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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hellfrost - The Siege of Watchgap Fort

The adventures of an unlikely band of comrades, as observed by Urto Valja
Check out other related posts: Characters | The Bad Seed

We spend a few days in a nice inn named "The Suckling Deer". After a few days there, we're approached by a caravan leader who wants to hire us for protection; he offers to pay 100 gold. Each. We're going in a similar direction and so this is a good way to get there. In the morning, the caravan has a new addition - a wagon of dwarves and their goods. They are not too friendly nor interested in protecting the caravan as a whole. We travel for a few uneventful days, during which we try to increase better communication with the dwarves.

After a week of almost pure boredom, we reach the area near the Drakewood forest, where we find that two trees have fallen across the road, blocking our passage. A huge mob of goblins and wolves come swarming out of the forest, with some of the goblins riding the bigger wolves. Their attack is focused on the wagons, which allows us some flanking opportunities. The battle ends with a lot of dead Goblins, dead wolves and our only casualty, one dead mule. Many goblins escaped, probably to report elsewhere. Spoils of goblin armor, arms, and supplies are added to our own; the Caravan leader allowing us the spoils for our own profit. We've managed to impress the dwarves with our combat capability, and they seem to be a little more friendly.

One of the wagon mules died in the attack, so I offer my horse in its place, and we continue on. Two days later, we arrive at a townstead where we can get another mule, and sell some of the Goblin's goods.

After another two days of travel, we run across a band of Hearth Knights on a routine patrol. We exchange information, and they are surprised about the Goblin attack, at least at the numbers we describe. The Dwarf leader requests some private time with the Hearth Knight leader for some business dealings. The Hearth Knights and our caravan part ways, with the Hearth Knights expecting our return. By this time, meals are with the Dwarves and are more friendly as time goes by.

The following day we reach a small homestead that is owned by the Caravan master's personal friend. He wants to stay here for a day or so. The Dwarves are invited to stay as well. The introductions are very personal and detailed, taking a great amount of time. A feast was in preparation for our arrival and is going to be held that night. There is a great deal of story swapping about the area, the Goblins, the stead and the Dwarves. I entertain a great many folk with minor magical tricks, mostly flipping skirts up and blowing items around.

The night goes long, and the morning arrives early - with a group of Goblins attacking the stead! There is a Shaman and a heavy-hitting Ogre among them. I focus on the Shaman while Magna makes short work of the Ogre. The battle is pretty much over with by the time our host is up, armored and in the field. The stead prepares for a typical day while we get some more rest. We spend our day making repairs, performing maintenance tasks, gathering herbs and conversing with the Dwarves. We plan on leaving early tomorrow morning for our next destination - Watchgap Fort, only two more days away.

On the way to Watchgap Fort, we find a recently killed Hearth Knight, hidden just off of the road. We collect the body and all nearby items, and carry his body with us to the Fort.

We reach Watchgap Fort and report the goblin attack at the stead. The leaders want as much information as we can give them. The talk of goblins goes long into the night.

In the morning, the Knights bring breakfast and we trade our excess weapons and armor. We say our farewells and begin travel to our next destination, another homestead about a week away.

On the second day we find a goblin camp and the corpse of a young girl. A search of the camp reveals little more about their activities. We bury the girl and continue on our trip. The terrain is starting to turn into hills, slowing our progress slightly. The next day gives us two route options; we decide on a less hilly route that takes us through a canyon. This turns out to be a poor choice, which becomes obvious when rocks start dropping on us from above; we look up and see a few ogres. The caravan speeds up as a few of us break away to attack the ogres and protect the caravan. We kill a few of them and find out that the remaining ogre is the mama, and she snaps, going beserk on us, with Polaris being the closest target. I manage to pop off some quick lightning bolts before Polaris takes a hit. We investigate the ogre's lair to find some human remains of what looks to be two "Sisters of Mercy". We take what loot can be had, bury the remains that we can and rush back to the caravan.

The next day is quiet and uneventful, a nice respite from the ogre attack. The homestead is one more day away and we are all looking forward to a bath, home cooking and perhaps a bed.

We see smoke. And a lot of it. I break away and ride faster to the homestead to see if there is a need for help. We find the homesteaders burning a funeral pyre, a very large funeral pyre. Returning to Ulfwald and the caraven, I report there is not any immediate threat, but there is urgent need for healing and some minor aid. Snowfoot and I ride ahead to help where we can, with Snowfoot doing most of the work. When the rest of the caravan reaches the stead, introductions are made and we get the details of what happened. Goblins had attacked and had started killing people. Some homesteaders were actually taken, which is rare for goblin raids. We borrow a few horses and go hunting goblins in hopes of rescuing at least a few kidnapped homesteaders.

A few hours away, we find an abandoned keep which has a lot of goblin, orc and other tracks around it. This is an active area, so we dismount and continue on foot to be a little more stealthy. We sight some lookouts high up in towers. I cast a Guiding Wind on our archers, and we kill the two goblin lookouts which provides us the opportunity to sneak closer to the keep. Slowly making our way into the keep, we split into two forces, one to be a diversion outside, and one to be a strike force within. The diversion team signals an attack and a half dozen goblins storm out of the barracks and into our ambush. We search the courtyard and the other areas to seek out any remaining foes and kill them.

