...And so the Rosegate Company gathers its forces and journeys into the Underdark, on the road to Ul-Drakkan -- House Vrama’s fortress.
The journey to Ul-Drakkan is expected to take 9-10 days. The first three days are uneventful. They pass through various tunnels and caverns of all varieties. They met a few groups of locathah hunters, and some drow fungus gatherers from House Leisharn. The troops joke about wanting some action and being bored. The elf commander, Zaetra Stallinash, seems to be a charismatic leader and keeps the troops moralized despite the difficult terrain and omnipresent darkness. Hazarkhan the Jester provides entertainment.
HOUSE VRAMA PREPARES
They do not realize that just after the attack on the Temple of Calethon, Vrama military commanders Tharion and Thariust were dispatched from Ul-Drakkan with a small army of drow and bugbears. Their mission was was to block the road through Lost River Canyon, and defeat any surface forces en route to the drow fortress long before they approach Vrama territory.
In addition to their personal bodyguards -- four mighty Freedom Avengers from the Temple of the Spider Queen -- Tharion and Thariust bring the following regiments:
Drow Female Soldiers x 10
Drow Female Elite Shock Troops x 6 (on giant lizard mounts)
Drow Male Soldiers x 10
Drow Male Soldiers x 16
Bugbears x 8
Bugbears x 20
On the fourth day, the Rosegate Company and their forces are ambushed by House Vrama’s troops at Lost River Canyon.
AMBUSH AT LOST RIVER CANYON
It is Vatex who spots the drow and bugbears, well hidden on either ridge alongside the road through the glittering limestone cavern, foiling the surprise attack. Emeris sees with his darkvision that about 80 feet ahead, there is a much more gradual slope that would allow the troops to reach the bugbears on the righthand ridge. Jeren is ordered to lead the humans troops up to the ridge while the Zaestra and the elves provide cover with their bows. Emeris teleports to the ridge on the lefthand side, behind the ranks of the ten drow.
He finds himself surrounded on all sides, with an even BIGGER regiment of drow now visible behind the first, along with a squad of female troops. Then there is Tharion, who is clearly marked as a commander, and his paladin bodyguards. From his current vantage, he can also see the other side -- where there is Thariust and his bodyguards, along with 20 more bugbears!
Emeris blasts raw shadow power upon his foes, destroying Tharion in one hit and at the same time annihilating the entire female regiment. The freedom avengers charge through the blast, initiating special attack techniques that utilize the raw power of ANARCHY! Emeris is hacked twice!
Javelins fall upon the Rosegate’s vanguard, and Vatex takes a hit! Dziga shadow jumps up to the left ridge, followed by Vatex who quickly climbs up slope. Drow warriors surround them and they fight! The elf and rogue simply devastate the low-level opposition that swarms around. Between the two of them, they kill an average of 0.75 drow soldiers per second.
The human troops surge into the cavern with a traditional Vigoorian battle cry, and move between the earthen shelves while bugbears rain javelins down on them. Rubino is badly wounded! Jeren Thorr presses them onwards, and the elves take up position behind them. Their bows rain death upon bugbears, and the two groups exchange ranged attacks.
More male drow soldiers swarm around Emeris, who is already being pressed by two superior martial opponents. He waits for the perfect opening and unleashes the Shadow Storm mystery. Electrical shadow power arcs from drow to drow, killing seven of them.
The larger group of bugbears takes position to block access to the righthand ridge as the humans advance. Thariust, seeing that these foes are mighty indeed, shouts a desperate prayer to Gorgoth-lol... and calls a yochlol, which appears at his side. His paladin accompaniment fires their bows, trying to snipe the mighty heroes on the other side amidst the frantic melee.
Bugbear javelins plunge into the ranks of elves and men. Elven bowstrings quiver in retort. Jeren Thorr leads the charge, and notices a fairly large cave across from the slope. His strategic intuition gives him a fire warning, but he sticks to his orders... The human troops smash against the bugbears’ battle line. Jeren Thorr’s mighty axe hacks bugbear flesh. Morningstars crack human skulls and crush ribcages. Vigoorian swords are thrust through bugbear bodies.
Then Jeren hears cries of distress from the back ranks. They have been flanked! The elite drow lizard-riding shock troops make a devastating charge from the cave where they were lying in wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Their attack causes the human line to utterly collapse on that side. Their masterwork drow-crafted lances punch through the men’s banded mail like it is paper.
The elite drow cavalry have dropped their lances and are stabbing men with bloodthirsty abandon with slender swords. Their lizard mounts chomp off human soldier faces like hungry men eating apples. Zaestra’s elves continue firing volleys of arrows which are whittling down the bugbears with efficiency. Yet, if something is not done, the human unit will likely be overrun.
