Akira sat by the large fire in front of Varbu’s tent eating a large portion of freshly roasted meat.
Varbu sat next to him listening to the reports of his officers detailing who was hurt and who had died.
After they finished their reports they left without being ordered to.
“Thankfully the warriors that were wounded will not die. I Varbu thank you for giving them some of your mysterious magical water,” said Varbu with a grim face.
“It’s nothing, I had some spare health potions from when I was at the capital city of Fregoldawae,” said Akira brushing it off as if it was nothing.
“Damn those attackers. They trespass on our land and then kill four of my brethren, and wound two others,” said Varbu angrily biting into meat he was holding onto.
“What are you going to do?” asked Akira.
“I want to send out a scouting party to find them and then kill them! But I know that is a foolish idea. The scouts would be killed, further decreasing the strength under my command. The warrior chief will not be happy with the results of tonight’s fight. We will continue onward towards the city of Orcrock which is the capital. It should take us three to four days to get there,” said Varbu.
The two quietly chewed on their meat in silence for a short time to mull over the recent events.
“Are you sure you don’t know anyone who would want to capture you?” asked Varbu breaking the silence.
“Now that I think about it there are two groups that would want to capture me, but different reasons for each of them. One wants me alive I think, while the other group wants to kill me to keep their secrets unknown,” said Akira.
“What hornet’s nest did you hit to anger so many people? This might be troublesome if they keep trying to capture you while you’re with us. Please try and not cause any more troubles for us.”
“Sorry about causing trouble for you. So…I have been wondering why you are so tall and muscular.”
“It is just the way I was born. When I was younger, I was just like all my fellow kin until I started to mature into an adult. It is a rare thing to become a blood warrior the name comes from our deep red skin. Blood Warriors are born from parents of all walks of life. I have been told that we have a better understanding of tactics and that is why we blood warriors are the officers and generals in all of the orc tribes,” said Varbu.
Varbu looked over to his left to see the two guards that had been in charge of guarding Akira. They had arrived a short time ago and were standing a short distance away waiting for Varbu to call them forward.
“Come, what is it that you have to say?” asked Varbu.
The two Orcs walked forward and knelt down onto one knee in front of both Akira and Varbu.
“Thank you, captain,” said the first guard.
“We have come to apologize to Akira for any rudeness we may have shown earlier,” said the second.
“If you don’t mind we would like to share a drink together in friendship,” said the first.
Varbu looked over to Akira to see what he would do. Akira was shocked by the sudden turn of unusual events but quickly regained his composure.
“Don’t worry about it. I will gladly share a drink with you,” said Akira.
“Thank you for honoring our request,” said the second.
The second Orc guard took out three small wooden cups that could at the most only hold a sip or two. While the first orc guard retrieved a wineskin from his own bag and poured a small portion of it into the each of the wooden cups.
When Akira was handed one of the cups out of curiosity he smelt the liquid inside, due to its strong smell he involuntarily made an odd face. Before he could inspect it further he was interrupted by Varbu’s cough.
“It is considered rude to smell and inspect the drink given during a friendship oath. It signifies you do not trust the other person to be honorable and thus wounds the other parties honor,” said Varbu.
“AH! Sorry, I didn’t know about that. This is my first time doing something like this,” said Akira quickly trying to smooth over any misunderstandings he may have caused.
“It’s Okay, we know you did not do it out of malice,” said the first Orc guard.
“Let us toast to an honorable friendship,” said the second Orc.
The three of them raised their cups and lightly taped them together before they drunk the pungent alcohol. Akira thought it tasted just as bad as it smelt if not even worse.
Akira handed the cup back to the second Orc guard.
“Thank you, honorable friend. We will leave you now as it has been a long night for us all,” said the first Orc.
After the two Orcs left Akira turned to see Varbu pull out a set of small cups of his own along with his own wineskin.
They both repeated the ritual together.
In a dark cave of the Uhgabuhga mountains, several dark figures sat attending their wounds.
“What’s with the difficulty of this job?” asked one of the headhunters.
“I thought this mission was just to capture some young punk. But he’s a freaking werewolf of the demon race,” complained another.
“That’s nothing we can take care of a mere werewolf. The real problem is because he’s surrounded by Orc warriors! There was no mention of that either,” a third person complained.
“Shut up you fools. We have already lost one person we need to be careful to not let that happen again. You know what will happen if we don’t get this job done and bring him back alive. It will mean we’ve failed and will have to face a punishment worse than death,” said the lead headhunter.
“Quit your complaining. We need to figure out a new plan to capture him otherwise we’re all dead,” said the leader cutting off all other complaints.
During the travel to the capital, multiple other Orcs had asked to share drinks of friendship with him.
It seemed the group of warriors had warmed up to him after the fight with the unknown assassins.
Along the way they passed many small hunting and farming villages which Varbu stopped and talked to the village chiefs to make sure nothing was wrong in the area.
