Chapter 33 -- Do your best
"Iím not going to lie to you," said the King. "There is a chance that some of you will not be coming back. I want you to know that we, I appreciate your efforts on behalf of all of us. The orks are, according to our intelligence, about three hundred strong."
At this a low murmur erupted from the assembled group of fighters; numbering only 30 themselves, the odds seemed rather long. Only the dwarf and the ogre seemed unconcerned. The dwarf stood right next to the ogre and was asking him a near constant series of questions about his nearly forgotten childhood.
"I realize that we are asking a lot, but I believe this is the best way to defeat our enemies. They will not be expecting you to attack, and"
"No one ever expects his enemy to commit suicide," whispered Lou quietly to Mark. Mark shot Lou a murderous glance and the younger wizard fell silent.
"I think that edge will allow you to carry the day. Now, I pray forward, forward to victory!"
A tumultuous yell arose from the group and then silenced almost immediately. They could scarcely afford to warn the orks they were coming. The dwarf and the ogre left first, destined to take the front line in the battle. The dwarf went out of a sense of duty and because only he could talk to the ogre anymore. The ogre went because he was hungry and the dwarf promised good food.
"Do you think weíll see them alive again?" asked Lou, voicing the fear they all felt.
"I hope so," replied Woods, "but if we donít, thereís gonna be a hell of a lot of dead orks somewhere".
The rest of the group nodded and rejoined their squads to give them last minute details. The plan hadnít really changed much and it wasnít very complicated to begin with. The dwarf and ogre would be attacking the Orkish vanguard with the goal of cutting their way through to the chief and priests. The rest of them would attack the two sides of the orks, hoping to disorient them. With any luck, the combination of magic and surprise would let them at least rout the orks and break their offensive.
Lou and Mark Bollman were with the elf and his crew, the best archers in the group. It was critical that they be able to work from a distance and they were bound to become targets once the orks figured out what was going on. King Mark and his guard, Dave Woods were with them, as Woods would not allow the King to join battle against the assembled orks.
The four groups of campers quickly took up their positions for the ambush. The Donohue brothers laid quietly alongside the road leading to the stable. There was a large field there and the orks were likely to come through it and regroup after they made their way through the forest. The scouts were arrayed along the edges of the field also taking cover and trying to be as quiet as possible. The magicians and archers were on the roof of the tavern, huddled behind a makeshift rampart waiting for the orks to appear.
The ogre began to get a little eager as he waited and kept nervously popping his head up out of the ditch to see what was happening.
"Youíll get an arrow put through you if you arenít careful," cautioned the dwarf.
"Shut up shorty, or I wonít wait for the orks", replied the ogre, eyeing the much smaller man hungrily.
"Call me shorty again and youíll be tasting dwarf-forged iron for the rest of your short life".
"Iíll snap that axe in two and shove the handle..."
"Shh! There they are," whispered the dwarf, his attention suddenly focused on the field in front of them.
As the unlikely pair watched, a dozen orks gathered in the field. They scouted around a bit but didnít seem to notice anything. They waved, and their companions began to come out and form up as well. Within five minutes, there were more than fifteen score orks on the field. From inside the stable came the sound of the horses being slaughtered. The ogre began to rise, but the dwarf put out a hand to stop him.
"Steady now, my large friend, let the wizards have their moment".
Almost as if on cue several things happened at once. First, a huge roar of air filled the field as a wall of fire leapt into being just in front of the stable, cutting the ork army into two groups, one of fifty and the other of two hundred and fifty. The orks nearest the wall fell, their clothing smoldering. The wall had separated the bulk of the orks from their leaders and they turned to see what was happening.
In the milling mess that followed some of the sergeants tried to regain order, but it was difficult; as soon as one of them begin to rally his men the elf and his bowmen would find their mark. The orks were rocked a second time as a great explosion of fire appeared in their midst and killed at least a score. At that moment, the dwarf and ogre decided to attack and quickly bore down on the confused orks. The scouts on either side joined the fray too, leaving the orks with a difficult problem -- their obvious path of retreat was blocked by the wall of fire, and they were now surrounded.
The ogre arrived first and began smashing orks with his bare hands. The raw fury etched on his face was fearsome to behold, and the orks began to fall back before his wrath. The swordsmen on the flanks were also active, making quick work of the confused orks. As the dwarf finally made it to the battle, things were looking pretty grim for the orks. Everywhere he looked, the dwarf saw orks screaming and dying; thus far, there seemed to be no human casualties.
Suddenly though, things took a turn for the worse as the carefully crafted firewall suddenly disappeared revealing the rest of the ork army. Unfortunately, this group, led by the priests was not likely to rout. They were in good formation, nice and tight with swords and shields forward and spearmen behind. The only good thing for the campers was that they numbered less than a hundred. At a command from their leader, the orks began to move forward.
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