|April 28, 2002
Some time between moonset and sunrise I awake to foul breath in my face. A scream that would do a cheerleader proud escapes my lips. I sense the creature back off as I roll to my left grab my MagLite out of my pocket and twist it on. There five feet away is a huge wolf and ten feet away is it's mate eating my breakfast of fish. I yell and wave my arms as I look for my pistol. It lies next to where I was sleeping but closer to the wolf than to me. The wolves are now growling at me. I grab some wood and toss a branch at the closest, it backs up. I use another branch like a lion tamer using a chair and grab my pistol. The wolf's hackles are up and it's mate is now at his side. "Hey, two to one odds, not fair!" The tone of my voice doesn't sound like me. I pull the pistol out of the holster and fire a shot in the air right over their heads. The wolves take off like lightning. I catch a flash of movement to my right, a third wolf?
Sweeping the light, side to side I dump some wood on the ashes. Great, no smoke! I stir the ashes and see a few glowing embers. I coax the fire back to life and soon it is illuminating the area around me. My two friends have returned, I see their eyes reflecting the fire's light. My ears are ringing and I hope theirs are too. I stand and try to walk off some of the adrenaline. I'm wide awake now, I decide to keep the fire burning until dawn. I make myself coffee and chastise the wolves. They don't seem very apologetic, in fact they remain with me until my next visitors arrive.
Three Orcs change places with the wolves. I dump more wood on the fire and hope that dawn comes early. The Orcs are armed with spears and are dressed in hide tunics and breeches of some kind. From a wide leather belt hangs small short swords in scabbards. Their forearms have leather bracers, laced with rawhide. They appear to be about 5'6" tall and very stout in build, with grayish skin, perhaps it's the light. I quickly scan my perimeter looking for more. Only the three are visible, but the MagLite seemed to scare them, because they backed up and grimaced when I swept it past them. They even have cat like eyes and pronounced canine teeth.
I focus and shine the MagLite directly in one of their eyes. It shouts and protects its eyes. Hopeful, good, good, maybe if I can postpone things for another hour they will depart at dawn. Orcs hate sunlight. Oh, no! One grunts a string of nonsensical syllables and another grunts in response and takes off. Where's that one going? To get help, probably. Damn! The remaining two don't appear to be in any hurry to get closer, perhaps they are only watching me. Fine, I pack everything up and eat my goose breast sandwich.
Dawn is only half an-hour away. I can almost see enough to move around. I replace the spent cartridge in my pistol. I try to see what they will do if I try to leave. I kick dirt over the fire and begin walking sideways towards the East-West Road. Well that got them excited! The Orcs move to prevent me from leaving. I walk faster and shine the flashlight in their eyes, attempting to avoid any hostilities. One of them looks like he is about to toss his spear, I dive behind a tree. The Orcs continue to close, I fire a shot into a tree adjacent to the nearest. Well that was amusing, whether it was the noise or the muzzle flash the Orcs have stopped. The look on their faces, 'priceless'. I get to my feet and continue south.
I am running now, jumping over down trees and rocks. The Orcs are chasing me. I stumble and fall, failing to see a root in the poor light. I roll over on my stomach and holding the flashlight in my left hand and my pistol resting on top, I fire a shot, the Orc drops and his cohort stops ten feet away covered in blood and gore from the exit wound. I watch him carefully in the light as I get to my feet and continue south. The river is to my left and the Orc keeping the distance, continues to follow me. The Orc catches my eye, smiles, his teeth feral and ominous, and then using his tongue licks the blood from his face.
I hear a noise immediately to my left, it sounds like a gunshot. I flinch and look to my left. A beaver has slapped his tail. The Orc seeing me distracted attempts to rush me. I swing back and snap a shot. I miss the heart-lung area but I manage to break his shoulder and spin him to the side. He looks surprised as his weapon drops to the ground and howls like a wounded animal. His call is answered, somewhere to the north. I run for the East-West road.
It is now light enough to see so I cram the MagLite into my pocket. My breath is ragged in my throat. After running for a minute I cut into a copse of beech trees to my left and drop to the ground behind a bush. I observe the trail behind me. I don't see anything so I decide to catch my breath and replace the three spent cartridges. I hear more howling behind me, they sound closer. I get to my feet and decide to travel southeast through the woods. The brass lies forgotten behind me. I set a pace equal to a fast walk. I take care to leave minimal tracks and avoid making noise if at all possible. I try to listen to pursuit as my breathing returns to normal.
I skirt another clearing and then decide to see if the Orcs have given up as the sun is now shinning. I hide behind a large windfall, setting my hat to the side. I listen with my mouth open and slowly scan the area looking for movement. I curse under my breath as I see two Wargs, my visitors of this morning, lope in to the edge of the clearing and pause, sniffing the air, fifty yards away. I rest the 8 and 3/8" barrel of my pistol across the log, cock the hammer, place the sight 3" over the top of it's back and gently squeeze the trigger. The Warg is knocked off its feet and stays down. It's mate charges me. I fire again and miss. The next shot takes it in the chest as it is leaping over my log.
I push the body off me. Damn thing must weigh 150 pounds if it weighs anything. I hear the Orcs howling, I take off continuing towards the south-east. My hat! Shit! I can always get another one, but it was my lucky hat. I decide to continue traveling as stealthily as I can. I can only hope that they don't have any more Wargs with them. I pause behind a large tree as I once again replace the spent cartridges. My hands and shirt are covered in blood. I pocket the spent rounds.
