Every twenty years or so when the wind turned bitter and the leaves had all fallen a great howling could be heard from deep in the wood surrounding the small village Rein called home. The thunderous roars would start up as soon as dusk blanketed the night and gripped all with fear as every family bolted both windows and doors to keep the monster lurking in the forest away. Left on the streets with no place to call home Rein spent each night in whatever hollow or alley lay bare and prayed to the gods to keep him alive till morning. Each outcry the beast from the beyond let out left Rein with a kind of soul gripping terror he had never felt before The beast always sounded closer each night and with no way to protect himself Rein started begging to be let into whatever house would take him, only to find himself alone in the uncaring darkness each night.
The town was used to waiting out the howls, sometimes they would last a week or so, but as months grew on and the monster got louder they knew something had to be done.
In fear the great and wise village leaders met together each night in the opulent town center to discuss what had to be done. For weeks they debated over what they had to do, what even could be done about the hulking monster that terrorized the village every night. There was no knowing when the great Beast would raid their village, kill their men and rape their women and each day wasted brought them closer to that horrifying end. In the days following the first meeting it soon became understood that death would be necessary on their part to stop the demon from ruining them all. The conversation then turned to how many, and who would have to die.
It only served to reason that when the council decided that one of their own must be sacrificed to the great beast the only man in town without a home or a family was quickly nominated. Rein fought against the guards as they carried him to town hall, only to find himself bound and gagged as each town member came up to him one by one and prayed for his quick death. They dare not look him in the eye as they spoke hollow prayers to his safe journey into the afterlife. Once each member of the town had placed a gift for the great Monster around Rein’s chained ankles they all left in silence, not one man, woman, or child giving him a second glance. His fate was already written.
That night found him under a roof for the first time in years, but the metal chains and the cold jail cell he was left in kept him from appreciating the warmth four walls provided.
In the early morning Rein was chained to a horse and guided by almost all of the town guard into the forest. They encouraged him to take the day ride to come to terms with his fate and offer whatever prayers he could. But the dread that had lodged into his heart kept Rein from doing anything but shake and tremble the whole ride. He was going to die tonight by the hand of the beast he had prayed for protection from, and no amount of thought he put into the matter could make him feel anything but soul crushing fear at what would wait for him that night. Each roar the beast had ever let out sounded so angry and Rein was going to be left alone with all that rage focused purely on him. He tried to distract himself with the rhythm of the horse and the calling of birds but his mind always came back to how the beast was going to end him. Would he simply snap his neck with hands stronger than a boar? Would the monster take great pleasure in Rein’s fear and torture him till his mind finally broke, leaving his body an empty shell? Would the Great Monstrosity produce a blade and slowly strip the flesh off of his bones and eat one piece at a time? Rein would soon be left at the mercy of a beast that sounded to all the world that it had more anger built up then any scorned wife or abandoned lover ever could.
It didn’t take nearly long enough for the leader of the guard to stop the horses and instruct the others to set Rein down in the grassy clearing they had come too. With his limbs chained together all he could do was watch as the men hammered a tall post in the ground and lay the non human gifts around it. As the sun started the long process of setting Rein was hoisted up to his feet and tied around the post with rope usually reserved for tugging log or pulling brick. The men stripped him of all clothes but a strip of fabric covering his manhood and lay chains of gold and silver around his neck until the weight of it all made it almost impossible for Rein to keep his head up. As a last step the blood of countless slaughtered livestock was poured out from large vessels and dripped over his chest and face before the guards turned around and refused to look at him again.
As they climbed back onto their horses Rein could faintly make out the whisper of “gods forgive us” coming from the youngest before they rode off.
As the sun started it’s final descent into night the cold started to set into Reins bones leaving him shivering both out of fear and chill. He spent most of his time pulling on the restrains and formulating some plan of escape if he ever managed to get off the tick pine log. It didn't take long for him to see how futile escape was though when after rubbing his wrist and ankles raw all he had to show for it was a slight stream of blood staining the rope.
Soon dusk had turned to night and the chill that had once been only a slight annoyance now left him fearing for his life as each shiver his body produced became more violent than the last. At first it had been a small comfort to think that he may find death before the beast even made an appearance, but the longer the night dragged on the small disappointment of never getting to see the beast started to creep into his mind. The thought was unwelcome and shook is understanding of his own sanity to the very core, but he couldn't deny that the only advantage of being the sacrifice for the town was the chance of seeing what no one else had ever seen before. The Monster that claimed these woods was a horrifying unknown and being the only one to have seen the unseeable, even moments before his death, was an honor in itself. A twisted, horrifying honor, but an honor nonetheless.
