Monday, 30 September 2013

Battle Report: The Bridge Over the River Chai - Epilogue

One year later, we're done. 

Boy was that hard. 

Attached is a handy battle navigator for you to catch up on events as they happened, because I'm sure most of you can't bloody remember what happened when this whole thing started.

Oh - and thanks for being patient. Better late than never, as I keep trying to convince my employer...

Battle Navigator

Epilogue (you are here)

***

Sirrell grinned as he realised the elf was awake and its eyes were locked on his body. He pouted at the elf, before slowly and sensuously undoing the knot on his gown. His grin widened into a broad smile as he registered the morbid terror in the elf's eyes - now unable to look away from the vast expanses of pasty dwarf flesh as the gown fell.

Sirrell half turned to show his back to the dwarf, reaching down and slapping his exposed buttock. He flicked his hair and looked away from the elf before inserting his thumb into the top of his red leather y-fronts, stretching the garment away from his waistline and allowing it to slap back into place.

The elf, eyes wide with utter horror, shook as he fought his chains, his protestations muffled by the red leather ball that had been stuffed into his mouth. His eyes goggled as he watched Sirrell begin gyrating to some internal, unheard music, like some giant corkscrew being twisted into a cork. Down he went to his feet, before slowly dragging his hands up his body. Now a spin, arms out. The elf, helpless and stunned, could do nothing but stare aghast as the hateful little dwarf pranced about before him. Thumb into the y-fronts again. Slap!

Suddenly the dwarf stopped, resting his right hand on his jutting hip. He locked eyes with the elf.

"I'm a little tea pot, short and stout!"

"Lfhdt mfft grro yff ffffkn frrk!" screamed the elf, his voice and muscles straining against the chains.

"This is my handle and this is my - "

Click.

Sirrell stopped dead. He caught the brief motion of the elf glancing over at something behind him, before its terrified eyes found their way back to him.

"What the hell are you doing?" growled a voice behind him.

"Gaaah!" he squealed, leaping into the air before spinning to face the voice. "Aahhh! Aaaahaaaa! I - uh... Aaaah." He ran his hand through his hair as he stared at the pistol pointing at him. "Hahaaa. Lady Luuhs. Uh. Um. How did you find us? This - isn't - what it looks like, you know."

Lady Luuhs cast her eyes around the dungeon. Curious chains hung from the wall and from what appeared be a leather covered throne against the wall. An assortment of different whips lay on a table next to an open chest, its contents hidden by what appeared to be a studded leather vest carelessly draped over the top.

"I'm not sure I know what this looks like, Sirrell. I've never seen anything like it before. Perhaps you'd better put your spout away before the teapot gets broken, hmm?"

Sirrell flashed a queasy smile at the pistol. He reached down slowly and adjusted his y-fronts.

"You've not answered the question. What are you doing?"

Sirrell squirmed, clasping his hands together. "Er. It's - it's an interrogation technique. Yeah. I'm, you know, interrogating it."

"Him."

"Er, yes, that's right. Him. Dead right. Haha."

"And how were you proposing that he answer you with whatever that is in his mouth?"

Sirrell deflated as he stared fixedly at the damning ball wedged in the elf's mouth. "Well. That's, um, that's obviously what the problem has been all along!" he cried, waving a finger in the air. "No wonder he's not answering the questions! Lady Luuhs - where would we be without you and your keen eyed observations, eh?"

Lady Luuhs raised an eyebrow. "See that chain hanging from the wall - yes, that one with the neck brace - why don't you be a good boy and fasten that around your scrawny little neck?" She waved the pistol towards the cold, rusted chain.

Sirrell grimaced and sighed, before brightening up quickly. "I've been a naughty boy, haven't I?"

Lady Luuhs said nothing.

"I mean - very naughty. Punishably naughty, yes? Because you can always use that wh-"

"You've got three seconds to lock that chain around your neck before I redefine your concept of pain."

"-ah. Right you are," Sirrell said, scarpering for the chain, the echo of which clanked around the stony room.

"Honeybunch!" gasped the elf as Lady Luuhs wrenched the ball from his mouth.

"Oh Smoothie!" she cried, kissing his forehead. "Stay here, sweetie - back in a moment!" she sang as she danced over to the wall that Sirrell was now attached to.

Testo coughed, watching with satisfaction as Lady Luuhs punched the red ball into Sirrell's mouth.

***

"Them ribs'll take a while," Cuttan Paest said, snapping his case shut. "Obviously, I can't help with the teeth - no doubt you'll buy some new ones anyway. The other cuts and stitches," he pointed at Morgrim's shoulder, "will probably heal quite quickly. Plenty of rest, really."

"Thanks Doc," Morgrim grunted, dropping is head back onto the pillow. He could not recall lying on so comfortable a bed as this one - his body felt like it had been awake for a thousand years.

"One other thing - I'm sorry to have to say it, but light beer only -"

"Aw Doc-"

"Don't want to hear it. Light beer or no beer. Doctor's orders!"

"I hate you, you know."

"I hate you too, buddy. Get well soon," Cuttan said as he stood up, smiling kindly at Morgrim.

"Cheers, Doc."

***

"Waddaya mean, escaped?" King Domcome hissed through clenched teeth.

Berni Ycklestone cringed before the king, his whole body wincing in anticipation of some physical retaliation. Arrayed behind Berni stood the full membership of the dwarven court, none daring to breath.

"Well?" demanded the king.

"Uh. Well, you know. Like, not there, really. Imagine an elf all changed up, right? Then. er...just imagine, well, chains. Y'know, without the elf. Escaped. Empty chains."

"And Lady Luuhs?"

The dwarf court experienced a collective intake of breath.

"Lady Luuhs. Lady Luuhs," Berni mumbled, as if trying to remember where he'd left his keys. "She's, uh, not - not here right now."

"Not here right now?"

Berni shook his head, his eyes taking in everything in the room except the enraged figure of the king.

"But she'll be back later, because you know where she is, right?" King Domcome's bare whisper was like a cold wind blowing over an open grave.

All seventy members of the court grimaced before shaking their heads. Of course they didn't know the answer, but - they knew the answer.

"Haha," laughed the page nervously. "I'm, er...that is, we - are sure she'll be back. Sure. Maybe she's just out-"

"You've lost her, haven't you?"

Berni looked down at his shoes and nodded.

King Domcome fastened his hans behind his back as he paced up and down the throne room, the sound of his heels shattering the thick silence.

"Sirrell's still there, Your Majesty," Berni offered after a while.

"What, you didn't set him free?" snapped the king.

"He, um, didn't want to be set free, as such. He felt that he'd - well, he thought he'd been - what's the phrase he used - naughty. He felt his actions contributed to this state of affairs. So we left him. He seemed safe and we are more concerned about the elf. And Lady Luuhs, of course."

"Of course."

Berni coughed, unsure of what else to say. Silence descended. Everyone stood rooted to the spot. THe king scowled.

After what seemed like an eon to the nervous court, he looked up at the court. "Why don't lot you lot just sod off? Not you," he barked, grabbing Berni by his collar.

Some courtiers blinked, others stared with mouths agape.

"GET OUT!"

They got out.

***

Testo looked down at the rushing water. "Are you sure?"

Fasten patted him on the hand. "They'd never think we'd go this way. A couple of decades ago, a worker fell in there and was never seen again."

