tiistai 21. kesäkuuta 2016

The Fate of Spellglass Sphere

G'day everyone!

I'm finally writing up the sequel to the story of Spellglass Sphere, posted a while ago in the form of my 10th Narrative Battle Report where an army of malicious Exile Aelves captured a revered artifact from the claws of the Seraphon. Now, in my 12th battle report I'm going to tell you how the story reached its conclusion. Sorry to keep you waiting!

Here's the setup for the game. We played a battleplan "The Hidden Artifact" where both of the forces start face-to-face, with the defenders trying to get an artifact to the other side of the board. The attackers have no idea which of the enemy units carries the artifact, so they must stay vigilant and slay any who try to reach the end of the board too hastily...
There are reinforcements for the attacker waiting outside the board to intercept the enemy with a flank attack. A very interesting setup indeed!

Let us start with the story...


Wind howled across the snowy tundra as Old-Blood Mazatl led his hunting party determinedly forward. After the defeat of Mage-Priest Tezozomoc at the Blackhill Barrows Mazatl had pursued the enemy tirelessly. With an army of saurus and skink at his back he had tracked the enemy to these desolate snowfields.

According to his scouts the warmbloods were heading to an abandoned fortress in the middle of these plains. That was not good. However fierce and experienced his warriors were, they didn't have the time or numbers to lay siege to a fortress, abandoned or not. Should the aelves reach their destination, the Old-Blood would have to call back his warriors and give up chase, leaving the powerful artifact in the hands of these mortals. That couldn't be allowed to happen.

Mazatl and his forces climed up a snowy dune and finally found their enemies... and the old fortress. The Old-Blood roared an aggressive command and his warriors obediently surged forward. The enemy had to be stopped before they reached the gates that loomed in the horizon!

Aelven lord Arocadel turned as the heard the roar. His eyes flew wide open.
"Nirihar, turn around and hold the line with your troops! Do not let them reach us or I'll flay you myself!" he commanded, grabbing the shoulder of his Standard Bearer and shoving him towards the approaching enemy.
"Of course... My lord," Nirihar replied, gritting his teeth.
"Halt advance! Here we shall face the foe!"

As soon as the Standard Bearer's command was issued the aelven infantry stopped in their tracks, turned around and snapped into formation. No cold-blood would cross this line.

As his infantry made their stand, Lord Arocadel glided away carried by his wings.
"Keep up the pace, we're almost there!" he yelled out to his cavalry as they raced forward, leaving their comrades behind.
He cared none for his underlings. They had been born to serve him, and now something more valuable than the lives of a few servants was at stake: they had to secure the Sphere before the Seraphon could claim it back to themselves.

The aelven line was bracing for the inevitable impact under the stern gaze of Nirihar the Standard Bearer.
"Is that what you call leading? Step aside and let me handle this..." an armour-clad aelf called out as he stopped beside Nirihar.
"How did you ever rise to the position of holding aloft our lord's colours?"
"Get lost, Enead. This is my command and my turn to bask in glory," the flagbearer hissed back.
"Is that so? Then I assume we have a split command this time. I was ordered to hold back these daemons just as you were," Captain Enead smiled.
"Never...!" Nirihar begun and drew his blade. Before the sword had wholly left its scabbard, Enead's warscythe was buried in the Standard Bearer's left eye socket. The body fell heavily on the ground.
"Right, it seems it's my command now," the Captain mused as he cleaned the blood from his blade.
"Hold the line, brave warriors! For lord Arocadel!"

The tide of ferocious saurian warriors crashed against the aelven line with bone-shattering force. Mazatl himself led the Temple Guards in a charge against enemy spearmen on the left flank, bouncing over the shieldwall to wreak havoc amidst the foe. His personal retinue of elite warriors followed his example, clawing their way through the shields and shredding the enemy battleline. Covered in steaming red blood, the Old-Blood let out a triumphant roar as he caved in yet another helmeted head with his starmace.

The centre of the Seraphon assault did not fare so well. Warriors crashed into the aelves, biting and hacking and clawing, but after weathering the initial losses the warmbloods commenced a brutal counter-attack to drive back the attackers. The Black Guard lowered their halberds and advanced, slicing their way deep into the saurus formation with measured strikes. Polearms rose and fell in perfect unison, taking several daemons to the ground with every strike.
"No, this cannot be.." thought Mage-Priest Tlaxinzi as he watched his warriors fall. Stretching out a three-fingered hand he conjured another bolt of lightning into the ranks of the aelves, taking down a couple more smoking carcasses. His spells were too little and too late, he realized, when a towering Hydra crashed into the fray. With its multiple snapping jaws and clawed limbs it tore into the saurian ranks, leaving no survivors in its wake.

