As the tenor of the battle becomes clear, the group formulates a fighting retreat. You back through the door, with Uriel swinging Radiance in broad arcs to keep the demons back. Kelly, Telerin, Merlin, and Aberus back out while Arloric and Uriel hold the demons off. You make it back into the entryway and the demons hiss and cackle as they follow.
As you retreat out the entry, you hear the sound of a horn. Just as Uriel clears the door and a demon lunges after him, a bevy of cold-iron arrows slam into the doorjamb, and a few into the demon. It recoils, hissing, but it lets out a choking laugh as you flee back into the ruins.
You manage to get under cover about 120' away in the partially-ruined building from which you previously staged your attack. As you watch the demons peer and peek out from time to time, driven back by the occasional arrow, and finally they slam the door shut.
A pair of crusaders join you in the ruins. "Good thing we planned your attack and knew you were going in," says one. "That way we kept a lookout and spotted your retreat!" He goes through his quiver with his thumb and forefinger, then hands half a dozen arrows over. "Here - cold iron. They don't seem to like it."
Demoralized, you plan your next move. Return to Defender's Heart for new supplies, perhaps cold iron weapons? Try to find someone who can banish the demons? Figure out another way in?
During the retreat, Uriel takes 5 damage and Arloric takes 6 damage. If you return to Defender's Heart to recuperate, though, you can restore your hit points, rest overnight, and get rid of the Charisma curse.
"We definitely bit off a bit more than we could chew, there." Kelly says, huddling with the rest. "Cold Iron. Lots of demons are weak to that, right? Maybe if I got a new knife... She looks down at her blade, its edge dulled by the fiends' hides.
Aberus nods in agreement. "We were not properly prepared for this. And we were lucky you were here." He grabs his ankh and lets the healing energy flow around him. "We won't get that lucky twice, I think. Are there more cold iron weapons somewhere? A few arrows is a start, but..." He lets his voice trail off.
Channel Energey (healing): 2d6 ⇒ (6, 1) = 7
As they retreat, Red Branch approaches the group, bowing his head when he reaches Arloric. This seems to snap Arloric out of it, and he strokes Red Branch's face.
"I'm glad you're alright. I wouldn't have wanted those rats to sully your flanks."
Red Branch snorts in agreement. Arloric frowns and thinks for a minute.
"It may be best if we parted ways here for now. That crown of antlers you've got is only going to get in the way while laying siege to a fortress."
Red Branch turns his head and seems to have a sad look in his eye.
"Besides, you've probably been hungry. The demons ruined the grass and trees here. You should go out to the fields, where they haven't corrupted things."
Red Branch nuzzles Arloric and Arloric hugs him.
"Hey, it's not forever. Heck, if we find Uncle Crocris when we're done here, you can stay with him. But I'll just hold you back if you try to follow me into a cramped, demon-infested building."
Red Branch gives a knowing nod, and turns away and begins bounding off into the ruins of the city, to make his way to the outskirts. While Arloric smiles and waves after the megaloceros, tears drip from his normal eye.
Bye-bye Red Branch! See you when I qualify for an animal companion again! :(
You return to Defender's Heart to see what you can do to resupply.
Your allies offer you a few notions:
• The crusader camps, outside the north wall of the city, were replete with people who had cold iron weapons. They're a mess, with so many crusaders killed in the attacks, but you might get lucky and find something useful.
• The destroyed grand temple had some paladins who carried cold iron.
• You know that the nobles had bodyguards and they probably spared no expense. While most nobles are less trusting of other humans and not worried about demons (or weren't until the invasion), there might be one or two who have cold iron or even holy weapons.
Or perhaps you can come up with another idea?
Lemme know which avenue you want to explore!
With the remaining time in the day, Arloric finishes laying Prelate Hulrun and the other man worn by the demons to rest in proper graves. It felt right to return them to the earth, reuniting them with the land they had fought so hard to protect in life.
After getting some rest, he rises feeling refreshed and restored. As the rest of the group gathers, he thinks on the options provided.
"I admit this may be a bit selfish, but will any of these locations take us close to Truestone Park? Maybe Crocris lives still, and he could help us if he is!"
Merlin seems to recall a bit of knowledge about the area.
