‘The Greenskin Chronicles: Fetch’ by author Joseph J. O’Donnell

Joseph O'Donnell

Author Joseph O’Donnell

(exert from his book ‘Shorts’ copyright 5/7/2002)        

As goblins go, Fetch was not much to look at. His pale green skin pulled tightly around the frame of his average size body. There were smaller goblins, which gave some thought of comfort to him, but there was bigger and stronger goblins as well. These were the ones that gave him trouble.

All the goblin world was ruled by one motto, “Might Was Right”, and the stronger ones always bullied the weaker inhabitants. Fetch was not one for bullying and those lesser of his kind, thankfully appreciated that. He became a kind of leader to them, something that didn’t sit right with those above him. As time wore on though, they begrudgingly accepted him. They also found him to their advantage in having him do odd jobs that they did not care to do. Hence, he was given the name Fetch, which at the outset was not to his liking. It was the rule here, however, that the rulers of this world tag names on their underlings. Fetch finally accepted that, and it kept the most bothersome goblins off his back.

Fetch’s band of followers were given many chores that were not pleasing to others. They cleaned up from the previous night’s orgy of eating, gathering up the bones and other remains of victims that a goblin raid netted. They fed these nearly eaten remains to the packs of wolves that the warrior bands of goblins bring during their exploits. Begrudgingly the smaller goblins had to clean up after the wolves as well, and woe to the goblin that had to deal with a still hungry wolf. It’s noshing teeth made quick work of him, and provided additional chores for his brethren.

The village where the goblins of this tribe lived, consisted of huts made of skins of the large animals that they killed. These were draped over large tree stump size stakes driven crudely into the ground. The hides were supported by these posts and bolstered by odds and ends, such as doors and wood from human houses. All of this was fastened together by lengths of rope and chain.

Yes, there were humans to contend with. The valleys beyond the one where the goblin band lived, hosted many fortified human hamlets. There was also castles and fortress manned by humans dressed in armor and using all kinds of nasty weapons. If that was no enough, there was also a larger breed of his kind, called orcs. These vile cousins lived in caves on the hillsides, and the goblins had to be wary where they tread. If caught alone, out in the open, they found out that they could become a tasty meal for a hungry orc.

The orcs were not as quick as the smaller goblins, but their strength made up for their slowness. It would take ten good goblins to overpower one slow orc. Anything less than that was just asking for trouble.

The goblin hordes and packs of orcs did band together from time to time however. Whenever humans ventured out of their castles to hunt them down, or a strongly fortified human hamlet needed to be attacked, these unlikely allies banded together for the job. Sometimes, squabbling amongst themselves during one of these forays gets out of hand, and the mass of orcs and goblins go at it tooth and claw. The goblins, when they found themselves over matched, would scatter quickly and sometimes left the orcs in a lurch to battle it out on their own.

Even amongst this larger breed, solidarity was not the rule. As in the goblin world orcs too, ruled by brute strength. There was a hierarchy in their ranks, designated by strength, size, and experience. An orc lord was the example of this rule, and he proved to be the fiercest of his kind. These big brutes had names like Jawbreaker, or Bone Crusher, and sometimes Iron Hide. The heavier hitting goblins, on the other hand, had names like Shrieker, or Nasher, as an example.

The most powerful Lord of orcs in this region was Grimgol the Slaughterer. His rule was absolute and he never took no for an answer. He guided the destiny of all the green skins here and about, and his name struck terror in the hearts of the humans that they confronted.

He didn’t move about much. He didn’t have to. To conserve his strength for battle, he let his underlings bring his food to him. If they didn’t move fast enough, they themselves became a snack for his pleasure. His appetite was as fierce as his growl, but his roar was more horrible. Grimgol stood twice as high as a human, but not near as big as an ogre. Those fearsome creatures, in which luckily there were few of them, Grimgol even avoided. His taste for human flesh though, was legendary, and his demands for more victims kept his underlings quite busy. Raiding parties became a nightly thing and nearby human populations would be thinned often.

The only orc that Grimgol had any respect for was the shaman, or high priest, named Ugzul. It was really out of mutual respect, as neither orc wished to challenge the other. As Grimgol’s physical strength was unbeatable, Ugzul willed magic like a blade. His wisdom and sorcery were needed, and welcomed by Grimgol. Likewise, Grimgol protected his shaman and endured.

