Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)


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Post Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:18 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Padre wrote:No replies/comments makes me wonder whether you're finding all this impossible to read or just uninteresting. If so, do tell me 'cos then I can re-jig my work-play balance accordingly!

I think a lot of it is we have very little to add! Your game, your story. I don't write margin notes in novels either
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Post Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:43 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

ardyer wrote:
Padre wrote:No replies/comments makes me wonder whether you're finding all this impossible to read or just uninteresting. If so, do tell me 'cos then I can re-jig my work-play balance accordingly!

I think a lot of it is we have very little to add! Your game, your story. I don't write margin notes in novels either


Yeah, but is the story rubbish, so so, or readable? I can't tell because I'm doing the writing. In about 2 years time, if I looked over it, then I could give an opinion, as that is enough time to remove myself from the writing and see it as I would see another's piece.

If people are skim reading, or just looking at the pics, then I'm getting the focus wrong. (Not a deliberate pun.) I do have to write reports for my players, but I could just list facts for them and e-mail.
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Post Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:46 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Padre wrote:
ardyer wrote:
Padre wrote:No replies/comments makes me wonder whether you're finding all this impossible to read or just uninteresting. If so, do tell me 'cos then I can re-jig my work-play balance accordingly!

I think a lot of it is we have very little to add! Your game, your story. I don't write margin notes in novels either


Yeah, but is the story rubbish, so so, or readable? I can't tell because I'm doing the writing. In about 2 years time, if I looked over it, then I could give an opinion, as that is enough time to remove myself from the writing and see it as I would see another's piece.

If people are skim reading, or just looking at the pics, then I'm getting the focus wrong. (Not a deliberate pun.) I do have to write reports for my players, but I could just list facts for them and e-mail.

To be honest, I do all 3 (skim, look at pictures, read the whole post) depending on my mood and the time when I come across them.

And I definitely enjoy gaming vicariously through you as a result!
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Post Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:50 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Marvellous. That's all I need to know. Your method is how I approach such things - my circumstances dictate my attention. Thank you. I shall continue, at least for the foreseable. Back to painting figures for part 3 of the end of season general report.

Edit: I have a rubbish memory. People have said they like this thread before, but I forgot. Small ego + rubbish memory leads to doubts.
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Post Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:55 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Note: The first part of this installment was co-written by ‘cagicus’, the player whose character is the arch-lector of Remas (and thus the controller of Remas). This allowed us to put the arch-lector’s words into the story. Cagicus has previously told me what to put in pronouncements and I have written them up, but this time it was a process of passing the piece backwards and forwards as it grew. Next time, perhaps, we’ll do a piece with the arch-lector as the viewpoint character. Hopefully another player or two will join me in a similar process.[/b]

End of Season 6 General Report, Part 3 of X

The ‘Incident’

Near Viadaza

“We have arrested all those we could find afterwards, both Campogrottans and Pavonans,” reported General d’Alessio. “They are now in custody awaiting your pleasure. At the very least they are guilty of improper conduct and insubordination, at worst, mutiny and murder, although in the circumstances it might be unfair to consider them murderers.”

Biagino noticed the general had left his famous broadsword behind, probably aware how inappropriate it would be during a meeting with the arch-lector. That, along with the blue sky, the pleasant surroundings of the gardens of the Palazzo Sebardia and the absence of stinking smoke, made for a very welcome change. Compared to corpse burning in the dark and derelict city streets and the threatening air of tension in the army camp, this afternoon felt most civilised.

The Palazzo Sebardia was situated a little south of Viadaza, constructed of the same grey stone as much of the city, and of a design similarly influenced by more northern architectural fashions. A walled moat of calm, deep waters sat to the side, and all around were full grown trees to provide ample shade for those who sought it. There was, decided Biagino, no sign here at all of the nightmarish horrors which had gripped this realm until the vampire lord and his foul forces had been driven out.

Yet it was not possible to forget the war, for the arch-lector’s guards were posted throughout the gardens: crossbowmen watched the trees, while halberdiers stood sentinel at every door and even along the wall of the moat. And they were not idle, their eyes busily scouring the surroundings for any signs of trouble.
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“I cannot say whether we caught all those involved,” continued the general. “Some Pavonans may have slipped away before we could find them, disappearing back into the mob gathered around the Campogrottan camp. Those we caught were nearly all wounded. The Campogrottan men were also badly mauled, leaving as many dead as injured. As for the brutes, there was not one alive.”

“You accounted for all of the brutes?” asked the lector of Viadaza, Bernado Ugolini.

“We think so, your holiness. There were no sightings of ogres anywhere else in the camp. The art of concealment is not exactly their forte.”

Biagino laughed inside at the thought of an ogre attempting to conceal himself. It was an idea as ridiculous as the poppet play he had once seen in which wooden headed snotlings attempted to play chess.

The arch-lector, however, gave a heavy sigh, then spoke the words of a prayer: "Morr guide us, Morr take us and Morr keep us." Looking down at his clasped hands, left thumb over right, he let his eyes lose focus for a long moment while the others stood in respectful silence. Then he turned to fix the captain general with a direct gaze.

Now General d’Alessio,” he asked, “Exactly what did happen at the Campogrottan’s camp?"

For the briefest moment d’Alessio looked uncomfortable, as if a sliver of doubt pricked at him, then he continued in the same matter of fact voice as before. “I hold myself partially to blame, for I had noticed the archers harboured bad feelings towards their brute comrades. I thought it nothing more than that which all men feel when in the company of ogres. Of course, it is obvious now in hindsight. These men were filled with hatred - probably just biding their time until a chance arose. The archers are no more or less than oppressed Tileans, who rose up against brute and foreign oppressors. Campogrotta is a conquered realm, with a monstrous army pressing all under their thumb. Lord Nicolo perhaps even sent the archers away to remove such trouble causers from his realm.”

“If so,” queried the Lector Bernado, “then why did he send two companies of ogres as well.”

“That I do not know," admitted the general. "Nor, I think, shall we ever know now that the ogres are dead. It may well be that they planned some sabotage of their own, perhaps even to attack any Pavonans or their allies amongst us when news of their brethren’s attack on Scorcio was received? If so, then it may well be a good thing that they have been killed.”

The arch-lector regarded d’Alessio sternly. Like the lector standing behind him he wore a wine coloured, hooded cloak, although the cassock beneath was of a much richer, velvet cloth, decorated with silken braids and golden zucchini. His hands were no longer clasped together as if in prayer, which Biagino took as a sign that his holiness was not in the mood for ifs and maybes. Luckily, the general seemed to notice too, and returned to answering the question.

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“It should all become much clearer once we question those involved - perhaps, by your leave your holiness, in a court martial? Just now it is clear that the Campogrottan men, nearly every one of them, took the news of the attack on Scorcio as a signal that they should begin the slaughter. As they went about their bloody business they were joined by several Pavonans who had arrived with exactly the same slaughter in mind. The soldiers I sent to isolate the Campogrottan camp prevented any more Pavonans getting in. But it was too late, for although the handful of Pavonans who had already slipped through could not have prevailed alone against the brutes, joined with the Campogrottan archers they had sufficient strength. Nevertheless, it was a hard fight, and the men were severely mauled, losing more than half their number. Both Pavonans and Campogrottans seemed willing to risk all in the attack.”

“Yes. Of course, I see that,” said the arch-lector. “Their homes and families conquered by these brutish creatures. But still. These brutes did Morr's work for a time. And that work is not done yet. I will not see their killers released from Morr's service until it is.

