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Kadeton

Blood in the Snow - Viktorias vs Von Schill Narrative Battle Report

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This was a narrative battle report I wrote for my local club's Malifaux campaign. I'll post the actual forces, strategies etc at the end, and you can tell me how well they came through in the report. Some aspects of the game may have been embellished in the interests of story, and the narrative obviously includes both a prelude and an epilogue that were not part of the actual game. This was quite a bit of fun to write - I liked the challenge of trying to come up with decent fluff reasons why Von Schill was on both sides of the battle.

--- Blood in the Snow ---

Viktoria locked eyes with her identical counterpart, and a silent communication passed between them. As one, they turned back to the third member of their clandestine meeting, a smiling, bearish man with thinning grey hair and an outrageous moustache, and nodded. The man’s grin broadened.

“It is a deal, then, ja? You fine ladies vill help me vith finding my old friend. Gut! Ve should celebrate!”

The women did not speak, but the tall German’s keen senses noted a narrowing of their eyes, a hardening of their features, and subtle shifts in posture. Each had a hand resting, seemingly casual, on the inlaid hilts of their matching swords, and he decided not to press his luck.

“No? Ah vell. Take this, then, vith my compliments, and guten Abend. I vill seek you again in the morning and ve vill start the search.”

He held out a bulging canvas bag, unsure which of the women he should hand it to. Viktoria took it from him and briefly checked the contents while her twin kept her eyes fixed on the man. After she drew the bag shut again, he doffed an imaginary hat to them and strode quickly down the alley, the leather plates of his elaborate armour creaking in the evening chill.

As he turned the corner, he looked back, briefly. The women had vanished.

---

Von Schill lowered the brass spyglass from his eye and carefully collapsed it to fit into one of the many pouches on his belt.

“So, it’s true. Haken is here in Malifaux, and recruiting. Very bad.” He gazed out over the rooftops of the city toward the sunset, absently scratching the stubble on his chin. Then, seeming to remember his companion, he added, “You’ve done well, though. He’s not an easy man to follow.”

The other, who wore the same design of armour as Von Schill himself, visibly swelled with pride at the compliment, though his expression did not change. He waited silently for further orders. He waited for quite some time, trying not to shiver in the bitter wind that whistled around their high vantage point. Von Schill seemed lost in thought, and the Freikorpsmann wondered exactly who this Haken could be, to vex his commander so thoroughly. Eventually, the mercenary captain appeared to reach a decision.

“We can’t deal with this right now, not with our recent losses. We’ll head out into the mountains, lay low for a few days. At least out there, we’ll see him coming.”

The Freikorpsmann tried to hide his surprise. They were running? Something must have given him away, because Von Schill turned to him with weary eyes and laid a calloused hand on his shoulder.

“Believe me,” he spoke in a low voice, “this is a fight to avoid if we can.”

---

Von Schill sat hunched in his armour, willing himself to ignore the chill in his bones and the ice that was forming in his moustache. The meager heat from the tiny camp fire - as large as he was willing to risk, to avoid notice - did little to help. Around the fire, three of his Freikorpsmanner sat on their haunches, shivering visibly. Next to him knelt his Librarian, her gloved hands shaking as she turned the pages of her grimoire, her blue lips silently practicing the incantations that he hoped would save their lives. Above them, two enormous spears of ice towered into the sky, providing the only available shelter from the heavy snow. Von Schill hoped that the snow would mask their trail, that the blizzard would hide the smoke from their fire. These were slim hopes - mostly, he hoped that they would not freeze to death before Haken tracked them down.

The Librarian’s head snapped up, the ancient words silenced by a sound only she could hear. Von Schill was already on his feet by the time she had whispered, “The wards...” His men scrambled to join him, hastily checking their clockwork pistols and shaking the stiffness out of their muscles. Hugging the frozen pillars, Von Schill positioned himself so that he could see the approach in the direction the Librarian had indicated.

Five figures were visible through the storm, advancing on their position with alarming speed. Von Schill immediately identified Haken and the two mercenary women, but the other two puzzled him. Their armour was almost identical to that of the Freikorps - in fact, he was sure that it was genuine Freikorps armour, albeit with slight modifications. Surely Haken could not have turned some of his own soldiers against him?

With a sinking heart, he remembered how it had been in the old mercenary company, back Earthside. Haken had always been the personable, affable officer, the smiling face, the deal-closer. Von Schill had the presence, the threat of precisely applied physical violence, but where he was feared and respected, Haken was genuinely liked. Everyone always underestimated how ruthlessly brutal Haken could be. Yes, Haken could definitely have turned some of the Freikorps loyalists.

