This to be sent to all the legitimate and honourable rulers of Tilea, for their better understanding of the foul Treachery performed at Verezzo this Autumn of the Year IC 2403 and furthermore so they may know how the Lord of Pavona, His Grace Duke Guidobaldo Gondi, has offered his help and protection to all the citizens of that realm in their time of dire need and great sorrow.
Upon returning from Remas and having learned from his subjects of the discovery of the remains of a camp near unto Scozzese, the Duke rode post-haste from the security of his ancient and noble city of Pavona with his gentlemen at arms in order to investigate. It was quickly apparent that goblins had indeed utilised the camp in question, without a doubt the same force that held Scozzese to ransom by threat of destruction whilst the noble duke was abroad leading the pursuit of the tyrant Boulderguts. Keen to exact retribution for their actions, and to cleanse Tilea of their kind so that no more realms might suffer at their foul hands, and without a care for the meagre size of his own force, Duke Guidobaldo rode forthwith in pursuit.
The trail led unto the realm of Verezzo, and when Duke Guidobaldo’s outriders reported encountering several many citizens fleeing from the realm, the noble lord of Pavona feared that the goblins had already set upon this realm in a similar manner, perhaps this time employing the violence they had threatened against defenceless Scozzese. Upon questioning the Verezzan citizens, however, it became clear that a quite different crime had been perpetrated.
Here is the full and horrible nature of the account Duke received.
A force, clad in the blue and white livery and flying the colours of Portomaggiore, had arrived at the outlying estates to the north of the city of Verezzo to announce they were there to take the supplies promised by Lord Lucca Vescussi. They claimed Lord Lucca was still with the grand alliance army near Trantio, engaged in the war against the vampires, but that his orders were clear – that the army of Portomaggiore was permitted by his command to take all it needed for its sustenance during this time of war, in return for the protection it was providing the realm. The citizens complained that they themselves had been given no instructions to give anything at all to the Portomaggiorans, only that they should provide the army of the VMC with the supplies stockpiled for that very purpose, which indeed they had done only two weeks previously, and furthermore the Lord Lucca had already returned to their realm a week before. The soldiers scoffed at these claims, redoubled their demands, and then began violently plundering everything of worth and value they could lay their brutal hands upon.
News quickly reached Lord Lucca, ruler of Verezzo, who gathered what little force remained in his realm after his considerable contribution to the army of the Grand Alliance and rode out to face the robbers in battle.
As well as his riders, being light horsemen from a wild region of the Border Princes who had served him for many a year and were glad to dwell in a more civilised land, he had a company of crossbowmen, stout citizen militia all, and the one gun remaining in his small arsenal, being an ancient piece kept serviceable despite its archaic nature. He also sent word to the halfling soldiers remaining in Terrene that they should move as rapidly as possible to support his small force.
Upon arriving, he found a not inconsiderable force of what appeared to be Portomaggiorans arrayed before him, including a large body of brigand-bravi flying the personal banner of Lord Alessio Falconi – presumably a part of Falconi’s not inconsiderable household forces …
… as well as a body of mercenary crossbowmen, apparently Arabyan (perhaps a remnant of Gedik Mamidous’ Sons of the Desert left behind in Tilea?) The latter, by their very nature, might be expected to behave in such a manner, but then Lord Lucca saw, to his horror, that among the robbers was a body of mounted men-at-arms, liveried in the blue and white of Portomaggiore, well-armed, armoured and mounted upon horses of quality.
That gentlemen might stoop to such wicked and ignoble action was offensive to Lord Lucca, as it subsequently seemed indeed to Duke Guidobaldo when he first heard the report. If only our two realms, Pavona and Portomaggiore, had been granted differing liveries by history? Here was an action that demeaned the colours blue and white. Only pride, well earned, prevented our Duke from declaring then and there that he would change the livery of his own soldiers, for he knew full well that if any should change, it ought to be the Portomaggiorans, for it was they by their own actions (or so it seemed at that time) who had disgraced their livery.
Lord Lucca’s crossbowmen came on as best they could, to support the fast-moving lord and his body of light horse …
… but the Arabyans cut down many of them before they could even span their weapons. In return, the old cannon felled two of the enemy’s heavy horsemen, their armour as butter to a ball of iron, no matter how old the piece that hurled it!
Knowing he and his light horse could not hope to prevail in direct combat against such armoured riders as the enemy possessed, Lord Lucca led his men in a merry dance against the foe, adding their own short-bow arrows to the quarrels and round-shot of the rest of his force, buying time so that when the halflings arrived, led by the famous ‘Pettirosso’ himself, Roberto Cappuccio, the battle was still yet to be decided.
