Camouflage helped point out weaknesses in the cage, and Ares used the sword as a lever, wedging it in place. The chanting had become so loud out in the place of ceremony, their noises made in an effort to escape were masked. Luck was on their side, for once.
Ares pulled Theros out of his cage, and he gave a nod. “This is the second time I have saved you, Inquisitioner.”
“It’s the second time, I’ve ever needed to be saved,” answered the man who once wore the crimson robes.
“Our gear is gone, we either try to find it, or we make a run for it. We won’t have long,” said Gerrell, looking back over his shoulder. The chanting had taken on a slower pace. It was now or never.
“Run for it,” said Theros. Camouflage led the way, and luck was on their side still, until they rounded a corner, and came upon a group of guards who were not supposed to be there. They were supposed to have taken the Bol-vist to the place of ceremony by now. And but for the stalling of a certain orc-slave, they would have been.
The orcs set upon the escapees quickly. Several knew arcane magics and even Gerrell found it impossible to combat their magical missiles. But the orcs had missed one thing with Ares and Gerrell, they too knew powerful magicks, and placing them in a cage, to rest for the Orc Father had given them back just enough energy to call forth their own spells.
The orcs bodies sizzled and burned, while the fire that Ares conjured with his hands glowed in his eyes. Ares once again knew the power of the destruction of his enemies. He turned the flames towards another orc, and realized not quickly enough that it was but a child, an orc child. It was dressed strangely too, differently then the other orcs, as if it were prepared. For something.
But the flames never touched the child, for at that moment, another of the orcs rushed forth and fell in front of the child. His skin sizzled in the heat. “No, masters! No Celns! I can help you to…escape!” the gruff voice yelled, and even as it’s body was engulfed in the fire, it held an all too familiar quality. Whoever this creature was, would see no harm come to the child, so long as it could.
Ares called back the flame. And the fires dissipated. The creature, an orc, was badly burned on his arms and chest. He heaved and panted and finally looked up imploringly at them. Camouflage did not look unimpressed, which was probably how he looked when he was impressed.
“I can show you the way out, masters. I can show you where your weapons are.”
“We’re listening, make it fast!” said Theros.
“Wait! You are the son of a ….you are the one who interrogated us!” said Ares, he raised his hands once more.
“No! Yes! Please. I have no choice. I am slave. Now, I am not!” Revack kicked the body of one of the orcs, and spat on it as well as if to show he hated the tribe as much as they. “I am slave, like you!”
“I am no slave,” roared Ares who looked about done with the conversation, but Gerrell, atop his shoulders stilled him.
“Let’s hear our friend out a bit,” said the tiny gnome.
“Yes! Friend! I am from Lessina. I can take you there.”
“You lying orc,” yelled Theros, “You aren’t from Lessina, or anywhere Celns dwell.”
Camouflage, in a rare tone of genuine inhostility interrupted, “There were orcs enslaved at Lessina some years ago. They were released due to doctrine. Many..”
“Many were captured again by the Bol-vur,” continued Revack. His eyes kept imploring each of them, one hand he kept in front of the child, the other stretched out to them, in a posture of help. The orc-child simply stood there, it’s eyes seemed glazed as if it were not seeing or hearing any of this.
“You know the way out?” said Ares.
“You will find our gear?” said Gerrell
“You’re recruited into the Celn Lighted Infantry then son,” said Camouflage. “Don’t screw up, or else I’ll stick my boot down your throat until it comes out your orc ass.”
Revack didn’t know what to say, and seemed not to understand.
Theros came over and put a hand on his shoulder. “He means if you double cross us, you’re a dead orc.”
Revack led them to their gear where they encountered other guards. Rushing in, they grabbed their weapons before the guards knew what to do, and swiftly put them to an end. One orc nearly got away, but one of Theros’ well placed arrows, dropped him.
“The Priests’ will be looking for the Bol-vist! We must hurry to the mines. There is our way out. If we are lucky.”
“We’ll be lucky you blighted bastard,” said Theros, “Or you’ll be unlucky.”
Revack just held the orc-child tightly and stared at each of them. He had made a makeshift carrier for the child, who would not, could not move. He was completely comatose. Gerrell had seen this type of thing before from his own lands, deep in the rock and the earth of whatever this world was. It was the preparation of giving, at least that is what his people called it. The god took the power from the beings that served it. This child was ready to give his power to the Orc Father. Not take it for his own as the orcs believed. Why they had been led to believe it was the other way around, he could only guess at. But he knew one thing, he didn’t want to find out.
They raced through the tunnels, following Revack. Behind them, once or twice, they thought they heard shouting, yelling in the orcish tongue. But they focused on their steps and the precarious nature of the cavern. It was moist and wet down here in places, and hotter than a furnace. It was the type of space that made the effort as much mental as physical and they needed to concentrate. If Revack betrayed them now, they would never find their way out and one small slip racing at such a speed could send them plummeting off an edge, into a dark doom. As they hurried, they saw more and more evidence of mining. Gerrell, who was quite familiar with mining, couldn’t make sense of it. Why would they mine like this? There is no ore, no veins? They are not mining for blackrock, or gems, or any metal I know of? It is as if they are just digging willy-nilly.
Revack’s pace began to slow and then stop. The others caught up to him, winded but wide eyed with focus. Camouflage was the only one to speak, “Not a bad work out, but you boys better learn to keep up in tighter quarters!”
