“We are too late,” Bast looks out at sea, torn between following the Nephilim out to sea and saving the prince.
Innathia put his hand on Bast’s shoulder, “We should deal with the things we can deal with first. The Nephilim have a head start and there is no knowing where they are headed. Bex and I checked the entire coast and could find no secret passage ways. For all we know they have journeyed out to sea.”
Bast gave a nod, “Very well.”
“I agree,” Mael said, “All we know is that an attack is planned on the prince, we need to hurry back and keep watch. If Luhi is behind it, this is when he will make his move.”
With an agreement struck the party set out to shadow the prince. By the time they had caught up to the procession it had already made it to the bazaar. Surrounded by his royal guard the prince was carried along on a palanquin, a smile on his face as he waved to the grateful people of Port Durst.
Expecting the worst, the party kept ahead and behind the procession, eyes alert for anything out of the ordinary. Surprisingly nothing happened, the procession made its way towards the citadel.
When the group realized this panic set in, “We can’t let the prince into the citadel!” Bast said.
“How do you propose we do that? We can hardly go up to the him and tell him we believe Luhi may or may not have a plan to murder him?” Innathia asked, “The most we can do is be prepared to break in, if the prince goes in we go in.”
Bast smiled at that, finally, a use for the tunnel.
The party watched on edge, as the prince made it closer and closer to the citadel. The great double doors opened up, and out walked Luhi flanked by two of his monks. The prince got off the palanquin and embraced the prince in a hug. Then the pair started walking back towards the procession, “I would like to welcome your highness to our city,” addressing the people Luhi said, “Let us show him the hospitality that Port Durst is known for.” The crowd let out a cheer, their love for the prince overshadowing their disdain for Luhi.
“Well… I guess we were worried for nothing.” Bex said, turning towards her companions,
“Now what? More shadowing?”
“I will have my contacts help out, we will cover more ground that way.” Innathia said, “Now if you will excuse me I will be right back.” Taking off his mask, Innathia began walking towards the prince and said something in his ear. The prince looked taken aback at first but regained his composure and smiled back at him.
The rest of the day the party kept close to the procession but unsure of how to further proceed. As night approached the royal procession once again made its way to the citadel, it was here that Gail was supposed to talk with the prince. The group made their way towards, would Luhi dare to move against Gail after yesterday’s show of support, and with the prince right there?
A large crowd was formed in front of the citadel, the platform that would have served as Gail’s execution platform was now set up for the royal party. The prince walked up onto the platform, and raised a hand to his people. A loud cheer went out, the people throwing their adoration for their beloved prince.
Smiling the Prince raised his hand for quit before speaking, “People of Port Durst, I want to thank you for such a warm welcoming. It always brings warmth to my soul to know the love the people have for my family. With Norvell’s backing our purpose is to serve you.”
This was met by cheers again, the prince smiled again before his face became more somber, “I know hard times have fallen on you, the last war against the demons has left deep scars, scars that can’t be seen but we know are there. Our people are not strangers to hardship, who but the people of Ryll can could forge a realm in the most brutal desert of Sandar!? Who but the hardiest of people could stand under our sun and its unforgiving rays!? The people of Ryll! The people of Port Durst!”
The cheers got even louder, people stamping their feat, drums beating. Energy seemed to infuse the people that had been missing for years. Even the party were getting caught up in the collective energy of the crowd.
When the crowd quieted down the prince began to speak again, “I make you this promise! Port Durst has not been forgotten! I plan to institute- “
The prince was interrupted by the ringing the lighthouse bell, its loud ringing heard throughout the city. It stopped the crowd in their tracks, the last time the bell rung was when the Dixie Whick had set out. The prince looked around in confusion, and bent over to talk to Luhi to see what was going on.
“Is this it? Are they making their move?” Bast asked, the earlier elation at the prince’s words draining from him.
A cry went up, “It’s the Dixie Whick! She has returned!”
With that proclamation, a loud cheer went out, many had loved ones and family that served on the Dixie Whick. A large portion of the people and guards rushed towards the docks to see her arrival.
The group looked at each other, torn between seeing what was going on and keeping an eye on the prince. All of them had a deep feeling of dread that they couldn’t explain.
Bex broke the silence, “I am going to the docks, if something is going on all those people could be walking into a trap.” Bast nodded at her, signaling that he would follow her.
Innathia looked back up at the prince standing next to Luhi, “I will stay here, if Luhi is going to make a move this would be the time.” Eldeth seemed torn, did she follow the blood thirsty human or the secretive Seraphim?
