Holly Dent was pretty damn evil, but she wasn’t a caricature. There was a spark of goodness within her twisted, malicious heart. If she’d taken a long, honest look into her distorted psyche, she could have traced her dark inclinations to her five-year old self, back to when Peter Lee had…
She didn’t want to think about it.
But even so, The Event haunted her throughout the day, nagging at the edges of her malevolent mind. Sometimes, vague details would come to the fore. She’d killed something, Peter had been involved, but beyond that…
Through some strange, unknowable mechanism, the Event had incepted her with a secret attraction to Peter Lee. She only expressed it in the privacy of her room—when the lights were out and no one was looking. Under her bed was a customized vault. For her thirteenth birthday, she’d asked her dad to equip it with lethal deterrents. He’d complied without question—anything for his sweet little angel. Inside the vault were stacks of seven-inch dildos, 5.5 inches in circumference. When they made contact with her bodily fluids, they immediately began to disintegrate. She’d scoured the dark web for close to a year in order to find a craftsman that could manufacture each cock to her precise specifications. Instead of a dickhead, they all sported a miniature version of Peter’s face. His eyes were extra squinty, and his expression was extra angry.
Now, as she held a “pildo” (Peter-dildo) up to the light, she turned it back and forth in front of her face, studying it with the sociopathic concentration of a cut-rate Bond villain.
You will pay for your crimes, fucker.
Then she inserted it between her legs. In less than a minute, she worked herself up to a raging orgasm.
Once she was done, she stared at the pildo again. As the material broke down, Peter’s features went from angry to sad. This was her favorite part.
That’s right, cunt—you fucked with the wrong cheerleader.
She gripped the shaft and pushed her thumb against Peter’s brow. His head snapped off like a cheaply made pencil.
A shuddering moan escaped her lips.
I can’t wait to destroy you.
Kor’Thank spun into a crouch, shooting his greatsword past his side and into the belly of an attacking Orc. He released his weapon and it seesawed away, still lodged in his enemy’s torso. The king hammer-fisted another Orc on the bridge of its nose, knocking its eyes clean out of their sockets. The Orc gibbered and screamed, its eyeballs dangling in front of its cheeks like macabre Endyear ornaments.
Krul’Dar, a dozen yards away, started in alarm. Kor’Thank had lost his sword—a sure sign he was in dire straits. He turned to the royal escort, but they were busy chatting and playing boulder-parchment-blades, bored as usual by Kor’Thank’s workout.
“ARCHERS—LOOK ALIVE, DAMN YOU!”
“NO!” Kor’Thank roared. “NOCK YOUR BOW AND I’LL PUNCH YOU IN THE ARM!” He ducked a sweeping slash and threw a leg-kick, splitting a third Orc’s femur into red-washed jags that poked through it skin.
The guardsmen, all of whom had snatched an arrow from their quivers, holstered their missiles just as quickly. An arm-punch from Kor’Thank would mean a month in a sling, followed by half a year of rehabilitation. If you were sparring with Kor’Thank, there was no such thing as “blocking a strike.”
Another Orc jumped onto Kor’s back, grabbing a fistful of hair and exposing his throat. The king bowed forward, coiling his legs, then twitched backward in a powerful leap. When he hit the ground, he sandwiched his assailant between his muscled body and the unforgiving earth. The monster screamed as its ribs broke with a resonant CRACK.
“COME AT ME!” Kor’Thank reached under a fifth Orc’s kilt, yanked its genitals off, and blattered it across the face with its own scrotum. “GIVE ME A CHALLENGE, GODS DAMN YOU!” He dropped another attacker with a hook to the liver. The king slipped a stab, gouged a throat, and ripped out a string of gore-covered vertebra.
The last Orc lay on its belly, face turned sideways. Its eyes were closed but it was still alive, evidenced by the rise and fall of its green torso.
Kor’Thank knelt, lifting its head up by pulling back on its warrior’s queue. The Orc’s eyes fluttered open. Its fearsome underbite hung loosely down. Its lower set of fangs fangs—which would extend an inch up its cheeks if its mouth were closed—barely touched its upper lip.
“You picked the wrong day to raise my ire,” Kor’Thank hissed, shaking the Orc by its queue. “Where’s your horde? WHERE?”
Kor’Thank shook it again. “Lies—LIES!” He stood up, pulling the Orc by its hair until its feet dangled above the earth. “WHERE ARE THEY???”
“I…agh!” It tried to pry Kor’thank’s hand off of its scalp. “I…speak…AGH! TRUTH!”
Kor’Thank dropped the monster and it fell to its knees, rubbing its leathery skull with yellowed claws. The king stared down at it, his chest heaving in heavy pants. Two years ago, he’d repelled an offensive by the Orc Alliance. Now, all that was left were these rag-tag stragglers. Mopping them up was a task for first-year guardsmen; they could use the practice, as he’d had plenty.
So let them do it.
The thought resonated dimly through his mind…but it was washed away by a tide of rage. He cocked a fist and the Orc flinched back, shielding its face with its scaly hands.
“Quarter,” it rumbled. “I beg quarter.”
Kor’Thank stared at it for a long moment. Then he extended his hand. The Orc took it and rose to its feet.
