[Vfw-times] story: MK: Broken
orenotter at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 1 04:23:08 CDT 2001
Been a while since I've written an MK story, but
here's the next installment in the saga of Oren. I'll
warn you, it's not very pleasant reading, but it is
important to the development of two key characters.
by Oren the Otter
The Goodwill Festival had been wonderful. The new
food crops which Vitra's spell had created were the
perfect compliment to the songs, dances, magic and fun
which performers from all over the midlands brought to
the mouth of the valley.
But now, "wonderful" was a word which had little
meaning for Oren the Otter as he sat on the dank floor
of Baron Fressfuss' dungeon.
The plan was simple and elegant. Hold a festival on
the outskirts of Midway where the people could come
out and meet the Metamorians, who were forbidden to
enter the town. Use the special event as an
opportunity to foster friendship and understanding,
whether the Baron wanted it or not.
But Baron Fressfuss, though a bigot and a sadist, was
no fool. Only hours before the first of the setup
crew arrived, he'd purchased the field which was to be
used for the festival, then waited until the event was
in full swing to accuse the Metamorians of subversion
in front of everyone.
"The awful part" Oren uttered to himself "is that he
was right. I was trying to turn his people against
his decrees." The baron had him dead to rights. When
Fressfuss had him arrested and sent the Metamorians
home, there was nothing anyone could do.
* * *
Vitra sat quietly beside the fire as she stirred the
small pot of soup. It smelled delicious, but the
lutin had no appetite. The bulk of it would be for
Gornul, should the dragonette decide to come home
tonight. She would force herself to eat some of it,
not for her own sake, but for the sake of the two
babes in her womb.
The thought of her children made Vitra that much
sadder. Every night about this time, Oren would come
home from work and kiss her lips tenderly, then kneel
down and kiss her stomach, speaking tenderly to the
two tiny ones within. She could feel that the babes
were restless. Their father had not spoken to them
for many days.
Vitra looked out of the window of the small
apartment, over the wall to the lighthouse beyond.
She could see someone standing at the top of the
tower. For a moment, her heart froze. Surely her
eyes must be playing tricks on her, else it was merely
some illusion of the dying light of day, but as surely
as her paw-pads were green, there stood Oren,
surveying the Keep walls from the tower.
"Oren!" called Vitra.
Then just as surely as she had seen him, he was gone
* * *
A spear of light broke the darkness and pierced
Oren's eyes. In the doorway stood Baron Fressfuss,
flanked by four of his guards. Good morning, freak."
said the Baron.
Rising off of the floor, Oren lunged across the room,
being stopped only by the chain which bound his foot
to the wall. One of the guards quickly drew a club
and bludgeoned the otter on the base of the tail.
That seemed to be their favorite spot to hit, perhaps
to remind the prisoner of his freakish nature.
"Oren, Oren, Oren." Fressfuss sang in his wine-sweet
mocking tone. "I really hoped you had outgrown that.
I guess we'll have to teach you a lesson. How about
an extra ten lashes today? Would that do it, do you
"Do your worst!"
"Oh, I intend to." said the evil baron. "In time."
* * *
Time and again, the whip had cracked across Oren's
back. The otter refused to scream. Instead, he bit
his lip. He became distantly aware after some time of
the blood running down his chin. The pain on his back
blanked out all else.
When at last he was returned to his cell, Baron
Fressfuss was standing there, smiling. "So how do you
feel now, otter?"
Oren wanted to spit in the man's face. He wanted to
scream his hatred and claw the man's eyes out. But he
could not risk giving a response that would result in
"Very good. Oh, by the way, I have a gift for you."
One of the guards placed a shepherd puppy on the
floor. "You like puppies, don't you, Oren?"
"Good! I'm sure he'll make good company for you.
See you tomorrow morning!"
* * *
"I know that Oren is in the Keep." said Vitra as she
poured her sister-in law another cup of tea. "I've
seen him three times now, but each time I see him, he
is gone by the time I reach him."
"Thank goodness!" said Felice. "I thought I was
"You've seen him, too?"
"At least four times. But he never speaks to me."
* * *
Once again, the blissful escape of dreams was
shattered by Fressfuss' morning visit. Oren cowered
against the wall, holding his puppy tightly.
"Why Oren, aren't you happy to see me?" asked the
The otter said nothing.
