Having decided to head off the secret Peruvian force trying to flank Yeoria’s army by sneaking through Oriv Pass, you must travel nearly 200 to the southeast with extreme speed. The Peruvians have doubtless already mobilized, but armies travel more slowly into mountains than a few horseriders can across the roads of Yeoria. At breakneck speed you could ride it in 3 days, but your mounts would be exhausted or worse before the end. To solve the problem, you get fresh horses every half day or so with your normal mounts following alongside.
Although he could simply commandeer them, Prince Rinvolin has avoided doing so thusfar. About an hour or so after noon you gallop into another of the little clusters of farmhouses and other buildings like smithies and windmills that dot Yeoria’s countryside. You are in Deruvr’s lands again now, not far from his southern border.
Commoners scurry away from the road, expecting you to go straight through, but Prince Rinvolin brings his frothing steed to a halt.
Prince Rinvolin: Stay good people, we mean you no harm. I am Prince Rinvolin, son of King Treferdin and my company and I are in great haste.
There is much confused murmuring and some worried looks at that. A sturdy, tanned peasant-woman, sleeves of her simple gown rolled up to expose flour-dusted arms approaches and bows.
Gildra: My lord, do not let us tarry you. If you need water for your horses and don’t mind them drinking from our troughs then mine is still full over there.
Prince Rinvolin: Thank you, good lady, these ones could certainly use a drink.
He seems rather puzzled at the almost frosty reception.
Prince Rinvolin: However, we’ve need of fresh mounts as well. We must reach the border with Peruvia within the next two days
Renewed worried murmuring, then one bearded man speaks out.
Edlin: I ain’t giving my horses to this duke-killer
Johannes glowers and reaches for his spear, but Prince Rinvolin holds up his hand and dismounts.
Prince Rinvolin: Then do not, this is plowing season so I know you need them as well. I am here to ask for your generosity, not demand in arrogance. If there are horses here to spare, please let us borrow them for half the day. If you like you may send another man along with us to lead them back. But we must have fresh mounts and fast, for the Peruvians have declared war upon this land and it is imperative that we reinforce the border immediately.
I will not lie to you, these men and I did kill Duke Deruvr some three days ago. I know that he was much loved in these lands, for he was a very great man indeed and I had thought him kind and just when once I traveled his duchy years ago. I swear to you by the Shining Path and my family’s honor though that he was not all he seemed. In secret, the duke had plotted with the rebels to bring Yeoria low before her enemies. Worse, he delved into the forbidden secrets of profane magic and turned away from Fundin.
That causes an uproar, many people making superstitious holy signs at the mention of profane magic.
Gildra: I had heard, though I had not believed, that you were both more handsome and more honorable yet than our late duke. Well the first is true, perhaps the second is as well. The woman nods decidedly. You may have my horses at least if I can ride out with you to bring them back.
After some discussion, the others too are able to come up with enough spare horses to last you till evening and after refreshing yourselves briefly you hurry away again shortly.
You fall into a routine, riding hard till you’re a mass of bruises and your horses are too spent to go another mile, stop at a town, trade in the mounts for fresh ones, and continue. It doesn’t leave much energy for talking, but you’ve got days worth of time.
Rukh Astroa of Peruvia discusses how he feels conflicted about fighting his fellow Peruvians with several others.
Yeoria is neither a rough nor a smooth country. It bucks and rolls here and there, but most of its forests have been cut down and every inch of the country that can be farmed is. The roads are not nearly as good as those in the Koran Free Cities, but they are good enough most of the time. It is spring now and all is green, save where the fields have been browned by plows. The weather however is no longer as fair as the countryside. It rains lightly but coldly all through what is hoped to be the final day of your journey, gradually turning the road to mud. The mountains, once again nearby, fade from view as visibility is reduced.
Prince Rinvolin: Johannes, how long do you think we have?
Johannes: It vill not be raining across ze Minalins, my lord. Assuming zey did not start marching before zey declared var, ze Peruvians vill march through zat pass and into our lands tomorrow.
Prince RInvolin: Hear that, everyone? He talks over the pitter-patter of rain on his armor. We don’t stop till we can’t go any further and we start again before dawn breaks!
Johannes: I recall zat land vell, I traveled through it to send you vord in Peruvia ven your noble fazer fell sick. It is ze duchy of Tirin, though his castle is far from ze mountains. A message vill not reach him before ve reach ze border, and besides he is a dutiful man and already sent all his men to join ze army. Zere is a fortress in ze east, crumbling ven last I saw it, from ze days before ze country vas founded. It guards ze pass razer vell. Ve should take zat and hold it till reinforcements can arrive.
