Just as Father Carradalio was about to order his regiment to charge through the broken gate, Brother Vincenzo shouted, “No, Father! They are waiting in strength.” He had seen the undead horse soldiers massed within and knew that if any who entered there would likely be cut down to a man.
Father Carradalio nodded, then pointed at the wall by the gate, commanding, “Ladders. Up!” at which the dedicants rushed to place the ladders and begin their climb.
What resulted was short, but bloody, work, even though neither the priests’ prayers nor Brother Vincenzo’s holy, burning water harmed the foe. Four dedicants collapsed from their own self-punishment, and another four were slain by the ghouls upon the parapet, but Carradalio beheaded two of the foe, Vincenzo another and the dedicants smashed five skulls. The few ghouls left scuttled away and with a leap Carradalio and the first of his dedicants were on the wall.
(Note: See Appendix below for actual ‘in game’ version of this moment!)
The climb was considerably easier for the cultists at the southern wall. As they clambered over …
… they did not yet know that the vampire Lord Adolfo and his ghouls had already defeated the dedicants on the siege tower. All forty were either dead or maimed so badly they could no longer fight (many wounded by their own hands).
Outside the walls the crossbow carrying cultists charged into the flank of the much diminished regiment of skeletons …
… and between them and the Urbimans they cut every last one down. The crossbowmen, realising that the spirit hosts were behind them, moved over the bony remnants to put a better distance between them and a foe they could not hope to harm, while the Urbimans reformed themselves as they realised they could become the spirit hosts’ chosen target.
Behind the Urbimans, the torch-wielding dedicants of the praepositus generalis’ bodyguard manoeuvred as best they could, frustrated in their efforts, knowing that their blessed, burning torches could easily dispatch the spirits if only they could get to them.
(Game note: Home rule – Blessed Torch Flames. Flaming, close combat attacks. Cause Fear in war-beasts, cavalry & chariots. Affect Flammable (p.69 BRB) & Regeneration (p.74 BRB) abilities. Able to wound ethereal creatures.)
While one cannon was being made ready again after its earlier misfire, the other cannon sent a shot that brought down the parapet of the wall where until moments before the duchess had been standing. Four of the grave guard became buried in the rubble, and three more succumbed to the crossbow bolts and light horsemen’s arrows which found their marks much more easily now that there was no wall in the way. The rest of the guards simply stood as they were, entirely bereft of any trepidation concerning whether the wall was about to collapse fully.
At the very moment the leading dedicants upon the captured, southern wall turned towards the door into the tower, it burst open with such force as to rip it off its hinges, and Lord Adolfo, filled with a furious rage, leaped out to tear into them.
He was followed by his ghouls and the fight that ensued was even bloodier than the previous. Adolfo alone killed eleven cultists, while the ghouls cut down another nine. What with another cultist perishing from his own self scourging, it all added up to twenty dead cultists, while only seven of the ghouls had been killed. Of course, the dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr fought on, more and more clambering over the parapet to die almost instantly, even though none now harboured any hope that they might survive.
Father Carradalio, however, and what few warriors were left to his regiment, were doing better, losing only five of their number whilst killing nearly twice as many ghouls. Such was the weakening of the necromantic forces binding the ghouls, that the necromancer with them now succumbed to true death, along with the one or two ghouls remaining.
Just before entering the round tower beside him, Carradalio looked down into the city and his eyes locked with his greatest enemy, the vampire duchess herself.
She was sitting side-saddle upon her red-barded steed, looking deceptively delicate in her posture, but there was nothing but pure evil in her eyes. Carradalio smiled, such was his joy at leading his holy warriors into battle, knowing that Morr was by his side. The duchess snarled and watched through narrowed eyes as the priest stepped through the door out of her sight. He had but three warriors left with him, and his admonitor Brother Vincenzo, yet he still had confidence that victory would be his. Captain Vogel’s elite palace guard were approaching the gate with the Urbiman priest amongst them. The cannons were still booming and every undead warrior outside the city had been killed.
What he did not know, until he got to the top of the tower, was that Adolfo had now slain the entire second regiment of dedicants attacking the southern wall. With a little help from his ghouls (and the enemy themselves) he had obliterated 70 dedicants. All the while he had been reanimating his fallen soldiers so that when he left the wall and hurtled down the street immediately behind, heading towards the duchess, he still had ten ghouls with him.
The spirit hosts passed back through the city walls, intending to attack whatever force attempted to climb the northern wall even as it did so. The duchess now decided that her black knights could surely deal with whatever came through the gate on their own, so she leaped from her mount and made her way into the round tower immediately north of the gate, with a mind to fight her way through whomsoever got in her way and kill the laughing priest. Before she could reach the wall on the southern side of the gate, however, Captain Vogel and the palace guard employed the same ladders Carradalio and the cultists had used to ascend the wall also.
