Portal

The Crossing

Part 3: Gothu Brainpainuga

Written by Gor'bladz
Illustrated by T'berog

Shadows and greasy smoke filled the gloom of the wide cavern. Small fires provided a scant bit of light and enough heat for some cooking, but did nothing to chase away the damp chill in the underground air. Even if wood was not so scarce, large fires would make a lot of smoke. Smoke has a way of giving away your position, and in the cruel world of Outland, it pays to not attract attention.

Small groups of dour orcs sat and squatted in clumps around the cavern. There was not much talk. Most orcs attended to their own affairs. They scraped and sharpened their weapons with care but little enthusiasm. They gnawed disinterestedly on scraps of food and bone. Some conversed in low tired tones. A few simply stared off into space, willing the time to pass.

Most of the time the mood and atmosphere of the cavern changes little throughout the day. There simply was not much in terms of excitement. This was life on Outland, where some things are better than excitement. Survival is not always pretty.

On this day, however, the mood in the cavern was a little different. A small party of orcs had entered earlier and caused a small commotion in one corner of the cavern, but those orcs were no longer to be seen. They, along with several of the Clan’s nobs, had disappeared into a side chamber now covered with a heavy hide. In front of the door stood two hulking guards, their weapons drawn and ready, and their dented helmets cinched tight.

The heavy rawhide curtain blocked most of the light and sound coming from the side cavern. A small group of orcs lounging nearby pretended to not be trying to eavesdrop. Whenever one of them attempted to get a little too close to the door, a warning growl from a guard convinced him to step back. Something was up.

**********

Within the chamber, a small circle of orcs were standing around a tiny blaze in the center. A little ways away huddled up in a corner was the mining party that had discovered the portal. The gruntee in charge had told his story, and his part in this gathering was done. Now it was time for the nobs to speak and to decide what to do about the gate.

“It wuz just like da dushgund dat Gul’dan made agh used? It wuz just like da dushgund ob Ner’zhul, dat destroyed da whole uzg?” One of the nobs shot this at the gruntee in the corner. He simply nodded, and sat still.

The nob then addressed the two other leaders in the circle. “Slab has looked into da ghaash, agh seen great opportunities fir da clan. With dis new gate dere lies new blood to be shed, new ghaash to be spred, agh da chance to quench more ob our therst fir battle. Dis uzg is barren to us now, jist ah empty husk ob wat we wuz. Ghaashblud or odder, dis will be da chance to be da orcs dat orcs shud be."

The nob pulled out a dagger from his sheath. He cut his hand and balled it up tight. Blood began to drop into the fire as the nob forced more out. Soon the fire turned a low red hue. Trees and unusual critters of various species could be seen in the fire. “Led us go into dis portal agh capture our rite. Push into dis new uzg agh us will ghaash our legacy throo it. Us will rise up on da backs ob our enemies agh us will remain on top. Hoowah Ghaashblud! Hoowah Shadowclan! Slab bestest ad goin throo portals.”

The nob finished his speech and crossed his arms. He looked back and forth between the remaining two leaders. One of them stopped picking his nose for a moment as the other Nobs turned to him. “Wut? Oh.. hrm… “ The nob seemed lost in thought. The other Nobs knew this just meant he was trying to decide if he should eat the booger, or add it to his collection.

“Wul.. Bluk nub like dis idea. Der nub reezun us gotta go to da oomie uzg! Lats wan tu gib up on uz homland so fast?” Before the other orcs could add that the land was dying, Bluk slammed his hand into his pocket. “Look ad dis!” In his hand lay a small thorn. All but dead, it looked as if it were about to turn to dust and blow away with the slightest breeze. “Dis how lats see our uzg, our homeland! Lats want to cast it aside as if it wuz alredy ded!” “Wul, Bluk nub so redy tu gib up. Oomies stink!”

He threw the thorn on the ground, and with it, a blue spike of ice that had emerged from his finger tip. As the spike burrowed into the ground, a well of water formed. They all knew it was the shamans totem of health. The small thorn was almost drowned in the small puddle that was slowly forming at the base of the totem. But slowly, it began to reach down into the soil, twisting and pulsing as it buried itself down so that it could soak up more of the precious water. Bluk snatched it up and put it back in his pocket. “Dat Bluks gruks on dis subject.” And with that, he went back to picking his nose.

The last nob turned from staring into the darkness and looked directly at the space between the other two. His eyes were wild and had the disconcerting intensity of an orc on the edge. He spat into the fire and hissed, "Us weystin tyme! Us need tu gu, now - dis dushgund mey nub lasd!

"Da Buurz'traga muzt tayk da portul! Gakh cyculs agu da Buurz blahed to the buurz'mogs - da Buurz warnd us dis wuz kommin, dat uh portul intu da Buurz wud opun - suun - dat us wud be givn uh wey klosur tu wat us seek!

"Da Buurz'traga hav alreddy ghaashd dems huts, slawturd dems beests, agh drunk da blud in prepurashun fur da jurny. Us gu, agh gu NOW!"

Outland is an unforgiving land. Those who place haste above caution usually do not survive long. Yet the ground of the world also holds the bones of many who did not act quickly enough. Opportunity seldom presents itself in this grim world. Survival sometimes comes down to seizing it when it does.

**********

This time, both guards gave a warning growl to the increasingly bold and curious group of orcs, who now had begun sticking horns into their ears and placing them against the wall. Suddenly, the rawhide curtain abruptly jerked to one side. The two guards were surprised, but managed to part quickly as the nobs emerged. The purposeful stomp of their iron shod boots drew the attention of everyone in the cavern. Everyone turned to look, and many orcs began to scramble to their feet. The nobs reached the center of the cavern and fanned out a little, and there was a pregnant pause as they gazed out across the orcs.

“Shadowclan line up! Get lat butts in line now! Dis nub anee skahin buutcamp! Shadowclan is brak'n camp agh movin out!”

Totem of Health

Click above image for the full size illustration.

Continue on to part 4.

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