very last of human sport. Remember, now they’re outlaws. Even their own people won’t accept them as we are apparently trying to make peace. So, in the interest of personal honor, they must attack. Should be fun!”
She smiled and became a bit anxious for human sport. She had never been involved in this sort of thing, but was ready for whatever came. She was highly skilled in the art of war hammer battle, nearly as good as Grognor, she felt.
Grognor leaned over to her as if reading her mind. “Sometimes greatness is a skill worked on, forged during the times of early development. Not everyone is a master from the beginning. Practice makes perfect? Maybe not. But diligence builds greater and greater skill. Never give up. The fruits of your labor will be realized when you least expect. I have no doubt that your hard work will pay off and you will have the chance to smash a human’s head before we’re done.” He grinned, pleased with his new spouse.
“Ha! Maybe we should contest, see who can smash more!” she said, challenging his experience and superior skill.
“Oh, really? Then why don’t you enter the games with me? In fact,” Grognor started, raising his voice so all could hear, “I hereby challenge any of you to beat me in the games! Come on! Will you let me be the only one to…play… with the humans?”
There was only a moment of silence, then the entire army began roaring with exchanged challenges. Grognor was pleased, indeed. Despite the Chieftains’ objections, the warriors would participate. It was a minor victory for him.
The army made their way down Deepforge Valley across the recent battlefield full of exploded carts and dead humans. The narrow river that ran near the wide trail was flowing swiftly.
“The snows are melting,” Grognor said, watching with amazement at the white capped waters rolling down.
As they camped the first night, Grognor and his bride cuddled up near the campfire and stared at the bright star-filled sky.
“Wow, look at Armadia tonight,” Grognor said.
Teelena gazed up as she finished a long drink from her flagon, the army partying around them. “The rings are spectacular, aren’t they?”
One of the gnomes sitting around the fire looked up. “Hey, look at that, you can see it already!” He pointed to a different part of the sky.
Grognor and the others sitting around the fire looked where the gnome was pointing.
“The rogue Sun!” Teelena said, amazed.
A small point of red light, no brighter than the average star, sat in a place where there normally wasn’t a star.
“Let me go get my portable telescope,” the gnome said, and got up to unload his pack.
“Last time it came into the system was ten thousand years ago,” Grognor said, staring up at the motionless point in the sky.
“Wow, we truly are living in an interesting time,” Teelena said, cuddling up again to Grognor.
“Yep, nobody alive now has ever seen it, and will never see it again,” the gnome said as he set up his telescope. He adjusted and fine tuned the instrument for optimum viewing. “There you are! Hello beauty!” He smiled as he peered into the optics. “Sire, My Lady, you must see this!” He backed away and motioned to the telescope.
Grognor and Teelena stood up and took a look. Grognor motioned for Teelena to go first. She giggled and did so.
“Wow!” Teelena said, “this is incredible! It looks so close, you can actually see the spots and flairs!” She backed away and looked up at it without the telescope, and nodded to Grognor to look. “What’s your name?” she asked the gnome.
“Forgive me, My Lady. My name is Epsilon Opticon, Engineer and Master Astronomer.”
“Well Mister Opticon, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve never seen you around Deepforge.”
“My Lady, I spend most of my time in the observatory on the top. I’m one of the Astronomers, you see. We search the skies for knowledge. This is amazing, though. We knew it was coming soon,