Grodak looked around franticly, trying to find the source of the familiar voice. "Brother," Grall said covering his mouth to try and hide his laughter, "the stone in your pocket."
Grodak looked to Grall in confusion, then realization as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small stone the size of a marble.
"Grodak," the voice continued, "can you hear me?"
"I can hear you," Grodak said as he examined the small rock in his hand, "but how can I hear you, Imp?"
"I enchanted some stones and sent them to those who survived Whitewater, as a way for us to communicate." Imp sounded strained, almost like he just suffered some great pain. "Grall should have one as will."
"Oh," Grall said with a smile, "I threw it away the moment you sent it to me."
"You, what!" Imp shouted; the anger evident in his voice. "Do you know how long it took me to make a single one of those stones and you threw it away."
"It clashed with my bandages." Both Grall and Grodak burst into laughter as imp scowled on the other side of the rock. "I- I'm kidding Imp," Grall said as he wiped a bloody tear from his cheek, "I have it right here." Grall pay his pocket as if Imp would be able to see him do so.
"Ok," Grodak said as he stood up tight and wiped the tears from his eyes, "enough joking. How are you supposed to be able to help us transport twenty thousand orcs?"
"Not transport," Imp said, playing at his words as if he is about to make a big reveal, "but, teleport."
"Ok." Grodak said with a lack of amusement.
"Sounds good to me." Grall replied.
"…. Are you two nuts?" Imp screamed from the other side of the rock. "This is teleportation. Do you know how many scientific minds have risked it all to find or create such technology?"
"We already knew you could teleport people, Imp." Grall said as he watched the tribal orcs bustle to pack their things.
"Yep," Grodak agreed, "you even teleported Grall onto the battlefield back in Whitewater."
"…. Do you want me to teleport your orcs or not."? Imp didn't ask, his voice sounded exhausted.
"Yea-" Grodak began to say.
"Give us a week." Grall interrupted. "Orcs don't like not do they trust magic. We need to explain the situation to them before we can give the ok."
Grodak looked at Grall quizzically but said nothing. "Ok," Imp said, "just call out my name while holding the rock and I should be able to hear you."
As Imps finished talking, the magic in the stone faded. Grodak watched Grall for a moment in silence.
"Why did you tell him to wait a week?" Grodak asked.
"Because, brother," Grall said, "it will take five days for us to make the trip to the elven kingdom and back, two extra days in case anything goes wrong and we are delayed."
Grodak continued to stare at Grall in silence as he pondered what he said. "You don't want Imp to know about Talengars God item."
"That is correct." Grall said in an exasperated tone.
"Imp would want to test it," Grall said, "he would want to see if he can figure out how the God stone works and if he can replicate the source of its power."
"Hmm." Grodak said as he stood thinking about what Grall just mentioned. "You may be right, but how do we know he won't try the same thing later on down the road?"
"It won't matter then," Grall said eyeing a couple passersby, "we would already have Talengars treasure and secured a place for our people to live."
"Alright, little brother," Grodak said with a smile, "you have a point and I agree with you. Now how do you plan to get us to the elven kingdom and let our people know about the mass teleportation…. Is that what it's called?"
"Does it matter brother?" Grall said, hiding his smile. "I will have my spies inform the chiefs and generals of each tribe to be prepared for the teleportation in one week, and in return, they will then let the rest of their tribe know."
"Sounds like a solid plan." Grodak said unable to hide his amazement. "Now how are we going to get to the elven kingdom?"
"By foot of course." Grall said with a grin.
Two days later, Grall and Grodak stood outside a forest. "Are you sure this is where the elven kingdom is?" Grodak asked eyeing the trees with disdain.
"If the stories are to be true, brother," Grall said as he started forward, "then the elven kingdom resides in the heart of this forest."
"I hope you're right." Grodak groaned and started after Grall.
