“Hit him!” The orc with the scarred face barked.
Nargi wasn’t going to do it. Why would he? The old man lying in front of the ruins of his house was defenceless. They’d taken all of his sheep, his money and valuables. There was no point in hurting the man any more than they had done already.
“Just smack him dead already!” his brethren were getting annoyed.
“No.” Nargi stood his ground, and where he stood, the ground knew. Nargi was a big guy, even for an orc of the Rikhu-tribe. He stood 7’5” tall, broad as an ox and weighed almost 22 stone. Yep, there was a whole lotta Nargi standing between his brethren and the old man. The man was on his knees, begging them to spare him. They wouldn’t though, they never did. But today Nargi felt like making a point. There was no use in any more violence, and he was taking a stand. It wasn’t the first time he’d been opposing violence. He had refused killing children a lot of times before, but now it was an adult human and that was different.
“Fuck, Nargi! If you’re planning on being a cunt then I’ll do it myself. But don’t think I won’t tell Rhoys!”
Rhoys was the head of their tribe and yeah, he’d be pissed. But that wasn’t the point. Nargi was just sick of it and he had no trouble telling his chieftain about it. Maybe he’d even listen. Rhoys wasn’t a bad guy. He had always kept the tribe strong and healthy and looked out for everyone. He wasn’t afraid of killing anything that was in their path, but he wasn’t a bloodthirsty idiot like Argha either.
“Leave him be.” Nargi said calmly, stopping Argha from advancing by putting his hand on his chest and staring him right in the eye. Nargi knew he could take him and he was pretty sure Argha knew that too.
But before the discussion between the two orcs had the chance to escalate, a large blade whizzed by and hit the old man in the neck. With a scream the half-decapitated man fell to the ground and bled out before Nargi had even completely turned around. Argha took the opportunity to smack Nargi in the back of the head with his hand. “Now let’s get this shit back home.” He said. The thrower of the blade, a scrawny fuck named Ethsir grinned at him as he went to retrieve his blade, cutting the man’s ear off in the process.
“You’re a weak motherfucker if you need your ears to come from old humans, Ethsir.” A larger orc named Funtar scoffed. Nargi kind of liked Funtar. He didn’t really have any real friends in the tribe, but Funtar was the closest to a friend he had. Also, within their raid party Funtar was probably the only one capable of kicking Nargi’s ass, and he never had. Nargi liked that he didn’t fight others just to show them who’s boss. Him and Funtar may have been the only ones in their tribe who didn’t.
The guys made fun of him the entire way home, as Nargi had rightfully expected. He didn’t care though, why would he? Argha was going to tell Rhoys about it and then he and Rhoys would talk. Nargi hoped it would amount to something. The tribe was thriving, they could do with a little less random violence.
Nargi had tried to talk about it with Funtar, but he didn’t want to discuss politics. He was like that. Just did whatever he thought was right, never bothered anyone else and no-one else ever dared to bother him. Once Nargi had aspired to do the same, but for some reason the needless bloodshed, murder and rape kept nagging at him. He wanted it to change.
They had been on a raid for weeks on end, as usual. The small group of farms had been the last thing of value they had passed on their way back home. It was a three-day walk form their own village. No-one dared to live nearer to an orc-tribe, and those who thought thew were safe 200 miles away weren’t the brightest of people. Well, they weren’t there anymore. Packing heavy treasure and loads of trophy ears it was already hours past nightfall as they finally arrived to the large wood-and-stone encampment they called home. It consisted mostly of large fireplaces with wooden benches around them, randomly placed small huts, as well as a large armory with a smithy attached. There were no farms, because no orc would ever have the patience of farming, when you can just raid your environment for food.
