Saturday, 2 April 2016

The Resolve of Humans: KoW Narrative Battle Report

The wind moaned through the tops of the trees and brought with it a breeze that slide through the trunks and swirled the snow on the ground. A figure stood next to a large shape at the top of a slope that looked down on a mountain glade. Off in the distance past the naturally formed glade was an another clearing in the forest, this one man made and home to a large human army. The camp was as obvious an infected wound on pale skin and the glow from campfires painted the nearby trees in an orange light. The lone figure let out a slight sigh as he observed the camp and wondered about the humans huddled around those fires. Why were they so eager to reject their natural roots and try to banish the cold? Was not it natural for the high places of this world to be cold, and was that not doubly true in times of winter? True there were few even among his own people who go bare skin in these conditions but even the most fragile among them would not seek to burn wood and branch just to fend off nature, and if there were those among them who could not survive them they died for this was way things worked in nature, the endless cycle of life, death and rebirth. But no, humans rejected all this and did all they could to survive and this thought caused the figure to turn his antlered head and spit onto the ground. At this movement the large shape raised its wedge shaped head looked the figure.

“It is nothing old friend” said the figure in a slightly deep, musical voice. “I was merely thinking on the nature of humans and those thoughts left a sour taste in my mouth”.

At this the head seemed to dip slightly in a gesture of agreement and the antlered figure gave a light laugh and said. “Come, we must discuss with the others how tomorrows battle will be fought”. With that the figure grasped hold of a jutting protrusion just behind the shape’s head and vaulted onto its neck, the shape then stretched out in full to reveal its full draconic form. With a roar the dragon leapt from the ledge glided down through the glade and over the human camp. As the sound of panicked voices rose to meet it the dragon beat its wings once, twice and was soon far past the camp and turned back the way it had come, flying in the direction of its own lines. 

Spellweaver Uldreiyn Carzana stood on a small hill near the Wood Elf camp and looked at the figure standing across from him. The Green Lady, for that was the only name she had ever given him, stood with her back to him with arms clasped at the small of her back and her gaze looking out over the camp towards the mountain glade where the battle would be fought on the morrow.  She was average height for a elf, and average in a lot of other ways as well except for the small antlers that emerged from her raven black hair on the sides of her head. If it weren’t for those then she could have been mistaken for any elf, but those antlers not only marked her out from the crowd they also her symbol of what she was. For the Green Lady was the envoy of nature itself, she was personified nature of the Wood Elves, their twin halves given flesh with one being elven and the other being of the wild.  He was startled out of his reive when she said.

“He is coming”

At once a large dark shaped passed over the hill to be followed a moment later by a slight tremor through the hill and then footsteps. Striding onto the hill and into their sight came the figure of Taegen Wynwarin, his long black hair falling in a disorganized mess down his bare back. He came to stand before the two of them and withdrew the antlered great helm from his head, holding it under his left arm as he addressed them.

“They are there, resting. I could see their camp from well across the glade and make out their sentries just back inside their treeline”

“Humans” sorted Uldreiyn in disgust “Clumsy, brutish and obvious. Tomorrow we will defeat them”

“Arrogance is the general’s bane Spellweaver” Said the Green Lady “Though they may be lesser to us in many ways they still pose a threat. If not, then how else did they come to occupy so much of the land and press on our boarders?”

“Breeding my lady” he replied “And those damm dwarves teaching them the secrets of forging”

She tilted her head slightly at this, gave a faint smile and replied “Perhaps”. Then turning back to Taegen she asked.

“Did you see Waystones?”

“I did” He replied “And for all their failings no doubt the humans have seen them as well. There will be a battle, neither side will allow the other to make off with those fragments without one”

He unsheathed his knife and squatted down. “We will favour the left flank and the central hill” He drew a quick sketch of hill and its surroundings in the snow. “Uldreiyn you will be in command of the forces near the hill, My Lady you will command our Eternal Guard units”. At their nods he went on.

“I will command the Hunt from the top of the hill. I will only commit myself, Ohan and the Hunt when battle is joined and the Human’s attention is focused on our units. The Hunt’s appearance will shatter their resolve and terrify any human units who see them in fight. After that we will have them”

He stood and brushed away his sketch with his boot. “I agree with you both”. At their quizzical looks he carried on “The humans are inferior to the Asrai in many ways but we must not underestimate them. We will win this battle but I would prefer that as many of our kin live through it as possible” At their nods he donned his helmet, the metal a perfect fit to his head and face.“Rest well, we march at first light”

At this he strode back to the waiting form of the dragon and vaulted up behind its head. Once he was seated the dragon took to the air and soon both dragon and rider were lost to the night. As he turned to go the Green Lady spoke.

