More Adventures of Zora's Legion: Skydagger Keep!

Well, we’ve made it, everyone. The Legion reached Skydagger Keep. It was nerve-wracking there for a bit with our losing a few players, and occasional life-stuff doing what it does to plans. But even down to three players, we still had enough for the core command staff (and the responsibilities of the five command staff divyed up by the end – a deliberate choice to maintain established narrative continuity). I’m proud to say we all stuck it out like legionnaires! And it was a blast!

Without further ado, here we go:

15th Mission

Back at Camp

When Oysingra finally awakens, she dabs the Zemyati blood-runes off her face and body. She seems clear-headed and sane, though she remarks how strange it is now to hold the Legion as family, when once they served the mad Emperor who cursed her. The squad spends a few days at the monastery letting her recover from her ordeal before setting out back down the mountain.

By that time, the Owls are certain the Legion has cleared the Maw by now – at least they hope that’s the case – and so make preparations to cross the mountains to reach Skydagger instead of backtracking down to the Maw, hoping to beat Render’s forces. To aid them in their journey, the elder asetic sends the silent Zemyati monk with them (the one who had met the squad at the temple gates). He tells them that the monk is the temple’s best hunter, and knows the mountain trails well, and that he will also accompany them to Skydagger to provide aid to Zora in her fight against the Broken.

On their way down the mountain, one of the squaddies asks Oysingra if she’s still Chosen. She remarks she used the last of the power invested in her by the Living God to banish the Dar shadow, but perhaps not quite all of it. She also says, though, that she can feel she is dying, but doesn’t know how much time she has left. It may be days, or years. It’s sobering for the squad, but Oysingra doesn’t seem bothered.

Elsewhere, the main force of the Legion has finally cleared the Maw, and the Quartermaster calls for a brief respite and liberty (such as it is), breaking out the last few casks of The Good Stuff, as well as giving the medics time to set up their tents and proper surgeries for the wounded. His mind is already at Skydagger, and the Legion’s laborers and alchemists are left without any more direction than “rest yourselves for the trial ahead.”

The Owls meet the Legion when they reach Skydagger, and help unload supplies and settle in…for the Cinder King’s armies are on their heels. It is only a few hours from the moment the Legion arrives before the gray winter clouds turn black with threatening storms, a sign Breaker is on her way, and the distant thunder of the hooves and feet of Render’s forces echo up to Skydagger as the weight of his army marches towards the mountain keep.

What remains of the command staff meets to discuss shoring up the keep and how best to hold the Broken at bay. The Marshal realizes there aren’t enough personnel in the squads to achieve all the Legion’s objectives, and that their most experienced legionnaires need to be harnessed for particularly dangerous tasks…but are scattered throughout the squads.

Especially now as the Ghost Owl’s Corporal, upon reporting back, reveals he’s taken up apprenticeship under the Legion’s current and more-experienced Medic, and is thus resigning his position with the Owls. The Legion’s rules regarding medical staffing and the rights of medical officers are hard-set, and there’s nothing they can do to make him stay on in his position with the Ghost Owls.

Worse, when the first round of reassignments are made, cracks appear in squad leadership that threaten cohesion…one of the new Grinning Ravens refuses to serve under their existing corporal, due to a family conflict arising from labyrinthine Orite politics. So in an effort to prevent serious problems in the field, the Marshal removes the current Corporal and replaces them with a more experienced Ghost Owl – a Zemyati advocated for by the Ravens’ Panyar. The replacement is embarrassing and infuriating to the former corporal, and she is shifted to the Ghost Owls in return, to serve as their corporal for the outgoing apprentice Medic. The Ghost Owls are a squad of experienced soldiers, however, and there is grumbling that their new corporal is wet-behind-the-ears.

The Marshal manages to stave this off in the field by sending their old Corporal, as a newly-minted Medic, along with them to “keep an eye on things.”

