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Saturday, 16 May 2009

Dogs of War vs Ogre Kingdoms Battle Report (4000pts)

warhammer fantasy battle narrative :-

"As if the catastrophe with the Scraplauncher were not bad enough, once again disaster struck the allied army. Uryens’ wizard bit off more than he could chew trying to channel the Commandment of Brass. The resultant flare of uncontrolled magical energy not only wounded the wizard himself but killed all five of the Greatswords standing around him. The rest of the veteran warriors might have laughed at the wave of tickly, blue energy licking around their blades and armour, were it not for the horrible screams of the burnt and dying men, as well as the noisome stench of their scorched flesh."

(Lol. You just can't beat Padre's battle stories !)

source : battlereporter.freeforums.orgcredit : BatPadre16-May-2009

New Solland’s First Battle

Several miles south of Mortensholm...

Baron Uryens de Crux had given his order, and by the morning not only was the army assembled in its battle lines, but it had begun its final move to bring it into contact with the foe. There were too many spies and scouts to keep the manoeuvre from the foe, and so Don Matthias Black Company were made ready for battle too. This was no surprise, for there was not a man or Ogre there who had not known that battle had must surely be joined either that day or the next.

The land between the armies was empty of trees, for the New Sollanders and their Ogre allies had moved beyond the edge of the forest. But there were still hills - the foothills of the Black Mountains at the very western end of what were commonly called the Trebleca hills. Both armies intended to utilise those hills.

To the west was a branch of the river Dante, so close that it’s rocky banks would form one entire flank of the battlefield.

Upon the hazardous march south, Uryens had avoided too much contact between his men and the Ogres. Determined to continue this strategy now, he ordered his own men to form the left flank of the allied force, and accepted only the Ogre Maneaters (who were much more used to the company of men, and vica versa) to join his ranks. The Tyrant Agrabog would thus move up on Uryens’ right. The Baron had no intention of attempting to order how Agrobog should array his force, a common sense decision in more than one way: first the Ogre would probably be too proud to listen; secondly, Uryens had little understanding of how best to array such brutes for battle.

Atop his Griffon, the Baron was an impressive sight. Most of those who served under him had done so for many a year (this was an army of veterans) and so he felt that he would not need to be ‘down on their level’ to closely supervise. Besides, his sergeants and captains knew what was expected of them, and were fully versed in all the signals he might employ from the back of his monstrous mount.

His three tertios of foot advanced in line. The Great Swords followed their two Swordsmen detachments, while both regiments of Halberdiers adopted the same formation, having their Free Company detachments on their left and their hangunners out in front. The light cannon and the Hellblaster (the latter a novelty that Uryens had never before employed in battle) took position on and below the hill. The Knights moved up on the far left, with a brace of Maneaters nearby ready to try to match their pace

On the right, Agrabog strung his force out almost in a line. Of course, the huge Scrap Launcher need not take up room in the line as it was perfectly capable of shooting over the Ogres’ heads. The Rhinox was so massive, that its Gnoblar crew were almost at the same height as the cannon on the hilltop! Agrabog marched with his Ironguts Bodyguard, and his Bruiser Thaddeus with one of the Bull’s regiments. One pair of Leadbelchers joined the line. The other pair moved more cautiously behind the Gnoblars. One Butcher was also cautious and joined a unit of Bulls, but the second chose to risk moving up on the far right. Perhaps he thought that from there he might get a better view of proceedings?

This was not the Sollanders’ full strength. Uryens had left a garrison at Mortensholm, and much of his cavalry was dispersed to cover his flanks, to scout and (importantly) to forage. Mortensholm had not had much in the way of supplies to offer the army when it arrived. Even Agrabog had only two thirds of his force here, though he had much less of an idea regarding where his absent warriors were.

The Black Company, however, was mustered in the full strength it could gather, for Don Matthias had known this was coming. To be honest, he had been surprised how long it had taken the enemy to bring him to battle. He had even resorted to goading the foe with the horrible practise of placing the heads of the dead of Mortensholm upon stakes on the road south of the town.