Akira had seen many light red skinned Orc farmers gathering the last of the season’s crop a variety of rugged grain, potatoes, carrots, and beets. All of the farms he had seen so far were small and looked like it was hard to grow much of anything due to the soil and cold temperature.
As they traveled further into the mountainous territory of the Orcs the temperature was getting colder every day.
Traveling to the capital city of Orcrock was as fast as Varbu had said it would be.
From afar Akira looked at the city which was built in a flat area in the deepest part of the mountains and used the giant mountains to guard the city’s back. The city’s large gray stone walls looked as if they had grown out of the side of the mountain wrapping around Orcrock forming a semicircle ensuring protection all around.
The walls gave off an ancient and barbaric feeling as if they had been sitting there for 1000s of years. The city was large but nowhere near the size of Fregoldawae.
A small dry moat filled with sharp spikes ran from one end of the wall to the other. It was slightly wider in the area near the front of the gate.
A pair of tan flags with two black great axes crossing each other hung from the gatehouse. The wooden bridge with crude iron covering the bottom of it was raised since it was still early in the morning.
“Open the gates a patrol part has returned!” shouted one of the guards on top of the guardhouse.
The sound of large chains moving could be heard as the drawbridge was slowly lowered. With a loud thump, it finally came to a rest after hitting the ground, creating a small path across the dry moat.
Varbu led the scouting party across the drawbridge. Each Orc hurried as they wanted to return to their homes and families.
When the scouting party had all passed through the gatehouse a loud thunk was heard behind them as the portcullis was let down. The heavy chains of the drawbridge began clinking as it was again lifted up closing the entrance.
The Orc warriors of Varbu party waited silently for him to dismiss them, after saying a few words to the warriors they were finally allowed to leave.
Looking around Akira noticed multiple Orcs walking to and fro all of them had different short hairstyles.
“Varbu, what is with all the different hairstyles? I thought all Orcs wore long hair since everyone in your party has the same hairstyle,” said Akira.
“I see how you could think that. It is a rule that only Orc warriors wear their hair in a ponytail. The length of the ponytail is a sign of power and shows one’s status as a warrior. There are only ever two reasons a warriors ponytail would be cut. The most common is when a warrior retires from the life of a warrior. The second is when a warrior has done something extremely dishonorable. The ponytail is then cut to show repentance and the rank and status of the warrior is set back to that of a recruit,” said Varbu.
“I’ll keep that in mind when I meet other Orc warrior,” said Akira.
“The only other hairstyle you have to worry about is the elders of the Orc tribes. They all have long beards, only elders allowed to grow beards so if you see someone with a beard be very careful in what you say and how you talk to them as they are the leaders of our race. All other styles are that of normal Orcs,” explained Varbu.
“I’m glad you told me this now or I might have gotten myself into a bad situation. What am I supposed to do now that we’re here?” asked Akira.
“I must go to the council of elders and inform them and the Warrior chief who governs the city and all Orc tribes, about the trespassers in our land and the deaths they have caused. You should follow me to the meeting hall to answer any questions they have,” said Varbu.
They walked through the city following the busy main street which was paved with stone.
Akira drew many astonished and suspicious gazes from all who saw him. Many opened a wide path in the crowded street when they saw him for fear of coming in contact with him.
Akira was to busy looking at the buildings and shops to notice the stares. The only major differences he saw between the other cities he had been to before was the buildings were more rugged and the trinkets and other things the shops sold all looked a bit weird.
A short time later they reached the center of the city where a small wall with guards pacing back and forth on top. The wall was protecting a long and old one-story wooden hut.
The wooden hut looked nothing like Akira had imaged when he was told they would be going to the main government building.
Varbu walked up to the guards at the small gates. The guards were on full alert due to Akira an unknown person walking beside Varbu.
“Why have you brought an outsider inside the city? Even worse a human!” asked one of the guards blocking the path with his greataxe.
“He is not our enemy. We have both come to report important news to the warrior chief and the elders it can not wait,” said Varbu.
“You may pass, but he must stay here where we can watch him,” said the second guard.
“He needs to be let through since the elders will want to talk to him,” said Varbu.
“If the elders want to talk to him they can send a messenger letting us know and we will escort him in. Otherwise, we are not letting an outsider near them for their protection,” said the first guard.
Varbu looked at Akira and gave him a shrug, “It shouldn’t take to long just wait here while I give them the report,” said Varbu before passing through the gates and into the wooden hut.
Akira stood outside the walls for over ten minutes with the guards watching him like a hawk as if their eyes were glued to him.
Akira attention was drawn to the door of the hut as it was opened. A small chubby Orc child dashed out and run up to the guards. He whispered a few sentences before running back inside the hut.
“Outsider, come with me. If you make any wrong moves I will chop your head off,” said the guard.
Akira remained silent and was escorted into the building by the two guards. When he stepped through the door he looked around the small lobby, there were a few chairs for people to sit and not much else.
On the far side of the room, there were four more Orc warriors guarding the door that lead to the great hall. Upon seeing Akira being escorted by the gate guards. The captain of the four guards loudly knocked on the door leading to the great hall and quickly opened it.