The crusader camps, outside the north wall of the city, were replete with people who had cold iron weapons. They're a mess, with so many crusaders killed in the attacks, but you might get lucky and find something useful.
Moving to where he'd left his things, Uriel removes his grandfather's cold iron bastard sword from his pack, and returns to the others. He holds the blade out, reverently. "My grandfather's blade is cold iron. If any of you would wish to wield it, I will loan it to you. I only ask that you take care of it. It has been in my family for generations, and until we found Radiance, I had carried it since I became a paladin. It may be a blade of no extraordinary magic, but it is special to me nonetheless."
Arloric looks to the others.
"Kelly? Merlin? You are the warriors among us aside from Uriel. I wouldn't be able to wield Uriel's sword effectively."
"I think searching the nobles' homes would be efficient, especially since we have a friend in the area. Should we need to rest and recover, we can seek shelter with Horgus Gwerm."
Kelly looks at the sword being offered. "Oh! Um, thank you. It's just.." she stammers, "It's a bit big for me."
Small size here. I could use it two-handed with a -2, and also without my Dex.
Sounds like you have a plan.
You take the time to grab a brief rest. Azura (the bard) fills you in: the other team headed to Truestone Quarry and hasn't returned yet.
Dark clouds loom to the east, but it looks like they might not make it to the city. Still, every once in a while you hear a small amount of thunder from far away, and see angry lightning flashes in the distance, many miles off.
Kimroth, everyone's favorite one-armed innkeeper, gladly serves you some vegetable soup and black bread, as well as some choice goat - warm food to fill your bellies after the hard fighting.
Then it's off to the noble district to the opulent home of Horgus Gwerm. His estate house is a rambling two-story affair with a minareted tower and a peaked roof, brown wood with white paint on the walls, thick support posts and trellised awnings covered in vines and flowers. When you knock on the door there's a rustling, then you hear a creak from above, and realize that Horgus is peering down from a window in the attic. It seems the large man has learned a bit from his travails: He's careful not to just let anyone in, but to take his opportunities to drive off intruders from a fortified position.
A few moments later you hear the huffing of Horgus making his way down the stairs. He undoes several latches and throws open the main front doors, then hustles you inside quickly.
"It's not safe to leave the doors open," he says as you squeeze in just before he slams them shut and latches them again. "Imps get in... flying and invisible. Worse than mosquitos."
He ushers you to a comfortable sitting room with reclining couches, stuffed chairs, and thick rugs. A feather duster sweeps dust from the mantel of a fireplace by itself - likely under the effects of an unseen servant.
"You have news, I hope?" says the nobleman. "I've been keeping myself busy here. I still have quite a storehouse of supplies available, if we can arrange to get them from the warehouse district to Defender's Heart. In the meantime I am, of course, more than happy to reside in this relative comfort." He gestures about the room. "Even if it is alone. I enjoy the company." He nods to the self-sweeping feather duster.
"So please, bring me up to speed!"
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Merlin approaches Uriel. The youth bows to the Paladin.
May Sarenrae bless my sword arm with martial skill that shall honor your family. I would be honored to I wield your blade.
"We're working to retake the Gray Garrison. The demons there are trying to corrupt a fragment of one of the Wardstones, and we're trying to stop them, but we've hit a snag. We're in need of cold iron weapons to fight the demons guarding it, and we figured some of the guards here might have had some we can use. Maybe even holy ones, given how your neighbors would have spared no expense on their protection."
His countenance falls a little.
"We also found Prelate Hulrun. He's...dead."
"The prelate?" says Horgus, clearly shocked. He mulls about this information for a short time. "Well... I presume you buried him. I am saddened to hear such news, but we must carry on as best we can, until we prevail against the demons or meet the bitter end."
"Of course I will help you with supplies, though most of what I have is mundane - food, tents, bedrolls, materials of that nature. But! You are correct, some of the other nobles have bodyguards with special, magical weapons. Unfortunately they are unlikely to part with them."
Horgus paces back and forth, hands tucked behind his back.
