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A Princess Of Zamarra
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A Princess Of Zamarra

by Kieran Coghlan

Zamarra is a chaotic land. Since the scattering of the grand army of Ostragoth the Grim three years ago, his former followers have been forced to make their way in life as best they can. You, like many orcs who fought for Ostragoth, have found your calling as a sellsword to the highest bidder. Sometimes you have been hired to protect caravans or to raid them, to serve wizards or to slay them. Sometimes you have fought alongside your fellow orcs in these endeavours and sometimes against them. It is all the same to you so long as it pays well and gives you an excuse for some bloodshed.

You are camped in the Iron Hills, recovering after a recent battle with some dwarfs when you spy a gryphawk winging its way towards you. The bird drops a rolled-up parchment at your feet then departs with a loud screech. Unfurling the scroll, you see it is an invitation written in Orcish. It addresses you by name, stating that your abilities are well known to the wizard Morgrek. Morgrek has a task of utmost secrecy for you and several other notorious orcs. The invitation asks that you come to a cave in the Lesser Ilkhans in four days’ time where Morgrek will tell you more of what he wishes from you. You scrunch the parchment into a ball and smile. You have heard of this Morgrek though last you knew he was a servant of good so why he wishes to avail of some orcish brutality is a mystery to you. Still, he would not be the first good wizard to turn over a new leaf and the invitation spoke of great rewards if you were to accept. Eager to put your sword arm to devastating effect once more, you gather your things and head out of the hills, heading west to the distant mountains.

Your journey is largely uneventful, bar a tangle with a hill giant and a run-in with an out-of-luck human adventurer. You manage to supplement your provisions by hunting various creatures, devouring them raw and feeling their warm blood slide down your throat. On the fourth day of your journey, you come to the foothills of the imposing mountains, their peaks bathed in the amber light of the setting sun. It does not take you long to find the cave described in the invitation, a great gouge in the mountainside. A rope dangles from an overhanging rock above the tunnel entrance, with an inscription carved in Orcish next to it: ‘Ring the bell.’ Shrugging, you pull on the rope and a clanging noise reverberates from somewhere far down the tunnel. When the echoes have faded, you hear the tread of footsteps coming out of the darkness towards you.
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