Irgruuk rose from his kneeling position. He had stepped through the portal the bloodmages had opened for him, and their duty was finished, but now it was time for his to begin.
No metal could be transported through the portal, and in fact, what could be taken through was very little, so all he had was a bearskin loincloth, but that was sufficient. He would find weapons along the way. At the very least, he could craft a rudimentary club out of a fallen tree, and by the looks of where he had ended up, trees were plentiful here.
All around him were the deciduous trees one would see in a temperate climate, a forest teeming with life, something he favored over the harsh mountains and dark caverns his kind normally haunted. He did not know the names of these alien trees, but they looked similar enough to the kinds he was already familiar with that such a comparison did not matter. He was not here for that anyway.
He ran his broad right palm over his bare tanned midriff, his muscles defined to the point where only a fool would challenge him, and that was in spite of being ten feet tall. He was like all other ogres in the fact that he possessed an overbroad chest, a larger-than-normal, bald, round head, and the huge, trunk-thick, muscular arms that could crush stone, but what was not normal was his above-average intelligence, a curse he had been born with, something that had left him dissatisfied with life in general.
A crimson glow emanated from his torso, a bright sanguine hue that shone clearly even in broad daylight. This was where the bloodmages had implanted a waystone, that which would take him back to the Imperium and away from this new and foreign world.
But he had a duty to perform first. He was to scout the area, assess threats, assess resources, and then return before any invasion could begin. If this world could not be conquered…no matter. There were an infinite number of worlds out there, though he did not understand the magics behind the bloodmages’ scrying that gave the insane elder wizards such knowledge.
Irgruuk moved with purpose now, shaking off the temporary weakness that associated planar jumping. The first thing he was going to do was seek out water, the primary necessity for any length of stay in a new world.
His bare feet stepped over rocks, dirt, sticks, and leaves, the bedding that covered any forest floor, but his thick skin prevented him from feeling any of it, so there was no worry about injuries from exposure. No, he was used to surviving on very little…The Imperium was not a kind master.
He sniffed the air for the scent of water, though catching such a scent would be difficult in a forest rife with woodland smells. Nevertheless, he caught a hint of something, blood and musk, so he followed it. He could smell the faint musk of man in the area, male humans, and mixed with that was the blood of an animal, a fresh kill…He was sure of it.
He took to thumping through the trees on broad bare feet, but it did not take him long to find the source of the scent he pursued. He came across two startled young men kneeling over a felled stag, though these men were definitely of foreign make.
Both young men wore hide clothes of deer skin, that clothing topped by necklaces of fangs and the talons of birds of prey. Their hair was jet black like a starless night, and their skin was ruddy like the color of river mud at the bottom of a dried riverbank.
Irgruuk had never seen such peoples before, not men of this make, but that didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was their weaponry and their prowess with that weaponry, and that was sadly lacking. Their weapons were simple stick bows, bows they immediately armed and readied as Irgruuk advanced upon them and their kill.
He shrugged off their pathetic arrows, the arrowheads nothing more than sharpened stone, not steel, not something that could penetrate his thick flesh. He laughed as the arrows bounced off of him, one, two, three, four…and then he roared out a challenge.
He drew in his breath and then roared out his battlecry, the same vocal challenge that had scattered a division of hardened Morecki soldiers from the Rafspalli Kingdom. He was Irgruuk the Destroyer, though the two young fools in front of him did not know that, but they soon would.
And they did.
The two young men abandoned their kill and ran, leaving the felled stag, a definite boon for Irgruuk to consume.
He did not follow them. No, he was going to eat this stag, scout a little further, stay here for the duration of his allotted month, and then report back to the Imperium. If all there was to this world were opponents such as these, the Imperium would soon rule here.
Still, he needed to find water. He had food now, so that was good, but finding water was going to be a little more difficult…unless it rained. Rainwater would do just as well.
