Custoras had not known tiredness like this since his days as a tanners apprentice in his youth before his real father appeared and rescued him from a life of poverty.
Thankfully he had his charger to carry him. The 'Red Caps' were not so fortunate and trudged behind him with weary steps.
|Once again I find my self arrayed opposite Phil and his Dwarves.|
There could be no respite, they had to clear the forest! Everytime they stopped to make camp the forest would erupt into a frenzy of wooded demons, forcing them onwards. . . . . . But towards what?
Shortly before, the scouts had reported a tower in the distance. It's outline against the horizan reminded Custoras of the castles he has seen as the '1st Lustrian' had been escorted through Bretonnia.
Jac the 'last Bretonnian' had confirmed Custoria's deductions and the towers Bretonnian origins. Could this be where they were being herded towards? If so for what purposes?
|I figure I will deploy with my Infantry and detachments first as a bullet shield before my Cavalry destroy them.|
Once again last Saturday, four intrepid gamers gathered at 'Rom at the Ford' to become the playthings to the whims of Neil (that sounds a LOT more pervy then I intended).
Once again this battle decended into chaos (of the good sort). Unfortunately due to the mental week at work I was hanging and have little recollection of the night apart from a Bone Giant running rampant and how stupid an idea it is to advance towards a Dwarf gunline with unarmoured infantry!!
|Look at them in all their shiney, shiney.|
|Even more Goblins appear in Tookeys army.|
|I decide to try and dispatch the Bone giant which has just appeared with a spell.|
|Yep thats the spell scattering and nearly taking out my General! It's going to be one of those games.|
|Here comes the pain!!!!!|
|Lano is far more cautious then the rest of us and decided to see how things play out before committing his full forces.|
|Here come Squigly and Didly, making friends with the Dwarves.|
|All my infantry either get shot to pieces from the Thunderers of leg it from the Giant!|
|And then the boney bastard rampages through my infantry and end up just outside my charge arc!|
|More undead appear behind Lano's forces.|
|Yep there they are!|
|My Gryphs FINALLY get to grips with the Thunderers for some payback!!|
|Phil secures the tower (which is the objective), I make a token effort to wrest it from his hands before being routed!|
|The Gobbo's secure the second tower but not before the Shaman is dragged to his doom by the undead.|
Round 4 here we come!
Here is how Neil wrote it up.
Rage of the Treekin
In the Ruins of Castle Faulk : Of Smoke and Blackpowder
Johann cursed as his foot caught on the brambles which littered the floor and clung to the trees around him. The barbed roots formed a cancerous infection that spread through the Wild Wood suffocating both his energy and the air around him whilst preventing him from seeing more than twenty feet ahead. Johann muttered a prayer to Sigmar to himself as he tried to remember a place that was as doomed, as oppressive and as old to him as this place in all of his travels across the Old World. Failing to remember any place as haunted as this Johann felt for his warhammer praying that Sigmar watched over him and would bring him home.
Ahead he could see the the nobles riding at the van, speaking amongst themselves their shrill laughs and stray whips hit both griffin and peasant alike as they followed Captain Custoras onwards. Whether Custoras paid any attention or indeed cared Johann was unsure of for he showed no interest in the conversation around him seeming more focused on driving ahead and setting the pace for the army that followed.
“Sigmar’s balls” muttered the farmer Sigtrict. “I’m spent. When we going to stop?”
“Just keep moving brother” Johann replied. “We are going on as there is no going back”.
“Sigmar protect us” muttered Sigtrict to himself as he used his shield to drive the forest away from him and kept walking whilst slashing at the vines.
Johann kept a steady pace behind the nobles and lead the militia walking behind. Sigtrict had a point he pondered. Last week we were in the village, living our lives, loving our wives and minding our own business and now look at us. Custoras had arrived in Stokbrook and demanded a posse to be formed, calling on the villagers to arms and follow him into the forest where no one was keen to go. Johann, as the priest of the village saw the writing on the wall and volunteered knowing that with his consent others would follow. He hadn’t wanted to but neither did he want to bury his flock as victims of a vengeful Liege Lord so hoping that they would follow his lead he had offered his services. Sigmar would protect after all and before he had time to close the church he found himself marching into the forest and following the trail of the nobles who rode their fine chargers. He had put on his rusty armour, taken his mace from above his bed and a week later found himself pushing through the forest that he had always been told to avoid. Whether they like it or not the villagers of Stokbrook were in the Old Forest and wanting to keep them alive Johann called on the villagers, motivated them and at times doubling their pace to make sure they weren’t left alone in the Wild Wood. Looking at the unwashed and bedraggled village militia around him Johann realised that though Custoras might not care for the small folk, he did and he would see them go home. Pushing a low hanging vine from above his face he made the sign of the Emperor across his chest. Ahead he could just make out a clearing, a place free of forest and as he walked nearer he felt his happiness of seeing the clear sky above him dwindle as he saw a fortress, walls crumbled and lined with age ahead, sitting square and unspoiled from the forest that surrounded it. A cold wind blew around him unsettling his family of farmers, Johann knew that he had been brought to a place of death. Ahead Custoras kicked his Griffin into a canter leaving the militia behind shouting orders to his knights whilst carelessly ordering the militia to advance.
