The Revenge of the Ogres
In chapter 15 of The Curse of Garnel Ironheart, Khazav, Ritchar, Don-zee and Derron are sailing along the mountain rivers from Arnodon to Lake Doom. At one point, they are attacked by several ogres and a giant. Working together, they defeat the ogres but over the next several days Khazav remains vigilant for signs of further attacks. These never come (we don't see the ogres again until much later).
As readers know, we are introduced in the book to several of the Lords of Alladag but one, Themor, is mentioned by Helmy in chapter 12 as having disappeared after leaving Alladag. Before I decided to make The Curse of Garnel Ironheart into a trilogy, it was my intention to include him in the story.
So given the need to let the ogres try to have some revenge and wanting to put Themor into the narrative, I came up with this during the 2nd draft. It was then dropped because (a) it's not essential to the story and (b) I needed to cut pages.
Please note that in the early versions of the manuscript, the Five Race were referred to by their D&D names, not the ones found in the final edition. Dwarves are Qilivs, and half-elves are Chetz-grinuaollis.
This fits into chapter 15. It looks a little rough but it is an early draft that was never proofed.
They headed south for another two days. The mountains continued to surround them but as they travelled on, more and more trees covered their slopes and the ice caps on top became smaller. The breeze was still cool but not as chilling as before. The grey clouds became white and fluffy again and eventually sparse. Beaches were easier to find on this leg of the journey and some even had grass, allowing them a bit of rest at night. Despite Khazav’s worries, they saw no signs of pursuit and after it had been a week since the battle, they stopped watching for it. On the third day after they had passed the fork in the river, late in the afternoon, they saw the river become narrow up ahead as it flowed through a high gorge. They entered the gorge but halfway through something appeared in the river.
“What is going on?” muttered Khazav. There, blocking their progress was a piled of tree trunks, piled high in the water and rising above it. The boats floated up to the barrier and stopped gently against it. They looked around the gorge, up at its top and back the way they came.
“I have a bad feeling about this,” said Derron softly.
Abruptly, there was a loud crash and several boulders came flying down from the rocky ledges above. The rocks lands hard in the water, causing the boats to sway dangerously. The four held on for dear life as more as more boulders came down, each narrowly missing them each time. Above them, they could see large, shadowy figures moving.
“The ogres!” shouted Khazav above the noise of splashing water. “Their comrades have found us!”
“We’re an easy target if we just float here,” yelled Ritchar in return. “We must paddle our way back to the entrance of the gorge.” Just then they heard a crashing sound behind them. A large tree dropped into the gorge and wedged itself between the two stone walls, blocking their only exit.
“Any other ideas?” asked Don-zee. The rocks were still coming down and getting closer. The spray from the roiled water had drenched them.
“Why don’t they drop the rocks on our boat directly?” asked Derron, gripping the side of his craft tightly as it rose and fell with the current?
“Ogres have a strong sense of revenge,” mutter Khazav. They want us to be good and scared before they finally kill us.”
Suddenly they heard the sound of an explosion, then a loud roar. A flash of yellow light appeared briefly above and as it faded, they could hear the ogres screaming in pain. The boulders stopped dropping around them and the water quickly grew calm. As they watched, a blue arch of lighting arched over the gorge. There was another explosion and more screaming. Then the noises grew fainter. The ogres were fleeing whoever, or whatever, had attacked them. The four looked up at the top of the gorge, half-expecting to see something worse peering down on them. A small head, the size of a man’s, perhaps smaller, appeared above.
“Friend or foe?” a voice called down. Don-zee wasted no time in responding.
“Friend!” he shouted.
“We are travelers,” added Ritchar, “meaning no trespass.”
“I expect not,” the voice replied. “Yet you will do no traveling with that barrier in your way.”
“What do you suggest?” asked Derron. There was no reply but they saw the figure extend a hand above his head. Suddenly, they each felt as it they were being gripped by huge, invisible hands. The two boats slowly began to rise out of the water and up towards the top of the gorge. Don-zee looked around in panic as they began to fly up but the others seemed to take in the sudden change in events with an unusual calmness. Dwarves, he remind himself, do not like to fly.
Finally, the boats reached the top of the gorge and sailed over the edge to land softly on the rocky floor lining it. They looked in fron of them at their rescuer. He was a short man, perhaps five and a half feet tall, thin in build with short blonde hair and a trimmed beard. His ears and eyes were Elvish. He wore a suit of leather armour covered in unfamiliar symbols and runes. On his hands were a pair of long leather gloves and at his waste was a scabbard holing a short, thin sword.
The four carefully stood up and climbed out of the boats which were now sitting lopsided on the rock. They steadied themselves and then Ritchar bowed low. The others followed suit.
“My lord,” said Rithcar in an awed voice, “we are grateful for your intervention. Had you not appeared with such power in our hour of need, we would surely have been lost.” The figure raised his eyebrows as he spoke.
“Nonsense,” he replied. “It is I who should be thanking you. It has been too long since I have seen battle and terrifying a group of ogres is as good a way as any to spend the morning. Thank you for the opportunity.” The four stood up and looked curiously at the powerful stranger who had saved them.