“Their Resolve Spellweaver, of all the things you may doubt them on never question their resolve". As he walked down the hill he replied.

“How can they have resolve when they are dead, my Lady”

Taegen surveyed the mountain glade, bathed now in cold light morning. He could see the humans gathering now across from his own lines, rank upon rank of Pikemen supported by a mass of lightly armoured fanatics and an imposing block of Knights, lances held at the ready and waiting. Behind all this there were the multi-hued Phoenixes and the hulking forms of the Ogre captains who accompanied the humans, the former standing at ease besides the human regiments and the later gliding above the battlefield. And finally above it all flew the hosts’ leader bedecked in the red layered armour of his people and astride a great eagle. The sight if this tried anger in Taegen’s heart for the bond between the Asrai and the great eagles strong and he felt anger that such a lesser creature would dare ride one. Beneath him Ohan stirred, reacting to either the sight of human general r his master’s anger Taegen could not tell. He reached a hand down and placed it on the dragon’s head.
“Peace friend” He said in a soothing tone. “That it’s a wrong we will right shortly”

Uldreiyn motioned the last of the nearby Elves into position and glanced around to make sure thing were all in order. All around him troops settled into position, archers check their quivers and strung their bows while, In front of the hill he was positioned on, a unit of Glade Rider Calvary moved down the slope ready to launch into the valley at his command. To his left the two units of, Eternal Guard stood at the ready with the graceful form of the Green Lady hovering between the units. To his right on the highest point of the hill Taegen sat astride Ohan, the beast’s dark green scales glinting in the morning light. Down to Taegen’s right were the ghostly forms of Stags and Wolves, seemingly made of nothing more the green mist, these were spirits of the Wild Hunt, bound to Taegen’s will as a sign of Kurnous’s blessing. Of all the units that comprised this host it was these ethereal forms that most unnerved Uldreiyn, as a mage he could see more than even the average Elf’s eye and what he saw swirling around and inside these animals chilled him to the bone. all the hate and rage of the world of at the desecration and destruction of nature given form. There was not a thing is this world that would ever convince him to stand in the way of such a force and a grim smile stole across his features, they were just what the humans deserved. 

Taegen closed his eyes behind his helmet and felt the battle lust building with him. Eyes still closed he began to beat his sword against his shield in a steady rhythm. Ohan began to beat his tail against the ground in time with him and soon his entire host took it up. Over the sounds of this rhythm Teagen gave voice to his people’s war chant in a tone that cut clear over the valley, his kin taking it up with him.

"We are the Bow, we are the Arrow, we are heralds of Isha's sorrow"
"We are the Spear, we are the Blade, we are the guardians of Lileath's glade"
"We are Vengeance, we are the Fury, we are Kurnous's wrath to which all must yield"

As if provoked by this the humans lurched forward into the valley, heading for the three Waystone fragments. Upon seeing this the chant and accompanying beat ended suddenly and Uldreiyn signalled his units forward. He observed from the hill as Glade Rider units advanced to meet the humans, the Green Lady gesturing her Eternal Guard units forward alongside the Calvary. Even as their mounts surged forward the riders atop them unleashed a perfectly co-ordinated volley at the nearest human unit and a heartbeat later many in the front ranks fell with arrows protruding from throat, eye or any other exposed, vital location.  Smiling Uldreiyn drew upon the winds of magic and, in a low deep voice, chanted the words to a spell. While he was doing this the nearby archer unit nocked arrows, then the instant he finished the spell the released a volley of magical enhanced arrows at the human lines, the arrow tips aflame with magical fire. This volley too found targets among the humans and the cries of the wounded and the dying once more filled the valley air. Such was the fate of all those who oppose the Asrai, he thought as the archers readied another volley. 

