Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)


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Post Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:39 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

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

A Letter to Lord Lucca Vescucci of Verezzo

This to my most noble lord, from your loyal servant Antonio Mugello. I pray this missive finds you blessed by all the gods, and that the realm of Verezzo lies both happy and secure. I hereby and in all modesty present that which I have discovered this Autumn, having made every effort to ascertain what is true from the chaff of tittle tattle and rumour. If I have been misled then I humbly assure you it is due to the mortal frailties I share with all men rather than any idleness or carelessness on my part.

First, I must explain that my movements have become curtailed by force of circumstance, as I have been trapped in Pavona for over a month due to Razger Boulderguts’ double-army of ogres rampaging all around Duke Guidobaldo’s city. Anyone foolish enough to venture out from the security of the stones would certainly suffer a terrible fate. In the face of this dire threat, when one might expect the Pavonans’ martial aspirations to shine, instead they have dimmed, for rather than fighting for what is theirs by right of conquest, they have retreated at every opportunity. They have even gone so far as to raze their own lands, thus hoping to disappoint the ogres’ expectations of loot, as well as deprive them of subsistence, and thus encourage the starving brutes to cease their encroachment and look elsewhere for satisfaction.

As I travelled upon the Via Aurelia I encountered many poor folk fleeing from Trantio, and so learned how the duke’s garrison soldiers had stripped the city itself and the villages and farmsteads of Preto of every moveable of value. Indeed, as they departed, they fired the city so as to deny even its roofs to the ogres. Boulderguts might be responsible for Scorcio’s destruction, but the Pavonans chose to deny the rest of the Trantine principality to him by themselves destroying it first. Many a poor Trantian curses the Pavonan duke’s name, and swears that Prince Girenzo, for all his pride and youthful ambition, could never have turned upon his own realm in such a way. The Pavonans bashed their way into Trantio, then burned their way out, and their rule was as short as it was cruel.

At Astiano it was plain to me that the walls could not possibly withstand a sustained attack by an army of brutes. Only last year the Pavonans had captured the city quickly and with a relatively modest force, battering the walls in doing so. Now those weakened walls faced a much greater threat, bigger in every meaning of the word, and would surely fall within days of the tyrant Boulderguts’ arrival. Consequently, I decided to continue onwards to Pavona itself, being the place in which I could best serve you by learning of Duke Guidobaldo’s plans. So it was that I found myself passing through the ruins of Venafro, destroyed by the Compagnia del Sole during the War of the Princes, and then through Casoli, which was being stripped by the Pavonan soldiery of all goods and stocks in a manner exactly like Trantio. It seems the duke has grown so timorous as to order the dismantling and destruction of his very own hereditary estates! Some said it was a sign of his strength that sentimentality and mercy did not stand in the way of his calculated strategy, yet to mine own eyes it appeared most strange to see the mighty army of Pavona become little more than a band of armed bailiffs collecting goods and chattels, while the people of Casoli wept and pleaded as if they too were a conquered people like the Trantians.

It became common knowledge, advertised by heralds in Pavona’s main piazzas, that the Duke had dispatched letters to all Tilean principalities to the south and west - including the boy king Ferronso, Lord Alessio Falconi, Conte Gabriele Mastroianni and your noble self. You, my lord, will of course know the truth of this, and indeed the actual contents of the letter. All I know is what was announced: that these princes had been asked to provide military aid in the war against Boulderguts, before the heart of Tilea was burned and the ashes consumed. I was surprised to hear nothing said in the declarations concerning any alliance betwixt Boulderguts and the vampire-duchess, for this remains a commonly held belief, especially in Pavona. It is said to explain why even in this hour of dire need the duke has not recalled his son and his ‘old army’ from the arch-lector’s holy war - if the ogres and undead are indeed allies, then Lord Silvano is already engaged in the fight for Pavona.

And yet it is rumoured throughout the city that in truth Lord Silvano has not fought for many months, instead being forced to bide his time in Viadaza, due to need to transport Gedik Mamidous’ mercenary army, the Sons of the Desert, over the swollen River Trantino. When this was finally done, arch-lector Calictus is said to have ordered the formation of a garrison from his now massively swollen forces, to remain in defence of the city, while declaring that he himself, Lord Silvano and the newly arrived arabyans, would soon march northwards to face the vampires.

Whether it is giddy fear brought on by Boulderguts’ threatening circumambulation of Pavona, or the schismatic Morrite tendencies rooted here, or simply their old bravado, I know not, but I have often heard it said (and I report this only so that you will understand the depth of the people’s impudence) that a priest like Calictus is not fit to lead an army, for it takes nothing but the thought of the winter’s wind to make him huddle by the fire in Viadaza, nursing hot, spiced wine and prayerfully contemplating how he might, when it is warmer, perhaps, should the rain cease and the winds diminish, possibly consider engaging the foe. Letters sent home by Lord Silvano’s soldiers reveal that there is considerable faction and strife in Viadaza concerning the best course of action. Fanatics preach either caution or action, but mostly action, and the soldiers grow frustrated that they are being employed as mere labourers, clearing streets and repairing walls rather than bringing the war to a swift conclusion.

I fear the vampire duchess does not share such a tendency for tardiness, and her forces are unlikely to suffer such divisions. The arch-lector’s delay allows her to grow even stronger, when she was already strong. Having been forced by my confinement into close quarters with all and sundry, I discovered more than just native Pavonans in the city, and by chance spoke on several occasions with a Viadazan who was present when Lord Adolfo’s curse was revealed, and his murdered-and-raised army began their terrible slaughter. This man escaped death first by hiding and then by fleeing. Being of a sombre and sober disposition, and not one for fanciful talk or ill-thought assertions, he told me how the vampire duchess marched from Viadaza with a much greater force than that which remained with Lord Adolfo. While Adolfo corrupted his living soldiers to forge his foul horde, he also desecrated every Morrite shrine and gateway, allowing the vampire duchess to reap all the graveyards had to offer, harvesting corpses by the thousand. In the Cerverozzi necropolis north of Busalla, and many other graveyards and burial pits, she unquieted long dead legates, luring them from the dry earth. These then issued their own commands, adding potency to the magic she channelled through them, calling upon their centurions and signifera to attend them, who in turn demanded their cornicines and drummers …

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… whose eerie reveille woke the rank and file, until lines of long-dead legionaries snaked along the funerary paths.

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Only a day after I had passed by Astiano, I learned of the cruel fate of the main body of Trantian refugees. I doubt there is a Tilean alive who has not heard the tale, for it must have spread like wildfire. It is possible that because I was so close to the source, the account I heard might well be nearer to the truth than the jumbled stories that pass between travellers, and which might be all that has so far reached your own ears. Put plain, the Pavonan soldiers and even their artillery pieces managed to enter the city gates to safety, given precedence by the garrison who held back the Trantian crowd to ensure said passage, but then, because Razger’s brutes were so close, the garrison commander ordered the gates shut before the refugees and their wagons could themselves enter. Some say that one Pavonan wizard even conjured a fire to hold back the mob, although others say there was a fire-mage amongst the foe. The Pavonans do not speak of this event with sadness or disgust, rather they more commonly describe it as a clever ruse, adding, ‘More fool the Trantians for not moving quicker’. It is claimed that many an ogre perished from the withering hail of missiles launched from the walls, so keen were they to drag off the wagons and people of Trantio, the first to add to their ill-gotten plunder and the second to feast upon. I cannot believe such a deed has improved Duke Guidobaldo’s already bruised reputation, for he first conquered the Trantians, only then to allow this horrible fate to befall them. But of all the complaints muttered against the duke’s decisions in the streets of Pavona, this deed is not included.

Boulderguts’ army proved true to its reputation and set about ravaging the land for sport as much as food and plunder, then, as if perhaps they suddenly remembered why they were there, they assaulted and captured Astiano just as quickly as I had feared they would. Much to the surprise of his own people, Duke Guidobaldo chose not to march to Astiano’s aid, despite the army he had at his command. I suspected this was due to his lack of knowledge concerning the whereabouts of Bouldergut’s hired allies, the mercenaries from the Border Princes known as Mangler’s Band. If they had been close to Razger’s force, the Duke may have found himself greatly outnumbered in the field, and if instead they were hidden among the Trantine Hills to the north, then the duke’s departure would leave Pavona itself insufficiently defended to withstand their attack. So the duke chose to stay behind the city walls, and turned his entire army into a garrison.

Astiano was, of course, brutally sacked by Boulderguts’ army, and the small Pavonan force guarding it was lost entirely. Thus began Pavona’s time of waiting, which continues even now. Each and every report received has been bad news. First came word of sightings of petty-goblins near Casoli, and even within sight of the city walls, being the sort of slippery little creatures who often serve as scouts for ogres. No-one knew whether they belonged to Boulderguts or Mangler, but the question proved academic when word came that both tyrants had rejoined their forces and now marched as one through Casoli. The only source of solace in the city was that Casoli had been stripped completely bare - even crops only a week or so from harvesting had been burned. The brutes would find little sustenance. Yet even this source of reassurance was tempered by the fact that the brutes’ hunger might drive them on more violently.

Most recently, it was reported that both enemy armies had swept around the city to the north, heading eastwards. This came as a surprise as many had presumed they had left off an immediate attack upon Pavona in order to take the less-solidly walled town of Scozzese. I cannot know the truth, and have heard conflicting accounts concerning this turn of events. Some claim that the bridge at Casoli has been destroyed thus preventing the ogres’ passage, others that the Duke has fortified it to achieve the same end. Some claim that the ogres are afraid to put themselves on the southern side of the river in winter, so far from Campogrotta, while others laugh at that idea and suggest the ogres are simply saving Scozzese until last. Montorio tower fell quickly, it’s garrison butchered to a man, and yet still the duke ordered no sally from the walls.

At the end of Autumn, even though the ogres threatened the routes to the north, Morrite priests delivered a letter from the arch-lector himself, sent to all Tilean lords, both clerical and secular, and ordered to be read aloud in every Morrite temple and church. I cannot know if you, my lord, received exactly the same, so I will include a transcript here for your perusal and comparison.


This to be read to all the faithful servants of Morr and the lawful gods. His Holiness Calictus II wishes it to be known that the city of Viadaza has been rescued from the vile clutches of vampires and their unholy servants. Morr’s holy army has driven them northwards, beyond even the River Tarano, and has already completed the work of cleansing the city of all corruption. I have ordered a strong garrison formed to defend the city from further attacks, so that even while our most holy war continues, the city of Viadaza need never again suffer the horror that once befell it.

