Unlikely Bedfellows

Written by Bensome: Turn 1

Battled long ago, the story has faded into legend 6th February 2021

The Rift: a fascinating mystery that demands further study. My fellow Truth-bringers and I have pledged to uncover its secrets, harness what energies we can, and protect any malign force from those of sinister intention.

What we do know is that this monumental event is attracting many groups seeking to profit from it. To be able to compete with these groups is going to take both money and a strong arm, both of which we Truth-bringers lack... except maybe Truthbringer Jarlbjorn. I swear that guy spends more time lifting anvils than he does in his studies and I'm pretty sure he is of an affluent family. All is not lost though. We have the most important aspect one needs for such a venture: unfathomable wit and cunning.

We have decided to split our efforts to cover the most ground, with myself and one other moving in from the Northwest in an attempt to establish a base of operations. That leaves the problem of acquiring a force who are able to enact this task. As mentioned before our purses are light of coin so it is with a modicum of hesitance that I approached the two goblin Wiz's known within The College.

All it took was the promise of powerful magics and potential plunder and the Wiz duo of Grabblesnot and Grimple were off. "Seek your mates and let them know what's in store if they help out" was what I requested, and they delivered in full some five days later. Hordes of Goblin Sharpsticks flanked by their bigger, brutish kindred; the "Luggits". A goblin bard joined the throng as well as what seemed to be the leader of the group, riding one of those filthily fleabags.

Word must of spread because there was also a couple of hordes of trolls in their midst as well as their bruiser of a "commander". Not what I would have selected had I the choice in travelling companions, but as the saying goes "beggars cannot be choosers". Perhaps their size and, more probably, their smell will act as a deterrent from those seeking to muscle-in on the proposed location of our camp.

I never would have thought that I would get to examine the goblin machinations up close but here I am; standing a respectable distance from an entire mob of mincers and a pair of those wonderfully crude flying contraptions. The cherry atop this unsavoury pie was the famed wiz Grupp Longnail herself. I didn't think Grabblesnot or Grimple had any connections to Grupp. I suspect she is here less for the sport and more for self gain. Not to worry, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Note to self: determine the exact relationship the Wiz's have with Ms Longnail.

With an army at my command, as rag-tag as it may be, we set forth towards the agreed upon location. I must remember to write home; they'll never believe that I'm actually leaving college grounds!

It wasn't long before we heard the telltale sounds of another sizeable force; undoubted here for the same reasons we are. Probably much better equipped and definitely with more experience outdoors (and leading with troops I guess). Hidden within the tree line we wait until I've a visual on what it is we're facing.

I figuratively pray to the Shining Ones that my goblin allies keep their calm and don't blow our cover, but Goblin-kin seem to be a race that makes more noise while idle than do on the march. A curious observation that will need further study.

The Battle by the Bard’s Taphouse.

We heard them well before anyone caught sight of them. The beating of drums carried by the wind, their rhythm steady and constant. Next came the stomping of boots, a subtle rumble slightly out of time from the drum beats yet unexpectedly harmonized to the "music", for lack of a better word.

My diminutive companions fell to a hush as the rumbling from across the field increased in volume. I'm not afraid to say in that very moment I may have involuntarily urinated just a little. Unlike some of the goblins whom I'm certain suffered from fear-induced defecation; I'm unsure if this was a reaction to the impending engagement or if it was just the goblin way of things. I'm not ruling out it being the natural musk of trolls either.

I relayed my concerns of coordination to Grabblesnot and Grimple but they reassured me that everything was fine.
"These fellas are as tough as they get" Grimple said.
"Yeah, the best we could find. Don't you worry none" Grabblesnot reinforced.
They look of doubt the two Wiz's then exchanged to one another was not missed by me. "Wit and cunning, wit and cunning" was the mantra I have taken to repeating whenever the feeling of abandoning this quest reared its head.

Clearing the tree line our competitors revealed themselves: Orcs. The drums should have given that away but in my defence, orcish societal studies was not a subject I've taken. I did note among the throng of jeering orcs and orclings was a small contingent of humans. A crowd of religious fanatics by my guess and their handler; a man in resplendent armour atop a strong looking steed. Perhaps he was there to observe, which means that The Bank was behind this force. This is knowledge I can use.

I relayed my observations to my two colleagues and they in turn passed that to the leaders of their fighting forces. If there's one group that boils the blood of a goblin, it's The Bank; irreconcilable differences in money management I believe.

There was one moment I will never forget, and it was not from any action from any soldier. Nay it was exactly that: the complete inaction from both sides as they observed their opponent, sizing up one another. An unusual calm but with a tension in the air so thick you could taste it... again that may just be the trolls.

An invisible catalyst spurred the war drums of the orcs into action. A cacophony of bellowing brutes, thunderous thumping of leather on soil and the booming of bass drums sent waves sound to the core of my being. I thought I was going to be sick. Not so for my goblin friends, in fact it had quite the opposite effect.

In response to the movement of the orcish army the goblins yelled in glee; it seemed they've been looking forward to a good scrap. Grupp herself turned to me and presented a cheeky wink and sly smile before running off by the Mincers, followed by the Bard. His music was truly awful, but it seemed to inspire those around him.

