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Neal Erickson provided a teaser for the second week of the Solum campaign.

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Xerik paced the length of his tent impatiently, jingling lightly in his armor. The room wasn’t large, his usual tent had mistakenly been destroyed by drunken troops and this was next largest thing the half-orc chieftain had on hand. Maps were spread across a table with figurines marking deployments of men and supplies, one figurine in particular was gripped tightly in Xerik’s left hand. His pink skin, flushed with frustration, glowed an unsettling red in the light of the candles swinging gently above the big table.


“Send him in,” barked Xerik in the gutteral tongue of father’s people.


A flap to the tent moved aside for a moment while a tall greenish skinned warrior walked into the room, giving a salute and standing at attention. Six and a half feet tall with tight bulging muscles, tusks six inches long, and a claymore strapped to his back, the orc breathed heavily as his eyes adjusted to the relatively intense lighting prefered by the half-orc.


Xerik stopped pacing and turned his fierce eyes on his lieutenant, starring at him for an uneasy moment before flatly growling out “You lost the child.”


“A child” came the defensive reply.


“Oh, and just any child manages to kill a dozen of my men and escape into the night?” his voice was tinged with sarcasm.


“We’ve sent out search parties. We know they’re headed north, and they can’t travel far before the forest ends. We will find this child, and those that protect it. Their lives will not last much longer.”


“You had better.” The pacing resumed a few moments before coming crashing onto the table with both fists. “How could you be so careless? Foghaven is a pathetic village not worth the time it’d take to level it. You have one week to produce that child’s arm.”


The officer stood there and growled in discontent. Despite the fact he was a full head taller than his chieftain, he stood in fear of the half-orc leader - his reputation as The Bloodletter was well earned. Fegnar had seen the well mucled man’s work both on and off the field, and neither left his hands clean. “I doubt this is even the child we’re looking for. These crafty humans have dozens of children born in hiding in every town.”


“You think this is about some damnable prophecy? These people have defied us! We are the Redfoot clan, and if we let these miserable fleshbags live, who will fear us then? Every second they draw breath, they undermine our hold in this region. Our enemies laugh at us for losing a newborn, and you can’t see past the ramblings of a half dead human?” the last word oozed from his lips with disdain. Xerik walked up to his second best lieutenant and grabbed him by his throat. “If you fail me again, I will take your arm in place of the infant’s, and I will nail it above my doorway. I’ll leave the rest of you to Felicity’s men,” he smiled with pleasure and shoved the officer towards the exit. “Get out! Find them.”


Fegnar stumbled backwards, his eyes glancing at the glistening two-handed axe that stood leaned against the map table before turning and ducking under the flap that served as an entrance to the room.


Back at the table again, Xerik’s eyes swept over the maps and figurines. Tiny wooden orcs painted red were placed in the towns and outposts centered around a city named Dimmer. Across the map from them, around a point called Boren, were lead cast miniatures of towers. The mismatched pieces stood at odds from each other. Hrmph snorted the half-orc chieftain as he replaced the figurine from his left hand beside a town labeled Nogara.


“Trouble with your men?” cooed the honeyed voice of an elven female from a corner of the tent cast in shadows.



Fin

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