Irgruuk recovered a primitive stone knife one of these primitive young men had left behind in his primitive haste. Now he also had a tool with which to cut, albeit a tiny one in his huge hands.
It occurred to him that he would do well to follow the hasty tracks of the fleeing natives. Where they fled to had to lead to water, so he picked up the stone knife, tucked it into his bearskin loincloth, and then slung the dead stag over his left shoulder.
He smiled to himself, his face splitting wide to reveal his large, broad, flat teeth. He had not been here for even an hour, and already he was ahead of the curve. This was his first time scouting an entirely new world, and he was clearly a natural for it…The Imperium would be pleased.
He followed the tracks of the young men—the turn of twigs here, the step marks in dirt, the torn leaves—and it was not long before he came upon a babbling brook that flowed from northwest to southeast. He could tell the directions due to the position of the foreign sun in the sky, as it had been moving in the same way and timely fashion his own world’s sun moved.
He dropped his newly-won stag, knelt, and cupped his broad hands within the stream before him. He drank deeply of fresh clean water, something in rather short supply within the desert region his masters had moved him to. No, the Imperium had stationed him within the Morecki Desert on the Rafspalli border, and that was where he would return once he had finished his duty here, here in this strange and primitive land.
He decided this place was as good as any to set up camp. The sun here was lowering in the west, so night was going to fall, and he wanted to get some food and rest before continuing on in the morning. This was his first day here, but he was allowed to laze around for one night. He was afforded some freedoms.
The bloodmages could see him; he was certain of that. They were scrying on him right now, scrying through a pool of blood, seeing through his eyes, but once again…he was afforded some freedoms.
He was, of course, on a deadline…He had to return by the end of a month, or the waystone inside him would take him back automatically. Naturally, others had tried to defy the Imperium, but trying to remove the waystone would detonate it…Once a slave of the Imperium, always a slave of the Imperium.
He took to the task of skinning his prized meal as he thought briefly upon his past. They had found him when he was but an adolescent, a young brug wandering the Dragon’s Tooth mountainside within the Wyrm’s Teeth Range, and he had killed five of their trappers before they could put him in chains. He had been transported to Degrasjao after that, and it was there that he had grown up with masters and inferiors. It was there that he had learned to be a full-grown orug with a purpose, unlike his wretched kin…They were still wandering that mountainside.
Irgruuk had started out his new life in Degrasjao in the arena. He had plenty of scars to prove that, but he had also become a champion there, and from there he had moved to the Imperial Army, and now he was here. This was his reward.
He ate his stag raw without cooking it, for his kind was used to eating as such. Nevertheless, he would need to find some way to make fire at some point, preferably sooner than later. As an adult ogre, he had some protection against the cold, but that did not mean he liked a descending chill, and he did not know how cold it would get here in the evenings. Plus, he liked the taste of cooked food anyway. He had grown accustomed to it.
He finished his meal and laid back upon forest earth with his hands behind his round, bald, broad head. Tomorrow was a new day, and with new days brought new dangers and rewards.
He would seek out the village that owned the young hunters he had chased off, and then he would subjugate that village. The Imperium would be pleased at such a promising start, and Irgruuk would be further rewarded.
He thought back upon the feasts he had partaken in, the human female slaves he had mated with, and the times when he had been praised by his masters…These were all fond memories. He would have new accolades and benefits upon his return; it was inevitable now. This world was his for the time being, and the bloodmages would get an eyeful while he was here…He was definitely going to give them one.
He smiled his broad smile as he closed his eyes. The sun was setting behind the trees, and he was going to sleep until dawn, something of a treasure for a slave of the Imperium.
Irgruuk’s eyes snapped open as he awoke to the sound of loud knocking. He held his breath and waited, listening, and then he heard it again, a loud knock of wood on wood, as if someone were striking trees in the distance.
He heard a loud calling after that, a hooting of sorts, but not from any bird. The calling raised and lowered in pitch to form grunts, and then the knocking began again, a knocking of wood on wood, like one tree striking another.
