90 posts. Alias of Camris.
Sara nodded at Katreza encouragingly.
"Go on. I've asked around; I think these outsiders are the real deal." She said.
"This is a place of business." She said sternly as she shut the door behind you and ushered you into a back room filled with tools and a cot.
There is an elderly half-orc there.
"Now Katreza, I really think you ought to talk to these people." She said, nodding at him.
Sara spots you and stops hammering.
Raising her spalling mask, she frowns.
"You guys again. What do you need?" She said suspiciously.
Irabeth nodded at Thrall.
"Despite the name, it’s not a sword.
"It’s a battle standard—an artifact once used by Iomedae herself during the Shining Crusade.
"The church loaned the banner to the First Mendevian Crusade and allowed it to hang in Drezen, where it bolstered crusader morale and, perhaps more importantly, warded against demonic attacks, deceptions, and even teleportation.
"It is located somewhere inside Citadel Drezen.
"At one point, it was held in a special vault, but our divinations have only revealed that the banner remains in the Citadel somewhere.
"Alas, the same wards that protect it against demons also hamper divination attempts—but we know it’s still in there, likely kept as a trophy.”
"Fear and cowardice. Most of the demon troops were taken south by their overlord Aponivicius. She is very well known to torture and kill messengers that bring her bad news. So, the local commander will dither and delay and fight on in desperate hope his boss doesn't find out what a mess he's allowed to happen on his watch.
"But this only buys us time. Sooner or later, one of them will panic and flee to warn the Overlord. Finding and activating the Sword of Valor is the only sure protection from that."
General Irabeth addressed Taedric's concerns.
"This is a dwarven built citadel. There are none built in as far as we know. We chose the route we did because it's on the far side of the Citadel from the inner wall fighting, and there is some weather damage that may allow access even if all the doors are sealed, and there are the fewest guards there.
"Best we could arrange in the time frame we have." She said.
"Anevia has taken a contingent of Mongrelmen, infiltrated one of the curtain towers quietly, and are now posing as the enemies troops there. You can gain access to the citadel that way when you have prepared here."
She looked at you seriously.
"If you have any questions, better get them out now."
The general looked at Kelden with compassion before she returned to her stern commander face.
"Hm. For your next mission, we are sending you into the citadel itself.
"As it stands, the tactical situation is a stalemate; which favors the enemy. Sooner or later, someone on the inside will overcome their fear of being killed by their demon overlord to call for help, and a whole demon corps will teleport overhead to fall on us like a lightning storm with teeth and claws.
"And so your first priority is to recover the Sword of Valor and slam that door in their demonic faces.
"Second, you are to find the enemy leadership and capture or kill them. At this point I'm alright with either one.
"Third, you are to find and rescue Kyra Greenstar from whatever the enemy has in store for her." She stated.
She took a breath and hesitated.
"The riftwardens have been therorizing. Based on the enemy's plans concerning the wardstones, they think that if they had one of you to experiment with, they might be able to, by destroying the holy energies within Kyra, to destroy all of you as well. Wherever you are. At the same time."
She looked at you all seriously.
"We would all like that to not happen."
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General Irabeth drew you all back to the command tent.
"Now to the meat of the situation." She said, drawing out a military map of Citadel Drezen and its grounds surrounded by a massive and tower studded curtain wall.
"We managed to force entry through the south gates and into the grounds there, but the Beast's attack scattered our reserves and stalled our advance.
"On top of THAT" She said, pointing to several markings in the grounds. "The enemy troopers have thrown up significant defensive works, and our probes in force have been repulsed by unusually intelligent countermoves by the demons and their cultist allies."
She paused, then pointed at a northwest section of the curtain wall.
"We decided to send Company C around to the northwest section there, where the fortress works are more eroded, there to force entry there and flank the demon forces. But..." She said, then paused.
"But they were ambushed. Shadows they said, came alive and attacked. Accompanied by an unnatural terror. They said... Well, I'm not sure if you were ever informed that Lady Kyra had been attached to Company C for this operation. They said... she destroyed several, but she was overpowered and taken. Borne away through the air to the Citadel by vampires." She said gravely.
In the command tent, the General greeted you all still scarred and soot stained from battle.
"First I want to thank you for taking down the Beast of Drezen. Despite our reserves being scattered, it would have been many times worse without your effort.
"Unfortunately, one of the casualties was Sir Arthas. Apparently the breath of the creature had properties which has debilitated him to the point he is currently comatose. We are treating him, but we have no way to know when, or if, he will recover.
