Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mexta

The night was coming to an end, dawn was breaking. The attack on the village was about to begin. The grunts surrounding her were getting restless, just like she was. The battle rage was upon them all. Growing until nothing could hold them back anymore.
     Mexta was the only fury in this band of Orcs. The only female warrior. One might think that the grunts would disrespect her for not performing her honorable duty as a mother, but that wasn't the case at all. Being a fury would make her all the more desirable when the time came to lay down her axe. Grunts would fight each other to prove their strength and be chosen as her mate to produce strong and brave broodlings.
    However, these thoughts were nowhere near Mexta's mind at the time. Her blood was boiling and she was ready to kill. The human's deserved it. They had attacked a small clan, whose grunts weren't even there at the time to protect the mothers and broods. Even if they had been, they weren't even warriors, like Mexta and her companions. They were just miners and blacksmiths.
    The humans would have to pay. Just like they had attacked a small helpless settlement, Mexta and the grunts were going to attack a weak village. They knew that the men were only farmers and herdsmen. They weren't warriors, they couldn't fight.
    Mexta and others had demanded that they just charge the village and slaughter all of them. Show the humans that Orcs should not be intimidated. Their elder had forbidden it however. Saying that that was not the Orc way. So they sent out a rider to send a message, a warning.
    Most men and women will have probably left, abandoning their homes and valuables to save their lives. That was the human way. The way of cowardice. Whoever remained would be the few brave enough to face their death. It was a shame to have to kill such courageous warriors, but they were human after all. They deserved it.
     Grodun, who was in charge of the attack, bellowed a guttural command and the grunts were on the move. They stormed out of the woods, over a field toward the village. Mexta was surprised to see that not only had the humans stayed to fight, but they were lead by a large man with an axe. He was shouting something, probably encouraging them and then they did something even more unexpected. They charged.
    Mexta had never heard of such a thing. Who in their right mind would charge an oncoming company of Orcs. When Orcs fought each other that was the norm, but whenever the Orcs fought a different kind of being the defenders pulled back, scared off by the Orcs fearsome charge and their battlecries. These humans were courageous, she had to give them that much.
     The two fronts crashed into each other. Men and Orcs alike screamed in pain and in glory. The human's were no warriors, they were ill-equipped, but the sharpened scythes, pitchforks and axes cut like any other weapon. And these human's were determined to not die without taking some Orcs with them. Even as the Orcs cut into the heart of their group, they stabbed and hacked, leaving bloodied, dead and dying grunts in their wake.
     Mexta took off a human's arm with her axe and then his head. Another one came at her with a pitchfork. He jabbed it at her, trying to keep his distance, but she closed the gap and knocked his weapon aside, leaving her plenty of space for the kill. She looked around for her next victim and saw the giant man with his axe yelling in the midst of the fray.
     He was encouraging his fellow humans, shouting obscenities at the Orcs. Mexta heard him shout something about his wife. That they had killed her and that they would pay. The battle whirled on around him. He fought one Orc and planted that big axe in his head. He tore the axe free and fended off a blow from another grunt. With a big swipe, his axe caved in the grunt's ribs.
     As Mexta moved toward other human's blocked her way. She cut them down effortlessly. She wanted a real challenge. That beast of a man was to be her foe. But Grodun beat her to it. He was in charge, so she decided not to get involved. It would not have been honorable to fight two against one.
     The man's axe clashed against Grodun's shield, one blow after the other. The grunt barely had time to lift his shield up again for the next blow. Mexta could tell that he would lose if he didn't go on the offensive. Finally, he managed to knock one of the giant's blows aside and he swung his sword in answer. The human wasn't only big and strong, but he was fast as well. He blocked the sword with the haft of his axe and the sword stuck. It was a very thick haft. The giant smiled and tore the sword out of Grodun's grasp. A few more strikes with the axe brought Grodun to the ground and a final blow crunched through the shield and into the grunt's chest.
     All was silent. Not because, the Orcs were surprised to see their leader fall in battle, that could happen in any battle. It was silent, because the battle was over. Mexta had been focusing on their fight, trusting in her instincts to warn her of an attack, but nothing had come. All the human's were dead, except for the giant.