The elf stared at Fasten, waiting in vain for her brain to catch up with her suggestion. Realising that eventuality was unlikely to materialise, he prompted: "That suggests that if we jump in there - " he pointed at the rushing torrent beneath them," - then we wouldn't be seen again either."

"Exactly!" Fasten beamed.

"...Because we'd be dead."

"Oh! I see wh-"

"Yeah," nodded Testo.

"No, no - you think the bloke that fell in there died?"

"That's what you said."

"No, I said he'd never been seen again. Except by me, that is." Fasten winked at the confused elf.

Testo sighed. "We don't have time for this. What happened to him?"

"He popped up on the shore of Oresohn's Well. It's a mountain lake in the northern reaches of the range, quite close to the Wyemm Seeyay, actually. Maybe two days travel?

"Yeah, but was he okay? Popping up is no indication of good health. That looks cold and really, really rough."

"He was fine. All fine. Look, we don't have any other choices. I brought some helmets."

"What about baby?" Testo's voice softened as he gently rubbed Fasten's belly.

"He, she, or they will just have to cope. We'll make it, I promise." She reached up and pulled Testo's face down, planting a tender kiss on his forehead. "You ready?" she asked, manoeuvring him into position for the two of them to jump.

He nodded. They took each other's hands and started counting down.

"Wait!" he shouted, stopping their jump at the last moment. "What happened to the dwarf who fell in before. How come no-one ever saw him again?"

"Oh, he became the mayor of Wetchit. Still is today, I believe."

"Why didn't he come back, though?"

Fasten gripped Testo's hand firmly, yanking him over the edge with her.

"Because he couldn't who he was!"

***

"You're going to do two things," Kong Domcome growled at Berni. "You're going to go and fetch Browning for me. And then you're going to bring me my travelling cloak, my hammer and my iBone. Yes?"

Berni swallowed. "Browning, cloak, hammer, iBone. Got it."

"You've got ten minutes."

***

Browning sauntered into the throne room, scratching the side of his head. Berni scampered in behind him, bearing the king's possessions as demanded.

"Browning!"

"Your Majesty," the slayer said, bowing deeply. His grand blue mohawk brushed the floor. "Barney here sez you wanted me?"

"Berni," Berni said, raising a finger in objection.

"It seems I have a love struck dwarf whose bride-to-be has eloped with an elven spy as a result of her pregnancy with said spy. The love struck dwarf is even now chained up in a dungeon somewhere below us because he feels he's played some part in this... charade. I thought you might be able to help him. He's clearly beside himself with grief."

Browning nodded slowly, lines of sorrow evident on his face. "This'll be Sirrell, then?"

The king nodded.

"Poor kid. Didn't deserve it at all, really. So you think he'll take the vow?"

"I don't know, but he sounds pretty broken up about it. If I was him and I was in this situation, I think I'd take the vow. I think its what his family would want. And probably it'd be good for him. You know, refocus the mind a bit. From my own experience I can tell you that trying not to get eaten by a troll kind of puts things in perspective."

"That it does," Browning grinned. "That it does. I take it Barney knows where Sirrell is?"

"Berni," sighed Berni.

"He'd better do, because I've got to go and sort out the rest of this mess with the elves." The king took his things from the page before ushering them from his throne room.

"Right, Barney. Let's go see Sirrell,"

"Bern-"

"Do you mind if I call you Barnes? Lovely name, Barnes." Browning said in a cheerful voice.

"Yes. I. Do," grunted Berni.

"Browning put his arm over Berni's shoulders. "Excellent Barnes! We should hang out sometime..."

***

"Conker!"

Lord Zynladyz stood up, reaching out to greet King Domcome as he trudged through the snow.

"I came as soon as I got the call."

King Domcome dropped onto a frozen tree stump, huddling close to the fire Lord Zynladyz had prepared.

"Not as young as I used to be," grunted the dwarf.

"You could just get over yourself and get a dragon, you know? I'd get you an egg if you asked," the elf replied.

"Nah. I haven't ridden anything up until now and I don't see a reason to start. Besides, a brisk mountain walk - gotta be good for you, right?"

"Brisk?" Lord Zynladyz raised an eyebrow.

"Yeah, okay, so its colder than my mother-in-law's heart, but we had to talk. Good call on the fire."

The elf sat down opposite the dwarf. Both huddled close to the crackling fire.

"It's a bad business, what happened in the valley." King Domcome said, pulling a pipe from his pocket.

"Yeah. Vass isn't taking it so well."

"Vass?"

"Vass Saleen. The minion who 'offered' the bride price. Testo's one of his, you see."

"What I don't get is the other elves. Who were they? Why'd they hit your column?"

Lord Zynladyz shook his head. "I'm sure it hasn't escaped your notice that not all elves are as sensible as us. Some of them are in open rebellion against the natural order of things - others have settled into piracy and crime. It wasn't always this way.

"Rogue elves?"

"We call them Dark Elves. Because they are unenlightened, you see. Crafty buggers they are too."

King Domcome puffed on his pipe while the elf poked the burning logs distractedly with a stick.

"Whiskey?" said Lord Zynladyz suddenly. He poured a tot into an ornate silver cup he produced from his cloak before offering the flask to King Domcome. "Keeps the throat warm."

"Sure, why not?"

The two sat in silence, staring at the fire.

"My concern - and the concern of my hold, really, is that we don't know if these were renegade elves or not, so what it looks like is that some elves tried to stop some other elves from paying the bride price. Sort of as if this Vass Saleen fellow you mentioned wasn't so keen on the marriage plans we had set up."

"I thought you might say that."

"It's not that I don't trust you, of course." King Domcome looked up and met Lord Zynladyz' eyes. "We go back a long way. But we don't know Saleen. And to have a marriage proposed by the elves broken up like its been down at the River Chai - well, the hold is angry, you understand."

"I understand." The elf' held the dwarf's gaze. "You think they'll want war?"

The king shrugged. "Hard to say. It's not like our two people ever really got on. I think it depends on whether or not we can find Lady Luuhs and your elf Testo."

The elf raised an eyebrow. "You lost them?"

"It looks like Lady Luuhs broke him out. We can't find either of them. Problem is, those orcs are still out there. We killed a lot, but they're like fleas in a carpet out there."

"What are you saying, though? If we find the couple, your hold won't prosecute a war?"

"I'm saying we might be able to avert a conflict if we can produce a happy ending. Right now, it seems the happy ending is the heroic dwarves save the little child form the evil elves who clearly betrayed one of their own in order to prevent a marriage they didn't approve of. Failing to achieve their goals, they then betrayed one of their own patrols leading to the deaths of both dwarves and elves."

Lord Zynladyz sighed. "Yeah. It does kinda look like that. The problem is, it sounds like that happy ending means the baby and mum live happily ever after in the hold, whilst young Testo presumably has an accident in a mineshaft somewhere or rots in a prison cell. To Saleen and his elves, they'd have to come and save the poor elf and the child, you see."

The dwarf shook his head. "I remember when our biggest problem was trying to find a safe place to sleep whilst pillaging a ruined dungeon..."

Lord Zynladyz smiled. "Good times."

"Good times indeed."

"Well, it sounds like we'd better go and find our wayward parents-to-be. Perhaps they'll have an idea of what to do, seeing as how they're now the most politically correct of our people?"

King Domcome nodded. "Maybe. I got no other ideas."

"Want a ride down on the dragon?"