“I understand, general, that military discipline must be maintained, but there is more to this. We have an abomination to the North. Every living being has a duty to cleanse this world of the undead scourge. All right-thinking people know this is so. Each life given in this holy war is well received by Morr. Each life wasted in petty squabbles over territory or plunder is an insult to his name.

“Tell me, did young Lord Silvano order this attack upon the brutes?”

General d’Alessio shook his head. “As far as I know, your Holiness, although my officers have yet to ascertain the details, he does not seem to have done so. Not directly, at least, and he certainly did not lead it. None of our men witnessed him at the camp. His soldiers were disorganised, driven by anger rather than an officer’s commands. It is not known whether he otherwise encouraged the attack, merely allowed it to happen or was entirely ignorant of it. In truth, we have yet to establish even his whereabouts at the time.”

The arch-lector turned his gaze and reached out his right hand in the gesture of free speech. “Biagino! I left many of my trusted advisors in Remas. But you have seen more horrors than them, and perhaps prayed all the harder as a consequence for our Lord’s guidance. I would have your counsel if you would give it. Tell me of Lord Silvano. He joined our crusade eagerly, but does he truly serve Morr? Will he stay with us or shall we let him fly?"

Biagino had spent some time with the Pavonan lord, finding him likeable, open and honest. Whether or not Silvano would order such an attack as this, however, he could not say. Luckily, the arch-lector was not asking that.

“The young lord does seem devout in his service to Morr. He has his own confessor, of course, and has never spoken to me of any Sagrannalian heresies or schismatical Pavonian beliefs. I took his willingness to join our crusade as a sign that he was happy to be guided by your Holiness and the true church. In truth, although he never used these exact words, I believe he would much rather fight this holy war against evil than die like his brother in a war of vengeance against the living. Yet …”

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Here Biagino faltered and it was the arch-lector who picked up his thought: “Yet will he leave now that Trantio is threatened?”

“I cannot say for certain, your Holiness,” admitted Biagino. “But I think he will. He is proud to be the Gonfalonieri of Trantio, even if the honour is clouded by his brother's death. Now he has learned of Scorcio’s suffering and the very great threat to Trantio, he must surely be torn between continuing this holy fight and defending that which he rules. He swore oaths to do both, and in his naivety, I suppose, did not imagine the two duties would conflict. But the boy loves his father, and furthermore can see no wrong in the man. Filial duty will win out.”

The lector of Viadaza stepped forward to address the arch-lector. “If I may speak, your Holiness? We can do nothing to stop Lord Silvano leaving if he so wishes. And in light of his rank, the noble son of the ruler of a sovereign state, we have no rightful authority to try him. Besides, if we did, how would we weigh one oath before the gods against another? If we had evidence that he himself espoused heretical doctrine then we might proceed against him under church law. If he ordered this attack and we chose to see it as the act of an enemy, then we could make him a prisoner of war. In so doing we would be declaring war against his father, which is madness with the vampire duchess north of us and now the tyrant Boulderguts to the south. I think we have more than enough enemies already.”

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Biagino was not surprised to hear Lector Bernado talk so easily of the Campogrottan ogres as enemies. The arch-lector had not actually declared them so, yet they seemed keen by their burning and robbing to make themselves enemies of all mankind.

“Lord Silvano is indeed untouchable in terms of military law,” said General d’Alessio. “He is the commander of his own brigade, sworn as a willing ally, not as a serving soldier who is duty bound to obey my every command. If he lost control of his men, that does not mean we can prosecute him. If he failed to keep some vow, that only shames him. And even if he ordered the killing of the ogres, that is nothing more than a lord seeking retribution for crimes committed against him. However, with his permission, we can proceed with a court martial concerning his men’s actions, at least to question them.”

“What would that gain, general?” asked Lector Bernado. “We have a war to fight. Why waste time with enquiries?”

When all turned to hear what the arch-lector had to say, Calictus again allowed a long moment to pass, as if he were reaching out silently for some guidance. Biagino wondered if the arch-lector could feel Morr’s presence – not through riddle-filled dreams as he himself experienced, but rather to know the god’s will directly. If a lowly priest such as himself was blessed with divine visions, surely the highest-ranking clergyman in the church had access to much, much more? There was no way of knowing, of course. Whether the arch-lector was merely weighing his advisers’ words or waiting for a sign from Morr, no-one else could know.

When Calictus’ attention returned to his company, his eyes seemed to light up, as if an amusing thought had tickled him. “Good Lector Bernado,” he said, “you have shown your grasp of the situation. I have no desire to do anything more than offer advice and help to Lord Silvano and his father.” He then turned to Biagino. “And good father, not only do I think you see much more than most when you look upon a man, it seems to me that Morr has guided you, blessed you, so that his will might manifest through you. I pray it will always do so. You both speak well. We must recognise the inevitable and move with it rather than against it. We should aim to support Lord Silvano when he moves south to retake Scorcio.”

“Might I ask, your holiness,” said Lector Bernado, “how can we make this situation serve Morr's greater purpose?"

“First, we must bring this matter of unrest in our army to a close, without making any more enemies than we already have. You may hold a court martial, general. We must be seen to follow a proper process, and the rule of law must prevail. Let the Pavonans and Campogrottans express their anger, explain their justification. Bernado, I would have you attend, for the deed was done within your diocese, and by soldiers serving in Morr’s holy army.”

Both Lector Bernado and General d’Alessio bowed to show their obedience.

“It will be done, your holiness,” said the lector of Viadaza.

“What sentence do I pass when they admit to their deeds?” asked the general.

Again, Biagino saw a glimpse of humour in the arch-lector’s eyes. “The Pavonans should be returned to their own brigade to be dealt with as Lord Silvano sees fit. The Campogrottans will be found guilty of misconduct, and will await my pleasure. In the meantime, I shall consider how best to deal with them.”

It was very clear to Biagino that the arch lector already knew full well what he intended to do, and equally clear that no-one but the arch-lector knew exactly what that was.

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Last edited by Padre on Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:03 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Second half of part 3!

Court Martial

In Viadaza

The gnomish clerk of the court was bringing the legal preamble to a close, his somewhat squeaky voice being both audible and authoritative despite its inauspicious nature.

“… and as the matter to be investigated concerns soldiers serving different sovereign princes, so that none of their own officers has authority over all the parties involved, then General Urbano d’Alessio will himself act as judge, in that he carries the baton of command over all brigades, granted him by the authority of the arch-lector …”

Biagino was not one of those Morrite clergy officially attending the trial, for that honour fell to the Lector Bernado and the lesser priests under his immediate jurisdiction. Needless to say, there were not many lesser priests. Two, to be exact. Times had been more than hard for all Viadazans, including the clergy. So much so, in fact, that some of the previously walking corpses cremated over the last week wore grey and red priestly robes, ragged and filthy but still recognisable. That priests of Morr might become the living dead was beyond most Tileans’ imaginations, yet it had happened here in this hellish place.

The square in which the interrogation was to be held was not large, made smaller by the collapse of the building lining its southern side. Biagino presumed the damage had happened either during the recent siege or the earlier fall of Viadaza to the undead. Attempts had been made to tidy the rubble, creating a kind of wall behind which a group of observers had gathered, Biagino amongst them. Several of the arch-lector’s own liveried bodyguard regiment were scattered about the place – a drummer to beat the appropriate flams as prisoners were brought forward or removed, an ensign to bear the arch-lector’s standard, and the rest to escort the prisoners and guard the various portals around the square. A second gnome assisted the clerk, while a priest of Morr was ready with a holy book upon which those to be examined might swear an oath that they would speak the truth.