Lord Adolfo, who ruled Viadaza in life, and who now serves the wicked vampire Duchess Maria in unlife, left no living heirs, and so it is that I have declared the city and all the lands appertaining to it to be a protectorate of Remas. The Reman church of Morr will hereafter provide safe sanctuary to all Morr-respecting and law-abiding souls who wish to return and settle therein. As long as empty dwellings remain they will be made available to those who desire them. All skilled labourers and artisans who present themselves, and prove their worth and skill, will be allowed to freely practise their trade for the betterment of both themselves and the city, without redemption demanded of them. All taxes will be fair and equitable, and all appointed officers and magistrates will be required to exercise the laws in a just and decent manner. Hourly prayers will be sung in temple and church to the glory of Morr, and to beg his protection from all evil.

Come all ye who wish to prosper.

Sing hymns of thanks and praise, for Morr is good and his church likewise. Let Viadaza thrive and share a happiness and prosperity ne’er known before to its denizens.



Despite my confinement here in Pavona, I have learned what I can of the rest of Tilea. Due to the restricted nature of my sources, I suggest, my lord, you take this information with a pinch of salt, but I offer it nevertheless so that you can balance it with that which you have learned from elsewhere.

Over the summer several merchants had reported that the dwarfs of Karak Borgo were growing unhappy, disgruntled by the failure of their previously profitable trade with Tilea. The wizard Lord Nicolo Bentiglovio’s tyrannical rule in Campogrotta, the city through which both the Iron Road and the River Astipo access all other Principalities, has effectively closed the gate by executing, imprisoning or levying exorbitant fines upon the city merchants, then requiring ever greater taxes and tolls from anyone left attempting to carry out the dwindling trade. This account quickly transformed in the taverns of Pavona, inevitably infected by the Pavonans’ own prejudices, intertwining with another rumour concerning the dwarfs. As soon as the first reports of Boulderguts’ attacks came in, it was quickly put about that the Pavonan dwarfs exiled by ducal decree were behind the ogre tyrant’s choice of target! This was revenge for that which was done to them. Some few have pointed out that the Pavonan dwarfs would thus be allying with the enemies of their mountain cousins, the ogres, yet this argument was rebutted by the claim that the Pavonan dwarfs have used their urge for revenge to draw away the ogres’ main strength from Campogrotta, probably in preparation for an attack by a force from Karak Borgo. If this were true then it would be a false alliance made with one enemy to gain revenge against another, and lead them both into ruin in the end. I myself doubt this theory, for I have visited the mountain mines and found them a mostly empty place, worked by only a few stubborn dwarfs and surely not enough to muster a force of any size. And it seems to me the exiled dwarfs are also too weak, too scattered and insignificant, to achieve such influence. Furthermore, if the Pavonan dwarfs had a hand in advancing Boulderguts’ power, then this would by default mean they were allying with the vampires (if, as is still generally supposed, the ogres and the vampires do have an unholy agreement). Make of these rumours what you will, my lord.

In the far south it seems the VMC is very close to finally ridding Tilea of the last remnants of Khurnag’s Waagh, and its army is even now marching against Monte Castello to drive out any greenskins remaining there. I also heard a tale concerning the ratto huomo in the far north, concerning how they have mustered a force in the Blighted Marshes and intend to press an attack on their ancient enemy Miragliano now that the Vampires are distracted. If this were true, then it would provide an unlikely (if temporary) ally for the arch-lector in the war against the undead. Yet, what with the Reman church of Morr’s clouded history of dealings with the rat men - arch-lector Frederigo Ordini’s supposedly ‘false’ Holy War and secret alliance with the rat-men causing the ruination of the north half a century ago - this could prove a harmful political complication for the current arch-lector. Again, I do not claim to speak the truth here, but simply impart what people are saying.

I eagerly await your further instructions and remain your obedient servant.

Post script: I will attach to this missive a short report concerning what I have learned from the soldiery of Pavona.
Last edited by Padre on Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:58 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

I will say this, you're my oldhammer hero. You do everything with oldhammer I want to do, but lack the time and players to accomplish. Bravo!
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Post Fri Jun 24, 2016 4:00 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Thanks Ardyer - it's very encouraging to hear. I hope the writing is good too!
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A Second Letter to Lord Lucca Vescucci of Verezzo

Further from your servant, Antonio Mugello.

This is to impart to you, my lord, something of Duke Guidobaldo’s army, concerning the common soldiery rather than the plans and purposes of the duke himself, or his captains. I present this to reveal unto you something of the nature of the force at the duke’s disposal, and also because I cannot access the Duke’s mind, being myself neither ambassador nor emissary, unable to visit lordly palaces, but instead having eyes upon the streets, so to speak.

I have spoken with several soldiers, acting the part of an amenable drinking companion, being generous with my gold and agreeably attentive to their opinions. Among those I befriended is a sergeant named Antabio, a veteran of many years’ service, a born and bred Pavonan. He is a gruff fellow, heavy browed, who often wears the hint of a pained scowl much, which only occasionally blossoms into its full form.

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To understand much of what he says required careful consideration, for his words must be untangled, and much that he has not said needs be ascertained from what he has said. Not that he has guile in him, nor loathes to reveal his inner thoughts, only that he struggles to do so with any clarity. I was able to learn that he held Morr to be the God of gods, having been taught as much from his youth. For him the world is divided not between good and evil, nor between chaos and law, but between those ‘enlightened’ souls who accept Morr as supreme, and all those who do not. The latter, even including the Reman Morrite clergy, are his enemies! When he fought against the Astianans he fought against sinners, when he marched against Prince Girenzo’s forces he faced wicked heretics. He holds no doubt concerning this, nor questions whether Duke Guidobaldo is in full agreement with these beliefs. He speaks in awe of the duke, even praising his lord for sacrificing his own son in the taking of Trantio; and he curses all who voice fears or doubts concerning the duke’s actions. He even described the fall of Trantio to the ogres as a final cleansing brought about by Morr’s will! When I asked why Morr’s will had not then stopped the Ogres razing Astiano and was now allowing their close approach to Pavona, he said simply that they were being drawn in for the kill. I thus learned that the expression he so often wears belies his simple satisfaction that nothing at all is wrong, and that Pavona cannot fall. One might take one look at his face and think him a man tortured by doubt, but no, it is disgust for the rest of the world that pains him, driven by conviction not doubt. I suppose even now, as he stands at his post in the defensive earthworks that ring the entirety of the city walls (making a double layer of defences), he expects the brutes’ bodies will simply pile up before the Pavonan guns and his great sword.

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I do not claim that many Pavonans have Antabio’s child-like conviction that the duke cannot fail, but I can report that those born in the city do for the most part share his complete devotion to the one god, Morr, and believe only the priests and rulers of Pavona truly know Morr’s will. Until recently, however, Pavona was a growing Empire, and many of the more recent recruits to its army are not natives of the city, but hail from one of the newly conquered states. On the whole I would describe these soldiers as the worst sort of men, base rogues who have been lifted from deserved misery in their own homelands to become swaggering and proud in their livery of blue and white. Some were released from gaols, others being brigands who sought to enrich themselves from their own countrymen by serving their conquerors. Their conceit is made all the more hateful by the fact that their own homelands have been destroyed either by the brutes or by Pavonan soldiers attempting to deny the brutes the pleasure of doing so, and yet they still serve their new masters and count themselves among the best of the Duke’s men.

One such fellow is a young Astianan called Goldoni. He serves with the most recently formed company of handgunners and yet to hear him speak you would think him a member of one of the oldest and most famed military institutions in Tilea. Upon first encounter, he appears to be the very model of a soldier, deporting himself with the confidence of a disciplined fighter, and careful to ensure his clothes and trappings are kept pristine and in good working order. But as soon as a degree of familiarity has been established, his course wit begins to manifest, brought into play to decorate his malice and embellish a litany of tales concerning his past cruelties.

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There is no religion in him, and it might seem that nothing more than brutality fuels his fastidious service as a soldier, but when one probes a little deeper it is plain that his new but steadfast loyalty to the Pavonan cause arises at least partially from his fear concerning what fate would have in store for him if he were to leave his current profession. His cruelty, although entirely sufficient in itself to make him do what he has done, conjoins with his desire for self-preservation and the fear it instills, to produce the vile creature he is.

Much work has been done to circumvallate the already strong city walls with earthwork defences, each bastion bristling with stormpoles and many containing very modern, low, stone-built gun platforms. Most of the Pavonan handgunners have been stationed there, and drill daily to prepare themselves for what is considered the inevitable (if delayed) assault by Bouldergut’s huge army.

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Perhaps Boulderguts already knows of these formidable double-defences, and this is what delays him? Or perhaps he is happy to plunder everything else that the city state of Pavona has to offer, satisfied that Duke Guidobaldo’s army is afraid to move away from said defences?

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Pavona’s army thus remains a mighty force, perhaps being greater than ever before? And yet although at the height of its military strength, nevertheless the entirety of its newly conquered possessions have been razed to the ground, and its own homeland is even now being destroyed in a piecemeal fashion. Despite the soldiers' pride, conviction and determination, they are but men. None can tell me why their previously undefeated lord has become so timorous that he refuses to order his vast army to battle, yet none complain either, for what sane-man rushes to face a horde of brutes?

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Last edited by Padre on Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Mon Jul 25, 2016 8:59 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Sub Sigillo Confessionis
(‘Under the seal of confession’, therefore to be kept secret.)
Near the city of Viadaza, in the rear gardens of the Palazzo Sebardi, at the close of Autumn 2402

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Lector Bernado could see that Lector Erkhart was ill at ease, stilted by the need to suppress some species of twitch afflicting his arms and head. It made him appear furtive, although upon closer inspection his eyes seemed to reveal it was more a consequence of fear. Unlike Lector Bernado, who wore the traditional vermillion robes of his office, Erkhart was dressed very humbly in the course woollen cassock of the lowest orders of priesthood. Bernado had not asked him why, assuming it was because Erkhart had lost his see when the city of Trantio fell, and so thought it either improper or unreasonable to don his robes. Each to his own, thought Bernado, musing on the fact that when he had lost Viadaza if never occurred to him to alter his own wardrobe.

There was little colour in the palatial gardens, it being so late in Autumn, but a lay-brother was busy tidying one of the circular beds of herbs and flowers. Bernado was pleased to see that another part of Viadaza was rid of the stench of corruption and the lingering sense of horror, thus recovering a sense of normality and peace. Apart from the two Lectors, the only others present were two armoured guards (who accompanied Bernado everywhere now), his secretary Father Piero and one of his little staff of gnomish clerks.

