The Noble Gases Chapter 21

By tadthornhill (Tipped by 2 people!)


 <--Chapter 20


 

For six turns the siege raged on. Well, limped on. Sir Aggravation was a master of his craft and lived up to his name. The Angle army threw everything they had against the walls of Gallopton, but every time they did it was clear there was a serious weakness in the place they were not attacking. Down through history, attacking the points and edges of your enemies’ weapons has always proven bad for morale, and Sir Aggravation was very, very bad for Angle morale indeed.

 

The only thing that kept the army together was the nightly concerts that Mistress Acute gave. Every day she would sing them into battle. Every night she would sing them to sleep and help them forget their losses and remind them of their successes. For as good as the city defense was, the city sally forces had no successes to match.

 

As aggravating as Sir Aggravation was, Prince Artha refused to bow to Gwalchmai’s requests to weaken the garrison force in any way to strengthen the sally force. That left Artha with only a few scouts and lancers along with his ever-present companion Gwalchmai. One by one, the Warhawks that Gwalchmai had brought with him were picked off. A few at a time, the scouts were croaked. Turn by turn the lancers reformed their stacks to be judged by the Titans. Only Artha and Gwalchmai were left, so Artha eventually gave up sallying and spent his turn staring glumly over the city walls. This was where Marilyn found him, idly catching poorly shot arrows.

 

Marilyn had been concerned about him on the road southeast, and she was worried now. It looked like it was time for The Talk. She was a Courtier, a Real One, thanks to him, and that meant Advisor too. He needed Advice.

 

“Highness?”

 

“Get down.” Artha snapped, “You’re the only Operator I’ve got, and if one of those arrows hits you, you might croak. Me, well, my Active Dodge is good enough to handle anything but a Crit from an infantry archer, and they don’t have any archer Knights. My Defense is so good that the most Damage those archers can do will only Incapacitate me. Sir Aggravation would probably complain about the use of Friar Tic’s juice, but…” He trailed off and broke the next arrow he caught in half. “Why are you here, anyway? The lancers don’t get here until next turn. Did something slow them down again?” It seems that the reserve group the Saxmen had left behind to guard their boats had gotten bored. The Lancers had to go a turn out of their way to take care of the destructive foraging they were doing. They hadn’t lost anyone, and a few units had leveled, but they had lost a turn.

 

Marilyn sat down safely behind a crenellation, “No, Highness, they’ll be here next turn. I’m here about something else.”

 

He slumped down one crenellation over and folded his arms. “What? Did those Saxmen interrupt Maria’s paper supplies or something, or do we have ink problems? Or is his majesty upset that we haven’t captured him a new rhyme-o-mancer yet?” King Utha really wanted that rhyme-o-mancer, and he wanted her alive.

 

Marilyn took a deep breath. It was hard to know what to say, but she had to talk, the words just wouldn’t stay inside. She just had to pick the right ones. This must be what Duty felt like as an Advisor. “I wouldn’t speak if I didn’t feel it was my place, Highness, I wouldn’t say anything if I didn’t feel it wasn't my Duty.” She said the last word so strongly that he turned to her and cocked an eye. Marilyn continued.

 

“I’m a courtier. There are lots of courtiers out there and lots of types of courtiers. I used to be a Bunny. Now I’m an Operator. I’m probably the first Operator ever; who knows, maybe they only way to get an Operator is to make an elite Bunny--and who would bother to make Elite Bunny? Who but you?” She wrinkled her nose and grinned at him.

 

“How did you know you’re the first Operator?” Artha sounded stunned.

 

“You're not the only one whose read ‘Cartright’s’.” She said with a grin. “Your father popped more Bunnies than he needed, and someone had to figure out how to manage them. But I’m not here about me, I’m here about you.” Marilyn tapped him lightly on the nose.

 

“Me? Why?” Now Artha sounded really confused.

 

“You’re a combat unit, and a wonderful one,” she said, smiling and taking his hand in hers. “But that’s not your Duty. Your Duty is Chief Warlord. And Chief Warlord means leading other people.” She smiled again at his startled look. “Like what you did with Sir Aggravation, inspiring him to do what you wanted instead of Ordering it. I’ve seen the way his brother deals with him, neither of them like each other, but both of them love you.”