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As Biagino stepped forwards to get a better look, the first soldier to be examined was being brought into place. As the prisoner and the guard came to a halt Biagino noticed the large stone block behind them, decorated with chains and manacles. Now he knew why this particular square had been chosen – it had obviously served a similar sort of purpose in the past, back when Viadaza was filled with a living populace rather than soldiers and ghosts. The prisoner was a Pavonan, his blue and white quartered garb unmistakeable. Unlike most prisoners Biagino had seen over the years, this man was clean, combed, his linen white and unstained. The court might be going through all the usual motions, but it was obvious that the sort of ‘back-stage’ cruelty and deprivation that was a prisoner’s usual lot had not been inflicted.

Once the Pavonan had been sworn, he was ordered to give an account of what had occurred.

“It weren’t anything,” he said, an element of disdain evident in his tone. “We heard what the brutes had done and decided we would teach them a lesson.”

“You decided?” asked the general. “Not Lord Silvano?”

“Lord Silvano was not with us when we heard the news. We did not need him to tell us what must be done. Besides, to find him out would have meant delay, and we were in no mood for that. They say patience is a virtue, but not always.”

“So you were acting without orders?”

The soldier nodded. “The brutes were revealed as enemies in our midst, no doubt with some bloody intention to add to the deeds done at Scorcio. We did what was best, and we did it quickly. It was what Lord Silvano would have wished.”

The general raised his hand to silence the soldier, his face registering annoyance. “Never mind what you think Lord Silvano wanted, or what was best. Answer me straight, did Lord Silvano give orders to attack the Campogrottan brutes?”

The Pavonan’s confidence was ebbing. He glanced around as if to look for help. “No, your excellency. He gave us no orders.”

The general gestured to the gnomish clerk. “Write that down,” he commanded.

As the gnome did so, his scribbling hand unfaltering, he raised his bushy eyebrows, registering a kind of surprise. Biagino noticed, and smiled. The gnome was no doubt thinking: ‘What do you think I have been doing?’

“Did Lord Silvano in any way indicate that it was his intention that you attack the brutes?” asked General d’Alessio.

“He is Gonfalonieri of Trantio, and Scorcio is his to rule. He would not want the comrades of those who had attacked his own possessions to go unpunished. We did …”

“Quiet!” barked the general. “And listen. This time I want you to answer the question put to you, and only that question. You have ears, use them!”

The Pavonan nodded, now clearly discomfited.

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The general waited a moment, taking a breath as if to compose himself, and then asked, “Did Lord Silvano in any way whatsoever encourage, embolden or advise you to do this deed? Did he indicate his happiness at your intentions, or at the least suggest that you might do as you wished?”

“No. He couldn’t, see? Because Captain Minnoli took him away upon some errand before anyone could tell him what had happened.”

Now Biagino understood exactly why young Lord Silvano had not been present at the incident. His men had tricked him away, perhaps to prevent him from interfering, or to ensure no blame could be put on him. Perhaps both?

General d’Alessio was not subtle in his satisfaction. He brought his hands together in a clap and turned once again to look at the gnome. Before he could speak however, the gnome, without lifting his eyes or even pausing his quill pen, said, “I’m writing it.”

Biagino almost laughed at this. Gnomes had often had a comical way about them, a kind of pride, manifesting most often as sarcasm or rudeness. They were very good at what they did, yet men had a tendency to confuse their squeaky voices and short stature with childishness. He could not read the general’s subsequent fixed expression, but he knew the man well enough to know it was more likely to be an attempt to conceal the general’s own mirth rather than anger at the gnome’s impertinence.

General d’Alessio now turned to the crowd. “This man acted without his commanders’ orders, neither mine nor Lord Silvano’s. Lord Silvano bears no blame for the deed. This man speaks for himself and the rest of the Pavonans involved in this incident. It is not my place to discipline another man’s soldiers, and so this man and the rest will be returned to their camp, there to suffer whatsoever punishment Lord Silvano sees fit to inflict. They are his to do with as he wishes.”

Addressing the guard holding the prisoner’s manacles, he added, “Take him away.”

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Biagino was surprised at the speed at which the investigation had been conducted. Of course, he knew that all those officiating had already been briefed as to what must be done, and that the whole event was for show, but he had thought the general might make more of an effort to appear thorough in his examination. Still, there was a war to fight, against a most terrible enemy, and so little time to waste on the niceties of procedure and tradition. He watched as the Pavonan was led away and a Campogrottan brought to stand in his place.

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This man too had an air of defiance about him, like the Pavonan had when first brought forward, but his eyes revealed he was more nervous. He was dressed in a colourful green and yellow doublet and a blue artisan’s hat. His hands were bound before him with rope, and he was prodded into place by an intimidating, broadsword wielding guardsman. Biagino knew this Campogrottan was on much shakier ground than the Pavonan, as he and his comrades had no officers they could be returned to. They had killed their commanders when they killed the ogres!

The gnomish clerk declared that this man had been chosen to speak for himself and his comrades, then read out the man’s name, describing him as a retinue archer. The general seemed intrigued by this, asking, “A retinue archer? Whose retinue?”

“Sir Bruno Dalila, knight of the Hollow Order.”

“There are no knights in your brigade.”

“No, your excellency. The brutes killed them all.”

The general nodded gravely. “And this was the cause of your action?”

“It was, your excellency. Lord Nicolo and Boulderguts have killed or imprisoned every noble in our realm - lord, lady and child - excepting those who managed to flee or hide, which were not too many. The brutes stole the whole of Campogrotta, enslaved every living soul, then they took Ravola to steal all they could from there too. Now they’ve set upon Trantio. They’ll burn the whole of Tilea if they’re not stopped.”

“You have grievances a-plenty,” acknowledged General d’Alessio. “I see that plainly. But you had no orders, and no right to take matters into your own hands. You are soldiers serving this holy army of Morr, and ought properly to have awaited orders. We would have dealt with the brutes as best we saw fit.”

The archer stared down at his feet. Biagino wondered whether the act of rebellion had given the man any real satisfaction, considering all that he had likely lost to the brutes. It was a small revenge for the conquest and looting of an entire principality. The archer could hardly be said to look proud about what he had done. Or, thought Biagino, perhaps he was simply afraid of the potentially brutal consequences of being caught disobeying orders in a time of war?

“Look now,” commanded the general. “You will tell us exactly what happened. Speak.”

The man winced, then began his tale. “News came of what had happened at Scorcio, the brute Gollig one of the first to hear it. He was laughing, which wasn’t like him, and I wondered what was so funny. Then Enzo, who’d heard what had been said, stepped up to him and stuck him with a knife, deep into his belly. That stopped the laughing, but o’course it didn’t put Gollig down. He broke Enzo’s neck with a back-handed blow, then started shouting that we were all maggots, and asking who else wanted a slap. I could see he wasn’t himself, but whether that was the knife still buried in him or because he knew there was going to be trouble now that he and his kind had become enemies of the very army they were serving with, I don’t know. Enzo’s brother, Luca, sent an arrow to accompany the knife, then umpteen lads started filling him with shafts too. Even before he fell some of the others had run into the brute’s tents to cut their throats before they woke. And some managed it, but not all, because the brutes were roused by the noise and began fighting back. A lot of men were killed, we were hard pressed, and it were going bad for us until the Pavonans turned up and joined in the fight. They had halberds, which cut broad and deep, and the blood flowed freely. It wasn’t easy, and a lot of good men died, but between us we did what had to be done and killed every one of them.”

It went very quiet in the square. For a moment Biagino thought that there might be applause for the prisoner, but none came. He sensed it was being held in check - there was probably no-one present who had anything but respect for the prisoner.

