The City of Amon
Northern coast of the Gulf of Medes, Southlands
After his disastrous expedition to Marienburg, the Prince Sadrin al Marwan (nephew of the grand Sultan of Amon) had returned home with little to show for his efforts. He still had a good half of the men he set out with, as well as nearly all the ships, but nothing in the way of immediate profit. There was one thing, though, he had achieved – proof that Amon was willing to assist the city’s merchant houses as an ally and close business partner, earning the city a reputation that would lead to some very favourable trade deals with the Marienburgers for years to come. The Prince, now well past a score years in age and widely expected to be thinking about settling down to take up some of his political responsibilities, nevertheless remained restless, gripped by a yearning for one more adventure: something that would make his name and enrich him at one and the same time; something that might earn his uncle’s everlasting favour and thus ensure his inheritance of the rulership of the great city of Amon. He was tired with merely seeing something of the wide world, and now hoped to see things that other men had not looked upon, to be so blessed with such sights and experiences that he would emerge as a ruler of truly mythical status. Yet these ambitions seemed to be nothing more than fancy … until this particular day.
It was midday and he was sitting in his presence chamber, consulting with his officers concerning the continued existence of the army, their re-equipping, training, pay and such like, even though he had little interest in such affairs while the army served no purpose. His most senior adviser, the wizard Zadra ibn Borhasa, stood to one side, apparently quite bored of such conversation, but it pleased the Prince to have the man attend even if the business was not to his liking! Then came one of his uncle’s most trusted sheikhs, clad in the white robes of a warrior of the desert, who craved an audience. This was granted. The Prince was intrigued to see that the sheikh had with him a scholar of some repute in Amon, a wise man who had once taught the Prince himself concerning foreign tongues.
Bowing low, then indicating the man with an exaggerated gesture of his arm, the sheikh explained his presence,
“Great prince, I have brought this teacher to speak with you of his scholarly findings. I believe what he has to say might be of interest to you.”
The Prince studied the scholar, noting how age had taken its toll since he last saw the man, and how he wore stained travelling clothes as if he had just returned from a journey through the desert.
“I remember you, teacher,” said the prince. “I have no need of more lessons, so tell me, why are you here?”
“Most noble and great Prince, you were always a good student, and you did indeed learn all that I could teach you. Since that time, however, I have busied myself with the study of the lands to the south: the vast green jungles and swamps where lizards walk upon their two hind legs; the high mountains and their forgotten dwarven fastnesses; the long and broad rivers wending their way for many hundreds of leagues before emptying into the ocean.”
The Prince rolled his eyes to the ceiling,
“What care I of swamps and rivers? Of mountain dwarfs? I have no wish to have a lesson in geography from you.”
“Forgive me gracious prince,” the scholar answered calmly, as if he had no idea it could prove dangerous to displease the Prince. “These things were not the true goal of my studies. That, my prince, was the whereabouts of several ancient jungle cities, told of in myth and legend but unknown to any man alive.”
Now this very much intrigued Prince Sadrin, who put down the golden goblet that up until now had been clutched in his left hand, being regularly re-filled by a servant. Ancient legendary cities, he thought, would suit his plans perfectly.
“They have of course been given many names over the centuries,” the scholar continued, “very often – as far as I can ascertain – being renamed by whomsoever found them for want of any knowledge of their true names. Some of the stories one can dismiss as lies, mistranslations of similar or even exactly the same texts, derivative works of fiction or the ravings of madmen. But some, my prince, are worthy reports, and through hard work, good fortune and what skill and attention to details I could bring to the task, I have correlated and combined facts to ascertain verifiable truths which I am certain are …”
“Stop!” said the Prince, bringing a sudden end to the monologue. “Cut to the chase. Have you found one of the cities of gold?”
The scholar nodded, “I have, my prince. Gold in such great quantities that it forms the roofs of temples, being fashioned into spires, canopies, balustraded balconies, and even – if I may be so bold as to suggest – the very paving of the streets. Furthermore, and may this please your excellence, the one such city I have identified is perhaps the largest of a chain of such cities belonging to an ancient and long since extinct civilisation of jungle creatures.”
“Jungle creatures?” asked the wizard Zadra.
“Yes, master – snake-like creatures with thorny excrescences running the length of their limbless bodies, as well as brightly feathered birds of gigantic stature and, I have every reason to believe, purple hued beetles of quite enormous proportions, indeed of a size that would rival the largest of goats, that spurt a glutinous poison from their eyes but which are terrified of iron, rather in the way that they say forest spirits in the north are so frightened of the same black metal.”
The Prince looked at Zadra, then when he saw a smile playing on the wizard’s lips, he laughed.
“Ha! Jungle monsters. I am sure bullet and bolt can lay low any such beetle, and bring down any bird whatever it’s shade, and my war elephants could crush a snake without even knowing what they had done.”
“I am sure they could, great prince,” stammered the scholar.
The Wizard Zadra was the first in the chamber to recognise the implication of the Prince’s words.
“Do you intend to find the city, my prince?”
“Perhaps … if it is possible to take an army there. I am no fool and I know such a place could never be reached and then successfully returned from without great force to drive off not only any jealous guardians but all those enemies that would bar the way.” He then looked at the wizard and asked, “What think you, Zadra?”
Zadra stroked his chin in thought, then (as if this action was not enough to gain full insight) pushed his tall, yellow and black striped hat back a little from his forehead to rub at his temples. Suddenly his fidgeting stopped, and he addressed the scholar.
“Tell me, can you provide the maps and charts that might take us there? Do you know exactly which river to ascend – the latitudes? And then how far to travel. And can you tell us how we might avoid the plague of pirates that are meant to swarm upon those shores?”
“Ah, I cannot, for the map I have fashioned from the accounts of ancient travellers and more recent slavers, shows not the western coast and river mouths, but the mountainous spine of the continent.”
“You would have my army travel so far over land?” asked the Prince, bemused. “I know my desert warriors and their mounts are renowned for their stamina, but I could not expect them to cut their way through swamp and forest for months on end. I am a commander of some experience, having knowledge garnered from campaigns in the real world and not mere forays into dusty tomes and crumbling scrolls. There is more disease prevalent in such jungles and swamp than in the slums in plague time, and much of the no doubt bountiful fruit and berries are surely poisonous. I will not embark upon a fool’s errand.”
“Noble prince, if you would forgive me my boldness, I have discovered that there is a way – a route down the western side of the mountains. I admit, it is most surely now broken in places and in others overgrown, perhaps little more than a path for many leagues, but it takes its course above the jungle, upon the foothills and slopes of the mountains, and is no more difficult, I am sure, than the paths through the desert hills to the east and north of us.”