By the end of the reshuffling process, the Silver Stags are left with a single member, green-and-fresh to the Legion. Without a real squad, he ends up playing gopher for and between the other squads, command staff, and Legion’s auxiliary personnel.

The legion’s original Heavy and the newly reformed Star Vipers are assigned to helping the laborers with shoring up the keep’s defenses. Luckily, the Spymaster’s network has scouted the area for a source of timber and stone, and managed to get word east where they have blackmailed an Orite merchant into leaving supplies and materials at the keep, ahead of the Legion’s arrival. The Heavy directs the squad and the laborers in clearing timber and hauling it up the pass before the Broken’s armies arrive, hoping the vanguard can be held back long enough for them to finish.


It wasn’t certain if the R&R action, which restores Morale to the Legion, would give the Quartermaster an extra action if it increased Morale to a higher level (from 7, with 1 free action, to 9 with 2 free actions) during his actions. I ruled it did.

The Spymaster wasn’t able to complete the Lay Trap action, unfortunately. However, they used both Interrogate – which I allowed to apply to every mission here at Skydagger – and Blackmail, which I allowed use of for the first roll of the Long Term Project regarding the gates-and-ramparts (I know that normally it is supposed to be for an existing LTP by the Quartermaster before the Legion moves out, but it fit, there were no LTPs in progress, and I liked the creativity of the idea).

Holding the Lower Pass

Moon-Crown Medic and the Sniper are sent out with the Grinning Ravens under their new Corporal to hold the lower pass as long as possible against Ache and his vanguard of Black Oak calvary. They’ve come loaded for bear, looking as if they’re determined to simply hold the pass with blood and steel. That, unknown to the squad’s new corporal, isn’t actually the plan…

Ache hates (and fears) the Medic due to what happened at Barrak Mines, and has sworn to see the Raven’s new corporal dead for daring to get in his way at that time. So when the squad finds a point where the lower pass narrows significantly, the Medic plants a flag of truce and tells the corporal to get Ache talking. Meanwhile, the Sniper has climbed the cliff to find a nice spot to set up a sniper’s nest, and sent the rest of the Ravens into hiding among the rocks and brush.

When Ache’s vanguard appears, the corporal and Medic call them out, demanding to speak to Ache, that they have a proposition for him…and manage to convince him to meet with them instead of simply attacking. But do not convince him to leave his personal guard behind – a few mounted Black Oak leading some Hounds. The squad quite literally holds their breath, to keep the Hounds from noticing them, while the Medic and corporal talk.

The Medic produces the head of the Shadow Witch they had captured and then killed at Fort Calisco, and recites a vague-but-poignant “prophecy” she has spent the better part of her free time since Gallow’s Pass making up, relying on painstaking research of Ache’s own personal history. Then she makes Ache an offer: they’ll give him this oracle, which can tell him exactly when and how he will die (the one thing they know he fears), if he does not kill the two of them and takes his troops and leaves. The Medic hints he will be killed in this battle somehow, if he doesn’t take their offer.

The rest of the squad is now desperately trying to continue holding their breath, so as not to blow the plan.

The corporal still naively believes the Black Oak have a sense of honor and fair play, and is unfortunately about to be proved wrong. Ache proves only too happy to take the deal, taking out Lady Tsaga’s emaciated head and crushing it underfoot, then stuffing the Shadow Witch’s into his chest-cavity. The half-armored giant grins inside his helm and points at the Medic, saying “you, witch, may go, but I have pledged to gut this boy” and lifts his out-sized cleaver.

The Medic, unperturbed, demands that if there is to be an honor-duel, then the other Black Oak rejoin his troops in preparation for their leaving. Ache waves them back to the rest of his forces while the two Zemyati carefully circle one another. (WHEW says the squad.) The Medic quietly backs away, slowly dropping behind cover, shouting encouragement to the corporal.

