The Passion of Barfenhaben


    *Disclaimer: Mature Themes


    It was a warm, rose-scented morning, when youthful Barfenhaben the Timid set up his grocery stand in the town square. This was his first day running a stand, and he put out his products out anxiously. He scanned the orange-red sunlit area, spying some roaming chickens and hearing the caws of the carrion-birds above, awaiting customers. Far to his left he saw another grocer, a Nordess, selling baked goods. “Good morning,” he waved. The Nordess made a face of disgust and tried her hardest to look in every direction except Barfenhaben’s for the rest of the day.

    Barfenhaben the Timid didn’t quite fit in. His skin was dark green, and his tusks were long. Barfenhaben was an Orc, and the Nord locals didn’t enjoy his Orcish presence. He turned his attention elsewhere. “Good morning, indeed.” A lone tear welled up in his eye, which he quickly brushed away.

    The morning went by, and he had not a single customer. Dozens of Nords rushed past his stand, and he only took one break. Barfenhaben, perspiring in the midday heat, looked to his left and saw the Nordess selling her products rapid fire. There was a line with at least ten people in it, too. Barfenhaben looked at his groceries laying there, wasting away. He shrugged it off and said, “Maybe they already have everything I’m selling.” He looked to his left again and saw that the line at the Nordess’s stand had doubled.

    Barfenhaben deflated, accepting his failure, when a jolly Nord with a beard that was brown on the left side and blonde on the right appeared in front of him and said, “Good afternoon!” Barfenhaben stood up straight like he got spanked and, overjoyed, showed the Nord a tusky smile. “Hi there, what can I do for you?”

    “I wanted two heads of cabbage, please.”

    “Certainly. That will be six Septims.”

    “Six? That’s quite the bargain.” The Nord dropped down six Septims and went off with his cabbages.

    Grinning like a demon, Barfenhaben let the coins fall through his fingers into his coin jar with loud clinks. He looked to his left and saw the Nordess staring at him, mouth agape. He just winked at her.

    Barfenhaben took another peek at the Septims and did a double take. Realizing his mistake, he cursed under his breath. He yelled at his customer now 30 yards away and about to turn a corner, “Excuse -- excuse me, sir! Could you come back here please?!”

    The customer, thankfully, did turn around, with his face wearing an expression of surprise. He meandered up to the stand and awaited Barfenhaben’s explanation.

    “You see,” Barfenhaben nervously laughed, “when I said six Septims, I meant six Septims each.”

    The customer looked disgusted. “What? You tell me to pay something, and I’ll pay it. But I already paid. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have somewhere to be.”

    Crushed, Barfenhaben muttered, “Have a good day.”

    The customer waltzed off, shaking his head. Then he stopped dead in his tracks. Barfenhaben was looking at the ground, mulling over his mistake when the customer marched up and started yelling at him. “You really tried to sell me this? You filthy slob. Don’t you have any standards, any sense of ethics?”

    Barfenhaben felt nauseous. “What’s wrong? What happened?”

    “Take a look at this.” The customer pointed to a smear on one of the cabbage heads. Mud. He shoved it in the Orc’s face and said, “Smell.”

    Barfenhaben went pale as he realized it was not mud. He let out a weak apology. His shaking hand grabbed the six Septims from his coin jar and he tried to drop them in the Nord’s hand, but the Nord recoiled with a grunt, and the coins fell on the ground.

    The Nord then turned his back and stormed off. But before he turned the corner 30 yards ahead, he faced Barfenhaben one last time and gutturally yelled, “You nasty. Fucking. ORC!” Each word was like a slap to the face to poor Barfenhaben.

    Quivering, he put up his products so he could leave the nightmare. He looked up and saw that everyone in the square was staring right at him, all mean faces. He looked right, then left. And on the left he saw the Nordess, and she was trying to hold back laughter.

    Barfenhaben wanted to hide under the stand. He never felt more embarrassed, more see-through, more terror-stricken than now. He never should have opened up a stand, he thought. He should’ve stayed home and hung himself, he thought.