It was one of these raids in which Grimgol’s underlings were on, that truly enraged the orc lord. Apparently the humans had caught the unfortunate orcs in the open and slaughtered each and every one of them. This infuriated Grimgol, and besides it has cost him a meal and left him quite hungry that night. Whatever the case, the rage that poured forth from the mighty orc’s cave created a stir in the orc population, and into the  goblin valley below.

A war seemed to be at hand, and the echoes and trembling of it could be felt in the air. As the sun peaked it’s face over the hill’s surrounding the valley, a great movement could be seen below. The goblins knew that they must join their orc cousins, or fall victims themselves to the mighty orc lord’s rage. As night’s grayness disappeared, the goblins began to mount the wolves. These beasts also became restless knowing that a great battle was at hand. They snapped at each other and bolted about as their riders mounted their backs. The goblins brought them quickly under control and promises of an easy meal tamed the packs quickly.

All about the camp things were happening. Fetch and his goblins doused the fires and hastily gathered provisions for his mounted comrades. When all was completed the whole tribe moved forward, heading for the mountains pass, where they were to meet with the bands of orcs. Their objective was a castle protecting several fortified hamlets in a valley some leagues away. It was in this vicinity that Grimgol’s orc band met their doom. Revenge was to be sweet and costly.

As the tribe moved out, Fetch and his band fell in at the rear. They would have to eat the dust of the others, but they would not have to fall victim first to the slings and arrows of the humans they would encounter later. Their big worry would come from behind them. They also worried about any other unsafe allies their bigger cousins may have brought with them. Being on foot made them a little easier to catch than those who rode wolf-back, therefore giving cause for alarm of becoming a snack. This thought did not appeal to Fetch and he urged his comrades on for their own good.

Fetch and his band lugged what food was necessary for the journey. They also brandished their own spears and shields as well. As the ranking goblin of this group, Fetch also had a large dagger like sword dangling from his belt and a patch on the hood of his cloak, designating his rank. They marched onward and upward from the valley floor to the pass up above. The din from the orcs could be heard in the distance as the mighty army gathered on its trek. As the goblin tribe rose up the hill, glimpses of orcs could be seen. They were fearsome to look upon, some covered with armor and all carrying terrible tools of death. These instruments of their trade consisted of heavy two handed axes, and broad-bladed swords. Heavy spears and mighty clubs were welded by these large nasty green skinned creatures as well, and none of them had a pleasant look about them as they grimily trudged on.

Fetch struggled to keep his band together, as the crack of whips could be heard from some of the orc captains. These were meant to keep everyone at pace and make slackers aware of what they were in for if they dragged their heels.

His crew climbed tirelessly even with their burdens. This was what goblins were renowned for, and why the orcs loved them to come along with them on these jaunts. To explain a goblin would take quite an imagination. You must picture a creature having similar body shape and function as a human being, except there is where it ends. A goblin is only about one-third the height of his counterpart with skin that is quite green. Also goblin’s eyes are red with pupils as black as coals. Moonlit skies are more to their liking, but they will venture out during the day if necessary. Their teeth are pointed and lack the small tusks their large cousins, the orcs, have. Their ears and noses too are pointed as is the nails on the ends of their long grasping fingers. They have exceptional speed and are not as clumsy as the orcs. Their hearing and night vision are keen, but they lack the great stealth other forest dwellers such as Halflings, or the long lost elves, possessed. Above all though, was their stamina. They could walk for days under heavy packs and never seem to tire. This is why humans detested them so much, because they were relentless, even when they attacked. The human strongholds grew weary trying to beat off charge after charge. The howls of theirs wolves and the blood curdling shrieks they themselves made, unnerved even the most stout hearted man.

Goblins-02   The orcs loved to use the goblins for more than just pack ponies. Their usefulness as scouts and quick raiding parties proved valuable. Their tactics of flanking and encirclements were just a potent as their vanguard deployments. When they attacked in this fashion, one knew that the orcs were not far behind.

Finally, the goblins met up with the orcs as they approached the top of the ridge. These mighty creatures resembled their cousins, but were far taller and broader of build. The weapons they carried were massive and could easily cut a goblin in half. Their temperament was just as ornery as Fetch’s people, and they had an extra zest for cruelty to boot.

