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8th Ed, Holy War

Discussion in 'Legacies of Blood' started by padrissimus, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    If it can be of some consolation, I've noticed this thread only today, tnx to the recent replies.

    Man, the amount of work you've put in it is staggering. It's a truly amazing story (we're well beyond the simple "BatRep"), filled by your passion for this world... It will take some day to enjoy the reading, 'cause I want to take my time.
     
  2. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    Thanks both Medmos and Unas the Slayer. Your words, even if Medmos pointed out the post-apocalyptic slow death the Olde World setting is going through, are inspiring, and have re-charged my creativity batteries.

    You are correct, Unas, in recognising the amount of work. It was a silly amount of researching, drafting, ordering, modelling, painting, writing, photographing, editing photos, uploading, re-writing, etc, just to do that last piece. And even then the photos came out a bit 'same-ey' (partly deliberate) so it wasn't fully what I was hoping for. But, as it is a hobby, a pastime to remove me from the RW for a while, I reckon I ought to jump right in and go for it! And the actual full campaign thread has plenty of other (non-undead) stories even in between the ones posted above in this thread.

    I have now managed (after several weeks' pushing, but not too hard as I wanted time to do some stories first) to extract campaign orders from my 6 players. Some are partial, but I have enough to go on. So in the next few days I will be in the entirely private world of secret GM maps and rolling dice for campaign events etc and what not. Another kind of fun, just even lonelier. I am praying earnestly for a battle, hopefully another big one, soon.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2017
  3. MedMos

    MedMos Zombie

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    Maybe I already mentioned it earlier, but your use of pictures is nothing short of excellent! The setup alone must be a lot of work, but they add so much character to the characters and life to the story. I just finished the latest installments, and they do indeed go well beyond batreps (especially since there was no battle fought ;)).
     
  4. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    Well, there's no turning back: the Old World has been discontinued, so it's a dead end. Or we can consider it a sort of parallel universe, where fluff can still evolve in an unofficial manner: after all, armies like chaos dwarfs were already OOP, and still there were players that loved that army and were keeping alive the fluff, developing stories, legends, backgrounds...



    That said, I've just finished to read the Prequel: The Battle for Ebino.
    Holy Morr, what a story! :bowdown:
    First of all, the intro is a truly evocative reading, it really gives the sense of the incoming battle, the anticipation of the fight, the lives at stake; the particulars of the defenses still to be completed, add a nice touch of realism.
    I also really love the names, it creates that feeling of italian renaissance.

    The hints are intriguing: is the dream of Biagino a premonitory dream? do you wrote it after the battle, already knowing the outcome, or was a shot in the dark?
    And finally, the photos are simply great. I don't even want to think to the time you spent to set those dioramas, but it's the first time I see something similar, of such a high quality. Everything matches the descriptions, so the writing and the visual media produce an affect of almost total immersion into the story, to the point that the close-ups to the models, gives a sensation of them being alive, with real expressions (certainly it's my mind that tricks me, into seeing the emotions I've just read about). I love also your use of the out-of-focus effects: those flagellants are running for real!

    In the end, this intro leaves me on the edge of my seat, hungry for more.

    I plan to read all your reports once at a time, leaving a comment for each one. :D
     
  5. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    Thanks MedMos and Unas.

    @MedMos : The setting up for photos does take some time, as does editing them afterwards, but the modelling, painting and writing takes up much more. These stories here are only a tiny part of the campaign record. The full story starts here: http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.0.html

    @Unas the slayer: The story nearly always arises, either directly or indirectly, from the players' actions. In this case the incomplete defences were due to the fact that the Reman player (with the specific role of the arch-lector Calictus II) had ordered a fortified camp set up while the steam tank was turned into a huge mobile ramp, and a massive petard was built, and the magically powerful anti-undead prayers could begin around the carroccio. The player's hand was forced as he had entirely insufficient artillery to assault Ebino. I think he imagined the undead would always meet him in the field. Meanwhile the undead player, being the duchess Maria, had ordered that the bulk of his forces should hide away out of view (quite easy to do when you're undead - no need for fires for cooking or keeping warm) until a batch of reinforcment's arrived from Miragliano, approaching from the wrong side of the river and thus out of sight of the enemy. As soon as the reinforcements arrived, and the vampire Lord Adolfo had returned from a sneaky scouting trip to the enemy camp and seen their preparations, even feeling the growing strength of the prayer-spell to Morr, the undead player immediately ordered a sally out in force before the enemy could finish any of its preparations. The rules for the prayers were thus weaker than they would have been a turn later, the petard (which I had begun modelling) was incomplete and so wasn't in the battle, and de Leoni's steam tank was unarmed and bearing an incomplete platform. (I'll copy a section which explained some of this game background below.)

    The premonitory nature of Biagino's dreams was a gamble, but a safe one. Either the battle was won but the war against the undead continued, with nightmarish events yet to come, or Biagino would be hurt, and again nightmares ensue. It turns out to be quite easy to write subsequent pieces in such a way as to make out the previous stories had precognitive elements!

    BTW The Battle of Pontremola, mentioned in the prequel piece, is also on this forum. No-one ever commented on it, but I had supposed that was because the undead lost and the Holy Army of Morr was of a campaign list composition and thus looked odd. There was also a remarkable stroke of luck by the 'good' guys, the sort of thing that happens every now and again in wargaming. It might make an interesting reading as a pre-prequel! See http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/campaign-battle-incl-photos-background.29241/. (You'll note that I hadn't yet hit upon the idea of hiding the figures' bases with flock. It just didn't seem important then!)

    The pictures match because of the following writing sequence - I plot the basic outline, then take pictures, then I write the actual story with the pictures in front of me. Battle Reports I just take loads of pictures and hope enough come out, although sometimes the Bat Rep focuses on an unusual part of the battle, simply becuase I have pictures of that part!

    Meanwhile, re: campaign play. This was written before I wrote the Bat Rep ...
    Appendix to the prequel

    This is to reveal some of the activities and preparation involved to create the prequel. The battle has already been fought (thanks Daz and Uryens for your time and enthusiasm), and I am now in the process of sorting all the photos and writing up the report, although I have to admit I am almost certainly going to put another prequel up before I get to the battle. There’s more story to be told before the fighting begins. I might, however, incorporate that second prequel into the bat rep.

    First, it might interest some of you to see what sort of game communication passes between me and the players of the campaign. It is from this, a combination of my acting as a GM and playing the parts of all the NPCS, and the players controlling their player characters’ actions and words, that the story evolves and the campaign progresses. When I write I feel like I am reporting events that have happened, rather than writing a story.

