Excerpt of Traded: The Orc Captive Part Two

CHAPTER ONETraded--The-Orc-Captive-Part-Two


Cold water rushed over Gillian’s hands as she scrubbed and worried the thin fabric of her undergarment in the stream. Turning the cloth to inspect her progress on the rust-colored stain, she frowned and dropped her panties back to the water with a slapping noise. Shoving the material under, she bunched and continued to scrub until the chill bite of the mountain run-off flushed her skin. Only when her fingers were stiff and her arms were aching did she abandon her assault and lean back on her heels with a sigh, allowing the cloth to trail from her fingertips in the current.

She could feel their presence at the stream. They were maybe fifty or so feet away and they were all in a group, talking, laughing. When the wind was right, she could just almost hear what they were saying. Gillian wanted to ignore them, to pretend that she was alone so she could enjoy the early morning sun on her back, but the current drew her eyes, and before she realized what she was doing—she was staring.

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Five women sat in a tight half circle near the water. Two were facing away from her so she could not see their faces, but she noticed they seemed to be leaning in to listen to an older red-haired woman who sat plaiting her long hair as she spoke. It looked as though the woman was telling a story. Gillian also leaned in, though she knew the action was futile. She settled instead for watching the woman’s thin lips as they formed her words.

Gillian’s focus on the older woman was so intent that she only became aware by degrees that another woman had taken notice of her poor attempt to eavesdrop. She did not know how long the woman had been watching her, but she chose to face her down without apology. Lifting her gaze, Gillian met the icy glare of the haughty brunette. Then, as if in slow motion, she watched as the woman sneered and turned toward the others to whisper something accompanied with gestures in Gillian’s direction. A moment later, the women were laughing and twisting around to look.

The thin bravado Gillian had worked all morning to cultivate came crashing down around her and she lowered her eyes to the ground, her cheeks flaming. She berated herself for exposing her vulnerability to the vultures who were even now eating her alive. Closing her eyes, she struggled to concentrate on her breathing. She inhaled through her nose until her lungs were filled with the crisp forest air, and then she held it before releasing her breath through her mouth. Realizing they might still be watching her, she threw herself once again into her scrubbing as if she would wear the delicate fabric down into nothing and wash away the morning with it.

Over the next few moments, the hum of the stronghold, the smashing of a smith’s hammer on steel, and the growling of two orcs working out a personal dispute somewhere behind her began to occupy Gillian’s awareness as she made a solid effort to put her humiliation out of her mind. Needless to say, her attempt to regain a sense of dignity was in vain as her eyes were drawn back to the group only a short while later.

Trish, with her laundry basket in hand, was making her way toward the group. As she grew near, Gillian saw the women beckon for her to join them. Then she watched as the women adjusted their positions to allow room for Trish to be added to their circle. Sweet, innocent Trish. An unexpected pang of jealousy struck Gillian so hard that she began to feel a bit lightheaded. They had welcomed Trish with warmth and smiles. Gillian tried to return her focus to the task in front of her, but ended up just watching the water rush against the rocks.

Lost in the soft white noise of the rapids, Gillian did not notice Trish’s proximity until her shadow fell over her shoulder. Startled, Gillian hurried to bunch her stained panties into her palm before Trish could see them.

“I didn’t conceive either.” Trish plopped herself down next to Gillian without waiting for an invitation, set her basket to the side, and got right to work on her own wash. “You know, some women have though, as far as anyone can tell. Their cycles stopped. Birkita’s daughter, the red-head? She’s one of ‘em.”

“Trish, why…what are you doing?”

“Hmm? What do you mean? Gossiping?”

“No, I mean why are you talking to me? When—” Gillian almost glanced toward the group again but caught herself.

Trish turned to Gillian, her laundry forgotten. “Look. You were the first person to talk to me when no one else would.” She shrugged. “Why wouldn’t I talk to you?”

Gillian gave Trish a sort of half smile before turning her eyes back to the water, unsure of what to say. She began wringing out her wash when a thought struck her. “Trish, those women…how will they know who the father is?”

“Oh. Uh,” Trish frowned. “I suppose they won’t.”

Gillian was surprised that Trish did not seem bothered, but fell silent as the implications began to unravel in her mind: a single orc could potentially father several children by different women, thereby making the children siblings. However, as it would be difficult to tell which orc had fathered them, their last names would come from their mothers. But it would be impossible to separate the children who were blood related from those who were not.

Gillian’s eyes grew wide as the simplicity of it dawned on her. “Trish, the clan is family.”

Trish glanced up from her work. “I don’t follow.”

“Trish, the whole clan—if the children could all be siblings, then the orcs could all be fathers.”

Trish shook her head. “I doubt they would all be fathers, Gill.”

