For backgrounds on the characters played in this campaign, look here~
Emerging from the Cobbler’s Shop with the fiendish fellow’s work laid to ruin, the party regrouped in the street once more and turned a wary eye towards the rest of the Grunge that was the lowermost section of Tsar. The battle through the warehouse had been relatively brisk and only lightly taxing of their reserves–and so the party elected to continue scouring their surroundings, having come up empty handed in pursuit of the statues so sought.
Not long after a plan had been set, the group was startled by the sudden arrival of a man in robes accompanied by a dapper half-orc swordsman; the former declared delivery of additional aide from Asharru–the half-orc, whom introduced himself as Gothroc Gro-Bromac, a specialist in synergy sent to see to more strategic assets for the party’s future endeavors (and in effect, further secure the fox-headed raksasha’s investment in the adventurers).
With Gothroc’s transportation teleporting away, the newly reinforced party proceeded to seek out passage through the twisting alleyways of the lower city–an effort to skirt the attentions of the patrolling siege undead while their search for the missing statues continued. Not half an hour after their diverted course avoiding the main pentacle plaza, however–enshadowed figures emerged before and behind the party, sectioning them off in a narrow back-alley–a band of heavily armed and armored hobgoblins who demanded they lay down their arms and come quietly.
Such threats rarely go over well with emboldened adventurers–and soon Anselme had begun to goad and taunt the hobgoblins; wasting little time, the ambush sprang to battle and the adventurers were engaged on both sides. Much to their chagrin, the group soon discovered that the hobgoblins were actually fairly stout combatants–tough, strong, well-equipped and possessing of a modicum of tactics and strategy not present in the more mindless undead servitors of the temple-city.
With direction and battlefield maneuvering the hobgoblins began working to split up the group while making an effort to target more vulnerable members; Gothroc was quick to prove himself an able hand with his scimitar, delivering a rapid succession of vicious critical hits which brought his new companions to appreciate his capabilities. Though tough, the hobgoblins were gradually beginning to lose both ground and their initial advantage against the adventurers from their element of surprise.
Just as the melee seemed to be decided, however–new aerial arrivals entered the fray as a trio of harpy archers made themselves known overhead. As the hobgoblins had been discovered to be able adversaries, so too were the harpies–and having expected weak opposition from such creatures, the group was dismayed when each of the three loosed considerably potent volleys with what seemed to be magical bows. Most disturbingly, the remaining hobgoblins let fly with a silver messenger bird after their sortie with the adventurers much to the party’s dismay.
Taking heavy fire from the air and pinned down in the tight confines of the alleyway, a quick call was made for cover–and Brother Vang provided obscuring mist such that his fellows might have reprieve from the harpies above while the hobgoblins were dealt with. By now, most of the mercenaries had been slain and the rest had begun to withdraw and regroup on either flank of the party; Pandora broke off to seek out an alternative route through a neighboring alleyway. From a great and daunting distance Meryk received an unexpected slew of arrows from an unknown assailant–swiftly driving the archer to withdraw down behind better cover from the roof-tops before further incoming fire.
Meryk began loosing arrows at the harpies above, utilizing magical mist-sight; soon, however, his winged foes began to return fire with surprising strategy–and while volleys were loosed and missed against former positions of maneuvering party members, those that did strike had begun to wear an attrition against their ranks. Cassandra took to invisibility, attempting to loose arcane attacks against the harpies–but with the height of their flight, most of the sorceress’ spells fell short.
While Brother Vang struggled to mend the wounds of his fellows and Emma, Anselme and Gothroc fought to drive back the remaining hobgoblins below–the din of the battle drew further attention from the nearby vicinity of the city, bringing four trolls to join the battle as well–the muscular brutes wading readily into the foggy mists in pursuit of potential prey. The situation was swiftly worsening with the arrival of ever more foes as further attention bore down on the adventurers–and talk began to circle of attempting to form an exit strategy after failing to sufficiently drive off the harpies above.
During the chaos the remaining hobgoblins withdrew from the field before suffering further losses; the trolls proved strong, but scarcely a match for how powerful the party had become–yet cutting down the brutes cost valuable time, a bone swarm swirling into the midst of the mists as well as the bedlam of the battle continued to unfold. With the harpies overhead, it would be difficult to withdraw; Pandora, with the benefit of magical flight, attempted to engage one of the trio melee only to be shot out of the sky by her sisters in short order–and Cassandra took considerable wounds attempting to fireball the separate harpies as well.
