Terrible Company Ch. 05
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/ /Author’s Note: This story, Terrible Company, is sprawling sword-and-sorcery fantasy satire with a diverse cast of characters. Over its many chapters, those characters will have interactions (both with each other and others) that cross many of the lines that exist between Lit genres. I have come to believe that breaking the story into those different categories, as best I can, is the best way to expose the most readers to parts of the story they might dig, and that they might then be encouraged to read on.
Each chapter is written as a self-contained episode, and although there are running gags that continue through the series that enrich the experience, they shouldn’t prevent one from starting anywhere in the series (including the final chapter) and enjoying it for what it is.
This chapter features:
Val, the female Orc Warrior/Fighter
Katsa, the female Human Arcanist
Mathilda, the female Dwarf Healer
Ayen, the male Half-Elf Thief
Ivy, the female Human Bard
Ellie stared at her from across the table. The thin, faded scar on her left cheek skewed her lip slightly, just as it always had. Val loved her crooked smile, cliche or not. Her hands slid, open, across the table, seeking Val’s; small, dark Human enfolded within larger, green Orc. It felt good to hold Ellie again. Felt like home.
Suddenly she flinched away, staring down at her hands in horror. Blisters bubbled up from under skin, her flesh boiling of its own accord. She looked up at Val, terrified, and screamed, but Val heard only the soft wind. Val’s eyes were transfixed on her scar; it was glowing. Ellie noiselessly screamed again as her skin blackened and cracked, the space between lit orange from within. Her coarse, black hair gave off tendrils of smoke. The smell…
Bits of charred flesh broke off, carried away on the wind. Ellie watched them go in horror, her lips working soundlessly. She reached for Val, grabbing her hands, and Val recoiled in searing pain. Ellie kept reaching, her eyes glassy and dim. Unseeing. The bits of orange in between brightened, flared, until they covered everything. Her clothes, burned away. Everything. Burned away.
Val bolted upright, gasping for air, heart hammering at her chest. Her clothes and hair, drenched and dripping. The sky above her was already gray; dawn would come soon.
“All quiet ‘cept fer you.” Mathilda frowned sympathetically as the Orc sat down beside her. “Heard ya whinin’ in yer sleep, lass.”
Val stared blankly into the embers. “I’ll take over if you wanna get in a quick nap before we move.”
Mathilda shrugged and put the cap back on her flask. “Ah think Ah’ll take ya up on tha’.” The big Orc nodded as Mathilda ambled back to her makeshift pillow. She laid down and closed her eyes, but sleep was slow in coming. Between the soft wind, the occasional animal scurrying through the brush, and all the gods-damned trees, her senses simply refused to stand down.
“Hey,” Val whispered. Mathilda popped an eye open and peeked back over her shoulder, but the sound seemed too far away to have been directed at her. “You awake?”
“Yeah,” Katsa drearily whispered back.
“Then get up, bookworm. It’s time.”
Mathilda rolled onto her side and tossed her arm over her ear as the oddest pairing of fuckbuddies she’d ever known snuck away. A brief mental image of Paesa drew a tired sigh before she could quash it. It didn’t help to dwell on things that could have been.
The enormity of things could have been made her want to explode sometimes.
Her eyelids drifted apart for a moment to find Ivy staring intently at her, but the Dwarf sighed and rolled onto her back. “C’mon, ye miserable bastard,” she grumbled. “Lemme ge’ a quick wink.” Distant cries floated through the forest, as Val and her fucktoy began without going far enough to avoid earshot.
“Every day should start with that sound,” Ayen sang as he stretched.
Mathilda shook her head and groaned. “At’s like listenin’ to an extended stabbing!”
“Some stabbings are better than others,” he lilted.
Ivy leaned over to whisper conspiratorially. “He’s talking about his penis.”
” ‘e’s always talking abou’ ‘is penis,” Mathilda groaned.
“And she’s grumpy because she didn’t sleep,” Ayen said soothingly, as he leaned toward Ivy. “Why don’t you and I head back toward the road a bit and I’ll teach you a new song? It’s got a powerful climax,” he teased.
“No thank you,” Ivy responded cheerily.
Ayen’s grin never faltered. “Fine. You two stay here. I’m gonna make sure Katsa doesn’t need some fluids to keep her strength up.”
Mathilda took a few deep breaths and counted down from ten as she listened for his footsteps, but the blasted Elf never made a sound. How could you trust someone who was so damn quiet? she thought. başakşehir escort She shook her head and rolled onto her back again; Ayen was nowhere in sight, and Ivy was frowning in thought. “Tha’ time, ‘e was talkin’ abou’ semen. Ah s’pose ‘at still counts.”
