Friday, 31 August 2012

WoffBoot VI - Dogs of Empire vs Lizardmen

On the second day, the Enterprise of Campogrotta found the Lizardmen.

None of the mercenaries, even those who come from beyond the Old World, had seen foes like this. Masses of amphibian javelineers, backed by scaly titans. Mighty winged steeds with neither quill nor feather. Vicious reptile-beasts riding savage bipedal lizards.

The strange army gathered at the far end of the valley, aping the Tileans' own military formations. Two solid blocks of javelineers, one either side of a small copse. The lizard-knights on the left flank, the winged monsters circling behind.

Commissar Pendleton narrowed his eyes. He reckoned he could get five gold crowns for every turquoise feather headband, and two-dozen good quality handbags if he could get the big ones back to a decent leathermaker.

He gave a sharp whistle through his teeth. The Riders of Udolpho galloped forward, circling around the lizard-knights and unleashing a deadly hail of bullets. The reptile steeds loped forward, heading for the main battle lines through the clearing gunpowder smoke. They didn't even seem to know they had been fired upon.

Seeking easier prey, the pistoliers discovered a little newt-creature, skulking by himself at the rear of the lines. Laughing and joking among themselves, the bravos who had yesterday felled a giant took careful aim. The slimy thing just stood there, blinking slowly, flicking its tongue and ruffling its frilled crest.

SHAZAM! A shock of mighty thunderbolts crashed down upon the Riders. When the dust had cleared, every horseman was dead or fled.

Pendleton swallowed hard. This was going to be a tougher prospect than banishing the greenskins yesterday.

The Sptifyre Volley Gun coughed out a sporadic fusillade against the lizard-knights. The Tettoverde Greenjackets flung crossbow bolts at them, as Vernon Aurelius added his fire to the mix. Slowly, the lizard-knights began to fall, though the survivors were undaunted and continued to move forward.

The two units of javelineers were also getting closer, their slender flights began soaring towards their battle line. One of them struck a spearman of the Viadaza Toreadors. It was barely more than a pinprick, but the man dropped like a stone, eyes rolled back and foam gushing from between his lips. Poison, Pendleton thought, and made a mental note of the Tilean princes who would pay for such exotic venoms.

Pendleton rattled the paychest, just to remind everyone what they were fighting for, and charged the Schiltrons into the left-hand block of javelineers. The greatspears lanced through rank upon rank of the little amphibians until they resembled a particularly unpleasant kebab. Soon The Schiltrons of Taranto had ploughed through half the field as they hacked and slashed the poisonous creatures to bits.

In response, the winged creatures soared overhead, dropping rocks on the spearmen as they overshot the battle line. Wheeling in the air, they charged at the crossbows, who suddenly remembered they had urgent business at the far end of the field, and promptly left to attend to it.

The remaining lizard-knights eventually warmed up sufficiently to gallop into the Spitfyre, making short work of the ineffectual crew. With both lizard-knights and winged reptiles rampaging across his back line, it was now down to the fire wizard to hold the flank. Sparks of flame sputtered from the centre of the melee, but Pendleton estimated that he had moments to act before Aurelius went down to those slashing claws.

Wheeling the Schiltrons back around, he saw the Viadaza Toreadors struggle over a stone wall to face the second block of javelineers, taking causalities as they did so. With a final heave, the spearmen braved the last volley of poisoned bolts and crashed into combat. As if sensing the battle was to be decided there, the remaining lizard-knights loped off to join the fray.

In desperation, Pendleton rattled off another list of monetary incentives to the Schiltrons. Sufficiently motivated, they also smashed into the growing melee. The last of the lizard-knights fell, including a massive rider with a patchwork of old scars across his hard scales. The javelineers were unable to hold back the fury of two regiments and were cut down as they fled.

The field was theirs. Pendelton puffed out his cheeks and tried to calculate what this victory had cost him.
"Solid work, pisanos." He said to those mercenaries still on their feet. "Now someone go and round up the Udolpho Riders. The day isn't over yet."

The winged creatures were swooping away behind him, which left only a couple of those tiny newt-magicians on the field. They should be easy enough to finish off ... but Pendleton thought it was time to return to camp.
He though he could hear the rumble of thunder in the skies. And he didn't like the way that turquoise one was blinking at him.

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