It is a continuation of https://yourstoryclub.com/short-stories-science-fiction/short-story-science-fiction-thew-sorcerers-realm/
Ironger was taking rest in his favorite chamber of the castle, that orcs and goblins built for him on the land that one could consider a wide border zone between two realms, joined into one world a year and a half ago. He had chosen this site for his castle, as it had ‘moderate climate’. The air was not so hot, like in orcish desert and not so stinky like in goblin wastelands.
Ironger was thinking and reminding his way, he came to this castle and he had all the reasons to be satisfied.
Knocking on the door interrupted his memories. Ironger concentrated, and after a second he knew who was that, as that time was enough to scan the visitor’s mind.
“Come in, General Gort!” said he, using Orcish language. It was one of five sentences, he knew in Orcish.
A strong, green warrior in almost complete armor appeared in his chamber.
“You have called me, master!”
“Oh yes, I have forgotten.” The rest of the conversation was continued in their minds. “Take a seat! I’m waiting for the other commanders.”
Soon three orcish and two goblin Generals took their places behind the tale at the sorcerer’s chamber. The meeting was strange, as Ironger didn’t say a word, orcs were using their language and goblins theirs. In fact the sorcerer was a simultaneous translator for both orcs and goblins, and also presented his ideas. All this was happening in their minds.
“Your both lands are primitive and behind the times, they require deep changes and reorganization” was one of the first Ironger’s sentences.“ At first we must build the basics of true economy. The present one is limited to hunting the animals, either on desert or in wastelands. It reduces the progress of both species. Always when you eat almost all the animals, you keep dying of starvation. As soon as the number of your fellow-countrymen reduces, animals can populate the earth again, and the situation comes back to the starting point. Have you ever consider eating plants? I’m going to introduce the agriculture.”
The gathered commanders were perplexed and disgusted.
“Master! I am afraid, it can be a problem in both our realms!” said one of the orcish leaders.
Ironger pretended not to hear his words, or rather not to read them in his mind.
“That is only the beginning! I’m going to build a network of roads, connecting all the villages and camps in both realms. My castle will be the central point of the network, so that all the roads will lead here. The next project will be introducing the currency. I will assign some blacksmiths to work on coins and control them by myself. Another step will be creating a banking system, but I will tell you about it in the future. Now we need to focus on the first point – agriculture. General Gort! General Saur will take over your duties! Be ready tomorrow morning. We are setting on the journey. During my absence, the government will keep ruling the United Realm of Orcs and Goblins.”
Gort was not actually glad that he was assigned to an unknown mission with Ironger. For obvious reasons there was a big fear for his master in his heart. However, for even more obvious reasons, he decided not to show it before either the other orcish leaders or the sorcerer, and was ready to depart an hour before the time ordered by Ironger.
Gort came from the southern district of the Orcish Realm. Before Ironger took over the power, he had been a leader of a local southern tribe, members of which dwelt in three villages. Similar to other orcish tribes the activities of his subordinates used to be twofold: fighting and hunting.
He remembered very good himself standing with his troops among the crowd of orcs, when Ironger blew the Old Mountain up. Also he was impressed by yesterday’s plans of his master. However he had mixed feelings about the vision of a new world.
“On one hand my sons would live in a peaceful world. On the other, is it appropriate for an orc to avoid fighting? My father was a great warrior, the conqueror of two villages. The older generations had also gained military success. I don’t know. I just must obey my master…”
They set on. Gort was carrying a large backpack with food supplies and a composite, small tent. They headed south of the castle.
“We will follow a well known way towards my villages. I hope the master would allow me to visit my family.”
Gort found his hopes would not come true, but not at once. First he noticed, that the landscape was getting changed. On the surface of the desert he saw some small clumps of grass, then grass pieces occurred more and more often, together with small bushes. Twenty minutes later he realized, they were walking a forest road. He felt the smell of the forest. It was fresh, but also it was harder to breath.
“The atmosphere in this realm is slightly different, but you should carry on.” explained Ironger.
Five minutes later he added:
“We are about to travel further south in this world, so we will need some better means of transportation than our feet.”
For another half an hour they were following a path, which gradually turned into a paved road. Ironger stopped.
“Can you hear?”
Indeed, an echo of horseshoes knocking sounded on a paved surface.
“More than one rider.” found out Gort, after he put an ear to the road.
Ironger decided to attack the riders and steal their horses. Together with Gort they took cover in a bush.
Soon three riders appeared from behind the corner. Once they were riding next to the bush, where attackers were hidden, Ironger summoned a great wind, blowing directly in faces of the riders, so they had to stop and did their best to to fall down of the horses, as well as keep them in control. Gort took the advantage of the situation, jumped from the bush, and quickly decapitated all three with his axe. Ironger stopped the wind.
“Master! I suggest, we eat the additional horse.”
The sorcerer refused.
“Our journey is long, a backup horse will be useful. Especially that your weight is twice mine.”
Gort was exhausted after a quick combat. It wouldn’t be so hard for him in normal conditions, but the air in this land was really harder to breathe for an orc. No one knew how the sorcerer could handle with any atmosphere. Obviously it was a matter of magic.
