Chapter 11 - Seeing Red
The weeks had past and luckily not an orc had arrived.
I had spent most of my time training the elves in martial arts and getting myself trained in archery by their best archer. During this time I had also been along the narrows as if there was to be a battle then this was the best place to stop an enemy. There was a place on the narrows where the path was only 500 feet wide and on either side of the paths the cliff rose a good hundred feet of sheer smooth granite-like stone.
Climbing up these stone walls from the path was an impossible task. Getting up to the top of these cliffs from Tail's End was difficult but far from impossible especially on the eastern side. The western side was more difficult and in one place dangerous if you had a fear of heights and unsteady feet because there was a one and a half feet wide and fifty feet long ridge leading from Tail's End across to the western cliff. If one crossing this ridge fell to the west you'd end up as fish bait and on the other side of the ridge you'd fall a hundred feet onto jagged rocks. The path across the ridge was very rough and ragged.
The first time I crossed it, it took me ten minutes to gather my courage and that was after I tied a rope around my waist and had my three friends who I now called the Z's (Zen, Zak and Zeek) anchor the other end. I nearly fell twice crossing and the idea of going back scared the hell out of me.
Still I was on the western wall and it actually offered a better vantage point to wage a battle and at least a fifty foot path that was easily to get around on. From up here I had a good view of the Narrows road which led from Tail's End across the isthmus to Oannesia. Of course, a lot of the road was obscured by trees but there were places where you could see the road which in places was quite wide. Looking down at the Narrows' path below I came up with some other ideas that would help in our defense of Tail's End.
Putting lookouts up here would give us a decent warning of an approaching invasion. Getting lookouts up here not to mention fifty archers was the main problem to be solved.
I decided to return to the village to figure out the problem but that didn't happen. Instead when it came to crossing back along the ridge I totally balked. Here I was stuck on the west wall with my friends on the other side of the ridge. To make things worse sunset was at most an hour away. I was going to be spending the night here instead of cuddled up warmly with Zeek. I didn't even have my mp4 player!
Zeek said he'd sleep out on the other side to sort of keep me company at least we could talk to each other. Even though I had never seen a goblin here I thought it best he sleep in his bed tonight and told him that. He finally agreed and they left for the village and I returned to a safer part of the wall.
It was an hour after the sunset when I heard someone calling my name. I went to the ridge and saw the archer, Yan and his wife Yanna. She was holding a basket.
"Hey, Yan, Yanna, why are you here?" I asked.
"Gladimhere, Zeek told us of your predicament and knowing that you probably had not eaten, Yanna made you a food basket," replied Yan, "Now hold still and keep talking. I shall shoot an arrow close to you. I've tied a string to it."
I kept talking until I heard the arrow fly past me. It could not have been more and six inches away from my face when it passed. I bent down and found the string. "I've got the string, now what?"
"The string is tied to a rope. Pull on the rope low and I will side the basket down the rope to you," said Yan.
A minute later I had the basket of food. We said out good-byes, they left and I return to where I was planning on sleeping.
Thanks to Yan and Yanna while I was eating I suddenly figured out how I was going to return to the other side of the ridge and how I would make it easier for the elfin archers to get on the west wall. In the morning I would tie the rope securely as high as I could and slide across like the basket and then we'd build a suspension bridge out of ropes and wooden planks.
It only took two days for us to build the bridge and get it in place. While we were doing this it was Zeek who came up with an idea of dropping heavy logs from up here onto any unfortunate orcs below. One of the elves worked out and ingenious bit of engineering using ropes and pulleys. We managed to suspend six heavy logs (probably about 200 pounds) when released they would freefall to the within a foot of the ground and then each log could be raised by one elf pulling it up. So, five elves were chosen to be the orc bashers (my idea for the name).
Another group of elves from the village constructed a high thick wooden wall across the path made up of four rows of thick and straight trees. In the center was a fifteen foot `door'. This door was three rows of tall trees each made pointed at each end. It could be raise up by one elf pulling on a rope to open it.
I setup a sentry system where two elves were on the west wall watching the path/road. Near sunset trip wires were set so that anyone coming along the path would create a racket and thus alert the sentries.
It had been over a month and no orcs. What I needed was a reconnaissance. An aerial reconnaissance would be the best which brought to mind on the training front. Arvin was doing well. I think he could actually fly now, but simply lack the confidence. He needed a push. If he didn't manage it in a couple of days I would force the issue.
I was surprised that Zeek and Zac were getting really buff and so was I. They were definitely a couple of hotties. The elfin girls were really noticing Zac. They had eyes for Zeek too, that worried me a bit because he seemed to enjoy the attention
Zen, Arvin and I seemed to spend more time together.
I had learned chess when I was seven. I had a natural talent for the game. In fact I am good at most strategy games. I learn them very quickly and in a short time seem to master the game.
I decided to teach Arvin how to play chess. Of course we didn't have chess pieces so we used stones of different colors. One red stone and one black stone represented the kings, a white and a dark grey stone the queens and so on. The surprising thing to me was Zen who watched us play after the second week was advising Arvin on the plays and I was losing two out of three games.
"You know this isn't fair! It's two against one," I complained having just lost four games in a row.
Arvin laughed and said, "No it's actually one-on-one, I'm just doing what Zen tells me to do."