"Eh? No, no, no. Tough political climate, is all. right now with the whole elves and dwarves thing. Not cause I'm afraid or anything, you understand."

Elven eyes smiled. "I understand. I'll take a few passes with the dragon to see if I can find them. I'll call you if I get them."

"Ditto. Good to see you again."

"And you, my friend. Good luck in the hold."

"Yeah - good luck with Saleen."

***

"Now that has slayer written all over it!"

Sirrell looked up to see who was addressing him.

Browning looked the dwarf up and down. "Barnes - "

"Berni."

" - I think Sirrell and I are gonna need some time to talk. Why don't you scuttle back upstairs and organise us some sandwiches or something? And beer. Look at the poor boy - he's distraught!"

Browning watched as the Berni stomped out of the cell, swearing under his breath. "That kid needs to lighten up. But enough about him." Browning pulled an old wooden stool from a corner and positioned himself in front of Sirrell, still chained to the wall.

"Leather y-fronts. First time I've seen that, but sure, its practical. Gotta protect the nuts, right?"

"I don't wanna be a slayer," Sirrell moaned.

"Why? You look the part. Distraught. Angry. Naked. I got what you can't get anywhere else."

"Yeah? What's that?"

"Oblivion. Wholesale oblivion. Imagine wrapping your hands around the throat of that elf. Imagine you could do anything you liked to him. Make him pay. Now, just imagine doing that to trolls, ogres, giants and anything else stupid enough to cross your path whilst you hunt him down. Slaying is easy."

Sirrell shivered as he contemplated doing to a troll what he planned to do to the elf. "It just wouldn't be the same," he bleated, before he could stop himself.

"You say that. In the beginning, yeah, its not the same. But as you learn about your anger - how to channel it, how to control it - how to be anger - it becomes the same. Maybe sometimes a bit too samey, but the nice thing about slaying is its usually short and sweet."

"Um, could you unlock me now, please? I, er, I think I've suffered enough now. And I really need to take a slash."

"What? Oh, yeah. Sorry." Browning looked up at the lock. "You have the keys?"

"You should find them on the-"

"Bugger that, I'll use the axe."

Sirrell's eyes bulged as the axe clanged into the chains holding his hands above his head. A shower of sparks descended onto his exposed shoulders as the chains came apart.

"WHAT THE F-"

"Whoah!" Browning cheered. "Did you see the sparks?"

"SPARKS? Did you see my bloody hands, you moron!" Sirrell screamed, rubbing his wrists where the chains had bitten in. "And the damn chain hit me on the head!"

Browning patted Sirrell on the shoulder. "That's it, boy. Feel the anger! Very slayer! Although," he said, standing back from the growing puddle under Sirrell. "Wetting yourself? Not very slayer."

"Gah!" squawked Sirrell, leaping from the puddle. "Damn it all! I don't want to be a bloody slayer!"

"Poppycock! D'ya reckon your more of an axey slayer or a hammerey slayer?" Browning held his axe as if to measure Sirrell for size. "Hey, wait up. Where you going?"

Sirrell ran. He had no idea which way to go, but he just needed to get away from Browning. He could hear the thump of the slayer's boots behind him, but he was smaller, more agile and, he strongly suspected, much more used to running.

"Shit!" cursed Browning, huffing to a halt after a brief but frantic chase. He rested his hands on his knees and panted, vapour forming on his breath. He looked at the split in the tunnel. "Which way did he go?"

***

Sirrell stared at the waterfall. Before him, the thunderous torrent swept past him into the inky darkness of the cavern. There was no other way to go.

It can't have come to this, surely?

"Careful out there, boy!"

Sirrell spun, nearly slipping on the wet grating he stood on.

Browning stood at the cavern entrance, barely lit by the paltry effort of the lone torch on the wall.

"You thinking of jumping? You don't have to prove yourself to be a slayer, you know."

"What? WHAT! I'm not trying to bloody prove myself. I. Don't. Want. To. Be. A. Slayer." Sirrell spat.

Browning edged closer, setting one foot on the grating. Sirrell stepped back, his heel searching for the edge. "Well then what are you doing out there? You're going to get yourself killed. And if you're gonna do that, may as well do it being a slayer."

"Just leave me alone!"

Browning rested on his axe and scratched his chin. "Is this about the axe or hammer decision? Because if you're a sword kinda guy, we can do that too, you know." Browning's eyes explored the ceiling as he recounted the various different weapons that he thought would be acceptable for slaying.

Yeah. It has come to this after all. Anything is better than this.

Sirrell fixed Browning with a disdainful stare. He's not even bloody looking at me. Sirrell closed his eyes and launched himself backwards, the icy hands of the torrent snatching him down into the darkness.

"...or maybe a flail?" Browning looked around in confusion. "Eh? Where's he gone?" Browning peered over the edge through the grating. "Silly bugger. Maybe he as a mancatcher sort of guy. Hmm. Maybe I'd have jumped too if I was a mancatcher user." He shook his head as he turned to leave.

"Shame, really."

***

How Sirrell survived he never quite understood. It was actually a wonderful feeling knowing he was without a shadow of a doubt going to die - it clarified so many things in what he now realised was his short and pitiful life.

So surviving came with a certain amount of disappointment.

Here I am, lying on the windswept shore of a freezing mountain lake in nothing other than some leather y-fronts which smell of pee, having just failed to kill myself by jumping into an unfathomably deep underwater river to try and avoid committing suicide by becoming a slayer. 

And I thought things couldn't get any worse. 

Sirrell pulled his knees up and wept. At first, it was the gentle mewling of mild loss, but as the tension in his body released, his ribs started shaking with great, racking sobs. He cried until there were no more tears. He didn't feel the cold as night came, nor did the cold let him feel the scrapes and bruises he'd sustained on his brief underwater journey. Eventually sleep came.

Sirrel started up with a snort.

"Huh? Wha-"

Looking around, he wiped the sand from his face as he blinked at the sharp sun, its gentle rays just beginning caress his body with warmth.

"A shit. " He shook his head. "Not a dream. It's true: I can't even actually kill myself properly."

He stood up, he's legs shaky. One trip through a high speed underground river followed by a night sleeping rough in the freezing mountain air is hard on the ol' body, he thought.

"Perhaps I can jump off something else around here and get the job done properly..."

He looked around, his eyes catching a series of indentations further up the shore. Not seeing an immediately obvious route to accelerate his demise, he thought there'd be no harm in investigating. Perhaps a nice meal before he offed himself would be in order?

He trudged up to the marks, shaking his head to clear it up for the analysis task ahead.

Footprints. They're footprints. Two pairs, if I'm not mistaken.

He shrugged and started after them. Nothing else to do around here.

***

The footprints led Sirrell down a pleasant little mountain path, easy to navigate and with a suitable declination - nothing too challenging, for which the dwarf was grateful.

Soon, the sun was shining and its rays, together with the effort of walking and the lower altitude, did wonders both for Sirrell's body temperature and his mood. The footsteps seemed fairly recent and although he nearly lost them once or twice, were relatively easy to follow.

His mind frequently wondered if he was following the trail of Fasten and Testo, but each time he did, his rational centre informed him that no pregnant woman would take that sort of chance with a child. He still wondered at his own survival - was he set aside for something else? Something more than being a slayer, or a tailor (as he was back in the hold)?

