As the distant sun rose over the far-off hills, and its rays began to illuminate the valley, the fort began to wake. Many were already awake, but many more were sleeping away the night, lost to the starry sky (or more likely, the tiny confines of their room or tent). With the morning, the fort was once more a center of activity and motion, the courtyard crisscrossed by a thousand paths of as many orcs walking to and fro across the ancient stone tiles. A few were speaking, some others met and walked off together, and the majority merely walked in stoic silence across the sunlit plaza.
It was warm in the courtyard, of course, for the tiles absorbed the sun's heat well, and it was rather painful to walk across the hot stones barefoot, as many of the orcs did. There was a general lack of discipline among them, for it was hot and there was little duty to be fulfilled, and a great deal of spare time. The officers did not care if the soldiers went about barefoot; they were busy indulging in their own recreations. In short, the fort was not so much a well-oiled military machine as an overstuffed easychair in which the army lounged.
An overstuffed easychair, reflected Commander Rajenique, watching the scene below from the high-flung parapets. He lay prostrate on a makeshift litter of a piece of leather strung between a wooden frame. It had legs of adjustable height and he had it contorted into a position that was vaguely reminiscent of a chair--only this thing was far less comfortable than a chair. It was hard and unyielding, and the leather abrasive against his linens.
At least he did not have to wear the accursed armor, a single blessing among the misfortunes of the summer. He had been locked away in the sunless infirmary for nearly a month and a half, and it was quite time that he got out. It had taken a certain amount of complaining before the medic had even appeared, then bullying and making a general nuisance of himself until finally he had been allowed to leave the infirmary.
Then again, it wasn't quite the leave that he had envisioned. Several soldiers had been summoned to hoist he and his bed up bodily, after which he was summarily carried upstairs and set down on the battlements, where he had asked to go. The medics and soldiers had left, and he remained alone looking down at the ant-sized orcs scurrying about in the fort below. They all looked so busy, and yet there was nowhere to go. The order to move out had still not come down, and no one expected it to until the end of the summer. Negotiations were continuing with the lycin, and a resolution seemed near--but not near enough. Rajenique had set the first brick in the process, but the wall was proving itself to be a great undertaking. The lycin would suggest one thing, the orcs would reject it and suggest another, both would get disgusted and storm off. They would wait a week, and then rejoin to try a different tactic. The mind-numbing process had been going on for several weeks now, since the delegation had finally reached the headquarters of the orcish military command in Edekrath.
A sentry walked by, and Rajenique looked up briefly to see who it was. He had seen many sentries lately, and was beginning to recognize them. But this one was only a boy, no doubt one of the new recruits which had slowly been leaking into the fort. With the success of Rajenique's initial negotiations with the lycin, his command had become a desirable post, and the more favored of the soldiers coming out of the Academies were assigned to his post. Of course, officers liked nothing better than to give the repetitious, irritatingly boring tasks of patrol and sentry to these orcs,
freeing up others with more "seniority." New recruits could hardly complain, and so they ended up with the most awful of the duties in the fort.
Rajenique thought briefly that he really ought to begin to reintegrate himself into the workings of the command structure. Since his "accident,"
he had been purposefully omitted, having been officially placed on extended leave. However, he was free to return to active duty at any time. But of course that was still impossible; it would be another half month at least until he was well enough to move about properly himself without the aid of a crutch. And while it might be understood if the convalescing commander was confined to bed, it would not be acceptable for him to return to duty until he was fully fit. So he was left with little to do but sit and reflect upon the state of affairs in the world, and upon the fort and upon himself. And unfortunately, much of his musing strayed dangerously close to treasonous thoughts. So he tried to think as little as he could about most things, just contenting himself with looking down at the rest of the orcs in the fort and trying to imagine what they might be doing.
There were a smattering of humans around, serving as supplementary healers, and quite a number of elves (although these were confined to the jail cells below), and a great deal of orcs, over twenty thousand at the moment. He could see many of them walking by below, and he looked closely, trying to see if he could spot anyone. But it was too far off; they were no larger than rocks, moving about below, and it was hardly worthwhile. He was often tried, of course, as well. He was convalescing, after all.
The sun was warm, and soon he had quietly slipped into a sleep. The sentries were quiet as they walked by him, and a few of the newer ones wondered why the commander could be found everyday in a cot on the highest rampart. But no one disturbed him, except for the medics who came twice daily to apply the unguent that had saved his life. Other than this, the commander was left to himself, lying alone on the battlements.
Kaziji looked up briefly as he walked across the courtyard, knowing that the commander was looking down on him from the parapets above. He also knew that it was impossible to distinguish anything from the distance, and smiled slightly to himself that he could watch the commander--without the commander being aware of him.
He was bedecked in fine crimson fabric, a concession to orcish sensibilities. Lycin did not wear anything, and there had been some debate over what he, as an ambassador to an orcish fort, ought to wear. In the interests of promoting positive interracial relations, he had graciously accepted the orcs' offer of a new wardrobe, and he would actually admit that the concept of clothing was beginning to grow on him. They were fine and silky, and swished pleasingly about him on the hot summer day as he walked briskly across the courtyard. Of course, on a day like this we would certainly have preferred to wear nothing--it was hot and humid, the mists had risen and the sun was beating down with a vengeance on the fort. But such, he concluded with a sigh, were the sacrifices of diplomacy.
He was a busy lycin. He had received station at the fort a little over six weeks ago, and since then he had made a valiant effort to familiarize himself with the crazy schedules of the orcish fort. But at every turn patterns eluded him: sentries would appear at different times every day;
guards would not be on duty when, by his calculations, they ought to be;
officers could not be found during their duty watch. There were only two possibilities: either the fort's schedule was so complex as to be beyond him entirely, or the schedule was not well-followed by the orcs. He rather suspected the latter, but (in the interests of diplomacy!) did not mention anything about this apparent laxness.
Besides scurrying around the fort, trying to track down the intricacies of the schedule (of which no one would give him a written copy), he was also required to submit written reports on the situation, which were sent by courier to the nearest lycin-held fort. The courier would return with the response, and he could act upon his new orders. The report and instructions were written in code, as there were many peering eyes that would see the letter along the way, and certainly sensitive information passed regularly to and fro on a weekly basis.
He was returning now to his sumptuous quarters after another abortive try to determine the schedule for the sentries. They had certainly spared no expense with regard to the furnishings, and he did appreciate that, although perhaps the mode of decoration was not best suited to a lycin, he once more said nothing, nodding graciously as he had been shown around and expressing great thanks to orcs who had spent such time preparing the room. Now, he was wondering what they did normally; most of the orcs in the fort had no apparent function. Of course, on this subject he was sure that they had some reason for existence. He just hadn't found it yet.
And he was determined to find out everything that there was to know about the fort. Perhaps delusions of spyhood, he reflected briefly as he entered his quarters. Another message from a courier lay (unopened, to the naked eye) just beneath the door; the courier must have come early in the morning and slipped it under.
He picked it up carefully and walked over to his desk. There was no key;
he kept the appropriate numbers memorized, but he liked to be sitting so that he could compose a full text of the message. It took him several minutes to translate the communique, but by the time he was done he saw that the message was dire indeed:
REGARDING COMMANDER RAJENIQUE: EARLIER FINDINGS WERE INCOMPLETE OR INACCURATE. NEW MODELING SUGGESTS THAT HE WILL REVOKE YOUR AMBASSADORSHIP AND SEEK REVENGE AGAINST THE LYCIN. YOU MUST REMAIN STATIONED AT IBISTETHLIN AT ANY COST. YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO ELIMINATE RAJENIQUE IF THE OPPORTUNITY SHOULD ARISE. YOU ARE INDISPENSABLE AT PRESENT: DO NOT BECOME IMPLICATED IN THE ACT, SHOULD IT OCCUR.
