An Orc for All Seasons; Chapter 25

Although a feudal state in most regards, slavery was abolished in Slothjemia from the very beginning. Self-proclaimed “Freedom Raiders” routinely organize and maraud the lands south of the Empire to seek out and free people being held in servitude against their will. Often these people are goblinoid, but they can just as easily be humans. Individuals that are set free are given the choice to live in Slothjemia as citizens, or to be given safe travel to the other side of the country where they can strike out on their own, and seek their destiny wherever it may lay.

 Chapter 25

The column made excellent time. Most of the trip this day was gradually downhill, and the men were in very good spirits. They even sang a couple of rousing rounds of the “Bop Ba Dop Ah Dop” song. This very simple melody was a lot of fun for children, or drunken men, but today it just seemed the right thing to belt out at the top of their lungs. They didn’t have to be stealthy, there were no enemies lurking around the corner, and other than the great unknown repercussions of their general’s insubordination, they didn’t have a care in the world.

They stopped a couple of times during the day. The second time was at the crossroad spur to Summit Village. Where the Red Guard had once had camp a few days ago, the 6th Army paused for a lunch break today. There was a squad of militia from Summit Village here at the crossroad, and they very excitedly swapped stories with the soldiers about the fighting they had seen. A small group of Red Guards had infiltrated the fortified town, and almost singlehandedly killed or captured the Romillian commandos that had tried so hard to secure the town for themselves. The dragonriders had fought off skycruisers trying to reinforce the commandos, and once the skies had been secured, the assault had gone off without a hitch.

The militia were completely enthralled by the details of the Romillian defeat in Garvin’s Gap. The dwarves of Kernschloss asked if they could be of service in Summit Village, and after much excited discussion, they were invited to stay and assist in rebuilding the defenses. Storg Hammerclaw found Grundoon to tell him of their departure from the column.

“My lord von Vorkel, my men and I have been invited to help here in Summit Village.” He smiled at Grundoon. “It is an honor to help repair the damage done here by our cousins.”

Grundoon smiled and shook the dwarf’s hand. “It was a great honor to serve with you, my brother.” He pointed at the wagons. “You want to keep your loot here, or have us take it on to Kernschloss for you?”

The dwarf laughed. “We’ll put it to good use here. They can use the weapons, and we can sell the rest.” Storg grinned. “Thank you for the adventure, my lord.”

The dwarves set about unloading their wagon of loot. The other wagons had stuff redistributed to lighten the load of the horses, and the column continued on its’ way.

The column made even better time the rest of the distance to the clifftops. The gradual descent made marching easier, and the men once again took to song. This time the patrol sang a rowdy little tune called “When Frogs Fly”, a defiant song that had been long a favorite of anyone asked to do something they didn’t want to do. Grundoon had always liked that song. He loathed being told what to do, sometimes. Of course, that is why he and his men were so far from home and being made to return.

The column came to a halt and made camp at the top of the cliffs where they had made camp on the way to Garvin’s Gap. There were heavy clouds in the evening sky, but the storms were done for the time being. The stars poked through at chaotic intervals, and the moon shined with a silver glow that held a special significance for Slothjemians, as their Queen was the leader of the Tribe of the Midnight Skull first and foremost. Slothjemians loved the moon, and though their traditions had changed them somewhat, the goblinoids were still creatures of the night.

Grundoon sat on a fallen log well off the road, where he could look down at the men as they settled in for the night. Jandle sat quietly beside him. Not very many sentries had been posted, and the camp quieted quickly. The troops were tired from the march, and emotionally exhausted from the uncertainty of the previous day. The general just watched them for a long time.

“I hope I didn’t lead them down the wrong road, Jandle.” Grundoon stared up at the sky and watched the clouds passing in front of the moon. Jandle said nothing. Grundoon stretched out on the log. Jandle scooted down to give him room. The two fell asleep and only awoke when the sun began to peek over the craggy peaks of the mountains to the east, where the Herzgraf and his armies were seeking glorious war.

 

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