Meanwhile Father Carradalio had reached the round tower’s top …
… and peered over to spy Adolfo loping down the street below. (Game Note: Magic pools 7:4) Feeling Morr’s wrath flow through him, he cast Morr’s Curse upon the vampire (-1S, -1T, -1Ld) followed by Morr’s Glare (on 6,6,6,5!!!), which stung so badly that Adolfo stumbled and almost fell (He had lost 2 of 3 wounds!)
The battered wall occupied by grave guard had been hit several more times and was now on the verge of complete collapse – a man leaning up on it might cause it to topple. Several more skeletons had been killed by crossbow bolts, and the rest of the Holiest Army’s regiments had moved closer to the walls. The Urbimans and a company of crossbowmen were ready to attempt charges to capture more of the walls.
The Duchess Maria had sensed her servant’s anguish at the stinging power of the enemy’s prayers, and it suddenly dawned on her that if she and Adolfo attacked the walls and the tower they could almost certainly cut down all opposition and most likely even the two priests of Morr, but there was a small but real chance she could fail. Adolfo had been weakened and if only one Morrite survived that might be sufficient to finish him. She knew not what other tricks these priests had up their sleeves.
The wall behind her was about to collapse, and Morrites were closing in to capture several other sections. She had sent most of her army’s fighting strength away with Biagino, and this guard force she had kept here in Viadaza had proved too weak (if only just) to defend against these cultists. The enemy’s dead were piled high, yet still they came on in frenzied fury – fearing neither death nor undeath, and they fought to the last. If but one remained he would run at her, not away.
Maria loved her undeath, so much she wanted it to last forever. This would not happen if she took needless risks. She made her decision quickly and gave the command immediately.
All her servants heard her, for they were beholden to her will, and could sense her very thoughts. The Black Knights galloped down the high street from the Eastgate …
… while Adolfo led his ghouls down another parallel street – in fact, it was the very same street he had fled down the previous year when the Arch-Lector of Remas had attacked Viadaza. The irony was lost on him.
The rest of her army, the duchess included, slipped away through interconnected cellars and attics, crossing vestibules and arches, down passages and alleyways, towards the waterfront where boats awaited them.
Once again, the undead had yielded Viadaza to a Reman led army. But the duchess was far from defeated, merely inconvenienced. She would raise more servants wheresoever she went and destroy this foe in her own good time.
Their losses in this battle would be much, much harder to replace.
Game Over. End of turn 6 (Turn 7 conceded)
The Duchess’s player, Daz, had already lost a PC (the vampire Duke of Miragliano) much earlier in the campaign, and he went through several seasons of difficulties and struggles to gain control of the realm and its armies for his new character, the duchess. He was not willing to take the risk, and decided to do the cool-headed, strategic thing and get away alive. Well … undead, anyway! I told him I thought the duchess or Adolfo would most likely kill Father Carradalio (another player’s PC, although that player lives so far away he has volunteer susbtiture players commanding his army on the field) if they went for it. But he knew there was a chance the duchess might perish, or Adolfo, and that even if they didn’t, then by the victory conditions he could still lose the battle, which could mean much greater ignominy (maybe even capture, which would of course mean death!) That’s why Daz decided in turn 6b to ‘get out of there!’
The Luminark channelled an extra dispel die, as did the magical finger bone carried by the Urbiman priest, which meant, along with just one 6 rolled by the three priests, on several turns the Holiest Army had +3 dispel dice!
As the Holiest Army had won their casualty recovery was as good as the rules allow. 1/3 of all destroyed units’ models are recovered, and half of any models lost to units remaining on the field. After applying the recovery rules, they went from 170 flagellant cultists to 109. If they had lost, they would have been almost obliterated. As it is they can still field a good fighting force, perhaps organising the cultists into two 40 strong hordes and a couple of smaller companies (the torch wielding bodyguard and a crossbow company?) They still have the Luminark, or ‘cannone luminosa’, and I reckon I can allow them to have a spare lens tucked away in the baggage for repairs. They have cannons, and mercenaries, and light horse. Father Carradalio still has an army. I’ll have to remove ‘The End is Nigh’ rule from the companies of crossbow and bodyguard because, basically, it is a SILLY rule for such small units.
The picture of Carradalio on the wall was posed after the battle, and actually shows (for artistic effect – forgive me!) more men than he really had. He was in truth down to three cultists and Vincenzo. Here’s the original ‘in game’ photograph showing the moment Carradalio climbed onto the wall …
I had already added the sky and begun editing out the models’ bases but then two things occurred to me …
1. I didn’t like how out-of-focus the pic was. I don’t really have time to check the quality whilst refereeing games and had forgotten to take several pics (my usual technique for important moments).
2. How the heck did the standard bearer locked into a pillory manage to climb a ladder and get over the wall? Frenzy sure makes men do some crazy things, but surely not the impossible?
Now, I have painting to do for the next battle – new figures and scenery and modifying old figures. I have two players arranged, just need a third for an NPC force. Game in two weeks! I also have my GM duties re: the aftermath of this battle, and other unfolding events. Good job I love this hobby!