one lock of hair that grew there and banged his face into the stone floor several times. Ugly’s eyes rolled back in his skull, and he lost consciousness.
“Urroz, don’t kill him!” Arrth put a little snap into his voice.
“Yes, Boss. Sorry. I did not like the way he smiled at me.” Rose stood up, took a couple of steps, glared fiercely at the other three Uruks who were standing by the door with their mouths open, and went back to kneel with Calyx and Petal.
Narat couldn’t believe his eyes. His second toughest fighter had just been taken down and whipped silly by a she in less than five seconds.
Narat began edging toward the door. “We will be leaving now.”
“I don’t think so. Urthorn, close the door. Urcaryx, lock it.”
“Narat, we’re going to talk now, and you’re going to tell us everything you can about everything we want to know. Right?”
“Anything you say, Urarrth. You can keep all your women, and we will be your best friends. You say there is room in your clan. I say we’d like to join.”
Arrth smiled. Rose smiled. Thorn snarled at them all in Uruk. “Dat very smart of yez, rock brains. Pile yer weapons over dere and siddown on da floor.”
Three very worried uruks hastened to do what she said. The fourth was still unconscious.
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