Author Topic: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)  (Read 35872 times)

padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #195 on: October 21, 2019, 09:18:24 PM »
I know what I did with that photo. I copied the wrong sort of code from Imgur. Should be fixed now.

So, here's the next piece - the final part of the general report. Hopefully my turn around times are reaching satisfactory levels Damian!


Another excerpt from Bonacorso Fidelibus’s work: “The Many Wars of the Early 25th Century”

Autumn, 2403 continued

In the central parts of the peninsula, war had wracked the realms as would a violent storm or a great wave washing back and forth repeatedly, wrecking all in its path with each passage. The city of Trantio, ravaged by the War of the Princes, wasted by the plundering progress of Boulderguts’ brutes, then polluted when possessed by the putrid army of the Church of Nagash, had now been captured by the Grand Alliance army commanded by Lord Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore. Having driven the undead force from the field of battle in the Valley of Norochia, then decimated the rest of the army as it fled north, a large portion of Lord Alessio’s great army had been forced to tarry some time, due to the need to cleanse the realm of corruption. Just as had happened twice at Viadaza, there were thousands of corpses to be destroyed, so that the evil that had animated them might be prevented from doing so again. Great pits were dug for the burning of the corpses in the necropolis valley, then the land was re-consecrated, while every corner of every building, street and alley in the city was scoured for now dead undead. Bones both bloody and dry were piled upon carts, most of which were taken to the valley for burning, but some were burned in lesser gardens of Morr within the city precincts. Here a severed limb still twitched, there a lipless jaw snapped shut, while many a rotting hand clutched and grabbed, as the evil curse that had once gripped the city lingered. Priests accompanied all the labourers and soldiers as they went about their horrible work, praying incessantly to ensure that the dead remained dead until they could be turned to ash.



Lord Alessio led the rest of the army, by far the biggest contingent, north, moving as rapidly as possible in the hope of catching what small fraction of the enemy had escaped his army. By the time he reached the ruins of the walled town of Scorcio, however, he had come to accept he could not hope to catch the foe, for the enemy’s tireless legs made him quick. Furthermore, both Scorcio and Preto had been as badly tainted as the city of Trantio, and to leave them unremedied would have been dangerously reckless. And so the great army’s advance was temporarily prevented by the necessities arising from its already achieved successes and progresses. 

The last of the enemy, reduced to a mob of once-dedicant zombies, who even in undeath remained frantic and strange in their motions, as well as a company of more ancient, osseous warriors, were commanded by one of the duchess’s favoured servants, her archpriest Biagino. Once he served Morr, gifted by visions and so driven by inspired purpose to be one of the leading agents in the raising of the god’s holy armies, but now, since his capture, he had become a twisted mockery of his once-living self. Running night and day without halt, taking the most barren and inaccessible route to make pursuit all the harder for any who attempted to do so, he led the last remnant of his army back towards his beloved lady.



Some powerful and wicked sense, a gift of his cursed affliction, directed him towards Ebino, where the Duchess Maria was. She had utterly overwhelmed the army of Morrite dedicants who had marched to face her, killing them to a man. Their bodies lay thickly about the earthwork defences they had fashioned for their camp, along with the cooling corpses of dishonoured Reman palazzio guard (sent to serve Father Carradalio a consequence of their inaction during the Discplinati’s seizure of Remas).



While a living commander would have been faced with the inconvenience of clouds of fat flies and the overpowering stench of a thousand corpses requiring burial, she and her necromantic servant Safiro saw only an opportunity to increase the fighting strength of her army. For hours and hours, perhaps days, she and foul Safiro conjured dark, magical energies to coalesce within and animate the corpses …




… so that one by one, the once-holy army of the Disciplinati di Morr and the Reman guardsmen struggled to their feet, then staggered, ungainly, away from the defences …



…  to muster themselves awkwardly outside, there to await the duchess’s further command.

Perhaps the unnatural strength and agility possessed by so many vampires allowed (that which was once) Maria to stroll easily, even regally through the carnage of battle …



… to beckon up the dead with a calmly sinister gracefulness? Whatever the truth, the ultimate fate of blessèd Father Carradalio’s Disciplinati di Morr, in horribly direct opposition to their most earnestly, painfully determined goal, was merely to swell the stinking ranks of the duchess’s Ebinan army. Round and round the horror churned, as now yet again another army would have to face the foe in battle, to kill that which was already dead.



In Campogrotta there was a new ruler - or at least a ruler-in-waiting, serving an apprenticeship of sorts before obtaining sole possession - for King Jaldeog of Karak Borgo had gifted the entire realm, in a sorry state indeed after the harsh rule of the ogres, to the condottiere commander of the Compagnia del Sole, Captain Bruno Mazallini. This was done in part as payment of debts, for the king had hired the company to assist in his war against Boulderguts’ lieutenants, but then won the war before the mercenaries arrived. But mostly it was done because it was the quickest and easiest way to bring about the return of the realm back to health and security. There were contractual clauses to abide by, of course (such is the way of dwarfs), and a good number of King Jaldeog’s bearded servants yet remained in the city as friendly advisers. Within only weeks life in the city was beginning to return to normality.

Yet other hirelings, the Bretonnian Brabanzon, were marching north, with their fiery new commander, the Lady Perrette, as well as the still-sickly Baron Garoy and a strong contingent of Karak Borgo warriors, making their way to the realm of Ravola there to drive out the last of the brute-bullies Razger Boulderguts had left behind when he embarked upon his bloody chevauchee into the heart of Tilea.

In the city the Bretonnians had so recently departed, the taverns were once again filled with men and dwarfs, clattering tankards and puffing upon pipes, as they forgot their troubles and discussed the opportunities ahead of them.



But for many a week and more it was only those who came from outside the city who could feel any sort of true happiness. Those who had been in the city during its occupation, much reduced in number and to a person grieving the loss of neighbours, friends and family, wore haunted looks upon their faces and struggled to find words for even the most mundane moments. Perhaps some part of them sensed that the apparent return to their old, familiar way of life was transitory? That the future held new horrors sufficient and more to rival those of the past?

For unknown to almost everyone, sly and sinister agents already inhabited the shadows of the darkest hours, creeping surreptitiously through the streets, hither and thither …



… some to watch, others to whisper; for the hour of their coming, for which they had long prepared with complex machinations and conspiracies so deep as to be unfathomable, was at hand.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2019, 09:37:45 PM by padre »

damo_b

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #196 on: October 22, 2019, 01:10:56 PM »
great report,
kill one army of undead and another raises.
still a little slow but getting better  ;D

padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #197 on: October 25, 2019, 08:36:05 AM »
Well, with a little help from you, Damian, we have now moved on a bit!

For any others reading the thread, this story was put together by Damian (who else, as the story involves a conversation between himself and his closest adviser) and then re-written by me to better fit the campaign style of writing. Lots was swapped around, but nothing much was changed in terms of what was said. I did change a bullet hole in a map into a knife, but that was for the picture's sake ... after all, who would even have been able to see a minuscule, pin-prick bullet hole in a map 1 cm by 1.5 cm?

The story>

.................................................................


A TENT IN THE MIDDLE OF WAR
Somewhere in the realm of Trantio, at the end of Autumn 2403

Lord Alessio was glad he was alone. The flash of fury that had just driven him to thrust his knife into the table was not something he would wish his servants and officers to see.  He had a reputation for calmness and self-control to maintain. Still, he thought, he need not beat himself up about his impetuousness, for the news he had received would drive even the most meditative of monks to distraction. If his weakness was nothing more than the mere momentary desire to stick a knife into a map, then it truly paled into insignificance when compared to the weakness of the man whose actions had instigated his action - Duke Guidobaldo.

As his anger subsided, which it quickly did, he looked at the knife and chuckled. It had struck the map exactly where he intended, obliterating the inked name of Pavona in the process.

Movement at the entrance of the tent caught his eye, and he looked up to see Lord Black leaning into the tent.

“My Lord,” said his visitor. “May I?”

Alessio gestured to his friend to enter. As Lord Black strode in he looked immediately at the knife.

“I see you’ve heard the news,” he said, apparently understanding immediately what had just happened. “It never rains but it pours, eh? First the Sartosans sap us of the Luccinans, and now the soldiers of the VMC have become somewhat distracted by war against the Pavonans.”

“We are attempting to fight a war to save all of Tilea, Ned,” said Alessio, “against the enemy of life itself. And what does every other Tilean ruler do to help?”

“They set about attacking each other?”

“Of course! What else?”

Ned leaned upon his scabbarded sword and looked at the map. “Well, at least they’re all willing to fight,” he said.

Alessio gave a pained chuckle.

“So, what do we do?” asked Ned.



Alessio pondered a moment, then spoke, “As I see it, we have three options. We could march to Pavona in an attempt to convince the VMC not to sack the city, then deal with the duke.”

“So, you don’t believe his claim that the VMC murdered Lord Lucca?”

Alessio just rolled his eyes, then continued, “Or we could leave them both to their misery and return home. Whichever squabbling fools survive will have to face the duchess themselves.”

“Aye, and if they then lose for want of sufficient strength, we will end up fighting their walking corpses when the duchess makes them her own.”

“Which leads me to the third option,” said Alessio. “We can press on with the forces we have at our disposal regardless, to try our luck against the duchess despite our lack of allies.”

“Several have tried that before without much success. Do you think the army she commands is as strong as that we defeated in Norochia?”

“If she wiped out an entire horde of fanatical Morrites at Ebino, then she’s not lacking in strength.  I had thought of sending word to the mountain dwarves and the Compagnia del Sole to request that they dispatch a force to join us, but I’ve a feeling they’re still too distracted by the recapture of Campogrotta and the need to deal with the ogres remaining in Ravola. And now that Verezzo has been so badly wounded we can hardly expect their payments to continue, which makes simply feeding our army more difficult. I like and respect his son, as you know, but Duke Guidobaldo picked a terrible time to pull one of his bloody tricks. One would hope the VMC had been here long enough to realise that revenge is a dish best served cold.”

“Can we not put the spending at home on hold a while?” asked Ned. “Do we need a new harbour right now? Cannot Hakim wait a little longer for his lighthouse to be completed? And in light of the threat, even the Ravernans might be willing to show patience over the pace of the works in their realm.”

“We could save gold at home, yes” agreed Alessio, “but if the Sartosans move north then that gold will be needed at home.”

“So, which is it going to be?” asked Ned.

Alessio prized the knife from the map and pushed the torn edges where Pavona used to be flat again.

“That’s the question,” said Alessio.


padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #198 on: December 20, 2019, 05:44:15 PM »
Back Again!

This was the second time young King Ferronso had to return to his city in shame. It seemed strange to him to suffer the ignominy twice, but such was his life recently! Nothing was going right for him.

Once again, the sky was darkening angrily as a storm brewed, and like before he knew there would be no warm welcome awaiting him, rather scowling faces and half-heard grumblings. He had expected to return a conquering hero, yet this was as far from that as could be imagined, which laced his shame with heart-wrenching disappointment.

His one consolation was that his people did not know just how deep his guilt ran. If they had known, then instead of mere, muttering sullenness there would be mockery, the hurling of insults, even rocks. His own silence and that of his guards who shared his secret shame, was all that was needed to conceal the truth. It did not, however, stop guilt wracking the king himself.

That summer, Ferronso, brimming with hopeful pride, had ridden off with Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore to join the holy war against the vampire duchess’s servants. In his absence, his city and the realm surrounding it had been invaded and overrun by Sartosan corsairs, who stripped it of everything of worth, ravaged every lady, maid and wench they could find and killed any who complained or stood in their way, even those who merely looked askance at them. Meanwhile, just before the great battle of the Valley of Norochia, doubt suddenly assailed the young king, filling him with such a fear for his realm that he abandoned the ‘holy’ cause, leaving behind just sufficient strength to save face and hurried homewards with his royal guards. Returning too late to stop the pirates, he had now failed doubly: breaking both his vow to fight the vampires as well as neglecting his kingly duty to protect his realm.

But neither of these failures were what really troubled his conscience, rather it was the fact that when he had returned the Sartosan pirates were still there, ransacking his realm, and he had dared not interfere. His guards told him it would be not only tactical folly but almost certain death. So, he had hidden in the trees and watched as his enemies plundered all they could. Worse still, he had felt comforted by his soldiers’ words, for they meant he did not have to place himself in danger.

He had watched his people suffer while feeling relief that he should not interfere!

Now, under an ominous sky, he and his companions skulked home. An observer who knew nothing of what had happened would never have thought to employ the word ‘skulk’, for the king and his guards were gloriously attired in their most fashionable and expensive armour, plumed in copious ostrich feathers, riding the finest of mounts, barded in colourfully enamelled plates. But to the king, skulking back was exactly what they were doing.



Ferronso was deep in thought as he and his company drew near the city, wondering if his name had already been tarnished for the rest of time, before he had even fought one battle. ‘Ferronso the Absent’? ‘Ferronso the Fool’? The glowering sky reflected his dark mood. The city was quiet, as one might expect from a wounded animal, curled up in anguish. Although perhaps, thought the king, there should be the sound of whimpering?



He could hear his royal standard fluttering by his side, the jangle of harnesses, the clattering of armour and the thump of hooves as the heavily burdened, heavy horses trotted along. Although he knew the outskirts of the town were now close, he could not bring himself to lift his head and look, but instead fixed his eyes on his hand clutching the reins. Strange, he thought, those are the reins I had on my pony as a child! The memory was not a happy one, for he had taken far too long learning to ride, fearful first of the pony, then of falling, then of failure, and he had known even at the time that everyone noticed his fear. Had his guards witnessed a similar fear when he watched the pirates from the trees? Would his people see his fear as he rode through the streets to his palazzo? How could anyone hope to hide so much fear?

