The Good Orc
As most races know Orcs are ignorant, brutish and uncivilised. Most would tell you that avoiding any interaction with Orcs is your best course of action. Even Elves and Dwarfs, two races who despise each other, will come together against the Orcs if needed.
This is not a tale about a bad Orc; but rather a good Orc named Ma’lik the Small. For those of you well versed in the legends you will know that this was the given name to the Orc who would eventually become Ma’lik the Great who would save the world. Yet before he was the Great he was merely the Small and that is where our story begins.
Ma’lik was an orphaned Orc who lived with his Grandmother on the outskirts of the small Orcish fishing village of Turath by the shores of the great lake Lakey. A silly name certainly but then most Orcs are proud of their lack of education and imagination. In fact most never learn to read at all, seeing such an action as capitulation to the Elves, Humans, Dwarfs and the many other races that came into the world long after the Orc was the first race to walk the world. The stories of the Orcs are passed down verbally and so most Orcs are boisterous storytellers and their myths grow exponentially in grandeur as the age’s progress.
Unlike most Orcs Ma’lik was able to read. In fact he loved reading and at a young age he possessed what many would call a library. His love of reading was instilled in him by his grandmother Su’Roth the Half-Blood. Su’Roth’s name referred to the fact that she was half Elf. I know that this may come as a shock considering Orcs seldom breed outside of their race and when such unions do occur they are almost always with Trolls. However as the story goes there was a rebellious, independent Elf known as Swarma who had taken it upon himself to romance at least one female from every race.
Su’roth’s mother fell for his charms and so her daughter was born. By the time she was born Swarma had long gone and Su’Roths mother had to raise the child on her own. Such a union was despised by the Orcs but unlike most races it is firmly against the Orcish code to banish any member of their own. Instead they settled for having the Half-Bloods live outside of the town.
Su’Roth possessed the high intelligence of an Elf and taught herself to read. She attempted to pass the skill to her son but he embraced typical Orcish pastimes. He eventually found his death in the first great Orcish War under the Ta’Lim the Mad King. Ma’Lik, his son took after his Grandmother and she was delighted to finally have somebody to share her many books with. Unfortunately for Ma’lik he also received his short stature from his Grandmother, standing only seven foot tall. Tall for most races certainly but considering the average Orc is around nine ten feet he was diminutive.
Like all races the Orcs are not kind to misfits. Ma’lik found himself bullied and pushed around, other Orc children would throw boulders at him and mock him. The only time that he tried to read in public several other children stole his book and tore it apart in front of him, making him cry. The adults approved of their actions and showed no mercy to Ma’lik as he run away crying. When he arrived back to his home, Su’Roth wiped away his tears and told him not to read in public again. He heeded her advice and although he was still called names from time to time, most of the other Orcs ignored him.
The favourite of his stories was the story of Au’Thar the Light-bringer. Su’Roth used to read it to him as a child and as he grew he was able to recite the story by heart. The book containing the legend was the prized possession of Su’Roth and she kept it hidden in their small hut beneath the floorboards. The story of Au’Thar was forgotten by most races and was known only by a few select scholars of legends found in the great libraries of learning. Su’Roth was the only Orc who knew the story. The book itself was very valuable and there were many individuals out there who would have stolen it.
That is why Su’roth kept it a secret from all other living souls except for Ma’lik. She had received the book from her Mother who in turn had been given the book by Sharma as one of his many gifts during their romance. On the inside cover of the book there still contained a record of their time together, a message to her mother:
TO MY BELOVED
YOU HAVE MY ENTIRE HEART.
The legend of Au’Thar goes back to the ancient times when other races begun to populate the land. Most Orcs were wary of these threats to their dominance and attacked the other races. The parts of the world the other races fled were not yet illuminated by civilisation and were called the Dark Places. In the Dark Places there were a large amount of monsters, beasts and other malicious creatures lying in wait. Au’Thar was the Prince of the Orcs. He saw the great destruction and death that was being inflicted upon other races and showed a quality that was despised more than any other by the Orcs. He showed them mercy.
