Orcs of the Red Blade

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Author Topic: Mother  (Read 280 times)


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« on: December 07, 2019, 07:14:59 PM »
You stay here, Bait.", her mother spoke. She had a scratchy voice, just like her own, but Thirteen… Tahara… Bait remembered that it had always been beautiful to her. Her mother pushed up her skull mask, grinning. "We'll come get you in a second."

Bait nodded. She wasn't scared. Not really. She didn't know these strange ruins with the scary, burnt out circle of runes and she'd heard the ogres' voices behind them - but her mother told her she'd be back and at six years old, Bait couldn't conceive of a world in which people lied.

Nor was she clever enough to hear the snicker in her mother's voice, even as she listened to the man who had to be her father muttering "Hurry up.", barely able to contain his own amusement and combine the two facts to the truth.

No one was coming for her.

Tahara groaned, rubbing her eyes. Their rest in the Barrens was likely to be a short one, but Tahara didn't mind it much. The room atop the tower Tagrok had chosen was small but warm and the furs beneath her were soft. Soft enough that Tahara remained, only half in the waking world and with her mind still caught up in her dream.

She remembered the rest of her stolen memories in bits and pieces. An ogre hand reaching out for her. A stone bench, somewhere dark, her hands and feet tied with leather. The first cuts and slashes into her mind, bright white light erupting behind her eyes, taking away vision as well as comprehension.

And then screams. Her own, she thought. Screaming and screaming and screaming until her voice was as raspy as that of the mother who had left her behind.

Tahara stretched out her spine and collapsed again, sighing.

She should be angry at her. Maybe. Probably. But before she'd had a chance to try, they'd been on their way back to Garadar, idle chatter about Timur that should not have been as eye opening as it was.

“As I said, a runt. Mother wolves, no matter how kind outside the den, don’t tolerate them.”

Tahara didn't remember everything. She remembered everything she was ever going to, some memories scratched out by time, not magic. But she knew she had always been runty, always been weaker than she should have been. Even in the slave pens she had been told she should have been drowned at birth. What if the mother she wanted to hate had simply acted… normal? What was expected of her. What any real orc would do.

The more her memories had come back, the more anger had settled in her stomach. If her parents were blameless, her abusers dead, then it didn't matter what she felt - none of it would have anywhere to go. Anger, hurt and fear would always be simmering under the surface. No outlet, no relief.

So she'd tried ignoring it, digging deeper, trying to find something else beneath the rage… and come up empty. The more Tahara looked for something else to feel, something else to look to, there was simply… nothing. A seemingly endless pit of empty space where Tahara should be and Bait wasn't, not anymore.

That empty space had a name, of course. Given by Lurog and perfected by Barog, who followed him.

Thirteen. A number, not a person. The absence of feeling, of herself, of… anything.

In a way, the shadows of that island had been… better. Instead of nothing, the dark had forced her to feel everything. And without the real targets, with no mother or Barog or Veshok to scream at, the shadows had picked whoever was closest.

Tahara scratched through her hair, head turning to the orc sleeping next to her.

Tagrok was worried about truth. He wasn't wrong, but it wasn't truth meant for him. It was truth twisted and torn and spread out bigger than it should have been.

Still. Her fault. Maybe if she hadn't been so crammed full of hurt and anger, if she had found a way to deal with it all just in time… maybe the shadows couldn't have touched her.

Maybe she wouldn't have been able to hurt Tagrok over something she knew he'd meant as a kindness.

“It does look quite motherly from where I stand.”

Tahara let out a sigh as she watched the first gentle rays of light rise behind the mountains. A shift of weight next to her made her jump, as Sparks' feathers brushed against her leg, the small ravasaur looking to get closer to the creature he knew as "mother". He didn't know that his shy behaviour might have made his real mother leave him behind, too.

All of them. Tahara, Chuckles, Nabbers, Feathers, Sparks. The weak, the scared, the stupid and the broken, all left behind to die.

She ran her fingers through his plumage.

"You know…", she muttered. "I'm not going to be a very good mother, I think. I'll try and make you a good hunter but… even if you don't make it. I'll keep feeding you anyway. You know that, right? You don't have to be good."

Sparks lifted his head, licking her fingers. She didn't know yet what that meant. Not really. But learning his language was something she was looking forward to.

She gave him one final pat before she got up and started to collect armour, quiver and bow as quiet as she could, walking down the plank eyes set on the horizon. The lionesses would be back from the hunt, the prey of the Barrens feeling safe after the terrors of the night. The perfect hour.

Tahara grinned to herself as Chuckles and Spots fell in step beside her, each of them oblivious to the red glint in their eyes.

If there was anger in her, perhaps she could pack some of it into an arrow or two and fire them into dawn.