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The Home of his Fathers
Haft 9: Interlude
And so Haft was on his way, soon alone in The Forest Dark, the home of his Fathers, considering the wilder world of his mother...
Who was the Shaman?
Only the King, the Queen and the Elf-Bane—who he now sought to be—ever saw the Shaman in life. The rest of ork-kind were left for the Shaman to inter in his grotto and guide into the Afterlife. Haft was seeking the companion of the dead and felt within him a sense of looming dread.
Haft also dreaded the Underdark...it was said that all who sought the Outer World as Elf-Bane must do so through the Under World. What horrors does the Underdark hold for Haft, a child of the Forest?
What of the Fake Forest of the Elves?
No ork had yet returned from there with his mind right, and none with elf scalps. The only elves henceforth slain by orks had been taken in the Forest Dark, or in the between places of Man and Hobbit. Was it true, as the babbling and always blind orks who had returned from the Fake Forest of the Elves had said, that there was no place to hide, that there night was lit like day and that the tree trunks and branches were made of brass and that the leaves were of gold and the needles of silver?
Haft shivered at the thought of the Fake Forest, of his chances of being the first of his kind to breech its obscene precincts and somehow return with his sanity intact. Too young and brash to be able to imagine defeat in battle against his hated foes, Haft did fear their Fake Forest, and shivered each time he thought of how the very brassy trees drank mortal souls with a moaning metal song.
Finally, to find a sword of man, to awaken fully into service his rampant human half, his adoptive Father, Brand had instructed him to seize a sword, to become half like a man and unleash the wicked plan that legend had it lay coiled at the heart of every man—each of them potentially a god of lies by his own hand. Such a feat would require a journey to their city, named by the orks Big Rock Phony Mountain, for it was a squarish stacked collection of cut stone formed in an ugly semblance of a real mountain.
What nutty race built a mountain to live on when there were hundreds provided by the gods?
What evils might be concealed in such a teeming place were as myriad as the many men it bred. Escaped orks told of the slave-rowed boats, the slave-turned gristmill wheels, the military service—which, granted was fun and sometimes earned an ork storm trooper his freedom—and worst of all, the mines from which none there consigned ever returned.
But what of men that was evil remained a mystery to ork-kind—and even him—who was half human?
He knew, whenever he suddenly had a slick trick of an inspiration, like blaming Brand for calling Ork One stupid, or when he had figured out that thinner orks throwing the skull to each other over the broader forms of their age-grade seniors could win a speed-skull game—he knew that these inspirations were the poison fruit of his evil, human half.
As he lumbered bull-like along the trail towards the World Tree and the Shaman's Grotto, where once and recently he had padded like a cat, having grown almost offish overnight and seeking a fit for his buckish agility and slinkability within this now bullish body, Haft wondered, 'How stupid am I, really, compared to a pure man?'
'Elves are one thing, a thing I have beaten. But men, men are in me—will they be my undoing?'
The thought angered Haft and moved him to issue a great, slathering snarl, as he picked up his pace and bounded down the path, letting his ork half take over, his mind swimming with visions of stomping squat dwarfs, smashing frail elves and kicking humans in their narrow asses and sending them plummeting off of the square edges of their Big Rock Phony Mountain!
And so, even as he jogged under the towering boughs of his darkling abode, Haft thirsted to breakout of its shadowed groves into the bright shinning night that was the fake realm of elves and the phony world of men—who once thought they could fly where dragons fared and now punished the world ever since their fall.
Remaining Chapters:
-10. Into the Underdark...
-11. Into the Fake Forest...
-12. Above the Big Rock Phony Mountain...
-13. Upon the Night Face Altar...
-14. Within the New Green Tree
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