Sunday, 26 June 2016

The Shadows Return: Game 11

The perpetual game of catch-up continues. In this encounter, the main Empire force has finally made it onto the Albion mainland and is marching north from a far more southerly landing point than they had originally intended. Unfortunately they hit the Dark Elves who were on their way south...

Stefan the Black stared hard through the misty rain at the ground below. He shook his head to get the water out of his eyes, but it did little good; within moments it was as though he was blinking through tears again. He was soaked, his armour was soaked, and his mount, Nightwing, was also soaked. The Griffon didn't seem very happy, either. He was more irritable than usual and fought his rider's commands. Stefan didn't know if Nightwing was responding to his own foul mood, or was just as sick of being in the rain as he was. As they all were, really. 

This whole expedition had been an exercise in misery. Albion was a dreadful place. It was in the middle of nowhere, cursed with the most unrelentingly lousy weather Stefan had ever encountered. And it was seemingly crawling with enemies.

Stefan recognized the shrieking of harpies long before he could make out their dark shapes through the mists. When he did finally see them, he could see them heading directly for him. Like they had known where he was long before he could have spotted them. This was impossible, of course. A harpy’s eyesight was really not much better than his own, and the rain would have been just as impenetrable for Nightwing's keen vision. More than likely the miserable creatures were attracted by his mood, thought Stefan.

It was only as he banked away from the approaching harpies that he noticed the dark shapes of the enemy columns advancing across the muddy fields below.

Game 10: Isle of Misery

Erathi, Hag Queen of Khaine and lover of bloodbaths, stalked to the head of the regiment of Witch Elves. Harpies circled overhead as the last of her warriors reached their positions. Across the field she could see the looming shape of the Empire Griffon, and she swished her blade about subconsciously as she imagined driving it into the beast’s heart. 
Deployment and the Empire vanguard moves
Such cheekiness, running right toward the enemy like that. Actually, this is an unusually large number of light cavalry in an Empire army. I kind of like it, though maybe not how far forward they vanguarded...
The strength in the Empire centre with the Griffon, Demigryphs (who lost or forgot their riders) and the Reiksguard Knights led by multiple characters.
The vanguard of the enemy rode out onto the field, but many of them were soon beset by Harpies as the Druchii wasted no time and started their advance. The Pistoliers and Outriders fired into the skies in vain as the Harpies swirled in and then dropped upon them. Little could be seen through the smoke brought on by the discharge of so many black powder weapons, but the screaming of men and horses told the tale. It was not long the Outriders broke and they were torn apart by the pursuing Harpies. The Pistoliers fared better and held their ground bravely.
Oops, we got too close and lack the skills to shoot down charging skirmishers at long range...
The Dark Elf lines advance on the remaining Pistoliers and the army behind them.
Harpies bust through the Outriders and head for the Cannon.
The Pistoliers are gone. But where did they go? Actually, the Crossbowmen and Bolt Thrower have a guilty look about them.
The Pistoliers did well against their Harpies, but eventually died in a deadly missile dance with the Dark Elf Crossbowmen
For death and glory!
The Empire General on his Griffon led by example, and flew directly toward the advancing ranks of Executioners. He was joined in the charge by the Demigryph Knights, and together they slammed into the Dark Elf regiment. They arrived with a chorus of savage roars, but those roars soon turned to whimpers as they discovered that they had bitten off far more than they could chew. The wicked two-handed blades of the Executioners were wielded with a level of mastery and intent that the Empire warriors could never hope to match. The Griffon received multiple serious wounds and two of the Demigryphs and their riders were hacked apart entirely. What began as a glorious charge soon devolved into a bitter rout as the Griffon beat its wings frantically to get away and put some distance between itself and its tormentors. The remaining Demigryph was not so fortunate, and died where it stood as it turned to escape. Erathi smirked as she observed the spectacle. These foolish humans had no idea how outmatched they were. Well, they would soon learn.
Mistakes were made... Ummm I left something in the oven back home. Gotta go, sorry.
Erathi's forces gave the fleeing Empire General no time to recover from his humiliation. The wounded Griffon gave a shriek of alarm as it saw enemies charging toward it and it redoubled its scramble to escape. With a frantic beat of its wings it departed the field, leaving the Empire army without its commander.
OK, now this really shouldn't work. But it did. Truly the courage and skill of those Empire soldiers are the stuff of legend.
Buoyed by their success against the Outriders, the Harpies swept in and tore apart the crew of the Empire Cannon before throwing themselves against the regiment of Archers. Despite outnumbering the Harpies more than five to one, the humans fought with all the courage of a pack of whipped Skaven slaves. They sobbed at the thought of actually having to take up their weapons and defend themselves, and turned fleeing with a chorus of girly shrieks and self-pitying howls. The Harpies managed to hide their disdain as they tore the fleeing soldiers to pieces.
The Reiksguard Knights charge the Witch Elves and begin a long, slow grinding combat.
Doing their best to ignore the cowardice of their allies around them, the Empire Knights lowered their lances and charged into the Witch Elves accompanying the Cauldron of Blood. The army’s standard flew at their head and their captain roared encouragement as the charge crashed home. Another regiment of Knights, led by a bald-headed Warrior Priest bellowing something about Morr and death being good, charged into the Witch Elves to the other side of Erathi's own entourage.
The other Knights also charge. Without a Cauldron, this should be easier.