He read the message a few times, making sure that he had committed it to memory, and then tossed it into the fire that still burnt from the night before in the hearth on the side wall. It quickly curled up in the flamed, blackening and charring. He waited until he was sure that the message had been destroyed, and then he stode out of the room, shutting the door tightly behind him.
He had much to do.
The room was sparse and unadorned, in stark contrast to the plush furnishings of many of the higher-ups' rooms. Guerru was a warcaptain fifth rank; sufficiently important to demand some quarters somewhere, but not important enough to receive anything of any great value. He had to share the space with his ubiquitous bunkmate, who, from the time he spent lolling around the small chamber, must have had precious little to do in his capacity as ombudsman fourth rank. Technically of higher office that Guerru, Makttewe belonged to the least important of the many sections of the orcish military service, the ombudsmen service, which provided a means for seeing to the needs of the common soldier. In short, they provided for all the details of lodging, comestibles, and entertainment (during such long leaves as this) that the other echelons had neither the purview nor desire to effect.
But this summer, with so many orcs on leave and the fort as a whole all but uncommissioned, Makttewe had little to do, and what few tasks still needed attending to cold be delegated to the wretches who had signed on to the ombudsmen in hopes of avoiding any serious work. As a consequence, he seemed always to be idle, in distinct disparity to Guerru's own workload.
Or, perhaps, what had been his workload. When Rajenique had been up and about, as the esteemed commander's personal adjutant, Guerru had spent long days running around the fort doing all of the work involved in the commander's decisions, tracking down the various people that needed to be contacted, and (most unpleasantly) maintaining the commander's schedule.
But with the commander's unfortunate accident, Guerru, too, found himself at loose ends. At first, Rajenique had been mercilessly demanding of his adjutant to be his eyes and ears, but a month and a half of convalescence had mellowed him, and he seemed content to lounge on the parapets and nap in the hot summer sun.
It would no doubt be hard for the commander to return to normal society, reflected Guerru quietly, as he strode purposefully down the cold corridor.
His chamber was belowground, and it was several flights of stairs up before he could return to the light-filled world . He really had little purpose these days, but he liked to pretend that he did, and liked to walk all across the fort just to find someone he could easily locate later, or to do a favor for someone that did not need doing. Some might call him an overachiever; he tended to subscribe to the view that idle hands were the devil's workshop.
As he passed through the courtyard, he nearly ran into Kaziji, who was striding equally purposefully across the sunlit plaza. The lycin's deep red sari swirled as he swerved to avoid hitting the distracted orc, and Guerru came to an abrupt halt as he realized how close he had just come to walking into the ambassador.
"Excuse me," he mumbled, still somewhat distractedly. The ambassador still seemed to be shuffling, impatient to be off.
"It's all right," snapped Kaziji, vaguely remembering Guerru as someone of some importance but failing to match face with position. Guerru nodded curtly, and then continued on his path; Kaziji in his own. The former was heading nowhere in hurry, the latter heading somewhere... to find someone that he did not yet know. Neither had any conception of what the day's labors would bring, or the series of events that they would set into motion.
But of course, events are rarely as simple that one can anticipate them ahead of time. All that is usually possible is to try to engineer things as best you can, and then to count on fate to supply the luck.
But neither of the two wayward soldiers believed in luck.
* * *
There was a stiff yawn as rough jostling slowly brought Arriero from blissful unconsciousness back into the unpleasantly sunlit world. Him muscles felt limp, his body insensate, and he could only vaguely hear the distant words that were just beginning to flit into his sleep-swaddled brain, from what felt like very far away.
He couldn't tell what they were yet, and he tried to will his ears to listen harder. But his inexorable advance toward alertness continued at its tortoise pace, and he could only with agonizing torpidity feel the beginning of sensation in his body. He could still hear the shouting, and now there was a strange ringing in his ears, like a bell inside his head. It was rather odd, really, he thought dully, that there was a bell inside his head.
It was very loud, and it hurt.
Hurt more, now. The onset of a really horrendous headache was becoming rapidly apparent, and his body was lagging behind his brain in alertness.
His senses still felt rather dull, but now he could hear the voice shouting at him clearly, altogether too clearly, he winced inwardly, as the voice came crashing over him:
"Wake up, wake up; you're late," it was saying, and he blinked open his eyes, only to see a huge white blur around him. There was, however, a distinct green shape looming over him, and he correctly supposed from the voice and the context (evidence of his regained mental faculties) that the stranger was in fact Sarriq.
Sarriq, floated the word. Sarriq. For a moment, he blanked on an identity to go with the name, and be briefly panicked that his momentary amnesia might be more far-reaching that he had thought, but then recognition came, along with a general resolution of the white blur, and return of sensation to his limbs. He slipped abruptly out of his sleepy stupor, although the throbbing in his head and aching muscles persisted still, with a vengeance.
"What... what...?" he managed to mutter thickly, his tongue seeming to be in the way rather than helping to make the sounds.
"You're late!" said Sarriq once more, still shaking him. It wasn't helpful. His legs were shaking anyway.
"Late? What?" he asked, rather more coherently, raising himself to a tentative position balancing on one arm and propping himself up at a slight angle. A first step to actually sitting up.
"Lines were fifteen minutes ago!" Lines. Lines. Another brief moment of bewilderment, and then shock. Fear, almost. Lines.
"Shit," muttered Arriero, and suddenly adrenaline flooded through his body.
Fifteen minutes. He tossed back the heavy blankets, and instantly shivered at the chill morning. What time was it? As if reading his mind, Sarriq responded:
"It's almost a quarter past five," he remarked, with a certain sense of urgency. "Hurry up!" What was Sarriq doing here? He had to be in lines himself. He crawled out of bed, scrabbling on the ground for his discarded uniform from the evening before. Where had he put it?
"Here," said Sarriq, shoving it into his hands. It was wadded into a ball, and smelled awful. What had he been doing? It didn't matter now.
"I can't wear this! Where's a clean one?" demanded Arriero. It was bad enough to show up late--it would be impossible to arrive in that uniform. He rooted through the bag in the corner of the tent, finally finding another folded cloth uniform. He flew into it, almost bringing down the tent in his speed to don the crisp new clothing. He would need to get it all cleaned earlier than he thought. Was there a cleaning service in the fort? He didn't know that either. Perhaps he should ask. He'd need one sooner or later. As he dressed, he asked brusquely of Sarriq:
"What are you doing here?" Sarriq looked uncomfortable for a moment, then replied: I thought that you were coming when I left this morning; Oro said that you were still sleeping when he left when I saw him on my way to lines.
I came straight back here to wake you up, but it took five minutes to..."
"Never mind," said Arriero, casting about for boots. They were around there somewhere... there was one. "Where's my other boot?" Sarriq looked behind him, and then handed over a crushed piece of footwear. It was really unserviceable as well, but there was nothing to be done about that. He pulled them on, then scrambled to lace them up as quickly as possible. He nearly broke one lace and tangled the other into a knot, and finally left it tucked into the interior of the shoe.
Snatching up his scabbard and weapon from the far corner of the tent, he deftly threaded the belt around his waist as he half-stood. "Come on, let's go!" he said, following Sarriq out of the tent. The sun was scarcely over the far hills; there was only a faint glimmer of red at the horizon.
Another time, Arriero might have stopped for a moment to see how long it would take for the sun to rise, but there was no time now for such pleasantries.
Hurrying desperately, they disappeared into a corridor and rushed to get up to the auditorium.
