I am Garg. I am strong. I am strong because I am Ogre. No-one in the forest is stronger than me. When I was young, the old Ogres make the rules, hit me when I don’t follow. Now I am older. I make rules. I go where I want. I eat what I want. I take what I want.
One day, I find something I want. Pretty pink-skin sharpclub. Bright stones on short round end, and long sharp end shimmers like pond water. I want, so I take. Little hard-shelled pink-skins have come to my forest with sharpclubs before, long time ago. They smarter than others. They know that they can’t hit stronger, so they need to hit better. I am going to use pretty sharpclub to hit stronger AND better. I am looking forward to using sharpclub to hit.
I am not expecting sharpclub to hit me.
Sharpclub is alive. Sharpclub is angry. It does not want what I want, and so it hits me. I have been hit before. I am strong so I can take hits. But it hits my mind, and I do not know how to hit back. For the first time in long, long time… I submit. Sharpclub is strong. Sharpclub makes rules now.
Sharpclub tells me what to do. Sharpclub makes me stop fighting others in forest. Makes me give up land. I do not want to, but Sharpclub makes rules now. I am not strong now. Eventually, Sharpclub stops being angry at me and starts being curious.
Sharpclub tells me her name. She is Moonslicer, made by pink-skin shamans for pink-skin warriors. I understand this. She was made to kill pink-skin enemies. But I am pink-skin enemy. She does not kill me. I do not understand this.
One day, while eating dinner, I ask Moonslicer. “Why do you not kill me?”
“I don’t understand your question,” Moonslicer replies.
“You are pink-skin sharpclub,”
“Greatsword,” Moonslicer interrupts.
“and you are made to fight pink-skin enemies.”
“I was made to destroy evil,” Moonslicer answers. She always talks in strange riddles. I have become used to this.
“Yes, evil. I know this word. It means pink-skin enemy. I am pink-skin enemy. I am evil. Why do you not destroy me?”
Moonslicer does not answer for long time.
“You are… “pink-skin enemy”, yes. And most people would say you are evil… but I am not sure. I expected you to fight me, but you didn’t. I expected you to resist when I told you to stop bullying the other creatures of the forest, but you didn’t."
“Moonslicer is stronger than Garg, so Moonslicer makes rules.”
“All the same… I think there might be some good in you, somewhere.”
“…what is Good?” I ask.
“Good is…” Moonslicer stops talking. I can feel she is confused. “Good is… how to describe it? It is…” She stops again. She is quiet for a long time. “You know, I believe the best way to explain it is to show you. Go to sleep Garg. Tomorrow, we will start doing Good.”
Next day, Moonslicer leads me to pink-skin home, in the middle of fields. No pink-skins there right now. She shows me broken walls. Tells me to take stones and fix walls. Then we leave. I do not understand.
“Why do we fix walls?” I ask.
“Those walls protect the humans from harm,” Moonslicer says. “They have been torn down by raiders over the years. By repairing the walls, you have made the humans more safe. More strong.”
“Why do I make them safe?” I ask. “I am pink-skin enemy. I do not want them to be strong.”
“Patience, Garg,” Moonslicer says. “Have patience and faith. You will understand eventually.”
I do not believe her, but I say nothing. This does not make sense. This is pink-skin strangeness.
For the next two seasons, Moonslicer keeps sending me out to pink-skin lands. Fixing walls. Catching cows and taking them back to paddocks without eating them. Sometimes she makes me scare humans on roads. Sometimes she makes me hide from humans on roads. She calls the ones I scare “bandits” and the ones I hide from “merchants”. I do not understand the difference.
“The merchants are weaker humans,” Moonslicer says. “The bandits are stronger, and want to take from the merchants. You are driving them away from the roads so that they do not take from the merchants anymore.”
“This makes sense” I say. “They are stronger, they take what they want. But why do you make me scare them so they cannot?”
“Because it is not good for the strong to take what they want from the weak.”
“This Good does not make sense. I will never understand”
“You will understand” Moonslicer says. “Have faith.”
For many more seasons, Moonslicer makes me do many things I do not understand. Eventually pink-skins… humans… start to see me. At first they are afraid. I understand this. But they slowly become less afraid. They no longer run when they see me. I do not understand this. I dig long ditches from the river to their farms. I build walls along their roads. I bring large sacks of food to their towns and leave them there.
One season, there is a great storm. Moonslicer wakes me during the night, urges me to leave the cave and go to the human lands. There is a town I have been near many times before. The river that flows through the village is flooding. The humans are splashing, shouting, drowning. They are scared. Moonslicer sends me through the flood to their homes. I lift humans from the water and put them at the top of the homes. I do this again, and again. I am tired, but Moonslicer pushes me on. I save more humans, I wade through the water that is up to my chest. I save the male humans, the female humans, the young humans, the old humans. I save all of them. When the dawn comes and the water goes down, I am more tired than I have ever been. I sink to my knees. I know the humans will kill me while I am asleep but I am too tired to get away. I fall asleep.
I wake up. I am not wet, cold or tired. I am warm, dry, resting on something soft and comfortable. I recognize it as a human barn – I have brought escaped horses to these before. I am covered in many skins. I am lying in dried grass – the humans call it hay.
A male human comes in. He sees I am awake. He does not run or look scared. Instead he smiles. He brings a large bundle up to me. The bundle has meat in it. Good, cooked meat. Better than I’ve ever tasted. I watch him carefully, but I am hungry and I concentrate on eating. Once I am done, he takes the bones and the bundle away.
The day goes by, and many humans come to the barn. Some hide by the door and only stare at me. Others come in. I recognize many of them as the humans I saved last night. I am still tired, so I lie in the barn. I feel… I do not know how to describe it. The humans do not threaten me, but not because I am stronger. Finally, in the evening, many humans come to the barn. They bring Moonslicer with them.
“I have been negotiating with the humans on your behalf,” she says. “They are going to give you this barn to live in as a new home. They will give you food, while you keep the roads safe from bandits and help them tend their flocks and fix their buildings. I will stay with you to guide you.”
I am quiet for a long time.
“I do not understand.” I say. “If I was strong, and I came to take these things, they would not give them to me. They would run, or fight.”
“But you didn’t come to take them,” Moonslicer replied. “And that is what makes the difference. You have made the humans’ homes safe. You have protected their merchants. You have rescued their animals. And now you have saved their lives. And because you gave and gave and did not take, they now want to give to you, freely. And as long as you do not wish to take, you will receive. By serving them, you are now more free than you ever were in the forest. Not because you are strong. But because you are a friend. They are your strength now, and you are theirs. This is what Good is.”
And I understand.