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8th Ed, Holy War

Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#1
Some amazing magic has been done to this campaign on the Oldhammer forum, and they have replaced all the pictures. You can see the fully repaired campaign at http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2889. Be warned, it's a lot bigger than what is here as it includes all the non-undead stuff too!

If, however, you want to read the slowly re-growing, 'improved' version of the campaign (in which I am editing all the posts for grammar, spelling etc) then take a look at www.bigsmallworlds.com.

This campaign will not die!


Prequel: The Battle for Ebino

Winter IC 2420-3. A short distance south of Ebino

It was less than half an hour since first light and already the burgeoning camp was a hive of activity. Many within had laboured through the night, attempting to satisfy the arch-lector’s demand that the earthwork circumvallation be completed within two days. Considering the proximity of the vampire-ruled city of Ebino, there were very few who begrudged this hurried deadline and even less who yearned for sleep. What mortal man would relish the prospect of being unconscious and undefended as a force of unliving monsters sallied out from the deathly quiet walls?

Having finally shrugged off the queasy terror gifted by yet another night-long torrent of nightmares, partly achieved by the ritual of his morning prayers and partly with a practised effort of will, Father Biagino decided he ought to take the air and stretch his legs. He was keen to see how the camp’s defences were coming along, not least because of the future horrors suggested by his nightmares. The dreams he remembered, despite his urge to forget, had revealed to him a grand yet grisly army much greater and more terrible than that he had faced at Pontremola. He told himself that it could not be so – only yesterday the scouts had confidently reported a weak force garrisoning Ebino – and yet there it was. Before the dream army, and quite unable to escape due to some mysterious thickening of the air, he became as a mouse before a bull - an old, diseased mouse with legs stuck in glue-like mud before the snorting, red-eyed king of all demonic bulls. As the mighty foe came on relentlessly, he turned in desperation to see what safety his comrades could provide, only to discover that they too were living-dead, their eyes empty of all life apart from hateful hunger. The enemy was on all sides. He had not a friend in the world. When he threw his hands up to block out the sight, which was all he could think to do, pain seared into his palms. Tearing them away again, he saw blood pouring from ragged holes. From there, the nightmare took a turn for the worse, becoming the part he could not bring himself even to think about.

He was accompanied by the guard who had been placed as his tent sometime after he retired for the night, a veteran Reman crossbowman called Fazzio who proved to be a talkative fellow. It was a quality Biagino much appreciated for the distraction it gave, and therefore one he was happy to encourage.

“Quite a difference already,” said the crossbowman. “I saw this gate just after dark and it was little more than a few marker posts.”

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Biagino stopped a moment to look the earthworks over. Without a doubt much work had been done, for it was no small feat to enclose a camped army as large as this Holy Army of Morr, but it was still far from a reassuring sight. Small sections of earthwork were in place, but most were little more than low piles of earth, the traced beginnings of a defence achieving little more than marking out where the completed circumvallation would sit. He pointed at a finished section by the gate and asked, “Will they make the whole circuit as high?”

“I should think so, father,” said Fazzio. “As per the general’s orders: an outer ditch with an earthen bank no less than four feet high, parapeted throughout, with gabions at the gates. O’course, if we stay any longer than a few days, it’ll grow much bigger than that. This is just for starters.”

They had stopped at the spot where the elaborate volley gun had been emplaced. It had been taken from maestro Angelo’s steam engine, and thus had no wheeled carriage. Just as Biagino pondered the consequences of this, Fazzio spoke.

“Well that’s not going anywhere soon,” he declared. “If it comes to battle here at the camp, I hope this is the spot it’s needed. Seems to me to be a distinct lack of artillery in this army, considering what we’re up against and where they’re at.”

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Biagino simply nodded. He had passed the maestro’s steam engine as he made his way to his tent last night. The entire upper platform had been torn away, thus removing all its guns, big and small, so that in its stead a huge ramp could be fabricated upon its back. This was the result of one of the maestro’s suggestions concerning how to assault the city, what with both walls and a moat stubbornly obstructing the army’s passage. He had made the idea sound so simple: remove the gun-platform and in its place mount a flat bridge of roughly-hewn boards obliquely rising from a little way above the ground at the rear, while extending out beyond the front until reaching the same height as the crenellations. Then, using the engine’s proven strength, roll on up to the wall until close enough to allow soldiers to run up onto the battlements. Of course, the maestro had added, if the enemy were living Tileans the enterprise would be severely compromised by artillery fire from the towers, but in this case, it could be assumed there would be no such danger. Biagino had marvelled how the maestro could make the prospect of fighting the living dead sound like an advantage.

Several soldiers were attending to the multi-barrelled piece, while others were filling the gabion beside it with rocks.

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A large, rubble filled wagon filled stood nearby, with a sweating soldier aloft hurling the contents to the ground …
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… whereupon two labourers wielding pick axes broke the stones into manageable chunks.

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If this was the effort required simply to place an engine of war in some earthen defence-works, thought Biagino, then surely the maestro’s breezy description of what was required to make an entirely novel, massive and mobile military amalgamation of bridge and ramp had been somewhat rash?

Biagino turned to his companion and asked, “Do you think the maestro’s plan to mount the walls will work?”

Fazzio grinned, making himself look a tad foolish in the process, and answered, “Why not? As long as the engine moves, and the bridge upon it is long enough, and strong enough, and the enemy does nothing to impede its progress, then yes, it should successfully deliver our lads into the arms of the foe.”

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“Besides,” he added, “if it doesn’t work, then there’s the petard. Maybe all the maestro’s engine really has to do is draw the enemy’s attention away from the petard?”

Biagino said nothing, but he had been even less convinced by the maestro’s (second) proposition to construct the ‘biggest petard Tilea has ever known’. The proposed components were lying next to the area where engine was being converted, little more than a rusty, old cannon barrel brought from Viadaza and a battered, spare boiler for the engine, to be fastened together somehow and mounted upon a carriage so that the whole could trundle right up to be placed against the gate, there to blow it apart. Biagino’s doubts were not the of the usual kind regarding petards, which tended to concern the difficulty in finding a petardier, a volunteer mad enough to attempt the placing of it. There really was no difficulty there, what with scores of fanatical flagellants and dedicates committed to sacrificing themselves for Morr in any way necessary, perhaps the messier the better? Rather, he worried about how the petardier could possibly hope to reach its destination without deadly interference from the enemy. The undead might not have missiles to shoot, but they could surely hurl rocks, even just tip them over the parapet? And worse, in his dreams he had watched ghastly spirits swarming through stone and wood as if there were nothing there at all, which meant they could sally out without even opening the gate.

Looking back at the volley gun, Biagino watched a matross ramming home an iron ball into one of the nine barrels, while yet another rock was tumbled into the wicker-weaved gabion beside him.

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The two of them then left the soldiers to their labours and walked a little further to a stretch of earthen barricade heaped so low it allowed easy access back into the camp’s interior. Biagino led and Fazzio followed as they headed towards the very heart of the camp, where a second, much smaller ring of earthworks had been quickly thrown up, the beginnings of an inner defensive circuit to surround the army’s carroccio. This time, however, the work had apparently already halted. No-one laboured here, as if the pathetically low mound was already considered sufficient for purpose. Instead, a congregation of clergy and dedicates had gathered within, completely surrounding the holy wagon, being joined in ominous chanting, part prayer and part summonation of Morr’s divine presence.

Biagino heard Fazzio gasp at his side.

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The physical cause of Fazzio’s audible surprise was nothing more than the barest rippling of a breeze rolling out from the enclosure, but it was laced with a hair-raising and gut-wrenching sensation of powerful intent, like one might suppose a god’s breath would feel as it washed over you. Biagino had sensed it too, perhaps more forcefully than the crossbowman, because for him it evoked memories of rituals and rites, of prayers he himself had employed to conjure curses and blessings in battle, and especially the terrors inhabiting his dreams. He did not gasp, but for a mad moment he yearned to throw his head back and scream, allowing the spiritual potency to penetrate his being and set his soul alight. He held the compulsion in check, for he knew if he were to give in to it, he would surely and immediately slide into a new kind of madness - the same divinely gifted ecstasy that coursed through the bodies and souls of flagellants as the pain of their scourging reached an unbearable peak.

The congregation had arrayed itself in a ring around the large wagon, consisting of both ordained priests and avowed lay brothers, as well as fanatical cultists and dedicates. A flagellant prophet stood by the carroccio, waving a holy book in one hand and a heavy, studded club in the other.

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Upon the wagon-shrine’s lower level a cleric spoke prayers over the gilded tabernacle containing a carefully selected collection of holy Reman relics brought by order of the arch-lector. Upon the upper platform two priests, somewhat incongruously framed by brass-barrelled swivel guns, gestured with raised hands to lead the prayerful chanting of those gathered around. Fluttering above their heads was the cross-keyed standard of the Reman Church of Morr, showing both the gold and silver keys to Morr’s garden

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Biagino had to look twice before he realised that one of the officiating priests was none the less than Erkhart, the lector of Trantio, the very same man who only weeks before had arrived wretched and broken at Viadaza, assailed by doubts and the guilt of having abandoned his city. Now, dressed in a humble woollen cassock, he had the steely glint of a fanatic in his eyes, and looked every bit like the sort of man who could successfully channel mighty Morr’s divine will.

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“In manus tuas, Morrus, commendo spiritum meum,” prayed Fazzio.

Biagino raised his hand to bless the crossbowman, to reassure him. The power of prayer was indeed evident here, even to a layman. The arch-lector himself had ordered the holy ritual, intending that its potency would crescendo into a force sufficient to wash over the entire city of Ebino, undoing the dark-magics animating the undead. While the maestro Angelo was to use mathematics and mechanical skill to forge his ingenious weapons of war, the church would call upon divine power to strike at the foe. Biagino, however, was not reassured. In his dreams the vampires were unstoppable, their will undeniable, their servants relentless, and inevitably their curse swallowed up the whole world. And if his dreams were only half right, then this ritual was still not enough.

Suddenly a new voice, an ululation more strained and crazed than all the rest, surged up to dominate. It seemed to contain no words, but in truth was just one name, sung without ending: Morr. And it emanated from the mouth of the wild-haired fanatic with the club. His hair blazed from his head like black fire, and his waist was wrapped in penitential chains upon which iron balls swung to bruise his shins.

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“ … oooor … oooor ... oooor” went the wail, the sound of the crowd’s chanting undiminished and yet seeming so. Then the wail began to split and fragment, multiplying into a crazed choir of sound. Biagino peered at the fanatic, wondering how such a thing was possible, his bemusement only ending when he caught a glimpse of motion upon the other side of the sacred compound. More fanatics had appeared, racing around the periphery, their weapons brandished, their mouths agape as they too cried out Morr’s holy name.

