By John McLaughlin
“Ya weak, sorry git! Did youz tink ya could beat me? I’m bigga and stronga, and I’m da Boss ‘ere!” bellowed the orc chief, Chodo. “Youz gonna pay fer bein stupid, and weak trying to take her back! Youz must leave, and not come back, or I’z kill ya good next time! I’z only lettin ya live cuz a’ yer fadder. “Dis wench ‘ere is mine now.” The orc let out a low hoarse laugh. “I’z gunna show her da right way ta pass da cold nights, mwhahahaha!” The world faded to black, and the laughter and the screaming of a woman turned to silence.
When Krone awoke the stars were glowing above, and he was lying next to a campfire in the plains. He saw a pack nearby that seemed to be filled with supplies for a journey. His axe was set leaning on a rock. His head was pounding, and the world seemed to be spinning. “Easy now lad. You took quite a beating earlier, and your wounds aren’t fully healed.” Krone immediately recognized the man’s voice as belonging to the father of his lover, now lost, Alyra.
“I failed her. I lost her. And now she’s another one of his concubines.” Krone said despairingly. He began to stand up, but lost his balance and fell; having succumbed to his disoriented state.
“I told you to take it easy, lad. You can’t help her; not now anyway.”
“Where are we? Where is Alyra?”
The man replied “The tribe has moved on. I stayed to help your half-brother tend to your wounds, but I’ll be catching up with the tribe in the morning.” He reached into his pack and pulled out a waterskin.
“My brother is here?” Krone accepted the waterskin from the man and took a drink. He wiped the water dripping from his chin. “Where is he?”
“He’ll be back. He went to wash some of the rags used to stop your bleeding earlier.”
Krone spoke hastily, “I’m coming with you. I must free her.” Krone set down the waterskin and put his hand to his forehead.
“No! You have been banished from the tribe, and Chodo will certainly kill you should you return. You can’t do anything for her if you’re dead.” He continued, “Your brother will accompany you to Grok’Tar. There you can find some work, and start over. You should fit in well enough. The city’s citizens are orcs, hobgoblins, and half-orcs such as you.”
Krone managed to sit up, and gazed into the fire. “We were going to be married.”
“I know, son.” The man spooned some stew from the pot hanging over the fire into a couple of bowls. He handed one bowl to Krone.
“Somehow, Chodo found out. Chodo always takes what does not belong to him. It is his way.” Krone turned from the fire to look at Alyra’s father. His brow suddenly furrowed and lip curled as he snarled angrily, “I will return! I will get stronger and faster. And when I am ready I will come back and kill that bastard chief for his crimes, I swear it!”
Alyra’s father blew on his stew to cool it and took a sip. He faintly uttered the words, “So be it.”
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