Age of Heroes

A letter home.
To Rand Fireforge, Festung Stormfist

Dear Father,

How are things at home? I have not heard from you since my last letter, despite assurances that my messages are getting through.

I am doing well in the army at the moment, mainly due to my actions during the siege of Riverbrook. The fists of heavy infantry you sent us really made the difference between victory and defeat. With so many able soldiers Commander Estaban managed to spare the Riverbrook Irregulars to make a surprise attack at the heart of the enemy encampment. I did so well there that they promoted me to Leutenant!

You will be pleased to know that once again good Fireforge steel saved my life. It seems that seldom a day goes past without me needing to put my skills to good use. Most recently I helped to cleanse a subterranian lair that was inhabited by a large number and variety of undead. The ghoules, zombies and skeletons were no match for good Fireforge steel, but I found the skeletons to be very resistant to all save blunt damage, so have invested in a good Fireforge steel Warhammer, for any future meetings of that sort.

I would ask you, sire, if any of the sages in Festung Stormfist have knowledge of ancient civilisations that would have been based in the area where Riverbrook now lies. I am talking of thousands of years ago, far predating any civilisation that I am aware of, even our own.

It seems we are now off to Everance, and hopefully find clues to help solve the riddle of where this lair originated.

Until we meet again,
Your humble and loyal son,
Leutenant Ignar Rantson of the Fireforge Clan

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Leutenant Ignar Fireforge, reporting, Sah!
A report on Riverbrook's Town Fair

Side note: I had intended to flush out a conversation with Dai before posting this, but as he is no longer playing in this campaign I have crafted the conversation with Morgannwg the way I wanted it to go.

Sah!
I have concluded my investigation into the events at the Grande Melee during the Fair and find the results to be both worrying and intriguing. As you know, I entered various contests during the Fair. I did not expect to do well in some of them, for example in archery, but competed in the spirit of fair play.

You may not have been aware but in the Grand Melee I had expected to get into the semi finals. My martial expertise, whilst not all-encompassing, seemed to be far superior to most of the competition entrants.

It was with such expectations that I entered contest with the first of my opponents, none other than Twinkletoes Lightfinger, my associate from the irregulars. Knowing that he was no match for me I undertook to minimise his embarrassment and tried to finish the fight quickly. But after just exchanging our first blows I suddenly passed out, and was unrousable for several minutes. When I finally awoke, I felt completely fine, and not at all groggy. I immediately suspected foul play.

Having seen our blades, I knew that they were not poisoned. Indeed, I suspect such a thing to be beneath my ally and then opponent, but still had to rule it out. Indeed, the effects on me were very similar to those upon our goblin opponents when Morgannwg cast a sleeping enchantment upon them.

With this in mind I made enquiries about those near to the contest area, and one fellow was good enough to mention that he saw someone in the shadows between some nearby tents, though he was already too far gone in ale to be able to make out his face. This reinforced my presumption of magic use. Having conferred with Morgannwg, she affirmed my worst fears, in that the sleeping enchantment is one commonly known amongst mages, as was the ability to occlude other’s senses. I bade her to enquire amongst her fellows to see if any of them had a grudge against either us or the town militia, but so far she has not uncovered anything of note.

Having no personal enemies I am aware of, and noting that there seems little or no anti-dwarf sentiment in the town, I have concluded that this was either an attempt to discredit the ability of the king’s guards or to try to belittle the abilities of the town militia.

With all routes of investigation thus stalled, I am forced to await our opponent’s next move. Maybe he will try something more overt next time, and if so, I will be ready for him.

Ignar rant, reporting, Sah!

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Bright Dawns & Deep Shadows
A private letter

