Warlords of Chaos
by Robin Gordon
The Dwarves forgot their quarrel and turned their axes against the Orcs. Amphibolas, Jellybean, and even Frobisher drew their swords and struck out at the enemy. The fight was fast and furious. A leering Orc lunged at Jellybean. He thrust wildly with his sword and suddenly found that he had killed it. Then, before he could free his blade, a heavy weight landed on him and bore him to the ground. Snotrag's grinning face hung before his bleary eyes.
"I'm gonna cut off yer 'ead an' stick it on a pole," he sneered.
Jellybean saw him raise his scimitar, then, as it began to fall, a snarling, snapping something whirled through the air and sank its teeth into the back of Snotrag's neck. It was the Gollum-creature. Snotrag screamed and turned on his attacker. They rolled over, biting and scratching, like fighting cats or dogs. Jellybean had no time to see what happened next. A fresh wave of Orcs attacked and he was fully occupied defending himself.
The sound of battle brought fresh Dwarves. The bray of their trumpets terrified the Orcs and put new heart into Roggi's stalwart fighters. Dwarvish axes swung and Orc heads rolled. The Orcs gave up the struggle and fled, but as they ran a group of them swept up Jellybean and carried him off.
Oggi saw what had happened and rushed to the rescue, calling the other Dwarves to help.
Roggi held them back. "Retreat to the citadel!" he called.
"We must rescue Jellybean!" Oggi roared.
"We cannot risk Dwarvish lives for an alien. Sound the retreat!"
The trumpet blared. The Dwarves formed into a column and turned their backs on the fleeing Orcs.
"You can't!" roared Oggi. "He has the Belt!"
"The Belt?" snapped Roggi. "Sound the charge!"
Again the trumpet blast was heard. The Dwarves swung round.
"Rescue the Belt of Bollin!" roared Roggi.
The charge of the Dwarves bore all before it. Fleeing Orcs were cut down or thrust aside, and Jellybean was snatched from his captors with ruthless efficiency and borne off to safety.
The Gollum-creature fawned around him.
"Nice Jellybean. Good little Jellybean. All safe, yess. Gollum."
"Gosh!" said Jellybean. "I thought I'd had my chips then.
"What's chipses?" asked the creature.
"Chips, my supersonic rescuer, are slices of potato, all crisp and luscious, and they crunch and melt in the mouth - spivish rare!"
"Chipses is good to eat?"
"Precious is hungry. Is the nice Jellybean hungry? We could roast some dead Orcses."
"Not likely. They'd taste repulsant."
"Enough talk!" snapped Roggi. "You! Show me the Belt."
"OK," said Jellybean, and began to unbutton his shirt. Oggi stopped him.
"Jellybean bears the Belt to our father, King Goggi."
"Do not anger me, brother," grunted Roggi. "You owe me and my Dwarves your lives."
"If you hadn't quarrelled with us we would have got clean away from the Orcs," roared Oggi. "Your stupidity, brother, almost lost us the Belt of Bollin."
"My stupidity!" thundered Roggi. "Who was it entrusted the Belt to this alien?"
"It was the Elf King," said Amphibolas, "and let none call him stupid or thoughtless. Does not your own tradition say that the King's eldest son receives the Belt of Bollin only from the hand of his father? How else could Oggi bring it? Would you have him receive it from King Vendendros Quebnopollondrax Iltuvinophoros, or would you have it worn by an Elf?"
"Certainly not!" growled Roggi.
"Then," said Amphibolas, "let us leave this quarrel and make haste to the Dwarf King's citadel where all will be explained."
"No Elf may enter save as a prisoner," answered Roggi.
"As you please," replied Amphibolas.
"Never!" roared Oggi.
"I shall submit to being bound," said Amphibolas. "I rely on you to speak for me before the King, Oggi."
"Very well," said Oggi, "but Jellybean and Frobi shall go free."
"Agreed," said Roggi, "but the Dwarf-Elf must die."
"That," said Amphibolas, "is for the King to decide. I do not agree to be bound unless you swear that no harm shall come to any of us except at his command. I urge you to decide quickly before the Orcs attack again. There is something about Jellybean and Frobisher that seems to inspire them with undying hatred."
"Then," exclaimed Roggi, suddenly forgetting his grim wrath, "then they are honoured guests indeed. Not only they but all of you shall walk free into our citadel. If the King objects, then let my head answer for it."
