The Ogre Wars

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CHAPTER 30 AN INTRIGUING ACQUISITION

Dougal and Derry spent the following two weeks living invisibly inside the ogre city. They entered through the magically created breach as dusk fell on the night of the ogre surrender. With her magical abilities, it only took Derry a few minutes to find the portal that the ogres had used to re-enter Connacht.

The portal itself took the form of a giant rock three times the height of the leprechauns, and wide enough for ten ogres to walk through side by side.

Once through, the twins found themselves on the edge of an ogre encampment. Over a thousand ogres had already left Connacht, and it appeared that they were waiting here for their king and the rest of the ogre army.

Dougal and Derry turned and examined the portal they had just exited and found that it was a mirror image of the rock they had entered on the other side.

I can see why they wanted to leave here, Derry said telepathically to Dougal as she looked around.

The world of the ogres was a dull, colourless place. What few trees there were, were naked of leaves and had thick, rotting trunks. There were no flowers, only weed-like plants that were a dull green, almost a putrid green which was the same fusty texture of the grass. There was no birdsong, no sign of life; it was a depressing, bland existence with a pungent smell that seeped into every pore.

The last of the ogre camp guards entered the city two days before the withdrawal deadline. By this time, forty thousand desert and jungle yumboe men, women and children had been freed. Some had returned to their tribes to rebuild their lives and return to the old ways, while others had joined Pashas Ali and Yusuf, also believing that there was strength in numbers, and that the time had come for the yumboe people to unite in a single nation.

Dougal, Turloch and Fearghus had just sat down with the intention of enjoying a nice cup of dandelion tea, when a pixie guard entered the tent.

‘You have a visitor, Lord O’Shea.’

‘Send them in. And for the last time, call me Dougal.’

‘It’s an ogre, sir – I mean, Dougal,’ the pixie stuttered.

‘That’s fine,’ said Dougal, trying to hide his surprise.

‘Greetings, Do-Gal,’ said Ambiorix. ‘And shoemakers,’ he added, as he noticed Turloch and Fearghus.

‘I thought you would’ve left by now,’ said Dougal, remaining calm.

’King Teutates insists that he, Brennus, Vercingetroix and I are the last to leave. I have to admit, though, I cannot leave here soon enough.’

‘Why are you here?’

‘I have brought you a gift, Do-Gal – one that I hope will answer some of your questions about your heritage.’ He handed Dougal a book that he had been holding behind his back. ’I must go now. My king would have my hide if he knew I was here. So, it’s goodbye, Do-Gal – and may our paths never cross again.’ Ambiorix turned and left.

The three stunned leprechauns stared at the leather-bound book that Dougal held in his left hand.

‘What’s it about?’ Fearghus asked, after several seconds of silence.

Dougal pulled back the cover and carefully thumbed through the fine rice paper pages. ‘It’s a handwritten diary,’ he said. ‘It looks like it’s written in an ancient form of leprechaun.’

Dougal felt a shiver run down his spine when he saw the faintly written name Seamus O’Farrell. ‘I think it’s Seamus O’Farrell’s diary,’ he gasped, scarcely believing it.

‘It can’t be. How would an ogre come by Seamus’s diary?’ Turloch asked.

‘I don’t know, and I can’t understand why he brought it to me, but I will take it to Derry – she always paid far more attention than I did when we studied old leprechaun. Even with her knowledge, it could take months to translate.’

Fearghus looked at his friend. ‘It could be a fake.’

‘He’s gone to a lot of trouble if it is,’ Dougal replied. ‘Let’s see what Derry thinks.’

On the last given day of the ogre withdrawal from Connacht, only four ogres remained in the city.

‘If I don’t return within two hours, leave without me,’ Vercingetroix said.

‘I will act as your second,’ replied Teutates.

‘No, my friend. Now that our people have left this world, there’s no guarantee they will let you leave if they get you in their grasp again. Our people will need you, their king, to lead them when we return to reclaim what is rightfully ours.’

Vercingetroix is right,’ agreed Brennus. ‘I will be his second. It is only right that I, the first to cross swords with the wizard, am the last to leave here.’

The king nodded and said, ‘We will wait two hours. Good luck, my friends.’

As the two ogres walked out of the city gates, a familiar figure appeared before Teutates and Ambiorix.

‘What do you want now, dark one?’ Teutates snapped, irritated by her presence. ‘The Dark Queen has what I believe she wanted from the start of this disaster. My army will fight beside hers when we both gain our revenge on the fairy scum.’

