Your adventure begins under the porch of the Iadenveigh town hall, sheltering from one of a irregular rain storms that sweeps over Southern Numeria at this time of year. The rain rustles on the thatch over your heads. The six of you have arrived over the past hour and now wait to be told exactly what it is you've been hired to do.
It doesn't matter if you're a newcomer to Iadenveigh or were born and raised in the rustic town, you can see the town is in a bad way. You look out over a roughly cobbled square hemmed in by low thatched houses of well cut stone. At the centre of the sqaure a cart piled high with barrels and sacks waits. The men that load it move wearily, more wearily than just the rain could account for. They're loading food they should really be eating onto that wagon, ready to be hauled south to the markets of the River Kingdoms. As they work the driver of the wagon counts out gold pieces to a pair of halflings in dark red leather armour, it's metal trim gleaming in the rain. It's the uniform of Huron's Flameslingers – the only thing keeping this town alive.
They're certainly worth their fee. Over the rooftops on the far side of the sqaure you can just about make out through the shroud of rain a large shape rising into the sky. The dozen or so halfling battle-wizards use a magic carpet to patrol the river to the east, blasting down the packs of undead monstrosities that surge out of the ruined farmland to the east every few hours. The work round the clock to hold back the swelling tide of zombies, and for now they're almost succeeding. Almost. You can hear from the other side of town a church bell ringing to mark the end of a funeral. Every week or so the mages aren't quite quick enough and a pack slips though, and then deaths happen. Some die in their doorway of their home with an axe in hand and a prayer to Eristal on their lips, some are dragged down as they run hopelessly for the town's lights, but what matters is those church bells are never silent for more than ten days. Still, if it wasn't for the Flameslingers the streets before you would be crawling with undead. That's why the two halflings are walking away with a pouch of gold and the farmers who loaded the goods are leaving with aching backs.
The rain seems to be letting up slightly when the heavy door behind you opens, showing a well lit room beyond. A rough looking Kellid man – as if there are any other kind – stands in the doorway. He's dressed like he's just come in from the forest and intends to go back as soon as the meeting is done.
"Good, you're all here. Come in, let's make this quick."
As you file into the pleasantly dry hall he nods to two of the assembled mercenaries
"Well met Damrag. I'm glad we've got one lad going out there we can count on. You too, Obadiah. I...guess you know better than I if you're ready for this"
He glances at the bell tower as it falls silent. Then, he closes the hall door. There's a long table set out in the hall, though you're disappointed to see that no food or drink is laid out on it. There are chairs ready for each of you on one side. On the other are two people, a middle aged Varasian woman dress plainly but neatly in the robes of one of Eristal's clerics and an uncharacteristially slight half orc with an unkept black beard and a blacksmith's apron. The kellid man joins them – they're clearly the council, but they've also clearly got work they'd like to be getting on with. The woman speaks first:
"Well met. For those of you who don't know I'm Bordana and this is Kelt and Tarrand"
She gestures to the kellid and the half-orc respectively
"The three of us are the town council. We keep this place running as best we can"
She smiles at Damrag and Obadiah
"Now, to the task we're set to hire you for. It's very simple. Dodge the packs of dead, go to the Choking Tower and drag whatever WRETCH is making these horrors back here to justice."
Rage slips through her calm demeanour slips for a moment. Then she settles down and looks over to Tarrand. The half orc speaks next:
"The village has little to spare for down payment. The rewards stands at twenty thousand gold, but right now we're tied up paying the Flameslingers. If you succeed their work will be done and we'll pay you but we can't afford to let gold walk off into the wilderness never to be seen again"
Kelt grunts in agreement, then takes his turn to speak
"You know and we know this is a risky job. Still, you look like a...mixed bunch. I'm sure you've got plenty of tricks between you. Unless you want to swim over the river you'll be wanting to head for gibbet bridge. We've got it all blocked up – we hold the bridge, the mercs hold the rest of the river. After that, there's half a dozen miles of farmland dotted with houses you can turtle up in. Then it's fourty miles of wasteland until you hit the Ashen Forest. That's all I can give you. You might want to talk to Crux about which ways the dead tend to wander.
