It was the middle of the night when they attached the human town. Bertamuth looked on as he had his followers burn, kill, and loot the town. He scowled. It would be a long day. As a general, he need not fight. Just monitor but every so often, one would try to escape and he would slash them down with his axe or stamp them out with his foot. He did not like violence, but it was in his blood and even he could not deny the stir of excitement as he walked the screams and ash filled the air.
He reached the largest dwelling in the town. The leaders would always be there. Huddled and crying while their people died beyond their marble walls. Bertamuth slashed down the door with one swing and stepped inside. He laughed. They had taken refuge in the foyer of all places.
“What are you doing??” one of them cried. It was a female. He crouched down and roared at her. She cried.
“What did we tell you the last time?” he said.
“But...I haven’t been able to...to have any children,” she sobbed. The man, held her close.
“Then you should have come yourself, now the deaths of your village rests on your soul,” he said grabbing her and pulling her outside. She sobbed as she saw the destruction before her.
“I’ll go…” she said. “I’ll go...please just stop.”
Bertamuth took a goat’s horn from his side and blew into it. A deep sound reverberated from it and the orcs and demons left the city. One of his soldiers took the human into custody and he went back inside.
The male was still huddled in the foyer.
“If you want power, it comes at a price. We will overlook this but there will not be a second chance. I’ll be letting Ethir know. The agreement still stands unless you hear otherwise,” Bertamuth said before leaving. The man crumbled to the ground in tears.
Bertamuth strode through the city. Some of the buildings were crumbled. The humans were allowed to flee. His second in command came to his side.
“Sir...why are we leaving?” Haut asked.
“Our work is done,” he said.
“But...the humans are still alive?”
“We didn’t come here for needless murder. We came to collect one soul. We’ve done that and now it’s time to leave,” he said gruffly.
“But...the men…” Haut said. Destruction and bloodshed was in their blood. By rights, they should have taken the city. Bertamuth roared, the sound reverberating the very ground.
“Any who wishes to challenge me, are welcome to meet their death,” he said. There was no one to challenge Bertamuth the Regretful today. His last challenger was still unable to walk. He never killed his challengers, just made them wish they were dead. It made the stories all the more enriching because deadmen told no tales at all.
Two days into their journey, the human fell ill. Whether from grief or an ailment, he did not know. He assigned a few of the more humanoid looking demons to care for her. Orc medicine would do her no good. At least the demons had some experience amongst their kind.
“Sir. Can we just kill her. She won’t shut up,” Haut asked him after a few days. Though the human had gotten better, she would not stop crying. He could not understand such beings. She was a prisoner of war. She should take her sentence with honor. Bertamuth sighed.
“No. We can not kill her. Unless you would like to go in her place, go soothe her somehow. Humans are like younglings, give her something to play with, sing her a song. I don’t care but no one is to kill her,” he said growing more annoyed by the day.
During the Fall, a deal was struck between demons and some of the remaining humans. In exchange for protection, they were to provide a soul, in each generation to their protectors. 56 bloodlines. 56 souls each generation. The orcs however, were merely there to enforce the deal. Though the price for failure was grand and Bertamuth would not put his own kind at risk for such stupid creatures. The demons, were there to keep an eye on them.
“I tried what you said,” Haut said after a couple of days. “She is like a youngling. She didn’t care for the song, but I told her a story about my first killing and she quieted down shortly afterwards,” he went on, quite pleased with himself.
“Good, keep doing that. I can’t stand the sobbing.” Bertamuth said.
They reached a river not so long after. It was deep and rapid. They would have to swim across. Or it would be about 3 days travel out of their way. He thought for a moment. He could carry the human. With care, they could get everything across in one trip. It was good he decided against bringing horses. It was decided and he threw the human over his shoulder but not before growling at her to behave.
He had some of his people go first. They had a little difficulty but they were able to get across well enough. When it was his go, he realized he would need both of his arms to swim.
“You will hold tight or you will die in this river,” he said. She nodded with widened eyes. He swam, trying to be gentle as to not toss her from his shoulders but strong enough to not be swept away. When he was halfway, he felt her let go. He swore as she downstream. She chose death to servitude and though he could respect it, she would not be dying that day. Her body quickly went down river and he swam with the tide to catch up to her. He caught up to her, and held her close to his body. He looked around, he could no longer see his comrades and as he was being swept away, he looked for anything he could grab hold of. There was nothing as they were traveling through a ravine. Fighting the current would do him no good, nor did he know where the river would lead. Yet it swept him along anyway. When they arrived at a bank, Bartamuth knew it was his chance
but before he could turn himself in the water, he slammed into a rock. His head knocked against it and his last thought was that it definitely would be a long day.