General d’Alessio glanced over at the gnomish clerk still scribbling at the paper. Then he spoke: “In light of the cruel tyranny of Boulderguts and his ogres, and their treacherous attack to the south of us, I am minded to excuse your actions. You and your comrades showed courage, and were willing to suffer as a consequence. Also, I would have it known that you bear no blame for the attack upon Scorcio. But I cannot forgive your indiscipline. Soldiers should act upon orders and not upon impulse, and so I hereby judge that you will serve a term of parole, under conditions to be set by myself and the council of war. This court martial is adjourned.”

Biagino once again was surprised by the abruptness with which the general brought things to a close. He knew exactly what the arch-lector had ordered – that the Pavonans be released into the custody of their own commander, and that the Campogrottans be freed only on provision that they continue to serve the arch-lector in whatever capacity he saw fit – yet had not realised how quickly such a declaration would be made. Only two out of more than three dozen men had been questioned, and neither had been pressed to reveal anything other than what they wanted to say. Perhaps this was the military way? No room for lawyers and cross examinations; no place for bickering, wrangling or disputation.

Not that he was unhappy about it, for now they could get back the important matter of waging war against the vampires. Or should that be the war against vampires and ogres?
Last edited by Padre on Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Wed Nov 18, 2015 11:38 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

End of Season 6 General Report, Part 4 of 4

A Letter to Lord Lucca Vescucci of Verezzo

To my most noble lord, from your loyal servant Antonio Mugello. May this missive find you blessed by all the gods, in good health and prosperous. I humbly present all that I have learned from my travels and conversations over these last summer months concerning the realm of Tilea. Having carefully sifted, examined, compared and weighted all that I have learned, I humbly believe this report comes as close to the truth as is possible for a mere mortal to ascertain.
..
Arch-Lector Calictus II at last began his holy war early this summer, leading an alliance army of his own troops, several Viadazans of note and a brigade of Campogrottan ogres and men. He marched northwards from Remas. While Duke Scaringella remains Captain General of the armies of Remas, he also remained in the city, and so it is General d’Alessio, the Viadazan hero of Pontremola, who commands this great Morrite alliance army upon the march and in the field of battle. Of course, his holiness Calictus II attends the army’s councils, acting as would a liege lord, but chooses not to shoulder the burden of tactical command.

At the town of Scorcio they halted to dwell a while in the army camp constructed for their use by the Pavonans, and there they were joined by the Pavonan Lord Silvano Gondi, Gonfalonieri of the newly conquered city realm of Trantio. The young lord’s father, Duke Guidobaldo, had left him to rule while he himself returned to Pavona, and there has been considerable debate concerning whether the duke intended his son to abandon the city so soon to join with the army of Morr! Lord Silvano took a substantial brigade of veteran Pavonan soldiers with him, making the conjoined force mighty one indeed. And yet even more was on the way, for another force, paid and sent by Lord Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore, consisting of the arabyan mercenaries known as the Sons of the Desert, is intended also to join them. But they were sent too late to reach Calictus this summer, and are now believed to be close behind. They could thus provide a ready source of reinforcements some time in Autumn, and will no doubt be most welcome to the arch lector in light of what happened at the end of summer (which I will detail below in its proper place.)

This holy Morrite army moved quickly to attack and capture Viadaza – or I suppose, as the Viadazans amongst their number would say, re-capturing it. The defeated vampire Lord Adolfo fled away with the ragged remnants of his army using the last remaining ships and boats in the harbour escaping even as the arch lector’s soldiers began pouring in through the breaches blasted by their cannons. The victors then began the horrible business of cleansing the befouled city, burning putrid corpses by the thousand in order to prevent them from rising yet again to fight, and to prevent disease ravaging their camp. Of course, burning the dead is not the usual way of the Morrite church, but when it comes to corpses tainted by evil magic apt to stir once again upon unholy nights if allowed to lie in the ground, the church actively encourages cremation. Indeed, when there are mountainous heaps of them, I doubt there is any other sensible way to proceed.

This victory brought hope to those who dwell in northern Tilea, being the first occasion in two years the undead had lost something which they had taken, the first truly effective blow delivered against them. Even when the vampire duke perished at Pontremola and his decimated army retreated from the field, nevertheless the undead dominion widened, for Viadaza was captured and corrupted that very same week - thus the victorious peasant crusaders lost their home even though they won the battle. Now, however, a battle was won and this time the enemy has definitely been pushed back. The vampire Lord Adolfo fled with his tail between his legs, in all likelihood running to his wicked mistress. Perhaps she, being a heartless creature of evil, will kill him as punishment for his failure? Whatever she does, she will surely recognise that her hold on the north has weakened. The victory failed to bring much joy to the Morrite alliance army, however, as they were busy about their nauseous and noisome task in the city. Instead they felt only trepidation concerning when the vampire Duchess would strike.

There are very few alive who can reliably report on exactly what is happening within the far north-west, where the walking dead shuffle and shamble about their foul errands. According to the handful of brave Urbiman spies who have ventured forth into that hellish domain, the vampire duchess Maria has now established her rule both in Miragliano and Ebino. The first was once her uncle’s realm and would now be hers by right of inheritance if she were still alive; the second she herself ruled before she turned. The Urbiman spies report the undead fought bitterly amongst themselves over the winter and spring months, which is why their advance southward slowed. Most educated men agree this is most likely, for when the vampire duke perished, his lieutenants were left leaderless. Such cruel and vain creatures most likely set upon each other to claw their bloody way to power, and in the end the vampire duchess Maria won the struggle. As to what strength she can now muster in the field no-one knows. Nor can anyone claim knowledge of her intentions, but her realm is large, with a plentiful supply of charnel pits and graveyards from which she can increase her marching strength. Perhaps she had intended Lord Adolfo to hold Viadaza, but now perchance he will instead join her in to increase her marching strength? But I must write no more concerning this in case I give the false impression that I have any true understanding of these matters. The far north of Tilea remains a darkly shrouded place, despite the vivid nightmares it weaves across the whole of Tilea.

At the end of summer terrible news came to the grand Morrite alliance army’s camp at Viadaza. They learned that the town of Scorcio, in the northern part of the realm of Trantio, had been attacked, looted and razed by a large force of ogres led by the Campogrottan Tyrant Razger Boulderguts. This led to a bloody, arguably mutinous, incident in the army camp as the downtrodden men of Campogrotta turned against their brute masters and killed them. They could well have been looking for an opportunity to do this for some time, but until now were hindered by the fact that the arch-lector seemed to consider the ogres a useful and important addition to his force. They were helped by several Pavonans, themselves looking for vengeance over the sacking of Scorcio, one of their young lord's possessions.

I have heard it said more than once how these two make strange bedfellows – the Campogrottans being a conquered people, the Pavonans being conquerors. An alliance of convenience, perhaps? Considering the Campogrottan men are merely peasant soldiers, and outcasts from their own realm, it is no alliance of equals. How this internal conflict will affect the holy army of Morr has yet to be seen - their losses in ogres were just as bad in this incident as in the assault on Viadaza. Yet there is an entire mercenary army of Arabyans on its way to them so perhaps the arch-lector’s field strength can be maintained despite these troubles? What the arch-lector will do in response is a topic of much speculation. If he considers Boulderguts his enemy, which most folk assume must be the case, then he is close to being entirely surrounded by foes, and cut off from his own city. Will he turn south again now, his fight against the vile undead very much unfinished, or can he risk lingering in the far north to complete what he has begun?

