Prince Iolair Gilandiril drove through the forest on a crisp winter's morning. The frost glistened jewel-like on the branches and on the leaves of the evergreens, and the pale sun filtered through the morning mist to wash the scene with delicate pastel shades.
This beauty was not lost on the Prince, but he did not pause to spend a couple of hours considering it as he might have done on other mornings.
He watched the play of muscles create rippling patterns of surpassing beauty on the flanks of his four horses as Eponandilas the charioteer guided them between the trunks of the great trees, and heard as only an Elf can hear the complex cross-rhythms their hooves made with their panting breath and the sound of the wind in his hair He looked up as he heard the distant beating of wings among the other sounds of the forest, and his eyes followed the tawny shape of a great hawk, circling above the trees.
"What news?" he said to Aesilanan, who stood on his right.
"The ford beyond this next hill," replied the wizard. His eyes were distant, not seeing his surroundings as he saw through the bird's eyes. "Two hands, perhaps three." To the Prince's left, Fildigar the archer spanned and strung his great bow, and loosened his arrows in their quiver.
The chariot halted at the crest of the hill. At the ford below, a dozen ugly, green skinned figures were preparing to eat. They stood in a loose circle, and in the middle was a young deer, with a wicked barbed spear jutting from its flank. plunged this way and that, but each time its escape was blocked by a shouting, grinning Orc. They jeered and capered in horrible glee as one of their number gave the spear a sickening twist in the bleeding wound. The Prince's eyes grew hard.
"Enough of this," he said softly. "Let us give them their surprise." The others chuckled in grim appreciation of the irony in his words - he had used the Elven phrase which refers to a surprise gift or party. Eponandilas raised one hand. The charioteer was born with the gift of horsefriendship, and the chariot's lornalim yokepole creaked softly as the team - born at a single foaling - moved forward in response to his unspoken command. He had no need of reins.
Aesilanan's hawk was now on his wrist, and his other hand spat fire as the great chariot thundered down towards the ford. Barely slower than the fire were the arrows which flew, seemingly of their own accord, from Fildrigar's bow. Three Orcs were down before the chariot was upon them, and lolair reached down to pull the spear from the deer's flank as it plunged past them into the forest. He drew and hurled it in a single motion, and a fourth Orc fell twitching as the weapon sank shaft-deep into its throat.
Two more fell beneath the scything wheelblades as the chariot passed, but one showing more presence of mind than its fellows - had grasped the chariot's yoke, and held on with one sinewy arm as the jagged and filthy sword in the other lashed at the horses' hamstrings. Eponandilas was there in an instant, running along the yoke-pole like a cat. His knife flashed once, and the Orc seemed to hang in the air for an instant, howling at the bloody stump of its wrist before it vanished from sight beneath the thrashing hooves. The charioteer swung himself onto the back of the lead horse - Silverleaf, the oldest by an hour - as an Orc was carried backwards off its feet by the Prince's levelled fighting- spear.
The remaining Orcs had turned to flight, but two more fell to Fildrigar's arrows as the chariot spashed through the ford after them, and a third lost its footing and was trampled into the stream-bed. The Prince motioned Eponandilas to halt as the chariot overtook the last of the Orcs, and leaped over the rail with his great fighting-spear in both hands, felling the Orc with a mighty butt-stroke. It looked up from the cold, hard ground to find the four Elves surrounding it - The Prince with his great spear, the archer with his bow on his back and his short sword drawn, the charioteer with his small but deadly-swift knife, and the wizard with his hawk on his wrist and the other hand raised.
"Now," spat lolair, in the harsh and unlovely Orcish tongue, "Let us try this game a different way..."
The chariot has the following profile:
Thanks to its elven construcionn and the skill of the charioteer, the chariot suffers no penalties for difficult ground when crossing woods, steep slopes, fords or brush. When rolling for damage against the chariot, nothing happens on a 1-7, results 8-10 are unchanged. Otherwise, it follows the normal rules for chariots (Warhammer Book 1, p.53).
|Prince lolair Gilandiril||4||7||7||4||4||3||9||3||10||10||10||10|
The Prince is armoured with chain mail and shield (Armour ST 5), and has a rack of three javelins in the chariot, as well as his great fighting-spear, which is enchanted with the Mighty Strike ability (Warhammer Book 2, p.28). His personal standard is kept in a rack on the chariot.
The charioteer is unarmoured, and armed only with a dagger. His gift of horsefriendship means that he is able to control the team without reins, by a mixture of thought and gesture.
The archer is armoured in chain mail (Armour ST 6), and carries a sword and a dagger in addition to his elf-bow. A quiver of 40 arrows is attached to the chariot.
The wizard is unarmoured, and carries only a knife. In a rack attached to the chariot he keeps an Amulet of Righteous Silver, several scrolls, a small bag of spell ingredients, and a wand which can cast one Fire Ball spell per turn, as from a level 2 wizard. His spells may be chosen by the player.