The miraculous "Wing gits" took to the sky circling nearby a small contingent of goblin Luggits, Grimple and the Big git on his mount. The rest of my force took a steady march forward, the trolls staying close to the nearby Taphouse (which is apparently well known for its fine ales).

My confidence grew at the sight of goblins working together... and quickly sank as their natural disposition for discourse emerged. One of the flying machines seemed to pop and bang its way across the sky, dropping fragments of wood and metal atop some of its nearby companions. This in turn raised the ire of the second machine, thinking it was a deliberate action and returned fire, hurling as many insults as they were flinging physical projectiles.

Shakily they both sputtered and convulsed across the field, the threat of mounted orc archers ahead retraining their focus. Missiles from both sides were released, the devastation of the explosive devices thrown by the flying goblins inflicting more wounds than the orcish arrows. As such it wasn't long before a troop of Gore riders fled the field leaving the remaining to give up the idea of ranged combat.

One must remember that an orc with a bow and arrow is still an orc, a creature of immense strength for its size. The riders proving more effective in close combat than at a distance. The goblins held that charge and responded in kind, eventually routing the mounted orcs with only a few casualties. A sigh of relief was all I could muster as it was no time for celebration, not even for small victories.

On the other side of the field, frozen by the chill winds from the north and marching across a frozen lake, the goblin horde advanced cautiously. A difficult position to be sure as the masses of orcs were steadily striding within range of an all-out charge. The minute orclings leading the pack, expendable troops to soak any assault the goblins may attempt.

The orcish war drums began to beat out of time, perhaps out of excitement or perhaps because they are orcs. In either case the clashing of resonating thumps produced a nauseating onslaught of sound. The effect of which brought many of their own warriors to their knees. The nearby human General feeling the effect as well. He could be seen clutching his ears and made a hasty retreat away from the literal instruments of chaos. A most interesting discovery for the use of sound and one that I must share with my fellow Truthbringers. Weaponizing sound could be the forefront of militaristic technology.

The General led his fanatical followers across to fill the gap left by the routing orc cavalry. His contempt and frustration clearly visible even from my post some distance away. The ensuing scrum was so tight knit with little room to maneuver and when the General couldn’t frighten the Luggits into fleeing, turned and grounded a nearby passing flying machine. It has not been confirmed it this was his doing or if the poorly constructed vehicle was already crashing.

The now unengaged goblins sallied forth and flattened the fanatic mob with ease. The Big git saw the opportunity to strike the General from behind while he was distracted, spooking the Generals horse to such an extreme that it could not be calmed, leaving the field in terror. I will assume that The Bank is going to be having words with their representative. Maybe they’ll write this one off as a bad investment but I suspect they will seek compensation.

At this point I had lost track of time. It could have been hours or mere minutes. The engagement of orc against goblin, troll against orc seemed to last both an eternity and an instant. Recounting the events of this battle is difficult as the mass of soldiers intertwined through imprecise swings and chops. Goblin and orc both barely resembling trained soldiers and more like a tremendous street brawl. It was hard to distinguish who had the upper hand. That said I was both surprised and impressed with the goblin ability to use the terrain to their advantage.

Many an orc charge was made through bramble and barricade, over slippery ice fields or slowed by trees. The goblins held their ground, took the charge, retreated a short distance and readied their spears to receive a second impact. Tactically this proved to be very effective in stalling the savage and ferocious orc advancement. Be it by design or by luck the knock-on effect allowed the larger more offensive goblin contingents to beat back their defenders and then wheel around to encircle the orc hordes. While one goblin horde was unable to weather a sustained tussle, they had held on long enough for the remainder of the army to enwrap and chase off the bulk of orc warriors, leaving just their captain and mages behind.

One warrior stood out of the pack and it was none other than the legendary Grupp Longnail. Let it be known that a single goblin with enchanted gloves stood toe to toe with a Troll bruiser and chased it down. Let it be known that a single goblin making use of both her wit and cunning, held back an entire horde of orcs. Let it be known that a single goblin of humble background absolutely demolished an opposing mage with just her hands.

It was this utter destruction of the poor orc wizard that broke the psyche of the enemy arch-shaman, who up until this point, was bolstering his forces with strengthening magic. Grupp's status solidified her as a warrior of legend and who will have my utmost respect. If given the chance I would like to shake her hand... and maybe catch a glimpse of those unique gloves she wears. Unfortunately, she had departed the battleground before I was to arrange a proper introduction. I can only assume whatever it was she was looking for wasn't there. Or maybe it was and that I was too slow to spot it.

So, it is with great pleasure to report that I, as a distant observer and commissioner of this uncouth but effective army, have led The College to victory. The Taphouse and its immediate surrounds have been secured and a base of operations established. From advice from both Grabblesnot and Grimple, the goblin soldiers were given permission to pick the field clean of spoils and able to return home if they desired. As one victory has been placed under belt, being able to call upon them again should be a simple matter if we so choose.

If there is one regret I have it is that I did not employ a witness that could attest to my achievements this day. Once I return home and recite my experiences, I believe they will just be dismissed as a flight of fancy. As such I will persevere and continue down this dangerous and exciting path… but will endeavour to bring back evidence.

This is just the beginning of an extraordinary adventure.