Not what they seem I
Caewen the half-elf rolled in her sleep feeling the hard ground pressing up on her. Rolling around did nothing to change the fact that she was sleeping on hard, cold, incredibly uncomfortable stone. Realizing that she wasn't going to get any more sleep tonight she stood and walked out of the small broken building she called her home. It wasn't much and most of her possessions were broken, stolen, and generally outright useless but they were all she had. So she gathered them up and moved on.
She was a traveler, heck that was what she was made for because people hated her for something she couldn't control. Her heritage: Her mother was elven and her father was human, but not many people knew that fact, because those who knew it normally wanted her dead. Humans hated elves, elves hated humans, and the people like her simply ran. Her green eyes became stormy at the memories:
She was different than the others, and she knew it. Every day of her life for 16 years she had been belittled and taunted because she was a "freak", a "Half-elf", and "un-pure." The humans and elves hated her simply because of the blood running through her veins.
Shaking her head, Caewen checked her bag and found only a few scraps of food and near empty water skin. I'll have to steal again she thought. She hated stealing, but asking for supplies was ridiculous considering the circumstances. She shook her head again, and her brown hair cascaded over her eyes.
After a good 2 mile walk she saw a small village, it was made up of several huts clustered together, a massive wooden building slightly towering over the huts, and a town square where it seemed that the whole population of the town seemed to be. She quickly snuck behind the crowd and heard a man shouting over the roaring crowd.
She stood on her tiptoes and saw the man…. or she saw that he was fat, greasy, and bald, which scared her. The man was gesturing at three figures hung on the gallows.
Two of the figures were Orcs: The heavily muscled beings stood on the gallows with ropes around their hands and necks, snarling and snapping at the crowd. They made an intimidating sight with their green skin shining in the sun, and their tusks shining with drool. The other figure in the middle of the Orcs stood calmly, almost looking bored with the chaos around him. He was wearing patchwork clothing, an archer's hat, and a leather belt, along with a faded badge that identified him as a Captain.
The executioner walked across the gallows and smiled at the snarling orcs and the Captain. "I'm going to enjoy this terrorist!" He swung a fist and pummeled the Captain's stomach with a powerful blow.
The executioner turned and yelled to the crowd "These freaks are hanging for terrorism and debauchery! Under his command…" Jerking his thumb back at the bored man "Orc marauders have raided our caravans, stolen our food, and destroyed the very things this village needs to thrive!"
The Captain suddenly became "Un-bored" and strained against his bonds "Liar! My Orcs have only attacked weapons shipments and stolen only military gear! The food and supplies remain untouched!"
His outburst got him another punch in the stomach as the executioner prattled on "You've still committed crimes against the knights of the Tempest! We need those weapons to destroy the elven scum that have populated our Earth for far too long now!"
At this the crowd erupted into cheers and calls for the heads of the elves, and Caewen shuddered from behind the crowd. This is wrong, why isn't anyone stopping this?
The executioner punched the Captain again, and again, and again. In the face, chest, stomach, and neck. Although the sight horrified Caewen and enraged the two orcs, the crowd ate it up and called for more:
"Give it to the human traitor!"
"He's a freak like the rest of 'em!"
"Kill them and be done with it!"
"Yeah, Kill, kill, kill, KILL!"
Caewen watched as the beating stopped, and the Captain looked up at the executioner and the crowd through puffy eyes crying out "People! What world do we live in now? Where simple acts of debauchery can get you hung?"
A head nodded slowly in the crowd "That's true, I love debauchery as much as the next guy, and I ain't gunna get hanged for it!" The speaking man was suddenly seized by two guards, who appeared at his side like wraiths and stabbed him in the chest with their spears. A death rattle sounded in his throat as he collapsed on the crowd, and the crowd moved away from him as if he had the plague.
The executioner smiled "Any more sympathizers?" The crowd was silent "Good because you'd be killed for treason against the Knights of the Tempest!"
Caewen had moved with the crowd and whimpered softly to herself, trying hard not to scream at the sight of the death.
The executioner drew a sword "Now this terrorist and his freaks will plague us no more! I'll feed your heads to the crows!" He leaned back to swing the blade that would have beheaded the three criminals, except for this….
An axe went flying through the air and smacked into the sword knocking it backward. The crowd looked in the direction of the projectile only to see a hooded figure standing there.
"That man you were about to kill saved my life once, and now I'm returning the favor! Now!"
Suddenly from behind broken buildings, from rooftops, from under heaps of debris, and from the shadows orcs appeared shooting bows and hurling axes as the figure cast aside his cloak, and revealed himself to be a massive troll.
The crowd scattered in panic as the orcs rushed into combat with the few guards that were on duty.
