|Upper left 1st: Ze'bog, 2nd: Chugal - The Orc Hairstyles :p|
Dar’gum knows it too. He breaks away from his fight, quickly climbs to the back of Barudan and joins his two sons, Ze’bog and Chugal.
‘This is the moment that we’re waiting for,’ says Dar’gum to his sons and Barudan. ‘Try not to hurt our brethren. We only need to break through and break the Orc Commander.’
‘Understood,’ Chugal replies.
‘I hope the Commander is the Khan,’ Ze’bog adds.
‘Bhgrrrr!!!’ Barudan roars in support.
Dar’gum nods, ‘Very likely, since they already know we’re here. I bet Hagnorj himself is targeting us as well, which makes him easy to find.’
Just then, a big group of orcs charges through the combatants and comes face-to-face with Dar’gum’s group.
And then, the grunts give way to an orc bigger than the rest (even Dar’gum), with grizzled orange hair and abnormally big tusks to match. A big scar that runs down his left chest makes his green-skinned figure looks more frightening. Plus, one of his ears is missing. Take a look at him back in the previous battles and you’ll know that those scars and handicaps were there just recently. The Sword of Thorns, his trusty weapon, rests on his thorn-decorated shoulder pads.
Nevertheless, the orc maintains his air of authority when he greets grimly, ‘I have expected this moment, to see you here and settle our business... Dar’gum, you traitor.’
‘Well, you know I’m just trying to make us a more civilized race,’ says Dar’gum, sliding down the back of his ‘ride’. ‘We know you and the rest of our kind won’t approve this so we made a pact that you leave the Iron Mountain Tribe alone with our ways of life and we leave you with yours, as long as we are in peace. However, you violated that treaty by putting my tribe as vanguards in every battle and war, expecting us to die out and be extinct.
And the worst of all is when you abandoned my tribesmen in the Battle of Windy Hills. Luckily we found Barudan there and gained his friendship, so when the champions attacked, we were ready. Alas, I was lost in the duel with Alexis and he spared my life, even offering us the Ruins of Celc as our new territory on refuge.
We came back to Gremion and picked up the rest of our tribe, but in the exodus, you and that blasted she-devil attacked us. Almost all of our warriors died, and we hid in the mountain cave with Barudan and the three of us standing as stout defenders. You should’ve annihilated us all easily, but you all retreated in the and. One question still rings in my mind... why?’
Hagnorj replies, ‘Because I still regarded you as my son-in-law, Dar’gum. You and your tribe have violated our way of life, a disgrace to our race, but I spared you. You even deserted us by going to Celc, and yet, I spared you again.
Now that I see you here helping the Light Side, I realize that sparing your life was a big mistake. Oh, yes, you want to return to Gremion, topple me and be the new Khan so you can impose your so-called ‘culture’ on ALL our brethren!
Big mistake, Dar’gum. HUGE mistake. Because there’s no way in hell I shall abdicate for you or spare you again this time! Today, you will die and I shall drink your blood to celebrate!’
All that must be said has been said. Now the two orcs have made themselves clear and spared no room for negotiation, it’s time for their weapons to do the talking.
Dar’gum pumps his aura, making a stance with the great axe Il Khatl J’nadh in hand, saying, ‘Hagnorj.’
The Orc Khan also does the same. He points his Sword of Thorns at his opponent, saying, ‘Dar’gum.’
The other orcs and Dar’gum’s sons just make a space, like in Adler versus Nöac’s duel nearby. The dueling orcs wait for a right timing, and DASSHHH!! The two dash at the same time!
First hit! The impact between the two weapons pushes both back, and both use the power of the push to launch another blow. Soon, deafening CLANK! CLANK! sounds from the impacts of two brutal powers reverberate throughout the area.
Recovering from his previous duel, Dar’gum is the first to get ‘warm’ and releases his first move, Megaton Impact. The frontal blow with strength matching a hundred bulls is met with the same move from the opponent.
