Thursday, 16 March 2017

Aephyus Lantern Year 11 (Part 2)

         There was no time for preparation or fuss before the survivors set out to fight the Hand. Somehow the four of them, Caleb, Gaea, Lorena and Icarus found the strength to march towards another showdown with one of the horrors the darkness had to throw against them. Cautiously they approached the Hand of the King who seemed to wait for them with an aura of impatience as he flourished his finely wrought blade in a series of complex maneuvers. Then, with a nod to the approaching survivors he sheathed his blade and waited. While there was definitely no lack of menace in the Hand's actions it appeared that he was more intent on showing his skills and strength off to the survivors than simply killing them where they stood. This realisation led the survivors to approach slowly and let the Hand make the first move.

Lightning fast he attacked Gaea, and though the uppercut was strong and fast, she found that it was well within her ability to dodge the strike. As quickly as the attack started, it stopped and the Hand merely regarded Gaea with an amused manner. She cautioned the others to remain back from the monster and prepared herself. The second test came soon after in the form of a flurry of quick armoured jabs, as quickly as they came though she was able to raise her shield and was able to catch all but one of the punches on its iron surface. The final jab went low but she was able to dodge it before it struck her. The hand, obviously amused and a little impressed by the Green Saviour let out a soft inhuman chuckle which sent the survivors into a panic. Gaea and Caleb, the bravest of the survivors found themselves brought to their knees in dread, while the minds of Lorena and Icarus nearly broke and they fled away from the monster. Quickly though, Gaea regained her feet thanks to the encouragement of the others and prepared to go a few more rounds with the monster.

Lorena and Icarus flee from the Hand.


This pattern continued on, the Hand would unleash devastating blows with his fists at Gaea and she would deftly turn them aside. Occasionally the Hand would single out Caleb as well, and though he was not so fast or tough as Gaea, he was able to use her old Leather Shield and the cover of some long grass to survive the blows. Finally, the Hand stopped and opened his arms wide, signalling for the survivors to approach. Lorena and Thalia were hesitant, but Caleb declared that his foresight had shown him that should they disobey they would face a harsh penalty. Thus the survivors assembled before the Hand but still held to the safety of a patch of long grass. The hand then unleashed heavy blows upon all four. Many punches went wide as the survivors dodged his attacks, others struck shields, and some found their targets, but when all was said and done the survivors remained standing before him, bruised but not bloodied. The Hand, impressed by the strength and audacity of the survivors, stepped back and began to applaud. The terrible sound of his armoured hands clapping forced the survivors to their knees and they began to writhe in agony. Icarus was sent into a near fatal state of shock, while Caleb and Lorena found that once the agony had subsided that they possessed an even greater strength than they had before. Gaea was the most changed of all, her already formidable physique being twisted into the epitome of that of a warrior. 

The survivors line up in the dark to take their beatings, all but Icarus come out the stronger for it.


Elated by their victory, the four made the short return to Aephyus and are initially greeted by the sights of hundreds of beautiful pollen clusters and flowers dancing in the air above the atmosphere. The entire settlement is overjoyed and exhilarated by the beauty and the thrill of their victories and they begin to frolic and celebrate. As the merriment continued though a few of the survivors began to drift to sleep. It was only later, after the party finished that the survivors even noticed that four of their number had fallen into a deep sleep from which they would not wake. For days they attempted to nurse them but on the third day death came. With a sickly popping sound the heads of the unconscious survivors split open, spilling seeds and brains onto the cold stone floor. There was little the survivors could do but clean up and erect graves.

The survivors make merry as the toxic spores infect some of their companions.


The deaths did not prevent the settlement from making the most of the resources that they had gathered from their hunt with the Lion and a period of relative prosperity was ushered in. The settlement developed a clan approach towards raising strong children and this was quickly put to use in raising Thalia's newborn twins, Dusk and Dawn, one of whom would ultimately become the settlements next Twilight Knight. The sound of clanging metal was also heard constantly as two new beacon shields were created to help protect the warriors of Aephyus in their future endeavors. The past lantern year had been a difficult one; they had faced monsters and a nemesis, and watched many of their own die to disease, but ultimately they had triumphed and made new weapons and brought forth even more children into the world.

*****************************COMMENTS***************************************

So major SPOILER, but the Level 1 Hand fight is pretty easy as long as you have a tanky character or two, and is trivial with a Green Saviour so long as you just stand there and take your beating. That's about all there is to say about that one. The downside though is that since I've fought him early, it means I'm going to have to deal with a Level 2 during LY 13. Now I've fought a L2 before so I'm not too worried, but what it does mean is that I have one less Level 2 option to fight in LY19 which means I'm probably stuck fighting a L2 Butcher. All in all though it is well worth it in order to be able to hold onto my hard won iron and build a nearly full set of beacon shields.

