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Turn 2 - Awkward Conversations

 

Muirne was not looking forward to turn start. The distractions of last turn were no longer running rampant in her mind. While everyone had slept in the night she had stayed up with only her thoughts for company. Sadhbh seemed to be slowly taking to Fionn, which was a good thing. She was no date-a-mancer, but even she could see that they would work well together. Fionn was clearly itching to prove himself, it was written all over him. His father was the same, always looking for some new challenge either in the field or elsewhere. He would have liked Fionn, she was sure of it. But Kewal was a victim of his second great desire, women. She couldn’t help but tear up as she remembered her Rí. As dawn arrived she found herself huddled in her bedroll, unsure if she had slept at all or just forgot the world around her.

 

Sadhbh slept soundly, night time was the only time she felt truly safe. Sure she had no move, couldn’t run or flee and was often exposed to the worst of the elements. But no enemy could find and attack her. She was safe as shmuckers in the hands of a moneymancer. Dawn was a different story, dawn brought new troubles, dawn brought the harsh sunlight that made hiding so difficult. Getting out of bed before dawn and being ready for it’s intrusion and any enemies that might follow she ordered everyone up and awake. They had very little intel in the area and if their turn didn’t arrive at dawn it could make sure a big issue.

 

Fionn wasn’t sure he liked sleep, he definitely didn’t like waking up and especially by order from his regent. His dreams had had a strangeness to them, he dreamed he melted into a great pool of water and became a frog that leapt mountains and crushed entire sides while landing. Or did he crush himself? Or wait was it after becoming a toad he melted into water to escape being crushed by an opposing side? Was it a lesson to be learned, or “a sign” as Muirne might suggest? Fionn didn’t have time to think more on it as an unspoken order came in from Sadhbh. He crawled out of his tent and stood to greet the new day. He was barely finished stretching before Sadhbh was coming over to him.

 

“I don’t see what the big deal is, sun isn’t even fully up yet, turn won’t start for another while” said Fionn as he sauntered over to the pot that would spawn his food.

“Respectably, Rí Óg, someone else may have their turn before us, we are in the open with little intel of the surrounding area, there may be barbarians or Cronnaught forces nearby that would love nothing more than to croak you and end the side”. Sadhbh said, staying close to Fionn as they moved.

“Why do you call me that?”

“Call you what?”

“Rí Óg, that’s not my title, it’s not even the right term if my father was still alive” Fionn realised how petulant he sounded. But he didn’t like being ordered around by someone that should be his subordinate.

“You are a turn old, the side is in a precarious situation, Duty dictates I look after the side until you are shown to be reliable, you won’t be a true Rí until then. So Rí Óg is the best you’ll get from me” Sadhbh glanced down at the pot as food spawned, "eat your rations, turn has begun". Fionn looked at the rations before him, boar meat and bread, a hearty meal.

 

***

 

The turn continued most uneventfully. Sadhbh confirmed that the new units at Limestar were starting their travel to Waterfort. Three whole stacks of Stabbers, were now marching behind them somewhere and would arrive as they did. Next on the list were the Limestar scout specialist, individually they were less powerful than most knight class units, but their scouting ability had given Limestar a small edge of flexibility in the past when it came to scouting. Two stacks of them should pop next turn and after that one stack of coos. Grosslair had popped a stack of silkies (selkies are a mermaid/seal/human thing in Irish legend) this turn, they would take two or three turns to reach Waterford, depending on the sea. They would be able to fight in the river crossing at Waterfort, something that Fionn wanted to make use of.

 

Waterfort was a port city, like Grosslair, but it was popped next to a hex with a river running through it. Normally this would be no big issue, but the river didn’t have a bridge. This made it difficult for a lot of units to cross and for even more to fight in it. If the water was slow enough most units were fine, a few would have terrible luckamancy and take hits. If the river picked up speed then anything that wasn’t a heavy would be in trouble. Fighting in it would be tough even for those that were able to cross. If the river was truly rushing then only units with specials in water adaptation could survive or fight in it. The silkies had such a special. They would make short work of any unit in a river that was flooding, hopefully.