I spend the next hour paralleling the road going east, always just ahead of the Orcs. The Orcs must be Uruk Hai, the Dark Lord's finest troops who can operate freely in daylight. I have no idea where my portal location is. All I know is that it is next to a small creek which the road fords. 5:00 PM seems like a long time from now. I wonder if the Orcs will just leave me alone. Realizing I have miles to go, I drop down into the road and set off at a brisk walk. I pause beside a culvert around 10:00 to wash my face and hands. I rinse off my shirt as well. Struggling, I manage to put the shirt back on re-shouldering my pack I take off east again. From past experience I set a pace of about 3.5 miles per hour. It is the best I can do without jogging and I don't have the energy to jog after this morning's adventure.
The miles pass beneath my feet. I hear no more from my pursuers. I eat my last sandwich as I walk, exhaustion sets in. At 2:35 PM I find the portal location. I spend a few minutes and wash up, trying to remove as much blood from myself and my clothes as possible. After about 10 minutes of hard scrubbing I have removed or at least diluted much of the blood. I put on the wet shirt and catch my breath, cold! I strap on my holster and shoulder my pack once again determined to quietly watch until the portal opens. I walk in the trickling creak south to a small opening in the trees. I find a good spot to sit and I quietly listen and wait. I am one pooped puppy.
The sun slowly creeps towards the west. Around 4:30 my heart stops. An Orc tethered to a Warg is searching for my trial. I watch quietly without moving. Perhaps my walking in the creek will prevent the Warg from finding me. The Orc and Warg enter the edge of the clearing. I can see the heads of more than half a dozen others through the trees further behind. Damned if one of them isn't wearing my hat. I attempt to be one with the trees. The wind shifts and the Warg howls straining at the leash. The Uruk Hai searches the woods, our eyes lock and he barks a command and frees the Warg. I grab for my pistol watching the Warg. It's stuck! "Don't look at the Warg get the gun." I force myself to look at the holster. "Don't look at the Warg, get the gun." I release the snap. "Don't look at the Warg, get the gun." I grab the grip and look up. "You looked at the Warg!" I wrench the pistol free feeling the front site snag on the holster and fire a shot and miss. I pull the trigger twice more in quick succession. One of the shots gets the monster. The Orcs are closing. I squeeze off three more shots, dropping one Orc and hitting another.
I don't wait to see the results as I take off, running south. The Orcs seem to be right behind me. I thumb the cylinder release as I run. I shake the empty brass out as I reach into my pocket for a speed loader. I can't load the gun by touch while running. I cut to the left, jump over the stream and turn to look. The Orcs are 30 feet behind me. I quickly load the pistol and snap the cylinder closed. I cock the trigger and drop the lead Orc, quickly as I can I sight and fire on the remaining Orcs. Three lie slumped on the ground and another is wounded in the leg, when I click on a spent round. The remaining five Orcs howl and splash across the creek. The lead Orc, wearing my hat, seems to falter as his foot is stuck momentarily in the mud.
I do a front snap kick into it's face, my hat flies upward. I feel his nose crunch through the sole of my boot. I grab my hat as it floats down and dash off. Don't these spawn of Sauron ever give up? My dash is brought up short by some down timber. I turn left again, my breath rasping in my throat. I am now jogging as I can't catch my breath. I am heading back towards the road. I eject the empties and reach for my other speed loader, it's not in my pocket! I try the other pocket and feel it's weight. Looking over my shoulder the Orcs are still following but they are fifty feet away. They have spread out and are trying to flank me. I load my gun and head towards the road.
I get to the road and check my watch. Still 18 minutes till the portal opens. I cross to the other side get behind a tree and wait. I brace myself against the tree. The first Orc enters into the road, his head virtually disintegrates. Another steps into the road I cock and gently squeeze the trigger. A hole appears in his hide armor as he backs into a tree. He looks at the hole confused as he slides down into a sitting position. Two other Orcs charge across the Road.
I scramble up the north bank and one Orcs stabs my leg with his spear before I reach the top. I move into the woods and look at my left calf. "Damn you!" Blood is seeping from my calf soaking my jeans. I consider bandaging my leg but the two Orcs have spotted me and are charging once again. I take aim, fire. I hit one in the hip and it spins, falling to the ground howling. The remaining Orc throws it's spear. It passes between my left arm and chest, the air is knocked out of me. I fire at the Orc as I try to breathe. I must have missed as he pulls his sword free and closes the distance. I can't breathe and I am beginning to see spots. I pull the trigger again and he drops. I slump to the ground and the world grays out.
My breathing returns and I look at my side. My shirt is torn but there is no blood. I think a couple of ribs are broken though as it really hurts to breath. I tear my shirt and stick it into the hole in my calf, my vision narrows. When my vision once again clears I wrap some more of my shirt around my calf to hold it in place. I struggle to my feet and check my watch, four minutes till 5:00 PM. I limp back down the hill and onto the road. I clutch my pistol as a drowning my grasps a life preserver. My vision narrows I take three steps to the portal location and close my eyes and take three slow breaths. As my head clears a little I open my eyes.
Before me stands a 6'1" tall bowman. I notice her bow is almost as tall as she is and she has it drawn and nocked. The late afternoon sun glints off the silver broadhead aimed at my heart. I shift my gaze to hers, smile and say "Mellon"? Her hair is the color of straw and her eyes are the color of jade. The tension in her arms relax and the point of the arrow is now focused on the ground. She smirks and begins to say something. I notice movement behind and off to her right. A Uruk Hai, his face smashed and disfigured is charging and is attempting to run the elf through with a spear.
Without thinking I cock my pistol with my thumb as I raise it. As I do, I can see the elf with smooth grace quickly draw her bow. I pull the trigger as I feel the shaft pierce my side. Simultaneously the Orc, and I fall to the ground as my watch begins to chime. The air shimmers and I soon find myself back in the Lab. I am on my knees looking at the yard long shaft penetrating my side.
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