There was a soft knocking on the Warlord's
tent and a skinny goblin poked his head in.
"Lieutenant Watharkhan is here as you instructed, sir," he said.
"Send him in," the big orc Warlord growled.
A slightly smaller but none the less large orc entered and ripped off a salute. His battle worn armour showed the emblem of the Long Toof orcs; two boar teeth fastened to his broad chest.
"Here as instructed, sir."
The orc Warlord raised his great bulk from what had once been a dwarf throne and walked over to the lieutenant; his seven foot hieght dwarfing his underling by a good eight inches. He showed his teeth in what might have been a smile.
"So, Lieutenant, have you ever heard of a place called Morkheim."
Watharkjan scratched his crotch thoughtfully.
"Can't say I have, sir. Human city is it?"
"Ya got it." The Warlord showed more teeth. "We intercepted a dwarf messenger yesterday and he had a bunch of letters telling of this place. Apparently the streets there are paved with gold and it's raining booze."
"Then how did they get the dwarf to leave the place to bring the letters to the other stunties?" Watharkhan wondered.
The Warlord bellowed with laughter and slapped Watharkhan on the back, but the lieutenant was ready for it and managed to remain on his feet.
"Good 'un, Watharkhan. Now, what we wants ya to do is to assamble an elite team of crack commandos and recce this place. Maybe there's something there for us orcs. Ya'll leave in the morning. Dismissed"
The great orc turned around and walked back to his desk, a trophy from an Empire lord's castle with the blood of it's former owner still showing. Watharkhan went off in search of troops.
It was later in the afternoon when the orc
"Sir, beg to report that I have assembled the team, sir."
"Good, Lieutantant," the Warlord replied. "Let's 'ave a look at 'em."
Watharkhan followed the Warlord as he strode out into the camp.
"Where?" The Warlord asked.
Lieutenant Watharkhan pointed to a heap of semi-consious wood elves, bearing glazed smiles and smoking long stemmed pipes. The bore mild bruises but were not not tied in any way.
"There," he said.
The Warlord's brow furrowed under the brim of his helmet.
"What do you call these, then? They don't look like elite orc warriors to us. What are ya playing at, Lieutenant?"
"Sorry, sir, but these were the closest thing to crack commandos I could find. Look at what they're smoking. I found them hanging out in a tree over in the forest. They look like waywatchers, sir. Isn't that what you wanted?"
The Lieutenant snatched the pipe from one of the elves who tried a feeble protest but was quikly silenced by a sharp kick to the gut. He handed the pipe to the Warlord who sniffed it before he threw it away.
"We meant orcs and goblins, ya idiot!" the Warlord bellowed. "Now ya've got until sundown to assemble a real team and they'd better be all green."
Watharkhan went a paler green.
"Sir, yes, sir!"
He saluted smartly.
At the edge of a wood in the southern Empire a worm-eaten signpost stood. The evening sunlight made sharp shadows and the flies buzzed. A few bushes nearby rustled and then suddenly half a dozen arrows came flying out of the foliage. An observer may have wondered what the arrows were aimed at, because none of them hit anything. A little while later a pair of arms reached out of a nearby bush, uprooted the signpost and disappeared again.
Lieutenant Watharkhan was
sitting by a small fire eating an assortment of small furry animals when the
scouting patrol returned. The members of Third Black Squad wore robes in a
woodland camouflage scheme, camo paint and carried a signpost between them.
Their leader, Watharkhan couldn't remember his name and didn't care anyway,
saluted with the wrong hand and squeaked excitedly:
"Look at wot we found, Boss, is'z one of dem sign fings dose squishies put up to tell where dey aren't."
Watharkhan grabbed the sign from the other two goblins and examined it silently for a moment. Then he walked over to the other side of the fire and kicked the shaman who was sitting there and staring into the flames.
"Read." he commanded.
"N'gai, n'gha'ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y'hah. WoT?"
Thaumaturgy Sergeant Hobrakakor awoke from his trance like state and stopped his mumbling.
"Read." Watharkhan repeated, showing the sign up under the smaller orc's nose. The shaman's eyes crossed a bit before they focused on the letters.
