The Mistmarches

Belgrey: Defended

a barbarian attack repulsed

The sun rose over the eastern hills, illuminating first the still-smoldering carnage outside the front gate, then soon after the charred remains of the brave, but foolish attack from the west. Some 60 barbarians lay dead, a few from arrows; the rest from fire. Shields and ladders lay, also charred beyond serviceability, scattered outside the camp. Nothing of the attack was left intact, nor useable. The air around the camp was sour with the stench of burnt flesh and fur, and the eyes of the wall sentries stung from the lingering smoke.

Throughout the night a dim reddish light could be seen, just above the tree line, to the south, towards Begglestar, and by morning two more smoke trails were visible to the northwest, in the direction of the Oornothi hold. What was happening there, no one could tell. No news had reached Belgrey from anyone, save the three brave riders from Third Herd, who’d brought news of battles to the northwest, and then broke for Begglestar, presumably to deliver the same news, and an update on what had befallen Camp Belgrey. There was no way for them to get inside the camp, and so they made for a place they thought they could reach.

Soon after sunrise, a few things were apparent. There were some sounds from among the trees to the northeast, from where the barbarians had emerged the day before. No sight of them, however, could be found.

Two smoke trails lingered to the northwest, about the same distance as the single trail from the day before.

A haze – perhaps dispersed smoke – hung over where Begglestar sat, but distance and terrain prevented any clear view on the town.

The sun has just cleared the eastern horizon, and it looks like it’s going to be a warm (40s) day – perhaps winter is finally releasing its grasp. What do you do?

Comments

Genji levitates himself down among the dead to the east of the gate, and begins walking among the remains, looking expectantly for something. His companions recognize the intense and sudden flash from his eyes as an indication he was channeling a spell of some sort. Lightning cracks sporadically around his frame as he wades through the carnage of his immolation. The Mage of Belgrey then waved his right hand as if effortlessly brushing aside an invisible curtain, and the burned corpses in front of him were thrown aside from unseen telekinetic force. Finally, Genji stops, hesitating for only a moment before crouching down to inspect the object of his intense focus…

Belgrey: Defended
 

Anyone on the wall sees this, and sees him rummage around a few partially charred bodies, going through the clothes and equipment of one in particular. He stands, his back toward the camp, and appears to look at something in his hands for a while, then pockets it and rises silently into the air and floats, standing erect, back over the wall, coming down in front of the command building as Korrigan approaches him.

“What is it? Is it worth anything? Can I have it?” asks the sticky-fingered ‘bookkeeper’ of the team.

Genji, silent and with a grim expression, pulls the item out of his pocket and lets it hang by its steel-grey chain, not at all charred by the fire: a grey amulet, inscribed with alien runes.

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Genji holds the grey amulet up to the one recovered by Korrigan, fearing his hypothesis to be true. Genji allows the two amulets to spin at the end of their chains, side-by-side, while he studies them. [Genji uses Detect Magic to differentiate any subtle differences in their magical auras/composition]

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They are virtually identical in design, with only minor differences, likely the result of wear. They both look old, with edges dulled. Otherwise, in all respects – mundane and arcane – they are matching pair.

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In the light of the new dawn, Ti scans the treeline for any sign of the invading host. After walking the length of all four walls of Camp Belgrey, he is satisfied that for the time being the Scouts had survived the first battle.

The men were tired, but alert. The odds had been staggering and demoralizing, but they executed their duties with precision and heart, but they were beginning to sag a little.

Sensing the moment, he shouts across the fort fully intending for his voice to echo and reverberate off the ramparts. His great axe in his right fist raised over his head he pours out his passion for his kingdom and for his brothers in arms:

“These worm-infested invaders knew not that such a small fort as Belgrey could repel such a host! Thus, they tucked tail and ran like the cowards they are! A horde of hundreds blunted by a handful of Mistmarch Scouts and the Mage of Belgrey!
Long live the Mistmarches!”

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Genji returns both Amulets to Korrigan’s custody, nodding his head in confirmation, "The two amulets are identical in every way. If our enemy has infiltrated the Oornothi hold, Begglestar, or perhaps even the Crown with these amulets, it’s possible their corruptive influence is far more pervasive than the immediate threat of this army’s invasion. The army we observed to the North may become the least of our problems to come.

“But we have a decision to make, beyond the dire portents these amulets hold, and we now make these decisions not just for ourselves, but for the Scouts of Camp Belgrey, too. Do we stay here to hold Belgrey and await the hopeful return of the Rangers and reinforcements from Begglestar; return to Begglestar to reinforce them against the apparent siege, as Belgrey holds significantly less strategic value or positional advantage if Begglestar falls; or assist our Oornothi allies to the North who appear to be having their own problems?”

