--He awoke. The air was moist and cold. It was night time, or perhaps morning. He recognized the straw bedding beneath his back, chaffing him, and he had had just about enough of it. He knew what’s going on here. Above him was the red haired Myzrael and a rickety, old, Orkish medicine-man, wearing a ceremonial headdress. They were laying herbs onto the stitches on his gut.
--Myzrael spoke to him, but he could not understand her snorts and oinks. Her pig-head with tusks made no discernable noises, as far as he was concerned. The medicine-man interrupted her with a few grunts and squeals of his own, as Puffy stared into his blank, pig eyes. Myzrael took out her dagger and proceeded to stab him in the gut, causing Puffy significant, sharp pain; as the medicine-man grabbed him by the head and pushed his thumbs into Puffy’s eye-sockets, gouging his eyes out.
--He awoke. He was alone in the cold dirt, darkness all around. Silence. No stitches or herbs on his belly. He stood up. A crack of lightning and a flash of blue light revealed a silhouette above him. It was a humongous, serpentine creature with bat-like wings, pale-blue scales and a hound-like, horned, snout. It grinned, revealing lines of jagged teeth.
-I AM HERE TO BRING YOU METAL.
--The creature’s voice thundered. Puffy thought he was stumped the last time he felt that he had regained his consciousness, but this seemed to top the bill. Before he could have a moment to absorb the otherworldly sight before him, a bolt of lightning shot out from the creature towards him. He jumped away, and heard a loud noise as it blasted the ground behind him.
--He flew into the air and became weightless.
--He floated through the darkness. Why isn’t he awake yet? He isn’t awake yet, is he? Is he awake?
--Is he awake?
--A voice could be heard in the darkness.
-Zarak… Zarak. Zarak!
--He recognized the voice. She would not have called him that.
-Aidan… Aidan. Aidan!
--Yes! That is how she would call him. He remembered the sound of Yoh’s voice. And now he knew. He needed to wake up.
--The sting of Kord’s boot kicking his side knocked him back into now. As he struggled to open his eyes, he understood that he was sitting down in the mud, his back up against a tree, and his arms holding in his guts which were trying to escape from the gaping wound on his stomach.
-I’m not done with you, dog!
--Kord angrily shouted down at him, tossing him what seemed to be a belt with a familiar-looking holster. It was Zarak’s potion belt. The one he had specially hand-crafted for him back in Bartertown. He only had time to use one in the battle when he was captured by the Orks in the Broken Lands. He used the second potion back in the mines of Nomad’s Rest. And sure enough, there was still one potion, tucked into the third holster on the belt. He held onto his wound, tight, with one hand, as he chugged down the remaining pot with the other. The powerful magicks stored within closed his wound, and as they did, he regained sensation across his numb body, which now felt like it was burning up. He stood up, the pricks of millions of tiny pins and needles swarming across his entire skin.
--He remembered now. He remembered who he was. Where he was from. And why he just couldn’t afford to die yet. He looked at Kord, with a renewed hatred. The flame in Zarak’s eyes burned stronger than it had in years. Kord felt it, and smiled with drunken satisfaction. Disgusted, Zarak turned away and sprinted into action, straight at the dire boar.
--As the beast turned towards him, he leaped into the air and landed on top of its humongous, drooling snout. He held onto the javelins sticking out of it, for support. It began to swing about, violently, trying to get him off. He made sure he had good footing and then – with one hand he pulled out a javelin from its thick hide and proceeded to stab at the boar’s head with it. He stabbed thinking about his name. He stabbed thinking about the false one, as well as the true one. He stabbed thinking about his sister. He stabbed thinking about her slumbering cocoon. And he stabbed regretting that he did not at least get a chance to speak to her, before setting off on his path of vengeance.
--But that was then, and here is now. The boar lay dead at his feet, and the Ork Knights cheered, unenthused.
--The booming of Orkish drums and horns resonated in his skull, mixing with the thoughts of who he was, where he was, how he got there, and what he left behind. As an Ork feast blared around him with chatter and music, he sought out the Cloud Shamans. They had colourful pipes made out of wood covered with magickal runes, animal bones and decorated with feathers, claws and teeth. One of them had a pipe with a dried human ear attached to it. That one seemed particularly displeased with Zarak, but he too allowed the strange human slave, Kord’s pet, to share the pipe, lest he insult his colleagues. This time too, they shared a pipe with him… filled with mysterious plants that tasted sweetly. To the Cloud Shamans, the smoke they inhaled offered wisdom and foresight. To Zarak, it gave relief. He inhaled deeply and drank spirits, trying to fade, go numb. He feared what other effects these things may have on his soul, but he could not help but yearn for their comforting taste. He broke off from the company of the shamans to go dance in a crowd of Orks and slaves, in a daze. He was taken by the drink, and by the plant’s effects. The music moved his body, causing it to twist and turn to the sound of the drums and guttural song of the singers. His nose was filled with a mix of dirt, sweat, Orkish booze, dried leather and the peculiar spices with which the Orks fortified their foods. Tired, he collapsed onto a table and, as the angry Orks pushed him off of it, he nicked some food. It was a drumstick. He couldn’t help but notice that there were no Enksado among the slaves. It seems that the Orks would simply murder them on sight and prepare them as food. They did not think highly of humans, but Enksado, it seemed, were deemed even lower. Just food. He did not know the origin of the fairly large drumstick in his hand. It could be one of the giant vultures from the canyons. It could be from the thigh of the Enksado who looked him desperately in the eye two days ago, as he was murdered by an Ork raiding party. He took a hefty bite out of it and was satisfied that he did not recognize the taste of human flesh.
-You disgust me. – Myzrael’s voice came from somewhere. – Look at you. Why are you like this? Weakling.