Day 26:

We woke this morning to find Gobue had also ranked up. I scowled at a flummoxed Gobujii. His information about the difficulty of [Rank Up]’s seems to be off.

Either that or this generation is exceptionally talented!

I pondered this as we were brought together. She was fidgeting with a necklace of small fangs and the rest of the Hobgoblins were already dressed in full armour, which wasn’t usual but they were also already equipped with their weapons.

As soon as we were all assembled he began splitting us into the five and ten man squads he had previously mentioned. From there we were then armoured.

The newly chosen squad leaders were given proper leather armour and actual metal weapons. While the more numerous privates were each equipped with a simple shell reinforced board shield and a rabbit horn lashed to a stick.

This just goes to show the difference in treatment you get if you have some talent.

It was a simple upgrade but one I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of before; a spear. It was too obvious and would make a huge difference in combat due to its reach.

The shield would also stand up to a few hits, I don’t know how well I’ll be able to utilise it but it all helps. A few of the others were given the new weight on their arm looks of concern and a few were already swinging it around trying to get a feel for it.

We went over a basic equipment check the top brass obviously were our heavy hitters, all we had to do was follow orders and focus on staying alive. Our Colonel didn’t give any rallying speeches or pep talks he just told us that history was written by the victor. Some Goblin began to bang their spear handle against their shield and soon it was picked up by all the rest.

I could feel my blood boil, I was pumped. Mob mentality, bloodlust and adrenaline will do that to you.

We marched from the cave in tense silence, an Orc mine on almost the other side of the forest our destination. Having never seen an Orc I can only go by my memories of them from my old life regardless of what they look they were always described as being strong. Can we really win?

Needing to quickly crush that little seed of doubt I frantically stared around the green army looking for any sign of hope.
I found it in the giant grin and quivering shoulders of Gobukichi. The battle junkie looked so excited by the prospect of it all, his attitude was spread to the group of Goblins assigned under him.

In fact most of the Goblins assigned under a Hobgoblin looked confident.

My rational mind reminded me how OP our Colonel Goburou was and that seemed to be enough. My body relaxed a little and my pre-battle jitters were dispelled.

We didn’t send out scouts but every so often Goburou would halt us and direct us around another way or have us clear something. After another stop we at the back were handed a few fresh snacks. Night Viper meat was just the perfect accompaniment to a long march.

I guess he has some way of knowing where enemies are; no wonder they always seemed to have an easier time hunting.

After a few hours the trees began to thin out. The ground descended gently and staggering our units we slowly picked our way down the mountain side.

We re-gathered at the base of the mountain, there were still enough trees and bushes to provide good cover. By the time our squad arrived Gobumi and Gobue had already taken positions on branches in two tree crossbows at the ready. Goburou was surveying the area and Gobukichi was resting on a knee but still alert with his axe and shield at the ready. The rest of the Goblins were milling about but quietly attentive.

They knew something was about to happen.

He gave a hand signal.

What a twang of taught string both girls loosed a single bolt into their targets before deftly reloading and drawing another bead. We were all on our feet ready and waiting, watching this unfurl. From the bush I was behind I watched as several green figures scurried out of the scrub on either side of the clearing ahead, picked up two heavy objects and half lifted half dragged them back under cover and out of sight.

After a few moments we began our advance, stealthily through the treeline.

As we drew level with the edge of the clearing the body of a rough skinned pig faced monster came into view; an Orc. It looked as I had imagined minus the arrow lodged in its throat and the multitude of stab wounds to its torso but it smelled worse than I could have dreamed of.

When we met with the advanced party Goburou gave another signal and the two snipers and the few goblins posted as rear guard moved forward to join us.

Given the recovered spear by its side and the crude leather armour it’s safe to assume that it was some sort of guard and that from here on out is the Orcs territory. Its body was about the size of a Hobgoblin, around twice my size both tall and wide but surprisingly that seemed to be more muscle than fat.

With a nod he led us into battle.

We broke cover as one large mass, a green spearhead ready to fight.

Goburou marched in front with Gobukichi behind and slightly to the left, Gobumi was on his right and Gobue was shielded behind Gobukichi. Followed by our rabble.

Their mountain hold slowly came into view, half the hillside was terraced like an open cast mine but I could also see the entranceway to a mine shaft presumably leading deeper into the hillside. There were three Orcs on the hillside, the sound of their picks on stone slowly died away as our force approached. They were dressed in slightly better rags than I was wearing but it didn’t do any good as the furthest and the middle one were taken out. Effortlessly.

