Trapped in Harnalda
After debriefing Talathain on the recent events and giving him the coded message, the party goes to find lodging for the night. The Lonely Watch, an inn located within the bailey, has a few rooms as well as a common drinking area where most of the garrison spends its free time. The party must get a room for the night, however they are free to carouse and otherwise mingle with the garrison before they go to sleep.
The next day the party is roused by a knock on the door. After opening the door, the PCs see a diminutive fellow dressed in soft leather armor standing in the hallway. He introduces himself as Ballo Point and says that he is the younger brother of Dallo in Reedhaven. He invites the party to breakfast down in the common room. During the morning meal Ballo asks many questions about how things are going back in his hometown. He is friendly and cheerful, but this meeting is in reality a test to see if the PCs are who they say they are. If the group answers correctly (and they should given the fact that they were really there) to the more obvious questions, Ballo will be convinced of their authenticity. If the party acquired the amulets denoting them as Dwarf friends and show that to Ballo he will also be mightily impressed.
After the meal is over, Ballo excuses himself and says that he must get back to his responsibilities. He tells the party that "Ol Hathor" will be along any time to acquaint them with the border fort and its defenses. He also warns them, with a wink and a smile, not to let anything Hathor says get to them. Ballo then walks out the door and, unbeknownst to the party, informs Hathor and Talathain about the truthfulness of the party's claims.
About an hour after Ballo leaves an old guardsman comes for the party. He is a large man with gray hair and a full beard. Looking to be in his 50's and dressed in the garb of the auxiliaries, this warrior is the oldest member of the garrison. He serves as an officer in the auxiliaries and advises Talathain on matters of the fort's administration. He informs the party rather brusquely that he is here to show the PCs around the fort and to assign them to respective duties pertaining to the defense of the border fort. He goes on to say:
|Now listen here, you may be heroes and rich men on the outside, but inside Harnalda you belong to me. You will do what I say when I say. I don't have time to baby-sit some band of miscreants who think they know better than anyone else. Here at Harnalda you are merely another sword-hand. Right outside these walls await a few thousand men who would just love to split you wide open and piss on your entrails. They're here to kill and nothing else, and trust me; there are a few in that army who could take any of you in a few seconds flat. This ain't no joke boys. Men are going to die and soon. It's my job to make sure as few of us die as possible, so I will not have you running around hither and thither when the fighting starts. You will obey my orders as soon as I gives 'em or else your life won't be worth one whit. Do you understand?|
Beware! All is not as it seems. Invasion merely distraction. Major Angmarean
operation currently underway elsewhere in region. Armies on the march in the
north. Hakknash at Herubar-Gular. Broggha mustering clansmen. Durkarian waiting
at Buhr Calden with large Angmarean force of both orcs and men. Enemy agent in
Fennas Drunin in contact with Ermegil; may know location of secret base. Get this
news to Aldurin.
The Night Cat
The majority of the forces of Rhudaur are already arrayed in the plain in front of the main gate. In the center position, stand the Northron cavalry and the elite mercenaries. They encircle the officers and Ermegil's standard, which flies high above the surrounding standards and unit devices. The largest group, that of the Dunlendings, stands three deep in a long line stretching for at least 200 yards in either direction of the heavy mercenary units and officers. They are all yelling at the top of their lungs and you can see crude, wooden scaling ladders interspersed within their ranks. Large columns of the tribal warriors can also be seen moving both to the north and south as they attempt to totally encircle the border forts' walls. To the east are positioned the Easterling cavalry. They are primarily bunched together in separate groups, with smaller segments of their force riding in circles around the perimeter of the entire border fort. It seems as if the entire Rhudaurim campaign army is standing before you and you have the sinking feeling that indeed it is.
Meanwhile, the trebuchet of the Rhudaurim begins to pick up its pace, concentrating on the section of the wall directly north of the main gate. Archers, who have moved up close to the wall and are hiding behind pavises and mantels, are peppering the defenders of that section of the wall. Occasionally, one of the defenders of Harnalda goes down to an arrow, however, for the most part, the allied warriors stand safely behind the walls.