Forsaking his birthright Au’Thar went out into the Dark Places and aided the other races. He showed them how to survive and helped to establish several cities and towns most of which exist to this day. His final act of kindness was sacrificing himself to protect all of the new races from Yuyop the Great Dragon. It has been said that at his funeral the leaders of every race were present and made tribute to him. The Orcs being Orcs were not happy that one of their own had aided the other races and so tried to erase any trace of Au’Thar. Time would make the other races forget him.
Hearing this story nightly imbued Ma’lik with a sense of decency the desire to replicate his hero’s travels. He learnt how to ride a mule and would buy maps of the world from travelling vendors whenever possible. Su’Roth knew all of this and encouraged him. She would sneak coins into his pockets after hugging him so that he could afford his maps, something Ma’Lik never discovered.
The time came when Ma’Lik was no longer a boy but instead an Orc on the cusp of adulthood. However soon he discovered that with maturity we begin to lose the ones we love. Su’Roth had kept her illness secret from Ma’Lik until she collapsed in their house. Orcs do not have doctors and they detest weakness so most dying are either abandoned or put out of their misery.
Ma’Lik laid her upon her bed and did not leave her side for the next three days. He fed her broth and watered her lips. There were many tears from the both of them. It was on the cusp of evening that the end drew near. Su’Roth reached out to Ma’Lik and brought him in close to whisper into his ear.
“My dear Ma’Lik you have always been so good to me. There’s something inside of you good and pure I know that you’ll achieve great things. I just wish I could be there to see them.”
“You will be Nanna. You will be.”
“I won’t Ma’Lik. I’m sorry.” Ma’Lik begun to cry again and put Su’Roth’s hand on his cheek. “Ma’Lik promise me that as soon as I’m gone you’ll take that mule and go out into the world.”
“I promise Nanna. I promise.”
“Good. Our favourite book is under the floorboards by the fire. You should find a large bag of gold coins with it. It’s for you to get started on your journey.” Su’Roth coughed again. Ma’Lik went to give her some water but she pushed him away. “I’m ready to go Ma’Lik. To where the spirits lay forever in golden glory… You’ve always been such a good… good… boy.”
Su’Roth let out a last gasp of breath and smiled. Then she was gone. Ma’Lik sat by her bed crying his heart out for hours. When he could cry no more he stood up and kissed Su’Roth on her forehead. He plucked several hairs from her head to ensure that her spirit would always be with him and walked away. He went to the fireplace where he spotted an out of place plank in the floor. He pulled it open and as promised there lay the book and the money. He pulled them both out and pocketed them. Then he left his home, never to return.
There were no farewells to Ma’Lik from the people of Turath as he left. Nobody knew that he had left at all until months after the fact and even then they struggled to recall anything about him other than he was small. Life went on without him.
Orcs are a race well suited to travelling long distances with minimal supplies. Their constitution means that they can survive without food and water for what in human terms is around a year. Their thick skin means that they are protected from the elements and are able to bear both extreme heat and cold with ease. The only thing that goes against them is their disposition to boredom. Ma’Lik was thankful to Su’Roth during these moments as he was able to re-read the legend of Au’Thar as often as he wanted.
It was a number of days before he first encountered any other beings. He spotted a gathering of Elven hunters huddled around a fire. He kept his distance for several minutes before deciding that it was time to approach. He stepped out into the clearing.
“Greeti….” The Elves screamed and fled in terror leaving behind their weapons, food and equipment. Ma’Lik stood in the clearing perplexed at what had occurred. Then he remembered that to most races an unannounced Orc probably wanted to hurt rather than help you. He would have to cover his face in order to avoid scaring any individuals he might meet in the future. As luck would have it the Elves had left behind their robes and a sewing kit. Ma’Lik stitched the robes together before donning the garment, mounting his mule and carrying on his journey.
As he travelled he began to see notices for missing Human children along his path. Finally an adventure! Ma’Lik thought to himself. The path led to a Human settlement called Manchurian and Ma’Lik readjusted his outfit so that his face was completely covered by the robe. Then he entered the village.
Inside the village people stared at him with curious and frightened eyes. The fact that they couldn’t see who was under the robe made it worse. After all if you saw a shrouded, mysterious seven foot tall man who you’ve never seen before arrive at your village after several children have gone missing, I imagine you would be extremely scared too.
