Monday, 18 April 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 3

After 2 games on the first weekend, there were still 4 of us who had not played. On the second weekend the remaining 4 players faced off. Rather than make every game a wacky scenario, we decided that both of those games would be Meeting Engagements as the High Elves and Lizardmen moved to intercept the Dark Elves, who had already landed on Albion and were on the march.

This game was between my Dark Elves and Nick Hoen's Lizardmen. An introduction for this game was included here.

Game 3: The Sorceress and the Frog

The great Slann Qur-myt surveyed the field with heavy-lidded eyes as his palanquin drifted to a halt behind his own lines. Ranks of nimble Skink warriors were rapidly assembling before him, moving to respond to the Dark Elf formations that had emerged from the misty rain on the far side of the field. He had commanded that the army travel in silence as they attempted to ambush their prey, however Qur-myt knew that the Dark Elf Sorceress had felt his presence upon the Winds of Magic and alerted her allies.  

It was always thus. He was both on the battlefield, and he was not. His consciousness rode the Winds of Magic like a master sailor, roaming where it willed and observing much. It could be a great advantage, but it made his presence difficult to hide from others with the skill to detect it. The Skink attendant on the arm of his palanquin sighed, but the sigh was not his own. It was Qur-myt’s sigh. The Skink did everything for him. Qur-myt was busy being barely-there. He was also a bit lazy. Flying lounge chairs did that to you.

The ground shook slightly as the monstrous dinosaurs that served the Lizardmen were goaded into position by their Skink drivers. Closest to Qur-myt was the great Skink hero, Ivyl-knivyl. Ivyl-knivyl was brave. He was daring. There was nothing he would not ride over with his 20,000lb Stegadon. Many things were flatter than they once had been as a result of Ivyl-knivyl’s fearless driving – enemies, trees, ancient irreplaceable relics in the temple city of Tlaxtlan – nothing was safe from the daring of Ivyl-knivyl. 
Ivyl-knivyl flattens some trees as he carelessly drives his Stegadon into position.

Further afield was a lumbering Bastiladon. It slowed to a halt as Skinks clambered all over it, removing the stone covers from the Solar Engine riding securely on its armoured back. Far off on the army’s flank, Qur-myt’s most trusted Skink Priest Mana-mana led a pack of Skink warriors and Kroxigor. They lurked in the swamps, seeking to out-maneuver the Dark Elves and strike them from behind. On the other flank were Terradons and Chameleon Skinks, tasked with destroying the Dark Elf war machines on the distant hill. 
The Lizardmen look to out-flank the Dark Elves during deployment.
For some reason there was no sign of the Salamander team that was traveling with the army. Qur-myt sent his vision through the eyes of his Skink attendant and turned to look behind them (Qur-myt could not remember the last time he himself had been able to look over his own shoulder). He could not see the Salamander, nor the Skinks that should have been shepherding it into battle. No doubt the beast was being bothersome and eating its crew again. Qur-myt’s Skink sighed again.
Mana-mana the Skink Priest leads a regiment hard around the flank.
Can you see the Chameleon Skinks? They and the Terradons are looking at the Bolt Throwers with obvious intent.
The Dark Elves did not wait politely for the missing Salamander to arrive. In fact, they barely waited for their own commander to make an appearance. The Druchii were already advancing when Kathain Stormbrow suddenly appeared through the mists and rain behind the lines, cursing at his recalcitrant Cold One and slapping it hard with the blade of his sword. A rear-guard of Darkshard Crossbowmen followed him onto the field, then immediately moved into position when they realized the battle was starting without them.
The Dark Elves advance whilst the Sorceress flies across and starts harvesting wounds from the Skinks on the flank.
The Dreadlord and Crossbowmen are fashionably late to the party.
The crew of the Reaper Bolt Throwers upon the hill spotted movement in the swamps opposite and fired volleys of wickedly barbed, black-fletched bolts into the marshes. The Chameleon Skinks had thought themselves all but undetectable there, however the air was thick with the bolts and two of their number were unable to avoid the deadly hail. The remaining members of the team lost their nerve and retreated further into the swamps, away from the nasty war machines.  There they re-gathered as the Terradons took flight with their sights set on the hill. Their speed caught the Dark Elf crewmen off-guard, and the first team was quickly overwhelmed whilst the crew of the second machine scrambled for cover.
The Chameleons run for cover, but rally and are promptly forgotten by both players. You see the dangers of blending into the table?
The Terradons made short work of both Bolt Throwers, after a long charge in turn 1. Very slick.
Mana-mana led his packs of Skinks toward the enemy’s right flank, however they were coming under increasing fire from the Crossbowmen who had quickly taken up their positions and were unleashing a hail of shots with their repeating weapons. Numerous Skinks fell, but it was the Sorceress that broke their spirit, tearing holes in their ranks with dark magic as she sucked the life from her victims and added their essence to her own. Her eyes blazed with power as she scanned the field from the back of her Dark Pegasus. The Skinks scattered and fled the field, unwilling to face the carnage any further. Mana-mana’s own pack was made of sterner stuff and weathered the punishment as the enemy turned their attention in that direction.

