“For weeks, rumors have abounded that there is an armada of Thondrian ships massing near the city. The Panarch has done what he can to squash these rumors and reassure the people that all is well. Nevertheless, stories are being told and retold of life in Blanos ten years ago when the Thondrians ruled. Their oppressive regime and the brutality of their soldiers is the stuff of legend.
It is a dark day, with a gray and roiling sky. The gods seem troubled, and the whole city is under a hush. Then, on the horizon, the first black specks appear. At first it causes no stir, but quickly those shapes resolve into the forms of dark ships with black sails bearing the golden sigil of Thondria. Not just several, but scores, the ocean to the northeast teeming with ships of all sizes.
Immediately, citizens of Blanos start to panic, fleeing this way and that and in an uproar demanding protection and action. The city guard springs to life, soldiers running to posts, armed and armored as thoroughly as they’ve ever been seen.
Across the mouth of the harbor, the great chain rises, drawn up from the depths by mechanisms underneath Aggo Lighthouse. Word begins to pour in from all districts that soldiers are marching on land from both the east and the west, besieging both gates of the city.
And then the first true combat is joined. The shapes of winged beasts begin to descend over the cliffs from behind the city. The griffon riders of Blanos pour out of the western and eastern garrisons to meet with what look like Thondrian lancers riding hippogriffs. The darting shapes of soldiers tangling in the skies look like clouds of flies, while in the distance the approaching ships seem a plague of black locusts descending upon the city.
As the wizards of the University begin to hurl fire into the sky to combat the vanguard of hippogriffs, and the sounds of assault upon the walls of the city echo off the cliffs, the skies begin to rain bolts of lightning down into Blanos, no doubt at the behest of the Thondrian war wizards.”
Mathos and Cassie of Under Dune were down by the docks, watching the ships approach. Ochrek, Soro and Blix of Grave Endeavors were also there. There was a furor among the people gathered near the wharf, and the guards began to push people back and away from the docks. An angry ship captain bellowed that he cannot be kept from his ship, inciting the crowd to press toward the guards as sailors and panicked townspeople eyed the boats, longing for escape.
The sharp eyes of several PCs on scene revealed a group of hooded figures sneaking behind the guards and making their way to the piers. Mathos divined the strategic information that they were not panicked citizens, but nefarious types about something they shouldn’t be, and the guards wouldn’t turn or acknowledge them. Both guilds acted quickly, with Blix raining bolts of fire and Soro climbing a building to snipe with crossbow bolts, while Ochrek, Cassie and Mathos engaged and bypassed the guards.
The hooded figures were defeated, and the guards started to butcher the citizens around them. The PCs acted to put an end to the traitorous guards. Searching the dead revealed themto be agents of Thondria on their way to a boat, possibly to disable the harbor chain and allow the fleet entry directly into the city. On one of the traitorous guards, 50 Thondrian gold coins and a ciphered note were found.
All five traveled back toward the Sword District, while Mathos worked on deciphering the note. Just before heading back across Gate Street into the Sword District, he revealed that it was instructions on helping the Thondrian saboteurs, and then getting to the Hall of the Council to help murder the Councilors of Blanos.
Faced with returning home to wait it out, or doing something heroic and potentially stupid, the team elected to try to warn the Council. They went straight up Gate Street toward the Marble District, avoiding the growing devastation to the city.
In the distance, the sound of a massive explosion resounded off the cliffs behind the city. Smoke started to rise from the Alhabra Gate… or rather, where the gate used to be. As the ball of smoke rose and the dust cleared, it became obvious that the Thondrians had blown it to smithereens and were sending waves of soldiers into the western side of the city.
As they were passing Yeferra prison, the outer wall blew open just ahead of them. It looked like another piece of sabotage from the Thondrian agents in the city. After the dust cleared, shapes began to pick their way over the rubble clogging the hole. While a number of prisoners ran directly across the street and away into the city, some came running up the road, wild-eyed and obviously ready to fight anyone or anything armed and in their way. As they charged, a group of imprisoned ogres carrying heavy beams they ripped right out of the prison itself emerged through the hole in the wall.
