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Author Topic: Jonathan Valtane's Skull River [library]  (Read 919 times)

Offline Airtruck

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  • The Ratty One
Jonathan Valtane's Skull River [library]
« on: July 21, 2007, 05:42:51 AM »
http://www.warhammer-empire.com/library/tales/skull.php


Jonathan Valtane's Skull River

by Van Shipeldorf


Defection. The word seemed incredibly bitter to the lonely captain in the mountains. Men had been tortured and killed for less than what he had done, but he doubted that they had cause like he did. Others defected for treasure, or for a chance at greater power. Jonathan Valtane had defected for the good of the Empire, a true servant through and through, refusing to be brought down by the idiocy of one of his superiors.

The good captain had been serving underneath a particular General Ivan Brackett, a man of famous repute throughout the lands of the Empire as a fair and just commander, one with great political influence in the great cities, Altdorf and Middenheim in particular. Amongst his men, however, his reputation was of a less magnanimous quality. Brackett was known as a coward and a tactical failure, with his captains often narrowly averting disaster by the foolish commander.

One day, Jonathan drove his superior too far. When ordered to pursue Skaven into the ground with a depleted and exhausted regiment on the whim of Brackett, the captain flat out refused, holding his ground stubbornly. The man was adamant, and was soon enough forced to retreat with his small band of spearmen, heading into the mountains.

Was what he had done really so wrong? The question had been on his mind for the past month or so, time was a tricky thing out here. By disobeying the general, he had broken his oath to serve unfailingly, but his men could not help search for the Crown if they were all dead in some damn Skaven trap.

“Captain?” the tentative sound of one of his men reporting in broke Jon’s reverie.
“Report soldier.” he replied, standing slowly, his full plate armor clanking together as he did so, the weight of it on his shoulders less than the burden on his mind.
“We’ve spotted a group of goblins, sir. They’re up ahead, past Skull River. We believe they mean to move into the Border Princes.” said the scout, his eyes staring straight forward as he spoke, not following the captain as he approached.
Jon sighed heavily then, innocent people would die if a force of goblins moved into the Border Princes, more so if it was a scouting party for a potential Waaaaagh! His troubled blue eyes looked into his soldier’s then, before he clapped the man on the shoulder, “You’ve done well. Tell the men that we march as soon as possible, we need to beat those goblins to the bridge.”

The soldier smiled then, a feral grin, before saluting sharply and running off to wake the camp. Dawn was approaching swiftly, they would march when the sun rose.

Redemption. It would feel sweet.

* * * * *

The river ran swift and deep, impassable to any but the most determined infantry or cavalry, and certainly not for anyone with a decent amount of armor. Jon ran a hand through his thick blonde hair as he looked down into the water, it looked strangely peaceful, a contrast to the death to come. They would meet here, and he would hold here against the green skins. His sharp, intelligent eyes stared out over the bridge, it looked sturdy enough to hold them, but they could destroy it if his men began to fail.

“We hold here.” he announced in the deep boom of command, a voice ingrained in all leaders of the battlefield, “We must stop the goblins from crossing into the lands of the Empire.”

Most of his men muttered in agreement, they were still grateful to the captain for keeping them out of the death pit, but one spoke up, “Why should we help them? We’re exiles!”

Captain Valtane only smiled then, “Because we’re here.” he said simply, turning towards the bridge, his eyes once again flicking across the forest behind it, cleared away for a few hundred feet before becoming wild and untamed once more.

One of his men emerged from the woods at a quick run, a pair of arrows buried in the shield strapped to his arm, his other hand wrapped firmly about the shaft of a short spear, the man’s bright uniform sullied and dirty, “My lord! My lord! They come!” he called out from across the river, before an arrow head burst from his throat, a line of blood falling onto the bridge.

“Battle formations!” cried out Jon, unsheathing his greatsword while his men formed up around him, using their shields as cover as a volley of arrows flew through the clear sky towards them, rusty tips dull in the sunlight.

The soldiers of the Empire were quick and disciplined, raising their shields and crouching down, the arrows slamming into the wooden shields, occasionally splintering the wood. One unlucky man has the arrow penetrate through the thickest part of his forearm, screaming as the tip peeked above his muscle.
“Hold!” cried Valtane, an arrow bending and snapping as it smacked into his breastplate. He fell back with the force of the blow, before grinding his feet into the earth at their end of the bridge.