"It's been a month already. Did you know that? A
solid month, and all this time, I've not heard one
word asking for your return. Your countrymen don't
love you, Oren."
"That's not true!" Oren cried, his voice cracking as
he held his puppy tighter.
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"No!" the prisoner hastily corrected.
"Take the dog." ordered the baron, coldly.
"No!" Oren wailed, but he made no attempt to stop the
guards as they took the dog-babe away.
"Your countrymen don't love you, Oren, but I do. Oh,
yes. I truly enjoy having you here. You know why?"
The otter only whimpered.
"You're so much fun! I love it when you scream for
me. In fact, why don't we go down to the flailing
table right now?"
"Please, no!" Oren choked. "My back can't take
anymore! Please don't whip me again!"
Fressfuss smiled. "I'm a compassionate man." he
said. "Flail his front instead."
* * *
Kayrok waited patiently in the forest for his spy to
report. His lutins ate quietly by a very small fire.
The fire was a luxury they could afford to indulge in,
tonight, and Kayrok was a commander who knew the value
of luxuries spent on his men.
Suddenly, a Metamorian patrolman burst into the lutin
camp. "Surrender, foul goblins!" he ordered.
Sunaj the large simply stood and scowled. "Ever
since you traded appearances with the otter, you've
been impossible." he grumbled.
"Where have you been?" demanded Sytet.
"Stop pestering the man." Kayrok ordered. "Norebo,
sit down and give us your report."
"I am sorry for being so late, master Kayrok." said
Norebo with no small amount of grovel. "I had to kill
three other patrolmen lest they follow me here."
"Just the report, Norebo." said Kayrok tiredly.
"There's been no sign of Oren." Said the false
otter. "It seems that since I took advantage of his
absence to begin impersonating him, the keepers have
assumed that I truly am Oren, having escaped from
Baron Fressfuss' dungeon."
"When is the real Oren scheduled to be released?"
"I have learned from various sources that the baron
never releases a prisoner until he is asked to do so.
As long as I am still impersonating him, the real Oren
will remain safely locked away."
Kayrok smiled. He couldn't believe his good fortune.
* * *
Oren awoke in confusion. He thought he had been
caressing his puppy, but it wasn't so. Fressfuss had
killed the puppy weeks earlier and left the carcass in
the opposite corner of the cell. Insects had long
since devoured the flesh. What Oren was holding was
his own tail, numb from the injuries to the spinal
"Ah, already awake, I see."
"Baron..." The otter cried, already weeping from the
anticipation of the pain to come.
"Are you looking forward to today's beating as much
as I am?" asked the ignoble noble.
"Please... I'll do anything... anything if you'll not
beat me today..."
Fressfuss smiled wickedly. "My boots could use a
Obediently, Oren crawled across the floor and began
to buff the man's boots with the fur on his arm.
"You know what I want." the baron said, cruelly.
Weeping tears of hatred and fear, the otter slowly
extended his tongue and licked the boots of his
"Now we're getting somewhere." declared the evil
noble. "Yes... tomorrow I think we can leave the
torture behind and move to more... pleasant things."
Oren wept with rage. Rage at the baron for doing
this to him. Rage at the keepers for leaving him
here. But most of all rage at himself for being
willing to do whatever the baron had in mind, just as
long as it meant no more beatings.
* * *
Norebo was diligently trying to avoid Oren's close
friends and relatives. Thus, he waited until Vitra
had gone to market and Gornul was away with his family
before he decided to search the apartment of his
lookalike for anything the lutins could use.
He had scarcely begin his search when through the
door burst the Oren's wife, having forgotten her
money. For a moment she only stared. "Oren?" She
Norebo did not panic. Instead, he chose to play the
part of a bewildered man. "Vitra... I..."
"Where have you BEEN?" Vitra demanded, clutching
"I didn't... know... I couldn't remember... Oh,
Vitra, if only you knew... when I escaped from
Fressfuss, my mind was so clouded, I didn't know who I
was. I couldn't face you like that, my wife, and so I
have waited until my mind was once again my own."
Norebo placed his hand on Vitra's stomach, knowing
the mannerisms of the man whom he was impersonating.
"Hello, my darlings. I have missed you."
Vitra grabbed a knife from the table and plunged it
into Norebo's gut.
