It was not the way of orcs to skulk in the shadows and strike at their enemies from the dark. The orc way was to amass an army and come knocking on their enemies’ gates, to break their bodies and their spirits, to conquer in glorious war. But even a people as bloodthirsty as the orcs saw the advantage in the occasional subtlety. They had one assassin among all their warriors, generals, warlords, and siegesmiths. One was all they needed.
Those who knew of her called her the Green Death, and it was whispered by some that she was half-orc, half-demon, that she could walk through walls, and had never taken more than one strike to finish her targets. None had ever seen her and lived, and yet, she was said to be as beautiful as the warmaidens of the Bloodfather himself.
The High Warlord sat in his throne room and waited. His most loyal bodyguards flanked him. None saw the Green Death enter the room, even though there was only one way in our out and all eyes had been watching it.
She stepped from the shadows. While she wasn’t an unattractive orc, her beauty fell short of legendary.
The High Warlord nodded. He didn’t ask for proof of the Queen’s death. It would’ve been an insult to the Green Death.
“Excellent,” he said with a smile. “Now, while the humans struggle to find new leadership, we will strike. It is only a matter of time until they fall before us as the elves and the rats.”
“And then what?” asked the Green Death.
“Then we shall conquer the dwarves and the golems and the savage tribes of the East.”
The Green Death took an ox leg off the Warlord’s table and bit into it. It was a slight to the Warlord to eat his food, but one he was willing to overlook.
“And when you’ve conquered them all?” she asked.
His brow knit. He didn’t understand the question.
“What of peace?” she said.
The Warlord and his bodyguards laughed.
“What of it?”
“How many endless wars do we fight? How many must we slay? How many of our own must we offer up to the Bloodfather?”
He said, “War is the way of life, our way, and yours.”
The Green Death took a drink of the Warlord’s beer. “Not mine. I bring death, not war.”
“There is no difference.”
“So the Human Queen told me.”
“She saw you?”
“We talked. She thought much the same as you. No quarter could be given. Laughing at talk of peace.”
“Yes, so you see that we have no choice but to defend ourselves.”
“I see rulers who imagine themselves surrounded by enemies. I see people of all kinds drowning in your bloodlust.”
“We only give our people what they want.”
“Maybe, but even I can’t kill a nation. I must focus my efforts. The tribes choose their leaders, but their leaders guide their tribes. If war is what the people want, then it should be your job to convince them otherwise.”
“Careful, Death. This borders on heresy.”
“Only borders? Then let me say it clearly. I’m here to kill you.”
“Your own Warlord?”
“Not mine,” she said.
The bodyguards readied their axes and stood before their Warlord.
The Green Death poured herself another drink. “It’s too late.”
The High Warlord gasped. He grabbed his throat as his face paled. He stood on shaky legs. “You betray your own . . . . ” He fell, tumbling down the short flight of stairs to the throne. He struggled to right himself, but could only stare at her. “You’ve doomed us.”
He exhaled one last pained breath before dying.
The bodyguards stepped forward.
The Green Death raised her hand, wagging her finger. “I’ll tell you what I told the Queen’s bodyguards. To whomever replaces your ruler, they shall find a way to peace. If the Bloodfather isn’t sated on the souls he’s already consumed, then I shall feed him more. Kings and Queens, Warlords and Generals. Let the well of souls be filled with nobility. Or let there be peace.”
“And if they don’t listen?” asked a bodyguard.
She stepped into the shadows, disappearing. “Then there shall be death.”