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The Song of Steel

Book One - Chapter 12

By W.R. Logan


Copyright 2004 W.R. Logan

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Unglar looked around his cell.  His head still hurt from the magic of the dart that had struck him.  In a distance he could hear faint voices coming from the other cells. Even with his night vision, the hallway was still too dark to see very far.  He listened as hard as he could, hoping to hear a familiar voice.  But then in these times, it was hard to tell friend from foe.  After all, it had been the castle guards that had attacked him.


While he was making his horse ready for the long ride, one of the Ronan men had attacked him.  The human had not counted on the reflexes of the half-ork.  By the time his sword had reached its mark, its mark had moved.


His ax, “The Goblin Splitter”, knocked the man through one of the stable walls.  The Elvin armor he wore had kept him from any real harm but the impact had knocked him unconscious.  Two other guards had been waiting right outside.


“You see,” one told the other, “I told you he couldn’t do it by himself. Just cause Nate’s as big and as dumb as an ork don’t mean he can fight like one.”


They drew their swords.  Both of their sword arms shook with fear as Unglar closed on them.  Unglar drew a deep breath and began to sound a blood curdling war cry.  As the sound gathered in his throat, Unglar felt a stab in the back of his neck.  He reached back and pulled the dart lose.  Weakness took him and he feel to his knees.


“I warned you three not to let him do that ork scream,” a thin high voice told them.


“Nate said he could take da ork by himself,” one of the men explained.


“I also said I wanted him alive,” the voice added, “Even a bastard to a ork king may be valuable later on.”


Unglar wanted to turn and see the man.  He willed his body to do as he commanded.  Instead, it let his arms go lax and drop his ax.  Then, the magic finished the work it had started and he slid into sleep.


He had woken up in this cell.  His armor was gone as well as his trusted ax.  Anger filled him to think of anyone else wielding “The Goblin Splitter”.  The ax had been a gift from a merchant that hailed from Baltiz. 


The people of Baltiz had been one of the first to accept the ork into their circles.  The rest of Kings Overlook had learned from the merchants of Baltiz, as they grew richer from the alliance.  Even with the raiders of Vale looting in other kingdoms, the goblins were still a problem to deal with on the plains.  Goblins were not as organized as the Vale knights had been but their arrows killed in the same way.


The councilman Conta was the first to contact the ork for their services.  Conta had promised them a percentage of the trade monies to safely escort the Baltiz caravans over the plains.  Chief Glandar had accepted the job.


Chief Glandar and Unglar had much hate in their hearts for goblins.  It had been a goblin arrow that had taken the life of Unglar’s human mother.  The chief would never admit to the love that he shared with Breta.  The ork would breed with humans but were told never to have feelings for or marry them.  The ork chief found other ways to show his love for the human.


He had forced the ork to allow Unglar in many ork rituals.  His mother took great pleasure in knowing her son would not feel an outcast.  She had lived with the ork for thirty years and had known that feeling for most of it.  Unglar wished she had lived to see the life the ork now lived.  She would have been happy in U’taliga.


Unglar had become a terror to the goblins of the plains.  The “Red Ork” the foul creatures called him because of his abnormal hair color.  They feared him more than they did the whole ork force.  Many thought Unglar to be foolhardy when it came to his hate of the goblin kind.  When there was no trade caravan to protect, the half-ork spent many days traveling caves alone looking for the camps of goblins.  It was said that his fate would soon be the same as his mothers.


This fear the goblins had of the half-ork made him a frequent request of merchants.  Their love of Unglar had made him rich beyond his dreams.  Each one showered the half-ork with gifts to earn his favor for the next trip.


His armor was the finest Elvin make with an enchantment that gave him strength in battle.  The boots, given to him by a merchant from Velda, let him run faster than his horse for short distances, his gauntlets ensured that he could not be disarmed by even the most cunning foe.  And then, his ax, “The Goblin Splitter,” this was his greatest treasure. 


The axe’s double blade was made of Velium and fashioned in the Elvin way.  The metal was rare.  It had not been mined since the times of trade with the Stouts of Turlack Mountain.  The Stouts, a mining people, had come to hate the ways of the surface and closed themselves off to the rest of the world.  The stories said they sealed their entrances with magic so strong that it could never again be opened.


When Unglar held his ax of Velium, he could see in the darkest of night as clear as day.  The Elvin smiting made the ax lighter than an ax half its size.  As if this was not enough, the merchant, Ardon, had also had an enchantment placed on it to make it glow when goblins were about. Ardon’s trade caravans had made it to the top of the half-orks list.


The voices were too faint to make out.  He was not sure if they were from other prisoners like him or his captors.  Either way, it wouldn’t matter.  If they were prisoners then they would be of no help to him.