Prince Rinvolin: Sounds like a good plan. Although I went to Peruvia by sea, I too once passed through this duchy about 6 years ago during my travels. I think Ellidan was with me then, though he was not yet a knight, and a few of Tirin’s men too. The lands were snowbound and some bandits had been raiding the villages the duke’s soldiers could no longer reach quickly. We tracked them through the snow and fought quite a skirmish in their encampment. It was my second real battle and I think I captured at least three. I surely passed by that fortress, but I don’t remember it clearly.
Vast streams of snowmelt flow across the southern lands here, watering the fields and forming ponds wherever the ground is full. With the rain they swell into near-rivers and vast mud-puddles. The small, decaying fortress whose silhouette you see in the night before making camp, exhausted, is scarcely two miles off but you can’t go any further. Besides, the rain has to let up soon.
Johannes wakes you all the next morning surprisingly quietly.
Johannes: Ze Peruvians are out zere. Not many. Ve should move quickly to seize ze fort.
Prince Rinvolin: Right! On your feet everyone, we strike at dawn! Drive the Peruvians back into their own lands. You, you, you, you, you, you, and you spread out and make sure they don’t encircle us, I’ve heard the Peruvians are apt tacticians.
It is still dark so you cannot see the Peruvians as you quickly get out of your bedrolls and prepare for battle. You will have to deploy blind and will need a considerable rearguard. The rain has indeed stopped and though it is still very dark you can make out that this is a very forested area, though there are also a number of villages and fields about among the streams of meltwater and runoff. Most strikingly though, the fort near the slopes up into the mountains is surrounded by water, either an extremely large pond or a very small lake.
Then dawn breaks under a sky of iron and you can see the Peruvians. There are indeed not very many of them, though as the light grows you see others in the distance on their fine horses. They are dressed simply in light armor, but they ride with grace and skill.
More problematically though, you can now see the fortress still has a functional looking ballista and they’ve taken possession of it.
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Ah, we’ve been discovered it seems, a militia by their mismatched outfits. Arm yourselves men, we’ll show them how real soldiers fight! We’ve orders to secure this area, so let’s make quick work of them and raze the villages while we’re at it. Let no foe of Peruvia live to see another sunrise!
Lance Corporal 2nd Class Urun: Staff Sergeant 3rd Class, I believe we have some green infantry across the river near them. Should we not make haste to help them?
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Negative. Can’t risk letting one of these vermin escape. And if they’re true Peruvians a few militia rats from this benighted land won’t give them a moment’s pause. Onward!
Prince Rinvolin: No! We can’t let him destroy the villages! Quick, we’ve got to protect them until we can secure the fort!
Johannes: Zat’s vone of ze older ballistas. Very dangerous, very accurate even at range. But it can’t be packed up and moved easily and you can only fire 3 times before stopping to reload for quite some time.
Characters Allowed: 8 + Prince Rinvolin + Hunts
Characters Participating (MVP in Bold): Dame Andrine of Deruvr, Darrin, Hunts, Ilyana, Kigathidia Giltonwyrd, Magdalene,Prince Rinvolin of Yeoria, Rukh Astroa of Peruvia, Tsaba, Zepherin Vida
Characters Slain: None
Victory Conditions: Take control of fortress ballista
Loss Conditions: Prince Rinvolin dies or the southewestern village attacked.
Belligerents: Prince Rinvolin’s Personal Forces (Red Claws roughly level 4, Ospreys roughly level 5, Prince Rinvolin roughly level 7) vs. Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa’s 12th Platoon of Light Scouts (Cavalry level 8, infantry roughly level 4, Grufa level 9)
Outcome: Grufa was slain, as were quite a few of his men. First however they massacred the people of the northwestern village. Prince Rinvolin’s forces could not capture the area however because the Knights of the Rising Sun arrived. Hunts was recruited.
Treasure Acquired: 1000 Silver North-Ring (payment from Rinvolin for accomplishing the mission), Meteor (dropped by a mage), and a Steel Bow (Given by a villager).
Treasure Missed: Orion’s Bolt (Stealable from a nomad), Poison (Dropped by a cleric)
Location: Outside a fortress near Oriv Pass. Red Marker by the southern Minalins
Battle Summary: Other than Rukh trying to kill the nearby Rukh Rider and Andrine moving into ballista range to waste their ammunition, everyone else moved west quickly. While ferrying people across the river, they also found time to visit the village and recruit Hunts by returning him his spellbook (from a village in chapter 3).
The plan was to wait till the time window in which the ballista had to reload and have Darrin and Zephrin quickly ferry in Andrine and Ilyana to the central island to take it over while everyone else held off Grufa and his men.
However, the need to stop reinforcements in the bottom right from being brought to the island changed things and the attack on the island kept being delayed.
With some difficulty and many close calls, the Red Claws and Ospreys were able to hold off Grufa’s forces and kill him. However, they then had to flee before finally launching the planned attack due to the imminent arrival of the Knights of the Rising Sun.
