Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gorluck And The Orc Mines

Gorluck and The Orc MinesDavid B. Beaver
Gorluck Moorefiend, blacksmith extraordinaire contentedly
beat the red-hot iron with a perfect combination of power, precision, and grace
that only an orc of his stature could deliver. Sparks flew from the metal as he
fitted it with his hammer into a new, shining sword. When at last he finished he
took the blade from the anvil and cooled in a steaming water basin, and placed
it on one of the many shelves of his dimly lit shop. Green skin glistened, damp
with sweat from the heat of his forge, and stretched over a massive sinuous
layer of muscle. He released a contented sigh, arms crossed and a peaceful smile
on his face. Arlisburg stood proudly, the sprawling capital city of Davainia,
and one of the most prosperous and diverse cities in the northlands. Only in
this city could an orc like him live peacefully with humans, and work hard as he
had to successfully build a better life. All that eluded him now was that
special female and the family he would raise with her, but he knew that would
come with time.
Suddenly a creak sounded and a light bell rang to announce the opening of a door. Gorluck
glanced at the timid, nervous looking man as he paced nervously around the small
shop. He stared hopelessly at the shelves of weapons scattered all about. He
rubbed his chin in frustration, trembling evermore nervously, fidgeting and
playing with a thin, light brown mustache. Clad in old, worn, rusty iron armor
he paced more and more frantically.
“A city this size you’d think you could find something so simple as…”
“Armor…?” Gorluck interrupted his spoken thoughts. His gruff voice pierced the air and shook the timid man, who jumped and gasped at the sound of the orc’s frightening voice. Fortunately, he retained his composure as the tall, intimidating humanoid approached. “I only make weapons, I make them the better than anyone in Arlisburg too,” he boasted with a grin. “But I don’t touch that armor stuff.”
“No, no, I’m looking for a weapon, a great sword to be exact.”
“Oh…?” the orc said. “We got plenty of those, but you don’t look like the type to wield
a great sword, you might strain yourself. May I suggested a short sword to help
you build up your skills? I got a nice gold one here if you’re a big spender…”
“Oh it’s not for me, but for my master. He’s the great paladin Rondar Benedict, of the
Order of the Just Ruler.”
“Another paladin order I never heard of? Are they new?”
“No they’ve been around for…never mind I need to find him a great sword, but none of these will do.”
“Heh! He’s a picky one eh? Well I have some fine jewel studded great swords he might
like, they’re in the storeroom, I was saving them for a special occasion but…”
“No, no! I need to find him…the perfect sword. It must be exceptionally crafted of the perfect metal suited for a paladin of his stature.”
“Describe it, maybe I can help you find it.”
“Well, it has to be light as a feather in weight.”
“Copper…” the orc suggested.
“It must shine brightly and blinding in the light of the sun…”
“Polished silver…”
“It must deliver a deadly blow of death, and be hard and stubbornly unwilling to bend or
“Iron,” mused the orc.
“No, no!” said the man. “It must be a rare and valuable substance, expensive…”
“It must be an incorruptible substance, a substance of purity, untouched by any tarnish,
incapable of rust or decay. A substance of beauty and eloquence, and one that symbolizes the very virtue of purity.”
“Mithril.” They both said in unison.
“Ok, you want Mithril, you’ll get Mithril,” said the orc. “come back in exactly two days
from this date and I’ll have it for you.”
Gorluck proceeded wordlessly to put on his finest suit of heavy plated armor, made by a
dwarf friend of his. Then he buckled a belt around his waist, equipped with
several sheaths, which he loaded up with small throwing axes. He took off his
shoes and wore his finest, hardened leather boots and covered up his head with a
rusty metal helm. Then he took his finest silver, great axe and rested it gently
on his shoulder.
“Wha-what are you doing?” the man stuttered. “Where are you
“I’m going to get your Mithril so I can make your weapon. There’s only one mine in
this region that has it, and getting in won’t be pretty. Tell your master I’m
charging him extra for any limbs I lose, and triple if it costs my
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Birds sang and a soft breeze blew through the air. Somewhere in the distance the faint
flowing sound of running water could be heard, Gorluck knew he was close.
