|An overview of the table with the prisoners and my starting area marked.|
To see my report from our previous game, see: The Xs Mark the Spots.
To read Skorri Drackenburg's account of Game 3, see: The Drichean Cages
|One of the prisoners awaits his gruesome fate.|
Lord Fortrywn was a retired general, and the Elf Heritor was used to seeing dead bodies, and had already seen a fair share here in the Archipelago; but the one lying in the grass before him held special interest, for he recognized the man. It was the Heritor known as Tavic. The Elf would not shed a tear today for one who shared the blood gift, for the man was a known brute and lacked any civility. But Fortrywn did know one good thing about the man; he had amassed quite an enormous amount of treasure very quickly here in the Archipelago, something the deceased Heritor had never been shy to brag about. And everyone knew the crafty Human Heritor had hid it somewhere to keep it safe.
Just then, Lord Fortrywn's Hunter, Gwynwater Lighteye, came up and stood at attention before her old commander waiting to report. The Heritor lifted his head from looking at body at his feet and simply raised an eyebrow at the tall Elf-woman. Gwyn held open her palm, revealing a pair of bronze arrowheads on the ends of broken shafts, and stated, "It's Dricheans, sir. There's the bodies of three of his crew15 yards over there," she tilted her head, "and more of these," she indicated the hand with the arrowheads. "And a shattered bronze blade."
Lord Fortrywn picked up one of the metal points and considered it, his mind working on an idea. He set the arrowhead back in Gwyn's hand, and thought out loud, "If there are only three dead, then some of his crew may have survived; and these survivors may know where old Tavic's treasure is hidden." He stared out into the jungle. "You've heard of Tavic's Treasure, or course." he directed his attention at Gwyn. "If you can pick up a trail, and we could locate the remaining crew, they might be very grateful to whoever rescued them from the hands of these islanders." The Hunter smiled, and dropped the arrowheads into the tall grass. Turning, she strode away on her long legs to find the way.
|Lord Fortrywn's disposition upon entering the battle area.|
Lord Fortrwyn divided his party into three groups. With him he took Gwyn, and the two seasoned crew-women, Arbyn and Bry. He ordered Randilas the Archer, Salin the Pearl Diver, and the crew-woman, Meriwyn (who was making her first trip with the ashore party) to go with his Warden, and niece, Marnilyne. Lastly, he had the two crewman Dirkand, and Lurlin wait in reserve to help where needed.
Only a few yards further, and they came to a large frog-like idol. The Elf Heritor sneered at it's repulsiveness, and shook his head in derision at the pathetic gods of these islanders. Turning back to the matters at hand, he could now make out a small cage in the distance, which seemed to be resting in a small stream. Inside the cage they could see was a man, and around it stood four Drichean Guards. Lord Fortrywn then surveyed his more immediate surroundings; he saw a large wooden totem a short distance away on their front right, and beside it set a chest and some jugs. Offerings, perhaps? He pointed to Gwyn and Bry, and then to the totem. They quietly and quickly jogged over, and when they got to the totem, the Hunter launched an arrow at one of the Drichean guards in the distance, missing, while Bry, the crew-woman, investigated the chest. Meanwhile, the Heritor had strode towards the cage and its guards, while Arbyn headed off towards their left.
|Gwyn and Bry move up the wooden totem to get the chest, as Lord Fortrywn charges towards the cage.|
As she did this, Salin advanced towards the pool, and caught site of a large bronze urn on a pedestal in the center. He was sure he saw gold glint inside. The Pearl Diver knew it would be deep in the pool, but that did not bother him at all. He plunged into the water, as enemy crewmen appeared around the end of Marny's Brambles and they jumped into the water as well. The first one reached Salin ,and slashed clumsily at him with his sword while trying to stay afloat in the swirling pool. Somehow, the enemy's sword made contact, and sliced a long gash into the Pearl Diver's chest (-7 HP).