Going into the main keep, we sneak around and find a throne room. The room is dominated by a large throne of ice, with a big ugly orc sitting on the throne, and two orc guards beside him. We get the element of surprise and it is a quick fight ending with two dead orc guards and a hogtied orc leader. Our attempts to question him are thwarted when he suddenly teleports away. Searching deeper into the building, we find a goblin shaman with two goblin guards which we easily overpower. Continuing through the keep, slaughtering the occasional goblin or orc while searching for any captives or other survivors. We finally find what we are looking for: thirteen human prisoners, all on the verge of starvation and in generally poor condition. The extreme cold of the area is not helping them, so we move them to a kitchen we found that was warm from the food cooking in it. We make this our first aid area where we apply healing, medical help and sustenance. Snowfoot stays behind to oversee the rescued humans while we continue our search of the keep. We finally locate a small room with maps and charts and quite a few papers, all written in a language none of us can read, probably orc or giant. We start collecting any salvageable goods we might profit from: weapons, ice wood, wine, beer, and other equipment. A few of the items we’ve captured have magical properties to them. One particular item is a mirror that is made of ice; it has properties that will classify it as a relic, which interests Polaris greatly.

We spend the night in the keep watching over the rescued humans, and prepare for an early morning departure. With the wagons, goods and everyone we rescued, we go on to Watchgap Fort.

At the fort, we discuss our raid and show the leaders the papers we found in the keep. We also send everyone we recovered from the keep to their respective homes, and send a message to Ulfwald that we are at Watchgap Fort. The Hearth Knights offer us hospitality, which we accept. During dinner, the dwarves from the caravan arrive, and we share another meal with them. We talk of the keep raid, the prisoners we found, and there was much camaraderie shared for the killing of orcs and goblins.

Near the end of dinner a horn starts blaring; it’s a warning that the fort is under attack. Everyone rushes to the courtyard to see what is coming. Looking beyond the walls of the fort, we see a huge host of goblins surrounding the fort, and camped for an impending attack. We have little time to prepare, but we do what we can, and positions are assigned. We get to protect the West wall and our dwarf friends are manning the East wall. Goblins start the attack with archers covering the assault force. We retaliate with our own ranged attacks: spells and arrows. My spells backfire on me once, and I suffer a wound, all while goblins swarm the wall. Quite a few goblins manage to make it over the wall but our Hearth Knight companions back us up and slay the few straggling enemies. The first wave was repelled with no casualties on our side. This looks to be the first of quite a few planned attacks; we are officially under siege.

A few hours later, a second wave of goblins storm in with the aid of an ogre, breaching the West wall. While most of us focus on the fort interior, Snowfoot uses the power of his wolf magic to keep the gate safe. Another wave is eventually defeated, and we repair the breaches as quickly as we can; it’s not good, but it’s better than leaving the holes open.

The third attack force is focusing on the gate. A tortoise shell maneuver protects some troops as they hammer on the gate. We fail to neutralize the threat in time and the gate crashes in and another ogre forces his way into Fort Watchgap. He wreaks havoc on the inside, killing several defending Hearth Knights. The dwarves leave their post on the East wall and surround the ogre, taking him down quickly and efficiently. The rest of the goblins hold ranks for a little while before breaking and retreating.

A little while later, a catapult attack begins. A few shots later we realize that the ammunition is body parts: heads of humans, goblins and the occasional ogre. This is very disturbing to a lot of the fort defenders, and our task is now to calm down the forces inside, as there are going to be more attacks soon.

We are called to a meeting to discuss the problematic catapults. The decision is made to assemble a strike force to attack the catapults. We get some aid from the fort herbalists with a compound to mask our heat signatures from the orc and goblin infravision. Our force strikes at night, infiltrating the engineering camp. Goblins fall to our surprise attack, and we keep our advantage. We find the orcish engineers and kill them as well as their ogre guards. We return to the fort victorious. With our successful mission, Leotrek is promoted to commander of the archers. The rest of us stay on the walls with some reinforcements from the Hearth Knights.

Waves of attacks start coming in. Goblins, orc beserkers, and ogres all throw themselves at the walls, most of them repelled. During the battle, everyone is taking a beating, forcing us back into the fort tower. During our retreat, the dwarven commander, Hauld-Ousri, falls due to his wounds. We and his comrades gather around him for what seems like his last few words. He calls our group friends of the dwarves, and gives us a dwarven phrase that will tell other frost dwarves our status whenever we meet them.

The first order of business is to retake the courtyard. We sight the orc commander, resplendent in full plate. It is easy to make a concentrated attack to remove him from leadership, permanently. Their leader dead, the goblins lose interest in the siege and flee from the fort.

The host doesn’t dissipate, and we start preparing for another attack, hopefully the last. We spot goblins, goblin wolfriders, orcs and ogres. Backing them up is a goblin shaman. I pick him out as my personal target: time for some magic vs. magic. The Hearth Knights form a wedge formation and start into the field. I skirt to the outside with some the remaining dwarves as my guards. We traverse the battlefield, making our way to the shaman. When I get within range, I fire off a few spells, and he drops very quickly. Magna, Polaris and Runolf are ogre slaying while Snowfoot is influencing the wolves out from under their riders. Leotrek and his archers are pounding the goblin hordes. On the high point of the attack, the thundering sound of horses echo across the valley. An entire host of Hearth Knight cavalry is charging in. The invading host realizes their time has come and flees, every goblin for himself.

And that is the story of the Siege of Watchgap Fort, as it is sung by skalds across Rassalon.