The Wrathbreakers have uncovered a plan to launch a combined deepfolk and deep cult raid on Estona, and now find themselves caught up in the last stage of that plan: the midnight attack by deepfolk. They were at the docks, expecting to raid a ship that had come to collect one of the deep cult’s spies, but instead found themselves in desperate battle against a deepfolk naval force that they had not been expecting. The roster for today’s session:

  • Bao Tap, human stormcaller
  • Itzel, elven Astrologer
  • Ella, spume dwarf scoundrel
  • Xu, human weaponmaster from Ariaka

The battle began with Xu and Bao Tap standing at the shoreward end of a pier to which the deepfolk boat had docked, Itzel hanging in the air above it, and Ella carefully hidden behind bales of rope and crates on the dock itself. The ogre charged down the pier, carrying a huge spiked club and screaming in rage. It was huge, probably 3m tall, wearing mismatched armour of some kind of lizard’s hide, with a blank, almost featureless face, grey skin and a belt festooned with the shrunken heads of past foes. Xu stepped forward to meet it and they crashed together near the base of the pier, the diminutive weapon master dwarfed by the huge beast. Behind them Bao Tap worked his magic to try and clear the mist that blocked their view of the ships, while Ella fired supporting crossbow bolts from the shadows at the ogre, and Itzel dropped huge balls of fire onto the ship to try and disperse gangs of griggs that were gathering at the gunwale and firing arrows into the battle.

Bao Tap cleared the mist by calling a ferocious onshore wind that howled and raged across the docks and the river, pushing against the griggs’ arrows and making the ship rock and sway at its moorings. With the mist gone, Itzel could clearly see the decks of the ship and, in the light of its burning sails, a little further upstream. The rowing benches were stocked with human figures, all dead, and the ship was clearly a human ship. There were five more ships behind it, the rhythmic sweep of their oars trying to drag them past it and into shore to dock on other piers. Itzel realized that the deepfolk must have very recently raided a port upriver, killed everyone there, and then used their dark magic to animate the corpses for use as rowing machines – all six ships were propelled by zombies! This explained also Ella’s observation that the oars were being swept too well for a human crew. It was a crew of perfectly synchronized undead. The sack-like things hanging off the gunwales of all the ships were dead humans, hung there as decoration or as part of some grim ritual to propel the reanimation magic.

Of course they had no time to interfere with those rituals now, but even the supernatural coordination and strength of zombies met its match against the howling storm Bao Tap had conjured, and the ships looked likely to miss the pier if they were delayed just a little more. As Xu and the ogre battled behind him, and arrows flew all around him in the raging wind, Bao Tap cast his nature’s champion spell and called forth a kraken, lured from the depths of the sea to Estona’s estuary to attack the ship closest to the pier. It emerged from the inky waters of the river to wrap huge tentacles around the bow of the ship, smaller tentacles reaching to pluck deepfolk archers into the river, and a frenzied battle began on the water as desperate deepfolk from all five ships fired arrows and magical bolts into the thing to try and kill it. It tore one ship apart, and the other four had to divert deeper into the channel to get around it, definitively missing their chance to dock with the nearest piers. They would need to drift on to the sea docks to make landing, but at that end of the port the Wrathbreakers knew a single marine ship was patrolling, waiting for any deepfolk ships.

By now Itzel had destroyed the remaining griggs on the docked ship, and Xu and Ella between them had defeated the Ogre, though Xu was injured and Bao Tap exhausted. The four ships managed to kill the kraken, and were drifting away from the pier, and Itzel did not believe that a single marine ship would be able to battle all four attackers. In a desperate act she drifted out over the river and cast her most powerful spell, conjuring a ball of fire so huge and so intense that it exploded across all four ships at once, killing their wizards and most of their archers and warriors, immolating the rowing zombies, and leaving them helpless, scorched and badly injured in the centre of the river. When the marine ship came in for the kill it found an easy target, and the remaining few deepfolks were killed easily on their uncontrolled, burning craft.

Itzel drifted to ground at the docks and they all sat, exhausted and pummeled, watching the remains of the deepfolk ships disappear into the darkness. They could hear bells ringing and general alarms rising in the city as the deepfolk attack on the walls raged, and the batriders dropping into the city began to cause trouble within its walls. They had no idea how many deepfolk were attacking the city, but they decided after a brief rest to go and help with the battle.

After a short pause they left the docks and walked the short distance to the reliquary, hoping to see if any help was needed there. The dock side of the town was quiet, and they reached the reliquary without incident. Here they found a few dead batriders and a small squad of guards ready to defend the shrine, but no trouble. They decided to seek out the leaders of the deepfolk attack and see if they could end the battle early by killing the leadership.

This took them 30 minutes of wandering through the south-western side of the city, following clues to the location of the leadership. They stumbled upon a couple of conflicts where they could help – a group of humans captured by a small force of deepfolk, who they freed with extreme violence, and a squad of soldiers who had been pinned down by a force of goblins accompanied by their own deep sorcerer. They killed these goblins and moved on, bringing some of the guards with them.

Soon after they found the leadership, set up on a raised platform they had commandeered in a square near the westgate. Perhaps the platform had been set up for some ceremony or festival a few days ago, but abandoned during the assault, for it was definitely not deepfolk work. Two squads of goblin raiders stood guard under the platform, and a flight of rickety wooden steps led up to the platform itself, on which stood an orc champion, a goblin leader and a goblin witch doctor stood, watching a distant battle and flanked by a squad of grigg archers.

They gave Ella a little time to sneak closer and take cover behind a stall on the edge of the square, and then attacked. Xu and Bao Tap ran forward as Itzel floated into the air above the square, lobbing bolts of fire across the distance to the platform. The goblin raiders charged out to engage Xu and the city guards from under the platform, and soon Xu started slaughtering them. Ella sniped at the witch doctor while the grigg archers fired at Itzel, and the orc leaped down to join the fight agianst Xu.

Briefly it looked bad: the griggs’ arrows took down Itzel, who had to fly away to find healing further back in the city, while Xu sank under the storm of goblin and orc attacks, but somehow they turned it around. Xu disarmed the orc and Bao Tap engaged the witch doctor, while Xu dealt with the goblin captain. By the time Itzel returned, barely healed, to the fray, the battle was over, and the deepfolk leadership had been slaughtered. They took the goblin leader’s head and paraded it down the street to the front lines, killing as they went, and within the hour the word had spread among the deepfolk that their captains were down and help was not coming from the river. By dawn the grim job of clean up had begun: those deepfolk who had not fled the city were trapped in alleys or surrounded in squares, and brutally slaughtered, shown all the mercy they would have shown the humans of Estona.

The battle for Estona was finished, the deep cult cell broken, their plan to raid the reliquary foiled, and Estona saved. The Wrathbreakers returned exhausted to the stronghold at the centre of the city to rest, and with the first flush of dawn the city was able to wake to victory and relief. The wrathbreakers had triumphed over a deepfolk force at last.

Image credit: the ogre is by Alex Alexandrov, on deviant art.