The General Archive > The Battleground

Story and Illustrated Bat Rep

(1/2) > >>

I've posted this in another forum, but thought I'd put it here as some of you guys seemed to some of my previous efforts:

Three Hundred


Centuries ago, before the age of the Three Emperors, in the Imperial Year 1845 when Sylvania was still a part of the Empire and not all it’s rulers were (shall we say) ‘cold’, the Margrave Baltan chose to accept the blood kiss and become a vampire. His lust for prolonged life was so strong that he cared not that he would gain undeath rather than true life. When compared to just plain death, he didn’t consider the difference that important.

Once transformed into a vampire he continued his rule and most of his usual habits, though he now rode to hunt at night, a custom that proved most troublesome for his servants and huntsmen. After three decades the Margrave realised that none of his servants were the same, and that he seemed to have ‘misplaced’ his family. Those few servants who were there seemed terrified of him, so much so that they dare not even speak in his presence. He decided their company had grown tiresome.

He tried making less fearful servants by raising those who had already died to serve him in unlife, but this only seemed to cause even more turmoil in his household. So the Margrave created another vampire to be his companion – choosing the one young man in his castle who seemed unafraid of him. Yes, he thought, a companion would provide him with conversation and a hunting partner, which would make for better recreation all around.

But Jotuitso, the servant Baltan chose to join him in vampiric undeath, proved to be a somewhat troublesome and peremptory fellow. He seemed to assume that he shared equal rank with Baltan and could thus act with impunity. He also refused to partake of exactly the same pleasures that Baltan had grown accustomed to, and instead preferred to study and master the art of necromantic magic.

Quickly growing tired of his underling, Baltan had Jotuitso locked away in the lowest, darkest, dampest dungeon cell beneath his donjon. He would call on the young vampire, he decided, in another thirty years’ time to see if Jotuitso’s attitude had changed.

During the intervening time, Baltan summoned more and more of his deceased servants and guards to populate his court, and when they proved insufficient in numbers, he had the last living ones killed so that he could animate them into the kind of undead servitude he was coming to appreciate.

He rode his hunts with his old retainer knights, though now their bones could be seen through their ragged flesh, and their mounts could ride through the trees themselves. His hunting hounds no longer bayed in bloodlust, but ran in deathly silence. His men at arms shambled about their duties tirelessly, for they no longer needed sleep, nor wasted time with gambling or gossip. All such pastimes were, well, in the past for them.

Down in the deepest dungeon cell Jotuitso grew ever more furious about his imprisonment, until rage wracked his frame. In the 29th year, when he was so weak with lack of sustenance he could no longer stand, the rage finally faltered, and transformed into evil cunning. He decided he would make Baltan pay for what he had done to him. He brought to mind all that he had managed to learn of the art of necromancy, and while he did so, he picked with a talon-like nail at the base of one of the iron bars that imprisoned him. It took thirty weeks, but finally the bar came loose.

Then came Baltan to see if his progeny’s attitude had indeed changed. Jotuitso saw the Margrave looked just the same as always, wearing the same velvet clothes (though each part had been replaced half a dozen times, apart from the buttons). As Baltan lurched into the cell, the constant look of arrogance fixed as ever on his face, Jotuitso made his move before either had a chance to speak. In one swift, long-planned motion, he skewered the Margrave through the throat with the iron bar, as if it were a javelin handled nimbly by the best of ancient athletes. The bar went right through and out the other side, continuing on until it plunged into the stone of the wall behind.

When the guards drew swords to advance into the cell, Jotuitso simply closed the door then reached around to lock it and pull out the key. Unthinkingly, the guards thrust their blades through the bars, but they could not reach Jotuitso, who had retreated to the back of the cell and slumped down with the sheer exhaustion of such an act after three decades with no more sustenance than the occasional rodent and roach.

Hours past. The margrave could not speak nor escape. Jotuitso could not move nor care. The guards could not open the door. Then suddenly the margrave raised his arms and clutched the bar afore him, hoping to wrench the iron skewer out of the wall and thus free himself he began to pull with all his might. He groaned with the effort.

Jotuitso stirred and raised his head to see what had made the sound. He managed a weak smile when he saw his sire’s efforts, and spoke:

“I think not, my Lord. I have no intention of letting you leave this cell for some time.”