 

Artha coughed. “I had no idea Sir Aggravation loved anything but planning defensive battles.”

 

“He loves you.” She said confidently. “Ask Caster Nimue. She can tell you in better words than I can, she knows the right words, the magic words, I just know what’s true.”

 

Artha laughed and shook his head, “No Marilyn. I don’t think she can tell me better than you just did. I really don’t.” He got up in a half-crouch, still protected by the crenellation. “Let’s go inside. You’ve done your Duty out here.”

 


 

 

Lute was not miserable. Not at all. For the last six turns he had played his lute while Mistress Acute sang, not once, but twice every turn. Every other unit was happy when he was playing too. Mistress Acute was happy because she got to sing battle songs and the other units were happy, they got to fight. Fighting was what they were popped for. But they kept losing. So, they were miserable when they weren’t fighting.

 

In the evening Mistress Acute sang songs to make them happy again. All the units were happy listening to her sing and watching her dance. Then they went to sleep, and it all started again. Right now, they were waiting for the locals to finish their turn, so they could attack.

 

“You’re failing again.” She was saying to Prince Right.

 

“Shut up, witch.” He was never nice to her.

 

“I'd love to, but I can’t, Duty compels me to tell me you’re losing this war.” Mistress Acute was not very nice either.

 

 

“Oh? And I thought you were just insulting me for fun.” Prince Right poked the campfire bitterly.

 

“That too.” She got up and started pacing next to the fire, the swishing of her skirts stirring up sparks.

 

“Don’t burn yourself. You’re critical to this war—and you’re throwing sparks in my face.”

 

“How kind of you to care. Why do we even have a campfire in the middle of the turn, anyway?” Mistress Acute stopped pacing and stared at the prince with her hands on her hips.

 

“Campfires are supposed to be good for morale.” Prince Right said sullenly.

 

Mistress Acute opened her mouth wide, “You don’t even know what you’re doing!” she screamed, “You’re just doing things because they’re the ‘Noble’ or the ‘Right’ way. The Prince in that city isn’t guiding this siege, we already know what a failure he is at that, he couldn’t even hold a level 5 capital for one turn when we started a real attack. He just got lucky that reinforcements showed up with a trick. He's letting some other knight guide this siege. So should you!” She spun around, her arms crossed.

 

Prince Right looked up at her back, his eyes slitted, “Who should I pick? You? Sir Obtuse?”

 

“Warlord Obtuse is a wonderful fighter, but he's not too sharp. Even Lute over there could come up with a better plan than him.” She said without turning around.

 

And then Prince Right was staring at Lute. “What's your idea?” Prince Right, heir to King Kurt and chief warlord of the Angles had just Ordered his lute player to come up with a battle plan.

 

“Um-um-" Lute stammered.

 

“Well?” Prince Right Ordered again, his voice full of menace.

 

“Go ahead Lute, go ahead and tell him.” Mistress Acute said, “If you’re smart enough to switch Duties once, you can do it again.”

 

“Um, we’ve been attacking where we think they’re weakest.” Lute began.

 

“Yes, of course, basic tactics.” Prince Right snapped.

 

“But they’ve been lying to us, pretending to be weak where they’re not; so, we hit where they’re strongest and we lose.  We should attack where we're strongest instead and let them catch up. They might be sort of strong there, but if our strongest isn’t better than their sort of strong then we're going to lose anyway.” Lute wrung his hands and looked into the fire as he spoke. He was not a military advisor. He was not supposed to be doing this. But he had an Order. What else could he do?

 

Lute waited for a moment, but no one said anything and he didn’t get more Orders, so he looked up. Prince Right and Mistress Acute were staring at him, their mouths open as if they were Incapacitated. Then, seeing Lute looking back up him, Prince Right stood up and spoke.

 

“Where we're strongest. OK, fine, we'll go with that.” All units assemble, came the mass order. “We're going to fight this LOUD.”

 

Prince Right stood stacked with Mistress Acute and Lute in front of the assembled Angle army. Mistress Acute would not get to sing until the other side ended turn, but he could talk while they waited.

 

“When my father, King Kurt, of the Angles, was popped, what did the neighboring ambassador tell him?”

