Fluffy Background for my EoS Army

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    • Fluffy Background for my EoS Army

      Greetings all -

      I had an old thread of battle reports and fluffy write ups, I'll be moving it over here!

      Note that this is simply my idea of the background of my army and doesn't reflect the official background at all.
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • Back when Warhammer Fantasy was still alive I enjoyed building a narrative for my Empire army. I found them a place in the world and chronicled their battles, both victories and defeats.

      Now that the world map has been released, I believe it is time again for my force to have some flavor. I am an amateur at best, and this fluff has no purpose other than to inspire myself to continue painting and modeling my force.

      Here is what I've written so far. Occasionally I will include a narrative battle report if I have time / feel interested. Hope you enjoy the read.

      Based out of the great city of Easten, Marshal Stanislaus leads his troops in the defense of the Barren Mountains. True to their name, these mountains are dry, dusty, and bitter. The area is constantly under threat of invasion from Orcs, Ogres, vagabond Equitaine crusades, Elven war hosts, and the occasional lost invasion force of the Dark Gods. Stalwart Dwarves have several fortresses in the mountains and have proven to be valuable allies in the past.

      The heraldry of House Stanislaus is gold and crimson, with lion rampant proudly in the foreground. The army of Stanislaus is known as the Lion’s Pride, as the soldiers and their commander are fiercely proud. Men of the company prefer the use of Halberds and Spears over swords and shields; an experienced soldier has learned that it is best to kill enemies before they reach you. Pistol and Rifle are also common weapons, although used sparingly to save gunpowder. This precious “black gold” can often run out during long months of campaigning and is gone when you need it most. Most grizzled of these veterans are the House Guard, carrying their great swords and strutting proudly in their full plate. Wearing this armor is torture in the hot sun, but these veterans would never let anyone see them in discomfort. Although there is a small contingent of knights attached to the company, the majority is on foot. The rocky and sandy terrain makes it difficult for prolonged travel with horses.

      Long months of campaigning in the barren wastelands requires large wagon trains of supplies. For every one soldier in the company there are two or three skilled laborers and camp followers. Many of these followers have been with the company since its foundation nearly twenty years ago. Blacksmiths, cobblers, engineers, cooks, and all variety of professions that can be found in any civilized city can be found in this group. They are the backbone of the Lion’s Pride, keeping it supplied and ready for battle.

      Over the years Stanislaus has grown as a commander. In his youth he was bold and even reckless, leading cavalry charges into the heart of the enemy army himself. But decades of campaigning and the loss of youth have wizened the old lion, just as his golden hair has turned white around the edges. With infantry he forms a solid battle line, ready to receive and encircle the enemy. He chooses the battlefield whenever he can, using the rocky terrain he knows so well to both shield his own forces and ensnare the enemy. Artillery and rifle brigades are placed with great care to ensure maximum effectiveness. A victory is greatest when most of the enemies are felled before reaching the battle line.

      Prelate Martin of the Devout Order of Sunna is one of Stanislaus’ most trusted advisers. The old Priest takes care of the soldiers as a shepherd would tend a flock, leading them in battle and giving their last rites in death. Any who would scoff at the old man would be foolish; his wrinkles and balding head hide a holy fervor that comes out in the heart of battle. His heavy warhammer seems to shine with a divine light as he wields it, and his savage fury inspires those around him to great feats of arms.

      Arch Magus Marcus stands out in the company like a sore thumb. While the uniforms of the soldiers are dusty, ripped, and stained, the robes of the wizard are spotless. He seems to glide as he walks, his blue robes clear and simple as a cloudless sky. He is somewhat of a loner, often studying his scrolls late into the night rather than feasting with the men. It is Marcus who truly guides the company; his divination points the company like the wind guides a ship. More than once has his arcane insight saved the company from disaster and led them to glorious victory.

      With winter coming to an end, the Lion's Pride prepares to set out from Easten for a new season of campaigning. At the moment the soldiers are fat and happy, with a wench on their knee and an ale in their hand. They'd best enjoy it, as soon they will be dusty and hot, scowling at the host of enemies that come charging towards the battle line...
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • A few days ago I played against Highborne Elves and got royally stomped. Here is a fluffy account of the bloodshed.

