Three days passed since I found the elf girl.
In that time, I had continued nursing her as best I could, but there were a lot of complications, which made things difficult.
The elves allure really drew out the carnal urges in orcs, to an unprecedented degree. I had tried to avoid looking directly at her face, but there were other dangers I had to contend with, such as the slender curve of her exposed neck that was visible as she tossed and turned in her sleep, as well as the sensation of her skin when I wiped away the sweat from her drenched body.
Constantly looking after her, I had gotten some of her blood on my face, which had dried and caked there.
As I had been religiously diligent in tending to her, her fever had subsided quite a bit; and while she had yet to open her eyes, she was now able to swallow down water and bits of crushed fruit.
Placing the cloth I’d wet from the lake against her forehead, I picked up my beloved spear.
Wolves. As they could recognize the scent of a weakened creature, the forest wolves were the enemy of anyone injured. There was no better prey than an elf girl who couldn’t get up.
This was the sixth time the forest’s wolves had attacked.
Luckily, as they came in ones or twos, I had been able to repel them without much trouble. Maybe they were runts from another litter. Pulling my spear out of this one’s head, viscous, slippery brains spilled out onto the ground.
The meat of wolves was muscled and tough, so wasn’t suitable for eating. The smell of blood would also draw other beasts, so I disposed of the corpse by throwing it away deep in the forest.
Returning to the lake shore, I couldn’t find the elf girl anywhere. She should have been resting in the hollow of the tree, but I couldn’t find so much as a trace of her. She shouldn’t yet be able to get up on her own though——
“Aahh, I’m not going to hurt you…!”
“Like I’d believe that!?”
The knife pressed against my neck glinted ominously.
As expected of an elf. I hadn’t been able to sense her at all. She did seem a little startled at my fluent speech, but it wasn’t enough to give me an opening. Unlike humans, elves at least understand that orcs could speak.
A murderous aura emanated from behind me, and I almost screwed up and jabbed at her with my spear.
“Where is this place?”
“It’s a lake, in the western part of the forest. I found you collapsed, and brought you here.”
“I knew someone was looking after me, but for it to be a sleazy pig…”
Was being tended to by an orc really that shocking? Or, maybe she had the wrong idea about what I’d been doing to her while she slept.
The knife dug into the skin of my neck.
“If I’ve been defiled by a pig, then I can’t go on living…at the very least I’ll take you with me to the next life.”
Yeah, she had the wrong idea.
“Umm…I, you know, haven’t done anything?”
I immediately regretted the words. Who would believe an orc? Especially as the one I was faced with was a well-known pig-hater.
“Sure I’m an orc, but if I’d been doing anything like that, you’d be in a pen right now. Well, that’s how others of my race would treat you, anyway.”
“If I was a regular orc, you’d be completely slick and sticky all over, unable to move.”
Though I was one of the salacious beasts, her body was clean, without a trace of having been violated. She had no choice but to accept it. I had one more card to play.
“I may be an orc, but I’m aiming to be a gentleman. I would never force myself on someone who didn’t want it.”
Silence. Then, the girl removed the knife from my neck. But her laughter made my gut clench.
“Hehehe…an orc! An orc trying to be a gentleman is crazy! Haha, ah my stomach hurts. Yeah…I guess if it’s an orc like you, you couldn’t do anything.”
It seemed she accepted the situation readily enough, but still I was a little put out.
I turned towards her, making sure to avert my gaze so I wouldn’t look directly at her face. She laughed again.
“If it’s you, maybe being a gentleman isn’t impossible after all, bwahaha!”
This was really unpleasant.
I tried to support her, this elf girl who had introduced herself as Myuke, but she brushed me away.
“I am thankful you helped me out, and I believe you didn’t do anything violent to me, but anything else is a different story. Could you not touch me?”
Her tone was sharp, but we orcs were used to this kind of treatment. Actually, it was easier for me if she was on guard against that one moment, which could get her violated. This wasn’t her being ungrateful; it was just the way things were.
Being that the heads of orcs were empty and pink inside, they wouldn’t have thought anything of it; and I was an orc. Still, it was hard hearing those words from someone you’d helped.
When Myuke noticed my slumped shoulders, she showed a somewhat apologetic expression, but there was nothing to be done. Orcs were the bane of women everywhere, and I had already accepted that truth.
“Um, Roote, I am grateful. For saving me of course, and I know you’re not like the other orcs, but it’s just…” She said, reaching out to touch my hand.
“Please, don’t look so sad. I understand how things are, I really do.”
…She was a kind one. But she would probably continue reflexively distancing herself. After all, the fear of orcs was engraved into her very being. But even as she looked about to cry, she held my hand tightly.
All races that lived in this forest despised the orcs. This was most definitely ingrained in their very bones.
Looking a little forlorn, Myuke crawled into the hollow of the tree.
Myuke had still been weak when she awoke, and since then three more days had passed.
As she was awake now, my responsibilities decreased to gathering food, and keeping the cloth damp.
As her recovery progressed, the wolves stopped coming around too.
Considering what had happened before, the distance between us was a sensitive thing. We talked, but it was very awkward. Our bodies never touched, or made contact of any sort.
Even so, I was planning on going our separate ways once she had recovered enough, so maybe it was for the best.
Drawing water from the lake, I set the cloth in the makeshift container. While it wasn’t the best way for her to wash, it was still better than nothing.
