The Orc's Awakening c48
Chapter 48: The Family Picnic
Shana: “(sigh).......Miss Luz…..if you will please, could you put down your papers while you eat?”
Next to Shana, Luz sat on the log as she hungrily devoured the large lunch portions, but she held her box on her lap, held a fork in one hand, and a pile of papers lay scattered around her as she meticulously scribbled and read over her diagrams.
She kind of reminds me of dads when they would read the newspaper during meals…...or kids when they sneak their handheld game consoles and try to play while everyone eats.
Luz: “Mmmm...mmffff!!!…(cough cough!) (glug glug chug!) Fwew! Hold on. I have a new idea, and I want to write it out before I forget.”
Choking on a piece of meat, she washes it down with freshly squeezed juice in a canister (without pouring it in her cup), and promptly goes back to scribbling and reading her papers. On it were several designs of armors and weapons, but most of it just looked like children’s scribbles to me.
All of us were sitting outside the Spider’s Lair for lunch, and it was the first time for us to sit around and eat our lunches together. Though we thought of doing boxed lunches initially, there was no way to fit enough food inside to satisfy Ayse…...or Luz, so we changed it to more of a picnic. We laid down a blanket and surrounded a mountain of different dishes Ayse hauled on her back happily.
We did have a slight………(cough) "moment," to explain to Shana about my new Spider friends. Her face did go pale, and I thought she would foam at the mouth and faint, but she shook and held her head as if holding back a headache like she was dealing with her child’s mishaps and was grieving.
She told me that she would speak to me about this again later.
I was not looking forward to it.
I did feel bad, but Bob, Sue, and Joe were too useful to let go. Maybe as an Orc, I should be raising up an Orc Army and having them do menial jobs, but this is just how things worked out.
Shana: “Mr. Orukus? Can you speak to her?”
I spewed out a bit of my juice back into the cup.
Why am I now the father who has to speak to his teenage daughter?
[Luz, you should listen to what your mother is saying.]
[No buts. Everyone’s here to eat with you. You should at least try to talk to them.]
[But what am I supposed to say? I don’t have anything to talk about～]
Huh….. in the replay in my mind, I had a fatherly wig, mustache, glasses, and wore a suit. It actually didn’t look too unnatural on my Porky face. I’m getting too used to this Porky body.
Plus, Ayse is busy stuffing her face, Noir is busy painting her food in her sketchbook, and Layla seems to be quietly meditating in her own world……...the only people really “here” are just Shana and myself. We got quite the dysfunctional family.
Somehow, a very family friendly rom-com appeared in my mind.
Shana as my wife.
I nearly spewed blood into my mask again as Bino plugged up and held back the surge in my nose.
Shana: “Mr. Orukus?” Orukus: “(snort) Oh, sorry. Um….Luz? You should at least pause work while we’re all eating together.”
Luz: “Yes, Master.”
Orukus: “Please don’t. Just don’t…….address me like that.”
My male Orc instincts are swelling in absolutely the wrong ways. I have to furiously wave away the vile fantasies before Noir and Layla catches on.
Luz: “Then Master Orukus?” Orukus: “(snort) Just Orukus is fine.”
Luz: “But yーyou’re my teacher～ I can’t just call you by your first name～”
Luz dangled and kicked her legs on the log with some frustration.
I don’t want to be called “Mr. Orukus.” Yeah, I was old enough to be called mister by kids back in my previous life, but on the internet forums, age rarely mattered. I know Shana can’t help it, but now with Luz calling me mister, I slowly feel my age group getting bumped up.
…….I am forever a kid at heart ー a Porky kid at heart. ……..do Orcs even have children?
I shake the tangential thoughts away.
Orukus: “(snort) By the way, I’m glad to see your stuttering isn’t as bad.”
I decided to change the subject. I don’t even know what she should call me if it’s not just plain “Orukus” ー my fake name that’s growing on me.
Was her stuttering just from being nervous around people she didn’t know? I mean, to be honest, we all stutter a little. It’s just so subtle that most people overlook it until an extreme case appears.
Luz: “Hahaha, what are you talking about～? It was all thanks to MーMaster～ You’re the one that fーfixed it～”
Nope, that’s news to me. I did what now? When? How?
I tilt my head at the comment.
I’m starting to think that people are giving me more credit than I deserve.
Wait.....any credit is more credit than I deserve.
Shana gazed at Luz for a moment and then placed her hand on her forehead like she's feeling for a fever. She places both her hands on Luz' cheeks and looks into her eyes closely.
Shana: “Oh my gosh. You’re right. Look at that. Everything’s put back in place and all the twists have been straightened out.”
Orukus: “?? (snort) What are you talking about?” Shana: “It’s hard to explain, and I’m not so sure myself, but before, her condition was like a clogged pipe. That’s oversimplifying it too much, but the pressure from the clogs was putting strain on her entire system and was causing further damage everywhere.”
.........when did Shana become so learn-ed?
Orukus: “Was it something you could fix?” Shana: “I’m not sure. Her physical body was battered but still functioning, but the problem was something deeper than that. I think you fixed her [World], Mr. Orukus.” Okay. Now what? Orukus: “(snort) [World]?”
