Post by kerrah on Nov 8, 2017 19:06:07 GMT
The day had ended. Nikaioforos considered it a lukewarm success.
"At the very least, we can strike a doorstop here, and wait for reinforcements. The enemy will bleed themselves out and waste all their cannon balls trying to retake the gap", he mused to Princess Kassai as she strode out of his tent. After retiring from the intense fighting, she'd bathed and had a change of clothes, for which he'd gracefully provided her the privacy while he remained where he had been all day. Though her body language was mostly her normal cocky self, there was a look to her eyes. The look of eyes which had seen too many men die. Nikaioforos had had that look once, just about thirty years ago, he knew. And maybe more times since then, without his knowing. "It's not exactly the crushing victory we hoped for, though."
With a slight sigh, she sat on the edge of his cot. "Let's talk something else, yes?" She asked, more than a bit disrespectful to his station with her behavior. After a delay, she added: "...my lord."
"Fair enough", he yielded, toying with the slightly frayed edge of his blanket. "When did-"
He was interrupted by the sound of footsteps rushing uphill toward them. Thinking that it was an urgent messenger, he sat up and turned. But instead it was another Jelin. A girl slightly younger than Kassai, stick thin and wearing civilian clothes. Mercenaries came with families, servants and camp followers.
The princess stood up and spread her arms. The girl jumped at her, and the two embraced, before locking lips. Nikaioforos worked his jaw slowly and furrowed his brow. The two of them exchanged some quick words in their native language, and then Kassai turned to the general. "Excuse me, my lord. This is Uisa, who has the honor to be my wife until I return home." The girl smiled and curtsied clumsily.
When Kassai had served under her uncle years ago, her relative had sometimes said confusing things of her. He supposed that this explained it, then. "I am pleased to meet you", he said and gave the girl a polite nod. "Should I be calling you 'prince' then, Kassai?"
"Oh... no, please don't. Not in your language. Warrior is a male, but..." She trailed off, to find the correct words for it. "To my people, I am a man until I give up the bow. Then me and Uisa will find husbands. For now, she'll look after my tent and my clothes." She gave a slight grin and held the girl closer.
Nikaioforos suppressed a sigh. Mercenaries were a strange bunch. Men who were only paid for their strength in arms and did not need to adhere to any strict social roles could always dance around custom and decency. Common men dressed as nobles, or taking grandiose names. Wives in every town they came around to, or queerer things still.
In this case, the Jelin princess seemed intent on being flagrant with this strange practise, and it wasn't like he could tell her off for it. He didn't care too much himself, but he knew the rumours it would start among the other high command when they heard about him entertaining the 'princess and her floozy'.
"Fair enough, Princess. Please tell your people that the Empress appreciates their efforts today. I can make no promises that tomorrow will be any easier, but they can take pride in knowing that they helped take down these walls which have never fallen down before", Nikaioforos indicated formally. After a few more exchanges the two women left. As he watched them walk off, leaning to whisper in each other's ears in an intimate way, he gave a weary sigh and said: "I hope you find your husbands."
[Man the walls with dummies and rest for the night. Keep up a formidable night watch. Once it gets pitch dark, send the skirmish cavalry Red C in small groups to patrol the No Man's Land in case of enemy assaults.]
Post by ashenmoon on Nov 10, 2017 17:27:21 GMT
turn 5: day 1, midnight - MAPS LINK (no map for the night)
turn ends: Tue 14 November
As the last light of day winked out, the armies settled in for the night. Lucrezia Dreyal, along with most of the Malvern leadership, received summons to the Hunter’s pavilion.
For all the martial and raw air of his Aspect, the Hunter’s pavilion was a piece of decadence transported here into the midst of wilderness. Its main chamber was large enough to house a hundred men comfortably, and the walls were adorned by mounted heads of exotic animals, and hung with heavy furs and the heraldry of vanquished enemies.
“The Hunter commends our loyal friends: General Nikaioforos of House Argynyx, and his many allies he has brought to our cause; Master Lascaris, and the trustworthy servants he bends to the will of Empire; Lucrezia Dreyal and the generosity of Dreyal Bank and its agents; and our erstwhile Fist, Master Troklos, who could not join us tonight.”
The Mark paused.
Silence stretched, as the many who had gone without mention glanced warily towards the throne-like seat in which the Hunter himself sat ensconced with a far-away gaze, only occasionally piercing through the assembled crowd. More than a few dark looks passed Lucrezia’s way - the Malvernians were a proud nation, and it was a little-held secret that much of this expedition was enabled by Plutarian funds and foreign mercenaries.
“For all their heroic action on this day, however, our master has noted two things which cast a shadow on our mission. One: that our enemy has been reinforced, not by other garrisons of the mountain, but by forces whose presence so close nearby can only be called… fortuitous. The enemy we now face equal us in numbers.”
“And the second?” general Boriates prompted after another pause.
“Someone has been passing messages to the enemy. General-”
“Fuck the design!” growled a voice from Lucrezia’s side. Startled, she stumbled back - and just in time, as a blurred commotion burst by her. Fallen to the ground, she looked up to see the Hunter, holding General Arbanes by the throat above the ground.
“House Arbanes,” the Hunter intoned. “Daughter married to the beloved nephew of dishonorable Irbis.”
“Fuck the... lizard traitor… Syagrene...”
“And so you fell so low as to assist the Inquisition. To attack Our house, with Inquisitor-magic and gunpowder fire.”
“... man… equal…”
“Who was working with you? Who sent the messages?”
“... fuuh... uuhh...”
A low crack was audible in the deathly quiet room. Toxic-colored froth spilled from Arbanes’ mouth. The Hunter let go, and the man crumpled to the ground, spasming. The Hunter looked down, frowning. It was over quickly.
It was not long after that Nikaioforos, on his way back to his headquarters closer to the Rear Walls, heard the sounds of battle, swiftly followed by the trumpeted alarm.