Nonetheless he walked slowly, looking around, listening, and stopping on
occasion to admire the beauty. He saw nature in the city too scarcely. As many
times as he went in and out it never got old. He never ceased to see the beauty
in both. In the business of the city though, he had forgotten how much he
appreciated the space, the open land, and the green grass, but most of all the
silence. Only in the silence, he found, could the whispering voice of the gods
be heard. Gorluck knew not which of them he served. There were many faiths in
Davainia, some that accepted all the gods, some who worshipped only one. The
most compelling to him was the god Dragonia, “god of all” in the ancient tongue,
Mystic. The followers of Dragonia insisted that He was the one true God, and he
alone was worthy of worship. It seemed fitting to him that one solitary God, a
brilliant artist and poet, a great administrator, should rule over a universe such as this…but then the opposite could be true. Who knew? Gorluck, ever living in the here and now, focused on the difficult task ahead. He knew of only one deposit of Mithril, in all of Davainia, but he knew it would take an army to claim. Could he, one orc, take on his kin who selfishly, hoarded it for
themselves? Maybe he wouldn’t have to contest with them, he reasoned, maybe he
could purchase some. He put aside such false hopes, however, he knew better. The
orcs were a stubborn and hardheaded people, not prone to making deals. He knew this to be true because he often saw such traits in himself. Yet living in Davainian culture, as diverse as it was, somehow he became something else. He wasn’t an orc anymore, but not really human either.
“I’m not an orc, or an elf, or a man, or anything else…” he once confided in a friend. “I’m just…Gorluck.” And indeed he was.
The sound of running water slowly grew louder and clearer as he nervously approached the bridge. Only brave adventurers came this way, even soldiers treaded carefully. The orcs inhabited Davainian land, but they claimed it as their own years ago. Trying to rebuild after the
War of Races, the king had no desire for another quarrel within his own kingdom,
and so he mostly left them be. This day however, Gorluck would not be so
“Hey, you’re not one of us…” a short, high-voiced little creature came up to him from the bridge. Dark yellow skin, twisted facial features, and long, pointed ears that stuck out far and wide to
the side of the slightly oversized head identified this child-sized creature as
a full grown goblin. “You one of them city orcs, no better than humankind. Just go home and we not kill you!”
“The human farmers and merchants here might be scared of you, but I’m not.” Gorluck
declared solemnly. “It’s ignorant to pick on weak humans who can’t defend themselves, but just plain stupid to pick on an orc who can.”
“Go home now!”
“Not until I get my Mithril.”
“He trying to steal the shinies! Get him!” the goblin screeched.
Seemingly out of nowhere, more goblins than Gorluck could count in time came jumping out of nowhere, screeching a head throbbing, earsplitting, battle cry. Gorluck grunted, shaking his head. “I just got rid of this morning’s headache too.” He lamented. He swung his axe with speed and power that knocked every goblin to the side like dust beneath a broom, but with great vigor they got up again, daggers in hand this time. Poorly crafted arrows flew at him from further way, leaving tiny dents in his lightly clanging armor before they bounced away. He swung his axe again, angrily, but gracefully through the air. The blade met a goblin and swiftly removed his head upon acquaintance. He swung the axe back the way it came, and the dull edge slammed into five more, who were not so lucky as the first. Each of them toppled away, splashing into the nearby river. Carried away by the current they screamed to the river-god for mercy, but he refused their cry, for goblins could not swim. Gorluck ran forward, voicing his own, deep, lion-like roar of a battle cry. He knocked two attacking goblin’s aside with the handle of his axe, and to the two with bows and arrows he gave the blade. The first one flew away, the metal slamming against his chest. He landed hard on his back and stayed lying there to wait for a slow and bleeding death. The last goblin standing learned quickly from the mistakes of the others. He turned away, hands in the air, screaming. His short bow landed lightly in the soft, green grass as he ran away faster than he thought any goblin could.
Gorluck smiled rubbing his hand together after a job well done. He pat his brow with his hand lightly as if checking it. “Nope…not a single broken sweat.” He chuckled to himself. “But of course…that was the easy part.”
The rest of the way to the cave was rather easy. He walked across the river valley. The wolves nearby dared not attack the armed orc, especially in daylight. The birds still sang and the river still ran its course as Gorluck made his way through a small patch of peaceful woods. This
time Gorluck made no stops to admire the beauty of the nature all around.
Instead he gazed around cautiously, heart pounding, head turning to and fro, he watched for danger he knew would come. It was not a matter if, he knew, but whenthe other orcs would meet him. He came to a clearing in the woods, to more open land. Walking across plains of green grass, he came to a slope that led upward into slightly more mountainous terrain. Mountains were all too rare in Davainia, he mused. His musings died quickly in that peaceful valley, however, interrupted by the startling sight of a small gathering of orcs just outside a cave. Some of them were clad in rusty metal armor; others dressed in poor brown robes or loincloths.
