A/N: So instead of working on the next entry in the Smirvlak Trilogy or working more on the Tails Series, I took a short break from both and decided to work on this story instead. And because I became so engrossed in the world building while writing Smirvlak's Stone, I decided to create a whole new series known as the Legatum series, which the Smirvlak Trilogy takes place in. This current story is also set in the Legatum universe, but there is absolutely no need to read Smirvlak's Stone, or any future Legatum stories to understand what's happening. This novella is (mostly) self-contained and can be read without prior knowledge to anything else that happens in this universe. Although for those curious, this novella takes place sometime after the events of Smirvlak's Stone.
Anyways. This story is about an orc with a dark and tragic past who's trying to discover who he is as he travels around the countryside and encounters all sorts of individuals and creatures. Figured I'd do a much smaller, simpler story this time around. :p
Story contains very brief M/F sexual content.
With all that said and done, enjoy the story. :)
They were all prepared. They knew all the risks, knew all the rewards. But none of it mattered. What mattered was that blood would be shed today. And blood would be shed tomorrow. And it would continue to shed until the end of time, long after the king died. The dark green orc panted and huffed, slobber running down his mouth as nearly a hundred other orcs standing behind him reacted the same. All of them carried their axes, hammers, and broadswords with pride. All of them were clad in armor and helmets—not that many of them would need it. And all of them were being observed by the colossal behemoth of an orc overlooking the entire platoon. He stood at the gates of his kingdom, grinning wickedly to himself. Without saying a word or uttering a command, the king raised his burly arm and pointed outside the gate, to the surrounding nations. All the orcs raised a fist and roared triumphantly, before they all charged forward. It didn't matter where they were going. It didn't matter who the targets were.
Blood would be shed.
He opened his eyes slowly, something he was hoping wouldn't happen this morning. As the orc grumbled and shifted around in the cave, he gradually opened his eyes some more, not caring about the sleep caught in his eyelashes. The orc looked to his left and could see that it was a bright, but cloudy day, and the ground was damp. The air still smelled heavily of rain; the orc regretted not staying outside and using the weather as a means to wash his clothes. After wiping his mouth, the orc yawned, showing off his massive teeth and the various tusks that hung outside his mouth, even when it was closed. The burly beast looked down at his ripped brown trousers, his heavy wool boots and his black tunic that had no sleeves on it. Then he grunted as he stood up, feeling every bone in his body creaking like a set of gears in desperate need of more oil.
"Fuck," the orc murmured.
After standing up, the beast coughed several times before spitting on the cave floor. He looked at his saliva and phlegm before raising his left arm and glaring at his veins. Then the orc exhaled, shortly before he reached down, picked up his double-headed axe, and double-checked to make sure he still had his dagger in its holster.
"You got time, Marrox," the green orc muttered. "You got time."
Marrox exited the cave and jumped onto the wet grassy terrain outside. He took a huge breath, savoring the pleasant-scented air around him compared to the wet odor that had filled the cave. Then he started to walk forward, not set on any exact path, not looking for any particular landmark. He moved his way past all the thorny bushes, stepping through or around them and crushing various roots and twigs with his boots. Wiping his nose, Marrox sniffled and heard a few birds chirping above him. He was tempted to sit back down just so he could enjoy the serenity around him. But his body kept moving forward, and his brain kept telling him that he needed to find her sooner than later. Marrox coughed a few more times before he reached into his tunic and pulled out a large brown canteen. Marrox grunted as he drank from the container, only to notice after a few seconds that there was no more water inside of the canteen. He flared his nostrils and set the cap back on before the orc grunted and made a detour on his route.
