Turns 4 – 8
Still more angry about his predicament than afraid, Biagino attempted to conjure a curse upon the massive marching body of spearmen closing in on the gate. Distracted by his anger, however, he fumbled the spell and failed to bring the curse to fruition. Aware, however, that his efforts to spin the winds of magic must have been noticed by the enemy’s magic users, he moved along the wall in the hope that their own curses might not find him!
As the fight at the wall continued furiously, with more than half a dozen skeletons falling for every Portomaggioran who perished, the petard and spearmen moved ever closer to the city gate.
Captain Soldatovya led his bravi over the bridge to begin moving around the city’s corner tower, hoping to find an undefended spot where he might gain entry.
The wizard Hakim once again blessed the Sea Wolves, gifting magically enhanced swiftness to their blades, although the uncontrolled shards of magic released by his unintentionally overpowered spell spun away to visibly sting the colossus. Even Hakim was beginning to wonder if this place was cursed by much more than the presence of the undead.
At the third moat bridge the dismounted knights simply stood their ground, watching as several of the robed zombies on the wall were felled by the handgunners’ bullets. Before the second bridge, however, the fight raged on, and as a consequence of their magical blessing, spurred on by the furious efforts of their commander Lord Alessio, the Sea Wolves hacked and slashed so vigorously at the skeletons that they felled the last foe and took possession of the wall.
The living had once again set foot in city of Ebino. Whether they would stay there had yet to be ascertained.
Biagino could see the witch fleeing along the wall into the tower by the gate, which spurred him also to conceal himself, dismounting the wall and entering the courtyard below. As he emerged, he saw the two brutes who had made it back from Pontremola standing patiently behind the gate.
Presuming they survived the petard’s blast, Biagino knew the pair could not hope to prevent the horde of spearmen from accessing the city. Most likely all they could do was cut down a few before they themselves fell – unless, it occurred to him, he himself could bring magical harm on the spearmen and weaken them. He decided he would try his curse again, despite the risks, and so conjured the Curse of Years. Yet again the magical forces broiled so wildly as to be uncontrollable, and once more his body was wracked by the energies he had failed to properly channel, but this time he knew the spell had bitten because his keen ears could hear their dying screams!
(Game Note: 9 spearmen died, Marcus Portelli was wounded. Biagino’s irresistible miscast wound was compensated, as with the necromancer before, by the Lore Attribute wound gained ‘instantly’ by the successful casting of the spell!)
Before the western wall, Soldatovya and his bravi were suddenly horrified to see a writhing swarm of ghostly beings emerge from the very stones, surging forwards to block their path threateningly.
As they staggered back in surprise, the Sea Wolves above them had already begun pouring down into the courtyard to attack the corpse cart sitting therein. Known for his initiative in battle and a long military career forged by making the right decisions at just the right time, Captain Soldatovya shouted to his men and led them up the ladders (left behind by the Sea Wolves) onto the wall! Considering the alternative, the bravi were only too glad to obey. As they climbed, they glanced behind to see that the mercenary dwarfs were already crossing the first bridge, but not one of them delayed their climb to forewarn their comrades of the threat which lay just around the corner!
As the petard was pushed and placed against the gate, the regiment of spearmen came to a halt. Despite being distracted by his wounds, Portelli knew that to advance any further would leave the petardiers with only two options – to throw themselves into the moat waters or to die when the petard blew. Halting now meant they could run over the bridge to escape.
The wizard Hakim used much of the magical power he could summon to dispel the curse afflicting the spearmen, so that neither he nor the colossus could find sufficient remaining etheric energies to successfully conjure any other spells – although both did try. At the same time, a cannon ball struck the already shaken wall and brought down a fair strength of its crenelated top, but not the wall itself; while the famous captain Lupo ‘the wolf’ Lorenzo shot three blessed bolts from his magical arbalest at the spirits he now spied across the water, visibly diminishing their number.
All this was quickly forgotten a moment later, however, as the flame fizzling along the supposedly 25 second fuse (which the siege-master Guccio had lit exactly 17 seconds earlier) reached the petard’s touchhole to send a massive blast of flames and broiling smoke in all directions, shattering the gate into pieces and tearing off the bottom half of the portcullis.
