Friday, December 3, 2010

Mountains of Mourning (Round Nine - B'trark Gorehorns (MD) verses the Hunters (HM))

"Mountains of Mourning"

B'trark Gorehorns / Beastmen Raiders with Mark of Onogal / Scion of Chaos verses the Hunters / Reiklander Mercenaries / Celestial Protectorate

Weather: Hail for 3 turns
Perilous Phenomena: Tempest, Thunder and lightning, Gale

Manhunt (Mountains of Mourne)

Tall stories of monstrous beasts roaming the lands had become the talk in the taverns and meeting places of the city. Merchants plying the western routes had claimed to have seen hulking outlines against the fading sun. Still others claimed to be survivors of attacks by these beasts. Usually the sightings were when light was dim, or when the weather was bad and identification was difficult, but the location was undisputed: a small mountain pass roughly five days journey west of the city.

Captain Ivan cursed the storm as he ushered his men forward. The noise made communication difficult, forcing them to use hand signals. He and his men had traveled five days in perfect weather, only to be beset by hail as they began to close in on their quarry. A hand-picked group, Ivan had led them in search of this beast of the tales, hoping to clear the route for future trade and travel. Ivan signaled his men to stop, as a dark mass loomed ahead – two mountain peaks separated by a wide pass. The men stood for a while surveying the scene searching for signs of their quarry, but were soon cursing the weather again as thunder boomed and echoed through the pass, and wind picked up in flurries and gusts, soon turning into a full-blown gale – perfect for sending their bolts and arrows off-course.

Bragor calmly surveyed the scene in front of him. He had led his raiding party out of the north hoping for richer pickings among the caravan trails of the Mountains of Mourne.
Following the caravan trails had so far proved fruitful. Morale was high after the recent victory over the magic-wielding Order, and his followers were eager to again douse their weapons in blood. A battle was soon in coming as a hulking shadow loomed on the trail ahead. Bragor spoke sharply to some of the more eager Gors as they began moving forward to meet the newcomer. With sullen looks they moved back and took up positions, awaiting the chance to send another creature into the waiting arms of Onogal.
Bragor laughed as the melee began. Sitatunga the fool had moved in front of his comrades, obviously eager to prove himself. Well he had soon learnt his lesson, being beaten to the ground and trampled by the beast. He ordered his followers forward into battle, and with a rumbling roar charged the monster himself. Markhor the shaman, forgoing use of his spells charged alongside, slicing open the creature’s sides with a flurry of well-aimed blows.
The massed charge and sharp steel quickly discouraged the creature, a strange mix of scales and ugly. Once, twice, three times they attacked, and each time the beast was driven back until it fled blindly into the swirling currents of a fast-flowing river.. Bragor watched amused as the hulking creature struggled to keep its footing, eventually being swept downstream, its bellows matched by the rough laugh of the gorehorns. Albrath the centigor gave a stamp, displeased at being unable to bury his blade into such a worthy foe. He hadn't managed to spill any blood since downing some measly hobgoblins, and his nostrils flared as he recalled his recent encounter with The Order where he was knocked to the ground by those annoying spells and crossbows – only blood was going to fix that dent in his pride.
Bragor’s laugh died in his throat as he turned to the centigor and saw him suddenly stagger and fall, a crossbow bolt quivering from his body. A hero amongst his followers and veteran of many battles, Albrath was fearsome as a foe and an inspirational figure leading a charge into battle. The sight of their hero felled by a cowardly bolt turned the gorehorns' amusement to anger in a flash, and they moved as one into the forest south of the pass, eager to take their revenge.