“Boys, be ready” Johann intoned. “Sigmar has work for us to do.”
The spirits felt the lifeforce of the trespassers above and around them.
The spirits knew why they had come, wanting both the land and the riches of their Lord whom slept in his tomb below Castle Faulk. Already they could feel him stirring as he sensed life above him.
Their Lord had risen from his eternal and cursed sleep, eternally bound to the hated forest which had trapped their souls so many years before. If their Lord, bitter as he may be, had risen to defend his hated lands then the would rise fore filling their oaths that bound them to his cause.
Only the dead were allowed to walk in the ruins of Castle Faulk.
Snitterbitch slid down her web and to the ground whilst trying to nip at the legs of Spiderbitter. He paid her no concern his concentration on the clearing ahead.
Ordering the horde forward and watching as spider-riders grouped up ahead of the bay of the desperate goblin mob who followed them he ordered them forwards. He was lucky, no one would challenge his leadership but for the spider riders, one slack move, one opportunity given to the spiders to poison them would seen one less rider and one more goblin risen from the ranks of the masses to a new and higher life. The riders lived in fear of it and the horde howled for it keeping all in order.
Looking over the clearing, the ancient castle dominating its centre and with the hated Dwarves moving their weapons of war into position Spiderbitter ordered his clan forward to drive ahead. Seeing their metallic, smelly weapons of war ahead caused no far for him. Watching the giant Squig that his boys had captured and also the catapult being set up in position was enough to give the goblins a chance and with that Spiderbitter ordered his clan forwards.
As Dwarves from the south pushed their war machines forwards, as the magic of the Slann cackled in the distance driving their cold bloodied warriors forwards, the goblin masses flooded the clearing and as the humans drove their peasants to the fore whilst their elite armoured horsemen sheltered behind the ruin of Faulk came under attack.
Screaming his hate at the living the Lich Lord stood atop the battlements and calling on dark magic summoned his warriors to rise from the earth. Four armies of the hated living surrounded him domain but he would not give up his land so easy.
The Lizards surged forwards keen on getting to grips with their prey. In response the Lich Lord summoned his legions to defend him, rising his skeletal servants up both in front and behind the reptilian force. Though the advancing undead legion ground against Xhua-Ekko’s relentless advance their frail skeletal frames were no match for the Slann only their numbers allowing them to keep the Slann at bay. Adding to Xhua-Ekko’s woes Forest Goblin Spider riders fell from the trees to assailed his armoured guard frustrating his march towards the tower.
Cackling as he watched the Lizardman force slowed up Spiderbitter ordered his remaining warriors forward and towards the ruined fortress determined to seize it for the Goblins.
Gommil took stock of the battlefield before him. To his right but far in the distance he could see the Slann fighting on all fronts against both the servants of the dead and also spider riders of the goblins. In front of him the forest loomed with goblins appearing behind it whilst to his front and left a large group of humans approached both on foot and behind them were others on armoured steeds. Gommil examined the humans who were by far the nearest threat to his dwarfkin and saw that the mob of infantry were a mixed bunch of both spear armed men and also a group of hunters wielding the crudely made handguns that the humans favoured. Behind them the armoured cavalry were shielded by the mob, no doubt waiting for the right time to charge he mused.
“Crude workmanship those” grunted Hallbreaker as he stood next to his lord and followed his gaze.
“Aye, our younglings could make better” agreed Gommil. “But if it is a gun fight they are after let us give them one. Send the Thunderers forward.”
“And the rest?”
“Take your boys to the ruin and put that thing to sleep” Gommil look up at the Lich wailing atop the battlements. “See to it that the cannon supports your advance. I will wait for the humans on their pretty ponies as I have a score to settle with them.”