I knew that but I still felt pissed. "Whatever!" I said and left for the point. I hate losing. I knew I was beaten by a twelve year old elfin boy. I smiled though because I remembered beating Gene the sixteen year old boy who taught me to play chess. He wasn't really bored playing chess with me (I always won) -- he was probably feeling how I feel now except worse because I was only seven.
"Pay back is such a bitch!" I thought to myself as I watched the sunset.
It never ceases to amaze me how mentally mature this Zen is. He was faster than any of the others and seemed to have grown several inches. He was definitely becoming a hottie too but tended to ignore the elfin girls gave him. Of course he enjoyed the attention from anyone anyone else.
I guess what was really bothering me was the fact that Zeek was beginning to respond to the elfin girls. I think I was losing him as we seemed to spend less and less time together.
I return to the Z's house for dinner. When I arrived at the dinner table only Zen, Zahra and Zayne were at dinner. "Where's Zeek and Zac?" I asked.
"Oh, they're over at a friend's house," replied Zahra.
I'm sure my disappointment showed. Zen stared at his food. He looked really sad.
"Zahra, I'm really not hungry. I think I need to sleep."
"I understand," she said.
Zen looked even sadder. He had still not taken a bite of food.
"Zen," I said softly. He looked up at me, "I'm sorry. It's just a silly game and I should have gotten so angry. I'm really sorry. I just have a lot on my mind." I forced a small smile.
"You don't hate me?"
He smiled. I returned the smile then turned and went to bed.
I had just finished breakfast when a runner from the sentries came up to me out of breath he barely got out, "There's a dragon coming through the narrows! Big!" I knew Arvin had gone off to the training grounds with Zen. The two often spent most of the day training. Zen was relentless at pushing `his' dragon. Additionally he'd push himself in fight training against his brothers or and any other elf who happened to be around. He was lightening fast.
I sent the runner after Zen and Arvin and I took off like the wind to the west wall. When I got there sure enough I could see a large red dragon coming along the road. At the rate he was moving he'd be here in an hour. I couldn't wait -- something told me I had to meet him. I didn't wait. I ran down to the gate and along the path.
In my excitement I'd forgotten my dirk and whip. I doubted that they be of much use against that dragon. I knew I was fast so I could run back if he proved to be dangerous.
I had never been this far along the path which was now becoming a road. As I rounded the curve I suddenly came to a halt. There before me was the largest dragon I'd ever seen. He seemed easily twice the size of Arvin.
He saw me and came to a stop too. We both stared at each other silently.
He was magnificent! He was a beautiful color of red with shades of black along his back and tail. His muscles quivered here and there. He had the most amazing sapphire blue eyes. He was unlike anything I'd ever seen.
"Dude, you are so totally awesome," I said softly more to myself than to him.
After a couple of moments he spoke in a rich deep male voice, "You're not at all like the elfins of the north. They are very beautiful creatures. You are different. More...well, just more! Are there other elfins like you in Tail's End? Have you seen my nephew? I heard he was friends with your kind."
"There are some very beautiful elfins here but I am not an elfin. I am Gladimhere, the human...the only human here. If your nephew is called Arvin then he is here too. He's my best friend."
"I knew it! You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen! I can feel your magic now! I knew my brother was an idiot! The damn fool kicked my nephew out. My nephew may be a bit different from others but this! The best friend to a magical human! Ha-ha!"
I turned around because I could hear the lumbering foot steps of Arvin approaching. He was running fast!
"Arvin, Slow down we're just around the bend," I shouted and just in time.
"YOU KEEP AWAY FROM HIM RED!" he roared as he moved between me and the other dragon his tail just barely missed me.
"Arvin, it's all right. We were talking."
His uncle chuckled with his deep voice, "Nephew, I came to find you and possibly join with you and the elves and now with your human! Little dragon do calm down I mean none of you any harm."
"I am not little!" Arvin exclaimed. Indeed he wasn't. Up close like this he was nearly three-quarters the larger dragon's size.
"Ha-ha, you're right you've grown a lot since I last saw you. And you know I have always loved you. When I heard what that idiot brother of mine did to you I came looking for you."
"And Gladimhere is not my human. He's my best friend who happens to be human. Friends are not something you own."
"Of course he's your friend and I hope that he will someday be my friend too. Friendships are built on mutual trust and I think love and the willingness to accept that friend as-is," said the older dragon.
"I have a question," I spoke up, "Why haven't the orcs attacked the village?"
"Ah, it's that they are indeed confused. When the orcs from this area returned the first story that they told was that goblins attacked them along with the elves. Then they told of a giant dragon who led the elves but there is no record of a giant dragon in this area only a small teenage dragon. Then they said that he'd grown huge. Of course everyone knew that wasn't true and finally they said that it wasn't the elves but the teenage dragon and a human, a very magical human."
"They kept changing their story. But now they keep saying that it was a human and a dragon and they haven't changed the story. I was allowed to come here because I volunteered and because I could verify if the dragon was my nephew and if indeed there is a human. They expect me to return back with the information. Dragons, elves, dwarves and many other creatures have lived under the oppressiveness of the orcs far too long. You my nephew know that has always been my personal opinion," said the older dragon.
"So, what is your intention?" I asked.
"To stay and fight! If I go back and say no there is no human and deny the orcs story they will still kill all the elves here. If I don't return they will assume that I was killed by the magical human and still send their troops here. Besides, I think I can offer you a lot, but here is not the place to discuss my ideas."
"So, do I call you Red?" I asked."Yes," Red replied and we started on our way back to Tail's End.