The orcs are coming.
My story, No-Tusks, (excerpt below) is slated to appear in Stygian Press's Abyss Walker anthology sometime in the Spring of 2011. The creator of the Abyss Walker World, Shane Moore read the story and gave me a glowing review today. It's a dark and nasty story, not for the faint of heart, but here's the first scene.
By Paul Genesse
The smell of roasted dog made Tezok’s mouth water. The taste of meat had been denied the young orc for many days as he survived on bird eggs and a handful of mushrooms he’d scavenged in the freezing forest. His yellow eyes peered beyond the leaning trunks of dead oak trees to the source of the enticing smell, now tainted with the old sour blood scent of his own kind.
Fear of being alone in the forest—and a desperate hunger—drove him to creep toward the red-orange firelight and spy on the small war party of orcs. They were the first that he had seen since fleeing his own tribe. He knew that no matter how clever he might be, one small orc in the elf-infested forest near the Minok Vale during Winter would not see the Spring.
His mind made up, Tezok prayed silently to the Angry God Drunda, promising to make many blood offerings if these orcs would take him into their tribe. After urinating on himself to show a proper amount of fear, he crawled on all fours and whimpered as he entered the campsite. The lone guard grabbed him by his knotted mass of greasy black hair, dragged him into the center of their circle, and threw him down hard on the ground.
“Why is runt skulking into Kar-Pok’s camp?” The largest orc, the Kar of the war party displayed his long yellow tusks as he sniffed the air. “Runt not much bigger than a whelp.”
“Runt is food for march,” the guard said, causing grins, which looked like an exaggeration of the orcs’ already-large under bites.
“Not food. I slave. Let slave serve great Iron Spear tribe.”
The Kar clicked his tusks against his sharp upper teeth, his surprise only half-hidden. “You know of Iron Spear tribe?”
“All of Drunda’s spawn know Iron Spear tribe and ferocious leader, Kar-Pok, who is Elf-Killer and Cattle-Stealer.”
The orcs laughed and Kar-Pok swelled up his chest, failing to realize that the young orc might have heard the war leader mention his tribe’s name as he boasted of his prowess moments before.
“Kar-Pok!” The large orc slammed a fist against his muscled chest covered with scars. Then his green skinned hand—coated with dog’s blood—wrapped around the young orc’s throat. Kar-Pok pushed his small captive against a flat stone beside the fire where they’d butchered the dog.
“No. Not food.” The whimpering orc’s left tusk grated against the rock as Kar-Pok opened his free hand, motioning for a weapon. One of the warriors slapped the handle of a rusty hatchet into it.
“Not food. Good slave. I serve Kar-Pok.” Overwhelming terror made Tezok squirm and fight. He cursed himself for entering the camp. It would have been better to die alone than end up as meat.
Kar-Pok raised the hatchet despite the whimpering and the sincere stream of urine that began to muddy the ground.
“We see if you good slave.” Kar-Pok chopped downward, shattering Tezok’s left tusk. After two more whacks he turned him over, pressing the squealing orc’s square jaw against the rock. Kar-Pok held him still as he broke the other tusk with repeated blows, first with the sharp edge, then with the flat side of the hatchet head, each blow more excruciating than the last.
“Ukluk! Ukluk!” The orcs shouted as they howled into the night. “Ukluk kech garga!”
The blinding, throbbing pain from losing his tusks made Tezok’s new name even worse. Ukluk, the humiliated and emasculated young orc thought bitterly as he swallowed the blood filling in his mouth. No female would ever mate with him if he didn’t have tusks. It would have been better if he had been killed by the elves.
He curled into a ball as the warriors kicked him and prodded him with burning logs from the fire. As he endured the attacks, the pain and fear became a red-hot desire for vengeance. Let them call him whatever they wanted. He would bide his time, and use the witch Valga’s secret knowledge to get back at them. When the moment came, he would show them who he really was and have his revenge on Kar-Pok and entire Iron Spear tribe. Until then, he would be the lowliest wretch, and they would call him No-Tusks the Slave.