It was dark - what little light the moon and stars shed through the thin cloud cover, Nikaioforos was blinded to by the torches and camp fires of the army. Hurrying forward, he grew little wiser from his aides at the headquarters. The cannon fire had continued throughout the darkness, crashing against the Rear Walls, often wildly off target. Cavalry scouts had been sent out in a discrete trickle, but barely had they sent out before they came galloping back. On the heels of their warning followed swiftly a Republican attack of unknown dimensions - for all that they knew, the entire Republican army. Almost as soon as they reached them, they had retaken the Rear Walls.
Someone cried out a warning over the din of chaos and confusion:
“Cavalry! There is a cavalry charge coming!”
He would need to deal with that. Their front was already fallen: it was time to minimize the damage - and maybe make the enemy pay for their boldness.
Synesius was once more preparing for sleep, watched over by Makario, when one of the Steadfasts came bounding into his camp. It did not speak using its voice, but even spirit-voices require the listeners to be in the vicinity.
There are enemies in the mountains, retaking the heights.
There were really two Republican camps, Denios Troklos swiftly discerned. The southern one was the host they had been battling earlier in the day. The northern camp, encircling the cannons - which kept firing, even when it plainly had gotten too dark to see what they were hitting - consisted of the host which arrived in full by nightfall.
Both camps were beehives of activity long after dark - much as he would expect of an army at a battlefield. It was only slowly that he began to spot the undercurrents of movement, which left behind a camp seemingly settling down but in fact siphoning off into the darkness, and came to appreciate that much of their enemy was well-trained in subterfuge.
“They are going to attack,” Paulus whispered, an instant after Denios had drawn the same conclusion.
Troklos swallowed a curse. There existed magics to facilitate distance communication - sending birds and such with messages - but they had none here.
“Send a runner. Warn our camp.”
“It will be too late,” Paulus replied, but ordered one of his Lapsed away anyway.
Troklos looked back down the enemy camp. There were fewer of them down there, as more and more of them disappeared in the darkness of no-man’s-land. But several companies, a regiment or two, remained and surrounded the enemy cannon.
Another of Paulus’ Lapsed returned a while later with a scouting report: an enemy force, about a company strong, seemed to be searching the mountains. For them, he had to assume.
Post by kerrah on Nov 15, 2017 10:42:56 GMT
Nikaioforos woke with a start. "Huh? What?" He asked, his dreams of childhood mixing with reality for a few moments. He was in his tent, and there was bedlam outside. "No... no no", he mumbled. "Help!"
If his assistants could hear him, they were too busy with whatever was going on to respond, so he swung his legs off the bed and gingerly stood up, trembling and unbalanced. He grabbed a cane and started toward the exit, almost slipping at one point. When he finally made it to the chilly outside air, he quickly realised what was going on.
"MESSENGERS!" He bellowed at the top of his lungs. "RIDERS! CLOTHES!" His assistants soon came rushing in and, muttering apologises, ran into the tent to fetch his clothes. Soon messenger spirits joined him as well. He tried to dig the tip of his cane onto the ground so it wouldn't slip when he entrusted more and more of his body weight onto it.
"Any pikes we have, put them at front. Other units back them up, and spread to the sides to prevent any flanking! Get our riders and try to slip past them, to encircle! Now! Now! Now!" He growled at the birds, which took off. He didn't have time to figure out which was going to which unit. Someone threw a robe onto his back to keep him warm, and a chair was placed behind him, so he could mercifully sit down.
"Whoever's in command over there, I hope you're proud for this", he mumbled bitterly as his bodyguard were assembling and forming a protective perimeter around his tent, just in case.
Post by HED on Nov 15, 2017 13:18:37 GMT
Troklos looked back down the enemy camp. There were fewer of them down there, as more and more of them disappeared in the darkness of no-man’s-land. But several companies, a regiment or two, remained and surrounded the enemy cannon.
Another of Paulus’ Lapsed returned a while later with a scouting report: an enemy force, about a company strong, seemed to be searching the mountains. For them, he had to assume.
<Forward Strike Team>
“An enemy force, about a company strong, seems to be searching the mountains,” one of the Lapsed, a woman with a shaved head, reported, bowing.
For us. Denios thought to himself. He chuckled as he heard the news of the Republic’s search party. Melusene began to purr. And Paulus let out an exasperated sigh. They were huddled behind another identical rock outcropping. Denios wondered if they would be more easily differentiated in daylight. Based on what he’d seen of Carrana before nightfall, he doubted it.
“Liadne, yes?” Denios said the woman, “You’ve done well.” He nodded at her, and she took her cue to leave.
He turned to Paulus, who had furrowed his brow in evident distemper. Behind his stood Osric of the Hammer, a woman named Keats from the Precision unit, and Melusene. Osric and Keats were blank-faced.
“Are you always so jovial at the sound of impending doom?” His nephew asked.
“It’s perfect,” Denios explained. “This is as vulnerable as those cannons are going to get. The bulk of their forces have gone to attack ours; what remains is comparatively a token force.”
“Comparatively.” Paulus deadpanned. Denios might have taken offense at such a manner from a stranger, but he know that Paulus and his compatriots were loyal and brave. This was not a coward’s sardonic attempts to save their own hide, but the casual talk natural between family.
“There’s no good in being dour in the face of battle,” Denios responded. “Why, Paulus my boy, don’t you see? If they’ve sent a force into the mountains to find us, that means they’ve subdivided even further. Time to strike while the iron is hot.”
“Even still, we don’t have the numbers for an outright battle.” Osric chimed in. “He’s not wrong about that.”
“Thank you,” Paulus said over his shoulder at the mercenary.
“Of course not. But we never set out for that, did we? Not quite. We’ll move quickly. Do what damage we can without unnecessary sacrifice. We shall see how confident the Republic’s march remains when their camp is in flames.”