Now it was the wizard Zadra’s turn to laugh. He was one of the few that could dare to do so in the presence of the Prince; one of those who had grown up with the Prince and shared a familiarity with him that had even included drinking in his company in the taverns and alehouses of a variety of ports in the Old World.
“And why would there be such a convenient road laid out for us?” he asked. “One which would take us in such an easy manner to a fabled city that no-one else has found! This is more preposterous than your tales of poison eyed, purple beetles.”
“I beg your pardon, great Prince,” said the scholar, sounding suitably contrite, “but the road in question is not easily found, for its northern stretch was deliberately destroyed. It was once, in long past times, a dwarven road, leading to their hold of Karak Zorn. I do not claim that the road will be easy – there may well be parts which delve underground and are surely now collapsed; but these could be circumvented, meaning your army should only have to traverse the jungle in short stretches. The road in many places is little more than a marked route, once thought sufficient to serve as a road. Once you are west of the city and have found the streams leading to a particular river, then the course of the great river so formed will take you to the golden realm. That part of the journey will not be easy, but may be made somewhat more feasible if rafts and such like are fashioned to carry your army. Such would surely be needed to bring your army and the gold back.”
The Prince seemed completely lost in thought, but suddenly snapped out of his reverie and spoke to his adviser,
“Zadra, you will go with this man. Llook at his maps and all the evidence he has to make such bold claims. Good sheikh, you shall go too and take your soldiers with you, for I would not have this man harmed by my enemies nor will I allow him reveal what he has said here to anyone else.”
The two men bowed, and then escorted the scholar from the chamber. Prince Sadrin al Marwan picked up his goblet again, drank a deep draught of wine, then let his head fall slowly backwards as he considered all that he might do to better his chances of success. If this city could be found, it would surely sate his need for adventure, and it could enrich him beyond all the rulers in the known world.
The Bent Cutlass Inn
Port of Tabriz Pirates’ Commonwealth
For several weeks Grijalva had been in a good mood, so much so that his customers now had longer tabs than ever before, and none had been threatened into settling their accounts. He spent most days singing and occasionally (to everyone’s surprise) breaking into impromptu jigs, and most nights dreaming of the wealth that would soon be his when the fleet returned. Although he had not sailed with the fleet, he was still due his share, in fact a double share – for with Captain Bartholomeus’ encouragement the Council had unanimously agreed that he should be well rewarded. After all, it was he who had found the golden token around Webbe’s neck, it was he who had recognised it for what it was, and most worthy of all, he had chosen not to keep its existence a secret but had told the council of it immediately.
Even more, Grijalva looked forward to the rewards his true master would surely gift him for having been instrumental in the birth of this enterprise. There was in his mind little doubt that there would be magical artefacts by the chest-full in such an ancient and golden city. Once his master Scholten and the god he served were truly ascendant, then he and the others of the Trusted Six would surely rule Tabriz, and go on to rule much, much more. The world would be his oyster, and he would be so wealthy that even the riches of a fabled city would seem paltry to him. In the meantime, however, he liked the sound of a double share.
Now he sat in his chair in his withdrawing room at the back of the inn, looking once more at his copy of Webbe’s scribbled map, idly pricking at the supposed location of the city with a pin as if by doing so he might somehow urge the fleet on to that same location. His musings, however, were brought to an abrupt end when his servant Goncalo Po came bursting into the room.
“You’d better get yourself out here, master, and quick,” Goncalo said. Grijalva simply frowned at the man. He had heard no racket, no tumult, no shouting, no gunshots, not even the clash of steel. So how could there be trouble? Goncalo Po recognised Grijalva’s frown for what it was.
“It’s Bertrand Le Bourreur,” he explained. “He’s back. He’s heard about the golden city and he demands you speak with him.”
The innkeeper now understood. Captain Bertrand was a member of the Pirate Council and had been admiral of several Tabrizian fleets in the past. He was successful, powerful, lucky – not a man to be kept waiting. And if he had heard of the city of gold, he would be (as any pirate) somewhat miffed that he should miss out on such a rich haul. Grijalva cursed, for such as Captain Bertrand had low cunning enough to turn mere knowledge of the expedition somehow to his own profit and damn all the rest. Worse, he was not one of the six, and with his reputation in the past of fighting as a privateer for the more civilised realms of the north such as Marienburg, it was highly unlikely that he could ever be tempted to join them. Considering these things, Bertrand was a danger, so Grijalva hid the map in his shirt and headed towards the door, a plan already forming in his mind.
He stepped into the tap-room to discover, unsurprisingly, that Bertrand was not alone. He had with him his old bo’s’un Nicolas Bruggeman, carrying the multiple barrelled musket known throughout Tabriz to be deadly (though many an argument had raged over whether it was potentially more deadly to its target or its wielder). Behind him stood one of his younkers, by the looks of him a new recruit – yet even he, clad in but a shirt and breeches, without even stockings or shoes, had an air of threat about him, helped by the fact he was clutching a cocked pistol. The famous Captain Bertrand was dressed as always in a scarlet shirt, his short buff-leather waistcoat and a wide-brimmed hat in the fashion of a Bretonnian sea-farer, matched by his neatly trimmed Bretonnian style moustache and beard. His cutlass was unsheathed, the blade well sharpened and oiled so that it glinted in the light coming through the high windows. To unsheath it was a breach of all normal alehouse etiquette, but Captain Bertrand was not the kind of man to care about rules when he wanted to make a point, and the naked blade was very persuasive.
Considering those he could call on to back him up, Grijalva was not exactly reassured by the odds. Goncalo Po was still in his office, no doubt preparing the blunderbuss so that he would be ready to lend aid should Grijalva call. Apart from this one ‘heavy’, the only other person Grijalva could possibly expect help from was Corine Lagerwerf. She stood over by the large casks of beer, dressed in her yellow bodice, as sultry and confident as ever, hands on hips whilst grinning suggestively at Captain Bertrand. Grijalva knew full well just how dangerous she could be: how often she had ‘disarmed’ enemies of the Six and so allowed them to be dispatched with ease; and how she had used her reputation as a cunning woman to steal away so many supposedly still-born babes from their ignorant mothers in the service of Scholten’s god. But hers was a particular kind of ‘dangerous’, one that did not exactly lend itself to being able to deal with three well-armed and purposeful men. In their current mood they were very unlikely to succumb to her charms.
“Good Captain Bertrand!” began Grijalva. “It’s been so long since you graced my humble inn, nay the entire town, with your presence. I hope fortune has smiled on thee many times since we met last.”
“Not as much as fortune seems to have smiled upon those who were here when Webbe’s gold was found,” said Bertrand.
