Meiyvr visited Kaal Manor in the morning. At the gate, she told the guard she was looking for Captain Janaki, and was directed to the yard where tents had been setup to house refugees and militia practiced on straw men with lance and spear. Captain Janaki looked busy, but recognized Meiyvr and rode over to her. “What do you want?” she asked, looking down from the saddle.
“You know, just checking in, to make sure we’re on the same page,” the sorceress said, while casting a charm spell.
Captain Janaki ordered a guard to remove her from the estate. The guard obeyed, but was quite nice about it. He suggested she return after the battle so they could celebrate.
Undeterred, Meiyvr waited outside, then returned to the gate. This time, she asked the guard to let her see Lady Kaal. The guard refused to disobey his captain’s orders, but was understanding. Meivyr walked out, turned herself invisible, and flew into the compound. The curtains of an open window drew her inside to an empty guest room. She was met at the stairs by a pair of guards. “Did you just come through a window?” Meiyvr nodded, and they escorted her to Lady Kaal’s office.
Lady Kaal was busy shuffling papers or counting money. She looked up, smiled to see Meiyvr. Meivyr cast her charm spell, and Lady Kaal blinked. She turned to her bodyguard, Kane, and asked him to leave so they could have a private word. “So, I take it you have some news for me?” She might be referring to her suggestion that Meiyvr charm Lord Jarmaath into naming Lady Kaal his sole heir. In return, Lady Kaal offered her house guard to aid in the defense of the city.
Did her spell work this time? Meivyr asked Lady Kaal to reconsider her decision at the war council, and allow Lord Jarmaath to command her guard during the battle.
Lady Kaal replied she would be willing to do so for 5,000 gp and the deed to the Laughing Manticore. That seemed fair and it might save the city. But, if Meiyvr ever tried any of her palor tricks on her again, she would be returned to her friends in a bag. So, the spell didn’t work. Why did it always seem to work for Jarvis?
We each contributed a 1,000 gp — a lot of money but we were lighter for the battle, and Meivyr returned to sign the deal. She even got a receipt. Lord Jarmaath was very pleased when Captain Janaki reported to him.
Nice work, Meiyvr.
Some Time to Kill
Lion guard pounded on our doors. Five more minutes, I thought, and rolled over. It would be a long night. Winnie was deep in thought, looking out the window at pink clouds. Meiyvr and Celirra had snuck away, holding hands. They might need more time.
In the great chamber, we were met by all the leaders. The Red Hand was on the move, and it was time. Jarvis used Immerstal the Red’s scroll to telepathically link Lord Jarmaath to Captain Lars to Sellyria Starsinger to our Sylvana. The spell would last for hours and help them coordinate their efforts during the battle. House Kaal’s Guard would be team-playing with the Lions. Jarvis also cast his hallucinatory terrain so it appeared like a murky swamp.
Jarvis and Celiira would not be with us during the battle, but if we needed them in a pinch we could summon them. In an improved, reduced pinch that is. Jarvis made himself so tiny he could mount his weasel friend Rikki, and up Celiira’s leg the rodent twined, clawing up her chain shirt, and onto her shoulder. With a parting smile, the bard headed for a high tower to inspire the defenders of the city. Lord Jarmaath told us to remain here. For our first trick, Garrock pulled some sun rods out of our bag of holding.
It wasn’t long before we were called to action. Two groups of hill giants were hurling boulders at the walls. As the giants were out of missile range, Lord Jarmaath organized two sorties to take them out. The other group was led by Captain Janaki included our schoolmates the Teskerwill sisters and Van Trask and his horse Gromo.
We mounted up, and the gate was raised. From the walls, horns blasted, and swords beat on shields. Riding with us were the Jackal and four Lions: Townsend, Daltrey, Entwistle, and Roon. “Who the hell are these guys?” I thought, never having seen them before. Garrock ran with our horses. Over our heads, boulders in great arching shots bounced off the thick walls. With each successful strike, a crack was formed or an existing one extended. Loud chunks were shaved off, tumbling onto the palisades. If nothing was done, the wall would be breached, and the horde would swarm in like angry ants. The hill giants ignored us, bent to the task, not even taking the time to admire their last throw before picking up another and raising it in two hands.
