Summary Report of Warriors North, Defences of New Terino, New Terino (Gubernatorial Estates):
Arrived at New Terino (Gubenatorial Estates) in good order. 'Choosded' and 'Goodnoose Badnoose' of the Azure Collective commandeered the two Rainbow Wolf Spiders sent by the Tenizidi as personal mounts. Initial scouting confirmed fortified wall, single ballista present, some muskets and bowmen. Crazed Laughing Centipedes deployed for undermining as per Tenizidi recommendation.
Flembic morale higher than expected. Individual named Cristian Di Rienzo present with personally loyal troops. Many fresh recruits. Enemy forces realised the purpose of centipedes and concentrated fire, then sent approximately one hundred troops in admirably single-minded pursuit of centipede destruction. Meanwhile, slaughter birds deployed to take out longbow emplacement with significant success.
Azure Collective idea of sending turncoat troops to undermine Flembic morale less than entirely successful. Tenizidi tactic of covering tunnel entrances not much more effective; directed assassination of Cristian Di Rienzo foiled by intervention of tame Northern eidolon named Construct. Almost every exposed Flembic destroyed, but only one needed to reach centipede in each tunnel for stupid creatures to use self-defeating poisonous stinger and subsequently die before reaching target. Stinger snake nest lost in targeted attack on Cristian Di Rienzo, apparently unsuccessful.
Secondary plan reluctantly implemented. Azure Collective insist on using colonial forces as base of ladder. This makes some sense due to their lower natural climbing abilities, but due care and attention to avoid unnecessary damage is not taken by Azure Expeditionary Force.
Choosded and Goodnoose Badnoose decide to make a bad situation worse by goading their fellows into greater desperation, causing them to take a frantic rather than a measured approach to the dangerous climb. Entirely viable warriors are shot by Goodnoose Badnoose for 'desertion' when they are simply waiting for a sensible route to be available. Some of our warriors threatened with sacrifice to Basilisk for insufficient climbing speed.
Situation worsened steadily. Flembic interior forces well-supplied with pistols and small pistol-firing entrances which are not large enough to admit a myrmidon. Tenizidi tactic of allowing stinger snakes on their persons to infiltrate these entrances well-thought-out, but too little too late.
Thaddeus Wolfe organised retreat competently. Took advantage of Azure Collective disregard of colonial troops to pull many remaining valuable assets out, rescued extremely useful but awkwardly isolated earthquake beetle, rounded up remaining slaughter birds (half of which destroyed by pistoleers on summit, particularly individual named Virgil Apuleius), retrieved all equipment.
Remains of Azure Expeditionary Force and Tenizidi forces followed after Choosded and Goodnoose Badnoose abandoned them.
Probably no more than one hundred fifty Flembic deaths total, although delayed deaths from stinger snake infestation may be considerable. Future recommendation: if relying on centipede units for fortification removal, guard extremely closely, despite certain losses of accompanying units, as centipede units exceptionally vulnerable to any interference.
Summary of losses:
Forty-Two of Fifty lost from Warrior Unit 003
Twenty-Three of Sixty-Two Flembics, One of Four Amusar, Two of Three Dracoscions, One of Two Fidelians, One Gnoll, One Malathian lost from Colonial Unit 003; all equipment retrieved
Thirty-Nine of Forty-Five lost from Warrior Unit 044 (Tenizidi)
Thirty-Six of Forty-Nine lost from Warrior Unit 045 (Tenizidi)
Forty-Three of Forty-Seven lost from Warrior Unit 046 (Tenizidi)
Thirty-Eight of Forty-Seven lost from Warrior Unit 047 (Tenizidi)
Forty of Forty-Six lost from Warrior Unit 048 (Tenizidi)
Complete Loss of Azure's Finest I (Twenty Flembics, Two Fidelians, One Gnoll, One Amusar, One Miscellaneous Human)
Complete Loss of Azure's Finest II (Nine Flembics, One Dracoscion)
Loss of GF-Medic (One Flembic; including loss of armour, pistol, surgeon's implements, probably crushed into mud / blood mixture at base of wall)
Loss of AG GHG 40th Brigade (One Flembic; including loss of musket, shield, armour, also carelessly crushed in ladder formation exercise)
One of Two Tritoni lost from GHG 1st Brigade "The Desert Cats" (both longbows and armour sets recovered)
Sixty-Six of Eighty-Nine lost from The Azure Expeditionary Force
One of Five Centipedes from Centipede Unit 052 (other centipedes were found roaming in vicinity after battle, lightly wounded and distracted by arrow fire)
Both Nests of Stinger Snakes (although we hope at least one is still active in the Flembic fortification)
Two of Four Flights of Slaughter Birds
Four of Five Centipedes from Centipede Unit 040
Two of Three Centipedes from Centipede Unit 022
It came at last to New Terino (Gubernatorial Estates), as everyone had always knew it would; a great carpet of Myrmidons, flowing out of the southern reaches, endless, unstoppable.
