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Every Dog has its Day
As told by Egil Nine-Wounds, Temple Quartermaster

Well, I was Siggyr’s first Ten Thane, back when he joined the Legion. Did you know that? No, I thought not. Anyway, I was, and we gave him a right good kicking every now and then for being a smart-arse. At least, that’s what I thought at the time – too keen, that boy, I said to myself, too keen. It turns out that he was just being Siggyr, and since it seems to have worked for him, I guess I was wrong.

Anywho… look, pass that beer round, would you? I’m parched. So by the time we’re back in Sartar for Queen Kallyr’s do, back in…. I dunno… I guess two year after the do up in Alda-Chur? What would that make it? Well, if you say so, 1613 it is then. So by the time we’re down in the Quail Hills for Starbrow’s kicking, there’s this old bugger called Broyan Ironballs – on account of a time when he got kicked in a very private place by a mule and didn’t even flinch – and he’s Thane of our file. Yeah, I was, but when I got my left arm hacked off below the elbow I had a bit of rest and recovery time in Notchet, and when I got back Broyan was boss.

So the Legion’s holed up atop some crappy hill that the Storm boys like to prance around, and apart from us there are some shepherds who can’t tell one end of their spears from the other, a bunch of clan warriors boasting about how many Lunars they’re going to kill today, and even more kings arguing over how they’re going to do it. Down there, out in the rain and darkness, are more Lunar cohorts than there are broo in Dorastor, and it is plain to see that the whole thing is a doomed enterprise. Still, we’re used to that, and the Legion boys are doing whatever will pass the time on the dawn before you die. A couple of them are sharpening their swords, yet again, a few are sleeping. I’m sitting around with Broyan and a couple of others playing cards, with my left leg giving me gyp from the rain and damp like it has ever since it met that axe at Grizzly Peak, and Siggyr’s going crazy over this dog he’s picked up somewhere.

Yeah, a dog. Ugly thing, about the size of stunted alynx. Its got a mangy tail and a lame leg, and it keeps whimpering and generally carrying on, and driving me nuts, in particular. Siggyr’s trying to feed it some meat he’s got from somewhere – meat, when the rest of us are on bread and gruel! – cooing and baby-talk and I don’t know what, and this dog is just looking more and more pathetic by the moment.

Yeah, I did! I told him – dogs carry diseases and bring bad luck, and we should kill that thing now or we’ll rue it later. Old tradition that - kill a dog before battle and you scare bad spirits away. Well, Siggyr wasn’t having any of it. He got that voice on – you know the one where he sounds like he’s got a spear-but shoved up his arse? – and he’s saying that all that about dogs and disease is just, and I believe I remember the exact words here, “ignorant backwoods superstition.” This got right under my skin, and my missing ear began to burn like it always does when I’m angry, and I was just about to wallop the little prick when the call came to arms.

So that stopped the buggering about, and we all start rousing ourselves and forming up the battle-line. The shepherds all stand around looking lost, and the clan warriors are jumping up and down a lot – although whether with excitement or because they need to visit the thunderpot, I can’t tell. Illig comes back from the King Moot and doesn’t look too pleased… but when does he? Apparently the kings have decided who’s in charge, but Illig isn't saying anything. So really, it’s the same old story again – the Legion ready to let blood for a bunch of stickpickers and die fighting impossible odds, and the poor boys in the shieldwall don't have a clue what's going on … well, we all know the story.

So we start edging down into the valley, and back in those days there were a few more of the Legion, and boy, it was a glorious sight. Let down slightly, it goes without saying, by the rabble to our side, but we looked good. We can’t see more than about twenty paces, but we’ve been promised a fight and figure that if we keep heading in the same direction we’ll eventually find someone to bonce on the head with our sharp pointy things. Back in those days I used to take the right-most point on the front rank, on account of my right peg-leg. Yeah, it would generally get stuck in the mud, or blood, someone else’s body, so I couldn’t move. And if I couldn’t move right, then the man next to me couldn’t move right, and the Cohort would avoid the rightward crab crawl you get in every shieldwall. Bloody military genius was our Hundred Thane Olaf – crying shame about that runaway pig in Jonstown. Left nothing but a bloody smear.

So as I was saying, I was on the Cohort’s far right, and Siggyr was two men left of me. And I can’t believe it, but he’s got that sodding dog wedged under his tunic! I had only one good eye then, but I could still see it. So I start bawling bloody murder at him, about having a disease-ridden, bad-luck dog in the front rank and tell him to drop the damn thing so I can put my sword through it. Siggyr tells me something you wouldn’t tell a sword-brother, my ear starts burning again, and just then a bunch of javelins come whistling out of nothing and we all have to duck under our shields. One of these spears goes straight through Siggyr’s shield, and pricks the dog in the arse, which breaks free of his arms and goes haring off towards Lunar lines. This cheers us up considerably, as there is now no more dog bringing bad luck to us in the front rank, but Siggyr is calling after it, “Cuddles, here boy! Here boy!”

On the other hand there is now a fair size contingent of Imperials in front of us, and it looks as though they, at least, do know which end of a spear does what. Our lines clash together, and things go unevenly for a while. By the time the spearmen break and run many of our lot are down, and the cohort line has been shattered. Olaf and the standard are over to our left somewhere, and there just about twenty of our lot standing over here, but with Broyan and Oddi down there’s no Ten Thane to lead them - I’ve got a spear through my belly, and I’m too busy breaking the stave to worry about organising others.

So at this point, when, really, things could have gone either way, Siggyr jumps up at the front, waving his sword like a man possessed. He’s got a dirty great cut across his chest and the blood is all but pouring out of him, but he looks damn near ready to rush the Lunars all the way back as far as Saird. He lets out a yell and charges, and all of us run with him. Honestly, the safest place on the battlefield at that point looked to be right behind wherever Siggyr was – I kid you not. We crash into the Lunar reinforcements, and the man is fighting like a hero, death dealing magic, a sword in each hand. With Siggyr at our front we stampede into their line, and we terrify the buggers so much they drop and run. As is natural, we all run after them, but after a short while we realise that Siggyr isn’t with us, so we head back that way to see where he is.

And he’s crouching there, surrounded by the dead reinforcements, rubbing the head of that stupid dog and saying, “Bad dog! You ran away and I had to come and get you! Weren’t you lucky that Uncle Egil and the others were there to help!” The dog is panting and whimpering, and looking not nearly as stupid as the rest of us, who can’t believe that Siggyr just led us into Humakt’s teeth to rescue a bloody dog.

The battle itself was far from a victory, though we had done our part. Siggyr got made Ten Thane for leading that mad charge, but we gave him a damn good kicking afterwards.

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