Chapter 20: Ogres
The door slammed open and uruks boiled into the treasure room. A bellow of outrage shook the walls and rattled Urarrth’s teeth.
“That must be one big ogre,” commented Urarrth.
“He’s the biggest!” Urnatar grinned from ear to ear. Then he rushed into the room.
Howls, yowls and growls came from the treasure room. “Let’s get in there,” said Urarrth. He muscled his way through the door.
The ogre treasure room was a huge place. They had beds in there, real beds, a table ten feet high, and both chairs and boulders. One side of the hall had been built into an artificial mountainside, piled high with boulders. There were bigger ones on the bottom and smaller ones balanced on them. The ogres had built their own cave, and inside the cave they piled all the gems they were guarding, except for a few dozen that they used in games they played with each other.
There were six ogres, huge, mean-looking humanoids. They had big rectangular heads and rectangular mouths. Even their eyes looked square. They wore clothing made of rope. Thick hempen rope, braided together as if it was woven. Each ogre wore two rope aprons that covered them from shoulders to knees, one in front, and one in back, and they were tied together with another length of rope around their bulging waists. They were hairless—no hair on their big square heads, no eyebrows, no beards on their jutting square jaws, no hair on their arms or legs. They came in different colors—the colors of jewels, actually. Blue, red, green, white, black, and violet—sapphire, ruby, emerald, diamond, onyx, and opal. They had clubs, and even the clubs were long rectangular beams.
“I have never known ogres to come in all colors of the rainbow,” said Urthorn.
“There are a lot of unnatural things about this dungeon,” Urroz answered. “Meanwhile, let’s kill them.”
The uruks swarmed the ogres, hacking at their legs and their clubs. Those with spears threw them, but the spears didn’t bite on the rope aprons, and such missiles fell away. Uruks rushed in and gathered up the fallen spears, then used them to poke and jab at ogre feet. They got kicked away for their troubles.
“Dodge!” said Urroz. Urarrth looked up and saw an uruk flying in his direction. He neatly sidestepped, and the airborne uruk came down on four of his fellow uruks that had just entered the room. They all went to the floor. The flying one got up. “Nice catch yer guyz!” he said in Uruk. Then with a whoop, he charged back into the fray.
Urpetar nudged Urcaryx. “This fight could go on quite a while.”
“Then let’s shorten it. You have all those poison darts, don’t you? And you need some target practice. You missed yesterday.”
“Too true,” said Urpetar sadly. A mischievous glint came into her eyes. “How many poison darts do you think it would take to bring down an ogre?”
“Let’s find out!”
“That’s Urkharf. He looks like he’s in trouble.” The red Ogre had the Uruk leader in one hand and was about to throw him into a wall.
“I’ll save him,” said Urcaryx. “Sleep you big red blockhead!” she yelled. Energy flew from her fingertips and hit the Ruby Ogre between the eyes. “ZZZZZZZZZ!” A thunderous snore shook the room, and he toppled over, still clutching Urkharf in his gigantic hand.
Pfffffttt! A poison dart flew across the room and struck the Emerald Ogre in the neck. It must have felt like an insect bite to him, because he slapped in neck and drove the dart in even deeper. However, he showed no signs of falling over. Instead he was flailing madly with his big square club. He caught one rushing uruk right in the chest, smashed it, and hurled the unlucky warrior across the room to crash head first into the wall above Urthorn’s head. That uruk’s skull split like a melon and splashed blood and brains all over the shortest delver.
Urarrth had reached the battle. He swung a mighty blow at the Emerald Ogre’s left kneecap, aiming his sword stroke below the apron. It felt like chopping down a tree. His mightiest hack produced a shallow cut that the ogre didn’t really notice because just then a second dart hit him right between the eyes. An ogre forehead is a very bony thing, and that dart bounced right off. The ogre did, however, slap himself in the head, and go reeling backwards from his own blow. Urrokko was behind him, and saw an opportunity. He threw himself into the Ogre’s ankles with enough force that the staggering monster toppled over backwards, and slammed his big green head right into a big granite boulder. His head split the boulder in half, but the ogre was knocked unconscious by the fall.
“Ow!” said Urroz. “Did you see that? These ogres are really hard-headed.”
“Two down,” said Urcaryx.
“Violet is a pretty color,” said Urpetar. “I wonder how many darts he could take.”
“Don’t shoot it in the head,” cautioned Urroz. “I saw that last dart bounce. The armpit might be a good target area.”
“It will take good timing to get a shot in between those rope aprons.”
Pffffttt! The dart stuck into a rope apron.
“I’m going for the blue one,” said Urcaryx. She concentrated, and then frowned. “Maybe not. He seems to have a very high resistance to magic.’
“Leave the fighting to the Uruks,” suggested Urroz. “We’re going to need your skill as a healer, I think.”
“That’s no fun,” Urcaryx grumbled, but she desisted from targeting the Ogres.
“We may need you to keep Urarrth alive,” suggested Urthorn. “I don’t think he’s ever fought ogres before. He doesn’t seem to be very good at it.”