All of a sudden, the Northron cavalry and the mounted retinue of Ermegil's' officers begin to move forward slowly. Drums from somewhere in the rear sound a frightening cadence over the din of the yelling. At the front of the column rides a large man on a powerfully built, black stallion. He rests a huge, double-bladed battle-axe on his right knee, is wearing plate armor and has the head of some unknown Great Cat over his helm, creating a truly fearsome sight. Directly behind him ride three armored warriors. One carries a standard of two black, outward-turned battle-axes under a black crown on a yellow background. Another carries a white standard. The last rider carries a large bronze horn spun into a circle. These four horsemen break off from the remainder of the mounted warriors and slowly work their way up the hill to the main gate.
About 50 yards from the gatehouse the riders stop. The large horseman in the fore raises his battle-axe high into the air and instantly the yelling, the drumbeats and the fire from both the trebuchet and the archers' ceases, creating an eerie quiet. The rider holding the bronze horn then moves a little closer to the confines of the border fort and lifts the horn to his mouth. He blows a long blast from it and then in a loud voice calls out for the commander of the garrison.
The herald proceeds to state in overly pronounced tones that, "Ermegil Stonearm, Lord of Cameth Brin, protector of the Eastern Marches and rightful king of all of Rhudaur, doth wish to make treaty with the Lord of Harnalda. The king is prepared to give amnesty to all rebels dwelling in his lord's rightful property if they do lay down their arms and vow never to take them up against his majesty for the rest of their lives. Do you accept this offer? Willst thou make peace and submit to thine rightful sovereign?"
As you look over to the lord of the garrison, Talathain, standing on the roof of the gatehouse, he shouts his reply. "Never will we submit to such a man. The rightful king of Rhudaur stands not before me. Ermegil is an usurper and better suited to the cleaning of my kitchen than to ruling a kingdom!"
As soon as these words come out of Talathain's mouth the men of Harnalda give up a great cheer. The herald who just made the offer of amnesty looks tentatively back towards his liege unsure as to what to do. Enraged, Ermegil rides closer to the fort so that as many of the defenders as possible can hear his words. In a loud, brutish voice Ermegil bellows," This is my last offer you whore's son! Take it or I'll have your head on a pike!"
Talathain, without a moment's thought replies, "Never, I would rather die than kneel at your feet."
"So be it. You'll wish you were MY kitchen scullion by the end of the day. There'll be no quarter for you or your men!" Ermegil says,
"Be gone foul beast, your stench is overpowering" declares the commander of the garrison. Some of the guards around Talathain laugh at this slight, however their nervous unease betrays their sense of apprehension.
Ermegil, realizing that the time for words has past, turns his mount around and kicks the mighty stallion in the midsection with his spurred heels. The horse rears high into the air and then flies down the hill, Ermegil's ermine cape fluttering behind him. As he rides back to his troops arrayed in the plain, the self-proclaimed king of Rhudaur raises his battle-axe and once again the shouting and missile fire from his troops arrayed in the plain resumes.
Now the massive number of Dunlending tribesmen and mercenaries marshaled by Ermegil begin to slowly move forward. A huge wave of men works its way towards the wooden palisade of Harnalda, shouting war cries and brandishing weapons. At about 100 yards distance from the palisade an even louder shout goes up from the massed infantry as if on cue, and they rush towards the walls with wild abandon.
Thus begins the massive melee section of this campaign. Using the melee interaction charts provided, GM's may determine the encounters for each of the PCs. The ensuing battle will be both protracted and vicious and there will be no quarter on the part of the Rhudaurim. When the GM decides to end the battle proceed to the section below.
The End of the Battle
The end of the battle for Harnalda is heralded by a sudden great shout and the sound of charging horses that can be heard above the din of battle. Characters still located on the wall or those in the tower will see a wide line of mounted troops racing towards the rear of the Rhudaurim army. In the fore, the crimson red of the Red Lances can be distinctly seen followed by a mixture of blue and green-wearing levy horsemen. Behind them come wave upon wave of auxiliary and levy footmen yelling a loud battle cry.
In response, the Northron and Easterling horsemen of the Rhudaurian army ride out to confront the oncoming force. The Easterlings to the south and east ride swiftly around both the northern and southern sides of the border fort to hit the Angle forces on both flanks. The Northron cavalry, initially positioned directly behind the infantry assaulting the walls of Harnalda, are the first to engage the allied cavalry and soon a great battle develops on the plain outside the walls.
