Sorry it’s been a while since I did one of these, the last few months have been, well, a mess as you can all probably imagine. Writing has been a bit of struggle, but I’m doing my best to get done what I can, and have been focusing on commissions for the last while to keep my head above water. I thought I would try something new with this interactive, and maybe a few after it, so we’ll see how it goes. Welcome to the land of Horalon–a fantastical realm full of magical creatures of all sorts, where fantastic machines, strange spells, and disturbing urges collide on a regular basis. For the next couple of interactives, I think it might be fun to toy around with a fantasy setting, since I don’t write in that sort of genre very often. These are going to be more narrative adventures than anything else–and depending on time and energy I might flesh some out into small twine interactives. Anyway, without further ado, I present Tales of Horalon #1 – An Orcish Reconnaissance.
Avoy cursed as he slid back on the rocks a bit, and listened in the darkness for any sign that someone had heard him. If ever there was a time to have invested in some climbing gear, it would have been now, but why had the whores back in Hilveride had to be so beautiful and so expensive at the same time? He checked his footing, and kept climbing–not too much farther now, and he thought he had enough grip strength to get to the top of the ridge, which ought to give him a good vantage on the orc camp below.
Avoy had been hired by a monastery in the foothills of these mountains, which had always had an uneasy relationship with the orcish tribes that lived higher up. Generally, the two groups managed an uneasy peace, but depending on chieftains, and depending on which monastery guards had the ear of the head monk, various disputes flared up from time to time. It appeared that a new something was brewing in the region–there had been a succession dispute among the orcs, resulting in rather new blood taking leadership, with a need to prove strength. Lately, some knights on patrol had failed to return to the monastery, and a few days prior, right before Avoy arrived to accept the task, a monk had been swiped by a roving patrol of scouting orcs–as close to a declaration of war as there was likely to be. Yet kidnappings were new–usually, the orcs would slaughter knights and monks found on their patrols and leave their corpses where they would be found later, as warnings–the change in tactics had the whole monastery on edge. So the head monk had sent Avoy to do some reconnaissance–figure out what the orcs were planning, so the monks and their knights could be ready when the time came to battle.
He hauled himself up onto the ridge, found a mostly sturdy position, pulled out a spyglass and began getting his bearings of the camp below. A basic count put the number of orcs around 500–the monastery had a reserve of nearly a thousand knights–but even in small numbers, orcs were ferocious opponents. They seemed better organized than most orcish camps he had laid eyes on before–guards posted and mostly doing the work of guarding, instead of napping or eating or fucking, as was more common. This looked to be a temporary camp of some sort, because as far as he could see, there were no women–odd really, because orcs generally didn’t discriminate when it came to battle. As he was observing, a horn blew, and the orcs not on patrol or on guard duty headed towards the center of the compound–a large open arena-like space that Avoy had a decent enough sight line on–though he couldn’t hear anything over the wind.
But what he witnessed was enough to chill him to the bone. Drums pounded first, as was common during these sorts of ceremonies–loud enough that Avoy could hear them quite well. The warriors danced and wrestled as the drums grew louder and faster. Then the drums ceased a moment, and two warriors hauled the kidnapped monk forward into the center of the ring, while the orcs hollered and screeched around him–apparently, he had been taken as a sacrifice. A shaman stepped down from a raised dais, where the chieftain was also seated, and the warriors held the monk down on a slab of rock in the middle of the space. The shaman pulled forth a knife–even from high above, Avoy could see that the blade was glowing a steady green, not dissimilar from the skin of the orcs around it–and the shaman began to carve.
Silence, aside from the monk’s screams of pain then. The orcs were silent and still while the shaman cut long, shallow wounds all over the front of the monks body. The lines were jagged and sharp, running the length of the monk’s body, the slab soaked with blood–though not as much as he might have expected. Avoy anticipated the killing blow at any time, but much to his surprise, the shaman ceased his work, the orcs cheered and rioted around him, returning to their fighting (and even a few instances of fucking, that Avoy looked away from quickly) while the guards dragged the unconscious, but allegedly alive, monk away in the direction they had come, leaving Avoy to contemplate what he’d just witnessed.
He’d certainly never seen a ritual like it before. He’d also never seen anything like that dagger wielded by the shaman. He put his spyglass away, and pondered his next move. Night would fall soon–he’d learned some, but everything he’d seen raised more questions than answers. He would have to go down, into the camp, and see what he could find out there. But what should he target? Rescuing the monk would certainly be a victory, though very risky, especially as wounded as he was now. He could investigate the shaman’s quarters, and see if he could get his hands on that knife. There was something special about it–but he wouldn’t know what until the monks at the monastery could examine it. Lastly, he could try spying on the chieftain. Orcs weren’t known to keep great written records of their plans, but Avoy knew enough of the tongue that he could catch the important bits, if he overheard them. That might be enough to give the monks an advantage.
So, what does our rogue decide to do?
Here’s the poll! Patrons have their own bonus poll as well, like usual. However! There’s a new twist to this–since I’m thinking about fleshing these out anyway, I’m going to be posting exclusive, alternate entries over on my Patreon, depending on what they want to see most–so if you’re a patron, you’ll get other branches that you won’t find here. These alternate chunks will be available to anyone supporting me with at least $1. You can find the bonus poll over here. The public poll is below: