Paradox Metaphor
Chapter 23 -- Scouting Party
by Steve Donohue

Back at the cave, Tim and Ron were beginning to suspect the campers were in trouble. They had been looking around the area and hadn't really found anything moving, but there were a lot of tracks. Not all of them could have come from the small scouting party they had captured. Ron had finally remembered Nick saying something about the cave being gone and the two had decided to investigate.

Tim took the lead and Ron couldn't believe how well hidden the elf was; moving through the woods, he was practically invisible and there wasn't a single sound to mark his passing either. Ron tried to emulate the elf but it was hopeless. He might have had a chance at his normal size, but the ogre body he was trapped in now wasn't built for subtlety. If he paid careful attention to his feet to avoid stepping on twigs and branches then he'd accidentally shear off a limb with his head or chest. If he watched for overhanging branches, then he stepped all over things. He could feel himself becoming angry at this twist of fate and he longed for a few orks to vent his frustration.

His wish was fulfilled much more quickly than he'd expected. The elf suddenly froze and hissed at him. He looked up to see the elf pointing towards the trail. There were eight orks there, moving fast and armed with swords and bows. He was debating whether to throw the big log at his feet and charge or just to charge when he felt a light touch at his waist.

"Are you ready my humungous companion?" asked Tim.

Ron grunted in response, "I say we charge and kill them all."

"Agreed that we should kill them, but lets follow them down the trail first. They'll be much easier to kill if they have to charge up at us and it seems likely that they are heading away from their encampment, so we'll attract less attention."

The tactics seemed good if somewhat pointless -- after all, a handful of orks was nothing to worry about. Still, the elf seemed like a decent fighter even if he did have a wizard's vocabulary. Ron agreed and the two stepped quietly onto the trail.

They made good time and were only 60 yards behind when the orks when discovered the site of the earlier ambush. The elf seemed prepared for this and nocked his bow. Ron cast about and wound up with a rather large tree stump. As the orks paused to investigate, the two of them attacked. The first ork never knew what happened -- one minute he was looking at the signs of a fight and the next minute his neck was pierced with an arrow. A second ork was hit by the stump and knocked backwards under the weight of the blow. He stumbled over a root and wound up rolling head over heels down the hill.

The ork leader attempted to rally his men. For a moment it looked like he might succeed but then the elf's bow again found its mark. The ogre was consumed with bloodlust and charged down the hill at the bewildered orks. At the sight of the massive ogre charging, two of the five remaining orks fled and the others drew into a rough line, hoping to stand their ground. The ogre hit them like a steamroller, knocking two of them off their feet. The third one sidestepped at the last moment and managed to slash the ogre on the left thigh.

Ron wheeled and brandished the stick he'd picked up earlier for use as a club. The last ork assumed a defensive posture, perhaps hoping to make a fight of it. The two circled briefly and then the ork decided to attack. The massive ogre easily blocked the ork’s blow with his club and then followed up with a blow of his own. Luckily for the ork, Ron was slightly off-balance and therefore landed only a glancing blow.

"I'm off to catch the other two," called the Elf as he melted into the wilderness.

The ork shifted to a more defensive stance, although he did risk a few glances over his shoulder. Ron wasn't sure if he was looking for the elf or one of his companions to help with the fight and he didn't much care. He was tired of playing with his food, and the ork was about to become his next meal. He reached back with his makeshift club and swung a mighty one-handed blow at the ork. The ork smiled slightly as he stepped sideways and prepared to deliver a death blow to the ogre. He never even saw the ogre's meaty fist as it slammed into the side of his head.

Ron smiled at the sound of crunching bone; his smile became broader as he the scent of fresh blood wafted towards him. Ork would probably be better than the horse he'd had earlier, although he'd have preferred a nice tasty elf, perhaps a young one. He remembered the last time he'd had elf, it had been very good indeed; in fact, as he sat quietly munching on fresh-killed ork, the sudden realization that elf was probably his favorite food in the whole world made him stop short.

Elf? He'd never even seen an elf until today, much less eaten one. He was still pondering this new dilemma when the elf returned.

"I managed to neutralize the threat of their report," said Tim. "I also discovered their rather uncomfortable looking abode; it's a large cave located beneath an abandoned cemetery. Disposing of their ilk should be a simple matter, really."

"Where were you born?" asked Ron.

"That hardly seems important at this juncture my friend," replied the elf. "But if you must know, I was born in the Green Wood, just south of the Iron Hills."

"I see, and when did you become an Eagle Scout?"

"Eagle Scout?" came the rather confused reply. "Ah yes, I made Eagle in '90." The elf paused for a moment. "I see your point, and it's not a good one. It is becoming very difficult to remember what happened in my real life as opposed to my new life. This is very worrisome indeed. Perhaps, my large friend, we should return to the others and report on our findings."

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