And we return to Wachturm Weg and this, the second part of the battle report of my latest Third Edition game. If you missed the first bit of the narrative it can be found here.
After clearing the farm building of bandits and failing to find the sensitive undergarments, Dan gathered his troops near the magic barrier. The two surviving inhabitants (the gnome, Little Ron, and Brock Fett) had legged it to the Watchtower and were now hidden from view. All he had to do now was cross the barrier. But how?
"Uthse your thsmathsh thspell upon it!" Sir Wilheim ordered. "If we can bring thiths barrier down quickly thothse thscumbagths from the farm won't have the time to regroup and counter attack!"
"The vibration from the ether when I cast that particular spell really affects my digestion," Ludwig grumbled, "and with bowels like mine that last thing you want to to is antagonise the juices of the stomach."
"Juthst get on with it, man!" Sir Wilheim howled in anger.
Reluctantly, the hedge wizard strode forwards and tapped the barrier gently. Nothing happened. He realised quite quickly their mistake, for such spells are designed to shatter simple inanimate objects and not complicated magic walls. Ludwig summoned up his energies once again and cast a simple fireball spell at the barrier, but that did nothing but absorb further power into whatever magic lay behind this.
From deep inside his robes a strangled gurgling could be heard and Ludwig winced.
"What's this sire?" One of the knights asked, after discovering a strange formation of bones and mosses within a clay pot.
"The key to this wall," Ludwig called excitedly, his bowel movements forgotten momentarily, "I order you to break it - such an action should destroy this barrier and let us through.
"Not me," the knight protested, dropping the skull onto the grass, "I'll be frazzled or have by soul blasted to a thousand pieces. Everyone knows that tinkering with magic only leads of painful oblivion!"
"By all the Godths, why muthst I work with thsuch incompetentths? Its juthst a thskull and thsome dried mothsseths cobbled together by thsome rancid hedge wizard like Ludwig! Give it here..." Sir Wilheim snatched up the odd creation and broke it to pieces, a strange blue jewel fell from the jaw. "Thiths ithsn't the dark creation of a necromancer, or machinations of chaoths - its a thsimple thspell eathsily broken and will bring no harm to anyone at all. Now follow your orderths and move, even an imbecile like you thshould have noticed that the barrier is now down!"
And with the tirade over, a single fireball flew from the watchtower's window and incinerated Sir Wilheim in seconds. His blackened body collapsed in a heavy pile of broken mail and burnt cloth. A hideous smell filled the air, like a poorly cooked barbeque dinner.
The remaining knights barely had time to react to the sudden demise of their leader when the door of the watchtower burst open and two hideous 'things' emerged from the blackness within. The first was human sized and moved with an awkward gait, while its body with fantastically muscled its face appeared to have been peeled clean of skin. And only its grinning skull was left to glare balefully at the knights.
Its companion was even more grotesque, if such a thing was possible. It was had once been a dwarf, judging by the beard, but that was all that was left of it now. The exposed skin had been turned green by some strange corruption, the left arm was twisted into some tentacle and an unnatural tail sprouted from its rear end and swayed in the air like a snake.
Both mutants, for mutants they were, wasted no time in attacking. The former dwarf charged Ludwig while Skullface (as he was known) collided with Sir Bleu, smashing down with its crude club.
"Chaos!" Screamed a knight. But Sir Bleu, who had taken over command since Wilhelm' death, overcame his fear and darted forwards in a desperate counter attack. Spurred on by his example, all but two of the remaining knights overcame their fear too and darted forwards.
"We outnumber them," Sir Bleu rallied his men, "and they'll fall easily. Strike! Strike! Strike!"
Though the dwarf looked hideous, its was clear to the men who fought him that its mind had been blasted by the mutation ravaged upon its body. The moronic look in its eyes barely changed as he was cut down; green blood seeping into the grass in a curious stain. Skullface fought better and managed to parry the blows directed at him. One blade struck his muscled skin but bounced off as it made of stone.
The door of the watchtower burst open again and two more figures stepped out into the melee. Both were humanoid and though marked by chaos, seemed less mutated that those who came first. The two thugs looked more than competent fighters and dashed forwards in eager haste.
Cutting savagely with a curved sword, the green skinned thug cut down a knight, the force of the blow bursting the links of the chainmail and nearly severing the unfortunate's arm. His companion roared wildly, and darted forwards in support of Skullface.
Overcoming their fear, the two knights that had held back found their courage and waded in to the combat. One knight, clad in yellow and red, cut down the thug who had raced to support Skullface.