Reluctantly, he lifted his head and glanced at a little knot of people close by, and yes, they seemed as sullen as he had expected. There were not many of them – some children, some old folk, a few women and a monk. Not the crowd a returning hero would deserve, the crowd he had imagined when he had set off months ago with Lord Alessio.



Was it terrible, he now asked himself, to wish the pirates had burned his city and butchered these wretches, so that his present shame would not be witnessed? Of course it was, he chided himself. He would never want such a thing. In truth, what he really wanted more than anything was the privacy and comfort of his palazzo, where such pitiful folk could not see him. Let them live their miserable lives, as long as they could not heap that misery on him.

To reach the street leading to his palace, he had to ride further along the city’s periphery, and as he did so more people came out to watch. Like before, he tried not to look at them, but he could not help himself. This time he saw there were men among the people, some sturdy fellows too.

Where had they been when his city needed defending?

Why should he shoulder all the blame?



Then he realised the men were armed! This was something the Sartosans would never have allowed while they occupied the city, which meant these fellows must surely have fled, returning only after the pirates had departed. What base cowards could do such a thing? Or perhaps these men hid their weapons during the brief and brutal occupation, cowering before the pirates and begging for mercy? What annoyed most was such men were able to stand amongst the people without any apparent malice directed towards them, while he himself had to suffer every sharp, accusative stare!

Something was niggling at him, more than his shame, more than his disgust that the men did not look ashamed too. There was something wrong about them. He could see a long-barrelled musket, a bearded fellow clutching two axes, a blunderbuss in the hands of a … dwarf!



A horrible thought struck him. Had some pirates stayed here in his city? Were his subjects so bruised and bewildered that they had feebly allowed these men to remain amongst them?

It made no sense. Unless … was this treachery? Had Barone Vettorio lied when he said the Sartosans had gone? Did his own courtiers and guards despise him so much that they were willing to hand him over to his enemies? Was he to be given as a hostage until the pirates had whatever else they wanted?

All these thoughts were surely madness. His burning guilt must be broiling his brains and addling his mind. It was the barone who had advised him against challenging the pirates with a force entirely insufficient to defeat them. If any should be blamed for inaction and made a hostage, it should be the barone!

Or did that make no sense? He shook his head in confusion, unable to straighten his thoughts, nor order them sensibly. Who had done what to whom with whose help? And why, oh why had they done it?

There were more people gathered further along. Once again, he stared at his horse’s reins to busy his mind with the act of riding and so avoid looking upon his subjects. The reins were not those of his old pony as he had first thought. Of course not. They could not possibly be - his horse was far too big for them. What had he been thinking?

Then something caught his eye – another gun! More than one! And more vicious looking men. And … unbelievable! The gurning, green face of a goblin, armed with a monstrous handgun decked with a barrel-load of barrels! Worse than that - two goblins and an orc!



They were there right in front of him, standing among his subjects, who paid them no heed. This was impossible. Was everyone blind?

“Look, look there,” he ordered Sir Ormanno, the royal standard bearer at his side.

Ormanno did not seem to hear him, or perhaps did not want to hear him. Indeed, Ferronso spied a flash of disdain in Ormanno’s face, as if he found the very sound of the king’s voice annoying.

Ferronso felt no anger at this, however, for he was so nonplussed at the presence of greenskins in his city that there was little space left in his thoughts for other concerns.

“How?“ he began. “Why?“ His words faltered. He did not know what to ask, nor who to ask it of. Words failed him entirely.

There was a sudden noise from somewhere within the city. A thunderclap. Yet the sky, though dark, was surely not quite heavy enough for a storm.  The came another boom, like the last.

Was it cannon-fire?

His horse seemed oblivious to the sound; his guards ignorant of it. Why could only he hear it? More than this, there were other sounds too that made no sense. He could hear wind and lashing rain, despite there being no such things. And though the people, including the greenskins, stood silent, he could hear shouting too.

I’m not going into the city, he decided, and pulled on the reins. But the reins were rotten and snapped, leaving him clutching their ragged remnants. His company of guards, despite his unvoiced wish to flee, were turning to go into the city; his horse, unyielding to any command and now reinless, was drawn along with them. Before them stood more people, almost a crowd. This time they were pirates all, plain as day, including goblins, brutish orcs and sea dogs clutching every kind of gun.

Why couldn’t his guards see?



Why had Vettorio allowed him to come here? Where was the barone? Everything was wrong. It was obviously not safe to return to the city.



Another boom sounded, startling him. And someone was shouting.

“Wake up sire! Please, hurry!”

There was a man before him, sharply silhouetted by the bright light flashing through the window behind.

“The Sartosans came back, sire. Wake up!”

It was Vettorio’s voice. A peal of thunder followed the flash, the same as the sound in his dream. As soon as Ferronso sat up in his bed, Vettorio took his hands and began hauling him out.

“The storm must have forced them back,” said the barone. “The streets are swarming with them! Hurry, please sire, we must leave. We must get you to safety!”
« Last Edit: December 22, 2019, 12:31:59 PM by padre »

padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #199 on: February 18, 2020, 09:40:11 AM »
By Your Leave
Before the Walls of Pavona


“Still hungry?” asked Jorien absently as he picked at a spot of rust in his handgun’s pan.

Nikolaas groaned. “Please, not again,” he said. “It’s not funny anymore.”

“I never said it was. But at least it was a new joke when I first said it.”

“What?” asked Nikolaas, shaking his head.

“Well, we’ve never been hungry before in Tilea. The company has always kept our bellies full, ‘til now. Fleshmeat twice a week, sometimes more’n that, fish a-plenty, and if not beer to lull us to sleep and ease our aching limbs, then wine in lieu of it. And not bad wine, either. Even when we took on the orcs and gobs, we always fought with a good breakfast inside us. These last two weeks it’s been biscuit and pottage, in meagre portions, and not scrap of flesh.”

At first, it seemed Nikolaas would not answer, perhaps in protest at Jorien’s annoying joke, but it turned out he was merely pondering things.

“Do you think they have wine?” he asked, pointing at the walls. “And food?”



Jorien looked back at the walls too. “They must have, otherwise they’d have sallied out by now, or someone would have tried to take supplies in. They’ve an army in there, good sized too, as well as all the citizens. That’s a lot of mouths, yet it’s been more than five weeks now and they’ve done nothing but shuffle about on the walls, waving flags now and again.”

“I heard there was some shooting last Tuesday,” said Nikolaas.

“That’s because half a dozen new arrivals were trying to creep in, so the handgunners on the walls wanted to lure our attention elsewhere. The sneaky sods got in quick too, helped by the fact they had little with them – certainly no supplies of any consequence. Besides, the Pavonans can’t take in supplies when there’s none to be had. They must’ve already taken everything in from miles around while we were trying to cross the river. ‘Twould explain their lack of concern about our blockade.”

Nikolaas shook his head. “I don’t they think they did. I’ve been out scrounging three times now, and good deal off a-ways too. Every place I saw, big or small, looked to have been dead for some considerable time, ghostly-quiet. Wim reckons the ogres razed everything but the city last year and the Pavonans have been suffering ever since. He said that’s why the Pavonans robbed Verezzo.”

“I can’t argue with that,” agreed Jorien. “You only have to look at the walls to see why the ogres didn’t even try to assault the city. They are the most substantial walls I’ve seen in Tilea, and I’ve seen a few.”

“If their land was razed completely,” said Nikolaas. “That’ll mean they’ve had no harvest, nor swine or kine to butcher. They must be living off whatever they robbed from Verezzo. And I doubt that’ll last much longer. They even lost some of the Verezzan loot trying to cross the river before we got to them.”

“Just a matter of waiting, then.”

The two of them fell quiet for a while, staring at the walls, which just happened to be exactly what they were supposed to be doing.



Then Jorien piped up again, “Why do you keep getting picked to go scrounging?”

“Don’t start complaining. I already told you there’s nothing to be had out there.”

Jorien frowned. “It’d get me out of these works for a change of scenery and a stretch of my legs.”

“The sergeant has nothing against you, Jorien. He picks my file because he knows we did a good job the time before.”

“And the time before that.  And the time before that,” said Jorien. “At this rate no-one else will ever get to go. I wonder if he’ll pick you to go out when he wants a forlorn hope, what with you proving how good your legs work?”

Nikolaas grinned. “No, he’ll pick your file because he knows you’re good at staying put.”

“Very funny,” said Jorien.

The two of them then noticed a little more movement on the walls than usual and went quiet for a while they watched to see if it looked likely to amount to anything. When nothing much seemed to come of it, Jorien continued the conversation.

“You know, when you think about it, philosophical ‘n all that, we’re here because the Pavonans robbed Verezzo. But if they only did that because the ogres robbed them, then the ogres are the real reason we’re here. You know I’m not the biggest fan of Tileans, but it was the ogres who started this mess.”

“The ogres were always the reason we came north,” said Nikolaas. “Them and the unmentionables. But we’re not here because the Pavonans robbed Verezzo, we’re here because they then told the world that we were the robbers. General Valckenburgh can’t have people slandering him, and the company won’t profit if no-one trusts us to trade with.”

“Then profit’s the real reason, as it always is,” suggested Jorien. “It’s gold that drags us across the world, though we ourselves only ever see silver, and that rare enough. You know, we should be being paid almost full wages right now. They can’t deduct much for meat and drink when it’s little more than biscuit and peas, and while we tarry here, they aren’t giving us shoes in lieu of pay either.”

Nikolaas tutted. “Find a better complaint, Jorien. There’s nothing to spend silver on while we’re stuck in these works. We don’t have to pay for the view.”

“I’ll grant you it is nice to look at.”



As Nikolaas smiled at this they both looked out at the city again. The walls remained strong, which might not have been the case had the VMC’s guns been plying iron against them. Instead, for want of orders rather than powder or shot, the guns had remained almost wholly silent. The gunners had been told to fire upon any who tried to leave or enter, and otherwise do nothing but be ready. A stalemate had thus set in, then dragged on. As it was winter, the northerners in the army, mostly Marienburgers and mercenaries from Middenland, Reikland and Westerland, could at least be thankful they were not too hot, as they surely would have been had it been six months earlier.

“Wait a moment,” said Jorien, suddenly and loud. “What’s all this?”

A little party of men had emerged from one of the sally ports, preceded by an ensign sporting a white flag.

“Looks like someone wants to talk,” said Nikolaas.

“Well they took their bloody time about it,” complained Jorien.



As the party drew close to the siege works, it became clear that Duke Guidobaldo Gondi’s son, Lord Silvano, had been tasked with the negotiations. The armoured nobleman who approached was far too young to be the duke yet was accompanied not just by the white flag of truce but the ducal banner also - apart from the duke, only his heir would be allowed to do so.

Lord Silvano had already acquired fame as a brave commander, a dutiful son and for dedication to the war against the undead, despite his young years, and despite also losing his older brother in the war against Prince Girenzo of Trantio. He was with the holy army serving the arch-lector Calictus when they assaulted Viadaza, and drove the vampire Lord Adolfo from the city, and by all accounts acquitted himself well in the fight. It was his men, along with the enslaved soldiers of Campogrotta, who had murdered the ogres marching with the holy army, but it was generally accepted (as indeed it was by the court martial held at the time) that he was not at all responsible for their actions, neither ordering, assisting or by deliberate inaction allowing them to do what they did. After much of his army was ordered south by his father to help in the war against the tryant Boulderguts’ double army, he himself rode with his Sharlian riders to further assist the arch-lector of Morr, Calictus II, in the holy war. He was at the Second Battle of Ebino when the arch-lector died, having charged deep into the terrible foe and later escaping the field with the mere handful of his elven riders who survived. He made his way south and was reunited with his father just in time to join the Reman/Pavonan allied army that pursued the ogres from Pavona and then prevented their approach on Remas at the bloody Battle of the Diocleta, where he sought the fiercest of the fighting and was badly wounded leading a charge against a body of mournfang mounted brutes. His recovery took several months, in Remas, while his father failed to catch the ogres, but as soon  as he could ride in armour again, he joined with the grand alliance army commanded by Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore and was present the Battle of the Valley of Death in the necropolis of Norochia. Only after all this had he returned to Pavona, ordered by his father to do so in case the ogres had circumnavigated the allied army to return southward and finish what they had begun.



When the young lord was brought before General Valckenbugh and his officers, however, he began by saying little of himself or his past deeds, other than that he was his father’s sole surviving son and wished only to serve his father loyally. This elicited much angry muttering from the officers, but Valckenburgh silenced them with a mere look.

"You yourself do have the reputation of being an honourable nobleman, and a courageous fellow to boot,” said the general. “In light of events, I might well have baulked at speaking with your father. As it is you, however, I am willing to listen to what you have to say, despite suspecting it is your father’s words you must deliver. Before you proceed, sir, know that I will not brook one more Pavonan lie. Have a care to speak only that which you know or wholly believe to be the truth.”



Lord Silvano showed no sign of displeasure at the implied accusation. Perhaps once a person has faced the living dead in battle upon repeated occasions, the nervousness or bitterness a meeting like this entails must surely pale in comparison? He simply acknowledged the general’s words with a bow.

The officers of the VMC glowered at him, their anger palpable, especially that of Luccia La Fanciulla, the bearer of the VMC’s blessed Myrmidian standard. Of course, she of all of them, valued honour, discipline and martial prowess. She had as yet barely been able to bring herself to speak of the Pavonan duke’s treachery and lies.



If Lord Silvano noticed, he gave no sign, and began to deliver his speech.

Continued in the next post


padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #200 on: February 18, 2020, 09:41:10 AM »
By Your Leave, continued ...

