Working with an almost frenzied vigour that few ordinary soldiers or labourers could ever match, the Disciplinati Di Morr’s dedicants had constructed substantial defences for their camp, even in the short time they had available before the Duchess marched out against them.
(Game Note: I allowed the Disciplinati player to put the scenery, including the hills, however he liked within his deployment zone, to represent the fact that his army had chosen the best spot they could find to camp, and had built the defences as they wished.)
Their brace of Reman guns was placed in a bastion-battery atop a steep slope, while the two large regiments of dedicants defended the almost complete stretch of barricades running out from the base of the hill. Maestro da Leoni’s ‘Engine of Light’ had been hauled between the massed dedicants, while Captain Vogel and his professional soldiers waited in the rear, Father Lorenzo amongst them, intending to move up to wherever they were needed. The two small companies of crossbow, one Reman, one Urbiman, flanked the larger foot regiments, each having taken to raised ground to afford themselves a better view.
Barone Pietro Cybo and his small company of light horse waited out to the far left of the army, atop a little hill, having claimed he would look for a chance to outflank the enemy. In truth, the baron had refused to dismount to help defend ‘walls of dirt’ (as he had put it himself) and it was actually pride that had sent him out so far from the rest.
The vampire Duchess Maria, eager to destroy the foe quickly, amassed her army directly in front of the enemy’s defences, intending to march right at them without any fancy manoeuvring.
(Game Note: I commanded the vampire army, now an NPC army since the player left the campaign and the hobby!), and so any deficiencies you might perceive in the duchess’s tactics are down to my not-exactly ‘honed’ wargaming skills!)
Her foot soldiers, being skeletons, crypt horrors and ghouls, formed the right of her army, aiming right at the defended stretch of barricades, while her knights, wraiths and wolves, herself and Bernhardt included, formed the left, hoping to overwhelm the defences at their extremity, burst through and thus ravage the camp’s interior.
Maria wanted her army to assault the foe as one, and so restrained the bodies so that when they did begin to close upon the foe they came up more cohesively than they otherwise would have done. (Game Note: No vanguard moves by either the wolves or wraiths.) Her second, the vampire Bernhardt, rode with the smaller body of mounted soldiers, dropping back slightly to keep an eye on the enemy horse to the right, and if they proved too cowardly to commit, which he suspected might be the case, to espy an opportunity to support the rest of the army as required.
The Morrite dedicants watched the undead army come on, with a calm imbued by a resignation to their fate and a devoted belief that their god Morr favoured them. He had tested them, without doubt, even allowing their worldly father to be cruelly taken from them, but they had proven themselves unshakeable in their faith. Most now fervently believed Morr’s love for them could only have grown stronger.
One regiment fair-bristled with the steel edges and barbed tips of their vicious halberd blades …
… while the other regiment hefted flails, whips and clubs. Both chanted words of devotion which filled them with an ever-growing lust for battle, a blind fury they were ready to release at any moment.
From above, the Reman gunners watched the enemy advance, judging the distances and adjusting the barrels elevation accordingly.
The undead foot, left a little behind by the mounted warriors’ initial advance (having only shank’s nag to transport them), and being a little too far away from the duchess to feel the full strength of her will, suddenly, and quite unnaturally, lurched forwards as she and her necromancer had intended, invigorated by the winds of magic conjured to course through them. In this way they re-aligned themselves with the horse soldiers.
(Game note: Vanhel’s Dance Macabre in action, as planned – it’s quite rare anything I build into an initial plan comes to fruition!)
Maria’s army were coming up fast indeed. Realising that to delay even a moment further could mean he would fail even to distract the enemy as they advanced, never mind harm them, Barone Pietro led his horsemen down the slope to approach from the enemy’s right flank. They were the only part of the army that moved.
The crew of the Luminark, having worked upon their machine almost constantly since it’s shamefully negligible contribution to the assault upon Viadaza, polishing the lenses almost hourly so that not one speck might ingrain itself upon the glass, now prayed fervently for Morr’s blessing as they wound the wheel that would bring the foremost, smallest lens into alignment and so release a beam of burning etheric light. The whole engine bucked as a crackling condensation of energy broiled between the stepped lenses then burst forwards to burn three of Maria’s knightly companions to dust!
But the crew did not notice the enemy riders’ deaths, for once again, in exactly the same manner as had happened in Viadaza, the mizzen lens cracked and, as well as momentarily sapping the breath from them, also sapped all hope that the machine would contribute any further harm to the foe. They had but one such lens left, the least perfect of the three they had begun the journey with for its peripheries were not fully polished, and which would take many an hour to affix correctly to the machine. Two of the crew shed tears at their failure, although within moments their disappointment had turned into fear as they remembered how close the terrible enemy was.
Crossbow bolts brought down a few dire wolves and skeletons …
… then the first round-shot from the guns shattered the entire rear rank of Maria’s knights, and the second broke the rest apart, even brushing Maria as it passed! (Game note, she passed her 4+ ward to survive!) Maria was left alone, with only her ghostly wraiths close by!
End of turn 1