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The Woodland Spirit


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The Orc Monastery

Charles Cruz Dueno

 

The elf entered the dimly lit main chamber. The musky aroma was mixed with the warm fragrance of the candles, obviously scented to mask the musk. On the walls hung old line drawings of several orc masters from past generations, detailing the rich tradition of their school. Towards the end of the room was a somewhat lavish shrine, draped in red fabric, several candelabra on either side and before it sat the old Orc master. A disciple of the enlightened path; one of the last Orc schools still left in the world.

 

The elf paid his respects at the shrine; it was a memorial to the first Orc master who had taught the Orcs to abandon their barbaric ways several centuries ago, and to respect life in all its forms. He taught them patience and honor, and with him ended the long bitter feuds with the other races of their realm, namely the Dwarves and Elves. They became the protectors of the woodland folk, when the humans would launch their ruthless campaign which threatened genocide.

 

The elves and dwarves were all but destroyed when the Orcs came to their aid, and so ended the millennium old dogma of the stereotypical Orc. Centuries later although they would maintain much of their physical traits, their nature was passive and gentle; a total misnomer of what they once were. That was however without its faults, for there were still some who felt the Orcs had grown soft and placid.

 

But it was a measure of any elven master to test himself against the Orcs. They were physically superior to any Elf as far as physical combat went, though the Orcs didn’t have the speed or grace of an Elf.

 

Today this Elven master was about to stand the test...

 

They both took their positions across from each other in the chamber. The Elves preferred the long sword as a companion to their bow; for when their enemies would close in on the range of their most effective weapon, the composite bow. The Orcs often choose various pole arms and long spears, for they had the physical strength to make best use of them; however they were masters of many weapons.

 

The elf drew his long sword and with a quick circular movement charged with an overhand cut. The orc expertly met the long sword blade with the edge of his spear, quickly guiding the momentum downward then returning with an upward cut, narrowly evaded by the spinning action of the elf. With the completion of his spin, the elf again struck with his long sword this time, with a cut in which the elf then pulled in and thrust the blade foreword.

 

Again the orc parried the attack with his spear misdirecting the momentum with a subtle body movement and a shift of footing to change the angle of engagement. He then return with a spear thrust of his own, only to be parried by the elven blade. The elf’s dexterity was impressive, for he managed to kick the orc off balance for but a moment, but that was all that was needed.

 

As the orc struggled to regain his footing, the elf continued his advance scoring a quick scratch off the orc’s thick right arm, followed with another spinning sword attack. These spinning attacks generated power for the elves, which were at a disadvantage to the orcs, but the orc master saw the error of the elven master. He smiled, briefly puzzling the elf who again scored with another sword slash.

 

The orc stepped aside the elf’s next attack and with an expert spin of the long spear swept the elf off of his feet. The elven master landed on his face, his ego bruised more than he was, but with a quick roll, the elf was back on his feet. The orc master was obviously impressed; this elf had studied well and perfected his technique, but he already knew where he failed.

 

The orc master advanced on the elf with a flurry of twirling spear movements which if anything were an attempt to distract the elf from his real purpose. The elven master however no amateur he was, quickly parried the orc’s attack with the incredible dexterity that elves were famous for. Within moments the elf had turned the orc’s attack against him, and returned with a flurry of his own.

 

The orc master however met this attack with yet another subtle side step, a quick twist of the spear, and the elf was again on his face. the elf was exhausted from the brief interaction and the orc was about to advance with yet another attack.

 

Another twirl of the spear and the orc held the spear at the ready from behind his back; his other hand extended to the elf to help him back to his feet. There were no words needed for this exchange.

 

While the elf felt the bitter sting of defeat, he also knew the orc master would never tell anyone of his defeat; such was the humble life of an orc master and a lesson in humility to the elven master who realized the real reason he was sent to the orc monastery by his teacher.

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I like it. Breaking stereotypes doesn't always work, but when it does, it can make for a good start on a world. Seems to me there's room for a lot of stories in that setting's history, especially the human-orc war and how that came out.

 

I don't know if you were setting out to invent a new setting, but that does have potential.

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The Woodland Spirit

Charles Cruz Dueno

 

He had been tracking the war party of humans which set out earlier in the evening from the neighboring kingdom to reinforce the siege of the woodland realm. They took great pains to mask their movements however Elric was an expert tracker. His family had passed their methods from generation to generation in terms of an elven lifespan. He had centuries to hone his craft.

 

It didn’t take long for the elf to catch up with the war party; they were out of their element in the woodland so they took every precaution not to be noticed, but Elric did. He studied their actions, their movements, their steps. All five of them were right handed; they donned studded leather armor, weighed each about 160-170 pounds, and were obviously conscripts of the local regent. Their weapons still smelled of oil, so Elric could tell they were fairly new in the human army, probably farmers pressured into service.

 

They were somewhat unsettled, Elric could tell by their jerky body movements and quick reaction to any sound they heard, be it a frog, a cricket, an owl or the intentional rustle of brush, he kicked up to further keep these men on their guard…..

 

Elric had already anticipated their path, it was the orc monastery; the regent of the neighboring human province had sought for years to undermine the monastery. He was ambitious and hungry for power; it was by a fateful accident that he assumed the leadership of the human province. Such a fate that no member of the former ruler’s family had survived…….

 

They heard a quick snap, a whistle and a thump which sent one of the humans sailing to his back. The human leader quickly took a defensive stance behind the nearest tree and turned to see his soldier writhing in agony on the ground. From his chest protruded an arrow, which the human leader could tell was made by the elves. Their craftsmanship had a distinct style.

