The Shaman (Part 5)
The Shaman and Bodin Hailhoof must put aside their differences, and fight to the death in the Bombingham Arena. Can the Shaman ally himself with the Dwarves, hoping to fight in their territory and maybe get them to join the Grimhammer clan?
The Hammersfield Worgs
“May the best fighter win.” Said Bodin, giving a slight grunt before he finished the sentence. I nod, and turn my back on him. This will be the last time our eyes meet until the arena, which I set off to now. Jorrok, Shanks and some of my Orcish clansmen join me, yet some must stay to defend the Hammersfield Sewers. I am not overly confident with the upcoming battle, not to mention my journey to the arena. How will the Bombingham Dwarves react to me? They have already taken most of Scotland, and are spreading their influence around Northern Ireland! I must be prepared for anything, as this bunch isn’t such a jolly one unless they’re drinking with their own. Jorrok – before he joined my clan – was a mercenary and soldier, so his ties with the Dwarves may help. I am still uncertain how things will unfold. As the trapdoor of the Primark’s counter opens, I gasp, coughing up dust that found its way into my lungs. A gust of wind blasted through the empty shop, allowing the empowering freshness of air to help me think much clearly. The sewers weren’t so bad, but now I much prefer the open world. “Hurry brothers, we must move ahead. Only Thréda knows how many humans are lurking around here.” I hear the whispers of slain warriors, seeing glimpses of them around the ruins of this once mighty settlement. The last thing that stands is the war memorial, and the flags that surround it, flapping in the breeze. I feel the chipped stone fly in between my toes as we progress. “Of all the shops in this city, it surprises me that I choose to wear sandals rather than shoes.” It doesn’t hurt so much, but it is an annoyance.... for years I have walked, and for years my feet have suffered on the harsh terrain that we once accepted in modern day society. I give an instinctive grunt as my nostrils grab the scent of raiders. I stop and raise my fist, looking around.
“You sense them too, Shaman?” Asks Shanks, standing at my side. I am too busy to reply, but he knows anyway. Black figures dart past me on the main road, and I hear their feet on the rooftops, patting around. They leap from building to building, showing their acrobatic prowess. “These are the Worgs,” says the Forgemaster, who I look down to, “and they’re not feral either. Hopefully they didn’t see us leave the base....” I unsheathe the Grimhammer, and look turn around to see their pointy ears and furry snouts on the rooftops. Yes.... I see them....
“Ready your weapons, brothers. For some of you, this will be your first battle. Fear not – these pups will be running with their tails in between their legs once they Hammersfield might!” The soldiers remove their makeshift clubs and swords that Shanks has hastily forged. Should there be a beast that can get through his armour, I guarantee they won’t have the strength to deflect one of his swords’ blows. The Grimhammer hums with shamanistic power, forged with the finest fire Elemental’s flames, doused in Aqua Elemental blood. The repairs were made with the bracers and spaulders they are commonly found wearing. Yet the Elementals are rare on Earth, summoned by Shaman and often left to roam if untamed. Finding what the dropped during death was like a chest full of treasure; items more valuable than life itself.
Give me blood.... master.... begs the Grimhammer, and I nod in acknowledgement.
“They’re not coming down from the rooftops. Jorrok – you know what to do.” The one-eyed hunter nods, and chooses a special arrow from his quiver. The tip is replaced by a satchel of highly sensitive gunpowder, which – when it makes an impact – explodes on contact. He places it in his bow, taking aim at the feral Worg, and draws the bow-string back. His pet wolf licks its lips, hoping the explosion will send barbequed flesh into his huge mouth.
“Explosive shot, OUT!” He releases the string, which launches the explosive bolt straight towards the Worg. He leaps out of the way, but it’s a good thing he doesn’t speak Orcish, not knowing it was in fact a fast-flying grenade. Pfft-BOOOOM! The bomb destroys the roof of the old charity shop, bringing rubble down upon itself. The yelps of Worgs on the same roof are heard, and their mangled bodies join the slain store.