Ivan looked up sharply as a bellowing roar echoed through the pass ahead of them. Swiftly moving forward and taking cover at the entrance to the pass he spotted a massed melee taking place. He identified a Dragon Ogre, obviously the monster of the tales, engaged with what appeared to be a party of beastmen. Ivan had heard stories of these mutants – strange, human-like abominations twisted by the dark gods. Taking advantage of the distracted foes he ordered his crossbowmen to fire into the melee. Ivan smiled as he heard the bolts whistle overhead and the resultant cry as a bolt struck true.
Seeing the twisted horse go down Ivan looked around for the shooter and made his approval known. The marksman, Alan hurried over and tried to make himself heard over the gale that was now blowing. “They’ve headed round the mountain sir, must be tryin’ to come at us from the forest to the south”. Ivan nodded and quietly directed his marksmen, trying to set up a killing zone for when the beastmen left the cover of the forest.
A sudden clatter of rocks and a yell brought Ivan’s attention. Seeing one of his marksmen, Much laying face-down below a small ridge his first impulse was to berate the clumsy fool, thinking he had tripped and fallen. On seeing the man lying still he motioned Scarlet, another marksman to check on him. Scarlet moved over to the still figure, reached down and slapped the fallen man. Looking across at his leader he slowly shook his head. Cursing the loss of a man before the fight had even started Ivan moved off to check the defensive line.
Looking around to see all was set, Ivan noticed a hulking figure moving toward them through the mountain pass. Dragon Ogre! He yelled to Scarlet to move out of the way and called his remaining marksmen into line before reaching for his bow. Whether it was another Dragon Ogre, or the same one they had seen earlier, Ivan could not tell as he called for a volley. Multiple volleys of crossbow bolts and arrows struck the creature, doing nothing but angering it as it gave a bellow and charged at Scarlet, who was caught in the middle of the pass. Showing no sign of fear Scarlet raised his crossbow and loosed a bolt. Now truly enraged, the creature roared a challenge as it bore down on the puny human, its massive axe tearing through Scarlet’s hurried defense and leaving him crumpled on the side of the pass. With shields up, the Youngbloods set themselves to meet the beast, but the still charging Ogre sent them both sprawling back into the rubble beside the trail. Desperately hoping to save his young troops, Ivan led a charge toward the beast and with Mace at his side slashed the creature in its unprotected flank. Howling in pain, the beast broke off the combat and moved behind a ridge. Panting, Ivan let the beast go, they needed to regroup before the beastmen returned.

Lightning flashed overhead and the howling winds continued as the Gorehorns moved quickly through thick forest. After crossing the river Bragor decided to split the party, leaving Xebi to lead a group of Gors while he moved ahead with Markhor, Sitatunga and a single Gor to pressure the humans. While crossing a small clearing however Xebi was spotted by a filthy human, and promptly received a bolt through his leg, causing him to stumble and fall. Eager for battle the Gors moved on ahead, leaving him to stumble along as best he could.
Hearing the humans’ battle with the Dragon Ogre, Bragor moved his small group behind a ridge south of the humans’ position, waiting for his remaining forces to gather for a combined strike. Bragor watched as a pair of Gors, Xyro and Dalen, blundered out of the forest nearby, charging straight for a pair of humans carrying shields. A cry went up from the humans, and arrows whistled towards the them, all seeming to fly wide of the running Gors. Charging headlong into the fray, Xyro and Dalen tried in vain to get past the shields of the humans, but each stroke was blocked by the defenders. The archers charged to the assistance of the shield-bearers and Xyro and Dalen were quickly surrounded and cut down.
Regrouping, the archers moved away from the shield-bearers, and on catching sight of Bragor’s small party, loosed another ineffectual volley in their direction. Bragor sneered at their feeble weapons and ordered Sitatunga to engage them. “Your chance for glory son” he said to the Ungor, his contempt barley concealed. Sitatunga immediately charged the nearest archer, ignoring the drawn sword and plunging his goat-like head into the human’s stomach, knocking him to the ground. At that moment the remaining Gors, sneaking up behind another ridge, spied the shield-bearers partially concealed on the other side of the outcropping. Wasting no time they charged at the presented shields, backing the humans against the rock face. Bragor smiled, they had the humans right where he wanted them.

