The Thornwood forest made Archdomina Makeda uncomfortable, and not just for the rumours of hidden tunnels filled with Cryxian nightmares. It was rare to see so many trees together within the Stormlands and it made visibility uncertain. Smoke from the recently press-ganged Swamp Gobbers did not help either. As vile as the creatures were, they were a necessity to ensure that Makeda’s strike force made it to their destination without detection. Ahead the trees threw shadows as a light was shone beyond them, and Makeda gave wordless instruction for her honour-guard of Cetrati to form ranks. As they formed a wall of shields in front of her, she spread out her titans and brought the beast handlers into line, awaiting the enemy to make itself known.
First to appear were the distinctive forms of Reckoner and Castigator Menoth warjacks, supported by a Redeemer and Revenger. The nape of Makeda’s neck prickled at the sight of the warjacks, a dread suspicion of their controlling warcaster being confirmed when Feora appeared blazing light into the dim of the forest. The force was small and Makeda already knew the path to victory even when faced with the untested Feora. Her left-most Titan spotted the advanced force of Knights Errant and Nicia and Makeda took a moment to adjust her tactics accordingly.
With military precision the Cetrati were sent against the Errants, to form a bulwark between the two forces while Titans positioned to intercept warjacks. Feora countered silently, her masked visage showing no indication of whether Makeda’s force was expected or a surprise. The Errants charged the Cetrati who shouldered the attack and repositioned to maintain their wall. The Castigator advanced and exploded igniting the Cetrati as the Reckoner fired a volley into the Bronzeback before being enchanted by a nearby Vassal.
Makeda countered, the Cetrati thrusting spears to make short work of the Errants. The Bronzeback, left no target in the Reckoner rushed the Castigator and threw it into the remainder of the Errants crippling the huge construct where it would be finished off by the Cetrati. A gladiator rushed the Reckoner to buy time for the second to reposition itself in front of Makeda. With a fair number of the Cetrati on fire, as well as Makeda, Feora concentrated on bringing down the Bronzeback with her Revenger and used the Reckoner to destroy the Gladiator leaving Makeda with very few options.
Calculating the odds, Makeda ordered the Paingivers to force the now useless Swamp Gobbers into Feora’s path to buy her some time, while she took note of Nicia who had leapt over the front lines, shot or stabbed the beast handlers, and ended up behind her. With Feora defiant behind her fully functional Reckoner, the Archdomina had only one option – and with a prayer to her ancestors she unleashed the final Gladiator.
With a bellow of anger and frustration the Gladiator bowed its head and used its great tusks to slam into the Reckoner hurling it some feet behind and over the top of Feora knocking both to the ground. It followed up and attempted to beat the warcaster into the soft turf only to be denied the satisfactory “crunch” it was expecting. Makeda felt the frustration of her beast flow over her, and with a short sprint brought both blades to bear against the stricken Feora finally extinguishing the flame of Menoth.