An Orc for All Seasons; Chapter 19

Goblinoids and alcohol have always gone together, albeit not necessarily well. They love to brew beer, all kinds of ales, and if they have been living on the surface long enough to discover apples, cider. More powerful spirits are not as commonly found, but in Slothjemia the existence of humans, elves, and dwarves means that strong alcohol is available. Rare is a goblinoid that doesn’t have a favorite fermented beverage, and even rarer that they aren’t willing to fight about it.

 Chapter 19

Grundoon sat in the dark for quite a while. It was dry inside the juggernaut, and the metal was still warm from Kozzurd’s fireball and the explosive that tore the machine wide open. At his feet lay the puddled remains of the Romillian commander who gargled every time he drew a breath. Grundoon just sat and listened to the raspy sound that came with such labor and agonized endeavor. He’d never had an opponent in this position.

The old orc sat back a little on the chest he was sitting on. “So, you are the great Prince Holburt I’ve heard virtually nothing about.” Grundoon chuckled. “Fancied a little invasion, did you? Thought that taking an army for a hike through a neighboring country sounded like a fun way to spend some time?” Grundoon leaned forward. “And how did that work out for you? Still having a good time? Has everything gone according to plan?” He laughed and leaned back again.

“Oh, you princely types always have such grand schemes, don’t you? Always coming up with a new way to hang on to power. Anything to keep control, right?” Grundoon shook his head. “I’ve no idea what you thought you would accomplish by all of this.” Grundoon looked at the hole in the wall, then back at the prince on the floor. “There are a lot of good men that followed you here, just to die in our mud. Added to the fine men of our own 1st Army that you ambushed here, and you have a lot of blood on your hands.”

Just then, there was a bit of commotion outside the juggernaut. It was Jandle, returning with a couple of xvarts to investigate the rest of the juggernaut, and some of the dwarves from the Kernschloss volunteers to serve as guards around the opening. Grundoon sat on the chest and rested while the xvarts clambered around the insides of the war machine. After several minutes of investigation, they reported back that all three levels of the juggernaut were clear of any more survivors.

“Nothing left ‘ere but melted iron and smoldering bones.” Said one of the xvarts. “Upstairs the powder kegs went off and destroyed the top two levels. Nothing there to even loot.” He saluted Grundoon, and both of the blue-skinned goblinoids scrambled out of the juggernaut and back to their unit.

As they were leaving, the dwarf who had first reported the prince still being alive returned with a bottle of Romillian vodka, and a little red shot glass. He climbed in and handed the bottle and glass to Grundoon, who took them both and looked at the bottle. It was too dark to read the label.

“Jandle, get me a lantern or something. Then I want you to wait for me outside.” He looked at the kobold. “Understand, old friend?” The kobold nodded his head and left to find a light source for his master.

Grundoon waited again in the dark, listening to the sound of Holburt trying to stay alive. The rain was barely audible on the thick walls and torn bulkheads and bracings of the juggernaut. It took several minutes for Jandle to return with an old candle. He lit it with a cantrip spell and set it down next to the chest Grundoon was perched on. He then retreated back out of the machine and left his master alone with their fallen enemy.

Holding the bottle so he could read it, Grundoon read it aloud. “Jukrassler Original Vodka. Finest Blend.” The orc grunted and pulled the cork. He held it up to his nose and took a deep breath. “Wooo yowza, that’s a potent elixir all right.” He sneezed. “Tickles the nose, doesn’t it Holburt ol’ buddy?” He poured a bit of the spirits into the small glass. “Here’s to what’s left of your army, prince. May they rot in hell.” With that he downed the drink in one quick motion.

He shook his head violently. “WHOA! That packs a lovely punch, doesn’t it?” Grundoon laughed. “Not bad, once you get past the fact it was imported as an act of unprovoked war.” Grundoon refilled the glass. “To your family, may they know you suffered before they die.” He quickly downed the drink and again shook his head, albeit not as violently.

“Very nice. Almost worth the hike to get here.” Grundoon refilled the glass. “But here I am hogging it all. Not much of a host, eh?” He grinned at the prince, who could now see his face. It was doubtful that anything much registered, but it was hard to tell. His eyes no longer darted about, they seemed to just stare at Grundoon. “Here you go, majestic prince. Have a shot.”

With that Grundoon held the glass out and poured the alcohol onto the dwarf. The second it hit his exposed flesh and burned sinew, the raspy wheezing turned into a shrill, weak, and thoroughly tortured scream. There was no way the immobile, and nearly dead man could escape or deflect the burning pain. Grundoon had heard wails of undead spirits that sounded less emotional and anguished than the sound Holburt had just made.

Grundoon feigned surprise that his drink offering had been unwelcome. “Oh my, did that disturb you my dear friend? Did that hurt you? Cause you discomfort?” The orc poured another glass. “Just wait until you hear what I have in store for you. The pain you are in now, will pale in comparison.” Grundoon drank the vodka and wiped his mouth on his sore arm. “I am going to have you placed on permanent display here in this valley. Right there at the junction. Not a statue, mind you, but the real thing. Your corpse, melted into that fancy armor of yours, right there on display. A stunning tribute to your greatest accomplishment.” The orc poured another glass and drank it down straight away. It was getting easier to drink. “You came all this way just to become a lumpy doorstop, and sacrificed close to twelve thousand men to do it.” He laughed. “Well played, Marshal. Well played.”

Grundoon set the bottle down and held the little red shot glass in his right hand. He leaned forward. “See this is what I have in mind, Holburt ol’ pal.” Grundoon chuckled. “I am going to have a lot of free time on my hands pretty soon. I’ll be retiring. Reckon my superiors will want it that way.” He smiled coldly and looked at the shot glass in his hand. “So, I will need something to keep myself busy in my golden years. I don’t think I am cut out for gardening, or writing memoirs, so I am going to do something else to keep myself occupied.”

He reached down and retrieved the bottle, refilling the glass. “I am going to hunt down every last one of your family line, and I will see them all killed.” He drank the glass of vodka and licked his lips. “Every one of them. Every man, woman, and child. Anyone who can lay a claim to your titles and inheritance, all of them will be sought out and put to death. No Romillian will ever look back, and fondly remember you. Your family will never be honored by your death, or by heroic tales of your life. Any mention of your family name will result in tears and sorrow. All it will be is a synonym for folly and stupidity.” The orc looked at the dwarf crumpled at his feet. “That should keep me busy for a while.”

Grundoon poured yet another glass. “I enjoyed our little talk, I really did. You are a fine listener. Hardly any interruptions. Just let me say what I had to say. Here’s to you, ol’ buddy.” The orc held out the glass again, and slowly poured the vodka on to the dwarf. Again, the horrific sound of torment beyond definition filled the juggernaut. Grundoon laughed. “For a dwarf, you don’t handle your strong drink well at all!” His laughter drowned out the plaintive wails from Prince Holburt.

The orc general stood and recorked the bottle. He tossed the shot glass in the air and caught it in his hand. Without a further word, he climbed out through the hole in the wall and tried to adjust his eyes to the sunlight. The rain had settled into a slow drizzle, hardly enough to call rain at all. The sun cast long poetic rays through the clouds. Grundoon looked around. Jandle came jogging up and saluted. Grundoon returned the salute and handed the shot glass and bottle to Jandle. “Tuck that away. It is a gift from a new old friend.”

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