Mael and Innathia made good time to his house, when they arrived they noted what looked to be a full patrol of kobolds dead in the street. Gail walked out from a nearby alley, “What took you guys so long.”
Cleaning the blood from his blade Gail gestured at the nearby houses, “Which one is it?”
Innathia dismounted, “This one, follow.” The trio went into the house and down to the basement, Mael dropped his dire wolf form as they entered the tunnel.
“Should we go back and get the rest of our party first?” Mael whispered.
“If what you say is true, all we need to do is open the gate and the result would be the same. If we doubled back it would take too much time.” Gail said. Mael acknowledged this statement with a nod.
Moving along in the darkness with Innathia leading the way, they came upon the same grate the party had come upon earlier in the week. It appeared that it had not been discovered as the gate was still unlocked.
Shifting the grate gently, so as not to knock over the barrel sitting on top of it, Gail entered first followed by the cleric and druid. Finding themselves in a storage closet. Opening the only door out, they found themselves where the ale was stored, a giant keg taking up half the room.
“Ok, you know the layout Gail, where to from here?” Asked Innathia.
“If we go north, it’ll lead to the main keep, which is my guess where they are holding the prince. To the south leads to the gate. If we plan on storming the main keep, I say we let your friends in first.”
Innathia considered the options, “Fair enough, let me go first. I will clear a path to the gatehouse.” Gently opening the door, Innathia slipped out. It lead to a corridor lit by torches lined along the wall. Heading south Innathia stopped at a corner, looking around he noted a monk leaning against the wall, book in hand. Praising Fyet for easy marks, Innathia put his sword to the monk’s throat, “Make a sound, and you’ll never know how it ends.” Innathia lead the monk back to the ale room where they bound and knocked out the monk for safe keeping.
Continuing back along corridor Innathia came upon another door, easing this one open he came upon a monk on the other side, thankfully looking the other way, making quick work of capturing this monk he opened the last door and looked out upon the courtyard. Seeing four monks standing guard in front of the double doors leading out of the keep. Completing his task of scouting out the gate Innathia made his way back to where Gail and Mael waited.
“Four monks guard the gate, you can still hear the guards banging on the door to be let in.” Innathia said with a scowl.
Gail looked furious, “If they are not allied with Sahar, then they still damn themselves by not acting. This kind of weakness is not becoming of servants of Norvell.” He draws his sword, “I will cause a distraction and take down those monks. You two open the gates and let your friends in.”
With that Gail headed up the northern path as Innathia and Mael made their way to the gate.
Along with the guards Bast and Eldeth repelled several attempts from the kobolds to breach the line, but for the most part their effort was still on harassing the city. More groups of civilians had made their way to the lighthouse. And still there was no sign from the monks. Nor the rest of their party.
Bast was beginning to worry that the others had been waylaid. After repelling another assault by kobolds, the sound of the gates opening caught his attention.
He rushed over to wake up Bex, who had amazingly been able to sleep through all the commotion.
“Bex, wake up. The gate is opening.” Bex rubbed her eyes sleepily as she stood and hefted her axe over her shoulder.
Rushing towards the gate the group viewed a man fighting two monks in the courtyard, two dead at his feet. Innathia and Mael stood by the gate as they opened it wider to allow everyone in.
Looking questioningly at them but holding his tongue for now Bast shot out an eldritch blast hitting one of the monks. Innathia followed up and shot the other monk with his crossbow. It became apparent that their assistance was not required as Gail took down the remaining monks in a flurry of blows.
“Come, we must secure the keep and find the prince.” He said walking up towards the door to the inner keep. The party looked stunned at Gail, who a day before had seemed a slightly crazy old man, but now was fighting better than men in their prime.
To the guards Gail addressed, “Until we secure the keep, hold on moving the civilians in.” Hank nodded and rushed back out to his men. Turning back towards the party he looked them over, “I would love to see nothing more than Luhi dead at my feet, and by the action of his men it incriminates him in treason against the crown. But until we have definitive proof, no one is to lay a hand on him, there are still laws to uphold.” He took the measure of the group once more before nodding and pushed open the gates to the keep.
