The next morning the party took no undue delays as they left the Woodsinger elves. Israfen wished them speed and promised again that his people would follow shortly. The walk back to Albridge was uneventful and nearly silent. Each member of the party seemed to be thinking of what might happen in the next few days so even the party’s normal amount of banter and chit chat was absent. Only when the party neared Albridge were they snapped out of there thoughts by the changes that they noticed.
The area for nearly a mile south of the village was totally transformed. The fields that had previously been overrun or razed were turned into training camps with tents rising quickly and groups of men talking and organizing themselves. The group also noticed huge wooden fences with spikes jutting out being positioned to direct battles to certain areas. As they walked, the party recognized members of the village of Albridge as well as men they’d seen in Tor’s Holding.
At one point the road was blocked by a checkpoint. Three men with spears stepped out from behind a blockade and rudely hailed Gore. The dwarf responded by, equally rudely, asking who these men were that they did not recognize the adventures. The three soldiers all shifted their spears a few inches closer to Gore but before the conversation could get ugly a voice from behind the barricade said “Stand down, soldiers! These people are on our side!” Ren stepped out from behind the barricade and placed his hand on the shaft of one of the spears, lowering it’s point.
“Yes, recognize our authority!” said Gore with a growl and a small jump. Ren apologized for the soldiers’ behavior and escorted the party the rest of the way to the village center. There they met back up with Dar and he explained the situation. "By this time tomorrow Nazrin will be on the move. People from every part of Harkenwold have gathered here on my request, interested only in sending the cretin back to where he came from. Now we have less than a day to organize and teach these people as best we can. Please help in any way you know how, adventurers!” Atesh turned to the gnarled human and replied “I think that if all of us use our talents we can make a difference even though time is short. Do you have any ideas as to how we can help, Dar?”
Then the game cut to a riveting montage as Dar explained his ideas on preparations and the party acted on them as well as lending a hand in other ways. Gore and Rachiev tried to teach the soldiers to be intimidating and athletic. Atesh used his magic to boost the morale and mental readiness of the collected leaders. Narisella taught a group of soldiers how to pick inedible mushrooms and eat them, effectively debilitating that group of soldiers for the next day. Later she used her religious abilities to raise a larger group of soldiers’ morale to great heights. Donaar worked with the leaders and soldiers on battlefield health and doctoring tips. At the end of the day the party felt that their contributions to the whole had been massive and even Dar admitted that if they were ever going to be ready for Nazrin, they were ready now. The whole camp went to bed to catch some much needed rest.
Dar woke the party up in the morning as he finished strapping on his leather cuirass. He had an old but ordinary sword strapped to his hip and he wore a grim expression across his face. “The battle will take place soon. We’ve spotted Nazrin’s train. He must have marched through the night. I will tell you the role that I’d like your party to play in this battle. As our two forces clash, I’d like to have the five of you remain in my vicinity. When we spot an advantageous opportunity or a need for your fight, I will send you out to the best effect. If you have other plans for yourselves though, I will not interfere.”
The party discussed their plans for a minute and decided that Dar’s idea would suffice. The older human nodded and bid the party to ready themselves for battle then. Several hours passed as everyone prepared. Finally Dar motioned to the party to join him on a small hill near the read of the guard. As the party crested the hill they were given a better view of the fields to the southeast. They could see the resistance army, standing in groups and ranks along a general line. No more than a mile beyond them stood another mass of men. Nazrin’s army had stopped nearly toe to toe with theirs and both groups just waited. If Dar was unsure of what needed to be done, none of the party was unable to discern it from his features. Several of his command looked to him for guidance but he simply watched the horizon and said nothing.
Suddenly there was a small commotion from the enemy’s troops and a storm of arrows jumped into the sky to fall among the resistance men. Dar gave a signal and a trumpet blew. All of the resistance knew that to be the cue to charge and the two armies descended on each other. The fields south of Albridge quickly became a bloodbath as farmers and soldiers mixed and skirmished. The armies swirled together then broke apart, each side sustaining casualties but not losing much ground. Dar held a hand out to the party to steel their urge to get into the fight. Several minutes later he spoke.
“There. A few hundred feet to the south of us. It looks like the men responsible for fortifying the Johnston farmstead were unable to complete their task.” Dar pointed to a single farmhouse surrounded by a low wall. The areas on either side of the compound were walled off with spiked fences but the house seemed untouched. “A group of Nazrin’s men have realized it and are going to break through the farm and flank our surrounding fighters. Adventurers… Get to that farm before they do and stop them from breaking our line!” Gore yelled out an encouraging battle cry and the party rushed to the house.
The group got the the farm just as the enemy did. Nearly a dozen men and a slimy, acidy looking drake were running toward the party as they waited just inside the farmstead. The battle was decided quickly as Atesh, Narisella, and Rachiev tore the most experienced soldier down before she could even swing her massive flail. The remaining men were inexperienced and fell quickly to the party’s attacks. The spitting drake managed to cover Donaar in acid but he was no match for the party’s combined might and he too soon fell. A messenger on horseback trampled up and spoke while the party recovered from their skirmish. “Adventurers! Dar requests your assistance along the line to the northeast. Can you see his standard there? Please return to him quickly.” And without waiting for more than the eye contact of the party’s members, he took off to the south.
When they were ready the group began marching towards Dar. As they walked Rachiev noticed that they were tailing another group of people who were threading in and out of houses, trying to stealthily make their way towards Dar’s position. The party recognized them as Iron Circle that must have broken through the line and were going to try to ambush the resistance commanders! The moment the party had a good position they attacked the Iron Circle to save Dar’s hide. Gore rushed into a house that the enemy group had been heading for. Inside he found a tortured monstrosity that only barely resembled the dark adept that his tattered red cloak identified him as.The man had eight inch horns coming from his forehead and his entire body was red and blistered and dripping with thick black tar. The tar pooled at his hands and as Gore rushed him the shifted adept threw a ball of it at the dwarf’s face. Outside the rest of the party fought with another of the terrifying tar adepts and three other Iron Circle.
The shifted adepts spread pain and burning throughout the party as they used a burning cloud and a sulphurous aura to take down Rachiev and Gore. Luckily, Narisella’s teifling heritage allowed her a resistance to fire that proved invaluable. She used her healing powers to keep everyone else alive and finally the Iron Circle squad was defeated. Without missing a beat, the party continued on to Dar’s position.
“I’m glad you made it back to me so quickly. It looks like you successfully guarded that segment of the line. Now I have something much more important for you to handle.” Dar welcomed the party with a raised sword as they approached. Then he pointed down a farmland road that wound further northeast. “Just down this road, Nazrin and his vanguard are decimating two of our platoons. I need you to go and kill him. I think you’re ready and now is the time we put the final nail into this fight! If you can down Nazrin we can clean up the rest of the Iron Circle on the field. What say you?” Atesh hefted his own sword in his hand and replied “We’re ready alright! Let’s finish this!”