Again, it seems the winner will be decided on who’s the stronger between them, not whose technique is more superior. And from the similarity of their moves, one may assume that Hagnorj is not only Dar’gum’s father-in-law, but is also his teacher.
Blow-by-blow they exchange, and still, neither can hurt the other.
Amidst the fight, Hagnorj utters, ‘Hmm... We haven’t had a fight for a long time, and you’re improving a great deal, my student.’
Dar’gum swings his axe, saying, ‘You’re still the best, master, but for the sake of my people, the student must surpass his teacher.’
Wish I can give you that chance, because for my people’s sake, you must die.’ Hagnorj delivers a powerful thrust! And misses.
‘Great. Even if I die, someone will continue this struggle, and I’ll see my beloved Egh’nok in the afterlife,’ Dar’gum parries a low blow.
‘Humph. I doubt anyone will stand up to make any more cultural revolutions after I give the lesson through you. Speaking about Egh’nok, if she was still alive, she’d stop us here and now.’ CH’TANG! A parry from the other side.
‘Huffh... The climate in Gremion was too harsh for her. The plague came, and... ah, she was so fragile, poor Egh’nok. It was her death that moved me. She died because of the way we lived. ‘Survival for the fittest’ without giving a chance for the weak – it’s just won’t do. The weak deserves our protection, love and attention. By building a civilization, we’ll create that chance. Only then, Egh’nok might’ve lived.’ A blow misses.
Hagnorj snaps, ‘NO! My daughter died because she simply couldn’t stand cold. She must’ve lived in a warmer climate! She grew up in Bresconnor and she was unhappy in Gremion! I’m telling you, she wanted to go back to her childhood home! That’s why I dedicated my life to re-conquer Bresconnor and fulfilled that, only that I was too late. At least, I can give you and my grandsons a better place to live in memory of her! Grrh, never did I expect my family to be the greatest hurdle in my path! Can’t you understand my pain? My anguish? The sufferings I’ve been through?’ SWISSHHH!! One horizontal slash also misses.
‘You claim that you understand your daughter, but the fact is: you don’t have a clue! Didn’t you see Egh’nok’s face when she first saw me? It was sour and almost hateful! But, when she and I talked and shared our thoughts, her face turned excited and loving! And she said to me, ‘I thought you are just another bad-breathed, yellow-tusked, foul-smelling, gut-gorging brute! But, after we talked, I realized that you are something else, different than the rest. You appreciated my thoughts about a civilized orcish nation and are willing to help me reach that goal. ‘Relentless’ is your name but truthfully, you have a heart of gold and for that, I love you’.’
‘That’s a LIE! My daughter loved you because you were the strongest one who can succeed me as Khan! I’ve lost my only son when we lost Bresconnor, and then my daughter, and now I have no heir. My life is empty and taking back Bresconnor is the only way to redeem myself!’
The Khan’s blows get stronger and stronger as he continues, ‘If only you held your ideals back, I would support you to be the new Khan, and only then you may do whatever you like.
But no, you’d rather express your absurd ideas and push your ambition too soon, impatient and reckless! And now, I have no choice but to kill you and end this chaos.’ J’BANGGG!!! Another powerful blow presses Dar’gum into the ground, but he parries it and pushes himself away, preparing another special attack.
‘I told you, it’s your daughter’s death that prompted me to act. So, enough talking and keep on bashing! HEEAAH!!’ Dar’gum holds his axe high and swings it down using his earth-reinforced skill, Land and Sea Divide.
The single line of ground-splitting force slashes towards Hagnorj, and the old orc thrusts the ground with his sword, creating a spreading full-circle wave just like the name of the skill, the Quake Epicenter. DHUAASHH!! The wave muffles the line of force and stops it. Only ten percent hits Hagnorj’s body, pushing him back a bit and nowhere near deadly.
Hagnorj sneers, ‘Child’s play. Don’t you remember one word that I taught you? IMPROVISE!’
WHAAM!! The Khan hits the ground and sends a long-range bolt of energy, just like Dar’gum did.
What? Another Land and Sea Divide?
