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From Feasts of Flesh to Blossoming [M]eadows

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Offline EvilCopepod

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The forest was large and overgrown, the once busy paths that ran through it were now sprouting grass and fungi, only deer tracks remained on what was once marked with wagon wheels. In the center of the woods was what was once a small town, but it was long abandoned, many of its buildings crushed and broken, the rest with doors flung wide open, wildlife strolling in and out of them like it was part of the forest. Just beyond the village was a large property with a stone castle in the middle. It looked like the forest was trying to reclaim it as well, ivy creeping up the stone wall and iron gates, but it was clearly lived in as there was a light in one of the castle's upper windows, and there was livestock wandering about grazing what little grass still remained in their enclosed space.

The castle was covered in growth as well, moss and some ivy, though all in reach of the cattle had been eaten off the building, much of it creeping through the cracking and weathered bricks. The gate wasn't locked, only latched to keep the animals from leaving, and there was no one to stop Enzo from entering down the cobbled path which lead to the great wooden door, which was also left unlocked. The interior didn't look much better, although there wasn't the invasion of plants, there was plenty of dust and cobwebs, along with masses of deep gashes in the tile flooring, like it had been assaulted repeatedly with a blade.

As soon as the door was opened, three loud and sharp barks came from within the castle, which was soon followed by the sound of nails clicking upon the tiles as something came down the upper stairs. The bark didn't seem to match the beast, as a very small dog with oddly long and straight hair stood upon the landing, appearing more like a wig than a canine, but the area around its eyes was trimmed, so it spotted Enzo standing at the door and began to bark again with more ferocity. The lhasa apso didn't advance further down the stairs, only barking at the orc and strutting back and forth, its hair bouncing as it stepped.

There was a loud repetitive thumping that grew steadily louder, along with the sound of much larger claws striking the tiles this time, and the dog let out a final bark before growing quiet. Down from the stairs, a large, manlike creature jumped onto the landing as well, standing on all fours above the dog, his dark claws dug into the tile, and he sucked in a deep breath before roaring loudly at the intruder.


Offline the_rabid_rabbit_bites

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The forest seemed to go on forever. Not that that was in any way a bad thing for Mauahurûk-Bashimenz. The orcish shaman had always enjoyed the serenity and calmness of a wild and untamed world, carpeted with grass and moss, and enclosed with shimmering green leaves above. He felt attuned to every burbling brook, flighty deer and dapple of sunlight that made the forest.

He sang to himself as he adjusted his travelling pack, his voice deep and echoing in the trees that closed around the winding deer path his wandering feet had taken him along.

Oh! The grass goes green again!
The grass grows green again!
It will dance and sing, to the tune of spring!
The grass grows green again!


His voice was filled with youthful mirth, for he was not an aged shaman like those who travelled away from the orcish gangs of the Southlands. Instead, he was barely out of his teenage years, with green skin interrupted by deep black tattoos and long black hair had been styled into thick dreadlocks, hanging down a deeply muscled back and ending in a half dozen black beads. He was a rare breed, humanlike in mannerisms and construction of the face, while maintaining the wild and deep running strength and power of the orcs of the scrapyard.
Still, he sang on.
Mother spring she comes to sing!
Mother spring she runs to sing!
Mother spring will kiss and dance and twist!
Mother spring she comes to si – oh…”


His merry tune was cut short as the mossy trees broke. Not to a clearing as he had expected but to an edge. The edge of the grounds of a large, dilapidated castle – why, such a thing was marked on no maps that Enzo had in his possession! He peered at the windows, their stained glass broken, and the ivy that grew in a thick tangled mat over the walls of the ruins.

“Well,” Enzo asked himself, his yellow cat’s eyes widening at the prospect of such an adventure. “What is a like without some adventure? What could have swallowed such a place so completely? We will find out!” Indeed, if there was anything of note, the orc man knew he could get a pretty sum for bringing back any precious metals and jewels to the bazaars of Luthein, and he would be needing more practical supplies soon.

He re-latched the gate as he entered, at first unsure if the animals were feral and making do with the space, or actually owned. Regardless, it seemed a good measure. Entering the castle itself was eerie, laden with foreboding. Enzo wondered briefly if he should leave, for it seemed there had been some activity within its walls recently – violent activity, if the gouges in the floor nad ceiling, and tattered plants were to be believed.

“How curious…” Enzo mumbled to himself, only for the clicking of the small dog’s nails to shake him from his reverie. “Even more curious!” He knelt to extend a hand to the dog, clicking his tongue to call it over, only to be met with the sharp yaps of the little dog.
Then, movement, and Enzo felt his chest twist.

“Oh … I see such a place is … occupied,” He breathed to himself, quickly stepping backward and reaching behind him for his lantern. “I …  I will be going now.” Enzo turned tail to leave, only to see that the huge doors he had wandered through had closed behind him, and his worse fears were confirmed when the orc – huge in stature and strength, could not budge it. He could hear the man – beast? – behind him, advancing, and he had no choice but to turn and face it, brandishing his lantern, the shaggy hair spilling from it dragging on the floor.
“Stay back, if you can!” He called to the slowly advancing man. “I mean no harm! I … I will leave.”


