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.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 1) - A Man O War session Report from KublaCon 2006

(The following is a session report of my Man O War game run at KublaCon 2006 over Memorial Day weekend. I took notes throughout the game and have converted those notes into a narrative to tell the tale of the battle. Individual turns are marked with the **** and I’ve tried to keep events chronological for the most part. This report is expected to be spread out over several parts and I will attempt to complete it all as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it! Man O War is a naval miniature's game by Games Workshop and is set in the fantasy world of Warhammer. I have tried to capture some of the flavor of the game in this narrative. It should be mentioned that I was the moderator of the game and not a player - a role that is almost as much fun for me as playing!)

Field Report of Wilhelm Magnus III,
Captain of The Royal Endeavor, Flagship of Wolfship Squadron Franz
In the year of our Emperor, 2543, as told to the Royal Archivist, Leopold Bellinger.

Dead in the Water.

The ocean churned beneath my feet like the gullet of some immense beast in a digestive stupor, tossing both man and vessel about with equal ease. Anything man made and not lashed down would be thrown overboard in a matter of seconds and any man who let his mind wander for the briefest of moments would suffer the same fate. Unlike the cargo however, a man would have plenty of time to ponder his impending demise as the ship continued on with out him. The wind bit into my flesh like the spines of a sea urchin, chilling me to the bone as I stood at the helm of The Royal Endeavor. It was times like this that I was thankful for joining the Imperial Navy and I was bursting with pride to have been chosen for this particular mission. It was, indeed, another glorious day on the sea for the Emperor.

Having been under way from Altdorf for three and a half weeks already, my time to enjoy the above mentioned pleasantries of a long sea voyage would soon come to an end. Nearly a month ago the call for volunteers for an unknown mission with Vice Admiral Sigmar came down through the barracks and I immediately jumped at the chance - I was astonished - Sigmar! His glorious history with His Majesty’s fleet was quite well known and most of the men would be happy to just SEE the famous Greatship he commanded – The Royal Scepter, much less sail with her! We set sail under utmost secrecy immediately and began the long trek down the River Reik to the Sea of Claws. Once on the open waters, I expected to hear more of what our destination was and who our target was going to be. But for weeks, the Admiral was silent and reclusive, nary a word about our fate was told to his Lieutenant, and it had been only yesterday morning that the signal for a command meeting for that evening had been given. Last night’s dinner with the rest of the fleet command had been both a blessing and a curse, and up until the after dinner brandy, I had been thrilled to dine with Vice Admiral Sigmar as he filled the rest of us captains on where we were headed and what our mission was.

The news was shocking to say the least.

Over the past several months, merchant ships had been disappearing off of the coast of the Tilean Sea with alarming frequency. Normally, pirate raids from Sartosa were an expected part of the shipping business and usually the captains carried substantial bribe money to ensure their safe passage. Once pirate ships started to vanish however, word spread quickly to both Bretonnian as well as Imperial ears. His Majesty sent two squadrons of Wargalleys to patrol the shipping lanes provide some relief from the rogue bandits. All was quiet for several weeks until only two of the Wargalleys were found abandoned just 2 miles from the shores of Fool’s Point, with not a living soul aboard and no hint of their fate given.

The Emperor was both furious and yet perplexed as to what should be done, as attacking an Imperial Wargalley was an act of war and even the Pirates wouldn’t be so bold. How do you retaliate against an unknown aggressor?

It wasn’t until a week later that word came from the mighty Dwarf sea fortress of Barak Varr that the Emperor found out the truth and immediately jumped into action. That was when I had been recruited and last night when Admiral Sigmar finally told us of our suspected foe, my blood ran cold.

I’ll never forget the words he used. “When the water is black like the night, when the seas are flat and the winds are calm, the only ships that sail will be the Dead in the Water.” At first I thought he had misspoke, he must have meant “that all ships will be dead in the water.”, but then the meaning of his words hit me…he meant the Undead!