      Rain pattered against steel as the Empire lines drudged forward. Thick mud was making things difficult for the wagons, who were still dangerously exposed in the middle of the valley. Stanislaus cursed this unnatural rain; it had not rained like this in the wastelands for decades. To make matters worse there had been reports of a large Elven force harassing merchants in the area. Fighting in the rain was the worst.

      A cry went out from the left flank and Stanislaus pulled out his looking glass. Coming down the crest of a hill was a shimmer of movement, which on closer inspection turned out to be Elven cavalry. Blessed Sunna those foul creatures were fast. Behind them came a phalanx of Flame Wardensand a small company of Archers. A battery of bolt throwers was up on the ridge, obscured by the treeline and the pouring rain.

      "Griffin! Form the griffin!!" Stanislaus fought the downpour with his voice as best he could. His sergeants echoed his commands and the battle line began to shift, but ever so slowly. The mud and the delay of commands was making things easy for the Elves. Engineer Richtorf was screaming at his artillery team to get into firing position but again the weather was against them. On a clear day they would have been firing minutes ago. Stanislaus ground his teeth in frustration.

      With a crash the Elven cavalry charged into his left flank. Spearmen tried their best to dig in their heels but the mud offered no quarter and they were quickly run down. Stanislaus and his House Guard readied their great weapons, Prelate Martin shouting divine prayers and stirring the blood of the men around him. But at the last minute the Elven lancers split off, avoiding the main part of the Empire battle line. Instead they swept around the flank, the thick mud seeming to have no effect on their movements.

      And so it went for several hours to the great frustration of Stanislaus and his House Guard. The cowardly elves refused to fight them head on, instead feinting and then doubling back, trying to find a weakness in the lines. Arrows rained down from the hillside unhindered by the rain, while the artillery team was paralyzed with wet black powder. It was a small miracle that the Elven force was not bigger and could not fully envelope the Empire army.

      As the rain began to fade and the sun came out, the Elven force retreated swiftly behind the hill, the Empire army unable to give chase. Stanislaus surveyed the soggy mess that was once his proud army with frustration. His detachments had been scattered like sheep, and even now were walking back in twos and threes, their heads hung in shame. Prelate Martin's face was white with rage, more because of missing a good fight than the damage done to Stanislaus' force.

      The Elves could not run forever, and the weather would not be on their side next time...
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • A few nights ago I had to chance to play a big game (10k points per side) against a Vampire Covenant army. Quite an enjoyable game, and quite quick as well. Setup and take down included we finished in under 4 hours. Below is a fluffy account of how the game went.

      As Stanislaus sat on Traveler waiting until nightfall he remembered back on the events of the last few days. The Lion's Pride had discovered 3 separate villages, all of which were devoid of life and burned to the ground. Not only were they devoid of life, but devoid of death as well. This close to the Barrow Swamps could only mean one thing...

      So here they sat, waiting at the ready on the edge of the swamp. The vanguard had scouted the area and lost several horses to the muck, only a few hundred meters in front of their current position. It was essential that Stanislaus forced the enemy to him; fighting in the midst of those swamps would be the death of the Lion's Pride.

      With the sun setting behind them, Stanislaus ordered his runner to spread the word for torches down the line. Like fireflies these torches began to illuminate the edges of his company, and Stanislaus felt immense pride. The large force had taken to this task just as willingly as any other, undeterred by the potential horrors waiting for them in the swamp. It was said that the Lion's Pride would follow their leader to the gates of hell; tonight would test how accurate that statement was...

      The reverie was shattered by a deathly howl. Out of the clouds swooped a skeletal bat the size of a large house, the sight of which chilled Stanislaus to the core. The last time Stanislaus had fought one of these foul creatures he had watched as his horse melted beneath him, skin and muscle peeling from bone as the eldritch scream sucked the soul from his loyal steed. Traveler gave out a soft whinny, as if reading the mind of his master.