For the third time in as many minutes, the door to the watchtower opened and Brock and Little Ron emerged into the daylight. The gnome ran around the edge of the tower and pulled at the cord of his crossbow, cocking the weapon. Brock stepped forwards and deftly cut down a green surcoated knight, his blade piercing the mail beneath the cloth and splitting the man's belly open. Grinning viciously, he kicked the body down the hill and eyed his next target.
Little Ron took aim at a knight and loosed a bolt. Its pointed head was deflected by a shield and, frustrated, he bent down once more to cock the weapon. With a brutal hack, the blue-skinned thug cut down another knight, this time caving in his forehead so the poor man's brains splattered across the grass. Holding his shield in the air he let of a howl of delight, calling on the dark gods he had sold his soul to to watch him in this moment of triumph.
Brock stepped down towards a fresh target, but Ludwig blasted him to pieces with a fireball spell.
For a final time, the watchtower door opened and a red jacketed beastman emerged, charging with delight into the knight who had just killed the orange skinned thug. Though fearsome, the creature was slow and the knight easily parried his attacks.
Skullface fell, his cranium shattered by a sword edge. The knights who had been fighting him surged forwards like a crest of a wave, spreading out to join the fight against the blue-skinned thug, the beastman and Little Ron.
With the tide of the battle turning, the remaining thug was felled with multiple hack and slash wounds.
Outclassed, Little Ron was stabbed to death without releasing the bolt he had just loaded. His vanquisher ending his life with brutal skill.
Now only the beastman fought on. The standard bearer dashed for the watchtower's door, and grabbing the handle found the entrance to be unlocked. He made to dart inside the blackness but another gigantic fireball struck him in the body. Flames caught hold of him in an instant, and he collapsed to the floor in rolling agony.
Wounded and gasping, the beastman let out an awful bray and fell to the vengeful blades of the remaining knights. As its limp body rolled down the incline the battle was at its end.
The surviving knights stood in silence, their armour and weapons thick with blood, not all of it red or at all natural. Ludwig emerged from the bushes, fussing with his robes, asking "Did I miss much?"
Ludwig, hurried the surviving knights clear of the door before approaching it carefully. Closing his eyes, he seemed to concentrate on the wood of the entrance for s few seconds, before declaring the area to be safe.
"The smell of blood always brings out my irritable bowel," he said, "I can feel my lunch positively blocking up my guts. I'll be a long time in the privy once we clear this place."
The surviving knights just grimaced as he lead them inside the tower.
Inside, they found nothing. Just an empty space full of filth and decay. Discarded bones, not all of them animal, lay mouldering on the floor. A set of rickerty steps lead upwards.
"Blast!" Ludwig complained, "no crapper!"
Organising themselves, the knights ascended the stairway. The steps lead them up to the top story and what met them their terrified the lead knight. A chaos sorcerer, his face a frightful mess of bone and fang. Green poison dripped from its mandibles and a blue tongue, tipped with a snapping face of its own, slid into the dank air.
So this was the evil behind the place, Ludwig thought. No doubt forcing the local bandits to do his bidding. Well no longer!
The leading knight couldn't control his fear, and tried to flee back towards the steps. He collided with his colleague and threatened to knock him back down the steps. Pushing wildly, the eyes that stared through the slits of his helmet betrayed a madness to far gone to remedy here. His lack of control put them all at risk, and the knight who faced him cut him down with an enraged blow!
How dare he risk their lives with his weakness!
The chaos thing was pleased to see its enemies destroy each other, and stepping forwards raised a crooked finger...
"I'llll pulllll youuuu aparttt!" The creature slobbered.
Tearing the traitorous knight into pieces with the force of its will, the chaos sorcerer smiled again, his snaked headed tongue whirling in the air, revelling in the scent of death.
"Go forwards," Ludwig ordered the black knight, "avoid it's tongue... Go while it's weak from the spell!"
Dashing past the sorcerer, the knight swerved to avoid the lashing tongue. Ducking under a blow from the strange club the creature of chaos wielded, he darted against the nearest wall. Ludwig raised his own hand and directed it towards their enemy.
"Pull my finger!" He shouted, and unleashed a fireball straight at the sorcerer. The holy fire burnt through the bone-like armour that served as the creature's skin and the power of the spell splintered it's body in two. The force of the impact slammed the sorcerer back again the wall, its robes now all singed and gathered up around the loins.
"The undergarments!" The black knight called out. "The sorcerer was wearing them!"
Trudging through the grass, the surviving knights followed Ludwig. Sir Bleu shook his head again, trying to restore order to his quaking limbs. Chaos! Here in the Empire? And common men willing to work for such a creature? Was there any hope for the world?
"What do we do know?" He asked, hoping that Ludwig would have some scrap of wisdom to help settle his shattered mind.
"Find a shitehouse," was the wizard's response, "I need to lay a brown onion that would startle a follower of the dark gods."