Akira walked into the great hall which was dimly lit and smokey.
A large fire pit was set in the middle of the great hall on either side there were multiple rows of stone benches. The benches on the left were filled with elderly gray and white-bearded Orcs. While the benches on the right were empty.
There was a large crude stone chair situated at the far end of the room. It sat in between the two separate rows of benches.
An Orc warrior who looked to be in his 40s or 50s sat in the stone chair, his long ponytail had a few flecks of gray in his black hair. Varbu was standing to the right of the chair.
Akira was led up next to the burning fire pit where the light was the brightest. The guards backed away a few steps.
“Chief we have brought you the outsider that you requested to see,” said one of the Orc guards slamming his fist to his chest in salute to the warrior chief.
“Good, you may go back to your post if something comes up I will call for the guards in the lobby,” said the warrior chief dismissing the guards.
The guards were not too happy about leaving Akira unguarded but followed orders and left the room.
The chief stood up from his chair and walked up to the fire pit. He inspected Akira from the opposite side with Varbu only a few steps behind him.
“I am Tornok the warrior chieftain of this city and all tribes of the Orc race. Outsider, why did you enter our land? Were you trying to force us into a fight with those who were chasing you? Now that they have tasted defeat they will surely cause more trouble for us in the future. If that was your plan you have succeeded and we will deal with you accordingly. Answer truly for your future depends on what you say,” said Tornok.
“Uh, sir I had no idea that this area belonged to you Orcs. I had no idea the there were people chasing me so I was just as surprised when we were attacked by them,” said Akira.
“You want us to believe that you’re an idiot? Anyone who has a brain knows this area is where we Orcs have lived for centuries even through the wars with the Demigods,” came a shout from one of the elders sitting on the benches.
The village chief raised his hand signaling for him to be quiet.
“What elder Gron says is true every race should know this fact. We have lived here for many years,” said Tornok.
“I have not traveled from a nearby town nor am I a native of the country of Freeopia. I have lived most of my life in the country of Beorin so I could not have know that I was trespassing,” said Akira.
“Why are you so far away from your homeland?” asked Tornok.
“I was chased out by some people. During my escape, I was separated from the people that were supposed to lead me back to someplace I have no clue where. I have been searching for them ever since.”
“Are these the same people that attacked some nights ago?”
“No, I think those were different people. I don’t believe they have anything to do with the person in Beorin who is looking for me.”
“Why would they be so interested in searching for you,” asked Tornok.
“I have no clue why, but it could have something to do with me being a werewolf,” said Akira.
“Chief as I reported he is a werewolf. I saw him transformed with my own eyes,” said Varbu.
“Quiet boy!” said Tornok sternly.
“Father I’m not a boy I’m a captain now with my own squad of soldiers,” said Varbu angrily.
“Yes, and you foolishly lost a fifth of your warriors in one fight. If you keep up with those losses you will have no one to command,” barked Tornok silencing Varbu. He turned his attention back to Akira.
“What clan do you belong to?” asked Tornok.
“I don’t know. I only found out I was a werewolf a few months ago. I was told something about the Earth tribe,” said Akira trying to remember what Grand had said.
There were loud harrumphs and coughs from the elders as if the answer was unsatisfactory.
“All werewolves are part of the Earth tribe. I’m asking for the name of the clan you were born into. Never mind take your armor and shirt off. Elder Gron you are the most knowledgeable on clan tattoos so please come and see who he belongs to,” ordered chief Tornok.
“What? Why do you want me to take off my armor? I have no tattoos,” said Akira.
“Take it off or I will do it for you,” ordered Tornok.
Elder Gron stood next to Akira, while he reluctantly took off his armor and shirt shivering a little due to the cold air even with the fire in front of him.
Gron inspected Akira’s arms, chest, and back but could find no trace of a clan tattoo.
“It is strange for a werewolf who is an adult to not have a clan Tattoo. Who did you say was leading you back to your clan?” asked elder Gron.
“There were Two people. One was a female named Yuki but she was not a werewolf, the other person’s name was Grand he is the head adviser to the chief of the clan,” answered Akira.
“Grand…I have knowledge on all the werewolf clan leaders and their advisers but there is no one named Grand that I know of,” said Gron.
“Ah! That’s right I also have a ring from a friend to show I’m not an enemy of the demon race,” said Akira reaching into his bag and pulling out the ring he had received from Delgar.
Gron took the ring with his dry old hands and looked it over.
“I haven’t seen one of these in ages,” said Gron.
“What is it?” asked Tornok.
“It is a ring that is rarely ever given out by the dwarven race to show a deep friendship between the owner and a certain clan,” said Gron.
“Outsider do you have anything else to say?” asked Tornok.
Akira shook his head and saying, “I have told you all that I know.”
“Varbu you and the outsider are to wait outside while the elders and I decide on what to do with him and this situation he has forced upon us,” ordered Tornok.
Akira put his shirt and armor back on and then left the grand hall with Varbu.
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