What you need to know: Arianna, a human princess, stumbles across a room in which an orc, Bolthorn, is trapped inside a mirror as her father's prisoner and by accident, realizes she can free him. They strike up a... well, uneasy alliance, I suppose. At first. You should also probably know that Arianna uses "Of course" the way some women today abuse the word "Fine."
If he never heard her say those words again it would be too soon. Of course. It was a curse from her lips, a judgment of his worth, and he had no doubt she found him lacking. Could she not believe for a moment that he cared for her, even when he felt her suffering as his own?
He clenched his jaw. “If you cannot trust me, princess, this journey will be a hardship for more reason than your wounds.”
“You ask too much,” she said, stiffening.
“I ask only for you to see me as I am,” he said, rising from the floor where he had knelt. “I am not your king or any of his lords. I am orc, sworn to your protection, sworn to serve my people.”
“Yes,” she said. “Two oaths at cross-purpose. I am not a fool to mistake where your loyalties must lie.”
So this was the heart of it. “My loyalties must lie with you in equal measure, it is the choice I made when I offered you sanctuary behind the glass. I do not regret it.”
“And when you do?”
“That day will never come.” He stepped toward her, glad to see she did not shrink back, and caught her hand, pressing his thumb to the cut across her palm. “I am not human, to betray you so easily, princess. I am orc, and our bargain has been struck in blood. There is no going back now, not until my death. That is the bond between us!”
Her lips moved without sound, her eyes wide upon her hand, then his chest where he had pressed her bleeding palm, mixing their blood together.
“We move forward together,” he said, gentling his hold upon her hand. “Or not at all.”
And now, I am back to it!