Oldhammer Fiction


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Post Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:12 pm

Oldhammer Fiction

Not sure if this is the right place for this, but thought people might be interested in some short fiction based on the Oldhammer vibe - although not in the Warhammer Old World - for copyright reasons!

The story I have been writing is called Holiday in Orkrania, which is essentially a novella – 15-20,000 words – sitting in between a short story and a full novel, so rather than splitting into chapters I am going to call each section a Part instead. I’m going to post each Part of the story two or three times a week on my blog at http://marklord.info. This is not a finished product – so there maybe some typos and inconsistencies, but I hope you enjoy reading it.

Here’s what Holiday in Orkrania is about (the blurb/backcover copy):

Prince Hardlee thought a holiday in the Orkranian highlands would be lovely at this time of year – especially when his favourite actress, half-elven Maegana Vulpon was taking a break at the temple of eternal youth in Nstaad. But his father the King does not approve of the relationship choices of his only son and heir, so the Prince has travelled in disguise—yet there are traitors about—an uncle who has eyes on the throne has learnt of the Prince’s destination and despatched a band of cutthroats. Other dangers lurk in the Orkranian highlands as well – Orc raiders eye the wealth of the little village of Nstaad – the Dwarf miners who work there have uncovered deposits of gold, and the Orc chief Grim Bearit would take it from them. Can a mixed band of princely retainers, halfling inn-keepers, dwarven miners and elven priests and actors resist the Orc raid?

For lovers of old style fantasy and Oldhammer everywhere.

And here’s the first part entitled, Hardlee seeks out Meagana.

Arfur Shilby knew there was something unnatural about the grove of trees as soon as they walked underneath the branches of the carefully spaced trees. They were fair birches, elms and fine oaks, a contrast to the dour firs that had flanked the road to Nstaad for most of their journey. Instead of thick bracken to push through there was soft yielding grass underfoot.

“This is an elven wood,” he said.

“Of course, dear Arfur,” replied Prince Hardlee. “The Pool of Life is sacred to the Elves. Can’t remember the name of the goddess though—Aefwinna maybe?”

Arfur shook his head. He wasn’t going to correct the prince, not that he didn’t know the answer, or had any qualms with correcting his master, but he had no truck with elves, and the sooner they were gone from there the better.

“We should have brought the men,” he said.

Hardlee slapped Arfur on the shoulder and laughed. “Why ever for? Quite enough of you been nannying me on the journey so far. If you don’t mind I would like to visit my lady in private—once we get to the Temple you should go as well.”

Arfur scowled. He would see about that. His prince was already bewitched by the charms of that half-elven actress. What could a whole Temple of elves do to him?

Hardlee was striding ahead through the trees. Arfur could see the ground sloping down to the bank of a pool that looked like a mirror glass. He hurried to catch-up. He was a short man compared to the prince.

“You have duties back at court, sire, don’t forget,” he said hurriedly, a little out of breath. “Would not be good to linger here to long. Especially after the incident with the Duke. Can’t you just wait until she comes back from her … holidays or whate’er you folk call them?”

They were on the bank of the lake now—a narrow fine sanded beach lead gently into the water, which was broken only by the faintest of ripples. Across the far side of the lake—perhaps fifty paces a small domed temple sat, fine white columns like stems of a flower supporting the portico, all of the finest white stone, but so delicate and smooth that it appeared almost alive.

Hardlee punched Arfur on the arm. “Really Shilby, you think I should go back to the fustiness of court and wait …”

Hardlee gestured to the centre of the lake where the ripples spread from around a figure floating in the water, staring serenely up into the blue sky. Arfur gulped. She was naked. Long, brunette hair, spread out in the water from her head like a fan. Her breasts rose above the water like …” Arfur turned away. No, no, he wouldn’t let himself fall under the same spell. She was beautiful, he couldn’t deny that.

Hardlee skipped almost like a little boy to the water’s edge and pulled off his boots. He began wading into the water. “Halloo,” he shouted. “Meagana! It’s me!”

For the briefest moment the sky turned dark as if heavy rain clouds had appeared from nowhere, and a voice heavy with menace shrieked across the waters from the Temple. Arfur couldn’t distinguish the words spoken, but it didn’t sound very welcoming. A tall woman with robes of pale green covering her head and body strode from the Temple door and raised a hand in warning.

Hardlee froze and took a frantic step back and fell over, getting tangled up in his sword belt. Arfur pulled him back from the beach. They wouldn’t bewitch his master. He wouldn’t allow it.

“My feet,” wailed Hardlee, “it feels like they’re frozen.”

“We must flee this place, sire,” said Arfur, glancing frantically across the lake. The woman in the green robes was striding swiftly along the beach towards them.

Arfur stood up and drew his sword, and pulled his shoulders back. “If you come any closer,” he spat, “then …”

The woman kept walking. Her hand raised slowly from her side, and the sword flew from Arfur’s grip to pirouette harmlessly ten paces away point first into the sand. He felt like a great wind was forcing him backwards. He tried to resist it.