“No but they would, see? If none of the fathers are known, then all of them are possible fathers. Think about it. It would be the one thing that would unite the clan above all else. Haven’t you seen the way they cooperate with one another? They are made for war, Trish. How else would that even be possible?”

Trish glanced up at Gillian but did not say anything.

Gillian resumed her wringing. She had to admit there was at least one problem with her conclusion. Fire-axe’s present situation aside, it must pose a problem for orcs to find their mates in general. If she was right, adults would always have to find their partners outside of the clan or risk inbreeding. She tried to imagine orcs courting but the sudden visual of a muscle-bound orc on bended knee, holding a bouquet of flowers in offering made her snort.

“Have you told Valthurg yet?”

“Told what? …Oh.” Gillian sobered. “No.”

Trish looked surprised. “Do you think he’ll be upset?”

“It’s not that.” Gillian’s brows knit. “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Trish nodded and placed her hand over Gillian’s.

Impatient, Gillian pulled away. “You don’t understand—it’s not like that. He won’t hurt me. He’s not—” Gillian shook her head. “He doesn’t make me do anything I don’t want. He’s even been teaching me some self-defense.”

Trish sat listening.

“You know what? I’m going to tell him. I’ll tell him today.”

Trish reached over and rubbed Gillian’s back. “It’ll be fine. It sounds like he might be disappointed, but it’ll be fine.”

Gillian nodded, then smiled, grateful for Trish.

Having finished washing and wringing their laundry, Gillian and Trish gathered their wet bundles into their baskets and began heading back toward the settlement. As they grew near, the hairs on the back of Gillian’s neck began to stand on end as if she could feel someone’s eyes on her. While listening to Trish tell her a joke she had missed the night before, Gillian searched their surroundings for the source of her discomfort. She was about to give up and attribute her unease to paranoia, when she found him.

Gruul. His eyes glinted orange and set him apart from the shadows where he stood, unmoving, beneath an awning across the square. His jaw was clenched and his upper lip curled into a sneer.

As the path led Gillian and Trish closer, Gillian could see that his posture was stiff and he held his weight with the support of an axe; his fingers were ashen as they gripped its handle. Gillian could read the threat in his eyes—she could see that his rage boiled close to the surface—but she doubted he would risk attacking her in the open with so many to witness him do it.

“It’s a cucumber, Gill, get it? Cu-cum-ber?”

Gillian’s thoughts froze. She opened her mouth, and then closed it again.

“You weren’t listening, were you? I asked you what is long and hard and has ‘cum’ in it.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just—”


Gillian’s head snapped up. “How did you—?”

“I saw you watching him. And it’s not like it’s a secret that you gave him that limp.”

Gillian did not know what to say. “Trish, he’s vile. Why do they even tolerate him?”

Trish shrugged. “His tracking skills.”

“Trish!” Gillian stopped walking.

“What?” Trish rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine. So, apparently, he was the sole reason that Fire-axe found Deathfang after they—” Trish hesitated. “Well, you know what they did.”

“Massacred Fire-axe’s women.”

“Right. So when the males returned from what would be their last hunt of the year, everything was in disarray. The damage had already been done, but Deathfang had vanished. After a while, tracks were found that led into the stream, so the orcs began scouring the banks on either side looking for where they emerged. Some of the orcs even considered that Deathfang might have pulled themselves from the water into the trees. Can you imagine? So they began searching the trees as well. Meanwhile, Gruul thought escape through the stream was too obvious, so he began searching alone in the opposite direction. As he searched, snow began to fall. But as much as he fought it, in a matter of hours the severity of the storm forced him to seek shelter. Just when he began to think the Deathfang orcs were made of shadows—”

“He found a print.”

“Yes! The print was half-filled with snow, but it wasn’t old. Gruul knew that a storm that bad would force any flesh and bone creature to seek shelter. They were close.”

“So he returned for reinforcements and Deathfang met their end?”


“Mmhmm. You sounded like you were getting a little carried away there. Come on, let’s go this way. I would rather he not see how awed you are by him.”

“Okay, fine. But don’t you think it’s kind of amazing that he was the only one who thought to look in the opposite direction?”

“No. No, Trish, I do not. He was probably trying to avoid a confrontation. He certainly was not trying to be noble.” Gillian scoffed. That was Trish for you—always trying to find the good in people.

Gillian was shaking her head at her hair-brained friend when her foot caught on an exposed root and sent her careening into a massive stone-gray orc. She scrambled to regain her footing, but her breath caught in her throat when she felt the orc wrap his thick fingers around her wrist. In the time it took for her to realize he meant to restrain her, he had already managed to manipulate her fall so that her back pressed snug against his solid body and his trunk of an arm held her caged there.

“What do we have here?”

Gillian squared her shoulders. These orcs only seemed to understand one thing. “If you want to keep that hand, you’ll release me.”

