“What do you want orc?” Spat a scrawny human, wearing ill-fitted armour. The camp of mercenaries leaned forward eagerly, their hands resting on the hilt of their weapons.
“To trade,” The grey-skinned Orc, named Kali, calmly responded. She stood tall, towering over her.
“What you got?”
“A number of enchantments, and spices and herbs.” Kali said. Hearing a muffled cry of pain, followed by verbal abuse, she turned her gaze in the direction of it. She witnessed two grown men beating a restrained small woman. Their eyes locked, her brown eyes pleaded at her. Kali’s brows furrowed.
“That’s all I’m trading,” Kali said, her gaze still on the small woman. She felt a knot form in her stomach as they spat on the woman.
“Lets just kill it and take its supplies,” someone called out to the group. That would be a mistake, Kali thought.
“I would advise against that,” She warned them. The band of mercenaries all stood drawing their weapons, seeming to ignore her advice. Unsheathing her dagger, she sliced her palm; the blood flowed as she called upon the spirits. Darkness engulfed the camp as the globule of blood formed into tendrils that quickly sunk into the mercenary before her, drinking their life force. The spirits killed all that had drawn a blade on her at varying speeds. Their screams fell on death ears as she moved around their camp and took anything of value, coin, drink and the meat from the boar they had roasted. After a while, the camp fell silent.
Hearing a noise, being reminded of the young woman the mercenaries had been abusing. Approaching her, she noticed that she was from a well to do family. That signet ring she found probably belonged to her judging by her fine clothing – despite its current state of array. The woman looked at her in panic as she knelt. She must have frightened the poor thing.
“Sorry ‘bout that, didn’t mean to get you all bloodied,” Kali said as she cut her restraints. Standing up, she walked away from the camp. There would be predators coming for the remains, and she wanted to get as far as she could from the location.
“Wait!” The young woman called out. Kali turned to face her as she hurried up to her. She stood more than a foot shorter than her, her dark hair tied into a messy ponytail. “Where are you going?”
“You're free to go,” Kali said.
“Go where? There is nothing here,” She said in a panicked voice.
“You can take supplies from here, there’s a town a week away,” Kali pointed to the southwest before leaving the camp.
She walked for a few hours before she found a suitable location to stop for the afternoon – an outcrop sheltered by trees. Kali built a fire before rolling out her bedroll. She was excited to eat the pork she had found in the last camp. It was something she did not get to have often whilst travelling.
“You grabbed some supplies, right?” Kali called out at the woman, who was attempting to hide poorly behind a tree. She knew she had followed her; the woman wasn’t exceptionally skilled in travelling. The tiny woman stepped out, she had nothing on her but her clothing – her leather slippers weren’t made for travel either.
“What’s your name?” Kali asked.
“I’m Lalita, you are?” The woman responded politely.
“Kali,” The Orc said gruffly. Removing her cloak, she threw it at Lalita. “You can use that tonight,” Kali patted the spot next to her. Lalita came and sat down, wrapped in her cloak. She cooked the pork over the fire, cutting slices off into a bowl. She handed it to the bronze-skinned woman. Lalita hungrily devoured the food as if she had never eaten.
“They not been feeding you?”
“No,” Lalita said between large bites. She coughed, thumping her chest. Kali passed her her water-skin. She desperately drank from it.
“Portion that.” Lalita swallowed hard, brushing her mouth with the back of her hand.
“Can’t you conjure more with magic?” Lalita asked. Kali chuckled and explained her magic required an exchange of equal value. If she wanted to conjure water, she would have to give up everything that allowed her to survive. The trade was not worth it. After dinner, Kali set up a protection spell on the camp to protect her from any harm. The Orc climbed into her bedroll. The warmth embraced her. She fell asleep clutching her belongings.
Kali woke early. She sat up and saw the human woman was still with her. Lalita seemed to be shivering. The night had been cold. Restoring the campfire, she placed a pan on it, making porridge to eat. Lalita stirred.
“Morning,” Kali said. Lalita responded unintelligibly through a loud yawn. Passing the sleepy woman a bowl of porridge, she thanked her. Grunting in response, she ate in silence.
Kali let Lalita know that she’ll escort her to the next town as they set off. Kali wanted to cover more ground but saw that Lalita could barely keep up with her pace, so she slowed down to a leisurely pace. By early afternoon, Kali had decided that they should set up camp near their current location. She had a vague memory of a lake nearby, so it made a suitable spot to rest. They stopped in the late afternoon.
“We’ll camp here,” Kali told her. Lalita nodded her head, slumping against a tree. She looked exhausted.
“There is a lake nearby to wash in. I’ll lend you clothing,” Kali walked in the direction of the lake. The water was freezing as she washed. Kali was in and out of the water. Lalita had sat on the bank, watching her blankly before she found the energy to get in herself. Her cry at how cold it was, made her laugh as Kali did some laundry – she washed Lalita’s blood-covered clothing too. She waited for the small woman to finish, giving her an off-white shift to wear.
They walked back to camp, Lalita hugging her cloak close to her. Kali made a fire, hanging their clothes to dry. She then prepared dinner, the remainder of the pork.
“How long were you kept?” Kali asked. Lalita paused, brushing her hair as she responded.
“Over a week,”
“And they treated you poorly?”
“Yes,” Lalita said quietly before adding. “Um – thank you,”
“For what?” Kali asked, bemused.
“Not killing me,”