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The Lost Bureau (and other stories)-original fiction

TLB-ch1

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#1
My first crack at a story of the isekai genre... which happened to be a genre that I rather dislike somewhat for reasons... but enough of my butthurt.

Original story (as far as I'm aware, parallel development is a thing I acknowledge)

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The Lost Bureau​

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Crazy​

“Congratulations on your induction into the Bureau of Exoitc Affairs!”

It might as well be a death sentence for all intents and purposes. After all, the untimely end of the last guys who ran the bueure is a mute testament to how safe the job is…

“May I enquire what happened to my predecessor?”

“Gunpowder accident, new experimental cannon didn’t work out as intended.” Major Ekim always had a flair for understatement. “His death was quick though, chunk of the cannon took his head cleanly off-”

“Nope, didn’t need to hear that much.” He replied, already regretting a large number of life choices that lead him to this situation here and now. Maybe there was a reason why most people in the world are content with their lot in life, not caring too much as to what’s on the other side of the hill, or what can be gleaned with a rearrangement of the natural order. But the world is changing, and the new order need suicidal idiots like him. “What exactly are my duties?”

“Oh, the same as always. Find strangers stranded in our lands, grab as much knowledge as possible, guide society to a glorious future in a way as to minimize suffering.” He paused, stared at the slack jawed face in front of him, laughed, and continued “Though far more likely you’ll be spending your days reading bizarre tomes in First Library, with the occasional outing to the weirdest places for no good reason. If really lucky, perhaps you’ll stumble upon a beautiful outwardly human maiden that may take a fancy upon you.”

“Okay enough of your sick fantasies and jokes.” He said, a bit too quickly, then realize who he is talking to. “Sorry.” He mumbled.

“No offense taken.” He smiled “In fact, I see that the selection board is right in picking you. The Bureau needs outspoken minds, given the weird nature of the things they’re expected to do on a daily basis. Ever since the gates had opened.”

Archon has merely a vague idea of what Major Ekim is talking about, having lived his entire life in the ‘new natural order’. The legends he been told in school (in which itself, being a government funded institution, is a very new thing, as the teachers reminded all the young spawns almost weekly) was that it was mere generations ago when they first appeared: human being from strange worlds. Many of them possessed great powers and their deeds reshaped the landscape. Of course most of them went to serve various human kingdoms, but a few visionaries among them decided to bring civilization to the orcs, and thus for the first time in known (and probably unknown history too come to think of it) a orc civilization begin to bloom.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, however. Many of these ‘Lost' humans’ were bloodthirsty, warmongering, bigoted, greedy, and generally partaken in the worst excess of the human kingdoms. Despite their great powers many only brought pain and suffering to the inhabited lands. Thus the Bureau of Exoitc Affairs, or the ‘Lost Bureau’ was formed, its mission: to gather these 'lost' humans and apply their gifts, knowledge, and skills for betterment of the orc society (or at least just the Oligarchy of Kosk) as well as pathing out the optimal future as far as outwardly matters are concerned.

Or so the intention goes. In fact usually nothing of the sort happens. The bureau was perpetually underfunded to the point where personnel have to camp out on the grounds of the First Library, and speaking of personnel they usually came from the crazies that tend to get thrown out of the other parts of government (and society). About the only people who doesn’t see them as useless are the Academy of Knowledge Arts, but as the saying goes like minded crazies attract, and someone has to do the really dangerous experiments.

And now he, Archon, who only recently finished his education, is the head, and sole personnel, of this bureau.

“At least I can delude myself that I’m useful” He thought to himself, in what appears to be a dead end career (in more than one sense of the term)...

---------

“Are you interested in a job?” Archon asked his former school friend Klunk, the two of them were at the Scorpion's Sting, a somewhat rundown and place of questionable repute, but the ale is cheap, if somewhat resembling of stale urine.

“As long as it’s not a shitty one like in the fertilizer business” Klunk replied, laughing at his own lame joke. Archon chuckled along, before dropping the bombshell:

“Well, you see, I’m now the head of the Lost Bureau”

“Congratulations on your job, though I didn’t know janitors could offer jobs.”

“I’m not joking, and I need help. It’s insane for them to expect one being to handle all that duties.”

“I don’t think anyone expects anything out of you, or anyone who’s in your position. That thing is a joke, and redundant given the size of the Lost community these days.”

“I know, but I want to make something of myself, and even in my current lot in life I still see potential.”

“Not gonna lie, I see a dead body in your future.” Klunk retorted, the alcohol starting to get into him. “But I’ll be more than happy to watch what will most likely be your horrifying and painful death.”

“So you accept?” Archon dared to hope.

“Why of course! After all, what are friends for?”

"The fall guy?" They both laughed, genuinely this time.

"Cheers to a life of excitement and adventure!" Klunk shouted

"Just make sure you don't burn the library down." Archon said, joining in the alcohol fueled good mood.

And thus the most interesting times of the Lost Bureau begins...
 
TLB-ch2

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#2
Chapter 2: How can into job?​
“So, what are we supposed to do?” Klunk asked, not unreasonably. They were in the third floor of the library, of which the nature of the structure gives off reasonable amount of light during the daytime.

“No clue, I guess reading these reports.” Archon respond. A steady flow of reports comes to them each day from all across the country and sometimes even beyond, as people of all types write the latest weirdness they seen, heard, or probably made up. The vast majority of them delivered weeks if not months out of date, when they even arrived at all that is.

“Amazing how many people can write these days.” Klunk remarked, and it was. Decades of government sponsored education backed by the generosity of dozens of lost humans have bear fruition… of maybe four in a hundred could write out their name. Still, it was an remarkable achievement starting from not having a written language to begin with.

The unification of speech and letters were not without costs, for countless languages were thrown into the dustbins of history in the name of progress and unity, the former haphazardly at places while the latter is still nowhere to be seen.

Growing up learning only mainly the language the Lost humans called “Anglish”, Archon sometimes wondered what he missed out from the old tongues. Probably just the grumblings of old peoples and the musing of some golden ages of bygone, which in itself is almost certainly bullshit. After all, if the old ways were so much better they wouldn’t be abandoned would they?

Getting back to the matter of the reports, perhaps ‘report’ is too strong a term for them. The bulk of them being chickenstratch scribbled by people barely capable of writing (though most would probably style themselves as learned ones, Archon thought to himself, and in a sense they weren’t all that wrong, being that the land of the orcs are still mostly the land of the blind as far as literacy is concerned).

Even getting past the atrocious writings, many of these reports were barely more than random notes of weird and unexplained sightings, often observed while under the influence of alcohol or other mind altering substances. Not the most reliable of sources to base any sort of actions on. Which is the bureau rarely does anything of note, lack of funding aside.

“No sightings of humans disoriented to life of this world either this time around, nor alien objects of no explanation.” Archon picked up. “Just the usual drek of nonsense and fear mongering, with a side dose of horrors and barbarism. The latter of which is depressing but mostly not of our business. Klunk, remind me to pass them onto the idiots over at State Intelligence.”

“Sure thing. Though this report here is painting a rather disturbing picture. Looks like some of the human kingdoms are on the warpath again. Even appears that the Righteous Kingdom of the Lion has acquired another warlord of certain talents.”

“You think they got another Lost one?”

“The signs are mostly there. All that’s missing is the bloodlust, unrefined violence, mass enslavement and the personal harems.”

“So in other words it’s pretty much missing most of the signs.” Archon pointed out, facepalming. He might have only a vague idea of what he’s supposed to do, but getting Klunk up to speed on even that has been rather difficult. The official workload also not helping matters. “We’ll need to look further into this matter before coming into any conclusion.” He sighed, then continued, “This is not a priority for now though. Let’s move on from these delusional ramblings.”

Pushing the mess of papers aside, he stood up and left the table. “Time to make our way to Sage Polypo.”

“The tentacle monster?” Klunk was less than enthusiastic.

“One of the most wise and learned beings who isn’t a dragon.” Archon countered. “You should be grateful that he is giving us the time of the day, his government job doesn’t exactly give him that much free time.” He paused, “Oh, and by the way, don’t call him a ‘tentacle monster’. He doesn’t want to be reminded that most of the Lost humans kinda hate him, or at least what he represents in their nightmares.”

“Hm, didn’t realize them Lost ones are that racist.”

“Well, the ones on our side of the border are less racist than usual, which isn’t really saying much.”

As the two walked down to the basement of the library, where the natural lighting was gradually replaced with a forest of lanterns. Klunk whistled.

“Damn. That’s a lot of oil lanterns”

“Yes, the cost of lighting this basement is more than that of our entire bureau's budget, not that it means much.” They finally reached a rather ordinary door. Archon knocked on the door.

“Come on in.” A rather normal voice replied, free of any accent.

What the door revealed was oodly mundane: a table, piled with tomes and a number of mugs with some kind of liquid in them, a couple of couches, and a mass of tentacles (along with a couple of eyes within it here and there) dominating the rest of the room. Interestingly enough, the sight was less horrifying than it first appears, them being in a soft light blue in color.

“So you two are the new clueless ones?” It asked, a number of tentacles lazily twitching around.

“Um, yes, um...” Both of them are at an loss.

“‘Sage’ is an perfectly acceptable title for me.” There’s a noticeable change of posture in the mass of tentacles. “Let’s get on with the briefings.”

“Um, what?” Archon was rather shocked at the sudden change of tone of the meeting.

“Contrary to the public perception that your bureau being the butt of jokes. You have one of the most important duties in the entire country.” He paused, eyes the stunned faces of the two orcs, then continued, “Yes, the patheticness is mainly a public face, even though lack of official budget is all too real.” He paused again, letting the words sink into the think skulls.“Take a seat, please, both of you. We have a lot to cover today, and in the coming weeks. I know it’s rather shocking to dump all of this suddenly, but all of your predecessors went through this, most of them even with their wits intact afterwards.”

As the two still shocked orcs made their way to the couches present, the Sage began his prepared speech.

“Forget the history classes you learned in school, that’s merely to assure the masses that the world isn’t going more insane by the season, which, I’m sorry to say, it is. Oh wipe that slack jaw off your faces, because that’s gonna appear again within another couple of sentences.”

He stopped, took one of the mugs that was on the table, splashed the contents of it on himself when it became apparent that said liquid was certainly not water, but rather hard liquor (of high quality too). He continued:

“Our races were always capable of civilization, and this you should never forget.” The two looked at each other, wondering about the ‘our’ part as they never seen any other specimen of the Sage at any point in their lives, nor anyone else they knew come to think of it. “As to why that didn’t happen was tragically simple, that of incurrison by the human kingdoms. Don’t draw the wrong conclusions though, it’s not deliberately malicious.” He stopped, as if realizing the internal lack of consistency of his speech. “The incursions were deliberate, and their intent was malicious, but it was not some overarching plan. The point is that they see us as uncivilized brutes, come over and destroy any sense of organization and civilization, and thus perpetuating the lack of civilization in our lands. You two getting all that?”

Archon and Klunk nodded, although by their eyes it was apparent that they were having some trouble digesting the information. Polypo pushed on:

“When the first of what you know as the ‘Lost ones’ showed up, oh and they prefer the term ‘ISOT’, pronounced like ‘I soot’ and ‘Isekai’ pronounced like ‘is k-a’ though to be honest I’m still not sure if that’s the correct pronunciation. Remember that, though quite a few tend to be offended by the latter for some complicated reason.

Detour aside, one day they just appeared randomly, as far as we know anyways. There are plenty of theories as to who, or what, sent them here, but speculating about them won’t get us anywhere. They were arrogant, cruel, selfish, and all kinds of petty wickedness, but more than that they were full of power, of the arts of the unexplained and possibly even the dark powers. They quickly rose to power in the human kingdoms by fair means or foul, mostly the latter, and for a time the raids against our lands became worse than ever before, such was their irrational bloodlust against our kind.”

“Excuse me sage,” Klunk suddenly interrupted, “You’re not exactly being objective in your storytelling here.”

“And why should I, being that I’m on the government payroll?” Polypo barked back, then waved a couple of tentacles around, indicating that he was joking. “What you need to know is that I been there, I seen horrors and hatred that you wouldn’t believe. I saw my race die out at their hands.”

Klunk shut up after that, once again stunned at what he has heard, and Polypo continued on.

“Yet their bloodlust and warmongering ways were more harmful than that, and soon the human kingdoms begin to fall into unrest amongst themselves as various Lost ones began to vie for ever more power. It was around that time that some of them begin to show up our lands, and wanting to help us instead of killing us.

It took decades, a generation of them died without ever seeing even the first fruits of their sacrifice, but they laid the foundation of civilization that you all live in and enjoy today.

And that, that is why you and this bureru is so important. Currently we merely have scratched the surface of their knowledge base, and all the Lost ones who currently resides within our lands agreed that the advances that are to come will be a magnitude greater, with greater riches and suffering.”

He finally stopped, taking another of the mug to sate his thirst as the room falls in silence. Archon was the first to respond.

“That… is a lot to take in.”

“Yes, yes indeed, but rest assure you won’t be alone in your endeavor, which reminds me of the other administrative matters.”

For the rest of the day they went through a whole list of a thousand little things, from who among the Lost community that are sponsors ‘off the books’ to the hidden tomes within the library itself. Duties, obligations, and all kinds of other doodads of a hidden world in turmoil.

They listen, slowly realizing the magnitude of the abyss they are even now descending, yet also knowing that they already knew too much to back out. They are now in the stream of history, and there is nowhere to go but to ride the course, their only hope is to perhaps mitigate the worst excess of any unpredictable damage.

No pressure.​
 
TLB-ch3

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#3
Chapter 3: Of odds and bits​

“Do we really have to do this?” Klunk asked, not unreasonably.

It was early in the morning and the two were making their way to the Academy of Knowledge Arts. The air was cool at the moment but that will soon change into the brutal, sweltering heat that is the inescapable norm of leisure* season. The city was just stirring into activity, another bustling day to begin, much like a person waking up in all its messy glory.

“Yes, our duties also includes dealing with the top sages of the country from a variety of subjects.”

“Isn’t Polypo enough?”

“He’s too important to be showing his face- his tentacles to the likes of us for mundane matters. Besides, we’ll be getting some goodies.”

“Goodies? What for?”

“For the work we’re about to do.” He smiled, without any humor.

The Academy was rather quiet when they arrived, unsurprising, as during this season anyone who has could get the hell out of disease infested city has already done so, which also made it slightly bearable for those who remained.

A bored flunky greeted them at gate checkpoint and lazily pointed them to the general direction of the west gardens. The two made their way easily enough through the empty halls…

… and into a field of the most orderly weeds either of them has ever seen. An ancient orc tending one of them. He turned toward them and waved them over.

“Greetings, you two must be from the Lost Beueru. I am sage Bensen.”

“We are honored to be in your presence.” Archon replied, “Though what are we doing here in this field of weeds?”

Sage Bensen smiled, “Yes, weeds indeed, that’s one of the terms the Lost ones called them.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.” Confusion shown themselves on both of their faces, Bensen’s smile widened.

“Well, these plants are not native to this world. It was one of the Lost ones who accidently bought some seeds with her when she found herself in this world, or so the story goes. Regardless these plants, who go by many names, are truly miraculous, for a thousand different uses have been found with them. From paper to rope to cure all drugs this plant provides.”

“Okay… hang on, what is it called again?” Archon asked.

“Oh, yes. It goes by many names, among them cannabis, marijuana, weed, of which you have heard already. But enough of introductions, for today we are here to bring you up to speed on the latest research of these wondrous plants.“ He points to a pile of gardening tools nearby, “Let us get to work.”

And so they did, laboring under the blazing sun for the better part of the day. It was not all bad, however, for they also sampled some of this miracle plant. Even at the end of the day, when they said their goodbyes to the sage, they were still in a relaxed and bubbly mood.

------

The months passed quick enough, and soon the harsh cold of hibernation season has arrived. While the Lost quarter seems to be in a festive atmosphere involving some ancient religious holiday from their world, and the sounds and lights of their merrymaking could be seen for kilometers away..That is not to say the rest of the city was in a dull state, for the new year is merely a week or so after their festival, and perprepations were well underway. It seems that regardless of the world, the lack of work in the cold seasons encourage people of all races to celebrations of their labor, accomplishments, life, and the universe in general.

It was on a rather ordinary day when a couriter appeared at their regular desk, and after exchange greetings put down a moderate size but rather heavy and boxy object, wrapped in some kind of heavy canvas. He then pulled out a small notecard from his pocket and handed to Archon, after which he went on his way.

Archon and Klunk looked at each other in puzzlement, for they are not expecting any package at this point, or at any point. Archon start reading the notecard:

“Merry Christmas to you hardworking people at the Bureau of Exoitc Affairs. Hopefully this tool will help in your work. -signed Charlie Tomson

The two stared at the notecard, then at the thing, and at each other. Klunk was the first to speak.

“Well, let’s see what’s under the cover.” He said, gently taking off the tarp off the object.

What was underneath that was nothing like they had ever seen before. A magnificent and intricate machine, beautifully crafted in burnished bronze. It's surface dominated by a mass of what appears to be buttons as well as a pair of rollers.

“And what is this?” He asked, genuinely puzzled.

“I think… this is one of those ‘letter makers’.” Archon wasn’t exactly sure either. “I think I have seen a picture of one of them in school before. Each of them are individually crafted by a master widget-smith, they are easily worth their weight in gold.”

Klunk let out a whistle, for someone who could gift something that expensive that casually is certainly someone they’ll need to kiss ass to.

“Who is this person anyway?” Klunk asked.

“Hm, good question.” Archon replied, “Guess we’ll have to ask someone about this, and how to work this machine.”

It took the rest of the day of cajoling the library staff, who were none too happy with them. In the end they did find in the information they need, mostly. It appears that Charlie is the owner of the largest paper mill in the country, along with two of the major newspapers of the capital. Even does a bit of writing on the side, but nothing to be writing home about, so to speak. As for the use of the “typewriter” as they found out, was easy enough, though neither really wishes to use too much of that fragile looking machine, despite assurances that the machine could take on normal use by any race barring dragons, although Klunk mentioned that he would love to see a dragon using one of them someday.






the four seasons were as follows: toil, leisure, feasting, and hibernation. Not the most imaginable of names but complexity for complexity’s sake is not an orc mentality, and the Lost ones among them weren’t too keen on pushing the issue on such a trivial matter (not to mention many of them felt somewhat guilty at the amount of orc culture they have already destroyed in the name of civilizing).
 
TLB-ch4

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#4
Chapter 4: A return to the natural state of affairs​

“And so it begins.” Klunk remarked, almost casually. The two as usual are reading the newspaper at their usual spot in the library.

It was the tail end of the toil season, and once again the human kingdoms have declared war against the orc nations in their traditional fashion: with their armies on the march and trails of devastation behind them.

“Ah yes, war. Higher food prices, less bustle on the streets, and a general atmosphere of annoyance… but life goes on.” Archon doesn’t seem too worried, “Our soldiers will be doing the shooting, their warriors be doing the dying, and the two of us will be picking apart the pieces after the dust settles. Which reminds me, we should go to the academy’s east garden after this and pick up some edible substance. The markets will be picked clean by the time we get there.”

It wasn’t always that like that. Even as late as two generation ago human armies and even the odd band of ‘adventurers’ could, and did, simply waltz into orc territories at will and did what they wanted, and that was never pretty. Each thrust furthering tearing down any attempt at civilization on the other side and hardening existing perception of the orcs being a barbaric race, enforcing the existing status quo of misery and suffering. When the first of the Lost ones showed up leading things went from bad to worse, as if that was even possible (it was, as the number of desecrated orc corpses and razed villages showed).

Fate it seemed to have a sense of balance however, and after a while some of those so called “Lost ones” started to appear, or to be more accurate, fleeing to these lands. Far from being conquerors, these ones became caretakers of sorts, first by bringing respite to their suffering, then teaching them the ability to resist.

However, building a military worthy of the term from a bunch of rabble of barbarians wasn’t as simple as handing guns to anyone who’s able bodied (though in the early days that was certainly tried, with predictable distarious results). Although even the manufacturing of guns of sufficient quality and quantity was an herculean task, yet itself merely the tip of a host of economic miracles that made it possible. Matters were not helped by the fact that most of these Lost ones weren’t too well versed in the trade of violence. But with much sweat and blood spent, these and a thousand other efforts allowed the orcs to have a fighting chance for the first time in known history.

It took another generation of sweat and blood for the orcs to fight well enough to first stem the bleeding, and then containing the assaults on the sovereignty of orcish lands. Brutally bloodied in numerous battles, the humans learned of the costs in their predation, and for the past decade the number and scale of the invasions have decreased to the point where the rare concept some of the Lost ones called “peace”.

And apparently then this shit happened.

“This time seems different though, according to this, not only are they invading in numbers, but more disturbingly, they’re starting winning again.”

“Yes, and we’re reading The Solar Herald, one of the most unreliable newspaper known on this side of the world” The library, as an institution of archival, has subscriptions to every major, and most minor, news publications. As such it was inevitable that most of the library staff would take advantage of that, and every day it was a mad dash to get one of the few copies first before the rest of the mob. Needless to say the bureau was usually on the lower end of the priority. Today was actually one of their luckier days as they managed to nab something, even if its a trashy rag.

Then again, even without the newspapers it would have been all but impossible to ignore such an event of that magnitude, and the streets are abuzz with rumors and speculation, each more fanciful than the last. Panic has already swept the city as well as the surrounding countryside, and many fear the worst. Memories of horrors suppressed for decades have once again bubbled into the open.

As the two finished their morning work and were preparing for their little trip when a soldier intercepted them.

