Wing And A Prayer – Kings Of War Short Story – Part Two

18th Jan 2023

Jonny Mann


So now that Jasper is everyones favourite vicious little war doggo, lets read on and see what he and the rest of the characters get up to in part two!


 

The barn was something of a mystery to Rodrick and the rest of his warband. Several days ago they had been instructed that their small group, only two troops of Wild Runners and a regiment of Spearspikes, would be tasked with guarding the barn. They were told never to venture inside and that the contents were a closely guarded secret. A large, tough-looking lock kept the doors firmly shut, as if to remind everyone that it was strictly off limits. 

Unless you were Jasper, of course. Rodrick breathed a sigh of relief as he saw the rabbit squeeze through a small gap in the side of the barn. With the rabbit gone, at least Jasper would leave the barn alone, he thought. However, his relief was only temporary because Jasper began furiously digging at the ground beside the gap. In what seemed like seconds the aralez had dug a hole large enough for him to squeeze through and quickly disappeared after his quarry. 

Rodrick groaned and shot another alarmed look at his comrades. Thankfully the other Wild Runners were still practising their drills and hadn’t noticed the commotion. Seeing his opportunity to restore order, Rodrick crept toward the barn and stopped at the hole. 

“Jasper,” he hissed. Then slightly louder. “Jasper!” 

His desperate pleas were met with a loud crash, which made Rodrick wince. This time he was sure the others must have heard something. He had to do something! Then, without really thinking, he squeezed himself through the gap and was soon inside the forbidden barn. 

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom inside, but eventually he could make out different, odd-looking shapes. The barn seemed much larger inside and when he looked up, he could make out floating objects bobbing against the wooden roof. Every fibre of his being told him he shouldn’t be in here, but curiosity got the better of him and he ventured further. 

Now he could almost see perfectly and to his right he spotted the unmistakable sight of a harvester – the farming tools adapted for halfling warfare. Just behind the harvester were a couple of howitzer guns. Rodrick’s breath caught in his throat: all this time, they had been guarding an armoury. 

He had heard whispers of weapons caches like this. Since war had come to the Shires, it had been decided that the halflings should never be caught on the back foot again. Secret armouries were situated all over the countryside now, just in case the military should ever be called into action. So far though, it appeared this one had remained hidden. 

As if on queue Jasper gave a bark that startled Rodrick from his thoughts. He looked over to see the dog excitedly wagging his tail and pulling at a large blanket that was covering what appeared to be a large unit of shelves. 

“Come here,” whispered Rodrick and patted his legs. Incredibly, the aralez actually listened to him and came bounding over. Unfortunately he also brought the blanket with him. 

In a cloud of dust and spider webs, the cloth fell to the floor and revealed something that made Rodrick catch his breath. Hanging from the shelves were three grenadier outfits. He had read about these incredible flying suits in a pamphlet retelling Cadwallader’s victory over the orcs. With one of these a halfling could fly like a dragon above a battlefield, while raining bombs down on their enemies. With a look of wonder, Rodrick reached out to touch the green and yellow wings of one of the suits. 

“Imagine using one of these,” he thought. 

However, before Rodrick could let his imagination get the better of him, he heard shouts from outside. Scared that someone had seen him go into the barn, he quickly grabbed Jasper by the collar and squeezed them both through the gap where they entered. But when he emerged back into the hazy afternoon sunshine, he was shocked to see his fellow halflings running around and gathering up arms. 

“What’s happening?” he asked a passing Spearspike. 

“Goblins!” shouted the halfling, without stopping to explain. 


Gristle couldn’t quite believe her luck. The moment she had offered to find the stupid grogging flying suit for Groany, she had regretted it. Her tongue would always start wagging before her brain had started working. But after several fruitless moons spent spying on different half-men settlements, one of the scouts had finally spotted a group of them lugging a load of equipment into a barn and, incredibly, it included a bunch of the flying suits. She thanked the Gobs for blessing her with such good fortune. 

Even better, they had spent a few more moons watching the barn and she was delighted to see it was only guarded by a clawful of half-men and their mangy mutts. Whereas she had a full regiment of Sharpsticks, a load of Spitters and she had even called in a favour to get two Mincers in her small warband. Well, if you call threatening to stab another goblin in the guts unless they helped you out a favour, that is. 

Now her fellow greenskins had emerged from the woods and were preparing to charge up the hill and take the barn. She could hear the dogs yelping and barking as the half-men prepared for battle. She snickered to herself as she imagined them trying to take on a Mincer. It wouldn’t be pretty! The Mincers were still hiding in the woods. Waiting for their moment to strike. 

Quickly ramming a stolen elven helm on her head, while trying to ignore the way it painfully squashed her ears against her cheeks, she joined the ranks of the Sharpsticks and prepared to give the order to charge.


Despite the fact he had been praying this would happen for weeks, now that Rodrick found himself about to enter his first real battle, he found he was more than a little nervous and felt sick. His hand trembled slightly around Jasper’s harness. He tried gripping it tighter to stop the shaking but it had little effect. Jasper must have sensed Rodrick’s nervousness too because he was unusually quiet as they ranked up alongside the other Wild Runners. 

“We’re finally seeing some action, eh?” said Dellen as she pulled up next to him. There was an excited glint in her eyes. 

“Aye,” squeaked Rodrick. 

Without a Muster Captain among their ranks, the leader of the Spearspikes was taking command of the situation. He was a grumpy old halfling that claimed he had fought alongside Cadwallader at the battle of Ferchester. Although Rodrick had heard whispers he spent most of the time cowering in a pie shop until the Riftforged Orcs were mostly routed. Now he was marching up and down the lines of Wildrunners and Speakspikes while stroking his moustache. 

“We’ve got nothing to fear from a rag-tag bunch of gobbos!” hollered Arthern. “These puny greenskins are nothing compared to the mighty Riftforged I faced at Ferchester.” 

There were shouts from the gathered halflings, but Dellen shot Rodrick a knowing glance and rolled her eyes…


Check back in on Friday to find out how it all unfolds!