"Awuy - FRom - Mork - hEim." The shaman managed.
"We're outa food squigs," the lieutenant rumbled. "Give him a piece of rabbit."
The front half of a rabbit was passed from hand to taloned hand around the fire. The shaman gulped it down hungrily. Watharkhan turned back to the goblin scouts who saluted again, still with the wrong hand.
"Which way did the sign point?" he asked, looming over the dimmutive goblins.
The leader pointed.
"Dataway, Boss, soufwest."
He saluted a couple of times more.
"Then we're on the right track. Wake the others. We'll continue northeast as soon as the sun sets."
As the stars spun slowly over the Moot the only sound that could be heard from the small band of greenskins was the occasional: "No, squig, no. Come back 'ere. Bad squig."
Watharkhan looked around at the
grubby halfling hole. Dirty crockery was stacked everywhere and it didn't look
like the inhabitants had ever washed the place. Having a squad of orcs break in
didn't help either. He picked up the farmers youngest daughter by the scruff of
her neck and dangled her over the upturned mouth of one of the cave squigs. The
squig emitted one of it's strange squeaking noises and jumped excitedly up and
down. It clearly fancied the small snack but didn't dare to actually grab her
as long as Watharkhan held her, for fear of the Lieutenants's boots. The
halfling's father strained to get loose but couldn't get out of the strong grip
of Sergeant Dobrovlum. Watharkhan turned back to the Thaumaturgy Sergeant.
"Tell him that if he doesn't cooperate I'll let the squig eat his daughter."
The Lieutentant listened while the shaman translated this into the strange, high pitched man-speak. The halfling farmer mumbled something and started to cry.
"He SAys he will DO what yUo wanT but PlEasE do not HArm smaLl WhitE flowER." the shaman explained.
The Lieutenant and the other sergeant look around puzzled.
"i thiNk hE means THe cHilD, SIR." Hobrakakor said patiently.
"Very well. Ask him the direction and distance to this Morkheim place."
"The shaman did as he was asked. Watharkhan could see the fear in the halfling's face, under the food stains. It was a dangerous life out here far from the nearest town.
"FiFty MilEs noRth nortHeast, sir."
"Is he sure?"
Watharkhan lowered the child a bit and let the squig bite off one of her feet. The halfling child started screaming but was quickly silenced by a sharp blow to the throat. The father started screaming, but was silenced by a slap across the face by Dobrovlum. The shaman repeated his question and the farmer managed to sob out an answer.
"Still fIftY MILES north norTeAst, sir."
"Is he really sure?"
Watharkhan lower the child again and the squig bit off her the other foot. Her face was starting to turn blue from the lack of air. Once again Hobrakakor repeated his question.
"He says HE'S suRE, Sir."
"Really really sure?" He lowered the child again and the squig bit off a bit more of her leg. "His daughter could still live. It all depends on his will to cooperate with us."
The halfling was going frantic but could not get free from the much larger orc. Hobrakakor asked the question yet again.
"rEALLY reallY SURE, Sir. He saYs He'Ll do AnythIng jusT leT his DaUghter GO, sir."
Watharkhan let the child go. There was a loud 'Gulp' and the farmer collapsed into a sobbing heap.
"Kill him and we'll have baked halfling stuffed with garlic for dinner."
Watharkhan turned and walked out into the kitchen where more of the greenskins were amusing themselves with the farmer's wife and other children.
"Now try another cucumber and see if it will fit now," one of the goblins squeaked, but he was quickly silenced by his mates when they saw Watharkhan. One of the orcs from the First Black Squad straightened up from what he was doing and ripped off a perfect salute.
"Where's Sergeant Talashbag?" the Lieutenant demanded.
"Out in the stables raping the horses, I think" the orc replied.
"We leave as soon as we've eaten. Kill everything. We'll eat as much as we can and carry as much as we are able to. Remember to bleed the elf a bit before we move on."
He nodded towards the elf waywatcher who was lying in a heap in the corner. They'd had to carry him the whole way, but it was necessary to bring him.
