Chapter 30 - Jason

My face feels like it’s burning as a rough hand runs across my face and smacks me awake. Did they knock me out? How long did they beat me? Another rough slap. I don’t open my eyes yet. I’m trying to remember what happened. I was outside fighting, beat a few Orcs. Reinforcements came from inside, someone in a car pulled up. They dragged me inside. There it is, they started beating me. Wanted to know who I worked for. I didn’t answer. I guess they really did knock me out. They’re going to pay for that. It’s personal now. A third hard slap.

“If you slap me like that again, I’m going to cut you open make you jump rope with your own intestines,” I open my eyes and stare at the Orc in front of me.

He must be the boss. Suit and tie, really sticking to the mafia vibe. The nasty kinked dreadlocks they’ve taken to wearing cover his head. He’s one of the few Orcs I’ve seen who still has the large underbite and massive teeth. Long lost their evolutionary purpose, most Orcs aren’t born with them anymore. Lots of them still get them implanted, their way of distinguishing themselves from the Goblins even more. His look like he opted for gold and jewel incrusted implants. I can’t wait until I get the chance to knock them right out of his head.

“You must not know who you’re talking to,” he wrings his hands.

“I don’t give a fuck who I’m talking to, just don’t slap me again,” I notice all of my gear spread out neatly on a table behind him. Is this some kind of interrogation?

“I’m a nice guy, so I won’t slap you again if you tell me who you’re working for.”

“I’m a free agent,” I joke.

“Don’t try to be a tough guy, you’re lucky we didn’t kill you.”

“Well thank you for your kindness,” they’re not used to hostages. They’ve ziptied my hands together in front of me. That move is going to cost him his life.

“Now, who do you work for?”

“I told you, I work for myself. Don’t you listen?”

This time he goes for a closed hand punch, to the top of my head. I told him to keep his hands to himself. I lift myself from the chair and look up into his eyes. He doesn’t back down. Good, it’ll be a fight. I lift my knee directly into his groin. I’m not above nut shots. While he recoils, I raise my arms over my head and slam them down, snapping the zipties. Now we’ve got a fair fight.

He rushes in trying to take me down. I sidestep and slam his head into the wall. I’m pissed off now. I don’t give him a moment to escape. I pound the back of his head punch after punch. My knuckles feel the pain of his hard skull, but I’m sure he’s feeling as much pain as I am right now. I hear the door start to open, I rush to the other side of the room. I kick the door closed on another Orcs arm. He snatches it back and I lock the door.

I grab my things from the table, looks like I’m taking a hostage out of her. I grab my knife and lift the boss. Knife around his neck I head out the room to several pissed off Orcs. When they see the knife they calm down. Orcs never leave anyone behind if they can get out.

“I’m gonna kill you,” one Orc yells, being held back by his friends.

“Go get Gnoth,” the boss mumbles and a few take off.

The rest remain still as I make my way into the main lobby. I’m stopped when I come face to face with what must be Gnoth. I just let the boss go, because I can’t win this fight with a hostage. Gnoth has to bee full blooded Orc. I had heard rumors about Orcs still breeding some for war in the event that they could rise to power again. I thought they were rumors, but clearly not. Gnoth had to be at least eight feet tall and four hundred pounds of muscle. His teeth weren’t implants and he had them at the top and bottom. He even dragged a warhammer across the ground. I had never seen a warhammer anywhere beyond history books, but he was dragging one that had to be a few hundred pounds and he was standing between me and the door.

I make the first move. I rush towards the left side of the room, then change directions and try to slide between his legs. He grabs me and tosses me back to the other side of the room. I pull myself off the floor. I’m just going to have to find another way. I’ve got one sunlight grenade left. I could try that but I’m not sure when I can afford more. I don’t even know if bullets could penetrate. I guess I could try cutting him down to size.