The two warriors land a couple of blows on each other, both to little effect thanks to their heavy armor, and with the corporal fighting carefully and defensively against this monster. Above, the Sniper is continuing to keep a bead on Ache’s chest, waiting…

…because the plan here wasn’t really to fight Ache and the vanguard or trick them into leaving, the plan was to blow them up. Unknown to the corporal, the Sniper and the Medic had rigged up a bomb and placed it inside the decapitated head Ache just stuck inside his own chest. A bomb which is activated by contact with cinder blood. The only part of their plan they aren’t sure about is how long it will take for the bomb to blow.

The Sniper is the back-up plan: if it takes too long, they’ll try activating it by making sure cinder blood gets spattered all over it.

Uncertain how long the corporal could hold out on his own, and not being Zemyati and thus not having a sense of “fair play” when it comes to honor-duels, the Medic has told her shadow to give the witch’s head a message for Ache: “it is too late, death comes, you have already taken the act that dooms you.” The shadow enjoys giving messages of doom and despair, and was only too happy to comply, so when the witch head whispers its message to Ache, he stops in mid-blow, suddenly terrified, and stumbles back staring down at his chest.

The bomb works a little better than expected. Well, a lot better than expected. Ache’s torso disintegrates, and the rest of him doesn’t fare much better. Fragments of bone and shards of armor embed themselves in the corporal’s shield (luckily raised) and armor, and he is thrown to the ground and sorely banged up by the concussive force.

The giant warrior’s helmed head bounces to a stop near the Medic, who grabs it, gleefully holds it up for the Black Oak to see, and quips, “Whew! That’s a head-Ache!” (Our Medic, ladies-and-gentlemen.)

The Black Oak are caught off guard, but not demoralized – at least not until a shot rings out and Ache’s second, in the midst of giving orders to advance, is knocked, dead, off his horse by the Sniper. Followed immediately by a volley from the hidden Ravens. While it doesn’t cause much injury, it’s enough to sow confusion and another of the Black Oak calls for retreat and regroup.

While this causes somewhat of a delay, it isn’t for long, and the Black Oak move forward once more…only to walk into the rest of the now “retreating” Ravens’ trap. The lower pass has been strategically mined, and the Ravens are very good at leading the Black Oak troops right into them. Time-and-again. Eventually, the Black Oak wise-up and call up packs of Gaunt to use as mine-tripping fodder, but the Ravens’ plan proves so formidable that it has slowed the advance and forced the army to redirect resources from scouring the nearby mountains.


We were all amused that everyone looked at each other and said “Go Heavy” for Load at the start, and then it turned into a completely different mission involving subterfuge and deceit. Plus the central elements of this mission were actually high-stress flashbacks. The ‘prophecy’ to lure Ache in? Flashback. The shadow witch head? Flashback. Hiding the bomb in the head? Flashback. Mining the pass? Flashback.

And they kept crit’ing these rolls. “Let’s make a bomb. I think the trigger should be cinder blood. The alchemists have some knowledge of it, right, because of their work making the Fire Hearts?” “OK! So…yes, the QM is willing to hand out the supplies. Rig?..So, yes, you can make such a thing and your bomb will go boom.” “Let’s roll to see how long it takes to go off and just how deadly the explosion…ah. Well. That’ll just do it.” “We should have made more explosives, too, to mine the pass. FLASHBACK to the Legion’s summer camp bomb-making activity!” “OK, group Wreck? MULTIPLE crits? So they’re…really good, and there’s a lot of them.” “I think we know how we hold the lower pass!”

This also resulted in the fictional truth: “Clearly, our Sniper is also a master explosives expert.”

So…ultimately, the Grinning Ravens came loaded for bear, and then just lied and manipulated their way to victory.

Oh, I should also mention that the Grinning Ravens started in a Controlled position, and had been fully outfitted by the Quartermaster (the Legion had collected a lot of Assets, so the QM went all-out on all these missions, spending every resource either down to nothing or pretty nearly by the end). The Legion had no Intel left, but did have the bonus question from Interrogate.