Aryn and Dirkand could see what was happening and rushed to Salin's aid. Arbyn plunged into the pool, though the crewman, Dirkland, tried his best to stay in the shallower mouth where the pool overflowed forming the stream. Suddenly a crossbow bolt hit the crewman in the back and he pitched forward into the water. (-7 HP) As he scrambled for the bank, another bolt caught him a few inches below the first and he fell unmoving, half his body still submerged in the gurgling stream.
Marny chanted hurriedly seeing the desperate situation; casting Warp Weapon on the crewman facing the wounded Salin. Watery vines shot from the pool's depths and wrapped tightly around the enemy's sword, as he struggled to hold on to his weapon. The blade bent and then was ripped from his hand entirely, and pulled into the depths.
|The battle in the waterfall pool for the urn treasure.|
Some distance away, Marny heard the sound of battle ringing out over on her right and turned to see what was happening with her Uncle. She could see the enemy crewmen approaching the cage as well, so quickly chanted her Bramble spell to block them from interfering with Lord Fortrywn. Thick ropy vines covered in thorns sprang from the stream bank, and rapidly coiled into a full sized hedge with dagger like spikes all over it.
Back by the wood totem, Gwyn the Hunter had taken two more shots at the Guards and missed. The tall Elf was puzzled at this and was becoming a bit frustrated. She was not used to missing. Were the air currents being effected by the waterfall and throwing her shots off? Next to her, Bry had recovered the chest and had started dragging it back towards the rendezvous point. Overhead, the sky begin to darken with thick grey clouds. Gwyn looked up, frowning; someone had cast Cloud Cover (Missy, Gregorious' Warden), and that certainly wasn't going to help her archery a bit.
|Lord Fortrywn and Lurlin free the prisoner, as Marny "brambles" the far bank.|
The lean Elf crewman was there in a flash, but cried out as a crossbow bolt pricked at his shoulder. Lurlin's hand instinctively went to the injury, but it was just a flesh wound, doing little more then tearing his tunic, and giving him a shallow scratch. (-1 HP) The crewman reached in and grabbed the cowering man by the arm and pulled him from the cage. Then the pair turned and Lurlin practically dragged the frightened man up onto the bank of the stream.
|Lurlin with the prisoner pauses to catch his breath by the wooden totem. His last breath, as it were.|
Marnilyne, the Warden, from her vantage point in the group of trees, could see Salin in the pool with the urn, his chest was red with the wound and blood. She knew Pearl Diver couldn't last much longer, and if the urn was lost to Gregorious' crew it would be very bad. She reached out her hand and chanted the spell for Waters of Life at Salin, but the distance was so far, and from her vantage point she could barely see the water. The young Elf girl felt the spell failing as she was chanting it, and tried to focus her mind around the words. The Warden pushed with all her inner energy, and felt a sapping pain grow within her. (Pushes spell for -5 HP) With a gasp of pain, the Marny finished; and said a small prayer that her words had done their job. They had. The Pearl Diver felt a tingling as he stood there in the pool with the urn, and his pain and wound magically improved.
However, two more of Gregorious' crew were still in the pool, flailing about in the deep churning water. (Failed swim rolls) As Arbyn splashed about trying to find the edge of the pool one of them moved up along side of her, and awkwardly swung his weapon. It was a bad swing as the man tried to stay afloat; but the flat of the blade landed on her head near her wound, and that was enough to take her out of action. Lights flashed in the Elf's eyes, and her head seared with pain in the few moments before blackness overtook her.
The other crewman advanced on Salin. The Pearl Diver had had enough, and with his pain and having seen Arbyn and Drikand fall already, an uncharacteristic anger swelled with him. With a loud rage-filled cry he swung his sword in a wide circle, slicing into the pool, and caught the enemy crewman clean across his gut. (Rolled 18+2 F) The human clutched at his wound and sank beneath the surface. Quickly, Salin climbed from the pool with his prize, and tried to make for safety. As he went, Marny cast a wall of Brambles behind him to discourage any pursuers.