My choice is made as he starts to move towards me dragging the hammer. He lifts it into the air puncturing the ceiling as he reaches the peak. This gives me a chance. I dive at his foot and make some rapid slashes at the back of the tree trunks he calls ankles before he can kick me off and send me into another wall. He’s cut and bleeding but it doesn’t look like it did any good. He’s managed to get his hammer free and now he’s swinging side to side. I manage to dive out of the way as he creates a hole straight through the wall where I used to be.

We continue the song and dance. I dodge a deathblow, I stab at his Achilles again trying to bring him to the ground. Then I get flung across the room. I swear I’ve cut through his tendon at this point and he’s still moving. This time around I scrape the bone for sure and he’s still moving. My lucky break comes when he goes to swing the hammer again. His leg finally gives out under the weight. I take the opportunity to climb his shoulders. I start to stab at his eyes and ears. Any fleshy parts my knife can easily penetrate. He doesn’t even scream in pain. I can only wonder if he even feels pain as he finally falls to the ground. Other Orcs start to close in.

I don’t have enough to fight all these Orcs. I don’t have enough for one more Orc. I pull my guns and start shooting. Bullets start to penetrate and ricochet. I use the chaos to start chasing after the boss Orc. He’s heading for the back door where they brought me in. Probably trying to get to his car, but I won’t let him.

Chapter 29 - Jason

The bus lets me off in a neighborhood that looks busy, yet disintegrating all at once. Shops look to be falling down and uncared for, but people are in and out with bags. It’s an old looking neighborhood for sure, still there’s life. The old man told me there’s a set of old rundown rowhouses. Apparently, the Orcs have taken over two of the buildings as their own. Orcs love communal living so when the old man said there were maybe a dozen, he could mean triple that. I guess I’ll have to find out when I get there.

Rundown is right, there’s busted windows and the concrete walls are cracked. Even with the damage to all of the buildings, I can tell which the Orcs have taken over. The front door has been boarded up to block entry so I make my way to the back alley. There two Orcs stand guard and eye me down. One wears a shirt stained with old blood that’s begun to turn brown. The other doesn’t wear a shirt despite the weather starting to chill with fall. Instead he displays his battle scars. Even after all these centuries, still a sign of pride for Orcs.

“What are you doing back here pink-skin,” an old racial slur for humans from the Orc with the scars. The only race Orcs hate more than us is Elves. Humans took their role in the hierarchy. We’re able to adjust to different civilizations easier, but we’re just as violent, deadly and twisted. On top of that we’re equally suited for combat and magic unlike the Orcs and Elves. We walk in both worlds.

“My skin is more brown than pink,” I try to open with a joke. Fighting a house full of Orcs isn’t on my list of things to do.

“Doesn’t matter, you’re still human filth,” the second Orc joins in.

“Hey, I’m just trying to get some information. There’re some businesses being extorted in the restaurant district. I need to talk to whoever is in charge.”

“I’m in charge,” the Orc with the blood stains smiles.

“No, I’m in charge,” the other joins in.

“Hey, I know neither of you pig-skinned bastards is in charge here, so where’s your boss,” Orcs respect threats, not jokes.

Shockingly, they don’t respect me. The first jams a fist right into my face. Alright, that’s the second unprotected punch from an Orc I’ve taken in two days. This one might hurt more than the other. It knocked me dizzy that’s for sure. I pick myself up from the ground and dust off my pants. Time to show them why humans replaced them in the hierarchy. We’re not as fast or strong, but we’re tenacious, and twisted. I slide on my brass knuckles and make my way back over there. They laugh about most humans staying down after one punch. Most humans didn’t spend their childhoods being trained to kill instead of learning fun games to play.

I don’t say anything, I just return the punch he gave to me. He doesn’t fall but he stumbles. The two know they’re going to have a fight on their hands with me. The three of begin to throw punch after punch. It doesn’t matter which Orc I hit, they’re both going to fall eventually. Even with magic, I’m feeling every one of these punches. I need to work on my enhancement magic, I’ve gotten sloppy since being excommunicated. Nobody forcing me to practice let me get sloppy, now I’m facing those consequences. The bonus I have is that they don’t expect me to be as fast or hit as hard. A few of their punches are hitting each other which works to my advantage.

