Than the sword
Graak was an Orc. He was one of your standard low-browed, barrel-chested, strong-armed, pointy-toothed Orcs, gainfully employed in the only way Humans had ever seen them employed, waving old swords around while attacking/defending non-descript, out of the way places. He didn’t really see it as being a particularly great job, what with the long hours in the rain and the continual threat of a band of adventurers wandering past and slaughtering him out of hand. Not being in a position to stop being an Orc however, Graak had intentions to go AWOL from the Ork Band(TM) he was currently a part of instead, once he had acquired himself a decent amount of loot. Orc bands being what they are he was unlikely to be missed, Da Boss had called him Derek last week.
Graak was on a small scout and report mission, looking for Da Bosses favorite treasure and checking there were no threatening adventurers about, just over the hill and not to far away, when he spotted a small cart. It was being pulled by the sort of horse often associated with Iwell paintings, all barrel round and annoyed. It was devoid of a short, annoyed, female however, rather being driven by a lanky man with a penchant for coughing in a double bass register. The physics/biology involved in this miraculous feat are best not described here, suffice to say he had an unusually low Adams Apple.
Behind the lanky man, the cart contained what, at first sight, looked uncannily like a small hut. Now this created a small interest in Graak due to his PLAN. You see, Graak had a long term PLAN. In no way was he going to spend the rest of his life hiding out in forests. That sort of thing got you killed.
He had been telling Hogkiller this very thing the other week. Hogkiller, unfortunately, had been too obsessed with heading home to see his sweetheart to listen. And then he had ended up on the wrong end of that magic arrow of plus three damage. It was such a tragic sight, watching Hogkiller sink to the ground, woodcut of his beloved, Rabbitcruncher, slipping from his fingers, as the humans had poured forth from the, supposed, merchants carts. Graak himself had paid back Hogkiller’s life at least five times, but it did not seem to make up.
Graak’s PLAN was to build himself a cabin. He had already collected the majority of the logs required, most from deadfall, with the odd one stolen from an ambush barricade. This had allowed him to erect, at a sufficient distance from the main Ork encampment to avoid detection, he hoped, a small home. He had even built a pig sty out of disused arrows. All that was left to do was an outhouse and a potting shed. After he had constructed them, he would be free to ask Guttwisters hand in marriage. Of course, in Ork groupings, marriage as we know it does not truly exist. The happy couple spend five joyful years furthering the gene pool before the husband eats his mother in law, relations break down, and the wife is left to support the progeny on two mouldy potatos a year. Never the less, Graak was enamoured with this PLAN. He would happily tell anyone he met about it. In fact, it had become dread legend in the region that there was an Ork, so dreadful in countenance and smelly of breath, who would take no greater delight than torturing you to death with his tales of married bliss to be.
Thus it was that Graak did look upon the itinerant salesman’s cart and reminisce about his PLAN. He was, however, an Ork of reasonable brain, and thus appreciated that Da Boss would not be chuffed if he were to return from his scouting mission lacking in booty. Thus he gathered his articles together, took a deep breath, and plunged down the hill. He streaked like a bolt of green lightening towards the cart, howling all the time the cry he kept for these special occasions; "Got any good books?" Arriving at the cart he stopped, drew his breath, and repeated the call; "Got any good books? And nufink by that Jilly the Barrel Maker neither."
Two hours later we find Graak slouching into camp with a large sheaf of paper under his arm. He mumbles "Ave" at the guard as he wanders up to the large tent in the centre of the abandoned temple that the Orcs currently call "A right little sh*t hole". Entering Graak is somewhat disturbed to discover his commanding officer involved in an act which I shall not
even begin to describe. Just think of Henry the Fifth done in a Brooklyn accent, or perhaps Burns poetry read by an Englishman. However he braves it out and proffers the manuscript to his chief.
"I’faith and good day to you my goodly Derek. So what is this that you do offer unto me, prithee tell?"
"Er some merchant I met on patrol sir. He ‘ave some tat about ... er... "Boldy going where no man has gone before" or somefin’ and this. Says ‘ere "it is a work of speculative fiction about the possibility of travel to distant continents" and "comparable to Tolkien at his best". ‘E said it was dead good so ‘e did." Saying this Graak handed over "The Michelin
Guide to Hungary". There followed a pause while Da Boss admired the full colour street map of Budapest, leaving Graak looking nervous. This pause was broken somewhat noisily, however, by the sounds of shouting from outside.
A rather wide eyed guard put his head through the tent flap, "Er, sir, there’s a ‘uman outside."
"Well why not throw him upon the conflagation, as is standard practise?"
"Bung ‘im on the fire!"
A look passed over the guards face, best described as shear terror, before he finally muttered, "’E’s wearing nuffink but three bits of studded leather Boss".
"Ah, an heroic ruffian of the old school. Very well, lead on."
Da Boss emerged from his tent, his tusks glinting in the damp sunlight, and was momentarily taken aback by the number of studs in view. "Wot c'n ah be doing for you my good man?" he demanded, salvaging his accent rapidly.
The Hero, for anyone dressed in so little in this damp climate must either be a Hero or dead of rotted lungs, puffed out his chest, rested his hand confidently upon the hilt of his heavily carved sword and said, "I am questing for the Malevolent Tome of Jasper the Unfortunate. I know you have it. Give it to me now or I shall kill you all."
"Hmm.", said Da Boss, "I believe it is carefully preserved within. Derek!"
"Kindly fetch said Tome would you. There’s a chap. It is the one with the scarab clasp."
Graak scurried back into Da Boss’ tent and up to the back, where there was a huge pile of books and loose leaf paper.
Hurried sifting through this pile of words and ideas, Graak reached his destination. "Delia Smith’s Christmas Recipes, Aristotle’s Book of Humour, ah, a scarab." The Ork rushed back outside to find the Hero and Da Boss apparently engaged in a "looking tough" contest. He handed the book over and started to edge back into the tent.
Da Boss looked at the book, looked at the Hero, now looking triumphant, wound his arm back and let fly. The book sailed gracefully through the air, struck the Hero square upon his startled brow, and returned to Da Boss’ hand. The Hero raised his hand in a questioning manner, looked at it in a quizzical way, and keeled over into the mud.
Da Boss looked at his band, lifted his hands into the air and roared, "’uman fur grub!". He then turned his back upon his
cheering followers and headed into his tent.
Graak looked at him in bewilderment. "’Ow did you do that sir?"
"Read it in a book somewhere."
Copyright 2000 Brian "Munchkin" Milton