Day 46 of the Iron Crown campaign.
The living were in constant retreat. After the loss of Small Haven and Athellia the judge, the last remnants of the 17th Legion were on a forced retreat march west.
The loss of the last human village fell heavily on them. Now the sole defense the living had was the mountain range of Smallhill where its caravans began their trek and docks send ships westward to the lands of Sanctuary, Wildriver Run and Queen’s Maul. Dwarven hammerers defended their strongholds with hammer, axe and shield and already some small packs of undead had assaulted the defences but thankfully got nowhere near the refugees the mountains protected.
Dwarven blunderbusses rang across the range as lead death flew towards the undead and laid them to rest.
With them were a handful of human magi who landed their magical skills to defend the holds, most of them apprentices who were told to flee while their masters died against the Blight.
Queen Morgana and her court-in-exile ruled from the human embassy in the dwarven capitol of Smallhill.
From there she rallied what forces she had for one final counter offensive, not to reclaim her lands but to save as many stragglers as possible so one day the Kingdom of Alestria would thrive once more. Sadly most of her army had died or deserted, which left her with the zealots known as the Children of Light.
The Children of the Light selflessly threw themselves on the undead hordes with what weaponry they had. Swords, lances, axes, pitchforks, shovels…they were as savage as the undead creatures they fought. Because of the blessing by the Cyclops priests, their souls went to the After and their bodies remained still, save when feasted upon by their rotting foes.
But their sacrifice gave enough time to send word to the remaining troops to rescue as many refugees before the passage into the mountain range would be sealed off.
One such group was the 17th Legion who managed to save one last farmhold before they headed west.
A small group of farmers, a cart and three oxen was their charge. A slow moving one and every day the men feared the dead would catch up to them.
When one of the men looked back, they saw nature behind them dying as the Blight spread faster than even their own rotting agents could catch up. Each race coped in it’s own way. The orcs were stoic, the humans prayed to their god and the elves collected the seed of every plant they could so it could be planted again later. The dwarves had another way of coping.
They made bets.
It was a ritual of sorts Before every major charge or shot, a bet would be made. A golden coin, a favour or one’s prized possession were put on the line for that one moment of glory. To be as eternal as the stone they were born out of.
One undead was struggling to move along the artillery blasted road, the ditches and puddles left behind by the shells made it harder for even one of the living to cross. Up ahead was what was left of the 17th Legion, a handful of swordsmen and dwarven riflemen, the rear of the forced exodus from Smallhaven and beyond since the orcs and elves always marched faster than any human or dwarf. The Grand Alliance between all six races of Alundria did not survive the retreat as the mentality of everyone for themselves took hold.
Mindlessly the Immortal slaved forward towards warm flesh as it’s fate was being discussed by two beings of higher intelligence.
“Bet you three to one you cant make the shot, Ve.” Vili said as he exhaled gray smoke from his pipe.
His older brother grumbled as he knocked the blunderbuss to his shoulder." I always make the best shots with cannons. Wind, friction and all that." He closed one eye and had the other looking through a visor. The face of the scrambling undead popped up." Blimey he’s a ugly one…reminds me of your girl." The bigger brother smirked to his younger sibling before he lined up the shot.
“Which one, got a dozen across Alundria.” Vili folded his arms as he raised his chin proudly, his red beard still looking nicely plated despite the lack of care given to it in the past two weeks.
“Farmyard animals don’t count.” Ve said. He then placed his finger on the trigger.
Vili moved closer." You are going to miss…" he said sing-song-e.
“I won’t…” Ve replied similar. He held his breath, lined it up one last time…and pulled the trigger.
The Marshall looked up from his map as the few birds around the men flew up into the air.
There was a tense moment before a laughing cheer went up.
"I KNEW IT! YOU MISSED! YOU MISSED! PAY IT UP, BROTHER!“
One of the men sighed annoyed before he turned to Marshal Raynor.” Bloody dwarves…"
The Marshall gave a weary nod and went back to his map as more dwarves ran over to congratulate the winner of the bet.