There was the faint sound of footsteps outside, approaching, and then halting somewhere. A short while later, a soldier walked quickly into the room, saluted smartly to Drillmaster Wetrath who stood alertly watching his charges as they scampered about the room. The drillmasters, as might be expected, were working overtime, with little else of any value to occupy the time of the many new conscripts (which the warcaptains had so eloquently demanded from headquarters). Day in and day out, there was little to do but to put the young soldiers through the same exercises, hoping that it would make them better soldiers. Wetrath did not think so, but it had not been his decision to sequester the army at the fort for the summer.
In his humble (or indeed, not so humble) opinion, they should have marched straight on, and the lycin be damned! It was one thing to leave the curious creatures alone, and quite another to stop a spectacularly successful campaign merely because they were inconsiderate enough to have had the same idea and executed it first. But, unfortunately (as he would often note to himself in a sour tone), he was not making the policy decisions.
And now they had one of them stationed at the fort! Of all the bad decisions that had been made, this was the worst. Or rather, it was a symptom of the greater problem. They were not marching pat the lycin; they were not plowing through the arrogant wolfies (as he like many of the more irreverent orcs liked to call them) as they should be, they were treating with them! Inviting them to sit down at nice tables and talk... and talk...
and talk. Nothing had really been decided yet, and for his money, at this rate nothing ever would be. Diplomacy, hah! It was just a cover for delays and incompetence. The real work was done out here, he liked to remind himself to keep his good humor, although he would often add after that (when in a bad mood), or rather out there--outside of the godawful elf fort that they were trapped in.
And he wasn't the only one. No one liked spending the whole summer locked away in the mountains. They hadn't signed up for lolling in the summer sun, they could do that back home! They had come to rid the world of the detestable elves, and they were being stopped from their path by the lycin.
That really made the lycin part of the problem, regardless of how they felt regarding the orcs' mission. The lycin stood between they and their rightful destination. And as any drillmaster worth his salt could tell you, there was only one thing to be done when an army met an obstacle.
But he was not a mutinous sort of orc, nor was he given to fomenting discord. He kept his thoughts to himself, and reminded himself that it was always possible that something larger was being done, something that perhaps he did not necessarily set see. That was all he could really hope for, but he had faith in the general dogma of the orcish army, and was willing to wait for quite a while on faith alone. After all, treasonous thoughts only help the enemy. The commander is always right.
But the commander wasn't making the decisions, was he? There was a void, a space that still none had filled. The commander had shamefully been crippled in what was really a freak accident, and had needed the lycin to save his life. Why couldn't he have simply died? asked Wetrath, quickly retracting the thoughts. Still, he mused, it would have been far easier if the commander had died in the accident. The fort would have had an able commander, one who would have taken action.
Rajenique was an honorable man, but who could be expected to lead from a stretcher? No one, of course. Rajenique could not be expected to lead!
And you could not mutiny against a commander who is not in command...
No, he thought, biting off such thoughts once more. It would all turn out well in the end. Rajenique was recovering, he would be well soon, and then they would perhaps leave. He would get the job done.
Of that Wetrath had to have faith.
For at least a little while longer.
Sarriq looked up as the soldier walked hurriedly into the room and held a brief whispered conversation with the drillmaster. Beside him, Arriero was still dutifully scrubbing the floor, in a vain attempt to get the many layers of dirt off the stone tiles with but the water that the pail beside him contained. The drillmaster had not been pleased that they had been late, and thus while the rest of their crew participated in actual exercises, they were stuck scrubbing the floor. At least, mused Sarriq as his mind wandered briefly, they weren't on latrine detail.
"Line up!" came bellowing voice of the drillmaster. Sarriq was surprised;
exercises were supposed to last for another few hours before it was time for the midday break. With practiced efficiency, the young troops hurried over from their various points of engagement around the large room and formed neat, crisp lines in front of the drillmaster.
Sarriq and Arriero, assigned now as they were to cleanup detachment, did not move, although both of their head bobbed up in interest as the lines formed. They would be at the job for the next three weeks, because of the tardiness. The drillmaster was certainly on edge.
The door to the outside world opened suddenly, and a swath of color swept in, so quickly that the two took a moment to see that the visitor was the lycin ambassador himself, arrayed in crimson finery which seemed singularly out of place in the drab auditorium, populated by soldiers garbed in linens of gray, green, and brown. He moved quickly toward the center of the room, where Drillmaster Wetrath was still standing at attention.
"Good day, ambassador," he said stiffly as the ambassador walked up, not neglecting to smartly salute the lycin. The ambassador (what was his name?)
returned the gesture in fine form, and then there was a brief pause.
"Ambassador Kaziji"--the drillmaster pronounced it poorly--"wishes to speak to you regarding an issue of some importance." He looked at his troops meaningfully. Any misbehavior now would spell punishment far worse than latrine duty. Kaziji wasn't even a soldier; he needed to be treated with doeskin gloves. Or however the saying went.
"Thank you, drillmaster." Kaziji nodded politely to the drillmaster, who stepped back a pace to allow the lycin to address the crowd. There were eighty orcs in the crew, although a few were missing on special designation, and a few more were simply missing. Four lines of fifteen each were enough to account for all present.
"I realize that you are all fruitfully engaged, so I will not take too much of your time," began Kaziji, looking very earnest. The ranks were perfectly still under Wetrath's heavily-lidded but watchful eye.
"I have been stationed at this fort for nearly two months now, and I have familiarized myself with some aspects of your culture and society. But this is a military assignment, and this is a military fortification. The niceties of diplomatic life do little to acquaint me with the actuality of the life of the orcish soldier."
"Coinciding with my realization of this, is the drastic increase of my workload here. As you are no doubt aware, my government and yours have been engaged in negotiations for a month now, trying to establish better relations between our two species. I personally look forward to the day when our two peoples may mingle freely among each other count each other as friends."
He even speaks like a diplomat, though Wetrath moodily, his expression betraying his impatience with the loquaciousness of the lycin. Kaziji, who could not see the expression, continued, oblivious to the drillmaster's discomfiture:
"These negotiations have produced a great need for understanding between the orcish and lycin races. More than ever, we must understand one another if we are to finally reach agreement. My government understands this well, and I have learned that your own government is taking similar actions as I will regarding your emissaries to lycin-controlled areas."
"I need hardly belabor the problems with diplomacy," he said suddenly, almost as if interjecting, for his face took on the look of one sharing an intimate secret among friends. "After all, it is certainly inefficient, characteristically petty, and above all enormously wasteful of the time of all involved. Understanding your culture has not been easy, all the more so because this is a military establishment."
"But I want to understand you," he said. "We want to understand you. Only when we both can appreciate the sensibilities of the other can we truly establish a lasting friendship." He smiled beatifically. A few orcs in the ranks seemed edgy, and more were fidgeting. This was a rare lycin; mostly were brutally frank and pleasingly brusque. This one liked to talk a little too much.
"To this end, I would like to recruit a few of you to help me with my everyday work, but more importantly, to give me a chance to understand the mind of an orcish soldier. I have conferred with your drillmaster and the appropriate authorities, and we have agreed that any volunteers will be relieved of their normal duties to serve as attaches to the lycin ambassador. It will be an official change of assignment; you will not be on leave. I must stress that I only want to have a few motivated orcs to volunteer; I want to see that you really want the orcs and the lycin to become friends. But you will have a chance to affect the course of history;
you will be representing your race at a crucial turning point in time. I want you, the soldiers: the unaffected, the young, the honest." He paused for dramatic effect.
"If there are any volunteers from this crew, you may speak with your drillmaster at your earliest convenience. Thank you." The ambassador saluted once more to the drillmaster, and then walked briskly from the room.
