“If you weren’t told we were enemies, would you still hate me?”
Her words stopped his hand. He was in mid-swing and now he did not know where his aim should lead him. It had been so simple until she had started making sense.
He had entered the clearing searching for fresh water. Luckily there was a small pool of water that looked fresh and clean. It was a hot day and he wasted no time in dunking his face into the cool water. He was not sure if the swirling cloud of dirt in the water came up from the bed or had washed off from his face. He didn’t really care as he gulped down the cold water.
“You should drink slower. You’ll chill your stomach and cramp.”
The voice startled him and he coughed and choked at the same time. He turned to the left and saw the she-Orc. She wore leather breeches covered by a simple spun cloth shift cinched at the waist. Although the clothes were simple and brown they were accented by multicolored beads and highly polished rock that sparkled in the sun. Her long black hair was tied into a single thick braid. The only hair adornment he could see was a red and white beaded headband about the width of a finger that sat just above her eyes. Her strong features were surprisingly appealing despite the deep green hue of her skin.
He realized he was staring moments before he realized he was staring at an Orc, a defiler, the enemy of free peoples. He stepped back and felt his boot flood with water from the little pond. He drew his sword.
She merely stared at him with confusion and a touch of bemusement. He still had the boyish blush of youth on his face even as the first patch of whiskers were starting to come through. He wore armor of leather and steel and she couldn’t help but wonder if he knew how perilous another step back would be with such weight strapped to him. His hair was copper, his eyes green and his sword notch-less. They may be of similar ages but she wondered how different their paths had been.
“Come closer and you’ll regret it,” he barked.
“I see. Then I’ll be on my way.”
She raided her brow and held back a laugh. “So I am to neither advance nor retreat? There is not much option left.”
“You’re an Orc,”he said sounding less than sure of himself.
“And you are a human.”
“Yes, I am” at least that he answered confidently. “But your the enemy. We humans hate Orcs.”
“Then, for now at least, see me not as Orc, but as a fellow thirsty traveller.”
“But,” his was once again lost its firmness. “My family hunt Orc.”
“They should find a truer purpose in life.”
He didn’t know what he should do. He knew what his father would say and, as in most things, he followed his father’s mind. He drew back his sword to strike…
And she said that phrase that made him stop. He looked at her again and for the first time she saw the girl that stood before him. In this setting, near a glittering pond and amid the trees, she looked much more at home than he felt. She seemed more natural. He saw that there was no fear in her eyes but instead some kind of hope.
“I don’t I hate you,” he said at last.
“Then that is a place to start.”
As I work on one project my mind sometimes wonders to what comes next. I’ve been thinking of doing a more all-ages or young adult fantasy novel with a teenage Orc girl as the protagonist. I don’t know if any of this scene will appear in the novel, but I want to find her voice. All I know about the story is that it will not be a romance.