Back at the village their raiding party was welcomed home with great enthusiasm. When the guards had seen their party approach, they had awoken the entire village and lit the fires. A normal thing to do when a raiding party returned home. The entire village was a humdrum of children cheering, women flirting, and the battle cries of the guards and a raiding party on break. As they entered the village they were led to the biggest fireplace and the workmen took away their weapons and armour to clean and sharpen. Nargi petted some kids on the head and took a seat close to the campfire. He didn’t care much for celebration, but if he sat in the middle of it, people would come over and bring him food sooner. He could eat a horse. And right as rain, not two minutes later a woman brought him a grilled boar’s leg. Nargi munched on it happily as the woman, he believed her name was Shorr, or something like that, chatted away.
He wasn’t the only one of the returned raiders that got female attention. He could clearly hear fucking sounds in the background. Always the men grunting and the females screaming in pleasure and pain, Nargi could never tell which was which as they were taken viciously from behind, most of the time in public. Nargi didn’t like the idea. Not just the ‘in public’ idea, he knew of a few brethren that rather kept their business private, but the fucking in general. Nargi found it distasteful. He sometimes wondered how he was ever going to sire children when he didn’t ever feel like fucking anyone. But that was something he wasn’t going to worry about now. Now he needed to eat and mentally prepare himself for the talk with Rhoys, which would definitely follow soon.
The woman kept stroking his arm as she talked. It was a little bit annoying, but Nargi didn’t feel like hitting her, so he just ignored it. Telling her off would be seen as a sign of weakness, which he couldn’t use at this point. Luckily for him another lady showed up with a big mug of ale, gave it to him and sat down on his lap. This was a good thing since she was dragged off almost immediately by the one called Shorr and they spent the next 10 minutes fighting each other. This meant Nargi could eat and drink in peace, so yay for female violence.
With the fighting still going on the fact he was called away by Rhoys didn’t draw as much attention as it would have. Nargi had half a mind of thanking the girls for it later, but then again, they’d probably start fighting all over again. Nargi followed Rhoys to his hut in silence, every few steps taking a sip of his ale. Rhoys’s hut was decorated with assorted treasure that screamed ‘tribe-leader’, most of which he had accumulated in the time he was still only a raid-leader. The wood and straw ceiling was covered in threads sporting various ears. Most of them elven, but some of them more exotic. On one of the walls hung a wyvern-wing, which was truly impressive. Rhoy’s raid-party back in the day was the only one that had ever brought down such a magnificent beast. The round structure had a large bed and a table with some seats around it. Nargi sat down in the seat he was pointed to and waited to be spoken to.
Rhoys sat down and in the heavy voice of a commander, spoke: “Nargi, you’re a reliable raider, a strong man and a very decent fighter. You know I have high hopes for you. You’re already up for raid-lead next summer. Why would you endanger that by disobeying your raid-leader’s command?”
This was the talk he’d been expecting, he had prepared for this the entire way back. “The command was wrong, sir.”
“The command is never wrong.”
“YOUR commands are never wrong, sir. Argha’s commands are cruel for the sake of being cruel. Violent for the sake of being violent. What’s good about killing people that are no threat to us? Why should we rape women when we have perfectly beautiful ones at home? Why torture people when we’ve already gotten all that we wanted? I don’t see it. There is no use to it. None. So yes. I say some of his commands were wrong and I disobeyed them, sir.”
Nargi had made his point. Now he looked down respectfully to give his leader a chance to make up his mind about what he’d said. Mere seconds seemed to take ages. Then Rhoys spoke.
“Are you an orc?”
“Yes sir.” Nargi answered, still keeping his gaze respectfully low.
“Are you a raider?”
“Yes sir.” Nargi started to wonder where he was going with this.
“Are you a Rikhu?”
“Yes sir.” What kind of question was that?
“Then you will act like an orc, a raider and a Rikhu! You will do as you’re commanded to, you will kill, rape and torture as much as your commander thinks is needed for tribe gain or soldier’s entertainment. Now get the fuck out of my hut and never let me hear of this nonsense again!”