Half the party made a break for the neighboring alleyway, seeking to avoid the harpies and other enemies as they sought an avenue of retreat; though Meryk managed to drive off one of the harpy sisters with his bow, the remaining two loosed expert shots at any who remained out of cover for long. Hoping to draw the attention of the archers and buy his new companions some time, Gothroc made a mad dash down the main alleyway–and was indeed pursued by one of the harpies in the course of his run.
Pandora, Anselme, Cassandra and Brother Vang became separated from Emma and Meryk in the next alleyway–only to find to their dismay the arrival of a group of gnoll rangers working their way from rooftop to rooftop above, led by a pair of larger fiendish gnoll females; after taking several swift shots from above, the Pandora doubled-back to return to the mist and pursue Gothroc while Anselme, Cassandra and Vang bolted through the doorway of a building nearby.
Once inside the trio was backed into a corner without further windows or exits as two of the gnoll rangers pursued them with battle axes–and Cassandra, speaking their tongue, attempted to parlay; the sorceress was informed that their master would want her alive for questioning. Having little faith in such an outcome, Cassandra swiftly dimension doored alongside her two companions to evade the gnolls.
Back in the main alleyway, not wanting to leave empty-handed, Emma had begun to gather corpses from among the hobgoblins–for the lot had seemed well-equipped compared to most of her recent adversaries. With Anselme’s return alongside Cassandra, the young druid proved once more ever the entrepreneurial mind and set Leone to task gathering bodies as well while most of the remaining party began the long countdown of transforming back into a gaseous state for swift egress from the city.
All the while, the gnoll rangers continued to close in on the main alleyway as they maneuvered from roof-top to roof-top and the far ends of the alley; above, the remaining harpy held waiting for any to emerge from the obscuring mist–the situation appearing most dire. Pandora caught up with Gothroc elsewhere, and as the pair reviewed the situation the drow–having utilized magic to see invisibility previously, spied a wizened old man in blood red robes flying across the city towards the alleyway.
Back in the alley, the obscuring mists parted as slowly one by one the party began to make their escape via wind walk. Brother Vang held fast brandishing his immense shield to provide cover for those still transforming–and called upon divine protection to lend him sanctuary against his gathering foes. The gnolls and harpy alike sought to engage the inheritor crusader, but each in turn found themselves unable; instead, then, the gnolls began arguing loudly with the harpy over whose quarry the adventurers were and who had a right to corpses and goods left behind.
All grew grimly quiet as a new arrival made himself known–a brilliant flash of light sending pain wracking through Brother Vang before the cleric’s eyes -burst- through powerful magic. Brother Vang was warned that he and his fellows would be wise to cease any notions of continuing beyond the lowermost steppes of Tsar–that his wounds ought serve as a reminder of this threat. Badly wounded, blinded and nigh exhausted, Brother Vang managed to complete the transformation that he could join his fellows in their escape–and at long last, the alleyway was left behind as the party fled the city of Tsar to regroup at the fire-base beyond its borders.
Overnight the party regrouped as each staggered in–and once re-assembled, made their way back to the Camp to seek out Father Death’s services in repairing the rather gruesome damage done to Brother Vang’s eyes. A consensus was reached that searching door to door–given the risks of what foes may coalesce in such a scenario–was hardly an ideal approach with the present circumstances; as well, the party wished to divide and conquer the groups within Tsar. Taking the recovered corpses of the hobgoblin mercenaries, Brother Vang set about a ritual to speak with the dead–questioning each to discern information about their organization. Meryk, utilizing more grisly magic, fashioned a pair of treasure maps to the hobgoblin lair.
From the deceased it was gleaned that the hobgoblin mercenaries were under the employ of ‘the White Walker’, an old human of some power whom had been amassing them as a private personal army among the cliff warrens of the lowermost steppe. Armed with this information as well as the identity of the company’s leader–a hobgoblin named Vermer–the party recovered their injuries, restocked their supplies and then set out to raid the hideout of the hobgoblins, keen at the prospect of seeking out any potential statues therein and barring that, hopefully recovering treasure and eliminating a threat.