Ma’Lik knew that the best place to begin any adventure was the local tavern and so he made his way into a run-down shack that the town of Manchurian considered its local. As he entered all eyes were upon this mysterious figure and an audible shudder went through the room. Undeterred Ma’Lik approached the barkeep.
“I understand that your people’s children have been going missing?” said Ma’Lik in a deep voice that betrayed his disguise instantly.
“What’s it to you?” sneered the barkeep.
“I’m an adventurer wanting to help you find your children and bring them back.”
Unknown to Ma’Lik several humans had approached him from behind, some of them brandishing knifes.
“We don’t need help from outsiders. Why don’t you take that robe off then we can talk?”
Ma’Lik stuttered. His hesitance was enough time for the thugs to grab him and pull his robe from his face revealing his Orcish features.
“Orc! He’s an Orc!” shouted the bartender. That caught everybody’s attention and soon the small group harassing him became a posse. They threw punches at him and pulled him from side to side.
“I just want to help you.” cried Ma’Lik.
“Liar. He’s the one who’s been stealing our children. Get him.” shouted the barkeep. The posse dragged him outside. The entire town was caught up in the pandemonium. One individual slipped a rope around his neck and it became apparent to the Orc that they intended to hang him.
Ma’Lik continued to plead his case but the humans were having none of it. Rocks were being thrown at him and he was being pelted with tomatoes. They jeered at him. Unlike most Orcs Ma’Lik had always contained his temper but for the first and last time in his life he lost control.
“GET OFF ME!” he shouted in a loud booming voice. He spread his arms out and threw back those who had been holding him. He might have only been a small Orc but even the smallest Orc easily has the strength of a dozen men. All told, I counted thirty men thrown off from Ma’Lik. The village went silent and the crowd looked at Ma’Lik with great fear. He panted heavily and looked at the posse who had been baying for blood not so long ago. Those he had thrown were scrambling away on the floor on their hands and knees whilst others were unconscious. The rest of the crowd cowered from him.
Ma’Lik saw the fear in their faces and did the only thing he could think of. He ran. He ran into the forest as fast as his legs could take him and when he could run no longer he perched upon a log and began to cry. That is where I first met Ma’Lik, with his nose running and tears falling from his eyes. Not the most dignified state to find him.
“I must say I have not seen many Orcs cry before.” I said.
Ma’Lik looked around in shock and confusion. A response that was appropriate considering that I was in the form of a Magpie at the time.
“Who is it?” he said.
“I must say I was very impressed with your performance back there. Not many Orcs would walk into a human settlement alone. Robe or no robe.” I said as I flew and perched upon his shoulder.
“You can talk? A talking bird?”
“Not exactly”. I flew in front of him and revealed my true form. His eyes widened in shock.
“You’re a human?”
“Yes. Have you never met a wizard before?”
“No I haven’t. I’ve never seen any magic at all.”
“That’s understandable. Your people tend to be rather hostile towards magic.”
“Who are you?”
“I have been called many things by many different races. You can call me Maetin.”
“Like the great wiz-”
“Not like. I am him”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I’ll prove it to you. Your greatest secret is….” And with that I whispered into his ear Ma’Lik’s greatest secret, his secret above all other secrets. Unfortunately my dear reader it would be a great betrayal to my friend to divulge what this secret was. Needless to say though it was enough for Ma’Lik to believe me. His eyes widened and he laid himself down onto his knees in front of me.
“I don’t believe it. It’s really you. You’re Maetin the Wise, Maetin the Great One, Maetin the Immortal. You’re Maetin the impeccable and th-”
“Yes I am. That’s enough platitudes for now though Ma’Lik. Please take a tissue.” I handed him a tissue I produced out of my cloak and he wiped away the tears that remained.
“I don’t understand though. Why are you here?” he said.
“Simple. I was sent here.”
“Not who. What.” I produced the Pendant of the Pure from around my neck and handed it to him. The pendant beamed brightly with white light. Ma’Lik looked upon it with awe.