Hallbreaker nodded and gave the signal to the waiting dwarves sending them on their way before moving to join his troop of heavily armed Hammerers and lead them towards the fortress. Behind him he barely noticed the huge boom of the cannon as it fired from its position on the small hill and towards the goblins in the far distance.
The Thunderers strode forward in two ranks towards the mob of humans moving through the forest, their long barrelled firearms held ready. A barked order from their Veteran drew them to a halt and as one they raised the shiny black barrels of their guns towards to militia who were making progress through the forest. As one they cocked their firing pins ready to send blackpowder death towards the militia.
Johann moved with the militia through the trees and towards the dwarves ahead. He had positioned himself amongst the village spearmen whilst the gunners walked on their flank. Behind them rode Custoras with the nobles which added yet more woe to Johann’s already worried mind.
“Pastor, they’ve got guns” a worried villager named Jurgan said pointing at the dwarves ahead.
“Never fear Sigmar will protect us” Johann intoned trying to sound brave whilst keeping his own rising panic to himself. Dwarf guns were known to be both accurate and deadly and they were marching towards a line of them.
A crash of thunder sounded and the dwarves disappeared in smoke as their guns fired. Men around Johann screamed and clutched at faces, chests or limbs as the guns tore into the ragged line of militia. In reply the gunners shot back but their guns sounded small and limited in reply. Johann fought his own fear and screamed “Sigmar!” and broke into a run towards the dwarves as he realized the one hope they had would be to close the distance and get into melee with the bearded warriors. Hoping that the militia would follow him he moved through the forest calling on his god to aid him. Another crashing boom sounded and he winced and ducked fearing more shots. When none came he looked around startled to see where the noise came from and what he saw left him standing shocked and in fear, his hammer hanging limply at his side. The noise that he had heard was not that of guns but of the doorway to the fortress falling to the floor as a giant figure emerged from within and tore forward into the nearby gunners it’s skeletal boned form laying waste to the terror frozen men and routing the militia. Added to their woe more dwarf guns barked and more men went down. Caught between the bone giant and the guns of the dwarves the will of the militia broke and they streamed away from the battle leaving Johann and a few scattered survivors hidden in the trees.
Hallbreaker the Keeper of Gate marched steadily towards the ruin determined to claim it for the dwarfkin. He could think on none better than the Hammerers to be with to complete this task as each was a veteran of many years and whom he had stood with time and time again in battle. Not far ahead was the fortress gate and it would soon be in dwarves hands he swore to himself. So far his company had been unimpeded by enemies as the humans had been attacked by a huge skeletal giant scattering them and preventing them from closing with the dwarves.
His thoughts were broken by a strange noise ahead of him though he could not locate where it came from.
“Eeeeeiiiiaaaaaaaaaa” it shrieked as it dove down towards the dwarves.
“Shieldwall” Hallbreaker barked frantically scanning around him trying to see the threat. He then realised it was not coming from around him but from above.
“Shields up! Up!” he screamed knowing that it was already too late.
Still screaming a winged goblin crashed into the dwarves from above pinning two unfortunates to the floor with the huge helmet spike it wore as it completed its suicidal glide into the packed ranks of dwarves.
Cursing the foul inventions of the goblins Hallbreaker waved the dwarves on keeping his eyes on the sky for more goblin divers and hoping that the worse was over. Before he could clutch his anvil charm worn around his neck and call forth a blessing the corner wall of the fortress blew apart as two giant red squigs with faces full of fangs, bound together and being ridden by more insane goblins cannoned through the derelict wall and veered towards the still recovering dwarves.
“Shieldwall” Hallbreaker bellowed and jammed his shield into the clip of the shield to his right knowing that though it would strengthen the dwarves together.
“Brace yourselves” He shouted as the manic giant squiqs crashed into the line sending dwarves flying in all direction with miraculously only two failing to get up as the squids continued through and beyond the shieldwall and bursting out of the other side.
Knowing that they would return Hallbreaker broke the shield wall and ran towards the ruin calling on his dwarfkin to follow him into the relative safety of its walls before the squids had a chance to turn and plough into his men again.
As the dwarves disappeared into the fortress courtyard a loud cannon shot bellowed across the battlefield as the dwarf gunners targeted the giant squigs sending a hail of grapeshot and exploding them into red ruin. High above on the battlements the magic that held the Lord together and bound him to the fortress collapsed as the spell which bound him was broken. Without a sound the Lord disintegrated and with him went the skeletal warriors all collapsing into bone piles to be trampled to dust by the armies below.
