Gnashrak's cheeks burned with humiliation as he sat staring out over the plains. The day had started out so well, too. With the appearance of the Crooked Spears tribe on their doorstep, the day was set for feasting, drinking and some good trading.
Guzrond had won the ritual punch-up quite handily, to the appreciation of the rest of the tribe. Magnanimous in victory, he'd shared a drink with his opponent, and the day's festivities had begun.
Gnashrak had figured he'd do a bit of trading before getting plastered; the Crooked Spears were known for the quality of their steel, and he'd needed a new knife. Then one of them had called him a weedy git.
Of course, no Thunder Child was going to stand for an insult like that, so Gnashrak had slugged him in the face. In true orcish fashion, he'd shrugged off the blow and responded in kind.
Gnashrak wasn't sure how long he'd been out, but by the time he'd come around, the orc was long gone. He'd wanted nothing more than to find the bastard and pound the living snot out of him, but it would probably just go the same way the second time around.
Although no one seemed to be paying him much attention, he knew that his standing within the tribe had suffered a hit from the ease with which the outsider had beaten him. He'd had to work hard on that standing, given that he was, truth be told, a bit on the weedy side, and it was at times like this that he despaired of ever making a name for himself.
Not that sitting here brooding about it was likely to change anything. Unfortunately, he was hard-pressed to figure out what would. Strength might not be everything when it came to garnering respect among the tribe, but it counted for an awful lot. And without it, Gnashrak could see himself living out his life in the lower ranks of the tribe while others like Guzrond went from triumph to triumph.
It just wasn't zogging fair.
But then, when had fairness ever counted for anything?
Unobserved by the youth, Gorsnik rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "So, dat's da lad, huh?"
Karslak, his opposite number among the Thunder Children, snorted, "Not like it could be anyone else."
Gorsnik had to agree. The kid stood out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the tribe, and he seemed painfully aware of it just now.
"He's a good lad," Karslak continued, "But he's gettin' ta da age where he wants ta make a name fer 'imself. Which means gettin' inta fights. And ya saw 'ow well dat went."
Again, Gorsnik couldn't disagree. For his own good, the lad was going to have to leave the tribe. Otherwise he'd be doomed to a life of mediocrity. Of course, some lads were stuck with being ordinary whatever their circumstances, but they had only themselves to blame for that. The kid at least deserved a fair chance.
"Could always send 'im back 'ome," he remarked.
Karslak was already shaking his head, "Prob'ly shoulda done dat in da beginnin'," he said, "It's a bit late now. He wouldn't fit in any better dere dan he does 'ere."
No doubt Karslak was right here, as well. The tribal tattoos would make Gnashrak stand out for starters. And when you compared his voice to the birdlike twittering of typical elves...
Gorsnik could see why Karslak had asked him for advice. Gnashrak wasn't going to fit in with orcs or elves, despite his best efforts.
"Reckon I've got da answer," he said at length, "I was gonna put together a tradin' party ta Blargh up in Riva. Could always drop da kid off in Doma along da way. Lotta weird types up dere. Even 'ad a drow walk inta camp with a buncha humans, bold as ya like."
Karslak looked rather doubtful at this, but sensibly stopped short of calling Gorsnik a liar to his face. "And ya think Gnashrak'll fit in dere?" he asked.
"No worse'n some," Gorsnik said, "and better dan he would most places."
Of course, it wouldn't be that simple. But Gnashrak ought to adapt well enough. Give him a few years and he might even be able to pass for a local. <p>Centuries of threats of "I'll turn you all to stone!" and "I'll knock you all down!" have caused Domans to develop an instinct to form small groups. For safety, I assure you. â€“ Keir</p>