The giants were spread out, long shadows towering at the top of a ridge, pumping like pistons. Beyond them, hundreds of hobgoblins stood watching from a safe distance. Dorian charged on horseback, leaping for his horse and hurtling for the legs of the giant, only to miss in the dim light. Meivyr pulled out a sun-rod to help. Garrock needed no horse with this trident running to take on a giant. Sylvana and the Lions preferred to fight from horseback, while Winnie, Meivyr, and I dismounted. Dorian and Sylvana teamed up on a giant, battering him, while Winnie helped us all with an inspiring prayer.
Meanwhile, the Lions were harassing a giant with ride by attacks. Not doing much, but doing their best. Winnie hefted her giant bane, it pulsed black and blue in the shadows, and smashed a giant’s big toe. That got his attention. He picked up a massive club in two hands and backhanded my sister, denting her breastplate. Garrock came over to help Winnie, while Dorian and Sylvana finished one. One down.
Winnie turned and ducked, raised her mace high and bringing it down on the kneecap. Sparks of rage and indiscernible slurs, the brute it out on Garrock as he pushed in, but just missed as the invisible staff of Fharlanghan turned the spiked club aside. Garrock struck him, and Winnie came through with another massive strike. The mace of Vraath hummed on bone and flesh! Two down.
Sylvana spurred Sherman after the uninjured giant who continued to launch boulders. The Jackal and the Lion made a good team. Sylvana cut it down to size, and Dorian fed off the scraps. Three down.
A hobgoblin sergeant started barking orders. Hundreds would be upon us if we didn’t finish this quickly.
Entwistle did some damage on the giant on the end, and Roon almost left us, saved by a prayer, as he wheeled his horse around, a club raising a spout of dirt at his side. Meiyvr shot a line of acid. Flanking with Winnie, I tumbled aggressively under the swinging club, and struck deep with my rapier, a vein in the thigh. Neato!
While the heavy fighters gathered the giant’s sacks for plunder, Jack and Winnie stood before the teetering giant. Seething praise for Fharlanghan,Winnie crunched his gut with a killing blow. As I was flanking, I got the death wind, but never mind. A phalanx of hobgoblins marched toward us. Tower shields and long spears raised. It was tempting to fight, but we turned for the gate, scrambling onto our horses.
Grave news from Lord Jarmaath. While the other sortie had neutralized the giants, it was not before the western wall was breached. Van Trask, Gromo, and four Lions fell. The Teskerwills and Captain Janaki had all made it thanks to Van Trask who had stayed to finish off the last giant. Hobgoblin were massing, and the mercenary Shining Axes had taken position to beat them back.
We turned out the giant’s sacks and found nothing of value, just gems and coin, and some household goods which we donated to the cause. We used this time to catch our second wind by drinking some healing potions. Winnie needed to save her divine magic for the fight to come.
Fire, Fear, Foes! Awake!
Cries of terror from the southern wall. We raced out to see a red dragon sweep over the walls, spreading flame on the halfling neighborhood surrounding the Shrine of Yondalla. Wooden structures exploded, and a wall of fire spread from its wake. This was a job for a wizard. As since Immerstal the Red was indisposed, we sent a page for Jarvis.
A weasel scuttled up the stairs ridden by a tiny wizard. Even with all the bedlam we could hear him loud and clear. “I have a plan,” he said as we made our way to the southern battlements.
Using spells, he buffed up Sylvana with bull’s strength. Winnie pulled out a couple extra scrolls of flying and cast it on us all except Jarvis and Meivyr. Resistance from fire and protection from evil were also cast. Jarvis used a spell called Haste of us all. We split up our invisibility potions and Sylvana and Garrock each drank one. Meivyr made duplicates of herself. She also turned me invisible as she had during our fight with the half-dragon men. I could fly and make deadly shots with the shock arrows taken from Ulwai Stormcaller.