He raised himself up on both palms as he struggled to see through the black of night. He did not know how long it would be until sunrise, but he did not really need light in order to see what he was dealing with.
He heard the calling again, and then he smelled it, the intruder or whatever it was. His sense of smell recoiled at the merest touch of the odor, something so foul he could not quite describe it. It smelled like rotting flesh mixed with decaying food mixed with stinking feces…Horrific.
He rose to a standing position and peered around his immediate area, but other than the sounds of the babbling brook mere feet away, he could not sense anything else. He could not sense where this loud and very-smelly intruder was.
He let his eyes adjust to the darkness around him. His kind were used to dark caves, crags, hollows, and underground caverns, so the pitch of night around him was not insurmountable.
He could see the outlines of trees now, and he listened, listening for the unknown that had wandered into his territory.
He saw it before it could strike him, a blot of black arcing toward him, and he stepped aside as a large stone thunked into forest earth on his immediate left. He knew the direction from which it had sailed, so he opened his broad mouth and roared out a challenge in that direction. Whoever had thrown this stone was a fool, because now they had angered him, and now they were an enemy, and enemies would be crushed.
Another stone came sailing toward him, but he stepped aside to avoid it, just as he had the first one.
Enough was enough. Irgruuk bent his knees, hunched his broad muscular shoulders, and then took to running. It was time to charge.
He charged into the dense foliage that sheltered whatever had thrown the stones. He was going to catch this interloper, grab them with both hands, and then snap them in half.
He was ambushed from his peripheral left. Irgruuk saw the swinging tree just in time to grab it, but the force of the swing actually pushed him in a semicircle as his left side absorbed the blow. The strength of it was surprising, true, but he had fought mountain trolls, so he was used to facing things possessing such power.
But the smell was ungodly. Whatever it was that clutched the other end of this felled tree…? It stank to the highest heavens.
He could see it now, and it was big. It was at least eight feet tall, a couple feet shorter than he, and it was slenderer than he, but it was definitely humanoid, probably some type of giant like himself. It was covered in dark fur or hair, and its face had the rough semblance of a man, but he had never encountered anything that looked even remotely like it.
Irgruuk knew what was going on now. Those two boys had run back to their village and had told the story of their encounter with him. The humans’ elder had probably summoned this foul-smelling thing in response to Irgruuk’s invasion…This thing’s stench proved its otherworldly presence. It was some type of demon, or perhaps a guardian spirit of the forest, but it was not undefeatable. Once he sent this hairy giant back to the hell it was summoned from, he would deal with the human village and its elder mages. Their magics were primitive compared to his masters’ arts, so he had nothing to worry about there.
Irgruuk’s feet stopped sliding across the forest earth, and he pushed back against the hairy giant wielding this thick tree trunk like a club. This smelly thing took a few steps backwards, and then it pushed back. It roared as he roared in return, and then the tree the both of them clutched snapped in half, splinters of wood flying here and there from the savagery of their colossal struggle.
It did not waste time in its reprisal.
The hairy giant swung its half of the tree above its head, swinging it in an arc toward Irgruuk’s own head. Irgruuk blocked the blow with his own half of the tree trunk, the wood knocking against wood, but he felt the impact of that mighty blow, that impact sliding his huge bare feet backwards.
Irgruuk swung his own tree trunk at his smelly foe’s left knee, but this hairy thing expertly blocked the blow with its own tree-half. They beat upon each other’s tree logs for a few strikes after that, and Irgruuk could tell that this forest guardian had experience with this type of combat…but this was getting nowhere, so Irgruuk detached from his opponent’s range, backpedaling in order to charge forward yet again.
He charged and then swung his crude weapon toward the thing’s left midriff, right where its ribs would be. This creature swung its own club at Irgruuk’s left side at the same time, and both tree clubs impacted at the same time, both tree-halves striking unprotected flesh in unison.
