Of stepmothers and mirrors

Hiho!
I’m she-human. Thrakbog stays at my flat, I think he mentioned that. Don’t bother asking for my name, I don’t think he would allow me to blog here twice. But since he is still rather indisposed because of his Halloween adventure, he asked me to do it for him. So this is a faithful narrative of what happened last night (given that he remembered it correctly and managed to tell it to me):
Thrakbog went in search for a magic portal because some irresponsible human on twitter had told him that on Halloween the layers between the worlds get thinner, so it’s possible to get through. As he had apparently come into this world through water he tried that again. That’s how he got the idea that a pond or well would suffice. He climbed into one and basically dissappeared. When he crawled out again he found himself right in the middle of a thick forest. But it did not smell like home. So what did he do? Go back immediately? No, of course not. Instead he started complaining to whomever might be listening.
“Pushed through another wrong portal again, hm? Dear gods, I cannot begin to express what I am thinking about all of you right now. Can’t you fuck up someone else’s life for a change? Honestly, I can see that you all find it funny and entertaining to watch me struggle with these foreign worlds. But seriously, I mean, don’t you have other things to do, what with being gods and all that? First the abyss, then the London Metropolis, now what? Causing chaos and mayhem in other worlds is fun, don’t get me wrong, but I am really sick of being the only orc around. I miss my comrades, I even miss my countless wives and offspring. At least give me a bloody sign what is expected of me in this unknown world.”
Thrakbog got up, slipped on a wet stone ad landed flat on his back again.
“That’s what you call a sign?”, he yelled. Before he could get back on his feet again he felt cold steel pressed against the back of his neck.
“That’s more like it”, the orc grumbled gratefully.
“Give me a good reason not to do it”, a cold deep voice behind him said.
“Acutally I don’t give a fuck. If you don’t do it, I will.” Thrakbog quickly turned around on his arse and yanked the guy’s feet off the ground. The man crashed beside the orc, his knife all forgotten, and stared at him with disbelief.
“What kind of a beast are you? I mean, you are definitely not petite and pretty.”
Thrakbog pointed a sharp claw at the man’s throat. “Stop right there, human. I am so not interested in hearing whatever you were going to say. Who are you? Where am I and where can I find the next sorcerer? Answer in that order. Quick, man.”
“I am the Hunter, this is the Kingdom of the Seven Mountains, and the most powerful sorcerer is actually a witch, I think.”
“Well, I don’t mind. Bring me to her.”
“Ah, I really don’t think that’s such a good idea, as it was her that sent me here to kill you.”
Thrakbog considered that for a moment and came to the conclusion that it made no sense.
“How come she knows about me? I only just arrived.”
Hunter gave him another stupid stare.
“But…, but she is your evil stepmother. She is the queen of the empire.”
“By any chance a stiff elderly lady living in a toy shop?”
The hunter shook his head in disbelief. Thrakbog was pretty sure that he finally found someone who was even more stupid than himself, besides the other idiot orcs at home that he missed so dearly.
“Right. So this woman, she’s a witch, the queen and my stepmother. Are there any other people living in this realm apart from the two of you? Or did you two cover all the jobs? Are you the king and my stepfather by any chance?”
“No, I’m the Hunter”, stupid guy stammered.
“Good to know. I was beginning to question my heritage. So, how come you think she is my stepmother?”
“Because she sent me here to kill you. She wants you dead because you’re more…, I mean…, you’re supposed to be… prettier than her.” His stupid face expressed some irritation.
“She an orc?”
“What’s an orc?”
“Creature like me: green leathery skin, long impressive tusks, deep growling voice, sharp claws, toenails of doom?”
“No, she isn’t.”
“Then of course I am prettier than her.”

