Chapter 36: Lady Chainy

Stephen toddled through the jumble of corpses with an ease smile on his face, the allurement of crouching down and feast on them was strong, but he held back. The clique of surviving Orcs stared fixedly at him walking up to them, their reactions a shy breath’s away from spiraling into a last stand against him. Not surprising. What did surprise him, however, was their emotional control, Orcs were known to be brash and short-tempered, after all.

It might have been a lack of minutiae on his part, but the way they clenched their fists and snarled through gritted fangs despite the clear fear in their beady eyes was worth looking into, “Sup.” he eloquently started.

“You killed Chief Orc. You killed friends. You killed family.” one of them blustered, his throaty and craggy voice sounding more annoying than intimidating.

Stephen’s eyes widened in wonder at the way the Orcs’ clashing emotions kept them from doing anything. Both anger and fear battled it out in their heads, and their primal instinct was getting the edge over their feelings. It was what kept them rooted in their spots, foregoing the seducing whisper that was wheedling them to go against him. He looked like easy prey, but the power he held was not. The trail of blood and flesh their kin had been ground into was perfect proof.

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“Yes, I did. That’s we do in this place, isn’t it? It’s not a ‘kill or be killed’ situation anymore, this seems more like a ‘kill because I can’ sort of situation. You’ve been there as well, haven’t you?” he driveled on casually, “I have no reason to kill you, nor to spare you. But you’re still alive, all because of someone’s else whimsical wish.” he watched as their whitening fists loosened out and their growls ceased. He smiled.

“What do you want? Why you here? Why you killed us?” the Orcs’ spokesperson queried with a resigned snarl.

“Weeell… she told you before, didn’t she? You’ve been chosen to be the first ones to join our newly-born ‘Let’s all survive the war together!’ legion.”

“…”

“Don’t make that face, I’m not kidding. Ostensibly, a squabble between the big ones will result in us getting our asses handed for no other reason than because we’re like background furniture to them.”

The Orc scratched his head in confusion, “You talk in riddles.”

“Look, a big bad battle is about to happen soon and eeeeeveryone here is going to die if they don’t team up, which is why we are here… to recruit you dimwits, and you won’t be the only ones. Of course, if you refuse I will just kill you, so all this explanation has literally no meaning because your opinion doesn’t matter.” Stephen gave them a pointed look, “Capish?”

They nodded.

“Okay okay, don’t be scared, as long as you accept there won’t be any more blood spilled, and we’re all gonna be part of a fam– of something, fighting for the same goals and ideals!” he waved his arms around to add a more dramatic flavor to his speech, “So?”

A bout of silence sprung up. The Orcs glimpsed at each other before their shoulders slumped, their expressions embittered yet acquiescent.

“We… we will join you but… Orcs civilian… they can’t battle, they need protection… don’t kill them please?”

Stephen caught on their fleeting glances elsewhere and tilted his head to the side. Right behind the gateway, a crowd of Orcs that donned tattered clothes to cover their modesty, and definitely too weak-looking to be anything more than noncombatant civilians had just gathered up. They were shorter and substantially thinner than their combatant counterparts, nevertheless, their size was still huge to a common human. He idly noted that for the most part, they were all females, while the rest infants.

He frowned. The cluster of minced flesh and limbs strewn over the grassland sparked a downtrodden and indignant glint within their eyes. Thunderclaps rampaged through the clouds as the rain steeped their surroundings in that earthy smell, coupled with a copperish tang from the blood. Stephen regarded that sight with ambivalence. It was more the uncertainty of his actions than anything else. Those Orcs’ feelings felt too real, their anger, their sadness, their grief, their cries.

They were standing a few yards away from their beloved ones, from those indistinct bogs of body parts and life juice, wholly helpless and unable to do anything about it. He pondered… what would have he done had he been in their place? His frown deepened, and the Orcs afore him took that as an alarming sign and stiffened, their weapons drawn out.

“It’s okay, we won’t kill them… actually, we’ll take care of them as long as they don’t misbehave.” he quickly placated them, “And… can I take it that we’ve come to an agreement?”

“… Yes…” was their still reluctant reply.

“Nice… hey, Jadesin! Come over here for a moment, please!” he called out, prompting the lamia in question to raise an eyebrow at him and slither closer.