“You won’t get me with your …” he spluttered, but the force of the unseen power was too much for him and he was knocked to the beach where his master still laid sprawling rubbing his cold feet.

The green-robed woman stood over Arfur. She didn’t look like a witch, he had to say. Her face was beautiful in an aquiline way like many elves, but there was no cruelty or malice in the soft skin, and the deep blue eyes. A smile played on the woman’s lips. “I am Thania, priestess of the Pool of Life. State your identity and your purpose or begone for ever.”

“I am Arfur Shilby, equerry to the Prince—this here is the Prince—Prince Hardlee of Hyperia. Heir to the throne of Hyperia he is. But don’t tell anyone,” he bumbled, “we’re here secretly to see the floozy—the actress I mean. Meagana Vulpona. She’s his lady, you know. The Queen ain’t happy about it I can tell you—King don’t mind too much—as long as he gets me grandchildren I don’t care he says.” Why was he saying so much, he wondered. “But we got to be careful, you know—travel in secret. Assassins—threat to the prince’s life. I blame the uncle—the Duke Leerin. Have I said too much?”

The elven priestess, Thania, nodded. “Perhaps, but also you have said enough. Enough for you to be able to stay here a short while. Your master may greet his lover.” She held out a hand and with a stronger than expected grip hauled Arfur to his feet. She did the same for Hardlee, who stared at her sheepishly, not saying a word.

“Hardlee, you came,” called a voice from the water. Meagana Vulpon strode naked up the beach out of the lake. Arfur didn’t know where to look, but he couldn’t keep from staring this time.

“Meagana,” Hardlee stuttered. “My goodness, so could to see you—umm.”

“The lady could do with towel,” Thania suggested to Arfur.

“Uh yes, right away.” Arfur looked around—there was wicker chair—more of a couch and a soft, white towel that looked as deep as very fine fur. He picked it up and put out his hand to pass it to Meagana.

“Thank you,” she said as she took it and wrapped around herself. “I remember seeing you in Uparee—always hanging outside the theatre.”

“Uh, waiting for the prince, my lady,” Arfur said. He looked away from her staggering gorgeous face and began examining the dirt under his fingernails.

Hardlee recovered himself and pushed past Arfur. “Meagana I have been so lost without you—come kiss me.”

Meagana took a step back and put her hand to her lips. “No. Not until I have finished my worship to the goddess. She will give me new life and youth.”

Hardlee shook his head. “But you have such youthful vigour already, what could you do with more?”

Meagan laughed and Thania smiled knowingly. “I am older than you think, my prince. Twice your age, but I look …”

“Younger, no more than twenty.”

“But that will fade unless I am careful. No go. There is an inn.”

“Yes we’re staying there.”

“Wait there for me until I have finished my worshipping. Another day, is that right?” Meagan enquired of Thania, who nodded in affirmation.

“But Meg, Meagana. I can’t wait,” whined Hardlee, sounding like a school-boy rather than a grown man. Arfur winced.

“Good things come to those who do,” replied Meagan. “Now be off,” she laughed. A beautiful, tinkling laugh, and Arfur couldn’t help glancing at her. For a moment their eyes met, but he grabbed the prince’s arm.

“Now then, let’s do as the lady says. Back to the inn.”

Hardlee shrugged. “So be it, but then we will stay a whole week—we will go walking in the mountains and camp under the stars—and find waterfalls to swim in.”

“A week, sire?” said Arfur. “I don’t think that is wise. What about your uncle?”

“Uncle?” enquired Meagana.

“Nothing. Come sire, let us go.”
I blog about games and Fantasy and Science Fiction writing at http://marklord.info
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Post Mon May 01, 2017 5:27 pm

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

very fun...keep it going...good work!

Cheers,

Blue
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Post Mon May 01, 2017 6:26 pm

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Thank you!


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Post Mon May 08, 2017 11:13 am

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

And here's part 2!

Holiday in Orkrania Part 2 – Drew Complains to Gundrun

Six pence and 2 farthings a night was perfectly reasonable as far as Drew Hafepenny was concerned. After all his name was Hafepenny was it not, and as his old gramps had always said, “Look after the hafepenny’s and the rest will look after themselves,” no one knew exactly what was meant by this—whether it referred to budgeting matters or an attitude to the rest of the world outside the family was never quite established—after all old gramps Hafepenny usually disappeared behind a fug of pipe-smoke after giving this sage pronouncement.

These dwarves were certainly good for it. Hacking bits of gold out of the Orkranian hills as they had been for the last year certainly wasn’t going to make them any poorer. But, their “leader” Gundrun Rocksplitter, didn’t see it the same way. Drew would much rather be stirring tonight’s rabbit stew and checking it had enough salt than arguing over the cost of boarding per dirty dwarf prospecter.

“It’s daylight robbery, that’s what it is,” grumbled Gundrun, gulping the ale, his grey moustache coming away from frothy as he looked up at Drew across the table.