“That is a very special pendant. In my entire lifetime I have only ever seen it illuminated six times. This is the seventh.”
“Why? What does it mean?”
“It is only illuminated when somebody of pure heart walks the earth. No matter what the race or background if they are truly pure then it is lit. That’s not to say there are not many good men out there but it is truly special to have somebody without any evil in their heart walking the land. When I hold it, it speaks to me and leads me to whoever that individual may be. I have little choice but to listen to it and find that person for I know that they can be a great servant of the Light. ”
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t say I’m pure of heart. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had.”
“I would. In fact I was there, watching.”
“You were watching? Why didn’t you help me?”
“I wanted to make sure you were who I was looking for. Besides I knew an Orc could look after himself. If things went a bit too far I would have jumped in to help you.”
“Then you would have seen me shout and hurt those people.” With that he began to cry again.
“Wipe your tears Ma’Lik. They deserved it. Besides the worst you hurt was their pride. All they’ll have is some bruised bottoms. Maybe next time they’ll be kinder to the next stranger passing through their village. I know very few other individuals of any race who would respond to such treatment by running away. Revenge would be the first thing on their mind.”
“I don’t want revenge. I just want to help them.” He regained his composure and wiped away his tears.
“You can still help them if you are willing?”
“I am. I’ll do anything to help them get their children back.”
“That is just what I wanted to hear. But before I go into detail on how we begin our task I should tell you something. Just for full disclosure.”
“What is it?” he said.
“You are not the first Orc to be given that pendent. In fact the first individual to ever hold it was an Orc.”
“Wow… Who was it?”
“None other than the Au’Thar the Light-bringer himself.”
As I said those words I saw a twinkle of wonder erupt in Ma’Lik’s eyes. His mouth hung agape and I could tell that I finally had his attention. Ma’Lik had many questions for me regarding Au’Thar and it took a substantial amount of time to answer them. I could fill dozens of books with the questions I answered but for the sake of brevity I will not include them here.
By the time I was finished I could see that Ma’Lik was inspired to do good. It was a look I had seen in many other young travellers on their journeys and it always filled me with great warmth. He hung the pendant around his neck.
“So how do we help those villagers?” he asked.
“Well my understanding of the situation is that a werewolf has been stealing the children. As to why it’s been doing so I have not a clue.” I replied.
Ma’Lik winced and with good reason. Perhaps more than any race (even the Orc) the werewolf was feared. At least the Orc lives in a hierarchical society and have been known to negotiate. The Werewolves on the other hand mostly live alone and are violent to any who wander on their territory no matter the circumstances. They are also incredibly strong although their strength depends upon the position of the moon Luna in the night sky. When Luna is at its peak then they have been known to be stronger than even the largest of Orcs. It is a very good thing that they are so disorganised otherwise they would pose a significant risk to the races of our world.
“How do we find this werewolf?” Ma’Lik asked.
“That will require the use of magic.” I replied.
“Are you going to do some kind of tracking spell?”
“I’m not going to do anything. You are.”
“Me? I can’t do magic at all.”
“That’s fine. I’ll teach you.”
“I’m an Orc Maetin. We can’t do magic” Ma’Lik proclaimed and technically he was correct. The vast majority of Orcs aren’t magically inclined at all and so they tend to shun it.
“Shall we see? We’ll start with a simple trick. “Put your hands out like this” I said, placing both of my palms towards the sky. “Then bring both of your index and little fingers down onto your palms”. Ma’Lik complied with my instruction.
“Excellent. Now say Voltas” I said.
On cue a small electric shock shot across his palms and fluttered out. Ma’Lik looked towards me amazed.
“Again.” I said and again the volt flickered across his palms.
“So that proves it. You can do magic.” Ma’Lik stood there amazed by his newfound ability.
“How about I show you some tricks that will be helpful on our quest?” I asked.
“Yes please” Ma’Lik replied.
I won’t bore you with the details of those next few hours but by the end Ma’Lik boasted an array of spells that he could produce reliably. To be a great magician you need to be well versed in magic when you are much younger than Ma’Lik was. However if you are magically inclined there is no reason you can’t have a few tricks up your sleeve to get out of sticky situations.
