The Orc's Awakening c37
Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Chapter 37: Orc Meets Bond-Mate
There’s a <BEAR> in my living room.
It’s lying on the center carpet like a bear rug, but this bear rug is breathing and most definitely alive. It’s stomach is full, and it’s growling in satisfaction.
I recall the first Armored Bear I met, and look at this one. I’m not sure if it’s the same one or not, but………
Orukus: “(snort) Why is there a Bear here?”
I look at Ayse sitting on the sofa.
She pointed at the Bear for a moment.
She must have had a long bath as her cheeks were red and droplets of water were dripping from her hair. She was fanning herself with her hand.
I reach my hand to the wall where Gramp’s vines are, and ask Gramps for some wood and plant material. It’s interesting how easy and natural this has become for me. I take two wooden sticks, weave the fiber of the grass and refined fibers from wood to overlay it, take some sticky tree sap in replacement of glue, and make a screw from some iron inside rocks, and I have a foldable fan I throw to Ayse.
Magic is super convenient in this world....
She looks at it quizzically so I unfold it for her and fan her face with it.
Her face lit up with delight.
Curious, she folds and unfolds it several times……...and breaks it momentarily.
Ayse: “It broke.”
Orukus: “(snort) Yeah, I see that.”
I make a mental note that giving her fragile, complicated things may not be a good idea in the future. I’m not sure what changed, but her physical strength seems to have gone up exponentially. Is it Gramps? Is he doing something to make these girls……..stronger?
I made her a new fan that doesn’t fold at all. It’ll be harder to break this one.
I head to the dinner table, as it’s almost time for dinner.
I forget that Orcs don’t need to eat in this world, but I still enjoy eating nonetheless. To be honest, Shana’s cooking is absolutely amazing.
Home cooking is something I didn’t grow up on. My mother worked days and nights, so I grew up on instant noodles, fast food, and snacks at corner stores. Eating a home cooked meal was……..absolutely mind blowing for me in that sense.
My walk to dinner is interrupted suddenly by another newcomer.
There’s a black cat in my way. …...well, to call it a black cat is like calling a lion a kitten. This thing is huge. A puma? Jaguar? To be honest, I don’t know the difference.
It had a curious look on its face as it contemplated me.
Orukus: “(snort).....ummmmmm…..who’s Cat is this?”
And when did my hideout become a zoo? Please tell me that they're going outside the use the restroom.........
The bear started snoring loudly behind me.
Layla sticks her head out the dining room door.
She takes one look at me and scowls, but turns to the large, black cat.
Layla: “Miss Muffins, leave him be for now. You can eat him when I tell you.”
Miss Muffins? That’s like naming a shark “Flipper”. You can’t be more misleading by that name.
The cat looked annoyed by the name too but kept the dissatisfaction to herself.
Orukus: “(snort) Yeah, how about ‘no’ on the consuming me part?”
Layla: “Well that depends.”
Orukus: “(snort) on what?”
Layla: “Your actions.”
With that, she shut the door.
……...YUP, I think we’ll get along just fine.
Honestly, compared to the snickering and whispering, at least Layla is speaking to me. She says annoying things, but......she's still a really pretty girl.
A hero can be misunderstood, but they can also win over the favor of the people around them. So.......maybe?
I contemplate an image of Layla fawning over me.
It felt so unnatural and out of place, that it creeped me out actually. Am I secretly a masochist then? Do I like women treating me like crap? Nah, that felt wrong too.
The cat moved out of the way reluctantly, and she sniffed me suspiciously.
Content with how I smelled(?), she went towards the fireplace to curl up and nap.
A giant bear and giant cat….
I’ll need to expand the hideout.
Now that I have the [Earth Sprites], I could send them into the earth to mine more metals to solidify the hideout walls and roofs.
Anyways, time for food〜♪ time for food 〜♪
I open the dining room door and enter. I’m immediately hit with several delicious odors.
My porky senses are picking up roasted meats, stew, bread, and wine.
I think those are deer sausages and is that a whole roasted duck?
Ayse pushes through the door and lifts me up to carry me to my seat.
She lifted me like a small child…..
I’m a full-grown Pig, and like my previous life, I'm not light.
I’m not wearing my full armor but I still have my leather gear (covering me from head to toe) and my mask.