No doubt he had many other crews to visit and make the same speech to.
"Do you want the orcs and the lycin to be friends?" asked Sarriq quietly as the lines broke to return to their exercises.
"If it means getting out of cleanup, absolutely!" said Arriero. "And besides, maybe we'll actually make a difference. We sure as hell aren't making one here."
"He did say that," said Sarriq thoughtfully, as he scrubbed the floor.
Only two orcs signed up for the ambassador's plan. Kaziji had only visited the one crew, and the rest of those there thought that it would be far more rewarding to continue the exercises than to run around with some loony lycin who wanted to make the world a nicer place. The drillmaster glared at them as they expressed their desire to take up the ambassadors offer--their motivation was painfully obvious--but all the same their request was forwarded through the chain of command, approval given, and Sarriq and Arriero became the first orcs in the fort to be assigned to diplomatic duties.
* * *
Arriero woke with a start, remembering him embarrassing lateness the day before. The tent around him was dark, and the air was quiet, devoid of the normal sounds of orcs moving about; talking cursing, and in general making a racket of themselves. It was early. He lay in his sleeping roll for a short time, thinking.
It was only two weeks since he had arrived. Idealistic, perhaps. The training camps did nothing if not instill a healthy dose of righteousness in every one of its graduates, sending them off to fight in wars that they knew to be on the side of Goodness and Light.
Of course, out here on the front line, usually a highly-sought after position, little was happening. He was an underachiever at heart, bright but unapplied. He had stumbled with almost drunken lack of direction through early life, and gone to training camp only because Sarriq, possessed of rather less intelligence and somewhat more forethought, had wanted to.
It had, he reflected, turned out well enough in the end. They had been fed and housed for free for a year, and now they were going to have the same for as long as they served in the grand orcish Army, and perhaps they might even have some entertaining adventures, get some good stories for reminiscing over when they were old and remembering their youth. It made for good memories.
These days, the army was getting less discriminating with those whom it allowed past the brass orc visages which hung over the gate to ever training camp. At one time only seasoned trainees were sent out to fight--the training program lasted six years or more--but nowadays almost anyone who could get through the basic program was shipped out. A degradation of standards, thought Arriero idly (he only used such language when thinking, sadly). He was only seventeen. Only seventeen. Back home it had seemed pretty old already. And yet here he was. Looking at the rest of his life and not seeing much of any value.
And that was what was really bothering him (the thoughts seemed destined to come fast and furious this morning). It had always seemed before that there was time for everything, anything he wanted to do. Now he was out here, and stuck here for the next three years, and there wasn't much that could be done about that. Then he would be twenty. What would he be doing then?
What could he be doing? It was nagging at him, and like so many irritating little things, it popped up every so often and pulled at his conscience.
But did he really want anything special? HE wasn't anyone particularly special; his life wasn't special; nothing and no one that he had ever done or met was or ever would be special. He was just one more orc in an overpopulated country, one more orc in an army that would likely sit in this elvish fort for the rest of eternity.
The military was just getting more and more undesirable, he thought cynically. It's all these people like me--lowering the standards, making a bad impression. It was pretty stupid of them to let me in at all. But they had. Their loss. He wasn't going to be held responsible for the stupidity of the powers that be. So here he was, another cog (a misshapen one, he fatuously imagined) in the machinery of war, with nothing more to be proud of than the uniform. And there was precious little honor left in that.
Then why was he here? Was it really just to get out of cleanup? Was he just going into another rut in the road of life to wallow in the mud of failure? And yet, he was feeling, faintly but still there, a feeling that he had not had in a long time. It was a feeling of purpose. Perhaps there was something to what the ambassador (who cares if he IS lycin, anyway?) had said. They could make a difference. They really could, if they tried.
No, that was silly, he responded quickly. Just another fantasy of making the world a better place. The ambassador was just talking shit. He wants some people around to handle paperwork, and that's all.
No way that he actually wanted to change anything.
"I am glad to see that there are at least some orcs in this fort who would like to see some changes," began Kaziji. Sarriq and Arriero sat in two plush chairs facing the ambassador, who was standing and pacing back and forth slowly.
"We're just here to help," said Arriero.
"Of course," said Kaziji. "But do you really understand what you volunteered for? You understand the power of knowledge?" Arriero looked blank, and so Kaziji continued:
"We will be setting the standard by which many others will look back and think of the orcs. Through our efforts, we will tell others what to believe! And they will have no choice but to believe it, for it will be the only such compilation of facts around!"
"Believe what?" asked Arriero.
"What it's like to be an orc, to be a recruit in the army, to be at this fort!" said Kaziji. He wasn't shouting, but his voice was exuberant, his words enthusiastic. "You will be telling the world about you!"
"You would want to hear about us?" asked Arriero incredulously, with a sloppy grin plastered across his face.
"Everyone. Everyone! Don't you think that the lycin--any lycin--might want to hear an orc's perspective on life? Don't you think other orcs might want to see what soldiers think? What adolescents think?"
"I guess so," mumbled Arriero, embarrassed. "But why us? Why should we represent those things you said?"
"Because you want to! It's the people that desire change, that want it bad enough, that will actually make a difference. Nobody else is going to do this. You will."
"But how?" Sarriq wanted to know, speaking up for the first time.
"I'm going to write down your impressions, your thoughts, your ideas, what you say, what you do... Can either of your write?"
Arriero said "A little."
"I can," admitted Sarriq.
"You'll have to be responsible for writing down your thoughts and Arriero's when I'm not around; try to write down as much as you can--"
"Arri," said Arriero. There was a pause. "My name is Arri. At least, that's what everyone calls me."
"Arriero," replied Kaziji firmly, leaving no room open for argument.
"You're an adult now, and there's no reason for such diminutives." Arriero opened his mouth to argue, but then quickly closed it again.
"I'll still call you Arri," whispered Sarriq. Kaziji heard quite clearly but pretended not to, waiting for Sarriq to finish before continuing.
"In any case, you will not have to follow me around like lapdogs. I trust you two to keep track of your own thoughts and impressions of life. Just write them down, and give them to me every day to transcribe. Don't write down anything of a confidential or privileged nature; I wouldn't want to impose on your sense of propriety. Besides that, please try to get everything down. I want to have a complete picture of your lives. We'll meet every day for a short while to talk about the project and see how it's going and what you think of it."
"No paperwork?" asked Arriero incredulously.
"No paperwork," confirmed Kaziji. "I can take care of that myself." He paused. "You thought I was just bringing you in here to do my work for me?"
Arriero nodded reluctantly. "Glad to disabuse you of that notion."
"Write down everything?" asked Sarriq.
"This is a full-time job," replied Kaziji in a remonstrative tone of voice.
"You shouldn't dawdle all day. On the other hand, you're free to do whatever you want as long as you write it down. In fact, I encourage you to try things that you haven't before. Be adventurous."
"I can do adventurous," said Arriero with a smile.
"Glad to hear that." There was a long pause. "I'm sorry that I couldn't arrange quarters for you, but everything is filled. I hope that you can make do with the tent you have... I'll keep working on that."
"Thanks a lot," said Sarriq.
Kaziji strode over to the window and peered out into the courtyard below.
"Now, it's a fine day, and there are a million things you could be doing."
He walked back over to the desk and withdrew a wad of paper and several quill pens. Giving them to Sarriq, he said: "I expect these to be filled within the week."
"Now get out there and start having fun." Kaziji did not miss the incredulous glance shared between Arriero and Sarriq on the way out.
It had gone perfectly.
* * *
"Congratulations!" cried Kaziji, momentarily shedding his stern demeanor.
