Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Post War Session - 30/10/2009 and 29/11/2009 - The Siege of Greenford!

This is a write up of the two sessions that covered the massed attack on Greenford by the Ravensoul Cabal's undead...

01:30 – 06:30 THE SIEGE OF GREENFORD

The group now find themselves in the midsts of an epic struggle to protect Greenford and its residents. Impossibly, the Ravensoul Cabal have somehow moved a huge force of undead horrors, unliving siege engines and their own insane numbers to the towns perimeter, and now move to destroy it.

The defenders of the town, dwarfed in numbers by the approaching nightmares, take up their various posts along the outer, half-built stone defences. Adrielle's Eight stand ready to the north of the group's position, whilst Brynn and a force of town militia can be seen in a tight formation to the south.

Zombies - staggering corpses of various origins and conditions – come in a great wave towards the town, the frozen air thick with the stench of their corruption. All along the lines the defenders hold, letting the animated corpses come to them, reluctant to give up the scant protection of the stone fortifications.

And then the battle is joined. Our heroes and the Eight do well against these necrotic meat puppets, slashing and hacking at them, and thinning their ranks in mere moments. At the other points of contact, the militia, many of whom are partly intoxicated, or who have never engaged in real life combat before (having been too young to fight in the Aelwyn Wars), do not fare so well, and more than a few fall, only to rise and blank-eyed puppets of evil.

However, before this first wave have been crushed, a second wave of blasphemies is spotted waddling and spinning from the foxfire lit forests to the east.

They are bloated corpses, obese and leaking green-blue witchfire from poorly stitched incisions that criss-cross their bodies. The group see several of them waddle to a small group of men who are out in the field fighting some standard zombies, and cry out as the horrors move up to them, and then illuminate the night with horrible light as they explode in a blast of unnatural flame!

Realising that these things could easily punch holes in the town's flimsy inner wall, the group move to intercept (once they have freed themselves from the remaining zombies).

The initial neat formations and well laid plans begins to disintegrate under the pressure of battle, though the group fare incredibly well. Things become more unpleasant when yet another lines of undead appear from the forests blazing depths; skeletons wrapped in black bandages, with unnaturally long, claw like fingers, and more of the spear wielding, mummified dead like those the group battled at the bandit's lair. A ghoul leads them (and yes, it ends up toe to toe with the sword mage, though it does not manage to harm him too much)

The group suffer wounds at the hands of the monsters, though Emmiven and Grigori work hard to keep everyone fixed up, and although a couple of the Deathflame Zombies and Ravensoul Skeletons are able to blast away and rake at the walls, they do not manage to break through them.

All along the eastern walls the battles rage. Undead tear and claw at the living, and good folk are slain and brought into horrific unlife. Adrielle's Eight fight against a mob of crazed cultists, their songs, spells and swords inflicting horrible damage to them, whilst the less potent militia simply hack and thrust at anything that shambles within reach, praying to Banturn'Vortax, Cellinthar'Valladir, Namaea'Isaala and all the other Gods of light and protection that they will see the end of this battle through living eyes.

From the forests the group spot something huge – roughly the size of a small dracani – covered in warped blue-green flames, and flanked by an too living, and all too evil soul swathed in black bandages and dark robes. At the same time, a line of screaming, ragged fanatics erupts from the forest, swinging flails, bones and other nasty weapons.

Everyone gives only a moments pause to take in the horror; a vast skeletal thing larger than a house, that has a strangely shaped rib cage, filled with inwardly pointing barbs and spikes – as well as several screaming soldiers who are being slowly consumed by the cold, necrotic fires that cloak the thing.

“Try not to get swallowed by that” quips Grigori as the thing stumps towards them, its cavernous maw opening to gather cold, decaying flames.

And then the battle recommences. The robed cultist commands foul powers, and sows chaos amongst the party, whilst the near mindless flagellants inflict significant harm by dint of their sheer numbers and fearlessness.