The din of battle echoed across the plains of snow as Skink Priest Ecotta led his followers into the battlefield. In his wisdom Old-Blood Mazatl had commanded Ecotta and his cohort of skinks to circle around the enemy flanks, all the way to the old fortress where they would then intercept any mortals trying to get inside. Their mission was to locate and reclaim the lost artifact that someone among the foe was carrying.
Emerging from behind a batch of trees the skinks spotted the aelven cavalry making for the gates of the abandoned fort. On the opposite flank swarms of venomous jungle snakes slithered forth, guided by the magics of Ecotta the Priest. The mortals were now surrounded.

Mazatl and his Temple Guard had already broken through the lines of enemy infantry and were closing in from behind Lord Arocadel's mounted retinue, while Mage-Priest Tlaxinzi hovered his palanquin away from the many-headed war beast, battering the Black Guard with bolts of lightning as he went. Many aelven elites were blasted from their feet but this did little to suppress their morale in the thrill of battle.
By then only one loyal follower remained to defend the Mage-Priest: it was a Skink Chieftain, Tzatehe, who was keeping a group of spearmen at bay with his blowpipe and shield. As long has this brave skink still drew breath none would reach his revered master.

Mazatl ran as fast as he could, speeding across the drifts of snow in pursue of the enemy. The aelf lord flying ahead of him had to be put down at any cost, for he was responsible for the events at the Blackhill Barrows and most likely carrying the Spellglass Sphere. Next to their master rode the heavily armed Drakespawn Knights, their duty to ensure his safety. The Old-Blood growled a short command and the nearby forest burst to life...

From amidst the snow-covered trees a formation of Temple Guard surged forth, hitting hard and fast into the enemy's rear. Warriors jumped on the reptilian mounts, battering the riders to death with their clubs before felling the beast itself. The knights fell into total confusion. Before they managed to even get their lances pointing at the right direction, the last of the Drakespawn riders was pulled from his mount and torn to shreds.

Meanwhile the Mage-Priest was making his escape. Harnessing his great magical powers, Tlaxinzi zapped three more enemies into the dirt with his bolts of azyric energy before gazing into the skies and mentally working his way through the sequence of a very complicated spell. 
Just as the aelves were closing in on him, pushing past the courageous Skink Chieftain, the Mage-Priest finished his incantation. The complex runes and carvings in his palanquin began to glow bright blue, and the stone throne rose up higher and higher into the air. Without any apparent effort on the Slann's part the seat carried him over the enemy lines towards the abandoned fortress in the distance.

Things looked grim for the Exiles. Their lord was surrounded by a host of celestial daemons and the route to the fort would soon be cut off. Would the carrier of the Sphere get there in time?

Seeing his master float away from the danger gladdened Chieftain Tzatehe. Now he could focus on these pesky mortals and keep them away from where they were truly needed.
The spearmen closed in behind the cover of their shields, making only quick thrusts with their weapons. Tzatehe took two blades into his buckler, kick aside the third and sent a glowing bolt from his blowpipe into the direction of the fourth shaft. The bolt hammered into the face of an unfortunate aelf, drilling through his skull and slaying him outright. 
The sight of their blown-up friend's limp corpse falling to the ground made the aelves doubt for a while, but the fear of their own lord was stronger. From behind the first warriors more charged into the fray, thrusting their spears past their comrades into Tzatehe's exposed flesh. The Chieftain backed away, bleeding from cuts in his sides but determined to stay up.

Sensing that the Sphere was close, Priest Ecotta gave the command to fire a volley at the foe. As of one mind the skinks drew their shortbows and sent a cloud of glowing bolts into the Dark Riders. The blue missiles found their marks, thudding into the aelf cavalry like a lethal rain. Horses screamed and riders fell off their saddles, slain by countless bolts before they even hit the ground. Only one Dark Rider made it through, his fellows absorbing the shots before they could reach him. Seeing his friends perish so swiftly racked the poor rider's mind, but he had his orders and he would follow them until the end. Tucking a round object more firmly into the depths of his cloak, the aelf continued galloping for safety.

With the Drakespawn Knights now nothing more than gory prone forms on the ground, the Temple Guard spread out to block the aelf lord's path. At the same time Mazatl reached his prey, bouncing through the air and landing on the aelf's back.
His claws dug into the pale flesh, but as he raised his starmace for a killing blow, lord Arocadel twisted his upper body around and drove a jagged dagger into the Old-Blood's shoulder. Mazatl fell, but clenched his fangs around a wing and pulled his adversary down with him.
They thumped into the ground, rose up, and charged at each other roaring challenges.