      With a boom the artillery came to life. Cheers cried out when a cannon ball crashed into the giant skeletal bat, shattering bones and bringing the creature tumbling into the swamp. The artillery barrage lit up of the sky, revealing a shambling horde moving toward the Lion's Pride.

      With the blare of trumpets and rumbling of drums the Empire army began to come alive. Regiments wheeled and condensed, lowering spear, halberd, and sword in unison. As the horde drudged forwards they crossed the posts that the scouts had erected as range finders. Muskets sparked and crossbows twanged, releasing a deadly salvo into the swamp. Swathes of skeletons were cut down in a hail of lead bringing cheers from the Empire lines. Cannon and Mortar boomed in the night and illuminating the sky with flares and explosions.

      Despite the tremendous firepower the Undead horde continued to advance. Swirling energies would occasionally reanimate the ruined corpses, but they could not keep up with the barrage.

      A first wave of skeletal warriors crashed into the left flank and Stanislaus watched as his line began to buckle. Huge ghoulish monstrosities picked up loyal soldiers and flung them backwards into the swamp or tore at them with bony claws. A less experienced force might have broken at this point, but not the Lion's Pride. Warrior Priests took up the call, and the hundreds of soldiers began to echo it. The chant rose, a low and rumbling sound, and the lines began to push back. "Forward unto death! Forward for the Lion!" With a growing cheer the lines surged forward, pushing the foul creatures back into the swamp. With no footing the creatures were easily overcome, subdued by dozens of spears reaching out and dragging them down.

      Stanislaus turned his attention to the right, where a host of ghostly knights were riding down his militia. "Cavalry, wit me!" He spurred Traveler down the hillside, his retinue following at his heels. They rode down and around the artillery positions, cutting through the trees and momentarily cutting themselves from the battle.

      A few minutes later they emerged from the treeline, now far on the right flank. Ahead of them the ghostly force was still wreaking havoc. A figure in dark red plate armor was at their front, slashing huge arcs with his sword at blinding speed. This was likely the Vampire leading this host, and if he could be felled the army would fall with him. Drawing his sword and lowering his visor, Stanislaus prepared for yet another charge. He really was getting too old for this...

      With a crash the Lion's Pride slammed into the flank of the ghostly knights. Lances shattered and horses screamed and the weight of their momentum did terrible damage. Bones were splintered and ghostly steeds were dissipated in clouds of smoke. The Vampire was on foot at this point, knocking knights off of their horses with a tremendous great sword. The blade seemed to shimmer whenever it drew blood, likely some dark arts at work. Stanislaus dismounted and called out a challenge, raising his sword and then bowing low to the ground. The red armored figure froze, and then slowly returned the bow.

      As the knights of the Lion's Pride continued to fight, a clear area of open ground formed for the two challengers. Stanislaus gulped as he shifted his hands on his blade to an Eastern round grip, putting his weight on his front foot and waiting patiently. The Vampire walked forward slowly, arrogantly pointing his sword tip-down, dragging it through the mud in a casual defiance. Stanislaus would not be wooed; he knew his foe's abilities were far greater than his own.

      With a flash his foe was upon him, raining blow after to blow down with impossible speed. Stanislaus gritted his teeth and struggled to hang onto his sword as his hands grew numb, barely turning aside a dozen death blows. His knees began to ache, and as he stared into the red armored face in front of him he began to despair. He was too old, his enemy was too skilled, and death had finally caught up to him after all of these years. As he took a hurried step back he slipped and fell backwards into a puddle. The creature stepped forward, stepping down on Stanislaus' armor and pinning him there. As the vampire raised his gleaming sword for the death blow, a yell cried out from the right. Brother Martin charged forward, his warhammer shining with a divine light. It crashed down into the Vampire's parry and the devilish sword shattered. The Vampire shrieked out in dismay, clawing forward at the Prelate. The warhammer crashed down again and again, it's blinding light siphoning the deathly power from the undead aristocrat. Stanislaus took his opportunity and scrambled up, pulling his sword from the mud and gasping for air. He turned to see the fight end, rather anticlimactically in his opinion. The Vampire had tried to turn and flee, half transformed into a giant red bat, when Martin's warhammer slammed into his skull. With a sickening crunch it fell to the ground, black energies screaming out from the ruined body and spinning up into the night. Left and right skeletons began to crumble and ghouls turned bony tail and scuttled from whence they came. Martin walked over to Stanislaus with the slightest shape of a grin on his face. The Prelate was many things, but proud was not one of them. Stanislaus returned the grin and mounted his horse and rode down the line. A cheer rose up as the Empire army watched the Undead horde dissolve before them.
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • Got a game in against Dread Elves the other night and pulled out an 11-9 win. It really should have been closer to 15-5 but I had some really bad dice the last turn. Still a great game though. Here's the fluffy account of it:

