And so, as the battle for Albridge rages around them, the heroes fight off the flanking attack led by another of the Iron Circle’s dark mages, commanding a horde of one hit wonders and some rather nasty little devils, who had the ability to spit out boiling hot (well, they are hellish, after all) balls of tar.
Again, through a combination of finesse, luck and bull-headed charge first, ask questions later enthusiasm, the heroes emerge victorious from the fight, if somewhat charred.
Around them chaos still ensues. Smoke drifts over the battlefield but cannot conceal the fact that the crisis is far from over for Albridge, as the screams of the wounded and the thuds and cracks of axe on shield reveal the point of decision has yet to be reached.
Before they can get their breath back, it is soon obvious that the field is to be won or lost by the heroes, as yet another wave of attackers falls upon them, only this time led by a huge warrior on horseback – none other than Nazin Redthorn himself, the commander of the Iron Circle detachment sent to subjugate the Harkenwold, escorted by another horde of humans and devils.
Alighting from his mount and only momentarily taking pause when he sees Mordzan as if recognising someone, the burly and heavily armoured human wades into the hoeroes, taking mighty swings at them with a triple headed flail, almost killing Benedict and Bodin with a single swipe and seeming to care little for the strikes he absorbs.
Eventually, however, the battering he is getting from sword and spell from those who remain takes its toll and, exhausted, he returns to his horse, badly wounded, and gallops away, but not before Mordzan lets loose what seems an impossible shot at the fast retreating figure. The mad elf’s arrow pierces Redthorn’s shoulder and for a moment it seems as if he might fall to complete an overwhelming victory, but somehow (by one hit point in game terms) he hangs on to the horse and completes his escape.
Shocked by the failure of their leader’s assault and with the arrows of Eriyel’s elven band falling around them and felling many, the rest of Iron Circle force flee the field, with the defenders of Albridge too exhausted to pursue and finish them off.
The battle is over, Albridge is safe. But the butcher’s bill is high – many lie dead on the barricades – the elves and the lads from Tor’s Hold in particular seem to have suffered many losses. And, as Dar Gremath grimly points out,
‘Albridge may be safe for now, but those Iron Circle bandits have returned to Harken and the Baron’s castle, and as long as they hold the castle and keep Baron Stockmer hostage, we will never be free – especially if they get word out to the south and another army of their scum come marching north – we could not fight another battle as vicious as this one, and we are not enough to break the walls of the castle.
‘What are we to do?’