The single round of artillery fire from the Rusland front line galvanised Abulbul into action, seething as he was with barely concealed anger at the interruption of his religious devotions. A stream or orders issued to the tensely waiting Fezian soldiery deployed on the ridge - mainly ensuring that every man was ready to do his duty or would face the wrath of their mercurial commander in chief. In truth though, there was little the Fezian Army could do other than to await events. Whatever his shortcomings as an individual (which were many and varied if even half of the graffiti on the walls of the hammam between Keder Sirt and the Sultan's palace were true) Abulbul was no mean commander and he was fully painfully aware of the disparity of forces between his own and that of the Rusland attackers. He dare not move from his position until the Rusland intentions were clear otherwise his opponents numerical advantage would ensure that few, if any, of his command would live to see the Sultan again. With a silent muttered prayer and a particularly long and complicated curse he resolved not to quit the ground they were standing on until death or victory.
As if to extract some measure of revenge for the near disaster that almost befell them the Rusland artillery rose magnificently to the occasion and immediately fired at the Fezian infantry unit deployed on the right flank of their position. The barrage was on target (a roll of a 6) and effective as great holes were torn in the Fezian formation.
This served to further inspire the Rusland troops and so the advance continued once the lead infantry regiment had reorganised itself (used an activation point to 'unpin' the unit). The Fezian troops waited, content to watch developments at a respectful distance. The leading Rusland infantry unit from their right hand column had just ventured into rifle range when a volley rang out from the Fezian formation directly opposing them. The damage was immaterial at such a range (range 3) but once again, a degree of confusion was inflicted on the luckless Rusland infantry requiring much reorganising and dressing of ranks before the advance could continue (a score of 3 resulting in yet another pin).
The artillery of the opposing sides continued to be largely ineffective as both managed to expend great quantities of ammunition to little apparent effect. Neither side was able to correctly estimate the range and so 'over' and 'under' shots were common.
When news of this setback reached Skavar he adopted his customary sang froid for the benefit of his army but, the first seeds of doubt about the ultimate outcome had been sown.
Urgently he cajoled his centre forward and in this he was magnificent. Galloping hither and thither he alternately cursed and cheered his men and appeared to be everywhere. He needed to be as the attack was bogging down in the face of concentrated Fezian rifle fire. The two left hand Fezian infantry regiments opened fire at maximum range against the leading right hand Rusland unit and subjected it to a withering series of volleys, laying the entire leading rank low (a pair of 6s). The remaining Fezian unit, having recovered from its earlier artillery casualties managed to discomfort the leading unit of the left hand central Rusland column (scored a 4 for a pin). Despite the herculean efforts of their renowned leader, the Rusland attack was slowly but surely grinding to an ignominious halt.
Still the artillery roared out defiance across the morning sky with that of Fezia being marginally more effective despite being outnumbered by the Rusland guns. As the range came down so the Fezian gunners were able to inflict further damage hit on the leading Rusland infantry regiment of their central left hand column (a 5 for the hit and a 5 for effect) whilst the reply of their adversary was limited to further disrupting the cohesion of the Fezian right hand infantry regiment.
Abulbul was fearsome to behold. Like his esteemed opposite number he was everywhere, cheering, cursing and heaping a selection of choice and convoluted improbable; both on his own troops and occasionally on the approaching Rusland horde. Beneath his grim visage though he was relatively pleased with events thus far as the Rusland attack was undoubtedly flagging.
Once again the badly cut about and disorganised Rusland cavalry charged into the gallant Bashi Bazouks (using the same European cavalry 'flight to the front' pin effect) who continued to occupy the woods. This time with slightly more success but at a further cost of dead and wounded (the cavalry rolled a 2 and the Bashi Bazouks a 1 meaning a hit each and a drawn melee).
Meanwhile in the centre the scales of the battle continued to tip in the Fezian favour as despite the Rusland forces being to expand their frontage slightly it meant that their hard pressed infantry would be unable to return fire. The Fezian troops took full advantage of this and so more damaging volleys crashed out into the luckless Rusland infantry regiment in the van of the right hand column (a 6 for a hit and 4 for a pin). On the Rusland left centre though the Fezian infantry fire was ineffective, no doubt to the relief of the beleaguered target.
Again the artillery reverted to its pitiful showing as both sides failed to register any hits despite the constant chivying of the respective commanders - and being chivied by either Skavar of Abulbul was generally not considered to be beneficial to the unfortunate recipients blood pressure; draconian task masters that they were.
The battered Rusland cavalry attempted to disengage from the Bashi Bazouks in order to save the remnants of the regiment and their despised opponents showed no inclination to follow (this was a house rule - cavalry could disengage from infantry after a round of melee) and so with enormous relief the surviving troopers limped away from the scene of their defeat.
Skavar continued to press forward in the centre and with the largely forgotten left flank infantry that were supposed to working in concert with the Rusland cavalry although had been long since outdistanced but their mounted comrades. The remaining Rusland cavalry unit pressed on and rounded a further small wood - only to find their planned route to the fortress blocked by the sole Fezian mounted unit left behind expressly for just such an eventuality. Silently, the Fezian troopers deployed into line, dipped their lances and with the sounding of the charge surged forward to crash into their mounted adversaries.
With flashing blades, lances rising and falling, whinnying horses and the cheers, shouts, curses and screams of the combatants the fight swung first one way and then the other. Eventually the Fezian horsemen gained the upper hand and so the Rusland troopers fell back in some disorder, away from their vengeful assailants (a score of 2 for Fezia and a 6 for Rusland meaning a single hit on the Rusland regiment).
The Fezian infantry in the centre continued to smother their hapless opponents with rifle fire. The heavily engaged lead regiment of the Rusland right hand column continued to suffer from its twin assailants and whilst the damage was immaterial the chaos and confusion within the ranks required yet a further halt in order to reorganise (a miss and a pin result - a 1 and 4 scored). The extreme right flank Fezian regiment continued to fire and in doing so swept the Rusland infantry with damaging losses (score of 6 for a hit).
Finally, and at long range, a parting volley from Bashi Bazouks completed the destruction of the Rusland cavalry and all semblance of order was lost as the battered and bloodied survivors limped back to the safety of the rest of the army. Skavar's great plan had failed.