“It is that bad then?” Archon was puzzled, conscription wasn’t a thing for the better part of a decade, when for the first time that a more peaceful era was on the horizon.

The soldier was a bit embarrassed, “Yes and no, you will be briefed at headquarters. Follow me, please.” Now he looks at it, the soldier, who is rather young, is in the uniform of an staff cadet. Perhaps things weren’t that bad yet. After all, if things were really bad the cadets would have been bundled out along with other appritience type peoples, the seeds for a better restart.

“Well, it looks like we are going to war one way or another.” Klunk said, none too happy about this turn of events as they leave the library for the last time in a while.

------

The present host of the army headquarters is in the fortess popularly known as the “stone loaves”, a large complex of grey, squat buildings whose drab boringness hides their potency, for their defense is designed for an age of warfare the world has not yet experienced, but it is certainly capable of defending itself against current threats just fine. The engineers and architects assured as much, despite lack of hard evidence either way. The staff conference was located in the largest room in the basement level, in what is perhaps the most secure non-natural location in the known world.

While the meeting has not yet begun, the conference room was already well packed. The atmosphere was of a rather cloudy one, unsurprisingly given the reports from the front.

“Quite a lot of jewelry being paraded around here isn’t it?” Klunk remarked, waving a hand around, Archon nodded.

“Feels weird with us two being the only ones not decked out in gold braids.” He quipped.

What little conversations stopped cold as the main doors opened and a orc, flanked by a gaggle of other uniformed orcs, decked out in the most gold braid and jewelry of anyone strolled in. Everyone present prompted saluted. The marshall waved them.

“At ease.” He said as he took his place at the head of the conference table.

“This will be our last briefing before the army marches to the frontier, and as such we will bring everyone up to speed on the situation at hand. The floor is yours, Major Ekim.”

Major Ekim nodded, and begin his report: “As you all are aware, the human kingdoms, specifically the Kingdom of the Lion, has launched an all out invasion of our lands, the first of such in over a decade.” He paused, letting the magnitude of the situation sink in before continuing, “What is different this time is that once again they are winning.”

Sharp intakes of breath could be heard all around the room. Major Ekim ignored them.

“It appears that they have found ways to negate our technological advantages. So far reports from the front are sketchy but there is a consistent inflow of reports suggesting that their cavalry has some form of newfound protection from firearms. Further reports, mostly speculations, suggests that the source of their new protection might be in the form of their new commander, a person only known as ‘K’. The only thing we know of this commander is that he is probably one of the Lost humans.”

“And how do you propose we deal with this?” General Mung asked.

“New tactics and equipment will be issued to the troops, the details of which will be elaborated upon later.” Ekim replied, “Moving on to the next issue. Due to the peculiar nature of this new commander, specifically the particular powers assumed to be displayed, an attempt will be made to capture said commander,” He turned to Archon, “which is where the Bureau of Exoitc Affairs come in.”

“Um, what?” To say Archon was surprised was a bit of an understatement.

“Further details will be elaborated upon later.” He repeated a statement that is starting to get all too maddening repetitive.

The rest of the meeting passed Archon like a blur, for he was still coming to terms with the bombshell Major Ekim dropped. By the time he came to his senses the meeting has ended and most of the military folks were making their way out of the now stuffy room. He hoped that Klunk has taken notes as to what went on in the meeting as he will be needing those to figure out what his mind had missed in the blackout.

While he was looking for Klunk it was Major Ekim who found him first.

“Don’t worry, this isn’t some attempt to have you killed discreetly.”

Archon snapped out of it, if only by snapping into something else, “That is actually the one thought that did not occurred to me, and may I ask why us?”

“Have you ever seen a firearm being shoved up a human’s arse and then discharged while doubled loaded? And I’m not talking about metaphors.” Ekim said, his eyes as cold as steel. “The army cannot be trusted in this.” He saw Archon’s disturbed expression, “Oh, it is not the officers’ fault, they’re doing their best. It’s the common troops that’s the issue. What you know as history is recent enough that almost every grunt has known someone close to them who suffered horrifying torture and death at the hands of an invading human army. That kind of scars tends to encourage reprisals, horrifying reprisals.”

Both Archon and Klunk, who made it to hear the latter part of the conversation so far, were silent, stunned at what they have just heard. Ekim continued in a lower voice. “Your bureau is the only one who is sheltered from the cruelty of the frontier and the specialized knowledge to handle this rather delicate matter.”

“But major, we aren’t exactly warriors.” Archon protested, Klunk coughed, “Actually, the military will be furnishing some military support to our bureau. They mentioned it as much in the meeting.”

Archon’s face became rather confused, “Wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of assigning us then?” He asked not unreasonably, given the information he has acquired so far.

Ekim shrugged, “Think of it as a compromise, and don’t worry about the details on our side.” he was at least confident on that. “If you’ll excuse me, I have matters to attend to.” and with that he turned and left the now nearly empty room.

The two watched him leaving. It was Klunk who spoke first, "I already miss our table in the library.” He remarked, his eyes staring into the distance.

“On the other hand, I’m sure the library staff is all too happy to get rid of us.”

“I’m sure some of them will join in on the adventure, if the situation is as grave as they say.”

“Didn’t know you have that level of grimness in you.”

“It comes with the times I presume. Come, we must gather our things.”
 
TLB-ch5

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#5
Chapter 5: On the march​

“Are you guys from the Lost Bureau?” A trooper, the largest the two has ever seen, stood outside their tent. It was the second day out in the field. Klunk was cooking some eggs and potatoes for breakfast in front of the tent while Archon was still in his sleep pants, nursing a mug of coffee in his hands.

“Um, yes. Yes we are I suppose.” Archon said, still trying to chase the sleep from his eyes.

“Oh. That is wonderful. Trooper Fenrir reporting for duty.” He saluted smartly. ‘Couldn’t be a regular. Archon thought to himself. ‘No one could be in the army that long and still be that enthusiastic.’

“So you’re the aid that the army promised us for our mission then?” Klunk asked.

“I suppose so, I’m sure the rest will come soon.”

“Knowing the army, you’re probably the only one.” Archon paused, as if suddenly remembering something, “Wait a minute, you look rather old for a mere trooper.”

“Oh, I’m part the militia in Hashville. My regular job in peacetime is that of a game warden.”

“So you’re the reason why wild meats are so expensive these days!” Klunk chuckled, half jokingly.

“Well, that too now that you mention it, but mostly because litters aren’t all dying before their first year.” Fenrir replied, joining in on the humor, then the smile left. “But jokes aside, it brings so much joy to see children actually growing up and not immediately die of diseases or suffering from hunger all their lives. On the other hand there are so many of us now that we have to start consider the impact we have on the world, and preservation of treasures for future generation.”

“Hm, very impressive speech there.” Archon said.

“Oh that’s just the stuff they drill into all the game wardens. Gotta make us understand why we do what we do beside for the money. Keeps the corruption down, or so they claim. I personally think they just love to hear the sound of their own voice. Bureaucrats and politicians that lot of them.” He paused, realizing who Archon and Klunk are technically. “No offense intended.”

“None taken, we’re on our way fulfilling those stereotypes anyways. Come, join us for breakfast. Welcome to our little merry band.”

------

“These helmets are certainly beautifully crafted, but are these complex decorations on the surface really necessary?” Klunk asked.

The day was ending, and after setting up their tent after the day’s march, the three of them are picking up weapons and equipment at the field reserve supply compound, a collection of tents surrounded by a circle made up of the supply wagons. After all, bodies alone isn’t enough to fight a war, no matter how much certain idiots scream about ‘fighting spirit’ and 'strength of the soul’. A healthy logistics arm was one of the hidden virtues of the orc army, even though the generals has never any efforts to hide it’s existence or extent. It was just something that is assumed by almost everyone to be there since always or merely some background doodad of no importance, much to the annoyance of the quartermaster and his staff, who rarely of ever gets the credit they so richly deserve or even acknowledged.

“Absolutely, the tin patterns serve a very practical purpose. The long and short of it is that it was found that tin provide resistance to mind control, which many amongst the Lost humans on the other side utilize both on and off the battlefield. Supposedly the mythical alloy known as aluminium is better but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon. Heck even tin is expensive and time consuming enough, hence the patterns. Those patterns are actually magic glyphs, enhancing their natural properties.” Archon was looking rather proud of himself, for the first time in a while he gets to show off his studies.

Klunk was impressed, mostly by the fact that Archon actually seems to take his job seriously. “Hm, wish warfare didn’t become this complicated, but then again we didn’t exactly played fair either did we?” He smiled.

“No we did not, and I for one is glad of the power of the firearms.” Fenrir said, “Finally knock down those knights a peg or so.”

“And the rumored inability for the firearms to do their job this time around is the reason for our mission.” Archon said, bringing everyone out of their revelary of the past and back to the unpleasantness of the present. He put down the helmet and picked up a smallarm. “Hm… always wanted to use one of these.” Unlike the helmet, the pistol was unadorned with any decorations, but is still of solid and workmanlike craftsmanship.

“Oh gods, you weren’t kidding when you said about fulfilling stereotypes.” Fenrir said shaking his head, a mixture of good humor and disbelief.

“Well, the only live wolves and bears I ever seen were the ones in cages.” Archon shrugged. “A city is no place to randomly popping off guns.”

“More reason I’m glad that I was never born there.” Fenrir remarked, “Not sure how anyone can survive the bad air, the crowding, the filth, the stick up the arse snobbishness.”

“As if the camp here is any less guilty of the same flaws.” Klunk shot back. Fenrir merely shrugged.

And so it is, a military field camp is a chaotic symphony of noise and confusion, and to the outsider it is a miracle that anything gets done. But just like cities, there is a method within the madness and things gets accomplished, most of the time anyways.

“Hmm, should we pack some longarms?” Klunk was looking lovingly at a stack of them. Like the smallarm, the longarms are also merely functional in their appearance. However, their size bellows their deadliness.

“Probably not, if my assumptions are correct.” Archon said, “We’re most likely to conduct our operations in confined spaces. So those are of limited uses, and certainly not their main intentions.”

“In that case I would suggest some genardes.” Fenrir said, pointing at a pile of iron balls with wicks attached to them.

And so on and so forth, a soldier at war needs all kinds of equipment, from weapons to tools to spare clothings. It was a small mercy that the majority of the tools are also dual purpose. The shovel being a potent close combat weapon, the field knife a bayonet, the axe as useful for chopping wood as bodies.

------

“Well, well, well, what do we have here.” Klunk said, looking at the piglet by his feet.

It was another evening on the march like any other, which is to say that everyone is tired, dirty, and miserable, ready to set camp and make dinner. It was perfectly normal for herds various domesticated animals to follow the army on the move as source of meat that can haul themselves, and sometimes even carry some supplies of their own (it is a delicious irony to see pigs carrying cooking implements, the same ones that they will be thrown into in due time). Generally pigs tend to be the most popular choice, as they will eat anything and everything, and for the more cynical among the military would point out that those features also makes them ideally suited for scorch earth tactics...

“Such an adorable little piglet, where did he came from?” Archon, as usual displaying his ignorance of how the military works.

“From the herd of pigs that you have been complaining about ever since we left the city?” Fenrir has by this point gotten used to Archon’s cheerful ignorance. “This one probably got separated from its mother, who may or may not be in someone’s stomach by this point.”

Shocked expressions briefly flew across both Archon and Klunk’s faces, while Fenrir merely rolled his eyes at the utter sheltered nature of these two city folks.

“I think we should adopt him.” Archon said once he got over his shock. Fenrir simply facepalmed.

“Whatever boss. Though may I remind you that we are marching off to war rather than some holiday?”

“Oh be a little cheerful. I think our bureau needs a pet or mascot of sort.” Archon has already picked up the piglet and is holding him in one of his arms.

“Well, never mind all those other issues which you’re probably going to put off until you couldn’t, what should we name him?”

“Bacon.” Fenrir suggested in a completely deadpan tone.

“Absolutely not!” Archon was horrified, “That’s akin to imply he’s our emergency rations!”

"It's more than implying, I'm stating the obvious."

“How about something more noble, like Francis Kevin?*” Klunk suggested, barely suppressing a smile. Fenrir noticed that, and nodded.

“So it’s settled, and Francis Kevin is his name.” Archon said, oblivious to the little joke that Klunk and Fenrir has just played on him.

yep, after Francis Bacon and Kevin Bacon. Presumably some archives that the Lost bureau has would contain various pop culture and other elementary info that various ISOTed people would divulge. What’s surprising is how Klunk got to that info before Archon, but then again the latter might be having his head too far off into the clouds.
 
TLB-ch6

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#6
Chapter 6: Bullshit confirmed​

The weather on the day of what would later be called the battle of Firville was bright, sunny, and blazing hot, as if the gods themselves were suggesting the foolishness of conflict and battle. Both sides appears as if they are taking their time to array their forces, as if partaking in a complex mass dance off rather than fight to the death. In fact the battle has already started, both forces merely maneuvering units into position to play into their own strength while exploiting the other side’s weakness.

“This is rather worrying.” General Mung muttered to himself. The general staff and the Lost bureau’s personnel were standing at a nearby hill, observing the battlefield with monoculars. A number of messengers on horseback awaits in the wings, as are flag wavers and bugle players. “The humans are actually using tactics and maneuverings.”

“Unsurprising, all the raging idiots were probably killed off in the previous decades.” Major Ekim pointed out. “We should have invaded them back then when it was that much easier.”

“You know it was politically impossible.” Mung sighed, it was far from the first time they went through this song and dance. “An invasion even now, never mind back then, would most likely result in our troops doing a lot of raping and pillaging as they take out generations of rage on the human non-combatants, and the lost humans on our side would raise hell for that.”

“Right... kneejerk reactions once again kneecapping our capabilities.”

“Regardless, it’s no use worrying about what we cannot change, and concentrate on what we can change.”

In the end, the battle plan that was came up was rather simple, if only because the simplicity of the threat present. The key to victory would be to negate whatever aura that makes the human cavalry invulnerable to conventional attacks. While the details were sparse, the general consensus was that whatever invulnerability is it is a purely magic based system, with no technological inputs. The biggest piece of evidence (or more accurately lack of) was the unchanged state of metalworking in the human kingdoms, which has shown no noticeable progress despite the existence of the Lost ones in their lands for decades.


Thus the counter decided upon was to upgun the soldiers, specifically the ammunition of the longarms. A number of different ammunition types were suggested, from silver to unicorn horns to various crystal (some of which seems rather sketchy). In the end they were all used, not because they were all good ideas, but because demand far outstriped supply. Even so, there wasn’t enough of them, and in the end most troops only had one of such ‘magic bullet’, the rest of their ammunition being regular lead. It was not a sound plan, rather more akin to a wild shot in the dark.

This is the last conventional line of defense, which is to say the engineer detachments were busy laying traps and blockworks all the way back to the capital. Expectations for their efficiency and usefulness were low to say the least.

Finally the shuffling stopped, and the opposing sides felt they have found the best position. A moment of heavy silence descended on the battlefield as everyone took the moment to contemplate their mortality and the anticipation of the coming spasm of violence. Then, at the sound of the horn, the human cavalry charged.

The sight (and sounds) of a heavy cavalry charge, no matter how many times one has witness them, is still one that inspire majesty and terror. The sight and sound of hundreds of men and horses, charging at full speed, whose entire lives were meant to fulfill one goal and one goal only: to utterly crush and destroy any and everything that stood in their way.

The orc lines were not idle while that was going on. With great precision from years of training and combat experience they calmly but quickly load their longarms with the special bullets, aim, and fired at command from their officers.

The volley crashed into the charging cavalry, instantly slaying dozens of men and horse alike. For the men on the firing lines it was too easy, suspiciously easy. For the general staff on the hill the magnitude of the error was apparent even before the smoke from the volley cleared.

“The bastards!” Major Ekim spat out, unable to hide the bitterness from his voice. “They put a few lines of squires in front to soak up any counters we might have prepared for them.”

“Sound general withdraw.” General Mung commanded to the messengers on standby, a weariness in his voice, “Have the line unit stand ground to buy us some time, and tell the units on the wings to provide three volleys of support fire before withdraw.” He turned around towards the rest of the staff assembled, “I suggest all of you get down there and do what you can to facilitate the process.”

A chorus of acknowledgement answered the commands as the various staff officers begin to make their way to the battle still raging.

Despite the obvious turn of the tide, the battle itself raged on for the reminder of the day as the a few regiments fought tenaciously to buy time for the withdrawal of the rest of the army.

------

“Casualties?” General Mung asked. The mood, predictably, was a grim one at the meeting of the general staff.

“Over 2,000 dead, at least as many wounded, another thousand unaccounted for, and most of the 16th regiment left behind. It is highly likely that they were all captured and executed by now.” Major Ekim reported, each word a dagger to his gut.

“Losses to supplies?”

“Similar to casualties, as we lost the control of the battlefield. However they will be made good in a few weeks or so. Related to that though, the special munitions won’t be ready for another two months at the earliest.”

“Well then, what we effectively have here then isn’t an army, but a mass of sheep waiting to be slaughtered.” Mung sighed, “Is there any not horrible news?”

“Why general, yes, in fact there is.” A voice not often heard spoke out. Everyone turned towards that one corner of the tent at a figure clad in butternut brown. “Thanks to some assistance from the Lost Bureau we have good reasons to believe that the general K’s forces are also nearing the end of their reach. The capital is safe, shame about some of the villages on the way there though.”

“Oh shut the hell up Denhardt.” Major Ekim was visibly disgusted at the figure, “The so called intelligence from your service has been nothing but hogwash since the beginning of the campaign.”

“That’s rich coming from someone who has literally ignored every one of our warnings.” Denhardt shouted back, “We were the ones who first brought upon the issue that this opponent human commander is different from the ones before.”

“Enough.” General Mung did not raise his voice, both Ekim and Denhardt shut up. “Perhaps Archon here should be the one explain this new development? After all Danhardt here said your participation was of some use and you don’t have his baggage.”

“What?” Archon was caught flat footed as everyone now turned towards him. “Um, yeah, um…” He straightened his jacket which has no need for such an action, but the motion was more for his own comfort. “According to the information we analyzed from the Military Intelligence Service, it appears that commander K is in fact rather unpopular among within the military of the Kingdom of the Lion.”

“Sure, and pigs fly when you feed them enough marijuana.” Ekim made no attempt at hiding his contempt.

“But the numbers match, or rather, they don’t. The army we are facing is roughly half the size of the army that crossed the frontier. The limited casualty and attrition rate at which they suffered can only explain around a third of the shrinkage.”

“That doesn’t necessarily mean anything.” General Mung was becoming more skeptical. “Their redeployments could be for any number of reasons, from internal instability to conflicts with conflicts with other human kingdoms.” Denhardt said.

“No general. No reports of that nature suggest that the Kingdom of the Lion has any other pressing matter besides us.”

“Do you actually have any evidence of these so called troop redeployments?” Ekim asked, not unreasonably.

“No, no indications at all.” Denhardt said quietly, as if the words would be less true if people heard it less clearly.

“What a bloody waste of time you lot are.” General Mung finally lost his patience, “Now get the hell out of here!”

Archon and Denhardt didn’t even have a time to acknowledge with a salute before Ekim grabbed them by their collar and threw both of them out of the tent with great force.

As the two push themselves off the ground Denhardt was the first to recover, “Well I don’t necessarily blame them, given what they been through.”

“How about not dragging me into this next time?” Archon was more than a little annoyed at this turn of events.

------

“Well, what the hell are we going to do now? Klunk asked.

It was the morning after, and the weight of defeat still hangs heavily in the air.

“Honestly, I don’t know.” Archon answered, without much energy. “Obviously the army is none too happy with even our mere presence. Go home I guess? It’s not like we’re all that useful even before that embarrassment last night.”

“Aren’t we forgetting something?” Fenrir spoke. Archon and Klunk turned towards him, having all but forgotten him in their little pity party.

“And pray tell, what chances do we have in accomplish that goal?” Klunk asked sarcastically.

“Doesn’t matter, we have to try. We own it to those who have already sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.”

“I… guess.” Archon doesn’t exactly have a retort to that. “But we don’t even have a plan.”

“I have one in the back of my mind if it makes you feel better.” Fenrir said.
 
TLB-ch7

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#7
Chapter 7: Bumbling into success​

“This is not a good plan.” Archon muttered as the three of them make their way through the forest. Darkness was rapidly approaching, and the shadows of the canopy are about to encompass everything the eyes can see.

“I’m still alive am I?” Fenrir grinned, while obviously enjoying the discomfort of the two city dwellers as they attempt to navigate for them unfamiliar terrain. Meanwhile he himself was moving through the underbrush with the grace of an wolf.

“What the hell is that suppose to mean?” Archon gumbled, not liking his smugness at all.

“Oh, just that I have been a game warden for the better part of a decade, and haven’t been gored through by a boar yet. That counts for something does it?”

“I hate to admit it, but he has a point.” Klunk said, in between panting heavily. “Merely surviving in the forests is enough to be considered to be a badass.”

In fact it was not a good plan, or even much of a plan that Fenrir cooked up. The idea was to simply hang around the human camp (while avoiding all the guards and patrols in the meantime, somehow), and gamble on the potential that somebody would be stupid enough to go out alone into the woods for whatever reason (Fenrir suggested the most likely possibly would be to answer a call of nature, Archon questioned who the hell would be suicidal enough take a shit alone in the woods). The only reason that Archon and Klunk agreed to the whole plan was that they figured wasting time roaming around in the woods for a few days is much more preferable than hanging around at the camp, where the general atmosphere (especially among the command staff) was less than healthy.

