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[Story] Ogres in the Snow
#1
Prologue: Filiminjaru is my brother. We had been searching for our sister, Rosu, who was taken by Alliance raiders ((see The Bloodsnake Brothers)). We had heard of a troll girl in Pyrewood, so we had been checking that out. Other than fighting off a bunch of wolf people, though, we found nothing ((That's another story)). Then, we thought we would check out the some human camps in the Alterac Mountains. This is what happened.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

As the day dies in the Alterac Mountains, snow roils in the gray gap of sky between gray cliffs. The rim of a full moon just crowns the ridge, visible, then gone, covered by racing clouds. Out of the blotches of gray in the sky, a deeper shadow pinwheels, emerging and disappearing in the stuff of the blizzard. I stare up at it, wondering what it is, hearing nothing but the storm. The shadow resolves into arms and legs, and a snarling Crushridge Ogre lands beside me. Instantly, he swings his club. I dive toward the side of the narrow defile up which Fili and I had been struggling.

More ogres are coming down the defile. Their grunts and roars are distinct above the howling blizzard. I hear Subaka growl, and quickly glance down hill. The large, brown cat is on an ogre. Its neck vomits blood. Fili has his rifle to his shoulder. He bucks and a puff of smoke disappears into the snow eddies. The report echos off the stone walls, and the slug hits the next ogre in the forehead. I hear the ogre beside me roar. In one motion, I turn and raise my shield. A hammer blow sends shocks down my body. I stagger, but whip the dagger from my belt. The ogre raises his club high over his head with both hands. I drive my shield spike into his chest, and stab the dagger deep between ribs under his left armpit. He grunts and topples into a bank of snow with a soft thud.

I face the ogres coming down the defile. Fili's rifle is firing behind me. I call on Ogoun Shango and lightning leaps into the pack of ogres. Two fall, burnt to a crisp, and several more are singed and smoking. Then, they are on me. I stab with the dagger, and block with the shield. Subaka hisses and gurgles, and I know that he is dead. I hear Fili yelling as he charges the ogres, but I cannot look. The ogres are all around me. I can smell their sweat stench from the steam that floats off their bodies. One beside me bursts into flames as I get off a flame shock. I block. I stab. I see the shadows of the ogres, thrown by moonlight on a canvas of snow. I know no more. I dream.

I dream of a giant wolf. His eyes are fire, and his breath is death. His jaws are wide open, and his slavering floods the world. The lower jaw devours the earth, and the upper rips the sky. I leap between them and try to rip his tongue from his mouth, but he shakes his head and swallows me. I am dark, and wet, and hot.

I am standing at the Crossroads. The air is hot and dry. My mouth is hot and dry, and I thirst. Then, I see an old crippled man, leaning on a crutch. An old dog is by his side. His skin is the color of the dust of the road, into which he sprinkles water from a bag.

He says, "Jabadue, you be wantin' some o' dis cool water?"

I says, "Yes, Papa. My tongue be as big and swollen as dat Ge-Rouge wolf's."

He replies, "Den you gotta be followin' my dog, here. He take you to cool, fresh water that satisfy your thirst."

And I says, "But Papa, be I dead, or be I live?"

And he says, "Son, you be both. Now follow the dog."

The old dog be trotting off, and I jog behind it. We go across the seared grass, and come to a beautiful oasis, like a emerald laying in the dust. The trees are heavy with fruit, and I pick a bright yellow one. Its fruit is sweet, but I still thirst. The old dog is gone. There is a little spring bubbling water into a clear stream through mats of fern and moss. I follow a little path beside the clear stream. It come to a lake with turtles swimming and bubbles spotting the surface. I kneel down and drink the water. It is cool and sweet, and my thirst starts to be satisfied. I hear a rustle in the trees above my head, and look up while still drinking the water. There is a large, yellow and brown snake in the tree. He opens his mouth to speak to me, but I do not understand. It is only a snake's hiss. I close my eyes and drink. The water is now salty and warm. When I open my eyes, the lake is a dull red. I know it is blood, but my thirst is gone.

I wake to ache in my body. The sun is up and bright. The sky is blue between the cliffs, and the snow shines so that I have to close my eyes. When I open them again, I am laying in the snow in the defile where the ogres attacked us. I am covered with blood. I taste the salt in my mouth. About twenty ogres are lying mangled and torn around me. The snow is white and pink and red. Subaka is there, torn in half. Fili is not.

Slowly, I sit up, stiff with the soreness and the cold. I wonder where Fili is, and whether I killed all these ogres. I wonder about the old man at the crossroads and the snake that could not speak. I wonder sometimes if we are not really who we think we are.

My troll butt is freezing in the snow, so I struggle to my feet and start to walk back to Tarren Mill.
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