    A (shortened) sequence of communications between myself and the player controlling the arch-lector (and Remas)
    (NB: There are reasons why I can now reveal some back-stage stuff anout this particular player-character).


    … Various other communications followed, clarifying actual plans, including …

    … and so the communication went on.

    The Undead player was more brief, and basically asked if he could hide his true strength from the foe, to which part of my answer was:
    Thus, after consulting the campaign scouting rules, factoring in ... well, the factors ... and making a few dice rolls, the resulting correction from the Reman scouts to tell the arch lector that there was only about 1000 points defending the city.

    As a result of all this, and in preparation for the game, I set about altering and scratch-building models:

    The petard, pushed (of course) by fanatics (which won't be used after all in the battle!):
    [​IMG]

    And the beginnings of the platform (the fact that I have not modelled the completed version is a clue to what is coming next in the story!):
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    And of course, I set up the dioramas for the above prequel. Here is the set up for photos in the second part:
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    This shows merely some of what goes on behind the story!
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  6. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    Oh, my... lots of stuff to read.

    But for now, I'm going with this one, so I'll leave the prequel for the future (kinda weird, I know).

    So, let's talk about The Battle for Ebino, Part One

    Cool, things are going to roll... but there's something that perplexes me:

    Holy Army of Morr @ 4854 pts
    The Undead Army @ 4320 pts total

    There are more than 500 pts in difference between the two, more than a 10% in points, wich is not a small difference, plus the holy army will receive also 6d6 flagellants for free.
    Why this? is it justified by an "in-game" fluff, as developed by players?
     
  7. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    Ha ha! Yeah, it is a lot to read! There are even more pre-prequels also (!!) like the Assault on Viadaza (at http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/photo-story-battle-report-assault-on-viadaza.29588/). This project is big.

    Re: Your questions about The Battle for Ebino, Part One

    The armies are unbalanced due to the nature of the campaign. Players have to recruit their forces, and pay upkeep too (the specific rules modified for different 'races' like undead). They have an overall realm army, which has to be balanced according to army composition rules, but they can split it up into marching (or scouting or garrison) banners, requiring baggage etc. Casualties on the field are lost or recovered according to the campaign rules, which vary according to whether or not the army won, drew or lost (as well as due to story factors or events upon the field). The end result is great variety in the strength of campaign forces, and battles are very rarely balanced. Some players ally with others to boost numbers, others hire mercenaries (whether or not they pay them is a different matter). It is a 'realistic' campaign in that sense. Players thus ave to approach the campaign strategically and politically rather than just as a tactical tabletop exercise.

    Other things you spotted, like the 6D6 flagellants, are either due to campaign rules, or my GamesMaster decisions (based on players' orders, actions, payments, etc., as well as NPC influences) The Holy army of Morr was meant to have attracted a large following of cultists, and as such they didn't have to be hired, recruited, pressed or enlisted like more ordinary soldiers. The player did choose to have his own character (the arch lector Calictus) travel with the army himself, thus putting himself in danger, but also inspiring more religious fervour and 'volunteers'.

    Like in a roleplaying game, the players are actually playing one character - usually the ruler or their nation. Everyone else, even (technically) their own subjects and soldiers, are NPCs! One player has his real life 10 year old son playing his character's son! The boy has to make decisions in the campaign, but doesn't actually play the wargames as he is too young to do so. Obviously, however, the player usually has command of their own forces on the tabletop, although for various RL reasons it is sometimes another player standing in and promising to 'do their best'! As GM I usually act as a referee, take photos, and scribble pencil notes as the battle proceeds (to write into the story-style bat rep later), sometimes - if I can't get a player to command and NPC force, I even get to play! I also provide all of the scenery and the NPC armies, even some of the players' armies.

    The campaign is very much an amalgamation of every bit of hobby I have been doing since 1983 - RP, WG, painting, modelling, scenery making, writing, photographing, etc. This means its as much a roleplaying game as a wargames campaign, which join together to create unfolding events for me to turn into a story.
     
  8. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    ohohoh! I've found someone older... err... more experienced than me! xD
    I began playing D&D back in 1988, so it's almost 30 yrs of gaming hobby.

    And I have to say that the idea and the concept of this "roleplaying-wargaming campaign", is a great one, and I really like it. It's also nice the fact that the decisions of the players can lead to unbalanced battles (RL armies don't fight on equal chances!)
     
  9. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    And now, it's time for The Battle for Ebino, Part Two

    Cool set-up!
    The detailed pictures with notes makes it easy to follow the grand picture, but, as always, the best thing are the descriptive parts, that gives the right general mood.
    I especially enjoy the shock and awe that the sight of the undead army raises in the hearts of the living men, an aspect too often forgotten when we just play the "wargame" part.
    The best parts, imo, are the terrorgheist ("the echo of a cry from some hellish realm beyond the seam, twisted then amplified as it found its way into the mortal world", it's almost poetry) and the vivid description of the mortis engine.
     
  10. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    The Battle for Ebino, Part Three

    CHARGE!!!
    Finally, the fight begins.
    the terrorgheis put itself at risk, without any gain for the death shriek...
    and the first strike by Morr's army was a stunning blow. THe TG survived by mere luck (it couls have been a truly hard blow to lose the beast since the beginning), but nonetheless, the casualties upon skellies and (most of all) Grave Guards for the charge were staggering. And 30 extra casualties for combat res is no joke.

    I was surprised too, when i saw so many raised models. If I'm counting right, it's 11 GG, 14 skellies just in a single unit and then the other one...

    Was that charge, the high water mark for the holy army? :perv:
     
  11. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    Thanks again, Unas, and muchly so. You're right that 'fear' and 'terror' should mean something in terms of the story beyond some die rolls in the game. And thanks for saying some of my stuff is almost like poetry - I am no poet, but I do enjoy playing about with language in the stories and wondered if folk enjoyed reading such attempts at flowery vividness.

    I remember something I was going to write about the imbalance of the armies' points values. The smaller points army (VC) is a top-notch, game effective army the player has honed his use and understanding of. The Holy Army of Morr, however, although it has the greater points, is a right mish-mash of old-campaign rules lists (the army Condottieri list from the Treachery and Greed campaign, an arab army list drawing from several sources, and some home-ruled Morrite aspects). Also, it wasn't put together at all with game-play in kind, but rather with what was available in my collection, and because it suited the game-world. Then it was further botched by the player being a bit careless about which parts of the army stayed home, which parts went off back home, and which parts stayed with the arch-lector when the arabyan mercenaries showed up. Thus more points, but not a competitive composition at all.

    The effects of the initial charge had us all impressed, but then when we saw the numbers of resurrected undead suddenly the game took on a horribly predictable tone.

