A Tale from the White Liar Tavern
"The Ferach Drummerboy"
A Flintloque Short Story by Tony Harwood
Artwork Conceived and Created by Tony Harwood and Edward Jackson
Throughout the realms of Valon the White Liar Tavern in Broomcoat has a very special reputation for the quality of the ales sold and the tales told. During the cold winter months the landlord brings comfort to his regulars by offering hot mulled brews and spiced pies. With steam rising from their flagons it is customary for patrons to recount their stories...
Late one windy evening a huge Guinalean Bog Orc dressed in an old and tattered riding cape barged through the door of the tavern. In three huge steps he was already standing at the bar.
“A jar av de black stuff” he shouted, despite the close proximity of the landlord, in a voice that sounded to all present like that of an angry Onionist Minister.
The landlord was about to respond that they did not sell that devilish brew here, when he recalled that he had some spare bottles in the cellar - left over from St Patrorc’s Day three years ago. He wasn’t entirely sure it sould still be good, but the stuff was so damned thick and foul in the first place it might even improve with age.
He nodded and fetched the bottles up from the cellar and poured one into a glass for the gargantuan patron.
Thirty minutes and several patrons later when the cream coloured head had settled, the Bog Orc took two huge gulps and declared, in a voice that could be heard the other end of the village, “I'll tell yer a scayle. Gie yer sum Craic if yer 'ill fill me tankard.”
Maybe it was the Bog Orc’s volume, maybe it was his commanding personality or just maybe it was because he was bloody massive, but there were several volunteers to buy his refill. The tavern went silent and the Guinalean recounted his tale...
(Note; The following has been translated into pure Albion as stories told completely in the Guinalean dialect can be hard to follow at times.)
Some years ago a group of Guinalean Bog Orcs were invited (by the ruling of a certain judge after some technically questionable actions) to join the 67th South Mordor, a regiment that already had a reputation so bad that outside the conflict in war-torn Urop, every member would be hung by the Provost Corps from the nearest tree.
This reputation was well founded with acts of outright atrocity and much much worse. However, certain key individuals amongst the Albion Brass found uses for these monsters and during The Mordredian Wars there were many actions, particularly those against the foul Ferach scum, where the Orcs and Bog Orcs of The South Mordor were gainfully employed and well rewarded for slicing off Elven ears and securing bounty.
It is said by some that the Emperor Mordred himself had decreed that this regiment should be wiped out and during a particularly bloody campaign the 67th South Mordor were the sole target of the 2eme Regiment de Ligne at a place called Merde.
On three previous occasions the Ligne had attempted to break the regiment and on three occasions had been repulsed. The honour of all Ferach soldiers was at stake and so early in the morning, through the cold and damp mist, the sound of a lone drummer could be heard. Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump as the Ferach regiment steadily advanced in column.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump and at every beat the ‘pointy-ears’ moved into range of the massed Bessies.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump step by step they progressed.
At last the golden eagle topped regimental colours could be seen. The mist parted and Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump the Ferach column was in range of the South Mordor’s ‘Thick Red Line.’
The first volley was devastating – dozens of Ferach went down, but still the Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump and still the Ferach advance.
Reload. Take aim. Fire! The second volley had a similar effect.
A third volley destroyed any moral that remained in the depleted Ferach Column and with the 67th South Mordor charging into the disorganised rabble it was just a matter of time before the Red Coats of Albion – those ‘heroic’ soldiers of Kyng Gorge III were victorious.
Orc and Bog Orc alike took revenge on the blue coated Ferach and with few exceptions all were brutally killed, their dismembered ears slung on silken braiding and hung around the bloody regimental banner.