“Ah, such news carries fast. Aye indeed, but my friend all Tabrizians shall share in the profits – even those here will have their chance at dice and cards to make a tidy sum when the fleet returns.”
Bertrand was smiling, but there was little friendliness in the expression. “I do not intend to wait for them to return. I shall follow them, and have my share at the source.”
“Of course, good captain,” said Grijalva, a hint of sarcasm in his voice. “I should’ve known that a noble Tabrizian such as thee would see it as thy duty to go to the assistance of thy friends.”
The Bretonnian captain’s smile widened. “I knew you would understand. Of course, there is the matter of learning where exactly they have gone. And as you yourself were the first to learn of the secret, then I can safely presume that you have the most perfect knowledge.”
“I ain’t so sure, good captain, that I understand.”
“You are the wellspring through which the secret sprang,” explained Bertrand, somewhat poetically.
Grijlava shook his head. “Nay, you have it wrong. Webbe was closest to the secret, I only discovered he was hiding it.”
“Do not be so modest, master innkeeper. You were there from the start. You heard every word that Webbe spoke. I know you were present at the council when his secret was revealed, and at the meetings afterwards. And he was lodged here with you until they took him aboard ship and set sail. You must know where the city is.” He paused a moment and began to study his blade as if searching for imperfections, then continued. “Aye, you must know. I’d bet your life upon it.”
Grijalva realised the threat was coming before it had even been delivered and had already prepared his reply.
“I shall not shirk from helping a bold captain such as thee. I will do my best and shall ask only a modest recompense of thee for my service.” This last touch was a gamble by Grizalva, an attempt to make his words sound sincere by giving the impression he expected payment for honest information. Apparently, however, Bertrand had not really heard that part, for it was something else which irked him.
“Your best? Have you not a map you can give me?”
Grijalva tried to look as if the thought had not occurred to him. “A map? No, not I. I saw the chart drawn up by Webbe, and heard him tell of the sights to be seen on the way – capes and river mouths and rocks and such like. But I myself have no map.”
“Where is it, then?”
“With the fleet o’ course, as is Webbe.” He put his finger to his mouth as if pondering something. “I s’pose I could draw what I remember for thee.”
“Good enough,” said Bertrand. “Be about the business immediately. I’ve little patience.”
“O’ course, you’d not want to be considered tardy by the fleet. Come, friend, I have paper and ink in my room. I shall fashion thee up a map you can be proud of.”
Grijalva led the way, making sure he called loudly for Goncalo Po even before reaching the threshold saying,
“Goncalo, the good captain and I are to come in. Be so kind as to find us out some paper.”
This was his way of forewarning his servant to put away the blunderbuss. Bruggeman halted outside the door, like a guard keen to ensure those within were not disturbed, but Bertrand and the boy followed Grijalva inside. The innkeeper was soon busy scratching out a fictional piece of coastline upon a sheet of paper, waxing lyrical about the features that might be seen there and how to spot the right river mouth.
Suddenly Captain Bertrand spoke, addressing the young seaman by his side.
“It occurs to me lad that having never been to Tabriz you would not know Goncalo here. Let me introduce him to you, Goncalo is one of our host’s guards – without the likes of him poor Grijalva would be at a considerable disadvantage in this town. His customers, being fellows of a rough disposition, would no doubt take liberties. I intend to take just such a liberty, so please, lad, if you would be so kind.”
Grijalva had ceased both drawing and babbling, his mild confusion turning suddenly into fear. Goncalo on the other hand never got to feel fear. He had not got past confusion when the younker’s pistol ball smashed through his forehead and out the other side, taking much of his brains with it to create a grisly decoration upon the wall surrounding the spot where the ball was became buried.
Very calmly, Bertrand went on, only just loud enough to be heard over the ringing in Grijalva’s ears.
“That’s a pretty map indeed. Not just fancy, but fanciful. I know the western coast of the Southlands, and there is no such stretch as you have committed there to paper. Now, you see from poor Goncalo just how strongly I feel about obtaining the real map. I know you have a copy, for who but a fool would watch a fleet set sail to its potential doom and allow the map to be lost with them? You’re no fool. I suggest you show me the map now, otherwise I might have to see if mine own pistol is as reliable as Adriaan’s, then I’ll have a look around this room myself.”
All thoughts of trying to trick Bertrand had fled Grijalva’s mind. All that was left was a rather large thought concerning how to stay alive. The first part of the answer was obvious – he would have to part with the map. He put his hand down the front of his shirt and pulled it out.
“Wouldst thou believe it?” he said, his pretence at humour failing due to the tremor in his voice. “Here it is. How foolish I must appear … to … to have thought to outwit thee. B-believe me when I say I have learned my lesson well here today. I will from this day hence speak always honest with thee, captain. O’course, I expect no share of thine own profit from the city of gold, for I am ashamed to admit I have no right at all to ask it of thee.”
Captain Bertrand considered this confession suitably contrite, and decided there was no reason to kill the innkeeper. Grijalva had been caught out in a lie to a captain of the council, and his man had suffered for it. Apart from that he had done no wrong. Bertand took the map, bowed a little and left. His lad lingered a moment, looking at the bloody stain on the wall, then he too left. Finally, Bruggeman’s face appeared in the doorway, peeking in. He looked at Goncalo and the wall above him and said,
“All that mess and with just one little bullet. Makes you wonder what would have happened if I had entered with the captain.”
With that he hefted his terrifying piece of personal artillery onto his shoulder and marched away to join the others. Grijalva sat at his desk, trembling. He did not really notice when Corine entered, nor how she crouched beside Goncalo to stare at what had once been his face. Slowly but surely a thought pushed its way to dominate his consciousness – revenge. One day, when Scholten and the Six and the god they served had finally wrested control of Tabriz, he would start his own rule of terror by seeking out Bertrand and making him as afraid as he had been just now. Then it would be Bertrand Le Bourreur’s turn to struggle for excuses to save his life.
The Captain’s Cabin
Aboard Captain Bertrand Le Bourreur’s Ship ‘Sea Drake’, In the Bay of Tabriz
Here is the captain’s table, after he cleared some space to lay down the map for perusal.
I know what you are thinking – uou want a better look at that map. I can hardly blame you for that. But should I show it to you?
The map was drawn by a pilot in Tabriz with a little skill in cartography. He took Webbe Nijman’s description of his river journey and the coast near the river mouth, as well as his account of where exactly the river mouth lay in relation to Hurry By Island, and then combined it with an existing chart of the region to fashion this particular map.
Can you keep a secret?
Oh, go on then. You’ve twisted my arm. Here it is …
The Grand Palace, Inner Quarter, The City of Amon
“What say you, then?” asked the Prince Sadrin al Marwan as soon as the wizard Zadra returned to his presence. “Are the man’s claims true?”