“Hmm… seems like you’ve been making friends here. What’s the matter, partner?”

“These muscleheads here have agreed to join you, in the condition that we’d take care of the civilians,” he said.

Jadesin gave them a bright smile, “You shan’t worry about them, we had no intentions of harming anyone else but the Chief Orc, and I deeply apologize for the casualties, it was not amongst our plan to decimate your tribe like that.” at that point she sighed ruefully, and Stephen really had to give the props to her, her act was impeccable, “I’m certain that from now on your aid in our endeavors will be invaluable. As for your accommodations, I hope we can discuss that over a friendlier climate.” her smile turned into a puzzled scowl when no answer was given. Her interlocutors just stared at her with a blank expression.

Stephen almost guffawed at the scene. He then leaned closer to her ear and whispered, “You gotta rephrase that in a way that retarded kids can understand, that’s how you talk to them.”

“Ah… of course.”

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Lamias and Orcs alike slowly made their way inside the walls. There was a bit of gunpowder smell between them, but thankfully no fights broke out. Considering that the storm was at its peak, everyone concurred on taking refuge inside their own dwellings before departing en masse when skies cleared out. Stephen sneaked inside his quarters with a huge grin on his face, it was formerly the Chief Orc’s, but after a long-winded discussion to which a few threats were involved, he managed to get it from the still sullen Orcs.

Not only that, he even acquired a piece of the Chief Orc’s flesh. It had been tantalizing his stomach for quite a while, and now he could finally sate it and even get stronger because of it. How nice was that?

[You have gained 5 points in Strength.]

[You have gained 4 points in Encore Power.]

[You have gained the skill Super Strength, Lv.1]

[You have gained 1% in Evolution.]


He burped. There were no notable changes to take notice of, aside from the feeling of his body getting a tad bit lighter. His newest skill seemed useful, but he was more interested in trying something else out.

The Chains of the Fallen. The name heralded the comeback of zombies, and unless he planned on becoming a street biker he really didn’t see anything to it. He waved his hand up, his eyes glowing brighter as an hexagon-like red pattern swirled to life on the floor, whereupon a black chain shot up from. Stephen eyed it up and down in sheer fascination, the little metallic thing wobbled left and right like a curious snake. In a certain way, it was kinda cute.

For the next few minutes, he tried to get a hang of it. He learned that his lone chain measured up almost to his same height, which he assumed was around 6 feet. And just as he was about to end his training session and send his new companion to whatever dimension it had stemmed from, the chain bounced up and lashed at him.

Despite being caught off-guard at the unforeseen development, his hand still moved up and grasped it before it could do some damage to his face.

“What the hell… are you going against your owner?” he muttered out in disbelief as the chain wriggled and squirmed in his grip, “You f****** little thing, calm down, stop…” of course, his words did nothing to appease it.

“I. Said. Stop!” he glared at the chain, and it indeed stopped. But as it stood upright, he felt like it was staring at him in defiance. Now, Stephen had seen many things since he came to Relictus, but a wayward chain definitely topped them all. The situation had gone so out of hand that he almost burst out in chuckles from the extreme amusement.

Maybe it mistook his amused smile for a mocking one for it suddenly resumed its struggling with renewed vigor.

He just leaned back in his bed and watched the little thing throw a tantrum in his hand, “You done?” it wasn’t, far from it. Unexpectedly, a red sheen sparked up around it like the telltale hints of Encore Augmentation. The chain’s wrestling became more cutthroat, and with a last attempt at freedom, it slipped past his clutches and wrapped around his mouth.

Stephen blinked. The chain had probably assumed it was suffocating him; it might not have known that he could also breathe through his nose. How fun.

It kept on squeezing his mouth harder, so he decided to lick it. And like a cat falling down in a bucket of water, the chain creased its back and dove away from him, hiding behind the corner of some kind of poorly-crafted furniture whilst poking out a chainring, and shooting at him with what looked like a ‘What the hell did you do to me, flesh-bag!’ glare.

“Damn, you’re so cute!” he cooed, “I shall name you Lady Chainy, and Imma make sure you’ll be the most badass chain of Alazar.”

“…”

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