Custoras watched from his mount as the Dwarf standard was raised above the fortress cursing his luck and lamenting the losses his men took at the hands of the bone giant and the deadly dwarves guns. He could also see the other armies moving away from the fortress as none, be they goblin or lizard wanted to try to pry the dwarves form their new home. Ordering the bugler signal the sound of retreat he reigned his horse and with his armoured escort following turned away to the south. Ahead of him a green cloaked figure stepped out of the forest bow lowered so as not to threaten him. Riding closer he could see that the elf was male and appeared to be waiting for him.
“You would speak counsel with me Elf? Speak quickly as I am in no mood for parley.”
“Lord, I will be brief but forgive my unaccustomed use of your tongue” the elf replied bowing. “I am Tanaach, messenger of the Queen and she sends her welcome.”
“Your Queen sends her welcome? Some welcome it is, we have only encountered blood and death in her lands since we arrived. Your Queen has a strange way of greeting her guests.” Custoras stated flatly, in no mood for elven trickery.
“Of course Lord, I can see that you have other matters on your mind. Firstly I bring a gift for you and your men to help sooth their woes. I have both elf bread and herbs for you to take which I hope will help your men recover from their ordeal. The Queen hopes that with this you will be better able to ride to her aid.”
“Her aid?” Custoras raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Yes Lord. One of her daughters is trapped with her guard and being assailed by corrupted treekin. The Queen asks you to set her free and return her daughter to her. For this she will reward you.”
“And if we don’t?”
“Then you will dwindle and die here in this forest. The corrupted trees led you here and will not let you go. Only the Elves can show you the way out. You will not be alone in your task as we shall accompany you, we have also sent a similar message to the Dwarves who we hope will ally with you in this task.”
“It looks like I do not have a choice Elf.” muttered Custoras grimly. “But know this, if I suspect treachery elf I may allow myself to be trapped in this forsaken place and I will use that time wisely to find your people and slay them before I die myself.”
“Of that I have no doubt Lord, I will ensure the Queen is aware of your thoughts.”
With that Tanaach bowed and stepped into the trees leaving the Custoras to his thoughts.
Xhua-Ekko sensed the magic before he saw it. Green black and twisted, it coiled around the old bark of the tall tree as if infusing it with its power. Drawing his scimitar and lightly balancing on his toes the slender Skink stood poised and ready to battle.
A mouth formed in the tree both crooked and unnatural to look at yet somehow familiar to him.
“There is no need for weapons Metal-Face. You wear your God in metal yet I sense magical power in you. How strange..”
Xhua-Ekko found the voice was soft and soothing and could see the limbs and leaves of the surrounding tree’s swaying in sympathy to its melodious voice.
Saying nothing he lowered his blade and took time to examine the intricate weave of magick in the air. It was old, it was wild and untamed yet somehow tainted with a hint of bitter revenge twisting its tendrils. How fascinating he pondered.
The mouth continued.
“Welcome to our home. We have taken great steps to bring you here as we feel that you are kindred spirits to us. We sense your old magick and know you have seen the world for longer than the young races just as have we.” The mouth curled almost in dull circle and slid higher up the tree. A wooden eye appeared above it and gazed down at the Skink.
“We ask of you a favour. We ask of you a boon. The young races have spread too far into the forest of the world and the fey folk in particular are using magick for their own gain. If left unchecked they will upset the natural order of things and will bring ruin to us all.”
Though he said nothing, Xhau saw the truth in this from his dealings with the fey folk, be they dark, grey or green. Their sorcerers were powerful, nearly matching the great Slann priests and in their desire to ensure their own survival used magick which could change the natural order of things.
“What would you have of me?” he asked.
The mouth slid away from the eye and glided downwards forming a wide serrated grin.
“We have captured one of their number, one who was trying to summon the Old God to earth. Right now we lay siege to her and we need your help in securing our prize. We cannot allow the Old God to reappear in the forest, his power would doom us all.”
Though his helmet pulsed with defensive magical energy Xhua-Ekko was not aware of it, as he was deep in a hypnotic state.
“Take your army south and help us capture the sorcerer” the mouth continued. “To help you we have recruited others to make your task easier.” Behind Xhua a red spider slipped away into the darkness.
“It will be done.” Xhau murmured before turning away and back towards his kin.
The mouth stretched and looped as it circled around the thick trunk of the tree before disappearing back into the wood. The forest would have it’s way. The old wild magick would return and the natural order would be balanced again. It was just a shame that the young races would not be around to see it.