"We've completed the first volume of An Orc's Accounting!" Sarriq and Arriero stood slightly ill at ease by the wall, but within a moment Kaziji's infectious enthusiasm had spread, and they were grinning as well.
They had been working on the book not-stop for the last two week; every day, Sarriq and Arriero would wander about, looking for inspirations, and every evening, they would visit Kaziji in his apartments and discuss the day's writings. Over the last two weeks, they had grown more at ease around the ambassador, and even began to look forward to the impromptu sessions.
The entire affair was becoming one of the better experiences in both of their short lives.
"Yeah, we did, didn't we?" said Arriero, his trademark sloppy smile hanging loosely over his rough features. Kaziji nodded.
"This is going to change everything," the lycin cried jubilantly. "And you two are to thank for it. With my help, you are going to finish this series of journals and be recognized. And may I add," he said almost as an afterthought, "That you did not do yourself justice when you admitted a modicum of writing abilities. Sarriq, I have rarely seen such masterful authorship, even in the most scholarly of works." Sarriq smiled happily, accepting the compliment gracefully.
"Thanks," he said simply. "But what now?"
"Yeah," chimed in Arriero suddenly. "It's only been two weeks since we started and we're already done with the first book."
"It's only the first," said Kaziji. "There will no doubt be many more to come; I can tell just by looking at you two that you have so much more to say and to tell to world. You must continue on this quest!"
"More of the same?" asked Arriero for the first time seeming a tad disgruntled.
"Of course," said Kaziji. "What you've done so far is masterful. Don't change anything; you've found your stride and you should keep it."
"But--" began Arriero, determined to make his point.
"This is perfect," continued the ambassador, undaunted. "You write well;
and more importantly, the content is exemplary. You are industrious and yet cunning; insightful but not abstruse. You act with great personal dignity and valor, without seeming to austere. You are the Everyorc." Arriero was going to ask about several of the words that Kaziji had used, but checked himself before he opened his mouth. It would just make him look stupid.
And he wasn't stupid, was he? He had just finished a great novel, been part of the production of a work that would change the world! He was actually Doing Something, and making some sort of difference. He was showing the world that he was an integral part; no, better yet, a creature to be admired. After all, he and Sarriq were starring in what would become a textbook for orcish life. He would be famous! Admired! He was the Everyorc (whatever that meant).
"I guess you're right, sir. I don't know what I was thinking." Same sloppy grin.
"Never mind that, I knew what you meant all along," said Kaziji sympathetically. He paused, as if in thought.
"We need to discuss the format for the next book in any case," he said,
"but in need some time to finish come paperwork first." Kaziji glanced briefly out the window: the sun had set a short while ago, and it was early night. "Why don't you two come back in a few hours and we can discuss where we are going from here in greater depth."
"Sure," said Sarriq. "That's late, but we'll be fine."
"I doubt that you two of all people need to worry about lateness," said Kaziji, winking conspiratorially at them. "Perhaps we'll have some fun tonight." He opened the door for his two young proteges to leave, and shut it firmly behind them. He stood silently for a moment in the darkness, and then strode quickly over to his desk where the collected sheaves of papers that formed the first volume sat. Seizing them, he stuffed them decisively into the back of his already-packed closet. The world would never see the trite, amateur blather that those two had written, he reflected briefly.
Indeed, it would be a miracle if it ever left his closet.
That complete, he left the room to prepare for Arriero and Sarriq's return later in the night... as usual, he had much to do.
At around eleven o'clock that night, Arriero and Sarriq crept quietly out of their tent and crossed the moonlit courtyard with the confidence of those and a mission and the stealth of those who know the consequences of being caught. Curfew was nine-thirty, or more precisely, when the Tooth-Star appeared over the far horizon. Although there was much movement about after that time, those doing the moving were high-ranking officers who were busy enough to warrant a certain degree of blindness to their peccadilloes, and to those few orcs who were actually on special assignments. Sarriq and Arriero were on neither, and knew that they would need to break curfew to attend the meeting with the ambassador--which only made it all the more enticing.
Adrenaline pumped through Arriero's veins as he dashed silent as a shadow across the tiled courtyard. Just behind him, Sarriq followed, but as Arriero streaked along, Sarriq showed signs of a slight limp in his left leg. He still scuttled through the darkness quickly, but their was a stiffness to his movement that seemed awkward. He hurried to keep up with the more sprightly Arriero, but quickly they had both cleared the danger zone of the open plaza and disappeared into one of the many passages leading into the fortified castle.
From far above, a pair of silvery eyes watched from the darkness of the windows of the only diplomatic suite in the fort. For a moment after two adolescents had quit the courtyard, they continued to peer out into the night, but then they winked shut and were gone into the darkness that was all around.
Arriero knocked quietly on the stout wooden door leading to the ambassadors rooms, trying to gauge the sound and insure that it did not echo in the hall too loudly. He waited for a short while, and he was about to knock again, louder (and hope that it didn't draw any attention to them) when the door suddenly swung open. Light spilled out in a pale yellow square into the unlit hallway, and both Arriero and Sarriq blinked in the sudden appearance of light.
Kaziji stood silhouetted in the portal, holding the door open for his two guests. Both stepped gingerly forward, still squinting in what was really not that bright light. Slowly, their irises contracted to black points, and the room swam back into focus. The faint white fuzz cleared away, and bright colors returned.
The room was much as they had seen it before, but now candles burned merrily on the shelves and desk, and a few lanterns hung from the ceiling to make the room even brighter than during the day. The windows at the back of the stone wall were shuttered and curtained off, apparently to make sure that none of light escaped from the room to bother any officers who were wandering the fort later than they ought. Several plates of delectable-looking comestibles were placed haphazardly on the desk and stools, small tidbits of matter slipping over the sides and in a few cases having already fallen to the floor. A few flagons on the hutch of the desk were the drinks that Kaziji had evidently obtained, and through their faintly translucent glass exterior, the two orcs could see a dark green liquid with a frothy surface sitting tranquilly within. Kaziji himself had shed his fine vermilion robes, in favor of a more natural state. For a moment, Arriero looked puzzled, while Sarriq merely nodded, and then Kaziji swept suddenly out of the room without a word.
"Lycin don't wear clothes," whispered Sarriq knowingly to Arriero as their host vanished.
"What?" demanded Arriero rather more loudly than he would have liked.
"He's been clothed since we first met him!"
"No doubt as a concession to our comfort and sense of propriety...I suppose that when he's alone he likes to act more normally." Sarriq sounded assured of himself, even more than usual.
"Normally?" asked Arriero incredulously, and was about to go on when Kaziji came back in, with several glasses.
"Sorry," he said briefly. "I'd forgotten to bring out glasses for us all."
"This is quite a feast," said Sarriq appreciatively, looking appraisingly at the food and drink.
"No more than you deserve," averred Kaziji as he brushed by Arriero to place the glasses on the desk.
"Thank you," stammered Arriero uncertainly.
"It was the least I could do," said Kaziji firmly. "After all, this whole project was my idea to begin with; and you two have breathed life into it where I could never have hoped to do so."
"You said something about discussing the possibilities for the next volume..." began Sarriq. Arriero was merely eyeing the food hungrily and seemed not to be paying much attention. Kaziji frowned.
"There'll be plenty of time for that later," he said, perhaps a bit brusquely to Sarriq's ear.
"Yeah, Sarriq," said Arriero. "Let's just have a little fun." Kaziji's frown melted away, and he picked up one of the platters from the stool next to him, proffering it at the two standing orcs. Arriero sniffed at the food and looked askance of Sarriq, who looked to Kaziji.