At once the room was in chaos as all of us tried to fathom what he was implying and many cries of disbelief and denial were heard, but Admiral Sigmar held fast and filled us in with all the evidence too gruesome to mention here. Suffice it to say that there was not one of us that slept well that night.

And here we are, less than an hour from the mouth of the Mortis River and the shores of Zandri and the Land of the Dead. Off to port, I can see the glint of metal low in the waves and I have an odd feeling of comfort knowing that support from the Dwarf fleet at Barak Varr has arrived yet it also makes me feel somewhat uneasy as it lends an air of credulity to the situation. The Dwarfs don’t ally easily which makes me think this situation is as grim as it sounds. On the other hand, our so-called Bretonnian allies declined to participate in this little escapade citing the lack of credible proof that the Undead, indeed, had again been seen in the Black Gulf and Great Ocean. I suppose that once a bony hand comes knocking on one of those foppish Bretonnian Lord’s castles, they’ll have all the proof they need.

As much as I wished that all this talk of the Dead was mere rumor and exaggeration, I knew in my heart that time was running out.

Our first sighting of Skull Island came at daybreak around 5:15am. There were no sounds on the sea, no birds, no fish, and no movement in the water. With the Royal Scepter dependant on the wind, both the Imperial and Dwarf fleets had slowed to accommodate her. As we closed, the wind picked up slightly allowing her to move at full speed as we closed on the massive rock formations jutting out of the water. Sometimes when a natural formation looks like something else, it takes on that name - though usually some explanation would be required to point out the similarities to the casual observer. Skull Island needed no such explanation – it looked EXACTLY like a huge skull resting on the seas. Its gaping mouth was at sea level and opened up into a deep cave that disappeared deep into the depths of stone and rock. To either side of Skull Island stood huge spires of black obsidian, rising out of the sea in unearthly formations. The water was covered with a thick grey fog that hung eerily in place, seemingly immune to the natural laws of nature as the wind blew past it.

Something was amiss.

(Turn 1)

Admiral Sigmar led the fleet into the small bay in front of Skull Island, closely followed by our Dwarf Allies. Our fleet consisted of the Imperial Greatship, The Royal Scepter, a Wolfship squadron under my command and a Hellhammer squadron in case we needed some serious firepower. Our bearded friends had brought along a massive Dreadnought, bristling with broadsides and turrets, another Man O War Class Ironclad, a squadron of Monitors and a lone Nautilus. Not much considering we had no idea what we were about to encounter, and with no word from the High Elves nor any help from the Bretonnians, we were hoping that whatever we did come across would be minimal at best. Just then, strange sound bellowed from our stern and suddenly, our world was turned upside down.

I’ll never forget that horrible sound that came from behind the fleet. The sea behind us boiled and steamed and a great beast rose from the depths. Like the screeching of a 1000 elephants being slaughtered, the war cry of the mighty Sea Dragon froze me in place as it came to the surface. Was this some Undead magic at work or had we merely passed over this creature’s territorial waters? Most of the Imperial fleet had passed over its lair already but the Dwarves were not so lucky. The great Sea Dragon began to swim towards the nearby Ironclad. May the Gods help those poor souls.

Any thoughts of this event being a mere accident were quickly dashed as several of the large fog banks suddenly disappeared revealing two sights almost as dreadful as the Sea Dragon – a Chaos Dwarf Thunderfire Battlebarge and a Great Leveller Battlebarge! Although I couldn’t see inside the Dwarf ships, I was sure that our allies would be spiting venom once they saw their hated cousins were again terrorizing the seas. Maybe the stories about the Undead were speculation after all!