Looking at us from a bystander’s perspective, I’m certain that it would have raised eyebrows.
Her lean muscles are hard and solid, yet her skin is still soft.
I’m sure my face completely reddened underneath the mask, and I was already placed in my seat before I could protest.
Yeah, haven't had someone pick me up and place me in a chair since I was a baby.....
And she sat next to me without hesitation.
Orukus: “(snort) Um...thank you…”
She’s sitting...kindaー close. Our arms are rubbing against each other.
She pats...no <BANGS> me on the back hard with a hardy smile and punches me in the arm in a playful manner……..it hurt…..I’m not an athlete, but it felt kinda like how guys would rough each other up. I was more of a delicate flower (the non-athletic type), in my previous life. I’m a complete stranger to friendly physical aggression….well, unless I lose my temper, but…...
I don’t know how to respond to that, and I rub my arm.
Ayse looks at me expectantly and points at her arm.
……..wait…...you want me to…..hit you?
She nods her head as if she knew what I thought.
…….but you’re…..a girーー
I didn’t finish my thought. I saw a flicker of annoyance from her, a brief flash of anger, and I quickly chucked her in the arm in the same manner without further thought.
I don’t even know how hard I hit her, but she rubbed her arm and smiled back at me.
Shana: “We'll, you two are sure getting along.”
Shana brought out the rest of the food on trays and dishes and placed it on the large dining room table.
It’s a feast tonight.
Ayse: “Round One and I are bond-mates.”
Ayse smiled and starts taking large mouthfuls of food and looks around the table that fell silent.
Shana: “BーBーBーBond mates? WhーWhーWhat do you mean?”
Shana seemed startled.
My heart stopped.
Ayse: “We share drink. We play. We share beー”
Orukus: “(SNORT) WAIT?! I think there’s a misunderstaーー”
I had to quickly tilt my head to dodge a table knife flicked by Layla. The knife stuck to the wall and wiggled side to side from the impact.
Noir’s raising an eyebrow.
Layla: “So you show your true colors…”
Layla begins to get up from her chair….
Shana had a baked carrot that fell off her fork as she froze in place.
Shana: “IーIーI’m sure Sister Ayse means ‘friends’ or something along the lines in the Plains language!”
Noir: “Shana, ‘bond-mates’ in the Plains culture means lifelong partners or family. I know because I dated a few of their tribe warrior hunteーー”
Ayse: “Layla! Round One is bond-mate!”
Orukus: “(SNORT!) Could you STOP using that word?!?!”
Are you trying to get me killed?!?!
Noir: “So when did you do it with Ayse?”
Orukus: “(SNORT) WE DIDN’T!! I’M STILL A VIRGINーー”
Noir: “Wait, Ayse, you slept with him, right?”
Ayse: “Share bed.”
Noir: “Just like you ‘share bed’ with me?”
Shana currently had her arms wrapped around Layla’s waist to stop her from coming towards me with a desperate “Wait～ Sister Layla～!!”.
Noir looked at me for a good solid second before letting out a sigh in an exaggerated manner.
Noir: “Layla, it’s fine. Ayse is just saying they slept next to each other. Her ‘bond-mate’ is more of a declaration of intention than our concept of marriage.”
Layla glares at Noir who is now setting her food on her plate in a very….meticulous fashion. Her plate is starting to look like those restaurant menu photos. She’s not even eating the food and took out paper to….sketch it….
Wait, what are you doing......?
Layla: “What do you mean, Noir?”
Noir didn't even look up as she continued sketching.
Noir: “Oh c’mon. You’re not that dense. You’re looking too hard for an excuse to kill the guy. Ayse likes the guy and said he’s bond-mate-worthy. Fatty right there hasn’t accepted the gesture, but they both fell asleep completely wasted next to each other. That’s all. I was there.”
Noir smiles and beckons Layla to sit down.
Shana: “Sister Noir, please don’t play with your food like that and eat properly.”
Shana looks relieved for some reason.
Noir: “It would be a shame to not make it look nice first. HEY!!”
Ayse took the meat off Noir’s plate and Noir grabbed the other end and wrestled over the table trying take it back. Ayse dove in to take large bite out of it, but Noir’s still slapping Ayse in the head like taking meat away from a hungry dog.
Shana: “HEY! Stop that you two! We’re in the middle of dinner!!”