Qur-myt witnessed the damage being inflicted by the dark Sorceress and knew that he needed to retaliate. Seizing control of Mana-mana’s consciousness, he channeled his own formidable powers through the Skink’s feeble frame. Mana-mana was a mere passenger in his own head as he saw his arms being raised and blazing golden energies surging from his fingertips. They raced out and swirled around the enemy Cold One Knights, taking the shape of glittering hounds of searing light before suddenly surging inward and mauling the hapless victims. The Dark Elf battle standard bearer screamed as he sustained crippling burns within his smoking armour, but somehow remained upright in the saddle. Many of his companions were less fortunate, as half the regiment succumbed with ghastly shrieks of agony. The stench of burning flesh reached Mana-mana’s keen nostrils as he suddenly regained control of his own body once more. Looking around him, he noted the Skinks nearby staring at him with something akin to awe at this display of power. He would have to explain later that this magic was not of his own doing.
The Bastiladon watches the approach of the Cold One Knights.
Realising they were in trouble, the remaining Cold One Knights lowered their lances and charged for the Bastiladon as it unleashed a wave of searing energy at the Witch Elves, killing a few and temporarily blinding the remainder. The Cold One Knights arrived in a wave, lances searching for weak-points in the dinosaur’s rock-hard scaly armour. A couple found their mark and the Bastiladon bellowed and staggered back, turning as it did so to bring its tail within reach of its assailants. One of the Cold One Knights was knocked from his saddle and crushed as the dinosaur turned, and then the wounded standard bearer failed to react quickly enough as a massive club tail swept around and pulverized both him and his mount. Despite this brutal show of strength, the Skinks atop the Bastiladon scattered and fled as it continued its turn and lumbered from the field to escape the wicked lances of its attackers.
Noooo my BSB :(
Ivyl-knivyl steers his Stegadon straight into the Witch Elves. Actually both units had failed to charge each other once by this point. The Stegadon pulled it off on the second attempt.
The Witch Elves were still recovering from the blinding blast of the Bastiladon’s Solar Engine when they felt the earth shaking beneath their feet and the looming form of Ivyl-knivyl’s Stegadon charged daringly into their midst. The crazed Elves did not take long to respond, and despite several of their number being crushed by the headlong charge and questionable parking skills of the Skink driver, they were soon swarming around with poisoned blades in each hand, probing for weaknesses in a frenzy of stabbing. Ivyl-knivyl himself fell afoul of one of the slashing blades and toppled from the back of his mount, clutching at his chest. The Stegadon roared and reared, crashing down atop the hapless Elves. So many were crushed that the remainder experienced a moment of clarity and realized that they had been almost wiped out. They turned and fled with the sorrowful dinosaur lumbering slowly after them.
Poor Witch Elves. They actually killed the Skink Chief and made the Stegadon take 6 saves. It was a good effort, but not enough.
The Spearmen fleeing the charges earlier.
Qur-myt saw all of this. Qur-myt had also seen the enemy Spearmen flee from the combined charge of the Stegadon the massed Skinks and Kroxigor nearby, and had observed them regroup some distance away. Qur-myt noted the approach of the enemy Sorceress as her Dark Pegasus swooped down from the skies. Qur-myt even experienced a distant pain as the witch unleashed a hail of dark magic upon his physical body, his magical protection only partly deflecting the damage. The assault was almost enough to drag his full awareness back to his body, but he resisted. Qur-myt was there, but he was not there. He was there when he wiped out the remaining Cold One Knights with searing metal magic. He was also once again in the body of Mana-mana, who was beginning to feel like little more than a puppet as he served as a conduit for his master’s magic and obliterated the enemy Dreadlord in a dazzling display of power. The Skinks around him gasped as the Slann’s presence moved on and Mana-mana shook his head to clear it once more.
The Sorceress decides that Qur-myt the ethereal frog must die.