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Fazzio flinched when he too saw the motion, his crossbow falling from his shoulder and his other hand reaching for his sword. Then he too saw what it was. He exhaled, then sniffed. “Here they come,” he said, as if the scene were something tired and familiar. “Father, forgive me, but with a battle brewing I can’t decide if we need more or less of their kind.”

Biagino said nothing. At Pontremola he had witnessed almost every regiment on the field flee from the foe – the battle having been won by General d’Alessio’s slaying of the vampire duke alone, not by any resoluteness or courage in the massed ranks. When the vampire duke fell, his army weakened across the field, some stumbling, others crumbling away, until those left retired under the command of a lesser vampire. There was little the broken Viadazan army could do to stop them leaving, but at least they had won the battle. The Holy Army of Morr could not rely on such a stroke of luck to win its battles, especially as it was unknown whether the vampire duchess would even put herself in harm’s way. Instead they needed fighting men who could and would stand their ground against such a terrifying foe. These flagellants were those kind of men. Once they had whipped themselves into a crazed frenzy, they would fight to the last. Whether or not a general could ensure they did so to some purpose on the field, that was a different matter.

“Hello!” said Fazzio all of a sudden. “Now there’s a leader made to inspire warriors!”

Biagino broke from his reverie and saw immediately who Fazzio had meant. At the head of the column of flagellating fanatics, sword in hand, cassock hoiked up to allow him to run unimpeded, chins and belly a-wobbling, was the Campogrottan priest Peppe di Lazzaro.

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“If he carries on like that he’ll do himself an injury,” said Fazzio.

“Isn’t that the point?” quipped Biagino as the crazed priest hurtled passed them pursued by a large gang of much more fearsome followers.

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There was little either of them could do while the frantic procession cavorted by them, swinging around the sacred compound and heading off back towards where they came from. No doubt they would re-appear in a little while as their violent dance circumnavigated whatever other part of the camp they had chosen to navigate by. Once they had gone from sight Biagino suddenly felt as if he was being watched. Glancing off to the side he saw the arch-lector’s colourful tent, attended by his Reman guards. It was not them who were looking at him, however, but the arch-lector himself, from within the shadowed interior.

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Biagino supposed the arch-lector would surely beckon him over or at least make some other sign of recognition, as he had done on most other occasions. But no, he just stood motionless, staring.

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It made Biagino wonder what his holiness had dreamt last night.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#2
The Battle for Ebino, Part One
Winter IC 2420-3. A short distance south of Ebino

As Biagino looked away, lest the arch-lector notice his stare and take offence, a sound erupted from back where he had come from. Drums – the call to arms – and shouting. The chanting ceased immediately as all the gathered clergy and dedicates turned to look. Soldiers were tumbling from their huts and tents, joining the throng running towards their colours and ensigns.

“I think that means they’re coming, father,” said Fazzio. “And there I was a-thinking we were to do the attacking.”

“But the scouts said they were only a small force,” Biagino. “Why would they leave the walls?”

“Either the scouts were wrong, or the enemy doesn’t care about being outnumbered.” He sniffed, then added, “My money’s on both.”

Biagino recalled how he had thought it strange when the scouts corrected their earlier estimations of the enemy’s size, reporting that the defending force had greatly diminished. It was suggested a large part of their strength had marched away towards Miragliano, although many present had simply assumed fear was the cause of the scouts’ original overestimation. Perhaps instead the contradiction was part of a ploy to lure the Holy Army of Morr into a false sense of security? Perhaps what he had seen in his dreams - an army with a front stretching at least as wide as their own - had been closer to the truth?

Suddenly he was jostled and Fazzio had to catch him so he did not fall. The fanatical dedicates were pouring past the pair of them. Instinctively Biagino put his hands over his head, for some part of him knew that they carried every conceivable sort of armament, including the sort of clumsy instruments that no sane man would call a weapon. Once they had passed he wondered why they had abandoned the carroccio, when their ritual had been so obviously working, but when he glanced at it he saw they had not done so. Several many remained with the wagon, Lector Erkhart and Father Peppe di Lazzaro amongst them.

“Best be off, father,” said Fazzio. “I reckon we’ll both be needed in this fight. In our own ways, that is.”

Biagino nodded and the two of them joined the general mass of soldiers heading off towards the camp’s periphery.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some Mechanics: Battle Scenario Rules

Deployment:
The Holy Army of Morr will deploy in a semi-completed earthwork-fortified camp, with some restrictions on space. The Undead Army of the Vampire Countess Maria will deploy 24” away from the earthworks.

Missing units:
One unit of the Holy Army of Morr has already been destroyed by a (‘paper battle’) sally by the Vargheists – the arabyan horse are no more. They did manage, against the odds, to get a countershot off, killing one of the monsters, but then they got cut to pieces, losing eight of their number to the charge, then the rest being charged again before they reached their camp. The undead player has one Vargheist missing. Sad.

Helblaster (Removed from steam tank platform)
This is already set up on the defences somewhere fixed - it has no carriage.

Carroccio
This begins kind of ‘stuck’ within its compound, but could become moveable after effort.

* To move it the order has to be given. Roll D6 subsequent player turns. It will move the next turn on 6+, next turn on 4+, next turn and subsequent on 3+.

* It has a number of ‘free’ (no points paid) flagellants with it - 6D6 rolled before battle starts. These cannot move more than 6” away from the carroccio, unless they are pursuing a fleeing foe.

The carroccio may, depending on what is done with it, and rolls, increase the range of its immune to fear & Battle Standard effect, or perhaps have a weakening effect on necromantic magic. To do either there needs to be a minimum of a dozen flagellants present.

* To increase the range of the carroccio’s immune to fear and battle standard effect by 2D3”, the attendant flagellant fanatics must not move or be in combat, instead spending the turn praying. In the magic phase they must pass an Ld test. This is a permanent increase (for this battle).

* To affect the undead enemy’s magic pool, the attendant flagellants must not move or be in combat, spending the turn flagellating themselves, and thus apply rules for the ‘End is Nigh’! If at least one model is removed as a casualty of this self-harm, the undead enemy player’s magic pool is reduced by D3 power dice in their next magic phase.

Steam Tank
Currently being converted to carry a large ramp, with scaffolding around the machine. All artillery pieces have been removed. In order to move it must spend 2+ steam points: the first steam point doesn’t generate movement, but rather allows the engine to break it free from the scaffolding (etc) around it.

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Holy Army of Morr @ 4854 pts

Arch-Lector’s Own troops (plus the Viadazan clergy & fanatics) @ 2195 pts:
Arch-Lector of Morr Calictus II @ 201 Tilean Noble
Urbano D’Alessio, Condottiere General @ 172 pts
Priest of Morr, Fr. Federico Tinti)@ 55 pts
Priest of Morr, Fr. Peppe di Lazzaro, Obsidian amulet & Gold Sigil Sword @ 100
Priest of Morr, Fr. Biagino @ 85 pts
7 Knights with full armour and command @ 186 pts
36 Condotta Pikemen (Estalian Mercenaries) @ 399 pts
8 Dwarf Sea Ranger Skirmishers @ 112
30 Flagellants with leader @ 370 pts (this group possibly having swollen to a greater size)
Carroccio @ 265 (counts as Army Standard @ 18” effect) + 3D6 Flagellants
Magic standard (Home-rules): Standard of Morr: All Tilean/Estalian troops within range of its battle Standard effect are immune to Fear (+85)
Maestro Angelo da Leoni’s Steam-Tank @ 250 (From which 3 swivel guns and a helblaster volley gun have been removed and placed elsewhere.)
2 Baggage wagons

The young Pavonan lord and his guard @ 328 pts
Lord Silvano
8 Mercenary Elven Knights

Arabyans gifted by Lord Alessio Falconi of Portomaggiore @ 2331 pts
General ‘Caliph’ Gedik Mamidous
Two ‘Emirs’, Sakhrrif and Immeed (one with Battle Standard)
Vizier (wizard) Jafhashua al Hadi
9 Arabyan Camel Riders
30 Arabyan Spearmen
25 Arabyan Elite Spearmen (Heavy armour, corroding standard)
24 Crossbowmen (two companies of 12)
12 Border Horsemen
10 Arquebusiers (30", S5, armour pierce, move or fire, prepared shot - after firing, spend next shooting phase reloading before fire again, may move while doing)
25 Black Guard Swordsmen (Stubborn, WS4)
2 baggage wagons
2 Galloper Guns commanded by mercenary artillery captain Pandolfo da Barbiano

Here’s a pic of some of the above army set up in readiness for transferral to the table. Several things were already placed, as per the scenario. The 6D6 flagellants with the carroccio would be determined at the start of the game. I had the 36 figures ready, but should have known I wouldn't need anything like that many!
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The arabyan horse in the middle of this lot were destroyed before the battle! (If a GM allows one PC to order ritual prayers to affect necromantic magic and the turning of a steam tank into a (Hobart’s) ‘funny’, then he must allow the other to try a dastardly surprise attack versus a random scouting unit by flying vampire-monsters. The randomness came from the fact that Vargheists are frenzied, and I reckoned that meant it was pretty random which one they attacked – whoever they happened to see first!)

The Undead Army @ 4320 pts total
Vampire Lord (Maria)
Strigoi Ghoul King
Vampire Hero
Tomb Banshee
Necromancer
60 Zombies
10 Dire Wolves
43 Crypt Ghouls
30 Skeletons
30 Skeletons
Corpse Cart
29 Grave Guard
20 Grave Guard
6 Crypt Horrors
6 Vargheists
6 Hexwraiths
8 Black Knights
3 Spirit Hosts
Terrorgheist

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The Tabletop
(Effectively a simplified version of the camp for game-play purposes.)
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Actual battle report to follow asap.
 

Dragonet

Wight King
Joined
Feb 3, 2015
Messages
450
#3
That was so awesome! Thank you Padrissimus, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the illustrations; you should submit this for publication in a wargames magazine, I'd love to say White Dwarf now they've reverted to the classic and well-loved format, but I think we'll be waiting a long time for Legacy Warhammer to be embraced by GW.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#4
Thanks for saying, Dragonet. I go to the extra effort for my campaign so that the 6 players have good reports and background (a reward perhaps for their patience at just how slowly the campaign proceeds) but also because I am hoping others will enjoy it. Of course, I myself enjoy the painting, scenery making, photography and editing, and the writing (on top of all the usual GM duties) but if I didn't think others enjoyed it I am not sure I would push myself so hard!

White Dwarf, even in days gone by (perhaps not the mid 80s) would have been horrified and the number of non Citadel/GW figures I think, and perhaps even my own take on the Warhammer world. Not sure any other magazine would publish this sort of thing, but I do post my campaign reports fully on four different forums (from very small to moderate in popularity). Here I have only ever put up stuff to do with the undead - stories and bat reps. If you want to see the full thread (it is massive!) with all sorts of stories and battles in chronological order, then have a look at http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.0.html ( or, alternatively, at http://forum.oldhammer.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2889 ).

