He walked through the town's main street and felt everyone looking at him. They didn't like his kind in these parts and he knew it. It wasn't just the color of his skin, it was what it stood for to them. In their ass-backwards minds, he was inherently aggressive, simple-minded and difficult to control. Old ideas that had never been relevant.
It didn't matter that he was of mixed race. The part of him that wasn't like them was the only part they really saw. And they hated it.
Eyes followed him with suspicion, kids were ushered inside with hushed voices. A group of men spit in the street as he passed.
All he needed was some supplies and he'd be on his way. He didn't need to talk to anyone but the shopkeeper, and even that could be limited to a few words and nothing more.
He spotted the general store in the distance, but also a group of men standing in between him and the store's entrance.
He walked up to them and dropped his bag on the ground. Dust shot up and settled on his legs and duffel bag.
"What're you doing here, beast man?" one man spat in his direction.
"Just getting some supplies, don't want no trouble," he responded as calmly and polite as possible.
"You know this is a human town, right?"
"I do. I'm not here because I want to."
"So, again, why are you here?" another man joined in.
"I lost my rations while crossing the river. I need to purchase some rations and rope."
"Oh, we got some rope for ya, son!" a snaggle-toothed, crooked old man shouted from a balcony, shaking his feeble fist at him.
"I got no problems with you. Just let me buy my gear and I'll be gone before you know it."
The men looked at each other, then back at him with disgust. They seemed to be sizing him up. Given that he was easily 2 feet taller than the tallest of them, the man who'd spoken first nodded.
"You've got 30 minutes. Then, we want you walking your green ass out of town."
He simply nodded and grabbed his duffel bag.
"I can live with that."
He walked past them, giving them a wide berth and keeping his eyes on them. They watched him pass but didn't move. They kept watching him as he walked into the general store.
There was a woman behind the counter, and she smiled as he walked in.
"Hello there, they giving you trouble?"
"Guess my kind isn't welcome here."
"Some people are just old-fashioned, set in their ways. Even if those are the wrong ways. So, what'll it be?"
"I'll take some standard rations for the road and some sturdy rope if you have it. Oh, also, do you happen to have a new water skin? Mine's up for replacing."
"I do, and I'll get it for you now," she said as she ducked behind a curtain, into what he presumed was the storage room.
He smiled and considered just how different some of these humans were. Some couldn't let bygones be bygones, and others seemed to accept that the war was over. They were supposed to be equals now, living together and building a better future for everyone.
The woman came back and put a nice-looking water skin on the counter. She grabbed a bag full of rations and a length of rope and put it next to the water skin.
"There you go."
"How much will that be?"
"Oh, honey, it's free for you."
He was stunned.
"I happen to have a bit of orc in me as well," she said as she winked. She lifted her hat and he could see her pointy ears, a slight green tint towards the tips. He laughed. "We orcs, we gotta stick together", right?" she said with a grin.
"That we do. Thank you very much," he said as he grabbed the gear.
He nodded and turned around to leave. Before he went through the door, he turned around.
"I'm going to Sandworth. It's becoming quite the orc settlement. If you're ever sick of these racists, come join us there. You wouldn't have to hide your ears anymore."
"Thanks. I'll keep that in mind, if I ever do get sick of this place. But there's more orcs coming through town recently than before. I assume they're on their way to Sandworth, and I'd like to be here to welcome them."
He smiled and nodded. That was a good reason to stay. He stepped outside, where the men were still waiting for him.
"You done here?" they snarled at him.
"I'm done here," he responded as he swung his duffel bag over his shoulder and started making his way out of town.
One day, orcs and humans would get along.
But he had a feeling it might take longer than it had any right to.