When the evening was close at hand, they stopped and Gort came inside the wood to get something to eat. He returned after an hour with three rabbit-like creatures. The meal was baked in a magic fire and consumed by both travellers proportionally to the weight of each one. Gort was satisfied, since he could eat also bones of his master’s rabbit.
The rest of the journey through the forest was monotony and took two more days. The backup horse was indeed useful, as Gort was using two horses alternately, day by day. On third day. in the afternoon the landscape was changing and gradually turning into a steppe. Soon they saw the first settlement.
“You will stay with horses, and I’ll make a sneak peek.” ordered the sorcerer.
Small humanoid creatures dwelt in about twenty cottages. A well was located in the middle of the village. Ironger came around the settlement and found a path leading east. It seemed to be used quite often.
“If they cultivate any fields, that path must lead to one such field.” thought the sorcerer.
His predictions proved true, and after a few minutes of marching he saw a piece of land with growing little bushes, decorated with green fruit. He took one, smelled, cut a piece, and touched with his tongue.
“Incredibly sweet and refreshing. Should be OK.” thought he.
He took some fruit and returned to the orc who also liked it.
“We need to know the way, they cultivate it.” said the sorcerer.
“Master! If you say a word, I will attack, and make peasants talk.”
“You live to fight, General Gort, uh?”, said Ironger, “It would be better, if we made a friendly visit in the village and ask if they would give fruit to us, or what would they like in exchange. Besides they have to learn us to cultivate it. Besides, though confrontation with peasants is a low risk, it’s always a risk. So we are waiting till the dawn and go there.”
As early morning came, Ironger looked towards the village. The birth of a new day was really putting life into the settlement, in the beginning tiny, as only a few peasants could be seen on yards, already busy with their everyday duties. Then minute after minute the life was spreading to cover the whole village, now looking like an anthill.
The sorcerer took his General, and both approached the village. Having seen the visitors, peasants interrupted their activities, and stepped back, sometimes taking cover in cottages and barns, and sometimes even behind coops. Several armed villages quickly gathered near the well, and walked into Ironger’s way.
The meeting occurred right in front of the first hut of the settlement. Soon peasants’ faces were twisted in astonishment, as they heard words of their language, put by the sorcerer into their primitive minds.
“Greetings villagers! I am Iro, the great sorcerer, the ruler of a faraway Realm of Orcs and Goblins. We come in peace and would like to buy your plants and furthermore your agriculture technology.”
After a minute or two or maybe even five peasants’ astonishment was gone, and they started taking, considering the proposal.
“Are you really a powerful sorcerer?” asked one on peasants, probably the leader.
“Well, I can prove it, but the proof might be deadly for you. How about that?”
“No, no! Our price is simple. You must kill the dragon!”
“I see. A classical problem. The beast is attacking you, and you want to get rid of it.”
“Well, not exactly. In fact two months ago it killed Kyle, but no one else.”
“So you want to avenge your fellow-countryman!”
“Avenge Kyle? No, mighty sorcerer. In fact we are grateful that the beast ate this imbecile!”
“So what is the problem, then?”
“The river, sorcerer. Since we don’t breed cows, or sheep, the dragon hunts some wild animals. After the meal it has siesta on the meadow, and returns to the hill where it has the lair. The route to dragon’s hill is above the river. While returning the lair, the beast shits into the river. The water is contaminated, and it is a serious problem for us. We need to transport fresh water faraway from here to drink it and to water our fields.”
“I see… Kill the dragon? Hmmm… an interesting proposal, but I’m just thinking about two aspects. The first one is that I suppose it would be easier to kill all of you. Another one is the payment. Plants, seeds, and cultivation technology for a life of dragon. I’m not sure if it is profitable…”
“But master! There is an old legend about the angel assisted by the monster who liberates our land. We have just thought… well … you could…”
Ironger was thinking for a while “Angel and liberator sounds good and satisfies the superego pretty well…”
“And how is the angel rewarded for his job to your community?” asked he after the stream of altruistic thought in his head was over.
The peasant trembled.
“Rewarded? Oh, forgive me master. The legend says nothing about it.”
“Not a good legend!”
The peasant was now really stressed, and other peasants saw it.
“Master! We all promise to become your humble servants once you save us from the beast!”
Again Ironger didn’t answer at once, but was thinking for a moment. For peasants it seemed the eternity.
“All right, I’ll do it for you! In exchange you will assign a group of, let’s say, ten farmers. I will take them to my kingdom, where they will cultivate plants for my citizens. Don’t be afraid. I shall treat them good.”
The leader of the tribe felt a relief for a moment, but then he had mixed feelings about the fate of those ten villagers he was about to assign. However, he didn’t have a choice…
It was late afternoon, when Ironger set on a journey to the dragon’s lair. Gort was ordered to support him, walking about three to four hundred meters behind him. Such distance was enough to secure the orc from a dragon fire attack. The road behind the village led the sorcerer to into a dark forest. Soon the world was filled with sense of darkness, perfectly matching the illumination. Moreover the night was already close at hand and sun was getting lower and lower in the village. For a deep wood that meant almost a full dusk.
