Once they were soldiers...
By Sergio PALUMBO ( nickname: "ente per ente" )
The dim shimmers of the flames put in light some spots of the battlefield where the corpses- once soldiers- had been gathering during the cruel fightings,leaving into darkness all the other areas.The twin Moons, too, kept glinting on the armours of the many and many dead knights who entirely covered the huge hills all around.The battle had ended only some hours ago, but it had turned out to be a complete defeat for Siolk, the old King of Vallenda, whose body without life lay somewhere on the ground full of blood, damaged weapons and severed extremities.
The team of Orcs had come here for plundering the treasures and the belongings left on the battleground, as they had always used to.The chief of the two, a big Orc named Kurtak- three feet taller than a common man, a big nose on a piggish green face, his hair the color of old feces- and his fellow Hurtak, a smaller one from the same race, had heard in the afternoon of the ongoing battle between the armies of the enemy human Realms and they had been fast at arriving here on time.Now the struggle was over and there was nobody around alive.Time to get all they wanted as they pleased…as the common saying goes, First come, first served, of course…
Soon Kurtak went looking for rings ( he had discovered long ago that it could be difficult to slip off them from some dead’s finger, on the contrary cutting the hands with his knife was easier and made him save time to collect more valuables…) and was reaching his blade just for a cut when he saw something unusual…a strange figure was looking for treasures among the corpses!
“Another Plunderer nearby?”the Orc considered, amazed ”Whoever could that be?How had he dared to invade our selected target?”
He gestured to his fellow Hurtak next to him and they approached cautiously the unknown figure from both sides.When they arrived in front of him, the two Orcs found that, actually, there were two humans ( another man, a bit fat, his hair very short, was on the right…), not only one!And both of them were searching the dead bodies…
A soon as they approached, the humans regrouped and prepare to fight.The Orcs, too,were ready to put hands to their weapons.
Then, all in a sudden, the slender one of the two- brown hair, deep eyes, a long greyish robe, maybe a merchant or a noble…- began speaking-My name is Silvuder and here is my fellow,priest Attleln…Could I propose to you good boys an agreement?All of us are we for business, after all, aren’t we…?-the man paused-Otherwise we could let our arms speak and start the fighting, but in such case someone among us probably will not live enough to collect the appreciable treasures on the ground…-
The Orcs looked at each other a little suspicious.Then the big Orc named Kurtak asked in return- What do you propozzze exactly…?-
-Well, we could share our task and search different areas of this huge battlefield…this way we could examine all the many corpses around and cover the whole ground in less time and then partake of the valuables found,just before the reinforcements from the enemy Army come here at dawn…cooperation would be helpful and appreciated, for the common good…-
-My friend is right, he thinks wisely…-the fat man said.
-Well, I zzzee good reasonzzz in what you zzzay, human…maybe we have an agreement, why not?- Kurtak replied.
-But…how could we believe in them…?They’re humanzz and we are Orczz…they could keep hidden everything they find without telling uzz anything…- Hurtak objected, plain concerned.
-You’re right, my friend…- the chief Orc nodded, amused for that consideration- That’s the reazzzon becauze we’ll part uzzz, one of uzzz will go with one of the humanzzz and the other- that izzz me- with the remaining one…so there will be two couples, a man and an Orc, and we can keep an eye on each other…-
“Good thinking for an Orc, indeed”the man named Silvuder thought-We agree…So be it!-the greyish robed man stated-Let’s start, then!-
So they began a discussion about which part of the battefield pertained to which team, and after some time they set that the right part ( with reference to Kurtak’s right hand…Orcs’ rule) of the ground had to be left to the first twosome ( Silvuder- Kurtak ) while the left side had to be examined from the second pair( Hurtak- Attleln ).
The search among the many dead bodies on the ground under the dim light was long, but proficuous…They reunited after four hours of work. The slender human named Silvuder had some money and gold artifacts in his bag,as the priest did, but he looked not satisfied in a way.The two teams put down all the findings and started considering the division.There was some brief discussion on a few peculiar objects, but the humans looked a little acquiescent on this argument.”Too bad!” Kurtak thought ”They’re not professionalzz, I had understood that from the beginning…”
With everything being accomplished,Silvuder kept silent and stood on the ground staring at the many corpses in the distance: he looked sad, but not for the outcome of the division,which had been fair enough, maybe there was something else…Attleln, the priest, turned to the battlefield and said”How many dead all around…I hope they had died for what they really believed in…-then gestured a religious blessing-Once they were soldiers, once they were knights, fighting for the Realm…- he said.
“Yeazzz, they were…but it izzzn’t time for kinda sentimentalizzzm, don’t you agree?- Kurtak said, looking at the fat man.
-Correct…we should hurry up!The reinforcements will be arriving soon...- the other Orc added.