After all, even if they accomplished nothing at all at least they could claim they tried something.

As Archon and Klunk were still flailing around, Fenrir suddenly held up his hand to signal stop. Neither of the other two noticed it however and they both crashed into him. After a bit of swearing and groping around they managed to find their footing while Fenrir looked with them with the all too familiar disappointment, trying his best to not facepalm again.

A rather diminutive figure was sitting on a log in a small clearing ahead, his head in his hands as if crying, though it was a bit too far out to hear anything of note.

Fenrir slowly motioned the other two to quiet, and to turn around. Obviously getting caught at this stage is rather counterproductive.

Then the human looked up.

Both sides staring at each other in the eyes. For a moment it was as if the rest of the world stopped, as if waiting in anticipation of what was to come.

It was the orcs who made the first move, as Fenrir pushed Archon and Klunk to snap them out of it and charge. The two, caught off guard and already not exactly on a steady footing to begin with, almost immediately faceplants into the ground. Cursing at himself for expecting too much of the other two, Fenrir then pulls out one of his pistols and fired.

Despite the distance, the shot hit true. Or it would have, if it weren’t for the sudden aura that enveloped the human. As the bullet came in contact with the aura it completely shattered into dust.

At this point they realized that they had actually managed to find what they’re looking for, it just happened to be not on their terms and now they are about to pay dearly for their errors.

As Archon and Klunk finally got off of the group the first the saw was the aura surrounding the human, and then they heard a thud as Fenrir dropped his pistol to the ground. As they turned their eyes they see him raising his hands in the air.

“Okay, you got us. We surrender.” He said, with the faintest ironic smirk on his face all but hidden in the darkness of the night just out.

Archon looked at Fenrir in shock. “You know the humans will kill all orcs they captured you dumbass!” He shouted. Klunk meanwhile appeared to be panicky contemplating whether to bolt away or make some desperate last ditch attack, both of which will almost certainly end in failure.

“We can always figure out a break out later.” Fenrir whispered without much confidence, “The point is to survive the next few minutes.”

“I... we are not savages!” The voice from the human is oddly soft and high pitched, probably denoting the youth of the person. “You... you all come out with your hands up!”

As the three orcs slowly walked towards the clearing with their hands in the air, Archon managed to yet again tripped on something on the forest floor, once again plastering his face into the ground. The human snapped his head towards the unexpected movement.

Fenrir took the opportunity, and in the blink of an eye closed in the distance. It wasn’t nearly enough. A particular savage and brutal struggle soon broke out as the strength and close combat experience of the orc is mostly negated by the bullshit protective aura of the human.

As the hand to hand fight raged on Archon, who has picked himself up, and Klunk merely stood there, slack jawed as the unbelievable sight unfold in front of their eyes. Klunk was the first to regain his bearing, and ran to the ongoing fight seeing what he could do to help Fenrir. As he closed in Fenrir suddenly grabbed his head and bashed it against the human.

It worked, the human collapsed into the ground, the aura rapidly fading away. Klunk also collapsed to the ground when Fenrir let go of his head. Even Fenrir himself was worse for wear, as he slowly lower himself to the ground as Archon arrived.

“Well, that wasn’t too bad wasn’t it?” He turned towards Archon as the latter drew near.

“I have to own you an apology, I had my doubts about the validity of your plan.” Archon was appropriately impressed with Fenrir’s performance, and somewhat ashamed of his and Klunk's own incompetency in the whole mission.

“Actually, I hate to break this to you, but this chain of events was the last thing on my mind.”

“I beg your pardon?” Archon was puzzled

“Well, it’s too late to worry about that now isn’t it?” Fenrir was quick to change the topic. “We should be getting out of here fast.”

“Now that you mention it, shouldn’t at least some of the other soldiers be around by now?” Concern flashed on both of their faces.

“Beats me, for all we know we’re in the center of a trap being sprung.”

“Well, all the more reasons to get the hell out of here then.” Archon suddenly became businesslike. “You take Klunk while I grab the human.”

“Couldn’t agree more.”

------

There was an old saying, that a person is heaviest when drunk, dead, or passed out. In this case it was no different. Even so, Fenrir casually lifted Klunk like a sack of potatoes, while Archon was having a bit more trouble with the human captive. Regardless, the two were able to make reasonable progress through the woods.

“If you don’t mind me asking, but what is our next step?” Fenrir asked.

“Well, obviously, since we has captured, someone of importance here, we should be heading back, to the capital. You know, questioning our captive.” Archon was already getting tired, panting as if about to pass out at any moment. “I can’t wait to get back to a real bed.”

“Yes, it will be nice indeed to get you lot back into your natural environment, as far away from nature as possible.”

“Now that I think about it, I have to make arrangements for another place to house the bureau. Don’t think the library’s gonna be okay with Francis Kevin.”

“Why am I not surprised you idiots don’t even have a permanent location?” Fenrir sighed. "You guys are about as incompetent as our victim here."

"Speaking of which, when are they gonna spring their trap?" Archon looked around at the woods, despite not being able to see anything more than a few feet in front of him.

"Oh there's a trap being sprung by somebody against somebody somewhere, you can bet on that." Fenrir said, "No one is this incompetent outside of us."

"Thanks a lot."

"Happy to dispense the truth whenever its needed."
 
TLB-ch8

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#8
Chapter 8: I seen enough hentai to know where this is going​

“Wah, what, why are we on a wagon?” Klunk asked, his speech slurred as he wakes from his rather unscheduled unconsciousness. It was the morning after and the three of them, along with their human captive, are on a wagon on the way away from the army camp.

“Glad you’re back from the land of the living.” Fenrir smiled in what most certain is a ‘shit-eating grin’, while Archon was sitting alone in a corner, suffering from what appears to be the beginnings of shock.

After the capture of the human, commandeering a supply wagon from the army was relatively straightforward. After the losses and retreat from the previous battle there were quite a few of them just hanging around, uncomfortable reminders of the army’s recent failure. Grabbing a driver for the wagon was also simple enough, for military logistics continues even when there’s no fighting going on, and it’s always nice to have a reason to get back to the city. The wagon was previously used to carry flour to the camp, and bits of spilled flour dotted the floor of the wagon, mixed with rainwater from the rain in the recent past, in which the resulting light brownish goop is even now greedly licked up by Francis.

“What’s happening?” Klunk’s confusion continues, the sights from his eyes not corresponding with what should be happening, at least in his mind.

“Why, we’re going home!” The grin is still firmly plastered on Fenrir’s face. “Having captured a mighty warrior of the enemy is certainly a good excuse as any.”

Klunk looked at the still unconscious human lying in the middle of the wagon, it was not an impressive sight, quite the opposite. It was hard to believe that little runt looking thing almost defeated all three of them. Well, mainly Fenrir, he admitted to himself, he and Archon didn’t exactly do much that night. He then noticed something else about the human…

“Um, given that this human is so formidable, shouldn’t he be tied up by now?”

“Oh, missed that.” The grin disappeared from Fenrir’s face, followed by the appearance of a frown. “Guess we should do something about it.”

It was at that point when the choice of action was taken out of their hands, for the human began to stir.

Within a moment three pairs of eyes focused on the little bundle of a person on the wagon floor, and only Francis still happily eating away, oblivious of what’s to come.

The human rose up to a sitting position, blinks a few times as if to chase away whatever sleep that’s still around, and those eyes suddenly went wide, or one of them, the other is hidden under a mass of blond hair. Once again the two sides stared at each other, by this point Archon had also finally snapped out of his little self pitying wallowing.

A parade of emotions flashed across the human’s face before finally settling on glazed despair, and a single sentence was muttered softly: “I seen enough hentai to know where this is going.”

“No you have not.” The voice was crisp and decisive, as Archon finally is in his element, and all but jumped at the chance. “First of all, we are on a wagon, not in a dungeon. In fact, there isn’t a single active dungeon on this side of the border. Second, all of us here have our clothes on. Third, rape is illegal in both civilian and military laws. And finally, we here are not interested in your race in that particular manner.” The snugness on his face is almost too much to be taken seriously.

The human could only stare at Archon in utter disbelief, and not the only one either. Fenrir, observing said facial expressions, was also rather confused and turned towards Klunk, asking quietly. “What the hell just happened?”

Now it is Klunk who gets to wear the ‘shit-eating grin’. “Shit like this is why this bureau exists. We know everything. Well, maybe not everything, but enough things of the other world to communicate to them on their footing.” The grin got wider, almost to the point of impossible “That kind of reaction is actually pretty normal. Shock, disbelief, doubt on the very existence of nature and the world. Though personally I would have gone with a less awkward spiel.” He shrugged, “But then again we don’t have a set of protocols for this, though you would think that by now one of our predecessors would have written something about it.”

Meanwhile, the conversation between Archon and the human continues unabated.

“How... how, just how? Of all this?”

“All will be explained in due time, although you should be aware that currently you are in no position to be asking any questions.”

Fenrir suddenly realized something “Come to think of it, have we done anything to suppress his powers?” he whispered to Klunk

“Don’t know, I wasn’t exactly around when you guys dragged my arse on this wagon, though knowing Archon, and you asking about this, I doubt it.”

“... but enough of this, tell us who you are.” Archon continued.

“Why should I?” A measure of defiance has reentered the human.

“Because it will make the resulting paperwork much easier, and to facilitate ransom when the time comes.” Archon was almost businesslike.

“I will tell you that ransoming me is a lost cause.”

“Well, given that you are the first of such cases of this, I wouldn’t exactly assume failure until we try.”

The human actually chuckled, rather bitterly. “Let me tell you something, I was never well liked by them, and they will not miss me, much less paying to get me back.”

“Then what is there to lose by telling us who you are? We can start with the basics, like your name.” For Archon, the initial feeling of elation at being able to utilize his knowledge has been replaced with frustration at getting nowhere fast.

The human fell silent, and Archon groaned. This is going to be a long trip back. The only one who seems to be high spirits appears to be Francis, who being a piglet does not have all the worries about the complexities of civilized life.

------

The little group made their camp as evening drew near, and almost immediately Fenrir joined the trooper driver in setting up the camp, being kindred souls. Meanwhile Archon and Klunk took up position guarding their human prisoner, while predictably Francis hung around the group’s food supplies.

“I um… need to, answer a call of nature.” The human suddenly asked. Archon and Klunk looked at each other, realizing that they have forgotten that humans have natural needs too.

Archon then took a shovel and handed to the human, “You know what to do with this. We will follow you.”

“Can I have some privacy?”

“Why? You know there’s no privacy in the military. We have to make sure you won’t make an escape.”

“Haha you two cocksuckers think you’re actually in the military.” Fenrir laughed as he strolled towards them, he then turned towards the human, “but then dangerous prisoners don’t have privacy either. Sorry about that.”

“Not even for a girl?”

“What?!?” Varying levels of expressions of shock latched themselves on all of the orcs’ faces, from the simple surprise from Archon to the more horrifying surprise on Fenrir, who now wondered what else he had missed.

“Not one of you has noticed in all this time?” She facepalmed at the sheer ludercious-ness of the situation.

Archon managed to recover enough to speak again. “We just figured that you’re either some stuck up son of an aristocrat or one of the lost humans, leaning towards the latter given our conversation earlier today.”

“Lost humans?” Now it’s her turn to be confused.

“Those humans who for whatever reasons got thrown into our world, usually comes with some bullshit powers and nasty attitudes.” Archon explained.

“We also call them isekais or SIs” Klunks added helpfully, “but those are more academic terms.”

“Can I go… now?” She asked, her voice becoming more desperate.

“Oh yes, of course.” Archon said, “but we will still have to be within five meters of you, you still being a prisoner and all.”

------

“I… I am willing to talk.” It was after a dinner of standard military rations. Filling, but nothing special. Now the group sat around the campfire. The little slice of civilization keeping the darkness and savagery at bay. The human seems much more open to conversations after the latest little round of revelations. “It was wrong of me to assume the worst of you and your species.”

“Wonderful, I’m glad to hear that.” Archon said “It’s better late than never. Can I start by asking your name? It feels rather awkward not knowing something that simple after all this time.”

“I… my name is Kojack Palmer, but you can call me Kay.”

“Kay… my god, we have commander K!” Klunk shouted, the first to make the connection.

“Yes, cavalry commander of the Kingdom of the Lion. Former commander I guess, it will be only a matter of time before records of my existence are erased and my name condemned for eternity.”

“I don’t understand, failures are perfectly normal in military affairs.” Fenrir said, shaking his head. “Sometimes shit happens to even the best. Even now, our general Mung will retain his position and rank. Sure, there will most likely be an inquiry, but I doubt they will find anything to charge him besides bad luck, and that’s not a crime.”

“It’s hard for outsiders to understand.” Kay was visibly distraught “They… we… the isekais as you called them, are out of control. They are utterly drunk on power.”

“I think we should hold off this line of conversation for later.” Archon said, standing up, “Klunk, you look after our guest here. Fenrir, come with me, we need to talk.”

“Of course.”

The two walked a short distance away from the campfire. Archon turned towards Fenrir, “This is a big thing we have on our hands here.”

“No shit. We actually captured commander K. The war is effectively over for the year.”

“Well, what do we do now?”

“Why ask me? I’m only attached to your bureau for the duration of this mission, which is over for all intents and purposes.”

“I would like an outside opinion, this whole thing… is rather outside of what I feel like I can handle.”

“Young man,” Fenrir sighed “There are times when great events thrust upon themselves to individuals. We can only brace ourselves and hope we can rise up to the task.”

“I… am touched. At your wisdom and confidence in me.”

“Despite all your faults, of which there are many indeed. I have faith in your ability in your job.”

"Well then, I guess we should be getting back, and walk into the history books."
 
TLB-ch9

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#9
Chapter 9: Resettling the bureau​

“It’s good to be back to civilization.” Archon remarked as the wagon passed through the southwest gates of the outer wall the city. With news that the city is no longer in danger, security has returned to their peacetime levels (or more accurately, the lack of). This meant that only a bored guard was standing around, and upon seeing just another wagon, simply waved them through without even a glance.

“Yes, yes indeed.” Fenrir was somewhat less enthusiastic about the situation. Although not willing to admit it openly, he was very impressed with the capital city. However, the noise and rush isn’t exactly his cup of tea.

Klunk turned towards Kay “Well, since no one else has mentioned it, welcome to the belly of the beast, the city of Ekabery, capital of the Axeon Union” He cracked a grin. Kay barely heard him, too engrossed at the sights and sounds all around them. Sights and sounds that all her life have been told to be impossible, from those who are supposedly incapable of such. “If only the government has given a more dignified name for this city.” He muttered to himself, shaking his head.

Compared to human cities, the city of Ekabery was rather more subdued, but also more evenly spread. While there weren’t many supremely tall buildings to be seen, the few that rise above the rest still managed to give a squat and functional appearance, robbing whatever majesty they could have gotten from their height. On the other hand the outer rings, usually where the slums are located within a city, were surprisingly presentable only in that they are not complete eyesores.

Overall, Ekabery was a kitbash of urban planning and random expansion. The inner city, housing the government, the wealthy and their trappings, the institutions of higher learning, was a fine monument of grids and circles, of paved roads, tastefully planted gardens and parks, and of a sense of almost desperation to prove that orcs are also in fact, capable of living as civilized beings.

Then there’s the outer city, where the businesses, cottage industries, and all the things that actually makes a city productive are located. It is a mass mostly unrestrained by the best plans of government and bureaucracy. It is dirty, chaotic, crowded, alive.

Regardless, the city, and the country for that matter, as a whole is a far cry from the collection of mud huts that was around the region a few generations ago. They have come a long way, and they have a long ways to go, but here and now they are at a crossroads, even if few has any idea of the choices to come.

“There’s much work to be done.” Archon said briskly. “Klunk, you put the wagon back to stores, and after that pick up our stuff from the library. Rest of you, come with me, we’re going to the Bureau of Finances. I’m going to try to see what we could get in the way of some actual housing for the lot of us. So meet us over there when you’re done.”

“Acknowledged.” Klunk replied.

------

The building complex housing the Bureau of Finances was one of the more imposing among the various bureaus. Not much of a surprise as commerce and trade are the foundation of the nation. Archon has always thought that this state of affairs is rather bullshit, even more so that now he is the head of a bureau of his own. As they near the front steps of the main building, Archon turn towards the others.

“Getting anything out of those misers might take a while, so if you two want to wait out here you can do so. Fenrir, I know you like the outdoors, as well as your disdain towards bureaucracy of all kinds.”

“I appreciate that.” Fenrir replied, “and yes I’d rather stay out here. The gardens here feels rather nice and peaceful. Besides, I don’t think they’d let Francis into the building, and someone has to watch him.”

“Of course.” He was already walking up the stairs, trying to hide his slight oversight.

As Archon disappeared into the building Kay turned towards Fenrir. “May I ask you a question?”

“Sure, why not?” Fenrir seems to be in a jocular mood. “As long as it’s not anything about state secrets, because I sure as hell have no idea on any of them.”

“Why didn’t any of you realize that I’m female.” She asked.

“If I answer truthfully, will your opinion of me be any less?”

“Would anyone ever say yes to that?”

“No. No I guess not.” Fenrir chuckled, “Well I guess I should be honest regardless.”

He took a pause, gazing at one of the fountains, before continuing. “Our opinions of the human kingdoms and their Lost ones are heavily steeped in stereotypes and experiences. As far as anybody is aware, the only females on the frontlines we saw tend to be in rather… revealing armors.”

“Microskirts and boobplates?” Kay finished. Fenrir nodded, she sighed, “It gets worse, most of them were also partially brainwashed to accept that kind of armor. What do you guys do to them, the ones you managed to capture?”

“We never got to capture any of them. Shrapnel and shot tend to get them faster than everyone else.” He shook his head, “I don’t understand. Why? Why do that?”

“You have no idea of the level of depravity and pettiness of the isekais in the human kingdoms.”

“You better tell Archon about this, this could be rather important.”

“I’m not sure I should, where my loyalties lie…”

“A bit of advice if I may? Only give your loyalty to those who deserves it.” Fenrir said, “It might not be us, but I’m willing to bet five bucks that it is certainly not them.”

“Well, thanks. I guess.” She appears to be thinking about it.

“There’s plenty of time now, for better or worse.” He chuckled, “Now that the human army has lost their protective aura.”

Kay winced at that last part, Fenrir stopped. “Sorry, was just venting a bit as you kick quite a few of our arses. In fact, our bureau’s mission in this past campaign was to capture you.”

“I was that important? I’m touched.”

“Don’t be. The damn spies couldn’t even get your gender correctly, or your looks, or anything. Then again, much like the Lost Bureau they’re not exactly the most competent of people.”

“You say that as if you’re not part of it.”

“I’m only attached to these loons for the duration of the mission, thank goodness.”

“Well, I guess I’ll be saying goodbye to you soon then. May good luck follow you wherever you go and whatever you do.”

“Hey guys!” Klunk shouted as he ran up to them. A handcart parked nearby piled with all kinds of miscellaneous stuff. “Archon’s still not finished yet?”

“Doesn’t look like it.” Fenrir shook his head, “Looks like he wasn’t kidding about slowness of bureaucracies.”

“Well, that sucks.” Klunk agreed, “Oh, and by the way. I was on the way here from the library when some flunky from the army give me this to deliver to you.” He handed a sheet of paper to Fenrir.

“For me?” Fenrir narrowed his eyes and frowned as he took the paper, “Nothing good ever comes from a paper from the higher ups.”

As he read the paper his eye grew even narrower and frown deepened as well. “Well, I guess I will have to live with this too.” He muttered as he tore the paper to shreds.

“What’s wrong?” Both Klunk and Kay asked worryingly at the same time. Even Francis looks up at him.

“I’m being transferred permanently to you loons, general staff figured you idiots need extra security guarding Kay here.” He said flatly, not showing much of any emotions. “They decided that they would rather have the Lost Bureau handling this rather than Intelligences.”

“Well, given the relations between the two being not too hot right now, I can’t exactly blame them.” Klunk shrugged, “Sorry to hear that you will not get to enjoy demobilization.”

“Hashville will have to make do with one less game warden then.” Fenrir still seems reluctant to accept his sudden change of circumstances.

It was at this moment that Archon walked out of the building, waving a key in one hand, a stack of papers in the other, “Hey guys you wouldn’t believe which place I got us!”
 
TLB-ch10

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#10
Chapter 10: A glimpse into a world lost​

“This is… the Lost Bureau’s new, home? Office?” Kay asked.

“Both, and a prison of sorts too come to think of it.” He paused, “No offense intended” He winced at his slip up. “We’re not exactly large or busy enough for separate buildings.”

“No offense taken.” She smiled, although her eyes seems to be in a faraway place, “Though I’m guessing I’m partially the reason that you managed to get this place?” Archon looked away, and merely shrugged.

“Enough of the chit chat, let’s get unpacking.” Fenrir was already at the front door. “There is plenty of work to do.”

The building, a simple two story brick house of a style that would be very familiar to many of the Lost ones, surrounded by a simple grass lawn and a couple of flowerbeds, both of which in a state of slight disrepair.

“According to a casual research of the public records, this house was part of the proposed expansion of the embassy block, until they realize they completely overestimated the number of countries that actually want to have any contact with us beside trying to kill us. So here we are, just another tiny piece the government doesn’t know what to do with so they shove us here.” Archon remarked.

“Regardless, it’s where we’re gonna be living in for the foreseeable future.” Klunk said cheerfully as he follows Fenrir into the front door.