Those of you local to Iadenveigh know Gillian Crux is the so-called Tutor-sergeant of the Huron's Flameslinger squad employed by the town. Tarrand has already got up and his heading for the door having muttered something and gotten the ok from Bordana.
"Like I said, we kept it quick. Any of you got any questions?"
Damrang stared at the thick wooden table. He remembers when it was carved as if it was yesterday. He looked at the humans, realizing he was older/almost as old as they were, but still considered a child by his parents. His blond hair and beard were barely grown in, and he had not yet achieved his full girth.
I must do this. I have pledged my service to the town. It will be dangerous. 40 miles. I wonder if we will make it.
Looking around at the group. Nods to Obadiah.
We may die on this mission, but if we succeed the town will be safe. My parents will be safe.
"I will do it of course. Do you have a map we can use? I will be able to find it but if I...if I fall then the others will need a way to complete the mission."
Damrang uncomfortably shifts the gear he is wearing. A longbow and dwarven waraxe complement his shield and scale armor. There is a strange weapon at his belt as well, an ancient looking metal chain with a steel ball attached to it.
Dorn-dergar, a ball and chain that can be used as a close or reach weapon, switching with a move action.
Ephvhailordrinkbitzle Falkonvilland sits on a human sized chair which makes his feet dangle in the air below him, not touching the ground. Fancy that, they're going to pay us as well. That does sound grand. Imagine what Master Bonce would think if he could see me now - hah!
He had happened upon the village while inquisitively looking for these weird undead techno thingybobwhatsits that he had heard of and the locals took him for a mercenary and requested his assistance with their undead problem. With a shrug of his shoulders 'Vhailor' (the name he goes by for those that find his formal Gnomish name a mouthful).
Distracted as he was by a scuff on his staff that needed polishing out, Vhailor missed most of what the big men had to say. To hide his ignorance he put his best thoughtful face on and tugged meaningfully on his wispy beard waiting for one of the others to ask the difficult questions.
A dwarf with reddish-blonde hair leans forward on the table. You can see a dwarven waraxe on his belt and a wooden shield painted dark blue strapped to his back. When he walked to the table you saw that he walks with a bad limp in his left leg.
He growls, "Well met Damrang. A map would be good. Who knows how many of us will make the wood."
To Bordana he replies, "Your terms are acceptable to me, but I'd like to know more about the zombies unless we should simply ask Crux. First, what are you finding works best for killing them. Second, how big are these packs. I should like to know if we have a chance of going through them or whether we need to avoid them at all costs. You'll find that unless I'm in battle, I'm not especially quick so I'd just as soon not get in a footrace with the bastards."
A tall, powerfully built human with slight points to his ears broods in one of the chairs throughout much of the short briefing, a hammer almost larger than he is held casually at his side.
Finally, he speaks.
"I agree. Any additional information you can provide about how to deal effectively with these zombies, the average size of the packs, and a map of the surrounding area, which notes the farm-houses we can use, would be useful."
He then shrugs.
"I understand perfectly why you do not want to pay 'up-front', but could you spare some supplies? I dare say that foraging in the wasteland would be a bad idea."
Salvin sits in a chair near the edge of the table so his bulk and armor don't crowd others. He runs a hand through his closely cut brown hair to sweep the rain onto the floor.
He listens patiently as everyone asks their questions and makes a note of all the answers. A slight frown pulls the corner of his mouth as he hears the responses.
"I do have one question for you," Salvin says as he looks at the council. His voice is calm and clear, quieter than his build would suggest. "What does this town have that these abominations want?"
He waits a moment for the question to sink in.
Salvin already suspects that whoever is behind this carnage either wants something from the town that can only be found here. It is either that or the attacks are somehow personal in nature.