The orc saluted and Watharkhan returned it.
As the platoon moved ever
closer to that accursed place the skies grew ever darker and there was a foul
smell on the air.
This didn't worry the orcs much.
They captured a wild-eyed human
running away from the city, proclaiming it to be Hell on earth.
The orcs were not impressed.
In the woods close to the city
mutated animals roamed. Strange mixes of animal, reptile and crab.
The orcs ate them.
At last they stood on the edge
of the woods looking down on the blasted city. A large part of it had been
flattened by the comet strike and most of what was left didn't look any better.
Strange fumes clouded the air and the city was under perpetual darkness. The
river that ran through it was laden with foul wastes and strange screams,
neither human nor animal could be heard from inside. Small settlements had
sprung up some way from the city itself because no-one wanted to spend more
time there than they had to. All in all it was like a nightmare realm come
Lieutenant Watharkhan tightened the straps on his breastplate and looked down on that miserable pit that any sane person would flee.
"Looks kind of like home" he said with a grin. "Let's let people know that the orcs are in town."
"I seez 'em, Boss. Da
squeakies. Dey're 'eadin' dis way."
"Archers take higher ground! Get those squigs forward! First Black Squad go left, Second Black Squad go right. Move it!"
"No. Gibsnik called me fat."
"WHAT!? Get up in that tower or I'll EAT you!"
"Sir, yes, sir. Rightaway, sir, Lieutenant sir."
"This wall is too high. I can't get up."
"Lemme give ya a hand, grot."
"See - up in no time."
"Sergeant Talashbag, go left. Sergeant Dobrovlum you come with me. Thaumaturgy Sergeant Hobrakakor you take to higher ground as well."
"There we have the first one. Send the squigs after him."
"Ey, Boss, dem's frowin little metal fings at us."
"I got one, Boss, I got one!"
"You did WHAT?"
"I 'it 'im inna chest. Look, 'eez jes lynig there."
"Sir, Second Black Squad reports that the squigs have eaten approximately two squeakies."
"Good. You there! Yeah, you! The one with the big nose. Go right around that building and stop any squeakies heading this way."
"All by meself?"
"I'm goin', I'm going. Oh, I hope there's none ovv dem squeakies round 'ere."
"Squee snik snik snik."
"Aaaaah! 'Eez comin' dis way. I can'tz wotch."
"Wot da...? 'Eez ded? 'Eez ded! Boss! Boss! I've gotz a ded squeaky stuck to me spear. Wot do I do wiv it?"
"Ow! Take that, vermin!"
"Got 'im, Boss."
"Now kick 'im inna janglies."
"Stand up, ya elf, that's only a flesh wound."
"Yes, but some of it's fallen off, Boss."
"I think that's the leader. You! Bring that squig and follow me."
"Go squig, go."
"Ow, me leg. Boss, wotch out fer dat squig."
"Gnaf gnaf reeeeeee!"
"Good, squig. Now lay off. This one's mine."
"Sniii squik snik snik screeee!"
"Yeah? You AND your sister. Stand still so I can hit you."
"Not so tough when your arm came off, eh? See how you like a taste of boot in those big teeth of yours."
"Boss, we're 'avin problems. Da left side's in trouble."
"Do I have to do everything myself?"
"Wotch out fer dat squig, Boss. 'Eez comin' right fer ya. No, 'eez isn't. Aaargh. Get away! Bad sq-
"Stand up, that didn't hurt. Hobrakakor, where's my magic support?!"
"There's four hUNdred and thirty sEven brIcKs in this Wall, yOu know."
"I don't care. Blast that furry mincing machine."
"Snicka! Scratch snik scree!"
Twack. Hack. Twack.
"Ow. Ow Ow."
"MORK! GREEN FIRE, MORK! WAAAAGH!"
Fzz fzz fzz.
"Talashbag, hold him."
"Shut up. Now, Boss."
"Look , ya can see 'iz brain!"
"FIRE, MORK, FIRE. BUUURN THE FURRIES."
"MORK! MORK! MORK! MORKHEIM! GREEN!"