The unpacking didn’t take long, as between the four of them there weren’t many material possessions. Fenrir then almost immediately went outside to the backyard as Francis followed close behind, saying something along the lines that he need to do some physical work, something to remind him of surroundings he’s used to. The rest spent a bit of time simply roaming around the house.

“Hey Archon,” Klunk asked suddenly, “Are you also getting that feeling?”

“What feeling?”

“Something feels... off. I can’t explain it in words.”

“What, ghosts, spirits, demons?” Archon quipped.

“No, none of that regular supernatural nonsense.” Klunk stopped, realizing how dumb that sounded, “I guess that feeling of unfamiliarity.”

“Of course, we’re in an actual housing for once instead of camping out at the library, or stuck in normal housing with our families before that… Hang on, did you hear that noise?”

“Is that somebody crying?” Klunk started to move towards the general direction of the noise.

After a bit of bumbling around, the two managed to track down the source of the noise behind a closed door on the upper floor. Archon finally recognized the voice. “Kay?”

The sobbing stopped, and a sniffle was heard.

Archon continued, “Is everything alright?”

“Who needs to get their asses kicked?” Klunk shouted, an absolutely worthless gesture as anything that could overcome Kay in fighting prowess is almost certainly also capable of beating the crap out of the two of them, but it’s the thought that counts.

“Sorry.” She sounds more collected. “It’s just… this bathroom. The sink, the showerhead, the bathtub, the toilet with flush, the decor. It… it’s so similar. The world that was taken away from me… I remember the times I spent hours each day in a bathroom like this, just taking my time to prepare myself for an ordinary day. Taking care of my hair, my teeth, those simple things of a carefree life...”

“What do we do now?” Klunk is at an loss.

“Well, if there’s anything we are actually good at, it is talking.” Archon muttered.

------

“It’s simple, homesickness, and this house triggered long suppressed emotions because it’s intentionally designed to evoke the appearance and function of the housing that from the world where the Lost humans came from.”

The three of them were sitting in the living room of the house, after Archon managed to coax Kay out of the bathroom.

“Oh, so that explains why I felt something weird about this house.” Klunk remarked semi-absentmindedly.

“Shut up, this isn’t about you right now.” Archon shot a glare at Klunk, who took the hint. He then continued. “It’s a rather well known phenomenon among the Lost ones that our bureau has met over the years. Sorry about forgetting about this earlier.”

“It’s… it’s alright.” Kay appears to be still in the aftereffects of the homesickness. “I’m okay now.”

“No you’re not,” Archon quickly shot that down. “In fact, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

“What the hell?” Klunk interrupted. “Can’t you at least lie a bit?”

“Klunk, we need to have this whole thing over with as quickly as possible, for her own good.” He sighed and turned towards Kay again, “What you have suffered is merely the second part, the first of which I assume you already went through when you first ended up in this world. What I am about to tell you will most likely induce the third part.”

Kay did her best to put on a brave face in anticipation of the additional bad news. Archon continued. “The thing is, no one except maybe the dragons has yet figured out a way to send any of you back, and they are not tellin. Even if we do, the world you would return to would be as alien to you as this world when you first step into here, due to the simple passage of time and the changes of peoples.

She took it rather better than Archon expected, as she merely begin to sob quietly again instead of a complete breakdown. Sometimes Archon himself wondered if he would have done better if he ended up in such a situation. Most likely not, he thought to himself.

“Therefore, I suggest we take things slowly for now, to limit your exposure to other Lost ones or things that might remind you of the world that you came from.”

“So you’re jailing me here, in this house?”

“Oh no, nothing that severe. We are just explaining why we are not letting you come into contact with the other Lost ones or their quarters for now. Besides, locking you in this house is probably not healthy for your body or mind, and I’m pretty sure that’s something no one wants.”

“What?” Kay suddenly looked up, her eyes narrowing despite the tears. “What exactly are your intentions?”

Klunk facepalmed, while Archon sighed, realizing his poor choice of words. “My apologies, I don’t mean to imply… we have no ill intentions towards you. We, this bureau’s very reason of existence is to help people like you adjusted to this world, our world. I don’t know how we can show you our sincerity except for you to give us time to show what we are. WIll you trust us?”

Klunk groaned, this little speech is cheesy and scripted in the extreme, probably undercutting any actual sincerity of its contents. It was a pleasant surprise Kay nodded, wiping away her tears.

“Thank you.”

It was such a touching moment, which was immediately ruin when a door slammed and Fenrir barged in, tracking mud all over the wooden floor. He looked at the crowd and declared rather cheerfully, oblivious to the mood of the others.”I think I can get used to this place all things considered.”

------------------------------------
Disclaimer: Kay's mental breakdown has nothing to do with her gender, but rather something that a lot of isekai stories tend to gloss over: homesickness due to being thrown into a supposedly unfamiliar world, and a lot of those worlds's aesthetics being all too close to our world (which mitigates some of the issues of homesickness which would be interesting to explore). I'm reasonably certain that if any of us males gets thrown into those SI situations we would also have a lot of mental baggage soon enough.
 
TLB-ch11

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#11
Chapter 11: Peace is quite boring, isn’t it?​

“All nine hundred odd survivors, impaled when the army found them. The last gift the human army left behind in their retreat.” Klunk remarked.

It has been a few weeks since the group settled into what is now the office of the Bureau of Exoitc Affairs. A stable schedule started to surface, with Fenrir busying himself with gardening, Klunk shuttling tomes to and from the library, and Archon throwing himself into research, helped by Kay of all people.

There were few times when the entire group comes together, and breakfast was one of them. For Kay, it was surreal, if only by the sheer normality of it all. Four persons, three orcs and a human, sitting at a dining room table that wouldn’t be out of place from another world. Even Francis, who at Klunk’s insistence has his meals with them in a corner in the dining room, gives a sense of surreal normality. The eggs and bacon, the mugs of coffee, the reading of the newspaper, the latter of which brings back to the matter at hand today.

While news of the ending of war for the year reached the city even before the army returned, details of the battles fought and the campaign in general were slower in forthcoming. First they reached the tabloids, which no self respecting person will believe. The major news, with their sense of journalistic integrity, were slower in their reporting. When those came out it became all too obvious.

Funny thing, even a little bit of peace and prosperity has already made many forget the natural state of affairs. As such, when the atrocities committed by the human armies came out there was a great hue and and cry amongst the people, who seemed to have forgotten that the horrors they are reading now were the horrors their parents witnessed in person. The worst of the horrors was the fate of the 16th regiment, their impaled corpses was the first sight to meet the army after they advance in the aftermath of the human’s withdraw.

“What?” Kay whispered, her eyes wide in shock.

“Hmm, no surprised there, except that there are people still shocked by this happening.” Fenrir remarked. “Also looks like some of the younger conscripts have lived rather sheltered lives before all of this. Well what else do you expect out of city people.”

“But, but… They swore an oath to not slaughter the prisoners. I had them swore an oath!” Kay put her head on her hands, as the horrors of the news slowly seep into her mind.

“Well, I guess their oath was only as good as you were, and with you being gone…” Fenrir didn’t finish. While Archon was already scribbling notes into a small notebook.

“How… how can this…” Kay was at a loss, “But our, their entire culture is based on honor.” She sighed. “I guess I was just in denial, like with so many things.”

“Well, given what we know of human societies, denial is something you have to have in order to cope with anything more than survival.” Archon said gravely, suddenly much older than his age. “But enough of that, let’s finish breakfast first, for hunger waits for no one.”

------

“Well, if true, this is fucking disturbing.” Major Ekim didn’t mince any words.

The three of them, Denhardt, and Archon, and himself were in a rather unremarkable small conference room within the central building of the State Intelligence, a building mainly notable for its bad taste and terrible decor. The conference room itself at least is devoid of narly color, a small respite from its other negative features. Archon was ‘cordially invited’ for a ‘casual exchange of information’ between the various bureaus and departments of the government.

“Not really much of a surprise, as it already corresponds on many of our existing sources, except most people generally refuse to believe them.” Denhardt remarked, looking rather smug as he appears to be vindicated. Ekim glared at him.

It has been a month since the unexpected and sudden end of the military campaign. A month of recovering, of returning, and of preparing. After an initial period of emotional turmoil, Kay has adjusted rather well to the life in the city, perhaps it was so familiar in so many ways. As such, the information about humanity on the other side of the border flowed somewhat freely from her.

And the information was horrifying.

“It’s a bit different from the theories from your State Intelligence though.” Archon said, “For the longest time we thought it was the human societies turn them like that, but for the past decade or so it has been the opposite. For all intents and purposes the Lost ones are the one running those countries over there.”

“Just when we thought that the world is horrible enough, the gods that be decided to import more problems from another universe of all things.” Denhardt sighed.

“Hang on, let’s not paint too broad a brush on them.” Archon interrupted, “The Lost humans on our side had been nothing but loyal.”

“I wouldn’t exactly call it loyalty, more like some form of… patronizing parenthood.” Ekim said, “Which is why if possible to have Kay to meet General Mung.”

Both Archon and Denhardt raise their eyebrow, “For what, exactly?” Archon asked, “We already give all the information she has provided, unless Klunk has been rolling the reports to smoke weed, which isn’t completely impossible now that I think of it.”

“And her loyalty is assured correct?” Ekim continued the line of enquiry.

“Um… not really?” Archon was slightly confused by said line of enquiry, “More like she has nowhere to go.”

“Eh, close enough, Mung is willing to take the risk.” Ekim shrugged.

“Okay tin head, stop being so coy.” Denhardt was getting rather impatient, especially when someone else is aping his style.

“You two are either idiots or missing your coffee. What General Mung is suggesting is to recruit her into the military in a command capacity.”

“Yep, General Mung has gone off the deep end.” Denhardt said, his face completely neutral, “I’ll be sure to note that in my next monthly report to my superiors.”

“While we’re all here I’d also suggest you tell General Mung to have that idea stew around for a while, and in the meantime stop taking whatever mind altering substance he’s on.” Archon chipped in.

------

‘All of this is rather surreal’ Fenrir thought to himself as he tend to the garden, which has by this time has taken up half of the backyard of the residence. It was a far cry from the forests and fields that surround his home village, yet it brought him a sense of peace he had not felt for a long time. Perhaps there is truth in the old saying that gardening soothe the soul. Such a contract that this little peace of tranquility coexisting in the heart of stone and iron that is the city.

Sometimes he still wonders why the other two would even want him in the bureau, the maintenance of the house and surrounding properties is something idiot could have done, while Kay’s speculation that he was retained has more to do with the bureau needing an opinion that actually has contact with reality at some point in time sound even more outlandish, as if those two fool are even capable of realizing how out of touch with reality they are.

Speaking of Kay, the two had struck a weird friendship of sorts, much to the surprise of both. Perhaps it’s the fact that both are soldiers, abit less than willingly in her case (not that Fenrir himself was too excited when the call to arms came, but when war is forced upon you...). Otherwise though there wasn’t much they have in common, well, maybe being reluctantly fighting, having a head grounded in reality… maybe they do have a lot in common after all.
Turning back to the garden, the vegetables are coming along nicely, one of the perks of having a garden within such an urbanized space is the lack of large wild animals roaming around looking for snacks. Of course the outer city is still full of animals, both domesticated and otherwise, but in this little corner, there’s just Francis, who is growing up rather nicely...

He sighed, while his present situation appears to be as relaxing as that of the bouncing piggy, knowing whatever those two are cooking up for the bureau this tranquil state of affairs isn’t going to last.
 
TLB-ch12

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#12
Chapter 12: slice of cliche​

“So why are we being invited? At this time of the year?” Klunk asked as the members of the bureau and Kay made their way across the inner city to the “Lost District”. It’s a valid question, one that’s on the minds of everyone else also.

It was around the middle of the Feasting season, specifically Harvest Week. A week in which in theory is all about the celebration of prosperity of the agriculture, but has long since devolved into a week of debaturchy, an rather inevitable result of urbanization loosening the bond between people and land.

“Beats me.” Archon shrugged. “Probably wants to see the biggest threat to civilization in the flesh.” One day a letter came from the paper industry owner and media mogul Charlie Tomson, who “cordially” invited them all to her residence for a visit.

Yes, her. Ironically it was Kay who first pointed that little fact out to the,. after a couple of days trawling through newspaper archives.

“Why were you so interested in this person?” Archon had asked. Sure, she’s certainly rich and powerful, and apparently a patron (or at least covert supporter) of the bureau, but none of that should matter much to someone who’s not part of the machinery of politics in the country.

“If my hunch is correct…” She trails off, as if contemplating something else entirely. Archon decided to drop the inquiry, there’s always later.

Even besides that, it was rather surprising how little information there was on this person, especially given the gossip-fueled nature of the tabloids and trashier newspapers and their obsession on everything concerning the rich and powerful. What is publicly known about this Charlie is that she is a recluse (with plenty of rumors that she might be a vampire or lich) and one of the few Lost humans who advocate a militant and interventionist policy against the human kingdoms, which said opinions were frequently published in The Luna Times (one of the newspaper she owns, often considered to be a tabloid).

So really nothing much at all.

“Looks like we’re about to enter the Lost district.” Fenrir noted. It’s almost impossible to notice the sudden shifts in architectural style and planning. In contrast with the sprawling estates and flamboyant mansions, the houses of the Lost ones, most of them brick, were simplistic and [relatively] small almost to a fault, as are their accompanying yards. Make no mistake though, the materials used their construction is as good as the rest of the those in the inner city. To the orcs, the Lost ones seems to be unusually homble. To Kay, they are obviously faithful imitations of various suburban housing types from the world in which she (and by implication the rest of them) came from. At least, as faithful an imitation as possible in a world before practical electricity, internal combustion engine, natural gas, wireless, and a universe of other little things that seperate a modern world with a pre-modern one. That is not to say that those houses are identical by any means, the mark of individualism still made their mark, to anyone paying close attention of course.

As the group continues to make their way (walking on the sidewalk, something that Fenrir was still getting used to), the group couldn’t help but gawk at the houses around them, whether out of simple fascination or nostalgia.

“Is this the address?” Archon asked as the group had stopped at a particular house.

“So the rumors are true, we are visiting a vampire lich.” Klunk said snarkly. The house, this house, is one of the few that is very different from the majority of the houses. Not in size in area covered or height of the house itself. No, this is what by all appearance a miniature neo-gothic manor. Even down to the dark grey paints, which makes it stand out all the more next to the other, more cheerful looking houses. Kay merely nodded to herself, as if merely confirming something in her mind.

As the group stood outside the front door, it opened and an male orc, dressed in expensive but muted clothing.


“You all are from the Bureau of Exocite Affairs?“ He asked. They nodded. “Come in, mistress is waiting for you.”

The inside of the house matched the outside in terms of decor; overly complicated, full of frills and complex patterns. They could not but help noticing all that as they were ushered in to what appears to be the living room.

“Yep, we’re definitely visiting a vampire lich’s lair.” Archon casually remarked, half jokingly, as they all took in their surroundings.

“And this is where you’re wrong, despite all of your readings” A new voice appeared. They turned towards the sound of the voice.

A female human, about half a head taller than Kay, her long hair a mountain of slightly disheveled mess. Her frame rather on the thin side, her skin an almost unhealthy shade of pale, the parts that weren’t covered by clothing anyways. Speaking of her clothing, she was dressed in a dress that is both not overly cluttered enough and a tad bit too short (though not like Neither Archon or Klunk knew much in the way of fashion), long gloves, and socks that reached the thigh, the latter two of which are in a dark shade of grey.

So basically, a vampire lich in terms of appearances, lifestyle, and probably behavior too come to think of it.

“Charlie!” Kay immediately jump up and embraced the totally-not-a-vampire-lich, while the orcs simply starred that the sudden turn of events with slacked jaws. Fenrir was the first to recover.

“You two know each other?” He asked the question that is on all of their minds.

“Well… it’s a long story” Charlie said, as if slightly embarrassed. For the first time a different shade of color appeared on her face. ‘Maybe she isn’t completely a lich after all’, thought Klunk.

It wasn’t that long of a story. In fact it was a story that the bureau has heard plenty of times: a couple of friends, while drunk or under the influence of drugs, fooling around with some old ass magic tome, not taking shit seriously because they’re in a world devoid of magic. Inevitably they screwed up some spell, and thrown themselves into this world, separate from each other by hundreds of kilometers and a lot of ignorance due to screwing up the spell in question. Still, it certainly beats the actual most common way of getting to this world via crashing into some large iron wagon.

What was far more revealing was when the two humans began discussing their adventures (or more accurately survival) after being thrown in this world with only the clothes on their backs and whatever grab bag of power that being thrown into this world seems to be gifted. Charlie’s case in particular appears to be an interesting study on the importance of passive powers and abilities. Archon and Klunk were still furiously scribbling in their notebooks when they stopped chatting.

“Once again I have to thank all of you at the Bureau at finding my best friend.” Charlie beamed at trio of orcs, of which two of them were attempting, and failing, to coyly hide their notebooks. “This is certainly a cause for celebration!”

------

For a eating establishment almost exclusively catering to Lost humans, the Woodfuel Burger was oddly disappointing in its decor. The orcs’ initial opinion of the joint managed to sink even lower when as they stepped into the door, which, despite its glass construction, still managed to give off an appearance of cheapness. Regardless the place is doing a rather brisk business, and there is a line (mainly humans) waiting to place their orders.

“I know I will sound really ignorant for asking this, but can you explain exactly what is going on?” Archon asked, questions which is also on the minds of Klunk and Fenrir.

“It’s a fast food place, in faithful imitation of ones from our world.” Charlie said, almost with a sense of smugness. “Although some liberties are taken given that some of the technologies are not in existence yet.” She added, almost apologetically.

“Um… that doesn’t exactly answer our questions.” Klunk said timidly

“If it’s anything like the ones back home, and it sure looks like it. I think I know how it works.” Kay chipped in. “You go up to the counter, look up on the board to decide what you want, tell the attendant that, pay, and wait around.”

“What? A establishment of this calibre, and no serving staff?” Klunk’s look of surprise is mirrored in Archon and Fenrir.

“And just the way we Lost humans like it.” Charlie grinned. “And don’t worry about the prices, it’s on me.”

Despite her reassurances, it took a little while for the orcs to shook themselves out of their shock at the prices listed, in which they didn’t even noticed until Charlie mentioned them. Therefor it took a little bit of time for the entire group to make their order, although Kay also took a bit of time deciding what she wanted to order, being for her the first time in a long time to do something so mundane yet at the same time so extraordinary.

As they finished they orders the worker behind the counter handed them their drinks in wax paper cups, of which Fenrir looked at his cup with a slight bit of confusion.

“All part of the atmosphere, or so I been told.” Archon shrugged. “Just go along with it.”

“The world we came from… was at times somewhat wasteful.” Charlie said, somewhat apologetically, though unknown to the orcs way understating the facts, a feature that they will notice soon enough in the coming years.

The fragility of the cups weren’t the only surprise in store for Fenrir, as he took his first sip into whatever he supposedly ordered (though it was more him going with the first suggestion from one of the humans).
“What, exactly, is this?” He asked. The drink is somewhat bubbly like beer, except it is so sweet it is as if its liquid sugar.

“Soda, a type of carbonated beverage.” Again, Charlie was mildly apologetically, while Kay was too busy taking big gulps of her drink.

When the rest of the food arrived (on wooden trays) and the group managed to find an unclaimed table to sit and eat. The food itself, while the quality of the materials used is unquestionable, the final product was rather mundane, given who the consumers are. The main dish, called a ‘burger’ is a mess of meat and vegetables piled in a glorious mess between two pieces of bread. The side dish known as ‘fries’ being sliced potato pieces fried in oil. While they are certainly far better than the majority of the cooking to be found around, if in a wild and somewhat unrestrained fashion, they are not exactly what one would expect the upper class to indulge in. The two humans dug into the meal in a frenzy rather unbecoming of people of their stature.

“I’m guessing… that you Lost human’s interest in this place is more than just the quality of the food.” Archon hazarded a guess as it looks like the two humans are close to finishing their food.

“It’s the nostalgia.” Kay said as she wipes away some reddish looking sauce from her mouth, the glow of unbridled joy still in her eyes. “It’s a reminder of the carefree days before we were thrown into this world.”

“What the hell is there to nostalgic about?” Klunk blurted out before Archon had a chance to elbow him in the ribs.

“They come from a far richer world you dumbass!” Archon reminded him.

“Ironically, it is quite normal for people to be nostalgic for bad old times too.” Charlie said, with a rather coy smile as if seeing a joke that no one else is seeing so far. “Childhood is often a simpler time.”

“Except for the part where the subjection army killed everyone and burned everything to the ground.” Fenrir butted in. Archon could only facepalm at the general embarrassment his copartiates are causing.

Kay actually giggled, “Charlie,” She said, “doesn’t all this remind you of when you were that awkward?”

Charlie blushed, a still rather rare if mildly eerie sight to the orcs. “Well, it’s not like I have become more outgoing since ending up in this world, if the nicknames are anything to go by.”

“Um, ‘pulp lich’ is meant as a sort of endearing term.” Archon said, despite his efforts still managed to sound like he was merely arsecovering.

And so on and so forth the conversations went, in which Charlie seems to be more happy than Kay that she has accepted a position in the Axeon army. While the orcs listened with great attention to details as Charlie explained how she survived and prospered in a world rather lacking in modern conveniences.

Overall it was a rather pleasant experience with a otherwise rather reclusive figure.
 
TLB-ch13

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#13
Chapter 13: Rocketing into quarrel​

As Hibernation season came the lands fall into quietness. The quietness of rest, contemplation, and reflection, mainly enforced by the all encompassing snow and cold. However such are the nature of so called civilized beings that even as nature hints that it might be time to slow down a bit.