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Erkhart, like so many others, had begun by asking when the arch-lector would order the army to march again. Then, again like so many others, quickly turned to begging Bernado to encourage the arch-lector to delay no longer. This surprised him, for he had expected the ruined lector to ask that a force be sent to recapture Trantio. He knew Erkhart had been in conversation with the Disciplinati di Morr and the spiritual leaders of the several flagellant-dedicate congregations, so it was possible he had been won over by their fervour. But then, Erkhart’s exaggeratedly nervous state suggested something more.

Perhaps if Erkhart had joined the dedicates in their self-administered scourging then that would explain his tortured twitches? The truth came to light when he spoke further, describing the flight from Trantio before it’s fall, his own weakness in the face of the Ogres’ advance, and the impossible dilemma of choosing whether to go north with the few or south with the many. Having chosen the north, for that was where the arch-lector was, he was then wracked by guilt when he heard what the terrible fate of those who did go south. Here Erkhart’s speech faltered, and he spoke more quietly.

“I know now going north was another part of my penance. I should never have left Trantio at all, and only added insult to injury by doing so.”

Bernado could not think what Erkhart meant by this last comment: ‘Insult to injury’ implied two faults, that his leaving of Trantio was not his only sin.

“But surely you see that without sufficient strength to defend the city, it would have been madness to stay?” he said. “How can you accept blame for what was a necessary action brought about by forces beyond your control? If you will not blame the ogres – and I cannot see why you do not lay this evil deed upon their shoulders – then perhaps the blame lies upon Duke Guidobaldo for not providing sufficient forces to defend that which he had himself so violently taken? He had been victorious and taken his prize - with that came the responsibility too.”

“No, I cannot blame the duke,” answered Erkhart. “For I bear the burden of sin. I should have accepted my punishment, and stayed regardless of the threat. My advice, if you will take it from such as I, who promised so much to so little effect, is this: Do not leave Viadaza. You lost it once and it has been returned to you. Be not so careless, nor regardless of Morr’s will.”

Bernado nodded. “I myself want to stay, and have petitioned his holiness to allow me to do so. But I do not think my wish will be granted for the arch-lector has left Remas to pursue Morr’s will, and so why should we not also be expected to go wherever we are needed?

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“Still, I do not see why you blame yourself,” he added. “This talk of punishment and multiple sins. We all make mistakes, for which we ought to be penitent, but to heap such blame upon yourself for acting as you thought best at the time, this I do not understand. I myself delayed giving support for the Viadazan crusade, and although I did finally march with them, fighting upon the field at Pontremola, when I heard the city was lost to the armies of the undead, I did not return. It was not fear that prevented me, although I was afraid, but rather the knowledge that the city was already lost and that my immediate return could not change that. Surely it was just the same with you? What great fault do you believe you bear?”

Lector Erkhart fixed Bernado with an intent gaze, then his eyes unfocused as if to look upon some imagined object.

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“Might we take leave of the others, to talk privately?” Erkhart asked.

Bernado nodded his consent, gesturing to the guards and servants to wait. The two lectors then turned towards the grassy gap between the hedged enclosures, leading towards a statue of Myrmidia in the centre of the gardens.

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They walked in silence until they reached the foot of the statue. No-one could hear them now.

“I take it you are not offended by the statue?” asked Bernado, wondering if a man promoted to lectorship by Duke Guidobaldo might share the schismatic Pavonan Morrite monotheism. Capolicchio, lector of Pavona itself, was very much a schismatic, and indeed the highest authority behind the sect.

Erkhart shook his head in a manner that mirrored the twitches he had exhibited earlier. “That is not my sin. I have never had Sagrannalian leanings, nor have ever given the impression I do – not even to gain Duke Guidobaldo’s favour. No, I gained his favour by other means.”

He fell silent, and Bernado knew he was preparing to give his confession.

“Go on,” said Bernado, making the sign of Morr’s blessing. “Sub sigillo confessionis.”

Erkhart’s hands twisted together before his waist, as if each was trying to restrain the other. “My sin was not schism. Nor was it leaving Trantio - that was merely my failure to accept my penance. I should have stayed to be butchered by the brutes.” Here, momentarily, he faltered again.

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Then, fixing Bernado with his gaze, perhaps to make it clear that he was hiding nothing, that this was a full and frank confession, he continued. “I was sent to correct Duke Giudobaldo, to deliver the edict for peace between all princes, to directly order him to cease his vainglorious war at a time when greater Tilea was in need of defence against the true enemy. I personally swore to the arch-lector that I would apply myself body and soul to that task, yet I was lured from that straight and true path by offer of the gift of lectorship of the cruelly conquered city of Trantio. I grasped the tainted office with both hands, and even wrote to the arch-lector to inform him how all that was done, by both the duke and myself, was good, proper and for the greater glory of Morr. I told his holiness the duke was a righteous lord, who had sacrificed his son for the good of the people of Trantio, and by removing the tyrant Girenzo could now set about protecting them from the undead threat.”

“I saw the letter,” said Bernado, remembering how at the time he had wondered if there was something more to the story, something that had not been said. He spoke sternly, “Continue.”

“From that time the knowledge that it was not truly so, that I had succumbed to greed and a lust for power, gnawed at me. And still my own greed was so great that I lied to the arch-lector.”

“How so? Confess fully or not at all, for a partial account is tantamount is merely another lie.”

“I told the arch-lector that I arrived after the fall of the city, and so Duke Guidobaldo knew nothing of the holy edict ordering peace among the living until after the war against the vampires was won. That was my greatest lie, for I had arrived at Trantio two days before the assault. The Duke promised me the reward of high office to buy my silence. More than that, I was to mislead the arch-lector so that it would appear the duke had completed his war before the inconvenient edict was shown to him.”

This is the sin that makes him ashamed to wear his robes of office, thought Bernado. When he looked at Erkhart, however, he could see there was yet more to know. He decided not to press his penitant further, for the man’s agony was plain enough, and it was merely a matter of waiting.

“Even as I took up residence in the palace it became plain that my sin had spawned more evil in its wake. When I asked what had become of Lector Silvestro, I was met first by silence, then later by the story of a mob who burst into the palace to murder him for being the friend of, and counsellor to, Prince Girenzo. But although there were plentiful signs of disturbance in the palace, and all of worth had been taken, I never found any of Silvestro’s servants who had been present that day to witness the event. I cannot say what was done, but I wondered just who had goaded the mysterious mob to murder a priest of Morr, when all would surely know they were damned for doing so.

“Then, just as I began to wonder if the duke would allow the Sharlian Riders who had accompanied me from Remas to return there, knowing as they did that we had arrived before the final battle, I learned that their service had very conveniently been bought. They were promised increased pay to enter Pavonan service. I spoke to Captain Presrae and he seemed blissfully unaware of the whole affair, either because he cared nothing for such things, or cared too little to question the matter. He knew I was carrying the edict, but not its full nature, nor what I had written in return.

“But worse, much worse, was yet to come. I had suspicion enough to be concerned, and yet I did nothing to prevent it. My sins were multiplying and I was becoming crushed under the weight of them. Although I had allowed my silence to be bought, another priest-emissary, Father Franco de Pistoni, was of course carrying the edict to Prince Girenzo of Trantio: the arch-lector had sent priests with letters to every Tilean prince and ruler. Father Franco, of course, had been unable to enter the city because of the besieging Pavonan army, and he also knew, of course, that I had arrived before Duke Guidobaldo ordered the assault. I was afraid he might return to the arch-lector to reveal the truth, and in my weakness, I expressed this fear to the duke.”

Bernado was beginning to comprehend the full horror of what had been done, and yet he still hoped that it might not be true. “I heard that Father Franco was killed by brigands, a party of Compagnia del Sole soldiers fleeing from the Battle of the Princes, who were later killed by Pavonan soldiers for their crime.”

“Yes, the murderers were killed, and without trial,” said Erkhart, “three days after I spoke to the duke of my concerns.”

“Do you know whether the murderers were in fact Compagnia men?” asked Bernado.

“Most likely. But whoever they were, none could now reveal what really happened. Were they made to do it? Ordered? Tricked? And if they were not Compagnia men, who were they? Why did they so conveniently kill that particular priest, when there’s no sane Tilean alive who would not baulk at committing such a heinous crime?”

“But you have no certain proof of Pavonan wrongdoing,” pondered Bernado. “Unless … Did you speak to Duke Guidobaldo about this?

“No, I confess I dare not do so. He would have thought it an implied accusation, and I was clinging to the hope that some greater good might result from my sins and the duke’s transgressions. Now that Trantio has fallen I know that nothing good came of it, only righteous punishment.”

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Last edited by Padre on Sun Oct 01, 2017 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:01 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Prequel: The Battle for Ebino
Winter IC 2420-3. A short distance south of Ebino

It was less than half an hour since first light and already the burgeoning camp was a hive of activity. Many within had laboured through the night, attempting to satisfy the arch-lector’s demand that the earthwork circumvallation be completed within two days. Considering the proximity of the vampire-ruled city of Ebino, there were very few who begrudged this hurried deadline and even less who yearned for sleep. What mortal man would relish the prospect of being unconscious and undefended as a force of undead monsters sallied out from the deathly quiet walls?

Having finally shrugged off the queasy terror gifted by yet another night-long torrent of nightmares, partly achieved by the ritual of his morning prayers and partly with a practised effort of will, Father Biagino decided he ought to take the air and stretch his legs. He was keen to see how the camp’s defences were coming along, not least because of the future horrors suggested by his nightmares. The dreams he remembered, despite his urge to forget, had revealed to him a grand yet grisly army much greater and more terrible than that he had faced at Pontremola. He told himself that it could not be so – only yesterday the scouts had confidently reported a weak force garrisoning Ebino – and yet there it was. Before the dream army, and quite unable to escape due to some mysterious thickening of the air, he became as a mouse in the way of a bull - an old, diseased mouse with legs stuck in glue-like mud facing the snorting, red-eyed king of all demonic bulls. As the mighty foe came on relentlessly, he turned in desperation to see what safety his comrades could provide, only to discover that they too were living-dead, their eyes empty of all life apart from hateful hunger. The enemy was on all sides. He had not a friend in the world. When he threw his hands up to block out the sight, which was all he could think to do, pain seared into his palms. Tearing them away again, he saw blood pouring from ragged holes. From then, the nightmare took a turn for the worse, becoming the part he could not bring himself even to think about.

He was accompanied by the guard who had replaced the one outside his tent through the night, a veteran Reman crossbowman called Fazzio. The guard proved to be a talkative fellow, a quality Biagino much appreciated for the distraction it gave, and which therefore he was happy to encourage.

“Quite a difference already,” said the crossbowman pointing ahead. “I saw this gate just after dark and it was little more than a few marker posts.”