Thanks to the noble Portelli, only half of the petardiers perished in the premature explosion, although those who did survive were so distracted, dazed and deafened that they could do little more than collapse to the ground, there to lie for the remainder of the battle. At the moat’s edge, near to the damaged but still (surprisingly) intact bridge, lay Guccio, with one leg torn and bloody, reddening the water. It would be some time before he woke, but he lived.
(Game Note: The petard, which by the rules had to roll two artillery dice, so doubling the chance of misfiring, did misfire, and the subsequent roll was a 1, a ‘catastrophic’ result. This meant it still blew up, causing the full damage that it would have done if it worked properly, but in the process it would also kill D(number of attendants). 5 out of the 10 died.)
In the courtyardi, Alessio and his elite guard dispatched the corpse cart easily, while above them the bravi were torn between watching them and looking behind to watch the dwarfs who had been assailed by the host of spirits. Several dwarfs died, but despite being entirely unable to harm the spirits with their mundane-steel blades, they fought on stubbornly.
Inside the courtyard the Sea Wolves now divided the better to clear out the city, with half going onto the nearby wall which overlooked the road, and the other half into the tower by the gate. Alessio led the latter company, and it was he who caught a glimpse of the witch fleeing across towards the other side.
(Game Notes: (1) Our siege/assault rules allow the division of large units, 20+ models, into two, in order to occupy and thus hold more ‘sections’) (2) The petard had blown the gate open, but not destroyed the stone wall into which it was set, thus the witch was still able to move across the top.)
Meanwhile the bravi scrambled into the corner tower, if only to allow more of their comrades to climb the wall, and outside the Reman crossbowmen were indeed manoeuvring to cross the second bridge and do exactly that – praying that the dwarfs could hold back the ghostly foe. And indeed the dwarfs, despite their utter inability to harm the foe with their weapons, did so, bravely holding their ground against their spirits, a defiance which in itself began to unwind some of the necromantic magic holding them in this world.
The dismounted knights at the far bridge chose the same moment to cross, but not to attempt a ladder assault, but rather to ready themselves for the fall of the wall to their left, so that they could storm it immediately when it did.
As the smoke at the gate thinned a little, Father Antonello, at the front of the spearmen who marching towards the breach, could just make out the silhouette of the two brutes upon the other side. They had already been wounded by the blast, but both stood ready, for being zombies meant they felt no pain. He used his magical ring to hurl a fireball at them, but to little apparent effect beyond disturbing the smoke!
The cannon, firing again at the wall, had more luck, as this time the wall finally came tumbling down!
Several of the Disciplinati di Nagash were crushed by the collapsing masonry, the rest being entirely untroubled by the occurrence, just as they were untroubled by anything at all. Biagino watched the wall’s fall with fascination, his heightened senses magnifying the impressiveness of its collapse, an intricately clattering, part tumble, part slide of a hundred irregularly broken stones swathed in dust and smoke. With little more than a flick of his wrist, he commanded his bambinos in the courtyard to divide, sending half towards the gate while the other half remained to await whatever attempted to clamber over the rubble. His half-hearted attempt to resurrect those crushed by the masonry was to prove a failure.
The petard’s explosion had left the ears of every living soldier near the gate ringing, but not Biagino’s, and he now heard the cacophony of footfalls as spearmen advanced over the bridge. Scowling, he summoned every scrap of the winds of magic he could and once again cursed the spearmen, slaying another ten and again wounding the nobleman Portelli.
As his men pushed by, Portelli let them pass, winded as well as wounded, and would take no more part in the battle. (Game Note: This is my way of interpreting the fact that he was not included in the ten models subsequently selected to assault the gate – using the p.129 ‘Assaulting a Building’ rules. Both the player and the fictional character seemed to know he was too close to death!)
As three more of the dwarfs fell to the deathly chill of the spirits, panic finally got the better of them and they broke and fled away. The spirits, who tarried a while as if to revel in their success, failing to catch them!