At around midday he found himself in a forest clearing. He hadn't realised it, but he had been walking along a forest track for some time - he wasn't sure when the mountain had stopped and the forest had started. It was here that he snapped back to his senses.

The footsteps got all messed up. Other recent footprints all criss crossed in the middle of the clearing. The thing that snapped his senses back into place, though, was the sheer size of them. Evidently there had been other man or dwarf sized creatures - their footsteps were evident. But what was the thing that had a footprint the same size as his entire body?

Fear gripped Sirrell as his good humour drained from him. His eyes darted wildly around the clearing, frantic to find the owner of the footprints. Or better yet - to prove that the owner was not to be found.

The clearing offered no threat. Pleasant sunshine shone through the surrounding trees and the forest on all sides seemed welcoming and pleasant. Sirrell felt the panic subside as he realised that whatever had happened here, the massive perpetrator was no longer in the vicinity.

So what had happened here? Curiously, none of the footprints left the clearing. The trail he'd been following led straight to the middle, where the giant feet and some other normal feet all conglomerated, before just... disappearing.

Sirrell scratched his head.

"It was a dragon."

Sirrell yelped, leaping in fright before slipping in the sand and doing the splits. He toppled on to his face.

"Dragon, wagon! Wagon, dragon!"

Sirrell pushed himself on to all fours, wincing at the new found pain in his thighs. He stopped as he came face to face with a dancing yellow goblin.

"Hee hee," it cackled, dancing away from him with its arms spread wide.

He scanned the clearing again. His heart stopped as his gaze came to rest on the cloaked figure sitting on a boulder at the distant entrance to the clearing. The cloak revealed heavily armoured legs and an ornate scabbard, but nothing else.

The figure spoke. "Two elves, a dwarf and a dragon. Don't see that every day. And now a dwarf in leather underwear. This is the most interesting day I've had in a while."

Sirrell groaned as he dragged himself to his feet. The curious goblin came dancing out of nowhere and offered him a cup.

"Er, thanks," he said, looking down. "Is this wine?"

"Fine wine! Wine fine!" giggled the goblin.

"You're safe for now, little dwarf. You can drink the wine." The stranger's appearance was incongruous with the gentle female voice Sirrell heard speaking.

Sirrell shrugged. "Can't get any worse," he said to no one in particular. He drained the cup.

"Wow," he said. "Wow. That is good. Oh wow." Sirrell felt as though all of his aches and pains were like water in a bath and that the plug had just been pulled. Even as the sensational wine cooled his throat and worked its way down into his belly, his hurts, both physical and emotional, seemed to evaporate.

"I, um, I don't suppose I could have another?"

"We can have more wine later, Mr Dwarf. For now, I was thinking we should get to know each other a little more."

The figure stood and stalked over to Sirrell, the movement supremely elegant and yet disturbingly clumsy at the same time. Sirrell noticed that the speaker appeared to have a deformity - a severe hunchback, perhaps? Something unusual about the shoulders, certainly.

"What is your name, Mr Dwarf?" it prompted.

"Sirrell," he blurted. Fear clamped its iron hard claws around his heart. "W-what's yours?"

The figure stopped next to him, resting its gauntleted hand on his shoulder. Far from the impact Sirrell expected, the touch was gentle, almost tentative.

From under the cloak, its head appeared, covered in a plain but impenetrable armoured grill. The creature stood on the left of Sirrell, but he noted with alarmed discontent that its head seemed to slither over his right shoulder.

"My friends call me Ellen. Will you be my friend?"

***

"C'mon, you big softie. Time to go."

"I'm not ready yet," Morgrim mumbled to his wife. "Let the next guy go ahead of me."

"There are none left. You've let them all through. You're the last one. It's your turn now." 

Morgrim's eyes pleaded with his wife. "You promise you won't let go?"

She smiled as she held is hand. "I promise."

A nurse appeared around the corner. "Mr Ironbeard?"

"No," he said.

"Yes?" said his wife. 

"The dentist will see you now."

***

Some time later.

Testo smiled down at his son.

"Like this, daddy?"

Testo nodded. "Bring your right hand a little closer to the axe head. That's right. Now you drive it down, straight into the middle of the wood, okay?"

The axe fell, splitting the wood clean in two.

"Good job, son," Fasten said, as she wandered around the side of the cottage.

The muscular boy beamed as his mother hugged him.

She looked up at his neck. "Still itchy, is it?"

"You've got to stop scratching it, son. Otherwise, you'll never get used to it."

"Aw dad- you don't understand - you don't need to shave, you know."

"I know," Testo said, coming over to hug both of them. "I know."

***

Battle Navigator

Prologue
Meet The Contestants
Rules and Deployment
Turn 1
Turn 2
Turn 3
Turn 4
Turn 5
Turn 6
Turn 7
Turn 8
Turn 9
Turn 10
Epilogue (you are here)


Monday, 16 September 2013

Battle Report: The Bridge Over the River Chai - Turn 10

The final turn. In modern editions of Warhammer, one could have played twenty separate games of warhammer in the number of turns we've taken to complete one.

But what's the rush?

Lets think of this as a glass of Ladybank Single Malt, as opposed to a bottle of Budweiser. The right thing to do is to enjoy it slowly. No one will judge you here.

The turn starts like this
There are not many events to discuss in this turn. Of course, if you've been tracking the past nine turns, you might have noticed how all the heavy hitters seem to have conglomerated in the middle of the field. Perhaps we can make something of that?

Movement Phase

And so Rogaine does. Both he and his unusually aggressive shaman charge the two combatants. There are now seventy levels worth of characters in combat!

Actions
GM:

MB
Holds
Airbornegrove:

MI
Holds
F
Reformed
Thantsants:

W
Charged @ MI, moved 5"
R
Charged @ MB, moved 6.5"
GF
Routed off the table
K3C
Routed off the table
RLR
Routed off the table



***

Rogaine grabbed his boar's neck hairs in an upward wrench, causing the excitable, squealing beast to a halt. Forcing its head towards Wineghum, he commanded it to jog slowly to the shaman and his spider mount.

"Good to see yer still around, shaman," Rogaine growled.

Wineghum blinked. He opened his mouth to reply, but no words came.

"You still got the box?" the orc grunted, barely audible, his eyes never leaving the wild combat between the elf and the dwarf.

Wineghum nodded furiously.

"I SAID: HAVE YOU STILL GOT THE BOX, IDIOT?"

Wineghum jumped, his spider flinching with him. He's not looking at you, idiot. He can't see you nodding to save your life, now, can he! Say something!

"Er, Siryessir! I mean, Yessiryes! Sir! Yes! Sir! Totally didn't open it, Sir! It just -" Wineghum's brain finally caught up with his mouth. SHUT UP! He didn't ask if it was open, did he?

Wineghum gulped as Rogaine's eyes swept over him.

"Good. I've just got to go and sort them out." He waved at the two combatants. "Then I'm back to get that box, hear?"

The shaman nodded again, adding a quick yelp of affirmation when he realised Rogaine was looking at the combat again. "Box safe with me! Yes Sir! Don't you worry 'bout a thing!"

"Then stay here!"

***

Wineghum watched in morbid fascination as the orc barrelled into the frenzied fight before them.

Then slay her? Slay who? Is that really what he said, Wineghum wondered? He looked around. Who was 'her'? There were no women where Rogaine had just pointed. Just an enraged melee of lizards, dwarves and elves - and from where he was standing, it looked like they were all losing.