------

“This, this isn’t all that impressive all things considered.” Major Ekim remarked.

Ekim, Archon, Klunk, a number of army flunkies, and even an odd flunky from the navy are at a snow covered field at the edge of the city whose only notable feature normally is its worthlessness of its soil, which is why it is the perfect plot of land for testing new weapons. On this slightly less than happy day this grab bag of orcs and the odd human have met up here for the display and test firing of a new weapon system, rockets.

Major Ekim’s assessment seems rather correct, the contraption in front of them (a safe distance away) was certainly uninspiring, especially for something that is supposed to compete against the majesty of the cannons currently in use by both the army and navy. The contraption being a framework of wood hastily thrown up, with a number of iron tubes, each around a meter in length, laid on top of it.

“Give us a break, this is a prototype.” Archon shot back. “The ugliness will be dealt with once it’s in production.”

“Why should we? It’s not like any of you did anything productive.” Ekim was rapidly drawing into the verbal fight. “Only thing you lot accomplished was entirely because of our guy.” Obviously the army was still slightly bitter at a certain event around a half a year ago.

“Whom you kicked over to us as soon as you could. Archon countered.

“Perhaps we should begin our actual testing, it is getting rather cold out here.” Ensign Luda, the naval observer, spoke up.

“Okay, let’s do this.” Klunk was rather more enthusiastic than most of the people gathered. “Fire away!” He shouted as he start lighting the fuses attached to the rockets… with a meter long pole he’s holding to put as much distance between him and the rockets.

The sight of those clunky looking metal tubes streaking across the sky managed, for a brief moment, impressed those present. Archon silently give thanks for having the foresight to make and test a large number of them beforehand. The amount of duds and malfunctions were simply staggering. Can’t say they weren’t warned about those though.

“Can’t say I’m all that impressed.” Ekim muttered as the rockets plunge and exploded into the distance. To say they were inaccurate was a massive understatement, as they seemed to have gone every which way, cheerfully disregarding the best wishes of any and everything. The explosions were also rather underwhelming, being more of a pop than a burst, when they even explode at all.

“I can see the potential of this.” Luda ironically was somewhat more forgiving, not having a grudge probably helps. “No visible recoil for one, and once refined potentially a greater percentage of the weapon is usable. I would still not want to serve on any ships armed with that though.”

“The system can be scaled down to the point of a single rocket, which if everything goes well can be handled by two soldiers.” Klunk explained, desperately trying to sell the product.

That little tibite managed to catch Ekim’s attention. “Well that sounds rather interesting… but I’m guessing that you’re not going to get that together anytime soon.”

“True.” Klunk admitted, “but even the current type can be used for field battles, as soon as we figure out how to lighten the frames.”

“And why should I give this the light of day?” Ekim remains rather skeptical. This isn’t exactly the first time that the army has been presented with the next best thing that’s been promised miracles which end up failing to deliver anything of note, much less usable.

“Because this is merely a formality.” Archon’s expression and posture sudden became much less goofy, the bumbling idiot is all but gone, for the moment. “This is merely the part of the reorganisation of the army for offensive warfare.”

Ekim actually laughed, though without any warmth. “So parts of the general staff has delusions of grandeur again. Probably even mentioned it at the last meeting, right around the time I must have dozed off.”

“Would those plans sound less delusional if I were to tell you that they have taken the Pulp Lich into their confidence?” Archon said, cracking a snide smile.

“That’s even worse.” Ekim couldn’t help but facepalm. “A recluse Lost human rumored to be a bit on the crazy side backing the military’s bloodlust schemes, however much I agree with them, is really not what the military needs right now.”

“No, this is why the whole thing is going to be ‘off the books’ so to speak.” Archon continued. “There are enough people interested in removing the problem. Permanently.”

“Yes, yes, we had a slush fund for the better part of the decade.” Ekim rolled his eyes, “Still nowhere enough for the job.”

Maybe you should start paying more attention to the staff meetings. Idle chatter that they appears to be.”

“Hang on a minute, how the fuck do you cockbites knew so much?” A wave of panic starts making its way up Ekim as he finally connected the dots to his previous unease at the course of the conversation.

“Kay still hangs around our place from time to time you know.” Klunk said, “and that means Charlie also comes around.”

“Isn’t State Intelligence suppose to keep tabs on things?”

“Denhardt didn’t really give a shit, and even if he does he couldn’t do much about it. Not when Charlie reminded him of all the favors the SI owns to her, or her newspapers at any rate.”

Ekim sighed, wondering just how thick the web between the various organs of the government and business went. “I knew they always worthless when they’re actually needed.” he muttered to himself.

Looks like the military will get some fancy looking new toys whatever happens, hopefully he’ll never be near any of those things. 'Sucks for the poor troopers who'll end up handling them.' He thought to himself.
 
TLB-ch14

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#14
Chapter 14: Of whims and plots​

Fenrir was in rather high spirits, as he looks at the human soldiers marching from his seat on the supply wagon. The Lost humans had pulled a lot of strings to make the stars align for him. All seemly to be on a whim. He shook his head, and to think that the Lost Bureau is supposed to manage people of those powers...

------

It was a few weeks back, when both Kay and Charlie were at the Bureau’s house, hanging around doing nothing in particular when he asked Archon for a few months off to visit his hometown. Archon was steadfast in denying such a thing, protesting that he need every bit of muscle power he can get his hands on for the current project for the military, until Charlie butted in saying that she might be able to provide some means to make the project doable with less manpower.

“Come on, one less person isn’t that much in the grand scheme of things.” She said, “As far as the course of history goes this world isn’t that different from ours.”

Whatever that meant, it was enough to get Archon to drop the issue. Then both humans turned towards him, asking a lot of questions about his past, his village, his interests. Charlie especially was paying attention to every little detail, and nodding to herself, as if confirming something to herself.

“Come on,” she said as the impromptu questionnaire winded down. “We need to get you prepared for your homeward trip.” while trying to grab him to follow, fails, and almost fell upon herself, much to the amusement of everyone present.

....

“Come on, you have to take a couple of these”. Charlie said as she put another delicate little box of sweets into the shopping basket. Meanwhile Fenrir has already begun to wonder how much all this will cost.

The two of them, Charlie and Fenrir, were at the Lost human’s district, specifically a stripe of it known as Merchant Street. The style of the majority of the shops, unlike that of the restaurants, were radically different. Charlie sees them as rather ‘quaint’ while Fenrir privately thought they look opulent, even mildly aristoricatic. The large windows (with large glass panes!), the wealth of decorative protrusions, the abundance of what most would be considered ‘frills’.

“The glass industry is one of biggest booming industry nowadays.” Charlie casually mentioned as she noticed Fenrir taking in the view at the sheer amount of glass being used for what it appears to be pedestrian purposes. “Windows, greenhouses, telescopes, dining ware, all kinds of goodies. The appetite for glass is simply massive. Kinda wish Kay was around sometime back, she would have seen this coming a mile away given that economics was her thing… ah here we are.”

She led him into a shop with a large, flamboyant sign (as if all the shops’ signs weren’t like that already) declaring it to be a shop specializing in the selling of sweets. Fenrir briefly wondered how there could be enough people to even warrant an entire store. Once inside his questions only deepen, along with his disbelief, as he laid eyes upon the rows after rows of sweets of all kinds on display… and the prices attached.

He sucked in his breath, there can’t be enough aristocrats on both sides of the borders to even begin to patron such a place like this. Predictably Charlie noticed that, she was staring at his every reaction after all.

“Kay told me you’ll make that face.” She said, not with a smug but with empathy on her face. “We isekais aren’t all about advancing the means of killings and destruction. Despite everything, we are living in an era of prosperity. Coming soon to a place near you.” She added the last bit hastily. “But enough of the musing, pick out something you think your folks back home will like.”

As Fenrir simply stood and trying to process the bewildering display of sweets that as late as a short time ago he had only read about in some of the tomes that Archon and Klunk has on loan from the library. Charlie begin to pick up one of those wicker baskets by the front door, and begin to pick some of them…



“This is all very expensive.” Fenrir said, finally tearing his eyes away from all the displays. “I can’t afford all that.” ‘or even a couple of those small boxes.’ He thought to himself.

“No, not on that salary from that perpetually underfunded bureau.” Charlie chuckled, “Don’t worry about any costs, I own you this much for nabbing Kay. Not to mention it will bring me much joy to know that for many people it will be the first time they will taste luxuries that will etch into their memories for the rest of their lives.”

“But why are you so interested in the affairs of… some random village?”

“Well, I don’t have much contact with the rest of the country outside of this city.” She shrugged, “and I don’t know where to start, or have the time.” For the first time a hint of weariness in her voice. “Besides, unlike Kay, I prefer to avoid the so called great outdoors.”

Fenrir didn’t reply to that, it appears that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the lives of the Lost humans. Then again, watching city life up close and personal has managed to lower his opinion of the urban landscape even more than what he previously could have considered possible. Though for all that many of the inhabitants still thoroughly enjoy living in such a place.
Thus, it would a welcome change to return to the place he’s far more comfortable with. Which come to think of it, brings up another problem.

“Your generosity aside, I can’t possibly carry all these wonderful goods all the way back.” Fenrir said while Charlie was already paying for the, now baskets, of sweets at the counter.

“No need to worry about that either,” Charlie brushed off quickly, “We, well really mostly Kay, has made arraignments taking that into account. Come on, we have plenty more shopping to do.”

Fenrir wondered how much that would be.

------

And so here he is, sitting in one of the supply wagons as the soldiers of the newly formed ‘Revanchist’ regiment, a term that as Charlie explained, means ‘butthurt’. One of the first regiments composed entirely of humans, mainly made up of refugees from the other side of the border and their descendants, they are highly motivated to serve their adopted land… and in the eyes of the government, they’re also very expendable. After all, they’re only native humans. Unsurprisingly the general staff decided that Kay would be the prefect commander to lead this group, if only because news of her capture from the humans side didn’t spread much, the bureau being lazy and overworked while the military and State Intelligence have their own agenda…

After all, if worst comes to worst general Mung could always claim that he was just arming rival factions of humans in yet another round of civil wars that they have a propensity for doing when they’re not attempting to exterminate the orcs. Though what would happen to Kay if she got (re)captured by the human nations is something best not to dwell on too much.

As for why they’re now marching in the general direction that will considencially take Fenrir to his home village? According to Kay general Mung and major Ekim has agreed that it would be the perfect place, as the region is heavily infected with hordes of wild boars, while being far away from the capital. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ was what Ekim allegedly said, it almost sounds reasonable. Fenrir knew better, and he’s truly thankful for all the things that particular pair of Lost humans has showered on him, even if he sometimes wonder why.

The wagon has finally come to a halt, and as Fenrir peered out he saw a rather familiar sight. For all the technological and social changes that swept through the orcish lands most of that appeared to have passed on the village of Hashville, or not reached this little corner yet.

That is not to say that Hashville is alike to the majority of the villages on both sides of the border, there are a few small but noticeable differences in comparison to those in the human kingdoms. For one, the bulk of the houses are primarily composed of timber, rather than the cheaper wattle and daub. A thick palisade wall of heavy logs, mainly to keep out some of the more dangerous wildlife, surrounds the entirety of the village. There were no religious buildings to be found either, as the local religions, which the Lost humans among them made no effort to displace, being various flavors of animism. In a sense all of the world around is a temple onto itself (in theory, in practice, faith of all kinds has been on the decline, and who can blame them when the most powerful magic in the world tend to be in the hands of murderhobos, rapey scumbags, and worse horrors?).

A village like Hashville rarely receive much in the way of visitors, and pretty soon a large crowd has gathered around him and his little mountain of luggage. As the supply wagon has already left to rejoin the rest of the regiment Fenrir decided that the village square is as good as any place to hand out the gifts from the city.

Charlie was right, it was such a sight to see children and even adults’ eyes lit up as he hands out sweets to his old community (was it almost a year since he last saw them? Time sure passes quickly). Family (for better or worse), friends (the few there were), and even minor acquaintances all gathered to marval and enjoy such simple wonders as milk candy, chocolate, puff pastries, canned fruits and tinned meats (even though nobody has thought of buying a can opener, but a knife will do just fine), exoitc spices… and the shoes, even though merely made out of paper and cloth (they're cheap and light) those who he give a pair held them with the greatest care. He was taken back by how much those things meant to people who for their entire lives have never gone more than a dozen kilometers from their home. Half a year of city living must have made him softer than he expected.

All in all, it’s nice to be able to bring such joy (even if with quite a bit of help) to so many as he and the village heads off to the town hall (one of the few large buildings in the village) to celebrate.
 
TLB-ch15

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#15
Chapter 15: Field training of the butthurt​

Apparently Kay and the rest wasn’t kidding about the supposed training of the troops, as a few days later Fenrir and some of the wardens of Hashville were ask to observe the training of the regiment. Seems the military is holding onto their stupid cover story rather tightly.

At the crack of dawn the group of locals (and one partly ex-local by this point) made their way to where the human soldiers are camped in the silent and ghostly fashion, basically how they always go about in these woods; it’s a bad idea to draw any attention to oneself, for predators are not the only dangers around. It wasn’t too difficult to find their way to the human encampment, as the noises could be heard for kilometers away. It’s not a point against them by any means, military camps of all nations and races tend to be ungodly noisy, the inevitable result of putting large numbers of people and animals in a rather small enclosed space which one has to first hack out of the wilds.

Soon enough the little group made their way near the encampment, and the sight greeted them was far from impressive. Far used to their own kind, the masses of humans looks more like a herd of piglets; mildly adorable, but mostly harmless. What’s more unforgivable was that they were still unseen by the sentries that were posted at the perimeter of the camp.

“Well, it’s not like we expected anything different.” Fenrir muttered to the rest as he stood up and made himself known.

One of the sentries finally noticed him by this point, and a squeal came out of his mouth. The comparison to piglets is more valid than it first sounds. To his credit he managed to lift his longarm pretty quickly, despite his otherwise unpreparedness.

“Gonna be talking about that later.” Fenrir muttered, more to himself than anything else as the little band of orcs (as the rest of them have now also risen up) strolled through into the camp.

On closer look the situation doesn’t not appear to be as dire as first assessment, if only just. The men, and the vast majority of them are males as far as Fenrir could tell, seems to be shivering, despite what appears to be a decent amount of clothing.

“Oh that,” Kay said, as suddenly appearing next to Fenrir as the latter did to the hapless sentry much the his annoyance, and already reading his expressions, “It takes a while to get everyone used to bathing in the river every morning.”

So this is what the face of evil looks like. “I didn’t see you as the sadistic type.” He quipped half absentmindedly, while looking at the human soldiers in a slightly new light. They’re tougher than he thought, most things that thin tend to not do all that well in waters that cold.

“It’s good way to toughen up people, or so that’s the gist I got from searching on the internet back in the day.” she said with a shrug,

“The what?”

“Something your distant descendents might get to use and then take for granted, if everything goes well.” She shrugged again, “We should get things started.” she motioned to a number of other figures standing around, presumably the officers of the regiment.

After a while of delibrations with the various officers of the regiment, it was decided upon for individual wardens to shadow various platoons as they go out for ‘boar hunting’ exercises. A first hand look at how well, or far more likely, badly, things are going.

And things were going rather badly, as Fenrir soon found out. The troopers, most likely city dwellers, stomp through the snow covered ground as if milling around in the city marketplace, brushing into and breaking off branches left and right. It was trivially easy for Fenrir to sneak off and appear at will, sparking them into panic, although after the third time in as many hours when one of the troopers, in panic, fired off a shot (which, thankfully but also not surprisingly, went wild) that he stopped the practice ambushes. Their other qualities were also not very good, and it became all to obvious that they are very new at the whole ‘soldiering’ thing.

At the end of the first day when all the groups came back to the camp it was obvious from the faces of his compatriots that the rest of the regiments were just as new. However, if nothing else they seems to be rather good at making camp and the associated activities, which is very unlike the human armies on the other side of the border who seems to disdain such mundane yet critical matters. Not all is lost it seems, for reasons unknown it’s much easier to make civilians into soldiers than warriors into soldiers, especially with the introduction firearms, or so the experts say. What do those shut-ins know anything outside of the written word anyways?

------

It was another morning about a week later that Fenrir found out a bit more about these humans, and the human population in general within the country.

“Well, things could have been better, but for the most part they’re not as bad as I first assumed.” Fenrir admitted, as he, Kay, and a few others huddled around a campfire.

“Indeed, given we really had only a few weeks to round up enough people. Of course some compromises were made.”

“Eh,well if that’s the case then they’re pretty okay.” Fenrir said, doing his best to not disparage on these raw human recruits. “At least they’re better at this soldiering thing than the other guys at the bureau.”

‘Yes, indeed. Hatred, unfortunately, is quite a motivator.” Kay sighed.

“What?” The air suddenly went a few degrees colder, as if that was possible.

“I don’t think you, really any of you, understand the amount of hatred we have against those… shall we say, ‘self styled heroes’?” Her face hardened, her eyes narrowed.

“We have quite a few reasons to hate them.”

“We have those, and more. Things are even uglier under the hood.”

Not all of them wear- Oh, I see, another one of those terms from your world.”

“It’ll be a long while before this world is ready for non-animal powered wagons.” For a brief moment she was once again looking at somewhere far away. “But that’s not the point at hand.”

“I should probably ask, but do I even want to know? Sounds more like something for the other guys.”

“They do know it, as are most of the leadership in government and military. The only question has been a matter of… what was it? Charlie mentioned something to do with many of us Lost humans don’t really have the stomach for imperialism.”

“What?”

“We might not have come from a more civilized place, but it was, for most of us, a gentler place, false as that may have been.” She sighed, briefly reminiscing about her past life again, “But what is needed now is to do the thing that history will condemn us for, because their future prosperity depends on us building this mountain of skulls and hypocrisy.”

“Not exactly uplifting stuff you’re talking about here.” Fenrir mused, if a bit disturbed at the prospect of committing horrors soon enough.

“Oh shit. I’m sorry, I was being racist.” Kay quickly apologized, much to the confusion of the orcs present. Fenrir shrugged, probably some weird shit only the rest of the Lost bureau would recognize.

-----

A few weeks later Fenrir did managed to witnessed the one of the first times one of the platoons took out a herd of boars. It was a pretty good performance all things considered, the platoon having split into individual squads to herd the boars in, then poured concentrated fire onto them. A rather brutish way of doing things but it gets the job done, even if it makes it a bit more pain in the ass for the skinning and cutting of the animals.

They are well on their way to becoming tolerable soldiers.

Later that day he and that platoon made their way into the village. It was decided for the soldiers to get an understanding of what they will most likely see when they are in the territory of the human kingdom. Reactions tend to be very mixed, it was easy to tell who are the natives of this world and who are the ‘fresher’ Lost humans, since the latter are still not exactly used to the lack of technologies that they were used to in their previous lives. To prevent Hashville from being overwhelmed it was decided to only admit one platoon at a time.

It was also a good time for a bit of cultural exchange, although as both parties found out soon they have more in common, contrary to what common fictions of both worlds would suggest. By night time everything has settled down rather well.



Fenrir first felt, rather than saw or heard, the fireball that destroyed part of the palisade wall, and even before the fire receded he was off the bed. Grabbing a pair of pants and a hatchet, he raced out the door.

He ran out into a scene of chaos. An entire section of the palisade wall, some three meters of it, has been blown cleanly off. The buildings nearest to them are busily burning, a few bodies already sprawled near them, and it did not look like they were killed by the blast...

He looked more, and saw a number of shadowy figures going about, one of which was in the mist of stabbing a child through the chest, while another was aiming a crossbow at one of the fleeing figures.

Needless to say the entire village is in chaos as dozens of people, in various state of dress running either away, or in the case of the human soldiers and orc wardens, towards the intruders. Fenrir decided quickly, and in a moment closed in the distance to the hooded cold blooded killer.

In hindsight, it was probably not the greatest idea. The hooded person appears to be a human, heavily muscled, wearing full armor (from what little he could see), and decked out in all sorts of weapons. Both lunged at each other, and the human was no slouch, even gaining the upper hand for a moment mainly due to surprise and by virtue of wearing gauntlets. However, soon it became all too apparent that he was rather lacking in actual combat experience, if not also heavily drunk.

That fight was over within a couple of minutes as Fenrir sunk the hatchet into the hooded killer’s neck. As the figure twitches he looks up. Most of the other intruders were also down, some of them in a number of pieces. He just managed to see one of the human soldiers shooting the last of the intruders, who have appeared to have given up on fleeing and was desperately attempting to cast a spell of some sort, in the head with a pistol.

A moment of silence descends on the scene as the soldiers and waderns take stock of the situation, although some of the soldiers seems rather shocked at all of what had just transpired, silence saved for the sound of the fire still burning away.

That was enough to snap everyone out of it, the night is far from over…

……

“As far as anyone could tell, there were six of them, four warriors and two mages.” Kay said, while surveying the destruction the next morning. She arrived at the crack of dawn along with a further platoon of soldiers, to help in the rebuilding as well as give assurance to the villagers that there will be sufficient protection. None of the bodies were in any recognizable shapes except in the broadest sense of the term. The human soldiers had a propensity for putting a shot to the head of every enemy combatant, even those who were already lying on the ground. ‘Just confirmation’ was the reason they give, and given the amount of magic users running around, one could hardly blame them.

“Over a dozen dead, and another half dozen wounded. Almost all of them unarmed civilians” Fenrir shook his head, “Why? What is the point of all this?”