“I’ll stay here and keep an eye on the prince as well.” Eldeth finally decided.
Mael nodded in agreement, “Same, whatever is going on down at the docks sounds like a diversion.”
Bast and Bex set out towards the docks, where a large crowd was already formed by the docks. Drifting into port was the Dixie Whick, the crowd was cheering at its arrival.
At the back of the crowd, the two looked on.
“Do you think it’s really them?” Asked Bex.
“I don’t know, it looks like the people recognize it.” Replied Bast, his face pensive, Bex noted once again the changes that were happening to her friend. The strange glimmer his eyes had at times when they caught the light just right. Bast spoke again breaking Bex’s inspection, “But something is odd.” He said pointing.
“I am no sailor, but shouldn’t the crew be active on deck?”
Bex looked back at the ship, noting that Bast was right. There seemed to be no one on the deck, the crowd appeared oblivious to this. “Be ready.” Bex said drawing her great axe. Bast looked at his friend and smiled, drawing his shemagh back over his face.
As the Dixie Whick got close enough to dock there was finally movement on its deck. Dark shapes jumped over the rails, or took off on wings. The crowd’s cheers turned to cries of terror as kobolds landed amongst them, hissing and swinging their scimitars. Cutting down any they came upon. Following them came ambush drakes and draconian creatures. All of them wearing the symbol of Sahar on their ragged uniforms. Stepping to look over the railing stood a powerful looking red half dragon, his uniform in better shape than the kobolds he was leading, a great sword strapped to his back.
Bast and Bex took it all in, it was Bex who broke the silence, “What about Raoul? Did they kill him?”
A loud splash drew their attention to the bay, crawling out of the bay were two warrior merrow, a hungry gleam in their eyes as they crawled onto land. Before they could move a giant fist reached out and broke ones next, followed by a massive club that brained the other. Raoul rose halfway out the water and let out a loud roar in sea giant. A swarm of merrow writhing around him, making the bubble seem to boil.
Bex raised her axe in salute to her kin and let out a yell of her own. Her blood stirring at the promise of combat. She looked down at Bast, the wild gleam in her eye again. Bast smiled back under his shemagh and drew his spear.
Innathia kept looking towards the docks, trying to decide if he had made the right decision. Something was off, the arrival of the Dixie Whick should have been known to the city officials.
Eldeth stood next to Innathia, “Do you hear that?”
Innathia realized he had been lost in his own thoughts. He focused on what Eldeth was talking about and began to hear the screams coming from the docks. It seemed that the monks had heard too because the citadel bells started going off, but these were the warning bells. The palace guards formed around the prince, and Luhi ushered them towards the citadel.
Is this it? He began to make his way towards the prince. But before he got far Mael caught his arm. Innathia looked back at him, anger crossing his face. “What is it?”
“The prince is out of reach, we need to make our way to the docks and help those we can.”
Innathia looked back at the prince to see the citadel doors close behind them. Sighing he shook off Mael’s hand, and put on his mask. “Very well, let’s not delay then.”
As Bast and Bex prepared to charge in they heard hails behind them. Turning they saw Eldeth, Mael and Innathia running up to them.
Bex let out a loud laugh, “Glad you guys could join us!”
“Yes, yes. Let us not tarry. The prince is in the citadel with Luhi. We must wrap this up quickly.” Innathia said.
Before anyone could reply a hissing yell sounded behind them. Turning they noticed a party of kobolds heading towards them with an ambush drake.
Eldeth took a shot at the nearest one, catching it in the shoulder, spinning it around before it fell on the ground. Mael let out the inner beast again and took on the form of a dire wolf, squaring up against the ambush drake, in a flurry of teeth and claws they grappled with each other.
Bex took a swing at kobold, who had just spread his wings, before it could get away she cleaved it in half, showering her in its blood. Stepping over its corpse she took a swing at the next kobold. But this one managed to get into the air before it connected. Behind her Bast let out a dark blast from his spear that took the kobold in the chest, the kinetic force crushing its chest into a bloody pulp.
As Mael and the ambush drake continued to fight, Innathia took a shot at the remaining kobold, clipping it in the wing it crashed to the ground. As soon as it hit the ground, Bex swung down and severed its spine. At the same time Mael got ahold of the ambush drake’s throat and ripped it out in a welter of blood.
After the brief skirmish, the party took assessment of their situation. The red half dragon remained on the ship surrounded by several men. “If we take off the head, the body will die.” Bast said.
