Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)


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Post Sun Jan 10, 2016 7:54 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

What Happened Outside Astiano
Battle Report, Part Two (Turns 1 and 2)

“They were whipping the draft horses something rotten,” said Aldo. “I could hear the beasts braying. Some moved a bit more quickly but others foundered so the wagons got strung out a bit. The women close by had stopped their screaming, but I could still hear the children crying. Then came the first bang and the room filled with dust. My ears went funny, but I managed to get my eyes to work again and saw one of the hairy monsters was rearing up. I reckon the shot had landed right in front of it, maybe even clipped it.”

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“It didn’t slow down though, and I don’t think the other brutes even noticed.”

“Anyone would notice a cannon shooting at them,” said Fran. “You don’t miss a thing like that. We could hear it from the Via Strogsi.”

Aldo was shaking his head. “You didn’t see the brutes. They had cannons themselves, loads of them. Not on carriages with wheels - they were just carrying them. There were two gangs hefting them. Think about it, if you’re brute enough to carry cannons into battle, d’you think you’d flinch because one fired from hundreds of yards away?”

Fran said nothing. Aldo knew that all the boys had seen ogres before, even in the city: warehouse guards, bodyguards, and performers in the annual spettacolo. They knew full well the feats of strength the brutes were capable of, even the sort of domesticated ogre who lived among men. Boulderguts’ army was made of the real thing, however, as brutal as they get, from the wild east and beyond. They were surely stronger, tougher, meaner and cruel beyond human measure.

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“When the brutes used their cannons it was like thunder rumbling in the distance. I think they killed some of the handgunners behind the wall around the hut, but it was hard to tell which ones were just hiding and which had fallen. The Trantian mob kept marching on, and I thought maybe they’re just going to march away, off to another gate, 'cos they were getting really far away from the wagons. The soldiers on the walls were shouting at them, angry words, so I wasn’t the only one who wondered what they were doing.

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“Then I saw something bright out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look I saw it was coming right at me, a burning ball as big as the sun at midday, and getting bigger. I ducked down as quick as I could to put the stone between me and it, and I still felt the heat wash over my back. It didn’t burn me, 'cos it wasn't really coming at the window - it was aimed at the battlement.”

Tommi was agitated. “That’s when the cannon blew up!”

Aldo shook his head. “No, not then.”

“You just said it was,” insisted Tommi.

“No, I didn’t,” denied Aldo. “I just said there was a ball of fire. It hurt the cannon crew – I know that ‘cos one of them was screaming. But another was shouting, ‘Cover the budge barrel’ and ‘Douse the carriage’. Then the screaming stopped and the voice said, ‘Make her ready’.

"When the smoke had cleared a bit, I looked out the window again. The wagons were slowing down now, the horses stumbling. Some women and old men had fallen and were being dragged up by the others. I could hear a strange chanting from the wall at the side of the chamber, then another voice almost the same from the other side, and it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was the wizards, it had to be. They were conjuring up magic and it made me feel dizzy, but I had the window to hold onto so I watched to see what would happen.

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“When the chanting stopped, at first nothing seemed to happen. Then I saw it. The giant bull monsters, which had moved ahead of the other brutes, were going much slowing, so that the brutes on foot were catching up to them. I knew it was the magic that had done it because the riders on their backs were thrashing the reins and beating at the heads, but the breasts were stumbling as bad as the horses on the wagons; not just the one that had reared up at the roundshot, but all three of them.

“Just when I thought they really were leaving to save themselves, the Trantian mob turned, swinging around to face the enemy. I think they were trying to get at the brutes from the side, maybe to lure them away from the wagons and the womenfolk. Way up ahead the little line of handgunners fired again, but the sound of it was nothing compared to the blast of the brute’s handcannons.

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“It really looked like the wagons had a chance now, if the horses could be kept on their feet and pulling …

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“… but they were so slow it was horrible to watch. When the gun above me went off again it made my head feel like bursting and it started my ears a-ringing. I had to rub my eyes hard to make them work this time, and now I saw one of the monstrous-bulls on the ground.”

Vitty was nodding. “Yes, yes! They killed it. I saw its corpse from the wall after the battle when I took wine up to the men on the wall, umpteen crows a-feasting on it.”

“It was the cannon," agreed Aldo. "I thought the crew would start cheering but I couldn’t hear a thing. Maybe they did cheer? And maybe they couldn’t even hear it themselves? I went back to watching and I saw the handgunners running away. They weren’t cowards, no way – they'd been up closer than anyone else – they just knew staying there was stupid.

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“But they’d left it too late ‘cos a bunch of brutes in the middle of the line, the closest to them, were running too and they came on so much faster than the men. When the brutes caught up with them they just ran right on, right over them, the handgunners disappearing underneath. Then the brutes stopped, like they wanted to take a breath or two and have a look around.

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“Those ones looked meaner than all the others. They had the biggest weapons, swords as big as the sails on a windmill, and a hammer that looked like it could smash the city walls down.”

“Could it?” asked Vitty, tears welling in his eyes.

Aldo expected to hear Tommi or Fran laugh but they didn’t. They were looking at him just as intently as Vitty.

“I dunno," said Aldo. "Maybe. But the brute carrying it would get stuck with hundred bolts if he tried.” This seemed to reassure Vitty somewhat. “The rest of brutes were someway behind this front lot now, all bunched up, getting in each other’s way.

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“The Trantian mob were now the closest to the brutes. They didn’t charge though, they just stood there, waving their pitchforks and scythes about. They didn’t have a flag to wave; they didn’t have drums to beat; but they were doing their best to look like they meant business. They had to be brave men, ‘cos there were four brutes in front of them carrying those cannon barrels …

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“… and they hadn't fired them yet!”

…………………………………………
Game Notes (end of turn 2):

When the Pavonan player whipped the draught horses, I made up a quick D6 chart favouring an increase in speed but with the possibility of hurting the horses too much. Two wagons went 2” faster, one went 1” slower. I had warned the player that next turn there would be another chart to reflect the consequences of this potentially cruel treatment, and that if the whipping continued there would be an even more potentially harmful chart. When the whipping stopped second turn, the player nevertheless rolled badly for all three wagons and they moved 2” instead of 4”. Overall, he had gained nothing, in fact one had fallen behind where it would otherwise have been.

In turn one, when the Firebelly ogre cast his fireball spell at the cannon, he miscast and went down to level one, losing the spell in question. (This was a sign of things to come.)

In turn two I got really excited when the Mournfang unit failed its first panic test, but it passed its second test (being 12” from the army standard) and the drama was not to be.
Last edited by Padre on Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:35 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

What Happened Outside Astiano
Battle Report, Part Three (Turns 3-6)

“The Trantian mob now went straight towards the brutes with the cannons. Not running, just walking. That big fella was shouting but he was too far away for me to know what he was saying, even if my ears hadn’t been ringing so bad. They kept together, packed tight, and there were so many of them I thought maybe they could beat the brutes.

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“The women were close to the gate now - a few more steps and they’d be through. Some soldiers on the wall were shouting, ‘Hurry up,’ and stuff like that. I wondered if there was a prayer I could say to help them, but all I could think of was my Morrite prayers and it didn’t seem right praying for their souls like they were about to die. Then I heard a clackety sound - the Pavonans below the window were cranking the weird engine. One of the crew poured powder into a funnel and another blew ashes off a matchcord on a linstock. They were going to shoot it.

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“I wondered if it would be louder than the cannon, what with all them barrels, but it was outside not overhead, and besides my ears were already ringing so bad I doubted it could hurt them much more. The wagoneers were whipping more cruelly than ever– there was blood on the horses’ hides.

“Another boom sent my head a-spinning again. When I looked out to see if it was the engine below there was no smoke and the crew were hopping about, agitated. I think it was broken, ‘cos they hefted it up and dragged it towards the gate, getting right in the women’s way. The boom must’ve come from the cannon on top, but when I looked I couldn’t see where their shot had gone.

“The ogres were really close now …

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“… and the ones near the Trantian mob laid into them. It was horrible. I saw two men hurled through the air like nothing more than dolls - they hit the ground and didn’t move after that. One of the cannons went off right in their midst, which send more spinning out the back, and others staggering out like drunk men. None of the brutes fell, and in a moment the Trantians were running. The brutes went after them, their blood up. If it weren’t for their heavy iron burdens they would’ve caught them and killed more, but the Trantians outran them back towards the wall.

“The hairy bull monsters were close too. They had umpteen horns on their heads and their mouths looked like the gargoyles on the Church of Santo Anredo the Furtive. If my ears had been working I bet I could have heard them snorting. The brutes on their backs were riding so high I wondered what tricks they used to get up there.”

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“Then it happened,” said Aldo, before going silent. He covered his face with his hands, and even though that meant they could not see it, the other boys knew he was scrunching it up.

Vitty put his hand on Aldo’s shoulder. “It’s alright,” he said. “You don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to.”

