Day 67 to 71
Back to Pride Rock directly! Arriving early day 71.
The kreen clutch are salvagable. She is worn and torn, but its an apparently hearty race for next morning she insists she is ready to move! Astounding! She goes back to the kreen to the NE, to stop them from being so crazy.
Duncan "Can you wipe out the gnolls with us?"
She will try, if she can get there in time. She has a lot of distance to cover. Grumpet sends an animal messenger to the cave, for the king come w/in an hours ride of the Rock, and there awaid word from us.
On the trail, we run into groups of travellers over and over. First, a warband a couple hundred strong from a herd of yakmen heading in same direction. Since last time one of us talked to them, the King of the Yakmen by the lake east is assuming that since we are backing the old king, he has sworn off the war to exterminate the wemics; their warbands are assembling at the north river to war the gnolls are already starting to cross in groups larger and larger.
"Now it is up to you to do your part and bring the king of the wemics back."
Further on, we encounter the other local races on the move!. All able bodied centaurs are moving to the hills north of pride rock. They swore an alliance with the yakmen because of us, to wipe out the wemics. They are the west flank. The tiger wemics have assembled their warriors, are moving for Pride Rock. Regardless of what happens with our plan, they see the writing on the wall with the Bharag Grok, they must be stoppped together. A string of the nomad cavalry next, Brothers of the Wolf. Wolf, Hawk, Deer, Cat, Snake. Snake Brotherhood were not really nomadic, the humans who lived in the serpent forest. Allied with YT or became YT. They have been reduced to nothing after our YT attack. They will disperse and be no more. The Cat are already at Pride Rock, only ones truly wemic friends in every way. Wolves and Hyena's don't like one another, so we march vs Bharag Grok, marching for river north to give them hell as they try to cross. The Deer brothers are not good warriors, but great messengers and communicators and hit and run tactics, fastest of all nomads. The Hawk are great scouts, scout assassins of a sort. Quick, stealthy killers. Not good at mass combat. All working in their own ways. They all hope to meet us again soon.
By the time we reach the river east of the Rock, the 8 clans of rakasta are going to PR too. They are the only ones thus far that have met with tragedy already. All here are all there is of them. They are here en mass. Up the river north was where they all met up. The ravager adn his elites and witch stormed upon their 2 tribes "We fought best we could and could have won, but the ravager and his heroes were too much once they entered the fray. We got to our village to find another group had attacked their already and were not just killed but were being feasted upon. The rakasta total 62 warriors in all now, and we're looking for payback."
Duncan sends a hard bitten squad of them to pick up the Queen wemic and cub and meet us at PR.
We approach PR and see it is bustling. The Cats are here to see the fireworks. Rumor has spread the old king is still alive, because of our good deeds. Delegations of all others are here to see the anticipated action. We approach the Rock, saying nothing but greetings to anyone of what is about to happen to anyone, and join the caravan already here.
Lots of whispers as we pass by, wondering if this is going to happen, where is the king? Queen? Etc.
The king is sent another animal messenger, to enter town immediately.
The brothers welcome us back.
Duncan to them "We need to talk in private."
Duncan tells him his YT allies have been crushed by the thri kreen. Then convinces him that we have the queen and cub in tow, but the king is going to get here first with protectors. Further, no one here will accept their legitimacy again unless its, primitive style, claws, primitive weapons. But, we have an ace in the hole for him. His scintillating robed sorcerer will be here to help again. In reality, Arisaan will be in the robe at the fight but will disappear as the fight begins. That and political tokens seals the dea.
Grumpet, Bligh, Arisaan, and others are informing the delegations to back us up on the claim.
They then arrive after we leave to do just that.
We let word get around, and all prepare for the duel and wait for the arrival of the real King.
Duncan talks to Malenko about donning the robe himself, and hitting the lead brother with a couple minor hindering spells at strategic moments, suruptisiously. He is not really in to breaking the wemic customs since he likes them so much, but really hates the idea of the brothers winning. He's torn. Duncan convinces him for the brothers aren't getting out of here alive. If they win, Duncan's men are killing them anyway. No tribe here will risk protestation with the Bharag Grok threat.