More of the enemy’s riders fell as the halfling’s proved their skill at archery, and while the regular archers of Terrene engaged in an exchange of arrows with the Arabyans …
… the bravi carrying Lord Alessio’s banner were badly stung by the Verezzan crossbowmen and turned to flee! The halflings, made bold by their successes, advanced, only to be severely mauled by the piercing power of the Arabyans’ quarrels. Faltering, they could only watch with horror as the enemy’s mounted men at arms charged and destroyed the Verezzan crossbowmen. Just when the old cannon was needed, when the enemy had revealed the flank of their body to its muzzle, it failed to fire. The desperate crew managed to make it ready again and it did successfully fire, but its ball overshot the foe. The men at arms, perhaps angered by what it had done to them earlier in the fight, now charged the cannon itself and mercilessly cut down the crew.
Lord Lucca, seeing his crossbowmen and artillery piece destroyed, and his brave halflings falling upon the flank, suddenly saw an opportunity to inflict hurt and charged the bravi who had rallied and reformed close enough for him to reach. Once again they fled, as soon as he launched his charge, and he soon realised his error, for in attempting to close upon the foe he had opened his riders to a charge from the enemy’s remaining mounted men at arms.
His pursuit faltered as he attempted to regain order, then turned to flight when the enemy did indeed come thundering towards him. He and his light horse, who would normally have easily outstripped such a heavily armoured foe, where so disordered by casualties, and his attempt to stop their charge against the bravi, that they could not escape, and to a man, the noble Lord Lucca included, they were hacked down and trampled into the dirt.
And so Lord Lucca was killed, in an act of foul treachery, whilst fighting to save his citizens from thieves and murderers.
Made furious by what he had heard, Duke Guidobaldo rode immediately onwards in the hope of closing with the supposed Portomaggiorans himself, but they had fled away quickly, proving themselves to be base cowards, and he found only one of them remaining, a fool who could barely stand for having drunk too much of that which his comrades had looted. When this man was questioned, the truth was revealed, and it was no less horrible than that which had been believed before.
The looters were not Portomaggiorans at all, but rather had deliberately disguised themselves as such. They were hired-soldiers of the VMC, who had most likely been sent thither to stir up dissension between Tilean states by their cruel actions, and at the same time to take more than that which had been agreed. Northerners are well known for their grasping greed, being in many ways no better than Sartosan pirates, only dressing up most of their robberies as trade, with papers, tickets and receipts to mask its true nature.
Here they had gone one terrible step further, for they had dressed themselves as Portomaggiorans, even unto carrying Lord Alessio’s banner, so that they might rob the Verezzans, despite having declared themselves to be allies of both states and willing to march north to assist them against brutes and vampires. In truth, they had come, as they came last year to Camponeffro in the realm of Raverno, to raze and plunder, rape and murder.
Either that, or the officers of the VMC had already lost control of a significant portion of their mercenary forces? Perhaps their obsession with profit had led them to cut corners and hire scum little better than corsairs and outlawed bravi?
Whatever the truth, whatever the VMC soldiers’ motivations, Duke Guidobaldo knew that he could not leave the citizens of Verezzo leaderless and without military protection. Not only would they be open to further abuses at the hands of possibly rogue VMC soldiery, but also in this time of war against vampires, brutes and even scavenging goblins, they might suffer at the hands of a multitude of others. He also knew that after the ravaging of his own realm, the battering of his own army, and the fact that his son was fighting with the grand alliance in command of most of Pavona’s soldiery, that he had entirely insufficient forces to guard both Pavona and Verezzo effectively, and so he has offered the citizens shelter in his own realm, being welcome to settle in the ruined villages and towns left in the wake of Boulderguts’ rampage, thus re-populating those settlements.
Furthermore, Duke Guidobaldo even has in his possession a letter from Lord Vescucci in which the Verezzan ruler proposed that the two of them ought to lay aside all past grievances so that they might more effectively support each other in the mutual defence of their realms in this time of emergency. Having received this touched the Duke’s heart, especially as Lord Lucca most likely lay dead before the Duke even read his word. And his sadness was magnified by the plight of the poor people of Verezzo.
So it is that right now the people of Verezzo, their goods and chattels, their livestock and servants, are being encouraged to travel to the safety of Pavona, so that they might both survive and prosper under the protective care of Duke Guidobaldo.
All praise be given to the great god Morr, whose embrace will comfort us through the long aeons after our lives, for his working through his servant, Duke Guidobaldo Gondi, to ensure the people are so comforted even before they part this mortal coil.
We played the battle, but I decided to recreate more artistic pics of certain moments and units rather than use the in-game pics. Instead I used the in-game pics as memory aids to help me set up the ‘arty’ pictures and to write the story of the fight. I laying casualties down etc before photographing = so that the pics told me what happened rather than the scribbled notes I usually faff about with. This technique helped me to play the game without too many distractions. (I played the NPC Verezzans.)
Also, we decided that as it was a small game (approx. 1000pts vs. approx. 750 pts) and because we had the time available (zipping through the turns with so few units and no magic) that we would play to the obvious end of the battle. As a consequence the game lasted 8 turns.
Here are a few actual in game pics, in order …