keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Re Verse All
Chapter 22: Hastings 193
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Beam 62
Lauren had more confidence in her prayer than in the makeshift rock hideaway the squad had quickly cobbled together, but the attention of the orcs was fixed on Tiras and his small group so their efforts to hide might have been irrelevant. A group of about twenty of the creatures, very human in their appearance from this distance, but more like primitive barbarian tribesmen sporting scars and other disfigurements, approached. As they neared, Tiras, obvious for his wings, stepped forward and spoke. Although his voice echoed in the cave it was neither loud enough nor clear enough for Lauren to make out the words--not that it was necessary, as the shape of the sounds told her he was making his formal self-introduction which she had previously heard. One of the orcs responded, not breaking formation, apparently introducing himself in turn.
Lauren noticed the wariness among the orcs. They seemed to know that there were more people in hiding, and were ready to be ambushed. She had no knowledge to help her assess just how strong an opponent twenty orcs would be against them, but it did appear to her that her side had superior position and the advantage of superior missile weapons. Still, she did not imagine that if it came to combat it would be an easy fight. She wondered what was being said.
She then wondered that she wondered. After all, she had the ultimate eavesdropping tools, and if she wanted to know what was being said she could easily listen. She hesitated a moment, but then decided that this wasn’t really a private conversation, so she focused her clairaudience on a point between the two leaders. The orc was speaking, in a rough heavily accented guttural voice.
“…a very dangerous road. No one goes to the drow lands. Even if they would receive you, the dangers of the journey are great.”
“We have reason to believe that they will receive us,” Tiras responded. “As to the dangers, we are stronger than we might appear.”
There was a hesitation, and Lauren decided the orc was trying to decide something. Then it spoke again.
“Take the third passage long this wall. It will lead you down toward the lands of the drow.”
Again there was a pause, and then Tiras spoke with the cadence of a carefully phrased question. “Some of my companions will not think it wise for me to take directions from an orc. What assurance can I give them that you have spoken truth?”
“I swear by the honor of the tribe of the black hand that to the best of my knowledge that path leads to the homelands of the drow. I have never followed it far, though, and have met no one who traveled it and returned.”
“Thank you,” Tiras said.
“Interesting,” Lauren said to herself. The orcs departed, continuing their journey. Tiras remained in place for several minutes, and then made a signal with one hand which apparently told the other squads to regroup. The squad leaders immediately went to talk with him, but Lauren had at this point dropped the clairaudience and turned her attention to wrangling the animals. In a few minutes they were back in formation and moving along the indicated wall in search of the third passage.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #359: Characters Engage. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: