Grall looked out of his window, a strange sense of peace came over him as he watched the young man below entering and exiting the house next to his, Grodaks house. How stupid are these young spy’s? Grall mused as he stepped from the window. Don’t they realize that we always have our chiefs house under surveillance?
It was an hour till dawn and Gralls spies were ordered not to act upon the intruders unless they posed a threat to Grodak. Grall knew what they were doing, securing hiding spots for when the time was right, and they could strike. Anyone else would’ve captured these spy’s the moment they entered their chieftains house and under normal circumstances so would Grall, but these weren’t normal circumstances.
Grall knew the moment he captured one, the rest would retreat and try another tactic, possibly with more backup. Grall knew the best way to put an end to their plans was to lure them into a false sense of security and capture them all, dead or alive.
Grall was no longer by the window but he kept his new eyesight trained upon the house, not trusting that this would be the end. A few minutes past before he heard a knock on the door.
“Come in.” Grall commanded, he knew who it was and didn’t bother to raise his head. “What do you have to report Fluffles?”
A Tabaxi with short white fur stood in front of him. The very presence of this creature would make anyone cringe in fear. He wasn’t any ordinary Tabaxi after all, but a Tabaxi that has been inflicted with vampirism, and one who owed Grall a life dept.
“We have determined that these men will be attacking tonight, just as the morning sun peeks over the horizon.” Fluffles spoke with a slight purr in his voice, obviously pleased with himself.
“How many?” Grall asked, he knew that Fluffles, being his best agent, would know.
“Do I really need to tell you?” Fluffles asked with a smile upon his cat like features.
“Humor me.” Grall smiled back at him, he enjoyed these games with Fluffles, it was one of the few things he could enjoy.
“Around ten of them, my lord.” Fluffles tail twitched in anticipation of the next question, but there wasn’t time for another one.
“Good,” Grall said, “take three of our best and be prepared to attack when they do.”
Fluffles looked to Grall quizzically. “Me, my lord?” He asked, his confusion plain to see. “What will you be doing in the meantime, my lord?”
Grall looked up to him just then, a smile pulling at his lips. “I shall be visiting my brother. I think it’s time to report our findings to him.”
Grall knocked upon the wooden door of Grodaks house, knowing full well that his brother was asleep. A moment later, the door swung open revealing a tired looking, half-dressed Grodak. Grall could imagine how the women of the tribe would fawn over the sight of him and would kill to see him as he is now.
“What do you want, Grall.” Grodak spoke with a mixture of anger and sleep in his voice. “Can’t you see that not even the sun has risen to greet the day yet?”
“Well, brother,” Grall said in his most energetic voice, “I thought now would be a good time to discuss the scout’s movements and what my spy’s have discovered.”
Grodak sighed and opened the door for Grall to walk in, then turned around and left. Grall figured he had gone to get dressed and to splash water on his face to help him wake up. When Grodak returned, he was fully dressed and had an arm full of documents that he had obviously planned to have Grall look at.
Grall sighed himself upon seeing the stack of papers, he knew most of them confused Grodak, so he had asked Gralls help often in these past few days. Grall didn’t mind, however, but he knew eventually Grodak would need to learn them on his own. Grall kept that to himself however, not because he feared his brother would force him to stay, but because he knew that if he had said anything, Grodak would be even more reluctant to learn.
After sorting through the paperwork and explaining the meaning behind all of them, they were out of the way and they could finally talk about the important issues. “The scouts have reported that the enemy will be attacking tomorrow.” Grodak said as Grall sipped his tea. “They are coming from the east and so I plan to incept them here, the Death Crevice.” Grodak pointed to the map indicating a narrow passageway.
“That would be the best course of action, brother, but,” Grall said, as he ignored the movement behind Grodak. The enemy had thought Grall blind, and better for it. As long as they thought the spy master was blind, he had the advantage, “my spy’s have reported that he’s coming from the east, there are also enemy forces that have infiltrated our ranks, and I just received word that they are planning on attacking neighboring tribes first to weaken our forces.”
Grodak looked at the map for a moment wordlessly. “Are your spy’s sure of this?” He asked, a part of him had obviously hoped Grall would say no.
“Yes.” Grall said bitterly, he hadn’t wanted to drag this on for long but Grodak was ready to do so. “Fluffles is the one who reported it, among other things to me.”