“Good general, by your leave, I would have you know it was my father who originally wrote to Lord Alessio and other Tilean rulers last Autumn to propose an alliance against Bouldergut’s ogres, before Pavona was even attacked. Sadly, but of dire necessity, my father was forced to raze Trantio and several of his own towns in order to deny the ogres the plunder they so desired, after which he then helplessly witnessed almost the entirety of the rest his realm being ravaged, knowing that to attack Boulderguts’ double army with his own weakened force would mean the pointless death of many a brave Pavonan soldier. I confess freely that I myself bear a large portion of the blame, for I had entreated my father to allow me to march away with much of our army in order to join in the arch-lector’s war against the vampires. All my father could do was defend the city itself, successfully ensuring the ogres could see the folly of attempting to storm its sturdy defences.

“My father then joined with the Remans in the war against the ogres, while single-handedly brokering the agreement which saved Remas from being engulfed in a suicidal civil war between the established church and the Disciplinati di Morr, myself being unable to assist at the time. When he marched homeward, he graciously allowed me to join with Lord Alessio’s grand army in the war against the vampires, and to command, once again, the largest part of our army.



“On his journey home my father was required, by necessity of war, to travel near unto the Verezzo. He did not, however, intend to ride through any part of that realm, due to the old animosity between Lord Lucca and himself, which had been exacerbated by Lord Lucca’s insulting slight against my father concerning the nulling of the marriage contract between my noble brother and Lord Lucca’s daughter. Nevertheless, my father cared little for such grudges, what with the dire circumstances of the wars and the much more terrible acts intended by the vampires and ogres. He sought only to return home and to avoid any trouble arising from the old animosity.”

General Valckenburgh raised a finger to silence the lord momentarily.

“I am wholly aware of the constant, internecine rivalries of the Tilean city states,” he said. “If there were not that disagreement, then I do not doubt there would be some other. These are particularities of little interest to me, considering the unforgiveable slight your father made against me and those under my command.”

The young lord simply nodded, apparently unperturbed by the general’s words, nor showing disdain either.

“By your leave, general,” he continued, “I mean to say only that my father was returning to his sorrowful realm, a city surrounded by wasted ruins and fields empty of livestock, believing his last surviving son was many leagues away facing unknown horrors - he could not know of the ease of the victory at Norochia – whilst fearing with the dreadful prospect that vampires, ogres or both might yet attack his beloved realm before he could return to defend it. The last of his concerns was the old rivalry with Verezzo, if he thought of it at all.



“It was then, in this hour of deepest distraction, my father received the report that during mine and his absence from the city, and indeed Lord Lucca’s absence from his own realm, a band of Verezzan brigands had raided and robbed Pavona, taking ruthless advantage of its weakness. It was not a big raid, indeed only a handful of Pavonans died, but the news of it made my father furious - that Verezzans would so cruelly exploit Pavona’s misfortune and at such a dangerous time for the whole of Tilea. Being so close to Verezzo, he decided he must exact immediate revenge for the insult. He knew that were he to inflict merely like-for-like injury it would be seen as a sign of weakness, nor would it serve as a suitable punishment for such a crime, and so he intended to plunder Verezzo of sufficient riches both to recompense for the losses his own realm had suffered and to teach the Verezzans that if ever they were so wickedly bold again they should expect a swift and suitably punishing response.

“Instead of attacking the city of Verezzo itself, my father moved against Spomanti, for he believed that Lord Lucca was, like myself, with the grand alliance army, and could not possibly have been behind the raid, nor even known about it. It had been, by all accounts, Verezzan brigands and so Spomanti seemed to be a more appropriate target.

“For what then happened, good general, my father sincerely offers you, Lord Lucca’s family, the people of Verezzo and holy Morr, an honest and heartfelt apology. The force under my father’s command contained, of military necessity, several companies of mercenaries, including a large body of Reman bravi, who set about plundering Spomanti more thoroughly and cruelly than my father ever intended, and in so doing first spurred and then, by their continued disobedience and the delay it caused, allowed the Verezzans to dispatch a relief force to Spomanti.

“What my father could not know was that Lord Lucca himself was in command of that force, for he fully believed Lord Lucca was still with the allied army to the north.

 “The fight that ensued was bloody, and Lord Lucca was slain. When my father was rightly appraised of the matter, he was aghast, even ashamed. He knew that such a mistake would never be believed. He also felt heartily sorry for the poor people of Verezzo, for he was, howsoever unwittingly, responsible for the death of their protector just when the danger was greatest, what with the threat of the vampires and brute ogres.

“Wracked with guilt, my father decided he must help the Verezzans, yet he understood that they would never trust him if they knew he had commanded the very same force that killed their lord. Thus it was, by dire necessity, he had to concoct a story that would engender the Verezzans’ trust, for their own good. When he heard of the claims that the Portomaggiorans were behind the raid (an easy mistake to make what with the similar liveries of the two realms) he realized this might mean the Verezzans would distrust yet another ruler who wished only to protect them. And so, with little time to weigh any other possibilities, nor consider the myriad consequences, he declared it possible that soldiers from your army of the VMC must have been to blame, disguised as Portomaggiorans.”

Every pair of eyes drilled into the young lord in this moment, the VMC officers’ hatred and anger positively palpable. Silvano seemed not to register.



“As you are foreigners,” he said, “the superstitious and ignorant Verezzans would expect no better from you, and in so misdirecting their ire, my father could then do what must be done to help them.

“He knew at the time that it he was issuing a deplorable slur, but he was acting in the midst of war, to help a people he knew already distrusted him, when not to do so could mean their utter destruction. Not only did he need to return home quickly, he needed to convince the Verezzans to travel with him immediately, so that there they might be much better guarded against the several many foes. As such, despite the untruths and slanders necessary to convince the Verezzans to trust him, he believed his ploy to be a desperate gamble worth taking.

“He is now willing to reveal the truth to the world and in so doing clear your name and that of the VMC completely and entirely: That he had fully intended to inflict punishment upon the Verezzans for the crimes against his own people, but that then he lost control of his own forces (admittedly not the Pavonans amongst them, but the base bravi from Remas), and that afterwards he slandered your name in a misguided and desperate attempt to fool the Verezzans into allowing him to guide them to safety.

“My father offers prayers of confession even now, day and night, to most holy Morr, and vows to suffer all the penances the holy priests see fit to prescribe.”

Here Lord Silvano fell silent. His words had no hint of arrogance, nor passion. Instead they had been delivered calmly and unhastily, like a messenger might carefully recount the message he had been instructed to carry; words that were not his own and so could not be used against him.

Van Riekert and his officers had listened to the latter part of his elaborate explanation with stony faces. When the young lord was finally done, the commander of the VMC breathed deeply as he considered what had been said. He then coughed, as if trying to find his voice, and spoke,

“Your ... explanation of events paints an unfortunate picture of your father and even worse of his hospitality towards an ally who marches in the field to defend land, lives and property that will profit me not one iota.”



“When news of the insult heaped upon my men reached them, my honest and valiant soldiers, who have taken this land and her people into their hearts, were filled with fury. It took all the discipline of my officers to hold them back from making an immediate assault, which had it been carried would have seen Pavona burn. But that disaster was averted, and it seems time was thus granted to your father, or more certainly for you, to realise the folly of his actions.

“Your father’s offer of apology, and his suggestion to put publicly declare the truth, will do little to salve the wounds done to the reputation of honour of the VMC. Once a lie is released into the world, it will fester in dark corners like vile goblins or ratmen, no matter how much the flame of truth scours the land.”

The tension amongst the officers had, if anything, become greater. They stood more rigid than ever, adopting the formal stances of officers at such a gathering, but with an anticipation that added a tremulousness to their postures, as if it took a great effort merely to stand remain quiet.

“But,” said the general, “my purpose here in the more northern parts of Tilea, away from my duties in Alcante, is to fight a common enemy ...” Here he paused a moment, perhaps needlessly because all present hung upon his every word, “… not to be drawn into the internecine rivalries of city states. While the forces I have at my disposal could surely carry this siege, it would serve in the long run only to weaken Tilea’s defences, and thus strengthen the hand of our mutual enemies.”

The disconcertion of his officers was now very visible, as each of them now realised what it was their general was about to do.

“So, Lord Silvano Gondi,” said the general, pointing directly at the Pavonan prince, “On your word of honour, my armies will break camp and get on with the crucial business of making war against the undead and the ratmen …”

Lord Silvano’s face just noticeably registered the slightest sign of surprise at the mention of the ratmen. General Valckenburgh did not seem to notice.

“… but rest assured,” the General continued, “If your word is broken, so shall be the walls and the very back of Pavona.”

damo_b

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #201 on: February 20, 2020, 05:53:33 PM »
Good Work again Padre,
looking forward to the next one and some battles this year.
Damian

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #202 on: March 04, 2020, 07:55:49 PM »
Oh boy, am I too. Ever so sorry I did not get to you earlier about the game tomorrow, but I stupidly assumed that an evening was a bad day for all except me (who is not working that day) or Jamie, who can do it for some reason I have forgotten!

Here's the prequel story ...

Battle (Name tbc) Prequel

Leaving Luccini, Again!

Captain Anssem Van Baas had made his way up to the roof of the building where he, his sea artists and officers were lodged, to watch the rest of the Sartosan army as it marched from the city. His bosun, Moukib Brahimi, having just returned from the ship after overseeing repairs to the rigging, and his master gunner, Harrie Otmann, joined him at the roof’s railed edge.



The Captain had been tasked with guarding both the city and the captured king, as well as perhaps most importantly the enharboured fleet, which was being repaired after the battering it had taken during the recent storm. To minimise the damage, several crews had even had to cut their mainmasts to the board to prevent them being ripped from the ships by the wind! The storm had forced them to return, much against their wishes, to the city they had only just picked clean of every scrap of profitable plunder. While the work of mending was hard, the royal hostage they had gained upon their unexpected return was a welcome gift and potential recompense for their tempestuous troubles.

The three of them were wordless for a little while, as they watched the pirates assembling along the street at their lodging’s front. Anssem’s raggedy, black hat joined with his copious beard to frame the weather-worn and pockmarked flesh of his face. A scarf of yellow silk encircled his waist, wrapped around his long, grey coat. His companions flanked him: his master gunner, wearing a patch to hide the mess that a shiver of the ship’s hull had made of his eye during a firefight seven years ago, and the bosun, a burly Southlander clutching a belaying pin that was more a club than a tool.



“Ha!” laughed Moukib as he looked at the first pirates in the column. “Garique’s handgunners are at the head! No wonder it takes them all so long to leave!”



The captain grinned, for he too had noticed Garique’s men, specifically his mate Goerdt, at the fore. Garique’s Bretonnians called Geordt ‘Jambe de Bois’, while the Estalians called him ‘Pie de Palo’, for obvious reasons. Everyone else in the fleet called him Jambalo, although most knew not why. Anssem pondered what mischievous notion had possessed Admiral Volker to order a one-legged man to the fore? Perhaps there was genius in the decision, for it gave that little bit more time for the wine-addled or sore headed sailors to get in line?



“I still don’t see why so many agreed to go,” said Harrie. “The whole enterprise is a waste o’ time and effort, if you ask me.”

“They were ordered to go, and you have the captain to thank for the fact that we do not go too,” said Moukib.

Anssem was absently scratching at his bearded chin with the iron hook that served as his left hand, a habit which often drew blood, creating the scabs that would, in turn, generate a new itch.

“’Tweren’t my decision to stay,” he said, “despite it being my desire. The admiral wants us here. We’re the strongest crew and the one he can trust. He wants to keep his eye on the rest of ‘em.”

“If those lads come back mauled and bloody,” said Harrie, pointing dramatically at the men below, “then they’ll bear a mighty grudge against Volker. The best he can hope for is that they scare the Luccinans off easily and complain only of the time it took to do so. If they suffer unnecessarily then for certain it’ll be the end of his admiralcy.”

“Volker only fights when he needs to,” argued Moukib.

“But he don’t need to fight this time,” said Harrie. “The Luccinans haven’t even attacked! They’re too weak to do so. We have their baby king yet still they squat in the hills too afraid to do anything about it. They’re not going to attack us, so why pick a fight with them? I say why trouble ourselves over anything that ain’t pursuit o’ gold, silver or anything else worth having?”

“Our army marches to protect the gold we already have,” said Moukib. “The enemy might be weak, but they have waited some time now, while we cannot leave until the fleet is made fit to sail. You have to ask what they are waiting for? If they cannot beat us, then why do they not leave? They must be waiting for help. The admiral intends to scatter them before that help arrives.”

Anssem was nodding. “We are not the only ones to have banded together. This is a time of grand alliances, with city joining city to defend against the vampires and ogres.”

“Don’t sound like a good time for us to start a-raiding then,” suggested Harrie.

“No, it is the best time,” said Moukib. “Because their grand alliances have failed so far. Now they are allied out of desperation and even when marching together they are weak. Besides, when they leave to fight in the north, no-one is left behind to defend their homes.”

“Except there is an army out there in the hills, however small it might be, and men will die fighting them. I still say it’s a waste. There’s no-one coming to help them. No-one cares. We have their king and they cannot do anything about it. But honour means they cannot leave either.”

“They can do something! They can pay us for their king,” suggested Moukib.

“That they cannot do, Mouk” said Harrie. “I doubt there’s a Luccinan left with even a copper token to offer up for a ransom.”

The Sartosans had ransacked the city and the surrounding realm more expertly and thoroughly than even brutes or greenskins could have done.

“The soldiers could find the gold,” said Moukib.

“I doubt that,” said the captain. “They’re not returning from a war of conquest, laden with plunder. They’re returning from an already ruined land, after fighting the living dead. They’ve nothing to give us. Harrie is right, Mouk, they cannot pay and they cannot retake their city. We should just let them be. Would you ram a wounded sea serpent just because it swam close to your ship?”

Moukib chortled dismissively. “If the army is a wounded sea serpent, then it is an infant. They have little more than two regiments, one gun and the king’s doddering uncle to command them.”

