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Author Topic: [Story] Glory  (Read 2235 times)
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BaneHawk
Disembodied Spirits


Spell Energy / Taint +0/-0
Posts: 1


« on: January 14, 2007, 05:37:16 AM »

Hi guys, most of you will have already seen this but I thought I'd post it up again anyway:

Shame or Glory
Gorn had been infected.  For weeks now a canker had coursed through him; a virulent poison that he could not resist and he now felt he would never recover from.  It was not orcsbane, or any other kind of physical toxin that flowed through his bones, but a deep and growing malaise.
   For weeks his duties had been mundane and, for him, not worthy of any orc-blooded creature.  There was a time when the orcs were a great race, when they would fight the dwarves and elves for territory, for power, and for glory.  That time was ended.  Now the only people Gorn and his men stood against were villagers and peasants, forcing them to hand over their hard-earned coin and crops.  There would be the occasional skirmish, an isolated uprising that he would have to crush beneath the blade of his vardatch, but these were few and far between.  Gorn found it difficult to admit to himself but the faces of these bewildered humans were beginning to sadden him.  When he caught himself feeling such sympathy he would laugh, it was the only way to handle it.  Once he had used the lash on a peasant to prove to himself that the compassion he felt was ridiculous, he was a warrior and warriors did not feel pity, especially for the worms held firm beneath their heel.  It had taken him days to block the human’s screams from his ears, for the tear-streaked face of his pleading wife to creep from his dreams.
   There was no one to tell of his thoughts; the thoughts of mercy that haunted him, the guilt and, above all, the yearning.  There was a hole within him that almost begged for the bygone days of war and fury.  Of course, Gorn had not even been born in those days of blood and thunder.  When his spawnfathers had swept down from the Icewall and crushed the Dorns and Kaladruns.  The tales were still told though, and the orcs still lived on that victory, still considered themselves worthy of the glory, even though none still lived that had fought in those ancient days.  It had always bothered Gorn.  Always been at the back of his mind. How could they be proud of a victory they themselves had not achieved?
   Of course the kurasatch udareen did not consider such things.  The victories of the spawnfathers and the Dark Lord would live on through the generations. Every orc should swell with pride in their superiority, and crush all other races for their weakness.  Still, this somehow did not feel right to Gorn.
   And here they were again.  Another ramshackle town.  More tears and screams and blood and pain.  Above it all was the unbearable cold.  There had been a time when Gorn did not feel it, when he reveled at running with his pack through the snows, hunting renegade slaves, sucking on the marrow of their bones by a windswept camp fire.  Now he was just chilled. Of course he never showed it.  Not to his broodmates, not to the mother-wives and certainly not to Kersabien.  Cruel and wicked Kersabien.
   Even now he could hear the legate’s voice, imploring the villagers to give up their goods, promising leniency for their compliance.  Gorn knew every word was a lie.  Even if the villagers gave every ear of corn, Kersabien would still punish them, still exercise his sadistic rights over the helpless, pitiful humans.  His own kind.
How he hated that one.  The ever-leering legate.  For how many years had Gorn wanted to smash in that smug expression?  To suck those simpering eyes from their sockets and spit them back in his face?  It would be so easy too; the human’s magic would never stop him in time.  Only two things made Gorn hesitant: the wrath of Izrador and the constant presence of the hound.  That accursed astirax.  Gorn understood little of the tainted magics of the creature and could not work out whether throttling the beast would be enough to stop it reporting his betrayal. There were few he could ask, certainly none he could trust, so he simply bided his time, satisfying himself with the grisly fantasies he harbored of tearing the creature to pieces, and its puny master after it.
The sound of Gorn’s men diligently packing sacks onto their single cart woke him from such pleasant daydreams.  They were disciplined, Gorn had seen to that.  Kersabien often chastised Gorn for not allowing his men to ransack and pillage on occasion.  Gorn saw no sense in that.  Punishing the compliant would encourage no further compliance, so surely rewarding those who gave all and hid nothing made the best sense.  Kersabien would often leer at this, chastising Gorn for his inability to understand, but the huge orc knew all too well that Kersabien loved the suffering of his people, was addicted to the power.  For Gorn this was not power, bullying and persecuting helpless peasants and their families.  Give him a hard battle any day.  A horde of berserk clan dwarves was infinitely preferable to the cowering humans he came into contact with day-in and day-out.
They had almost finished, the cart almost brimming with booty.  The astirax slunk around Kersabien’s feet having finished its requisite search for channelers and his men were finishing their random searches.  It was uneventful, just as Gorn liked it.  Then came the unmistakable shout he had grown to dread.