He must have meant the elf. Sometimes, they look a lot like girls, don't they?

Wineghum shook his head. His heart was still pounding from the sudden interrogation from Rogaine. He hadn't dared tell Rogaine he'd opened the box, let alone used the contents. The black look of undiluted murder on the orc general's face was enough to suggest that anyone who disobeyed any orders from this point onwards was going to be very, very sorry. He would have-his-job-explained-to-him-in-no-uncertain-terms.

And that was usually fatal.

Wineghum swallowed. Beads of sweat formed on his head. On the one hand, attacking the hateful elf and his crazy steed was almost certain death. And it was an elf, of all things!

On the other hand, disobeying Rogaine was almost certain death.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and, well, another rock. Landslides, really. Cliffs, come to think of it. Stuck between two sheer cliffs each with two landslides and a couple of rocks on top.

It was hard.

It wasn't fair. How was he supposed to protect the box for his lord when his lord ordered him into a no win situation? Stupid orc!

He prodded his spider with his axe.

"Let's go," he muttered, wincing. "Let's hope he's killed them all by the time we get there, eh?"

***
Rogaine's first target was clear: Master B'tor. His entire force appeared to have been decimated, he had been arrogant and patronising in his negotiation and frankly, he was just an all round git. Rogaine hated dwarves too, and this wasn't to suggest the dwarf would get off any lighter, but at least they were honourable and respectable.

There's something to be said for honour, both on and off the battlefield.

And from his perspective, Rogaine was about to say that something to the elf. In no uncertain terms.

*** 

Master B'tor clanged off another strike from the dwarf with a desperate swing of his sword. He was tired now and felt like he was losing to the dizziness. He gave a futile pull at the reigns, trying to pull the cold one out of the fight, but the damned creature savaged at the dwarf's armour as if it had never tasted blood - the problem was the blood it was tasting was its own.

He lashed out again, sparks flying as his blade connected with some armour, but that strike didn't stop the dwarf either. Too late, he realised the upward thrust of the dwarf, jabbing straight for his midriff.

But the pain never came. The massive, bloody head of the cold one knocked the sword aside as it tried in vain to get a grip on the dwarf.

The move was so sudden Master B'tor tumbled sideways from the beast in the opposite direction.

***

Morgrim had no idea what had just happened. He knew he'd been parried and he felt the blow on his arm. He was sure he was onto a winner with his upward thrust, but suddenly he was flying through the air. He grunted in frustration as he flew away from the elf, who, it seemed, was also airborne.

***

No! Ohno! Nonononono! This can't be happening! Wineghum's eyes bulged as he calculated the trajectory of the dwarf general.

It was going to hit him.

Up until then, things seemed fine in the savage spectacle of the elf and the dwarf (and the soon-to-be-added-orc). Rogaine seemed hell bent on the Master B'tor, which pleased Wineghum no end and caused him not to goad the spider quite as vigorously as would have been required for an all out charge.

May as well let the orc do his work, after all.

But then Master B'tors cold one stepped in. The bloody thing finally got a grip on the dwarf commander and started shaking him about like a starved dog with a rat. That action then led to the cold one losing grip on the commander, who was temporarily relieved of his obligations to the laws of gravity.

And that action led to the bone crunching introduction of Morgrim Ironbeard to Wineghum.

***

Master B'tor held his sword above him, waving it slowly in some vague defense against the sniffing head of the giant lizard.

"Sea Biscuit!" he grunted. "Bad boy! Look what you've gone and done."

He shook his head - he knew Sea Biscuit was too far gone to respond to any commands now. What a way to go. Eaten by your own cold one. What would the others say about him now? He closed his eyes and lay back.

What happened next was not the tearing asunder of his rib cage, though, but an eye popping crack and the grunt of both the cold one and...Rogaine? Master B'tor blinked up at the orc, who was recovering from what was evidently a head butt. A wild glance to his left revealed an equally surprised cold one, sitting on its haunches and shaking its head.

"Th-thanks," he stammered, lifting himself up onto an elbow.

"Don't mention it," Rogaine said as he calmly lopped Master B'tor's head off with a sweep of his scimitar.

***

This is ridiculous, thought Morgrim as he dived to the ground to avoid the clacking fangs of the giant spider. Why can't everyone else just bloody well fight on foot, like normal soldiers? Lizards, spiders, boars - I don't get paid enough for this shit!

He gained his feet behind the spider, only to be banged on the head with the stupid goblin's skull staff. He lashed out, slicing the staff in two, but narrowly missing the goblin's face, before barrelling into the spider, trying to knock it over.

Such a thing might have worked against the clumsier, more heavily set cold one, but a spider? Even giant spiders are nimble and sensitive. The spider darted to the side, spinning in the same move, mandibles raised to strike as Morgrim ran straight past.

***

It was all Wineghum could do to hang on. He saw the dwarf run by, sword raised. Slowly, he took in the new scene unfolding before him, and while doing so, he gently pulled the spider back. It scuttled backwards, mandibles still raised, but it seemed as relieved as Wineghum not to be getting involved in what was about to unfold.

***

 Morgrim stopped. What towered over him was a giant orc - one of the biggest he'd ever seen. Behind the orc, the cold one lizard savaged at what remained of the elf's carcass. The orc's boar ran squealing and grunting into the distance, released from service.

This was their commander.

The orc held his scimitar down, allowing elven blood to run down the blade.

"My name is Rogaine." it said quietly, speaking an old dwarf dialect.

"My name is Morgrim," he replied in the crude words of the orc race.

***

Rogaine grinned.

Finally! This was the promised fight. One-on-one - the real measure of martial skill. Sure, he liked running the common muck down as it ran screaming from him, but the opportunity to fight a real warrior? That was rare these days.

He felt his back stiffening around the rent the dwarf axe had left, the warmth of the blood now fading. Hot breath thrust from his nostrils, swirling the sweet smell of evening dew with sting of blood and steel.
His ears pounded with the rush of blood as his heart raced in anticipation.

He charged.

***

Morgrim could see his Firehammers reforming in the distance. They would not be close enough to help him now. He wiped a mix of sweat and blood from his brow, grateful for the brief respite of combat.

It would have to do. He fiddled with his shoulder straps, taking some time to readjust his armour ,which had been twisted and bent quite badly by the stupid lizard. It still wasn't comfortable, but it was better.

Morgrim sighed.

Here he comes...

***

Rogaine loved the fact that the dwarf was so much quicker than he looked. This was swordplay at its best - fast, furious and unrelenting. He loved the twisting, the near misses, the sheer exhilaration of knowing that his very life was on the brink.

Clang, swish, clatter, dodge.

He barked in triumph as slapped the dwarf's sword away from what was almost certain disembowelment. He grunted in delight when the dwarf twisted his sword away, forcing him to follow the blade away or risk losing grip.

Smart. Very smart.

Blink, dive, clank, woosh.

The two separated, panting.

***

Morgrim felt his wrists click as he fought to gain control of his two handed sword. If he survived this, he'd be in bed for a week, because his muscles were so sore from straining against the orc beast.

Swash, ding, clatter, duck.

Everything he tried, the orc seemed to be able to anticipate. Even things that should have worked - the orc tripped, but was lucky enough to slip whilst trying to stand again, leading to his fortunate avoidance of decapitation.