“Fighters and shaman’s,” he mused. “This should be a good
fight.” Then he looked above the cave, hidden in the mountains were two dressed in leather and armed with bows. Gorluck’s eyes squinted as he took out one of his sharpened axes from the sheathes around his belt and he lifted it into the air. He aimed carefully for one of the archers and threw the axe with all the strength a hammer-pounding smith could muster. The axe sank quickly into the archer’s forehead, and he fell before he even knew his death was coming. His body, tumbling to the ground, startled the other orcs who scrambled around frantically, and tried to figure out what was going on. By the time they saw their foe straight ahead, their other protective archer had already fallen to the ground. The two shamans, one dressed in primitive brown robes, the other in a loin cloth began to dance softly, swerving back and forth gently, their hands upraised. A globe of yellow magic energy gathered above their palms as they chanted, summoning forth a harmful spell. Their chants were interrupted however, one after the other, as an axe flew straight into their chests. The energy
fizzled, and at quickly vanished, as their bodies fell limp upon the ground. In
panic the three fighters ran for Gorluck, axes in hand. With a mighty swing
Gorluck cut the first two down in front, the first one fell quickly, only grunting before he fell. The other flew sideways, landing with a short-lived cry of pain. The third, sharper than the others, stopped short his charge. The blade missed his chest by just an inch. It seemed he’d stopped in time. Another swing he ducked and launched his own. Sparks flew and metal clanged as the massive blades collided, but Gorluck’s strength was greater, and his movements quicker.
He swung the other axe full-circle, and knocked it from the other’s hands. Ever determined the orc did not stop, he pulled out his dagger and lunged for Gorluck, but to no surprise he fell before his feet could take him close. The blade slammed into rusty armor and sent the orc flying back. He gasped for air, wind knocked loose, but stood again. Charging forward he slammed into Gorluck’s
chest headfirst. Gorluck, on his back still gripped the axe more tightly than before. He knocked the hilt of the handle into the other’s head and sent him tumbling. He was on his feet before the other could even leave his hands and knees. Dizzy and confused the orc stood slowly, staggering drunkenly to his feet. The blade of the axe showed no mercy this time. Slamming into the dazed
orc’s chest, it knocked him over and took what life was left.
Upon entering the cave Gorluck made short work of the many scattered orcs in similar fashion. Orcs armed with axes and broadswords charged at him at once, only to be knocked aside by the might of
Gorluck’s axe. Gorluck ran and swung his axe faster than the archers could shoot their arrows, only to turn their backs in panic when he was close enough to strike. Their feet failed to take them fast enough, however, to escape the raging warrior’s wrath. The shamans, casting fumbling and faltering spells, were the first to fall Gorluck’s blade. Vines erupted from the ground to wrap around
the orc and hold him tight, but he squirmed away and cut them down, as quickly as they had come. Fireballs and lightning bolts flew towards him but he rolled, and jumped, and dodged away as the shaman’s spells missed and hit the burst rocks instead. The cave shook and rumbled as great destruction spread. One by one the shamans fell, their spells failing, their energies fizzling, and their
lives passing before their eyes. Sweat soaked a panting Gorluck and he fell upon his knees. Too tired to fight on. At last his strength gave out, and nearly every orc in sight lied dead. Silence fell upon the dimly lit cave. For the first time Gorluck could admire the beauty of the mines. Cracks and holes in the stone veins, scattered about the caves, revealed the otherwise hidden ore. The metal shimmered in what little light could enter. Copper, iron, silver, gold, and bronze, all sat still and silent, and waiting to be mined. Most notably however, the Mithril shined and shimmered before his eyes. Shining brighter than the rest it called to Gorluck who gazed upon it, a look of awe struck his face.
He worked Mithril many times before, yet in breaking it free from rocks, melting it in a forge, and pounding on it with a hammer, its beauty hid from him. Only by beholding Mithril in its rawest form, could he now see the beauty of the metal he’d be working once again. He stood at once, a pickaxe in his hand. He left his great axe behind him for the time. Slowly, he edged closer to the vein.
“Who goes there?” A low, gruff voice startled him. He jumped and turned about at once, heart pounding from the scare.
“Gorluck Moorefiend, master blacksmith. I’ve come to collect my ore.”
“I no think so!” the gruff voice disagreed. A tall mountain of a being approached him. Muscle covered him from head to toe, and wrinkled skin still looked hard as leather. Dry and weary eyes who’d seen battle many times, stared at Gorluck from a thick bearded face. “An orc?” He spat. “An orc did all this?”