Zadra nodded. “He appears to be not only truthful but correct in his findings.”
“How is it that no-one else has discovered what he has found?”
The wizard smiled, “Oh, they have, your highness. There is every indication that the great Sultan of Lashiek once learned of its existence, not more than a score of years ago, and that he went so far as to send a fleet secretly to find it by the sea route and upriver. No ships returned, and not one man. The whole affair was considered an embarrassment, and so the Sultan declared that the fleet was nothing more than a slaving expedition destined for the coast south of the Gulf of Medes, which was lost in a terrible storm. The Sultan seems also to have had the records of the city destroyed, or hidden, for he jealously wanted no one else to learn of it and perhaps profit by what he could not obtain.”
“But not all records concerning it were destroyed, eh?” suggested the prince.
“You are wise as ever, your highness. Our scholar found works that mentioned the city that even the Sultan did not know of. He also studied all that he could find concerning the Dwarven realm of Karak Zorn, and indeed has evidence that in years gone by it conducted trade with the southern desert tribes. Once and only once, a sheikh was permitted to take a great train of camels and mules south along the dwarfen road, and lucky for us he wrote of his journey. From his words, and those of slavers who have made efforts to learn of the tribes and geography of the eastern jungles closest to the mountains, our scholar has ascertained his route, and from the written words of one very ancient traveller, he has cleverly discovered the location of the golden city in relation to this route.”
“You believe him them?” asked the prince. “You would stake your life on it?”
Zadra grinned, for between the prince and he this was no threat but an old joke. Then he looked more serious. “I believe him, my prince. I cannot say that the route is passable, nor that the dangers upon the way are surmountable. But I believe that the city is there where he claims.”
Prince Sadrin laughed. “Let me worry about how we might get there. If it exists upon this world, then it can be reached. Consider this, how could a city be made that could not be reached by those who made it? We can cut through jungle vines or burn down forests. We can make rafts for swamps and boats for rivers. And we can fight as only the warriors of Amon can fight against all that would stand in our way.”
For the next hour the wizard Zadra had little to do, for the prince busied himself with ordering his commanders and clerks to prepare the army and supplies that would be needed.
Battle of the Southern Valley
Before the Fight
Note: See army lists and scenario rules below
Prince Sadrin’s Army of Amon had been marching now for just over three weeks. Consisting mostly of desert-raised warriors, with the rest being the hardened veteran soldiers of the standing army. They had covered a considerable distance and had already moved from the rocky deserts into the slightly greener foothills of the World’s Edge Mountains. Each day the column would inevitably become more stretched out then when it set off at dawn, but the Prince compensated by making sure that the crucial baggage train, carrying the victuals of the army without which it could not possibly be expected to fight, was not at the rear and that the regiments behind it were ordered not to move ahead of it. Nor were the artillery pieces allowed to tarry at the rear. This way the slowest elements of the column – heavily laden camels and slaves, and horse teams lugging huge guns – could not become completely stranded and thus much more vulnerable to raiders.
Nevertheless, whatever orders were given regarding positions in the column, the events of a day’s march and the varying nature of the troops did mean that during daylight hours the army’s formation could alter. Not that the Prince worried about this, for why concern oneself with things that were impossible to change? Always pragmatic, he simply made sure that he himself rode with his lance armed camel cavalry in the rearguard, thus ensuring he could not miss any troubles that the units in front suffered. Behind him there was only the elephant and the recently raised handgunners, the latter armed in a fashion that made them perfect for signalling (loudly) if any threat presented from the rear.
There had been reports of wolf-riding goblins for the last four days, and although some scaremongers built such sightings up into tales of armies lying in wait in the hills, most of the warriors of Amon thought they were merely members of the scattered and weak bands of marauders who preyed on caravans throughout the region but would surely not be strong enough to attempt an attack upon an army such as theirs. That said, there was still a distinct air of caution as the army marched, and several small companies of light horse had been ordered to act as outriders, to scour the land upon all sides of the column and race back with reports of any potential danger.
The column was approaching a wide valley, where the going would surely be easier for a little while. What the Prince did not know was that he would be fighting a full-scale battle within the hour. The hills upon either side where rocky in places, and patches of soggy mire sat between some of them, but the ground along the middle of the valley was dry enough – whatever river had carved the valley out (if that’s what it was) was long gone. Little water reached the desert from these hills.
Unusually, the limbered mortar led the column, it’s crew having set off with the swordsmen first that morning. Perhaps they had thought that this way, as the army overtook them later, they would still be somewhere in the middle of the coloumn by the end of the day? The Palace Guard spear regiment and its crossbow detachment came next, followed by the large body of slave archers. Both cannons were being hauled together behind those archers, followed by the only unit of light horse remaining with the column and not out attempting to scout. A third large foot regiment, the Desert Spears, marched next, ahead of the baggage, then came Gamouzo’s skirmishing tribal warriors.
Behind all of this, yet even to enter the valley, rode Prince Sadrin and his camel cavalry, followed by the war elephant and the handgunners. The mortar was crewed by city soldiers, men who had recently returned from Marienburg with the Prince, having acquired their artillery piece from that northern realm.
The slave archers in the centre of the column might be thought to be poor soldiers – but not so. Each knew that if they did good service upon this campaign then they would be granted full freedom, and even a chance then to enlist in the Prince’s standing army. In the meantime, they had the same rations as all the other foot soldiers, and they knew that their native skill in archery was sufficient to see them through a battle.
The two cannons were mighty pieces indeed, both also from the northern old world, one with a bronze barrel and the other cast iron. Desert warriors formed the crew of these, having been hastily trained in the art of gunnery before this expedition by the master gunner from one of Amon’s warships.
The baggage train was large, not just because the army was large too, but also because of the long distance the Prince intended to travel. Even so, Prince Sadrin knew full well that his men would have to forage and plunder once they reached the jungles. This did not over-concern him, however, because he knew the lush jungle to be fruitful as well as abundant in flesh, fish and fowl. The wizard Zadra, travelling with Gamouzo looked down upon the baggage in front of him and took its measure. Not that he cared what it was carrying now, rather it was what it could carry back from the city of gold than interested him.
