Averland Adventures: The Blue Reach Delta

The Fall of Redthorn

To: Berholt Eisenhauser, Captain, Imperial Roadwardens

From: Pieter Konrad, Sergeant, Imperial Roadwardens

Sir,

The infiltration of the Southern Sun Keep was successful and once we had managed to adequately alert the garrison to our presence, we spent some time to barricade a guardroom to give ourselves a small breather. We were just preparing ourselves to deal with the stairwell down that was located in the centre of the room when we heard the sound of loud clanging rising through the opening. We rushed downstairs and saw a group of guards in the middle of what appeared to have once been a kitchen and a single guard smashing at a postern gate with all his might.

The agile Dolwen leapt down the stairs drawing and firing as he went. Three shafts hummed home into the back of the gate opener in a grouping no larger than a child’s hand, pinning the unfortunate creature like a bug against the battered oak of the gate. One of the guards began to charge us and our intrepid halflings began whizzing sling stones at him. Axel’s shots scored, but Adam’s ricocheted off the floor and into the corner of the room. The twanging of a bow was heard as Erik entered the fray and I saw his shots sink home, but failed to halt the brute as he entered melee range. His swing slammed into Adam, but fortunately hit him in the head. Being as it was such a long way from anything that was important, he kept his feet and in the melee. My swing swooped in and caught him in the body, but the beast shrugged it off and kept in the fight.
The group of guards brought their own bows into play and arrows began hissing past us. Axel caught one in the leg that made him yelp as arrows buzzed by Herod as he leapt off the stairs and charged the archers. He brought his halberd down and tried his best to cut his foe in half. I honestly think he would have done it too if the beast hadn’t been wearing a large belt buckle. Pulling his halberd free in a welter of gore, he sought another target. Ekhart’s magic missile sizzled into the group of archers and removed the head of one of them in a billow of fine red mist. Adam drew his weapon and hit my opponent, but again he shrugged off the blow. Erik drew his sword as well, but his hasty strike missed entirely.

My foe took a swing at me that I parried off, but it left me out of position for his follow up which sliced into my side. I managed to drive him back with a couple of quick blows, but neither of them scored enough to do any real damage. Axel took a major blow from my foe that drove him to the ground in an unmoving heap – not awesome. Herod stepped up and drove the heel of his halberd into the centre of his chest, blasting the air from his lungs and causing him to land on his ass with a stunned look on his face. One of Ekhart’s missiles blasted in and tore the shield off of his arm. At this point we all hacked and chopped at this poor unfortunate until he finally fell to the ground, mortally wounded.

We spent a few moments catching our breath and binding our wounds. Axel recovered from his mishap much quicker than I would have expected given how hard he was hit. I heard him mutter something about “licking” and “ticking”, but I was honestly afraid to ask for clarification. Ekhart then led us to the dungeons in the hope that he would find his father. Indeed, we found Viggo Cavindel much the worse for the wear in a small cell near the back of the dungeon. He was filthy and gaunt, but unbowed and deliriously happy to see his son again. After a heartfelt reunion, he sent us on our way to complete our task as he was in no condition to aid us after two months of captivity. He reminded Ekhart of the secret stairwell to his apartments and we headed to the lord’s apartment to bring an end to Redthorn and his evil plots.

As silently as we could, we proceeded up the narrow staircase to the master’s suite. We had a short, whispered conversation about some tactical details and then we opened the concealed door and burst into the room. While Redthorn was no doubt surprised by the manner of our appearance, that was nothing compared to our shock in finding that besides Redthorn, there were four demons in the room. I found out later that they were a Bloodletter of Khorne, a Spined Devil, and two Tar Demons – not that it really mattered at the time, as I was convinced we were all going to die. Redthorn’s head swiveled to us as he picked up a massive three-headed flail as if it was weightless. Gazing at us contemptuously, he proceeded to tell us that we were rabbits in a wolf’s den. I remember thinking that if that was true, I’d be bolting the hell out of here. Raising his face to the sky, he chanted “Blood for the Blood God!” and charged towards us.

