The Elf and the Orc: Part 6


      Morfang drew his blade and stuck it through the man’s stomach. He pulled it out and ran back to the inn.

     Waving his sword around, the people went into an uproar, screaming and crying, some of the brave men attacked, drawing their swords. Morfang parried and dodged their attacks, rushing up the steps. He slammed the door to their room.

     “What happened?” Lindariel asked, standing.

     Morfang sheathed his sword and smashed the window. He grabbed Lindariel’s wrist and had her lock her hands together around his neck. He jumped out with Lindariel on his back. Lindariel hid her face against his neck.

     She let go when he pulled his sword out again and parried the guard that attacked.

     Lindariel hobbled to the stables. Morfang didn’t have the time to bother wondering what she was doing. Felling three soldiers, Morfang began to work on the fourth and fifth when she burst through the stables, riding a brown steed. The guards jumped back and she held her hand out for Morfang.

     “Get on!” she shouted. Morfang took her hand she helped him up. They galloped out of the town, guards chasing after them.

     “You do realize,” Morfang shouted, “That you’re headed straight for the Withered Heaths, right?”

     “Dragon territory? Well, would the Orc Hunters dare go in there?” Lindariel shouted back.

     Morfang smirked. “Smart.” Morfang said, taking his crossbow and turning behind him. He aimed at the nearest and shot him. Reloading the bow, he aimed again. “Sort of feels a waste to just leave all that good meat.”

     “Excuse me?!” Lindariel snapped. “Meat?! Gross! Even if they’re not the same creature as you are, they still understand our language and everything! They even have the same body structure!”

     Morfang shrugged. “It’s not like its cannibalism.”

     Lindariel looked at him with disgust. “Have you…”

     “No, but there are incidents where it does happen. Very rare incidents, but they do happen. Humans also have committed cannibalism!” he added quickly. “Don’t get mad at me! Besides, couldn’t we take a horse for extra food?”

     “Morfang, that is disgusting!”

     Morfang laughed. The princess was easily disgusted, but strong of stomach. There were things more disgusting than eating living beings in the world, Morfang knew, but he figured to let it slide and allow Lindariel to discover it for herself.

     Sending another arrow at their pursuers, Morfang relaxed his jaw muscles, waiting to see what they’d do next.

     They stopped, though Lindariel kept their own steed going at full pace into the dry, barren lands of the Withered Heaths.

     The Heaths are a barren wasteland of rock and stone. Once they had entered, Lindariel slowed their horse to a walk. Lindariel kept her head bowed. “I forgot the staff,” she mumbled. “S—”

     “Don’t you dare say you’re sorry,” Morfang reminded her.

     “Then what should I say?” Lindariel asked, glancing behind her.

     “Nothing. We have a horse, so we can ride for a while. Keep the horse walking, if need be, urge him to go faster. I doubt there’s anything here to be eaten or drunk by a horse so the sooner the better.”

     Lindariel faced forward and whispered to the horse in her native tongue. The stallion began to trot, his ears laid back against his head.

     Her hair was over her right shoulder, baring her neck to Morfang. For a moment, his hand reached out to touch the milk white skin. Instead, he drew his hand away and unsheathed his dagger, running it along his hand in a swift motion before wiping the black blood on the blade on his trousers and sheathing it again.

     “Morfang?” Lindariel said, looking behind her. Her eyes found his bleeding hand. “When did that happen?”

     “During the fight back in town.”

     “We have to dress it. If the Dragons smell that…”

     Morfang swore. “It’ll be fine, I’ll tie it.”

     “On your own with one hand?” Lindariel tutted. She halted the horse and dismounted, forcing Morfang to do the same before she took out an extra piece of linen from her old dress and wrapped it around his hand tight enough to staunch the bleeding. “Did this really happen during the fight?”

     “It…did,” Morfang said, hesitating.

     Lindariel didn’t address his hesitation in answering, but her frown told him that she certainly noted it. “Shall we continue on?” She asked, holding the stallion’s bit while Morfang remounted. He pulled Lindariel up in front of him, not realizing that his hand held her hand a little longer than necessary, but not long enough for Lindariel to take notice.

     They travelled as far as they could until it night fell. Lindariel guided the horse to a small cave where they rested. Lindariel kept whispering comforts to the horse so that he would go to sleep without fear of the dragons and Morfang kept watch while Lindariel slept, her head resting against the horse’s stomach.

     Morfang glanced at Lindariel from time to time, trying to sort out the emotions that were suffocating him concerning her.

     “I’m a fool,” he growled in the Black Tongue, taking a stone and sharpening his daggers with it. “A damned fool. If my father saw me now…”

     If Captain Gorbag saw Morfang now, he’d probably skewer him and disown him for associating with an Elf. There was certainly no loss of affection between Morfang and his father. In fact, the last he had seen his father was before he had gotten into a brawl with the Uruk Hai Captain Snagrat which became the end of several Uruks and Morguls.