Feeling stronger, Unglar took hold of the bars of his cell.  He pulled with all his might on the door.  It creaked in protest but did not give.  Then he grabbed one bar with both hands and heaved with all he had while using his great weight.  This resulted in the same outcome.  The door was built well.


There were no windows in the cell, which lead him to the conclusion that he must be in a middle cell.  King G’Leaze did not use these cells but for punishment of prisoners.  Unglar wondered if the king was punishing him for some wrongdoing.


No, this is not King G’Leaze’s way, Unglar thought.


Any creature in Kings Overlook was granted a hearing in front of the small council before being put into a cell.  If a person were innocent, then there was nothing to fear, and were he guilty, mercy may still be found.  But he was in the dungeon of Kings Overlook.  And if not by the order of the king, then by who’s order was he imprisoned?


Only the king and his daughters could order something like this done.  Brianna and Caitlin would not betray him.  The two of them had almost raised him.  Caitlin had taught him the graces of court and the refinement of her style of combat.  Mixed with the ork way, Unglar foraged a deadly blend of the two fighting styles.  And Brianna, his dearest friend, he could not even think such thoughts of her.


No, he decided, the royal family had nothing to do with this.


If the royal family had not ordered him imprisoned, then they were in as much danger as him.  The king would be well protected.  Caitlin and Brianna would not be caught off guard like Unglar.  And it would take far more than four men to take the two girls and the house guard.  The question was, were there anymore than the four of them?


After some thought, the idea that there would be only four spies did not ease him.  If there had been only four, then they could not have gotten him into the cell undetected.  So the dungeon guard had to be in it as well.  And the gate guards were aware that he was to ride out and would have come looking for him when he didn’t.  They had sounded no alarm.  It went to reason that the gate too belonged to the enemy.


A cell door opened somewhere close.  The sounds of a struggle followed close behind.  Unglar moved to his bars and struggled to see the newest arrival.  The torch on the wall beside his cell cursed his efforts.  Its glare deformed the shapes into just outlines.


Two large figures pulled a smaller one closer to a cell.  The small figure stomped at their feet and kicked at their shins slowing the job.  A sudden twist of weight almost gave the smaller figure freedom.  The freedom was short lived when a third figure came to help.


“Ouch,” one of them yelled, “she bit me.”


He drew back to punch the girl.  The girl was too quick for the man’s blow and moved her head to the right.  The punch landed on the chin of the big man holding her from behind.


“Just get her wrist in the bindings,” the frustrated man yelped.


The rattle of chains signified that the order was carried out.  The small figure continued the struggle till the pull of the chains forced it inside the cell.  The sound of a body slapping hard against the wall echoed down the hallway.


Two more men brought in another figure.  One of the first men took the prisoner and yanked him down the hallway.  He flung open a cell door and then slammed the form onto the iron bars.  The man punched the captive solidly in the face.


“Hold,” the large man commanded, “We ain’t  allowed to hurt that one.” 


He took hold of the hostage and flung him into the open cell.  The door was shut with a clang and the big man turned back to his party.


“Darious means to give him to the mad king,” he told them, “But he ain’t said nothing bout that, half-elf bitch.”


“Yea,” another chimed in, “look at my hand, the she-bitch almost bit off my finger.”


“Quit you’re whining, Imp,” the last man teased, “every woman you meet tries to beat you away from her.”


“That’s not true, Bones,” the man argued, “I got me a bunch of girls in Karal.”


“Yea,” the big one replied, “all livin in whore houses.”


The three of them laughed.  The sound of it beat in Unglar’s ears and fueled his anger.  These three were the same three from the stables.  The large one was the one he had knocked unconscious.  The two had called him Nate.  Now Unglar had the names of the other two, Bones and Imp.


There was only one of two people that the half-elf could be and by the savage way that she fought, Unglar could tell it was Brianna.  A crack of a whip followed by the scream of a female voice confirmed the fact.


“I like it when they scream,” joked Bones.


“The only way they scream for you, is if ya beatem,” Nate said.


Another sharp crack of the whip drowned the laughter.


Unglar looked on his wall and saw the metal cuffs attached to the long chains.  It was designed to hold a prisoner in place for his lashes.  Once bound, the captive was a helpless victim for his punisher.  The thought of what was happening to his friend and what could happen to her, brought his blood to a boil.  A fire lit somewhere deep in his soul.


The half-ork struggled against it.  He was smart enough to know there is nothing to fear from a raging animal in a cage.  It was a time to think and plan, not lash out uselessly.  But his rage grew with each whack of the whip.  Every painful shriek pushed him closer to the edge.  The battle cry rose in his throat and demanded release.  He was helpless against it.





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