I have learned a few new tricks along the way (I've done a LOT of this sort of thing in the past, mainly for internet campaigns on different forums), such as my recent idea to hide the bases for story photos by pouring flock and brushing it up to the edges of the bases. The only downside is every new refinement I come up with eats up time!!
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#5
The Battle for Ebino, Part Two

The Holy Army of Morr rushed to deploy its entire strength along the partially completed defences. All three heavy mounted regiments took a place on the far left of the line, with the mercenary elven riders on their bright, white horses acting as Lord Silvano's bodyguard on the extreme end of the line. The Caliph Gedik Mamidous' camelry rode behind them and the Reman knights, led by the hero of Pontremola and commander of the army in the field, General d'Alessio, to their right. Captain Pandolfo di Barbiano's brace of galloper guns trundled up behind the knights, hoping to find a spot from which to fire after the knights advanced.

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The Arabyan Black Guard swordsmen massed in the rear of the cavalry, upon a little hill from which they could look down at Carroccio and its little guard company of flagellants (Note: The 6D6 roll for to ascertain the flagellants’ actual number came up a measly 12!) The large regiment of Estalian pikemen took up position near the centre of the line, with the arch lector Calictus II himself by their side. Several swivel guns and the volley gun were placed at the very centre of the line, and stretching out to the right of them stood first the Arabyan musketeers with their impressively long barrelled pieces, and then in succession the Arabyan light spearmen, the main body of Morrite flagellants and the Arabyan heavy spearmen.

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Behind these foot regiments, two companies of crossbowmen occupied each of a pair of hills, while in the little dip between stood maestro Angelo da Leoni's wooden-armoured steam engine surrounded by scaffolding and topped by the uncompleted ramp intended to overcome the moated walls of Ebino. The maestro himself stood upon the scaffolding, shouting down to the already sweating crewmen within the workings, issuing a complicated combination of instructions concerning how to build up steam, which parts of both the scaffolding and the supports for the ramp needed removing, and what alterations in driving and steering procedures would be necessary now that the gun platform was missing. Glancing again and again towards the front of the battle-line, he interspersed his orders with "Hurry now!", "Make haste" and “No time for that”.

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A wheeled contraption of rather a less elaborate and ingenious design trundled up at the flagellants' fore, its cacophonous bronze bell swinging erratically. 'Fighting' Father Antonello, who nearly died leading the poorest of the Viadazan militia at Pontremola, and who had spent his time in Remas forging the very band of fanatics he now led, walked barefoot next to the bell, his sword held aloft as he sang of the painful, purging ecstasy of serving Morr's will to the death. At Pontremola his voice had been clear and strong, but here it had become the pained and wheezing cry of a man who had bloodily scourged himself of every thought but battle.

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Once the army was arrayed as best it could manage, for a moment there was almost complete quiet. The peeling drums ceased their instructions, the sergeants and captains gave rest to their voices, and every mercenary soldier upon the field, Tilean or Arabyan, fell silent. Even the flagellants ceased their loud chants, and instead spoke their prayers in growled whispers through clenched teeth. The only other sounds were the jangling of the mounts' harnesses and the snapped flutters of silken flags.

Not one living soul present could help but fall quiet, for it was in that moment the enemy hoved into view, surmounting the ridge between the camp and Ebino.

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Every single thing that moved among their ranks was foul. Many were truly terrible to behold. Several large companies of skeletal warriors, wearing only the remnants of ancient armour and rags, with not a scrap of flesh to clothe their bones, made up their right, including an ancient head-hunter's chariot piled high with the skulls of those he had taken in life and (presumably) in death also. Closer to the centre of their line, being the first thing all living eyes were drawn to, was the un-living corpse of a huge dragon-beast. Its motion seemed impossibly easy, considering it was nothing more than bleached bones and the flimsiest, stretched tatters of leathery flesh. When its long neck came curling down to thrust its monstrous head forwards, a sound issued from its gaping maw - the echo of a cry from some hellish realm beyond the seam, twisted then amplified as it found its way into the mortal world.

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Behind this flew some smaller, demonic creatures, although as they would tower over any mortal man their smallness was only in comparison to the dragongheist.

In the very heart of the line came a monstrously large amalgamation of unliving parts, held as one by a blue-hued miasma, the whole like something plucked from a nightmare, or several nightmares. It appeared to be hauled by skeletal riders, although the mounts' hooves struck nothing but air as the ground was several yards beneath them. Limbless corpses with chattering teeth were impaled upon a shrine-like balcony, upon which stood a crooked figure robed in a cloth woven from shadows.

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This horror alone proved the vampire duchess's corrupting power had grown greater than that which Duke Alessandro ever wielded, and in the passage of time since she left Viadaza to return northwards, she had been diligent in her work to make a very hell of the north. The like of such an 'apparatus ad mortem', such an 'ammasso dei cadaveri', had not been witnessed in Tilea for many a century. But nor had an undead army the size of which surrounded it. Ahead of the horror loped a band of undead brutes, and beside them a regiment of ancient palace guards led by the vampire Lord Adolfo (the tales of his death at the hands of the duchess, punishment for the loss of Viadaza, were thus proved false). Next in line were two huge bands of ghouls and zombies, with a barely visible ghostly host of troubled spirits lurching ahead of them.

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Upon the very far left of Duchess Maria's army there rode a deathly hunt, with flail-armed riders galloping in eerie, ethereal silence behind a pack of slavering hounds.

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They were not the only riders upon the field, for at the very centre of the line, beside the monstrous dragongheist, was a company of skeletal men at arms, their mounts' caparisoned carcasses enclosed in carapaces of iron. In their midst rode the vampire Duchess Maria, with a gaze every bit as piercing as her bared fangs could be.

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As the Holy Army of Morr took in the full horror of what faced them, the arch-lector's long serving company of mercenary dwarfs jogged up towards the side of the steam engine, having been ordered to move whither it went.

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Most of the vampire duchess's horde momentarily slowed as she surveyed the foe arrayed before her, but out on the left the ghastly hunt did not break its stride, outstripping all the rest and closing upon the enemy with palpably cruel intent.

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Note: Deployment and Scouting Moves completed. Battle proper to follow asap. To those who weren't there, does anyone care to hazard a guess as to which side will be victorious, if indeed either?
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2015
Messages
31
#6
This was such a pleasure to read! Well done, I've lurked a lot on here but never logged on 'till now.

Looking forward to more vampire stories. :)
 

padrissimus

Grave Guard
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#8
Thank you ever so much. You are being extraordinarily (and reassuringly) kind. It made writing this next part easier (!)
------------------------------------------------------------------
The Battle for Ebino, Part Three


The near-silence was broken by the sudden blaring of horns ordering the riders to advance. The young Lord Silvano, the only soldier upon the field to sport the blue and white of Pavona, was the first off the mark, accompanied by his Sharlian Riders. The irony that they had been bribed generously to leave Reman service to serve the Pavonan duke, yet now they had been sent by that same duke to serve his son in Reman service, was not lost upon them as it was on Lord Silvano. He simply wanted to fight and get this war over and done with.


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To the young lord's immediate right the mounted nobility of Remas - a visconte, a barone, and several-many Cavalieri, led by General d'Alessio, his shield bearing the hourglasses of Morr - spurred their own mounts to keep up as close they could to the young lord's flank.


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The veteran general forgave young Silvano his impetuousness in being the first to advance, though by right that honour should not have fallen to him. Silvano was burdened with an irrepressible need to prove himself, born of all that had happened in his young life: the death of his brother in single combat, the mutinous conduct of his own soldiers at Viadaza and the recent fall of the city he had been granted governorship of by his father. He also yearned to placate his father for his perceived failings by proving himself in battle. Where and when better to do so than here and now, against the greatest and most wicked threat facing Tilea? Most of all, he wanted to beat the vampire duchess and her foul horde as soon as possible, thus releasing himself from his vow and allowing his return to Pavona to aid his father in the war against the Ogres threatening to destroy his own homeland.


Behind the Sharlian riders came the Sons of the Desert’s camelry, carrying lances almost the length of pikes. It had been noted how the desert mounts scared the horses and so their position in the rear was no accident. Thus it was that the entire left wing of the Holy Army of Morr's vanguard, wholly consisting of riders, crossed the nascent defences to move directly towards the massed ranks of the walking dead.


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On the far right of the army the steam engine's workings juddered into life, emitting several bouts of sooty steam, then after the squeal of grinding gears and the strained creak of stressed timbers, it broke free of the scaffolding enclosing it and jolted forwards leaving a trail of broken planks behind. The maestro Angelo watched it trundle away, cursing at its lack of armament. At Viadaza it had thundered aimlessly about unable to effect any real damage upon the walls or the foe shielded behind them, whereas now, part-way through the transformation intended to put right this specific deficiency, it was going into open battle without the guns that could make it truly effective. He was more than a little vexed at the constantly changing circumstances that prevented him from proving himself as a military engineer of genius. Had he just sent his greatest creation to its doom?


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The dwarfen rangers watched the engine go by, waiting for their chance to move up in its wake, all the better to provide some support for it during the battle.


While the famous Captain da Barbiano's galloper guns positioned themselves behind the beginnings of the earthwork vallation ...


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... the regiments of foot soldiers stood their ground. The Arabyan light spear regiment looked on nervously over the piled timbers gathered for the parapet, while the black robed vizier in their front rank dramatically began his conjurations.


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But his efforts evidently came to nought, for when his hands came together in a conclusive clap and nothing at all happened, he cursed in some archaic tongue only half understood by the men around him. No other magical manipulation of the etheric winds had any obvious effect, but several of the slavering death-hounds did fall to crossbow quarrels and the shambling blue-skinned horrors in the centre of the duchess's line were bloodied by musket shots. At the carroccio, however, the fanatical clergy and dedicants were singing potent prayers with gusto, and as every Estalian and Tilean who could hear them took heart from the parts they recognised, their fear of the foe began to fade away. Game note: As per the house rule, they now had +4" range to the carroccio's 'Hold your Ground' & Immune to Fear effect, making it 22" in range.) The black robed spearmen above the carroccio, who knew little of the foreigner’s gods and had certainly never prayed to them, simply looked down in confusion at the fuss, and wondered why such supposedly fearless warriors would give themselves over to song when there was a battle to fight.


The Duchess's unholy army came on slowly but surely , and apart from the ghostly-hunt out upon the far left flank, only the dragongheist seemed to be in any hurry to reach the foe. Its huge wings flapped but three times, and with little swiftness, yet lifted it sufficiently far to land before the Reman nobility. Upon its arrival, however, it did nothing more than hiss with mean intent. (Game Note: Its 'Death Shriek' had no effect.)