‘I do not second-guess my queen. Those who do often find it hazardous to their health,’ Flamnach replied. ‘So, I don’t care whether she wanted you to defeat the wingless ones or not; I just do as she requests. Because of this, I have lived a long and very well-rewarded life.’

‘So why are you here now?’ the king asked again.

‘To make sure the shoemaker has the book.’

‘I gave it to him myself,’ confirmed Ambiorix.

‘Does he know what it is?’

’If not, he’ll find out soon enough. Do-Gal O’Shea is a remarkable young man. I believe he is destined for greatness, and he’s one even your Dark Queen would be wise to fear. I have come to respect him – even like him.’

‘What will he do when he finds out what’s in the diary?’

‘He wants nothing more than to find out the heritage of his people. When he finds out what it is, he will not be able to help himself. Do-Gal will try and free them.’

‘Then my queen has no need to fear him, does she? However, I wouldn’t want to be the one to suggest to her that she should fear anyone.’ A moment passed before the duan fairy continued. ‘My queen intends to hold a feast in your honour, King Teutates, when you arrive in the Dark City.’ The words echoed, but Flamnach was no longer there.

’I hate the way the dark ones do that,’ said Ambiorix, his eyes scanning where she once stood.

Vercingetroix and Brennus walked resolutely forward, the giant ogre determined to settle things between himself and the shoemaker. But before the pair were halfway to the huge armed camp, Dougal, Derry, Niamh and the other two ever-present brownies met them.

‘It’s nice that you’ve taken the time to come and say goodbye,’ Izzy said mockingly.

The ogres both ignored the brownie’s quip as they moved to stand directly in front of Dougal.

Vercingetroix spoke in a solemn tone. ‘I have come to settle matters between us, shoemaker.’

‘There is nothing to settle,’ replied Dougal.

’You have dishonoured me, and I will have satisfaction.’

‘What are you talking about?’

‘You openly challenged me, and the only way to settle such matters is in armed combat.’

‘We have crossed blades in battle several times,’ said Dougal. ‘Killing you now would achieve nothing.’

‘Those exchanges were indecisive and have only increased my desire to spill your blood.’

‘Don’t be a fool. I have taken too many lives and have lost far too many friends. There has been far too much death already, and I will not kill you, or anyone else for that matter, for the sake of foolish pride.’

‘You are a coward, shoemaker, who will not fight someone his own size.’

‘And you confuse stupidity for bravery.’

‘You insult me again!’ Vercingetroix spat as he drew his sword and charged at Dougal, who stood only a few feet away.

In a flash, Dougal’s sword was in his hand, and then he vanished before the astonished ogre’s eyes.

Brennus watched as his friend dropped his sword and fell lifelessly to the ground.

Dougal materialised over the fallen ogre. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said to Brennus. ’The worst thing he’ll have is a headache when he comes to. If I had fought him honourably, he’d be dead. But as I said before, that would achieve nothing.’

‘As it happens, I agree with you, shoemaker. However, I don’t think my friend will see things the same way.’

‘I don’t care what he thinks.’

Brennus bent down and, with great effort, lifted his fallen friend over his shoulder.

An hour later, Phil landed next to Niamh.

‘They have gone,’ he said simply. ’Calètes, and the portal, is ours.’

‘Good. We can finally end this.’

Izzy cast her eyes in all directions. ‘Anyone else feel like we’re being watched?’

‘It’s your imagination, brownie,’ said Gaston. ‘You’re always looking for something to fight.’

‘Maybe,’ Izzy replied unconvincingly, shrugging her shoulders.

‘No wonder we could sense it from so far away. That’s the largest portal I’ve ever seen,’ Niamh said, when they arrived at the entrance.

John asked, ‘Do you still think you can destroy it?’

Niamh smiled and nodded as she walked up to the giant rock.

Abeodefluolicentiaproprius,’the wizard chanted, closing her eyes and placing her hands on the rock. The solid stone took on a watery appearance before shimmering and disappearing forever.

Flamnach watched as the fairy wizard slumped to the ground, exhausted after casting her vanquishing spell. The dark fairy momentarily considered killing the comrades who had rushed to Niamh’s aid and taking the remarkable wizard to her queen. For this she would undoubtedly have been well rewarded. The only thing stopping her was the power that radiated from the young female leprechaun. The power was so strong she almost glowed, but as strong as the leprechaun was, the fairy wizard was far stronger. Flamnach had known many powerful wizards in her life, but she had never seen one who could make a portal disappear as if it had never existed at all.

Who is she? she thought.

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