At the head of this army road the great Grimgol astride a chariot pulled by massive wild boars. In his right hand he welded his awesome two-headed, and two-handed, axe. It was with this weapon that he gained the title, “Slaughterer”, as he cleaved his enemies in two. From where Fetch positioned himself in the column, he could make out Grimgol in the distance, bellowing and roaring as the horde moved forward. Only this, and the clanking of metal weapons, along with grumbling and growling of the green skinned warriors, could be heard. There was no other noises to be heard in the forest, as all else fled the approach of this powerful force.

“Keep up, keep up,” Fetch called to his band, “or we’ll all become quick meals for the big fellows.” This nudge had a good effect on his followers as they quickened their pace.

Fetch didn’t know how far the march would last. He never ventured as far as some of the raiding parties did. He grumbled a little to himself, as a troop of mounted goblins tore past, whooping and hollering. These outriders were heading for the front of the column to begin scouting ahead of the army. Other troopers rode up alongside, and Fetch knew that they would most likely fan off to the sides once they got through the pass to avoid any possible ambush by the humans. Fetch figured that Grimgol wished he could called upon goblins sooner for the previous raid, and all this could have been avoided. Not that Fetch cared one way or the other. It was not often he got the chance to go on such an adventure. As he searched his memory, he realized that this was probably the biggest raid he’s ever been on. He wouldn’t realize it till later, that the battle ahead would change his life forever.

It took all of three hours for all the horde to pass through the gaps’ walls and descend into the valley beyond. Once they reached the valley floor, the front of the column turned west. Fetch could make out Grimgol more clearly now, as he towered above the rest in the chariot he rode in. Out ahead of him Fetch could see the wolf goblins spreading out in front of Grimgol and racing ahead of the horde with cries of glee. He wished he could be up there with them, but settled for the fate for the fate his lot drew.

The crack of a whip brought him back to reality, and he urged his bearers on with cries of “faster, faster.” His little band bore their burdens grudgingly, and gave a yipping sound, to the orcs delight, as the tail of a whip found its mark.

Finally, his section of the column made the turn westward, and he picked up his head to see where they were going. The valley grew wider as the mountains on either side drew away. There were forests along the lower shoulders of the hills and the craggy peaks glistened white with snow. Winter would be upon them within a few months, and Fetch knew the cold days ahead would make game scarcer as the herds moved further south. The thought disturbed his chances of ending up as a meal on some orc’s plate. Perhaps he can avoid this by gathering more firewood or making himself more useful in other ways.

They tracked onward with the whole army stretched out in a line down the valley. A band of very large orcs guarded the rear as it marched forward. There was wolf riders at the rear as well which kept any nasty surprises at a minimum. They stopped once before dark, to feed the wolves. The troops also rested for a brief spell and ate lightly, so as not to fall heavily under the spell of a good meal. Grimgol felt that hungry troops moved faster and wanted to waste no time lingering about. Fetch and his men passed out morsels of food, and safely dodged the grasps of their larger cousins’ claws. They might not be so lucky later on, Fetch thought, when hunger made the orcs a little more desperate.

There was no news from the wolf riders in the van. The valley ahead had been too near the orc stronghold, so the absence of humans this close was no surprise to Grimgol. The big orc roared a command and the whole army rose and moved on once more. Night was no stranger to theses creatures and they felt more at home traveling in the darkness that cloaked their movement.

All through the evening, till the wee hours of the nest morning, they trudged forward. The cracks of the whips fell quiet as they moved on in silence. The sounds of the lashes could well travel through the night air, so a silent vigil was necessary for the army’s movement. Fetch’s group’s momentum did not slow, however, as they felt the heavy breath of the orcs on the backs of their necks.

At dawn, they all could see that the valley narrowed again and began to meander southward. Another gap in the hills toward the west would have to be breached so that the army of orcs and goblins could descend on to the plains where the humans dwelled. Fetch knew that this gap was probably watched carefully by them, and that’s where the first lines of resistance would be crossed.