"The little red things are seasoned fish; the violet-speckled globes are a quite sweet variety of fruit; and the meat strips are... well... meat." He did not mention than the jerky had come from his own personal store, and that they were more likely than not the last remains of an enemy of the lycin whom had fallen somewhere. He had thought briefly about trying to smuggle food out of the kitchens at the fort, but then decided that it would be easier to just put out a spread from his own personal stores. Besides, there was hardly any difference in taste once the meat had been dried, cured and pressed, and they would never know the difference.
Arriero picked up one of the meet strips, glanced at it briefly, and quickly slurped it in, long black tongue briefly appearing outside his mouth to lick his lips. He chewed for a moment, looked indecisively into the air, and then with a great gulp swallowed.
"Tasty," he said. "What sort of meat is it?"
"Mutton, I believe," said Kaziji, easily keeping a straight face. Sarriq, who had no doubt been aware of the diet of the lycin as well as their apparel, sighed inwardly and took a piece himself. It did not occur to either than the ambassador might be lying.
* * *
Some time later, the meat had been scavenged from every plate (it seemed that orcs liked elf rather well in the end), the fruits carefully nibbled at and the fish thoroughly avoided ("I don't like anything that doesn't have blood," said Arriero when asked). Kaziji rose from the stiff-backed wooden chair in which he had been sitting and walked over to the flagons.
"Care for a drink, gentlemen?" he asked smoothly. Arriero looked us and Sarriq nodded politely for the both of them. Kaziji picked up the three glasses which he had left on the desk and placed them on the hutch next to the flagon. Selecting one of the great glass jugs, he tipped it over, pouring a goodly portion of the frothy liquid into each of the three glasses. Putting down the flagon, he carefully picked up all three of the glasses in one great hand, and padded back to the two waiting orcs. Neither of them saw that two of the glasses had had a strange powder liberally applied to the base before the fluid had been poured into the cup. Kaziji handed the first of these two special drinks to Sarriq, and the second to Arriero, saving the last, unadulterated drink for himself.
"To us, and to all the difference that the Account will make for everyone,"
toasted Kaziji, raising his glass high, and then draining the contents in a single gulp. Arriero and Sarriq duplicated the action, holding them high and then downing the contents.
"What is that stuff?" asked Arriero after a moment had passed. "It's delicious." Sarriq nodded his agreement.
"I believe that it's mainly formed of pulverized meat and fruit seasonings," replies Kaziji, again neglecting to mention the source of the meat. "As you surmise, it's quite a delicacy." The three jugs were the extent of the lycin's store of the stuff, but he had considered it worthwhile to give each of the orcs a taste of such a delectable beverage along with the drugs. Besides, the rest of the drinks that he possessed were alcohol based; and orc reacted very poorly to alcohol, even in relatively trace amounts. It wouldn't do to have them both going into paroxysms on the floor of his room. So he was left with either water or the chiliki, and he feared that the concoctions with which he had laced their respective drinks might be detectable in water. It was unthinkable that anything should be sensed in the overpoweringly cloying flavor of the chiliki, and indeed neither of his two charges seemed to have tasted anything besides the spicy-sweet flavor of the meat drink. He was pleased.
Just a few for minutes.
They chatted aimlessly for a short while, and then Kaziji caught the first signs of the pale tendrils creeping over the red surface of Sarriq's eye.
Arriero was talking, saying something about his opinions on the training program the orc's had, but Kaziji wasn't listening, he carefully watched Sarriq, who seemed to feel the creeping onset of the drug himself, for his eyes blinked rapidly and began to tear slightly in a reflexive fashion. But it was too little, too late. Sarriq's body slumped back in the hard wooden chair that he sat in, his muscles slowly relaxing and his eyes falling shut suddenly, blotting out the red-white streaked surface underneath that was a dead giveaway for the action of the orudrah-root, which acted as a rapid and powerful soporific when administered in even small amount orally.
It was a discovery of the elves, who were experts at both alchemy and horticulture, which made it natural that they should be well-equipped with a diverse stock of pharmaceuticals. But the lycin were equally to happy to use them at times like this, and thus went to great length to seize the valuable substances as spoils of war when the elves' forts and strongholds were overrun, and more importantly, to keep some of the occupants of the larder alive long enough to explain what each did. Orudrah had proved to be one of the more effective and common of these findings, which meant that Kaziji had an ample store with him, in addition to many other drugs which might prove useful. For the more rare or esoteric concoctions, he had to send back to the nearest outpost to have a small quantity sent out.
Fortunately, the other drug he had administered that evening had been fairly common as well. As Sarriq slumped, Kaziji turned back to Arriero, who was still talking, though a certain slurring was overtaking his words.
Still, he seemed quite animated, and was somewhat perturbed when Kaziji suddenly interrupted, pointing to Sarriq, who was now in a deep sleep which was all but unbreakable.
"I think that your friend has fallen asleep... long night for him, I guess." Sarriq sat upright in the chair, eyes still closed, wheezing softly
(the orudrah tended to make the victim wheeze, although even the elves were unsure as to why).
"Yeah, I see," said Arriero glibly. "Too bad for him; I guess he just couldn't take the party."
"That's right, Arriero. He just couldn't take it." Kaziji smiled quietly to himself as Arriero launched into another long monologue, this time enumerating in graphic detail a certain encounter with a girl some years ago...
About half an hour later, Arriero's frantic gesticulations has passed their peak, his tone had fallen from exuberantly dynamic to a slow and plodding monotone that seemed to drift on and on in the flickering darkness of the room. The candles had burnt down and the lanterns were running low on their stores of oil--Kaziji had only put in enough for a few hours. They would last perhaps an hour longer, but the light was already flickering as the wicks strained to draw oil up from the reservoir below. Arriero was slouching on the plush couch, and Kaziji sat across from him on a wooden chair identical to that on which Sarriq still slept soundly across the room.
Arriero had just finished an old fairy tale that he had been relating--with lascivious remarks inserted are regular intervals regarding Arriero's personal opinion of the fable--and was now looking about with half-glazed eyes, squinting faintly in the dark to see the lycin that sat before him.
The drug which now coursed through Arriero's body was a fairly mild one, merely a disinhibitor that would make Arriero feel more relaxed and at ease.
It did have the slight side effect of eventually leaving him tired--though not knocked out as Sarriq was--but that was just fine for Kaziji's purposes.
"Getting late," the ambassador said, his voice seeming to come out of the darkness.
"Yeah it is..." said Arriero, his voice trailing off weakly. He was getting tired, Kaziji could sense that, but he was not exhausted yet.
"Maybe it's time for you to get back to sleep," suggested Kaziji gently.
"I don't need to sleep yet," said Arriero petulantly. "I'm not tired. This is great." He blinked his eyelids to try to be rid of the sleepiness that trickled over his glassy red eyes. The glow even seemed a little less bright, Kaziji thought, and he realized that perhaps he given the orc too much of the disinhibitor, and perhaps Arriero was actually going to fall asleep.
"Why don't I get you another drink?" said Kaziji suddenly, and Arriero just nodded his assent. He needed a stimulant of some sort; one that wasn't so strong that it would make the orc jumpy, just something to wake him up a bit. He rummaged through a trunk in the next room, removed a false bottom, and began to sort through a menagerie of different colored powders, philters and other medicines stored in small glass vials. There was still a goodly amount of the unguent which he had so generously donated to the orcish infirmary, although the smell was pungent and he quickly shut its lid again as he passed it by. Arriero blinked insensately in the other room.
