When I awoke, I found myself staring into the blood-red eyes of an orc. In a panic, I reached for my kukri, only to find my sword-arm trapped beneath me. Frantically, I beat at the creature with my other fist, but it did not react. It did not move. It did not blink.
It was then I realized that the orc crushing me, pinning me to the ground, was dead. Relief surged through me, and I heaved the lifeless corpse to the side. The gaping wound in its side no longer bled, the green blood blackened and congealed in a pool around us both. I lay there a moment, breathing deeply and thanking Gadar I was still alive. Despite the stink of the creature, those mouthfuls of air were some of the sweetest I had ever tasted.
When I finally stood and looked around, what I saw was carnage. The dead littered the ground, human and orc alike, their forms frozen in the final agonizing moments of their lives. Fires still burned in small patches, and the stench of burning flesh rose with the tarry black smoke. The raucous sound of ravens and vultures squabbling over the flesh of the dead was the only noise. All else was death.
My mouth and nose felt as though I had eaten sand for every meal of my life, dry and cracked and painful. I reached for my canteen, which still contained a precious swallow of water, but found I could not move my sword arm. It was then I realized, it was not because my arm was trapped that I could not move it, but the grievous wound I had received. Blood leaked from a gash in the upper arm, and it hung dead at my side. Numbed by shock, pain now returned bright and sharp.
I fumbled at my kit, dragging out the implements of my craft. Bandages, scissors, purified water, forceps, needle, thread…all the things used on the field of battle to staunch the wounds of a soldier. I had spent much of that fight trying to keep my Brothers alive, binding wounds in the thick of the fighting. It had not helped much.
With only one good arm, it took time for me to clean and bind the wound, and by the time I finished I had broken out in a cold sweat and felt as though I had run twenty miles in full armor in the middle of Hamas. I just wanted to sleep, to rest awhile to gather my strength again. I knew that I couldn’t though. I remembered now what happened. The battle. The orc hordes. The route.
We had lost. Which meant that this land was now controlled by the greenskin horde. If I were discovered here, I would be lucky if I were simply killed outright. I did not want to consider what might happen if they decided to keep me alive instead.
So, as night fell, I stumbled west. I did not know how many of my Brothers escaped, but if any did, they would go to Kimohidaka, to warn the people there of what we had faced. I would join them there, to face this evil. Now, I just had to make it.