The Buldian relief force arrived just as the last Sermiden was chased away. This new force had no gnoblars accompanying them, consisting only of brute bull warriors with a bruiser in command. Like many ogre regiments of Border Princes’ origins, they wore spiked helmets and gut-plates, carrying huge swords in one hand while their other hands were enclosed in bladed gauntlets of steel.
The bruiser had horns sprouting from both his gut plate and helmet, and he bore two weapons – an ugly, hooked blade and a very hefty iron club adorned with seven conical barbs. He led his company boldly onto the field, as if there were nothing at all to fear. The ogres’ arrival was so sudden, and they moved so quickly, that the young Baron Garoy and his knights, despite waiting with intent for just this occurrence, were taken by surprise, and found themselves unable to deliver their anticipated charge. It did not go unnoticed amongst several knights that the baron had hesitated, if only for the merest moment, and so failed to deliver a prompt enough command. The knights were now forced to turn about if they were to get to grips with the foe.
(Game Note: It was a charge arc issue. I suppose Damo had assumed the ogres would come on closer to the knights, rather than into what had appeared at the start of the game to be a killing ground in front several missile units and engines – at that time an insane place to enter. Now, however, Damo’s missile units had shifted about a bit!)
One brute upon the Buldians’ right flank was shouting something that none among the Brabanzon could understand. When he was answered in the same alien tongue by a shout from the second slaughtermaster with the last surviving garrison bulls, the soldiers knew exactly what was intended – both ogre companies would coordinate their charges to hit the Branbanzon’s spear-armed foot-soldiers from two sides at the same time. The soldiers were only real fighting body on that flank, apart from the momentarily disoriented knights, for all else were archers and the like.
Upon the far right of the ogres’ line the leadbelchers who had first emerged from the defences, despite having noticed the sparsity of surviving ogres elsewhere before the walls, and as yet unaware that the Buldian relief force had arrived, finally decided to risk a charge at the reformed dwarven handgunners. Their effort, however, was somewhat half-hearted, as if they merely wanted to appear willing before they looked instead to their own survival, and as soon as one of them fell to the dwarves’ perfectly executed volley, they turned and fled from the field and the city.
Their initial, apparently aggressive movement was noticed, however, and spurred the lone surviving maneater and the slaughtermaster with the bulls to have a go too. Neither managed to reach the enemy, instead slowing to a halt as they saw the unexpected flight of the leadbelchers to their right. Wurgrut was sufficiently flustered by what was unfolding before him that he fumbled his attempts at summoning a magical maw, losing control of his creation to harm only himself and his own ogres.
Too distracted by the newcomers, the Brabanzon failed to notice the garrison ogres’ discomfort. Baron Garoy finally brought his knights about so that they might deliver a charge, while the Brabanzon spearmen manoeuvred similarly so that they might receive one!
Perette had no intention of being caught in the imminent deadly mayhem, so she glanced around looking for somewhere safer to be. Spotting the brigand archers in the rear …
… she ran towards them – they were the sort of troops who could move quickly, avoiding trouble, which was exactly what she intended herself. She came to a halt between them and a basket carrying mule …
… and immediately set about attempting magic, but her desperate dash had left her distracted too, and her spells failed to manifest materially.
Bolt, bullet and arrow, both large and small, now came bursting from almost every part of the army of Karak Borgo. Granite Breaker’s mighty shot caused the last maneater to vanish in a red haze, and another leadbelcher fell dead, but much of the shooting was panicked and o’er hasty, especially from the Brabanzon, so that only two of the Buldian brutes fell.
The Brabanzon horsemen’s volley also had little noticeable effect, and they now became onlookers from their somewhat removed position before the ragged walls …
… watching as the Buldian brutes smashed into the front of the Brabanzon spearmen while the second slaughtermaster with the last bull hit them in the flank.
The Brabanzon footsoldiers were of good reputation, at least when it came to battle, if not for restraint when it came to plunder and pillage. Every man was a veteran of at least one war, and they were led by no less than their company’s commander, Captain Lodar ‘the Wolf’, with Jean de Salle, the company ensign, by his side. Yet despite all this, despite bracing themselves and presenting a neatly serried array of spear tips, they were not to prevail. Five died from the mere shock of the brutes’ impact, before even one blade had struck a blow. Captain Lodar was hewn in two, from left shoulder to right waist, and six more soldiers were similarly butchered. So smashed and shattered were the remainder, that they broke immediately. When the brutes came on they cut down and crushed umpteen more, so that the fighting heart of the Brabanzon, as well as their leaders, were gone. The Buldian bulls’ pace had hardly been slowed by this butchery, and they crashed into the dwarven crew of one of the bolt throwers.
At last, Baron Garoy and his companions got to deliver the charge they had been yearning for, into the rear of the ogres.
