Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 2) - A Man O War session Report from KublaCon 2006

(See my previous post for Part 1)


It was at this point I used a viewscope to peer across the sea at the high towers of the Black Ark. I could see a figure in the forecastle, motioning to the heavens, while the wind whipped his long black hair around his face. “Black Magic” I muttered and for the briefest of moments the wind went deathly still on the entire seascape. For a moment I thought the Dark Elf wizard may have succeeded in turning the ocean into a Sea of Glass, but there was a brilliant implosion of yellow light and the winds immediately picked back up again. Whether our wizard had had anything to do with the spell’s failure or the Dark Necromancer had simply failed to harness the flow of the magic ether, I shall never know.

Turning the viewscope towards the decks of the Royal Sceptor, I could see the brilliant Jade robe of our magician and much closer than I had the Dark Necromancer. He was obviously casting a spell and he thrust his hands into a basket of serpents and pulled out two handfuls of the irate creatures. They bit and coiled around his hands and arms and suddenly he hurled them out towards the Black Ark. “Serpents of Doom, of course!” I thought. He was trying to entangle the Ark from moving or attacking but again I saw a flash of light and the spell dissipated harmlessly across the waves. So much for the powers of our wizards!

Hearing the launch of rockets was a sound I was becoming all too familiar with and my attention was drawn back to the Thunderfire Battlebarge as at least 10 rockets again raced towards our mighty Imperial Greatship. “Mercy from the Gods!” I cried out, as surely this would be the last I would see of Admiral Sigmar and the brave crew of the ‘Sceptor’. Just a single shot would have been enough to nearly cause a mutiny, but the men held fast and not a single man left his post. It was obvious that there was a lot of damage and I could count 4 more areas that were in critical shape. A blaze broke out miships and I could tell that there was some below the waterline damage now as well. To my dismay, I could see the men rapidly turning the ship to port for some reason that was not yet clear. As the bow came into view again, I could see someone in the water…along with all the navigation maps… Ye Gods! It was Admiral Sigmar! Curse those foul Dwarfs!

I was incensed at this point and I ordered my squadron into action again. Moving in perfect unison, all three Wolfships went after the Chaos Dwarf fleet. Off to starboard the Wolfship Justice rammed another Hull Destroyer, again sinking a smaller ship of the line in a single blow. Maneuvering closer, we let loose a broadside volley into the nearest Hull Destroyer at close range, blasting a massive hole in the hull where it had been hit earlier. This critical damage was all the ship could take and it plummeted out of our sight with appreciated haste. To port, the Wolfship Alliance’s single broadside volley was ineffective on the Thunder-roller that had been in its sights.

Across the sea on the opposite side of the battle, the Dark Elf Death Fortress had recovered from the earlier Dragonship attack and the giant Sea Dragon was goaded into attacking the High Elf ship that had nearly destroyed it. Reaper batteries launched several waves of the iron tipped barbs at the vulnerable Dragonship and it was quite clear that one of the fore, as well as a broadside Eagle Claw had been lost.

Seizing an opportunity as the battle raged on around them, the squadron of Dwarf Monitors turned into the path of the Black Ark itself! Say what you will about our stunted allies, but they are some of the bravest I’ve seen yet. As the threat of the Monitors became evident, the Black Ark immediately began to shimmer and waver on the sea like an oasis in the desert. “More dark magic” I said to no one in particular. Targeting a ship under those conditions would be tough and 2 of the Monitors completely missed their mark, while the 3rd one hit the massive stone hull of the wretched thing, doing no damage at all.

Not wasting a moment, the Black Ark ominously moved in between two of the Monitors, its Reaper batteries firing at any and all available targets. As it slid forward into place, it seemingly turned in place, ignoring the natural laws of momentum and physics. It was if it was being held by a gigantic magical hand that could turn he ship as desired, the swell of the waters surrounding the Ark pushing the puny Monitors around at will. It was a sight that will haunt me for the rest of my days. One of the Monitors took a direct hit on the bow and there was no doubt that the objects falling into the sea were Dwarf bodies. I must say that those Monitors are tough ships as I saw the 2nd take several direct hits from the magical Reapers, yet no damage was sustained. I would think twice about ever taking the ‘Endeavor’ up against one.