Noir: “She started it!!”
Ayse: “Noir.....waste food!”
Noir: “I was gonna eat it after I was done!!”
While they fought, I was still processing everything Noir just said.
Memories of how girls used to look at me erupt in a slideshow like a flip book.
【Disgust】. Not at them but at me. That’s all that filled those pages of memories.
There were girls in class that I really liked in school. I don’t know why, but I fell hard for the most beautiful ones.
[Hey, please don’t talk to me, like EVER again?]
[Yikes, no. Have you ever seen yourself in the mirror?]
And now, I’m a Pig. I didn’t think I could sink any lower but I did.
Shana’s now intervening with a ladle smacking both Noir and Ayse, but both sides are not relenting. Layla sat back down and sipped tea quietly until someone knocked over and flipped a salad dish and hit her in the face.
I saw veins surface on her forehead as the dish fell to the table.
Layla: “Can’t you guys eat a meal like civilized human beings?!”
Noir: “Like you’re one to talk!!”
Layla: “What do you mean by that?!”
They continued to bicker and argue as Shana tried to quiet down all parties, but I can’t stop thinking about Ayse and Noir’s words.
…..it’s only because Ayse hasn’t seen what’s underneath this mask….if I was human...maybe I would have had a one in a million chance? Would a Pig Hero be able to win over a human damsel.........?
Shana: “Mr. Orukus? …..are you okay?”
Shana gives up for the moment to let the girls fight it out, and came to check on me.
Orukus: “(snort) oh! yeah, um, great! I’m doing just fine. Just got, you know, surprised and all…”
Even in this world ー in a world full of monsters and magic ー I’m still me.
Those words weigh heavily on me.
I've read my fair share of harem novels and Demon King enslaving human plots too. I didn’t mind reading them, and rather enjoyed the line of thought of becoming a tyrant no matter how I looked. But that was only in books.
I grew up under a working, single-mother, abandoned by my father. She was heart broken, and sometimes I would put on the headset just so I didn't hear her cry during the nights. The walls in our small little apartment were thin. It was hard ignoring those sounds.
She tried dating, but it always ended badly.
When you watch the only woman that cares about you, a woman who's smart, hard-working, and caring suffer so much day in and day out by the hands of men, I can’t...I just can’t watch women suffer without feeling a revolting amount of guilt and pain.
I know I wasn't much better than those men. I quit school and hid in my room and withdrew from the world altogether. I had my reasons, but I know I caused her pain and grief to the very end…
I’m sure I could brainwash or force girls to be with me now. I have the power and resources. But then I would be no better than the men who choked the life out of my mom. I would be what Layla loathes the most.
But they can’t find out that I’m a Pig…
Would they care? Does it matter?
We’re not talking about a difference in men’s body shape and looks. It’s a difference of species. That's literally a world's difference.
They’re only associating with me because there’s that sliver of hope that I’m a human underneath.
When that’s gone, when the mask is off..........I’ll be alone again.
Shana’s face appeared next to mine.
I almost jumped out of my seat.
Shana: “Are you not feeling well? Was the food not to your liking?”
Orukus: “(snort?!) What?! Oh no!! I love it!! It’s the best food I’ve ever had!!”
I panic and stuff a few mouthfuls for emphasis.
Shana: “You know, I could do a medical examination if youーー”
The idea of playing “doctor” with Shana instantly filled my mind and…...
[Would you like a physical examination?]
My gas mask instantly filled with blood and Bino, the [Blood Sprite], as it blew and spewed out my nose.
Shana: “Mr. Orukus?!?!”
Orukus: “(cough cough!! gag!! snort!!) I’m okay!!”
Shana: “How are you okay?! There’s blood everywhere on your face!!”
Orukus: “(snort!!) It happens!! It’s normal!! Absolutely normal!! I’ll go clean up!! Thanks for the meal!!”
I quickly get up to leave for my workshop.
I can make a new room with a bathtub there. But that was close. I never thought Shana would set that kind of trap for me. She would have forced me to take the mask off if I stayed.
…..I’m pretty sure she was being sincere, but that only made her offer...all the more appealing.
STOP STOP STOP STOP......