Either way, whoever is behind the attacks knows the village is here and believes the losses suffered so far are worth the cost. That means the attacks will continue. The town council has come to the same conclusion, since it decided to hire mercenaries to deal with the problem.
"These creatures are traveling more than 40 miles to sink in a river or burn with arcane fire just for a chance of breaking through to this town. Surely there are closer villages for them to target. If it's just people they want, then these farmhouses you mention should be ransacked already."
Salvin's voice is neither loud nor angry. He obviously is someone who feels no need to speak up in order to be heard.
"So why do you think these attackers keep coming here?"
Obidiah sits quietly at the table, accepting and giving nods to those proud and familiar faces he has come to know as part of his town, his community. He listens intently, soaking up their words, their advice then rises as the meeting ends.
As he speaks his eyes glisten with tears, but his strong voice does not waver:
”Iadenviegh is mi ‘ome. Ah’ll take nowt for this. What ah do- tis for everyone, tis for mi family. May Deadeye keep their souls, and owrs… free.”
He proudly nods to the town council then turns to join his fellow forlorn hope.
”Damrang. Good t’see you again mi friend.”
As the armoured knight asks his question, Obidiah attempts to answer, his voice clear and straight as an arrow;
Machines need nowt excuse to come 'ere. They exist to break t'common man, to steal our simple life. Infernal cogs and bolts will never replace family, community, t' field... nor t' hunt!" He taps a battered book bearing the mark of Old Deadeye as he speaks.
Kelt is quick to answer the practical questions
"We have the region to the east of here mapped, yes. Beyond the fields though there isn't much to map. That ground between here and the forest is flat and unnaturally barren. The only cover is a string of starfall debris about fifteen miles from the forest edge. I wouldn't be quick to seek cover there, though. The things that infest it are worse than the undead. I'll tell you what. I'll send word to the gibbet bridge guards to give you two weeks trail rations. I'll make sure one of my maps is ready for you there as well."
He then thinks for a moment, his mood visibly darkening
"As for the undead, they're surprisingly predictable - almost like whatever scum-sucker who's building them has a schedule. They come at us in a constant stream with five to seven hours between each pack. The packs vary in size, but they seem to be timed so that the ones that reach the river during nightfall come in greater numbers. In the daylight packs you're looking at six or so. The night-time ones, double or triple that."
He stands up from his chair and starts pacing, clearly having sat down for long enough
"You don't need to worry about winning a footrace with them, dwarf. Nobody can. They're hellishly quick and once they've got sight of you they don't stop chasing. Thing is - and I should know, I've killed a few - they bleed. Whatever magic or..."
"...machinery is keeping them going forces their hearts to beat. You can pierce them with arrows, crush them with hammers, everything works well enough. If you can land a hit, that is. As for why they're here...I haven't had the time to figure it out"
He then stops walking and looks to Bordana. It's obvious she's the real head of the council, despite Kelt being the man of action. She picks up where he leaves off, turning to Salvin
"The farmhouses are abandoned. Those who lived in them either died at the claws of the undead or staying with relatives on this side of the river. I would add, by the way, that the posessions they left behind a NOT free for the taking. Anyway. Numeria is a sparsely populated land. If these things are coming from the Choking Tower - and we're certain they are - Iadenveigh is tied for the closest settlement with Torch, way off to the north east."
She grasps the pendant of Eristal hanging from a long chord around her kneck
"It's no convinience that brings them here, though, I'm sure of it. Furkas Xoud is back. That must be why he built that tower in the first place - to build up forces punish us. Perhaps he was one of the dozens of Technic League fools who were exiled for sending some of their precious machine-men down here for us to wreck. Perhaps he's just keener than most of the League to wipe us out for our beliefs. I don't know. It'll be him at the center of this, though, mark my words. Though Obadiah is right - this town is surrounded by things that would smash it if they had the strength"
Signs of that rage again. You get the distinct impression that for all his bulk and field experience Kelt is the less potent of the two councillers left in the room. Bordana continues:
"There's one thing I'm not certain of though. Where is he getting fourty or more fresh adult corpses from every single day? I doubt even Starfall itself could sustain that sort of attrition for three months on end"
Fascinating - they aren't actually undead... they're mecha peoples... but that's just confusing... Vhailor's brow furrows with the deep thoughts, leading anyone who observes him to take it as though he is filled with concern.
