The White Star have set up an encampment in the mountains, fortified it within a palisade wall and provisioned it well for the winter. They’ve dug deep, settled in and waited out the worst of the weather, to build up their numbers in the coming spring and launch a fresh offensive against the people of Berwickshire to carve out their own corner of the county. But they know they are vulnerable, their water supply has been cut off and more scouts have been seen in the area than before. They make ready. But Berwickshire is prepared to fight back …
The office of the Thane posted a notice calling on stalwarts of Berwickshire to present themselves at the Norcastle to join in the offensive against the White Star Orc encampment. Forming the knife point of the task, the adventurers would gain access to the camp, sow confusion and remove the leader of the White Star from the fight before opening the camp up to the Muster which had been called.
The adventurers who set upon the task were:
- Pathfinder Wulfric Nolastname, head of the Scouts Guild and Chief Ranger of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Conchobar, Ranger of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Ranger Finn of the Scouts Guild;
- Captain Christo Eadronhart, commander of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry; Seamus O’Malley of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Guild Protector Roger of the Guild of Blacksmiths;
- Master Albrecht Crowe of the School of Enchantment;
- High Father Andre of Rolbor; Mother Brigit Wooller of Crowa; Tungdil Stonehammer of Tralda;
The dwarves of Clan Halfsplitter have been able to secure access to the tunnels of their old home (which they were forced to abandon a good number of years ago due to an upswelling of undead). With the stream that had run into the camp blocked off the tunnels have become accessible again but are overrun with undead and filled with pockets of poisonous fume rising from the old mining tunnels. The dwarves were unconvinced the non-dwarves of the company would make it through to the other side alive, but gave them the information their Elder would let them – warning of the undead and the mine gas, of rock falls and unstable cracks that might just close up without warning, and tunnels that might go to sudden drops without warning and the like, as well as mentioning a possible source of undead in an old tomb known to connect to the tunnel they were to use. Tungdil was taken aside for a chat and came back with a further request – some of the undead were likely to be of dwarven origin, who might have clan coins on their person. If these coins were to be recovered and returned to the Clan, honour would be restored and the Clan would be grateful. They could of course be melted down … but after determining that the coins were just coins and were nothing to do with Fygol, the Goddess of Greed, the party were in agreement that they must be returned to the Clan.
They encountered undead as they entered the tunnel, working their way deep underground and collecting the few coins they found along the way. Entering a passage the party were almost overcome with the smell and learned how to navigate the noxious gas they had been warned about. The process went as thus – good fumes were “potato” … bad fumes were “rat” … (don’t ask). Tungdil went ahead and worked his way through identifying areas of potato amidst the rat, and guided his frailer companions from spot to spot until he had a chain threading through the murk out to the other side. So long as they kept to the spots identified they’d be fine, otherwise they would pitch to the floor writhing as they inhaled the venomous fog.
More undead, and their Roden commanders (and more bandages on the Crowan priestess) until the adventurers came upon a crossing of the tunnels and the sound of rushing water. The tomb was supposed to be across a chasm where an underground watercourse ran, but the footprints coming from another tunnel needed investigating. The party split – Pathfinder Wulfric, Finn, Seamus and Conchobar heading up the other path, whilst Captain Christo, Tungdil, Roger, Albrecht, Brigit and High Father Andre went to go “deal” with whatever was going on in the tomb.
Surprise surprise it was undead, led by a skeletal dwarven figure in a tabard and commanded by a Roden. The party fended off the undead and eventually destroyed them before exploring the tomb in greater depth. Armed with pencil and her notebook Brigit scoured the runes looking for patterns, eventually picking up on what could be a clan name. Some of the broken tombs were marked with a symbol and another set of runes which Tungdil eventually translated as Hearthguard, which seemed to be linked to the skeleton wearing the once fine black tabard. Whatever could they mean? Brigit cleansed the remaining Hearthguard to try and undo whatever evil had been done there and got the feeling that it had made some difference to the surrounding malaise. Together she and High Father Andre cleansed the cavern for good measure and were rewarded with a feeling of peace and the urgency of getting a Kharachian down there!
Before moving on Roger was able to bring down part of the roof to block access to the cavern and thereby rob the Roden of any possible reinforcements from that place. More undead along the way, another bout of mine gas that required a detour down a side passage whilst being attacked by animated undead, before the company entered “Heavy Equipment Storage Area 1” – an ominous sign over the door. Inside was dark and dank, but sweeter smelling than the fumes behind them. From out of the gloom came a metallic clank and a shape lurched out of the darkness at them – an automata! It was beaten to pieces swiftly, and another was instructed to attack all other automata within the tunnel before they realised that Tungdil, being a dwarf, was no threat to the machines. So long as he was in front of them the party could pass by unharmed.
Out the other side of the storage area they encountered more undead with a Roden magic user, a nightmare and a ghast. The ghast was unafraid of the priests, holy water, and froze in place at the touch of Brigit’s ensorcelled blade, so at her firm request the party continued on until she was alone with the vile creature. She ceased to strike it with her blade and withdrew to the company as it slowly regained its senses and stalked after them. Drawing her prayer beads Brigit dismissed it once … twice … and away it fled as Brigit drew on the last of her reserves.
