Battle of the Swamps: Part 2
Bontanoan gave vent to a high-pitched shriek that every warrior in his army could hear, even those on the far right, and the entire force began to advance. The terradon riders were of course the swiftest amongst them, and they put this quality to good use – flying far out beyond the line with a mind to silence the carronades. Although no-one else in the army had seen such as the carronades before, the pygmies on the reptilian flyer’s backs had made sorties out to the coast where they had espied ships carrying several similar weapons, watching as they belched fire and rocks at other ships. They had also learned that just like Salamanders, these fire spitting tubes needed handlers to encourage them. They intended now to kill those handlers.
The pygmy skirmishers of the Atta tribe moved up as best they could through the jungle trees, following the terradons. In the centre, the salamanders moved forwards while the large regiment of Olobol tribe boar riders expanded their frontage that they might use more spears against the foe (Game Note: Or the player thought to take less hits from the carronades by having less ranks? You decide!)
On the left the two swarms of lizards, snakes, spiders and such like moved towards the massed ranks of zombies, while Bontanoan and his spawn brother also led their regiments forwards to enter the swamp. This might have made the going difficult for many a warrior, but not the pygmies. They were used to such terrain. (Game Note: The pygmies, being counts-as skinks, have the equivalent ‘aquatic’ rule – they just love splashing about in swamps.)
It was now that Bontanoan and his spawn brother began to get the measure of the foe – for their magic failed to harm the enemy at all, instead dissipating even as they attempted to stir it up in to existence. These foul creatures of undeath were (perversely) guarded by a powerful anti-magical force, and its source seemed to be the blue skinned demonic creature on the enemy’s right .
The three salamanders opened their mouths to spit gobbets of liquid flame high into the air, singeing the scurvy dogs some way off in front just enough to kill two. But no-one else in the pygmy army was close enough yet to let loose with their missile weapons, neither javelins nor blowpipes.
Grand Admiral Galdabash had never fought an enemy such as this before. This might have made another commander cautious, but not so Galdabash – he was ruled by his passions, much given to whim, and caution was something he had almost forgotten was even possible. He ordered his army’s advance with a silent thought, for all were bound to his will. He himself (as if to prove his lack of temerity) advanced with his animated hulks right up in front of the twenty poisoned-dart, blowpipe-wielding pygmies. Let them do what they might, he thought, it was surely not enough to save them.
The two zombie regiments at the front shambled as best they could towards the swarms, for want of anything better to do. They were led by three of Galdabash’s fleet captains, undead seamen with a little more wit about them than the rank and file around them, who were already wondering just how they were supposed to dispatch a mass of skittering, flittering creatures using zombie pirates who did nothing quickly.
(Game Note: As the Wh.Dw. Luthor Harkon army list was for 6th ed. rules, then we were employing 6th ed V.C. rules, including brain-dead. I might not do this in future – in a spirit of compliance with the rules, of course, not just to get rid of an annoying limitation.)
The scurvy dogs scuttled backwards in the face of the terradons, trying somehow to get themselves in a position to intercept the flyers and prevent them getting at the brace of carronades.
In the rear, the third body of zombies began moving diagonally across the field, looking for some way to support Galdabash later in the battle, and the undead wyvern flapped and flopped along beside them, its haphazard motion belying the considerable strength and ferocity it could still muster in anger.
Suddenly a red flowered carnivorous plant snapped open two leaves like jaws and swallowed up a zombie. (Game note: We were using the old Lustria book ‘Encounters’ rules, and this had been placed the turn before by my foe!) At almost the same moment quicksand claimed the lives of three of the warriors in Bontanoan’s regiment, while another carnivorous plant lashed out to kill three Pygmy Skirmishers out on the far right of their line. (Game note: Sweet, if rather randomly generated, revenge for the undead!)
Now came the zombies’ first attempt at harming the foe with gunpowder. This proved somewhat disappointing, for both carronades failed to reach the salamanders with their shots (this being the first salvo in what could be described as an artillery duel) while three zombie handgunners tumbled to the ground when their own rusty pieces tore themselves apart instead of the enemy!
Bontanoan did not intend to allow any other warriors to succumb to quicksand, not when there was a foe that needed fighting, so he ordered the regiment to fall back.
As Bontanoan moved away from the enemy, one of his swarms charged into the centremost zombie regiment, and the tiny creatures ranging from the size of insects to that of bloated lizards skittered and leapt about so nimbly that they bewildered their undead foe. The swarm dragged the army standard bearer down before he could even raise his cutlass, while the other fleet captain only managed to kill two little creatures with a thrust of his rusty blade. Three more zombies fell, and thus began a slogging match that would last some time, while slowly but surely more and more dim-witted zombies were dispatched by the fangs, claws, pincers and stings wielded by the swarm.
The salamanders, terradons and rightmost skirmishers of the Atta tribe all moved towards the centre of the field (a necessary move considering the enemy was over on that side). Once again all the spells the jungle dwellers could muster fell foul of the powerful dulling of magic that the foe’s presence caused. Goakitlan could curse in words alone, then give the order for his skirmishers to let loose a hail of forty darts. Both he and they were certain nothing on the gods’ earth could withstand such an attack. Yet only one of the hulks fell while another staggered for a mere moment (5 wounds!). Galdabash and four of his hulks were still coming!
The terradon riders skewered one of the unfortunate zombie handgunners with a javelin as they passed by. They whooped in delight, but their celebrations were cut short by screams coming from the salamander handlers nearby whose fire breathing beasts had accidentally killed two of them, as well as failing to send their fire far enough to reach the zombie regiment ahead.
With all this going on, the terradon riders failed to notice the threat from the razortooth rats (Game Note: The player forgot they were skirmishers with a 360 charge arc!) and were taken by surprise when the very large (5 bases) swarm set upon them. They tried to flee away from the danger but were simply not quick enough, and the rats overwhelmed them, dragged them down and began tearing at their flesh.
Out on the right of Galdabash’s line he himself led his hulks in a charge against the skirmishers in front of him.
They proved rather more fearless than the terradon riders and attempted to fight rather than run, but when their champion was brutally and bloodily torn apart by Galdabash and four more pygmies perished in a similar fashion, the fact that they had managed hurt the foe (4 wounds on the hulks) was not really foremost on their minds and they too fled, managing to get away. Perhaps, unlike the terradons, they had realised only too well what was surely to come and had prepared themselves for exactly this flight?
Galdabash pursued and in so doing ended up caught in the quicksand himself. Being a pirate, however, and thus like the rest of his army not wearing armour, this proved no real danger to him. He simply splashed about a bit whilst staring at the enemy up ahead and conjured images in his mind concerning how he was going to rend them limb from limb!
When the carronades attempted to fire a second time they had a little more success than previously. One did misfire, but the other managed to wing a salamander. Their success was bolstered by the continued efforts of the zombie handgunners, who also wounded a salamander and at the loss of only one of their number this time. Mind you, there were less of them to lose in the first place!
Perhaps things were going Galdabash’s way?