It did not prove too difficult to convince Hunter not to try and kill Thrakbog. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the orc quickly grabbing Hunter’s knife and threating to use it. Instead they found a nice place to sit and have a chat. The hunter was more than willing to share his small bottle of restorative drink with his new friend and helped him to catch up on some details.
“So, this queen. How can she possibly be my mother?”
“Stepmother.”
“Still, I find it difficult to accept that thought. She hot?”
“Uhm, yes, that’s kinda the problem. You see, your mother, uh, your mother died young, surely you must now all about this.”
“Consider me stupid and fill me in.”
“As you wish. Right, with you mom dead, the king married again. And that wife is the current queen and your stepmother.”
Thrakbog for once ignored the interesting thought that this practically made him prince of this realm. “Are you sure that I am that child? Maybe you mistake me for someone else.”
How that could be even remotely possible was beyond him.
“No, that’s impossible. The mirror said so.”
“Now we’re getting somewhere. Mirror. Go on.”
“The queen talks to it.”
“Does it respond?”
“Yes, it said that she is pretty but you are even prettier.”
“So it would, wouldn’t it?”
Again the hunter was irritated by Thrakbog’s confidence about his appearance.
“Anyway, she told me to take you to the woods, kill you and bring her your heart and lung to prove that you’re dead.”
“And have you ever seen me before?”
“Ah, no, of course not. You’ve been living in the king’s castle.”
“So how do you know that I am who you think I am?”
“Is your name Thrakbog or not?”, the hunter insisted.
“Well, yes.”
“So.”
“What?”
“The mirror answered in the affirmative.”
“In the what?”
“I don’t understand it either. It just sounded clever. The mirror said that the queen is very pretty but that Thrakbog is even prettier.”
“Clever mirror that. Must be a magic device.”
The whole story sounded more and more as if the mischivious gods had their hands in this after all.
“So what are we gonna do now?”, the hunter asked, obviously relieved that someone else took over.
“Okay, you kill some other creature, take heart and lung, I eat the rest. Then you bring the stuff to evil mom and pretend to be a really tough bugger that slaughtered me.” Thrakbog had to stop and suppress an unorcish giggle at the sheer thought. “And I stay in these woods for a bit until I figured out a way to get to that bloody mirror.”
“To my knowledge there was never the smallest stain of blood on that mirror.”
Thrakbog saved his breath. This bloke was hopeless. They hunted together and the orc could see that the guy at least could do his job properly. Then they parted and Thrakbog retreated deeper into the forest.
He found a good spot to settle for a bit and do some proper thinking which natually took some time. Finally he reached the conclusion that only the queen’s mirror could be the solution to his current problem, the key to his return to some other world, preferably his own. Obviously that mirror was clever enough to
a) speak
b) know him
and c) find him prettier than a human.
That made it all very likely that one of the gods either controlled the mirror or it was in itself a portal to a world where orcs were known. So all he needed to do was to get rid of the stepmother and use that bloody mirror.
“Well, no time like the present”, he said to no one in particular (or the gods listening) and got up. He had a plan but the problem was, he had no idea where the queen lived.

It turned out that queen’s home was right outside the forest. High on a hill stood a mighty fortress that made Thrakbog almost regret leaving so soon and not having much time to explore it. Perhaps a short detour to the dungeons would be in order.
The guards at the entrance were no match for him. Before they could even fathom who or rather what he was, he had clubbed them on the head and took their cloaks and pikes. From there it was ridiculously simple to get to the queen’s room.
The woman proved to be quite another matter.
“Mom?”, he asked by entering the throne room, pushing his hostages into a corner where they huddled together, seemingly unsure whom to fear more: the orc or the queen.
“Who are you?” the female asked and didn’t even spare a glance for her mistreated subjects. Thrakbog liked that. They would make a great team.
“I am Thrakbog, your son.”
“You’re delusional.”
“Well, yes, I am not your real son, of couse.” He enjoyed himself immensely.
“No, that much is rather obvious. The idiot of a hunter mixed it all up. I told him to find you, so you would then find my stepdaughter and get rid of her.”
“Now it all makes sense.”
“Well?”
“Well what?”
“Will you do it?”
“No.”
“What?”
“What what?”
“Why not? You are an evil creature.”
“Thank you. And I am also prettier than you.”
“That’s ridiculous. You are a monstrosity.”
“Exactly.”
“Exactly what?”
Thrakbog exhaled audibly. “This is not getting us anywhere. Look, queen, mom, whatever, I’ll leave you to this game you play. All I want is a quick look into your mirror and your dungeon, if possible.”
The evil stepmother/queen smiled wickedly.
“Your wish shall be granted at once. Follow me.”
Of course Thrakbog was aware that this was going to be a trap but he was convinced that stepmomqueen was no match for him.

