An Orc for All Seasons; Chapter 17

Slothjemian nobility has less to do than the aristocracy in more feudalistic societies. They determine the amount of taxes their estates owe based on criteria dictated by the Lord Revenuer’s office, but other than that, they have very little function. This frees them up to serve in the military, civil service, or, more infrequently, as law enforcement. There are two types of noble in the realm, Crown (meaning they collect relatively small incomes from their estates because the bulk of the taxes go to the Empire, but the Empire takes care of most of their basic needs) and Independent (they get to keep more of their income, but have to rely on their own means to do most everything, with minimal help from the Empire). These statuses can vary from year to year depending on how the monarch feels at any given time, and can be used to keep powerful lords in check.

 Chapter 17

The officers gathered together, and Grundoon had them sit or stand at ease wherever they could find room. He cleared his throat and looked at them all. He was proud of these men. They had made the march here in very good time and arrived in remarkably good spirits. They were more than up to the upcoming fight. He had just met with Major Hemlock and gotten a full report on what he and the other spellcasters were going to have ready for the fight.

“Alright, quick reminder of what we are facing. An intrepid fellow brought me some information about our enemy.” Grundoon waved the notes in his hand. “If it is true, then we are facing more Romillian soldiers than we were anticipating. But, on the plus side of the ledger, most of their best troops were wiped out yesterday. That makes our job easier.”

Grundoon walked in a small circle so he could speak to each of his officers. “Remember that the dwarven grenadiers are the best infantry we are likely to ever encounter. Also remember that they are specially trained to take down the heavy hitters on our side, especially the ogres. So, keep an eye on your troops, keep the big boys surrounded by smaller soldiers able to fend off the dwarves, and do your best to keep the axe-wielding little bastards at spear-length distance as much as you can.”

“The trolls and I have a little surprise in store for the Romillians, and they all know what to do. Or so I hope.” The officers laughed at this, knowing how headstrong and dull trolls tended to be. “When I give the command, we might just be able to send the Romillian rear echelon running. If the scheme fails, we don’t lose much. But let’s hope it succeeds.”

“Our battle starts when you hear that big bombard over there go off.” Grundoon pointed to the north side of the farmhouse. “The ogres did a fine job of aiming that damn thing at the undamaged juggernaut down the road. According to these notes, the juggernaut is serving as the enemy headquarters. Hemlock has figured a way to disrupt the wards protecting it just long enough for us to punch it with a shot from the bombard. Kozzurd is going to lob some magic into the thing, so let’s hope that the bombard knocks a big enough hole in it.”

“Alright, that’s about it. You all know your roles, where you are supposed to be, and what we are going to accomplish here today.” Grundoon paused and took a deep breath. “Let’s get going and remind your men about the essentials.” He clapped his hands together. “Armor up, boys!”

The officers snapped to attention and rushed out to their respective commands. A soldier from the 1st Army passed them on their way out and called for the general. Grundoon looked at the man and saw that he had been injured in the fight yesterday. “Yes, soldier?”

“Sir, there is a Romillian delegation under a white flag heading this way.” He was almost breathless. Grundoon set a hand on his shoulder and smiled.

“Calm…..calm….. don’t get worked up yet. We have a fight coming up. Save your energy.” He turned to Jandle. “Find me some captains’ insignia, Jandle. Quick.”

Jandle scampered off. He returned almost too quickly with Captain Grokwan. The orog pulled off the insignia from his lapel and handed them over to Grundoon. The general removed his own insignia, and handed them to Jandle, and pinned the captains’ on. “How is it? Am I captain material?” Jandle snickered, and the orog laughed.

“A little old for a captain. What did you do, refuse to marry a marshal’s daughter?” All three laughed. Grundoon slapped the orog on the shoulder.

“Ok, let’s go see what they want.” The trio stepped out of the ramshackle shelter and into the downpour. “I hope they don’t want to surrender, because I don’t plan on taking any captives today.” Grundoon motioned to a couple of other soldiers to join him.

They headed the few yards to where the Slothjemians had set up their defensive line. Grundoon waved his hand to indicate everyone stay down and out of sight as much as possible. He didn’t want the Romillians to know how many men he had. He could just make out the delegation coming through the mud on what was left of the east road.

Grundoon stood and watched them make their way towards them. When they got close enough to hear him yell, he bellowed out “HOLD! STOP WHERE YOU ARE!” The Romillians did as they were told.

Their designated leader called back “WE’VE COME TO PARLEY!” The speaker was clearly a hussar, and a proud one at that. His armor was gilded, and from the top of his golden helm there flowed a long, white horsehair tassel. His shield was equally exquisite, and from where he was standing Grundoon didn’t think this man had seen battle recently.

Grundoon looked at his little company of men and motioned for them to follow him. He clutched his axe in his right hand and stomped through the mud towards the Romillians. Jandle, Grokwan, and three other soldiers all splashed along behind him. They walked up to where the Romillians were and stopped a few yards away. Grundoon looked at the enemy delegation. There were two hussars, the elite human cavalry of Romillia, two grenadiers who were the elite dwarven infantry, and three other soldiers who looked to be conscripted from the civilian populace. Slothjemia had a professional military, which although small, was more than capable of handling an opposing conscripted army.

“What do you want?” Bellowed Grundoon. The rain hammered on his helmet, and he could hear it pinging off of his armor.

The hussar in charge stood imperiously, arrogantly, and seemingly oblivious to the rain. “My lord demands your surrender. We have smashed your ability to block our way, and we intend no further delay.” Grundoon thought that the man sounded like every jerk of a high elf he had ever encountered. But he was clearly human under all of that golden armor.

The orc looked long and hard at the hussar. “Who is your lord, that makes such an arrogant demand of us?” Grundoon struggled to prevent his anger from bubbling up too quickly.

“Prince Holburt, Archduke of Linkristle, Supreme Marshal of Romillia, and an heir to the throne of the dwarven king.” The hussar was a proud man, that much was obvious to all. “And who are you to stand in the way of our army?”

Grundoon tightened his grip on his axe. “I am Grundoon. Captain in her majesty Reichsha’s army.” He wished that there was no white flag to honor. “My title is that of primary obstacle to your ridiculous little army, and its’ pathetic attempt to invade our soil.”

The hussar seemed at a loss for words. Grundoon continued. “I will not step aside. My men will not surrender. And you will die here today.” Grundoon turned and headed back to the Slothjemian line. “Give my regards to your master. He’ll be dead by the time I get to meet him.” The other soldiers backed away from the Romillians.

The hussar and his men stood there in the rain for a moment, then they too made their way back towards their line. When Grundoon got back to the line, he barked out for the men to ready themselves. “This is it, boys. Brace! Be steady! Sorcerers and clerics take your places and have your shield bearers ready!” The general dropped his voice to a whisper as he said to Grokwan “Call the sentries back in. Now.” He turned to face the Romillian line. Jandle handed him his proper insignia, and Grundoon put them on. “This is it. We are going to have ourselves a wonderful fight.”

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