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Volume 3188a
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ROSE OF STORMGAARD
A Serialized Fantasy Adventure Novel
By Ken St. Andre

Chapter 23: Onward

They had gone back into the Ogres’ Chamber to recuperate and gather up those troops that hadn’t gone out into the hall with them. Urroz allowed half an hour for boasting and getting the troops re-organized under their four lieutenants. Those who had helped destroy the brass menagerie were immensely pleased with their trophies, and those who had remained behind were envious and determined to win their own glory at the next opportunity. One thing they had all figured out was that life in Clan Cave Panther was never going to be dull.

“I think we need to get moving again as quickly as we can,” stated Urroz. “I just have a feeling that time is not our ally in this place.” She said all this just before biting off a mouthful of waybread. Her wine canteen was in her other hand.

“You’re right,” agreed Urcaryx. “The sooner we link up with the other adventurers, the better for us all.” The high elf wiped her mouth, a dainty gesture for an uruk, but she was seated in a place where none of the true uruks in the room could even see her.

The others had already finished their snacks. Urarrth finished a swig of wine and unleashed a huge belch that could be heard all over the hall.  Several uruks looked over in his direction.

“Dat’s da big boss!” said Urkharf proudly.

“You are really enjoying your life as an uruk chieftain,” commented Urroz. What would have been a scornful lift of her eyebrows on her human countenance was just another grimace on the uruk face she now wore.

“I had no idea that uruks had so much fun in life,” Urrarth answered with a twinkle in his eye and a chuckle in his voice. “I never knew what I was missing.”

“We should recall the dwarves,” suggested Urthorn. “They could be useful.”

“Do you think they will return after that craven display of cowardice?” asked Urpetar.

“Let’s hope so,” said Urrarth. “They are good fighters when not in a panic. And I’m thinking we may need the ability to dig through stone.”

“Does anyone remember how to signal them?” asked Urcaryx.

“I do,” answered Urthorn. “Let’s take it out into the halls to try it. I’m not sure it would work here in the ogre’s chamber.

Four of them left the room. Urpetar went over to get Urnatar and tell him it was time for the two of them to start scouting again. Urnatar put Urjax in charge of the squad and joined her.

“We need something metallic to pound the walls with,” said Urthorn. “I guess my axe will do.”

Urarrth drew his broadsword. It was nicked and dulled from all the hard fighting he had been doing with it. “Save the axe. Use this instead, Urthorn. It’s not much better than a long metal rod now.”

The dwarf in uruk disguise gave him a tender look. Thorn had never known a human to think of others before, much less to care about someone else’s weapon. He was right, of course. The axe was worth at least four times the sword in dungeon combat, especially when she wielded it, but to have a human notice that and act upon it, that was unusual. She definitely liked this boy.

She took his sword and banged on the wall four times with it. Clang, clang, clang, clang! She was careful not to use the edge. One side of the blade would still cut better than the other.  “That was the pay attention signal.”

About a minute later the reply came. Clang-clang, clang-clang, clang-clang, clang-clang! Urthorn smiled. “They are listening. Now this is the tricky part.” She took the crossguard of the sword and scraped it hard against the wall. It wasn’t quite the same sound that the Dwarf’s staff had made, but it was a scraping buzz. Then she did a fast fifty raps with the end of the blade.

“Fifty?” asked Urroz. “That’s a lot of Dwarves to ask for.”

“We might as well see what we can get.  I’m thinking there’s still a big fight ahead of us, and the more the merrier.”

They gave each other wolfish grins, and waited for a reply. Urthorn handed the battered sword back to Urarrth. He looked at it ruefully. “I need a better weapon.”

“Urrokko has Bjeggok’s sword. Maybe you could get it away from him,” suggested Urcaryx.

Urarrth called Urrokko over to him. “Urrokko, I want your sword.”

“It is my sword, boss. I like it.”

“My wizard tells me I am going to need it. Will you trade for it?”

“What would you give me?”

“I will give you my old sword, and ten gold pieces. Do you think that would be a fair trade?”

“I would like to help you, boss, but this is a good sword. The gods gave it to me. Did you see how it flew right into my hands when Bjeggok died?”

“Yes, I saw that. But if I wasn’t fighting him, he wouldn’t have died. That should be my sword by right of conquest.”

“It’s mine, but I will trade it to you if you will give me something I really want.”

“That sounds fair. What do you really want?”

“I want one of your wives. I have never had a woman.”

“And I have four. I see your point. Alright, which one do you want?”

“I would like the short one. She is the meanest and the toughest, and she has a good axe.”

“Are you sure? I think Urthorn might be too mean and tough for you. She is almost too mean and tough for me.”

“How can he say such things about me?” asked Urthorn. “I’ve never been mean to him.”

“He is building up your value so that Urrokko won’t feel cheated,” answered Urroz quietly.

“I can handle her,” said Urrokko confidently. “She is only a woman. I will give you the sword for her and your old sword.”

“It’s a deal. Give me the sword.” Urarrth turned to Urthorn and winked. “Urthorn, you are no longer my wife. You now belong to Urrokko.” The big uruk grinned and handed over the sword.

“Oh, no, you have that wrong, Boss,” snarled Urthorn. “He now belongs to me.”

“Wut?”

Urthorn wasted no time. She walked over to Urrokko and kicked him the shin, not quite hard enough to break his leg. He howled, grabbed his leg, and began hopping on one foot. Then Urthorn stomped on the one foot he still had on the ground, definitely breaking some toes. The big Uruk fell over, still howling in pain. Urthorn ran up and put one booted foot on his throat, hard enough to hurt, not hard enough to injure. She also let the point of her axe rest on his chest, letting it rest with just enough pressure to draw a trickle of blood. “Now Urrokko, who belongs to who?” she snarled.

“I belong to you, Urthorn,” he said very humbly.

“And don’t yer fergits it!” she added in Urukish. She took her boot off his throat, her axe off his chest. “Give your sword to the boss.” She reverted back to the Common Speech so that everyone could understand her. “He’s going to need it, and you wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway.”

Urrokko climbed gingerly to his feet. He limped a bit because one foot had broken toes. He traded swords with Urarrth.

Urcaryx beckoned him over to her. She put one hand on his big hairy foot—the foot that was beginning to swell up and turn purple—and healed it.  The big uruk would have never said a word about the pain he was in, just limped along as well as he could, but he broke into a big tusky grin when the pain ebbed away and the swelling magically subsided. “Urrokko is yer servant, lady,” he told her in Urukish. Urcaryx gave him a rather tusky grin of her own, patted him on the butt, and told him to move along.

“Dat’s da meanest woman I has ever seen,” Urnatar told Urdarg admiringly. Many of the uruks were looking at Urthorn with gleams in their bloodshot eyes. They all envied Urrokko.

They heard a clanging from the wall. Clang-clang-clang, clang-clang-clang! “That’s the heard and understood signal,” said Urarrth. A series of rapid clanks followed. “Count them,” said Urroz. “I am,” answered Urarrth. Thirty-five clanks came out of the wall.

“I think they’re telling us they only have thirty-five Dwarves they can give us,” said Urarrth.

“That’s a lot better than none,” said Urroz. “Let’s get moving. We can do a clank on the wall every few minutes to let them know where we are, and count on them to catch up.”

Urroz beckoned to Urrokko. “You walk with Urthorn now. You are the official clanger, because you have the clanging sword.” The big uruk beamed. One honor after another for him.

Urnatar and Urpetar took the lead. The troop headed back into the dungeon.

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