The trouble with Harry. Tom. Dick. And the dark elves.
Tyrilandi is keeping Forgeillil company, the rest are pottering about the lyrond or nearby, doing their thing according to calling.
Arutha - the twat, Carnc of Exwat - comes 'passing through' to see Forgeillil. He gives Val some excuse for his visit as giving some news on the Drow Elves possibly getting leery. He seems to have been a bit disconcerted about it all - along with the rest of the Gwathlo. Oh and something appears to have happened to Forgeillil while we were up north dealing with Deathhand (“Er, yes. But she's better now”), and where is she? (“Er, she's a bit busy”). There is some discussion about the absence/preoccupation of the Gwathlo at the time – they keep tabs on Forgeillil but nobody was able to do anything at the time. Her cousin (Gwithian) seems to have gone missing.
Some of the more politically minded decide to chase this preoccupation up. First we arrange to meet Kat (Thranduil's aunt) at some dodgy backstreet dive in Westhill. Instead we get Flik, possibly Kat's other half. They are members of a... community of like minded citizens (“A secret society? Never heard of it”) recruited by the Gwathlo from senior folks in the empire.
Some impasse in the discussion. Too many things being hidden. Thranduil starts a third tack, and starts going on about Griffins - and Flik goes slightly wide-eyed over it. More impasse. Flik claims not to know things. Expects to meet up with Kat soon, in Valuna... Tûd offers him more beer (“Mulled sir?”). He stays a bit longer. It appears a lot of Gwathlo have 'gone', leaving only those who haven't been able to due to other commitments.
It appears Orodreth might be one of the ones that have gone. And we have an excuse to thank him for the carpet and spiral teleport thing, say by bringing him some some loot. Or a chaise longue..
Back at the lyrond, a few plan to set off on the carpet with the sofa - Anar, Val, Tûd as Forgeillil's senor representative (ha ha ha), Erlini, and Thranduil “saddles” a Griffin. No, he just saddles it. On our way out a few of us (Anar is examining the carpet weave) spot a few lightly armed folks staggering around in the mountain snow. Thranduil peers more closely - they are Drow. We close and introduce ourselves formally - and they fire back, somewhat ineffectually with their small crossbows in the bright outdoors.
Tûd (98 ! + 05...) hits one solidly. Anar shockbolts another. One of the Drow shockbolts the carpet, which annoys everyone. Erlini waterbolts a third very lightly. One is left - and he's running. Thranduil on the griffin chases after him, and he changes direction for a cliff. Anar shockbolts him and knocks him over but without killing him. Whew.
We interrogate them. Enthusiastically. There is a language problem; eventually we hit on asrai that Val can speak properly and they can manage in a pidgeon form. Anar encourages truth. We dig out some answers - the Drow have been driven out of Dessivold by t'enemy white elves. Cain the power behind the throne (? previous Drow encounter) is no longer so. The Drow are driven out, and lost in the wilderness, but will prevail!!! They spit at Thranduil the elf and Val, and Thranduil dodges (220). Who did it? Is it the Gwathlo in revenge for what the Drow did to Forgeillil? Is it the Ancestral (Hillman) Avenger? Supported by the Ancestral (Hillman) Hunter?
Tûd is very keen to investigate this immediate military threat, but he's the only formal representative of the lyrond and, much to his disgust, the others prefer a social call on Orodreth first. He grumbles a lot.
We play the social call. “We brought you a sofa. How's things?” Fine. How's my niece? “They look fine”. No, I mean... “Oh I see, no she's fine. We were wondering how Gwithian is?” Oh he's down in Veluna. somewhere near the coast I think. “Oh”. Katamaya has come through and nicked a greyrobe. “Do you know anything about the Drows being driven out of Dessivold?” No idea. (But Val (200+) reckons he's probably responsible for it single handed – he must have a large cauldron collider).
On the way back, to try and stop Tûd's whining, the party goes to look at the situation around Dessivold. There's not much to see – a few tracks of Drow, probably heading off to other Drow cities, but no large groups and no large creatures. The entrance to Dessivold is quiet, there's not much to see.
