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[Out of the Frying Pan] The Story of Ratchis (Concluded 10/28)


First Post
The camp was alit with activity when I got back. I could hear the sheep almost a mile before I came upon them. What I saw stopped me in my tracks. There were perhaps twelve or thirteen humans, children and women only, chained together, huddled in the middle of the camp. They were stained with blood and soot but appeared to be healthy otherwise. The orcs were feasting and mating and getting drunk off the human spirits. It seemed I would be remaining in my prison of flesh for a few more days, at least.

I went about my daily routines, revitalized by a plan of action. I knew something strange was going on when the chief beat off any and all attempts by the others to get at the female humans. A few days later, I followed the chief and his bodyguards into a secluded ravine where they were meeting with human men again. I recognized a tall one as one of the men the chief met with after the first village was sacked. They were speaking orcish and what I could make out was that in a few days the tribe would trade the human captors for weapons and armor. I was very happy for a moment until I gleaned from the discussion that the human male viewed these people as property just as my chief did. I moved away from the ravine before they were done.

For the next two days, I again went through my usual routines, all the while racking my brain as to what to do. Then it was all made simple for me. One of the other scouts had killed a wild pig and dragged it into camp. With all the bounty the tribe had known lately, a spontaneous celebration sprang up. The male orcs drank themselves into a stupor, gorging themselves on food, sex and boasts. Thinking as I went, I traveled an hour from the camp, waited a few moments and then started running back at full speed.

By the time I returned to the camp, I was out of breath and covered in sweat. I ran into the middle of the tribe and began yelling about a band of orcs, dozens that had not seen before, heading toward the camp. Those that could, followed me as I ran back out into the woods. I kept them in view for a half mile or so and then slipped out of sight and doubled back to the camp. There were two orcs that had stayed behind who could still lift their head off the ground besides the females. I never liked either of them. Running up, I delivered a half-spear to the closest one’s back and tripped him with the shaft of my spear as I ran by him. The other turned quickly, but I was kicked him into a nearby fire before he could get a weapon drawn. I drew my short sword and finished off the first orc as he was standing up and then put the other down as he burned.

I noticed the cries of the humans now and looked over at their terrified forms. I grabbed the first women by her chain and led them away as quickly as I could, never looking back at my home, knowing I would never see it again alive. The humans did not have much to say, and I wouldn’t have understood them even if they did. They cried a lot and this grew annoying quickly, but I obviously had other things to worry about.

I made the group travel for hours, and we were dragging the smallest children by the time we came to a rest. I paced about nervously, gritting my teeth is a viscous whisper when a child would cry or a woman would try to speak to me. Did they not think my people were coming? I was becoming quickly convinced I had made a mistake, ruining my life for these people. It no longer made sense to me. I looked into their scared faces and remembered their peaceful land, and calmed a bit. Before they could even catch a breath, I had us moving again. I actually dragged the first woman by the hair when she kept refusing the go, but we were too far from safety to stop for long.

Several times in the night I imagined I heard sounds of the tribe closing in, but I never did see them. Finally, we came upon another human village. I allowed the females to run ahead, and they began knocking on doors and generally making a ruckus. I wavered between leaving immediately and seeing what their reaction to me would be. Then my heart stopped as the tall, greasy man that had dealt with my chief at the ravine emerged from one of the homes. I rushed forward, pointing at him. No one could understand my words and a huge commotion rushed through the village. Then, the man winked at me smugly, and I lost my temper. I was beaten unconscious before I could snap his neck.

to be continued. . .

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First Post
When I awoke, I squinted at the bright sun beating down on my face. My arms were tied behind my back and I had a metal collar around my neck. I was kicked in the leg and pulled up by a burly human in leathers. He was fat but strong and pulled me up easily. The collar had a chain through it that connected me with about 20 humans, both male and female. The other end of the chain was locked onto the back of a covered wagon. The fat man climbed up on the wagon, grabbed the reins and, with a snap of his wrists, we were off.

