Beyond the Valley Floor
“I said it was an orc nest, did I?”
“That was a lie.”
Daniela said after we had finished our water and lunch.
“More accurately, it would be their frontline base. It should be up ahead. The nest is likely on the other side, beyond the hanging bridge. And that would make it quite far.”
“I see. You wouldn’t want to fight right after walking a long way. Perhaps normal orcs wouldn’t care, but an evolved being might be cautious of such things.”
I had an idea of their intelligence through my interactions with Beowulf and the assault kobold. I didn’t know how this orc would be, but they were hiding in the mist as they moved. It wouldn’t hurt to be cautious.
“Well, we’re done resting now. We should move on.”
“Yes. I will gather the barrier tools.”
As Daniela got up to collect them, I put away the other things we had been using. I just had to toss them into the hollow bag and it was finished. Daniela put the barrier tools in and we extinguished the lantern’s fire. All set.
“Alright, but let’s be careful.”
I used Nighteyes and Daniela used Presence Detection as we moved up the gently rising tunnel. While faint, I could feel a current in the air. A chilly breeze brushed against my cheek.
“Are there wind spirits here?”
“No, I do not see any. It must be some other spirits, considering where we are. Maybe they are telling you what lies beyond here?”
“How considerate of them.”
I couldn’t see them, but would they help? They must have hated that this path was even made here. They were living here quietly until someone stomped into their homes with their filthy shoes. Of course, they were annoyed.
“So, intelligent orcs can make hole moles obey them?”
“It is hard to believe… But this hole was dug perfectly to fit their purpose, so it must be true. Perhaps they lured it with food.”
“What do those things even eat?”
“Ore. And even rocks if they are hungry enough.”
So that’s why there were no remains of dug up dirt anywhere. I guess they never ran out of food then?
“Ah, so that’s why it’s ore.”
“They give it as a reward for digging.”
And so they used these hole moles to dig a tunnel near the village. And they even made a base nearby as well… I wonder what kind of ore they were giving to make them work so much. And also, what was so special about this village to make them go to such lengths?
“I was not able to learn much about this village. But I did learn two things.”
“The first is that is was a village of women.”
“A paradise for orcs.”
“And for you as well, I presume?”
Don’t be silly. I don’t need anyone else but you.
“Hm…well, as for the other thing…”
“There are ruins near this village. It is supposed to be an ancient temple.”
I immediately thought back to the ancient elven ruins… But Daniela shook her head.
“This one is different. There was nothing inside of it. The village would have developed a lot more had those ruins had had any value to researchers, but many years of searching had brought up nothing. It is just an old, withered carcass.”
“Hmmm…So it is just a boring village.”
“Even with the women?”
“I’m not an orc. But I can be one for you.”
“I, I see…hehe.”
I wonder if there are any other couples who would fool around in a dark subterranean hole like us in existence? I highly doubted it.
After about half an hour of climbing upwards. We came out into an open area. I quietly peeked inside, but there were no signs of anyone being there. I turned around but Daniela shook her head to signify that Presence Detection had not found anyone. I try using it too, just in case, but the result was the same. There were no traps on the floor or in the walls. This was a completely empty space.
“So this is the base you were talking about.”
“I believe so. Look over there.”
Daniela lit the lantern and walked in front of me as she carefully checked for traps. As I followed her, a wooden chest appeared under the light. I gulped and then used my sword to knock it over. Nothing happened. The wooden lid had just fallen off. We approached it slowly and Daniela shined her light into it. I gasped.