With that thought, Dar’gum learns from his ex-mentor and copies the solution: Quake Epicenter.
DHUAAASHH! Again comes the impact, and the Epicenter again neutralizes that attack. But at the same time, a sword comes down from above!
Dar’gum is shocked to see that. He’s not ready. The second before the sword splits his head, he quickly moves backwards. It misses his vital points but makes a long, horizontal graze on his face all the way down his torso. He’s hurt and probably will get a bad scar as souvenir from this fight, but he is still alive.
With a grunt, Dar’gum spins his axe violently, pivoting forward. It’s an earth-powered variant of Whirlwind Slash called the Cavemaker’s Grudge. With added mobility, this skill works more to offensive than defensive. Hagnorj blocks each blow with ease, but the blows are going faster, harder, stronger each time.
Until at a point, Dar’gum accumulates his aura again and attacks with his best skill, Hymn of the Falling Mountains. He leaps up and randomly slashes downwards with so great a force as though all mountains in the world are falling onto his opponent, leaving no moment and room for escape.
However, Hagnorj stays calm. Never in his life has he got this worried. He never saw this skill in his life, and he never taught Dar’gum anything beyond Cavemaker’s Grudge.
So, instead of defending himself, he decides to retaliate using his own ultimate skill, Volcano Eruption. The combined energy of earth and fire, the lava spreads upwards beyond sword reach, and can cut even flying creatures in the sky.
CLANK! CLANK! CLANK! CRASSH! CRASH!
That’s not counting many other high-speed hits and parries as the two forces collide. This goes on for two minutes or so, and then the final outcome will come out.
And then, Dar’gum lands behind his opponent. Suddenly, wounds from that impact start to burst open, blood sprinkles out from his body all over, and yet, the Relentless One is still standing. He coughs up blood and slowly turns around in case Hagnorj attacks him again, catching him in this weakened, vulnerable state.
Dar’gum’s fears come true as he sees Hagnorj standing with his back facing the opponent. The mohawk-haired orc is about to shout a challenge out when suddenly the Orc Khan falls on his knees with more blood spraying from his wounds than his foe’s.
The champion and the loser are clear now.
Drenched in blood, coughing, Hagnorj scolds his unfaithful son-in-law, ‘Come on! (Cough!) What are you waiting for? Finish me off right now (cough!) and fulfill your ambition!’
Yet, Dar’gum stays in place.
‘You fool! KILL ME!’ shrieks the old orc with a cough. ‘You are (cough!) a disgrace to the orcs’ way of life!’
Dar’gum replies calmly, showing his immense wisdom and experience. ‘I’m not like you. I have my own way and my own code of honor. I’m bound by no one and I decide upon my honor to let you go. I’ll never harm a helpless foe under my mercy, and a man named Robert Chandler made me realize that for the first time.
So, go, go home to your people. Be a good Khan and bring prosperity to our kind. When that time comes, my people will rejoin you, and you and I will reunite as one big, happy family.’
Saying that, Dar’gum turns back and begins to walk away from the distraught Hagnorj. The Orc Khan grits his teeth and gets up with effort. And then, mustering the last drops of his strength, he points his sword towards Dar’gum and dashes!
‘No, I’d rather you DIE!’
Dar’gum gets alert, but is too weak to move quickly. Death is unavoidable. His face shows extreme surprise, never expecting his father-in-law to repay his kindness and mercy with the basest of all treachery...
The Sword of Thorns finds its mark! Dar’gum feels no pain at all – is this what death feels like? He looks more thoroughly and to his dismay, a very familiar orc already comes and embraces the sword!
‘ZE’BOOOGGG!!!’ Dar’gum now has reasons to be depressed. His firstborn son sacrifices himself to protect his father! ‘Gush’tar! (Brother!)’ Chugal also shouts.
‘No, no, no...!!’ The Chieftain takes a closer look and he’s not seeing wrong. Hagnorj’s sword is nesting in his son’s stomach. Blood drenches Ze’bog’s hands red, and the falchion in his hand is stuck in Hagnorj’s right chest, missing the heart but still fatal.