Now the Don was ready, as where his mercenary army, the Black Company. It was an impressive sight. He placed most of his foot, certainly the massed ranks of Halberd, Pike and Sword all together in the hope that they would effectively guard each others flanks and thus prove an immovable obstacle to the foe. Upon the left he sent several units intended to ‘play’ with the enemy, to delay them, distract them, and howsoever keep them occupied while the rest of his army did the real bloody work to the centre and right. The Don rode with his Lancer upon the far right, with Captain Luitpold and the other Lancer company close by, and one of the fast cavalry units for support. His artillery, three cannons and a mortar, he placed between his Horse and Foot, and put both regiments of Crossbowmen upon the hill to add to the destruction dealt out by the guns.

The Black Company's left, intended as a distraction, was made up of archers, Norsemen and Light Horse. Nearby, Pirazzo’s mercenaries, armed with a mixture of Pike and Crossbow, formed the very left-most end of the main line.

In the centre the foot regiments marched in precise step with each other, presenting one single, neat line to the foe. The baggage, containing much of what was robbed from Mortensholm, was behind them. It seemed impossible that the foe would reach the baggage, for the Foot were like the solid, thick wall of a fortification.

Captain Luitpold asked for the honour of leading his own Lancers to front, and the Don graciously granted his request. In truth, the Don never intended to lead the attack, but was much more keen to linger behind as a reserve, so that he could deliver a punch from his own Lancers wherever was most appropriate as the battle unfolded.

With a flurry of drum rolls and blaring horns upon both sides, the battle began. Having a mind to see if Agrabog’s brutes could do the lion’s share of fighting, Uryens ordered a minimal advance by his own troops. The two Maneaters moving cautiously upon the left, and only the two Handgunner detachments and a detachment of Swordsmen joined them forming a ‘forlorn hope’. The men behind watched as their fellows moved away from them, some feeling relief, others apprehension, but all laced with guilt.

The Baron hoped that Agrabog might think he was probing the foe with such a manoeuvre, testing their mettle, finding out whether they had powder. The truth was that Uryens wanted to come out of this battle not only victorious, but with his own men substantially intact and Agrabog’s force weakened. There was no doubt in his mind that he could not trust his foul ally. This was his chance to kill two birds with one stone – fight the enemy, and weaken his troublesome ally.

Agrabog had given such considerations no thought. He was here to fight, to win, to loot – and the enemy’s (stolen) baggage looked substantial. Not that he was in a rush, but his caution was more to do with the Black Company’s reputation, and not with hoping his allies would bear the brunt of the fighting. To his mind the brunt of the fighting was what he expected and wanted. Yet he was not so foolish as to advance too hurriedly or clumsily at the foe. So he sent two leadbelchers out ahead and watched with interest to see how the enemy reacted to their particular form of punishment.

Behind, he and his main line moved much more slowly forwards. Agrabog and Thaddeus his Bruiser scrutinised the massed ranks ahead of them looking for weaknesses. Both wanted to apply blows where the effect would be most damaging.

Out on the far right, however, one of the Butchers felt no such hesitancy and marched out along the rocky bank of the river, considering what spells he might employ. His fellow magic user wound the spell ‘Trollguts’ about the Bulls he was marching with, and they felt a vigour and strength course through their frames. Uryens’ own Priests attempted to conjure a blessing of their own into being, and one of them succeeded in imbuing a regiment of Halberdiers with a magical fortitude. Sigmar himself smiled upon them so that they brimmed with courage and purpose.

While these prayers were being uttered, rather more mundane efforts were being made elsewhere on the field. The cannon, however, only felled two Crossbowmen and not the cannon it was aimed at, while the Hellblaster stayed quiet (the crew well aware that they were still out of range). But it was amongst the Ogres that the most dramatic artillery incident occurred. The Scraplauncher was badly mishandled by its Gnoblar crew, and in attempting to shoot they instead drove the beast into the rear of Thaddeus’ regiment of Bulls, slaying two of them with its sheer bulk, and damaging itself irreparably in the process. Agrabog roared with anger as he realised that the enemy had not yet even been reached, nor had they unleashed even one arrow, and yet his own warriors were already falling!