Finally, we had a fairly late start this time – real-life issues intruded – and did not have enough time to do any of the other missions. We decided to save them for the following week and cut early after getting some book-keeping decisions out-of-the-way: mainly, who was going on which missions and what intel did we have about each.

We were able to get through the remaining Skydagger missions during this game, though we pushed the game a bit later than normal to do it because we didn’t want to lose momentum.

Back at Skydagger

With the necessary supplies gathered as the Ravens hold the lower pass, the Legion’s original Heavy continues to co-ordinate the efforts of the Vipers and the Legion’s laborers in reinforcing the walls and gates and repairing damage caused by long-neglect. The huge Zemyati bellowing at and inspiring everyone causes the work to be finished well-ahead of schedule, with exhausted-but-proud cheers. None-the-less, the Heavy feels there is more that can be done to ensure the keep can withstand the coming assault and wintering-over the Legion will have to endure once the snows begin to fall.

Delaying the Main Force

In the mountains above the Keep, the Ghost Owls, led by the Legion’s original Scout (who has never been a great leader) and the new Medic (the Marshal’s solution to discontent in the Owls about their new corporal – send their old corporal along), and clad in winter camo gear, make their way as swiftly as possible across the cliffs and through the narrow passes. They’re almost spotted by a Devourer wheeling overhead, but it turns and flies away to deal with other more immediate problems.

The Marshal forgot to roll the additional die I’d given them for this mission due to the crits by the Grinning Ravens providing a huge distraction below. So I said to roll it now. It thankfully moved them from Desperate to Risky.

Unfortunately, the Scout’s maps of the area turn out to be out-dated – and it’s difficult to see through the snow that’s starting to fall, heralding the coming storm – and she leads them in almost a circle to a seemingly uncross-able dead-fall. Their chances of being spotted while back-tracking are pretty bad – there are Devourers they keep ducking, and they can hear the echoes of deeply disturbing howls. It turns out to be the squad’s new corporal who finds a route over and around the problematic area. Even more compelling and impressive, she manages to lead them carefully, albeit slowly, across an icy cliff-side – taking the lead by clambering out and running pitons and ropes. To the frustration of the Scout.

However, this takes so long that there are Hounds hot on their tail. The new Medic comes to the rescue, quickly putting together mixtures of Deep for the whole squad – without their breath to track them, the Hounds lose the scent of the squad. Providing the Owls some…breathing room (cough) to reach their target area to start an avalanche right above the main army’s heads.

The Deep almost lasts long enough. The squad ends up stymied by a deep crevasse, and they can hear more Hounds closing in again. Worse, they hear the pain-bringing howls of Eater, which almost cause the squad to break…but the Owls aren’t about to crack so close to their goal. With an application of tonic to his ears to numb them, the Medic keeps out the worst of the mind-tearing voices.

Eater’s close. Too close for comfort. The Scout glances around, tells the squad to get it done, and rushes away to try and create a distraction. The Medic throws her one last Deep before she leaves and tells her to be careful. The Legion never learns what happens to their Scout, as they never see her again and she doesn’t make it back to Skydagger…but the Hounds never catch up to them before they can cross the chasm.

The new corporal once again saves the squad’s butts: rather than needing to scout up and down the mountainside for a way across the chasm, she notices a ledge almost directly beneath that they can easily drop on to, allowing easy access to the other side (with minimal climbing required). The help each other across, and up, set their charges, and vacate the area (thankfully, one of the squaddies is even a demolitions expert). So the Scout must have succeeded…

…what happens to our brave Scout? She runs away from the squad, shouting and breathing heavily, up the mountain-side towards the Hounds and the horrible thing called Eater running with the pack – it’s barely human, swollen and twisted, wrapped in chains and spikes. While she is hoping to find a protected area to make a stand, there is nothing on the barren peak near enough, so she makes her stand near the edge of the crevasse, drawing the pack in.

