“Just one?!” Erlking asked, the disbelief clear in his voice.
The younger bramble fey was not used to surprising the general, so he hesitated before answering. “The orc cries out for more.”
Erlking stood from his small wooden seat. He swung his hand in a circle above his head, signaling to his three most seasoned warriors. “And the reports coming in say seven?”
The bramble general nodded. Erlking gave a shrill cry and punctuated it with four deliberate notes at the end. In a matter of moments four blue jays landed in the midst of the fairy camp. The general and his three soldiers mounted the beautiful birds, and in a quick flurry they took flight to find the orc.
It did not take long for the brambles to find the orc. The brute was screaming for more elven blood. Erlking quickly scanned the area and realized that another elf had fallen since his last report. Eight dead bodies, decapitated, lay strewn in random intervals throughout the forest leading into Alhaven. The bramble offered up his sympathies for their families. His introspection was short lived.
It seemed the orc had a falcon companion, and the bird of prey quickly scattered the jays. The brambles tumbled from the frightened birds and all but one escaped the falcon. With the bird distracted by his newly caught meal, the brambles sprinted toward the orc.
The orc massive even for a race known for its large size. He was covered in blood, and seemed to be in some sort of frenzy. He chopped trees as he made his way deeper into the forest. Erlking’s forest.
Erlking silently commanded two of his warriors to make their way to a tree along the orc’s route. He sent the last to deliver a message. Erlking positioned himself under his men. When the orc got close enough, Erlking charged the brute. The orc noticed the six inch figure charging him, and he raised his boot to end the brave run. The orc was a fool. Erlking curled himself into a tight ball with his many thorny spines ready to pierce the simple leather boots. Just as expected, the foot drove down on the bramble. The orc’s foot exploded in pain as the toxin took immediate effect. Erlking was dazed by the stomp, but a quick shake and he had his composure regained.
His two companions dropped down on the distracted orc’s shoulders. They threw themselves into the soft flesh behind the orc’s ear, where his jaw connected. The orc swatted one side, and knocked one of the brambles to the ground. He grabbed at the other fairy, and squeezed. It was a mistake. His hand went numb with pain. Then he was on his knees, dizzy and confused. The orc called for his falcon.
The falcon started to dive in and snatch Erlking, but a large vulture carrying the last bramble intercepted the bird. It looked to the orc as if his falcon had simply exploded into a flurry of feathers. His confusion continued as he fell forward onto the forest floor. This put him face to face with the diminutive bramble that had ended his murdering march. Even as he took his last breath, the orc could not believe that this tiny fairy had bested him in battle.
Erlking wished that the death of the orc could somehow bring back the dead elves, but had to take solace in the fact that no more would die by the brute’s axe. It was indeed a victory, but there was no joy in it. The orcs and trolls had been encroaching on the forest of Alhaven more often these days, and Erlking did not like the signs.
The vulture landed and allowed the remaining brambles to join their companion. They headed back to the camp, their job was done…for now. None of the brambles noticed as the orc slowly raised his head and watched them fly off into the distance.