Holly Dent was pretty evil, but she wasn’t a caricature. There was a spark of good within her twisted heart. If she’d taken an honest look into her own psyche, she could have traced her behavior to her five-year old self, 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. Occasionally, vague details would come to the fore—Peter had dosed her, she’d killed something furry, but beyond that…
The Event had incepted her with a secret attraction to Peter Lee. She only expressed it in the dark of her room—when the lights were out and no one could see.
Under her bed was a customized vault. For her thirteenth birthday, she’d asked Dear Old Dad to equip it with lethal deterrents. He’d readily agreed. Anything for his Sweet Little Angel.
The vault contained stacks of dildos—seven inches long, five and a half inches in circumference. When they made contact with her bodily fluids, they began to disintegrate. She’d scoured the dark web for close to a year before finding a craftsman that could make the cocks to her exact specifications. Instead of a dickhead, they all sported Peter’s face. His eyes were extra squinty, his face was extra angry.
Now, as she held a “pildo” (a Peter-dildo) up to the light, she turned it back and forth in front of her eyes.
You will pay for your crimes, fucker.
It went between her legs. In less than a minute, she worked herself up to a raging orgasm. Once she was done, she studied the pildo again. As the material disintegrated, Peter’s features went from angry to sad. This was her favorite part.
That’s right, cunt—you fucked with the wrong cheerleader.
She pushed her thumb against Peter’s brow, snapping his head off. A shuddering moan escaped her lips.
I can’t wait to destroy you.
Kor’Thank spun into a coiled crouch, shooting his greatsword past his side and into the belly of an attacking Orc. The enormous weapon seesawed away, still lodged in his assailant’s torso.
He hammer-fisted a second on the bridge of its nose, knocking its eyeballs out from their sockets. The Orc fled, gibbering and screaming as its eyes hung by their stringy nerves.
Krul’Dar, a dozen yards distant, started in alarm. The king had lost his weapon—a sure sign he was in dire straits. The Chronicler turned to the escort, but they were busy playing boulders-parchment-blades, bored as usual with Kor’Thank’s workout.
“ARCHERS—LOOK ALIVE, DAMN YOU!”
“NO!” Kor’Thank roared. “NOCK YOUR BOW AND I’LL PUNCH YOUR ARM!” He ducked a slash and threw a leg-kick, splitting an Orc’s femur into red-washed jags that poked from its skin.
The guardsmen—they’d all snatched arrows from their quivers—holstered the missiles just as quickly. An arm-punch from Kor’Thank meant broken bones (only one, if you were lucky), followed by half a year of rehabilitation. When sparring with the king, there was no such thing as “blocking a strike.”
An Orc jumped on Kor’s back, grabbing a fistful of hair and exposing his throat. The king twitched backward in a powerful leap, smashing the creature against the earth. The monster howled as its ribs broke with a resonant CR-CR-CRACK.
“COME AT ME!” Kor’Thank reached under a fifth Orc’s kilt, yanked off its genitals, and blattered its face with its own scrotum. “GIVE ME A CHALLENGE, GODS DAMN YOU!” He slipped a stab, gouged a throat, and ripped out a string of gore-covered vertebra.
He raised his fist and swiveled in place, ready to crush skulls or rupture organs, but he’d killed them all.
All save one.
The last Orc lay on its belly, out cold. The king lowered to a knee and lifted its head by its warrior’s queue.
The Orc’s eyes fluttered open. Its fearsome underbite hung loosely down. Its bottom fangs—typically, they would have extended an inch up its cheeks if its mouth were closed—barely touched its upper lip.
He shook the Orc by its queue. “Where is your horde? WHERE?”
“We…are…all that is left.”
He 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! I…speak…AGH! TRUTH!”
Kor let go. The Orc fell to its knees, rubbing its skull with yellowed claws. The king stared at it.
Two years ago, he’d repelled an offensive by the Orc Alliance. Now, all that remained were these beaten-down stragglers. Mopping them up was a task for his guardsmen. They could use the practice, as he’d had plenty.
So let them do it.