Suddenly, the sky lit up like a thousand suns and an earth shattering roar echoed across the waves. The Great Leveller was pointed right at us! We’re doomed! Much to my surprise, the sea exploded far to starboard away from my squadron and in front of the Dwarf Dreadnought. I had heard stories of the Great Leveller from some of the veteran’s of the Imperial Navy. It fired a massive projectile that exploded on contact usually obliterating any ship caught in its massive fire arc. Luckily, the Leveller is prone to great deviation or even better, misfiring at crucial times, often destroying it or the ship completely. We had no reprieve as we advanced into range as the Thunderfire Battlebarge pivoted in place and took aim right at the Royal Scepter! There were only 2 rockets launched from its decks but only 1 hit the Greatship’s large forecastle, obliterating it into a thousand shards of wood. I could only pray that Admiral Sigmar had not been standing there moments before.


I wondered where our Wizard was during these initial moments. Shouldn’t he be doing something to help us? I could see no sign of him on the Royal Scepter and suddenly realized that it was possible we had lost by our command and our spellcaster in one fell swoop.

Another fogbank disappeared and suddenly we had 3 Chaos Dwarf Thunder-rollers being straight down on the fleet. Thunder-rollers only have a single bow mounted cannon and normally are not a big threat, but if you happen to be directly in their path as they use their Thunder-roller attack, you could be in some serious trouble. I looked up to see our Hellhammer squadron straight ahead of their incoming ships, watching in disbelief as the Thunder-rollers churned the water.

I barked out the order for ramming speed to my first mate and our Wolfship lurched forward in the water as the men pulled the oars with a vengeance. These Chaos Dwarfs were about to taste some sweet revenge for attacking the Admiral – Wolfship style! Our very own Royal Endeavor’s mighty ram head bit into the thin hull of the Thunder-roller with ease, shattering the cross-supports and allowing the sea to rush in and quickly fill the hull. In mere seconds it was beneath the waves, its crew in the water trying to grab something to stay afloat. Without a 2nd thought we bore down on them and drove them under the bow. The other 2 Wolfships in our squadron were unable to ram and the Chaos Dwarfs managed to stay out of their broadside fire arcs for the moment much to the frustration of Captain’s Hooker and Midden.

Sensing opportunity, the Thunder-rollers closed into our fleet and attacked the Wolfship Alliance, with 4 attacks, 2 of which caused any damage. The 2nd Thunder-roller made a last second turn towards our Greatship and made a single cannon attack that punched a perfect round hole through the sails and we could hear the cheers of her crew from as far away as we were. The last of the Thunder-rollers ineffectually ran into the Wolfship Justice, much to our amazement!

As the smoke cleared on the Royal Scepter, my spirits soared as I could see the brilliant blue uniform of Admiral Sigmar on the stern of the ship, giving the order to fire the starboard cannons. The 3 broadside attack merely did cosmetic damage to the nearest Thunder-roller but it lifted the men’s spirits none the less.

Another series of brilliant flashes appeared on the Thunderfire decks as 8 more rockets took off and crashed onto the decks of the Royal Scepter. Curses! How could that thing have reloaded so quickly? The mighty Greatship was not so lucky this time as 4 of the rockets appeared to do major damage, one being a critical hit that started a fire.

My attention was drawn to aft as I heard the mighty turreted cannons of the Dreadnought fire upon the Sea Dragon that was almost upon the smaller Ironclad. Their aim was true as the great beast bellowed in agony as it took several wounds before finally reaching the Ironclad. While we watched transfixed as the beast descended upon the Dwarf ship, again the sky lit up like the very furnaces of hell itself and I knew that the Great Leveller had again fired. It appeared to be still aiming at our Wolfship squadron but again the shot deviated far from our ships. I was wondering how long our luck would hold out.

As the mighty Sea Dragon reared its massive head back to attack, the Ironclad’s front turret was able to get off a single shot in an attempt to drive the foul beast away. With all the confusion and chaos, the shot was wide and the crew waited momentarily for the coming inferno. With a great screech, the beast open it’s gaping mouth and a vile liquid spewed forth, igniting instantly as it came in contact with the air. The bow of the ship took the brunt of the attack and I’m sure no one was surprised to see it ablaze as the beast’s head swayed to and fro.