In the keep, Luhi and two of his monks stood in the middle, and an unconscious and bound prince was on the ground in front of Luhi. His honor guard lay dead and stripped around him. Gail took in the scene in an instant, anger crossing his face at this treason.
“Luhi! You dare assault the royal family! This is treason of the highest order and the only punishment is death!” Sword raised high Gail rushed in with the party behind him.
Luhi smirked down at Gail, “I should have killed you long ago old man.” He motioned for the two monks to move in.
Gail was the first into combat, squaring up against Luhi. Mael instantly turned into a dire wolf again and launched himself at one of the monks to the left, with Bast rushing the monk on the right followed by Bex. From the rear Eldeth and Innathia took shots at Luhi in between the combatants.
Mael’s claw slashed across the monk’s chest, leaving deep gashes as blood began to pool along the floor. Keeping his focus, the monk got two quick jabs in with his fist, connecting with his muzzle. In anger Mael took a snap at the monk’s neck catching the shoulder, still not uttering a cry the monk followed up with a knee to the shoulder and an elbow to the eye, trying to dislodge the dire wolf. Seeing the struggling monk Innathia took a quick shot at the trapped monk and caught him in the throat, bleeding out in Mael’s mouth.
Showing a high level of skill for a supposed wounded sailor, Gail was able to go toe to toe with Luhi, blade against fist as the two moved around each other with the precise movement of veterans. Bex took a swing at Luhi’s back and manage to graze his side, not breaking focus Luhi let out with a backhand that Bex easily blocked with the haft of her axe. Not wasting a moment Eldeth let out a shot from her bow that caught Luhi in the shoulder, the impact nearly spinning him around.
Bast took a stab at the monk to the right and mange to clip him in the thigh, ignoring the wound the monk took a punch at Bast that he was able to deflect with his shield.
“You shall all die here today!” Luhi yelled, “The might of Sahar cannot be stopped.” The strains of his wounds starting to show Luhi looked at Gail, “And you, you won’t live to regret not being there to die alongside your comrades.” Taking another hit at Gail, Luhi clipped him alongside his helmet that left a ringing in his ears.
Grim determination on his face, Gail smashed the pommel of his sword into Luhi’s face, a splash of blood shooting from the smashed mess that was his nose. As he staggered back from the blow Gail let out a yell and scored a long gash across Luhi’s chest. His constitution finally giving out Luhi dropped to the floor.
Not even seeing his friend mauled by a wolf, and his leader brought low could shake the remaining monks resolve. Bex ran up behind him and cleaved him out of the air as he made a jumping kick against Bast’s shield. The first sound to escape his mouth was a small yelp of shock as his parts plopped to the ground. Bex follows up and smashes the monk’s skull, its crunch making a satisfying crunch under her foot.
Gail stood over Luhi’s crumpled body, sword raised for the death blow. Breathing deep he lowered his sword. Looking back to the party he said, “This man deserves death, but if I do it I know it will be because of the hatred I have for him. I will leave his fate to you.” With that he walked next to the prone prince and checked his wounds.
Bast walked over to Luhi, spear poised to strike. Innathia stepped in front of him, “Stop, we can’t kill this man. His crimes are many but he still deserves a trial.”
Bast appraised Innathia before speaking, “We are a state at war. We can’t allow this man to live, and his crimes lay before you.” Innathia looked around at the party and saw that all were in agreement with Bast.
“Very well, I see that I am out voted on this one.” And he stepped away. Bast nodded to him and stepped up to Luhi, spear raised.
With the deed done Bast stood up and looked back at Mael treating the prince, laying his hands upon him healing energy running through him, into the prince. Waking with a start the prince looked up at Mael with confusion in his eyes, “You will pay for this! My father will hunt you across the realm!”
Mael stood back in shock, not expecting that kind of reaction, “Woah, we just saved your life. I was just healing you.”
The prince looked around, noting Luhi’s corpse and the people around him until his eyes set upon Gail. “The Wolf of Ryll, by Norvell it is good to see your old friend.” Standing up he took Gail’s hand in a warriors embrace.