As Gobumi and Gobue were reloading the third made an attempt to take them out.

There was a moment where his beady eyes drifted between which of the girls to choose. The one shielded by the wall of armour or the other one. Decision reached, his eyes darted to Gobumi and he ran a wide arc but Goburou didn’t even flinch. He knew he didn’t have to, as soon as the Orc drew close he was assailed by a barrage of spear thrusts from the Goblin flank that moved to cover her.

That was all the resistance we encountered on the way to the entrance to the tunnel.

In an instant we were engaging the enemy. The four man squad under Gobumi and the four man squad under Gobue set up. One set dropped to a knee and formed a straight line shield wall while the others levelled their spears over the shields creating an arcing kill zone

Secure behind them the two Hobgoblins began to unload as many shots as fast as possible into the onslaught before helping any Goblin in trouble with a well-placed strike.

The Goblins under Gobukichi raised a fierce cry and barrelled into the enemy like their leader.

The ten men squads that were left spread out to engage the oncoming orcs, Goburou was like a reaper on the battlefield. He was commanding us while at the same time battling individuals, skilfully warding and harassing them with his now blood slickened estocs.

Sparks flew every time his gauntlet deflected a blade.

A bellow from deep in the cavern froze my blood, from the deeper darkness emerged a large orc in sturdy half plate armour. He was charging forward with his intimidating halberd at the head of another wave of pig faced men wielding picks and an assortment of other weapons.

With a rallying high pithed squeal he galvanised the orcs.

Gobukichi took up the challenge and dashed to intercept but with a heavy swing of the halberd he was swatted out of the way as the flat of the head slammed into his iron shield.

Before I had to deal with my first orc I saw Goburou leaping at the Orc leader with a devious grin.

The first Orc to reach me was dressed in sweat stained ragged clothes, he came in swinging his pick wildly from side to side. It took all my focus just to dodge his mad pitches.

While he was focused on me he missed the two spears that stuck him from either side.

With a squeal he dropped to his knees. An arrow to the head dropped him.

My associates moved onto other targets while I took a moment to catch my breath, I almost missed the short sword swung at my head.

After my first new world hair cut I rolled away and got my  shield raised in time to block another couple of strikes, my spear harried the leather armoured Orc’s shins long enough to allow me to get back on my feet.

He snorted at me defiantly as I raised my shield defensively.

I’ve never tried swing a spear one handed but I need the other just for my blocker. Block; parry; dodge; block. He’s got more experience than I do against opponents. I’ve yet to try stabbing this guy but my arms are getting heavy, my breathing ragged and my movements slower. Killing an animal and killing something vaguely human are two different thing entirely but its survival of the fittest; kill or be killed.

I know this but I just can’t do it!

Sensing my resolve weaken he pressed forward, meaty fingers grasped the edge of my shield board, I could feel his hot acrid breath. With a grunt he tried to wrench the meagre defence free. It was a gamble but the brute was too focused on crushing the annoyance then on thinking.

My shield arm was thrown wide opening up my guard and exposing my chest, as it raised up its sword my mind went blank.

Instinct, or maybe all that training, took over and I executed a thrust of my spear faster than he could swing his sword. It was shallow but the horn digging into his opposite shoulder caused the blade in his left hand to falter.

He responded with a heavy kick that knocked me away.

Tumbling over and over on the rough dirt ground, my head was spinning and my world was in chaos. I had lost the grip on my spear and the arm strap on my shield had broken in the exchange.

With a sharp motion and a small spurt of blood he yanked it out and tossed it to the ground as he calmly walked to where I had rolled to. Taking his sword in both hands he heaved it back to set up a powerful horizontal slash.

He gave a heavy grunt as he swung the imposing honed blade at my small figure

My back against the tunnel wall all I could do was grip the two ripped halves of the arm strap with each hand and hunkered down behind it. I shut my eyes tight, half from fear and half from acceptance.

Waiting for death the world grew distant and silent.

I felt the impact of the sword hitting the shield, then the blade digging itself in. I was forced to open my eyes as the pain I felt exploded in my mind. The grip of my right hand loosened. Slowly I made hesitant eye contact with my killer.

My pathetic form was reflected in his eyes, he could smell my fear and it aroused him.