"Come then," beamed Oggi. The brothers clasped hands and led the way towards the Lone Mountain.
The sentries were astonished to see Oggi and his strange friends. Someone rushed off to take word to the King, and the travellers had scarcely reached the safety of the Dwarvish galleries before King Goggi himself and his fat little Queen, Ulla, came bustling down to see.
The King and Queen embraced Oggi, patted him on the back, generally fussed around him, and hustled him along the passage to the throne room, where the Dwarvish lords were already assembling, buzzing and rumbling with busy speculation. Jellybean and his friends followed, not quite sure if they were expected or not.
The throne room was a vast cavern hewn out of the living rock of the Lone Mountain. Its walls and vaulted ceilings were decorated with Dwarvish carvings of the most intricate and skilful workmanship. Here Elves and Dwarves strolled amid flowers and trees, there Dwarves were engaged in mining and smelting, in making swords and shields in working silver chalices, golden chains and precious jewellery. Other panels showed Dwarvish kings and lords putting to flight the trolls and dragons of antiquity, or taking part in sports like spear throwing, hammer throwing and weight throwing. There were no racing pictures: Dwarves are not built for speed.
Towards one end of the room was a raised dais on which stood the King's throne with the Queen's beside it. Both were hewn from solid blocks of marble, carved with the myriad forms entwined of plants, birds and animals, chased with silver, gold and duril, and decorated with precious gems.
Here King Goggi and Queen Ulla took their seats. The King proclaimed the news of Oggi's return and called upon him to make his report.
The faces of the Dwarves grew grave as he told of his journey. The Grey Mountains, once their home, were swarming with Orcs, and their peaks were now the domain of the cruel and stupid Trolls. The Red Cliffs too had fallen to the Orcs. They had plundered all the Dwarvish stores of gold and jewels and were engaged in laying waste the land outside. They had even crossed the river into the realm of the Elves.
"There I went too," said Oggi, "in search of news of the Belt of Bollin. It seemed so peaceful in those woods that I grew careless and was captured."
"By Elves?" called some of the Dwarves.
"By Orcs!" roared Oggi. "By a ghastly crew of marauding Orcs led by an ugly hobgoblin called Snotrag. I was rescued by Elves - by Elves and by Children of Men! See! Here are the children of Men, Jellybean and Frobi, and this is the captain of the Elves. Amphibolas he is called."
"You are welcome, Jellybean and Frobi, and you too, Amphibolas," said King Goggi with grave courtesy, ignoring the hubbub that had arisen. "Little did we think to welcome an Elf here, and even less to see Children of Men - but who is this?"
"We found him under the Grey Mountains," said Oggi, "and I will tell of him later for he does not come into the story yet. I was rescued from the Orcs and taken to the stronghold of the Elvish King."
"As a prisoner?" cried the Dwarves.
"As a guest," replied Oggi, "and there I spoke with King Vendendros, who returned to us the Belt of Bollin."
"Where is it? Where is it?" roared the Dwarves.
"It is here!" thundered Oggi pushing Jellybean on to the dais.
Jellybean blushed as he felt the eyes of the Dwarves turned upon him, but he tried to remain cool, calm and collected. He unbuttoned his shirt and opened it to reveal the gleaming belt of duril wrapped twice round his waist.
The Dwarves burst into loud and prolonged cheering. Jellybean unfastened the Belt, then turned, and, dropping on one knee, presented it to King Goggi. The King took the Belt. The cheering fell silent. He looked at it, turned it in his hands, examined the workmanship and the movement of the links. Then he beckoned to Oggi, who came and knelt before him.
"Here is the Belt of Bollin," he roared. "I give it to my son, Oggi, as Kings of Dwarves have always given it. It shall be his to wear in battle, and, if fate is kind,to pass on to his son."
Oggi took the Belt and the cheering broke out anew.
Next King Goggi, in the name of all the Dwarves, welcomed Jellybean and Frobisher to his kingdom, clasped the hand of Amphibolas, and swore to renew the ancient alliance of Dwarves and Elves.
"There is but one sorrow to spoil this happy day," he said. "The Elves have sent us back our greatest heirloom, but we cannot return theirs. When we found the body of Prince Vigonas the Jewel of Ilirion was gone - taken, for all we know, by some foul Orc and hidden in their stinking den, or cast carelessly away as a thing of no value. If we had it I would gladly return it to the Elves."