Taegen watched as the human knights provided cover for the Ogre Captain who had taken one of the three Waystone Fragments. This development did not concern him, their capture of the fragment was only temporary and besides the confidence boost gained by the capture of the fragment could lead them into making mistakes. So let the humans think they have the upper hand, he mused to himself as a volley of arrows struck the human lines, in truth their victory would avail them nothing.  He felt the spectres of the hunt stir, eager as they were for the blood of despoilers, and closed his eyes. When he opened them he saw through their eyes, not one in particular but through all their eyes just as he heard through their ears and felt through their skin, such a bond with the forces of the Hunt was a great gift and one that was a joy to experience as well as being a powerful boon in battle. He saw as a human unit charge past the curved edge of the hill into an Eternal Guard, to focused on the elves to see the ethereal figures partially hidden behind the hills curve. He smiled grimly and unleashed the them and with a feral, bestial roar the Hunt surged forwards. The Humans didn't even have time to scream as the hooves, antlers and fangs ripped into their backs. Armed as they were with long pikes and arrayed into ranks they were unable to even turn to face this new foe and so many died without even seeing their end, these were the lucky ones as any who were able to turn would have been greeted by scenes of bloody slaughter right before an ethereal hoof smashed them into the bloody earth. Within  mere seconds it was over, the humans reduced to nothing  more than bloody pulp.  Leaving them with orders to assist the Eternal Guard Taegen withdrew, unsheathed his blade and said to Ohan.

"Its time old friend". Mere seconds later Ohan unfurled his wings and swept down onto the battle below

She felt the visceral impact of the Wild Hunt slamming into the human lines, she could feel the snap and crack of bones, the sensation of blood on fur but above she could feel their satisfaction. With effort she pushed it all the corner of her mind and concentrated on the battle before her, her connection the hunt was much stronger than Taegen and so she simply couldn’t shut it off. She had been given command of the Host's Eternal Guard units and so could not afford to be distracted, seeing as it was these units that bore the brunt of the human’s charge. However, despite their charge and initial success in forcing the Elves back a few steps she could see the human's begin to waver, one unit was nothing more than mangled corpses thanks to the Wild Hunt while another was slowly but steadily being worn down by the other Eternal Guard unit and the remaining human elements were either bogged down in the small clumps of trees that dotted the valley or too far away to be of real help.  As she bent down to heal an elf who hand been struck across the face by a spear tip a shadow passed overhead and she turned to see one of the Phoenixes, a Waystone Fragment clutched in its talons, land behind her. She positioned herself between the wounded elf and the creature and was preparing her defences when a ball of ice blue fire struck the Phoenix in its side and both she and the bird turned to see Uldreiyn standing base of the hill’s slope  with more magic already dancing around his fingers.  The Phoenix gave a shrill cry and sent a bolt of flame from its beak towards the elf mage, who blocked it with a barrier of the same blue fire. As members of the Eternal  Guard formed a protective wall around she got back to the task of hearing the elf, confident that at the least the Phoenix would be too busy to pay her much attention. 

Uldreiyn barely flinched when the bolt of flame struck his shield and he quickly dismissed it to make way for his counter attack. All around him the battle raged on but he didn’t notice it, all he saw was the Phoenix. His contempt for humans was well known but he did respect the multi-hued creatures and knew that, if the humans were going to win then it would be due to these creatures.  He summoned power in his left hand and with his right he took a portion of it then threw that arm out, hand extended. The power flew form his out stretched hand in constant stream that struck the Phoenix casing it fall back across the snowy ground. Just as he was feeling the strain of maintaining the spell for too long he cut the flow of power and the streamed abruptly vanished. Across from him the Phoenix’s left wing was badly damaged and although the wound was not fatal it was clearly in pain. In spite of that it was readying its next attack and so Uldreiyn began to shape his power into a barrier to protect him, this wouldn’t go on for much long, this last attack then he would finish the creature and retrieve the fragment.