    All of this makes the campaign seem a bit unfairly biased towards the undead player. But it isn't really. That player is the only truly 'evil' character in the campaign - one other is ogres and the other four are all human (Empire or Tilean campaign list). In initially mapping the campaign I put the ogre and the vampire character in the north as it would be unfair to plonk them right in the middle of four natural enemies, surrounded on all sides. The VMC player (in the far south in Alcente) had Khurnag's Waagh (several NPC goblin and orc forces) to keep him busy for some time, meanwhile the Pavonan player started right from the off conquering his NPC neighbours' realms. Some players, like the Portomaggiore Lord Alessio Falconi were pretty inactive for a long time, although he did hire and send off forces elsewhere, and was fully 'in the game'. We lost the Reman player early on (other committments) but an old friend joined in and became the arch lector (thus the hand-over of power from the Overlord Matuzzi to the leader of the Church of Morr). I'm babbling now - suffice to say there were balances in the game, but they were subtle, and involved position, resources, geography, initial realm size, etc etc.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  12. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

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    The Battle - Part Four

    Let me say that the ending of the battle was epic. An epic doomsday, but hey. xD

    "horribly" is the word. A macabre feast...

    It was truly enjoyable nonetheless... the first units fleeing, then the crumle of all the line, as a collapsed dam. It gives a sense of reality.

    Makes sense. "Optimized" armies, are more efficient than larger ones that are not at their top (there is of course a limit to this. quantity has a quality all its own.)

    Now, a question arises: it seems to me that not all the fleeings were caused by in-game mechanics. I don't know if it was due to your vivid description, or if it was something different: there were mercenary forces: were they commanded by a third player? in this case, it would make sense that the player wanted to disengage his precious troops, to save them for future battles.

    All this political scheming matches perfectly the tone of the campaign. Kudos to you and your players!
     
  13. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    You are, Unas, very insightful in your assessment of what happened. The arch-lector of Morr was the one player who is unable to attend games (being a doctor 300+ miles away from me and far too busy to boot) so I asked the VMC player to 'stand in' as commander of the Holy army, allowing me to GM and take photos. I instructed the stand-in player that his aim was to play to win, and because he is a roleplayer of 30 years experience, and even in the game had no reason to want the undead to win, he did the best he could. When it was patently obvious he was going to lose, however, he admitted that the arch-lector would likely be at a loss as to what to do, but would eventually realise his only options were to die or flee. He did attempt to flee, but waited a little too long. We have campaign rules re: retreating from a battle, and as GM I pointed out that the arabyan mercenary commander, Gedik, would definitely want to quit the field with as many of his men as he could. Gedik does indeed still have half his force.
     
    Unas the slayer likes this.
  14. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

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    By Order of the Praepositus Generalis
    The City of Remas, Spring IC 2403
    At the ruins of Tragustan’s Forum


    [​IMG]

    Brother Vincenzo, Admonitor of the Disciplinati di Morr and thus Father Carradalio’s right-hand man, stood motionless as three more dedicants approached the ruins. He carried his staff of office, the brass top containing the holy relic of Saint Albudin’s upper teeth, while at his side hung a flask of thrice blessed water from the sacred spring at Tabbinu, a potent ward against vampires, the mere touch of which would burn and blister their skin more horribly than aqua fortis would mortal flesh. His many layered robes were voluminous, the sleeves so wide they hung to his knees, his heavy woollen hood almost entirely obscuring his eyes.

    His guards, posted in a circle about him, gave the newcomers no heed, instead continuing to peer purposefully out into the surrounding woods whilst clutching their spears or polearms. This was just one of several such visiting groups that day, neither the first nor the last, and like all the others they were attired in the grey and red robes favoured by the dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr. In such circumstances, the guards’ inattentiveness was understandable, but it now occurred to Vincenzo it might well prove dangerous. For all anyone knew, these three could be assassins in disguise – a sinister possibility made no less likely by the fact that two of them wore the full hoods so common amongst dedicants.

    As they drew close, Vincenzo focused on the one face he could see, for the man wore nothing but a large zucchetto cap upon his head, and was pleased to discover it was Brother Gaspare. Further reassurance was provided by the fact Gaspare carried a sword, his left hand clutching the pommel, which would be odd indeed if he were an unwilling captive being used by the others to gain proximity. Nevertheless, now was not the time to make assumptions. This was a day of many murders and multiple treacheries across the length and breadth of the city. Success required calculated risks, not unnecessary ones.

    “Halt,” he ordered while they were still ten yards away. “Speak.”

    [​IMG]

    It was Gaspare who replied. “By your leave, Brother Vincenzo, we have come to report the southern quarter is almost completely taken. Only a handful of dwellings remain barricaded against us, none of any significance, and their defiance cannot last.”

    “Praise be to Morr!” prayed Vincenzo. “So the palazzos are already taken? Both Capistrano and Ordini?”

    “Aye, brother, both of them. Some Capistrani bravi made a stand on the Ponte Sistotti, having lit a great fire on the Ponte Ruptus to ensure none could pass there instead. They were not many, but Marshal Raimondo and the Brothers of Righteous Pain* didn’t even stop to count them before charging the bridge.”

    [​IMG]

    “Once those few were slain, those beyond the bridge lay down their arms, protesting they never wished to fight, only those fools already dead. The palazzo gates lay open, and Roberto Capistrani led prayers of thanks that we had so righteously corrected the rebellious bravi serving his foolish nephew on the bridge.”

    “Still, he was taken prisoner, yes?”

    “Of course.”

    “And his nephew?” enquired Vincenzo.

    “Either fled or hiding. Marshal Raimondo is searching for him now. If he is in the palazzo he will be found.”

    Vincenzo was surprised at this news. He had expected considerable resistance from such a family as the Capistrano – the Reman nobilities’ long and bloody history of time-honoured hatreds had spurred many a clash of arms between them, even full blown sieges. The duels, disputes and disagreements between their petty armies of bravi could turn a street red, and their pride was famously obdurate. Perhaps the ease of victory was Morr’s work? Perhaps the bravi recognised the holy origins of the dedicati’s fervour, and their fear of Morr proved greater than their pride?

    “What of the Ordini family?” asked Vincenzo.

    “I myself witnessed what happened there,” said Brother Gaspare. “We approached their palazzo at the very same moment Brother Raimondo charged the Capistrano’s bridge. The Ordini’s men came out, armed and armoured, to meet us. No doubt they had already had word concerning what happened at the western Palazzos and knew full well we did not have gentle intentions.”

    “They came out to fight?” interrupted Vincenzo. “Why would they do so?”

    “I believe they thought a simple show of strength and the spillage of blood would send us running. We had crossbows, but such was the spirit filling us that several brothers dashed forwards to fight before any bolts could be released.”