It is a much-discussed mystery why the Campogrottan Lord Nicolo and his tyrant ogre Boulderguts sent a force including ogres along with the Morrite alliance army, when he apparently intended simultaneously to attack the Tilean realms also supporting that army. Many suppose that if the ogres had lived they would certainly have gone about some other treacherous, murderous activity. Of course, the Campogrottan brigade set off many months before Trantio was taken by the Pavonans, so it cannot be presumed that the ogres had particular enemies in mind. Perhaps their presence was intended to poison the Morrite army, to weaken it fatally, or at the least to make it unfit to return to Trantio to aid its defence? When Boulderguts discovered the realm of Trantio to be ruled by servants of the Pavonan Duke rather than the Trantian Prince I doubt he would have thought twice about continuing his assault, for why would it matter to him who exactly he looted from? He consumed the realm of Ravola leaving only the barest of bones to show what once was. In truth, it was perhaps inevitable that the ogres would turn south to continue to feed their lust for loot. I am loath to admit that I failed entirely to recognise that Bouldergut's assault on Ravola revealed his true nature, and what (of course) he would do again and again until stopped.

I now wonder whether there is an evil alliance between the wizard Lord Nicolo and the vampire Duchess Maria. It has for some time now been conjectured that Nicolo, impossibly ancient as he is, is himself a vampire. If so, then it occurs to me he may well have been the root cause of the curse that so recently brought Miragliano so low. Perhaps the vampires that have come to dominate the far north were begotten of him? One might counter that vampires lead only the armies of the dead, which means Lord Nicolo cannot be so, but why couldn’t a vampire hire an army of ogres to fight for him? Perhaps he believed them to be a better fighting force than the shambling hordes of undead, and in an urge to gain power by the best means possible, preferred living muscle to magically animated sinews? Perhaps Lord Nicolo recognised that the people of Campogrotta would never serve him, even begrudgingly, if they suspected what he was, and so thought it best to rule through the whip-wielding hands of brutes?

The existence of such a vampire alliance could explain the timing of the attack upon Scorcio, for both sides have gained much - the Campogrottan ogres able to plunder almost freely now that the fighting men of Remas and Trantio have marched northwards, while the Duchess Maria benefits from the confusion, doubt and weakening of the grand alliance army just as it began to get to grips with her newly won realm. Furthermore, my lord, I would ask you to consider this: As the ogres satisfy their hunger - looting, slaughtering, devouring - they leave behind them a wasteland – exactly the sort of ruinous realm that would suit vampires perfectly. Once the ogres are sated and have moved on elsewhere, the undead could simply move in to take possession of the strongholds and raise hordes of servants from the unguarded graveyards and tombs to re-populate the realm. Both parties obtain exactly what they desire. If the wizard lord Nicolo is indeed a vampire, then sending a hired horde of ogres before him to destroy the land could be considered a strategy of terrible and wicked genius. I admit that this is mere speculation on my behalf, for no-one seems even to have witnessed the wizard lord of Campogrotta, not even those Campogrottans who escaped his ghostly yet tyrannical regime (which in itself could lend more weight to the theory that he is a vampire, hiding his face from his conquered people).

The only good to come so far from this situation - and I do not write this flippantly but rather as you commanded my honesty in communications - is that in light of Duke Guidobaldo’s recent, unwarranted, unfair and untrue threats against your lordship, the ogres’ assault upon his newly won territories might well be considered good news, for he must surely now be too distracted to continue his aggression against Verezzo. How can he continue his attempts to inflate his feigned grudge into a reason to go to war (and further increase his possessions) when a massive force of plundering ogres are even now rending their way through his Trantine possessions? Surely, he must now look only to defend rather than attack?

...

As the garden of war in the north blossoms with blood red blooms, in the south its tired, browning petals are falling away. The forces of the VMC continue to pursue the scattered remnants of Khurnag’s Waagh. Even though many of the goblinoids apparently dissipated at the ultramontane mercenaries’ mere approach, nevertheless enough remain to require the VMC's continued efforts. The greenskins, however numerous, have been fatally wounded by the lack of a leader to unite them. Such has always been true of goblinoids, who harbour a hatred for each other just as strong as that they feel for men, a flaw that can only be subdued by an awe-inspiring warboss. When leaderless they become more an annoyance than a real danger.

As nothing has been heard from Monte Castello in several months, not one boat nor even a lone traveller coming thence, it is supposed that it fell to the greenskins some time ago and that any Tileans who remain there are either dead or held prisoner. No-one knows the fate of Pugno, but its isolated situation, sitting beside the very route many of the greenskins are thought to have travelled from the Border Princes, does not bode well for its survival. Thus it is that even though the VMC are unlikely again to face a grand field army like that which attacked them at Tursi, they may well still have their work cut out if they are to secure the south-eastern parts of Tilea: to make Alcente and Pavezzano safe, and to clear Monte Castello and Pugno of squabbling bands of goblins. It is commonly complained that the VMC will only complete their task if there is profit in it, and that if a goblin infested settlement was irreparably ruined they would simply pass it by as of no interest. I myself am not so sure of this last contention for they have rebuilt Pavezzano and invited many to settle there under their protection, and that was presumably in a very bad state of repair after its occupation by the goblins of the Little Waagh! Some others claim that the VMC would be happier bribing the goblins to leave, although most laugh at this suggestion, pointing out that the northerners have fought well enough so far, not only defeating Khurnag's Waagh but somehow finding the time to punish Raverno along the way. These are not the actions of a wary or weak force. If anything, the VMC will become more of a threat once the greenskins are dealt with, for surely they will turn their attentions to other potential sources of profit, and will care not if said sources are in Tilean hands. As is commonly heard on the streets of Pavona: “A foreigner is a foreigner, whether his ears are pointed, his skin green or his accent northern.”

Lastly, I wish to tell you of something that is most likely already known to you. If so, pray forgive me and know that I would be remiss if I did not mention it. The Estalian brigade Compagnia del Sol has begun sending letters to various rulers and powers in Tilea, suggesting that in light of the conjoined threats of vampires, ogres and greenskins, their military skill and strength are surely needed. They boast that through the hard fighting they have experienced in Estalia thwarting the rebellious northern and eastern lords, they have become a much more dependable force than their recently dispersed Tilean cousins ever were, and they claim that they are of at least equal strength. They intend to land agents at the western coast port cities, and have already begun to suggest that one state alone need not pay them entirely, for it might be arranged that two employers might share the cost, perhaps several many sovereign states each paying a mere portion of their fee, so that all can benefit from the protection of a large and potent fighting force which would otherwise prove too expensive for their purses. If then joined by detachments of native militia and troops to further bolster their numbers, an army the likes of which has not been seen for decades in Tilea might be forged. I cannot say whether or not their boasts and promises are true, but as a good many of them are Tileans by birth, and are only called Estalian due to dwelling this last decade in that place, then they could indeed prove to be sturdy warriors in the defence of Tilea.
Last edited by Padre on Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:20 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

The First to Leave
Prequel to the Fight Outside Astiano
Trantio, early Autumn IC2402

On almost any other occasion what they were doing would be considered reckless, culpably so – to ride so fast, almost a gallop, through the city, especially as it was done in the middle of the day when the streets were at their most crowded. But they had orders from the duke himself specifying their haste, and they would not wish to disappoint their employer. What with the duke’s own officers watching their passage, a leisurely ride would not do. They had a reputation to maintain. And besides, it was fun.