 

“You suck!” Their King’s battle cry went up from the lips of hundreds of units.

 

“When he laid siege to his first town and demanded surrender, what did they say.”

 

Again, “You suck!”

 

“When he led his army for his first great battle as Chief Warlord of the Angles, what did his opponent think of him?”

 

The troops grew louder, “You Suck!”

 

Prince Right was beginning to understand why his father had kept such a ridiculous battle cry. “When King Kurt offered his first royal alliance, what foolish reason was given for turning it down?”

 

“You Suck!”

 

“What are we going to tell those cowardly mice, hiding in their city?”

 

“YOU SUCK!”

 

“For six turns we have fought this battle their way, we have probed and pulsed, we have gone back and forth. Now!” He paused for the dramatic effect specifically prescribed by Signamancer Cay Toe, “We fight it our way! We Fight it Loud!”

 

The assembled troops began drumming on their shield as one, unbidden. The Saxmen were not the only Side who could use natural Rhyme-o-Mancy in battle. Then, across the hex, came a horn, the sound of the enemy’s cavalry finally showing up to battle. The Angle drumming started to falter.

 

“No Matter!” Bellowed Prince Right, “This just means that our own cavalry will get to fight this turn.”

 

There was a loud huzzah--especially from the cavalry--who had had no real part of the siege thus far.

 

“They will add the drumming of their mounts’ hooves to the drumming of your shields!”

 

Then something that Prince Right could not understand happened--The Prytain turn ended, before they even attacked. It was their turn, they could attack. It was a trick. It didn’t matter. He’d got his army started. He was going to keep them going.

 

“Do you feel that? The Titans have confused our enemy! Let’s take that gate! And let’s fight it loud! Mistress Acute, Begin.” And she did.

 

Get this fight off right

And let your swords sing

Make their status ‘Deaf’

With ev’ry sword swing

Get this fight off right

As long as I sing

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

Come on, let’s fight it loud, can’t hear a booping sound

You know they’re croaking now

That’s how we’ll put them down

Now start the dance-fight as it leads us to victory

Another turn and we can set all our foes croaking

The only thing on Erf that’s worth a thing to me

Let’s fight it loud, let’s fight it loud

 

Get this fight off right

And let your swords sing

Make their status ‘Deaf’

With ev’ry sword swing

Get this fight off right

As long as I sing

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

Thunder in the ground, the way the mounts run

Fight this fight with sound until the turn’s done

Get this fight off right

Let’s get this fight won

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

You know I fight it loud

No other way allowed

You know I fight it loud

That’s how we’ll put them down

Swords up, pikes up, bows up

Raise your clubs up, spears up, get up

up-up-up-up-up-up-up-up

 

Now start the dance-fight as it leads us to victory

Another turn and we can set all our foes croaking

The only thing on Erf that’s worth a thing to me

Let’s fight it loud, let’s fight it loud

 

Now start the dance-fight as it leads us to victory

Another turn and we can set all our foes croaking

The only thing on Erf that’s worth a thing to me

Let’s fight it loud, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

You know I fight it loud

No other way allowed

You know I fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

Get this fight off right

And let your swords sing

Make their status ‘Deaf’

With ev’ry sword swing

Get this fight off right

As long as I sing

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 

Thunder in the ground, the way the mounts run

Fight this fight with sound until the turn’s done

Get this fight off right

And let your swords sing

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

Yeah, let’s fight it loud

Let’s fight it loud

 


 

 

HRH ARTHA: WHAT ON ERF ARE YOU DOING FATHER, ENDING TURN EARLY, LIKE THIS?

 

HRM UTHA: ASK MY CHIEF WARLORD. HE PUT SIR AGGRAVATION IN CHARGE OF GALLOPTON DEFENSE AND SIR AGG ASKED ME TO END TURN EARLY—SO I DID.

 

surprisedfrownsurprisedfrownsurprised

 

SON, I HAVE FAITH IN YOUR INSTINCTS. YOU KNOW HOW TO PICK PEOPLE IF YOU THINK SIR AGGRAVATION WAS WRONG, GO ASK HIM.

 


 

 

Sir Krypton: Disband it, Aggravation! What is this this mount plop nonsense, ending turn without giving us a chance to attack?