As they walked, movement could be heard all around them. Grodak, on edge, pulled his sword from its sheath and kept looking about. As they drew deeper into the forest Grodak noticed that there was constantly movement in the corner of his eye, but when he looked, nothing.
The whole situation had Grodak on edge as he carefully followed behind Grall, who seemed to be entirely calm.
"How can you stay so calm in this situation?" Grodak asked as he ducked under a low hanging branch.
"Simple, brother," Grall said, "I am not afraid of trees. If we do not make the mistake of attacking them then the most, they will do is guide us."
"Guide?" Grodak asked, his voice barely audible from the fear. "What do you mean guide?"
"Take a look around us, brother, and tell me what you see."
"That's a silly thing to say, there are only… trees…" Grodaks came to a halt as he realized the path they took to get here had disappeared within the trees and the only way to go was forward. "How?"
"I told you, brother," Grall said as he continued forward, "the trees are guiding us."
As Grall finished his sentence a single tree ran pass him. Grodak, seeing this, screamed out of fear and began to charge forward, Grall followed shortly behind. As they ran the movement of the trees became ever clearer as they rushed to create a passageway and block off any other route.
Grall and Grodak ran forward through the trees, dodging branches and boulders along the way. They ran until they finally reached a clearing, the trees moved behind them trying to go forward, but a strange force prevented them from doing so.
"Where…" Grodak gasped, trying to catch his breath. "Where are we?"
Grall, panting, pointed in front of them, to a black towering castle. "We are on the outskirts of the elven kingdom."
Grodak looked to where Grall pointed and gasped, the blackened stone structure stood tall and imposing. From the outside it didn't look like it was a city that was abandoned a thousand years ago, it instead looked to be a mighty tower that held only the most precious treasures in the world. Life.
"Come, brother," Grall said standing up and heading towards the entrance of the castle, "we need to begin our search immediately, as to make it back to the scar before the deadline."
Grodak begrudgingly agreed, he hated that Grall was right, he wanted to just sit in the grass and admire the craftsmanship of this marvel. Grodak walked forward, following after Grall.
As they walked through the gates, Grodak saw the carnage that had been hidden by the walls. Houses had been burned, bodies littered the streets, and there was no sign of life. In the center of the courtyard sat a statue of an angelic figure. She had long pointy ears, held a scepter in one hand and a green orb in the other. This statues marble white structure appeared to be the only thing that remained undisturbed by the carnage.
At the bottom of the statue laid a golden plate. Written on it was the words, 'Here lies the greatest of us, Queen Xierma.'
"Xierma?" Grodak asked looking to Grall.
"Yes," Grall said, taking in the statue, "the queen who is said to have brought about the fall of the elves."
"How did she do that?" Grodak asked as he read the gold plate again.
"I do not know, brother." Grall said with a hint of sadness that caused Grodak to look at Grall in concern. "The story's do not say what she did, it only tells of how she acted in haste and became the catalyst that put the elves where they are now."
Grodak was about to say something but a mystical voice cut him off. "If you seek passage to Talengars God orb, then answer the riddle I present thee."
"In the dark night flies a many-hued phantom.
It soars and spreads its wings
above the gloomy human crowd.
The whole world calls to it,
the whole world implores it.
At dawn the phantom vanishes
to be reborn in every heart.
And every night it is born anew
and every day it dies!
What am I?"
"Hope." Grodak said with confidence.
"And dreams." Grall added.
Grodak turned to Grall for a moment, saying nothing, then turned back to the statue as the mystical voice returned. "Both answers are correct." The disembodied voice said. "You may enter and speak with the guardian of the God orb."
The statue began to glow a bright green color, the light almost blinding Grodak, and started to move. The sound of stone scraping on stone vibrated off the charred remains of the buildings, piercing the ears and forcing the orc brothers down to their knees, clinching at their now ringing ears. They tried desperately to block out the sound and protect their ear drums. The sound continued long after the statue stopped in place.