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Biagino stopped a moment to look the earthworks over. Without a doubt much work had been done, for it was no small feat to enclose a camped army as large as this Holy Army of Morr, but it was still far from a reassuring sight. Small sections of earthwork were in place, but most were little more than low piles of earth, the traced beginnings of a defence achieving little more than marking out where the completed circumvallation would sit. He pointed at a finished section by the gate and asked, “Will they make the whole circuit as high?”

“I should think so, father,” said Fazzio. “As per the general’s orders: an outer ditch with an earthen bank no less than four feet high, parapeted throughout, with gabions at the gates. O’course, if we stay any longer than a few days, it’ll grow much bigger than that. This is just for starters.”

They had stopped at the spot where the elaborate volley gun had been emplaced. It had been taken from maestro Angelo’s steam engine, and thus had no wheeled carriage. Just as Biagino pondered the consequences of this, Fazzio spoke.

“Well that’s not going anywhere soon,” he declared. “If it comes to battle here at the camp, I hope this is the spot it’s needed. Seems to me to be a distinct lack of artillery in this army, considering what we’re up against and where they’re at.”

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Biagino simply nodded. He had passed the maestro’s steam engine as he made his way to his tent last night. The entire upper platform had been torn away (removing all its guns, big and small, in the process) so that in its stead a huge ramp could be fabricated upon its back. This was the result of one of the maestro’s suggestions concerning how to assault the city, what with both walls and a moat stubbornly obstructing the army’s passage. He had made the idea sound so simple: remove the gun-platform and in its place mount a flat bridge of roughly-hewn boards obliquely rising from a little way above the ground at the rear, while extending out beyond the front until reaching the same height as the crenellations. Then, using the engine’s proven strength, roll on up to the wall until close enough to allow soldiers to run up onto the battlements. Of course, the maestro had added, if the enemy were living Tileans the enterprise would be severely compromised by artillery fire from the towers, but in this case, it could be assumed there would be no such danger. Biagino had marvelled how the maestro could make the prospect of fighting the living dead sound like an advantage.

Several soldiers were attending to the multi-barrelled piece, while others were filling the gabion beside it with rocks.

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A large, rubble filled wagon filled stood nearby, with a sweating soldier aloft hurling the contents to the ground …
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… whereupon two labourers wielding pick axes broke the stones into manageable chunks.

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If this was the effort required simply to place an engine of war in some earthen defence-works, thought Biagino, then surely the maestro’s breezy description of what was required to make an entirely novel, massive and mobile military amalgamation of bridge and ramp had been somewhat rash?

Biagino turned to his companion and asked, “Do you think the maestro’s plan to mount the walls will work?”

Fazzio grinned, making himself look a tad foolish in the process, and answered, “Why not? As long as the engine moves, and the bridge upon it is long enough, and strong enough, and the enemy does nothing to impede its progress, then yes, it should successfully deliver our lads into the arms of the foe.”

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“Besides,” he added, “if it doesn’t work, then there’s the petard. Maybe all the maestro’s engine really has to do is draw the enemy’s attention away from the petard?”

Biagino said nothing, but he had been even less convinced by the maestro’s (second) proposition to construct the ‘biggest petard Tilea has ever known’. The proposed components were lying next to the area where engine was being converted, little more than a rusty, old cannon barrel brought from Viadaza and a battered, spare boiler for the engine, to be fastened together somehow and mounted upon a carriage so that the whole could trundle right up to be placed against the gate, there to blow it apart. Biagino’s doubts were not the of the usual kind regarding petards, which tended to concern the difficulty in finding a petardier, a volunteer mad enough to attempt the placing of it. There really was no difficulty there, what with scores of fanatical flagellants and dedicates committed to sacrificing themselves for Morr in any way necessary, perhaps the messier the better? Rather, he worried about how the petardier could possibly hope to reach its destination without deadly interference from the enemy. The undead might not have missiles to shoot, but they could surely hurl rocks, even just tip them over the parapet? And worse, in his dreams he had watched ghastly spirits swarming through stone and wood as if there were nothing there at all, which meant they could sally out without even opening the gate.

Looking back at the volley gun, Biagino watched a matross ramming home an iron ball into one of the nine barrels, while yet another rock was tumbled into the wicker-weaved gabion beside him.

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The two of them then left the soldiers to their labours and walked a little further to a stretch of earthen barricade heaped so low it allowed easy access back into the camp’s interior. Biagino led and Fazzio followed as they headed towards the very heart of the camp, where a second, much smaller ring of earthworks had been quickly thrown up, the beginnings of an inner defensive circuit to surround the army’s carroccio. This time, however, the work had apparently already halted. No-one laboured here, as if the pathetically low mound was already considered sufficient for purpose. Instead, a congregation of clergy and dedicates had gathered within, completely surrounding the holy wagon, being joined in ominous chanting, part prayer and part summonation of Morr’s divine presence.

Biagino heard Fazzio gasp at his side.

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The physical cause of Fazzio’s audible surprise was nothing more than the barest rippling of a breeze rolling out from the enclosure, but it was laced with a hair-raising and gut-wrenching sensation of powerful intent, like one might suppose a god’s breath would feel as it washed over you. Biagino had sensed it too, perhaps more forcefully than the crossbowman, because for him it evoked memories of rituals and rites, of prayers he himself had employed to conjure curses and blessings in battle, and especially the terrors inhabiting his dreams. He did not gasp, but for a mad moment he yearned to throw his head back and scream, allowing the spiritual potency to penetrate his being and set his soul alight. He held the compulsion in check, for he knew if he were to give in to it, he would surely and immediately slide into a new kind of madness - the same divinely gifted ecstasy that coursed through the bodies and souls of flagellants as the pain of their scourging reached an unbearable peak.

The congregation had arrayed itself in a ring around the large wagon, consisting of both ordained priests and avowed lay brothers, as well as fanatical cultists and dedicants. A flagellant prophet stood by the carroccio, waving a holy book in one hand and a heavy, studded club in the other.

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Upon the wagon-shrine’s lower level a cleric spoke prayers over the gilded tabernacle containing a carefully selected collection of holy Reman relics brought by order of the arch-lector. Upon the upper platform two priests, somewhat incongruously framed by brass-barrelled swivel guns, gestured with raised hands to lead the prayerful chanting of those gathered around. Fluttering above their heads was the cross-keyed standard of the Reman Church of Morr, showing both the gold and silver keys to Morr’s garden

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Biagino had to look twice before he realised that one of the officiating priests was none other than Erkhart, the lector of Trantio, the very same man who only weeks before had arrived wretched and broken at Viadaza, assailed by doubts and the guilt of having abandoned his city. Now, dressed in a humble woollen cassock, he had the steely glint of a fanatic in his eyes, and looked every bit like the sort of man who could successfully channel mighty Morr’s divine will.

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“In manus tuas, Morrus, commendo spiritum meum,” prayed Fazzio. ('Into your hands, Morr, I commend my spirit.')

Biagino raised his hand to bless the crossbowman, to reassure him. The power of prayer was indeed evident here, even to a layman. The arch-lector himself had ordered the holy ritual, intending that its potency would crescendo into a force sufficient to wash over the entire city of Ebino, unpicking the dark-magics animating the undead. While the maestro Angelo was to use mathematics and mechanical skill to forge his ingenious weapons of war, the church would call upon divine power to strike at the foe. Biagino, however, was not reassured. In his dreams the vampires were unstoppable, their will undeniable, their servants relentless, and inevitably their curse swallowed up the whole world. Even if his dreams were only half right, then this ritual was still not enough.

Suddenly a new voice, an ululation more strained and crazed than all the rest, surged up to dominate. It seemed to contain no words, but in truth was just one name, sung without ending: Morr. And it emanated from the mouth of the wild-haired fanatic with the club. His hair blazed from his head like black fire, and his waist was wrapped in penitential chains upon which iron balls swung to bruise his shins.

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“ … oooor … oooor ... oooor” went the wail, the sound of the crowd’s chanting undiminished and yet seeming so. Then the wail began to split and fragment, multiplying into a crazed choir of sound. Biagino peered at the fanatic, wondering how such a thing was possible, his bemusement only ending when he caught a glimpse of motion upon the other side of the sacred compound. More fanatics had appeared, racing around the periphery, their weapons brandished, their mouths agape as they too cried out Morr’s holy name.

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Fazzio flinched when he too saw the motion, his crossbow falling from his shoulder and his other hand reaching for his sword. Then he too saw what it was. He exhaled, then sniffed. “Here they come,” he said, as if the scene were something tired and familiar. “Father, forgive me, but with a battle brewing I can’t decide if we need more or less of their kind.”

Biagino said nothing. At Pontremola he had witnessed almost every regiment on the field flee from the foe – the battle having been won by General d’Alessio’s slaying of the vampire duke alone, not by any resoluteness or courage in the massed ranks. When the vampire duke fell, his army weakened across the field, some stumbling, others crumbling away, until those left retired under the command of a lesser vampire. There was little the broken Viadazan army could do to stop them leaving, but at least they had won the battle. The Holy Army of Morr could not rely on such a stroke of luck to win its battles, especially as it was unknown whether the vampire duchess would even put herself in harm’s way. Instead they needed fighting men who could and would stand their ground against such a terrifying foe. These flagellants were those kind of men. Once they had whipped themselves into a crazed frenzy, they would fight to the last. Whether or not a general could ensure they did so to some purpose on the field, that was a different matter.

“Hello!” said Fazzio all of a sudden. “Now there’s a leader made to inspire warriors!”

Biagino broke from his reverie and saw immediately who Fazzio had meant. At the head of the column of flagellating fanatics, sword in hand, cassock hoiked up to allow him to run unimpeded, chins and belly a-wobbling, was the Campogrottan priest Peppe di Lazzaro.

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“If he carries on like that he’ll do himself an injury,” said Fazzio.

“Isn’t that the point?” quipped Biagino as the crazed priest hurtled passed them pursued by a large gang of much more fearsome followers.

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There was little either of them could do while the frantic procession cavorted by them, swinging around the sacred compound and heading off back to the place from which they came. No doubt they would re-appear in a little while as their violent dance circumnavigated whatever other part of the camp they had chosen to navigate by. Once they had gone from sight Biagino suddenly felt as if he was being watched. Glancing off to the side he saw the arch-lector’s colourful tent, attended by his Reman guards. It was not them who were looking at him, however, but the arch-lector himself, from within the shadowed interior.

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Biagino supposed the arch-lector would surely beckon him over or at least make some other sign of recognition, as he had done on most other occasions. But no, he just stood motionless, staring.