He hops down from his chair, stretching his small frame and smoothing back his tangled brown hair. That starmetal stuff sounds interesting as well... wonder if we'll get a look at it as we go past.
In a highish pitched voice, a stark contrast to the gruff tones that have spoken before "Are they all human corpses then, or are there weirder thingys as well?" pausing "Oh and do they try and poke you with weapons, or just come at you scratchy and bitey?" he asks in honest earnest.
Bordana rises and heads for the door
"You know more than I on the specifics of fighting the monsters Kelt. I'll be in the church if you hirelings need anything else before you depart."
Kelt remains. Since many of you have already stood and he was pacing anyway the meeting has drifted away from the formality of the table. You now simply stand facing each other.
"It's not just the cogs in their heads that're grafted on. Some of them have blades hammered into their flesh as well, and many of them have light armour strapped on. Not all of them are human - half-orc, dwarf and elf bodies all show up occasionally. Most of all, watch out for the buzzing ones. Some of the biggest packs have creatures with more than mere blades fixed to them. They use spikes and discs that spin too fast to see. Machinery that'll cut armour and bone like flesh."
Gregory does his best to keep a neutral expression as the Luddite inclinations of several of the people in the room are revealed.
Hmmm... It seems that I will have to keep quiet about certain topics around some people here... I had heard that they considered technology to be anathema, but really! Can they not see that it is the future? I am sure that if they had the resources of the League behind them, they would already have sorted-out this problem. Still, it will be a useful opportunity to collect data, and hopefully... gather... some unusual technologies.
He then nods to Kelt.
"Thank-you. That would be appreciated."
Once more advice about the undead assailing the town is revealed, he frowns, before adding:
"It sounds like we should help-out with the next wave to attack the bridge in daylight, and then make a run for it, leap-frogging from farm-house to farm-house, before bedding down for the night in the one closest to the wasteland. Hopefully, we will pass the night unmolested, and can then begin the task of trekking across the wastelands."
Who knows, we might even be able to explore some of the starfall debris on the way... anything that could provide us with an advantage would be useful...
The council is right to hate these abominations. This looks like a sturdy group, I have every confidence we can succeed.
Damrang stands with a thump
"I should be able to lead you on that route. My name is Damrang Flintforge and I will do my best to guide you to the tower and back again!"
Spurred by Damrung, Obidiah raises his copy of the Parables of Erastilhigh as he adds:
An' may the Elk-Father guide you stalwart Damrang! Guide us all! Ere's t'a keen hunt for our quarrey and a bountiful harvest of these fell machines!"
He pauses gesturing again to his battered leather bound book:
"The Parables tell us "Never trust a fool". 'Ere in Iadenveigh we have our own wisdom, learned not from t' toil of the fields or hunt, but from digging t'graves of our dead: "NEVER... TRUST A MACHINE""
The fire in the farmer's eyes is plain to see as he preaches to all and none.
"I am Obidiah. A simple farmer who some say has t' voice of Erasil. I too know these lands and folk. My bow and book are yours t' serve."
Wide eyed in wonderment at the stories of man, machine and the walking dead, Vhailor is snapped back into the moment at Obadiah's sermon.
