The air is thick and humid in the town of Briare, and dark clouds gather in the east. The defenders shift uncomfortably, looking fearfully at the mass of creatures half glimpsed between the trees. They are woodsmen, tanners and trappers, not soldiers. An elder bowman helps Koteth up onto the wall, introducing himself as “Lucky” Joseph (a name earned by his extreme lack of luck), bowyer of the town.
Kobold arrows thud into the ground at the foot of the palisade, zealously fired from too far away. The swarm of little lizard creatures comes howling out of the forest, slinging stones and spears. Clay jars of alchemist’s fire smash against the wooden walls and begin to smoulder, as the woodsmen fire back inexpertly.
Calm and commanding, Sir Samuel directs the panicking villagers to the relative safety against the walls. Shield held over the heads of the cowering children and bent elder folk, the retired knight’s main focus is guarding the townsfolk. A red glare catches his attention; a flaming torch pinwheels over the palisade, landing in the thatched roof of one of the houses. Black smoke rises.
Koteth’s arrows puncture the assaulting Kobolds as the dart from cover to cover. Spotting a howling Kobold carrying several large jugs of alchemist’s fire, he puts an arrow through one of the clay vessels, shattering it and spraying the creature and the rest of its jugs with its own burning liquid. A muted, inhaled thump of igniting alchemical concoctions and the Kobold is turned into a screaming pyre of flame, scattering the other Kobolds following its charge.
Reed’s prayers and spellwork upon the south wall calls up a divine glow which infuriates the Kobolds. While his height conceals him from the counterattack, the Halfling can only watch in horror as a volley of spears and arrows cut down the defenders around him. With the south gate’s archers down, the Kobolds begin ramming at the wooden gate with stone clubs, and hacking away at it with hatchets. The doors begin to bend inwards. A low rumble mounts into a resounding slam as the mighty Jurak throws his whole body against the door, sending the Kobolds on the other side tumbling away, concussed and battered.
Ropes hook around the wooden pillars that make up the palisade, crude ladders with hooked ends catch into the wall. Kobolds swarm. Whole sections of the wall rock like a ship in a gale, as many of the ropes are pulled by the assaulting lizard creatures. With lightning and radiance and arrows, Jacen, Koteth and Reed try to push the swarming creatures back. More than that, they realize that the woodsmen are too disorganised to lead a successful defence; the three shout commands and encouragement, moving up and down the wall, strengthening the resolve of the defenders.
Seeing the roof of one of the wooden houses blazing in earnest and threatening to spread to the nearby homes, Samuel’s clear, commanding tones ring clear over the confused locals, organizing them into a bucket chain from the town well. The knight himself braves the worst of the flames, enduring the extreme heat to get close to the building, taking each bucket as it comes, setting the example of bravery. Water buckets start coming faster, and Sir Samuel risks a glance back to see Jurak using his frightful strength to haul buckets out of the well at surprising speed.
The fire is defeated, reduced to black smoke that billows and twists up into the sky, to curl and fold into the black clouds that suddenly roll overhead. A dark shadow spreads its fingers over Briare as this angry storm blots out the sun. To the despair of the townsfolk, the clouds twist and shape themselves into the lizard-like faces that loom over the battle. Clouds shaped like reptilian hands sweep back and forth over the darkened sky as the faces in the storm look down and mutter foul hexes. All along the walls, jubilant and bloodthirsty Kobolds swarm up onto the palisade, while the unhallowed sky roils and churns.
Swinging his hammer in wide circles, bowling over the onrushing kobolds that made it into the town, Jurak stares at the sky. The demon stirs within him, causing glowing runes to crawl down his arms and legs, igniting his eyes. His mouth contorts as the demon attempts to break the hex looming over the town, spitting vile counter-hexes unfit for mortal tongues, trying to match the sky, curse for curse. He and his fellow adventurers fail to see the looks on the faces of the villagers at this sudden display of demonic might.
The defenders along the wall engage in brutal skirmishes for their lives; many are thrown unceremoniously to the ground below. Koteth finds himself fighting back-to-back with “Lucky” Joseph. Seeing that many Kobolds are already making their way to the village square, the two archers move around from behind, flanking the Kobolds and taking their attack to pieces with stealth and speed. A flash of the blade, a dead Kobold, and the Elf is already gone, striking again and again from behind the attackers.
Joining in the center, protected by Samuel and the defenders of the town, Reed, Jacen and Seline join in prayer against the unhallowed sky, invoking Law, Nature and the Sun. A cool, salty sea breeze washes over the town, pushing away the stifling haze of smoke. In the sky, lances of brilliant sunlight shred the black clouds, scattering them back to the east. A ragged cheer goes up from the defenders, even as they are backed into a rough circle in the village square.
Jacen, however, has a concerned look. Much like Reed calls upon the forests and rivers to grant him strength, and much as Seline draws energy from the sun, Jacen, as a chosen of Erathis, draws his power from the town itself, from the community. Attuned as Erathis is to all civilizations, cities and structures, the energies of the shrine under this town worried him even as he tapped into it. It… tasted different, an underlying yet distinct melody in the harmony of civilization.
Jurak, blazing and fuelled by demonic fury, throws himself at the Kobolds that finally managed to hack the main gate to pieces. The ones in the front are trampled under his boots, while the mass in the rear are shoved back out of the gates. Out of nowhere, the Elven ranger drops down on the retreating Kobolds with a flash of blade and a spray of Kobold blood, turning a withdrawal into an outright rout.
As the Kobold attack breaks down, Samuel brings to bear his own divine powers. Lifting a plated boot and slamming it on the ground, concentric rings of glowing blue energy flow outwards, forming a protective circle around the huddled, wounded villagers. Reed’s healing powers flow and soar in that circle, a soothing cloud of purification and restoration.
Sir Samuel speaks a single word, and upon each Kobold forehead is scribed a brand. The edict; that all harm these creatures do will be visited back upon them. With their assault broken and their skyward hex shattered, many of the remaining creatures flee to the east. However, even more startling are the wounded Kobolds, who begin to slit their own throats, impale themselves on their spears, smash their heads in, all the while bloody-eyed and foaming at the mouth. The heroes manage to tackle one and tie it up before it can kill itself; it is so weak and wounded it is barely able to fight back.
“You, brother Paladin” snarls Seline, marching towards Sir Samuel. “My place is here, helping my husband with the townsfolk. But you and your allies need to get moving , and quickly. East of here. That’s where they came from. That’s where the storm came from. Find them. Kill them. For every harm brought upon these innocent people, for every fear in the eyes of each child, you and your party will repay that pain a hundredfold.”
The armored lady draws a golden sun symbol from her pouch, holding it tightly in her gauntleted hand. The next words are spoken through clenched teeth. “I will go with you in spirit. My vengeance will be at your side. Let the Sun shine off your blade. Let it blind and sear our enemies. Let these evil, vile little creatures cower before the radiance of the unconquered, resplendent Light. GO!”
Forcefully handing the Symbol of Vengeance to the retired knight, Paladin Seline marches off, bloodied armor glinting in the afternoon sun.