War. War never changes. It brews in the shadows until it overcomes the unwilling with blood and sweat, mud and gore. It devours and ravages. It leaves no stone unturned in its lust for the living. And so war has come to Berwickshire, the elven kin war; and Berwickshire will meet it head on.
Our heroes gather at Boxley-on-Tye on the western edge of the Rowanwood with the rest of the Berwickshire muster gathered at the Thane’s command, to bring the steel of their resolve to bear against the dark elf warlord Ik Harrass and his allies.
The morning dawned over Boxley-on-Tye as the adventurers gathered together around a map of the elven heartland of the Rowanwood, besieged as it was by a force of dark elves, undead and demons. The northern and western edges of the wood teemed with dark elves, the eastern side patrolled by roving bands, the south bordered by the dangers of the Akenwode. With the forces at hand the adventurers assigned the battle plan and under the command of Lady Judith split themselves between the two tasks that hung over the battle – namely the roving bug-like demon and the warlord himself.
Monster Mission – Along the Western Front
Gathered together with Errant Stennet, the adventurers travelled down the western front to hunt the demon. Those that joined the hunt were:
- Ranger Conchobar of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry;
- Lord Ash of Stocktown, Baronet Seabric and Guild Protector Alchemist;
- Mara Brack-on-Hill of the School of Demonolgy; Jurgen Einarson of the Guild of Mages;
- Sir Ectar de Vymont of the Knightly Black Order; Errant George Stennet, Feudal Vassal;
- High Father Robert Eddlemann and High Father Thomas de Vymont of Sidhe; Mother Kate of Vleybor; Sister Isabelle of Tralda;
The adventurers, hearing the clash of battle on the wind, were surprised to find a box lying on the rough track they were using to skirt the battlefield. After Conchobar and Mara had examined the box they could say it was something to be wary of. Refusing to let Mara take it away for further ‘consideration’, High Father Thomas cleansed the box and recoiled as the box opened itself and dark tendrils groped for him before vanishing. They found a group of dark elves picking over the corpses of three elves and came face to face with the first of the demonic allies walking in dark elven skin. Disturbing a resting pack they clove through the demons and advanced on down the path.
It was then that Mara was visited by a demon and the pair had a quiet chat, much to the disgust of her companions. Its message delivered, the demon turned on her and was swiftly put down.
The party came upon a circle guarded by dark elves and strange items, a demonologist inside quietly smug about the great works he was doing for the kin war. After working their way past a number of objects protecting the circle, including Conchobar smashing a skull relic and getting kicked by Kharach after his armour had already been heated several times that day, they wrecked the demonologist’s plans and made off with his bone doo-hickey that Mara identified as important. Whoever held this object would be able to command the demons on the battlefield, and it was now in adventurers’ hands – oh the power!
They were approached by a pair of elves with desperate pleas for help. Electing to aid the lone Warden,s Captain and a defenceless village in her fight against the dark elves before chasing after a group of dark elves raiding local supplies, the adventurers hurried on. They found Captain Ecthelion fighting Gothmog and his minions alone and after they had slain his friends and left him unconscious she passed on the latest intelligence, blessed a weapon and slit the dark elf’s throat. This was war, and dark elves were no longer on her ‘do not harm’ list. From out of the bushes one of her wardens approached requesting aid with one of the villagers, but before they could follow him into the village he pitched to the floor and began writhing as a face appeared to form in his skin. A demonic presence pressed on the party as Mother Kate fought to try and save the elf from the monster inside, Mara offering her thoughts on the demon trying to break free, and Ash stabbing at the face that kept reforming in the torn flesh once the armour was ruined. Exasperated Sir Ectar made an attempt to save the soul by denying it to the demon and proceeded to lay the elf to rest – and in the space between life and death he found himself fighting a battle of wills against the demon that wanted the elf for itself. Enraged the Black Knight beat the demon into submission and the soul was released to Kharach’s Halls, with none of his party any the wiser for his heroism. Shrugging off his deed, the knight urged the party on towards the supplies. Ecthelion warned them that a dark elf commander was in the area and had been accompanied by myriad demons, particularly common amongst this flank. The battle raged on around them and the western push by the Korell forces was being ravaged with little to no support from others. Time was not on their side.
As they neared the supplies a great hulking demon appeared out of the woodland flanked by lesser beings. A great insect that had several of the party gasping in horror, the creature came stalking towards them and gestured towards Mara, seemingly wanting a little chat. They spoke for a time, but the rest of Mara’s companions were preparing to launch their attack and when the opportunity arose they took it. The creature tried to fight back and lashed out, wounding several of our heroes but not all as the beast tried to flee. Hounded by Sir Ectar and Ash it was eventually cornered and slain, vanishing upon death like the rest of its kind as its allies surged forward. At this Mara shrieked and dropped to the ground, and her bag began to glow and sizzle with power. Quickly cleansing the bag the priests were able to stop the bony frame in her bag from opening up a new portal, but not before several swarming creatures burst from the bag and attacked the closest adventurer. But these were swiftly slain, the bony frame crumbling into dust and the dark elf commander came onto the scene. Ordering his forces to the fight he seemed certain of victory but soon only the adventurers remained standing and limped back to the safety of the camp to report on their doings.