"This leaves us with the problem of the sword Radiance. A lot of the soldiers revere the Sword of Yaniel as an artifact of a more noble past, and as long as the sword shines they cannot be truly defeated. Without Arthas, the sword lies dark. I need to know if one of the heroes of Kenabres can take up the sword and make it shine again." She stated, looking at you all seriously.
"Oh, and does the name 'Melira' sound familiar at all?"
She thought for a moment, then shrugged.
"Nope; sorry. Should it?"
"Is your practice to accept and record payment in advance, in installments during smithing, or upon completion?
Sara shrugged. "Depends on the client. But Rodrik had the usual deal; half down, half on completion."
"It may be a sore subject, but do you know where the clumsy oaf might be?"
Sara rolled her eyes in exasperation.
"Gods only know. They're apprentices! Young and dumb and lazy... Half the time, when they find out just how much work is involved, they just up and leave without notice. Probably what happened with Urnsul."
Sara put on a pair of glasses and peered at the receipt closely.
"Hunh. Sure looks like one of mine. Gimme a sec." She said.
Going to a cabinet, she pulls out a drawer filled with papers and folders. She sorted through them carefully until she found the one she wanted.
Looking at it, she nodded.
"Hey yeah. Rodrik came in to place an order with us... it'll be ten days ago now. Commissioned a new blade like it said there. Hm... I did the preliminary work on the knife, then I handed it off to one of my apprentices. I assume she finished the blade.
“I guess it doesn’t matter so much anymore,” she said, “but I wonder where it went—it must be around here somewhere.” She went back into the forge area and looked around, uncovering unfinished projects, sorting through racks, bins and boxes of all sorts.
After a few minutes searching for the knife, Sara came back empty-handed. “I’ll bet that clumsy oaf Urnsul put it somewhere before she up and quit the other day; it’s hard to get good help. I’ll let you know if I find the blade.”
"Yeah, I heard. Damn shame that. A fine poet... Wait." She said, turning suspicious eyes on you.
"Why are you lot investigating anyway? I heard it was a suicide!"
Diplomacy, Bluff and/or Intimidation checks please along with your response.
She finished off the basic shape of what looks like a greataxe head and quenched it. Setting it aside, she took her goggles off and plunged her head in a bucket of water.
Dripping slightly, she entered the lounge and grabbed a bottle of ale and turned her piercing gaze in your direction.
"So what's so all fired important?" She asked.
The woman paused her hammering as you enter the forge area.
Pulling down her goggles she glares in your general direction.
"Hey! I'm BUSY back here! Go back to the lounge and I'll get to you when I'm done here!" She bellowed louder than is strictly necessary, gesturing emphatically with her hammer.
After hearing your reports, General Irabeth nodded.
"Well done! With the bridge captured, we have launched an attack against the gate barricade. Once we capture it, we will be able to enter the inner grounds of the fortress, threatening Drezen itself.
The enemy will have to come out and contend with us or face a siege unfavorable to them. Our queen has pulled the bulk of the enemy forces south where she will hold them as long as she can, and the enemy leadership will not be eager to show their failure by requesting reinforcements.
"Your next task," She said, pulling out another map. "Is to infiltrate the fortress on the Northeast side, here, where there is a break in the fortress walls that is under repair. While we battle the enemy at the gates and on the inner courtyard, you will slip in and destroy the enemy leadership."
Here she paused, looking into the distance.
"Mind you, I would love to lay hands on that dwarf who betrayed the citadel in the first place, Staunton Vhane, but I will understand if he makes it impossible."
She smiled at you.
"In short, well done! We need this done quickly, but I feel you probably need to rest first. If you would like to clean up first, Lord Sir Sosiel has a spell which should reduce the amount of sleep needed to two hours. Rest well!" She said, before settling her helm on her head and striding out to lead the engagement.
Do you accept the sleep aid offered by Lord Sir Sosiel?
General Irabeth sees that you are tired, but clearly feels that you must strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. She orders the rest of her command team that whatever materials that could be found to aid your mission be found and delivered to you.
Sir Arthas wrote:
”This fire may be a distraction for other moves or acts. We can’t let down our vigilance.”
General Irabeth got a faraway look in her eyes as if she had gotten an idea.
"Sir Arthas, you are right about the distraction. But that will work both ways. The enemy sentries will be glare blinded as the fire casts deep shadows. I think you and your fellow wielders of the holy power take this opportunity and take that bridge under its cover!"
