Thursday, 29 July 2021

Animosity III, The Prime Dominion - Part 6

The Eye of the Storm

"Is this who we are fighting with?" sparks flew in all directions as Aef-Grimnir literally fumed with rage. "That filthy green scum!"
The string of curses that followed hit Lady Laelanyel like a blast of hot desert wind. Clearly, rumours of the Cleavermaw's involvement in the attack on the Aurannar convoy, minor as it had been, had reached the Runefather. With predictable effects.
The Mistweaver sighed under her shadesteel mask and turned to the duardin.
"I understand your indignation, Runefather. And I cannot say I agreed with the choice to make contact with the Cleavermaw". Neither had she disagreed, but Aef-Grimnir needed not to know that, she thought with a smirk.
"But there have been other choices that worry me more. You know what I'm talking about..."
"That's trivial!", more sparks flew around the couple. "I care not who we fight for, only who we fight with! And that we are paid at battle's end! We have not been, even though the bloody ship went down!"
"And what would you us do? Leave the Dornayar and make our way through a bloody civil war and out of the Prime Dominion alone?"
"Empty ended? Never!"
"Then let me suggest we keep to our unsolvent employer. Orders are to rescue the Eye of Noctis and those defending it. And so it happens that they are sitting ducks outside a vault full of gold... and more".
"Are you suggesting..."
"Well, in the heat of battle, who can tell where we have been?"

***

Hisses and cries stirred the shadows. Corraling the Umbral Slitherling had been hard, but not overwhelming. The Shadowkin had readied themselves as the Caengan mining upwards announced they were about to breach to the surface.
Then, Fhelthon Metheara had struck, his magic breaking Laelanyel's bonds on the Slitherling and his pike-armed mercenaries driving it into a frenzy. It had rampaged through both warbands and scattered them across the tunnels.
As the beast halted for a moment, Lady Laelanyel hoped things were going better for the Ancient One, Nilmorn, Mappenborough and their columns of wyrms. If they did not make it to the surface, it would have been hard for the Shadoflames to reach the vault's entrance. Though, for the moment, there were more pressing issues to deal with.



The Mistweaver stepped lightly into the tunnel, calling the shadowflames to her side. Only Tark and Narlek answered her call, emerging from the darkness at her sides.


"You humiliated me, Ulguanite!" Fhelthon voice echoed through the tunnel. "Show yourself and face my vengeance!"
Behind him, mercenaries of the Gilded Hand rallied and formed up ranks.


The Umbral Slitherling hissed and darted for Tark, slamming him against the tunnel walls.


Narlek harnessed the shadows around them and together with Lady Laelanyel advanced, arrows and bolts of darkness raining upon Fhelthon. Tark rolled away from the Slitherling, lobbing a throwing axe at the Loreseeker.


Still, Fhelthon came forward, sheer hatred in his eyes, slashing past Narlek to strike at the Mistweaver. Behind him, the human mercenaries advanced under crossbolt fire.


More fighters rallied from the Slitherling's earlier rampage and came rushing in from the side entrances to the tunnel.


With relentless zeal, Aef-Grimnir rushed towards the Umbral Slitherling. With the skill earned over years of Magmadroth hunts he struk at the beast, not to kill, but to cow and subdue.


Narlek moved away to intercept the incoming mercenaries as coils of shadow lashed from Lady Laelanyel's staff.
With increadible speed, Fhelthon dodged the grasping tendrils and his long sword came down in a furry of blows.


"That's were you belong, Ulguan witch!" he growled through teeth grinded in despise as the Mistweaver fell under his blows.
"The Lux Umbra will be your tomb and my honour restored. Now, prepare to die, knowing that no god will hear your prayers!" As his blade came down, Lady Laelanyel closed her eyes. In her ears, a roar and a female voice lingered like mist over the Ulguan planes.

Animosity III, The Prime Dominion - Part 5

Umbral Slitherling & The Redhand Guard

Among the creatures lurking in the Lux Umbra, the wyrms the Iscarneth call Malavoi an’Arhain, or Umbral Slitherlings as their mercenaries nicknamed them, are particularly feared. Their venom, spat from the distance, can paralyse creatures twice their size in seconds, leaving them exposed to the wyrm’s vicious claws and needle-sharp teeth. It was after one of these creatures that the Shadowflames went, confident they could goad it into attacking the Aurannar encircling the Golden Eagle wreck.