More drow attack Emeris, scoring a few lucky hits. Thariust attacks with chaotic bursts of divine magic as well. He cannot hold off any further, but his attack has been devastating enough for now. He decides to teleport back to the tunnel and drink potions and draws shadow power into his body to survive greater punishment. This leaves Vatex and Dziga to slaughter more drow troops. Bloodied bodies of drow continue piling up as they are slaughtered by the deadly duo.
Jeren renews his ferocity, cutting down a third bugbear. Another advances to fight him, only to be felled by an elven arrow. Behind him, men fight against the drow cavalry, pulling one off her lizard and brutally stabbing her to death. Emmett loses half his face when he gets too close to a lizard’s snapping jaws. Beowulf takes a slender drow sword right through the neck.
As Dziga continues slaughtering drow soldiers on the leftmost shelf, Vatex begins his dervish blade dance and leaps off the ridge directly into battle with the elite shock troops. He moves through their unit like a gust of wind, skilfully striking fatal blows against each of them as he does. Then, in unison, they fall dead off their mounts. A cheer arises from the men, and their fury is focused entirely on the bugbears on the right side.
Emeris teleports back into combat, this time attacking Thariust and his entourage. Thariust is killed with one of the avengers on the first blast. The yochlol assaults him with magic, and the freedom avenger uses unholy divine strikes. Emeris stunlocks the other avenger with the Shadowgeist Reaver, then finishes him off with the demon in another blast of Killing Shadows.
The bugbears are whittled down to just four, and they attempt to retreat for the river. Emeris teleports to cut them off while Dziga and Vatex block them from behind. The bugbears try to surrender, but the Rosegate Company instead allows the troops to brutally execute them, leaving no survivors.
In the end, the Rosegate Expeditionary Force loses six humans and one elf, with their enemies suffering losses tenfold. The KIA report is as follows:
Human Deaths: Allan, Beowulf, Stuart, Biffy, Wolf, and Emmett
Elf Deaths: Marsulla
Everyone else is treated with first aid and charges from Vatex’s healing stick. The fact that they are led by mighty warriors, and the fact that they were willing to use magic resources to help their troops, keeps moral high despite the casualties. However, some people say there is racist anti-human policies in this army -- despite the fact that Dziga is human (some say he’s not really human).
Vatex reveals to Zaestra that Dziga is actually a child-murderer. Dziga doesn’t like this because TECHNICALLY he made a deal with the prosecutor and pled to a much lesser charge than murder. And furthermore, he is not entirely sure he DID murder a child. Some part of him believes that it was just a weird vision conjured by Keziah or the Black Man, regardless of the ostensibly damning physical evidence.
STORMING THE WATCHTOWER
The REF heads out and luckily has three days of uneventful travel. Despite the difficulty of the trek, people are in good spirits. Many enjoy the sights of magnificent, exotic caverns and strange underdark wildlife like displacer beasts and hook horrors.
On the eighth day, the army encounters a small Vrama scouting party. Emeris teleports close to them and, with a single blast of mighty shadow magic, ensures that none of them will report back to Ul-Drakkan ever again.
About six hours later, the Rosegate forces come across an interesting location. In a large cavern, there is a stone watchtower suspended by hundreds of massive webstrands about 100 feet above the ground. Emeris can see dark elves with crossbows looking out the windows on the tower’s first level.
Vatex, Dziga, and Emeris will attack the tower while the bulk of the troops remain behind. Only Porkins and Hands will accompany them as, ahem, “backup” -- they will be carried by Vatex and Dziga who will drink the only two flying potions in the army’s inventory (taken from the corpse of Thariust).
Crossbows fire at Vatex and Dziga as they fly up to the tower. They drop Porkins and Hands on the stone base around the tower. Porkins’ torch catches a cluster of aranchoid eyes in the darkness as the web begins to tremble, and two enhanced bebiliths, blessed by Gorgoth-lol to guard this watchtower, attack them.
Because Dziga and Vatex are flying, Porkins and Hands present easier targets to the demonic spiders. The bebiliths tear off the two soldiers’ heads with a disgusting, meaty snap of their jaws and pedipalps.
Emeris teleports onto the platform and uses shadow magic to paralyze one of the bebiliths, which Dziga starts stabbing with Asura and Gozu Vrow. Vatex flies in, avoiding an opportunity attack, and slashes hard with the axiomatic Sword of Aqaa. Both combatants find that the Spider Queen’s blessing has made the spiders tremendously resilient to damage.
As the paralyzed bebilith breaks free of Emeris’ spell, the shadowcaster hits it with umbral rays and Dziga stabs it in sensitive locations. Vatex exchanges furious blows with the other bebilith. They defeat the demonic spiders, suffering only some minor injuries, then prepare to enter the watchtower.
TO BE CONTINUED...
APPENDIX: UPDATED ROSTER
Zaetra - bard, elf leader
Jeren - fighter, human leader
Hazarkan - elf jester
- Bloodheart (wood elf)
- Black Dog
- Fat Bill
- Killer Sanchez