General Irabeth got orders out for local units to start fighting the fires and getting what supplies they could out of the warehouse.
She then turned to Grey.
"My Lord Grey" she gritted out, her steely gaze pinning him to the ground. "What were you doing with that rope, and where is Lady Nurah?"
"I WILL HAVE ORDER!" Thundered General Irabeth, jumping to her feet. Immediately the command staff stopped yelping and cringed back.
She leveled a steely glance at Sir Arthas.
"These are grave charges Sir Arthas. I hope and trust they prove to be founded on something more than a gut feeling; and just as much I hope they prove baseless. Lady Nurah came well recommended by Queen Galfrey herself." she said, looking ghastly as she said it.
"Nevertheless, we must have answers here. Go forth and bring Lady Nurah back here for..." She started saying before being cut off.
General Irabeth looked troubled.
"Milord Arthas, this is unseemly behavior..." She began, and others in the background started muttering in disapproving tones.
OVERVIEW OF DREZEN
"As you can see, we have beaten and destroyed all opposition outside the curtain walls of the Citadel itself.
"Company A is anchored at Paradise hill, where the extensive defensive works make it currently impregnable on the East side.
"Company C, after your victory in the Cemetary, has Crossed the Ahari to the West and is currenly encamped on the plains to the Northwest.
"Company B is currenly camped just outside, here." She said pointing. "Just to the south of the main bridge spanning the Ahari riverbed and pointing straight to the gates of the Citadel."
"We need that bridge, and we need it intact if we are to avoid ruinous casualties in taking back the Citadel of Drezen.
"Our problem is that there are guards in protected revetments on the bridge itself.
"Worse, there are evil looking herdbeasts chained to the undersupports of the bridge, and our scouts are certain the undersupports have been weakened also.
"So. One startling bang, one arrow to the rump, or any spell that panics the beasts, and off they go dragging the supports with them. Down goes the bridge.
"We can't just rush the bridge; they'll just collapse it.
"What we need is a small unit, stealthy enough to get in close, intelligent enough to figure out how to disable this trap, and powerful enough to deal with enemy forces present."
She stood back and looked at you.
"My lords and ladies, I believe you are called to duty here."
She sniffed, frowning.
"That is, after you have cleaned up and rested. Tomorrow is better I think; they won't be running off anytime soon."
Irabeth, and all the other army personnel present, drop to their knees and bow their heads before standing up again.
"We stand ready serve!" She declaimed; then seemed to relax a bit.
"It is good you've returned at this time, and victorious over the undead! Excellent!" She enthused.
She pointed to a map on the table of an overview of the Citadel of Drezen and town surrounding it.
Blinking, Irabeth seemed to come to herself.
She drew herself ramrod straight and slammed a salute to you all so sharply it hurt just to see it.
"HOLY HEROES OF TERENDELEV'S SCALE, I AM SIR IRABETH TIRABADE! I HAVE THE HONOR OF COMMANDING THE ARMY OF THE KNIGHTS OF KENABRES!" She declaimed, then snapped back to parade rest. "On behalf of the Army, I greet you in the name of Iomedae and are honored to be at your command.
"Let me introduce our command staff." She said, then started to point to other people in the command tent.
"Report." Growled Irabeth before looking up from studying tactical maps with unit tokens on them. Those of you seeing her for the first time note that she is a strongly built half-orc woman in shining plate armor.
Doing a double take, she blinked in startlement.
"And... I see a number of new faces." She said, curious as to the change. Her glance seemed to linger on Thrall longer than others.
Commander Irabeth nodded sharply.
"By the time you reach the graveyard you'll have thirty minutes. Take whatever horses you need. You need to go NOW." She barked.
Commander Irabeth looks particularly tense as you sweep in.
"I apologize for yanking you out of the battle, but this matter is critical and you are the only force of the right size and power to handle it."
She looked over at Aravashniel and nodded.
Irabeth grinned toothily at Nurah.
"Well then, I suppose that I will apologize to Lord Carilain and go with his plan." She said thoughtfully, leaning back on the cot.
Irabeth looked aside at Carilain.
"Mmm. No, I believe you give the Paradise Hill commander too much credit Master Carilain.
"Aside from the fact that an army of paladins coming out of nowhere would give even a demon prince pause; there are intense rivalries between demonic commanders. For them to come 'oh, too late' to a battle, or suddenly retreat, or even turn their army around and into a rivals is nothing to them. Even if it costs them the battle!