(Beginning) There’s another early riser already out it seems, neither a farmer nor a Peruvian by the looks of things.
Hunts: Ah, a beautyful, mysty day. Now what was I looking for again? Hmm, maybe I left Eit Ein the fort.
(Hunts in Ballista Range) Hunts: Hmm, was eitt a frog? Or my money? No that’s not eit. Hey watch where you’re pointyng that, whoah! Oh where did I put my spellbook! Was eit that vyllage, or that one? No I had eitt a week ago dydn’t I?
(Darrin Recruits Hunts) Hunts
Darrin: Oh hello there, nice to meet you. Hey you’re not gonna try to kyle me right? No Good. Well anyway, take a look at thyse violet. They have them on the other side of the mountains too but over there they’ve got 5 petals and these have 4. That’s interesting, but you need to watch out, this is a battlefield Oh no, eit eis? Where dyd I put that spellbook? Here, use this one Wait, that’s… let me see the fyrst page. Oh there’s my name, thyse eis my spellbook! Thanks for that, I’ll help you out with eit.
(Visiting village) Villager (A rather young woman out getting an early start milking the cows to judge by her bucket): Wuh-huh? Who are you, what do you want here?
She’s told they’re mercenaries, the Peruvians are coming, and they need to evacuate.
Villager: I’ll spread the word and we’ll get out as fast as we can. Here, take this! It’s my older sister’s hunting bow, maybe you can use it to defend the gates.
(Grufa Attacks) Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Who are you who managed to delay Peruvian soldiers?
Prince Rinvolin: I am Prince Rinvolin of House Yeor! Although you have attacked my country and my people without cause or provocation, still I will spare you and your men if you but lay down your arms and surrender!
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: You’re the prince? And these then are your elite troops? Pathetic! What a disgusting little hovel of a nation this is. Your filthy peasants should be glad we’re putting them out of their misery.
In the dawning light at first it looks like the Peruvian commander is coughing, but you see then that he is also laughing despite his terrible injuries.
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, cough, heh heh, cough.
Prince Rinvolin: Why do you laugh, butcher?
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, because I know something, cough, you don’t know, heh.
Prince Rinvolin: You may as well enlighten me before you die, I’ve got plenty of time now we’ve defeated your raiding force.
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, cough. No you’ve not. This? These men who nearly thrashed you? Cough, cough. We were but scouts. The Knights of the Rising Sun are coming. Heh, heh, heh.
Johannes: Vhat? How many of zem? From vhere?
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough. 3. Cough, cough, cough, cough.
Johannes: Three? …zough it pains me to recommend it, ve had best send for reinforcements vith all haste, my prince. Vone Knight of ze Rising Sun vould be a glorious foe for varriors such as ve.
Prince Rinvolin: Yes, you’re probably right. We can use the fortress to buy time before we gather enough men to fight them.
Staff Sergeant 3rd Class Grufa: Cough, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. Three. Hundred. They’ll… cough, cough, they’ll swat you aside like gnats. Cough. And seize your whole country within a week! Heh, heh, heh, heh. And now I’ve snared you for them, just as planned. Cough, cough. Well enjoy your last few minutes as prince.
Prince Rinvolin clutches his face in his gauntlets, frantically wracking his brains.
Johannes: He lies! Zey vould not send so many!
But Johannes seems far from certain. At that moment, Dame Andrine arrives after a frantic run, shining armor clanking loudly.
Dame Andrine: My prince, dreadful news! These Peruvians were merely scouts! The Knights of the Rising Sun are arriving! And there are still more of the scouting force moving to block us from the west!
It is true. A vast column of knights is riding into sight out of Oriv pass as she speaks. Their horses are swift and strong and white as Artax at least and the fine, gleaming barding they each wear is scarcely less heavy. They also wear great white and gold caparisons, but despite these encumbrances are closing the gap between you and them with terrifying speed. The knights themselves are to common soldiers as their horses are to 50-year-old donkeys. Their utter poise, confidence, and perfect riding technique are more intimidating than any slavering northern berserker. In their white armor emblazoned with golden sunbursts and on the countless similar penants that fly from their lances you see a Peruvia implacable and invincible.
Hands shaking in frustration or rage or despair, Prince Rinvolin fairly leaps astride Artax.
Prince Rinvolin: Retreat… Yes, we retreat! Immediately!
Johannes: My prince, I
Prince Rinvolin: I know, Johannes, but we must!
Johannes: You misunderstand, my lord. I vas not going to question but to counsel. Zer are some voods to ze vest, it vill be a perilous race but ve could lose zem in zhere!
Prince Rinvolin: Agreed! We break through the Peruvians to the west! Someone get those still south of the river moving that direction too. Move!