Shana: “It’s what we’ve decided to call what happened when we…...well, came in contact with you.”
Shana blushed at her words as she recalled something in her mind.
Layla: “I believe among the [Scavengers], there are some monks who strive to obtain [inner peace], but in your case, you helped us create an [Inner Sanctum] or rather, an [Inner World].”
I have no idea what they’re saying. My [Inner Sanctum] would contain mostly 2-D girls in obscene situations. I am an Orc after all.
Noir: “It’s more than that, no? We’ve done our fair share of meditations at Training Camp, and I know we may be far from what those monks call ‘Enlightenment,’ but I’ve never heard of actually being able to travel there.” Ayse nods at Noir’s comment.
Ayse: “[World]. [Soul]. Same.”
Noir: “Is that a teaching from your Plains Tribe?”
Ayse shook her head.
Ayse: “No, Elders…...only teach…...about this world.”
She takes a handful of dirt from the ground and sprinkles it back onto the earth and looks up at the sky.
Noir: “Then how do you know that this [Inner World] we have is the same as our [Soul]?”
Ayse: “I don’t.”
Ayse shrugged as if to concede that point.
Ayse: “Instinct. Heart. And Orukus.”
She pointed at her head, her heart, and then at me.
Not that I’m following at all with what the girls are saying.
Ayse: “Noir. Bed with Orukus. You’ll understand.”
This time I clearly spewed my juice across into the forest and washed out some wildlife from the trees and grass. A few squirrels were chattering angrily in my direction and threw nuts at my head in protest, and a rabbit kicked dust in my direction.
Noir and Layla’s face reddened uncharacteristically as they were both uncomfortable at the comment.
I hope they’re not mad or just trying to overcome their disgust at the thought.
It’s my default, knee-jerk reaction to women. I reject me before they can.
I glanced at both of them, and as our eyes met, they both quickly looked away.
Ugh, I don’t know. Women are a mystery, and at the very least, they didn’t seem too mad.
Shana: “Sister Ayse! We’re in the middle of a meal!”
Shana had a strained smile as she chided Ayse for the comment, and Luz was laughing hysterically.
Luz scooched over next to me while everyone was distracted and leaned against me playfully.
She tried to look into my mask, but I had to look away.
What is this? I’ve had to deal with girls getting annoyed or disgusted with me, but this was something different.
Luz: “Hey, Master.”
Orukus: “(snort) Hey, I told you. Don’t call meーー”
Luz: “IーI don’t mーmind.”
She didn’t even let me finish speaking and looked embarrassed after she finished saying those words.
A single bead of cold sweat ran down my face.
My Porky instincts were ringing alarms
Orukus: “(snort)......don’t……...mind what?”
I knew I shouldn’t, but the words just slipped out.
Luz: “YーYーYou are my Master afterall. I don’t mind.”
She fiddled with her fingers as she looked down.
My mind went white.
Shana: “Miss Luz! You’re too young for that! And you shouldn’t tease Mr. Orukus like that!”
Luz genuinely looked confused at Shana.
Luz: “Too young?”
Luz: “HーHow old are you, Miss Shana?”
Shana: “Oh um…...let’s see. It’s been about 3 or 4 years with the Four Blossoms so…...20 or 21?”
Layla: “It’s the 4th Moon Cycle of the 2020th year of recorded history, so that should put you at 20 according to the Seeker records, Shana.”
Shana: “Thank you, Sister Layla. So I’m 20. How old are you, Miss Luz?”
Luz: “Ummm…..I’ve been at the Forge since I was 4 for at least 20 years…...I think.”
Shana and I froze in place.
Shana ー because she was placed at the bottom of the totem pole once again as the youngest in the Party.
Me ー because there’s no way Luz would be anything more than 15 and that’s stretching it.
Is she lying? For some reason, I’m certain that her statement is genuine. It doesn’t mean that she can’t be wrong. She can genuinely not know her own age and is making the best guess she can.
Layla: “(sigh) I told you before. Extreme malnutrition and long years of hard labor can cause development issues for male and female adolescents. But to be frank, most won’t reach 20 without their bodies giving out. I’m honestly surprised that she lived as long as she did.”
Layla studied Luz curiously.
After a bit of ponderingーー
Layla: “......she must have had a very strong reason for doing so.”
Luz seemed a little touched by the insight and nodded her head vigorously.
She pulled up a drawing out of the pile of papers.
Luz: “For this!”
Among the pile of papers, she drew out an especially messily drawn one ーー
it was a picture of a Red Ogre.
Orukus: “(SNORT)......Luz………..IーI can’t move.”
Luz: “Whaaaaaaaaー?! Are you sure, Masterー?!”
I was currently inside a full body armor that actually fitted over my current armor.
It was a neat idea.
By being inside a full armor bodysuit, I can definitely use the extra height and weight to my advantage in a fight.
But that was exactly the problem too.
The extra height is fine, but with too much weight, it meant a significant decrease in speed.