Prince Sadrin’s Army of Amon
(An Empire Army roster – 7th ed. WFB rules – plus some Dogs of War elements)
General: Prince Sadrin al Marwan
Camel (as warhorse), Sword of Justice, Dawn Armor, Holy Relic
Captain: Agha Qilij ad-Din an-Nasawa (Standard Bearer)
Heavy Armour; Battle Standard = Griffon Standard
Battle Wizard: Zadra ibn Borhasa
Level 2; Rod of Power; Sigil of Sigmar
Battle Wizard: Mukri al-Hajib
Level 2; Talisman of Protection, The Silver Horn
25 Spears of the Desert (full command) with 10 [Det] Crossbowmen
25 Spears of the Middle Palace (full command) with 10 [Det] Crossbowmen
25 Royal Guard Swordsmen (full command)
10 Handgunners with musician & marksman
20 Northern Tribe Archers with marksman
Auxiliaries (as DoW ‘Vespero’s Vendetta’ Special Choice):
10 Tribal Warriors
Cavalry, both as rare choices
10 Camel Cavalry (as DoW Heavy Cavalry): (full command), War Banner
10 Desert Riders (as DoW Light Cavalry): (full command)
2 Great Cannons & 1 Mortar
Subtotal = 2462 points
Plus (this is not army list legal like all of the above, but is a ‘flufftastic’ necessity)
War Elephant as Stegadon, without giant bow)
Total = 2697 points
The enemy: Bonemawler’s Greenskin Nomads (2041 pts)
Warboss BoneMawler (General) on Wyvern
Porko’s Pigstikka, Enchanted Shield, Horn of Urgok
Big Boss Erbad (Army Standard Bearer) in Orc Boar Chariot
Gork’s Waaagh! Banner
Big Boss Dufdig in Orc Boar Chariot
Ulags Akk’rit Axe, Nibbla’s ‘Itty Ring
Big Boss Clubcra in Orc Boar Chariot
Shaga’s Screamin’ Sword
7 Goblin Wolf Riders (full command) with Bows
6 Goblin Wolf Riders (full command) with Bows
7 Goblin Wolf Riders (full command) with Spears & Shields
9 Boar Boyz Mob (full command) with Nogg’s Banner of Butchery
8 Boar Boyz Mob (full command)
2 Goblin Wolf Chariots
Scenario rules for Nomadic Greenskins attack on the arab column
The Arabs have 2739 pts compared with the Greenskins 2041 pts, so there is an approx. 700 point advantage to the Arabs. For fairness a scenario is needed. Well, the Greenskins are raiders and robbers by ‘profession’ thus I’ve come up with …
Scenario: “Get them supplies!”
Duration 6 turns
Terrain: Hills, a valley
Arabs deploy as a column (see rules below) perpendicular to enemy. Can put 1/2 to 2/3 of units onto table, remainder count as off table (i.e. to one side). Remainder deploy second turn, arriving on the near half of whichever table side the column rules (below) dictate. Characters deploy at same time as baggage though some can stay off field if they are with the units that arrive on turn 2.
Arabyan Column rules
* Artillery are limbered and take one turn to unlimber and deploy. If remain limbered then move like a chariot but at only 4” movement rate (slightly faster than normal), with no charges (obviously).
* Baggage has to be deployed on the table, either in the middle or at the rear of the column (baggage is never at the front of an advancing army). Thus if baggage is at the front of the part of the column on the table, then the unplaced units are off the table-edge at the column’s front; if the baggage is in the middle or at the rear of the part of the column on the field, then the unplaced units are off table to either side, player deciding at the point he puts the baggage down.
* The arab column deploys in their deployment zone, straight across or diagonal, and must look like an army on the march along a route, the units being arranged in a single file line (not the men, the units.)
Any individual Greenskin unit that (a) contacts the arabs’ baggage and (b) has any members alive (even fleeing) at the end of the game gets 150 VP. They are carrying loot! If the arabs destroy the greenskins’ baggage, they gain 100 VP. The greenskins’ current loot is rubbish.
Greenskin units that flee or move off the table do not count towards the arabs’ VP total. They are in their own realm and can easily escape to reform somewhere else. They always intended to rob then flee so they are doing what they expected to do.
Arab Victory Points
As normal (apart from not gaining VP from enemy who moved off the table for any reason or are fleeing at the end of the game). They need to kill as many greenskins as possible so that they are not harassed during the rest of their journey through this realm.
Battle of the Southern Valley, Part One (Turn 1)
Suddenly a force of greenskin raiders, much larger than any had thought could possibly muster under one leader in such a barren and sparsely populated place, being almost a full Waagh!, came thundering over the hills upon the other side of the valley – threatening the left flank of almost the entire column.
On the greenskins’ far right flank was a huge and monstrous creature, a wyvern, upon which the leader of the raiding force was mounted, Warboss BoneMawler. By his left side was the first of three wolf-rider companies, and then came his three lieutenants (or Big Bosses as the greenskins liked to call them): Dufdig, Erbad and Clubcra. All three were mounted in huge boar chariots which made a sound like thunder as the trundled along. Two companies of boar riders came next in the line, the second being the biggest, meanest orcs in the army. These Big Uns were preceded by the second of the wolfrider companies, and flanked to their left by two wolf-drawn chariots, much lighter than the Big Bosses’ boar chariots. Last (and indeed least) came the third company of wolf-riders, out on the army’s far-left flank.
They took the army of Amon entirely by surprise. Without doubt, they must have overwhelmed and destroyed any scouts who had come close to them, for no report of their approach had been brought to the prince. They had probably chosen the spot very carefully, knowing the land well for it was theirs to know, and thus it was they had managed to get so close and appear ‘out of the blue’ (quite literally) on the horizon of the valley side. Yet some of their surprise was lost by the need to descend down the hill and into the valley, and the arabyans used that time well.
(Game note: the arabyans got first turn, and so could manoeuvre their column into better positions before the Ggeenskins were on them!)
The soldiers of Amon now sounded drum and trumpet, not in alarm but in order to transmit all the necessary signals to wheel, reform and create some sort of semblance of a battle line to meet the enemy. Gamouzo brought his warriors down from the hill towards the baggage train, hoping to provide some defence for the vital supplies. The train itself reformed and slunk back into the dip between two hills, trying to present as small a front as possible to the advancing greenskins. The Desert Spears and their crossbow detachment turned to face the foe, one reforming, the other wheeling so as to bring their numbers to bear. Within the spearmen’s ranks stood the second arab wizard, Mukri al-Hajib, as well as the Agha Qilij ad-Din an-Nasawa, who was the army standard bearer.
The two cannons in the centre hurriedly unlimbered and prepared themselves to fire …
… while the skirmishing archers turned to move towards the enemy, but not so far that they could not employ their bows also. The palace spearmen ended up in front of their detachment of crossbows, due to their haste to get to the foe. Off even further out than them, the swordsmen wheeled about and the mortar also unlimbered like the other artillery pieces.
The light horse, being the fastest, most flexible troops in the line, moved right out towards the enemy, hoping that by doing so they could intercept and somehow slow the foe’s advance. The rest of the army watched in a spirit of awe as these brave riders galloped out far ahead ready to make their lonely stand just to buy the rest of the army time.