Jarvis planned to supervise from Sylvana’s back. Winnie and Meivyr stayed on the wall to support us. All this took some time so the dragon had another pass. Thankfully most citizens had been evacuated, but if we didn’t work quickly there would be nothing left of their homes.
Garrock flew up to meet the dragon (though I could not see him.) I also flew up with my bow to within point blank distance and hit him in a soft spot on the side of his neck. The dragon was stung, but saw no one. Meivyr who was on the rampart removed a shield spell of protection from the dragon. Enraged he now had a target and arched downward, and I heard Garrock curse as he missed with his trident, and the lion man appeared. The dragon breathed flame on the walls. Sylvana (not visible), Winnie and Meivyr and her duplicates were scorched though Meivyr and Sylvana were able to avoid the worst. Winnie, poor Winnie sooty-faced and hacking.
Now, it was Sylvana’s turn. The dragon roared in pain, as the dragon bane blade thrust into its shoulder. The fighter appeared before him, floating. The sword dark with blood, flesh singed. Abithriax, that was his name, and he had met his match. Jarvis said in a tiny voice “ray of enfeeblement” and like that the dragon was weakened. Meiyvr tried to remove more spells from the dragon, but this time it failed. Abithriax stood still in air, and launched claws, tail, and mouth against the fighter. A claw pierced near the neck with a terrible gash, but it would take more than that. Jarvis followed Meivyr’s lead and was able to take away the dragon’s mage armor. I taunted the dragon speaking in Draconic as I fired three arrows, something I had been practicing but had yet to try in combat. One struck, but I hit the wound that Sylvana had started. The dragon turned to me and opened wide his mouth. Sylvana and I were engulfed in flame, but I evaded it. One feeble last gasp for Abithriax.
Epilogue (by Mike)
As the flame-pinwheeling head of Abithriax goes spinning away from his neck high above Brindol, a cheer can be heard from those defenders who were able to spare a glance from the furious hand-to-hand combat now enveloping the city.
Straight below, in the southern neighborhoods, the fires around the Temple of Yondalla are extinguished and many halfling homes and businesses are saved. While at the southern gates, the defenders exchange fierce arrowfire with the hobgoblin horde, urged on by cacophonic horns and relentless drums.
To the west, flying beasts — wyverns, manticores, and cryosphinxes — do chaotic swirling battle with the Tiri-Kitor to hold a three-dimensional line above the Elsir River. The giant owls and their wild elf riders use their greater maneuverability to avoid teeth and claws while arrows and manticore tail spikes fly back and forth with deadly precision as Sellyria Starsinger calls down lightning bolts upon the invaders.
To the north, what appeared to be a front ignored by the Red Hand, is now suddenly overrun inside the walls by what had been a large but invisible pack of barghests who had simply teleported into the less-protected portion of the city. A cavalry led by Captain Janaki of House Kaal and the strange paladin of Wee-Jas, Zayn, charges to meet the devil-hound shapeshifters.
But it is the east where the battle is bloodiest. Slowed down by the illusory swamp outside the walls, hundreds of dead hobgoblins and ogres litter the farmlands on either side of the Dawn Way, cut down by militia and Lion Guard arrows, halfling sling stones, and evocation magic from a source too small to see. But while heavily-armored ogres pound at the gates, a frighteningly-large section of wall has been destroyed by the hill giants. At the moment, the Shining Axes, the legendary dwarf mercenary troop holds back the majority of the goblins. Their two-hundred deep voices join together with the clear, sublime tones of the half-elf bard Celiira Neston, singing a dwarven saga of a vast underground city lost to darkness, that may as well echo the tale of her own Talar. The voices cry together, “Never again, not while we stand.”
As Captain Lars Urveth struggles to protect the flanks of the dwarves, they are outnumbered and rivulets of enemies dribble past them into the undefended streets of Brindol.