“Murder hobos, they don’t need another reason to kill what they perceived as those beneath them.” Kay spat out the words with contempt, “Thankfully these ones appear to be native humans, or at most Lost humans who drew the short end of the cheat stick. Otherwise most of us would be dead and the village burned to the ground.”

She paused, then continued. “At least the regiment performed well enough. We will be assigning a couple of platoons around the village for the next few weeks to patrol and defend the area, so if you can give the word out to the village, that would help a lot in suppressing potential misunderstandings.”

“Sure thing.” Fenrir nodded. Yes, they did performed well enough.

------

By the time Hibernation season ended the Revanchist regiment has become, in the eyes of its commanders, reasonable will trained and slightly blooded. They came out of the woods of Hashville draped in the furs of countless boars, and a few even grabbed a souvenir or two from Those unfortunate murderhobos whose adventure pillaging and slaughtering abruptly truncated at a certain otherwise unremarkable village.
 
TLB-ch16

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#16
Chapter 16: Wish fulfillment of the depraved​

“This can’t be correct.” Archon muttered, more to himself than anything else. He and Klunk were in the bureau house combing through various archival tomes, checking for consistency and continuity among other minor but necessary things. Charlie was also there, being a mild annoyance as usual. However she brought some hot chocolate, which is certainly a comforting boon in these cold days of Hibernation, so all it evens out for the most part.

“Generations of bureaucrats can’t be all collectively wrong on the same thing in the same way.” Klunk quipped, also rather tired. The two have been working for most of the day, and both were rather ragged by this point.

“Actually, it’s perfectly possible for an institution to screw up continuously, each successor assuming the previous lot knew what they were doing.” Charlie wanders into the discussion. A self appointed, if sometimes unwanted, adviser to the bureau so to speak. “What’s going on in this case?”

“It’s about the Lost humans, as in how is it possible that almost only females end up on our side of the border?” Archon shook his head, “Not that I’m disparaging your gender or anything like that of course.” He quickly added, realizing how horrible that sounds.

“No offense taken.” Charlie replied, as if this wasn’t the first time she heard something along those lines. “Your first mistake is assuming that the gods of this universe is remotely just, and your second mistake is assuming that those behind all of this are anything near omnipotent or omniscient.”

“What?” Klunk said flatly, trying to comprehend the latest shocking revelation that probably wasn’t supposed to be such, but is due to the slapdash nature of their induction into the job.

Charlie facepalmed, as she does a lot when around the bureau these days. “This is why we been badgering the council for years to give a shit about funding an actual bureau.” She muttered. “But enough about that,” she said in a more normal voice, “The long and short of that is that your world, and probably others like it, are basically the dumping grounds for certain types of assholes from our world.”

“But why?” Archon was more than a little pissed off at the prospect that his beloved world, for all of its flaws (and there are a ton of that), is apparently little more than a land for exiles of another realm.

“Fuck if I know, ask Sage Polypo if he finally figured out this.” Charlie doesn’t seem to be any happier at the workings of the universe.

“Wait, you know him?” Klunk asked.

“Yep, and his alcoholism is going to kill him one of these days, so better get on with that quickly.”

“Easier said than done.” Archon said, “But about that whole thing with the kind of people the gods are dumping here…”

“Right, about them.” She sighed. “How much jargon and culture from our world do you guys know?”

“Um… enough to shock Kay back when we first captured her.” Archon said.

“Anything else beside the usual first contact spew?”

“We’re working on that” Klunk answered without much confidence, the white lie of those who are always somewhat behind on their work.

Charlie sighed. “Well, make yourselves comfortable, this will take a bit of time…”

……

“The world where we, what you called the ‘Lost humans’ came from,” She begin, “is a world mostly devoid of the capability to utilize magic.”

“Hang on, how would you be able to know this?” Klunk asked, not unreasonably. “About that magic part.”

“Picked off the internet, where apparently some dragon from probably your world claimed that her half-dragon daughter and her girlfriend accidently used a spell got themselves to another world. I think it was on some creepypasta site.”

She paused, looking at the disbelieving faces of the two orcs. “In our defense, we, Kay and I, were drunk at the time and thought it would be hilarious to track down the tomes and see if that stuff actually works. Sadly, the instructions are all too workable.”

“Did… did it work?” Klunk asked.

“You really need to ask that?”

“In hindsight, that does sound dumber when I put it in actual words.” He admitted.

“Hang on now, if spells can get people crossing worlds, why didn’t you use the same spell to get back?” Archon asked.

“I tried, I truly did, it didn’t work.” She said, her voice faulting slightly for a moment, “Sage Polypo theorized that the crossing of the worlds in an one way trip, and no returns are possible.”

“Well, that would probably explain the dragon stuck in your world.” Klunk remarked, “But isn’t all this slightly off topic?”

“Yes yes it is,” Charlie agreed, “Back on topic. Our world had a lot of… let’s just say people, mainly males, who are unadjusted to that world. Who felt that the world owe them everything.”

“So… sort of like aristocrat wannabes then.” Klunk said. Charlie sighed, as if his intuition is still a ways away from the truth yet probably was also the best possible one with the given information available.

“Something like that, yes. Except they’re usually even more delusional and depraved.” She confirmed.

“About that depraved part…” Archon began to ask.

“In a world where parts of it was finally on its way to shed the horrors of the past, they were running full speed towards the opposite direction.” She paused. “Yet for some godforsaken reason whatever deity or deities from your universe decide to import them en masse.”

“Wait a minute, how do you know know that, the part about the deities?” Klunk asked.

“Once again, Sage Polypo’s theory, though in our universe it’s also a rather common cliche.”

“Cliche? There’s fictions of these kinds of things in your universe.” Archon asked.

“Yep, an entire genre dedicated to throwing people with bullshit powers into other worlds, where do you think the term ‘isekai’ and ‘SI’ came from?”

“Foreign languages?” Klunk too a stab.

“That was a rhetorical question.” Charlie facepalmed. “Could I get at least a paragraph of explanation before one of you butted in?”

“Sorry.” Both looked a bit sheepish.

“Where was I… yes, and then they were dumped here by the wagonful and given ridiculous powers to enact out their depraved fantasies. Needless to say not good for any of the natives of this world, whatever some of their religious and political leadership may have thought at the time.” She paused, “It quickly became apparent that the majority of the people dumped are males, and the few females who got caught up with it tend to be acquire much weaker powers.”

“Hang on, Kay’s power is pretty nifty.” Archon spoke up.

“You’ll also notice that neither of us got here by the summoning of others, and to be honest Kay’s powers, even the one she didn’t bother to tell you guys about, isn’t all that great.”

“Wait, what?” Klunk asked.

“We’ll get to that when the time comes. Now back to the story. Politics might grow out of the barrel of a gun, and abilities like mind control, enslaving eyes, and the ever popular all conquering dick is a lot more useful than direct combat powers.”

“I didn’t need to hear that one part.” Archon was beginning to look a bit less green than usual.

“Pretty much how Polpyo reacted when he first heard those reports, at least that’s what he said. So it’s no surprise that whatever females stuck in that kind of horrifying situation would want to get the fuck out of there. From the records it appears that the first few who founded what became of orc civilization were actually the left behinds of human subjection parties, usually because they were too wounded or too independent minded, where it was expected that they would end up being raped and enslaved by the barbaric orcs.”

“Hey…”

“In humanity’s defense, at the time no one actually expect orc sexual and relationship mores to be that different. But enough of that.” Charlie seems to be rather in a hurry to change the subject away from that, such a curious group those humans, so interested yet at the same time repulsed by something, so in denial of their nature at times. “And here we are now, where the Lost humans on this side of the border have to rely on wits rather than cheats and the ever present fear that everything we achieved would be wiped out by a single overpowered asshole.”

“Oh.” The room settled into a heavy silence. It was all pretty hard to take in. The sheer magnitude of the threats facing them and their country and the insignificance of themselves is rather a rude awakening. Archon was the first to speak up again.

“How come you know all of this?”

“I been advising this bureau for a while now, way before you guys.” She answered, “and I always loved history and the study of. Not to mention my own cheat powers…”

“And they are…” Klunk asked.

“Leave that for another time. You guys have enough information to stew around for a while.”

"One last question," Archon asked quickly, "You still haven't answered the purposes behind all of this, why the gods would rain down such people."

"That's because no one really knows." Charlie said quickly, "and that's the really scary thing."
 
TLB-side story

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#17
Side story 1: Re-domestication working as intended​

‘This is way too easy.’ Scott thought to himself as he silently climbed over the picket fence of the estate that is his current target.

This entire job so far has been practically a walk in the gardens. The border between the humans and orcs is more leaky than a wicker basket, and the so called orc rangers seems to be utterly fooled by his top notch disguises, not to mention they seems more concerned with hunting than their actual jobs. The target itself, supposedly the manor house of a orc nob, was oddly disappointing; little better than an oversized country lodge, picket fence (though that felt closer to a palisade) and all.

‘About as pathetic as I figured.’ He muttered to himself. Their pathetic attempt at aping real civilization is laughable, as was expected of those dirt grubbing and elf raping orcs. Where the hell are they gonna get real materials to make true civilization, or the knowledge that their animal brains are incapable of handling?

As he steps away from the fence and into the yard he made a cursory look around, what greet him was just as pathetic as his first impression, with little vegetable gardens, of which lies fallow due to this being still a bit aways from spring, a couple of odd wooden shacks, and dirt path leading to the house itself. The whole scene is only lit by the moonlight, as there was no light coming within the house itself.

‘Probably don’t even have any lighting more advanced than a candle.’ He thought to himself, ‘All this is probably built and maintained by human slave labor, perhaps some of them are still living in their, chained by the green savages that do unspeakable things to them. He looked at the darken house again. Perhaps he could even ambush the orc in his sleep, then free the slaves. Quickly his mind was lost in the fantasy of what those enslaved humans would be like, and the rewards of a personal nature he would get for liberating them.

He was still deeply in his rapidly becoming lewd fantasy when a pair of six inch tusks plowed into his stomach, and his world soon turned red, then black, and then the afterlife, but that’s neither here nor there.

------

“Ah shit. Here we go again.” Major Ekim muttered to himself as he stumbled out the door, oil lantern in one hand while the other still wiping the sleep from his eyes, years as an officer has made him soft. That rucks probably woke up everyone and everything for kilometers around. Boar attacks were not known for being quiet affairs, even if their victims didn’t have a chance to respond.

It was better this time, at least the fence was in one piece, same could not be said for the garden, luckily there wasn’t anything important growing there, probably. Smithfield was rather proud of himself, and why not, for once again he bravely protected his master’s home and hearth.

There also wasn’t much in the way of whatever that attempted to break into the house, either in body or accessories, although a few bits of cloth and what appears to be a dagger and other thin bits of metal suggests a thief of some kind (the various bloody chunks that might have once been a body wasn’t too useful besides identifying it as a human). Probably one of those humans from the other side of the border, who almost all believed that they are merely reacquiring what rightfully belongs to real humans. He shook his head, just the boneheaded arrogance and bravado that gets what is yet probably another young human killed. Such is the cruelty of life, at least in this world.

He went over and petted Smithfield’s head, “It’s okay now, the bad guy is dead. You can go back to sleep.” He said, in a gentle voice that would have surprised a few, like those two idiots at the Lost bureau.

“Is everything alright?” A human female voice came from the house.

“Yes my love, everything is fine now.” He replied. “Smithfield has taken care of the danger.”

Sometimes he still wondered how it all came to be. Him marrying a human. It almost certainly wasn’t for physical attraction, as both of them were mostly normal in the head by all indicators, and according to sages of all stripes the two races find each other... physically unattractive at best. It certainly wasn’t family arraignments, as his father, that colossal hypocrite, was adamant against him marrying someone who cannot prove her family line, and her father is an universe away.

In the end, it probably came down to character. She was bright, hardworking, shrewd, and so much more. And him? It’s still a mystery of which the other side is keeping close to her heart.

He walked back towards the house. “I really think we should move back to the city.”

“We been over this before, this is still the safer of the two choices.”

And it was, even with these random intrusions, this was safer than the cities, where police is a concept that the city council is still in the process of figuring out, and the crowding makes it ripe for waves of plagues that seems to awash cities every summer. Besides, land is pretty much free out here, sometimes the price being in the negatives as the government and certain wealthy Lost humans pours money into civilizing the place, looking into the far future.

He never really got a straight answer as to why she chose to give up her prestigious job and come to this wilderness to become what almost amounts to a housewife, as if admitting that would harm her standing among the Lost Human community. But she quickly became much more than that, for her various skills, some she was not able to use in her old job, quickly made her the teacher and healer for the nearby village. For all intents and purposes, she has become a shepherd to a flock, leading them to civilization. Okay, maybe he’s buttering up a bit too much there, but that’s what being in love does to one.

“But who will protect you when I head off to war again?” He asked.

“Smithfield seems to be doing rather well on the whole guarding thing.” She half jokingly said, looking at Smithfield, who was already making his way back to his little shack.

When he first brought Smithfield, then a mere boarlet from a local warden (who incidentally has killed the rest of that pack, but pick that particular one up in a moment of pity) she was absolutely against keeping him, and he couldn’t blame her. Boars are hard to train at the best of times, and when fully grown even the strongest of the orcs would be some form of weapons to keep them at bay, never mind a mere human. They’re also large eaters and rather rough around the edges.

In the end they compromised, they keep the boar, she gets to name him. It wasn’t until much later that he found out that she had named him after a type of ham from her universe. Despite, or perhaps because of that, Smithfield grew up to be rather well adjusted, fiercely loyal if a bit overprotective at times.

He took one last look at the yard before closing the door, the mess can wait until morning. The bed and rest beckons.
 
TLB-ch17

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#18
Chapter 17: Planning for role reversal​

“Good grief, there’s even more people decked out in tasteless bling.” Archon remarked at the assembled military and political figures. Hibernation season was coming to an end, and the military has finally secured the necessary political capital to launch the invasion that they have fantasized for years.

Unfortunately, such was the depth of their fantasizing, and the remoteness of any actual realization for the longest time, that when they were finally given what they dearly wanted they found themselves unable to do much about it.

And so it came to be that the Axeon Union, or rather mainly the military and the intelligence of the Union, asked their counterparts in their fellow orc nation and sometimes dangerous neighbor; The Republic of Mundock, which despite its name is about as far as a republic one could get without becoming a hereditary monarchy, being what later pop-historians could charitably called a ‘hyper-militant-junta’ despite some of the concepts necessary for such a construct won’t come into existence for decades.

Regardless, they were still fellow orcs, and the cultures and histories between the two nations were rather similar, from significant numbers of Lost human in their citizenries to, more importantly, their common threat by the human kingdoms.

“War is much like peacock mating, it’s all about strutting around those fancy colors.” Klunk agreed. There was so many delegates, flunkies, and other riffraffs that the usual basement conference room of the stone loaves was no longer adequate, being far too small. Instead the main banquet hall on the second floor was hastily converted into a meeting place. Even now, still some time before the conference was to officially begin, the room was already feeling rather stuffy, and more people were coming in by the minute.

“And as usual, the most dangerous ones are the ones who don’t make an effort to impress.” Archon said, while staring at a human female in a rather well worn but oddly unadorned field uniform who was busily chatting with Kay and Charlie, the latter who managed to bluff her way into the conference by implying that she was part of the bureau. Back to the other female, her physical features, like the vast majority of humans in this world, would be by their standards be ‘beautiful’, that is, if it wasn’t for the massive scars on the left side of her face. The claw marks of someone who has been ‘touched by dragons’.

“Is she who I think she is?” Klunk squinted.

“While I can’t read your mind, she is who you think she is.” Denhardt glide stealthy next to Archon and Klunk, spooking them for a brief moment. “Yes, that is Commander Nora Buttons, more infamously known as the dragon slayer. A most dangerous fighter and soldier.” He smiled, “But don’t fret too much, most of legend surrounding her is made up wholecloth, she doesn't even like to be called that.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not state secrets I’m talking about here you know, maybe you guys should read stuff besides ancient tomes and third rate tabloids.” Denhardt scoffed, “She didn’t even get those scars from this world.”

“What?” For the two, things have only gotten more confusing, and then something clicked in Archon’s mind. “Let me guess, her friend is a half dragon?”

“Well there might be hope for you guys after all.” Denhardt said without skipping a beat, smoothly hiding his mild surprise that Archon wasn’t horribly behind on everything for once. He gestured towards the three ladies, of which Charlie was already waving at them, “I think they want you to join their little conversation.” He said as he turns around and headed off towards another group.

Before they could could make their way towards the humans, the main doors opened and came in the gaggle of military officers with the most encrusted gold braid and medals yet. Even before the announcement by the sergeant at arms it was pretty obvious that the meeting has begun.

------

There was always something magical about the plotting and announcing of the grand plans in a large, crowded, and badly ventilated room full of larger than life personalities and egos. Needless to say for most of the day nothing of note got accomplished except for much shouting and the only thing agreed upon was that all the annoying details, which, is pretty much everything, will be hashed out in the coming days. Then they were all practically shoved out of the room as there’s the need to rearrange the room for the banquet for the night. Thus it came to be that a large number of military (and a couple of civilian and other) people end up milling around in the halls and other rooms, where the real planning begins…

------

“Cheers!” Charlie shouted as the group composed of the three humans, two orcs of the Lost Bureau, and Denhardt gathered in a small and austerely furnished room. Somehow she managed to acquire a bottle of lemon flavored soda, of which the humans were drinking enthusiastically while the Denhardt was staring at his glass as if the bubbling drink was about to physically attack him.

“This is certainly good news worthy of celebration.” Archon agreed. It was a surprise, though in hindsight completely expected development that the Lost humans in both countries have their own covert organizations to ferry out those of their kindred ones who does not want to be the satellite harem mates of some egotistical douchebag. It was also obvious in hindsight that said organization would grow into their own intelligence apparatus and black market trade organizations, because apparently delity like powers are still not complete substitutes for convenience and luxury products like toilet paper and tropical fruits.

Still, it is rather surprising that something as important as joint cooperation of all these organizations was agreed upon in a random room with a bunch of handshakes made by people who aren’t even dressed up enough.

“Of course the official signings will be done at an appropriate time and place, with the pomp that is expected of these events.” Nora said, reading the slightly worried faces of Archon and Denhardt. “And let’s be honest similar things are being hashed out all across this building, and the grounds outside for that matter, and will continue to be the case for the next few days.”

“Hang on a minute,” Denhardt sudden remembered something, “Where’s my counterpart from the Republic?”

“Oh, yeah, I’ll brief her on that later tonight,” Nora said casually, “Right now she’s probably coordinating some convoluted kidnapping scheme even as we speak.”

“What?” Klunk asked flatly.

“A lot of stuff that the likes of us do happens in the shadows, most of which are not pleasant to look at.” Denhardt answered, each word as if it was pulled out of his mouth.

“On the bright side, now you guys can join in on the fun.” Kay said cheerfully, which absolutely did not improve Klunk’s mood by one bit.

------

By the end of the conference weeks later an overarching invasion plan was hashed out, its simplicity made the amount of effort reaching it almost a farce.

Then plan simply relied heavily on the human kingdoms’ militaries’ thirst for glory on the field of battle and their bloodlust in killing lots of mooks, while taking advantage of deep strategic planning and goal setting of their own side. The first phase of the plan involving mobilizing large numbers of regiments… without their usual ad hoc logistical supply train, thus making their posture inherently defensive, but the enemy doesn’t need to know that, and probably won’t recognize it even if it bit them in the arse. When the isekai (seems that term was more popular in the Republic than in the Union, at least as far as using it to label the human armies on the other side of the border) led armies commit in what certainly will most likely end up in a series of meat grinder battles (Nora called it the ‘dick grinder’ stage, much to the discomfort of almost everyone else at the conference), a number of specially trained fast strike forces composed entirely of newly raised dragoon units (of which Major Ekim pointed out correctly that the Union military had no combat experience in, it was shrugged off with “Just wing it” and other platitudes of that effect) with extra logistical train to slice through the land and aim for the enemy capital, a mad dash for the jugular vein. Meanwhile Commander Kay and the Revanchist regiment was to infiltrate over the border before the actual conflict was to begin, and do whatever at her discretion, quite frankly because General Mung had completely forgotten about them.

Nothing could possibly go wrong with this plan. After all, confidence has to start somewhere.
 
TLB-ch18

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#19
Chapter 18: To acquire a quisling, part 1​

“This is a terrible plan.” Fenrir remarked.

The group of them, composed of Charlie, Fenrir, and Denhardt, were on their way to the Kingdom of the Lion as a merchant and her mostly mute and surprisingly well armored bodyguards. After all, can’t have them humans be seeing their orc faces or bodies, and besides, sallets are totally stylish.

Officially trade between the human and orc lands does not exist, for there is nothing the civilized humans and their otherworldly heroes need from barbaric savages while the orcs weren’t gonna conduct trade with people who refuse to acknowledge their property rights, or even their sapient rights. Then again, the concepts of rights and the rule of law doesn’t really exists in the human kingdoms, where might (often in the form of deity given cheats) tend to be the order of the day.

Unofficially there’s a lively stream of trade of the under the table type occurring between the nations, brought upon by the stark divide between the types of Lost humans on each side of the border. Exterminating monsters, fighting wars, and pursuing harem shenanigans was entertaining and all, but does little to alleviate the crushing existence of subsistence farming that the majority of the population lives in. More importantly, that kind of economy doesn’t produce a lot of the luxury conveniences that many of those Lost humans were used to from their previous lives. As the orcs started to have an actual civilization (even if unacknowledged by the human nations) and taken their first steps to go beyond subsistence farming they (and their Lost humans) have pursued the little things in life, things like tropical fruits and massed produced toilet paper.

