The Orc's Awakening c32
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
Chapter 32: The Orc and Layla
It was at least a few hours before I could take all my bandages off.
It felt long enough, but thankfully, the pain was kept at a minimum. I pretty much turned that part of my body off until I recovered.
I thought about just keeping the pain signals turned off, but pain is an essential function for your body to indicate when something is wrong.
I read about one girl who couldn’t feel pain, and she basically reduced her arms and legs to nubs and died from her injuries. It might be an extreme case in point, but that’s all to say that it's still a bad idea. I just know that everything (pointing at every single part of my body) was still healing, but I have legions of Dr. Bino’s, the amazing army of [Blood Sprites] in my veins, inspecting every cell in my body so……...I think I’ll be okay.
I stretch my limbs as I slip on my usual gear.
It was then that I heard a knock on my door.
Noir opens the door, but there’s concern on her face.
Noir: “.....Mr. Orukus......it’s Layla….”
We all gathered in Layla’s room
It was a little crowded with everyone in the room, so I helped Gramps expand the walls to accommodate.
The armor girl, Layla, laid on the bed drenched in sweat.
She was running a high fever - a very HIGH fever….
Her wounds were all closed, and I thought we took care of all internal wounds, but….it's not like I could wipe out all bacteria and viruses from her blood stream. There must have been some sort of infection that spread from some point inside her body. I’m not a doctor but infected blood is almost always deadly…...or at least, that’s what I heard in books and movies….
I tried sending Bino through the IV, but for some reason, he couldn’t do much unless it was on the surface level. Something prevented him from entering the bloodstream of the girl.
It was like pushing him flat against an invisible wall.
Orukus: (This isn’t good.......)
If I can’t send help inside her body……..she’ll die…..
Again, it’s just a guess, but even I could tell that she was weakening quickly, and her body would shutdown completely unless something drastic was done.
Shana: “Mr. Orukus, can you help her…?”
Orukus: “(snort) I’m not sure….for some reason, I’m getting resistance when I try to treat her…I don’t know why….”
Noir: “What do you mean?”
Orukus: “(snort) My Magic requires entering her body, but it’s like I’m hitting an invisible brick wall….”
Ayse points at me.
She points at Layla.
Noir seems to have understood what she was trying to say.
Noir: “Layla’s pushing him away because he's a man…..?”
I reach out my senses as I do with my [Earth Magic] to envelope her hand, and my touch is slapped away, and the contact is broken.
Orukus: “(snort) I think she’s right.” I really, REALLY don’t understand Magic in this world at all… None of this makes a lick of sense.
I thought Healing Magic is like...
→ “Yay! I’m healed!”
But wait, you can RESIST Healing?
Can you imagine how many players would trash a game if your characters RESISTED being healed?!
And unlike a game, there's no respawns or resets. I really hate perma-death games for this reason, but real-life is like that.
Layla’s breathing is becoming more labored. Her strength is getting drained and sapped from the fever.
She’s not going to make it through the night at this rate.
Orukus: (What am I supposed to do.........?)
Shana: “Mr. Orukus….”
I feel Shana tug on my cloak….eyes begging for reassurance….
I’m not a god…..
In fact, I’m probably the farthest thing from it. Aren’t pigs considered sacrilegious in most religions? And that’s a domesticated pig and not an Orc!
The word stings as reality deftly turns a cold shoulder.
I turn my eyes to Layla.
It's a dilemma that every hero faces.
What do you do when someone doesn't want to be helped ー doesn't want to be saved?
Is it even right for me to forcefully save her life……? Isn’t that her right to refuse help if offered?
I look back at Shana’s eyes.
She sees the fear, the worries in mine.
It’s a fact of life.
Everyone eventually dies.
Orukus: (............even heroes die in the end.)
There are no hero series that can keep going infinitely. The readers will get bored. The author will find a way to pass on the torch to revive interest.
So in a sense, heroes have to accept their own death too as well as others.
Orukus: (……...just like…..I did?)
What is death to me?
I died, right?
Who am I to say who lives and who dies?
Orukus: (..........don't make it so complicated!)
I can help.
Maybe I'm just a wanna-be.........but I decided to help people with my powers.
I kneel down beside Layla.
I’m no saint.
I’m no god.
I wasn’t even a good person in my previous life. A flashback montage of my past life would scar everyone who sees it.
I have no right to determine who lives or who dies.
I know. I know. I keep going back and forth.
