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Taking Up the Ax...
Haft 6
© 2021 James LaFond
“What!?” roared King Ork, as his chieftains glowered in a ring of hulking menace.
Haft spoke as loudly as possible, so that all around could hear, “Four, elf, scalps! I, Haft, take, up, ax!”
“What!?!” roared the King.
'Oh, this orkker is stupid!'
Outsmarting orkkers in speed skull was easy. But it had never occurred to Haft that their very density of mind would make outsmarting them in parley difficult—though it was now painfully obvious to his human half.
“Oh, Great Ork King!”
'Let that shit sink in to his meaty head.'
The Ork King was soaking it up, jutting his jaw, standing with a bit more of a strut.
'Work this dumbass!'
“Ork One!” he shouted as he raised his scalps to the unseen sun.
“Bull of Bulls!” he fairly sang as he spun on his heel and flourished the scalp-adorned haft in his hand, and the Ork King expanded his chest and posed as the wantons swooned and babbled for his drool! Haft had become the favorite of the wantons and whelps and wenches due to his high-flying speed-skull style, passing the head long and so forth, while the bulls who believed in running the skull snarled that he was a prancing sissy...
He was noted only for his speed skull acumen. So he had to work this stylistic divide.
'That's good, the Fifth Chieftain, what is his name—Brand, he is mad, sees me angling for his place.'
Flourishing the scalps on high and pointing dismissively with his left hand,which an ork used for petting wantons and whelps and wenches, at the feet of Brand, Haft shouted, “Elf-Bane, My Sire, Your Loyal Ward against elves, was ambushed in the Forest Dark!”
He had their attention, all of them.
“I avenged him!”
“I, took, four, elf, souls!!”
“I would take up the ax to cut down the Phony Elf Tree!!!”
“What!?” roared the Ork King.
“Oh, this orkker is stupid as the stump he stands on.”
'Oh, shit! I orked up—I said that shit!'
Silence sat like a suffocating silence upon the assembled multitude.
'Oh, this shit is bad.'
“Stoop-it!” roared the Fifth Chief, named Brand, as he raises his great bearded ax and stalked closer to Haft.
“Da King da smartess o' all! I'll split you 'alf-ooman 'ead, buck—booyyy!”
'Feather this bed.'
Haft shouted so loud it hurt, and it sounded bull deep, “Stooped, King Ork is stooped on his throne—you know, bent over, weighted by the dumb-ass Brand and by the weird ways of elves, and the slave-making ways of men, and the greed-taking of dwarfs! Brand just called King Ork Stoop-it! The King is Our Battle Song! And dumbass Brand called him stoop-it?”
That did it, Brand was fulminating in a rage and King Ork, his name long forgotten, swelled his chest and flicked his mailed stone girdle with his heavy black nails so that the chink of chain-enclosed stones made the wenches, and the wantons and even the old crones swoon and sing for his attention.
Haft declared his challenge, “I, Buck Haft, with my un-headed handle, challenge Brand, the Dumbass to duel in honor of Great King Ork!”
'Yes, naming has a power—name an ork and you have him.'
The Ork Space went mad with exultation as wantons, wenches and crones sang, whelps and bucks clanged little spear-hafts and ax-hafts together, and the flats of four great bearded axes rang against the hide-bound shields spiked with iron held by the attending chieftains.
Only Brand declined to make noise, as he simmered, smoldered and stalked towards Haft—and Haft realized that he was but half the girth of this mighty, girded bull. But a duel was half know and half show, as Father had said. And Haft had more know in his head than all of ork-kind combined and Father had not duel-taught his half-human son for naught.
The Ork King rang his hammer head upon the Brass Anvil and the duel was sanctioned with all of the ceremony orkish orthodoxy required.
Haft—as part of his ruse, leaped high in the air so that he would land at the feet of Brand. As soon as he landed he rolled and the mighty ax of Brand cleaved deep into the old petrified root of the Burnt Throne Tree.
Haft rolled left, out from under the ax arm of the hulking bull chieftain, away from that treacherous-spiky, skull-smashing shield, sprang up, smashed that great right ax-hand of Brand into a bloody, shattered mess and then leaped high in the air, bringing down the haft of his un-headed ax unto the wooden helmet of Brand and sending him staggering, to fall in stunned disbelief.
From under the ruined eve of his gay-painted war hat, Brand's eyes lost all hope as they looked up at his conqueror, and was unable to raise his shield in time to block the next swing of the iron-wood haft wielded with such dexterity by the buck named Haft.
The gathered breath of Orkdom, weezed out in a hiss, as every ork from the weest whelp to the Great King, watched as their youngest and most recently elevated chieftain, the ork who had driven the Dwarfs back from the Clear Spring in last Year's Stunty War, was about to have his now bare head split by the whistling iron-wood of a weird-ass half-breed buck...and Haft thought it wrong, and diverted his stroke to the inside of the shield, pinning the great heavy disc to the ground.
Then, as all of Orkdom—including poor orked-up Brand—held half of its collected breath, Haft, with the presence of mind got from his human half, avoided all possible responsibility for his actions and asked, “Wise Ork King, may I spare Brave Chief Brand?”
The King roared in exultation, “Yessss! I only gotz five a dem!”
Haft then stepped off, pried loose the ax-head from the root, saluted Brand and then the King, and turned to address his speed-skull team as the age-grade team chief should...
Then the shock and surprise of the blow that Foul Hag Luck then delivered staggered Haft in his first arrogant steps into Bullhood.
“No!” he blurted.
“No!!” he now rumbled...
Upon the Stump of the King...
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