The Ogre Wars

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Mallaidh stood on her golden balcony, looking down at the gathering below, and smiled coldly. It was true that only a small fraction of her army was present – the courtyard was far too small for her entire army – but there were representatives of all the races that were bound by her power.

First, there were the kobolds, ugly doglike creatures, smaller and more worthless than even the goblins that stood next to them. She looked at the ly erg, the race that had red hands – red because they were permanently stained by blood from the years of death and destruction they had reaped. The ly erg had the appearance of tiny humans but were the size of fairies and were born soldiers; fighting and death was all they lived for.

Then there were the fish-headed oannes. These were new arrivals to the queen’s ever-growing army, and she was yet to judge their worth. Beside them stood the trows, a fierce race very similar to the trolls from Connacht, and next to them were the rakshasas and Sgath’s people, also known as the Shadowmen, a shape-shifting race.

‘So many to do my bidding,’ Mallaidh said to herself as she looked down on the bugbears, a race that looked similar to their distant cousins the goblins, except for the fact that they were twice the size, far more intelligent and, until the arrival of the queen’s newest recruits, had been the most powerful soldiers in her army.

King Teutates and his ogres were her latest recruits, and she smiled contently as she gazed at what would be the jewel in her army’s crown. She had encouraged and manipulated Teutates’ invasion of Connacht, knowing that it was doomed from the start. True, they had suffered far greater losses than she had expected, but it had been worth it. It had cost her nothing personally, and she had not only gained a powerful army, but had also learned how powerful the wingless ones had become.

Her army was almost ready. She now had the numbers to destroy the wingless ones and any who were foolish enough to stand beside them. But she would wait a little while longer. She would wait until the wizard had been brought to her, until she learned if what she believed about the fairy wizard was true.

It would take a year, two at most. For the duan queen, who had lived for hundreds of years, this was nothing.

Dougal stood alone on the small hill that overlooked the beautiful green valley. He looked down at the small mound of freshly dug soil.

He thought about the times he and Llewellyn had worked together, how Llewellyn had become his mentor, had taught him the secrets of building fortifications, given him his beautiful longbow, and, more importantly, had shown him that there were things in life worth fighting and even dying for. Dougal had considered Llewellyn more of a father than Connor. He knew the miner had happily laid down his life for his friends and fellow ellyllon.

‘I kept my promise, my friend. I hope you like the view,’ Dougal said. He took the miner’s faithful longbow and half buried the mighty weapon next to the grave’s headstone. He walked away without looking back, not wanting the spirit of his dead friend to see the tears that flowed down his flushed cheeks.

Two months had passed since those aboard the Menanan Mac Lir had returned home. Five leprechauns riding elephants that had been brought back from the untamed lands, along with two brownies and four fairies, rode towards the main gates of the pixie capital.

‘It’s a bit different to the last time we were here,’ said Adam.

‘It’s broad daylight for a start,’ Niamh replied. ‘And this time neither Adam nor Dylan are going to have to dress up like pixie soldiers.’

’And this time we know Amber is actually here,’ Liam laughed happily.

Dougal saw the puzzled looks on the faces of the other leprechauns and quickly relayed the story of how, just over two years ago, they had entered the city under the cover of night in an attempt to rescue Princess Amber, only to discover she had already been taken from the city.

The sun shone high and bright in the azure sky, sharing the vast blue heaven with a lone white fluffy cloud that billowed gently in the breeze.

Dougal, Derry and their friends, apart from Niamh, sat together on the highly polished marble pews inside the magnificent pixie church. Derry had shrunk the leprechauns down to the size of fairies so they would easily fit inside.

Dougal casually looked around the church and saw Finn, with the rest of the fairy royal family, sitting on the left-hand side of the front row; knights of the pixie ruling council took up the right-hand side. Even King Rupert was present, although he sat alone in a private part of the church, to the side of the altar.

For the briefest of moments, Dougal felt sorry for the once-powerful pixie king, who was now that in name only. Rupert sat alone, as he always did these days, shaking his head ever so slightly, muttering away to himself.

The pixie king lifted his head and looked around the church. He visibly stiffened when his eyes came to rest upon the giant. Of all those he hated – and many of them were currently in the church – it was the giant he despised the most. He would never forget the fear and indignity he had felt when Dougal held him upside down and threatened to drop him from the highest point of the fairy city walls those few years ago.

‘Can you see him?’ he asked the empty air beside him.

‘I can, my king,’ came a reply from nowhere, a reply so soft that only the king could hear it.

‘Kill him. Kill him for me now.’

‘If I do that, your highness, they will know I have returned to your side, and we are not ready for that yet.’

’It would almost be worth it. But you are right we must bide our time. I warn you, though: if you fail me again, wizard, it will be the last thing you ever do.’

‘I will not fail you, my king,’ William replied, as he watched the fairy wizard stand at the back of the church with Amber. As much as Rupert hated Dougal, it paled in comparison to the hatred William felt for Niamh, and he would do anything to gain his revenge, even if it meant helping Rupert regain his control of Tudorland.

Sir John and Sir Arthur stood at the altar, talking casually, but stopped as organ music began to fill the air. Everyone in the church stood. Sir John fidgeted before turning to face his bride, who had started her walk down the aisle – a walk that was about to mark the beginning of a new era.

’Do you, Princess Amber Tralee of Sarasidhe, take Sir John Loxley of Huntington to be your husband?’ the bishop asked.

‘What?’ said Amber. ’Me? Marry a pixie? I do.’

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