“No,” said Tommi. “He does have to tell us. He said he would.”

Aldo wasn’t really listening to the boys, but he did notice they had stopped talking. He steeled himself and somehow the words came out.

“There was smoke coming up from under the window. I thought maybe the weird engine was on fire, but I was wrong. The smoke was coming from the crowd of Trantian women and children. It was as if someone had dug a fire pit all around them, set it alight and then dumped damp straw on it to make thick, white, heavy smoke. They stopped, wide eyed, like they didn’t know what to do. It all happened fast, I know that now, but it felt horribly drawn out. Sparks flickered in the smoke, then changed into flashing veins.

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“I think the soldiers on the walls were shouting again, because some of the children looked up. One of them saw me. He didn’t look frightened, just bewildered, and he waved at me! Before I could wave back the smoke itself burst into flames, becoming a wall of fire. Even at the window it felt like a torch being held a foot from my face, but I had to keep looking. If I’d been down on the ground it would have been bad enough, knowing the women were inside that burning wall. Being above them, I could see them all. A few of those on the outside began screaming, batting and patting at the flames on their skirts and cloaks, or on other people’s clothes, and this made the others push inwards, forcing themselves backwards even though some fell underneath their feet. They were crammed together, trying to push past each other. It took them a moment for them to realise the fire was all around, not just on one side.

“Next to them, the Pavonan gunners pulling the engine just carried on. They were right beside the horror, yet just kept dragging their burden, even when some of the women tried to run through the flames and came out ablaze, collapsing at the soldiers’ feet. Then the gun disappeared under the window, through the outer gate, so I went over to the grate on the murder hole and looked down to see it below. I could hear the sounds coming up through the hole in the stone, even with my bad ears. Someone shouted, ‘It’s in!’ and then I heard the clang of the outer gates shutting.” (Aldo was shaking his head as he spoke.) “I couldn’t get my head around it. The wagons were still outside, the women and children, and so close. I thought it had to be some clever trick. But it wasn’t, and I knew it because the walls went quiet, and the men down below the hole stopped moving altogether. None of the soldiers were shouting any more. They’d closed the gates and weren’t planning on opening them again.”

Fran’s face screwed into an angry frown. “So, they decided to save the gun and not the people?”

Aldo nodded. “The Trantians were frantic, umpteen were already trampled, then they lurched, all of a sudden, to one side, which turned into a running leap through the fire and out the other side, where they fell, writhing and burning. Only two got past the mess of dying folk, a small boy and a man with his arm in a sling. I don’t know why they were so lucky.

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“Outside the brutes had caught up with the wagons.

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“They swatted the wagoners aside and even though the cannon sent a ball right into them and the crossbowmen on the walls showered bolts down, felling three of them, they just turned the wagons around and began lugging them away, as if they cared nothing for the shooting. I saw one who was dragging a dead wagoner by the leg turn around to come back and grab one of the dead women by the hair. He dragged them both away, the bodies jolting along behind him, the woman smoking, with three bolts hanging from his back and another in his belly.

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“The smell was bad, like burning hair, and then there was another stink like brimstone, and flames curled through the window from above. A burning man fell right past, without a sound. I knew something bad was happening, and I wanted to get out the tower, but as soon as I went towards the steps there was a massive boom, maybe more than one, and the whole tower shook, and it knocked me to the floor. I don’t know how long I was down, but when I got back up I went to over the window – I’m not sure I knew what I was doing. It was like a dream. I couldn’t hear a thing by then, but I could see. Outside the brutes were moving away, but one of them stopped and turned. He was covered in paint, or tattoos, and he had some sort of mask on his face. He was dancing, his arms up in the air, and then he suddenly jerked to one side and … disappeared! He was gone, like he had jumped through a door. But there was no door.”

The other boys were all staring intently at Aldo. Vitty’s mouth was hanging open, while Tommi had has hands locked behind his head like he was holding it in place. Talking about it brought back the crazy feeling Aldo had felt at the time, and he now had to stifle a giddy sort of sob. He did not entirely succeed.

“That’s when I went up to see what had happened to the cannon. Like I said, it was like a dream and everything felt unreal. The cannon was there, all burned, and the crew were there, still burning, and the smell was worse than ever. So, I said sorry, and went back down again. Back at the window I could see that the brutes who weren’t stealing the Trantian wagons were standing their ground, shooting handgun sized pistols and their carriage-less cannons at the walls.

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“Shots pinged at the stone around the window time and again. The flecks of stone kept stinging me.” As he spoke Vitty reached out at touched one of the scratches upon his cheek. Aldo didn’t notice.

“They shot again and again,” he continued, “and the men on the walls sent crossbow bolts raining back at them. Twice I saw flaming balls streak out from the wall and splash into the brutes.

“And then all of a sudden the brutes just upped and left. I couldn’t hear what was going on on the walls but then one of the soldiers appeared at the door. He looked right at me, so I jumped over to the stairs and ran down.”

“Did he chase you?” asked Vitty.

“No. He was too busy,” said Aldo.

“What’ya mean, ‘busy’?”

“Spewing his guts up!” answered Aldo.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Game Notes:
Three times Pit of Shades was cast on the ogre Tyrant and his unit. Twice it was dispelled but once it was successful. If the player (Jamie) had failed his test his own player character (Razger Boulderguts himself) would have been lost. The death of a player’s own PC always causes difficulties in my campaigns, in that the player then usually ends up getting a new character, who isn’t necessarily in charge, or, if they are, has a bunch of problems to contend with as a consequence of the previous character dying. The exact nature of the problems and difficulties to overcome depends on the circumstances and all sorts. (NB: The boy Aldo, our NPC eyewitness in the above story, didn’t notice the failed Pit of Shade spells (of course), but nor did he notice the successful one either – when that one occurred he was going up the steps to see what had happened to the cannon up top.)

The description of the burning crowd of Trantian women was my ‘take’ on the fulminating flame cage spell the firebelly ogre wizard was using. I know the 8th ed. book describes rods of fire shooting out and forming a cage, but (and I do know it is daft to say this) that sounded silly to me! So, I turned it into a wreath of smoke manifesting around the unit which then transformed into fire – which just happened to fit the photo of the cotton wool we used to represent the spell on the tabletop.

And yes, it does sound very cruel of the Pavonans to close the gate on the Trantian civilians and let all that horrible stuff happen to them but … the player (Matt) had his competition wargame campaign head on, filled with considerations of points and strategies etc. He always looks at the game this way, which is why his game-world alter ego seems aloof and heartless, which is why I describe him as aloof and heartless. The Trantian women were worth 0.5 Supply Points to him, a value which could be turned into 100 pts of troops. BUT, the helblaster was worth more. So when it misfired he cut his losses and had it dragged in. Then he closed the gate to ensure that there was no way this game would turn into an invasion into the city by the ogres. If they got in that would likely mean he lost the whole city plus all his forces there, and right now.

You might wonder why he played things in such a way that the wagons and men didn’t even have much of a chance to get in. He chose to place virtually all his fighting strength inside the walls (bar the handgunners, technically a detachment but house-ruled as allowed to be out at the hut, and the Trantian mob). The Trantian mob, however, cost him nothing – they weren’t part of his forces, and they weren’t carrying any Supply Points (unlike the crowd of women), and he couldn’t use them as soldiers at any other time, so he used them disposably. The wagons were worth 1.5 Supply Points altogether, but if he tried to protect them by having troops outside the walls the potential losses to his own forces would be much more expensive. Why save 2 Supply Points of loot (etc) from Trantio by losing more than 2 Supply Points worth of troops?

I think the following summary information should shed some light on who came out of this squabble best.

After calculating recovery of troops according to the campaign rules the Pavonan player had lost their 2 Supply Points (worth 400 points of troops) as well as 230 points of troops. So, 630 points down on the start of the game. The ogres had gained 1.5 Supply Points (worth 300 points of troops) but had lost about 500 points doing so (including their Firebelly wizard and one of their Mournfangs). So they were technically 200 points down on the start of the game.

BUT the ogres are a long way from home, and they cannot turn the 1.5 Supply Points into reinforcements unless it is at one of their settlements. They can consume it as ‘upkeep’ (a game mechanic to keep troops existing supplied in the field) but their field strength is effectively down by 500 points, whereas the Pavonan player managed to save the bulk of his Trantian garrison soldiers (crossbow, two wizards, helblaster) and still has the Astianan pike militia. He also still has Astiano.

Who now gains the upper hand really does depend on what happens next, and upon the proximity of reinforcements and relief, as well as other strategic considerations. Razger Boulderguts’ force has been noticeably weakened, and his mercenaries ‘Mangler’s Band’ whereabouts are unknown (well, to everyone else, possibly not to him, and definitely not to me, the GM). Whereas if you don’t count the loss of Trantio (which was possibly un-saveable) the Pavonans have lost only a cannon, 6 handgunners and 6 crossbowmen, and the first two of those were part of a standing force and so could not have served in a field army.

