Part 18: Rolling ThunderTried Age of Wonders III. Writing and facial designs aside, it seems a fun, if unforgiving game. The fact that, depending on movement, an archer unit might fire three times, as well as taking into account the retaliation mechanics, your units can get wiped pretty fast. Then again, most of them seem to only gain levels, and not abilities or transform into better units, so that's something, I guess. Seeing boars charge into castle gates is hilarious while teleporting elven unicorn cavalry is a fun (scary, even) idea that's a huge FUCK YOU to castles.
Hope somebody will do Endless Legend LP once it's fully out. Like with many 4x games, I find it more fun as an LP (especially if done in the vein of GalCiv II and Jagged Alliance II LPs) than as game itself. Plus, I guess with forum SA-nsibilities, magic that's literally misunderstood tech would probably go really well.
Fallout downloaded, will see if GOG put enough effort into it to make it work. I really appreciate what they did with the series when it was supposed to be removed from the site.
Chapter 17: Rolling Thunder
...a lady of somewhat suspect upbringing, claiming the undead as her birthright. Unfortunately, we are at war
One day, someone needs to get a sage to explain this whole 'mage communication' thing. But at the present... at war?
Amberon wasn't as kind as to share a plane with the lady, so I had to do something. Coulnd't allow myself to get boxed in dreary small shard. I have claims to enforce, balls to attend...
...cities to flood with undead masses. Luckily enough, my elves didn't forget their martial trade in my absence. And the shard we clashed on isn't really suited for skeletons and zombies. Lands of life have a detrimental effect, even without the rampant wines
I hope this doesn't turn out into an another Miralbus-Sol affair
Oh, I think it's going quite well. I even have a fotress to secure my bridgehead
Terrible state of affairs, to be fighting in the face of a greater common threat I now know better than that!
I hope you do. I see your lands have suffered Espritster's attentions, too
Mmm, yes, that is what happened. A terrible calamity, spawned worship of the Krypta aspect. I have enough favor to raise armies upon armies of skeletons, but I see no need
"This machine is a real flying fortress which has everything you need to establish and maintain Order of Dauros on vast uncharted territories. It includes a stronghold of Order, correctional hotel, temple of Dauros and, of course, powerful and lethal armament."
(from "Chronicles of New Worlds" written by Master Vardies Teleran)
By the way, would you happen to know anything about some of your subjects flying away in a huge metal ship? It is quite impressive, the floating ziggurat, even if the propulsion system seems a little... primitive in comparison to elven ship
Haven't seen anything of the sort. All of my Svarts are groundpounders, so to speak. Axes and runes are all they bring to the battlefield. The machinery does wonders back home, though
I suspected as much. The ship doesn't fly any banners and doesn't seem to be doing anything much. So odd
Very well. If it pleases you, you may establish embassies and offices in Lichwald. The name is fitting, even if it's coincidental. It used to be Mallacir's outpost on the shard. She does try to take it back, but I'm sure your envoys will be safe
I'll make diplomatic arrangements, just to be sure
Oh, please do. This isn't your war in any way
Yes, I am quite capable of handling the elf myself
Unfortunately, Elspritster's haphazard spell shooting made for some unpleasant terrain... sometimes strategically so
King Lich didn't really want to answer that, especially when he had to deal with a realm that was half lava, half terrible demons.
...and now, part gold dragon bones, too.
Somehow, Ashwind Dale made a world where ground oozed death and spectres flew about clawing faces and harmlessly passing through axes a more desirable assigment.
Some more time in these undead marshes and I'll get undead marsh foot
Careful! If they cut it off, it might reanimate itself. Happened to a spoiled chicken I threw out yesterday
I'd say that it's still better than the dead faces in the water
When Lichanium was built near the first temple grounds to be found, it was a foregone conclusion that a temple to Krolm would rise there. Anyone who didn't think so were persuaded by giant axes and bulging bicepses.
As soon as the word was given, barbarians started collecting bones and skins of fierce beasts, as well hard rocks to build the temple. Some even hunted demonwood, the most evil and likely to kill you source of wood. After that, there was much feasting and drinking.
A week passed, and barbarians got to work, easily shifting massive boulders around, lifting logs while grunting and hammering nails with their bare hands.
Finally it was completed, the second grandest building in the realm, and certainly the one most drenched in blood, sweat and mead.