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Still, although its threatening display caused no physical harm, the beast's mere proximity was no easy thing to endure. Only the tiniest scraps of glistening muscle still connected its bones (what remained being as tough as buff-leather armour) and its grey, leathery flesh was also very much an incomplete covering, nevertheless a long, sharp tongue, the colour of dried blood and as whole as that a master butcher might display with pride upon his stall, thrust stiffly between the massive teeth of its gaping maw. The fleshless talons upon the joints of its wings flexed and curled with intent, and every motion it made produced a clackety eruption of sound as bone struck bone along its entire length.


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Much louder was the hate-filled howl delivered by the vampire Adolfo, as if he could barely contain the lust for battle broiling within him. His elite guard made no sound, perhaps heard no sounds either, as they halted a moment, several of their blades glittering with an unworldy green glow. Their master raised his hand to shield the sun from his eyes and so better descry the enemy who had driven him from the city he ruled in both life and undeath, and so shamed him before his beloved mistress the duchess Maria. He believed his devotion to her knew no bounds, and he intended that the enemy would learn this the hard way. And yet, deep down, buried beneath the fury, pride, lust and brutal cunning, there was some part of him that wanted his own unlife never to end, whatever became of the duchess. This was what had allowed him to flee Viadaza as it fell, and was why he could halt here to scrutinize the foe even though he could see several of the duchess' other servants had already advanced much further.


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The hunters and their hounds were the keenest of the undead forces, heading straight towards the Arabyan heavy spearmen, entirely unconcerned by the fall of several of their number.


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Watching their approach, the spearmen's amir simply kept repeating, "Steady ... steady ...!"


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The situation was both reversed and magnified upon the far side of the field, for there it was the living riders, much greater in number, who were rapidly closing the gap between themselves and the foe. Their blaring horns suddenly gave vent to a new, more urgent flurry of notes - the charge - and all three bodies of riders crashed headlong into their skeletal opponents. So many were they, and arrayed so widely, that the arabyans and elves found themselves taking on not two but three regiments of foot soldiers, while the Reman nobility levelled their lances to attack the great and monstrous dragongheist itself!


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Lord Silvano held his own in the subsequent fight, which the elves around him thought was as much as could be expected from such an unblooded youth, and several skeletons were felled by the riders' lances.


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The mercenary Caliph Gedik Mamidous found himself locked in combat against a vampire, and the two of them drew blood (much to the vampire's distraction) but neither could fell the other. His emir and camel riders brought down many skeletons in both the regiments they faced, even the camels breaking several of the enemy into pieces under their heavy, splayed feet. The conjoined impact and heavy casualties so fractured the magical forces animating the undead warriors that thirty more crumbled in the rear ranks! (Game Note: Joint combat of 2 units vs. 3 units won by 10 points, thus 10 extra casualties in each of the skeleton and grave guard regiments!) The Holy Army of Morr had struck what seemed to be a severe blow here on the flank, and the enemy had been significantly sapped of strength. But their charge had been halted, their impetus spent, and now it came to sword blade and lance-butt there was still more work to be done.


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Although General d'Alessio had faced such a beast as the dragon before, at Pontremola, he had to steel himself as he drew close. Perhaps it was a blessing that neither he nor his companions could see the full monstrosity of that which faced them through the slits in their steel vizors? Several lance-points found their marks, and the beast was visibly injured by the attack, even stumbling as if it had momentarily lost its balance.


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Yet, like the camels and elves to their left, their charge alone could not finish off the monster, and now they would have to fight without the driving force gifted by their initial charge, their lance attacks becoming more like prods than piercing thrusts. (Game note: They caused one wound, and 3 more due to combat resolution. So close!)


Crossbows, swivel guns and volley gun all did what they could to harm the approaching blue-skinned brutes, but with little apparent effect. The musketeers were too busy re-loading their extra-ordinarily long-barrelled pieces to contribute their own leaden shot. Captain di Barbiano decided to join the effort and targeted the same body of monstrous zombies, and was left dumbfounded when one of his piece's barrels blew apart and the other sent a round shot into the dirt rather than the foe. His first contribution to battle after all those weeks and weeks of marching, only to find his firepower (and the value of his investments) reduced by half!


On the far right of the Holy Army's line, the maestro's engine continued its trundling movement through the gap in the lines before it.


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In an effort to ensure its path towards the main enemy regiments remained clear, the crossbows atop the hill behind and the pistol-armed dwarf rangers accompanying it, managed to reduce the hunt's hounds down to only two, while the vizier's second attempt to rain magical lightening upon the hunt's riders halved their number in a dramatic explosion of flashes.


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As the spears of blue light manifested in the air around the ghostly riders, the vizier began cackling, but this quickly turned into a more pained sound as he clutched his head and had to be caught by the men at his side before tumbled over. When his hands came away he seemed dazed, yet took his place in the front rank once more. None of his companions thought to question him concerning what had happened - his trembling was proof enough that something had gone awry in his conjurations.


The duchess's army had been visibly harmed, and those who could see it was now allowed themselves to believe that the day really would be theirs - even as the duchess herself led her mounted guard in a charge against the Reman nobility struggling against the dragongheist.


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But then the vampires summoned every scrap of etheric wind they could find to began the work of repairing and strengthening their warriors. Beside the head-hunter's chariot of skulls, fallen skeletons by the dozen began to get back up to their feet ...


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... and so it went on until nearly every undead regiment in the field was almost entirely whole again. The riders, every one of whom had dared to hope that they were only moments away from bursting right through the few soldiers remaining in their way, allowing them to turn upon the vampire duchess's flank and rear to begin the real work of dispatching her army, suddenly found themselves facing regiments almost as strong as they had been when they first entered the field!


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A sickening sense of doubt began to spread through the men, elves and dwarfs of the arch-lector's army. It was not merely fear at the face of the foe, but the soldierly knowledge that if that foe will not even stay dead, then the fight could really only go one way.


Was this the beginning of the end of the arch-lector's holy war?
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#9
The Battle for Ebino, Part Four

As the winged horrors behind the regimented skeletons on the undead right did little more than hop and flap, merely edging toward the middle of the field as if they could not agree between themselves where first to strike, the vampire duchess herself showed no such tardiness and led her undead horsemen in a charge against the Reman nobility. She had sensed her old master's killer, General d'Alessio, among them, and sought to wreak vengeance for what he had done. Her mount's blood-hued barding marked her out, although she radiated such an aura of evil that she would have drawn the attention of every living thing in her proximity whatever she wore.

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At the very moment she and her riders clashed with the Remans, the fight upon the slopes to her right was going badly for the living. Fallen elves, Arabyans and skeletons tumbled together down the hill. Such a hard fight, combined with the recent resurrection of nearly every skeleton they had fought so hard to kill, sapped the resolve of the living warriors and they turned to flee. Both camel and horse-riders outpaced their pedestrian pursuers, with the Caliph Gedik Mamidous leading his own men pell-mell through the Black Guard swordsmen and much further than the elves.

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The Holy Army of Morr's left flank, which only a little while before had seemed all but victorious, was now in disarray. There was a chance the riders might rally, and the swordsmen might find the courage to stand their ground. If also the Reman nobility could maintain their fight against the monstrous dragongheist and if the winged horrors continued their dithering, then perhaps the tables could yet turn again? But this faint hope receded when the Vampire Duchess' blade cut General d'Alessio in two, before he could even lift his own sword to parry. As his horribly mutilated corpse tumbled to the ground in two places, his plate-armoured companions somehow found the courage to maintain their ground in the centre of the field (1), which allowed the Estalian pikemen behind them to advance 'at the charge', the serried ranks of their pike-tips aimed squarely at the osseous riders. In the process, they carried the somewhat flustered Father Biagino along with them.

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So it was that Biagino found himself caught in the midst of massive melee. He flailed his sword almost without thought, his mind wholly intent upon the prayers necessary to summon Morr's blessings. The words came easy, the gestures less so (for obvious reasons), but to no avail. He was lost from Morr's sight. A chill ran through him as he understood that in this moment of dire need, he had been abandoned by the god to whom he had given so much. (2)

As the Elven riders and young Lord Silvano turned to face the enemy once again, the Arabyan swordsmen found the courage to charge the small company of skeletons to their front ...

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... while behind Gedik Mamidous halted his camel riders ordered them to reform as a body.

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(3)

Captain di Barbiano's last surviving gun sent a ball ploughing harmlessly into the ground before the blue-skinned horrors in the midst of the enemy's line ...

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... then enough crossbow bolts and musket bullets found better marks, felling three of them. All this was watched by the arch-lector Calictus, standing alone beside the swivel guns that had been removed from the steam tank, obscured from the enemy's eyes by a wagon of stones sitting beside the incomplete defence-works. He had barely moved since the battle began, and indeed it seemed to those nearby that he was lost in prayerful reverie. In truth, it was fear and doubt that had held him so from the first moment he saw the frightful nature of the foe. There were many among the Holy Army of Morr who still believed the battle could be won, especially as the entire right wing of the army had yet to engage the enemy, including the large mob of indomitable, frenzied fanatics and the pistol-toting veteran dwarfs next to them, while the riders who had fled upon the left had already rallied rather than leaving the field. But his holiness was not reassured by these facts, instead his mind was filled with turmoil. How could such terrors possibly be defeated? Had he tarried too long at Viadaza allowing them to grow too strong? Would the Arabyans, being mercenaries and not servants of Morr, prove willing to fight? Did he send too large a force to assist in the war to the south, thus critically weakening this army? Was he unworthy of holy Morr's blessings? Were his dreams of the last few nights coming true?

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As the priests and dedicates attending the carroccio abandoned their hymns and instead set about mortifying their flesh with flails and cords, conjuring a religious ecstasy of pain to channel the spiritual power of Morr (4), the rather more physical presence of the steam-tank seemed unstoppable as it coursed its way towards the heart of the enemy's line.

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The Arabyan swordsmen, on the other hand, seemed only to contact the enemy for the briefest of moments, before they turned and ran, heading straight towards their commander Gedik, with the skeletons in pursuit.

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Their flight thus hindered, the skeletons soon caught them, bloodily tearing through them and on into the camel riders. Gedik Mamidous thus found himself once again in combat against the aureate-armoured vampire ...

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... but this time he had lost the will to fight, and as two of his riders perished upon ancient blades, he ordered the remainder to flee as they had so often practised. Once more they successfully escaped their pursuers. Gedik had decided enough was enough - he was not going to allow the destruction of his entire company in an unwinnable battle - so he commanded his horn-player to sound the general retreat, then hurtled with his riders through the camp and away from the battle for good.

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Although the arch-lector did not know the meaning of the horn's signal, he could guess. Besides, even if it were not an order to retreat, the caliph's flight could not bode when almost half the army’s strength consisted of Arabyans. Within moments he could see that several companies of desert-men had indeed begun to fall back.

