Dull. That was the word that described everything around Skreetcha Corpuscle, a chieftain in service to Clan Moulder. Miles and miles of dull. And dullards.
Wretched, filthy, stinking, slaves. Made even more wretched, filthy, and stinking by the rat ogres they tended.
was his to command. Skreetcha would rather have been an experiment under Throt than here, a burning desert that clawed at his eyes, sun too bright and cover too scarce.
Was he Skweel’s favourite chieftain, or least favourite? A quest to earn warpstone and rat ogres of his own, or a scheme by a rival to see Skreetcha lost?
He’d have thought more about the subject, but it was hot, he was a bit dim himself, and it was more amusing to sneak up behind slaves and kick them in the rear.
Until the slaves started jabbering and pointing. Shoving them aside as he made his way through the ranks, he spotted… skeletons riding horses?
Born in the far north, Skreetcha had never seen such a thing, but even he knew one of the old enemies of the Skaven – Tomb Kings!
“Quick-quick, formation march!”
A shove here and a point there, and the slaves had scrobbled their way into something resembling a battle line, the precious rat ogres kept back. If he lost any…
The skeletal horsemen came forward, bows in their hands.
“Slinger fire, yes-yes!”
Slaves, being slaves, were slow to react, and the first shots came from the skeletons, their arrows arcing over head to strike…
Well, Skreetcha didn’t see, because he was cowering under his shield, but he heard the bellow of pain from the rat ogres.
The rat ogres must have drifted forward, he was too much the great tactician for it to be otherwise.
Pebbles flew, but the horse archers dodged, circling around to launch another flurry of arrows at the rat ogres.
In anguish, Skreetcha clawed at his ears. Tactics, tactics… be smart, yes. So smart. Behind the horse archers was a small hill. Height was good, better for the slings.
“Forward-trot, screen ogres!”
It was ugly, there was skirmishing, and a few slaves died. Which didn’t matter. But he got to the top of the hill.
“Hah! Hill is mine, bone-things! This land mine, yes-yes!”
A great victory, the skeleton horsemen driven off below the crest of the hill, running out of sight and away. No mere bone creature could face Clan Moulder’s might! Or was that Skreetcha Corpuscle’s might?
“Naughty thoughts, heh heh.” His chuckle was hardly subtle, but it was trying.
Urgent pointing from a slave clutching a rusted old pole.
“What? No-no!” More
A legion… no, two… Skreetcha quickly counted on his claws. Four
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the slaves. The rat ogres were too stupid to react.
And those nasty skeleton horsemen had reappeared.
“Slings, more slings!”
There was much incompetent scurrying, rats tripping over one another, getting out of formation, and letting the rat ogres get shot again.
“You-you, go right, you-you left. Flank-circle, yes!” Skreetcha’s plan was genius. Use numbers to run around the legions, and stab them in the back
! It was a masterpiece of tactics.
The glittering horde of skeletons formed up at the base of the hill, using old stone towers there to solidify the ends of their formations.
“You-rest, with me, charge!” Skreetcha waited until several units of slaves went past, then followed. Smart Skaven led from the rear, yes!
Lines met. Many slaves squeaked.
Rear quickly became front. Slaves weren’t made of stern stuff.
A giant of a Tomb King, gilded and golden and wearing a funereal mask, chopped into Skreetcha’s shield with a mighty sword, sending it flying.
“Real Tomb King, yes-yes?” Avarice and cowardice warred in his thoughts. Self-preservation won.
The impact of the rat ogres cleared some of the melee that pressed in about Skreetcha. So he fled. Tomb Kings were scary. Best to lead from rear again.
“Ogres in! Ogres out.”
Thundering over their lesser, the ogres threw their bulk into the Tomb King legions again and again.
Then his flanking slaves arrived. Late, slow, and with terrible weapons, they fell on the legions like the impact of a Throtling into a stone wall. So the legions barely noticed. But it was a flanking manoeuvre!
Then Skreetcha noticed the skeleton horsemen were gone, dead, lost. His tactical genius at work!
Pebbles break bone quite nicely, even when thrown by a slave.
At the last, all that was left was the Tomb King himself. The ancient glories of Nehekhara became the incipient glories of Skreetcha Corpuscle when it fell beneath the teeming hordes of slaves. Plucking a gem from its crown, he rolled it from paw to paw, eyes gleaming.