There was one additional problem.
Orukus: “(FWEEEEWWWW) (snort) It’s…….so……...heavy……”
Right now, the pieces were somewhat fitted against my arms and legs, but they were not directly connected with each other.
If they were, the rigidity of the structure would make it impossible to move freely.
But without it, I was basically holding up a massive amount of weight at a ready position.
I was exerting energy standing up as much as I would if I was moving around.
There were definitely a lot of holes in this design.
With a loud <CRASH>, the arms slipped through my grip and dug deep into the ground.
Orukus: “(snort) Ugh, sorry, Luz.”
Drenched in heat and sweat underneath, I take off the rest of the thick armor and set it aside.
Luz: “No worries, Master. It was a prototype, so thank you for at least testing it out.”
Orukus: “(snort) What were you trying to do?” To be frank, I wasn’t sure what she was trying to accomplish except dress me up.
I look at the helmet which is the face of an angry Ogre.
Ogres can be misconstrued as Orcs at times, but here, Ogres are more hairless gorillas and Orcs are Porky. Plus, Ogres are known for the horns on their heads. I guess Orcs could have Porky tusks, but no cool horns.
Anyways, the overall look that the armor gave me was a 8 foot, thick armored Ogre.
She called it "Demon King Type 1". I decided to leave the naming untouched. I just couldn't make myself ask.
Definitely cool looking, but honestly, it felt like I was wearing a costume for Halloween then I was gearing up for battle.
Luz: “.........I wーwanted you to have thーthーthe best…..invincible armor…..”
That’s every man’s dream right there.
It’s either that or a weapon of mass destruction. Or both.
Orukus: “.....(snort) I appreciate the thought but why?”
Luz picked up the heavy armor pieces with the help of Joe. They harrumphed and lifted it upon a sturdy table and hung some pieces on chains linked to the ceiling.
Luz: “.........because…..Master……...if what I make can…..pーprotect you…….thーthen….it would be like I was there with you…..”
Luz looked up at the main body. It was hurriedly painted a deep red, and the metal that was roughly strewn together gave it an ominous feel to it.
I scratched my head at the comment.
Orukus: “(snot) but you’re here with me now.”
Luz: “.....no, not like that. Like……..URGHHH!!”
Frustrated, she snatched the cap off her head and scratched her head furiously and ruffled her short hair.
Luz: ‘.....like…….something like this……”
Luz pulled out my knife she kept on her now.
I didn’t mind giving it to her. I can always make more.
Luz: “.......I saw this…….and……..and I wanted to make something just as amazing……..”
I’m a little uncomfortable with the compliment. I made that thing while under the stern supervision of Gramps, the Ent that guards this forest. If I didn’t make something to his liking, he would’ve killed me. It was more out of desperation than art or inspiration.
Orukus: “(snort) It’s nothiーー”
I stopped myself.
“It’s nothing special.”
Careless words of false modesty.
Especially for someone who’s looking so admiringly at your work, I guess those kinds of words will sound ridiculous ー or even petty.
Orukus: “(snort) what do you like about it?”
I decided to change my question.
…...and I didn’t get a helpful answer back.
Orukus: “(snort) could you be more specific?”
Luz: “The balance, durability, angle…...everything is so precise and sensible! Nothing is wasted…..! It’s……..it’s just so……”
She trailed off as she continued to hold out the knife against the light.
Luz: “B…….bーbーbーbut most of aーall…….”
She blushed before she spoke further.
Luz: “Now…….it reminds me of you. Everything time I look at it, I think of you, Master.”
She turned to look at me.
Luz: “That’s why……….that’s why I………”
Some deep yearning inside her eyes made my heart ache.
Luz: “That’s why…….if I can just make something…..you’ll remember me by…….then……..”
As tears welled up in her eyes, I couldn’t help but walk over and hold her close.
I remember my mother holding me like this. I can’t believe I’m getting old enough to where I’m doing it for others.
Orukus: “(snort) You know I won’t forget you.”
Luz: “BーBut you will! When I’m gone! Whーwhen…..when I die…..you will……. That’s why……..”
My body naturally rocked back and forth as I held her.
Though she’s old enough to be an independent woman, she still fits like a child in my arms.
It doesn’t have to make sense.
We’re all afraid of something that we can’t explain.
Inside Luz, there was still a shadow lurking in the corners. It might be nothing. It might be something she grows out of later. But for now, those fears are real, and they terrify her.
I lived in senseless, irrational fear most of my previous life. Some were justified. Some were stupid.
Fear of being seen.
Fear of being talked to.
Fear of being recognized.
The fear of rejection…..
And for her, the fear of being forgotten ー of disappearing without a trace. Who doesn’t think about that and shake underneath the covers?
“I won’t forget you.”
At times, words are too cheap, too empty, and too meaningless. They just don’t convey enough to reassure anyone.
So I just held her for a while till she fell asleep. She’s been going non-stop all afternoon. I’m sure she’s tired.
Layla: “Orukus, how’s the new armor Luz made…….”
Layla walked in only to see me holding Luz close against my body.