So, tactically, sacrificing the wagons and women while chipping at the ogres’ fighting strength could have been a sensible move. However, Matt is going to have to employ considerable political and diplomatic savvy if he doesn’t want the Pavonans to get a reputation for being cruel and heartless. I suppose he is lucky that his own player character, Duke Guidobaldo, was not present. Then again, it is possible he doesn’t care about gaining such a reputation – fear can be a useful strategic weapon too!
Last edited by Padre on Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sun Feb 07, 2016 10:00 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Great scenario, it made for a very tense game and a heartbreaking story. I'm looking forward to the next chapter!
My Oldhammer blog: The Lost and the Damned
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Post Sun Feb 07, 2016 11:33 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Thanks for the comment Subedai. I am currently working on the next story (painting, scenery, photos, writing, re-writing) which will be in two parts. We've already played the assault on Astiano, but I won't be turning that one into a report mainly because I'd just written a long report about the same place and the same forces. I took a couple of photos which I'll probably use in the end of season report. I must move the campaign on some more asap, to work out where and what the next game will be but busy RL has me in its grip right now. I paint/write in 20-30 minute blasts, about once every second day!! I think I'll get more done from next week on. Some of the players are busier even than me, One likes to meet in the pub to discuss his orders etc, another hates e-mails and so discusses his actions etc over the phone. But arranging a meet up or a phonecall can be hard. Another player travels all around the world for his job and so is often unavailable. And nearly all have families and kids! Still, we knew what we were doing. The campaign isn't fast, but it won't stop.
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Post Thu Feb 11, 2016 7:43 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Morr Divided
Near to Viadaza
Autumn 2402

Biagino had not at first thought it unusual that a fellow clergyman should wish to speak with him in private, but when he discovered it was to be a secret rendezvous with a Pavonan priest unknown to him, at the ancient ruins beside Lago di Scandarro, that struck him as odd. The young messenger carrying the invitation only further stirred his suspicions. Although the lad had looked like a gangly novitiate, barely able to stand still for more than a moment, he was tonsured and wore a cassock, and thus must at least have made his temporary vows. Perhaps, he thought, the purportedly schismatic Pavonan church had less strict requirements concerning the age at which brotherhood could be bestowed? Indeed, during the Trantian Sagranalian uprising (several decades previously) there had been a veritable army of boy-novitiates, and Biagino had heard it said on several occasions that the Pavonan schism was an off-shoot of old Father Sagrannalo’s theology, although of a kind that fortuitously permitted the noble and rich to remain in power.

Was he being drawn into some radical, Pavonan design?

Of course, he let none of this dissuade him. Considering all he had experienced, to now shy away from merely speaking with a fellow clergyman, even in secret, seemed ridiculous. If the priest had bad intentions, then it was best that Biagino learned of it; and if the man proved to be a true servant of Morr, then that too required his attention. Either way, he must play along.

It was late afternoon when Biagino approached the tumbledown temple. All was calm, the lake waters adding to the peacefulness. Were he still a boy the chance to sit by the water’s edge and skim stones would have been irresistible. The only urge that vaguely tugged at him now was to take advantage of the quiet, to lie down, to sleep. That would mean dreaming, however, which for him was not at all restful, for in sleep his mind ran fast and deep into realms removed in both time and place, there to reveal horrors. The urge to rest was a remnant of his youth, and no longer an activity his to enjoy.

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There were four men waiting. The priest who had invited him, Father Claudio, was immediately obvious: a large man of many chins, clothed in a grey, course, woollen cassock, yet so well fed that he was likely to be a priest of some authority, standing ahead of the others and elevated a little by the lie of the ground. There was also the boy-brother Biagino had already met, and the others were either lay-brothers, flagellant-dedicates, or some Pavonan admixture of the two.

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The boy-brother carried an axe, more tool than weapon, but held in such a way that it was clearly intended as the latter. One of the dedicates had a viciously barbed mace, and a lit torch in his other hand. It was not yet dark, and Biagino struggled to guess why it was lit. (Had they made their way here through some underground tunnel? Were they intending to burn something, or scare wild animals away? Neither theory seemed likely.) The other dedicate lurched drunkenly, his arm extended as if to steady himself against some unseen support. It occurred to Biagino that the man’s condition might be due to over-exuberance in his self-administered punishments – a common cause of injury (or madness) in flagellants.

Father Claudio had apparently been engaged in prayer as Biagino arrived, and now gestured the conclusion of his prayers by bringing his hands together.

“Good day to you, Brother Biagino,” he said. “Holiest Morr protect and guide you and yours. Are you alone?”

“There’s just me, brother,” Biagino answered cheerfully. “Why, were you expecting others?”

Father Claudio simply smiled, shaking his head so that his jowls wobbled. “You have the ear of the arch-lector, yes?”

Biagino had expected this, just not so soon. Ever since the raising of the Viadazan crusade army he had received appeals, requests and entreaties of all varieties, to be passed on to those in power, whether that be military, secular or clerical. It was rare that petitioners were so abrupt, however. He chose not to answer and instead asked, “You’ve come from Trantio?”

“Sadly, yes, we have,” said Father Claudio. “A terrible thing, the fall of such a great city to plundering brutes. It greatly shames Tilea that such can happen, yes.”

Biagino wanted to ask, ‘Was it worse than when the city fell to you Pavonans?’. Instead he said, “There are wicked foes all about. This is not an easy time for Tilea. Yet Khurnag’s Waagh has been defeated in the south, and the vampires in the north now face our holy army, having already lost a battle. If the princes in between would stop squabbling amongst themselves and deal with this Razger Boulderguts, then all would be put right again.”

“Squabbling? Ah, hasn’t it always been thus - the way of things in Tilea, yes? The goddess would diminish to nothing if it were not so. Yet it is one thing for Tileans to wrestle over matters of honour and revenge; another thing entirely for orc, vampire and ogre to loot, burn and murder. Our Duke Guidobaldo knows full well when it is time to put aside territorial disputes and slights against his family and his people, and instead make a stand against evil.”

The duke certainly took his time to come to this realisation, thought Biagino. “It is a great shame that the realm of Trantio had to fall,” he said. “Not once but twice, and the second time to be left abandoned and ruined. Where have its people gone?”

Father Claudio gave no indication that he recognised any implied criticism. “Those who did not perish fled – some south to Astiano, some west to Remas, and some – as you can see – north to Viadaza.”

“Come to join our holy war against the undead?”

“Come to ask the arch-lector to recognise the war is now made larger, and that he cannot leave central Tilea to its fate while he completes his vow to destroy the vampires in the north. To do so would be folly, yes, for there would be no home for his victorious holy army to return to, nothing left of what they are trying to defend.”

“So you want me to ask the arch-lector to commit forces to fight against the ogres?”

“He must. Not to do so would be folly.”

Biagino began to wonder whether Father Claudio was working entirely on his own initiative, as his words and the Duke’s actions did not sit well together. “But the duke himself has ordered that his son and the Pavonans force he commands continue in the service of the holy army of Morr.”

“As is only proper,” replied Father Claudio, “for Duke Guidobaldo is Morr’s truest servant, and his son has made a holy vow. The arch-lector has other forces, however: his garrison at Remas, a whole army of mercenary Arabyans already bound to his service, and plenty more mercenaries available for employment. My lord will do all he can to defeat Razger, that goes without saying, yes, but if his strength should prove insufficient it is not only Trantio and Pavona that will suffer. Boulderguts cannot be ignored by Remas, nor can the fight against him be delayed, whether that be until the war in the north is won, or until Razger is before the walls of Remas.”

“The arch-lector is guided by holy Morr,” said Biagino, “divinely inspired to know when and how best to act ...”

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“… Yet you are right, he cannot know the desires of Tilean princes unless he is made aware of them. Holy Morr concerns himself with the fight against the undead, guiding us securely to his garden so that we may rest undisturbed for all eternity. To him it matters not when our end comes, only that we do not succumb to evil after our death. We, his priests, must also concern ourselves with the living, for we ourselves are living and cannot do otherwise. Yet it is not right to hasten our own end, for Morr wishes to take us when he is ready, not when the servants of foul gods’ desire our deaths.”

Father Claudio chortled. “I thank you for your sermon, brother, but I too am cognizant of the church’s teachings.”

The torch bearer raised his arm a little causing the flame to sputter audibly. His eyes were glaring, sunk deep into his face like that of a starving man, yet his bare arms revealed muscles a-plenty.

“When Morr tests us,” declared the man in a Trantian accent, “it is no easy thing. He doesn’t play with us, tickle us, tease us, like a loving mother would her infant child. He teaches us through suffering. We become strong through those trials, and so ready to thwart any necromantic curse upon our death. The undead are the enemy, Razger’s ogres are the test. To fight both is not easy because to serve Morr is not easy.”