The demon was dead, and it seemed whatever control on their demonic allies that the dark elves had was crumbling as they turned on the forces around them and then vanished – leaving behind numerous Korell dead and wounded.
Player Mission – The Keen Edge of the Blade
With a group heading out after the demon, a second group joined the Vortigen advance from the north west combined with another push from the north-west-by-north by the Berwick-Farron men. With the intent of breaking past the front line and heading deep into the spike of dark elves entering the realm of the Rowanwood, the adventurers hoped to find and kill the warlord to disrupt the leadership of the war. These foolhardy adventurers were:
- Venn and Finn of the Scouts Guild;
- Red Kent the Guard;
- Hector Price of the Guild of Physicians;
- Maximillian Thorne of the School of Necromancy;
- Lady Judith Tirel, Feudal Vassal;
- Father of Kharach;
Fighting through the lines was a grind, encountering wave after wave of dark elves until they were no longer sure they had the will to continue on. With the scouts armed with bows, Judith and Kent formed the front line of their skirmish order and braced themselves against the brunt of the dark elven tide.They found a place where a bond with the Utterdark had been formed, and a ring of death was spreading from this pinprick. As the trees withered and died the adventurers were forced to admit they were not equipped to deal with this strangeness and instead had to press on. They caught and dismissed an undead crow carrying a message which Judith took to deliver to more senior officials within the adventurers, with stern instructions to her companions that this information had to make it off the battlefield.
They came upon a forward triage camp run by an overburdened and desperate physician where men and women of the Berwick-Farron muster lay dying with no hope of survival. As Hector tried to assist in tending to the wounds, Judith and the others did what they could to ease the suffering of those around them. After Father laid the soul of a man badly wounded in the stomach to rest, Judith sat with a scout of the company who gave her harrowing report to the knight. Concerned that this information must reach the field commander Judith sent the woman back the way the adventurers had come with instructions to meet the Vortigen advance and then head back to Boxley-on-Tye as swiftly as she was able. There was little that could be done and so the adventurers were forced to leave the doctor where he was with more troops on the way and only the hopeful promise of resupplies to lift his spirits.
They were able to rescue a few more of the Berwick-Farron men from attack by dark elves, disrupted some grim ritual using an elf as a sacrifice, and regrouped themselves when a member of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry approached them from out of the woodland with an update. It seems the tide of the battle had turned and some of the dark elves had begun to flee their lines and head to the south and east. Judith urged the Berwickshire Medium to harass the eastern flank to encourage the dark elves to flee southwards, the way into the Akenwode left deliberately open to them. They had not been placed there for a pitched battle though, and if things began to look hairy they were to fall back to somewhere defensible.
More dark elves, another ritual that opened another pinprick of death and decay, and the adventurers were beginning to reach the edge of their endurance. They were enticed into an ambush by the warlord in his cloak, who smashed an orb and vanished as their magical weapons suddenly no longer were and dark elves sprung from their hiding places. An elven warden came staggering towards them describing a great force of dark elves on the rise. Another elf surprised the party and was struck down by accident before being able to speak of the terrible beast that had surprised the retreat of a group of Wardens. As much as great wolf-like monsters were interesting, they had a warlord to kill and so the party trudged their way up the hill towards their goal. No matter the cost, Ik Harrass wasn’t going to see another dawn.
He was waiting for them, clad in his cloak with his forces close at hand. Battle began and everyone rushed at the warlord. Spells flew back and forth and Kent was preparing to run the dark elf through with his sword when an arrow sprouted from this warlord’s temple and he fell to the floor. The irony, to be slain in the end by an elf fighting in the kin war. The rest of his allies were swiftly cut down and the cloak recovered as the adventurers regathered their strength. With little remaining Judith asked her companions one last effort – to look at the beast hunting the elves to make a report, and so they strayed into the woodland. They found the creature and Father and Red Kent slew it where it stood before they limped their way back the way they had come to meet the Vortigen advance. Leaving them to mop up the remaining dark elves they returned to make their report.
With the Newcroft muster pushing back against the undead in the north east the day seemed to have been won, though at a cost. Some 600 souls now lie in and around the woodlands of Berwickshire as the Korell lines were ravaged by the demons on the west, and two companies of the Berwickshire Medium Infantry turned and stood in battle against the wave of dark elves that fled to the east, who now lie amidst the brambles. Three men of the Tirel militia were cut down at the ford as a force of dark elves escaped the Akenwode and fled southwards. It could not be called a bloodless victory, but at least they went down fighting and the Thane recognises the courage of those who fought that day. The men and women involved in the Battle of the Rowanwood wear ribbons that show their courage or the leadership they gave.
And Berwickshire will remember.
Whilst preparing for this day site I might have been listening to a lot of mood music, which may or may not have had an impact on the referee …
I think the following sums up the feeling of the day – enjoy.