In terms of the settlement phase I had to deal with necrotoxic mistletoe, this sucks but it's the price you pay for the Vespertine Bows and I pay it gladly. Ultimately I was left with enough endeavours to innovate Clan of Death and give birth to 4 new children, two of whom now have the Twilight Sword proficiency already at 3 thanks to being Thalia's children. This means next year I will send off Thalia to hunt so that she can move on with her quest of being a twilight knight and I can prepare her offspring to probably be the Twilight Knight I use in the watcher fight.

All in all, life in Aephyus is good!

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Aephyus Lantern Year 11 (Part 1)

         Another hunting party set forth with the intent of tracking down yet another Antelope to render for resources in order to create great new weapons and armour at the Blacksmith which had been erected in Aephyus. Thalia declined to go along, stating that she would remain behind and meditate on how she would train the future Twilight Knights of Aephyus so that they may take up her blade when she inevitably had to depart the settlement. Gaea and Caleb thus set out with Diana and Lorena on what they hoped would be a fairly routine hunt...

It was soon apparent though that the good hunting times may well be over as they stalked onwards with little in the way of sign of their intended prey. Eventually though they picked up what they believed to be the track of a mature Screaming Antelope when they came across a massive pile of vomit. The survivors dug through the vomit eagerly and found many partially digested Acanthus leaves which they ate eagerly to renew the energy they had spent whilst on their hunt. There was little else of value though and Gaea with her greater understanding began to suspect that they were not the first to come upon the Antelope's tracks. As they carried on the trail became clearer and soon they were guided by the stench of rotting meet towards a large clearing. There before them stood the greatest White Lion they had ever seen, greedily feasting on the corpse of an antelope. The beast looked up at them and let out a roar that shook the survivors to their core. In terror Lorena and Diana made to run, but Gaea, fortified by her sense of destiny, and Caleb, propelled by his madness, yelled at them to take up positions on top a nearby stone face and ready their bows. Gaea readied her shield and the battle began.
So the odds of fighting a Level 3 White Lion in any given hunt are high enough that this was bound to happen eventually. I was just thankful it happened prior to Overwhelming Darkness as I would need all the survival I could muster to make it through.

They had fought the Butcher, defeated the King's Man and laid waste to countless lesser White Lion's and Screaming Antelopes, but nothing had prepared them for the wrath of an elder lion. It rushed into Gaea and unleashed a savage flurry of blows; some she could dodge, others she batted away desperately with her shield, but yet more fell on her armour, leaving her fighting just to stay on her feet. She managed it though, giving an opening for her companions to unleash arrow and axe upon the Lion. From the relative safety of a stone face Lorena and Diana let a volley of clawed arrows off and pierced the beast's side. Caleb though was less fortunate and after planting the Butcher's Cleaver into the beast's flank received crushing blows to the chest and arms. He shouted to Gaea to hold the beast's attention for as long as she could and fled to the relative safety of the stone face.

Valiantly Gaea blocked and dodged the White Lion's attacks while the archers let loose on it, all while Caleb cried out orders and encouragement. It was a losing battle though, and twice she lost her footing, only managing to get back up at the lost moment the first time thanks to Caleb's manic commands. The second time she lacked the strength to get back up and could only gasp for air and try to avoid choking on teeth which had been knocked loose by the Lion's blows. Tired of her, the Lion rushed at Lorena and Diana and mauled both savagely, injuring Lorena severely and leaving Diana's armour in tatters. The Lion too though was greatly injured and bled from over a dozen wounds inflicted by the brave survivors. It was confused and had slowed, but still had within it the strength to kill any of the weakened survivors with ease. The battle would be decided soon one way or another.

With a supreme effort of will Gaea righted herself, came back to her feet and lifted her shield. In that moment she and Caleb locked eyes. He nodded at her and with that she pulled from her belt one of the sacred founder's stones, the one which had been used by Rhea so many years ago to defeat the first White Lion. With all her strength she hurled it at the White Lion and was satisfied to see it rend it's flesh asunder and send a spray of dark crimson blood into the air. Enraged the Lion charged her. Time seemed to slow as the beast covered the ground to assault her. Gaea did not know if she could see off the monster again, but knew that she would try. On the abomination came until it crashed to the ground at her feet. As it's head lolled over she could see a second founding stone, hurled by Caleb, buried deep in the skull of the beast. Exhausted, she collapsed to the ground.

