Our heroes spent a fortnight in Saragost preparing themselves for the coming invasion. Valadria, Dernham, and Meldiriel spent several days researching in the Hall of Echoes, and Meldiriel and Dernham were each promoted to honorary captains of the city watch. In addition, Some evidence was discovered linking Count Crastic to the duergar by Dernham, and Meldiriel discovered reasons to doubt Sir Jeren Falconio’s loyalties. However, neither had enough information to prove anything.
Firedrake 7, 2721 – 5:00 pm
Having discovered the location of a Saragost Node under the city, Dernham led the others down into the Saragost sewers. Soon, they arrived at a conspicuous iron door covered with a relief depicting starlight shining on evil creatures. After a few failed attepts to open the door, Meldiriel touched the Sword of Starkweather John to the door. They heard a loud click, felt a wave of magic, and the door opened.
Inside, they saw a Magic Circle of Protection expire, and several shadows rose up from the ground and attacked them. Though the shadows tried to drain the life from them, our heroes prevailed. Funakoshi alone slew 3 of the fiends. The threat dispatched, they realized the room was in fact a node. It featured the same stones, one for each constellation. Knowing they had near access to a node made each of them feel a little safer, in spite of the large army of duergar waiting to kill them tomorrow.
Firedrake 8, 2721 – 9:00pm
The army that was bred in the underground caverns surged across the upper world. Rank upon rank, legion upon legion of grey warriors, remorseless and rhythmic as a vast machine, marched across the land. Chain mail and axe blades that had never seen the sun before now gleamed in the daylight. Shrunken, deformed faces snarled out at the world, tiny eyes screwed up in disgust at the unusual brightness. As you looked at this army of stone-grey soldiers, you knew one thing for certain. They would not be taking prisoners, nor would they be offering terms. They intend to take what they have come for.
In the rear ranks, you saw a strange sight. Burly duergar are carrying sedan chairs, draped with black and purple silk, decorated with woven silver thorns. These must be the commanders of the army, kept veiled from the last rays of the sun. There can be little doubt that Drow occupied these transports.
Lumbering along within the ranks of duergar were several massive figures. They had bodies like those of pale, flabby giants but their heads were bulbous metal spheres, like helmets. From the necks of the helmets extruded pipes that sunk into the flesh below, with discolored veins spreading out from the entry point. You had never seen such creatures before and can only guess at what they may be.
Darkness was gathering fast. The streets that had been so noisy and full of life were deserted of everyone save the patrolling guards on duty.
Outside the walls of Saragost, in the red rays of the setting sun, the enemy had come into view. The grey legions, flanked by the helmeted shambling giants, advanced towards the city walls with a slow inevitable march.
Head guardsmen shouted orders to waiting archers and creaking ballistae were wheeled into place. Quivers full of arrows were brought out of storage and the smell of wood smoke was strong in the air as the fires were lit under cauldrons of oil.
From the grey hordes beyond the walls, a low rumble began to rise. It was unclear at first what this was. You realized that it is the sound of thousands of grey dwarves making the same guttural, growling sound, like wolves about to kill. The earth vibrated with it.
Then, a single clear female voice rang out, which wasn’t that of a dwarf:
‘People of the City! Know this! We, your future masters, are not without mercy. Cast down your weapons and admit us without bloodshed! What good will it do you to waste the lives of your fighting men in a futile effort? Will you blindly serve these lords of yours, who are sending you to your deaths? Or will you rather accept us and be treated kindly under our rule?’
‘This army you see before you is but the merest shard, the tiniest splinter of the Chthonic Alliance, a group led by the Terror itself, born according to prophecy. Thousands stand here; tomorrow, they could be tens of thousands! Did you perhaps hope for victory? Hope is a bitter blessing. Certainty is better. We promise, as a race that honors law, to treat you mercifully if you spare yourselves this fight. If you know your history, you know that we never break our promises.’
‘I say truly, to those who now heed me, that the future for you is a good one. In years to come you will tell your children that you made the right choice, the truly brave choice. For, if you had not, you would have had no children to tell, but only the unending darkness of a fool’s grave. Would you rather have the cold earth for a blanket and worms in your eyes, or a warm fire, a mug of ale and your children’s laughter in your ears?’
‘Choose! Lay down your arms and drink with us this evening as kinsmen, or fight and fill the gutters of the city with your hearts’ blood! Five minutes you have to decide and that is all!’
An uneasy murmur ran the length of the walls. Men glanced at one another, not wanting to be the first to speak. The voice had clearly unsettled them.