Asrael passed the arrow from hand to hand, admiring its weight and balance. He glanced around his band of warriors. They were all much like this arrow; finely crafted weapons, each a product of many years of training and honing. They were to be the Talon of Kurnous, a strike to the heart of the invading enemy. The spirits of the forest had been blasted, burned and scattered by the vile weapons of the humans. They possessed no finesse, being merely a blunt instrument. However, what they lacked in refinement they made up for in numbers.
He contemplated the action to come. Where the humans were bloated, the Talon would be lithe. Where the humans were noise, they would be stealth. Where the humans sought to build, they would destroy.
Asrael replaced the arrow carefully in his quiver; each arrow was unique and precisely arranged, ensuring his hand could find the best one for each shot without even a glance. He rose, slipping the quiver over his shoulder and securing it across his chest. Raptor, his beloved bow found its way to his hand unconsciously and he tapped the pommel of H’asuji, reassuring himself that when the time came it would sing the death song of his enemies. His comrades were standing with him; no clumsy guttural orders needed. They were a force of nature, a part of Laurelorn, a part of each other. Nature is unstoppable and consumes all sign of domesticity. The Talon of Kurnous is unstoppable and was about to do its part in eradicating the defilers.
In the last game the Middenheim and Ulric forces managed to seize the derelict Shrine of the Ranging Wolf against resistance from forest spirits. Last night Stiúbhart and I play a 150 Renown game of Open Combat using the basic scenario of the same name. This game represents a covert and stealthy group of Wood Elves seeking to disrupt the forces of Ulric as they attempt to reconstitute a shrine to their god. Here are the respective warbands:
The Empire troops took a conservative approach to this game, the Handgunners staying back and taking shots at range, while the other troops sought to protect the boundaries of the shrine. Shots struck Venlar, one of the Waywatchers, forcing him to take cover.
The Wood Elves advanced, the Waywatchers getting into range and starting to loose some shots. One of the Greatswordsmen (Johann Schmidt) pushed towards them, but received some sustained attention from the enemy arrows and was felled.
The Wardancers were now beginning to flank the embattled Empire forces and Handgunners on both sides were charged by them. Kastor Bauer proved to be a steadfast bulwark and not only repelled a Wardancer, but took him out. His comrade, Holger von Nuln, wasn’t so lucky and was cut down by the Elven blades.
Asrayl had only been using Raptor, his beloved bow, until now, but it was time to draw H’asuji and he charged towards Kastor Bauer. Gunther Reizberg moved rapidly to intercept the Dryad and Wardancer pushing around the shrine. As he moved towards them two arrows thudded into his back, slamming him against the crumbling walls.
Gunther persevered and felled the Dryad, but another arrow, this time from Venlar who was injured earlier in the battle, struck home and took down the venerable warrior priest of Ulric.
A confused shout to fall back went out around the shrine. The enemy were still in their midst, but the mist was obscuring everything. “Help me to recover Gunther,” whispered Faustmann causing Kastor to jump and nearly strike him. They were all on edge. Fighting the Eonir was like fighting shadows. “Gunther? What happened?”, he responded, but Faustmann did respond, just leading the way with his spear at the ready. The muted sounds of fighting continued as they stepped of the shrine, leaving the glow of the flame behind. Gunther was a few short steps away, lying face down, two arrows protruding from the heavy wolf pelt he wore. Kastor could see the large man’s back rise and fall in shuddering breaths. “You drag him and I’ll cover us. We need to get him away from here.”, Faustmann instructed Kastor. He didn’t argue and began to haul the priest along the ground, the spearman at their side sweeping his weapon left to right.
The Elven attack melted back into the forest, but the Empire troops were slow to return to the shrine. Gunther’s injury and the unnatural mist were considered ill-omens. Morale was low and if a senior officer had suggested returning to Middenheim there would have been few objectors. That all changed when they extended their perimeter and reoccupied the shine. Uproar followed and agitated voices could be heard throughout the encampment. Kastor looked up from cleaning his gun. Faustmann came running over to him. “Filthy soulless monsters they are!”, he almost spat, his features flush with anger.
“What? What did they do?”.
“They only went and scribbled their unnatural writings all over the plinth. The flame, the holy flame, is weakened by it.”
Kastor could feel his own anger rising. First they injured the priest and now they’ve done this. He was amazed how his thoughts had turned so quickly from returning home to exacting revenge. The vile tree dwellers would pay for this…
Big thanks to Stiúbhart for joining on Zoom again to play this game. Time to play some Dragon Rampant next!
Until next time,