Instead of heading forward like he intended, he turned to his left, where he resumed stomping through the wet earth and shoving his way past all of the shrubs and patches of fungi growing near tree roots. He paused for a moment so he could urinate on a tree, but continued walking shortly afterwards, until he came across a small stream. The orc stared at the rushing water as it quietly splashed against the rocks and soil. Then Marrox got on his knees and exhaled as he took out his empty canteen and placed it near the water. He was just about to refill his container when he looked down the river and saw something. He knew what it was. He knew why it was there. And in a matter of seconds, all the memories came back. Marrox took three slow breaths, his heart beating faster than normal, his pulse racing. The green-skinned beast emitted a faint whimpering noise as he kept looking at the river. It was all still there. Hot breath exploded from the orc's mouth for a moment, but then he set his canteen down, clutched his chest with his meaty right hand, and shut his eyes.
Afterwards, Marrox inhaled sharply with his nostrils, his chest inflating as he took in the air. Then he exhaled from his mouth, letting all the stress flow from his body. He did it a second time, inhaling and exhaling, telling himself that he would be fine. And then he exhaled sharply afterwards. He kept up this breathing pattern for a solid four minutes before he slowly opened his eyes. He looked at the stream again, and everything was back to normal. Satisfied that he was safe again, Marrox calmly refilled his canteen before he closed it and put it back into his tunic. Then the orc stood up and resumed his journey, hoping that he wouldn't have to stop again like he did just now.
The moment Marrox spotted the horse-drawn carriage out in the middle of the road, he jogged out onto the gravel-paved road and stood in front of the two horses. The drivers shouted and immediately tugged on the reins, forcing the horses to neigh as they stopped moving and snorted a few times. He could tell that the horses were afraid of him, judging by how both of them were gradually moving a few of their hooves backwards instead of forwards. But the drivers calmed them down, before one of them looked at Marrox and glared.
"Hey, get outta the road, orc!" the human shouted. "Almost ran ya over just now!"
"My apologies," Marrox said. "I was, uh…well I've been traveling on foot for a while now. Was curious to see if you would give me a ride to your destination."
"You don't even know where we're goin'."
Marrox chuckled. "I don't either. Just…just walkin'. Been lookin' for someone, but not sure I'll find her at this point."
"All due respect," started the other driver, "we're not exactly comfortable letting you in our wagon with that axe of yours."
"Hmm? Oh yes, this," Marrox said, before he lifted his axe and swung it around a few times through the air. "Yes, indeed. I would also feel nervous if you antagonized a beast who used an axe of this caliber to decapitate dozens of you humans."
Marrox didn't say anything else. He just stared at the humans with a smug grin on his face, while both of the men glanced at each other with hesitation. The first driver wiped his nose before coughing awkwardly.
"You…you promise you won't cause trouble?"
"Fine…just get on and don't bother the others."
Marrox nodded, and he walked over to the back of the wagon. He grunted as he climbed inside, his rough hands grasping the splintered wood, and then stood up as he looked around. Some other humans were inside—a couple families in casual wear from what he surmised—and there was a few crates placed near the front of the wagon. Marrox didn't say a word; most of the humans reacted the same way anyone would if a burly, green beast abruptly jumped into a vehicle carrying a double-headed axe. So the orc just smiled awkwardly before he sat down near the opening, far away from the other humans. Afterwards, the human drivers resumed their journey, and Marrox made sure to keep to himself as the rest of the humans inside whispered or tried to ignore his presence. A young boy actually waddled his way over to Marrox and nearly touched his axe, but his mother immediately grabbed him and snatched him away. He flicked his eyes at her but remained silent; he wasn't surprised by that kind of treatment from humans. The orc looked outside the wagon, gazing at the wide-open road and the scenery around him as the wagon moved along the gravel path.
It wasn't until nearly an hour later when the wagon came to an abrupt stop. Marrox was on the verge of passing out when he heard the horses neighing once again. Only this time around, incoherent screaming followed. Some of the people inside of the wagon immediately went on alert. One man pulled out his dagger while the mother of two kids immediately told them to hide behind her, while she shielded them with her body. Marrox stood up and grabbed his axe as he held up a hand, instructing everyone to stay put.