|As Salin makes of with the urn, Marny grows a wall of brambles behind him to discourage pursuit.|
Back at the cage, Lord Fortrywn had recovered himself enough to continue on. As he turned from the cage, he saw another one of Gregorious' Crossbowmen move up to the nearby stream bank. The Heritor knew that would spell trouble for Lurlin and the prisoner, so he climbed up the bank and engaged the enemy. As he swung his sword the man dodged and the strike caught the enemy on the arm, cutting a deep gash. (-7 HP)
Lurlin continued dragging the half-petrified prisoner back away from the fighting, trying to explain to the man that they were there to help. The Elf crewman didn't know what had been said or done to the man when he was in captivity, but he was surely frightened beyond all rationality. They reached the wooden totem where Bry had recovered the treasure earlier, and Lurlin paused a moment to catch his breath, and get a better grip on the prisoner. In that second of pausing, the Crossbowman over by the pool, that has been badly wounded by Randilas, fired. The bolt hit Lurlin hard in the back (Rolls an 18 +2 S), and the Elf let out a cry and pitched forward.
Fortrywn's keen ears heard his crewman's cry, and the Heritor looked over to see Lurlin fall, and the prisoner, now unattended, cower in fright by the totem. His eyes were then caught by movement in the distance, behind where Lurlin lay; and through the jungle undergrowth, another Drichean Guard emerged, and stopping in shock at seeing their prisoner standing there free. The Guard ran to recapture the man. The Elf Lord knew he had to act quickly.
The Heritor, took a hasty swing at the crossbowman, who ducked and the big Elf leaned forward and simply shoved the man away. (Lord Fortrywn hits, but does no damage & pushes the Crossbowman our of combat.) The Heritor turned to run for the prisoner, but suddenly, from around a clump of tall bushes, Gregorious himself appeared. Catching sight of his old nemesis, the Human Heritor lunged at the Elf. Lord Fortrywn could see it had been a hard morning already for his new opponent, as Gregorious' armor showed rents and splattered blood from encounters already fought. The Elf could also see the man was wounded; there was a slight limp, and blood was dripping from his left hand. A narrowing of Gregorious' eyes, showed pain concealed behind them. "Do you really want to do this now?" Lord Fortrywn asked with exasperation, but the Human Heritor's pride was now at stake, and like a panther he sprang at the Elf Lord. Fortrywn blocked his blow, and bringing his sword down, drew his enemy's blade lower; then, he quickly sliced his blade back up catching his enemy below his right arm and slicing the damage armor, cutting into his chest and then upwards across his chin. (Lord Fortrywn rolls a 20!) Gregorious stumbled backwards and his large frame hit the ground with a thud, where he lay unmoving. The Elf Heritor wasted no time with any thought for the fallen foe and, turning, prepared to reclaim his prize.
There was little that could have halted Lord Fortrywn in that moment of determination, but something did. In fact everyone in the area froze momentarily as a loud deep roar carried out over the jungle from the far side of the waterfall cliff, behind where Gregorious and his crew had entered. The old Elf had never heard one in person, but had listened to enough tales to know exactly what it was that approached; a Monarch. Kings of the Archipelago, these giant lizards walked on two legs and stood 15'-20' feet tall, and had large mouths filled with razor sharp teeth. Suddenly the puzzle pieces fell together in the Heritor's mind. These prisoners were being held as sacrifices. Intended to feed and appease the Jungle King. A crossbow bolt, whizzed past Lord Fortrywn's ear, bringing him back to the increased urgency of the moment
The Heritor didn't get far however, before another of Gregorious' crewmen charged at him. Taking the Elf Lord by surprise, the man got a lucky hit, and sliced the Heriot across the arm (-7 HP). But the man lost his nerve, and moved back away from Lord Fortrywn, where he came face to face with a remaining Guard for the cage. The Drichean made short work of the cowardly crewman.
Lord Fortrywn had already turned from the encounter and headed again towards the prisoner. Another enemy crewman approached the area, and Randilas shot at him, but missed. Desperate, the Elf Archer shouldered his bow, and drawing his dagger ran at the target.
