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Volume 3189a
Presents

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

Chapter 26: Revelations

 
“Something is not right.” Urrokko said the words very quietly (for an uruk) to himself, but a few of his closer mates heard him.
 
“What do you mean, you rock head?” asked Urjax with a grin. “We are about to loot the gorgon’s treasure, and you think something is wrong?”
 
“Urrokko not say something is wrong. Urokko said something is not right. There is a difference.”
 
Urjax scratched his head. He did not know the difference between not wrong and right. The opposite of right was wrong, right? If something was not wrong, it must be right. Right? But the big uruk hadn’t said something was wrong. He said something was not right. The more he puzzled over it, the more his head started to hurt.
 
Urugly was close enough to overhear. “What do you mean, Urrokko? What do you think is not right?”
 
Urpetar, with her keen elvish sense of hearing, also picked up the comments. She went over to see what they were talking about.  “What are you talking about, Urrokko? What do you think is not right?”

The big uruk turned and looked at her closely. “Something about Urthorn is not right. Something about you is not right, Urpetar.” Urrokko scrutinized her intently.

“You are very thin and light for an uruk,” said Urrokko. ‘You have very fine skin. Urrokko not see a single wart on your face, and your tusks are very little.”

“Are you saying I’m ugly?” Urpetar feigned anger. She didn’t like the direction that this conversation was going.

Urrokko suddenly grabbed her.  He ran one big hand lightly over her face. When he touched her nose and ran his hand over her mouth his face twisted further into puzzlement. “I see nose holes and tusks in mouth, but I feel a nose and no tusks. How can that be?”

“Let me go, you big lunkhead, or I’ll bite your finger off!”

“Urrokko not believe you can bite finger off. Urrokko feel your teeth. They are too little.”

Urthorn saw Urpetar being manhandled by the big uruk. She hurried over and smacked him in the leg with the flat of her axe. In surprise he dropped Urpetar. She only fell a few inches, and she bounded back where he couldn’t grab her again. But Urjax snagged her instead. He, too, stared at her face. He hadn’t paid much attention to it before. He also pawed at her. “I see tusks, but I don’t feel tusks.”

Other Uruks began to gather round. That attracted Urarrth’s attention.  When he saw Urjax pawing at Urpetar’s face he let out a bellow of rage. “Urjax, get your hands off my wife!” He ran across the room.

Urjax hastily dropped Urpetar, who scuttled back toward Urroz and Urcaryx. All eyes in the room now focused on the developing scuffle.

Urjax didn’t know whether to bare his throat or run for his life. The big boss was coming straight at him, and he looked furious.

Urarrth didn’t know whether to strike Urjax down, or just scowl and curse at him. As it worked out, Urjax backed off a bit, and Urarrth held his hand. Urthorn reached up and grabbed Urrokko by his lower lip and yanked his head down to her level. “Yer has a problem?” she growled in Uruk.

“Ya,” he whimpered. “Urrokko not think yer a real uruk.”

“Yer not as dumb as yer looks. Come wit me, big guy. We straighten this all out.” She began to drag him toward the central dais. He either had to follow or fight, and he chose not to fight.

Petal reached Rose and whispered in her ear. “Urrokko has figured out that something is not right. He felt my face. He knows I’m not an uruk. I think he knows that Thorn is not an uruk, and in a little while it will occur to him that none of us are uruks. A couple other uruks heard him, and they will all be wondering.

“Then it is time for this masquerade to end,” said Rose. She thought as quickly as she ever had in her life. What made her the leader of her band of adventurers was her ability to think quickly and correctly in crises. If revelations had to be made, it would be best to control the situation, and not let it get away from her. “Let’s get up to the dais,” she told Calyx and Petal. Seeing L’nnrrd close by, she took his arm. “Come with me,” she said firmly.

“Arrth, get up here with us!” Rose yelled at him. Arrth dropped his pursuit of Urjax and turned toward the dais, walking side by side with Thorn. The large black hooked sword taken from Bjeggok was now in his hand, and uruks got out of his way.

