After a good night of rest, we broke camp and resumed our march. We’d not marched for more than a few hours when we heard a commotion from the gorge ahead. We scouted it and discovered that the area was infested with vescavors! We moved forward and cleared them from our path. The swarm having been dealt with, we were free to turn our attention to the queen. Her death scattered the remaining insects, leaving us free to continue onward.
Not too long after, we finally caught sight of our objective; Drezen. We approached the city from the south and held position a short ways off. We sent some scouts into the city to do some reconnaissance. They returned a short time later, having scouted the southern portion of the city and reported a number of items of note. The first being the presence of 2 armies; 1 composed of tieflings and the other human cultists. Both were encamped in the Southbank district and would have to be cleared before we could move into the city proper. The other was the presence of a significant number of ghouls within the old Drezen graveyard. While it is unlikely that they would contest our control of the city, their existence is intolerable, both due to their desecration of the cemetery and the fact that they would undoubtedly attempt to prey upon our soldiers. They too must be destroyed.
We first hit the tiefling army fast and hard. As we had the element of surprise on our side, we were able to rout the tieflings before the cultist army came to bear. As before, we staged an attack upon the enemy commanders and with the leadership neutralized, their army was quickly dispatched.
As we mopped up any survivors, we discovered a large cache of supplies. This would be useful later. Among the supply cache we also found a significant amount of captured crusader gear, including a large arsenal of magical armor and weapons. Needless to say, we immediately equipped our army with this new gear.
Having cleared Southbank, we then moved to cleanse the cemetery of its ghoul infestation. This was accomplished without too much effort as the ghouls proved to have minimal organization. As the final remnants were being purged, one of our scouts approached and informed us of something unusual. At the far end of the graveyard stood a mausoleum. Even though it was mid-afternoon, it was cloaked in rippling shadows and seemed to have a higher level of corruption about it. We felt it best to investigate this site ourselves.
When we reached the crypt it didn’t take long to recognize the darkness as an effect of the unhallow field that blanketed the area. Having remembered the lessons learned at the ruined chapel the day before, I swiftly set to work dispelling it. My success was apparent when the shadows faded and the area brightened somewhat. Now we can investigate.
The doors were locked but luckily Bas had his “keys” on him and was able to open it after a couple of attempts. Within was an ante-chamber and another set of doors. Nothing seemed to be trapped so we prepared ourselves and entered the next room. Emp was the 1st one inside. He walked in and looked about, we knew that something lurked within when he turned to his right and cursed.
This next room was the main tomb. Its walls had been line with alcoves containing urns that had once been filled with the ashes of fallen crusaders. They had been strewn about and the new occupant, a berbalang now waited. Emp moved to attack and I sent an earth elemental to support him. The monstrosity stepped forward to attack Emp, and ended up against the wall. The others rushed into the vault and managed to get it penned in rather quickly. Once surrounded, we beat it down in just a few seconds. Its death meant that the southern half of Drezen was now under our control. We made a note to return later and tend to this place.
Now that we controlled the portions of the city south of the Ahari River, we sent our scouts deeper into the ruins. They discovered that of the 2 remaining districts; Citadel Drezen and Paradise hill, both could only be reached by crossing the mostly dry riverbed. Furthermore, the old Ahari bridge was the only intact way across the river. Paradise Hill was held by an army of Schir demons. Not only did they hold one of the most defensible points in the city, our scouts reported that they also held a large number of captured prisoners! Their rescue had to be our next priority, this means that we will first have to take and hold the bridge.
The Ahari bridge was held by a team of tiefling guards. This wasn’t so much of an issue. The problem was that the bridge supports had been deliberately weakened. Chained to each was an auroch that seemed to have been infused with demonic essence. From the looks of things, if they were to pull against the supports for long enough, they would be able to bring the bridge down. Should the bridge be destroyed, this would prove a difficult obstacle for the Knights to overcome. Were we to march upon the bridge, the guards would surely destroy the bridge. It was determined though, that a small strike team could approach and eliminate the guards and their beasts before the bridge was compromised.
We decided that the best tactic would be to advance up the river bed and kill the aurochs first. We could then deal with the guards. Even though this would expose us to missile fire it would pose the least amount of risk to the bridge. We made our way down to the river bed a ways off. The banks were quite steep which caused us some trouble as we made our way. Some more than others as Ram took a bit of a tumble. Nothing serious though. Once we’d reached the bottom, we made our way west with as much stealth as we could. It proved to be insufficient.
As we approached, we’d almost reached the bridge when a fireball from one of the towers lit us up! Arthas pointed out a caster on one of the towers. I’d just dropped a few elementals and the others had moved in to attack the aurochs. One by one they began slaying them while I did my best to counter the spells being cast by the spellslinger. It seems that he too was a summoner. I was able to counter all but 1 of his summons. He managed to summon a single dretch (which Emp swiftly killed) before deciding to cut his losses and flee. The guards on the bridge had been firing at us all the while, fortunately, it seems that they skipped most of their classes at archery school and their bolts missed us far more often than they struck.
