Fantasy Speculative

The two orcs marched along the narrow road, tattered chainmail clicking and battered wooden shields clacking, as they made their way up a steep hill. Crossbows were slung across their backs beside quivers jammed full of crudely-made arrows, fletched with the feathers of ravens as black as the night. Longswords and daggers hung in frayed sheaths on their worn belts and their threadbare clothes were filthy and stained.

At the top of the hill they stopped to rest, sweat beaded on their green-skinned faces in the hot autumn sun. The larger of the two poured the last contents of his water skin down his throat and then watched the last few drops dribble out and fall to the ground as he shook the container repeatedly.

“Iz empty brudder,” insisted the smaller orc. He popped the cork on his water skin. He shook the air from it. “Az iz dis one. Dare iz a river in da valley juz past da woods.”

“I turst!” demanded Ogrim. He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his grungy sleeve. “Waz dat?” he pointed to the tree line ahead.

Nakk shrugged and put his hand to his brow to block the sun. “Dunno?”

The two continued along the path and soon they could see a small, three-sided, wooden shack in the distance next to the road. White smoke rolled out of every opening and the wind carried the smells of food and drink. The orcs looked at each other and grinned. Hunger and thirst quickened their pace.

The orcs approached with caution, swords drawn, ready for a fight. The open side of the structure had a long counter and stools. Behind the bar were pots and kettles of every size and shape, smoking over flickering fires. Sacks of moldy fruit were stacked about swarming with bees and horseflies. A rack of hanging mugs sat on the counter next to a wooden bowl heaped full of stale, moldy bread. A sign hung above the counter that read: Lurt’s Cafe.

Nakk reached for the bowl of bread, his mouth watering. Just as he touched the hardened crust with his fingertips something sprang up from behind the counter. He jumped back in shock and by reflex, his sword came down with a chop that lodged the blade in the counter and it slipped from his grip. 

“Greetings and welcome to Lurt’s Cafe!”, exclaimed the little, green-skinned, wart covered goblin from behind the counter. He was aged with wisps of white hair and his smile showed rotten and broken teeth. He reached out for a hand shake with one hand and adjusted his raggedy cap with the other. His clothes were torn and dirty, but mostly covered by his badly worn apron. His nose crumpled a bit when the smell of the orcs assaulted his nostrils, but he said nothing to offend. “Welcome! Welcome!”

Nakk quickly replaced his surprise with anger. “Youz bout made me piss my breeches, fool goblin!”, he barked. 

“Please forgive!” Lurt begged as he bowed. “Take a seat. Taste my new fall flavors! Fill your bellies with bread my friends! All here are welcome guests!” he concluded with an evil snickering.

Ogrim pushed his brother aside and took a seat on one of the stools, stuffing his mouth with moldy bread. “Waz ta drink?” he asked, pieces of partially chewed and soggy bread spraying from his thick, green lips.

Nakk pried his sword from the counter, but he did not return it to the sheath, instead he left it on the counter within easy reach. He warily took a seat beside his brother. “Youz ‘eard ‘im, waz ta drink?”

You are in luck. I now have all my new flavors available.” Lurt snapped his fingers and an ill-kept and overweight female goblin appeared from behind him, seemingly out of nowhere just as he had done. “My wife will prepare the first two samplers with haste. Now tell me, where does your path take you today?”

Laughing boisterously, Ogrim again spewed lumps of bread from his mouth, “Nah, she iz ugly!”

Nakk backhanded his brother in the chest with a thud and a clinking of chainmail, “Youz bein’ rude. Juz be glad youz don’t hast to share ‘er bed.” He turned to Lurt and smiled reassuringly, “Brudder meanz no ill, little goblinz, wez not gonna take ‘er from ya.”

Ogrim added with all sincerity, “Might kill ‘er dough. Shez rough on da eyes.” 

“Juz ignore ‘im,” Nakk explained leaning into the counter with a whisper, “been hit in da ‘ead one too many time.” He took a chunk of bread in his hand and continued, “Wez huntin’. In da valley, yaz know… for unicornz. Wez seen the curve color bows in da sky over da valley affer it rainz. Meanz Iz time to hunt ‘em. Dey horns iz worth a pile a gold.” He smiled and winked at the goblin.

Lurt’s wife, Elza shuffled over to the counter and set two steaming mugs down in front of her husband. She stared at the orcs with the dirtiest of looks, which made her look even less attractive, and she saw them cringe in revulsion. She shuffled back to the pots and kettles with a satisfied grin on her face.

Lurt slid the first cup to Nakk. “This one I call Pumpkin Slice.” With an ear to ear grin he continued, “Try it.”

Nakk grabbed the mug and gulped a mouthful of the hot, smelly liquid. He swished it in his mouth to cool it and then down it went. With a strange look on his face, he opened his mouth, reached his fingers in and pulled out something shiny and covered in blood. He stuck out his tongue and it was covered with sharp, shiny slivers. 

Ogrim burst with laughter. 

Nakk pulled another razor-sharp bit of metal from his tongue and he erupted in laughter too. “Iz good!” he exclaimed, wiping the blood from his lips.

“Oh, yes! I only blend the best ingredients to please the palate. It is your own blood, you see, mixed with the rotting pumpkins that creates such a wonderful flavor,” Lutz explained. “Now this one is Apple Wormwood.” He pushed the second mug to Ogrim after stirring the drink with a gnarly dark brown piece of wood and placing it on the counter. 

Ogrim stared into the mug and was sure that he had seen something moving in the steamy liquid, but he quaffed the brew in one gulp with more regard for his thirst than his health. After a brief pause to savor the flavor, the orc flinched in pain. “Iz bitin’!” he screamed, sticking out his tongue. Plump, white maggots clung to the fleshy appendage in several places, their vicious mandibles dug in deep. 

