Ogre Here Ogre There
The wasteland sunrise dawned like it usually did, Rah-Ka the god of the Crimson Blight drove his red chariot above the jagged peaks of the Demons Teeth. Gral awoke as a beam of the cursed sun struck him in the eye. He blinked and moved his head to avoid the light and tried to go back to sleep. Gral didn’t like mornings, he’d rather sleep until the sun hung low in the sky, and stay out when it was cooler.
Finding sleep to be unobtainable and his bladder demanding to be relieved he figured it was time to get up. He turned his head and looked at his ever present companion, Nog. A bit of drool was running down his chin and he begun to snore. Gral sometimes wondered why Rah-Ka, cursed be his name, had decided to put him with Nog. It wasn’t all bad his brother was a hard worker and much smarter than Gral. Whenever they needed to call upon the elements Gral wasn’t any help, while his brother Nog could weave the lines better than most Magi.
Gral tried to get up but without Nog’s help it wasn’t easy, so he poked him in the eye, “Nog, ‘ey! Gets up!”
Nog didn’t even seem to notice the eye poke, he mumbled, “No ma, Nog tired, eighth ‘our more.”
Gral rolled his yellow eye and moaned, their bladder was killing him. “Nog, rats!”
His brother’s eyelid snapped open revealing his red eye, and he looked around skittishly, “Rats, rats, where?”
Gral laughed a deep belly laugh and slapped his knee. “Nog you easy scare!”
When the rats didn’t appear chewing on his ears, Nog scowled, “Gral why you do ‘tuff like dat?”
He ignored his sleepy brother, “Up, move! We needs pee.”
Nog must have felt it too, and with his help they moved their body together and staggered to the door of the mud brick hut. Getting their twenty one hands tall, and twenty three stone weight body off the ground could sometimes be a challenge.
After finding the outhouse and taking care of the usual morning rituals, Nog wondered if they had anything left over from their cousin’s wedding last week. Now that had been a feast, roast goats and pigs, with apples stuffed in their mouths. Crimson sage berry wine, fire pit dancing, and all the plump Ogre women.
Thinking about goats and pigs reminded him to check on their animals, a thunderstorm had passed through the valley during the night, which was a fairly rare occurrence out here in the wastes at the feet of the Demons Teeth. Nog grabbed his well worn Blackwood staff and Magus pouches, while Gral picked up his sling, pouch of river rocks and a workers knife. They covered themselves with a ratty loincloth and a brown homespun tunic and were ready to face the day.
As Gral-Nog climbed the little hill the smell of stale blood wafted on the breeze. “Gral?” Nog asked his brother.
“I smell ‘em, run.” They hustled quickly for such a large Ogre, in moments they were atop the hill and they could look down into the animal pens. In seconds they could tell that something bad had happened during the night. Things just didn’t smell like they should.
Nog could feel that his Magus traps, and alarms hadn’t been tripped, whatever or whoever had done this was good. The goat fence had a whole section dismantled and the logs had been tossed aside haphazardly. They ran to the crude corral and hopped the fence. The lean to refuge for the goats to use in bad weather was empty. Their entire herd had been stolen.
Gral cursed, “Devourer take us!”
Nog looked at his brothers head, “Don’t say dat, bad fortune!”
“Open yer eye brother we has bad fortune!”
It was true; their herd of goats was a good portion of what they ate during the winter. But what had happened to the pigs? They should have been grunting looking for food. As Gral-Nog hopped the fence and approached the pig pen, the smell of death filled the air.
All of the Tusk-Swine had been slaughtered and left to rot. The Ogre dropped to his knees and bellowed a curse to the heavens. The poor pigs had their throats sliced open by sharp knives; they had bled out squealing in terror.
After regaining some composure the warrior in Gral began looking for tracks. The rain and stampeding pigs made it difficult but soon enough by the hole in the goat fence they found wagon tracks and small booted footprints in the packed dirt.
Gral saw the foorprints and remarked, “Dere is only one scum dat steal goats but leave dem pigs to rot.”
Nog nodded , “Dem ‘Blessed Children’ bunch ‘o pointy eared thieves and murderers, blessed indeed, more like dem spoiled brats.”
