Casters' burden Part 3

Lord Bandage was always a simple archer at heart. His promotion to Chief Warlord came as surprise, those thousand turns ago. The only surviving of his stack, the highest level unit in the field, the highest accuracy and the best eyesight... it had some sense. But, he wasn’t Royal and this plan was too complicated for his liking. Why not just blast the archons out of our airspace with spells? Of course, they were veiled, but he has spent the last twelve turns stoking air defence spells on the tower and even if only every third hit, they’d still have some left.

The hat knock knocked, Lord Bandage received the message and prepared his archers for another volley. He was the one that shot poor pikers, while his elite archers had intentionally missed. Lord Bandage took his longbow again, carefully choosing an arrow. He notched it, pulled the string to his ear and waited.

Then it happened.

He saw blonde archon's shocked face for much less than a second before he served. The other two were watching the king and had their backs turned to him and his stack. Big mistake, the biggest one of their lives. His arrow had hit the blonde straight between the eyes, ending her shout, but not one arrow missed. One was close, though, hitting red-headed archon's leg. Lord Bandage turned to his stack, as proud as he was tall.

"Men and women, that was a fine good stitching. They croaked before they hit the ground." he said, getting cheers and grins from his elite strike force. Then he turned to (almost) luckless archer. "John, aim a little higher next time. Remember what I told you about distance and the air units?"

"Sorry, Novak." John said, wiping one sweaty hand on his green tights. "I got nervous. This is my first time against the fliers."

"Don't worry. You are still low level, John." Lord Bandage said, giving John a reassuring pat on the shoulder and having to stand on top of his toes to do it. He was tall, but John was taller. "It will pass once you get higher level. Now, let's end this dirty business." he added, notching another arrow. Another archon got unveiled by heal, right there over garrison and had barely had time to make her fingers in thinkagramming pose before Roger, Rafael and Serena ended her transmission and the others had finished turning her into goose. The others must have fled.

Lord Bandage smiled, without firing second arrow, before his smile curled like two turns old milk rations left on the sun. He saw a blur on the horizon, just on the edge of his eyesight but it wasn't there when he turned to look. It was starting, for real this time.

Lord Novak Bandage gazed at the distant hexes. He was worried and he knew that his worry was showing. Soon, it was going to make some of his stack nervous and Novak was sorry for that too. The distant blur was moving high above those hexes and he knew them to be archons, stacks and stacks of them. And there was a cloud of dust below them as well and he could see the siege towers as tiny lines with other units as dots. Undertakers... he felt it to be true in his very soul.

Lord Bandage had the highest accuracy modifiers and range of vision, yet he wished them to be higher still, for he could not count enemy forces at this distance. They just weren't big enough and damn things were at the same time too far and not far enough for his taste (enemy capital would be preferred spot for enemy units, Lord Bandage always felt)! His units were still a little euphoric from the skirmish and they couldn't even see anything moving yet. They noticed his feelings, though. And have gone quiet and pensive. It was eerie.

"What's wrong, sir?" Roger finally asked him, his voice nearly a whisper. Roger, his trusted lieutenant and one of the only 5 archers with leadership special in this stack. Roger, who was like a brother to him and who had seen almost as much battle as Lord Bandage himself. A veteran unit that was always unfazed in the middle of the fight. And he was nervous now with the rest of them.

"They are coming, Roger." Lord Bandage replied gravely. "Can you see the haze moving in the sky, there, eight hexes away? Can you see the dust cloud which is the Undertaker army? And that haze... They are coming and my sight range modifiers are not big enough to break even a single archon's veil. And when they do get close enough for that, it will be too late. We got lucky this time, is all I'm saying. Caught them by surprise..."

"Sir, what about Lucas and Nyx? They could unveil them for us just like before." Roger replied, the hope almost tangible in his voice. Lord Bandage sighed.

"Those were scattered archons, Roger. " he finally said. "More than four in a single veiled stack are quite another story. And no amount of heals can break those veils. You better believe it."

"I wish Surgeon Amputate was here, sir." Roger said.

"So do I, lieutenant. So do I. " Lord Bandage replied, with feeling. The enemy army moved one hex nearer.
"Why?" asked John. "He is always causing chaos in the barracks and the town."

