So put the kettle on, read on and let that tea get cold!
The Battle of Kachas Pass
Erdolas gazed out of the window, brooding over the mountain wastes that loomed to the North. A fitting picture to suit his mood he thought mirthlessly. The Elf captain continued to stare into the distance impassively as a series of emotions rushed through his mind like the storm clouds that scudded across the sky. He didn't like the way things were shaping up - first the disgusting Half-Orc spy had been captured, trying to sneak back up into the mountains with goodness knows what information on the Grand League's already beleagured armies. The foul creature had gone on to taunt the Elves with veiled threats that an Orcish war party was headed their way.
But then again Erdolas felt a thrill that the time for action was perhaps at hand. For too long had his self imposed exile in this dreary hill fort dragged on. It was more than time for him to find that glorious death he had been searching for. That glorious death that would silence the whispers of scorn and outrage his fellow Elves had rained down on him at the discovery of his illicit and adulterous affair with the Queen of Fendal Forest.
Soon the rattle and scrape of ill-tended wargear was joined by guttural snarls and voices as the rocks seemingly came alive with a green tide. The Vile Rune Tribe slithered its way down the slopes of the Pass towards the garrison.
Fangor Gripe, Chieftain of the Vile Rune, ran a course tongue over yellowed teeth as his band picked their way slowly through the screes on the left hand side of the pass. Impatience and anticipation coursed through his veins as he yearned to hear the cries of the wounded and dying. Yet he would have to be sly - should the thrice-accursed dog, Silas Meel, escape during the battle there was no doubt that he would run to his masters in the Kwae Karr tribe. And if that were to happen then word of Gripe's refusal to fight at Fendal Plain during the Goblin Wars last year would get out. Fangor growled savagely, causing a young savage to loose his footing in the rocks - there was no way some Half-breed scum was going to give him the chop...
Meanwhile, the alarm had been sounded and Erdolas and what was left of his garrison hurried out into the compound. Erdolas led a section of his archers to the East wall to keep watch on the approaches to the Pass. Another section of archers headed for the storehouse to check on their prisoner - disgusting as he was the Half-Orc was too valuable to be allowed to fall into enemy hands. The remaining archers went out of the main gate to keep watch on the crossroads.
Now aware of the danger Erdolas barked out his orders - a flight of arrows soared into the sky but only one found its mark. Unfortunately for the Elves the brutish creature shrugged the missile away and strode on.
Peering through the cracks in the woodwork, Silas Meel saw that his chances of escape were quickly diminishing as his guard detail got closer and closer. A horrible grin smeared itself across his face as the door lock finally failed. It got wider as he savoured the looks of shock on his captors' faces - and jumped the fence! However, he was not home and dry yet as the third detachment of archers turned and petled down the road towards him!
Back in the compound, the spy's original guard detachment had wheeled round, and under Erdolas' orders were now headed for the North wall, to meet the developing threat there...
While the Half-Orc had led more than half of the Elven garrison a merry dance, Fangor had maneuvered his troops into position virtually unopposed! The North wall and stables now looked somewhat vulnerable as half of the tribe and Guthrum Mane, their unusually sober Rock Giant, continued their advance.
The other half of the tribe seemed to be making for the woods by the Merlinas road - no doubt to cover their advance from the so far, rather ineffectual Elvish archery. Seeing that he was in danger of being outflanked and surrounded, Erdolas sent another volley at the lead elements of this Orc column, sending another brute to an early grave. The detachment on the North Wall also let fly only to see their arrows fail to pierce the Orcs' thick skins and mailed shirts.
A low gasp was let out by the archers around him as the news spread along the line - Herndil and his night patrol would not be back to reinforce the garrison. Certainly not in one piece anyway.
Bits of them could be seen adorning many a crude Orcish trophy necklace...
Even as his would-be captors turned, ran and took up new firing positions by the Barracks, the sly Half-Orc stole his way back. Busy in their vengeance, the archers were oblivious to the spy's machinations as they scored three hits on the lead flanking column - two Orcs fell gurgling and clawing at the arrows through their throats.