I can’t stop my hands from shaking and trembling.
My friend once told me, “The worst atrocities of humanity all began with the best of intentions.”
I place my hands on Layla’s arms.
Intense resistance almost blasts me to the back walls, but I keep my hands still touching hers.
[I didn’t ask to be born!]
[I don’t want to live!]
[What’s the point anyways?!]
Words from my past ring harshly in my ear.
It was a rainy day when my mom and I fought. It was one of the worst fights we had in a long while. After that conversation, we couldn’t look each other in the eye till the day I died.
Orukus: (I’m sorry, mom…..)
She kept me alive. She did everything in her power to keep me alive.
What was the point?
I look at myself now.
It’s possible that I wouldn’t be here in the body of this Orc if she didn’t…
I don’t know.
What I do know is that…
I look at Shana one more time.
I nod gently and then close my eyes to focus.
There’s way too many people that care about you, Layla, to let your hatred of men be the cause of your death.
The room goes silent.
I open my eyes.
I’m no longer in the room in the hideout.
Where am I?
Orukus: (And more importantly…….what the heck is that?)
A fortress looms right in front of me. The only colors I see are grey and black like one of those black and white films.
The walls must be hundreds of feet high. I can’t see the top at all.
There’s no windows. It’s just one slick stone wall for miles around ー an impregnable defensive perimeter.
There is an archway and a gate in front of me.
Orukus: (And a rain of…..ARROWS?!)
I quickly dash and flatten myself against the doors of the gate.
Thousands of arrows pierce the ground where I stood moments ago.
Orukus: (Are there archers on the walls?!)
As I touch the doors, I get a similar feeling of when I held Layla’s hand.
I don’t get why I was transported here, but I guess this has something to do with Layla.
Orukus: (Is this her sub-conscience or something?!)
Did she transport me to a different dimension?
I move away from the gateway as boiling oil pours onto the ground.
Arrows pour down when I move away from the wall, but I can move around fast enough to dodge them.
There’s pits full of spikes, bear traps, and other traps laid throughout the ground, but thankfully, I’ve been able to sense and dodge all of them.
Looks like my porky cheat senses are still intact here.
I don’t have my armor, but so far, it hasn’t proven to be a problem.
Running around a bit from the endless rain of arrows, it gave me a moment to think about what I’m doing here.
I guess this all started because Layla didn’t want my help, and that fortress pretty much explains her attitude towards me quite clearly.
Orukus: (It's like a collision of wills.)
I dash and make my way towards the gate once again.
It’s the only entrance, and I probably don’t have a chance making it up those walls.
I grab doors by the large round handles.
With a grunt of effort I pull but it’s not budging.
I bury my feet into the ground and feel the【warmth】pour strength through all four of my limbs.
My muscles bulged as veins popped up to the surface.
The metal door screams and starts bending and warping as the bolts and hinges broke.
Crimson instantly begins tainting the grey and black atmosphere.
A woman’s shrill scream rings through the air, and though it makes me cringe and hesitate for a single moment, I proceed to tear the door open.
Orukus: (Was that Layla just now?)
But I can't think about that. I need to focus on the door.
Orukus: (Okay, I’m throuーー)
Metal shrieks as I’m caught underneath a giant metal grate that came crashing down on top of me.
I was incredibly fortunate to not get pierced by one of the points, but the weight was close to unbearable.
It felt worse than trespassing....
Tides of emotion washed over me as I felt one particularly strong feeling ー 【GUILT】
I was【invading】her very being.
No one wants their heart ripped open and peeked into.
It was a malicious violation of their privacy and rights.
The screams of protest coming from all around me made that abundantly clear.
The grates squeal as they continue pushing me downwards.
I grunt and fall to one knee as I keep it held up.
I can’t push it up to move out of the way, and something told me that the gate needs to stay open.
Instinct? Can I trust it?
I'm teetering now as my hero-dom is now facing an identity crisis.
Orukus: (Am I just a selfish vigilante now?)
The gritty, death-ridden heroes where the heroine almost always dies or betrays them.
Orukus: (A very deserving plot for a Pig like me.........)
I remain in place and push the metal grate upwards unsuccessfully. The【warmth】and strength I draw from the earth is only a small trickle here, and the grate is matching my strength as it draws more weight and power to close off the entrance.
I feel my muscles bulge as blood begins pounding in my head from the increased pressure.
The screams of protest begin to die down as I hear footsteps from inside the fortress approach me.