Chopping ogres in the legs didn’t seem to be doing much good. Urarrth wondered if hitting them in the head or the neck would be more effective. But they were so tall he couldn’t hit them there. Maybe if he could climb the fake hill against the wall and get above an ogre, he could jump down on top of one and get in a telling blow.
The dwarven miners poured into the room. Swinging their pickaxes, they waded into the fray, not seeming to care whether they hit uruks or ogres. To be fair, it was only the back swings that hit any uruks, and then only because the room was now so crowded that any kind of swing would hit somebody.
The dwarves swarmed over the Opal Ogre. They could only hit him low, but every time one struck, his pickaxe got stuck in the Ogre’s leg. Some of the meaner dwarves attacked its feet, and when they drove their mining tools all the way through the Ogre’s bare feet, they eventually hurt it enough to make it fall over. Once it was down, thirty uruks swarmed over it and beat it senseless.
Three ogres were down. At least twenty uruks were wounded or dead. And the fight continued. Urpetar switched her target to the Sapphire Ogre. On her third try a dart flew between the aprons and struck it under the arm. “Owww!” bellowed the ogre. It aimed a smashing blow at Urugly, but missed, and reduced its own table to kindling.
Urarrth had climbed high enough so that he could jump onto an ogre’s shoulders, but none of the three remaining was close enough for him to reach. He could only watch and wait.
“Do you think you could soften the rock under an Ogre’s feet, and bring it down that way?” Urroz asked Urcaryx.
“I could do it once, but not for all three. Not if I want to have anything left for healing.”
“Do you think the dwarves know the spell?”
“They should. This is a pretty important spell.”
“Let’s ask them. “L’nnrrd, L’rrww, get over here.”
The Dwarven wizards had been organizing their miners for the next attack. Half were going after the black Ogre; the other half would tackle the white one. They told their workers to wait and trotted back to the relatively quiet part of the hall where Urcaryx, Urpetar, and Urroz waited and watched.
“What is it you wanted, Urcaryx?” asked L’nnrrd.
“Watch this next spell, my dwarven colleague, and tell me if you can do it.” Urcaryx concentrated and then gestured at the stony floor just below the feet of the blue ogre. The floor softened and turned into mushy sand, but the Ogre did not sink down into it as deeply as Urcaryx thought it would. Instead, she wound up liquefying a much greater area of the floor than she had planned. A number of Uruks were also engulfed in the sudden sea of mud.
“That is a most interesting spell, Urcaryx. We do not know it. Why would Dwarves want a spell to turn rock into water? One would lose all the valuable minerals that way.”
“The spell also works in reverse. One can turn mud into rock.”
The black dwarf looked puzzled. “Why would anyone want to do that?”
“These spells make it very easy to work with stone,” explained Urroz.
“I can see how that might be true,” said L’rrww, stroking the short golden beard on his chin. “But why would you want to make things easy? Dwarves never do things the easy way if there’s a better, harder way to do them.”
“Humans like to do things the easy way,” muttered Urroz. “And they get more done by doing it the easy way.”
“In this case,” explained Urcaryx, “the water-stone spell can help in combat. By casting it on the floor, we can mire the ogres down and get at their vulnerable heads more easily.”
“We like our plan, which is just to chop their feet to pieces with our pickaxes. That will bring them down, and the uruks can finish them off.”
“So you don’t want to learn my spell?”
“Perhaps another time, Urcaryx. There is a battle to be won.” They rushed back to their squads.
“I almost feel sorry for the ogres,” said Urroz. “I would hate to have a pickaxe, let alone ten, driven through my foot.”
The dwarves brought down the black and white ogres at almost the same time. The pickaxes hacked their feet to pieces, and they toppled, screaming in pain and anger. The uruks swarmed onto them, as did the dwarves. Dozens of blows hacked into them. The ogres flailed wildly with their clubs, and some uruks and dwarves were hit, but not enough were slain or batted aside to save the ogres. They died, stabbed through the eyes, the throat, hacked into pieces by the ravening uruks.
Then only the Sapphire Uruk remained alive. It sloshed through the mucky mess that Urcaryx’s spell had made of the floor, heading for the cave mouth. It meant to get inside the artificial cave mouth, which was barely large enough for an Ogre to enter, and then hold the door against all comers. It was so harried by uruks and dwarves charging at it, that it did not notice Urarrth waiting atop a boulder above the cave mouth. Just as it started to enter, Urarrth leaped down on its head and drove his broadsword straight into the ogre’s skull. It was tough, but not tough enough to survive a ten pound metal spike being pounded into its brain with all the impetus of a two hundred pound uruk falling on it and striking with all its might. The ogre crumbled at the knees and collapsed. Urarrth rode it down, holding onto the hilt of his sword as long as he could. Just before it hit the floor he lightly leaped free.
Urnatar and many other uruks had witnessed Urarrth’s feat. They sent up a bellow of approval. Urarrth beamed.
“And now let’s check up on those gems,” suggested Urthorn.
“You do that,” said Urcaryx. “I want to find out why my change stone spell didn’t work the way I thought it would.”
“I’ll go with you,” said Urroz. “I’m beginning to have some doubts about this place.”
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