    [​IMG]

    “One of their captains ran at Brother Damiano, a furious madness in his eyes, but Damiano simply waited, his axe raised …

    [​IMG]

    “The captain lost his head when the cut was made. The others faltered, but not our brothers. Half the bravi were killed before another captain, maybe one of Galdio Ordini’s sons, ordered their retreat.”

    [​IMG]

    “Such was our fury that before they reached the gate a further half of those left were slain. They could not hold the gate against us long enough to close it, and we took the palace easily. What few survived are now being held, as are the servants and a number of the family. Old Galdeo was not there, nor his sons.”

    “You said one of his sons was in the street.”

    “Possibly, brother. But that man could not be found either.”

    Brother Vincenzo remembered Father Carradalio’s words: “Divide and rule – that’s the way. We must first foster the factions’ mutual distrusts, fan their rivalries and then, when the attack is made and most important of all, ensure they don’t have time to coordinate anyway. By the time they realise the danger they are in, it will be too late to unite into any sort of effective opposition.” Surely, thought Vincenzo, one or two escaped nobles could not present any sort of real threat later on? Besides, the noble factions were not the greatest threat to the Disciplinati di Morr’s capture of the city.

    “And the arch lector’s guard?” Vincenzo asked. “Did they not interfere?”

    It was one of the hooded dedicants who spoke, his voice somewhat muffled as a consequence.

    “We dealt with them before the attacks were begun. Father Gabrielle and myself met Captain Vogel in the first hour of daylight, in the gardens behind the Palazzo Montini. The captain said he knew what must be done, pledging himself a true servant of Morr, and agreed to Father Carrradalio’s terms.”

    “All of them?”

    “Aye, brother, but he demanded a particular concession.”

    [​IMG]

    Captain Luppolt Vogel was a mercenary from Nuln, a swaggering bravado who instilled complete loyalty in his men. That, and the fact that all were veterans skilled in the martial arts, was what made the arch-lector’s palace guard dangerous, not their numbers, for they were little more than a hundred strong. If the captain had chosen to oppose the Disciplinati’s work that day he could not have prevented their victory, but a lot more dedicants would lie dead by nightfall. Vincenzo was glad to hear that the captain was enlightened enough to recognise, and accept, Morr’s proper and necessary supremacy.

    Father Carradalio had ordered that an offer of promotion should be made, making Captain Vogel commander of the entire Reman garrison, and that he be permitted to enlarge his personal company to at least double its current size. In return, the captain was to promise not to interfere with the day’s events, nor to assist any faction or individual opposed to the Disciplinati’s coup. Vincenzo had not expected the captain to ask for anything else.

    “What concession?” asked Vincenzo.

    “That he and his soldiers be allowed to protect the lectors from harm. When Father Gabrielle objected, saying that agreeing to such would allow the lectors to act against us, Vogel denied that was so. He said protecting them from harm did not mean permitting their communication with the city’s nobility and other factions.”

    Hidden by the shadow of his heavy hood …

    [​IMG]
    ... Brother Vincenzo raised his eyebrows. “So the captain’s idea of protection is to keep them prisoner?” he asked.

    “After a fashion. He even suggested that their ‘protection’ would increase if the lectors expressed any opposition to Father Carradalio, in this way preventing them from taking any action that might lead to their own harm.”

    The mercenary obviously took his contractual vows seriously, thought Vincenzo, even if he had found a convenient way to follow them by the letter rather than by the spirit. He decided that was something to keep in mind during all future dealings with the man.

    [​IMG]

    So far, so good, thought Vincenzo. Every report, and almost all had now come in, was of success. There had been a high cost in lives, including many a dedicant lost to the holy cause, but the city was almost wholly under Father Carradalio’s control. By midnight the task would be all but complete, so that as the Morrite lectors met the next day to cast their votes for the new arch-lector, they would surely be forced to choose Father Carradalio. To do otherwise would be to fly in the face of common sense, for Father Carradalio, Praepositus Generalis of the Disciplinati di Morr, would control the entire city. He would not be merely the strongest power in Remas, he would be the only power. Once he also had the arch-lectorship then his most holy and enlightened rule would be complete.

    With luck it would happen just in the nick of time, for umpteen forces loomed outside the city walls, threatening at the least to upset the ascendancy of Morr’s true church, and at the most to destroy the city completely. Any one of these forces could arrive, and at any hour. Captain-General Scaringella might return with the remnants of the Reman army, declaring martial law and thus his own rule …

    [​IMG]

    … or perhaps Razger Boulderguts’ double army of ogres would outmanoeuvre the captain-general and attack first?

    [​IMG]

    It was even rumoured that the mercenary Compagnia del Sol, newly arrived from Estalia at the nearby port of Urbimo, had been contracted by Luigi Grasica and Overlord Matuzzi to seize the city for them.

    [​IMG]

    Worst of all, the vile and abominable, unliving army of the vampire duchess seemed again to be moving southwards.

    [​IMG]

    Once Father Caradallio, guided by Morr’s spirit, was in possession of the church, city and army of Remas, his forces swelled by legions of fanatical dedicants, then decisive action could at last be taken. In the past, Remas had been too slow to respond, what with a dithering overlord and an uncertain clergy. For years, the first response to danger was to issue declarations and warnings, to plead for aid from neighbouring principalities, or to hire another company of mercenaries to sew into the realm’s mismatched, patch-work army. As Father Carradalio had preached to the throng of dedicants only the day before:

    “We are the living embodiment of Morr in this world: his eyes and ears, his voice and limbs. As such we already command the citizens’ fears, for all must die and all fear what will become of them when they do. Once we take the reins of worldly power, then in time the people’s hearts and souls will belong to us too, for only those who yield unto Morr’s true church will be permitted to prosper. If Remas is to survive, if the living of Tilea are to defeat the unholy wickedness that threatens to swallow us whole, consuming both our bodies and souls, we must first annihilate all enemies of the faith, both those within the church and without, purifying the clergy, cleansing Remas, and forging a mighty army of blessed dedicants through which Morr’s mighty will can be channelled in furious anger.”

    * Fratellanza di dolore giusti
     
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  15. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
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    A brief recap of what happened after the end of the battle and before this last update.


    Nobili Immortale
    Sequel to the Battle for Ebino

    The fate of Biagino has been sealed! (well, it didn't went so bad for our "narrator". High Priest of Nagash is a position of power... xD)

    That said, it's really a cool descriptive piece. The shift / hallucinating trance between the dreams and reality, the slow realization of what happened, the change of personality... it's a wonderful description of the "awakening" to undeath.
    Once again, the pictures mirror perfectly the mood of the moments.



