A Flintloque Short Story by Mac Coxhead and Steve Blease.
The short story that explains how it all began, Otto's Folly tells the tale of the fall of the humans at Dresda.
Otto V emerged from his pavilion amid the hubbub of the returning reconnaissance party...
“How looks the City?” he asked Manfred Van Cricklehollov, the commander of the group.
“Something strange about the place, Sire. There's a Standard flying over the citadel, men in red uniforms on the walls and there are earthworks around the city, such as I have never seen”
Otto was astounded. Men? On the walls? Who would dare to chase out the Orcs and then occupy his city?
“There are no men. Colonel Your scouts are either mistaken or lying. A simple trick of the sunset, shining red onto the crenellations. Your 'earthworks' are probably just dung heaps left by the Orcs.”
“As you will Your Majesty, but we viewed Dresda at midday, under a clear Autumn sky Only Marek's company went close in and they did not return, although we heard their cries from afar, mingled with a strange rolling thunder.”
Mad Otto's grandson stood and puzzled. Men in Dresda, thunder out of a clear sky and new earthworks around his City?
He still believed that much of this was pure imagination, but that still left unexplained the disappearance of Marek and his men…
but… Ah! Now he had it! Marek's company had simply found Dresda empty, the Orcs gone, and were even now pillaging the Royal Wine Cellars, then drunken cries mingling with the 'thunder' of rolling barrels. This was too much to be borne.
“To Horse! To Horse.!” he stormed “Dresda’s empty but for thieving scouts from your own command. They shall pay with their lives, as shall one in ten from all of the other companies of your regiment. You and your officers, Manfred, arc relieved of command and shall await my pleasure here”
With that, the young King leapt onto his horse and rode to the front of the hastily assembled army.
He stood in his stirrups to address the host.
“Men. We march now into Dresda for the last time. We shall not leave again. Our destiny is upon us, and the long struggle is almost over.”
The ancient words, repeated every year since Mad Otto the Third had come with his army to reclaim Dresda nearly a century ago seemed this day to be different. This time, they had an almost prophetic ring. All who heard them felt that this very day the dream would finally be realized, and that no Orcish horde could ever chase them from their City again.
The companies formed, and, with musicians playing suitably stirring themes, began to march gloriously towards a meeting with Fate…
The sun rose on an army regaled for war.
Otto and his knights began to ride East with the vanguard, banners streaming, surrounded by one thousand of his best foot. The remaining three thousand five hundred foot marched in column behind, all with armour burnished to eye-scorching brightness.
Shielding his eyes from the dazzling dawn Otto tried to make out what was moving in front of the walls. What on Valon was that long, straight line of figures that seemed to be blocking his approach, and what too were those guttural orders being shouted, in the Orcish language?
What was this? Why were there Orcs ahead? He had been so sure that they must all have fled before the rumour of his army… Of course! It must be a gathering of loyal peasantry there to welcome him home, with the Orcish voices merely some prisoners for him to torment.
A flash to rival the sunrise appeared to ripple the length of the city walls just before a gout of black smoke appeared and began to tumble towards Otto and his Army. Suddenly, men around him were being lifted and torn apart by canister shot and an ear-splitting crash rent the air.
Horses screamed and reared with terror whilst men threw themselves to the ground. Otto's horse flailed the air with bloody hooves before toppling backwards, still carrying him with it. Trapped underneath his mount, Otto felt it give one last, heaving shudder and then fall still. The pain from his own smashed pelvis seemed to be a scarlet smear across Otto's sight, but one which slowly resolved itself into hundreds or Orcs, dressed in scarlet and marching in a complicated maneuver which would bring them at right angles to the remains of Otto's human column,
In response to barked orders the Orcs halted and raised bizarre club-like weapons to their shoulders. In the strange hush which followed Otto decided he must be delirious. It was impossible for these bestial un-men to accept such discipline. Simply and utterly impossible.
He died firmly believing this, as the first of the platoon volleys ripped into his disorganized host.
He never saw the muskets being loaded and reloaded as they poured death into the terrified men, nor did he see the gruesome but grimly efficient bayonet work which followed.
Only twelve humans were spared to witness the whole of the massacre. A broken Manfred Van Cricklehollov walked in stunned silence before his remaining Staff Officers, all dragged from their camp by the Orc platoon of Rifles who had seized them as soon as the Dresdan Relief Army had decamped.
Lieutenant Sharke of the Rifles led his prisoners into the newly re-named city of' 'Wheeling Turn' and ordered his troops to keep back, the red-coated Orcish cut-throats who had gathered to loot and torment these hated Humans.
Sharke was a half-breed. His mother had been a foolish Elf-maiden, captured by his clan whilst she was trying to elope. She'd been put to good use by the tribe (until she died giving Sharke life). Some said he had his mother's soft skin and looks, but either they'd (sensibly) never said it to his face, or what was left of them had finished up feeding the carrion dogs which followed the tribe.
Sharke certainly stood straighter than most Orcs, making good use of his six foot frame He was only dwarfed by his Sergeant, Harpy, a massive Bog-Orc, who stood over seven feet tall.
Sharke's platoon forced their way through the rabble of common jeering soldiery until they were met by Major Wogan, another Bog-Orc, (but of a more manageable size) who served as Art-Tan's Chief of Intelligence. Wogan was accompanied by a troop of Provosts, Ogre discipline masters hated and feared by all. The Provosts quickly dispersed the rabble whilst Wogan ushered Sharke into the doorway of a nearby inn.
“Ah, Rekhart! Well done me lad!” he breathed in his soft, Bog-Orc lilt “Now, I've a little job for you that's right up your street, and it'll see you all right with a nice bit of promotion too.”
"But. what about these prisoners, Sir?" Sharke asked, “I lost two lads getting the buggers in, and I thought we were due some of their bits.”
“Oh, they'll be keeping all of their bits, Sharke, and getting a bit of their precious King each, I shouldn’t wonder. See, these fine fellows are going to be sent home so they call tell the rest of their kin what a big mistake it is to come looking for trouble with us Orcs.”
“You, on the other hand, are going to take a trip to Catalucia. His Lordship needs time to drill the rest of this rabble into an Army and do a spot more recruiting too, so you're going to help by buying him some of that time. Best of luck my lad, and off you go!”
This cracking piece of fiction was first printed in the original Flintloque 1st Edition rulebook in 1995 as an introduction to both the World of Valon and Rekhardt Sharke (not to mention his Orc Rifles).
It was first published on Orcs in the Webbe on the 4th December 2007 as part the 2007 Advent Calendar. It was absent for several years due to a prior regeneration of the website not transferring everything over correctly, the wrong has now been righted and it returned on the 4th November 2014 as part of Orcs in the Webbe's ongoing Flintloque Archive Project.