Cannon Fodder

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(for now!)




Orc captain Gurz thrust his long axe down on the villager, splitting his skull. Blood spewed onto his thighs. He pulled his axe out of the peasants head and licked the blood off the axe. There was an electrical tingle in his body as the blood of the innocent surged through his veins. He looked to his squadron of Orcs. All of them had lived through the sacking—even Weeze had survived with blood dribbling on his scimitar to prove he had killed at least one man. “It’s official,” Gurz said. “We sacked an entire town without one of us dying, but as soon as we go up against friends of the Chosen One, we’re slaughtered. We can’t even knick them on the arm!”

“Imagine what it’ll be like in the Final Battle, Gurz,” Weeze said in his nasally voice that always made Gurz wince. He tightened his grip on his long axe. “Tasshai is coming—the one battle that decides all battles. The Chosen One himself will be there. At least that’s what my cousin says—”

“Somebody shut him up!” the Orc captain bellowed, and Malek, his best marksmen, notched, drew and fired his black arrow through Weeze’s neck. There was a moment of shock on Weeze’s face—his last expression before crumpling to the ground. For a while, the only sound was the sizzling of the huts they’d set on fire.

“We need to survive Tasshai, Gurz,” Malek said.

Gurz turned aside. He had heard the tales the Elves spread—Elves were quite fond of tales—always they, the Men and the Dwarfs fought Orcs, and always the Orcs lost. The long lived Elves always had knack for remembering tales, and they told them well. He had spied many an Elf telling their tales of Orc-slaying before he killed them as brutally as he possibly could.

If the tales were to be believed, it was impossible for any Orc to survive the Final Battle. “We’re doomed. Tasshai will come, and all of us will die.”

“What do we do?” Malek asked.

“There’s only one thing to do when you know you’re going to die—you leave as much of a stain on the world as you can.” He looked to each Orc in turn, as if measuring their intentions. “Do you think you can do that?”

“AYE,” the Orcs shouted as one. They bared their fangs and clashed black swords and black shields together. (Gurz had always thought it odd his master only had enough supplies to make everything black for them. He had asked for blue once, but nope—just black. That was all his master had for all the Orcs in the land.)

“Then follow me, boys!” the Orc captain said, “We’ll do as much damage as we can! We’ll go after women and we’ll kill children, and when Tasshai comes, people will speak of Gurz the Terrible, and they will remember him and his squadron!”

A triumphant roar took on the crowd of Orcs.

“Do you wish to survive?” Gurz asked.


“Then follow me!”

Gurz led them out of the village. Many nearly stumbled over the dead bodies. They heaved weapons and jogged across plains. Some raced each other with yellow-fanged snarls embedded on their lips. The hulking monsters would have been easy to spot as a mass, but Gurz was careful to lead them away from Men, Elves and Dwarfs. If there was even the slightest chance that one of them might know the Chosen One or any of his friends, his entire squadron was doomed.

They had to run. They had to make their mark on the world.

Tasshai, the Final Battle, was coming. Orc Captain Gurz the Terrible knew he would die in that Final Battle. But he’d be more damned than he already was if he would go down without leaving his mark on the land.

Halfway to the first village past the endless line of plains, Gurz spotted two Halflings. They ran perpendicular to the Orce horde, and when the Halflings potted the horde, both drew their swords.

Gurz held up a hand to drive his company to a halt. “What have we here?” He said, “Two Halflings a little too far from home.”

The first one stepped forward, his sword aimed for Gurz’s crotch. “I warn you now, Orc- breed, you meddle in affairs beyond your control.”

In a mocking tone, Gurz said, “You know not what you do. Blah, blah, blah—get it over with! To where do you wander?”

“We have a dark object to destroy,” the second Halfling said, “And you shall not get in our way.”

Gurz smiled, exposing rotted teeth and fangs. “Kill them,” he said.

What happened next was a blur to Gurz. There was steel flashing, and limbs were hacked off one by one. Swords were being stabbed and steel was flying.

“Kill them!” Gurz shouted! “Kill them now!”

The Halflings were fast—too fast for any one Orc to catch. They fell one by one. The grass had been stained so that it now looked entirely red.

“Retreat!” Gurz called. “Retreat!”

The Orc horde rushed off, and the Halflings went on their way. Their hairs were damp with blood as if they had just taken a bath in it. It looked as if the ground itself had wretched up organs.