Upon the other side of the field, and far from the sight of the Ogres’ discomfort, Don Matthias and Captain Luitpold, manoeuvred themselves as best they could to prepare for the delivery of charges. Both were aware of the limited space available to their Lancer units, as well as the fact that the enemy commander was riding a monstrous Griffon. Perhaps foolishly, the nearby Light Horse now moved up ahead, intending to draw the enemy on and thus break their line.

On the Black Company’s left, a score of skirmishing Archers mounted the hill and notched their arrows, while the second company of Light Horse arrayed themselves at the foot of the hill to consider which enemy they might charge. It seemed that every Light Horseman on the field was feeling confident and impetuous, for they were now the foremost on both flanks. The Norsemen, having almost lost their chance to fight in the previous battle, also made their way to the top of the hill, from where they intended to pour down onto the foe in a an overwhelming charge.

The massed ranks of Black Company foot soldiers simply stood as they were, while their drums beat ever more rapid peels of defiance. Jan Van Junge glanced to his left to see the archers atop the hill and made the quick decision to magically aid their efforts with the Portent of Far. He succeeded in casting his spell, even though his concentration almost failed when of boom, boom, boom of artillery fire burst to the right of him. A lot of smoke and several iron balls later and only two Sollanders had fallen, and two Ogres been scratched by splinters. Yet there was to be a huzzah yet, for the two companies of crossbowmen upon and in front of the hill let loose every one of their quarrels at the approaching Maneaters. Both brutes fell to the ground, pierced umpteen times – too many to count. As the huzzah went up on the right, far to the left of the line there was another as Pirrazzo’s men brought down one of the Leadbelchers daring to approach.

Agrabog might have had the brain of an Ogre, but he had wits enough now to realise that dawdling was not going to be the best course of action on this day. He pointed at the foe and shouted,

“At ‘em! And fast. Tear ‘em to pieces!”

His warriors, a little dazed by what the Scraplauncher had done, gathered what wits they had together and began the advance proper. The Butcher out on his own thought that he might be able to swipe the Duellists aside, and so moved towards them. The Gnoblars next to him also advanced, keen to show their masters that they too were willing to fight (and keen to get at the shiny, sharp things the enemy carried).

Uryens was still keen to see what the Ogres might do, and although he ordered a general advance, it was only to bring his main regiments closer to his forlorn hope. Those men at the very front had already halted, preparing to deliver a volley of handgun fire before they moved again. The crew of the Hellblaster, now realising that the enemy probably had no intention of moving any further forwards, now tugged and heaved at their warmachine to drag it laboriously forwards. Having sweated hard to fetch this great metal beast over the Winter’s Teeth Pass, they were determined that the contrary sod would fire at the foe.

Uryens urged Lillith over a little, to sit behind his Heavy Knights, but he was glad to see that they chose not to accept the enemy’s bait and charge at the Light Horse – they too could obviously see that the enemy was trying to lure them into a trap.

Little magic was brought to bear as Butchers, Priests and Wizard all failed to usher their magical conjurations past the enemy’s guard. The crew of the light cannon had now spotted Don Matthias with his elaborate armour, and laughing, they chose to target him personally (he was sitting right in the middle of his Lancers). Their good humour was dulled however when their piece misfired - a flash in the pan. Better luck was had by the Leadbelcher and the Gnoblars on the right, for between them they brought down four of the Light Horse. The brave Black Company men, however, were steadfast, and continued their advance. The Handgunners could only add two crossbowmen to the tally of the enemy’s dead.

Considering what the Scraplauncher had done to its own side, this was all in all a disappointing effort by the missile troops of the Solland alliance.

Seeing an opportunity, the Light Horse ahead of Luipold’s Lancers now charged at the detachment of Free Company ahead of them, knowing they had a good chance of victory over such a weak foe, and that if the enemy Lancers tried to charge them as a consequence, their own Lancers would be able to strike at the enemy knights’ flank. A good plan, they thought, Of course, little on a battlefield goes exactly to plan, and this was to prove the case here: the Free Company fled (being run down in the process) and the Light Horse ended up charging the enemy’s knights. They would be the first to admit that this would never be their first choice of target, yet at the same time, they had the initiative, and if they could fell one or two, maybe the courage of even such elite and heavily armoured warriors would fail?

