It Took Him Forever To Finish - A Handful Of Units #70
As soon as turn started, forces were on the move.
Flying fish had already converged on the hex by end of last turn. They were sweeping it to find any chamewleons or scouts.
Four Black Swans, six Rocs and four Marmen warlords flew in. Ronjermy, Larry, and Chief Warlord again Rebeche were on Rocs. Two stacks of Knight Archers were divided up evenly on the swans, which could each hold four riders. Three Rocs flew unmounted.
They landed and dismounted at the very edge of the hex the Lizawd King's forces were in.
"Archer's, get to work."
Ronjermy stacked with a flying fish and sent it in. "Ensten, you have your eyes on?"
Ronjermy sent a dozen more fish in, sweeping the area immediately across the hex border for veiled units.
The archers dismounted and strung their big Strength bows. No regular archer could use such a weapon. But they all wished for the bonus it provided.
For the newly appointed Knights, it felt the same as their old bows did, only…..better.
"They have seen the fish lord. It's drawing attention. Send the fish in closer, Lord. I have identified what looks like minor leadership. There are runners heading somewhere. …" moments later "There lord. That is likely the top leadership."
"Keep an eye on him. Point the Archers to the closest Warguana. Keep an eye out for casters." Ronjermy thought then shifted to verbal commands. "Archers, go."
They immediately formed a line sixteen across. Then at Garrow's command, took three steps, crossing into enemy territory. They pulled strings back, and let loose a flight of arrows. In nearly perfect unison, they reached for another arrow from one of the double quivers on their backs, knocked the arrow, raised their bows, and again let loose.
Four times times in quick succession they repeated this, while Ensten fed target information to them.
"Lord, they're firing at me. Send in another fish just in case. And beware, they're assembling archers for return fire. And, hits are being scored on the Warguana. Many hits, it looks like."
Ronjermy wondered how many arrows it would take to croak a Warguana. That's partially why they were here.
"Arrows loosed in response!" Ensten warned.
"Incoming!" Ronjermy yelled at his archers. They loosed a volley, loaded another as enemy arrows came into sight, let that volley lose, and on Garrow's command quickly turned and jumped back across the hex line, just as arrows began to rain down on their location. Many of them hit and stalled at the hex boundary, slowly sliding down to the ground.
Garrow commanded "Forward Once!" and the knight archers, who had already loaded their bows, again stepped across the hex line, sighted their target in the distance, and let loose, immediately turning back into the safe hex to avoid a second defensive volley that soon thereafter littered the ground with the feathered ends of arrows protruding from the relatively steep angle of the grassy slope.
Ronjermy had long ago tested the capabilities of non-mountain capable units on the mountain. Cliffs and climbing certainly weren't in the cards. On steepish slopes like this one, a unit could land or dismount, and take a few steps. A few steps was just about it, after that a unit flat out couldn't move, and could even fall down a slope, regardless of how steep it was.
This repeated. Someone finally got a hit on the flying fish, Ensten switched and Ronjermy sent in another.
Lizawd King forces approached at speed to the hex boundary. Ronjermy' s archers continued to target the Warguana. It was very unhappy at this point, and roaring and charging the hex boundary.
"Fire at will!" The knights were now stepping over the line and back on individual discretion, often ending up able to stay for three or four volleys. Enemy arrows came in bursts, always in groupings. Easy to predict.
Suddenly one of the Black Swans honked a warning. The Rocs' and Swans' orders were to look for veiled units. The archers all jumped back across the line, looked to see where the Swan was looking, and looked that way.
The first Knight to see it stepped across and put an arrow into it, which identified it as a chamewleon for all. Immediately at the next opportunity, Keye's stack stepped forward on command and dropped it.
Garrow's group stepped forward as Keye's stepped back and loosed a volley accurately at another racing forward, dropping it too with eight successful hits.
Arrows rained down again, hitting two archers as they retreated. The Swans continued to honk warning.
"Hold." Rebeche bellowed. "Mount."
Like the elite units that they were, the archers moved to their Swan mounts and climbed on.
"Take down that Warguana." Ronjermy commanded as the four swans took flight. Rebeche ordered the Rocs up. Ronjermy, Rebeche, and Larry also mounted their rocs and took to the sky, Larry with orders to not cross the hex into danger.
Ronjermy sent another fish in, figuring ensten might need one sometime soon. It seems the Lizawd King's forces had forgotten about the little spy, as they rushed to the border to keep the archers out. Enemy archers were now tracking the swans, as the plan seemed obvious.