Ivy pursed her lips in thought. “What about when he was talking about not needing to hunt yesterday because he already had meat?”
“Penis,” Mathilda replied.
“When he said he had something to help Val with her headache?”
“What about when he said the Tower of Halphais wasn’t the greatest tower in the world?”
“Penis,” Mathilda said, and Ivy nodded slowly. “Ya did a fine job of deflectin’ his advances, lass.”
“Is that what that was?”
“What’d ye think ‘e meant by ‘powerful climax’?”
Ivy scratched her chin with the tip of a fingernail. “I thought he was talking about a crescendo.”
“I had no idea he liked me like that.” The Bard shrugged and laid back down. “It’s sweet, but I kind of like my men to be…”
“Not complete pigs,” Mathilda suggested.
“What? No… I was gonna say manly.”
Mathilda cackled. “Yer alright, lass. Any time ‘e’s ever comin’ on a bit strong, feel free ta signal me fer backup.”
“Oh, I think I can handle him,” the redhead said. “My training involved a lot of groping and coming on me.”
“Ah think ya mean they was comin’ on to ya.”
“That too,” Ivy said with a nod.
The Dwarf kicked her feet up in the air with a short, barking laugh. “We’re gonna get along just fine.”
The Half-Elf sucked a sharp breath through his teeth as he stepped over a small puddle in the road. Val smiled to herself, although it was only a fleeting moment of sadistic joy. She shook her head and trudged on. The forest had only gotten thicker as they’d walked, and it was putting an itch between her shoulder blades.
“I’m hungry,” Ayen whined.
“We know,” the rest of them groaned in unison.
“I could eat an entire rack of wyvern ribs! You know what I can’t eat? A stupid book.”
Katsa sniffed in indignation. “You just don’t appreciate it’s true worth.”
“Can tha’ book make food?”
“No,” Katsa snarled, clutching her bag even tighter.
“Add it to tha list, lass.”
“That makes 127 things the book cannot do,” Ivy replied brightly, making a few vigorous notations at the bottom of her notepad.
“You don’t have to keep giving me the running tally,” Katsa hissed.
“Oh, I most certainly do! I have it written right here.” Ivy flipped back a few pages, her brow furrowing as she searched. She triumphantly underlined the pertinent portion and proclaimed, “Article VII, paragraph 1. Constant reminders of previous missteps are legitimate recourse for offended parties.”
“Whats’s about articles now?”
“Bylaws,” Ivy chirped. “I’ve been recording our Party Bylaws.”
“Doesn’t sound like any party I’ve ever been to,” Ayen quipped, “and my preposition is fine right where it is.” Ivy blinked and closed her mouth.
Val glared sideways at Katsa, who pretended very hard not to know any such thing was happening. “We’re not a Party!”
“You’re right,” Ivy said, nodding. “Adventuring parties are too overdone. What would you guys think about something non-traditional? Like… The Sweeping Force.” She swept her arms out demonstratively.
“S’abit high concept, innit?”
“This isn’t happening,” Val grumbled, rubbing her forehead.
“I second the idea of something non-traditional,” Ayen said, “but not The Sweeping Force. Makes it sound like we’re maids. Not that there’s anything wrong with maids… especially when they’re wearing cute little uniforms.”
“My vote makes three! The motion carries!” Ivy flipped a few pages further toward the back of her notepad and began to scribble furiously. “Something… non… tra-di-tion-al.”
“Can tha’ book help us find a name?”
Katsa bristled. “No,” she gritted out reluctantly.
“Seems abit useless, dunnit?”
“Your inability to comprehend the value of this tome changes nothing!”
Mathilda shook her head as they walked. “S’not a problem of value, lass. It’s clearly worth one harpy egg, plus the time ‘n travel of the five of us. It’s the exchange rate Ah’m havin’ trouble with.”
“As our Benevolent Dictator for Life, exchange rates are pretty much your purview,” Ayen said.
The Arcanist rolled her eyes in irritation.
“Got any rules in ’em Bylaws fer votin’ greedy, self-centered snobs outta power?”
Katsa scoffed as Ivy quickly scanned through the small yellow pages. “No,” Ivy said, “but I think a simple majority vote would suffice. That’s how we’ve been handling most things.”
“I didn’t bayrampaşa escort want to be in charge,” the Arcanist defended, “but someone has to do it.”
“No’ you. No’ anymore. All in favor of votin’ Katsa out as de facto leader?”