The cheek of the dwarf, thought Drew, to sit drinking my ale and say that—I don’t think I said on the house did I—he’s going to pay for that pint if he keeps arguing this.

Containing his anger, Drew twiddled his thumbs as he always did when he was agitated, and said, “It’s always been six pennies and a farthing for a pallet in the common room. I can’t start giving preferential rates—besides your lot aren’t always the easiest of guests.”

Gundrun harrumphed loudly at this. “If it weren’t for the mining boys there’d be no other guests in the common room—besides dwarfs who else is even staying at the inn!”

Drew scowled. Gundrun had a point—they were in the back of nowhere, like an old cupboard someone had forgotten about—but Drew knew that Nstaad was just waiting for boom time—not as a gold town, but as a destination for the rich of Hyperia who were all abuzz with the new fad of “holiday-making”. He’d bought the old coaching inn to take advantage of that—the old Orkranian hills were particularly picturesque and no one worried about the threat of orcs and goblins now—just legends they were.

Drew’s silence just prompted another verbal assault from Gundrun—he was unstoppable—”and what do you mean by ‘the easiest of guests.’”

Drew wouldn’t let this one go unanswered. “Hah well—I would call dragging in lots of dirt not particularly easy, and also there’s the brawling and the breaking of chairs …”

“All paid for and settled on account,” cut in Gundrun, beetling his eyebrows at Drew in a deep frown.

“And worse of all,” countered Drew, “they hardly ever eat our meals—always off cooking on their own fires—I even caught a couple of them using the hearth to spit-roast a couple of coneys the other week—the cheek of it.”

“These are hard-working dwarves—not made of money—they’re here to work hard to support their families—most of what they make goes back home.”

Drew was about to respond when there was a yip-yap from around his ankles. A small dog with tight white curly fur was sniffing around under the table looking for food. Drew frowned and then noticed a couple more dogs lolling around near the hearth of the common room.

Drew bellowed to the barkeep—his cousin Odo, “Who let the dogs in?!”

One of the dogs near the hearth started barking gruffly and loud—the poodle sprang away from under the table and all three of them exited from the front door or the inn.

Odo shook his head. “Dunno. Gone now though. Almost as if they could hear you Drew.” The Halfling jumped off the step that ran behind the bar and came round to shut the front door. “There. That’ll keep ‘em out.”

Drew shook his head. That was odd. Now he just had to get rid of these penny pinching dwarves. “As bad as dogs,” he muttered.

“What was that,” snapped Gundrun, putting down his tankard with a slam.

Drew took a deep breath. “Your lot need to clean up your act and start paying your way, or you’re out as well.”

The dwarf’s face started turning red above the grey of his beard. He punched the table with a fist. “You want to send away paying customers then that’s your choice, but don’t expect us to protect your midget backsides.”

“Protect? From what?”

Gundrun curled his lip, revealing a set of larger than expected yellowing teeth. “There’s more in these hills than gold and goats you know.”

Drew shook his head. “The goblins all disappeared down their holes years ago. They’re not in the Orkranian hills any longer, cleared off to the Granite Mountains long ago.”

Gundrun shook his head. “That’s the story the King and the Duke might spin—that we’re all safe and nothing to worry about, but my boys they can tell there’s something not right. We can smell them.”

Drew barked a laugh in Gundrun’s face. “Smell your own stinking armpits more like! Go on. Enough of this. Unless I get the rent I’m owned for all the miners by tomorrow then that’s it—they can find somewhere else to stay.”

Gundrun stood up and straightened his leather jack and smoothed down his beard over the key that he always wore around his neck. “They’ll be gone by this evening. We have tents enough up at the Exchange and Mart.”

Drew stood up as well, but regretted it. At least sitting across from Gundrun he didn’t feel his lack of stature compared to the dwarf who now had nearly two foot of height on him.

The front door opened. “Don’t let any dogs in,” shouted Odo. But it was just two of the human hikers that entered. The tall posh one with floaty hair and what looked like an expensive longsword at his side and the one that had the appearance of a bodyguard or a bouncer. Drew wondered idly if he’d like a job at the inn—collecting debts from non-paying dwarves perhaps?

The tall one smiled. “No dogs, just us. A glass of red I think would suit me. Shilby?”

“Ale,” the other said.

Gundrun turned on his heal. “Last you’ll be seeing of me, then,” he said, his back to Drew as he walked towards the door, grabbing it from the man called it Shilby, who gave him a nasty look. “The boys will be gone by nightfall, I’ll spread the word.”

“There’s bar tabs to settle,” shouted Drew as Gundrun walked through the doorway.

The tall man smiled. “Hmmm, the little people are arguing, how quaint.”

Drew said nothing, but turned and went to polish some glasses. He didn’t know who was worse tight-fisted dwarves, or arrogant humans. At least the humans had paid in advance.
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Post Tue May 16, 2017 10:28 am

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

A fairly short section here to follow on to Part 1 and Part 2 of Holiday in Orkrania. Introduces a key character though – the wyvern riding Orc chief Grim Bearit.

