Orc Attack

After they had traveled on for a bit, Cipher stopped.

"What are you stopping for?" Arthandus asked. "We're nowhere near the castle, and it's not time to rest yet."

"Um, do you have some kind of way of letting your fellow knights know that we need help?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, there's a group of about a dozen orcs just up the road. And they spotted us. And now they're headed fast towards us."

"Run!" Arthandus shouted as he turned his horse around. He was no coward, but he was smart enough to know that he couldn't take a dozen orcs all by himself, especially not with having to worry about the safety of an untrained traveler. Bronfus could certainly handle himself, but bears weren't trained strategists. Knights had to coordinate their efforts in advance when partnering with the Unwild Animals, or there would be chaos. A surprise attack allowed no such time to plan.

Nonetheless, as he turned his horse, he pulled a small horn from his satchel and blew it. Despite the unlikelihood that there were any other knights in the area, there was always a chance that another one was wandering as he was, and could lend some assistance.

Cipher didn't need to be told twice to run. He turned and high-tailed it in the other direction, which of course only made the orcs run faster.

Bronfus hurried off, quickly outpacing even Arthandus' horse. He too was no coward; he would fight if he must. But war made him uneasy, and he never fought more than he had to. He started the day just looking for honey, and honestly, he really just wanted to get back to that.

After they had traveled for quite a bit, Arthandus could hear that it was no use. The orcs would be on them momentarily, so it was nobler to stand and fight, and there was at least a little chance of victory that way. “Hold!” he called to the others. “They’re almost upon us! Turn and defend yourselves!”

The next few minutes were far more chaotic than Arthandus cared for. How he wished to either be with his battalion, or to fight these orcs by himself! There were far too many variables for him to effectively commandeer this battle. When the dust was settled, he counted himself and Bronfus among the survivors...but Cipher was nowhere to be seen. Aranthdus groaned. This hadn’t been an ordinary raid; there had been a plan all along to capture their traveler (the person Aranthdus would have thought least valuable to any plans of Oranthuz). He wished he had foreseen that possibility sooner.

Arthandus was somewhat relieved when looking over the bodies that Cipher was not among them. So he was captured, and therefore alive for at least the moment. And they had taken out half the orcs in the process, which---under the circumstances--was quite good.

As Arthandus, his horse, and Bronfus all stood there catching their breath, they noticed that, despite Cipher being missing, their number had not gone down. Another traveler, one they had never met before, stood among them. He dressed in a similar fashion to Cipher, and his hair was nearly completely shaved down. He held an orc’s sword, suggesting that he had managed to take one off-guard and wrest the sword away from him, something that even the most skilled warriors could often not accomplish. Arthandus was impressed already.

The young man turned and looked at them. “Hey there,” he said. “That you who blew the horn?”

“Well, yes. Did you assist us? If so, you have our thanks. What, may I ask, is your name?”

“Tyrone Phillips,” said the young man, extending his hand to shake Arthandus’. “And don’t worry about it. I just got here a few minutes ago--I don’t know how I got here--but I played enough video games to know an orc attack when I see one, ya know?”

Arthandus didn’t bother to ask him to clarify what a “video game” was. There were more pressing concerns. “My name is Sir Arthandus, Knight of the Faithful Guardians, Protector of the Realm.”

Tyrone seemed impressed. “Sounds good. You got any idea how and why I’m here?”

“I wish I could say. There have been many strange sightings in this land of late. I have a feeling, though, that the answer may lie within the walls of a wicked sorcerer named Orthanuz. Our fellow traveler has been captured and likely taken there. Will you come with us and see what we may find there?”

Tyrone chuckled. “To be honest, that actually sounds awesome.”

“Bronfus, will you come with us as well?”

Bronfus, feeling horribly guilty for not being able to do enough to save Mr. Sy-Furr, had stayed quiet until now. He muttered a quick, “Okay.”

“Then, let us be off!” shouted Arthandus, pulling on the reins of his horse, and just barely hearing Tyrone say behind him: “Aw, man, y’all got talking animals too? That rocks!”

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