     Gorbag had harshly criticized Morfang’s performance in a practice battle, which the other captains praised. Nothing he did was remotely good enough for his father.

     Morfang didn’t mourn his father’s stupid death; it opened up a possibility for him if anything to take Gorbag’s place as Captain. There was a lot of competition for that position in the army and everyone lower than a Captain was fighting for it.

     Morfang to this day did not know what the fight was about, but he had been told it was over some Dwarvish or Elvish shirt. The witnesses of that brawl didn’t know the exact details. But the one who did was Snagrat who slipped away with said shirt.

     It was dumb, but Morfang was determined to hunt the Uruk down if he still lived these past three months and demand answers before ending his life. This action would avenge his father, and that would be enough.

    But that was only “if.”

     There’s no way of knowing if Snagrat still lived.

     Morfang had been told time and time again that Gorbag truly was proud of him, but Morfang seriously doubted those words.

     With this final though, Morfang drifted to sleep.

     Sunlight began to peer over the rocky terrain and Morfang woke the moment he noticed light seeping past his eyelids. He scurried onto his feet and saw his daggers still lying on the ground. He sheathed them before waking Lindariel, who groggily woke the horse. The horse had an easier time waking than she did. Morfang kept out of the horse’s sight, though the beast kept one hoof ready for him in case.

     After climbing up and pulling Lindariel onto the horse in front of him, she drifted to sleep again. She really had no sense of urgency, did she? Morfang took the reins instead and urged the horse to walk. In theory it’s no different than riding a Warg. In practice, there were a couple differences.

     One being that the horse understood different commands. The other is that the horse is too loud—it’s the hooves, Morfang decided. It has to be the hooves.

     “Princess,” Morfang hissed, shaking Lindariel’s shoulder. “Wake up. This isn’t family camp for the Valar’s sake!”

     Lindariel groaned, refusing to open her eyes.

     Morfang urged the horse to keep going. If possible, he’d urge the steed to go faster, but anything he did only irritated the stallion, which never glanced behind at him, but folded its ears back. The damn horse at least tolerated him.

     A whoosh of air above them alerted Morfang that they had been spotted and are now being hunted. He shook Lindariel again.

     “Princess, wake up.”

     “Don’t wanna.”

     Morfang cursed. “Lindariel, wake up! That is an order!” She still refused. Morfang grit his teeth and pulled out the medicine. “Fine, don’t blame me for the nasty wake up call,” he growled, opening the bottle and holding it under her nose. If the smell didn’t wake her, the taste surely will.

     Lindariel jerked awake and pushed Morfang’s hand away. “What?”

    “We’ve company and the horse won’t listen to me.” Lindariel blinked and looked around. Morfang held her head steady. “Relax, take a breath.” He grabbed the reins again. “Getting scared or excited won’t do us any good. Tell the horse to go full gallop and for the Valar’s sake, don’t stop.”

     Lindariel obeyed and the horse lurched forward, almost leaving them in its wake—if not for Morfang holding onto the reins (therefore able to keep seated and Lindariel on the steed).

     The dragon pursuer roared and chased after them. Not one spit of smoke engulfed them. Morfang deduced that the dragon was either not a fire breathing type or not old enough to breathe fire. He wasn’t going to look behind to check.

     The horse stumbled. Sensing trouble, Morfang loosened his feet from the straps and grabbed Lindariel’s waist as the horse fell down with a great whiney. Morfang and Lindariel rolled away as the dragon swooped down on their horse, ripping its head clean off its body.

     Lindariel hid her face in Morfang’s chest while the horse was devoured. The dragon’s scales were aqua blue and its eyes were fire yellow. From its size, Morfang could deduce that the beast was an adolescent at least six meters long. A smaller dragon could make about ten meters in length if fed well. This one was still very much a baby, but old enough, it seemed, to hunt on its own. After licking its’ bloodied lips of the horse flesh, Morfang stood.

     Lindariel grabbed his hand. Morfang glowered at her, but softened his gaze after a moment. “Lindariel, it’s alright. It’s a small one.”

     “You call that small?” she whispered. Her whole body quivered.

     “I mean it’s a baby.”

     “That doesn’t help.”

     Morfang pried her hands away from his. “Find a place to hide and stay there. This will be done as soon as I can make it.” Once released, Morfang stepped forward, not caring to look behind him to see if Lindariel obeyed him and went to hide.

     Even if Lindariel’s feet were not injured, she could not move, frozen on the rocky terrain. Her eyes fixed on Morfang’s back as he drew his sword.

     Lindariel folded her hands. Heavenly Valar, she prayed, protect us!

By Brittany Silverneko