They came at last to the opening of the cavern system where a group of White Star were on patrol. There were some, particularly among the goblins, who were forced to serve the White Star unwillingly and had come up with a “password” to let them know that they were free and safe to leave unharmed. This was tried upon some of the foulspawn encountered – some left, others just fought them. It was between this skirmish and the discovery of the scout and mercenary prisoners that the truth of Wulfric’s “camouflage” dawned on Brigit (he had made some effort to disguise his skin tone to look orc-ish and distributed white star “sashes” amongst some of the Berwickshire Medium) and she was vocally indignant when she was able to corner Wulfric. She was not going to let him go about pretending to be an orcish “friend” before stabbing them up! He eventually agreed to not use that tactic to placate her (and made sure she wasn’t around when he did) and ghosted away into the gloom with Christo in tow to enact “the plan”.
The waiting was the hardest part – the company secreted themselves in the woodland as Wulfric and Christo masqueraded as members of the White Star to get an understanding of numbers, patrols, and the location of their chosen target. At times they were able to whisper and share information, but often they were crouched in the dark watching as shapes loomed out of the misty gloom only to fade as they continued on their patrol. A plan was cobbled together – Conchobar was going to be “offered” to the Goblin leader by Wulfric and Christo to be added to the collection of scouts and mercenaries who were being forced to train the White Star. When suitably distracted, the rest of the group were to spring the trap at the utterance of a phrase and thus their objective would be reached. What could possibly go wrong?
They set off into the darkness with Conchobar protesting at his mistreatment. The others struggling after them looking over their shoulders convinced they were going to be discovered and reawaken the alarm that the two senior members of the Berwickshire Medium had already triggered earlier that night. A pair of goblins looking for “Da Bosses Party” seemed confused at the direction they were heading, which set all nerves on edge, and as they waited for the signal to come the whispering began. It was a long while … and still no call … and Brigit was certain something was wrong. High Father Andre was adamant they must wait for the signal, but at the sound of weapons being drawn and a fight kicking off, Brigit was certain they were in trouble. No, they were to wait for the signal – the party was torn between taking action and holding, until the pair of goblins from earlier came hurrying past giggling at how stupid humans were. At that the companions sprung the “trap” – only to find Wulfric and Conchobar on the floor as the great orc leader advanced on Christo laughing menacingly. Brigit knelt beside Conchobar as the others squared up as a shield wall and tended the wound on his neck, only to find he wouldn’t waken and purging him for good measure. But before she could warn the others as to the poisoned wound the K’gan had drawn his enchanted swiftdeathed sword, after Albrecht had warped his shield and shattered his venomed axehead, and ran one of the party through. Things got bloody quickly and Brigit went to the aid of Christo bearing her Lady’s blessings. The creature made to run her through but she turned the blow aside with praises to her Lady, and they began to harry the Orc. Brigit’s weapon made little difference except to annoy the Orc who would turn to swipe at her and baring its back to Christo and his enchanted weapon. But after a few blows Christo was run through and Brigit was reaching for his sword when High Father Andre rushed the creature and dealt the lethal blow and felled it. Those still standing went to the aid of their fellows, and when everyone was up and walking and the K’gan’s body stripped of its armour and his head claimed as proof of his demise, Tungil lit the alchemical firemaker that had been given to them for this task and began to torch their corner of the camp. The firemaker caused a great deal of smoke and confusion, and whilst many of the company followed the order to slip away, others stayed back to keep an eye on their Dwarven mischief maker. And a good thing they did too, for at the sight of the smoke orcs and goblins came to investigate and found the dwarf apparently alone. As they charged him Brigit called for him to come their way and they planted a shield wall behind him which the orcs broke upon. Taking wounds, Finn and Brigit had to be carried out of the area – Brigit fumbling one handed through her alchemy pouch for her potions – and they quickly patched themselves up and pressed on. Coming upon the tail end of their companions who were ambling towards the gateway they urged haste. More orcs came at them from out of the darkness and the company had to fight their way to the palisade gate where an unlikely ally in the form of a goblin shaman turned on his “comrades” and helped them open the great wooden gates for the Muster.
Now all the had to do was hold that gate …
They fought off waves of orcs and goblins, pushing them back by charging their ranks as the adventurers were joined by men and women of the Berwickshire Muster, who flooded into the camp and set to putting the White Star to the sword. Wulfric led a small company to rescue the imprisoned mercenaries and scouts; Finn, Brigit and Seamus set out to keep him on his feet; Tungdil and Christo fought alongside the Muster; and the others held the gate for reinforcements to pour through and overwhelm the enemy.
What came next was a day of battle – the camp was razed to the ground, the adventurers scattered amongst the warriors and support in the battle lines, the priests set up focus points to bolster the faithful and seven-fearing alike, undead were destroyed from the tunnels through which the adventurers travelled and eventually the small knots of resistance were quelled. Great deeds were done, and not so great deeds, and the wounded were tended to and the dead laid to rest. Eventually the adventurers returned the coins to the Halfsplitters, reported their doings to the aide of Baronet Quinn Dexter, and divided their spoils between themselves. Another point of the Star is quelled, but one more remains.
And once this one is brought low, Berwickshire might be free …