The duchess's foul servants were launching their attacks across their entire front. The winged horrors finally chose their target, beginning an arcing flight towards the Sharlian Riders. Lord Silvano steeled himself, lowering his visor and starting to speak his command to stand their ground, but Captain Presrae suddenly clutched his arm. The elf gestured towards the fleeing Arabyans, saying, "It's over, my lord. Best we go now. Your father would not want to lose another son." Lord Silvano exhaled, his frustration evident, then turned his horse away. Accompanied by the elves, he too left the field, galloping harder and faster than he had ever done so before to keep up with the Sharlian Riders' white steeds. He did not look back.

The elves and Arabyans were not alone, for the dwarfs, facing a charge by the remaining riders of the ghostly hunt, chose that very same moment to leave. They had been ordered to accompany the steam tank, but they could not keep up with in, and now felt that they had been foolishly misemployed, which in turn wounded their pride. Nor could their continued efforts possibly help the steam engine, for it had now stalled as a cloud of viridescent spirits swarmed over and under, through and into it, plunging the crew into a waking nightmare. The crew's screams and the enemy's eerie wailing mingled together just like the engine's vented steam swirled and mixed with the spirits' ethereal vapours. The maestro saw it all from his place on the scaffolding (he had not moved from that vantage point since the engine left), and as the dwarfs fled by he shouted but one word, "Wait!" before leaping down to join them. (5)

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Suddenly it seemed as though a dark cloud had moved over the field of battle, spreading its shadow upon the ground. This was no natural phenomenon, rather it was an emanation from the huge, hellish conglomeration of grisly parts moving at the heart of the duchess's army, and in its absence of light it bore a magical mortification.

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His Holiness the arch-lector himself felt its cold touch deep inside his mortal frame, and was left gasping for air while nearby umpteen musketeers, swivel gunners, pikemen and artillerymen fell lifeless to the ground (to the fearful confusion of their fellows). This curse seemed to fan the winds of dark magic for it was then that every soldier of the pike regiment reeled under the duchess's enchanted gaze, fumbling for their footing as if they were suddenly made drunk. Lord Adolfo felt the surge too, and in his boiling rage, which had grown only greater as the battle grew longer, he garnered more necromantic magic that he could possibly control, so that even as undead riders and horrors were reanimated, the five guards closest to him burst into pieces as the uncontrollable energies spilling from the sides of his spell ripped through them.

Having been distracted, as well as lulled into foolish and false sense of security by the heavy wagon of stones before him, Calictus at last realised the abominable, charnel agglomeration was coming directly at him. Its ever-shifting tangle of parts held a sick fascination, and he could not take his eyes off it. The noise of it, a convoluted choir of grinding shrieks and howls, seemed to be directed at him in particular.

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He could also hear a voice , pathetically faint but alive, and nothing like the pure hatred-made-sound emanating from the mortified monstrosity. It was calling him. "Your Holiness!" And there was snarling too, and more shouting from further away: "Run! Run!"

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The Estalians' pikes had become unnaturally heavy in their hands due to the cruel chill of the lingering shadow-curse, but the foe before them was newly invigorated. All this would combine to bring about their ruin.

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Duchess Maria, despite sitting side saddle and deceptively delicate, slew half a dozen pikemen with her own blade, while her riders hewed down another five and the dragongheist's fangs tore through a knight's neck, removing head, helm and plume with one snap! Held fast by the scrum of armoured men and mounts surrounding him, Biagino could do little more than attempt to stay upon his feet. His sword was lost, though he did not know it, and through gritted teeth he spoke a fragment of prayer over and over: “In Your hands … In Your hands …”

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Unsurprisingly, the pikemen became overwhelmed by panic-fear. They stumbled backwards, slipping and tripping over the dead and dying. One or two yielded to the madness and launched themselves suicidally at the foe, but most dropped their pikes as they attempted to escape. Nearly all were torn to pieces by the duchess and her savage servants. In the midst of the mayhem was Father Biagino, his last worldly moment being the sight and sound of an iron lance punching through the helmeted head of a transfixed soldier, and his final thought so dreadful that there are no words to express it.

More and more of the undead army came on now, including a vast throng of vile, rotten, walking corpses on the left.

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Captain di Barbiano ordered his surviving crewmen to limber his one remaining piece and flee, while both large regiments of Arabyan spearmen, now that word had reached them of General Gedik’s departure, began a surprisingly orderly withdrawal. One of the companies of crossbowmen at least lingered long enough to loose a few shots before their own departure ...

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... while nearly all those with the baggage wagons began hauling their burdens away, given some confidence by the sight of the Arabyan force's disciplined departure. Yet there were some still among the living who had not yet even considered retreat, for they were so filled with an holy lust for battle that they had utterly failed to notice the collapse of the army around them. With Father Antonio and their bell-cart at the fore, the flagellating dedicates' chains clattered and flames sputtered as they at last decided the enemy was close enough to attack.

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Screaming battle cries in the form adulatory prayers to holy Morr, they charged headlong into the last few riders of the ghostly hunt.

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Nought but wisps of etheric essence remained as Morr's holy warriors burst straight through the ghostly riders, then plunged deep and messily into the crowd of un-corpses beyond. The mass of rotting flesh swallowed them up entirely, and even as the flagellants tore foe after foe after foe apart, the vampiric conjurers summoned more and more to forge a huge, hellish heap of tangled, mangled corpses - dying, dead and undead. It was the last anyone ever saw of Father Antonio and his band of scarred brothers.

Almost without thinking, the arch-lector had staggered away from the wagon of stones, but kept turning back to look at the approaching horrors behind. He began prayer after prayer, each time uttering only a few words before sensing its failure and starting a different one. Then came the voice again, "Your Holiness, please! Make haste."

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"What?" said Calictus as the riders at the front of the impossible, floating abomination levelled their spears and the dragongheist's head thrust towards him to release its hideous screech.

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The appalling sound assaulted him body and soul (6), then congealed sufficiently to knock him from his feet.

"Oh dear ..." he began, but then spoke no more, nor ever again.


Game Notes:
(1) Uryens makes a snake eyes break test. This was to be the ‘exception that proved the rule’ regarding his otherwise atrocious dice rolling!
(2) Snake eyes winds of magic roll. There was a certain sort of consistency in Uryens rolling! I've never been a superstitious man, but Uryens was making me so.
(3) This was one of the hardest pictures I have ever had to 'clean up'. My careless players had strewn the tabletop with dice, magic cards, drinks, snacks, and even a hand. Ooooh, if they only knew. (That would require the pair of them to read these notes.) Mind you, I shouldn't complain - in the later picture where the Caliph Gedik Mamidous flees past the tent I had forgotten to put the Reman Morrite emblems on the tent and so it was still showing the Compagnia del Sole's device. That took some work with Microsoft Paint to put right too!
(4)-D3 power dice for the undead player next turn as per the scenario rules.
(5) From what we could make of the steam tank rules, it seemed it was well and truly stuck - unable to move, whilst also unable to harm the spirit hosts. Daz, the undead player, was cackling. I think this is what he had intended from the start!
(6) The Mortice Engine's Ghostly Howl failed to harm the arch-lector, but the Terrorgheist's Death Shriek caused 7 wounds! His holiness managed to ward save 2, but the 5 that got through killed him very dead.
 

Irisado

Ancient Vampire Lord
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
640
#10
This is one of the best battle reports that I have read for a long time. It really is wonderful to see such a well written narrative. This also makes a refreshing change from all the You Tube battle reports which seem to be in vogue these days.

I enjoyed seeing a mercenary/Empire force in action. Tilea and Estalia are very under represented, especially given the lack of an army for the latter, so having such a force on display was an excellent showcase. As both an Empire and Undead player I had a foot in both camps, but not being a fan of the Arch Lector or priest aspect of the Empire so much, I was pleased to see the Vampire army emerge victorious.

It did look promising for the Arch Lector's army to begin with, but the Vampire Counts had too much strength in depth. They obviously needed a female leader to get the job done, in view of their previous defeat :D.

Thanks for the report :).
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#11
Thanks ever so much for the comment. You have cheered me up tremendously - I have a big smile on my face now. Unless someone comments then a writer has no idea whether anyone is actually reading, let alone enjoying, a thread or a post, and it always leaves me wondering whether I really should expend all the effort. (These things are, you can probably guess, a lot of work!)

Coincidentally, notification of your comment came through as I was doing my GM duties wading through the army lists sorting out casualties and current strength, in preparation for an evening moving the game-play part of the campaign on. A lot of e-mails will go out tonight, and I will move things as far as possible, and then when I can move game-world time forward no more (due to the need for replies) I will start painting. This hobby could take up a person's whole life if allowed to do so. Not mine, however - job, young kids, and the rest - and thus the slow moving 'as and when we can' nature of the campaign, which is not helped by my urge to make new scenery and paint new figures for every battle and every story in the campaign. I suppose when I do a thing, even play, I like to really do it!

Thanks again.
 
Last edited:

Irisado

Ancient Vampire Lord
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
640
#12
You're welcome :).

I'm glad that my comments have raised your spirits, and I definitely understand how much work must be involved. This is another reason why I wanted to comment, as all this hard work deserves to be recognised.

I'm looking forward to reading subsequent installments.
 

MasterSpark

Nostalgian
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
4,691
#13
I agree with Irisado, this is a right spectacle to read and behold. I know I've commented on it before but your painting style on the empire troops is so distinct, I always need to take a second look at it when I see it. The undead also look brilliant, of course.
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#14
Most of the undead in this report are the player's figures and his style is acrylics/washes and subtle. My figures look 'odd' 'cos they're enamels, black undercoated, and then painted solidly leaving a black line around everything, with occasional dry brushing just to make things less difficult and time consuming for me!

I'm real glad you like the style of the report. I deliberately play around with unusual words (archaic or used in odd contexts) but because I'm working from my own scribbled pencil notes from the game, and have all the pictures too, the battles kinda write themselves! (Unlike the connecting stories.)
 

padrissimus

Grave Guard
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#15
Nobili Immortale
Sequel to the Battle for Ebino

Biagino could remember almost nothing but dreams, spilling one after the other for what seemed like years on end. Somehow his life had flipped over, turning the waking world into a distant, half-memory, while his sleeping sojourns were experienced and recalled in every detail.

Nearly all the dreams consisted of two particular kinds. The first, the painful ones, were claustrophobic affairs, in which he could barely move, if indeed at all. In these his body ached to every extremity, his skin itched and prickled all over, and he felt hunger that went beyond mere want of food to want of everything, from air to drink, from movement to company. He could sense the fat falling from his bones as his body seemed to consume itself from within. His every muscle was perpetually tensed, while his mouth stayed clenched shut in a grimace. The second kind of dreams were the old, familiar ones, unfolding as they always had done, to reveal or foretell the horrors of the world.