I feel another surge of blood as Bino plugs up my nostrils bracing for another break in the dam. I managed to hold it in...barely…
I lay lazily floating in a tub I created. With Wano, the [Water Sprite] and Fino, [the Fire Sprite], I don’t have to worry about the water getting too hot or too cold.
Floating in the warm water, I drift about in my thoughts…
The past couple of days have been unbelievable.
It’s all happened so fast that I still wonder if I’m dreaming.
I look at Wano swimming in the tub with me, splashing as he swims by with different strokes, and in the air is a [Wind Sprite] playing with the steam rising up from the bath water and shaping it into different shapes.
Orukus: “(snort) Well, hi there.”
It waves casually back at me as it flies through the air…
I don’t remember when that guy came… I vaguely remember something similar to it when I went hunting with Noir, but I’m not certain.
Orukus: “(snort) You need a name. ‘W’ is already taken so let’s go with ‘G’ for gale. You're Gino.”
It loops in the air a few times as it claps its hands.
So that's Earth, Water, Fire, and Wind - the four main elements in most games. Considering that most games limit you to one or at most two [Magic] Types, doesn’t this mean I’m super amazingly gifted?
….I dunno where Bino, the [Blood Sprite], falls in that category. A [Curse] Type? I feel a kick in my sinuses. That kinda hurt.......
Gramps: “Orukus boy.”
Orukus: “Oh, hey Gramps. That’s rare for you to show up.”
Gramps: “It’s getting very lively here, and I had other businesses to attend to. Regardless, I thought I’d let you know.”
Orukus: “(snort) What is it?”
Gramps: “Your bond-mate approaches.”
I blew a mouthful of bath water at Gramps on accident.
Orukus: “(SNORT!!) WHAT?!”
He seemed a little annoyed as he wiped the water from his face.
Gramps: “She’ll be here momentarily.”
And with that, he withdrew into the walls.
Crap crap crap!! I won’t be able to reach my clothes in time!!
I hear footsteps approaching fast.
Ayse swings open the door.
Ayse: “Round One! Shall we baーー”
Her words trailed off as she saw a mountain of mud covering me from head to toe. I didn’t even allow my snout to poke out and kept the mud flowing over me.
Ayse: “Round One, mud......not clean.”
It was hard trying to speak without getting a mouthful of dirt and I had to use my hands to cover over my mouth as I spoke.
Orukus: “(snort) It’s actually one way to clean the pores of your skin. I’ll wash it off with water, and I should be much cleaner.”
Granted, I just completely made that up, but I think there were articles about steaming hot mud baths in Spas. I’m certain it was a gimmick, but whatever.
Ayse: “......can I try?”
[Bath with a girl.....]
I think I spewed out a fountain of blood again but it mixed in with the mud to make it a nice clay color.
Orukus: “(SNORT!!) Um….maybe another time?! I have a special….skin condition so the mud may not...be….Look, why don’t you wait for me to finish, and we’ll have a drink together outside!! How’s that?!”
My voice shot up a panicked octave, but the idea seemed to settle well with her, and she nodded and left.
Orukus: “(snort)..............(FWEW).......maybe I’ll lock my doors…”
But I have this gut feeling that that won’t stop Ayse, and she'll just tear down the door….
…..what should I do…..
I cleaned up and headed out of the hideout to the open field nearby.
I saw Ayse’ campfire and several barrels of various ales, wines, and liquor - courtesy of Gramps. On the ground were several baskets full of roasted nuts, and dried fruits and meats - probably courtesy of Shana. I'm surrounded by too many good, caring people.
Ayse pats the seat next to her on the fallen log she brought over.
I timidly sit down as I leave some space between us, but my efforts are futile as she smiles, scoots over, and I feel our thighs touch.
With my full body covered, it’s not like our skin is touching, but I can’t stop thinking about that. My heart is pounding and my head is spinning.
Ayse hands me a large glass mug filled to the brim.
I take it and feel how icy cold the glass is.
She brings out her own mug and clinks our glasses together and some of the drink spills out.
We do. I chug down the ale, and feel the liquid flow down my throat and hit my stomach.
What am I doing…….?
As the alcohol kicks in, the world turns upside down as we drink and eat.
Ayse has never been much for small talk. Her face is getting red too, as she leans against me more.
At this point, I can’t remember much.
Orukus: “(snort hiccup!).......why…..?”
