Campaign of the Month: March 2008
The Nemedian Chronicles
Cuana Chapter 8 Entry 10
We turned our attention back to the battle at hand – once the tremors had ceased the sounds of combat once again sounded all around us. Our immediate opponents had begun to withdraw into the larger force of the general-king’s army and we were momentarily left unchallenged. A rider approached bearing a message from Clavanedes, telling us to investigate the strange lights and sounds that had moments ago issued from atop that accursed hill, Tor Al’Kiir. Tullweim nodded his assent, gathered us and the remaining nineteen of the Crimson Wolves, and we rode off across the plain toward the hill rumored to bear the body of the dark god within.
A strong wind began to blow, dark clouds scudding across the sky. In only a matter of moments the moon was obscured, it’s light replaced by the ever increasing lightning flashes above the looming hill. Thunder rolled across the plain, adding to the growing sense of dread we were all feeling. Something big was happening atop the Tor, and we all knew that this was it – whoever had been laboring to gather together everything needed to call the god back to his body was now close to seeing their plan realized. The only thing that could stop them from attaining their dark ambition was us. And if we were too late? No mortal can stand face to face in defiance of a god without the forfeit of both life and soul. It seemed that the best we could hope for was to arrive at a time where those fools were still in the process of summoning the god, so that we might be able to interrupt their ceremony and prevent the summoning from happening. With that single hope in mind, we rode to the Tor as fast as we dared.
The storm had picked up in intensity, and by the time we reached the base of the hill we were being pelted by the first raindrops. We tethered our horses as best as we could to the brush surrounding the base of the hill and began the precarious climb up the steep slope, taking advantage of the bushes and small ledges that were there in abundance. By Morrigan’s withered teats, can no one else in this world climb except for Cimmerians? As I waited several steps from the summit for the others to catch up, I watched as nearly everybody made it partway up before losing either their grip or their footing, falling back down the hill – some more than once. The rain was falling much harder now, the sound of the downpour masking the noise from so many armored men clanking their way up – or back down – the hill. Eventually we all made it up the hill, and stepping up to the summit we were met with a grim sight.
Through the torrents of rain we could see five tall columns – pillars no longer supporting anything, jutting up from the ruins of some ancient structure. A fire burned in a circular pit, the flames flickering in the driving rain. Situated in and around the pillars were heavily armored men, approximately twenty of them, standing stock-still and blocking the way to a set of steps that descended into the Tor. I broke away from the group, taking six of the mercenaries with me to come to a halt behind a ruined wall a short distance from the armored men’s right flank. At Tullweim’s command, Enaro followed and joined us, ready to charge the enemy with the rest of us. Caution was needed though, because we were discovering that there were pit traps all around us. I nearly stumbled into two of them while moving to a closer attack position, and when the melee began in earnest I fell headlong into one. I was able to twist on my way down to avoid a truly nasty fall, so I was barely hurt at all by the trap. it only took me a moment to scramble back out of the pit and plow into the fray.
A large portion of the enemy broke away and met Tullweim, Dhak, Xacksmith, and the remaining mercenaries where they were advancing from the front, Enaro and the Crimson Wolves that were with me were engaging the ones who stayed behind in formation. Our opponents were grim in appearance, wearing mail shirts or hauberks with breastplates, and wearing great helms that bore four horns as in the likeness of their evil god. An unearthly piping wafted up the stairway from below along with a vile chant voiced by what sounded like a large number of people, the whole thing sounding like a diabolical score to accompany our nightmarish combat. The rain continued to pound us as if angry, screams rent the air as men from both sides were slain or maimed, allies fell into pits, and the evil sound of the empassioned worhipers below all began to meld into one red roar as I was taken by a fighting madness, and began slashing at anything in plate armor that I could reach.
The enemy had been defeated, those not dead were dying at the hand of the Stygian as he moved from wounded to wounded as a carrion bird does with corpses on a battlefield. I still shook from battle madness, looking around for any other foes that may be lurking amid the ruins, when the chanting from below suddenly took on a feverish pitch and an appalling tone, utterly indescribable and ineffably evil. Perhaps the bloodlust and battle madness that was in my head at the time is what protected me from any further madness – I’ll probably never know for certain, but I could swear that I felt a whisper of purest evil brush across my soul. As quickly as I felt it it was gone again, and I stood shaking with the adreniline and battle lust as I had a moment earlier. Not so everyone else – a number of the Crimson Wolves staggered for a second, shook their heads, and looked toward the rest of us with madness in their eyes as they took up their weapons and attacked.