"Listen. Until I get a satisfying answer, I will keeping counting. Every time I add a number I will kill one of them here," Anfey said coldly, then turned. "Suzanna, I trust you with this."
Suzanna hesitated, but then nodded and jumped down from the platform, unsheathing her sword.
The orcs erupted into chaos. Anfey called out, "Christian, kill everyone that is causing the commotion."
Christian drew in a breath and began whispering a spell. The air was filled with magical surges, which effectively silenced all the orcs.
Christian was, in fact, against the idea of harming their captives. If it wasn’t Anfey’s order, he would have objected, but now his hands were tied. No matter what he thought, he didn’t want to call Anfey out publicly for it. It was not in his best interest to ruin his relationship with him. He figured he would find Anfey privately afterwards and talk about it.
"Sir!" one of the elders to the left cried out, "why are you doing this? We really did come from the south."
"One," Anfey said coldly.
Suzanna raised her sword, and one of the injured orcs was dead before he could even scream, his blood splattering all over the ground. The orcs let out a scream, but then quickly covered their mouths with their hands to stifle the scream. Anfey had said anyone who caused commotion would be killed as well.
"Sir! We are innocent, we don’t know anything!"
"Two!" Anfey, in the end, was a cold person and cared not for pleas. Suzanna cut down another orc, the metallic scent of blood intensified.
Suzanna waved her sword and ended another orc’s life. So far, all she had killed were men, since she couldn’t bring herself to kill any of the women or children.
"You demon!" the elder cursed, lurching towards him.
Anfey kicked the elder and the latter grunted and fell to the ground. "Four," he called.
Anfey counted all the way to ten, and the elder’s eyes were already glassed over. He stared at the roof of the cave blankly, but he didn’t show signs of telling the truth, either. The other elder had appeared stubborn from the beginning, and so Anfey didn’t pay him much attention.
There were already ten orcs lying on the ground, dead. Suzanna was not a good executioner. She was not systematic, and the way she killed the orcs varied from orc to orc. If she had killed them in battle, no one would have paid any attention, but now her targets were orcs waiting for death, and the message she conveyed was completely different.
Anfey thought about the situation for a moment, and stood up slowly. "You see," he said, "your elders have abandoned you, they want to trade your lives for their secrets!"
The orcs exchanged looks, and the despair spreaded out in the room, some even began sobbing.
"But, I realize how unfair it is for them alone to decide your fates," Anfey said, smiling. "I am giving you all a chance."
All the eyes were suddenly on Anfey. He waited for a moment before continuing. "I will ask you some questions. Whoever answers can leave, and my men will not stop him. Of course, whoever has lied will die, and the one exposing him will live. I only have a few questions."
"The first one: Where were you three years ago?"
A female orc stood up before he even finished. "I know, I know," she screamed. "We were in the Stone Forest in the Forest of Death."
"Good. You’re free to go. Second one: Where were you a year ago?"
"I know!" another woman with a child screamed. "We were in the same place."
"Good. You’re free too."
"Sir," she said timidly. "Can I give the chance to my child?"
"Be my guest," Anfey said amicably.
The woman walked over to the first woman, and handed her child to her. She looked at her child for a few moments before whispering a few words to the first woman and returning.
"The third question: Six months ago…"
"I know, sir! You’re asking where we were then, right?" the woman jumped up and asked.
Anfey hesitated before smiling, and said, "Yes. Do you have an answer?"
"We were here six months ago," the woman said.
"Great. You are free to go," Anfey nodded.
The woman cheered and dashed towards the first woman. She held her child to her chest and embraced him tightly, tears streaming down her face. They had only separated for a few moments, but her joy was enough to put all the rest of the orcs on high alert. They stared at Anfey, waiting for his next question. Sure, their chance of living would mean their friends’ deaths, but by then no one cared much.
"The next one: Why did you come here?"
"For a sanctuary, a safe place!"
"I know, sir! For a safe place!"
"A sanctuary! Sir, I answered first, I did!"
An old orc and two women stood up simultaneously and shouted out.
"Bastards!" the elder screamed in anger. "You’re betraying your ancestors? The mighty Beast God will not forgive you! Do you want your soul to toil…"
Before he could finish, Anfey kicked him across his chest, and he fell to the ground and was silent.
The three orcs hesitated, and dashed to the front, screaming, "Sir, I answered first!"
At first they argued in human language, then slowly they regressed into their native tongue.
"Silent!" Anfey called. "You all answered correctly, but one answer can only redeem one person. I will give you another question." The three orcs stared at him, nervous.
"Where is the sanctuary?"
"With them!" the older orc said.
The two women jumped up, agitated, staring at the old orc with hatred and anger. Had Anfey allowed infighting, surely they would be fighting each other by now.
"On the elders?" Anfey asked, surprised. He had expected their sanctuary to be a place.
"Alright, you may go." He turned towards the two women and said, "You may answer the next question. Can you find it?"
"Yes!" the women called out at the same time.
"Alright," Anfey said, smiling, and pointed to the elders. "Go find it. Whoever finds it first can go."
The two rushed onto the platform, and each picked one of the elders.
"Bastards! You…" the elder cursed angrily.
The woman was angry as well, and did not hesitate as she struck the old man in the face. Seeing their people slowly slaughtered and the elders’ stubbornness, the orcs had came to resent the elders. They didn’t dare to fight with Anfey, so the weaker elders became their targets of rage.
"You..." the elder stared, his eyes filled with anger and disbelief.
The woman struck him again, the elder fell backwards and passed out on the ground.
The women began searching carefully. After a few minutes, one of the woman stood up and handed a piece of red stone with strange carving to Anfey. "I found it," she cried. "I found it, sir!"
The other woman sank to the ground and began sobbing. She had missed two chances at life, and was devastated.
Anfey took the red stone. "Alright," he said after a few moments. "Since you both tried, I will spare both of you." Anfey had killed many people, but that was because he needed to survive. Killing without reason would make him a butcher. He wasn’t a good man, but he was far from that. He had received what he wanted, and he decided to show mercy.
The woman on the ground stopped her tears in shock. After a few moments, she stood up and ran down the platform, smiling, glad that she had earn a chance at life.
"One more question," Anfey said. He picked up the elder’s staff from the ground and tossed it down. "The first person to grab this has the right to answer. Now, how many orcs were present at the Stone Forest?"
The rest of the orcs rushed forward, and a young woman was the one to pick up the staff. Before she could run up the stairs, the other orcs dragged her down. It was so chaotic Suzanna had to step in and organize them. After the orcs were driven back, the woman was bleeding, but her mind was still intact. "I got it," she cried. "I did."
"Alright. You may answer."
"Umm, there were…" the woman lowered her head and began counting. After a few moments, however, she was still struggling to grasp the exact number.
"A thousand?" Anfey realized that she may be lacking in the mathematics, and wanted to help her.
"No, sir, not that many."
"No, sir, no, not that many," the woman said.
"Really?" Anfey asked. "What about twenty?"
"Um…" the woman began counting again.
"Fine, fine," Anfey sighed. "You may go." He would save more time if he just let her go. Who knew how long it would take if he had waited for her to finish. "One last question. What is the usage of this?"
As the orcs dove for the staff, Christian turned to Anfey. "There’s no use asking them that," he said. "I don’t think they would know. Let me see that."
Anfey glanced at Christian and handed him the red stone.