Nakk, still picking slivers out of his tongue, howled and grabbed his belly, nearly rolling off his stool. 

Ogrim joined in, laughing hysterically while still holding out his tongue. Tears welled in his eyes as the worms continued biting everywhere inside his mouth. “I feelz ‘em! In my belly!” he cried.

Lurt piped in, “Indeed! That one is made from a blend of rotting crab apples from a wormwood tree. And, as you may know,” he paused, looking at their blank stares, “or not... fire hornets lay their eggs in those apples and the larva is what gives it that robust flavor. Of course, the trick is to drink it quickly... before it drinks you!” he laughed.

Elza appeared behind Lurt and set two more steaming mugs on the counter then shuffled away.

“Okay, now this is my best! I dare not tell how it is made or what’s in it. If the secret gets out, you understand, it would ruin my business.” He slowly slid the mugs across the counter, one to each orc. “I call this one… Maple Misery.” His voice was almost a whisper. “You will want for no other drink after tasting this one, I promise you,” he smiled with a treacherous snicker.

The orcs raised their glasses and toasted to the success of their future unicorn hunt. Both gulped down the beverages and then sat there waiting for whatever comical trick the goblin had in store for them with this flavor. Nothing happened.

“Whaz init?” asked Nakk. “Iz sweet.”

Lurt leaned in close and talked softly. “I will tell you, but you must swear to tell none. Promise me that you will carry my secret to the grave.”

Both orcs nodded in agreement and listened intently.

“The sweetness is from a sacred tree found only in the kingdom of Rhylaria. It is called the Maple Tree by the men that dwell there. It is that sweet flavor that masks the bitterness of the misery.”

Ogrim gripped the counter with one hand and he rubbed his chest with the other.

“Telz us!” Nakk demanded. “Whaz the misery?” He sat for a moment waiting for an answer from the goblin. His eyes glazed and he gasped for air a moment before falling backward off his stool.

Ogrim fell forward and his head crashed onto the counter.

“Well boys, the misery is the dust of the black shade mushrooms that grow nearby. You see it paralyzes you, rendering you completely helpless, but you still hear and see and feel everything right to the end.” Lurt came around the counter and poked them with his bony fingers to make sure they had succumbed to the poison. Ogrim fell to the ground with a thud, eyes staring. “Stupid orcs.” He kicked them both again and then yelled to his wife, “They are ready Elza.”

The goblins' wife joined her husband. She kicked Ogrim hard between the legs and spat on his face as she bent close to him, “At least I won’t be rough on your eyes much longer!” She cackled like a bird and kicked him again.

Lurt and his wife drug the orc bodies around behind the shack. They stripped them of anything of worth and piled the valuables in a covered cart. They took their time removing the orc’s heads with a dull saw and then placed the trophies in large sacks, laughing all the while. The goblin couple rolled the bodies off a cliff into a ravine where they landed in a pile of other headless orc corpses at the bottom.

Lurt looked to his wife and grinned, “I guess they were too dumb to know that to the soldiers of Rhylaria, orc heads are worth a pile of gold! This has been a very profitable season this year.” He and his wife walked back to the cafe carrying the two bloody sacks. They smiled as they noticed three more orcs cresting the hill in the distance heading down the road toward the cafe.

October 16, 2020 20:20

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23:58 Oct 29, 2020

This is a very creative interpretation of the prompt! I like the story even if I'm not that familiar with orcs. My husband does know about orcs and he enjoyed your story too. I found myself following along and wanting to know what will happen to them. Well done:)


Ryan Dupont
04:22 Oct 30, 2020

Thank you so much for the kind words Connie!


15:27 Oct 30, 2020

You're welcome keep on writing!


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Kristin Neubauer
16:18 Oct 24, 2020

You write so well, Ryan, that I could see all of this unfolding with the orcs and the misery autumn drinks. Such a creative take on the prompt! The only thing I'd think about is how you write their dialogue. I'm far from an expert, but in writing guidance I've read, they usually suggest to keep away from writing accents phonetically. Rather, they suggest writing indications of how they are speaking/accents around the dialogue. That makes sense to me because as much as I enjoyed your story, I slowed down and lost the flow as I worked my w...


Ryan Dupont
18:04 Oct 24, 2020

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. I appreciate the feedback on the dialogue. I was unsure about doing it that way and decided to try it. I am still undecided. Some people like it, but I think it does slow the flow of the story, maybe too much. I wanted to capture the orc speech patterns and their simple mindedness without hurting the story. Perhaps, someday, I will rework it. Did you notice the part of the story that was meant for you? I had made a previous comment about you swinging the pendulum to the light side an...


Kristin Neubauer
19:37 Oct 24, 2020

Unicorns! Thanks for the hidden reference 😊 Even though the poor orcs were killed, you wrote it so well that I was still chuckling at their struggles with the drinks. It felt like a comical story despite the torture and killing. I have just finished my last paper for school and am hoping I will be able to turn out a story sometime next week!


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Yolanda Wu
05:05 Oct 19, 2020

I love the idea of a cafe that serves drinks to all different kinds of monsters. The story was so interesting and humorous. The beginning with the two orcs, I totally thought they were going to battle, or they were going to kill something, but they just went to a coffee shop, which was a delightful way to diverge from cliches as you have so adequately done in your previous stories. Who says orcs can't just go into a cafe and enjoy themselves. I love the dialogue exchanges between them as well, you wrote the way they speak in an interesting y...


Ryan Dupont
19:47 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you so much Yolanda. I am glad you commented on the dialogue in the story. I struggled with that the most, trying to keep it readable while still showing their eloquence of speech:) Thank you again for taking the time to read my story! Take Care!


Yolanda Wu
21:03 Oct 21, 2020

You're welcome!


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