Things went alright, for a while. Yes, it was bloody, and yes, it was terrifying, but things were going alright.
Burkar looked about at the end of the first phase, the fifteen seconds or so that every commander got to give an orders before the next lot of carnage began automatically. There wasn't much he could change in fifteen seconds. They'd stacked up, marched to the walls, and started stabbing. The walls were of fairly basic design - a mound of dirt, with wooden stakes on top. They gave those inside a bonus in defence, but it did not seem to be making much of a difference. The Gnomes had inflicted 43 wounds, and taken 48 in response. Acceptable casualties. Good casualties, even. The Giants had taken almost one third casualties. They still had more attacks in total. Have to keep going.
That first round was awful, Daire thought. Have to do better. Have to be better. Have to set an example. He swung his balde with an extra level of vigour. And it seemed to work.
"Come on, lads! Give them heck!"
The second round came to its lull. Clanna Dedad, 43 wounds inflicted, The Crafters, 26. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Both sides down to about 50% of starting strength.
Burkar called out encouragement this phase, but it didn't seem to do anything. Well, it distracted Garlezo long enough for him to take a Clanna battleaxe in the skull and croak on the spot.
Third round, over. Clanna Dedad, 33 wounds dished out - Crafters, 16.
"This is not going well." Burkar consulted his internal loyalty score. Titan's aglets! Not quite there. Both sides were down to almost a third of their starting hits, but neither side was at the break point.
"Let's go! They've got to be close. They've got to break!" Burkar hurled himself back into the fray, his wounded and damaged horde following.
Every blow was doing damage, now. Daire was an angry titan of blood, and every swing of his blade brought righteous vengeance on these otherwise quite polite gnomes.
The rest of his troops seemed to feel it as well. This was all very one sided. Even one of the Sin Mac got in a good hit.
The Ogre got a bit too excited and fell through the wall, landing on top of half a stack of Gnomes. The others readied their weapons, but had already spent their attack for the phase.
A glorious phase! A phase that made you feel like fighting forever! This was why the Titans made the Erf!
Then Daire looked at his opponents, scattered on the field, bleeding, screaming, dying. Perhaps not.
Burkar took his fifteen seconds, and lifted his hands. "Disengage. Fall back"
Round four was done. Clanna Dedad had inflicted 24 hits. The Gnomes: 3.
Less than 10% of his sides attacks had inflicted a wound.
If that wasn't a sign, what was?
His units pulled back from the wall. Those who couldn't fall back due to being under an Ogre lifted their hands to indicate they were not engaging, except for unnamed Gnome 26, who lifted a foot, his hands being otherwise occupied with Ogre belly.
Burkar turned to the city, and looked for the Warlord on the wall. "What terms will you give me?"
"Terms?" Daire seemed surprised. "I don't know. I've never done this before. What do you want?"
Burkar spat blood on the grass. "I want these gnomes spared. Don't cwoak prisoners. You can cwoak me, if you like. You might be close to levelling. I think our ruler will pay for a prisoner exchange, but I can't promise anything."
Burkar threw his weapon to the ground, and lifted his hands in front of him. The shackles formed.
The rest of the Gnomes did the same. The battle was over.
Daire stepped down through the gap the Ogre had made, and walked over to Burkar. He bent down and picked up his prisoner's sword. "I accept your surrender. And I won't croak you without orders. Tend to your wounded."
He walked away, then turned back. "I was going to say that it is good war is so terrible, but I think it is probably just terrible."