Now that Ma’Lik was equipped with all the necessary tools I told him that it was time to begin our adventure. To find a Werewolf is actually quite hard to do in the deep dark woods and perhaps more importantly also extremely dangerous. As you can imagine Ma’Lik had many questions.
“So how are we going to find this Werewolf?” he asked.
“Well tonight Luna is out at her peak so it’ll definitely be out tonight, no doubt about that. I think the best course of action would be to lay a trap. It’s been stealing children so I’ll conjure an illusion of a child. When this Werewolf comes I want you to grab and hold him with all your strength. I’ll take care of him.”
Ma’Lik looked uncomfortable with what I had said.
“What do you mean you’ll take care of him?”
“Well the Werewolf is clearly dangerous so… I suppose you know what I mean don’t you?”
“I’m sorry but I don’t believe in killing. Not at all. There has to be another way.”
“Have you ever encountered a Werewolf Ma’Lik?”
“I have and they are very dangerous. There’s only one way to deal with them. It might be nasty but believe me it’s the only way.”
“I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that. Have you ever tried talking to one?”
“It tried to kill me.”
There was a long pause before Ma’Lik spoke up.
“Well I’m going to try and talk to it. Promise me you won’t harm it until I have tried to talk to it.”
“Very well. But I must warn you it might be the last thing you’ll ever do.” I said.
“On your head be it then. Come let us go and spring our trap.”
We made our way deeper into the forest to a clearing where I knew the Werewolf would be. When Luna is at its peak a Werewolf will make its way to a clearing so that it can bask in the moon’s light. Moonlight has a regenerative effect upon Werewolves and allows them to recover from any fights they may have had during the month.
In the distance past the clearing we could hear the sound of children. They weren’t crying but instead there were sounds of joy. Ma’Lik was eager to play the role of the hero and tried to rush towards them. I managed to stop him before he could go any further.
“Don’t be so eager. We need to stick to the plan.”
“But the children?”
“They’re safe. Stick to the plan. Get ready to grab the werewolf when you see it.”
Ma’Lik nodded. I began to conjure the illusion of a child when the Werewolf emerged from the woods. It was an impressive beast standing around ten foot tall with tremendous claws and well groomed bluish hair. If there’s one thing positive I could say about every Werewolf I’ve encountered it’s that they take good care of themselves and this one was no exception.
It came into the middle of the clearing, stretched and let out a tremendous howl.
“What do we do?” asked Ma’Lik.
“Stick to the plan. Go around and come from behind.”
Ma’Lik nodded and made his way through the branches and brambles. Meanwhile I conjured the illusion again and when it was complete I sent it out into the clearing. It took the Werewolf a few moments but soon he saw the illusory child and approached it. He spoke in a deep, booming voice.
“Are you okay little one?” it said. At this point I was shocked. Every werewolf I had known in all my years of living had been vicious towards all humans regardless of age. I began to suspect that perhaps there was more to this story than what the villagers had claimed.
“Don’t be shy,” it said and at this moment I was so engrossed in my thoughts that I had forgot that I was controlling the illusion. I looked up to see Ma’Lik a few steps behind the Werewolf. The shock of seeing Ma’Lik caused me to cease conjuring the illusion and the child disappeared. The Werewolf let out a groan of shock before standing upright and sniffing the air.
Werewolves have an amazing sense of smell and so I was grateful that Ma’Lik pounced onto the creature when he did. Otherwise I’m certain it would have detected my scent and I would have been dinner.
The two crashed upon the ground. The Werewolf struggled against Ma’Lik who wrapped his arms around it and was holding on for dear life.
“Get off me,” the werewolf yelled.
“I’m here to rescue the children,” Ma’Lik replied.
“So the humans sent you. I should have expected as much.”
The Werewolf let out a tremendous growl as he drove his arms apart and broke Ma’Lik’s grip. Ma’Lik went flying and landed hard upon the ground. The Werewolf turned and walked towards Ma’Lik. As he got closer Ma’Lik scrambled backwards, trying to get away from it. A beam of moonlight illuminated his face and suddenly the Werewolf let out a sniggle, then a giggle. Before long it was laughing heartily.