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It made Biagino wonder what his holiness had dreamt last night.
Last edited by Padre on Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Fri Aug 26, 2016 12:06 am

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

The Battle for Ebino, Part One
Winter IC 2420-3. A short distance south of Ebino

As Biagino looked away, lest the arch-lector notice his stare and take offence, a sound erupted from the other side of the camp - drums, the call to arms, and shouting. The chanting ceased immediately as all the gathered clergy and dedicates turned to look. Soldiers were tumbling from their huts and tents, joining the throng running towards their colours and ensigns.

“I think that means they’re coming, father,” said Fazzio. “And there I was a-thinking we were to do the attacking.”

“But the scouts said they were only a small force,” Biagino. “Why would they leave the walls?”

“Either the scouts were wrong, or the enemy doesn’t care about being outnumbered.” He sniffed, then added, “My money’s on both.”

Biagino recalled how he had thought it strange when the scouts corrected their earlier estimations of the enemy’s size, reporting that the defending force had greatly diminished. It was suggested a large part of their strength had marched away towards Miragliano, although many present had simply assumed fear was the cause of the scouts’ original overestimation. Perhaps instead the contradiction was part of a ploy to lure the Holy Army of Morr into a false sense of security? Perhaps what he had seen in his dreams - an army with a front stretching at least as wide as their own - had been closer to the truth?

Suddenly he was jostled and Fazzio had to catch him so he did not fall. The fanatical dedicates were pouring past the pair of them. Instinctively Biagino put his hands over his head, for he knew that they carried every conceivable sort of armament, including the sort of clumsy instruments that no sane man would call a weapon. Once they had passed he wondered why they had abandoned the carroccio, when their ritual had been so obviously working, but when he glanced at it he saw they had not entirely done so. Several remained with the wagon, Lector Erkhart and Father Peppe di Lazzaro amongst them.

“Best be off, father,” said Fazzio. “I reckon we’ll both be needed in this fight. In our own ways, that is.”

Biagino nodded and the two of them joined the general mass of soldiers heading off towards the camp’s periphery.

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Some Mechanics: Battle Scenario Rules

Deployment:
The Holy Army of Morr deployed in a semi-completed earthwork-fortified camp, with some restrictions on space. The Undead Army of the Vampire Countess Maria were to deploy 24” away from the earthworks.

Missing units:
One unit of the Holy Army of Morr had already been destroyed by a (‘paper battle’) sally by the Vargheists – the arabyan horse were no more. They did manage, against the odds, to get a countershot off, killing one of the monsters, but then they got cut to pieces, losing eight of their number to the charge, then the rest being charged again before they reached their camp. The undead player had one Vargheist missing. Sad.

Helblaster (Removed from steam tank platform)
This is already set up on the defences somewhere fixed - it has no carriage.

Carroccio
This began kind of ‘stuck’ within its compound, but could become moveable with effort.

* To move it the order must be given. A D6 was then rolled in subsequent player turns, allowing it to move the next turn on 6+, the turn after on 4+, then the next and subsequent turns on 3+.

* It had a number of ‘free’ (no points paid) flagellants with it - 6D6 rolled before battle starts. These could not move more than 6” away from the carroccio, unless they were pursuing a fleeing foe.

The carroccio could, depending on what was done with it, and some die rolls, increase the range of its immune to fear & Battle Standard effect, or perhaps have a weakening effect on necromantic magic. To do either there needed to be a minimum of a dozen flagellants present.

* To increase the range of the carroccio’s immune to fear and battle standard effect by 2D3”, the attendant flagellant fanatics must not move or be in combat, instead spending the turn praying. In the magic phase they must pass an Ld test. This would be an increase lasting throughout this battle.

* To affect the undead enemy’s magic pool, the attendant flagellants must not move or be in combat, spending the turn flagellating themselves, and thus apply rules for the ‘End is Nigh’! If at least one model was removed as a casualty of this self-harm, the undead enemy player’s magic pool would be reduced by D3 power dice in their next magic phase.

Steam Tank
This was currently being converted to carry a large ramp, and now had scaffolding all around it. All its artillery pieces had been removed. In order to move it must spend 2+ steam points: the first steam point didn’t generate movement, but rather allowed the engine to break it free from the scaffolding (etc) around it.

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Holy Army of Morr @ 4854 pts

Arch-Lector’s Own troops (plus the Viadazan clergy & fanatics) @ 2195 pts:
Arch-Lector of Morr Calictus II @ 201 Tilean Noble
Urbano D’Alessio, Condottiere General @ 172 pts
Priest of Morr, Fr. Federico Tinti)@ 55 pts
Priest of Morr, Fr. Peppe di Lazzaro, Obsidian amulet & Gold Sigil Sword @ 100
Priest of Morr, Fr. Biagino @ 85 pts
7 Knights with full armour and command @ 186 pts
36 Condotta Pikemen (Estalian Mercenaries) @ 399 pts
8 Dwarf Sea Ranger Skirmishers @ 112
30 Flagellants with leader @ 370 pts (this group possibly having swollen to a greater size)
Carroccio @ 265 (counts as Army Standard @ 18” effect) + 3D6 Flagellants
Magic standard (Home-rules): Standard of Morr: All Tilean/Estalian troops within range of its battle Standard effect are immune to Fear (+85)
Maestro Angelo da Leoni’s Steam-Tank @ 250 (From which 3 swivel guns and a helblaster volley gun have been removed and placed elsewhere.)
2 Baggage wagons

The young Pavonan lord and his guard @ 328 pts
Lord Silvano
8 Mercenary Elven Knights

Arabyans gifted by Lord Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore @ 2331 pts
General ‘Caliph’ Gedik Mamidous
Two ‘Emirs’, Sakhrrif and Immeed (one with Battle Standard)
Vizier (wizard) Jafhashua al Hadi
9 Arabyan Camel Riders
30 Arabyan Spearmen
25 Arabyan Elite Spearmen (Heavy armour, corroding standard)
24 Crossbowmen (two companies of 12)
12 Border Horsemen
10 Arquebusiers (30", S5, armour pierce, move or fire, prepared shot - after firing, spend next shooting phase reloading before fire again, may move while doing)
25 Black Guard Swordsmen (Stubborn, WS4)
2 baggage wagons
2 Galloper Guns commanded by mercenary artillery captain Pandolfo da Barbiano

Here’s a pic of some of the above army set up in readiness for transferral to the table. Several things were already placed, as per the scenario. The 6D6 flagellants with the carroccio would be determined at the start of the game. I had the 36 figures ready, but should have known we wouldn't need anything like that many!

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The arabyan horse in the middle of this lot were destroyed before the battle! (I had allowed the player of the arch-lector to order ritual prayers to deleteriously affect necromantic magic and to turn the steam tank into a mobile ramp (like a 'Hobart’s funny’ from D-Day), so when Daz (the vampire player) wanted to try a dastardly surprise attack versus a random scouting unit by flying vampire-monsters,I had to allow that too. The randomness came from the fact that Vargheists are frenzied, and I reckoned that meant it was pretty random which one they attacked – whoever they happened to see first! The arabyan horse were the unlucky ones - first for being rolled as the target, second for being too weak to defend against such horrors!)

The Undead Army @ 4320 pts total
Vampire Lord (Maria)
Strigoi Ghoul King
Vampire Hero
Tomb Banshee
Necromancer
60 Zombies
10 Dire Wolves
43 Crypt Ghouls
30 Skeletons
30 Skeletons
Corpse Cart
29 Grave Guard
20 Grave Guard
6 Crypt Horrors
6 Vargheists
6 Hexwraiths
8 Black Knights
3 Spirit Hosts
Terrorgheist

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The Tabletop
(This was effectively a simplified version of the Holy Army of Morr's camp, suitable for game-play purposes.)

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Actual battle report to follow asap.
Last edited by Padre on Fri Oct 06, 2017 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:17 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

The Battle for Ebino, Part Two

The Holy Army of Morr rushed to deploy its entire strength along the partially completed defences. All three heavy cavalry regiments took a place on the far left of the line, with the mercenary elven riders on their bright, white horses acting as Lord Silvano's bodyguard on the extreme end of the line. The Caliph Gedik Mamidous' camelry rode behind, with the Reman knights, led by the hero of Pontremola and commander of the army in the field, General d'Alessio, to their right. Captain Pandolfo di Barbiano's brace of galloper guns trundled up behind the knights, hoping to find a spot from which to fire after the knights advanced.

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The Arabyan Black Guard swordsmen massed in the rear of the cavalry, upon a little hill from which they could look down at Carroccio and its little guard company of flagellants (Note: The 6D6 roll for to ascertain the flagellants’ actual number came up a measly 12!) The large regiment of Estalian pikemen took up position near the centre of the line, with the arch lector Calictus II himself by their side. Several swivel guns and the volley gun were placed in the very centre of the line, and stretching out to the right of them stood first the Arabyan musketeers with their impressively long barrelled pieces, and then in succession the Arabyan light spearmen, the main body of Morrite flagellants and the Arabyan heavy spearmen.

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Behind these foot regiments, two companies of crossbowmen occupied each of a pair of hills, while in the little dip between stood maestro Angelo da Leoni's wooden-armoured steam engine surrounded by scaffolding and topped by the uncompleted ramp (intended to overcome the moated walls of Ebino). The maestro himself stood upon the scaffolding, shouting down to the already sweating crewmen within the workings, issuing a complicated combination of instructions concerning how to build up steam, which parts of both the scaffolding and the supports for the ramp needed removing, and what alterations in driving and steering procedures would be necessary now that the gun platform was missing. Glancing again and again towards the front of the battle-line, he interspersed his orders with "Hurry now!", "Make haste" and “No time for that”.

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A wheeled contraption of rather a less elaborate and ingenious design trundled up at the flagellants' fore, its cacophonous bronze bell swinging erratically. 'Fighting' Father Antonello, who nearly died leading the poorest of the Viadazan militia at Pontremola, and who had spent his time in Remas forging the very band of fanatics he now led, walked barefoot next to the bell, his sword held aloft as he sang of the painful, purging ecstasy of serving Morr's will to the death. At Pontremola his voice had been clear and strong, but here it had become the pained and wheezing cry of a man who had bloodily scourged himself of every thought but battle.

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For a moment, once the army was arrayed as best it could, there was almost complete quiet. The peeling drums ceased their instructions, the sergeants and captains gave rest to their voices, and every mercenary soldier upon the field, Tilean or Arabyan, fell silent. Even the flagellants ceased their loud chants, and instead spoke their prayers in growled whispers through clenched teeth. The only other sounds were the jangling of the mounts' harnesses and the snapped flutters of silken flags.

Not one living soul present could help but fall quiet, for it was in that moment the enemy hoved into view, surmounting the ridge between the camp and Ebino.

