Chapter I: The Mountains of Carrana, Malvern side Oct 22, 2017 10:24:48 GMT
Post by ashenmoon on Oct 22, 2017 10:24:48 GMT
turn 1: day 1, just past noon - MAPS LINK
turn ends: 25th October
“It is not yet time,” the Mark replied.
Denios Troklos casually noted Boriates’ suppressed frustration before taking in the Vanozza Fastness ahead. The man, Denios could tell, was all but bursting to yell at the seraph.
Understandable enough, as the host had been marching for nearly a month through wilderness inhabited only by rocks and wild savages. There were no less than four Generals-of-rank in the force - Boriates, Arbanes and Kolozotis, Nikaioforos; the cream of the Malvernian military - and none of them had an inkling of the Hunter’s plans.
Neither did Denios, technically speaking. But he had his suspicions.
As Boriates had pointed out, the terrorist attack against the Empress and Emperor had shook Malvernian society to its core. At least, that part of its society which recognized that such an attack ought to have been impossible - if not for inside help.
Just what was the Hunter hunting? Why bring the three top generals on an expedition - the Hunter was proud, but not wasteful - plus the one that had been all but incapacitated for a year? Nikaioforos, as far as Denios could determine, had had no opportunity to work treachery.
The others, however...
“... it does not matter,” the Mark was saying. “We have arrived.”
The Vanozza Fastness was built by the Mason, aeons ago. At least the core of the fortress, squeezed into between the mountains in a deep valley. Over the years, the Old Empire, Dominion and Republican additions to the original defences have, like barnacles over a behemoth of the deep, crept across the sheer mountain-sides, spilled out over the valley.
The forward defences - twin arms, resting upon the heights above and stretching east and inwards to almost encircle a region the size of a small city - were, naturally, the first to spot the column of Malvernian soldiers snaking up the winding road. These days, only the north side - the Marble Towers - were manned, as the stairs leading to the south side were in great disrepair.
Alessandro de Cereso, watchman on guard, managed a single, feeble ring of the alarm-bell before a pride of manticores tore his body apart. The sound coincided with a strange rain beginning to fall from skies turned a muddy ochre, and the rest of the company stationed in the Marble Towers did not manage to break through to the bell. They sent runners up the mountain to spread the word instead, and fortified themselves in the depths of the Towers.
So it was that it was Marconi Escula, two weeks from retirement, standing upon the battlements of the Fastness itself, that first saw the Malvernian host spilling into the Inner Valley.
Soon, all the Fastness was ringing with alarms and shouts. The garrison lined the crenellations and looked down as more and more of the Malvernian army appeared.
But, for all their enemy’s numbers, the Republicans felt little fear. The Fastness had never fallen. Few were the fools who had attempted to attack it. Not even in the dawning age of blackpowder and cannons was the Fastness threatened: for who had better artillery than the Republicans defending it? A garrison half their size could hold off an enemy twice as great for weeks.
Then a figure emerged from the midst of the Malvernian host. Silver flashed in the gloom as he put a hunting-horn to his lips and blew...
Someone was shouting at him. General Nikoforos of House Argynyx reluctantly lowered his hands from his ears: the noise was still deafening. He looked to his side.
“The honor is all yours,” General Kolozotis spat at his face. “The Hunter wants you to take command of the mop-up operations.”
The man had never forgiven him for a brief dalliance with his wife. Nikoforos looked back at the Fastness.
It was falling apart, brick by brick, towers toppling in clouds of spray, as if the very rock and mortar had turned to sand.