“Don’t be so sure the fight will be easy,” said Harrie. “They’ve dug themselves some fine earthworks at a carefully chosen spot, and they have grown in strength.”

“How so? No other armies have come to their aid.”

“You have been working too hard, Moukib my friend,” said Harrie. “Your thoughts have been all a-tangled in cables and lines. We found out two days ago that they now have a large body of men who fled Luccini when we returned, and even a few of the King’s mounted guards who escaped.”

“Ha! And you had me worried!” laughed Moukib. “Such as they count for nothing. Cowardly peasants who fled without a fight and steel-clad noblemen so noble they forgot to guard their king! Their sort add weakness to an army, not strength.”

“Let’s hope so,” said the captain, “for all these lads’ sakes!”

For whatever reason, down in the street march had faltered a while, but the pirates now began to move again.



“I suggest Moukib,” said the captain, pointing down at the boy lugging a bucket alongside the marchers, “you take a leaf from little Janneken’s book. He don’t look worried.”



“Aye. He’s got other things to worry about,” said Harrie. “I told him last time that when he brings water there ought to be more than a spoonful left in the bucket when he arrives. Woe betide the lad if he spills it all again.”

“You’re too hard on the boy,” said Captain Anssem. He’s a good ‘un. Too small to carry that bucket, mind you, but he’s run through more’n one firefight with charges for the guns, his ear’s a-bleeding last time too.”

The army was beginning to move off properly now, and more and more were turning onto the street.



The van was mostly made up of deck gunners, many armed with handguns. The Sartosans, like the VMC (of whom a good proportion were also from Marienburg) favoured the use of powder in battle, both on land and sea. They had wagons to carry several artillery pieces hauled from their ships, as the gun’s diminutive trucks were incapable of travelling the roads. One small company struggled along with swivel guns. Even those among them without a ranged firearm of some kind, of which there were several large bodies expected to engage the foe in melee, were festooned with pistols, whether they be human, dwarf or even goblin, although the latter had a tendency to cause harm with their pistols not only to the enemy but also to themselves.

They also had a predilection for the more exotic kinds of guns, with an entire company armed with blunderbusses, and several, like Jambalo, carrying multi-barrelled oddities designed to allow the firer to shoot rapidly, for instead of reloading all they had to do was twist the next pre-loaded barrel in place. Needless to say, perhaps, these mechanically extravagant guns were not the most reliable pieces in the pirates’ arsenal.



Before long Admiral Volker’s own crew, who bore the brunt of the fighting during the initial capture of the city, were marching into view, being in the centre of the column. Captain Anssem espied the orc Gudyag, who had proved himself one of the admiral’s most loyal crewmen.



Gudyag, like several other orcs in Volker’s fleet, had been of Scarback’s Greenskin Corsairs, being separated from the orc admiral’s fleet during the storm which drove most vessels onto the rocks along the Caretello coast. Gudyag’s ship had been forced south, running before the wind while the crew cursed the cliffs on the lee shore as if foul language might convince the rocks to shy away! Once the storm subsided, he and his crewmates presumed the rest of the corsairs, Scarback included, must surely have perished when wrecked. Gudyag later discovered that Scarback and a good portion of his corsairs had survived and were in the paid service of Portomaggiore, but like almost every one of his crewmates he now signed a Sartosan commodore's articles. Choosing to stay with the Sartosans was a decision he was later glad of when he learned of the Greenskin Corsairs’ massacre at the hands of Khurnag's Waagh! Those who now remained of Gudyag’s original crewmates were scattered throughout Volker’s fleet, serving different captains, partly because they struggled to get on with each other partly because the Sartosans did not want too many burly orcs serving in any one particular crew.

An exception had been made for the goblin boss Bagnam Fark, for although he commanded a large ship and a full greenskin crew, they were almost all goblins, and the Sartosans found it hard to imagine that they could cause anything but minor annoyance to Volker’s fleet should they become troublesome. Fark had an unusual way with words and had haggled his way into serving with the fleet. Admiral Volker seemed to have the notion that having the goblin boss in his fleet would come in useful, although exactly how, whether strategic, tactical, diplomatic or for some other reason, only the admiral knew. Captain Anssem now pondered whether the goblins were included in the fleet for just such a situation as this, for who better to throw against the earthwork defences of a stubborn and desperate foe than goblins? While the Sartosan men, dwarfs and orcs poured lead-shot into the mix, the goblin mob could fight their way into the defences. If they failed, nothing of importance had been lost. If they succeeded, then well and good. And either way, the more casualties they suffered, the better.

As the rag-tag army passed by below, several of the marching pirates glanced up at the three men watching them from the roof.



Anssem did not need to be able to see their faces clearly to know that they wore angry expressions. Most in the fleet were of a like mind with Harrie. Very few were keen on fighting the remnant Luccinan army when there was no loot to be gained. Having to march by the captain of the one crew ordered to stay in the city was like rubbing salt in their wounds.

“I’ve seen enough,” said the Captain. “Let’s go below.”

padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #203 on: March 14, 2020, 11:17:17 PM »
How Not to Save a King
Winter 2403-4, North-East of Aversa

It was a crisply cold day when the Sartosan fleet’s army arrived before the Luccinans’ fortified camp in the rolling hills where the westernmost reaches of Sussurio Forest peter out. Admiral Volker’s entire strength was not present, for he had left Captain Ansselm and his crew back in Luccini to guard the fleet and the captured king. As soon as he saw the enemy’s camp and less than impressive force with his own eyes, he was satisfied that his decision to split his army had been sound.

The admiral was personally in command of his own crew, their number diminished by the short but bloody fighting of weeks before when Luccini was taken. By his side was his personal standard, the same design as his ship’s ensign - bleached bones crossed behind a skull atop a cutlass. The fleet’s most powerful sorcerer, Adus Arcabar, accompanied him, using his staff more as a badge of office and occasional walking stick than a focus for sorcerous energies. Still, with a battle about to be joined, no doubt magic would soon begin flowing through it.



Arcabar’s able apprentice, Esorin Vedus, had sprinted away from his master’s side a few moments before to clamber up a nearby mound, all the better to observe the enemy camp.

Upon the admiral’s right was the newly formed body of pikemen, who were being subjected to a veritable torrent of corrective orders and criticisms from their Marienburger sergeant. Having once served in the city-state’s army, the sergeant was well-aware how badly they compared to a trained regiment of Tilean militiamen, never mind the professional condottiere regiment that the scouts had reported spotting in the enemy army. At least he could hope the Sartosan pirates’ firepower would make up for the discrepancy in skill at arms, and indeed behind the pikemen, set upon raised ground so that they could shoot over the main battle line, was one of the army’s brace of guns and one of its two companies of swivel gunners.



To the admiral’s immediate left was Bagnarm Farq’s goblin crew. Fifty in number, they vastly outnumbering Volker’s little company. Farq himself was at the fore, dressed in the long, braided coat he had won in a game of bones and the gold trimmed, cocked hat he took from the very same gamester after the duel they fought when the fellow accused Farq of cheating. Considerably more noise came from the goblins than from the pikemen, for while only the one irritable sergeant could be heard among the men, almost every goblin was keen to whoop, yell and ululate in a peculiarly inharmonious manner, a confusion made all the more discordant by the occasional blast of their musician’s horn and the peppered cracks as pistols were excitably discharged into the sky.
 


Two bodies of deck gunners formed the other elements of the battle-line. Captain Jamaar Garique’s crew had moved up in front of the second gun, which like its counterpart had been placed upon a low hill. Garique’s pirates mostly wielded long handguns, apart from the captain’s one-legged mate Jambalo who cradled his many-barreled muskatoon.



The rest of Admiral Volker’s crew were out on the far-left flank of the line, armed with blunderbusses. Their master was the black-bearded dwarf Hurmaes, who made a point of not being bothered by the fact that only the two goblins in the company were shorter than him. One of the men was so tall he was known as Long Jack, being nearly a bald-head taller than all others in the company, but only because the great orc Draja, despite being more than twice as heavy, was bent almost double, so that his head seemed to grow out of his chest rather than his shoulders.



Draja lugged a mighty blunderbuss bigger than a ship’s espingole – a wide-muzzled, swivel gun that would have to be mounted on stanchions if a man were to attempt to fire it. He called it ‘Mine’. Once, when asked why he called it that, he had simply said, “Because it is.” Over the years, Draja had suffered several, self-inflicted injuries as a consequence of his general clumsiness - he lost an eye to the flash of an over-charged pan and obliterated his foot entirely when he squeezed the trigger at just the wrong moment. Even so, his love for it remained true and the bloodthirsty excitement he got from discharging it had diminished not one jot. Luckily, he was not known for nimbleness and his companions nearly always had sufficient time to get out of his way when he hefted it to give fire. Several of those who had hesitated, or just failed to notice him bringing the piece to bear, were no longer part of the company. When the rest of his crew told tales of what ‘Mine’ had done over the years, Draja usually just sat grunting, “Hur, hur, hur!” whilst affectionately patting the gun by his side.



The second little company of swivel gunners had found a little sheep pen to fortify themselves in, and now waited, with lit match cords, for the larger pieces to fire as that was the sign to loose their own first volley of heavy lead-shot.



The remnant army of Luccini was drawn up behind its earthwork defences. They had but one piece of artillery, ensconced in a semi-circle of earth filled gabions, by which their small regiment of professional pike stood.



Although the pikemen had not fought in years, they had marched many a mile fir many a month until finally camping here in the hills. They had been present at the Battle of the Valley of Death, but had done little more there than spectate as the guns big and small had torn into enemy sufficiently to convince even the undead that to stay would be madness. Here, however, it seemed inevitable that they would engage the foe, unless, as some of them had darkly muttered, the Sartosans’ guns proved as effective as their own had in the necropolis valley.



Upon the other side of the piece was one half of the peasant militia that had been formed from those who had escaped the city and the surrounding realm when the Sartosans landed to begin their depredations. They had arrived at the camp for want of anywhere else to go, and General Marsilio had made it clear that if they were to stay then this time they must be prepared to fight. He could not arm them, however, for he no longer had access to the city’s magazine, and so while some had weapons of war such as spears and fighting axes, and one or two had swords, just as many again were armed with nothing more than pitchforks, scythes, cudgels or knives.

The other half of the peasant militia (they had been divided on the general’s orders so that they might better man the defences) were on the far right of the camp’s front, with the condottiere crossbowmen between them and the pike regiment.



The wizard Duke Ercole Perrotto, uncle to the captured King Ferronso, watched from the defences in between the pike and the crossbow, whilst behind him was General Marsilio and the few remaining royal bodyguard who had pledged to fight to the last as a penance for the fact that they had allowed the king to be taken by the pirates.



Captain Girhur Brewaxe and his dwarf sea dogs had struck out to the left as the Sartosan army made its approach, so that they could now advance upon the camp’s flank.



Girhur carried a club carved with a magical rune that added an unnatural strength to its blows, more than compensating for the fact that his lack of a left hand meant he could only wield it one-handed. His compass was also magical, stolen from an Arabyan corsair, and possessed the mystical power to guide its user in many more ways than a needle of iron fed with lodestone could ever do. Indeed, it was the compass that had allowed him and his dogs to move so close to the enemy so quickly, despite having had to travel a wide arc to get there. 

Behind the palisade, the wizard duke moved over to stand with the crossbowmen and watch the enemy deploying with a heavy heart. Only luck, he thought, could grant him victory today, for nothing else was in their favour.

He did not feel lucky.



Yet there was nothing else he could have done. His nephew, the king, was the pirates’ prisoner, and the city was theirs too. He could neither retake the city nor leave, for he lacked the strength to do the former and was too honourable to do the latter. Nor could he rescue the king by other means – the enemy had magicians of their own, and capable ones at that. They would no doubt sense whatever spells he conjured to assist a party of rescuers, and then both they and a large army of pirates would be roused to put a stop any attempt made. All he had was the remote hope that, despite the wars against both vampires and ogres, someone would send some sort of force to assist them. Perhaps the Portomaggioran ruler Lord Alessio might do so? He had attended the king’s crowning and seemed even to like Duke Ercole’s nephew somewhat. Yet even that was made unlikely due to fact that Lord Alessio was currently marching north to face the vampires, many hundreds of leagues distant. First the news had to reach him and then whatever relief he dispatched would have to travel all the way to Luccini.

Duke Ercole’s thoughts were interrupted by a sudden crunch and violent motion along the earthworks to his left. He turned to see a rapidly rising cloud of dirt and debris, from which a man staggered screaming, his shirt bloodied, accompanied by the booming sound of the enemy’s guns. It seemed the enemy’s iron-shot had traveled quicker than the noise of their firing! He tried to recall what had been there moment’s before, then as the debris tumbled down, he saw it was their own gun, or, more accurately, what remained of it, for one of its wheels had been smashed to pieces and the rest of the crew had been felled by the strike. Both he and the crossbowmen were momentarily stunned into inaction, even as the sound of the enemy’s other guns rattled out and splinters of the wattle fencing holding their walls of rubble together span through the air.

They had lost their gun before it had even fired one shot!

The sound of gunfire ended abruptly, and after a moment's silence, a cheer went up from the enemy and their entire line began to advance. The duke then gasped as he sensed a coiling burst of magical energy sizzling in his vicinity. He had been too distracted to sense it a moment earlier, and now had insufficient time to counter it. He heard screaming from behind and turned to see three of last surviving mounted nobility of the king’s bodyguard slide off their mounts to crash heavily onto the ground. General Marsilio and the standard bearer’s own horses were considerably perturbed by this turn of events and as they bucked their riders allowed the reaction to turn into a canter towards the gate on the flank of the camp’s defences. The general had spied the advancing dwarfs.

