Some character's names are changing from their original denotation.
Crag = Krag
Teej = Tej
This note will be removed when the changes are applied to all entries on this blog.
text marked with italic tags are meant to be in italics and will be so in the final, publishable draft.

Chapter 42

            The Elder, Mike, stood in the orcs’ living room in their moderately shabby looking (from the outside) house.  Inside was almost a recreation of an orcish family dwelling.  The floor was bare wood with occasional bits of dirt and leaves from being tracked in from the outside.  It wasn’t that orcs were typically dirty creatures.  In Torxania, they just had more to worry about than regular hut cleaning.  For maintenance, they each took turns learning how to handle the basics and then more advanced problems.  They would fix pipes if they burst or if the water heater needed adjusting.  They figured, the fewer humans who saw them outside of Louie’s, the better.
            Krag had assured the orcs that the Elder was not a judgmental human, in fact, he had offered to help at one point.  While Krag didn’t think there was a way for the Elder to help, he appreciated the gesture.
            Mike stood in awe.  Tej extended a large hand toward Mike, introducing himself as, “Tej of the Stone Crusher Clan.”  He was the most well versed in human customs.  Mike tentatively reached out to Tej.
            Mike stammered.  “I was flabbergasted when I figured out Krag was who he said he was.  This... is... amazing.”
            Each orc extended their hands in turn.
            “Thok of the Arrow Stone Clan.”  He was slightly thinner than the other orcs.  This probably had something to do with his clan origin, Mike figured.  If they fire arrows they need a different kind of muscle growth.
            “Urr of the Blood Feather Clan.”  Where Krag was at one time bald, Urr had a long braid of black hair down his back, then two more braids down the side of his head.  In his hair were multiple feathers with blood in them.
            “Arj of the Rock Shadow Clan.  Arj looked similar to Krag in build.  Their facial features were also similar.  Arj, however, was larger than Krag.  Mike didn’t know if this meant Arj was more important or just larger.  He really needed to learn orcish politics.
            “I have so many questions,” Mike said.
            “First,” Krag said.  “You said you wanted to show us something.”
            “Oh!  Right!” Mike said.  “So I found this old book store with a bunch of Pagan rituals in it and I think I found some things that actually work.”
            Mike pulled a musty book from his leather knapsack and opened it onto one of the tables.  “I learned how to create otherworldly fire, the other day.”
            Thok grunted under his breath.  “Stinkr neer wors hoomar.  (Smells almost as bad as the human).”
            Mike thought he understood the words, but chose to ignore them.
            Also from his knapsack, Mike pulled a small metal bowl.  Into the bowl he put a few twigs and some paper.  He lit the paper and twigs and it caught a little bit of fire.
            “Now, watch.”
            Mike inhaled.  “Takr Mikhael Torkzania.  (Bring Michael to Torxania).”  Mike extended his hands towards the small fire and it flashed blue and rose into the air.
            The orcs took a step back and watched.  What appeared in the fire was something unlike Mike had ever seen.  Huts of a village on a plain.  They were shaped in what looked like leather cloths stitched together wrapped around poles with holes at the top where smoke rolled out.  Walking by were creatures with hoofed feet and three prehensile digits for hands.
            “Minotors.  (Minotaurs),” Krag muttered.  “This is the Lessess, the center continent of Torxania.  You might even see Randonius’ castle if you look around.  I have been in Vey.  This village is on the outskirts.”  After a pause.  “Can we see other cities?”
            “Where do you want to go?” Mike asked with a small glint in his eyes.
            “Kheeyeeglu,” Krag said.  “My home city.”
            “Our chieftain was a city orc,” Arj teased.
            “I am my father’s son,” Krag replied, entranced with the image in the blue fire.
            “Okay.  I’ll try.”  Mike closed his eyes and breathed in.  Under his breath he repeated “K-he-e-ye-e-g-lu” just as Krag had said it.  Finally, Mike opened his eyes and focused on the fire.  “Takr Mikhael Kheeyeeglu.”
            The image scrambled and reformed.  This time the blue framed a dirt covered landscape with orcs walking back and forth, surrounded by great buildings constructed in what appeared to be more organic shapes.  The buildings followed the shapes of the trees that were used as their bases, covered with hardened mud.  The male orcs walked around with their weapons strapped to their backs, interacting with others, trading, fighting, shaking hands.  The image moved through the city.  Female orcs looked just as formidable as the males.  One female shown punched a male for some unknown cause.  When he tried to strike her back, she ducked and hit him again, knocking him out.
            The orcs in the house chuckled.  “He should have known better,” Urr said.  “I know that woman.”
            Soundlessly, heads started turning.  The image followed what appeared to be three half-men half-horses.
            “Wyr Sentor Krag Kheeyeeglu.  (Why are Centaurs in my city).”  Krag said.
            They watched as the centaurs approached a large building in the center of the city.  Coming out to greet the centaurs was an orc with long, braided, blonde hair.  Every other orc in the city had black hair, so this felt significant.
            “That is my cousin Har of the Rock Shadow Clan,” Krag said.
            Tej interjected, “Har is what some might call in this realm, transgender.  We call those orcs ‘Feemr-Maar,’ typically they are respected as healers and spirit guides.”
            Behind Har was a cart loaded with what appeared to be supplies for building a house.  Two orcs pulled the cart forward for the centaurs to take hold.  The centaur who appeared to be in charge threw a large bag to Har.  Har opened the bag to inspect the bag.  They pulled out a few gold coins.  Har nodded approvingly and handed it to one of their cohorts.
            Har extended a hand to the head centaur.  They clasped hands and shook once.  Har smiled.  The centaurs looked startled as a huge stone axe buried itself into the centaur’s head from the left.  The other two centaurs were felled by a quick succession of arrows.
            “Watr Halr!  Sentor siiviilr! (What the hell!  Centaurs are civil!)”  Krag called out.
            “Eventr nor gudr. (This is not good),” Thok said.
            “What is Har doing?” Tej asked to the room.  “They are destroying everything we have built.”
            They watched as Har pointed to the cart with building supplies and ordered it back into the large building.  The other orcs around Har looked on with a weird mixture of revulsion and pride.
            Krag grunted.  “They have abandoned what my father and Asus were trying to accomplish with our society.  The city they built was made on the promise of honorable treatment.  This is NOT honorable.  I need to get home to deal with this stained legacy of orcs.”
            The flame burned out and collapsed in on itself into the bowl.  Mike breathed out.  “I’m sorry guys.  I had no idea what was going to show itself.  I’ve only done this once before and it just showed me the plain like we saw at first.”
            Krag put a huge brown hand on Mike’s frail shoulder.  “I understand.  I do not blame you for what my cousin is doing.  But I implore you to work on finding a way to create a portal back to Torxania.  The longer I stay here, the more devastation Har will cause there.”
            Mike nodded.  “I will do my best for you.  I have more books to look through.  I’ve only scratched the surface of what I discovered.  The fact that this works gives me a lot of hope.”
            The other orcs surrounded Mike.  They all touched him lightly, for orcs.  Krag said, “Elder Mike.  We give our energy to you for your success in this mission.”
            Mike closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of their hands and a renewed sense of purpose.