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Biagino now knew for certain the man was a flagellant-dedicate, for his words contained the mantra of such creatures. Besides, only someone filled with an agonising commitment to Morr would fail to baulk at interrupting the conversation of two senior priests. He was probably a captain amongst the flagellants.

“My companion Brizzio knows the truth of it,” said Father Claudio. “It is scarred into his flesh. We must indeed fight both undead and ogres. If we fail against the ogres then Tilea is burned, the dead are unguarded, and the vampires will work their evil more easily, raising wicked legion after legion to serve them. The fall of Trantio is most assuredly a sign of Morr’s displeasure. It is clear now that our lord’s removal of the tyrant prince was not punishment enough for the people of Trantio, and that Morr saw fit to allow the city to fall completely, despite our worthy attempts to cleanse it. All Tileans must work together to prove to Morr that they are indeed deserving of his love. We cannot rely on Morr's promises without obeying his commands, nor can we expect to enter his garden without accepting his wrath. You must surely recognise, yes, that Morr is not merely the king of gods but the god of gods? If the lesser gods think to test us, how much moreso the god of gods?”

Biagino looked at each of them. One dedicate with his crazed expression, the other reeling unsteadily; the boy-priest hopping from foot to foot as if upon a hot griddle, and Father Claudio staring down at him like a disapproving teacher. These were indeed disciples of Pavonan schism, Claudio had openly admitted it. They were strange in their belief as well as their ways. Of course, he wasn’t going to tell them this. Not when he was here alone, unarmed apart from his hidden stiletto.

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“Your request would be taken more seriously if presented formally and with proof of Duke Guidobaldo’s agreement,” Biagino advised. And if you and your companions were not schismatic fools, he thought.

Father Claudio nodded. “That can be done, yes,” he said. “I shall speak with Lord Silvano for he knows his father’s wishes. If he knew also that the arch-lector was likely to listen, then he himself would present our case.”

Biagino now wondered who it was had most likely sent these men to speak to him. The young Lord Silvano had not shown his face at the army’s councils since the trial of his men for their ill-disciplined attack against the Campogrottan ogres. It had been supposed that he was wracked with indecision concerning whether to leave and return southwards or stay with the holy army of Morr. Perhaps instead it had been the youthful embarrassment at having to admit that he had lost control of his troops, while that they had lured him away so that they could do what they desired? Mind you, knowing the boy’s family, it might instead be that he was annoyed at himself for not having given the order for the assassinations. And if none of these, then it could be a matter of pride – the need to know his request will be taken seriously rather than risk being shamed by a brusque refusal. Whatever the truth, it seemed likely these men had been tasked with obtaining an invitation from the arch-lector to attend upon him, thus saving the boy’s face, and allowing him to present his father’s wishes.

Taking leave of the party, Biagino returned the way he had come. He decided that Lord Silvano’s inexperience must be to blame for the bizarre and round-about method employed to gain an audience with the arch-lector, if indeed that is what it was. It also occurred to him that the arch-lector, the very definition of experience, should perhaps have recognised the need to reassure Silvano that his presence was still desired at the council table. Once he began to ponder the request to assist the fight against the ogres, however, any clarity he was feeling slipped away to be replaced with a heady concoction of doubts, fears and frustrations, riddled with images from half-remembered, and less than half-comprehended, dreams. Was this the time, as Tilea faced doom at the hands of vampires and ogres, to pander to schismatics? Could this be a gangrenous rot growing at the core of the Tilean church of Morr? Was this the beginning of the end of the joint-rule of the lawful gods in Tilea?
Last edited by Padre on Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Thu Feb 18, 2016 5:52 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Capitano di Ventura
Estalia, east of Solsona, at the western mouth of the Tramoto Pass

Ottaviano found himself pleased and thankful to be wearing the Compagnia’s livery once more. He could see Baccio was experiencing a similar satisfaction. The two of them now had a purpose beyond mere survival, a chance to prosper in the security afforded by an army of comrades. The wine was good too.

Their journey from Tilea had not been easy, nor pleasant, and their first weeks in Estalia were a time of hunger and doubt. When they finally found the Compagnia del Sole they cursed their ill-luck, for had they taken the Tramoto Pass instead of the sea route to Almagora they would have walked straight into their comrades’ arms as soon as they entered Estalia. But they were so happy to have arrived, to be made so welcome, that they put their troubles behind them.

Having delivered the letter they carried, and briefly sworn themselves into Capitano Bruno Mazallini’s service, the pair of them were permitted to sleep long enough to take the edge off the pain in their aching legs. Upon waking they were summoned to an examination by the capitano and his marshal Luigi Esposito. It was an unusually warm afternoon for autumn, so the meeting took place at an open-air table at the edge of the camp, with the foothills of the Abasko Mountains looming in the distance.

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The capitano di ventura had spent the morning hawking, and was still fussing over his bird when they presented themselves. With a simple gesture and the word ‘Please’ he invited Ottaviano and Baccio to partake of the wine and fruit on the table. Serving themselves they drank deeply of the sweet, spiced Borgas, then Ottaviano noticed Baccio staring at the banner mounted behind the capitano - the Leon de Oro of Almagora. Technically the Compagnia were still in Almagora’s employ, having dealt with the last of the rebellious senors in Solsona, and now entering the last three weeks of the additional ‘ad beneplacitum’ term of their service. Ottaviano decided it was very unlikely that the Compagnia would, or even could, be ordered upon some further enterprise, which was probably why, having pursued the remnant rebels along the Tobaro road towards the Tramoto Pass, they had halted. From here they could make a relatively quick return to Tilea as soon as it was honourable, and had indeed already sent chancellors to secure transport from Tobaro eastwards across the Tilean sea.

“We read your letter,” said the capitano, still admiring the hawk. “Did you know of its contents?”

“We knew only what we were told it contained,” answered Ottaviano. The letter had been sealed with a particularly stubborn wax of dwarven making, and although Baccio had picked at it upon several occasions, Ottaviano had managed to stop him before he broke it.

“And you were told what?” asked the capitano, finally turning to look at the two of them, balling his fists to lean on the table.

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“A dwarf called Boldshin gave it to us in Remas, after he had spoken with us at some length. It was plain he wanted to ensure we were what we said we were and that we were going where we said we were going. He claimed to served Tilean dwarven interests and that the letter was an offer of contract, well paid and well worth consideration.”

“He didn’t lie,” said the capitano. “It seems when you stir up some dwarfen bankers and miners, then add a very wealthy Bretonnian baron, you get a very tempting dish indeed.” He turned to address Baccio directly. “Tell me more about this Boldshin.”

The hawk suddenly squawked, almost as if the name meant something to him. The capitano turned to shush the bird. It settled quickly, so he settled his eyes on Baccio.

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“Erm … a dwarf’s a dwarf,” said Baccio hesitantly. “Long beard – very long – brownish. He didn’t look old, not for a dwarf anyway. Had gold on his fingers and a mean looking guard with him. Talkative, with a Tilean accent. Not a mountain dwarf, but moneylender I reckon.”

“If you weren’t liveried, then how did he know you were Compagnia men?” asked the capitano.

“I can’t say for sure,” Baccio answered. “Well, we did tell him, but that was after he’d spoken with us for some time. Maybe he was talking to everyone at the docks, until he found what he wanted with us?”

The Capitano frowned. “He told everyone he was trying to get a letter to us?”

Ottaviano shook his head and jumped in before Baccio could answer. “No, capitano, I don’t think so. We weren’t keeping it secret that we were Compagnia men, not in Remas. He most likely just asked around and got pointed our way.”

“We heard a story,” said Marshal Luigi, “that the Compagnia were blamed for the death of a high ranking Reman priest. How come the Remans didn’t set upon you?”

“I don’t think the Remans believe that story,” said Ottaviano. “It was put about by Pavonans, giving them a reason to hunt down and kill as many of us as they could.

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“Most Remans think the Pavonan duke makes up reasons to justify his actions; that the truth has little to do with it.”

“The Pavonans are not to be trusted,” Baccio chipped in. “Everyone knows they are liars.”

A muttered agreement came from the little knot of men standing nearby: a guard, a drummer and a sergeant. The capitano glanced at them and they fell silent.

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“It seems we must tread carefully then,” the capitano declared. “Especially considering Duke Guidobaldo might well be our next employer.” He let that notion sink in for a moment, before explaining, “Apparently, he has invited other city states to join with him to hire us.”

Ottaviano had neither known nor expected this - he and Baccio had not exactly been moving in the same high circles as the Estalian Compagnia’s chancellors. But it made some sense.

“I did hear that Renzelli’s Compagnia men are already in Duke Guidobaldo’s service,” he said. “They weren’t at the Battle of the Princes, being garrisoned at Trantio. Despite the Pavonan’s hatred of the Compagnia, wily old Renzelli must have convinced them that he could be trusted, and that two companies of mercenary crossbows would be of good use.”