"I know where it is, Sire," cried Amphibolas. "The Dwarf-Elf has it. Its chain is about his neck."
"Is this true?" roared King Goggi. "Come here, Creature!"
The Gollum-creature approached, trembling.
"Do you have the Jewel of Ilirion?" demanded the King.
The creature made no answer. Jellybean moved to his side.
"He means the Precious," he explained.
The creature clasped its hands over something hidden in its ragged clothes.
"Give it to me!" ordered the King.
"No! No!" wailed the creature. "It's ours! It's ours! It's our precious, yes it is. It was our birthday present."
"You stole it!" the King accused.
"No! No! We kept it safe. Yess, kept it all snugsy and safe and hidden from the nassty Orcseses. Yess."
"You stole it from the body of Prince Vigonas!"
"Not stealed it. No! The poor Elvses was dead. He didn't need it. So we taked it. We didn't let the nassty Orcses get it. We kept it all snugsy-wugsy safe - and it kept us safe too, didn't it, Precious? Oh yess. Nassty Orcses couldn't see us, could they?"
"Enough of this!" cried Amphibolas suddenly. "The creature must give up the Jewel or it must die!"
"Kill it! Kill it!" cried some of the Dwarves.
The Gollum-creature tried to hide behind Jellybean.
"This thing should not have been allowed into our stronghold!" bellowed an important-looking Dwarflord. "It is a creature of ill-omen. It should not have been allowed to look upon our King!"
"Kill it!" Kill it!" roared many voices.
Jellybean drew his sword.
"Come on, Frobi!" he cried. "Get your sword out, you prehistoric wreck!"
"See! They draw swords against our King!" bellowed the important-looking Dwarf. "Defend the King!"
"Enough! Quiet!" roared King Goggi. "Put your swords away, all of you!"
Grumbling, the Dwarves obeyed. Jellybean and Frobisher sheathed their weapons too.
"Hot tempers spill blood," said the King.
"Why do they want to kill Gollum?" demanded Jellybean. "He's done no harm. He rescued us all from the Orcs."
"His name is not Gollum," said Goggi sadly. "I feared it might be he and now I know. I will tell you who he is. Some fifteen years ago my nephew Bollin, son of Ollin, who was remarkably tall for a Dwarf, fell in love with Ilirion, the elder of the daughters of King Vendendros of the Elves. Our peoples had hoped much of these two, for the old prophecies said that a time would come when a new Bollin would arise among the Dwarves and a new Ilirion among the Elves, who would renew the greatness of their peoples. Many Princes named Bollin have there been among the Dwarves, and among the Elves since the time of Ilirion the Fair there have been a score of Princesses who bore her name - but never had there been a Bollin and an Ilirion born in the same year.
"Other prophecies there were too," continued the King. A Dwarf-Elf was foretold, the offspring of a marriage between a Dwarf and an Elf. His coming would signal the end of this world of ours, Tuvi as we Dwarves say. Iltuvion the Elves call it.
"This is one of the prophecies:
There shall be born of Dwarf and Elf
an Elf-Dwarf who within himself
the skills of both his peoples blends.
The Dwarf-Elf comes, and then there ends
the world we know, Iltuvion,
its beauty and its kingdoms gone.
Then Trolls will come from ice and snow,
and Orcs from worlds we cannot know.
The waters of the rivers dry,
the forests sicken, fall and die,
and Orcs and Warlords all destroy,
till King shall be that Elf-Dwarf boy.
"The love of Bollin and Ilirion meant the ruin of the kingdoms of both Dwarves and Elves. It was opposed implacably by both Kings, but the lovers, rather than part, renounced their honour and their position and fled together into the wilderness. There they had a child - and soon after his birth the first Orcs appeared.
"Many Dwarves and Elves believed that the evil could only be overcome if the Dwarf-Elf were killed, and, though the two peoples soon quarrelled, parties of Elves and Dwarves often went out to hunt him down. Bollin and Iltuvion fled further into the wilderness and must have been killed by Orcs. How the child survived is a mystery, but this companion of yours must be the Dwarf-Elf, Gollin, son of Bollin, the grandson of my brother Ollin."
"Well you can't kill him if he's your own ... whatever it is ... great-nephew or something," cried Jellybean.