Meanwhile, things were looking grim as a large portion of the Orc force made it to the perimeter wall relatively unscathed.
Fangor Gripe and his mob rushed over to the back of the stables...
... whilst a second group of Orcs pressed against the West wall of the compound. Guthrum's migty frame also loomed menacingly over the stables.
The Orc's flanking force continued their march into the wood that bordered the Merlinas road.
As if all this wasn't bad enough, many a nervous glance was exchanged between the Elven defenders as the stables began to revererate from Guthrum's mighty blows. Fangor's mob cheerfully joined in the giant's wanton vandalism, despite the fact that their weapons were only able to scratch and scour the masonry. Then smoke began to rise from the West wall as torches were stacked up against the log ramparts....
Faced with a sea of snarling green faces leering through the smoke and flames, Erdolas' detachment lost their nerve and backed away from the pallisade.
Yet did the Elves have some kind of devious plan up their sleeves? Perhaps so, as the archers manning the North wall also pulled back towards the centre of the compound - leaving the pallisades seemingly undefended...
The Elves outside the outpost moved into better firing positions to cover the road to Merlinas, still unaware of their unpleasant stalker. Drawing a bead on the Orcs busy with their fire brands, the elves all found their marks, but only two of the vile creatures fell dead.
Now was the Orcs chance to pounce - The beseigers leapt the still burning West wall and spilled howling into the compound.
Fangor's mob sidled away from the stables towards the North pallisade, ready to exploit the Elves' weakness there.
Eager to mete out revenge on their tormenters, the Orcs in the wood charged down the Merlinas highway, catching the small detchment there by surprise with their swiftness. Behind them the trailing force of Orcs moved up in the hope there would be something left for them.
The Elves, however, soon recovered from their shock and easily dispatched one of the clumsy beasts. In their rush, the orcs failed to spear any of the lithe forms that danced before them, instead pushing the elves back by weight of numbers.
The Elves held their nerve - only to see one of their number struck down in their midst! Whirling round in the direction of the blow, they were greeted with the mishapen visage of Silas Meel - spy, now turned treacherous assassin! Despite this sneak attack the Elves still remained cool and tightened their sword grips for the next round.
Guthrum Mane, thoroughly enjoying his new game, continued to demolish the now distincty rickety looking stables, grinning foolishly and humming a tuneless melody in time to his strokes.
Faced with hordes of Orcs pouring into the compound, Erdolas ordered his archers to form into one rank. Unleashing a volley at close range saw three of the interlopers fall. Undeterred by the hail of arrows the frenzied Orcs hurled themselves at the archers - only to be met with a wall of shimmering steel. Elvish blades saw three more of the creatures slain - two at the hands of Erdolas himself! Shaken by the unexpected resistance the orcs failed to bring any of the Elves down and found themselves pushed back against the pallisade wall they'd just scaled. Only Fangor's terrifying bellows from across the compound stopped the yellow-bellied curs from fleeing!
The Elves' victory cry was soon drowned out by the terrible rending sound of timbers stressed to breaking point and the roar of crumbling masonry - Guthrum stood back wheezing from the dust, but happy with the heap he had turned the stables into!
The Elves' woes were to be compounded further. No sooner had one wave of attackers been repulsed than another swarmed in.
Fangor and his mob had scaled the North wall and now menaced the second line of archers. With their backs to the opposite wall, the Elves prepared to sell their lives dearly. Two Orcs fell to their first volley.
The beleagured Elves out on the road fared no better - although the combat was fought to a bloodless draw, they were once again pushed back by the slavering multitude in front of them.
Silas Meel, now somewhat nervous about the presence of many savage looking Orcs who didn't seem too fussy about whom they bludgeoned to death, broke away from the combat and slunk off in the direction of the cross roads to Orc's Drift.