The charges of the heavy Empire Knights scythed in amongst both packs of Witch Elves, however they soon became mired in combat. The Elves were too fast to present an easy target for the cumbersome humans, but then the full plate armour was nigh on impenetrable for the poisoned knives of the Witches. The Assassin Tilek Backstabber suddenly emerged to confront the Warrior Priest, however his speed and skill were again countered by the armour and wards protecting the human zealot. In return, the Priest’s swings of his hammer were far too slow to catch the agile Assassin, who dodged them easily.
Ta da! The sneaky Assassin who betrayed my Dark Elf contingent appears in Tim's dastardly service, intent on under-performing for him instead of me.
Erathi is watching...
Fun as it was watching Tilek toy with the human hero, Erathi was ready to murder someone herself. She raised her blade overhead and charged into the flank of the Warrior Priest and his Knights, with the Witch Elves around her whooping and hissing as they leapt at the enemy. The Knights tried to fend off the assault as best they could, but their heavy armour was little protection against Erathi's own shining blade, which carved through breastplate and bone like they were paper. 
Things look grim for the Knights.
The Warrior Priest responded heroically to this change in fortunes. As his Knights fell around him, he started swinging his hammer with greater efficiency. With two savage blow he staggered and then smashed the dodging Assassin, pummelling him into the ground. He then roared his defiance as he found himself fighting on two fronts, completely alone. With a courage born of lunacy he fought on, raising his hammer overhead and issuing a challenge. Erathi graciously allowed the Hag next to her to accept the challenge, as she always did. She did not wish to deny her lesser the chance at glory, and it never hurt to thin the ranks of those who might be eyeing off her position.
Tim's habit of accepting challenges with each and every unit champion before using the super-killy blender special character leading his army is decidedly... Unheroic. Served him right when the Warrior Priest rolled double 1s and held for a round!
The duel was short. The Witch Elf threw herself at the Priest, her blades flashing before glancing off his armour, and then she was smashed back into her own regiment courtesy of a brutal hammer stroke to the chest. The human shouted triumphantly and whirled his hammer overhead, but his confidence faded as he looked around and actually seemed to realize his predicament for the first time. As Erathi herself stepped forward with her blood-soaked blade glowing hungrily, he suddenly heaved about on his horses’ reins and rode away as quickly as possible. Dozens of shrieking Witch Elves followed close behind.
I am ridiculously courageous! Actually on second thoughts, run for your lives!
The Reiksguard Knights are in danger of being surrounded.
The remaining Knight regiment was similarly outnumbered, however they fought with even greater determination than their brethren. The Cold One Knights and Harpies both charged in to assist the Witch Elves, but none of them could make much progress against the humans’ heavy plate armour. The struggle ebbed and flowed, the Harpies finally perished to the swords of the Knights, and the casualties on both sides mounted. Eventually disaster struck. The last of the regular Knights fell, leaving just the captain and army standard bearer remaining. 
Just 2 characters left, which means the Stubborn from the Reiksguard is gone, and the Executioners are now in place for the flank charge. This is not good.
As the enemy closed in the two heroes glanced at each other and seemed to reach an unspoken understanding. With terrible oaths of vengeance they spurred their horses in amongst the last of the Witch Elves, crushing them with their horses as they lashed about aggressively with no thought for defending themselves. This sudden shift was unexpected and the Witch Elves wavered in the face of the carnage before losing their nerve and breaking. The resulting confusion was too much for the dim-witted Cold Ones, and they too turned and fled with their riders powerless to stop them. The Empire heroes cried out triumphantly and chased down the fleeing Witch Elves, overturning the Cauldron of Blood in the chaos and spilling its contents of boiling blood all over its platform and the corpse-littered field around it.
Woo, a sudden change in fortunes as the Empire heroes fire up and do just enough damage to win a round, and everyone runs away!
The heroes gleefully run down the Witch Elves, overturn the Cauldron, and escape retribution from the Executioners. That was close...
As glorious as the unexpected success of the Empire heroes may have been, it went unnoticed by those on the other side of the field. The fleeing Warrior Priest eventually recovered his nerve and wheeled his horse about in time to face the tide of Witch Elves charging down the hill toward him. Holding his weapon aloft and calling upon the blessings of his god, he resolved to make up for his momentary lapse of courage and to fight till his last breath.
"You should not have come back..."
As Erathi bore down upon him, death in her eyes, he must surely have known that it wouldn't take long.

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