"Just sit tight. I'm gonna check and see—"
"DOWN! EVERYONE GET DOWN!"
Some of the people in the wagon screamed while others raised their hands. Before Marrox had time to exit the vehicle, three goblins all sprinted towards the opening, all armed with either a crossbow or a bow and arrow. Marrox looked down at the goblins, glaring at their short three-foot-tall bodies and their giant pointy ears and warty long noses. One of the goblins clad in a wool cloak panted as he pointed his crossbow at Marrox's face.
"I SAID DOWN, ORC!"
Marrox blinked. He slowly sat down inside the wagon while everyone else stayed still and began to whimper. After Marrox submitted, a fourth goblin appeared from the front, only this beast was carrying two sticks of explosives with him and cackling to himself. He hopped inside the wagon holding a stick of dynamite in each hand and grinned widely. Meanwhile, the other three goblins climbed inside, and the man with a dagger made his move. The goblin carrying the crossbow was much quicker though, and he fired a bolt into his shoulder. The man shouted and dropped his dagger, while the goblin quickly cocked his weapon again.
"NO TRICKS! UNNERSTAND?!" another goblin shouted.
Everyone nodded or kept their hands in the air. Marrox merely squinted as he looked at the dynamite sticks the reddish-orange goblin was holding.
"Y'all see, yeah? Y'all see what this is?" the goblin paused to giggle. "This go BOOM! This make BIG, BIG BOOMS! Y'all wanna go boom? Huh? You wanna go boom?"
Everyone, predictably, shook their heads or whimpered.
"THEN MONEY! COINS! Give it all 'ere or you go boom!"
Marrox squinted as he looked at the explosives even closer, and he snorted. "Where's the fuse?" Marrox asked.
The reddish-orange goblin snorted as he looked at Marrox. "Whuh?"
"That's volatile dynamite. Where's the fuse? Don't you wanna—"
One of the goblins carrying a crossbow whacked him across the face with his weapon.
"SHUT UP! AND DON'T REACH FOR THAT AXE! I'M SMARTER THAN YOU, ORC!"
No, you're not, Marrox said inwardly.
Marrox knew what would happen next. He'd seen it several times before. All the humans tossed any of their valuables onto the floor, not even attempting to bargain with the beasts given how unhinged all of them were. The goblin carrying his explosives walked over to some of the bags and opened them up, revealing bags of silver, gold, or copper.
"Oooooooooh, yes…shiny! Yes, yes, all so shiny…"
As the goblin looked through the valuables, a dark green goblin with a gray beard glanced at the woman who was shielding her children behind her and approached her. The other two goblins glared at him and huffed.
"Not today, Lurrgad! We need to move!" shouted the goblin aiming his crossbow at Marrox's throat.
But Lurrgad ignored his companion, and he proceeded towards the woman. He growled softly as he started to drool, shortly before he pressed his oversized nose all over her body, sniffing at her clothing and hair.
"You smell nice, human," he growled.
"Lurrgad. Not now!"
The goblin holding the explosives set the dynamite back into his pockets and picked up various bags of coin with both hands. "We got the shinies now, Lurrgad! Time to leave!"
Lurrgad shook his head as he leaned against the woman's face, still drooling. "Gimme a kiss…it's so lonely out there. Been a while since I've actually touched another woman's lips."
Lurrgad puckered up his lips and emitted a comical smacking sound, prompting the woman to slap him. He shouted and shook his head, and promptly retaliated by throwing his entire body onto the woman. Marrox rolled his eyes as the goblin started salivating and sloppily kissing the mother of two, while the rest of the people in the wagon were gradually looking for an opening to either escape or subdue the assailants. As Marrox put his hands down, the goblin aiming his crossbow at his throat lowered it and huffed as he looked at Lurrgad.
