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To the Grotto of the Shaman...
Haft 8
He heard the birds chirping and chattering in the trees, yet he lulled back to sleep...Time keep the elves...
He heard the cows snorring all around, greedily sucking in the morning air as if it were a just stone-fallen buck and his weariness descended upon him again...Gods smite the Elves in the tomorrow day...
He heard some big bull snorring so that the ground rattled like stones, and realizing it was he, Haft hummed in self-satisfaction, and lazy as an ork ought to be when not chained to some human battering ram or gristmill crank, rolled over on his back and snorred the more...Some younger, dumber ork can go hunting elves...
Eight feet tramped, crunched and stamped above him in the Overworld as he slept in the Underworld, the broad towering forms they supported providing shade for his extended rest.
“Haft,” rumbled one.
He snorred on.
“Aft!” rumbled another as he was kicked by a sandal-bound foot.
After Mamma Cow's third visit before dawn, that felt like a love tap and he snorred.
A bull voice intoned, “Oh, dem greedy ashes dun fugged dis buck nigh.”
“Haft?” asked the voice of Brand.
On he half-dreamed.
Another bull declared, “Oh, he shit fer elfin now.”
Yet another agreed, “Shieeeed, he gonna lay up wit dis gash 'til dey fug 'im ta utta ruin.”
He heard, but he did not care...he sought sleep again even as he was kicked and a simmering Brand hissed, “Haft?” as he was kicked again.
The eldest voice yet, the voice of Ork Two, rumbled, “Leabe 'im be Brand—he all fugged out. Happen ta me way back in da day—neva was up fo elfin 'gain. Show, squashin' dwarfs in a shotty warr, helpin' kill deese humans fo dooze humans—dat all well en good. But elfin, elfin takes a certain spark, en deese cows jus' a soak dat candle wick 'til it won' take light.”
The first bull voice opined, “Dice, while dis orkker sleep it off?”
Three deeper voices all agreed, “Dice!” and off they tramped...all but one.
But then, as he sought Sleep again, sought the tendrils of her many-willowy arms, a great weight eased down on the many crunching oyster shell that made up his bed and a shattered hand flopped on his neck and deep sinister voice drooled in his ear, “Mavafugga—you done ruin ma good 'and en tink yo gonna sleep on dat!”
Haft's eyes opened and he was looking into the ireful face of Brand, contorted in a simmering rage, who snarled, “Buck, I were bound ta be King—smarta en fasta den all deese fools, an you fugged all dat up. I could take dat shit, commin' even from a freak-ass half-blood buck only 'cause I hates me some elf!”
Haft was now wide awake, half lifting his head, and the great slathering jaws continued their speech, “Buck, all dis 'ere ork eva wanted was ta have 'is mark scrawled at tree-bottom as king er killa. Yah took all dat, buck...so da lease ya can do is take ma ax—da ax named Brand, ax affer which I bull-named en cut ork-kind down an elf-stand! Or would you rather me take yer 'and?”
Orkish impulses, guided ever so deftly by human thought, began to rise in Haft's heart and he snarled back, in a bull-tone hisself, “I, Haft, Son of Elfbane, will take up yer ax. I will bring it back with elf-scalps hung and place it in your broke hand. I have lost my father and I so need one.”
“Huh?” grunted Brand.
'Around here smartest doesn't exactly mean smart.'
“Da elves done us both dirty—took my Dad, took yer Mah, we all knows. Be my Dad en its still yer ax, hung wit scalps as if took by yer hand—I pledge on my stones ta return da ax, en when King Ork passes I will support your claim—be yer champion, since no half-breed can hold the Tree Bottom Stump Throne.”
The words were visibly sinking in. Haft could see that Brand was possibly as smart as his elf-slain father, that reasons that bounced off of more bullish heads sank into his.
After a few moments of pause, as the cows began to stir and mumbled and chortle so cutely, Brand hissed, “Ain' ye the slick-wit. Wit yer weird, wicked ass ta back me, I stump-a-da-brood in good time. Dey took me Mah like ya know—so I wan' one a dem golden elf-cow scalps on dis 'ere ax-haft along wit dem dat guards 'er pretty ass. Kill me a elf queen, Haft!”
“Yes, Father, death to the Elf Queen.”
Brand then grabbed Haft by the vest with his broken hand and pulled him to his feet as he handed him his ax with his left, then bent and picked up Haft's ax-haft and declared, “Gonna learn me did slick-ass haft fightin'—gonna be a lefty, shield on da broke 'and! Ya done me a favor, Son!”
"Now, go ged you a sword ta rise dat human half ta da elf-killin' cause—ain't no two-legged critter likes dem elves.”
Haft hefted the ax and noticed that he was girded, that the Queen had fit his stones and cow-poker with a girdle made of plush dwarf-face hide with the beard for padding and covered with dwarf-made mail, secured with a belt fashioned of human-made leather, studded with hobbit teeth. The great belt buckle was made from the light shinny metal of the flying human contraption that had crashed way back in the day in the time of dragons, when one of those fire-breathers had dashed man's hopes of flying by his wits to the house of the gods above.
Haft tapped the belt buckle as the cows arose and the bulls turned back perturbed from their stillborn dice game, and Brand sang the song of the Buckle, in ironic honor of man's arrogance—for even the elves did not seek to disturb the gods in their lofty abode:
“Big-witted man rattle-winged,
Flew off Big Rock Phony Mountain,
But da Dragon knew he were King...
Dragon roared!”
The cows and wenches then chimed in as the chorus, their dawn-crusted lips chaffing on their now besmirched fangs, “Dat shid ain' right! Dat shid ain' right!!”
And so Haft made his outward procession only on his sacred Elfing, as Brand led the entire gathering Ork nation in song, his broken hand over Haft's back, and the King and other four chieftains hung back surly wise, surely sensing that if Haft—only half-ork as he was—succeeded where no Ork had, in smiting the elves in their Fake Forrest home, that their own home might become itself, less secure.
But it was a good song, and when it came time for the bulls to sing their chorus the chieftains chimed in:
“Don' go minin' unda dat Phony Mountain...”
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