 

Sir Aggravation: This is a siege battle and as siege defensive expert I am in general command. It’s a defensive gambit.

 

What do you disbanding mean, defensive gambit?!?

 

While the walls are between us and them each side can end turn without leaving the hex. Now that we have units on both sides of the walls, they will have to take the hex entirely or leave it. If they attack you, we can attack them; if they attack us you can attack them. Either way they’ll be attacked from behind.

 

A @#$% pincer?!? You’ve wasted half a turn for a pincer setup?

 

It is strategically sound.

 

Titans protect us from all half-popped armchair strategists. Let me have Lord Xenon explain it to you; he, at least, can do it without swearing every sentence.

 

Xe: Their objective is to take the Tower of Song. They will not waste their time on attacking us. They will simply devote the minimum force necessary to prevent us from interfering with their objective. Our presence has, as you said, made their attack more desperate. They will attack more furiously. If we try to charge them, their cavalry, who have been sitting out this siege, will cut us up.

 

What do you mean?

 

Kr: Has every high-level warlord in this peace-cursed kingdom besides Prince Artha been given Special (Crippling Overspecialization)? That cavalry of theirs is titans-cursed useless at siege attack, so they had the sense not to use it. Even being a third our size they can still disrupt a light cavalry charge.

 

Please elucidate on “Special (Crippling Overspecialization)”.

 

Kr: ‘elucidate’, oh yes, I’ll ‘elucidate’, oh yes indeed, you single-edged sword.

The late ‘lamented’ James Ewell was as bad as you are about reacting to change. Only Artha uses his disbanded wits. You’ve done your Duty here, but with only one turn to prepare, he held off two Hellabound full-strength armies for half a turn with one knight, a stack of lancers, and an understrength garrison. He took a disbanding useless serving Courtier and turned it into an incredibly useful communications Courtier. He got you to defend this Titans-blasted city immediately instead of delaying, researching, and preparing until this Titans-cursed, twoll-nookie, cluster of huts you call Gallopton was already taken. Every Hellabound unit he runs across he uses to more than their abilities. Now, go tell him you're sorry for playing with his toys a half turn too long and beg him to take them away from you and keep the Angles from putting ‘X’s in your eye-sockets and making the Titans decide which end of the Box to throw your sorry excuse of a unit in! Now, move, unit!

 


 

 

Cooper was talking and Oggie was listening. It had kept him alive this long, so he felt like doing it as long as he could.

 

“Our tactics here are going too be a lot like Upswitch.” Cooper unsnapped one side of his hat and snapped the other with a jaunty motion. “The only difference is, this time we're doing it to win instead of just to get away.”

 

“What's the plan?” Oggie asked looking out at the Angle army and thinking about his one stack of lancers. Along the way south they had picked up a few more stacks of infantry, but they were still nowhere near the size of the Angle forces. He had gotten a look at the numbers that Artha had in the city, and together they had slightly more, but they couldn’t really attack together. The Angles were one army. And they had that Rhyme-o-mancer.

 

“Attack as soon as we make hex: throw those infantry stacks into the meat grinder as a distraction and pick off the edges of the enemy army. Then, while they’re distracted fighting us, the garrison gets out of the city and engages. When they turn to engage Artha's units we slash into them. When we distract them, their defense goes down and Artha pushes harder. Back and forth, we chew them up.”

 

“But the King ended turn early.”

 

“Aaand that’s why Viscount Krypton is so upset. Now he has to come up with a battle plan on the fly. That means he has to use some of Lord Xenon’s historical research—and he hates that. Wait, I think they’ve got something.” Warlord Cooper suddenly stopped speaking and sat his saddle at attention. Oggie hastily followed his lead. The Noble Gases were coming over with Operator Marie trailing behind and Viscount Krypton didn’t look happy.

 

“Based on the disbanded ‘plans’ of the half-popped knight Prince Artha put in command of city defense, our own plans have changed somewhat.” Viscount Krypton spat out. “Instead of getting a full attack before they hit the city, we’ve got to hit them while they’re hitting the city. Fortunately, we have Marie here and Marilyn inside to coordinate actions, so we and Artha can salvage this rear-nookie of a situation.” Viscount Krypton was definitely not happy.