Its strike was a little higher than Irgruuk’s, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was Irgruuk’s ribs breaking on his left side, the bones cracking with microfractures as he did the same to his enemy. Both of them staggered to their respective rights from the opposing force and the sudden pain, but this only lasted for a second…The real battle had just begun.
The hairy creature dropped its tree-half as Irgruuk dropped his. They were on each other after that, both engaged in a grappler’s clutch, Irgruuk’s massive hands on this smelly thing’s shoulders, its hairy hands upon Irgruuk’s muscular shoulders. They danced in a circle as they both struggled for superiority, and Irgruuk had to admit that this horrendously odiferous guardian of the forest was just as strong as he was.
Irgruuk took to striking it in the face with his right fist as it did the same to him. They struck each other with thunderous blows six times in fashion before this new type of punishment grew old.
Irgruuk roared as it roared right back at him, and then it bit into his left arm with savage bestial rage.
The pain was intense, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. He cried out as he pulled back on the hair on its head to successfully pop its mouth from his left arm. The wound on his lower left arm was dark with blood in the pitch night, and that sparked something inside him, something that pushed him over the edge.
This enraged him, the sheer ferocity and audacity of this thing, and Irgruuk snapped. He wrapped his thick arms around its hairy waist and then picked it up, charging as he did. He slammed the creature to the forest floor and mounted its hairy stomach, bringing down his fists as he did, raining blow after blow upon its hairy face.
Unfortunately, this enraged the creature beneath him. It reached up with its right hand and clutched the back of his head, and then it forced Irgruuk’s face to the dirt through sheer raw power. It struggled out from beneath him after that, struggling out only to stand above him.
Irgruuk felt himself being lifted, being picked up, for the first time in his life. He was lifted into the air as this hairy beast raised him up above its head on two incredibly powerful arms. Irgruuk was slammed into the forest floor after that, planted into the dirt like a flung child’s toy.
His breath left his lungs. This had never happened to him before, so he was left unprepared as the smelly wild beast mounted his stomach and began raining blows down upon him now.
It was learning from him.
Irgruuk drew in his breath and did his best to block shots with his left arm as his right arm flailed in the dirt, his massive right hand searching for something, anything to get this thing off of him. His thick fingers touched hard stone, and he clutched a large rock in his hand after that.
It would do.
He brought up the stone and shattered it across the hairy beast’s thick skull. The creature pitched to its own right, Irgruuk’s left, and this gave Irgruuk enough time to stand and recover his wits. The creature was up from the dirt in nothing flat, so what time Irgruuk did have to recover his wits was very little indeed.
It charged him this time, and Irgruuk was lifted up as it wrapped its hairy arms around his muscular waist. He was picked up and charged forward after that, only to be slammed down into the babbling brook he had camped next to. He was slammed down into the water, and then one terribly-powerful right arm held down his face beneath the flowing stream.
This thing was trying to drown him, but he was still the superior grappler. For one thing, he had no body hair.
He reached up with his right hand, gripped a good portion of hair, and pulled this thing’s head to its own right. The creature’s weight shifted enough to where Irgruuk slipped out from beneath it.
He stood to face it, but it was fast, faster than he had originally estimated.
The creature roared as it reached down between Irgruuk’s legs, reaching beneath his bearskin loincloth…reaching for his genitals.
It was playing dirty now.
Irgruuk made the wise decision to back up and away from it, and the two squared off once more. If he’d only had his hammer, he’d have killed this creature by now, but he did not have it. He did not have his huge warhammer and his protective chainmail, so he would have to take it out hand-to-hand, and that was proving to be no easy task.
This thing was ferocious, true, it was powerful, true, and it was learning from him, true, but he was still its superior. He was Irgruuk the Destroyer, he was a force to be reckoned with, and he was going to deal with this guardian of the forest, this force of nature, and then he would punish the village that had summoned it upon him. He would tear their elder mages limb from limb.
They both charged at the same time, both clashing together, their big feet stomping around in the babbling brook beneath them.