The group fought hard against the desperate and hostile criminals. Blix launched a fireball that seriously wounded the ogres before they engaged, and aided the rest of the group in felling them. One of the criminals was a much harder foe, a lifetime villain with skill and tenacity. Finally, all of them were laid low.
Running low on healing supplies, Ochrek elected to rest with them while they took shelter from the lightning bolts and waited for the prison break to die down. But once they had rested, he had resummoned his wolf mount and chose to return the the Sword District to see about getting more supplies and rouse the rest of the guild to help. He would not be seen for the rest of the day. (This is where Charles wasn’t feeling well and had to leave game.)
The four remaining heroes made their way up into the Marble district. Having fought their way across the city, and filtered through the back alleys, avoiding the open fighting where they could, they made their way to Ederra Square. The Hall of the Council lie just ahead. To the left, they could see the bulbous and misshapen University tower. It appeared blurred and faceted. Whatever part the UAB played in the defense of the city up to now, it seemed that they had been fully blockaded in behind potent magic of some kind.
A large force of Thondrians had built up in the square. Whatever action they intended against the Councilors of Blanos, it seemed they had not taken it yet. The doors to the hall were barricaded and a war mage was hammering upon them with spells to little effect. They must have been reinforced against magical intrusion. However, with traitors among the guard, the Hall was vulnerable and it was only a matter of time until those soldiers broke into the hall and lay waste to the people inside.
Soro was familiar with the catacombs and sewers, and found them an access point. The team worked together to pick their way up under the Hall of the Council and identify a secret staircase that would take them up and into the building. Of course, the Councilors would have their secret ways in and out in case of emergency.
Appearing from behind a tapestry, the group surprised several traitors in the act of murdering their fellow guards. They put those down, and then went room-to-room, dealing with more guards. A single guard managed to run away down the hallway, and warned an advancing pair of guards leading five Thondrian soldiers toward the area.
Blix fired his last fireball to deal with the group, but the Thondrians survived the blast! The team was forced to fight them to the death and found them sturdier foes than standard city guard. The explosion caused a hubbub in the building as more Thondrians began to pour toward the area they were in.
They opened the last door in the area to find that the Councilors and two loyal guards were hiding inside. They persuaded the Councilors that they were there to help and that there was little time, and ushered them out the secret passage. Thinking quickly, Mathos created water pouring down the back of the passageway, and Blix froze it solid with blast after blast of freezing rays.
With the passage sealed, they were able to make good on their escape without immediate pursuit. The heroes and their charges took shelter in the Marble District while the Councilors removed their distinctive clothing and changed into more neutral clothing. They were watching out of the building and saw how the battle was unfolding.
For hours, lightning bolts had been cascading down out of the roiling sky, aimed at Aggo Lighthouse. They had, it was apparent, been bouncing off of defensive spells and protection charms maintained by the wizards of the University.
A single Thondrian ship advanced. Waves of fireballs arced out of the lighthouse, exploding off of a shell of energy protecting the ship. It continued to approach until suddenly the sky above the lighthouse darkened. Angry, black clouds mounted above it, reaching lower and lower. Without warning, any onlookers were momentarily blinded by the sight of not several, not even dozens, but hundreds of lightning strikes hammering the lighthouse. The crackling sound was deafening.
After the first thirty seconds of this pounding, the protections on the lighthouse had obviously failed. The attack was nevertheless sustained for a full two minutes before the lightning ceased. The silence was stark contrast.
Any magical defense protecting the harbor chain failed in that moment. Immediately, the entire length of the chain began to glow red hot. Within a minute, the links of the chain had stretched and failed and sent it sizzling into the mouth of the harbor.
With the harbor suddenly unprotected, the Thondrian ships which were maintaining some distance from the city unfurled sails and began their final approach. There would be no saving the city from tens or hundreds of thousands of soldiers entering now.
The sewers were vulnerable to search by the Thondrians, and no place in the city was safe to take them. The Grave Endeavors members recalled the cliffside hideout they raided when hunting Mazzazz. They managed to get everyone across the thoroughfare between Thondrian patrols busy securing the district, and then filtered their way across to the Dagger District.