     He looked around, dazed and exhausted. He was surrounded by Orcs. All of his friends and fellow human's were dead. He had led them into this battle and now he was all alone. He tore his axe out of Grodun's chest and shield and lifted it into the air. "I'm dead anyway." He shouted for all to hear. "Just tell me who came into our village yesterday and shot my wife. Who killed her? I want my vengeance. Only then will I stop fighting."
     So that's why he was shouting about his wife. Mexta stepped up. The man raised his eyebrows. "You, a female?"
     "No, I did not kill your wife." Mexta hated the human language. There was too much tongue clicking and many nasal sounds. The throat was barely used to distort sounds as it was common in the Orc tongue. But this human had proven strength and bravery, she was going to speak to him so that he would understand. "The grunt you just killed was the leader of this vengeful attack, for you humans killed many females and broods in one of our settlements by the mountains. You say you wanted vengeance, well we wanted it too. We've had ours and you yours. Grodun was the leader." She pointed at the grunt's dead body. "It was his duty to give the warning. He killed your wife."
     The giant let his axe drop to the ground with a thump. "Good. I've had my vengeance. Then fulfill yours. You can kill me now. I'm done."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Big John

"John! Come quick, it's Marla!"
     Big John was chopping wood for the village, but as soon as he heard someone shout his name, he dropped his axe. Sweat ran down his face from the hard work, he was exhausted, but something had happened to his wife, so he ran to their house as fast as he could.
     He burst through the door with his heavy frame. Several people were within. Marla was on the bed, bloody bandages next to her, on the floor. The village healer was leaning over her. "What happened?" Big John asked.
     "She was out in the fields, gathering herbs," said Gabe, a farmer. "An Orc rode up to her and shot her with an arrow, point blank."
     Big John went to kneel beside the bed and hold her hand. There was so much blood. Her hand was cold and clammy. Marla looked him in the eye, gasping for breath, face twitching in pain. "An Orc? Why would it do that? Where did it go?"
     Marla grasped his hand with all her strength. "It...it said... to give a message. Tomorrow at dawn... They...they... attack!" Her fingers slackened and her eyes closed.
     "Marla?" Big John was about to shake her. She couldn't just die. But then the healer held him back.
     "She's just unconscious. She's still breathing. But there's not much more I can do. It doesn't look good."
     Big John sighed in relief. Then got up on his feet and stood up straight, towering over everyone else in the room. "Where did that beast go?"
     "It rode off to where it came from. They're going to attack tomorrow. It was a warning." Gabe looked pale. If it was from all the blood or from the prospect of being attacked, Big John didn't know or care.
     "A warning? Shooting an arrow through my wife is a warning?" Big John balled his fists together. His breathing quickened. It was an outrage. How dare they attack. What had the villagers of Duranham done to those beasts. They couldn't let this stand. Something had to be done.
     "Mama?" Small John stood in the door to their home. He was out of breath and looked ghostly pale. They called him Small John, only because he was Big John's son. Physically, he came after his father in every regard. He was tall for sixteen years of age and was still growing. Having helped his father cut wood over the years had made him muscular as well. But looking at him now, Big John saw how young he still was.
     Big John strode toward his son and blocked the boys view of his mother and the blood. "She's fine boy. She just needs to rest. I need you to do something for me. Go outside and unhitch the horse from the cart, I'll be right out."
     Small John looked uncertain, but followed his father's orders and went back outside. Big John strode to the healer, she was the only scribe in the village, and he asked her to write a message for the King. He gathered some provisions and with the message in hand he went outside.
     Small John had just finished unhitching the horse and was putting a saddle on its back. "Come here, boy! I have an important job for you. I need you to bring this message to the King. You hear? Can you do that for me?"
     Small John looked up at him. He was tall, but still not quite as tall as his father. He seemed to feel that something wasn't right, but he nodded. "Pa, is Mama gonna be alright?"
     "Of course she is. Don't you worry. You'll be back in a few days and she'll be just fine. You'll see." Big John hated lying to the boy, but it was better than the alternative. He knew he was going to lose his wife and he knew he was going to fight against Orcs, fearsome warriors. He didn't know if he'd survive, but he damn well wasn't going to let his son be endangered as well. He had to get out while he still could.
     "Okay, Pa." Small John grabbed the provisions and the message. Before he could get on the saddle Big John grabbed him by the shoulder and pulled him in for a hug.