Baron Garoy himself took on the Bruiser, glad of his armour when the ogre’s giant club thudded into his shield and arm, bending the first and numbing the other. It was all he could do to stay mounted. One knight’s lance struck home, and took down a bull, but the ogres had quickly slaughtered the dwarven crewmen and all now turned to face the Baron Garoy’s company. The knights’ charge was over, their impetus spent, and more than one now wondered whether their one real chance had already passed.
Moment’s before, Perette had seen an opportunity – the second slaughtermaster and the last garrison bull were before her, visible through a momentary gap appearing between the Brabanzon and dwarves.
Having caught her breath and regained her composure she could put all her mind to the task. The fireball she conjured singed her comrades on its flight, and upon striking killed the slaughtermaster and send the last Campogrottan garrison bull stumbling, smoking, choking forwards, only to be riddled with bolts from the quarrellers. Some of the bolts’ fletchings caught fire as he fell dead.
More of the of leadbelchers with Wurgrut fell, while he himself watched in addled fascination as one of Granite Breaker’s massive roundshots skipped off the ground before him to fly only an inch above his head. [i](Game note: Failed ‘Look Out Sir, but Ward save passed)[/i] He cursed, then cursed again for good measure, and although he could see there was still some sort of fighting going on to the enemy’s right, he knew to remain would be madness. He had no intention of dying today. He turned, pushing a leadbelcher to the ground to clear the way, and scrabbled over the tumbled masonry into the city.
The Buldian bruiser was grinning as he struck Baron Garoy again, almost exactly as before. This time the baron’s arm broke and the snapped bone inside dislodged from his shoulder. The force of the blow was too much for any human frame. Dropping his sword, his sight lost to him, he began to tumble from his saddle but was caught by the man beside him. Crying, “The Baron is wounded,” another grabbed his lord’s reins to lead him away. “Away” came another shout, which is exactly what the knights did, with the Buldian brutes pursuing.
(Game Note: Apart from the Baron’s ‘death’ – he was not overkilled – not one other wound was unsaved in the combat. The knights lost their break test, but the ogres could not catch them. I know the baron was actually still alive, however, as I rolled on one of the campaign character injury tables, and death was not the result. Only over-killed characters don’t get the option of rolling on the chart.)
This left the Buldian bulls somewhat exposed. None of the garrison were to be seen, and the knights were too fast for them to reach. Longbowmen, brigands, horse archers, cannons and a bolt thrower surrounded them.
Perette’s next attempt at a fireball was of little effect – merely warming the brutes’ backsides as they slowed. She now watched …
… as a storm of missiles lashed against the ogres. Two more of the brutes fell, leaving only three with the bruiser.
The bulls had no real chance of getting to grips with the foe, and they knew it. Any one of the enemy bodies surrounding them could easily move away, meanwhile the rest would whittle them down to nought if given the chance.
(Game Note: Game over, end of turn 6.)
The bruiser growled, hurled his giant club towards the Brabanzon’s little gun, then ordered his men to follow him from the field.
Campogrotta had fallen. This was surely the beginning of the end of the ogres’ tyrannical rule of this northern Tilean realm. Razger had not returned home in time. Should he do so now he would find the dwarves and their mercenaries ready and waiting. Admittedly, the Brabanzon had suffered heavily, so that only their lightest troops remained intact, and had no commander at present to lead them, but the Compagnia del Sole was on its way, reputedly with a force greater than the dwarves’ current army. Considering the ogre forces remaining in the realm of Campogrotta were petty in size and scattered, Razger’s battered army could not hope to prevail.
Perette found herself in the unusual position of being asked by the brigand archers at her side what they should do now. They had personally witnessed her killing of the ogre shaman, and consequently their opinions concerning her had been transformed. As she pondered, Glammerscale joined her and told them the city had fallen, their work was nearly done.
“Just a matter,” he said, “of collecting your portion of the prize.”
He didn’t need to say anything more. The archers ran off, towards the city, along with every other Brabanzon still standing on the field, and as they clambered over the rubble, their shouts and whoops began to reverberate through the streets.
Thanks Damo for commanding the attackers, as you have done for so many NPC armies. You have a detailed tactical understanding that has always eluded me. I am glad you too wanted to keep Perette and Glammerscale alive. And I agree, for some reason I too am more fond of the Brabanzon than the dwarves. What will become of them now that they have become merely a brigade of light missile troops? What will become of the fallen damsel Perette?
And thank you Jamie for allowing us to play a game which might have seemed a foregone conclusion but which in truth, had your relief forces both arrived on turn 2, or even together on turn 3, and had magic gone more your way, and if a few more of the enemy’s machines had misbehaved, this might have been a very destructive battle indeed for the attackers. It is only right, I suppose, that we played the game in which your own realm’s capital city was under attack. I bet everyone is now wondering where Razger is, and what the mysterious wizard lord Niccolo is up to. For now, only you and I know!