Gail laughed at that, “And you my prince.” Looking around Gail’s face took a more somber expression, “It is unfortunate that we meet in these circumstances. I had hoped our reunion would be more joyous.”
The prince nodded, Fin Gab-Ryll, appraised the party, “Your comrades have proven to be most helpful. I and Ryll owe them a debt.”
Bex walked over to Gail, “Its done,” She said looking back at Luhi’s corpse, “What is our next move?”
Gail sighed, “Thank you, although I wished his death, I wish we had time to go through the proper channels. But Luhi was too dangerous a threat to keep alive. We still have to deal with the Saharan invaders.”
After finishing off Luhi, Bast began searching the remaining rooms in the keep. Opening one that seemed to lead into a guest bedroom he heard a noise. Whirling around, spear drawn he noticed a monk walking out of the shadows, hands raised.
“Peace, I mean you know harm. I am not one of Luhi’s ilk. I am loyal to Ryll.” The monk said.
Wary Bast kept his spear raised, “And why would I believe you.” The monk went down on his knees hands still raised.
“I don’t blame you for your caution. But Luhi has betrayed us both. He killed those who wouldn’t follow him towards damnation.” His words rang true with Bast, “I hid here, it was cowardly I know but there was nothing we could do against Luhi. If you wish to end me, then so be it.”
Bast lowered his spear, “Today has seen enough bloodshed, and I believe you. Follow me, but stay back. I am not sure how my party will react.”
Gail was kneeling in front of the symbol of Norvell, deep in prayer when Bast and the monk walked into the room. Upon noticing the monk Gail stood, sword drawn. “Betrayer!”
“Wait!” Bast said stepping in between them. “This man is on our side, he was part of the faction that refused to bend the knee to Luhi and his cronies. Many of his friends have been slain.”
Gail stood glaring at the priest. Taking a deep breath, he lowered his sword, “Very well, but we must still bound this man before we can be sure.”
The monk bowed his head in acknowledgement. After shackling the monk, Gail continued his prayers until the Fin returned, armed and ready for war. “We will secure the rest of the citadel.” He said nodding towards Gail before returning his gaze to the party. “I need you guys to return outside and make sure the citizens are secured. Once the citadel is safe we can begin moving them here. “
Gail gave them a salute and then set off with the prince.
Heading outside the group was met by Hank, “Is it done? Has Luhi been defeated?”
Innathia nodded, “Yes, for good or ill Luhi has been killed. The prince and Gail are securing the citadel, when it is safe move the citizens into the main keep.”
Hank looked past them at the keep and then back outside where his men continued to hold the blockade. “Very well.” With that he set off to inform his men.
As the group was considering what to do next they heard a familiar voice, Hansu came running up to them. “Oh, it is good to see you guys again. Quick! There is a party of kobolds attacking the granary. If the city’s food is destroyed it won’t matter if we repel the invaders, the city will starve before winter is over.”
Before they could decide what to do, they were met by Ket, “By Riternal’s grace, you must come quickly! There are people trapped at the church of Riternal that need your help.”
The party looked at each other, torn between what to do first. “Do we split up again?” Bex thought of the kobolds dropping rocks on her again, “I don’t think that is such a good idea. We don’t know what we will face out there. And we expended a lot of our power against Luhi.”
“We should go to the granary. If it falls, everything we have done here is for naught. Port Durst, has been seeing hard times before this, it lacks the resources to import its food from afar.” Bast said.
Innathia nodded in agreement, “I find myself in agreement with Bast. We can always double back and save the people at the temple after.”
Bex looked longingly towards the temple. Bast put a hand on her arm, “We must pray the Riternal gives them strength until we can arrive. At this point we must think of the greater good.” Bex nodded in understanding.
“It still doesn’t sit well with me but you are right.”
Eldeth spoke up, “I am sorry but I can’t follow you. There is something I need to check out before the night is over.” With that the ranger ran off into the city.