    The Day of Mourning

    part one:
    ohohoh... nice insight of the political situations, and a vivid picture of the scheming for power. That's a truly deep campaign.
    Lector Luigi is a smart polititian, but he's immersed too deep in intrigues and subterfuges, and proves himself a fool in not seeing what's going on in front of his eyes...

    Part two:
    ...and so it happens. Father Caradalio turns the table, with religious fanatism at its finest. Now this is truly begins to be a Holy War.


    Media Vita in Morte Sumus

    People that think that undead cannot have a good character growth, should read this piece, enjoining the development of Biagino's personality.
    Well done!
    (and kudos for the latin. I don't think it has been easy)
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
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  16. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

    Joined:
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    By Order of the Praepositus Generalis

    Not surprisingly, the coup was a success.
    I love how the pictures are almost all a "flashback" of the daily events, as presented by Gaspare's report. A very convincing narration, which gives the feeling of the gradual takeover.

    My favorite character is Captain Vogel... a really smart mercenary.


    And now, the winds of war are raging once again... what will be the next fight?
     
  17. Irisado

    Irisado Ancient Vampire Lord Staff Member True Blood

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    552
    I haven't caught up with everything yet, but I just wanted to say that I still feel a very strong affinity to the old Warhammer universe and I immensely enjoying reading you narrative campaigns. I'll post more after I've managed to read the most recent part that you have posted. This is such a great campaign and the effort you're putting into writing it is outstanding.
     
  18. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    210
    Thanks Irisado.

    Borgnine mentioned in another thread that a map of current rulers/realms might be useful. I intent to write a recent history and current situation summary for the whole campaign (not just Remas and the vampires of the north like the stories selected for this thread), but for now this might help readers understand more of the stories ...

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG][/URL][/IMG] [​IMG][/URL][/IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  19. Irisado

    Irisado Ancient Vampire Lord Staff Member True Blood

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    552
    One of my favourite elements of the Warhammer Fantasy is the Old Word map. It's great to see such an expanded map of Tilea, as it was rarely featured in GW publications (Dogs of War apart). This is really helpful to understanding the story.

    Just a note that there is a very small error in the blue text. Where Ebino is referred to, the last word should be 'her' not 'here' ;).
     
  20. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

    Joined:
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    Thanks Irisado. The map is now corrected and updated (the latter fact might mean there are new mistakes!)

    Here is the first part of a background facts piece, being the most relevant for this forum as it discusses the vampire war in the north that this thread features ...

    Spring 2403, The Current Situation in Tilea

    Background information for the readers’ orientation.

    Part One: [edited to include links to various stories concerning the events described here.]

    The Vampire Wars

    The war in the north between the living and the undead continues. The vampire duchess Maria Colleoni controls the large realm of Miragliano and the small principality of Ebino, having wrested control of the former from her dead uncle’s lesser vampire servants, and regained possession of the latter so that she now rules it in undeath as she did when alive. Now both realms are now almost wholly bereft of human life, home only to wild beasts and the undead. The duchess’s vampire get, Lord Adolfo Appuntito of Viadaza, serves her as lieutenant, despite the fact he was chased from his city of Viadaza in the summer of 2402 by the arch-lector of Morr’s army (1). Father Biagino, once a visionary servant of Morr who served both the Viadazan Crusaders and the Reman Holy Army, mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Ebino (but still just alive when captured), has recently become the duchess’ vampiric servant, accepting the mantle of High Priest of the Church of Nagash (2)

    [​IMG]

    These are leaders of the great undead evil in the north, a threat which not one but two Morrite armies failed to defeat. The Viadazan Crusaders, mainly peasants and citizen-soldiers, killed the vampire duke Alessandro Sforza at the Battle of Pontremola (in autumn of 2401 (3), but failed to save their own city succumbing to undeath as the recently turned Lord Adolfo and Duchess Maria raised legions of corpses, including Adolfo’s own poisoned soldiers, and took control of the city! (4) The Arch-Lector of Morr led a massive army of Remans and mercenaries (mostly the latter) to recapture Viadaza (5), but he was killed and his army soundly defeated in late 2403 at the ‘Second’ Battle of Ebino (6) (the first battle being in Summer 2401 when the then-living duchess had attempted to flee the city to escape her vampiric uncle) (7).

    No-one (alive) knows what the vampire duchess intends to do next, but the few people now dwelling in the recently cleansed Viadaza, and the people of Urbimo, live every day in fear. Meanwhile, Remas is in turmoil as the new arch-lector is chosen, its streets swarming with the fanatical dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr, and with Razger Boulderguts’ massive army of plundering ogres drawing ever closer.

    (1) http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/photo-story-battle-report-assault-on-viadaza.29588/
    (2) http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/8th-ed-holy-war.30504/#post-443337
    (3) http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/campaign-battle-incl-photos-background.29241/
    (4) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg882824.html#msg882824
    (5) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg962734.html#msg962734. The subsequent trial = http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg964497.html#msg964497
    (6) http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/8th-ed-holy-war.30504/
    (7) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg856341.html#msg856341. NB: Do not be fooled by this battle report's false ending - people thought the duchess had escaped, when in truth she had not. I had to lie, therefore, at the very end of this otherwise full and accurate account, so that my players wouldn't know what their characters couldn't know!

    (Next, the Ogre Wars…)
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
  21. Irisado

    Irisado Ancient Vampire Lord Staff Member True Blood

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    552
    Thanks for posting a recap of the campaign so far, it's really helpful for understanding what is happening on a grand scale. The setting is really enjoyable and it's going to be very interesting to see what the Duchess's next move is and whether the Tileans and other forces can do anything to stop it.
     
  22. Unas the slayer

    Unas the slayer Black Knight

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    344
    I'm curious to see how the Ogre Wars will impact on this scenario, and what faction will be hampered the most by those relentless eaters..
     
  23. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

    Joined:
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    210
    I will try to do the ogre wars asap. Thinking about it, I wondered whether I should put links into the summary to the stories of the events described, then I realised I should have done that in the above Vampire Wars piece. So I now have!
     
  24. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
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    210
    Part Two

    The Ogre Wars

    [​IMG]


    In IC 2388 an old man arrived at the city of Campogrotta claiming to be the Wizard Lord Niccolo Bentivoglio, returned after three decades absence to reclaim his realm. The people laughed for they knew the wizard lord had perished in the uprising of 2355. The fool had no army, no provisionati of ogres like those used by Lord Niccolo to exert his despotic rule so they chased him away. Twelve years later, to the day, in 2400, a man claiming to be the same old man, and thus the Wizard Lord, returned again, but this time he did indeed have an army of ogres. Within two days the city was his. The presumably ancient Lord Niccolo then disappeared into the ancient Bentiglovio palazzo, issuing orders but never appearing publicly, while the Ogre Tyrant Razger Boulderguts ruled as governor in his name. Needless to say, with Ogres in charge, the brutality and cruelty of the city’s fall continued long after it was taken.

