Borrr stood before the old man, hands defiantly on his hips. With his wispy beard and gap-toothed smile, the human looked more like a slave on his last legs than the wise man Krrr claimed he was. A look back at his mentor and the single raised brow he received was enough to dissuade him from arguing, though. His skull was still tender from his last “conversation” about the matter with the shaman, and he most certainly did not wish to have another visit from Krrr’s brother Brakk. That the shaman was loud was out of necessity, the spirits had to hear him after all. But Borrr was convinced that Brakk was deaf from one too many blows to the head – when the warrior-spirit spoke to Borrr his words echoed like thunder inside the young acolyte’s head. Borrr shook off the wanderings of his mind. Too much thinking was what drove shamans crazy, the old warriors always said.
The scrawny one waved at him again, motioning for Borrr to sit in the chair he stood behind. With a frustrated snarl, Borrr dropped his heavy hide armor and sat solidly. The little man began chanting as he rubbed the orc’s disheveled mane with some holy powder that turned to foam like the rivers in spring-time as some water was added to the mix.
Borrr grunted in annoyance as some of the blessed unguents ran into his eye and stung. He closed his eyes and wrestled with his doubts. The methods of these human shamans were strange to him. There was Macon, the thin one who was constantly forcing the orcs to drink his “spirit water” and eat the chewy fruit to ward off the foul spectre known as DeHydration, Suli the Sandwalker, who could make them see a watering hole where there was none, and now this strange one Saleem, who had convinced Krrr that the ritualistic shearing of the thick hair that had once covered his head would bring the spirits closer to him.
Borrr could feel the anger growing warmer in his gut as the holy man snipped lock after lock away. “Krrr had better be right about this,” he thought boldly, “or I will eat his heart and that of this priest as well.” A toothy grin crossed his face at the thought and he found he did not mind so much the scrape of the blade against his skin. Moments later the task was complete and all that was left was the anointing of magical oils. It took a few moments and much oil, but the skin on Borrr’s head felt cool and tingly. A tap on the shoulder told him the ritual was over. He stood, running a calloused hand over his newly shorn pate.
A guffaw from behind caused him to turn sharply, only to see the full line of orc warriors baring their teeth in mirth. Kerock, a burly youth from his mother’s brother’s line, was bent double with laughter and pointing. “Borrr’s head shiny like wet rock!” he taunted. “Borrr smell like pretty flower.” The line of orcs roared as one at the jest.
Borrr felt the heat of anger as in traveled up his spine. He felt warm all over, save his cool and tingly head, as his face flushed darkly. He stepped forward to face Kerock, feeling the eyes of the tribe’s warriors on him as he did so. Kerock straightened at the challenge, his laughter dying as the mood turned somber. “You got problem, flower boy?” the burly warrior asked through bared teeth.
Propelled by his fury the young shaman hurled himself at the larger orc with an explosive burst of speed. There was a solid collision followed by a resounding crunch as Kerock’s nose gave way to the bony forehead that plowed into it. A shower of scarlet filled the air as the orc collapsed onto the ground below. Members of the tribe gathered around as Borrr stood over the groaning form of Kerock. “Still smell pretty?” he asked his prone cousin, who could do naught but look back and hold the bloody mess of his face. Borrr turned to walk away. A toothy grin crossed his face as he caught the subtle nod of approval Krrr gave him. Perhaps there was something to this “Barber” after all, he thought, as he turned back to break up a fight over who was next to be shorn.