Ivan brought the bowstring to his ear and released another arrow at the hulking Bestigor behind the ridge (Markhor). He saw his arrow glace off the beast’s armor as it charged toward Mace, striking him down as he lay helpless from the runt’s charge. Looking around, he saw more beastmen moving toward them and despaired as the battle was lost. He called his men to retreat, the youngbloods breaking out from the beastmen surrounding them, killing a heavily armored Gor (Kudu) as they forced their way through. The beastmen did not seem set on following, their bloodlust slaked for the moment. Ivan watched his men move away through the forest, despondent at the loss of men and vowing to return. He took a last look at the battlefield, then to the sky. At least the weather had cleared…

Albrath woke with a sharp pain on his forehead. Blinking quickly to clear his bleary eyes he came to his feet and found himself in a cage. He tried to push against the door, his hooves biting deep into the soggy soil as he grunted with effort, but the door would not budge. Angered he cast about for a means of escape when he noticed a human stirring in the next cell. This measly piece of flesh and bone had better not have been the marksman who took him down, he thought to himself, his anger increasing at yet another embarrassment. Stewing in thoughts of revenge, Albrath noted a gathering forming in a circle nearby, with a heavy-set warrior dressed in ornate armor at its centre. Soon a guard came over to the cells, shaking the human fully awake before dragging him to the edge of the circle. Albrath watched with interest as they gave the human a mace and dagger, obviously the weapons he had been captured with. The buzz of the crowd quickly became a rowdy cacophony of shouts, jeers, and chants, as bets were quickly placed, ale was quickly consumed, people jostled each other for a better view and rotten food was thrown at the quivering human. The human, introduced to the crowd as Scarlet was then roughly pushed in to the circle, and was shown cold steel as he turned around to look for a way out.
Reluctantly, Scarlet moved to attack the still immobile warrior in his deep red chaos armour. His feeble strike was contemptuously brushed aside and the warrior’s heavy blade swept down on him, felling him where he stood. Kicking the still form the warrior returned to the centre of the ring, eager for his next opponent.

The guard now moved toward Albrath’s cage, and Albrath burst forth as soon as the door was opened. Sweeping up his weapons he charged the warrior of chaos, his anger and frustration released in the thrill of battle – this is what he was born for. Each strike glanced off the warrior’s heavy armor, each killing blow blocked by a well-timed parry. Albrath’s fury began to fade as the fight dragged on, the warriors circling each other, waiting for the other to make a mistake. The crowd, becoming caught up in the furious display, cheered when a blow was struck, baying for blood to be spilled. They roared as a repeated series of blows from Albrath's sword bit deep into the warrior’s heavy armor, bringing him down. Nostrils flaring, crowd braying, blood staining the sand, Albrath let out a roar of victory, bathing in the glory and leaving his defeats far behind him. Lifting his sword in victory, Albrath felt his blood begin to burn, as blessings of Onogal rained down on him in his glory. His muscular form then began to expand, as if all the ale he had consumed in the last week (and that was a lot) had been retained in his not flabby folds, and his tough skin became thicker and rougher. The guards were approaching warily, with intent to send the new champion back to his cage, but Albrath had tasted blood, had tasted glory, had tasted the blessings of his god and he was now near indestructible. The crowd's cheers soon became screams, as Albrath turned on anyone within reach. He was not as fast as he once was, but any wounds against him seemed to just bounce off his rubbery folds of flab. As the crowd began to thin, the villagers began to prepare an organised defense. Albrath, though he welcomed the challenge, felt the call of his god to return to Bragor and his brothers in blood.
Scarlet woke up to a sharp pecking at his shoulder, the sound of buzzing flies and the caws of crows, and the stench of loosened bowels. He quickly shooed away the hungry crow that was pecking at one of his wounds, but winced and groaned as he came close to blacking out again. Gingerly, he sat up and removed the body that was half-sprawled across him. Realising he had been stripped of his possessions except his bloody clothes, Scarlet crawled out of the ditch of bodies, knowing that he now faced the dangers of infection, starvation, and being alone and unarmed in a hostile environment. He had hope, however, and in the end, hope led him home.

The B'trark Gorehorns victory allowed them to find 4 treasures and received 3 campaign points.
The Hunters received 5 Treasures and received 1 campaign point.

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