The five leaders of Clan Cave Panther converged on the dais and took places with Arrth as the tallest in the center. Rose stood at this right hand with Calyx at his left. Thorn stood beside Rose and she now held Urrokko by his hand instead of his lip. Petal stood next to Calyx and L’nnrrd stood beside her. He was only slightly shorter than she was. The uruks and dwarves in the room were beginning to get the idea that something unusual was happening.

“Signal whistles now,” said Rose. They each took a small wooden whistle and blew hard upon it. There were five different notes sounded, but it all came out as just a shrill blast. The sudden noise shocked the room full of people into silence.

“Listen to us, all you members of Clan Cave Panther!” cried Arrth. “Listen and learn! Urroz is going to explain something to you all.” Although he had been pretending to be the leader of the group, Arrth really had no idea what to say in these circumstances. He wisely turned the problem over to the true leader.

“There are two things that we must do!” she shouted. “We must divide the treasure and speak the truth. What shall we do first, treasure or truth?”

By putting the idea of treasure in their minds she hoped to offset the shock that would come when the leaders of Clan Cave Panther took off their Uruk illusion amulets.

“Treasure! Treasure! Treasure!” came most of the shouts.

“Very well! Line up by squads with your leaders!” she told them. “Dwarves to the front! Urarrth, open the door to the treasure room!” Arrth went and opened the third door behind the throne.

“This is the gorgon’s treasure room!” she told them. “All of the loot that the gorgon has ever taken from her victims is piled in this room.” Her sweeping hand gesture indicated the open doorway.

“The dwarves actually fought the gorgon,” she told them. “It is right that they should have first pick of the treasures. And the first of all shall be W’ggttn, who suffered the most and has been transformed into a rock bug. Come forth, W’ggttn!”

The new rock bug scuttled up onto the dais with the leaders. W’ggttn was a curious combination of rock bug and dwarf. His body had become that of a huge beetle, complete with boulder-like carapace, but his head remained dwarf-like, although he had mandibles jutting out of his mouth. His arms looked like brawny dwarven arms except that his hands had become crab-claw pincers. He could still talk.

“Can you change me back into a dwarf? Can you break this curse?”

“I am not a wizard,” said Urroz. “Urcaryx is my wizard. Can you help him, Urcaryx?”

“I cannot do anything now,” said Urcaryx. “I do not understand the magic that transformed you, W’ggttn, but I promise I will work to restore you to your natural form.”

“Thank you, Lady,” said the bug.

“In the mean time, you shall have first choice of the treasure, and a cheer. You may well become a story that will never die.” Urcaryx turned back to the room full of warriors.  “Three cheers for W’ggttn!” she called.

The room erupted in thunder. The uruk custom was to stamp their feet when they cheered someone, and one hundred fifty feet stomping on the floor created quite a din. “W’ggttn! W’ggttn! W’GGTTN!”

“You shall go first, W’ggttn! You have ten heartbeats to choose something and come back out. Take only one item!” Rose told him.

“Hearing and obedience,” cried the bug.

“Everyone count!” ordered Urarrth. “Now!”

“ONE! TWO!”

W’ggttn scurried into the room full of treasure.

“You go next, W’rrdd,” said Urroz.

“THREE! FOUR! FIVE! SIX! SEVEN! EIGHT!”

W’ggttn scurried out of the room holding high a gold ring with a ruby set into it.  The gorgon’s hall erupted in cheers.

“Go now, W’rrdd!” shouted Urroz.

“Count!” bellowed Urarrth.

The dwarf warrior dived into the room.  The hall rocked with counting, and the stamping of feet.

The pandemonium continued for well over an hour. Not everyone got jewelry, or even weapons, but everyone got something, until only the five leaders of Clan Cave Panther had not gone to get anything. Even Urrokko had gone in, and come back out with a pair of boots that were actually big enough to fit his oversized feet.

Some time during the chaos Urthorn and L’nnrrd took over the procession of treasure takers. Rose and Arrth and Calyx retired to the gorgon’s bedroom to discuss strategy.
 When they came back out, Urarrth knew what to say.

When the treasure sharing was over, Urarrth gave his army some time to admire their loot, make some trades. He had Urnatar, Urkharf, and Urdarg break up any fights or scuffles that broke out. And when the time was right, he called for silence.