We go back to the fort and share the news with the Lyrond. Tûd & Kamilata set up some more patrols and defences to watch out for scattered Drow and protect the villages. Word is passed up to the Carnc and to the Asrai elves and to the Ralstein dwarves. In setting up the right formal memos, in the library, we come across an account of the interactions between the Ralstein and the Drow:
A hundred years ago, Reolin made a pretty neat battle-axe, but the priests and king didn't like it, and refused him and he and his followers permission to build a new clan. Instead they took some women (some willing, some not) and disappeared into the depths. They were set upon and Reolin and his bride killed. Some of his men escaped as Reolin's Renegades, and still exist - now that the Drow are free might be heading towards us.
Rumour comes to us of an approaching dwarvish army.
Tûd goes to see what's going on. Introduces himself, at a suitable distance, to 80 dwarves marching in tight dwarvish order. They answer with a fuselage, no wait, a fusillade of crossbow bolts. He leaves quite quickly. On the way back his skittish horse alerts him to the army of around 40 gnolls filtering through the trees. He gallops faster; returning to the lyrond with the news. We send up aerial recce - Erlini on the carpet to the east where she finds the remaining Hant Orcs marching in, and Thranduil 'mounts his Griffin' and flies to the south, where he finds Ravon Perrins - the guv'nor - with his entire military force of... 20 ilin.
We ought to send word further up the chain to the King and other somewhat allies. We discuss methods (pigeon/raven, carpet, horse, zeppelin) until we remember we have a spiral. Word is sent spirally.
Nym brings up strange barrels of things to the top walkway. Tûd takes out some of the ilin to harass the approaching forces. Kamilata discusses how to keep dwarves out with Hagar. There's not enough of us.
So this is it. We're all going to die.
Anar heads out to Blackmoor to talk to (Calda Wier?) and meets instead with a Laronica, a Gwaithlo, who asks if she can help. Anar explains. She's fairly impressed, mostly by who we've managed to piss off, and heads off to see if she can drum up some support. Anar wonders who else might help (Ian Val? Isn't he dead? Well so what if he is?) and runs out of possibles. He heads back.
Ryz re-runs a previous spiral run to where he 'acquired' the rug. He meets a servant, who tells him all the masters are indisposed right now. He waits for someone else who might be able to help. Some time later a servant returns - Gwaithian will come when he has a moment.
Tûd and his small team (Shelbai & Chita) assess the enemy. It's not good. But at least they don't seem to be well coordinated - they may in fact not even know of each other.
Perrins reaches the lyrond with his ilin; he is nominally in charge but Kamilata 'suggests' most of it.
Laronica turns up with four assorted warriors.
Kam gets some large cauldrons. But not to collide.
The harassing team come back in, report, and head out again. Shelbai takes one of the vambraces to keep in touch with the fort. On the road, circling around to the rear of the orcs, we meet some Aerdy pirate-like folks. We do a bit of foreign talk, and eventually translate through the vambrace that they want to see Kamilata, something about being a dad. Shelbai (open ended perception) notices that one of the girls has horns, and apparently shoes fit to slightly backwards legs; she describes that over the vambrace and Ryz goes on for some time about incubii and their history.
The teleport spiral bing goes and Gwathian arrives. Val asks where he's been, Katamaya (with another girl Desil Baskin - a signarian name - and four harpies) also arrives and he goes a bit pink. We explain - gnolls! dwarves! orcs! Pirates with a goat devil! ("Pirates with a goat devil? They sound interesting"). Katamaya asks strongly that the ilin are told not to shoot the harpies. In the meantime they roost in the rafters.
Katamaya suggests Desil & Ryz get together to create some kind of ritual summoning thing (or a chillie).
The pirates (under Pierre la Sanguine) arrive at the front door. A lot of reverse french robber Monty Python (“Javais oon cadeux”. What?) hang on, you're in the castle... Kamilata is called, and they explain that they're looking for thingie's dad. The conversation (mostly, “What?”) is brought short when Pierre notices the other armies arriving and leave quickly (“Nous retournezons” or something).