“STEEL AND THUNDER, BROTHERS! ROKK’SHELLAR!” I rally my troops as the Worgs leap out of hiding, spreading their arms like falling eagles. They jump straight into the tightly packed squad, managing to split us up and tear the rest of the Orcs to shreds. Jorrok manages to take a few out by jabbing them in the eyes and the nape of their necks with arrows, sometimes giving pot-shots, launching them metres away! The wolf, Tundra, has lived off Human meat and fish for far too long, and now it’s time for worg flesh! He bites into the attacking arms of foes, pulling them away from his Orcish allies. If Tundra were an Orc, he’d be given a position as General for his bravery in several battles. My allies are fast to fall, but the Grimhammer avenges the few who died. I hand the Grimhammer to Shanks, who manages to loudly crack the skulls of his foes while commentating. Now to put my Shamanism to use! My hands come together, and images of tidal waves fill my mind. C’mon, you can do this! And so I can! The water gushes and gurgles while in my hands, and I splash it on my allies, healing their wounds in an instant and revitalizing them!
“The Shaman! He healed me!” Said one young Orc, who then had another slash across his chest by a Worg. I again threw him another handful of water, and the wound instantly sealed.
“Shanks! Defend me! I am channelling a shower!” I called out, looking at the huge ball of water in my hands. The pack leader (who is taller than the rest and scarred in many places) turns to me, and growls violently. If he interrupts me, this entire battle could be lost. I take a deep breath, and blow onto the ball of water, throwing the magic in my hands into the air. As I hold my arm up, water falls from the skies, healing the wounds of everyone around me, and scolding those who oppose my allies. Even the pack master cannot stand the burning heat that I bring. He falls to his knees, wrapping his huge hands around my thighs. But my arm remains in the sky, despite seeing a creature that lost its mind to arcane addiction in agony. The suffering stacks.
“I am sorry, beast. Your misery will come to an end. Soon enough.” He still holds on, too weak to dig his claws into my flesh, now loosening his grip on my black robes. I use my other hand to request for the Grimhammer, and Shanks lifts it up. I take it, and raise it as high as my right hand. “Die well, Worg.” I slam the Grimhammer down on the humanoid wolf, giving him a brief moment to whine before his skull explodes inside his skin, like a grenade in a body bag. He lets go of my legs, as the chilling rain washes away his blood and bone fragments. The rain ceases, and I look to my fellow Orcs. Finally, I turn to Jorrok before I continue my journey.
Into Bombingham Ride
“....and so through evolution, we became the dominant species. Yet, with all these mutations, Humanity has practically fallen prey.” Shanks finished his tale to Jorrok.
“The Orcs will rule the Earth soon. That’s all there is to it.” The hunter spat on the ground, just missing Tundra and Shanks’ feet. The Forgemaster gave a face-palm and sighed.
“Why can’t we all just get along? I mean, how about the Grimhammer rules the world?” I listened to Shanks’ idea. Before Jorrok could speak, I butted in without looking at either of them.
“The Grimhammer clan owns Huddersfield, and will ally itself with whoever else wishes to join. I doubt we will rule the world, but England is good enough for me.” I give another grunt, and spit. The grunting is becoming an annoying habit, and is one of the earliest stages of Orc mutation. If you can get past that, you won’t look so mentally challenged. The Grimhammer clan is one of the most civilized Orc warbands in the world we live in, or so I believe. We do not kill those who do not fall in line, but we punish those who do not remember their place. We use currency to pay for Shanks’ works, handing in anything of use like glass for the furnaces, perhaps ore to make more weapons. We will hand in herbs so we can have our potions and food made, and the more work that is done, the more food you get. Laziness is not tolerated, as if there is a single Orc on his lazy green behind, he will do something for the clan - be that train himself, or gather supplies. On rare occasions do I kill fellow Orcs, but only those who cannot be disciplined or exiled. It is a hard job being a clan warboss, but I do what I must. As for the feral Orcs, they too have some intelligence. They kill only what they need to eat, but their combat tactics are lacking. They have not completely lost their minds, but they at least have the sense to know that two Orcs are stronger than one.... unless it’s a warboss versus two minors. Sadly, those who lost intellect didn’t last long against human ambushes, despite what they made up for in strength. Hunted like animals.... it makes my green heart beat with rage. I shake my head and grunt, hoping that I’m not devolving. Our conversation had passed the time very well, and we found ourselves closing in on the motorway - the home of gasoline and scrap. Yet no-one went there, as the visibility was high, and there was much fear of cars being rigged to explode by someone nearby.
