Thursday, 30 August 2012

WoffBoot VI - Orcs and Goblins vs Skaven

The hoard of Ratmen emerged not far from where the Orcs had pitched their camp the previous night, boiling out of the ground in an endless tide of unpainted  unwashed bodies. Gnashbad nodded to himself, apparently satisfied.

"Dem's Clan Slavish," he said to his boys. "Nuffin' to worry about there. Lot of slaves, mind you, more then us. You boys want victory?"


"Right. Stay ere on the hill and don't move til I gives da wurd."

Bashmad, the Big 'Uns musician, stopped drumming, and their warcry faltered. He puzzled and scratching his furrowed brows with a rusting cleaver. Wait on the hill? That didn't sound right. Gravva clearly thought the same.

"Erm, boss? Don't you mean run over and clobber them?"

"Oo sed dat?" Gnashbad wheeled furiously on his boys. Answering back was a disciplinary matter, according to the little black book he'd given them all. A "trainin' manyool," he'd called it. The ones that hadn't been eaten by squigs made for good padding inside a helmet - softer than leather. "Come ere, you, it's schoolin' time." He grabbed the nearest dissenter and started whacking.

The skaven advanced in a huge pack into the short valley where only an hour before, the ogres had been sent packing. Gnashbad administered a sound beating to another couple of boys, for appearances, as the rest of the warband followed their orders.

The spider riders headed into the woods on the right, hoping to nip past the smaller pack of slaves protecting the main body of the skaven. Brod, rested and healed after being trampled by the Ogre Thundertusk, was loping round the left flank. "Classik Pinchers," Gnashbad had explained darkly. But inexplicably, he wanted these two outliers to ignore the main body of the skaven and concentrate on wiping out the jezzail teams taking up positions on the opposite hill.

To the left and right of the boys, the Redclaw spears and archers held position on the hill. They looked restless, but none of them dared naysay the Boss's plan.

Still the skaven came onwards. But their advance seemed cautious - that innumerable swarm in the centre was slowing down. To the right, the smaller flanking pack was hanging back, turning to face the threat of the spider riders. Gnashbad paused his court martial, dropping a dazed and bloody Gravva from his armoured fist.

"Right, dat's da signal. On me, boys. Watch da spiders and lern summfink. Dey's been listenin' to da plan, not like you 'orrible lot."

As though on queue, the spiders chittered forward, slamming into the front rank of the slave unit despite the wall of crooked spears the puny ratmen offered up to them. Within moments, the entire pack scattered and fled, screeching like the craven vermin they were. Bashmad snorted as several of them crashed into the jezzail teams behind, stabbing and clawing in their fury to escape the poisonous spiders. One crew went down, trampled by the mad flight; their companions were so busy hiding behind their pavises, they never saw the spider riders until it was too late, and quickly joined their companions.

"Boss! Da gobbos is out of formashun!"

"Wot?" Gnashbad snarled in frustration. Sure enough, the Redclaws were starting to roll forward, clearly encouraged by the success of the spider riders. "Raarg! Right, keep pace with da little runtz. We can eat 'em later." Cheered by this, the boys trooped forward, battering their many weapons together as they came.

On the far left, Brod had clambered up the hill just in time to receive a volley of warpfire musketry. The jezzail bullets ripped and whined around him. Clearly unhappy, the simple old soul let out a miserable bellow and broke into a run, spinning up the crude masonry flail he favoured as he charged. The nearest jezzailachis turned tail and scarpered immediately. But their fellows somehow kept position and unleashing a deadly hail. The hapless giant clutched his face and, for the second time that day, pitched forward to the ground, wailing and moaning.

"Hold up, boys!" Gnashbad yelled immediately. The skaven were coming on in a slow wave, even more cautious now their sides were threatened by the spiders. "Oi! You bloody little runts!" the vast orc hollered at the goblins. "Storm of Iron Manoover! Get to it!"

There was a moment of pause. "Dat means lob da crazies!" translated their latest shaman. Brightening, the goblins dashed forward and flung their brew-maddened companions towards the wall of rat slaves.

One bounded through the ranks, which parted round him, leaving a bare minimum of crushed bodies in his wake. The other collapsed in a heap somewhere before the oncoming ratmen, getting up and looking around him with a manic look. His goblin comrades yelled and pointed at the skaven behind him, but he seemed oblivious. The gobbos darted back, hoping to stay out of harm's reach.

"Hold!" bellowed Gnashbad again, stretching arms out to either side of him and penning his Big 'Uns back. Groaning, they obeyed, once more cowed into restraint by the vicious temper of the boss. To their right, the archers began a rain of short, whining arrows that fell into the heart of the main skaven brood. Slaves began falling, but too few - dozens remained, more than the orcs could count. At least five, Bashmad reckoned, and that was plenty to go round, by any reckoning.

The skaven advance slowed again - the pair of whirling fanatics had them confused. Bashmad could see their clan leader, a tall, armoured warlord, squeaking orders to the reluctant slaves. The first, more energetic fanatic bounced back past him, crushing a few more slaves. Then the rat screamed furiously, and the myriad slaves seethed forward. The fanatic, still swinging his ball and chain, was lost to view in the onslaught. A handful more broken bodies were flung into the air as the slaves trundled right over him, but Bashmad didn't see him again.

The other one bounced right past the skaven, hooting and giggling as he flailed towards the woods.

"Hold!" Gnashbad hollered again.

"Aw, but boss, dey're right dere!" said Golbig, the banner carrier.

"Nobody gets stuck in before me, gottit?" roared the big Black Orc. Golbig hung his head and kicked a stone moodily down the hill.

The skaven shambled forward, a solid line of ratty faces and cruel-looking, hooked spears. Behind them, the remaining jezzail battery had reformed, and clods of dirt were kicking up around the shaman as it sniped at him for afar. The hapless caster leapt from foot to foot, ducking and diving, much to the amusement of his goblin compatriots.

The spider riders had been keeping pace with the main skaven pack, shadowing them from behind. Nervous slaves kept throwing them glances, and the riders played to this gleefully, howling and shrieking like demented spirits.

"Right, ready?" Gnashbad said. The boys hefted weapons, licking their lips. This was more like it. "On me! Free... Two... Wun... Waaa..."


The spider riders crashed into the side of the skaven pack, gibbering. Their mounts frothed and clattered, devouring a handful of slaves in a poisonous storm.

Gnashbad threw his sword down. "Right! Dat is it! I spessificullaly sed, nobody gets stuck in before me, didn't I?"

"Yes boss," said the Big 'Uns in moody unison. This wouldn't be the first time Gnashbad had thrown a wobbler.

"Everybody, turn round and back ta camp. We'z gonna have a proper Kangamaroo Kort, and dem spider boys is first up. Bashmad, get everybody in file."

"But boss, da ratties! We haven't even... Blaaarg!" Smakface was cut off before he could get any further, a seven foot battle axe severing his right arm clean off. "Aw, dat woz me good shoulda!" he whined.

"Back ta camp, NOW!" Gnashbad called, clearly not in a mood for a decent argument. Sullenly, his army obeyed, dragging their heels, as behind them, the skaven reorganised themselves and broke over the remaining spider riders like a spring tide. Brob, still whimpering, crawled away to safety in the background.

Ah well, Bashmad thought. The ratmen would be there for later. When the alternative was being used as a object lesson in obedience, Black Orc style, he could afford to be patient.

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