The demonic aurochs had managed to tear out one of the supports by the time Bast and the elementals finished them off. Emp had attempted to fire a grappling hook up to the bridge. Luckily one of the guards cut the rope before anyone had begun to climb. That being the case, Bas shadow stepped up onto the bridge and began stabbing tieflings in the back whilst we maintained fire from below. Between our combined assaults, the remaining guards quickly perished. Once we’d taken the bridge, we brought the army forward. Aron and our siege engineers made some temporary repairs to the bridge in order to make it safe for crossing.
Once the bridge was made safe we marched upon Paradise Hill. The schir’s had dug in pretty well, but their defenses had been primarily designed to serve as a delaying feature. It seems that their strategy had been to hinder the progress of an attacking force until reinforcements could arrive. Except this time, no help came. If they had hoped that the forces within the citadel would come to their aid, then they were sorely mistaken. Once we’d crushed the army, we freed the 200+ men and women held by the demons. Fortune smiled upon us. These prisoners were all crusaders! They’d been captured here and there. Some while on patrols, others during scouting missions and skirmishes and even some from Kenebras! In gratitude for their rescue, they pledged their service to us. We christened them the Defenders of Drezen and outfitted them with the old/excess gear formerly having been used by the Knights. After placing one of our veteran commanders as their CO, we now have 2 armies at our command!
After fortifying our position on Paradise Hill and securing the Ahari Bridge, we made camp for the night. It had been a busy day and our troops were exhausted, but we have more road to travel. Tomorrow the true test would begin. Tomorrow we march on Citadel Drezen. That night I once again took my evening meal with Nurah. I asked her what to expect within. She had little more to tell me, except for 1 thing. Before leaving to infiltrate the Crusade, she’d heard whispers of a creature known as the Beast of Drezen, a chimera called Soltengrebbe. But it was stronger than a normal chimera. She warned us that it may also stand guard over the citadel.
The next morning arrived and the armies began to break camp. As they did so, we took the opportunity to stage a few raids against the 4 remaining guard towers still in use along the outer wall of the citadel. By neutralizing the Brimoraks within, we ensured that we could operate outside the walls without being observed. By the time we’d finished, the armies were ready to march. It is time to storm the outer defenses!
We marched at the vanguard of the army. As we approached the gates, we heard a mighty roar and a huge chimera leapt over the walls to land before us. It had the heads of a snow leopard, a white dragon and a goat and easily stood over 15 feet tall. This could only be the Beast of Drezen, Soltengrebbe.
Our archers opened fire at once but their attacks merely bounced off of the beast’s hide. This challenge would be up to us to face. As it landed before us, I shielded myself and stepped aside just in time to avoid a blast of its icy breath. Arthas was also able to move out of the way, but the others were not so fortunate. They all moved up to engage, and while some of their attacks were able to injure the creature, others only seemed to do partial damage. I began summoning hound archons to assist. Their attacks seemed to get through with no issues, that is, when they were able to land a blow.
The creature was a deadly foe indeed. It seemed to be able to attack twice as often as we. Ram was the first to fall. Soltengrebbe latched onto him with both of the jaws from its dragon and leopard heads and savaged him horribly! After taking a couple of those attacks, he was down. Emp had shifted into his wolf form and was busily tearing into Soltengrebbe, while Bas and my archons were carving away with their blades. Arthas then became the next target of the beast’s wrath. He too was mauled by the creatures attack and he took was rendered unconscious.
I dropped one last archon and finally with its attack, the damage that we’d all been dealing to the beast finally caught up to it and it fell. But not before taking one last act to discharge its breath weapon! Soltengrebbe had directed its blast into the heart of our group. This was also the same place where Ram and Arthas were lying, still unconscious! Luckily, Ram and Arthas managed to somehow avoid the worst of it and were still alive! Something odd happened though. As Soltengrebbe fell dead at our feet, a wave of power burst forth from its now still form? This power was similar to the energy that infused us after the destruction of the wardstone. Whatever this energy, we all felt stronger, as if the power that dwelt within us all had taken some of this energy and added it to what was already there?
We quickly moved to restore Arthas and Ram to their feet. After some healing, both were once again ready to go. We rallied the army and made preparations to resume the attack. Once we breached the gate, we’d need to contend with whatever forces awaited us within the courtyard. After they had been dispatched, and we effectively controlled the city, then we could breach the citadel itself!
Bring the Jubilee
Campaign Journal of Nik the Crow - Session 7
Adventures in the Worldwound - Session 7