The false otter stumbled back, aghast. "Why?" He
"You not Oren!"
The spy fell back onto the moss bed. "How did... you
"My babies know the voice of their father. You made
them afraid. I felt it." As she spoke, Vitra
cautiously closed the distance between them, a second
knife clutched in her upraised paw.
Something flew in the window. There was a flurry of
wings in Vitra's face. The knife was knocked out of
her hand. Suddenly, the weasel found herself face to
face with another lutin, standing over the imposter.
For an endless moment, the two lutins, good and evil,
stared into each others eyes, not daring to move.
Then, in a blur of motion, the intruder snatched up
the false Oren and jumped through the window, climbing
down over the walls with his free hand and clawed
Eyes wide with realization, Vitra ran at once toward
* * *
"Baron Fressfuss," addressed a guard as he bowed low.
"There is a keeper outside. She is demanding the
release of the otter."
"A keeper, you say? Why haven't you arrested her?"
"We've been trying, Sir. She fights like a mongoose.
She's already taken out six of our men, Sir."
The Baron scowled. "Show her in."
There was no need. Throwing two guards aside, Vitra
stormed into the Baron's chambers. "RELEASE MY
HUSBAND!" she bellowed.
"Certainly." the baron replied with a smile. "Bring
in the otter."
What Vitra saw was not the husband she knew. The
creature before her was a crawling thing, shielding
its eyes from any possible contact with another,
rocking like a frightened child as it cowered.
"What have you done to him?"
"Only dealt a standard punishment. I'm afraid prison
life has not been easy on him. You should have come
and gotten him months ago, when his sentence ended."
Vitra's eyes narrowed. "I should kill you." she
"No!" cried Oren as he scrambled to place himself
between Vitra and the baron. "Don't hurt him. He'll
beat me again!"
The weasel felt something within her womb. Two minds
reached out in question.
"My babies?" whispered the otter as he lifted his
gaze to look upon Vitra's pregnant form.
"Father?" the two tiny minds seemed to say.
"My babies!" Oren cried as he embraced his wife.
Vitra felt a feeling of joy well up inside her. The
joy was not her own, however. Her own feeling was
utter hatred for the man who did this to her beloved.
"Come," she urged, softly. "Let's go home."
* * *
Vitra stoked the fire against the cold of the spring
morning as Oren took his bath in the next room. He
had been quiet for some time, then suddenly,
"NO!" Oren cried out as he beat on a sponge with his
back scratcher. "NO! NO! NO!" With each cry, he
brought the scratcher down savagely upon the sponge.
His cries increased in volume, his blows in intensity,
until Vitra rushed forward and grabbed her husband's
arms lest he harm himself. Oren wept deeply into his
wife's fur. "I hate him!" wept the otter. "Oh, gods
I HATE HIM!"
"I know, love. I know. He's gone, now."
"I thought I was so strong. I thought I could take
his torture and come out strong. I never thought...
Oh, Vitra, the things he made me do!"
Down inside Vitra's womb, the two tiny minds felt
their father's pain. And they learned.
One would be born knowing that there was too much
pain in the world. She would be born with a desire to
One would never trust anyone.
* * *
Nekril was frightened as he stepped into the darkened
chamber. Though he thought himself the ultimate
weapon, he cowered in anticipation of the voice.
"You have not succeeded in destroying the woman."
boomed the eerie, disembodied sound.
"It is only a matter of time." Nekril asserted. "I
am still the superior..."
A horrible pain shot through the hobgoblin., freezing
him in midsentence.
"The birth of the founders approaches. They are no
ordinary babes. Already they are conforming to their
destinies. If they survive, their power will dwarf
"But..." Nekril croaked. "I am the..."
"ULTIMATE LIVING WEAPON?" the voice mocked so loudly
that it was barely comprehensible. "Their mother has
all the same powers you do. Their father's unique
gifts will double their power. The education they
receive at Metamor Keep will make them two unstoppable
juggernauts. Then we shall see what kind of living
weapon you are as they haul your head up on the
tallest flagpole for the world to see."
"You will kill the babes the moment they are born.
The third city of light must not come to be."
When the last reverberation of the voice has spent
itself, Nekril dropped to the floor in a heap. He
would do the voice's bidding. The daughters of Oren
and Vitra would die.
-Oren the Otter
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