Dreamweaver chapter 37
At length it came time to break the news and discuss things with the others. We finally gone back to camp and with gnome present we were also able to draw from his knowledge of what his people knew of the orcs while we discussed the situation everyone available at the time. But I was surprised people still wanted to talk about a prisoner exchange even though we told them the orcs were believed to be surrounding us.
There were actually too many things to ask gnome that I really wanted to go over. But we had to focus on what was in front of us directly at the moment. If we didn’t focus on talking sense into the people without common sense then who knows what would happen.
It seemed that the difficult question on our minds was, what to do about the prisoner exchange, and also if we fight, stay here, or run from this place probably while also fighting as we journeyed. I also feared they’d be willing to trade the wrong people for the prisoners.
“You can’t seriously be thinking of giving the orcs women for trade can you?” a girl asked in open hostility. She had her arms folded and seemed to be facing off against Akimoto. Her face was angry red like she’d held her breath for a full minute.
Both Akira and I had the good sense to shut up and stay quiet to size up the mood of the women first. We were both giving each other a look like deer in the headlights because neither of us wanted to be the first to talk in a hot potato discussion like this one.
But Akimoto wasn’t as shrewd that way. And he’s totally shameless.
This conversation alone would get some people dumped by girls they were friends with on the spot. It was like the girls were seeing red and murder for the first time and the vast majority of them were very polarized on this concept, because after all they knew the orcs wanted girls. It would be pointed at whoever was willing to go along with the trading humans deal. I can’t say they were justified however, much of their resentment was self-motivated being afraid they’d be the one traded, I think.
I couldn’t help but see that Rina was giving me a pleading look. She was afraid what that might mean. She stayed really close with her head leaning against my arm for parts of the conversation.
“They won’t really trade us will they?” she whispered.
“We’ll find a way to survive. Don’t worry,” I told her.
Briefly Akira and I had already explained the parley and situation to the other students who were all gathered around, except for a few scouts that were keeping an eye on things around us.
“So they will give back five people that can fight for one girl that gets to be the orc’s sex slave?” Gangster girl asked. She was looking like she’d just gotten sick to her stomach.
“That doesn’t sound like a very good career,” Yuriko snorted.
“It’s a bad situation and not our fault. We didn’t suggest this to them. They brought it to us,” Akimoto countered.
“I’d rather die than be with those filthy and ugly pig orcs,” another girl said.
“So this is why people do Seppuku huh?” another said.
“Shun, whatever happens don’t abandon us please, please, please,” I heard Asakura whisper in my ear from behind. She was pushing up tightly hugging me from behind with more force than necessary because she was scared. I could feel the wonderful feeling of her upper chest pushing into me, and since hers were larger than others by a large margin. It was like a heavy poking softness that spread warmth into my back.
Ah no fair. She was using her charms to get her way…so not fair. How could someone resist this?
“Did you hear me?” she again whispered.
Ah, so distracting. I nodded but didn’t want others to know what we thought.
But I also felt Rina’s terrified hand clutching my arm just above the elbow in another more skeletal and desperate grip.
“Don’t do it Shun,” she whispered.
Did she mean the trade or being with Asakura?
Her eyes seemed to imply both meanings, but she seemed to be looking at both issues intently. All around us the girls were terrified, and there were more of them than boys still. I hadn’t counted on this being an issue either in helping them unite against Akimoto.
“You can’t just trade us off,” Yuriko huffed with teary eyes. She stamped on Akira’s hoof. Somehow she made him feel a small bit of pain, because he hopped a step away.
Akimoto had his hands shoved in his pockets. “I don’t like it, but we can get fifteen people that can fight for only three sacrifices. We could use those to get back some village women to make up the losses. We could still break even from this. And we didn’t cause this to happen. What do you expect us to do?” he pleaded. His aides still were with him on this, but even they looked sort of pathetic looking; like they’d stuck their faces against a blizzard but on the emotional version.
The wrath of women is truly like that of course. Where do I even begin to talk without becoming a political sacrificial lamb, I wondered.
Akira had the same confused look, just like mine. “I can’t believe we are talking about this,” he shook his head.
“Well fifteen people is a lot of lives. How can we not talk about this? We can’t ignore that many extra people would help us survive better,” one boy said.
“You aren’t going to ever get a date with a girl after this,” someone said threateningly.
His face paled. “But its fifteen people we also care about. What about them? Some of them have siblings here on this hill, and in this camp or that are possibly some of those prisoners,” he exclaimed. A few others nodded their agreement.
People suddenly started to realize why people wanted to do the trade. The group of girls had a good percentage of them suddenly look ashamed and very sad.
“If they wanted boys instead of girls, then all you girls would do the trade,” one boy said accusingly.
Some of the girls looked suddenly guilty from that too. And just like that things had suddenly changed in mood. People weren’t sure what to do now.
I can’t believe they are even thinking about this.
I wasn’t sure if Akimoto had siblings in our school or not actually. I didn’t know him that well to know. But I still didn’t trust him, and knew I couldn’t soften up on him.
“Shun, don’t give in,” Asakura whispered in my ear holding me tightly to remind me.