"Dey'z runnin', Boss! We won!"
"Good work, boyz. Talashbag, how many did we lose?"
"Looks like three, sir."
"Three? How come?"
"Well, the black furry one got one. The skinny one that kept flying around got one and one of the squigs ate one."
"Then that's not three. That's one and a half. Pack up and we'll eat the dead before they go all runny."
"How's he doing?"
Watharkhan removed the heavy mallet from the "Infermery"'s only chair
and sat down. Sergeant Dugashkar - unconscious from from the blow - lay
strapped to the table and Hobrakakor had just finished poking about bits of his
"Don't look good, LieutenAnt," the shaman replied. "Looks like he's got mUltiple injuries."
"Multiple? How many?"
"Only one? Well, will he live or do we get to eat him as well?"
"Never mind, looks like he made a coMplete recovery." The shaman looked a bit disappointed.
Watharkhan left the shaman and
his patient and went into their hideout's main room. The place had once been a
temple of some sort but large parts of it had collapsed and it had long since
been abandoned. Most of the warband lounged around on the benches or threw
darts at the elf who was nailed to the wall behind the altar. A moment later
three goblins entered dragging a large sack.
"What's the catch for today?" Watharkhan demanded.
The lead goblin tipped the contents out on the floor.
"Well, we 'ave almost 'arf a 'ooman, a dozen or so squishy fruit-thingies growing out of a wall, a slightly spoiled mabrothrax, a chicken wiv two 'eads and an invisible 'arfling."
"An invisible halfling?" the big orc asked, a bit doubtful.
"Yep, bloody difficult 'ee was to catch too." the goblin replied, "but we saw 'is shadow an' bashed 'im onna 'ead."
"Well, chop it all up and we'll..." Watharkhan was suddenly interrupted by one of the orcs from the First Black Squad.
"Boss, dere's a message fer ya!"
Watharkhan walked over to the other end of the room where a vampire squig was noisily sucking at a wound in the elf's side. The little fanged flying squigs was the biggest triumph of the manic Bad Doc Borhugtag - a creature that could track a person for hundreds of miles by the scent of his blood alone. He removed the message scroll from the creature's back and yelled at a goblin to get the elf some food - he didn't want him to die after having dragged him all the way here. A moment later one of the goblins came up to him with a bowl of brown mush. Watharkhan sniffed it.
"What is it?"
"Well, one of 'is feet dropped of so I chopped it up an' dere's some of dose fruit-thingies in dere also, Boss."
"OK, get him to eat it. We don't want him to die before we can get a replacement and that might still be months away."
The orc lieutenant left to find the shaman and have him read the message for him.
Hobrakakor was still in the
Infermery where Dugashkar was now awake and yelling at the shaman because the
latter had sawed off part of the top of his head and was having a look inside.
"Look, Sir, If I put my fINger here his eyes turn off." The shaman demonstrated this.
"Aaaargh. Yer filthy snotling humper! When I get out of this I'll shove a pair of red hot pliers up yer arsehole an' pull out all yer guts through it! Then I'm gonna make ya eat 'em and then I'm gonna do it all again!" The sergeant was not amused.
The lieutenant nodded his approvement. That was a good curse. Then he handed the shaman the message he had just received.
"This just came in from back home. What's it say?"
Hobrakakor's brows furrowed as he studied the glyphs.
"REInforcements arriving in two weeks. Have gold reADy by then," he read with some difficulty.
Damn, thought Watharkhan. They hadn't found much gold, only a bunch of some glowing greenish stones. He hadn't thought much of them, only charged one of the grots with their safe keeping. Maybe they were worth something. He went back into the main room and pointed at the goblin in charge of the stones.
"You there, you with the tail. Where is that sack I told you to look after?" he yelled.
"Got it roight 'ere, Boss." The goblin scampered over.
Wait just a minute. Watharkhan repeated what he had just said to himself. Tail?
"What is that!" he roared and pointed to a scaly tail poking out from under the goblin's robes.
"Nuffin, Boss, nuffin," the goblin squeaked and backed away from the big orc.
