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The Horn of the Orks Sounded...
Haft 3
It was the horn of Elfbane, the call of his Father, the sound that carried the dread announce that elves were in the Real Wood, that the Forest Dark, home to deep mystery was now, somewhere near, plagued with pale depravity...
The call came from near, from the direction whence the shadow-caster had flown, along the old boar path where stalked that Elf who had un-orked him.
With a snarl, Haft took off in his low stalking run, loping along the path, knowing he would overtake that wan, sneaking thing that moments ago had struck him with fear, knowing that it would know and hear—Haft did not care.
He recalled in his furiously shadowed mind the prayer that The Shaman had taught him at ten, when he had been old enough to speed the skull:
Humans cared.
Dwarfs hoarded.
Hobbits shared.
Elves lied.
Orks dared!
His bound human half—the slave within—was broken from its invisible, palpable chains and his ork half flew free, growling audibly and charging along the path. There was not a boar path that a four-leg could scramble along that the superior orkish beast could not charge along as fast and more nimbly at that.
Like everything true, like everything that avoided the taint of the lie and the wan hand of the white elves, there was wisdom in the DARE. For if Haft had continued his cautious tread, his gainly lope, than the insipid thing called an Elf, the last hunter upon the quarry guided by the shadow-caster would have had the time, the presence of wily mind, to slink aside and dart the ork son coming at his father's call.
But as the mossy track, the muddy ruts, the pine-needle beds, the rooty underfoot and the dead-fallen trees sounded in their various tones to the pounding feet of Haft, he was announced in disbelief in the overthinking mind of the elf. As it was, the last to the feast, the stealing, elvish fiend was startled in its hunger and turned just in time to be trampled by one calloused, heavy-nailed foot snapping it's spine just above its narrow-assed hips. It's life weezed free of that queer body—so hungry for its feast—as Haft pushed off with that trampling foot, bursting the guts within and leaped upward and through the shadow-caster, which could not be seen but was felt as his head and shoulders hurdled through its gliding form.
Father had told him that the shadow-casters were the soul leashes, the wolf-spirits of the elves, like as men use food-bound wolves called hounds, only these shadow-casters are spell-bound—and he had just killed one, had done it unwittingly.
There had been no thought to it.
An ork did what he did and won the prize to be won depending in the thing done.
There was no time to ponder as the shadow-caster burst apart in a nimbus of empty anguish as if a pot made of hunger had been shattered just as it gaped to drink what was better poured...
The sward where his foot landed was a half foot too far, so he tucked and rolled forward, rolling off of his shoulders broad and came up under a cloud of brightening shadows dancing above their feasting Elf-wokes below—four elves cavorted and slithered around Elfbane, who had painted the trunk of one great cedar with the brains of two elves when he blew upon his horn.
Elves hunted souls and when a great soul blew upon its horn the soul tracker had his brains burst as its anti-soul was ejected by the sound of the fury...
But to blow one must inhale, and this is how they had got Father, by sending two in to be dashed and then—well, Haft didn't understand it—blast the elf-fiends!
Haft did understand how to use the headless ax he was named for in derision by the full orks in the age grade above him, so named by those who barred his elevation despite his awesome patrimony and the fact that he lead the orks of his age grade to victory in every speed-skull contest—even against the senior age-grades...
A flushing leg under bright green scale armor snapped under his haft below the wan knee, freshening blood squirting as the iron-wood haft rose through the splintering spraying ruin to arc downward and split a pale elvish head into exploding bone and brain—the helmet shattered to scaly bits—
He then leaped over Father, who was being drunken through his great auroch horn of polished black by a shadow-caster tugging on his life breath. The elf tethered to that shadow-caster had its face flattened by Haft's broad oak-like left fist as the neck snapped on its stringy spine.
He stepped through the shadow-caster and felt the pull of life their—the eating in of Father and the yawning back... with anger he stamped his heavy heel through the wicked tussling shadow of greying-green and heard Father gasp as his head slammed back against a great cedar root...
and they vanished, what was left of elf and shadow-caster soared off through the water-plants and ferns like so many rustling rats of night...
“Dad!”
“Haft,” gasped his father, looking up at him through now sallow eyes, sinking above his mighty cheeks and below his craggy brows, no longer beaming red-battle lust above his upward curving fangs and downward chomping eye-teeth, “you...”
The weakness sounding in that mighty frame, twice as wide as a normal ork, dwarfing his son, sent a shudder of blood-mad hate through Haft and he roared, roared as loud as a horn might blow, raged until his voice careened from every tree trunk and was lost like a thousand furies among the swaying boughs.
“Ma horn, dey used it ta ged me—fuck da horn, fart at 'im wit it, Boy! Let dem suck dat outta you...you da Elfbane now, what I raised ya up ta be...”
“Shut up, Dad,” he snarled, as he heaved his Old Dad up on his shoulders and began to jog back along the path, the traitor horn left where it had given over its master to the vile foe.
“Don' stress yer stones, Boy—you young en lille...”
“Shut up, Daad!!”
And his Father hung limp and quiet, so much so that you could almost hear his little brain in his big brute head counting on its imaginary fingers and toes...
After some time, the great ork gusted a few final words before losing his strength and listing in and out of delerium, “Da horn were a good idear, Boy. But elfkin is smart fookers...don' smart dem in yer turn, Boy—squashin' dem in da ole way waz bes' ...squash dem pointy-eared, blood-drinkin' lille fookers—smash 'em good, Boy...”
So spoke Elfbane his last words, last of his pure ork line, father of another, more ruthless kind...
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