The 2 brothers proceed to whoop one another up, feline pumping up. The crowd below splits as Hrok and the King make their way. Hrok has let the king know his Queen and cub are safe and on the way.
The brothers say nothing nor taunt the old king. Lots of insults at Hrok however, that all of his family will be put down for his attempted usurpation.
First, an intimidation phase, paw slapping etc. Then circling and feeling each other out. This lasts a couple minutes or so.
Hrok and the weaker brother initiate first, then the other 2 engage. Soon enough, Hrok and foe are in a full on grapple on the ground, rolling and raking and biting at one another ferociously. The king and elder brother then charge one another head on, slamming into one another and right to the scrapping like they've hated one another all their lives with barely any defense on either side.
The old king gets in a couple flurry of hits. Twice the older brother looks to be getting in a powerful lick when he suddenly weakens just slightly or slips for a moment (Malenko) causing him to miss by a hair.
All are with bated breath surrounding the combat.
Though Hrok is larger and older, the younger brother has more skill from his adventuring. It
The battle turns on a critical fumble by the elder brother just after getting in a good body shot and overpowering him to the ground. He goes for a overhand cleave but trips over the kings flailing lets falling face first to the ground. Dazed for a moment, the King leaps at the opportunity and tears him open viciously then grabs him by the mane. One massive strike with his axe kills the elder brother!!
In our peripherals, we can see Malenko moving about, giving the edge to our men!
Soon as the elder bro is dead, the younger of the 2 is panic stricken.
Duncan to his men "Do not let him out of here. He is in this to the death."
He then gets cautious, now down 1 to 2. Only making the most opportune attacks. He gets to Hrok's flank and is about to get in a good shot when the King leaps into position behind him and grapples him to the ground. The king pins the usurper's arms to the ground powerfully. Hrok begins chopping him like an inanimate log. The brothers adrenaline gets on arm free and stabs the King with his stone dagger in the rubs deeply but he's a goner. That was his last gasp of power. His weapons drop just after, he goes mostly limp as the king releases and backs off. The bro gets up stumbling blood pouring out of him. Hrok pounces ruthlessly and a rapid attack of his lion claws finishes the troublemaker.
Hrok is moderately damaged. Grumpet races to the king and starts making with the druid skills.
The cheers rise "The Kings are back!" as Hrok must be co king now.
A handful of the yakmen with a centaur and couple nomads hurry into the camp. The gnolls are on the move en mass and on their way here. All their sorties have merged into one on this side but for random stragglers. Our allied centaurs, yakmen and nomads took a whooping and had to pull back. "The ravager and his champions are unstoppable." The allied forces are as well but can't attack again until we are all together. "The Bharag Grok horde is uncountable. The yipping and wailing they make struck terror into all before them."
Mulligan "That doesn't sound very natural."
We start mobilizing immediately. We warn them of our undead horde, informing them they are more animated than undead "Like if a wizard made a chair walk around."
Our priest arrives with the undead. All our forces are mustered.
The usurper equipment is gathered and divided to Hrok and the King. The wemic nation is at war.
We see on the horizon a running skirmish. The humans harrassing the enemy to stop them from overtaking the exhausted yakmen. From the SE the last of the minotaurs and Yaks are almost here.
The thousand of gnolls indeed emit an unnerving yip, like a terrible laughing. It seems almost the entire army is doing so. In their center are ravager, witch, champions. Their laughter is making that of the masses more potent.
Riding in front of the horde are our cavalry, harassing the gnolls as well, having met and joined up with the other forces. Once their arrows are gone, they make for us. When our wemics make their move, the yakmen make their massive charge. The brothers of the Cat ride in small groups as horse archers with the wemics. The wolf charge; Hawks circle mounted, pinpointing flinds and obvious leaders. Hrok and the King each take a different group. Tor goes for the center left, Cat on the right. The skeletons are moments away from engaging. The ravager and champs are in the heart of combat. Every group who pulls into fight them is destroyed. Hyenadon riding cav (dire hyena's). Hrok is soon lost in the horde. Tor cleaves his way through, every hit a kill. Tor reaches the ravager before we can get there. But the shaman is casting upon him at the same time, opening up what wounds he had left from the previous fight. The ravager lops off Tor's head!! He picks it up and rides through he battle showing his head!