After the volley, the impatient creatures rushed forward, a screaming mob of small, green humanoids. They waved an assortment of weapons, daggers, swords, axes, maces, anything they could scavenge. The average creature was smaller than a man, and weaker, but their numbers were vast compared to the soldiery of the Empire. One hundred brave men stood, five times that was charging their way, waving their weapons and hooting wildly.

Light danced along the edge of the greatsword, a full four feet in length, both of his gauntleted hands wrapped around the hilt, a jade built into the pommel, giving the weapon a savage beauty. As the green horde approached, he dug his feet in, his men doing the same and lowering their spears.

The goblins crashed against the shields of the Empire, men swinging and thrusting their spears wildly into the crowd, the savages’ shoddy weapons pounding against the shield wall.

A strange fire was in Jon’s normally genial blue eyes, a complete seperation from the horror of the battle as he swung his greatsword down, crushing the skull of the nearest goblin, swinging in a broad arc and slicing the midriff of one of the creatures, watching it collapse while trying to hold its intestines in.

A goblin jabbed its rusty serrated blade at his stomach, but the blade simply bent as the goblin looked on in surprise. The captain smiled down at the goblin, shoving his great sword at the beast’s chest. His blade didn’t bend.

He tore the great sword free, the goblin’s thick blood covering the razor edge. Another one of the little creatures tried to attack him from his flank, the man clearly overbalanced by the heavy weight of his weapon. He turned to the creature, his left hand dropping away from the hilt, the back of his gauntleted hand slamming into the goblin’s cheek. The gratifying sound of disintegrating bone greeted his hand, the goblin falling back, clutching his cheek before Valtane whipped the blade around, severing one of the hands it had pressed tight to its face.

The blood turned the bridge slippery, the men of the Empire grinding the heels in as the green skins began to slowly push them back. Valtane watched as one of his men was cut down by a mob of the creatures, their cruel blades hacking into his flesh.

“Forward men! Fight forward!” he cried, his voice cutting over the sounds of the battle. The shield wall lurched forward with renewed vigor, spears cutting into the ranks of the goblins, tips coming away coated in blood.

The captain himself led the charge, at the tip of the advance, a glimmering beacon of shining armor for his men. His blade met one of the creature’s at the collar-bone, exiting just below its hip. The beat appeared a little surprised as half its torso slid off its body. He reversed the blow, catching a mace in the hilt of his sword, twisting it ever so slightly and sending the grobi’s weapon into the waters below them. Jon grinned maliciously, the unfortunate goblin realizing its fate moments before the blade reversed, slitting the tiny humanoid’s throat, a spray of blood coating Jon’s features and breastplate.

The battle continued on, the small warband of the Empire fighting desperately to hold the goblins at bay, pushing them back, thinning the numbers of their enemy. A ripple seemed to pass through the goblin ranks, a few at the back watching the slaughter ahead and turning tail, their black cloaks flapping behind them as they made speed towards the forest.

It was only a matter of time before others of the cowardly race turned to see their brethren running with their tails between their legs. Mobs of goblins began to follow suit, still outnumbering the men of the empire at least three to one.
“Halt men!” cried out Jon, not wanting to pursue into the woods and leave their bottleneck here. He looked at his men, doing a brief mental count. At least half dead in the fight, but they had held.

For now.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2007, 02:08:47 PM by rufus sparkfire »

Offline wissenlander

  • Posts: 7162
  • The original Graf of Brennenburg
Re: Jonathan Valtane's Skull River
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2007, 03:32:58 PM »
I don't know how I missed this.  It's a very good piece Airtruck, I didn't know you had an Empire army.
Me and Wissenlander had babies!

not together.

finding photographic evidense that Wiss smiles is going to be hard...

Offline Probe

  • Posts: 88
Re: Jonathan Valtane's Skull River
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2007, 06:38:10 PM »
Ah, the soldiers of Empire. Too few, often mishandled, grim and always paying with their own blood. And nevertheless faithfull to their oaths.
Nice work! I've enjoyed reading it  :eusa_clap:
Every man lost is another skellie gained...