Ekhart cast a spell that manifested as a dazzling burst of light. It must have temporarily blinded our foes, as their movements became slower and more erratic – perfect timing! Both groups moved towards each other and combat was joined in earnest. Redthorn leapt towards us and swung his flail with a mighty blow. As he made contact with someone, (not me, thank Sigmar) we were all knocked backwards with an explosion of some kind of magical force. Erik managed to plant a couple of arrows into his hide, but it didn’t seem to be affecting him. Dolwen and Adam were both petrified with fear – a common fate amongst all of us on our adventure at various times. I remember once thinking that pursuing bandits was a hazardous occupation. That was before I began to encounter things that actually made you wet yourself…

We noticed that the blood from the wounds that Erik had inflicted was flowing through the air towards the Bloodletter – obviously some kind of vile Chaos sorcery was at work here. The Spined Devil shot some of its barbs at Herod with a few of them actually sticking to him. I could hear chanting from behind me as Ekhart was preparing another spell. It seemed to be taking an awfully long time, and I was hoping that the end result was worth it.

It was.

There was a bright flare of light and the sound of crackling, like a pitchy fire followed by a concussion of sound that felt and sounded something like thunder. Air rushed past us towards as I shook my head to clear my eyes and try to knock the ringing out of my head. When my vision cleared, I saw that the Bloodletter was gone! I don’t know how he did it and I really didn’t care, but there was a loud cheer from us as we pushed the battle forward. The Tar Demons were taken aback by the abrupt disappearance of their largest member, but soon recovered and charged towards Ekhart to ensure that the same thing did not happen to them. The tar demons spewed some kind of vile at him that made him hop around a little, but didn’t appear to do any lasting harm.
At this point Redthorn transferred his attention to me, much to my dismay. His flail screamed through the air as he did his level best to end my humble existence. His eagerness caused his first swing to miss entirely and I managed to take the second stroke on my shield and duck under the third – damn was he fast! There was a flurry of blows from the demons upon my companions, but I wasn’t really paying too much attention as I was focusing on staying alive.

I took a couple of tentative swings at Redthorn to get a feel for his ability and just about got my head bashed in for my trouble. I swear I could count the spikes on the flail head as it hummed by the tip of my nose. Did I mention he was really fast? He contemptuously parried off my next swing and I realized I didn’t need to spend any more time feeling him out – I was going to get my ass handed to me.

I could hear Ekhart beginning to chant in the background and saw one of the tar devils begin to make arcane gestures in reply. I could only assume he was beginning some kind of sorcerous duel with the vile beast, but again I was too engaged in keeping breathing to pay much mind to things I really didn’t understand anyways. I heard a roar of triumph as Herod literally split the spined devil in two with a mighty overhand blow of his halberd. I took another swing at Redthorn and another lightning fast riposte just about stove me in like a rotten barrel. He obviously decided he was done playing with me and proceeded to use me like a nail into a plank. I have never encountered such power and I literally felt like a child against a giant as his blow swung up under my guard and smashed me into a wall. I had no choice but to disengage and the brave Herod stepped up and took my place and managed to land the first really solid blow on Redthorn. I took a quick look around as I quaffed a healing draught to see how the rest of my friends were faring.