‘Contraband.’ It was an orc voice that came echoing from one of the barns towards the right of the village.  A murmur immediately went up from the crowd and Gorn noticed several of the men closing their eyes in silent prayer.  Kersabien’s leer became a wide smile as he anticipated the pleasure to come.  His joy at the villagers’ misery made Gorn hate him more than ever
One of Gorn’s men appeared from the barn’s darkened interior.  In his hand he held a large bag of grain.  Gorn was relieved; this would simply mean the lash.  With luck Kersabien would want to administer the punishment himself, which would mean a much lighter reprimand than if Gorn or one of his men did it.  Then the orc trooper raised his other hand.  The unmistakable glint of a broadsword blade shone in the afternoon sun.  Gorn slowly lowered the hand that had gone to unhook the whip from his belt.
‘Who owns this building?’ Kersabien barked, his voice nasal and breathy.  At first there was silence, the villagers obviously too terrified to speak up.  Then slowly, and almost defiantly, one man stepped forward.
‘I own it,’ said the man, in a solid and steady tone.  Gorn could not help but be impressed by his bravery.
‘Need I ask where the weapon has come from?  Who you are hiding it for?’ keened the legate.
‘It is an heirloom,’ said the man, ‘nothing more.’
‘Expensive heirloom indeed,’ replied Kersabien.  ‘It has cost you much.’
The legate turned to Gorn and nodded almost imperceptibly. Gorn could do nothing but obey.
‘Shackles!’ he shouted to his men.  Two orcs ran forward bearing a set of rusty chains. 
Suddenly a woman burst forward, pulling a small boy by the arm. ‘Please,’ she begged, ‘we have a son.  Without my husband to work the fields we will surely starve.  Please show mercy.’
Gorn’s jaw tightened.  The woman could not know that her pleas would only provoke the legate to further cruelty.  He stepped forward in a threatening manner but she simply stared up at him, the boy at her side making no move to shy away from the huge orc warrior.
Despite the woman’s begging the orcs seized hold of her husband. He made no move to stop them as they began to clamp him in irons.
‘Wait,’ Kersabien’s wispy brogue cut the thin winter air.  The orcs stopped and Gorn turned in surprise.  ‘I am nothing if not a reasonable man.’ He was leering at the family, his head dipped, chin almost touching his chest.  Gorn had seen him adopt this look before; Kersabien was convinced it gave him an imposing air.  It reminded Gorn more of a mating toad.  ‘We cannot have families starving in the snow now can we?  That would be… counter productive.’  He stepped towards the family.  The woman had stopped her sobbing and the man simply looked on, confused. ‘Very well.  I will spare you.’ He was staring right at the man, who seemed dumbstruck.  Whether this was from surprise or gratitude Gorn could not tell, but he felt equally bemused.
Kersabien turned and looked Gorn squarely in the face.  In a voice that the entire settlement could hear he said, ‘Bring the boy.’
The boy’s father, who up until now had been on his knees, suddenly screamed in defiance.  Somehow he managed to shake off the orcs that were holding him and he sprinted straight towards the legate.  If Gorn had had time to think he might have reconsidered his actions and allowed the man to pounce on Kersabien’s back.  Maybe a lucky blow would have rid him of the legate once and for all.  As it was he reacted on instinct, his clenched fist smashing into the villagers jaw and sending him sprawling to the ground.
Kersabien spun about, his left eye pulsing and twitching in fury.  ‘You dare to raise your hand to a legate?’  The man did not answer, barely able to raise his head from the snow.  The legate turned to Gorn once again. ‘Twenty. Now, where he lays.’ He motioned to the man who despite being dazed was still trying to find his feet. 
Gorn hesitated.  The man was quite obviously beaten.  Further pain would not teach him any further lessons, they were already taking his child.  The huge orc looked around at the expectant scene.  At the villagers looking on in anguish.  At his own men, some with a drooling expectancy of the pain to come.  At the man’s wife and son, staring in disbelief.
‘What are you waiting for?’ Kersabien’s words cut the cold air, reminding Gorn that he really had no choice.  More than ever he wished to be in another time, another place, alongside his spawnfather’s in the days of their glory.  Although Gorn might not have been able to express his malady in words, he finally felt true shame.
Walking towards the floundering figure beneath him he pulled the whip from his belt…
« Last Edit: May 05, 2007, 12:17:03 PM by Nifelhein » Logged
Nifelhein
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Spell Energy / Taint +22/-0
Gender: Male
Posts: 2,117


Whisper's Will


« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2007, 10:02:52 AM »

Welcome aboard AtS Reloaded, Banehawk, I am not certain i read this befgore, but I like it, there is a bit too much repetition of the orc's name, but other than that the thing behind it all is good to me, shows that even among the orcs one might find those inclined to make things different, but too fearful to make it happen.
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"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects."
 - Attributed to Herman Melville.
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Against the Shadow  |  Forum  |  Midnight & RPGs  |  Games and Stories (Moderators: Kane, Bleak Knight)  |  Topic: [Story] Glory
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