As for the huge skeletal monster...

It is identified as an Ankolian Undead – a vast corpse given unlife through rare unholy fires summoned by dark rituals – and it quickly demonstrates its ability to exhale a chilling blast of rotting fire. However, so intense in the parties concentration on this hulking threat, that it is cut down and blasted by radiant energy in mere moments, its smouldering remains casting a dim glow over the rest of the conflict.

The Corpse Priest is another matter. Surprisingly resourceful and able to unleash mental and physical torments, he battles on, taking advantage of the groups distraction from the flagellants (and the fact that several hard hitters are bogged down battling the last of the skeletons).

During this battle, the group gets split up, and for a moment Shnecke comes close to being taken down as he finds himself separated from the main party (luckily Grigori pours vitalizing energy into him before it is too late, and he is able to surge forth and battle on).

With this wave defeated more organised defenders (those who were not drinking, and some mercenaries who had stopped in Greenford) have come to defend the section of wall the group were watching. The group turn their attention to the south, where Brynn and five wild-eyed militiamen fight a desperate battle against a huge knot of skeletons, zombies, a pale-faced warrior with blackeyes and the unnatural grace of a vampire, and a curious muscle-wreathed skeletal horror with elongated, bladed fingers and mantis-like arms, which give it terrific reach.

The group move with caution, the warriors forming a line whilst Seren and Grigori hang back to support them. At first the undead do not notice their approach, and several of the militia are slain before the group get there. However, more and more of them become aware of the groups advance, and they turn to attack.

Soon only Brynn remains alive, the militia falling to the zombies and skeletons, and the group join with him, and destroy the horrors.

At this point, from the high cliffs that rise from the forests, there comes a loud, dreadful sound. A bloodless scream, followed by a horrific boom, and in a graceful, chillingly beautiful line, a row of necromantic falling stars arc from a hidden area atop the cliffs, and slam into the towns outer walls, blasting away at wood, and reanimating any killed by them.

Weary, but still full of adrenaline and the will to be victorious, the party decide to climb the cliffs and to silence whatever nightmares are up there (this decision is made even easier when they spot Adrielle's Eight doing exactly the same).

With a yell, the party charge towards the forests and the cliffs there. However, as they reach the flickering edge of the nighted realm, a ragged line of lean, hungry looking men and women – some dressed in ornate leather armour and wielding greatswords of archaic construction and great decoration, others wearing the simple garb of labourers and merchants – appear. All have eyes like blood and extended eye teeth, and move with an unnatural fluid grace and terrifying speed.

Vampires!

The group stand firm and the undead blur in towards them, not knowing that Seren and Grigori wield magics which can call upon the very essence of life and the sun – magics that burn at their cold, unliving flesh with especial vigour, and which cling to them, preventing their unholy metabolisms from healing their wounds, and quickly reducing them to screaming ash.

The warriors lay about them also, hewing heads from spurting necks, impaling black hearts with sundering blows and moving to ensure that their blows have the best chance of landing that fatal blow.

And then it's over, the vampires either slain, or driven off, and the group plunge into the forest, suddenly dodging the boulders and arrows that are being lobbed at them by more undead at the cliffs top. The night air above seethes with cold white and blue flames as another volley of deathly missiles screams towards Greenford, and the group realise that time is now of the essence.

Climbing the cliff is a challenge beyond words. Initially the group are driven back by the furious assualts of the undead at the top. However, with Seren and Grigori waiting at the bottom, the more physically powerful characters slowly and agonisingly make their way up the cliff face, battling swarms of limber ghouls that crawl like spiders to stop them, and avoiding the deadly barrage from above.

Once these guys have made it to the top, Seren enacts a spell that lifts her and the priest to a height just shy of the top of the cliff. Waiting for them is the barbarian, who grabs them and hauls them to “safety”.

Then, the nights final horror is revealed...

