Sunday, 3 October 2010

Otto's Folly

In 61PC Emperor Otto II had decreed that Empire settlers must not venture east of the Great Canaur river in response to growing unrest in the region. Beastmen tribes were overruning the land and the news that the Dark Elf Dominion, now an ever growing threat to the south, had defeated the horde made things no better. When Otto died in 68PC the edict had not been rescinded and Otto III, the new ruler, agreed with the policy of his late father. He was even more convinc
ed when the armies of Tragean, who had defeated the Sigmarites in his grandfather's day, began their campaign which ultimately led to the stalemate near Crocket's peak.

Otto III however desired expansion of the Holy Sigmarite Empire, and was a devoutly religious man. He felt it his duty to bring Sigmar's guidance to the sparsely populated lands of Palurin, and desired to make his mark on history by bringing new land under the rule of his dynasty. Fearful of venturing east, the Emperor decreed in 79PC that he would send an army west. He would cross the Desert of Bones and claim all the lands to the east of the Sentinels for his own.

Inevitably the Lizardmen of Cullinor learned of Otto's plans through their trade with the Empire, mostly conducted through the Ogre mercenaries of Graag. The Slann learned that Otto was to cross the desert and this alarmed them, for in the deep desert itself lay the ruins of an ancient civilisation, one which had great significance to the lizardmen, and could not be allowed to be desecrated by the clumsy footfalls of mankind.

The Lizardmen tried diplomacy, but Otto, who had just founded Ottoberg in the north of the Empire, threw out their ambassador and warned the master of Cullinor to stay to the west of the mountains. They did not, and in the summer of 79PC the Empire armies, tired from their long and thirsty march across the desert, faced the largest army of the reptilian kingdom seen in Palurin for over thirty years.

Undetered, the armies of Sigmar went into battle in the passes of the Sentinel mountains. Despite the magicks of the Slaan leading the army the Empire cavalry charged into the heart of the lizardmen host, confident that their elite infantry, the greatswords of Alptraum, would follow them in. Unfortunately a combination of tiredness and incompetent command meant the Empire's finest soldiers hesitated, and the cavalry, along with the army general Boris Schenke, fled the field after having lost more than half their number. Apparently paralysed by indecision the greatswords then allowed themselves to be charged, and the Slaan high mage unleashed horrific sorcery against them. None survived the battle.

Towards the end of the battle the remaining Empire units were almost saved by the army's amethyst wizard, Hyram Sek, who unleashed an unstoppable spell which ravaged the lizardmen units for the entire length of the battlefield. The spell, overpowered probably by fear for his own life, allowed Sek to escape, but the remaining Empire infantry, confused and leaderless, were annihilated by the thinned out, yet infuriated ranks of saurus infantry.

Having lost the better part of his professional army, Otto sued for peace which the Lizardmen, their own army in tatters, accepted, forcing the Emperor of the Sigmarites to swear never to cross the Desert of Bones again. The expansion of Otto III was at an end, in an expedition forever remembered as "Otto's folly".

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