Passing the barricade, the party set out towards the granary. Luckily, they didn’t run into enemy along the way. Upon approaching the granary, they noted a group of kobolds standing in front of the building. Their attempts to set the granary on fire seemed to be meeting some difficulties.
A little hesitant that before, Bex ran up and hurled a javelin at the nearest kobold. It pierced it through the back as it let out a shriek. Looking at the javelin poking out of their ally the pack let out a cry, and turned to their attackers. Bast and Mael walked forward past Bex, channeling his dark power through his spear Bast shot out a dark bolt of energy at one of the kobolds, grazing it on the side.
The pack took flight, swooping past Bast as they dropped a series of rocks at him. Deflecting several off his shield he still took a couple of hits that stunned him. Staggering back towards his ally, blood pooling down his head.
Mael was not as lucky as several rocks grazed his head, knocking him unconscious. With their payload dropped they started swarming down trying to stab them with daggers and clubs. Now in range Bex set out against the kobolds with brutal efficiency, cleaving two down as they swooped by.
Innathia dodged the dagger of one and put a bolt through its eye. Shrieking the kobold crashed in a crumpled pile at his feet.
Holding his wounded side Bast walked over to the downed druid, “Innathia, can you heal him?” Innathia knelt down next to him.
“Unfortunately, no, I used the last of my energy fighting Luhi.” Checking his vitals, he was able to see that his wounds were not life threatening, “He’s stable enough, we must carry him back to the citadel and find a healer.”
“He may not be the only one,” Bast said with a grimace. “At least the granary is secure, we should make sure that its properly barricaded in case another attack is made.”
As he began to walk to the granary, the door burst open and out jumped a Nephilim, sword raised, she was followed by four lackeys. As they exited the granary they spread out, trying to surround the party.
Angry at the ambush, Bast’s eyes turned black as he let his powers course through him. Raising his spear at the leader he let out a yell. A dark bolt shot out from his spear, the face of a fierce cat forming at its head, yellow and black energy coursing around it. The Nephilim stood in shock looking at their commander, a fist sized hole was now were her heart had been before. It took a moment before recognition crossed her face and she crumpled to the ground. Keeping his spear raised Bast looked at the remaining ambushers before speaking, “Run now” Not hesitating the survivors took off into the night.
Sagging with relief Bast knelt down on one knee, breathing heavy after the taxing encounter.
Innathia appraised the party, one wounded and another unconscious, “We should retire to the citadel, to stay out here will be suicide.”
Bex picked up Mael, and slung him over her shoulder. “We are not abandoning those at the temple.” With that she began to make her way towards the temple of Riternal. Bast looked at Innathia, shrugging before following her. Innathia sighed and followed suite.
Making quick time to the temple they were surprised to see that no one assaulted the temple. Fearing they were too late they rushed to the temple.
“Hello?” Whispered Bex, opening the door she was greeted by a group of citizens huddled together in fear. “It is ok! Riternal has delivered you. Follow us to the keep, we will keep you safe.” She said motioning to her party.
With two in the front, and two guarding the rear, the party began moving to the citadel. At the last corner, they rushed to a stop. Innathia motioned for quite as he took a look. Gathered in front of the citadel doors it seemed all the Saharan forces had gathered. Among them stood the red half dragon, arms crossed as he stood on the platform that earlier the prince had spoken from.
“We can’t get in this way, “Innathia said as the rest of the party made it to the front.
Bast kneeled down next to him, “Even with an army at the gates, that’s still the safest place for the citizens. We need to find a way in.”
“Well I don’t see ourselves sneaking past that,” Innathia said motioning towards the rabble in front of them. Bast considered their options.
“We use the tunnel.” Innathia glared at him, it was bad enough having to show Gail but this many witnesses was unthinkable!
Hiding his frustration, he replied, “Very well.”
Bex looked ahead of them, “I hope the people at the lighthouse made it inside in time.” Bast put a hand on her shoulder. “We must trust that Hank made it in time.”
With that, they doubled back towards Innathia’s house and the secret entrance.
Entering the inner keep seemed to catch Gail and Prince Fin by surprise, “We really should set a guard on that tunnel.” He said with a smile. “We are glad to see you have returned, were you successful?”