Except for Eater. Too clever to fall for her ruse, he rushes past, charging down the mountain towards the others. Luckily, the Scout has brought along one of the net-guns the Legion developed to deal with the Devourers…and hopes it will be as effective against Eater. At least enough to delay him for the squad to do what they need. It tangles in the thing’s legs, bringing it down temporarily as the other Hounds continue to rush at her from all sides.

She is then barely able to down the Deep before the other Hounds tear her apart. The sudden lack of living breath confuses them momentarily…long enough for her to throw her supplies and some equipment near-to and over the edge of the crevasse, the noise attracting the Hound’s attention as she otherwise holds perfectly still. They hunt blindly around the crevasse and sniff ineffectually. Though the Scout eventually manages to quietly break away, she’s trapped outside Skydagger and being hunted by Eater.

During the winter, there are whispers of a lone legionnaire trapped behind enemy lines up in the mountains, performing daring ambushes and raids on the enemy, but that might just be typical Legion gossip and tale-telling to maintain morale through the cold months trapped inside the Keep.


Even though there were physical dangers and enemies here, I ran this differently because it wasn’t an assault-type mission. We decided the real obstacle on the mission was avoiding detection: if the squad made it to the target area without being noticed, the mission was a success. If they didn’t (and it almost wasn’t), it was a failure. I started two clocks: one for arriving at the area, the second for being detected. Whichever filled first was the result.

The squad’s final roll – which did double duty in terms of crossing the chasm and getting the explosives placed – was a crit. So boom and escape. It was close, though.

The new Medic brought an alchemical bandolier with. We discussed it and ruled before setting out that the use of Doctor would provide enough of an alchemical mixture for the whole squad, rather than just one use as normal. So the use of Deep was their saving grace because it delayed a roll on the Discovered clock (as did then the Scout’s selfless heroics).

Another clever thing was the Medic’s use of tonic to block the noise of Eater’s howls, instead of relying on a Resistance roll. Which worked because we decided they had an anesthetic effect: it numbed his ears enough to interfere with his hearing.

As for the Scout, the use of Scrounge, the Ghost special ability, and being a Panyar traveler – plus the Deep – were their saving grace here: it just made sense that she would find a way out of that situation. We don’t really know what happens to her, though. Only that she managed to escape the Hounds for the moment.

It was an interesting ending to the story for the Scout, being that she’s always been a wild card with a preference of working alone. This, BTW, was a part of a Devil’s Bargain: “she doesn’t make it back to Skydagger.”

We actually forgot to use the Interrogate and Intel questions here before the squad set out. Oops. The players remembered in the middle of the mission, and I allowed a free Flashback for it, but they couldn’t think of a decent question to ask, so we just skipped it anyways!

Back at Skydagger

The Heavy runs drills for the Vipers, and the laborers, on what to do if the walls are breached, what happens if there’s fires or other events, and where the strong-points and weak-points of the Keep are against which undead. He’s satisfied the walls and gates will once they successfully demonstrate enough proficiency and tell them to get some rest before the main force shows up: they’ll need their strength.

Setting Up the Siege Weapons

While the Ravens work to hold the lower pass, and the Owls move to drop a mountain of snow on the Cinder King’s main force, the Ember Wolves, led by the Officer and Oysingra, disassemble the siege weapons to transport them through the old tunnels. Luckily, there’s enough space to load them onto carts for horses to pull, and to ride through and pull them up to the protected ledges where they’ll be positioned. They just don’t know what might be waiting for them in the tunnels, though they know they’re going to have to keep the Devourers off the squad while they put the weapons back together and check their range.

Unfortunately, the squad is set upon by large mountain snakes, the giant, white, furred variety, who have turned the long-abandoned tunnels into a nest. They’re bigger than a full-grown adult, and have mouths full of razor-sharp fangs. They don’t attack at first, just hiss and snap, seemingly warning off the squad…but the squad has to get through.