And so Biagino knew he was dreaming now. Indeed, he recognised the dream - it was one of his old recurring nightmares, in which he was surrounded by the living dead, trapped deep within their realm. There was no escape, nor could he hide, and so no relief.

This time, however, it was not a nightmare, and not because he was aware he was dreaming, but simply because it simply it was no longer terrifying. In every other sense the dream was the same: foul hands upon him, their rotten, worm-ridden flesh touching his own; dead-eyes somehow peering at him from dark orbits; the screams of a dying man mingled with the gurgled groans of the undead; his mouth filling with hot blood. All this still happened, but now the hands touching him were doing as he himself had instructed, while the pus filled eyes were those of attentive, obedient servants awaiting his further command. The dying man perished at his own doing, and rather than gagging on the blood he gulped it down hungrily, like a starving man given warm broth.

It was the same dream in every particular, except he was not the same man.

Then something new happened, which had never before been a part of the dream. Someone spoke to him, and it was the voice of a goddess.

“Ah, sweet priest,” she said. “You have awoken from your slumber. I see you have already breakfasted. You must have been so very hungry.”

Biagino forgot his musings concerning the dream, even that it was a dream, and so failed to notice that it was now continuing longer than it had ever done before. He gently pushed the cold hand away that had been placing a stole around his neck …

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… then turned away from his meal, letting him fall to the ground, to look at the speaker. It was the Duchess Maria, more beautiful than he had ever seen her, her flesh as pale as it was flawless, her eyes alight with delightfully playful malice. He smiled, for it filled him with pleasure to look upon her. He remembered the other times he had been in her presence. The memories came flooding back, each one parting to reveal another: as a novice attending the Lector of Miragliano during Lady Anabella’s wedding, when the Duchess was a maid of honour; during his first and second visits to the Ebinan court upon the lector’s business; and in Viadaza when he and Father Gonzalvo had obtained an audience to petition her support for the crusade.

The duchess strode directly over to him, reaching out as she did so, revealing a serpent entwined about her arm.

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When she reached him, she stroked his cheek, and he could feel the flickering, licking tongue of the coiled serpent. Rather than the surprise he should have felt at such strange familiarity from a noblewoman towards a lowly priest, instead he suddenly remembered what was happening.

“I forgot this was a dream,” he said with a smile.

“This is no dream, sweet priest," explained the duchess. "You are awake, and close to being more so now than you have ever been.”

As she spoke, one of the shambling servants handed Biagino a crozier, headed with a crook of solid gold, then staggered back with a groan.

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Upon clutching it he was surprised at how light it was, until realisation dawned and he instead became surprised at his own strength. Lastly, he wondered why it had been given him.

The duchess now laid her hand upon his chest and he could feel the tips of her exquisitely sharp nails. She held his eye, as if to read his thoughts.

“The stick is yours,” she said. “For you are made high-priest today, to rule over the true church.”

Biagino grinned. “Usually my dreams are true, even the strange ones.”

The duchess’s hand slid up fast to grab him by the chin, her nails piercing his flesh as she clutched tightly, while the serpent slithered around his neck to his lick at his other cheek. Barely feeling any pain, Biagino was duly reassured that this must be a dream.

“You are not listening, dear priest,” whispered the duchess, her mouth close to his ear, her breath cold. “This is no dream. It is Morr who sleeps, not us. You need never do so again unless you choose it.”

The first part of what she said made sense to Biagino. Morr was the god of dreams, and so also the god of the dead, who had begun their long and final slumber. But the second part meant little to him.

“The living pray to Morr for help, and he answers them in their dreams,” the duchess continued. "There he can frolic and strut in their make-believe worlds. Yet they foolishly think him powerful in the waking-world too. In this they are wrong. He never wakes. If he could, he would usher all others into his eternal sleep. He is a greedy and jealous god who can never be satisfied.”

Biagino was surprised, for instead of being offended at such blasphemy, it all seemed to make sense. It seemed to be something he had always known. A hat of crimson cloth was now placed upon his head, and the duchess twisted his chin to one side, then the other, as if admiring it. Suddenly she yanked his head to face hers, and kissed him. Her lips were cold, made colder by the fact that his lips were cold too. When she released him she took a step away, her pet snake recoiling itself about her arm.

“We refuse to join such as him in idle slumber,” she said. “We will not allow ourselves to be imprisoned in his oneiric realm, to have him lord it over us. We choose instead not to live yet never to die. We can rest but need never sleep. And we serve a master greater by far, not merely born a god, but who made himself one through power, cunning and the force of his irresistible will.”

“We?” asked Biagino, despite the feeling that the word was indeed somehow right.

“Vampiri,” said the duchess, standing straight. “Nobili immortale, governanti della notte.” Then she smiled and licked some of his blood from her finger tips. “Succhiatori di sangue.”

She gestured to the ground, and Biagino looked down at the dying man lying there. He felt no pity, only satiety. He let his tongue run over his razor sharp fangs. In place of hunger and pain he felt strength and power, and in that moment he seemed, at long last, to awaken.

He knew what he was.

The duchess gestured and one of the servants behind her dragged the dying man away, its hand placed over his face, its fingers curled into his mouth, hauling him like a sack.

Biagino watched without really seeing, for his mind was racing as true understanding suffused into him, gifting a gleefully wicked joy. The urge to laugh was overwhelming, but instead he was surprised to find himself giving vent to a snarling hiss.

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The duchess smiled, almost coyly, then curtseyed. “Your holiness, High Priest of the ever-living god Nagash.”

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Dragonet

Wight King
Joined
Feb 3, 2015
Messages
450
#16
Immersive and enthralling. I hope you continue to enjoy writing these as much as I enjoy reading them, thank you.
 

MasterSpark

Nostalgian
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
4,691
#17
Yeah, the pictures do so much for the storytelling. I'm definitely going to steal that idea for when I want to write any longer pieces. I look forward to see more!
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#18
No undead in this one, but it does follow on from above and so I thought I could/should include it here ...

The Day of Mourning

Part One: Outside the Palazzo Montini, Official Residence of the Arch-lector of Morr

The street was quiet, more so than it should have been, for today the city was to mourn the passing of the arch-lector Calictus II, and as was traditional a procession of high clergy and nobility would make its way through the crowds to the Church of San Jacopo at the gate of the Giardino Reale di Morr. There was no corpse to carry, for Calictus had died in distant defeat, with none remaining to retrieve his remains, and this fact made the day’s holy rites even more important. Prodigious and powerful prayers were necessary to ensure that his holiness’ remains (wherever they were) would lie, quiete et pacifice, undisturbed by foul necromancy, despite not being interred within the blessedly protective boundaries of Morr’s garden.

Despite the absence of a body, there should still have been crowds. Lector Luigi of Verezzo, Calictus’ deputy and now the foremost contender for the office of arch-lector, found himself almost alone outside the palace. Two acolytes attended him, one bearing a holy staff containing a potent collection of ancient relic-fragments, the other a golden chalice. Two palace guards stood a little behind, but the street was otherwise almost deserted.

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He knew that his little company would begin the journey alone, to be joined at the church of Saint Ettore of the Flayed Arm by a much larger procession of Morrite, Myrmidian and Mercopian clergy, as well as the Reman Overlord Domenico Matuzzi and a large muster of nobility clad in dark-hued mourning clothes of velvet and satin. Thus the procession-proper would begin. It was the absence of almost any observers that struck him as odd, for apart from a few wrinkled faces peering from dark windows, the street was almost deserted.

So far, despite his servants fussing about the need to prepare for the holy procession, he had spent the morning distracted by a series of frantic discussions attempting both to assess his rivals for the arch-lector’s seat, as well as lay the ground work for his own bid. The College of Lectors consisted of a somewhat disparate membership, each Lector having his own, unique collection of concerns, loyalties and ambitions. Some of the competition he could dismiss immediately, as for example the Trantian Lector Erkhart. Yes, Erkhart once had considerable influence in Remas as foremost ambassador for the arch-lector, but this did not compensate for the unsavoury facts that his see was in a state of ruin, his absent flock scattered or butchered, and most damagingly his office had been attained in rather dubious (and violent) circumstances involving the convenient deaths of both his predecessor Lector Silvestro Marrufi and his ambassadorial colleague Fra Franco de Pistoni.

A much more challenging candidate was the Viadazan Lector Bernado Ugolini, the highest-ranking clergyman currently active in fighting the war. Although legally all lectors were of equal rank, some were more equal than others. Ordinarily, in more peaceful times, Lector Luigi would definitely have had the advantage, being the previous arch-lector’s deputy, but in this time of war against the church’s own particular enemy, and indeed the most terrifying of foes, then a warrior-lector was surely more appropriate candidate. Luigi might have the edge if Bernado could be painted as merely a soldier with nothing more to offer, but everyone knew the Viadazan to be clever, resourceful, and likable.

Then there was the added difficulty of the other ‘players in the game’, even those who could not themselves become arch-lector. What if the Reman Overlord Domenico Matuzzi, the legal ruler of the secular state, decided he had handed de-facto secular power over to Calictus in particular, rather than to whomsoever held the office? If Matuzzi were publicly to declare a favoured candidate, that alone could sway the lectors’ votes, for they would thus be voting for a man who would maintain the church’s doubled authority. Or what if Matuzzi decided to re-assert his right to rule, in light of Calictus’ failure? The overlord could then claim that Luigi, as Calictus’ deputy, was tarred with the same brush.

Lector Luigi had no idea who Captain-General Scaringella, the field-commander of all Reman forces, would favour. The general was currently marching with the city’s garrison to rendezvous with Lector Bernado and another Reman force, as per the deceased arch-lector's orders. If he was kept busy in the field, thus absent from the city, then Luigi could dismiss these concerns, but if - in light of the defeat in the north - the general chose to return home, then that could upset every plan, unbalancing all that had so far been put in place. Worse still, if the general decided now was the time for martial rule, and proved capable of bringing it about, the whole game could change altogether, as the fate of Remas would lie in the hands of a pompous and proud buffoon whose office was gained through merit of rank rather than any evident ability. The general believed himself to be an expert manipulator and a natural strategist, and in a time of dire emergency, with the arch-lector dead and the overlord dithering, might thus assume he was the obvious answer to Remas’ prayers.