A few moments went by, if either of them had tried to say anything it was drowned out by the noise. Grodaks ears began to bleed, as he cried out in pain a small hand touched his and the sounds of stone stopped.
"Oh, poor child of Talengar." The small voice spoke softly, almost lovingly as the small hands rested upon his. "You may relax now, I have stopped the vibrations and healed you of your wounds."
Grodak glanced up and saw a red haired elven maiden. His heart skipped a beat as he knelt on the ground, frozen, unable to reply. He stared into her beautiful emerald green eyes as many thoughts crowded his mind, eventually taking his mind over. The thoughts evaded all of Grodaks reasoning and sense.
Then, a single thought, that had underwent the entire rampage, stood out in Grodaks head. Grodak realized how much he had been drawn to the idea, the feeling, and shocked by his carelessness. Grodak had never expected to find something so soft and warm in the middle of this ruined kingdom. Grodak found love.
Grall looked up with a start, the sound of stones had stopped so suddenly, it made his head spin. In front of Grall, Grodak was knelt on the ground and a small elven woman with fiery red hair stood over him, her hands caressed either side of Grodaks face. She was speaking softly to him, so softly Grall had to strain his now healed ears to hear.
"You came seeking the God orb, am I correct?" The elven woman asked, not to Grall, of course, but to Grodak, the man who held all her adoration and attention. If he didn't know any better, Grall could've swore the two were lovers.
"I do not seek the God orb," Grodak said with a sigh, he lovingly caressed the elven maiden's hand with his, "I seek salvation for my people."
The elven maidens smile deepened as she placed a kiss on Grodaks forehead. "Just like the first time we met."
Grall stared in confusion for a moment then cleared his throat. Grodak jumped at the sound and turned to Grall.
"You mind introducing me to your ghostly girlfriend?" Grall asked, to the naked eye, the elven maidens appeared to be just that, but in front of Gralls true sight, he could see that she was nothing more than a spirit.
Grodak turned back to the elven maiden, eyes wide. "I… I don't know." Grodak stumbled over his words as he spoke.
The elven maiden chuckled. "This is your first time meeting me," she said, her eyes ever focusing on Grodak, "but it is not my first time meeting you." As she spoke a look of satisfaction displayed on her face.
"How?" Grodak asked starting to stand, pulling away from her loving grasp.
"You…" She paused; a look of sorrow crossed her face as Grodak left her grasp. "You will find out how one day, just not today. I am not allowed to tell you."
Grodak took a step forward, a part of him longed to be in her embrace once more, to hold her in his arms and never let go. "Why?" He asked, his voice masked with the longing he felt for her.
"I… I will tell you why when our business is concluded here." She said, Grall watched as she tried desperately to force herself to not touch him, but she couldn't help but to brush a long strand of hair behind Grodaks ear.
Grall pushed his way between the two of them, planting his feet firmly in the ground, as to not get shoved out of the way. "Like you said, my lady," Grall spoke sharply but understandingly, "let's finish our business here first. Once we have safely transported our people where we need to go and retrieved Talengars treasure, you may have all the time you want to speak on this matter."
For the first time since the elven maiden appeared, her eyes went to Grall and she gasped sharply. "Grall?" She asked, her eyes focused on the bandages that were wrapped around his eyes. "What happened to you?"
Grall remained silent for a moment, not allowing himself to show his surprise. "It matters little what happened to me," Grall said in a flat tone that bothered Grodak, "what does matter is that we retrieve the God orb and make our way back to the scar."
"Yes," the elven maiden said, her eyes never leaving the bandaged area of Gralls face, "of course, but first answer me this. Why haven't you healed yourself using the Shadow World?"
Grall flinched at the mention of the Shadow World and the knowledge she possessed of it. Grall debated for a moment on how to best reply to her question before deciding it would be best to just tell her. "It's because the Shadow World is where this happened, I cannot be healed when the inhabitants of the Shadow World damage me in such a way while I am there."