He didn't feel like opening his eyes, even though he knew he wasn't dead yet. This time around, some unknown entity was constantly prodding him and whispering for him to wake up. Marrox grumbled as he felt someone repeatedly poking at his spine, and then at his scalp.
"Up. Up, orc. Dollik knows you're alive. Dollik knows you're faking."
Just leave, goddamn it. Stop fucking poking me.
Dollik stared at Marrox and scratched his bald, bumpy scalp before he looked at the orc's nostrils. Seeing no other option, he used the stick he was carrying to carefully insert part of the wood into Marrox's right nostril. Marrox noticed blockage in his nose and immediately snorted like a pig. The orc coughed and snorted multiple times before he grumbled and swatted at the air. Dollik backed away and smiled as Marrox groaned and slowly started to open his eyes.
"Oh good! Good for orc! Dollik was scared for a moment there."
As Marrox sat up, he exhaled, scowling as he tasted vomit in his dry mouth. The orc rubbed his head and rolled his tongue around his mouth before he spat on the ground a few times. When he looked to his left, he could see a three-foot-tall yellowish-orange goblin clad in long trousers and a ripped gray shirt with an open brown vest over it. Marrox scowled as he looked at the smiling beast, with his giant wart-covered nose, his massive pointy ears, and his dirty bare feet and chipped nails. The goblin chuckled as he blinked and yanked on Marrox's black tunic.
"Dollik and orc must go now. C'mon, follow Dollik."
Marrox snarled as he jerked his arm away from the goblin. He was already feeling horrible after what happened yesterday—physically and emotionally—and the stench of the goblin was not making anything better.
"Fuck off…just leave me," Marrox grumbled.
"Oh, Dollik can't do that! Orc's body will rot. Orc's body will decay, spread blood in grass. Not good. Not good for soil."
Marrox coughed a few times and wiped his mouth. "Alone…leave me alone."
Dollik shook his head. "Can't do, orc! Dollik sees you're sick. Dollik can't leave orc alone."
Dollik poked the orc in his neck a few more times. "Dollik lives in home! Self-built, it was—made by Dollik himself! Dollik is also great cook! Orc will love Dollik's food!"
As Marrox groaned and leaned forward, still rubbing his head, he could feel his chest tightening with pain again. Part of him was just hoping his heart would explode spontaneously so he wouldn't have to listen to this creature. When Marrox refused to respond, Dollik rubbed his big nose and crept closer to his giant head.
"Come with Dollik, orc. You won't regret it!"
Marrox snorted and recoiled, scowling from the stench of the goblin's breath. He looked down at Dollik again and grimaced, noticing that a few flies were hovering around his body, and that some of his yellow teeth were missing. Marrox felt like commenting on the beast's odor, but he hadn't washed or changed his clothes in months, so he knew he didn't smell any fresher. Too exhausted to argue, Marrox exhaled and nodded.
"All right," he grumbled. "Take me to your home."
"Oh goody! Good for Dollik! Dollik can finally have company for the day!"
Grunting and standing up, Marrox looked down at the goblin as he began to walk through the forest. He rubbed his nose and dragged his heavy booted feet along the ground, sighing and wheezing as he followed the short beast through the woods. Marrox could tell that the sun had risen and was shining brightly, judging by the various beams of sunlight that appeared in the few holes within the forest's canopy. He spotted a blue butterfly flapping its wings nearby and scowled, moments before he noticed a red squirrel skittering its way up a tree. Dollik stopped for a moment so he could grab a few pecans he found on the ground and stuffed them all into his pockets. The orc stopped as well so he could grab his canteen and drink what was left of his water. But as soon as he tilted the container upwards, he remembered with much annoyance that he consumed all of his water last night—and vomited it all back up on the ground minutes later. Frustrated, Marrox tore the canteen from his body and snarled as he tossed it as hard as he could against a tree. Dollik heard the container clatter as it smacked against the wood and disappeared beneath some of the leaves.
Exhaling, Marrox shook his head. "Just keep walking. I'm behind you."
