Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Berserker Part 49

Bertrwar howled with joy as he let fly yet another feathered dart, not bothering to see if it reached its target. His new bow was a marvel, he hardly had to aim to hit his mark, arrows seeming to guide themselves. The arrows, they were strange. Every normal arrow he nocked altered subtley, as if something creeped along from the string. First the feathers would go a crimson red, then little blue and red pulsing veins would appear along the wooden shaft, and finally the metal head would become pitted with rust and slime.

It appeared that such strange otherworldly gifts were not uncommon within their army, the upper echelons of the gnolls, orcs, and goblins all carried such blessed weapons, never letting them out of sight or out of hand if possible.

Upon meeting the other two races in the depths of the Bretolian forest not more than a week ago, it was apparent that the gnolls were the most intelligent of the bunch. Despite some grumblings from all groups, Bertrawr was made field tactician and general of the horde after his superior suddenly died of lead poisoning. When questions arose about the possibility of foul play, they were taken aside and quietly informed that a knife in the back was lead poisoning, and it was catching if they weren’t careful.

He smiled at the memory of the longfang, long since blind with cataracts and bent double with arthritis. Hobbling about with his grey streaked fur coming out in tufts. His idea of a battle was two enemy lines charging against each other. It was an honorable form of warfare, true, but most gnolls nowadays prefered to be alive and cunning as opposed to dead and honorable.

With his position of power secure, Bertrawr led his army east, having decided to follow that damnable caravan that had cost him his Storm Canis. Replacements for which would take weeks to arrive from the Dog Nation capital.

The caravan must’ve had a fair turn of speed, outdistancing the slow army easily, they were probably halfway across the continent by then. Frustrated by them, he consoled himself with the fact that they would be nothing more than a drop in the ocean of souls which would be taken in offering to their masters.

To get things underway, he decided that the quiet little hamlet they came upon looked easy for the takings, giving him a chance to exercise his tactical as well as combat skills.

Obviously the most superb and valuable of their troops, Bertrawr decided that the gnolls should aid their comrades in the siege from a distance. Dividing the wall defenses between two fronts, he would soften their forces with a peppering barrage of arrows and ballistae fire while their more dumb companions would attack from the more obvious front entrance. Doing so would mean many deaths for the orc and goblin troops, but that was a sacrifice that Bertrawr was willing to make.

Once the eastern gates were open, the gnolls would break from cover and enter through the western gates that the orcs would have hopefully opened by then. With his battle plans set all he had left was to review the wild mob he called his troops, something that no person easily depressed should be allowed to do.

He had done his best, appointing several drill instructors he could count on to train the unruly orcs and goblins. Admittedly they were fierce fighters to start with, but not smart ones, needlessly expending energy before and during combat. So the gnolls had attempted to teach the greenskins to wait for the moment to strike.

With the energetic little goblins this had been a complete failure, they simply were too dumb to understand instruction. In exasperation one of the gnolls came up with idea to use that boundless energy much like a club, hence the whirling battering attack that the little goblins would be executing at that very moment.

The orcs had been more of a success, their ferocious fighting technique made them nearly unstoppable in close combat, but they had a nasty selfish behavior. Bertrawr had watched them in mock battle, one orc would strike down another of his own comrades in order to take the fallen’s kill.

Normally the extremely independent warriors would reject the very thought, but with the arrival of their masters they had come to understand that their would be heads, limbs, trophies, and glory for all. Thus lessons in teamwork were taken well. With this newfound teamwork, the orcs had been equipped with sturdy ropes for scaling the city walls.

Bertrawr felt a flash of pride at the thought that he had come up with the brilliant idea. It had come to him when a goblin had climbed to the top of a huge oak tree while they were traveling. For what reason, he had no idea, most likely a bet. But the goblin fell from his precarious perch easily fifty feet in the air to the hard ground beneath. After a few moments the goblin got up, dazed but seemingly unharmed.

At that point he had realized that he could utilitze the enourmous upper arm strength of the orcs and the resilient hides of the goblins for the benefit of the army.

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