The WallStarted by Araka Blightreaver at Nov 26, 2019 7:38 pm
Dophn 17, 1201 AB
For the longest time it was the only life Araka ever knew. It was an immense wall of stone rumored to be a thousand feet tall. She wasn't sure if it was actually that high, but it was taller than anything else Araka had ever seen. There were stairs, towers, lifts and other climbing measures on the side Araka approached from, and the shouts and calls of the patrollers that manned it stirred a familiar nostalgia in her. The others had gone ahead, leaving Araka and Charlotte to travel the last day or so on their own. Now the slave girl rode on the other wolf--an old but still useful creature.
The wind was cold as they approached, not just cool but a bitter, wintry bite that made the orc wish she'd brought warmer clothing. She hadn't intended for the retrieval to take so long.
"This is probably the last we'll see of each other," Araka said.
Charlotte could never remember being this cold before. There had been plenty of days in her past where the blustery climate was enough to burn her exposed chin and make her shiver. But this cold was bitter and all consumed, permeating through her fur cloak and clothes, seeping into her skin and down to her bones. The slave couldn't help the chattering of her teeth which had begun some time ago and had yet to cease.
Charlotte burries her fingers in the fur of the wolf she rides, hoping to leech some warmth from the beast. She was quiet, barely saying anything as the Wall became closer and closer. This was her final destination and she found herself plagued with anxiety about what was going to happen.
When Araka speaks, Charlee gives her a sideways glance and doesn't answer at first. Perhaps she would think that the slave didn't hear her over the wind. But eventually, her quiet, sweet voice would reach her. "Th-thank you. F-for n-not t-treating me c-cruelly."
Araka gives Charlotte a long and considering look. She is a little caught off-guard by the slave girl's words; the last thing she expected when delivering someone to the Blightwall was thanks. Slaves never returned from here, did they? She'd heard the rumors as they'd gone from outpost to outpost to collect ten. They go there to die. If the orcs don't eat them, the demons will. Araka had snorted aloud the first time she heard that. They thought her Ilarian was less good than it was, or that orcs weren't stupid.
That was their mistake.
The wall was colossal. Towering. She didn't think it was a thousand feet high by any means, but it jutted up into the sky, surrounded by little buildings that looked like children's toys in comparison. Two for the Wall, one for the Blight. Which one won't come home tonight? They'd used to skip rope to that morbid little song between training exercises, until they themselves were old enough to not come home at all. Throkk wasn't coming home. No one had said so, but she knew why her mother sent her away. it was a distraction--to give her something to do besides stare out into the hellfields. Throkk and then Father and how many others. Ten? Twenty? Disappearances were more common now, and the fiendish screams in the night were louder. The warriors went out and the others whispered. What had changed in the months they'd been gone? Who else was dead, and who alive?
And how did she feel about being rid of Charlotte? She was the only female among the ten slaves that marched. They'd considered others, but found them inadequate--with child, needed, skilled. But not Charlotte. Something about Araka made her increasingly uncomfortable. Was it the way that red hair fell around her face? Her agreeable nature? Those first moments, where she'd defied authority and been struck back into a wall? She didn't know.
"You've done nothing to earn it," she replied. "I...think you'll be alright here. It doesn't have to be a bad place for you. You can't fight, so they won't send you past one of the garrisons."
The bruising from that initial strike when Charlotte had first spoke out was nearly gone now, only the slightly twinge of yellow stained her skin and it was only visible in certain lights when she tilted her head just so. To be truthful, Charlee isn't sure why she thanked Araka either; only that after seeing the way those two girls had been treated in the tavern, she couldn't help but feel grateful.
The slave turns her attention back towards the wall and falls silent as a rather robust gale of wind throws her unruly locks around her face. She shifts on the back of her wolf and tries to pull her furs a bit more tightly around her body. "What do you think will become of me?" she asks in a quiet, vulnerable voice. She had not intended to sound so meek, so afraid of the unknown, but Araka hadn't lied to her throughout this journey, she didn't think this would be any different.
Araka considered Charlotte's question while the wolf shifted its weight under her. Off in the distance, one orc called to another. The Wall was so close she could almost smell the often humid air around it and the scents of people mixed with animals mixed with a deeper, lower scent Araka couldn't place. It didn't come from any one place exactly.
Or maybe it did. It came from the Blight. The sun was high in the sky but obscured by thick and heavy clouds. The storm had followed them down from the mountains, promising ill weather with every day of distance traveled. Araka tried not to think about it; she didn't want to be caught out in the wrath of winter. There wasn't much time left, though. THey could be there by nightfall at this pace.
"I don't know," she admitted. "I never really paid a lot of attention to what they did with slaves. You won't end up like those two elf girls--my mother doesn't allow that kind of thing here. She says it's against the will of Akor and leaves people succeptible to corruption. They don't let people have sex with slaves or let people whore themselves here. She's probably right. The demons are insidious. They're always looking for a way in." She looked sidelong at Charlotte. "You're young enough they might marry you to someone, but you'll probably just be given a job like everyone else has to do and go from there." The orc shrugged. "We'll find out soon enough."
The closer they get to the wall, the more Araka focuses on their destination and the less she speaks and pays attention to Charlotte. This place is a world of its own, a bastion, a stronghold. For so many years it was all Araka had ever known. Most orcs didn't raise their children here, but her mother had become chieftain when Araka was young, and the chieftain had to stay where she was most needed. The Blight had been quiet for most of her life, but her mother hadn't sheltered her from the realities of life there. She'd seen wounded warriors carried in by the warpriests, missing limbs, burned, screaming. she'd heard the stories the elders told about the hellbeasts that skulked the old human ruins beyond the trees and other, darker things. Whispered things. Mighty Akor, may we do them harm so they can do none to us. She could hear the chanting in her sleep.
Her first foray into the lands beyond felt strange after a life there. Part of her knew--or wondered, if they hadn't needed workers at all and her mother had just sent her north to be rid of her for awhile--rid of her and her worry after Father and Throkk never returned with their scouting parties. Maybe they were dead, and she wanted to grieve alone, to be needed by one less person for a little while. Maybe she didn't want Araka to need her at all. All of her other siblings were married, fighting, had families of her own. The thought made Araka uncomfortable. A couple of others had expressed interest in her, but she'd never reciphrocated it.
The road widened, and there was a scattering of buildings up ahead. Two of them were barracks, one an armory, and the other a meeting hall of some kind. Orcs milled about, but didn't pay any mind to them as she and Charlotte rode past. None of them were people she recognized, but she was surprised to see a group dressed in whtie. Even their faces were wrapped up in fabric, so that all she could see was their eyes. A chill ran down her spine. Only one clan dressed that way.
"Don't talk to them," she said to Charlotte, nodding towards the group. "They don't like humans. I don't want you getting hurt." The Bleeding Sun were strange, fanatical isolationists that lived beyond the Great River in the desert. They claimed it brought them closer to Akor, but Araka wasn't sure if that was true or not. Surely their hardship couldn't be worse than a year at the wall. "There's different clans here. You can tell who's who by what color they wear mostly. Ours are gray. The white ones are Bleeding Sun--they're from the desert. Blackbloods are red, Stormfangs are green, Embertrees are different green, Starsingers are purple, ahh..." Deathhowl, what color were they? "Maybe you shouldn't talk to anyone here that doesn't talk to you."