 

Lord Xenon touched him lightly on the shoulder and took over as the Viscount stepped back and scowled with his arms crossed. “From conversations we have had with the three group leaders you will all be given largely independent commands during this battle.” Cooper, Rhonda, and Holly all smiled at that.

 

He turned to the first of the three commanders. “War Lady Holly, your skills are best used against other cavalry. You will take your group and keep their cavalry off of us—or chew them to pieces—as Fate wills it. If you are completely successful assist War Lady Rhonda as your Duty directs.”

 

“War Lady Rhonda, your group gets the entire mission that our entire army originally planned.” He continued, “This is of course, not possible, even for one of your skill. While your preferred tactic is Incapacitate and Decapacitate, with the size of our opponent's army—well--as Sir Helium would say, ‘Just leg ‘em and leave ‘em, we can clean up later’.” She nodded at this and started tapping her fists together lightly.

 

Lord Xenon turned to Cooper and Oggie. “Cooper, you will be directing your stacks to assist the two war ladies as needs be. Help them out when they slow down and pull back when they are getting more successful. Unfortunately for you, they will be getting more XP from this battle with all the disengages this requires, but the flexibility needed by a reserve group is critical.” Cooper nodded solemnly at this. Duty was Duty, after all, and victory was more important than levels.

 

“Oggie, you will be returning to your original orders from the King. Keep your stack with me and the infantry to guard Operator Marie. Her communication ability will be critical during this battle.” Xenon turned to Oggie who was startled to realize that he was being spoken to. Then, seeing a response was needed, he saluted sharply, wishing he had been assigned one of the attacking groups.

 

“The rest of my brothers will be in the battle leading a dance fight to soften the effects of their Rhyme-o-mancer.” Xenon concluded.

 

“And may the Titans bless us all.” Sir Helium added. For once he seemed entirely serious.

 

“Enough talking.” Viscount Krypton said, “Time to go give Lady Croak her due.” They all shared grips and broke up to take their places for the battle ahead.

 

The battle began the way both sides intended and proceeded the way neither desired. With Mistress Acute's latest song, the tempers of the Angle units were raised to a fever pitch. The gates of Gallopton fell almost immediately once the Angles focused on them instead of the tricks and feints that Sir Aggravation had been offering. Then Artha and Gwalchmai stood in the gates and held. And held. And held. Every unit Prince Right threw against them was turned into XP, either by them or the spearmen around them.

 

War Lady Holly was able to tie up the Angle cavalry with no difficulty, but the two sides were so evenly matched and so tangled there was no order to engagement at all. Occasionally, small knots of Angle riders would form, and Cooper would send a stack of lancers over to disperse them. Keeping the Angles from overwhelming Holly was more important than helping Holly overwhelm the Angles. He had to save stacks for Rhonda.

 

She was fulfilling her Duty as best she could, but she simply didn’t have the numbers to do it. Short, slashing attacks at the edges of the Angle force kept their attention partially unfocused, though, and slowed the croaking of the infantry in the center. Every time Prince Right or Warlord Obtuse sent a few stacks of pikers to stop her, Cooper sent over some of the reserves to chew into the side of the piker unit. The battle stayed static. But the Angles were slowly winning the numbers game—and the Rhyme-o-Mancy game.

 

At first Lord Xenon had been directing the reserves, but Mistress Acute’s singing was so powerful that his brothers were overwhelmed without him. He left command of the reserves of in Cooper’s hands and went into battle with them. This made the battle more even; wherever they went, their dance-fighting kept things even and quelled her song. Where ever they weren’t, things were--less even. Her singing was balancing out Holly and Rhonda's leadership, Cooper's planning, and the Noble Gases skill--and more. Meanwhile, Oggie was stuck watching, watching everything, and protecting Marie from enemies that were too busy to attack her.

 

There is a natural ebb and flow to all great battles, moments when the commanders will step back from the line to take stock and take a breath. One of these moments happened, and Mistress Acute was resting her voice. Marie and Marilyn were furiously scribbling notes back and forth as Artha and Xenon tried to figure out how they could coordinate their actions instead of merely fighting the same enemy on the same field.

 

Cooper took a swig of water. The last lance he sent out needed his leadership bonus, so he went out with them and dealt—and picked up--his first hits of the battle. “Hard pounding, this, sir knights.” He said.