One survivor, possibly the only survivor of the whole regiment, was the drummer boy and to glean every piece of humiliation they could from the defeated Elves a cruel sergeant of the South Mordor confiscated his drum. The young drummerboy was distraught – he had witnessed the complete annihilation of his regiment, all of his comrades dead and now his drum had been taken. He cursed the whole regiment with such venom that many were seen to tremble. The very same sergeant used a sharp bayonet and in one slash slit his throat; he was viciously cut down in cold blood for his effrontery and impudence. Up until the last drops of life left his body – the Elf continued his cursing.
When the Elf finally fell silent the general murmur amongst the Orcs was one of relief, the things he had called upon had unsettled even the stoutest soldiers.
Later that night after the revelry of victory had subsided and the now tired and inebriated troops were settling down to sleep off their exertions, there came a familiar sound, echoning
across the camp.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.
Many tired soldiers were soon asleep, but many more could not settle, the Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump was grating on their nerves and raging sore heads.
The guilty sergeant found the Ferach drum and with much swearing and blaspheming destroyed it, trampling it into the ground and ensuring that not even the tiniest scrap remained intact.
Later when the night was at its darkest the Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump began again. Even the most cold-hearted amongst them shivered a little and no one slept well.
The next morning a search was conducted and apart from the shattered remains no sign of a Ferach drum could be found. Some though it a great joke and teased the more superstitious, but the following evening when the same Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump started there were many cold sweats and shredded nerves.
As dawn broke there was yet another search and this time it was decided that the South Mordor’s own drums would be sacrificed. They were dismantled, broken up and then burnt. There were some who thought the drummers curse had been lifted, others who were less sure.
The fourth night, nothing was heard.
The fifth night and nothing again.
On the sixth night as midnight struck, there was a familiar and feared sound, one that many dreaded. Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, this time there were no physical drums to blame, no drums to destroy, no drums to burn, just the sound.
Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump.
Over the next month this state of affairs continued, no pattern could be found, some nights there was silence, and others the drumming could be clearly heard. If it appeared to come from outside the camp – then soldiers were sent to examine the cause, other evenings the sound was within the camp and brothers-in-arms argued, shouted and sometimes fought one another in an attempt to find the twisted trickster.
As time passed Orcsguards came to hear of the phenomena and there was even a Guinalean cleric who attempted an unsuccessful exorcism. The situation was getting serious; there were desertions and derelictions of duty - even murder. Still the Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump continued.
Within six months, the finely honed killing machine that was once know as The 67th South Mordor, a regiment that at its height mustered over eight hundred active soldiers was nothing but a collection of weak willed and terrified individuals reduced to less than fifty soldiers, those fifty husks mostly mad with lack of sleep and distrusting of their comrades.
The curse of a young Drummer was having more effect than the might and decree of the Great Ferach Emperor himself! At this the Guinalean spat onto the floor and looked around, his mouth foaming and his eyes wide with terror, without exception the regular occupants of the White Liar moved back.
“What of the South Mordor now?” was a feeble, whispered question from one brave individual.
“Al' gone. Either ter Sentinel or driven mad an’ sent ter Bedlum; only wan sergeant remains, condemned ter march alone. ’Ever persecuted by dat infernal drummin’ ”.
At this the ridding cape slipped and the red uniform of a sergeant of the South Mordor was seen by the patrons of the White Liar.
Then a faint sound, long off; Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump could be gleaned above the sound of the howling wind. The Guinalean Soldier swallowed the last drops of his thick black brew and turned towards the door. As he left the sound of Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump was louder than ever and no one was brave enough to leave the warmth of the tavern for some considerable time.
The landlord took the remaining bottles of the black ale and smashed them in the fireplace. There was a foul stench as the stout boiled away in the heat of the flames and when the steam subsided, there was no sound other than the wind, rustling through the reeds of the thatched roof.
Many drinkers found the walk home disconcerting that night as they strained their ears to hear anything above the sound of the wind. The curse of a single Ferach Drummerboy helping to sober them up.
Now it's Your Turn...
This article was originally published on Alternative Armies' content portal, Barking Irons, and is reproduced here with permission.