    Razger Boulderguts (or perhaps his master Lord Niccolo?) was apparently not satisfied by his command of the realm of Campogrotta, and in Spring 2401 captured the Ravolan Fortress of Terme, easily overwhelming both the forces of Sir Fromony Dalguinnac defending the walls and the knightly relief force dispatched from Ravola by Lord Giacomo Uberti. (1)

    [​IMG]

    The fortress was still smoking when weeks later the Ogres assaulted the city of Ravola itself, capturing the city almost as easily as he had Terme. (2)

    [​IMG]


    The ogres went on to burn Maratto Castle too, and then settled a garrison force upon the city and the few settlements they did not raze to the ground.


    At the very end of 2401, the wizard Lord Niccolo surprised Tilea by sending a small force of ogres and men to answer the arch-lector of Morr’s call to arms to create his Holy Army for the war against the vampires. This force was met and escorted to Remas (3) …

    [​IMG]

    … and then served as part of the Holy Army in the recapture of Viadaza. (4)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While the city was subsequently being cleansed, however, news came to the Holy Army that Razger Boulderguts had marched a massive force, consisting of his own army and an almost equally large mercenary company called ‘Mangler’s Band’ (who had travelled from the Border Princes (5)) south to attack the Trantian town of Scorcio, now a part of the Pavonan lord Silvano’s realm. (6)

    [​IMG]

    The Pavonans in the Holy army were enraged that the Campogrottan ogres were with them in the army camp while their comrades were attacking Pavonan soldiers in the south, and so, joining with the poor, downtrodden men of Campogrotta (who had been waiting for a chance to strike at their brute masters) and assassinated every ogre in the Holy Army. There was turmoil in the army camp, and the arch-lector’s own mercenaries attempted to prevent the movement of mobs of Pavonans into the Ogres’ part of the camp. (7)

    [​IMG]

    Duke Guidobaldo, never a prince for half measures, ordered that the remainder of his newly conquered realm of Trantio be razed and plundered by his own troops, while he ordered his mercenary elves, the Sharlian Riders, to ride north as fast as they could to take orders to his son in Viadaza. (8)

    [​IMG]


    The entire populace of Trantio was ordered to flee the city, and make their way south to the small city of Astiano. This they did (most of them) but the ogres, denied their loot, pursued them and caught up to them before the very walls of Astiano, slaughtering nearly all of them…

    [​IMG]

    … although the Pavonan soldiers did escape the same fate for they made sure they were the first through the gate into the safety of the city! (9) The tyrant Razger’s ogres were not satisfied with the loot (and human fleshmeat) they had taken from the refugees, and so they assaulted the city, captured it and razed it. Waiting a while for Mangler’s Band to catch up with them (who had been busy looting a different part of Trantio) the brute ‘double army’ then marched into the realm of Pavona. Duke Guidobaldo once again ordered the stripping of some of his own settlements, and drew his army into the city, hoping the ogres would throw themselves against its mighty walls, for although he had insufficient forces to face the double army in the field of battle, he believed he had ample with which to defend the walls. (10)

    Duke Guidobaldo destroyed the bridge at Casoli, to save his town of Scozzesse, but could only watch as the double army circumnavigated his city, razing all the settlements apart from his city. The double army then marched away from the city (11) …

    [​IMG]

    … towards the realm of Remas!

    (1) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg838893.html#msg838893
    (2) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg849071.html#msg849071
    (3) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg913551.html#msg913551
    (4) http://www.vampirecounts.net/threads/photo-story-battle-report-assault-on-viadaza.29588/
    (5) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg937857.html#msg937857
    (6) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg962116.html#msg962116
    (7) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg962734.html#msg962734
    (8) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg970935.html#msg970935
    (9) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg971453.html#msg971453
    (10) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg983116.html#msg983116
    (11) http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.msg998554.html#msg998554

    Next, the Pavonan Wars
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  25. padrissimus

    padrissimus Grave Guard

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2007
    Messages:
    210
    Here's the next piece, prequel to a very large battle.
    ................................................................

    The Battle of the Via Diocleta: Prequel

    Duke Scaringella and his Reman army marched in the van, as was proper now they were moving through their own territory. The whole force, Pavonans included, was comprised mostly of foot soldiers, along with baggage and a large artillery train, which one might presume would critically limit their speed, ruining their chances of successfully catching the brute foe ahead. This was not so, however, as both armies were pushing themselves hard – the Pavonans keen to exact revenge for the multitude of insults done to them and theirs by Razger Boulderguts’ ogres, and the Remans desperate to ensure their own realm would not suffer a similar fate. Every effort had been made to ensure a good pace, including assigning the Pavonan’s large pistolier regiment to assist the artillery’s passage in every way they could. Although their poor horses would doubtless be in no fit state to fight when it came to battle, the brute foe would be subjected to battery by a storm of iron round-shot rather than the paltry peppering of leaden pistol balls.

    Towards the rear of the Reman column rode the newly elected arch-lector of Morr, Bernado Ugolini. He was accompanied by several servants, a handful of guards and clergy, including his Estalian secretary Duarte, followed by a cart carrying his personal baggage and a small body of Reman militiamen who had recently become noticeably more conscientious in their duties, now that they were accompanying not merely the Lector of Viadaza, but rather the holy father of the Church of Morr.

    [​IMG]

    The Reman cross-keyed standard was carried before Bernado, while off to his side marched a column of iron-clad dwarfen mercenaries who also sported the crossed keys, painted on their shields. They had served in the miscellaneously mercenary Reman army for more than a decade, along with regiments of Cathayans, Empire soldiers and even some elves.

    In truth, Bernado would much prefer to be riding northwards directly to Remas, not chasing ogres to the south. The city and the holy church of Morr were in turmoil, since before his election to the arch-lectorship, and even more-so now. As the church’s chosen ruler, he should be there to guide his flock, heal the divisions tearing the Morrite clergy apart and ensure Morr’s protective presence. Duarte and his all his other advisers agreed, however, that the situation was now so bad there was little he could do without an army to back him, which meant travelling wherever the Captain General, Duke Scaringella and his army went. When he finally returned, not only did he need to be with them, but also to be one of them.