There is not much to tell of the journey. I don’t know how long we marched for, but I was always tired and only half of us lived to see the walled town in the mountains that was our destination. When we entered, I was forced to my knees and my collar was removed. My ankles were chained, and I was led away from the others by the tall man and two guards. This place was much different from the villages I had seen. This place was much larger, with buildings everywhere. It was like being in a cave after a while, and I could feel the walls of the place closing in on me. The people were ugly and angry-looking in their course clothes and hurried attitude. I would have hated the place with all my heart even if I weren’t a prisoner of the tall man. Further in, I noticed that there many laborers fixing the roads. They were in chains and watched by many guards with crossbows. They had one thing in common; they were all half-orcs. I did not know what to make of this insanity, but my own fate seemed crystal clear at last.

My mouth started salivating at the scent of cooking meat as we approached a squat, black building with a wooden pig-head hanging by the front door. We stopped yards from the front door, and the tall man said something to the guards. They dragged me away as the man entered the building. I was brought to a filthy stable behind the squat house and throw down in maggot and feces infested hay. The two guards laughed and left me there. I lay there in shame for some time, thinking about the tribe and my mother. If this is what the human world is like, I had left the good people of the world behind. That thought brought me back to my current circumstances. Ignoring the stench and what was crawling on me, I had endured much the same during my chores when I was younger; I began to crawl through the hay. It was slow and terribly painful, but I swore to myself that no matter what would come of me I would never give up who I am. I would never stop trying to gain my freedom. I thought about the doe and the beautiful mountain streams that awaited me, redoubling my effort.

I was at the entrance to the stable when the guards returned. Laughing, they dragged me toward my new life. They brought me through the streets to a tall, redbrick building. Inside, I was unchained with three guards around me, holding crossbows. I decided at that moment, I would do anything to stay alive, and that if I ever did escape I would never take away another’s freedom. Better to kill someone than to strip them of their dignity. I let a strange old woman cut off my clothes, bathe me and shave me down. It was actually refreshing, and I at least felt some old dignity return to my backbone.

Afterward, I was brought upstairs and thrown in a small room, with a thick, reinforced door, locked from the other side. The next day, one shackle was removed from my leg and a longer chain now connected me to my bunk. With my hands tied behind my back, I was forced to eat leaning forward like a dog, but instead of this being another blow to my pride, I laughed at the fear the guards must feel for me if they didn’t even dare untie me for meals. The days passed, I made use of the stink hole in the corner of my room, and tried to see my mother’s face as though she were before me. Eventually, my doors opened, I was groomed once more, dressed in a simple robe, and led back out into the foul streets. We traveled past many stalls of merchandise and people yelling at each other, waving coins around. I was thankful when we came to a clearing with a wooden dais, tied off with rope from most of this market. The guards brought me inside, below the stage. I waited for hours in that stifling heat, sweating out all of my day’s water. The clamoring of the humans echoed down here until my head was throbbing.

Finally I was brought back out into the sun with two males and one female slave, all humans. We were approached and poked and prodded by various folk whom I gave no mind to. Let them see what it is they like; I couldn’t stop it anyway. I did notice the gasps in the crowd when my robe was pulled away. I am sure they had seen all manner of body alterations but my back must have been quite a sight in the sun. Glossy bright red, the obvious lines on my back muscle intertwined with green, black skin and the raw, metal-crusted meat that had settled in the deepest wounds from that day. Feeling like trouble, I stretched my arms up and back, stretching the muscle as much as possible, churning it with the scar tissue I knew was always a lovely sight. The scream from some well-dressed cow made me happy.

The tall man walked onto the stage, holding a stick. The crowd by the stage filled in more, leaving it packed with more people than there was space. The man said something to the throng, and they stomped their feet in appreciation. He walked up behind me, then to my side, pointing at me with his little stick. The crowd murmured their approval.

Then he was face to face to me and in a low voice said in orcish, “Do not do anything stupid my heroic friend.” He reached into my mouth and held it open for all to see, making me bend my head over for those in the first row. After this, the bidding began, and lasted what seemed like a long time. There was a great deal of excitement toward the end, and a short, bald man stepped forward with a bag of gold to claim his prize.

