“Is that Dwarf painted GREEN?!”

Inside the tavern of a town, so small to not appear on any maps, an extremely disgruntled paladin vents his frustrations out to a warm and listening dwarf cleric. She nods silently as the paladin lets it be known he is fed up with his holy career, “All I do is retrieve holy artifacts for church’s that seem all too good at losing them, risk my life, and them I’m expected to live off the gratitude of the church? Gratitude and thanks don’t fill my belly” he finishes with a long grunt, followed by a longer chug of ale.

Across the room at the bar, a lavish and handsome rouge sits, lightly sipping a foamy mug. Chatting up every lady he can find in the joint. Brandishing a smile so large, it seems to light up the entire room, and a laugh so boisterous, the next town over can hear. As the rouge slides his way over to yet another of his targets, the tavern door explodes open, inviting the chill of the autumn night. In rushes a half elf, dressed in lavish robes, gray hair pulled neatly into a ponytail, gray beard neatly trimmed, not a hair out of place.

“Attention! I require your attention, everyone if will please, silence your conversations!” Those who lived in the town immediately went quite, and were quick to shush the traveling adventurers. “For those who do not know me, I am the mayor of this small town. My scouts have spotted a small Orc band stealing from and harassing the nearby farmers. I have not the men required to fight a band of Orcs and have enough left to defend the city, so I come to the tavern in search of traveling adventurers who will, for a reward of course, eliminate these orc scum from my doorstep. Food and transportation for the journey will be provided, and upon a successful return, each person will be able to commission one item from the towns wizard. Are there any takers?”

The bar immediately erupts into gossip. The towns people panicked at the thought of an Orc tribe so close to home. Eyes quickly dart around the room, trying to find someone who will be the first to volunteer for this dangerous mission.

After was seemed a lifetime, a grouchy voice speaks up, “As I paladin, I guess I should be one of the people to go, so sign me up, you with me dwarf?” his voice getting more irritated with each word, he grunted and fell back to his seat.

A slight nod is all the cleric gave to the paladin, not much for words, uncommon for a dwarf.

“Fantastic!” shouted the mayor, “Are there anymore takers?”

“Why the hell not? Been a while since I’ve killed an Orc, might be time I polished up the skill” said the rouge, wielding his smile as always.

“I am most humbled, great adventurers. Please rest in our inn, free of charge, and tomorrow at noon a wagon with your previsions will be waiting for you. I will see y’all out of the city tomorrow, for now, rest well” the half elf spun on his heels and walked out of the tavern into the night.

The next day the two rested hero’s and a very hungover rouge were met at the city gate by the mayor who was standing next to a large covered wagon, tethered to two horses. “What a splendid morning it is for killing Orcs is it not? The wagon has been packed with enough food, water, and camping supplies for a full tendays journey, not that we expect you to be gone for that long, but still. Now, down the business, the Orcs were last spotted about a half days ride south from here. In order for you to claim your full reward, I will need proof of the Orcs death, bring me back a few ears and that will be more than enough. I thank you again brave heros and wish the best. I must be off now to tend to other important matters, my squire here will fill you in on any needed information.” He gave a slight bow, and was off.

 The three loaded up into the wagon. Cleric at the stirrup, paladin riding next to the dwarf, and the rouge made use of the covered wagon to sleep off his hangover. The afternoon went by  smoothly and night quickly fell. A small fire was made, guard shifts were given and the party rested. Morning soon came and they were off again. After about two hours of ridding, the paladin spotted a large green figure in the distance.

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“‘or the last time ya buffoon, that rat you have there is no god! An armadillo ain’t a right form ‘or a god!”

“Dale god, that final.” The much larger Orc said glaringly at the oddly small and bearded Orc.

“Bah! Moradin be the true god, ain’t no rat a god! I’ve been telling ye this, but ye don’t listen! I’ll skin yer god and make me a nice pair o boots!”

“NO TOUCH DALE!” screamed Ghurn, spit flying out of his mouth. “Dale god, tell me so. Mor-a-dn no god.”

“That does it! Give me that rat!”

As the curious Orc chased the armadillo named dale across the field, Ghurn let out a loud chuckle, knowing Dale could easily out run him.

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“We come in good faith and offer food and water to you if you lay down your weapons Orc! I swear as a Paladin of Bahamut that no harm will come to you.”

“No, I keep weapon, you leave food”

Seeing this argument was getting him nowhere, the Paladin laid down his sword, picked up two medium sized sacks of food and began walking towards the very surprised Orc. As he came within twenty or so feet of him, he spotted a Dwarf, painted green, running full speed after an armadillo, who was scurrying in a path towards him. He dropped the sacks of food and moved to intercept the creature. Bending down he scooped up Dale, the Dwarf stopping dead in his tracks, a look of pure panic on his face. “Drop the damn rat! He screamed. It was not what he said that perplexed the paladin, but the way he said it. It almost seemed as if he was more worried about the paladin’s safety than his own.

“NO TOUCH DALE!” was the last thing he remembered hearing as the ground around him began trying to entangle himself and his party. He looked up in just enough time to watch as this monstrous, raging, Orc barbarian crushed his breast plate with a single swing of his falchion. Dropping the holy warrior to his knees.

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Floyben the green painted dwarf quickly drew his wooden shield and hammer, shoved the paladin behind himself and screamed in Orcish, “I command you to yield!” but it fell on deaf ears Ghurn raised his sword once more.

Meanwhile, the party rouge, stumbled out of the wagon to see what all the commotion was about and was stunned by what he witnessed. Always the quick thinker, the rouge knew this enraged Orc would make quick work of the remaining cleric and himself, so combat was not an option. Instead he thought to gain the Orc’s favor. Clearly the Orc was fond of that armadillo he named as Dale. A peace offering to Dale might be enough to save his life, as foolish as that may sound. The rouge searched the wagon and pulled out a bushel of grapes, and so nimbly tossed them in front of the small creature, who began to sniff them, then lightly nibble on them. Never once breaking eye contact with the rouge.

The second orc, the one who was previously conversing with the now injured paladin ran behind Ghurn in an attempt to grapple and restrain the massive Orc, “Stop brother! They have food!” What the Orc didn’t notice was that the rock he thought he kicked on his sprint over, was in fact, Dale.

Ghurn only hear the small whimper, the rest of the world was silent. Dropping his weapon, Ghurn threw his elbows back to break the grapple of his kin, unknowingly shattering its rib cage and killing it. Ghurn sprinted at the injured animal, screaming in Orcish, weeping visibly. He cradled the creature in his arms, more delicately than any Orc would ever be. Opening a pouch, he pulled out a few goodberries and squeezed the juice into Dales mouth. The armadillo opened its tiny eyes and gave out a small whimper, licking Ghurn’s hand. The Orc gave a relieved sigh and placed his god into a small cloth satchel for it to rest.

“Damn ye, ye blasted fool! Ye almost killed an innocent paladin! What I been training ye for ye damned Orc! Ye killed the other one, over what? That damned rat! I ought to skin ye!” Shouted Floyben in harsh Orcis. He turned to the bewildered strangers, sheathing his weapons, and laying his hands on the paladin. A quick prayer to his god and the green dwarf cleric had the paladin standing again.

“Y’all have any ale in that wagon o yers?”

The group stood wide eyed, sights never leaving the Orc who only a few seconds tried to take their heads off.

“Ah don’t ye worry about that one, he ain’t no trouble any more, if ye got ale, I got answers to them questions ye be thinking.”

 

To be continued.

 


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