It isn’t long before the Orc in the shirt falls to the ground. The Orc with the scars and I stare each other down and circle before squaring up again. He pounds his chest, a sign of respect when Orcs square off. I respond the same way, because he’s been kicking my ass. I go for a punch, and he locks me in a half nelson. He prefers to grapple. I wouldn’t usually mind grappling, but with an Orc? Not fun, especially not when I’m out of practice. I try to fight free, but it isn’t long before I feel my feet lifted off the ground. I hold my breath and tuck my head to my chest to brace for impact. This saves me from having all of the wind knocked out of my lungs. I take a deep breath and punch his knee as hard as I can. I had hoped to slow him down but luck is on my side and I feel his knee pop out of place. As he tries to stomp it back into place I get to my feet and begin landing blows to his face. Unable to backpedal with the bum knee he’s stuck taking punches. I’ve got this and I’m feeling confident. Punch after punch he’s starting to lose the strength to guard. I fake a hook and follow with an uppercut. He finally falls.

Before I can celebrate another Orc walks outside after hearing the commotion. He surveys the situation and calls out for help before he can fully assess the situation. I throw a punch as hard as I can and hope it knocks him out. Seems like luck has left me. I keep pounding on him until he pushes me back. I rush forward and ram a knee into his face and watch him drop before backup arrives. I jump at them and start fighting before they get a chance. I don’t know if there’s three or four or six. Doesn’t matter, they’re beating the crap out of me. I fall to the ground again and try to reach for my guns. That’s cut short when one stomps on my wrist and puts an end to that plan. I hear a car pull up and it almost seems like they start beating me harder.

I hear a door slam and some talking. I can’t make out what they’re saying, because my ears are ringing. They start to drag me inside, so I guess I’ll get to speak with the boss after all.

Chapter 28 - Jason

T.S.S.K. short for The Sparkling Shawl Kitchen. High elves always have to give things eccentric names for no reason and they can’t help but yell them out. It’s why their magic is so outdated. Cast a spell in quiet for once will you. I think I’m still mad at the guy who got me fired. I’ve only been able to get work under the table since then. Nothing continuous or that provided a decent income. But I’m getting by. Enough so that I can stop by and grab a meal. High Elves are so arrogant, but their food is great. They take the best parts from everyone. I guess that’s what happens when you spend hundreds of years trying to take over the world because you believe it’s you’ve been granted this land by your Elven gods. I really need to get over being fired. I’m turning into a racist.

I walk in and take my seat. I place my order on the little digital tablets they have at each table. In honor of my most recent job I’ll order the Dwarven Veal Stew. The Dwarves have surprisingly good food as well. Especially because they’re still insistent on living underground, or trying. That’s a little hard in the city. I heard their country doesn’t have separate cities. There’s one city that goes through a mountain range. If so, that’s crazy. I’d love to see it one day, but I don’t think I’ll be able to afford travel any time soon. I wonder if it’s comfortable for visitors, considering their height and all. They gave me a token on my last job, so I’ll be able to enter through their magic barricade if I do decide to go.

“Hey, where’s our fucking money,” a pair of Orcs burst through the door dressed in furs.

They look like they were still living in one of the Orcish housing communities until recently. Still dressed in furs, but they’ve picked up some city things. One has gold chains, stolen no doubt. Everyone loves gold. History tells us gold powder was used for currency in the past. Then it was gold coins, then dollars backed by gold. Still, gold is a symbol of wealth in any fashion. Orcs don’t use gold for jewelry beyond piercings in my experience. Usually they adorn their weapons with it. They stole these chains from someone and they’re clearly running some kind of extortion business here.

I let them yell back and forth with the owners for a while. They smash up a table, I let it stand. I’m hoping they can solve their own problems. I don’t want anything to do with it. I almost get involved when they smack the old man who works the register and points out pictures of all the famous elves on the wall. But he doesn’t go down, so I don’t get involved. The lady who cooks tries to beat one of the elves with a soup spoon and he smacks her. Now I have to get involved, because I’m not getting my stew today.