    While the arch-lector Calictus II had died at Ebino fighting against the vampire duchess, Duke Scaringella had been leading a small army eastwards to join with Pavonan forces and defeat Razger Boulderguts’ double army of ogres before they reached Remas. At the ruinous city of Astiano the duke had rendezvoused with the joint force of Remans and Pavonans sent away from the ‘Holy Army’ by the arch-lector a little while before his disastrous defeat. (This was the force Bernado had himself commanded as it marched south.) Then, knowing he still had insufficient forces to fight the ogres, the duke had waited, allowing Boulderguts’ army to swing around the north of the city, travelling east to west. He was gambling that as the ogres had already razed Astiano they would have little interest in doing battle there again, this time with no prospect of plunder, whilst praying that the main Pavonan army would reach him in time before the ogres tore Remas apart.

    [​IMG]

    It was a big risk, which nearly every one of the duke’s officers advised against (even if they could not agree what alternative action should be taken). His inactivity meant the very force he had been sent to stop had got between him and what he was meant to be protecting! Luckily, just as news came that already the town of Stiani had been razed to the ground, and it looked like the entire realm might soon be destroyed, Duke Guidobaldo Gondi arrived at the head of the main Pavonan army. It was a force bigger than Scaringella’s, made bigger still when the Pavonans who had come south from Viadaza rejoined their comrades. Not only them, but several days later the duke’s only surviving son, Lord Silvano, one of the very few who had escaped the terrible defeat at Ebino, arrived to be reunited with his father.

    Then, in an even more welcome (and entirely unexpected) development, the army’s scouts reported that for reasons known only to the ogres, the tyrant Razger Boulderguts and his mercenary ally Mangler had turned southwards rather than striking towards Remas, where the real wealth lay. Had they overestimated the forces defending Remas’ mighty walls? Were they making for the coast and awaiting ships? Was the sudden change of direction part of a secret agreement with the vampire duchess? Or were they merely taking a detour? Whatever the reason, the allied army now had a chance to do battle with the ogres before they wreaked any further destruction upon the realm.



    Other than the clattering of their layers of steel armour, the dwarfs marched in silence. They were armed with strangely short spears, of a sort that could be used as a blade like a short sword, but were better at thrusting out between the interlocked iron of a shield-wall. The dwarfs had become a common sight on the streets of Remas, and since their incorporation into the city’s standing army, the dwarfen quarter had swelled considerably in size. There had been mutterings in the army that the dwarfs were surely not happy to be allied with a Pavonan army, what with Duke Guidobaldo’s exulsion of every dwarf in his realm two years ago. The dwarfs themselves, however, had apparently said nothing concerning the matter to anyone else. Bernado suspected that rather than anger, it was mirth they were concealing – being secretly satisfied at the Pavonan soldiery’s discomfort. If the Pavonans disliked merely camping and marching beside dwarfs, then what did they make of the prospect of relying on them in battle? Perhaps the dwarfs intended to shame the Pavonans with their sturdy prowess and hardy discipline upon the field of battle?

    [​IMG]

    It was late in the afternoon, which on any other march would mean the army should be halting soon. Not this army though. If the last four days were anything to go by, they would march until it grew properly dark. Ogre legs were longer than men’s.

    Despite being distracted by the discomfort of riding a mule (the traditional mount for a lector), and worrying about the forthcoming battle, Bernado had been attempting to think clearly about the situation in Remas, to decide what his best course of action would be. He had learned of his election only two days ago, the news being delivered by a lowly, but respected and trusted priest named Benvenuto, who had killed his horse in his haste to bring the news. Benvenuto also described the recent violent events in the city. Since then, due to the consequences of the civil unrest, the speed of the march and the fact that the army of ogres burning a path through the realm killed (and ate) just about everyone they encountered, he had learned nothing more. Then again, what he already knew was enough to fill him with concerns.

    “Brother Duarte,” he asked the young cleric riding beside him. “Do you think Father Carradalio will harm the overlord?”

    [​IMG]

    As usual, Duarte did not answer immediately. He was a careful, disciplined thinker, of a philosophical bent, and not one to rush to answer even when asked by the arch-lector himself.

    “It seems to me most likely, your Holiness, that Father Carradalio was furious at not being elected, especially when he had already acted as if he were arch-lector. He’d played his hand in seizing the city, blood had flowed in every street. Without the legitimization of election, he is no more than a heretical revolutionary, and his Disciplinati become wild rebels overthrowing the rightful order instead of the city’s saviours. Until the election, all had gone well for him, the result of his planning and preparation. Now, however, he has been forced to think on his feet, to act more rashly. He has gone so far it is too late to retreat, and this makes him desperate. If he could have taken you hostage, your Holiness, then I think he would have done so. Instead he took Overlord Matuzzi, the next best thing. Perhaps even better? But I do not think he would harm the overlord, not now his fury has had time to abate. He needs Lord Matuzzi. He needs his authority, so that he can rule the realm by decree as well as by force and fear. That will make him harder to displace.”

    [​IMG]

    Bernado had already been thinking along similar lines. Overlord Matuzzi had handed over the reins of secular power to Calictus II, Bernado’s predecessor, making him ruler of both church and state. Until the election, the big debate had been whether or not the new arch-lector would automatically inherit that secular authority. Now, however, a third player had entered game.

    “No doubt,” asked Bernado, “Carradalio intends to persuade the overlord to yield authority to him?”

    [​IMG]

    “I believe so, your Holiness. He already has the city. He already has nearly all the lower clergy. The people’s fear of the vampires in the north means he already has the citizens’ hopes. With the overlord’s authority, he will have no need of the arch-lectorship.”

    “He would have made me into a ceremonial puppet while he wielded all the real power,” said Bernado.

    Although perhaps, he thought to himself, a demagogue like Carradalio and his fanatical Disciplinati were exactly what Remas needs? He had seen so many flee from the undead at Pontremola, and knew full well the final victory had been because of General D’Alessio’s bravery and skill alone. Yet only last night he had heard young Lord Silvano telling of the battle at Ebino - how the flagellants had plunged deep into the enemy’s line and died fighting to a man despite the many monstrous horrors in the duchess’s army, and regardless of the everyone else’s flight. What could a whole army of fanatics do? Perhaps such warriors were Tilea’s only real chance against the vampires? He missed the council of Father Biagino, a man who had both the gift of prophecy and a mind sharp enough never to make ill-thought or hasty assumptions. When he had asked Lord Silvano about Biagino’s fate in the battle at Ebino, the young noble simply said he never saw nor heard of the priest since that day, and so thought it most likely he perished amongst the multitude.

    “Are you well, your Holiness?” asked Duarte, concerned at Bernado’s posture, his frown obscured by his hand clutching at his temples. The arch-lector had been so deep in thought he had not realised what he was doing.

    “Yes, brother. Long days, that is all. Pray thee, we shall stop a moment.”