The riders were quick off the mark, and loosed a volley of arrows as they rode, causing the first casualties of the day – two goblin wolf-riders. On many occasions this would have been enough to send such cowardly warriors scarpering off in flight, but these goblins thought differently. Perhaps they had spotted the rich prize and that emboldened them to stay a little bit longer even in a place where their comrades had just died? Apart from these two deaths, the arabyans with their magic and shooting could do no further harm to the greenskins in this early stage of the battle.
Apart from the goblin wolf-riders on the far right, none of other greenskins fell to squabbling just yet and all made their way forwards. BoneMawler cursed to himself, however, for he knew that there were more arab soldiers off to the right and he had intended to use the squabbling wolf-riders as a distraction to slow them down. Nevertheless, he himself landed his wyvern in the far right – if the goblins could not counter the enemy’s inevitable flanking move, then he and his monstrous mount would have to try.
The wolf, boar and chariot mounted warriors moved up, each unit starting to wheel so that they aimed straight at the baggage. Every greenskin present wanted that loot. Indeed, they could think of little else!
The greenskins could do nothing with arrows or magic (they had no shamans with them, just a few enchanted baubles), but this did not worry them. With looting in sight, and being creatures of low cunning, their greedy intentions filled their minds almost entirely.
Battle of the Southern Valley Continued (The Rest of the Battle)
The three Big Bosses in their hulking chariots trundled forwards, their drivers’ long whips cracking at the boars’ tough hides. This lashing, though causing little pain, was at least enough to steer them, and the line of the three chariots was unusually neat (and, like the rest of the army, headed directly for the pack camels and mules).
With a huge roar accompanied by the fast beating of kettledrums, the rear of the Arabyan column entered the field of battle.
The handgunners scrambled up the hill and formed into a double line so that they could fire salvos employing every piece down at the foe. The war elephant, closest to the huge wvyern and entirely unafraid of it, perhaps helped by the fact that it towered over the winged serpent, turned to block the war boss’s path. The crew had not thought what they would do if the wyvern simply flew over them, as it so obviously intended to do! Prince Sadrin and his elite regiment of camel riders took up position on the elephant’s right flank, planning to charge at any foe that approached Gamouzo and the tribal warriors bravely standing in front of the baggage.
The light horse in the very centre of the battlefield speedily reformed so that they could launch a cloud of arrows at the wolf riders attempting to run past them. These arrows were joined by twenty more coming from the slave archers, adding up to kill all but two of the goblins. This last pair fled away, and much to the Big Un’s annoyance, their flight put them right in the way of the boar riders’ intended charge into the exposed flank of the light horse. (Game Note: There ought to be an army book rule about this sort of thing – would these orcs have halted a charge because a couple of gobbo’s might have been hurt? I mean really? Then again, as you’ll see soon, they didn’t get in the way in the end!)
Out on the far right of the newly formed Arabyan line the swords and spears did what they could to approach the side of the field where the fighting was to occur. The two wizards now attempted to employ what magic they could, but although they managed first to gift Gamouzo with the strength and ferocity of a lion (Game Note: Bear’s Anger) Zadra then fumbled over the words of his next spell and the resultant wild magic struck him bloodily and collapsed the spell on Gamouzo!
The artillery proved a lot more effective than the wizards. Not the mortar, for it misfired (its crew having been over-hasty in unlimbering and preparing to fire had somehow botched the procedure). It was the cannons who came good. Both sent their iron balls right into the wyvern, a dual blast which tore through its chest to pass through its heart. War Boss BoneMawler now found himself lying on the ground beside his dead mount. As he got to his feet he silently cursed, and vowed vengeance on the Arabyans for what they had done.
As ever with greenskins, even in the midst of battle, arguments have a tendency of breaking out, as one goblin’s muttering annoys another or one orc takes offence at another’s face. Thus it was now, even in sight of the foe and the rich haul of baggage, that the lesser of the two boar riders’ units, and the wolf riders out on the farthest left, chose to squabble amongst themselves instead of advancing. If the wolf riders had not been so distracted, they might have driven the skirmishing archers away, and the boar riders may even have reached Gamouzo. One unit, however, the Big Uns, chose this moment to close on their foe with renewed vigour, and pushed right through the pair of fleeing goblins before them to close nigh upon the horse. (Game note: We decided that in a compulsory move like this, two goblins would not oblige a big unit of Big Un’s to go around and so we just pushed the two goblins out to the side)
When the Big Un’s launched their inevitable charge the light horse chose to flee but they could not outrun the enraged boars and were slaughtered in flight to a man. The Big Un boar riders trampled bloodily over their broken bodies, their momentum barely lessened, and smashed right into the huge block of Desert Spears.
Already the greenskins were reaching the foe. Perhaps even with the wyvern lying dead on the field they could salvage success from this? Bone Mawler moved himself over to the elephant’s flank, not wanting to face a charge from such a monster, while the three Big Boss Chariots advanced once more. The wolf riders on the right flank advanced, perhaps thinking about attempting to aid their War Boss (then again, being goblins, they probably had no such intention.)
The Big Un’s on boars hit the Desert Spears very hard, their boss challenging and fighting the wizard, the rest slaying the army of Amon’s standard bearer Agha Qilij (Game note: That Griffon Standard, if still there, would have saved them from running!) and killing the entire front rank. Although the Arabyan second rank thrust their spears forwards at the orcs, they could not harm them. This was a brutal blow the men of the desert could not withstand, and they broke and fled and were cut down just like the horsemen.
(Turns 3 & 4)
With a roar that could be heard by the swordsmen upon the far side of the field, the war elephant now charged towards Big Boss Erbad’s chariot, a sight so terrifying that Erbad immediately turned and ran. War Boss Bonemawler thanked the orcen gods Gork and Mork that the beast and its crew had ignored him – his own legs would not have carried him to safety like the boars pulling the chariot had done for Erbad!
Frustratingly for Prince Sadrin, he and his heavy camelry could not get through the gap ahead of them, so they could not join in the elephant’s charge. Elsewhere, however, other Arabyans did manage a charge – the Palace Spearmen chasing off a unit of wolf-riders. Neither of these Arabyan charges reached the foe. These greenskins were proving to be not only mobile but slippery too!
As the Arabyan wizards’ magic fizzled and failed, a variety of artillery pieces gave fire. The mortar proved very effective now that it did not misfire, killing three of the orc boar riders who had been squabbling – a turn of events which first snapped them out of their quarrel and then dismayed them so much that they turned and fled! At the same time, one of the canons misfired, but the other tore one of the boar chariots apart, leaving Big Boss Dufdig to continue the battle on foot, just like his master Bone Mawler. Dufdig hefted his magical axe and eyed the elephant off to his right. He needed time to work out exactly what he might do next, not that he was particularly dazed by the sudden destruction of his chariot, rather that his orcen brain was not exactly built for speedy thinking at any time!