I was obviously purchased by agents of the city as I was put to work dragging the stones needed for the huge wall being built across a mountain pass. I was among perhaps a dozen more slaves, all large humans and half-orcs, and we worked at least 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. We were fed bread and water, with questionable meat thrown in once a week. The guards would beat any who fell behind, and the taskmaster would whip us indiscriminately just to remind us he was there. I was chained down to sleep and eat where I worked. The only time I saw anything but that damned wall was when two guards would lead me away and watch me answer nature’s calling.

Judging by the passing of the seasons, I worked for nearly a year. I was fed more and more meat as the time went by, and I realized I was the only one left from that original crew of slaves many months back. I finished my growing years, standing nearly six and half feet tall and ending up with a great deal of muscle mass gained from my hard labor. The sun covered my body in freckles. In this time, I had made sure to learn the language of my captors, remembering my mother’s words now and then. A day did not pass when I didn’t look for an opening to escape, but none came. It was enough for me to at least be thinking about it. I knew I had not given up on the idea of living my life free.

In the early morning hours of a day that should have been like any other day, a small force attacked the garrison near the pass. It didn’t seem very formidable but arrows were raining down all about the area. Eight men, dressed in simple leathers with small shields and spear, dropped down on the worker’s side of the wall. Even in the frenzy of melee, I could see how fresh-faced and young these soldiers were. Their people must have been quite desperate.

The five guards that were the regular complement for this area rushed forward to meet the invaders. The young ones had their spears set awkwardly but still managed to impale one guard before having their line broken. The guards took out two of the invaders quickly after that. The four guards squared off against four of the invaders who now drew short swords for close combat. The other two spearmen charged the taskmaster.

Swiftly, he sidestepped the man to his left and grabbed the spear away from the one on the right as though the young invader was a babe. He planted the spear in the back of the disarmed warrior, and in one flowing motion, threw a dagger into the other spearman’s throat. Maybe half a dozen arrows landed about us, and he leapt back to avoid them. I didn’t hesitate.

I threw my chain around his throat and pulled with all my might.

Despite the element of surprise and my speed, he got one hand between the chain and his neck. I crossed my arms and pulled with all my might as he tried flipping me over his back. I held firm though he was like a bucking horse. He was throwing himself every which way in a frenzied attempt to shake me free. He stopped and suddenly pitched back into a pile of stones, knocking the wind from me. He was pushing himself back up and I knew that would be my end if he did so. I kicked one of his legs, connecting solidly, sending him down to the ground hard. I was able to turn him around and get my knee in his back, finishing him off quickly. I grabbed the keys for my shackles and his weapon belt and ran off into the mountains.

to be continued. . .


First Post
I ran for hours until I came to clean stream thousands of feet above the hell I had left behind. I threw myself down and drank deeply. I lay with my face on the cool mud of the shore and thanked the spirit in these woods that I could sense as clearly as the designs on the back of my hand. In the weeks that passed, I hunted for my food and outfitted myself in animal furs, making sure to fashion a large hooded cloak so that I could hide my identity when needed. I always thanked the animal for its sacrifice and never took more from the land than I needed. I also fashioned a heavy walking stick that would serve well as a quarterstaff if needed.

While making my way through a particularly precarious ravine, I saw a human female sprawled on the rocks below. I rushed down and saw she was dressed in the rags of a slave. I was relieved to see she was alive and apparently sleeping. She was shivering so I covered her with my cloak and built a fire a safe distance away. I was stretching and exercising when she awoke. For a moment she didn’t know where was, but when she saw me she screamed and tried to scramble to her feet.

“No,” I said. “I was like you. Look!” I showed her the scars on my wrists where I had long worn shackles.

She hesitated, then sat back with a sigh, covered her eyes with one hand and cried. When she was done, I offered her my water skin, which she drank deeply from. I cooked a rabbit and she ate hungrily before the animal was much past raw. She then told me her name, Alice, and that she was from a small village whose name I do not recall and that raiders had come one night to her home and her husband was killed. She cried again and I waited for her to go on. Alice told me how she was sold to an old woman who had her do everything about her house. A few days ago, her owner had died of natural causes, and since Alice had seen where the old woman kept all her keys, she was able to get out of the house and away from the city before anyone was the wiser. Now that she was out in the middle of nowhere though, she was thinking that perhaps being sold to someone else in the city might not have been a terrible thing after all.