As he tried to pull his weapon free something landed on his back, I felt the collision transmitted through the shield, and a moment later there was a sickening gush of something splashing against my haggard shield. I felt a hot liquid splatter on my head like light raindrops.

The force tugging at my shield disappeared as the Orc slumped to the ground.

On his back, in worn and scratched leather armour, was a single Goblin. His short sword was as blood soaked as the orcs throat. With one hand clutching the back of the orcs leather armour he rode it into the dirt.

“S-squad Leader?”

The words barely escaped my mouth.

Gently in took the shield from me as the adrenaline started to fade only to be replaced by another wave of pain, I clutched at my arm in excruciating agony as he cradled me.

“Goburou, Sir! His arm is barely still attached!”

Don’t say things like that squad leader! Really, how bad could it be?

Through teary half scrunched eyes I peeked at the damage.

It was horrendous. The orc’s blow had cut deep into the shield meaning it had bite into my arm a fair bit but it seemed a combination of bone and wood had stopped it from completely severing the limb. The shields only had shells on the front so a slash from the side was completely unhindered.

My body was shaking, going into shock from the horrific blood loss.

My vision grew dark as my consciousness was fading, instead of that black pull of death what gripped my mind was a gentle, soothing warmth.

Slowly I opened my eyes to find the larger than life face of the Colonel before me. One of his hands was wreathed in a pale glowing light. The aura of which was bathing my wound in the same pale green hue.

The healing magic stopped the bleeding, slowly closing the gap and once he was finished he looked mildly fatigued but nodded his head with satisfaction, it was reattached securely enough that he called over some other Goblins. They bound it tightly in cloth scraps.

The pain eased enough for me to look around.

The tunnel was littered with the bodies of orcs, some looked like pin cushions, and broken spears. There were no Goblin bodies among them as far as I could make out.

A few were using their spears to steady themselves but most were busying themselves with other tasks; treating the wounded with [Healing Grass] infused bandages, looting Orc equipment and transporting their stripped bodies to one pile. Even the ones from outside were added to the growing pile.

Resting against the wall I watched a couple Goblins present Goburou with the halberd the big orc warrior had used.  After a moments contemplation he accepted it with a wry smile.

I looked to my own weapon.

The sturdy shell reinforced shield board lay in tatters near me. Shells were missing in places and hanging loose in others. A sizeable V shaped notch was cut deep into it, that single strike had almost split us both in two.

My horn tipped spear on the other hand was gone.

It had been completely broken in the scuffle that ensued around us after he had removed it from his shoulder and cast it away.

By now most of everything had been collected into several piles in front of mine entrance, near them a strange structure of fresh branches had been constructed. Under which the ragged sweat stained clothes of the orc and most of the broken arrow and spear shafts were dumped.

Gobukichi and his squad returned with several logs and larger sticks. Closely followed by Gobue and her subordinates carrying armfuls of small and medium branches.

With a flick of his wrist Goburou set the pile under the green wood grill on fire with a stream of flames that jetted forth from his fingertips. Once it had all caught the first few bodies parts, curtesy of Gobumi and her squad preparing the bodies, were tossed on to the primitive barbeque.

While commenting about hoping the smell from the cloth didn’t contaminate the meat Goburou rotated the hocks slowly. The smell of pork roasting filled the air as the celebration began.

Around me goblins were comparing their wounds, cavorting merrily and generally blowing off steam.

We were told the meat would be divided based on rank as the first large leg went to Gobukichi, it was only half cooked but it looked like he didn’t mind. Goburou was overseeing the cooking but he had secured the large orc leader and several hearts for himself.

Next Gobumi and Gobue were served, followed by the squad leaders. We who remained got what was left of the first orc divided amongst us.

In the end I still hadn’t managed to kill anything and the delicious pork tasted a bit salty and bitter.

While I ate Goblins were dancing around intoxicated by the taste. I even saw Gobukichi splitting some of his with Gobue. Goburou polished off the whole Orc by the time we were on our fifth and every so often he would take a few shiny rocks and crunched them like hard candies. By comparison i may have only been awarded a small portion but with how many orcs there were by the end of the feast even I was full.

With the celebration feast over we were each presented with a spoil of war as recognition of our victory.

I, like the others of my rank, got a decent short sword.

Some of the squad leaders got an upgrade to their weapons and those in tattered armour even got some new pieces. Their old armour was added back into the general pile. We collected it all up and began our journey home.

On our return we split the remaining Orc meat and war stories with the older Goblins.

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