Eric placed the parchment on the tavern table and looked up at his warband. "so what do we think?" he asked, "do we trust him?"
The message on the parchment was just like the Devil that had sent it; Blunt and Authoritive.
"He kept his word at the Library" voiced Red "and some extra muscle on our side could be useful since losing Grim!" The others nodded agreement.
"Ok so it's agreed, we join forces with the Witchhunter to force the crossing of middle bridge" Eric said straightening up. The others agreed and began to collect up their weapons.
Just then the tavern door opened and the wizard Rags walked in "So what have I missed folks" he asked. Eric and Red looked at each other. BOLLORKS they had forgotten about the wizard!
With only four in attendance at the "Shed of Lead" this Saturday we decided to have a little fun. Neil was still smarting from being ganged up on by the undead and proposed a two on two battle.
Sounds like fun.
The battle of 'middle bridge' it is.
We set the field of battle up as shown below and figure the East side of the river would be a ruin due to our activities while the West of the river will be mostly untouched (for now!). It makes for an interesting looking board.
Neil and I agree that if Rags comes within charge range of the Hidden Thirteen they will have to charge him and will gain 'hatred'. Just like my old Nan used to say "When you sup with the Devil use a long spoon!"
This results in me setting up my Warband as far away from Neil as possible. Probably not the best plan for mutual support but it will help keep the fragile truce.
On the opposite side of the board Macca and Denny set their Bands opposite ours. Looks like I will be locking horns with Macca.
The first few turns are a flurry of movement as we all bolt forward to secure the central objectives and collect Wyrd stones scattered around the site.
Turn three and things suddenly get real tactical!
Denny wades the river and I think he has has surprised Neil with his aggression. On the East of the river Macca and I both pull up outside the gate house and eye each other cautiously. Macca has the initiative and bolts into the building to secure the first room.
My original plan was to secure the river gate house, secure the room on Macca's side, get the archers and pistolliers into the tower to shoot down on any thing that exposed itself.
Then if Macca risked the assault I would diving charge off the towers and then rush out with the rest of the band to wreck bloody havoc. If he didn't I would hold Macca until Neil could break through Denny and then sweep round to take Macca in the rear (oo er misses!). If it all went wrong with Neil the plan was the same but I would hold up in the Gate house as long as possible by securing both doors and raining bloody ruin down on the undead from the towers.
With Macca winning the race to the tower I need to rethink this plan. I decide to hold the exit at my side with Arnold and Red and Cairo in support and wade the river with the rest of my warband to hit Macca in the rear and trap him in the gate house. I will take pot shots through the doors and try to whittle him down until the end game. I just need to keep an eye on flank attacks from Denny and not get caught between the hammer and the anvil!
Denny continues to storm the crossing and despite Neil hitting the undead with bolt after bolt until they start to resemble hedgehogs, the undead refuse to fall! Add to that Denny nails hard Vampire creeping up on the Hidden Thirteen's flank and things are NOT going to plan!
To make matters worse Neil has to split his forces to also cover the bridge.
As if Denny has read my mind (is that on the Vampire skill list?), he races two Dire wolves across to cover the ford. I guess I will need to shoot them down before risking the crossing. This is getting real messy!
On the left, the undead continue their relentless advance into the hail of fire. Thankfully the weaker dregs start to fall..
On my side of the battle I have some luck as I think Denny's losses are starting to unnerve him and he moves his Direwolves into cover. This stops him bottlenecking the ford.
Then I get other scare as I approach the ford, as three dregs pop their heads above the parapit and start to shot into my warband, dropping Jeffery Archer! This could cause carnage as I am forced to move at half rate while crossing the ford!
I manage to cast 'fireball' with Rags and my other marksmen get their shots off to drop one Dreg and thankfully Macca runs them back into the tower. I honestly think if Macca had been a little braver and continued to use them to cover the ford with the Dire wolves in support I would have been it REAL trouble!
On the left the Undead and Witch hunters finally get to grips with each other with casualties on both sides. Denny is forced to risk the crossing of the bridge on mass to mob Neils forces. Neils marksmen and Elf continue to fill the undead full of arrows but they still refuse to fall.
