The army storms the city of Crossway and slaughters the meager undead forces within. Aside from grave walkers, they find a few shambling zombies. This raises a few eyebrows. Such servants have been beneath the Lich King until now. Is his power failing?
Scouts cover the city and return an hour later with their report: This town was bombarded from the northwest. On that side of town they found evidence that another army had attacked the city. There are broken and burned siege machines that have been pushed off of the road just outside of town.
This explains the sudden widthdrawl five days earlier. The party gathers and discusses these signs. Here is how they interpret events: Mordan was battling them at the bridge when he was unexpectedly attacked from the north by forces unknown. He was obliged to recall his forces to the city to defend it. By the time these forces arrived the city was already in ruins. But the unliving have no real need for towns except as a place to find future victims. Undaunted by the destruction of their base, they pushed the Northern attackers back towards Fort Bolland.
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It takes the better part of a day to move the army through the ruined city, and another day of travel to reach Fort Bolland. There they find Mordan’s forces swarming around the city, climbing up the walls any trying to overwhelm the defenders. The Alidian / Dwarven alliance comes down on the rear of the undead mass, acting as the hammer to the city’s anvil. At last they get a look at the forces that have been troubling Mordan’s rear flank. They are elves! It’s Sagemaster!
It’s hard to convey what a big moment this was. Throughout this campaign they have wanted to get a message to him and ask for help. His father imprisoned Mordan the first time. He’s quite old and powerful. (Think Elrond, only not nearly as famous. He usually has a strict non-intervention policy, but the players seem to have a knack for getting him to leave his island.)
There was much cheering around the table when the players realized they had not only beaten Mordan’s army without Teerin’s help, but had showed up just in time to rescue him. It’s not every day you get to return a favor to a high-level character.
The armies crash into one another. The Dwarven / Alidian alliance begins hacking at the rear of the undead army, while arrows and spells pummel Mordan’s forces from over the city walls.
As the undead rapidly thin, Mordan rises above the fray and reveals himself at last. He is withered, and his skin is the color of ash. His robes are little more than black tatters that swirl around his gaunt frame. A black crown rests on top of his head, a circle of cruel spikes pointing upward and outward. His eyes are two points of cold light shining from within his empty sockets. He holds his staff aloft and moves his mouth, but they can hear no sound. The undead are driven to a frenzy. The battle intensifies. The heroes rush forward to face him.
Fireballs fly and the players surround Mordan. The soldiers in their company make short work of the various undead, leaving this battle between Mordan and the heroes. Fire falls down on him. He responds in kind. The heroes are tossed about by his spells, but they can see his power has failed him. He is at last truly outmatched. They strike him down. The ground shakes and the remaining undead collapse. A wail escapes his putrid mouth as he collapses in on himself and vanishes.
They look southward. From here the trees and hills of Bolwood block their view of the mountain, but they know he’s there, trapped under a mountain of stone and sealed in magic beyond his power.
Teerin strides out of the city to meet them. He helps tend the wounded and then meets with the party in the remains of Lorman’s castle, which he’s been using as his base since he arrived. They talk about Grey Moor and Eomer gets some news of his homeland.
One detail that might be of interest here is the message they were sent way back in Session 1. At the start of the campaign, they got two letters: One from the Coucil of Grey Moor and another letter from Teerin. The council asked them to come home at once. (That is, return to Grey Moor.) Teerin’s letter asked them to stop by his island and talk to him first, before they got involved. Everyone has been curious what this was about. They got shipwrecked here and ended up getting sucked into this adventure, but it’s been bugging them all this time: What was going on back in Grey Moor?
Teerin explains: The Council was raking in cash by selling weapons to the Lormanites. The war was a nice source of income, and they knew that if the war ended that source of wealth would dry up. They were going to send the players to this town (Fort Bolland) to help hold the city and keep the cash flowing back home. Teerin was going to caution them against getting involved.
But all of this became moot when Fort Bolland fell, and the shipwreck more or less forced them to get involved anyway.
So the campain started with a message to come home, which should have led to a warning to avoid this island, but they never made it home, never got the warning, and were stuck here anyway.
Teerin explains his side of the story: The moment Mordan had been freed, he sensed it. As soon as he could, he assembled what forces he had and sailed for Fort Bolland. Mordan sent his birds (which would burn ships into the sea) but such tricks were not a problem for Teerin, who is far more in touch with nature and wild beasts than Mordan. He arrived and joined with the few poeple still alive in Fort Bolland, then moved south to liberate Crossway.
By this time it was late and everyone was sleepy, so we sort of plowed through the rest of the session quickly.
Skeeve: I go south and cure the Queen.
Me: Okay great. You do. She’s grateful.
Not exactly epic, but at least we tied up the loose ends.
While in Fol Thron, the party meets up with Beck again. He made it through the Dwarven assault of Telwin Port, and they gather that he had a big part in rallying the city defense. He’s glad to see eveyone pulled through.
In the end, the Dwarves do claim the mountain. However, since they can’t set foot on it, they build a city at the foot of the mountain – which they now properly call Fiore. They take control of the city of Della Minera (peacefully, although with some minor political haggling) and expand the town at a rapid pace.
The Dwarves act as guardians, telling people to Keep Off The Mountain. This gives them the illusion of ownership and kinship with the mountain that they desired long ago. It really was a point of pride for them, that the greatest mountain in the world wasn’t theirs. Well, it still isn’t theirs, but they are closer to it than anyone else, which makes them about as happy as Dwarves ever get. They bow to the mountain and pay it respect from a safe distance.
Once the Queen is healed, she requires several days alone. Then she meets with the Heroes again. With the curse lifted and the searing pain gone, she is a different person. The Citadel is opened up, and light is allowed in for the first time in over a century. Her country is in absolute shambles. Her army is all but gone and their chief source of income is now off limits. However, with the iron grip of the government loosening, there is hope that they can make a healthy recovery over the next few years.
The players negotiate to have the remaining slaves (the Lormanite army) set free. The slaves are freed without ceremony and sent packing. Nobody really likes the Lormanites (they did start the war that set this whole mess in motion) but there is no need for slaves, and nobody wants them around. The Queen renounces her claim to Crossway and all cities North. This gesture is mostly symbolic, as she doesn’t have the forces to control those places, and there are precious few people left there anyway. Crossway itself is more or less obliterated. Most of the population was slain to build Mordan’s army, and the city itself was ravaged by Mordan and then pummeled by Teerin’s forces. It is likely to remain a ruin for a long time to come.
They learn that some of the smaller northern cities escaped Mordan’s wrath. Joland Village and Breakshore were spared. Woodhurst – a small town between Fort Boland and Crossway – was put to the torch, but many of the inhabitants fled to the wilderness and survived.
Garret decides he wants to continue traveling. The players give him a little money and wish him well. He’s not going to be slaying dragons anytime soon, but they do hope he doesn’t get himself into any real trouble. He still has no interest in the crown, which is good for everyone involved.
Beck decides to sail with Sagemaster, who will be stopping at Grey Moor on his way home. He is at last going to get home and marry Talla.
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So what happens when a SOFTWARE engineer tries to review hardware? This. This happens.
Philosophy of Moderation
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Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot
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A look back at Star Trek, from the Original Series to the Abrams Reboot.