Ch. 7: A Clever Ruse
After the long night of violence and fighting, your party of brave heroes gets some much deserved rest. The suite provided by King Acre doesn’t seem nearly as nice now in the morning as it did when you first arrived. The great view of the sea and harbor is now filled with Bairing ships. They serve as a reminder that the situation is dire and grave.
Supply and troop ships have made their way to the shore and have strengthened the invaders forces. However, the morning sunlight shows that the attackers’ casualties were high. The sound of hammers, saws, and workers can be heard. Siege weapons are being constructed on the beach by the Bairing engineers and the walls and weapons of the capital city are being repaired as well.
One can only hope that the messenger ravens sent to the Fortis Empire and Vallos will reach their targets on time and that the call for help will be answered. In the mean time, the King of Sah’ra, has decided he can better protect his people at the ancient stronghold in the middle of the desert appropriately named the “Scorpion’s Lair.” This massive fortress was constructed by the Fortis Empire but was taken by the people of the desert during their war of rebellion. Since that time it has been a symbolic sign of the Sah’ra peoples’ strength.
Challenges abound with this decision however. The journey form from each of the major Sah’ra cities is about a day and a half to the fortress. It is also conceivable that the Bairing armies will not want the people of the cities to escape. It is obvious that they plan to attack again. The king’s generals and advisors are in the middle of devising a plan to escape and live to fight another day.
Unfortunately for your party, you find yourselves in a distant land and caught up in a war that no one was expecting. Things couldn’t quite possibly be worse.
**Players have some free time to rest and recuperate.
- Gib may begin working on decoding the letters. He was given a partially translated letter by Isla.
This mission is of the utmost importance. I am asking you to do what you do best, kill. Your target is a difficult one, one with royal blood, King Acre of the Sah’ra. I do not care how he dies; only that he dies. You must not fail me; I am counting on you to strike the first blow. Your service will be rewarded. Here are 50 gold pieces for you to buy equipment. You will receive 500 upon the completion of the deed. After you have killed the King one of my agents will track you down and make sure you make it back to the islands safely and are paid.
Stavos, the islands and I are counting on you, do not let us down. Happy hunting.
Gib also successfully deciphers the second message as well.
The men you are to kill are the ones I talked to at the table. There are four of them. Three are from the Empire and the one is Medici’s son. Our spies are confident that these are the men who killed our assassins at Centerpoint. They need to die for their intrusion into our affairs. I set them up for you, they will be making their way down to my dock, and they believe I have cargo for them. You know which roads to watch, just kill them quietly. I will pay you 100 gold pieces for each of their deaths; get the job done, no loose ends.
PS – If you are worried about killing the son of Medici don’t be. His father is but a pawn. Marco, his son, is not even that. They are expendable.
The morning slips by into the afternoon and hours trickle by slowly. No fighting, no attacks, no bombardments to your surprise. A knock at the door brings news that you are to meet with the king in his war room. You strap on your armor and grab your weapons as you head out the door.
The war room is a little quieter though there is still an uneasy tension that permeates through the air. The king is sitting next to two generals at the table and as they spot you they motion for you to join them.
“I hope you were able to get some rest. This evening could be even worse. I have heard of your bravery in the defense of our city and people. For that I am in your debt. Emperor Fortis has a good eye for talent.” You sit at the table with the king and his generals. “Gentlemen our situation is grim. Our defenses have been weakened severely and we do not believe we can hold another assault. I have ordered an evacuation of the city. People are packing as we speak for the journey to the Scorpion’s Lair. We will slip out under the cover of the night so that the Bairing forces will not detect our escape. What we need though to make this work is a clever ruse, a way of distracting or disorienting the enemy long enough for our people to escape. We have what we believe to be a good idea, however any suggestions would be appreciated. General.”
One of the generals leans forward and begins going over the plan. “We are going to try and create a massive smoke screen during the next assault. We have had our servants begin moving all of the charcola we have up onto the wall that the raiders are attacking. The charcola has a long slow burn and with the lamp oil poured over it, it will provide a nice thick blanket of smoke. Combine that with hopefully a dark night and the Bairing attackers won’t even know we have left.”
“That is until they actually breach the walls.” The other general obviously has his doubts with the plan up to this point. “The most important part of this plan will be those soldiers staying behind fighting off the barbarians for as long as possible. This will make it appear as though we are actually standing our ground. We are hand selecting some of our finest men for this effort.”
The king chimes in, “This is where we require your expertise. You are all clearly men of great ingenuity and talent. I know you have done much for us already, but this old king must ask another favor of you, would you be willing in helping with this final part of the ruse?”
“Are there any suggestions that the lot of you could offer up that may aid in our cause?” The king asks.
Players may make suggestions.
After conversations with the players…
“Very well then. We again thank you for your help. We will begin making the necessary preparations.”
The generals stand up and look to a couple of aides to start sending out messages to officers and soldiers. The king begins conversing with Vizier Elsen and you head back to your room.