During the night, the army had grown somewhat. As the false light of say began to reign, Fetch could pick out the silhouettes of several large creatures near the front of the column. To his surprise, as the light grew brighter, he could make out huge figures of trolls. Indeed this was a sight to behold. These giants were awesome, and a greater respect for their army’s leader was shown through the will that he must possess over these giants. Although known to be stupid and awkward, these monsters were mighty indeed. They were pretty unstoppable too, as it took much to fell one of theses creatures.

There had been additional orc and goblin tribes that must have joined their army as will. There were goblins marching in adjoining columns that Fetch had never seen before. As with all his kind, tribes would gather and follow a mighty leader like Grimgol when their superior members would assure them that they would have great sport in an ensuing battle.

As their ranks grew, several outriders returned to inform Grimgol that outposts of humans had been over run by the wolf riders from Fetch’s tribe. He assured him that none escaped and that their own casualties were light. Grimgol was pleased, but a little perplexed that a human outpost had been established so far into his territory. Normally this part of the valley was clear of the pale skins, and he thought that they had become brazen after the slaughter of his hunting party.

The thought of that event enraged Grimgol again, and with bellowing roar he pressed his troops onward. They marched all day and into the evening. As night closed about them, he ordered a rest, with the army grateful for the reprieve. Grimgol knew the assault on the pass, which they should reach by sunrise, would tax the fortitude of his troops. He knew that the pass would be strongly held, as it was the humans first line of defense. If he could break through there easily, if it was breached, they could charge headlong into the valley beyond and sweep any of the pale skins aside in his path.

Fetch and his band did not sleep as fitfully as the others in his tribe. The heavy packs that they carried weighed them down, and they were grateful for the rest. Still, they had to be wary of being unpleasantly wakened by a hungry orc, and with trolls now along with the horde, everyone had to keep at least one eye open while they slept.

Just before dawn, Grimgol passed the word to rouse his troops and there was no bellowing roars, or cracks of whips to be heard. Everyone was nudged or kicked awake. It was time to move and Grimgol wanted to rush the pass before first light. He wanted his people to charge any fortifications that were there before the humans could call for reinforcements.

His move was well time in striking before the dawn arrived. His wolf riding goblins had scouted the terrain ahead well, and had located all of the outposts and most of the strongholds that were in place there. Upon his word the attack went off without a hitch. The wolf riders flanked the outposts while the main body of orcs, led by the trolls, smashed through the outer defenses before the humans could react. With their vanguard overwhelmed, the pale skins crumbled under Grimgol’s onslaught. It was all over in a mater of a half hour. Grimgol’s scouts alerted him that some of the humans got away on horseback. Those that tried to flee on foot were soon hunted down and easily dispatched with. The news of some of the pale skins getting away upset Grimgol, and he had to alter his plans somewhat. He pushed his army forward, leaving two bands of very large ors and some of the goblin scouts behind to hold the pass. These would be the lucky ones who would be able to dine on the pale skins and miss the forthcoming battle. Grimgol had no choice though. He knew that the longer his troops dallied, the better fortified the pale skins would become ahead of him. He figured to lesson their resistance, the faster his horde moved onward the easier he could catch them off guard.

Goblin head   For the second time, his choice proved correct. Humans knew that orcs and goblins spent time pillaging their prey when they had defeated them. The pale skins were therefore slower to respond, trying to gather their belongs and some provisions to bring with them to the main castle to which they fled. Those orcs and goblins that had to leave the scene of battle to push on to the fortress grumbled, but their grumbling was soon quieted as they learned that the wolf riders out front tore into the rear of the column of refugees before them. It became a terrible scene as provisions and belongings were discarded to keep ahead of the advancing horde behind them. It was even more terrible for those who dragged behind.

Grimgol sent word to the vanguard of wolf riding goblins to harass the column of refuges from all sides. He knew that the panic this would cause would make his enemies at the castle tremble in their armored boots. This boosted the moral of his own troops even more, and he could do all that he could do to hold them in check. He didn’t want them to become disorganized and disoriented as those who fled before him.

Grimgol’s people encountered two or three hamlets on the way that were lightly garrisoned. They were soon overcome by the mass of green skins that climbed over their walls. The green wave swept on without hesitating long, and burned what remained behind them. The rising columns of smoke pinpointed the horde’s whereabouts, but the swiftness of their march alarmed

the humans even more. What was left being carried by the retreating pale skins, was discarded as they ran pell-mell for their lives to the safety of the castle. The remnants of their belongings on the roads was evidence enough of their flight to Grimgol, and he ordered his whip bearers to have the tools of their trade sing loudly to convince his troops to not tarry over these spoils of war.

