*Note: There is an interactive Twine version of this story here

 

Ellie hears of attacks happening and rumours of Orcs and crazy tales. She leaves Round Tower to go to Prince Morgan. She wants to protect Danny, her Shetland pony. The Orcs hate horses and are rounding them up and killing them.

 

Ellie decides to pretend the orcs attacked her home to make Morgan take her request for protection seriously. She meets Morgan, a rich prince and angered by this news, he plans to attack the orcs. He just needs weapons and supplies, and maybe some help from an experienced soldier.

 

He goes to the Square to get supplies. The Square is the most important marketplace in all the land. People travel from near and far to trade goods and horses there.

 

Ryan is there. He is an old mercenary with an eye patch and a wooden leg. A veteran of the Orc wars. He runs the Square.

 

Morgan tells him what’s happening. That there’s talk of Orcs again. Ryan says he hadn’t heard anything, but if Morgan wants help maybe he should go to Roisin, the queen of the Horse Kingdom near Clondalkin.

 

Like Queen Medbh before her, Roisin is a fair and just leader, famed for her accuracy with the bow, and feared across the country. Ryan says she must be building an army, because he sold thousands of horses to her.

 

Morgan begs Ryan to help but he refuses again. He points at his eye, and tells a story.

 

“When I was a young man I lived near the Liffey in a quiet farmhouse with my family. When the war began I wanted no part of it. Until they came for us. I lost my wife and two daughters in the first invasion. When I was out tending the horses, the Orc Chief Grizzlar came and burned down the farmhouse, my family asleep upstairs. Everything was lost in the fire except my horse Ted.

 

I swore revenge and became a great soldier. I fought my way deep into the Orclands, my troops destroying all resistance. I found Grizzlars base and burned it to the ground. But when my chance came to destroy Grizzlar, he was too strong for me. He took out my eye and bit my leg. Infecting me with Orc poison, which rotted away my leg. I had it chopped off a month later. I have no fight left in me. Now I just want to make money.”

 

I am a prince, Morgan says, and I can promise you land and wealth if you come fight with me, or at least show me the way to Roisin and the Horse Kingdom.

 

Ryan says he will only show the way. Do you know the way Morgan says.

 

On the way to the Horse Kingdom they bump into Vina, she is wounded. She tells them she was travelling to the Round Tower from the Dublin mountains but there really was an Orc attack and she barely escaped.

 

Ellie is distraught, she admits that she lied. The group forgive her.

 

At night when they make camp. The horizon glows orange with the fires of villages being pillaged by orcs.

 

When they arrive at Roisin’s castle the guards gallop up on black stallions, grab Morgan and arrests him. Roisin has a bounty out on Morgan’s head because he wouldn’t swear allegiance to her. He’s seized and thrown in the dungeon. The rest escape and hide inside the castle.

 

In the dungeon Morgan meets an old prisoner. A sorcerer who is being forced to experiment on himself and create a mythical potion. Morgan has heard about the potion. It is said that whoever drinks the potion can control the horses and give them special powers. The potion only works on a chosen few.

 

Roisin takes Morgan to her throne room to talk to him. He tells her about Ryan and that he might be strong enough to drink the potion. She agrees to free Morgan if he goes out to find Ryan.

 

Ryan agrees to go see Roisin.

 

When they are at the castle gate a messenger arrives, with orc arrows in his back, he says that the orcs have overwhelmed South Dublin, only the Horse Kingdom is free. Roisin’s castle will be attacked at dawn.

 

After talking with Roisin for a long time. Ryan decides to drink the potion the next morning.

 

A flaming arrow shoots through the window, wounding Morgan. The Orcs are attacking early.

 

Ryan looks out the window, the ground is black with orcs. Giant trolls tear up trees and throw them at the horses who are beginning to stampede.

 

Ryan drinks the potion and it works on him. From the castle tower he starts to control the horses. Vina, and Morgan rush to their horses and join the Horse Kingdom soldiers. Together they push back against the orcs.

 

Ryan waves his hand over Danny, Ellie’s horse, and he grows from a Shetland into a huge Friesian, Ellie hitches him to a giant sulky full of archers, and roars into battle.

 

Ryan directs a huge stampede, including his horse Ted, to run alongside Morgan, into the flanks of the onrushing Orcs, pushing them back into Lucan, where they retreat across the river Liffey.

 

Ryan jumps onto Ted, and joined by Queen Roisin, he gallops after the Orc Army, he spots the Orc Chief Grizzlor and draws his sword, Roisin readys her bow, takes out hundreds of orcs as they wade through the river.

 

In the middle of the Liffey Roisin takes on Grizzlor, he fells her with his axe and rides towards Ryan.

 

Morgan, Vina and Ellie arrive and together with Ryan they slay Grizzlor. The Orc army turns to ash which turns to nothing in the river. Ryans power subsides and he takes Roisin in his arms.

 

“My time has come.” She says “I must leave you. Be brave, be true to yourselves and true to the horses. Carry the the flag and you four will be great leaders of the Hinterland.”

 

We promise to carry the flag, they say.

 

Ryan, Ellie, Vina and Morgan return home. They are welcomed as heroes and become the leaders of the Horse Kingdom. They are know as the fearless four, brave protectors of The Hinterland.