“Watch your step, brothers. We may yet find ourselves neck-deep in raiders.” My voice was beginning to growl a lot more, and it was worrying. For Orcs it was natural, but only recently has it played harsh on my lungs. Maybe I am aging faster as an Orc than a Human? Three years as a mutant has changed a lot of me....
We have managed to escalate the steep road up, and look in front to see an assortment of coloured cars. Black, white, grey, maroon, green, silver, blue and the odd yellow one, each of different manufacturer. As we come closer to them, we each see gaping bullet holes in the bonnets and windscreens of these cars. Further on, we see live mines and dotted around, and some overturned cars which’ve been blown to smithereens.
“No.... no, this can’t be....” Shanks drops to his knees, now noticing the arms dangling out of the windows and the exploded limbs. He places his skeletal hands over his albino face, sobbing.
“What is it that bothers you, Shanks?” I ask, kneeling next to him and looking into what is left of his gooey eyes. He mutters, but I barely understand. “Jorrok, check the corpses. And watch for raiders.” The hunter nods, and Tundra follows him willingly, sniffing the air around him. The remaining Orc warriors keep their heads down in case of a sniper. Many who join me on this journey have been in ranger-infested areas, having to cross roads by ducking and diving, rolling out the way of bullets from anyone looking for a hunt. For a race that was once prey, it will still remain instinctive despite becoming a predator. Their awareness amazes me.
“Shaman! I think you’d better have a look at this.” Jorrok calls, and Tundra attempts to bark for attention. I mind the mines that litter the floor with ease, and investigate with the archer. I look into one of the car’s windows, a Hyundai of a sort, and find an undead slouching, covered in blood and bullet holes. The hunter holds a grimy bullet and inspects it, placing it in my hands.
“The humans did this. And these people are no humans. My guess is that they came from the nearby Necropolis.” My eyes shot open, and I dropped the misshapen remains of the bullet onto the floor. The necropolises were the homes of the undead - a safe haven for those who were changed by their magic, but they didn’t accept Orcs, Taurus, Dwarves, Goblins, Trolls or Worgs. Necropolises tend to be for the undead who cannot move away from their city, and instead stay to defend what’s left of it. These places were often found by green gasses floating in the air, possibly purple, as the undead are excellent potion-makers, alchemists and scientists. What they send into the air is chemical waste that we can barely stand, yet the undead love it. As a Shaman, I should be wiping these places out to stop pollution. But as a mutant, I am supposed to be protecting them against the struggling human race. I return to Shanks, who has dried his tears away and popped his right eye back in.
“They were undead. I recognize their limbs.... no explosion could do that kind of damage to them.” His bony fists clench, making scratching noises as his nails grind his palms. “There was a street racing gang known as the ‘Zoombies’, and they dominated Huddersfield long before you got here, Shaman. Now they are probably extinct due to humans!” He looks up to me with a trembling lower lip, and fluids leaking from his tightly-clenched mouth. “Blood for blood, warboss! I want them dead!” He storms across the roads, pushing Jorrok out the way and nearly making him stumble on a landmine. We continue our journey, meeting up with Shanks later on, who seems to have calmed down.
Three days later....
The local shops had some supplies left, but what had been taken was probably by surviving humans and the Bombingham Dwarves. Yes, we are here at long last. Our great journey has come to an end, and a few minutes I had seen the Taurus party heading towards the arena too - the great stadium of Wolverhampton. I raise my lime fist into the air, my ears prodding the air.
“A truck! Warriors, take cover!” The sound of moving vehicles haven’t been heard in a while, but it is a step towards rebuilding our lives. I step in the road where the huge brown truck hurtles down, but it comes to a halt. The door swings open, and a loud stomp crashes down onto the concrete. The small man reveals himself, combing his huge brown beard with his left pudgy hand.
“What in Tinbeard’s testes do ye think ye doin’? This truck o’ supplies has to get to King Balgor Bronzestein NOW!” Hollers the Dwarf standing in front of me, prodding my left leg. His accent is amusing, but I don’t crack a smile to the Scot.