     "I'm so proud of you, boy. That's why I trust you to do this for me. Just wanted you to know that." He let his son go from the embrace and put on a broad smile. He hoped the kid wouldn't see how fake it was. "Now go, boy. Go."
     Small John smiled back and got up on the saddle. The horse galloped away, bringing his son to safety. Big John went back inside his house. People were still gathered within, watching Marla. She was conscious again. Big John knelt down beside her.
     "Where's my small Johnny baby?" She whispered.
     Big John took her small, cold hands into his. "He's safe, darling. He's going to be just fine."
     "That's good. I'd just like to see him again. One more time."
     "Don't say such things. You'll be just fine as well."
     "Maybe... it doesn't hurt anymore... maybe you're right." Marla smiled up at him."My big handsome woodsman. I love you." All strength left her hands and the light in her eyes began to fade.
     "I love you, too." Big John kissed her forehead, a single tear running down his cheek. She was gone.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Kruzz

Kruzz still held the bloody spear in his hands. He was one of the few broods that had gotten away with the mothers. Kruzz and some of the other fifteen year old brothers and sisters had banded together to stop the humans, but they hadn't been able to hold long. Most of them died.
     Kruzz could still hear them scream in pain. He could see the dead look in their eyes. Just like he could see and hear the humans dying at the tip of his spear. He had killed two of them with the help of his brothers and sisters. And he had wounded a third on his own. That's when this little brood came and told them all to run. He said Grim was fighting off the humans. That he had already killed four and was going to stop the humans from following them.
     Four. Grim had already killed four and had held out long enough for them to escape. He must have killed at least three times as many while he held the humans off. He had come after them galloping on a horse. He must have killed the rider. He was bleeding from several wounds, but he had made it back and had made sure that the humans didn't follow.
     Grim was a true grunt. All grown up and strong. Kruzz wanted to become just like him. In less than a year he would be allowed to go on the Hunt to prove his strength. He had already killed today, but the elders probably wouldn't accept that as proof. They would say that he was still too young.
     "Kruzz? Are you alright?" Reeba, one of the mothers, came up to him. "Come on my little broodling, give me that spear and go wash yourself."
     "I'm not a little broodling anymore." Kruzz answered. "I'm almost a full grown grunt. I killed humans today. I'm strong, just like Grim!"
     "That you are. But why don't you humor an old mother and get yourself cleaned up. Now give me the spear."
He gingerly handed her the spear. "Can I keep it? Can you keep it somewhere for when I go on the hunt?"
     "Yes, dear. After you've cleaned yourself, we can clean the spear together. I will talk with Worg. I'm sure he'll allow you to have a spear of your own. You are strong after all and you protected us." She took the spear. Then she petted his head and sighed, as mothers do.
     Kruzz went to the river to clean up. His hands were coated in dried blood and little droplets marked his face as well. He was excited. Reeba was going to tell Worg, the settlement Elder, that he could have his own spear. His very own spear that he had already killed with. He was truly becoming a grunt.
     Refreshed and clean, Kruzz strode back into the work camp in front of the mines. When he passed one of the huts he heard raised voices and couldn't resist. He was sure that the Elder and other grunts were discussing the attack on the settlement. Kruzz hid behind the hut and tried to listen in.
     "I still can't believe it! Why would the humans attack us without warning? Have they no honor?" that was Worg the Elder. Kruzz could tell by his old and frail sounding voice.
     "I don't know, Worg. I can only tell you what happened. I could tell that some were honorable in the way they fought, but others tried to gang up on me. Whoever gave the order to attack though, he had no honor. That I am sure of." Grim's voice was loud and forceful in comparison with the Elder.
     "Honor or not, we cannot just let them do as they please. We have to respond. Send word to the clans nearest to us. They need to know what happened."
     "What about the humans in our settlement? We can strike back, take what is ours. Avenge the slain. Let me lead us into the fray and let us kill some humans." Many of the other grunts roared their approval, but not all agreed with him.
     "Pah! You lead us, Grim? I think not!" Kruzz didn't recognize the grunt's voice. "You may have proven your strength against those humans today, but you know nothing of leading. You know nothing of responsibility. We cannot trust you to lead, just like we cannot trust you to work. Follow me brethren. And we will slaughter those humans and stick their heads on pikes. They will not dare fight us again."