Once again the Elf detachment defending the road fought their Oricsh attackers off, only to be pushed back again - this time into the hollow of a small hill - now they were surrounded and hemmed in - things did not look good!
Slowly and inevitably, however, he was forced to give ground as his attackers stepped over their dead, warily jabbing at him with their rusty and gore-stained weapons.
Locked deep in combat, the Elf hero was in no position to notice the third unit of Orcs enter the compound - whether that would have gladdened his heart or sapped his resolve no-one would know.
Fangor Gripe, meanwhile, stalked over to the gate, glaring balefully at the receding back of Silas Meel. Seeing a chance to redeem themselves, the last detachment of Elf archers once more jumped the log wall back into the compound. Taking aim, they let fly their arrows at the Orc Chieftain's wide and inviting back. Four arrows struck home, the Elves gasped, time itself seemed to slow... and yet the tough old Orc picked himself up completely unscathed!
Not wishing to tempt fate further, Fangor Gripe dived over the pallisade, away from the keen eyes of the Elven archers, and gave chase to the Half Orc spy. Seeing the danger, Silas gave a pitiful squeak and redoubled his awkard gait into the semblance of a sprint.
Gradually Erdolas became aware of a slackening in the ferocity of the Orcs' attacks. As he wiped the blood and sweat from his brow he was amazed to see the hated creatures backing away, licking their wounds. Then a deep roar came from behind him - Guthrum had claimed the pleasure of gutting the lone Elf for himself. In this brief respite, Erdolas looked around to see a sea of green and savage faces filling the compound as the Orcs of the trailing force maneuvered into position, ready to charge the last remaing archers.
That brief moment of calm was torn asunder as Guthrum's terrible glaive smashed into the ground just where Erdolas had been standing. Recovering from the near miss, Erdolas was unable to find a chink in the brute's tough hide.
Licking his chops in anticipation Fangor savoured the moment as he raised his sword and brought it scything down onto the rapidly slowing and wheezing form of Silas Meel. Gravely wounded, the Half Orc turned on his hunter like a animal at bay. Contemptuously smashing aside Silas' underhand stab, Fangor again raised his sword high. When it fell the only threat to his Chieftainship and life had simply ceased to be...
Casting their eyes at the the two possibe targets in front of them, the newly arrived Orcs in the compound wisely chose to charge the last detachment of Elf archers - rather than the manic Elf champion locked in his death struggle with the giant!
Storming through the hail of arrows unscathed, they hacked down one of the unfortunate defenders for the loss of one of their own. The Elves were forced once more out of their own fort and gleefully the howling mob followed!
Feeling the deadly lethargy of fatgue creeping into his limbs, Erdolas backed away from his towering opponent towards the barracks in the hope of gaining some cover from the giant's wild and clumsy attacks. Again and again the massive glaive came thundering down; again and again the weary Elf dancd painfully out of the way, only to see his well aimed jabs and thrusts turned by Guthrum's tattered chainmail.
Alone on the crest of the hill the routing Elf stopped. A burning desire to avenge his kinsmen raged through his body. Gripping his sword with renewed vigour he turned... and was cut down by the baying pack of Orcs as they came piling up the slope after him!
Over on the West Wall the Orcs continued to push the Elves back in a surprisingly bloodless scuffle - perhaps limbs on both sides were beginning to hang like lead from the rigours of battle - even the surprise flank attack by Fangor Gripe failed to claim any of the defenders' lives!
In the shadow of the barracks the last stand was fought out. A green throng soon gathered to watch the spectacle as Elf and Giant fought out their terrible duel.
Cheers went up as the Elf was sent sprawling like a rag doll, caught by one of Guthrum's murderous blows. Cheers went up when the brute let out a bellow of pain when the Elf's blade found a soft spot.
And yet this strange dance could not go on forever. A feeling of tranquility smoothed Erdolas' troubled brow - now was his moment.
With lowered sword, he stepped forward to embrace the release from his shame he had long craved...