Session 94 (19 August 2020)

Note to readers: This is the climax of a five-year D&D 5th edition campaign set in a loosely adapted version of N. Robin Crossby's Hârn. Previous session re-caps can be found on this blog, and an early journal of sessions 1 through 54, beginning in February 2015, is archived here

In-world dates: 24 Ilvin 720 TR [winter]
Moon: waning crescent

Having dealt with the threat posed by the kraken, you turn back to the city walls where the guard towers are under attack by the Lengese airships. You can see the automatons aboard the ships carrying bundles to the gunnels and hurling them down upon the hapless soldiers on the parapets below; with each impact, the bundles explode into flames like Greek fire. The screams of the burning are horrible to hear. The handful of Shek Pvar atop the walls harry the ships as best as they can: bolts of lightning, flame, ice, and acid streak skyward. Even as you rush to help, a cry goes up from the garrison: "The eagles are coming!"

You look up to see, circling down from above, a score of giant eagles, each bearing a rider on its back. In the van are the druid Reidoth and the Elf Queen Aranath, followed by a company of Sindarin rangers. Already their mighty bows are loosing deadly arrows at the enemies on the field and in the sky. "We will deal with the ships!" cries Reidoth. "Look you now to the thing approaching from the north!"

Your eyes follow the line of his outstretched arm. Beyond the ranks of jeering giants and gargun facing the walls, something massive looms. The ground trembles as a great dark form lumbers forward, gaining speed with each step. It is a colossal construct of adamantine and flame, striding toward you like an armoured warrior of nightmare. Led by the fire giants, a rhythmic chant begins and is quickly taken up by your foes: "Vonindod! Von-in-dod! Von-in-dod!" Fully eighty feet in height, it towers above all else on the field. There is no doubt that, like the kraken, it poses a clear threat to Cherafir's walls, behind which thousands of innocents tremble. You must stop it before it reaches them.

Swiftly shapechanging into a green dragon, Cade collects the party members and wings his way to intercept the Vonindod. As he does so, you spy a lone ship approach the moorings in the alienage of Cherafir. You recognize the Hynde, the merchant ship that bore you from Thay to Azadmere so many weeks ago. Amidships, the crew are busy pulling away tarpaulins covering a great bulk, revealing a jumble of gleaming metal rods and gears. An engine grinds to life and, amidst great gouts of whistling steam, the shape disentangles itself and rises to its feet: it is the Dwarven juggernaut, Azadmere's answer to the Vonindod. Although only half the height of the Vonindod, the mech has deadly weapons: its right arm terminates in a gleaming axe, the left in a heavy hammer. A ragged cheer goes up from the city as this new ally steps onto the shore and begins advancing toward the battlefield. 

Dragon-Cade swoops down toward the charging Vonindod, barrel-rolling overhead as Dracul, Izdrel, Gil'Doren, and Galindo leap down and Feather Fall to a gentle landing on the construct's massive shoulders. A sudden fear grips many of you as your proximity to the Vonindod drives homes its immense power: surely it is unstoppable! Galindo, thinking only of getting away as quickly as possible, plunges his sunblade dagger into the metal shell and slides, Douglas Fairbanks-style, down its back. Dracul, similarly overcome by terror, follows his lead. Gil'Doren maneuvers acrobatically around the Vonindod's shoulders, seeking the vulnerable gap beneath the great helmed head and chest—the "neck", as it were—and fires deadly spells inside. Izdrel unleashes an Ice Storm upon the construct's legs, hoping to create a slippery surface beneath its feet, and follows up with Lightning Bolts to the head.

Meanwhile, inside the Dwarven mech's cockpit, Klor unleashes an Earthquake upon the ranks of giants and gargun waiting to attack the city. The ground trembles and is torn open by jagged fissures into which screaming gargun plunge; wailing, the giants stagger and lose their footing. Brandishing its terrible arms, the Dwarf mech strides forward to engage the Vonindod.

On the ground now, Galindo stabs with his sunblade at the construct's ankle, finding a vulnerable point and stinging it like an angry wasp. Roaring, Dracul faces the colossus head-on, only to find its massive foot descending full upon him. The sun is blotted out as the Vonindod steps on the hapless barbarian, pressing him into the earth even as Izdrel's Ice Storm begins freezing the area. 

The Vonindod stumbles to a halt, harried about the head by the spells of Gil'Doren and Izdrel, weakened at the ankle by Galindo, and perturbed by a surprisingly strong creature underfoot. With a mighty heave, Dracul wrestles himself free of the construct's stomp even as the blades and spells of his allies pierce the Vonindod's carapace. The ice underfoot finally has an effect: the construct loses its balance. For an agonizing second, the Vonindod seems to hang in space as its legs slip out from beneath it; then it crashes face-down into the icy mud. The Dwarven juggernaut is swiftly at hand, its axe and hammer completing the destruction of the fire giants' engine of death.

A roar of rage and vengeance goes up from the foe. Their generals, having committed their forces to the assault, unleash the charge. Giants and gargun rush the walls. The surviving defenders, clutching their weapons with white knuckles, prepare to receive them. You gather yourselves up amidst the ruins of the Voninodod and rush to help them. Unnoticed to many in the anxious seconds before general mêlée, a squadron of ethereal angels flits among the soldiers on the wall, buoying them up with Peoni's Blessing—the fruits of Cleric's final appeal to his deity.

The next hours are hard. Your arms rise and fall, your fingers weave arcane symbols repeatedly, your bows loose arrow after arrow. All around you is the chaos of battle, shouts and screams, howls of anger and desperate pleas for mercy. Red is everywhere, the blood of mortals staining the earth and stone. At last it is over: a cry goes up as the enemy ranks waver and break. They are routed. You stand amidst the fallen, watching your foes flee. The field is yours.

Though nearly drained from your exertions, you immediately set about helping the wounded. Almost two of every three defenders is a casualty, but your magic and healing arts save the lives of many that otherwise would have been lost. Amidst your labours, there is time for a reunion with Klor: bittersweet it is to meet an old friend on the field where so many have been slain.

As the light fades from the western sky, you confer with your dwarven, elven, and human allies on the mopping up. A commotion at the door draws your attention: it is Omthal and Leniqua, the parents of Wentiua. She has gone missing, leaving behind only a cryptic note. It seems she overhead her parents talking and realized that Malevix had offered to spare the city if she were turned over to him; her note expresses the intent to prevent harm coming to the city because of her. Alarmed, you set about Scrying the young mage. Through the spell's power you discover her peril. You see Malevix, clutching Wentiua by the arm, standing before a magical portal situated amidst the recognizably oversize architecture of an Earthmaster complex. Through the portal you see a blasted, desolate landscape, all rocks and sand burning beneath an angry red sun. "Behold the future of Hârn—the future that you are destined to create," growls Malevix, dragging her through the shimmering doorway. They disappear from your sight.  



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