From the front of the Ark still more Reaper batteries were ready to fire. Dead ahead was the Dwarf fleet’s flagship, the mighty Dreadnought - Hammer of the Sea. Something must have gone wrong as the Reapers did not fire and the Dreadnought sailed by unscathed.

The battle raged on all around me and there were numerous things that I failed to see in the thick of the fight. I looked past the Ark to see the Majestic Elf Dragonship unfurl its sails and leap forward across the waves. The sun caught the enchanted metal of the Dragonblades and I could see their brilliance quite easily from the opposite side of the battle. I had never seen a ship move so quickly across the sea yet the crew was calm and disciplined, as if the events unfolding around them were everyday occurrences. With a quic, unexpected turn, the Dragonship veered into the path of a Dark Elf Doomreaver. “That is suicidal!” I called out yet the sleek craft didn’t deviate an inch and collided with the terrible creature. What happened next is something I still don’t believe, as the Dragonship barely slowed down as it cleaved the beast and ship in half. One moment it was there… and the next there was a spray of blood as the giant beast split in two. The Dragonship headed towards the 2nd Doomreaver and I expected its fate to be the same as its former companions. This time however, the Dragonship lurched to a halt as the blades failed to find their target. Immediately, the Elf crews were fighting the Doomreaver in a twisted version of a boarding action. Fate was unkind that day as one by one the Elf crew was slaughtered, leaving the mighty Dragonship abandoned and vulnerable. My worst fears were coming true.

Before I could even process the loss of such a magnificent vessel, I again saw the sky ignite as the Great Leveller targeted the Hell-hammers bearing down on it. Again, the gods were kind to us as the shot fell behind the fleet, killing all aquatic life in the blast radius.

The high Elves were not going to give up the Dragonship with out a fight and immediately the nearby Hawkships raced across the sea to engage the remaining Doomreavers. Only 1 of the 6 total Eagle Claw attacks managed to do any damage however and the Doomreaver thrashed about in agony as the shot hit home.

Back to port, the gigantic Sea Dragon and Ironclad were still locked in a death struggle to which there could only be one victor. Each time the Dragon reared back it’s head, you knew that it could be the last of the Ironclad as the corrosive fire did it’s deadly work. Amazingly, the Ironclad stood fast from the attacks but I did notice another fire had broken out in the bow.

Sensing an opportune moment, the Captain of the Dreadnought turned the mighty metallic ship into the gap between the Sea Dragon and the Ark itself, firing all broadsides and turrets at these two foes. Nary a shot hit the dreaded beast as it thrashed about by the ironclad, but all 4 were successful against the Ominous Black Ark! One shot caused a huge chunk of stone to splinter and fall into the sea and we could see the sea rushing in to fill the gap! To the rear of the Ark, the giant portal that allows the Doomreavers and Death Fortresses to enter the Ark was now a twister, burning hulk of black metal, useless for a long while to come. Several Reaper batteries were also destroyed from the looks of things; all in all, the Dreadnought may have turned the tide of battle right then and there.

Having never seen a Floating Necropolis before, I must say that its size was every bit as large as the portion of a Black Ark that is above the water. Seeing it move with such ease and precision was unnerving and took some convincing by my senses towards my brain. The Necropolis had a weapon the likes I hope I never encounter again – the Screaming Skull catapults. These catapults fire lead filled human skulls that have been enchanted to scream as they tear through the air causing many to panic and flee. Over the next few minutes, that very thought occurred to me several times.

The first volley of 3 ended up falling through 3 decks and tore two holes in the hull and we began to take on water – though not enough to threaten us going under. We thought we’d be safe for a moment but some foul magic must have allowed them to immediately fire at us again but fate was kind as none of the 2nd volley had any effect on the ship.

Seizing an opportune moment, our Hell-hammers retaliated immediately against the Necropolis, firing at close range at the monstrous ship. The shots appeared to be direct hits but did no damage as the ships bulkheads appeared to be re-enforced and the heavy shots bounced harmlessly off the sides.