As we are trying to get to teh leadership in the center, Hrok comes into view holding a handful of gnoll scalps and lobs them into the crowd. The ravager turns toward him as he is fighting toward us.
Our skeletons enter the fray in support of where groups of our men are engaged to take attacks away from our men. A dull but loud humming begins all around the battle, from an unseen source. It is unsettling to those who hear it, though Duncan is pretty sure he knows what it is and gets a wry smile on his lips.
The skeletons are sent in to fortify our group, and we use them as animated shields essentially.
After a quick foray by skirmishers does no harm, a force charges at us. Grumpet summons a 5' rampart under our line with a 5' deep ditch in front of it. We cut the force down with relative ease but for a squad of hyenadon riding gnolls who hit Bhodan's men on our right and its a tough fight. Behind them coming toward us and arriving soon, comes the witch, priest, ravager with bodyguard, a bunch of flinds.
Clouds have beenrolling in, and by now the sky is completely blackened like a terrible storm is imminent. The rakasta on our left are being overrun by the gnolls with mounds of our skeletons destroyed among them, forming groups back to back to defend themselves. To our right, the wemics are holding their own. Beyond them, the yakmen and some humans have surged and are rushing over the gnolls there.
From the weakened rakast left comes a force of enemy, 20 of the rageborn gnolls. Its lucky that the heavily drilled Hobgoblins are there with Archileus at the very end to turn the line with precision to meet them!
Duncan "Master of Heat and Flame! Burn the scum!" as the centaurs fire over our men and into them. Kyros reads an incantation from a tome, and 8 of the hobgoblins are plus 1 hit/dam for 2 rounds.
A torrential downpoor begins, very fast the field is muddy.
Bhodan's men hold the line, much backed up by skeleton shields. The gnoll leader was knocked out fairly quick. Arisaan made a beeline there and beheaded him.
A vortex forms in the clouds above us as the battle continues. One of the rageborn is struck by a random bolt of lightning. The rageborn wrap up our right flank at the centaurs who moved up when our line shifted. The endmost is cut to ribbons by 4 rageborn. Grumpet entangles them from the other flank, then Masther of HnF conjures a 2handed flameblade and cuts one, which then vanishes in a quick flash.
With the right flank secure, suddenly Hrok and the 2 catnip loving wemics leap over the ditch and charge toward the ravager and his group who are coming across the field at us. The Minotaur, not to be undone, follows.
Bhodan "Duncan, what do we do?"
Duncan "Move up with them and provide skirmish fire to keep the fools from getting swarmed. Do Not Melee Engage!"
The other centaur goes down!
The massive rageborn leader has lingered behind the line, now comes forward with an almost impossible charge in the muck. 2 of his men step aside and he reaches Archileus and a hoblite. He gets by them, then overruns the hoblites behind, reaching Malenko and crits him in the head!
Duncan orders all but Archileus side to go round our ditch and move up to assist Hrok et al. It is only under the vortex that got saturated, upon us specifically.
The rageborn leader takes Malenko down but loses his falchion in the process! Malenko is knocked 15' away.
The shield one of the first gnoll Lt's has, that fought the hoblites and died, was carrying the dead wemic king's shield!
As Duncan and our forced move across the field, we can see more of the battle. We are doing surprisingly well compared to how this whole thing started but victory is at best 50/50 right now.
As we engage the wemic force, another large pack of gnolls appears to the right heading for us at a run, but the Imperial Cav charges into them and cuts them off. The gnolls are large enough in number that they are able to form a circle around cav.
The humming and buzzing, we can now here, is much louder.
The gnoll hit by the Malenko and vanished reappears almost right where he vanished, only sent temp into a time vortex.
Then, a horde of thri kreen, the source of the humming, appears! They slam into all fronts of gnolls!! The tide begins to turn.
At the Ravager and his men, Duncan et al catch up as fast as we can to Hrok et al. The rakasta hit the flinds first with Bhodan's men. We then hit dead center, cutting our way to the leadership directly with Hrok himself.
