The Lone Drow

"The three mists, Obould Many-Arrows," Tsinka Shrinrill shrieked, her eyes wide, eyeballs rolling about insanely. She was in her communion as she addressed the orc king and the others, lost somewhere between the real world and the land of the gods, so she claimed. "The three mists define your kingdom beneath the Spine of the World: the long line of the Surbrin River, giving her vapors to the morning air; the fetid smoke of the Trollmoors reaching up to your call; the spiritual essence of your long-dead ancestors, the haunting of Fell Pass. This is your time, King Obould Many-Arrows, and this will be your domain!"

The orc shaman ended her proclamation by throwing up her arms and howling, and those many other mouths of Gruumsh One-Eye, god of orcs, followed her lead, similarly shrieking, raising their arms, and turning circles as they paced a wider circuit around the orc king and the ruined wooden statue of their beloved god.

The ruined hollow statue used by their enemies, the insult to the image of Gruumsh. The defiling of their god.

Urlgen Threefist, Obould's son and heir to the throne, looked on with a mixture of amazement, trepidation, and gratitude. He had never liked Tsinka - one of the minor, if more colorful shamans of the Many-Arrows tribe - and he knew that she was speaking largely along the lines scripted by Obould himself. He scanned the area, noting the sea of snarling orcs, all angry and frustrated, mouths wide, teeth yellow and green, sharpened and broken. He looked at the bloodshot and jaundiced eyes, all glancing this way and that with excitement and fear. He watched the continual jostling and shoving, and he noted the many hurled insults, which were often answered by hurled missiles. Warriors all, angry and bitter - as were all the orcs of the Spine of the World - living in dank caves while the other races enjoyed the comforts of their respective cities and societies. They were all anxious, as Urlgen was anxious, pointy tongues licking torn lips. Would Obould reshape the fate and miserable existence of the orcs of the North?

Urlgen had led the charge against the human town that had been known as Shallows, and he had found a great victory there. The tower of the powerful wizard, long a thorn in the side of the orcs, was toppled, and the mighty wizard was dead, along with most of his townsfolk and a fair number of dwarves, including, they all believed, King Bruenor Battlehammer himself, the ruler of Mithral Hall.

But many others had escaped Urlgen's assault, using that blasphemous statue. Upon seeing the great and towering idol, most of Urlgen's orc forces had properly prostrated themselves before it, paying homage to the image of their merciless god. It had all been a ruse, though, and the statue had opened, revealing a small force of fierce dwarves who had massacred many of the unsuspecting orcs and sent the rest fleeing for the mountains. And so there had been an escape by those remaining defenders of the dying town, and the fleeing refugees had met up with another dwarf contingent - estimates put their number at four hundred or so. Those combined forces had fended off Urlgen's chasing army.

The orc commander had lost many.

Thus, when Obould had arrived on the scene, Urlgen had expected to be berated and probably even beaten for his failure, and indeed, his vicious father's immediate responses had been along those very lines.

But then, to the surprise of them all, the reports of potential reinforcements had come filtering in. Many other tribes had begun