The humans at the castle were all not surprised at Grimgol’s reaction to the loss of his hunting party, even though they became perplexed at the speed of his advance. They knew the orc lord would seek revenge for their act, and they readily called upon their king, many miles away, to bring reinforcements. This would take time, however, and they had to make do with the best that they could. They gathered in the arriving refugees, and pressed them into service as fast as they could. All were issued weapons from the armory, and the castle’s Baron spread his trained soldiers among them to reinforce their fortitude. Most people in these parts fought alongside the seasoned troops in past years, and were not all unfamiliar of what laid ahead. Battlements were manned and defensive weapons were readied. Grimgol and his horde would not find it as easy as they did in the hamlets that they left behind.

But Grimgol the Slaughterer knew his task was not an easy one. He had acquired the assistance of the mighty trolls and many orcs and goblins for this campaign. He was aware of the deep fortifications of the castle and of its storehouses of grain to sustain a determined siege. He knew too that orcs and goblins were impatient with long sieges and prepared his plans accordingly. This was his strategy to send the wolf-riders ahead to harry the columns of refugees. Without provision of their own, they would tax those stored in the castles bunkers and speed up the need for the siege by wearing down the re-silence of the castle’s defenders. He didn’t earn the respect of his troops through idle thought, but by the foresight he demonstrated in warfare such as this.

He also had a secret weapon in the disguise of his shaman Ugzul. Ugzul proved a power unto himself. Grimgol knew this, and his protection and nurturing of his wizard, would now payoff handsomely. The shaman’s power stemmed from an amulet in his possession. It was the “Stone of Zorn” which he wore on the end of a gold chain around his neck. The gold chain revealed itself as something that once belonged to others. Gold, you see, is something that is not highly prized amongst the orc kind. It is too flashy for them, and heavy iron tools and weapons are more to their liking.

The amulet, however, was once forged by Dwarf lords of lore. The stone itself was said to belong to an Elvin king. It derived it’s magic from this source, and was particular in how it favored it’s wearer.

It somehow took to Ugzul, although for what reason no one could say. It was fickle, as a magic amulets go, and seemed to choose it’s wearer on it’s own. Those who possessed it had immense power over nature itself, and woe to those who thought that they could steal it and bend it’s power to their own ends. The ‘Stone of Zorn’ quickly put an end to those with such thoughts, and protected the wearer well.

By the time the orc and goblin horde reached the castle, what was left of the refugees still standing, had entered it’s abode and locked the gates behind them. Grimgol sent squadrons of orcs around the castle to encircle it’s walls. Wolf riders were then sent to scour the countryside to make quick work of those unfortunate enough not to gain safety with in the security of the battlements. He called for Fetch’s band and ordered that they return to the hamlets and retrieve as much food as was left there as well as any provisions dropped in the road by the refugees in their flight. They were to bring their loot to Grimgol’s camp on a knoll overlooking the entrance to the castle.

This was a relief to Fetch’s people, knowing that they would be out of harms way for a short while, and they dropped the packs they brought with them at the campsite chosen by the orc lord. Scurrying as fast as they could, they made their way through their larger brethren and back up the road that lay  ahead for his band. They believed that they could easily prove their usefulness to the orc lord and possibly gain his pleasure. Being out of harms reach from their more powerful orc cousins as the thought of becoming a quick meal was also on their minds and sped them on their way as well.

It took several hours to complete the job and by the time they returned, they saw the trolls had fell several large trees to use as battering rams. The giants had just finished trimming off the branches and had fastened crude handles on them. They had also fashioned the front of the rams by sharpening the ends with the means of the large axes that they carried to battle with them.

Grimgol was now ready and wasted no time in attacking the fortress. Goblins poured arrows over the walls shot from the small, but powerful, bows they bore. Orcs charged the walls using ladders they made while the trolls were busy at their own task with the rams. Again and again the humans threw back the green tide as it swelled against the base of the walls. They had to

dodge the goblin arrows as they did so, as the tips of these projectiles were laden with poison which worked it’s evil quickly if it found a mark.