Thus the flow of trade formed in which luxury products such as lemons, refined sugar, and toilet paper flowed into the human lands and ores (often hacked out of the mountains by slaves and convicts), mana crystals, sometimes actual slaves trickle into the orc lands, and a lot of IOUs backed up by the honor of nobility that’s probably not worth the paper they’re written on.

Blood for trinkets indeed.

“You are the last person I want to hear that from.” Charlie replied, with a smile that does nothing to all to alleviate the orcs’ concerns. “Besides, if your plan back then succeed, this might just work too.”

“I have to second Fenrir here.” Denhardt spoke up. “This plan really relies on what the tomes would charitably called ‘plot armor’.”

“Since when did you read those cliche archives?”

“Since when I got roped into this insanity.”

“Perhaps I should have done the same.” Fenrir said, starting to regret his prior disdain towards those Archon and Klunk’s studying of the old tomes.

“Don’t be,” Charlie spoke up, “I intentionally excluded those two because being savvy about cliches will get everyone killed faster in situations like this, and besides,” she paused, “those tomes are so cringy that I’m surprised that Denhardt haven’t ripped out his eyeballs yet.”

“They grew back quickly enough.” Denhardt said, completely deadpan. Charlie stared at him for almost half a minute before he led out a chuckle. “Just kidding, eyes are not like back up hearts.” The staring didn’t break. “We have some back up internal organs you know?” He said, slightly concerned at the amount of ignorance a Lost human managed to display despite living for years in the orc lands.

It was a simply plan, with a simple goal. Go in, grab a princess, get the heck out of there before General Mung’s dragoons start besieging the capital city, and after the dust settles set her up as the quisling administrator of the newly conquered lands.

Just ignore the minor problems such as how to smuggle two orcs into a city where they’re liable to be executed on sight.

“Well here we are.” Charlie announced as the towering spirals of the palace could be seen in the distance. “Just let me do the talking.”

Far before they even reached the outer gates they were already passing the slums, and the rampant display of poverty and suffering would have shocked them if it weren’t for the fact that all of them have seen, read, or experience those conditions at one point or another. Still a cruel reminder of the sea of mud beneath the thin facade of shiny nobility at the top.

As they reached a gate of the outer wars they were stopped by a guard, asking for papers. Charlie duly handed him a number of well worn official looking documents… and more discreetly a pack of crystal sugar. The guard was about to wave them through when he noticed something.

“Say, those two seems oddly quiet.” He remarked, pointing at Fenrir and Denhardt.

“They’re not being paid to talk, they’re being paid to protect my fragile self.” Charlie replied half jokingly. She then lowered her voice and continued, “You see, the guy there?” she pointed towards Fenrir, “He was raised by a herd of boars from birth. Never learned how to talk. He’s rather easily provoked. And that other guy?” She points at Denhardt, “He was captured by the orcs a decade ago. They tore out his tongue and sodomized him with a spiked club. He had to escape by biting the neck out of an orc. I wouldn’t mess with either of them if I were you.”

The guard was suitably impressed, or intimidated. Regardless he quickly waved them on and soon they were fast going into the bustle of the city.

“Where did that came from?” Denhardt risked a question when he was certain they were out of earshot of anyone who heard that little story.

“One time A long time ago Kay thought it was funny to have me watch some hentai, I returned the favor by forcing her to read For my Legionaries.“

“What’s that?”

“Wanna read it for yourself?”

“Sure…” Denhardt seems less than enthusiastic about it, but then if everything goes according to plan he would have quite a bit of free time in the coming days...
 
TLB-ch19

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#20
Chapter 19: Battle of the frontiers​

It didn’t take long for the human armies to take the bait.

Not that the orcs made any effort to hide their activities. On the contrary, there was a lot of fanfare as regiment after regiment assembled at the border. Lots of flag waving, music playing (rather badly by the various regimental bands, but it’s the spirit that counts), excessive drinking and roughhousing, all the usual. At least in the popular perception of how armies at this tech level is supposed to behave.

They weren’t going anywhere fast though, there weren’t hordes of pigs milling around, nor anywhere enough wagons for any kind of long distance intrusions. None of that matters though as the study of logistics is for the peasants to figure it out (with the price of failure being all too brutal) as far as the human armies are concerned.

As so the battle begin on a bright and sunny day in which the 4th army (composed of five regiments thrown together a few weeks prior, though two of them were from neighboring villages) faces off against what intelligence estimated (little better than blind guessing) was around 20,000 human soldiers, including hundreds of noble knights and over three dozen Lost human warriors. In fact the battle was supposed to start the day before but a torrential downpour managed to keep both armies in their respective camps. For the humans it was because fighting in the rain is uncomfortable, muddy, and hardily glorious to slaughter savages in while for the orcs the rain makes gunpowder weapons mostly inoperable.

…...

“Here they come.” Klunk muttered mainly to himself as he watched with a monoscope from a hilltop the human knights charging after the skirmishers, who after firing their initial volleys were retreating in good order… leading the knights right to a place whose only importance is that it was marked on some map.

Specifically the map of the artillery battery, which is in the hands of the captain as they both watch in scene in front of them unfolding. Klunk being there mainly as an outside advisor, as far as identifying Lost humans are concerned. By this point the troopers of the battery knew more about the rockets than he does.

It is hardly worthy of such a designation, being a number of wooden racks with a bunch of weird looking iron cylinders laid on them, while a few dozen orcs sitting around and twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the signal.

“Battery, stand by to fire.” The captain of the battery shouted. The orcs assembled quickly to their positions.

“Hang on a minute...” Klunk said. Something oddly off.

“Whatever, fire away!” In battle, even ones without convenient technologies like telecommunications, certain decisions have to be made on the fly.

It was a majestic sight as the rockets streaked in high curves, screeching like the damned as they fly towards their targets. As they fell that particular patch of ground simply disappear in a cloud of dust and fire. A cheer went up in the battery as the cream of the human army was in one fell swoop erased from the mortal coil.

And then a fireball hit the rocket racks, even before the cheering of the crew had died down.

In an instant the the racks were vaporized, and just about everyone thrown a number of meters back. By the looks of some of them (or more accurately, what’s left of them) they weren’t getting back up again. Even before the survivors could get back on their feet a second fireball cashed into the area, this time also cooking off the stored rockets. Of which those that haven’t instantly exploded were now flying merrily away in every direction. Klunk watched in horror as one of the rockets plowed straight into the a trooper, and in the aftermath of that explosion there was preciously little left of the trooper.

As he attempts to get up, he found that he was unable to, looking down on his body, he found a distressing large number of splinters and shrapnel bits embedded in his body, some of them rather deeply. He gave up and laid back down, and as blackness creep up to his consciousness he thought of all the sweets that he will never get to eat now. ‘What a childish thing to think about at these last moments.’ He thought to himself as the world turned black.

------

“Wakey wakey.” A voice said non too softly.

Klunk opened his eyes and took stock of his situation. He certainly wasn’t in the afterlife, as that place would be the insides of a tent, filled with the screams and cries of the wounded. He turned towards the voice who woke him, a doctor. No, a medic. No, wait, actually he might be a doctor, he certainly looks old enough to be such.

“What happened?” It’s a cliched question, but the need for the answers to that is no less pressing.”

“Well, you are missing a couple of organs, but they’ll grow back in a few years. In the meantime you will have to watch your diet. So many people have sabotaged their recovery by fueling their bodies with the wrong things, giving the body a completely wrong idea on its nature state of being. Amazingly, all of your limbs are accounted for, and in a few days you will even get to use some of them. You will probably make a full recovery.”

“Thank you doctor.” Klunk was still in a bit of shock, mainly at how he managed to survive. “Did anyone else from the battery survive?” He asked, suddenly remembering the rest of the guys on that hill.

“About four others I think. That hill was pretty cooked by the time they stopped firing at it.”

‘And of the battle?”

“An acceptable loss, according to whatever dreck headquarters has been saying.” The Doctor shrugged. “The battery being targeted by every support mage also made them very visible for our snipers, and despite having to ceed the battlefield, the humans are fresh out of cheats.”

“So where, exactly, is here?” Klunk dared to ask another question, despite his gut feelings that he won’t like the answer.

“About 20 kilometers back, they weren’t in a position to give chase, which is how we had the time to pick your half dead body in the first place.”

“Thank you.” And Klunk was sincere on that.

“Just doing my job.” The doctor smiled.

------

All across the borders of both the Union and the Republic similar scenes were playing out over dozens of battlefields, as thousands clashed and blood flowed freely. For the most part, the humans were advancing, but every meter paid with blood and mana. Heroes were created and slew by the dozens, the details of which will be all soon to be forgotten by the pages of history, for in the grand scheme of things they were the sideshow.
 
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TLB-ch20

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#21
Chapter 20: To acquire a quisling, part 2​

Charlie was bored.

It wasn’t that surprising, she was never much of a social person even before thrown into another world while completely sloshed. Years of surviving and scheming haven’t done her much favors, nor the reputation and nickname of ‘paper lich’. Lastly, not having Kay around certainly didn’t help.

She was at one of the parties thrown by some member of the local nobility whose name she haven’t bother to catch, not that it matters much since this was rather by the books as far as isekai influenced social events goes: the band playing some what sounds like an imitation of a J-pop dance song, the dresses of the various female guests which run the gauntlet between hyperconservative to the outright lewdelicious, and the little tables of finger foods and drinks, of which she’s currently loafing next too.

It appears whole pre-revolutionary France schtick in which the nobility enjoy the high life while the masses starve in the streets that quite a few generic medieval fantasy worlds suffer from is alive and well in this world too. Then again, normally such a system is surprisingly stable, as while there’s always a few of them dying untimely death every generation the system itself tend to survive for generation barring extreme incompetency or outside factors…

“You know, the point of these events are to meet people and talk to them.” A male voice intrude on her depressing internal musings. She turned her head to see a tall, handsome man in, weirdly enough, an expensive but understated civilian suit. Pretty much every other male at the party has been wearing a military uniform or adventuring costume of some kind, whether or not they’re actually in a military or adventuring group being irrelevant.

“And you are…” She’s already pretty sure who he is, but it never hurts to confirm.

“Michael Gath, at your service.” He said, with a knowing smile.

And so it is him, which also explains the non-fighting suit. As the diplomatic and commerce link between nations that shouldn’t exist, his position was always one that brings great wealth… yet also extremely precarious, as there is not even the tiniest shred of legitimacy in any of this, which means at any point all could be taken away on a whim.

He continued, “I see that your reputation seems to be rather accurate.”

“Can’t help it, that’s what I am.”

“At least try to fake it until it becomes your second nature, you think those guys over there are genuine?” He gestured towards the party at large, where at any one point at least a couple of the human males were copping up a feel at some of the females, usually the elvish ones.

He’s got a point, most of those isekais were originally NEETs to whom social contact might as well be a foreign concept. However the truth of his advice doesn’t make it any easier.

“How are you these days?” She asked, transparently attempting to move the conversation away. Michael took the hint.

“Peace is profitable, and so is war. I’m adjusting well enough.” He said. “May I ask what brought you out of your lair?”

“Can we step outside for a moment?”

“If you’re afraid of eavesdroppers, here is actually safer than outside, those whose jobs are to root out traitors and spies are so busy looking at dark corners that they often miss what’s right out in the open.”

“Fine. I’m looking to kidnap a princess. Which one is most willing to be kidnapped?” She said, completely deadpan. Michael merely raise his eyebrow.

“Who’s the lucky guy? Or gal, since same sex unions being legal across the border and all.”

“If everything goes as planned, nobody. I’m looking for a puppet leader for this place after the bodies hit the floor.”

Michael shook his head, “You really believed you guys have a chance?” He asked.

“We got both the dragon slayer and a barrier maiden on our side, the latter of which knew intimately how the human armies operate. All things considered I think we have a shot.”

“You all are crazy you know that?”

She shrugged, “It won’t be crazy if we succeed, history books will declare us visionaries.”

“If you are to be so lucky.”

She shrugged again, “So anyone in mind who might fit the profile?”

“Surprisingly enough, yes.” Michael seems to be slightly surprised himself at the thought.

------

Princess Aida was the third daughter of the king. A strong willed lady possessing an inquisitive mind, features that along with his disinterest in romantic courtship and unremarkable looks (not that she’s ugly by any means, but in a world where legendary beauties with big titties and delicious flat [legals] lolis are a dime a dozen a merely normal pretty girl with a normal bust has absolutely no chance), made her rather unsuitable to be married off to either other noblemen or the average horndog adventurers, unlike all her sisters, most of them either already in various stages of domestic bliss, for better or worse.

Thus she spends her days in the palace library, in the comfort of the piles of book. At least most of them don’t see her as merely a piece of meat or a pawn to be traded for political favors. In this corner she could let herself go and forget about the disappointment of her parents, the disdain of her siblings, and the chaos of court politics.

The start of war was almost a relief, as many of the pervy adventures, so called great warriors, and most importantly of all those isekais are all out of the city, off to cover themselves in glory by slaughtering hordes of savage orcs and other villains, and despite all their glorious successes they will grow back like weeds as soon as the next year comes. Some heroes they are.

So it was a surprise when a female visitor was asked to meet her for some idle chatting, alone. It couldn’t be someone looking to poke fun of her, those usually come with their own group of hanger ons, much like a pack of wolves circling potential prey.

……

“I don’t want to sound rude, what who are you and what do you want?” The two of them, the princess and the visitor, were sitting across from each other at one of the desks. The visitor smiled.

“You can call me Charlie.” She said. “You don’t seem to be too big on the social niceties.”

“But you already knew about all about that, don’t you. After all, it’s not exactly a secret that I’m not well adjusted for proper society.”

“Then that makes two of us.”

“I will not partake in a pity party, if that’s what you’re trying to host.”

“No, no I’m not.” She shook her head, “What I’m here is to offer you an out.”

“An out?”

“A way out of this present life you are currently living in possibly, but mostly to get you out of here before the orc armies sack this place.”

Princess Aida scoffed, “You really think those hordes are going to make it this far? When they have never have even been able to cross the frontier in all of recorded history?”

“There’s a first time for everything.” Charlie half joked, and immediately regretted saying that. She continued, “Look, times are changing, and you do not want to be around here when the winds of history blows the other way.”

“Disregarding your unconvincing arguments so far, you also haven’t given me any evidence to trust you on anything.”

Charlie’s face dropped for a moment, as she realized the number of innate assumptions that isekais tend to make, usually concerning how obviously everyone would recognize who they are and the righteous of their cause.

There doesn’t seem to any way to salvage this mess, and so she got up from her chair. “Sorry for wasting your time then, and please, stay safe in the meantime.” She said, with a hint of sadness as she walk out of the library.

“What a weird girl.” Aida thought to herself, looking at the figure walking away from her.

------

“Well, I can’t say I’m too terribly surprised by all of this.” Denhardt said.

The three of them were in their suite at the Grand Portal Hotel, an business that specifically caters to heroes, isekais, and the really rich and powerful travelers. While faith in the IOUs of nobility were low at the best of times, they are legal tender, when backed by the noble’s sword of course. Regardless there was always a slight chance of redeeming them, though of course not likely to be at their face value. Thus with a couple stacks of IOUs, a bag of sugar, and a dozen rolls of toilet paper the trio was able to rent the NEET suite for a few weeks.

The suite certainly lived up to its name, with tinted glass windows, soundproof walls, and even primitive bathroom facilities. With room service it was possible to stay there without ever leaving. All this makes it the perfect place to plot and get out of stuffy armors.

“In hindsight, that was rather naive of me thinking I can single handedly convince a princess to give up her life to run off on unproven rumors and speculations.” Charlie admitted.

“So what’s the plan now?” Fenrir asked.

“Honestly, I haven’t thought that far.” Charlie said, trying to shrink herself away from the gaze of the other two.

“Looks like I’ll have to cook up something then.” Denhardt declared, walking towards a bag that so far, he haven’t opened once.”

Looks like they’ll get the princess one way or the other.
 
TLB-ch21

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#22
Chapter 21: Obligatory war crime scene​

It was a scene played out all too frequently in the past few months as the 8th army rides through fields of growing grain as yet another human village burns behind them, the bodies of the defenders and innocents lay where they fell.

After the initial weeks of the invasions, in which a number of the outlying villages were captured mostly intact in buildings and sometimes even population, but as the invasion forces moved further into enemy territory and away from the support of the border regiments, things quickly took a turn for the brutal.

The burning village whose name no one in the 8th army has gotten and will certainly be lost to the sands of time was merely the latest in a string of such fate to have befallen to almost every village that was in the path of the invading army. Some were destroyed when their inhabitants resisted the foraging parties, other were torched by their own inhabitants to deny the invaders anything of value, a few fought to the bitter end, their defenders believing that total annihilation was preferable to being enslaved by the savage orcs.

As many of the Lost humans had feared, the war was exceptionally more brutal than what would normally be expected from such conflicts at this expected technological level. But then, ideological theories in this world at times were more ahead, mostly in the detrimental sense, and development of ideological thoughts were certainly not helped by the crazies imported from the other world, or the extremist reactions to them.

It has always a war to the knife, except this time the knife was on the other side of the border.

------

“You can’t just execute a mere child!” Archon said, forcefully, before coughing up some more blood.

“He just stabbed you you urban slab of lard!” Major Ekim shot back.

…...

The army was at another village, its only remarkable feature was that it was captured somewhat intact, there being at least three buildings standing out of the original dozen plus, the rest, as usual, being reduced to mere piles of ash and the occasional chunks of charred clay.

The survivors, mostly women, children, and a couple of old and infirm, stared sullenly at the invading orc soldiers as they ransacked and looted everything that wasn’t nailed down, which since iron nails being a luxury that they could not have afforded even at the best of times, was pretty much everything.

It was nothing new, armies moving through, regardless of who they belonged to, tend to suck any place they pass through dry, but this time was different, it was them who are doing to looting, them who are even now stepping on the sacred land of the humans.

It was too much, especially for those whom their entire lives were build upon a dream of wiping the green peril from the face of the world. As they watched the decreation before them, one boy could stand no longer, and ran forward at an orc who was standing around writing something into a notebook.

He never really had a chance, even before he could pull his knife out of the orc’s body the orc smacked him into the ground, and then a couple of other orcs rushed forward…

…...

“You know if we do this history will never forgive us.” Archon continued, the bleeding has mostly stopped by this point, as was his coughing.

“We been over this shit for the how many times now?” Ekim was rapidly losing patience with this walking piece of conscience. “This is how wars are supposed to be waged at our level. You said it yourself based on what you been told from those Lost humans.”

“But we have hindsight, we don’t have to do that they did.”

“Okay, you win.” Ekim’s tone suddenly changed, as if he decided it was not worth the time. He turned to the guard holding the human boy, “Release him.”

The guard did as he was told, and the boy immediately lunged at Archon…

The bark of a shortarm rang out, and the boy collapsed onto the ground, a pool of blood rapidly forming around his body. A few screams broke out among humans. Archon turned towards Ekim, who was already cleaning out the barrel of his shortarm.

“You might want to get your wound checked out by a medic.” He said nonchalantly, almost as if intentionally trying to avoid any gloating.

As Archon shuffled off to the medical tent Ekim took one last look at the dead human child. He sighed. He knows that historians centuries later will never understand this, being not around here and now and all the hindsight and time in the world. Nor the Lost humans and the Lost Bureau, who wanted solutions involving more time and effort and resources than all the universe could provide.

This boy had so much potential, he could have grew up to become an adventurer, a great warrior, a legend among men, the one who erased the shame of defeat of the Kingdom of the Lion…

Not exactly a person the orc would want to keep alive was it?

------

He was far from the only one killed, for the path to the enemy capital was paved with such acts of brutality from both sides. The orcs prefer beheadings, the native humans prefer lynchings, and the isekais prefer impalings. Regardless who was doing the killings, people, both humans and orcs, died in large numbers in various painful and horrific ways. Such was what war to the knife was like.

------

“Mind if I come in?” A familiar voice asked Archon as he was recuperating in his tent. Well, technically, he was sharing it a couple assistants (there were originally three of them but one as ambushed a while back, what’s left of him that was found was not a pretty sight) of the quartermaster but they are out busy trying to organize all the recent commandeered supplies.

“It’s a tent, does it matter?” Archon replied, still slightly dazed from the knife wound earlier in the day.

“I thought you urban dwellers care more about illusions than reality?” Major Ekim said as he invite himself into the tent. Archon scoffed.

“Just get to the point, I doubt you’re here to apologize or gloat.”

“How perceptive of you.”

“Whatever, just get on with it.” Him mood seems worse than his wound it seemed.

“I want to understand, why? What make these people to throw their lives for this? Frankly their lives sucked, if the foodstuff we seized from them is any indication.”

“Remember that their entire frame of reference probably never exceed the extent of this village. This life is all they knew.”

“They could damn well see the manor house of the local lord.” Ekim jerked a finger at the general direction of where a gorgeous manor house formerly stood, now merely a pile of rubble and burnt wreckage, its former inhabitants mercifully dead quickly during the short but intense siege.

“Generations of indoctrination then, why the heck are you even asking me?” Archon was getting mildly irritated.

“Mostly because I figured you might have gotten some insight from all those Lost humans you talk to on a regular basis.” Ekim replied, “Especially that pulp lich lady.”