Genji and his companions hear Ti’s victory speech from the across the camp rally the scouts in celebratory cheers, imparting the weight of the decision they are faced with through the hopeful cheers of the men whose lives are in their hands. Almost reflexively, Genji calls forth the illusion of a lightning bolt to strike Ti’s great-axe as he raises it triumphantly above his head, and a thunder-strike that reverberates across the landscape as if the gods themselves acknowledged their victory… Genji surprised himself with his thought of the “gods”, and it almost made him laugh. “What gods?” Genji thought to himself.

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“Huzzah!” the Scouts respond, repeating the cry a few times, with increasing volume and gusto.

It is not long after sunrise and the men – including the Black Talons – are exhausted. Everyone has been awake for better than 30 hours, although a few men have been directed by their team leaders to take short naps. Their backs are steeled by victory, and against such overwhelming odds, but the gravity of fatigue is pulling at them all.

Everyone has one level of Exhaustion, meaning you all have DIS on ability checks. due to the long, tough night.

Despite the victory, one major problem was exacerbated by the battle: clean water is virtually gone. Given the stress of the fight, a great deal was consumed in the last day, meaning that the only water left, aside from a few inches in a single barrel, is whatever each man has on his person – if any.

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There is a river or stream not too far from the camp, we need to take several barrels over there and fill them up.

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Korrigan rummages through some of the corpses, hoping to find something interesting. Hopefully, some info as well, if a scroll, or parts of one, survived the conflagration. (That would assuming these guys were literate. A vain hope, likely. )

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There is a stream about 1/4 mile from the camp, to the east (the barbarians came from the NE, and would have been moving E of the camp if they headed to Begglestar).

Korrigan doesn’t find much of value or interest, especially since many of the body are charred. Some incidental coin, some trinkets worth holding onto as minor trophies, but nothing like a map or ID card with essential clues.

Two odd things that stands out about all the dead: the design of their leather and the types of furs they have are completely foreign to you. It would be as if it’s 1400 in England and you found a heap of charred Caucasian bodies wearing Japanese-style clothes. Very odd up close. Additionally, and this is something Genji senses by arcane means, the whole lot of them bear the lingering afterglow of conjuration magic.

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Genji agrees that sending a squad to retrieve a wagon’s worth of spring water is a priority, and suggests caution before consuming any until the water has been inspected by him for contaminates, magical or otherwise.

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Since Genji is in charge, if he orders it, it’ll be done. A squad of five leaves fewer than 20, including you four, in the camp. No one has reconnoitered the woods to the east, where the stream is.

What’s the order?

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Squad “Bravo” is to first Recon the identified location of the spring to confirm strategic features (Genji positively identifies the location on a map in the war room for Squad Bravo during their briefing). Genji explains that this location was intentionally chosen due to its position relative to the camp and the known direction of hostile forces.

If the location is clear of threats, Squad Bravo is to fill the provided wagon and barrels with the needed spring water. This mission is to be treated as though they are performing it in hostile territory and take any necessary precautions.

If the location is compromised, Squad Bravo is to ascertain the threat, and use their discretion to neutralize it if they believe it can be done without casualty to their squad, and allow them to secure the spring long enough to fill the cart with the needed water supply. Otherwise, they are to return to camp for further instructions.

As always, Genji provides an opportunity for input or questions from his senior officers and the assigned Squad after he finishes the briefing in the war room.

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Bravo’s leader, Brugo Del’Rey, nods along with Genji, punctuating almost every sentence break with a quiet “right,” as he does in every briefing.

“Sounds good. We’ll head out within the half-hour. I’d like to take a flair with us so, if we’re stuck, or worse, we can let you know that things have gone really wrong. Otherwise, we’ll be back in an hour or two.”

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Make it so.

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He makes it so or, at a minimum, he and his squad head out, one man driving the wagon and the other four on horseback, three of whom ride ahead to survey the tree line and woods beyond.

Within 20 minutes they all disappear into the woods to the east, seemingly without incident.

This is not long after dawn. What else do you do, order, or otherwise seek to accomplish? That is, any of you louts.

No one has returned from Begglestar – not the team you sent out yesterday, nor Baxter & Holly. The Rangers, from whom you parted company only about 40 hours ago, are not due back for another day or two.

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Genji remains in the war room with the rest of the Black Talons after Squad Bravo leaves to prepare. “If we see their flare go off, we need to decide now what action we will take. What input can you all offer on how we should respond in the event the flare is deployed by Squad Bravo?”

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“Genji and I could mist to the flare and I will stand guard until you mist them back here or we lay waste to what or who is there.”

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We could send out a group to help them, we can run to Begglestar, or we can run to the dwarven stronghold. Their fortress is far more defensible than ours. Or we just wait them out.

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Ti recommends that Genji rest to get spells back. The rest of us should alternate. All of us.

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I agree, go get water and wait alternating sleep. It may be that the scouts sent to Begglestar are reinforcing the fight for now… we can hope

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An hour goes by. No flare. No sounds of fighting or dying or slaughter. A haze hangs in the air to the distant south, in the vicinity of Begglestar.