Finally finding the capsule he wanted, Kaziji quickly replaced the contents of the trunk and hurried back into the sitting room to sweep up Arriero's glass and drip a bit of blue-green liquid from the small bottle he clutched in one hand. He poured another half a glass of the chiliki in and swirled it around a few times to make sure that the hewa which he had added was not noticeable. He doubted that Arriero would taste it in any case, but it never hurt to be careful. He sat down opposite Arriero and placed the cup into Arriero's hand. The orc carefully sipped it once, and then swallowed the rest in one gulp.
"Thanks...it's been great," he slurred.
"Yes, I've had such a good time tonight with you," averred the lycin. He paused, waiting for Arriero to shift in place in the awkward silence, and then he continued: "So what do you want do now?"
"I dunno," mumbled Arriero, voice still thick. "Whatever... whatever's fun."
"What do you think is fun?" asked Kaziji, voice still soft and velvety. He took Arriero's glass from the flaccid hand and placed it on the small wooden table beside him. He thought that he had about two or three minutes before the drug took effect, returning vigor to the orc's limbs.. at least temporarily.
"I know what I want to do," said Kaziji. His hand slipped down to his furry sheath, and began to expertly knead the flesh there, digging his claws into the sensitive flesh and stroking the still-hidden member. Arriero stayed frozen for a moment, and then gaped at the sight of the lycin masturbating himself. The deep red head of the cock, heavily veined and smooth with its round mushroom-like top, soon emerged, quickly followed by the rest of the pulsating organ. Within a minute, Kaziji had the entire length of his cock standing free and hard, arrow straight from his crotch, pointing upward like a flagpole at the indeterminate darkness of the ceiling above. The massive knot at the base seemed to be still small, but Arriero could not wrest his eyes from the sight of the massive tool that quivered strongly in the gloom of the lycin's chamber. Kaziji moaned, more for show than because of the pleasure which he was giving himself, and Arriero could only watch in rapt silence.
"When was the last time you had a woman?" demanded Kaziji suddenly, still masturbating himself fiercely with one hand.
"I--" began Arriero clumsily. "Before training... a long time... there aren't any girls here," said Arriero. It looked as though he was shedding his stupor, likely as a result of the lycin's outrageous action as much as the drug.
"And you can feel yourself hungering, can't you?" said Kaziji. Arriero seemed hesitant, for the lycin's voice was plaintiff, almost tender.
"Because you're a man with a deep thirst, Arriero. You're a very powerful man." Arriero's eyes seemed almost to gleam now, and Kaziji continued, keeping his voice carefully modulated to a soft pitch:
"And all powerful men like you need satisfaction."
Arriero stirred, he felt himself stirring at the words. "I...
need...satisfaction," he said slowly. "Yeah, yeah I do."
"For so long... you've had to wait. You've been so strong, and now you must take what you need."
"I need it, I do" said Arriero fervently.
"And I need you," whispered Kaziji so weakly that Arriero could barely hear him. "I need you to take me and use me to satisfy yourself."
"I need to take you," said Arriero, fierce red eyes blazing with passion, his mottled taupe brow beading with sweat from the heat and the drugs.
"Yes..." whispered Kaziji, slipping off of his chair and kneeling before Arriero. "Please take me... you need me."
"I must, I have to..." said Arriero incoherently, staring down at the lycin who groveled before him. "I have to have you." Kaziji's dexterous fingers slipped up the front of the rumpled cloth of the uniform, quickly reaching the crotch before Arriero had even finished his words. Kaziji deftly slipped open the buckle of the tight black belt, and then it was the work of a moment to pull the trousers of the uniform down a few centimeters.
Underneath, Arriero was clad in blue linen shorts, which Kaziji tugged down as well. A dark black sausage lay beneath, just beginning to swell as Kaziji laid it bare. It was good-sized for the orc's age, perhaps fifteen centimeters or so, and fairly thick. A great mass of dark gray-green spots clustered around the orc's cock, far more than the lycin had ever seen on an orc in his limited experience.
Arriero's member was swelling quickly, and Kaziji whispered "A powerful tool for a powerful man," and stood up quietly as Arriero watched his own cock grow to its full length of a little over twenty centimeters. It stuck up ramrod straight, parallel to Kaziji's, which had not dropped since he had first exposed it. The black hood was pulled back to reveal the orc's own bulb, and beneath it the corkscrewed pole, roughly patterned in dark spots and contoured by its sharp ridges. Both orc and lycin stared at it for a moment, and then Kaziji, knowing that the entire encounter was based on his initiative, stepped forward and sat down in the orc's lap.
Kaziji felt the exquisite sensation of the orc's cock pressing up into his as he slid down onto the orc, the ridges massaging his soft anal flesh as his sunk. The last five centimeters of the thing pressed into the tight inner canal, and Arriero moaned for the first time as his cock pressed into that heavenly space so tight that it sucked audibly as the cock forced its way in, but not so much so that it was a strain to push in. A few more seconds, and then Kaziji felt the rough bunched fabric of the orc's uniform beneath his lean furred buttocks.
"Take me, I need you, Arriero!" sighed Kaziji.
"Yes, yes," gasped Arriero as he galvanized and threw his arms up to grasp the lycin's strong chest. Kaziji pulled himself upward on the taut pole, trying to indicate to the stunned orc what was required of him. In a moment, Arriero got the idea, and began to buck his hips, thrusting both cock and lycin into the air. The orc's hands pulled at the strong pectorals of the lycin, kneading them, playing with the tiny nipples and stroking the fur. It was an amateur job, though Kaziji as he rose once more on the young orc's strong thrusts, but decent enough.
"Show me what you are," growled Kaziji in the throes of the passion, suddenly sounding challenging. "Show me that you're an orc, show me what you do to lycin!"
"I fuck 'em," growled Arriero, who only surged wore wildly, cock pounded deep into the lycin's insides, spearing the lycin inside out.
"Hurt me," demanded Kaziji, feel frustrated at the orc's obtusity. "Rip me, show me your power!" Arriero only growled for a moment, and increased the tempo of his thrusts, but then his hand moved, tearing into the furred skin of the lycin. Kaziji let himself whimper quietly, a bit louder as the orc raked his sharp claws through the small of his back, up his spine, across his buttocks. He slashed bloody marks into the lycin's lean chest and carved swathes through the dark hair of his abdomen. Violet blood leaked out from everywhere, matting down Kaziji's jet black fur and pooling underneath him on Arriero's uniform, squelching as the lycin's ass bounced up and down.
"You need this," whispered Kaziji as the orc tore into him, "You hunger for release, you lust to hurt and kill. You are an orc, you are mighty and strong." If Arriero heard this (and Kaziji knew that he must have) then he did not respond; he was no enthralled in the hypnotic cycle of the cock pounding in the lycin's asshole and his claws tearing into the muscle of the wolf.
"Yes," said Arriero harshly. "You are mine, bitch."
"Stop," said Kaziji suddenly. "Stop, stop, stop..." his protests faded meekly away under the iron scourge of the orc's eyes, which were hard and fast. "No, damn you! No...no..." cried Kaziji, trying hard not to smile as he protested.
"I can't take it... you're killing me," he said, but Arriero only plunged harder, deeper, faster into the lycin's beleaguered crack. Blood splashed into the orc's face as he tore open the knotted muscles in the arm, and he looked up with glee at the face of abject fear which Kaziji was trying so hard to keep glued across his wolfen features. "You're killing me," he repeated one last time, very quietly. Arriero's eyes shone crimson red, and he surged upward once more, and hung there, legs arched in the air, holding his cock deep into the wolf's ass.