(Purple commander, ML, Green X, PR: Avoid the enemy’s search company and take advantage of their emptying camp, harassing the enemy regiment at the cannons and setting fire to the camp if possible.
Do as much damage as can be done but avoid turning the attack into a suicide mission.)
Post by ashenmoon on Dec 8, 2017 8:16:47 GMT
turn 6: day 2, dawn - MAPS LINK
turn ends: New Year's Day
Dawn’s early rays threaded through peaks in the east, tracing shadows over long lines of tired men and scattered warbands roaming the Plain. Gunfire rattled unevenly, piercing through hoarse cries and battle-shouts.
Republican forces, climbing out of the Upper Valley, emerged back onto the Plain - many stumbling with weariness and clutching wounds. A strange mood prevailed among them: a core of triumph slowly yielding to panic.
Malvernian cavalry soon gained the Plain behind them - and, beyond the horse companies rushing forth to harry the retreating Republicans, was heard the steady rhythm of infantry marching in orderly formation.
The night had been long, and confusing. It was not until well into the day that the generals of the opposing armies could form a coherent picture of what had transpired.
Some hours after midnight, the fresh regiment of Scarred (H3) who had held the Rear Walls and so formed the front lines of the Malvernian camp, spotted gunfire in the darkness of the Plain. With the Republican main camp visible in the distance, lit by small yet seemingly settled pools of light, it was first believed that this was simply a small skirmish between enemy scouts and the Malvernian cavalry sent forth to patrol the no-man’s-land.
This view was shattered when the cavalry - who had in fact stumbled across the better portion of the entire Republican Hunter regiment (K2) creeping through the darkness - came rushing back into camp in disarray. Almost the instant before the enemy appeared in the light shed by torches set in the Rear Wall, the cannon fire - which had been relentless throughout the night - ceased.
The sudden silence was immediately broken as the Hunter regiment rushed forth, firing swift volleys and taking the eastern portion of the Rear Walls. Soon, they gained the heights on that side of the Upper Valley, and began firing into the confused concentration of troops where the Scarred and cavalry companies were still trying to bring clarity into the situation. They would have wreaked untold damage then, had not the Iron Curtain cadre of mages been present - and the storm of bullets became instead a light pattering.
At the same time, the Highlander regiment (K1) pushed back the defenders on the western arm of the Walls, and descended into the sleepy camps of Malvern’s forward units. While elements of the Highlanders soon became embroiled in chaotic melees with Scarred units, as well as an alert pike company carrying ensorcelled armour (MP), the rest of the Highlanders descended upon the camps of Malvernian tribal allies.
In the centre, the Inquisitorial Legion appeared at the lip of the valley just as the Scarred defenders had reformed: for a while, the Republican advance was halted as heavily armed tribesmen rushed forth to hold the walls. Then the Legion fell back - opening the way for several hundred cavalry to charge through.
Although split in two, the Scarred would go on to fight to their very last in bloody melees flowing across their burning camp, doggedly holding their positions and keeping the Republican cavalry charge from ever gaining momentum. Through their sacrifice, disaster was averted.
Although the Highlander regiment ravaged the east portion of the camp, and the Inquisitorial Legion - under Giovanno Ganado - burned all they could reach in the centre, their reach ultimately never extended very deeply into the Malvernian camp. With the massed Republican cavalry never managing to reform their ranks and launch an unhindered charge, they instead swarmed this way and that, seeking opportunity without finding it. As the attack wore on, it became clear that the main instruments of the charge - the Highlander and Hunter regiments - were as much a hindrance as use as many, too exhausted to continue the fight, began to stumble back to their camp.
With the time bought by the Scarred, and the shelter provided by the Iron Curtain, plus the distance afforded by the depth of their camp, General Nikaioforos’ headquarters - although retreating several times from Ganado’s approach - had time to form a core of defenses. First the Third Chorus, then more and more joined the force, and Malvernian cavalry reformed behind them.
With the first rays of sunlight reaching the highest peaks in the west, and the tide turning against them - spearheaded by Malvernian Fuma riders charging forth - the Republicans sounded retreat. Although the attack had been spectacular, and several Malvernian units had been completely wiped out, the urgency with which they now had to leave soon sent trickles of fear down the Republicans’ backs. Seeing a pillar of black smoke rising from their own camp did little to steady their hearts.
Up in the western mountain, Donato Khalez and two companies of his mountaineers had engaged Malvernian golems not long after midnight. Over several hours of nerve-wracking fighting, the mountaineers managed to bring down the Iron Giants, one by one - many falling to their ruin after being lured to the edge of a great precipice.
When, finally, the last Golems were either dead or retreated, the mountaineers proceeded to descend from the heights, following the ruined remains of the fortified staircases that connected to the Vanozza Fastness.
There, positioned in between the two halves of the Malvernian host and ready to strike the back of Nikaioforos’ slowly forming defensive line, they would have been able to do great damage, and undo much of the gathering cohesion among the Malvernian defenders. But, for the third time this night, the Malvernian army was lucky: the Triune Riders camped nearby, almost alone in the wreck of the Fastness.
While Donato’s men managed to set fire to several of the great catapults the Malvernians had stationed there, they were defenseless against the Triune Riders’ sparkling magics, and when the Triunes were joined by Scarred heavies and a Finger of the Malachite Hand, the mountaineers retreated up the paths they had just descended, taking many casualties before finally breaking free.
The Republican cannons had fired throughout the night from the centre of their camp: when the main attack began, they were finally quiet. For a while. As the Republican troops engaged the Malvernians on and then behind the Rear Walls, the cannons were rolled forward and began firing blindly deeper into the Upper Valley.
While this did not have any great effect on the battle as it developed there, it did leave the cannons in a position between the main camp and the force ahead. Although escorted by a large troop movement - a full regiment and several smaller companies - from the safety of darkness, hidden eyes perceived an opportunity.