     "How dare you..." Grim started, but was cut off by the Elder.
     "Hush, you two! We will not strike now. We don't know how many humans there are and our numbers are small. You are right of course, we will need a strong leader in case of a fight. And Grim, I'm sorry, but Traglok is right. You are strong, but not a leader. Traglok is the head miner, so he should lead us in battle as well. In the meantime, I am still the Elder and I decide what to do." He paused, as if in thought. Kruzz listened in anticipation. What would he decide? "We have to leave the mines. We could defend them, but it might cost us our lives. We will have to ask for asylum in one of the clans nearby. Prepare to leave within the next three hours. We have a long way ahead of us."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Damien

Chancellor Damien and his guards arrived at noon. The attack on the Orc settlement had already been performed by Captain Bron. From afar everything looked satisfactory. Tents and huts were afire and many bodies of those grisly beasts could be seen scattered about. Only when Damien and his men came closer did he see their own casualties.
     Too many dead and wounded. They were supposed to slaughter these ghastly women and their hell spawn. How could so many have put up a fight? He didn't understand these beasts, but it seems he and the commander had both underestimated their strength.
One of Captain Bron's scouts came riding towards him. "Chancellor Damien, sir! The settlement is ours."
     "I can see that. Take me to Captain Bron!"
     "Sir... he was wounded during the fighting."
     "Is he conscious?"
     "Yes, sir!"
     "Then take me to him. Now!"
     "Yes, sir!" The scout rode off. Damien and his men followed.
     A tent for the wounded had been set up outside the settlement. More and more of the men who had taken injuries were heading towards it. Guards were posted by the entrance. They stood at attention as soon as they saw Damien arrive.
     "He's inside. May I return to my post, sir? Who knows if the Orcs will retaliate." The scout rained in his horse, but seemed eager to get back. That was good. He knew his duty.
     "Yes, yes. Go ahead, soldier." Damien got down from his horse and entered the tent. His men stayed outside. Maybe that would help the other two guards stay at attention.
     The tent reeked of blood and other bodily fluids. Why had so many been wounded. This was supposed to be an easy victory. Damien discovered Captain Bron in the back, a bandage around his chest and his head and one arm in a sling. He got up from his cot and stood at attention.
     "Chancellor, sir! Does the commander have more orders?" He seemed fit enough, even though he must have taken quite a beating.
     "Camp here and have your scouts keep an eye on the mines. You might want to fortify the camp with ditches and stakes. Who knows how those beasts will react to our advances."
     "Yes, sir. Those of my men that are able are already digging. The commander can rely on us, sir."
     "I also wanted to hear a detailed account of how the attack went. I can see that there are more casualties than I and the commander expected. Can you tell me how this happened?"
     "Sir... maybe we could step outside for a moment?" The captain looked around at his wounded men. He seemed uneasy talking about the fight in front of them. Damien couldn't understand why, but he nodded his consent. Captain Bron threw a jacket over his shoulders, covering the bandaged ribs and the sling.
     They left the tent together and headed towards the settlement. Damien's guards held a respectable distance. As they got closer, Damien could see more and more of the Orc bodies. Their swamp-like skin color mixed with the red of their blood. That and their frozen, dead faces set in anguish made them look even more like hideous demons of nature.
     "It happened early on during the fighting." Captain Bron began as they were finally out of earshot from others. "There was a male Orc still in the camp. He knocked me off my horse... I'm lucky he didn't kill me. Unlike the ten he did kill or maim, before he escaped."
     "You're telling me you let that beast get away?" How could such a thing manage all that? Ten soldiers, defeated by one of them.
     "They are smarter and stronger than you would think. Even the women fought hard and killed several. Quite a few escaped with their children as well."
     "Don't compare their kind with ours. They are beasts, all of them. Understood, Captain?"
     "Yes, sir!" Captain Bron stood at attention. He seemed tense, but he was a good man. A good soldier.
     "Good. Now, do you have anything you want me to tell the commander? I'll be on my way again immediately."
     "My men were well trained, but they had no chance against a grown male Orc. If this turns into a war, sir. Then we need to be better prepared. We need to train men that can fight these..."
     "Beasts!" Damien realized that the captain didn't like calling them that, but that's what they were. "I will inform the commander. We will have to begin training immediately. You've assumed correctly. This was only the beginning and war is coming!"