Duke Ercole returned his attention to the enemy. As the men around him hefted their crossbows to loose a volley at the pirates with Admiral Volker, he conjured a curse to fall upon the same body. Moments later it was Volker’s turn to be surprised, for in a a matter of seconds his already diminished crew had been thoroughly decimated yet again!



As Girhur and his dogs now drew close to the defences …



… the peasant militia had noticed their movement, as well as that of their own general. The leader, an old wheelwright (no less than master of the city’s guild of wheelwrights), pointed and announced that if the general was going to charge to dwarfs, then they would too!



As the general and his lone companion rode their barded horses through the gate, the peasants clambered over the defensive fence and began hurtling towards Captain Girhur and his dwarfs.



The dwarfs fired their pistols with practised skill against the two riders, but their shot was insufficiently powerful to pierce the steel armour encasing men and horses.

 

As bullets pinged off its metal carapace, General Marsilio’s horse picked up speed and began thundering directly towards Girhur, whose eyes widened as he realized the force of the blow he was about to receive!



The horse battered into the dwarf to send him reeling and the general struck a deep blow with his sword, cutting Girhur’s face, then drew the blade back to thrust it right through the dwarf’s throat. It took the rest of the dwarfs a moment to realize their captain was dead, for they were occupied with the easy slaughter of the peasants, whose charge had been considerably less damaging than the general’s. Once they knew, a fury gripped them. Fury, however, did not make their legs longer, so when the surviving peasants turned to flee, as did the general now that the impetuous of his charge was spent, the dwarfs could not catch them!

The condottiere pike now steadied themselves as the enemy drew close. Some in the rear ranks witnessed General Marsilio’s flight, and a muttering spread through the regiment concerning whether or not they too should run. Why die for a cause when it is not only almost certainly lost but it is not your own? They fought for pay, not for the honour of Luccini. They saw to their left that their Sartosan counterparts had now engaged the peasants at the fence line …



… and it was immediately apparent that the enemy pike would feel little real resistance. To their right they saw that round-shot had smashed a substantial gap in the defences, killing several of the crossbowmen and a few of the peasants who had moved from the camp to stand near them.

Captain Bagnar Farq’s goblins were marching right up to that gap …



… while the last of the crossbowmen and even Duke Ercole were now running away. The duke, not exactly spritely for his age, was not quick. Looking through the gap, the smartly dressed goblin Captain Farq could see the enemy wizard clearly and raised his cutlass as a sign that his crew should halt.

Loudly, he shouted, “Watch dis, lads!” and stepped forwards from the body to aim.



Pointing right at the wizard, with the confidence of knowing his magical bullets never missed …



… he pulled the trigger and watched with glee as the bullet did indeed strike the wizard. The evil grin was soon wiped from his face, however, when he saw that the wizard had not been killed and was still running.

“Bugger!” he shouted as he fumbled to find his powder flask to prepare for the next shot.

(Game Note: Auto hit, Strength 5 magical pistol, against a wizard already reduced to one wound due to enemy magic and shooting. The player rolled a 1 to wound!)

As the peasants broke on one side of them and the goblins now rushed past their captain (still fiddling with his pistol) to pour through the gap upon the other side, the pikemen dropped their eighteen foot burdens and joined in the general flight.

No-one was going to rescue King Ferronso today!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2020, 11:55:51 PM by padre »

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #204 on: March 19, 2020, 05:58:42 PM »
New Friends and no Rest for the Wicked
An Alley, Somewhere in Tilea, Winter, IC 2403-4

Baldassarr had known the meeting would not be pleasant. He had never heard anything good about the ratto uomo, only that they were foul, lice-ridden creatures, with invariably murderous intent. Yet despite the fear and disgust he knew he would most likely experience, he was sufficiently desperate to seek their assistance, for it was indeed murder he had in mind.

Why they had chosen to help him, he did not really know. His accomplice in crime, Naldo, had arranged the meeting, promising that he could trust them. Apparently, they had ably assisted Naldo with his own problem, being that of a rival cutpurse who had moved in on his domain.

When Baldassar questioned their motive, Naldo had simply answered,

“The enemy of their enemy is their friend.”

“I can’t see why the ratto uomo bear some grievance against the Besutio gang,” said Baldassar.

His friend laughed as if the reason was obvious. “Everyone hated the Besutios!”

Right now, having laid eyes on the creature for the first time, he was having second thoughts on his choice of new ‘friends’.



At first glance, the creature seemed to be half his size, but when he considered its squatting, hunched posture, he realised it was most probably at least as heavy as him, if not heavier. Its face was almost exactly like a rat’s, but its body and limbs much more like a man’s, albeit with a horribly large, fleshy tail sprouting from its lower back and matted fur covering much of the rest. It was clothed in little more than a ragged over-sized hood and had half a ratto uomo skull clamped oddly over the right-side of its long face. What had drawn Baldassar’s attention immediately, however, were the four heavy blades apparently sprouting from its clawed hands.



He could not help but stare at them, and in so doing saw that they were bandaged to the back of the creature’s hands, leaving its fingers free to clutch and unclutch beneath. When the creature spoke he almost jumped with shock, not because of the strangeness of hearing a giant rat speak, or even the lilting timbre of its gravelly voice, but because whatever had intruded so suddenly into his nervous gaze upon the blades would have had the same effect.

“Balda-Baldasssssar?” said the creature, its coarse tongue fluttering in a quiver to hiss every sibilant component of its words. “Friend-accomplice of Naldo, yesss?”

“I am,” he said, unsure whether he should ask for the creature’s name - to do so seemed as preposterous as asking a dog or rat.



“You are, are you?” came the response as the creature looked him up and down with its red, seemingly pupil-less eyes. “No sharp-ssword? No pissstol? Yes?”

Baldassar felt his throat tighten and stomach knot as he wondered why it was asking him this. Then he remembered Naldo had told him to take nothing but a small knife.

“Only my knife,” he said, tapping the hilt protruding from behind his belt bag and beginning to wonder if he had made more than one very bad decision.

“Always knives, yess of course, always those,” said the creature, whilst its own four blades twitched and scraped, perhaps ensure Baldassar kept them in mind.

“Naldo said …” began Baldassar, then faltered.

“I know Naldo said-spoke this and that. I listened-heard,” said the creature. “You have enemies, nastiness, yess?  You want to cow-rule your corner of the nesst? With our aid-help you can-will. Naldo has his choice-pick of purses – no interference, no troublesome worries. Now you too, yess, want rid of trouble?”

Baldassar nodded. “The Scarria Brothers have been taking what is mine. People are paying them not me …”

The creature raised the back of one of its blades to its lips, as if to shush him.

“So ssad. Poor you. You want all the gold, yes?” The creature grinned, revealing its large, horribly sharp teeth. “You want me to slice-cut; chop and chop Sciarra into rot-corpses?”

“You could just scare them,” suggested Baldassar.

“No, not enough. Never enough. I kill-remove, yess? Then they are gone for good.”

“That would work too.”

“Yess. Best for all. You will be happy-glad, and I will feel satisfied in a job well done.”

“What of payment?” asked Baldassar. “What do you want from me in return?”

“Do not worry-concern yourself,” said the creature. “Naldo knows. You become my good friend, and when I need-require, you return the favour, yess?”

Baldassar frowned. “You want me to assassinate someone?”

The creature gave out a sound, part cackle, part giggle, yet wholly horrible to hear.

“No, no. I can always kill, easy, quick. You help, yess? You find, you open, you lure, you reassure. I am happy-willing to do the rest. No blood-mess for you.”

“Who do you want to kill?” asked Baldassar, immediately regretting his question.

“Later, my friend. So many choices yet to make, and many-more conssiderations. Put it from your mind-thoughts. These are things for me to worry about. Yess?”

Baldassar nodded.

“Now,” continued the creature, “you tell me where and you tell me when, then all your desire-dreams come true.”

« Last Edit: March 19, 2020, 06:07:40 PM by padre »

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #205 on: April 01, 2020, 06:39:45 PM »
How to Fortify Against Death Itself?
Winter, IC 2403-4
South of the river Tarano, near the Bridge of Pontremola


A Conversation



“How are the works coming on?” asked Chimento Gagliardi, Lord Alessio’s chief clerk.

The siege master Guccio de Ieroldis looked up from the little book he had been studying, in which his predecessor had recorded all sorts of useful advice concerning the construction of a fortified camp. He had been so deep in thought he had not even noticed the clerk’s approach.

“Ahh, Master Chimento,” he said. “Well enough, although more labourers would speed the process.”



“I have it on good authority you already have every available soldier,” said the clerk. “Those not here are busy guarding or scouting, as entirely necessary. Or resting, again a necessity. We must have a substantial force in perpetual readiness in case of an attack.”

The clerk wore a sleeveless fur lined gown, with paned sleeves on his doublet, all dyed in fashionably rich reds and purples. Only his velvet cap was in the quartered blue and white of Portomaggiore – his one concession to his current role. He was several inches shorter than Guccio, a fact exaggerated by the siege-master’s tall hat.

“Could we not have placed our earthworks closer to the river?” inquired Guccio. “For then we might have employed the water as a ready-made moat, improving our defences considerably? And we would have completed much sooner with a natural barrier already in place.”

“It was discussed in the council of war, but Lord Black thought it to be a foolish notion – that it might allow the undead to advance under cover of the water and so draw very close to our works before our bullets and bolts could thin their numbers.”



“I didn’t think of that,” admitted Guccio.

“Few did. Luckily we have Lord Black.”

“Aye, we do,” agreed Guggio. “Did no one in the council point out that should the river continue to flow so strongly, as to be expected in winter, that a good proportion of the undead so immersed would be washed away and thus never reach our walls?”

Master Chimento gave no immediate answer. Indeed, outwardly he seemed entirely unperturbed by the notion. Perhaps, thought Guccio, this is one of the reasons he has risen in Lord Alessio’s service? Finally, he did speak.

“I believe if we ensure they cannot pass over the bridge then they will indeed have to cross the river. Perhaps then, as you say, a good number will be washed away. Whatever force does emerge upon our side, we can then shoot.”

“I heard the city of Ebino is moated,” said Guccio, hoping to move the conversation on from the uncomfortable place he had taken it.

“Yes, it has both a deep moat and substantial walls. Not at all an easy prospect for assault. Lord Black saw it for himself and believes there was something stirring in the moat.”

“And thus Lord Black’s concern?”



“Yes.” There was the faintest trace of irritation in the clerk’s answer. “I was sent to ask what more needs to be done, and how long exactly until completion?”

“As you can see, the towers are finished, which is a good thing considering there’s no more suitable timber left. We are almost done here with the last of the earthworks. There’s a few stretches of earthworks yet to be dug, and quite a bit of palisading yet to be done, as you can see, but the stakes are cut and ready to be placed. I’d say sometime the day after tomorrow. Unless, of course, the general orders a modification or extension.”

“He might,” said the clerk, peremptorily.

“Oh. Is this not satisfactory?”

“There may well be more armies on their way to join us. Attacking the duchess and her foul legions is not something to be undertaken lightly, or when ill-prepared. Too many have come close to victory only to fail because the enemy escaped. We had a much greater force in Norochia Valley, and inflicted a great slaughter upon them, as did our riders to the north, yet still too many of them got away.”

Guccio nodded gravely. “They say that in the arch-lector’s battle not far from here, despite hundreds being cut down by the first charge, they simply got back onto their feet to fight on.”

“‘It is the nature of the foe to do so,” warned the clerk. “This time we must prevent their escape. Not one vampire can be allowed to leave the field. We must overwhelm them; destroy them entirely. Only then will our further advance northwards be bearable.”





Meanwhile, Another Conversation

“You reckon this is almost the last of it then?” said Fede, as he leaned upon his spade.

“I do,” said Berto, still shovelling soil.  “We turned a corner yesterday. There’s nowhere else to go. As soon as the palisade’s up along the full length, it has to be done.”



“Good, ‘cos my back’s aching like never before and the blisters on my hands burn something rotten.”

“Better than the alternative,” Berto said.

Fede wiped his furrowed brow. “What?” he asked, bemused. “Better than marching about a bit or sitting by the fire warming our feet?”

Berto laughed. “No, better than going up ladders to face living corpses harbouring deadly intent.”

“Well, true,” admitted Fede. “Except now that we’ve built this and the corpses know we’re not going to attack the city, won’t they come to us anyway?”

Berto rolled his eyes. “Don’t ask me. I don’t know. Chances are, they don’t know either. In which case, nobody knows.”

“Funny,” said Fede. “D’you at least know where Cola and Bandino are, ‘cos by my reckoning it’s their turn to do some shovelling.”



“Cola went off to fetch more stakes, but Bandino’s over there by the wagon”.

“Where?”

Berto stopped work for a moment and pointed behind Fede. “See that boy you laughed at on the way over?”

Fede turned his head. “The skinny lad with the painted helm and the ill-fitting plackart.”

“And no other armour?” added Berto. “Yes, him.”



Fede snorted, as he had done when he first laid eyes on the boy. “I seriously doubt anyone in this world is less well equipped to strike fear into the undead foe than that boy.”

“Not gonna argue,” said Berto, recommencing his shovelling. “Look to the boy’s right.”

“Oh yes, there he is. What’s he doing?

“Call of nature!”

“He’s taking his time over it.”

“Well, it’s like he says, if a job’s worth doing …”



Fede laughed again. “I’d agree with him, if he was over here doing the job he’s meant to be doing.”

Berto paused again, this time with a serious look writ upon his face.

“D’you think they’ll come?” he asked.

“Aye, they will. It’s what they do. They can’t help themselves.”

“When?”

