Gash Nosebrass sat on a folding stool with his fingers tented in front of him. “I’m told you helped my dear Stormy to escape,” he said in a low voice, almost a purr. “One of my favorites, soft and pretty like a human girl but tough like an orc, and no one’s seen her in days and days and days. My man Ashhgrom saw you two together before she want missing. Tell me what you know.”

Lightning spat on the floor. “My mother sold us all to you for shaved gold pieces,” she said. “Why would I have any loyalty to a family like that?”

“Why were you seen with her then?” said Gash, his voice rising. “I trust Ashhgrom enough to have his pick of those I will not have–as you well know, ugly one!–and any that call him liar will answer to my axe and my bubbling stewpot, and not necessarily in that order.”

Lightning drew herself up to her full height–which, she wagered, would beet or exceed Gash’s if he stood. “I put pillbugs in her hair,” she said. “I like to hear her scream, and so that’s what I was doing when your man Ashhgrom Emptygirdle saw us. If she ran away after those…most enjoyable screams, surely that is her loss, being deprived of Nosebrass’s bed.”

Like a flash, the orc warchieftain was on his feet, and Lightning found his hand clenched about her jaw, holding her to the floor. “Is that the way of it, then?” he hissed. “You were tormenting my favorite, perhaps enough to send her from me?”

In a cracked voice, but a firm one, Lightning answered: “I left her in agony and weeping, yes. But word is that you’ve tired of her anyhow, in favor of Sally the Hourglass, and that she was for your pot anyway.”

Gash released her with a low chuckle. “You don’t break easy, ugly one. I’m impressed. If you weren’t so ugly and barren I might take more notice of you. But yes, your sister was for Gruumsh, as is only right for a shaman of our people. If you see that pretty face again, you’ll come and tell me, won’t you?”

Lightning worked her way to her feet. “Oh yes, Warchieftain Nosebrass,” she said. “If I see that pretty face ever again, you’ll be the first to know.”

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