Offline EvilCopepod

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The dog's part of the job was done now, so the creature remained in place as Rikerg skulked down the stairs on all fours toward the orc that was trying to open the door to leave. By now, he usually would have lunged and attacked, not caring if the intruder's back was turned, but despite initially appearing to be a human, Rikerg had his doubts now.

He was much larger than most humans were, he didn't notice the green tinge of his skin yet as his eyes were sharp in the dark but not at picking out colors, but the most telling was his scent. His sense of smell was his most advanced form of interpreting the world, and as Enzo turned around again to hold up his lantern, he would not only hear but see his nostrils flaring as he took in his scent. There was human there, but it was faint, meaning he communed with humans, touched them or possibly only took items from them, but overall he was some other creature which Rikerg had never met.

The snarl fell away from his face as he stood up at his full height of well over three meters. Despite his behavior and beastly movements from before, he was well dressed, he wore a black tunic with a white undershirt that had puffed sleeves as well as black breeches, though he wore no stockings or shoes on account of the blackened substance and claws that would surely shred them. The strangest thing seemed to be that they were perfectly tailored despite his size and proportions even though he lived in what was such a desolate area.

"Apologies." he spoke, his voice deep and gravelly, as if the black substance spreading along his body coated his throat, and given the blackness of his teeth that was not an unreasonable assumption to make. He reached into a sewn pocket on his tunic, delicately extracting a kerchief between two claws and using it to wipe froth from his mouth.

"I mistook you for an intruder." He clearly had a different definition of 'intruder', as that was exactly what Enzo was. "You are not unwelcome here." Then, without thinking if it was polite or not to ask, he continued. "What sort of creature are you?"


Offline the_rabid_rabbit_bites

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Enzo’s shaking stilled. The lantern was still held like a barrier between them, but it no longer quivered. The clicking of various beads, carved pieces of wood, bones, teeth and tusks woven into its thick black length subsided. He was thoroughly confused – somehow, he was not an intruder, despite having no invitation and entering without permission.

His eyes narrowed. “An … intruder? Were you expecting … a hostile guest…?” He allowed himself to ask a question he too had to ponder if it was a rude question or not. But he had realised quickly the creature was no longer hostile. Indeed, the whole appearance of him was congruous with a beast that would tear him limb from limb – but the details, the details described a character that was not as simple as a beast.


Firstly, the little dog, now standing behind its master, silent but alert – well groomed and seemingly well fed. The impeccable tailoring and care in his clothing. Enzo hesitantly lowered his lantern. “I … I am glad to hear,” He said quietly. How should he even respond? There was little that could remedy the shock and fear that had been instilled in him, and he turned to try the door again, hoping it was unlocked.
It wasn’t, and Enzo leaned against it, hearing the almost curious query from the  - man? Beast? Behind him.

“I … I am an orc, a war shaman from the Junklands,” he began carefully, sneaking a glance at the … the man? From the corner of his eye.

The sunlight trickling in from a window caught it, causing it to gleam green like animal eyeshine. “I have been travelling for some time.”
Enzo stood up, his tail twitching as he did so. He did not feel and coiling energy from the man, and it gave him a moment to furrow his brow, thinking of a way to get out of the situation, now he had been cornered. Finally, he turned, looking the creature in the face, taking in his frothing mouth and features. “My name is Enzo. Who are you? How did you come to live here?”


Offline EvilCopepod

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"Yes. I usually am." His last non-hostile guest was long ago, they were always by accident, but far more humans were becoming aware of the dangers of coming so deep into the woods, and even more knew not to approach the castle. The kind of purposely hostile humans that came varied, a knight or a group of them come to slay him, or sometimes even common men come to try and save the other villagers he had dragged from their homes on one of his raids.

The small animal was perplexed as well, as even when non-hostile humans stumbled upon the castle, Rikerg usually dispatched them quickly, or at least captured them. He had never talked to them civilly like this, and it was a change in the routine that the dog wasn't fond of, as she still saw Enzo as an intruder in the home. She let out a small huff of a bark, as if to remind her master that this was someone that didn't belong, but he didn't react to her warning.

Rikerg didn't notice that Enzo was attempting to leave, his attention was taken by the many strange details about the orc, especially the lantern. He had never seen one with hair, he could understand if it was simply decorated with a few strands but it appeared larger than many creatures. He tilted his head to the side as Enzo said what he was, examining the other again.

"You are not at all like what I have read about." From what he'd read, an orc would have readily accepted his challenge and fought with him, or more likely come in a horde to try and overtake his castle. This one was eager to retreat, and Rikerg considered him to be very polite and well-spoken, not at all like the grunts, snarls, and shouts they'd been written to speak like. "Are all orcs like you?" he asked, willing to disregard what he had read.

"You must be weary then." Rikerg still wasn't catching on to the other's unease, rather he thought that Enzo would like to stay and rest. He was used to others not wanting to look upon his features, so he took no offense to Enzo looking away from him and was somewhat surprised when he looked him in the eyes to speak with him.

"It is good to meet you, Enzo. I am Rikerg." He had to take a moment to recall how he had come to this place, "It was abandoned when I found it, I was traveling long as well without a home." There had been many homes he had come across, most occupied and most too small, but this empty castle had suited him fine despite the growth from the woods having already starting to turn it green. Without asking, he reached a claw out to run it through the hair from the lantern, too curious to resist touching the oddity.