"Hmm. The remaining nobles are unlikely to want to part with such valuable tools. But! I have a thought. You may recall that not far from the Tower of Estrod is a museum called the Hall of Heroes. Mostly it is filled with plaques commemorating the various crusaders who gave their lives in the constant struggle against the Worldwound, but it has a few memorial statues and tombs, as well. As I recall, one of the caretakers was planning to establish a new memorial there with a case that would contain the mace that belonged to Chaplain Olivier, a crusading cleric whose faith was strong enough to drive out many a demon. She received mortal wounds while defending the escape of a group of kidnapped people who were being dragged by demons toward the Wound, but her companions managed to vanquish the demons and return with her mace and the captives. Her body, alas, was too badly damaged to be returned to life, and the journey back here took too long in any case. You might be able to find her enchanted mace in the Hall."
"Otherwise, you may negotiate with the nobles... but I doubt they will let you in to their district. They are quite frightened and don't let anyone in - much as I kept a crossbow trained out the window when I heard you knocking! You would have to offer them something unique to make a trade. They have food and security, after all, and money is useless without something to spend it upon." He shrugs. "I cannot imagine what they would consider of value enough to make such a trade."
"Mundane weapons would actually work, so long as they are made from cold iron. Those would not have to be enchanted."
We actually have stuff we can trade, if necessary. Quite a bit of loot from our time underground which we haven't dealt with yet.
"Yes, just the cold iron," Kelly says in support of Aberus. She looks down mournfully at her trusty oversized kitchen knife. "I couldn't even scratch them, once we met the real demons."
Our group already tried to talk to the nobles! Waste of time!
Arloric gives Merlin a nudge with his elbow.
"Horgus helped us below the city and proved his worth several times over. Don't go badmouthing his folk in front of him."
We are fighting in defense of the city and the denizens therein. Corpses cannot enjoy wealth. she simply state.s
"We should remind them what the demons' victory would mean. Surely they would lend us weapons if we promised to return them and the alternative is horrifying death at the hands of demons."
Out the window, Merlin sees just the gardens of Horgus' estate. Inside of the wall that surrounds his manor grounds, the world seems almost normal. He is struck by the realization that this must be what it's like for the other nobles. Barricated in their own neighborhood, with their noble neighbors for company, to them the outside world may be burning down but it's life as usual inside the walls... as long as their supplies hold out, anyway. Which could be months: Many of the noble estates have their own provisions and secret cellars in case of siege.
Horgus 'hrrms' his throat and says, "I think many of the nobles have deluded themselves into thinking that things will simply return to normal after... some amount of time. They may not be very co-operative if you ask them to engage on the basis of 'charity' or 'mutual protection.' I fear that some of them are quite unreasonable. But you can certainly try. It is a welcome notion, the possibility of getting someone to see the mutual need to defend humanity and our allies against the destruction wrought by the possible end of the world."
Based on Horgus' description it would probably be hard, but not impossible, to convince the nobles who are barricaded in their area to help you 'for free.' You could perhaps mug a few of their guards and steal their weapons - not very 'good', but neither are they. Or you can follow up the rumors on the magic mace in the museum.
"Well. Hrm. A bit of civility first. Please allow me to serve you some tea. Or to have the unseen servants do so, I suppose. At the very least a moment to reflect and soothe your spirits in the midst of this horror."
Horgus gestures and a tea service emerges, floating, from the kitchen, borne up by unseen servants. Steam rises from the kettle and the hefty nobleman pours several cups of tea, which the unseen servants pass to you.
"Once this is all over... Kenabres will be reshaped," he says. "I have no desire to be 'in charge.' But some of the nobles believe that they should be. That the Crusade is a fool's errand, or that they could do better - with their complete lack of any military experience - or that the paladins are 'too strict' or 'not practical.' You may find that the political battles against humans are more taxing than the martial battles against fiends."
Arloric nods and accepts the tea.
"Thank you, Horgus."
He thinks on Horgus' words.
"I'm not sure how far the nobles hope to get in taking leadership from the paladins, considering the Queen IS a paladin herself. If she were to come to Kenabres I think any dissent would quickly fall silent. She's wise and...inspiring."
Some color comes to Arloric's cheeks.
Merlin accepts the offered tea with a nod of gratitude.
Hall of Heroes sounds the more certain choice.
The Oracle then sighs.
I do feel depleted. A good nights rest before venturing off would be welcome.