Monday, 5 March 2012

Prelude: Pursuit to the Bridge

Kronin, Bishop Guire and Greencloak had considered themselves lucky. As they had fled the city with Lord Erkenfried, in the confusion of the rescue and the continued chaos across the city, the Westgeat had proved to be unguarded. That luck didn’t last long. Although fewer in numbers the hero’s party was still too large to sneak through the besieging lines, and several patrols of Undead were quickly on their trail. Over the three or four leagues to the bridge they managed to stay ahead of their pursuers, even though there were a significant number of mounted troops. Once again, though, their luck didn’t hold as within sight of the bridge the pursuers caught up with the hero’s party.Taking stock the heroes realised that they were not alone. Coming from the south along the river another party of refugees appeared to be making their way to the bridge and it also seemed to Siriel Greencloak’s keen eyes that there were also refugees already on the bridge. Forming a solid line on the nearside of a close by hill the humans and dwarves prepared for the worst, while the elves formed a skirmish line in a wood at the eastern end of the hill. Their trepidation appeared unfounded as the Undead proved ponderous in their pursuit now that the heroes were clearly in sight. Taking advantage of the initiative the heroes dashed across the open ground to the bridge while shooting from the elves and the Borderers caster pinned down the approaching Undead. A brief melee ensued as the chariots leading the Undead pursuit engaged the heroes but were quickly torn apart with deft strokes from dwarven axe and elven steel. Thus began the slow but inexorable advance on the bridge. Wary of the Undead force behind which could surge forward at any moment even without the guiding force of the Wight leading them, but still uncertain of the safety of the way ahead the heroes were tentative in their manoeuvring.
As they approached within a few hundred yards of the bridge the heroes joined up with the other party of refugees. They proved to be a Seniiran war crew cut off when the river and sea started to burn and their ship sank in the maelstrom. Their leader, Belinus mac Gadeon had brought his men along the river hoping to find a crossing. As greetings were exchanged, the worst fears of the heroes became evident. From a nearby copse, two large, and above all, angry ogres burst through the underbrush, knocking aside the smaller trees and trampling bushes underfoot.
Reacting quickly, the elven archers and the archers and marines of the Seniiran crew fired all they had at the bellowing brutes. After two volleys one monster had fallen but the other crashed across the open ground thundering a warning. Events were taking a decided turn for the worse. An enormously ugly black moon goblin rose from the undergrowth of the opposite copse of trees. Looking straight at the gathered heroes he gave some signal with his colossal halberd and summoned, seemingly from nowhere, a band of goblin archers with cruel looking bows and a howling, slavering pack of wolf riders. Taking up positions the goblins exchanged a volley with elven archers, causing the more nervous of them to run away! The audacity of the goblins proved ill-advised though, as having revealed themselves and the Seniirans having picked of the remaining ogre, a hail of arrows descended on the copse, picking off several of the goblins and forcing many of the others deeper into the cover of the trees. Meanwhile the sneakier wolf riders had headed round some cover in a flanking manoeuvre, which was driving the heroes towards cover.
As the wolf riders broke towards the heroes position, Kronin yelled a war-cry and stepped into the path of the oncoming raiders. At the same time the ugly goblin war-chief had been driven into a rampage by the hail of arrows and charged out across the open ground towards the source of his anger, the elves and marines in the heroes' group. Even though several arrows pierced his armour he still came on in a rage and it took several of the heroes including the berserker Throrin to finally bring him down. Kronin's brave leap into the fray had done him little good as he was cut down by the lead wolf riders and it took a concerted effort from Guire's depleted and overstretched force to hold them at bay, while suffering under the arrows of the still advancing skeleton archers.
Things were looking decidedly grim when the crude notes of a war horn echoed out across the valley and as suddenly as they had appeared the remaining goblins disappeared back into the woods and copses they had originally emerged from. The skeletons also seemed less animated and they marched off southward under the command of whatever fell force animated them. The heroes breathed a sigh of relief and took stock. The bridge was easily within reach but darkness was falling, which could only serve the evil forces arrayed against them, so setting a careful watch they camped in the nearby woods. The morning would hopefully bring some better opportunity or at least a concerted dash for the bridge and the relative safety of the far bank.