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Story Notes:

For more on the Hayone Saga, see Ryan's stories Scapegoat and End of an Era.

While named after the co-author, the Pixis in this story is no relation to his own Sir Pixis character. This is a separate universe. Confusin', ain't it? ;)

Author's Chapter Notes:
Chapter 1 by Ryantherebel with a few edits from Pixis.

Between an Orc and a Hard Place

Chapter 1


The very word conjures up images of barbaric, green, clammy skinned humanoids with animalistic faces, and jaws filled with dagger-like teeth. Creatures that roam the seas, and skies of Hayone in iron clad warships, pillaging villages, and slaughtering innocents all in the name of honor, and the chance for an eternity of bliss in the next life. It was because of these customs, among other reasons, that Djoland ran away from his own kind. He resided presently in a cave, and sat close to the fire he made out of some old rags soaked in his own saliva. Clad in cloths made of black velvet and steel, he sat up against a bronze trunk that was filled with the weapons of his fallen enemies, and up against the trunk was his trusty seven barreled shotgun.

He sat cross legged and was feasting upon the limb of a female Throx. While the creature's exoskeleton was at times difficult to bite through, it was nevertheless a satisfying meal. But the down side of eating these creatures began to rear its ugly head as Djoland began to hear a series of clicks and cracks behind him. He turned around slowly, and saw standing before him on a nearby rock a male Throx in all its wretched six foot six splendor. Its single compound eye glared at him, and it's arm-like forelegs were outstretched, with claws deployed. As Djoland began to reach for his shotgun, the creature's head followed him. Realizing it was waiting for him to make the first move, he backed away, and decided to appease the creature.

“If it's consolation,” he began, “Your mate was delicious.”

The beast roared and jumped at him. Djoland grabbed his shotgun, but as the Throx hit him, his index finger fell on the trigger, and all seven barrels fired at once. The Throx knocked the weapon aside, bared its mandibles, and began to close in on Djoland's throat. Djoland raised his fist and brought it down on the creature's compound eye. The beast roared in pain, and Djoland dashed for his gun. As he frantically reloaded the weapon, his eyes briefly fell upon the exit of the cave, and an idea came to him.
He turned around, and saw the now recovered Throx charging at him. Djoland started to run towards the exit, and as soon as he felt that he was close enough to it, he faced the Throx. As it lunged at him, Djoland backed out of the way, and hit the foul thing with the butt of his shotgun. The Throx stumbled out of the cave, and collapsed. It stayed that way for about two seconds, before it picked itself up, and faced Djoland again. It was then that a foot about fifteen by forty four meters in size came down, and crushed the Throx.

“Damn it,” said a female voice. “Boss, the bugs are back.”

* * *

Elsewhere, an attractive young woman with red hair rifled through a menu. She was clad in a simple green tunic, a scandalously short skirt, and a pair of calf-high brown boots. Intense, violet eyes drifted from the menu to the floor when she heard the squishy sound of the Throx's demise. However, the creature's end was of little concern to Raquel and she quickly resumed browsing the appetizers. After all, this lady was a hundred feet tall, and a Throx, as fearsome as it was, had barely the mass of her big toe.

For that matter, so did her date for the evening (though one surmises that it would be more concerning to her if he was in the Throx's place). Sir Pixitatonolous Karmantocoth the 75th (“Pixis” to his friends) sat in the palm of the giantess' hand as they waited for the hostess to seat them. Ostensibly, he was up there so that he too could read the sample menu Raquel had taken from a nearby pile. But in truth, the handsome elf nobleman was finding the view of her tunic's plunging neckline to be of greater interest.

“The Decapitated Dragon?” Pixis asked Raquel, wisely averting his eyes before she became annoyed. “What kind of name for a restaurant is that?”

Raquel looked down at her hand held lover and said, “Mom said that she wanted a name that would get people's attention.”

