Chapter 7: The Smell of Success

As I waited for the arrival of my orc bride, I focused on learning everything I could about the upcoming wedding. Intoxicated orcs don't tend to make for good conversation but I did learn something useful.

There were two requirements for a marriage to the Chief's daughter: 1) The groom must prove himself as a warrior and 2) The groom must present a gift to the Chief.

I wasn't exactly sure how I was supposed to prove myself but the gift requirement really got me thinking. I had something that I badly wanted to give away.

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The noise coming from the forest was getting louder. Sticks cracked underfoot, tree limbs twisted and snapped as the creatures approached I watched as previously fierce orc warriors slinked about camp like beaten dogs; if orcs had tails they would have been tucked securely between their legs. Krugugk stepped out of his tent; he was the only orc who didn't look terrified, he merely looked nervous.

A scout emerged from the forest first, running and glancing nervously over his shoulder. He ran right up to Krugugk and commenced groveling, begging for help, and hiding behind one of the Big Chief's legs like it was a thick furry tree trunk. Krugugk kicked the scout off his leg and stared down the trail, his tusks clicked together nervously.

Then I heard voices, high pitched and sharp as knives. Louder and angrier, the noise filled the air. Words spoken too fast to comprehend mixed with indignant snorts and pig-like squeals, and then, as I stood beside the Big Chief, the first of the orc women reached the clearing!

I wish I had the illustrating talents of my father, because I don't think words can possibly describe the scene that unfolded. These orc women charged into camp in a fury; they were every bit as large as the males but a good deal meaner and most definitely louder! They were clad in brightly stained fur dresses, colorful necklaces and shiny medallions dangled from their thick muscular necks, their upturned noses were pierced with silvery rings and animal bones, long tangles of bristly hair dyed the most peculiar and bright colors flapped vigorously as they stormed into camp.

I watched as one giant orc woman spotted a warrior who was attempting to sneak away. She moved with frightening speed to intercept the poor orc, grabbing hold of him, beating and lecturing, and pulling his hair. He begged and groveled... then let out a horrible squeal as she wrapped her big red-painted lips around his right ear, and bit down hard, all the while continuing to pummel the poor guy with her two free arms!

Unfortunately, this sort of thing was going on all over camp: a big orc woman would grab a male orc, beat him severely, and then drag him either into a tent or off into the forest. Horrible shrieks of pain and high-pitched lecturing could be heard in every direction; then I noticed two of them walking toward the Big Chief and me!

Krugugk was a charmer; that was clear to see. His wife blushed as he put the silver chain of a necklace over the yellowish fur that covered her thick powerful neck. The locket was made from the very tip of a pig's snout with a sizeable ruby socketed in each nostril. It was obviously expensive though I couldn't say it was all that stylish. But it was, evidently, perfect for an orc woman; she blushed, batting horse-like eyelashes, eyelids crudely smeared in red paints fluttered seductively and then she jumped up into the Big Chief's strong arms and began smacking big sloppy kisses along his scarred jaw. What followed was too disgusting to put into words.

During all this wild activity I thought it was my chance to escape, but then just as I turned to retreat I heard the most terrifying words behind me: "Me Fluzfluz! Me take you now!"

My bride to be looked at me with wide intoxicated eyes; she was clearly under the influence of the love potion. I tried to retreat but she grabbed me up like a child and took off toward the woods. The howls and screams of the poor orc men all around camp got even louder. While I bounced about, tucked securely under Fluzfluz's furry orange arm, I remember a single moment of clarity. I realized, right then, that I had the mystery figured out.

The orc warriors weren't hiding their women away in some distant location; they were hiding from their women! That's why orcs had no permanent settlements, why they were always on the move, invading new lands, constantly going to war... it all made sense now.

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I was dead. I was most definitely dead. My escape went so smoothly at first. I survived the disgusting pre-wedding festivities and then I presented the cursed stone jar to the Big Chief with clear instructions on how to open it. To be rid of the jar someone else had to willingly accept it knowing it was cursed. With the potion still intoxicating him, Krugugk didn't seem to mind. That night, the night before the scheduled wedding, while the exhausted orcs slept I made my move. I limped sorely out of camp and traveled all night.

Five orcs tracked me down and captured me around sunrise; they bound my hands and marched me back to the main camp. The potion's effect was all but gone; the war party treated me like any other captive, prodding me along at the tip of a spear. I fully expected to be killed or worse when they got me back to the camp.

Krugugk would realize I had tricked him into taking the cursed jar. I optimistically hoped the Big Chief would just smash me with his club, quickly putting me out of my misery. I was soon to find out. Several bruised and battered orc warriors got up to watch me march to the Big Chief's tent.

The guards stopped outside, cut the ropes that bound me, and prodded me forward. I decided to meet death with as much dignity and as little crying as possible. I ducked my head under the filthy pigskin flap, trying to avoid touching the snout and ears, and then I boldly stepped inside. I expecting him to whack me right then but he didn't; instead, I heard the sloppy sounds of an orc eating. I uncovered my eyes to see Krugugk seated on a pile of furs finishing his meal. He didn't look angry at all.

"You back!" Krugugk shouted: "Good!"

"Uh... Yes... Big Chief Krugugk... Uh, I certainly didn't mean to leave your beautiful daughter before the ceremony..."

Krugugk waved a huge paw dismissively. "Bah... you too weak to marry mighty Fluzfluz, you no survive second night!"

I was way too sore to argue that point. "Though... Uh... I am terribly disappointed; I see the great wisdom in your words Big Chief. I would like to say that I regret getting your warriors drunken on the fumes of that potion."

Krugugk's thick rubbery lips pulled back into a terrible smile. "You good smell! Better smell yesterday, better smell two days ago... Aaahhh... Good sniff."

"Uh... Yes, well... I'm afraid that the smell is going away... you see I don't usually smell like that. But I would like to say that I'm terribly sorry about the stone jar... I am prepared to take it back if you want me to..."

There was a flash of anger in Krugugk's beady yellow eye. "You give magic bucket! You no take back magic bucket!"

"Yes, of course Big Chief... the magic bucket is yours to keep... I am just surprised that you like it so much."

"Mmm... Krugugk like... Krugugk much like magic bucket! But Krugugk want more! Tell Krugugk how get more!"

It took me a while to understand him but after he explained the situation I knew just what to do. Krugugk was fascinated by the jar but one jar apparently wasn't enough for him. The Big Chief wanted to know who gave me the jar. I was all too eager to draw a detailed map to the wizard Pittsnoggle's tower for a small fee.

Krugugk was so pleased with the map that he didn't even smash me; in fact, his mood was so good that I had permission to leave his camp in peace. I took one last look at Big Chief Krugugk as I left his tent. Krugugk reclined back on that thick pile of furs holding the map I sold him in his big left paw, and with his other hand he concentrated on picking a chunk of raw meat out of his teeth using a long pointy shard of broken monkey bone.