Trace of Breath
The Battle for Barfield
Chapter 6 of the Quest to Free Barfield
The goblins of Harken share news of the emptying of the fortress in Marl. Angered by their rebellion, Ptolemy’s Iron Circle army marches on Tor’s Hold. Using his signet ring, Calumnior sends messages to Albridge, Tor’s Hold and Hearthelle’s Grove via goblin riders in the name of Duke Cedric. He calls them to assemble at Ilyana’s Farm to face their oppressors.
Knowing their own army is outnumbered and made up largely of peasant farmers, the Gatekeepers work hard with Dar Gremath and Karl Smith to prepare the field and their strategy. Dar and Ilyana present each of the heroes with armaments for the battle (level 7 items for all players except Calumnior). The Gatekeeper companions decide to take a reserve role, preparing to jump into the fray at key moments to turn the sway of battle.
Bright blustery winter morning, word reaches the farm that the Iron Circle has arrived. Marching up the main road with impunity, the mercenary army expects a casual slaughter of untrained and cowardly peasants. Their pace hardly pauses as they detect a band of goblins in the nearby woods, assuming they serve Ptolome as surely as their hobgoblin masters. Nor are they surprised to see the Woodsinger Elves preparing arrows and spells against them from rooftops on the far side of the river. They draw out mighty catapults to begin softening the defensive line of Tor’s Hold humans that have taken up position in front of the bridge. They are surprised at the stubborn fortifications, however, and the impressive armaments worn by these villagers.
Bringing forth light artillery in the form of crossbowmen and mages, the Iron Circle thinks to disrupt the Tor’s Hold defense, but just then the goblins launch into their ranks, spreading panic among the vulnerable wizards. At the same time, reinforcements arrive from the villagers of Albridge, whom they thought too scared to join the fight, led by Dar Gremath in a vicious charge that takes the rear catapult unit. With the commandeered heavy artillery, Dar begins to launch a valley at the remaining catapult unit, which is engaged with the goblin skirmishers. Unfamiliar with engines of war, Dar’s villagers inadvertently destroy their goblin allies, an acceptable collateral damage in the eyes of the grizzled old adventurer.
Though the battle seems to be running in the Barfielders’ favor, they are surprised by a flanking movement from a pair of Rage Drake cavalry units that have secretly maneuvered to the far side of the river. The drakes begin to scale the walls of buildings to reach the Elves who have been delayed by spell preparations. Just when it seems they will be overrun, the Barfielders reveal their secret weapon, a magical cannon powered by some mysterious religious ritual. The cannon barrels holes in the cavalry lines allowing the Elves to finish the job. The Woodsingers are unable to savor their victory, however, because the remaining catapult unit devastates their ranks with an opportune strike on their exposed position.
At this point, the Iron Circle’s main force of infantry has engaged the defensive fortifications of Tor’s Hold. The clash is brutal, and the villagers, under the command of Karl Smith defend themselves with valor, but their lack of numbers begins to tell as they are pushed to the far side of the bridge. Seeing flashes of fire among the troops, and fearing for their blacksmith friend, the Gatekeepers take the field determined to hold the Iron Circle at the river.
At the bridge, the heroes are confronted by a flying fire demon leading a band of Tieflings supported by a catapult. While they battle the blazing, swooping fiend, SID is the first to notice someone stealthily fleeing the field. Others recognize him as the self-proclaimed Sherriff, Ptolemy. A wounded Karl declares that he has stolen something pivotal to the war (a rather extreme term if he was referring to this small-scale country skirmish). When it seems Ptolemy will escape because the fire demon bars their way, Karl leaps for the creature plunging them both into the rapid waters below.
Polycarp calls a challenge to Ptolemy that “you shall see justice for the wrongful deaths of Behamut’s beloved Dale and Lily Maelstrom.” Barely noticing the names he has never spoken or heard before, the Deva rushes with supernatural speed and fells his mark. Three surprises are discovered then: