Holly Dent, despite being one of the purest incarnations of evil to ever walk the Earth, was not a caricature—there was a spark of good buried deep within her heinous, repugnant heart. If she’d been willing to take a long, honest look into her twisted psyche, she could have traced her dark inclinations back to when she was five years old, 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 psychopathic mind. If she strained her memory, vague details came to the fore: she had killed something, Peter had had something to do with it, but beyond that…
The Event had incepted her with a secret attraction to him. To address this, she set aside time to express it in the privacy of her room—when the lights were out and when no one was looking.
Beneath her bed was a customized vault. For her thirteenth birthday, she’d asked her dad to equip it with lethal deterrents. He’d complied in a heartbeat—anything for his sweet little angel. Inside the vault were stacks of seven-inch dildos, 5.5 inches in circumference. Once they made contact with her bodily fluids, they immediately began to fall apart. She’d scoured the dark web for close to a year, and eventually found a craftsman that could manufacture the cocks to her exact specifications. Instead of a dickhead, they all sported a miniature version of Peter’s face. She’d requested that his eyes be extra squinty, and that his expression be extra angry.
Now, as she held a “pildo” (short for Peter-dildo) up to the light, she turned it back and forth in front of her eyes, studying it like a Bond villain.
You will pay for your crimes, Peter Lee.
She inserted it between her legs and worked herself up to a raging orgasm.
After she finished, she stared again at the pildo, gazing intently at Peter’s face. As the material broke down, his features went from angry to sad. She was still shaking from aftershocks, but she paid them no mind—this was her favorite part; she loved watching Peter bawl and sob.
That’s right asshole—you fucked with the wrong cheerleader.
She gripped the shaft, pushing her thumb against Peter’s brow, snapping his head off like he was an Eberhard #2.
A shuddering moan escaped her lips.
I can’t wait to destroy you.
Kor’Thank spun into a crouch, shooting his greatsword past his armpit and into the belly of an attacking Orc. He let go of his weapon, allowing it to seesaw away as the Orc fell back.
He leapt to his feet and punched another in the nose, knocking its eyes clean from their sockets. The Orc gibbered and screamed, its eyeballs dangling on its cheeks like Endyear ornaments.
Krul’Dar, a dozen yards away, rushed forward. His king had lost his sword—a sure sign he was in dire straits. He turned to the royal escort: a squad of Indashi guardsmen assigned to accompany Kor’Thank. They were chatting amongst themselves and playing boulder-parchment-blades, bored as usual by Kor’Thank’s workout.
“ARCHERS—LOOK ALIVE, GODS DAMN YOU!”
Kor’Thank roared, “NO! NOCK YOUR BOW AND I’LL PUNCH YOUR ARM!” He ducked a sweeping slash and threw a leg-kick, splitting an Orc’s femur into red-washed jags that poked through its skin. It went down screaming and spitting, cursing in its harsh, rasping tongue.
The guardsmen, all of whom had snatched an arrow from their quivers, re-holstered the missiles just as quickly. An arm-punch from Kor’Thank would mean months in a sling. When exchanging fisticuffs with the Indashi king, there was no such thing as “blocking a strike.”
An Orc jumped onto Kor’s back, grabbing a fistful of hair and exposing the king’s throat. Kor’Thank twitched forward into a semi-squat…then leapt backward, powering through space like a steel shot launched from an Elcumenical catapult. As he landed, he sandwiched the Orc between his muscled body and the unforgiving earth.
The Orc screamed as its ribs broke, filling the air with gruesome snaps. As Kor’Thank rolled off, Krul glimpsed bloody bones protruding from the Orc’s chest, clutching at the air like witch’s fingers.
“COME AT ME!” Kor’Thank roared. He reached under an Orc’s kilt and yanked its genitals clean off. He blattered it across the face with its own scrotum. “GIVE ME A CHALLENGE, GODS DAMN YOU!” He dropped another with a left hook to the liver, then stuffed a fistful of cock into its mouth. Kor’Thank slipped a stab, gouged a throat with his massive fingers, and ripped out a string of vertebrae. He jammed it into another Orc’s face and shattered its nose, forcing the shards into its brain.
Finally, there was a single Orc left. It 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, pulling its head back by its warrior’s queue. The Orc’s eyes fluttered open. Its fearsome underbite hung loosely down. Its fangs—they would typically extend an inch up its cheeks—barely touched its upper lip.
Kor’Thank hissed, “You picked the wrong day to raise my ire.” He shook the Orc by its queue. “Where’s the rest of your horde? WHERE?”
It rumbled out in harsh Common: “We…are…the…only…ones.”
Kor’Thank shook its head again. “Lies—LIES!” He stood up, pulling the Orc by its hair until its feet dangled above the earth. “WHERE ARE THEY???”
“I…agh! I…speak…AGH! TRUTH!”
Kor’Thank dropped the Orc and it fell to its knees, rubbing its skull with yellowed claws.
The barbarian king stared down at the monster, chest heaving in heavy pants. Two years ago, he’d repelled an offensive by the Orc Alliance. Now, the only thing left was to mop up the stragglers, a task that was better suited for first-year guardsmen. They could use the practice; he’d had plenty.