But the orc was also brutally tough - blows that Morgrim landed, albiet on armour, would have stopped a lesser orc and certainly caused some of the bigger ones to pause for thought - but that wasn't happening here. Perhaps he was just getting too old for this?

Zing, roll, clink, thrash.

The two separated, panting.

***

Wineghum shuffled nervously as the regiment from which the dwarf general had emerged formed up to watch the fight. Rogaine seemed to be holding his own, but the goblin wasn't about to take any chances. He was ready to run at the first sign of trouble...

***

Rogaine slapped Morgrim's blade away with his own, clearing the way between the two for what would have been an opportunistic head butt, but for the fact that the orc was nearly twice as tall as the dwarf. Too late, Rogaine realised his mistake as he staggered past the dwarf trying desperately to keep his balance. Morgrim, more from weariness than anything else, slammed his blade in a wide swing directly into the armoured chest of the orc - the blow nothing but ineffectual noise.

Rogaine did crumple over the blade, though, trapping Mogrim's sword as the orc dropped to his knees.

Morgrim blinked at his empty hands, before frantically searching his belt for his dagger.

Shing! Morgrim gripped and pulled at the dagger - just in time to receive the full force of Rogaine's even more opportunistic second headbutt - this time at just the perfect height.

Blood sprayed from both heads as the impact of bone on bone rang over the battlefield.

Rogaine dropped to all fours, catching himself from toppling over.

Morgrim's eyes rolled up into his head as he dropped backwards.

***

The Firehammers started forwards, ready to slaughter the orc, when, to a dwarf, they stopped - the giant orc had picked Morgrim up by his throat, rested his blade against his chest, and stared in challenge at the oncoming dwarves.

"I ain't like other orcs," the brute said slowly, surprising them with the quality of his dwarven dialect.

"Your leader has fought well, so he ain't gonna die here today."

"What will you do?" one of the dwarves called out.

Rogaine bent the head of the unconscious general over his open hand, shaking the dwarf roughly. Blood and spittle accompanied three teeth as they dropped into his bloody fingers.

He sorted the teeth with his thumb. Normal. Gold. Gold.

Rogaine gently laid Morgrim down on his back, placing the normal tooth on his chest. He stood and addressed the Firehammers, showing them the two golden teeth.

"I'll take these fer a trophy. My name is Rogaine, and I defeated Morgrim."

With that, he turned his back on the dwarves, sheathed his scimitar and strode from the field.

***

Combat Phase

And so it is done. Four warriors enter. Two warriors leave. A very fitting conclusion to the final combat phase.

What follows here is a more mechanical version of the events above. Of course, the above is to tell a story, whereas the below tells events as they happened. Of course, Rogaine never 'officially' dismounted and it is important that you know that both Morgrim and Rogaine scored a killing blow on Master B'tor. Dreamfish randomised which was the one that did him in, and it turned out to be Rogaine.
Actions

MI vs MB, MB vs R, MI vs W
Round 1

Modifiers
MI
follow-up
MB
none
R
charged
W
charged
Attacks
A1 I9
Parried
A2 I8
Morgrim <- MB
A3 I7
Morgrim <- MB
A4 I6
Morgrim <- MB
A1 I5
MB <- Rogaine
A1 I5
MB <- Rogaine's mount
A2 I4
MB <- Rogaine
A2 I4
MB <- Rogaine's mount
A1 I4
Morgrim -> MB
A3 I3
MB <- Rogaine
A1 I3
Morgrim <- Wineghum
A2 I3
Morgrim -> MB
A4 I2
MB <- Rogaine (1W)
A1 I1
Morgrim <- Spider
A2 I1
Morgrim <- Spider
Results
MI
+1 (follow-up) = 1
R, W
+1 (charged) +1 (wounds) = 2
Round 2

Modifiers
MI
none
R
follow-up
W
follow-up
Attacks
A1 I5
Morgrim <- Rogaine (2W)
Results
R, W
+1 (charged) +2 (wounds) = 3



Thursday, 12 September 2013

Battle Report: Standing Firm at Mourning Glory (Turns 6 & 7)

Right. Oldhammer weekend is all done. Now I had hoped to get Turn 6 & 7 up before I had to leave, but I thought the right thing would be to paint more miniatures in preparation for the weekend.

As it turns out, I was right.

But, in so doing, it appears I have picked up a reputation as a bloke that starts things, but does not end things.

Having had a think about that, perhaps there is some truth in that. There is still that whole Bridge Over the River Chai thing going on. And there's this report. And Lichemaster, of course.

So, I thought I'd start making some headway into these. Of course, there is more to do on the Lichemaster. Much more. But I have everything I need to complete this story, and the story of bride price being fought over at the River Chai. I will aim to make the next two (or three, even) all about closure.

Then you will be able to sleep at night, no doubt, your aching desperation satisfied.

Anyway, enough wasting of time - let us return to the village of Mourning Glory, where the brave defenders have narrowly avoided complete annihilation by the trolls because of their stupidity (the trolls', that is. Not the defenders) and the High Elves have experienced the full wrath of the goblin engines of war.

Turn six awaits!

Battle Navigator
Forces Involved
Deployment and Turn 1
Turns 2 & 3
Turns 4 & 5
Turns 6 & 7 (you are here)

Turn 6

The start of the turn is bittersweet for the goblins. No one fails their animosity check - Hurrah! But the trolls (surprise!) fail their stupidity test, selecting the wall on the other side of the road as their new field of research. Diligent research ensues, with rocks being flung, tasted and bashed together with basic rhythm - enough to stop three mighty trolls from taking any further interest in the halberdiers, all of whom are trying not to be the guys in the front just then.


Grommble continues to stagger towards the trolls, whilst the Gobbo's, made acutely aware of the High Elf presence by the roar of their gun, turn around and move west along the road, mainly because Grommbo is coming, and they are well aware that their annual bonus depends at least partly on being team players.

As Grommbo often says: "There's no 'I' in team, but there is a 'you' in fucked!*"


Grommbo moves to the road, setting up a fantastic Lustrian Standoff. The gun on the hill starts reloading, conveying in no uncertain terms that the ball is most definitely in the court of the elves now, because the goblins can pretty much stand there all day if needs be...


In a rare moment of inspiration, the Stickas shoot a halberdier down, causing them to revisit the up-until-then-resolved matter of who got to stand closest to the trolls.

In the Reserves phase, Grommble continues towards the trolls. If they don't move too far next turn, he might be able to catch them!


But no matter. In the defenders turn, the two remaining Silver Helms overcome their fear and charge the trolls!


Inspired, Victoria charges Grommble!


The Halberdiers, comfortable that the trolls have something else to do, move over the bridge and turn to face the trolls (who, of course, are not facing them at all).


The Elf Guard reduce ranks and squeeze their way through the gap in the hedge, prepared to receive the charge.

The way clear, the Ships Company fire at the cannon on the hill, but the safety conscious goblins are a canny foe: they have fitted a shield to the gun, so none are injured or killed this turn.


The Silver Helms are excellent fighters and both score wounds on the mighty trolls, who, stunned by both the outcome of their research of the bridge and the sudden and painful arrival of two screeching elves on horses, fund themselves unable to retaliate effectively.

Much to the horror of the elves, they watch as the wounded troll clicks its ribcage back into place and closes the gaping rent in its chest with little more than what appears to be a grunt.