The moment of victory and not a moment too soon.


The others limped and scurried to Gaea to check her. They were elated to find that she was breathing and that for the most part her bleeding had stopped. She would live to fight again. Caleb moved to wake her so she could help butcher the kill, but Lorena (Gaea's sister) and Diana pleaded with him to let her rest. The mercurial Caleb agreed that Gaea had already done her part and the trio slowly began their tiring work of rendering the bounty they had received from such a powerful monster and bringing it back to the settlement. Gaea was dragged back on a litter, her wounds continuing to heal, in turns by the survivors. A rivalry almost developed between Diana and Lorena over who could carry their fallen comrade further, but quickly they realised how petty they were being and halted their bickering.

It was well enough that they made their peace and that the survivors had let Gaea rest, for when they returned to the settlement they found that yet another armoured figure had encroached on their homes. Icarus ran out to meet the party and declared that the arrogant entity had gathered up all of the settlement's hard won resources, including their precious iron, and was about to destroy it all.  The party was unsure what to do, and panic threatened to unhinge the survivors. Gaea's voice then cut through the discussion like a thunderbolt, "Over my dead body will we give up what we have earned." Miraculously her wounds had healed quickly on the trip home and she stood ready to battle once more...

The Hand resplendent in all his finery!


*****************************COMMENT**************************************

Woah, I knew there was a significant risk to hunting L2 Screaming Antelopes but my heart still skipped a beat when I saw that I was going to have to fight a L3 White Lion. The fight itself was beyond brutal. It consisted largely of letting the Lion beat on Gaea, while the two archers used the range of the Vespertine Bows in order to be out of range of monster reactions. This drastically slowed down the rate at which I could do damage to the White Lion and in turn put even more pressure on Gaea. Ultimately, Diana and her high +Luck was the deciding factor as this allowed me to put up some persistent injuries on the lion which ultimately made him manageable. Ultimately I made the choice to use two founding stones to finish the fight as otherwise I was soon going to be facing either death or severe injuries which would have made 3 of my star fighters useless. As it was I was lucky to get out of the fight with some broken teeth, a few skip the next hunt effects and nothing that will prevent Diana, Caleb or Gaea from being useful in the future. Lorena was worse effected and now no longer will have a shot at the first team.

I got home to find the Hand going through my stuff and rolled up that if I let him he would destroy all my resources. I have 4 iron plus a bunch of other stuff in there, so I'll be damned if I'm letting him have it.


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Aephyus Lantern Year 10

       
The four warriors approach the King's Man
 
        The four warriors stepped out into the darkness to defend Aephyus from the armoured King's Man. Years before this nemesis, or one like it, had come and cut short the lives of their friends and families, but they had been weaker then. Now they were prepared, and stronger than ever. Gaea, clad in a full set of leather armour and carrying an impressive iron wrought shield led the band out. As she had done so many times before she would guard her companions from harm. Diana, the Blue Saviour, and Icarus followed shortly behind resolutely carrying the Vespertine Bows which had been crafted after other hunters had defeated the flower knight. Finally in the rear came the leader of the settlement, Caleb, who hefted a great ugly axe which he had stripped off of the corpse of the Butcher. The King's Man stood motionless with its lantern halberd held to its side, waiting for the arrogant survivors to make their stand.

The King's Man waits patiently for the survivor's to make the first move.


              The encounter began with a nod from Caleb and the two archers unleashed a hail of arrows from their bows at their enemy. Half a dozen shafts sailed through the air in the blink of an eye but just as quickly the King's Man dodged and weaved, somehow dodging all of the arrows. Arrogantly he paused to show his achievement to the survivors but Diana and Icarus were ready. Surging with energy they each loosed a Claw Head Arrow which struck the abomination in the greaves and skirt. These arrows would remain lodged there for the rest of the battle. Gaea and Caleb rushed at the monster in order to be able to engage it in close combat.

Like lighting the King's Man lashed out with his halberd in order to cleave the heads from Gaea and Caleb. Gaea, with her inhumanly fast reflexes was able to slide under the arc of the halberd, but Caleb was caught unawares and it was only through a lucky dodge that he managed to avoid decapitation. He would have to be much more careful from now on. Caleb managed to regain his balance, and hacked away furiously with his axe. The King's man though was far too fast and deftly avoided the blows, though Caleb began to believe that he could see a pattern in the movements of the armoured soldier. A few more arrows managed to find their way through the King's Man's defence and Gaea bashed its face in with her shield before readying it to block future blows.