The ravager is flanked by the Boodha and the Chosen One priest. Duncan appears from the crowd first, with Hrok, engaging the ravager. Mulligan soon joins them as Toro hits the Chosen one and Bligh the Boodha. Grumpet then appears from the ground as an earth elemental! He grapples the ravager's legs while half in the ground, disrupting his defense and attacks!! He keeps this on for most of the fight, making a huge difference.
Archileus and the hobgoblins fight a desparate action vs the barbarian gnolls who are the most ferocious opponents they have ever battled en masse. Several of the hobgoblins go down by the end, but all survive thanks to timely heal checks and a lucky stabilization at neg 10 by one of the hoblites. Kyros and Father B assist, healing Pollux enough to bring him back to conciousness, before Father B follows Duncan up to the Ravager battle. There, he harrasses the Chosen One best he can and assists our efforts. The tide turns when Arisaan makes her move, cutting down the massive boss rageborn with 2 disembowling sneak attacks.
The battle is a great challenge for both sides, its an awesome contest. Hitting is inconsistent at first, Toro is especially challenged by the Chosen One, and the enemy casters suffer several timely spellcasting failures. Hrok is taken down by a Ravager mighty crit but then Mulligan especially kicks into gear, hitting multiple times for a few rounds in a row and lays the Ravager low. Father B has brought Hrok back up by then, and he and Duncan turn to help Bligh as Toro takes the Chosen One down immediately after.
Mulligan the Scum drops trow, straddles the downed Ravager's head while holding his maw open, and starts taking a dump in the Ravager's mouth.
Duncan and Bligh slay the Chosen One while this is going on. Out of their 3 bodies come dark clouds that form together above us and a voice warns us this is not over, it will return to destroy us. It then becomes a vortex which buffets us terribly as we try to scatter from its wrath, Mulligan pants around knees. This drops the alread wounded Hrok again but he survives.
The battle is being won around us. Its thanks to the Kreen arrival, though neither side could have beaten the gnoll horde alone. As the gnolls flee, the kreen follow to cut down all they can in the route. Our army ceases and gathers. The rakasta are a people no more, none remain but those who fought with us. They will follow us east in hopes of finding more of their kind from their ancestral homeland of lore.
Kyros over casted from his arcane book and we find him passed out amongst the downed hobgoblins. Duncan and Toro are our worst off.
During the battle proper, our caravan at the base of pride rock had to circle and defend against an attack themselves, Nnesk and Maeth helping there. It was only a small raiding group thankfully, and was dealt with.
Nothing but rest and casualty accounting the remainder of the day. The Kreen return in groups and mass nearby.
The skeletons are completely destroyed.
Over next few days:
First morning after, 2 of the Scouts are sent ahead on the northern branch of the river to pathfind. Mounted guards and Kreen are sent with them to deal with any scattered gnoll bands. If they make it all the way to the rift, even better. Mulligan goes south following the southern river easward with the other scout. Mulligan will continue to the rift then cut north to meet us there. A small group is sent with him in case of adventure: Nnesk,
Recovery for our wounded. Dealing with casualties.
The Imperial ambassador and Duncan meet with all local rulers.
Hrok is now the single Wemic Chief.
The kreen queen asks us to travel east to their home valley to deal with the problems there. Duncan agrees to go and investigate the situation; but this must include a deal to assist/protect all future trade east and west, to and from the Empire, through their territory if required.
Day 72, Duncan with the ambassador and a small party ride for the yakman King to properly thank him an create trade ties along the road, unless he came with their army. One thing we wish he will do is completely reduce the forest ruin to flat rubble; burn anything that burns; empty the pool and tear it up stone by stone.
On day 73, Duncan sends new supply wagon, built during the caravans stay in the cave west of here, south to properly loot anything else remaining at the Shrine, Malakaz cave, and Nautiloid, with proper local guides who know the way, as well as mounted guard.
XP for entire battle other than ravager's group:<s> 52800</s>
Rageborn leader's falchion: mst (plus 1 crit threat range) man size
Lt Fort lt shield, steel
Books: when using book with a heal check = plus 2 to treat; healing herbs = 150 uses, each gives plus 2;