Saturday, 21 June 2014

Pathfinder: The Crusade part 1

For Noleski and Svetlana, there was only the briefest time for a honeymoon before we were undertaking the final prep to leave for the Crusade. The Dawnlands army consists of the Dawn Riders (an elite cavalry unit trained by our pet paladin, Akaros) and 200-300 orcs (from our efforts in integrating the former warband that had terrorised our southern border). As Queen, Svetlana’s also figurehead for the Brevic army proper (which includes clerics, wizards and engineers as well as fighters); although in truth this is led by General Howlan Garess, Lord of one of the noble Houses believed to be loyal to Noleski and House Surtova – my House too, now. We depart in style – goodbyes said in private beforehand, Svetlana leads the army on the back of a beautiful white horse (I’ve had some practice on her and she’s a well-trained mount, but ride is one of about 4 skills I have no ranks in). With her shiny new crown and a cape in white with the Brevic heraldry emblazoned across the back (and, at Svetlana’s request, lined in dark grey so she can still use it when she needs to be a little more covert), the queen makes an impressive sight.

As we march towards the Worldwound, we pick up the unit of Golems from Pitax – those creepy guards that bothered particularly Alexei so much before. We are keeping an eye on them because we don’t trust Irovetti at all. Also joined by armies from Numeria and other places on route before arriving in Nerosyan, the capital of Mendev. We were introduced to Allisandra Galfrey, Queen of Mendev, who would be leading the Crusade. Tall and beautiful, as elves often are, her manner and bearing suggest she is used to being obeyed in everything and quickly – to the point she probably doesn’t even notice; this is just how it has always been in her life.

Crusade Day arrived, with a big ceremony in the temple of Iomedae. After this, we departed to begin the battles. The landscape beyond the walls of Nerosyan is hideously barren and we’ve been told not to eat or drink anything we find there so it’s important to keep the supply lines safe: we may have rings of sustenance but our troops don’t.

Our first challenge is offered when scouts report that a nearby town still has humanoid inhabitants, being kept as slaves by the demons inhabiting the area. We step up and volunteer the Brevic army (with attachments) to rescue these unfortunate individuals. Surrounding the town, I lead from the dry river bed on the east with the more nimble foot troops (including Aaron), whilst Alexei and Evander come in from the south, Akaros leads the Dawnriders from the plains on the west, other troops come in from the north and Kieran on Brutus from the sky. Massively outnumbering the demons, the fight is pretty one-sided. Alexei uses Stone Shape to build a flimsy stone cage around a large group of demonic troops, before throwing in alchemists’ fire. Aaron and I were working together (with other troops including some clerics Svetlana thinks Noleski has specially asked to keep an eye on her – the ‘weakest’ (in terms of HP) of the party, she tends to try to suck it up when she gets hurt, but these clerics are healing her up without her needing to ask), when a roll of a 1 meant I accidentally triggered my magic rod of ‘I’m a Queen’; summoning my pavilion to add to the confusion.

Above the town-turned-battlefield, Kieran spotted a large demon who seemed to be in charge. Brutus catapulted in to it, and an epic aerial battle ensued.

Alexei set up a gravity trap: Evander, standing one side of it, taunted demons into running towards him into the trap, where gravity was reversed. He laughed as the demons fell to the sky – when the battle was over and the spell ended, there were several thumps as the demons finally landed.

Once it was clear the Brevic army was winning (with no loss of life and few major injuries: weight of numbers is a wonderful thing, when it’s on your side), Svetlana focused her attentions on finding the survivors whose presence had sparked this side quest. Huddled within a building she found a group of humans, elves, halflings and other assorted humanoids looking pretty terrified. With her cheery attitude a little more forced than normal in the shock of her surroundings, she greeted them.

“Hi, my name’s Svetlana. I’m from Brevoy.”

“Brevoy? You… you mean there’s something out there? Something outside?”

“Of course!” The middle-aged elf’s comments surprised her.

“Then why did no one come before?”

“We came as soon as we knew you were here. How long have you been here?” Expecting years; hoping for months. But they had been born here: even the eldest elves. These people had been trapped in hell for hundreds of years. For Svetlana, this revelation was terrifying and opened her eyes to some of the less pleasant aspects of Golarion she had been sheltered from: a moment of destroyed naivety. She quickly arranged for the refugees to be taken back to Nerosyan and the Brevic army headed on for its next target: the besieged Star Keep.

The fortress, a beacon of hope rising from the barren landscape, was surrounded by an immense army of demons. For a while, we lay on the crest of the hills behind which our army hid, just watching the force below us trying to work out how we could break through. Driving a wedge to the front door would probably work, but with significant loss of life. Building a bridge to walls was discussed but deemed impractical (no, really? I hear you cry. Well, we were feeling pretty desperate).

Going over discarded, what about going under? Tunnelling into the fortress was again dismissed: demons may later find our tunnel and use it to their advantage. Instead, engineers and stone-shaping wizards took a few days to carefully, carefully tunnel from our hidden location (whilst the rest of us made efforts to distract and destroy demonic scouts and otherwise keep the work from being discovered). Once the tunnel came near the walls, its course turned to encircle the walls. The ceilings were carefully laced with explosives and all the workers came back out. Explosives triggered, and we took advantage of the ensuing chaos to reach the gates and enter. Once the dust and shards of rock settled, it was clear that a good third of the demon army had been caught up in the explosions and destroyed and the rest had taken flight or been killed by our army on the way in. The clerics in the Star Keep filled the newly created moat with holy water and we were welcomed by a relieved populace!

...

Moving on to Part 2.

No comments:

Post a comment