“Hey, they don’t have the money. Just leave, you can’t get money from them that they don’t have,” I say looking into the eyes of one of the Orcs.

I’m so glad evolution changed Orcs. History books say they used to be over seven feet tall and had more muscle than a horse. These guys, closer to my height and don’t have the same kind of muscle mass I do. Orc physiology means their bones are a little stronger. They hit a little harder and take more hits. Nothing my magic can’t even out if it comes to blows.

I don’t get to wonder long, while I’m staring down the first Orc the second punches me in the gut. I’m glad he didn’t go for the face because he would have knocked out a tooth for real. I try to get the magic up in time, but I’m not good with magic as it is. I only have talent for enhancement magic as it is, and I can’t get that going when I’m trying to hold onto consciousness. Still, I’m not a bitch. I pull my knife from its sheath and swing upwards trying to dissect one of the orcs. They jump back to dodge the knife that gives me some space and enough time to catch my breath.

With my enhancement magic up now, these Orcs are screwed. I rush the first and place a forearm in his neck before throwing punch after punch in his face until he’s pinned on the wall. The second grabs me by the neck. I’m able to headbutt the first in the process of breaking free. It still hurts like hell, but I always wanted to know about headbutting Orcs. The lady from the kitchen is yelling again. Perfect distraction. I’m able to stab the Orc who previously held me in a chokehold. He’s young, he panics when he sees his blood. An experienced Orc would laugh at the pain an rejoice in the spilling of blood. He’s out of commission. The Orc I just headbutted tries to wrestle me to the ground by lunging at my feet. I fall with my full body weight on the back of his shoulder blades. When he releases my legs I’m able to lift him up and toss him back down. Now he’s the winded one.

The bleeding Orc runs the moment I turn to him. His friend isn’t far behind him. The woman checks on her husband and they embrace. I take my seat, hoping they’ll still deliver me some food. I’m not exactly lucky. The old man comes to sit across from me.

“You, I can tell by the way you fight, you’ve done this before. You’ve bee trained. I saw your magic aura as well. I would like to hire you,” the old man starts without so much as a thank you.

“You can’t pay them, I don’t think you can afford me.”

“You’re right, I can’t pay you much. But, I can promise you free food. This whole neighborhood is under their foot. They’re extorting us all for money. If we don’t pay they tear up our shops or rough up our customers. People have stopped coming here. If they were out of the way, business would pick back up. I can offer you two free meals each day for a year,” the man pleads with sincerity.

“Two free meals a day? For a month,” I could save a lot of money if they were providing my food.

“Yes, as long as you can get them to leave us alone.”

“I don’t know. How many are there?”

“There can’t be more than a dozen.”

“So you want me to kill a dozen Orcs? Why don’t you call some other elves?”

“Because the Dark Elves aren’t trustworthy and asking High Elves for help is disgraceful,” the old couple must be Wood Elves.

“I don’t know about this.”

“A year, free food for a year. Three meals, but I get to pick what they are and I’ll speak with the other shop owners about getting you some cash,” he ups the payment without me asking.

“How long have they been extorting you all?”

“Always, but recently some younger Orcs took over, and they’re greedy.”

“Alright, do you know where they stay?”

Chapter 27 - Jason

The elevator is busted again, I guess I’m going to be taking the stairs. I used to have no problem with stairs. Now, it seems like there’s no end to them. Maybe it’s because everything is higher up in the city. We just build out at the temple. People in the city just build higher and higher as if they’re trying to reach the heavens by some miracle. I also haven’t been training like I should have. Finding work is hard here. Regular jobs, sure, they’re everywhere. But everyone wants someone with fifteen years of experience to mop the floors. Who does that? On top of that, there’s barely enough pay to keep the lights on and the rent paid.