Exile Lord Arocadel had been stopped and was now dueling with Mazatl for his life, and the Dark Riders had been decimated but for one individual who raced full-tilt towards the gates of the fortress. Captain Enead was leading the Black Guard towards their beleaguered master and the remaining aelf spearmen were surrounding the lone Skink Chieftain to prevent him from providing aid to he Mage-Priest who was confronting a War Hydra face-to-face(s). Anything could still happen and victory was hanging in the balance...

The enormous warbeast charged at Tlaxinzi, its all six heads roaring with restrained fury. The heads descended to attack, snapping at the Slann from all directions, only to be forced back by crackling batches of lightning that leaped from the palanquin's glowing carvings. Each head in its turn attacked, got blasted by lightning, and drew back screaming in agony. With the Hydra reeling from the strikes he'd given it, Tlaxinzi focused his powers on one of the heads and blasted it off with a stream of white energy.

Chieftain Tzatehe fought with all the skill he possessed, dodging the weary strikes of the spearmen. He trapped one of the shafts with his buckler, pulled the wielder closer and spit a bolt in the exposed chest through his blowpipe. Another thrust came his way, but the danced around it, grabbed another spear blade and directed it into the attacker's throat. The few aelves that were left backed out a step, keeping a healthy distance to this awe-inspiring fighter.

The last Dark Rider was almost at the gates of the fort, the hooves of his black horse drumming on the wooden surface of the ancient drawbridge.
Skink Priest Ecotta felt a burst of desperation in his mind. Part of it was his own, but he knew the Mage-Priest was also telepathically guiding him.
"Stop the warm-blood. Take him down. Now," were the words that the Slann formed up in Ecotta's mind.
Hissing a command the Skink Priest ordered his cohort to fire at will. The rider had to be stopped. A hasty stream of arrows sprang from the bows of the little creatures, hungrily closing the distance to the aelf...

Arrows clattered on the stone walls, thudded on the wooden drawbridge and hissed in the air around the rider. Even shots that were directly heading to the aelf and his mount missed at the last moment, and a dim glow could be seen under the horseman's cape.
The Spellglass Sphere was protecting its carrier.
However, arrows came in such numbers that not even the mighty artifact could deflect them all. One shaft sank into the horse's flank, another into the riders leg, and soon a whole bunch of shots found their marks.

The aelf cried out in rage as he realized he would never reach his destination and fulfill his master's orders. The cry was abruptly stopped by an arrow piercing his throat. He fell off his mount and thumped onto the drawbridge, his horse collapsing on the run. 
The glowing orb rolled from the depths of his dark cloak, falling off the drawbridge and embedding itself in the snow.

A group of skinks left the formation to reclaim the artifact, carefully carrying it back to Priest Ecotta.
"Our duty here is done," he thought, knowing that the Mage-Priest was still connected to his mind.
"Good. It is time for us to take our leave," was the reply that formed in Ecotta's mind.

The skink cohort fell back into the woods and swarms of snakes slithered back to their holes in the rocky outcrops. The Temple Guard sprinted away, followed by Mazatl the Old-Blood who separated himself from the aelf lord. Both combatants were badly bloodied, bearing grievous wounds from their savage duel. Arocadel made no move to stop the Seraphon general as it vanished into the woods, instead he collapsed sitting into the red snow.
"I'll have my revenge on you, daemon," he murmured to himself, spitting out the last word as if it were a curse. His captain and the unit of Black Guard ran over to him.

"My lord! Are you well? Here, take my arm and we'll get you to safety," Enead smiled and outstretched his gloved hand. The Captain's dagger was not in its scabbard.
"I don't need your help...servant," Arocadel hissed as he made himself rise to his feet despite the pain. He knew full well that showing weakness now would only earn him a knife in the back. He glanced across the battlefield and saw the Slann disappear in a flash of light, leaving the confused Hydra looking for its prey.
The rest of his men were slowly gathering around him, tired and beaten.

"We'll make camp in that fortress and resume our march at first light," the Exile Lord decreed, sending the remains of his army slogging towards the open gate. Standing alone in the snow, Arocadel winced as broken ribs moved in his chest.
"I was so close to unlimited power..." he sighed as he started limping after his men.


A very close game, this one!

We were both sure the game was over when it was my opponent's time to move the lonely Dark Rider in the middle of the board. It was a miracle in itself that the chap survived the ~30 shots from the Skinks, but then it seemed that this peculiar horseman would win the game for him, too.
When he measured the distance to the gate (reaching the doorstep was all he needed) we couldn't believe our eyes: he was left half an inch short!

The rest, as they say, is history. One Dark Rider against 30 shooting Skinks. No chance. In the end the lone rider took about 5-6 wounds and the game was finished, as he was the last living member of the unit carrying the hidden artifact.

All in all a good game against a good opponent.

Until next time!

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