"I'm Ephvhailordrinkbitzle Falkonvilland.... though you can call me Vhailor if you like." smiling an easy genuine smile "My this should be fun"
You find Gillian Crux in the Broken Branch, one of the more costly inns in the town and the de-facto HQ of the Fireslingers. With the town scraping the barrel for funds no other patrons frequent it anymore. Going inside you see a trio of halflings playing darts (they often seem to veer off-target at the last minute - it seems minor magics are part of the game). At the table at the centre of the bar are two more. All are dressed in the trimmed red leather armour of their unit, save one who goes unarmoured but sits next to a mithril breastplate.
He is a strange mixture - his scarred face and close-cut hair belongs on a hard-bitten soldier but his slight phisique is that of an academic. He appears to be talking the younger halfling next to him through a spell, for there are a pair of spellbooks open on the table amongst empty tankards. As soon as you enter he speaks:
"You're Bordana's so-called expedition team, right? If you know what's good for you, go look for work somewhere else"
He seems to realize how he sounds and sighs
"That came out wrong. I don't mean to be harsh, but think about what's happening here. They wanted me to do an assault, I said fourty grand. They try to haggle me down to twenty, but I stick at thirty. So what do they do? They offer the twenty they've put aside to whoever shows up. You're their long shot. You're being sent to die on the off-chance that you'll succeed. I bet they didn't even offer you a down payment."
Damrang shakes his head
"What will you do if we fail and this town cannot pay you anymore? Will you leave, or continue to defend it? These creatures must be stopped, and we will stop them."
Mercenary bastard. He doesn't give a damn about the town or this mission. He's only worried about his own pocket.
Crux was apparently expecting such a response
"Who's to say the choking tower won't run out of corpses before Iadenveigh runs out of coin? We're putting huge numbers of bodies back in the dirt. Plus, maybe if the coffers are looking to run dry the council will suddenly find they could afford fourty grand all along."
He looks Damrang over a bit more closely
"Ah, wait, you're a local. I must sounds like cold hearted scum. Well, any mercenary sounds like cold hearted scum when he's defending your own hearth and home, but that's just how the system works. It's better for us to be here than not be here right? Who else would this place have turned to? All the paladins can't wait to get to the World Wound!"
Salvin smiles a bit at the Worldwound comment. The chance for glory there is undeniable. But there still are questions here to be answered.
"Well met, sir. My name is Salvin, a paladin of Sarenrae." He smiles and offers his hand to shake. "I hope you don't begrudge us some information about what we will face in our mission, even if it does take coin from your purse."
After admiring the mithril breastplate a moment, Vhailor gets on tippy toes and tries to get a look at what's in the spellbook.
"Ha! I guess I should check for more than shiny plate armour before making paladin jokes. It looks like I'll accidently insult every one of you if we keep talking long enough"
He sees Vhailor looking into the spells book and snaps at the halfling trooper
"Keep your cards to your chest private, I'd like to carry on charging for those spells"
The younger halfling grabs the book and sheepishly heads over to join the dart players. He mutters to Vhilor as he goes
"Keep those bug eyes out of where they aren't welcome before you lose one"
Crux either doesn't hear or pretends not to. He shakes the hand Salvin offers, his dexterous fingers lost in the grip of the big paladin.
"That's the thing. I'm not worried you'll take coin from my purse. You hit a daylight pack, probably take it out, push on full of confidence then a night pack with find you. You think you're the first group of ammetures I've seen go to the slaughter? Thing is, with a paladin and at least one local amongst you there's nothing I can say to set you straight. So I might as well tell you a bit"
He unfolds a map he had tucked into the back cover of his spellbook. It shows the region you're about to travel through, along pencil line that presumably mark patrol routes.
"The packs make b-lines from the Choking Tower to random points on the river. To start out with you'll run the risk of running into one no matter where you go. Don't rely on air cover from us, we've got to stick to the patrol schedule like it's the word of the gods to keep catching as many packs as we do. Once you get to the wasteland you'll in theory be able to loop north or south to avoid the line the packs take. They won't deviate to attack you unless you get close - from what we can tell they're given specific buildings to attack when they're relased and if they succeed whatever magic binding them is broken and they revert to whatever passes for instinct amongst the undead. Thing is, by then they're right close to Iadenveigh."