      Grassy plains rolled out in all directions, as far as the eye could see. The late summer grass was brown and wilting under the hot sun as it was crushed by the feet of marching soldiers. For two days now Stanislaus had been in pursuit of the slavers, hoping to catch them before they could make it back to the Barren Coast where their ships were likely expecting them. For all of the famed trickiness of elves this group had been particularly easy to follow. Bodies of dead slaves came up every few miles and marked a bloody trail due West. Soon they would catch up and take revenge for the towns of Halfhill and Stonestreet.

      As the sun began to set Stanislaus took the report of his scouts. It seemed they were closer than expected, and Stanislaus ordered camp be made at the top of the next hill. Sure enough the raider's camp stretched out in the valley below them, hundreds of black tents surrounding picket lines on which the slaves were tied. If his men were not already exhausted from days of marching he would have stormed down the hillside then and there. And of course there was the old soldier's saying about elves: "Never fight a wood elf near a tree, never fight a highborn elf on the sea, and never fight a dread elf when you can let it be."

      "Camp here for the night, double guard." Stanislaus said quietly to his captains and watched as they rode off down the line of soldiers. He reflected on the long summer it had been and the brave men he had lost. Such sentimentality would never have afflicted young Stanislaus, nor would he have been half as sore from riding as he was now. Brother Martin gave him a knowing chuckle as the two of them dismounted and handed reigns to exhausted squires.

      The first attack came early in the morning. Dark cloaked assassins killed two guards before they were discovered and overwhelmed, but they had accomplished their goal. By waking the camp they had taken precious hours of sleep away, an investment that would surely pay off in the coming battle. No more attacks came, but some slaves did. Wailing and stumbling up the hillside they were a truly wretched scene. Brother Martin walked down to inspect them and came back with a stern frown on his face. "Speckle rot. If we let these poor wretches near our camp they will be dead within the hour, along with half of our force. You know what has to be done." And with that he shouldered grumpily past Stanislaus, the curious soldiers behind them giving him a wide berth. Although they had every right to be wary of disease they had nothing to fear, as immunity to disease was one of the many boons granted to the prelates of Sunna. Stanislaus sighed as he watched the slaves gunned down on his orders. More innocent lives lost and nothing could be done about it. Perhaps the lives they saved in the morning might in a small way make up for it.

      The elves struck with all of their might about an hour after dawn. By that point Stanislaus and his men were weary and ready, equally terrified and glad to be finally facing the dread elves whom they had hunted for what seemed like so long. There was an unspoken agreement between many of the soldiers that their would be no surrender. Better to die than be taken prisoner by those fiends.

      The Imperial Guard let out a battle cry as the black guard leapt up the hill to meet them. Grizzled veterans of a dozen battles heaved their great swords in wide arcs, cleaving through black armor and pallid flesh. However once the dread elves got inside the reach of the great swords it was a different matter. The unnatural swiftness of the centuries - old slavers was chilling to watch. Curved halberds gleamed with a sickly sheen, likely poison that would turn the smallest cut into a slow and painful death. The Imperial Guard would not last long against this superior foe, but luckily they didn't have to. The bloodlust of the elves had caused them to break formation and expose their flank, something Stanislaus was happy to point out to them.