“We’d heard that too” said the marshall, his armour clattering as he shifted his stance. “Which was why we took the stories about the Pavonan hatred with a pinch of salt.”

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“With respect, Marshal,” said Ottaviano, “Renzelli’s hiring was most likely a matter of simple pragmatism on both parties’ parts. Duke Guidobaldo needed a garrison for his newly conquered city, and Renzelli needed to live.”

Baccio sniffed loudly. Staring at his cup he said, “There is no doubt about what the Pavonans did. After the Battle of the Princes they hunted our boys down with deadly purpose in mind. Ottaviano and I were lucky, but many weren’t. I saw Ruggero’s head mounted on a stake like a common criminal. He was a soldier’s soldier.

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“A lot of men died who did not need nor deserve to die. And as for our boys killing a Reman priest, that’s a lie. I said it then and I say it now, it makes no sense. If they wanted to rob him then they’d knock him down and tie him up. No-one kills a Morrite priest before his time. It’s a double insult against Morr.”

“If it was a lie,” declared the marshal, “then they chose the wrong people to lie about.”

“Let’s not make threats until we know what is best for us,” ordered the capitano. “Remember that General Fortebraccio did not command us, nor did we owe him any allegiance. Even before we parted he was not our commander. The simple truth is that he went his way and we went ours and the Compagnia was divided. All we shared was our past, and the name we went by. I mean no offence to you two gentlemen, for I know you played no part in the bitterness that divided the company, but Fortebraccio’s men were not our brothers-in-arms and it is not to be presumed that we should want vengeance for what was done to them.”

A silence fell over the company. No-one was going to argue. They were all mercenaries, not retinue men. They did not fight for vengeance or honour, but for pay and plunder.

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Last edited by Padre on Sat Sep 23, 2017 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sat May 14, 2016 7:53 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

General Report, End of Season 7 (Autumn 2402) Part One

Holier Than Thou
The City of Viadaza: Outside

The bulk of Gedik Mamidous’ mercenaries, the ‘Sons of the Desert’, had already marched by, an exotic collection of long-robed spearmen, black-clad swordsmen carrying curved blades and camel riders. Although few of those watching had ever before seen such far-southern warriors, the arabyans had taken so long to cross the river that their arrival was not unexpected. Many a campfire joke had revolved around the fact that this desert army had been brought to a halt so effectively by a river.

“An arab found himself by a river. Seeing a fellow countryman upon the other side he shouted, ‘How do I get to the other side?’ His countryman looked puzzled, and answered, ‘You are on the other side!”

“Why did an arabyan sleep for a month beside a river? To get to the other side.”

After weeks of delay while the few mouldering vessels remaining in the city docks were hastily repaired, there were finally boats enough to transport Mamidous’ soldiers, and now they had arrived at the city, observed by those on the walls, and those in the camps outside the walls (a not insubstantial number for the stench of undeath had still not quite quit the city). Unexpectedly, at the rear of the column, accompanying the baggage of camels and mules, came a company of Tilean mercenaries – the famous Captain Pandolfo da Barbiano’s galloper guns. It seemed Lord Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore had felt very generous indeed when he employed this army to aid in the arch-lector’s holy war, for he had spent even more gold to compensate for the arabyans’ lack of artillery.

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Captain da Barbiano led the brace of guns, wearing a surcoat of green and red, and riding a caparisoned and barded horse. Each gun and limber was light enough to be hauled by a single draught horse and its whip-wielding rider. The rest of the gunners and matrosses jogged alongside clutching rams, sponges and worms. Da Barbiano had fought for several city states over the last decade, demonstrating the worth of his company during lightening raids to despoil an enemy’s realm – burning crops, looting livestock and driving the populace to despair. Heavier guns would obviously be useless in such an enterprise, but these lighter pieces were capable of keeping up with a mobile force, and allowed a rather unexpected element to be brought into play whenever some sort of local resistance was mustered. “Guns of the Desert” they jokingly called themselves now.

Amongst the tents, watching the gunners, were several Reman soldiers and a company of Morrite dedicants.

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These hooded fanatics were becoming a common sight in Viadaza – the first people to return in any number after the arch-lector’s soldiers had driven out the undead. Almost all wore robes and cloaks in the grey and maroon colours of the Morrite clergy, and all to a man had sworn themselves to the service of Morr. This did not, however (at least at first) mean they were unified, for Morr speaks mysteriously through dreams, and who can know whether they merely dreamt of Morr or were truly visited by him? Besides, there were many much more mundane reasons for their divisions. Some were lay brothers, officially accepted into the church of Morr, others were flagellant-dedicates recruited by unsanctioned demagogues and visionaries. There were Viadazans who had fought at Pontremola against the vampire duke’s horrid legions, grizzled veterans who had lived a hard life since the fall of their city, and Viadazans who had simply fled the city when the undead arose to live as refugees in the south for a while. There were both Pavonans and Trantians. Amongst the latter were some who shared a common cause with the Trantians, having been ‘favoured’ by them during Duke Guidobaldo’s short rule of their city, and others who hated their former masters with a vengeance. There were haunted Urbimans who had travelled secretly through the nightmarish realms in the north to spy upon the foe, Campogrottans serving their parole in dedication to Morr, and a good number from the far southern city states who had never-before smelled the stench of undeath until they arrived at Viadaza. What resulted was a somewhat tangled complexity of hierarchies, loyalties and intentions. While some Viadazans wanted to defend the city, never to be driven from it again, others yearned instead to march north without delay and repeat the victory gained by the first popular army of Viadazans. Many Remans meant to stand by their oath to obey the arch-lector’s divinely inspired will in every particular, while a handful of accomplished dreamers thought they themselves had a much better understanding of Morr’s wishes. Some Pavonans and Trantians wanted immediately to return southwards to defeat Razger’s Ogres, putting their own houses in order before continuing their fight in the north, whilst others argued that what was happening in the south was Morr’s punishment for the hesitation and delay that kept this great, holy army at Viadaza, and thus they should continue their march northwards.

Yet this wide disparity was on the wane, for as the Autumn weeks rolled by, turning into months, all non-noblemen in Viadaza found themselves pressed into compulsory service by orders of the arch-lector. Their labours included the burning of corpses, the hauling of stones to rebuild the walls and all required to make Viadaza habitable once again. And all the while waiting for the Arabyans to get a move on. Apart from a handful of Viadazans who vowed to make a stand here never to lose their home again, everyone else found this state of affairs somewhat frustrating. This was not the urgent holy war they were expecting. They were Morr’s warriors, not the Reman arch-lector’s labourers. The grumbling and complaints began to have a common theme, which in turn engendered a shared cause amongst nearly all of them.

Four Morrite dedicants, three being Viadazans by birth who had served at Pontremola and the fourth a Campogrottan archer who claimed to have killed two sleeping ogres during the famous 'Incident', scowled as they watched the galloper guns trundle by.

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All were hooded, two with only partially concealed faces (as was becoming popular amongst the more fanatical dedicates). Azzo was doing most of the talking. Up until now he had commented on every company that marched by, each and every time pointing out how these men worshipped different gods and so were not really suitable to do Morr’s work. Now that Captain da Barbiano’s company had appeared he fell silent.

“That lot look Tilean,” said another, called Jaco. “I bet they pray properly.”

Azzo scowled. “They might well do, but they’re nothing but a fly sitting on this army’s arse. The rest ain’t fit to serve in a holy war such as ours. The desert gods are little more than demons, not even divine.”

“They have but one, true god,” declared the largest of them, Guido. “He’s golden, and his name is Lucre. Give them their god and they’ll fight as well as any Tilean soldiers. They’d not be here if it had not been promised plentiful.”

“Fighting’s not enough,” said Jaco through his teeth, his gauntleted hand clutching his sword hilt tightly. “We fought, fought well, at Pontremola. Won the day. Hurray! For all the good it did us.”

Azzo rolled his eyes. “We all know who’s to blame for that. Lord Adolfo’s corruption alone brought ruin to Viadaza. He bears all the blame. Besides,” he said, gesturing back towards the city walls as if were helpful, “we’ve taken it back now, with Morr’s holy blessing.”

Guido nodded. “We have that. But the work’s not done, and we’ve tarried here too long. Now that these southerners are here, the arch-lector will order us northwards. If Ebino and Miragliano are not cleansed, and quickly, then the enemy’s strength will double and double again. You cannot win by wounding the undead. You must obliterate them and grind their burned bones to dust.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of his holiness’s plans, Guido,” doubted Azzo. “There’s a new proclamation going out to all of Tilea about how he intends to repopulate the city, make it a Reman protectorate, and wants worthy folk to settle here. Maybe this is where he intends to make a stand?”