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Every single thing that moved among their ranks was foul, and many were truly terrible to behold. Several large companies of skeletal warriors, wearing only the remnants of ancient armour and rags, with not a scrap of flesh to clothe their bones, made up their right, including an ancient head-hunter's chariot piled high with the skulls of those he had taken in life and (presumably) in death also. Closer to the centre of their line, being the first thing all living eyes were drawn to, was the un-living corpse of a huge dragon-beast. Its motion seemed impossibly easy, considering it was nothing more than bleached bones and the thinnest, taut tatters of leathery flesh. When its long neck came curling down to thrust its monstrous head forwards, a sound issued from its gaping maw - the echo of a cry from some hellish realm beyond the seam, twisted then amplified as it found its way into the mortal world.

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Behind this flew some smaller, demonic creatures, although as they would tower over any mortal man their smallness was only in comparison to the dragongheist.

In the very heart of the line came a monstrous amalgamation of unliving parts, held as one by a blue-hued miasma, the whole like something plucked from a nightmare, perhaps several nightmares. It appeared to be hauled by skeletal riders, although the mounts' hooves struck nothing but air as the ground was several yards beneath them. Limbless corpses with chattering teeth were impaled upon a shrine-like balcony, upon which stood a crooked figure robed in a cloth woven from shadows.

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This horror alone proved the vampire duchess's corrupting power had grown greater than that which Duke Alessandro ever wielded, and that in the passage of time since she left Viadaza to return northwards, she had been diligent in her work to make a very hell of the north. The like of such an 'apparatus ad mortem', such an 'ammasso dei cadaveri', had not been witnessed in Tilea for many a century. But nor had an undead army the size of which surrounded it. Ahead of the horror loped a band of undead brutes, and beside them a regiment of ancient palace guards led by the vampire Lord Adolfo (the tales of his death at the hands of the duchess, punishment for the loss of Viadaza, were thus proved false). Next in line were two huge bands of ghouls and zombies, with a barely visible ghostly host of troubled spirits lurching ahead of them.

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Upon the very far left of Duchess Maria's army there rode a deathly hunt, with flail-armed riders galloping in eerie, ethereal silence behind a pack of slavering hounds.

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They were not the only riders upon the field, for at the very centre of the line, beside the monstrous dragongheist, was a company of skeletal men at arms, their mounts' caparisoned carcasses enclosed in carapaces of iron. In their midst rode the vampire Duchess Maria, with a gaze every bit as piercing as her bared fangs could be.

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As the Holy Army of Morr took in the full horror of what faced them, the arch-lector's long serving company of mercenary dwarfs jogged up towards the side of the steam engine, having been ordered to move whither it went.

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Most of the vampire duchess's horde momentarily slowed as she surveyed the foe arrayed before her, but out on the left the ghastly hunt did not break its stride, outstripping all the rest and closing upon the enemy with palpably cruel intent.

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Note: Deployment and Scouting Moves completed. Battle proper to follow asap. To those who weren't there, does anyone care to hazard a guess as to which side will be victorious, if indeed either?
Last edited by Padre on Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Fri Sep 02, 2016 4:36 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

The Battle for Ebino, Part Three

The near-silence was broken by the sudden blaring of horns ordering the riders to advance. The young Lord Silvano, the only soldier upon the field to sport the blue and white of Pavona, was the first off the mark, accompanied by his Sharlian Riders. The irony that they had been bribed generously to leave Reman service to serve the Pavonan duke, yet now they had been sent by that same duke to serve his son in Reman service, was lost on Lord Silvano (although they themselves knew).

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To the young lord's immediate right the mounted nobility of Remas - a visconte, a barone, and several-many Cavalieri, led by General d'Alessio, his shield bearing the hourglasses of Morr - spurred their own mounts to keep up as close they could to the young lord's flank.

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The veteran general forgave young Silvano his impetuousness in being the first to advance, though by right that honour should not have fallen to him. Silvano was burdened with an irrepressible need to prove himself, born of all that had happened in his young life: the death of his brother in single combat, the mutinous conduct of his own soldiers at Viadaza and the recent fall of the city he had been granted governorship of by his father. He also yearned to placate his father for his perceived failings by proving himself in battle. Where and when better to do so than here and now, against the greatest and most wicked threat facing Tilea? Most of all, he wanted to beat the vampire duchess and her foul horde as soon as possible, thus releasing himself from his vow and allowing his return to Pavona to aid his father in the war against the Ogres threatening to destroy his homeland.

Behind the Sharlian riders came the Sons of the Desert’s camelry, carrying lances almost the length of pikes. It had been noted that the desert mounts scared the horses, and so their position in the rear was no accident. Thus it was that the entire left wing of the Holy Army of Morr's vanguard, wholly consisting of riders, crossed the nascent defences to move directly towards the massed ranks of the walking dead.

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On the far right of the army the steam engine's workings juddered into life, emitting several bouts of sooty steam, then after the squeal of grinding gears and the strained creak of stressed timbers, it broke free of the scaffolding enclosing it and jolted forwards leaving a trail of broken planks behind. The maestro Angelo watched it trundle away, cursing at its lack of armament. At Viadaza it had thundered aimlessly about unable to effect any real damage upon the walls or the foe shielded behind them, whereas now, part-way through the transformation intended to put right this specific deficiency, it was going into open battle without the guns that could make it truly effective. He was more than a little vexed at the constantly changing circumstances that prevented him from proving himself as a military engineer of genius. Had he just sent his greatest creation to its doom?

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The dwarfen rangers watched the engine go by, waiting for their chance to move up in its wake, all the better to provide some support for it during the battle.

While the famous Captain da Barbiano's galloper guns positioned themselves behind the beginnings of the earthwork vallation ...

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... the regiments of foot soldiers stood their ground. The Arabyan light spear regiment looked on nervously over the piled timbers gathered for the parapet, while the black robed vizier in their front rank began the dramatic gestures required for a conjuration.

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But his efforts evidently came to nought, for when his hands came together in a conclusive clap and nothing at all happened. He cursed in some archaic tongue only half understood by the men around him. No other magical manipulation of the etheric winds had any obvious effect, but several of the slavering death-hounds did fall to crossbow quarrels and the shambling blue-skinned horrors in the centre of the duchess's line were bloodied by musket shots. At the carroccio, however, the fanatical clergy and dedicants were singing potent prayers with gusto, and as every Estalian and Tilean who could hear them took heart from the parts they recognised, their fear of the foe began to fade away. Game note: As per the house rule, they now had +4" range to the carroccio's 'Hold your Ground' & Immune to Fear effect, making it 22" in range.) The black robed spearmen above the carroccio, who knew little of the foreigner’s gods and had certainly never prayed to them, simply looked down in confusion at the fuss, and wondered why such supposedly fearless warriors would give themselves over to song when there was a battle to fight.

The Duchess's unholy army came on slowly but surely , and apart from the ghostly-hunt out upon the far left flank, only the dragongheist seemed to be in any hurry to reach the foe. Its huge wings flapped but three times, and with little swiftness, yet lifted it sufficiently far to land before the Reman nobility. Upon its arrival, however, it did nothing more than hiss with mean intent. (Game Note: Its 'Death Shriek' had no effect.)

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Still, although its threatening display caused no physical harm, the beast's mere proximity was no easy thing to endure. Only the tiniest scraps of glistening muscle still connected its bones (what remained being as tough as buff-leather armour) and its grey flesh was also very much an incomplete covering, nevertheless a long, sharp tongue, the colour of dried blood and as whole as that a master butcher might display with pride upon his stall, thrust stiffly between the massive teeth of its gaping maw. The fleshless talons upon the joints of its wings flexed and curled with intent, and every motion its flinching tail made produced a clackety eruption of sound as bone struck bone along its entire length.

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Much louder was the hate-filled howl delivered by the vampire Adolfo, as if he could barely contain the lust for battle broiling within him. His elite guard made no sound, perhaps heard no sounds either, as they halted a moment, several of their blades glittering with an unworldy green glow. Their master raised his hand to shield the sun from his eyes and so better descry the enemy who had driven him from the city he ruled in both life and undeath, and so shamed him before his beloved mistress the duchess Maria. He believed his devotion to her knew no bounds, and he intended that the enemy would learn this the hard way. And yet, deep down, buried beneath the fury, pride, lust and brutal cunning, there was some part of him that wanted his own unlife never to end, whatever became of the duchess. This was what had allowed him to flee Viadaza as it fell, and was why he could halt here to scrutinize the foe even though he could see several of the duchess' other servants had already advanced much further.

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The hunters and their hounds were the keenest of the undead forces, heading straight towards the Arabyan heavy spearmen, entirely unconcerned by the fall of several of their number.

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Watching their approach, the spearmen's amir simply kept repeating, "Steady ... steady ...!"

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The situation was both reversed and magnified upon the far side of the field, for there it was the living riders, much greater in number, who were rapidly closing the gap between themselves and the foe. Their blaring horns suddenly gave vent to a new, more urgent flurry of notes - the charge - and all three bodies of riders crashed headlong into their skeletal opponents. So many were they and their foe, and arrayed so widely, that the arabyans and elves found themselves taking on not two but three regiments of foot soldiers, while the Reman nobility levelled their lances to attack the great and monstrous dragongheist itself!

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Lord Silvano held his own in the subsequent fight, which the elves around him thought was as much as could be expected from such an unblooded youth, and several skeletons were felled by the riders' lances.

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The mercenary Caliph Gedik Mamidous found himself locked in combat against a vampire, and the two of them drew blood (much to the vampire's distraction) but neither could fell the other. His emir and camel riders brought down many skeletons in both the regiments they faced, even the camels breaking several of the enemy into pieces under their heavy, splayed feet. The conjoined impact and heavy casualties so fractured the magical forces animating the undead warriors that thirty more crumbled in the rear ranks! (Game Note: Joint combat of 2 units vs. 3 units won by 10 points, thus 10 extra casualties in each of the skeleton and grave guard regiments!) The Holy Army of Morr had struck what seemed to be a severe blow here on the flank, and the enemy had been significantly sapped of strength. But their charge had been halted, their impetus spent, and now it came to sword blade and lance-butt there was yet still more work to be done.

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Although General d'Alessio had faced such a beast as the dragon before, at Pontremola, he had to steel himself as he drew close. Perhaps it was a blessing that neither he nor his companions could see the full monstrosity of that which faced them through the slits in their steel vizors? Several lance-points found their marks, and the beast was visibly injured by the attack, even stumbling as it momentarily lost its balance.

