Saturday, 1 September 2012

WoffBoot VI - Dogs of Empire vs Vampire Counts

It was close to midnight, and something evil was lurking in the dark. Under the moonlight, the Enterprise of Capogrotta took up positions to defend themselves against the restless dead.

Commissar Pendleton was not a happy paymaster. The mercenaries were being forced to deal with yet another army vying over this bloody piece of the Border Princes. Scouts had reported that their prize, The Black Banner of Blancvik, had been taken by the vampire counts. Even worse, fighting at night meant that he would have to pay overtime.

In frustration, he aimed a kick at the prisoner Sylvio Delestro. The deserter had been recaptured yesterday, handed over by a wandering band of simpletons. Delestro had been planning to take the banner for himself, but due to his greed, the mercenaries had lost it anyway. He promised a particularly unpleasant punishment for the turncoat.

The Riders of Udolpho fearlessly galloped forward once again, peppering the legendary Black Coach. The Spitfyre volley gun followed suit and opened up with every barrel, sending two dozen shots at the nightmare carriage. Even in the poor light, Pendleton could see that the target was unaffected: the idiot gunners had forgotten to load the weapon.

"Can't get the parts, guv'nor," the master gunner shrugged.

Pendleton was about to frame a retort that would halve the gunner's wages when he saw a sight that almost stopped his heart. A shambling regiment of skeletal warriors, flanked by a mob of savage ghouls, with a stinking corpse cart close behind. At the head of each unit was a vampire, pale skin and bright fangs showing in the pale moonlight.

"This one's mine!" shouted Vernon Aurelius, and the fire wizard let rip with a volley of fireballs. The corpse cart burnt to ashes in the conflagration. Aurelius clapped his hands in celebration, forgetting that they were still charged with magical energy. A vortex opened up behind him and sucked the hapless wizard into the void faster than you could say, 'oh boy, was that a stupid thing to do."

The ghouls leaped forward into the Viadaza Toreadors, joined from the other flank by the Black Coach, riddled with bullet holes but still rolling. The spearmen tried to scream, but terror took the sound before they made it. Rank after rank of spearmen fell beneath the wheels of the terror carriage. Pendleton could see Captain Fagiolo try to hold the spearmen, but to no avail. The spearmen broke and fled over the hills, only their mortal fear gave them the speed to escape total destruction.

The Black Coach charged yet again, but the magic that held it to this plane of existence had begin to weaken. Fagiolo and the last scraps of the Toreadors were finally able to banish the terror carriage and its vampiric passenger. But they were too shaken to take any further part in the battle.

Seeing his crossbows also depart the field, Pendleton knew that, yet again, it was down to himself and the Schiltrons of Tarano to save the day. With promises of rich reward on their lips, the elite unit charged forward into the skeleton regiment, their mighty greatspears leveled at the bone husks...

... only then did Pendleton realise he had made a terrible mistake. These skeletons had not just taken The Black Banner of Blancvik, they were carrying it before them into battle. The usually-sluggish undead were now fighting with a savage frenzy that even the mighty Schiltrons could not withstand. A pang of fear gripped the Paymaster as the truth dawned that there just ain't no second chance to fight the thing with forty attacks.

The battle was lost, and army in tatters. Only a supreme act of generalship to save his skin. Pendleton took off his coat and draped it around Delestro's shoulders.

"You've been promoted," he told the deserter. "Congratulations: you're the general."

Before he took shelter inside the massive iron-bound paychest, the last thing Pendleton saw was Sylvio Delestro fighting for his life against a killer, thriller, vampire.

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