Von Schill took a second quick glance to confirm his suspicions. The losses they had suffered recently were not casualties, as they had been assumed - quite reasonably, given the usual fate of those who disappeared in the Quarantine Zone. Worse, Von Schill considered, as his trained eye instantly registered the arcane accoutrements of one of the Freikorps traitors, they have a sorceror of their own.

---

Viktoria and her twin ran behind Haken as he barrelled on through the blizzard. She was honestly amazed at his energy - he looked almost sixty years old, but his endurance and agility would have been impressive in a man half his age. They were struggling to keep up, and the armour-clad soldiers he had insisted on bringing with them were already falling behind. At least the punishing pace was keeping them all relatively warm.

Perhaps it was exhaustion, or the blinding wind, but Viktoria didn’t notice the enemy until after the attack had already begun. Two figures appeared on the trail ahead of them, the cracking reports of their pistols barely audible through the storm. Viktoria saw Haken’s armour throw off its light dusting of snow as the bullets impacted squarely into his chest, but instead of falling as she expected, he accelerated, surging toward his quarry with huge, loping strides. With a glance at her twin, Viktoria shrugged and followed. She didn’t particularly care if Haken lived or died, but at the very least she would retrieve the remainder of their payment from his body. Right now, he was providing the perfect distraction.

---

Von Schill calmly reloaded as Haken sprinted at him, the blood from his wounds freezing quickly across his breastplate. Haken’s weakness had always been his bloodlust, his preference for the intimacy of hand-to-hand combat. At the last second, Von Schill gave the signal, and his three Freikorpsmanner pounced on Haken and surrounded him, combat knives drawn and ready. They attacked in concert, and Von Schill allowed himself a moment of satisfaction as the fire in Haken’s eyes was replaced by the sudden realisation that he was wounded, outmatched, and alone.

Confident that his men would be able to handle the aging mercenary, Von Schill turned his attention back to his primary concern, the mysterious women Haken had hired. One was still advancing, sword and pistol ready, too close for comfort, but where was the other...?

Von Schill’s breath caught as three and a half feet of glittering Masamune steel emerged almost soundlessly from his chest. Time seemed to slow, and he watched, mesmerised, as his blood flowed smoothly across the blade and dripped from its razor edge into the snow. Almost as an afterthought, a second identical blade slid between his ribs to take its matching place on the other side of his chest. The air didn’t seem so cold any more. A warm darkness was enveloping him, creeping in from the edges of his vision, promising him rest. He longed to let it take him.

---

Viktoria withdrew her swords gently from the man’s body, a deft and practiced flick of each wrist shedding the blood from their blades. She waited for him to fall, but he stayed resolutely upright, bright blood gushing from the mortal wounds in his chest. Curious, she stepped around him to look into his face, expecting a rictus mask of pain. Instead, she saw... indecision?

Mercenary life did not lend itself to a fondness for the unexpected. Just as Viktoria raised her blade to decapitate the man, he appeared to reach a decision. Lashing out like a striking snake, he pushed her aside, and she heard the distinctive crack of a breaking soulstone in his other hand. The milky-white energy absorbed into his body, and he took a ragged breath. Then, to Viktoria’s amazement, he took off at a dead run, vaulting impossibly over the towering ice pillars, and disappeared into the blizzard.

Viktoria’s twin appeared at her side, shaking her head. Viktoria pointed to the vast quantity of blood that stained the snow at her feet. “Did you see that? He was as dead as you can get.”

Her twin nodded. “Clearly.”

“Remind me why we do this, again?” Viktoria asked with a grimace.

The other Viktoria raised her katana, its mirror-polished blade reflecting her perfect smile.

“What in the world would you rather be doing?”

---

Von Schill allowed himself the luxury of a few seconds’ rest. The soulstone’s power had stopped the bleeding and restored some of his strength, but there was blood in his lungs, and the exertions of his desperate flight threatened to reopen his wounds. As the cold seeped back into his bones, he momentarily regretted his decision to cheat Death yet again, but banished the thought back to the darker corners of his mind. He had to keep going. His Korps depended on him.

Ahead, through the howling storm, he spotted a figure - one of the traitor Freikorpsmanner, searching for him, trying to cut off his escape. Suddenly, he had a focus for all the tortures that Haken had brought by following him to Malifaux. All the pain, the frustration, the sense of betrayal, the spectres of the past, and the thought of the four good men and women of his Korps who would die on this forsaken mountain today... Von Schill forged it into a weapon, as he had been trained instinctively to do, and loosed it upon the traitor.

The man’s agonised screams blew away in the wind.

---

Haken’s body was covered in cuts where the Freikorpsmanner’s vicious knives had snaked past his guard, but the final, telling blow had yet to fall upon him. The three men circled warily, nursing wounds of their own. He could see they were signalling each other, coordinating for a final, decisive assault, and he tried to steel himself for the end. Too rash, too rash...

