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A Dance With Demons - Chapter 09

A Dance With Demons - Chapter 09

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Published by: screaminlemur on Jun 28, 2009
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Chapter 9 - Greywall
Sir Alec Neuvall reined in his horse outside of the limitsof the village of Greywall. He could see the river Ishkar off beyond the small town, and he could also see the smokerising from it. He turned to his aide and called for a spyglass, muttering to himself.“Thrice-damned orcs. I’m getting to old for thisbusiness.”His aide, a smallish farm boy from one of the westernmarches, answered with a “What was that, Sir?”Alec scowled. “Never mind, boy. Where are the scouts?Have any of them reported back yet? I won’t have usmarching into an orc horde blind.” The boy’s voice cracked as he answered. “None of themhave come back yet, sir. It’s only been two hours or so.”Alec looked at him.
The boy’s green as grass. These are the best replacements we can get? I’d be better off conscripting local levies. Gods know we have enough men laying about the city with nothing else to do.
He tapped the pommel of his saddle impatiently. Henever had been good at waiting, and so he turned around, watching as his guardsmen rode up behind him. He onlyhoped that the two hundred men-at-arms he’d managedto scrounge up would be enough. The reports he’d gottenmade the orcs to be over a thousand in number. Worse,the message he’d received said that they came from severaldifferent clans.
All in all, a damned peculiar situation.
 Orcs
never 
crossed the Ishkar in those kind of numbers.Numbers that big begged for him to call out the garrisonand mow them down —just as he was about to do. Besides which, it was unheard of for orc clans to co-operate. One
 
or two might send picked warriors together on a raid once
a year, but the warriors of ve or six —or more —clans to
invade the Empire? Something was up, and it botheredhim.His sergeant-at-arms pulled his horse up alongside. The
man had served with Alec for fteen years, always refusing
promotions, and even after all the campaigns and battlesthey had been through, still hadn’t told Alec his name.Known to the men as “Old Baldy,” he couldn’t read or write,signig his name with an X. Alec simply called him “Sarge.”“Whadd’ya think, Sarge?” Alec handed the older man thespyglass.He harrumphed and took the spyglass from the knight.He peered across the plain, and murmured as he did,“Looks like they’re here in the numbers we were told about.Gods’ piss! I haven’t seen this many orcs, well…. ever, to behonest. But I don’t see any mounts.”“I don’t either, Sarge. That’s what worries me. It wouldtake weeks to move this many men on foot. If so, how come we never got any word? None of the cross-river patrols got word back? None? This is damned peculiar.” Alec took thespy glass back from his lieutenant. “Blast! Where are those
scouts!” He hollered for a runner. “Go nd Sir Kinnith. Find
out if he’s seen any of his scouts. And be quick! Got it?” Thepage nodded, then took off toward the back of the column.Alec stroked the shoulder of his charger. Horses hadalways had a calming affect on him; going through themotions of caring for his horse took his mind off theproblems at hand. He climbed down off the animal and
began to examine the saddle, making sure none of itsstraps or harnesses were chang the horse. He was just
checking the last of the straps when Sir Kinnith and his
 
page rode up. The other knight called out a greeting andclimbed down off his horse.“Hail, Kinnith! What news have you?”“Good news, my lord. My best tracker has just returned.He reports that the orcs, while great in number, are all on
foot, save for a few ofcers. Currently they are surrounding
the village walls, laying siege, and are spread out. He also
reports that they have out but few scouts and ankers, and
 we should easily be able to take them with a good charge. The vermin are ready to be swept before us!”Alec grunted, glad that Greywall did at least have a wooden palisade around it. “Seems too easy. A thousandgreen backs, no wargs, no scouts? It seems like somethingis amiss. Screams it, in fact. You’re sure your scout got itright, Kinnith?”Kinnith looked at Alec with his eyebrow raised. “MyLord, he is my best scout. He wouldn’t get it wrong.”
Old Baldy scufed his boots together as he spoke.
“He’s not questioning what your man saw, Kinnith. He’squestioning whether your man saw the truth, or the truththe green backs wanted him to see. You do have to admitthat not even greenbacks are this foolish.”“Rabble! Nothing but rabble!” Kinnith scoffed. “ Whydo you two seem so surprised that the greenbacks wouldbe more interested in conquest and pillage than mindingbusiness? They know we rarely amass formations of thissize, so they must feel safe in their numbers.”A silence ensued as the other two pondered the youngerknight’s words. Alec wished he had more knights here, buthe had few enough to go around, and had to rely on men-at-arms —trained and armored, granted, but not lifetime

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