"No, I would lay good money that we were simply doing his dirty work for him."
Irabeth listened closely to Arthas' proposal.
"Yes, yes. You have the right of it Sir Arthas; two, perhaps three birds with one stone! I will give the order." She said, nodding.
Going back to the command tent, where the rest of the team was still debating as to what to do, Irabeth rapped sharply for attention.
Commander Irabeth glanced over to Carilain.
"sir Carilain, you had some thoughts about this earlier?"
In the command tent Commander Irabeth is exultant.
"The operation was a brilliant success! Two enemy armies destroyed, warehouses with tons of supplies and equpment captured and control of most of Southbank established!
"Now, while we have the initiative, we need to turn our attention to Paradise Hill and the Schir demon army there."
After long minutes studying the maps and other intelligence reports from the scouts, Commander Irabeth raps the table for everyones attention.
"I'm sorry Carilain, but taking the Schir in their redoubts will take everything we have. We can't leave any blocking force behind us to stop enemy reinforcements from the South Bank.
"What I propose instead is to have Company B and C charge down the main road through the South Bank and overrun the enemy units there. Company A will act as reserve and blocker in case I'm wrong and the Schir DO come out of their holes to attack. But they will be much more vulnerable comeing out here to us, especially across that very defendable bridge.
"After we eliminate the South Bank forces we can turn our full attention on the Schir."
She turned to you.
"That said, will you join the attack, or hold back here at the command tent as a reserve?"
”The commander of siege, Aaron Kir, how well do you know him, General?”
"I'm afraid I don't know him well..." Said Irabeth, shaking her head. "He is one of the handpicked staff chosen and sent up here by the queen, and as such I would consider him above reproach.
"As for one who knows him well, you should speak with Lord Sosiel, the Battalion Chaplain. He and Aaron have been best friends since well before I knew them."
Has it seemed like the enemy has been waiting for you along your path? Like they are one step ahead of you at all times?"
Irabeth frowned in thought.
"I dislike your accusations intensely My Lord Arthas."
She gritted out. "Every one of our soldiers is a Paladin in good standing, personally selected by the Queen!"
She paused, looking intensely at the ground as she gathered herself together.
"However... I mislike a number of things that happened along the road. The enemy taking the ford ahead of our arrival, the enemy garrison at the valley already in formation when we charged forth... I don't like the coincidence.
"And... not everyone here is a Paladin."
"If... there is an enemy mole and a plot to stop us, i bet it would be an officer, or someone close to an officer. There is too much chance that on of the rank and file soldiers wouldnt have access to anything useful, or even have enough advance knowledge to be of use. The question is, what do you we do about it?"
Irabeth thought deeply.
"I think that if there is, there must be only one or two. All the betrayals, if that is what they were, only gave the enemy minutes; maybe an hour warning at best.
"Also, he must not have been aware of our strategic goal, or the city would still be packed full of demons. The Queen's strategic deception must have succeeded.
"I can only ask that for now you keep aware of what you say around the other staffers, and keep alert for anything that has a bearing on our suspicions.
"Perhaps after we get the scouting reports back we can think of something more."
At this point the pointer in Irabeth's hand snapped under the increased pressure of her hand.
After a heavy moment, she continued.
"And nobody knew. For decades afterward he operated against us. It was only when I caught him sabotaging the Kite's defenses that we understood how deeply he had betrayed the Crusade.
"Did you know, I almost had him? We fought a running battle up the stairway to the parapets. When reinforcements arrived... he shattered my legs and flew off on a giant bee, if you can believe it." She quirked a grin.
"I would dearly love to feed him to the Inquisition, to find out if there are any other traitors amongst us, his contacts and overseers...
"But he is a deadly opponent, and far smarter than he looks. Do not allow him any more victories.
"If you end up having to kill him, I will get over my disappointment."
"In the meantime, let's review the background of Drezen, the terrain where we'll be fighting."
She has several old maps pinned to boards erected and points out various features of the fortress and town.
OVERVIEW OF DREZEN
.Founded in 4628 ar by the crusaders to establish a lasting foothold in demon-controlled territory, the warhardened city of Drezen was engineered by talented dwarven crusaders.
.These dwarves carved the central citadel from a massive, granite plateau, using a style reminiscent of their ancient Sky Citadels, but the city fell before many upper stories or lower levels could be added.