“Is that so?” The orc’s smirk spread into a wide grin and he leaned in close. “And are you going to be the one to do the taking, then?” He laughed.

“Valthurg will do the taking and you know it.”

Gillian’s eyes flew to Trish. She stood rigid with her feet planted. Gillian could see the color had drained from her face and there had been a high tremor in her voice when she issued her threat, but Trish did not flinch as she faced down the stone orc. Gillian was impressed.

The orc took a long moment to consider Trish’s words. He was likely weighing himself against Valthurg and arriving at the inevitable outcome: he was larger but Valthurg was deadly—the odds were not in his favor. He grunted and released his hold on Gillian. Then, with a look of disgust, he turned and trudged away.

Gillian watched the orc retreat into the ale house before she turned back to find Trish doubled over, taking big gulps of air. “Trish! Are you all right?”

Glancing up at Gillian, Trish shook her head. “That could have gone so differently.”

Gillian agreed. “I didn’t think you had it in you.”

“Neither did I. But I think I have to toughen up, you know? Living with orcs?”

“Don’t we all.” Gillian offered a hand to help Trish and then stooped to retrieve her own basket of wet clothes from the grass. She was trying to figure out how to ask Trish how she was holding up, when urgent shouting at the far end of the stronghold drew her attention. She and Trish were both straining to see what the commotion was when a fireball blew straight through the roof of the ale house—the same building the stone orc had just disappeared into.

They heard him before they saw him. Roaring, the stone orc burst through the wooden door and sent splinters of the shattered frame flying in his wake. His coat had caught fire but it seemed a minor annoyance as he wasted no time dropping to the ground and rolling himself through the mud before launching back to his feet. As he broke into a run, he reached for an axe propped near a pile of wood, brandished it above his head, and set off for the main gate, howling for blood. The vapor trailing from his singed coat was all that remained of him as he vanished into the mayhem breaking out across the stronghold.

Black smoke began to flood Gillian’s vision at the same time that the smell of charred wood from the roof of the ale house reached her nose. She saw thick tendrils of it slip from beneath the roof, out through the windows, and curl up like fingers to take hold of the wooden frame sheltering the clay structure. As she stood transfixed, a second and a third fireball blew by, releasing glowing orange embers in their wake that seemed to dance on the wind. With each fireball, the trailing smoke swirled in the air like dragon’s breath, and the blasts, blowing upon impact, were only muffled by the crackling of the spreading fires.

Possessed by practicality, adrenaline soon quelled her disbelief. She remembered Trish who stood rooted in place, her eyes wide. The young woman who had just stared down a brute of an orc twice her size was gone and in her place was a girl, her confidence spent. “Trish!”

Trish’s shoulders trembled. She jumped when another flaming missile crashed through the side of the nearest residence, sending up more debris.

Gillian reached out to frame Trish’s head in her hands and she turned it so that her own face blocked out everything that was happening around them. “Trish!” Gillian willed Trish’s eyes to meet hers. “Find any women you can and help get them to safety!” Trish jerked a nod but Gillian knew she had not heard her. “Trish. Keep it together and we will get through this.” Gillian waited until she saw comprehension hit Trish’s countenance and then she released her and sprinted past.

“Wait! Where are you going?”

Gillian stopped to spare a glance behind her, “to find Valthurg!” She watched for a split second longer to see Trish nod acknowledgement and set off in the opposite direction from the fighting. Then Gillian turned back and launched herself toward the main gate.

Excerpt of Enslaved: The Orc Captive Part One

Enslaved--The-Orc-Captive-Part-OneSome of the women were still crying and others were scowling, but many just looked dazed with their heads bowed and their stares fixed on the grass. Without exception, they looked exhausted and were covered in dirt. No one smiled. Gillian did not need a mirror to know that she fit right in with them. She told herself that the sooner she accepted this was her life, the sooner she could find a way to improve it.

“Does anyone know where they’re taking us?”

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The question had been whispered by a girl that looked similar in age to Gillian. She looked as if she was fresh out of her family’s home, like Gillian, but she seemed more innocent for having lived the same eighteen years or so.


Reluctantly, Gillian answered. “No.”

Still tethered to the line, the girl did her best to scoot closer so she could sit near Gillian. Gillian’s eyebrows lifted. She immediately regretted having spoken to the girl and told herself that she probably would have sat next to anyone who had responded.

“Do you think anyone will come for us?”

Gillian sighed. “I hope so.”

“What are they going to do to us? Why keep us alive like this?”

Gillian’s mind responded but nothing escaped her lips. Her voice had been silenced by her fear. She thought the manner in which the beasts had handled her was evidence enough of what to expect from them, but she was not about to share her suspicions with this girl. Maybe she hasn’t been touched yet.

