The Orks continue to confound me. As soon as I begin to think that they are the dumbest and most vile brutes imaginable, they turn around and show a level of cunning that I never thought possible. I was given an opportunity to witness this firsthand shortly after arriving in a new realm called “The Rings Game”.
One hidden, one in plain sight, one guarded, one entrapped, one in mens’ hands, one on the move, and one lost.
These were the only clues that were given to us shortly after being summoned to this realm. From what I had heard through ancient texts, they were powerful magical artifacts thought to exist only in legend and lore. Now I know that legends do exist, and I would give anything to study even one of the rings. However, I knew that I could not obtain a ring on my own. If the entire Waaagh! was there, most likely the rest of the armies of Darkon were in this realm as well. It would be a fools errand to strike off on my own.
Lucky for me, I had the Orks as backup.
“Oi! You gitz, we’z goin’ dis way!” called the Warboss to his horde. We all began to make our way down a wooded path.
“Gimzod, Needle, youz go an’ scout ahead.”
“Yea Boss!” rasped the larger of the two, Gimzod. I could understand why he would send these two in particular ahead of the rest of us. They seemed to have an uncanny knack for getting themselves into trouble, and then in the same action avoiding it. The rest of the Orks call these two “Kommandos”… a curious phrase. At any rate, I’ll be damned if I ever figure out why I decided to follow them right at that moment.
“Boss, I’ll go with them,” I said and then added under my breath, “Someone has to make sure they don’t get themselves killed.”
Because even an Ork’s luck can run out, can’t it? I pondered.
The Warboss gave me an incredulous look, then chuckled and waved me off. The other Orks chuckled as well. I took off down the path after them, cursing my lack of proper exercise. Say what you will about their battle methods (of which I and scores of others have extensive observations on), but one can not deny that those boys can run. I skidded to a stop next to them as they were observing a peculiar, yet grim sight in the distance.
Gimzod chuckled, “Sumfin’s up ahead. ‘S go see wot we’ze got, boyz.” He pouched his spyglass and we advanced forward. We were greeted by a grim sight. The skeleton of an adventurer trapped by a net that bound his remains tightly to one of the trees on the side of the path. Next to him, a sign emblazoned in red with the word “CHEATER” rested. Perhaps a warning to others that were forced into this sick game of the gods? Gimzod put up his hand to halt our advance and started to search for traps, carefully and with a deliberation that I had yet to see in any Ork.
I, on the other hand, felt a different kind of intuition start to grab my attention. Through the woods, I could feel a familiar tingle through my senses. I closed my eyes and opened my mind to the magic that flowed through this strange dimension. The way the magical energies flowed in The Rings Dimension was very different from the magic of Darkon, and I had yet to grow accustomed to it. Despite the unfamiliarity, I managed to pick out the source of the disturbance.
“Gimzod, through the trees. There is some sort of magic, but it is mostly residual.”
He looked up from his search for traps, and most likely gold, around the corpse. No… he was… prying out the poor sod’s teeth.
“Ah, ‘dats a good find ‘dat is! Da git had almost a full head of da zoggin’ fings.” he exclaimed gleefully as he stood back up.
I buried my face in the palm of my hand.
If you say so, I thought to myself.
He deposited his “good find” in his pouch and looked to the trees.
“Where did youz say youz felt somefin’ ‘dere ‘umie?”
I pointed out into the surrounding woods, and he gave his orders. “Alright ‘den, take to da trees boyz!”
The three of us took off as fast as the brush would allow. It was then that I noticed yet one more oddity of this realm. The season seemed strange; the air was warm, yet there was barely a leaf on the trees. I did not see it fit to complain as the lack of any substantial brush allowed us to travel through the wood faster, but normally with weather this warm one would think that the trees would start to bloom again. The Grand Creator has a sick and strange sense of humor.
I pushed my errant thoughts aside as I focused on scanning the woods, letting the connection I established to the magical realm guide me to the disturbance I felt. And then I was drawn to something tied to one of the trees.
“Hey… Hey, I found something!” I called out to the others.
“Oi, yeah? ‘S GO!” I heard Needle shout in reply.
I heard the two Kommandos break through the brush behind me. I didn’t let their sudden burst from the brush break my focus, as I meditated and focused on the box. It was definitely the source of the disturbance.
“This seems to be it. I don’t sense any strong or strange magic. It should be safe unless… you find… something else….” My voice trailed off as I saw what I thought was movement in the trees ahead of us. Gimzod did not seem to notice, as he slowly made his way to the box, searching for traps. My eyes were trained on the figure in the distance. She seemed to be armed. A bow with an arrow nocked, and a sword at her side. I drew Angelo from his sheath, and I brought my guard up.
“Gimzod… we gotz company.” Needle said, his eyes also trained on the woman in the distance. She just stood there. Watching.
“What do you have there Gimzod?” I asked.
“Dunno. Itz locked, wuteva it is. I gotz ‘dis,” he replied.
I had to suppress a snort. Orks were clever at fighting, but I doubted he would get that box open. If worse came to worse, I could always step in and open it.
“Keep an oye on ‘im boyz,” he ordered.
To his credit, he seemed intensely focused on the box. His method actually… dare I write these words? His methods were quite clever for a creature I thought only was focused on fighting and drinking. It was a simple pin lock design, but the wood of the pins were reinforced by advanced magic, rendering it completely indestructible. One would think that an Ork would have tried to smash it, but he instead focused intently on picking the lock before him.
However, I was not as concerned with the lock box as I was with my own survival.
“Friend or foe?” I called out to the figure. She stood there, unmoving. She continued to watch us, silently.
Definitely not friendly. I mused.
She continued to advance on our party, and I called out to her again.
“Friend. Or. Foe?!”
“Oi, Gimzod, we’ze bettah move,” Needle whispered.
“Oi’ze got ‘dis, sod off!” he replied, focused intently on the task of unlocking the box.
Needle was having none of that, “We’ze gotta go, Gimzod!”
“ZOG IT, I GOT ‘DIS!” he spat.
As I saw the figure continue to advance, I decided that I was not going to let an arguing pair of Orks get me killed. I did not know what we were up against, so I did the only thing I felt I could do.
“Forget this, I’m running.”
No sooner had I began to run back into the woods than I heard a soft click from behind me.
No… there was no possible way…
I saw Gimzod open the box and take out the piece of paper that was kept inside.
“You… how… you ope-”
“LEG IT!” he yelled.
He didn’t have to tell me twice.
As I ran with the others back to the path, I couldn’t help but think about what led us to this moment. Was it his skill that allowed him to open the box, or was he simply lucky? In the end I decided that it truly didn’t matter, though I could not help but feel slightly proud of him for breaking the mold of his kind. Perhaps there is more to these creatures than what is seen at first glance? Perhaps… there is more that needs to be studied than just magic rings.
No matter. I knew what the paper was likely to contain. I still felt the magical pulse coming from it. On the box, I remember that I saw inscribed the symbol of a god of another realm. The god of tricks and traps, and one who I read about in legends and lore.
The god they called Loki.