Consulting the fresh leather maps Meryk had fashioned, the party was able to hone in on the location of the hobgoblins with relative swiftness upon the following day; whilst still taking advantage of their gaseous form from air walk, a brief scouting foray was passed against the entrance of the cave in question–a pair of sentries spied just inside among the darkness. A plan was formed then, for Cassandra, Gothroc, Emma and Pandora to reform into solid states before dimension dooring from a neighboring cave–intent on taking the two sentries by surprise and slaying them before an alarm could be raised. The rest of the party would swiftly enter the cave in the meantime and begin reforming–and once regrouped, the adventurers could storm whatever remained within the cave.
Cassandra and her counterparts returned to flesh and blood once situated out of sight, and with this the rest of the party began to traverse the distance to the cave; gathering together, the four teleported directly behind the two sentries posted at the cave entrance as planned. Not planned, however, were the twelve hobgoblin infantrymen further in the antechamber of the cave system–the lot of which roused quite readily at the sudden surprise arrival of a small band of adventurers. Seizing the initiative, the four descended on the two sentries–slaying the first and heavily wounding the second; their comrades, however, were quick to raise an alarm–and more to the worry of those gathered, seemed to all too readily recognize the party for who they were and declared such.
With the rest of the party en route and gaseous for the foreseeable future, Emma, Gothroc and Pandora fanned out to meet the charge of near to a dozen heavily armed and armored hobgoblins while Cassandra received a volley of arrows from archers near the rear of the cave; though heavily wounded, the sorceress swiftly shrouded herself with magical invisibility before flying free from the cave–commencing a bombardment of powerful fireballs. As with those enemies engaged in the alleyway, the martial trio found their adversaries now durable, strong and filled with fervor and conviction; blows were exchanged in a fierce melee as the adventurers were outnumbered nearly four to one.
Emma and Gothroc maneuvered to fight back to back while Pandora dodged, weaved and tumbled among the ranks of the infantry–flanking and landing sneak attacks against vital areas as she worked her blade with wicked speed. Once more Gothroc flourished expert strikes with his scimitar–while Emma’s more brutal style leveled devastatingly powerful strokes of her huge weapon, shields buckling and warping ineffectually beneath her assault. Though the three made headway against their enemies, the hobgoblins were relentless and more were arriving by the moment.
Cassandra’s efforts to soften the party’s foes with artillery could scarcely keep up with fresh arrivals among the cave–and on the front line, Pandora recognized as hobgoblin shamans shrouded their compatriots with magical energy resistance and channeled healing among their ranks while a sergeant shouted orders and maneuvers. With the rest of the party still tied up reforming, Brother Vang and Anselme’s healing forestalled among such, time was critical; to buy her brethren breathing room, Cassandra loosed a storm of sleet into the cave’s midst before plunging the rear of the cavern into a magical darkness even the hobgoblins could not see through–which momentarily stymied the archers and caused the infantry to withdraw and regroup.
A pair of hobgoblin barbarians proved the most formidable of foes among the frontline, crashing past the defensive line Gothroc and Emma had managed to project with the threat of their weapons and seeking to make their way back to the gaseous forms of their compatriots–still vulnerable in the rear. Brother Vang and Anselme were partly injured while still attaining their full physical manifestations before Emma and Gothroc were able to drive the pair back, slaying one once Pandora disemboweled the raging hobgoblin before sending the otehr to fully withdraw back through the cover the magical darkness provided.
With five of the infantrymen laid dead and dying, warhorns were heard alongside shouts in the dark–a ballista bolt sailing between the adventurers from somewhere unseen; in their moment of surprise, a pair of silver messenger ravens took flight from among the dark, darting out from the cave entrance before any could react and flying swiftly up and out of sight among the cliffs. Adrenaline surging and hearts racing, the three battered and bloodied combatants stood fast as the remaining hobgoblins withdrew from the front line to regroup with their comrades.
Echoing shouts and orders could be heard, the mercenaries doubtless shoring up their defenses deeper in the caves; Brother Vang and the others had finally reformed with the lengthy process of magic–with many wounds which needed tending. Once Cassandra lifted the veil of darkness, carnage lay strewn still within the entrance of the caverns–but all the hobgoblin mercenaries had fallen back deeper into the natural darkness of the cave system. With trepidition, the adventurers regrouped in kind and prepared with some uncertainty for the long and brutally bloody battle which doubtless lay ahead–the hobgoblins had been underestimated, and just what opposition remained would be discovered all too soon…
This session, Gothroc Gro-Bromac is a new addition to the party. Welcome aboard, Gothroc!