Othorion, now holding The Queen’s banner, leads the party on their way back to the Court of the Quee in Summervale.
In the distance, Thorbrayer and his colleagues approach.
Words, Not Deeds
After their battle with the orcs, the adventurers encounter another group of orc-hunting adventurers. This other group can consist of some of the NPCs the players created earlier or they can be one of the sample adventuring groups provided at the beginning of the document. If the adventurers do not have the banner, then the other group does and is heading back to Summervale. The NPC that the players indirectly chose as their recurring antagonist could be among the group here.
Haladavar: In the elven court this is what we do on Sunday for matters of levity and fun, this is not what you do when you are given a charge by the Queen herself to retrieve an item that she desires. This is not a time for these foolish games, this banner will not be yours by right or by challenge.
Othorion: No one has ever made the mistake of accusing me of being… fun.
Ignoring Thorbrayer and his desperate, poor offer, they continue to return with the banner.
When the heroes return, they get a heroes reception.
During the victory celebrations, a messenger arrives. A large orc force has entered the Queen’s Wood and is attacking a fort known as Briarfort. The army is still not assembled, and the court decides to send the adventurers to aid in the defense of the fort until the elven army can march; the party will be flown by eagle riders to the fort.
They must leave right away.
The adventurers reach Briarfort sometime before dawn and can see that there’s a battle already underway from the darts of flame and flares of magic blasting back and forth around the structure. Briarfort is a uniquely elven structure, a tree-top fortress surrounded by impenetrable thorny walls. The orcs have got into part of the fort and are preventing the elves inside from getting out to attack the orcs marching past outside. Only the adventurers are in a position to break the stalemate. The eagle riders set their passengers down in the fort.
With the orc attackers either slain or fleeing, the defenders of Briarfort can attack the orc column marching nearby. The adventurers are met by a squad of elves lead by a high elf in bloody chain mail armor and carrying a shield that radiates magic. He introduces himself to the characters as Warden Aldthir Sevenmoon, the commander of Briarfort, and gestures for the adventurers to join him at his command post. The Warden explains that the orcs have been conducting hit and run attacks, keeping the defenders bottled up and unable to respond to the main orc force entering the Queen’s Wood.
With the Briarfort elves now free to attack the orcs, the adventurers have time to rest and tend to their wounds and eat; as the sun begins to rise they are shown to some available quarters in the barracks in the roots of a great tree. Then they can faintly hear drums and deep horns from the distance, followed very quickly by the silvery tones of elven horns and yelling from the fort. As the players climb the threaded branches that make up the stairs, they can see the cause of the alarm.
The orcs they defeated in the morning were just the leading edge of an enormous orc horde which now threatens to engulf the entire fortress in a sea of hatred and bloodlust.
The siege of Briarfort has begun.
The characters are inside the Briarfort. The orcs are attempting to destroy the Briarfort, fixating on it rather than pushing further into the Queen’s Wood. The smell of blood, smoke, and death is so thick in the air that it can be tasted.
A lull in the fighting acts as a welcome opportunity for the defenders to get food and rest and prepare the fort’s defences to withstand the next attack. Go around the table and ask each player what needs to be done, and then tell the next player that they aided in that and ask them how their character aided in that task.
- Maximus (Fab): steadily looking around at the fort, realizes we need to protect the entrances, particularly the main entrance – booby traps & defenses on the ground, and looks to Fastion
- Fastion (Roberto): there are other stairs and other ways to get to the top of the fortress that are still exposed, so something needs to be done about those
- Haladavar (Joe): When Fastion pointed out the shortcoming in the tree fort’s defenses, Haladavar directs nearby troops to construct familiar tree-based defenses like spring-traps, javelins, spikes, set with taught ropes, covered with leaves knowing hasty orcs would not notice them, and their corpses would serve as further impediments to any orc surges coming from below.
- Haladavar (Joe): As this is happening however, Haladavar spots the orcs rushing to the base of the trees, too quick to benefit from ranged attacks directly above them… perhaps there is a way of getting in behind the orcs, however.
- Ehlanna (Dave L.): speaking to the commanders, she organizes strike teams of both rangers
- Ehlanna (Dave L): In shoring up the defenses, it is obvious they need to set up archers’ roosts
- Waurren (Max): With a lot of experience in missions for the Crusader, and as a monk would often take advantage of vertical assault positions, he knows which places in the elven fortress and nearby wood are best-suited to position ranged attackers
- Waurren (Max): some of the bridges spanning between buildings are damaged and destroyed during the assault, making it difficult to get weapons and supplies from place to place, or even to join the defense from different vantage points.
- Othorion (Eric): Fortunately, The Elf Queen calls upon the powers of all 3 branches of the fey elves. Othorion knows that deep beneath the earth, there are always denizens of the deep able to answer the call of the elves. Summoning this power, Othorion calls upon huge spiders to come from their hiding spaces to come and serve as couriers, not to attack but to carry things. What a sight! The wood elves follow his example – calling on Faeries to float bunches of arrows to the archers and small children to the safety of their mother’s arms
- Othorion (Eric): Orcs, not too dissimilar from demons will have champions in their armies. Thankfully, seeing these champions go down hurts the army’s morale, but identifying them can be difficult
- Maximus (Fab): Using some of his tactician’s in the Emperor’s armies calls out to the lookouts and archers to try and spot these champions from afar, call them out and identifies special skirmish units able to quickly race to meet the champions quickly
Brassy horns, brutal drumbeats, and bloodthirsty battle-cries erupt from the orc lines… the attack begins anew. There’s a different note to the aural assault this time, as an alarming rumbling shakes the fort from below, followed by screams of alarm from the roots of the great tree. Adding to the danger, the orcs have unveiled a new plan to take the thorny outer walls: siege towers.
As the adventurers run down to the roots of the great trees they can hear screams and sounds of fighting – but its only as they get closer that they can realise whats happened. In an act of desperation or genius goblin shamans have gained control of a handful of bulettes and sent them burrowing right into the heart of Briarfort – followed immediately behind by goblin sappers.
Ravenous Bumoorah, Goblin Sappers
The ground outside Briarfort has been churned to bloody mud and is littered with the debris of battle – both living and otherwise. Onto these fields have surged siege towers tall enough to crest the thorn-studded walls of Briarfort and armored enough to survive their slow trek across the killing fields to reach those walls. The only choice for the defenders is to race through the gate with a fast-moving force and destroy the siege towers up close. Warden Sevenmoon entrusts the adventurers with one tower themselves and leads the rest of the sally force against the rest. If the adventurers do destroy the Siege Tower before the escalation die reaches 6 they have won and may flee without it counting as a loss. Each turn the players prevent the tower from moving adds 1 extra turn to the deadline.