Grimgol bellowed and roared, driving his troops forward. He now ordered the trolls to assault the gates, which were strengthened with iron. They hoisted the large rams on their shoulders, and gained momentum as they sped their burdens forward, smashing into the gates. After a few tries Grimgol saw the fruitlessness of the giants endeavors. He knew that his was not to be a quick siege after all. He then drew his army back from the walls to the cheering of those on the battlements above. ‘Let them smile now,’ he thought, ‘but tomorrow will be a different story.’ He ordered his men to withdraw and pull into a tight circle around the fortress. He told them to get the long awaited rest that they deserved. He then asked for Ugzul to join him in council at his camp.

In the meantime, Fetch’s band distributed the much longed for food by the orcs. The gathered food consisted of everything from stockpiles of human food to humans themselves. Beasts of the fields, left untended by the pale skins were of special delight. The orc and goblin warriors ate these tasty morsels to much consternation of those fold watching from the walls above. They were especially horrified when one of their own met a gruesome fate at the hands of the horde below.

Fetch personally catered to Grimgol and Ugzul. He saw the famed amulet hanging from the shaman’s neck and was taken back by a slight flow emitted from the stone when he made his presence. He was puzzled and confused when this happened and immediately tore his eyes away from it fearing something might happen to him if he didn’t. None of this lost on Grimgol even if it was missed by Ugzul. The orc lord made secret arrangements with his guards to keep an eye on him and ordered that they should made sure he met no harm.

Grimgol told Ugzul that before dawn he was to summon up all the forces of the stone. He wished to use it’s power to break the strength of the gate’s iron. He knew that it’s strength would task his trolls and make it impossible to break it down. The shaman set immediately to work calling up his magic and preparing for the morrow. The orc lord drew back as the stone suddenly glowed and turned red. Asking what was meant by it, the shaman explained that he would summon the fires from the center of the earth in order to put an end to the obstruction created by men at the castle’s entrance. Pleased, Grimgol ordered his wizard to take his leave and prepare himself for the next days battle.

Grimgol turned his eye on Fetch and asked, “By what name do you go by?”

“I am called Fetch, oh mighty lord,” he responded.

“Is this what others named you?,” the orc questioned.

“Oh yes lord, it is,” the small goblin answered.

“And why is that?,” Grimgol said.

“Because it is what I do best,” he explained.

“Then Fetch it is,” Grimgol said. “For now on you  will do my personal bidding.”

“And what of my band of goblins?,” Fetch asked with a quivering voice.

“They will be protected, for now,” Grimgol replied with a toothy grin, “I will see to it myself.”

To Fetch’s relief, the great orc lord shouted his command to his personal body guards that no harm should be done to any of Fetch’s band. Any insult or injury that befell them would be considered as an insult to him and woe to those who violated his order. Word was passed quickly throughout his command and the small goblin’s band was duly protected.

“Does this meet with your approval ?,” the mighty orc said patting Fetch gently on the shoulder.

“Oh yes, great lord, and I thank you for sparing my people,” he replied with genuine relief.

“Good, then lets have no more talk of this, I have work to do and I’m hungry,” Grimgol said eyeing the food that Fetch had set before him.

Grimgol greedily slathered down his meal in great portions. He made sure that he kept enough on the side for his new servant. Unlike men, orcs’ servants ate by the side of their lords. It was more like dogs at the tables of the master, and in that way orc’s servants were treated kinder than those of men, who did not share directly at their lord’s table.

When Grimgol ate his fill he rose from his meal and stretched his mighty arms out and bellowed a roar followed by a loud belch. He was pleased with the meal spread before him and laid down to rest closer to the fire. The task ahead of him the next day would take every ounce of strength he could afford and therefore rest for him was essential.

The fires around the castle burned brightly and the green skins put up shields on their sides of the fires to hide their presence. The shields also acted as reflectors of the fire’s light and illuminated the castle walls and the defenders above. This created an opportunity that was not lost on the goblin archers who made sport of any exposed pale skin that was seen. Often as not, a poisoned tip arrow found it’s mark and added to the panic festering behind the walls.

