The cast of heroes
Arken (Half-Elf Cleric) – leader of the partyBardan (Human Fighter) – the muscle
Knil (Elf Ranger) – the tracker
Korum Proudfoot (Halfling Thief) – the scout
Rioja Hyrule (Human Mage) – the wizard
Kima (Black Domestic Cat) – his familiar
Preparation (Day 296-301)
The requests for aid were responded to during the following week. Knil received a letter and a package from the Elves which contained a new magical grip for his bow that would make his shots truer, and a message stating that a small contingent of archers would be with them within a week. A wagon was drawn up and left just outside the main southern gates of the stronghold. Korum investigated and found that there was a letter pinned to it that was addressed to him. His thievish colleagues from various towns to the north had sent him a large shipment of weapons, some low level magical, and word that their delaying tactics were taking its toll on the approaching armies – there was a large one coming from the north and a slightly smaller one from the south. They would appear at the gates in around six or seven days time, at the same time as other uprisings would be occurring throughout the whole realm. Rioja received word that Thalleus and twenty low level mages would be joining him in a couple of days and Arken was informed that an Archpriest of Din would be arriving with a handful of clerics and a dozen or so paladins to help with the defences and the healing of any who get injured in the coming conflict. Bardan kept an eye on the training of the household troops, bringing them all up to scratch, just as he received word from Tim, their steward, that he had managed to procure the services of a well known mercenary band consisting of 150 veteran warriors, and that they would appear in the next couple of days.
Plans were discussed and the various leaders assigned to their duties; the merchants, guildhall and tavern staff would act as runners and stretcher bearers. The iron golem was instructed to destroy anyone that approached the tower by any route other than the main pathway. The gates at both entrances were locked and barred with entrance now only available by the smaller sally port doors. The guards at each watchtower and along the walls were bolstered and set to watch for the enemy’s approach, especially over the weaker points of the walls where the river flowed through and the minor gateway that led to the dungeon complex.
Over the next few days, the promised aid started to arrive. They were also assigned their tasks for the defence of the village. The lower level mages were allocated to each of the ballistae to provide Mend spells and Magic Missile, whilst Rioja, the head mage and a couple of minor mages led a back-up support team. The mercenaries were assigned to the walls and towers alongside the village’s militia, and fifty were kept back as a reserve force in case of any breakthrough. The clerics were all assigned to the tower to aid in healing anyone injured, and the paladins formed a core support force for the eastern gate. The spare ballista was set up behind the main southern gate to provide a heavy weapon support in case that gate was breached. The elves were directed to provide a strong core of missile weapons, with a handful outside the boundary of the village to act as pickets and early warning.
(Day 302) Gerudos Valley
As evening fell on the last day of preparation, the elves on picket duty reported that two large armies were approaching from the north and south. Around the same time, a band of dirty, bloodied men in light armour approached the main gates. They were a small unit of thieves tasked with slowing down the approaching enemies. They had taken many casualties, but their tricks, traps and ambushes had slowed the army down a bit. They were invited into the stronghold and sent to the inn to have their light wounds dressed and a warm meal. Just as night began to fall, the guards on the north wall called out that camp fires were being lit in the distance – the enemy had arrived.
Nothing happened during the night, but the following morning saw the approach of several siege engines and hordes of warriors towards both the eastern and southern gates. The siege army would take about two hours to arrive, but before the eastern gates appeared a small contingent from the hostile army under a flag of truce. The envoy requested the surrender of the town and all inside would be spared – all the party had to do was come outside the walls and all would be settled. The adventurers responded that they would not surrender, and did not trust the envoy. They sent out a goat as their representative to add further insult and said that the enemy would have to take the town as they would not give it up so easily.
About an hour or so later, war horns sounded and a large cry went up from the approaching enemy. The dragon cult warriors charged the stronghold carrying siege ladders, supported by a small force of archers, but then the ballistae and Elven archers opened fire. The enemy took a few casualties before they reached the gates but carried on regardless. However, they were surprised by the unexpected numbers of defenders behind the walls, and slowly they had to retreat. The siege engines closed in to make their attack, but as soon as they passed a certain point, Bardan ordered the fire arrows to target the pits of flaming oil. The fire managed to destroy several of the siege engines, and the low level mages in the ballista towers saw to the destruction of the firing mechanisms of the catapults. Only a few battering rams were now left, and these were quickly put to work on the main gates.