The Rhudaurim already inside the bailey and the ones attempting to climb the walls of the fort momentarily lose their momentum as they slowly realize what is going on behind them. After the full realization hits them that another enemy army is engaging their fellow soldiers, they begin to methodically pull back from the fort. Any melees begun after this point, if any, should operate under the assumption that the Rhudaurim are leaving the fort to go and fight the foes outside the walls of Harnalda. Any PCs wishing to continue fighting in the battle may simply follow the retreating Dunlendings and mercenaries outside the walls of the fort.
The battle that develops on the plains to the west of Harnalda is a rather short one. After engaging the Angle mounted forces head-on, the enemy cavalry forces begin to give way under the weight of the heavily armored Red Lances and levy cavalry. The Rhudaurian infantry, which had previously been concentrating on storming the walls of the border fort, attempts to form up into battle lines, but due to their lack of serious training in that area are unable to. The Angle infantry contingents then hit both flanks of the demoralized Rhudaurian forces. Slowly at first, groups of Dunlendings and mercenaries break off from the fight and begin fleeing northwards. Soon, the situation rapidly deteriorates for Ermegil and his army as greater portions of the army drop their weapons and retreat. Eventually the sound of a horn can be heard and Ermegil himself gives the final order for full retreat. His standard can be seen heading northwards weaving through the masses of his fleeing soldiers. Some of the levy horsemen and Red Lances give chase, but not enough to do any real damage.
Instantly, a great cheer goes up from the remaining defenders of Harnalda. All around the characters, soldiers can be seen hugging one another, shaking hands and weeping for joy as they realize that the battle is over and the threat of annihilation is gone. After a few moments of elation, some of the defenders of the border fort go and open the main gate to allow their rescuers entrance into the bailey. One of the first men to ride through the gates and into the bailey is none other than Aldurin, leader of the Red Lances and commander of the Thuin Boid garrison. He rides directly over to Talathain, dismounts, and the two grip each others' forearms in the traditional warriors greeting. Soon thereafter the two smiling captains head off in the direction of the tower.
As the PCs stand trying to get their wits together, Hathor, wounded in the arm and already sporting a sling, yells over to all of the group members nearby and orders them to assist the other soldiers in rounding up all of the enemy corpses for burial. This effort takes up the remaining daylight as all of the allied troops are either setting up camp outside the border fort's walls, helping in the digging of mass graves far from the fort or moving the bodies out from within the fort and all along the outer wall. The allied soldiers who died valiantly defending the Angle are to be buried the next day after a short service in their honor.
With the coming of nighttime, the celebrations begin. All within the compound and on the walls, soldiers are laughing, sharing stories and drinking ale or beer from one of the many kegs that have been tapped. Huge bonfires, both within and without the walls, rise high into the night sky providing illumination for many hundreds of yards in every direction. During this time the PCs are free to carouse and enjoy themselves. The celebration lasts well into the night.
The next day the characters awake to a bustling compound. There are soldiers moving all about the confines of the fort, running errands, cleaning up, repairing damage, etc. Going down into the common room, the PCs see Ballo Point. He waves them over to his table and yells for the innkeeper to bring over some bread, butter, honey and spiced mead. He asks the characters how they are doing and proceeds to small talk with the PCs about the previous days' events. After some light-hearted conversation, he tells the group to head over to the tower when they finish eating because Aldurin and Talathain want to meet with them.
Upon entering the tower, the characters are directed to the council room on the third floor. The room is nearly filled with officers of the diverse units. Aldurin and Talathain are both leaning over a map of the region, pointing to various spots and conjecturing as to Ermegil's next move. They both rise as the PCs file into the room. Aldurin dismisses the army officers standing around and, after waiting a few moments for the officers to vacate, addresses the characters:
Congratulations. Through your efforts we have been able to turn the tide in this infernal border war. Yesterdays' victory was a major setback to Ermegil's dreams of conquering this region. However, it may not be enough. Last night, Talathain showed me the message from the Arthedain agent in the Rhudaurian army. I can verify the truthfulness of this message. The spy known as The Night Cat has long been helping us with information about Ermegil's plans and operations. His message is very alarming. It seems that Ermegil has support forces ready and able to move south. I am unsure as to why they did not accompany him in the original march south, but I do believe that we will have the unfortunate displeasure of encountering them in the near future. Once Ermegil recovers from yesterdays' debacle and consolidates those forces that were routed, I am positive that he will try to attack us again. Now, thankfully, we have mobilized our own troops and help should be arriving in Fennas Drunin even as we speak. This will give us a better chance against his combined armies.