First, soldiers of the Stonefolk commune took a sudden and shocking series of volleys fired into their midst. The Hammer outranged the Stonefolks easily and, under withering fire, the Stonefolks charged out of position to engage the enemy.
Next, a company of Ember Pike found a great, sleek black shape storming through their relaxed formation like a hurricane. Melusine, the giant panther, tossed men like toys, left and right, and had all but routed the Republican company before a group of binding-tattooed Ember Priests arrived. Chanting their grating voices, their spell was awarded a yelp of pain and the disappearance of the black phantom back into the night.
In the opening thus created, a group of elite soldiers - the Malvernian Lapsed - seized the opportunity. The night was briefly lit by a great explosion - the gunpowder stores of several batteries of cannons turned against themselves, and leaving ruined wrecks where shining metal cylinders had stood before.
As swiftly as they had come, the Malvernian attackers fell back - with most of the Republican camp charging after them.
They had taken a beating, Nikaiofaros knew. But it could have been much worse, and now he could feel the tide of battle turning in his favour. If they pushed now, with fresh troops against the Republicans’ worn-out ones…
“Where the hell is Kassai?” he asked, not for the first time. All the rest of his command was accounted for by now.
At the same instant, a Jelin girl rushed into his headquarters - Uisa, he realized, Kassai’s… wife. The girl had been crying.
“They took her! The Inquisitor men… they took her!”
Troklos saw the grins, felt the easy confidence of the men around him as they dodged out of reach from the sluggish Republicans. Casting a glance back, he paused for a while: he could see what seemed to be the entire Republican army, strung out in two loose clusters. One, centered around their camp and cannons - most of them chasing after him - and the other, emerging from the Upper Valley.
Judging from their condition and direction of travel, he was fairly certain he could rejoin the Malvernian host. Then again, with the success of the night raid, perhaps it would be wiser to continue to operate behind enemy lines and tearing into their flanks whenever opportunity arose...
Post by kerrah on Dec 31, 2017 22:10:29 GMT
By the time the sun rose, Nikaioforos' knee felt like a throbbing, swollen melon. He knew it hadn't grown that
much bigger from all the standing, walking, mounting up and down, and occasionally ducking at enemy fire, but this was too much for him.
When Uisa came in, she found him seated with a poultice over his leg, drinking from a goblet of hippocras laced with medicinal herbs. He couldn't take too many medicines lest he cloud his judgement, but at least the battle had stabilised to the point that he could sit down without having to immediately stand up five minutes later due to some new development.
"They won't kill her", he said to the sable woman immediately, sounding as sure as he was. "She is valuable for ransom. And they won't torture her for knowledge. An idiot knows that mercenaries aren't informed about our grand plans or future strategems." His harsh assurances seemed to be little consolation to her, though. Uisa was no warrior; though used to seeing battle, she was still merely in charge of their company's logistics, not someone who was usually this close to fighting. She stood mere two paces away from Nikaioforos, but for all he could step forward to lay a sympathetic hand on her shoulder, she might as well have been in Falor. Even the thought he standing up made his knee ache. "Stay strong. That's what she would tell you to do if she was here", he added in a somewhat softer tone. It was a cliché, the most basic thing you told to a soldier who'd lost their comrades, but that was merely because it was almost always true.
"What are we to do?" The girl asked. "We've lost so many..." Her view of the battle was warped by the news of losses coming in from the Jelin. The Republic had no doubt inflicted more casualties than they'd sustained throughout the night, but sometimes there was more to war than head count.
Nikaioforos gave a slight smile as he called for another messenger bird and spoke to it: "Lord Hunter, I humbly request the use of our cataphracts to pursue the enemy.
" As the bird flew out, he turned to face Uisa, rubbing his tired eyes as he did. As a boy, he'd remarked how his grandfather seemed to barely need five hours of sleep each night. He wished he was that old already, just for that single beneift.
"Uisa, there are three principles to all combat. Not just war, but fistfights, duels, raids... any form of violent conflict between individuals or groups. These were laid out by Loedius of Myrnium in his famous treatise centuries ago. I'm not a bookish man, but this isn't my first injury I've been recovering over, so I took the time to read it years ago. The first of the Three Principles is To Exert Minimum Force Needed
. To throw all your power behind an attack, whether it be a punch, a sword slice, or a charge in a battlefield, will mean that if you fail to destroy your foe, you will be caught astray. Whoever in the Republic planned this attack broke that rule. Their initial charge was effective, but they've overextended. If we were to call off fighting right now, they would come out on top. But a battle isn't over until one side gives up." Nikaioforos felt a strength inside. A fire he hadn't felt since his injury. "Not only will they be forced to retreat from our counteroffensive, and suffer losses while they flee - who knows, we might recapture Kassai - but they've also violated the Third Principle; To Find An Optimal Range of Engagement and Favour It
. We are going to capture their cannons."
He ordered the pursuit. The infantry would make a beeline at the enemy cannons, while the cavalry would protect their flanks and prevent scattered enemy units from clumping up aroud the artillery. If this worked, the Republic was doomed.
In its short history so far, the Republic had never been on the winning side of a battle involving the imperial cataphracts. Of course, that mostly had to do with the lack of battles between it and Malvern, but if this strategem paid out, Nikaioforos had half a mind to commission a song about how the infidel can never prevail against a charge of Malvern's elite.
Kassai groaned as she came to. She was immediately aware of the wound on her side. She vaguely remembered the enemy rushing over her. Her mouth tasted of dirt and blood, but so far she was alive. That was a good start. She was being hauled on top of a saddle, hog-tied like a goat about to be butchered. She fought off panic, and instead focused on taking in her surroundings. The men around her were strangers, and she couldn't see their banners in the dark, and from the angle she was set. She'd barely had time to burst out of her tent before they'd taken her, but based on the fact that she was being kept alive, they knew who she was. Maybe they'd seen the tribal device before her tent.