“Need some help, old man?”

The mercenary woman’s voice could have been an angel’s, Haken thought, as she and her twin appeared out of the blizzard, almost casual, but poised and ready. One of them was drenched in blood, and he wondered if it was Von Schill’s. An instant later, he marveled as a sensation of strength and vigour rushed through him, and over the wind he could just make out the mystical chanting of his tame sorceror as she directed her healing magic to his wounds.

As the Freikorpsmanner adjusted to face these new threats, Haken saw an opportunity and shoved roughly through them, launching himself at Von Schill’s Librarian. Seizing her with one hand, he tore off her mask to bring the two of them face to face. Her eyes were wide, and as blue as the ice that surrounded them.

“Such a pretty thing!” Haken hissed at her. “I bet you are his favourite, ja?”

The woman gritted her teeth and swung her gloved fist, connecting solidly with his jaw. He shook his head to clear the stars from his vision.

“Hoo! Gut, gut. Glad ve understand each other. Now,” he said, once again locking her gaze with his own, “give a message to my old friend Von Schill for me, vill you?”

With a sudden, violent motion, he forced his dagger between her ribs, twisting it, feeling her warm blood run over his hand. He savoured the look in her eyes, the shock and pain and fear as the life flowed out of her.

When the moment had passed, he cast her body aside.

---

The storm passed as abruptly as it had started. Von Schill watched from a safe distance as the mercenary women butchered his remaining men. They were fearsome warriors, dispatching their opponents in a blinding-fast dance of cut and thrust. As the last of the Freikorps fell, Von Schill wondered how things might have turned out differently. If only he’d had a chance to talk to the women, to reveal to them exactly what manner of man they were working with... he wondered if they would have cared.

He closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer for the souls of the soldiers he had lost. The Freikorps would have to regroup, recruit... they would face this threat, as they faced all others. He had been a fool to think he could avoid this conflict. No more running.

The sun broke through the clouds as he began the long, solitary trek down the mountain.

---

“Ladies, you have my most sincere thanks. Truly, you are as gifted and deadly as they say. Please, vith my compliments, the remainder of your payment.” Haken held forth a bag of soulstones. “It vas a shame that you vere not able to actually... finish the job, as they say, but ve vill call it even, ja?”

The twin gazes of the women sent a chill down Haken’s spine, and he fought to maintain his genial expression. He saw in their eyes his inevitable, unspeakably violent and increasingly imminent death.

“Understand, Mister Haken,” the Viktorias spoke together, perfectly synchronised, “that you are alive only because it would tarnish our reputation for us to personally kill an employer.” Their voices were low, and they advanced slowly, drifting slightly to either side of Haken. He flicked his eyes from one to the other, sweat beading on his brow despite the freezing air.

“We saw what you did to that woman,” one of them whispered.

“Y-you killed three men!” Haken protested.

“But only for stones,” the other Viktoria hissed in his ear. They were on either side of him now, and he had to turn his head to see them as they spoke in turn.

“Not for the thrill of power.”

“Not to make them helpless.”

“Not to watch them die.”

“Not like you.”

There was a flash of sunlight on metal, and Haken was sure he could hear the steel of the Masamune blade ringing out his death knell as it pressed against his throat. He swallowed, and a trickle of blood ran down his neck. These women were angels, he realised - the Angel of Vengeance and the Angel of Death.

“Once we are back in the city, we are no longer in your employ,” whispered Viktoria. “See to it that we do not cross paths again.”

It took Haken several seconds to realise that his eyes were shut tight and he had stopped breathing. He took several gasping lungfuls of air, his vision swimming, before he managed to regain his composure and check his surroundings.

The women had vanished.

------------------------------

So, the actual game:

Kadeton

----------

Viktorias

Von Schill (Gustaf Haken)

Freikorpsmann

Freikorps Librarian

5 Soulstones

Strategy: Contain Power - 0 points

Schemes: Bodyguard (Viktorias) - 2 points, Kill Protege (Librarian) - 2 points

Opponent

------------

Von Schill

Freikorpsmann x3

Freikorps Librarian

4 Soulstones

Strategy: Deliver the Message - 0 points

Schemes: Bodyguard (Von Schill) - 2 points, Frame for Murder (Librarian) - 0 points

4-2 Victory to the Viktorias.

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Great report!

Keep em comming!

Thanks! Will do.

Altho, I think you got the results wrong. Frame for murder was acomplished, so its a draw. :)

Nah, Frame for Murder requires that the opposing Master be the one to kill the nominated model. Being killed by Evil Von Schill doesn't count. :)

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