“I’m not, don’t worry,” I whispered. “But we have to keep our cards tight so they aren’t seen until we play our hand.”
Things got complicated again. I’d forgotten that guy and a few others had come here as a group like Rina and I had with their siblings. It was fairly normal for a couple having kids to have another around the same age as the first after all, and then they’d both grow up to be teenagers within a year or two of each other. Naturally they were hoping one of their siblings was one of those people that might be able to be brought back with an exchange. They would have also have the hope their sibling did survive the initially battle at the school.
“I have a brother here too. He might be one of those people too,” someone else that I didn’t know said.
“Yeah me too.”
There was a chorus of agreements of people who believed their loved ones might be part of the prisoners.
Now the camp was fairly evenly divided among people for both sides.
Gangster girl then spoke, “I’ll kill any of you that tries to grab me. I won’t be taken alive either by humans or orcs.” I couldn’t help but notice she had some kind of orc weapon that she was carrying now too. She didn’t look angry though, only scared and her hands shook. But that didn’t make her any less of a threat. They’d realized no one would willingly volunteer to be with orcs after all. Her face remained full of intense pressure just to look at.
“Yeah me too,” another girl said.
All certain group of the girls also were very polarized and staying together. They even gravitated near each other except for the people that had fought with me in our team. Was this the birth of a girl gang now? I hadn’t considered the possibility that the girls might want to not be around the boys.
Was that also because of something Akimoto or Yuta had done to make them that way?
Why were the girls suddenly so protective of each other?
“But we need soldiers to fight. If we don’t have soldiers aren’t we dead anyway?” Akimoto said.
“That…I hate to admit it but that’s true too,” a girl said sadly.
“I thought you wanted to be free and live like hunters in tipis and be like Indians? If you really care about that dream you will need women willing to trust you with your lives. Living free also isn’t trading people in human trafficking,” a girl defied him.
Akimoto looked at me for help. Not fair. I shook my head against his plea for help. But he gave me an angry retort after that. This was going to take awhile and be very messy. It wasn’t something I could end right away because people’s personal feelings were all mixed up in it.
“Look, we all agree women are precious, but we’re weighing fifteen lives against three people. We have to do something, and the orcs are bringing more people here even while we talk,” he said flatly. He wanted to press the issue further but his aide girl was shaking her head trying to warn him not to. He wasn’t listening to her it seems.
“That’s true, the orcs are using the parley to bring in more soldiers,” Gnome said sharply butting in finally. “I’ve seen them do that before with others. Also your crow spy confirmed it. So it’s not a guarantee it’s a real offer but might just be stalling for time.”
Everyone’s hopes were crushed like that.
A deception meant…the offer was a trap after all.
I then noticed Crow Summoner now had more than one crow. Somehow he’d either ranked up, or recruited more and now there were three crows sitting on rocks and checking on flesh torn from the dead. But I still didn’t know which human they belonged too, which made me cautious.
Did he know something we didn’t? How had he gotten so many this quickly? I would have to ask him about it.
If he could suddenly snag more crows where he thought he couldn’t before, did that mean I might be able to learn how to do more heal spells in one shot without getting super exhausted and drained?
“Shun agrees with me that we need to do a prisoner exchange,” Akimoto said suddenly with desperation and defiance.
What?! My mouth hung open in shock. I never agreed!
The whole group suddenly became quiet, looking at me in surprise. Rina and Asakura suddenly pulled back from touching me. They were like really surprised.
“How could you?” Rina whispered.
Before Asakura also reacted further I had to do something! How could Rina not believe me?!
“I never said that! I am not supporting this!” I said aloud bursting out with my voice louder than I wanted it to be.
People were now confused because they knew I was part of why so many people had surprised. I didn’t know until now that my vote counted for a lot with the direction of the others.
“So Akimoto lied about support huh? What else did you lie about?” Gangster girl accused.
Akimoto just folded his arms defiantly. “We need soldiers who can fight!” he argued.
Wait…was Akimoto purposefully trying to cut my support from under me? Did he do that intentionally to sway Asakura and Rina away?
It was hard to breath from Asakura hugging too tight from behind and now Rina was also doing a side hug, though her bust was smaller. They’d come back after seeing me deny him publicly. They were desperate to make sure this didn’t work out too.
I enjoyed getting hugs from the two of them.
But...this is so not fair…
I sighed inwardly though, that being hugged by two girls at once could only come from a situation like this…if only I could somehow have it every day.
“Shun, you let me down,” Akimoto shook head angrily. His aides were also giving me dirty looks.
“Look who’s talking!” Gangster girl said to him, defying him openly. He couldn’t do anything about it either because she was surrounded by girls.
“Look in the first place we still need to talk details before we decide what to do. What if the prisoners of war they return to us are wounded so badly that they can’t even move or require attention from people foraging for food in order to live,” I said. “What if they are mortally injured and already dying or poisoned even? The orc shamans use drugs on their soldiers, and their victims. We have no guarantee we’ll even get people back that can fight. He even suggested that some of them were castrated and their tongues cut out,” I concluded.
