This was the situation at the end of Turn 6:
Given that almost all of the forces on the table were engaged, there wasn't much movement. Torin charges Ellendee with the gyrocopter:
The combat phase we've all been waiting for. Interestingly, none of the regular combat troops managed to wound each other. It was all down to the combat between Ellendee and Torin and the ongoing challenge between Gaymar and Morgrim:
Danak could feel his muscles burning. And if his muscles hurt, he knew the chaps in the unit would also be taking strain - exhaustion showed in their faces and in their fighting. The dwarves were tired too, and it seemed to Danak that both sides realised that the end was near. He certainly wanted to survive the day, and, it seemed, so did the dwarves. Both sides still struck at each other, but by some unofficial agreement, both sides simply decided to make lots of noise by striking each others weapons.
Gotta look busy, the glances of understanding foes said to each other. No one has to die, just gotta look busy. After all, it's all about them anyway.
Gaymar was oblivious to the pretenses of the other fighters. His legs ached where the dwarf had struck him and tears streamed freely down his cheeks to mix with the drying blood of his burning, broken nose. Whereas before he felt the excitement of battle, now he felt the desperation.
What was the most frustrating was that the dwarf didn't appear to be flagging under his wound. It was all Gaymar could do to stay out of reach of the dwarf's blade, but the blasted dwarf didn't appear to have broken a sweat.
Morgrim knew he would be sore tomorrow. The elf had been lucky, and Morgrim would be paying the price for weeks to come. It never crossed his mind that he could die today - even as he parried and dodged, he simply assumed that he would struggle to pick up his nephews or play baze ball for a while. Besides, it was evident that the elf couldn't see straight, judging by some of his wild swings. But, he had to admit, he was having trouble hitting the bloody twit back. He watched in frustration as the little shit bounced this way and that, constantly avoiding the ministrations of Mogrim's great sword.
It felt to Morgrim that he might have to think outside the box a little here. Clearly the elf wasn't prepared to stand still and fight like a dwarf, so he'd need to pin the irritating little runt down. He took a lazy swing at the elf, designed more to clear some personal space than to actually do any damage. The elf dived to the left and rolled over, stopping just next to an old tree stump, barely sticking out of the ground.
Gaymar came to his feet quickly. He knew he couldn't stay down at all - the great sword the dwarf was casually throwing about would easily split him in two. He was just in time too - the dwarf was coming at him in a reckless charge, with his sword high above his head. Time slowed to a standstill for Gaymar as he watched as the blade came down, knowing even as it sliced through the air, that he would easily side step the blow. It was times like this when he realised why the dwarves were so jealous of the elves - they were just so ... clumsy.
Intent on showing off, Gaymar didn't even move his feet first. As the blade came down, he first twisted his shoulder out of the way, then arced his back, forcing his hips to follow. It was like watching a ripple pass through his body, as his body almost curved around the descending sword. His thighs and then his knees swayed sensuously, neatly avoiding the gleaming metal. In his final display of elegance, Gaymar flicked his feet out of the way, spun in the air, and promptly tripped over the tree stump.
Mogrim had never hit anything quite so hard as he hit that tree stump. His wrists, elbows, shoulders and jowls shook with the massive shock of a mighty swing stopped by what felt like a block of granite. Even his teeth ached as they rattled with the vibration of the impact. With an impact like that, he either cut the bloody elf clean in two, or he'd completely missed the sod. Realising that his eyes were clenched shut, he blinked rapidly as he shook his head.
He'd missed completely. But, the elf was on the floor, so this was his chance. He tried to heft the sword up high.
The thing was stuck in the wood. He looked desperately at the elf, who still seemed a little dazed.
Come. On. You. Bastard!
Mogrim swore at the sword, but it would not budge.
"Screw it," he said.
Gaymar lay on his back, looking up at the sky. He had no idea how he had avoided dying just then, but he had, so that was okay. He wanted to give up. Just lie on the grass and call it a day. But he knew, as he lay there, that the psychotic dwarf was mere feet away, just outside his peripheral vision, probably even now swinging that sword down at him.
The thought of having his head split in two galvanized him into action. He rolled over onto his belly, away from the damned tree stump and crawled onto his hands and knees. He had no idea where his sword was.
He located the dwarf. Seemingly, the stupid creature had managed to get his sword stuck firmly in the tree stump he had just tripped over.
So it screwed both of us, he thought. That's better than nothing. Where the hell is my sword?
Just then, he heard the dwarf exclaim violently. Gaymar was stunned to see the dwarf running straight at him, having abandoned the sword to the tree.
Shit! He's unarmed! Where's my blasted - Gaymar's eyes found his sword. Aha! There it is!
Morgrim watched as the elf lunged for the sword. He grinned and shook his head.
Danak watched as Gaymar hurled himself at his sword. It surprised him that the dwarven commander hadn't even bothered with the sword, and just kept moving towards Gaymar.
In all fairness, Danak hadn't expected the dwarf to just grab Gaymar as he did. On reflection, Danak realised that the dwarf knew he didn't need the sword. No, it appeared the dwarf had no intention of using a blade to do his dirty work.