However, the first part of The Night Cat's cryptic message is the most puzzling. He mentions that Angmar has set up some sort of operation here in the Angle and that is the real reason for Ermegil's campaign. This is very unsettling since we have heard no reports of any other enemy activity in the entire Angle. I don't have the necessary forces to conduct a massive search of the region because all of my cavalry and the levy horsemen will be needed to counter any future push by the Rhudaurian army. I must concentrate on the defense of the border, specifically Thuin Boid and Harnalda. That leaves us with one option. Since uncovering the purported Angmarean operation is of the utmost importance, we must begin trying to do so immediately using whatever resources available. The Night Cat's message gives us one small clue and it's one I think we need to follow. The Angmarean agent in Fennas Drunin must be uncovered. He can lead us to the secret base of whatever forces are currently operating in our territory. Without him we won't be able to ascertain the whereabouts of this enemy operation.
I propose that your group go and work to uncover this enemy agent. You must also warn Paetric about the day's events and the massing armies to the north. He must learn of The Night Cat's message. Paetric can give you all the help you will need, but remember this; Paetric is the only one you can trust. Everyone else is a potential spy. We also have one small bit of information that may be of help. As we searched Ermegil's tent last night for any intelligence reports or force-strength assessments of his army, we found a small brazier with some papers burning in it. We rescued one small scrap of paper that must have been a message from the agent. Only the bottom right corner of the paper survived, but it did provide us with the code name of the enemy agent. He is called the 'Sandserpent'. Find this serpent and we will find the Angmareans in the Angle. This would also be a great coup for our side since this agent has hindered our attempts at defending this region for some years now. For your service, the people of the Angle will compensate you each 20 pieces of gold. This is not a large sum, but I can assure you that your efforts will not be forgotten or taken for granted. Since the war chest of Fennas Drunin and the Angle is almost empty due to the renewed fighting, other additional rewards will be contemplated. Land and livestock may be offered or the promise of monies in the future. I cannot say for sure. But I do know this; the people of the Angle are in dire need of your assistance once again.
The Ride Back
It is already mid-morning by the time the PCs leave for Fennas Drunin. They must make a choice about the way they will be traveling. The fastest route by far is the main road bisecting the Angle. A safer, albeit slower, way would be to go straight through the countryside avoiding the main road. Unbeknownst to the PCs, a group of Northron mercenary cavalry was sent south some time ago to harass all small convoys bound for the border region. They have remained out of sight so far, since nothing small enough for them to attack has appeared on the road. They are also unaware of the recent events at Harnalda and undoubtedly believe, incorrectly, that Ermegil is still ensconced in his barricades outside the walls of the fort. This gives them a good bit of confidence when it comes time to determining whom to attack.
If the PCs choose the road, then the Northron lookouts on nearby hills will spot them at some point as they ride south. They will alert their nearby associates who will then attempt to eliminate or at the very least halt the party at a spot further down the road. If the PCs are traveling too fast for them to set up an ambush, they will give chase for up to 5 hours. After that time they will deem themselves too far into enemy territory and will turn back towards the border.
A sergeant named Joeryim Pul leads the Northmen. All of the members of this force are regular cavalrymen and number 15. They are mounted on some of the fastest horses in the Rhudaurim stables and will be able to keep up with or overtake the horses of the PCs.
If the PCs don't choose to ride down the road, then they should roll on the northern Angle encounter table. The GM may decide to use the Northron cavalry force as an obstacle either way the PCs choose to travel.
If the PCs survive this obstacle, then they will have an otherwise uneventful ride into Fennas Drunin. The region close to town is inundated with refugees and warriors from Cantons of Feotar as well as mercenaries from central Cardolan (including the emerging Crimson Shield). The town will be full of people much like it was before the characters left some weeks ago. None of the townsfolk will give the characters any special attention since they are generally unaware of the PCs actions as of late. To them, the party members are just another group of mercenaries come to take advantage of the situation in the Angle.
Upon entering town, whether it is late that night or early the next morning, the PCs should go to Paetric's house. There they will show their findings to the leader of the town council, which will set in motion the next installment of this campaign.
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