Wednesday, 23 November 2022

The Prowling Forest, Part 8

Fires in the Night

Braggoth Blackpelt stood ankle deep in the mud, Fetchit at his side loaded with weapons. In front of them, excited gnoblars peered from above a crude wooden palisade.
"Oy there!" boomed the Maneater "Is that the camp of the Ironforged? Den of Skargat Brainglut, he who outsmarted the Swordfyshes, and his second Hrothgur, the unstoppable rampager?"
"It might! Who are you?" a horned helm appeared next to the gnoblars.
"Braggoth Blackpelt! I bring you a gift of weapons. And my arms and belly to join you on the Mawpath. Give me fights and feasts and I'll serve under you, mighty Tyrant!"
"Well, if this is not a good offer! You have a place at my table, Maneater! Wait there, for we are sallying forth. It is time to set the Swordfyshes on fire!"

It had taken Skargat and his Maneaters nearly the whole day, but at dusk they were finally approaching Swordfyshes' territory.

What they were not expecting, was to see the largest and meaniest Swordfyshes marching to meet them.

Krashhart sprinted ahead of the Swordfyshes, but Braggoth planted his feet and took the almost impenetrable defensive stance he had learnt from the pikemen of the Freeguilds.

Skargat's booming laughter sounded loud in the wood as he smashed onto Mr Flea and once again took him down with only few well placed blows.

Cargo spotted two brutes at the rear of the main Swordfyshes' line and opened fire with his his pistols. But in the growing darkness he missed.

Old Mudgob and Hook advanced along the same path taken by Krashhart, as if willing to join him against Braggoth.

But instead of fighting, the Warchanter disengaged and slipped off into the dark.

Yardarm Gark slashed and hacked at Skargat, but the Tyrant took in the blows and felled the brute. With a grin, he prepared to charge Lugger Dag.

But the brute, just like Krashhart, legged it and plunged into the darkness, beyond the Ironforged reach.

Cargo made out Flotsum in the gloom.

Once again, the Swordfyshe exchanged some running blow and then legged it, going roughly in the same direction as his mates.

"They're routing!" boomed Skargat. "Barag, with me to finish off the shaman! The others, back to the plan!"

As Barag stepped up to block Old Mudgob's path, Braggoth, Watcha and Loota run for the Swordfyshes' territory, catching a last glimpse of Lugger Dag's back running away.

Skargat hacked furiosly at Old Mudgob, trying to take revenge for the stomping the shaman had given him. But Mudgob ground his teeth and once again summoned Gork's Foot and smashed Skargat to the ground. As the eerie green foot retreated in the night sky, Cargo slipped past the shaman and pulled out his flintstone. It was time to burn down the Swordfyshes' supplies.


Hrothgur saw the ruddish light of the fires in the distance and knew Skargat's raid had been succesful.
The Crusher grimaced. He and the gluttons had tracked the edges of Blubberfen all day, but could not find any explanation as to why the bog was drying out.
The only thing they were bringing back to Skargat was an enourmous Itxi Grub fished by Skreecha who had been annoying them all the time.
Hrothgur's belly rumbled. The Crusher told himself that wasn't fear, just the signal that too much time had passed since his last snack.

The two parties got back to the Ironforged camp almost at the same time, greeted by the acryd smell of smoke.
The Maneaters' laughters and bragging changed into growls of frustration.
Hrothgur grinned with relief.
"So, is this what you let happen while you send me to dredge the bog, mighty Tyrant?"
Skargat's pained expression changed into one of utter rage, his right hand flew out into a backhand that would have smashed a door from its hinges.
But Hrothgur simply flinched, then stared back at the Tyrant.
"Forgive me, Skargat. I forgot my place. I bring you no explanation for the drying of Blubberfen" he said. "Do you wish to punish me?", his meaty fists clenching the handles of his axes.
Skargat was still in pain. Hrothgur still fresh. The Tyrant knew a leadership fight could have gone wrong for him.
"No, Hrothgur. You keep looking for an answer. Everybody, get to work salvaging what we can and rebuilding the palisade. Fast, before our camp is really compromised!".

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