“No.” Nargi’s blood went cold hearing himself say that. Yet he knew it was the only right thing to say. The hit that followed was one he was expecting, so he sat perfectly still receiving it. For who would respect an orc that flinched at a mere punch? Then he stood up tall, looked his commander in the eye and said it again.
“No sir. I will not. I will not kill, rape and torture for other’s entertainment. I do not think it is my duty to. I am not a clown sir.”
“Do you wish to fight me?” Rhoys asked him, his eyes blazing fury.
“No sir.” Something in the back of his mind was screaming at him: take it back! Beg for forgiveness! Throw yourself at his feet! But he didn’t. He just stood there as realisation of what he’d just done slowly crept up his spine. He had challenged the tribe-head’s words therefore he had challenged the command in itself. A fight to the death for the position of tribe-head would follow. And Nargi had no intention of killing Rhoys, nor did he aspire the leadership position.
“Weakling! You challenge my command, yet you wish not to fight. Get out! You’re done! You are Rikhu no longer!” Rhoys screamed at him, picking up his longsword.
Nargi knew he had about 60 seconds to get out of town before he had to fight everyone else, so he ran. He ran like hell. War cries behind him proved him right about the 60 seconds, but because the others would take their weapons first, he probably had a three-minute head-start. He just had to keep running for longer than they would. Days probably. And so he did. He ran and he ran and he ran until at some point he collapsed.
When Nargi woke up he had something damp on his forehead. The smell of chamomile was mixing with some other herbs. He sat up and looked around. He was in the middle of the forest, lying on the ground, but there was a small fire with a pot cooking above it right next to him. It was quite a tiny pot. Human.
He could smell the human too. There was one around here. It wasn’t the smell of a soldier though. It was a woman smelling of humanity and herbs. She was quite close…
“Ah, you’re awake!” a cheerful voice sounded from behind him. Nargi turned and saw the tiniest woman walking up to him with a bowl of something.
Nargi smelled again. Food. She was holding food.
“I got you breakfast!” the cheerful voice said.
This was the strangest thing ever. The woman was old and tiny and defenceless. Why wasn’t she afraid? And why on earth was she bringing him food?
Then another very strange thing came to his attention. The woman was speaking Orcish.
“How can you talk Orcish?” Nargi asked.
“I can’t.” She answered, in Orcish, which confused Nargi. “Also, this isn’t a normal way to start a conversation. You should have some manners, orc. Let me teach you.” She stood in front of Nargi. With him sitting and her standing upright their faces were at about the same height. She stuck out a tiny wrinkled hand.
“My name is Carmarina, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Puzzled, Nargi shook her hand carefully. “My name is Nargi, nice to meet you too.”
“Good, Nargi. Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s your breakfast. I suppose you’d be very hungry after running for so long.
“How do you know?”
“I read you.”
“Magic. But do I have to remind you, manners maketh the man. Short blunt questions like that aren’t very polite now are they Nargi? Especially when you’re eating. So be silent and eat your food. There will be time for questions later.”
Nargi did as he was told and silently finished his food. It tasted like nothing he’d ever tasted before, but he was quite sure it wasn’t poison. And even if it was, he was too hungry to stop himself from shovelling it into his mouth anyway.
When he had finished the entire bowl he looked at the old woman. She immediately got to her feet and started pointing at the various items lying around.
“Take that and take that and the pot as well. We’re talking at home and you’re gonna carry the stuff. I’ve already gotten it here in three trips, now you make yourself useful big guy.”
Picking the stuff up, carefully making sure not to burn himself on the cooking pot, nor spill any of its contents Nargi asked. “Why aren’t you afraid of me?”
“Because I READ you. You won’t hurt me. You’ll be my assistant. Further questions at home. I have trouble enough walking as it is. And NO, don’t offer to carry me as well, because that would be indecent.”
And with that Nargi silently and obediently followed the interesting old lady called Carmarina home.