The muffled sounds of fighting and whizzing crossbow bolts are suddenly drowned out by the resounding sound of a massive explosion followed by what sounds like the patter of body parts hitting the floor as Merrick steps forward and discharges his Blunderbuss at point blank range into the shambling horde of zombies!
Eric starts at the sound as thoughts of his near demise at the hands of Merrick and his blunderbuss come flooding the the forefront of his mind. "I have to get me one of those" he thinks to himself!
The rest of my warband continue to wade across the river, keeping a cautious eye out for sneak attacks.
After the smoke (and dice) has cleared two zombies have been scattered to the four winds and Denny is forced to take a moral check. A roll of 11 means that Denny flees and suddenly Macca is on his own and in a very precarious position.
Neil breaths a sigh of relief as The Dennys Vampire was in position to launch his bloody retribution on Neil's flank and would not have to jump over any gaps to get at him ;0)
With the sudden departure of his allie Macca decides to fight a tactical withdrawl off the back table edge before Neil turns up to mob him is force.
As the first of his forces begin the retreat they shamble into a withering barrage of fire which results in several knockdowns.......
Inside the tower Arnold and co crash into the tower and Red takes a pot shot through the door with his pistol but his aim is off.
Back outside a combined volley of fireball, and missle fire from both me and Neil's forces, as they move into range, starts to drop Macca's forces
Inside the tower things are getting bloody as the Vampire sends in his Ghouls to cover his retreat from Arnold and co.
Thankfully Arnold has his eye in and actually manages to drop his opponent. Once again Red proves to be a melee monster and drops his opponent with disdainful ease!
The clock is ticking as we know Macca has now taken enough casualties to declare at the start of his next turn.
I am tempted to charge in with my hero's but decide to just blast away at range as this preserves my heroes for the Wyrd stone hunt after the game as well as allow Neil to have a shot with his ranged forces.
The barrage of fire is satisfactorily destructive!!!!
It's no surprise when Macca throws in the towel at the beginning on his next turn.
A resounding victory for the forces of decency.... well me and Neil!
Despite the massacre at the end that was a much closer game then Neil and I would care to admit!
I honestly think if a couple of key decisions were taken differently I certainly would have been in real trouble crossing the ford and Neil would have been in a real pickle once I failed my rout check!
As it was fortune favours the brave.
Now pass me the rule book I need to work out how I get my hands on a Blunderbuss!!!!!!!!
p.s. NONE OF MY WARBAND DIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is how Neil narrated the episode;
bridge too far : Unholy fires
The Thirteen moved through the shadows towards the river passing through and around abandoned and collapsed buildings as they stalked their hated foe. Ahead of them were the Twin Bridges which spanned the great river that tore through the city of Mordheim like a dagger through a heart. The Twin Bridges lay ahead, one known as the Merchant Bridge was an open flat stone causeway crossing the grey and smog covered river whose treacherous edges were known to have claimed many a merchant cart or unwary traveller. North of the Merchant Bridge lay the Guildman’s Bridge which was a different prospect altogether. Built to enforce the taxes leveled on cargo ships bringing their wares in to the city the bridge was a small fortress in itself with heavy stone walls, arrow slits and fighting platforms on its roof allowing the city to enforce their toll and to defend the town from pirate attack. Long abandoned, the Guildsman Bridge now stared over the river with it’s arrow slit eyes promising death to both adventurer and traveller who dared cross the grey gushing river.
Lei Yong and Merrick moved together towards the Merchant Bridge both armed with crossbows keeping a wary eye on each shadow ahead. To their right glided the Elven Ranger, his longbow cocked and ready whilst behind at a distance of thirty feet walked the warband following the scouting group patiently.
Merrick could see the edge of the river and could smell its foulness which he decided was a mixture of salt, muck and rot. Sigmar be! I hope I do not fall into the water he mused to himself, imagining with worry the potential for disease in the water. Following Lei Yong’s lead he held up his fist in a ball to signal a halt and crouched besides her besides a rotting wooden fence that overlooked the Merchant’s Bridge. Behind him the rest of the Thirteen sought shelter and waited.