These were just a few of the balls Luigi was juggling. Several times over the centuries an almost unknown lector from a minor state had somehow attained the arch-lectorship. Occasionally, during times of upheaval, even lesser clergy had been thrust onto the throne, for there was no canon law prohibiting such a promotion, only usual practise. Was this current emergency one of those moments in history? The surge in cults, either new or re-invigorated, however understandable in light of the dire threat facing Tilea, was particularly worrying to Luigi. Flagellants and dedicants, sectaries and schismatics, the Disciplinati di Morr and the Carrafians – there was barely a household in Remas unaffected by these movements. For months, Luigi had received daily reports of incidents, including unofficial processions, petty riots, and unlicensed preachers addressing large gatherings and collecting illegal offerings. Heretical pamphlets were so common as to be blowing around the streets like leaves, while the clergy were promoting or joining the unsanctioned cults. The houses of the rich were being plundered for ‘alms and offerings’, regardless of whether the master or mistress of the house wished to make such donations. On one recent occasion, powerfully magical prayers – the like of which should not be accessible to mere street preachers - had whipped a mob into a frenzy so wild that many had torn each other and themselves to pieces, for want of any undead to launch their fury against! Even the graveyards were being disturbed - not by ghouls looking for bones to gnaw upon but by cultists digging up corpses to burn and so prevent them ever being as undead. Such cremation was against all strictures of the church, which allowed only the burning of those corpses that had already been raised from the dead and those who were stubbornly impenitent of their blasphemies and heresies, for in both cases their souls were stained for all time and so forever unwelcome in Morr’s garden.

“Ah, here now,” he said, gesturing to a little group of three lesser clergy approaching. “Look here, Juanito. We shall have an explanation.”

“Yes, my lord,” muttered the rotund cleric bearing the golden chalice.

The new arrivals approached with their hands clasped before them, and bowed respectfully when they halted.

“Well,” said Lector Luigi, too impatient to wait for them to speak. “What is it? What has happened? Why are we not being watched by citizens?”

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The foremost of the little knot of clergy, Brother Balthasar, was wringing his hands, with beads of sweat across his brow. “My lord, the people are … elsewhere.”

“They await the full procession at the Garden?”

“By your leave, my lord, they do not. They attend another gathering.”

Lector Luigi shook his hand as if admonishing a young child. “I have to say that is most irregular, most inappropriate, altogether unworthy.” Then, as if expressing an idle afterthought, he asked, “Pray tell, Brother Balthazar, where are they?”

“They are in the market field by the Parco del Sapienza, listening to Father Aldo Carradalio,” the brother answered.

Luigi’s brow furrowed.“The master of the Reman Disciplinati? What is he saying?”

“I know not, my lord, but he has a small army of guards, and last night he was all that the common folk were talking about.”

Brother Pasquale, standing a little behind Balthazar, suddenly piped up. “My lord, it is said that he would put himself forward as a candidate for the Holy Seat.”

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Lector Luigi laughed, having to straighten his mitre as a consequence. “How can he make such a claim if he refuses to attend the mourning parade of the last arch-lector?”

For a moment there was silence, until Balthazar realised that Brother Pasquale was not going to offer an answer and said, “I think, my lord lector, there is little Carradalio or his followers do or say that is respectful of tradition.”

Then Pasquale did speak. “Carradalio preaches schism at best, heresy at worst. What he proposes is worse than anything Sagrannalo ever commanded. Nothing but Morr is sacred to him.” Here he made the holy gesture of Morr’s protection, then added, “My lord, ought not soldiers be sent to disperse the Disciplinati?”

Lector Luigi clapped both his hands upon his face and began rubbing his eyes as if trying to wake himself up. When his hands fell away he was blinking furiously. Eventually he said, “No, no! We have insufficient soldiers. The Palace Guard are dispersed along the processional route, barely numerous to protect the dignitaries as it is, while General Scaringella has taken the rest.”

“Then, my lord,” asked Balthazar, “what are your orders?”

“I shall have to speak with Cararadalio myself, perhaps tomorrow.” said the lector. “In the meantime, we shall not forget tradition. Morr is honoured by such, and his church made holy by proper practises. Come, brethren, let us join in prayer before we go where we must.”

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Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#19
Part Two: Beside the Parco del Sapienza

The Disciplinati had formed a ring around the wooden platform. Unusually for such lay-brothers many carried crossbows, which they held ready-spanned as they scrutinised the crowd.

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Some among the watching crowd pondered the reason behind the crossbowmen. Was it intended that they would shoot any who approached too close? Or perhaps anyone who made a nuisance of themselves by shouting abuse, complaints or comments of any kind contrary to Father Carradalio’s speech?

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No-one was willing to test these theories, and instead all listened in silence, almost motionless. Most of the guards also stood stock-still, their eyes alone moving to scrutinise the little portion of the encircling crowd before them, while a handful of guards strode menacingly back and forth, as if to better see whoever they suspected of being trouble-causers.

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Nearly all the Disciplinati wore hoods to their robes. Some had not pulled them up, all the better (perhaps) to inspect the multitude before them. Others, however, made use of them, so that their eyes were concealed in shadow to appear even more threatening.

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Immediately beside the platform supporting Father Carradalio stood a brace of torch bearers. Considering the afternoon’s bright sun, their presence had to be symbolic. Of exactly what, time would tell, for Carradalio intended to talk a little of burnings, and had thought it right and proper that the flames should be ready-lit.

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The crowd was kept at a distance that seemed inconvenient for an open air speech, but Father Carradalio was no ordinary speaker. His voice carried impressively far, so much that there had to be magic wound into it. Although several scriptures spoke of holy men who could perform such a feat, it was not something that had been experienced in recent years. Sagrannalo, more than fifty years previously, was the last known to have employed such an holy enchantment. Few listeners were surprised, however, for it was commonly held that the spirit of Sagrannalo was reborn in Carradalio, returned from Morr’s garden to the mortal realm just when he was needed, grown more powerful than before to suit a more dangerous time. The first time, it was said, he had been defeated by Tilea’s own corruption, proving the realm was unworthy of him. Now time again would tell whether the realm was ready for his guidance.

This was Father Carradalio's speech:

“Calictus is dead, his grand army scattered, the abhorrent foe victorious. Remas is threatened with oblivion.

“But know this - a threat is not fate. Defeat is not inevitable. Remas need not be weakened by these losses. We can instead grow stronger. We simply need to do what must be done.

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“Should we perpetuate Calictus's mistakes? Are we forced to repeat his errors? No! But we can learn from them. He strayed from true religion, possessing only a feeble understanding of Morr’s glory, for he was mired in ages-old ignorance, swayed by the scholarly teachings of those who attempt to balance the powers of every lawful god. We must not wallow in such obfuscations, but lift ourselves above all that has gone before, above the murky eminence of other gods, to see Morr’s light, bright and clear. With full faith in Morr we can attain true understanding, becoming stronger than ever before. Morr the Supreme is our destination, our eternal end, the god of gods. He is everything and all we need, now and evermore. Through him, with him, we cannot be defeated.

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“I need not prettify up my words for political gains, nor do I bend them to serve the plans of mortal masters. I serve only Morr, and so need never lie. Neither do I guess, nor gamble, nor grasp at hope. I speak only the truth, and I speak it plainly.

“To serve Morr fully, with all due reverence, our own house must be put in order. All those priests who pander to the nobility, or who play at politics, have lost touch with true faith. They know neither Morr nor those who dwell in his garden. Arch lectors and lectors alike have sought worldly wealth and power, patronised artistic endeavours and lived luxuriously. None of this satisfies Morr.

“The vampires are the dark truth of nobility, for they seek worldly power beyond even death. Robed eternally in silks, wallowing in riches, and ruling their downtrodden servants with a cruelty beyond measure, they are the very epitome of greed, lust and pride. How can we expect to defeat their vile extremity of wickedness while we remain obsessed with our own wealth and power? If we fail to divest ourselves of such yearnings, and prove unwilling to discard all gaudy trappings of wealth, then we become merely pale imitations of the evil that is vampirism. We become as naughty little children faced with wicked monsters.

“Our Tilean lords, in every principality, care not for the people, nor how they might best serve Morr, but rather seek only to squeeze gold from their realms, to conquer new territories and to steal more from their neighbours. In pursuit of such, they are spendthrift with their subject people’s lives, while miserly in the piling up of treasures. How many towns and villages have been plundered by rampaging armies or razed to the ground to deny plunder to the enemy? These wars of spoliation, more suited to brute ogres and bickering greenskins, enrich the rich but weaken the land. In behaving this way, our warrior nobility reveal their true nature as pale imitations of true evil and apprentices to vampirism.

“The poor are forced to watch their children starve, their daughters raped and their sons mustered to fight for some lord's pride and ambition. And what becomes of all this wickedness? Only more wickedness, as Tilea, reeling from her wounds, is now attacked and overwhelmed by the foul undead hordes. And then all the children die, our daughters become vampires’ playthings, and every soldier is transformed into a putrid puppet manipulated by the dark magics of necromancers. We shall all be nothing more than shambling, mindless slaves, cursed never to dwell in peace in Morr’s garden, but to spend eternity lost in the hell between life and death.

“Yet I say to you, if we are willing and able to endure all that must be done, to remain steadfast in the cause, to give ourselves wholly and humbly to Morr, then such horrors shall not be our fate.

“Until now the holy war has been fought by the likes of Sigmarites and Ulricians, dwarfs and elves, even Arabyans - mercenaries all, who would fight for any cause, whether good or bad, if pay were forthcoming. They have grown accustomed to fighting their own kind. This time, however, the enemy is not as a mirror to them, sharing the same goals of wealth, success, power or adventure, but rather a foe of unbounded wickedness, bereft all compassion, contrary to all that is natural and heavenly, set directly against the laws of men and gods. And so the condottieri have failed - their lack of faith their undoing. When faced by the living dead, all lucre loses its promising glitter, all pride pales, and all professed honour and skill is found wanting. How can such dogs of war stand firm in the face of such a foe? They cannot! Their arms and armour, their drilling and postures, their hurried prayers to Myrmidia, Sigmar or some desert devil – all these things are entirely insufficient for the task.

“This war is Morr's war, our war, and it can only be fought by those truly dedicated to him, whose every thought is of him, whose every act is in his service. Who are these saviours, you ask? They are you! All of you! For you shall be warriors of Morr.

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“There are those few among you descended from families of faith, possessing a purity of lineage that makes you his perfect servants, who have been taught from infancy to embrace the truth. You are ready to fight now, your mortal frames ripe to channel Morr’s mighty will. And then there are the rest of you, the vast throng. Perhaps your blood is tainted through no fault of your own? Or your understanding is weakened by false teachings? Or your merits stained by past deeds and thoughts. Yet you too can be made perfect in the eyes of Morr, fashioned into his weapons, by nothing more nor less than scourging yourselves of all weaknesses and doubts, mortifying your flesh until all contrary desires and distractions slough away, relieving yourselves of all material distractions, and focusing your bodies, minds and souls on Morr and Morr alone.

“All those who cannot be so purified must be destroyed, for our purpose is pure and oneness is the very nature of purity. One god, one people, fearlessly striking the foe as one. We must weed out the unworthy not merely to save their souls, but foremost to prepare Tilea for war, by ensuring that only the pure, the tried and tested, remain, and that Morr’s army is a perfectly honed blade. Who can doubt that our deadly justice is in fact a medicine, ordained by both mercy and necessity, for the good of all, be they sinners in peril or the blessed of Morr, be they living or dead? How else can we become the limbs of Morr, by which he can smite his enemies?

