Jarek had served in the Whitesands Militia for the past two years. Life hadn’t been all that Hartlin had promised in those years. For one, Jarek still experienced the prejudices he’d met with in The Downs. The mixture of tactical skill, cunning, and sheer ferocity had been honed within him even finer with combat training, yet for all of his ability, Jarek earned little respect due to his birth.
For another, Jarek still couldn’t get the girl he’d met two years ago out of his mind. He still remembered the silky feel of her skin against his fingertips as he’d stitched her side, the way her flaxen hair had brushed over his arm, and the look in her big, dark blue eyes when she had looked up into his icy blue eyes. When he’d gone to look for her at the camp of the Traveling People, they had already pulled up roots and wandered away from Whitesands. Over the past couple of years, he’d been repeatedly excited and then disappointed when meeting with various groups of Traveling People while on patrol, only to find that the clan he’d met wasn’t hers.
“Focus!” shouted the burly dwarf as he stepped around Jarek’s guard fluidly, and landed a punch in the young half-orc’s side.
Jarek grunted more in anger than in pain as the blow was struck. He’d been placed in training with the monk from the Monastery of the Sacred Mountain who called himself Odorf for the past month. Hartlin had recommended the training after realizing that Jarek was a brawler, more comfortable taking a fight close to his opponent. The man who had enlisted Jarek also wanted him to develop a cooler head in combat, and curb his natural rage. But sometimes, those lonely thoughts of the girl Kismoral distracted him.
Struck with a sudden urge, Jarek quickly snatched up Odorf and lifted the dwarf into the air with a loud growl. Exhibiting the strength that he was becoming well-known for, Jarek tossed Odorf towards a nearby hay bale. The dwarf landed with a loud thump and a grunt.
Then a wooden practice sword clipped Jarek’s temple, sending him reeling dizzily. Reaching up to his ringing head, Jarek turned towards his assailant, and heard the muffled words of his mentor.
“You’re dead, Jarek. That little display just cost you your life, and me a Patrol member,” Hartlin said gruffly.
Jarek sighed heavily.
“Damn, boy, I know you’re stronger than most oxen a man would meet,” grumbled Odorf as he rose to his feet in the hay, “But no more dwarf-tossing!”
“You boys rinse off and gird up for Patrol,” Hartlin said sharply, “We’ve got some orc bandits to hunt down. A small merchant caravan fell victim to them, and the scouts have just found their trail.”
Jarek frowned. This would be the first time he’d faced his father’s people in combat. Odorf slapped the tall young half-orc’s back.
“Besides the tossing, he’s doing a fine job, Hartlin. We’ll make a warrior out of him yet,” the dwarf rumbled.
Jarek grunted in reply, and moved towards his tent to rinse the sweat from his muscular frame as he checked his weapons. They were about to be sent out like dogs unleashed on the hunt. But even with the threat of combat looming, a pair of dark blue eyes haunted his memories.