“I don’t know what to do.”

Gillian shook her head. “Try not to think about it.”

The girl seemed to pick up on the finality in Gillian’s tone and she remained quiet for a while. Then, seeing that no one else wanted to talk, she tried again. “My name’s Trish. What’s yours?”

Gillian took a deep breath and looked into the girls face a second time. Other than her small frame, she was Gillian’s opposite through and through. She had a light dusting of freckles across her nose, sun-kissed blond hair, and the widest blue eyes Gillian had ever seen. Gillian knew the girl would have a load of trouble in store for her, yet she seemed so hopeful in spite of her predicament. Gillian decided to take pity on her. “It’s Gillian.”

Trish smiled. Apparently comforted to have made a friend, she sat quietly next to Gillian and they shared a silence with one another like a secret all their own.

Not much later, one of the grayskins approached holding a burlap sack. When he stood near, he dropped the sack at Gillian’s feet. The savory smell of roasted bird tugged at her senses. Feeling her stomach rumble, Gillian realized she had not eaten since yesterday’s dinner in the camp.


The women eyed the orc as he made his retreat. Once he was far enough away that he could not snatch the offering back, a number of women dug into the sack and wrenched out pieces of the meat. With furtive glances toward the orcs, they consumed the food with more civility than the beasts around them.

“At least it’s cooked.”

Gillian was beginning to appreciate Trish’s optimism. Such things did not come easily to Gillian. Her previous life had taught her that optimism just left room for disappointment.

She turned her attention back to the food. Despite her hunger, Gillian could not bring herself to eat. Her stomach wrestled with her head. Some nights, after her mother had knocked her around maybe a little more than usual, Gillian did not eat for the desire would depart her. Only days later, when need finally overtook her lack of interest for the food, would she force some cold porridge down her throat. She was still struggling with her decision when she noticed that Trish had stopped eating and was sitting watching her.

“You should eat. Who knows when we’ll stop again or how much longer we’ll be walking.”

Gillian gave Trish a sort of half smile and rummaged around in the sack. It was not as if she could just recapture her desire to eat and force it back into her body. She knew from experience that it was a process for her to reclaim some modicum of emotional balance and it usually took time. Worrying her fingers at the frayed edges of the burlap sack, she looked around for a distraction.

It was then that Gillian noticed one of the grayskins was staring at her as he ate. She could not help but wonder how long he had been studying her. She returned his gaze as he chewed his meat, his eyes never leaving hers. As he took another chunk of his meal, he tore into it like a predator savoring the spoils of a fresh kill. Unease crept through Gillian once more. She watched as he rose, with the meat still clasped firmly in his hand, and approached her with determination. As he closed the gap between them, she recognized the red war paint on his face and chest, the hard muscles that seemed to flex as he grew near. His distinctive yellow eyes with their diamond-shaped pupils were unmistakable.

Gillian’s unease faded and was replaced by curiosity. When the grayskin was standing right in front of her, he stepped over the other women, kneeled at her side, and stared into her with his penetrating yellow eyes. She was not sure if it was anger she saw in them or craving. The thought sent tremors through her chest and shoulders. He chomped another bite out of his food while eyeing her up and down. Then he raised the drumstick and held it a few inches in front of her lips in offering. She knew that with each bite he had marked the meat with his saliva, but her hunger had suddenly become so heavy that it did not matter.

Gillian’s mouth watered. She could see that the meat dripped with juice and she yearned to taste all of it. Her hands still bound, her fingernails raked her left thigh; all of a sudden she could barely hold herself back. She stared at the temptation held in the grayskin’s grasp, then looked up into his wolfish eyes. He still wore the same look and Gillian realized he was daring her to take a bite—he wanted her to partake of a meal that was rightfully his. The meat was his property and he had the power to give or take it from her as he saw fit.

Her eyes on his, she accepted his challenge. She pulled her lips back and sank her teeth into the offering, letting the juice from the roast run down her chin. Breathing hard, her eyes closed and her head fell back as she chewed the meat. She felt an almost immediate alleviation of the ache that her hunger had left within her.

Pleased, the grayskin turned the drumstick to offer Gillian access to more. With each bite she took, she knew she was trading something to him in return—a promise perhaps—but she did not care. She was consumed by hunger and felt as if she could not get enough.  She wildly bit down again and again until only scraps of meat hung from the bone.

A little while later Gillian realized that, in her zeal, she had finished the offering too soon. She sat back on her heels in disappointment. Then, looking around her, she felt a sudden twinge of embarrassment when she realized that she had eaten with such abandon in front of so many strangers.

Appraising Gillian with a look of satisfaction, the grayskin stood and walked back to where he had been sitting. Without taking his eyes from her, he reclined and proceeded to finish the rest of his feast.