“Make a stand!” spat Jaco. “That won’t work. They got ‘round us even when we killed the vampire duke. If we just sit here on our arses they’ll march right by and …” His words petered out as his face set into a grimace of anger.

“I know that,” said Azzo. “You know that. And all too well. But the arch-lector is a Reman and this might well be far enough north for him.”

Tullio the Campogrottan, who had until now stood a little apart from the others, leaning on the shaft of his viciously tipped spear, sniffed. “If this is where we’re gonna stay, and that lot have just arrived, then I hope the arch-lector has arranged for a fleet of ships to bring some grub. There’s nothing to harvest here and nothing much alive but us. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy camel stew and pickled Arabyan for supper.”

The four of them fell silent and watched as a rag-tag crowd of stragglers and camp-followers brought up the rear of the Arabyan column.

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(Several days later) The City of Viadaza: Inside

This was Father Agostino’s third visit today, all made to examine petitioners requesting an audience with the arch-lector. It seemed nearly everyone in Viadaza had an opinion regarding military or political matters, which meant his holiness’s second secretary was being kept rather busy. The first visit was to an official embassy from Urbimo requesting reinforcements for their own garrison in case the undead send a naval force from Miragliano to attack them, the second was a distant relative of the Duchess Maria offering written proof of his inheritance of the dukedom. This third visit involved a much more sinister group, being the leaders of the most substantial (and fanatical) faction of Morrite dedicants in the city.

Upon arrival, he discovered they were somewhat more worrying than he had envisaged. He was himself unescorted as it had seemed an unnecessary waste of manpower in a city populated by none other than the arch-lector’s soldiers and professed followers of Morr, especially now that the only truly rebellious element, the Campogrottan Ogres, had been destroyed. Logic told him that whichever soldiers might provide a guard were no more or less likely than every soldier in the city to be trustworthy. Now he regretted that decision, for he found himself escorted into an ancient chapel by hooded spearmen, passing more and more guards on the way in. These men might garb themselves in the colours of Morrite clergy, but they did so in a fashion that nevertheless marked them out as both distinct and threatening. Agostino found himself wondering whether Morr would grant him a prayer-spell if it was to be used to harm those who also proclaimed themselves his loyal servants!

As he entered the chapel’s nave, the ironbound door clanged shut behind him, closed by one of another pair of guards standing upon either side. The two men escorting him came to a halt with a clunk of their spears on the stone floor and the dedicants there to meet him stood up from the tables they had been seated at and made the sign of Morr, which Agostino answered in kind.

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The dedicants introduced themselves as the leaders of the Vaidazan Disciplinati di Morr. Azzo, who named the others, was a peculiar looking fellow, for instead of robes he wore only a mask-like hood and a small cloak over his ordinary clothes, which made him seem both slight and awkward amongst his comrades. Guido was a brutish sort, a big, bald fellow carrying an axe, but obviously not with wood-chopping in mind. Azzo named the others as Jaco, Cordill and Galeb, but too haphazardly for Agostino to know who was who, apart from the fact that the one with overgrown teeth was not Jaco.

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Without any further formality, Azzo began to speak. “Father, my dreams are blessed with Morr’s wisdom. He has shown me what must be done. Last night I rode a horse upon a long journey and thought to let it lie down and rest a while, but this and that distracted me until my mount’s legs grew weak and it could not get up. The night before I baked a loaf and thought to save it for a special occasion, but I left it too long and it grew mouldy. A dreamt the wheat in the field was ready for harvesting …”

“I understand,” interrupted Agostino, raising his hand. “You fear we have stayed here too long. It is a common concern, and it must indeed weigh heavy upon many consciences. I am sure a whole host of sleepers dream of such things, but whether or not Morr has any part to play in those dreams I am not so sure. I can assure you his holiness also dreams …”

“I know when holy Morr speaks to me,” said Azzo angrily. “And even if he did not, it would yet be true that further delay will likely ruin our cause.”

“The army’s council of war believe that winter is not the season to be marching to war,” said Agostino.

“Do you think the undead care about the cold?” asked the hulking Guido. “They have no need to scour for firewood, or find thicker blankets, or preserve the harvest. Snow and ice will hardly slow them at all.”

“The frozen ground will make it harder to raise more undead,” countered Agostino.

“Morr’s blood!” cursed Guido. “Do you think, father, that the undead grow tired because the ground is harder to dig? Do you think they break from their labours when it falls dark?”

“It is plain to all that have eyes to see that we must march on, and now,” said Azzo. “We have stayed here all Autumn. If the arch-lector wishes to linger, let him do so, but that does not mean he can keep the rest of us with him. Morr watched over us at Pontremola, and will do so again. Viadaza was lost because of Lord Adolfo’s failings, but that would not happen again, for the arch-lector cannot be so tainted. So, why not have the arch-lector and his guard provide a safe haven here, a place from which to send supplies and reinforcements, while the rest of us go now to finish our holy work. We shall complete what we began, with the arch-lector’s aid, with whatever forces he will grant. I am sure General d’Alessio would be pleased to command us, as he did before. There’s no soldier more blessed in the eyes of Morr.”

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Agostino was flabbergasted, but he did not show it. Instead he nodded as if in contemplation. Then, with no sign of displeasure in his voice, he said, “I will return to the arch-lector and put this to him. If it pleases him then he will wish to speak with you, I am sure.”

Guido sniffed. “And if it doesn’t please him?”

“Then he will pray for guidance.”

…..........

(An hour later in the outer yard of the Lector’s palace.)

It was already growing dark when Father Agostino arrived at the palace forecourt. There he met with the restored lector of Viadaza, Bernado Ugolini, returning from his afternoon constitutional. The lector, recently made secular governor also by the orders of the arch-lector Calictus II, was accompanied by his gnomish clerk (who had no doubt been speaking with his master of both church and state matters). Even as the lector took exercise he was kept busy with such things. Father Biagino was with him too, having been appointed the lector’s adviser.

Immediately upon spotting Father Agostini, the lector and his companions halted.

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Agostino bowed, and the lector spoke, “Good father, you met with the Disciplinati?”

“I did, your excellency.”

“And is it as his holiness feared?”

“In some ways, yes, I am afraid so. He will be happy to hear that they gave no sign of being schismatic in their faith, but they do not accept the arch-lector’s military command. The spirit of the Viadazan crusade lives on in them. They would march northwards themselves this very hour, made brave by their devotion to Morr and their memory of the glory of Pontremola. They expect d’Alessio to lead them, as before, and believe the arch-lector will supply them with soldiers and supplies.”

The lector frowned. “When they marched before they did so with the arch-lector’s blessing, and mine, which to my shame I was late in giving for I was fooled by Lord Adolfo, may Morr curse him for what he did in life and what he is now. But they had not Lord Adolfo’s blessing and I think that necessarily rebellious deed, along with the victory which followed and Adolfo’s subsequent treachery, has made them irreverent of all worldly authority, even that of Morr’s holy church.”

“Yet they’ll fight?”

“They will fight,” said Father Biagino. “I know that. I know them. I marched with them; thought like them. I was with them when they gained their victory, despite being battered hard. They now believe Morr truly guides them. But we lost Viadaza. Faith alone is insufficient. It is an ace card, granted, but a full hand is needed to win this game. If they’re allowed to leave it will divide our strength, and the enemy might devour us piecemeal.”

“What you say is no doubt true, Father Biagino,” agreed the lector. “But how do we convince them to act as one with us?”

“We can’t,” said Biagino. “But with Morr’s blessing, his holiness might.”
Last edited by Padre on Sat Sep 23, 2017 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tue May 17, 2016 8:38 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Great to see the story unfold and the tensions rise. Nice take on the Morrite faction using the Frostgrave cultists. That's a kit GW should have done long ago, in the Mordheim years.

I can imagine it's difficult to keep such an ambitious campaign going, kudos to you and your group.
My Oldhammer blog: The Lost and the Damned
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Post Tue May 24, 2016 4:41 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

You are correct, Subedai - the big issue is the sheer amount of time that passes between events, due mainly to all the player's real life responsibilities.

Now to head right down to the bottom of Tilea ...
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End of Season 7 (Autumn 2402) General Report, Part Two

The Once Mighty Monte Castello
Southern Tilea, on the western shore of the Bay of Wrecks
(This next co-written with Valckenburgh’s player)

As his scouts gave their report, Lord General Jan Valckenburgh considered the maps they had provided and carefully assessed all they told him. They were good men, ritters from the Wasteland and seasoned scouts in good standing with the company, so he knew to trust their account.

