The Wall

by Oliver White a.k.a. cyanide

Atrod peered out from the brush of a straggling tree, trying to ascertain what, exactly, was going on. Clearly a wall was being built, but of what magnitude? Strung throughout the mountains, these works were going on in at least 7 other passes. Was it possible the humans plan to build a barrier across all the eastern entrances to the valley?

Atrod, at first astonished, began to snicker. The half-orc guerilla imagined a dozen 'accidents' that would plague the errectors over the coming weeks. Since the pact, 12 years ago, killing of orcs by humans, and vice versa, was outlawed. Atrod didn't like killing in any case, but this insult was too much. He wanted a farm for his family. The rich land of the valley below beckoned him.

He sighed, "Dreams are costly for an Orc".

The walls were built from whatever stone was available at the time. The Lords would never allow precious bluestone or granite to be put into these mammoth constructions. The materials were needed for building the village halls, schools and mansions. No, the stone that made these walls appeared to be shale, roughly cut sandstone and various other assorted rocks and boulders obtained from nearby. How they were all held together was the question that held Atrod's interest now.

Some kind of glassy black mortar filled the gaps between each stone. Frothing pots some way down the mountain, packed around with blocks of ice, seemed to be the source of the clinging substance. The inventive ones were busy pouring sacks of powder into the pots, ringed by heavily armed guards and their Contraptions. He knew from his friends amongst the humans that something was going on amongst the inventive ones, as much from their silence as anything they had told him. Usually the chatter of new stone-making techniques, new ways to shape wood and new Contraptions was incessant. Of late, though, it was obvious that the inventive ones were keeping to themselves. They obviously felt confident of their skills now that they'd reveal their newest invention.

As night descended on the goings on, his course of action became clear. Around the pots, no torch was lit. The inventors had come up with a wonderful mortar, but it was highly flammable. Atrod longed to fire a flaming arrow into one of those pots, just to test his theory. He couldn't risk such an outright act of violence. Shaking his head at the logic of the pact, Atrod opened a pouch at his belt and pulled forth three prized items.

The first was a small child's toy, bought from an itinerant tinker. It was a wooden mouse which, when a key was wound, would crawl along the ground at quite a pace, at least for a few yards. The second was a bulb of thin glass, and the third a sturdy vial containing a vile smelling red liquid. Slowly he assembled his device. Having filled the bulb with the reddish liquid, he attached it to the mouse. Then he crept down the mountain through one of the many paths left unbarred, for the humans had quite a ways to go to keep the orcs from traveling freely.

He hid in the dark, then released his wound mouse. It traveled through the gloom , towards the ice, helped by the slope of the hill. It traveled amongst the Contraptions and guards, towards one pot. Alas it stopped short! Atrod grumbled as h e heard the mouse wind down without the tinkle of broken glass on ice.

A guard had heard the noise, and approached the sound. The poor fool became part of Atrod's own contraption as he stumbled into the glass bulb. It crunched in a pool of water, as Atrod had hoped. The reaction of the fluid inside with water was astonishing, sparks flew into the air--hot as white lightning. One of the pots, then all of the pots caught fire, blowing blobs of flaming black sludge high into the air. The guard ducked for cover, only to stumble into one of the more vicious Contraptions he had set. Ropes flung and bound the guard to a nearby pole. Atrod took the opportunity to run, but one of the inventive hurled a packet of glow-dust at him. The humans chased him, ready to prepare an "accident" for him in turn, a bright figure ducking through the rocks in the night. But he knew the mountains well, as much as he longed to leave them. Jumping onto an outcropping, he reached up and lifted himself beyond view and hid, shuddering, hoping no one would see his glimmering form.

He was lucky, still there at dawn he climed slowly into the peaks. From high above, he saw the camp was a ruin. The partial wall remained, but no work would be done on it this day. Atrod kicked at the scree. It was a small gesture, but it was a start.