tagSci-Fi & FantasyThe Missing Dragon Ch. 04

The Missing Dragon Ch. 04

byLien_Geller©

Author's Note: Thanks be to Krissta for editing duty. Thanks to everyone else for your enduring patience. Hope you enjoy!

*****

Ulf Bloodwrath was studying a wooden penis, and he wasn't quite sure why.

It had begun when he'd reported to the training fields earlier that morning only to find Ulag, the proving master, bearing down on him like an oncoming hurricane. The old orc had then spent a good ten minutes bellowing loudly in Ulf's face about the dangers of defacing the training equipment before shoving Ulf into the armoury. It was then that he'd first seen Nullik and things started to make some sense. His friend, pack mate, and occasional bane of his existence had been sat waiting after having already received a loud scolding from Ulag. During the night it seemed that someone had crept inside the proving grounds and had scribbled some very scandalous suggestions about the questionable presence of master Ulag's testicles across the training armour. They had also taken the time to carve several of the fighting clubs to look like male genitalia. Because of this, Ulf found himself in the odd predicament of regarding a large wooden carving of a shlong, wondering what in the almighty shit-pits was happening.

He looked up from the wooden pecker and narrowed his eyes at Nullik.

"It wasn't me!" Oddly enough, Nullik seemed to be quite genuine for once. He was a consummate prankster, but he couldn't lie about his antics without bursting into laughing fits. Not even to save his life.

"Well who else would be this idiotic?" Ulf grumbled before walking over to the bucket of water and taking out one of the rough scrubbing cloths to begin cleaning up the mess.

"I don't know, but I want to find out."

"So that we can beat them senseless for getting us into this mess?"

"Actually, I was thinking of buying them an ale and swapping suggestions." Nullik grinned as he regarded a chest plate that poetically suggested Ulag had enjoyed several improper dalliances with mountain goats.

"Nullik, so help me if I find out this was you I'll-"

"It really wasn't! I know I like a joke, but I'm not exactly this . . . eloquent."

"No. No you're not." Ulf grunted and picked up another chest plate to start scrubbing.

It took the pair of them almost the entire morning to clean off the obscene writing from the armour and then to go out and carve some new training clubs to replace the ones that had taken on a phallic appearance during the night. Nullik was clearly the chief suspect, and given his past actions Ulf could hardly blame Ulag for suspecting him. As the leader of Nullik's pack, it was Ulf's duty to share the punishment. It hadn't exactly helped that his pack mate often stopped to show him some of the more imaginative insults scrawled on the armour with a tone of gleeful reverence. It was like watching an amateur craftsman admire the work of a master.

Annoying as that was, he didn't truly believe that Nullik was the culprit. For one thing, Nullik's usual pranks weren't quite so overt. So he told the younger orc to get some lunch with the rest of the pack whilst he took the final box of wooden trouser snakes to the jungle to be burned. Obviously, Ulag wanted the matter taken care of with discretion and Ulf didn't want to get even further into the proving master's bad side. In truth, he didn't particularly want to get caught carrying a box of dong-shaped weapons around the camp at any rate. Things like that tended to start rumours.

He made his way alone out along the path to the forest, feeling his stomach rumbling in protest at walking in the opposite direction of where his lunch was waiting for him. To pass the time, he thought of numerous ways to beat the living snot out of the phantom trickster that had gotten him into so much unwarranted trouble. He found a quiet and secluded spot and used some kindling and flint to set the box of wooden man-rods alight.

That was when the hand reached out from within the foliage to grab his shoulder.

Reacting without thought, he shifted to the side and grabbed the wrist of his would-be stalker before twisting around to lock their arm in place in an attempt to render it useless. The move was instinctive, well practiced and far too old fashioned to work on the owner of the hand. As Ulf tried to lock the arm, his assailant gracefully flipped backwards to render the twist useless and bent her arm to smash an elbow into Ulf's face. The stunned expression on him was priceless. All that remained to be done was a simple hook of her heel behind his leg, followed by hard shove to send him careening off balance and falling down onto his back.