At the very same moment the now half strength Light Horse upon the other flank charged boldly and desperately into the lone Butcher, while the Estalian Duellists quaked in fear at the very thought of joining their comrades in such a fight. The Norse, characteristically unable to restrain themselves, hurled down the hill towards the lone Leadbelcher. But the Ogre, a cunning sort, fled away. He knew three things – first that he could outrun them, second that he would be able to reload later if he did get away, and third that the Norse warriors would find themselves facing potential countercharges by several of Agrabog’s units. With all this in mind, he was laughing as he ran – whilst feigning fear so amateurishly that the Ogres nearest to him laughed too.

While Luitpold and the Don both re-jigged the Lancers’ positions, the rest of the army stood defiantly still, as if entirely unconcerned at the enemy’s approach. The Pikemen stood at the advance, giving the appearance that do so were no effort at all, and so ready at any moment to lower their pikes into the ‘charge’ position; the Swordsmen nonchalantly rested their curved blades upon their right shoulders; the Halberdiers stood at order, the blades of their weapons so keenly sharpened that they glinted in the sun.

Perhaps the apparent lack of concern was contagious? For the wizards failed to summon any form of magic into being, and between all four artillery pieces, only one managed to hit anything, and that was a mere glancing blow upon the Hellblaster Volley Gun, doing little apparent damage. So too Pirazzo’s men and the archers upon the hill, who between them managed only to scratch at the advancing Ogres. The Crossbowmen upon the other hill did do a little better, for when they laid low three handgunners the rest of the detachment fled in panic.

But no-one had told the Light Horse that there was no rush. Those on the left slew the injured Butcher as he tried to escape, and those on the left brought down two noble Knights of the Order of the Green Cross. Understandably enraged, the knights in return killed three of the Black Company Riders, but somehow the Light Horse found the courage to stand and fight on! With the impetuous of their charge lost, they stood little chance of slaying any more Knights, but the killing of two had given them hope!

What the Riders had not expected was the arrival of the Baron himself on their flank. He and his monstrous mount tore three of the black clad warriors apart, and although the Knights were themselves too shaken to deal any effective blows, the sheer terror of the Griffon sapped whatever foolhardy courage the riders had previously felt. They now fled. The Baron gestured his will, which was not to pursue, and his loyal Knights stood their ground by his side. He had no intention of having them stumbling impetuously into the reach of the enemy’s Lancers. He was determined that both he and they should have the initiative in any further engagement.

Agrabog’s surviving Butcher and the Bulls he was commanding now smashed into the Norsemen, flattening three with the impact of their charge alone. Before the Norse could get their bearings, or even raise a sword in anger, five more were dispatched, so that the entire front rank had been killed.

This was too much punishment, too suddenly, and even though only a moment before they had been frothing at the mouth in their frenzied desire for bloody battle, they now took to their heels and fled. The Ogres bellowed their battle cries and ran after them, and as they were about to smash into the Archers upon the hill, these too fled in fear. Two large regiments had been broken there on the far right, but Uryens could not know, for the smoke of the enemy's guns was swirling across the field and blocking his line of sight.

Not to be outdone by their brothers in arms, the pair of Leadbelchers who had been moving up behind the Gnoblars grinned as they saw the Wolfpelt Riders (having just slain the Butcher) running by them. They turned to point their cannons at the foe …

… and slaughtered all four in the fiery blasts that issued from the muzzles. Both set about re-loading, deciding that this battle was going to be fun after all.

Nearby the Gnoblars flinched at the sound of the guns, but the shock did not put off their aim. They threw a very sangrenel of daggers, hatchets and assorted broken blades at the Duellists, who proved base cowards for when only three fell injured the rest fled the field of battle entirely.