Grundyr pawed the mountain crag uneasily. Grim pulled back the iron chain that acted a rein and halter for the great wyvern and grunted. “Enough. Stay will ya.

The wyvern sighed moodily—two jets of exhaled breath condensed like smoke in the air in front of it, but it stopped moving.

“That’s my girl,” said Grim, punching the beast affectionately on the neck. He sat up in the saddle and peered down into the valley. Through a break in the clouds he could see the green valley below. The stunties, longshanks and midgets called it Nstaad. Grim chuckled to himself. Soon he would give it a new name: Slaughterhouse!

Not for nothing had he assembled the largest tribe of orcs to come out of the Orkranian mountains in a generation. He knew what was down there and so did his boyz. Most of them were from the granites of course like himself—only weedy cowards still dwelt in Orkrania—too scared and snivelling to show their faces above ground. But the granites were overcrowed—no good loot or tasty man-flesh to eat their—it was an orc eat orc existence alright—hard as—and his teeth and gums weren’t getting any younger. He’d seen the writing on the wall last year (not that he could read or write though) and brought a hundred like minded orcs from his tribe with him—to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere. Those opportunities were made more urgent when the Broken Hand tribe had turned in on itself in a bitter fight for leadership. Grim knew he was best off out of that—well he had lost as well and would have been killed if he hadn’t fled with the core of his own bodyguard and those others loyal and foolish enough to back him against his brother—Snaarit.

It looked very green in the valley of Nstaad, but Grim knew there was gold down there as well—that’s what the stunties had been spending the last year digging up. Some of the boyz had said let’s get it now—break into their mines, but Grim knew better. Why fight over a few nuggets when the stunties would do them the favour of gathering it all together for them in one place, and then they could go down and take it all for themselves.

One of the little gobboes had sneaked in—done some recce work. The news he brought back was all good—the place where they kept the gold wad almost unguarded—just a few stunties in tents outside and old stunty who was probably the one in charge—the gobbo had seen him with a large key round his neck a few times—Grim would need that key. Then there was the old inn—it had walls, so could be defended, but there was not much to worry about there—it was run by a few fat halflings—they’d be easy pickings.

Grim grinned. He’d be feeding on fat halfling roast and drinking their ale by nightfall. He couldn’t wait.
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Post Thu Jun 22, 2017 10:30 am

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Part 4 of my Oldhammer Fiction novella – see Part 1 https://marklord.info/2017/04/18/holiday-in-orkrania-oldhammer-fiction-part-1/for the start of the story.

Lola watched as Max, Bella and Oscar trotted back from the front door of the inn. Behind her Alfie growled, barely restraining his aggression. She turned her neck and bared her sharp teeth at the pitbull. Be quiet.

The three dogs entered the edge of the forest and approached Lola, their tails between their legs, submissive. She stood up, towering over them on her long Doberman’s legs. She scolded them with some short sharp yaps. What happened? I told you to stay and find out where the men are.

Bella bounded forward, eager to please, and barked an answer. We did see the men—two of them, but we were chased off.

What? replied Lola. One simple thing …

It was his fault, butted in Oscar, curling his lip at Max, the dirty white poodle. Couldn’t keep his hunger to himself, went sniffing round the tables and the Halfling innkeep noticed us and sent us out.

Max shied away, lay down and put his head down between his paws. Lola stood over him, wondering what to do. They couldn’t afford mistakes like this.

Then Poppy emerged from the ferns. I was at the stables like you told me to, she yapped in her annoying Terrier voice. There’s six horses, that means Shilby, Hardlee and four others. The other four have the livery of the Royal Guard on the saddle cloths—not very well disguised but the men are dressed as normal travellers.

Well done Poppy, at least I can rely on you, barked Lola. Were the guards still at the stables?

No they were there just seeing to their horses. They went inside to eat and drink I think.

Anyone else in the stables?

Poppy shook her head, and let her tongue loll out to cool down. She’d run all the way back.

Good. I don’t think we’ll get back in through the front door, but maybe one of the servants has left a back door open. Each of you get your knife bundles out and drag them with you to the stables.

The dogs hurried around the clearing and produced small leather bundles that were hidden in the ferns. There were larger piles of bags underneath—containing clothes, boots, traveling capes and cooking utensils.

Not you Max.

Max turned and looked at Lola with big brown eyes. Silly pup, she thought. But she couldn’t help feel a pang of guilt for singling him out. Max was the youngest—an adolescent in human terms, and not quite fully grown in terms of a dog. He annoyed him in some ways, but she felt protective to him as well.

You’re going to stay here—look after our kit until we get back.

But Lola, he whined, you promised. My first kill …

Lola sniggered. A strange sound for a dog to make and came out like a growl. You’re along for the ride kid. I don’t expect you to do any killing—least of all assassinating the Crown Prince of Hyperia.

Max turned his back and went and sat near their bags hidden in the ferns. He didn’t look at Lola.

Whatever, she thought. I’ll deal with that later.

