`YEEEEEEEHHHHHAAAAAH!’ The goblin scout stumbled into the camp and fell face forward in the mud
`What is that goblin doing by Gork’ shouted Nom irritably from the tree stump he was currently using as his throne `you two, drag him over here’
The indicated goblins grabbed their companion, hauled him to his feet and supported the swaying figure over to their boss.
`FAAND AH STUNTY PUB’ warbled the goblin, hiccuping slightly `S FULL O TAYSTY LICKER!’
Nom’s face brightened `Any Dwarves at this brewhouse maggot?’ he enquired.
`M STILL LIVE AIN’T I’ said the goblin dancing a feeble jig between his companions to demonstrate
`For now at least.’ muttered Nom, raising his voice he called to his warband `On your feet lads its drinking time!’
With a cheer the littlest Waagh sallied forth.
Holy Reverend Knight Wulfrick Von Schädelhammer Warrior Priest of Sigmar pored over his maps of the valley. He was struggling to understand why so many warbands of different races were here in this forsaken valley. Almost every stream, hillock or building here appeared to be evil, cursed, poisonous or haunted so what possible value it held for the various marauders he could not hope to guess. However Sigmar must surely have sent him here for a reason and thus far his choices in battle had largely been blessed by victory. His eye was drawn to a building marked on the map near the centre of the valley. Perhaps Sigmar had guided his eye and this was the key, Wulfrick rolled up his maps and stepped out of his tent calling for his lieutenants. Within minutes his small command was on the march.
`Those damned dwarves are bound to turn up sooner or later. How are your preparations coming Nilt’ asked Nom-Arac
`Things are progressing’ squeeked Nilt
`I know that Nilt but how well. How are the spear chukkas coming along’
`Oh semi-finalised Nom, semi-finalised’ murmured the shaman
`And the cavalry and bows?’
`Almost done brother, almost done’ said Nilt plaintively
`So you are telling me none of your inventions are ready!’
`Um …. yes Nom … sorry Nom’
`I need a drink’ Nom stomped forward through his troops towards the Brewhouse.
`Our scouts have identified the building as a Dwarven Brewhouse and report an Orcish force advancing on it my lord’ reported one of Wulfricks lieutenants riding up to the main column of the Imperial command.
`Orcs? I thought the only major Orc forces near here were reported routed in battle’ queried Wulfrick, the idea of yet another race involved in the conflict here was not an encouraging one, the Empire had suffered some nasty reverses at Orcish hands recently `How many of the infernal greenskins are there’
`Oh I never said it was a large force my lord!’ the lieutenant grinned `Looks like its just a rag tag band of goblins if truth be told’
The Warrior Priest smiled wolfishly `Column halt! Deploy for battle!’ As his men formed up their Commander dropped to his knees and offered up a sincere prayer to Sigmar `Just don’t let them have any of those chaos spawned Squigs oh Lord’ he intoned.
`Hurry up with those Squigs you dullards I want a drink!’ shouted Nom irritably in the general direction of the luckless herders.
Nom turned to look at the distant brewhouse again and his eyes narrowed. He grabbed his brother `What!’ He demanded `Is that?’
A few hundred yards away up a small hill, a goblin was approaching in a strange bowlegged run. His progress seemingly assisted and impeded in equal measure by a bedraggled four foot long spider lashed between his legs with a length of threadbare rope, its scrabbling legs just touching the ground.
`Um experimental cavalry Boss’ yelped Nilt `Still in development. Thought we could try them as scouts to start. Inspire the younger goblins with the promise of adventure you know.’
`Inspire them to strange and unnatural crimes against nature more like’ said Nom watching with horrified fascination as the spider and goblin got their legs tangled together and rolled speedily down the slope towards them.
`Oomans!’ wailed the luckless scout in the brief seconds between him rolling to the bottom of the slope and having the enraged remains of his spider sink its poison fangs into his thigh `Faaasands ov ’em!’
Nom turned to his motley army pointing at the whimpering scout `Mark my words boys, if any of you mess up our next fight you’ll be joining the spider cavalry! And we don’t call them the twenty minuters for nothin’ !’ He looked from the brewhouse to the distant Imperials and drew his sword. `Let’s go strike fear into the hearts of men!’
As the goblins moved to advance Nom’s sword began to let out it customary eerie banshee wail before breaking off into a fit of sneezing. Nom glared at it ‘What!?’
‘I’m not feeling too good Master’ snivelled the sword hoarsely. `I think it might be metal fatigue’
Nom growled angrily ‘How can a sword get ill?’
`Loads of ways Boss, metal fatigue, heavy metal poisoning, loss of temper …’
Nom sighed ‘Why do these things happen to me’
‘A curse maybe? Or bad luck? You haven’t angered any Gods recently I don’t suppose?’
‘That was rhetorical you idiot’
‘Oh … sorry.’
