Saturday, April 22, 2017

What a beholder told a terrified group of adventurers shortly before killing them

"You want to know why I'm going to kill you? Why I'm going to murder you knowingly, in cold blood, and watch you die? Why I and others like me despise you all relentlessly?

"I'm going to kill you because you humans never think. Never watch, never observe, never reason. Instead of attempting to find a plausible answer, you jump to the most immediate and self-serving one. 

"Why are the orcs attacking? Why are they flooding into our lands by the hundreds, and bringing death and destruction? Have they been sent as a divine plague, or perhaps as a test? Why are they so cruel?

"It must be because they are horrible people. It must be because they value slaughter, bloodshed, and strength above all else, and will stop at nothing to get what they want. It must be because they are driven by deep racial impulses and subservience to their gods, because of course they have gods like we do. 

"Violence is in their blood. There is no way to stop them. They cannot be reasoned with and understood, and have to be killed, exterminated like vermin.

"Do you know why orcs run? Why they expand relentlessly? Why they never stop, and always pause to look fearfully over their shoulders and say a prayer for mysteriously missing comrades, who stayed behind? Do you? DO YOU?!"

And later, over their dead bodies:

" was because of us. 

"Our cruelty, our naive misunderstanding of their ways and cultures. We looked at them and saw only violence, only the sharp, blood-covered spears and sunlight glinting off polished metal helmets. Only the brutal tread of their boots and the glasslike noise of skulls crunching under their heavy steps. 

"We didn't see the warmth. The light of their campfires, where everyone is welcome. The love and attention they devote to each other, each orc learning how to braid another's hair, wash those who cannot wash themselves, and care for each other at a young age. Their elders, their crippled, their disabled: each one treated like any other. Orcs do not taunt, and neither do they tease. They accept, and cherish. 

"What made them so hard? What drove them to such clannish aggression? Why are they so terrifying?

"We looked at them, and we saw our primal fears. We saw the unbridled savagery waiting within our primal forms, a cunning beast biding its time until it could effortlessly sever its leash. 

"We saw monsters. What we did not understand is that was their curse: to be seen as fear, and be welcomed by hate. 

"Orcs are always on the run, always desperate to escape a gruesome death. They are aggressive because they must be, savage because they have to secure temporary homes for themselves, and alien because they have a culture like no other. They love each other because they only have each other. An orc's clan is their only refuge in this harsh, everchanging world they inhabit. 

"They have forged through countless planes, and survived countless battles. They have scavenged and forcefully pushed their way through to survival. 

"There is a reason why there are no orcs left after the coming of the great orc horde, and why each planar culture only has one legend of orcs. as that of a destroyer which was ultimately vanquished.

"Have you ever heard the great war chants of successful humans, who slayed the mighty orc chieftains themselves, and took their weapons? Did you ever notice that the bloody deeds, if listened to long enough, repeat, and begin to sound the same, with only the names changing? 

"Did you ever wonder why all major orcs were beheaded, each and every one? Why a war camp after a great battle was strewn with gore and entrails, like a slaughterhouse? Uniformly? Universally?

"Did you ever wonder at the shifty look in your grandfather's eye or the averted head of your aunt when you excitedly asked exactly what the battle was like? Did you ever wonder at the generalized recollections, and how whenever an orc-fighting veteran falters when telling a tale late at night, another veteran looks at them and quickly adds another valiant deed, to which the recounting veteran says 'Oh yes, that's what happened', and then continues? Did you ever wonder why the story was never quite the same?

"No, of course not. You never saw the "glory" of a legendary orc battle: armored, hardened warriors coming upon a shattered camp. You never saw all the dead orc fighters, each one with their limbs ripped apiece and their guts strewn yards about, the air alive with the stench of blood and a dissonance of flies, droning out any sense of reason or mercy. You never saw the only living orc, staked through the gut to a tree and flayed alive, weakly begging the attackers to end his agony. You never saw the silent shame in the eyes of men and women as they quietly gathered up broken orc weapons and the typical severed head, as they muttered to each other 'they'll never believe us.'

"You don't know why the orcs run, why they are always gone within several generations, why they breed so quickly, and grow so fast, and fight so well, and die so young. You don't know why the strongest stay behind in their fortress, awaiting the inevitable approach of an unnamed enemy. You don't know, and yet you believe the lie. 

"You will find out, eventually, what drives the orcs, and then you will be moved to unbelievable remorse, as we were. You might even be driven to cross to a new, alien plane, in an attempt to make amends, only to find that the inhabitants of that plane find you just as repulsive as they find the orcs. You might experience a small sliver of the hatred the orcs do, and gain the dimmest understanding of what each one, from the youngest to the eldest, goes through, every day of their lives. 

"All this time, all this energy spent looking for an answer, and this is the closest we have come. As we discovered it for ourselves, so must you. Only then will remorse prevail, and triumph over hate.

"Because that is what the orcs are chased by: ancient, tireless, all-consuming Hate. It manipulates others to kill them, and, when that does not work, it moves to do the job itself.

"Pray that your kin never encounter Hate doing its timeless, lethal work at a massive orcish war camp. Only then will you humans understand what agony is.

"Truly, orcs are the hunted."

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