The Reman crossbowmen, several of which had already crossed the bridge, now rushed to climb the ladders, spurred on by the sight of the spirits heading their way, while Hakim the wizard stepped back as if to shelter in the shadow of the colossus!
Fighting Father Antonello now led the surviving spearmen, of which there were still many, in a charge through the shattered gate …
… and into the brute horrors waiting on the far side of the threshold. Lord Alessio himself had also spied the brutes and, leaving his Sea Wolves to scour the tower for more enemies and to better guard that quarter of the city, he personally charged to join Antonello at the gate. While the priest and spearmen struggled to best the brute they faced, Lord Alessio’s cuts dug deep and he brought down the other with ease. Father Antonello’s blade was somewhat less effective, however, and although the grey cassocked, sandaled holy man fought with rare courage …
… the brute finished him easily with a blade longer than the priest was tall. Then, even as the magical forces animating its corpse-body dissipated, the brute stamped down to crush the priest’s head under its foot, before falling itself on top of the priest.
(Game note: I rolled to see whether its stomp attack might be used in this manner, resulting in a kind of ‘overkill’ wound. It was. The Remans, although here commanded by Damian (whose character of Lord Alessio of Portomaggiore) ate NPCs, as are the Undead, so as GM I like to roll on little hastily created tables sometimes just to decide between options! The significance is that Father Antonello, being ‘overkilled’, cannot now roll on the campaign rules recovery chart. He is most definitely and very dead.)
Captain Hans Wiedmuller, the artillerist tending the last surviving cannon, was able to enchant the iron ammunition using his magical Matrix of Undoing, and so dissipated several more of the spirits with a very well-aimed shot. But the surviving spirits’ attention had been caught by the crossbowmen hurtling past them to rush up the ladders and so they swirled in a graceful arc up and over the wall, chasing the Remans before them and right across the courtyard into the city.
(Game Note: The crossbowmen declared a flee action.)
Outside the fallen wall the dismounted knights were approaching the breach …
… but as they drew near the Disciplinati lurched up and onto the rubble. The lesser nobles thus realised that the next while would involve considerably more than merely struggling over rubble in full plate armour!
Biagino had willed the Disciplinati on, but at the same time he ordered the thrall upon the wall commanding the other company to come and join him. It was, he now acknowledged, time to leave. He was not willing to die attempting to hold onto Ebino. He had only really taken the place as a species of vengeance against Maria, but he cared nothing for it, nor had any real desire to stay.
He had hurt the enemy enough, he presumed, to make them think twice about venturing any further north. That was enough. Miragliano lay to the north, a much mightier realm, once ruled by the vampire Duke Alessandro. He would rather take his chances there, to see if he could wrest it from whoever currently ruled – if indeed anyone. And if the enemy chose to follow him, then he would fight again with whatever forces he could raise. Perhaps now that Lord Alessio’s army were further weakened, the next time would be easier, and he could finally, properly defeat them?
So it was that the vampire arch-priest Biagino, with his servant thrall loping behind to keep up, flew through the streets of Ebino and out through a hidden postern, leaving his bambinos to keep the enemy busy a while and so buy him time!
Which that they did.
While Father Bendali, the second Morrite priest with the army, summoned up the courage to attempt a prayer on the host of spirits pursuing the crossbowmen …
… the dismounted knights scrambled up the toppled masonry to become caught up in a frantic tangle of a fight with the frenzied, zombified dedicants of the Disciplinati di Morr, now having become what was once their own enemy!
And as the other company of men at arms struggled up ladders to face as exactly similar foe …
… Lord Alessio himself personally led the charge against the third such body of zombies, who defended the tower upon the other side of the shattered gate.
The living, armed and armoured well and with much greater fighting prowess than the walking corpses they were fighting, were almost certain to prevail. And so they did. But it took time, which Biagino, exactly as he had intended, used well. By the time they had wrested real control of the city, Biagino was long gone, and entirely out of their reach.
Game Over, end of turn 8.
Thank you, Matt, for running the (NPC) Undead, and thank you Damian for commanding your army once again in a week long play by e-mail battle. That reminds me, when I am allowed, I must return your army to you!