The room was kept dark, in order to keep him quiet.
Shutters were closed upon bars of iron across the windows, Their opaque glass painted to a dark grey. Two sets of thick black drapes hung on each of the windowsills. There was a smooth, thin frost of grey dust upon them. They hadn’t been disturbed in years Each day the light attempted to shimmer it’s way in. Then it would try sneaking. Then smoothly, stealthily infiltrating. Finally in a rage it would try for an all out frontal assault. Each day the light would limp off licking it’s wounds having failed once again to gain entry into the old man’s room.
People wanted him to stay calm. That is all they want of me now, he thought to himself. They used to ask the Wide Earth of me but now they just want me to stay calm, he could still remember that much…kind of…sort of…just a bit.
His life came to him in flashes now. Kneeling on a battlefield while a priest placed something round upon his head. Armed and armored men cheering wildly when the priest did so. That one must be important because my mind keeps orbiting back to it, he thought to himself.
Other images came and went. He remembered forcing himself laugh louder and longer then anyone else in the big hall, over a meager and scant meal, pretending it was the best and finest of repasts when the kingdom was in famine. He wasn’t so sure about that recollection. There was more then one memory like that. Holding his wife while she cried and cried because she had now delivered their sixth living daughter and for the kingdom’s sake she would have to try again.
Why did the kingdom matter so damn much?
Why had he given up so much for it? He was only a Career Captain. Wasn’t he? Why did the kingdom want so much from him? He was a nobody… Wasn’t he?
And why the screaming buggering blue monkey fuck did that hatchet faced old bitch keep sobbing in the corner? He didn’t know her from the White Christ. It wouldn’t matter if he asked who she was, she would tell him something profoundly stupid bullshit. He could remember that clearly. That was something.
After she gave him some wine to drink, (which was deeply appreciated, he knew it had been along time since that was allowed), she started telling him what she had just done was for the good of the kingdom. Well good for her! But why does she have to keep crying in my damn bedroom? It’s bothering me. They’re supposed to be keeping me quiet and she’s about to give a me a fucking stroke!
If strange women were going to be sitting in corners crying over him, he preferred the MILF brunette with the arching eyebrows and nice big tits. She cried a lot too and gave him a different line of bullshit about being his wife. She was lying but he could live with that because of the aforementioned magnificent tits.
Ronald thought to himself. It was tempting to let the strange MILF play at being his wife. That would be some serious fun. He felt his heart skip a beat. And then two beats.
Okay maybe not. There was an upward limit to fun these days, apparently. It sucked but it wasn’t like she was his real wife anyway. That was another very distinct memory, Jayne laying in bed one night and telling him that she forgave him for all of the camp follower girls she knew he had lain with when he was deployed. Except that he bloody well hadn’t! A stream of missed opportunities seemed to flood into in his mind at that prompt. And then a stream of fulfilled opportunities after he was green lit. The brunette MILF really came to mind there. Okay pretty sure I have seen her naked… a lot. Was there something to that wife thing?
No of course not. More bullshit. His wife was his sweet Jayne.
Where the hell was Jayne? He missed her.
Quite a lot really. More then he should. He had just seen her…
No. Not this morning. That had been the old hag again. Still damned sitting in his room for no good reason!
“Who the fuck are you?” He roared at the hag.
“It’s Perseverance, Father,” she said dully. As if she was used to his rages. He didn’t like the idea of his rages having so little effect on anyone. Most cowered in abject terror before them. Why didn’t she?
Wait…was she repeating herself? Hadn’t she just said that? He thought she had. Hadn’t she? It didn’t matter matter.
She was lying. Persey was his beautiful little…well his cute little imp, not this worn out old witch.
The old man collapsed back on to his pillows short of breath from yelling. His heart was starting to pound a little too hard in his chest and his breath became quite a bit more short. He didn’t remember it being like this..ever. He was quite sure of that. His great heart had always had a steady predictable rhythm. Not like now. The way it was pounding away at odd intervals now…it left him as frightened as…he could barely remember a time that anything did frighten him this much. Not since he was little boy sitting in his bed in the dark.
“I’m sorry father,” he heard the strange crone say one final time. “I had to do this.”
Skull Barer Arena was not misspelled.
It’s name was an accurate description of a function that frequently took place within it. The Arena had been a gift by the Fallen One to his Orcs.