I had the old Citadel Cave Dragon on a square base, gathering dust on a shelf. As the Dornayar rivalry with the Aurannar is escalating, unleashing it upon the mercenaries of the Satrapy of Plenty seemed a good idea. Rulewise, the Warcry card for the Cockatrice is perfect to represent a small but vicious monster, so that aspect was sorted. What was needed was a new base and some touching up of damaged paint.


I carefully removed the Cave Dragon from its square base preserving the rock I had sculpted for it. Once placed on a 60mm round base (the official one for the Cockatrice), there was too much empty space on it, even after gluing the skeleton from the previous base. So, I clipped a few bits of sprue, scored them to look like crystals and glued them in a clutch. A sprinkle of slate chips around them and a coat of Astrogranite Debris completed the base. I then painted the crystals in the same colours I've used for the texture on the tunnel walls, followed by a White Scar edge highlight and a layer of Ardcoat.


The nostalgia trip didn't stop with the Cave Dragon. To fulfil our diplomatic obligations with the Idrelec players, we have committed to paint a few models in their red uniforms. I had a trio of unpainted metal Naggaroth Black Guards, one of those teenage irrational purchases that end up creating the base of every hobbyist's pile of shame. So, here they are, the Redhand Guard.

Friday, 23 July 2021

Animosity III, The Prime Dominion, Part 4

Flight of the Golden Eagle

Silence had fallen upon the Dornayar war council as they considered their plan to recover the Eye of Noctis.
Skoi and Vorsh of the Peakgrabber Stomp were to spearhead the attack on the skydocks where the Aurannar were assembling their convoy. The gargants' objective was to force an unprepared departure, so that the convoy would be vulnerable.
That was the simple part. What should have followed, however, was far trickier to pull out.
Ashavohlk's White Host were to lead a number of mages in summoning a storm, unexpected for the time of year, to slow the convoy's flight. Within the storm, the Maelstrom Heralds would wait, ready to ride the lighting and spring the trap. Then, the bulk of the Dornayar's flying force would have struck. For that, Gord√Ľn Bloodfist, the Mappenbourgh Expedition and the Knights Luminous woud embark on a dragon taming expedition. Doctor Clovis and Gothos of Mirksvoir were to create a flock of winged undead monstrosities. The Bugmansburs' airships and Sorina's Coven Thrones would ferry more forces.
Then Sokrateez had sprung the news that, in a bout of 'big finkin', he had enlisted the services of Kaptain Mogrum and the Cleavermaws, apparently running their usual shenaningans in the Prime Dominion.
Lady Laelanyel thanked the gods that Aef-Grimnir was with his kin, celebrating their reunion, and not at the council.
"That's good news, Sokrateez" she intervened, "but doesn't address the plan's weakness. The Aurannar are marching through the Lux Umbra with the Eye as we speak. You all need more time to prepare our strike. The Shadowblades can buy you that. We will turn the Aurannar's advance into a crawl".

***

They had already struk on a score of occasions. One time they attacked the Aurannar column from the back, the next they split and threatened both their flanks, then came again from the front. And while Aef-Grimnir was fighting, Lady Laelanyel could keep from him that the Cleavermaws were in the Prime Dominion. There was too much in the Lux Umbra that she could recover to risk it for a duardin grudge. It was time to give him another fight and stopping him from asking too many questions about their allies within the Dornayar coalition.



Lady Laelanyel watched as Fhelthon Metheara entered the settlement with an escort of human mercenaries. Clearly, they were looking for a defensible position to shelter the Eye of Noctis while the troops rested. Exactly as she had expected.


Aef-Grimnir and his bodyguard Engrin were ready to strike from the left, Drevakh Xosh and the Shadowkin from the centre. On the right, she whispered a word of power and shade sprites darted to snuff out the torches and lanterns of the settlement, plunging it into complete darkness.


With calm orders Felthon spurred the humans into action, a few of them even reaching the Shadowflames before they could strike.


The Loreseeker himself strode forward to meet her, his Hyshian magic bent on breaking her obscuring charm. He was proving to be a better adversary than she had expected.


On the left, the Caengan clashed with another maniple of mercenaries.


Then screams of pain pierced the air. Their companions fumbling behind in the darkness, the humans that had led the attack faced the blades and darts of the Shadowkin and Shroudmaidens alone, and died.


Iyshak came to her side, the shadows thickening around him and deflecting Felthon's bright bolts.


The humans closed on Drevakh and Anielyn, crossbow bolts finding their mark at such a short range.


Engrin went on a berzerker rampage, cutting a swordman and crossbowman down in quick succession.


The Shroudmaidens's blades were swiftly deflected by the buckler of another swordman, but the marksman at his side stood no chance.