Kurtak noticed a bit of sadness in Silvuder’s eyes-Don’t worry about the dead, man…You humanzzz make your warzzz, as we Orczzz do, and people die, it’zzz the way thingzzz go everywhere…-
-Probably you are right, Orc..- Silvuder admitted- Time to go now…-
And then the unlikely group of allies departed for their opposite directions and destinations while the sun was rising between two barren hills.Voices of some warriors coming from afar, probably a forefront formation from a reinforcement group, made them walk faster away.
While they were leaving from that place, Silvuder considered that he had failed the task assigned to him!He had been sent here from the Heir to the King who wanted back the precious family ring which had been a property of the Ruling House for more than two centuries…but now it had gone, lost forever!When Silvuder had noticed the two Orcs, he had soon told the priest to let him speak and act accordingly…both of them had to join forces with the cruel plunderers and collect all the valuables they could just in case they would have needed to do an exchange for their lives in the end(or, better, for the ring, but he had not explained this to Attleln, of course…).
He had tried his best to find it, searching the dead king’s body, found near a standard burnt almost completely,but nothing!The man had even thought someone could have been given it from the king himself to keep it safe,but also such a research on every single corpse within the Army of the Realm had proved incorrect,and all the treasures they had found had been unuseful, Silvuder had no interest at all in that sort of things...
He looked at priest Attleln next to him, in search of a soothing word of his, but his fellow didn’t say anything and kept walking on.
On the other hand, Attleln was thinking how clever he had been that day!The priest had been sent here not to help Silvuder, as a reliable person for the Heir to the King…Actually,on behalf of his sacred Congregation, as soon as it had been informed of the incoming battle, he had been ordered to find by all means that precious ring that was in reality so precious only because inside it there was a concealed compartment containing some tiny old texts in paper whose writings had been very important for every reigning King in the Realm so far.By means of them, Siolk and all his predecessors in the past had been able to keep in their hands all the religious priests of the Order so to use the Congregation at their own disposal, forcing its members to approve their laws, to follow their deeds and even to bless their wars for the greatness of the Ruling House…so that fact had been of great concern for his own religious Order for so long.
But now things were going to change!The old King had been so foolish to go to a war he couldn’t win and that opportunity had to be taken at once, according to his superiors in the Congregation…Attleln had to stop the task of Silvuder, one of the best man in the service of the Ruling House, sent to the battleground just to retrieve that ring…so the priest had set that meeting - apparently by chance- in disguise as a religious novice, a passer-by at the tavern where the man had run into him along the road, coming from the capital en- route to the place where the battle was going on.
“I’m here on the way to reach my destination, my religious temple far away” the priest had told him when their arranged encounter had occurred”But I know from hearsay of the battle nearby, so it could be waiting just for now, I’d better come with you to reach the battlefield and give my blessing to the dead for the good of their souls…”.So he had said, wonderful choice of words!
So the noble-minded Silvuder had trusted him, how could have he done or thought otherwise?His ornaments and his word as a priest were sacred, it had always been that way among all the nobles and the knights of the Realm.And, other than that, by agreeing on that matter, Silvuder had shown clearly he didn’t know anything about the importance of that ring for his Congregation, he was only to fulfill the orders of the Heir…
In the end,he himself had easily joined the man. Attleln had thought at first he could have easily killed Silvuder once the ring had been retrieved, his strong magic would have been very helpful at that moment and surely he had been able to take him by surprise, as Silvuder would never expect the priest was able to use such powerful enchantments…usually novices didn’t know much about magic, but he was a novice no more,even if he looked like a younger religious…But when they had found those plunderers, things had changed completely and the priest had considered the way he could have defeated three opponents to achieve his deed, knowing that was not an easy fighting…But, finally ( best luck of all! ) he had been assigned to the twosome with the less intelligent Orc between the two on the battlefield (Hurtak…), so it had been easy to disguise his actions and made a fool of him.When Attleln had found that ring on the body of one of the dead guards of the King( yes, probably even the noble- minded Silvuder had supposed such a thing,really it had been given to one of Siolk’s fellow men before dying to keep it safe and to pass it to his Heir…),he had kept it hidden at once from human (and Orc…)sight, applying a powerful enchantment of concealment he was very good at…
So all the things pertaining to his superiors in the Order- to be kept jealously in the secrecy forever- were secured now and nobody else would have been able to use them to have under control every priest like him…except his own religious hidden circle within his own Congregation, of course…but that was another matter…
"Secrets change hands" Attleln concealed his smirk, pleased "So Power moves from one hand to the other from time to time..."
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My biography ( if necessary again...anyway, I updated it a little...) : I'm an Italian public servant who graduated from Law School working in the public real estates branch. I've published a Fantasy RolePlaying illustrated Manual, WarBlades , of more than 400 pages.Some of my works and short- stories have been published on American Aphelion, WeirdYear Webzine , Another Realm Webzine and will appear soon on AlienSkin Magazine and Antipodean SF Magazine. I am also a scale modeler who likes mostly Science Fiction and Real Space models, some of my little Dioramas has been shown also on the American site StarShipModeler, MechaModelComp and SFM: UK.
Labels: Sergio "ente per ente" PALUMBO