“I missed the last ones, but I got you.” A booming deep, and unearthly voice spoke over Glen’s shoulder. It was the kind of voice that gave him chills, and the kind that even penetrated Sandra’s screams. Glen got to his feet, dragging Sandra to her feet with him and backed the two of them away from that voice. The creature stood nearly nine feet tall and was so horrible to look at, Glen’s stomach nearly let go and Sandra could not stop screaming. Glen had to turn Sandra’s face into his shoulder where she did not have to look at the thing to get her quiet. This brute, and the word ogre came to Glen’s mind, was covered in warts that sprouted little hairs that looked more like cactus spikes than hairs. He had several boils on the surface of his skin, if it could be called skin, and a few of those were burst and leaking a pink and yellow puss. It had a mouth so full of yellow teeth that Glen could not see the back of that maw or count the teeth if he wanted to, not the least because of the green drool that was leaking out over the edge of the lower lip. It also had a small spark in the eyes that glared at them as if to say that this creature was alive and aware; but to be sure, it was a very small spark.
“I am going to have you for an afternoon snack,” the ogre roared, and he hefted a club the size of a small tree.
Glen heard the words “don’t panic” in his mind as his mouth sprang into action, though he was hardly aware of what he was saying. “Well, if you are going to have us for tea, make sure there are plenty of biscuits, and by all means keep the kippers to yourself. Those things are almost as slimy and disgusting as you. Gods you are an ugly beastie.”
The ogre paused and lifted his head. “Do you think so?” He spoke with some doubt in his voice.
“Oh, yes,” Glen assured him. “Very ugly. Frighteningly ugly. You heard the woman screaming, didn’t you? Now, let’s get on to tea, you lead the way.”
“Huh?” The ogre paused and Glen’s words caught up with his little brain and he guffawed. “Have you for a snack.” He guffawed again, and believe me, that is a sound you never want to hear. Glen had to swallow the bile to keep it from coming out and Sandra had to bite her lower lip, hard, to keep the screams at bay. “Say, now.” The ogre stopped laughing and a terrifying looked crossed his face. “Hold still.” And he lifted the club.
Glen’s eyes got wide, but he was looking a little to the ogre’s left side, and he pointed dramatically in that direction and yelled, “Look!” The ogre turned to look.
“What?” He wondered, but by the time he turned again, Glen had grabbed Sandra’s hand and they were running as fast as they could down the path. “Hey!” They heard that yell behind them and then heard the tromp, tromp of giant footsteps, following. Glen wanted to say run faster, but he was fairly sure they could not run faster. Sandra did not want to say anything. She was focusing too hard on her feet. With all that, it sounded like the ogre was gaining on them, but shortly they ran into something, or I should say another thing they hardly expected. It was a wall of men, all dressed in dark armor, looking like ancient soldiers, and they all had spears pointed in their direction. Glen was prepared to stop, but at the last minute the men made an opening in the wall and Glen and Sandra raced through. The opening quickly closed. Glen heard the twang of bow strings, and while Sandra collapsed to the ground, he found enough strength left to jump up and holler. “Don’t hurt him.”
A second volley of arrows came, the ogre having stopped on the first volley. Most of the arrows landed in front of the ogre as a warning for him to turn around and go back where he came from, but one of the arrows went straight into the ogre’s shoulder. The ogre looked more surprised than anything else, and while the arrow did not penetrate deeply, when it fell to the ground some blood followed it. Glen knew someone was not following orders. This time he really shouted. “I said don’t hurt him!”
The archers were off to the sides of the wall of spears, hidden in trees and behind rocks. As Glen shouted, he heard a man moan and someone, or something sounded like it fell to the ground. Glen could not be concerned about that just then. Instead, all of his concern was on the ogre who he now felt was like a poor child in need of protecting, as odd as that might have sounded. If he had thought about it, it should have been strange to think that way about a brute that was trying to eat him, but Glen was not thinking at the moment. He was too busy pressing up to the back of the wall of spears and speaking to the horrifying beast. “Prickles, go home,” he said. “Go home, Prickles. You need to go home right now.” He told himself that he did not want to see anyone get hurt, and it was not hard to convince himself of that.
“Go home?” Prickles the ogre was trying to figure out what he was hearing.
“Go home.” A man stepped up beside Glen, and while Glen did not look at the man, he figured it was probably the commander of this troop of soldiers.
“Go home, Prickles,” Glen repeated, and the ogre nodded.
“Go home,” the ogre said. “Go home.” He turned and walked back the way he came, his long legs taking him quickly out of view.
Then Glen breathed for all of a second before two of the spear carrying men grabbed him by the arms. “Bring them.” The man who had been standing beside Glen commanded, and they moved to where Sandra was also being held against her will. Glen and Sandra were directed as to where they were to fall in line.
“This is getting too weird.” Sandra finally got a word out. She pointed at the men’s faces and Glen realized, for the first time, that all of the ears were classically pointed and these were not men at all.
“Elves,” Glen named them and Sandra shrugged as if to say that she was adjusting, that she was not surprised and that maybe she would never be surprised again.
“And the beast?”
“Ogre,” Glen said, but then they had to concentrate on walking because they were moving up into the hills.