((Trigger warning: potential sexual assault.))"We need to talk."
That phrase has never been uttered in the wake of anything good.
Blacktusk dispatched one of the other Orcs in the crowd to escort me to the Chieftain's private tent. It was much larger than the rest of the temporary homes that peppered the area. My guide gestured me to enter, departed, then returned shortly with my jumbled pile of tattering clothing. Dropping the pile in my waiting arms, he nodded curtly and left.
My eyes roved about the inside, taking in the sparsely decorated room. A few wooden boxes, one heavily looking chest, two small tables (one holding something totemic like), and a massive pile of animal skins and rugs pushed against the far wall. Civilized looking enough, so why did it feel like I was in an animal's den?
The tent's entrance snapped open and I whirled about, clutching my clothing to my body, as Blacktusk stepped through carrying a large bottle and two wooden mugs. I quickly slipped my leathers on as he walked past me--not that I felt indecent, but I was damned if I was going to let him see any more of me.
"Ah, my exotic one!" he rumbled pleasantly, holding one of the mugs out to me. "A toast to the champion!" He raised his own mug high then downed it with great relish. He peered at me as he drained the dregs, my mug in his outstretched hand still untouched. With a shrug, he proceeded to empty the second one as well, then threw both on the ground with a satisfied sigh. He snatched the bottle up, refilled the mugs, then held mine out again a second time; I refused to budge. "...what?"
"You asked me here to talk, so let's talk."
Blacktusk grunted as a belch bubbled out of his throat. "How long ya been out in these parts now?"
"A few months. Why?"
He shook his head at me indulgently. "You'll learn soon enough that there's plenty of grief and misery t' fill the days many times over. That's th' nature of this land. Shit happens. Lots
of it. I don't like it--in fact, I'm still pissed about losing Rolgok, but guess what? Ya need t' take yer good times when ya can or yer spirit'll get crushed and then what good dya be to me?"
I stared at him stonily as he drank his third mug. "What good? I have been plenty good to you already. I--no, listen to me--I found a traitor in your midst. I know we have no leads as to who sent him, but I have a few ideas that might--"
"Ragebane, shut up, sit down, and have a drink with me already."
"But the assassin--" I protested.
"--is dead. Like you said, we got no leads. The day is nearly gone, give yerself a rest. Drink.
" And he held the wooden mug out once again and once again I stubbornly refused it. He sighed. "Look, if there's somethin' else ya'd prefer--"
I crossed my arms. "To be excused."
The first hints of a frown crossed his brow. His hospitality was being refused and if the ignored cup wasn't offensive enough, the rejection of his company was. He set both mugs down on a table. "C'mon, two victories in as many days, you should be celebrating." His large hands clasped my shoulders. "I have plenty of food, drink..." He squeezed my shoulders, leaning in. "...companionship."
And there it was. A sick feeling flared in the pit of my stomach and I forcefully broke his grip. "Not interested!"
Blacktusk grunted in dismay, then let himself fall backwards onto the pile of skins, suggestively sprawling in a manner that surely would have had many of the females in his camp writhing all over him. I found it a disgusting display of a posturing male, reviled further when he said: "I like 'em difficult."
Snarling, I turned my back on him. "I am leaving
." But at the entrance, I was stopped by two burly guards brandishing wicked looking polearms.
"You'll leave," Blacktusk's voice called, "when I say you can leave."
I whirled about, my eyes flashing like arctic ice, my teeth bared in a dangerous sneer.
"You see?" Blacktusk leaned forward eagerly, motioning at me with one of the wooden mugs. "That!
That's what's so intoxicatin' about ya! That fiery spirit, that unbreakable will." He shook a finger at me. "I
can see past that skin color. Whatever you've done in yer past is no longer of any consequence. Yer still an Orc. I'll grant ya immunity--"
"You still think I am a WARLOCK?!"
"Former, my prickly one, forme--"
Somehow, this infuriated me worse. I furiously bellowed, not caring what the guards outside heard, then snatched the half empty mug from Blacktusk's grasp, intending to clobber him. Liquid sloshed everywhere as I raised the mug over my head, then froze as I felt his hand on my buttock.
"Have ya got a better explanation for yer color?" he drawled as he pulled himself up, his face close to mine.
"You would not believe me if I told you," I growled at him, trying to break away. His hand squeezed, determined not to let me get away; his other hand sought mine, took the tankard from it, then touched it to his chest.
"Try me," he replied huskily, drawing my hand down...down...
Roaring, I planted my foot against his stomach, using Blacktusk as my leverage as I kicked away from him. The tent shook and the table with the totemic item toppled over as Blacktusk burst into raucous laughter. My face burned, not wanting to know what the guards were imagining.
"You should be flattered, my brightly colored delight," Blacktusk said, unperturbed. "I'm bestowin' a great honor on ya."
My body was on high alert now. He would not catch me off guard again."You are extremely beautiful in battle. I just might ask you for a spar or two...or twenty."
mated, you know!"That
finally seemed to cool him off. Brushing back his dyed hair (black to purple to red, how garish), he pursed his lips sourly and covered one eye with a meaty hand. And for the first time, something whispered at the back of my mind. Something seemed familiar about Blacktusk somehow...
"A mate? Indeed?"
I nodded fiercely, letting my love for my Elf bolster me.