I told her that freedom is all we are promised when we come into this world, and if anything was worth fighting and dying for, that was it. I don’t know what effect my words had, but my offer to escort her to a safer area obviously made a positive impression. And so it was that I led this lone woman to a place of relative safety where she might be able to start her life anew. As the seasons passed, I helped six more former slaves make their way to freedom. It was not coincidence that I found them and inevitably I was seen by the enemy. A price went out on my head, and when I saw the grizzled mountain men making their way through my territory, I avoided them completely.

During the next spring I had to put down a buck that had been shot several times with arrows, but with no finishing blow. I wondered who could do this to an animal and not take the time to hunt it down to put it out of its misery. I laughed at my own foolishness, thinking of what humans did to one another all the time. The next day, I came upon a fox that was chewing its leg off to get out of a trap, and I put it out of its misery. When I found the hunters that were running amok in my land, I showed no mercy. I rushed into the middle of their camp, knocking the first hunter unconscious with a swing of my quarterstaff. The second came at me with a long sword, and we danced around their campfire a bit before I was able to deliver a telling blow, knocking him off his feet. When he tried to get back up, I hit him twice in the head, killing him.

The other human was tied up when he awoke. I pulled back my cloak and barred my teeth to him, eliciting the terror I was hoping for.

“Go back to the others, the other defilers and tell them these woods are theirs no more. And if you ever dare come back, I will skin you alive.”

I cut his ropes and kicked him in the rear as he ran off.


Things got more dangerous as more men made their way into the woods looking for me or perhaps other escaped slaves, but I always stayed one step ahead of them. On one of my daily patrols, I came upon a camp that I watched for some time to discern who these people were and what they wanted. They were a man and a woman, armored in chain, sitting about a campfire, speaking in too low of a voice for me to eavesdrop. I watched them for hours before deciding to climb a tree. After some time, I was almost directly above the pair.

“What do you want in my woods?” I shouted down as ominously as I could.

“I wasn’t aware they belonged to anyone, friend,” the man said.

“I would hope two travelers who mean no harm would be free to go about their business as they see fit,” added the woman.

“Aye, you are free to do as you will, but know this, slavers and their lackeys are not abided here. If you are just travelers, this is not a safe place,” I replied.

“I didn’t realize the danger. Perhaps you will see us somewhere safer?” asked the man.

I agreed to do so and came down from the tree. They were obviously not afraid of my towering form and made pleasant small talk as I led them along. In the days we traveled together, they did all of the talking, telling me of lands near and far. It was certainly not unpleasant listening to their tales.

Finally, around the dinner fire on the third night, the woman, Jetta, asked, “And what of you? How do you find yourself in this place?”

I did not know then what came over me but I spoke for hours, my story spilling out of me from the very beginning. It was almost an act of creation, as though finally sharing my story made it real at last. When I was done, Jetta had tears in her eyes and she nodded to Narcell, apparently her husband.

“Ratchis, we have not been honest with you. We came to these woods looking for you. The former slave that kept the area free, rescuing any slaves you could. We are friars of Nephthys. Do you know who she is?”

I shook my head no.

“She is the goddess of freedom and bravery,” Narcell began. “She was the wife to her brother, Set, the god of power and tyranny. She broke this bond as she seeks to break the bonds of oppression everywhere. Her rangers roam the land, much as you have, maintaining the integrity of nature and helping the enslaved and downtrodden.”

“Those that follow her path, her rangers and friars, are not popular among human leaders. It is similar to what I am sure would be your less than popular status among the orcs of this land,” Jetta continued.

“It was a former slave, Malar, who first spread Nephthys’ belief in freedom over all other aspirations, fending off Set’s abominations. We all answered a calling, friend. We do not seek to control anyone’s destiny. We take those, who out of love and a feeling of duty, seek to make Aquerra a place where one can make their own choices and decide their own fate, and give them the guidance set forth by the goddess. When given a choice some choose to be evil, but others never knew there was a choice."

“Those who are called are the most blessed and the most cursed of people. We are blessed with a clarity of vision that will not be blurred by the lies of man or the justifications of rulers, seeing bondage and tyranny in all its forms. At times, though, it may seem like a curse as those we love oft times reject us for trying to clear away the illusions, and those who we followed in ignorance now scorn our truths, seeing it as the threat it is to their cults of personality, their empires built on the bodies of the poor and the backs of the enslaved.”

