The Doom of Aethelweard Part Seven

For the first time in more than a thousand years, the epic tale of the Doom of Aethelweard can now be appreciated in its entirety! The previous parts of our dramatic tale can be reached by clicking on the following links:

Part 1: The Raid
Part 2: Making Off with the Spoils
Part 3: Bring Him Back Alive!
Part 4: The Sacred Banner
Part 5: The Wild Hunt
Part 6: Stop the Ritual!

And now we present the climactic final instalment: Death at Their Heels! (10.1.9)
In this scenario, both retinues are dashing across the table from the same edge.  They hope to reach a tower positioned in the middle of the opposite table edge to seek refuge from a tidal wave.  Only five models can fit in the tower to secure a victory.  As usual though, we're applying a few modifiers to this to suit both our campaign and our terrain.
We decided to play diagonally across the board, allowing us to set up the church on a hill opposite the water feature.  Our warbands would start (as can be seen in the above photograph) 6" in from the edge of the board on opposite sides of the water section.  Aethelweard had been foretold of this impending disaster and made sure the women and children were safely ensconced within the church's walls where, with the chanting of the monks, they were praying earnestly for salvation.  The objective was simple.  Aethelweard had to get his men to safety, desperately aware that only five could get inside.  If even one Draugr got inside, his people would be massacred.  +10RP would be awarded for each Anglo-Saxon able to safely enter the church.  +50RP would go to the Draugr if they could get at least one of their Warband within the church.  The tidal wave's progress would be determined by rolling 1D10-2 at the end of each Movement Phase from the second turn onwards.  Its position would be marked by some of my wife's sparkly blue wool.  We determined that a result of less than 0 would remain as a 0 to stop the wave from rolling back.  With this being the final battle in our Saga, we determined that any figure caught by the tidal wave, or taken out of the fight and thereby left lying prone on the ground, would not get a Fate roll at the end of the game.  They would be taken to a watery grave, and their points would be deducted from the total pool possessed by each Warband.

Our forces would indeed look unbalanced.  I was able to field my full complement of 402 points.  This gave me Aethelweard, Eadwulf, Ordwulf, a Fyrd skirmisher and nine Fyrd spearmen.  The Draugr were able to field 208 of their 215 available points. Tilga the shieldmaiden would lead them in the hopes of avenging the deaths of Glars Glarsson and Soggan.  Whilst the Anglo-Saxons definitely had the numerical advantage, it wasn't going to look good for eight of them...

No dice rolls were fudged in the playing of this game.  I say this just now because you'll think we did before the end of this report!

In the first turn, both sides moved as quickly as they could towards their objective.
By the time the Movement Phase was complete on the second turn, a ragged shieldwall had been drawn by the Fyrd spearmen.  They hoped to protect Aethelweard and Eadwulf whose movement is much slower than theirs.
The tidal wave moved a mighty 4" into the board.
Models were beginning to fall at the end of the first turn, but the Draugr wre being held at bay.
In the next turn, little movement took place.  Most were engaged in combat.  Ordwulf however had been protected by two spearmen and was able to get close to the door of the church.  he waited there, scanning the terrible sight before him and bellowing to those inside that the mighty Aethelweard was before the church.  He steeled himself to pray, waiting for the right moment to unleash his miracle The Face of God. This, he reckoned would stop those wishing to charge him and hopefully make them fall back into the path of the tidal wave.
The Fyrd skirmisher angled round the combat seeking an opportunity to shoot one of the Draugr.  He tried.  And missed.  As usual.
The fighting at this point was a stalemate.  Those that were knocked down would get Back up, those blows that hit caused no damage due to some lovely Fate Rolls on both sides.
And the tidal wave?  Well, it was more of a tidal blip as it was hardly moving forwards at all.
Then the Fyrd who rescued the sacred banner managed to knock down his opponent while the lines thinned out some more.
And the tidal wave decided to move forwards a few inches...
And then, suddenly, the combat turned deadly. Both sides were being cut down.  You'll notice that my Fyrd skirmisher managed to kill his opponent!  This has never happened in any game we have played. 
And now the tidal wave was picking up speed...

For the first time in the game we bagan to worry about the stragglers at the back.
They hit each other but couldn't injure their opponents.
The next turn came, the disengage from combat rolls failed and then the Tidal wave picked up speed.
And they were washed away. There was now only a small knot of figures battling away in the middle of the board. Eadwulf had joined in the fray to secure Aethelweard's freedom to reach the church doorway. He would stand guard to ensure his men reached safety and deny access to any Draugr who approached.
And all the time the tidal wave got closer and closer...
Look! It had even managed to grow a tidal ball!
The Fyrd skirmisher, who was always killed in every game without injuring an enemy had slain one opponent only to be slain once more by a Draugr Huscarle. His dying glory was to fall beside Eadwulf, faithful and noble huscarle to Aethelweard.
All that stood between Tilga and her huscarle and the terrified inhabitants of the church was the last stoic defiance of Aethelweard and Ordwulf.
And that wave was getting awfully close.

Battle was joined at the chuch. And thanks to another failed initiative roll, Tilga was able to charge into Ordwulf before he could use his miracle.
By now the wave was felling trees left, right and centre.

The melee raged on and Ordwulf fell. Aethelweard remained resolute at the church door from which emanated the dreadful cacophony of screams, prayers and chants.

The combat was locked in a stalemate as the waters drew ever closer.  If Aethelweard failed at this point, all would be lost.  Determined to defend his people with his dying breath, he resolved to fight on.

Blow after blow rained down, but no one fell under their weight.
And suddenly the waters were terribly close.
We rolled for the water. 1D10-2. We rolled a 6. The tidal wave would move 4 inches. We measured the distance of its advance...

Aethelweard commanded the monks to close and brace the church door. It slammed shut behind him as he steeled himself for the inevitable moment.
Aethelweard's doom had come to pass.
And so ends our epic Saga "The Doom of Aethelweard". The women, children and monks had been spared. But with none of his men entering the church, there were no victory points for Aethelweard. The Draugr had no points either. That was until we realized they had seven points they had been unable to use at the start of the game. This gave a final score of 7 points to the Draugr and 0 points to Aethelweard.

Thus I can recount with a heavy heart that The Doom of Aethelweard ended with a victory for the fell Draugr. Admittedly though, it was the kind of victory that would rival that of Pyrrhus himself...

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