WAR IN THE HOLDS
“Fulg’ur! Fulg’ur!” Grupp cackled with each blast of the gauntlets. No matter how many times she used them, they never seemed to run out of power. If anything, since finding them, they appeared to have grown more powerful, as though she had awoken a sleeping beast.
“Fulg’ur!” she shouted once more and a Ratkin warrior exploded into a shower of guts and fur. This was almost too easy. Her mind drifted to the recent past.
After finding the gauntlets deep beneath the mountains, Grupp’s life had taken a turn for the chaotic. She had escaped through the holds of the red-eyed dwarfs to a former fort known as Creidd Aran. Here she was surprised to come across a large army of goblins that were amassing among the many tunnels and drinking halls. At first she had felt a keen sense of safety among the multitude of other goblins but she quickly noticed they were eying her – and the gauntlets – with an increasing degree of suspicion. Everywhere she went, she was greeted by hushed whispers and furtive glances. Just as she was considering it might be time to find a different clan, she was approached by a lumbering luggit.
“Boss wants to see you,” rumbled the luggit.
“What if I don’t want to see him?”
“Boss said to kill you if you don’t see him.” More luggits appeared behind the speaker.
Grupp could feel the tingle of the gauntlets and she felt the word forming on her tongue. But, could she take out so many goblins before she was overwhelmed? She eyed the weapons of the luggits cautiously and licked her lips, while she pondered the possibilities.
“Well, good job I want to see him then!” She gave the luggit a sickly smile. Without warning, the luggit reached forward and grabbed Grupp by her cloak. She struggled for a moment before realising it was useless and decided to let herself be carried. Why use up my energy, she thought.
Eventually, after winding their way through numerous tunnels – each packed with greenskins – they arrived in what must have once been the throne room of a dwarf lord. Although clearly once grand, the goblins had started to strip whatever they could find to make weapons or amour. Now the walls were bare and covered with crude drawings of goblins mostly stabbing things… including other goblins. The only piece of furniture remaining in the hall was a bronze throne, which the goblin boss was lounging across.
Grupp had seen numerous biggits or kings in her time, but this one was different. Typically a goblin leader would be heading toward the fat side, as it enjoyed the spoils of the clan’s many raids. But this one was wiry, with well-defined muscles running up his bare arms. A dirty brown eye-patch covered his right eye and he would occasionally scratch it furiously. The luggit unceremoniously threw Grupp at the base of the throne.
“This the one?” asked the biggit and looked down at Grupp.
“Got metal claws,” replied the luggit and stomped off with a shrug. The biggit rolled his eyes.
“That’s what I love about being leader… the superb conversation. Anyway, let’s have a look at you then.” He beckoned to Grupp to stand up. At first she refused but, after seeing the mean stares of the luggits, she slowly got up and dusted off her robes. She noticed the biggit was staring at the gauntlets.
“Do they really make things explode?” He asked.
“Not just explode, they…” Grupp caught herself before she said too much. “How do you know about me?”
“I’ve been hearing about you for a while. And I think you’re just what we need to get rid of those pesky ratties and have this place to ourselves. Get the wiz some food!”
The biggit jumped down from his throne and gave Grupp a big, toothy smile.
“Name’s Gritter and I think we’re going to be the best of mates.”
Since first meeting Gritter, Grupp had lost count of the amount of battles they had fought with the rats and occasionally the red-eyed dwarfs. With each full moon, it seemed they were marching to a another hold to take on a new Ratkin warchief and as they marched westward, the clan grew too. Soon the tunnels and halls of the dwarfs thundered under the feet of the gathered goblins. They swept over any foe like a plague of locusts – taking whatever they could find and adding it to the spoils.
Grupp had to admit that she was impressed by Gritter as a leader. Accompanied by a pack of mawbeasts, he would often lead the charge, slamming into the gathered rats and seeming to revel in the violence. She was equally impressed that the other goblins appeared to show him some respect too and at no point had anyone tried to kill him… at least that she had seen.
As they claimed each victory, they pushed the rats further west. Soon the dwarf holds Camuchel, Derym’s Deep and Duhollt rang to screeching songs of goblins, while the rats turned tail and fled.
Now Grupp watched with glee as the final rats from their latest fight ran into the distance with their tails tucked firmly between their legs. She quickly exploded one more for good measure, before there was a tap on her shoulder.
“Boss wants to see you,” grumbled the same luggit that had found her all those moons ago.
Grupp worked her way through the green press of bodies until she eventually found Gritter rolling around on the floor with some mawpups. He gave one a gentle but firm kick after it clamped its jaws around his arm. When he saw Grupp approaching, he pushed the pups away.
“I’ve been impressed by you, Grupp,” he said, while wagging a finger. “Don’t normally trust a wiz but you’re alright.”
“Thanks,” she replied, although she was slightly confused where this conversation was going.
“And I’m not the only one that’s impressed! Grogger wants to meet you.”
“Grogger? The king to rule them all?” snorted Grupp. “He’s a snozzin’ myth.”
“Not a myth,” replied Gritter.
“Well he must be dead then. All that stuff with the forest was moons and moons ago.”
“Not dead either,” grinned Gritter.
“Why’s he want to see me?”
“No idea, but if my king tells me he wants to see you, then I make sure you see him.”
Grupp stared at Gritter in utter disbelief. This was one of the most confident biggits she had ever seen and he was talking about Grogger as though he knew him, rather than him being some sort of groggin’ legend.
“Where is he then?”
Gritter shot her a slightly mad grin.
“Glimmer,” he whispered.