Battle of Peppercorn

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Nightshade sat emotionless on the crest of the hill overlooking the village of Peppercorn. His hordes had swept through the plains of the Southern Reaches almost unchallenged sacking Lechlade Keep in April, Crossgate Castle in May and the village of Peppercorn in June. The smoke still drifted up from that ruined township. No living soul moved within its confines. His scouts had reported the combined armies of men and elves moving into the region. He would wait. Patience is not a problem for the undead.

Choosing a position south of the village, the undead formed into battle formation. Valdemar had sent reinforcements from Sandal, one brigade of horsemen and one brigade of warriors. These anchored the left flank . Three goblins shaman were in camp, having reported on the failure of Gruumsh's plan to secure the North. Their services would be useful in the upcoming battle. The right flank was secured by bone giants and sphinxes. More than enough to hold the narrow forest gap. Chariots and cavalry, the heavy hitters of the army were located in the center of the formation. Across the field, wave after wave of knights took the field, creating an impossible right flank. The weak left flank seemed to be made of junior squires. A curious strategy, Nightshade thought. With the middle of the human formation a jumble of footmen and dwarven airships, the enemy looked more like a mob than an army. Battle began shortly after sunrise. The bloody red rays giving an eerie portent of things to come.

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Nightshade watched as his early orders sent his left flank moving around Peppercorn Lake. The squires should fall quickly, allowing the marauder horsemen to chew into the soft center core of the army. Next, the undead and chaos infantry advanced. While failing to take the narrow pass, there would be plenty of time to make that position. The central footmen took their places in the forest. But wait, the undead right flank was just sitting motionless. The monsters were unmoving and the cavalry was stationary as well. Quickly, the enemy knights swept across the field, moving with outstanding speed. In the center the enemy footmen quickly grabbed the central forest while the northern forest was filled with cowardly humans and elves. It seems that the cavalry would do all the work this battle. Elven windriders moved across the field to support the squires. More weak units to break.

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The human knights crushed into the stationary monsters killing both bone giants and one sphinx. Finished with their pursuit, the human knights fell back into formation. In the center, the human squires crashed into the front ranks of bowmen and skeletons. These quickly evaporated and the squires retreated for the counter-charge. The windriders, turning their back on the charging marauder horsemen, brought up a defensive position for the squires. On the right flank, the last of the sphinxes died without inflicting a casualty. The battle had shifted to favor the enemy. Decisive action was needed by Nightshade.

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Nightshade ordered his forest-entrenched troops across the woods. There they took up defensive positions taunting the knights to charge. The chariots on the right flank again did not move. Something had gone terribly wrong with their commanders. The marauder horsemen on the right flank continued to circle the lake, desperately trying to gain a rear attack on the windriders. The undead general ordered the chariots on the left flank charged, killing the squires. Some damage was done to the windriders, but the attack eventually died out. The carrion birds failed to move.

The human knights, relentless in their zeal, attacked into the heavily defended skeleton bowmen. They lost and fell back. Meanwhile, the elven chariots rolled up two more units of undead chariots, continuing the collapse of the right flank. The rest of the enemy army, too congested to move far, repositioned for the final surge.

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The final attack of the battle happened shortly before noon. A battle which should have lasted long into the night reached its conclusion early. The marauder horsemen failed to move, leaving the left flank battle to the remaining chariots and cavalry. In a mad dash around the mountains, several hundred heavily armored knights rushed across the battlefield to join the windriders on the left flank. Even with marauder support and a unit of skeletons raised from the dead, the enemy troops were just too numerous. The left flank of the skeleton army collapsed. On the right flank, the human knights, still trying to drive the skeletons out of the south wood, attacked without success. However, elven chariots brought in from the rear provided fresh troops to continue the collapse of the left flank.

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Nightshade turned away. Sounding the horn for retreat, the undead army fled the field of battle. The humans and elves had won the day. While it was too late to save Peppercorn, there would always be another day to fight.