The cavalry Soldier charges them on horseback, leaping through and over. But the snakes are fast, and while he makes it, tumbling off and rolling down into the snakes’ coiled tails, his horse is not so lucky. Led by the Officer, the squad rushes forward, stabbing and attacking, the Officer blowing a high-pitched (almost silent) whistle in an attempt to distract the animals, hoping it works on them the way it works on dogs. The cavalry Soldier manages to ram his lance through one of the snake’s heads, pinning the beast to the wall – though the force is such that the lance is stuck (for the sake of expediency, he decides to retrieve it later). Confronted on two sides, the squad makes quick work of the two remaining snakes.

Luckily, the rest of the tunnels are clear of any dangers and they continue up to the siege emplacements, the tunnels are shaped to rise towards them like a curving ramp.

The moment the squad emerges with the wagons, Devourers swoop down to attack. The emaciated bird-bats attempt to carry grab and carry off anyone they can grasp. The squad quickly spins one of the carts with the field canons and desperately opens fire, trying to drive them off. It works momentarily – long enough for the Officer and Oysingra to get into defensive positions to hold off the flying creatures while the rest of the squad works to get the siege weapons set up properly.

Both are nearly dragged over and off the edge of the cliff, but manage to fight them off and free themselves, though Oysingra is buffeted into a wall by her attacker’s wings and momentarily stunned. In response, she raises her hands and calls upon her remaining connection to the Living God, unleashing a powerful blast of lightning into the cloud of Devourers attacking them. The bolt catches and burns through a number of the beasts, and they are sent spiraling down in flames into the pass below.

Under the direction of the Officer, it’s enough to allow the squad to finish getting their clockwork ballista set-up to participate in the defense of the ledges. Which, with Oysingra and a couple of the squad members stabbing at any of the beasts who venture too close, allows the breathing room to finish getting the other weapons set up.


This was a pretty straight-forward mission. The only thing the squad had to do was get the siege weapons set-up before they were overwhelmed by Devourers was the task. They didn’t have to kill them, just keep them off the squad. So getting the weapons re-assembled and set was the clock here, against squad injuries and deaths.

The Second Wave

While all this is happening, a force of Gaunt and Black Oak pikemen, led by Mihkin, the Dark General, has managed to break through the Raven’s line and make a line for the Keep. But thanks to Pavel and the Vipers, they reach it too late to gain any advantage from its former state, and they find the Blazing Lions gleefully waiting for them. Pitt Heavy and the Legion’s new Scout, from the mountain temple, are in charge of the wall’s defenses.

With everything on the line, the Quartermaster – though he’d sworn otherwise – equips the Lions with everything he has left. A moment of understanding passes between them: he still doesn’t like them, and it doesn’t change anything, but the stakes are beyond all their petty concerns. The Legion holds here or they all die. He even gives them the Legion’s relics: the Scout takes the Lightning Chain, and the most experienced Soldier takes the Circlet of the Elder Karl.

Zora tells the Legion to hold the walls at all costs and rides out, shouting a challenge to the Dark General, her sword blazing with blue flames and one-pointed crown of fire glowing brightly above her head. The Dark General eagerly and self-assuredly accepts her challenge and the Black Oak pikemen and Gaunt move past them both to begin their attack while the two battle.

The Gaunt move first, their force pressing hard into the recently reinforced gate, trying to break it down with the sheer weight of their numbers. Luckily for the Legion, these aren’t the well-armored Gaunt the Legion faced at Ettenmark. Thanks to their efforts in Karlsburg, shutting down Render’s ever-burning forge, these are not so well-protected that blackshot can’t make short work of them. Their forces in trouble, the Black Oak pike call them to retreat.

Behind them, the Legion can make out Zora and Mihkin circling one another in their honor-duel, mutually casting at one another the worst insults known to Zemyati, and trading cautious blows as they test one-another’s defenses.

The Legion guesses what the Black Oak’s next strategy of attack is and decide to throw a serious wrench into the works. They immediately rush down off the walls and saddle-up, throw open the gates and charge out. They catch the horde of Gaunt before the undead can split into two forces, and get into position to rush the walls. Behind them, the well-armored pikemen were preparing to assault the gate with battering rams.