    Durate gave the command, and those fore and aft of the arch-lector came to a halt.

    [​IMG]

    The column of dwarfs continued its march, while Bernado turned his mule to face the two priests on foot behind, and Brother Duarte followed suit.

    “Father Benvenuto,” said the arch-lector. “Do you know why the lectors voted for me?”

    “I would not presume to say, your holiness,” answered the priest. “Apart from to accept that whatever their reasons, it was ultimately Morr’s will that you become so.”

    Benvenuto wore a grey, hooded cloak, and despite his sturdily built frame, leaned ponderously, bent-backed, upon a staff. The heavy, leather bags hanging at his waist were at least partially to blame, but he would not allow them to be put onto the cart. When the priest had reached in to withdraw the letters he was carrying, Bernado had seen weighty tomes inside, dark leather embossed with gold leaf. Holy books, or perhaps ledgers of some kind? Bernado assumed he would discover the truth should Father Benvenuto feel the need to employ them.

    [​IMG]

    “Morr’s will, yes. And I pray I shall live up to his expectations,” said Bernado. “But still, presently we abide in the world of mortals and it is men I must measure, not the majesty of Morr. So, Father, if you had to hazard a guess, what would you say was their motive.”

    “Fear, your holiness. They are afraid of Father Carradalio and his fanatics.”

    “If so, then why choose me in particular?” said Bernado. “Surely there are several lectors in Remas just as capable of putting Carradalio in his place?”

    “Maybe so my lord,” agreed the old priest. “But they also fear the vampires. You are the only one amongst them who has met the undead armies in battle. You guided the Viadazan crusaders to their victory at Pontremola …”

    “Yet Viadaza, my own see, was lost that very same week,” interrupted Bernado. He felt no joy at the irony.

    But Father Benvenuto had not finished. “And then, your holiness, you were by Calictus’s side when Viadaza was retaken and cleansed. You were part of not one but two great victories. In the first he vampire duke died, and in the second you chased Lord Adelfo from the city. The lectors want a proven soldier of Morr leading the church and Remas in the great fight, not an untried rabble rouser like Carradalio.”

    “That may be so. Yet Viadaza has most likely fallen once more, this time for good, which would have made me the lector of nowhere.”

    [​IMG]

    “By your leave, your holiness,” said Duarte. “The lectors may well have been counting on its fall. If Viadaza is lost, then there would be nothing to distract you from defending Remas. I have heard them whisper that Calictus erred in dividing our forces to march north himself, there to be defeated. When he finally fought, half his army were Arabyan mercenaries who barely knew of Morr. They weren’t even under contract to Remas, and fled the field before the battle was decided. Now Stiani has burned because Captain-General Duke Scaringella was left with far too small an army to stop the ogres.”

    “If I might speak, your holiness?” asked Brother Marsilio, the grey robed monk who had accompanied Father Benvenuto from Remas. “The lectors knew you were with the captain general. Once the brute’s double army is defeated, then both you and he will be returning victorious with an army. How could Carradalio’s screeching sermons compete with the commands of Morr’s anointed pontiff? How could his crazed followers stand against a real army?”

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    Ah, thought Bernado, but what sort of army will we return with? If we are badly mauled in this coming battle, there might be merely the battered rump of an army left. And even if sufficient force survived to contend with the Disciplinati’s fanatics, would Duke Scaringella do the right thing and restore order?

    When he spoke again, he hid all sign of these doubts from his voice. “After you delivered your news to me, Father Benvenuto, you spoke at length with our Captain General, yes?”

    “I did, your holiness,” the priest answered.

    “I take it he questioned you concerning Remas?” inquired Bernado.

    “At length, your holiness. And kept me there when he spoke to his officers, that I might answer whatever else he and they thought to ask. I was given to understand that I must not speak of what I had heard.”

    Although Bernado had seen Duke Scaringella since then, when both he and Duke Guidobaldo came to receive an official blessing from their new arch-lector, he had not yet had the opportunity to speak with him privately. He doubted the duke would want to discuss the precarious state of Reman affairs in the Pavonans’ presence, especially in light of the as yet unexplained delay – lasting the best part of a day - which occurred the previous week.

    Scaringella had at the time confided to Bernado his suspicion that the Pavonans did not actually intend to fight the ogres and were considering some other action instead. Perhaps the captain general had the measure of Duke Guidobaldo of Pavona? Yet he also admitted he could not fathom why Guidobaldo would consider allowing those who had injured him so badly to escape. Fearing his dangerous gamble had failed, Scaringella had knelt to pray with Bernado for Remas, pleading with Morr not to allow it to suffer at the hands of brutes when the most holy work of destroying the vampires was yet to be done. That evening, however, Duke Guidobaldo called a council of war, giving no explanation for the delay, and declared that they would pursue the enemy immediately as if nothing strange had happened. Although Duke Scaringella accepted Guidobaldo had the larger force and so was due the precedence, he was neither asked nor offered to swear obedience to Duke Guidobaldo, being himself was of equal noble rank and a captain-general (which suited him well in light of his distrust). Instead, he simply offered to fight at Duke Guidobaldo’s side, promising to cooperate fully upon the field of battle, doing his utmost to contribute to victory. The matter of dividing the spoils was not discussed for the chase was on and there was no (more) time to waste. Most of the soldiers seemed to presume that as most of the plunder came from Pavonan settlements, then the Pavonans would expect the lion’s share.

    Considering Duke Scaringella’s religiosity and humble acceptance of spiritual authority, Bernado had every reason to think Scaringella’s command concerning Father Benvenuto’s silence was more to prevent the Pavonans learning of his concerns. In light of this, he made the Morrite sign, and spoke,

    “I hereby absolve you of any promise you made to keep silent. As your pontiff, I command that you answer me.”

    Father Benvenuto nodded his acceptance.

    “Did Lord Scaringella voice his opinion concerning Father Carradalio and his dedicants?” Bernado asked.

    “He spoke of little else, your holiness, and was in quite a dilemma. He must defend Remas, of course, either by destroying the ogres or chasing them away. His victory must be glorious, so he can return to Remas as a hero, winning the citizens’ favour. He must earn a good portion of the loot so that he can feed and pay the army; and he must prove to be so effective on the field of battle that the Pavonan duke is grateful, becoming an important ally during the struggle ahead. Yet he must do all these things without suffering crippling losses, for he will need the army to put the Disciplinati di Morr back in their place upon your return to Remas.”

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    “More than that,” Duarte added, “we need the army to fight the vampires.”

    Ogres, fanatics and the undead, thought Bernado. Three wars to be fought.

    “Brethren,” he said, “let us contend with one thing at a time. Tonight, we shall pray for victory against the brutes.”
     

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