 

“We will see who pounds longest.” Count Neon replied, nodding. Meanwhile, on the field, each side’s commander had individual stacks making probing attacks and withdrawals, more testing reactions than making actual engagements.

 

“All I’ve gotten to do is watch.” Oggie complained.

 

“You’re doing your Duty.” Count Neon replied, “Your king ordered you to guard Marie. She hasn't croaked or even taken a Hit.  She hasn’t even made an engagement. You’ve been successful.”

 

“But all I’ve done is watch.” Oggie turned his mount in a small circle.

 

“Watch, hmm? What have you seen?” Lord Xenon asked, riding over.

 

“The battle is matched. Nothing is moving, one way or another.”

 

“But what have you seen?” Count Neon emphasized the last word oddly.

 

Oggie thought for a while and then answered again. “The battle is matched. But they outnumber us some, so if we keep on fighting then eventually, they’ll outnumber us a lot. But our special advantages are spread out: Prince Artha, Warlords Cooper, Rhonda, and Holly, the city walls, you knights--all they have is their warlord and their rhyme-o-mancer.  So, while we’re getting weaker little by little, if they lose one of those two, they lose big.”

 

“Disbanding excellent, you were watching.” Viscount Krypton said, coming up, “Now, how the croak do we sing our way out of this croaking situation?”

 

“That song of hers is too powerful for anyone to fight directly,” Duke Argon said, coming up, “No-one has the skill with rhyme-o-mancy to fight it off except us, and we’re too busy singing just enough strength into everyone else.”

 

Oggie closed his eyes and thought, and then it came to him. “I can do it.” He said softly, “I know how. We can all do it together.”

 

“How?” Every set of eyes spun in his direction.

 

“While you’re singing strength into us you can sing a song that I’m familiar with, something I’ve heard. That will make it easier for me to fight off her dance-fighting.”

 

Duke Argon shook his head sadly, “Rhyme-o-mancy doesn’t work like that. It isn’t like Hits or Defense that’s just as strong the next turn as it was the turn before. It’s--odd; it gets--weaker with use.” He scratched his neck. “Rhyme-o-mancy gets weaker as you get used to it, as you grow accustomed to it.  Eventually, it becomes just words.”

 

“Well, what if you sing the first song you ever sang?” Oggie asked excitedly, “Not something I’ve heard, but something when you were closer to my level, it might mean more. And there can’t be more than a couple of stacks of units left that remember you singing it, so it won’t have gotten tired out.

 

Viscount Krypton laughed harshly, “A couple of stacks? There’s not even a full stack that heard that song. What about it, boys, ‘Will of the Titans’?”

 

They all nodded, and then from the field, the voice of Mistress Acute came rising once again.

 

“OK, break’s over.” Viscount Krypton said, “Marie, get Artha to insult the enemy warlord until that minus level Foolamancer attacks the gate himself. You, you, and you,” he pointed at three random warlords, “Your stacks guard Operator Marie. She croaks, worse happens to you.  Think about the worst thing you can--then think about the worst thing I can. Rhonda, your group pulls the left to the left, Cooper, pull the right to the right, Holly swing the cavalry in circles. We’ll go down the middle--hard--with what’s left of the infantry. On three, when the enemy gets stupid.”

 

From across the field they heard Artha’s voice rise over Mistress Acute’s, “Hey! Prince Right! You half-staff pike, you wet-stringed bow, you soft-walled city, how about you stop sending your units to meet the Titans and come face me yourself, you coward!” Prince Artha continued with some of the most imaginative abuse that any of them had ever heard him use until they saw Prince Right throw a book he was holding at the warlord next to him and ride forward.

 

Viscount Krypton drew his sword and waved it forward, “One, two, three, Argon?”

