Gortek by Tom Doolan

How Gortek Got Into The World's Largest Dungeon

The Orc hunting party had been pursuing the escaped snaga for two days through the underdark. He had been a crafty human, foiling all of their attempts to capture him. It was only through the sheer willpower of the orc leader, a large orc named Chakk and his intimidating best friend, Gortek that the party hadn’t turned back already.

And now they had come to a point where it seemed as if the decision would soon have to be made. They were in an underground complex, in a high-ceilinged chamber. The few signs they had seen of the human’s passing had led them here, and the only other exits were two doors.

Without a thought, Chakk went to the southern door and opened it. What he saw beyond perplexed him for a moment. The doorway was filled with blackness. Not the blackness that comes from a lack of light, but a tangible black substance that reflected no light, yet was obviously there.

Chakk looked over his shoulder at Gortek.

“What you think?” He said in the guttural orc language.

“Gortek not know.” Replied his friend, shrugging. Chakk turned back to the doorway and drew his falchion. He cautiously prodded the tip of the weapon into the blackness. It met no resistance going in, yet when he tried to pull it back out, it held fast.

The burly orc grunted in surprise and tugged harder, but to no avail. His brow furrowed, and he moved to place his other hand on the blackness, hoping to get enough leverage to pull his weapon free. Instead, his hand sank into the blackness halfway to his elbow before he stopped. He tried to pull it back, but now he too was stuck.

Chakk yelped in panic, and Gortek leapt forward. Grabbing his friend’s armor, he tugged as hard as he could. The metal links in the battered chainmail stretched, but Chakk did not budge. Gortek let go and stepped back.

“How does arm feel?” He asked, trying to calm his friend. Chakk looked at the blackness where his arm was.

“Feel normal. No pain. Just not able to pull out.”

“Maybe Chakk go rest of way in…?” Gortek said, hopefully. Chakk, thought for a second and shrugged resignedly.

“Ok.” He said, and stepped forward. He moved completely through the blackness and disappeared.

“Chakk?” Called Gortek.

No answer.

Gortek turned to the rest of the party, who were all fidgeting nervously. Grabbing the nearest, a small orc named Ulgy, Gortek tossed him though the blackness, screaming. This caused quite a stir among the rest, and they started to back away from Gortek. Most were all burly and strong, but Gortek towered over all of them, and his muscles bulged as he stalked towards the next in line.

This one was a bit smarter, and with a scowl, leapt through the opening. A few more followed, leaving only three to deal with Gortek. He growled at them menacingly, brandishing his waraxe.

“You go through on foot, or in air. You choose.”

One fled back the way they had come, surprising Gortek. The other two looked at each other and brandished their own weapons. They weren’t going without a fight.

“If that your choice, Gortek teach you lesson.” With that the big orc leapt forward, and swung his waraxe in a deadly overhead arc. Both orcs moved to opposite sides in a diving dodge. But Gortek was crafty, and in mid-stroke, he redirected the blow to his right, catching that orc in the side. The axe buried itself in the orc’s ribcage, and sent him howling and bleeding to the floor.

The other orc was also crafty, and took advantage of Gortek’s distraction by stabbing forward with his scimitar. The larger orc saw it coming, but was unable to fully dodge, instead twisting to take the stab full in the chest of his scale hauberk. The metal fabric gave some, and Gortek quickly jerked back, preventing the point from penetrating. Lashing out with his foot, he landed an off-balance but solid kick to his opponent’s chest, and both orcs went sprawling backwards.

Both orcs gained their feet at the same time. Gortek, his axe still buried in the side of the flailing orc, drew his scimitar, and they circled each other warily. With a savage roar, Gortek charged, swing his scimitar in a brutal overhand swing. The other orc was a little surprised at the bigger orc’s ferocity, but brought his own scimitar up to block, placing his left hand behind it to brace for the impact. And impact it did. With a clang that shook the smaller orc’s teeth, Gortek pressed down. The smaller orc thought he was safe, as he had stopped Gortek’s charge. But what he didn’t see was the giant fist coming from the side. The impact sent the orc flying, his body going limp and landing in a heap.

Gortek stalked over to the senseless orc, and raised his scimitar for a killing blow. But something stayed his hand. Something in the back of his mind nagged that this wasn’t right. It was like a voice that had always been talking to him whenever he did something the “orc” way. But now it was more insistent. And he knew that he wouldn’t be able to live like this much longer.

For a moment he toyed with the idea of leaving the cave, and abandoning his life as an orc warrior. But he couldn’t abandon Chakk, his only friend. So, he turned around, walked across the chamber, retrieving his axe from the now-dead orc, and walked straight through the South door.

When Gortek emerged on the other side of the door, the sounds of battle assailed him. The clangor of steel on steel mixed with the familiar roars and grunts of orcs in battle. He immediately rushed towards the sounds. He rounded a corner to see Chakk backed into a corner, holding his falchion in front of him. His eyes were a mixture of fear and rage, and he bled profusely from under his studded leather vest. In front of him were four of the six orcs that had come in with him. The other two were lying on the ground behind them in widening pools of their own blood.

Gortek knew without a doubt that they had all blamed Chakk for their predicament, and had turned on him as soon as they thought his bigger friend was gone. Anger rose in Gortek’s throat and he bellowed a challenge as he charged heedlessly into the group.

So startled were the orcs that two went down with a single stroke of an axe. What ensued was a frenzied scramble of a battle, as Gortek struck solidly with every blow. Shields were raised, and weapons parried, but nothing could stop him. And even though a few managed minor blows, eventually they all fell before the mighty orc’s rage and power.

When he realized that all of his foes were dead or dying, Gortek rushed to Chakk’s side. The leader had sunk to the floor, his skin a sickly pallor of green. His eyes tried to focus on Gortek. He reached out a weakening hand and grasped his friend’s shoulder.

“Was…many…” Chakk choked. “Coward snaga…but Gortek show them. Show them way of warrior…” He coughed and fresh blood bubbled from his lips. He swallowed, and when he spoke again, it wasn’t much more then a whisper.

“Chakk die a warrior.” He said. “Go to Grummsh’s side now…”

As Chakk’s eyes closed for the final time, Gortek felt something he had never felt. Grief. Loss. Chakk had been his only friend, and now he was dead because of the orc ways.

Gortek laid his friend’s body on the ground and stood. He raised his head to the roof and bellowed a cry of rage and anger. In that scream he cursed all orcs. Cursed their ways and their gods. Never again would be a slave to that life.

He threw the bodies of the other orcs into a disarrayed pile. He sat Chakk up against the wall, as if resting, and piled the weapons of the traitors at his feet.

Taking a shield and his own weapons and equipment, Gortek turned and walked deeper into the dungeon. He knew he could not get out the way he came in, so he was determined to find another way. And if he had to kill everything in here to get out, he would.