Editor’s Note: Things are getting tense in Laketown! In this, the most recent episode of Luke Haines thoroughly insane parodic series attacking Baby Boomers, Dragons, Orcs, Elfs, the Labor Party, Capitalists, and, uh, well, a lot of people. So, read on! There’s about to be dirty work at the crossroads!
I made my way down from the hillock and set out resolutely towards the mountain. A cold, heavy rain began to fall as I passed the outlying tents that had been put up before the battle. These were really just the concession tents – hotdogs, steins of mead, that kind of thing. One guy was selling “I survived the Battle of the Five Armies” t-shirts, and another was selling shirts that read “I DIDN’T survive the Battle of the Five Armies,” which was a novel but questionably planned out business model.
I skirted the main battle tents and made my way out into the no man’s land that would soon form the battlefield itself, a lone figure traipsing across the empty expanse toward the towering Dwarven stronghold. It didn’t take long before I heard the sound of hoofbeats over the patter of the rain.
“Who goes there?” demanded a voice. I glanced over my shoulder to see a man in armour on horseback, brandishing a spear at me. I didn’t bother to stop walking.
“Don’t worry, I’m just passing through,” I said, irritably. “I won’t interfere with your war, you can get on with that in a minute.”
“Well… where are you going, at least?” he said, a little unsure of how to deal with a man who wasn’t there to stab anybody.
“I’m going to the mountain,” I said, “so that I-”
“Who goes there?!” came clear, lofty voice. I turned around to see an Elf, tall and lean and golden haired, astride a snow coloured stallion. He was pointing a delicately wrought spear at me, and looked like the kind of guy you just KNEW had killer abs instead of a personality.
I sighed. “Like I was just explaining to-”
“Who goes there?!” came a gruff bark. A stout, bearded Dwarf was galloping up on a pony, which would have looked a lot funnier if he weren’t also brandishing a heavy looking war axe. I paused for a long moment, just to make sure nobody else was going to interrupt.
“Like I was just explaining to Ye Olde Security Guard here, and this Elf whose name I can only assume is Chad,” (the Elf shifted self-consciously at this) “I was going to the mountain to see if I could sneak inside.”
“Why would you do such a thing?” asked Chad, suspiciously.
“I hadn’t really figured it all out, yet,” I admitted, “But my working plan was to steal something important and bring it back. That’s sort of my day job, although I’ve recently been terminated. Anyway, if there was a big enough bargaining chip in play it might convince Studly and the Mountain Dwarves to come to the negotiating table and possibly prevent some sort of mass slaughter.” I gestured at the armies assembled at the perimeter of the battlefield.
“A bold plan,” the Dwarf admitted, “But to whom would you give this stolen treasure? Handing it to the Elves would support their fatuous cause, and giving it into the hands of Men would only see them bargain for treasure that they would ultimately waste.”
“Our ‘fatuous cause’ is the preservation of the earth itself!” said Chad, indignantly. “We all share the same fantasy world, and if we don’t look after it then it could be overrun with smoke belching factories of evil! It would be a central metaphor of another story, and require a vast, unwieldy sequel! Nobody wants that…”
There were murmurs of agreement from everyone assembled, me included.
“Protecting the environment is important, but we have a town to rebuild!” said the human guard. “We need the treasure to build schools and hospitals!”
“This is typical!” spat the Dwarf. “You only think of yourselves, and that kind of discrimination is exactly what we’d use the treasure to combat! It’s time Dwarves had a voice. Racism the single biggest issue facing the world today!”
“Fixing racism has to wait until nature is no longer under threat!” cried the Elf.
“We could teach children about both if we had some funding for a decent school,” the Man pointed out.
“Yeah, teach YOUR children,” said the Dwarf, “in YOUR fancy schools that we can’t get access to!”
“Woah, woah, woah!” I said, holding my hands out in an attempt to placate all sides. “These are all important issues, guys. They are. But the argument shouldn’t be about which issue is the most important. There are literal monsters out there, and they’ve been emboldened by recent events. I don’t mean hypothetical monsters, I mean actual orcs and trolls and goblins, summoned up through arcane magic and dedicated to nothing but the misery and suffering of others. And if we’re not careful they’re going to roll over all of us while we waste time fighting amongst ourselves.”
“…You have a point,” the human conceded. The Dwarf and the Elf nodded, sullenly.
“Can you wait a while before your suicidal plan?” asked Chad the Elf.
I looked up at the mountain. “I don’t think Studly or his fortress are going anywhere,” I nodded.
“I suggest we summon our respective leaderships and meet to discuss this,” said Chad. The other two murmured agreement. That was how, ten minutes later, I found myself towelling off in a hastily erected negotiating tent. The round table consisted of the Wizard Corbyn, the High Elf Keanu, Grumpi the Dwarf Lord, and the Mayor of Laketown, whose burlap armour dripped quietly after the rainstorm.
“My Lords,” began Corbyn, “I propose that we begin to discuss the possibility of the concept of a draft resolution to theoretically bring about a motion for the vote on a cessation of hostilities.”
There was a silence and a creaking of chairs.
“What was that thing you were saying outside?” Keanu asked me.
“Orcs!” I said. “Big, angry army of objectively evil beings. Growing all the time, heading this way, and they’ll kill us all if we don’t put our differences aside.”
“Aye, that is true,” said Grumpi, whose name was distinct from anything else you or your lawyers might be thinking of.
“Nobody wants the Orcs to win,” nodded the Mayor of Laketown.
“So…” I continued tentatively, “What would happen if we all just stopped bickering for a minute, recognised that we ALL have good causes and that they will ALL need to be addressed, but just spend the immediate future concentrating on stamping out the forces of literal evil?”
“…We would outnumber them mightily,” acknowledged the Mayor.
“Good. Okay. How about we all shake hands, agree to just kill orcs for the rest of the day, and then meet back here tomorrow?” I suggested.
Grumpi clanged his axe down on the table and thrust out a meaty arm. Keanu rose gracefully and placed his long, pale hand on top. The Mayor of Laketown squelched to his feet and closed his hand over the others. The Wizard Corbyn had dozed off.