"Where are we going?" She asked in a hoarse voice, and spat onto the ground. "Who is in charge?"
[Also recruit a 3-point slinger company from our reserves. Send them to our west to harrass the enemy mountaineers, with the help of Mike's fliers, with the aim or preventing those baddies from causing any more trouble.
Request Lord Hunter to move our reserves into the middle valley so I may have access to them easier if I need more. Dev's leftover units can stick with them for now. MH can also stay with the reserves, but bring up TR to my main offensive.]
Post by ashenmoon on Jan 3, 2018 20:30:45 GMT
turn 7: day 2, hour after sunrise - MAPS LINK
turn ends: sun 7/1
An hour has passed after the sun rose over the Plain. Death hovers in the hazy air above the mountains of Carrana, cawing his many-throated glee from black-winged vantage.
The Republican raiding force - victorious, confident - headed north across the plain, towards the pillar of smoke marking their cannons’ position and reinforcements. But close though it seemed, it would prove just too far away.
Malvernian cavalry (C1, C2, C3) charged into their backs. Republican cavalry - the Pebblehoof nomads - rode forth to screen the retreat: but their mounts, as weary as their riders but without their masters’ urgency, were too slow. The Malvernian charge struck full force, and the Hunters (K2) had to turn and fight. Their swagger soon was replaced by shock, then panic - made worse by the realization that the High Inquisitor, Aurelius Manza, had left them behind. Giovanni Ganado and the Inquisitorial Legion yet remained, disbelieving the sudden reversal in fortunes.
At the western passage out of the Plain, a new knot of Republican forces coalesced. Donato Khalez and his mountaineers, returning from their battle with the golems in the night, met up with Captain Zophia and her Republican garrison from further west along the Wall. For a moment, it seemed they would charge into the bloody and confused melee engulfing their compatriots… but they turned north, towards the Republican camp.
The Inquisitorial Legion fought rabidly, surrounded first by Malvernian cavalry, and then facing a fresh wave of infantry - the Three Choruses. They cursed their enemies to the bitter end: and then, with their last breaths, cursed the Monarchist traitors - the Pebblehoofs, who escaped east while they yet could. The Hunters regiment, trapped as the Inquisitors, fought no less desperately - but when they could see hopelessness of their situation, they surrendered and were led down the Rear Valley.
Of the main Republican raiding force, only the Highlander regiment (K1) made their escape to the western force, fighting off cavalry and suffering a steady hail of slingshots from the rested Goma Slingers (A3).
On the eastern flank, a company of Fuma cavalry (C2) charged after the retreating Republican Pebblehoofs; soon they found themselves embroiled in a swirling, loose melee with Stonefolk mountainmen (S2) returning from having given chase to Melusine and the Malvernian raiding force. Galloping this way and that across the plain, forming and shattering knots of resistance, the Fuma were stalled and in turn stalled their opponents, until light Saktha warriors (La) and the Third Chorus arrived to shore up a loose, wary battle-line.
All this time the cannon had fired but a few, high shots, unable to strike the enemy without going through friendly lines: but now, as the Malvernian Choruses and cavalry charged forth against the Ember Hawks (EH1, EH2) that guarded the artillery, they fired unhindered. Many died, and they diverted west - taking cover by contesting Donatos’ western force’s attempt to rejoin their allies. Soon, Donato’s force found themselves assailed on two fronts - from the east and from the south, and with slingers threatening the third front - and only by a personal, and desperate, counter-attack did Donato stabilize his line: many of his close companions fell then.
But in the gap of the Malvernian line left by the Choruses’ diverted attack, a new company revealed itself: two hundred heavy cataphracts (C4) in gleaming armour, scions of Malvernian nobility. Blowing trumpets of silver, they thundered across the field in a sudden charge, they smashing aside the stunned Hawks - pushing them into pikemen rushing forth from behind, confusing the Republicans’ lines, and inflicting great casualties.
And now - this all had happened so swiftly, so suddenly had the Republicans been cast from their expectations of victory and an easy retreat - the Triune Riders followed in the cataphracts’ tracks and almost casually captured several batteries of cannons (IC2). The other cannons escaped their grasp - pulled by powerful horses and on rattling great wheels, the cannoneers escaped west and behind Donato’s force.
The Triunes looked north: there Constantin Noval’s Monarchist banner flew over a swiftly approaching formation, fresh and organized. In the west, Donato’s force struggled to defend itself. In the east, beyond a loose, wavering no-man’s-land, a full Republican regiment was approaching.
All hung in balance as the tide, once again, began to turn...
General Nikaioforos listened to the messenger the Triune Riders had sent, describing the situation on the plain. His attendants carried him slowly up the Rear Valley, so that he could soon witness the action for himself. But it was difficult to focus on the tactics at hand, when all the Jelins about him were howling their throats out.
The messenger was none other than Princess Kazzai, somewhat bruised, but returned from her stint as Giovanno Ganado’s prisoner - and with the man’s head in a burlap sack.
Uisa could not cease praising Nikaioforos.
Post by kerrah on Jan 7, 2018 13:19:50 GMT
The throbbing pain on Nikaioforos' knee turned his smile into a wince. "Princess! I was already drawing up estimates for the size of your ransom." He quietly requested his servants for more water to be boiled for the heated bladder on his propped-up leg before turning back to her. "Stay here. You have suffered enough in this battle."
A new batch of reports came in. The general turned to his left and instructed a servant to update the board laid in there. It was a map of this region, drawn onto parchment, and game pieces were scattered here and there, their placements based on the newest intel Malvern had on the proceedings. Kassai walked over to take a look at the situation as well. She was not as much a strategy person as he, but he could tell she wanted to learn.
"It's all over very soon", the cripple muttered distractedly. They'd caught half the cannons. He turned to a sparrow perched to the other side of his chair. "The Malachite Hand is to ride forth, past the gates, and then manoeuvre west, around our slingers, and try to capture the rest of the enemy artillery as it flees from the battle. Lucrezia's fliers are to help along, but afterward they must fly north to scout for any more approaching enemy forces." The bird took to flight.