He takes a pencil and taps on the map, pointing to the irregular doted line of wreckage that runs down the length of the wasteland region.
"Anyway. There's one problem with the looping plan. If you spend all that time skirting around the paths taken by the packs you'll be looking at spending the night in the open in the wasteland instead of making the cover of the trees. There are dangerous, dangerous things hiding in the wreckage out there. In short, it's a choice between the devil you know and the devil you don't."
He looks at each of you
"And that's just the walk to GET to your objective. We have no idea what's in that damn tower itself."
Taken aback by the vehement response, Vhailor rocks back on his heels and pouts slightly. Grouchy little man
"What sort of dangerous things? Are they all mecha mish mashes like the dead walky ones?"
Odol grins broadly at Crux and grunts, "All right Crux. So, clearly you think we're already dead. We'll see about that. Maybe you'll be proven right, but maybe we have talents that might not be so obvious. Like Vhailor here, I'd like to know what you've learned about the wreckage outside the paths. And, what about this wreckage near the wood? Have you or any of your men gone there or seen anything on your flyovers?"
Gregory raises an eyebrow at Crux's doom-saying.
What a cheery fellow. Still, I cannot blame him; I would appreciate a group that could herald the end of some steady employment...
"It is true, we were not given a down-payment, but to be honest, even if they had, there is not exactly a lot we could have spent it on out here; I am perfectly happy for them to keep it in their coffers until I need to make a permanent 'withdrawal'."
He then frowns.
"From the sounds of it, although we might be able to handle a 'day pack', one of the night ones could be more than we can handle, so I would prefer to go out of our way to avoid them, if possible. A night in the ruins would be preferable, quite frankly; we might survive that, after all..."
Obadiah nods in the wisdom of the groups questioning as he packs the battered book safely into a waterproof sack, then into his pack. His jaw set as he thinks:
Strange ‘earth fellows this group makes for. Mother used t’say t’at strangers are friends yet t’be made. Father warned t’at strangers feast on your wealth. Wealth gotten by ‘ard labour, toil, grief an’ trouble. Seems both could be right enough 'ere an now.
When he rises he adds to the volley of questions at Crux
” A prudent man foresees danger an’ takes precautions. T’ simpleton goes blindly on and suffers t’ consequences. We are simply being prudent men. T’more we know t’better we can ‘unt these creatures an’ whomever t’y serve.”
Crux seems to have resigned himself to your fate and has decided to help you as best he can.
"There's one long line of wreckage running parallel to the edge of the forest, fifteen or twenty miles into the wasteland. As far as I know it was pieces coming off the silver mount as it made it's final descent. No matter what route you take across the wastes you'll have to pass through it. Now, when we were first hired we did sweep that far out before we had to tighten up our patrol pattern. It look like there are starfall constructs still functional in the wreckage, just hiding like animals. Nothing as big as a gearsman, but clearly constructs nonetheless. They wander around at night, and a couple of times the carpet was shot at."
He thinks for a moment, then looks back to the map
"Actually, perhaps there is a way of you looping round the path of the packs but still avoiding the constructs. There's a particularly big bit of wreckage about...here. A big dome of metal, mostly intact if a bit dented. I heard from the half-orc fellow on the council - Tarrand, that's it - that the lads who first scouted out the Tower holed up in there for the night and didn't get any trouble. What's more, even if they had there's only one hole in the thing so it's as good a spot as any to mount a defence. Shame the same couldn't be said for their farmstead. Should have fled to this side of the river while they could"
He folds the map back up and stows it back in his spellbook
"That's about all the hints I can give. Good luck I guess. It's a shame to see brave men go to waste like this."
