Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Crossing at Still Water

Vampire Counts (Tim) vs Skaven (Mike)

The townsfolk of Still Water were subdued, eyeing the horizon cautiously and looking up leaded windows in the high tower of the market hall for some sign that the spotter had seen enemies approach. This had gone on for days. They new danger was approaching – they could feel it – but when it was going to arrive they had no clue.

Then the call went out from the southern spotter. The Skaven were coming: a gigantic chittering horde of them. The townspeople gathered up the children. They fled for their secret hideouts. Then the call went out from the northern spotter. It was worse than they’d imagined. The zombies were coming: a vast shambling army of unliving dead-eyed corpses. They were caught between the hordes and there was nothing they could do but hide and wait.

The Skaven reached the village first. The forces of the vampire counts had one objective: to break through to Fortress malefic and take back their stronghold. Still Water was their best crossing point and it was the best chance the Skaven had to stop their advance. Hoping to force the undead legion to have to fight in the river the Skaven deployed as close to the water’s edge as they could, their forces covering all the ground from the watchtower on the village boundary right up to the village itself.

Within their hidden cover holes the village folk watched fearfully. The zombies were coming closer. Parents held sweating hands over their children’s mouths. Any sound at this point would expose them all. The Skaven had to believe the outpost was deserted. And then there was no more need for quiet. The undead arrived!

It was immediately clear that the Skaven had made an error in judgment. Their forces were too focused on the western end of town. There was a gap in their blockade near to the graveyard and the undead exploited it. Utilising preternatural cunning, Spheric, the vampire general, the ordered his largest unit of zombies to take a holding position in the centre of the village at the river crossing while the rest of his forces crashed into the water and scrambled through the shallows. He and his vampires summoned more zombies from the recent dead and through them into battle against the ratmen, holding them in place to give his shambling forces time to cross.

The Skaven were far faster than he anticipated however. They rapidly redeployed, crossing the river and racing into position, and charging up the lane into town hoping to cut the undead off. Clanrats led by Frostclaw, the Skaven general, ripped into the zombies that had been placed to prevent their overrunning attack, outflanking them and cutting them down rapidly.

But Spheric had all but banked on this. There was no end to the dead, no running out of zombie soldiers. There were there only to die. It mattered not at all how many were killed. What seemed like an overwhelming Skaven counterattack was just too little and too late. While the ratmen wasted their time on the zombies and struggled to circle round in time, the bulk of the undead army got across the river and shambled onward.

The Skaven blockade had failed. The undead were through. And there was only one thing on their minds: they were going to take back Fortress Malefic and then they would devour the corpses of every rat that they found there!

Pawing their way back across the fields towards the fortress, desperate to protect their prize, the Skaven left the village of Still Water empty. Allowing more time than was necessary to be sure, the villagers waited and then slowly emerged, looking after both withdrawing armies.

They had survived and their village had survived with them but how long would it be before their enemies returned?

As for the victory of the Vampire Counts. It was a victory also to them. The Skaven were far more dangerous to their existence. They hoped as the vampires did that the undead would take Fortress Malefic and drive the rat men out.

Only time now would tell if this would come to pass.

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