 

And Duke Argon sang them forward:

 

Rising up, stand on your feet

Just got popped for a battle

Got your arms, you’ve got a foeman to beat

Just a unit who lives for the fight

 

Then in the fray, you fight and lose track

Your orders fall to your passion

Don't lose your focus, keep your mind on your stack

As you fight just to prove you’re alive

 

It's the Will of the Titans

It's the thrill of the fight

As you follow ev’ry order of your Ruler

Stab and slash with your weapons

‘Til your foeman takes flight

Only then do you follow the Will of the Titans

 

Blade to blade, out in the field

Fighting Knights, fighting Heavies

They stack the odds, still we stand and don’t yield

For the fight with the right to survive

 

It's the Will of the Titans

It's the thrill of the fight

As you follow ev’ry order of your Ruler

Stab and slash with your weapons

‘Til your foeman takes flight

Only then do you follow the Will of the Titans

 

Leveled up; not just fresh-popped

Got the croaks, got the glory

Got promoted, now I'm not gonna stop

Just a warlord who lives for the fight

 

It's the Will of the Titans

It's the thrill of the fight

As I follow ev’ry order of my Ruler

Stab and slash with my weapons

‘Til my foeman takes flight

Only then do I follow the Will of the Titans

 

They went about their appointed tasks, Holly racing off to the left into another mess and Rhonda peeling off more slowly behind her. Cooper copied to the right and the enemy started reacting as predicted. Then when Krypton sent the infantry into the thinning horde, the Angle army separated and the knights and Oggie’s one stack of lancers went right down the middle, cutting through the distracted army like the edge of a sword.

 

Like the edge of a sword through hard leather armor. Every blow struck; every blow advanced, but no blow got all the way through. It was effort, it was fighting, it was battle. Oggie couldn’t allow his stack to get stuck, so he had to keep them moving. Every time a lancer slowed, he was ordered to withdraw and charge again. They had practiced with him, they trusted him, and they responded as well as the lance in his own hands, so he got closer and closer to the enemy rhyme-o-mancer.

 

And as they got closer, his lancers began to miss the rhythms the Noble Gases were singing and fall into the rhythms the enemy caster was. As they fell into them, they fell and didn’t rise again and Oggie moved forwards more slowly. Eventually, there was only him and Wild Tom, their lances long since broken, the two of them slashing with their sabers to their sides, desperately keeping each other alive and in time.

 

And then there was only Oggie, flailing to the left and the right just to stay alive, but the rhyme-o-mancer was finally there in front of him. Her song pounded out fiercely, filling the air, filling his lungs, grabbing his heart like a fist. He knew he had no Numbers left to attack her or any combat unit around him.  The charge he just made and the lives of his stack were wasted. And then he suddenly realized that the mount she sat was no combat unit.

 

There comes the occasional moment in a unit’s life when the Titans grant them a rare moment of Predictamancy. A feeling when they realize that the next blow they throw is going to Crit. Oggie had that feeling now. Instead of taking the mount’s head off with one swing of his saber as he could have, he thought back to the death of James Ewell and threw himself at the side of the mount, knocking it over. Then he--and it--landed square on the caster’s leg.

 

All Erf stilled for him as he heard a quiet *snap* underneath the mount and saw the caster’s status change to (Incapacitated). Then, instead of the powerful song she was singing, the only thing from her mouth was a tortured scream --and then silence. A silence a silence as momentous as the beginning of an avalanche in a mountain hex.

 

Everyone turned to see what caused the silence and the scream. Then a shudder ran through the Angle Army. A shudder, and a Motion. Slowly at first, and then more and more quickly, the army broke, and took flight. Soon, the thunder of battle had been replaced by the thunder of a fleeing army, their dropped shields and helmets and weapons making it too much of a trip hazard for the tired and depleted lancers to go chasing after them. They had done their Duty anyway; the battle was won; the siege was broken. There was only one unit attacking the city of Gallopton.

 

Prince Right stared after his fleeing army leaving the hex at full Move, his duel with Prince Artha forgotten for the moment. His invasion had been going so well, and then everything had gone so wrong. How did it happen? What had that witch done to him? From behind him he heard Prince Artha’s voice.

 

“I remember you arguing with the Saxmen commander over which of you would get my XP. With all of my units you’ve sent to the Titans, I’ll bet you’ve got plenty to give me.” With two quick strokes Artha found out, and Prince Right’s invasion was over.


 Chapter 22-->


Notes

Let's Fight it Loud is to I Like It Loud by Cash Cash

Will of the Titans is to Eye of the Tiger by Journey

 

Coming up with Viscount Krypton's rough language was really tough at first.