      Stanislaus roared as he spurred Traveler into the swirling melee, his sword cleaving through helm and shoulder and neck. Behind him his Imperial Knights cut a swath through the flank of the Black Guard. The Imperial Guard took advantage of the momentary respite and pushed back, driving the dread elves down the hillside and crushing them between armored soldiers and armored knights.

      As soon as it had started the battle was over. In the distance Stanislaus could see a small retinue of dark cloaked figures galloping off, abandoning their prizes and making a break for their ships. They would escape today and their was nothing Stanislaus could do about it. His frustration grew as he turned and surveyed the hillside. Too many of the Imperial Guard had lost their lives here today, too many. The decades of experience of each man was not easily replaced either.

      As Stanislaus rode into the abandoned dread elf camp he gave an audible sigh of relief. Many of the slaves were still alive and being tended by the surgeons. His worst fear over the last few days had been to finally catch up to the elves only to find dead or dying slaves. These people would need time to recover and rebuild their lives, but at least they had that. Stanislaus could feel another wrinkle forming on his face, another memory of battle and death riding with the Lion's Pride.
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • The Battle of Marshal Pass

      Commander Stanislaus rode forward to the head of the column, curious as to what had caused the delay this time. Time was of the essence; they had to reach their allies before they were cut off by the rampaging greenskin horde. And that meant making their way through these mountains.
      As he reached the front one of his scouts rode up to meet him. "Dwarves, lord commander." He said, gesturing to the gleaming wall of iron, bronze, and beard. "Thank you sergeant. Call for a banner of truce."
      His captains assembling gave Stanislaus a few minutes to try and recall his history lessons about this area. The B'Ar-Low Clan had controlled these mountains for centuries, but were historically neutral to the Empire if not allies. What could cause them to cut off the mountain pass?
      A handful of knights bedecked with crimson and gold rode out to meet a small contingent of dwarven nobles. The two groups stopped a few paces from each other and exchanged nods. Stanislaus waited patiently, knowing that speaking first could cause offense.
      A taller than average dwarf broke the silence, which clearly meant he was in command. He introduced himself as King Dev'In of Clan B'Ar-Low as well as the other members of his retinue. He then curtly demanded that Stanislaus turn his army around and march back from whence it came.
      What followed was a diplomatic chess match. Both sides were struggling to keep their composure while at the same time appear deadly and uncompromising. In the end the negotiations failed; if Stanislaus was to march his army through Marshall Pass, he'd have to fight for it.

      For this game we played 12,000 points a side. We played on an 8x4 table rather than 6x4. Magic consisted of rolling 4d6 and giving the defender the highest 2 dice. For our secondary objective we used Hold the Ground. However instead of having a single center point we had 3, spread out evenly along the middle of the battleground.

      Turn 1
      Dwarves won first turn and re positioned slightly. Magic and shooting were for the most part uneventful.
      Empire responded with a refused flank action. The left flank surged forward, with Knights and Imperial Guard leading the charge. The center remained in a line, while the right prodded forward in hopes of charging the war machines on turn 2. Magic and shooting were both ineffective.

      Turn 2
      Again dwarves reposition, moving some warriors and a gyrocopter to block the incoming Imperial Guard and Knights respectively. Shooting was a bit better; Dwarven artillery was able to destroy and Arcane Altar and heavily damage one of the steam tanks.
      The Empire charged in, Imperial Guard into the dwarf warriors and the Knights into the giro copter. On the right flank some Knights were able to complete the charge against a bolt thrower. Magic was average, with a few buffs going off on the Imperial Guard. Shooting was average with a few wounds being done hear and there. Close combat resulted in the Dwarven Warriors breaking from combat (despite being steadfast) but escaping. The Knights destroyed the gyrocopter but fell short by 1" of overrunning into the next unit. The Knights on the right flank did several wounds to the bolt thrower but it held due to Stubborn.