Gurz did not stop running until the Halflings were out of sight.

When the survivors were around a fire, they sat in silence, listening to the fire’s cackle. Malek was the first to speak. “They were friends of the Chosen One.”

“I know,” Gurz said, “If they weren’t we’d have mowed them down. You know that.”

“Why didn’t we go to the village?” an Orc asked.

Gurz hacked spit into the fire. It sizzled and billowed for a moment, before returning to normal. “Odds are they trained the men and women in those cities. We’d all be slaughtered if we went in there.”

“Then what do we do from here?”

“We run, squadron,” he said, addressing all of them. “We run—we pillage and attack. We leave no one alive. It is as I said, an Orc must make his mark on the world before he meets a man of the Chosen One. This, all, we must do.”

More silence.

“Those Halflings didn’t even say a word,” Malek said. “Did you see their eyes—they looked...gleeful.”

“I’ll bet they were,” Gurz said. “They get to kill us—why wouldn’t they be gleeful? We’re cannon fodder. We exist to be mowed down by the forces of good.”

“But we’re better trained!” an Orc said.

“We have better tactics!”

“We outnumber them ten to one!”

They’re the good guys!” Gurz shouted. “The good guys always win. Have you never listened to an Elf’s tale? Th Tasshai has happened three ages before ours, and the forces of good have won each time. It’s only a matter of time until our final battle comes. And with it, all will come to ruin. We have to make our mark. Somebody must remember us.” Gurz stood, looking at each of them in turn. “That’s the only thing we can do in this situation. Pillage. Rape. Murder. Do whatever it takes to be remembered as an Orc.” With that, he moved his axe aside and laid down. “Get some sleep. We'll need it for the morning.”

The light of the fire licked his reddish- black flesh. He growled in his sleep and one hand tightened on his axe. Half of his Orc squadron had been demolished by the Chosen One and his friends. Sleep was all he had.

He dreamed of his birth in the pits of Barad Yuen.

He had climbed out of hot tar and muck growling and screaming. A man in black watched him, and though he could not see his face, he could sense him smiling.

Gurz stood there for a long while, wading in the pool of boiling muck. The man in black’s voice was surprisingly sweet for one with such a sinister countenance. “Well, are you going to just stand there, or are you going to come out of that pit?”

The muck was thick, making for a slow ascent from the pool, but after wading through it for what felt like eternity—for he had not concept of time—he climbed out, dripping with tar and lava. Steam wisped from his body in thin curls. He growled.

“An Elf goes in,” the man in black said, “And an Orc comes out. Welcome, Gurz, to this world of Mid-Realm.”

Gurz’s speech was as thick as the contents of the pool he waded through. “Miiiddd-Reeeaalllmm.”

“Yes,” the man in black cooed, “Good. Mid-Realm. Come,” with a swirl of his cloak the man in black turned and strode for a doorway Gurz had not noticed. The door opened with a creak and Gurz followed, still dripping wet with the burning liquids. It slid down his legs like rain on a roof.

On the other side of the door was a desk strewn with papers and writings mottled with ink. The man in black sat down at the chair on the far side of the desk. He outstretched his palm toward a chair opposite him. “Sit down. We have much to discuss.”

Gurz obeyed. His arse fell so heavily into the chair it almost cracked in two. He wiped his brow clean of the muck.

“Now, I’ll need you to sign a contract?”

“What contract?”

“Oh, you’re already getting better at talking. Now, I need a contract saying that, should anything happen to you—your family will be reimbursed for the damages inflicted upon you and all other items you own.”

Gurz did not remember having a family, but then again, he didn’t remember much of anything at all. The only thing he remembered before falling into the pit was the face of the man in black. All he saw beneath that hood was a thin- lipped smile.

With surprising delicacy, the man in black plucked a paper from the pile in what looked to Gurz to be at random. He examined the markings on the paper.

By singing this contract, [name below] shall relinquish his soul to his master, the Mage. In doing so, he relinquishes all free will and will allow the Mage to control his every whim. Including but not limited to: A rising urge to kill, anger, fury, more killing, et al.

But Gurz couldn’t read. “Looks fine,” he said, turning the paper this way and that. “Where do I sign?”