Taegen wheeled Ohan around to face the rear of the enemy unit he had landed behind. Without any need for a command Ohan surged forward into the rear of the humans, who had been too preoccupied with the Eternal Guard in front of them to notice the threat from behind. Dragon and elf each took a dreadful toll on the unit as the former bit and tore through the flesh and armour of the foe while the later delivered fast deadly strikes with his blade. Within minutes the enemy laid scattered before him and the Eternal Guard unit wheeled to face where Uldreiyn and the Phoenix, now joined by a second just as the first grew ready to attack the mage, duelled. He was about to send Ohan forward into the Phoenixes when he felt a jolt of utter surprise from the Wild Hunt, so strong was this jolt that it forced open his connection with the spectres and he saw through their eyes as a lone unit of Human Pikemen, a unit that was battered bloody, a unit that had lost at least half of its staring numbers, hold before the assault of the Hunt. But these humans were not yet done and with a growing sense of astonishment tinged with fear Taegen watched as with a ragged roar the humans charged back into battle with the Hunt, saw as they fell amongst them with short stabbing swords, saw as their comrades who still held pikes jabbed the tall forms of the ethereal stags and wolves now seeming more real and vulnerable than ever before, and with a building scream he saw the Hunt fall beneath human blades and felt the fear of hunter turned hunted as the last of them were cut down by blood splatted humans. As the last of the spectres was cut down by multiple pike thrust and slashes Taegen convulsed violently, feeling the pain, fear and finally death of these once proud aspects of nature wrath. As the humans cheered from across the glade he released the scream, it was a ragged, feral animal thing that echoed across the battlefield, a sound for which the human’s cheering only seemed to mock it.

Uldreiyn was mere seconds from raising his barrier when he staggered forward as if struck from behind. Although it had was Taegen who had been linked to the Hunt that didn't stop Uldreiyn, a powerful spellweaver among the Asrai and one connected to the Hunt through that power, from feeling the death of the hunt. Although his reaction to it was nowhere near Taegen’s he still distracted him for the seconds he should have spent raising his barrier. Instead there was nothing to stop the twin bolts for flame that slammed into him and he was slammed, burning and broken into the slope of the hill.  He lay there, skin blistering, hair melting, his body broken and spent as the Phoenixes readied to finish him off. And yet he didn’t see any of this, he didn’t see the sheets of fire descending to reduce him to ashes, instead all he could see was those dam humans, standing defiant and unbowed before the hunt refusing to submit and to surrender their lives. And the last though that passed through his mind before their died was.

“How could they, they were only humans……”

She woke to find herself staring through a red film into the sky above and a lacing pain traveling from the base of her skull to the tail end of her spine. Figures loomed over with alternating expressions of alarm and concern clouding their faces. She wiped at her eyes with her hand and it came away red and stick with blood, slowly she sat up.

“W-w-what happened?” She asked in a shaky voice. 

“You do not know my Lady?asked one of the figures now revealed to be a member of the Eternal Guard unit she had been commanding. “You simply screamed, fell over and started bleeding from your eyes, nose, mouth and ears”. As he was talking another elf handed her his water flask and she took it gratefully and drank from it, she spat to test the other elf’s claim and saw her spit was tinged red. She climbed to her feet with help from other members of the unit.

“Where is your Lord, where is Taegen?”

The elf who had first spoken turned and pointed in the direction of the huge shape of Ohan. “Atop his mounts back my lady but I doubt you will find him in better condition, the noise he made when the Hunt’s aspects were destroyed, well no sane mortal should ever make such a sound”.

It all came back to her then. The battle, the Humans who simply refused to fall before the Hunt’s fury and the destruction of the spectres. With Taegen assumed to be worse off than she was command of the army fell to her and she quickly began issuing orders.

“Bring the unit around to face the place where the Hunt was banished, order them to brace for a charge. Signal the archers to continue to fire and see if we can advance to draw level with Ohan, we must trust that he can guard Taegen  until we arrive .”

As the Guard jumped to her orders she saw for the lay of the battlefield. A large horde of knights occupied the small wood were the Hunt and fallen, their destroyers had taken the Fragment in the woods and were even now departing the battle their retreat covered by the Knights. Of the Elves their still remained the archers on the central hill, her Eternal Guard unit and Ohan. She was startled as the forms of two Phoenixes soared over head, one had another of the Fragment’s clutched in its talons. As her gaze followed them her eyes were drawn to another winged former as the Human general, perhaps seeing Taegen vulnerable, charged his mount into battle with Ohan, who roared defiantly and rose to meet the challenge. As the battle began she prayed to the twin gods who she was aspected to, Kurnous and Isha, that the Dragon would be able to keep Taegen safe until her units arrived.

