This story is intended to compliment a series of battles between Orcs and Goblins and Dwarfs a friend and I are having this summer, which I will also report on on this forum, some others, and my blog.
Dark Star - Part 1
Stooping over a boulder with one arm leaning on his man-sized war-club, Warboss Mangut surveyed the wooded valley below him. His posse of particularly large orcs lounged around him, picking idly at their teeth and leering at the gaggle of goblins that stood apart and slightly lower down the slope of the hill on which they were all perched. The orcs grow restless as the sun sank toward the mountain peaks, dimming their concentration as well as the sky. The goblins also fidgeted with discomfort, but their agitation was likely more to do with the increasing restlessness of the orcs, whose leers gradually turned into grins and fiendish sniggers in their direction. Just as one of the orcs made a hostile move toward the goblins––who all leaped to their feet in unison with bobbing heads and squeaks not unlike a flock of frightened birds––a flat horn note rang softly from the valley’s tree line below. All rushed to the hilltop around Mangut and a goblin responded to the signal with an identical horn sound. In seconds, a few goblins riding giant spiders skittered from the trees to the hilltop encampment.
They dismounted and approach Mangut, half gasping for breath. Without salute or formal pause characteristic of the more dignified races, the goblins began speaking simultaneously in excited jitters, gestures, squeaks, and gasps of breath indiscernible even to their kin, who all cocked their heads in amused confusion.
“Shut it!” Barked Mangut, and the three fell silent and still, heads bowed in fear of Mangut’s wrath. “You,” he grunted, pointing to the middle one, “Speak.”
The chosen goblin immediately tried to comply but could only manage a garble of nervous stutters, “Y-y-y-y-y-es, l-l-l-,” and before he could correct his nerves Mangut thumped his head and sent him tumbling back down the slope. “You,” he ordered to the left goblin this time.
The goblin nervously coughed once then launched into a report of their mission. “We searched for an entrance to the Dark Star Clan’s caves in these mountains. It took most of the day, they hide ‘em well ‘cause dem dwarfs is always lookin’ ‘round for ‘em. We found one ‘bout a mile down the valley ‘dat goes into the third mountain peak on da left. We entered and were surrounded by some Dark Stars, all wearing der black cloaks. We told ‘em we were sent by you and wanted ter speak to da boss, but they said that if there really is an orc boss ‘ere he can come ‘isself, the Shaman Nortsik won’t speak to no one else.” Done speaking, the goblin bowed and sidled backwards cautiously in case Mangut interpreted any part of the message as insufficient or insulting and decided to vent his wrath on the messenger.
Instead, Mangut just grunted once and ordered the goblin to lead him to the cave immediately. The orcs fell into step behind Mangut with the rest of the goblins trailing behind.
When they reached the cave a few Dark Star Goblins were waiting for them. Instantly recognizing Mangut as the boss, one stepped forward in challenge and asked, “Wha’ business you got wit’ da Dark Stars, orc?”
Inwardly seething in rage at the bold affront, Mangut calmly stepped forward and leaned over the goblin, causing him to stumble backwards. The goblin hurriedly picked himself up and opened his mouth to shout some insult, but only a squeak escaped as Mangut grabbed him by the throat and chucked him into a tree above the cave entrance. After exchanging a brief glance, the other two goblins beckoned Mangut and his posse to follow them into the cave.
The tunnels were unlit and so narrow the orcs had to crouch almost to waist level to keep walking. Every so often they passed a small opening to a dimly lit room or cavern. The first was barred and seething with the movement and snarls of multi-colored squigs, the foremost climbed over each other at the entrance and gnawed at the bars. In another was a deep, murky pool full of trolls submerged up to their chins. Most of the caverns they passed were small and lined with lime-green mushrooms and various other fungi of a multitude of colors. Occasionally a goblin or two was in one such room, picking the mushrooms or stirring a bubbly, rank stew.
Eventually, the tunnel began to widen until they found themselves in a massive cavern lined with stalagmites and packed full of chattering goblins. The many fires and torches gave the room an eerie glow, and the shadows of the flames and goblins danced up the walls on all sides, disorienting the newcomers.
After a moment, a murmur shimmered through the mob until it fell silent and all the hundreds of eyes pointed in Mangut’s direction. A loud shriek from across the cavern caused the sea of goblins to part down the middle, allowing the orcs passage through. When they reached the opposite end of the cavern, they came face to face with a group of seven goblins sitting together on a curved slab of rock. Each wore dozens of odd trinkets around his necks, wrists, and waists, and the one in the center grasped a long, knobby, mossy staff, which bore a single black star emblem outlined in red. A couple others beside him were sprawled over the rock slab with little regard for comfort or appearances, their tongues dangling out of mad grins, and their eyes half open and glowing green. The middle shaman was the only one who sat completely upright, as well as the only one to meet Mangut’s glare with an equally menacing one of his own. For a few moments the two merely stared at each other, until, suddenly, the head of one of the half-conscience shamans spontaneously exploded in a green blast. The goblin onlookers giggled until the center shaman stood and raised his free hand in command for silence.