My lord, the fury and muscles of Krolm serve me well. See these Elite Guard?
I can take their armor and mobilize Krolm's babarbarians to beat it into plates more suitable to our purposes. More fire, more muscle! The great spit in the temple is perfect for it!
After some truly titanic effort, I can fashion somethinh... somegthing of a metal Svart. A GIANT metal Svart! A giant metal Svart inscribed with runes of magic and Krolm! And with an Inscrutable Engine as its fiery heart!
And while I'm working, the Elite Guard fight for the right to pilot it! They fight, and I collect their blood and sweat, and mix it with steel...
The winner is selected to be the Princeps, for he is the principal Svart! I then connect him to the metal man... I'm not even sure how I do it, I just do... and out emerges...
"Only the most worthy of Honourable Svarts have the opportunity to become drivers of the machines called Exemplars of Strength. These cutting edge devices are the finest examples of unsurpassed Svart technology. They are Svart-looking giant robots capable of breaking through a fortress wall or killing a dragon with one stroke of their iron fists."
(from "Chronicles of New Worlds" written by Master Vardies Teleran)
...an Exemplar of Strength! Truly this is the greatest feat of Svart engineering and religious practices! No enemy will withstand it! No more will they tower over us instead, they'll cower in our shadow!
I will crush those that stand before me!
Sadly, there aren't any good Exemplar of Strength loading screen shots on the web and I've deleted mine, and I haven't managed to make one spawn in about 15 loads on Warlock. In an unrelated note, I'd totally play Protectorate of Menoth due to my religious leanings, but I really don't fancy Warmachine and their color coded faction magic
The ground trembled every other heart beat The sound echoed louder with each beat, and haunted your soul as if doom was approaching And then I saw it towering in the sky, still miles away. The fear and awe one felt was indescribable. I can only image the sheer terror our enemy felt when they beheld the sight of the Exemplar of Strength
Truly it was an impressive sight: entire companies of Elite Guard replaced by Exemplars, each piloted by a worthy Svart (and envied by companions that he bested to get the post). Barbarians worked day and night, tirelessly making machine after machine that got teleported to the battlefield to receive their commander.
Such power would soon be needed, as various beast, not content to sit in their own shards, started spilling over the gates. Tormentors meant even more trouble than fire elementals.
The small elven settlement stood no chance against the Exemplar. Alone, it could have kicked away or just charged over the walls. However, it was aided by wrath of Krolm, and an ephemeral axe plunged from the sky, destroying the main gate and the barracks, before disappearing into nothingness.
I am Krolm incarnate!
Of course, the city didn't survive it and its people were sent to the one existing Elven settlement.
Even ogres were matched by the unrelenting strength and drive of Exemaplars. Unofficially, there was a bet going on who will knock an ogre's head off with one swoop.
A great map was laid out on a table in the rarely used planning room. Such establishments are more useful to mortal rulers who can't survey their domain by magic means. But this time, the map was special: every discovered shard had been marked on a reproduction of the discovered Strider map.
Experience has shown great mage shards are, concidentally, dead ends, leading to one other shard. So that rules out Burounts, Fading, Amberon's Outland and, Mallacir's Deadmeadows. Maganid is the shard those two are fighting for, and I'm not putting much faith in Ozeron. With Silentium pratically explored, there's one likely option
It would stand to reason. After all, we are on legendary quest and legendary always arduous
Of course. Well, we haven't tested the Exemplars against the tormentors yet... Good thing we have one milling about, not surrounded by friends and lava
"The history of the Halberdiers' Trade Union began after the Great King marched north and disappeared form the realm of Ardania. When the wars of the Troubles began, the guards who were left to protect the castles of the King and his nobles suddenly realized they were the only remaining representatives of authority -- that they alone formed the line between the protection and plundering of royal property. Of course, the guards couldn't maintain this delecate position indefinitely, and after they were driven from the castles, they gathered in a tavern for the first Union meeting in history.
The result of this first meeting was the decision to institute the free guards guild, which would be known as Halberdhall. The guild would offer its services to whoever could afford to pay for them. The idea proved a succes: today, Halberdhall is one of the most esteemed guilds in Ardania; it's wealth and reputation have been so flourished that Halbardiers would be unlikely to return the King's service, in the case of his less-than-entirely-probable return. -- And definitely not for the wages they used to be paid."
