Sun glinted from the flaming dragon as it rose above the buildings. The flapping noise came not from its wings, but from the sail on which it was painted.
The corsair ship Dragonfire rode gently at anchor as the sound of steel upon steel slowly died away towards the eastern end of the port.
To the west of the buildings, the corsair captain assembled his group of cutthroats. This was the band of men he would lead inland, in search of the fabled idol of gold. They would travel light. A quick raid to snatch the treasure from the temple; then on their way again, before reinforcements could arrive from outlying villages that relied on this small but important port.
Satisfied that all was in order, the treasure hunters set forth. As they climbed up the wide path, the trees and undergrowth became thicker. Breathing more heavily as they quickly climbed, a sudden whistling noise startled them. A light shower of arrows rained down upon them. The corsairs charged forward into the trees. The defenders only got a few shots off before being slaughtered by the experienced fighters. Only two of the corsairs were felled in the fighting.
The captain was intrigued by the colourful uniforms and back banners of the ambushers. He had heard tales of the Khandish tribes, but had never before encountered them. Well, these died as easily as normal men, he thought confidently.
After a quick check for loot, the raiders continued through the forest. The well worn path through the trees slowly narrowed, but still allowed several men abreast. After a short time they came to a clearing. At the end of the clearing were stone steps leading up to a temple. They had made good time.
As they advanced cautiously across the clearing, they saw movement within the temple. With their eyes only on the ancient stone structure, they did not see the stealthy movement off to one side. Suddenly, several at the rear of the party heard a strange sound.
As they whirled around, two of them were struck to the ground by wild Wargs, shredded by the onslaught of teeth and claws. One of the corsairs dodged just in time.
A wily old corsair was quicker than the others. He managed to place his cutlass into the path of the fourth charging beast. Its snarl died in its throat as the beast crashed to the ground.
With the surprise past, and worried about the tide, the captain ordered a few men to act as rearguard as the rest headed for the temple. Khandish warriors had now emerged onto the steps to bar their way to the temple.
The fighting was fierce, but the corsairs quickly got the better of the Wargs. They quickly dispatched two more before the rest fled back into the trees; realising these were not easy pickings.
The fight with the Khandish temple guards was tougher. The first rank of corsairs died on the stairs, but the second rank was made of tougher stuff.
At first they made no progress. Blades swished through the air. Weapons clashed. The men grunted with the effort.
As one corsair was pushed back, the captain seized the opportunity. He rushed into the opening. With the aid of the captain, slowly the corsairs pushed the guards back up the stairs and into the temple. Once they had done this, they could get their superior numbers into the temple and it was soon over.
However, the captain only had nine corsairs left to search for the treasure and return to the ship. He approached the stone throne. In the torchlight he saw a faint shadow in the stone. Inserting his dagger carefully, he grinned as he heard a faint click. With the latch released, he pulled at the stone to reveal a secret cavity. Not so secret any more he thought.
He grabbed the small chest and opened it. The glint of gold was unmistakeable from within. As he slammed the lid shut, he heard a deep bellow from a rough doorway behind the throne. Heavy footsteps pounded closer.
“Run”, he shouted. “Back to the ship”. They all rushed for the door. But two of them were not quick enough. A giant monster burst into the room. They both tried to gain the exit at the same time but only managed to crash into each other. The giant fists of the creature pulverised them as it thundered down the stairs after the thieves.
But luck was with the corsairs as they managed to keep moving before the monster could grab them. After a time the giant troll gave up the chase and grumpily returned to its lair.
Still licking their wounds from the earlier encounter, the surviving Wargs watched warily from the shadows of the forest as the corsairs scampered back to their ship.
The remaining corsairs did not mind leaving some of their fallen behind. After all, it meant a bigger share of treasure for those that survived.
The sun was low in the sky as the Dragonfire slipped its moorings and headed off on the falling tide with their treasure, bound for more adventures.
Such are the stories that can easily be brought alive using the Lord of the Rings strategy battle game rules and figures. These rules are easy to learn. But the rules have enough subtleties to keep them interesting and challenging. NWA has an active Lord of the Rings group, with plenty of photos and articles on the club website www.nwa.org.au