“Yes, the granary is secured, we also saved the people trapped in the temple.” Said Innathia,
“We were surprised to see the Saharan host at the gates.”
“It seems with Luhi’s plan foiled, the commander has seen it fit to take the field himself to finish the job.” Said Gail, “Unfortunately we lack the resources to properly repel a concentrated attack. But at the very least the citadel is secured, for the moment.” He said, gesturing to several monks chained near the wall.
Prince Fin said, “These are the ones who surrendered. Hopefully some loyalist remains amongst their numbers but for now we don’t have time to interrogate them properly.”
Bex walked up and set down the still form of Mael, “Are there any healers? He is stable but unconscious.”
“I can help.” Ket said walking up, “I want to thank you for saving the people trapped in the temple, I shudder to think what would happen if a Saharan patrol had stumbled upon them.” Kneeling down he placed both his hands on Mael’s chest, and channeled Riternal’s power through him.
Mael woke up coughing before speaking, “Next time you go first.” He said to Bex.
The grouped grinned at that. With Mael secured Bex turned to Ket, “What about the people in the lighthouse? Were they able to make it into the citadel in time?”
“Yes, because of Hanks swift actions we were able to securely get every on in before the Sahar arrived at the gate.” Ket replied. Bex smiled, one less thing to worry about.
“What’s our next move?” Bast asked, addressing Prince Fin and Gail.
Gail rubbed his temples, “All I know is the prince must be protected. We could sneak him out of the city. Take the secret tunnel out and escape into the desert?”
“I won’t abandon my people. Not when I am their main goal.” Prince Fin said.
At that moment Hank burst into the keep, “Your highness, you must come.”
Looking at each other the group followed Hank out of the keep and onto the citadels walls. Looking over the battlements the Saharan forces stood outside in ranks. The half dragon stepped forward, appraising the defenders on the wall, obviously not impressed.
“People of Port Durst, your tenacity today has earned my respect,” His voice projected clearly across the night. “I will offer you a deal. We are only here for the prince, if you hand him over I will spare your town. Continue to fight and you will all die this night.” His proclamation was met by harassment by the defenders. He smiled at their defiance. “Not good enough for you? How about this, send out your strongest warriors to fight me. If you win my forces will leave this squalid shack of a city. But if you lose, the prince is mine.”
Prince Fin looked at the half dragon with intense eyes, turning to Gail he spoke, “You must give me up. My life is not worth a city full of people.”
“I am sorry your highness, but I am not giving you up to this bastard.” Gail spoke vehemently.
“You have fifteen minutes to make your decision. After that I shall bring the full force of Sahar against you.” With that the red half dragon walked back into his ranks.
As the Prince and Gail got into a heated argument Bast looked around at his party, “We will fight him.” Their conversation halted Gail and the Prince turned to regard the party.
“Together we can defeat him, he is one lone fighter. We have taken down many foes this past week. What is one more?”
Gail appraised them, “You have proved your mettle in the fight against Luhi.” Turning to the prince he said, “It has merit your highness.”
Sighing, Prince Fin nodded his head, “Very well,” Turning to Gail he said, “Outfit these adventurers with some healing potions. And heal any prior wounds, they are going to need to be at top strength.” Gail nodded and motioned for a guard to fetch Ket, and grab healing potions. “I want you to go with them as well Gail.”
At this Gail turned, “With all due respect your highness, I won’t allow it. I am not leaving your side.” The two glared at each other, eventually it was the prince who sighed and averted his gaze. “Very well.”
“I will fight with them your highness, “Turning the prince appraised Hank, “You are the city guard who has been leading these men? That is very admirable of you. You have shown yourself to be a true son of Ryll.” Hank kneeled, humbled by the prince’s words.
Ket arrived not long after, healing the minor wounds the party had, but there was nothing he could do to restore their fatigue.
The party assembled in front the gate, preparing themselves for what was to come. Bast looked over at Bex, “Let Riternal’s fury guide you friend.”
Bex looked down at her friend and smiled, “You as well friend.”