"I’m here to hitch a ride to the Wolverhampton stadium. I am here to challenge Bodin Hailhoof in a duel for leadership.” I explain formally, now kneeling to the little man to show my respect. He gives a long sigh and rolls his tiny eyes, hailing me into the truck with him. My brothers, Shanks and Jorrok climb into the back, and I take the front.
“So, where’re ye from? Not Bombingham, that’s for sure!” Asks the Dwarf, slamming down on the pedals that have been raised to his height. I’m surprised he didn’t kill me for interrupting his delivery, but perhaps the Dwarves will accept me.... or tolerate me to say the least.
“Hammersfield. Before the war between humans and mutants, I had family here.” I say, still trying to comprehend how magic affected this man to become a muscular, brutish three-foot warrior. He spits out the window, and reaches into a bag of chewing tobacco, sitting in the open glove compartment.
“Aye, I’ve heard o’ that place. Stayed clear of it though, as we Dwarves tend not to mix in Orcish affairs.”
“You needn’t worry, Dwarf. I am not here to harm you, but perhaps ally my clan with yours.” My mouth becomes wet like the Dwarf’s sitting next to me, constantly thinking about that chewing tobacco. Disgusting habit, and it leaves a mess afterwards. The ride towards the stadium is quiet, but the Dwarf breaks the silence as we get out the truck to see the stadium.
“While ye here, help me with these crates o’ ale. Blastbrew wants to make sure this can last us the week.” I take the crates out the back, two huge ones in each arm. The others can handle around a single stack of three. It is heavy and hard work, but we are used to it, and we’d do much more to earn the favour of these small men. As we go through the entrance, I see Bodin approach a few metres away, and he nods with a frown, as do I. Seeing his face now makes me wish I was killed by the humans, instead of being captured.
Fighting in the eyes of King Baldor Bronzestein
As the Dwarf delivery man speaks to his king, I see to my weapons with Shanks.
“Just remember that the elements cannot always aid you, Shaman. This has to be a fair fight, and simply sending in a flame elemental won’t earn the favour of the Taurus. Bodin must die with honour.” He reminds me. I nod, understanding. The Grimhammer weighs heavily in my left hand, but I know with weight comes reliability. My right hand tingles with elemental fury, burning to be used. Its time will come.
"Fight well, Shaman.” Says Jorrok, patting me on the back and slightly pushing me towards the arena gate. An entire football stadium to fight on, but with hidden traps such as spikes, pitfalls with spikes and spikes on spikes. The stadium is unfriendly, but those who die, die fighting.
“YE BE WATCHIN’ ANOTHER FIGHT O’ BLURD ‘N’ GORE IN, DE WOLVERHAMPTON ARENA!” The stadium was filled with roaring of spectating Dwarves. They aren’t here to see if the Grimhammer clan is to be shattered or relieved - they’re here for entertainment, and I hope they get what they come for. The voice was familiar - that of a Troll, that was certain, but whom? Could it really be Jekiil, a knight I once travelled with to build Hammersfield? No.... impossible....
“TODAY, WE HAVE DE WARBOSS O’ DE GRIMHAMMER CLAN - DE WILD WAVE O’ WATER, DE HAMMER THAT SHOWS NO GLAMOUR.... IT BE DE SHAMAN!” Roars of hundreds fill the skies, scaring the local Bombingham birds off. Poor creatures, but again, if they return they may get a good show. “AND WHO IS DE SHAMAN FIGHTIN’? NONE OTHER THAN HIS FINEST GENERAL LOOKIN’ FOR DE CROWN! THE HORN WHO MAKES THE UNBORN! THE HOOF THAT BREAKS YE ‘TIL YE LAST TOOTH! IT BE BODIN.... HAIL! HOOF! WHICH ONE IS BETTER? DERE BE ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUT! FIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!”
The gates open. The games have begun.
Get your tickets for the bloodsport here!
- The Shaman (Part 6)
The Shaman and Bodin Hailhoof duel to the death in one of the most built-up chapters of John Roberts' modern-fantasy miniseries, The Shaman!