“I do not know of this goddess, and if she is the spark in me, perhaps I would have been better served if she had stayed out of my life. I am not sure I like the complications and the loneliness I have known for too long,” I answered.

Jetta nodded, “I understand. Nephthys has blessed you, but she is the goddess of freedom; we would never do anything to cause you to do anything that was not exactly what you wanted to do with your life.”

Narcell stood and said, “We are not just here to see where your path will take you, friend. As you are very aware, great evil takes place in this region, and we have learned of a band of slavers that are responsible for much of the abductions that fills the land of Menovia with its ill-gotten labor. We need someone who knows this land well. Someone that can lead our allies and us over the unseen trails that will allow us to strike at these evildoers without anyone knowing we are coming until it is too late. Have we come to the right person?”

They had at that. I agreed to guide them where they needed to go and agreed to meet them at a crossroads I knew well in two days hence. I left them, needing much time to think about all I had heard and all I was feeling.

to be continued. . .


First Post
More Story of Ratchis. . .

I thought about my life and was shamed at my refutation of who I am while speaking with the friars. I may not have known of Nephthys, but I could not deny the feeling that I had been guided to be where I was. It could not have possibly have been Grumpsch that wanted me to do this work, and it would be arrogance to think I had the strength on my own to make this difference in the lives of those most ignored. One of the deer of the area decided I would make good company while it rested, settling down in the cool grass near where I was sitting. I watched it lay there in peace for hours and thanked the goddess for these moments of peace in the rough sea of life.

When I met with the friars at the appointed time, there were half a dozen individuals with them, all armored and equipped with bows. I was shown an inaccurate map of the area but was still able to pinpoint the location of the road where we would ambush the slavers. I led us to the ambush point in half a day and helped the friar position themselves and their agents so that we would be most able to take out the slavers while minimizing the danger to their captives. We all waited anxiously for over a day for the expected caravan to arrive.

When the slaver’s train came into view, bowmen on both sides of the road began firing at the guards at the front and rear of the caravan. As we planned, I waited for Jetta and Narcell to call upon Nephthys, and as they did I felt myself touched in a spiritual way like I never had before. When they were done, the friars charged the middle of the slaver’s retinue and I followed. We dispatched the lesser guards easily, but there were obviously more experienced warriors closer to the slave carts. One man, dressed in black chain mail and wielding a long sword was barking orders to others. We locked eyes and he came at me. Jetta and Narcell were occupied with several opponents each, and I knew I was alone for this fight.

He came in quickly with feints that I parried away. He began circling me to my right, moving in and out, drawing small wounds on my arms. I realized too late that he was too quick and too accurate for me. He beat away or absorbed all of my blows. I tried everything I knew about staff fighting but could never seem to land anything near a telling blow. I dropped my defense, taking a large risk in an attempt to get through his defenses once. This blunder cost me almost immediately. The fighter, noting my change in style, rushed inside my non-existent defense and ran me through. I went down immediately. I tried standing, but everything was numb. My vision darkened, and I seemed to be miles away from the swordsman who smirked at me, ready to finish me off. Somewhere in my swimming semi-consciousness I saw or heard a heavy blow fall on his shoulder. The look of pain and anger on his face swam before my vision several moments after it was no longer in view, the swordsman pushed back on the defensive by Jetta.

I realized I was weakly holding my large stomach wound, trying feebly to slow the flow of blood that was drenching my hands and then my arms. Somehow, I recognized Narcell running by me, and my head flopped in the direction he ran. He delivered a blow to the swordsman’s head that almost dropped the cagey warrior. Blood was running in the slaver’s eyes, and Jetta stepped out of the engagement with relative ease. She rushed to my side as soon as she was able.

“It’s alright, Ratchis. You serve the lady of freedom this day, and she is watching over you. In the name of Nephthys, I lend thee strength. Blessed is the downtrodden, fulfilled will be those who strive forever for freedom.”