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Yet, like the camels and elves to their left, their charge alone could not finish off the monster, and now they would have to fight without the driving force gifted by their initial charge, their lance attacks becoming mere prods rather than piercing thrusts. (Game note: They caused one wound, and 3 more due to combat resolution. So close!)

Crossbows, swivel guns and the volley gun all did what they could to harm the approaching blue-skinned brutes, but with little apparent effect. The musketeers were too busy re-loading their extra-ordinarily long-barrelled pieces to contribute their own leaden shot. Captain di Barbiano decided to join the effort and targeted the same body of monstrous zombies, and was left dumbfounded when one of his piece's barrels blew apart and the other sent a round shot into the dirt rather than the foe. His first contribution to battle after all those weeks and weeks of marching, only to find his firepower (and the value of his investments) reduced by half!

On the far right of the Holy Army's line, the maestro's engine continued its trundling movement through the gap in the lines before it.

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In an effort to ensure its path towards the main enemy regiments remained clear, the crossbows atop the hill behind and the pistol-armed dwarf rangers accompanying it, managed to reduce the hunt's hounds down to only two, while the vizier's second attempt to rain magical lightening upon the hunt's riders halved their number in a dramatic explosion of flashes.

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As the spears of blue light manifested in the air around the ghostly riders, the vizier began cackling, but this quickly turned into a more pained sound as he clutched his head and had to be caught by the men at his side before tumbled over. When his hands came away he seemed dazed, yet took his place in the front rank once more. None of his companions thought to question him concerning what had happened - his trembling was proof enough that something had gone awry in his conjurations.

The duchess's army had been visibly harmed, and those who could see it was now allowed themselves to believe that the day really would be theirs - even as the duchess herself led her mounted guard in a charge against the Reman nobility struggling against the dragongheist.

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But then the vampires summoned every scrap of etheric wind they could, and commenced the work of repairing and strengthening their warriors. Beside the head-hunter's chariot of skulls, fallen skeletons by the dozen began to get back up to their feet ...

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... and so it went on until nearly every undead regiment in the field was almost entirely whole again. The riders, every one of whom had dared to hope that they were only moments away from bursting through the few soldiers remaining in their way, which would have allowed them to turn upon the vampire duchess's flank and rear to begin the real work of dispatching her army, suddenly found themselves facing regiments almost as strong as they had been when they first entered the field!

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A sickening sense of doubt began to spread through the men, elves and dwarfs of the arch-lector's army. It was not merely fear of the foe, but the soldierly knowledge that if the foe would not even stay dead, then the fight could only go one way.

Was this the beginning of the end of the arch-lector's holy war?
Last edited by Padre on Sun Oct 08, 2017 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Tue Sep 13, 2016 7:41 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

The Battle for Ebino, Part Four

As the winged horrors behind the regimented skeletons on the undead right did little more than hop and flap, merely edging toward the middle of the field as if they could not agree between themselves where first to strike, the vampire duchess herself showed no such tardiness and led her undead horsemen in a charge against the Reman nobility. She had sensed her old master's killer, General d'Alessio, among them, and sought to wreak vengeance for what he had done. Her mount's blood-hued barding marked her out, although she radiated such an aura of evil that she would have drawn the gaze of every living thing in her proximity whatever she wore.

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At the very moment she and her riders clashed with the Remans, the fight upon the slopes to her right was going badly for the living. Fallen elves, Arabyans and skeletons tumbled together down the hill. Such a hard fight, combined with the recent resurrection of nearly every skeleton they had fought so hard to kill, sapped the resolve of the living warriors and they turned to flee. Both camel and horse-riders outpaced their pedestrian pursuers, with the Caliph Gedik Mamidous leading his own men pell-mell through the Black Guard swordsmen and much further than Lord Silvano and his elves.

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The Holy Army of Morr's left flank, which only a little while before had seemed all but victorious, was now in considerable disarray. There was still a chance the riders might rally, and the swordsmen might find the courage to stand their ground, and if also the Reman nobility could maintain their fight against the monstrous dragongheist, and if the winged horrors continued their dithering, then the tables could yet perhaps turn again? But this faint hope receded when the Vampire Duchess' blade cut General d'Alessio in two, before he could even lift his own sword to parry. As his horribly mutilated corpse tumbled to the ground in two places, his plate-armoured companions somehow found the courage to maintain their ground in the centre of the field (1), which allowed the Estalian pikemen behind them to advance 'at the charge', the serried ranks of their pike-tips aimed squarely at the osseous riders. In the process, they carried the somewhat flustered Father Biagino along with them.

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So it was that Biagino found himself caught in the midst of massive melee. He flailed his sword almost without thought, his mind wholly intent upon the prayers necessary to summon Morr's blessings. The words came easy, the gestures less so (for obvious reasons), but to no avail. He was lost from Morr's sight. A chill ran through him as he understood that in this moment of dire need, he had been abandoned by the god to whom he had given so much. (2)

As the elven riders and young Lord Silvano turned to face the enemy once again, the Arabyan swordsmen found the courage to charge the small company of skeletons to their front ...

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... while behind Gedik Mamidous halted his camel riders and ordered them to reform as a body.

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Captain di Barbiano's last surviving gun sent a ball ploughing harmlessly into the ground before the blue-skinned horrors in the midst of the enemy's line ...

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... then enough crossbow bolts and musket bullets found better marks, felling three of them. All this was watched by the arch-lector Calictus, standing alone beside the swivel guns that had been removed from the steam tank, obscured from the enemy's eyes by a wagon of stones sitting beside the incomplete defence-works. He had barely moved since the battle began, and indeed it seemed to those nearby that he was lost in prayerful reverie. In truth, it was fear and doubt that had held him so from the first moment he saw the frightful nature of the foe. There were many among the Holy Army of Morr who still believed the battle could be won, especially as the entire right wing of the army had yet to engage the enemy, including the large mob of indomitable, frenzied fanatics and the pistol-toting veteran dwarfs next to them, while the riders who had fled upon the left had already rallied rather than leaving the field. But his holiness was not reassured by these facts, instead his mind was filled with turmoil. How could such terrors possibly be defeated? Had he tarried too long at Viadaza allowing them to grow too strong? Would the Arabyans, being mercenaries and not servants of Morr, prove willing to fight? Did he send too large a force to assist in the war to the south, thus critically weakening this army? Was he unworthy of holy Morr's blessings? Were his nightmares of the last few nights coming true?

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As the priests and dedicates attending the carroccio abandoned their hymns and instead set about mortifying their flesh with flails and cords, conjuring a religious ecstasy of pain to channel the spiritual power of Morr (4), the rather more physical presence of the steam-tank seemed unstoppable as it coursed its way towards the heart of the enemy's line.

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The Arabyan swordsmen, on the other hand, seemed only to contact the enemy for the briefest of moments, before they turned and ran, heading straight towards their commander Gedik, with the skeletons in pursuit.

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Their flight thus hindered, the skeletons soon caught them, bloodily tearing through them and on into the camel riders. Gedik Mamidous thus found himself once again in combat against the aureate-armoured vampire ...

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... but this time he had lost the will to fight, and as two of his riders perished upon ancient blades, he ordered the remainder to flee as they had so often practised. Once more they successfully escaped their pursuers. Gedik had decided enough was enough - he was not going to allow the destruction of his entire company in an unwinnable battle - so he commanded his horn-player to sound the general retreat, then hurtled with his riders through the camp and away from the battle for good.

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Although the arch-lector had never before heard that particular call upon the horn, he could guess its meaning. Besides, even if it were not an order to retreat, the caliph's flight could not bode when almost half the army’s strength consisted of Arabyans. Within moments he could see that several companies of desert-men had indeed begun to fall back.

The duchess's foul servants were launching their attacks across their entire front. The winged horrors finally chose their target, beginning an arcing flight towards the Sharlian Riders. Lord Silvano steeled himself, lowering his visor and starting to speak his command to stand their ground, but Captain Presrae suddenly clutched his arm. The elf gestured towards the fleeing Arabyans, saying, "It's over, my lord. Best we go now. Your father would not want to lose another son." Lord Silvano exhaled, his frustration evident, then turned his horse away. Accompanied by the elves, he too left the field, galloping harder and faster than he had ever done so before to keep up with the Sharlian Riders' white steeds. He did not look back.

The elves and Arabyans were not alone, for the dwarfs, facing a charge by the remaining riders of the ghostly hunt, chose that very same moment to leave. They had been ordered to accompany the steam tank, but they could not keep up with in, and now felt that they had been foolishly misemployed, which in turn wounded their pride. Nor could their continued efforts possibly help the steam engine, for it had now stalled as a cloud of viridescent spirits swarmed over and under, through and into it, plunging the crew into a waking nightmare. The crew's screams and the enemy's eerie wailing mingled together just like the engine's vented steam swirled and mixed with the spirits' ethereal vapours. The maestro saw it all from his place on the scaffolding (he had not moved from that vantage point since the engine left), and as the dwarfs fled by he shouted but one word, "Wait!" before leaping down to join them. (5)

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Suddenly it seemed as though a dark cloud had moved over the field of battle, spreading its shadow upon the ground. This was no natural phenomenon, rather it was an emanation from the huge, hellish conglomeration of grisly parts moving at the heart of the duchess's army, and in its absence of light it bore a magical mortification.

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His Holiness the arch-lector himself felt its cold touch deep inside his mortal frame, and was left gasping for air while nearby umpteen musketeers, swivel gunners, pikemen and artillerymen fell lifeless to the ground (to the fearful confusion of their fellows). This curse seemed to fan the winds of dark magic for it was then that every soldier of the pike regiment reeled under the duchess's enchanted gaze, fumbling for their footing as if they were suddenly made drunk. Lord Adolfo felt the surge too, and in his boiling rage, which had grown only greater as the battle grew longer, he garnered more necromantic magic that he could possibly control, so that even as undead riders and horrors were reanimated, the five guards closest to him burst into pieces as the uncontrollable energies spilling from the sides of his spell ripped through them.

Having been distracted, as well as lulled into a foolish and false sense of security by the heavy wagon of stones before him, Calictus at last realised the abominable, charnel agglomeration was coming directly at him. Its ever-shifting tangle of parts held a sick fascination, and he could not look away from it. The noise of it, a convoluted choir of grinding shrieks and howls, seemed to be directed at him in particular.

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He could also hear a voice, pathetically faint but alive, and nothing like the pure hatred-made-sound emanating from the mortified monstrosity. It was calling him. "Your Holiness!" There was snarling too, and more shouting from further away: "Run! Run!"

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The Estalians' pikes had become unnaturally heavy in their hands due to the cruel chill of the lingering shadow-curse, but the foe before them was newly invigorated. All this would combine to bring about their ruin.