“Their explanations are usually on the outright bizarre.” Archon shrugged, already trying to distant himself from those explanations. “Charlie warned about how in material deficit and highly stratified societies, the populace tend to put the bulk of their attachments to non-material matters, which means that when fighting against a more material abundant society they will actually fight harder because they believed, through indoctrination or cultural osmosis, to reject and hate prosperity and social equality as abominations to the natural state of things.”

“You know what? Just forget I asked any of this.” He stood up and walked towards the exit. “I’ll just wait for the history books to come out.”

Archon can’t really blame him, as he didn’t really understand it himself when Charlie told him all of that back then. He suddenly felt a small measure of envy at Ekim, his life at least doesn’t require understanding insane nonsensical concepts to function, just the duty of soldiering.

Meanwhile Major Ekim had stopped outside of his own tent, staring at the sky, wondering what deity, or deities could possibly have warped a race to have become like this; to fight bitterly to the death for the glory of those who only see them as chattel.

That was a question that was not to be answered in his lifetime.
 
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TLB-ch22

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#23
Chapter 22: Elves are quick to recognize politics​

“May I formally welcome you to the Axeon Union.” Lady Amora, senior diplomate of the Axeon Union welcomes her counterpart from the elven Confederacy of Lasce.
For Lady Amora, this would be the high point of a rather remarkable career spanning two decades and three races. From contacting the dragons of the far north to negotiating trade rules with the Republic of Mundock, even a few technically-never-happened hostage swaps with some of the human kingdoms. However, this is different, and depending on it goes the balance of power will be forever changed… okay, that kind of thing happens on a regular basis, but the frequency of such events should not change their importance.

For as long as anyone remembered the elven communities were in a alliance under the protection of the human kingdoms, though by the time of the recent past it was all but annexed into the human kingdoms, many of the newly risen isekai nobility find them extremely desirable as waifu material. Needless to say, being under the thumb of the humans didn’t do too much for their civilization, especially when the isekai reshaped their societies to what they believed to be what elves societies were supposed to be like, which coincidentally kept them almost wholly dependent on the generosity of the human kingdoms. Regardless of incompetence or malice it was hardly a guess that the elves have become chafed at the limits placed on them.

“I thank you for your great generosity in granting us his audience.” Replied Paneia, the elf ambassador. In a move that would have been almost unthinkable for any bureau or organ of the government of the Union, the elven nation had apparently sent merely one person across the border, with no documentation of note. Thankfully the local wardens were disciplined enough to hold fire, especially when the precise status between the countries were less than clear.

What she represented was unbelievable: the elves wanted an out.

“Please, come in,” Aroma gestured towards one of the houses, which was hastily refurbished and for the first time will serve its purpose that it designed and constructed for.

……

Lady Amora wondered to herself as she watches the small looking runt in front of her wolfing down the large number of delicies (hasty ‘traded’ from a certain private source for some concessions) on the table whether could ever be as brave as this little elf. For most of her diplomatic career, whatever threats she couldn’t have talk her way out of she could easily fight her way through, natural orc weight and strength and the standard single combat training that she and every other diplomat received usually being enough to break most opponents, often literally when in the case against humans.

Meanwhile this little elf (though she was probably around the size of the average human, but they’re all small in orc eyes) went alone, with no skill and no equipment, and walked straight into what she and her people have been told as the maws of the land of demons (she always resented that, it was obviously more of a description of the land of the dragon kingdoms, but that’s just them drawing the short end of the geography stick).

As Paneia slowed down Amora began the discussion in earnest: “First things, we do need to know in what capacity you are sent on behalf of the government of the Confederation, as well as what, if any, negotiation powers that you possess.” Standard diplomatic fare.

“Anything and everything.” She replied, “We don’t really know what we want, or what could be expected. We just know that we want to get out of the humans’ control.”

“Oh.” That floored Amora, things must be really desperate there, as even her wildest wishlist didn’t account for anything close to that. She recovered quickly enough, a testament to her experience and professionalism. “Then we have much work to do. Arries?” She called the male orc who had until this moment merely content standing near one corner of the room.

“Of course.” He nodded, the assistant (though often mistaken as butler, of which he usually don’t bother to correct as it gives him much greater leeway when needed) to the Pulp Lich and the one who provided the sweets at the table now moved forward, a thick stack of papers in hand...

…...

“... as such, we request the expulsion of all humans whose allegiance are towards the human kingdoms effective immediately and to be accomplished with all due haste.” Amora was going through the terms of the new treaties, during which so far Paneia mostly nodded along, with the occasional word of affirmation. “Also, an immediate cession of the waifu trade.” That clause the logical assumptions of what she perceived what the Lost human communities wanted, as they were clamoring for years for the destruction of anything that even mildly resembled the slave trade, and inserting it here meant currying another favor to that bloc of rather rich and influential humans, which would pay great dividends in the future.

“Absolutely!” Paneia almost shouted, to the shock of both orcs in the room, as it never occurred to them (or even most of the Lost humans they consulted) that the waifu trade was anything other than the usual long term hostage trading situation, in which the position of the hostage ends up becoming a rather prestigious position.

“But we don’t have any ability to enforce any of this.” Paneia continued, “We have no soldiers, no warriors, no enforcers…”

“We’re getting to that point.” Amora answered, thankful that a particular flunky in the intelligence service had already suggested a clause with something like that in mind, though his reasoning was a lot more cynical. “The Confederation will grant access for Union troops to enter and enforce previously agreed upon measures, provided that they are not equipped with firearms.” Which was less because they were afraid of making a bad first impression than to alleviate the fear of accidentally losing some and introducing more potent weapons to the hand of people who, quite frankly, were not at the level to be trusted yet. “Your government, of course, can assign observers to our soldiers to ensure that they adhere to the laws of your nation.” Of course, the sheer power disparity between the orcs and elves were left unsaid.

So on and so forth, after the political mumble jumbo, a short recess (during which the orc brought out that wonderful cold sweet known as ice cream, much to the amazement of the elf) and they onwards to the economical measures: The opening of trade and capital investments, the introduction of new crops, the freedom on travels (especially by members of the press, even more so than politicians). It was almost painfully obvious that the elves were merely replacing one colonial overlord with another, and for a brief moment Amora actually felt pity that Paneia was taking all of this with wide eye excitement what she believed will be a new era for her people.

When all was said and done she signed the papers in a heartbeat, even though Amora was expecting a much later and more formal signing, there’s barely any witnesses (and that’s after Arries rounded up a number of newspaper reporters in the two newspapers that Charlie owned). Neither of the diplomats were dressed in any way that was considered appropriate for an event of this magnitude.

And thus began the long descent of elven culture, society and even their physical bodies, a process in which no one at the time expected or could have predicted, and which would have far ranging implications well beyond the borders of the two races.
 
TLB-ch23

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#24
Chapter 23: To acquire a quisling, part 3​

Even without reading the newspapers, it was almost painfully obvious which direction the general state of the war was going for the Kingdom of the Lion. At first it was the freshly minted adventurers who sally forth to seek their fame and fortune. When they inevitably didn’t return it was the turn of the older and more experienced adventures. As the losses continue to mount (more like disappearances, since so few came back). Soon even the most cowardly and lazy of the isekais were ‘persuaded’ to go forth and stop the green peril. Most of them didn’t return either. Needless to say the atmosphere in the city has become rather grim as the streets became much less noisy than they were under happier times.

It also meant that with most able bodies either being thrown into the meat grinder or perparinging for fleeing security, even for the royal palace, was rather on the lighter end of things. Thus it came to be that on one early morning, even before the crack of dawn, Fenrir was making his way through the long corridors and winding staircases of the palace while in full armor, a couple parts mildly stained from the part where he had to knock out a few woefully unprepared guards. He was rather out of his element, and the suit was making the situation worse.

With the easy way not happening, the kidnapping had to be done the hard way.

As usual the plan cooked up by Denhardt was high on risk and timing, which the bulk of his part withheld in the name of ‘operational security’. Probably just making shit up as he goes.

Fenrir took a moment to reflect on his present situation and the series of events in the past year; mainly the sheer number of event that occurred purely by luck, whether it’s their capturing of Kay to the stopping of that band of murderhobos just the soldiers just being there, and now he’s about to kidnap a human princess in an effort to win a war. It was a remarkable life all thing considered, even if at present it appears that it might all end rather messily rather soon.

He finally reached the room where Denhardt’s information said is to be princess Aida’s bedchambers. Looking around he neither saw or heard any noise out of the ordinary.

“Here it goes.” He muttered, then body slammed into the door.

It was a sturdy door, by human standards, which meant that it was also sturdy enough to stop a single orc. Cursing himself while nursing his bruising shoulder, he took out his shortarm and shot at the lock, then give the door a mighty kick.

The door finally swung opened, and Fenrir walked in with a slight hurry in his steps, knowing that the noise will attract other guards soon enough.

Princess Aida was, as expected, sitting on her bed, eyes wide in shock. The noise of the firearm discharge and the subsequent crashing of the door was too much noise to ignore even for the sleepiest of beings. The two stared at each other for a moment, and Fenrir was the first to recover.

“This is a kidnapping.” He declared with a surprisingly normal voice. “And it is useless to resist so would you please come quietly?”

The princess continued to stare at him, as if incapable of comprehend the reality of the situation at hand.

“Come on, just throw on some clothes and get out of that bed.” He started to move towards her.

“You won’t get away with this,” Aida finally found her voice, “The guards-”

“Are too busy being dead unfortunately.” Fenrir cut her off. He then simply put the princess across his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. “And as for the rest of the guards, my friend’s got a dis-”

He was in mid-sentence when a muffled boom, and even at their location they felt the shockwaves.

“What the heck was that?!?” Fenrir asked out loud, to no one in particular. He starts sprinting out of the room and through the palace.

“I thought you of all people would know!” Aida shouted in between screaming at the top of her lungs.

“There’s no way he could have access to that much explosives.” He replied, while kicking back yet another door. This was one of the ones in the outer walls. He dashed forward…

… and into a courtyard that was in full of shouts of anger and things being broken. It took a while for Fenrir to realize that the noise was coming from the outside.

A full scale peasant riot is in progress.

“Over here!” A familiar voice cried out, Fenrir turned around, it was Charlie with the wagon which itself was somewhat worse for wear. Possibly the worst choice for a getaway driver, what the heck was Denhardt thinking? Come to think of it, where the heck is him?

“Where’s Denhardt?” fenrir asked as he climbed onto the wagon while putting the princess, who seems to be suffering from what looks like the beginning of shock, on the back of the wagon.

“Said something about meeting him at the West Gate.” She replied, while looking around desperately wondering how the heck are they going to get through the rioters.

“Sounds good.” Fenrir was trying to keep an appearance of calm, since it was becoming obvious that Charlie was also about to lose it. He took over the reins of the wagon.

Getting through the crowds, which thankfully were not as large as they first appeared, as quite a few of the peasants to the opportunity to settle old scores and ransack the residences of the rich. It still took a while, though the streets have thinned out considerably by the time they reached the West Gate, along with a number of other people and wagons who seemed to have the same idea in getting out of the city. It was there they saw a rather familiar figure in what now was a really dented and scorched suit of armor jogging towards them.

“Denhardt! Never thought I’d see you again you bastard!” For once, Fenrir was genuinely happy to see the spook. “What the heck did you do?”

“The usual,” Denhardt replied, who sounded rather tired, Stole a few things, riled some people up, shanked a few, blew up a piece of a wall. All in a day’s work.”

“I don’t recall you packing that much explosives though?”

“Mana enhanced explosives, the Republic has been rather generous in supporting our efforts in this mission.”

“Um guys?” Charlie asked in the back, the two turned just as she punched the princess in the face, knock her out. “Where the heck are we going now?” They were a small distance from the city, of which the first smoke from some of the fires could already been seen.

“Fenrir turned the wagon to a road to the south east. “With any luck, we link up with General Mung’s forces.”

“And if not?”

“Best not to think about that.” Denhardt said, as he took over guarding the still unconscious princess.
 
TLB-ch24

Mark Poe

The majestic cock
#25
Chapter 24: You finished the first level!​

Despite their best efforts, the Union’s dragoons reached the outskirts of the Kingdom’s capital a week later than the Republic’s forces. In general Mung’s defense, the Union had for the longest time intentionally made certain that its forces were incapable of offensive actions outside of its borders, such was the power of the Lost human lobbyists there. By all appearances it seemed the Republic was under no such constraints, if their Lost humas were anything like Nora.

While the common soldiers of both armies were generally in good spirits, which translated into a series of drunkenness and shenanigans that soldiers at camp tend to do. For them, this present campaign being a shiny example of orcish cooperation and triumph over oppression. Matters among the officers were something of a different matter.

It was the first time since the war where the field officers of both armies could discuss and catch up on their respective campaigns so far, and more importantly, what has been going wrong… and there were plenty of things that went wrong, some in completely unexpected fashion.



“How dare you! Have you got no respect for previously agreed upon agreements!” Nora railed at General Mung. The general staff of the two armies had convened at the headquarters tent of the Republic army, as the Union troops were still in the process of setting up their encampment.

“How the fuck would we know she was gonna make a straight beeline for that place of all places, or even get that far?!?” General Mung was doing damage control to the best of his abilities, to limited success. Despite the huge size difference between the two at that moment he felt rather small, probably because she was far from the only person on the Republic’s side that was angry, as that entire side of the tent were all displaying various stages of rage.

In an era that lacks long range communications managing war has always been more on the onus of the personalities of those leading the troops, especially when the war goes into someone else’s lands. Coupled with the overall inexperience on the Union’s military in waging an offensive war and the underhanded nature in which the offensive war was prosecuted under the noses of the civilian government meant that quite a few things quickly spiraled out of control.

But who the hell would have predicted that commander Kay and that regiment (which at last reports was probably closer to half of one due to attrition and battle casualties) would take an entire port city?

The problem with the capture of the port of Carpor wasn’t that it was done at all, or really even that it was done by the military nominally attached to the Union when its capture was allocated to the forces of the Republic. No, the problem was rather that the city almost immediately declared itself independent of the Kingdom of the Lion and petitioned for protectorate status to the Axeon Union. This puts everyone in a bind, the Union’s government finally realizing the extent of its military’s adventurism, the Republic denied part of their spoils of war, and an Union military force effectively gone rogue (or something, information out there was rather sketchy), with the general staff holding the bag.

“As if!” She was all but foaming at the mouth, probably also a bit angry at herself for being outmaneuvered like that.

“Channeling a bit of Downfall there aren’t you?” Charlie casually said, while leaning on one of the tent’s poles in a corner, a crooked smile on her face. A touch of embarrassment joined the sea of rage on her face. She and the others had managed to meet up with the dragoons with no noticeable issues (though the princess was slightly worse for wear, most royalty tend to not do too well without the creature comforts that they’re used to). As such, despite not being in any military or intelligence service she had her place in the tent.

“Well someone get that lich out of here?” She snapped. Charlie saved them the effort by waltzing out the tent herself, chuckling as she goes. It had the intended effect, as everyone else had a moment to take stock of the situation, and the sheer ridiculousness and pettiness of their disputes. They were winning the war, and winning it faster than they had dared to hope, and now at the eve of what will probably be the most important battle of the war they were squabbling like a bunch of feral hogs.

“If I may intrude,” Major Ekim was the first one to speak again. “Let’s leave the matter of the fate of Carpor to the politicians.” ‘Which we haven’t even mentioned the initial partition plan’ He thought to himself, it was very likely that most of them will have a rather uncomfortable future after the war regardless of what happened. “We do need to get things going.”

“Yes, yes indeed.” Said General Ratoes, Mung’s counterpart, although the power dynamics between the two were much more in his favor as he didn’t have to hide anything from his government. He continued. “There are many matters to discuss…”

So there was, mainly who should be responsible for what, what part to cover, where supplies will be coming from (mainly from the Republic, as the Union’s slush fund were exhausted by this point), and a thousand little things that makes the besieging forces functional.

------

Among the lost humans it was an axiom that the introduction of gunpowder artillery would render sieges, as far as against the generic medieval castles. Unfortunately such things were on a sliding scale regarding a number of variables, from the quantity to the size of the artillery in question. So it was not to be a quick siege in this case.

The Union, in which speed was of the essence, had only brought their rockets (without even the launcher frames, it was assumed that those will be built from lumber sourced from the nearby forests) which were not exactly designed for fighting against stone fortifications. Meanwhile the Republic brought along two (originally three, but they lost one in a swamp) of what they called ‘siege guns’, each, so they claimed, can fire an iron ball weighing up to a hundred kilos.

What neither of the armies have accounted for was the sheer scale of the fortification of the capital, and the amount of ammunition required for their revised plans.

Thus it came to be that the old song and dance of the siege was reenacted once again as the orcish armies camps out to wait for the good stuff to arrive.

It didn’t take long for some of the troopers to ‘commandeer’ some of rockets to pop them off at the general direction of the enemy capital, usually while under the influence of alcohol. These actions had the effect of further convincing the officers of the Republic that they made the right bet with hedging on cannon artillery.

Thus began the era of terror bombardments as a new chapter in the history of warfare was written.

------

For both sides of a siege, life on the whole sucked for mostly everyone. The battle against filth and grime was constant, an enemy even more deadly than the mightiest of mages. Germ theory might be useful and all but application of knowledge was as always limited by supplies, which were always not enough.

When not trying to avoid death by the plague, boredom tend to descend upon all, despite the constant drills to keep the soldiers in shape, and when troops were bored, then tend to do rather stupid things.

Still, it wasn’t all bad, or at least seen through the lense of nostalgia of the tales veterans years and decades later. It was bad at the time though, but it was often said that the sweetest of memories often comes from the bitterest of experiences.

Whoever said that definitely never lived through a siege before.

------

The actual assault and subsequent battle of the capital was oddly disappointing, especially since almost everyone in the orcish armies had been fed with visions of epic destruction the which the world hasn't seen since the dawn of time. Oh, the quick destruction of the ancient walls by the siege cannons did elicit great cheers, which quickly died out when the cannons stopped their firing as despite best efforts, they ran out of ammunition.

Then the rocket barrage began.

Hundreds of them flew towards the general vicinity of the city, shrieking like the damned which ended in muffled explosions behind the section of the walls still standing. The smokes of presumably numerous fires were soon seen rising all across the city.

As the last of the rockets impacted the city, a great shout came out of within the walls, as if the city itself was answering to the attacks on sacred human soil, and in a moment hundreds of warriors and knights flood out of the holes and well as the gates, galloping to the glorious decisive battle of the war.

Well, that made things much easier, and the orcs promptly opened fire. The brief exchange of musket balls and multicolor beams was intense but brief, all but over in a matter of moments. As the smoke cleared it became obvious that the humans have shot their bolt… and it wasn’t enough.

The orcs began marching towards the city. The Kingdom of the Lion has fallen.

------

It was inevitable, centuries of hatred, decades of war, and months of privations of campaigning in an era lacking in modern rules of professional conduct and sapient rights meant that the city was doomed to a horrific sacking long before the first orc stepped into the city proper. It was still a sickening spectal to see as the orc soldiers, for a week, devolved into the hordes that their enemies have always portrayed them.

“So this is what snuff hentai looks like in 3D” Charlie muttered as she turned away from yet another soon to become horrifying atrocity about to played out as a group of troopers dragged one of the nobility who was unfortunately not lucky enough to flee the city. Archon was slightly slower to turn away saw way more than he ever wanted to. The two of them, along with Fenrir and Denhardt, were trying, and mostly failing, to round up any isekais and other interested persons before the soldiers or the mob, the latter of which without the guiding hand of the aristocracy have also reverted to baser instincts. In the coming weeks they were to see many more such acts of depravity and atrocity.

Meanwhile major Ekim, commander Nora, and many of the other higher officers were scattered all across the city, doing their best to rein in the troops, who most of them were quite frankly out of control. Ekim prefer the gentle knock of the warhammer while Nora decided on the more direct approach of a pair of gauntlets. However, it was for a time a losing fight, for every officer who kept his (or her) professionalism a dozen other looked the other way or even partaken in the violations.

As with all things, the orgy of violence and atrocities did died down in due time, though preciously little of the former grandeur of the city remains.

------

“Please tell me this isn’t happening.” General Ratoes muttered as he puts down his monoscope. The two were standing at the outskirts of the camp. The city behind them has finally reached a calm of some sort, though most of the soldier that weren’t assigned to keep the peace were still in no condition to do battle.

“I guess our collective denial wasn’t enough to avoid.” General Mung agreed. Across from the field a mighty army of noble knights, in their full finery and splendor, ready to destroy all in their way at a moment’s notice.

Despite massive amounts of planning and scheming, it never occurred to the orc nations’ militaries that attacking a vassal of the Empire of All Mankind, of which the Kingdom of the Lion was but a component of it, might have gotten the rest of them involved.

And now it appears that they were about to pay the price.

A single rider rode up to the two orc generals, full of haughtiness. As he near them he asked out “Which one of you louts is leading this unwashed rabble?”

“That would be both of us.” General Mung replied, “For the most part.” He shrugged.

“The Empire of All Mankind would like to seek an end to this needless conflict, and in his infinite mercy spare you scum your worthless live.”

The two orc generals looked at each other, not really believing this turn of events.

Historians will forever argue whether the sudden end of the war was to the disadvantage of the humans or orcs, but what was undeniably true was that everyone at the time were either exhausted (the orcs) or distracted (this was only a few years before the peasant revolts of the Western wilderness led to another succession war in the Empire of All Mankind). Regardless of what ifs, it was at the ruins of the Kingdom’s capital that Princess Aida signed the formal surrender and partition of the Kingdom of the Lion. Perhaps it was also a coincidence, but it was the Luna Times who first broke the news to the people back home.
 
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