‘No... no, Ze’bog, why? It didn’t have to be this way... my son...!’
‘No, father,’ the bald orc coughs blood when he replies, ‘(Cough-cough!) It’s necessary. You are the strongest of our kind, and you’re next in line (cough!) to be... Khan. Please... continue our struggle. Create a civilized orcish nation where my wife and kids may live in peace. Only that will make my sacrifice worthwhile. This is... the proof of my love for you... father...’
And then his eyes go blank. His jaw hangs, and one may believe that there’s a place in heaven for orcs and he’s already in there. For the second time in his life, Dar’gum is in tears.
Turning quickly, he scolds Hagnorj, ‘You see now? If you just agreed with me from the start, this wouldn’t happen. We would stand side-by-side as family!’
Hagnorj spits blood on Dar’gum, ‘PTOOEEY!! If you didn’t run away to those filthy Arcadians, I wouldn’t end up with my grandson’s blade within!
You are the culprit all along! Because of the silly ideals my stupid daughter told you, I cannot fulfill my goal of crating a vast, great Orcish Empire that spreads to distances horses can reach! (Cough, cough!)
Just bear this in mind! The humans never want to coexist with us, not now, not ever. We are nothing but hideous monsters in THEIR eyes! They just want to wipe us out, one by one until orcs are extinct. Just don’t try to coexist with them! It’s not within our nature to adopt human civilizations! WE are born to WAR! To KILL! To plunder! That’s what we are! Predators! UUURRGGG!!’
Too excited, Hagnorj vomits blood. He gets stiff and jerks a bit, and then breathes his last.
Crestfallen, Dar’gum and Chugal witness all that. Hagnorj’s last words made them think. Rethinking their ideals, their true nature, combined with the fact that hey had no success trying to live so near to humans in Celc.
With a face full of doubt, Chugal talks to his father, ‘Uh, dad, I’m just thinking...’
‘Maybe Hagnorj is right,’ Dar’gum answers. ‘But, our attempt to return to Gremion proves that we still want to build OUR OWN civilization without any human contact at all. As long as we keep to our borders, stay out of human territories and live independently off our own resources, our kind will prosper for ages to come. As time flies, as humans become more rational and advanced, maybe one day, one day they will embrace us as equals and coexist in peace.’
In response, Chugal turns to his comrades and shouts, ‘The Khan is dead! Dar’gum is the new Khan! Long live the Khan!’
Chugal’s shout gets the orcs’ attention. They break away from their enemies and gather into a big group.
Knowing this situation, Hernan shouts to his troops, ‘DON’T ATTACK THE ORCS! FOCUS ON THE UNDEAD ONLY!’
Kyflynn and Desmond relay the message to the Alliance troops and soon the orcs are all around Dar’gum like a gigantic doughnut.
As Chugal gets the attention, he announces further, ‘All of you have witnessed your Khan and Ze’boc killed each other. And now before us stands the Khan’s legitimate family member, the next in line for the Khanate, and a great warrior. No need for election! All hail Dar’gum, the new Khan of Gremion!’
Without comprehension over politics, the orcs are in a dire need of a new leader, and when one steps in, fully qualified to fill the vacancy, traitor or not, the orcs have no choice but to accept.
‘HAIL KHAN DAR’GUM! LONG LIVE THE KHAN!’
The cheers and recognition prompts Dar’gum to act. ‘My brothers, my brethren! As your new Khan I declare that we have no more allegiance with the Dark Forces! Let us not get involved in this war! We are only pawns for the Dark’s benefit! This is NOT our war, and we shall go back to Bresconnor to reconcile with the humans!
Gremion is our homeland! No matter how harsh the climate there, I promise you, we shall find a way to live and prosper! Now let us MARCH!’
Before the orcs can move out of the battlefield, suddenly cries of death and terror get more deafening. Dar’gum takes a better look and immediately warns his comrades, ‘HALT! Stand your ground and be on guard! The enemy reinforcements have arrived!’