Monday, March 28, 2011

Dead Again

This recap begins shortly after the companions have finished taking the north end of the mountain pass south of Forna Nogue and Colonel Garret's camp. The companions, after a short respite, decide it is best to make way without resting for the evening, believing that they still hold the element of surprise. Assuming that none of those fortifying the north end of the hilly pass were fortunate enough to escape.

That night, they leave the remainder of Garret's force behind. Nine survived the initial attack, including Garret, but the Colonel surprisingly asks to join the companions, believing that he will be more help in the short term, at the vanguard. The companions accept his offer, and they leave immediately. Cor'Nal shapeshifts into a squirrel and hides away in one of Ademar's loot bags in order to (circumvent the rules) rest and regain the use of his spells without slowing the entire group. While staying a few minutes behind themselves along with Garrett, they send Raell and Gareth ahead to scout.

Shortly before nightfall, Gareth and Raell are stopped in their tracks by the sound of slow-trotting horse-hooves. They scramble to find a hiding place amongst the rocks of the high-ground. Gareth assumes this is in order to ambush the scouts. He is wrong.

Once the scouts come into view, approximately 70 feet or so away, Raell opens fire with his longbow, much to Gareth's surprise. After a short battle, Raell successfully kills one rider, but the other wisely turns and flees. Easily outpacing the two heroes on foot, who disregard a chase entirely.

Gareth, a man who admires and respects Raell greatly for his bravery and moral fortitude, resists his instinctive urge to berate the half-elf for his seeming tactical incompetence, and instead opts for stern looks and biting sarcasm. In response Raell has little to say, but seems annoyed by the attention regardless. Raell has no idea at this time how serious his mistake was.

Raell and Gareth make the decision to wait in their current position to wait for the others and report their mistake. When they arrive, Raell decides to leave out the details of how the second scout escaped, though Gareth makes a half-hearted attempt to do it for him, hoping Raell will accept responsibility. Raell refuses to take the baton. While annoyed and suspicious, Garrett says little knowing that he is among strangers. He also knows that these companions are powerful, and while he does not fear them individually, he respects that they have lived this long in these small numbers and leaves them to their own devices and seeming lack of leadership/accountability.

That night, a hurricane bearing down off the eastern coast of Katja-Lor brings a torrent of rain, along with it come winds averaging 80 miles an hour with gusts consistently in the range of 120 miles an hour. Oddly, the companions decide to trek on, though they do not get far. Several times Ademar is dumped by the force of the waters in the now-flooded canyon pass and gusts of wind. He is twice in the throes of drowning but he is able to save himself both times. After struggling in this manner for only a mile or so of travel. They decide to wait out the two-day storm in an artificial outcropping created by the powerful druid.

After the storm ends, an extreme winter chill comes on the wind, dropping temperatures to a finger-numbing 20 degrees on the still-damp warriors. A quick "Endure Elements" spell by the druid for the Colonel and all is well. This day the companions walk the full length of the rest of the mountain pass. In order to make sure that the force ahead is what they expected to encounter, Cor'Nal shifts into the form of a small bird and flies South. He is not surprised when he finds a force approximating the one they had encountered before, but this time with one extra giant. The three giants however seem less a threat than before as they are apparently the far less dangerous variety of hill giants and not the stone giants they encountered earlier.

Cor'Nal returns to his companions to report the force of two-score Katja-Lorians and three Hill Giants. After a quick discussion over strategy, they rush to attack.

Cor'Nal again flies ahead of the group, waiting for them to come into view. When he sees them, he transforms the North side of the Eastern ridge, what was before a sheer stone wall, into a makeshift set of stairs, so his companions can easily climb to meet their enemies. After that, he casts the spell "Windwall" in order to keep the enemies across the other side of the canyon from successfully entering the fray. The plan as intended, works flawlessly.

The battle rages and the Katja-Lorians take heavy initial losses while the group remains largely unharmed. Besali seems top take the brunt of the initial damage from the first Hill Giant to enter the fray, but Cor'Nal quickly intervenes to assist his furry friend. Bravely, Gareth and Ademar turn back toward the north to engage the rushing giant when it seems that it may be too much for Cor'Nal and Besali to handle alone. With cries of "We can take 'im, Ademar", Gareth begs the elf on, and the combination of spell, arrow and steel make quick work of the first giant who falls heavily into the roadway upon death.

During the fight with the giant, Raell and the Colonel have pushed Southward along the ridge, killing all Katja-Lorians unfortunate enough to find themselves in their path. Eventually, a second giant hurls himself over the rocks in their path, while a third does the same behind them. Raell and Colonel Garret are now trapped between two giants, with a couple of Katja-Lorian grunts thrown in as garnish.

Unseen by the group, a red-robed figure blinks into the battlefield, below at the Southern end of the ridge. This is the turn of the tide.

The giants in the fight with Raell and Garrett score several huge blows before the first one is killed, falling twenty feet to the stone floor beneath. Several seconds after the fight with the two giants begins Gareth and Besali join the two warriors while Ademar and Cor'Nal provide support in the form of arrows and spells.

During this time the robed-figure makes his presence felt and immediately engages who he believes is the biggest threat. It doesn't take him long to learn that Cor'Nal is the one who must die first. Silently, foregoing any threats or declarations of superiority the robed-figure efficiently begins casting various spells which, at first, have no effect on the powerful druid. A few rounds of this futility ensue as the druid and the robed-figure trade shots, the druid seemingly gaining the upper hand, before the robed-figure resorts to evocation, casting a lightning bolt that sends the druid reeling.

The final giant is felled by a trip attack from Besali shortly after this. It is the second such attack that Besali has successfully employed on this giant. The companions are moving in for the kill as this giant is still alive, though mortally wounded. Before they can do so however, the robed-figure sensing the druid much less a threat than before, casts a fireball down upon the tightly contained group of warriors. This blast kills Colonel Garrett and Raell Kromwell instantly. Besali escapes with burnt dog hair and Gareth, while also wounded, survives the blast intact.

Another short barrage between the robed-figure and the druid as Besali finishes the felled giant. Once the giant is vanquished, the robed-figure blinks away in a dramatic flash of light and sound. He is gone.

The group takes a moment to inventory the fallen. It isn't long before Ademar comes to the conclusion that both Colonel Victor Garrett and his friend, Raell Kromwell are both dead.

After the realization, he, Gareth, Cor'Nal and Besali move to finish the fight. The Windwall spell, having ended by this time, makes the warriors across the cavern dangerous again. Ademar deftly tries to taunt them into fleeing or surrendering. After a short time, less than a minute, they choose the former.

Cor'Nal chases the remainder of the Katja-Lorians, those that do not meet death from Ademar's arrows, south of the canyon, into a clearing where he meets them with a "Flamesword" spell. Stupidly, seeing that they outnumber the elf six to one they attempt to take him to save whatever face they can with their surviving superiors. They fail miserably as the druid slaughters them to a man.

Before Cor'Nal returns, Ademar begins looting the corpses. He finds very little to celebrate about as his friend, at least in the short-term, seems to have died for very little. They end the session with discussion of how to move forward with the dead they have in their midst.

Do they push on to Eystlund, or return to Arcadia in hopes that Lord Darmot Kromwell will put forward the coin to revive his dead brother...

Perhaps Lord Kromwell will wish to fight in his brother's stead, now that he has reason to ignore the wishes of the ruling Houses of Arcadia.