“Ah, he did say something like that!” Akira exclaimed suddenly.
“I suppose that could be true,” Gangster Girl said.
“Hmm I hadn’t thought of that,” one of Akimoto’s aides said.
“Would someone like that even be able to retreat or move without weeks of near paralysis? In the end that might set us up for losing more people by making several people have to carry that person each right?” Akira wondered aloud.
“Gnome-san, what is the chance that the orcs’ prisoners are still not injured or poisoned?” Asakura asked him.
Gnome looked down darkly. “I can’t say I know for sure. I’m not an expert on orcs. But twice in the past dwarves that live near here tried to do prisoner exchanges with them that I know of; in both situations the prisoners they traded for died shortly after thereafter from mysterious reasons.”
“That’s terrible,” Rina gasped.
“Poison probably?” Asakura said softly.
“Why didn’t you say that at the start?” I said aloud.
Gnome shrugged, “you don’t know me. What if you thought I was lying?”
He’s still either an idiot or being tricky, no matter his excuse.
“Well we can still help each other somehow right?” Asakura said to him.
Gnome seemed to be considering her words.
“Also there is another important question to ask,” I said this part stiffly and took a deep breath. “it was pretty uncomfortable to bring up of course. “We need to ask Gnome and each other how many orcs will typically be produced by them having captured one breeding female.”
“That’s so icky…” Gangster Girl said.
“But necessary to know even so if they are our enemies,” Asakura countered her quickly.
“That could influence whether or not we do a trade, assuming they aren’t already mortally wounded,” Akira confirmed.
“Eh? You aren’t siding with them are you?” Yuriko asked him in shock.
“No way babe. I’m just trying to go over details,” he said.
“Damn it!” a lot of people swore just hearing that said aloud. It can’t be helped that talking about it would make people have surprised looks full of fear and desperation.
“That…” Akira didn’t even know what to say.
“That’s so disgusting,” Yuriko finished for him.
“Actually it is a necessary question. The dwarves realized that very question is important in best determining how to fight them and how to win the wars with them. It also points to whether or not they can be negotiated with or pacified somehow,” Gnome said.
“Damn,” Akimoto was suddenly really quiet. He was looking down.
“So how many…” Asakura asked, still hanging onto me. I was a safe place after all.
“If the human female can be kept alive in their breeding pits, she will produce anywhere from four to eight orc pups a year, usually from two different births of course of half that number each. They will mature to be within potential of being a lowly grunt soldier within five years with many of them not necessarily living past that first five traumatic years. Assuming the female doesn’t die from disease or from their harsh pregnancies of two or three pups at a time, they can be forced to live a life of endless torment for at least up to twenty years or more producing young nearly non-stop and always pregnant. Naturally orc breeders have attendants, nurses, and witch doctors non-stop to keep them fed, sometimes with stimulants, sometimes demon blood to strengthen their life force, and full of other kinds of drugs too. They also have to prevent them from committing suicide so it is possible for them to be kept alive before their bodies are burned out in the process. A few rare instances of the breeder females may even mutate into a special type of glutton blob kind of orc from the years of abuse and demonic influence in their breeding pits,” Gnome said tearfully.
What I just heard just now, there was no way to burn it out of my ears it was so horrible.
“F---!” Akimoto gasped in shock.
We couldn’t talk for some time as we considered what he said. How could someone live through that? Everyone stared at Gnome. It was too awful…
“I can’t guarantee it’s the same though for every situation though in the debate about prisoner exchanges and breeding females, because orcs hate dwarves more than any other kind of creature alive. At first we thought a lot of that information was dwarven propaganda. We thought they must be trying to inflame us to help them in their eternal war against the orcs and other evil creatures. But sadly over time it was discovered their information wasn’t fictionalized, but too hellish to not be true. Our information does come from them and they are pretty reliable in many matters and not just this one. And before any of you think about it too much; no there is no such thing as a good orc. They are all servants of hell and evil,” Gnome said, thinking aloud.
The crowd of students got very quiet. Everyone felt bad.
“I guess we can vote on it,” Akimoto said dejectedly. He seemed very depressed.
“Are you crazy? After hearing him describe it like that, what’s there to even vote on? There is no question that we can’t do this and we won’t let it go even with a vote. There are some things too important to leave to popular opinion,” I said.
Several others agreed with me, and also most the women.
“After hearing Gnome describe it, I think we all know what the answer will be. There’s no point to discussing it further,” Akira said.
“Eh? Gnome-san, you say there is a dwarf settlement near here? And how many days travel to the Yayoi city and to this dwarf settlement?” I asked.
That got me thinking; maybe what we really needed was an alternative choice? Till now I hadn’t realized how many different communities might be within just a few days of us. I hadn’t thought of trying to get help from other creatures near us besides the Yayoi mostly because I didn’t know such things were possible. But if that were possible…perhaps new options were opening up.
Should we continue going towards the Yayoi city, now that we know its direction from here? Or should we look for this dwarf city?
My thoughts were broken though by the next question Akira asked, “Hey Gnome, Shun, do you guys think it’s murder to kill orc fetuses and orc babies?”