Before dawn, an outrider came in with news from the north. A mighty army of humans were descending southwards to assist their brethren caught in Grimgol’s trap. The report of heavy cavalry and archers, was that they were assisted by armored troops and forest rangers as well.  These rangers, he knew, harbored many beasts and Celtic tribesmen, along with dogs whose snapping jaws tore through many orc tribes in the north. The lack of their presence hereabouts before let Grimgol’s people flourish without the cause from alarm of being hunted daily.

His concern was tempered somewhat when he learned that they were at least a day and a half away, but he knew that he would have to move quickly. Any dreams of conquest and a sustained presence in this valley were dashed, and he knew that his plans would have to be changed to those of smash and destroy. He knew that if he could accomplish this quickly he would be able to get his army safely back through the gorge in the mountains where a better defense could be mounted. The troops that he now held around him could easily hold off any humans trying to breach the gap for a lifetime. It would also secure the valley beyond his own, offering a safer haven for the orc and goblin tribes.

He bellowed for Ugzul to join him and at no time at all, the shaman appeared by the fire. “What is your plan in helping me?,” he asked of the shaman.

The orc wizard replied, “Have the trolls smash the rams into the gate and leave their timber there. Also, gather up enough gather enough brush and set it upon logs. Leave the rest to me.”

Grimgol ordered it done and mustered the troops for battle. Mighty roars were heard from outside the castle’s walls as the orcs and goblins were readied for the assault.

The humans answered by sounding the alarm with bugles wailing and church bells clanging perhaps spelling that the end was near. They were quickly drowned out my the mighty orc horns and the loud tattoo of drums beating the sound of assembly for the green skins.

Suddenly, with a mighty rush, the trolls crashed their rams into the iron gate at the castles entrance, running over several unlucky orcs in their push forward. The shrieks of the helpless victims were soon hushed as the trolls big feet trampled them into silence. The loss was small but the effect on those above was of shear horror. The big gate shuddered under the impact and the walls to either side and above nearly crumbled, but held fast instead. Goblins now not only fired poisoned arrows, but shot flaming arrows as well. These brilliant darts found their mark on many a roof top inside the walls, and precious manpower was diverted to help fight the fires. Now, with all the attention turned inward, Ugzul appeared before the gate and presented aloft the ‘Stone of Zorn’. The amulet glowed red, then white, as the magic took it’s course. Suddenly, the wooden rams left at the gates entrance burst into flames, fed by the brush and branches nestled around them. With a great crackling sound, the fires seemed to grow out of proportion and the gates that they rested on grew red hot as if placed in a blacksmith’s forge.

With shouts of glee the orc horde encouraged Ugzul on and the heat from the flames became unbearable, even for him. He began to back away, but not before a well place stone tossed from the ramparts above caught him in the side of his head, ending his life. The orcs grew silent and the only sound that could be heard was that of the flames licking at the gates. The humans cheered at this turn of events but realized their plight was still not secured at the metal at the front gate began to slowly disintegrate. Grimgol ordered Fetch to retrieve the amulet from Ugzul’s dead but outstretched hand. It seemed that even in death, the amulet called for Fetch to save it from doom.

“I fear the stone,” Fetch implored of his master.

“I do not think it fears you,” Grimgol yelled. “I saw that it took a liking to you this past evening, as if it knew that you would be it’s next bearer.”

Fetch stared over to where Ugzul’s body lay. It had stopped twitching moments before heralding his passing. “Must I?,” Fetched asked the great lord.

“Yes, you must!,” the great orc shouted. “Now go!”

Fetch scurried forward dodging shot and stones delivered from the walls above. Grimgol ordered his troops to return the fire in earnest, and the darts thrown from above ceased immediately.. The small goblin returned to his chief’s side and the great orc lord ordered that Fetched should place the chain around his own neck. Obediently, the goblin did so, and the stone at the center of the charm began to glow.

“As I thought,” the huge orc said. “You are to be the next bearer of the amulet, and by no small means, my next shaman!”

As fetch handled the stone, Grimgol asked aloud, “What shall I name you?”

“Name me lord?,” Fetch replied.

“Why yes,” the orc replied. “You do hold a new and noble title,” he replied reminding Fetch was now his shaman.

“This is true lord,” the goblin replied, “but I’ve grown accustomed to my name.”

“True,” Grimgol lent himself to thought for a moment. “Then it shall remain Fetch, but as a reminder to those of how you saved the stone from doom, and not on meaningless chores.”