The goblin wolf-riders on the far right realised that they could hit the elephant in its flank. Steeling themselves to overcome their fear of its huge size and experiencing a rare surge of boldness, they began to move towards it. Then, holding their spears tips high to aim at the beast’s heavy cloth covered flank, they charged.
The unusually brave goblins did manage to drag one crewman out of the howdah and pierce him with spears as he lay on the ground, but while they did so three of their own number were trampled to death. Belatedly realising the utter foolishness of attempting to attack such a massive monster, the survivors now did what goblins do best and ran away.
Their bravery in charging in the first place had not gone unnoticed. Not wanting to be outdone by a bunch of pathetic goblins several orcs also charged the foe. Bone Mawler, still a little unbalanced by the death of his wyvern, threw himself alone into the camel riders and challenged the prince himself to fight. Big Boss Clubcra, having decided that although there was something frightening about Gamouzo he would not let it stop him, charged headlong into the tribal warriors blocking the way to the baggage.
This proved utterly overhwelming for the southlander skirmishers: the heavy chariot tore four of them down from the impact alone, and more still were gored by the boars. Clubcra smashed Gamouzo’s head in with his Screamin’ Sword, then hacked it completely off for good measure. The last surviving tribal warriors fled along with Zadra the wizard and were ridden down brutally by the chariot. (Zadra lay unconscious but not quite dead amongst their broken bodies.) Clubcra thus found himself in amongst the baggage he and the rest of Bone Mawler’s raiders had lusted after for days. His sword was bloody, his boars enraged, and he was surrounded by loot. He was in greenskin heaven!
Still more charges were being delivered, not least the two goblin chariots who now launched themselves at the Arabyans’ cannons. They might not be as heavy as the orc boar chariots, but this had proved a boon so far, for the foe had failed to notice them and thus had not put a stop to them. One was studded with arrows, yes, but it still had momentum enough to crash into the cannon crew. Between them, these two chariots killed every gunner and crewman. The Arabyans would not be using their guns any more this battle.
To the rear of the greenskins’ line Big Boss Erbad figured it was safe to stop running and turn about to see what was happening. One of the goblin wolf rider units did the same. The orc boar riders and the pair of wolf-riders in the very centre of the field, however, decided that they would go a little further before turning back around, just to make sure no one could reach them.
The Big Un boar riders busied themselves reforming on the rocky ground where they had dispersed the Desert Spears, to face towards the hill that was between them and their real goal – the baggage. Off on the other side of that baggage Bone Mawler and the Prince of Amon were locked in combat, both drawing blood, but Bone Mawler’s rage held and he fought on. The two of them now began a drawn-out combat that would see them busy thrusting, hacking and parrying for some time.
The skirmishing slave archers chose this moment to see if they could chase off the wolf chariots, as they had previously failed to finish them off with their bows. Both chariots fled (the archers charge would have allowed them to reach both), and their voluntary flight took them towards the Arabyan baggage, which was where they wanted to be anyway! The crossbows on the hill managed to rally and reform to face the slowly advancing boar riders, though in truth their hearts were not really set upon facing a charge by a unit of Big Uns that had just chased down an entire regiment and two of their nobles.
As the war elephant wheeled to try and get itself to a position where it might launch a telling charge, the handgunners on the hill took pot shots at Dufdig (who was running around below them on his own). The greenskin gods must have favoured him, for all the bullets all missed. While Dufdig pranced about his fellow Big Boss, Clubcra, easily dispatched the few arabyan slaves willing to try and defend the baggage, and thus rolled his chariot right into the heart of the loot. (Game note: The baggage was counted as a kind of mobile terrain feature, with four models who could be used like a cannon crew to defend it. Now that Clubcra had properly contacted it, then as long as he was alive at the end of the game then he would get the +150 VP bonus for having grabbed some loot.)
For some reason known only to themselves, the spear armed wolf riders now decided they would move towards the Palace Spearmen, as if to threaten them (Animosity @ 6), but then they came to their senses and moved directly away again as far as they could – it was far enough that the spearmen could not possibly reach them in a charge.
(This pic is from just before the wolf-riders’ bizarrely bold turn toward the foe.)
Big Boss Erbad, however, felt a little more reckless and attempted to charge the elephant’s exposed flank with his chariot. He failed, as the beast was just too far away for his lumbering war machine to reach. The Big Un boar riders at the bottom of the hill looked up at the crossbowmen above them …
… and decided to stop faffing about attempting to reform, and instead to get on with the business of battle. They charged, slowed a little by the rocky ground, admittedly, they would still have been able to reach the crossbows if the arabyans had not chosen to flee away (which they did). Still, the boar riders could now see the baggage down below them and some of them were literally salivating at the thought of what they could take.
Behind them one of the wolf chariots slowed its flight as the crew chose to stick around. The other one turned to its left to get away as quickly as possible from the archers behind. This proved a very bad decision for it passed over the rear of the rocky ground just vacated by the boar riders and jolted itself to pieces, tossing its crew down to dash them against the rocks. Far away, next to the greenskin’s own baggage which was behind a hill on the far side of the valley, the other boar riders finally stopped their running and turned to see if anyone was following them. As they stood there, with their own baggage closer to the foe than themselves, they wondered what Bone Mawler might have to say to them later about their lack of contribution to the fighting. What they didn’t know was that Bone Mawler was trying to fight an entire regiment of heavy cavalry and a heroic Arabyan prince to boot – a state of affairs that made it rather unlikely they would have to listen to his complaints that evening.
Not that Bone Mawler was dead yet – he remained locked in combat with the Prince and once again drew royal blood! His fury held a bit longer and he fought on, refusing to accept that against so many his fight must surely prove ultimately futile.
While he fought, Clubcra was rolling his loot-laden chariot through the baggage, and Dufdig was still trying to get away from the war elephant. All in all, the Greenskins were not having too bad a day!
(Turns 5 & 6)
The war elephant tried its best to run down Big Boss Dufdig, but the orc was nimble on his feet and ran out of its reach. The crossbowmen on the hill who had just run from the boar riders rallied, reformed their ranks and re-spanned their bows. Maybe they could make a stand after all? The northern tribe archers, on the other hand, simply got on with the business of shooting and managed to stick an arrow or two into the goblin wolf chariot, merely scratching it a bit. The handgunners on the hill thought they might at least stop Big Boss Clubcra trundling away with his burden of loot, and shot a volley down at him. Once again, their skill (or perhaps the quality of their powder?) proved deficient, for they could not harm him.