Crux's bluff check:1d20 + 14 ⇒ (10) + 14 = 24
Obadiah sense motive (only one who can make the DC):1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17
From what you saw of Crux's map before he put it away you can tell you have three main options. If you set out at the break of dawn you would be able to make the dome before sunset. If you set out now you would be spending the night in one of the abandoned farmhouses and then either travelling straight to the edge of the forest along the zombie's route or going to the dome, spending another night there and then reaching the forest the next day.
Damrang, it's early afternoon. Also, despite you misgivings about Crux you see no reason not to trust him.
Considering all of his options, Gregory turns thoughtful.
"I would vote for spending the night here, assisting with the defense of the bridge if necessary, and then setting-out at the crack of dawn. That way, we can over-night at the dome, and then easily make it to the forest the following day.
I definitely do NOT want to follow the path the zombies normally take. That would be asking for trouble."
"I like the idea of the dome as well, plus would be good to see what these thingys can do by helping out at the bridge today"
The proposed plan seems to offer the least risk for the most benefit, given the limited amount of information. Salvin will nod his head in agreement with everyone's plan. Before he leaves, Salvin will once again offer his hand in friendship to the halfling.
"Thank you for your help. We won't forget your part in this."
Turning to the others, he says, "I'm inclined to call it an early night, once I'm sure we have enough rations and water for the trip there and back."
If needed, Salvin will spend the last of his silver helping to make sure there's enough food and such to go around.
"Well, good luck I guess. Despite what some of you clearly think about mercs, I would like to see you succeed. I just don't rate your chances."
With that Gillian Crux gets up and goes over to join the dart game. It's clear your audience with him is over.
With the general consensus of the party to head to the bridge and get a measure of what you're facing, you follow Obadiah and Damrang to Gibbet Bridge. It's further than you expected, taking the best part of two hours. It's last afternoon by the time you arrive. The 'bridge' is more like a fortress. The people of Iadenveigh do not shy from hard work and have apparently not stopped building fortifications since the attacks began.
Two gates, one after the other, lead onto the bridge. They are bolted shut with massive beams and set into sturdy pallisade walls. A watchtower is built with a clear line of sight onto the bridge itself, and another is partially under construction. There's a hut behind the fortification. When you knock on the door you're greeted by a tired looking man in visibly battered studded leather armour. He looks like he hasn't shaved in weeks. The locals to Iadenveigh recognize him as Sten Jurruck, one of the few clerics in Iadenveigh able to keep a full squad of men in fighting shape.
"Well met Obadiah. Well met Damrang. Kelt said for me to give you this"
He hands you a rolls out map
"Please be quick. We don't let on down in the town, but we're weakening faster than our wall is strengthening. At this rate we'll have to burn the bridge, and then how're we going to refill the granaries once we're out of this mess?"
He opens the door wider and seems to shake himself out of his misery.
"Still, it won't come to that. I've been waiting for old deadeye to call someone to arms. I should have known you two would be among them. And it looks like you've got support from all across the inner sea. That tower is coming down within the week."
He genuinely believes what he's saying. Some would find his faith inspiring. Others would find it desperate.
Leaning close in to Obadiah "Who is this 'deadeye' fellow... I've never heard of him before... is he blind? is that why his eyes are dead?"
As they walk away from the Broken Branch, Odol whispers to Salvin
"You paladins are really a different breed aren't you? That was one of the worst examples of fair face foul heart I can recall, but you're still taking the high road. I'd like nothing better than to show these guys up although I hope they can keep Iadenveigh safe while we find this tower."
Odol continues on with the rest of the group to the bridge. As we listen to the speaker, he takes a long look over the fortifications seeing if he can identify anything that could be improved.
Knowledge(Engineering) to see if there are any potential improvements to the fortifications
1d20 + 5 ⇒ (15) + 5 = 20
Gregory nods to the man.
"We certainly hope we can solve your problem for you. Now, I hate to bring it up, but we were told we could collect two weeks worth of supplies from here before we set out...?"