Gliding along the hex line at altitude, the swan swerved across it just long enough for the Knights to loose their arrows, then back across. No way enemy archers could fire fast enough to hit them, and good luck predicting when the swan would cross the border. And, four swans were doing that, criss crossing each other and moving back and forth across the line.
The Warguana roared in anger and distress as it continued to take hits. The other five roared in response. Units on the ground around them got out of the way as the giant lizards shuffled anxiously and aggressively.
So much attention was on the four swans and archers, for the moment none of the lizawd forces were tracking the other units.
The four Marmen warlords flying around at lower levels took the opportunity. Hunting for targets and noticing the opportunity as the Warguana's bellowed, in quick succession the Marmen dashed across the line. One of them dashed in and speared a surprised looking Lizawd Man stabber in the throat, croaking him. One attacked a chamewleon, getting two strikes in while shrugging off wounds from defenders while striking a third time and successfully croaking. He dashed back across the line.
Ronjermy, watching his units act out their pre-planned strategy from his Roc, figured that was fair trade…a few wounds for a chamewleon.
The other two flew in across the heads of several stacks of defenders and successfully grabbed a Level 1 warlord, flying up into the air with him, stabbing him with their tridents while they turned back towards the hex to avoid archers. The warlord was croaked by the time they got there, and they dropped him to fall and land on a stack of human pikers.
One of the Marmen took an arrow, but other than that the duo escaped unharmed.
Ronjermy was watching this all keenly.
Ensten alerted him "Lord, there's the leader." Ronjermy could see him now. Having stepped out from behind the cover of a plated lizard and moving openly amongst his troops of human and Lizawd Man pikers and stabbers, yelling at his troops some kind of orders. Ronjermy knew what he'd be yelling if their places were reversed.
"Show Larry and the archers." He told Ensten.
Larry immediately pushed his Roc up to the level of the archers on the Ebony Swans.
The swans swarmed near him, Larry raised his arms, and then the swans resumed their erratic flights across the border the Lizawd King forces were helpless to cross.
Their warlord wasn't a Chief Warlord, but was a Level 8.
He should know better than to come out from behind cover, Ronjermy thought disapprovingly.
One, and then another, and then another of the Swans crossed the line, and four and then eight and then twelve and then sixteen arrows screamed across the space towards the chief warlord.
But these arrows screamed voices that sounded like they were suffering a thousand turns of torture. And these arrows screamed loudly, the whole hex could hear the shrieks of agony, and even the hair of Overlord Ronjermy's arm stood on end. All heads in the hex suddenly turned towards the arrows seemingly possessed of souls being stepped on by the
To his credit, the Lizawd King's lead warlord suddenly realized the archers weren't targeting the wounded Warguana anymore. His lasts thoughts were remembering that moments ago he was wishing the archers would stop firing at the prized beasts.
The first four arrows caught the warlord squarely in the torso. The next two missed but each hit a nearby stabber. The next one buried itself in the chief's leg. The next two in the ground. The next again in the chief's torso followed by a glancing blow off the armor that stuck into another stabber. Two more in the ground. Two more into a nearby piker. The last sunk into the chief's other leg.
But the war chief was still standing, a grimace on his face. Ronjermy wondered how many arrows he himself could take.
The screaming of the arrows stopped suddenly. There was a brief moment of total silence across the hex. The units within view looked questioningly at the warlord and the units hit near him. All were standing, though obviously hit. The stabber and piker looked relieved for a moment that they still lived. Then they started grimacing. Then their eyes went wide and they started a moaning which slowly crept across the silence.
Then they started screaming and clawing at their wounds.
The chief warlord too started screaming, with a wretching rasping breath in between long and agonizing screams, eyes bulging.
The stabbers and piker slowly started swelling up, quickly progressing into eyes bulging, mouth open, screams distorted from deep inside. The screams became blocked and wet and gurgly, but impressively loudly so. Ronjermy didn't know bodies could make those sounds.
The troops around them quickly started backing up, pushing those before them to get themselves at a distance.
The piker and stabbers swelled even more, suddenly quickly ballooning and then exploding loudly, sending parts and goo and the remnants of gargled agonized screams out onto the surrounding erf and units.
The level 8 warlord lasted a little longer. He swelled up slower, shook and tremored and twitched and jiggled, and struggled tortuously for breath in and scream out. One eyeball popped out with force, then the other. There was an audible crack as the side of his skull split and brains and blood jetted out several yards horizontally.