It was after a particularly harsh wind ripped through his body that Rein heard the long drawn out cry of the monster that was to be his death. It was louder and more primal than anything Rein had heard before and left him quaking against the poll with new found vigor towards trying to escape. The monster was impossibly close and each mind numbing roar brought with it the sound of logs snapping and animals scurrying away. He knew his death was fast approaching. Each cry was closer and closer to him and Rein was left in total fear at the realization that the beast knew exactly where he was.
He started twisting his hands round in circles trying with all his might to just weaken the rope, but with each twist came with it more pain and a louder cry from the beast. He thrashed back and forth against the poll, pulling all of his muscles taunt trying to gain any slack from the rope holding him down but it was no use. The monster was just a few yards away now, every second Rein heard another crash of an ungodly foot against the ground. The sharp cries of animals being swatted away covered up his loud sobs as the beast let out a thunderous roar, louder than any sound Rein had ever heard.
With one last crunch of a tree being pushed aside the forest fell silent. Rein dared not open his eyes, but he didn’t need his vision to know the beast could see him now. Tied up, almost naked, and covered in both his own and animal blood he was the perfect sacrifice. He could feel the vibrations of the earth as the beast slowly crossed the clearing to stop mere inches away from where Rein stood motionless. Hot breath hit the top of his head as he heard the beast breathing in and out above him.
Any dignity Rein still had was lost as he felt a rough finger graze his chest as it toyed with the rich metals placed around his neck. Rein could no longer hold the fear in and when the beast tugged slightly on the chains around his neck Rein let out a quivering sob. The beast stopped all movement and Rein knew that the noise must have upset him, but he couldn’t hold back the tears anymore and soon he was hunched over crying as the beast seemed to freeze above him. The worry, the fear of what the beast was to do to him next has become too much for Rein to handle. Was he going to brake Rein’s chest open and feast on his heart? Was the beast going to yank the necklaces so forcefully it would break his neck? Whatever painful end the beast had in store for him couldn’t be as bad as this. As feeling himself completely at the mercy of a beast who would bring about his end.
“Please.” Rein begged between shivers and sobs. His whole body shook against the heavy wood behind him and for the first time he wished the beast had come into the town and murdered him nights ago, at least then someone would have to see his bloody and contorted corpus the next day. Here he was alone with the beast, but more horrifying of all, no matter what the beast chose to do with him no one would ever think of him again. Rein was truly dead in the eyes of all who knew him, now he just had to wait for the monster to stop his heart for good.
All his self pity stopped as he heard a low growl seem to come from every direction and he dare not move as the beast dropped the chains around his neck and placed a hand against Rein’s cheek. Never had Rein ever really considered the size of the creature that would end him, but as a rough and calloused hand cupped his face Rein realized that just one hand could wrap around almost the entirely of his neck. He could feel the slight poking of claws where the bulky hands seemed to end and the idea of those claws ripping him to shreds brought tears flowing down his cheek again.
To Rein’s shock the monster in front of him let out a deep coo and with his other hand whipped the tears off Rein’s face. He dared not move a muscle as the beast methodically then began to remove the animal blood away from his face as well. Rein kept completely still as he felt the monster slowly clean his cheeks, then chin, then forehead, then nose, and finally, slowly, brushed his claw against Rein’s lip collecting the blood and spit that had gathered there. His lips were extremely chapped and as the monster returned his claw to wipe away whatever liquid he had failed to collect the first time Rein’s lip caught on the sharp nail and tore.
Rein let out a gasp of pain and jerked away, waiting for the beast to force his sharp claws on Rein’s face and tear more skin away. To his surprise however the beast let out a gasp and seemed to quickly back away from his prize.
Rein was so shocked at the beast’s retreat that his eyes snapped open and for the first time he saw the monster that would end him. As Rein had guessed the beast was huge, but as Rein craned his head up to see where the beast ended he found that standing at full height Rein would barley make it to the creature’s nipple. The beast resembled the fearsome drawing of orcs that Rein had seen in story books as a kid, he was huge and hulking and his skin seemed to be painfully stretched around bulking muscle. The tight skin itself was a grayish green and large white freckles covered his entire body. The only clothing the beast wore was a belt and thick boots make of animal hide and the rest of his body was covered in patchwork armor make of skulls and claws that were all much larger that Rein’s own head.
He meant to quickly snap his eyes closed again, not daring to look at the beast for any longer, but as he glanced at the deep brown eyes that would decide his fate Rein saw tears beginning to gather. He looked on in amazement as the creature of death and destruction let thick weighty tears fall down his face. Feeling a hint of bravery Rein quickly examined the rest of the beast’s face and found a look of anguish staring back at him.
“Why-” Rein tried to swallow up the word as it left his lips, but he was too late and soon the beast was walking towards him again, tears still steady falling down his face.
