CHAPTER I: THE RAID

A SANTHARIAN NARRATION

 
The Frethoni Book of Fables   
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Introduction. Heir'gor, a young Trk'matiu bard, is surprised by a Losh-Oc hunting party and fails to escape the orcish search for food. Having to fear that every minute in the orcish camp might be his last, Heir'gor finds interesting means to keep the orcs distracted...
 

eir’gor plucked the lute strings again. There, that was a sour note. Carefully he adjusted the string tension to the right pitch. The herd of tirpans a short distance away twitched their ears, but they were used to the young Trk’matiu bard and did not object to his music.

'Vir’tiert', he thought, remembering the smile that sparkled in the big dark eyes and the golden voice that had caught his interest. Heir’gor was famed for his own spectacular vocal range, which spanned nearly four octaves, but Vir’tiert’s contralto was one of the loveliest, clearest female voices he had ever heard, and she was the subject of his current musical project.

The Bard chewed his fingernails. She’s unique; 'I’ll use a minor and set it for baritone range', he decided. Intent upon his work, he did not notice when evening began to creep across the Oros. He did notice when he heard the tirpans neighing and the thudding of their pounding feet, getting closer and closer. Heir’gor sprang up and saw the tirpans charging down upon him.
 

The Losh-Oc Orcs

View picture in full size Picture description. The Losh-Oc orcs. Pic by Quellion.

The frightened bard clambered frantically to the top of a high rock. From there he watched the tirpans stampeding past in amazement. The wild horses were normally calm, placid animals. What could have frightened them so?

And then he saw, and terror gripped him. The Losh-Oc were hunting.

Heir’gor tried to flee, but one hunter saw him, pursued him and threw his hunting spear. It glanced off the Bard’s thigh, but was enough to make him stumble and fall. The Oc was upon him. Its fist descended onto his skull and the Bard knew no more.

Heir’gor awoke to a terrible pain in his head and a horrible noise, which sounded like a cross between a growl and a hacking cough. He opened his eyes cautiously and nearly passed out again from the shock. He was in a small dark space and there were three young Losh-Oc sitting near him, watching with avid interest. A larger one hulked nearby, benignly watching the youngsters, who were talking to each other in the horrific sounds the bard had heard. One noticed his movement and lunged forward. Heir’gor recoiled and instinctively lashed out with his feet, knocking the young orc aside. He blacked out for a few moments from the stabbing pain in his head, which was not improved when the other orcs started to make dreadful screeching sounds. Suddenly the bard realized - they were laughing.

‘Well,’ the Bard thought, with the one rational corner of his mind that was not gibbering with absolute terror, ‘If I can amuse them, they may not kill me. The Losh Oc only eat enemies who they admire for strength or viciousness, not someone who is funny but harmless, weak but interesting. Carefully, trying not to jar his head again, he sat up. As the small orcs turned towards him, Heir’gor uttered a hasty prayer to Lier’tyan and began to sing.

If he were not so desperately frightened, he could have laughed at the shock that was evident on their faces. They stopped short and watched him with complete fascination. The bard sang for his life, first the dramatic “Theme of Arkan Delath”, but then changed to softer, more soothing songs. The young orcs crept closer and gazed up at him with big eyed-wonder. The adult watched with a horrendous grimace on its face. No, not its, for the bard suddenly realized the orc was a female. And the grimace was an orcish smile.

When Heir’gor stopped singing, the three little orcs were sleeping. The adult grimaced again, struck her chest, and made a harsh coughing noise. Heir’gor watched her apprehensively but she simply repeated the sound. Then he realized she was trying to tell him something. He mimicked the nois - to his ears it sounded like "Krou-ghh-cha"h - with an indescribable throat-clearing noise in the middle - and was rewarded with a repeat of the smile. Then she pointed at him. The bard touched his chest and said, “Heir’gor”.

“Hrrgorr!” Kroch’cha repeated. And thus began one of the strangest foreign language lessons in all of Caelereth.

 


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