Surrounding forces pushed away even farther with cries of surprise and horror, more space was created, but they couldn't take their eyes from the horrible mind bending wrongness of the event before them that unfolded temptuously, about to reach a finale.
With an explosive farty gassy squeak of fluids bursting out of fissures forming across the chief warlord's bloated body, his head lolled back, his insides exploded up in a geyser out his ribcage and neck, and the one time leader exploded chunks and parts and pieces of wet clothing and soiled armor in a surprisingly wide radius onto his troops.
Some recoiled in horror. Some puked. Others finally let out a scream. Some tried to run away.
Ronjermy watched the stats of the units in the hex drop as they lost their chief warlord bonus. He was the first to realize that nobody was paying attention to anything else, even his own troops were transfixed.
"Croak! Croak! Croak!" he mentally commanded his units as he dove his Roc across the line. He dropped the roc onto an armored lizawd heavy and its rider, the roc sinking it's talons through the rider into the lizawd, then driving it's sharp and rock hard beak into its body. Ronjermy leapt off, pulling Mjighty from its sheath as he was in the air, and came down hard on another armored lizawd, cleaving it's skull in two. He was instantly leaping back onto his Roc as it croaked its prey, and urged it mightily into the air as the troops came back to their senses.
The Marmen warlords dashed across the line, each picking non heavy targets and croaking them, staying a moment to strike at secondary targets. Rebeche had already been moving towards the Warguana. Ronjermy wasn't pleased about that. Rising in the air on his roc, he pointed Mjighty at the enemy archers "Again Larry, the archers!" Ronjermy then retreated across the line. He didn't want to see if he could survive seven arrows, though he was confident that he could. Now wasn't the time to try to find out. He circled around and commanded the marmen to him.
Larry again charged the Knights' arrows. They again crossed the hex and fired into stacks of archers. The swans and some of the archers took some hits this time, as the shock of the exploding chief warlord wore off and units looked again to their targets. Safe opportunities were brief in battle.
Ronjermy understood that, and hoped a second round of Shockamancer arrows would get Rebeche back across the line.
The second screams were even more effective than the first round. Troops that had actually seen the effects of them on their targets started running in panic. Less troops in the field looked up at the source, but even more looked for cover, even if it was behind the unit next to them.
Screaming arrows fell amongst the lizawd men archers, and some of the swans' riders had sent their shots wide into other units.
It looked like all sixteen arrows hit targets in various stacks of archers.
The archers' screams started just as Rebeche's roc struck the riderless back of the Warguana. Rebeche leapt off and sunk his two handed battle axe into its back. The roc dug it's talons in and ferociously and repeatedly struck with its beak, ripping out great chunks of flesh. Rebeche held his footing as the great lizawd writhed trying to throw the attackers off. Rebeche had great balance, as he kept his footing and repeatedly chopped at the beast's spine like he was trying to split a great oak.
The beast screamed and its front legs buckled, crashing to the ground. Without its warlord bonus, and full of arrows, the beast was close to the end as screams and meaty explosions and the resulting panicked and horrified screams echoed nearby and across the battlefield.
But still, a few arrows were loosed at the Warguana's attacker. Some units rushed to the megalo lizawd's defense, including two other seemingly unled Warguana's that were making their way with haste, trampling across any troops in their way. That quickly stopped as some warlord stacked with them, but it was clear Rebeche had better get on with it.
And he kept hacking with abandon. With his roc screaming and digging its beak ever deeper into the back of the Warguana breaking through rib cage, and his axe crashing into the beast's spine, it was suddenly over and the giant Lizawd collapsed, croaked.
Arrows piercing its hide from friendly fire surely hadn't helped. They weren't helping Rebeche or his ride either, and they each collected a couple.
Rebeche clung to his roc's back as it took off, it's great mass lifting to the sky and towards safety.
The Marmen grouped and took out another plated lizawd and his rider as their last attack, the riderless rocs swooped and made multiple kills of infantry by grabbing a stack at a pass and carrying them high, crushing them in their claws on the way up and dropping them onto their compatriots below.
The archers fired regular rounds into the enemy archers to help cover Rebeche, and Ronjermy and his roc took out another heavy armored lizawd.
They all gathered across the line, unridden rocs soaring high circles in overwatch, flying fish flitting around.
Rebeche wasn't even breathing hard, and looked as calm as ever as his roc joined Ronjermy's.
"Alright, end the attack." Ronjermy ordered. "We haven't lost anybody, time to get back."
To his thinkamancer the thought "Ensten, I hope Cirque has enough juice to ensure enough move to get us home. That was more in and out of the hex than I planned on."