@ Damo: Thanks. I hope you like this next bit (I think it has pictures from eight different locations, all with different figures!!) And yeah, paint. It's mighty therapuetic and fun. I myself am now modelling about 50 zombified dedicants (mixing Mantic zombies and ghouls with Frostgrave cultists and GW flagellants with a dash of Perry Miniature thrown in).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------By Order of the Praepositus GeneralisThe City of Remas, Spring IC 2403
At the ruins of Tragustan’s Forum
Brother Vincenzo, Admonitor of the Disciplinati di Morr and thus Father Carradalio’s right-hand man, stood motionless as three more dedicants approached the ruins. He carried his staff of office, the brass top containing the holy relic of Saint Albudin’s upper teeth, while at his side hung a flask of thrice blessed water from the sacred spring at Tabbinu, a potent ward against vampires, the mere touch of which would burn and blister their skin more horribly than aqua fortis would mortal flesh. His many layered robes were voluminous, the sleeves so wide they hung to his knees, his heavy woollen hood almost entirely obscuring his eyes.
His guards, posted in a circle about him, gave the newcomers no heed, instead continuing to peer purposefully out into the surrounding woods whilst clutching their spears or polearms. This was just one of several such visiting groups that day, neither the first nor the last, and like all the others they were attired in the grey and red robes favoured by the dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr. In such circumstances, the guards’ inattentiveness was understandable, but it now occurred to Vincenzo it might well prove dangerous. For all anyone knew, these three could be assassins in disguise – a sinister possibility made no less likely by the fact that two of them wore the full hoods so common amongst dedicants.
As they drew close, Vincenzo focused on the one face he could see, for the man wore nothing but a large zucchetto cap upon his head, and was pleased to discover it was Brother Gaspare. Further reassurance was provided by the fact Gaspare carried a sword, his left hand clutching the pommel, which would be odd indeed if he were an unwilling captive being used by the others to gain proximity. Nevertheless, now was not the time to make assumptions. This was a day of many murders and multiple treacheries across the length and breadth of the city. Success required calculated risks, not unnecessary ones.
“Halt,” he ordered while they were still ten yards away. “Speak.”
It was Gaspare who replied. “By your leave, Brother Vincenzo, we have come to report the southern quarter is almost completely taken. Only a handful of dwellings remain barricaded against us, none of any significance, and their defiance cannot last.”
“Praise be to Morr!” prayed Vincenzo. “So the palazzos are already taken? Both Capistrano and Ordini?”
“Aye, brother, both of them. Some Capistrani bravi made a stand on the Ponte Sistotti, having lit a great fire on the Ponte Ruptus to ensure none could pass there instead. They were not many, but Marshal Raimondo and the Brothers of Righteous Pain* didn’t even stop to count them before charging the bridge.”
“Once those few were slain, those beyond the bridge lay down their arms, protesting they never wished to fight, only those fools already dead. The palazzo gates lay open, and Roberto Capistrani led prayers of thanks that we had so righteously corrected the rebellious bravi serving his foolish nephew on the bridge.”
“Still, he was taken prisoner, yes?”
“And his nephew?” enquired Vincenzo.
“Either fled or hiding. Marshal Raimondo is searching for him now. If he is in the palazzo he will be found.”
Vincenzo was surprised at this news. He had expected considerable resistance from such a family as the Capistrano – the Reman nobilities’ long and bloody history of time-honoured hatreds had spurred many a clash of arms between them, even full blown sieges. The duels, disputes and disagreements between their petty armies of bravi could turn a street red, and their pride was famously obdurate. Perhaps the ease of victory was Morr’s work? Perhaps the bravi recognised the holy origins of the dedicati’s fervour, and their fear of Morr proved greater than their pride?
“What of the Ordini family?” asked Vincenzo.
“I myself witnessed what happened there,” said Brother Gaspare. “We approached their palazzo at the very same moment Brother Raimondo charged the Capistrano’s bridge. The Ordini’s men came out, armed and armoured, to meet us. No doubt they had already had word concerning what happened at the western Palazzos and knew full well we did not have gentle intentions.”
“They came out to fight?” interrupted Vincenzo. “Why would they do so?”
“I believe they thought a simple show of strength and the spillage of blood would send us running. We had crossbows, but such was the spirit filling us that several brothers dashed forwards to fight before any bolts could be released.”
“One of their captains ran at Brother Damiano, a furious madness in his eyes, but Damiano simply waited, his axe raised …
“The captain lost his head when the cut was made. The others faltered, but not our brothers. Half the bravi were killed before another captain, maybe one of Galdio Ordini’s sons, ordered their retreat.”
“Such was our fury that before they reached the gate a further half of those left were slain. They could not hold the gate against us long enough to close it, and we took the palace easily. What few survived are now being held, as are the servants and a number of the family. Old Galdeo was not there, nor his sons.”
“You said one of his sons was in the street.”
“Possibly, brother. But that man could not be found either.”
Brother Vincenzo remembered Father Carradalio’s words: “Divide and rule – that’s the way. We must first foster the factions’ mutual distrusts, fan their rivalries and then, when the attack is made and most important of all, ensure they don’t have time to coordinate anyway. By the time they realise the danger they are in, it will be too late to unite into any sort of effective opposition.”