"Are you throwing it all in?" Kassai asked, her finger stroking the piece which indicated the depleted Jelin archers resting beside this command post.
"Never. Never go all in", Nikaioforos grunted in frustration, but then softened his tone: "Our army is very lopsided, though. If we hadn't lost so much of our infantry, I would draw back, destroying their artillery, and form a defensive line. But we work with what we have." He sighed and turned to another messenger bird. "I will have to deploy what we have left, in any case. Send forth the rest of the Saktha, and the Sabolna archers. Have all our archers move some distance past the gates, and cover any retreat we might do. The Jelin should focus their fire on those musketmen to the northeast [S1]. The Sabolna are strictly to fire if enemies move in their inferior range, and not to go running after anyone." The Sabolna used simpler, weaker bows than their Jelin cousins, and would not have the same strength. "The Saktha should follow toward where the cataphracts are now, to meet that fresh enemy force. Send my personal sappers forward to construct fortifications at the gates, in case we need to retreat back past them, and the Demolisher Giants to guard that breach!" This bird took off as well.
"This looks like an all in, general, even if you are working on the possibility of a retreat", Cassai said as her wife began to bandage her. Her tone irritated the general, but he restrained from snapping at her.
Instead, he closed his eyes and tried to visualise as many of the possible ways this could backfire. What if the enemy had yet more mountaineers stashed somewhere? What if they came from behind? What about the traitor? His stomach turned in nausea at the thoughts. "Water", he mumbled, and soon a servant was pouring him chilled water to calm his guts. As he drank it, he turned back to Kassai and the game board. "It all depends on Troklos. I've set up this flank for him. He had better take it."
He turned to the rest of the birds waiting to fly. "This is my order to our forces at the front. They are to give ground if needed, and not to spread too far from each other in their fighting. If things look tough, start pulling back toward camp in an orderly manner. The Iron Curtain must be kept safe. The Triune Riders are to slow down the advance of this fresh enemy force to buy time for reinforcements."
As the flock took off, Nikaioforos tensed a little bit and winced once more from the pain on his knee just from the feeling of the tensing muscles. He cursed under his breath.
The Jelin were already taking off, northward. Princess Cassai watched them go, clearly wanting to leave alongside them. Uisa broke her look with a kiss. Nikaioforos averted his eyes.
For Uisa, just having the princess back was enough of a triumph. Her day saved. But for him, only victory in this battle would suffice. That was all he wanted.
Post by ashenmoon on Jan 9, 2018 16:36:46 GMT
turn 8: day 2, two hours after sunrise - MAPS LINK
turn ends: sun 14/1
“Khalez!” screamed a voice from behind. Through the din of battle, Donato would hardly have noticed it - had not the fury been so hateful, so desperate, so… betrayed.
A gunshot, close by. He spun around to behold a commotion, a soldier - a Highlander - being wrestled to the ground. His rifle, smoking, was kicked away from his clawing hands.
“What is this? Polano? Is that you?”
“Fuck you,” the so-recently green recruit growled into the gravel. “Fuck your hunt for glory! You and the fucking Inquisition sent us all to our deaths - you abandoned us! Everyone is dead. Marco…”
The man transformed before Donato’s eyes. From raging beast, with barely a transition, now a slobbering wreck.
“Get a hold of yourself! Take him away. This battle isn’t done yet. Get those cannons installed! Zophia! That cavalry is about to ch-”
Turning around, he saw who the gunshot had hit.
Porphyro Lekapenos, master of the Triunes, listened to General Nikaiofaros’ messenger, nodded, and exchanged glances with his two companions. They had known each other for most of their adult lives - the Triunes lived, fought, and died in threes.
A moment of silence descended around them. Only two hundred meters away, guns were spewing acrid clouds into the morning air, and the world was dust and blood and sweat. The cannons which had escaped them were being surrounded by more Republican soldiers. That was to the west: to the north, a large force - perhaps as many as two thousand men - were approaching.
“Get the cataphracts. If we are to delay the enemy reinforcements, we will need more than twenty-one Triunes.”
Soon, his companions returned with Lord Theophan Mousele, every twitch of his enormous battle-steed setting his all-covering armour ringing with metal chimes. His cataphracts disengaged from the western enemy force, and formed up in three wedges, pointing north.
All in all, they numbered some two hundred men.
“Charge!” Porphyro called, and they thundered forth to their doom.
Now the situation was thus: on every flank, Malvernian forces pushed to defend their advantage. In the east, Fuma tribesmen skirmished with their Pebblehoof counterparts, chasing them once more away from the battle. Saktha and Scarred warriors, likewise, pushed Monarchist Embers and Stonefolks back. In the west, similar compositions of Malvernian tribal allies pushed against Donato Khalez’ ailing defences.
And in the north the cataphracts and Triunes, with astounding speed upon the level Plain, weathered a hail of gunfire and burst through Constantin Noval’s approaching reinforcements. The strength of their charge was such that the reinforcements were stopped in their tracks.
But the tide had already turned. A fresh regiment of Stonefolk mountainmen shored up the Republican east flank and pushed forth. And on the west, the Malvernian charge - bereft of the cataphracts’ momentum - faltered. Then the remaining batteries of cannon were set up, and soon the tribesmen were in full retreat.
A fresh wave of Malvernian tribesmen appeared from out the valley - but too late to do more than to form a defensive core around the Iron Curtain, serving as a lodestone for the scattered companies falling back across the plain.
The few surviving Triunes and cataphracts, sensing their allies were safe once more, disengaged and fled across the Plain, shedding weapons and armour for speed.