He recognised the sultry laugh that followed and it immediately set him at ease. That relief only lasted a moment, and he quickly tensed up again as the fear and excitement of battle was replaced with embarrassment. He felt a pleasant weight descend upon him and the world stopped spinning to allow him to see the beautiful jade coloured face of Ulla Strongblood resting over him. She pinned him to the grass effortlessly, pushing his wrists down against the earth over his head. It gave him quite a view of her plentiful chest, snugly held back by a thick strap of fur that couldn't quite contain her curves. Instead, it offered a spectacular view of her deep cleavage merely inches away from his nose.

"Yield?" she asked.

Ulf squirmed beneath her, he was stronger than Ulla and he could have overpowered her. Unfortunately for some reason his heart wasn't quite in it, especially when his struggling caused her luscious breasts to jiggle so enticingly inside her top. She grinned when she saw where Ulf's eyes were fixed and took the opportunity to quickly smash her forehead against his nose. The impact took a considerable amount of the fight out of him.

"Yield." This time she said it as more of an order than a suggestion.

"Fine! By the First, Ulla. What are you doing here?" Ulf growled the words whilst she released his hands so he could rub his sore nose.

She lifted herself up over him on her knees, settling her rump down on his lap and extending her arms above her head to stretch out in a languid victory pose over her fallen opponent.

"Nullik said you'd gone into the jungle to burn something. I followed you out and brought you something to eat, dear alpha." She turned her head and nodded to the linen bag she'd brought with her before seeing the opportunity to sneak up on him.

Ulla was one of the Runts. They were considered the weakest pack in the proving grounds, though Ulla's problem wasn't that she couldn't fight. One-on-one she could have probably taken out half of the encampment. Ulla's problem was that she couldn't listen. Teamwork was an almost alien concept to her and she'd been through five other packs before finally falling in with the Runts. All of the other packs had rejected her because she simply wouldn't do as she was told.

Ulf had kept her, and for that she seemed to have developed a grudging sense of gratitude. Though Ulla's thanks often came with an ass-whupping the like of which he'd just received. If he was honest, he hadn't kept her with them because she was a useful member of the pack. She was headstrong, she didn't get on with anyone, and in a true battle she would probably get them all killed.

He'd allowed her to stay simply because looking at Ulla Strongblood had quite a strong affect on him. She was strong, fast, and a great fighter. It was only right that he should respect that. At least that's what he'd told himself for the past year she'd been with his pack. Lately, however, even he had to admit that it was much more than respect that kept his eyes wandering over to her whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Those wandering eyes of his hadn't gone unnoticed by Ulla. She quite enjoyed the way he looked at her when he thought she wasn't paying attention. Others looked, of course. Why shouldn't they? She was Ulla Strongblood, younger sister of Rowun Strongblood. She would be a prized mate for any male if they could best her. She had already started getting unofficial little challenges for her affection the previous year, and had even begun to accept those challenges two months ago. So far none had managed to claim her affections in direct combat and she hadn't felt that any of them deserved for her to go easy on them.

Ulf on the other hand had kept his interest to himself for some reason. He was the noble sort, with a high name of his own to live up to as one of the son's of the warchief. He hadn't tried to challenge her because it might have made waves in their pack and he didn't want to lose her as a pack mate. It was a shame. Ulla felt Ulf's strong body between her legs and decided that she might not fight her hardest against the idea of rutting with him. When that thought crossed her mind she smiled down at him before pushing her firm rear back to rub herself against the soft lump of his loincloth. It did not remain soft for very long.

"Ulla! What-" Ulf started to ask before she leaned over him and placed her fingers across his lips to hush him.

"I just saw you out here, burning a box of suspiciously cock-shaped clubs and wondered if you collected them because yours didn't work. I'm very glad to report that I was wrong." She grinned wickedly and wiggled her hips to feel him beneath her. "It's a big one isn't it? Perhaps one made for two hands?"

"Will you quit it!" He growled and shoved her off him as she rolled over onto her back and laughed. Instead of pouncing him all over again, she reached over for her linen bag and opened it up to show him the cuts of juicy beef and fresh bread inside.

Ulf licked his lips and walked back to her, urged on by the inviting smell that had emerged from the bag. Within moments he was sat beside her on the forest floor, munching on the beef and bread whilst Ulla watched him curiously.