The end of the world, come forth from the southern reaches on vast black wings, the eerie laughter of madness flowing over the assembled monstrosities; against this, scarcely two hundred Flembic defenders huddle behind their fortified walls.
Many-eyed musketeers; huge beetles that slam themselves into the gates, over and over; gigantic centipedes that burrow swiftly through the earth...
But standing there on the walls were Cristian Di Rienzo and Virgil Apuleius, and they were there to turn the tide. As Virgil Apuleius single-handedly destroys every creature in the sky, his many pistols blazing constantly from the walls, Cristian Di Rienzo delves beneath the very earth to strangle the great centipedes with his bare hands, protected by his own personal guardian angel, and returns to hunt invisible snakes through the walls until none remains.
At the end of the day, the corpses are piled high against the walls... the corpses of the myrmidon would-be invaders, shattered on the might of Flembic pride and the strength of Flembic steel.
It came at last, as you always knew it would. A great carpet of Myrmidons, flowing out of the southern reaches, over three hundred carapaces gleaming in the sunlight; the blue and red of the Azure Collective, the yellow and red of Prosperity's Offspring, and most surprising of all, the many-eyed Tenizidi comprising over half the enemy forces, distinctive even in their borrowed Prosperity's Offspring swathings.
The myrmidons were not the worst of it. The myrmidons were soldiers, warriors, bizarre but understandable. There were mercenaries and slave-soldiers too, of course, maybe another hundred of all the races of the Known World marching with the enemy; but it was the monsters that truly echoed the tales of terror coming out of the southern reaches.
Amongst the sea of myrmidons, strange and hideous centipedes writhed; the high-pitched laughter of madness carried on the breeze. Above, the skies first speckled, then blackened, with great and terrible ravens, with their razor-sharp beaks and claws and night-black eyes. Two generals of the Azure Collective rode out amongst their men on gigantic spider creatures.
And, jealously protected at the centre of the Azarch formation, a single earthquake beetle lumbered forwards with inexorable purpose.
./~ Come my boys, face the setting sun
And say what you have to say ~/.
Farnsworth's Pioneers, and a single Lower City musketeer calling himself the Ace of Clubs, load their muskets. The 3rd Montforte Light Infantry (Viscount's Own) have brought up their ballista from Alexandria; they set it up gallantly on the walls, 1st New Montforte Orchestral Division (Percussion Section) hovering around them, ready to take over firing the siege weapon if any of their fellow Alexandria Patrol members are downed.
Bowmen of various calibre line up nervously; the Pipers - Flambardi Personal Guard obviously new to their weapons next to Solaine Chase's four Tritoni hunters, known as Virtue's Shadow, and Stefano Tito Demeo's grizzled crossbowman who calls himself the King of Diamonds.
Then the pistoleers arrange themselves. The two remaining soldiers of The Home Guard proudly stand with those up behind the crenellations, with the Flembic Rangers, 1st Platoon Pistoliers and 2nd Platoon Pistoliers beside them; the 1st Platoon Pistoleers have the finest pistols, but the Home Guard obviously have more experience in using them. The last of Angels with dirty faces VII, a rangy Amusar, leans against what was traditionally an arrow-slit but will do just as well for pistol shots, flanked incongruously by two pistol-toting dracoscions that call themselves the Ace of Hearts.
Captains Men and the 2nd Freeport Red Coats, sent along by Ethan Maurice, have distributed themselves all over the walls; the reinforcements from Freeport are welcome, but rather varied and undisciplined. They cite the short range of their pistols and the likelihood of flying incursions for their decision not to stand atop the walls with the majority of the forces; obviously they simply do not have the requisite Flembic courage for this engagement, but hopefully they should still be of some use.
On sighting the Earthquake Beetle, Cristian Di Rienzo splits the axemen and swordsmen and other melee combatants between the walls and the ground by the great doors; the stone of the fortified walls might be strong enough to see off their attacks, but the gates may well not be.
And then they wait.
./~ Let your grief let loose on the scarlet sky
And let the wind blow your fears away ~/.