Dolwen was engaged with one of the tar devils. Things looked to be going his way until it managed to land some of its spew onto his leg. Hi quickly scraped it away before it ate through his armor and caused him some damage. I looked back at Herod just in time to see Redthorn land a stupendous blow that caused blood to spray out of his mouth and ears. Amazingly, he remained standing AND engaged toe-to-toe with Redthorn. Our archers rained shafts at the tar devil engaged with Dolwen with Adam hitting it twice and causing it to turn away. Erik took advantage of its position by putting an arrow right through both ears and dropping it in a heap. I pulled both my pistols and blasted away at Redthorn. Once the cloud cleared, it didn’t appear that I’d had any effect. I’d like to think that it was because he was impervious to my shots, but it’s more likely because I was shaking so bad that I couldn’t have hit the broad side of a barn with a bucket of wheat. I pulled another brace of pistols braced of pistols just as Ekhart’s spell finished and the remaining tar devil was banished into whatever demonic place it came from, leaving Redthorn alone to face our fury. I have to tell you, he didn’t look particularly worried…
Freed to engage, we all began hammering away at Redthorn with everything we had – arrows, sling stones, bullets, magic darts. I think I even saw Axel throwing candlesticks and a leftover chicken leg, but that could have been my imagination as I was still pretty punchy. Regardless of what went his way, very little of it did a damn thing beyond spalling his armor and sending snarling ricochets around the room. The next few moments were an appalling exercise in futility. The dark gods were looking out for their champion as he managed to dodge, block, parry, or shrug off just about everything we threw at him.

Herod and I were in hand-to-hand combat and the rest of our group was firing missiles as fast as they could sling or loose. Shockingly, there were no friendly fire incidents, which was bloody amazing given the sheer volume of fire homing in on our little dance. Redthorn’s luck ran out as a sling stone impacted on the center of his chest with a meaty thud, the force actually staggering him backwards. Herod and I pressed forward, but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. I saw an elven fletched arrow sprout from Redthorn’s left shoulder, a solid hit by Dolwen. Again, the mace came roaring in at me and I managed to avoid the first two blows, but the third hammered home and staggered me badly. Both Herod and I landed solid hits, but it was like hacking at a granite boulder and I was seriously beginning to doubt the that there would be a positive end to this battle – at least from our point of view.

Adam, Dolwen, and Ekhart all landed solid hits which was a good thing as Herod and I were having absolutely no luck getting anything through to this red-clad behemoth. I remember seeing Herod take a swing at Redthorn and then a lighting fast reply with the flail that knocked him on his ass. I don’t remember what happened next, but apparently it was my turn to get beat on as the next thing I remember was being upside down in a corner with grit in my eye and blood in my mouth. Staggering to my feet with a groan, I looked up just in time to see one of Dolwen’s arrows fly up Redthorn’s right nostril, punching through his helmet and leaving the barbed shaft standing a hand’s width beyond the back of his skull. Redthorn’s eye’s crossed and he slowly toppled forward like a felled oak and crashed into the floor with a thunderous boom.

Panting for breath, we all looked at each other in disbelief. Axel looked at me with a grin and said, “OK, that was the most awesome not-awesome thing I’ve ever seen!” I just shook my head (gently, I might add because everything in my body hurt) and started to reload my pistols. Avoiding Redthorn’s body, we began to search the room for information about where he had come from and what his ultimate agenda might have been. The only thing of interest was a letter from a Lord Vehnyk tasking Redthorn to begin searching for a specific gemstone in the Border Princes, but that was a problem for another time.

We met little resistance as we worked our way towards the main gate and opened them to allow our allies into the keep. The rest was details – clearing the castle, dealing with the prisoners, and doing our best to repair the damage done to our homes and farms. For now, we are just recovering our strength and reprovisioning for our next journey. We’re all of the opinion that this Lord Vehnyk needs to be found and prevented from doing whatever it is he’s trying to do. We’ll be leaving in a few days and I’ll try to keep you up to date on what happens so you can keep the appropriate authorities in the Empire apprised of the situation. My gut is telling me that this could be the beginning of something really bad what with the armies of Chaos Dwarves and Beastmen still in play and an unknown force manipulating these forces for its own nefarious purposes.

Farewell and may Sigmar guide you and keep you safe.

Comments

Fantastic! Suitably epic as the tale’s end was. Thanks for taking the time to finish this off. I’ll try and write up the epilogue within the week.

PS. Candlesticks and a chicken leg…priceless!

The Fall of Redthorn
MarkMac

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