"Lord General, the walls already have a number of breaches,” explained Thomel, who had drawn the map. “Even the gate tower is thrown down …

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… There is no sign of the engines that did the damage, but the remains of the goblin’s siege-works can still be seen around the citadel." Thomel’s finger gestured to the lines on the sketched map as he explained. The castle walls themselves were drawn thick, while thinner marks traced a vaguely crescent-shaped circumvallation of earth forts on the outside. The scout now indicated the gaps in the walls. “The repairs to the breaches are mostly double-timbered walls, filled with rubble, and not all completed. They’re being worked on right now, but idly, and only by a few runtish looking goblins"

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Captain Singel, the company’s captain of works, broke in, eager to give his help. "Sir, their works are quick and shoddy, nothing more than deal board and old timbers filled with rubble. They might repel an assault without any artillery, but would burn very easily..."

Nodding, General Valckenburg pointed in turn to each of the breaches illustrated, then gestured to Thomel that he should continue the report.

"While they do not seem to have artillery pieces,” the scout went on, “there are bolt throwers on at least three of the towers and a stone thrower oddly positioned forward of the gate. Most are crewed by goblins but we saw some larger orcs too.”

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“How strong is the garrison?” asked Valckenburgh.

“It seems to be not overly large, Lord General, but who knows what else lies hidden? Goblins can be sneaky like that."

The Marienberger general was still running his fingertip over the map, mentally placing the forces at his disposal. Assuming the greenskins had no proper artillery his guns could pound the walls with impunity. The great siege piece would certainly make short work of any defences, no matter how well made, and should very quickly smash through a patch-work of rubble-filled planks, although this did not mean it would necessarily be an easy or quick fight, especially if the goblins could defend the re-breached sections in strength. He knew from experience that fighting over defended piles of rubble was often a brutal and drawn-out affair. The year had turned, and he could not afford a protracted siege. Captain Singel had earlier suggested that only the insane would venture to sea in a supply-laden ship in the autumn storms that lashed the Black Gulf. The problem was that greenskins were not known for their sanity, and Valckenburgh currently had no means to blockade the sea lanes.

The men around him were waiting in silence while he deliberated. He approached the decision something like his brother might have weighed up the pros and cons of an investment, balancing his long-term plans, the available options and both the factors that he could and could not control. Finally, he addressed the scouts.

"Well done. Take your troop and range out. Make sure there are no hidden bands of goblin scum hiding hereabout. I want eyes on the castle too, just in case they are concealed within in strength. If you hear battle, fall back to the reserve position.” Then he turned to his officers. “Captain Singel, move your train into range of our largest pieces. If you use the abandoned works – for they should be very well placed to target the repaired breaches - then first ensure they are safe, then make all necessary improvements with gabions and works. I doubt the greenskins did a good job. Colonel Van Hal, order your men to invest the castle and Captain van Rooyen, prepare your rodelaros for the attack. You will follow the ogres in as soon as a suitable breach is made. The firelocks will provide cover."

The company snapped to attention, the officers giving stiff bows. This was not as sign of naïve eagerness, however, for all of them were professionals, and they knew their trade well.

……………………………………………………………..……….

Hunched behind some rocks, the three of them had a good view of what remained of the castle gate, or at least they would have done if they had the eyes of hawks. Luckily Thomel had a spy glass to compensate. He scrutinised, while Rutiger and Halmut squinted.

“Definitely some coming out now – carrying pikes,” Thomel said. “They’re marching, and being neat and tidy about it.”

“So they’re not goblins then?” asked Halmut.

“O’course they are,” said Rutiger. “What else would march out of there?”

Thomel shifted himself, and wiped the end of the spy glass with his linen kerchief. “They’re goblins alright. Lots of them. Came out in a column of twos on account of the timber hoarding making the gate so narrow, but now they’re doubling their front. Like I said, neat and tidy. We’ve seen it before, at Pavezzano and Capelli.”

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“At Pavezzano they just walked into our guns. They weren’t so tidy then,” laughed Halmut.

“Guns’ll do that,” said Rutiger.

“Wait!” blurted Thomel, surprising the other two men. Halmut stiffened, while Rutiger got part way through drawing his blade. “They’ve stopped,” Thomel added.

“And so did my heart there for a moment,” complained Halmut. “Why not save your sudden shouts for the moments that matter?”

“What are they doing now?” asked Rutiger.

“They’ve divided into two columns, each turning to face the flanks, and then stepped forwards doubling from the rear to form one rank upon either side of the road. Someone’s been teaching them how to look like real soldiers.”

“You’re like a living drill manual today – it’s very educational,” said Halmut.

“I think the general’s recent praise has gone to his head,” added Rutiger.

Thomel ignored them. “One of them has split off - he’s the one shouting orders. They’ve about-faced to line the road upon either side.”

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“I can see that much myself,” said Thomel. “They must be planning on a parade.”

Rutiger laughed. “You’re not far wrong. I reckon they’re doing this for our benefit. They’re showing strength – in numbers and discipline – as well as how unperturbed they are by our presence. You have to admit, it’s impressive for goblins.”

“Anything beyond farting is impressive for goblins,” said Halmut with a snort. Then his brow furrowed. “Why are they doing all this though? Why don’t they just man the walls and wait for us to make a move? That’s what we’d do.”

“I see why,” announced Thomel. “Come on, follow me. Let’s get us a closer look.”

“Makes sense,” said Thomel sarcastically. “Three men should do well against a greenskin army!”

“Ha!” snorted Thomel.“They’re not sending an army out. They’re coming out to talk.”



On lower ground, the three of them could get much closer while remaining concealed. They now saw a little band of banner bearers and horn-blowers had emerged, led by several meaner-than-average looking goblins.

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“This wasn’t the best idea you’ve had Thomel,” complained Halmut. “They could be at the head of an army, and if they have wolf riders amongst them then I reckon we won’t be having supper tonight.”

Once again Thomel was playing his eyeglass upon the scene. “No,” he said thoughtfully. “There’s no army behind them. There’s just what you see – a bunch of bloody banners and bosses. I knew it! They’re coming out to parley.”

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Thonel could make out leering, green faces peeking over every wall and tower, watching the party as it processed between the arrayed pike soldiers.

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“Best be off to warn the general then?” suggested Halmut. “He’ll want to give them a suitable reception.”

Thomel raised his hand to signal that they should wait a moment. He wanted a better look, and focused the spy glass upon the lead goblin. “Now he IS ugly,” he muttered.

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The great goblin in question sported a ridiculous grin, his teeth widely spaced as if he had plucked every second one out. A spiked helm, too small for his bulbous head, had been thrust down onto his chain-mail hood. His mail, extending down to his waist, was also insufficiently sized, so that it could not be fully fastened. His belly burst from the gap, which made the wearing of mail a somewhat pointless exercise (unless what he really feared was being stabbed from behind). As he lumbered along, he clutched at both the hilt and scabbard of his sword, it’s black blade just visible, as if he was ready to draw it on the shortest of notice.

Next up: The last section of part 2, currently also being co-written by myself and the player playing Valckenburgh.
Last edited by Padre on Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Thu Jun 02, 2016 3:47 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

End of Season 7 (Autumn 2402) General Report, Part Two Continued

The Once Mighty Monte Castello
Southern Tilea, on the western shore of the Bay of Wrecks
(This piece co-written with General Valckenburgh’s player, commander of the forces of the VMC)

Several of the VMC’s officers had gathered to await the goblins’ arrival. All within easy distance of General Valckenburgh had been sent for, the exceptions being those busied with their military responsibilities in preparing for the siege. Captain Singel, for example, was wholly occupied with siting the siege pieces, and most of the other field-captains were with their own companies, directly commanding them. But most of the general staff were present.

General Valckenburgh was fully armoured, apart from a helmet, wearing instead the dark skull cap he most often favoured. Over his armour was an orange surcoat, which along with blue was the VMC’s usual livery, and in his right hand he clutched the baton de commandement. Closest to him was Luccia la Fanciulla, carrying her blessed, Myrmidian standard. She too was armoured from the neck down and wore a liveried surcoat. There was enough of a breeze to reveal that the holy standard bore an image of the goddess’s shield and spear.

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Upon the general’s other side stood the scholarly linguister Pieter Schout, looking nervous as he clutched and unclutched the hilt of his sword. More at ease moving in courtly circles, even conversing in Arabyan or Elvish, it was hardly a surprise that he might feel a little discombobulated at the prospect of an interaction with goblins from beyond the Black Gulf. He was praying to Myrmidia that they might speak at least some Old Worlder, which was likely if at least some of the commanders had served in the Border Princes where it was not uncommon to employ even greenskins as mercenary soldiers. Next to him was the long-bearded Johannes Deeter, looking somewhat incongruent in his long black cloak, curl-toed shoes and clutching a set of brass scales to allow the channelling of a subtle spell he claimed could help the parley proceed smoothly.

Several little companies of soldiers were present too, all the better to ensure the goblins could not play any murderous tricks, but not so many as to make the goblins unwilling to approach. The scouts had already counted the enemy party, and so it was easy to judge what would be exactly sufficient for safety. On one side a single rank of Captain van Luyden’s handgunners stood with loaded pieces at port …

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… while on the other Pieter Schout’s pistolier guard were also made ready with weapons drawn.