Irgruuk clutched his huge hands around its neck as it wrapped its hairy palms around his. Neither one of them had much of a neck, or rather, their necks were thick reinforced trunks that could withstand a hurricane.
They spun in a circle, both squeezing, both wheezing from the sheer pounds of pressure put upon each other’s throats.
It had tried to play dirty before, so now it was time for Irgruuk to play dirty.
He brought up his right leg and kneed it squarely between its legs, but he didn’t stop there. He kicked again in immediate succession and planted his big bare foot in this thing’s solar plexus.
The beast popped off of him as it sailed backwards to land upon its back outside of the confines of the brook. Irgruuk was on it after that, ready to show off his superior skill, because he had been fighting this fight all the wrong way, and he knew that now. This creature was intelligent, true, but it was wild and untrained, so it was time to use that inexperience against it.
He quickly flipped the beast over to its back and mounted it, mounting the small of its hairy back, clutching its head with both massive hands. Irgruuk leaned back after that, ready to end the beast from this position. They both roared as ungodly strength was pitted against ungodly strength, but this did not last long, not this time.
Irgruuk strained with all of his terrible might. The creature’s back bent until there was a loud “CRACK!,” and then Irgruuk turned its head until there came the satisfying follow-up “CRACK!.”
He released his grip after that, and it dropped dead to the forest floor.
He stood up, gave one loud bellow of victory, and then limped away from the dead and terribly-smelly beast.
But he was actually injured now.
Irgruuk had suffered injuries before, true, but never to the point where he had trouble fighting. He’d taken on trolls before, but he’d had weapons and fire, so they had not proven too difficult for him to take down.
His face was swollen from multiple blows, he had a savage wound on his left arm, broken ribs, an injured right leg, a wrenched neck…Still, he would do his duty and hit the primitive village tomorrow. He needed to establish dominance right away, or these elder mages would summon another one of these things, although such summonings were costly and involved human sacrifice. Even so, he could not allow such a summoning to happen again.
He went back to the skeleton of the stag he had eaten and fished up his stone knife from out of the bones…It was time to move on from this area. He would not be caught unawares again.
It was a good thing he had eaten right after getting to this new world, because he was going to need that energy to heal. All he really needed was time, just a little time to…
There was a loud “THUNK!” as a large stone hit the forest floor next to him. He looked up to see them, all of them, at least twelve of the creatures now, the terrible and foul-smelling beasts all surrounding him in a circle.
He understood now.
Those humans hadn’t summoned the beast that had attacked him. No, these things were the true masters of this world, and the primitive humans that did live here were allowed to live here with these creatures’ permission…No, the Imperium would not be taking this world. They would not be able to gain a foothold here as long as these things existed…That was a certainty.
If only he had his hammer…
The circle closed in on him.
He did not have time to do the ritual of return. Only his masters could pull him back without performing the ritual, and they typically did not tolerate failure.
He was going to die, but if he were going to die, he was going out with a literal bang. He plunged his stone knife into his belly, using his great strength to pierce his thick skin, ignoring the searing pain that followed. The waystone in his belly glowed a bright sanguine hue in response to his fingers digging into his own flesh in order to remove it.
He felt the heat before he felt anything else. The sanguine light around him grew as a glowing crimson portal enveloped him. His body was pulled from this new world, wrenched out of time and space as his masters demanded his immediate and abrupt return. On the one hand, he felt some pride that he was too valuable to lose, but on the other hand, he felt the old anger of knowing he was enslaved.
He was suddenly jealous of these foul-smelling creatures that ruled this new world. They were wild and free, unsullied and untouched by the ruling hand of powerful masters. They were their own masters, and they would be still after Irgruuk was long gone from this accursed forest.
If it was one thing he understood, he understood his own situation…Once a slave of the Imperium, always a slave of the Imperium.
Ogre versus Sasquatch Copyright © 2022 Matthew L. Marlott