“What were you expecting a pixie?” asked the blacksmith.
“I expected a great human knight or paladin, or perhaps an elven archer, maybe a dwarf in search metals for his crafts, but it sickens me to think that an orc could do all of this…to his own kind!” he rasped.
“I have done nothing wrong!” Gorluck objected. “They attacked me, I only came to mine
some ore.”
“This is so much more fellow orc, don’t you see? Us orcs is living slaves. When we lose the Epic War the humankind gave us a wasteland for a nation, and even us who come north for better lives live as slaves for who they call king of Davainia. Well no more!”
“What are you babbling about?” Gorluck asked dully.
“Don’t  you see, now that we take mine from humans, we have all metals we need to make weapons. When we make enough we raise up an army and kill all farmers, then orcs control big time food supplies for humans in Davainia.” He said. “So we got metal, we got armies, and we got food, we take over Davainia, when humans beg for mercy we kill them, and the rest of the north soon is ours. Me knows the rock trolls will join us too, once they sees what we can do against the humans
they know it’s right.”
“But Davainia is the one nation that has always been there for us the orcs, the king
just fought a war to save us!” Gorluck growled. “How could you want to destroy him?”
“One human’s actions doesn’t changes nothing!” the orc spat, walking closer to orluck. The two stood to toe to toe, and for the first time Gorluck felt small.
“They oppress us, they punish us, but soon we punish them and we have revenge!”
“But I just destroyed their armies.” Gorluck observed.
“Hmmm, yes, but many mores are coming.” Said the orc. “And me, their chief will lead them to kill the humans, and you, since you’re such good fighter can help us. And blacksmith too?” he asked. “We need just one more thing, someone who knows how to work Mithril, if we have Mithril our army be invincible.”
Gorluck scowled in disgust at the idea. “I would never help you slay innocent humans!”
“Fine!” the chieftain said stoically. “My armies come and we do it without you.”
“Your armies will have a hard time doing anything without a chief to guide them!”
Gorluck pointed out.
“What you mean?” the other asked.
Gorluck wasted no time with a spoken answer. He swung his pickaxe gracefully, aiming for the chieftain’s throat. The chief growled angrily after leaning back just in time for the thin blade to miss.
Battleaxe in hand he swung for Gorluck’s head. Gorluck ducked and swung again. He struck hard as if mining ore within the chieftain’s heart. Sparks flew as the blades clashed. With a light ring the pickaxe flew away, easily overpowered by the massive axe. Gorluck stood wide-eyed and empty-handed.
“Ha-ha-haa!” the chieftain roared. “Tiny mining axe no match for my weapon! Now you die!”
But Gorluck ducked, the massive blade flying inches above his head. And just before the axe struck again it stopped as Gorluck grabbed the handle, both hands gripped like iron frames around the wood.
“Let go and die dumb city orc!” the chieftain cursed. Gorluck’s feet slid, scraping against the stone. The other orc’s strength pushed his body slowly forward. Sweat on his brow and a tear in his eye Gorluck grunted painfully as his arms began to fail. He dared to take a hand away and the pain grew even worse. One last throwing axe remained, safely tucked within the sheath around his belt. The
sweaty palm gripped the little throwing weapon. Then Gorluck struck the chieftain’s throat.
The massive axe fell upon the ground, released from the chieftain’s failing grip. The tall and sturdy orc collapsed upon his knees, gagging. He gurgled blood as he tried to speak some curse, but
all that came was painful groans and dripping tears within his lifeless eyes.
With a resounding thud he fell at last at Gorluck’s feet.
A sad look within his eyes, Gorluck also fell upon his knees. With folded hands he bowed his head and closed his eyes. He prayed to whatever gods might be to wash his hands of all the orcish blood that stained them now. Upon finishing his prayer he stood and found his pickaxe. Contentedly, he chiseled away the stone that hid the Mithril until he filled a burlap sack with shining ore. He sighed
contentedly and peacefully strolled away.
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“I hope it wasn’t too much trouble.” The paladin’s assistant stammered as he retrieved the shining sword.Gorluck glanced at the sword in all its shining beauty. He shifted his gaze towards a heavy chest of gold, his payment for the piece. He smiled and rubbed his hands together.
“No trouble at all,” he said. “It’s all in a day’s work…”
“My master will be most grateful…” the servant said as he walked away, looking slightly less nervous than he was before.
“As he should be human,” said the orc. “As you all should be..”

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