    Barfenhaben wanted out, and he wanted away. So he ran out the front gate, unarmed even. His shirt was asphyxiating in the heat, so he tore it off. The overstimulated Orc ran hard, growling. Any man who saw him would surely be frightened upon sight, and the guards took a fearful step back as he blew past them. He moved like a large boar, a green force of nature.

    Once he had left the stone walls of the city, he tore off his shoes. Then he began to run again, aiming for the trees. The uneven cobbles beneath his feet turned to blades of grass, and soon he was in the shade of the woods.

    Now deep in the wilderness, he was totally out of breath, and he leaned against a rough, gnarled tree. The setting sun sent soft orange rays of light through cracks in the green leaves. Up above, birds were tweeting lullabies. The earthy smell of the forest tranquilized him, and he sank to the ground, closing his eyes. He fell into a deep slumber.

    He awoke instinctually to the feeling of being watched. It was dark and quiet, but before him stood a man in robes outlined by the yellow moonlight, face hidden in the shadows. Barfenhaben began to arise, but the man’s haunting voice sent him back down, “Orc, wanderlust, don’t move, but listen to what I have to say.” Barfenhaben was afraid, and he wished he was carrying a weapon. “I sensed your raw energy. You see, I’m a mage. My name in Rune. I help those who are lost in their emotion. I can help you.” The man outstretched his pale, slender hand.

    Barfenhaben didn’t know what to think, other than that this was suspicious, though the man appeared unarmed. However, think and feel are two different things. Barfenhaben felt that he should go with this man, Rune. Maybe it was Rune’s enchanting voice that compelled Barfenhaben to embrace his outstretched hand. Whatever the case, Barfenhaben was led by Rune through the inky forest.

    Barfenhaben didn't know where he was going. Although he had just met this man, no one before had tried to help him, ever. No one had once offered to help him up off of the ground. Growing up like he did, an orphan, a nomad since he was a child, he was always hated and beaten down. Even other Orcs spurned him; they spurned him worse than the other races, for he had no ties to any clan and grew up in the culture of the other races. Although the night was cold, Barfenhaben’s chest felt warm.

        Soon, the pair had reached a large log cabin, with red lights shining out of the windows. Rune opened the door, and Barfenhaben walked inside.

        The cabin smelled heavily of incense and smoked meat. It was decorated redly, with a royal red rug, drapes, candles, and several hooded men in red robes that sat upon crimson couches. They stood up, and Barfenhaben started to feel afraid, but they spoke in unison, “Welcome, friend,” and they pulled down their cowls. They formed a line and began to introduce themselves to the bewildered Barfenhaben.

        An Argonian hissed, “I’m Lashes-In-Anger.”

        Barfenhaben responded with his name. They shook hands, green scales against green flesh.

        A Khajiit purred, “Abby is what they call this one.” He winked.

        A Wood Elf chirped, “Frinion.”

        An Imperial stated, “Sextonious. Nice to meet you, Barfenhaben.”

        A Breton related, “I am Lucius, fifth cousin of the king of Stormhaven.”

        Barfenhaben turned around and looked at the unhooded Rune, a red-headed Nord. Rune smiled, “This is our family; is it not grand?” Barfenhaben looked around at the diverse group of smiling faces and thought that it was, indeed, grand. He nodded. Rune said in his mesmerizing voice, “Okay then! Let’s eat.” He led everyone into another room, similarly red, with a table full of food, worthy of a king’s feast.

        They all sat down and started eating. Barfenhaben consumed a large turkey leg that was salty, juicy, and savory. There was a number of bottles of red wine on the table, and he poured himself a drink.

        Rune nibbling on pickled skeever tail, asked Barfenhaben on what he thought of the food.

        “It is incredible,” he replied “, I’ve never had anything like this before.”

        Abby added, “Yes, this one, too, compliments the chef. This is food worthy of our great patriarch.”

        Sextonius said, “Happy to serve.”

        Barfenhaben spoke up, “Patriarch? Do you mean Rune?”

        Lucius answered, “Not that Rune you see before you. Our patriarch is much more noble than that Rune.” He turned toward Rune, “No offense.”