Baltan could only glare at Jotuitso, hatred pouring from his eyes, while the younger vampire slowly scrabbled back to his feet and staggered over to the one piece of ‘furniture’ in the room: a heavy seat of stone too big for any mortal man to lift. With thirty years of hatred to spur him on, Jotuitso lifted the stone to his chest and slowly turned to face the Margrave.

Baltan was making progress, for he could feel the bar wobbling – loosening itself from the wall behind. He closed his eyes for a moment to prepare himself for the final agonizing heave. When he opened them again, however, it was because he heard a strained cry. Jotuitso was hurtling (almost falling) towards him with the stone clutched before him.

The stone hit the bar square on and the force of it pushed it deeper into the rock, through the split that had already been made by the first blow, and which had been widened a little by Baltan’s efforts. Jotuitso felt the stone break in twain at the impact and let both fragments fall to the ground.

This time the younger vampire did not sit down to rest, but immediately picked up one of the fragments and used it to begin hammering the bar deeper into the rock. For thirty hours he hammered, finding the strength to continue so long by licking the Margrave’s spilt blood from the iron bar.

Then Jotuitso decided he had done enough. He let the stone drop again and stood before his Sire.

“Now, my lord, we shall see how you like it here. I am of a generous mind, so to make sure you come fully to appreciate this cell, I shall leave you here for thirty decades. You could tear your own head off, I suppose, and end the experience at any time. I care not. But if you choose not to do so, then I shall see you again when three hundred years have passed.”

Jotuitso then unlocked the door and, pushing the now only weakly animated skeletons aside (his mastery of necromancy a fair match for his sire’s) he strode out of the castle.

Time passed. More time passed. Even more … oh, fine … 270 years passed.

The Margrave had long since stopped thinking. He had not died, but he was as close to true death as anyone could possibly be without being actually dead. He had dreams occasionally, nightmares to him, in which he saw visions of Jotuitso’s rise. Thus he learned how the young vampire grew in power.

For ninety years Jotuitso lived in the Margrave’s castle and studied necromancy. Then for ninety years he served as a warrior for Vlad von Carstein, eventually leading an entire battalion of undead in the service of his master. When Vlad was finally slain, Jotuitso escaped. He went into the service of Konrad von Carstein, then happily swore fealty to Mannfred when Konrad perished. All the while he revelled in his freedom – the cell had left its mark on him.

Meanwhile, beneath the forgotten and rotten ruins of Baltan’s castle, in the lowest of the dungeon cells, stalagmites and stalactites were forming from the water dribbling down. And a certain iron bar was rusting. Until, in IC 2115, it broke quite suddenly, because it could no longer hold the weight of the bag of skin and bones that hung from it.

Baltan fell to the ground, the remains of the bar dislodged from his throat by the motion. One eye only moved, not one other part of his body, just one eye. The parchment like lid folded upwards to reveal the yellow, pus-filled eyeball beneath. And all it could see, lying there on the ground before it, was a rusted iron bar.

Thus began the first glimmer of the rage that would drive Margrave Baltan for thirty years. He made his way out of that cell inch by inch, and it took him 30 weeks to get to the ground above. There he tasted blood for the first time in centuries. It was enough to begin his re-invigoration. Slowly but surely, he regained his strength, but not (truly) what wits he had once had. In fact, as he recovered his physical vigour, his body twisted into a new form - more bestial, less human. His skin, for one, had changed hue. It was now the darkest of blues, as if the perpetual night of the cell for night upon three centuries had drained all light out of his skin and left it the colour of shadows. His nails grew talon like, and white horns grew from his spine to break through the skin of his back. His clothes had long since rotted away and it did not occur to him to seek new ones out.

He stayed at the castle, and as time went on he began to find he could summon his old servants once more – his faithful hunting hounds, his loyal knights, his men at arms. All were still there. He set about studies of the dark arts as never before, and found that he had a knack for such things he had been entirely unaware of whilst ‘unliving out’ his mortal passions for feasts and hunting.

Visitors came, and stayed, for they could see that this was an ancient vampire and that he had a purpose and a strength that they might do well in serving. Two vampires became Baltan’s lieutenants, one to lead his knights and the other to study necromancy at his side. Baltan even learned of the burial mound of an ancient warrior king close by the castle, so he and his apprentice raised up the wight and gifted it a banner to carry into battle.