Lola and the other older dogs trotted up the hill towards the inn, but giving the front entrance a wide birth. Even so they had to enter the gate in the large courtyard wall that surrounded the buildings of the inn. The gate was large stout and wooden—big enough to allow a coach to come in, and the walls next to it were over ten feet high—a reminder that this always hadn’t been a holiday destination—there used to be trouble in the hills, Lola remembered—half-remembered tales of orcs, goblins, trolls even. But now the most dangerous things here were her and her pack. Their shapeshifting ability was a curse of birth and a blessing—not restricted like were-beasts to only changing at the full-moon, they could change from dog to human at will—but that made them outcasts as well if normal humans knew of their abilities—that’s why although none of them were related they stuck together like a family. And they made the best of their abilities. No one gave a second glance if it was sniffing round for scraps in a lord’s hall or an inn—it allowed a shapeshifter assassin easy entry, and then it could either attack in dog form if the chance presented itself, or change to a human if sheer savagery was not required—that was the usual method in fact—it allowed a quieter kill and then escape again as a dog, who couldn’t be blamed for the kill as there were no teeth marks were there?

How they were going to kill the prince, she hadn’t yet decided. First they needed to know where he was and then most likely they would wait until he was alone, or with just one or two of his companions, and then in human form they would strike while he slept. Lola wanted them to get into the inn first.

They reached the stables which were to the right of the main building where the taproom, the common room, kitchen and private rooms were located. There was no one there—just six horses occupying stalls in the row of a dozen that the inn had. There was a room for storing tack and a large covered area that would house a coach too if there was one there. A shut door lead into the main inn building. The horses were dopey and content when the entered the stable yard, but when they got there they started to become agitated.

Bella, a sheepdog began her transformation into a human. The horses immediately began to whinny and stamp.

The black and white hairs of Bella’s fur retracted into her body and her whole frame lengthened and straightened until she was standing on two legs, her dog’s snout retracted into her face in a few seconds leaving the smooth skin of a young woman. Her hair was black streaked with white. She stood there naked, shivering and pulling at the small bag that she had carried with her.

Lola growled. You fool. No clothes and you look like a fool now.

“We’re stronger like this,” said Alfie, who had also changed from a pitbull into a squat, muscular bald man. He was gripping his dagger already. “I’m ready to kill.”

Poppy was on all fours next to him changing more slowly. Her body writing as it did so, struggling against the change—that could happen sometimes, some found the transformation between species more difficult to handle than others. With a grunt the hairs retracted into her body and she restrained a yelp as her bones and muscles changed. She was a petite human with curly brunette hair, but she stayed on all fours panting as she recovered from her ordeal.

That’s when the man stumbled through the door that lead to the interior of the inn. He stumbled because he had been drinking, some formidable Halfling brew known as Knock Knees 7. His arm was around the diminutive shoulders of a Halfling barmaid, two and a half feet shorter than him. She was giggling and innefectually slapping away his hands which were trying to make their way under her dress.

The cheery expression on the man’s face disappeared as he saw the scene in the stableyard. “What is this place a brothel? Already at it I see?” He pointed at Poppy on her knees. “Did you force her?” he accused Alfie with slurring voice. “I don’t hold with that.”

Alfie shook his head. “Na. Not that. We’d rather have privacy though if you don’t mind.”

The man frowned and looked around. Probably wondering why there were dogs around as well as two naked women and a man. Then Oscar came loping into the yard—dragging his hind legs and tail behind him. He always liked to change in private as his transformation was by no means easy—only half his body changing at one time, the other half following up to several minutes later. The front part of him was a man, the rear half that of a hunting hound.

“What the …?” said the man. His last word would have been the act that he would perhaps have liked to have been doing when he died, but instead he just said it when Alfie plunged is dagger into his heart. The Halfling barmaid screamed. Lola bit at her leg and dragged her to ground and the others bundled on top of her to quieten her down. She soon stopped struggling and was still.

Lola raised her red fangs from the flesh of the halfling’s leg. The time for stealth is over then. Into the inn and find the prince! she barked.
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Post Thu Jun 22, 2017 9:52 pm

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Surprisingly engaging, keep up the good work :D

Paul / Golgfag1
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Post Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:46 am

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Golgfag1 wrote:Surprisingly engaging, keep up the good work :D

Paul / Golgfag1
Cheers! Have some more parts to post soon.


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Post Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:28 pm

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Here's Part 5 - Lola's Pack Attack. You can see more on my blog at https://marklord.info

Drew gritted his teeth as he polished dry another flagon. The orders for beer and ale were coming thick and fast. The taproom and the common room were both full of dwarfs who seemed intent on emptying the inn’s supplies of anything liquid. They’d have to siphon off the stream soon enough and tell the miners that it was a new transparent type of beer—very high proof, and see if they noticed. Most of them were so drunk by now that Drew doubted they would.

“And they’re paying for all of this?” asked Rose, Drew’s wife as she pushed a tap into a new barrel that Jase, their son had just rolled up from the cellar.