The Gaunt are caught off-guard, in the midst of spreading out to change formation – perfect for a cavalry charge – and the Gaunt are decimated. The Legion’s horses trample and crush those that don’t fall to the Lions’ furious, brutal application of lance, sword, and musket. Particularly their Heavy, who moves through the enemy like a force of nature. Then the squad turns to face the now surrounded Black Oak – a much thornier problem. They have fallen into a potent defensive formation: circling and putting up a shield wall guarded by jutting pikes.

But the Legion also notices the duel below between Zora and the Dark General has taken a bad turn. The Dark General has forced Zora to her knees, sword held above her defensively. They can see it is all she can do to protect herself from the rain of blows he is hammering her down with. It doesn’t look like she can last much longer. Without any further thought, the circlet-bearing Soldier leads the squad in a charge down the hill towards the dueling pair, right around and past the bristling circle of Black Oak, leaving the Heavy and the Scout behind.

(Luckily, the Lions aren’t Zemyati and think nothing of interfering in an honor-duel.)

The Black Oak think this is an opportunity – particularly an opportunity to take the head of one of them most hated enemies, the Heavy, and earn glory among their fellows. They start breaking formation to rush the two remaining legionnaires.

The Heavy just grins and pulls out his alembic of Fire Oil, hurling it at them, while the Scout raises his arm – wrapped in the Lightning Chain – and summons bolts of lightning from the sky. The Fire Oil causes chaos, and the Black Oak’s armor and close-knit formation prove a very conductive disadvantage instead. Most of the Black Oak are literally cooked in their armor, badly shocked, or knocked unconscious by the concussive blast. Others are desperately tearing off their burning armor or rolling on the ground, ineffectually trying to put it out.

The Heavy grins and joyfully charges into the broken formation, crushing heads, shattering bones, and further scattering the survivors. Their morale breaks. The Scout, unfortunately, has been surrounded by another group of pikemen, and is being stabbed and slashed at – the Black Oak are deliberately preventing him another chance to use the Lightning Chain on them. Yet, with an almost mystical ability, he is ducking and twisting away from the majority of their strikes. Not all. He’s bleeding and injured.

But as much as they’ve been harrying him and trying to corner him, he’s been leading them this entire time, getting them to cluster to one side once again, and when there’s a brief opening, he has just enough time to call down the lightning again! The few survivors begin to stagger away.

Meanwhile, the Lions and the circlet-wearing Soldier have been keeping the Dark General away from Zora, charging past him from multiple angles, forcing him to guard his flanks, trying to keep him from any opportunity to attack the Chosen. They’re desperately trying to give Zora time to recover. Circlet Soldier keeps attacking Mihkin, surprising the Lieutenant with his ability to fight him on equal terms, and taking blows Mihkin knows would have cut down anyone else, even shattering his armor and crushing his shield. But, finally, the Dark General has a brief enough respite to attack the exhausted Zora, and hurls his blackened lance at her with deadly precision and dark strength…only to have one of the squad’s Rookies dive in the way, impaling herself to protect their Chosen.

With the pikemen defeated, the Heavy is charging downhill towards the squad and Zora, and calling out orders for everyone to form up. As he does so, he calls upon the power of Zora coursing through his blood, drawing out the flame…as then do the other Lions while Zora finally struggles back to her feet and raises her flaming blade. Snarling and roaring, the entire squad and the Heavy – accompanied by Zora – lay into Mihkin, shattering his armor with superhuman strikes, rending his helmet, and driving him bloodied and ruined to the ground.

The Dark General begs for mercy, but Circlet Soldier simply grabs him and viciously pours his own alembic of fire oil down Mihkin’s throat, screaming “That’s what traitors get!” There’s little more than a smoking ruin and blackened skull left of the leader of Render’s forces.


Obviously, taking care of the forces assaulting the wall before Zora fell was the main point. The players decided, however, they just weren’t going to lose their Chosen and the squad abandoned that clocks half-way through (or rather, left the Specialists to deal with it…it could have gone very badly).