The Captain of the lead Hell-hammer gave the order to fire at close range to the nearest Hull Destroyer and the massive cannonball literally blew the Hull-destroyer out of the water. From my observations, that already was two Chaos Dwarf ships sent to the bottom and we hadn’t lost any!

Some of our Dwarf friends disappeared beneath the sea as the strange looking Nautilus submerged under the seas, only it’s small periscope visible to the untrained eye. I could see the underwater trail of one of the Clockwork torpedo’s as it left the Nautilus and headed towards the Great Thunderfire Battlebarge. My hope that the torpedo would bite home and send them to the deep depths were quickly dashed as the torpedo cut through the water to the rear of the ship’s stern… so close!

Suddenly I heard cheering and shouts and several crews of nearby Imperial ships were pointing to the south east. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was an Elf fleet from Ulthuan coming to our aid in our moment of need! I could see a squadron of Hawkships on the horizon and further east was an Eagleship! We might survive this day after all!

Our good fortune quickly turned to doom as one of the most terrifying sites you will ever see appeared out of the mist... an Undead Floating Necropolis! I had only heard stories of such ships when I was but a small child. A Floating Necropolis is a small city afloat, a repository of all that is unholy and evil. I now knew where all the missing crews had ended up from those earlier merchant attacks – no doubt they were now aboard the Necropolis, serving their new lord without any life coursing through their dilapidated bodies. I had friends on some of those ships… would I encounter any of them in the next few hours? It was a thought much too painful to consider. The Necropolis seemed to eerily float across the waves as it went directly into the wind and towards the High Elf fleet. Definitely, not a good sign.

Again, I heard cheering and far off could see the unmistakable outline of a High Elf Dragonship. Impossible! Dragonships are seldom seen at sea and even then they are only sent in times of war as no more can be built with the loss of the great Starwood forests from which they were made. I wondered if the stories of the great Dragonblades mounted on the twin catamaran hulls were true – was it actually possible to slice right through an enemy’s ship? I may get a chance see that for myself!

When the Great Black Ark of Naggaroth appeared, I thought I might actually go mad. It was nearly too much to take in at once and the maze of spells protecting it made me grimace in pain whenever I even as much as looked its way. This was insane. How could our small fleet of ships destroy this unholy alliance? My courage was shaken to its very core and I wondered (not for the first time of the day) if I would even see the sun set that night.

Apparently the Dwarf fleet was also concerned with these new developments as the Monitor squadron closed directly onto the Black Ark! Either they were very brave or very stupid. As each ship fired its single cannon, none of the attacks made it though the maze of spells as the Ark appeared distorted and misplaced to the crews of the Monitors.

From behind the Black Ark came another foul creature, a Dark Elf Death Fortress. Picture a Sea Dragon that is carrying a large castle strapped to its back and you’ll have some idea of what these incredibly large creatures look like. It quickly swam towards the nearest Hawkship and unleased its Reaper batteries against it. Although hitting the small and frail Hawkship 3 times, no damage was sustained and the Hawkship sailed on.

The Dwarf Monitor squadron fired upon the Black Ark as it had begun to head right at them and there were hopes of a lucky shot or two taking the foul ship down in a flash of burning glory. Unfortunately, not a single shot hit home, as some of the crews were confused by the protection spell and other successful attacks were just ineffectual against the Dark Elf armor.

Seeking revenge, the Black Ark sailed boldly into the middle of the Dwarf fleet as if to taunt them. “Here I Am” it seems to say, “Come and make what efforts you think you can.” All 4 shots against the Monitors hit their targets, but the heavy armor of the ships proved to be too much for the Reaper Batteries and once again, things appeared to be going our way.

Under any other circumstances, it would be a magnificent sight to see an actual Dragonship at sea. Today was an exception. I didn’t want my only memory of one to be that of it going down in a hail of enemy fire. I hoped all would go our way and my spirits lifted as the Dragonship attacked the nearby Death Fortress, nearly killing the crew that controls and trains the great beasts themselves.

To be continued...