Monday, 15 November 2010

Battle on the Pan Coron Ocean

161PC. Barely a few months had passed since the navy of the Holy Sigmarite Empire had seen off the threat of Elven privateers in the employ of Mellvellon. Buoyed by their victory the Sigmarite captains became ever more adventurous. They became progressively more daring in their exploits where once they would have simply desired to avoid the predations of corsairs or the ever-present threat of the massive Dark Elf war-fleet. Eventually their voyages would bring them into contact with the fledgling fleet of the Dwarves of Kazad Varr. The Dwarves had occupied and colonised the western coast of Aranur many years before. However they had remained isolated and introspective, content to mine beneath the mountains. Only over the past twenty years had they given any thought to the wider world, constructing a small but redoubtable fleet of ironclad ships, keen to explore further afield rather than simply protect their coastal interests. Such expeditions woudl bring them into contact with the roving Sigmarite fleet.

When he sighted the battleship “Sigmar’s Blessing” through the periscope, Captain Thorgir Seabeard was inclined (as Dwarves always are) to misgivings. This far out in the Pan Coron ocean, many leagues from port, they would be vulnerable to attack. His ships may be tough, but they weren't going to win any races. And after all, the last time they had met an unknown vessel it had fired upon them without the slightest provocation. “This time”, he thought, “we won’t be so easily caught out”. He sent the signal for the fleet to form up. Beneath his feet he could feel Hammer of Grugni’s gargantuan steam pistons strain and thrum. Good solid Dwarf engineering.

The sail-ships were beginning to close. Definitely - “Sigmar’s Blessing” - he could read the name much more clearly now she was closer. He drew a breath to call out the order to bear to starboard, but he was interrupted by the clatter of shot bouncing against the outer hull. Beard bristling, he swung the periscope round to see several sail-frigates zipping across Hammer of Grugni’s bow.

“Cheeky buggers...” he muttered. Right, let ‘em have it. “Prow guns to open fire on the lead sail-cruiser” he bellowed. The word ‘sail’ could almost amount to a Dwarven jibe. It singled out ships of inferior design and craftsmanship.

The noise of battle quickly rose as the two fleets exchanged fire. More cannon balls rang across the armoured hull, the gun decks thundered back in response, Saltbeards dashed to and fro to quench fires and patch up the odd hole where a shot or two had made it through. All the while the bridge was a clamour of reports and signals from the rest of the fleet. Thorgir took it all calmly. He had his eye on something far more important. Every second that passed Hammer of Grugni steamed closer to the Sigmar’s Blessing, the largest ship of the foe’s fleet. She may be powered by bed-sheets, but she had more guns on her than an artillery train. Enough to give even the Hammer a run for her money.

“Almost, almost...” He paused. “Two points to starboard!!” Almost... Now! “All guns... FIRE!!”

Hammer of Grugni turned hard across the path of the oncoming battleship, taking her in an oblique sweep along its port bow. As she did, she crossed behind one of their leading cruisers. Placed between the two, at this range, there was no way that they could miss. There was the almost deafening drum-roll of both of the Hammer's gun decks loosing their shot. As if it were the echo, the sickly splintering of timber hulls and distant muted screams as the sail-ships crumpled under the storm of lead. Then, as if the world itself had cracked open, the magazine of Sigmar’s Blessing went up in an incandescent cloudburst that sprayed blazing gunpowder, shot, decking and canvas across the ocean surface.

As Hammer of Grugni rocked in the blast wave a resounding cheer went up from the Saltbeards on the gun decks. Steadying himself against the balustrade, Thorgir allowed himself a satisfied grin. “That’ll teach yer to make yer ships out of wood”.

In the taverns and trading houses up and down the coast the Hammer of Grugni would become a name of awe and dread. She would become a legend of the seas.

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