"Oh god yes!" the orc cried as cum finally shot through his cock and exploded into the lycin. Kaziji smiled as he felt load after load smash into him, the cock leaping and jumping with an almost prehensile dance inside of him. He felt the volume of semen decrease slowly, and knew that soon the spines on the orc's cock would be deploying. Carefully, he let go of Arriero's shoulders, where he had been bracing himself, and feel backwards, landing expertly but undetectable on his side and suffering minimum damage--paltry in comparison to what the orc had already inflicted.
Arriero's cock bent painfully as the lycin tipped backwards, and then slipped out of the hole with a loud slurping sound, spraying cum and blood in a wide splatter across both orc and wolf. As Kaziji hit the ground with a muffled thud and the last of the semen burst out in a glorious black crescent of cum, the spines on Arriero's monstrous tool sprang out, making the cock look in silhouette against the last light of the lantern to be a great evil weapon. Arriero slumped back on the couch, drained and totally exhausted from the toll that the orgiastic sex and drugs had taken on his body. Both lay for a few minutes silently, and Kaziji listened intently to the orc's incoherent mutterings as he slipped slowly towards sleep.
As the orc's eyes finally slipped shut, he said one thing which the lycin could clearly hear: "Yeah, now I'm a man. I'm a real man now." Kaziji smiled to himself and waited a few more minutes for the orc to slip away, and then stood to clean up the mess.
* * *
By the time Arriero woke in the morning (and it was rather late morning), the apartment was clear of any traces of the revelries of the night before.
The platters and flagons were gone; the plates and glasses had bee removed, the blood and semen had been cleaned up, and somehow even his uniform seemed to be in perfect shape, with nary a blemish on it. He was, however, still dozing on the great plush red couch where it had all happened the night before. He rolled to the side, feeling the aches and creaks from the night's exertion, and already sensing the onset of a massive headache, and nausea as well...he supposed that he had just indulged to much on food.
Kaziji walked back in, garbed in his usual red sari, and looking his impeccable self. Arriero started when he saw the wolf, half-clouded memories of the night before flooding back at the image. He felt so disoriented; so confused, so...sick.
He turned and vomited onto the clean stone floor, and Kaziji shook his head disapprovingly and went to fetch a bag and sweep. When he returned, Arriero was sitting upright once more, and looking with a bewildered expression around the room.
"What happened last night?" he asked in an frightened tone, staring at Kaziji. The lycin knelt down on one knee in front of the orc and looked intensely into his eyes.
"You showed me who you really were, Arriero. You were amazing," hissed Kaziji. Arriero looked meek, and shied away from the large lycin.
"You did this to me!" cried the lycin, pulling apart the sari and letting it fall in shreds to the floor. All across the lycin's body, crisscrossing and scored deeply into the dark flesh, many still oozing with pus or blood, were a thousand marks of claws, where he had torn, rakes and ripped at the wolf.
"This is you!" cried Kaziji, leaning in so close to Arriero that the orc could smell the foulness of the lycin's breath. "This is how strong you can be...with me."
"With you?" asked Arriero, a little less hesitantly.
"You are a man of vast power, Arriero," he whispered ardently. "You can have that power when you are with me... do you remember?"
"Yes," said Arriero, looking at the lycin's naked body, covered in his own marks. "Yes, I remember." He licked his lips, and suddenly he heard a faint sound from behind Kaziji. The lycin sprang to his feet and quit the room, as Sarriq blinked heavily and looked around, yawning.
"Where are we... what's going on?" Sarriq asked, spying Arriero still sprawled on the couch.
"We're leaving," said Arriero, leaping to his feet, despite the headache, and walking over to Sarriq. "Come on, let's go." He hoisted the sluggish orc to his feet and helped Sarriq out the door and into the hall. After setting his companion down against the wall, he turned back to shut the door, and saw Kaziji standing in the center of the room, staring at him.
Arriero self-consciously dropped his gaze, and quickly shut the door, but not without one last look at the great cuts that covered the lycin's body.
As the door shut, Kaziji smiled once more. The boy was his.
Two days later, Kaziji was proven right. Arriero skipped dinner to come and see the lycin. Kaziji was meek and easily acceded to Arriero's unspoken desires, and within ten minutes the floor of the bedroom was splattered with the great magenta gobs of blood, the straw of the mattress soaked through.
Arriero opened some of the cuts he had inflicted the last time once more, and was elated to find that the lycin still thought that he was a man, although once the orgiastic sex was over, Kaziji seemed to look defeated.
As his faculties returned once more, Arriero inquired what was wrong, and Kaziji only said that it was something that no one could fix; a situation to big for any one man. He left it at that, and Arriero hurried back to the tent to as not to be missed by Sarriq.
The next day, the sex was even better; Arriero instructed Kaziji to give him a blowjob, with the great wolf did with masterful ease. Between panting breaths, Arriero yanked at the lycin's own cock, bringing the wolf to climax for the first time, and covering himself with the stringy gray-yellow semen of the wolf, who seemed to produce it in far less volume than did the young orc. Not as much of a man, thought Arriero to himself.
The following day they had sex again, and Arriero once more demanded to know what was wrong when Kaziji took on the same resigned look of depression. Kaziji said that it was certain problems in his dealings with the fort; but again he averred that the problem was insurmountable; it would take a great hero to truly solve it for him. Arriero could coax no more information from the wolf, and departed feeling slightly miffed.
By the next day Arriero's curiosity over the problem had grown tenfold overnight, and he took out his frustration on the wolf, scoring him more badly than he had on any previous day. The lycin whimpered pitifully, whined sadly as the orc tore into him, and by the time that the post-orgasmic euphoria had set in, Arriero was feeling slightly better. But Kaziji still looked like a wounded dog, and finally Arriero had to ask him what was wrong. After all, he need to take care of the lycin. Finally, after a great deal of stroking and cajoling, Kaziji finally, in a great deal of whimpering and shuddering, related his sad problem: he felt that the he and all the orcs at the fort had been betrayed, had been swindled of their right to prove themselves in battle. Here they all were, holed up in the stronghold, when they could be out slaughtering the evil elves instead of living in their fort! It was completely contrary to the orcish way, he whimpered as Arriero looked on sympathetically.
And on whose lap did the blame for this great atrocity lie? How had this all come about? It was solely the fault of the commander! he was finally coerced into saying after some gentle massaging. If the commander had just died, then they could all move on and take the glorious victory that should belong to all men! But as long as the commander was alive, he was holding up their movement, delaying and delaying and delaying.
He was a cowardly orc, not worthy of living, said Kaziji in a sudden burst of anger. But even so, none were brave enough to strike down the corrupt leader, the saboteur of all the orcish plans, the bastard son of an elf!
How he deserved to be killed, but there was no one who could possibly do it.
How many times, cried the lycin, had he thought of helping the entire fort by dispatching the commander, but he was weak; he was pitifully weak, he sobbed into Arriero's strong arms which were by this time holding him tightly. If only he was brave enough to do it himself!
Arriero had to leave the lycin there on the bed, as the dinner hour was almost over and he still did not want to be caught. But the lycin's words echoed in his head and they mulled overnight, festering and fomenting dangerous thoughts. The next day after their sex, the lycin broke down again and began bewailing the curse which had befallen the fort, how he cursed himself for being so weak. Arriero left, confused and indecisive, wondering... knowing what he should do but fearing to do so.
When he came the next day, Kaziji was even more desperate than before; as Arriero pounded eagerly into the lycin's wracked body, Kaziji gasped out his laments, his problem, his hate for the commander who has destroying the orcs of the fort for his own despicable causes. For the first time, as Arriero climaxed deep inside the lycin, Kaziji threw back his head and howled.
By the time Arriero left that day, he had assured his poor Kaziji had he would step forward: he would finally be the man who did what no one else could.
He would kill Commander Rajenique.