She walked across the fortress grounds, the ground beneath her feet flat and barren. It's like hardened white marble underneath.
Her steps were graceful - her armor not making a single sound.
Straight, long black hair flowing behind her.
Sharp and intense dark eyes on an indisputably beautiful face.
But it was her cold, hate-filled eyes that caught my attention.
Pure, raw hatred laid out in plain sight hit me like a sledgehammer. It hurt more than this stupid grate did.
The air itself tightened and constricted around me and made it difficult to breathe.
She stopped a little ways away and stared at me - contemplating me as if I’m some sort of insect that crawled into her house, and she was calculating how she would get rid of me the quickest.
[Who are you?]
Her voice sounded strange here. It was hollow, strained, and almost unnatural...
Orukus: “Does it matter?”
At that, one corner of her mouth curved up just slightly.
[No, it doesn’t. You are not welcome here. Leave this place immediately.]
Orukus: “I wish I could, but there’s something I need to do before I go.”
Without another word, she reached behind her back and pulled out a whip. The ends split and had nasty metal barbs….
I could feel blood drain from my face.
I can’t move.
I’m helpless ー quite literally helpless.
I could leave but that would mean…….probably letting her die in her bed….
I grit my teeth hard. C'mon, God. This isn't fair at all......
Orukus: “I’m here…..to help you…..”
I hate these situations where you have to convince someone that you're the good guy trying to help.
She tilts her head curiously, but I only sense malice from her smile that follows.
ーーbecause 99% of the time, they never believe you.
[Just like you helped me before?]
The words were not meant to me.
It was a question to the world around us.
A deep, sad world drained of【color】 ー drained of【light】ー drained of【sound】 ー andーー
This entire world was one giant, bitter glare against anyone or anything that stepped into it.
It was a question everyone asked.
But inside her words, the question centered specifically around 【men】. Every【man】 that took advantage of her - that【pilfered】,【stole】,【violated】, and left her for【dead】…
The air cracks as the whip pierces the space between us.
Blood splatters as the end of the whip digs deeply into my skin and tears and rips pieces out viciously from my torso. The pain is so much, I forget to scream as I open my mouth.
Another strike rips the flesh from my thigh. Blood gurgles in my throat.
She strikes my arm, almost crippling it as it hangs limply next to me now. The weight of the metal grate increases on my shoulders, and I sag closer to the ground.
Someone once told me that watching someone else erupt in anger can actually help you stay calm.
Although I was the object of her【wrath】, even though I was the one currently overstepping into her territory without her consent, I couldn’t help but feel that her【anger】 was not directed just at me.
It was at everything - at all things【past】, 【present】, and【future】.
I wish I knew.
The whip cracked as more blood spilt - each strike causing white hot streaks of pain.
I couldn’t scream. If I did, the metal grate above me would crush me. I had to hold my breath, as the lashes continued unmercifully….unceasingly...
Some hero I turned out to be......
She was methodical in making sure every part of my body was struck multiple times...
I must look pitiful.........
Separate from the crimson atmosphere, an almost black, dark red spread across the ground.
Bino, my [Blood Sprite] carefully and cautiously snuck through the ground towards the inner parts of the fortress.
A smile inadvertently creeps across my face. It wasn't even my plan or idea. The [Blood Sprite] acted on its own without me giving it a command.
The irony was almost comical if it wasn’t so painful.
Orukus: (What is a hero, really..........)
The question struck my mind as each whip crack sent more and more Bino’s into her fortress to treat her.
Orukus: (Is it someone with overwhelming power?)
The whip continued to crack as it tore off more of my flesh.
Orukus: (Is it someone who can predict everything and win every single time?)
Now the cracks of the whip just sounded like popcorn in the microwave to me. My body began to go numb with pain.
Orukus: (Or someone who doesn't give up?)
Then wouldn't everyone be a hero in that case?
In a few minutes, I was on my knees hunched over with the metal grate threatening to crush me.
Not a single piece of skin remained on my body.
Endless amounts of blood poured out from my wounds.
Tears streamed down my face as I started losing consciousness.
Everything blurred together into one glob of pain.
Orukus: (……….I can’t……..)
The heavy metal grate started pushing through, crunching and pressing my bones together….threatening to slice my body in half.
Bones continued to creak and crack…
Orukus: (……...I’m sorry……..)
Can a hero be defeated?
Orukus: (Or is it because I'm not.......a..............)
Something grabbed the metal grate as it pushed it upwards.