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A little way behind, guarding the rear even though it was hard to see how the goblins might scramble over the rocks there, was another file of handgunners (mercenary Estalians), a dozen Marienburger pikemen from the Meagre Company, and in between them two sergeants guarding the bearer of the VMC’s company colours. There were no army scouts present, however, for the general had ordered every one of them to scour the army’s entire periphery and beyond to forestall any attempted surprise. Valckenburgh knew of many supposedly honourable men who would not baulk at using the distraction of a parley to launch an attack, and so certainly would not be so foolish as to trust goblins.

The wizard Deeter broke the silence, his curt question unadorned by social niceties such as using the general’s proper title. “What could these creatures possible want to discuss? They must know what we’ve done to their kin, and what we will inevitably do to them. Why waste time coming out to babble their inanities at us?”

“They know full well what we have done,” said General Valckenburgh. “Which is why they come to talk with us. They’ll bluster, no doubt, and threaten, and their wilful stupidity will be painfully evident, but in truth they’re hoping to save their skins. Perhaps they hope to spin out time, or believe they will learn something of our disposition and strength.”

The general scanned the distant outline of the castle’s towers, and what he could sea of the waters of the gulf to the south of it.

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“Most likely they have no means of escape; no ships and no allies to come to their aid. We shall see. It should not prove too difficult to guess what truth is masked by their attempts at deceit.”

The flags flapped and snapped in the wind, while the VMC’s welcoming party fell silent as they waited.

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After a little while a knot of greenskins appeared through a gap in the rough ground ahead. They too had standards, ragged and dull-hued flags hanging from yard-like supports and adorned with beasts’ skulls. One standard appeared to be a ship’s wheel which had the skulls but no rag. Somewhere amongst them a goblin was playing bladder-pipes, sounding a high-pitched tumble of notes accompanied by a wheezing drone.

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“Not the most imposing of parties are they?” quipped Deeter.

“My lord general, surely it would sully the honour of Myrmidia to let such base creatures approach her holy standard unchallenged,” said Luccia.

“On the contrary,” said the general. “The goddess teaches wisdom in war - strategic prowess and tactical cunning over brute force and wild rage.”

“I have seen them try to fight,” said Luccia. “Tactical cunning is not necessary to beat them, just numbers and a little discipline.”

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The general glanced at her, reminding himself how young she was and that all she had seen of war was the battles at Pavezzano and Capelli. “They are now behind walls, my Lady, and I do not have time to waste. I want this fight over and done with as soon as possible. I want this land made safe, and productive. There are greater threats to the north, and we have spent too long already chasing goblins hither and thither. If I can gain victory one single day sooner by listening to what these foul creatures have to say, then I am happy to do so. Here I risk wasting one hour, against a potential gain of days if not weeks.”

“If these are their leaders,” suggested Deeter, “then I say let us kill them now. Would that not almost certainly mean the rest either flee in disorganised panic, and if not that, then set upon each other, squabbling over who should command? Either is a more likely outcome than hoping a talk will make them simply lay down their arms and hand us the castle.”

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“I never said we shall not do just that,” said the general. “Only that I would hear them speak before deciding upon a course of action. We got the name Big Boss Grutlad easily enough out of the petty goblin we caught yesterday, and a veritable volume of sordid stories concerning who had lopped bits off whom. I want to see what we can get out of Grutlad himself.”

The greenskins had halted whilst the general spoke. A horn sounded a pretty trill of notes from the hills behind the VMC soldiers. General Vlackenburgh knew this signalled the all clear, that there was no sign of goblins approaching from elsewhere.

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“Well,” he declared, “unless each of them conceals a grenado, it looks like they are indeed here to talk. We could yet fight this battle with words and have them surrender without the loss of one of our men. Despite the honourable Luccia’s misgivings, I might even have a use for them.”

“My lord general, you cannot mean that?” asked Luccia.

“I do, brave Lady. If I can convince one enemy to fight another enemy then I shall have a lot fewer enemies as a result, and yet as many men to defeat them with when it finally becomes necessary.”

The goblins had been halted for some time now, and could be seen to be engaged in their own conversation.

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Eventually, three of the goblins began to approach, leaving the tatty banner-bearers and musicians behind. Captain van Luyden’s handgunners stepped forwards too, closing the gap between them and the goblins so that any shots they fired could not fail to meet their mark.

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The large goblin at the front, presumably the leader, was obviously the one Thomel the scout had described earlier. He gripped his sword hilt in a manner the general recognised from historical etiquette – neither quite drawn nor left to rest, symbolic of an undecided outcome. This seemed to be a good sign, for he had not expected etiquette of any kind. If the goblin thought there were rules to this game, then there was indeed a game to play. The other two consisted of a similarly paunchy goblin with a blood-stained sword resting over his shoulder like a soldier might carry a handgun or pike, while the second grinned widely whilst clutching an axe almost as big as himself.

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The goblin leader spoke first. “I’m big boss here. This castle’s mine, this army’s mine and you can get lost.”

“We’re not leaving,” said the general. “But you know that, because you’re here to talk.”

“If you’re staying it’ll be long wait for ya, ‘cos I got lots of gobs, and you ain’t getting in. Might as well bugger off now than sit here hungry while we eat salt-fish and man-flesh a-plenty inside. We ain’t intending to share, and if you tries to take what we have, then we’ll salt you up nice and tasty too.”

General Valckenburgh laughed. “You took the castle. What makes you think we cannot? We have bigger guns and better powder than you had, and you’ve got a wall patched with wooden planks instead of unbroken stone. However long it took you to get in, we shall do it ten times as quickly. You’ll be dead long before you’ve even made a dent in your stock of food.”

“If you try, then men’ll die, lots an’ lots. Smash up the timbers if you like. You still has to get over the mess you make, and then you’ll pay dearly for every inch, ‘cos I’ve got plenty o’ gobs who don’t mind sticking spears into men as they scrabble and scramble on rubble and splinters. Why put yerself to so much trouble and lose so much to gain this broken castle?”

“We know your true strength is nothing compared to what Khurnag’s commanded. We batted that army aside without breaking a sweat. Warlord Khurnag had not even ordered the advance when he took a four-pound roundshot to his belly in our first volley. And that came from one of our smallest pieces.”

The goblin glanced over at the one on his left, who nodded briefly as if to confirm Valckenburgh’s words. That one was obviously there that day, thought the general. That’s why they’ve come out – they know full well how badly it has gone for them so far.

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Big Boss Grutlad sniffed in a horrible gurgling manner, and Valckenburgh spied glistening beads of sweat forming on his brow. When he spoke, however, it was with the same apparent confident disdain.

“Place is ruined anyway. We squeezed all we can from it. ‘Taint much use to us now. Might be we could sell it to you, then you don’t have to suffer in the taking of it. If you’ve got enough of the shiny stuff then I reckon you’d save yourself a lot of nastiness.”

General Valckenburgh smiled, thinking that they had now reached where the goblin always intended to go. It was not far enough for him, however.

“We both know who will really suffer in the taking of the castle. And you know that our attack will be the end of your command, one way or another. I didn’t drag all this artillery here just to turn around and go back. I killed Khurnag and now I’m sweeping up the mess he made. You think the latter task will be more difficult than the former? I’ve done the hard work, now I’m just tidying up the loose ends. I have already defeated my enemies, all that’s left is to kill them too.”

Grutlad’s eyes narrowing and lips twisting as it all sunk in. The goblin’s bluster had turned to fluster. Both his companions stared at his back, as if they did not know what to make of his silence.

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“See now,” said Grutlad, “I would’ve sold cheap, but I’m willing to let you have the pile for nothing more than letting us go. We never wanted to stay here, not since Khurnag copped it, and was just waiting for ships to take us. You give us yer word that we can leave without bother and you’re welcome to the place.”

General Valckenburgh said nothing, but just stared at Grutlad.

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The big boss twitched, an involuntary motion he attempted to turn into a shrug. “It don’t even ‘ave to be all of us. I don’t care what you do the rest of them, just let us lot and a few others go. Bugger the rest. I’ll take only what’ll fit in a ship.” He leaned forward conspiratorially. “Between you an’ me, I can get the rest to come out so it’s easy fer ya.”

“No,” said Valckenburgh, revelling a moment in the obvious fear now writ upon the goblin’s face. “That’s not what I want. You can keep your mob, but not the castle. And you can buy your lives, all your lives, by serving me as mercenaries. That’s the deal: You die, all of you … or you serve me, all of you.”

The grinning goblin with the axe surprised the general by somehow widening his already impossibly large grin, while the other companion looked at him as if taking the measure of him – which was equally surprising. Grutlad slid his sword fully back into his hilt, and said, simply: “You’s got some more soldiers, then.”
Last edited by Padre on Sun Sep 24, 2017 8:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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