Then Drevakh fell, the quarrels and sword strikes too many even for the Tenebrael Shard to dodge. But left on his own devices, Anielyn cut the swordman to ribbons.


Laelanyel pulled away from Felthon, Iyshak instantly following her and signaling for the others to do the same.


Strike from the shadows and retreat. That was what the Shadowflames were best at. And they would do it again and again.

Animosity III, The Prime Dominion - Part 3

The Seeker

False leads had taken Fhelthon Metheara far from the Custodian’s Cave. That failure was a sore wound on the Aurannar Loreseeker’s pride. To redeem himself, he had volunteered to lead the vanguard of the convoy escorting the Eye to the ships. His would be the duty to find a safe path through the Lux Umbra. He had considered the dangers posed by the many lurking creatures and the Dornayar mercenaries. What he didn’t know, was that his path would have gone through shadow and flame.


While building it, I wasn't sure about painting the Loreseeker in the blue of Dornayar and use it as an ally for the Shadowflames. Though I love the model, it's aesthetic doesn't fit them and I wanted to get some use for it even after the campaign.

Aurannar Rune Sigil

Then, our objectives for Week 2 were published, and with a Rivalry against Aurannar, I settled on an orange that is both close to the colour of the Aurannar rune sigil and complements the yellows and reds on my Free Companies of the Gilded Hand.


So, he will now fight with them as an adversary of the Shadowflames.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Animosity III, The Prime Dominion - Part 2

Corsairs At The Docks

The attack had come from two directions at once. While Illyana Draketooth led most of the Umbral Corsairs' fleet above the Shimmersea, the crews of the smaller ships and thugs from Underside boiled up from the dark mirror image of Iscarion. The alleys and tunnels of the Lux Umbra were a slaughterhouse, every inch of ground hardly fought for. And yet, that had proved to be an opportunity for Lady Laelanyel. Disobeying direct orders, she had left her post on the docks of Iscarion, taking her Shroudmaidens and most of the Shadowkin to follow visions of Aef-Grimnir trudging the deepest tunnels of the Lux Umbra. Now, in the crucible of battle, they could earn enough respect to force the Dornayar command to overlook their insubordination.


The Grudgebreakers, ruthless Dispossessed privateers, had wracked the skyport docks and were now securing ground among the warehouses.


Lady Laelanyel posted Viserhyx and Slytha to guard the ladders and walkways leading out of the warehouses and further into Underside.


She and Vorya moved to intercept the Grudgebreakers making for the farthest exit.


The rest of the Shadowkin were tasked with retaking the entrance that was already in the Grudgebreakers hands.


Unleashing a hail of shots to cover their advance, the party of Grudgebreakers made it to the farthest exit. Only Vorya's selflessness and her skills with her shadeflail stopped them from breaking through.


Harnessing the shadows as a shield, the Shadowkin attempted to dislodge the other Grudgebreakers' party from their position, but the stubborn duardin gave little ground.


As Vorya fell under a rain of heavy cutlass and pistol but blows, Laelanyel drew her blade across her forearm. Her blood flew, turning into snaking darkness that chocked the life out of a duardin. Then Slytha jumped down from her perch to protect Vorya and impaled another one.


Viserhyx shadowleapt from on high to the side of the hard pressed Shadowkin. Though Narlek and Anielyn fell, the Grudgebreakers were now cut off from the route back to the docks.


Suddenly, leadshots pattered down from where Viserhyx had been. Somehow, Captain Gudrun had managed to lead another party around the Shadowflames position.


But then, from a tunnel going deeper into the Lux Umbra, a ruddy glow rose.


With a warcry like the roar of angry flames, Aef-Grimnir charged forward and felled the last privateer holding back Laelanyel and Slytha. The two rushed to support the Shadowkin, pinning a duardin where he was.


Now surrounded, the remaining two threw their weapons to the ground and called for parley.


Gudrun's curses rained down on his crew, promising an even worse fate if they were ever to return to the Grudgebreaker.


Lady Laelanyel let the Dispossessed captain slip away. With just a couple of deck hands at his side, he was no longer a threat. She instead turned to Aef-Grminir, the Runefather kneeling as he caught the Mistweaver's gaze.
"I fell against the orruks. And in so doing, I've failed you and my oath. Much I've already suffered for that, and tell of it I will, if you so wish. But still, my debt is not paid. My axe is yours to command, Lady Laelanyel".
"Rise, Runefather. As I did before, I gladly accept your axe. There is a war to fight, and much that we can recover from this land to help us return to Ulgu and claim what is ours".