I fell and crumpled to the ground in one heap of meat and blood.
Blood continued to pour out from every pore and vein.
I must be bleeding out more than what was in my body.
Orukus: (Bino is making progress then….good……)
Through a haze, that's all I could think about.......
[What are you doing, Ayse?]
Ayse stood over my body as she held the metal grate upwards and open with one arm.
Ayse: “Layla, stop this.”
[Why are you helping him?!]
The whip cracks, but Ayse grabs the end with her other hand. Blood seeping out from her grip where the shard is cutting into her skin.
Layla grunts as the whip tightens, but Ayse’ grip is firm and solid.
Layla draws the slender sword from her side and charges at Ayse.
Noir runs past Ayse and intercepts her with two small daggers.
Noir: “Layla! We’re here to help! You’re dying, Layla! He’s trying to keep you alive!!”
[I WOULD RATHER DIE THAN HAVE A FILTHY MAN SAVE MY LIFE!!]
Layla swipes her sword forward with brute strength sending Noir against the fortress walls.
Her body crashes deep into the rocks, sending cracks and shards everywhere.
Noir: (cough cough!!)
Blood dribbles out from the corners of her mouth, as she slumps against the wall.
Layla stomps towards my body, but stops immediately.
“Please….Sister Layla…...please…..let us help you……..”
Layla’s grip on her sword loosens for a moment.
But a scourge of fury suddenly rises out from her, as the whirlwinds blast the dust from the earth into a sudden sandstorm.
[WHY, SHANA?! HOW COULD YOU STAND NEXT TO A MAN?! ESPECIALLY AFTER WHAT THEY DONE TO YOU?!?!]
The air around Layla and Shana cleared as her words pierced through the air.
Shana trembled in place. Fear gripped every member of her body.
The memories of her past…..of the men…...began overtaking her mind……
For a split second, she turned around towards me and held me in her gaze.
Her fear wavered and crumbled as it was replaced with steel-cold determination.
Her trembling stopped as she faced her sister once more.
Shana: “Because…...because I care too much about you, Sister Layla, to let something like that get in the way of saving you….”
[SOMETHING LIKE THAT?!?! THEY TOYED WITH YOU!! RIPPED YOUR MIND TO SHREDS!! HOW COULD YOU EVER FORGIVE THEM?!?!]
Shana sucked in a deep breath as she walked towards Layla with slow, deliberate steps.
Shana: “Sister Layla...we are [Seekers]. [Seekers] of Hope. [Seekers] of Life. [Seekers] of Truth. I’m not strong like you or Sister Ayse. I’m not smart or beautiful like Sister Noir. But I’LL BE DAMNED IF YOU ASK ME TO STAND ASIDE TO LET YOU DIE AND MOPE IN YOUR SELF-PITY!!”
A clear slap rang across as Shana delivered a blow across Layla’s face. It wasn’t a strong blow, but a slight redness appeared on her cheek.
Shana: “YOU ARE OUR LEADER, LAYLA!! YOU PROMISED!! YOU PROMISED THAT YOU’LL GUIDE US THROUGH THIS HELLISH WORLD!! YOU PROMISED THAT YOU’LL TAKE US TO A TOMORROW WORTH LIVING!!
Shana, with heavy labored breaths, takes hold of Layla’s shoulder.
Shana: “SO WHAT IF HE’S A MAN?! IF A MAN OFFERS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE, WE TAKE IT!! IF A MAN OFFERS TO HELP US, WE ACCEPT IT!! IF HE TRIES TO BREAK US, WE FIGHT!! WE TAKE WHAT WE CAN! WE USE WHAT WE CAN! IF IT HELPS US MOVE AN INCH FORWARD, GOD HELP US! WE WILL TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY, EVERY CHANCE BECAUSE……..because…..”
Her words break off as tears flow down and hiccups interrupt her words.
Shana: “.....that's what you taught us, Layla.......you said…...you PROMISED……….that it would all be worth it in the end……”
Shana held Layla tight as she sobbed against her chest.
Layla stood there dumbfounded….guilt written all over her face…..
[What if……..what if I was…...wrong……?]
Shana: "............you're never wrong, Sister Layla. If there's something that I know for certain, it's that you were never wrong."
The ground cracks.
The pristine white marble underneath convulses and lurches as the ground heaves upwards and sends rocks jutting at all angles.
A giant earthquake rolls through the earth as the foundation of the castle and castle walls suddenly topple over dangerously.