“You’re an Orc? I’ve seen a few things in my day but never an Orc helping humans.” The Werewolf said between great guffaws of laughter.
“I don’t want to fight you.” Ma’Lik said.
It took the Werewolf a few minutes to regain its composure before it replied.
“What do you want then?”
“I want to help you.”
“Help me? How can you possibly help me?”
“Well tell me why you’ve been stealing children and we can go from there?”
“Why I’ve been stealing children? You should ask those humans. They’re the thieves. All I’m doing is making them feel the pain I feel.” As the Werewolf said this its’ voice croaked with sadness.
“What pain? What have they done?” asked Ma’Lik.
“Stolen my children. The Barkeep keeps them locked up in the basement of his pub.”
“He’s stolen your children? Why?”
“As an attraction. The drunks all go down to see them and pay a shilling after they’ve had a few drinks. They’re only pups, they can’t defend themselves.”
“That’s terrible… I must ask though. You haven’t hurt any of these children have you?”
“Of course she hasn’t.” I said as I came out into the clearing with the four children that the Werewolf had kidnapped. You might have wondered what I was doing whilst Ma’Lik was in his struggle with the Werewolf. I made my way to where the children were being kept. They were in good condition and were playing a game of Tac-Toc-Tic.
I gained their trust with a few magic tricks and asked them a few questions. They were all rather happy with the Werewolf although naturally several of them were missing their families. They also revealed that the Werewolf was a female. We then made our way to the clearing.
“Who are you?” said the Werewolf.
“Maetin. What do you call yourself?”
“Wickers. How about you Orc? What is your name?” asked the Werewolf.
“It is good to make your acquaintance Maetin and Ma’Lik but I see no way that the two of you can help me,” stated the Werewolf.
“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Wickers. I could help you free your children. That is if you are willing to release the villager’s children?”
“Of course. I only kidnapped them to make the people of that blasted village feel like I do,” said Wickers before turning to the children. “I’m sorry but it’s time for you to go home.”
The children cheered although one of them did note that they would miss her.
“I will miss you too,” Wickers said. She got down on one knee and gave the children a hug.
“Let’s begin our journey then. I’ll explain the plan on the way there.” I stated and with that we travelled back to Manchurian. My plan when we reached the village was simple. I would turn Wickers and Ma’Lik invisible and enter the village. We would return the children to their beds before finding a way to Wicker’s children. A simple plan but the best ones often are.
As we neared the village I could tell that something was bothering Ma’Lik who was being unusually quiet. Whilst Wickers was up ahead carrying the children on her shoulders I decided to speak to Ma’Lik to discover what was wrong.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
“I’m just wondering, what will happen to Wickers once she gets her children back?”
“I suppose she shall leave the woods and find somewhere new to raise them.”
“Isn’t there some way we could talk to the villagers? To make them live together in peace?”
“I wish there was. But I doubt it. Werewolves and Humans can’t co-exist. Even if there was peace for generations it would crumble eventually. Both races are far too territorial.”
“I don’t believe that. I think that the children Wickers looked after will be able to show them that’s wrong. They will live together. Maybe not yet but when they grow up. That’s what I think.”
“I hope you’re right.” I said. We then carried on the rest of our journey in silence.
We reached the village and I turned Wickers and Ma’Lik invisible. The village was rather quiet. Returning the children to their beds was easy. It couldn’t have taken longer than twenty minutes but soon they were in bed, safe and snug. The three of us then made our way to the bar. We could hear faint whooping and cheering. The bar itself was empty.
“Where is the barkeep keeping your children?”
“There’s a trapdoor in the kitchen. They should be down in the basement.”
I nodded and we made our way into the kitchen. On the floor there lay a large, wooden and heavy looking trapdoor. Wickers stepped forward and lifted the trapdoor with ease. As the trapdoor opened the sound of cheering grew louder and we could hear clearly. It wasn’t cheering at all but jeering. The kind of jeering bullies make towards helpless victims, the kind that is cruel and heartless, and the kind that makes the Mother of the victim red hot with rage. Before me or Ma’Lik could say a word Wickers had let out a tremendous roar and was in the basement.