After setting the Council up with basic accommodations, they left the hideout to find the fires across the city devouring the Sword District. They rushed home to find Ravenspire burned to the ground and no sign of their guildmates. Avoiding the scrutiny of Thondrians busy raiding other guildhouses and quelling any remaining resistance from adventurers, they found out that the members and staff of Grave Endeavors were seen escaping ahead of the advancing Thondrians and before the fires claimed the building. Mathos and Cassie bid them farewell and left to find out the fate of their own guildmates.
Arsinoe, Kitain, Taiga, Kago, Sarafia, and Gabriel for their own reasons had business in the Silk District today, and they have been watching in growing horror as the Thondrian hammer descends upon their fair city. From the west end of town, a wave of frightened fabric merchants, lesser nobles and other citizens flees from the assault on the wall. The throng of humanity presses toward the widest avenues, forcing them all into common areas that inevitably lead toward Irashti Square. Overhead, the cries of hippogriffs and griffons and the sound of lightning crackling from the wands of Thondrian battle mages keeps the people at a near panic.
Suddenly, a phalanx of hippogriff riders descends toward the square, their tight V formation showing the resolve of their training. Leading the flight is an armored warrior that raises his Scepter and a pillar of lightning and fire strikes the crowd killing men women and children without care. They fly over the heads of the fleeing people, several grabbing up individuals and then dropping them from enough height to wound or kill them.
After several passes, the square has been cleared of enough people that they can land if they choose. The armored warrior turns and leaves to the west. Looking at the angle of attack all of them determine that they mean to clear the square to land soldiers within the city. Arsinoe sees a mage upon one of the hippogriff taking a shot at him she sees Kitain across the square and calls out that the mage needs to die, then scaling a building to get a better angle to shoot. Overhearing her call Taiga and Kago join Kitain in firing at the mage. Sarafia and Gabriel attacked some of the others.
The Mage struck again and again fell from the sky sliding off his hippogriff bouncing off a building and landing on the ground. Once the mage was down the rest of the Thondian’s landed attacking swiftly striking down some civilians and moving to surround a few of the party. Taiga slew one of the soldiers and mounted his hippogriff that while unsure of what was going on didn’t buck. Working together they defeated the Thondian’s, some of the city guard invited them to fall back to the Western Garrison to help prepare for the defense of the Feduya Gate.
Gathered at the Garrison the guards requisitioned the hippogriff that Taiga had “borrowed” Kago wrote up a legal letter for quite a sum. Kitain was surprised but before he could say anything. The air shook with a sound louder than any of them had ever heard. They were shaken to their bones and thrown to the ground. After they begin to regain their senses, they found that a massive ball of smoke was rising overhead, corresponding to the Alhabra Gatehouse.
The sounds of wailing began to rise from the streets. Some people caught outside when the blast hit were wounded from debris raining down upon the city, and chunks of the gatehouse and the wall which were thrown high into the air were still falling at random, leading to fresh waves of panic as people attempted to get in under cover or pull loved ones to safety.
The Thondrians were no doubt moving into the city. They have sent their soldiers in and these streets would quickly become overrun. The western garrison was no longer a safe haven but a butcher’s yard!
They party headed out of the garrison to try to help stem the attack. A force of Soldiers moved at them with discipline and purpose. Seeing another mage in the attackers force, the party struck fast multiple arrows followed by a lighting bolt from Kitain dropped the mage and many of the soldiers. One of their sergeants charged forward and struck Kitain with a massive blow that would have dropped many of the others in a hit. Moving quickly around the soldiers the party struck them down hearing the sound of endless boots approaching they moved away headed for the Sword District.
They moved down gate street passing the prison to see bodies littered around after a large battle had been fought there. Looking for the best way home They noticed that Arsinoe had disappeared, Kitain found a note in his pouch that she had moved on using the roofs to try to reach the guild house faster. They moved into the dust district looking to find allies or at least a faster path.
Signs of battle were everywhere bodies littered on the ground and against the walls of the buildings. They can see where the beggars and poor that live in the Dust District tried to protect their home. Looking around they saw there some of the bodies fell protecting something specific. Searching they found a number of beggars, civilians and Auruk’s that had hidden themselves. Advising them to flee the party was surprised that one of the Auruk’s wore fine clothes like a merchant and stopped to tell them that Tajir the Honest One owed them a dept. She will pay them back at a less violent time.