Dearest E.
My goodness, the weeks have flown by since my last letter.
Riverbrook is gradually returning to some semblance of normality. The debris from the battle is cleared from the streets and the repairs are proceeding at good pace, although the fields to the east will bear the scars of battle for a few seasons yet. The time for grieving is passing, and the town’s spirit grows stronger with every dawn.
To help mark this I had an idea to propose a memorial to the fallen defenders of Riverbrook, perhaps a statue in a small garden. I approached Mayor Christenson to discuss this and it transpires he had a similar notion, to be announced at the town fair. With the mayor’s approval I have volunteered to organise this.
I have also moved out of the Riverbrook Rest and taken a lease on a small but comfortable cottage on the edge of town, near the temple to Lugh. I still frequent the Rest most days, and a few of us have a regular card game in the back room. Master Barrin has even named a spicy meat sandwich in my honour!
Alas, ‘twas not long before word came of a new threat. Some of the labourers building the new keep to defend Riverbrook were found mysteriously slain. The task of investigating the killings fell to the Irregulars and we soon discovered a network of old tunnels beneath the site of the town’s new defences. Cautiously we made our way through the narrow passage ways and soon encountered ghoulish undead abominations. Horrid creatures that were once living people.
My darling, encountering such…
things makes me more determined than ever to find a way to bring you back safe to me. I cannot bear the thought that while you are gone there is even a chance some foul necromancer may inflict this cruel fate on you. I take some small comfort that you reside in the boneyards of Everance where such wickedness would struggle to stay hid. But I must not dwell on such morbid fantasies or I shall weep when I must stay strong.
The good folk of Riverbrook are depending on me and my companions to keep them safe, and I need to keep Riverbrook safe to give you a good home to return to.
Forever yours,
P.

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Ignar Rant, reporting, Sah!
A report on the Elimination of Garrok, Orc chief.

Sir, we headed out at full dark, as arranged, and met with the ‘Watchers’ in the northern woods. The leader of these, an un-named half-elf, regarded Arthur as his rightful lord and king – something which may well bear looking into – and agreed to use his fifty scouts to try to draw the guard remnant away from Garrok’s camp.

Whilst we were on our way to the staging point we were assaulted by a moderate-sized band of Orcs, which we cut down in short order. There were no other enemy scouts encountered before the Orc grand assault began. A few minutes after the Orc’s assault began the Watchers staged their diversionary assault-and-retreat, drawing nearly all of Garrok’s remaining defenders away. In the end there were only two Orogs and three Orcs that stayed as camp guards. The irregulars stormed the camp guards, leaving Arthur and his knights to sidestep this combat and face Garrok directly.

Special mention of Torrin is worth noting here – during this nasty combat with two Orogs and associated Orcs he stood by my side, fearlessly casting his magics in the face of mighty opposition. Without him, I would surely have fallen to the combined attacks of those two monsters, for even with his help we were severely pressed. Still, when I dropped the last of our foes, Torrin was down but stable, having given his utmost for the cause. The combat with Garrok had gone badly for our knights, with all of them sorely beaten on, and all close to falling. I even had time lend my aid before they’d managed to drop their single foe. Still, we were victorious, and with no friendly deaths.

We raided Garrok’s tent for anything of value before high-tailing it back here with his body. The rest you already know about.

Once again I feel that the Irregulars have performed well, only slightly hampered by the variation in combat styles between our knightly allies’ direct approach and our own more ranged-attrition approach. I believe the best approach for the near future would be to keep our two groups working together. Given the Watcher’s response to Arthur, I feel keeping a close eye on the lord would be advantageous. If dark days truly lie ahead, we really don’t need anything upsetting the current stability of the Western Kingdom, and the rule of good King Serben.

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Igner Rant, Post-battle Debreif, Sah!
A short account of the night defense of Riverbrook.

Sir, as planned, when the Orcs attacked we showered them with missile fire and retreated in an orderly fashion to the walls. The militia behaved impeccably, sire, all due no doubt to Lauren’s budding leadership abilities. We kept them from swamping the wall until the gates looked ready to fail, then I went down to help hold the gate with those chosen for the job.

I must say, sire, that I am very proud of them. Militia they may be, but not one of them broke when the Orcs brought the gates down. To a man they fought, and as a group we were victorious.

The mob that assaulted us were a combination of Orcs and Orogs. The first two Orcs to face me died in short order, which was the reason why their leader, an Orog, decided to try to cut me down to size. He failed to do so. His death seemed to break this mob, allowing us to rout them and slay a goodly number of them as they fled.

I would say again, sir, that if it were not for Lauren’s inspiring lead and the Riverbrook Militia’s unwillingness to surrender their town, then that flank would not have held. I am rightly proud of them.

By your leave, Commander, I’ll go grab a few hours’ rest before the dawn.