      Turn 3
      The Dwarves counter charged furiously, with long beards going into the Imperial Guard and into the steam tank. On the right flank a unit of Hammerers charged into the Knights fighting the bolt thrower. Magic was average with a few runes augmenting the Dwarves. Shooting was incredibly lucky; the Wizard master on the Arcane Altar survived 2 cannons, an organ gun, several bolt throwers, and a stone thrower. His survival meant that the Imperial Guard were granted Lightning Reflexes, which caused them to easily mow down the Long Beards. Another stroke of luck was the Steam Tank surviving with a single wound remaining, protecting the flank of the Imperial Guard from an overrun. On the right flank the Hammerers made short work of the small unit of Knights.
      With ferocity the Empire continued their charge. The Knights charged into the Iron Drakes, the Imperial Guard charged up into the war machines on the hill, and the Flagellants charged into the Dwarves fighting the steam tank. Magic was one sided, with several key augments aiding the Empire. Shooting was pretty effective, both Mortars hitting and thinning the Dwarven ranks. Close combat saw the Imperial Guard destroy one war machineand overrun into the next. The steam tank finally was wrecked but the charging Flagellants were able to run down the remaining Longbeards. The breath weapon from the steam tank as well as a few magic spells had inflicted a lot of damage and swung combat.

      Turn 4
      The left flank was turning into a bloodbath. A big unit of Hammerers charged into the Flagellants while the center began to shift over and reinforce. On the right flank the other Hammerers moved up to put pressure on the Spear men, who were clearly outmatched. Magic and shooting were both ineffective, with the Dwarves still unable to kill off the Wizard. Close combat saw the Hammerers wreak havoc on the Flagellants, yet three remained and were unbreakable. The Imperial Guard killed off the next war machine and pivoted to face the flank of the Hammerers.
      More carnage on the left flank. The Imperial Guard charged into the flank of the Hammerers, while the Halberdiers made a long charge into the other flank, completing the pincer. The Knights continued their rampage and charged the unit of crossbows. On the right flank the spear men made a foolhardy charge into the Hammerers, hoping to tie them up and contest the objective on that side. Magic and shooting were both effective. Close combat saw the Flagellants die off to a man. However the halberdiers and Imperial Guard killed many Hammerers, who were only able to stay due to Bodyguard. The halberdiers reformed to face the oncoming Deepwatch. On the right the Spears were able to hold steadfast.

      Turn 5
      Deepwatch charge into the halberdiers, hoping to reclaim the left flank. Magic and shooting see the arcane engine finally killed off. In close combat the Deepwatch are able to break and run down the Halberdiers while the Imperial Guard hold on Bodyguard and continue to fight the few remaining Hammerers. On the right flank the Spearmen break from combat but are able to outrun the pursuing Hammerers.
      On the left flank the Knights move into position to challenge the Deepwatch on turn 6. The Spearmen do not rally and continue to run. Magic and shooting are less effective. In combat the Imperial Guard are able to kill off the last of the Hammerers and turn to face the Deepwatch.

      Turn 6
      The Deepwatch charge into the Reiters that were blocking them, easily killing them and overrunning onto the objective. On the right flank the Hammerers are able to chase the Spearmen off the board and capture the objective on that side. Magic and shooting are both unimportant.
      The Empire decides to risk it all and charges in. The Knights slam into the flank of the Deepwatch while the few remaining Imperial Guard and the General on Griffon charge into the rear. In the magic phase a Comet finally comes down (after 5 magic phases) and wreaks havoc on some war machines. Shooting sees the Anvil of Power sundered by a cannonball. In close combat the Deepwatch hold true to their reputation and do not budge.

      At the end of the game we measured out the objectives. Dwarves held the right hand marker, the center was unclaimed, and the left was held by the Empire (two of my scoring units to his one). When we calculated victory points it came out to a 12-8 win for the Empire. A really fun game that honestly have gone either way had a few key dice rolls been different. The Empire has taken Marshall Pass and will continue on their desperate trek to save their allies!
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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    • Last night I played against Ogre Khans. Here is the account from the eyes of Knight Commander Stanislaus:

      The cold air stung as the column tramped it's way up the snowy hillside. They had been riding through the night; the first pinpricks of sunlight were barely visible over the crest of the hill in front of them. Stanislaus, hearing the news of the raiding party of Ogres, had taken as many mounted men with him as possible and left the foot contingent behind. It was essential that his force reach the town before all was lost.