 

They marched through the lands at a slow pace. Every hex border was tense, Sadhbh scouted ahead every time to make sure it was clear. Their turn came with dawn so only a few other side's could have had units that act after their own. Mead, Cronnaught and barbarians would go before Limestar. It was unlikely that Munchster or Bluster would be in found in these parts, but you can never be too cautious. Fionn liked the waiting about as much as taking orders. He didn't even have enough ruler sense to tell what was happening to Sadhbh, she also neglected to take support.

“Archers and stabbers would just give me away” she had said with a smile the first time they crossed hexes.

 

“She'll be fine” said Muirne, suddenly appearing beside Fionn.

“Is that the predictamancy talking?” Asked Fionn.

“No just experience, Sadhbh was one of the best scouts even before being made a warlady. I would wager that fate has an eye on her. She won't croak while doing some simple hex scouting”. Muirne sounded so sure of herself.

“Can you make a prediction?”

“Not if you want me to finish my scrolls this turn… I must admit, I don't understand why you want this  spell.” She sounded like she doubted Fionn’s plans, no surprise there.

Fionn just smiled at her “Surely you know how important signamancy is? It shows all of Erf what we are inside.”

“So by making units look different you plan to... what?

“I plan on showing our enemy the beasts they have unleashed” the humour left Fionn's voice. “Our units will appear as ferocious as the mightiest war coo, we will crush them and leave them with a tale of fear to tell all, Limestar is a cornered beast, with great claws and teeth.”

 

Muirne may have wanted to say more, but Sadhbh chose the end of the sentence as the perfect time to return. The hex was clear, they would setup camp there now.

 

***

 

Turn 3 - Just travelling

 

This turn didn’t come at dawn. Everyone in the group was put on edge immediately. Muirne was especially so, which made sense for a hippiemancer. Being only an adept in signamancy and with no Flower Power to speak of meant that her ability to protect herself and others would be limited. Fionn on the other hand felt the need to prove himself eve more. He had popped with a spear as well as magic, only one of those had seen any use. In the end they needn't have worried. A stack of scouts ended up being engaged. They reported a single Cronnaught unit, now croaked, to Sadhbh.

 

Most likely it was a scout and croak unit. They are ordered to travel to a certain hex and if they croak on the way the ruler will know, it was a relatively expensive. But without a lookamancer or scout units in the area it was the best some sides could do. A few minutes after the report Sadhbh got a thinkagram. Apparently Medb, the Banríon (Queen) of Cronnaught, had decided to talk. Fionn didn’t know the contents of the call, it ended rather abruptly when Sadhbh loudly declared that Medb could “Sit on an elk’s antlers and swivel”. When asked she explained that Medb had made insane offer of alliance that would see Limestar paying for protection. When that was rejected she was made an offer to kill Fionn and turn to Cronnaught. That offer had solicited the colourful response.

 

After crossing a few hexes the group was greeted by a stack of four scouts, Diarmuid had sent them to meet the party before they arrived at WaterFort in order to give proper updates from the front. The furthest scouts were reporting an army moving their way. Numbers weren't completely accurate, but it looked like they were outnumbered almost two to one. However however they were definitely outclassed. The most recent report said they had five full stacks of knights and two full stacks of heavies. A stack of siege and five stacks of coo. They also had about a hundred units of assorted infantry. In honesty it wasn't an overwhelming force, but due to Limestar’s reduced resources it would be enough to take Waterfort in a straight siege. But Fionn wouldn't give them that.

 

At turns end they were two hexes away from Waterfort. The walls could clearly be seen from this distance and just how pitiful it was became apparent. The “wall” was little more than a stick and mud palisade that a stiff breeze could knock over. It would hold infantry on top, but little else. It was a death trap, easily breached and once cracked open the defenders would be on equal footing with their foe. The coming battle would be a slaughter, one was or another. Fionn intended to make sure Cronnaught suffered that defeat.