The terrible sound of laughter intensifies... and the centipedes begin to plunge under the ground.
There are over three hundred myrmidons and over a hundred turncoats out there. There are two hundred and fifty staunch Flembic defenders - and some of those are Tritoni or Free Islanders or Amusar, not pure Flembic blood. And most of the defenders are green troops, or at least distinctly under-equipped; the best of everything has gone to Kettering, to defend the facility that is apparently the last best hope of the New World against the forces of necromancy.
But here are the forces of the natives, and they are about to undermine the walls.
The musketeers and the bowmen do their best; the ballista crew tirelessly fire into the still-surfaced rumps of the gigantic centipedes, and some wriggle their last, or tear themselves back out of the ground and flee from the stinging rain. But some are already completely submerged.
Caterina Flambardi's Order of the Steel Rose, The Kings Own Pipers, and the last members of The Palladin's Nine and The Speckled Band demand to speak to Virgil and Cristian; you get the impression that Pipers - Flambardi Personal Guard would be with them if they weren't so busy unloading arrows with inexpert but fervent zeal on the incoming enemy. They determinedly make their case: if the walls are undermined, the defenders lose every advantage, and the myrmidons will easily outflank them and set upon the vulnerable inhabitants of the Gubernatorial Estates. Whilst it is obviously dangerous to sally out in force and attempt to slaughter the centipedes in their burrows, it is suicide to simply sit tight and let them destroy the fortification.
Knowing they will likely all die, but seeing not other options, Cristian Di Rienzo calls for more volunteers; there is little point holding back any of the hand-to-hand troops that are willing to undertake this risky assault, it will not come to serious infighting if they are successful.
Naturally, Cristian Di Rienzo's own Flembic Rangers, 1st and 2nd Platoon Swordsmen, immediately volunteer. Kettering's men, Duty and Wren's Vengeance, also step forwards; then James Higham's 1st and 5th Terino Blues, and the 1st and 2nd New Terino Reds and Whites, naval artillery stranded on land without a piece of artillery between them. Seeing a decent force assembled, somewhat more cautiously, the skilled axemen of Charlotte Farnsworth's Flambardi 21st Infantry Unit put themselves forwards.
Ethan Maurice and Stefano Tito Demeo's lot tell Cristian he must be joking, and in any case someone has to stick around to mop up behind the gates when it all inevitably goes to hell; the two survivors of Haversham's 1st Alexandrian Guardsmen and Charlotte Farnsworth's Stout Hearted Men do not express these sentiments, but appear to privately share them, as they also elect to remain in reserve.
Cristian Di Rienzo is determined to go out with his men, so Virgil Apuleius agrees to hold the fort and supervise the ranged troops and those that remain inside the walls. Construct heads out with Caterina Flambardi's troops; after all, he is the very definition of expendable.
./~ For there are many ways to die, my boys
Through bullet, sword or dread~/.
There is no time for delay, for second thoughts, for doubts; the sally ports are opened up and the soldiers rush forth, splitting up into pre-arranged squadrons each heading for one of the centipede burrows.
At first, there is surprisingly little opposition; a little musket fire begins to be directed at them, a squad of ten Tenizidi being incongruously equipped with the devices, but the main bulk of the enemy had been content to sit back and wait for the centipedes to do their work. The myrmidons soon form up around the burrow entrances; particularly the Tenizidi close ranks tightly around them and begin to systematically destroy the tunnel mouths, guarded by a corona of turncoat troops pushed forwards by the bulk of the Azure Expeditionary Force and the coaxing of Prosperity's Offspring's Warrior Unit 033.
It is distressing and dispiriting to the gallant troops, to be hacking their way through so many desperate-looking, indifferently equipped Flembic turncoats; it is clear in their eyes that they believe this to be the only way for them to survive the times that are coming, that they are silently begging you to throw down your weapons and join them. Some of them go beyond silence; they ask why you are fighting, why you are opposing the wave of the future, why you set yourself up against those who know how to survive in this place, how to thrive in harmony with the land.
Some of them, confusingly, ask you simply, almost pathetically, why you do not love Mummy like they do. Something has clearly addled their minds; the determination to never end up so brainwashed gives some of your people the courage to keep fighting.