Today the streets were even busier than usual, jammed with every cart, coach and carriage the city possessed, all those that could be taken from the surrounding farms and villages, as well as mules, oxen, donkeys, asses and two-legged servants. All were to be loaded with goods and possessions, and if not already packed, then they had goods piled about them yet to be hefted, whilst more still were dragged from every house. As Gillvas and his comrades clattered along, their mounts’ hooves throwing up sparks from the stone paving, the cluttered narrowness of the way meant umpteen citizens had to throw themselves against walls, dodge hastily into doorways or even duck beneath the wagons. Whereas normally they might gasp and gawp at such riders, elves being a rarity on Tilean streets (certainly armoured elves upon snow-white horses) now, however, there was little time for such curiosity, what with the pressing need to avoid being trampled at the forefront of most people’s minds.

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It was a shame, thought Gillvas, for he knew that his company was a sight to behold – finer than any gaudily bedecked Tilean knight sweating and grunting beneath heavy plate, more skilful and nimble than all but the very best of human light horseman. The mercenary Sharlian Riders favoured green for cloaks and barding, and even their scaled skirts and horse barding were lacquered to match. Although the rest of their garb and trappings were of more muted, natural hues, the flawlessly white hides and manes of their mighty mounts gave them a brightness which more than matched any red, blue or purple surcoat or shield. Gillvas held his finely carved lance aloft, and like his companions had eyes suitably keen and wits sufficiently quick to ensure he always dipped it just in time whenever they rode beneath a laundry line or balcony. The only thing marking him out from the other riders was that he wore a hood, a habit that had brought laughter from his blonde-haired companions the day they realised he did so because of his black hair. As Phraan had pointed out, it was a dilemma – to hide that which made him different he had to make himself look different. To which Ruven riposted it was only a dilemma because Gillvas refused to wear a yellow periwig.

Gillvas noticed how several onlookers frowned or scowled as they rode by. He doubted that this was because their thundering passage was troublesome, or merely that they were elves, nor even due to them serving Trantio’s recent conqueror, Duke Guidobaldo of Pavona. No, it was because their unusually rapid progress gave every impression that they were leaving the city hurriedly, as if to escape before everyone else. He couldn’t help smiling at the thought, for it was partly true. They were indeed leaving, although it was not an escape, it was obedience. While everyone else was to travel south to find refuge elsewhere in the Duke’s realms, the Sharlian Riders were to travel north, carrying orders to the Duke’s only surviving son, Lord Silvano, then to serve him as reinforcements for his own little army.

As they rounded a bend in the street onto the stretch that led to the Ponte Grande and the city’s eastern gate Ruven, riding upon Gillvas’ right, shouted to him: “Have a care, Gillvas. Those mules can give a nasty kick.”

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Nearly all Ruven’s utterances were jests, which before battle could be a welcome thing, and was thoroughly entertaining when carousing in some tavern. The rest of the time it could be bothersome to have to weigh each comment to determine whether it was based on some truth or mere fancy. When he glanced at the mules in question they were pulling away from the galloping horses, no threat at all.

Then something upon the other side of the street caught Gillvas’ eye. Two children, hurtling down an alley, now stumbling and halting in surprise at the sight before them.

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Ragamuffin boys come to see the fey riders, their eyes wide and their heads filled with whatever nonsense some uncle or grandfather had told them concerning elvenkind. Better they consider what they have heard about ogres, thought Gillvas, and be about packing or carrying or whatever else their mothers or masters have told them to do. He knew only too much about ogres. Children like that were nothing but morsels of meat to a hungry brute. He felt a pang of guilt, or sorrow, or both, but it was soon diminished when he reminded himself that the population was leaving and so the boys stood at least a chance of surviving.

Outpaced only by the company’s pennant-bearer, and a little ahead of Gillvas, Captain Presrae rode his ‘unicorn’. It was that beast which caught most eyes, and most probably was responsible for the two boys’ sudden awe. Humans will fall for almost anything, thought Gillvas, if the subterfuge is subtle, the legerdemain apparently legitimate. And not just children, but full-grown men too. Only the youngest of elves would look at the captain’s mount and think it any other than a wild-mained stallion sporting a false horn of oversized proportions.

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Amongst men, however, it was an easy deception.

’You can look, but do not approach too close,’ Captain Presrae would say. ’Moondown is a proud and fierce mount who allows only a few to touch him.’

One young Reman had spent more than three weeks in the painting of the horse, and sold the likeness for a considerable sum, paying the agreed proportion to Presrae, of course. Not once had the captain divulged his secret, or let slip some remark to give the game away. Only his own men knew the truth, as well as how to mix the necessary glue so well that not once had the huge horn dislodged itself. Even now Presrae rode Moondown in all apparent earnestness, no saddle nor harness nor bridle, like some legendary hero. It was an act that paid dividends. How many other mercenaries in Tilea had lords tumbling over each other to contract them? Duke Guidobaldo himself was so taken by Moondown, and the rest of the company, that he paid ridiculously well to hire them, as well as recompensing the arch-lector the full amount in gold which he had originally paid to hire them. The Sharlian Riders had only come to Trantio to escort a priestly emissary with complaints about the War of the Princes, and were supposed then to return to Remas. But who says no when a duke offers to pay twice for you?

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“There’s our noble commander that was,” said Ruven, pointing towards the wizard Belastra, acting governor of Trantio. “I still say we are not the strange ones here.”

“We’ll have real Tilean nobility ordering us soon enough,” said Gillvas.

“True. Although t’would be better it were a man and not a boy.”

Belastra had an armoured guard by him, bearing a plume that showed him to be a Pavonan state army captain. He himself carried a wooden staff and wore loose robes of a somewhat arabyan fashion. Unusually for a wizard, he had become lieutenant-governor of the city while the new Gonfaloniere ‘for life’ Lord Polcario was away. Perhaps he had relished the prospect of ruling an entire city state? If so, then receiving Duke Guidobaldo’s orders to strip the city bare of all wealth, supplies, livestock and people, then flee, must have come as a disappointment to him. He had to do so quickly, however, before the ogres arrived, so it was unlikely he had much time to brood over the vagaries of fortune. The Pavonan duke wanted to deny the ogres all that they desired – pillaging and looting, cruel sports and tortures. It just so happened that in the process he had also denied Belastra whatever sports, cruel or otherwise, he had been looking forward to.

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Of course, there was no scowl from the wizard as they passed. He knew exactly where the riders where going and why, for it was him who had passed on the orders. Instead there was something else writ in his stare – trepidation, perhaps even fear. Gillvas found it hard to be certain, human faces were not easy for elves to read, twisted as they were so often into grotesque distortions of a kind rarely employed by elves. It was likely to be fear, he decided, for the Sharlian Riders would have made a vast difference to the martial escort of such a train as was about to leave Trantio. There were very few, if any, could compare to them for outriders and scouts, and as horse-soldiers they packed a lot more punch than any Border Princes stradiot or Estalian jinette, whilst outmanoeuvring any Tilean man-at-arms with ease. (None of which, it so happened, were available to Belastra.) Soon to command a city-sized rabble of refugees, Belastra must surely have regretted having to send the elves away.

Beside the wizard was a bunch of mercenary crossbowmen, no doubt acting as his guards during such troubled times. It is no easy thing to make the entire populace of a city the size of Trantio abandon their homes and livelihoods. Although some were willing enough, for fear of what was coming, many believed it would be better to defend the city, and of those a significant number went beyond thinking to voicing their opinion, shouting their disagreement, perhaps even swinging a fist to make their point a little more forcefully. No surprise then to find the man tasked with ensuring their obedience so guarded.