“Your name, Human, so that I may inform my people of your strength and prowe—”
“My name means nothing,” Kor’Thank grunted. “I am naught but a soldier.”
The Orc raised a wart-speckled eyebrow. “Never before have I borne witness to a soldier as formidable as—”
“Go.” A flap of the arm. “Before I change my mind and pull your guts through your nose.”
The Orc turned and ran. Kor’Thank watched it as it fled, rage smoldering in his shadowed eyes. Unsurprisingly, his men had all found something to do. No one wanted to catch Kor’thank’s attention.
The king turned on his heel and strode to his war-raptor. He shook the saddle, making sure it was seated, then leapt up onto Bitefighter’s back.
“Mount up!” he yelled. “Killing Orcs rouses my thirst!”
The barbarians scrambled onto their raptors. Kor’Thank squeezed Bitefighter’s flanks with his striated thighs, and the troop set off for the nearest town—Olgor—which lay three keltins west.
As they rode, the Indashi guardsmen exchanged excited looks. Of late, the king had become increasingly fickle. The men didn’t know if they were in for a grueling training session, or if they’d stand idly by as Kor’Thank completed his murder-rife “workout.” A trip to the pub was a welcome treat.
“HYAAAHH!” Kor’Thank urged Bitefighter to pick up the pace, and his men did the same with their respective mounts. As their raptors’ talons beat the dusty earth, gritty particulate funneled skyward, heralding their passage with a low-hanging haze.
Kor’Thank chugged another stein of ale. Krul’Dar—sitting to his right—gave him a worried look.
“Kor…don’t you think that—”
“Don’t I think that what?” The king’s bloodshot eyes bored into Krul’s. “We’ve laid low every threat, both great and small. Flaysac’s bandits,” he muttered, turning away and facing forward. “They’re all that’s left.”
“We have discussed this at length,” Krul said. “His men have spent well over a decade fortifying the mountains. A war with Flaysac would gut our forces.”
Kor’Thank sighed. “I know. It’s just that—”
“We are free to enjoy ourselves.” Krul’Dar looked over his shoulder and stared at the men, who were slurping ale and chattering boisterously. It wouldn’t be long before they started wrestling. He turned back to Kor’Thank. “And yet I still worry. There is one Indashi who—”
Kor’Thank scoffed. “You nag me like an old crone, Krul’Dar. An old crone in a tired parable.”
“You must find a new challenge, one that has nothing to do with Flaysac. Otherwise, you will become like every tyrant you’ve ever vanquished.”
“I will never.” Kor’Thank snarled. He gulped the rest of his ale and gestured for another. The innkeeper slid him a fresh stein.
“It is not a question of willpower,” Krul stated. “ ’Tis simply our nature—we wither without struggle. The greatest hell rests on the ceiling of heaven, not in the dark of the Eternal Abyss. For as deep as you go into the realms of misery, you can still crawl up.” He took a deep breath. “You are in grave peril, my liege.”
“I told you, Krul—call me by my name. Enough with the fancy-sounding—”
“I cannot, old friend. For in this matter, I am your dutiful servant.”
Kor’Thank fell silent and looked over his shoulder at his Indashi warriors. They were brave men, one and all. Yet as he watched them laugh, drink, and make merry, he couldn’t help but condemn them in his mind.
They’re soft. Weak. They need harsher training. They need—
Krul laid a hand on Kor’Thank’s shoulder. “What fires your gaze with such malice?”
Kor looked down, abruptly ashamed. “I…nothing.” He gave Krul a weak smile. “Innkeeper!” The king reached into a lizard-skin pouch affixed to his waist, withdrew a gold drogo, and held it up. It bore a rough semblance of his face on one side, and a snarling velociraptor on the other. “Another round!”
The innkeeper stepped toward him, hands folded meekly before his waist. “I lack the change for an entire drogo, my king, if you have something a bit sma—”
“Keep the change, you prevaricating dundernonce!” Kor’Thank snapped.
The innkeeper took the money and shuffled away.
Krul trailed him with his eyes, then looked back at Kor’Thank. “A little harsh, don’t you think?”
“I am king of the Indashi,” Kor’Thank retorted. “My subjects should be grateful that I don’t march them through the Rakarian Bogs.”
Krul shook his head. “Many do so of their own accord. There are countless youth groups dedicated to following your example.”
A mean glint arose in Kor’Thank’s eyes. “So they want to be me, eh? They want to traipse around the countryside and rip apart weaklings? Akanax’s balls!” He slammed the counter with a gnarled fist. “No peace in battle…and none in victory! I need…I need…”
He looked guilty, then dour.
“I need another beer.” He turned to the innkeeper. “Ho! Another round! And make it fast, gods damn you!”
Another beer was placed before him. He drank it down in a single draught. “Another!”
A second stein came sliding across the counter. Kor’Thank didn’t drink it; instead, he stared moodily at its foaming head, watching the froth calm and vanish.
“I need a worthy opponent,” he muttered. “One I can fight without destroying the entire kingdom.”
“You’ll find none in there,” Krul said.
Kor’Thank grimaced. Gulped his beer.
I know, he thought.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
So what in the Seven Hells am I supposed to DO?