Written by: Joseph D. Stirling
Penelope sat quietly in the dark. Outside her small room she could hear grunting and thick guttural voices. They were awake now and would be coming for her soon, as they did every morning. She had been taken prisoner almost a year before, enslaved by the vile Orc War band known as Spear Tusks. No one had come for her, no one would. The village had burned and she was likely thought dead, her body lost in the pile of the other hacked up humans.
The door to her room slowly opened, spilling harsh torch light into the darkness. Penelope rose from her bed and neatly pulled the pink frilly covers up over the pillow. She turned to look at Gut Rippa standing in the doorway. He smiled a toothy grin, tusks protruding from his lips.
“Momma, we got da fire burnin’ fo’ ya,” he snorted. “Blood Thirsta is settin’ da table, an’ I made da’ tea.”
“That’s so sweet of you,” she said pulling her robe on and joining him in the hall. “Has Bone Breaka come back from his little raid yet?”
Gut Rippa shook his large head. He stood nearly two feet taller and his bulk filled the hallway as he followed behind Penelope. The rough hewn walls of the cave opened into a wide chamber with sunlight streaming through the cave mouth. A broad table sat in the middle of the space, crude wooden dishes laid out. A roaring blaze set against the far wall where a tiny kettle hung whistling.
Gut Rippa grunted as he ran over and took the dainty thing from its hook, pouring a tiny bit into a cup, spilling hot water on the table. Penelope took several skinned legs from where they hung on a rack, the venison still clinging to the bone, and set them to roasting over the fire.
Outside the cave several orc were stomping through the muddy ground, howling and beating on each other. Penelope took up her large wooden spoon and hitched up the hem of her robe as she made her way to them. Some of the orcs scattered with cries of momma’s comin’ in their wake. Penelope rushed up beside the two fighting and rapped them soundly on each of their heads.
“Bone Sack! Meat Shredda! You boys knock it off, now!” She scolded.
The orks stopped their swinging and stood looking at their feet. “Sorry momma,” they growled in unison.
“You boys know better. Now go wash off that mud and blood for breakfast. That goes for all of you, get cleaned up now.” She smiled as she slopped back through the mud into the cavern.
The two wandered across the muddy ground to the water trough and began rinsing their hands and faces. The rest of the Spear Tusks followed behind them.
Suddenly Bone Breaka burst his way through the crude gate that hung from the ramshackle fencing around the camp. He was bleeding heavily from the stump of his right arm cut off below the elbow. Penelope came running out as Bone Breaka slipped in the mud.
“There, there deary,” she said holding his bruised face. “Did someone get a boo-boo? We’ll fix that right up.”
“Mamma, dey comin’. Dey gutted Skull Choppa an’ Smasha. Oomans wit’ magiks, mamma.”
Penelope stood and looked over the orcs. They sneered and began hooting and growling, waving their mighty swords and axes.
Penelope raised her wooden spoon, “Nobody hurts my boys! Prepare for battle children!”
The Spear Tusks howled, the endless rage of the orcs taking them all. The band of adventurers rushed into the fenced yard. The peerless mage tossed balls of fire and lightning into the roaring orcs. The gleaming paladin swung his great two-handed sword. Bone Sack snatched up the tiny thief that tried sneaking past and ripped his arms from his small body.
Fire took hold of the wooden fence and the blaze was spreading. The orcs hacked into the mage, swarming over him like ants to a sugary snack. The paladin began to glow, the holy power of his righteousness shining like a bright sun. The orcs started to surround him, grunting and drooling.
Through the huge greenish bodies of the mass of orcs, the paladin saw her. Penelope standing in the mouth of the cave. A light breeze tossed her long blonde curls, tugged at the edges of her soft pink robe. He was mesmerized by her beauty and knew at once she must be a prisoner. He felt honor bound to rescue her from such a foul horde.
So enchanted was he in the vision of loveliness, he never noticed she stood behind a great ballista. She yanked hard on the lever and the massive spear flung through the air, skewering the hapless paladin and pinning him to the burning wall. Still dazed, he watched her approach, gliding above the filth as an angel.
She slapped him hard across the face, “How dare you come in here, to our home. How dare you, Sir. Look at what you’ve done to my boys!”
The paladin looked back, confusion heavy in his pale face. “We thought you in trouble lady.”
She laughed then, “Trouble came when you killed Skull Choppa and Smasha. Trouble came when you took Bone Breaka’s arm. And then you and your friends charge in here and kill my boys. Shame on you!”
The orcs laughed then. Gut Rippa stepped forward and leaned his big head in front of the paladin.
“Yo mamma not teached ya manners?”
The orcs turned away, following Penelope back into the cavern. As they began taking their seats around the table Penelope rested her hands on her hips, staring at them.
“No blood and mud at da table,” croaked Blood Thirsta.
Penelope reached across the fire with a huge set of tongs, pulling the roast venison from the rack. She took her seat then, sipping her now cooled tea and smiling at her boys.