After a long march through the forest, accompanied by their new moon-people allies (don’t ask, this is what happens when a group rolls all sixes all session), the legion’s scouts reach the tree-line near Fort Calisco. Behind them, they can barely see the plumes of smoke of Black Rotting Gale slowly breaking a trail for Blighter’s army. They’ve got at least a week’s lead on her. Everyone’s hopes sink, however, as they see a giant roiling lightning storm spiralling over the fortress. Breaker has bypassed the woods entirely and invested Fort Calisco closely. Their path to Skydagger is blocked.
As the scouts gather more intel, however, things look a bit less bleak. Yes, Breaker is here, and yes, the fort is besieged, but she failed to take it by surprise, and Breaker’s forces are less well suited to seigecraft than either Blighter’s or Render’s. While one of the towers is burnt out and sundered, the rest are protected by lightning rods that redirect the storm’s fury into the earth, and the heavy stone walls are impervious to wind. Arbalists and scorpions, thus protected, force Devourers to keep their distance, and the mounds of corpses in the dry mote speak to the failure of the burned and hexed to scale the walls. Witches cast curses from behind pavaises, but at long range the effects are indistinct, and the mirrored shutters on the battlements dazzle them and keep them from making eye contact with the archers on the walls. Roots and vines have crawled up the sides of the fort, trying to prise apart the blocks, but burning oil has kept them at bay.
But Breaker’s standard flies in the camp, and she surely is planning something dreadful. She won’t let Blighter take this prize if at all possible.
Most of the undead are surrounding the fortress, preventing the defenders from breaking out, and only a token force is guarding the camp. Near Breaker’s command tent, she has erected ten tall, sharpened, intricately carved poles in a circle, with a large, intricately carved, uprooted tree in the center, trunk facing the fortress’s gate. A little further along, a rude palisade holds a few hundred prisoners. Periodically, a Devourer will pick up a prisoner and drop them screaming to be impaled on one or another of the poles. Each pole has quite a stack already, though the ground is covered with the pulp of near misses. Clearly this is part of a ritual to break the gates.
Clearly, the legion needs to break the ritual.
A picked group of troops, accompanied by a Heavy, Sniper, and Alchemist, inject themselves with a serum that kills them just a little, and corrupts them a little more, but will make them appear spiritually undead. They stride into the camp, past the incurious sentries, and begin rigging the poles to blow. One soldier draws away the witches by pretending to be an incompetent zombie and ends up mildly mind-controled. Another stares too closely at the carvings on the poles and finds himself carving the symbols into his arm with his fingernails. The alchemist maybe gets a little carried away with the amount of explosive he uses.
But it’s all good and fine. They move away to the prisoner pen; part 2 of the plan is to release the prisoners. Not for any humanitarian reason, they are all clearly going to die, just to increase confusion and force Breaker to kill them outright rather than use their deaths as powerful sacrifices. The sniper uses her magical eye to identify the five hexed hiding amongst them, and uses the lightning to cover the report of her sniper rifle, and the rifles of the other troopers. The heavy and soldier quietly murder the two Burned guarding the gate. The prisoners start screaming as Hexed heads pop. Devourers vector in on the screams.
Then the acid eats through the thin metal plate separating it from the detonator, and all the charges the Alchemist has daisy-chained around the poles go off. The poles launch themselves into the air like shattering ballista bolts, and the tree trunk in the middle erupts in a shower of flame and splinters. The devourers shriek as they pass into the fireball.
Then the explosion freezes in mid detonation. All the splinters hold themselves quivering in the air. Breaker strides out, her arm outstretched, eyes burning, rowen staff crackling with dark magic. The Sniper pulls a crimson shell out of her bandolier, slices her palm open on the bullet’s razor-edged flange, loads it, and fires.
The crimson shell takes Breaker in the throat. Both she and the sniper (who has now shared a bit of her own mortality with the Broken) fall to their knees. Breaker puts her hand to her torn neck and sees living blood. She tries to scream, but has no voice. Breaker raises her staff and fires a couriscating bolt of black lightning, but the Heavy grounds his tower shield, and takes the hit for the whole squad. The explosion that Breaker had paused unpauses itself and things get very loud and covered with splinters.
Now, the Horned One, who had been hiding in the Sniper’s hood as a mouse, leaps out, transforms into a wolf, and closes with Breaker. Breaker hexes her legs out from under her, but the Horned One smoothly turns a somersaulting wolf into a flying eagle and cannons into Breaker. The squad runs. Undead converge on the ruined ritual site and Chosen/Broken duel. The main body of the Legion makes a run for the gates, riding on supply carts. A small force of cavalry, with extra horses, cuts their way through to the PC squad and they ride back together. Things get a bit messy with the supply carts getting swarmed by burned, but accurate archery from the walls keeps the witches from organizing any real resistance, and the Legion breaks through to safety.
Later, a battered, but very smug looking Horned one alights on a tower, reporting that she almost had Breaker, before they both got mobbed by devourers. And that she doesn’t think Breaker’s wound will ever heal.