Scrubber and Toff were just about out of bolts.
This was bad news. They had been shooting a small ballista out of a foxhole all morning. Mudhole, more like. Nothing but mud down here on the lowlands, but this was the chokepoint – the orcs could not bring their mammoths over the mountains. The mud was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it meant they did not have to face the mammoths or heavy orc units. On the other hand, it was wet, cold, and miserable.
Aim. Shoot. Wind. Relaod. Aim. Shoot. Wind. Reload. They took turns shooting. Scrubber was the better shot, but it didn’t matter. Targets were getting thin. Their ammo box was getting empty.
Scrubber paused, breaking the rhythm. “Wot?” asked Toff. “I thought I seen a wizard,” he answered.
Toff took a moment to adjust his uniform, flicking the worst of the mud off it. It didn’t help. “Scrubber mate, if we get fireballed, we get fireballed and there’s nothing you or me can do about it. Now shoot one of them bastards. They already done for Charlie.”
Charlie did not answer this, as he was very dead and had been for hours – a crude but effective orc arrow nailing his head to the ammo box. A damn shame – Charlie was half orc and handy to have when it came to winding the ballista. There was a story there, but it was to remain untold.
Aim. Shoot. Wind. Reload. Late afternoon now. Not long to go.
Aim. Shoo “Shit!” Scrubber looked up to see Toff pointing. “Fucking croc-riders – maybe 40.” Scrubber and Toff hastily slewed the ballista around, and they and the artillery to either side started firing at the goblins and their mounts, but too slow, their targets too low to the ground. One, two taken down and then the enemy was on them.
Swords drawn, Toff stabbing a goblin clean through the heart by sheer luck. Then a croc got Scrubber’s leg in his jaws and began tear side to side. Two more croc riders charging them.
And then, “Ha ha! Glory! Glory and Empire!” A flash of white and gold and a lance taking two goblins and a croc in one magnificent charge, the lance spitting the croc down the length of its backbone. More knights appeared, a brief and ugly fight, and then a knight – tall, dashing, majestic cascades of golden hair cascading majectically from his noble and dashing crown. “Well fought, lads! Consider yourselves relieved!
The knight paused, retrieved a small case from his belt, and took out a purple ribbon. He knelt down to scrubber, who was oozing blood but would probably live, and solemnly declared “I award thee this ribbon, for military merit.”
Then rising, his knees curiously unstained by the mud of their mudhole, he sprang onto his snowy white (of course) mount and cried again “For Glory! Glory and The Empire!”. His knights roared in reply, “Glory and The Empire” and they pounded off towards more battle.
Scrubber, his pain momentarily forgotten out of sheer awe and star-struckedness asked Toff, “Who was that?”
“That, old chum, was Sir Leonard Griffinsheart. People call him Hank – no-one knows why.”