“May we know the name of our benefactor?” asked Derron cautiously. As a sailor, he had rarely come into contact with wizards and other practitioners of the ancient magical arts. Even Ritchar left him somewhat in awe but this elf before them had easily demonstrated a power greater than he had ever seen before.
The man bowed flamboyantly before them. “I am Themor Durban, a Sylvan Elf from the lands of the south, descendent of the Elven Duke Nurampaion Belethramion, and servant to Labelas Enoreth, Lord of Longevity among the Seldarine.” He winked mischievously. “My friends call me Themor, though, and you may find that easier than what I have just told you.”
The four looked at each other. For a person of such power, he seemed somewhat irreverant. “I am Khazav,” said the tall warrior. “This is Ritchar Hamcunning, Derron and the dwarf is called Don-zee.” My friends and I are on a journey in these parts. With your assistance in returning us to the river, we shall be on our way and trouble you no more.”
“Trouble?” replied Themor. “You are no trouble. Travellers in these parts are rare, and those with which I would want to speak are even more so. What’s more, you obviously have a tale to tell for you are travelling in dwarf boats of a workmanship I have not seen in a long time. And one almost of my kind is never seen in these lands. You will not depart hence but rather I will have you as guests in my humble home.”
“My lord,” said Ritchar with great deference, for he held all elves and wizards in tremendous respect. “We are in the employ of a mighty man and he asked that we not delay our work.”
Themor snorted. “Nonsense,” he said. “I care not who your employer is for he is certainly not as mighty as I.” He pointed towards the other side of the gorge. They looked for the first time and saw the bodies of seven ogres lying dead and charred on the ground, their weapons and several large boulders scattered around them. They turned back towards Themor.
“How far is your home?” asked Don-zee. Themor pointed up the slope of the mountain edge they were standing next to. Halfway up to the peak, they saw a small structure that looked like it had been carved out of the side of the mountain itself.
“”Tis about two hour’s climb. Leave your gear here lest you be too encumbered to make it.” Themor saw them look nervously at each other and laughed. “What a grim company you four are! Worry not. I shall ensure your belonging remain untouched.” He held his hands in front of him, fingers spread wide. He mumbled for a moment in a soft voice they could not hear, and then his hands began to glow a deep yellow and beams of light shot forth from them towards the boats. Just before reaching them, the beams twisted and spread around them, quickly forming a glowing, yellow dome.
“Your possessions will remain untouched until the morning,” he said with certainty. “Should any ogres or their ilk try to touch them, they will be incinerated. Come!” He turned and began bounding up the rocky slope. They looked at each other again and began to hike up after him.
The slope was steep but rocks and other convenient places to grab a hold of were plenty. They struggled up for two hours, stopping frequently to catch their breath. The steep slope and thin mountain air seemed not to bother Themor as he ran ahead up the slope and disappeared into the structure above. Finally, as the sky began to darken with the onset of evening, they reached a small ledge and lifted themselves over it and onto a small outcropping from the mountain edge. In front of them was a small, bare plateau. At the other end, carved into the rocky wall of the mountain was the façade of a small house. The door, which was lined with pillars carved in the shape of two women armed with swords, stood wide open and yellow light twinkled through its many windows. They lay on the ground for several minutes, breathing heavily, then struggled to their feet and walked into the house.
The front room was a small, square chamber with doors set in every wall and even one in the ceiling which was connected to the ground by a thick, wooden ladder. Themor appeared through one of the side doors and walked through another doorway just as quickly, waving for them to follow. They proceeded down a small passageway whose roof glowed with a soft white light they could not se the source for and emerged into a large chamber deeper into the mountain. The room had five walls and a very high ceiling. The walls were covered with bookcases that rose almost to the ceiling itself and were crammed full of books and scrolls. Ledges were set into the wall at intermittent levels and ladders lead from the floor to the bottom most ledge and from each ledge to the next above it.
“What a library,” said Richar in admiration. He had never seen so many books before. “This Themor Durban must be a wizard of tremendous power.”
Themor himself had disappeared through another doorway, leaving them standing by a table in the middle of the room. It was made of wood, long and wide with twenty chairs set about it. He soon reappeared, holding a large, covered, silver tray. Balanced precariously on it was an earthenware jug.
“Sit, honoured guests,” he said and they cautiously sat at the table. He came, sat next to them, took the jug off the cover, and slid the tray down the table. It came to a rest exactly midway between them. “It’s a long time since I have had company for dinner,” he said. “I usually eat light. I hope you like it.” He waved his hand and the cover on the tray rose and disappeared with a sudden “pop” as air rushed to occupy the space it had just been in. There, on the tray sat five large animal legs, brown and steaming. The smell of the food made them feel famished. They had not eaten anything except grom and sengroe for almost three weeks. “It is mountain goat,” explained Themor. “Not the fanciest meal, I’m afraid, but quite sustaining.”