The dragon was living on a hill, so it seemed weird for the sorcerer, that the terrain was getting lower, while he was going towards the monster’s lair. Soon he felt the ground under his feet was wet. In several minutes the sorcerer got into the marsh. A swamp in the forest was weird, but odder was the presence of evil, almost tangible, expressed in heavy, sultry, and stinky air, in the surrounding dusk only slightly illuminated by weak stars. Within this world of decay there was almost a feeling of a big heart of some great entity beating… life among the death.
Something like a stale sigh, heard occasionally by the sorcerer seemed to prove his conjecture, or it was just an imagination driven by the dead landscape. Ironger felt no magic presence, distinctive for dragons.
“Why do you invade my land, sorcerer?” he heard unexpectedly in his mind. “You disturb it with your presence. I am a hoary, old dragon desiring nothing else, but peace.”
The stream of thoughts was over. Ironger felt a whiff on his back and saw something like an outline of a huge creature in the sky. Still there was no sign of magic from the dragon, but indeed the dragon itself it was.
“You want to see me?” came the question to the sorcerer’s mind.
The mighty creature was not waiting for an answer. A powerful flame flooded quite a large extent of the land in a distance of about a kilometer before the sorcerer. Glow of the fire illuminated the area and brandishing flames reached well into the sky. The beast landed before the sorcerer and looked in his eyes. The huge, red, bulk body of the creature was shining in glamor of the fire.
“Let’s say, my intention is that you keep away from the village.” Ironger interrupted the while of silence.
“Keep away from the village you say, sorcerer? Well, it has been my land for centuries. I didn’t invite peasants here.”
“And if I propose to find a land good enough for you? I know the land you could like. If you let me to travel on your back, we can get there.”
“Interesting, but I suppose you know that people don’t change their habits in late years, like when they are sixty, seventy or more. Well I am seven hundred seventy seven. Do you think I want any changes?”
“If your whole day is just hunting, eating, digesting, and returning home, then what a problem for you would be just to travel and see another land.”
“Tell me why you took this orc with you. Did you think I will not see him?”
“Just for the security. He will stay here.”
The dragon agreed. Maybe he was really bored with daily routine, and a trip was a kind of entertainment for it, or maybe it really wanted to change home. However, Irogner was lucky this day.
The sorcerer sat on the back of the beast, and they set on. Ironger still was wondering why he could not feel the magic power of dragon, but as he concentrated he felt it. It was meager and small. That encouraged the sorcerer to perform his plan faster.
Soon, as they were flying the sky changed its color, and the landscape gradually became a meadow. He told the dragon to land in the grass. The sorcerer jumped of his back.
“How about that?” asked Ironger. “Take a flight around, and let me know”.
The dragon seemed astonished that such a weird country is relatively close to his homeland, and flew high in the air. Ironger didn’t wait for its return. Quickly he opened the portal to the former (from now) world of the dragon again, and was escaping. With every step the terrain around him was changing. Soon he could feel the stinky marsh in the forest in front of the (former) dragon’s lair, as the smelly air was traveling through the tunnel between both realms.
The beast, however, noticed his strange behavior, and found out it was a trick. The dragon nosedived, and was sure it cannot get the sorcerer so it released a huge flame. The fire flooded the land, and also traveled through the corridor. Fortunately Ironger cast an energy shield which deflected and dispersed the fire. After opening and closing the portal he still had enough magic power to make a shield for a single man. Fire did no harm for him. But this didn’t apply to Gort who quickly approached the tunnel once it was open, willing to help his master. Now a huge, black, charred body in armor was all that remained from one of Ironger’s best Generals…
The sorcerer returned to the village. He was sorry to lost General Gort, and decided to commemorate him. On his returning way to the village he rigged a pompous speech.
“What is a name of this village?” he asked the leader.
“We are the only village in this area. We’ve never been given a particular name…”
Then the sorcerer spoke to the crowd:
“Villagers! I have brought you freedom. Together with General Gort we’ve been fighting the beast. The burned forest on the marsh is the witness of how the figth was terrible and vehement. We have won. You will never meet the dragon again. Gort sacrificed his life for you! Never forget about it. I believe you should name your settlement Gortville.”
The villagers were standing flabbergasted and silent.
“Do you agree to change the name of the village?” Ironger asked the leader.
“Y-y-yes!” re replied.
“Citizens of Gortville! You have been released from the dragon!” shouthed Ironger.
Shouts of joy filled the village. “Hurrah for Gort! Hurrah for Iro!”
Three hours later the villagers brought General’s Gort body, and performed a ceremonial burial. The General rested in the village of his name.
“He would like that.” thought Ironger. “His ancestors ere conquering villages, and now he also has his own village. I only wonder what the other Generals would think, when they see me back without their friend. Well… for sure they will try to hide their feelings deeply in their hearts…”
Together with a group of peasants Ironger returned the Realm of Orcs and Goblins. Soon his first reform was introduced, and the realm at last had its agriculture. Another reforms were still in a queue…