- ends on Sunday 17
Link to map: dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14467358/eclipse/eclipse_republic_tactical_ag80135dgva_007.jpgGeneral
Late afternoon lowers itself over Varantium. Faintly claw the cries of dying men at the heavenly vaults as gods and generals play their games... First Citizen Avus Gula
Like waves breaking on the rocky shore, the zealots washed up against the Republican positions. Only slowly and from behind did their movement shift, like a vast entity blindly running its hands over a wall, looking for weaknesses - and it did. Pouring into the opening between the Republican forces, they charged - and crashed into a second line of defences, hastily drawn up by hard-eyed Faloran men ordering merciless volleys with clipped, desperate breath.
The peasant charge stalled, confused, recoiling at the sides from the press of gunpowder ruckus. Hot boiling blood calmed and eyes widening with sudden fright looked left, right, ahead and saw nothing but a miasma of dust and smoke and death-
Then came a sound as from a hundred trumpets, and from the midst of the fanatic horde there rose a cheer, wild and challenging. They surged forward...Jacopo de Campati, colonel of the 4th Pike Regiment, Republican Army
“Fire!” he howled, throat hoarse, and the snap and clatter of projectiles punched into the soft flesh of another wave of heretics. Still they came on, less than men, growling and spitting as they launched themselves to their oblivion.
“Second line, reload! Third line, fire!”
Another concerted crack, the flash of light and the plumes of smoke, and the reply: screaming, wailing, for a moment loud enough to pierce the din.
His men cheered, and Jacopo felt a grin spread over his grimy, soot-stained face. Stumbling and hopping and crawling, the backs of the enemy were receding into the ochre-hued dust rising like a mist. Behind them they left hundreds of their comrades wetting the ground, blood pooling, churning dry earth into slippery pulp, pathetically mewling.
“We got the bastards,” he shouted into the ear of his lieutenant, Borromeo. “We got them!”
Exhausted, men along the entire line fell to their knees, thanking the stars, while officers barked at them to get back in order. Never had any of them seen such mindless, careless rage - to see human beings charge to their deaths with so reckless abandon, to with the sheer press of humanity come close enough to force a melee between starved peasants and strong soldiers - it was enough to shake a man to his core. What were these devils? What had happened to them - what cruel masters had so contorted the forms and bodies of men, and supplanted their free souls with beastly relentlessness?
Then a new sound rumbled from beyond the mists.
Jacopo frowned. “Is that our artillery? About time they got a good aim at this!”
The answering roar of Dominii maniacs drowned out Borromeo’s reply. Shapes were now moving, dark shadows weaving through skeins of dust, and officers had no need to order their men back into formation now, no, nobody needed to be told to be ready-
Crashing into existence they came, first a handful, then a dozen, then a score or more covering the horizon - mastodons, huge and diabolical, curved horns carved with blazing runes, like scythes cutting down men where they stood, screaming and disbelieving- General Garrek (Renal Sistorian)
The enemy peasant charge cut obliquely across General Garrek’s position, finding a weak spot between his and the First Citizen’s forces. Gula did send reinforcements there in time to plug the gap - and for the longest while, the line held! When charging directly into Republican lines, the zealots were no match, no match at all to good strong soldiers.
His captains tried to draw his attention to the west and an enemy force on the move there, but there was little he could do about that now. The Inquisitor cadre had camped itself about the artillery, and were holding off those damned eagles.
It was getting time to take things into his own hands, when the worst happened. The enemy broke through the lines. Within minutes, hundreds if not thousands of screaming fanatics made it behind the Republican defences. While this opened them up for shrapnel from his cannon, it was only a question of time before this got out of control...High Inquisitor Pietro Gori
Chaos, dust and magic swirled around them, two drunk brawlers staggering, stumbling, shoving against one another. All order was disintegrated, but slowly the enemy cavalry was pushing Gori’s men back, step by step, into the valley behind. Grandmaster Kanrel Valtorian of the Archonic Knights, Dominion forces
Through the cleansing fires of war, they rode: the Archonic Knights, their fervour unmatched, throats booming with psalms of glory. The air reverberated with their holiness, the yapping fools of the heretic lines falling back, eyes whitening with terror, as their blackpowder foulness evaporated uselessly against their God-given bulwarks.
“Forward!” wafted the cries of Prince Kansar, far behind. “Forward!”
Kanrel Valtorian felt tears of passion sting his cheek, as another heathen fell to the jarring impact of his hammer, a beacon blazing with light for his comrades to follow. Flesh cracked, exploded, mounts buckled, men winced, folding in on themselves. An expanding circle of fear and death rolled out from the Knights and their holy song. Their sure-footed mounts descended into the valley, scuffed ground littered with castaway fire-sticks, jumbled into the gravel, pounded by triumphant hooves.
A banner resolved from the haze ahead, marked with wicked malevolence, infused with evil - a spirit, bound and tortured, held aloft to the sky. Inquisitors!
“To me!” roared the Grandmaster, and his faithful felt his rage and answered in kind. His hammer, held aloft, shone the way as they set forth - the elite of the elite, formation tight, galloping over the open spaces, geysers of earth bursting where enemy projectiles ricocheted harmlessly from their magics, calling oaths to the darkling sky, gathering speed and their lances lowering-
Red-cloaked, scornful, Pietro Gori appeared in the midst of his companions. The High Inquisitor raised a hand, and oily black ribbons unspooled from his fingers.
Hurtling through the grasses, the Archonic Knights felt the sting of surprise, their divine protection flaking off in filaments of burning incandescence - and a scatter of gunshot rapping their armament. Crying out their fury, their hatred, they crouched low and charged-
Coals for eyes. The High Inquisitor made a fist, and his men fanned past him, meeting charge with charge, long-barrelled wheel-locked pistols firing cascades of unearthly cinders, Daimon-bound. Amid the shrieks and wails, the rumble of hooves, the thunder of men howling “The Gods will it!” and the crash of jarring impact.
When it was all over, Prince Kansar Sistorian stood weeping over the ruined remains of his kinsman, the destroyed beauty of the Dominion nobility. Brilliance gleaming darkly in his fist, he looked up and faced the dead look of the High Inquisitor.
“You will pay for this,” Prince Kansar said, softly.
The battle still raged, elsewhere: here on this spoiled ground silence reigned.
The pause stretched. The High Inquisitor watched, unmoving, his companions beside him with mocking eyes.
He opened his mouth to speak,
Horns sounded from the ridge to the north. Dominion reinforcements had arrived. Commodore "Black Jack" Taniel Corso
Apparently, his scouts inform him, this island is called “Aemilon” and the town up ahead on the river is “Orian”. The great mansion has been taken without a fight, the enemy evacuating to the north of the bridge well ahead of his advance. The only fighting nearby is the occasional exchange of fire as his Inquisitors test the range of the enemy - and finding themselves outmatched.
The mansion, vast and ancient, towering and beautiful, stands still, serene. The parkland around it is well-tended and ordered, with fountains and statues. His men walk quietly, carefully, through the splendour.
A messenger arrives from the southern force. They have been attacked by strange water-beasts, throwing themselves out of the river and destroying three of the four bridges! The beasts were stopped from the destroying the last bridge, but clearing them out of the water and securing the crossings once more is difficult as gunshot has little efficiency while they are submerged.