“Chaga eatin’ Elves! Why dey do this?” Gral growled as he picked up a fencepost and smashed it on a jagged boulder making toothpicks.
“We no pray dem wimpy gods.” Nog said with a shrug.
Gral could hardly contain his rage, the Elven cowards would die by his hand. He would enjoy sending them to the halls of torment reserved for the enemies of Rah-Ka, to boil in the lake of fire for all eternity. “We git militia, find dem Elves, crush dem bones.”
It had been years since the Crimson Blight clan had called up the militia for anything more than its fire fighting duties, much less any real combat. A generation ago the Alliance of Humans, Dwarves, and Elves, had been routed in their attempted conquest of the Blight. They had been beaten back by the combined might of all the Clans, including the lesser Ork-Kin races, the Orks, Gnolls, and Gobs.
In the middle of the town square hanging from sun beaten timbers was the massive militia drum. Every Ork-Kin able to lift a spear was required to keep at least three sharpened steel tipped spears at home; rust on any weaponry was severely punished. The last Gob that showed up to militia duty with a rusty spear with a cracked shaft had been forced to dig a well using a spoon and a bucket after a severe beating.
Over the top of their ratty tunic Gral-Nog donned their fathers Chain Mail shirt. Gret-Kon had been a massive Ogre, and two hands worth of links had to be removed from the back to get it to fit properly. He died leading a charge against the Alliance in the battle of the Devils Gap, when Gral-Nog was just a little wet nose. According to the graybeards Gret-Kon had taken three ballista bolts to the chest before falling, his armor was recovered after the battle and given to their mother Cha-Gaz.
Gral-Nog grabbed the two well worn beaters and pounded out the call to muster. In minutes the little Gobs living in town showed up with their pig stickers, and steel pot helmets. They milled about undisciplined, but that was to be expected. Gobs were puny little creatures that made humans seem almost giant in comparison. Most of the little greenies were only nine or ten hands high. In combat their best asset was their small target that even Elven archers had a hard time hitting.
A large dark green Ork named Grum showed up a few moments later. He carried a dead Elven champion’s bow, stained black and adorned with fur and feathers. His waist quiver bristled with black Raven arrows, made by expert Gnoll craftsmen. As required by the Clan he wore three steel tipped spears on his back. He saw Gral-Nog standing next to the militia drum and shot the two headed Ogre a ‘What in the hells?’ look. It was tradition that whoever used the drum on non drill days stand next to it so everyone knew who to blame.
Soon enough most of the valley had been mustered. There were about thirty Ogres, fifty Orks, sixty Gnolls, and over one hundred Gobs. Gral took a quick glance at one of the plump Ogre-women wielding a hammer. Katan, the warrior head had long green hair had been braided into a three foot long whip that she wrapped around her neck. The Magus head Jeet, had short hair tied into corn rows. Even though he really didn’t like Jeet, Gral nearly drooled when Katan was near.
Nog caught Gral sneaking a peek, he turned his head and whispered in his brothers ear. “Gral you idiot she’s gunna see you!”
Blacktooth, the militia captain a large black Ork nearly as tall as an Ogre, his hair was grey and beard long, his arms were crisscrossed with countless scars from many campaigns long forgotten by most but him. Despite his age he could still whip the snot out of all the assembled troops. He had been just a young snot nose in the service of the Clans when the Alliance invaded. He rode into town on the back of his wagon being drawn by two bulbous Tusk-Oxen. As the wagon approached a few straggling Gobs had to dive out of the way or be trampled and crushed.
Blacktooth bellowed as he leapt from the wagon, landing in front of the assembled mob, “Gral-Nog!” his Gnoll worker took the reins and went to park the wagon. “You’d betta’ have jundam good reason call dis muster!”
As soon as the captain arrived the militia fell into a halfway organized formation, with the smaller Gobs in the front and the taller Orks and Ogres in the back, they stood at attention in their mismatched armor, spears pointing at the cloudless sky. Crimson Blight banners whipped and snapped in the wind at the head of each group.
Nog began to sweat, was the captain going to thrash them? Gral grinned and met Blacktooth’s gaze. “Hail Captain Blacktooth! Aye, we gots good reason call muster!” He took a deep breath and continued, “Me home be ransacked. Goats stolen, ‘n swine killed.”