Four necromantic cannons stand side by side; hideous constructs of gristle, mummified bone and tissue, and skeletal remains, carved with darkly shining runes of abominable necromantic and evocatory power. From their fang-studded maws spurt the cold fireballs that threaten the town, and as the group destroy the boulder and bow wielding undead at the edge of the cliff, they pull skeletal limbs from the ground, and shake themselves like great dogs awakening from a deep sleep. Then they move to attack.

But they are not alone. Five emaciated, mummified, animated cadavers with black nails and gums, and coldly glowing eyes surge from them towards the group – Wights. Another thing is also here; the reanimated and augmented corpse of an Urgorgorii. This rotting zombie gives a thick, bubbling bellow, before charging the group.

A cliff top battle with powerful undead is never good, but the party do surprisingly well. The Cannon Warder is quickly blasted apart by spears of radiant energy, and blasts of chaotic power, though it nearly pushes several characters over the cliffs as it unleashes a great ror of brute agony, that pops eardrums, dazes those too close, and shoves them back with its raw power.

Of more concern are the Wights, who's touch drains life, and who's nimble animation makes them hard to pin down. Brynn finds himself flanked by them at one point, but is saved by the very folks he berated earlier this day.

The group do not seem to notice that each wound inflicted on these undead makes the Deathbelchers shudder, as if experiencing their pain.

Two of the cannons are destroyed by sheer brute force. Seren learns quickly that psychic energy cannot hurt them, but she unleashes sheets of withering fire and her chaos bolts find deadly purchase in the minds of the Wights. Jager uses his dark nooses to drag undead from the cliffs, and battles from behind the cover of several boulders, using the plentiful shadows as portals through which he can place his blows. Varracuda comes to the attention of the sorceress by unleashing truly powerful spells through his ancient rune sword; conjuring sweeping maelstroms of flame that wither and consume, and sending spikes of green fire darting towards any undead that come too close, whilst Emmiven does a fantastic job of holding the line, supporting his allies, and dealing deep, destructive blows to his enemies.

Grigori is a horror of radiant power, and his spells cut through many of the undead as if they were mist, leaving gaping wounds from which even their unnatural power cannot recover. The barbarian Schnecke, possessed by the primal rage of the dracani, repeatedly lands blows that could sunder trees, and soon begins to drive great holes in the barrels of the cannons, and Gorthias calls upon his own power to bolster the groups' strength, whilst unleashing deadly attacks on his foes.

At one point Gorthias and Emmiven are taken down by the deadly, icy, decaying flames of the cannons, though their allies quickly work magic or mundane miracles through the use of simply battlefield first aid, to bring them back into the fight, and so, the party holds.

Two of the cannons still battle when the last Wight is cut down by the assassin's deadly shadowed blades, and as this happens, the cannons suddenly....stop.

With the undead around them gone, these crude things loose their animating energy, and simply shut down. In a heartbeat, the desperate battle is done, and the group are victorious!

To ensure that they do not trouble anyone again, the Deathbelcher Cannons are pushed over the cliff, to smash apart in the darkness of the forest below.

EPILOGUE

There is still fighting to be done. Many groups of undead still plague the beleaguered defenders, and after climbing back down, the party help in these conflicts. Suddenly however, the battle in its entirety is over, the animated dead suddenly collapsing into exanimate piles of bones, rotting flesh and putrefying offal – their animating force suddenly turned off by some means – at least, for now.

During the battle two of Adrielle's Eight are slain, and they are horrified by this. However, whilst they battled a potent undead warrior they recovered a foul rune blade that has displayed signs of being self aware, and as the townsfolk begin the grim task of burning the undead, and collecting their loved ones from the bloody snows of the battlefield, and the first work begins on repairing the towns defences, the group gather in the Kingfisher, along with Adrielle, her Dundorin rogue Urdoin, Captain Jaden and Brynn, to help interrogate the sword and to determine what to do next...

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