Breaking through the opposing Flembic lines, you come up against the Tenizidi warriors for the first time. They are unarmed save for their claws, but they fight as if they are in a play, or perhaps a dream; each movement amazingly stylized, like they are conducting some kind of ceremonial dance instead of fighting for their lives, and indeed they seem entirely unafraid of injury or death. Many simply stand aside until you begin to dig out the tunnel mouth, and then execute beautiful and deadly ambush moves, transitioning into swift motion out of complete stillness, almost imperceptible before the strike lands home.
Their mesmerising style is surprisingly effective. Having identified him as a person of significance, half a dozen leap for Cristian Di Rienzo in perfect synchronization; he would have been cut down in moments had Construct not seen the manoeuvre and interposed himself, giving the other soldiers time to react in their commander's defence.
Then the tunnel entrances are clear, and there is nothing left but the plunge into the endless darkness; the wet earth closing in on all sides, the constant terror of a collapse at any moment, and the echo of hideous laughter from their quarry making its determined progress towards the walls.
And for those at the front of the charges, at last, after many minutes of tense exploration that feel like they stretch to hours, a sudden stab from the darkness: each of the terrible centipedes has a deadly poisonous barb on the end of its tail.
./~ So stand up tall, midst the towers high
As your rage paints the sunset red ~\.
Back up on the walls, the slaughter birds descend on the massed bowmen of Pipers - Flambardi Personal Guard.
Royal Flush and the Angels with dirty faces III rush in to rally to the defence of both bowmen and ballista crews; although the latter are already stowing their weapon and getting below to a safer shooting location. The great black birds are much larger and sharper than ravens, close up, and they use their aerial manoeuvrability to hit and run, keeping out of reach of Stefano's men.
Determined to keep firing their bows into the cloud of winged death, Pipers - Flambardi Personal Guard are mobbed by the birds in a mass of slashing beaks and piercing talons.
Arriving on the scene, herding all of the Captains Men and the 2nd Freeport Red Coats that he could round up at short notice, Virgil begins to systematically unload his pistols into the vicious bird monsters. There are definitely leaders amongst them, and on these he focuses his fire; one falls, and another, and gradually the flocks - decimated by the hacking axes and slashing swords of the men at arms, and bewildered without the guidance of their leading pairs - lift and disperse.
There is not much left of the bowmen. Half-eaten soon-to-be corpses whimper and try to hold their ravaged faces together.
The 2nd Freeport Red Coats look briefly around for surgeons, and then begin to put bullets in the afflicted. It might not be kind or just, but it's the right thing to do.
./~ Raise the flag, let loose the cry
And fill the sky with song ~\.
The retreat was so much worse than the attack.
Cristian Di Rienzo did not even bother attempting to go back down the tunnel; he could hear from the rearguard what they would find there, an impossible long-running battle back deep into the enemy lines. Instead, he ordered his Rangers - what was left of them - to dig; pitching in enthusiastically by carrying piles dirt, on his shield, out of their way.
As they broke through into the light, the blessed light of day which none had truly thought they would see again, the leading digger suddenly went completely slack; bonelessly, wordlessly, he fell into the arms of his compatriots, accompanied by a strange undulation in the air...
Wounds blossomed on the battered Rangers; their increasingly frantic screams were cut off, here and there, by the silence of the paralysing venom taking hold. Flailing around them with their swords, Cristian as much as any of them, ichor began to issue from near-invisible creatures the colour of dark earth - or, if one lay against the shield or armour of a Ranger, it swiftly took on their colouration.
Whatever the poison in their tail-stingers, it appeared not to have any immediate effect; beginning to see the shapes moving in the half-light, the Rangers confidently avoided any further bites and sliced the creatures into writhing chunks.
Cristian Di Rienzo found himself emerging, exhausted, from a rough hole in the ground, in the middle of a myrmidon stampede.
It is only the single-mindedness of the Azure Expeditionary Force that he finds himself amongst that saves him. Assuming any stray Flembic still on the surface to be one of their own, they cuff him and drag him up, and one of them squeaks, "Do you love Mummy?"
Following along with their charge, weakly, he sees that the myrmidons have given up on subtlety and are attempting to scale the walls wholesale, climbing up the corpses of their dead and the often still-living bodies of their turncoat troops; he arranges to be crushed up against a sally port and used as part of a ladder, and the troops behind swiftly open the portal for a moment to allow him to stumble in.
./~ For while but one man of us fights
Flambardia lives on ~\.
The wave of myrmidons crashes against the walls, swarming up ladders of its own flesh. One valiant earthquake beetle attempts to crack the main doors, carefully shielded from the ballista's fire by a thick coating of sacrificial troops.
