Turns 471 –
Feel the current carrying our boat, and observe the wind filling our sails. Imagine if we were to harness their power, not merely for sailing, but for all manner of labor. The wind does not need food or payment, and water never gets tired or worn out. Ah, but this is folly… only a mage could do such, and what do they know about physical labor?
–Reaghar Yor, Fisherman
I have now discovered machinery and in doing so, I can now build crossbowmen. Which means that those elves won’t be taking Kalm anytime soon.
The crossbow was the preferred weapon of the peasants in the First Rebellion. The weapon is fairly simple to produce in bulk and frighteningly effective at piercing armour, which meant that the peasants finally could take up the fight with the knights and men-at-arms that made up the fist of the Royalist armies. The mechanism is simple: a winch tightens the bow to a tautness that is practically unachievable by muscle power alone. The projectile is a small bolt, rather like a truncated arrow. The result is a weapon that fires straight and true with little effort and with little training required.
And in even better news, just when I thought that my shadow assassin couldn’t get any better, he’s gone and surpassed all expectations: he found the black mirror on the corpse of one of his victims, which means he can now cast mirror. This means that I turn my level 15 shadow into two level 15 shadows. And while the illusionary one only lasts a turn, it can still kill pretty much anything. Combined with Orthus’ Axe, this means that the guy is one hell of an elite unit.
Actually, he’s even better than I thought. Upgrading from an assassin to a shadow granted him the invisible trait, which means he’s free to wander about the countryside and doesn’t have to worry about enemy armies. It appears that the only way the enemy can attack him is if he’s defending a city. Plus, it turns out that I can make a few more of these guys. One of the prerequisites for creating a new shadowin a city is for the Council of Esus to be present. And while Cassiel and the Grigori may shun religion in general, we’re not against using their agents to our advantage.
meanwhile… in the northeast I finish civilising the savages. Even though this last settlement has a troll guarding it, it’s no match for my insta-respawning army of skeletons and spectres.
Upon taking the settlement, I move one of my mages in and cast hope, to help get he city up and running smoothly. Also, my adventuror mage, Branding levels up again, and gains access to twincast, which means he can summon two skeletons or spectres in a turn. Which sounds like it will be mighty useful. With Hoyl now in my hands, the campaign in the northeast is finished. All that’s left is shoring up my defenses in case of an attack from my northern coast. But apart from that, this region is pretty secure. So I send some settlers down to the last patch of open space, and found Gongaga, near another mana node, right by the eastern mountains. And to complete the civilisation of the north, I construct a Summer Palace in Costa del Sol (reduces nearby city maintenance).
Down in the south, I manage to advance a little to: I send my shadows down to Aeleris’s Pits, with the aim of capturing the city, and this time, holding on to it.
Although I quickly find out the one downside of shadows is that they can’t take cities. They can easily kill everybody in a city, sure. But they’re unable to capture the city. Which means I’ll have to escort some of my dragon slayers down, which is going to be tricky given all the elven assassins lurking in the surrounding jungles. However, I can make use of my mages to summon an army of undead to perform escort duties and soak up all the assassin attacks.
A few turns later, a take Aeleris’s Pits for the second time. I was tempted to just raised the cursed city, but there are two good reasons to keep hold of it. Firstly, it’s on a hill, which makes is a little bit easier to hold. And secondly, it should draw all Faeryl Viconnia‘s armies away from Kalm, giving me a chance to build up an army and take the war to her doorstop. That’s the plan at least. And so far, it’s just about working, despite the huge number of units being thrown against Pits’ walls. Actually, there are no walls in Aeleris’s Pits yet, so I guess I should build a palisade straight away.