Grodak grunted in satisfaction, out of all Gralls spy’s, Fluffles was the one he trusted the most. “Since he owes you a life dept,” Grodak said, “he would be the last one to lie to you.”
“That is correct, brother.” Grall held up his hand and Fluffles, along with three orcs, appeared behind Grall. “Did you manage to finish what you needed to do?”
“Yes, my lord.” Fluffles purred.
“How many left?” Grall asked, holding his hand up to stop Grodak from asking questions.
“Only one, my lord.” Fluffles smiled his cat like smile, his tail flicked smacking an orcs leg.
“Good.” Grall said as he returned his attention to Grodak. “Some of the spy’s that I had previously said had infiltrated our ranks, were aiming for your life today, brother. Only one remains-“
Before Grall could finish talking an orc jumped down and tried to attack Grodak with a dagger. Grodak easily caught the blade and slammed the orc onto the floor, crippling him.
“Next time,” Grodak said through clenched teeth, “tell me when my life is under attack.”
“If I told you that a small party of spy’s were after your life,” Grall said in an exhausted tone, “you would’ve killed the ones you could and, unintentionally, allowed the others to escape, thus allowing them to regroup and plan for the next attack, this time with more men.”
“And what makes you so sure of that?” Grodak growled.
“Simple, brother,” Grall stood motioning for his spies to take the man away, “while we were talking, I had already sent men to capture the one responsible for their infiltration, whom we had just found before our little talk.”
Grodak grunted in annoyance, he hated it when Grall was right, and hated it even more when Grall proved that he’s more capable then Grodak, even though Grall never once thought that.
“So, who is it?” Grodak asked, he had started to settle down. “Who is the traitor in our midst?”
“No one.” Grall said coolly. “A man had infiltrated our tribe the day we returned and killed a blacksmith, assuming his identity, and smuggling others of his elk in. There was never a traitor, just an unlucky blacksmith.”
Grall started for the door when Grodak stopped him. “Was anything you said here true?”
“Of course, brother.” Grall said sounding more hurt then he felt. “Why would I lie about that?”
Grodak let go of his arm and backed away. “When are they going to attack?”
“Just as your scouting party said, they attack tomorrow.” Grall walked out leaving a contemplating Grodak to himself.
Grall knew just what Grodak was about to do, he could not risk one of the other tribes being attacked for joining the tribal alliance. If that happened, then the other tribes would pull out and a full-on tribal war would begin. Grall motioned for Fluffles to come to his side.
“Let all our available men know,” Grall said as he watched the sun begin to peek over the horizon, “to be ready to march west.”
There was no response, none was needed, as Fluffles disappeared into the shadows of the houses.
Grall walked through the camps that they had set up to intercept the enemy. If only there was no need for blood shed, Grall thought bitterly, at least we are being smart about it and waiting for them to come to us.
The days march was tiring and most of the men who were present had to hurry in order to be ready for the march. Some were around campfires talking about battles they fought in, others resting off the day’s fatigue. Gralls spy’s, however, were tracking the Harsha’s movement, and keeping wild animals from bothering the troops.
Grall knew that it would take time for Grodak to organize his troops, because of this, Gralls spies had managed to reach the campsite long before Grodak even managed to set out. Grall looked to where one of his spy’s were stationed as a look out, thinking about how the tribe is better off now that the two brothers are working together to combat this threat.
“What are you looking at, little brother?” Grodak walked up to Grall, a large sack on either shoulder.
“I’m checking to see if our lookout is doing their job.” Grall said as he turned to face Grodak. “Your men are too tired to keep look out and if we are attacked-“
“We won’t be.” Grodak said with such confidence that Grall thought he knew something he didn’t. “Your spies are keeping tabs on the enemy’s movement and will notify us if they get close. Have confidence in your men, little brother.”
Grall scoffed, since when did Grodak become such a big supporter of the spy network, he wondered. “I have confidence in my men, but I do not have confidence in the fact that nothing will go wrong.”
Grodak let out a chuckle, he seemed like he was enjoying his time in the battlefield. “Just relax for now, little brother.” He said as he tossed the two bags onto a pile behind Grall. “If you don’t relax before a battle, you’ll only cause yourself to lose sleep.”
Grall smiled, those were his father’s words to them just before a battle. “You know I don’t sleep, right?”