Fade to Black
The battle wore on with neither side gaining the upper hand or making a decisive blow. Evening approached but it seemed to be a little darker than it should ordinarily have been. The warriors outside the gates renewed their attacks and the defenders started to waiver when they saw a dark mass approaching – the Darkness had returned. Orders were barked out to start lighting fires and braziers to keep the Darkness at bay, but no sooner were they lit than they were extinguished.
An enormous gust of wind and the clap of gigantic leathery wings preceded a booming voice heard mainly in the head than by the ears, “Aspects of Aphyros come forth and meet me!” The adventurers saw that warriors on both sides of the conflict had cowered somewhat with the arrival of the dark dragon. The Darkness had reached the walls and was felling friend and foe alike, the fire in the hearts of the attacking horde soon turned to cold screams of fear and anger.
The party decided to ride out and meet the dragon at a place of their choosing outside the gates but away from the ongoing battle. They gave control of their forces over to the mage Thalleus, the Archpriest of Din and Tim, their steward. As the gates opened, the Darkness pulled back enough to let them through, but closed onto the walls again just as soon as they passed. The party headed to a clearing in the forest not half a mile away, with the Darkness dogging their heels but not attacking them.
They arrived at the glade at the same time as the great black dragon. With a final huge flap of its wings, Nephyros alighted on several large oak trees, crushing the upper boughs, and let out a mighty roar. He asked the party where he might find Aphyros skulking but the party replied that they did not know – they were more than a match for this jumped up lizard and didn’t need the good dragon’s help. This angered the proud dragon and he started to try to convince them that they were aspects of Aphyros that had to be destroyed in the same way that his aspects were destroyed by them. Arken tried to respond that they were not aspects of Aphyros but were acting under their own free will but he was struck dumb at the command of the powerful dragon lord. Nephyros leapt down from the trees to confront the upstart cleric but, angered by being struck silent, Arken swung his mace at him. He landed a solid blow, but his mace seemed to strike a solid wall of force before Arken himself was thrown back several paces by the magical recoil. Bardan had seen his companion move in to attack and he struck simultaneously, only to have the same thing occur to him. Korum, who had seen this all happen tried to hamstring the dragon, but his blow was also repulsed and he too was thrown back several paces. The dragon roared and leapt back into the trees just as the injured trio regained their feet.
Korum shouted that Nephyros was a coward and should face the party in a straight fight. At this moment, Knil launched a brace of his best magical arrows at Nephyros, but they just splintered to firewood upon impact with the magical barrier. In response, the dragon drew back his head and spewed forth a huge jet of darkness towards Arken. However, the dark breath did not reach him as it was blocked by a bright glowing barrier. Nephyros was surprised by this, but then grinned evilly as he heard the clap of another pair of enormous wings approaching the glade; Aphyros had arrived to fight the final battle. Nephyros launched himself into the air, the buffeting of his wings knocked over the adventurers, and headed directly towards the white dragon.
The adventurers realised they could play no more part in this aerial dog-fight so decided to return to the village to see if they could help out in the battle raging there. When they arrived before the southern gates, they noticed that the ground was littered with the dead and dying from the Dragon Cult horde, and the remnants of the army had started to retreat. The walls of the stockade had held up well to the onslaught of the enemy but had been damaged in a few places. However, there was still a small knot of enemy before the gates who had decided they would rather die in the service of the dark dragon lord than run away. Encouraging their horses to a gallop, the party smashed through this small knot of resistance, and headed towards the gates. The mage Thalleus ordered the gates opened and a large force of mercenaries exited and finished off the last of the evil horde.