In fact, the orange note on my door tells me I haven’t been keeping the rent paid. I’ve got two weeks to get caught up on my rent or I’m getting evicted. Great. I thought the temple gave me a lot of money to get started with. Turns out, things cost a lot more here in the city. People here are just so damn greedy. Everything revolves around money. The money I started with only lasted a few months. I had to change my diet and everything. Eating lower quality food is probably why I never have the energy to get through the day anymore. Even when I try to sleep, it’s hard. I just toss and turn. There’s so much…noise. Different noise than the temple. Everything just pisses me off now.

I flick a roach from my couch and take a seat. Looking at my checkbook I don’t have enough to cover the rent. I could get another job, but by the time I got paid, it would be too late. I’ve always got contract work to fall back on. It’s what I would rather be doing, but I can’t seem to find any jobs. There’s a bar where they post things on the bulletin board, but other than that, I haven’t figured out a reliable way to find work. That’s something I probably should have asked about before I came here. The temple never had any shortage of work, or money. On top of top of that, there’s way more competition in the market. I don’t know how when most of the humans around here can’t even see the supernatural elements of our world. Ridiculous. I just don’t have the connections I need to make it out here. Now I see why people said excommunication is a punishment worse than death.

“You cheating whore can you go a day without putting some random dick down your throat,” My name Chuck is yelling at his wife again. They’re always going at it. I’ve met werewolves less fierce.

“Maybe if you could actually get it up, I wouldn’t have to,” Debbie is fighting back.

I’m just going to wait for them to finish. Eventually he’ll just get mad and leave. Things are starting to quiet down already. I heard a loud thud and some furniture scrapping the floor. I guess he doesn’t want to leave today. Well, this is my problem now. I make my way next door and knock on the door. There’s still screaming going on. Mrs. Gonzales looks out the door. I wave to her and she nods her head approvingly. I’m not sure what she thinks I’m going to do but if she had any clue she probably would think I’m a monster.

“What the fuck do you want? You silent psycho,” Chuck answers the door slightly. I still catch a glimpse of Debbie laying on the floor and crying.

“I need you to stop putting your hands on your wife.”

“What are you going to do? Call the cops. She’s drunk, they’ll say she fell,” not even enough sense to deny it.

“Chuck, stop beating your wife, or I’m going to beat you.”

“Oh really tough guy,” Chuck steps out of the apartment.

“Yeah, really.”

Chuck throws a sucker punch that lands right on my cheek. I saw it coming. I just let it land. I don’t even try to use my magic to make it painless. I just needed to feel something. Something familiar. Pain, even if it is light. I needed to make sure I was still alive. It doesn’t bring the same adrenaline that fighting vampires does, nor is the pain similar. But, I feel it. I let him throw a few more punches before I’m ready to strike.

The next punch he throws I take his fist in my hand. He throws a punch with his other hand. This time I use control of his arm to swing him around s he misses. I throw a headbutt directly to the center of his face. The fleshy parts, nose and lips. He screams out in pain. Not much different than how Debbie was screaming a few minutes ago. I let his arm go and he falls to his knees cupping his face. I give him one final kick to the chest to get the point across.

“Hey, what in the hell is going on here,” Paul the building manager yells out, out of breath from the stairs.

“Mr. Chuck is drinking too much and fell up the stairs. Mr. Jason is helping him. If only the elevator would move,” Mrs. Gonzales runs interference for me. She must have witnessed the whole thing.

“That’s not what happened,” Chuck starts.

“Oh no baby, were you drinking again,” Debbie pulls Chuck into their apartment.

“Just keep it down up here,” Paul says making his way back down the stairs.

Back in my apartment, after a shower, I’m digging through the fridge to see what I can eat for dinner. Not a lot of options here. An slowly rotting apple, some pale lettuce. Delicious. I hear a knock at the door and make my way over. Mrs. Gonzales is there with a huge pan.

“Please, I brought you dinner,” she offers me the pan.

“Thank you, but I couldn’t take that.”