“This was not supposed to happen”, Thrakbog complained while the rack stretched his body a little further. Half a dozen (don’t be too hard on the correct numbers here) of stepqueen’s minions had taken hold of him and tied him onto the table-like device for stretching purposes.
“Oh, but it was. You’ll make a nice little toy for my evening entertainment while I find someone else to kill that silly girl. Or you could change your mind and take the job.”
“Actually I’m beginning to like this. An orc can never be too tall, you know. D’you reckon I could gain at least three inches?”
“Let’s find out”, she complied and signaled her minions to turn the screw a little more.
Thrakbog yelped and squealed much to her delight and to his chagrin. He was actually a bit ashamed of himself for expressing his pleasure so audibly.
“You’re enjoying this far too much”, she complained.
“Your minions are really good at this. Do you think I could borrow them from time to time?”
“Don’t think I have nothing else in store”, she threatened but her enthusiasm was already faltering. For once Thrakbog could rely on his enormous amount of experience with females of a certain age. A handful of petulant and fickle wives, sulky and moody daughters, they all had prepaired him to deal with stepqueenmom now.
“Don’t bother. Whatever you have in store, it could never change the fact that I will remain much prettier than you.”
“Ridiculous.”
“The mirror said so.”
“It didn’t. I told you the hunter got it all wrong.”
“No, I’m sure it’s true. How could it not be? I mean, look at us.” He tried to turn his head so he could include the minions with his gaze. “All of you are pale, ugly, tiny creatures. Whereas I am tall and powerful, thick-skinned, green and frightening. From an impartial point of view, who do you think would be regarded as better-looking, hm? Exactly. So the mirror will tell nothing but the truth.”
“But it didn’t. You’re a monster.”
“That depends on the perspective. Who’s the one currently doing the torturing?”
“You’re still ugly.”
That was when Thrakbog realized he had already won. Queenstep reacted like a petulant five-year-old.
“Well, let’s ask someone neutral.”
“And who should that be?”
“Your mirror of course. And btw if it were to tell who’s the most stupid around here, it would always say your name.”
Momstepqueen seemed to consider that for a moment but then her vanity won over common sense, of which she apparently had even less than Thrakbog which in itself sounds fairly unbelievable, I know. To be honest, I have my doubts about the truthfulness of his narrative, it sounds a lot like wishful thinking, but there you are.
So, the mirror was brought to them and the queenstepmom looked into it.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
“Famed is thy beauty, stepqueen.
But hold, a greenish orc I’ve seen.
The rack cannot hide his forceful grace.
Alas, I’ve never seen a prettier face.”
“That’s a shitty rhyme, mirror”, she complained, her face red with fury.
“Bollocks”, the mirror answered. “I prefer a sturdy male body. And the green is rather pleasant to behold. Imagine what he could do to me with his claws…”
With a shrill shreak the momqueenstep crashed the mirror on Thrakbog’s head. Darkness befell him.

And that was when I fished him out of the pond in Regent’s Park. Perhaps I should have let him drown but…, well, there you go. I couldn’t.
The only thing that troubles me is that if my eyes did not deceive me, there was someone else crawling out of the pond when we already were about to leave. But how could that even be possible when we are sure that Thrakbog only had a hallucination caused by hypoxia, right?

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