Crusade Campaign – Session #17 – Welleran

The battle over, the party surveyed the field.  Losses were clearly heavy on both sides, with nearly two thousand casualties between the two sides.  The remnants of the Sendara relief force were making their way into the city, now under the arrows of the city walls and no longer threatened by the remaining besiegers.  Baron Brandoch soon came striding across the field, organizing his remaining forces, ordering his own wounded to be tended to, taking prisoners, and all the many usual post-battle actions.  He was also warily watching the city lest his much denuded troop be attacked by a sortie, but none was forthcoming.  Rather, fresh forces were now flowing in across the pontoon bridge.
The party soon joined the victorious commander, who was quick to praise their actions: Perudo, for stepping out between the lines to “exhort the men to the brave tasks at hand;” Jimmy, for his bold and daring rush to slay the enemy’s foul witchwoman; and Lune for his well-timed blast of sorcery that tore into the Torquilstone cavalry and turned them to attack, a charge which he bravely stood against with the Macemen of Clinan.  As for Ulthar, he noted that he “did not recall your exploits, though again you are quite small and hard to note.”  The former three were all given immediate field promotions to Lesser Lieutenants by the Baron.  Lune also told his companions of the death of their orderly, Oddo of Spagenheim, slain near him during the melee with the horsemen of Torquilstone.
Count Juss, overall commander of the besiegers, arrived soon after, in company with a strong force of men to replace the losses suffered in the fight (his entourage was also with him, including a proud warrior who they later learned was General Wodith, known as The Spitfire, a few arrogant-looking spell caster types, and a woman who could only be a witch).  Brandoch gave him a complete report and Juss was pleased with the results, though not without some grumbling that it had been costlier than he’d have preferred.  Still, he noted that the siege was more secure now, given that Sendara had struck too soon, before they could generate sufficient combat power.  Their attempt was clearly to reinforce the garrison for a longer siege, but the few hundreds that made it inside would only be a minor issue, especially as more forces were already arriving to reinforce the siege — most of these were Thalian mercenaries who were to be assigned to this area to replace losses.  Juss also confirmed the battlefield commissions for the party (he also jokingly(?) said he’d make “the corpse washer chief priest of Maladominus’ temple” once he’d plundered it, after his bold action in the fight).
His concern now, he stated, was shifting to overcoming the magical defenses of the city.  There were many stories from the bloody Jewel Wars (20 years past) of these defenses, and how the city priests had overcome their interminable differences to protect the city.  The city had been besieged three times during those wars, but never taken.  But facts were few and more information was needed.  Juss did, however, hint that he had news from inside the city, though he clearly was not going to discuss that in the open.  Meanwhile, work on siege weapons would continue and he said “we’re just getting started on this siege.”  He then formally gave command of the forces entering the area to Brandoch, and further assigned the party to him as lesser officers to help order things, since they now “knew the field.”  After a brief, private talk with Brandoch, Juss departed back to the south.
Baron Bradoch now began to deploy his new and surviving forces [Note:  I let the players make all dispositions in Brandoch’s name – might matter later].  These included 400 Thalian heavy foot in five companies, 240 Thalian archers in 2 companies, 200 medium horse from Mordav under the command of Sir Owain, a knight of Mordav.  The remnant force from the battle (that were not sorely injured) included 150 Light Crossbowmen, 100 Shortbowmen, 100 Levy Spear, and Brandoch’s own 100 Armored Foot from Courtay.  The party also learned that there was a sizable force not far to the north, watching the Har Gate (580 strong) – they had not sent forces to the battle due to activity around their gate, now seen as a demonstration or distraction.  Forces were dispersed as follows:
– Har Gate – that force was kept as it was  (Lune rode to inspect it and found it rather sloppily commanded by Sir Trent, a Mordavian knight)
– West Road – athwart the road, the medium cavalry was emplaced, supported by the Levy Spear, who were also detailed to build defensive works for the cavalry in the form of a low (Roman style) field wall
– Fortress Gate – Brandoch’s HQ; all survivors of his original force were placed within the existing defensive works, as well as the Mercenary foot; new defenses were also ordered spanning to the north, to be manned by the Thalian mercenary archers
– Patrols – there were 80 or so Light Horse for patrolling to the west; these were ordered to continue to do so
The party now questioned several prisoners.  They had little enough to say, beyond confirming that the enemy was seeking to get into the city.  Most were levies and little more than farmers with spears.  most were to be executed; anyone worth anything would be ransomed later.  The party was also approached by a number of camp follower types and unattached folk seeking employment with the new heroes of the fight (I believe the party hired several of them to tend horses, their tents, etc; they were all vetted with a Potion of ESP).  They also met one Selwin, captain of the Thalian mercenary force.  He hailed the party as fellow mercenaries, and then began to talk about his main interest was plunder and pay, and he cared not how he got it.  He seemed to be inquiring as to the party’s depth of loyalty.  Lune took an instant dislike to him, and he soon left, saying that he would “keep in touch” as he and the party “might as well look after each other’s interests in order to best profit from this campaign.”
After an interminable day, the party finally made camp in tents provided (there were many now available).  however, Jimmy decided to try to scale the wall alone to test defenses.  unfortunately, he was spotted and a rock was dropped on his head, causing some moderate impairment.  Simply climbing in was not likely to succeed.
Next day, the party received orders to head south a little ways to a still-standing farmhouse not far from the walls, with an apple orchard between it and the city.  here they learned that there was a mine far under the moat already, making its way under a large defensive tower of the walls in that area.  The tunnel was far along thanks to the work of an earth elemental previously, though they heard that something had made the elemental go berserk, killing numerous soldiers before it vanished.  The engineer, Qualis of Vandom, a gruff and bossy chap, felt that the tunnel had promise, despite having to go deep under the moat — he did note, however that this was “a great place for a mine but a terrible place for an assault.”  The party was there to provide security, bolstering the force of two dozen or so soldiers.  Lune took the opportunity to ask a bird to fly over the wall to spy but, when it reached the black birds that rings the air above the walls, they swooped on it and killed it.  At times, Lune would find soldiers string at him with dull looks.  None approached him or harassed him, but it was clearly not normal.
The next day, the party was summoned to Baron Brandoch’s tent and told that there were to be assaults on the city’s outworks to the south and further west by Juss and the allied Ocarrans.  These were feints to test the city defenses, as the siege gear was far from complete as yet.  Still, in parallel, the mine in the party’s area was to be fired in conjunction, in order to maximize the chaos and impact.  As they returned to the mine, the party did see the ever-present black birds swarm in places, followed by flashes of fire in the sky.  Clearly the defenses were being tested elsewhere by magic attack.
After a time in the mine, there was a sudden crash when what proved to be a counter-mine collapsed into the besieger’s work.  In rushed a dozen zombies, five of which Perudo turned.  But the rest tore into the miners and the party, who came to their aid as a constrained, chaotic melee ensued.  Defending soldiers followed the zombies, led by a knight and supported by a cleric  Perudo managed to hold person one of the attackers, but this did little to stem the tide. The fight in the constrained space was ugly but quick, as the counterminers overwhelmed the besiegers.  The enemy cleric held Jimmy and Perudo, at which point the party an the surviving soldiers of their side fell back from the works, abandoning them to the defenders.  Shortly after escaping, there was a tremendous crash, and the mine was flooded from the moat, ending that means of approach.  The effort had failed, though what this portended was unclear.
– Experience:  5500 XP each (2500/2500 for Ulthar).  This includes a hefty bonus for actions during the battle the previous week.

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