Crank Thunderthighs. The wanderings of an Orc’s Adventures in Chaos.
How it all began.
Crank himself, being an unusual specimen of his orcish race, was born with an insatiable curiosity and intelligence that went beyond filling his belly with the occasional gnome. That curiosity drove him to spend most nights chatting with the tribe’s captives before they were inevitably skewered and eaten for some feast or other. He still felt the bruises on his backside from his mother’s clenched fists after the times he got caught chatting it up with the captives.
It always bothered Crank when the captives were eaten. None of his fellow tribesmen seemed to understand the loss of potential there was in wantonly killing and eating intelligent beings. Although he had to admit, some of them were rather tasty, he still always thought of it as a loss of knowledge. A very, very un-orcish view and also a view that set him at odds with many of his fellow peers.
His eyes shifted to Maryland. The halfling wanna-be thief. Crank was convinced he was crazy. The thief often muttered to himself and once cut off the testicles of an assailant only to offer him handfuls of silver afterward to help the ballless man with future endeavors. Crank was more than a little certain there were a few personalities rolling around that halfling’s head.
Simone, Cleric of Frolin, had to be the most naive human Crank ever met. She was convinced that orcs were really just misunderstood and was trying to garner support for them in Northwich. A worthy cause Crank supposed, but she would likely end up on a spit over a hot fire after her first orcish encounter.
Maryland and Simone met and agreed to band together and rescue Crank from the stocks and certain execution in Northwich. Why was Crank going to be executed? Because he was an Orc. He didn’t even do anything wrong or break any laws. In most human cities, being an orc was all that was needed for a death sentence. If Northwich was the justest city in all of Halubek, its justice apparently did not apply to the orcish people.
Maryland and Simone each had their own reasons for rescuing Crank but the end result was the same. Three outcasts on the run and looking for their next adventure in life.
Low, down, backstabbing, Goblins…
Even for orcs, sleeping is a pretty damn important aspect of life. Crank really had no idea who his two companions were nor how far he could trust them. They had not been together long. This put Crank into a bit of a dilemma.
As the wind began to pick up and the campfire began to die down, the two humanoids across from him seemed a bit on edge casting nervous glances into the darkness. One thing Crank learned from his conversations with captives over the years, not many of the races could see in the dark as he could. This put them at a serious disadvantage as the sun tucked itself in on the other side of the Sword Mountains.
“What’s the plan?” Crank growled at no one in particular.
Maryland and Simone looked at each other in a way that clearly indicated neither one had a clue what they intended to do once they all actually got out of the city.
After a bit of awkward silence, the halfling cleared his throat.
“Well, there is an opportunity I stumbled upon for some work. It involves delivering supplies to a frontier town.”, giggles.
“Should be pretty cut and dry but there is the issue of you being… Well, being an orc.” Maryland hurriedly gulped a swig of all and looked off into the night with a sideways glance back to Crank trying to gauge the orc’s reaction.
“Indeed.” Crank cast a bitter look at the dying flames.
Leaving his Tribe only seven days ago was the most exciting thing Crank had ever done. The way the human’s had talked about Neverwinter left Crank with visions of noble justice and purpose. Visions of a civilization that judged a man (or an orc) by his character, not by his dinner choices. He knew that being an orc, may lead to some apprehension from the humans, but he was sure that, once he proved himself, there could be a place for him among their ranks. So here he sat. With a somewhat insane halfling and an ignorant cleric, what a great start.
“I can wear a cloak. Tell anyone who gets to close I’m half-blood.” how gross. Crank may not get along all that well with his people, but he was still a proud orc. The thought of human blood running through his veins was, just flat out disturbing. Sometimes he questioned why he wanted to comingle with humans at all.
The halfling beamed as if he lit the sun for Amaunator himself. “Most excellent my good Man Orc! I would have suggested it myself but I was confident in your problem-solving skills!”
Maryland looked from Orc to human and back. “Now, if you two don’t mind figuring out first watch among yourselves, I am going to get some shut eye.”
The halfling settled back and began purring out little rapid snores almost immediately.
“I can’t imagine how difficult your life you must have been.” the female cleric gazed at Crank with tender eyes.
“Have been? My life was fine and I am still living it, Cleric. And I am not your hobby project. Go to sleep or I will see if I can cram that halfling up your ass.” Crank nodded at the snoring Maryland.
With a smile, Simone nodded, let her gaze linger on the Orc a moment and laid back covering herself with a leather blanket.
What the fuck was he doing here? Crank thought to himself. He supposed he didn’t have a ton of prospects and this “job” may get him some cred with a few non-orc types.
It was about that time the maniacal laughter started.