Surely, thought Vincenzo, one or two escaped nobles could not present any sort of real threat later on? Besides, the noble factions were not the greatest threat to the Disciplinati di Morr’s capture of the city.
“And the arch lector’s guard?” Vincenzo asked. “Did they not interfere?”
It was one of the hooded dedicants who spoke, his voice somewhat muffled as a consequence.
“We dealt with them before the attacks were begun. Father Gabrielle and myself met Captain Vogel in the first hour of daylight, in the gardens behind the Palazzo Montini. The captain said he knew what must be done, pledging himself a true servant of Morr, and agreed to Father Carrradalio’s terms.”
“All of them?”
“Aye, brother, but he demanded a particular concession.”
Captain Luppolt Vogel was a mercenary from Nuln, a swaggering bravado who instilled complete loyalty in his men. That, and the fact that all were veterans skilled in the martial arts, was what made the arch-lector’s palace guard dangerous, not their numbers, for they were little more than a hundred strong. If the captain had chosen to oppose the Disciplinati’s work that day he could not have prevented their victory, but a lot more dedicants would lie dead by nightfall. Vincenzo was glad to hear that the captain was enlightened enough to recognise, and accept, Morr’s proper and necessary supremacy.
Father Carradalio had ordered that an offer of promotion should be made, making Captain Vogel commander of the entire Reman garrison, and that he be permitted to enlarge his personal company to at least double its current size. In return, the captain was to promise not to interfere with the day’s events, nor to assist any faction or individual opposed to the Disciplinati’s coup. Vincenzo had not expected the captain to ask for anything else.
“What concession?” asked Vincenzo.
“That he and his soldiers be allowed to protect the lectors from harm. When Father Gabrielle objected, saying that agreeing to such would allow the lectors to act against us, Vogel denied that was so. He said protecting them from harm did not mean permitting their communication with the city’s nobility and other factions.”
Hidden by the shadow of his heavy hood …
... Brother Vincenzo raised his eyebrows. “So the captain’s idea of protection is to keep them prisoner?” he asked.
“After a fashion. He even suggested that their ‘protection’ would increase if the lectors expressed any opposition to Father Carradalio, in this way preventing them from taking any action that might lead to their own harm.”
The mercenary obviously took his contractual vows seriously, thought Vincenzo, even if he had found a convenient way to follow them by the letter rather than by the spirit. He decided that was something to keep in mind during all future dealings with the man.
So far, so good, thought Vincenzo. Every report, and almost all had now come in, was of success. There had been a high cost in lives, including many a dedicant lost to the holy cause, but the city was almost wholly under Father Carradalio’s control. By midnight the task would be all but complete, so that as the Morrite lectors met the next day to cast their votes for the new arch-lector, they would surely be forced to choose Father Carradalio. To do otherwise would be to fly in the face of common sense, for Father Carradalio, Praepositus Generalis of the Disciplinati di Morr, would control the entire city. He would not be merely the strongest power in Remas, he would be the only power. Once he also had the arch-lectorship then his most holy and enlightened rule would be complete.
With luck it would happen just in the nick of time, for umpteen forces loomed outside the city walls, threatening at the least to upset the ascendancy of Morr’s true church, and at the most to destroy the city completely. Any one of these forces could arrive, and at any hour. Captain-General Scaringella might return with the remnants of the Reman army, declaring martial law and thus his own rule …
… or perhaps Razger Boulderguts’ double army of ogres would outmanoeuvre the captain-general and attack first?
It was even rumoured that the mercenary Compagnia del Sol, newly arrived from Estalia at the nearby port of Urbimo, had been contracted by Luigi Grasica and Overlord Matuzzi to seize the city for them.
Worst of all, the vile and abominable, unliving army of the vampire duchess seemed again to be moving southwards.
Once Father Caradallio, guided by Morr’s spirit, was in possession of the church, city and army of Remas, his forces swelled by legions of fanatical dedicants, then decisive action could at last be taken. In the past, Remas had been too slow to respond, what with a dithering overlord and an uncertain clergy. For years, the first response to danger was to issue declarations and warnings, to plead for aid from neighbouring principalities, or to hire another company of mercenaries to sew into the realm’s mismatched, patch-work army. As Father Carradalio had preached to the throng of dedicants only the day before:
“We are the living embodiment of Morr in this world: his eyes and ears, his voice and limbs. As such we already command the citizens’ fears, for all must die and all fear what will become of them when they do. Once we take the reins of worldly power, then in time the people’s hearts and souls will belong to us too, for only those who yield unto Morr’s true church will be permitted to prosper. If Remas is to survive, if the living of Tilea are to defeat the unholy wickedness that threatens to swallow us whole, consuming both our bodies and souls, we must first annihilate all enemies of the faith, both those within the church and without, purifying the clergy, cleansing Remas, and forging a mighty army of blessed dedicants through which Morr’s mighty will can be channelled in furious anger.”* Fratellanza di dolore giusti