Krizzen and Yoshin looked at the attacking soldiers, glanced at each other and threw themselves off the wall. Still affected by Yoshin's Fly spell, the pair soared across the entire width of the castle in pursuit of Velran. The shouts and clashing of the men-at-arms who had been attacking them alerted some of the other guards on the walls and a couple managed to get a shot off with their shortbows. Krizzen's armour protected him, but Yoshin felt a line of cold fire slice across his hip as an arrow struck through his cloak. Then they were across, looking at the open door through which Velran had fled. A glance back showed some enterprising men-at-arms lugging one of the ballistæ around to get a bead on them. Yoshin conjured a Flaming Sphere and directed it down the stairs as Krizzen hauled the door shut; then the pair loped down the spiral stairs in pursuit of their enemy.
Three turns around the spiral saw them at the middle floor, and they paused to examine the door leading into the tower room. It seemed unlocked, so Krizzen shoved it open and the pair ducked inside.
The room inside was a guard-room, filled with racks of swords, spears, armour, shortbows and barrels of arrows. Four guards, weapons readied, faced the door in a loose screen between the adventurers and Velran, who was digging urgently in a pouch for something. "Get them!" he cried, an encouraging ragged edge of desperation in his voice at their persistence.
With a wave, Yoshin sent the Sphere at the knight, who danced frantically around trying to evade it and uncork a potion bottle. His efforts were doubly successful; not only did the Sphere miss him, but Krizzen's hurled Blitzspear only managed to smash a cloud of chips and dust out of the wall behind him as he chugged down the potion he'd opened, healing several of his worst wounds.
Krizzen shifted Soothslayer into both hands and charged the soldiers defending the dastard knight, shrugging off a spell of some sort that Velran cast at him as he did so. Steel clashed as the giant axe whirled, denting one man's armour but not slowing him appreciably. Behind them, discarded the empty potion bottle and drew his rapier just as the Flaming Sphere caught up with him, scorching him painfully.
Krizzen rolled his wrists, angling the axe around a feeble parrying dagger, and cut down his opponent. Lashing to his other side with the backswing, he sent the man staggering sideways, blood welling from a deep belly wound. The other two hefted their blades to counter-attack, but were distracted by a choking scream from behind them.
Yoshin had guided the Flaming Sphere back across the fight and had caught Velran neatly in the back of the head with it. The nobleman gave a short, bubbling scream as the flames enveloped his head and his hair flashed into flame, then toppled forwards onto his face, twitched twice, and died.
There was a brief pause as the surviving men-at-arms stared at their dead lord, and then the sullen clonk of weapons hitting the floor. "Do you yield?" barked Krizzen, not entirely sure he believed it. "Yes," muttered one man, still watching his lord's features dissolve from his burning face. Yoshin kicked their weapons into a corner, then looked up as a resounding, hollow boom echoed through the castle from the direction of the gateway.
"What was that?" he said aloud.
Caitlin and Monsarana rode along the dirt road leading through the forest towards the crag, increasingly concerned about what they were going to do. True, they had an impromptu army filled with righteous anger, and equipped with a battering ram; but with the drawbridge down, the chances were the bowmen and ballistæ atop the walls were going to turn them into mincemeat in minutes.
As they came out of the trees, however, it became apparent that there were no men-at-arms on the battlements at all. With that dreadful tickle between the shoulder blades that comes with the constant expectation of an arrow in the back, they rode around the castle up the sloping ramp until they came out on the level space across from the gates.
As they had expected, the drawbridge was up; but the walls and embrasures seemed deserted, as if something had distracted the soldiers at a crucial moment. Caitlin stared up at the wall. "If someone could get up there," commented Monsarana, "we could get the bridge down." Caitlin wasn't at all confident she could scale a wall like that - and then she remembered the grapnel and rope in her saddlebags.
Unpacking it, she paid out a few feet of rope and began to swing it around her head, faster and faster. With a brief prayer to Aderra, she released it and watched with great pleasure as it sailed over the battlements and out of sight. A couple of hefty tugs confirmed it was solidly lodged, and she carefully swung over to the wall and began climbing. A few minutes later, she disappeared over the edge of the battlements and into the castle.
Nobly born, Caitlin knew a thing or two about castles, and made her way confidently to the winch-room over the gatehouse, where the mechanisms for the drawbridge and portcullis were kept. It was a strange place, largely dark and crowded with dimly-seen mechanisms hulking in the shadows, lit only from below by faint fingers of light coming up through the murder-holes. It was a few moments, therefore, before Caitlin realized she was not alone. A single guard had noticed her come in, readied his spear and was softly walking over to her, preparing to impale her before she knew she had company.
With a swift flourish the Tellaran girl had drawn her slender rapier and attacked, and the fight raged across the cramped room, first one then the other combatant devilishly uplit by the strange illumination. Bleeding from several spear wounds, frantic for fear the missing soldiers would reappar and massacre her 'army', she redoubled her strokes, beat down his guard and smoothly ran her man through. As he staggered back and slumped to the stone, she darted over to the winch mechanism for the drawbridge, looked it over for a moment, then knocked clear the wedge holding it in place and watched in satisfaction as the drum spun, unrolling the ropes to lower the bridge for her followers.
A moment later, the villagers' improvised but very effective ram struck the door with an echoing boom that must have been audible everywhere in the castle....
Session Date: 9th Feb 2014