Group Maneuver and Skirmish to deal with the Gaunt, with multiple crits, was enough to clear the undead and finish them. GO LIONS! It did get a little dicey against the Black Oak in the middle of the mission, but the Lightning Chain and the Circlet won this mission for the squad.

I mean, come on: Fire Oil is Threat 3, and lightning by itself is pretty brutal, but a bunch of guys clustered into a group, carrying what are essentially a bunch of lightning rods and wearing microwave ovens? Yeah, It didn’t even matter how many of them there were, it was obvious they were just done at that point.

The last charge against Mihkin also went really well, and the squad went all-out in terms of Pushing, set-up, and using their other resources, plus they’d survived long enough to give Zora time to recover so she could join in. So the Dark General was surrounded by a bunch of supernaturally strong, angry warriors, plus their Chosen and a brutal Heavy, and wounded both from the duel with Zora and fending off the Lions: the rolls went well and the fictional position they had on him…

Heck, I was throwing pre-emptive Resistance rolls at the squad because they were facing an overwhelming force and a Threat 4 Lieutenant, and it was just going their way. They were burning through Stress and Corruption to pull all this off.

The Soldier used enough Stress on their last action to Trauma…and he took Vicious. So what he did was just such an appropriate conclusion – plus with his wearing the Circlet and using Fire-Heart? There’s also got to be something more that happens there. The Medic’s Trauma while wearing the Circlet was Haunted and so she got a cruel, shadowy twin. If there was more game left to play, the Soldier would definitely be suffering something crazy.

Plus, Heart of Heroes for the win. Narratively. I’m always impressed by my players deciding they’re going to go in to situations or up against enemies that are…not smart to confront alone. And to come out of it relatively unscathed. I mean, really, “I’m going to bring a pack of Hounds and Eater down on my head” is just one more example of this. As is, “Sure, I stand and confront Ache alone. This is about my honor as a Zemyati!” And while no one confronted Mihkin alone, the General did dish out some serious injuries, which the Soldier took to protect the squad, and was only able to pull it off because of the Circlet.

The Last Wave

As the Lions finish off the Dark General, the Ravens are retreating up the pass and join them in heading back into the Keep. The Owls have made it back, the Vipers are rested and manning the walls, and the Ember Wolves are entrenched with the siege weapons above, waiting for the enemy’s main forces they can see swarming up the pass below. The winds are getting stronger, a winter blizzard is moving in and strange lightning is streaking through the sky.

It isn’t long before Breaker rides in with the storm atop Silver, while Irag attempts to command Render’s demoralized forces – but their Broken is buried in the mountains, their head scout is slain, their General and leader of the Black Oak is dead, and the Legion has beaten them at every turn. The walls hold against the assault, the Legion’s supply of blackshot is practically endless (though they used up the last of their fire oil), and their siege weapons (particularly the self-reloading Orite ballista) decimate anything that gets too close.

My thinking is that with the Lightning Chain grounding every strike Breaker throws at the walls, her forces seriously compromised and weakened by the internal war against the Hag, and half of the Cinder King’s ground forces still trying to dig themselves out of the snow, when the blizzard finally rolls in a few days later and buries the pass, the undead armies are forced to abandon their position and camp out in the valley below until Spring. I also think the Legion sends one of their spies on ahead to the Eastern Kingdoms to inform them of the situation, but they won’t hear back from them, either, until Spring.


The final roll for the game was a 6, on IIRC six dice. We were hoping for a crit, but sadly it did not happen. Still, the Legion pulls off a stunning victory and easily holds Skydagger Keep until Spring. The final tally was an impressive 240. We have a pretty long List of the Fallen, though, including two of the command staff (though, technically, one is simply MIA). In total, what amounted to just over 3 full squads.

We also had a post-action discussion also about the game and how we felt it went and how it all turned out. The unanimous consensus was “Awesome.”

End of Book One