“Rank and nobility, offices and preferments, are of no consequence to Morr. Anyone and everyone, no matter their title, must accept the truth, and gold buys nothing from Morr the Supreme. Straying souls must be punished, that they might be purified, and if they cannot perform the correction upon themselves, then they must yield to Dedicati’s attentions. The irredeemably wicked and sinfully weak among us taint Tilea, nor are they welcome in Morr's heavenly garden, so they must burned, just as the undead are burned, for neither are welcome in the afterlife. Purity - regardless of wealth, power and office - is all that matters. It is all that will save Tilea from the approaching evil.

“So I say to you, if you yourself have, or anyone else you know has, committed an error in the faith, then you must come before the inquisitors of the Dedicati di Morr to confess or denounce.

“And I say to you, if you yourself, or anyone else you know, covets the glitter of gold, the gleam of gems and the fangles and baubles of material prosperity, then rid yourself and others of such distractions.

“Tear up both sinful flesh and fancy fripperies. Burn away both evil thoughts and rich distractions.

“In this way we shall cleanse Remas of corruption, cure it of weakness, and so prepare it for the fight to save all that is good. Now more than ever we must nurture the vine that is the church supreme, cutting out all heresies, all vices and all weaknesses from our hearts.

“When we are all made equal before Morr, in humility and purpose, cleansed of wickedness through penitential acts, he will pour his blessings on us. Some will be gifted the strength to fight fearlessly, for they will know that heaven awaits them. Some will become the blessed channels of Morr’s unstoppable power to destroy the undead.

“Made strong together our victory is inevitable, and we shall win salvation for all our souls and the souls of all those who come after.

“All praise and thanksgiving to Supreme Morr!

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“Let the purification begin!”
 

MasterSpark

Nostalgian
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
Nov 26, 2008
Messages
4,691
#20
You certainly can spin a dark story. Is this all part of a campaign or similar you're playing through?
 
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#21
It is my current campaign with 6 players and a lot of NPCs. It's relatively slow moving, but it's been going a few years now and so it's generated quite a tale so far. The very beginning was here: http://warhammer-empire.com/theforum/index.php/topic,46787.0.html. It unfolds from there. I tend only to put directly relevant pieces here (undead stories and battles) but took a risk putting this latest one here as it followed on from the previous battle and stories.
 

Irisado

Ancient Vampire Lord
Staff member
True Blood
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
640
#22
This is excellent. I've read through all the narrative since the battle report and it is so rich and so enjoyable. It's great to have Tilea as a setting, since many campaigns usually focus on the Empire or Bretonnia.

Biagino's fate is certainly dark indeed. It's also very interesting to see the parallels between the Duchess and Father Carradaglio. Both using the powers of speech and persuasion to get what they want in markedly similar ways.

An immensely enjoyable read :).
 

padrissimus

Grave Guard
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#23
Thanks Irisado. Your comment is greatly encouraging. There have been several other story pieces since the ones above, but nothing much to do with the undead. This next one, however, very much is ... and follows on neatly from above. I hope you like it too!
...........................
Media Vita in Morte Sumus
(In the midst of Death we are in Life)

Biagino grinned as he scrutinised the two prisoners before him, an expression of joy somewhat marred by the sharp fangs revealed in doing so, and the malignant gleam of his narrowed eyes.

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They were the only two living people within a mile, yet this did not mean the graveyard was otherwise quiet, what with the fluttering of Biagino’s robes in the breeze and the clinking clatter of bone meeting iron armour – the undead were unquiet.

“I have to say, this is a most pleasant surprise,” Biagino declared, his voice a croaking whisper, yet audible nevertheless. “You are exactly what I was hoping for. More than that,” he added, his dry hiss transforming into something more akin to a growl, “I like you. It will be a pleasure to have your service for a long, long time.”

The men before him were a disparate pair. Both exhibited deep fear, but each in their own, particular way. One, a dedicant of the Disciplinati di Morr, stood in desperate, rigid defiance, determined to die on his feet and so conjure the illusion of courage to the end. Open mouthed, he gulped at the air, like one who had only moments before been drowning. Both his robes and flesh were torn and bloodied, the delicious sight and scent of which stirred up with the smell of his hot, exhaled breath to arouse the ancient hunger in Biagino.

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The other was a lesser priest. He knelt, his tonsured head bowed, wringing his hands tightly together as he stumbled over a prayer, his strained voice nothing more than a suppressed whine. A mortal man would have struggled to discern the words, but Biagino had the acute senses possessed by most vampires and could hear every syllable. Not that he needed to, for he knew the prayer intimately, having spoken if often enough when alive. It was a prayer for protection against evil.

“Júdica Morre nocéntes me,” the priest intoned, forcing the words – along with spittle and blood - through clenched teeth, “expúgna impugnántes me … me … Confundántur et revereántur quaeréntes ánimam meam.”

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Biagino was surprised to feel the prayer’s potency working upon him. There was a sting to the words, a sharpness, as if their very sound was barbed, and the intent they carried scratched against some weakness hidden deep within him. Rather than recoil at the sensation, however, he gave himself up to it, like someone lowering themselves into bath waters a little too hot for comfort, and so turned the feeble curse into a source of stimulation. Quite contrary to its purpose, he was enlivened by it, pricked into an even more present awareness than his ordinary state of being.

“Your faith is palpable,” he said. “I am impressed by the power of it. Such spirit, such strength. I want you to keep these things, only I would have them serve the great Nagash and not your pathetic, sleeping excuse for a god. Morr is not worthy of such passion. It is wasted upon him. I will put your fervour to much better use.”

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Biagino turned his attention to the two robed and hooded thralls standing behind the prisoners. They were the first of his newly made clergy, La Fraternita di Morti Irrequieti. They too were vampires, but begotten in such a way that they were wholly beholden to his will. Their service was so complete that their very thoughts consisted almost entirely of echoes of his own; their minds were almost solely concerned with serving him, with just enough of their own, personal cruelty to revel in their deeds.

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It took only the tiniest of nods to convey his command, and the two thralls began chanting.

“Anima Nagashi, sanctifica me. Corpus Nagashi, salve me. Sanguis Nagashi, inebria me.”

“Yes, we are blessed by him,” said Biagino, and for a moment was tempted to join them in the chant. Instead he looked down at the Morrite priest, who was rocking gently as he continued his own prayer. Biagino chose instead to listen to the priest’s words, having completely forgotten that when alive the confused jumble of sound – rasping breaths, chanting thralls and mumbling priest – would have left him struggling to comprehend any individual part. Now no effort was needed, especially as the words were laced with delicate shards which prickled at his mind.

“Avertántur retrórsum … et ... et … confundántur, co … cogitántes míhi mála.”

“I am not going to wrong thee,” complained Biagino, “but rather make thee right in the eyes of a true god. And I am afraid it is too late to overthrow us, for your battle was fought and lost.” He chuckled. “I am surprised you did not notice. It didn’t escape my notice, as you can see. Why don’t you turn your thoughts to what is to happen now? It is foolishness to dwell on that which has passed, that which cannot be changed. You would do well to accept that which is happening now, and to embrace that which is to come.”

The priest whimpered pathetically …

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… then recommenced his weakening attempt at prayer, “Fíant táamquam pul … táamquam púlvis ante fáciem vénti …. et … et Daemonus Morre coárctans eos.”

Biagino frowned. “Tut tut, good priest. You can see that I am not dust, and you know your prayer cannot make me so. As for the languid demons who serve your god, they are no more able to wake than he. Your prayer is wasted, your power is waned, your god is wanting.”

Biagino brought his staff down to point at the priest, mere inches from his bald pate. “Enough,” he hissed, for the first time allowing anger to brace his words. The priest fell silent, his hands suddenly limp, his shoulders sagging. Biagino had wrapped him in his own curse, unspoken as it was but much more powerful than anything the priest had conjured.
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“Forget all the prayers you have learned. They are ash. Forget all whom you loved. They are lost. Forget all whom you knew. They are doomed. You are to be remade, your flesh refashioned to serve us despite its worldly corruption, and your mind will no more be your own. Oh, and you must learn some new prayers.”

The thralls’ chanting, delivered as if one voice, grew louder. “Aqua lateris Nagashi, lava me. Nagashi, conforta me. O Nagashi, exaudi me.”

“Listen, learn and know. He will wash the flesh from you, and give you strength like you have never known. And your prayers will allow almighty Nagash to drink deep of your soul.”

Biagino smiled, his eyelids part closing as malevolent satisfaction coursed through him. Then he turned his attention to the dedicant. This one would be easier, for not only was the man of a more malleable nature, his raw anger and fear already almost perfectly formed, but he had already made the mistake of looking into Biagino’s eyes. As soon as he did so, Biagino refused to let go, and within moments the man was so entranced that he lost the power to blink, or do anything else for that matter.

Now Biagino joined the thralls’ droning intonation. “Intra tua vulnera absconde me. Ne permittas me separari a te. In hora mortis meae voca me, et custodierit me in aeternum, ut cum servos tuis laudem te in saecula saeculorum.”

There was a moment’s silence. Then Biagino said, “Now, let us all pray together.”

The prayer was repeated, once, twice, thrice. By the fourth repetition both priest and dedicant also intoned. Biagino himself fell quiet, to watch and listen for a little while. When the prayer came to an end, there was silence.

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Then Biagino made the tiniest of gestures with his forefinger. Quicker than any mortal man could manage, the thralls lurched suddenly forwards, arms outstretched, as if they might embrace the two prisoners as old friends.

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Needless to say, that was not their intent.
 
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padrissimus

Grave Guard
Joined
Nov 10, 2007
Messages
233
#24
Tumbleweed. I am beginning to wonder if the Warhammer world I still feel deeply immersed in is fading from all other people's consciousness. I know my version of the world is very much my own 'take' on it, but hey, that's how all these things go.

But yeah, it does seem awfully quiet around here. Or ... the story's so bad it's not worthy of comment. If so, comment - then I can change what and how I do it!
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2015
Messages
31
#25
I haven't read your latest installments, but the story is definitely worth following. I think the problem is Warhammer... It is dying, sadly. I know my immersion is slowly dwindling, as others I've played with has wandered off to other things. I tried getting into t9A, but I can't find the enthusiasm for that project anymore. Luckily (for me!), an old friend prodded me to get back to Necromunda, so that is where I spend my hobby-time now, and loving it.
I still have my models, and probably won't get rid of them, so maybe at some point my Vampires will reemerge to terrorize the night. As for now, they rest and bide their time.

You write excellent stories and present them well. I hope you keep enjoying the hobby, but it is indeed very quiet around here.
 
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