Lieutenant Watharkhan snatched the goblin by the tail and effortlessly hoisted him into the air by it. The tail was very clearly growing out of the goblin's quite dirty backside.
"And what the fuck has happened to your legs?" he bellowed as he threw the unfortunate goblin across the room where he landed in a heap by the wall. In a few long strides Watharkhan was over him. The goblin's filthy robes were torn off him before one of the orc's powerful hands closed around his skinny neck and he was slammed into the wall - eye to eye with the enraged orc. Watharkhan barred his fangs in vicious snarl before he gripped the goblin's tail with his other hand and started pulling. Luckily for the goblin it was his tail that snapped and not his neck. The orc lieutenant then drew a serrated dagger from his belt and cut one of the goblin's ears off.
"Now tell me what kind of goblin has a tail, eyes on his knees and scaly skin before I cut off something more vital," he growled - his face only an inch from the goblin's.
The goblin tried to squirm out of his grip but couldn't.
"It wusn't my fault, Boss. One morning when I woke up it wus jez there. Lemmego. I'm sure it'll go away in time. Please, Boss"
The lieutenant thought for a moment before he casually leaned forward and tore the goblin's throat out with his his teeth. With purple blood dripping from his mouth he turned to the rest of the group who had moved over to watch.
"Anyone else here not totally green?"
A dozen silent heads shook.
An examination showed that none else had been affected but Watharkhan resolved to find someone who would trade the green stones for something else. After all, it was his platoon and he was responsible for their well-being.
It was a week later and they had found someone who would buy their strange stones. Hobrakakor had taken a couple of the boyz on an expedition closer to the human settlements and had found a sign put up by a human shaman. The strange fellow didn't seem to mind trading with orcs but he had tried to trick Watharkhan into parting with the stones for a far too low price. Fortunately the orcs had capured a human brigand a few days before and leaned on him until he had told them the average price the stones went for. The human shaman had tried to haggle but after Wathakhan had bitten off and eaten a couple of his fingers he had changed his mind and given the orcs a fair price.
Now they were venturing into an area where his scouts had told him a group of stunties were setting up a base. Well, they'd see about that. They were advancing in parallell lines down the ruined streets. His group made their way along what looked to have been a street of small shops. To his left he could sometimes catch a glimpse of Dobrovlum's group as they mad their way in a narrow alley behind the row of shops. Somewhere to his right Talashbag's group would be moving along the rooftops to make a surprise attack on the hated stunties. Those beardlings couldn't be far off now.
A whirring sound followed by a
"thunk" made the lieutenant turn around just in time to see the
Thaumaturgy Sergeant go down with a crossbow bolt in his gut. His sharp eyes
quickly scanned the buildings down the street and he spotted a helmeted head in
"Scatter, there's a sniper in the book depository!" he bellowed as he snatched up a goblin and used him as a living shield as he ran down the street and into a small alleyway.
He heard the sound of iron shod boots hitting the cobbles as a group of stunties came running to stop the orcs. Of course, since they were stunties they weren't running very fast. As they passed the alleyway Watharkhan stepped out behind one of them and brought his axe down on the stunty's neck with crushing force. He could feel the creature's spine shatter as it fell forward with it's head almost severed from it's body. The sound distracted the rest of the stunties just as the squigs tore into them. Watharkhan let out a howl of joy and rage and charged the nearest stunty, a short bearded one who seemed to be just a whelp. The big orc easily parried the stunty's clumsy axe chop with his sword before barreling him to the ground and burying his axe in his face. The other members of his platoon seemed to be holding their own - barely. Stunty flesh was tougher than skaven or human most of the goblins' blows seemed to have little effect. Only the sergeants seemed to be doing some damage with their halberds; chopping, parrying, thrusting. A stuty took the spike through the eye and fell to the ground without a word.
