Takeout



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Grula scratched her butt. It was hot, she thought sullenly. Too hot. And she was starving. She had asked another scout to steal some food and cider hours ago from a nearby humie camp, and the stupid orc hadn't returned. It was a dangerous time for an orc to be out hunting and they were only doing it whenever they absolutely had to eat.

Turning to glance back down the path for what seemed to be the hundredth time, she heard a rustling. Finally! The orc scout she'd been waiting for burst through the bushes, panting frantically.

"Where my food? Where my drink?" she demanded gruffly, her throat parched from the dry heat.

The other orc looked momentarily confused. "No food! Humies chase then bonk then humies dead!" He pointed back the way he came. "Dere ledder agh rock tingy flyin agh bonk agh bonk, agh--" he gestured wildly and lurched to the side, throwing himself unceremoniously to the ground. "Humies get bonked, fall off four-legs!"

Grula tried to forget her thirst for a moment. "Ledder? Rocks? Who have ledder agh rocks?"

The scout stood clumsily, not bothering to wipe off the dirt that still covered him. "Nub know. Grendul thought it long way killers, but long way killers nub have rock. This different. Not kill, just bonk humie off four-legs. Kill come after but no see what kill." He suddenly stopped and looked around. "Tired. Need drink." He ducked as Grula threw her empty cup at him and growled.

Female orcs rarely fought, but Grula was an exception. Her cooking had been so bad as to have her forbidden from even touching the cookpots, and her smell was, to put it delicately, too much like flowers and spice to have a chance at finding a mate within the orc fort. Scouting worked fine for her... she had few friends, and spent most of her time alone, hidden. Watching. Although there hadn't been much to watch until recently, when every orc scout had been ordered to keep their eyes open for something. What that something was, they didn't know. They just knew that there was something out there, and that it wasn't friendly.

In the distance she heard the shouting of more humies in battle and coming her way on horseback quickly. Picking up the cup she had thrown at the other scout, she turned around and whacked him on the back of the head with it. “Hide! Humies come!” They dove into the bushes and waited for the battle to drift into view.

As they listened to the sounds of the fighting humies it was obvious that they were losing against whatever was in combat with them. Screams ripped through the air and fewer humies could be heard even though the battle was moving closer and closer.

From the bushes across the clearing a male on a four-legs burst through the foliage, panic twisting his face. Grula considered jumping out to meet him but a slight humming sound caught her attention and she hesitated. From behind the humie a blur shot out of the trees and slammed around his neck, knocking him to the ground. His horse, already galloping at full speed, continued running into the distance.

She sat in silence, waiting as the humie slowly got up, obviously dazed from his fall. Whatever did that to the humie, she didn’t want to meet. Thankfully, the other orcs hidden in the bushes had the same idea. Moments went by and nothing came from the bushes to finish off the male. Whatever had attacked was gone now. He stood and, thinking himself to be alone, pulled a jug from his pack and took a long draw of cider.

“Him have drink!” the orc beside Grula breathed as he stared at the jug as if hypnotized. “No see food.”

Finally Grula leaned over to her companion in the bushes. “He fit in pot?” she whispered.

“Chopper make him fit!” he whispered back excitedly.

And that night, the orcs feasted.



From the Britannia News Network - The Journal of Ultima Online, June 14th, 2001.