Further horror - even though the trolls lose the combat, they hold:


In hind sight, I realised that the trolls should have vomited on the elves - a surefire way of killing them. but I forgot. And they were stupid anyway, so it probably never crossed their minds.

Victoria and Grommble are much more evenly matched. Imagine, if you will, an typical high fantasy movie fight between a hot fantasy babe and a crazed goblin berserker. Now add about 30kg to each of them and slow the action down to 'amateur home video' and you're probably imagining things as they happened.

Long story short, Victoria fails to wound Grommble, but Grommble, with his mighty two handed axe, strikes a telling blow against Victoria. Equipped with only light armour and a shield, she must roll a six to save.

So she does:


Of course, I don't have any amateur home video footage of what such an armour save might look like, but can see Victoria down on one knee with her shield above her head and Grommble's axe wedged firmly in the shield. You are welcome to insert your own image here.

As it stands, then, both Victoria and the Silver Helms win their combat (because of the charge) and push their foes back 2".

Here's an interesting thing I didn't know until Dreamfish pointed it out to me: one can only decline to follow up if victorious in combat if one is defending an obstacle and one passes a leadership test. Still, following up is really important, because it adds +1 to the combat resolution of the next round of combat, as well as giving the attackers +1 to hit, exactly as if they had charged. Worth noting, because even low quality troops can turn a fight around with those +1 bonuses!

The view to the west:


Some cheerleaders Halberdiers keeping an eye on proceedings...


Not pictured here, but just so you know, Dumbel Doore does move closer to the action now that his headlong flight has stopped. He has no magic to offer this turn.

Turn 7

Being stabbed, when not fatal or debilitating, is exactly the sort of thing that helps to focus the mind. You will not be surprised to hear, then, that the trolls, having had just this experience, snap out of their stupidity and stand poised to rain bloody murder down onto the elves.

All of the goblins are near bad (good?) guys, so animosity is now a moot point.

And, most importantly, Grommbo, beast of a goblin that he is, passes his fear test of the elves and successfully charges his chariot into the Guard. I debated as to whether or not Grommbo would have fear of elves, but I then left the dice to resolve the story - fortunately, our goblin came through.


Now that Grommbo has engaged the hated Guard and the Silver Helms are Somewhere Else, the Gobbo's move down the road, happy to 'support' Grommbo for as long as he stays in between them and the elves...


The cannon continues to reload (only three turns to go!) whilst the Stickas continue to rain arrows down on the Halberdiers. Despite the short range, the goblins fail to score any hits!


In 3rd edition, a chariot will cause 1d3 (+1 if equipped with scythes) automatic S4 wounds - a far cry from the ballistic missiles they are in later editions of Warhammer. Despite this lower statline (pathetic aesthetic for the win!), the chariot and the wolves manage to score five wounds on the Guard (four from the chariot, of course)!

And, because such ridiculous scores are being rolled, four of the Guard manage to save!

Grommbo, makes up for this with his two handed axe, cleaving through the armour of two unfortunate elves.

Combat against chariots is a peculiar thing in 3rd edition. Chariots have the weapon skill of the most capable member of crew, but no toughness or armour save. Simply, one totals the number of successful hits against the chariot and then consults the damage table - one needs to score at least eight hits before the chariot starts taking damage. There are no rules to allow the attacking of the crew and it is very much the discretion of any characters riding the chariot whether or not they want to dismount and fight, or stay in the safety of the chariot and fight from there. 

Anyway, the elves only cause two hits against the chariot, meaning no damage is caused. As a result, the mighty Grommbo wins the round and pushes the Guard back:


Victoria is much more fortunate in this turn of combat and is able to score a wound on Grommbo! She is equipped with the parasitic blade (which allows the wielder to 'steal' a point from any statistic of their foe on a successful wound) and elects to steal an attack!

This shrewd move on the girl's part means that Grommbo fights back with fewer attacks and as could only be hoped for - he fails to hit with them. He's no slouch, though, and holds for another turn, only being pushed back by Victoria.


In what turns out to be quite an embarrassing non-fight, neither the  Silver Helms nor the Trolls are able to score a hit (still forgetting about the vomit attack here), so it turns out that the Silver Helms win the round again. The Trolls are pushed back - into the Halberdiers!

I don't think there are any clear rules around this situation, so I just went with a panic test (as if the trolls had been charged in the rear whilst in combat), but without applying any charge bonuses to any units. Amazingly, the Trolls held!

In the defenders turn, the Ships Company charge Grommbo in the flank. This causes both a panic test (charged in the flank whilst engaged elsewhere) and a fear test (because goblins fears elves), but he is Grommbo, after all - tribe leader and all round bad-ass goblin. He shrugs off the concern as he continues to wave his axe around dangerously, killing four elves. Unfortunately, for the elves, they are only able collectively score six hits on the chariot, so no actual damage is caused, but it is enough to win the combat.

As mentioned before, he's Grommbo.

He doesn't rout, but he is pushed back.


Victoria is again successful in her prosecution of fat goblins. She scores another wound, stealing yet another attack (which she adds to her own profile, by the way), making it even harder for Grommble to fight back. Fatigued by a broken leg and a steady loss of attacks, the goblin fails to hit Victoria and is once again pushed back.


The trolls are now fighting desperately, stuck as they are between a rock and a hard place. What I didn't do properly here, though, was have the halberdiers automatically hit the trolls. Let me explain.

If you charge an enemy who is already fighting in another direction - and the enemy unit do not have any spare models that can turn to face you (like they would if they had many ranks, for instance), then the unit charging will hit the enemy automatically. This would have been true for the Ships Company charging Grommbo as well.

Anyway, I rolled dice for the whole lot, which led to every single model in combat missing.

Every single one.

But still, because of follow up and the banner, the defenders won the fight.


And this time, the trolls routed.

Lets see if you can guess what happens when a low leadership army watches the prime of its assault force crack under the pressure of combat. Actually, have three guesses.

The first two don't count.

Gimme a 'P'!
Gimme an 'A'!
Gimme an 'N'!
Gimme an 'I'!
Gimme a 'C'!

What does that spell?

That's right. Screwed.




Grommbo panics!
The Stickas panic!
The Gobbos panic!


The Trolls flee!
The Silver Helms pursue!
The Halberdiers pursue!


The trolls are absolutely butchered. The number of free hacks (which hit automatically) were enough to completely decimate the trolls, who failed to regenerate this time, leading to much rejoicing and merriment amongst the defenders!


The Gobbos fled straight through, over and under the crew of the Lead Belcher, causing them to panic too!


And so it is now as it has always been:

If a goblin can panic, a goblin will panic. It is a proverb that has protected the kingdoms of men and dwarves for centuries.

Grommbo begins to suspect he's alone...


So, the goblin force was routed. Grommbo himself elected to withdraw, chasing after his cowardly tribe. Rumour has it he butchered nearly half the tribe, both as a punishment for their failure and as the only victuals now available to his force.

Commander Bhond elected not to pursue Grommbo further - his small force had taken far more casualties than he had expected, including his captain. The elves reasoned that the goblins had been suitably reprised and were unlikely to target their trading post again.

As for Victoria and Dumbel? Well, they stayed to help the wounded and to bury the dead. Any reader of WHFB (1st ed) will know just how rare and valuable spell components harvested from a troll can be, so Dumbel took it upon himself to extract every last disgusting internal from the deceased trolls, which just confirmed to the defenders how bloody peculiar dwarves are.