The duo resumed their journey, which eventually led out of the woods and into a large section of the forest consisting of hills and flat plains. Dollik scratched his bald head as he ascended a grassy hill and kicked up some dirt, while Marrox struggled to keep up and found himself huffing and sweating. He paused for a moment, almost falling over from exhaustion, hoping that his illness would finally take him. But he was merely tired, not on the verge of passing out or dying, like last night. Dollik noticed that the orc was having a difficult time keeping up, and he quickly rushed back and grabbed his left hand.
"No worries, orc. Dollik will help you!"
Marrox snarled as he jerked his hand away and huffed. "Keep going. I'll make it."
Dollik paused as he stared at Marrox, still concerned over the orc's health. But eventually he turned back around and resumed going up the hill. Once they finally reached the top, Dollik and Marrox stopped walking. The goblin stretched out his arms and exhaled afterwards, while Marrox gazed down at the large hut sitting on flat terrain. In front of the hut looked like various different kinds of gardens growing all sorts of vegetables. The gardens weren't several miles long, nor did they span throughout all of the terrain, but it was enough for one person to manage. It was evident that Dollik was living by himself and growing most of his food away from civilization.
"Isn't it gorgeous, orc?"
"Marrox," the orc wheezed. "Name's Marrox."
"Well, Marrox, we're almost there! Come now, Dollik shall make you a hot meal!"
Marrox watched as Dollik began to walk down the hill. He didn't join him. The burly orc stood by himself, breathing heavily as the pain in his chest returned. When the goblin noticed that Marrox wasn't with him, he quickly turned back around and rushed up the hill, frowning once he saw that Marrox's eyes were watering.
"What is wrong, Marrox? Dollik thought you wanted to join him."
"You should've left me," Marrox whimpered, before grabbing his head as he slowly sat down on the hill.
"Left you? What…Marrox—"
"You should've let me die…should've just let me die," Marrox sobbed.
Dollik blinked as he walked up to the sniffling orc and sat down beside him. He curled his toes a few times before he looked down and started to pick at the grass.
"You don't know who I am…you don't know what I've done. I don't…I don't deserve any of this. I shouldn't be alive; I shouldn't be able to draw breath. I can't…I can't keep doing this…"
Dollik stopped picking at the grass and picked his nose instead, digging out some mucus and flicking it away. He looked back over at Marrox. "Hmm? Oh, Dollik apologizes. Dollik thought Marrox was talking, but all Dollik heard was cynical bullshit."
Right then, Marrox hated Dollik and was tempted to knock all of the rotten teeth from his mouth. He scowled at the goblin and wiped away some of his tears.
"Fuck you. You don't know what it's like. You haven't been through what I've been through."
Dollik shrugged. "So?"
"What do you mean 'so'?"
"Dollik means, so what if Dollik hasn't suffered the trials that Marrox went through? Has Marrox eaten a portabella mushroom simmered in horseradish sauce?"
"I—what? No—what does that have to do with anything?!"
"Oh? Well…guess Marrox doesn't know what Dollik has been through either, now does he?"
Marrox glared at Dollik when he noticed that the goblin was smirking at him. He scoffed and started to stand back up.
"Fuck you. Be an ignorant cunt for all I care. …I'm dying anyways. S'only a matter of time 'fore my heart or my brain gives out."
"Then Marrox should kill himself."
Marrox stammered as he sat back down, caught off-guard by the goblin's words. "What did you say to me?"
Dollik scratched his head in confusion. "Dollik said Marrox should kill himself."
"Why the hell would I do that?"
"Um…because Marrox is dying? Because Marrox just said that he shouldn't be alive?"
"That doesn't mean I should kill myself!"
The goblin turned his head in bewilderment and raised an eyebrow. "Um. Dollik doesn't understand Marrox's logic. Why would Marrox not want to kill himself? He sounds like he's in a lot of pain. He sounds like he wants to die."
"Yes, but…" Marrox huffed and shook his head. "You wouldn't understand."
Dollik chuckled as he looked away from the orc and went back to ripping up grass blades. "Trust Dollik. Dollik understands plenty."