"I cannot kill him," replied the King of the Dwarves, "but he must be held in prison before he does more mischief."
"He hasn't done any mischief!" cried Jellybean.
"The prophecy ..." murmured the King.
"The coming of the Dwarf-Elf has caused all our misfortune," proclaimed the important-looking Dwarflord. "If he is not killed, one day he will be King!"
"Then perhaps he'll be the one to drive out those putrid Orcs," cried Jellybean shrilly.
"After they have made him King?" scoffed the Dwarflord.
"It doesn't say that they will make him King, only that they'll carry on destroying the world until he is King."
"Exactly!" boomed the Dwarflord. "He must be killed."
"But don't you see?" cried Jellybean. "If he never becomes King they'll never stop destroying. He's the only one who can defeat them."
"What?!" roared the Dwarflord. "That gibbering, whimpering creature? Kill it now!"
He drew his sword and advanced on Gollin. Jellybean drew his sword too, and so, after a moment's hesitation did Frobisher. The pompous Dwarflord stopped. He had not expected to meet armed resistance. He hesitated.
"Look!" he cried suddenly. "These two are Dwarf-Elves too. They must be! They must be the creature's younger brothers. Kill them all!"
At this Oggi thrust the Belt of Bollin into King Goggi's hands, drew his battle axe, and sprang to Jellybean's side.
"If any Dwarf harms a hair on the heads of Jellybean and Frobi," he roared, "my axe shall hew his neck."
"And I too," said Amphibolas, drawing his sword, "will fight to defend my friends."
Suddenly Gollin sprang forward and snatched the Belt of Bollin from King Goggi's hands. Jellybean and Frobisher saw him clasp the Jewel inside his ragged shirt as he leapt away.
"He's gone!" cried the King.
"It is the Jewel," cried Amphibolas.
"Hunt the creature down!" thundered the hostile Dwarflord, swinging his sword wildly.
"They're all off their chumps," murmured Jellybean to Frobisher.
"Completely and utterly cracked," replied Frobisher.
The two boys could see Gollin quite clearly, standing a few paces away from the Dwarflord, buckling the Belt of Bollin around him. He drew his sword and clasped the Jewel again.
The Dwarves gasped. They saw him again, but now he stood tall and straight. The Belt of Bollin gleamed about his waist and the Jewel of Ilirion sparkled upon his breast. Even his voice had changed.
"I am Gollin, son of Bollin and Ilirion," he cried in clear and manly tones. "The Belt and the Jewel are mine by right. I am both invincible and, when I choose, invisible. If any Dwarf hurts a hair on the head of Jellybean or Frobisher, my sword will find him. He will be meat for the Orcs. Put up your weapons!"
"Put away your swords and axes!" roared King Goggi.
The pompous Dwarflord, looking rather green about the gills, obeyed with alacrity. The other Dwarves followed suit, some with relief, others grumbling.
"This is my great nephew, Gollin, son of Bollin," thundered King Goggi, "and these are his companions. If any Dwarf harms a hair on the heads of any of them, he will be cast out from the citadel to take what chance he may among the Orcs and Trolls."
Many Dwarves began to cheer. The self-important Dwarflord slunk away.
"Now, Dwarves!" proclaimed King Goggi. "Let us celebrate the return of my son Oggi and my great nephew Gollin in the traditional Dwarvish way. We'll have a feast!"
At this the Dwarves cheered even more.
The guests were led away and shown to their bedrooms to get ready. Jellybean and Frobisher, to their delight, were given a room to share. Amphibolas and Gollin went off to separate chambers. The two boys pulled off their shoes and stretched out on the soft beds while Dwarvish servants bustled about. Two baths were brought and filled with hot water from great steaming jugs.
"This is the life, Frobi," observed Jellybean.
"Too true. Super-wizzo-duper! Smash-on, in fact - and they've all stopped shouting. I think Dwarves must be even noisier than boys."
"When I'm rich," murmured Jellybean, really mega-rich I mean, I shall lie on a bed like this while servants and things tootle around at supersonic speed pandering to my every whim."
"So shall I," answered Frobisher.
"How are you ever going to get to be mega-rich?" demanded Jellybean.
"Well, how are you?"
"Very well, thank you, how are you?"
Just then piercing screams cut through the air.
"It's Gollin!" cried Jellybean. "Come on!"
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