“Yup,” Ayen said fervently.
“What about The Magnificent Five?”
“No. Too close to Tha Magnificent Seven and focus, lass! We need yer vote!”
“Oh no,” Ivy said, shaking her head. “I’m the counter. I’m impartial except in case of a tie.”
“I abstain,” Val grumbled. Katsa clicked her tongue and sulked along behind the others, clutching her bag ever tighter.
“Then the motion carries!”
A sudden calm struck the Arcanist. Her stride lengthened, and her usual confidence was fully present. “I nominate Val to take over.”
“What?!” The Orc lost her cool as quickly as Katsa had recovered seconds earlier. “No. No way.”
“Do we even need a leader?” Mathilda mused. “Ah mean, is absolute democracy completely off tha table?”
“Seconded for Val,” Ayen quickly added.
Val growled. “The next per—”
“Thirded!” Ivy cried. “The motion carries!”
Val threw up her hands in frustration and stared at down at Katsa. “You know I didn’t want this.”
The Arcanist, for her part, smiled innocently. “My father always used to say ‘responsibility builds character’.”
The big Orc drew herself up to her full, towering height. “If my character gets any bigger,” she hissed, “it’s gonna split you in half.”
Ayen winced at the thought.
Val’s fists quivered at her sides, nostrils flaring with annoyance. “Fine,” she snorted. “Drop your gear, Limpy. You’re going scouting.”
Ayen groaned as he unshouldered his pack with a sigh. Val enjoyed another all-too-brief moment of sadistic joy watching his backside as he hobbled off ahead
“Ah take it tha’ hitch innis step is yer doin?” Mathilda sneered as she scooped up the Half-Elf’s pack.
“He’s just playing it up for sympathy,” Val smirked. “That didn’t leave him half as ‘butthurt’ as getting back to find you using Ivy’s tits for a pillow.”
Mathilda rolled her eyes. “Nothin’ ‘appened!”
“The only things I know how to say in Elvish” Katsa chimed in, “are curse words. He said all the ones I know and I few that I didn’t.”
“What about Terrible Company?” Ivy interjected.
“That’s the best suggestion I’ve heard yet.” Sarcasm dripped from Katsa’s voice. “I’m so glad we brought her along!” Ivy preened, oblivious, and made a few notations in her notepad, and Katsa resumed her sulking.
“Terrible?” Mathilda asked, a few seconds later.
“Yeah, yanno… like, Terrible as the dawn!”
The Dwarf quirked her head as they walked. “Issat some kinda human sayin?”
“Read it in a book.”
“Some’ow, Ah think ya got that one wrong, lass.”
The warm afternoon rays flitted through the slowly drifting canopy, shafts of light caressing her alabaster skin. She writhed in the grass, her long black hair cascading from out beneath her. The young maiden’s hands roamed over her naked flesh, covering and uncovering in turn. Her lip caught softly between teeth, youthful beauty rivaled only by the natural beauty surrounding her. Her eyes flickered at movement to her side. One knee lifted and crossed over the other, but her vulnerability was beyond question and he knew it.
Thick stubble covered his jaw, giving a rugged edge to an already rugged man. His dark smile made darker by a jagged scar tracing his cheek. The maiden withdrew her feet, her knees rising over her chest as he settled down in the grass below her. He grabbed her ankles, roughly parting her legs, and she whimpered. Her brow furrowed in—
“Hey,” Ayen whispered, as he dropped down beside The Narrator. The white-haired man figuratively jumped out of his skin, and twisted to cover himself. “No no. Don’t stop on my account.”
“It’s hardly appropriate,” he sputtered, indignantly tucking himself back into his undergarment, “for me to continue soliloquizing while you kneel there.”
“What,” the elf whispered,”you mean jacking off?”
The bard grit his teeth and turned back to the young couple. Penetration had already happened, and he’d missed it. The Narrator sighed in exasperation
“What’re you doin’ way out here anyway?”
The white-haired man rolled his eyes and tugged his breeches back up. “I have a few colleagues out this way who were wanting my input on a sensitive matter.” Both men turned at a soft cry. The dark-haired woman arched up off the ground, sweeping her ample breasts up toward her armpits. “I happened upon these two youthful doves by serendipity.”
“Oh, they didn’t pay you?”
“Sadly, no. This one is on the house. What about you?”
The Narrator scowled. beşiktaş escort “Is that boorish beast with you? The she-orc?”
“Yeah, but she’s not likely to catch up to us for a while. You’ve got time.”