As Jetta finished her prayer and laid her hand up me, her skin turned almost black and took on a visage that exuded so much love that I wept, even as I felt my wounds begin to bind themselves. Jetta was herself again almost immediately and half my brain wanted to chalk the vision up to blood loss. My intuitive, wiser half would not allow me to maintain that lie for long.
The battle had been won and the slaves freed. No slaver escaped our righteous wrath, and no one else had fallen in the skirmish. The magical healing had prevented my death and stabilized my wounds, but I remained very weak. Jetta and Narcell discussed who should stay with me until I was well enough to take care of myself once more. They had decided they would stay together until my question made the decision moot.

“If I come with you, would you teach me all the teachings of Nephthys?”

Jetta answered, “Any who consider the path of the friar are taught all doctrine so that they make an informed decision, made purely by one’s own beliefs and desires, rather than having any basis in ignorance, coercion or manipulation, no matter how well-meaning.”

I asked if I could make the journey with them, and they said they would be honored. I didn’t know where we were going, but it didn’t matter so long as I would have a place to learn the message once and for all. We traveled for nearly a fortnight, following a river for some time and then traveling by road for over a week.

Jetta and Narcell lived in a town called Nikar. It was carved out of a mountain wall, with a small tunnel to bring you inside. They lived in the middle tier in a modest home. We were near other houses and shops and everyone seemed to have a decent roof over their heads. Even the poor of the lower tier, working the salt mine or some other menial labor, were a lot better off than any but the elite in Menovia. It struck more closely how rough conditions were in the tribe. I began to debate in my head what the tribe would do if they knew they had a choice for a different life.

to be continued. . .


First Post
Nikar was largely made up of humans but there were significant racial minorities including gnomes, dwarves and halflings. These different races all seemed to live together in relative harmony, but, despite this, my large form still attracted unwanted attention. I always kept the hood of my cloak up when out in the town, and I did not leave Jetta and Narcell’s house very often except when I would leave the town to relax in a sparse woods a few miles from the mountain face.

The weeks passed slowly, and it was some time before I realized my training had begun. I listened to many stories and was encouraged to convey many of my own. I learned of Ra’s pantheon, Set’s betrayal, Nephthys’ struggles and Fallon’s ascension. I remember fondly the spirited debate we had whether or not the other god’s really were trying to exclude Grumsch and his people from the world. We agreed that it was possible though, if so, magnified many times by the orc god’s paranoia and hatred of Corellon. Jetta and Narcell were already the best friends I ever had, and I was happy to just be in their company, feeling wanted for the first time in my life.

I busied myself with chores around the house as well as cutting wood and gathering water. As the months passed, I grew more comfortable with my command of the common language of the land, as well in the town itself. I would often take strolls with my cloak left behind when the sun was strong enough. I was not warmly embraced but neither was I being chased from the town by an angry mob.

One fine spring day, Jetta informed that she and Narcell had business to attend to and that they might be away for as long as several months. I was saddened that they were going, but their faith in me to watch their home and possessions as well as the idea of making my own way in the town for a while heartened me. Jetta hugged me goodbye and kissed me on the cheek. I am not embarrassed to admit this simple gesture almost brought a tear to my eye. I wondered if holding in my tears for so long had made me more like a human woman than an orc in that regard.

The first few weeks passed pleasantly enough. I cleaned and kept the house in perfect shape while still finding time to enjoy the woods when I could. I repeated the stories of Malar every day. His tales were my favorite, and I knew I had to learn them, whether to impart their wisdom to another or to call upon their inspiration in times of need. It also helped me continue to improve my common.

Eventually, I grew anxious. I had too much energy and not enough release. I figured then that I could find something structured to do with my time while getting to know the citizens of the town a little better. Since the salt mine was on the same tier as the house, I headed there one morning before dawn to talk to one of the burly men I saw at the entrance of the mine each morning. I was too big to work inside the mine itself, but I got a spot as a stacker, loading wagons with bundles of salt ten hours a day.

For weeks, no one spoke to me, and then one day, a short, fat miner invited me to the tavern after work. I went though I stayed silent the entire time. I started going with the other workers a few days a week, drinking a little but never to excess. Though I never discussed it, they knew I was a half-breed. I was often the butt of jokes, but this did not bother me since the men spent much of their time mocking one another. When tales of the wilds or outdoors came up, they would badger me until I would tell some story or another from my days in the wilds. I often found myself leaving gaps in the tales because I did not think it appropriate discussion, but self-censorship was a small price to pay for the camaraderie I came to know.

