A Generals arrogance and the death of an army
Of the Grudge war between High Elf and Dwarf fought in time past
A thick haze of dust hung over the Old World as the unmistakable sound of an army on the march - metal on metal, creaking wheels, horses and the endless thud of boots on soil – rang through the air. After endless months of campaigning against the Dwarves, the army of Ulthuan was returning to its winter quarters on the Eastern shores of the Black Gulf and the Great Ocean. It was an army bloodied and scarred by numerous skirmishes and a single major battle [Read Battle Report] that had sapped both its strength and its morale. Eight months prior it had marched out from its encampment, its commander Prince Rantheon proudly leading it forth atop his dragon Kisath. Now it sullenly returned, struggling through the winter snows that were deepening by the hour while its commander waited impatiently in the warmth of his quarters having left the army weeks earlier.
No longer a single coherent force the army had been divided, its columns split by numerous Dwarven attacks and the need to chase down enemy scouts and raiding parties, and leave small garrison units at key strategic positions. What divided it more though was the animosity between its two principle commanders Prince Rantheon whose family were related (loosely it might be added) to the Royal family, and Lord Hethronus. Rantheon's open disdain for those he considered beneath him, Hethronus in particular, had alienated large portions of the army. His decision to leave the army before the worst of the winter snows hit was preceded by a bitter argument between the two Elves that nearly led to drawn swords. Now weeks later Lord Hethronus burning with impotent anger struggled through the snows, leading an army whose discipline and willingness to fight had departed with their Prince's dragon. With thoughts only of warm clean beds the marching columns flanks were not protected by scouts and it walked easily into the Dwarven throng blocking its path home.
Shouting a series of hurried orders Hethronus cajoled those units within command into some semblance of order. Spear armed citizen levies and archers flanked by Phoenix Guard and White Lions moved into ranks and marched forward. Bolt-throwers took up positions on both flanks and a regiment of Caledorian Dragon Princes galloped quickly to one flank looking to maneuver around the Dwarven battle line.
The deployment did not go smoothly though. Blinded by snow and by his desire to cut Prince Rantheon’s head from his arrogant bastard shoulders Lord Hethronus paid little attention to how and where his troops were being deployed. Archmages accompanying his command group argued in vain for him to hold back while their magic took its toll on the Dwarfs. But despite their protestations the principle units of the army ranked up and marched straight at the waiting Dwarfs, Hethronus himself taking up position with the White Lions.
Soon Elven magic began to light up the sky, dark energies crackled over the heads of the Dwarfs and the first Elven units began to trade missile fire with their Dwarven foes. Only a few spells were getting through though. The Archmages redoubled their efforts as their magically attuned senses heard the unmistakable sound of a Dwarven Runelord bashing his hammer on an Anvil of Doom.
More Elves began to fall as the advance continued, and the Archmages could only watch in horror as Lord Hethronus led his White Lions in a screaming charge at a huge regiment of Dwarven Ironbreakers. Like an armored mountain it waited stoically absorbing the impact of the charge and soon they and the White Lions were locked in a deadly seesaw combat that would last long into the day. To the Archmages left Dwarven artillery cut down those few Swordmasters who had made it to the battlefield, and dozens of archers were now little more than bloody piles on the snowy ground. Suddenly a huge explosion rocked the battlefield and magical flames coursed over the Dwarven army as its General, Runelord and his Anvil of Doom exploded in a ball of fire.
Far to the left the Caledorian Cavalry which had expected an easy run around the rear of the Dwarven line was confronted by the sight of hordes of naked orange painted Dwarfs. Thinking little of them the two forces soon met head to head and in a swirling combat the Caledorians charge was halted. The few remaining Swordmasters who had somehow survived the fierce Dwarven missile fire now charged that same artillery. Filled with vengeful fury and the hatred the characterized this long conflict they cut a bloody path through the Dwarven artillery crews. Cannon and Organ Gun were to fall to them and they were soon charging into the flank of the Dwarven Quarrellers.
Meanwhile Lord Hethronus screamed in triumph as he cut the head of the Dwarven Battle Standard Bearer from his shoulders. But around him his White Lions remained locked in an endless pitiless melee with the Ironbreakers. Despite their weariness and surprise at the Dwarven trap the Elven forces were beginning to gain the upper hand. Then large blocks of doughty Dwarven Warriors and white haired Longbeards charged the Citizen levies and the Phoenix Guard. Unable to cast their magic in combat the Archmages were helpless to aid their comrades as Dwarven axes rose and fell without pity.
From near victory to despair a great shout of triumph went up from the Dwarven army as the battered, bloodied and disheartened Phoenix Guard broke and ran from the enemies before them. Seeing their elite comrades run the Citizen levies also broke and soon the entire centre of the Elven army was fleeing. Outpacing the slow moving Dwarfs the Elves thought they were safe until the thump-thump-thump of Dwarven Gyrocopters shattered their slim hopes of escape. The ripping sound of their steam cannon rang through the air as Elf after Elf was cut down. Only the White Lions remained resolute, but not for long.
After what seemed like hours of combat the White Lions finally broke and ran dragging Hethronus with them and filled with despair at the near invulnerability of the Ironbreakers armour. As a blizzard began to whirl across the battlefield only the cavalry of Caledor and a few battered citizen levies, carrying both spear and bow, were left to join them.
While nearly as many Dwarves as Elves had fallen in the opening stages of the battle, the panicked flight of the armies centre marked the death knell of the Elves. The tattered and broken remnants of the army scattered into small groups using the snow and the forest to avoid pursuit and capture. They fled skirting around the battlefield and began to run, walk and crawl their own tortuous way to the ocean, and safety.
Behind them only corpses remained, already beginning to freeze in the winter air as wolves now emerged from the forest to scavenge on their remains, while leagues to the west a Prince sat warm and safe in his citadel waiting for the army he had left behind to return.