"I thank you for this." He said after the third mouthful.

"You'd have done the same for me."

"I would." He nodded.

"So, why are you out here burning cock-clubs? Should I be worried?"

The question got an unexpected laugh from Ulf. "No. Someone carved them out of the training clubs last night. Ulag thought Nullik was to blame because, let's face it, it's nearly always Nullik who's to blame for such things."

"Well I was going to-" Ulla started but fell silent when she saw something else catch Ulf's attention.

It didn't take long for her to pick up on it. Battle! The blood warmed at the prospect and she scrambled to her feet along with Ulf to run through the forest in the direction of the noise. The ringing clash of metal along with the grunts and yells of combat called to the young orcs like some sweet siren song.

Ulla was ready to burst right out of the foliage and attack whoever dared to fight in their territory. Instead she was only allowed to let out a strangled gurgle of objection when Ulf grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. It was just like Ulla to run straight into any fight. He preferred to at least check that they might stand some chance of winning whatever brawl they were getting into before diving chin-first into the conflict.

Peering through the leaves, he was immediately glad that he'd stopped Ulla. Largely because a full-on attack would have seen them charge out to lay waste to their newest pack mate. Gregory Hopkins, the first human to be allowed into the proving grounds in centuries, was engaging in a fierce sparring match. It wouldn't have looked favourably on the Runts to have accidentally ambushed one of their own members. They had enough problems already.

The second reason that springing out into the fight would have been a terrible idea came in the form of who Gregory's sparring partner was. Algra Strongblood was one of the most renowned warriors of her people. She had been the life-mate of Rowun Strongblood until he had fallen in battle. Despite having lost her mate and her status it was evident from watching her that she had definitely not lost her skill in combat. Ulf heard a low, dangerous growl rise from beside him. Ulla had lifted herself up having recognised Algra. Ulf knew little of Rowun, other than what his legends spoke of him. He'd never asked Ulla about her brother, but from the way she tensed with a vicious aggression at the sight of Algra it was clear what she thought of her brother's life-mate.

The pair of them stayed hidden and watched Algra deftly sidestep Gregory's strike before closing the distance along his outstretched arm to plant a solid elbow in his chest. Ulf winced, knowing full well that the young human's chest had been badly injured only weeks before on the proving grounds. The move stunned Gregory and he stumbled backwards allowing Algra to press her advantage, kicking him backwards to smack loudly against the trunk of a tree.

"Yield! Yield already. Damn it, Algra," Gregory said, woozily trying to bring his vision back into focus.

"That was pathetic. Slow. Poorly timed and you continue to use your head too much," She gave him a disapproving clout over the back of the aforementioned head in an effort to get him to snap out of it.

"Well, I did consider just taking my head off at my shoulders and putting it to one side, but I don't think that would make me fight any better."

"That is not what I mean, idiot! And if you go into a true battle like this then someone else will soon do that for you." Algra started pacing in front of him. "All warriors need to use their head in battle, but we think of the long-fight. You use your head to think of the short-fight." She stopped to jab a finger into his sore chest.

"Ow! Huh?"

Algra outright snarled.

"Wait! I'm with you. I've just never heard of the idea of a long-fight and a short-fight before. You're saying I should stretch it out? Tire out the opponent?" He looked over Algra's incredible physique. Tiring her out would probably take him several days.

"No! The long-fight is taking into account of yourself, your ground, your advantages and disadvantages. Then finding a way to use it all to put your enemy in the dirt."

"Well that's what I'm doing!"

"No, you are thinking of each punch, each kick, and each dodge. The short-fight. You are letting me set the speed, force you back into bad ground, and take all the advantages whilst you think about these things. The short-fight should not be where your mind is. Act. React. No thinking. Save your thoughts for winning the long-fight."

Gregory considered that advice and then finally brought himself to his feet.

"So, any advice for fighting the short-fight without thinking about it?"

"You already do. That is why it is so vexing that you do not."

Gregory tried to analyse that one but his brain wasn't playing along.

"What?"

"When we first met. You beat me soundly."

"Yeah, but that's because you were desperate, not thinking properly, and you didn't think I knew how to fight at all."