"THAT'S ENOUGH! You don't need to always—"
It happened before anyone could comprehend it. Marrox grabbed the goblin's right arm and snapped it with no effort. Everyone heard one of the bones cracking as it bent awkwardly, the bone sticking outwards and on the verge of poking through the skin. As the goblin started to scream, Marrox kicked him out the wagon and grabbed his crossbow. Simultaneously, one of the humans lunged for the goblin carrying a bow and arrow and immediately grabbed the fallen dagger on the floor. She sliced through arrow before it could be fired, then picked up half of the thin wood, before shouting and jamming it into the goblin's left eye.
"OW! OH MY GODS!"
He tumbled backwards out of the wagon, screaming hysterically as he clutched his bleeding maimed eye. The leader of the goblins could see that everything was falling apart, while Lurrgad finally stopped kissing the woman and turned around. He had just enough time to see Marrox wielding the crossbow. And then the orc fired at the goblin's groin. Unsurprisingly, he started hollering like his two dim-witted partners in crime. Marrox didn't give the beast a chance to get back up. He grabbed his tiny body and hurled him outside, where he landed face down, sending the arrow even further into his crotch.
"STOP!" the final goblin shrieked.
Marrox set the crossbow down when he noticed that the final goblin was wielding his explosives. He exhaled and shook his head.
"What are you doing?"
"GIMME MY SHINIES! OR I'LL MAKE US ALL GO BOOM! I'LL-I'LL DO IT! DON'T YOU TRY ME, ORC!"
Marrox blinked and looked at the explosives. "You mean you're gonna blow us up with those sticks in your hands?"
"THAT'S RIGHT! One hard whack against the floor, and we all—"
Marrox snatched one of the sticks of dynamite from the goblin. And then he broke it in half, and dropped it on the floor.
"These are candles that you dyed red."
Silence. The goblin had nothing to say, and even the people inside the wagon seemed a bit annoyed at how easily they were fooled by the goblin's threat. The final goblin dropped his other stick of "dynamite" and chuckled nervously.
Marrox punched the goblin in the face. Hard. He collapsed to the floor and didn't get up again. Shaking his head, Marrox grabbed the unconscious goblin and tossed him outside, shortly before picking up his axe. Afterwards, all of the people inside of the wagon calmed down and lowered their hands. The orc jumped outside the wagon and looked at the three wounded goblins, all of whom were whimpering as they crawled backwards in the grass. Marrox grinned as he held his axe and rotated it a few times in his hands.
"Now's a good time to run," he growled.
The goblins nodded and panted as they stood up and started limping away from the wagon, with one of the wounded beasts resorting to dragging the unconscious goblin against the ground because he wasn't strong enough to carry him over the shoulder. Once they began to depart, the humans all jumped outside the wagon and collected their valuables the assailants left on the ground.
"Fuckin' goblins," said one human.
"Can't believe we thought those candle sticks were real," said another, still feeling stupid for being so fooled.
"Hey, the drivers are still alive! Looks like the goblins just knocked 'em out," said a third human.
Marrox turned and faced two humans when they both walked up to him, unsure of what they should say at first. The male human studied Marrox's clothing while the female just looked stunned.
"You…you saved us," the woman said.
Marrox shrugged. "Not a fan of goblins myself."
"That getup…and the design of your axe. I take it you're from Kosslivo?"
Marrox paused for a moment, but he eventually nodded slowly and blinked. "Yes."
"And yet still you did this…thank you," the woman said, looking nearly teary-eyed.
Marrox struggled to find anything to say. He already knew what both of them were implying, and he already knew that if either of them discovered what he had done prior to today, they wouldn't be thanking him at all. So Marrox just gave a short nod and smiled, before he began to walk away.
"Wait a minute—where you going?" the man asked.
"I thought you were riding into town with us?" the woman asked.
Facing the humans again, Marrox shrugged and smiled. "Got restless I guess. Feel like walking."
Marrox heard the humans stutter for a moment, possibly hoping that they'd be able to draw him back over to the wagon. But the orc felt like being alone right now. He still had no idea which way he needed to go, so the giant green beast just walked whichever way his feet guided him.