“You are a good man. A rough man, and a scary man. But good man. Kind of like my husband, take it,” her broken English is suddenly perfect. A wonderful actress if I’ve ever seen one.

Chapter 26 - Jason

“You didn’t ask me if I wanted my sandwich toasted,” the High Elf spoke as a moved down the sandwich line

“Do you really want your tuna sandwich toasted,” I pause before adding vegetables.

“Manners Jason,” I hear my Greg call from the back room.

“What would you like on your sandwich?”

“Lettuce, tomato, onions, green peppers, red peppers, olives, a drizzle of olive oil,” the Elf launches into a list.

“Hey, can you slow down. I didn’t catch anything after onions.”

“Oh my goodness, if you can’t do the job bring me someone else, how hard can it be to make a sandwich,” he tosses his arms in the air.

“Do you want to come make it?”

“So you want me to do your job for you as well.”

“Do you need help out there,” Greg calls again.

“No Greg, I’ve got it all taken care of,” I yell back, a little angrier than I thought.

“Do you have it,” he continues.

“How about you just tell me what you want then shut the fuck up,” I ask my own questions now.

“Do not for a second think you can talk to me like that. And you put too much lettuce on the sandwich.”

“That’ll be $7.28 sir,” I wrap his sandwich and move to the register.

“You expect me to pay for this,” he takes the sandwich and walks away.

“You’re going to pay,” I jump the counter and cut him off before the exit.

“Jason, what’s going on,” Greg calls from the back again.

“Yep, not a problem,” I call back.

“Oh there’s a problem,” the elf slaps his sandwich across my face.

Greg is a nice guy. He gave me this job, and I don’t have any real work experience. Sure, I can kill a vampire, I can declaw a werewolf, go toe to toe with anything that goes bump in the night. Greg is one of the humans blessed that he can’t see supernatural things, so I couldn’t tell him what I used to do. I make sandwiches now. I made sandwiches because I’m about to get fired. I realized that when Tuna started to run down my face and drip on the floor.

The Elf laughed as if he had just heard the funniest joke in the world. The laughed ceased the moment I wrapped my hand around his throat. I didn’t need any of my enhancement magic to lift him off his feet with the single arm. He tried to cast a spell, the words were caught in his throat. High Elves, so stuck on spells with words and needing to broadcast everything to the world. There was nothing he could do to me without speaking. He was too frail to fight back, words were his only weapon. Slowly his snowy white skin started to turn to a blue. I release him and let him drop to the floor.

“No, Jason you can’t do this, I have to let you go,” Greg must have come from the back and saw it all.

“I understand Greg, thank you for the opportunity. I’m just going to grab my stuff and I’ll be gone,” I fold my apron and hand it to Greg.

I grab my bag, not much is in there. My transportation pass, keys to my apartment. A prepaid phone in case of emergencies. I used to carry my weapons, but it was hard getting around the city with them. I head back out and Greg stops me before I can leave. He’s holding a bag.

“Hey, take this with you. I know you loved the meatball sub,” Greg says. I do, the Eremites rarely let us have meat.

“Thank you,” I take the sub and as Greg gives me a big hug.

“Jason, I don’t know what you were doing before this. But, sandwich making isn’t for you. I don’t even think you like people. You’re hard headed and hot headed at the same time. But, you’re a good person and I wish you nothing but success,” Greg is a good man, too good for this world.

I really need to get a jacket, winter is coming, and I haven’t bought one yet. Just dressing in layers. Not that I have many layers. I don’t have many clothes because the eremites said it was a vanity. Turns out, just about everyone I’ve met in the last six months changes clothes every day. They probably should have mentioned that. There’s a lot they didn’t mention, but I can’t say I gave them the chance.

I swipe my pass and hop on the bus, no empty seats so I stand across from a young Dark Elf. I thought she smelled of cigarettes, but that wasn’t the case. She’s young, probably still rebellious. Tensions between Dark Elves and High Elves are starting to peak. I guess even elves have race problems. Yeah, she did something, there’s burns at the bottom of her sleeves. Not my problem.