“Well it has my attention. I'm just no sure it's in the way she intended.”

“Oh, Pixis,” Raquel sighed, and walked after the giant hostess.

Pixis, half-expecting a sleazy pub was astonished to see how classy and sophisticated the place was. The floor of the restaurant was polished, the waiters wore red and white suits that were easy on the eyes, but what really caught his attention was that a series of box seats were embedded in the walls, and connected to them was a series of ramps where other waiters, composed of humans and elves, navigated along.

“Say, Raquel?” Pixis asked nervously. “Did I happen to offend you earlier or something?”
Raquel just chuckled.

Djoland reluctantly stepped out to examine his fallen adversary. The Throx was a barely recognizable lump of broken flesh and colorless blood. The sound of footsteps returned. Djoland quickly jumped out of the way and hid behind a table leg. As the feet came down, he shivered when he imagined what those monstrous appendages might do to him. Just another reminder of the perilous home he had chosen for himself.

When he left his tribe, Dioland had certainly not set out to live in the walls of a restaurant in the giants' homeland. But as he wandered the kingdoms, his orcish nature was met with fear, hatred, and prejudice in every village. Angry mobs and squads of soldiers deterred him in his journey. He was pursued by bounty hunters and others who thought little of adding another dead orc to their tally of conquered foes. In defending himself, Djoland had been forced to kill and maim a few of his attackers, which largely defeated the purpose of leaving the violence of the orcish raid parties behind him.

Thus, when he came to the extinct volcano where the giants resided, it was a refreshing change to be simply ignored by the citizens. Here, he was below their notice, free to eke out an existence scavenging for food left behind by the restaurant's patrons. The only hitch would come if they ever discovered his presence, for surely he'd be seen as a pest the same as any Throx or other vermin of the giants' land.

Suddenly, an enchanting smell crept up Djoland's nose. He turned to the direction the smell came from and saw, sitting on a counter, what his kind called, “the mother of all meat.” Dragon ribs. His mouth began to water. Without thinking, he rushed into the open, dodging all incoming feet that threatened to make him one with the floor. He leaped onto the side of the counter and began to scale it.

Raquel set Pixis down in his box seat, and then took her seat at the table.

“So what do you think so far?” she asked.

“I like it,” he replied, “but I've got a question. How long have these box seats been here?”

“They're recent,” said Raquel, “We started getting news that humans and elves would visit us, so Mom had these installed. She even hired some Elven chefs.”

“I see,” said Pixis. “Looks it's been working out well.”

He then opened his menu, and three seconds later closed it.

“That was fast,” Raquel quipped.

“I'm just that easy to please, I guess,” Pixis replied. “And I have soft spot for noodles doused in sauce.”

“That's nothing,” said Raquel. “You've never tried the ribs.”

“Ribs?” he asked.

“Dragon ribs.”

“I'm not much of a meat eater,” Pixis replied.

“You're missing out on something,” Raquel persisted. “It is delicious to the point where its most likely unhealthy, and then there's the mashed potatoes that come with it. They are just-”

“Ahem,” a voice interrupted her.

The two lovers turned and saw two waiters, one a giant, the other an elf.

“I take it you know what want already?” The giant waiter asked Raquel.

She nodded, and said, “I'd also like some wine for us.”

“Which kind?”

“The best you have,” Raquel answered. The waiter nodded, and took her menu.

Pixis made his order to the other waiter, and the two attendants departed.

It took twenty minutes for Djoland to reach the top of the counter. The main drawback he kept encountering was the possibility of being spotted. After some planning though, he managed to get on the counter without being seen by anyone. Several slices of the meat were being placed on various plates. He approached the plate closest to him, and he charged at its meat, blind with hunger. Before he could of even bite it however, he found himself buried under a mound of mashed potatoes.

“Aw, bollocks,” the orc muttered. Or he would have, if not for the mass of potato in his mouth and the torrential downpour of gravy.

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