“I am sure we’ll find it quite filling,” said Ritchar. He reached over and grabbed one of the legs and held it to his mouth. He bit into it and the strong taste of real food almost overwhelmed him. The others followed and soon all four of them were eating ravenously. Themor watched, chewing on his goat’s leg more slowly. They ate in silence, and when they had finished the meat, Themor produced goblets out of thin air for each of them. They poured the brown liquid from the jug into their cups and drank deeply. A sudden heaviness came over their limbs and they began to feel the exhaustion their long trek had started to take on them.
“Where are your from?” asked Ritchar. “And why do you seclude yourself in this mountain retreat?” He stopped and thought himself to be uncharacteristically forward but the drink had relaxed him unusually quickly.
“I come from another place,” said Themor, with a slight smile, “and another time. I have many friends, powerful ones at that, who live on the other side of these mountains and for many years I did travel and live with them, but I grew tired of the responsibilities of companionship and left them to develop my skills in solitude. Perhaps one day I shall rejoin them.”
“A most cryptic answer,” responded Ritchar. “You are obviously a powerful wizard. Where did you learn your skills?”
“Curious fellow,” chuckled Themor. ““I am a most cryptic person. I have studied in many places. The list is not important but if you enjoy hearing names, I will tell you that I have travelled as far as Darnell to acquire knowledge.” Ritchar whistled with awe. Darnell was a distant land where the most powerful wizards in the world lived. To train with them was almost unheard of.
“Why do you live here, by yourself?” asked Don-zee.
“To avoid endless questions which divert me from my studies,” came the curt reply. Then his annoyance softened. “Let me ask a question now. Why are you travelling to Lake Doom?” The group looked startled and Themor shook his head. “There is only one destination someone on this river can have, unless you are also looking to build a home on an empty mountain slope. Ah, I thought not.”
They looked at each other and finally Khazav spoke. “We are treasure hunters, and have been hired to retrieve an item from Lake Doom.”
Themor’s eyebrows rose. “What treasure is there in such a forsaken place?”
“We were sworn to secrecy,” said Don-zee. Themor nodded in response.
“I respect that,” he said. “For the sakes of your souls, I hope your journey is successful. I would say that many have braved the shores of Lake Doom in search of treasure but in truth, even the mightly elves of the northern forests give it a wide berth.”
“Nevertheless,” insisted Khazav, “it is our destination.”
“Very well,” Themor sighed. “Now I see that fatigue has overcome you. I shall show you to your rooms. In the morning, I will wake you. We will descend to the gorge below and I shall put your boats back into the water on the other side of the barrier. You will travel as you have before.” He stood up and led them through a side door into a narrow passage. After a few feet, they turned and walked up a short flight of steps. There was a room at the top of the steps with several, thin mattresses set on the floor. “Here is where you will sleep,” said Themor.
“Master,” said Ritchar, “with your permission, I would speak with you. I have some skill in the arts of wizardry. Is there anything you might teach me?”
“Oh, a student,” said Themor. “I haven’t had one of those in a while. Frankly, it was those incessant demands made of me to teach that convinced me that I myself had much to learn. But come! We will share what skills we possess. Perhaps there is a thing or two you can learn from an old elf like me.”
Ritchar turned towards the others. Khazav shrugged and sat down heavily on the mattress. “Do what you want,” he said in a heavy voice. His eyes were already half closed. “I will sleep now, and I suspect the others will as well.” He looked around. Don-zee and Derron had already laid down on the mattresses and drifted to sleep. “Must be the mead,” he said, then he laid down and closed his eyes.
Themor spent much of the night with Ritchar. He showed him many old tomes in his library and they discussed magical lore and the casting of spells for many hours. When Ritchar finally returned to his room, his head was spinning with new knowledge that the older elf had imparted to him. Hopefully, he thought, this will leave us better prepared to fight the evil of Lake Doom.
True to his word, Themor woke them early. They ate a breakfast of what looked like sengroe but tasted like cake mixed with honey. Afterwards, they climbed carefully down the slope of the mountain to where their boats still sat, covered in the yellow light. Themor waved his hands over the light and it immediately disappeared. “You would be best advised to get back in the boats before I set them in the river,” he said, “lest you spend the rest of your journey to Lake Doom chasing them.” They quickly resumed their usual positions. Themor walked over to Ritchar as he settled himself in.
“Take this,” he said. He pulled out a small ring from his pocket. It was silver and was set with a clear jewel. “A friend of mine named Carter forged two of these. He has one and he gave me the other. Ah, I miss him so. It has great power to deliver you from evil but be careful in its use. It shall work only twice and can then only be given new power through terrible cost.” Ritchar took the ring carefully and put it in his pocket. It felt strangely warm in his hands. Themor stepped back and raised his hands.
“You gift shall be treasured by us,” said Ritchar, “but even more so, the kindness you have shown us.”
“Farewell,” Themor said, “and thank you for giving me the pleasure of demonstrating my hospitality. May Heaven, and Labelas Enoreth guide you to safety. His hands began to glow once again and the boats rose in the air. Slowly they floated down towards the rive.r They looked below them and saw the trees the ogres had left in the river. They boats descending and finally landed softly on the water beyond it. They began floating downstream again. Quickly, Khazav and the others turned to look back up at the gorge but there was no sign of Themor to be seen.