“Hey, did you get into some trouble. I notice the scorch marks,” I ask the girl. Maybe it is my problem.

“Mind your fucking business you pervert,” she shoots back. Okay, it isn’t my problem.

Chapter 25 - Kaiden

Some Orcs hired me to clean their home for them. I didn’t really want to but they promised they would pay me and it got me to the city. The money they give me isn’t much, but I can save it and look for Jason. Am I racist if I don’t like Orcs? I’m sure there are some pretty cool ones, but these guys aren’t cool at all. They’ll spill things just for me to clean up, I have to beg to receive my pay at the end of the week and they make me sleep in the basement of the building. I didn’t have anywhere else to go so I didn’t really have any choice but to come work for them.

I heard them talking on the way here from the bus station. They just want a human housekeeper. From what I heard it shows that they’re making a lot of money. I guess they’re supposed to be like some kind of mob or mafia. But they aren’t anything like the movies. All they do is yell at each other and fight. They just wanted someone to clean up all the blood. I got pretty good at getting out blood stains back at the temple so it isn’t a big deal. But they could at least try to go a day without beating each other up. It isn’t that hard not to hit people first.

“Get back to work. These floors should be clean enough to die on,” one of the orcs hollers out tracking bloody footprints over a section of the floor I had just cleaned.

“I was just taking a break. These fumes are strong.”

I get back to work by scrubbing the footprints he had just left behind. I have to say, for a house with a bunch of barefoot and angry orcs. An Orc with shoes walks through on the way to the boss' office. He looks mad, really mad. But nobody is bothering to stop him. These guys love to fight, now all of a sudden, they’re scared to fight because he brought shoes to a toe stomping contest? There has to be something going on here, and I kind of want to know. They might really be up to something here.

I grab my bucket and mop and move to the next room. There I begin to clean the floor near the door. I get close enough that I can hear what is being said inside the office.

“Dad is dying from your actions. You lied and twisted it everything you told him from the day your were blessed with life. Now you’re just the next Orc running around trying to play mob boss. He’s tried to explain to the chief how you’re working hard like a good Orc should but you’re not. You’re just here drinking, fucking and fighting your life away. Taking money from shop owners who can’t afford it. We used to work the docs together. I bought a shop, and you turned into a crook. You’ve brought shame to our family,” I don’t recognize that voice. Probably the Orc with the shoes from earlier.

“You’ve grown soft brother. You work a job, try to live amongst the humans and don’t cause any problems. We’re still living the way Orcs have for centuries. We take what we want. The weak shall die and the strong shall thrive. That’s how it has always been,” I recognize that as the boss talking.

“Shut this down. Extortion is never how the Orcs made a living. Yes, the strong will thrive and the weak will die, but this. This is just wrong.”

“Brother, if you want me to shut it down. Just beat me in a fight? Don’t be a goblin, take a swing,” the boss laughs at him.

There’s a long pause before the Orc in the shoes walks out, slamming the door behind him. Well, that didn’t go how he planned. I go back to mopping the floors. That was my bit of drama for the day I guess. They don’t let me watch TV with them, so I have to get it when I can. It sounds like fireworks are going off downstairs. I’m going to need to clean that up.

I hear an Orc scream. That might be a gun. I guess I’m getting all kinds of excitement today. I’ve probably stayed with these Orcs too long. They don’t pay me much and I have to buy my own food. I can make it better on the streets. I’m going to grab my stuff and get out of here. I’ll use the back staircase so I can avoid whatever is going on out there. The gun shots are joined in by the sounds of battle axes and hammers. I make my way to the basement and can still hear the scuffle up top. The gun shots have stopped but I can still hear them fighting.

I slip on my jacket and grab my backpack with the letters and goop. I pick up the stone and it is ice cold, colder than I’ve ever felt it. I can’t hold it for long and drop it. The stone shatters like ice on the ground, so I guess I can’t take that with me. Doesn’t matter, I found my way to the city. I can find Jason from here.