As his gnoblar slaves and Leadbelchers were having all this fun, Agrabog moved up with his Ironguts bodyguard, with Thaddeus and the last surviving Bull in his unit at his side. Nothing could yet coax the Sollanders to move much further forwards, apart for the lone Swordsmen detachment, who now found themselves approaching close to the Black Company’s cannon battery. They were beginning to wonder if they were had taken their role of forlorn hope a little too far.

As if the catastrophe with the Scraplauncher were not bad enough, once again disaster struck the allied army. Uryens’ wizard bit off more than he could chew trying to channel the Commandment of Brass. The resultant flare of uncontrolled magical energy not only wounded the wizard himself but killed all five of the Greatswords standing around him. The rest of the veteran warriors might have laughed at the wave of tickly, blue energy licking around their blades and armour, were it not for the horrible screams of the burnt and dying men, as well as the noisome stench of their scorched flesh.

Ill fortune was becoming a habit for the men of Solland, as now the cannon misfired a second time, and the Hellblaster failed to ignite properly so that only one Black Company Halberdier was brought down by its shot. Still, the Duellists had fled, the Norse, Light Horse and archers were fleeing, while one company of Light Horse had been torn to pieces. So it was not all going Don Matthias’ way.

The famous mercenary Pirrazzo decided that now was the time, and rather than shoot another little batch of bolts at the foe, he led his regiment in a charge against the bruiser Thaddeus and his last Bull.

The Black Company’s sable clad swordsmen moved up to guard Pirazzo’s flank, while the Instancabile Pike turned to face Agrabog, and lowered their pikes to present a very forest of steel barbs. Don Matthias, utterly unaware that twice now the enemy had attempted to fire a cannon right at him, and deep in conversation with his knightly companions regarding the situation, calmly manoeuvred his Lancers to take position at the foot of the rightmost hill, while the Crossbowmen who had been there (at least the few who had survived the enemy’s missile fire) made their way up the hill to get out of their master's way.

The Resplendente Pike regiment began the wheel towards the centre of the field, while their flank was protected by the Paymaster and his Bodyguard of Halberdiers. Both regiments were convinced that surely the enemy would be sending more than a detachment of swordsmen their way.

Luitpold could not take his eyes off the Griffon, and so he wheeled his own Lancers to face the foe squarely. He could barely believe his eyes when the two remaining Light Horse from the unit that had just been torn apart in combat with the monster rallied right in front of him, and turned to face the Knights of the Green Cross and their monster riding commander once more!

Others in the Black Company, however, were beginning to fear the strangely calm advance of the Griffin and its noble rider. Spurred on by this concern all three cannons were now turned to face said creature and all three fired straight at it. Somehow it survived, though it was clear from the way it lurched that one of the balls had at least grazed it, if not delivered a telling punch.

Pirazzo and his men fought bravely against Thaddeus, and through their sheer weight of numbers they managed to stand their ground and fight on, even though the brutes were proving very hard to kill. Twelve Pikemen in the second and third rank stabbed forward to bolster the attacks of those in front, and yet Thaddeus like a devil, bloodied from the scratches, fought on.

Upon the far left of the Black Company’s line, both the Norsemen and the Archers had rallied, and set about attempting to reform their bodies. But their efforts were to prove of little worth, for when the Ogre Bulls charged them once more, they immediately turned tail and fled yet again. This time they scattered far and wide, and their contribution to the battle (little more than to keep a regiment of Bulls and a Butcher busy for a while) was over.

Agrabog now delivered a charge himself, aiming right for the pikemen ahead of him. His blood was up enough to care not a jot for the terrifying thicket of sharp steel blades they presented. Seeing his resolve, married to his size and ferocity, the Pikemen suddenly lost all confidence, and fled away from him and his Ironguts. But not so the Swordsmen at their rear, who now found themselves the subject of Agrabog’s attack. They stood their ground and received the Tyrant’s charge, somehow finding the courage the Pikemen had lacked.

The brave detachment of Sollander Swordsmen now took it upon themselves to march right past the mouths of the enemy’s artillery …

… while the still cautious Knights of the Green Cross moved once more towards the enemy, but not to engage them. In a similar vein, the massed Sollander foot regiments simply looked to their dressings, and several even moved slightly backwards.

