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Author Topic: Tilean Campaign, IC2401  (Read 69952 times)

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #525 on: December 21, 2019, 01:12:38 PM »
The writing is very good, and it leads one's eyes back to the pictures.  So why would I not ask about the finely sculpted and painted figures in them?  That is what happens when one writes along side their pictures!
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #526 on: December 21, 2019, 01:17:15 PM »
I know, GP, but it's the writing I agonise about getting right. Painting toy soldiers is just 3D colouring in! ;)
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Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #527 on: December 21, 2019, 01:30:58 PM »
If your writing wasn't as good as it is, and the pictures weren't so tied into your writing, then you'd be less entertaining. :icon_mrgreen: :icon_lol:
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #528 on: February 18, 2020, 09:49:54 AM »
Thanks GP
...............
By Your Leave
Before the Walls of Pavona, Winter IC 2403-4

“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 next post.

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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #529 on: February 18, 2020, 09:50:51 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.”
Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #530 on: February 18, 2020, 01:13:14 PM »
I like the mixture of colors on these figures, especially the gray and yellow! :icon_cool: :eusa_clap:
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

"... my old suggestion is forget it, take two aspirins and go paint" steveb

Online Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #531 on: February 18, 2020, 10:34:18 PM »
Excellent Padre. Not sure why you worry about the quality of writing. I read this like a novel and enjoy every chapter. 😸👍
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #532 on: March 04, 2020, 07:58:13 PM »
Thanks Artobahn. I may have finally lost all patience (not that I had much) with the Back Table, and so the good news is I should spend more of my free time writing campaign stories instead!

Here's the prequel story to the battle I am playing tomorrow evening!

.......

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.”
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Online Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #533 on: March 05, 2020, 10:21:23 PM »
Funny enough, I can’t wait to see the gobbo mercenaries in action. Great set up.
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #534 on: March 05, 2020, 10:35:29 PM »
And you will, for I just watched them do just that. Embarrassing, it was.
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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #535 on: March 14, 2020, 11:57:59 PM »
(I did this bat rep like a recent one, setting up pictures after the actual battle to look 'nicer', and writing a less detailed report which reads a bit more like a story than a report.)

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!
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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #536 on: March 19, 2020, 07:25:43 PM »
New Friends 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. They had apparently 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 likely 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 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 to make. 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.”

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Online Artobans Ghost

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #537 on: March 19, 2020, 07:39:43 PM »
I’m hooked. Love - love that rat!
That battle before was a great write up too.

More-more!! 🐀
Mathi Alfblut Feb 4,2017
Simple, You gut the bastard with your sword, the viking way.
Questions?

Mathi Alfblut Dec 9,2017
Get a binge of Yule ale, roasted boar and some proper axes and we will ALL be happy again!

GP Aug 8, 2019
Can we just take a hammer to it, smash it into little bits.

Offline GamesPoet

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #538 on: March 19, 2020, 07:48:01 PM »
Dealing with giant rats, eh?  The only good giant rat is a dead one. :icon_wink: :icon_lol:
"Not all who wander are lost ... " Tolkien

"The beauty of curiosity and creativity is so much more useful than the passion of fear." me

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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #539 on: March 19, 2020, 10:32:32 PM »
Dealing with giant rats, eh?  The only good giant rat is a painted one. :icon_wink: :icon_lol:
FTFY
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Offline Padre

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Re: Tilean Campaign, IC2401
« Reply #540 on: April 01, 2020, 09:03:04 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.”



Photobucket has now re-destroyed my pictures, so the first half of my collected works thread is no longer working again. To see my website version of the campaign thread, with fully functioning pictures, please go to https://bigsmallworlds.com/