Author Topic: [Upcoming battle report] Battle in the Skies – Crystal Lotus vs. Devout  (Read 3732 times)

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
The outpost had been razed.

Over at the horizon, dark specks wheeled – a flock of unclean carrion birds, maybe. Illyris´ boots crunched on scorched earth and burnt timber, which flaked away into paper-thin ashes under her tread. Some of the ruins still smouldered, sending thin wisps of smoke into the clear desert air. The Elf stood on the rim of a splintered palisade and looked down on a circle of destruction. What walls still stood had been deliberately painted with smears of the defenders´ blood. The scrawl seemed random, but if one caught it in the corner of one´s eye, they – almost – seemed to form characters, imbued with hidden meaning. Along the smoking streets, the flayed corpses of Elves – some of them women and small children – hung impaled on crossed stakes. Beneath each of the horrid effigies, puddles of blood had collected and dried.The blades of defenders´ weapons – broken halberds, spearheads, longswords warped from the heat – stuck out of the raw flesh at bizarre angles.

Something about the scene irritated Illyris´mount. The Dragonbane had spread its leathery wings in imitation of a sea-skate, closely hugging the outcrop where it had landed. It snorted and made crooning noises, its reptilian head darting this way and that nervously. Illyris would have liked to dismiss it, blame the mount´s uneasiness on the smell of blood and smoke, but she knew she would be deceiving herself. Because she felt the same way.

For all its seeming randomness, there was a terrible, warped symmetry in that bloody tableau. One could imagine that each tortured corpse, each scrawled character was placed just so that it fulfilled some cosmic purpose, alien and unfathomable. There had been a hidden serenity beneath the frenzied slaughter. It tugged at the dark recesses of Illyris´ mind.  She felt it the same way one felt the gentle breeze on the fringes of a desert twister, knowing that if you did not resist it, it would suck you into the raging torrent of the center. There was a dark side to the Elven spirit, a source of melancholy and perverseness and acts of willful unpredictability. Only a thin veneer of civilisation and honour separated them from the depths of depravity that had pervaded Elven culture at the height of the Unnamed House´s reign. Illyris shivered. She felt herself aroused, against her will. Part of her revelled in the grisly picture set before her. She could almost taste the blood, hear the tortured screams. She felt alive, more alive than she had felt for decades.

Other Skyriders came up with tentative steps, their longswords drawn. The setting sun glinted off their armour. She was suddenly grateful for their presence, if only because they took her mind off the strange state of quiet that she had felt. She shook her head and tried to clear her thoughts. Maybe the apocalyptic cults spreading in the Elven cities were right. Maybe they lived in the last days. Better, perhaps, to indulge oneself in laced wine and lotus flower, live out one´s darkest fantasies and wait for the inevitable to happen.

Her fellow Riders were pale and withdrawn. They kept an impassive face – the life-long discipline of the scions of Elven nobility – but they could not hide the fact that they were shaken. There was fear and nausea lurking in the corners of their almond eyes. And maybe they felt a little of what she was feeling. No one spoke as they sheathed their swords. A glance and a slight sign of her hand sent them away. As one, they turned and walked toward their mounts. Illyris lingered for the fraction of a second, then pulled herself away.

There was weirdroot in her saddlebags. Suddenly Illyris craved a pipe. She wanted nothing more than to lose herself in the strange dreams of the narcotic weed, drown the unholy thrill she had felt, in a rush of colour and ecstatic visions. She felt the gaze of her comrades in her back and forced her hand away from the clasp, gripping the saddle horn with unnecessary firmness.Then she swung herself up into the saddle, back straight, all Elven noblewoman again. Her face did not betray her turmoil, a smooth mask of fair skin. It had served her well in the intrigues of the Crystal Court, and now it served her equally on the field of battle with her subordinates. She even put on a wistful half-smile, suggesting wry amusement, and watched the tiny signs on her men´s practiced masks: a mixture of revulsion and respect. Good.

The black specks were larger now. They moved with a strange, jerky motion. There was no mistaking them now for birds of any kind. As her moaning Dragonbane pushed off the rock and gained the updraught, she unhooked a crystal lens from her belt and held it to her eye. Through the magnifying glass, the shapes seemed monstrous, like bat-winged men with their lower bodies hacked off. The remnants of a spine and misshapen appendages dangled beneath them. Between the bat-fiends, a large, vaguely female-shaped mound of flesh glided on reptilian wings. It turned its venomous gaze toward her, and Illyris jerked the lens from her eye in terror. Suddenly, she felt cold and numb. She knew she should give the sign to attack, to spread out, but she could not move.

For in those burning eyes, she had seen – for the tiniest fraction of a moment – the heart of that awful symmetry, and it froze her to the core.


-----

I took up two challenges for the next weekend, of an unusual kind. Both battles are going to be fought at high altitude, between flyers only. The first will pit my flight of Sapphire House skyriders against Soulflayers and Demon Wings amongst canyons and tall spires of rock in the Lands of the Flame. The second will depict an encounter between a similar Jade House flight and Malovanti Swamp Goblin warriors mounted on Drones, beyond the highest treetops of the Fallen Land. All restrictions on army selection are waived (except for the obvious: that all have to be flyers!), and the tabletop will be assumed to be bottomless – i.e. there will be negative height bands below 0 and no ground level.

For the second game I will have the option of a Yellow Lotus-Eater mounted on a Flying Dragonbane, for which we shook a set of hybrid stats from our collective sleeve (insert random pun about "made up on the fly" here). Of course, the little yellow-eyed devils will be sure to drag along a Shaman mounted on a Drone in reply.

I´ll keep you updated!
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 03:30:34 PM by Horned Owl »
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Manic _Miner

  • Member Emeritus
  • *****
  • Posts: 1552
  • Karma: +56/-2
    • Four A miniatures
 Looking forward to seeing what forces you use in these games.How many of each troop type that is.Love the stories which you come up with too.They set the scene perfectly.

Offline Cirith

  • Full Member
  • **
  • Posts: 109
  • Karma: +4/-0
  • StygianBeach
Taking on a Soul Flayer is madness!!!

Looking forward to reading this report.
 
People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Thanks, guys! I´ll try to keep up stories and stuff to spice things up.

I just looked at the preliminary list, and I´ll be facing three (in words: three) Soulflayers. Yay! Ah well, no bailing out.
*whimper*
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."

Offline Horned Owl

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 368
  • Karma: +15/-0
  • Hoot!
Marius cancelled, so I didn´t get a sight of his Soulflayers, but I played the second scenario with Miriam as planned: http://forum54.oli.us/index.php/topic,6753.0.html

We´ll try to get a new date for the fight.
"How was I supposed to know he was an unarmed man? His back was to me."