It was tall and threatening. The stone it was hacked from was the rare dull red marble of Ghaziadara, imported at great expense, (okay, okay not particularly great expense, the Fallen One was a wizard after all). Statues of Orc and Dark Elf heroes lined the plinths on every one of its seven stories, encircling each level. The stone work was blunt, jagged and strong. Eleven massive fire pits crowned the top ring of the structure. Fires once stoked with cheap coal would belch columns of thick black smoke high into the air, blotting out the sun and turning the sky above into a hellish orange-red.
Or at least they used to. The Ministry of Environment had shut that part down in abject horror years ago. Now the eleven fire pits supported gigantic statues of hyper-obese women. These utterly crude blobs of stone all featured `a big pear shaped lump with two smaller round lumps sprouting from the top of the pear. They had been erected by the Royal Endowment of the Arts and…the Orcs had been informed…were all representations of the Earth Mother whom all man-(and indeed orc)-kind had worshiped before the corrupting influence of the White Christ had entered the world.
The Orcs were pretty damn sure they had never worshiped anything like that but they were now stuck with the damn things.
At least temporarily.
Due to their weight, the statues were creating cracks and faults throughout the continuous wall of the structure. Skull Barer Arena would sooner or later collapse under the weight of the Earth Goddesses. The Orcs weren’t certain whether this was deliberate planning on the part the establishment or not. It seemed a little too clever for them and yet there was no doubt at all that the Columbian’s hated their Arena so much they would even risk experimenting with intelligent thought in an effort to destroy both it and what it stood for.
No, not the massive gladiatorial games that were once held there in the Fallen One’s day. The Fallen One’s Games were legendary events of days long carnage. Beginning with the Amusing Executions in the mornings, then progressing to Ritual Duels followed by the Clan Duels in the afternoons. Finally climaxing in the Tribal War Games that would leave hundreds dead. The Columbianans would have happily encouraged the orcs to keep doing all of that and congratulated themselves for being quite culturally sensitive as well as delightfully inclusive for having done so.
But no, these days the Orcs used the Arena for Glodge Ball and Stock Coach racing. The Columbianan aristocracy loathed and detested both. The Orcs were a little confused by that because there was little doubt that way more people were killed in those events then had ever died in the century of long slaughter of the Fallen One’s Games.
Glodge Ball was particularly Inclusive from that standpoint, as there weren’t many other games on Wide Earth where you could legally kill and devour an opposing team member. Yet the elites clearly hated the orc’s national passtime. They tried to encourage the orcs to play Mortianan Rules Glodge Ball which didn’t allow for physical contact…that was officially true (although the Mortianans would have been shocked as hell to hear it). But it was certainly true of the way Columbians played it. The elites viewed it as bad form if you actually tried to win a game and meticulously refused to keep score. Score keeping being viewed as a horrendous micro-aggression.
So far, the technical precision required by Mortianan Rules Glodge Ball had somehow failed to stir the passion of orc tribes quite like their own blood soaked version of the game.
But today however the Arena was playing host to a new horror that was beyond anything the walls of the colosseum had ever seen. The battle scarred legionnaires of the orc cohorts now gathered within it, were doomed and they had entered the Arena knowing they were doomed.
The time of Sensitivity Training had begun.
Kevo-Grod’s boredom was beyond desperate at this point. He was starting to wonder if this was some new kind of illegal medical experimentation they were trying out on the orcs again. Okay, not so much wondering as hoping. At least there would have been the slightest damned point to this nightmare.
The required sensitivity training on Human Privilege was now into it’s seventh hour but it felt like it’s seventh year.
The trainer was human but was dressed as a Swamp Elf and had introduced himself as Carl Glasscok. After the orcs were done laughing he began to take his prolonged revenge. “Again this brings us to the secondary concepts of Human Privilege meaning, those privileges of…” Glasscock began to sadistically tick off points on his chart and then stopped. “…Follow along please!” He ordered crisply.
There was a massive shuffling of papers from the well of the Arena as the orcs and Dark Elves dredged in hopeless resignation through their study packets.
Pretty damn unspoken in my case. Grod thought. Being a human has never benefited me in slightest bit. What with my not glutching being one!
Yes, I’m just rolling in the loot as a Banner Sergeant. And how, may this simple baccalaureate owner ask, do you define just enrichment? Enrichment comes in only three amounts; not enough, too much and fuck you. There has never been an amount called, just right.