Caewen watched as black arrows imbedded themselves into wood, stone, and in some rare cases flesh. The orcs drew swords and axes shoving the members of the crowd aside, but Caewen noticed, not killing or harming them in any way.
The orcs barreled into the guards, who stabbed spears into their thick hides, the orcs bashed them over the heads with their weapon hilts in return and moved on with no unnecessary bloodshed.
The Captain ducked a swing from the executioner and stretched the rope on his neck as far as it would go. The sword sheared through the rope and the captain twisted to avoid another swing.
The executioner swung his blade ruthlessly determined to make the traitor die by his hands. The Captain wore an easy smile as he ducked the ferocious swings
"Well, thanks for freeing my neck! My hands are still tied though….so"
He held his bound hands up and the next wild swing sliced his bonds. He flexed his hands and smiled "Thanks again!"
"Stop Smiling!" screamed the executioner, he kept swinging the sword but the Captain kept ducking and leaping away from the sword point.
The Troll swung his fists and knocked several guards aside. He seized a spear and swung it around1 sending the other guards fleeing. The troll drew a silver sword from his back and tossed it over his head screaming "Captain!"
The Captain caught his sword and faced the executioner with the smug smile still on his face. The blades clanged and clashed as both men fought on the platform and it was soon obvious that the Captain held the upper hand, even managing to free the two orcs that were still tied up, without breaking stride.
Caewen ducked behind a cart trying to ignore the chaos and fighting around her, but at the same time wondering several things.
I was always told that Orcs were mindless savage monsters: that they would burn and kill to their black hearts content, that they were barbarians!
But as she looked around she saw that the opposite was true, guards were lying in crumpled moaning heaps, and things were being riddled with arrows but the attack was strangely coordinated. The orcs were calm and only seemed to be focusing on keeping the guards out of the fight, not destroying everything in sight.
She saw the Captain kick the executioner off of the gallows platform and run into the biggest building kicking down the door. Filled with curiosity she crept closer to the building.
The Captain kicked down the door and rushed inside the biggest building. His eyes wandered away from the velvet curtains and satin pillows, past the elegant paintings and gold plated furniture, and the piles of gold coins heaped around the room. He was looking for something else….
He rushed upstairs, hearing the sounds of the combat below fade away slightly. He burst into the main room and saw the black box that was his reason for not fleeing the village, the reason his Orcs were saving him, but most importantly that black box was the whole reason for his existence. It stood about half as tall as he was, and looked out of place with the sophistication that populated the room, but it stood unharmed.
The Captain seized the box and turned to leave as a sword blade sliced the air above him. The Executioner stood in the doorway with a wounded arm and a bloody gash above his eye. He advanced "I'm going to kill you traitor, and then I'll throw that box into the fire, it can burn nicely along with its owner…That little elven "bleep…."
The Captain suddenly saw red at the words "elven bleep" and he roared in anger rushing forward and slamming his sword against the executioner's blade. They fought again, but this time the Captain had the upper hand from the beginning. Every blow he swung pushed the executioner backward until they had fenced to the top of the stairs, and with one shove the executioner was sent tumbling down them.
The Executioner looked upward as the captain leapt down the stairs and sliced downward. He managed to roll away and scurried into the main room hurling anything he could back at the Captain: Tables, chairs, books, pillows, anything!
This did nothing more than annoy the captain as he ducked or sliced his way through the projectiles. Finally the executioner was backed against the wall, and a swift slice of the captain's sword had him disarmed.
The Captain pressed his sword to the executioner's throat and whispered "You know what I did to the last person who insulted the owner of that box? Oh it was horrible I tell you…not fit for anyone's ears really, so I think I'll have to show you."
Then all that could be heard was a scream abruptly cut off by a whoosh, followed by a thud.
Caewen looked at the door of the building, she had seen the Captain and the executioner go in, but she was only seeing the Captain rush out with blood on his sword blade.
"Orcs! Retreat Now!"
At their captain's call the thirty or so orcs and the lone troll broke off their battles and fled out of the village, the troll seized the black box and hefted it over his shoulder and through a crack in the casing Caewen could see what looked like…a guitar?
Why would someone risk his life for a guitar?
Caewen was suddenly grabbed by the leg and turned to see a human had caught her. "Hey I found another freak, someone gut her!"
Quick as lighting the Captain seized a stone and hurled it with uncanny accuracy. It smacked into the human's hand and he withdrew his grip as Caewen sprinted away with another question burning in her mind.
Why would someone risk his life for me?
Two hours after the Captain had escaped his punishment the Knights of the Tempest had arrived and were promising the crowd of peasants that the criminals would be recaptured swiftly. The knights finally entered the massive building and were horrified of what they saw.
The Executioner's head had been sliced clean off his body.
1 With the unlucky guard still hanging on!