“True, but it looks like their main goal is the city. Most of their forces simply ran past. And I doubt we have the numbers to take down his guard, and the red half dragon.” Innathia said.
From the city smoke rose, and screams could be heard. “We can’t leave the people, or the prince. We must head back.” Eldeth said.
Rushing back to the citadel the party didn’t encounter any Saharan forces. Hank and a cohort of the city guards had formed a defensive line, dead kobolds at their feet.
“Am I glad to see you guys, “Hank wiped blood out of his eyes coming from a cut on his head. “Were stretched thin. Any help you can give us would be appreciated.”
“Where are the monks? Shouldn’t they be helping repel the invaders?” Innathia asked.
“They have locked themselves in the citadel,” Hank gestured to the double doors where several guards were banging on it and yelling up to the ramparts for them to open up. “Unfortunately, the citadel is where the town is supposed to fall back to when it’s under attack. But they have locked the gates and ignore our pleas. Instead we have been moving civilians to the lighthouse. That’s why we need you, my men are stretched thin guarding the lighthouse and forming a defensive line here.”
“What about Gail? Has there been any word from him?” Asked Bast.
“No, I haven’t seen him. But if even half the stories are true then we need him now.” Hank looked around, “Listen, find Gail, we need a leader the people can rally behind. Save any civilians you can find along the way.”
Innathia appraised Mael, “We should split up. Mael and I can get Gail, we will meet back here. You guys go help the civilians. If the monks won’t help the citizens then we have to.”
Bex looked down at Bast and nodded. “We can handle ourselves until you get back.”
“Just do it quickly, the assault seems to be lacking direction. I haven’t spotted anyone that looks like an officer yet.” Hank said.
“I think we saw the leader, it was a red half-dragon, but he was still on the boat when we left the docks.” Bast said, “What is he waiting for? Without the monks, the city couldn’t mount a proper defense even if we wanted to.”
Hank stares back towards the docks, “A half dragon, may Norvell guide us.” He looks back at the party, “Go now, we will hold them off as long as we can.”
Innathia mounted Mael and they took off racing down the battle torn streets.
Bex, Eldeth and Bast headed further into the city to look for civilians.
Mael and Innathia ran past packs of kobolds as they terrorized the city. It was a test of will to not stop and fight, but the pair knew their success depended on finding Gail. After dodging past another band of kobolds it struck Innathia as odd the lack of coordination the Saharan forces showed, the kobolds seemed more intent on harassing the people rather than taking any tactical objectives.
Arriving at the Dixie Whick the streets were relatively quit in the northern part of town, Innathia dismounted and motioned for Mael to wait. Innathia steps up to the door and removed his mask, fist raised to knock before he thinks better of it. Instead he reaches out and opens the door, surprised to find that the door was unlocked, Innathia poked his head in, wary. Peering into the gloom, Innathia pushed the door open a little wider and prepared to step in just as a spear lunged for his stomach. Barely managing to parry the spearhead just before it connected, he took a step back and assessed the threat. A shocked woman holding a spear looked back at him, Innathia recognized her as the owner of the Dixie Whick.
“I nearly killed you! What are you doing skulking around at a time like this? Come to loot my inn have you!” She hissed at him, raising her spear menacingly. As the daylight crossed Innathia’s face, recognition flashed across her face. “You’re here for Gail I take it?”
Surprised by how fast all this happened Innathia takes a second to compose himself, “My apologies mam, I wasn’t expecting the door to be unlocked and considering what’s taking place outside I didn’t feel like announcing myself.”
She pushes Innathia in and looks outside, noting the giant dire wolf outside, “Well hurry up, Gail is down in the basement,” She says walking away from the door, “And tell your friend to come inside. He stands out worse than a goblin at a birthday party.”
Mael having heard her lets out what sounds as close to a chuckle that a wolf can make. Squeezing his massive from through the door, Innathia closes the door behind him.
Making their way down to the basement they see Gail adorning himself in armor, a great sword strapped to his back. He looks up at them as they approach, giving them a curt nod of recognition, “Hail friends. It seems things have progressed faster than we wanted. Tell me, how fares the city?”
“Saharan forces have invaded Port Durst. They arrived on the Dixie Whick and started slaughtering the civilians and guards who went to see their arrival. The guards are doing what they can to protect the citizens but the monks have shut the citadel and are deaf to the pleas to open the gates.” He takes a deep breath before continuing, “And the prince is with him.”
Gail stares hard at him as he considered his words. “Our first priority must be the prince. Port Durst has no strategic value, if Sahar is brave enough to send this kind of force the prince is their target.”