The building shakes and there’s a huge crash. Maybe I should hold up for now. Something big is up there, and I don’t want any parts of that. As soon as they stop fighting out there, I’m going to take off. I drag an empty crate to the basement window. As soon as things settle down upstairs, I’m getting out of here.

Chapter 24 - Kaiden

I’ve been walking for a day. I think it was a day. I haven’t exactly been able to sleep here on the side of the road. Every now and then I’ll find a stone I can rest against. But there’s animals and other stuff out here that can kill me. For now, I just need to keep going. Nobody has come for me yet. That doesn’t mean they won’t. Someone knew I was escaping. If they get caught they might tell the police or something. What if they call the army? Oh man, I can be in some real trouble. Wait, do they even have police? Get it together Kaiden. You can sleep later. For now, don’t go crazy. Just keep walking.

I finish the last of the snacks that were in the bag. There’s nothing left but a couple of bottles of green slimy liquid and some letters. One of them is for me. The other is for Jason. Woah, a letter for Jason. That means the person knew I was looking for Jason. It was Mrs. Dalia. She had to be the one who helped me. What’s up with the green stuff? The letters probably have an answer but can I read these without Jason? There’s two. Oh, my stomach is still growling. Well sorry buddy, there’s nothing for us to eat right now. We could probably drink the green stuff, but it might kill us so be quiet for now.

Oh look, it’s night again. Maybe I didn’t consider how long it would take to walk to this bus station. I knew it was half way there. But halfway is a long way. I decided I’d hitchhike with the first car I saw. But this day two. Day three? I don’t know. I haven’t seen a single car yet. This is crazy. Maybe I should go back and steal a car. What if I’m close and I go all the way back, and really, I just walk further for no reason. I can’t even drive. I hope this place is close. Hey, if the sun is a star, why doesn’t it come out at night with the other stars? The sun thinks it’s so special. Well it’s not. Stupid sun thinking it can be the star of the show.

That’s it that’s the station. Am I seeing things? No that’s it. I’ve got the strength to run now. My stomach is growling and I’m sure my feet have blisters but it doesn’t matter. The bus station means I just need to catch a bus to the city and I can find Jason. This is great, I really made it. I should have never doubted you Kaiden. Why are you doing third person? I should have never doubted me. You hear that Sun? Us normal people can do stuff too.

Rice Riglies, Jabber’s Cups, Snipsnaps and Tiftofs, this vending machine has it all. They’ve even got Cheeselocks. I didn’t know they still made those. Stomach, relax. The solution to our starvation has come in the form of this vending machine. No, I don’t have any money in my pockets. Let me check the backpack. No money here either. Aww man, this sucks. I finally found food and I don’t even have the money to get anything to eat.

“Hey, you hungry kid,” a scrawny guy with green eyes and slightly pointed ears stops me.

“Yeah, I haven’t eaten in a few days.”

“Well, I don’t have anymore cash, but you can have the rest of these Goblin Bites,” he offers me the bag.

“Thank you, if we ever meet again, I’ll pay you back,” I grab the bag and start to eat.

He laughs and walks towards a bus heading in the direction I just came from. If the classes back at the temple were right, he might be some kind of Orc or Goblin. They didn’t make much distinction. More like they’re different breeds of the same species or something like dogs. Wow, that was racist. I don’t know but he just saved me from dying. These Goblin Bites aren’t half bad. He’s probably a Goblin since he was eating Goblin Bites. 

I head into the bathroom, it smells worse than any bathroom I’ve ever been in. Still, it has hot water, I can use the soap and paper towels to clean myself up a little. I haven’t seen anyone other than the Goblin at this station so I don’t hesitate to clean everything. It might have been me stinking and not the bathroom. I still don’t feel completely clean, but I do feel better.

I pick out a bench and stretch across it. Using the backpack as a pillow I try to get comfortable. I can either walk the other half way or I can wait and hope the bus driver has pity on me and just give me a ride. Bus drivers are usually pretty good people and that’s a long walk.