The sun sets and the moon and stars begin to make their way out into the nighttime sky. As predicted the Bairing army begins to awaken and the siege weapons are rolled into place. Torches are lit and the battle lines are drawn.
Just like the previous night the Bairing ships light the sky with flaming projectiles and the newly constructed siege weapons on the beach add to the volley. This time however there is but a handful of Sah’ra soldiers waiting.
After a round or two the fires are lit and flames spread on the wall and the smoke fills the air. It gives the impression that the emplacements have caught on fire. The Bairing forces cease their bombardment and the lookout form one of the towers signals the raiders are approaching one of the gatehouses with a battering ram. Several Sah’ra archers pepper the soldiers wheeling the battering ram into position with flaming arrows hoping to catch it one fire.
You can only imagine the scene on the other side of the wall as the hordes of Bairing soldiers approach the walls of the city and the single gatehouse they are trying to break through. Commander Antarius, the commander of the section of wall you defended the previous night finds you.
“Once more into the fire huh? I just received word that they have started the evacuation. All we need to do is hold them here at the gate for the next five or six hours. Shouldn’t be too tough, they only outnumber us.”
Commander Antarius begins rallying the men. One of the generals that was with the king earlier rides back and forth encouraging them to send the Bairing hordes to hell.
The loud thump of the battering ram against the portcullis can be heard and the chilling roars of the screams of the Bairing attackers rise with the smoke.
All of a sudden there is silence and shadowy figures begin to emerge from the smoke. The raiders have arrived. Both sides stand patiently waiting for the other to make the first move. One of the Sah’ra archers lets loose an arrow and drops a Bairing soldier. The battle has begun.
The two lines charge towards one another and clash just inside the gatehouse.
Battle inside the wall:
The dead are beginning to mount inside the wall. The defenders have stood strong, not allowing the Bairing forces to break through. However, the casualties are mounting and the soldiers are wearing out. It will be only a matter of time before they are overwhelmed. The Bairing forces have backed off for the moment and they are most assuredly discussing what is happening with their officers and generals. By this time they at least know that the defenders are trying to bait them in behind the walls.
A messenger emerges from the city and finds the general and Commander Antarius. The two men go over the message and then the commander comes over to you.
“I am afraid I have bad news. We have been asked to hold longer. It is taking more time to get the people of the city out. The good news is they have not been attacked yet. We have unfortunately have not heard from the other cities and do not know their fate. Is there anything I can get for you?”
“If we survive this war, you four will go down in Sah’ra legend. Your deeds here will not be forgotten.”
With that the bombardment from the Bairing invasion fleet begins again. However, this time Bairing forces begin emerging from both gatehouses. It appears as though the attackers are determined and are redoubling their efforts. The battle continues.
As you mop up the last of the Bairing wave you look over to the other gatehouse. The Sah’ra soldiers there are struggling to push back the attackers and might have their line break. You quickly tell the Sah’ra troops helping you defend your gatehouse to hold their ground and the four of you rush over and join the fray in an attempt to push back the barbarians.
After slaying the last enemy soldier you take a look around and it appears as though you have turned the tide and the remaining Bairing soldiers flee back out to the other side of the wall. You see Commander Antarius and approach him. He is standing over the general that had been leading the defense. The dead general’s chest has three arrows in it and there are several Bairing bodies around him and his slain horse.
“The general went down fighting. How about you four, how are you holding up?”
“We will not be able to hold another attack. The soldiers here at this gatehouse have reached their limit. I assume it is the same with you. I have heard no word from the others and whether or not they have finished the evacuation. I guess our final course of action is to stand our ground.”
Another volley of fire begins to rain down on the city which is now burning in several areas. The smoke on the wall is beginning to let up, but it doesn’t matter because of the burning buildings within the cities walls.
More Bairing soldiers begin pouring through the gatehouses and charging towards the weary defenders. Battle resumes.
Suddenly arrows from the city begin flying towards the Bairing soldiers and Sah’ra cavalry ride in to join the fray. The defenders that had been fighting begin to withdraw and the arrows and cavalry provide a screen for you to retreat.
Commander Antarius signals for you to join him.
“My friends it appears as if the cavalry has arrived. A messenger has just arrived to let me know that the ruse has worked. Most of the people of the city have escaped. It is time for us to leave. Here, take these mounts.”
Your group begins to make its way through the city and you are astonished to see the fires spreading and the city being engulfed in flames. It is incredible how much destruction have been brought upon the people of Sah’ra. You can imagine that it will get only worse.
The last of the defenders exit the city and make their way into the desert. The Bairing invaders will have a difficult decision to make: do they follow the people of the cities into the desert, or do they let them escape and be content with the coastal territory they have conquered? Only time will tell.
You and the other Sah’ra soldiers quickly catch up with the rest of the people from the city. A massive caravan of women, children, and the elderly, carrying almost everything they can in their hands, on their backs, and by cart winds through the dunes of the desert. After a day’s ride the massive Scorpion’s Lair emerges on the horizon. The safe haven of the Sah’ra people opens its gate and the refugees file in.