The man in black handed him a quill dripping with ink. “Sign your name: Gurz on the line at the bottom.” He must have seen the momentary look of doubt that flicked across Gurz’s face. “I assure you, Gurz, I run a very legitimate business. No cons, whatsoever. Sign it and you won’t regret it.

Gurz took the pen and in a hand that was more equipped for a battle axe than a sword he wrote:

Gurz—Orc Captain

“Now, about your armor,” the man in black said, “You’ll be equipped with the finest black armor, blades and the like that money or magic can conjure up.”

“Black?” Gurz said, “I’ve always been a fan of blue.” At least he thought he was. “Sky blue—do you have that?”

“No, no, no,” the man in black said, “We only equip our Orcs with black, here. Black for the finest Orcs Mid-Realm has to offer! I mean can you imagine? An army charging with sky blue blades and sky blue armor? The enemy would die laughing.” As an aside, the man in black added, “Then again, that would do the trick…” He shook his head. “No! Black is what we have and black you shall get. Ready yourself, Orc Captain Gurz. You will meet your squadron soon.”

Gurz snapped awake with a jolt. He had met his squadron, and by now most of them were dead. The only one he could still count among the Orcs he knew by name was his best archer, Malek. As his consciousness expanded, he saw that Malek had drawn a black arrow to his cheek. He stroked the feather and aimed. “What are you doing?” Gurz asked.

“There are men on the horizon.”

“Men of the Chosen One?”

“No. Just men.” He was silent for a time, staring down the shaft of his arrow. “Wait...”

“What is it?”

“Hush, now,” Malek said, “We’ve had a remarkable stroke of luck!”

“Explain, commander,” Gurz said.

“How fortuitous—” he cast a thick finger out onto the plains. “The Chosen One has fallen straight into our laps. We can kill him while he isn’t looking!”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Gurz said.

“Would you like to explain to the Dark Lord how you failed to kill the Chosen One?”

Gurz grunted, but said nothing. “I want everyone to hide.”

“But—” an Orc began.


And so the hulking fang- toothed killing machines all spread out to look for something big enough for cover. Gurz heard the drumbeat of a horse’s hooves. Two horses, by the sound of things. And who else would happen to come by but the Chosen One and his Elf friend.

“I’m just saying, you should have told me to bring a thicker cloak! Winter is coming, for the sake of the gods! I could catch a cold and die, and the Final Battle would never be won.”

The Elf narrowed her eyes at the Chosen One. “Excuse me for being immortal. I don’t get colds, so I didn’t think to tell you it was cold outside. Where are we going, anyway?”

“We’re going to find a nice, quiet place to have sex.”

Did—did they not notice the bodies?

The Elf warrior pressed her chin towards her neck and gazed at the Chosen One. “What makes you think I’ll have sex with you?”

“Because I’m the Chosen One!” The Chosen One laughed. “Have I told you how many Orcs I've slaughtered?”

Gurz ground his teeth and waited.

“For the Chosen One, you’re a huge dick.”

“Have a huge dick.”

“You’re fourteen, aren't you?”

The Chosen One did not rebuke the notion. “Hey! Where in any of the prophecies does it say the Chosen One can’t be a huge dick?”

“Well, I always thought the Chosen One was a nice guy.”

“I am,” the Chosen One laughed again. Gurz couldn't remember the last time he laughed, and this idiot who claimed to be a warrior did so within the same five minutes. He pointed to three of his soldiers. “You three,” he whispered, “Go kill them.”

The Orcs hobbled out from behind the burning hut, weapons at the ready, and let out a battle cry.

With hardly a sideways glance, the Elf warrior took her bow from her shoulder, notched, drew and fired three arrows and the Orcs fell to the ground, dead. “Anyway, you were saying?”

Gurz’s jaw dropped. He didn’t listen to the rest of the conversation, such was his shock. She had just killed three of his best men while hardly looking.

“He was in our lap—we had him right here!” The Orc Captain said. “And he just—gah!”

“We’re fated to die,” Malek said. “Do not mourn their deaths.”

Gurz let out a sigh and let it pass. “Let’s go,” he said, “Across the plains—away from them.”

“Where are we going,” one of the Orcs growled.

“We’ll do what we do best: we’re going to go kill something.”

The Orcs let out whoops and howls that carried into the night, and off they went, in search of ravaging to bring upon the innocent.

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#3  Edited By dngn4774

@primepower53: Bumped, because I'm heading out. I'll try to read this when I get back.