"Well then, where is he?" Blacktusk made a great show of looking about his tent.
I felt like I had been punched in the gut with an icy fist. Never mind that, in the deepest parts of the night in this alien land, I had sometimes asked that myself. To hear it spoken--I mentally shook myself, trying to hide my reaction. I jutted out my chin: "He is coming for me, that I know."
"And how long has it been? When I found ya, you were in rags, stealin' our trash t' survive. Ya already said yerself it's been several months. Sounds t' me like you been on yer own a long time."
"He does not know where I am--" Despite knowing the truth, I knew how ridiculous it would sound. Tears stung my eyes and my heart ached desperately for my Elf and my family. I knew Seyna had no clue how to find me, even if by some chance he knew where I was. Blacktusk was completely right and yet so very wrong.
Blacktusk quietly studied me a moment. He let me compose myself then held out his muscled arms. "Forget him, this imagined mate of yours." The Chieftain lifted my chin with one finger and I stared back defiantly at him, my tears unshed. "Let me be your new reality. Listen and understand your destiny.
I am Blacktusk and small though my clan is, I plan to be great, a name known as well as Bladefist or Kil'rogg...or even Hellscream. But I can only be as great as my warriors are. You have already proven yourself well--not only in your battles--" And his eyes roamed over my body, recalling my fight with Tharg. "--but by also weeding out the unworthy."
His eyes locked with mine and that unshakable sense that I knew him from somewhere rose again. But where?
"You are worthy, my green skinned one."
Without warning, he seized my short hair and yanked down, my view suddenly the roof of his tent. I cringed as I sensed him draw near, his breath on my neck, traveling, stopping above my heaving chest as I gasped for air. Then I felt rather than heard his voice in my ear, low.
"Be my right hand."
And in that moment, I experienced shame like never before, as my body suddenly pulsed with an excitement, an animal lust; my heart cried out, utterly revolted at this betrayal.
"Ah, I see you agree with me," that wretched voice whispered.
My head still pulled back, and now--oh gods, oh gods no
, I could feel his tongue on my neck--why wasn't my body fighting back?Seyna, please--
One of his thick hands reached about to pull at the leather strips holding my tattered vest up. I was frozen with absolute terror, unwanted arousal, and complete disgust with myself. My lust was feeding me all sorts of rationalization: it's been so long since you were touched like this, pretend it's Seyna, no one would ever know--
But I would. My love and loyalty grappled with my physical desires, the thought of giving up even for just a moment too much to bear. And as Blacktusk's fingers unraveled my vest's laces and pushed the vest to the ground, as his tongue trailed up the swell of my breast, racing toward its exposed peak--
I almost faltered. A split second more and I would have been Blacktusk's.
Instead, my fists finally obeyed me and rose, remembering how Seyna had taught them. I jabbed, then swung one elbow in Blacktusk's face, catching him off guard. As his head flew to the right, it collided with my other waiting fist. With a grunt, he released me and staggered back, his face a mess of blood and hurt bewilderment.
That's when it clicked. I didn't see it before because the skin was the wrong color, the hair had too many colors, and he still had both eyes, but the similarity was unmistakable.
"...Asuba?" I croaked.
"No," Blacktusk said, nursing his jaw. "but that is a fine name. We'll name our first son that."
"I already have a son by my MATE!" I threw back.
"The same mate who has left you in the middle of nowhere to die?!" Blacktusk's own face was dark with fury, as if Seyna's absence was a personal insult to him. "Don't pretend you didn't enjoy that!" His tone softened as he stepped toward me (and I back from him). "Come, let me show you how a real mate takes care of his own."
He ground his teeth together, pausing a moment as if considering something. He held his hands up in acquiescence. "Then let me care fer ya till he appears. And if...ah...when
that moment arrives, you'll decide who ya'd rather be with."
"Fuck you," I spat at him.
Blacktusk only grinned. "I wish you would." Seeing my ugly scowl, he snorted in frustration. "Fine. Yer loyalty is the likes I rarely see and it deserves t' be honored. One fight."
I tied my leathers back on, fiercely double knotting the laces, not dignifying his request with a response.
"One fight to prove my passion for ya. T' show ya a strength that matches yours, a strength that's destined to be empowered by yours. If ya win, I'll concede t' not being worthy of such beauty and ferocity. If I win--"
Gods, how much he looked like Asuba.
His arm wrapped around me and pulled me close. His body pressed against mine in more ways than one and in his eyes was a barely contained, longing passion.
"--I'll take you as mine and give ya everything you deserve."
My eyes widened as something dawned on me--this wasn't Asuba, this was Asuba's father. As if things weren't already uncomfortably surreal as it was. "And should I refuse?"
The passion in his eyes faded a bit. "The measure of my love for you is found in this, Ko: most don't get the option to fight."
With that, he finally let go and walked to the tent's entrance. "Tomorrow I shall prove myself to you and tomorrow you shall have the mate you were always destined for."
When I flipped him the bird, he only laughed, the sound following him out of the tent and far into the camp.
I waited till the sound faded, then slumped to the floor. I would win tomorrow--of that there was no doubt. But knowing what had almost happened here this night, the heavy toll my loneliness for the familiar was taking... I covered my face with one hand, cradling myself with the other.Ha'rega...