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Headless Chickens
A private letter

My beloved E.
Thanks be to the gods, somehow we have survived! Riverbrook is saved and the orc threat averted. And I still don’t know how. The history books may record these events as a mighty battle between two great armies. All I saw were headless chickens.
First in Riverbrook, as it soon became apparent that Esteban and his war council had no idea what to do. Our alleged commander had no plan, and no orders to issue to his men. Instead he called on all and sundry for ideas, which inevitably led to countless hours of panicked bickering at the prospect of annihilation at the hands of a the orc horde. I would have thought the first job of a commander is to command…
Anyway, as the officers argued we had the first answer to our prayers. A relief force of some one hundred dwarves! These doughty kinfolk of Ignar doubled our numbers, and more than doubled the town’s ability to fight off the orcs. Riverbrook was still heavily outnumbered but at least now we had a chance.
Eventually we had a plan, of sorts. With the dwarven reinforcements to bolster the town’s defences, Riverbrook would be well placed to hold off the orc attack. The stout warriors had brought big barrels of oil in their baggage train to fire the fields on the approaches to the town, and also a massive catapult to launch massive lumps of stone into the ranks of the foul creatures. With luck these would help break up the orc army, reducing their numbers to managable sizes for our soldiers to fend off.
Meanwhile we Irregulars would ride around through the northern woods to the rear of the orc camp to assassinate Garrok. That creature appeared to be the one thing uniting the orc tribes. With Garrok slain they should break up into tribal factions and drift apart.
We had our second stroke of luck as we embarked on this mission. There were elves in the woods. Not enough to fight off the orc army, but sufficient to draw most of Garrok’s guards away from his camp that we might ride straight in. The only obstacle being convincing the aloof elven folk to help us. As it happens, our foolish nobleman seems known to the elves. Very well known and apparently highly thought of, for they bent the knee to him as if he were royalty or something? Although that would certainly explain his lack of common sense! Maybe a subject to broach with his more amiable sister in quieter times.
Garrok was not totally unguarded but the handful of orcs and orogs (at least I think that’s what Ignar called them, ugly huge half orc half ogre beasts) could not deter us from our mark. Ignar and Torinn drew their attention while Landar and I sniped at them as best we could, and the mounted soldiers rode around the edge of the camp to take on the orc warlord. Eventually Garrok fell, but only after two of our company had been knocked out and the rest of us surrounded him.
And to the victor the spoils. The prize for the heroic defenders of Riverbrook is the long and arduous task of burying our dead, cleaning up and rebuilding the town, and all the while watching over our shoulders should any of those orc tribes return.
I hope to bring you gladder tidings in my next letter.
Forever yours,
P.

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Ignar Rant, of the Fireforge clan, reporting, Sah!
Ignar debreif to Commander Esteban

The Irregulars performed well above expectations, sir, making up for the lack of military discipline with a good measure of flexibility and resolve.

Our first encounter with the enemy was three days out, when we were attacked by a goblin scout force, 5 goblins on top of over-sized wolves. It has been theorised that the wolves were half-worg hybrids, but until I see complimentary evidence, I cannot say for sure.

During that encounter we discovered that you should kill the riders first, as their mounts become less organised once the rider is killed. We also discovered that my troup works best at range, which means my role becomes less a case of battle leader in the midst of his troops, and more a case of blocker to any that make it past the rain of arrows.

We used the tactical knowledge gained from this battle to great advantage when we got to the valley of the hunter’s lodge.

The hunter’s lodge was built at the eastern end of a natural bowl, which the goblins had blocked at the western end, creating a dam. This then filled the bowl with a temporary lake, one we discovered they intended to release at the full moon to flood Riverbrook and help break our resolve.

There were a total of about thirty goblin defenders, with leaders too, organised in ‘hands’ of 6 goblins apiece. They had four watch towers, which were elevated bunkers, each with a goblin sniper in it, to watch over the dam area, and two of these hands, one each side of the river, to deter attackers. There were a further two hands placed one each side of the lake, further away from the dam. There was also a hand of goblins living in the hunter’s lodge, being led by a magic-using goblin, who was in overall command.

We made good use of our ranged attacks, isolating each group in turn and decimating them by the time they could reach us. Of special note here is Twinkletoes, who bravely snuck into two of the bunkers in order to eliminate the snipers and allow us to surprise one of the hands defending the dam.

We discovered the body of a Dwarf at the lodge, one that had been pressed into service building the great blocks that had been used to dam the river. Unbeknownst to them he also wrote us a message in his own blood telling us how to safely release the water, and we did so. If we all survive this coming battle, he deserves to be reburied with full honour, as befits his bravery.

We then made all possible speed back here to warn you of an all-out attack that has been organised for the night of the full moon.