"No, Dollik, you really don't. If…if you've known what I've done…what I was capable of doing so many years ago—"
"Stop," Dollik interrupted, before he looked at the orc and rubbed his chin. "Hmm…rather burly fellow Marrox is. And Dollik sees that dangerous axe on Marrox's back. Dollik is going to guess: soldier?"
Marrox blinked. "Yes."
Marrox exhaled. "Kosslivo."
"Oh my! Dollik has been to Kosslivo before! Lots of brutish beasts there. Was a nice place and you orcs seemed crafted in the arts of brewery!"
"Wait…you've been to Kosslivo?"
"Just last season. Dollik is thinking about heading back."
"You want to head back?"
Dollik shrugged. "Why wouldn't Dollik?"
Marrox paused before he looked away. "Kosslivo wasn't the place it is today. Trust me; you did not want to even walk near that kingdom two decades ago."
"Yes, but today is today, look forward to tomorrow, and yesterday doesn't matter."
Marrox pinched the bridge of his nose and shut his eyes. "I'm getting rather irked by your constant riddles."
"No riddles, Marrox! No riddles for orc. Just truth. As Marrox said, he was a soldier. Dollik's mother told Dollik when he was a child that all soldiers, male and female, have two weapons."
Dollik leaned over and looked at Marrox's crotch. "Marrox is an orc. Something tells Dollik that he used both of his weapons. Repeatedly. Is Dollik correct?"
Marrox didn't answer. He looked away and grumbled, playing with the grass in the same manner as the goblin. When Dollik leaned back over, he gazed out at his garden and down at his hut. Both creatures listened to the birds chirping in the distance and felt the hot sun blazing down on their skin. Dollik looked at the ground and started digging into the dirt with his right index finger.
"If you know who…what I am…then why are you still sitting here talking to me?"
"Dollik is lonely. Dollik…Dollik doesn't have friends. People don't like Dollik. They see that Dollik is a goblin. They tell him that he stinks, that he has bad breath, that he should spend more time digging for food out the garbage like 'all the other filthy goblins.' Even the goblins from Dollik's own village treated Dollik this way." Dollik suddenly huffed. "Dollik hates groups. Yes…yes, he does. He despises them."
"Why groups specifically?"
"When Dollik was younger, he…experimented. He experimented using rather gross materials. One day, after Dollik noticed he was losing his teeth and his gums were becoming horribly infected, he tried something…unorthodox."
"What'd you do?"
"Dollik washed out his mouth with his own urine."
Marrox, understandably, looked at Dollik with disgust and confusion. Dollik continued anyway.
"Dollik listens. Dollik reads. Dollik discovered that in some countries, people do this to whiten teeth and as a form of disinfection. Apparently some chemicals in urine help fight off the germs. So Dollik tried it. And it worked. Dollik noticed that other goblins were suffering from the same problem. So Dollik told them to do what Dollik did, and they did. And they thanked Dollik."
"I don't get it. So what happened?"
Dollik rubbed his chin. "A young goblin no older than ten found out about this. The goblin's parents saw what he was doing…and unlike everyone else, this goblin was outright drinking the urine. His parents were furious, and they demanded to know why he started doing this. So…the child told them. And his parents came for Dollik. And they said…many hurtful things to Dollik."
The goblin stopped again and blinked. "The parents…um. They wouldn't stop talking. They said more hurtful comments. Then other goblins did the same. Next thing Dollik knows, Dollik is some…fetish-crazed, sacrilegious beast who…who gets aroused from watching other goblins—children especially—drinking urine."
"That kind of logic is something a retard would come up with."
"That is the point, Marrox. No one cared if it made sense. What matters is what people said. What matters is that no one individual was able to think for themselves, to ask their own questions, to bother looking into what really happened. So Dollik had to defend himself…and he couldn't. So…Dollik left. And now Dollik lives alone."
Dollik smiled and started picking crude from between his toes. "Don't be. You've done nothing harmful to Dollik."
