Krag paced slowly across the floor of the orc house. His gunshot wound hadn’t completely healed yet, but he was running out of time. He knew Set was planning something, but he didn’t know what it was. His allies were dwindling, now that he couldn’t trust Tej anymore.
Krag grunted. “Krag nor makr hapenr. (I do not know what to do.)”
Arj watched his chieftain, never having seen him worried before. “Leder whor ar Krag alir? (Chieftain, who are your allies?)”
Krag threw his arms back in exasperation. The movement tugged at his wound and he cried out in pain. “Grrlplp!” he swore, clutching his chest. “Wat. Hooman! (Wait! The humans!)”
Thok said, “Hooman stinkr likr dethr? (The human that smelled like death?)”
“Yesr! (Yes!)” Krag said.
The orcs arrived at Mike the Elder’s house an hour later, with the help of Minion’s cargo van and Andre in the driver’s seat.
Mike stood in his door way, “You want to do what?”
Krag cleared his throat. “We want to use the dagorhir warriors to fight against Set.”
Mike stepped forward out onto the porch. “Look, I’m all for finding a portal to your plane so you can get back, but I don’t think I can condone this kind of thing. They have never fought in a real battle before. They could be killed if they are using real weapons.”
“We have armor,” Arj said. “We have been collecting it and forging it ourselves in our back yard. The nearby humans have been mistaking it for something called barbecues.”
Minion spoke up. “Mike, I feel like this is something we can do. How much bigger are the Torxanian humans than we are?”
Urr turned to Minion. “Torxanian humans are as large as orcs. They needed to be this size to match us in battle.”
“Oh,” Minion said, eyes downcast.
Krag said, “But you are all faster than they are. We do not need you to be aggressive, just distract them long enough for me to kill Set.”
“And Tej,” Arj said.
“What makes you think you can beat Set?” Mike asked. “You failed before.”
Krag winced. “Yes, I realize that. But before we did not have a magic user allied with us. Now we do.”
Mike coughed. “I don’t know if I can handle that kind of pressure. I am nowhere near that level. I found a portal spell, but I haven’t been able to open one yet. It takes a lot of energy and I don’t know if I have that kind of power.”
Minion asked, “Is there something we can do to give you more energy, more power?”
Mike coughed again. “It’s getting really bad inside. I don’t know what can help me.”
Krag put a large hand on Mike’s shoulder. “Come with me. My orcs will teach your humans to fight. You and I will heal. Together.”
Krag turned to Minion and Andre. “We will need you to impress upon your dagorhir comrades the importance of this battle. I know you can do it.”
To Andre, Krag said, “Once this battle is finished, I will be out of your mother’s life forever. I am sure it will make you happy.”
Andre sighed. “Man, it ain’t like that no more. I know you’re a good, m-... you’re... you’re good for her. I know she cares about you. It’s been a while since she’s had that. Her happiness is what is most important.”
Krag’s hideous smile almost shone. “Thank you.”
Krag looked around the outside of Mike’s house. “Do you have anywhere we can go to be alone, connected with nature?”
Mike nodded. “I have just the place, come with me.”
Andre and Minion met in the backyard with the 20 or so dagorhir players unsure of why they were called on a nonbattle day. Once they noticed the three orcs standing behind Andre and Minion, they knew something was up that was bigger than they, both literally and metaphorically.
Krag and Mike walked deep into the forest surrounding Mike’s house and field. The sounds from the practice field faded into the distance. Mike brought Krag to two large flat shale rocks next to a stream. “This is where I come to meditate,” Mike said.
Krag said, “This will be perfect.”
Andre said, “Guys, look. We have some trouble coming and Krag needs our help. The dudes behind us... if you haven’t figured it out yet, they are....”
Minion burst in. “Orcs! Can you guys freakin’ believe it!”
Minion turned around and punched Arj in the shoulder excitedly. Arj looked down at him in annoyance. Minion turned to the rest of the group. “Look! He didn’t even feel it!”
The group moved forward and surrounded Arj, Urr and Thok. The curious humans touched the now uncomfortable orcs.
Andre said, “Sorry guys, this is new for them.”
Rant said, “So what does Krag need from us?”
Krag sat on one of the shale rocks. Mike sat on the other. Krag said, “Orcs tap into a part of themselves that I think people in this realm have forgotten. But I feel as if you can do this as you are able to control magic that shouldn’t exist here.”
Mike said, “What is this?”
“We call it ‘preeemaaa,’ our history, our ancestry. For those who can harness it, they can call on their fallen family to bring them power in battle. Some orcs just go through the motions, I am sure, but others take it seriously and you can tell on the battlefield. The ones who tap into it the most become our shamans.”
Mike nodded. “So how do I do it?”
Krag shuffled in his seat, shrugging his shoulders. “Close your eyes and think of all of those in your life whom you loved and passed away. See them with your mind. Bring them to you until you can smell them. Ask them to heal you. Ask them to bring you energy and power from the other realm.”
Mike closed his eyes. “Okay.”
Krag closed his eyes and immediately saw his father.
The dagorhir players all held wooden weapons as they fought against the orcs. The orcs also held wooden weapons. The point, as it was explained was the orcs would try to clock the humans. The humans goal was just to stay alive and defend themselves. They didn’t need to kill the Torxanian humans, just distract them long enough for Krag to kill Set.
When Wrench lost concentration and was spun head over heels from a hit by Urr, the whole of them knew there would be a lot of work to do.
<i>Fater,</i> Krag said in his mind. <i>Krag nedr Goor helpr fitr Set.</i> (Father, I need your help to fight Set.)
Goor reached out and touched his son. Krag felt the warmth of his father on his forehead. His bullet wound felt as if it were being poked by tiny needles. He resisted the urge to scratch it.
Mike didn’t know who to call upon at first. Everyone he had lost before were not that close to him. He imagined letting his energy drift into the aether without guidance, exploring. He saw his spirit form walking through the forest around them as it recognized a figure wrapped in a vibrant brown and green. He pushed himself to approach it. The figure reached out to Mike and wrapped around him.
In his head he heard, <i>This time will not cure you, but I give you my strength.</i>
<i>Who are you?</i> Mike asked. <i>God?</i>
<i>I transcend definition,</i> the figure said. <i>Gods are something different. Open yourself. I will bring you the strength you need to help your friends.</i>
<i>Okay,</i> Mike acquiesced. He inhaled deeply, then exhaled as much air as he could, visualizing a set of double doors in his chest opening. The figure moved forward, stepping inside of him.