“Hopefully, after we’ve finished.”
« Last Edit: April 01, 2020, 09:01:24 PM by padre »

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #206 on: April 06, 2020, 09:29:44 PM »
With Great Power Comes Great Destruction
Winter, IC 2303-4; Somewhere underground in northern Tilea

The Clan Skryre emissary was a particularly unimpressive specimen, more like a menial lackey than the sort of skaven likely to be granted an audience with a Grey Seer. This was, however, no surprise, as the engineers of Clan Skryre were notorious for being so lost in their machines’ arcane technicalities that they gave no thought at all to their appearance, and cared little more about appropriate manners and etiquette.

Seer-Lord Urlak Ashoscrochor knew, however, that Clan Skryre’s assistance was likely to prove vital to his strategy, and so attempted to give no hint of his annoyance at being spoken to directly by what appeared to be little better than a runt-slave.



“Most high and noble Lord,” the messenger began as he fidgeted with the scroll clutched in his left hand, “I come with a great-important opportunity, offered most generous-kind to you first and fore-most before all other possible-likelihoods. My masters know full well that you will understand the potential-worth of this opportunity. They offer you a weapon more destructive than any before dream-conceived of, and yet now built-made and very real.”

The grey seer’s personal guard regiment, several companies of which were stood at the ready around the chamber, glared with apparent evil intent at the messenger.



Of course, this is nothing less than they would have done to anyone who came before them and their master, but that fact did not make the messenger any less nervous.

“Does it please you to listen-hear, noblest of lords?” the lowly engineer-apprentice asked.

"It pleases me well enough that your masters recognise the opportunity given-granted to them by my imminent victory conquests. So, speak-tell further of your masters’ offer!"



The engineer-apprentice unrolled the thick paper of the scroll and held it up fixedly as if showing something marvellous.



“I see-spy only written scrawl,” said Lord Urlak dismissively, as if put the messenger in his place. “Why show me that?”

“These are promises and guarantees!” said the messenger, a little too enthusiastically, for his voice echoed about the rocky cavern and the regimented guards noticeably flinched as if readying to attack. The messenger winced in response.



“Please, I beg-plead, forgive my loud-noisiness, gracious and noble lord,” he continued. “This is written only so that you might confirm-know I speak truthfully. My masters have put mark-symbols here that you will see-recognise and know my words to be truly theirs.”

The grey seer narrowed his eyes to subtly signal his growing impatience. The engineer-apprentice rushed to continue.

“My most clever masters offer you this novel-new weapon in return for sufficient-suitable recompense. With it, you can kill your enemies.”

“My armies bristle with weapons. I have battalion-batteries of war-engines, all capable of killing my enemies.”



“Forgive again, most noble of lords. This kills better. This can kill all your enemies.”

"All?” said Lord Urlack. “It seems your masters have been working most busily. They have already grant-given many terrible war-engines, of which none have yet been unleashed upon my foe-enemies. When and if those machines fulfil their deadly promise then I shall already owe much to your masters …”

Here the Skaven lord fell silent for a moment, and glanced around the vast cavern chamber, as if considering who exactly was listening.



“Of course, all will be carefully weigh-measured to ensure a give-and-take most fair and satisfactory. The spoils of war will be plentiful-bounteous. We shall feast-gorge on the fat of Tilea. It pleases me that your masters appreciate my conquest is a worthy investment. So worthy that here-now they offer me more!”

“As your ally-friends, your patron-providers, they wish you to be victorious,” said the messenger.

The Grey Seer fixed his eyes upon the engineer-apprentice, as if weighing him more carefully.

“Anyone with wit sufficient knows the cunning skill of Clan Skryre,” he said. “And I do not doubt-suspect your masters’ promise-claims. And yet, I must ask-inquire, what do they mean by a weapon never seen before? A weapon you said can kill all my foe-enemies?”

“Great lord, if used well and properly, the weapon will destroy Tilea one city at a time.”



“Entire cities? There are many and more stone walls standing between me and my great-glorious victory. And now that the most hated Dwarf-things are busy-stirring, as ever meddle-interfering, I have their mountains to contend with also. I can surely make good use of death-destruction, but will this weapon defeat the man-things’ stone walls and the dwarf-things’ mountain fastnesses?"

“Noblest of lords, this weapon does not need to smash-break walls or rocks, for it kills everything-all, leaving no-thing alive to hold-defend.”

“Lethal-venom? Deadly-poison?” inquired Lord Urlack, with a hint of barely contained glee in his voice.



“This is quicker, great lord, much quicker. With one, single, exquisite blow, the weapon can blast-burn every living creature-thing within a hundred chebels.”

Lord Urlack pondered this for a moment, and the great cavern grew quiet. “An entire city,” he mused aloud, as he mentally pictured the dimensions of a typical Tilean city. Then his eyes widened. “Or an entire army!”

“As you wish-please, most noble lord,” said the messenger.

“Come, now,” commanded the Grey Seer as he stepped down from his rocky dias. “You and I must speak further concerning what exactly it is your masters desire in exchange for this marvel.”

padre

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #207 on: April 30, 2020, 04:04:55 PM »
(I keep forgetting to write this sort of thing: This piece was co-written with Ant, the player playing General Valckenburgh in my campaign. I am going to have to edit some previous posts to mention other players!)

Good Captain
Remas, Palazzo Montini (Official Residence of the Arch-lector of Morr), Winter 2403-4

General Jan Valckenburgh had entered the audience chamber accompanied by only one companion, Captain Wallenstein of his cuirassiers. Several of the arch-lector’s palace guards were stationed about the room’s periphery - at least two of them accompanied him at all times - but the only other person present was his holiness Bernado Ugolini himself. The absence of clerks, priests or advisers was intended to give the impression that the meeting was a private affair.

His holiness was seated upon a heavy and large chair, beside a long table. After greeting the two Marienburgers, he invited Valckenburgh to sit upon the only other chair. He made a fuss over ascertaining whether another chair ought to be brought for the captain, but Wallenstein said he preferred to stand.

It was late afternoon and sunlight poured almost horizontally through the windows to fashion a sedate shadow play from the halberdier guards, an effect engendered by the room’s stark and sparse decoration. Unlike most palazzos with their fantastical frescos and fine friezes, here the walls were plain, white-painted plaster. There were several hanging carpets of intricate designs placed at regular intervals, each woven with the exact same, geometric pattern. As such, they only added to the ambience of calm, meditative reflection.



All of this was deliberate. Upon election, the arch-lector had ordered the Palazzo Montini's garish walls and ceilings painted over, and the removal of nearly every statue, golden candelabra, painting and rug. He wanted his palace both to reflect and magnify the thoughtful serenity he yearned to achieve. And he had much thinking to do!

“I am very pleased that at last we meet, good general,” began the arch-lector. “I know full well what you have achieved in the south, your army single-handedly defeating Khurnag’s several forces and so preventing their further cruel incursions. I also know the prejudice of so many Tileans, and the unwarranted suspicions they harbour concerning your presence. Yet here you are now, in answer to both mine and Lord Alessio’s calls, with no obvious reward beyond knowing you will serve with the living against our greatest enemy. And yes, I am aware that even upon your journey northwards you were subject to slanderous slurs and entirely false accusations of plunder and murder. Yet even then you were willing to put aside your righteous anger, forsaking the opportunity to attain entirely justifiable revenge, and continue your march.”



“Indeed, your holiness,” said the general. “Some duties lie above all others, above our personal wants and desires. You, as a man of cloth, know this well. My duties here in Tilea rise above the slanders of petty burghers, and so we move past them.”

Referring to Duke Guidobaldo Gondi, princely ruler of one of the most important city states in Tilea, as a ‘petty burgher’, was an extraordinary slur which the arch-lector must surely have noticed. Yet he gave no hint of displeasure. Perhaps he understood the extreme bitterness the general rightly felt as a consequence of Guidobaldo’s actions, and so recognised the relatively impressive level of self-control required to limit the inevitable anger to such words alone?

“Although it may seem inappropriate for me to do so,” said Bernado, “for I am not the party who wronged you, nevertheless I wish to offer Tilea’s apology, being that of my own beloved flock, the followers of the three gods and the vast majority of the citizens and subjects of the realm. Duke Guidobaldo is but one man, howsoever many flaws he possesses, and I would not have you think badly of the entire realm because of his unforgiveable actions.”

The general nodded, graciously. “Thus I have discovered, your holiness. Many who dwell in this bountiful land have proved themselves most worthy and I sincerely hope to aid the nobles and the mother church restore peace and prosperity.”



“Your help is much appreciated, good general,” said the arch-lector. “I fully accept that there must be consequences for Duke Guidobaldo’s actions. Yet I see now that you can look beyond his crimes to the greater danger; that you recognise the need to deal with other, much more terrible threats than Guidobaldo’s dishonourable conduct. His actions will not be forgotten, nor forgiven - I do assure you. You have my word, General Valckenburgh, that when this war is won, I will consult with you concerning what procedures should be initiated and what recompense ought to be demanded of the duke.”

The general nodded, but it was the captain behind him who spoke.

“The army's officers will be glad to hear that promise, your holiness. Knowing that past wrongs are to be righted will help them  to concentrate upon that which must concern them now.”



“I should expect this promise will help all your soldiers in the battles to come,” offered the arch-lector. “I would not want them suspicious of their Tilean allies, especially when the lives of both hang in the balance.”

General Valckenburgh smiled. “You can put that worry from your mind, your holiness. We have many a Tilean in our army, from the lowliest sapper to the Lady Luccia la Fanciulla, the bearer of our Myrmidian standard, so we know Tileans can be honourable and brave. As for Duke Guidobaldo, I am satisfied with your suggestions. He can be suitably censured by the church when the great troubles are resolved, and until then it is a waste of all our efforts to pursue the matter. I would, however, hope your churchmen will use their influence to remind the more insular of their Pavonan flock that we are all allies against the terrible enemy.”

The arch-lector gave a wry smile. “I will instruct exactly that, but I would not get your hopes up concerning the sermonising of my Pavonan priests. They have certain schismatic tendencies, encouraged by the duke himself.”



“So, we’re not the only ones to be troubled by the duke’s games?” asked the captain.

“No, captain,” said the arch-lector. “Few who have had any dealings with Guidobaldo come away entirely unscathed. Yet … I know this can be no consolation to you, nor do I suggest it should, but I would at least have you know that his son, Lord Silvano, is cut from a very different cloth than that of his father. I believe him to be honourable to a fault. Indeed, such is his proper obedience, his lack of selfishness and guile, that I doubt he can even see his own father’s faults. Lord Silvano has faced many enemies, remaining steadfastly true to his word, and even when defeated and pursued from the field, he yet returns willingly to fight again. Even his own men hid their treachery from him when the ogres were attacked at Viadaza – presumably they knew he would order them to desist if he learned their intentions. I have supped and marched with him, witnessed his bravery in battle, and I believe I know him well. Let not the sins of the father be visited upon the son.”

The general sighed. “Lord Silvano has without doubt demonstrated his bravery,” he said, “and his loyalty to his family is without question. Yet, your holiness, I advise caution, for he could be more dangerous than his father. Cunning and bravery combined make for a great prince - one all others should be most wary of.”



“Cunning?” asked the arch-lector.

“What we see is what Lord Silvano wants us to see. How better to avoid all censure for a mutiny than to appear not only ignorant of it but also to have very convenient proof of one’s own absence while it occurred? And think how well it serves his father that he can gain grateful friends for the princely heir of Pavona even while his father continues heinous crimes?”

“You think his very character is mere pretence?” asked the arch-lector, a note of incredulity evident in his tone.

“I cannot know for certain, your holiness. But it has proven very convenient for his father. I spoke at length to Lord Silvano and found him far too eloquent to be considered a naive youth, and too keen to present his father’s numerous misdeeds in a good light to be entirely honest. His excuses and justifications were neatly crafted, like a lawyer’s speech before a judge. He appeared to be more of a skilful, even duplicitous diplomat than, as you suggest, a guileless youth.”

The arch-lector nodded slowly. “I shall keep your words in mind, good general, upon future occasions,” he said. Changing tack, he asked, “What do you know of the tyrant Boulderguts’ whereabouts?”



“Little that is certain, which troubles me. I have learned what is commonly said to be the case but have no way of knowing if it is true. It was this consideration that led me to follow my elected route of march, being farther east than I might otherwise have traveled, in the hope that I could intercept the ogres if they attempted to skirt Lord Alessio’s army. And although my army’s scouts are adequate to the task of supporting a marching column, I lack the numbers required to scour the entire eastern reaches of Tilea.”

The arch-lector nodded. “For brutes they have proved to be a surprisingly nimble foe, and slippery to boot. However, my advisers are unanimously of the opinion that Boulderguts has departed Tilea, making his way across the mountain passes to the Border Princes, whence he came. Reports from the vicinity of the Via Nano confirm this. Still, this does not mean he no longer presents a threat. We must not be careless, for he could return to seek plunder where he found so much before – a prospect that can only grow more likely as time passes and his haul of loot diminishes. At present, however, we must contend with new robbers. No doubt you have heard how the Sartosans have brutally raped Luccini? It is almost certain they have their eyes set upon more prizes, especially as every city state is either sapped of strength by the ongoing wars or unprotected because their armies have marched north. I heard that their commander, Volker, is a Marienburger? Is this true?”

“Of course, I’ve heard of Volker,” answered the general. “And it does seem likely he hails from Marienburg. The VMC is a merchant company. As such, we make a point of learning what we can of all pirates, especially if they might prove detrimental to our enterprises. But I have never dealt personally with this particular one. As is so often the case, he was probably a mere sea artist or mate, rather than a captain or merchant, who mutinously turned to piracy. Not the sort of fellow I would know.”

“By your leave, general?” asked the captain.

“Speak your mind,” said Valckenburgh.

The captain turned to the arch-lector. “I do no doubt, your holiness, the Sartosans could be more than a mere thorn in our side, and that while Boulderguts lives he too remains a threat, but surely the vampire duchess presents the most immediate and greatest danger? No-one would happily turn their back on the Sartosans, but do we have a choice?”