(Game Note: Various other units, the swordsmen and the other crossbow detachment now slowed their attempts to cross the field. They couldn’t move quick enough to contribute to the fighting, and so the player got to thinking about table quarter VPs!)
Even though the mortar landed a grenado right on top of the Big Un boar riders it seemed the orcs and their ‘sangliers’ (as the Bretonni would say) were made of tough stuff. Not one was felled by the thunderous blast. War Boss Bone Mawler was not so lucky as his Big Uns, nor as fast as his Big Boss. Finally realising that he could expect only death at the hands of an entire regiment of heavy camel cavalry and their prince, he turned to flee only to be trampled to death immediately by the enemy’s pursuit.
The crew of the last surviving wolf chariot now whooped with glee as their war machine rolled into the midst of the Arabyan baggage. They couldn’t stuff loot into their chariot quick enough!
The Big Un boar riders, finally fully extricated from the rough ground, now tried a second charge at the recently rallied crossbowmen and this time smashed right into them. Nine Arabyans out of the ten died in the next moment, and the boars’ momentum carried them onwards and straight down into the baggage. More whoops of joy sounded, though these a little deeper in tone than the previous squeaky shouts of the goblins, and the while the boars began goring and feasting on camels, the Big Uns grabbed everything of value they could find.
Various other Greenskins were backing off now – knowing that their tribe had done what they had come here to do. Clubcra left in his chariot, while the wolf riders and Dufdig kept moving ahead of the foe. The crew of the war elephant were desperately trying to turn their beast to charge at the plundering wolf chariot, but they could not manage (Out of charge arc!). Instead they thought they might at least prevent Big Boss Erbad in his chariot reaching the baggage and swung the creature around to block him. Big Boss Dufdig was slowing down, chuffed to see that the elephant was no longer chasing him. He was out of breath and stopped for a moment to work out what he could do next. He never did decide, because twenty archers sent a cloud of arrows his way to pierce him from head to toe. He was dead (from one that went into his eye) before he even hit the ground.
Erbad was not going to let an elephant get in the way of his chance to get some loot. Not that he charged the elephant (he was not that daft) instead he just squeezed by it and trundled off into the baggage. (Game Note: This was the fourth and final Greenskin unit to gain the scenario baggage VP – making 600 VP altogether.)
All the remaining Arabyans could do, scattered as they were across the valley, was watch in despair as greedy green hands robbed their baggage and disappeared off into the evening’s gloom.
The Army of Amon’s march south was going to prove a hungry one!
Result: 1060 VP advantage to Greenskins. Solid Victory.
I played the greenskins, though I did describe the army lists and scenario to my opponent and gave him the choice of which side to play. He picked the arabyans. (Thanks Tom, btw, for an excellent game.)
You probably thought that the arabyan deployment was odd, but Tom was trying to make me struggle to deploy appropriately by leaving his baggage placement until last, and with several big gaps it could possibly fit in meant I couldn’t guess which one for certain. This way I was placing my units without knowing where their goal would be! The trouble is he was then left with those big gaps in his line, and units like the Black Swordsmen and Palace Spears were stuck right out on his right flank and unable to get into the battle. Also, I left my orc units ‘til last so that they at least would be close to the baggage.
Oh, and you may have noticed I forgot to employ the Waagh! rule – this is something I do in nearly every game when I play greenskins! It could have helped, but as it was a win anyway, I shouldn’t really complain.
Aboard the Terrible Corsair
Nine miles upriver
Herman Gouma was getting annoyed.
“I’ll have you know I’ve been seeing ‘em all morning,” he insisted, “and I won’t stand for you calling me a liar.”
Stefanus wanted him to be wrong, and was now beginning to realise it was this urge that was making him disbelieve his friend.
“I ain’t saying you’re not seeing something,” he explained. “Just that it’s most likely some monkeys or lizards or some such jungly creatures.”
Herman scowled. “I know the walking dead when I see them. Besides, I recognised one of ‘em.”
Now Stefanus really wanted Herman to be wrong.
“It just doesn’t make sense. I know we’re fighting the current and the tide, and I know the wind is against us and them that are on the oars are tired, but how could anything move through that tangle of green fast enough to keep up with us?”
Herman rolled his eyes.
“How can they move at all? They’re dead! But they do move. What’s a bit of jungle to them when they shouldn’t be walking at all?”
“Give me the glass,” demanded Stefanus. “I’ll look for myself.” He rubbed the end with his shirt sleeve then placed the instrument up to his eye. First he saw just the river water, then the dense greenery came into view. Nothing. “There’s nothing I can see, not even monkeys or birds. How many did …Wait! Wait a moment. Oh! Oh aye. I see something!”
“Told you so,” muttered Herman.
There was movement in amongst the leaves and vines, and a man stepped out almost into full view. His putrid flesh was an awful shade of green and his eyes stared blankly while his mouth hung open. He wore a jerkin of leather over a torn linen shirt. In his hand he clutched a pistol, which he suddenly lifted up to aim out at the Tabrizian fleet of smaller ships and boats making their way upriver. Then he stood, the pistol swaying about as if he was drunk, and gave every appearance of watching.
“I see one, and … I think there’s another behind.”
“Is it Kurt?” asked Herman.
Stefanus took the glass from his eye.
“It was Kurt you saw?”
“Aye, and he didn’t look too well.”
Replacing the glass, Stefanus now began to move it along the river’s edge. More undead appeared, a whole bunch of them: one pointing a rusted blunderbuss, another with an arrow stuck right through his belly!
“Manaan save us! There’s umpteen of ‘em. I reckon the whole army is following us.”
Then he saw another three. The two at the front were just as green as the first he had seen, and behind them, still wearing his blue head scarf, still clutching the huge bone he used to use as a club in fights and almost the same colour he had been when alive, was Kurt. They’d left him on the dunes with a rusted cutlass stuck deep in his back and zombies scrambling over him. Now here he was following them.
“I can see him now.”
“Do you think he’s changed sides, then?” said Herman.
Stefanus was not in the mood for jests.
“D’you think we’ll end up like that?” he asked.
“It’s not what I’ve got planned. I wants a proper share of the gold, then a fine time turning it into hot liquors while I play with the wenches in Tabriz, and when I’m done, I wanna be put into the ground, nice and restful.”
Stefanus listened absently to Herman’s words whilst scanning further along with the glass. Suddenly he gasped, a fearful chill coursing through him as he saw the monstrous face of Grand Admiral Galdabash himself looking straight at him!
“Manaan and all the gods protect me!” he prayed, whipping the glass from his eye. Steadying himself on the gunwhale, he handed the glass back.
“Here, Herman, you keep at if you want. I’m done with looking at the jungle.”