Baltan still hunted, but there was a new ferociousness to his hunts. In the summer of the year IC 2145 men started to come to the land of Sylvania, outriders and scouts, soldiers and knights, an advancing army pushing Manfredd von Carstein’s hordes back. Some of these men wandered into the valley by Baltan’s castle, giving him the chance not only to test his army, but also to bolster the ranks with zombies.

Then suddenly he knew his old enemy was close. Three centuries had passed since he had last seen Jotuitso, and Baltan knew he was coming back as he had promised. Without a moment’s hesitation, he summoned his army and began marching - he would meet his treacherous servant in battle.

The battle (illustrated) to follow - a vampire vs. vampire battle, 2750 pts

The battlefield

Baron Jotuitso had been fighting now for more years than he could remember. Recently, the defeats were outnumbering the victories, and the retreats came more often than the advances. This last retreat, all the way back to Sylvania, did not bode well for the future of Manfredd von Carstein. The enemy’s numbers had more than doubled, and they were growing braver, more accustomed to facing the dead in battle. These were Jotuitso’s concerns as he marched his force according to his orders.

Then, quite suddenly, the sight of a leafless tree sparked a memory into life and brought it into his brooding consciousness. The tree reminded him of the huge dead tree that sat at the end of the valley which led to the Margrave Baltan’s keep. This thought in turn made him think upon the date, and he realised that the three hundred years had passed. He decided there and then he would take a detour – let Manfredd look to his other lieutenants for a while, Jotuitso would visit Baltan as he promised all those years ago.

Jotuitso’s army was not at its strongest, but it was still a force to be reckoned with. A company of brother vampires, Blood Knights no less, served as his private guard, and a Wight King carried his banner. A regiment of veteran Grave Guard made up the very heart of the army, having been with Jotuitso from the start. Skeleton warriors and ghouls added to the line of battle. These foot soldiers were commanded on the field by two lesser vampires.

A vicious Varghulf had joined the force of its own accord, and Jotuitso was glad to have the beast. Dire wolves, always bloodied and foul, ran alongside his column. A corpse cart lent a dreadful invigoration to the army as it marched, and a small horde of zombies shambled as best they could to keep up. Each of these recently deceased soldiers had once been an enemy, and although they now fought with considerably less dexterity and skill in arms, they could prove useful in battle at times.

This was the force that the Baron turned towards Baltan’s home.

To the south, making its way towards the tree at the northern mouth of the valley, came Baltan’s force. It was the shadow of his household force as living Sylvanian noble, but no less deadly for it. His more noble retainers were mounted upon their steeds, his men at arms formed a guard even now, and his able bodied vassals (as were) had regimented themselves into two companies of Skeletons. A pair of Corpse Carts rattled along, both being the animated remains of chariots that were ancient relics even when Baltan lived. One was heaped with the skulls of fallen foes who had been buried with the Wight King now leading one of Baltan’s horse regiments. The recently dead men of the Empire staggered out upon the right flank, while two bands of dire wolves acted like outriders for the force. Huge fell bats came from the mountain-tops and flew overhead, brought thither by Baltan’s will as well as their own undying urge to kill!

Baltan joined one of his regiments of skeletons, whilst his apprentice joined the other. His vampire servant donned full armour and put himself at the head of the second band of Black Knights.

By midnight, beneath a full and bright moon, the armies met. Baltan wasted no time and began summoning more skeleton warriors to bolster his regiments – he had known all along this would be easy here at the sight of several ancient battles. All told a dozen more warriors joined the ranks.

Meanwhile the force moved into a battle line and advanced. Upon the left the vampire knight urged his Black Knights cautiously on, while the Corpse Cart trundled as fast as it could to keep up and the right most Dire Wolves loped through the ruins in an attempt to outflank the foe.

In the centre the Wight King led his Black Knights right through a great rock to appear upon the other side. The Grave Guard advanced as fast as they could to support the Knights. Baltan and his apprentice held back, they wanted their own regiments to swell further before they committed them to battle.

As Baltan’s force moved cautiously, Jotuitso’s army made quicker progress. Far more experienced in war, Jotuitso knew not to tarry hesitantly, but the decide where to strike and waste no time in doing. He did not intend to lose the initiative in this fight. All his foot soldiers advanced, though he allowed his zombies to move a little further than the rest for he had cunning in mind.

His Varghulf fair leaped forwards, to catch up with and join the body of Dire Wolves upon the left flank. This was a trick it had tried before, and not one that the Margrave Baltan could foresee for he had never faced such a beast in battle nor even seen one before!