 

One of the human soldiers tried to help his comrade but the leader warned him not to. The arrow was dangerously close to an artery and removing it would certainly kill the man. They realized Elric could have killed them at will,but now their advance to the monastery was slowed. A second arrow clipped the leader in the leg.

 

He fell to the ground screaming in pain, his bloody hands clamped over the wound. Immediately another soldier came to his aid, removing his weapons belt and making a quick tourniquet around his leader’s leg. Elric decided now it was time to leave. The human’s own fear would be their worst enemy, and now he could make his way to the orc monastery to find out what the humans wanted.

 

He had not set foot on the monastery grounds in several decades, not since his teacher had asked him to challenge the old orc master that resided there. It was there, he had learned the most valuable lesson to an elf warrior; that was to humble himself and be thankful for the gifts he had; to not let his arrogance blind his mastery of self. He had never talked about his defeat at the hands of the orc master; the elves figured as much.

 

He almost expected to see the old orc master sitting before the shrine; instead he saw the line drawing on the chamber wall with the old cuneiform detailing the life of this master. The orc monks never took a name; they believed to do so would be an extension of the ego, so they were simply known by their descriptions “him with the long grey hair” or “the one with the missing tooth.” As a means of finding peace with death, the orcs would write a brief statement of their life and values in their ancient script.

 

Strangely one of the letters in the line drawing did not resemble anything in the orc script. Most of the orcs could not translate this cuneiform, thinking it was a slip made by the master before he passed away, but Elric realized it was an elven cuneiform. It was one letter however the complexity of the elven language could extrapolate an entire statement or thought in that single letter.

 

He though about it a bit more, it was describing a place. “In the foyer, behind the fountain, in the rock face”. Elric thought to himself for a moment, and then decided he would investigate the fountain in the foyer. When he arrived at the fountain which was set against the stone wall, he stopped and scanned the room around him.

 

It wasn’t a lavish decoration, a few streamers here and there, dimly lit with a draft blowing through the floor.

 

A draft?

 

Elric set aside one of the streamers and began feeling around the wall. His elven fingers were able to prod into the crevices of each stone until he pushed against one which revealed itself as a false wall. With that push the entrance revealed itself exposing a small dark room.

 

It was here in this room he came face to face with his destiny. It was encased in a bone white scabbard with a single notch allowing the blade to be drawn with the push of his thumb. With no hilt guard, the weapon itself appeared as a walking stick but the blade itself was made of mithril, an old metal from an ancient time when elves were numerous in the woodland realm.

 

Up until now, Elric had only thought such things were of legend, of no real substance. The orc master obviously knew that someday he would no longer be around to protect the woodland, and he had chosen Elric as the new protector and wielder of the “Woodland Spirit”. This was the blade that could make a difference in the war for the woodland realm, and obviously the regent was determined to acquire this blade, and all of the secrets it possessed.

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The Ebony Crescent

Charles Cruz Dueno

 

The humans barely made it back to the province and the regent was not pleased. He was surprised that the elves still offered him resistance in the woodland realms. Had the regent not been in need of troops to continue his campaign against the woodland folk, he would have most certainly killed them where they stand.

 

The regent had sought this blade the “Woodland Spirit” for some time; he himself was an accomplished swordsman, however his temper was what gave him his reputation. It had earned him the name of the “Angry Swordsman”, a fierce warrior of the human kingdom. His rule was by the steel in his hands, the cold steel that very few but his arm would give life, in a dark metal blade called the “Ebony Crescent”.

 

Each day, he would practice for hours the craft of the Ebony Crescent; the skill required a certain level of strength beyond most elves, and a certain level of dexterity beyond most orcs. The curved single edged blade itself was a terrible weapon, specifically for hacking off the arms, legs or head of anyone foolish enough to cross its master. Some rumored it could cleave a man in two.

 

Only the dwarves could somewhat wield this blade as effectively as a human, though because of their size, the weapon could only be wielded with both hands; more so often then not, they would opt for an axe or hammer. Elves often found this type of weapon awkward, and would require a huge effort on their part to even be considered effective with it. Though the orcs could use it if they wanted to, they could never wield it with the same precision as a human, but because the curved single edged blade was designed for purely killing, they would avoid using this weapon whenever possible.

 

The humans however could use the blade with one hand or both if they wished to generate power with their attack; thus was the core of the Ebony Crescent style. It was deceptive in its execution; at first glance one would think nothing of its simple maneuvers, but the power generated by this weapon was more than enough to even cut through the metal of other blades and into the flesh of its victim.

 

The Ebony Crescent itself was said to be imbued with a dark magic cast by an old shaman, who placed three runes inside the hilt. It was lighter than a normal blade but far more durable. In many battles, the Angry Swordsman would ravage his enemy, slashing through their armor as if paper and often killing his enemies with a single stroke. With this blade, the Angry Swordsman subjugated many to his will, and threatened to become the master of all the human kingdoms.

 

With a blade like this, one wondered what he saw in the Woodland Spirit; but the Angry Swordsman wasn’t interested in the blade itself, rather he wished to crush the hope it represented. The hope that one day, an elven warrior would unlock its secrets and challenge the Ebony Crescent.

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hehehe.

 

thanks again.

 

I think I'll keep updating this from time to time. My "big campaign" is close to completion so I'll probably be sulking for something to keep the mind fresh. this is sort of a freestyle to me, I'm challenging myself to see how much I can write in a short amount of time, and how concise I can keep it.

 

(I got the tendacy to overcomplicate a thought I'm trying to express)

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