Ayse turns her gaze from the stars above to me.
Orukus: “........(snort hiccup!).....why me? why me as a bond-mate……?”
It was something that was bothering me for the entire night….
It's not like I've proven myself as a hero or anything. I'm just a Magical Pig struggling in a dangerous world......
.............I guess "just magical" would be downplaying it too much but still.......
Ayse sways and smiles. She unties her braids, shakes her head, and let’s her beautiful, long black curly hair flow down, and looks at me.
She takes one hand and points a finger at my sternum.
Ayse: “Fire. Great Fire.”
I have no idea what she meant….
Pointing to my heart.
She pointed to my head.
And then to my arm.
Ayse: “Weak...but......strong enough…”
She makes a so-so gesture with her head as she smiled mischievously, knowing that she pushed the right buttons.
Orukus: “....(snort hiccup) wanna say that again?”
Her laughter is one of those hardy laughs that was genuine, honest, and pleasing to the ears.
She places the mugs down and tugs at my arm as we slowly, and with drunken, serpentine motion, we make our way to the field.
I don’t remember much. I know she threw me to the ground with a loud <THUD> several times. I know I threw up again. I remember how we locked arms, and I grappled with her, but she wouldn’t budge. Trying to move her was like trying to make a mountain move. Her fists felt like boulders hitting me, and her throws were so fast that I was in the air before I knew what happened.
It reminded me of when dogs or cats would play fight, but I think we took things up too many notches. Or at least she did.....
She chuckled playfully.
I charged and our bodies clashed, but when I moved to throw her, it was like she grew roots in her legs.
We clashed and pounded as trees shook, and later on, she wanted something to punch and kick as hard as she could, and not wanting to be the object of such insane strength, I made something from the ground. And my memory turned off like someone cut a string right then and there.
[.....why me? why me as a bond-mate....?]
It was another night with the Round One.
We were drinking when he finally spoke about what was bothering him.
To be honest, I probably view bond-mates differently than my people. Men take women as wives just for the sake of having children. These do not require bonds.
Bonds are treated differently between different clans, but to me, it's all very similar. Some swear a blood oath to signify a Bond-Brother or Sister who they swear loyalty to or swear to protect. Some swear an oath of honor or swear to their lives. There are traditions, but no set rules. You can swear oaths to certain animals and creatures as protectors of your family or to the Earth, Sky, Sun or Moon, or the stars in the Heavens. Bond-mates are usually between a man and a woman, but as long as you don't remain in the clan, you can choose whomever you want as long as your partner accepts. They are oaths you declare and spend a lifetime keeping.
But the Round One and I are different.
I point to the center of his body ー the center of his very being.
Ayse: "Fire. Great Fire."
In many cultures, fire is the beginning of what makes us human. It brightens the dark nights, it keeps us warm, and wards off enemies. In the Cities, they call their machines the fires of humanity. The guns and weapons they produce are few but powerful. They herald their achievements as the fiery beacons of hope that will one day vanquish the [Monsters] from this Earth.
But I learned of a different【fire】the other night.
A 【fire】that burns within us. A 【fire】that we cannot see or touch, but it's there.
The Round One is like a torch, but when we touched, it spread like wildfire. His 【fire】consumed me, but he did not leave me devastated and destroyed. As the wildfires leaves the ground open for new life, something ignited within me. Like a dying ember, something that was smoldering and disappearing or maybe even dead, came back to life.
His 【fire】....ignited mine.
A 【fire】that cannot be extinguished or erased.
A 【fire】that can draw up the strength from the Earth.
[Gifted Warriors] can draw up strength from themselves. As a sudden wind can ignite a smoldering coal to light ablaze one last time, they can draw great strength that surpasses others. But that fire does not last. It will eventually die out with the Warrior.
But not this one.
This is our bond. This 【fire】is our bond. The [Spirit of Fire] binds us ー but not to imprison us ー but because it does not know how else to act. 【Light】pierces the 【darkness】not by choice but by its very nature. This 【fire】is no different. The Round One's 【fire】spread to me, and now we are connected together as the animals are connected to nature.
He demands nothing of me. Not children. Not affection. No oath, service, or fealty.
I point to his heart.
Ayse: "Kind." No man has ever offered anything to me without asking for something in return. But he gifted me this【fire】and left it at that.