They moved down an ally just before more Thondrians arrived. Lead by the armored warrior from Irashti Square now on foot holding a massive two-handed mace. He pointed at the party and told his solders to take them down, he had people to slaughter. They turned to charge the party as he walked in pursuit of the fleeing people.
Kitain furious that any would slay the people of the city he lived in unleashed a fireball on the entire host. After that opening blast the Thondrians fought but died unable to survive the onslaught of the angry party.
As they arrived in the Sword District they passed by the Ivory Consortium seeing that they had raised banners to Thondria, disgusted Taiga shot fire arrows into the banners. They found their way to Under Dune’s guild house, the building was damaged and it was stripped bare of nearly everything, the Massive doors to the vault stood but the walls had been shattered, tables had been used as ramps to the outside and no bodies were there. As the party moved away they passed by the ruined beggars hideout to see one of Wan Shu’s soup bowls by the trapdoor.
While they hoped that the other guild mates had survived they had no time to check. Below the city the rest of Under Dune had gathered with as much of their belongings as they had been able to save. Yuri and Warryn were healed by Archibald from his injuries he had sustained holding the door as long as he could while Rishka, Wan Shu, and Talon gathered the Guild’s goods. They all followed Wan Shu into the sewers to wait out the attack. Praying their friends would survive.
The day was sure to be won by the attacking force. Hope faded for the defenders of the city. The group looked for Raven spire to hope to hole up there until the battle ended. When they came around the corner of a large burning building. Striding down the street toward them was a familiar towering figure, His armor gleamed in the firelight holding his two-handed barbed mace in one hand blood dripping off of it. Behind him lay the bodies of a few guards and the civilians they protected. In his other hand he drug the barley struggling body of Sgt. Pierce.
Looking at them he lifted the body up and drained Peirce’s life droping the broken body to the ground. Pointing at the assembled group he growled. “Who’s next” Perhaps they couldn’t save the city but they could defeat this monster.
The battle with the Dark Knight and his two ogre allies was difficult, Taiga called upon her magic to defend her against the Knight and charged him holding his attention with her long sword. Gabriel sang her magic to strengthen the party and Sarafia sent magical strike after trike against him. Kago’s illusory double moved up to assist Taiga and confuse the knight.
While they battled the powerful foe Kitain begged a boon from the unknown. Filling with power he hurled his magic against the knight combining with the others to bring him down even as his mace smashed into Taiga and Kitain nearly bringing them down. After he fell Taiga took his reliquary in order to send a message to the Invaders that not all would bend the knee.
“The Thondrian military has decisively taken the day, and with it the city. It’s hard to know how many pockets of resistance they are still quelling, but at this point, they have brought in whole battalions of soldiers and stationed them all across the city.
Surprisingly, their soldiers have such sharp discipline that the devastation to the city has almost halted. Only the most stubborn and combative citizens are receiving anything more than a stern rebuke. All in all, their treatment of the populace can’t be said to be any worse than the city guard on a typical day.
Already, representatives of the Church of Thondirum make their way through the city, easing suffering and providing medical aid to the wounded. Savvy citizens who remember the oppressive regime of the Thondrians a decade ago warn that this is the honey they spoon on top of the hard and mealy biscuit they intend to serve, but nevertheless, frightened citizens flock to the banners of Thondirum to receive comfort.
Word spreads that the Panarch, Palimpar mor Hedrazza’han, has been sequestered in his home and is awaiting the coming of the Thondrian high priests to speak with him. He may be given the choice to convert to Thondirum and become a puppet of the Thondrian empire, and opinions of this possibility are as varied as the people of the city.
The gates to the desert, however, are barred and protected by a force of Thondrian soldiers and battle mages at all times. For the surviving adventurers, this represents the death of their days of adventure and profit in the desert. No matter how they maintain order in the city, it is said, the Sword District will never accept Thondrian rule.
The defense of the city failed, but the resistance to Thondrian rule has just begun."