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Genji receives the update calmly, “We’ll give them the full two hours from the time they crossed the tree line, as planned. The need for them to scout ahead in silence before bringing the wagon forward to catch up will require a slow, methodical process. They’ll likely need at least the full two hours.”

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“Assuming we are successful in our mission to secure the water resources we need, we will hold Camp Belgrey at least until the Rangers are expected to return tomorrow. We already discussed the strategic necessity to hold Camp Belgrey with the Rangers, and should not abandon this post without clear and convincing cause to do otherwise. After we receive the Rangers’ situation report, we can decide how to proceed from there.”

Belgrey: Defended
 

The two hours elapse, and no one appears from the woods. Ten more minutes pass, and a lone rider emerges, followed soon thereafter by the wagon and the others, riding alongside it. It appears that all is well. They make quick progress – purposeful but not as if they are in danger – and are soon within the walls of the camp.

Brugo rides first into the bailey, immediately in front of the wagon, and jumps off his horse, tying it to a hitching post in front of the command building.

“We topped off all the barrels, and our skins. I think we could send out another group with whatever else we have that might hold water, too. There are some enemy dead, but they didn’t die from the battle,” he reports, a troubled look in his eyes.

“You know the clearing just north of the jog in the stream? All the brush is crushed flat there, as if something…pushed down on it all. Not like feet – like a single, large thing,” he explains, a hint of doubt in his own voice. “There’s a section about 50 feet by maybe 15 that’s flattened, and even the dirt looks compressed. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“We also saw some evidence of a march toward the south – couldn’t tell the numbers, but there were a good number of them, with horses, within the last day, headed south down the river trail.”

“The dead…there were four…their eyes were gone…” he says with a shudder.

“…and their heads were empty,” he finishes after taking a breath to steady himself.

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Meta: Crop circles. :-)

“Good work, Bravo. You guys go grab some down time, but keep your gear nearby.”

Over by the supply room, Ti motions over Estry and Phrynn from where they were lounging in the sun to help pull the barrels from the wagon.

“Phrynn, will you let Genji know the water is here and ready to be checked, please? Then you guys be ready, but try to get some rest too.”

After sending the runner, Ti heads back into the the supply room to check on the creepy pool to make sure nothing has changed since the Talons were last in there.

Belgrey: Defended
 

Genji intercepts Phyrnn before she even gets to the war room, and follows her back to the wagon, listening to her summarized debrief of Squad Bravo’s report, trying not to outwardly show his concern. Upon arrival at the wagon, Genji shares a look of hope with Ti before casting Detect Magic and carefully inspecting the water.

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After we check the “supplies” (the cave) we should catch a few winks. Genji, I’d like to take Sarrik and recon the area between here and Bagelstar. We’ll use the same SOP as Bravo and get back here ASAP.

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“If the enemy’s siege has successfully taken control of Begglestar, they will anticipate a scouting party from Belgrey. We can not continue to bleed men a few at a time. Expect an ambush… and come back alive.” [pause for dramatic effect] “That’s an order.”

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The water is clean. The Scary Cave is unchanged.

What’s the plan, then?

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We will hold Camp Belgrey at least until the Rangers are expected to return tomorrow. We already discussed the strategic necessity to hold Camp Belgrey with the Rangers, and should not abandon this post without clear and convincing cause to do otherwise. After we receive the Rangers’ situation report, we can decide how to proceed from there.

Ti and Sarrik suggested heading out to put eyes on Begglestar, and trying to get some idea of the situation there, using the same protocol as we established with Team Bravo, but with no longer than a 5-hour time allowance. Genji would make a proforma objection to anyone on his command team going, but wouldn’t do so strenuously if they’re insistent.

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New post for recon findings if simply informational?

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To be clear: Bravo Squad will move quickly to do a minimal recon of Begglestar, with perhaps one or two of the command team going along. A 5-hour window is too short to make it there and back; you’d need probably 7-8, which is possible to do an return before day’s end if the group heads out immediately.

Any takers?

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Just Ti and Sarrik after a rest. We can ride hard and actually fight if necessary.
If it’s more than informational, we can handle it in game Saturday.

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Sarrick, Ti’, and Bravo Squad ride off toward the east, and then south, to see what might be going on around Begglestar.

Meanwhile, Genji and Korrigan oversee the reinforcement of the camp, enforcing rest schedules, and otherwise preparing for the worst.

We’ll start with that tonight.

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No Bravo team. They’ve gone too long without a rest.

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Okay. They like that you seem to give a hoot about them as people. Bravo Squad (aka BS) will rest and work around the camp, while “The Ghostriders” accompany Ti and Sarrick on the recon mission.

Note: the convention of squads naming themselves got a little silly, as each tried to one-up the others with what they thought were cooler-sounding names.

Belgrey: Defended
Sir_anton

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