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The crossbowmen were the last surviving fragment of the once large Tilean Compagnia del Sole mercenary company. Their comrades had all either perished during the War of the Princes or afterwards during the furore over the death of a certain Reman ambassador carrying important letters from the arch-lector requiring immediate cessation of that war. These men, one of two large companies of crossbowmen who had been defending Trantio’s walls, had somehow negotiated the tricky path between being enemies and allies. In fact, they had done so so successfully that they had now been paid twice! Ruven had laughed for an hour after seeing Captain Presrae’s face upon hearing the news. The Sharlian Riders had similarly been paid for twice, but they themselves received only one of the payments, the other going to the Reman arch-lector, their previous employer. The crossbowmen, formally enemies of Pavona, and hated ones at that, had received both payments: the first to contract them as a standing force for the city, serving to guard the duke’s newly won realm from both unrest within and enemies without; the second came only a few months later when their contract was re-negotiated entirely to make them a part of the Pavonan marching army. For half an hour Ruven’s merriment derived from his description of the captain’s immediate reaction to the news, then for the next half hour it was fuelled by his lyrical exploration of Ruven’s subsequent thoughts as he no doubt wondered how he might do the same. Only Ruven could turn several moment’s silent expression into a tumbling comedic wordplay lasting an hour.

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One of the crossbowmen’s sergeants stood upon the flank gesturing towards the riders with a quarrel. Perhaps he too, thought Gillvas, was waxing lyrical about the very same topic? What else do such mercenaries concern themselves with, if not money? Maybe wine and wenches, but foremost comes money, for it is that which makes the wine more accessible (and better) and the women more amenable (and better).

It was with that thought in mind that he glanced to the other side of the street and saw three Trantian maids watching from the doorway of a mean looking house. One glance and he knew they were exactly the type known to the crossbowmen. One stood apart from others, hands on hips, yellow bodice pulled tight, a wry smile on her face as if what she knew amused her. The others were clutching hens, which made Gillvas smile. The people of Trantio were even taking the poultry with them! If the ogres did not hurry they would find not one morsel of flesh, fish or fowl, not one egg, olive nor even a grain of wheat remaining. And that would hurt, what with them having the sort of appetite that took whole hogs to satisfy, and thirsts requiring gallons of wine rather than cups. It almost made him feel sorry for them.

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Then he spotted a grey priest lurking close to the wenches, watching from the semi-concealment of a little alleyway. An ugly sort of man (although there were few men that elves did not think somewhat disagreeable in appearance), with a tonsured pate and garbed in a coarse, woollen cassock and sandals. Gyllvas was not surprised – one could go nowhere in Trantio these days without meeting a Morrite cleric or two. Luckily for him and his comrades, the priests had no desire to preach to elves. He had thought Remas an overly pious sort of place, swarming with devout followers of Morr wailing about the dead, until he discovered the Pavonans had their own kind of Morrite faith, which they claimed to be the most perfect form, which was even more onerous. The Pavonan Morrites expected that one’s every thought must be pure, not simply one’s actions, and that each failing in this regard required some sacrifice or penance. What with Trantio having been, according to Pavonan propaganda, under the rule of a cruel and tainted tyrant prince, as soon as the soldiers had captured it a swarm of lesser Morrite clergy followed to begin the work of admonishing, instructing, correcting. The Trantians had not exactly been overjoyed at this holier-than-thou guidance. And right now, they must be wondering why they put up with it at all if they were going to lose all they had anyway. Such sentiments probably explained why the priest skulking in the alleyway had a Pavonan handgunner by his side.

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“Think of your death, Gyllvas,” shouted Ruven. “There’s a jolly priest watching us.”

Gyllvas could not help but laugh, for only the night before Ruven had regaled the company with a cruelly rhetorical discourse concerning how the Reman priests of Morr had marched north into a land of walking dead to face legions in battle, while their brethren, these Pavonan clergy, bravely battled daily to teach the Trantians not to slur the words of their prayers and the proper penance for picking their noses. Still, it did not matter whether the people enjoyed their reformation, or were happy with their new lords, if they wanted to live at then they had to leave as ordered. Whether they would then all go where they have been told to, carrying burdens for their Pavonan conquerors and mercenary guards, remained to be seen.

At the head of the riders flew their pennant of green silk, bearing a white branch.

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Over the bridge (no mean feat what with the wagons clustered at either end) and out through the gate they rode. As he emerged onto the ancient highway Gyllvas glanced back at the walls. He wondered if Belastra would burn the city. If he was so thoroughly removing everything else, why leave the ogres any shelter?

What with destruction wrought by vampires and ogres, and now the Tileans razing their own settlements, it seemed possible the whole northern half of the peninsula would soon be in ruins.

It was not the happiest of thoughts to have while riding northwards.
Last edited by Padre on Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:19 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Nice atmospheric piece, as always. Loving the fake unicorn! The volume and variety in your collection never ceases to amaze.
My Oldhammer blog: The Lost and the Damned
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Post Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:10 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Thanks Subedai. :D

What Happened Outside Astiano
Battle Report, Part One

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The boys had found a place to talk where they would not be disturbed. As the city was so crowded with newly arrived soldiers and the survivors from Trantio (though nowhere near as crowded as it might have been if things had turned out differently) there were few places left where the boys could talk without being overheard or, more annoyingly, someone telling them they ought to be doing something else. Here in a damp anti-cellar beneath the last remaining ruins of the ancient amphitheatre they would not be disturbed. It was hardly habitable, and certainly no-one would think to sleep there (what with the abundant stories of ratto uomo lurking there) but it seemed fine for an hour’s talk, during the day.

Tommi had been the first to go in and Vitty was the last, as always. Aldo, his head still reeling with all that he had seen, hadn’t noticed if Fran went in before or after him. Not that he cared either way – not like Tommi or Vitty. Once in he sat down straight away. He was not sure what on, only that it was hard. Tommi lifted some rubbish out of the way to clear a little area, while Vitty repeated “Is it alright?” several times. Finally, Fran said, “Yeah, Vitty. S’fine. And anyway, we’ll keep an eye out for trouble.”

As soon as they had all agreed that this was the place to talk, Tommi, the biggest of the boys, turned to Aldo. “You can’t have seen it all,” he said. “It makes no sense. You weren’t outside and you weren’t on the wall.”

Aldo smiled knowingly. It wasn’t that he was feeling cock-sure, rather that he had always corrected Tommi with that smile and so he did unintentionally. “You’re right,” he said. “I wasn’t in any of those places. I was in the gate tower, and I had a window all to myself.”

“You’re lying,” said Fran. “There was a cannon mounted on that tower which burned up bad. If you were there then why aren’t you burned?”

“And why would they let you stay there?” asked Tommi.

“They didn’t know I was there, because whenever anyone passed through, up or down and either side, I hid in a pile of sacks. I climbed in one, see, and when I heard anything close I closed it over me. Just one more sack in the pile.”

“So why aren’t you burned?” asked Vitty.

“Did you run away before it blew up?” added Tommi in a mocking tone. “Or was the sack a soggy one?”

“Shut up, Tommi. You don’t know anything. The cannon was up above me, a stone roof between me and it. I heard it, felt it.” He hesitated. “I looked up afterwards, when it went quiet.”

The others stared at him with bated breath. He said nothing, his own eyes suddenly seeming to lose sight of his friends, as if he could see something else.

“What did you see?” said Vitty. “Was it horrible?”

Aldo frowned as his eyes unfocused. “Yes. It was. But it wasn’t the worst thing I saw.”

The others just waited now. Aldo knew he was going to tell them about the battle – why else had they come here? But now, just as it was expected of him, he wondered if he could. Then, surprising himself, he suddenly realised he had already started talking.