The others considered telling him off, but none seemed able. Revack stopped and listen, his orcish ears turned expertly backward. He grunted and walked into a small antechamber. They followed and saw the beginnings of a small track.
“The scorpion?” asked Gerrell who was still atop Ares’s shoulder.
“No,” said Camouflage. “The scorpion is much bigger than this son. Think your penis. The scorpion would look like mine.”
“Well what is it then?” asked Theros.
Revack answered, “It’s the way out, elf.” He placed the child into a metal basket atop the tracks. At the bottom were two wheels, one in the front, and one in the back. Theros guessed there were two more on the other side, like a wagon of sorts.
“I am not getting in that….,” began Ares but just then a dark black bolt struck one of his copper scales and bounced off, ricocheting off the cavern wall next to him. He looked at the others and got in behind the orc. From behind in the cave, came yelling and grunting. The orcs had caught up to them at last! The others followed and got in as well. Revack moved to the back and shoved them aside. He gripped a lever and the basket lurched forward. It sauntered out of the antechamber along the track and into the darkness, where it picked up speed.
Revack’s face was temporarily lit from time to time by the sparks that came off the back of the contraption. He was all serious and all business, holding tightly to the bundled child at his chest. The thing moved faster than they thought possible and Theros couldn’t understand why they hadn’t gone skidding off into one of the crevasse’s they passed through countless times. Camouflage called him a “Sissy boy” every time he’d yell from the front of the basket, he barked orders for them to stand to one side or the other, presumably to give balance to the speeding wreck. The feathers stuck to his body fluttered all about him, and as he’d point with either hand. The image was undeniably preposterous since he resembled the bird which had carried him away, just hours before.
Into the darkness they sped over tracks that had been damaged or not repaired. No one there knew it, nor ever would, but this was a dwarven track and a dwarven mine, before the orcs moved in. They had only stolen it and used it as they wanted. It wasn’t meant for this kind of thing.
“I don’t think this is meant for this kind of thing!” yelled Gerrell who had to duck a low hanging beam and barely did so in time. The wind rushed past him as he looked at Revack begging him to find a place to stop. Past them whizzed the jagged rocky wall of the tunnel and from time to time a tunnel that intersected the one in which they traveled.
“We cannot!” yelled Revack. “The darkwings will be upon us soon!”
“What in the Light is a darkwing?” snapped Theros, gripping the basket rail, trying to maintain his balance.
“My guess is that is a Darkwing, son,” said Camouflage laughing. He was still at the front of the basket, but was pointing behind them from the way they had come, “I’ve had extra-feathered darkwings, now it’s time to try the original recipe.”
Camouflage was pointing to the black space behind them, and in that darkness appeared three sets of deep red eyes. Big, each the size of a saucer, each burning with malevolence. The eyes crept closer somehow following behind the speeding cart until they could see that each set belonged to something that looked like a gigantic bat, hurtling in the tunnel behind them. Each held a rider, a small orc with a saddle and harness. Each held a spear. The leader of the trio hissed and hurtled shouts ahead, mostly directly at Revack, but the orc payed no mind. He kept the lever down, full speed ahead.
The others took defensive positions in the cart, Theros strung an arrow and pulled back his string, aiming for one of the bat’s eyes. He loosed it with a twang and the arrow struck true, sending the magnificent black beast backwards into the darkness, throwing it’s rider off where he struck the rock wall and bounced off onto the track, lying lifeless.
The other two bats came on, flying side by side in the cave. One of them opened it’s large mouth, showing it’s fangs. A splitting cry pierced the air, sending many of them to the basket floor where they writhed in pain. This then threw the movement of the sauntering cart off, and it lurched to one side, on two wheels now instead of four. The next bend would send them flying off where they would surely crash!
“Gerrell, now!” yelled Ares, and the tiny gnome stood. He wasn’t affected by the screeching as the others were for some reason they didn’t understand. The little wizard waved his hands and one of the bats glided into the other, Both careened and pinwheeled together in the air, their wings flopping and flicking. They had been traveling at such a speed, that it didn’t take much to guide them out of their flight, and into the back end of the cart. Revack leaned forward where one of the bats struck the metal rail and slammed against the track behind them. Like a log splintering into pieces before the axe, the bat’s wings broke upon the tunnel floor and fell behind. The other creature struck a wall, but not before it’s rider lunged out into the air, a cruel axe held aloft. It was aimed right at Revack’s neck, where it would surely take off his head in a single swish!
There was nothing they could do. Even Gerrell was trying to maintain his focus on his spell. Once again, though, Camouflage stood. While the others around him tried to regain their composure after the bat’s cries, and the orc rider zipped his blade through the air for Revack’s neck, Camouflage stepped over them to the back of the basket.
“Oh, I see you lowlife would kill a guy holding a baby, huh orc-man?” Camouflage yelled at the orc. The absurdity of the statement was so odd, so weird, that the split second the axe hesitated was all Revack needed. He lurched around and caught the axe by the handle and slipping out from under it, smashed it against the brake handle! The brake engaged, sending the rider up against the backside of the casket, bashing his head against it. Revack then pushed the lever fully down again, and as the basket carried on, leaving the bloodied orc behind, Revack leaned over the backside, holding onto the child, and he shouted for the first time, and the last.