.As work on Citadel Drezen commenced, greater numbers of stonemasons and architects toiled on the surrounding lands, and it didn’t take long before the city could house tens of thousands of crusaders and the many artisans, laborers, and other supporters of the war effort.
.River traffic and supply lines from Mendev continued to bring a steady influx of soldiers, even as two massive cemeteries were established to bury those they replaced.
.Unfortunately, Citadel Drezen fell to treachery in 4638, when an eager young dwarven paladin named Staunton Vhane removed the city’s greatest defense, the Sword of Valor, from its walls. Without it, the citadel was subjected to a blitz of cascading demon summonings from within it's very walls...
As you all start talking about what to do, Knight Commander Irabeth bangs on the table.
What we're going to do is camp back here out of sight while our scouts earn their pay." She said, then nodded to Anevia.
Anevia blew her a kiss, then darted out the entrance flap.
Irabeth sighed. "We'll give them a day to get in and find out where the enemy is, then we can make plans. If the Queen is successful down south, the bulk of the demons here will have been called away."
General Irabeth listens to Thetin's report and nods.
"Forwarned, we should have the advantage at the Keeper's Canyon.
"And with any luck we stopped any word of our attack here from reaching the enemy there."
General Irabeth turned to you.
"Alright, I think we're alright now.
"I want you all to enter the fortress and get me that enemy commander! I don't care how you do it, but I want him ALIVE! Move out!" She ordered, pointing to the fort and saluting.
Irabeth frowned and looked to the distant horizon.
"I'm sorry Milord Horgus. We are barely a day into our march and lingering here greatly increases our chances of being spotted by enemy creatures, no matter how much of a distraction the Queen is down south." She mused aloud.
Turning, she strode to her horse again and mounted.
"Everyone saddle up!" She roared. "We will continue on immediately!"
Coming up to the bluff overlooking Vala's Gift, Irabeth sat in silence for a minute.
"Company A! Follow the road North and set up a blocking position!
"Company B! Search for survivors! And/or enemies!
"Company C! Rearguard for the moment." She barked out.
From her gestures, she included you all in the 'look for survivors' group.
Roll Perception and/or Survival (Track) checks.
Irabeth smiled and nodded at Thetin.
"Of course. You didn't need to ask; I will show you whatever I can. "I hope you understand that I have had no war college training, I've only ever risen to a Company officer before Kenabres...
"Anyway, this flag rank stuff is fairly new to me also." She said uncomfortably, adjusting the tilt of her epaulet.
"Tell me, if you have no ambition to command a Company, could you act as a fast reserve force? I think you and your companions are best suited for occasions when one of the Companies gets ambushed, or a powerful demon teleports past the front lines to attack from behind, or right on top of us."
"Only got him out alive..." Carilain whispers to Irabeth. "He thinks we are just rabble, or some such."
Irabeth raised an eyebrow at Carilain's words.
"Ah, yes. What exactly was it that passed between you in the depths of the earth?
She asked curiously.
Shockingly, Irabeth knelt and bowed her head to you.
"Her Majesty, Galfrey the First, Queen of Mendev." She intoned.
The queen herself seemed staggered for a moment at your appearance, but recovered and gestured to the table. She and Irabeth glanced at each other significantly.
Irabeth stood stock still, out of stubbornness if nothing else. But gradually she melted and accepted the sword from Kankai back into her arms. She just bowed her head and nodded acceptance.
Irabeth is shocked when Kankai pressed her sword into her hands, and renamed Dawn's Shield.
Tears filled her eyes as she hugged it to her chest.
"This sword... It was my fathers, did you know?" She said, looking down on it.
"I had sold it. I had no other way to afford the... gift I had to give to Anevia. So I sold it. And to the wrong person too, as you found in the Citadel."
She took Kankai's hand and thrust the sword back into them.
"But I cannot accept it back now. I sold it, and can have no further claim on it.
"But you, you who recaptured it back from the enemy who would have destroyed or corrupted it? It is you that the sword should go with. You are a sword master and have already put it to good use. I think you were destined for each other. And I suspect you’ll NEED it more than I at this point.”
"You did it! You did it!" Irabeth crowed as the soldiers crowded around you, pounding your backs and shaking your hands.
"Come outside and see!" She exclaimed.
You hear the pounding of footsteps up the stairway, and you see Commander Irabeth charge into the Wardstone Chamber, followed by a dozen soldiers.
"Are you all..." She started, but stopped as they all looked at you with jaws agape.