“I do not believe we do,” said the arch-lector. “The pirates should be scattered for years to come by just one powerful blow, and in time that will be done I am sure. Much more than that is needed to rid Tilea of the undead. Despite defeating them several times, their evil only grows. For them, all our victories have proved to be nothing more than minor setbacks. They never want for soldiers and they know no fear, for they are blasphemy made flesh by foul conjurations.”

There was a moment’s silence as the arch-lector became lost in thought, a frown fixed upon his face, his eyes glazing as if he no longer saw the others in the room.

“Your holiness,” said the general. “My army can help to contain them, in the field or in their fastnesses, but only the church or colleges have the power to provide any lasting answer. Weight of numbers is sufficient merely to check their further advances, and that only for a time. We have need of holy intervention or arcane magics if we are truly to destroy them. Either that or the aid of great heroes of legend.”



“The latter I am afraid we lack, despite a crowd of great villains. Even an army of cultists, painfully dedicated in body and soul to Morr, failed against them. I not only pray for guidance daily,  but have consulted the wisest maestros and wizards Remas has to offer. Only yesterday I met with Angelo da Leoni, who spoke concerning the manifestation and magnification of purifying flames to burn the vampires’ armies, their leaders amongst them, unto their very core, obliterating even the wicked spirits possessing their bodily frames, yet finally admitting his want of the necessary ingredients for such, and great doubt concerning whether such could ever be successfully and safely brought to bear.”

“An answer is needed, your holiness. Otherwise all our sacrifices might prove to be in vain. And this is not all we must contend with. Lord Alessio has sent word to me twice of Skaven sightings - armies, he said, although apparently small.”

The arch-lector nodded gravely. “It is true,” he said. “I have received the same intelligence from Captain Soldatovya, commanding the Remans who march with the Portomaggiorans. He himself saw one of the tunnel mouths and his own scouts saw one of the armies. Small, as you say. Perhaps nothing more than a raiding party? Or the ragged remnant of some faction fleeing a far-off civil war?”

“You have reason to think so?” asked the general.

“No, good general, I only have hope that it is so. If they are the vanguard for something bigger then their arrival could be the last straw for Tilea.”

“They are vile threat,” spat Valckenburgh, his particular hate for them being obvious. “Much worse than orcs, perhaps more so than the ogres and undead. They’re an insidious and infectious foe who must be purged in all instances.”

Perhaps the arch-lector was reminded of a certain predecessor’s infamous pact with the ratto uomo? If so, he hid it well, simply saying, “I have tasked several scholars with looking into how we beat them in ages past.”

The captain almost laughed.

“I wonder,” he asked, “Back then, were the Tileans fighting ogres, vampires and Sartosans as well as the ratmen?”

« Last Edit: April 30, 2020, 04:39:17 PM by padre »

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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #208 on: May 18, 2020, 02:34:40 PM »
Keep Going!
Somewhere in the mountains of north Tilea, Winter 2403-4

Fricknar had never in all his cruelty-filled life undertaken a journey as difficult as this. They were in such a hurry that they were not allowed to stop for more than a few moments at a time. So far, six nights and five days of almost perpetual motion, a relentless succession of step, step, step; eating, even excreting, on the move. Every now and again he would have to run ahead to shovel something quickly - filling a hole or flattening a lump. Invariably, just as he completed the labour, the trundling engine caught up he was required to move on again.



In his bones he knew that should he continue at this pace another day then it would also become the most painful time of his life, not just the hardest journey. He had been badly beaten three times as a pup, and on the last occasion, as he lay battered and dazed, another pup from his own litter had eaten one of his fingers! He had been wracked with a burning pain in his lungs for countless days when he took a mouthful of warpstone vapour after an manufactory accident. He had been imprisoned in a near airless cage for more than a week as punishment for an infraction he never understood, starved of food and nauseously dizzied by the swinging motion of the cage every time someone pushed it (which many did and often). Right now, his pain and anguish were building up to rival all those past experiences, and by tomorrow, would surely overtake them.

His last task had been to assess the quality of a warpstone batch being offered by a small clan who had acquired it by (the usual) nefarious means. It had been flawed, but still useful, and a price was offered. Before he learned whether the purchase was successful, however, he been ordered to return with all haste to the workshops. Immediately upon doing so, he was assigned this new task - no time for explanations, no rest nor repast, but straight to work.

By the end of the first day he realised he knew none of the engine’s other attendants. Since then there had been little chance to get to know them, what with the incessant motion. Escorting the engine was an all-encompassing task, leaving little time anything else. The tunnels they had travelled through, despite being large, had been irregularly proportioned, in both width and height, and the ground uneven, scattered with tumbled rocks from crumbling walls. Here and there, roots had penetrated the ceiling, and stalagmites and stalactites had been allowed to form along the dampest stretches. Sometimes there was a way around such obstacles, but often they had to be cleared – lifted, hacked or chipped away – and his shovel was a necessary part of nearly all these tasks.



Their orders were clear, and in no uncertain terms: the engine must not collide or scrape against anything, nor should it jolt more than a little, and it should certainly never be allowed to list or careen. Most importantly, it must never stop.

It was possibly the most demanding assignment ever given to anyone, anywhere, at any time.

For a little while he had occupied his mind with attempting to work out whether the attendant who invariably walked in front of the engine, clutching a staff tipped with what appeared to be a fine shard of warpstone …



… or the engine’s driver were responsible for setting the pace, whilst also taking on board the possibility the engine itself might be most to blame. Before he had come to a decision, however, distraction and exhaustion had shattered such trivial considerations.



Now, here in a mountain valley between two tunnel-stretches, on the widest path yet traversed, with no walls or ceiling to concern him, only the ground itself, Fricknar was able to loosen and lift his mask just a little to allow in a breath or two of fresh air, and at long last, he had the chance to talk.



He had questions to ask.

Turning to the attendant closest to him, a red-hooded fellow carrying a tubular locking tool which could loosen any of several bolts on the engine and in the other hand what appeared to be a small gear wheel (presumably ready to replace some potentially defective part) he said,

“I heard we have gift-given much and more to the lord of Foul Peak. Why give this also? Why more and more?”



“Not gifts, no,” said his companion in a whining voice muffled by his mask. “All and everything will be paid for.”

“That matters not,” said Fricknar.

“It matters a lot,” countered the other.

“Yes, yes, to our masters, to the clan. I know-understand,” said Fricknar. “I mean it matters not to what I ask-enquire. Why give him more? Why this most novel, expensive engine? I heard his army has yet to fight one-single battle. His warriors have neither proved themselves capable nor wanting. Yet we fetch-bring such a reinforcement. Why?”

“You do not know-understand what this can do. You did not slave-work on its construction.”

“No, not I,” Fricknar admitted. “I know the quality-worth of warpstone, and I can keep an engine on the move.” He waved his shovel as if to prove the point.

“You have never moved such a one as this.”

Despite having studied the engine on several occasions over the last days, for want of much else to look at during the few moments he had not needed to watch the road, Fricknar looked again.



“I see only a doomwheel, like many others, with a murdering piece fix-attached,” he said.

“Yes, yes, you see that,” scoffed the other. “But what murder this can do. This kills many and much more than anything we have yet made. This might perhaps kill more than any single weapon has ever-ever killed!”

Fricknar looked at the engine again.



“It throws a bomb, yes?” he asked.

“Oh yes,” said the other. “A bomb. One bomb.”

“A poisoned-wind grenado?”

“It throws poison-death, yes, but not wind-vapours. The bomb inside is a thick shell of perfect-pure warpstone, two half-pieces fastened tight-together, and inside that inside is the finest ground-powdered warpstone, the making of which killed many hundred slaves, admixed with black powder in exact and most potent proportion-measure; precise and finely fused to explode the merest moment before touching the ground, which it must-must do, to release flesh-burning death to wash for a hundred and more chebels in each and every direction.”

“Warp-fire?”

“Yes, at first, but then much farther, a pure and poisonous etheric heat, burn-scalding all and only living flesh to a blistered crisp.”

Fricknar fell silent for a while. He had to think this through, for what he had heard did not sit well with his past experiences. Not well at all.

“Precise and finely fused, you spoke-said?” he asked.

“Yes, yes,” said the other. “Most and definitely very necessary.”

“And if, despite your careful care, it explodes too too soon?”

“Think, fool!” said the other, with a snarling hiss Fricknar could sense despite the mask and hood hiding his companion’s face.

He did not need to think. “Too too soon,” said Fricknar, “and we die too.”

“Yes!” said the other, loudly. “If even only a little too soon, then it will not be where we need-want it to be. It must be at the heart of the city. A moment too late and too much heat will pierce the ground - wasteful, for you cannot kill what is already dead.”

“This kills a city?”

“A city. An army,” said the other, a note of arrogant, easy pride in his voice. “Perhaps more?”

Fricknar’s fearful apprehension was now transforming into admiration. Then something occurred to him.

“Where are the bombs?” he asked.

“Are you deaf? Do you not listen-hear?” mocked the other. “You mean where is the bomb?”

Fricknar did not understand. Was that not what he had asked? There was just the engine, no carriage, wagon or slaves to bear a limber of any kind. He had absently assumed that the ammunition must already be at their destination, but hearing his companion’s description suggested such a cargo would be too rare and precious to be merely stockpiled elsewhere.

The bomb,” said the other, emphasising the singularity, “is inside. It broil-brews, always and now, growing more and more potent by the hour. To haul-carry it separately would mean by the time we tried to load it into the engine all who came near-close would die immediate-quickly.”

This made no sense to Fricknar. “But we are nearby, and for days?”

“Yes, yes. The iron barrel enclosing it is thick-strong and inscribed inside with most potent-effectual sigillic wards, perfectly carved.”



Fricknar could imagine the carver squirming inside the barrel to carve such sigils - a suffocating, claustrophobic trial undoubtably far worse than his time in the cage.

“Could not a container-chest be made with such thickness or more?” he asked. “Such sigils? And better sealed tight-secure?”

“Yes, yes it could. No doubt. More easily made. More safely carried. But think, to load the murdering piece we would have to remove the bomb from the chest after it had broil-brewed for the whole journey. Impossibly intolerable.”

“Could slaves not be ordered to do so? Or some monstrous creation of Clan Moulder?”

“No, no, never. They would die the very instant the chest was breached.”

Fricknar glanced back at the engine.

“And dead slaves and ogres cannot load anything,” he said almost to himself. Then, louder, he asked, “So the sigil-wards prevent all harm leak-spilling out?”

“Not all, no,” said the other, as if it were obvious.

Of course, Fricknar should have known this. He pulled his loosened mask tight again, immediately regretting every breath of ‘fresh’ air he had taken. No skaven workshop ever made anything completely safe. The ever-present fear of punishment meant there was always haste as corners were cut, mistakes were inevitably concealed, and tests were deemed a pointless exercise when something was already completed. If it is built, use it! Worse still, most engines were made before the principles were even fully understood, so that the very design had flaws before even the first component part was assembled. None of those who invented or fashioned such engines cared a jot for the fate of those who would be ordered to use them; besides, once one engine was taken, they were immediately busy with the next, then the next.

“It is impossible to prevent it all, for it is far too potent, and grows ever more so,” the other continued. “Why do you think the engine never stops? It cannot be allowed to. If it did then too, too much of its etheric heat would concentrate-congeal in one single place. Then there would be none left to move it.”

Fricknar was confused again. “We have our masks, our waxed robes, our cylinder-filters, yes. But look here, these clanrats, they have guard-escorted us so, so far, even through the long tunnels. Why are they not dead or dying?”

There were two bands of guards, one marching before the engine, which included a weapons team armed with a rattling gun …



… and another lot behind.



“You did not witness-see the changing?” asked the other.

“What changing?”

“Yes, the changing. You must have been labour-working, up ahead clearing away the tangle-mass or the shattered shards of dripping rocks. These are not the guards we began the journey with.”

Fricknar knew he was exhausted and distracted, but he had not realised just how much he had failed to notice. Yet, he thought, his point still stood.

“Then I ask, these-here new guards, why are they not dead?”

“Hush! They will be soon enough. If there are no more changings, some perhaps will die before we arrive at Foul Peak. They have only lasted this long because we have not stopped.”

“No, wait,” demanded Fricknar, having spotted a flaw in the other’s arguments. “I know there is little truth-sense in your words. Those two, there, with the rattler, they have been here with us from the start. They have no robes or masks.”



“But they always scuttle-run ahead, as ordered, never behind, never in the engine’s wake-trail. This buys them time. Remember how they were on the first day? Yes? Look close now and you will see how they flag, how they stumble-stall. Look closer and you will see how their skin peels and their fur falls in lumps. Look into their eyes and you will see that death already tugs at their tails.”

Fricknar was getting frustrated by the frantic insanity of his companion’s words. Whatever answers they contained, there were always more questions. Even now, something bugged him.

“You say before we arrive at Foul Peak?” he asked. “How can we arrive if we cannot stop? How can our journey end? Are we to use this weapon against Foul Peak?”

“No, not there. Against the lord of Foul Peak’s enemies. Do you never listen-hear?”

“I will hear your answer,” said Fricknar, his anger momentarily mastering his fear. “How can we arrive at Foul Peak?”

“We shall arrive soon enough, but this does not mean we shall stop-stay, only pass through, there to be joined by more and others, to learn where we must go next, and so continue, on and on.”

This was impossible, thought Fricknar. He had a day left in him, perhaps another if his fear could dominate his pain to keep him on his feet.

“How can we continue?” he complained. “It is impossible! Our legs will be worn to nothing-nubs if we try.”

“All is prepared and arranged by our masters and the lord of Foul Peak,” said the other. “New attendants await the engine at the mountain. We will be allowed to rest-lie upon litters, to be carried on at some remove.”

“And then?”