He pauses briefly, to offer an apologetic smile, before continuing.
"However, before we set out, we thought that it would be a good idea to assist you in the defense of the bridge for the night, and then set out first thing in the morning... That way, we can gain the measure of what we will be up against, and get to a relatively safe location to rest the night on the following day."
While the others prepare for the attack Damrang prepares a likely camp on the "safe" side of the bridge.
"Dunno 'bout you fellows but I think I'll bed down out here for the night. Then if there are any attacks that break through we can assist, and it'll save us 2 hours walk from the town tomorrow. If'n anybody needs something from town before we leave now's the time. Less'n you're plannin' on heading back to town tonight."
Damrang's posture and speech have changed now that he is away from town. Instead of an uptight dwarf on edge he appears to be relaxed and ready for the danger ahead.
After getting a response from Obadiah
Sten feels a tugging on his side and looks down to see an eager gnome beaming up at him "Mr Sten Sir, can I go up there?" pointing towards the watchtower "I've got a crossbow and I can shoot mostly straight ish when I'm aiming"
As they walk away from the Broken Branch, Odol whispers to Salvin
"You paladins are really a different breed aren't you? That was one of the worst examples of fair face foul heart I can recall, but you're still taking the high road. I'd like nothing better than to show these guys up although I hope they can keep Iadenveigh safe while we find this tower."
Savin whispers back to Odol: "I find that a quiet voice and a kind word can prick a man's heart more than any shouted curses. But still, I hope we can keep this town safe as well without any problems. 20,000 gold pieces can cause many problems."
Obadiah grasps Sten's wrist in greeting and smiles warmly;
"Sten. Good to see Deadeye keeps you still old friend."
As he studies the map, the farmer looks down as Vhailor asks his question and smiles proudly.
"Old Deadeye is our god curious one. He keeps us, t'eaches us t' wisdom of t' 'unt, field an community. Some call him Erastil, some Elk Father...
'is teachings an' wisdom are in me fathe...ahem...my battered old book. Should we find a quiet spot i'll let thee read it for a while..."
At Damrang's advice he nods in agreement, and hunkers down with his unlikely companions.
upon hearing Vhailor's request the farmer adds;
"If any o' yer snipers need respite Sten. I'll 'appily spell em for an 'our or so... an I can keep an eye on our little friend 'ere"
Diplomacy (if needed): 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13
Vhailor's eyes nearly bulge out of his sockets when he hears that old deadeye is the father of an Elk. I mean the bleaching is bad enough, but I wonder what went through the mind of this deity such that he decided to lay down with wild animals... I wonder how that even worked.... "I've got a book too" holding up his ramshackle spellbook "Do you want to read mine while I read yours?" he asks in earnest.
Sten looks hopefully at the party
"You know Obadiah, we've got another two nights before we're relieved. The shifts on the gate are getting longer and longer as men...don't make it through the night. If you and your team could buy us a proper night's sleep it could save our lives."
He pauses and looks behind you all. Turning, you all see faint streaks of light shooting from a tiny speak. The Fireslingers are apparently earning their pay to some extent at least
"Some nights nothing gets past Crux's boys, hunter bless 'em. But the foul things from the Tower go for the bridge if they hit the river anywhere within a mile of here. They're too stupid to see that crossing the river is easier than trying to get through us, if only just. So we can do our bit to defend our own town, which I guess is a blessing in a way. Though it doesn't feel like one"
He gives you his best attempt at a winning smile, but it only really shows you how tired he is
"What do you say? Can you manange a shift?"
Guarding the bridge for the night will cause your characters to be fatigued tomorrow (Edit: DC16 fort save negates) as well as denying you access to any spells you use defending it
"I'll not go speakin' for the others Sten but I'll happily spell at least one of your boys tonight."
This might be foolish, I'll need all of my energy for tomorrow. But if these men fail tonight or tomorrow night, what good is destroying the Tower if we come back to a town burned to the ground?