“The soldiers from Trantio arrived first – all foot and no horse. There were two lots of crossbowmen and a crazy looking engine that looked like a barrel of handguns tipped on its side. Behind them – some way off, was a train of wagons, and lots of people: men and women and kids too. I thought the soldiers would stop outside the walls, to make sure the people and the wagons got in. But they didn’t. They had two grey haired men with them, in robes and carrying staffs – wizards, real ones – who shouted them in, so they marched straight through the gate. Then I had to become a sack again because they came up onto the wall and passed right through the chamber. They went both ways out onto the wall until one lot was on one side and the other was on the other. I thought the engine would come in through the gate too, but one of the wizards shouted there was no time – no time to mount it he said - and so it halted just outside the gate.

“Then I heard screaming outside, so I looked through the window. The men, loads of them, had come away from the crowd with the wagons. It was the women and children who were screaming, and I thought the men were going to run through the gate like the soldiers had done leaving the others behind. But they didn’t. Instead they all came together, marching like soldiers beside the wall, with some big fella shouting orders.

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“But they weren’t soldiers. They passed close under my window. They had no swords, no armour; just sticks, pitchforks, clubs, scythes. Sharp and nasty stuff, but not soldiers’ weapons.”

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“Where were our militia?” demanded Fran. “They mustered, I know it ‘cos I saw them a-marching through the streets, flag held high. They’ve got proper weapons – pikes, so they must have gone out to fight.”

“I saw them alright,” said Aldo. “Marched right up to the gate they did. But they didn’t go out. One of them wizards shouted ‘Hold!’ and they stopped. I heard him clear ‘cos he was only on the other side of the door to me.”

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“That can’t be right,” said Vitty. “What with them Trantians outside being chased. The militia must have gone out to help them.”

“No,” said Aldo, going pale. He sniffed. “I wish they had. I didn’t know it then – I just wondered what was going on. But now I wish they had. They stood on the inside of the gate, and close. I thought it might be some sort of trick.”

The other boys already had an idea why Aldo was upset - there were rumours all over the city. Just now, however, they were beginning to get an inkling that the truth might be more horrible.

“There was a lot of banging and clattering up above, where the cannon was” continued Aldo. “And someone shouting ‘Make her ready’. I heard that a few times later on, in between the bangs. The voice got quieter, I think, but my ears were ringing so maybe it was just them playing up?

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“Then someone else cried the same words and I looked out the window. Down below the war engine that came from Trantio was being cranked and three iron balls were rolled into it from a plank they had been sitting on. The gunners were Pavonans, blue and white – like the men on the cannon up on top.” Aldo had wondered at the time why the soldiers had made so much effort to get that to Astiano first, before the wagons and the poor folk of Trantio, but he didn’t mention that now.

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“Complicated it was, that engine, a mess of levers and gears. I couldn’t make much sense of it so I looked out across the field to the wagons. They were crammed with stuff, piled high, and the horses pulling them looked to be in a bad way. There was no room left for people on them, so a little crowd came alongside them.”

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The other three boys looked at each other. They already knew the deadly fate of that crowd, just not the whys and wherefores of what happened.

“Why didn’t they just come in with the crossbowmen?” asked Tommi. “Why’d they lag behind like they did?”

Aldo frowned. “I think they were going as fast as they could. Lots of them were old, or little ‘uns. And the mothers amongst them were carrying even smaller ones. And all of them had bags and other burdens. I think when the men marched off they left their stuff with them.”

Now it was Vitty’s turn to frown. “Why would the men do that?”

“Oh, I don’t think they left to run away. They were still trying to look after them. I think they went off so that they could try to stop the brutes.”

“You saw the brutes then?” asked Vitty.

Aldo stifled a laugh. Not a happy sort of laugh, but the nervous sort that can turn into sobs. “When they came I thought they were nearer than they were, ‘cos they were all so big. Grey skinned, wearing nothing but breeches and plates of armour, and carrying blades the size of doors. And there were monsters in amongst them, like giant, hairy bulls, with more brutes on their backs. I always thought they’d be a bit like the brute caravan guards, except more wild and ragged, all screams and wailing and cavorting about, but they weren’t. They came on in a great long line, like the militia on parade, neat and tidy and in step; and some were shouting with voices like drums, or horns pretending to be drums. I think that’s what kept them in line.”

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“They didn’t stay so neat, though, lined and ready for a battle. I reckon they saw that some of the of Trantians were already in, and that there was no-one apart from a little company of handgunners and the Trantio mob between them and the walls, so they broke into a run, which made the ground thunder. Everyone on the walls kept shouting ‘Steady, steady,’ over and over.”

……

Game Notes:
This time I’m gonna put these in but separate from the story sections. What follows is the scenario rules I had made up and modified again in consultation with the players:

Forces:
Ogres = 2600 points not including the ruler lord.
Pavona = 750 Empire troops, 350 points of Astiano standing force (Empire) + a free mob of Trantians, guarding 3 wagons (each worth half a campaign supply point in loot) + crowd of women & children (worth half a campaign supply point in loot).

Objective(s):
To enter the city the Pavonan wagons must make contact with the gate.
The ogres must contact the wagons to count as taking them. Ogres cannot overrun wagons, but halt before the wagon to count as securing the loot. They can then move from there next turn, dragging the wagon (or crowd) with them if they wish.
But … this is a campaign game. The players might have different motives. Maybe destruction? Maybe damaging the enemy’s fighting strength in the hope that a later battle will be easier? And although the players might try for the above objectives if they wish, their priority might well be the survival of an effective fighting force, again for next or subsequent turns. Who am I as GM to dictate what they are trying to do? I just adjudicate the game, take the pictures, write the battle report, and gamesmaster the campaign turns, etc.

Rules:
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The Ogre deploys in the far corner from the gate section. If there is insufficient space then the remaining units can arrive in the second or subsequent turns.
The Pavonan fighting forces can deploy anywhere on their half of the table, but as either side’s units are placed, no-one can deploy within 12” of an enemy unit. (First deployment could thus be important – forcing either side back.)
The wagons can be deployed in whatever manner the player likes, behind the 19” (from the gate) line. This means that one, maybe two, could reach the gate in turn 5, and one, perhaps two in turn 6. As soon as they touch the gate they are removed (counted as having passed through to safety).
The draught horses can be whipped to make them move faster. GM to come up with charts in-game. (See later.) And yes, they were whipped.
The women and children can march move, and are also removed if they touch the gate. Their move rate is 3” (old women, young women burdened with babes and possessions, children, old men). This mob also starts anywhere behind the 19” line.
The ogres cannot besiege the city walls as they have been pelting here at full speed and have not made any ladders to do so. (If they do decide to besiege that would be in the next campaign season turn.)
All other ideas and tactics would be GM’d on the day.

Casualties:
Casualties are recovered as per the ‘drawing armies’ rules. Either side is too focused on the loot to worry about chasing after the enemy, and both sides have lots of opportunities to avoid further fighting (either the defenders getting into the city by another gate or the attackers wandering off to look elsewhere for loot and grub). These rules (see below) mean that the Pavonan player can keep his baggage simply by not letting the ogres capture or destroy it – he does not need to get to the gate. If the ogres haven’t captured it by the end of turn 6, it will be presumed to have got away and gone through some other city gate. Also, any refugees or soldiers who are still alive outside the walls will escape back to the city too.

Drawing armies (i.e. who agree to cease hostilities or cannot fight on for other reasons)
All troops on the table survive. Regain all troops who routed off the table, plus one third of all casualties on the table (rounding down). Lose all casualties from Destroyed units. Dead heroes are recovered on 5+ roll, unless they were “over-killed”. On D6 roll of 5+ recovered characters roll on the Character Injury Chart. Only lose baggage if it was destroyed or captured during the battle.


Battle to Follow
Last edited by Padre on Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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