The smell of the earth
fills her nostrils as she wakes. Moving slightly causes pain to sear through
her right leg. Clenching her teeth, she ignores the pain and reaches over to
the sword just beyond the reach of her hand. Gripping the hilt of her blade she
drives it into the ground and she pushes herself into a sitting position.
Looking up fear strikes into her heart at the sight of the three orcs seated
not far from her. The biggest of them catching sight of her. Smiling a fanged
tooth smile he gestures to the other two and gets slowly to his feet, drawing
his curved scimitar as he does.
“Should’ve stayed down bitch. We might have let you live if you had.” Ignoring the pain in her leg she pushes her self to her feet and hefts the sword in front of her. A wave of dizziness washes over her as a fresh wave of blood runs down her leg from the gash on her thigh. Staggering backward slightly, she trembles as the orcs begin to approach, all three hefting their weapons menacingly. Closing her eyes and waiting for the final blow, she offers up a silent prayer to the old gods. Hearing the sound of bow twang brings her back to reality. Opening her eyes, she sees an arrow pierce the eye of the left-most orc. With a shout a young beast-man comes charging from the tree line. His ears flat against his head. Mere feet from the orc he draws two small, wickedly curved daggers from his belt. Ducking under the first orcs swing he drives his first dagger into its chest. Using his momentum he jumps up and drives the second into the side of its neck. Ripping it free in a spray of green blood. Dropping his daggers he pulls the scimitar free from the orcs hand and in the same movement swings it at the third orc. Stunned at the young man’s appearance the third orc doesn’t even move as the blade embeds deep into his skull. Leaping away from the orcs, the young man watches as the orc collapses in a heap before retrieving his second dagger. Wiping them clean in the orcs clothes he returns them to his belt and turns to face the woman. At that moment her injuries gain the best of her and she swoons. Moving with incredible speed, he catches her before she falls to the ground. Carefully placing his arms underneath her, he lifts her clear off the ground as if she and her armour weighed nothing. Carrying her to the nearby river he places her down just next to the water. Leaving her sitting there he walks over to the place he appeared and retrieves a small pack from the bushes. As he walks back she sizes him up. The ears on his head twitch as if listening to everything around. Eyes larger than a normal human and a tail that sways behind him. Mesmerised by its movements she stares,
“Stop ogling my tail, please. It makes me uncomfortable.” His deep voice startles her as he opens the pack. Pulling a clean shirt from it he tears it into strips. Soaking one part in the river he comes over and begins cleaning her wounds with surprising gentleness. When he reaches her face, her eyes meet his as he washes a cut on her cheek. For a moment time stops and her heart catches in her chest. Before sending a wave of heat to her face. Ignoring it she asks him a question.
“Why did you save me? I thought beast people didn’t get involved in the affairs of other races. Especially humans.” Pondering her question for a moment he stops what he’s doing and sits down on a rock opposite her.
“Normally we don’t. But I’ve been tracking that party of orc for four days. Their part of a larger force that sacked a village east of here. A village we often traded with. They left none alive. Just left them in the streets for the carrion to pick clean. The rest of the beast people thought it unwise to get involved. But I’m unlike them. Those orcs are from a small clan that resides deep in the southern mountains. Near the Deepspire Cleft. They haven’t been seen this far north in centuries. The fact that they have come from their territories is more than a cause for concern. Orcs roam in greater numbers and places that should have remained empty are once again filling with all manner of dark things. The forest whispers. Something that has not been seen in an age is coming. And what if you? It’s rare to see a woman from the southern isles all the way here in the cold north.”
“How’d you know I was from the isles?”
“Your hair is gold in colour. Match that with your accent and your darker skin. It’s easy.” Smiling she goes to respond but a wave of nausea overcomes her. Tilting to the side she brings up the contents of her stomach onto the ground. Swaying once more she begins to topple but the beast-man catches her once more. Placing his palm on her forehead, he dips one finger into the wound on her leg and licks the blood off. Spitting it back out almost instantly, he curses.
“Dammit. Poison. Stay with me woman. You’re not dying on me today.” Speaking in his language he yells into the forest. Looking around, her consciousness fades as two more beast people emerge from the trees.
The smell of the earth fills her nostrils as she wakes. Moving slightly causes pain to sear through her right leg. Clenching her teeth, she ignores the pain and reaches over to the sword just beyond the reach of her hand. Gripping the hilt of her blade she drives it into the ground and she pushes herself into a sitting position. Looking up fear strikes into her heart at the sight of the three orcs seated not far from her. The biggest of them catching sight of her. Smiling a fanged tooth smile he gestures to the other two and gets slowly to his feet, drawing his curved scimitar as he does.
Sitting on a rock the young woman doesn’t notice the rain as it begins to fall. Splashing into the river that she sits beside it drowns out all the sounds of the forest behind her. Staring at her hands, she watches as a drop of water falls from her hood and lands on her wrist. Cutting a trail through the blood and grime. As it falls from her fingertip into the river a sob bursts from her lips. Looking up to the sky she silently shouts out a prayer to gods that have long since forsaken the world. Streaming down her face, she can’t stop the tears as they begin mixing with the rain. Getting to her feet she turns to the trees and screams. All the pain and sorrow tearing free from her at that moment. As silence reigns once more she falls to her knees, landing heavily on the now muddy ground. As her black hair falls free from her hood, she looks to the left seeing her sword leaning against the rock she was just sitting on. The once silver blade now coated in the thick black blood of orcs. In anger, she grabs the blade and moves to throw it. Bringing her arm back to hurl the blade, she stops as crashing comes from the trees behind her. Turning she watches as three orcs come bursting through the trees, the trophies of the hunt clattering loudly together. Catching sight of her the leader smiles a sickening smile and gestures towards her with a barbed whip in hand.
“Looks like lucks on our side boys. Hello pretty. You’ll make a nice addition to our master’s caravan you will. Pretty face like yours will get a nice price at the market. So, what say you put down that little sticker of yours and come quiet like?” Raising her blade, she grinds her teeth.
“Orc filth. I’ll go nowhere with the likes of you.” At her defiant words, a sadistic look crosses his face.
“Well then. Guess we do this the hard way. Bring the human bitch to me boys. And don’t be none too gentle about it.” At his gesture, the two other orcs pull their weapons from their belts. Smiling they begin crossing the distance towards her. Anger surges through her and power wells up within. As her eyes start glowing red, her hair begins to change to a deep crimson colour. A look of terror crosses the orcs face and he screams.
“Phoenix born! Cut her down fools before it’s too…” Faster than an arrows flight she covers the distance to the leader. With a single slash of her sword, she beheads the orc, black blood spraying into the air and increasing the grim already covering her. Advancing on the two remaining orcs she cuts them down before they have a chance to react. Stepping clear of the last body as it falls lifelessly into the mud, she walks back the rock and collects her pack. Hefting it onto her back she looks back at the three bodies. With a gesture, they all burst into flames. The fire burning unnaturally In the rain. Turning her back on the burning corpses she sets off into the trees. Across the river, a young man watches as she disappears through the trees. As he retreats through the trees he smiles to himself. Climbing onto a nearby horse he sets off through the trees at a slow walk. Beginning to whistle to himself before long.