Lei Yong nudged Merrrick and pointed above them to where the Ranger could be seen above impossibly perched on the branch of a grey dead tree. The Elf scanned the way ahead for a few moments taking stock of all he saw. Looking down at Lei Yong he signaled to her. She nodded her understanding.
Merrick, not understanding the language of Thieves’ Fingers starred at Lei Yong waiting for her to tell him what the Elf said. Idly he gazed inter her face drinking in her smooth oriental features, soft full lips and large dark eyes all framed by raven dark hair screwed into concentration as she read the Elves sign language. Her time with the warband and the strain that took was starting to show on her face but he barely noticed the small scars from combat or the worry lines around her eyes, instead he imagined her with him, free of Shannow and together roaming the land, maybe we could buy a farm he thought to himself wistfully let himself enjoy the moment. Lei Yong’s voice brought him out of his fantasy with blushing red cheeks.
“You okay Merrick? Harpy got your tongue?”
“Yes.. sorry.. go on…”
The Interrogator crouching and at a half run ducked behind the fence to join them.
“Shannow says whats the delay?” He hissed, his breath rank.
“Tell him the Elf says that there are humans to our north, probably twenty of them moving towards the Guildman’s Bridge. All armed. He can’t be sure but he thinks its the one’s from yesterday.”
“Right, I’ll tell Shannow. In the meantime keep heading for the Merchant Bridge.” the Interrogator ordered drawing a sneer from Lei Yong.
“I’ll do that if you think thats a wise idea” she replied the smile hiding her disgust of the Interrogator.
With that he scrabbled away to report back to Shannow.
“Best draw your Firedragon Merrick” said Lei Yong as she rose to her feet and using the name that she had given his Blunderbuss.
“Why’s that?” he asked.
“Because of the undead crossing the Merchants Bridge yonder” she pointed ahead.
“Undead? You didn’t say nuthin’ about no undead” Merrick gasped. “We gotta tell Shannow…” he said alarmed.
“Well it wasn’t me who didn’t tell Shannow” Lei Yong continued, the ghost of a smile still on her face “the Interrogator didn’t tell him and one thing is for sure. Shannow doesn’t like being misinformed.” she giggled at herself and with that she motioned the unknowing warband forward towards the bridge.
Arrows whistled around the warband as they charged for the bridge causing warriors to scatter and duck for cover and sow confusion into their ranks. Shannow bellowed at the warband trying to drive them forward and towards the bridge whilst firing his pistols at the mass of shambling corpses who were already halfway across.
Uthred, obeying Shannow pushed ahead with Slawter, the tough and wiry warrior and his dim-witted brother Wilhem in tow. Both brothers were spearmen and had been with the warband since its beginning. Together they headed forward to stem the tide of dead which was spilling across the bridge. Behind them the three flagellants crouched besides the priest, Culwych, listening to his litanies and whipping themselves into a frenzy.
Shannow ignored the arrows whistling from behind the zombies and pushed the Interrorgator and Red Ryak, another warrior known for his bright ginger hair to one side. “Flank them you idiots!” he bellowed forcing them off to the right side of the bridge.
Lei Yong and Merrick, hidden to one side poured shots into the mass of shambling undead from their crossbows finding it difficult to miss, however though the bolts were well aimed and fired in full force they did little to stop the shambling mound of undead before it crashed into Uthred and the warrior brothers.
To the north Lei Yong could hear the shouts of battle and smoke began to seep from a window on the Guildman’s Bridge telling her that the other humans, whoever they were, had found themselves fighting the same enemy as the Thirteen now faced. Sigmar help them, she thought to herself imagining facing the undead in the confines of a building.
The shieldwall that Uthred had made across the Merchants Bridge was immediately driven back as the horde of undead crashed uncaringly into it with the sheer weight of numbers proving too much for the three warriors to hold. Though Uthred crushed the skull of one with his warhammer and Slawter impaled a pale rotten female corpse on his spear it was not enough to check the charge of the undead and the three warriors began to give ground and fight desperately to contain the horde on the bridge.