The armies are all looking at each other as they turn up within siege range. Some disconcertingness as they eye each other. As they start to stand down, [?] suggests seeing if we can get the others to think one of the armies is on our side. Kam sends Hagar out to wave over the dwarves as if he's one of them. He does so, and they shoot at... each other in confusion and fumbleness. Hagar doesn't notice. On the other hand he doesn't appear to be in any danger. He shouts "You're late! Get on with it, they're over there"
The renegade dwarves roll a 66 on the encounter, so one stomps over to talk "What?" Are you up for the gnolls "What gnolls?" What are you doing here? "We're here to sack the city" What, why? "We got sent by the flying corps - the bat cavalry" aren't they all gone "yes but we uphold our honour" honour? "well we swore, not like those sneaky backstabbing ralstein dwarves. Hey aren't you..." no "oh ok" Look there's gnolls over there "What the trees?" and an army of orcs “Where?” on the other side of this fort. “Right”. The conversation fizzles out.
Erlini casts an illusion of a small crew of dwarves popping around one corner to confront the orcs, firing at them. Nym casts one of orcs running around another corner, seeing the dwarves, firing at them. He's not as good, but then, you know, he was busy, and he's a bit high. They coordinate with the ilin to fire some arrows at the dwarves to make them go clang while the illusions fire.
At the other side, behind the Hant a large vulture-like Roc breaks out the woods and swoops onto the illusionary dwarves. Val selects one of Nym's arrows and hits it solidly but it cracks on. Anar shotbolts it, it's taken a few hits and is a little stunned.
It starts to drizzle.
Val spots another Vroc in the woods and passes on the news. Ryz & his new partner look at it speculatively. Val & Anar fire again, and the vroc turns and flaps off.
Nymraith fingers the scroll of fireballs in his pocket as he continues to develop the attacking orcs theme, which the dwarves are ignoring entirely. He gives up and pegs it back over the rooftop to the real orcs side and reads his firebally scroll. 6 orcs go down (18 + few/round) not exactly in Forgeillil's major artillery league.
Hagar and the renegade dwarf have run out of verbal small talk and resort to the more normal dwarvish diplomacy. The renegade barely scratches Hagar's paint. Anar, passing by above, shockbolts him. Hagar cuts the renegade's legs out from under him in one strike. Normally he would now leave, but this is a Bolas Opportunity. He strides off casually back to the fort until the thunder of heavily armoured feet pounding the ground beneath him reaches the right level. He turns and throws... and very little happens. "I'll be back to get that later" and he sprints off. He's good at sprinting, but the dwarves behind him only just fail to catch up before he ducks through the sally port.
The ilin on the roof fire into the dwarves. Erlini turns herself into a fire elemental and leaps off the roof before it catches fire. And realises that fire elementals don't so much 'fly' as 'plummet'.
The ilin in the woods work their way around the back of the Hant, where various shambling sandestine lurk, including the vrocks. The reasoning (such as it is) by Tûd is that if we get them first, it'll save getting attacked by them when the ilin attack anyone else. Sneaking up fails mysteriously, and Tûd loses initiative. The Vroc evades and fades out - and materialises behind Tûd and tries to eat him. Two claws and a bite certainly cramp his style, the broken bones and torn muscles reducing him in competence (-70...) to a junior ilin. They escape, Tûd leaking dribbles of blood.
Erlini recovers and starts bouncing around the orcs - they retreat in good order and the other Vroc goes for her. On the walls all the range weapons focus on it, shockbolts and arrows. More pathetic critical rolls. It is a bit tatty but swoops down on the fiery Erlini. After a couple of claw swipes (Erlini is hurt, but also hot), it withdraws in disgust. She leaks dribbles of flame.
Anar fumbles his shockbolt; luckily it gives his finger a bit of a burn and mostly just goes 'fut'
(KeiKei's suggestion) Nymraith casts an illusion of Forgeillil jumping off the wall and sauntering off into the woods occupied by the gnolls. Nobody notices.
Erlini considers her options; the woods with the orcs and gnolls are damp, the dwarves are metal clad and asbestos-underweared and probably have magic weapons. She returns to her normal form and the fort.
Tûd, Chita and Shelbai find one of Tûd's caches. Once again he's a shadow of his former self. He breaks open a couple of Nym's healing potions and some medical supplies.