"That much is true, John." Lord Bandage said with grim little smile. "But you've never had him in battle with you. And the fighting is where he is at his element, if you know what I mean."
John nodded, in sudden realization.

Surgeon Amputate was a walking disaster with lost hit points everywhere he went. It wasn't the name he had popped with, more something like a honorific or a title that stemmed from his nickname. If you or anyone near you happened to hold edged weapons as the man absentmindedly passed by your stack, it was raining limbs. If you didn't, it was broken hands and legs, or fingers and toes at the very least. With maces and clubs, the injuries were just crushingly brutal, so those things were simply banned from Healaid's army when he was in the same hex. Having a linked Findamancer and Healomancer remedied that flaw somewhat and when good Surgeon concentrated, no bad things happened around him. It made him spend his juice, though, and he needed every smidgin' of that juice for battles. And having him in battle by your side tipped the battle in your favor, every time, without a hitch.
He was Healaid's Luckamancer and a master level one at that, the single most valuable caster after LukeNyx pair, the longest lived of all units in the kingdom, the trusted adviser that popped under the reign of Queen Galenika's daughter Susan. Lord Bandage suspected that he had a lot to do with the way the side worked, healing scrolls and healing units and all... Yet, he wasn't there, in the capital. Surgeon Amputate was with their prince, where he was needed the most.

Lord Bandage was popped with a simple purpose in his mind: to shoot things with his bow. It was just his luck that he had popped with Leadership special (which was extremely odd for non-warlord unit, but Healaid seemed to pop such units by the dozens exactly 7 turns before every important battle, where the kingdom's survival was at stake. Another of Surgeon's moves, Lord Bandage was almost certain.) and had survived the battle. It made some sense to make him a Chief Warlord...

Suddenly, Lord Bandage felt loss of power. He was just a simple warlord now and units in his stack had lost his +8 Chief Warlord bonus. He had gained +5 bonus himself and so did all the units in the city. His stack gave him an odd look, very uncertain.
"So the king has found a level 10 warlord after all." Lord Bandage exclaimed, with sudden fierce joy filling him, even though he didn't know who it was. In fact, he realized after a second, he had shouted that sentence, so loud that his stack was rocked from their nervousness and stood at attention.
"Defense pattern Beta" came an order, the natural thinkamancy, the way he hadn't received an order in ages. Lord Bandage felt... a thousand of turns younger. He moved into the position smoothly, his stack moving into their own, followed by a hundred more archers. Then two hundred. Then almost a thousand. Pikers came to the ramparts, not two minutes later and stacked with him, protecting the archers from all sides, their sparse armor gleaming in cohorts of red and white, golden leaves inlaid.

"I thought you said this plan was insane, Novak." Lady Maleficient said, with a fierce grin before moving in front of him, her shield raised. She was the leader of the pikers, the two thousand of them. And two.
"I said it was insane without a level 10 Chief Warlord, Sue." Lord Novak replied, as joyous as he was heavy, for he was the leader of archers, a thousand archers and one.
The enemy was moving faster now, hexes and hexes faster, but he didn't worry any more. Everything was going to be alright now; they had the chance after all for the king had found a level 10 warlord and all the calculations were correct, all preparations in order. Lord Novak turned to his enormous stack and gave an order.

"Battlestations! Let's get this party started! John, battle song of the kingdom! Goooo!" he shouted with John's voice joining his own, soon followed by a dozen more. Then a hundred. Then two hundred. Then one thousand. Then three thousand and three, all kneeling on one knee and removing their helmets and hats as one. With the enemy two hexes away, shivering in their stacks and slowing in their tracks from the sudden power of song that came clear from the ramparts even two hexes away.

"oooooh Queen Galenika,
traitor though you may be,
the Glorious,
we'll give our lives for thee.

With glowing hearts,
we see the rise
of true Side strong and free.
Oh Healaid,
we stand on guard for thee!

With Titan's might
and steel so bright
we stand on guard for thee...
we'll give our lives for thee!!!"

When the Stack got up, they were covered in steel from head to toe, magical armor their friends have made spreading as was intended, all white and red, the livery of the kingdom. It was protecting from croaking but not injuries for the injuries were not a problem. They had casters in the tower with level 10 warlord, after all.
John after armor activation
John after armor activation