Both the dwarves and the elves watched as Morgrim jogged calmly over to where Gaymar was heading, reached out both his hands and grabbed the elf.
For the second time that day, the elves watched as their commander was dragged to his knees by his ears.
The spectating dwarves and elves collectively winced and gasped as they watched Morgrim move his head back, and with all his might, drove the eighty eight carat sapphire adorning his helmet deep into the already broken bridge of Gaymar's nose.
The crunch was sickening.
Watching the dwarven commander drop Gaymar's limp body, the Household Guard held their hands up in surrender.
So, in the end, Morgrim won through. Gaymar just didn't have dice rolls he needed to punch through - failing to wound Morgrim at the last hurdle. Morgrim only scored one hit in return, but it was enough.
Ellendee wasn't sure how she survived the steam attack. She new she had been badly burned, and seemed to have trouble seeing from one eye. But, as the boiling steam had burned her physically, so it had ignited her hatred for the dwarf and his machine.
Far from the confusion she had experienced trying to cast the fireball, she easily recited the words and made her arcane gestures with elegance and aplomb.
Ellendee watched with satisfaction as her fireball engulfed the dwarven flying machine. She felt the warmth of the explosion enraging her own burnt skin, but her joy at the successful spell quashed the immediate discomfort.
"Done and done," she said, dusting off her hands.
But the machine was not done. Even as the thought crossed her mind that she hadn't seen anything drop to the ground, the flying monstrosity punched through the smoke and flames, completely intact.
Ellendee's eyes widened and her jaw dropped in horror. The cold fingers of terror gripped her inside as she realised her position - she had her back up against the rock face, and as she looked left and right, she realised that she had nowhere to go.
Her prior magical efforts had left her drained of energy, and the burns from the steam screamed blue murder as she moved, but she had no choice - she would have to take the machine down before its next attack run.
Torin was becoming concerned about his water levels. He could feel the machine's lift become sluggish and good Guild discipline would suggest that he should not fire the steam cannon again, lest he jeopardise the massive investment the Guild had put into this gyrocopter.
The water level had concerned him more than the incoming fireball.
He was used to the gyrocopter now and he found it easy to manouevre the big machine. His primary concern was not to be hit with the fireball himself, so he had tipped the nose forwards, and released a little torque so that the gyrocopter twisted to the left. The fireball didn't hit him (which is what he wanted) but it did hit the boiler. Fortunately, the boiler was of good quality, and, designed as it was for heat, the explosion simply washed off its side.
Waves of fire rolled over him, but he didn't feel anything especially uncomfortable, given the amount of leather padding he was wearing. One doesn't straddle a steam pipe and rest one's back against a boiler without a little padding.
He grinned as he saw the expression on the witches face when he materialised from the smoke.
"That's right, lady," he said under his breath. He patted the framework of the gyrocopter. "I'm still here..."
Still, here or not, he was presented with a problem: if he wasn't going to shoot at her, what was he going to do? He had thought about tossing a grenade down there, but he felt he was too close and again, could put the gyrocopter in danger with the blowback from the rock face.
That's when it occurred to him. She's trapped, isn't she?
"Right," he said to himself, and pressed the stick forwards.
Ellendee was already chanting the same words she had spent the afternoon mouthing. She drew signs in the air and made ready to loose another spell, desperate to save her life.
But as she started making the sigil to target the flying machine, she realised that the pilot was driving it straight towards her! Her words faltered as she watched the gyrocopter bank into the curve of the rockface. Too late, she realised what was happening. She ducked low, but it was not enough. Evidently the pilot was used to dealing with short targets.
Torin reached out and grabbed a fistful of the witch's hair. He jerked the stick back, causing the gyrocopter to lurch away from the hill, lifting himself and the elven wench high into the air. She flailed at him, howling like a banshee, but he held on resolutely.
Later that day, he would reflect on how she had been the architect of her own fate. When she had stabbed his arm with her hair pin, what was it that she expected he would do?
Of course, he had let go. And, nimble as elves were rumoured to be, a twenty foot drop is a twenty foot drop. He never did see how she landed, but as he turned the machine around, he spied her crumpled form at the base of the hill.
"Just so you know, that's not how I wanted it," he said quietly.
Gayestin's keen eyes caught the wizard's fall. He wasn't sure how things were going on that side of the hill, but that seemed like a sure sign that it wasn't going well.
"Hey guys! Guys!" he shouted. "Let's beat it!"
As one, the wardancers flipped backwards and darted towards the forest.
Borri watched them run into the distance. He was relieved to realise that he was not the only dwarf resting his hands on his knees, puffing.
Modern dancing! He snorted. It would never catch on.
And so, in the end, Ellendee also fell in battle. She also managed to score a hit on the dwarf pilot, but the lucky fellow passed his armour save. It wasn't hard for him to overcome Ellendee.
This, then, was the situation at the end of the game:
In the next post, I'll wrap everything up with an epilogue, a discussion of the game, an explanation of anything that looks like it needs explaining and some before and after shots of the two armies.