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Duchess Maria, despite sitting side saddle and deceptively delicate, slew half a dozen pikemen with her own blade, while her riders hewed down another five and the dragongheist's fangs tore through a knight's neck, removing head, helm and plume with one snap! Held fast by the scrum of armoured men and mounts surrounding him, Biagino could do little more than attempt to stay upon his feet. His sword was lost, though he did not know it, and through gritted teeth he spoke a desperate fragment of prayer over and over: “Into Your hands … Into Your hands …”

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Unsurprisingly, the pikemen became overwhelmed by panic-fear. They stumbled backwards, slipping and tripping over the dead and dying. One or two yielded to the madness and suicidally launched themselves at the foe, but most dropped their pikes as they attempted to escape. Nearly all were torn to pieces by the duchess and her savage servants. In the midst of the mayhem was Father Biagino, his last worldly moment being the sight and sound of an iron lance punching through the helmeted head of a transfixed soldier, and his final thought so dreadful that there were no words to express it.

More and more of the undead army came on now, including a vast throng of vile, rotten, walking corpses on the left.

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Captain di Barbiano ordered his surviving crewmen to limber his one remaining piece and flee, while both large regiments of Arabyan spearmen, now that word had reached them of General Gedik’s departure, began a surprisingly orderly withdrawal. One of the companies of crossbowmen at least lingered long enough to loose a few shots before their own departure ...

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... while nearly all those with the baggage wagons began hauling their burdens away, given some confidence by the sight of the Arabyan force's disciplined departure. Yet there were some still among the living who had not yet even considered retreat, for they were so filled with an holy lust for battle that they had utterly failed to notice the collapse of the army around them. With Father Antonio and their bell-cart at the fore, the flagellating dedicates' chains clattered and flames sputtered as they at last decided the enemy was close enough to attack.

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Screaming battle cries in the form adulatory prayers to holy Morr, they charged headlong into the last few riders of the ghostly hunt.

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Nought but wisps of etheric essence remained as Morr's holy warriors burst straight through the ghostly riders, then plunged deep and messily into the crowd of un-corpses beyond. The mass of rotting flesh swallowed them up entirely, and even as the flagellants tore foe after foe after foe apart, the vampiric conjurers summoned more and more to forge a huge, hellish heap of tangled, mangled corpses - dying, dead and undead. It was the last time anyone ever saw of Father Antonio and his band of scarred brothers alive.

Almost without thinking, the arch-lector had staggered away from the wagon of stones, but kept turning back to look at the approaching horrors behind. He began prayer after prayer, each time uttering only a few words before sensing its failure and starting a different one. Then came the voice again, "Your Holiness, please! Make haste."

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"What?" said Calictus as the riders at the front of the impossible, floating abomination levelled their spears and the dragongheist's head thrust towards him to release its hideous screech.

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The appalling sound assaulted him body and soul (6), then congealed sufficiently to knock him from his feet.

"Oh dear ..." he began, but then spoke no more, nor ever again.


Game Notes:
(1) The arch-lector’s player made a snake eyes break test. This was to be the ‘exception that proved the rule’ regarding his otherwise atrocious dice rolling!
(2) Snake eyes winds of magic roll. There was a certain sort of consistency in the player’s rolling! I've never been a superstitious man, but events were making me so.
(3) This was one of the difficult pictures I have ever had to 'clean up'. My careless players had strewn the tabletop with dice, magic cards, drinks, snacks, and even a hand. Ooooh, if they only knew? (Although that would require the pair of them to read these notes.) Mind you, I shouldn't complain - in the later picture where the Caliph Gedik Mamidous fled past the tent I had forgotten to attach the Reman Morrite emblems on the tent and so it was still showing the Compagnia del Sole's device. That took some work with MS Paint to put right too!
(4)-D3 power dice for the undead player next turn as per the scenario rules.
(5) From what we could make of the steam tank rules, it seemed it was well and truly stuck - unable to move, whilst also unable to harm the spirit hosts. Daz, the undead player, was cackling. I think this is what he had intended from the start!
(6) The Mortice Engine's Ghostly Howl failed to harm the arch-lector, but the Terrorgheist's Death Shriek caused 7 wounds! His holiness managed to ward save 2, but the 5 that got through killed him, indeed killed him very, very dead.
Last edited by Padre on Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post Sun Oct 02, 2016 6:40 pm

Re: Tilea IC2401 (Campaign#8)

Nobili Immortale
Sequel to the Battle for Ebino

Biagino could remember almost nothing but dreams, spilling one after the other for what seemed like years on end. Somehow his life had flipped over, turning the waking world into a distant, half-memory, while his sleeping sojourns were experienced and recalled in great and lengthy detail.

Nearly all his dreams consisted of two particular kinds. The first kind, the painful ones, were claustrophobic affairs, in which he could barely move, if indeed at all. In these his body ached to every extremity, his skin itched and prickled all over, and he felt hunger that went beyond mere want of food to want of everything, from air to drink, from movement to company. He could sense the fat falling from his bones as his body seemed to consume itself from within. His every muscle was perpetually tensed, while his mouth remained clenched shut in a grimace, despite a steadily growing pressure within his jaws. The second kind of dreams were the old, familiar nightmares, unfolding as they always had done, to reveal or foretell the horrors of the world.

And so Biagino knew he was dreaming now. It was one of his recurring nightmares, in which he was surrounded by the living dead, trapped deep within their realm. There was no escape, nor could he hide, and so no relief either.

This time, however, it was not a nightmare, and not because he was aware he was dreaming, but simply because it was no longer terrifying. In every other sense the dream was the same: foul hands upon him, their rotten, worm-ridden flesh touching his own; dead-eyes somehow peering at him from dark orbits; the screams of a dying man mingled with the gurgled groans of the undead; his mouth filling with hot blood. All this still happened, but now the hands touching him were doing as he himself had instructed, while the pus filled eyes were those of attentive, obedient servants awaiting his further command. The dying man had perished by Biagino's own hand, and rather than gagging on the blood, he gulped it down hungrily, like a starving man given warm broth.

It was the same dream in every particular, except he was not the same man.

Then something new happened, which had never before been a part of the dream. Someone spoke to him, and it was the voice of a goddess.

“Ah, sweet priest,” she said. “You have awoken from your slumber. I see you have already breakfasted. You must have been so very hungry.”

Biagino forgot his musings concerning the dream, even that it was a dream, and so failed to notice that it was now continuing longer than it had ever done before. He gently pushed the cold hand away that had been placing a stole around his neck …

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… then turned away from his meal, letting the man fall to the ground, to look at the speaker. It was the Duchess Maria, more beautiful than he had ever seen her, her flesh as pale as it was flawless, her eyes alight with delightfully playful malice. He smiled, for it filled him with pleasure to look upon her. He remembered the other times he had been in her presence. The memories came flooding back, each one parting to reveal another: as a novice attending the Lector of Miragliano during Lady Anabella’s wedding, when the Duchess was a maid of honour; during his first and second visits to the Ebinan court upon the lector’s business; and in Viadaza when he and Father Gonzalvo had obtained an audience to petition her support for the crusade.

The duchess strode directly over to him, reaching out as she did so, revealing a serpent entwined about her arm.

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When she reached him, she stroked his cheek, and he could feel the flickering, licking tongue of the coiled serpent. Rather than the surprise he should have felt at such strange familiarity from a noblewoman towards a lowly priest, instead he suddenly remembered what was happening.

“I forgot this was a dream,” he said with a smile.

“This is no dream, sweet priest," explained the duchess. "You are awake, and close to being more so now than you have ever been.”

As she spoke, one of the shambling servants handed Biagino a crozier, headed with a crook of solid gold, then staggered back with a groan.

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Upon clutching it he was surprised at how light it was, until realisation dawned and he instead became surprised at his own strength. Lastly, he wondered why it had been given him.

The duchess now laid her hand upon his chest and he could feel the tips of her exquisitely sharp nails. She held his eye, as if to read his thoughts.

“The pretty stick is yours,” she said. “For you are made high-priest today, to rule over the true church.”

Biagino grinned. “Usually my dreams are true, even the strange ones.”

The duchess’s hand slid up fast to grab him by the chin, her nails piercing his flesh as she clutched tightly, while the serpent slithered around his neck to his lick at his other cheek. Barely feeling any pain, Biagino was duly reassured that this must be a dream.

“You are not listening, dear priest,” whispered the duchess, her mouth close to his ear, her breath cold. “This is no dream. It is Morr who sleeps, not us. You need never do so again, unless you choose it.”

The first part of what she said made sense to Biagino. Morr was the god of dreams, and so also the god of the dead, who had begun their long and final slumber. But the second part meant little to him.

“The living pray to Morr for help, and he answers them in their dreams,” the duchess continued. "There he can frolic and strut in their make-believe worlds. Yet they foolishly think him powerful in the waking-world too. In this they are wrong. He never wakes. He yearns only to usher all others into his eternal sleep. He is a greedy and jealous god who can never be satisfied.”

Biagino was surprised, for instead of being offended at such blasphemy, it all seemed to make sense, and indeed somehow he had always known. A hat of crimson cloth was now placed upon his head, and the duchess, still clutching his chin, turned his head from one side to the other, as if admiring it. Suddenly she yanked his face to hers, and kissed him. Her lips were cold, made colder by the fact that his lips were cold too. When she released him she took a step away, her pet snake recoiling itself about her arm.

“We refuse to join Morr's idle slumber,” she said. “We will not allow ourselves to be imprisoned in his oneiric realm, to have him lord it over us. We choose instead not to live yet never to die. We can rest but need never sleep. And we serve a master greater by far, not merely born a god, but who made himself one through power, cunning and the force of his irresistible will.”

“We?” asked Biagino, despite the feeling that the word was indeed somehow right.

“Vampiri,” said the duchess, standing straight. “Nobili immortale, governanti della notte.” Then she smiled and licked some of his blood from her finger tips. “Succhiatori di sangue.”

She gestured to the ground, and Biagino looked down at the dying man lying there. He felt no pity, only satiety. He let his tongue run over his razor sharp fangs. In place of hunger and pain he felt strength and power, and in that moment, at long last, he awoke.

He knew what he was.

The duchess gestured and one of the servants dragged the dying man away, its hand placed over his face, its fingers curled into his mouth, hauling him like one might a sack.

Biagino watched without really seeing, for his mind was racing as true understanding suffused into him, gifting a gleefully wicked joy. The urge to laugh was overwhelming, but instead he was surprised to find himself giving vent to a snarling hiss.

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The duchess smiled, almost coyly, then curtseyed. “Your holiness," she addressed him. "High Priest of the ever-living god Nagash.”

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Last edited by Padre on Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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