"I was. You saw that. You saw I was too angry and I pressed too much, so when you hit back it was . . . unexpected. I fell. It was a good move."

"Well I was pretty shocked, so it was mostly just-"

"Instinct?"

Gregory nodded, beginning to understand what she was driving at.

"When you beat the mad boy. That was instinct too."

"That wasn't shock. That was out-and-out rage."

"Why do you think orcs use our anger in battle? It helps to keep our heads out of the short-fight. Let the rage and the power and the training carry that. Keep our brains on the long-fight."

"Well, when I lost it with Freddie, I wasn't thinking about any long-fight. I was way too angry."

"Then find balance."

He nodded and took a fighting stance to indicate he was ready. Normally he'd consider which stance to start out in based on his technique but he took Algra's words into account and just opted for something that felt good and solid. She let out a low growl of intent and then launched into an attack. What did he have over her? She was a legendary warrior and he was basically a novice with very little actual combat experience. He studied her as he blocked two of her attacks and dodged the third. Instead of letting her push him back, he shifted to the side and countered. Algra blocked his strike but he hadn't meant to really take any advantage. It wasn't time yet. She was aggressive, agile, and incredibly fast. She was also probably stronger than he was. No advantages there. Wait, that wasn't exactly true, was it? She liked to spend a lot of her time during combat in the air. Her legs were always in use shifting around to deliver devastating kicks and leaping from one stance to another. That could work to his advantage.

With a plan in place, he decided to use another of Algra's weaknesses that had worked for him in the past. Low expectations. They both knew she was the better fighter and she'd gotten frustrated with him for not doing as he was told.

So, he decided to not do as he was told.

Her next blow made him shift back onto muddy ground, she pressed her advantage quickly and used his lack of mobility to deliver three hard strikes across his thigh, belly, and chest. That was fine, he was expecting them. They still hurt like hell, but it was a sacrifice for the long-fight. He used all the traction he could get to leap backwards and press his back against a tree. Algra growled with fury as he allowed her to easily take the favourable ground yet again and she leapt up to deliver a finishing kick to his stomach.

Gregory saw it coming. He'd pushed himself back to the tree on purpose. Using it as leverage to push himself off, he went straight for her as she spun in the air and delivered two open palmed blows to her side. The attack immediately unbalanced Algra and though she managed to slam her knee against his ribs, she didn't get the full force of the blow and was instead forced to expend all her energy in finding her feet once again. Gregory was shoved backwards against the tree, but Algra managed to land on her feet and stay upright, though now it was her standing in the mud.

"Better," she approved. Then she launched herself forwards again to continue the bout.

Still hidden in the foliage, Ulla grinned her approval.

"He learns fast."

Ulf nodded his agreement. Though he wasn't certain that it would be fast enough.

"If he is well, then he should return to the pack," Ulf noted.

"Well if he's as useful as he was last time, we're better off without him."

"That's not the point, Ulla. He has a duty now."

"The human is barely a week out of his sickbed, Ulf. And he looks to be training to fight rather than readying himself to run. Give him another week before telling Ulag he's ready to return."

The idea of letting the human have a holiday whilst the rest of the pack trained together hardly sat right with Ulf. He frowned at the decision and considered that Gregory didn't seem the type to back down. Ulla was right. He wasn't going to run. Then, when she reached out and put her hand on Ulf's shoulder, she made his decision easier.

"He get's a week. No more." Ulf said.

"Good, now come. We must return. Let us leave the human to his fight."

They both heard the sudden sound of a loud thud and a low groan of pain before turning back to see Algra stood over Gregory who she'd just handily dumped into the mud, face first.

"Maybe we should give him two weeks." Ulla suggested.

Ulf let out a passive and unimpressed grunt before turning away to walk back to the camp.

* * * * *

Lydia heard the familiar noises coming from within the tent of the courtesans before she even laid eyes on it. As she moved closer, she could discern the familiar deep male grunts sounding out in rhythm with her friend's almost melodic feminine moans. It did not take a mastermind to figure out what she was about to walk in on, and after knowing both of the suspected subjects for years it would certainly be weird to just drop in on them mid-coitus.

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byLien_Geller© 265 comments/ 98281 views/ 517 favorites

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