“They will do,” said Drew, “they will do.”

“All on credit, again, Drew? What did I tell you. We can’t run a business on credit!”

Drew blushed. He knew she was right—he was worried about it too—that the dwarves would never pay, yet he’d made the decision, to he defended it. “There’s gold in those hills, Rose. Plenty of gold. So they’re good for it—of that I’m sure.”

“Even now that you’ve turfed them out—they are taking the proverbial if you ask me before they go. If you ask me…”

Drew never did get to ask his wife the question she so wanted him to ask her. Despite the noise of two dozen dwarf miners drinking and singing, the commotion that came from the door to the stables rose above that to draw Drew’s attention.

Drew saw a Dwarf looking angry on the far side of the tap-room as the door from the stables opened, nudging his arm and causing him to spill his pint. A large dog—black and brown, a doberman, burst through the door followed by two men and two women. Apart from the hikers he didn’t have any other human guests—and besides they usually wore clothes. One of the dwarves whistled as the naked women pushed past. They seemed intent on getting through the crowd of miners as quickly as possible. The dog was growling.

Drew got onto the higher step behind the bar—better to be seen. “What’s this then. Who are you—we don’t want any actors or whores here. Where are your bloody clothes?”

That drew a round of jeers and more whistles from the drinking miners.

“Everybody shut up,” snarled one of the naked men. A squat brute of a fellow—could have been a dwarf except he had no beard and was completely bald. “Let us through or else.”

“Else what?” grumbled a grey-bearded dwarf standing at his elbow. “Who do you think you are laddie?”

“Grr, no one calls me laddie,” the man snarled again, spittle shooting from his mouth as he turned on the old dwarf miner. The doberman was at the man’s heals and barking, what almost sounded like a warning.

The greybeard wiped the man’s spittle from his beart and glaring with eyes like candles in the depths of a deep mine drew back the fist holding his pewter flagon and smashed it into the face of the bald man. The man’s head reeled, but he seemed to have been expecting it and was prepared to take the hit in the face. The elbow connected to the forearm and hand holding his dagger pumped backwards like a mechanical piston and punched the sharp point of the dagger into the old dwarf. The longbeard groaned in pain as the blade stabbed into his guts and slumped to the ground, wailing like a babe.

The response of the dwarves around the bar was rapid if predictable—let no-one tell you that dwarves are slow. Once roused to anger their ferocity can stir them to hasty action. The taproom descended into a maelstrom of punching fists, slashing daggers and whirling dwarf picks. Several miners swung and grabbed at the bald man who had stabbed their, but he was very swift. So swift in fact that before the eyes of Drew he actually disappeared from view, and instead he could hear dogs—more than just the Doberman snapping and snarling at the legs of the dwarfs, several who yelped in pain as large canines sunk into their calves and thighs.

The two women did not stand watching, but instead slashed out with theirs knives, held in a reverse grip to rake the faces of the dwarves. That’s as much damage as they could do like that—a stabbing action was better, but now that battle was joined that required getting closer to the dwarves—dangerous work when hard fists and harder picks were being swung. In fact some of those fists and picks were a danger to other dwarves.

The other man, who hadn’t disappeared pushed over two nearby tables to hold back the surging mass of angry, drunken dwarves—creating a corridor next to the bar towards the stairs and then ran quickly past them and up the stairs. Drew took a swing at him with a flagon but missed by a country mile and nearly unbalanced himself to topple to the ground.

“Everyone stop!” he shouted. “This instance.”

But no-one seemed to hear or care what he said. The he saw Jase, who had been collecting cups near the door, hit by a swinging dwarf pick. There was blood splashed up and Drew thought the worst.

Drew jumped behind the bar and pulled off the door of the cabinet underneath the bar—he could fix the lock later. He pulled out the blunderbuss that he kept there—loaded and primed, he just needed to light the fuse. He did so behind the bar and then clambered up again to face the brawling chaos of the bar.

He didn’t know where to aim it—the women and the dogs were intermingled amongst the dwarves in an ungainly fight which seemed to be going nowhere but was causing a lot of damage to the fixtures and fittings of the taproom. He didn’t have to worry about aiming though. The fuse on the blunderbuss burnt quicker than he planned and the thing fired with an explosion louder and firier thane could have imagined. Blowing a whole in the ceiling and causing a light fitting to crash to the floor—luckily no candles were lit—but everyone ducked and stopped fighting at least for a few seconds.

When the dust and smoke cleared the fighting broke out again—some of it was dwarf against naked human and dog, some of it was directed at other haflings, but sadly much of it seemed to be a squabble between dwarves.

Nevertheless, one young dwarf miner, so young that his facial hair was not much more than a tufty excuse for growth, was bundled out of the front door of the inn. “Go and get Gundrun,” he was told. “We need help down here.”