By the time Ma’Lik and I had come into the basement Wickers had already thrown most of the men around the room. They screamed in terror as she scratched and bit them. I could see Wickers’s pups behind steel bars. The barkeep had a pole with a hook on the end in his hand which he was using to poke the Wickers’s poor children.
“Stay back. I’m telling you. Stay back.”
Wickers threw the last member of the crowd into the wall. Then she turned her sights upon the Barkeep. He tried to hit her with the pole but she caught it and threw it away from him.
“Please. Don’t hurt me. It was only a bit of a joke.”
“A joke? A JOKE?” screamed Wickers as she grabbed the Barkeep by his head and lifted him upwards to her jaws.
“Don’t!” shouted Ma’Lik as he lurched forward and tried to pull the Barkeep away from Wickers.
“Don’t? He deserves it,” she said.
“He does. But you have to be better than him.”
“Why? There’s only one way people like him learn.” Wickers snarled.
“Not for him. For them.” Said Ma’Lik pointing towards her pups.
Wickers turned her head and looked towards her children. They stared up at her with fearful eyes and her hate and anger drained away, replaced with love. She dropped the Barkeep and pulled the steel bars apart. Then she gathered her pups into her arms and smothered them with kisses. She turned and looked at myself and Ma’Lik.
“I’ll wait for you in the woods by the edge of town,” she said. Then she went back up the stairs and we were left alone.
“Good riddance,” said a weak voice. It was the barkeep. I looked at Ma’Lik. I could see he had an idea.
“You know how in the legends you and Au’Thar always used to deliver some kind of punishment that had a twist?” he said.
“I sure do.” I replied.
“I think he deserves one.”
Ma’Lik picked up the Barkeep by the scruff of his collar and stood him in front of me.
“Your tongue is full of only evil. You use it to hurt people. Well truly I do say unto you, until you commit a selfless act for another it will remain twisted forever more. So says I, Maetin, true servant of the Creator and follower of the light and defender of the innocent.”
What I spoke became so and the Barkeep was tongue tied.
“Voltas!” said Ma’Lik giving the Barkeep a well-deserved electric shock before dropping him to the floor.
We made our way out of the bar. Still standing outside of the bar was the mule Ma’Lik had left behind when he had fled the town.
“Hey there,” said Ma’Lik to the mule. It greeted him with a bray. He untied it from the post and mounted it. We then headed to the woods where Wickers was waiting for us with her pups.
“I can’t thank you enough,” she said.
“You don’t have to,” said Ma’Lik.
“I do. If you ever need a favour or aid, I will serve you true. So will my children and their children and all of my bloodlines until our debt is repaid.”
Ma’Lik nodded. Then Wickers let out a howl as did her pups and they ran the forest until they disappeared.
“So how did you find your first adventure?” I asked.
“It felt good to help someone.”
“Su’Roth would be proud.” I said. Ma’Lik turned around and looked at me amazed.
“How do you know my Nanna?” he said.
“The pendant told me many things about you. Some about your past, some about your future. You have great things ahead of you Ma’Lik. This whole quest has shown to me that you really deserve that pendant.”
As if on cue the pendant lit up and was full of white light.
“What does that mean?” he asked.
“It means another adventure awaits us.”
With that we followed the path of the light that would lead us to our next quest. In fact it would lead us to many more quests. We would see Wickers again when her clan had grown so large in size it was said to be the largest the world has even seen. They would fight alongside us and many other races when Ma’Lik saved the world from the Great Darkness. This included the humans from the village of Manchurian who formed the first human-werewolf alliance thanks to the children that Wickers had returned. They grew up into positions of authority and never forgot the kindness of Wickers. Much more surprising is the fact that The Barkeep would one day break his curse with a truly selfless act.
There are many more pages and books that could be told about the adventures we would undertake but I have grown weary and must rest. I shall share them with you on another day.
“Tony Deans is a serving member of the British Royal Navy and part time writer. His most notable previous work is Spring-Heeled Jack, a comic book miniseries, When not working or writing he enjoys reading, playing video games and spending time with his dog.”