Chapter 21 -- The Truth
They quickly tied the ork to a chair and began interrogating him. Dahj rather enjoyed it, since it was clear none of them had any experience at this sort of thing. Only the dwarf and the wizard frightened him, though for entirely different reasons. He could see the menace in the dwarfs eyes and knew the gruff warrior would like nothing better than to kill him. The wizard posed a more serious threat though, because he seemed to know the right questions to ask, and to listen carefully to the answers. Luckily, with so many inquisitors, it was easy to ignore the wizards questions by accident.
Finally, the one they called King rose and motioned for silence. His bodyguard advanced on the ork and laid his sword against his throat. Dahj wasnít happy with this turn of events, but at least it wasnít the dwarf poised to kill him. The King gestured to the wizard who began to ask a battery of questions, one right after the other. Anytime Dahj paused for even a second of thought, the big warrior pushed the blade of his sword into his neck. Finally, the questioning ended.
The wizard Mark now consulted with another man, apparently also a wizard. They discussed his answers quietly while the others returned to their idle questioning and their braggadocio. Dahj was certain that most of them had never used their blades in combat, but he knew heíd never find out from this chair.
The consultation ended and the two men approached the King.
"Your Majesty," began the one called Mark, "we believe based on what Dahj has said that these orks intended to attack some human settlement near their homeland. The Paradox has transported them here somehow, and they believe it was the work of elves or wizards or both. They will, in all likelihood, attack the town of Metamora in the next few days. Once that occurs, we may not be able to reverse the Paradox anymore."
"I see, and what advice do you offer?"
"The ork force is strong, and they may be well-led, but I think we can take them. They are not prepared for heroes like us to oppose them. They are expecting a small army, perhaps 100 men and another score of local militia to oppose them. Some of us will be more than a match for that, while others might be itís equivalent. I believe if we strike hard, fast, and first, we can catch them by surprise and win the day."
At that, most of the warriors in the room cheered and began pounding their swords against their shields rhythmically. The dwarf even began to bellow out an old war chantey heíd picked up somewhere, and soon the others picked up the chorus. After a few minutes, the king again signaled for silence.
"Very well, I believe you may be correct. I shall lead you into battle myself. Let us prepare for war."
The room erupted into a loud cheer and the assorted people gathered there headed into the sleeping chambers to gather the rest of their gear and to strap on their armor. The dwarf and the two wizards headed to the private room to discuss their strategy and try to figure out what was happening.
"I donít like it Mark," said Steve. "I mean, these are kids, what happens if one of them gets killed? How will we explain it to their parents?"
"I donít think weíll have to; if we succeed, then I think weíll find some way to reverse the paradox in the ork lair. If we fail, then the paradox will probably make them into our apprentices or something and their parents wonít care."
"I still donít like it. Let me ask you this: why do you think some of us have changed so much more than others? Look at the two of us, weíre changing more rapidly than the others. I understood it with Ron I think, since his change overall was greater, but what about the rest of them?"
"Iíve been thinking about that," said Lou, "and I think I have the answer. Itís part of the Winter Camp spirit I think. The people that have changed the most are the ones that believe the most. Mark is much more powerful than I am, and I think itís because he was more dedicated to Winter Camp, or at least the dream of Winter Camp. Likewise with you and the Beast. Wilson and Howey have changed quite a bit too, itís just that their change hasnít been all that useful to us. I wish Rand were here, heíd have made some serious changes by now I think."
"That makes sense," agreed Mark, "so Iíd guess that Mann has gone through more changes than average as well, and perhaps some of the goons".
"Could be," nodded Steve, still sharpening his axe.
"Itís just too bad that I was the wizard and not you or Howey," said Lou, "I think both of you would be more powerful than me by now."
"Raw power isnít everything Lou. Even my axe requires some brainpower to reach itís full glory."
"The one thing I donít understand," said Mark, "is why none of the things we own are magical. Your axe was described that way yesterday, and so was the Ring of Hallovia."
"Well," replied Steve, "I think the ring is worthless because we never really defined itís powers. My axe is probably changing now. It may be slower, since I doubt that everyone believed it."
"That may be the answer!" exclaimed Lou. "Weíll tell everyone that your axe is magic and has the power to slay orks in a single blow. If everyone believes it, it will gradually become true."
"I donít know," said Mark, that might be kind of a stretch, but itís definitely worth a try. What happened to the ring?"
"You mean the fabled Ring of Hallovia? The one that grants the wearer three heartfelt wishes? I think his Majesty must still have it" explained Lou.
Mark and Steve both laughed. "Yes, that one," said Mark. The three of them got up and headed out into the common room. The ogre and the elf had not yet returned, but they were sure theyíd find them before the real trouble began.
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