The young dwarf, who was also quite long-legged for a dwarf and thus a bit faster than most, dashed out of the inn door, through the gate of the wall that surrounded the courtyard. He turned right and around the corner of the wall began jogging up the slope of the valley towards Gundrun’s Exchange. There was a rough track that led up the slope and crossed the fast running stream that ran through Nstaad. A wooden bridge, built by dwarves spanned it, and there was a ford next to it—where the stream was shallower, but slippery rocks and the speed of the stream, fed on thawed ice, meant that crossing that way would be precarious at best.

But the young dwarf had no thought of that while he ran. Just that he was missing the fight and he wanted to do as he was told, give Gundrun the message, and then get right back to the inn as soon as he could.

Gundrun was in his element when he arrived. The old dwarf was in the front of the exchange building with a long line of miners standing queueing out of the door. These miners, who were all camped around the exchange building were newly down from the hills. They’d brought their finds with them—nuggets of gold, and now they wanted to know how much they were worth.

“Hurry it up,” grumbled one of them who was near the back of the line. “I want to get going before nightfall.”

“Why? Ready to retire are you?” grumbled another over his shoulder as he turned and glared at the impatient dwarf.

“Huh! Chance’d be a fine thing. No. These hills aren’t safe. Time to move on.”

“Nonsense …” the dwarf in front was about to continue the argument, but stopped when he saw the young, long-legged dwarf rush to the door of the exchange. Almost looked like a human he did. “Oi, where you going. There’s a line.”

The young dwarf, panting, ignored the complaints of the dwarves standing in line and pushed through to where Gundrun stood behind his counter, a small magnifying glass to wedged in one eye socket, appraising in detail the gold crystals in one quite large nugget of rock.

“Gundrun …” panted the dwarf. “Come … quick … a fight.”

Gundrun looked up the glass still in his eye and saw at extreme close up the scruffy thatch of the young dwarves beard, barely covering the lad’s acne. “Oooh,” he said and removed the magnifying glass in a hurry. “What’s that boy?”

“Fighting at the inn,” the dwarf gasped, bending over to catch his breath. “I was sent to get help.”

“What!” roared Gundrun. “Trying to evict our boys ahead of time are they? I won’t be having that.”

“Dogs and humans—no clothes on,” said the young dwarf.

“Eh? What’s that?”

“Dogs—biting at ankles, and naked women with knives.”

Several of the miners waiting in the queue had now huddled round to listen. “They’ve set dogs on our brothers have they—those bastard halflings!”

“What’s this about naked women?” said another.

“The actress perhaps—the elf girl from the temple—have you seen her…”

“OK lads, let’s not hang around fantasising,” snapped Gundrun. “Our brothers are in trouble. Grab your weapons—a helm and shield if you have one handy and let’s get down to the inn.”

There were twenty one of them all told. Gundrun gave the young lanky dwarf—Smartsch was his name—a spare axe and a shield, and grabbed his own trusty warhammer. He’d had time to slip on a coat of plates—leather with metal plates sown into the lining, and slapped a round helm on his head—that would have to do—but after all what armour and weaponry could Drew and his extended family muster—some knives and short bows at best. The dwarves would not take this lying down—oh no!

“Right then lads,” said Gundrun, looking at the motley crew of miners—most had just grabbed their picks for weapons, but some had axes as well—mostly used for chopping wood though rather than skulls—these were workers on the whole rather than warriors—although a few did have helms and swords that they’d grabbed from their tents. “Let’s not run—no point getting out of breath—need to save energies for hewing halflings, but let’s not hang about either. Let’s go!”
I blog about games and Fantasy and Science Fiction writing at http://marklord.info

Posts: 22

Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2016 8:57 am

Location: Hertfordshire, UK

Post Thu Jul 20, 2017 10:19 am

Re: Oldhammer Fiction

Time for Part 6 - Grim Bearit and his army of Orcs and Goblins Attack!! Waargh!!

Part 6 of my Oldhammer Fiction novella Holdiday in Orkrania. See Part 1 at http://marklord.info/2017/04/18/holiday-in-orkrania-oldhammer-fiction-part-1/ for the start and a synopsis.

The forested slopes of the mountain overlooking the village of Nstaad were quite—mostly. Apart from the sound of Grim’s wyvern snacking one of the runty goblin slaves, the place where Grim sat high in a tree watching the valley was peaceful. His army rested, waiting for the daylight and the cruel burning of the sun to pass. They planned to attack at night. So his army of orcs and goblins were down below in shelters on the forest floor, or tucked away in some of the small caves on the mountain slope. But Grim didn’t rest of sleep. He watched, always watching, to see what his enemy was doing. He had spent the last year watching the tribe of the Broken Hand from his refuge in the Orkranian mountains, waiting for an opening, an opportunity—and now one had come. The chance to seize the wealth of the miners of Nstaad and build an army to take back power over the Broken Hand tribe once more.

He stood up from the barrel on which he sat, and grabbing the trunk of the tree for support stepped towards the edge of the platform. A simple railing provided enough support for him to lean his weight on and gaze out.