As if to drive home the apparent futility of attacking the Undead fleet, an Undead Ghostship materialized out of thin air and launched it’s screaming skull catapults at one of the Dwarf Monitors in range. The magical shots ran right through the tough armor and went clean through the hull, sinking the smaller vessel with just a single shot! “Damn you all to hell!” I shouted at them across the waves. But ironically, they all already were.

Admiral Sigmar’s Greatship at this point was heavily damaged and I half expected him to pull the ship to the rear of the battle where we could help protect it. He would have none of it however and gave the order to engage the enemy again. With only one working broadside of cannons left, the Royal Scepter headed directly at the Thunderfire Battlebarge yet kept a Thunder-roller in sight for its cannon attack. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Not only were they still attacking, but they meant to BOARD the Battlebarge if they could survive long enough! Unfortunately, the Thunder-roller took no damage from the cannon attack and I prayed that the Greatship would last long enough to make a difference in the battle.

The near miss of the Greatship’s cannon attack stirred the Thunder-roller into action. Swinging in a wide turn to port, the vessel closed on Captain Hooker’s Wolfship, Justice. She took a direct hit in the bows, and a large chuck of the forecastle fell into the sea, carrying several cannons and their crew with it.

My attention was drawn away again to the aft of my ship where the death struggle of the Ironclad and Sea Dragon continued as it had for the entire battle. I could not imagine the terror the Dwarf crew must be feeling as they fought the foul beast from the depths of the sea for their very lives. Just then, another shot exploded out of the front cannon turret and hit the Sea Dragon directly in the chest at point blank range! That must have done it in! I thought, but against all reason and logic the beast fought on, bleeding profusely all over the hull of the Ironclad as it continued to attack.

The battle had ranged on for some time and already our nerves were frazzled and frayed beyond the limits of what men should have to endure, yet no reprieve was in sight. I wondered if we had already seen the worst and hoped that little by little, the horrors filling my unbelieving eyes would soon dissipate. It was folly to think such thoughts, as I immediately discovered.

The Undead fleet thus far had consisted of the gigantic Necropolis, the Ghostship and a small squadron of Deathships that were no larger than our own Hell-Hammers. There had been another smaller ship off by itself, but it was really only a barge of some kind with two small towers, not even large enough to hold a single catapult. I hadn’t even thought of it as a threat. I could not have been more wrong.

With a storm of dancing green lighting bolts arcing across the bow of the ship and the cackling of 10,000 dead souls in my ears, the barge seemed to come to life. I believe my heart must have stopped for several beats when I saw the terrifying vision that appeared at the front of the vessel. Lit with an unholy green light, a large skull the size of my SHIP materialized over the barge, a giant grinning Specter that looked directly into MY eyes, following my every move as I tried to avoid its terrible gaze. It was not after the fleet… it was not after any other ship… it was after ME!

I am ashamed to say that I nearly froze in place and cowered on the deck of the Endeavor, but only the thoughts of my family and friends back home gave me the courage to continue to fight. This Undead Specter was more than most men could handle, of that I was sure. I worried how others would react once they saw it.

On the eastern edge of the fight, the High Elf Eagleship came alongside the abandoned Dragonship, sending over several squads of men to re-crew her, leaving just one the Eagleship herself.

Losing the Dragonship, the Dark Elves attacked again with the Doomreavers, the first a boarding action against the lesser manned Eagleship that wounded the horrific creature before driving it back. The 2nd Doomreaver came alongside the Eagleship and was goaded into a frenzy by its keepers and trainers high in the tower of the ship it pulled. The beast must have went completely mad as suddenly it turned and headed back against the nearby Ghostship, attacking it instead and killing a crew from it’s multiple claw and biting attacks. The Elf crews on both the Eagleship and Dragonship rallied and cheered as it attacked on of its own.

Forgotten by nearly everyone in the fray, the lone Nautilus then surfaced at point blank range next to the Floating Necropolis, unnoticed by its damned crews and too close to be attacked by the screaming skull catapults. The single cannon mounted on the turret at the top of the ship, fired directly at the nearest tower and destroyed it completely!

Recent events seemed to indicating that perhaps we were winning the battle at this point, in time, but there was still plenty of fight left in the fleets of the Damned, and I only could pray that we would all live to see another sunrise.

End of Part 2.

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