The Child of the Storm


Rai Kamishiro

Though I've been in many battles, and my hands have been stained numerous times with the blood of both villains and innocents, this may truly be the bloodiest war yet that I've seen.

I expressed that sentiment to Kaiv, but the ax swinger simply shrugged.

"You know better 'n me the terrible acts of men, Rhapsody."

"Better than I, Kaiv. You're grammar is getting better, but you're still slipping up."

"Leave off Dee" Kaiv grumbled in annoyance. "Y'know why my grammar's shot t' hell."

We had been working on his grammar for three summers now, and he rarely slid back to the Orcish use of when he was badly upset.

I could see the anger in the half-orc's two-tone eyes as he viewed the remnants of the massacre, the headless bodies that stained the ground with red, as the perished now nourished the ground with their lifeblood.

Rain began to fall, seeping into the red, open wounds of the human's necks, all but pulsing in their mockery of life, the pink patterns left by the water softening the color in the grass, giving the sick scene a pastel shade.

The testament of the current lord Kaiv and I currently served: Hellia the Bloody. The Bitch Queen certainly stood up to her name, having the current village that was unable to pay her tax butchered.

The old ones, the females, and all the little girls stared balefully down at us with lifeless eyes, theirs heads enlightening to all on top of the pikes, high enough away from the battlefield.

I saw Kaiv turn away, his green toned skin looking sicklier than usual. I could see other soldiers throwing up in the grass, the battle hardened veterans who had fought for many years, like me.

I took a swig from my water pouch, then tossed it at Kaiv. I didn't need him throwing up and being hauled away like the idiots who didn't even have the brains to be sick in private, and were dragged elsewhere even as I swallowed my bitter tea.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kaiv drink, then slouch against the rock I was sitting on. I began to wipe the blood off my sword with a well-used rag.

Of all the villagers, she spared the men. Now here was the perilous part about the Bitch Queen; the men were being sent to her to become part of her personal harem. They were most likely to be locked up and toyed with, then finally killed when they either displeased her, became ugly, or she simply got bored with them.

There were few in our army who rebelled against her though.

Hellia had a bad habit of picking off the bonnie boys in our army and hauling off with them if we failed to do a number of things, mostly deliver her the pretty boys from a village, or for having a squeamish stomach.

"Watch it boy, don't let the Bitch Queen or her troops catch you looking like that."

Kaiv scoffed in an attempt at self-mockery. "How are they supposed to know? Far as I know they've never seen a freak like me before. Can they tell if I'm sick or not?"

He saw the scowl on my face, I guess, and ducked to avoid my fist.

"Stupid boy! The Bitch Queen find out you're part elfin or that you have a face that's not much like other monsters, she'll haul your Orkish ass out to her castle faster than she kills off her pets."

Kaiv stared at me, bi-colored eyes sobering down. At least it got his mind off the corpses.

The boy was too damn sensitive for his own good sometimes, you'd think that green hide of his would give him some bit of an Orc's thick skin.

In truth, Kaiv looked nothing like an Orc; hell, he didn't look like anything really. His sharp teeth and canines that were a bit overgrown, and the claws on his feet and fingers came from the Orcs. Kaiv's large eyes, one blue, the other green, delicate lined face (Delicate for an Orc, which placed him around human looking) and wiry body revealed the elfin streak. He is short (not hit his growing streak yet, I suppose), and still malnourished (It's no wonder he doesn't have an appetite in this place) and I had just about five inches and thirty pounds on him.

The first time I saw him I thought he was some kind of psychotic land bound merman, until he told me about his unusual heritage.

Of course, that took a while; he still barely speaks to anyone else.

I saw him sink back in misery, and cuffed him on the head.

"Think about it any more and your brain will explode. An if you get Orc brain on my sword, I'll have to kill you."

He found enough strength to mock me as he stood up. "Yes, I know how you love your sword Rhapsody." He smiled a bit, regaining his humor.

"If anyone ever paused and asked me, 'What is Dee's most important possession?' You know I'd have to say? The Sword." He began warming up, stretching out as soon as he saw the rest of our crew moving. "And 'What is Dee's motivation in life?' That'd be The Sword! And, 'If all you were all doomed to death and Dee could only save one, who would it be?' Why, by the God's, I'd have to say, The Sword!"

"Quit your yipping, pup, and get your things, we're moving out."

As soon as I said this and before Kaiv could protest, someone wandered into camp, a gray-eyed child that was scarcely thirteen, with straggly and matted dark hair.

A ghostly look in his eyes and his garb convinced me that he was a left over from the massacre, small unintelligible mutters spilling from his lips.

I might have felt for the little kid, but I didn't get this far by giving in to irrational instincts.

He wandered around for a bit, stumbling with out purpose like a damned lunatic. For all I know he might have gone off the deep end, seeing all his family massacred like that.

Kaiv stared at the child for a while. "How can things like that go unpunished, Dee?" he asked in a soft, dangerous voice. "How can horrors like this ever go unpunished, Dee?"

"Thoughts like that are what gets you killed here, Kaiv." I said, looking down in to my coffee. "Our lives are ruled by an arbitrary god."

He looked at me, the anger in his eyes flashing through parts of his bangs. "How can you refer to that monster as a god?!" He said, voice channeling the pathos that the volume could not, for fear of the words landing in the wrong ears.

I looked at him and envied the courage of his conviction.

"Kill one man and you are a murderer. Kill millions and you are a conqueror. Kill everyone and you are a God." I muttered to Kaiv.

The Orc deigned to keep silent, but I could see the impact of my words in the silence he gifted me with for the next hours.

The ghost-child wandered on edges of our marching order, which to say was right behind me and Kaiv. The brainless Orc might not have noticed, being deep in thought, but I had no such preoccupations, and had me wondering about the scraggly child.

If Hellia's messengers had not arrived yet to punish us for forgetting about one haggard human child, she might not have noticed, or cared.

And for that the boy was lucky, for there were few places on earth that I can think of that are worse than Hellia the Bloody's castle.

Only time would tell where the kid would end up.

But for now, he followed behind us, as a shadow.