Ra’zle and his goblin engineers had built him this wooden platform on his orders so that he could keep watch on Nstaad. Little seemed to be happening in the valley below—he could see the small encampment of tents outside the gold exchange. That would be their main target of course. Grim assumed that was where the gold must be, but if not they could torture the dwarves they captured until they gave up the secret of its location.

But how to best use his forces to make sure they seized what they needed—they would have the advantage of surprise and of numbers, but the dwarfs could be stubborn fighters—especially where gold was concerned.

There was a rustle of leaves behind Grim, it was Shur Burt, a shaman of Urk and self-appointed chief counsellor to the rightful king of the Broken Hand tribe.

“Whadya want?” growled Grim, not happy to be disturbed. He much preferred being alone with his own thoughts when working out a plan of battle.

Shur Burt bowed and scraped, pawing the ground ag Grim’s feet as he knelt before him. He seemed to make a speciality of grovelling, and Grim knew that he wanted something—most likely to push his own ideas.

“Oh great high king, I come to hear your words of wisdom on how we will be successful in the battle to come.”

Grim thought about asking Shur Burt for his thoughts, but paused—that would be a show of weakness that no Orc leader could afford.

“Why da ya wanta know? Just do what I telz you.”

“Of course master, never anything less, and sometimes more.”

“Uh?” Grim wasn’t sure what Shur Burt meant by that—probably the shaman’s attempt to fool him with his greater command of frilly words. The fool would suffer if he kept that up.

“As well as the sharp blades of your soldiers I can also provide much help when I call on mighty Urk to help us, but to do so I need to prepare and check that the portents allow it. Enlighten me oh mighty Grim.”

“Come here,” snapped Grim, losing his patience. He grabbed Shur Burt by the necklace of shrunken heads that he wore and dragged him to the rail of the platform that overlooked the valley below. Shur Burt gulped audibly as the force of Grim’s handling of him forced him into the rail and nearly toppled him over the edge. It was only a drop of thirty feet, but still enough to kill or seriously maim.

“There’s the valley of Nstaad. The gold exchange nearest to us on this side of the stream, and then the old coaching inn beyond the bridge, and to the far left of the inn the grove—they say an elven witch dwells there, so we’ll avoid that, but I’ll keep watch on it from above with my wyvern in case she emerges—and then,” Grim chuckled, “well you can deal wiv that can’t you?”

Shur Burt gulped and nodded. Grim relaxed his grip on the shaman and brought him back from the edge.

“And then what else? Well the Hard Core Boyz, they’ll do the main attackin’ won’t they—always do and they won’t have it any other way—they can take on the dwarves in their little house full of gold. But some of my own boyz will be right behind them—they’ll make sure everyone stays honest and don’t try ta take any gold what isn’t there’s, coz it’s all mine see?”

Shur Burt nodded furiously at that, fearing another close view of the forest floor.

Grim drummed his stubby green fingers on the railing. “Wot elze, eh? The gobboes. How best to use them? They’re disciplined. The hobgob whips keep them in check. But they’re a bit feeble if they’ze come against some dwarves direct. But they’re quick and the wolf gobs can go on ahead quick as lightening.”

“Against the halflings?” wheeled Shur Burt, hoping that his suggestion didn’t cause enough displeasure for him to get slammed against the railing again.

“The inn?” grunted Grim. “The gobboes and the hobgobs fight for money and loot so maybe—they can loot the inn and take that as payment for this month. I’ll as much gold left over as we can getz.”

Shur Burt nodded. “Of course, master. To take back what is rightfully yours from King ??”

Grim slammed Shur Burt’s head into the railing and the shaman nearly passed out with the pain—he saw a bright light that could been a million explosions inside his head combining into one. “He’s no king, awright!”

Shur Burt was in too much pain to respond at first. He crouched on the floor, feeling his head. Something felt a bit sticky in the matted grease of hair. His fingers came back coated in a sticky black liquid when he touched it—his own blood.

“Understand?” asked Grim.

Shur Burt nodded. “Yes master, I’ll steer clear of that word again. So sorry.”

“Steer clear …” pondered Grim. “Yes that’s what the gobboes should do to start with—well at least until we seez how things go. We’ll keep ‘em back in the woods. Maybe send some wolf boyz round the inn to cut off an escape. Good idea, Shur.”

Grim raised a meaty fist again over Shur Burt’s head, and the shaman cowered beneath the expected blow.

“You’re a kidder,” said Grim as he patted Shur Burt gently on the head. “You wanna get that cut looked at—looks a bit nasty.”

Grim turned to go. He’d had enough on this windy platform for the moment, and he was hungry. But then some movement down in the valley caught his eye. While he’d been conversing with the shaman, things had been happening in the valley of Nstaad. A large group of dwarves were assembled in front of the gold exchange, and were even now marching down the path towards the bridge and beyond it the inn.

Grim stood there, his jaw hanging in amazement.

“Dey’re going! They’ll have the gold wiv them. We’ve gotta move quick boyz!” he shouted. “Everyone wake up. Time to kill stunties!”
I blog about games and Fantasy and Science Fiction writing at http://marklord.info

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