The thought resonated dimly through his mind…then fell away in a tide of rage. He cocked a fist and the Orc flinched back.
“Quarter,” it rumbled. “I beg quarter.”
Kor’Thank was silent for a long, tense moment. Then he unclenched his fist and extended a hand.
The Orc took it and rose to its feet. “Your name, Human, so I may regale my people with tales of your streng—”
“My name means nothing,” Kor’Thank grunted. “I am naught but a soldier.”
The Orc raised a wart-speckled brow. “I have never seen a soldier as formidable as—”
“Go.” A flap of the arm. “Before I pull your guts out through your nose.”
The Orc turned and ran. Kor’Thank watched as it crested a hill.
Once it was gone, he swiveled on his heel and strode to his raptor. He shook the saddle, making sure it was firmly seated, then leapt onto Bitefighter’s back.
“Mount up!” he yelled. “Killing Orcs rouses my thirst!”
The barbarians set off for Olgor (the nearest town) which lay three keltins west. As they rode across the desert, they exchanged excited glances. Of late, the king had become increasingly fickle. The men didn’t know if they were in for grueling training, or if they would stand idly by as Kor’Thank finished his murderous “workout.” A trip to the pub was a welcome treat.
The king squeezed his massive thighs, urging his mount to run faster. As saurian talons beat the earth, gritty dust funneled skyward, marking 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 defeated every threat, great and small. Flaysac’s bandits,” he muttered, turning back to his ale. “They’re all that’s left.”
“We have discussed this at length,” Krul reminded. “He’s fortified the mountains with bulwarks and barricades. A war with Flaysac would gut our forces.”
Kor’Thank sighed. “I know. It’s just that—”
“We are free, Kor—free to enjoy our hard-won peace.” Krul glanced back over his shoulder. The other barbarians were slurping ale, chatting boisterously. It wouldn’t be long before they started wrestling. He looked again at the king. “And yet still I worry.”
Kor’Thank scoffed. “You nag me Krul. Like an old crone in a tired parable.”
“You need challenge, Kor. Or you risk becoming like the very tyrants you’ve conquered and slain.”
“I will never!” Kor’Thank snarled. He gulped his ale and gestured for another. The innkeeper slid him a fresh stein.
“ ’Tis our basic nature—we wither without struggle. The greatest hell lies on the ceiling of heaven. For as deep as you go into the realms of misery, you can still crawl up.” Krul’Dar took a weighted 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 fell silent. After a few seconds, he turned and regarded his Indashi warriors. They were brave men, one and all. Yet as he watched them laugh and make merry, he began to condemn them within his mind.
They’re soft. Weak. They need—
Krul’s voice interrupted his thoughts: “Why such malice in your gaze?”
Kor looked down, suddenly ashamed. “I…nothing.” He gave Krul a weak smile, then looked irritably around and locked eyes with the barkeep. “Ho!” The king reached into a waist-pouch and produced a gold drogo. It bore a rough semblance of his face on one side, a snarling velociraptor on the other. “Another round!”
The barkeep stepped tentatively forward, hands folded meekly before him. “I lack the change for an entire drogo. If you have something smaller…”
“Keep the change, you gunt-sniffing dundernonce!”
The barkeep took the money and shuffled away. Krul trailed him with his gaze. “A little harsh, don’t you think?”
“I am his king,” Kor’Thank grumbled. “He—like the rest of my subjects—should praise my lenience. I could order them all into heavy armor, then march them through the Rakarian Bogs.”
“Many do so of their own accord. There are countless groups that follow your example.”
Kor’Thank’s eyes glinted cruelly. “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. “There is no peace in battle, none in victory, even! I need…I need…”
He looked guilty, then dour.
“I need another beer. Where’s my drink?”
Another beer was placed before him. He drank it down in a single draught. “Another!”
Another beer slid across the counter. Kor’Thank stared at its foaming head, watching the froth calm and vanish. “I need a worthy opponent,” he muttered. “One I can fight without destroying my kingdom.”
“You’ll find none in there,” Krul said.
Kor’Thank grimaced and gulped his beer.
I know, he thought.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
So what in the blingcock am I to DO?