Donning his mask Innathia spoke a phrase in elvish under his breath, beseeching his god in private. Mael conjured up a club, taking several test swings loosening himself up. With his ability to shape shift exhausted he knew this was going to be a trying battle.
Bast put his hand onto Hanks shoulder, “We appreciate you being here with us, you are truly a son of Ryll.” Hank smiled at that, and he nodded thanks to him before returning his gaze to the gate, fierce focus crossing his face.
With a loud groan the gates opened up, the party moved out, the forces of Sahar arrayed before them. In front stood the half dragon, hands on the pommel of his sword, resting in the ground. “Only five of you? Let’s hope you make this worth my time.” Raising his sword to his shoulder the half dragon began walking forward, “Let me introduce myself, I am Langdregosa. Now, prepare to die.”
Langdregosa strode casually forward towards the party, wide smile on his face. Mael was the first to charge, taking a swing at him. The blow grazed his shoulder, repelled by his armor. Ignoring Mael he took a couple of more steps forward Langdregosa came to a halt, taking in a deep breath in and exhaled a giant storm of fire. The party scattered as the fire washed over them, evading the worst of it but not being able to avoid being burned.
Bex was the first to recover and rushed at him, great axe taking swings at him in giant arcs, still grinning the half dragon easily parried her attacks. Seeing an opportunity Bast flanked him and took a thrust with his spear, barely piercing the plate armor and finding flesh underneath. Turning towards Bast, Langdregosa threw an elbow aimed at his face which. Bast barely had time to raise his shield in time.
Keeping several steps back Innathia proceeded to take several shots at him with his crossbow, placing precise shots in between his allies to find purchase in the half dragon.
Mael rushed in from behind and took several more swings, one connected and attracted Langdregosa’s attention. Whirling around he took two quick slashes at Mael, cutting him across the chest and stabbing into his thigh. Wounded Mael reeled back, then strengthened his resolve and attacked with new vigor.
Standing side by side with Bex, Hank scored several quick attacks against the half dragon. Failing to pierce the plate armor, Langdregosa smashed his tail into Hank as reprisal, followed up back an overhead slash. The blow landed with enough power to split Hank’s shield and sending the guard staggering back.
“If this is the best you can offer you should have sent the cripple out to fight me. I’ve heard he at least has some fight in him.”
Ignoring his remarks, Bex kept up her brutal assault, finally getting past his guard, the axe connected in his side, forcing out a roar of pain. Smoke curled out his mouth as he snarled in Bex’s face. Seeing him distracted Bast scored another hit from the rear, spear piercing the thick plate armor in the back. Still bleeding, Mael took another swing, smashing into the back of the half dragons leg, nearly taking it out from under him. Snarling, Langdregosa smashed the pommel of his sword into Mael’s face, knocking him unconscious on the ground. He followed that attack by slashing down at Hank again, who failed to parry it in time, the blade pierced Hank in the chest, eyes wide Hank slid off the blade onto the ground.
“No!!” Bex bellowed at seeing her allies fall. A bolt whizzed past her head as Innathia let loose another round from his crossbow. Piercing the side of the half dragons neck gave Bex all the distraction she needed. Eyes glazing over in fury she brought axe down and nearly cleaved Langdregosa in half from sternum to hip. Gasping for breath, the half dragon’s corpse fell to the ground, a large pool quickly forming around him.
A hushed silence fell over the Saharan forces after witnessing their leaders fall. Bloody and weary Bast shot a blast of eldritch power into the sky, and addressed the horde before him, “Your leader is dead! Now leave Port Durst, into the sands you must now march, and any found remaining will find only death awaiting them.”
After a short moment, the Saharan’s threw down their weapons, and began to make their way towards the eastern gate. Seeing them make their leave Bast nearly collapsed with exhaustion, but then he saw Hank’s prone form and rushed over, potion in hand. Kneeling down next to him he saw that he was too late, Hank’s glazed eyes were looking up into the sky. Bast closed his eyes, “Sleep well friend, know that Port Durst survives because of your heroism tonight.”