Now that the horde had been defeated, all eyes turned to the skies above. Fear was etched on the faces of all those that watched, as Aphyros dropped to the forest floor with a wailing screech, closely followed by a triumphant looking Nephyros. The party now had to make a decision. Arken made haste to the
and requested her aid one final time to help the white dragon. She granted each
member of the party a boon that would aid them in the coming fight. Arken and
Rioja were granted extra spells, Bardan and Knil were granted extra combat
qualities and Korum became undetectable. Temple of Din
The two dragons crashed to earth about a mile from the village, so the party saddled up once more and rode out to meet their foe. They could feel the almighty struggles rumbling through the earth as they approached the scene of the battle. They got to within fifty paces only to see that Nephyros had the upper hand. Aphyros was bleeding from several large wounds and his white light was slowly dimming.
Rioja let loose with a Fireball, just as two arrows hit the dark dragon. The rest of the party moved in to strike the dragon the best they could. Korum began by slashing at the dragon’s hamstrings, causing a roar of pain to erupt from him. Bardan and Arken struck with their magical axe and mace respectively. The dragon, able to deflect his attention away from Aphyron momentarily was able to strike at both armoured warriors causing them injury. Another Fireball and magical arrow also found their mark. It was noted by Rioja that the back-blast that would have hit other party members within the area of effect of the exploding fireball seemed to be directed away from them by a barrier of white light – Aphyros was protecting them.
Another hamstring being cut by Korum, and more Fireballs hitting his upper body led to Nephyros screeching in pain and anger which was all directed at the mage Rioja. A stream of darkness was aimed at the mage causing him some discomfort, before he sent back his last Fireball. In the confusion of the melee, Arken and Bardan were unable to strike their target and Knil’s shots went wide.
Climbing up onto the dragon’s back allowed Korum to strike at another vulnerable spot. The dragon could not detect where the source of the pain was coming from, so took his anger out on those before him. Magic missiles flew in causing the dragon momentary blindness, and two more magical arrows from Knil’s bow struck true. The warrior in front of him was the easiest target, so Bardan felt the full force of the dragon’s claws and bite. Arken stepped in to heal his friend just as Korum struck another critical blow diverting the dragon’s attention away from the injured warrior. A final flurry of Magic Missiles and magical arrows made Nephyros strike back one last time, missing with his teeth and claws, and his breath weapon was diverted by a strong barrier of white light.
Fearing that he may now lose this battle, the great black dragon launched himself into the air. The few minutes of respite the party had given Aphyros, was enough time to recover some of his powers, and he too leaped into the air to catch his fleeing enemy. He pulled him back towards the ground and with his mighty jaws ripped out the throat of his eons old enemy. With a final pulse of darkness, the black dragon crashed to the earth. The damage he had sustained in the battle was too great and he slowly turned to stone. The stone image of Nephyros then crumbled to dust where he lay. Aphyros let out a huge roar of triumph; his fight was finally over.
The party cautiously approached the venerable white dragon and asked if it was finally over and whether Nephyros was truly dead. Aphyros responded that that was indeed the case, and now he must leave them to live out the rest of his days in peace. Arken asked if the party would be able to call upon him in their hour of need as a reward for their aid, but the dragon responded only that he may consider it now that his job here was completed. Aphyros called out a final farewell and flew off towards the newly risen moon.
The adventurers returned to their village to find that the clean up had already begun. Bodies were being stripped in readiness for burial or cremation, their weapons and armour being requisitioned if in good condition. The enemy were heaped onto a huge pyre but the defenders were buried within one of the crypts within the dungeon complex with full honours. The paladins that were killed were entombed within the crypt beneath the
. Overall, casualties had
been quite light for the defenders, maybe only fifteen percent, but the enemy
had suffered far more heavily. Temple
Over the next few days, the mercenaries received their final payment and headed off to adventures new. The Elves, mages, and warriors of Din all returned from where they came, and most of the thieves had already made their way back to their home guilds.
Life slowly returned to the village, and a celebration was laid on at Korum’s tavern. All were welcome and all were thoroughly entertained. However, Bardan became a little unruly and had to be physically removed – a dumping in the horse water trough brought him back to his senses and he vowed he would get even with the Halfling.