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Monte Castello Map-0

The mighty fortress of Monte Castello is built upon the colossal ruins of one of the easternmost of the ancient Elven citadels. This one was captured and occupied by the Dwarfs who rebuilt the foundations even more massively. Many centuries later the great mercenary general Ferrante 'the fierce' built a fortress on top of the ruins to guard the eastern approaches of Luccini from the sea.[1a]

Monte Castello remains the easternmost outpost of Tilea. Beyond stretch the barren lands of the Border Princes which run up the eastern side of the Apuccini Mountains. This land is still being won from the Greenskins. The fortress originally built to prevent incursions of Orc and Goblin tribes from the east and also to guard against any enemies coming across the Black Gulf and gaining a foothold on the Tilean peninsula. The fortress stands on a natural knoll of rock overlooking the narrow straits which lead into the long bay known as the Gulf of Tears.[1a][1b]

The fortress is immensely strong, its fortifications having been rebuilt and improved many times by some of the best mercenary leaders. The Castello has traditionally been garrisoned by troops from all over Tilea, paid for by all the Tilean cities, since all city states benefit from the security it gives to the entire region. Only the best mercenaries and the best mercenary generals are ever hired to hold it.[1b]

History

The Castello has been besieged many times and has never fallen. The most notable siege lasted over a year. The garrison, reduced to only five hundred Tileans, suddenly found itself surrounded by over one hundred thousand Greenskins led by a certain Unguth the Vile, who was determined to capture it as a prelude to invading Tilea itself. The garrison of the Castello, beating off countless assaults and enduring endless weeks of bitter siege warfare, dwindled by a few men every day, while the Orc horde was constantly reinforced by numerous fresh contingents eager to join the mighty Orc army.[1b]

Cut off by land, the Castello was supplied by sea until this route was maliciously cut by the warships of an unknown enemy desiring to see the fortress fall once and for all. To this day, no one knows for sure who attacked the supply galleys. Tileans often accuse the Corsairs of Araby or the pirates, but the most ominous rumour holds that the ships were overrun by an infestation of rats as part of the evil schemes of the Skaven.[1b]

Starving and desparate, the garrison held out until the mercenary commander, the old and resolute Galeazzo, was mortally wounded whilst repelling another Orc assault. He was hurried from the ramparts into the commandantery. Residing in the Castello at this time was the general's formidable and spirited daughter, Monna Lissa. Despite her efforts to staunch the blood, Old Galeazzo succumbed to his wounds. Monna Lissa, fearing that the garrison would lose heart, donned her father's armour and pretending to be Galeazzo himself, led the garrison in repelling three more attacks in the following days. After the third attack, Monna Lissa lost her helmet and her long flowing tresses were seen by the troops. They demanded to know what had happened to their leader. When it was revealed that he was dead, the mercenaries were disheartened. They resolved to stake all on one last sally, abandoning the Castello in a desperate attempt to escape back to Tilea.[1b]

Monna Lissa implored them not to sally out to certain death and thereby let the Castello fall into enemy hands, but no persuasion, not even promises of enormous rewards in gold, could make them change their minds. Then Monna Lissa pointed out that if the Orcs took the Castello they would certainly deface Tintoverdi's masterpiece The Five Seasons which adorned the commandantery banqueting room. This was thought to be the finest fresco in all Tilea if not the world. She begged all those who were willing to stay and defend this treasure to the death to step forward, the rest could go if they wished.[1b]

One by one soldiers stepped forward, tears in their eyes, saying: "I will die before Orcs scrawl upon Tintoverdi!" and "No Orc shall ever gaze upon the image of Spring!" and similar such things. Eventually the entire company resolved to remain to the bitter end. The siege continued for a further three months and the Castello did not fall. Monna Lissa herself was mortally wounded by a Goblin arrow on the day the Castello was relieved by an enormous army marching from Luccini. The relieving force broke and scattered the Orc horde. They found only twenty-five pikeman still alive in the Castello. Around the walls the Greenskin corpses lay so thick that the moat had been filled up and was firm enough to bear the weight of Orc siege towers![1b]

Ever since the great siege of Monte Castello, Monna Lissa has become a symbol of good fortune and victory. So much so that it is a tradition for mercenary battle standards to depict the Tilean war goddess Myrmidia with the features of Monna Lissa, as portrayed by the famous portrait of her by Cellibotti.[1b]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: Dogs of War (1998)
    • 1a: pg. 82
    • 1b: pg. 83