One strange occurrence was the presence of a human woman who would watch me working several days a week. She looked to be neither young nor old for a human. She was as tall as many human males with black hair and a face I found fascinating. Working alone had a decided advantage, and I began to look forward to her “visits”. I assumed she was just fascinated with what I could possibly be, but the hint of supple form beneath her dress nearly made my head spin at times. On a particularly hot day, she brought me a water-skin. I thanked her and drank deeply. She introduced herself as Madeline. I told her my name and that I was pleased to meet her.

She continued to come by and would often speak with me a bit on my infrequent breaks. She almost always brought some water with her, and I was very appreciative of that.

“How can you stand working in this heat?” she asked me, her voice very much as I had imagined it.

“I am used to hard work. It is tiring but also satisfying,” I answered quietly, unable to make eye contact.

“It’s rare to hear that these days. I bet you need a home-cooked meal. Perhaps you would like to be treated to one at my house sometime?”

“I do not know,” I answered feebly.

“Do you think I am a bad cook?” she asked.

“No,” I mumbled. “It’s just …” I trailed off, having no good reason to name.

“So, it is agreed. I will expect you tomorrow evening,” she decided, giving me instructions to her place and making me repeat them back to her. I was terrified and elated at once.

The next evening I found myself in a two-story house in the middle of a clean, orderly neighborhood. Madeline instructed me to enter in the rear which I assumed at the time was due to my sweaty and grimy appearance. She sent me to clean myself as she set the table. I washed myself, upstairs in the house. I had never seen such opulence before. When I got back downstairs, a beautiful meal was laid out for us. I know my table manners did not impress, but we passed the meal in pleasant conversation. Well, it was passed with me listening to her monologues about various subjects, but I found this to be completely satisfactory.

We went into her sitting room, drank some sort of strong wine and talked for several more hours. She was fascinated by life in the wilds, asking for every detail of different places. As the room seemed to darken and my head swim from the liquor, Madeline came and sat in my lap. I froze as my stomach tied itself into a knot. My mind refused to contemplate this situation, and I don’t know how long I would have sat there if she didn’t kiss me. Suffice it to say it was some time before we reached her bedroom, and my disgust that came with my first experience long ago among the orcs was replaced with a stupidly blissful joy. I slept like a human baby that night.

Shouting awoke me.

“Get out of that bed you half-breed freak!”

Groggily, I looked up to see a thin man pointing a very large crossbow at me. Madeline was holding up her ripped nightdress in front of her nude form.
“Madeline, are you alright?” I asked, revealing my own naked form as I rose from the bed.

“How dare you use her name? You stay where you are, monster, before I end your miserable existence here and now!”

I didn’t know what any of this meant, but I knew I was in grave trouble when Madeline mouthed the words ‘I’m sorry.’

The small, cursing man brought me outside. He thought I had raped his virtuous wife, and I knew the time for arguing was not then. Instead of a constable, I was brought to a nearby tavern.

“Garrick, get out here!” the man called.

Garrick came out with several of his friends, and it was then that I heard Madeline’s story for the first time.

“I-I had brought him water … He looked so thirsty. I didn’t think he would take my generosity as a sign to vi-vi-violate me!” Madeline sobbed. We all heard real fear and real tears, but I knew they came from her fear of her husband’s wrath.
Garrick turned his back from me and then spun back, hitting me heavily in the side of my head. The other men that had come outside joined in and soon, I lay on the ground trying to cover myself as I was stomped unconscious.

. . . to be continued. . .

Jon Potter

First Post
So... What's worse the outright violence of the orc tribe or the subtle betrayals of the humans? That's a tough life, Ratchis has lead!
It's a very welcome surprise to see this thread resurface after so long.


First Post
The guy sure has had a tough life. I've been impressed with how 'good' he is in Nemmerle's story. I'm curious if that will be explained more.


