Chapter 5
Beastlike Men

AT 1082 (AZ 1454) - Late Summer
Outside the Ruins of Oris, The Darklands

There was perhaps no place on all the earth Orguz would rather not be. However, no King worthy of the Iron Crown could lead from anywhere but the front. He may not have been worthy of the Iron Crown at all, but he could do no less than act as if he were.
His plan was to lure the humans into a narrow valley where they could not easily mass their numbers and the poor footing would confound their horses and their engines, but several war-bands were not content to wait and broke away to claim first blood. Even with all their numbers, they were woefully outmatched and now matters were worse.
The valley remained their best hope. Small parties of a hundred or so were sent in waves to draw the humans in. The valley had two ways in, through the northwest and the east. Orguz's main force waited near the east entrance while warriors sent on ahead would bring the humans in through the northwest.
By morning of the second day, the countless white specks could be seen in the distance. It would seem his strategy was working. So long as they took the bait and entered the valley, the Orghim warriors would at least bloody them well in exchange for their lives.
From his perch, Orguz pointed ahead with his scepter and said, "Forward."
Horns blared, drums beat, banners waved, and the war-bands moved forward into the valley. In the distance, the horns of the humans could be heard as well. They had a harsh, unpleasant sound to them. Even from far off, they stung Orguz's ears.
As the Orghim war-band moved into the valley, so too did the humans, but then they did something Orguz was not expecting, something that sealed their doom. The human formation split into three parts. The middle proceeded down into the valley, while the left and the right advanced on either side. Soon they would be surrounded with no means to escape.
All they could hope to do now was make a great slaughter of those who came to meet them in the valley. The war-bands rushed forward, the warriors clawing past one another in their eagerness to be blooded. All the while, the humans marched forward in their neat ranks and files, neither slowing nor quickening their pace. The Orghim screeched their warcries, but the humans sang. They sang as if they were celebrating some feast. They sang for joy. Even when the two sides clashed, they continued to sing so long as there was still breath in their lungs. What mad creatures were these?
And then it came from either side, the rain of arrows. The arrows did not discriminate between friend and foe. Where man and Org were intermingled in the heat of battle, both fell prey and yet they humans in the valley did not curse their comrades or retreat. Instead they continued to press forward, pushing through the dead until they too would fall.
One of the thralls bearing Orguz's palanquin was struck dead by an arrow, causing the others to lose their balance. The palanquin toppled over and Orguz fell to the hard ground. The fall racked his frail body with pain. Two thralls who tried to come to his aid were stricken with arrows. There was nothing he could do but lie there and watch the slaughter unfold all around him and wait for his turn for death claim him.
The songs of the humans and screams of the dead and dying made for hell worse than any the gods might have prepared for him. Death would be a mercy.