“Spared Privileges (meaning spared injustices)”
Oh thank the Fallen One! Grod finally wins at something in life! I’ve never been spared a single injustice that I can think of. You can add being forced to attend this mass brainwashing session to the list.
Spared Privilege equals proving a negative, Grod snarled to himself. And only Swamp Elf Studies majors with a 1.5 GPA have ever been able to manage that.
“And finally those Privileges not related to Injustice”
Which would be the rest of my entire glutching life!
“How much longer?” Grod heard the plaintive cry of another orc behind him.
It was going badly all around him. This was worse then the assault on Iron Hammer Mountain. Career Hundred-Captain G’Jenn-Marow had lashed himself to his chair, determined to keep his head held high, throughout this ordeal. But poor young Corporal Kreen-Taro was down, his head lolling bonelessly from side to side helplessly. The boy had had such promise Grod thought sadly.
Hoarde-Brigader Rauoo had had more foresight then the others. An hour into this nightmare, an aide de campe had hustled into the coliseum apparently bearing News of Vital Importance. Rauoo had risen with an appropriately grave look on his face, obviously on some Mission of Critical Urgency and quickly charged out of this Social Justice Theater of Torment.
You’re not fooling anyone, sir but RHIP, Grod thought grimly to himself.
Kevo-Grod was just barely holding on himself but others weren’t doing nearly as well. The moans of lost despair all around him were heartbreaking.
If there was some point to to this, it wouldn’t be so bad. Grod thought and then corrected himself. Okay it would be this bad but the pointlessness does bother me. The Columbianans really do not know why they are doing this. There is potentially some Machiavellian advantage to forcing people to repeat a lie and then publicly defend that lie. Really put some work into propping up the lie and you will value the lie because it cost you something to enforce it.
That would make a little sense.
But the current team of bitch-monkeys running the Ministry of Defense aren’t capable of that kind of in depth thinking. Everything is about feelz with them.
G’Jenn muttered between waves of boredom, “And this glutching asshole is on a 400K annual contract from the MOD to spread this bullshit.”
Ah, Grod thought to himself in mild satisfaction. I guess there is a point to this after all.
He then added to himself, I am in the wrong business.
“Next, we will examine in detail” the speaker foreshadowed with cruel menace, “these concepts. Beginning with the privilege of Humaness Unspoken.” The speaker smirked as he ran a hand delicately across his sleek and intricately constructed man-bun.
A groan broke from Grod’s lips and was joined by a chorus of fifty thousand voices, sweeping around the Arena as the shitstorm of human White Guilt continued to rain down on the innocent (more or less) orcs of the legions. Who had never been human or particularly white.
“The concept of Humaness unspoken was first introduced by…um…professor Cowden-Alberts at the… um… University of…” Kevo-Grod looked up in interest. The trainer was faltering rather badly. And then Grod saw that the stocky, gravel faced form of Horde-Brigadier Rauoo had mounted the stage and was stalking toward the trainer purposefully.
The Carl Glascock gathered himself enough to scowl petulantly. “Is there something, I can help you with General?” He sneered because he had no idea how not to.
“No,” Rauoo bitchslapped him dismissively as he stepped up to the Vocoenhancer. “Now, shut the fuck up.”
Ten legions of orcs leapt instantly to their feet. All caste distinctions between Dark Elf and orc ranks for once were completely forgotten in their joy. Fifty thousand fists pumped into the air and fifty thousand voices joined as one in a roar of triumph. The cry of, “RAUOO! RAUOO! RAUOO!” Thundered into the night sky.
Carl Glasscok fell to the stage floor wide eyed in terror, blood oozing from his split lip and his man-bun in complete disarray. He scuttled in horror from the stage.
“Quiet assholes!” Rauoo roared back at the legions… not without affection
Then Rauoo in full view of the Arena drew his tomahawk and then reversed the grip so that he was holding it by the ax-head. He raised the handle of his weapon ritually over his head.
“Uh-oh,” Grod muttered worriedly.
The ten banners of the legions now gathered dipped as one at his signal and black ribbons were attached to them before they rose again.
Corporal Kreen-Taro, shook his head still recovering from the ordeal he had barely survived. “Banner?” He asked Banner-Sergeant Kevo-Grod, “what’s going on?”
“Somebody just died.”