“Thank you lord,” Fetch graciously, if such showering of thanks could be shown amongst orc kind.

They didn’t have long to linger with their ceremony, for with a great crash, the castle’s gates fell outwards, trapping the burning fire beneath them. The green horde let out a roar of triumph and those inside the fortress gave up activity of putting out fires and sent all the defenders to man the front walls and the nearly exposed entrance to their sanctuary.

“There now,” Grimgol said turning to his new ward, “what Ugzul began, the shaman Fetch shall continue” ad Fetch raised the amulet skyward, mimicking Ugzul’s feat earlier. He bent his little mind with thoughts of putting flames out. To his surprise, a black cloud appeared above and lightning and thunder spewed out of it, frightening all below. As if by Fetch’s shear will, the rains poured forth and began to put out the fires. The gates, once red hot, hissed with steam and created an immense fog. The noise

frightened the trolls, who backed off from the entrance, but Grimgol seized the moment and led the charge past the heated metal and smoldering logs. With a roar, the orcs and goblins charged over the tangled wreckage of the gate and began to breach the defense at the entrance. The humans were not licked yet and the defenders poured shot and sling from within and hurled stones and spears from above. Grimgol was immediately hit by a large stone which crushed part of his right arm. An arrow also pierced his armor and wedged into his left leg, just above the knee. Crippled, his personal body guard dragged him from the gate as other orcs filled the gap by him and charged inside.

His guards bore him to his fireside as the fighting now raged fiercely within the castle walls. The green tide poured into the breach and a bloody slugfest ensued. As Grimgol lay there after having his shoulder trussed up and the arrow pulled out, more bad news arrived. A lone, bloodied, wolf-rider arrived with tidings of the arrival of the king’s army. Seeing the columns of smoke from the burning hamlets in the distance, and guessing that the castle must have been under siege, he dispatched his cavalry of knights ahead of the main body of his force to lend assistance. The paltry force of wolf-riders was no match for the heavy cavalry who made swift work of them as they rode them down.

All of this was made known to Grimgol by the scout whose remaining band vainly held the knights at bay to give him time to deliver his message. Grimgol knew that there was probably nothing left of that wolf riders command and knew that he should waste no more time in salvaging the rest of his army. There was no sense in getting caught between a rock and a hard place and he

was aware that he may have to fight a rear guard action all the way back to the safety of the pass. Rising, with the aid of his bodyguards, the orc lord bellowed out orders to start a tactical retreat. This did not sit will with all his commanders and some started to grumble about a change of command.

“The great orc lord, Grimgol the Slaughterer, has spoken,” Fetch suddenly squeaked out to his, and everyone else’s surprise. As if to emphasize his cry, he held the amulet aloft for all to see. With a stroke of magic, the stone at the center grew white hot. The grumbling were silenced as a look of awe replaced the scowls on the chieftains faces.

“You heard me,” Grimgol roared, “now let’s get our lot out of here as best as we can.” The orc horde, pouring through the gates only moments before, smashing through the throngs of besieged troops, created as much damage as possible on the way out. Stunned, and slow to recover, the pale skins did not pursue the horde as it left the city within. The green menace gathered outside the walls departing with as much loot a they could carry. As they assembled, Grimgol was placed on his chariot once more, but this time with Fetch at his side. With a bellow and a roar, he led the procession of his army back over the once conquered territory.

Here they passed the remnants of the three villages with their burned and battered houses. The short walls, that had offered temporary security for the occupants, was found breached in many places, no longer offering any security. The occupants themselves had long vanished and the land and crops about, were destroyed.

All in all, to Grimgol’s thinking, it was a good raid, and the humans had lost much. On the other hand, the orcs and goblins gained the gained and extra valley, and a big one at that. Grimgol would fortify the gap ahead, and the valley belonging to the Baron, would now be in orc hands for some time to come.

As for Fetch, he and his little band came through un-scattered. There was also a deeper respect shown by the big fellows, who begrudgingly had to supply themselves with food, never having to task Fetch’s folk again. Grimgol would also keep Fetch close by his side for awhile, at least until he healed. The future itself was uncertain, but Fetch knew that his was a little more secure, and convinced himself of this by gently fingering the amulet whenever he felt in doubt. He would repeat this act often as new adventures unfolded before him in the years ahead.

JOD