Republican cannon fire and Stonefolks chased them - but the latter soon faltered as long-ranged Jelin archers began assailing them from the Rear Walls. The former pushed the Malvernians further and further back - until the cannons eventually quieted, and the reunited Republican forces headed north, leaving the Plain.
In the woods northeast of the battle, a game of cat and mouse had played out. The Malvernian raiders - led by Denios Troklos - had been peppered from the trees by Republican snipers. Giving chase, they found the snipers knew the ground well - very well. It took her far longer than it ought to have, but at last, the giant panther Melusine found a group of them crossing through a glade. She pounced, revelling in having captured her prey…
… and found herself weak, powerless like a kitten. “Inquisitors!” she howled. Only by luck was she saved by the squad of Precision marksmen, trading fire with the Republicans while dragging her back over the forest floor, too injured to fend for herself.
Post by kerrah on Jan 14, 2018 20:23:33 GMT
[Send all skirmishing units up ahead to shadow the enemy army, staying scattered to avoid taking casualties from lucky cannon shots. The slingers can directly follow the enemy army on the path, and vanish into the hillsides if cavalry comes chasing at them. My skirmish cavalry C1 and HED's Malachite hand are to explore the side paths, looking for hidden ambush forces or such. The Flock are to fly north by northeast to explore the path through the mountains to see how viable it is for marching our army through.
All sapper units are to start deconstructing the walls our main army is positioned at now, to make it less opportune for southwards attacking. Collapsing stairs and stuff like that, so that we can withdraw behind it without giving the enemy a big advantage.
All our units south of the walls will march up to join the main army, which will make an encampment on the clearing north of the gates. recuperating from its losses and catching its breath for now. If the enemy turns around for another offensive, however, our cavalry will ride east to set up a flank while our infantry will draw behind the walls to defend.
Enemy captives are to be questioned harshly for any intel we can gain. One such will be released with a lamed or injured horse and be given a letter to the enemy command from General Nikaioforos. This letter reads the following:
"Falorian Officers. I beg your forgiveness for our intrusion and for the loss of life in the past two days. I offer you a ceasefire for two days so we may bury our dead, tend to our injured, and pray forgiveness for what has been done."
The purpose of this message is to trick the enemy into believing we are expecting reinforcements we actually aren't, and to provoke them. The armistice can easily be broken by the command of someone above Nikaioforos, which is why he's making it personally, rather than in the name of the empire.
If nothing of note happens for eight hours, we'll start heading north at a slow pace, keeping our skirmishers fanned out ahead of the army in case of ambushes.]
Post by ashenmoon on Jan 20, 2018 15:02:01 GMT
turn 11 (skipped ahead by 3): day 2, nightfall - MAPS LINK - one map showing the battle view, another showing the geography between this area and the previous
turn ends: thu 25/1
Skirmishers shadowed the Republican force well into the mountains. The road led north, then turned west, down into the large Itrina valley. An hour after noon, General Nikaioforos was told, the Republicans arrived at the town of that valley - Itrina town - and the skirmishers he had sent had halted well beyond it.
It was mid-afternoon when the Malvernian host began its tentative approach. Scouts found a trap at one side-route from the main road - buried mines, which were disarmed successfully. Other than that, their passage was uncontested. They arrived to the westward turn just as the sun began to set: with the day’s last light in their eyes, the great length of the Itrina valley was laid out before them. Far into the distance, beyond the muddled darkness of Itrina town, glittered Vaiparo citadel in the shadow of the mountains. Judging by the density of light there, most of the Republican force would be holed up in that stronghold.
No reply had yet arrived to Nikaioforos’ letter - then again, the enemy had not had too much time to consider.
Then the Mark appeared by Nikaioforos’ stretcher.
“Hunter is concerned,” he said.
“There is something… wrong. Ahead.”
“Wrong how? Where?”
“A… nothingness. The citadel.”
The Spirit would offer little more of use than that. Yet it was enough to give the questioners interrogating the Republican prisoners something to go on. Soon enough, they learned that there was a giant cannon in the citadel ahead - built and runed specifically to target and destroy magic. A spirit-killer.
The Mark returned.
“The Hunter is disturbed by this… monstrosity. He has decided to offer the campaign further aid from his personal forces.”
“If he could use that trumpet to bring down the walls of Vaiparo, as he did with Vanozza…”
“No. The monstrosity is too dangerous. Yet he has commanded me, and my companions, to assist in any way is judged necessary.”
“Yet… are you not all, in one degree or another, ensorcelled as well? You will be vulnerable to the cannon!”
“Nevertheless, we are offered.”
[12 points of reinforcements, with a catch: each unit must have a magic upgrade.]
Synesius Lascaris looked up. In the dark of night, it was hard to see - but he could just discern the hulking shapes of the mountains surrounding Itrina valley. And he could sense the properties of the marble that lay deep in the quarries burrowing into the mountain-sides.
The Mudmen and Iron Giants had suffered a great many casualties over the past days. Only two Giants yet stood, and both were damaged.
He knew he could use that marble to reinforce the army. Yet he would need sacrifices - souls - to power his creations. And they had captured several hundred Republican soldiers over the course of the past few days...
Post by kerrah on Jan 26, 2018 21:16:16 GMT
Nikaioforos had slept most of the way here. Before their departure he had been drifting off now and then, only to be brought back to awareness by the throbbing of his knee. However, after they took off he'd finally relieved command and taken enough medicine to fall into a deep slumber in his cot, which had been softly swaying left and right as it was carried. He finally woke up about an hour before Hunter's message to the pain in his leg when the drugs stopped working. The spirit caught him in the middle of being shaved.
He listened to the message patiently, gesturing at his manservant to cease the shave as he did. He stared out for a bit, contemplating his options. The world outside his tent was starting to grow dark. He asked the spirit to tell him the nature and talents of the magi who were being given over to him, and simultaneously had his shave finished.
