Here it is chapter four
I prepared for night as dusk drew near on my fourteenth day here in these eternal lands, but still no Penner journals. I have a better understanding of my magic here. It seems that some of what I am has followed me into this land. I started my campfire this evening without a fire essence, which is good. Fire essences are as good as money here, and I’ll need all I can find or make. The last couple of weeks have been a bit less eventful after the gargoyle and I decided to prepare better. I have met many people, even made a few friends. I was struck by the strange, wild beauty of Naralik as I prepared a nice meal of cooked meat, veggies and fruit. This is truly a wondrous place; and reminds me of places in a million different worlds....though beauty is everywhere if you look for it.
I drifted off to sleep into a dream. Bits of the past, present, and future jumbled together. Nothing seemed to make sense. The future came first. I could see it clearly....I was standing beside Jezebelle, fighting the curse of Mortos. I saw us reach the point of parting. Sage....that name rings in my ears as if it is destined to be a title I shall wear here. The past rushed in, and I saw dragons, spaceships, and a multitude of other things I have seen. Then she appeared there in my dream. She in the past in many worlds has been at my side, sometimes a lady sometimes something else entirely. She has been many things a hawk, sparrow, dragon horse, even a snake once. In my dream she is a lady once again and the dream has turned to the present time. She assured me she is here with me. The form she needs hasn’t shown itself to her yet and until that time she is a shade, a thought, an idea unborn in the Gods' mind. I felt better, lighter, safer...somehow knowing she is with me as always. The dream changed again and I found myself starring into the face of a horrible beast with even more horrible breath.
My eyes burst open, taking in the dim light of the campfire's dying embers. As my vision adjusted to the darkness, I became aware of a figure before me. Black, stringy hair outlined a face foul and green. I strong armed my way up from my prone position using my half elven gift of magic. I traveled much farther than I had planned. Elvish magic in this land must be powerful indeed. I landed exactly where I planned to reach with a tuck and roll...but without the tuck or the roll. With my trusty axe at my side, there would be no trip to Mortos’s underworld this time. I swing with all my might, spinning towards my attacker and severing its head nicely. I knew by its appearance that it was an orc.
I threw more branches on to my fire and rolled a log on it while still brandishing the axe in one hand. The flames burst to life, painting the nighttime world around me. I was completely demoralized to find not one but a dozen orcs. Thankfully, they were all disoriented and confused with the flames and the headless orc that was surely family moments before. I had but seconds to react. Orc in this land are super fast and inhumanly strong. I grabbed my pack, slung it over my shoulder and dove into the darkness using the confusion to my advantage. I had taken a long look earlier and remembered seeing an orc to the far north of Naralik, close to what seemed an ancient temple. So north , which happens to be the direction I dove in, was out of the question.
They ransacked my camp, thinking I must be there. But my mother did not raise a fool. I had seconds now before their search started growing in an ever-widening circle. They despised fire, so I chucked several fire essences into the undergrowth north of me and ignited them. I was correct in my thinking. They tore off toward the fire, toward me! I dove to one side as the herd-like group clambered swiftly past.
If I could reach the ship in the south just beyond my camp before the orcs got wise, I could possibly hold out till dawn and come up with a plan of escape. Oh, why did I insist on not using that bloody green cape?
I dashed from hiding too early. There were two orcs still in my makeshift camp; one holding my black cape. I ducked a huge grasping arm and buried my shoulder into the first beast's knee, toppling it. I swing the axe at the prone shape and it was finished. One down. The other howled in anger and rushed at me, dropping my cape. I rolled to the firepit's edge. Lying on my back, I kicked upwards, nailing the orc in the gut as it rushed close. Using its own weight and momentum, I sent it flying over the edge of the fire pit. The creature caught fire and ran to the east screaming, drawing the others away from me once again.
I snatched my cape and headed for that ship. It was a galley by my best description; wrecked in some day gone by. The vessel was intact for the most part and was at least some kind of shelter which I could fortify. The rest of the night I heard the orc howling and screaming to one another in their search for me. A great night of sleep lost, damn it. I had miles to travel in my search of Fred Penner’s journals.
At dawn things were a bit quieter. The orc had not found me, but they were still searching. I peered past the broken bow of the ship. Something or someone was coming through the undergrowth. If they kept on the path they were striding, they would meet those angry orc. Thinking of only this poor sap, I jumped from the bow of the ship. What the hell am I doing? I thought as I raced out toward the individual. I had left my axe in the ship. I could see the orc were headed straight at the stranger with all the malice they could muster.
I was surprised to see the man unshealth bright yellow blazing blade. I could see him clearly now...oh my god could it be Fred Penner himself? Great. I'd found the man whose journal I was in search of, just to watch him die while I stood by helpless.
As I passed my camp fire, I stooped and scooped up a piece of burn-hardened wood. I was no longer helpless. The orc closed in on him and the battle was over in an instant. He swung the sword in a broad swath; severing hands, arms and legs. The orc scattered. He hailed me and ran my way as the orc picked up their limbs and slowly started once again to close on us. He laughed when he saw I was armed with only a stick, and told me to follow him to the ship in the south.
"We can fortify it," he said.
I informed him it was fortified, and my axe was there waiting on us. I told him who I was and about my quest as we made our way swiftly back to the ship. We entered the hull and refortified the door.
“Orc are stupid creatures. They’ll beat on the ship for hours, then head back to the temple when the sun is high. Then we will make our way out of here,” he said, catching his breath.
He introduced himself as Fred Penner and handed me a copy of his journals. Fred explained he was just visiting like me. He traveled many planes of existence and upon returning, Worf had told him where he might find me. We shared adventures and wisdom we had learned the hard way until the time finally came and the orc headed back to their temple.
We made our way to Portland storage and he bid me goodbye. We parted there and since that day, our paths have crossed several times. We became friends. Both of us have had many adventures since and surely we will see even more. I realise as the day draws to a close, so does this chapter of my life here in these eternal lands. But many more are still to come.