As the sun set, Chief Garuun displayed his son to the orc hunters in the Black Sun camp. They admired the boy's strength and shared their belief that he would become a mighty warrior like his fathers before him. Dressed and present at her mate's side, Naalah's dark red skin had regained some of its color.
Tribeswomen roasted mammoth and other meats. Bloodwine flowed from drinking horns. Hunters beat war drums and dancers spun in front of the bonfire in celebration of his son. Naalah kissed him, biting his lower lip and drawing black blood, stoking his desire.
He bolted from his seat as a tribeswoman screamed. The celebration died as she stumbled forward, clutching her bleeding stomach and the arrow protruding from it. She uttered gibberish and beseeched Garuun, eyes mad with pain.
Her mate roared as she collapsed, her violet eyes glassing over as her last breath escaped her. He picked up her limp body and patted her cold cheek with his palm. He shook her, then gave up and buried his face in her breast.
He yanked the arrow out and wiped away the black blood to expose a steel point. Steel. He held it up to Garuun and let out a blood curdling scream. Humans.
Arrows fell. Orcs fled for shelter and weapons. An arrow struck Garuun in the shoulder. He jerked it out and snapped it between his fingers, blood trickling down his arm. He shielded Naalah and their child with his body as they ran.
They made it back to their long tent. Garuun opened his battle chest, pulled on his leather and fur armor, and picked up his axes. Outside, he saddled his tiger and placed Naalah in the seat, their child in a sling across her chest. They locked eyes.