It is fair to say that Uryens and his men were proving somewhat reluctant to commit to battle, at least not until they could be certain of some realistic chance of success. The Baron was waiting to see if the Ogres could begin to threaten the Black Company’s centre. Until they did, he could see that enemy before him was in too good a position, with artillery and crossbows and foot in sufficient numbers to maul his men very badly if they did attempt an approach.

And events would prove the Baron’s cautious attitude was well founded. For his cannon managed at last to fire but to do only minimal harm to the foe, and his Hellblaster finally proved something of a cursed white elephant when it exploded, destroying itself and its crew.

Even for Agrabog, everything was not exactly going his way. He and his Ironguts tore bloody swathes of death through the Swordsmen, then when the men turned to flee, finished them off in an even more bloody manner. But while this was going on, his Bruiser and companion in battle for years, Thaddeus, was overwhelmed by Pirazzo’s battle hardened mercenaries and succumbed to their blades as he staggered back in confusion. The Bruiser’s huge body crashed to the ground.

Upon the other side of the field Captain Luitpold decided that the best course of action was to leave his Lancers to charge the Knights of the Green Cross single-handed. This way they could continue their advance to threaten the Sollanders’ foot soldiers (still mustered in strength, even if tardy in their advance), while hopefully showing the Light Horse that he too was willing and brave enough to go against the odds. As he began his charge, the Light Horse decided they would not have him do so alone, and joined him to once again face the very same foe that had already so badly mauled them!

Luipold’s fight was hard, as he himself was wounded in his combat with the enemy champion, yet once again the goddess Myrmidia was with the Black Company Riders for they brought down another of the caparisoned northerners. Defiantly, Luipold and the last of the Light Horse stood their ground, and fought on.

A little of the same spirit of defiance was now shown by the fleeing Pikemen, who stopped before the army’s baggage, turned to look upon the field once more, and reformed their ranks and files. They too would try again. With rather more confidence, Don Matthias finally saw fit to commit himself and his Lancers to the fray, and charged into the flank of the detachment of Swordsmen threatening the guns. Of course the poor men of the forlorn hope had not a chance against such an attack and were soundly thrashed. The Lancers’ momentum was such that when they pursued they found themselves running right through their own Pike regiment and out the other side!

Apart from the mortar crew, who entirely missed with their next shot, the rest of the Black Company’s gunners were beginning to get a good feel for the field. One cannon ball, aiming for the very centre of a detachment, went a little too far and yet was not wasted, for it tore the enemy Wizard in half as well as the Greatswordsman behind him. But the best was yet to come, for two of the light cannon crews chose once again to train their pieces upon the Griffon mounted Baron. Of the two, one ball neatly found its mark, and ripped right through the monster’s throat to kill it instantly. Uryens was thus dashed to the ground. Such was his discomfort that the world about him seemed blurred, and his dizzy head spun from the impact of the fall.

(Author’s note – What a fine excuse for using one of the (many) pictures that went wrong!)

Once he had regained his bearings, Uryens threw himself furiously at the Black Rider still fighting his knights. His blade went deep, through both rider and horse, felling both. At the same time, Captain Luitpold slew the champion locked in combat with him. But now his courage failed him, for he was surrounded, and Uryens bore upon him, so he turned his horse to flee, perhaps to rejoin his Lancers? This was not to be, for the knights dragged him down and stabbed with their lances as their destriers trampled over him. Within a moment his life had been battered and bashed away.

As the Leadbelchers calmly reloaded and the Gnoblars turned to face Pirazzo’s men, Agrobog turned his Ironguts to face the rallied regiment of Pikes. He knew that this time it would be them delivering the charge, but he cared not, for they had fled the first time they had faced him and he seriousy doubted their hearts were in it now.

The Greatswords, reeling from the Wizard’s multiple misfortunes and the Hellblaster’s nearby explosion, now began to advance properly. Ahead they could see the enemy Pikemen, and even managed a cheer as they saw a cannon ball at last bounce through them, felling the entire file in its path. They were not the only Black Company men to fall to bullets, as between them the surviving Sollander Handgunners took down one of the Don’s elite Caricare Lancers.

