Location: North-western Gardonia
Date: February 11th YDC
Fourth Cycle of the Fararual Calendar - Season of the Scion
Mirza Jafaroglu, a warlord of the Üar-og Emirate rides over the virgin soil and grassy hills of western Upstream Gardonia, at his back a multitude of rows of monster and man. The Beys of the Tzücomen lands have crossed the treacherous slopes and trails that line the Pyrünüs mountains, each leading their own clans into cohorts. The Gnülonlar savages of the northern wastes spanning from Transtulania to Dathanar, and amid them many other absorbed and conquered peoples.‘’This issuh Gardonois, mon Mirza.’’
Says Lanfranjean Benencase with a thick Gardonian accent. He is a defector from Wulfram’s border outposts, many guards of whom have opted to join the invading Transtulanian warlord over being utterly ravaged and despoiled by mindless gnolls. Lanfranjean is a hunchback with red disheveled hair and a lump of sagging skin covering his right eye.‘’We-uhh shoulda expectois zhe armée du Wulvram any time soone.’’
The honourless hunchback henchman speaks to Jafaroglu, galloping his white pony in a swift trot by the warlord’s side. ‘’Wid all zhe villáges zhat had been pilláged, zhe local armée must hav been made awares.’’
Jafaroglu grunts affirmatively, pretending to understand what the Hunchback is saying. In truth he is very poorly versed in foreign speech, being able to speak but a single Transtulanian dialect. He therefore keeps a multilingual interpreter as part of his retinue, whispering into his left ear, even to the fields of war.
His army of some twenty thousand men, beasts and creatures move on as Lanfranjean continues to use his single useable eye to scan the horizon for sign of the local lord’s banner.
On the other side of the battlefield on a hill dominating the battlefield, Etinivien Christofalde looked in his spyglass, the large and expensive well ornamented golden piece of equipment mounted on a tripod. The man wore a magnificent and chique uniform along with the most fanciful of tricorn hat adorned with plumes of exotic birds.
In front of them, a horde of unwashed barbarians grossly the same color prepared to attack them. This irked the Daywalker who had a love of symmetry and aesthetics. But then again, these savages would be blown to pieces into a modern work of ‘Art-Chaotique’ by his artillery so it wasn’t that bad. No, the worst part was when he removed his eye from the spyglass to look at his own forces. Some wore a similar uniform to his, others another kind and others still were just a step above those he faced. The army of Wulfram seemed indeed to include very little of his sons and daughters!
Truth was, Christofalde and his ilk were part of a compromise solution by Favored Daughter Hildegund. For the invading army this was barely understandable, that nation on the continent with the most professional warrior per habitant would be so paralyzed to deal with an invading force, but for him it was part of the usual business. Strigoi feared nothing, nothing but an equally fearless and powerful opponent, so, nothing but each other. Which was why this whole ‘Miranid Invasion’ was only a sideline to them, a little annoyance to be bribed for it to go away while they schemed against each other.
Hildegund was a practical woman who prefered to use a minimum of resources to deal with a problem. While she would have prefered to bribe Miran directly like she did with Amrea so he’d begone, truth was this would send the wrong message to the other neighbors of the Realm. Paying Amrea, the most powerful nation on the continent, the eternal enemy, for peace was one thing, but if any upstart warlord found wealth in the Realm there would be no end to this.
Thus, the present situation. Twenty three thousand men, mostly mortals, tasked to end this little rampage and return business as usual. This was kind of insulting really, Christofalde had the largest mercenary army of the realm, some eleven thousand men, more than enough to defeat an army of savages exhausted after crossing the mountains, but Hildegund had been extremely clear that she wanted thus crushed, no surprise defeat or unexpected outcome. Well… he found solace in the fact he was still being paid his full tariff. She hadn’t even tried to negotiate.‘’Mon capitan!’’
Shouts one of the watchmen of Christofalde’s host.‘’Zhey are coming!’
Indeed, the bark and clamour of gnoll and beast echoed over the fields as the interlopers advanced swiftly towards them, now clearly within sight and aim of Gardonian artillery. Split divisions of the savage horde had been manoeuvring from the north and the south to beset the Gardonian hill from three directions. Thousands and thousands of them streaming over the valleys! ‘’Scatter Üalfrum’s pathetic slave army! Those halfman vampire-thralls are undeserving being called men, for they willingly live like sheep, where we live like LIONS. We shall now show them the wild pride of FREE MEN!’’