Back at the wood totem, the newly arrived Drichean Guard had reached the prisoner, and roughly snatched him up as the man wailed. The soldier didn't notice Gwyn, as the Hunter had silently moved up behind him, her bow stored, and her magic two-handed sword drawn. The sword was raised above her head, and the Elf brought it down with her full strength, cutting through the man's Bronze armor, and separating his shoulder bone from his body. (Gwyn rolls a 20 + 3 F)
A chill went through everyone's spines as the Monarch roared again. They could all tell it was closer now, but the fighting continued. The crewman facing Randilas, swung with his sword as the Archer approached, and the dagger proved a poor defense as the man stabbed with all his might. He caught the Elf right below the ribs on his right, and the blade went deep. Randilas pitched forward with his own momentum, and lay there in the grass at the man's feet. The enemy crewman jumped over the body, and ran towards the prisoner. Another enemy crewman, from the pool, followed close behind.
|Te Monarch advances towards the cage.|
Gwyn could see the enemy crewman approaching and sliced once more at the new Guard, hitting him, but his armor held and protected him this time. The Hunter was relieved to see Lord Fortrywn run up to the scene, as one of the enemy crewman arrived and stabbed the Guard, finishing him off. As he did this, Gwyn quickly sheathed her sword and notched an arrow, firing at the crewman as he drew his sword from the Guard's body, hitting the crewman and sending him spinning fully around, before he fell to the ground. Quickly she notched another arrow, as the lone remaining Guard from the cage was now moving up behind Lord Fortrywn, as the Heritor prepared to strike the remaining enemy crewman. The Elf Lord struck a mighty blow at the man, stabbing deep into the man's gut. (Rolled 15 + 5 F). The crewman crumpled over. The Hunter fired at the approachingGuard as he was just a couple feet behind Lord Fortrywn, his spear poised to strike, and the arrow sunk deep into the man's neck, right above his armor. But he somehow kept coming (1 HP remaining) , and prepared to stab the Heritor in the back. Gwyn shouted a warning, and Lord Fortrywn turned quickly, striking first, and the weakened man could barely offer any defense. With an easy stroke of his sword the Heritor laid the last Drichean low.
All through the fight, the poor prisoner had huddled up against the totem, sobbing and trying not to be hit by all the flashing blades. Every time the ever-nearing Monarch roared, he let out a long wail, punctuated by the unceasing sobbing.
|The battle at the wooden totem. Gregorious' men have the black bases, the Guards have the red shields.|
They all knew the Monarch was very close now. In fact they could see him on the far bank of the stream less than 100 yards away. "Quickly!" Lord Fortrywn said to his Niece. The Heritor looked around at the carnage. It seemed like there was no one left from Gregorious' crew. He surmised that they were probably all out of action, or ran at the sight of the Monarch. But he was wrong.
On the far bank of the stream, in the shadow of the Monarch, stood a lone Crossbowman; the one Lord Fortrywn had wounded after opening the cage. Somehow the man knew he was the last one of his party still standing. He could see his once proud Heritor laying a short way away in the grass, bloodied and groaning. The man knew the rest of his party were laying somewhere dead or wounded as well. As the Crossbowman finished cranking his crossbow, he raised the weapon and inserted a bolt . He splashed over to the near side the stream to get a better view of his targets in the gloomy Cloud Cover. The man could sense the Monarch moving up just a few feet behind him on the far bank. He could hear it's large nostrils sniffing it's prey, and smell its fetid breath descending on him. He no longer cared about his life; but he did care about those who had inflicted this fate on his group. Closing one eye, he sighted down his weapon at he cluster of Elves less than 100 yards away. He saw movement as one of them stood up, and his eye focused on the motion. He pulled the trigger, as the horrid breath of the beast was right above him, and a drop of sticky saliva dropped onto his head.