Gurt, Halberdsman second class nudged his young comrade Sungar, Trainee Halberdsman third class in the ribs `I don’t think Sigmar listens much to Lord High Hoity Toity Wulfrick the most Holy Pain in the Ass does he?’ he whispered pointing to the herd of red toothy horrors bounding and leaping towards them `Every time he prays for something we poor bastards get the opposite. I bloody hate fighting squigs!’
`Shut up Gurt. You hate fighting everything.’ Sungar considered his statement for a moment `Well anything that is likely to fight back anyway’
`That my boy is called the voice of experience’ drawled Gurt. He paused to swat a fly which had landed inoffensively on the handle of his halberd before continuing `Longest serving man in the unit I am. And I say fighting squigs will be bad news in my experience.’
`But you don’t have any experience fighting squigs Gurt, none of us do. And the others say the only reason you are the longest serving man is because your conscription keeps being extended due to drunkeness on parade’
`Maybe, maybe’ conceded the older man `But that still means I have more experience of not fighting squigs than you do and I say that given the choice between fighting them and not fighting them I’d rather not fight them’
`They don’t look so bad. Look most of them look like they are smiling just like my dog Fang back home when I used to take him out rabbit hunting’
`Ever see what your dog Fang could do to a rabbit boy?’
`Yeah, he used to make a right mess of them, bite onto a limb and just shake them until they more or less came to pieces in his jaws ….oh……’
And then the squigs were on them and everything went red.
Nom grinned at the carnage on the left flank. `Charge lads!’
Nom brandished his sword but the usual hideous shriek suddenly cracked and ended in a moaning whimper. Nom glanced at the blade in annoyance then shrugged and led his goblins forward to battle.
The spearmen marshalled by the Brewhouse braced against the oncoming goblin hordes. Spearman Third Class William Son of Hud glanced to either side where swarms of goblins threatened to overwhelm their small bands of archers. ‘You hear something? Like a kinda shrieking wail that chills your bones to their very marrow?’
A man to his left whose name William had forgotten but who he thought of as one of the company’s hicks listened for a moment ‘Nope!’
‘You can’t hear an eldritch wail which is etching your very soul with fear’
The hick spat ‘Don’t reckon’
`I tell you I hear a shrill hellish cry which puts me in mortal terror of imminent doom! They are gonna kill the archers then come for us!’
The other man glanced at him lazily `I guess they are gonna try’
‘Oh no man, game over man, game over what the fuck are we gonna do now?’
`Maybe we could build a campfire, sing a coupla songs huh? Don’t worry about the archers, Jenette’s in charge of them, she’s so tough she often gets mistaken for a man’
`They’re gonna come in here and they are gonna …..’
`You’d better start dealing with it Son of Hud! Just deal with it because we need you and I am sick of your bullshit’ said the hick
The goblins crashed into their lines and for a short while everyone could hear William scream. But only for a short while.
The Hick and Jenette met briefly as the battle raged.
`Thought I heard something weird earlier’ said Jeanette
`Oh Hud’s son was saying that?’
`Sounded like a sword coughing and sneezing’
Wulfrick Von Schädelhammer brought his warhammer down heavily on the bulk of the Squig trying to gnaw through his leg through his chainmail and grunted with satisfaction ‘There lads that wasn’t so bad was it?’ He exclaimed turning to rally his troops ‘Now let’s go … get … lads? … everyone alright? …. anyone alright …oh….’
Wulfrick looked about him at the dead and dying. Men writhed on the ground in agony. Here and there with simple minded determination an injured squig was still trying to eat a man or in some cases another squig even as it bled to death. Some of his men were merely wounded but only the sergeant looked in any state to continue.
Exchanging a grim glance the two of them marched forward to join the battle against the remaining goblins.
Nilt-Siar looked about the battlefield, still rather dazed from the small but effective cavalry charge which had momentarily routed his unit. His brother’s warband appeared to be being slowly overwhelmed and there was no sign of the squigs. He turned to his troops ‘I think we’ll give the pub a miss today lads.’
The night goblins sidled quietly away. Behind them the other goblins got to learn about the military culture of the Empire.
They did not enjoy it. It was not over quickly. They did not get beer.
The following day Holy Reverend Knight Wulfrick Von Schädelhammer Warrior Priest of Sigmar sat on a stool outside the brewhouse supping on a beer with his Lieutenant ‘You fought bravely yesterday Lieutenant. I don’t recall your face however, are you new to my command’
`Thank you sire. And yes I am new, this is my first actual mission your Eminence’
‘Even more impressive then, what is your name?’
`Gorman sire, Lieutenant Gorman’
`Well Lieutenant you did well so I am going to send you to reconnoitre this hill’ he tapped the map between them ‘It does not have a name but the high command have designated it LV426. We had an outpost there until recently but we seem to have lost contact. Take some spearmen with you, you start can start as soon as we get those drunkards back on their feet.’ Wulfrick looked across to his grizzled sergeant at arms ‘Sergeant Apone.’
Wulfrick pointed over to the snoring spearmen ‘Have someone go wake up those hicks!’