So let them do it.
This resonated dimly through his mind…but it was quickly washed away by a tide of rage. He raised a fist and cocked it up by his ear. Blood dripped from his knuckles and dotted his shoulder. The Orc flinched back, shielding its face with a scaly pair of hands.
“Quarter,” it rumbled. “I beg quarter.”
It didn’t tremble or shake. In its own savage way, the Orc was admirable. Its culture might propagate slaughter and torture, but some of its ideals were firmly aligned with the Indashi ethos—ideals like honor and bravery. Ideals like valor and discipline.
Kor’Thank lowered his fist. For a long, tense moment, he stared at the monster. Then he extended a hand.
The Orc took it. It rose to its feet, standing in stoic silence. A good thing. Given the mood Kor was in, he might have head-butted the Orc if it had shown weakness.
“I thank you, fearsome human. Your name, I beg you, so that I may inform my people of your strength and prowe—”
“My name means nothing,” Kor’Thank snapped. “I am naught but a soldier.”
The Orc raised a wart-speckled eyebrow. “I have yet to witness 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 flee, his mammoth hands clenched tightly by his hips. He turned to his men. Unsurprisingly, they’d all found something to do; they were studiously avoiding his wrathful glare.
The king turned on his heel and strode to his war-raptor. He shook the saddle, ensuring it was firmly seated, then leapt up onto Bitefighter’s back.
“Mount up!” he called to his men. “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 leagues west.
As they rode, the Indashi guardsmen exchanged excited looks. Of late, the king had been fickle; the men couldn’t predict if they were going to endure an extended session of grueling training, or whether they’d stand idly by, watching as Kor’Thank went on a rampaging kill-fest. A trip to the pub was a welcome treat.
“HYAAAHH!” Kor’Thank urged Bitefighter on, and his men did the same.
As the 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 what?” The king’s bloodshot eyes bored into Krul’s. “We’ve canvassed Elithia and laid low every threat, great and small. We are free to enjoy ourselves.” He looked over his shoulder and stared at his men, all of whom were slurping down ale and chattering boisterously. It wouldn’t be long before they started wrestling.
Krul’s voice remained quiet but insistent. “I know, Kor—your people prosper and your army is strong. Yet there is still an Indashi who is in mortal danger.”
Kor’Thank scoffed. “Enough doubletalk, Krul—’tis beneath you.”
The Chief Chronicler remained undeterred. “I’m talking about you, Kor.”
Another scoff. “You nag me with theatrical nonsense—like an old crone in a tired parable.”
Krul replied a measured look. “You must find a new challenge. Otherwise, you will become no different than the tyrants you’ve 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 continued. “ ’Tis simply man’s nature—we wither without struggle. The greatest hell lies in the ceiling of heaven, not in the bottomless 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.”
Kor’Thank swore beneath his breath. “I told you—call me by my name; do not employ fancy-sounding—”
“I cannot, old friend. For in this matter, I am your dutiful servant.”
Kor’Thank fell silent. He looked again at his Indashi soldiers. They were brave warriors, one and all. Yet as he watched his men laugh and drink, and regale each other with boisterous tales, 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 wrist. “What sets your gaze afire with such malice?”
Kor started and looked down at the counter, abruptly embarrassed. He muttered, “I…nothing.” He gave Krul a weak smile. “I need more beer. Innkeeper!” He reached into a lizard-skin pouch affixed to his waist, and withdrew a gold drogo. It bore a rough semblance of his face on one side, and a snarling velociraptor on the other. He held it up to his cheek and yelled, “Another round for me and my men!”
The innkeeper stepped meekly forward. “I lack the change for an entire drogo, my king, if you have something a bit sma—”
“Do not bother me with meaningless trivialities!” Kor’Thank snapped. “Keep the change, you dundernonce!”
The innkeeper took the money and shuffled away.
Krul trailed him with his eyes, then looked at Kor’Thank. “A little harsh, don’t you think?”
“I am the Indashi king,” Kor’Thank retorted. “My subjects should be grateful I don’t march them through the Rakarian Bogs. And believe you me—they could use the conditioning. Our people are soft.”
Krul shook his head, quietly dismayed. “Many of them do that of their own accord. There are countless youth groups dedicated to following your example.”
A mean glint arose in Kor’Thank’s eye. “So they want to be me, eh? They want to traipse around the countryside and rip apart weaklings?” He gulped his beer, then wiped his mouth with his hairy knuckles. “Akanax’s balls!” He slammed the counter with a massive fist. “There’s no peace in battle…none even 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, and he drank it down in a single draught. “Another!” A second stein came sliding across the counter, delicious foam bubbling from its brim.
Kor’Thank didn’t drink it; instead, he stared moodily at its foaming head, watching the froth calm and vanish. Soon, he was staring at the beer’s amber surface, locking gazes with his distorted reflection.
Finally, he muttered: “I need a worthy opponent.”
“You’ll find none in there,” Krul said.
Kor’Thank grimaced. Gulped down his beer.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
So what in the Seven Hells am I supposed to DO?