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An Irregular Postscript
A private letter

My darling E.
Fortune looks upon us, good and bad. I shall begin with the good news. We made reasonable time back to Riverbrook, arriving in three days although the lack of decent and regular meals took a heavy toll on me. On the way we met up with that foolish knight and his aides again, however they appear to have done some good.
They had also run into some of the goblins riding wolves and tracked them back to that dwarven mine. They were able to defeat the goblins and rescue the dwarves, from whom we have learned the name of the heroic mason: Durgaz Hammernell, their leader. I believe Ignar will petition Commander Esteban for proper burial honours should time allow.
Speaking of time, we were left only ten days until the moon heralding the attack of the orc warlord Garrok. Time we put to good use evacuating most of the townsfolk and helping prepare Riverbrook and her defenders for battle. For my part I helped the quartermaster take stock of medical supplies, and advised on how best to prepare the limited food supplies. Alongside Landar I also helped Esteban’s scouts prepare the approaches to the town, and its outer defences.
And battle did come indeed. A force of several hundred orcs, nearly four times the size of ours launched their assault under that full moon. The battle was hard and both sides lost a full quarter of their number before the orcs were repelled. Good news you might think? Sadly not, for the dawn exposed the full extent of Garrok’s ambition. A thousand orcs, possibly more encamped upstream. More than enough to reduce Riverbrook to ashes.
The situation is grim and the odds are against us. Esteban and his officers are holding a desperate council as I write to determine our course. May the gods guide them, and protect us all!
Forever yours,
P.

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Riverbrook Irregulars
A private letter

My dearest E.
Whilst my companions and I may have made the road to Riverbrook safe again, the town’s principal artery has always been it’s namesake. The river level has been unseasonably low recently. So low that a boat ran aground just outside of town. Commander Esteban has charged our merry band, the ‘Riverbrook Irregulars’ as he likes to call us, with travelling upriver to determine the cause.
And determine the cause we certainly did. Goblins! A whole tribe of them had taken over a ranger’s camp four days upstream and dammed the river with massive boulders. You might be forgiven for thinking that is an impressive feat of engineering for such crude creatures. It seemed the goblins had raided a nearby dwarven mine and forced their masons to carry out the dastardly task.
One however had the presence of mind to build in a fundamental flaw. A weak spot in the keystone and left a clue in an old stableblock that served as his cell. Sadly we were too late to save that nameless hero, but with his help we were able to destroy the dam and restore the river. His last message was also a plea to aid his kin at the mine, which we now feel obligated to honour.
Cause for celebration you might think but no. Amongst the detritus of the occupying goblins’ leader we found a scroll confirming the orc plot against Riverbrook the winged kobold of our previous engagement had claimed. Moreover this scroll detailed a time for the orc attack on the town, the next full moon!
We also learned the purpose of the dam was to herald the orc assault by unleashing a great tide of water down the river to sweep away the town defences and swamp the militia. I had feared the destruction of the dam might bring forward the attack, but our trusty seasoned soldier Ignar advised that the orcs would most likely adhere to their planned date. Using the full moon as a signal being the only reliable way to coordinate such brute and disparate creatures.
After discussing the situation around the campfire we resolved to return to Riverbrook at best speed to warn Commander Esteban and Mayor Christenson. With the commander’s leave, we will then return to the dwarven mine in the hope we are not too late to help them. We leave at first light, and I fear there may not be opportunity to write again until after the battles to come.
Forever yours,
P.

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Campfire Chat, a reply
'Cos when I commented on the original post, it didn't show up on the dashboard

Whoa there, friend – I understand your fears, but for the most part I believe them to be unwarranted.

Firstly, about the timing for the attack. If, as I suspect, it is going to be an all-out assault, then it will involve large numbers of Orcans. Which means organising them and getting them headed the right way, and at an adjusted time.

With all my years in the army, I know firsthand how hard organising such a large number of groups can be. And that is with the backbone of army discipline to help out.

The Orc warlord may well decide to up the pace a bit, but I would reason he would not. He coordinated the attack for the full moon because it is easy to do so, and all the various groups will be organised to the same extent and will know when they need to converge. To do otherwise will be incredibly hard for him.

That having been said, I do agree that we may be better off returning to Riverbrook first, and with great haste, so that Commander Estaban can see to getting Riverbrook’s defenses up to speed. And can also warn the outlying homesteads to be ready to run for cover.

We could easily make it home in three days if we push ourselves. I could probably make it in two if I really tried, but I do not believe that the rest of you would find the pace sustainable.

So three days to Riverbrook, and then ask for as many arms as we can to go rescue my kinfolk. They would be of immeasurable benefit to our building up Riverbrook’s defences.

With that in mind, may I suggest you all have an early night, and we can start out at first light.

In other words, Ignar agrees with your conclusion, but not with your reasoning. Go figure.

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