First Post
updated 10/26

When I awoke, my arms were tied painfully behind my back and I was surrounded by what I can only describe as an angry mob. I sat up and was promptly kicked back down by Madeline’s husband. I watched from the ground as Garrick threw one end of a rope over the limb of a tree I was laying near. There were murmurs of approval and a call of, ‘Hang the monster!’ When the preparations were finished, I was roughly pulled to my feet, a noose was put over my head and I was made to stand on top of a barrel.

“Let all outsiders and miscreants remember this. We of Nikar will not be assaulted in our homes without retribution!” the husband of Madeline, apparently known as Karlton, proclaimed before kicking the barrel out from under me.

They had done a poor job of hanging; it isn’t as easy as it looks, and my neck did not break. My weight was doing a good enough job of choking the life out of me, spots clouding my blackened vision as my life slipped away. Without knowing what happened, I feel to the ground heavily, sucking air past my burning throat. I heard the telltale clatter of a heavy crossbow being loaded incredibly quickly.

“The next shot is in your eye, Karlton,” a booming voice announced calmly. “There will be no hanging today.”

I lost the rest of the angry exchange as I passed out.

I awoke briefly in a cell, a gnome woman wiping my brow with a cool rag. When I awoke again it was very dark in the cell and I was obviously alone. I lay awake for hours, occasionally rubbing at my injured throat. In the morning, a guard came and slid some bread and water under the bars of my cell. A hill dwarf that I vaguely recognized as the wielder of the crossbow from the day before was there as well.

“Thank you,” I managed in a weak whisper.

“Don’t thank me, just prolonging the inevitable if you are convicted of the crime you are accused,” he answered in his gruff voice.

I tried explaining my side of things but my throat would not cooperate. The dwarf shook his head at me with poorly hid contempt.

“Save it; I’m not letting you out whatever you say. We will arrange a fair hearing of some sort. Just so you know, I am Marno and I sit on the council here so justice will be served.”

With that, he was gone. I drank some of the water to soothe my throat but ignored all the meals brought to me that day. For the next few days, I got used to the unfortunate conditions I found myself in. At least my throat was healing, and I was able to eat dinner on the second night. As they always do, this awful situation was reduced to boredom and waiting to see what would happen next.

I was awoken the next morning by a guard. With him were Narcell and Jetta. They were filthy and looked exhausted. Obviously, they had come straight here when they got into town. I swallowed a painful lump in my throat at the comfort their presence brought me.

“Excuse us,” Jetta said to the guard.

“Come on Jetta, you know Marno would give me midnight-watch duty for 6 months if I allow you to be alone with him,” the guard whined.

Narcell was looking out the window and commented quietly, “Its okay Branick, we have never revealed the other secrets you have shared with us. You can trust us to continue to stay quiet.”

Whatever message Narcell meant to send, arrived and the guard quickly excused himself, assuring the couple that he was just a shout away.

“Ratchis, what happened?” Jetta asked as soon as the door closed.

I told them everything, much more than what the question was aimed at. I told them all I had done since they had left. I paused and then blushed through the telling of my meeting and of growing close to Madeline. Whatever might come, it was a huge relief to finally tell someone what had really happened. Jetta nodded when I was done and then stepped aside with Narcell.

“We believe you. We will get you out of here,” Jetta stated simply after a moment.

My mood remained light after they left. At least there were people on my side. I did not have faith in this town’s justice system, but I was confident Jetta and Narcell would see that I was given as fair a shake as possible. It was only a day or two later that a guard came for me. He had me cleaned and shaved, and then I was attired in a simple woolen outfit. My hands were then shackled together and I was brought from my small cell to a large Council chamber where several humans, two halflings, another dwarf and Marno were sitting at a long table shaped in a semi-circle on a dais. Guards stood to either side of the dais and there two sets of tables faced the dais, the area forming an ampitheater within the larger chamber. At one table sat Narcell and Jetta and at the other were Madeline and her husband. Karlton glared at me as I was seated near Narcell and Jetta, and Madeline did not even glance in my direction.

“We are here to determine the guilt or innocence of Ratchis, an unknown in our town, brought here by these friars of Nephthys,” Marno announced in a loud voice, making little attempt to hide his contempt.

... to be continued. . .

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