Jotuitso’s only cautious move was that of the very heart of his army, the Blood Knights. These, along with his standard bearer and himself, lingered in the rear – for he had a mind to see what his foe would do next before he committed his most valuable troops.

Baltan, with little more than a thought, willed his Wight King to charge the Black Knights on the right into the Varghulf and the Wolves. None in his force understood what the Varghulf was capable of.

The Wolves and Fell Bats near those Knights moved further forwards in their continued attempt to outflank the foe, while the rest of Baltan’s line simply re-jigged a little. He could not help himself – he wanted to see how his brave knights fared, an urge which left him less focused on the rest of his force. It didn’t stop him muttering incantations, and he managed to summon twelve more Skeleton Warriors to join the mass of fighters in the centre of his line.

The knights did well, considering, killing four Wolves. The Varghulf could only kill one of them in return (the Wight King amongst them cursed as he fought a challenge with a Doom Wolf, for he had wanted to bring his Black Axe of Krell down on the Varghulf’s skull). Still, a good blow had been struck, and the remaining Wolved crumbled into dust as the magic binding them weakened. But the Varghulf remained, only slightly harmed. And the Blood Knights were in position to join the fight with a charge of their own.

When they came, it was only because the Varghulf stood in the way of some of them that the Black Knights stood their ground, but this (somehow) is what they did.

Baltan grinned. He was beginning to like his chances against his supposedly battle hardened progeny. He might indeed make the insolent, traitorous dog pay for his deed.

Out on Baltan’s far left his Dire Wolves now charged Jotuitso’s Corpse Cart (for want of any other viable target) and through sheer strength in numbers managed to hold their own against it. The other Dire Wolves, on the far right flank, moved to just behind the Blood Knights to be joined by the Fell Bats. From here they might distract, harry or hinder several possible of the enemy’s units.

Perhaps Baltan’s confidence swelled a little too much, for it was now that he fumbled the simple spell to summon zombies and in so doing addled his mind in such a way that the spell was lost to him. Reeling a little in confusion, he failed at first to notice the battle beginning to turn against him.

Of course now the inevitable happened and the Blood Knights, Vampire Lord and Varghulf slew the remaining Black Knights afore them with ease. This done, their frenzy unabated, they threw themselves into the mass of zombies ahead of them (now swollen to over forty in number and began the messy work of butchery required to tear the heaving mass apart.

They killed eighteen, and through the strength of this assault, weakened the magic holding the zombies together so that another fifteen fell. This done, they paused for the merest of moments, only to see that their work was not yet complete. There were still zombies there! If the Blood Knights hadn’t have been frenzied they would probably have found such combat tiresome.

The rest of Jotuitso’s force advanced, as he now decided to bring the central zombies and ghouls into play. as they did so, Jotuitso and his vampires prepared to summon more zombies to swell the ranks of their most forward regiment.

Baltan, still trying to recover from his miscast, tried as best he could to gain the initiative. He willed his Fell Bats to fall onto the Skeletons’ rear whilst he successfully wielded Vanhel’s Dance Macabre to throw his Grave Guard into the same skeleton’s front. This would prove to be a tactical mistake, for the Fell Bats ultimately only gifted the enemy with a chance to inflict more wounds back and thus swing the combat back in their favour.

The last free company of Dire Wolves now attempted to slow the Varghulf, and hurled into its side hoping at best to force it to turn its attention away from the main conflict in the centre of the field. The rest of Baltan’s army shambled forwards as Baltan himself crept away from the front rank of his skeleton warriors and made his way to the rear. He needed a moment, time to think, to recover his wits and hopefully gain mastery on the field.

The four Fell Bats could do nothing against the armoured skeletons’ rear, but the Grave Guard did somewhat better at their front and slew enough to make another four of the foe crumble. But this was not enough: not for the last time a kind of deadlock was reached, one which the two foes should have foreseen, as massed undead and massed undead fought round and round against each other, slowly diminishing whilst neither gained the advantage. The Wolves did defeat the Corpse Cart, but there seemed little opportunity that they might find any other way to contribute to the battle.

Now Jotuitso’s own horde of zombies swarmed around the great, dead tree and poured onto the skeletons led by Baltan’s vampire apprentice. Luckily for her, the press of battle meant that the shambling horde could not quite engage with her and she continued to wield her petty necromantic magics without too much hindrance. Nevertheless some of the zombies became entangled with the fight going on their immediate left and the centre of the field turned into one huge combat.