But the pistoleers are having a field day, up and down the walls, shooting helpless climbing myrmidons as they scrabble for purchase on the hard, smooth stone.
The goading of the two Azure Collective generals, defended by their giant spider mounts, forces more and more of the Azure Expeditionary Force up the walls, and the Tenizidi naturally play their part in the spectacle, although with a disarming sense of unreality that cloaks them from the messy gracelessness of the Azure myrmidons' ungainly scrabbling - and a strange writhing presence wrapped around them...
Thaddeus Wolfe, an unassuming human swordsman with sextant and telescope out amongst Prosperity's Offspring, is subtly taking command around the edges. He coaxes the remains of Colonial Warrior Unit 003 out from under the stream of myrmidons, shielding them from Choosded and Goodnoose Badnoose on their spider mounts - for Goodnoose Badnoose has a musket and is shooting deserters, and threatening to sacrifice anyone who does not climb. He grounds the slaughter birds and pulls back the earthquake beetle - and together, they begin to retreat, a few of the Tenizidi breaking off effortlessly and joining the exodus.
Seeing the tide of the battle has turned against them, Choosded and Goodnoose Badnoose kick their mounts into action and gallop off into the fading light, taking a handful of the Expeditionary Force as a rearguard, but leaving most to be slaughtered by your pistoleers.
The last gasp of the battle is an ugly little incursion; the serenely climbing Tenizidi were festooned with an insidious force, a nest of snakes that take on the colours of their environment, whose bite is paralytic and whose sting is poisonous. Along with the few surviving swordsmen of the Flembic Rangers who were stung in the tunnels, seven of the Captains Men and three of the 2nd Freeport Red Coats, most of the Flembic Rangers, 2nd Platoon Pistoliers, three of the Flembic Rangers, 1st Platoon Pistoliers and both of The Home Guard, suffer terribly over the next few days as the dreadful poison works through their systems, rotting them from the inside out.
Most of those that went out to defeat the centipedes did not make it back. There is one left from each unit of the Order of the Steel Rose, and three from The Kings Own Pipers, but neither the last survivor of The Palladin's Nine nor of The Speckled Band returned from the battlefield. Two of the Flembic Rangers, 2nd Platoon Swordsman and one of the 1st Platoon dragged themselves out of a hole that was not immediately infested by stinger snakes; not one of Kettering's men made it out of their hole, but it appears they defeated their centipede in any case. One of the 5th and three of the 1st Terino Blues returned safely, as did one of the 1st New Terino Reds and Whites, but none of the 2nd. And one of Farnsworth's Flambardi 21st Infantry Unit still lives, but the others have all perished in the fight.
Only three of Pipers - Flambardi Personal Guard survived the attack of the slaughter birds; the Ace of Clubs musketeer, three of Royal Flush and four of the Angels with dirty faces III also perished in their savage attack, as did the last Flembic in the 1st Alexandrian Guardsmen, leaving only an Amusar to carry the unit's name.
The two dracoscions of the 2nd Freeport Red Coats stung by the snakes make it through, eventually; every other soldier afflicted by their poison dies in miserable agony.
Still, when you venture out to clear the field of decaying bodies, there are over three hundred dead bugs and almost a hundred dead turncoats littering the field of battle, along with two whole flights of slaughter birds and all those centipedes dead in their holes.
Casualties on both sides in glorious profusion - a great and traditional Flembic victory, then!
It came at last to New Terino (Gubernatorial Estates), as everyone had always knew it would; a great carpet of Myrmidons, flowing out of the southern reaches, over three hundred carapaces gleaming in the sunlight. The blue and red of the Azure Collective, the yellow and red of Prosperity's Offspring, and most surprising of all, the many-eyed Tenizidi comprising over half the enemy forces, distinctive even in their borrowed Prosperity's Offspring swathings.
They bring with them monstrosities, flocks of vicious black birds, gigantic spiders and beetles, great laughing centipedes that attempt to undermine the fortifications; but the Flembic, unsuited to cowering within their walls, charge out bravely to meet the enemy in any case, swords flashing and pistols blazing, undaunted even in the face of the hundred enslaved countrymen that they must wade through before the myrmidons can even be engaged.
At the end of the day, the corpses are piled high against the walls; the corpses of the myrmidon would-be invaders, shattered on the might of Flembic pride and the strength of Flembic steel, on the bulwark of Cristian Di Rienzo's impressive leadership, Virgil Apuleius' steadfast organisation, and the faith represented here by the angel Construct that has seen the colony through so many challenges.