“Oy! You just kill’d dat li’l rat!”
Eldan stopped and turned around. “Excuse me?”
The orc was small for one of its kind, though it still towered above the spritely gnome. “I sayd you just killed–jus–get out da way!”, he said, shoving Eldan roughly to one side and scooping up a small pile of bones and skin by the gnome’s feet.
It looked like it had been dead for quite some time, the poor thing. As the orc picked it up, the rat’s bottom section, flattened by one of the metal-rimmed wheels of a steam-powered wagon, crumbled and blew away in a rambling gust of evetide air. So caught up was he in emotion, however, that the orc didn’t seem to notice.
“‘Ow could you! The poor defenseless li’l thing! You’re a monster! A monster!! And I, Flug of the Blacktooth Tribe, will defeat you!” With a wild cry, Flug unhooked a rusty meat cleaver from his sagging waistband and swung it at Eldan’s chest.
Fortunately, Flug was deeply intoxicated on cheap briar wine and week-old motleys, missing Eldan by several feet, the arc of his swing sending the cleaver downwards to land firmly in the fleshy meat of his own left foot.
“Holy shit! Are you okay?!” Eldan exclaimed, approaching the orc gingerly with arms held wide.
“Stay back demon! You’ll not steal my soul, like you did this li’l beasty’s with your curs’d magicks.”, Flug said, fear in his eyes. “I may not be able to defeat you, but I can bring back this li’l one. You hear that!?”, he said, looking around the market stalls for support. “I’ma ressurect this li’l guy!”
Flug began to dance and shout, the cleaver in his foot waving back and forth wildly.
“Watch my hero dance! I’m a fucking hero!”
He sang out in supplication to his gods, to his tribe, to the spirits, to briar wine, to motleys, to his mother sleeping somewhere far, far away. The Olde Quarter was mostly deserted at this point except for two passers-by whose faces curdled at the public display before hurrying on their way.
Flug then brought the dead rat, or rather the pale skull that still remained, to his dry, purplish lips. He kissed it tenderly, then knelt down and used his other hand to scrape a shallow hole in the ground, placing it inside. “By tomorrow morning, you will rise again. And you will be…beautiful”, Flug whispered to the tiny cranium.
Eldan put a hand on the orc’s shoulder gently, and Flug jerked backwards, turning back to the gnome, the dead rat forgotten. The orc’s face was thick with globs of snot and dripping tears. He smiled, slowly, and shouted a triumphant “HAH!”, before biting Eldan’s hand and loping off into the darkening northwest corner of the square.
Eldan’s hand bled gently where Flug’s teeth had sunk into this flesh. “Mother…fuck!”, he said, taking a healing salve and a silk sash out of his vest pocket, wrapping the hand gingerly.
When he looked back, Flug was gone. Probably lost somewhere in the maze of alleys that weave through this corner of the city, Eldan thought. “Crazy fucking orc…”
The square was cool and silent now, the sun finally sinking beneath the city’s ramparts, a pale sliver of moon starting to glow.
Eldan looked down. The skull still sat in its shallow grave. He crouched beside it and shoved some dirt on top of the smooth white bone, then patted it down to a flat plateau
Hmmm, not quite right.
He extended the index finger of his right hand and drew a figure in the dirt. A tiny, dirty, smiling orcish face.
By morning, the smile was gone.
Written by Matthew Soson with artwork by Nicole Monk and voiced by Erika Soto and Matthew Soson
Inspired by: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39415631