Marny's words of comfort had reached the prisoner, and slowly she stood as the man came with her. Without thinking, she gave a tired smile at her uncle, proud of her success. Then, suddenly, the smile turned to a look of shock and pain, and the young Elf let out a gurgling sound and pitched forward with the spike of a crossbow bolt sticking squarely from the back of her jacket. The prisoner shrieked as the body hit hit the ground at his feet, and he cowered down again against the totem. Lord Fortrywn instinctively drew his sword, and turned towards the source of the shot. He saw the enemy Crossbowman just as the Monarch's jaws closed around him and lifted the man off the ground as if he hardly weighed anything. The Heritor knew there was nothing he could do about the shooter now, and hastily he turned back and knelt by his Niece. In the distance the beast roared, and they could hear it's large feet splash into the creek. The Elf Lord scooped up the girl in his strong arms, her breaths coming slow and wheezing. To Gwyn the Hunter he said through gritted teeth, "The Prisoner." The tall Elf woman pulled at the man with all her might, but he was lost; he sobbed and wailed and clawed at the totem as if trying to burrow inside. She knew they had seconds before the monster would be there, and even with her skill she knew she was no match for something so large. And the Hunter realized she was virtually alone, as Lord Fortrywn was already far ahead, practically bounding through the jungle with the wounded Warden. With a grunt of disgust the Hunter let go of the man, and turned to follow her Heritor back to the ship.
|The Monarch prepares to dine on the Crossbowman as the man lines up his last shot.|
Lord Fortrywn nodded and thanked the Hunter, but his mind was with his Niece. He thought back and tried to find what he could have done to protect her better. She was so cavalier, and head strong, it was hard to keep the girl in check sometimes. He couldn't help but smile inwardly as he realized she was much like he was in his foolish youth. The Elf's mind traced back over those sunny days as a young officer as his eyes slowly closed and the Heritor drifted to sleep as he sat there in a small chair at the foot of his Niece's cot.
|The day's results.|
So close... I almost had it! What a great game! I came so close to getting the Central Treasure (the prisoner). The final minutes were so exciting as Gregorious and I fought tooth and nail for control of the prize. At last it seemed victory was mine, as I disabled all his troops in the vicinity. But both Gwyn and Lord Fortrywn had activated, and I knew the game was almost over. Who could I get there in time to actually grab the prisoner? And then I saw the Warden. I measured; yes, she was within a 6" move of the prisoner. the Warden Phase came and I moved her over to the prisoner, her second action was picking the "treasure" up. Then came the Soldier phase. Surely, Gregorious would attempt to move his crossbowman to safety. Nope. He announces he wass going to take a Hail Mary shot at the maximum sight range for the Cloud Cover, and sacrifice his last figure to deny the treasure to me. I was confident he'd miss. I was wrong. And I had sacrificed a lot of he Warden's HP to "push" spells, thinking she would never be involved in any real combat. Down she went. I had one last hope; if the Monarch actually lost the combat with the Crossbowman, the game wouldn't end in the Creature Phase, and I'd get another chance to grab the prize. But, no, I rolled the attack against the Crossbow for the beast, and rolled a 16, plus the Monarch's Fight +8. It was more than enough to kill the wounded man, and with that being Gregorious' last figure on the table gone, the game ended.
I couldn't have asked for a more exciting finish. I just wish had gone in my favor. Ah, cruel fortune! :)
All in all though, it was a pretty good game for me. My dice rolling was actually on the good side, with a lot of nice 18s or 20s when I needed them. And I got two treasures, which is a step in the right direction for me. Also, the Experience Points for killing a couple Drichean Guards, and freeing the prisoner helped.
The game was interesting in that it devolved into three distinct player vs player battles. There didn't seem to be any of the sniping on the flanks, at least down by our end, that we usually see. I'm not sure if that was a function of terrain, or the immediate need to deal with the four Guards in the center of the table. It was also interesting that I was the only one to actually free one of the prisoners. At the other cages, the Guards put up more of a fight, and the opposing crews' missile troops kept each other at bay from getting too close to the prisoners.
The next game is in just two weeks, and Lord Fortrywn is looking forward to testing his mettle once again. We feel the tide has turned in his favor! Stay tuned!