As the beast stood in front of Rein again the man prepared for whatever was to come next, but nothing could prepare him as the beast fell to his knees and started mumbling out apologizes. Rein felt his mind skip a beat as the beast that would be the death of him seemed to plead for forgiveness at his feet. Was he apologizing for not killing Rein sooner? Was he sending a strange prayer to the Gods before devouring his meal? A small little hopeful part of the man dared to hope this beast was apologizing for the pain and fear Rein had endured, but he knew he was nothing to the monster that knelt before him. This was all some weird ceremony that Rein could never hope to understand that would ultimately lead to his death. But as time went on the beast never stood, never stopped pleading for forgiveness, and Rein was forced to question if the beast wasn’t looking for forgiveness from him!
“Please stop.” Rein begged, hoping to either understand why the beast seemed to be shedding tears or to die quickly and not have to spend anymore time waiting for death.
The beast provide no answer, instead freezing at Reins feet, going completely silent. If time seemed to go slowly when the creature was pleading it was nothing compared to the way the seconds seemed to stretch out as he waited for any reaction from the one that was supposed to be killing him. Rein had no real way of knowing how much time passed with the beast frozen at his feet, but he would have guessed nothing short of three minutes had passed.
As he was preparing to start apologizing himself for interrupting whatever important ceremony the beast had clearly been conducting the beast in question slowing got to his feet. However the beast failed to rise up completely, letting his shoulders slouch and his head hang as he stood in front of Rein. Rein himself had no idea of what to make of the whole ordeal. The beast looked forsaken, forlorn, but Rein couldn’t come up with a reason why. Had the Gods whispered some answer into his ear? Had they decided Rein was not good enough for this beast? Rein couldn’t make sense of the hulking creature’s actions.
Perhaps to confuse him more the beast then seemed to hang his head lower in what seemed like shame.
“I am sorry precious one.” The creature mumbled out, his deep voice vibrating through Reins body.
Rein waited for who ever the beast seemed to be talking to to respond, but as no voice called out and no godlike voice seemed to whisper any suggestion Rein began to wonder if the creature was talking to him. The idea itself seemed insane, like the last thoughts a crazy man had before slipping into full insanity, but as the second ticked by Rein failed to come up with a better answer.
“What?” He asked
“I am sorry for hurting you precious one” the beast replied, his voice reminiscent of the creaking of an old maple on a stormy night.
Rein had no idea what to make of the apology, much less the reason for it. The beast was to kill him, to eat him like a rat, and yet here the orc like creature stood, apologizing for the small pain that he had caused. A spark of hope swelled up in Rein’s chest, if the beast was so against causing pain on his frail body it surly meant that his death would be a quick one. Images of ripped intestines and a feasting monster still haunted him, but at least Rein could take comfort in the idea that he would be long dead before he was consumed. A few days ago the thought would have offered little hope, but facing death in the eyes knowing that it would be painless was a comfort unlike any other.
The beast still hung his head in shame and Rein realized that he was looking for forgiveness from the small human that would become his food. Rein knew it would make sense for him to be angry, to reject any comfort for his killer, but if forgiveness would lead to a quick death Rein would forgive.
“I-it’s alright.” He tried to keep his voice soft and steady but whether from the cold or from fear his shivering body made him sound much less steady the he intended. However it seemed to have been enough for the beast as he picked his head up and gave Rein a sweet yet cautious looking smile. Against his better judgment Rein felt a small amount of comfort in being able to alleviate some of the creature’s pain.
“Oh precious one,” he beast cupped Rein’s cheek again, moving a lock of Rein’s hair out of his face “you’re so forgiving.”
There was little Rein could do to make sense of the situation. He was being gently caressed by the very creature he would be killed by. His brain seemed unable to presses how he should react to this sudden kindness and instead opted to just let it happen. Rein soaked in the warmth coming from the orcish creature and rested his face against the hand.
As he relaxed into the creature’s hold the creature itself seemed to almost light up at the act of submission. Cooing again as Rein tried to keep the vision of his entrails strewn across the forest at bay and just enjoy the gentle caress. It was the first time another anything had showed him a kind touch in a long time, and while that should be soul crushingly depressing Rein had accepted sadder truths that night. His death was coming and if his executioner wanted to kindly lead him to death Rein decided he would follow.
He looked into those deep brown eyes as the beast took to gently brushing Rein’s hair away from his face. The beast seemed to smile under Rein’s gaze and for the first time in years Rein felt truly at peace. He had often imagined his death, he knew it would be the cold and exhaustion that got to him. But in all his visions he was lying alone on the street as his body slowly froze, taking his last breath all alone. As his body started to give up on him though Rein couldn’t find it in himself to be sad. He was in the hands of the one that would eat his body as soon as he uttered his last breath, but he wasn’t alone. The beast smiled down on him and he happily closed his eyes, going limp against the ropes and the warm embrace of the creature.