-From "The Overall Description of Everything" by Master Alfus Bumblegate.
Strange to see Amberon employing humans... expensive human mercenaries, at that
There was one reason why it was possible to enchant weapons with both fire and flame: early mages did a lot of fighting against fire and ice elementals and having a sword for one or other occasion was really wasteful.
Some Svarts were better than the others when it came to handling the Exemplars. As such, they could manage some miraculous feats of speed and maneuverability.
As it would in the wilderness, such speed was very, very useful when saving comrades not enclosed in tonne upon tonne of metal armor.
The sudden appearance of vampires immature vampires was mostly blamed on books. Or, more likely, on the idea that children should read books, which lead to parents spending money on books, which in turn lead to some Svarts coming up with the idea to write books specifically for children. Those were horrible more often than not, encouraging, among other things, romances with immature vampires.
Luckily enough, an arrow is basically a wooden stake you project out of reach of a vampire.
Unlucky was the fact that sir Hugue was not nearly ready to take on Tormentors.
The merchant spy network informed that Amberon's native plain was quite pleasant and somewhat untouched by spell ravages, except for large bodies of water. But even those weren't a hassle since elves took up boating with gusto.
I walk into battle to unleash the wailing doom!
Examplars had a peculiar set of collapsible axes that, in conjunction with certain design features, allowed the machine to spin, creating a vortex of blades and slashing anything that came nearby.
For example, it easily turned two ogres into mincemeat at once.
Progress was much slower on Ashwind Dale, where Wolves spotted more Tormentors and dragons while on the hunt for heretics of Grum-Gog.
On the homefront, however, it was announced that there should be a hunt for demonwood. Nobody questioned the wisdom of hunting a tree, so King Lich had little else to do but declare the hunt.
Exemplar, freshly fallen when a Tormentor spell managed to find purchase in his armor, was teleported back to the capital and had his Svart revived. Soon, it would join the hunt!
What is this junk? Why only a shoulder strap? I have more armor than that
I take you weren't a part of the expedition
No, sir, we were sired after they established Vampirium... We were hangers-on, joined the baggage train when they passed us. Not much to do on our shards, and not really safe. Our master felt that something was up, and that it wouldn't end well... That's why he sent us away
I see... Well, I'm glad to see that their memory lives with you still. Serve me well and I'll treat you well
With a mighty blow, the Examplar shattered the demonwood, making a lot of people shout 'hurrah' and a few go 'ow' as splinters got into their unprotected eyes.
Ice circle was a good spell to use in aid of the Wolves, who were immune to the cold, but still appreciated the cooler air that came with it.
Also, seeing icicles form in a shard of lava was always pleasing to mage.
I suspect there's a story behind these bows, but I can't say anything for sure. Well, we can't use them now, so no danger in that
Sir Hugue was traveling in Ashwind Dale under a spell of invisibility (having invisible heroes didn't really help public appearances or drives for support, but King Lich never did that anyway). This, however, didn't really help against the heat, and the knight was helpful for the element warding spells.
The archers of Grum-Gog had the back luck of running into Cecinia. As any adept of Agrela, she hated Grum-Gog and his followers with a passion, since they were the ones that spread pestilence and dirt wherever they went.
But in Ashwind Dale, the putrefying bits of their corpses burt into clean, clean ash.
This pleased Krolm a lot, and his favor was bestowed on King Lich.
And Cecinia was avarded Star of Medicine for her effort in improving the lot of peasants everywhere, which, as always, meant fighting Grum-Gog and his minions.
Fiends! Get ready to taste steel!
King Lich accepted the alliance, mostly because he found the financial ruination of Krel to be amusing. The undead monarch was heard saying 'some kingpin he turned out to be'.
And most of his soldiers seemed to be concentrated in jungles on Long Shores, suffering from malaria and other pleasures of, well, jungles.
Amberon was doing somewhat better. But not much better: one his companies managed to drive forward real far, resulting in a breakthrough. However, the lack of follow-up resulted in it being quickly extinguished, even if they managed to see the spire of Mallacir's tower.
While it was still questionable how ghost sailors managed to fish out a spell our of serpent reef, it was undeniable that they did.
While I bet that the explanation how these trolls fit into a hermit hut is really interesting, I would like to tell you that if you find, say, goblins, just leave them there