The assembled mob groaned, had they mustered just for some measly thieving? Blacktooth bared his teeth, he wasn’t smiling. He backhanded Gral, splitting his lip. The taste of blood filled his mouth. “Dat why you call us ‘ere den? Some thievin’ complaint?”
Nog stayed silent, he hadn’t wanted to call muster but his brother was the more dominant head. He stared at the mud sticking to the captains feet.
Gral met the captains gaze again, “No ‘aint just thievin’ or jokin’ dem intruders were Elves.”
The assembled militia gasped and fell silent. The Elves had a merciless reputation, they killed all Ork-Kin without any mercy. Blacktooth grabbed Gral-Nog’s leather harness and pulled him down and put his head in-between the pair. “Dis true? We gots jundam Elves messin’ an killin’ in de Blight?”
They both nodded to their commander, and Nog whispered, “Yes, Chief Captain, we’s got dem tracks, plus dey left all de Tusk-Swine. Nobody but dem Elvies leave good foods like dat.”
The Captain thought about it for a moment, it had been years since they had routed the pointy eared demons. But this didn’t sound like an Alliance army. Armies didn’t usually steal goats and slaughter pigs. They marched through and killed everything in their path. Plus if it was the Alliance they would have taken the pigs too. Men and Dwarfs couldn’t get enough of Tusk-Swine bacon, in the good years they would trade with men for the swine. It was only the skinny wimpy little elves that thought they were too good to eat pig flesh.
Blacktooth had made his decision, he brushed some dirt from his captured scale mail armor and grabbed the human made two handed sword at his waist and unsheathed it. The murmuring crowd fell silent; The Chief Captain only drew his sword when blood was going to be spilled.
“You wants blood?” He asked the Ogre, “Wants to kill dem Elves?”
Both heads nodded, though Nog did so reluctantly.
Blacktooth turned to face the militia. “Blighters, children of Rah-Ka! We’s gots us sum jundam Elvish bandits! Dey ain’t gunna steal from de Crimson Blight clan ‘n live!”
He waited for the growls, hoots an hollers to die down, he knew how to whip up his troops into a frenzy. Most of them weren’t professional soldiers, they were farmers, ranchers, craftsmen and builders but they all had the fire of Rah-Ka running through their veins. All true Blighters loved to fight.
“Who volunteers to help dis ‘ere Ogre kill dem pointy ears?” He asked as he stabbed the earth with the massive sword. “Come put yer blood on dis blade den!”
After a few moments of hesitation Grum the archer stepped forward knelt and ran his forearm along the captain’s blade, adding to his collection of scars, staining the blade and dirt with a few drops of his scarlet blood.
Katan-Jeet the Ogress came and did the same, Katan winked at Gral as she stood. Interesting, she really seemed to like him back. A skinny pinky colored Gnoll named Chub, carrying twice the required spears, and wearing studded leather armor loped up in his hunched over way. He was a good fighter and tinkerer who knew how to lash almost anything together to keep it working.
Grum’s brother, a lighter version named Grom followed dragging two Gobs Wonky and Wretch, who were less than pleased, but since Grom fed them and put them to work in his shop they couldn’t really complain.
With the blood band forged Blacktooth pulled the well warn sword out of the ground and let it drip for a few moments. “Brothers ‘n sisters,” he said nodding at Katan-Jeet and Wretch. “You be true Ork-Kin warriors, kill dem elves. Bring’um heads back in bags.”
He sheathed his sword and pulled off his horned helmet. “Is prayin’ time.”
A grey skinned Chaplain Shaman walked forward planted his staff in the ground and waited for all those assembled to remove their headgear. A few gobs wearing modified stew pots, were a bit slow in removing their helmets and the chaplain glared at them. They fell to the ground under his gaze, and promptly dropped their pots.
With the order of things properly followed the grey skin bowed his head and prayed. “Almighty Rah-Ka, unforgivin’ Father, cursed be dey name, we dem Blighters call dee, of great strength, Give ‘em good weather fer Battle. Hear dis warriors who call dee dat, armed with dey power; we go to beat ‘em ‘n crush dem bones ‘n skulls of dey enemy ’n salt dee earth with dem tears. Amen.”
The mob replied in unison, “Amen!”
It was time to spill some thieving Elvin bandit blood.