Windfall: Dungeon Battles Chapter 5

Chapter 5 of a multipart fantasy serial, new chapter nearly every week.

Chapter 5 — Voltha


Voltha was born in a swampy butthole of a shanty-town named Snasinmoney. She was born at a single attendance birth, in a narrow mud alley between a brothel at the edge of the shacks that made up the docks, and the gnarled swamp wall that surrounded the Snasinmoney village proper. She was left in that muddy alley to die. This would have been the end of Voltha’s story if it wasn’t for a passing fisher named Kogan who took pity on the small hideous and wailing child.

Kogan was quiet, but not exceptionally cruel by Orcish standards, and he owned his own small hovel in Dog Water, a tiny cluster of hovels closer to the docks. Because of her appearance, which from the perspective of the townsfolk, did not seem to improve much even as she grew into maturity, Voltha was an object of ridicule whenever she was seen about, and the beating that she got the one time she tried to enter the towns gate to check on Kogan who had not come back from the bar inside the wall one night was enough that she had not tried again. Snasinmoney was a small town, so Voltha ended up at least glancing at most of those who worked and lived inside the town walls, and even the chieftain once when he had made his way down to the docks to greet a dignitary that had arrived by boat. There was only one Orc who looked anything like Voltha’s reflection among those she had seen, and as Voltha grew up she came to understand this woman, perhaps only half as ugly as herself, was her mother. Any attempt Voltha made to speak with this woman caused her mother to cry like a weakling, or run like a coward. Both behaviors Kogan had successfully beat out of Voltha when she was young, so Voltha gave up on any attempt at understanding.

Her only relief was at sea, manning the sails of Kogan’s boat, rigging nets, or spearing the larger fish that would sometimes come a little too close to the surface to grab the chum that Kogan would chuck into the water. Kogan had taken a hit in the pecking order by taking in Voltha, and was forced to fish in the swampier shoals, or farther out to sea than other Orcs might have risked. Voltha worked hard to make sure that she would provide value for his loss, she was adept at working nets with her diminutive hands, and could cast with accuracy and a cunning that many wiser fishers lacked. She had on a number of occasions through quick reaction and well placed spear attacks, defended the boat when they got a little too far out and were attacked by some of the nastier and larger denizens who populated the deeper ocean.

It was on a fishing trip like that in which Voltha’s shanty-town fishing life ended. A dwarven merchant and their guard had come to town about a week prior with a cart full of dungeon loot from Ka`uhane, and the more well to do fishers in the village had snatched up dozens of the small red explosive orbs that had been nicknamed “boom booms”. Those fishers who were better off, or had town sponsors with the means to purchase the expensive tools, had been fishing with boom booms all week, tossing each over the side of their boats, exploding them with a thought, and then collecting the concussed or dead fish as they floated to the surface.

This left Kogan and Voltha looking for their catch elsewhere. For the first part of the week Kogan had decided that they “noodle” the swamps. They took their boat sail off, and would paddle through the somewhat deeper tracks through the swamps looking for signs of larger fish who came to this area to lay and protect their eggs. When a potential fish was spotted, Voltha would jump into the leech infested muddy water, swimming down if needed, and blindly fish around with her hand. If a large fish was nearby, it would try and bite her arm, and she would ram her hand into it’s boney mouth and grab onto it from the inside, using the gills as a grip. While she hated the leeches, she actually loved fishing this way. It felt closer to the warriors path, and gave her a rush and a sense of pride. By the end of the week however, they had fished out the swamps as much as Kogan felt comfortable, and were forced to restore the sail and rigging to their boat and point it out to the more dangerous deep water outside the bay where the bombers were still fishing, although at a slower rate now that so many of the fish in the bay had been wiped, and their inventory of boom boom’s had decreased.

They had now been fishing the rougher water for one rise and fall of the “dimstar”, a dull planet that orbited overhead at a regular cadence and was the way her people tracked the passage of time, when Voltha spotted some odd movement in the water towards the southern horizon. She pointed it out to Kogan, who squinted but was not able to make anything out, his eyesight was always worse than hers at a distance, but soon enough his large, all-black eyes widened further as the motion got closer and impossible to miss. The disturbance was larger than, and unlike anything Voltha or Kogan had ever seen. Approaching them directly from head on all they could see was a cone shaped object, at least 3 warriors wide plowing the water in a spray of ocean foam. A large tail could be seen a dozen warriors or more behind the cone something like that of a whale providing the insane thrust that would have been needed to push this monstrosity at such a speed. While Kogan was staring, Voltha, who had longer to process, was already rigging up the sail to get their boat out of the path. Catching the wind, the boat barely managed to get out of the way and was nearly swamped by the giant creature’s wake as it passed them. As it went by, Voltha could see that it was much like one of the whales that she had seen, at least 20 laying warriors long, but where a whale had smooth skin, this creature was covered in tough barnacle encrusted plates. After getting the boat stable Voltha turned to see where the armored missile was headed, and could see that it was headed straight for the Snasinmoney docks. She tried to shout a warning to the Orc fishers in the bay, but it was too late, one boat right in the path was thrown into the air by the cone wedge, smashing into pieces and crushing at least one of the boats passengers into bloody bits, the rest thrown aside like a limp loin cloth at the end of a long day. Before that new shock had registered, Voltha caught sight of something back out to sea that took her full attention. Nudging Kogga, Voltha wordlessly pointed at the spray of a dozen or more of the whale spears rising from the depths and headed straight for them and the town.

Continue reading, Chapter 6: Demitri

Kevin Lohman, Software Engineer, Father, Story Teller, and former US Navy Sailor (who never set foot on a ship)

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