“What?” Grodak asked in astonishment. “Oh, you mean you have trouble sleeping at night.”
“No,” Grall said watching his brother’s reaction with such amusement you would think him a child, “I mean I do not sleep at all. I do not feel the need to nor am I able to even if I wanted to. I am always in a constant state of awareness when I’m on the mortal plain.”
“Wait.” Grodak said, Grall could see the wheels turning in his head as Grodak spoke. “That means you can only sleep when you’re in the Shadow World?”
“That is correct, brother.” Grall said as his attention went back to their lookout. “The chieftain’s connection to the Shadow World isn’t just for communicating with our elders, it is also a way for them to rest when they overexert their selves.”
Grodak seemed thoughtful of that for a moment, this was the first time Grall spoke so openly of the Shadow World. “That explains how you’re able to get so much done.” Grodak said now turning his gaze to the lookout.
“You shall learn soon enough what the Shadow World can do.” Grall said starting for the lookout, who was giving the signal letting Grall know his spies were returning.
“What do you-” Grodak started to speak but was interrupted by Grall.
“We shall speak more on this once the battle had been settled, brother.” Grall said as he continued forward starting to make haste. “For now, I have something to attend to.”
Grall climbed the cliff side with little to no effort, such a feat was easy for one who lived in the shadows all their life like him. “Report.” Grall said as he reached the lookout.
“The men send back word that the enemy is half a day’s march from here, my lord.” The orc reported, sneering at having to call Grall lord.
Grall ignored the obvious disdain the orc felt towards him, it mattered little anyways if he served the tribe as he was meant to. “Good.” Grall said as he scanned the area ahead of the camp. “Make sure to report their findings to Grodak when you are relieved of your position.”
“Yes, my lord.” The orc replied in disgust.
Won’t be long now, Grall thought as he left the lookout to do his job, hopefully Grodak won’t be a fool and allow more bloodshed then to need it.
Grall made his way through the shadows at a rapid pace, faster than most living or nonliving creature could, to the front lines where his men were keeping track of the enemy’s march. After a short discussion on what to do if the enemy decides on a full out attack, he hurried back.
I’ve done all I can now, Grall thought as he stood outside the camp, it’s now up to you Grodak. You and a lot of luck.
The enemy tribe, Harsha, stopped a hundred yards before reaching the allied tribes army. A mountain of an orc rode forward, this was the chieftain of their tribe, Harn. He was a head taller than Grodak, silver hair, and wore only a loin cloth to cover his privates.
“Grodak.” Harn shouted pulling on his horse’s reins. “Grodak, if you are half the chieftain the rumors claim you are, then come out here and face me in a one on one. I issue edict on you, Grodak.”
Grall listened to Harn and smiled, an edict was when two chiefs fought, and the winner of the battle merges the loser’s tribe with their own. The rules to an edict was simple, you fight with your bare fists, no armor or weapons of any kind are allowed. Any interference on the part of either party would mean an automatic execution of the chief. To refuse a challenge was the same as giving up your position as a chief.
Grodak, who was in full armor, handed his sword to an orc next to him and stepped forward unstrapping his armor as he walked, letting it fall to the ground. “I accept your challenge, Harn.” Grodak said as he took off the last piece of armor and began to take off his clothes.
Harn dismounted his horse and handed the reins to a young orc. “Take good care of her for me.” Grall heard him say.
Grodak and Harn approached each other and took the others forearm, a sign of respect among chiefs, then the battle began. Fists were flying in a flurry as each orc fought for their lives. For a moment it looked like Harn would win until Grodak brought Harns head down onto his knee with a sickening crunch.
The battle had ended with a half beaten Grodak standing victorious.
Grodak sat on the ground in front of the limp body of Harn, a medic attending to his wounds. “See to it that they are being treated with respect.” Grodak spoke to one of his soldiers.
“Yes, chieftain,” the soldier said, “and what shall we do with the body?”
Grodak appeared to be thinking about something before shaking the thought out of his head. “Give him the honor a warrior deserves,” Grodak spoke slow, raising his voice louder for all to hear, “and carry him home on his shield.”
As the crowd erupted into cheers, one of Gralls scouts came to him and whispered a surprising secret to him. “Hmm.” Grall said as he pondered what to do. “Have you told anyone else about this?”
“No, my lord.” The orc scout appeared frightened by the question.