Meanwhile the Blood Knights (having already torn apart the remaining zombies) moved to threaten the Baltan’s right flank. Jotuitso could make out his old master cowering behind his regimented skeletons and began to laugh maniacally. It was a sound his Blood Knights had heard many a time before.

Baltan was getting desperate. He could see that is adversary was getting closer to him, and in that moment he realised he had played the wrong game with Jotuitso. His progeny simply knew a lot more about the art of war than him, and the ancient Margrave was losing his grip on this fight. Once again, all he could think to do was buy himself some time. Perhaps he could strike at his foe using magic? Or perhaps Jotuitso would become over-confidant, over-reach himself or in some other way make a mistake?

On the flank of Baltan’s skeleton regiment, one of his skeleton warriors turned away from the fighting momentarily to look at Jotuitso moving up on the right. The weakest of thoughts drifted somewhere in the back of what was left of the warrior’s mind – something like, “I know that man,” but altogether less coherent.

(Author’s note: I just love the fact that one skeleton in this photo seems to be distracted by something off to the side!)

All that Baltan could think to do, beyond using magic to restore some of his regiments’ lost strength and magically dancing the second regiment of Skeletons into the ghouls, was to command his Corpse Cart to move right up to the Blood Knights and Jotuitso. Of course it could not possibly harm them, but they would be forced to charge it through their insatiable bloodlust, and once again would thus be drawn off away from what they really wanted to charge (Baltan himself).

The Margrave did also manage to unleash a weak curse against Jotuitso’s troop, slightly wounding the younger Vampire Lord. To be honest, however, Jotuitso hardly noticed. Baltan’s Vampire servant led the Black Knights on the left in a bold charge against the Grave Guard, but it proved to be an act of folly. Within mere moments, the Black Knights and their Vampire leader were all gone. Jotuitso’s vampire lieutenant, in the Grave Guard’s front rank, let out a shrill battle cry and waved his bloodied swords in the air in exultation.

In the centre of the field it was as if the battle had ground to a halt. Yes, there was plenty of fighting - sword clashing against sword, shields smote in two, limbs severed in brutal blows - but such were the numbers that neither side could gain the upper hand. The Grave Guard charged Baltan’s second Corpse Cart for want of anything else to do, while Baltan ran even further to the rear still wracking his brains for what he could do next.

The Blood Knights and Grave Guard simultaneously slew the ragged carts facing them, with the Blood Knights overrunning far enough to make it impossible for them to charge anyone else. Baltan now realised that he was somewhat closer to the Blood Knights than anyone else in his army, and for the first time, actual fear gripped his wicked soul. Brushing such emotion aside with anger, he made a resolution. He might not win this fight but he would survive, and then he would find another way to exact revenge on the Baron. Having decided this, he turned and ran back amongst the fighting regiments massed in the centre of the field. Stopping for only a moment, he turned and looked back at Jotuitso one last time. He saw how the Baron was struggling to turn his Blood Knights and get them back into the fight now that their momentum had carried them a little too far.

Once Baltan had satisfied himself that Jotuitso would not be able to follow him, he turned back and looked carefully at what lay before him – he knew he must run through the chaotic melee, losing himself in the confusion, come out the other side and thus escape the field.

In the midst of the massive melee one of Baltan’s Grave Guards slew Jotuitso’s vampire servant leading the skeletons, while the Varghulf hurled itself into the fight once more, having no distractions to get in his way. But Baltan cared not. The battle was lost and he knew it. All that was left for him to do was to escape unseen. Bracing himself, and right glad that he had brought he Talisman of the Lycni with him, he leapt into the throng to begin his dash for escape.

(Result: 1009 VP to Jotuitso, Solid Victory. BUT … Baltan is still alive! Erm, I mean undead.)

Von Kurst:
Hey Padre,
Great story and battle report!  Love the effort and skill that you put into them. The Varghulf thing...I'm glad you can get on with the game, I tend to have issues with the I saw them do this in WD or whatever... So nowadays I'm playing with my A3 Arabs and I'm the one doing the explaining.  "Really the War Elephant is St 7 on the charge..."



Another cracking battle report Padre - thanks for taking the time to share them with us .


Look forward to seeing more .

dude that was excellent! :happy:


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version