"This still doesn't explain why you still talk to me. Don't you think I'm dangerous?"
"Yes. Dollik also believes that everyone in the whole world is vile, stinky, and disgusting."
Marrox chuckled. "You just told me you rinse out your mouth with piss; I can't agree with you."
"Then Marrox is a hypocrite."
"No, Marrox. Regular shit! Every animal on this planet, every race ranging from goblins to orcs to gnolls to satyrs…they all have posteriors. They have anuses. Anuses are designed to release waste. Anuses stink. Flatulence makes a comical rude noise. Shit smells vile and looks revolting. Every day, animals release flatulence. Every day, animals all around the world release shit. And shit is a disgusting, smelly compound. But everyone defecates. Therefore, everyone on this planet is disgusting."
Dollik smiled as he looked at Marrox. "And Dollik is okay with that."
"…Huh. Well…you goblins…you goblins sure do have…odd logic."
"Not odd, Marrox. Just different."
"Well, different or not, sounds like you're happy out here…seems like your past hasn't caught up with you."
"Because it happened already. Why would something that happened before come back? It happened. It took place already. Why should Dollik care about the past now when he needs to focus on the present and future?"
Marrox opened his mouth, but Dollik held up a finger so he could continue. "Marrox. Let Dollik ask Marrox something. As a soldier…Marrox killed, yes?"
"And Marrox raped, yes?"
He had to pause for a moment, but eventually, Marrox said, "Yes."
"Are you raping now?"
"Are you killing now?"
Dollik kept smiling as he resumed playing with the grass. Marrox shook his head as he exhaled and coughed.
"World's not that simple, Dollik."
"It needs to be. Dollik doesn't understand why it isn't. Maybe if it was, so many people in this world wouldn't be so angry, so sad. …Maybe people in this world wouldn't be wasting their time arguing over rules and laws or fighting each other over territory or different ideals. Dollik wishes that people would wake up every morning and just be happy that they're awake."
Marrox didn't respond. All these times he hated himself for being alive to begin with, and now here this goblin was lecturing him about how people take life for granted. The orc flicked his eyes at Dollik a few times before he cleared his throat, feeling more phlegm in his system. He listened to more birds in the distance and felt warm wind blowing against his body and making the leaves in the trees rustle behind him. After a very long silence, Marrox swallowed hard and turned to look at the goblin again.
"Don't…don't lie to me about this. I know you don't know what I've done, and you probably don't care to know. But I just…I'm just not…I need to know, Dollik. When you look at me, what do you see? You see a monster, a rapist, a killer? Do you see a beast running from his past, or some dying bastard who's getting what's coming to him? Do you see someone trying to atone for his sins, someone trying to fix everything he fucked up in life?"
Marrox paused before he finished. "Do you see a good person? Or do you see an evil person? Please…don't lie to me."
Dollik turned and looked a Marrox. He sized up the orc, staring at his scarred face, his messy, stained clothes, his burly muscles, his big teeth, and his deadly axe. After thinking for a mere few seconds, Dollik smiled widely and answered.
"Dollik sees an orc. His name's Marrox."
Marrox didn't say anything. He just looked at the goblin for a while before he turned away. He thought he'd be angry at the goblin, ready to punch him for not properly answering his question. But something about Dollik's reply put the orc at peace. It almost seemed like everything he had been fretting over and overthinking for the past several weeks, let alone months, was starting to die down. The orc coughed a few more times before he clutched his chest, and was reminded that he didn't have long to live. He might not even wake up tomorrow. But as he pondered, he gazed out in the distance at Dollik's garden. He listened to the birds chirping around him, looked up and could see that clouds were filling a blue sky. He thought back to his daughter, how despite everything she had been through, she grew up and made a life for herself. He thought about what Dollik told him, about how he willingly traveled to Kosslivo, and was so impressed by the kingdom that he considered going back. Marrox listened to Dollik as he sighed and wiggled his toes.
"It's a nice day today," Dollik suddenly said.
"Yes," Marrox said, as he blinked and smiled.
"Yes, it is."