The Stegadon fails to catch the Witch Elves, and exposes its flank to the Spearmen.
Oh dear.
The Stegadon was still chasing the fleeing Witch Elves when it was set upon by the Dark Elf Spearmen who had escaped it earlier. They lowered their spears and charged it in its flank, rudely interrupting its mission to destroy the villains who had felled its master Ivyl-knivyl. A dark-robed Assassin appeared in the midst of the Spearmen and lashed out with a venom-coated blade. The thicket of spears and efforts of the Assassin were too much for the already-wounded Stegadon, and it flailed and crashed to the ground with a frustrated bellow.
Stab it!
The Spearmen had little time to celebrate their victory; no sooner had they turned than they found themselves assaulted by the same regiment of Skinks and Kroxigor they had earlier eluded. The Dark Elves braced for the charge with spears at the ready, however Qur-myt was again watching. The blades of the Skinks began to glow as they closed with the enemy, and at the same time the armour of the Dark Elves started to rust and fall apart. The confidence of the Elves was dimmed even as the Skinks were encouraged. Shining knives and daggers slashed amongst the Dark Elves, whilst their own spear tips seemed leaden and clumsy. By the time the Kroxigor waded into their midst with massive glowing clubs swinging, the fight was already over. The Dark Elf formation collapsed and they were dragged down as they turned to flee.
The casualties were a bit lop-sided. Enchanted Blades of Aiban and Plague of Rust were both cast into the combat, and then I rolled abysmally to murder all the Skinks. Their revenge was terrible to behold.
Whilst Qur-myt’s influence was proving considerable, he paid a price for once again ignoring what was happening close at hand. The Sorceress had not given up in her quest to destroy the Slann, and hammered at his defensive enchantments again and again. Dark winds like slicing daggers and bolts of purest darkness tore the air asunder. Qur-myt’s Skink attendant had long since hid under his master’s palanquin, and huddled there in terror as the assault continued. Over and over the Sorceress lashed out, wounding Qur-myt’s body repeatedly as his magical shields buckled under the onslaught. 
The Sorceress smashes the Slann turn after turn with dark magic, but either rolls poorly for wounds or watches him roll amazingly for saves. He's still almost dead. He ended the game with a single wound left, and had healed at least a couple during the game.
Just as Qur-myt began to think that the time had come at last to shed his mortal form and give himself completely to the Winds of Magic, the battle was over. The last of the Dark Elf forces had been killed or had fled; only the snarling Sorceress remained. A circle of Skinks was closing in on her position, and the air was growing thick with poisoned darts and javelins.  Her own sorcerous protection was taking a battering, and she at last broke off her attack and took to the air. She spat venomous words at the crippled Slann before a final volley from the surrounding Skinks scared her off for good.
Meanwhile I tried repeatedly and failed to panic the Skinks and Kroxigor, and they caught up with my Crossbowmen...
...and walloped my soundly.
Terradons dropped rocks on most of the other Crossbowmen (seriously, who rolls 9 hits on 3D3?). The survivors shot a Terradon, but it was not enough to save them.
Ummm I think I left something in the oven.
As she left, Qur-myt roused himself enough to move his wounded mortal body for the first time in centuries. Wasted muscles lifting one heavy hand, he managed a rude gesture toward the departing Sorceress before he admitted defeat and collapsed into unconsciousness. His work here was finished, for now.

As silence descended upon the field, the surviving Skinks looked around them. They saw the fallen form of their hero, Ivyl-knivyl. Admittedly he might live; he had famously survived worse incidents before. They saw the wounded form of the Slann, collapsed on his scorched and battered palanquin. And then they turned and saw Mana-mana - the great Priest who had so dazzlingly destroyed large swathes of the enemy, including their leader. 

Mana-mana looked about in alarm as his fellow Skinks gazed upon him with wonder and admiration, and began to chant his name in their high, rasping voices:

"Mana-mana! Mana-mana!"

How was he going to explain this to Qur-myt?

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