Crag didn’t know how to handle the guard job at what was referred to as a gentleman’s club. It was daylight out so there were few humans inside. The rhythmic music played throughout the room, louder than Crag preferred, but he wouldn’t complain. On the stages were female humans moving and gyrating in ways that made their male counterparts throw green floppy rectangles at them or slide under their garments. Crag wore one of the outfits Dionne had given him. He had a thin shirt beneath a thicker jacket. His leggings were smooth. His father taught him the importance of “ironing” which wasn’t as fun as forging axes might have been. His clothes weren’t armor grade, but they would do when he didn’t need to fight.
Crag moved toward one of the stages. One of the dancers was gyrating on the lap of a particularly large male human. He held in his hands some of the floppy rectangles. He grabbed one from his hand abruptly and sniffed it.
The dancer shrieked. “Hey! Asshole! That’s my loot!”
Crag ignored her as he studied the rectangle. It appeared to be made of tree skin and cloth and smelled like human sweat. The rectangle had symbols on it and Crag didn’t know what they meant. The human he snatched it from wore a top covering which interwove the black and red threads. Crag thought he may have heard the word ‘flannel’ come from someone. He didn’t know what that meant.
Crag extended to the furious dancer the handful of rectangles. “It is my job to protect you. Be careful of this human. He has struck a female recently.”
The male grunted and stood. “What are you trying to pull, pig face? I ain’t never hit no woman before.”
Crag grunted back. “Your rectangle says otherwise. I smelled her blood on it. You will not hit this female while I am around.”
The dancer moved between them. “Ain’t nothin’ going to happen. I’m just giving him a dance.” She turned to the human. “Just let it go. Sit down, I’ll give you a whole new song.”
Crag stepped back. His father instructed him not to get into fights with the humans of this realm. They were mostly soft and couldn’t comparably battle with orcs. Crag walked back towards Teej who stood next to the door. Teej had watched, but didn’t stop Crag.
Crag asked, “So, do the humans not have coins? It appears the green rectangles are their currency.”
Teej said, “You are correct. They do have coins, but the coins are worth less than the dollars.”
Crag nodded. Teej added, “Also, do not interrupt a dancer when she is working. This is how the females here acquire more currency. If the males do not have a pleasant experience they will not give them sufficient currency so the females can trade monthly for their dwellings.”
The song ended and a new one started. The large male walked, almost bowlegged towards Crag. His breath smelled of beer. Not a beer Crag was familiar with, but the scent reminded him of orcish beers he enjoyed in Cheeyeeglu. The male pushed Crag from behind.
“Hey! Asshole! I don’t beat women!”
The push barely registered with Crag, but he turned to face his challenger. Crag turned his head and leaned to get into the human’s face. “You should be careful. I am not supposed to strike the bar patrons, but I am not forbidden from it.”
“You gonna hit me?” the male hiccupped.
“Not if you walk away,” Crag responded.
The male tried to push Crag again, but slipped on spilled beer on the floor. Crag reached out. His outstretched hand was wide enough on the man’s chest that it supported him easily. The man caught his feet again and pushed Crag’s hand away. “Hey! Keep your hands off of me, pig face!”
“I was only trying to keep you from falling. Next time I will let you topple over.”
The human stood up face to face with man-beast, only a few inches shorter, but still not as wide. “You trying to say you’re better than me?”
Crag laughed. “I said nothing of the sort.”
“How about I beat ya ass, ya jerk?!”
Crag smirked. “You will need a small army.”
Crag sniffed the air. This man smelled like he had just bathed in beer. Crag added, “And less beer in your stomach.”
“That’s it!” The man swung his big fist striking Crag in the face. Crag moved with the force of the punch.
“Good hit!” Crag said happily and backhanded the man.
The man didn’t fly. He did however crash into a table a few feet away, upsetting a few other smaller males who had been ignoring them until now. They grew angry and looked for a culprit. After they saw the humongous orc standing over the fallen male, they looked at one another with apprehension and left.
Teej put a hand on Crag’s shoulder. “Chieftain, we cannot have this kind of interaction with the humans. We have to keep a low profile.”
Crag pointed. “This one struck me. I returned the favor.”
‘This one’ lay unconscious with his head leaning against a post.
Teej said, “You will not be dismissed from this position, but you have to be better at handling yourself when a human challenges you. Believe me, humans will challenge you.
Dionne entered the building behind Teej. The look on her face was of surprise and disappointment. “Hey TJ,” she said softly to Teej. She tilted her head as she looked at Crag. “What are you doing here?”
“Hello, woman,” Crag said. “I work here now. I am a guard.”
Dionne sighed. “This is a really bad idea. Teej, can I take Crag aside for a moment? I have something to talk with him about.”
Teej nodded without words. Dionne wrapped her hand around two of Crag’s fingers and lead him to the back. They stepped over the broken table. “Did you do this?” she asked accusingly.
“Yes,” Crag said proudly.
They reached a room where the music did not penetrate.
Dionne turned to Crag. “Okay, seriously, dude, what are you doing here?”
Crag said, “Seriously,” he paused. “ ‘Dude,’ this is how I am to fit in and acquire currency in your realm. Apparently, one cannot earn money killing enemies without running into your blue uniformed soldiers.”
Dionne sighed. “Okay, I can’t deal with this. A detective came to my house today asking questions about the man you killed.”
“The one who was attacking you?”
“Did you tell this detective the truth? He wanted to kill you and I cleaved his soul from his body.”
“Shhhhh! Don’t say that out loud! If anyone hears that, you could be arrested.”
“Let them try.”
Dionne put her hand on Crag’s expansive chest. “You don’t get it. They will either try to arrest you, or they will just kill you. Your skin is dark enough, they might just shoot you on sight if they know who you are. You have to lay low.”
“I am not an elf. I do not lay low.”
“You will if you want to make it back to your home eventually. You HAVE to survive Crag. You have to get home.”
“Why do you care?”
Dionne moved her hand from his warm chest and turned away. “I don’t. But you have a clan to lead, don’t you?”
Crag put a giant hand on her shoulder. “I appreciate your concern. I will do my best to ensure my safety, and yours too as you entertain these males.”
Dionne turned and Crag let his hand fall off of her shoulder. She said, “Thank you. I have to go get changed.”
Dionne left the room. Crag waited, then headed toward the main floor. Two blue clad soldiers stood talking with Teej. Crag saw them and stopped, just out of their eye range. He watched them, unused to hiding from his adversary, but on his honor to Dionne, he would not draw attention to himself.