She scrubbed aggressively, but there was no dirt that I could see. Naturally, I preferred cleanliness. The book had said that all gentlemen had good hygiene, so I made sure to wash myself every day.
Actually, the reason I had searched for this lake, was because I wanted a way to wash myself regularly.
As Myuke had regained consciousness, I was no longer tormented by my carnal urges. When I had wiped the sweat from her body, my head had been ready to split from euphoria.
That said, now that she could move on her own, I didn’t need to worry or hold back anymore. She was able to wash herself now, and when she did, I always went deep into the forest. Peeking at a girl bathing was a disgrace to gentlemen everywhere.
After washing herself, changing into a second set of clothes she had and washing the old ones, she crawled back inside the tree’s hollow.
“…I would never have believed it if someone told me an orc could bathe, but I’m already used to it.”
“I think I’m the only one. After all, orcs don’t generally wash themselves.”
Myuke wrinkled up her nose, as though she had experienced the stench of an orc before.
“By the way, what are you planning on doing once you’re feeling better?”
I tried to ask as nonchalantly as I could, but still her shoulders sank at the question.
“I wonder…there’s nowhere for me to go back to, and nowhere for me to go either…”
“…Even though your companions are the same race, I wonder why…”
At the very least, orcs wouldn’t abandon one of their own. If you were the same race, then to an orc, you were all family.
“You know, an elf’s magic is their pride and joy. These ears too, are part of that pride, as they give us the ability to use that magic. Losing them, you’re as good as dead. That’s why…they can’t forgive someone who disgraces that honor, even if it’s one of their own. ——I was the same way too, long ago.”
With those words, Myuke fell into silence. We both were quiet for a long time.
Unable to stand the solemn atmosphere anymore, I opened my mouth to say something, when I heard a commotion coming from the direction of the forest.
Myuke apparently noticed it too. She gripped the knife that had once been placed at my throat, and squinted her eyes. Following her lead, I snatched up my beloved spear.
There was the sound of underbrush rustling, before the vegetation at the edge of the basin parted. Standing there with long ears, an elf; an existence that hated orcs more than any other.
I hurriedly tried to cover Myuke, but the elf, who was accustomed to the forest’s gloom, had excellent vision. He spotted her first.
“She’s alive after all, what an eyesore. You should have died by the roadside…”
Why doesn’t she say anything in reply?
“Hmph, well, whatever. It’s an order from the village head. This is gonna be your grave!”
Why is she looking down?
“Hey! I found the dead girl!”
At his shout, more elves began appearing one after the other.
“Fuck, you really made things difficult, you honorless, dead piece of shit!” Another elf spat vehemently.
Did Myuke do something wrong? She had been attacked by wolves, and lost half an ear. She shouldn’t have done anything that would warrant her being ostracized from the village.
Yet, all this talk about honor and pride…it’s fucking shit.
“Please, don’t cry.”
I spoke as softly as I could to Myuke, who was holding back her sobs. I wanted to gently rub her shaking shoulders, but I was an orc, and that was surely impossible.
“You need to leave here now, please. If you do, you won’t get caught up in this.”
I couldn’t take it any more.
“I’m not running away. I can’t run away.”
“It would be a disgrace for a gentleman to leave a crying girl behind and run! I will fight! I’ll protect you!”
Strengthening the grip on the spear I held, I pushed myself up. From the elves position, they apparently hadn’t noticed me. Their expressions of shock and disgust at the sudden appearance of an orc attested to this.
“Those things you said to Myuke, they’re horrible!? A race that tosses aside their own kind just because of losing an ear, you’re a worse kind of scum than us orcs! We would never abandon a companion! You lower lifeforms! Filthy elves that only care of honor!”
With those words, I readied my spear and charged. The length of my spear was on par with my height, so I had the longer reach, compared with their shorter weapons. This gave me an advantage; but they could use magic.
Wary of my raging approach, one of the elves threw out his hand, creating a floating boulder. It wasn’t just one, but a multitude, blocking him from view.
“You disgusting pig!”
With that, all of the projectiles came soaring towards me. No matter how toned I was, receiving that full on would have squashed me flat. This was magic. But, I wasn’t going to sit around waiting to be pulverized. I began spinning my spear at an incredible speed, twisting the shaft to deflect the trajectory of the incoming boulders.
The endless assault of stones met my spear, and were reflected back to slam into the head of their caster, who stood at the front of the group. Gray matter and blood splattered all over, and the remaining elves sucked in their breath.
Their pause was fatal.
In their shock, I dove into their ranks, thrusting my spear through the throat of one of the elves who had been beside the stone caster. Ignoring the spray of blood, I jerked my spear free, and in the same fluid motion swung it like a scythe.
At the same time the elf who had had his throat opened fell, the head of the one beside him separated from the body, almost comically. As I watched the head dispassionately, I threw my beloved spear hard at the last remaining elf.
My aim was true, and it pierced his heart.
It was over. Their magic was a powerful threat, and things would not have gone so well if they had been better prepared to use it.
Pulling my spear from the elf that had fallen backwards, I whipped it to the side, freeing it of blood; before returning back to where Myuke stood.
Though they had once been her companions, I had killed members of her own race before her eyes. I figured there would be some harsh words or rebuke awaiting me. Instead, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she threw herself forward, clinging tightly to me.
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Chapter 3 is one you definitely want to close your door for.
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