The other Lancers now committed themselves, charging at the Handgunners before them, dispatching them with barely a thought, and then crashing onwards to smash into the Halberdier regiment beyond.

The Don would also have charged, for he saw his chance to strike at Agrabog himself, but he could not encourage his men sufficiently, and the entire unit balked at the prospect of charging such a fearful foe. Not so the recently rallied Pikemen, who now considered that to regain their honour and save their reputation, they must charge even against such foes. And charge they did, though the consequences were more terrible than they could have imagined: while they could only injure one of the brutes, not even toppling him, the Tyrant and Ironguts hacked merrily away until nine of them lay dead. Once again they fled, though Agrabog saw the danger of pursuing and becoming engulfed in foes, and managed to restrain his ferocious warriors so that they only went forwards a few steps.

Cannons blazed and grenadoes burst felling even more of the poor Greatswords, while the Don’s wizards concentrated on weakening the enemy Priests’ prayers. Pirazzo’s men made short work of defeating and killing the two Leadbelchers before them, and that after receiving their blasts full on!

It was becoming clear that the battle was to be a victory for neither side. Upon both sides the powder was running short, and the will to fight was waning. The warriors were either exhausted, shattered or demoralised. The gunners’ ears were ringing, and the drumbeats were losing their stridency. Yet even so the Greatswords finally delivered a charge with what few of them where left – hitting the flank of the Pikemen before them. A detachment of Free Company saw their chance too and charged the flank of the knights engaging their parent unit to the fore. Agrabog now decided to throw any caution to the wind and ordered a charge against the fleeing Pikemen, but neither he nor his Ironguts could reach.

While the Bulls and the Butcher leading them actually fell back away from the foe, and the Gnoblars turned to throw what sharp stuff they had left at Pirazzo’s in desperation, Baron Uryens de Crux now fully realised the folly of his situation. He was alone, on foot, and only yards away from the spot that cannon balls had killed his mount. He could see gunners and Crossbowmen all facing his way, and he knew full well what they would do. These men of the Black Company had no honour in them, only viciousness and greed. These were the men who had made a sport of decorating a road with the heads of their slaughtered foes. In a moment of sudden clarity, which washed away the fury that had gripped him until then, the noble Baron turned and fled as fast as his legs could take him towards his rearmost soldiers.

As he ran, the fighting stuttered - the last efforts of men dog tired and ready to call it a day. Pikemen struggled with Greatswords, Knights hacked at Halberdiers, and men kept falling, but no-one ran. The mortar’s barrel broke and sent splinters into the crewmen around it. The other gunners stood silent, stunned by what they had seen.

Darkness was falling, and both sides knew that to fight on would mean destruction for all. The Ogres were mercenaries, as were many of the men upon the field, and none could see the sense in mutual destruction. Uryens had fled to the rear to avoid bullets and bolts, and he called his men to muster about him.

Nevertheless, the Don wheeled his knights around to face the rear of Agrabog’s Ironguts, whilst the Paymaster’s Bodyguard stood their ground to the side of the same brutes.

(End of Turn 6. Game over. Draw. Black Company only 187 VP ahead of the Sollanders.)

Agrabog knew full well the disadvantage he was at, and so suddenly, cunningly he and his men dashed through the wagons of the baggage – not stopping to loot them, but to overturn them and prevent any of the men following. Within minutes he and his veteran Ironguts were back with the Bulls off on the flank, panting hard as they attempted to get their breath back. None of the Bulls laughed.

Dark clouds made the night come all the quicker, then rainfall further obscured the field, as well as dampening what little powder there was left. One by one the fighting regiments began to fall back from each other, no-one willing to fight on, to force the foe, to press for an advantage. Bedraggled lines began marching away from the field, while small units of rearguard sullenly watched the enemy to keep an eye out for tricks.

Agrabog bellowed for his surviving men to join him. Uryens found his tent and issued a summons to his officers. Don Matthias said a quick prayer for Luitpold, and then rode at the head of his knights, looking for all intents and purposes as if he were riding to a fight and not from one. He wasn’t fooling anyone.

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