“Then we will be command-ordered back to the engine. If we are fortunate-lucky we will be attending when it fires.”

“Lucky?” spat Fricknar. “How is there any good fortune in taking such a risk?”

“To watch it work. To see-witness a whole city killed or an entire army obliterated!”





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Re: A Tilean Campaign (Warhammer Fantasy Battle)
« Reply #209 on: June 12, 2020, 03:41:07 PM »
A Letter from Antonio Mugello to the most noble Barone Iacopo Brunetti, Regent of Verezzo

As I wrote unto my beloved Lord Lucca (may he sit beside Morr in the garden of eternal summer) to impart what little I had learned of events throughout Tilea, so humbly I send this missive to you. My love for Lord Lucca and my loyalty to Verezzo are now offered to you, noble lord, for you have been a faithful servant of the first and have become the guardian of the latter.

I have been lodged in Remas throughout the winter, a place most conducive to the garnering of knowledge concerning the whole of Tilea. Sometimes I witness the events themselves. A month ago, I myself witnessed the arrival of the army of the VMC, led by General Valckenburgh, who had given up the siege of Pavona. I know not what you have heard concerning the VMC but presume that Duke Guidobaldo’s accusation that they were behind Lord Lucca’s murder and the looting of Spomanti must be painfully well known to you. From what I have learned, my lord, it seems to be generally accepted, at least here in Remas, that Duke Guidobaldo lied, and was himself responsible for the unforgiveable deed. My Lord Lucca warned me on several separate occasions concerning Duke Guidobaldo’s duplicitousness, and it gives me nothing but great sadness to know that his words are – post mortem - further proof of his great wisdom.  Furthermore, ib the last missive I received from my Lord Lucca he informed me that he had met with General Valckenburgh and found him to be a most honourable officer, who had marched north out of an earnest desire to assist in the defeat of the terrible foe. Lord Lucca was rarely, if ever, mistaken in his judgement of another, and I can see no reason to suppose he was mistaken regarding the general.

This, of course, explains recent events, most obviously General Valckenburgh’s siege of Pavona. He must have been furious to be slandered in such a way – angry enough to lure him from his march north to face the vampires threatening every living soul in Tilea. I have heard some in Remas voice their confusion as to why Valckenburgh did not complete what he had begun at Pavona, for Guidobaldo’s actions and subsequent lies were no less than a declaration of war, but (if you will allow me to offer mine own humble opinion) the answer seems clear to me. While we, who have suffered the loss of our dear lord at the Pavonan duke’s hands can feel only an enduring, righteous anger, General Valckenburgh personally suffered slander alone, and as his fury had time to subside (as ours can never do) he must have decided that the pursuit of satisfaction regarding what in another time would be a serious matter, seemed relatively petty in light of the great threat offered by the vampire duchess.

And so it is that Valckenburgh’s army is now camped here in the realm of Remas, apparently intending to rest a while. Perhaps they are waiting for Spring before recommencing their march? Or their halt might well be part of some grand strategy jointly agreed by the arch-lector of Morr, Lord Alessio Falconi and General Valckenburgh? I cannot know. It does strike me, and others too, as odd that Valckenburgh has now allowed himself to be delayed yet again, having only just overcome the anger that previously delayed him. Some say he is too easily distracted, but I believe, considering that which I am yet to relate to you, that he has more material concerns to factor in to his strategies, such as the reports of ratto-uomo forces and tunnel mouths north of the Trantine Hills, as well as the razing of Luccini and kidnapping of King Ferronso by the pirates of Sartosa.

By your leave, noble Barone, I will attempt to address these concerns, and more, in turn.

It is now commonly known in Remas that the ratto uomo are once again stirring in Tilea, what with Lord Alessio’s army discovering several entrances to huge tunnels north of the Trantine Hills, and even sighting verminous forces marching above ground. I cannot know what was said in the official missives, nor even if much more detail was contained therein, but enough Reman soldiers marching with Lord Alessio have sent word to their families and friends for the news to have spread. Perhaps unsurprisingly, knowing the cowardly nature of the ratto uomo (unless amassed in great strength) those forces fled back into the tunnels to avoid giving battle. Yet, the fact that they are openly active has begun to cause considerable consternation in a city with a somewhat chequered history of dealing with the verminkind. It has long been presumed in Tilea that ratto uomo always lurk in the shadows, whispering manipulative lies, stealing valuables, sewing discord and disease. Some say that all those who dwell within a city’s walls are never more than two dozen yards from a rat-man! But it has been many a decade since verminkind have marched in strength within sight of men rather than concealed underground or in barren places while embroiled in their interminable civil wars.

Continued after the following story

………………………………………………………………

Such a Shame-Waste!
Somewhere in Tilea, End of Winter, IC 2403-4



In the night’s quietest hour, in the city’s loneliest corner, several assassins, sharp of tooth and claw, were inspecting their work.

“A job very well done, master, yes?” said one, still clutching the heavy blade he had pommelled one of their victims with before strangling the man.



“They are dead,” said the master. “Which was our aim-desire, so yes, if it pleases you, heap congratulations where and how you like. But this here is nothing but a beginning-start. Here lie the foundations of that which we shall make-forge. No, not that … the first cracks in that which we will destroy. Yes, that’s better.”

The first looked at the sword now prominently lodged in the other corpse, his eyes then flicking to scrutinise the ragged edge of his own blade.

“Master,” he said, “forgive, but that blade is good and sharp - such a shame-waste to leave it here.”



“The sword stays. We must-need ensure the menthings think-believe their own kind did this.”

“Yes, not us, never us,” hissed the first. He prodded his own victim with his taloned foot. “Yet master, a mere-nothing thought, but this one here has a knife. Would that not suit-satisfy?”

The master seemed to have a mind to be generous.

“It might just do,” he agreed. “But no, I like the sword. It draws the eye. A knife is but a small thing and gives but small ideas - the tool of petty-squabbling thieves, too easily dismissed as bloody vengeance between the basest of men-things. This sword tells another story, for it is the kind the men-thing guards carry. Let their captains think-believe their own guards bear the blame for this naughtiness.”

“So very clever master, yes. Yet could not a soldier dispatch-kill such as these and be proud, boasting of his most satisfactory work?”

“A soldier might boast, had any one of them done this,” said the master.



“But none of them did, and so none will make such a claim. Then the captains will think-believe their command-control is weak, and that they know not what their own soldiers do.”

“Yes, Master,” said the first, finally giving up on his petty quest to obtain the sword.

“Now,” ordered the master, “look and look again. Make certain-sure there is no sign of our presence here.”

The first looked at the corpses and then around them.

“There was only your throwing star where now instead the sword is stuck-pierced,” he said. “This man-thing I squeeze-strangled, and he but scrape-scratched at me, pathetic-weak.”

“Look again, make certain-sure,” commanded the master. “Nothing dropped. No fur under his nails. No paw print marking the ground.”

The first hunched down and looked closer. He was getting nervous, as could be seen from the raised fur on the back of his neck.

“Master, forgive, but do we not linger-stay here too long?” he asked. “If the men-things come they will see us ourselves, not just that we leave-drop behind, and they will know all.”

“Hush-quiet,” snapped the master. “I am no half-wit fool. I chose this spot. I chose this time. No-one will come. Four nights this place was quiet-empty. Besides, look, look,” he gestured at the guards stationed all around them, “we have eyes to see and ears to hear all around.”



“If anyone approaches,” the master continued, “we shall know in plenty-enough time to make our escape. Now, make haste, and be sure there no sign-clue of our presence.”

………………………………………………………………

Antonio Mugello’s letter continued

On more than one occasion I have heard it voiced that this resurgence of the ratto uomo could spell the end of all civilisation in Tilea, for if this is a new offensive, then it has begun just as the whole peninsula lies exhausted and weakened by the ongoing war against the vampires, having only recently emerged from several conflicts – the War of the Princes, the scattering of Khurnag’s Waagh and a veritable battering at the hands of Boulderguts’ brutes. There simply might not be sufficient strength remaining in Tilea to resist the ratto uomo hordes. Fearful rumours are rife concerning what diseases they might already be spreading, who they are about to assassinate, and which foolish rulers they have lured into a false alliance? In Remas, the memory of arch-lector Ordini’s ignominious dealings remains a scab upon the city’s reputation. Is it any surprise the Remans are openly asking which madman has called upon the verminkind’s aid, perhaps hoping to attain the upper hand in some petty squabble, to gain vengeance or to retrieve some lost power? Since time immemorial there have always been fools who believe they can benefit from such a foul alliance.

I myself have heard a myriad of theories and list the following not merely to repeat malicious gossip nor to revel in rumour, but to give the mind of the people, as it may contain more than one kernel of truth. I will address some of the most likely first, in that they concern wicked powers who would feel no compunction at allying with the likes of the ratto oumo.

Have the Sartosans made an agreement of some sort? Would such sea dogs baulk at the idea of sharing the spoils with sewer rats, if not to do so could mean no spoils at all? The very fact that both appeared at one and the same time seems in itself to link them. Just as the Sartosans ravaged Luccini, the ratto uomo appeared skulking at new tunnel mouths, so that those in between could not know which way to look! If divided, we may well be more easily conquered or robbed.

Has the vampire duchess, now hard-pressed by the gathering armies of Tilea, offered the ratto uomo some portion of the peninsula in return for luring away the armies currently threatening her? I do not pretend to know the mind of a vampire, and despite the noble trappings and haughty demeanour many adopt, I cannot dismiss the possibility that they might stoop so low as to bargain with verminkind. There seems to be no wickedness that vampires are not capable of, and thus only their evil pride might dissuade them. Much is known of Duchess Maria in life, but all we can know now is that in undeath she is surely not at all the same. Anyone who surrounds themselves with a putrid court of rotting corpses cannot be so particular as to refuse to meet with flea-ridden vermin.

Several noblemen (of which there are not that many in Remas since the uprisings) have suggested that the VMC, ruled by greed alone, has signed a secret contract in which they carve up Tilea between themselves and the verminkind - the VMC to rule the south while the ratto-uomo ruin the north. I heard one signore say this would explain why the army of the VMC has marched north so leisurely, allowing itself to be easily distracted. It may well be to their advantage that Lord Alessio’s Portomaggioran and Reman army bears the brunt of the fight against the vampire duchess, for then both Portomaggiore and the Remas can be all the more easily subdued afterwards. Furthermore, claimed the nobleman, the real reason General Valckenburgh lifted the siege or Pavona was because he saw such a ruined realm as a waste of effort, and wanted to keep his army strong to defeat the weakened Portomaggioran and Reman armies, then to seize much richer realms instead. I can say that I saw real fear in the eyes of those who listened to this signore’s words, for all must have suddenly suspected the army of the VMC’s prolonged encampment at Remas was nothing more than an opportunity to rest and reconnoitre before seizing the city for themselves. Those fearful people had not Lord Lucca’s wise counsel to guide them, but of course, had I spoken my mind, then as a Verezzan rebutting a Reman gentleman, they would not have heard me.

I even heard one fellow, Pavonan by his accent, say that the dwarfen king in the mountains has made a pact with the verminkind, to bring about an end to their meddling in the dwarfs’ mines. I voiced my doubt, telling the man that the dwarfs of Karak Borgo have always craved trade, and the sort of destruction the ratto uomo cause would not be at all conducive to such. He just laughed, saying that would be presuming the king of the dwarfs is in command of his wits, whilst his companion spat and declared no dwarf could be trusted.

Mention of these Pavonans brings me to a matter I must address, but I would first have you know that I have attempted to consider this dispassionately, as would an entirely uninterested observer, despite the fact that it concerns the murderer of our beloved master.

I have no doubt that the following intelligence is known to you, what with your closer proximity to Pavona, but it is clear that Duke Guidobaldo’s realm has suffered dreadfully during the winter, both due to its precarious state after being ravaged by the ogres and then as a consequence of the army of the VMC’s siege. Duke Guidobaldo’s own army is said to be fragmenting – indeed only yesterday I saw with mine own eyes some of Reman bravi who marched away with the Pavonans (to become notorious for the raid on Spomanti), back here upon the streets of Remas. Such mercenary bravi could hardly be expected to honour their contract with Pavona when there is nothing but misery and hunger for them there. The Pavonan people are now sadly starving, for the duke took food from them to feed his soldiers. Furthermore, he has defaulted on so many loans over the last years that not one banking family is prepared to do business with him, and traders demand payments of gold in advance. What will come of all of this, I know not. Possibly his own subjects will revolt, turning against him, or perhaps he will resort again to acts of piracy and murder? Maybe his realm will simply diminish and fade into obscurity?

Or, and this is what plagues my nightmares, perhaps he thinks to regain his power and wealth by means of a verminous pact? Could it be that Duke Guidobaldo of Pavona - desperate as he is, humiliated, his pride in shatters, his realm suffering, known to be capable of such lies and treachery as would put the ratto uomo to shame - could it be that it was he who summoned the verminkind?

Of course, as yet it is unknown whether the ratto uomo will indeed amass in any strength; nor whether they intend a minor interference or a major incursion; nor whether they have in mind the destruction of the whole of Tilea of just some part thereof.

What is know for certain, however, is that the Vampire Duchess has yet to be defeated. Twice before she has sent armies south of Ebino, and it has taken battle after battle to prevent her further advance. Her aggressiveness is proven – if she is not destroyed then she will almost certainly send forth her armies again and again until she has the whole peninsula beneath her foul feet.

All the reports coming from the Reman soldiers under Lord Alessio’s command agree that Duchess Maria once again resides in Ebino. The walled and moated city teems with her undead servants. Every tower parapet is guarded by unblinking eyes. Every tomb, grave and burial pit in Ebino and Miragliano lies empty, the occupants now busied in the duchess’s service.

Continued after the following story, which is in the next post!

« Last Edit: June 12, 2020, 03:48:37 PM by padre »