      Ogres. The thought of those massive beasts made Wilhelm's blood chill. How could so much muscle and rage be contained in a creature, let alone hundreds of these creatures? And to be able to raid and campaign even in the snowy season made these foes that much more serious. The Empire was beset by a variety of enemies,most of which at least had the decency to wait till Spring.

      As the Lion's Pride crested the hill there was a collective gasp. A few hundred feet down the slope was a mob of villagers, running to save their lives. Behind them was their once happy village, now mostly engulfed in flames. Shadows cast by the flames revealed dozens of huge shapes moving through the streets.

      "Standard! Forward!" shouted Stanislaus at his command group. "Bring a small force down to the villagers and lead them South around the base of the hill. We will take care of the raiding party." His lieutenant nodded before riding off with a dozen picked men. The villagers began to swarm around them before being led South. Drums and horns began to blow from the village; the Ogres were realizing that their prey was getting away...

      Stanislaus considered his options. If he waited on the hill he would have a commanding view of the area and would also have a tremendous physical advantage when it came time for fighting. However this left the villagers vulnerable to counter attack; Ogres were much faster than expected. "Prelate Martin - take the Knights of the Sun Griffon and the 2nd Electoral to the North. I will hold the center and support you!" The Prelate gave a quick affirmation before turning off, humming war hymns as his men rallied behind him. Now came the risky part...

      Prelate Martin, now just a speck in the distance, led his detachment with fury and skill. He rode around the Northern flank, picking off single raiders before they could rejoin the remainder of the force. Whenever a large group charged out of the ruined village, the cavalry circled back up the hill and out of the way. If Prelate Martin could keep this up it would greatly aid in the battle plan.

      A crash echoed up the hillside as a group of Ogre Mercenaries crashed into the Knights of the Sun Griffon who had been cantering down the hill. The Mercenaries had been lying in wait behind a windmill, a move of cunning which was uncommon for Ogres. Stanislaus tightened his reins and spurred forward to save them, his household knights forming up behind them.

      The mercenaries saw him coming and retreated into the village. Only about a hundred feet away, Stanislaus saw a large group of Ogres forming on the front street, huge clubs and blades towering above their heads. Stanislaus nearly sickened at the thought of what those could do if swung at a horse.

      They were too close and moving too fast. If he ordered a retreat now the Ogres would be on them before they could make it back up the hill. There was nothing for it. Hands shaking, Stanislaus drew his glimmering sword and let out a yell. Around him echoed the cries of his brothers in arms, their verbal acceptance of their impending doom. The Ogres began to brace, taking a few steps back and even taking cover within the buildings.

      At the last moment before impact a stunning light shone from the North. Stanislaus risked a glance; Prelate Martin was standing on the crest of the hill, his warhammer glowing golden above him in the rising sunlight. To Stanislaus his seemed a champion of light; to the Ogres he was a portent of their doom. As Stanislaus looked back, he saw them begin to waver. Their shaman, a scarred and disfigured hulk of a creature, growled and spit at them to get back into line.

      Lances splintered. Horses screamed. The crash of the impact felt like an earthquake as horse and steel collided into bone and leather. Ogres trapped against a wall were pinioned by several lances, while others were cut down as they fled. It was all over in a matter of seconds, but to Stanislaus it felt like a lifetime.

      Hours later Stanislaus was standing in the middle of the town square. The villagers had formed a large semicircle around him and were waiting to hear him to speak. Behind them were the smoldering ruins of the fire that had been extinguished.

      "Do not fear the enemies of the Empire! For every foe that faces you, a sword rises to defend you! For every building destroyed rises two hands to help rebuild! For every field that his burned fall three new seeds for the next harvest! Rejoice, for you are the inheritors of the world, blessed and protected by Sunna!"

      Stanislaus stepped down as the villagers cheered; he felt ashamed of this empty rhetoric. However he also knew that hope was as valuable a resource as anything to these people. Prelate Martin gave him a nod of approval as the two walked back to their camp...
      "The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living, and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry, or in high cold towers asking questions of the stars.”

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