Crank felt the dagger sink into his left shoulder blade and felt the humid hot breath on his neck as the shrill laughter of the goblin pierced his ears with equal pain.
That just pissed Crank off.
With his left arm quasi immobilized, Crank shot his right hand over his left shoulder grabbing the gleeful goblin by the ear and hair and jerking it over his shoulder and into the fire. Well, all of the goblin went into the fire except the ear and a tuft of hair that remained in Crank’s hand.
The goblins must have decided Crank was the larger threat of the trio and attacked him first. He was more than a little surprised that his two companions reacted with cold, calm resolve. Crank immediately felt the dagger pushed out of his shoulder as his skin burned and fused together. Simone held her cross at him with a prayer to her God escaping her lips. Not only did Crank’s wound heal, but he felt a surge of energy course through his entire being.
Maryland was nowhere to be seen. As another goblin sprang within the firelight, the Halfling seemingly appeared out of nowhere landing on the goblin’s shoulders as if he were a toddler being carried around the harvest fair. Only this child was no child. He was an angry halfling with large wicked daggers in each hand and a maniacal smile on his face. With a double overhand motion, the daggers swung down and into each eye of the goblin. The daggers continued until the back of its skull finally stopped the momentum.
As the daggers sunk into the skull of one goblin and the first goblin shrieked and writhed with a missing ear in the fire a third goblin stopped in its tracks, glanced at each of the three adventurers, dropped his rusty scimitar and sprinted off into the night.
“Thanks.” Crank begrudgingly said to Simone.
“Hey, those goblins had some stuff… turns out, its another goblin.” Maryland threw a bound lump of goblin down next to the fire. “What are we going to do with that? We should probably just kill it.” Maryland pulled out his dagger.
“Stop.” Crank stood up and walked over to the struggling goblin. “I’m supposed to be the bloodthirsty monster, you’re supposed to be the good guy.”
Maryland dramatically threw on his hurt face. “Crank… I am not at all bloodthirsty. I am just trying to make you feel at home.”
With a grunt dismissing Maryland, Crank knelt beside the bound, gagged, and blindfolded goblin. Its olive green skin was mottled with nearly black bruises and it weakly struggled against its bonds seemingly semi-resigned to being a captive.
Crank examined the goblin with a critical eye, reached out and pulled his gag off. “Tell me your story goblin. Why were you captive. Lie and I will know. It’ll be your last lie. I promise.”
“I left. Awol. They brought in a nasty bugbear to lead us. That thing and the gnolls treated us like trash. I spoke up and got beat for it. I ran and they put a bounty on my head.”
“Yeah, we should kill him.” Maryland casually suggested twirling his dagger around his finger while Simone just sat back down next to the fire with no concern for the goblin at all.
The lack of concern for the fate of the goblin from Simone annoyed Crank. She seemed to pick and choose groups she wanted to champion based on some obscure criteria Crank couldn’t make out. It made her concern for the Orc people seem fake to him.
Crank found it interesting that his two companions ended up deferring the decision to him. He supposed to a degree he found his acceptance outside the Orc race, he was just hoping it would have been with a bit of a higher caliber group. Although he had to admit, they had handled themselves really well a few moments ago.
Crank focused again on the Goblin. “What are you called goblin?”
“Ok, Russ. I’m going to let you go.” Crank said as he removed the blindfold from the goblin.
The goblin tensed seeing the orc. Historically, orcs and goblins had a violent past. Both races were very tribal and with the goblins being the smaller of the two found themselves often on the losing end of their wars. Many goblins found themselves brutally enslaved by an orcish tribe or arguably worse, eaten by them.
Russ looked from the orc staring down at him to the halfling gazing off lost in thought, to the human staring into the fire. “What are you?”
“We are outlaws.” Crank said cutting the bonds and releasing the goblin.
“You don’t talk like an Orc. Are you half-blood?” Russ squinted at the orc looking for signs of some explanation.
Crank palmed the goblin’s face and with a solid shove, sent him back to the ground. “No, Goblin. Don’t suggest that again.”
Russ lifted himself up to his elbows, “Fine, sorry.”
The orc started to settle himself down next to the fire as Russ started to pick himself off the ground- rubbing the blood flow back into his arms.
“There are going to be more looking for me. It may be better not to stay here.” Russ walked over to the fire.
Simone looked up at the goblin, “You’re talking like you care about our group. You’re not welcome here. You have no value.”
That was all Crank needed to hear.
“Can you carry a sword?” Crank asked as the goblin’s stare was pinned to the cleric with reciprocating anger.
“Aye, and can scout as well.”
“Pack up camp. We’re moving to a safer location. Russ is with us now. If you have an issue with it, leave.” Crank looked at Simone.