More stunties came running, among them a couple of those 'slayers'. They were fun to fight. One of them took a goblin arrow through the shoulder but ran on oblivious to the wound. Watharkhan respected that. He liberated the axe the fallen stundty had held and scratched his neck with it thoughtfully. Stunties would have been far more dangerous if they had been able to run faster. The stunty was closing now, foaming at the mouth and shouting some sort of warcry. Watharkhan looked at the dead stunty's axe. It was a good waepon, like all stunty weapons, with good balance and a keen edge. When the stunty was five meters away he threw the axe and split his skull open. Oh, well, stunties should really learn to run faster. Another slayer charged into a squad of goblins, his pair of axes cleaving into the air where the goblins weren't. The three goblins watched bemused as the stunty waved his axes around but always missing the nimble goblins. The lieutenant could hear the stunty roar in frustration just before a goblin drove his dagger between his ribs.
The rest of the battle didn't seem to go very well; most of his platoon seemed to be getting their arses kicked by the stunties and Talashbag's squad seemed to be falling back. The suigs were running around biting regardless. Maybe it was time to.. .
A sixth sense warned him just in time and he threw himself to the ground, rolled, came up and lashed out with his sword. A double-handed axe crashed down on the spot he had stood. The orc's blade also failed to connect but the stunty, who seemed to be the leader of the pack, had to back up to avoid the attack. Watharkhan didn't hesitate, but followed up quickly so that the stunty wouldn't have time to swing his heavier weapon. Finally a worthy opponent. The stunty leader parried the axe chop with the haft of his axe but was too slow to stop the orc's sword from stabbing him in his side. Luckily for him it glanced off his ribs. The stunty got a swing on his big axe and Watharkhan could feel it biting into his shoulder. His sword arm was numb and be swung out with his axe clumsily. The stunty could see that that the attack would miss, but he didn't see the bluff. Quick as a lynx Watharkhan reversed his grip on the axe and stabbed the spike on the end of it up into the stunty's armpit. The stunty buckeled over and that would have been the end of him if not two of his henchmen had come to his rescue. Their fury drove Watharkhan away from his victim and he had to admit that it was time to withdraw from the battle.
The squad moved swiftly through the darkened suburbs of the city. They easily avoided the larger groups of humans that inhabited the area and any solitary individuals were quickly overrun - literally. The goblin who had been keepng watch out by the old ruins in the forest had alerted them that their reinforcements had arrived and they were on thir way to meet them. After two months in the city Watharkhan had changed. A regular diet of human meat and a nearly unlimited number of foes to fight meant that he had put on nearly fourty pounds. His scarred hide was as thick as a troll's and even walking in his orcish stoop he was a foot taller than the average human. He could crush a man's head in his huge hands and bite off arms. This really was the life.
The other orcs were waiting at the edge of the forest, their dull green hides blending into the surrounding so that only a trainded eye could have spotted them. Watharkhan and the leader of the group, a squat orc named Orgnog exchanged salutes. Orgnog cuffed one of the goblins, indicating that he had brought the reinforcements as he had been ordered to. Watharkhan grunted and shot his lower jaw out as he surveyed the new recruits. What a bunch of fresh weaklings. The warboss had obviously been worried that his lieutenant might be getting ambitious so far from his superior. No matter. A couple of weeks of Morkheim would make proper orcs out of them - except for the goblins of course, but that was only to be expected. No matter how much he tried the goblins just wouldn't improve. He'd even lined the goblins from his so-called "sniper" unit up fifteen paces from a barn door and made them shoot at it. Less than half had been able to hit and there had been cooked goblin for supper that night.
"Oh, and there's
this," Orgnog said and tossed over a tied up elf. Watharkhan caught it
one-handed and passed it on to Talashbag.
"Goo," he said, "the old one was a gonner. Hand him the gold."
The two remaining members of the First Black Squad handed over the heavy chests they had been carrying.
"Anything you want me to tell the boss?" Orgnog asked.
"Tell him next time I want a troll," Watharkhan grinned. A big troll would have been handy against those pesky chaos worshippers.
The shorter orc nodded. Then he accepted the food offered to him by Watharkhan's boyz before he and the last two orcs who were going back with him turned around and disappered into the night.
After giving the new recruits a
big grin Watharkhan turned to Talashbag.
"Right, we've got a new elf, let's go back and eat the old one."
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