After a very close call with decapitation Caleb starts looking for safer places to hang out.


With ferocious speed the King's Man lashed out with it's Halberd and unleashed a flurry of blows upon Gaea which she ably dodged, evaded or took upon her beacon shield. Caleb, struck again, and this time the movements of the King's Man became clear to him. They fought and stepped together in unison and Caleb found he was able to penetrate its defence with ease now. This added pressure made life easier on the archers and Diana and Icarus found that many more of their arrows were now hitting the mark.

With a cry of frustration the King's Man kicked and speared at the survivors but found himself unable to penetrate Gaea's defences and quickly he was weakened by the damage wrought on his armoured body by the survivors.  Cracks began to appear in his armour and Gaea saw a strange liquid begin to ooze from the monster's wounds. She screamed at Caleb to run from the King's Man and in that instant gouts of acid spewed forth from the monster's armour. The archers were well clear from the spray but Caleb only just managed to escape the lethal acid. The other 3 looked on in horror as it seemd Gaea would be killed on the spot. The Ageless Green Saviour though crouched low and placed her iron shield in front of her. A great green flash of light erupted from her and when it was over the three looked upon Gaea, who was merely singed. The survivors let out an exhilarated roar, sure now that triumph was certain, and renewed their onslaught against the King's Man.

Shields FTW! I knew the trap was coming by using a rawhide set so made sure Caleb was well away as I think I had 7-8 cards on the wound stack at this point.


The showdown is finished when Icarus lets loose two arrows at the King's Man's collar which narrowly miss and strike its chest instead. The survivor's let out a cry of victory and then a sigh of relief. All seems well until Icarus begins screaming. They turn to see him holding his hands out in front of him watching in horror as his fingernails extend like a sheath and encase his hands and then arms in a cocoon of bone. Icarus then falls to the ground gasping in pain as searing heat erupts within his arms and what used to be his flesh oozes through the joints of the hollow armour which now comprise his upper limbs. Icarus then falls silent and sits on the ground with a defeated and shocked look on his face. The others help him up and they walk back to the settlement.

I got totally Kingdom Death'd on this one, the funny part is this is the second time in a row that I've rolled a 1 on the death blow location and missed out on the halberd. 


Back at Aephyus, they discover evidence that yet another stranger had been living amongst them when they find a pile of bones. Though they have a large store of iron, there are not enough other resources available for the smithing of more shields or innovating new technologies. Instead they use the lantern year to reflect and Diana gains more understanding of the world around her. Icarus though is left feeling cold and begins to isolate himself from the others. The leaders of Aephyus convened to discuss the future of the settlement. It was decided that the settlement must continue to grow and that to do so hunting of Antelope would have to continue for the foreseeable future. It was also determined that more effort would have to be put into creating families as the fabric of society. It was then that Thalia revealed to the others what she had slowly come to realise. There would come a day soon that she would have to leave Aephyus in order to become a Twilight Knight. The others were shocked by this, for if Gaea was their shield then Thalia was their razor sharp blade which struck down their foes. Thalia resolved though that before she went she would bear children and train them in the use of her Twilight Sword. It was the best she could do to ensure the survival of the settlement she had helped to raise from nothing so many years ago.

********************************COMMENTS*****************************

This fight went pretty smoothly once I remembered the tricks to fighting the King's Man. I had forgotten about his peculiar method of attacking all survivors in particular areas and this almost led to the decapitation of Caleb early on, but once my memory had been jogged I was able to keep only Gaea in the danger zone and sweep in and out with Caleb and was lucky to grab King's Step pretty quickly. From there it was a pretty simple fight, to the point where I actually cycled the HL deck a few times in an attempt to get the deathblow location and hence the halberd. I managed to get a situation where all I had to do was roll 2+ to get the deathblow but I rolled a 1 and the other hit wounded. This brought me to King's Curse, which was the entire reason I brought Icarus along. Icarus is at best a 2nd string team member and I need one of those around to get the King's Curse. While armour 4 at one location is good I believe it to be much worse than being able to obtain a set bonus so didn't want to risk any of my main crew getting the curse.

As for the settlement itself, we managed to innovate family last year but I'm holding off until I can get Clan of Death before I produce Thalia's heirs to the Twilight Knight title. My innovation deck has gotten relatively narrow again so this should hopefully show up soon in the next year or two.

Thanks for reading.