"Very well then", he told the messenger. "Bring my deepest gratitude to Lord Hunter. We are all in his eternal debt." As the spirit left, he turned to his servant and curtly ordered: "You, go summon our high command. It's time to discuss what to do now."
Respecting his injury, the generals and commanders met in Nikaioforos' tent. He explained his plan to them, and after some discussion, it was agreed on. There was no way they were going to face that fortress and its fearsome cannon with their army in this condition, only saved from destruction by the exemplary performance of the Iron Curtain. And it was the Iron Curtain that they would turn toward once more for their salvation, along with the Kathodeen harridans whom Lord Hunter had loaned to the war effort. Two of them were former lovers of Nikaioforos.
The army would set up a phantom camp in this spot, with many light sources, and wait until it got dark before turning back and returning to where they'd passed the northward mountain path. The Iron Curtain and the Kathodeen would already head back with the Second Chorus as a body guard just in case. They would begin to clear up that path so the whole army could march through, bypassing the mountains. Nikaioforos also gave an order for the Goma Slingers to return so they might go scout out the path ahead of the magi.
When the army left their phantom camp, they would leave torches and a few spare tents behind so as to trick the enemy into thinking they were camped out for the night, at a casual inspection from a distance.
The army was to march down this mountain path with the infantry at the back - aside from the Second Chorus, of course - and magi specialized in offensive magic would stay with them and take any opportunities to block the path behind them by collapsing cliffs and so forth if possible.
The Flock was given orders to keep an eye on the fortress, and determine if and when the enemy caught up to their ruse. The cavalry would remain with the main column, ready to be wielded when needed.
While the orders were being relayed to everyone, Nikaioforos summoned paper and pen and wrote another letter to delivered by a released enemy captive. It read: "Faloran Commanders. I am sad to not have heard any response for my offer of armistice. My old heart it gladdened to at least be spared from too much bloodshed today. At midnight our army shall commit to mass prayer in memory of the fallen. It would surely please their souls if you were to join us, even if we must be so apart." He signed it and had it sealed, and then sent it away. This would make the enemy suspicious, hopefully. Make them either expect a surprise attack, or think Nikaioforos had a trap planned in case they repeated their night raid. Their safest bet was to stay behind their walls. Or so they'd think.
The released captive took off, westward, and soon after the magi started east. And silently, ever so silently, the army began to pack up their camp once more. Nikaioforos considered their situation, and wrote another letter, to be left in the phantom camp when they marched out. This one read: "We are returning to Malvern. Please excuse our intrusion. Consider it a friendly test of your defences." He had to restrain a chuckle when he sealed that one.
[readjust the exact timing of events if there is any change for the released enemy soldier to see our army preparing to depart; the idea is that he'll be out of viewing distance when things start going; it's okay if he comes across the slingers down the road]
Post by ashenmoon on Feb 1, 2018 15:45:43 GMT
turn 15 (skipped ahead by 4): day 3, dawn - MAPS LINK
turn ends: mon 5/2
One after one, companies snuck out into the night. By midnight, all that remained of the Malvernian camp was empty tents and camp fires which a few hundred Saktha warriors busily moved around, creating the illusion of a bustling camp. Along with the Saktha, squads of offensive magi lingered behind as the main force was already making its way through the mountains in the dark east.
Not long after midnight, and the Sakthas’ best imitation of a mass prayer, the enemy struck.
Gunfire raked the camp. Shadowy bands of raiders swept past in the dark. The Sakthas, spread out to maintain the illusion of a much larger force, were slow to react. Many fell to unseen snipers before Charger, the centaur-majordomo of Hunter and leader of the Armistice’s Band, rallied magi to counter-attack.
The enemy skirmishers fell back - and the Armistice felt the festering approach of Inquisitors-of-rank.
Swiftly the pursuit was called off, and those remaining in the camp were quickly evacuated. Not long after that, the heavy wing-beats of the Flock was heard passing overhead - pursued by the crackle of dark sorcery.
In the blackest night, in the deepest heart of the mountains of Carrana, long wavering lines of light threaded carefully, patiently, quietly. At times, the lights found themselves at a dead end as the maze led them astray; at other times, the lights struggled up steep slopes, or found themselves balancing by the edge of a sudden precipice. A few lights were lost - fallen into the dark, or caught in the labyrinth.
But the soldiers of Malvern crossed the mountains. By dawn, weary from the long march, they found themselves looking down the Long Valley and slumbering villages of the Republic.
Post by kerrah on Mar 18, 2018 18:27:16 GMT
Nikaioforos had been trying to suppress a smile for most of the ride through the mountains. If he was going to go down in history, then this stunt was something that was definitely making it into the songs.
The army was very worn down by the time it started filing out to the northern valleys. There was insufficient intel on the movements of the enemy. Were they already coming forth and threatening Malvern's army from the west? Could they still be hours from even reaching the exit of the passes?
"Start assembling a camp here, for our forces to rest", he said, gesturing the ivory baton in his hand at the valley up ahead. "The skirmishers have been pushed hard. They get six hours off to start with, unless something comes up. Call forth all of our cavalry that wasn't pushing hard at the front of this expedition. They are to scout westward and gain recon on the enemy."
Things were coming to a head. He had pulled a fast one on the enemy, and who knows, maybe it would give him a window to take that fort guarding the mouth of the valley while it remained largely unguarded. Otherwise, this tactic would convince the enemy that they needed to face him in a straightforward setpiece battle, lest he slip past them or get behind them once again.
While the army began setting up the camp, he warned his lieutenants: "Should the western fort be unguarded, we will continue our march fortwith. Keep your men ready to set off with little warning depending on the results of the camping. If we can occupy the fort before the enemy catches up, the day will be ours, undeniably."
Or they would be caught between a rock and a hard place by the Republic's forces hitting them in the back as they stormed it. Whatever the case be, the battle was nearing its climax. Nikaioforos tapped the baton to the edge of the cot, and looked up at the skies. Such a beautiful day for so much death.