        “None taken,” responded Rune. Rune looked at Barfenhaben. “You see, we worship one called Mehrunes. Mehrunes Dagon.”

        Barfenhaben squirmed in his seat.

        Rune continued, “I told you in the forest that I sensed your emotion, your rage, and that was how I located you. Mehrunes Dagon values the pure passion that you possess. And if Dagon values you, we value you. We can teach you how to master your rage.”

        Barfenhaben scanned the faces that loomed in front of him like gargoyles. “What does that mean?”

        Lashes-In-Anger stood up and flicked his tail. “It means you can join us. Are you dumb?”

        Frinion interjected, “That’s if he proves himself.”

        Rune sighed, “Lashes-In-Anger, enough.” The Argonian sat down begrudgingly. Rune went on, “We can discuss this matter after the meal.” With the glorious feast ended, Rune proceeded to tell Barfenhaben of the initiation ritual and held out a strange dagger. “It’s simple. Go back to your hometown, take this dagger, Mehrunes’ Razor, and murder the one who sparks the most anger within you. We will send someone to escort you back here once you finish. You can leave right now.”

        Barfenhaben stuttered in reply, “I don’t know if I can go through with this. Isn’t this a little much? What if I get hurt?”

        Rune began to grimace hideously, “If you can’t go through with the initiation, then we have to take you out.”

        Lashes-In-Anger hissed and he slammed his tail on the ground.

        Sextonious cracked his knuckles.

        Abby bared his teeth and growled.

        Frinion sharpened his filed fangs.

        Lucius pulled out a dagger and cleaned under his nails.

        Rune extended his hand, “So take this dagger and go.”

        “But I don’t even know where we are.”





        Still bare chested, Barfenhaben went out into the woods and was hit in the head from behind, knocking him out cold. This was the one way the cultists could be sure their location would be kept safe. Sextonious carried the limp body out to the edge of the woods near the city, and returned to the cabin. Abby, however, was sent to ghost the new recruit.

        Barfenhaben awoke with a splitting headache, which wasn’t helped by the glaring afternoon sun. He averted his eyes from the yellow light, and felt around his belt. The dagger was there; sadly, it really hadn’t all been a nightmare. He was nervous. Could he go through with it? He palmed the strange dagger, Mehrunes’ Razor, and took a deep breath.

        Head throbbing, Barfenhaben arose and slowly made his way up the smooth cobblestone path to the gate. The guards recognized him, and, even more begrudgingly than usual, let him through.

        Barfenhaben stood in the entrance for a while, hyping himself up. Doubts arose. He figured that he was getting shadowed based on their threats, so he couldn’t just run away if he had wanted (and Abby was indeed spying on him from a shadowed corner). He could live a good life in that cabin, and they could teach him how to harness his rage. It’s not like he had a choice if one of the two choices lead directly to death.

        The initiation was to kill the one who enraged him the most, and Barfenhaben knew exactly who that was: his first ‘customer’. So he scoured the busy streets, looking for a Nord with a half brown, half blonde beard.

    He stopped as he came upon the edge of the square where the fateful incident had occurred only a couple days before. He snooped around the perimeter, as he couldn’t stomach the thought of strolling through there ever again. On his border walk, he came across that Nordess who sold baked goods, talking to someone, a friend, perhaps. He hid behind some rose bushes and eavesdropped.

        The friend chattered on and on, then the Nordess did the same. All the while Barfenhaben kept scanning for his target, and not finding him. Abby waited in the shadows with interest.

        The Nordess started chortling like a maniac, and her friend did a high-pitched squeal.

        Her friend screamed, “Tell me the Orc story again! C’mon!”

        The Nordess tried to hold it together. She explained how she wiped chicken feces on Barfenhaben’s produce when he went on a break.

        Barfenhaben’s heart flew into his throat and he started choking. Then his shock began to boil. As realization washed over him, he became angry. That whore, he thought. I wanted to kill myself, and she’s laughing at me. She’s fucking laughing. He hated her from the very bottom of his heart. His breathing went heavy.