Merrick, sweeping up his blunderbuss, leapt out of his cover and with a shout fired the deadly cannon into the mass of undead crossing the bridge. The immediate carnage was terrible to behold as the undead were mown down like wheat beneath a sickle and with body parts mingling with smoke and flame and though it brought brief respite to the three warriors holding the bridge the undead zombies, trailing limbs and brain fragments rose again to throw themselves forwards and back into the fight.
Lei Yong continued to add her shots into the hoard, now aided by the Elf but their attack, senseless and without number seemed impossible to counter. Lui Yong watched as Culwych, the bald Priest screamed his own war cry and joined in the defense of the bridge joined by the flagellants who hacked and slashed around them without care, spittle flying from their lips.
Suddenly Lei Yong felt cold. It was a deathly cold rising as a wind and bringing frost breath to her lips and causing her teeth to chatter. The cold penetrated her clothing with ease and with it came fear starting in her stomach and rising within her as it clutched at her soul.
“He comes…” said the elf next to her without a pause in his shot.
“Wh-who…..” Lei Yong stammered through chattering teeth.
“Their master.” said the Ranger indicating at the shambling horrors of the bridge who now were clawing at the tightly held shieldwall and climbing over their own dead to reach the warriors. With that and a swirl of his cloak the Elf was gone leaving Lei Yong alone.
Above Lei Yong a shadow hovered over her, tall and lithe an outline of heavy armour.
Shannow, seeing the danger shouted a warning and moved towards the Lord of Undead firing his pistols which exploded harmlessly on the Vampire Lord’s finely decorated armour.
On the opposite flank the Interrogator and Red Ryak pushed ahead seeking a way to expose the flank of the undead force with Red Ryak leading the way. From the shadows on the far side of the bridge a pale robed figure gestured in their direction and a ball of fire shot forth exploding between them throwing the Interrogator against a nearby wall, where he slumped dazed to the floor whilst Red Ryak, taking the full force of the magical fireball did not have time to scream as the fireball engulfed him his shield no match for the engulfing attack.
Lei Yong felt her joints stiffen and her strength fading, the bitter cold sapping her will and promising sleepy death. She willed herself to move knowing that she was in great danger but the voice, distant now, was hushed by the promise of peace and warmth in death and unable to fight it further she felt the crossbow slip from her fingers as she slid to the floor to lie down unaware of the presence of the Vampire Lord above her.
On the bridge the warriors, surrounded and battered though taking their toll on the restless dead fought on in desperate combat.
The Vampire Lord examined the battle below him enjoying the carnage of death. He longed to stop and feast on the blood of the human girl who was withering at his feet but he resisted the urge. He had more important things to do today and he looked for the human Hunter, the one called Shannow and saw him below, shouting at him and firing his pointless pistols in his direction. I am the spider that examines the fly he mused to himself whilst examining the weakling human. No matter he decided I will enjoy his blood some other time.
The Vampire Lord lifted both arms allowing his black cloak to spread behind him. Uttering ancient words of power he felt the Old Magick gathering around him. Letting it build to a crescendo and bringing both arms together and towards Shannow he felt the surge of power channel as blue lightning from his fingertips and flying towards Shannow sending him crashing to the floor where he lay unmoving.
I have sent a message to this Witch Hunter today. Let him see that he and his his pitiful war band cannot stand before me. Their warriors cannot best even the lowest of my minions, his best warriors are no match for my own, I will let this knowledge come to him, let it haunt his thoughts and then, when his blood tastes of despair and hopelessness, then and only then will I come for him. I will enjoy that.
The Vampire Lord took to the shadows leaving, his job done and the Witch Hunters in disarray. As he disappeared with his retainers, the Old Magick which bound the bodies of the undead zombies left with him leaving them to collapse around the feet of the remaining Thirteen warriors who were still standing. Shocked, ambushed and afraid they moved to recover their wounded and bury their dead no longer wanting to cross the bridge into the areas of Mordheim claimed by the Servants of the Unlife.