The couple’s cries of passion intertwined; soft whimpers contrasted sharply against deep, rhythmic grunting. The Narrator stared at Ayen out of the corner of his eye, and slowly raised his eyebrows. “Well?”
“Well what?” Ayen asked, without looking away from the spectacle before him.
“Do you mind?”
“Oh. Oh! We’re not gonna watch together?”
The Narrator held out his hand, palm up, expectantly. The Half-Elf stared at it, and then frowned thoughtfully at the man and woman writhing in the field ahead. “I’ll take my chances,” Ayen said.
“Suit yourself,” the old man replied, as he tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his breeches. “If it helps, I believe they’re wasted.” The Half-Elf smirked as he slipped away.
Ayen made a stealthy circle of the couple. He spotted their campsite once he moved around to the far side, and knelt down next in the middle of the stream of discarded articles of clothing. There were several broken, off-white stems in the grass around their cook pot. Ayen spotted an unbroken mushroom in the shade of a nearby Elm. His grin widened dramatically after taking a good whiff.
“Mortals!” Ayen boomed, as he stepped naked through the brush. The man and woman froze mid-thrust and stared in stunned silence, like he had just sprouted horns or a second head. He spread his arms grandiosely, his smile confident and wide. “Who copulates within my realm? Within the holy grove of the Lord of Wood?”
The young man, mouth agape, managed no more than a dumb grunt. The young woman, however, twisted free from her lover’s grip and prostrated herself before the Half-Elf. “Oh Great Lord,” she plead. “We—”
The young man joined her seconds later, face down. Ayen could barely contain his glee.
“J-J-June,” the woman stammered, lifting her head slightly. “a-a-and this is Rolf.”
Rolf dipped his head even further in acknowledgement. “Please, My Lord! Don’t smite us!”
“Smite you?” Ayen laughed. “Surely you are not here, in this sacred clearing, on this day, by accident.”
Only the briefest of pauses. “We are ignorant, oh Lord of Wood!”
Ayen had to bite down hard on his knuckle to keep from blowing it. “This is a holy day, for it is the day of my rebirth!”
“My… My Lord?” June said.
“Rejoice!” Their heads rose an inch as the Half-Elf began to walk around them. “You shall carry my heir within you for two winters.”
“She’s gonna be pregnant for two years?” Rolf cried. June trembled beside him.
“Of course not,” Ayen said jovially. “No daughter of man could bear my childe.”
They both calmed significantly. At first. Ayen chuckled as he watched June turn slowly toward Rolf, realization hitting her first.
“What?!” Rolf cried. “No!” They stared at each other for several long seconds while Ayen continued to circle them. The soft grass felt good between his toes. Rolf’s eyes darted over her shoulder, catching sight of the Half-Elf’s semi-erection, and he whimpered. “No… June, please! I can’t!”
“I can’t help you, tadpole!” she said earnestly. “Who are we to defy a god?” She half turned and paused. “You are a god, right?”
Ayen, remembering a treatise he’d read on how to respond to this exact situation, nodded firmly and said “Yes.”
“You know I think this is hot,” June said, as they both sat back on their heels.
“Juuuuune!” Rolf hissed, but June kept right on going.
“I’ve been trying to get you to have sex with another man for months so I could watch.”
“This is not the time!”
“This is exactly the time,” she said joyfully.
“Are you sure she can’t handle this?” Rolf asked, turning to Ayen.
“Nay,” he boomed. “Her delicate, feminine frame cannot withstand the rigors my seed will inflict upon you. The Fates have sent me a worthy carrier, truly, and I am pleased.” Ayen had no idea how he was still keeping a straight face.
“Fuck,” Rolf cried. His eyes locked onto Ayen’s still-hardening cock, and he swallowed hard. “Fuck,” he repeated, much softer.
Ayen loved that reaction. It always made him swell with pride. Next to Rolf, June was already flushing, the pale skin of her chest and bosom turning bright pink. Her hands rested on her thighs, but her fingers itched to slide down between them. She was waiting for her moment, so Ayen gave her one.
Two quick strides put him right in front of Rolf. The young human’s eyes crossed staring at the tip of his cock. Ayen tucked a finger underneath his chin and directed him upward. The young man, once standing, was nearly as tall as he. Ayen grinned as he leaned in and planted a soft kiss on Rolf’s surprised lips. June whimpered beside them.
The kiss lingered, Rolf’s lips clinging longer than he would have thought. The rugged Human even leaned into it after a few seconds. He tilted his head slightly, lips parting, and found his new plaything surprisingly compliant. In his mind, Ayen did backflips.
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