Ohan was, in truth, not an old dragon. He had only lived about two hundred years which put him at about the same age as his now unconscious friend, Taegen. Though he was careful to hide it from the elf, whose pride would never allow such a thing, he very protective towards him, as if it was the dragons responsibility to be the elf’s friend and keep him safe. And what was the reason for this sense guardianship? Why he was a dragon, strong, robust and mighty where as Taegen was an elf whom, for all their positive traits was still small, fragile and easily broken. So it had been when his friend had fallen unconscious after issuing that horrifying scream Ohan had lowed his neck and allowed the elf’s prone form to simply side from his neck onto the ground so that the height of that fall would not damage him. This also meant that when, not long after all this, the human general and his great eagle mount had charged towards him aiming to slay his friend that Ohan was able to rise and meet them both without fear of Taegen being crushed in the ensuing melee. Ohan had met that charge with his own, smashing his scaled shoulder into the eagles own and causing the beast to land in a unsteady heap. As he descended the human general climbed out on front of his mount, and drawing his sword, charged towards where Ohan would land. Ohan met this display of insane courage head on, landing and charging the human who ducked under the swipe of his fore claws to lance his blade deep into the flesh just below the dragon’s breastbone.  Rearing up in pain Ohan tried to crush to the human but the he was too quick, having already retreated back to his mount, now recovered from Ohan’s charge, and vaulted onto the eagles back. At that moment a flight of arrows from the elf archers on the central hill showered down on the human and his mount, who both took to the sky from where the human withdrew a horn and blew it once, twice, three times. Movement caused Ohan to look away and he saw the rest of the human army disengage and leave the field of battle, the elf host too spent to pursue. At the moment a pained sounds escaped from Taegen’s helmet and Ohan moved over towards him, reaching his head down towards he was able to hear the question, asked in a pained whisper.

“What is happening. Is the battle over?”

Responding mentally over the bond they shared the dragon replied.

“My friend, we have lost”

 The Green lady, supported by one of her Eternal guard limped over to Taegen’s side, who was already been given water by another of the Guard. His helmet was off and narrow face looked drawn and pained, his stark blue eyes contrasting even more so against his usually pale skin, he saw her approach as said in a tried voice. “They have won, they secured all three fragments and left”

She replied in an equally tired tone.

“They weren’t much better off than we were in the end, fighting us after claiming what they came here for would have made no sense”

He nodded at this, seemingly satisfied with her answer the said.

“They banished the Hunt, it lost us the battle. There should have been no way for them, mere humans, to withstand the fury of the wild but they did and not only that they then went onto the wipe them out”. At this he gave her an exasperated look, followed by the question 


She was silent for a long time before responding.

“Both you and Uldreiyn disregarded  them long before this battle began, you saw them as no threat and thought that would fall before us as dead leaves to a strong wind. You saw all that they held in their heats, hands, minds and sprits as weak, inferior to what we ourselves possessed”

She turned then to gaze at the place where the stand had taken place, that small copse of words where a battle had been decided.

“Uldreiyn Is dead and so you must learn this lesson not just for you and your host but for all of our kind so that we don’t go on underestimating them. We can laugh at their weapons, their armour and their tactics. We can scoff and mock their culture, cites and ways living but the one thing we must never mock, disregard or doubt is their resolve”. She turned back to him and locked eyes with his own.

“It was resolve that straightened their backs, quelled their fear and set their minds. It was resolve that fuelled their charge, their desperate blocks and wild swings. The instant they had found their resolved to defy the hunt, to live past this battle and to see their loved ones again we lost this battle”. As she had been speaking her voice had risen and drawn in the survivors of Taegen ’s host until all had come, gathered in circle around her and Taegen.Taking a deep breath, she carried on.

“Never again, Lord Taegen blood bother to Ohan, blessed of Kurnous, vanquisher of the undead and ward of western mountain glades shall we doubt the resolve of humans.”

The Story continues here

And there we have it, another Narrative battle report finished, I hope you enjoyed the report. This report will also feature in a upcoming issue pf the Golden D6, i online hobby magazine that i regularly contribute to. If you are interested in The Golden D6 you can follow this link or follow the one on the side bar located below the Google Plus Badge.

In terms of upcoming reports i have 2 in the works, one a experimental report that aims to tell the tale of a battle in the Warhammer 40k setting from the perspective of the Necrons and the other will be a standard WHFB Narrative battle report. Until next time,

1 comment:

  1. Love the narrative reports and good to see you back blogging. Looking forward to more on kow. Between you, fields of blood and hoodling I now have my regular fixes in place