Jafaroglu cries in his own dialect, so that only a fraction of the mostly foreign-army could understand, yet by the forceful way spoken, all men and beasts could easily guess what the Mirza wills of them. The warlord raises a pistol and fires a shot into the air. ‘’Charge!’’
The archaic Tzücomen cavalry, primarily armed with javelins, bows and arrows, charge the frontlines, firing their projectiles as they ride while the Gnülonlar swarm the neglected north and south flanks of the Gardonian host.
Before the shock infantry even reached the enemy, other Gnülonlar formed up down the hill, armed with all manner of ranged weaponry from crude matchlock muskets to slings. There they indiscriminately fire shots, bolts and fling rocks into the enemy as much as they do into their fellow gnolls. “As expected.”
Answered a smirking Etinivien. “Artillerie! Distance Maximum! Feux!”
The larger cannons fired their ordinance at the incoming onslaught as they passed the distance markers already in place. “Rockets, Feux!”
The enemy advanced rapidly but now was time to try something new in Christofalde’s arsenal. Amrean rocket artillery! It may sound dramatic, especially for an old worlders, but these were wooden frames with rocket propelled arrows with at their tips, small amounts of explosives. The 3 constructs began firing their payload but soon after, screaming was heard in the ranks.“Feux! Feux feux feux!”
Looking away from his spyglass in annoyance, Etinivien saw something what would be comedic if it happened to any men but his own. One of the rockets had been stuck in the device! Trying to unjam it, it had become loose and fell on the ground, creating a small explosion downing 3 men. But it wasn’t the end of it as soon after, the entire area was covered by a cloud of smoke as the reserve ammunitions were ignited, destroying the engine and its remaining non fired rockets!
The incompetence! Looking for the responsible, the artillery master covered his face with shame. Still, the remaining, more reliable artillery, did what it could to weaken the enemy. “Graaah! No matterz! Send in zhe skirmisherz to cover zhe flanks!”
After a quick acknowledgement, a soldier sounded for the skirmishers to engage and on the south, there was a rumble of hooves… But nothing from the north. Christofalde had to turn his eyes to the skirmishers, part of another company than his own to see him point at the enemy with incomprehension. “You’ree skirmisheurz! Skirmish for Moon’z sake!”
The commander screamed at the top of his lungs. The captain of the lesser mercenary company sent him a look filled with resentment, thinking the man nominally in charge was an imbecile trying to get him killed.
This battle which seemed to be nothing but a series of blunders and communications problem continued, getting all the more ridiculous and frustrating for the man in charge as it went. What a ‘gachis’ he thought, for all these problems, the mercenaries did a superb job whenever they actually did what they were meant to, having a superiority of equipment especially in the form of artillery and heavy armor, even with some mages to cause significant casualties to the enemy! Further more when the second wave of humanoids engaged, after the gnolls were butchered, a lot of them actually switched side! The fools had enrolled Gardonians in their armies, no doubt promising them freedom from Strigoi rule but after spending some times with these savages they had began to have second thoughts.
In the end, the mercenary ensembled was battered, much more than it should have been when facing a relatively inferior enemy as they had today, but they can sense victory. The gnolls and horsemen had been repulsed, and the enemy infantry had been coerced into a disorganized withdrawal, demoralized by rampant death and the soaring blasts of Gardonian artillery.
However, all men could then also sense a reverberating quake through the valley, and the faint braying of trumpets beyond the hills… The most damningly piercing of which coming from a great horn
drafted onto the battlefield.
It was a carnage, or rather a devastating stampede followed by a decisive en masse surrender of the mercenary army. The Miranids rounded up prisoners while Lanfranjean was given Christofalde, for him to do with as he pleased. The hunchback was beating the mercenary leader’s face to a blue and blotched mess while tirading: ’’Zhis is what you get for getting all zhe wimmen, pretty boy! Where iz your 'andsome pretty face now?!’’
Meanwhile Mirza Jafaroglu and his gryphon flew over the red field to observe today’s dead. A scowl formed on his face: for every Gardonian felled, there were at least three Gnülonlar or Tzücomen. Worse yet, of those Gardonians dead none of them were Strigoi and but a few were daywalkers. It was a diversion, as much as his own army had been. Nevertheless, these vampire-slaves had pulled fate’s short straw this day.
Looking over his shoulder, a titanic beast is casting its vast shadow to encompass this valley of death, the selfsame to whom is owed his victory. The numbed Gardonian prisoners are overcome by feelings of fear and awe both; it is seldom they had seen such a godly monstrosity. Though is it the beast for whom the mercenaries of Wulfram cower, or more the menacing specter of regalty perched atop the beast’s head, clutching a radiant flaming sword...