When the noise level dropped to zero, Urarrth bellowed at them. “I am the Boss of Clan Cave Panther! Who are you?”

The dwarves didn’t say anything. The uruks roared, “Cave Panther! Cave Panther!”

“We had good fights!”

The uruks agreed vociferously.

“We got good loot!”

The uruks cheered and stamped and bellowed and whistled. Many of the dwarves joined in.”

“What is the best clan ever?”

“Cave Panther! Cave Panther! Cave Panther!”

Urarrth held up his hands for silence. Urroz, Urcaryx, Urpetar, and Urthorn joined him on the dais.

“Watch now!” he yelled.

He took off the uruk amulet and stood revealed as the human warrior he really was. Rose took off her amulet and stood revealed as a woman. Calyx and Petal revealed themselves as elves. Thorn revealed herself as a dwarf.

At first there was dead silence. Then a mutter of dismay ran through the crowd.

“Do you think I am your enemy?” roared Urarrth.

“Urarrth is not enemy,” said Urrokko wonderingly. “He is the Boss.”

“You are the boss!” yelled Urnatar.

“You are the best boss ever!” yelled Urkharf.

Then the room was yelling and stomping and cheering again. “You are the boss! You are the boss!” Some yelled it in the uruk language. “Yer is da Boss!”

“How many of you have been healed by this elf?” yelled Urarrth.

“Me! Me! Me! Urkharf! Urgund!” Uruks called out in response.

“You think she is your enemy?”

“No! No! No! No!”

“She is the Healer!” yelled Urarrth!

“Healer! Healer! Healer!” bellowed the uruks.

“She is the gorgon slayer!”

“Slayer! Slayer! Gorgon Slayer!” bellowed the uruks.

Urarrth beckoned Urthorn forward.  “Who is this?” he bellowed

“Urthorn! Urthorn! Urthorn!” roared the Uruks.

“Does anyone fight better than Urthorn?”

“No! No! No! No! She is the best?” shouted the uruks.

Arrth motioned to Thorn to put her amulet back on. She slipped it back over her head, and became to all appearances an uruk again.

“Is anyone uglier than Urthorn!” shouted Urarrth.

“No! No! No! No! She is the ugliest uruk of all!” roared the uruks. It was a very high compliment coming from them.

“That’s my woman!” bellowed Urrokko, getting up on the dais and pounding on his chest.  He put his hand on Urthorn’s helmeted head and glared out at the mob of Uruks  on the floor and amongst the pillars. The crowd went wild.

Thorn permitted it for now. She was actually growing fond of the big uruk, but there was no way she was going to be his woman once they got out of the Pits.

Urarrth put his amulet back on, and once again became a big ugly uruk. He brandished his anti-magic sword, and when it came too close to his amulet the Uruks could see a double image of him, both uruk and human, but once he got it over his head, he looked all uruk again. “Urarrth is da boss!” he bellowed in Uruk, having practiced the phrase before he started the revelations.

“Da boss! Da boss! Urarrth is da biggest boss ever!” chanted the uruks in a delirium of joy.

The ladies in the party put their amulets back on, and once again looked like uruks. The truth had been revealed, and they were stronger than ever for it, but there was no point in flaunting their differences in front of the army.

The uruks were having the best time ever. They stomped and shouted and pounded each other, calling out, “Da boss! Da boss! Da biggest boss ever!” Some of them even danced, an awkward hopping sort of dance. Uruks were known to be savage, but that meant they were also very emotional. Arrth’s speech, and the fight with the gorgon, and the treasure on top of all the other fights and ceremonies they had been through in the last two days had worked them all into a frenzy of loyalty and exultation unlike anything ever seen in the dungeon before.

At that moment something flew into the room. It hummed like a large insect as it zigged and zagged through the pillars. Coming out into the area around the throne it rose high, circled three times, and then made a bee-line straight for Rose. Everyone had a hard time seeing what it was until it suddenly landed on Urroz’s shoulder.

“I’ve finally found you,” said Karalialin the fairy. “I hope you are coming to Cherry’s rescue, because I don’t know how much longer she can hold out.”
 

 

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