    Barfenhaben leaped from the bush, bare chested, brandishing Mehrunes’ Razor, and screamed. Tears rolling down his flushed face, all he saw was red, and he barrelled toward the screaming Nordess. He felt nothing, he saw nothing, but pure, red anger. The Nordess was being eviscerated by the Razor, sending blood all over the cobblestones. He stabbed her neck until it was removed from her body and raised it above his head and let out a soul-shaking bellow that violated the ears of everyone in the city. The carrion-birds responded with their cries.

        Barfenhaben collapsed on the ground in a ring of blood. No one was watching, except Abby. Abby grabbed Barfenhaben, Vessel of Dagon, and stole out of the city.




        Barfenhaben awoke, feeling half-dead, in a candlelit-room at the cabin of the cultists, in a red bed. At his side was the red-haired Nord, Rune. He put his slender hand on Barfenhaben’s brow and said, “You did very good. Mehrunes Dagon is very proud of you. We all are.”

        Barfenhaben let out a wail and gut-wrenchingly sobbed on the bed. “I know,” Rune said, “I know.” After a while, Barfenhaben fell back into a deep sleep. Rune got up and smiled, “You’re one of us now.”

        Abby was in the other room, excitedly recounting the story to his peers.

        He said, “This one thinks we have found the goldmine. His passion shook even Abby.”

        Lashes-In-Anger hisses, “I’ll show you passion, Abby.” He stood up and threw a glass, shattering it on the wall.

        Lucius yells, “Moron! That glass was worth more than your entire life.”

        Frinion states, “Lucius, you’re the least valuable person here.”

        Rune walked in. “Keep. It. Down. Barfenhaben will be an incredible asset to us. However, we need him to heal.”

        Sextonious said, “How long until he’s healthy?”

        Rune replied, “Not long. You doubt my power?”

        Everyone else responded unanimously, “Yes.”

        Laughing, Rune shouts, waking up Barfenhaben, “Okay. Who then will challenge me?!”

        In the other room, Barfenhaben heard the shouting continue, and eventually he heard glass shattering, wood splintering, and the smell of burning. He got off of the bed, dressed in the red robes of the Mehrunes Dagon cultists.

        On the other side of the room was a dresser, upon which was the Razor. Barfenhaben grabbed it and walked into the main room.

        Rune was standing on top of the charred, broken corpses of Lashes-In-Anger, Sextonius, Frinion, Abby, and Lucius. “Ah, Barfenhaben, how are you feeling? Oh, this mess? It was an argument that spiraled into madness. We will recover. What’s the matter?”

        Barfenhaben walked up to Rune and pushed the Razor through his heart. Rune’s mouth filled with blood as he let out a gurgling scream, and he fell to his knees. Barfenhaben walked out of the cabin as Rune kneeled there in his blood and the blood of his friends.

        The cultists didn’t know pain or anger like Barfenhaben knew it. They weren’t spurned from birth, they weren’t misunderstood and tormented since childhood. They weren’t ugly. They were petty egomaniacs who bullied others into joining their vile cult.

    The husk of Barfenhaben slit his wrists in the dark solitude of the wilderness, with no loved ones, no friends, and no soul.


3 Comments   |   SpookyBorn2021 and 1 other like this.
  • Delta
    Delta   ·  May 21, 2019
    Has a very oral tradition like feel. I would like to get back to analysing it properly later.
  • SpookyBorn2021
    SpookyBorn2021   ·  May 21, 2019
    That was a really interesting story, I sort of like the idea of an Orc in normal society and how they probably would be treated realistically, and you hit some interesting points like his relationship with other Orcs. That and the Dagon Cult was really fa...  more
    • Gollum
      That was a really interesting story, I sort of like the idea of an Orc in normal society and how they probably would be treated realistically, and you hit some interesting points like his relationship with other Orcs. That and the Dagon Cult was really fa...  more
        ·  May 22, 2019
      I couldn't decide whether to go with Dagon or Malacath. Malacath seemed to fit well, but I didn't really know where to go with him. Dagon meshed well with the theme of anger.

      Glad you liked the ending, I had some doubts about it, but...  more