All in all, I was quite pleased with the game. I forgot many rules, but because I forgot them fairly across both forces, I don't feel that I compromised the game in any way. I think the story turned out superbly and is a fitting fantasy story of both heroics and bravery and cowardice and stupidity. In a way, it was a pity that panic undid so much of the goblin army (and so quickly), but it fits well with my fantasy understanding of goblins, and it goes to show how useful simple spells (like leg breaking) can be in changing games - had those trolls been under control, I think things would have been very different indeed. I think the forces were well matched (unplanned) and I was glad that scenery played such a big part in the game - the first warhammer game, frankly, in decades, where that has been the case for me.

I found it easy to imagine the scenes and see the story unfold for the poor defenders of Mourning Glory. I'm hoping you did the same. Perhaps, if you have the figures, you might want to fight this scenario out yourself and see where you end up? I certainly think the goblins could take the village.

Anyway, thanks for joining me in this most bizarre of experiences, here's to further reports hopefully in a more narrative style in the future!

*Actually, he never says that, but it is something I say quite regularly. He'd have to know how to spell for it to make sense. Apologies for the sudden inclusion of an expletive. It is Warhammer For Adults, after all.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Bring Out Your Lead! 2013

Broadly speaking, there are two camps of people in the Oldhammer community.

There are those of us we went to Foundry for the Bring Out Your Lead! 2013 event.

And there are those that didn't.

If you're in the former camp, your sleep pattern has probably only returned to normal around about now.

If you're in the latter, no doubt you continue to gnash and wail as you ponder the emptiness of your life. as you read this you might be looking at your partner, thinking, 'why? I thought you loved me...'

Perhaps you're considering espionage against your employer, in revenge for their selfish, damning demands that coincided with the coming together of the oldhammer community?

Sick kids? Boarding school. No, it's final, dear. They should have known better.

Still, the thing went well enough that it seems likely it might even happen again. So keep 'em sweet, kids. You have work to do.

So lets talk about the weekend. Everyone else is doing it. I didn't take any pictures, which as we all know, paint at least one thousand words each. Instead, I shall just resort to the words.

The first thing that stood out to me about the event was how disappointing everyone was visually. Without doubt, every single oldhammerer stubbornly refused to look even remotely like the person in my imagination. Citadel Collector? No beard, no leather hat. Harry? Tall. Clean shaven. Jovial beyond measure. Warlord Paul? Not a goth. Skarsnik and Old Lead? No detectable body odour, despite this being the entry requirement for his employer. Erny? Too small. And too young. Nico? Not an actual golden demon.

No, frankly, I think the community could have done a little better to fit the people in my mind. We can't all simply go around looking like we* do. This sort of thing is not on.

*By we, I mean you.

Now, I could rattle on about games, or figures, or lucky dice rolls, but what I really want to spend some time on, is the uncategorised. The little bits that just stand out in my head.

Like picking up Skarsnik's Citadel Giant.

I literally stroked the Great Spined Dragon under its chin. It grinned.

I was given dice with the Warhammer For Adults logo after Norse asked me if I knew who Gaj was. Turns out I did ;)

They even roll sixes occasionally.

I held a Chaos Dwarf Juggernaut in my hands.

Slann. I saw Slann. Actual, real Slann. They really, really made them.

There were other things. I learned a new phobia. It seems I break into a cold sweat every time a jezzailachi fires.

Warlord Paul and I discussed the perfect pitch conditions for throwing dice. I can safely conclude that the conditions on my tables were not suitable.

I remember discussing self-cooling homes with Bryan Ansell. I'd never even heard of these before. And I come from a hot country.

I specifically remember us dithering around deciding where we were going to go to eat at the conclusion of the day. Get this: Diane Ansell - for whom angels and wargamers alike sing - offered to feed us all.

I remember the Holiday Inn screwing up two out of four hotel bookings. I remember Harry taking the suddenly roomless and bedless Norse in, saving him from the brutal streets of Nottingham.

I recall drinking a frankly disgusting pint of Punk IPA and relatively good one of something else I don't unfortunately know the name of.

When moving from one put to the other, a complete, arbitrary stranger decided to join our group. That's how cool we are. We dismissed him, of course. Idiot.

We bumped into the Perry Twins. I think they must have guessed what we were, because they evacuated shortly afterwards. With glee, some oldhammerers sat in their seats. Not out of fanboydom, you understand. It was a crowded place.

I remember the call for last orders.

Curiously, of all the typical early morning venues that the typical Sunday Morning patron might consider, Skarsnik guided us to the what must surely be the most famous landmark in Nottingham - the twenty four hour Greggs. We all queued up in an orderly fashion, because the place had a bouncer. Classy.

Harry the wise, decided not to have a steak bake like the rest of us. He held true to English tradition and discovered Master Doner on the other side of the road. In a fit of kindness, he shared a bite with Thantsants and myself.

We walked all the way to the hotel, before the feeling of being cheated overwhelmed us. Thantsants and myself bade good evening to the other revellers before returning to get our own kebabs. There are just some things that must be. Steak bakes at 01:45? These don't need to be.

Thantsants, Harry and myself then sat down in the reception bar and resolved most of the world's problems. Syria? Sorted. Recession? Check. The state of education? Even now, we await a response  to our proposals from David Cameron. We eventually stopped out of exhaustion, unable to bring ourselves to cure cancer.

Next time.

Sunday introduced Rick Priestley. We joked about the pictures of him in the 3rd edition rulebook showing wargamers how to engage in commerce.

He also hinted that the chaos dwarf juggernaut did in fact have a set of rules for it.

Tony Hough walked us through the stories in his portfolio.

Dreamfish borrowed a Slann army. We played. I actually, really, honestly and for-real played against a Slann army. A whole army. As you already know, Dreamfish is not native to England. So I did the right thing, of course; I lost. So magnanimous was I, that I specially arranged that seven chaos warriors were routed by some human slaves. There are not many people that could engineer that, let me tell you.

I remember discussing the event with Bryan. He gave me some advice. He suggested that the event organisation was too wordy. Wargamers will just sort it out, you see?

Mixed in with all of that? Drinking, eating, swearing, laughing, gawking, staring, pointing, gaming, winning, losing, drawing, gasping, sighing and measuring.

There was fun.

So really, all that remains is to say thanks.

Thank you, oldhammer community, for being the easy going, good humoured and benevolent lot that you are. You made the considerable lack of organisation on my behalf seem like an elite military operation.

Thank you, event organisers: Orlygg, Dan, Thantsants, Padre, Harry, Citadel Collector, Golgfag, and Erny. You made things happen.

Diane Ansell: I know I speak for all of those present when I say thank you for your provision. Your instincts are spot on - there are thirty or so happy, well fed and watered gamers to attest to that.

May it be that there are never leftovers at your table. 

Bryan Ansell: Again, thank you sir. The whole thing felt like a visit to a benevolent uncle's wargaming store by a vast number of excitable nephews. We felt welcome, understood and appreciated.

May it be that you always have the correct change. 

Marcus Ansell: Frankly a legend. For free, you have put facilities at our fingertips that we could not have achieved with money, fame, political influence or sexual favours.

May it be that your socks always match.

So, to the Ansell family: It is hard to truly describe the warmth with which you hosted the event, but it felt like a family. No facility in the world can meet that feeling.

Thank you.