The owner of the inn clutches Innathia’s arm, “Is it the real Dixie Whick?” Concern etched her face. Innathia looks down at her, “I never laid eyes upon the ship before, but it seems to be the real deal. I am sorry.” In elvish Innathia offers her the condolences of his gods. Not understanding his words, the gesture was apparent, she thanks him and wipes the tears from her eyes. Fierce determination crossing her face.
Gail places a hand on her shoulder, “My biggest regret in life will be that I was not amongst my comrade, we will atone for these sins with the blood of those responsible.” Turning back to Innathia and Mael, Gail asks, “Do you have a plan? We need to get inside the keep and rescue the prince. I know of a secret way into the citadel, but it will take some time to get there.” He said as if reluctant to divulge the information.
Equally as reluctant Innathia replies, “If you’re talking about the tunnel that leads from the desert to the citadel, I know of a…shortcut.” This entire venture was going to cost him a fortune, he just made a deal for a mahogany table for the dining room.
Gail looks at him again, as if appraising him with a warier regard to his abilities. “Very well, where is this secret entrance?”
“It’s near that sinkhole that appeared a couple of days ago. About a street up, last house on the right.”
Gail donned a stylized helm, and drew his sword, “Very well, meet me there.” Eldritch runes lit up along his sword, and a mist seemed to form around Gail before he disappeared from sight.
Mael and Innathia looked at each other in mild shock, Innathia broke the silence, “Well. Let’s not keep the old man waiting.”
Bast, Bex and Eldeth set out from the citadel. Not sure what they would encounter the pair rushed across the street into a nearby ally. Not spying any foes the group continued on, dashing across another street, sounds of the cackle that passed for a kobold laugh coming from up ahead. Just as they were about to make it across the street, Bex tripped and busted her elbow through a window. The laughing stopped at a pack of kobolds turned away from the citizen they were harassing to look at the cause of the sound.
Angry at cutting her elbow Bex let out a roar and rushed the Kobolds, taking a swing at the nearest one and cleaving it nearly in half. Laughing in joy, Bex stomped onto the skull, crushing it beneath her feet as blood and brain matter splattered the street. Seeing their ally so brutally murdered the nearest kobold hissed at her and took to the air. The rest of the kobolds followed suit, each carrying a large rock. A hail of rocks landed on Bex, bludgeoning her and knocking her unconscious. As the kobolds swarmed her Eldeth and Bast lashed out at the kobolds in an attempt to help their friend. Arrows and dark cat headed energy shot out, picking the kobolds from the sky.
With their payload dropped, the remaining kobolds swooped down at the pair, Bast dodged a dagger aimed for his eyes and followed up with a thrust from his spear, catching the kobold in the wing. With a shriek, it dropped to the ground, Bast didn’t wait and pierced the kobold in the back as it lay prone.
Seeing the giant go down so easily shocked Eldeth, the skirmish had escalated so quickly. Steeling her resolve she prepared for the kobold flying at her, drawing swords and easily dispatched the winging vermin.
Bast rushed to Bex’s side, and checked her wounds. She had a cut on her head, where a rock had grazed her skull. Seeing that while she was out, she seemed to be relatively stable. Turning the to the group of huddled civilians, Bast said “Fear not, we are here to help. Make way to the citadel. The guards will protect you.” He looked down at Bex, and then back at the group. “We need your help though, help us carry her to the keep.”
The crowd looked among themselves and back at the gore spattered barbarian, eventually deciding that anything as brutal was the sea giant they would rather have on their side then against them. Between the group of them they managed to lift Bex up and the party made their way back to the citadel. Bast and Eldeth keeping watch as the they moved through the battle scared streets.
As they arrived at the keep Hank ushered the people past the barricade they had formed,
“Quick, inside! Make your way to the lighthouse.”
Bast stood next to Hank, “Bex was hurt, do you have a healer?”
Hank looked at the prone sea giant, startled that such a mighty warrior could fall. “Here, give her this.” Handing Bast a healing potion. Bast thanked him and rushed to Bex, forcing the potion down her throat.
Bex regained conscious instantly, startling forward as she awoke. Looking around she realized that she wasn’t where she had dropped. “Did we save them?”
Bast smiled down at her, “We did Bex. Rest now, Mael and Innathia should be here soon. Until them Hank and the guards can hold the line.”
Looking about to argue, Bex seemed to reconsider as she felt the lump on her head. Nodding she leaned against the wall and dozed off.