The Defense of Hammerfast
With Thrumbolg’s plan—and innards, for that manner—cut to shreds, Kord’s Deliverance took an extended rest before hopping into Tantron and teleporting to home. While Gwydion returned to his research, the other used the sending stone to warn Chronos of the Cultist Army, and its possible location. More money was donated to the build fund, and after a few more chores were completed, Kord’s Deliverance hopped back into Tantron, and teleported to Hammerfast.
Once back at the dwarven citadel, they informed the mayor and the captain of the guard of the events that transpired at Thunderspire Mountain, and quickly headed out into the plains to track down the cultist army. With the neutralization of the Transference Portal left the army with only one way out. If the companions were quick enough, they could cut off the army’s retreat.
Contact with Chronos, however, proved the cultists had been quicker. KD learned of a sudden attack in the night that sent the Three Army Triumvirate into a desperate fighting withdrawal. Both armies suffered terrible losses before Chronos’ legions were able to break off combat. The cultist army was all too willing to let them go, as their escape route had been opened up.
Kord’s Deliverance caught up to the remains of the Three Army Triumvirate, spoke briefly to Chronos, then pursued the Cultist Army into the night. They stumbled into an ambush of rearguard snipers. They returned the attack, but the shifty snipers were quite happy to melt into the night, using run-and-hit tactics to keep aware from the party and harry them, reasonably effectively. Nevertheless, the companions continued there pursuit. The path of the army, which had been heading north east, shifted suddenly back due west.
“They’re heading back to Hammerfast,” Slyron surmised, staring out along the trampled ground. “I’ll bet if we followed this, we’ll find them turning back south.”
“You’re sure?” asked Morgan.
Slyron nodded. Asha, gazing far off in the distance, suddenly turned.
“I think he’s right.” She paused, and seemed poised to add another thought. She shook her head after a moment, then added, simply, “Gut feeling.”
“South west we go, then. Try and cut ‘em off on the diagonal.”
Upon reaching the outer gates of Hammerfast, though, they had a sinking feeling that, once again, they weren’t fast enough.
The outer bailey gates, the only way to enter the city of the dwarves, were wide open.
Slyron looked up from the dark pool of rusty red liquid he’d found just inside the entranceway. Without a word he pulled his dagger from his belt. The others similarly went on guard. As they quietly slipped into the outer bailey, more pools of blood could be found. Just no dwarves.
“Betrayal,” murmured Asha tightly.
“Bastard Zehir scum!” said Ghesh. “We must be quick.”
“Uh,” Gwydion cut in nervously, staring up at the large stone block merchant stalls that loomed over them, “I vote for smart. I can see several excellent spots for an—ulp!”
The ambush came from above; an arrow shot from the balcony over top of the dark stall beside them. Slyron was already moving before Gwydion could point. Another arrow whistled in from the opposite balcony to their right and stuck into Ghesh’s breastplate. He swatted it away with a snarl, and the rest of Kord’s Deliverance launched into battle.
Their enemies were frustrating more than deadly. Two snipers backed up by three heavily armored warriors. The first sniper went down quickly, caught between Asha and Slyron. The second proved more mobile. Morgan and Gwyd were able to hold back from the front lines while Slyron dashed from balcony to balcony, launching daggers at the warriors, who swarmed Gheshkan and Asha. The writing was on the wall soon though, as Asha splintered the formation and grouped the enemies away, up on a balcony; Gwydion immediately hit them with a prismatic burst, blinding them. Easy picking for Slyron and Gwydion after that, while the Gheshkan battered the remaining warrior on the ground.
However, the last sniper fled. Slyron chased him while the rest of Kord’s Deliverance mopped up the wounded enemies. The sniper had a good lead on the elf, but Slyron caught up to the sniper just as it reached the opening to a tunnel. The sniper turned, and grinned. The elf hesitated, taken aback by the peculiar reaction. The sniper backed into the passageway, a short sword held out defensively.
Then, Slyron went a little more than ‘just a little too far…”
As he leaped into the tunnel and slashed out at the sniper, he caught a glimpse of movement from behind the zehir cultist. The elf halted, shocked. For a moment he had a hard time comprehending what he was seeing. It was too big, and there were way too many of them all curled together. And, then, something else—
“Morgan!” he managed to scream just before his mind went black.
The panicked yell echoed down through the streets, over the silent stone building, and across the abandoned plaza. The companions whirled at the distant sound. Morgan scowled.
“He’s in trouble, Morgan. We need to help!”
“I know, Ghesh, I know! But I can still say, ‘Bah!’”
Kord’s Deliverance broke into a run to aid their friend. Again.