Battle In The Badlands
by: Jens Damborg Jensen
This story was originally submitted to Mythic!
Thorgal Cut-n-eye was standing on top of the hill, looking out over the camp. The men were packing up the tents. As commander of one of the traveling armies of the Empire, the Bogenhafen Veterans, he was in charge of the lives of these men, but today he wished it wasn’t so. The men were tired and many of them were wounded, and Thorgal could easily understand why. It had seemed like such a good idea when the count of Wissenland had asked them to clean up a little in the Badlands, but he hadn’t known that they would be fighting every day with only the nights as resting-time, and there was still one battle left.
Thorgal praised Sigmar for his many fantastic leaders.
There was Asgund Axegrinder the dwarf. He had been Thorgals friend through many dangers, and it had been Asgund who had saved him when he had lost his eye in the battle against the Clan Pestilens skavens.
There was Wilhelm Hawk who led the handgunners. Thorgal smiled when he thought of the time when Wilhelm and his gunners had taken out an entire night goblin unit with a single volley.
And there was Brother Marcus the eccentric warrior priest, who led the swordsmen. He had once single-handedly killed a Bloodthirster–or at least that’s what he told everybody.
Thorgal really needed these men, because he was facing the biggest waaaagh yet.
He cleared his throat.
“Men, listen to me! I know you’re tired and I know you all just want to go home to your wives or lovers or maybe both; hell so do I, but that way home goes through a massive horde of greenskins. It may all seem impossible, but just think of what you have already overcome. Greenskins, ogres, skaven, the undead, they’re all the same. They’re a plague to mankind and best when they’re lying at your feet with a big hole in their skulls.”
At this point all the men cheered and Thorgal mounted his horse.
“Now ride out with me, my veterans. For your homes, for the coin in your hand and for the undying glory that awaits you. Ride out with me, if not one last time!”
The battle had been fantastic, the best Thorgal had ever seen.
They had found the greenskins in a gorge with steep hills on both sides, just as the scouts had informed them they would. Thorgal would be lying to himself if he said that he hadn’t felt a small touch of fear as he had gazed upon the hugeness of this waaaagh. They had been outnumbered at least five to one and unlike his men, who were wounded and tired, the savage beasts had seamed to be more battle-hungry than ever. If there had been one good thing to say about the sight he had been seeing, it was that there was no artillery to be seen.
It had been completely silent, like it always was just before a great battle, but then the silence had been ripped asunder by the great war cry of the greenskins. Thorgal had held his sword high as he and his men had answered with an almost equally great war cry.
“Chaaaarge!!” the entire army had roared and then it had begun.
Thorgal had instructed the crew of his cannons and mortars to make good use of what little ammunition they had left, and they certainly had. One of the mortar shells had hit the line of orc archers, blasting a big hole in the middle of the line and sending the rest fleeing. One of the cannons had taken out two chariots with one shot, and probably most important a mortar shell had taken out more than half the orc boar riders.
Thorgal had watched his swordsmen, halberdiers and Asgund’s dwarfs chop down greenskin after greenskin, as they collided with the orc forces. Wilhelm’s handgunners had just fired a volley at the front orc line so it was half broken when the close combat started, which made it a less suicidal charge.
He gave the order to the mercenary cavalry he had hired. They were not as disciplined as any of the knightly orders, but he had learned that ruthlessness could be fought with ruthlessness. They rode into position and as he, his greatswords and the very last of the pistoliers charged the cavalry rode in from the flank. He’d held his sword in the height of an orc’s head as he rode, killing many of them, but suddenly one had gotten in the way. The orc’s spear had killed his horse, throwing him out of the saddle. As he’d been lying there on his back he saw a gigantic orc on a fierce boar coming at him. There had been no time to reach for his sword, let alone get to his feet, but he had had a backup plan. He’d pulled out the small pistol he always kept with him, the pistol he had used back in the days when he was a pistolier. He’d taken aim, pressed the ticker and watched as the boar had stumbled and fell. He had then quickly picked up his sword, gotten to his feet and sliced the head of the gigantic orc. Then he had moved on to the next orc and then the next and then the next.
But the worst thing about warfare was that even if all your men fight the best a man can possibly fight, sometimes victory is simply not possible.
They where pressed against one of the sides of the hills now, surrounded by what was left of the waaaagh. Many of his men had died and entire unites had perished. The mercenary cavalry had all died but had taken out tree orc regiments before falling. Brother Marcus was lying behind him bleeding badly and there where only five of Asgund’s dwarfs left, including Asgund himself. But when Thorgal looked at the enemy he still considered it a victory. The two armies where now equal in numbers, and there where only the biggest orc boys and the black orcs left.
“Men! These beasts think they have won! Let us show that the men of The Empire fight to the very last drop of blood. For Sigmar!” Thorgal yelled and raised his sword. He could hear the men cheering. It sounded like they were far more than they actually were. Just as he was about the make his final charge, one of his men yelled, “Look out sir!” and he just managed to look up and see a big boulder coming down upon the orcs.
“How can this be?” He said and looked in the direction of the boulder’s origin. The answer can in the form of a thousand hoof beats. More than two hundred knights on colorfully barded horses and with pointy lances where charging towards the greenskins accompanied by the occasional boulder. The orcs, having thought that they had won, were terrified to see the arrival of a whole new enemy and turned to flee, but the knights easily ran them down.
One of them, a knight with several motives of the grail, stopped in front of Thorgal.
“Greetings, Bretonian! We thank you for getting us out of this rather tight spot,” Thorgal said and bowed.
“Ze pleasure iz all mine. We ‘ave been looking for you for a long time now, Thorgal Cut-n-eye” the paladin replied.