Sigvard's Account of the Siege of Mirabar, Part I
They are not my nemesis. Should I ever be a powerful religious leader, I would not start a crusade against them. I would not devote myself to annihilating them. Sure enough we are enemies now, and they have been a lingering threat to my hometown ever since I am aware – but still, we are like cousins.
Cousins with a disturbed and twisted family relationship though, full of bickering and distrust and frequent acts of abuse. But yet, we have the same forefathers, we are the same race. I mean look at me, a tall blonde guy with a beard and a battleaxe… well, I generally speak in sentences with more than three words, I can read and write – and I do take the occasional bath. When I have the chance to which was not the case recently.
They are our smelly, slightly retarded cousins, the Uthgardt barbarians.
Anyway, today the filial resemblance to our primitive siblings seems to be an advantage, of which we have precious few right now, because it would allow us to infiltrate the enemy lines. The siege of Mirabar is tightening, the last two nights have seen immensely brutal battles and our numbers are dwindling. The scouting missions me and our little squadron of mercenaries have done recently have provided little advantage in the greater picture of things, especially since the rogue cleric of Bane Bishop escaped the justice of Tyr, even as I was slaying all his minions, living and undead.
The lines of our enemies are standing unbroken, orcs and Uthgardt of various tribes fight loyally side by side, which has not happened since anyone can remember. It’s unnatural. And this unholy alliance of evil is where we want to make our final effort to save both my hometown Mirabar and the Lord’s Alliance army. We will try to drive a wedge between them.
The Lord’s Alliance have collected some intel that has shed more light on the relationship of orcs and men in the North; as it seems the High Mage of Luskan, called “The Wearer of the Purple” or “The First Speaker” by his followers and “The Big Pimp” among the clergy of Tyr, has put in quite a lot of effort to make it happen. The “First Prophet of the Dragon”, the big Uthgardt War Chief
Gundaric, is basically a fraud. He is an actor, equipped by the High Mage with magical means to fool the simple hearts and minds of our barbarian cousins with stories of dragons and ancient cults – seemingly with a frightening amount of success. “Gundaric speaks with the word of Uthgar, saying the Uthgardt will dominate the North.” All smoke and mirrors.
The idea now is to share this information with the Uthgardt. I admit it is a far-fetched approach, given that they are so close to victory right now. Why would they not go for the kill and the loot, never mind why they joined the battle in the first place? But honestly we are running out of options. We can just hope to find someone who listens.
The others were pretty easily accepting this potential suicide mission – I would hope out of the goodness and valor of their hearts, or because of my own powers of persuasion, but it may well be just for the mentioned lack of better options. In any way, the greatest heroes were born out of need, and out of fate, not out of choice; it is important that they come along, not so much why. Tyr also didn’t choose to be the Maimed God. It was his fate.
We prepared ourselves by getting some general introduction into Uthgardt politics from the only tribe still allied with us, the Sky Ponies. Their chief, Jeric Wolfslayer told us that the most fanatic followers of Gundaric are the Elk, Black Raven and Griffon tribe, the Griffons chief Kralgar Bonesnapper being a traditional enemy of the Lord’s Alliance. Meanwhile the Thunderbeast and the Black Lions seem to have been forced into the alliance rather then joined willingly. Chief Wolfslayer of the Sky Ponies recommended the shaman of the Thunderbeasts, Kierkraad Seventoes, as a wise man who would listen to our claim.
So there we went – me and Varg dressed up as Black Lions, using hide armor and wooden shields from their fallen warriors. Our two elven friends had to grudgingly assume the role of PoWs while Audrey the halfling was just stowed as hand luggage in Varg’s backpack. Breaking through the enemy lines was easier than expected with the barbarian army in considerable chaos. I mean, they started out as the unorganized rabble they are in the first place, but after several days of fighting it seemed they could barely separate their own tribes.
We had not reached the Thunderbeast encampment yet when we were also joined by my brother Liam, who seemingly has finished his meditative reclusion into the forests to rejoin the war – just in time I would say. Varg and Krycec changed their minds to try infiltrating the orcs camp instead, so there were four of us finally getting into the Thunderbeast encampment, which was easily
identifiable by the big and unique monster they show as their coat of arms.
The general mood in the camp was one of despair. Aramelles long face fit right in with them. First person we ran into was a bard, who openly shared his loathing of the whole war and the so-called coalition of Gurgareth. He expressed his understandable hatred about the fact that the “stronger” tribes such as the Elk even raped the weaker tribes’ women and took this as a legitimate part of the war effort on behalf of the smaller tribes. Words cannot express my disgust at such savage customs. If they treat their own allies like this, not to think about the fate of Mirabar and its people, should it fall!
If there wasn’t a reason to fight to the death before, here it is.
We entered the tent of Kierkraak Sevenfoot, shaman of the Thunderbeast, and I immediately dropped the guise of being a barbarian, and introduced us as who we really were, messengers for peace talks. Sevenfoot didn’t need to be persuaded to talk, and was not surprised at all about our information – he knew everything we knew about the outrageous act Gundaric was pulling, he just lacked evidence. If we should be able to find hard evidence for him he would call a council of shamans and try to stop the siege.
He further informed us that Gundaric was a member of the Elk tribe by means of marriage, with his wife having risen to a powerful position within the Elk tribe based on the connection. Gundaric had joined the tribe after showing up out of the wilderness, where he had supposedly been living as a hermit, speaking the words of some Dragon god and supporting his creed by a number of “miracles”, duels and other deeds, most of which could be attributed to regular arcane sorcery. The shaman “invited” Aramelle to stay for some magical mumbo jumbo, which didn’t manage to improve his already sour mood…
So there we were, Liam, Audrey and me, with a pretty straightforward goal, break into the Prophets tent and find evidence. What kind? Any kind. Anything to prove Gundaric was not who he pretended to be. So this meant more sneaking around, camouflage and deception – not my preferred approach but what can I do, if not rise to the occasion? We were running out of options to win this war. And what could possibly go wrong, with a professional miniature thief who could hide in a backpack? Audrey is basically invisible. A shadow within shadows. A ghost.
We proceeded to the big bossy tent and found it guarded by 4 elite guardsmen in ceremonial half-plate, as well as an impressive display of magical fireworks above the tent. Seventoes had told us there would be a chieftain’s council at midnight, so we had some time to spare to scout out the general area and come up with a plan.
During scouting my brother and I got into a little brawl with some drunken Uthgardt, but we could resolve that without breaking our cover – we only broke a nose. My Illuskan may be a bit too sophisticated for them, but they were so drunk they didn’t recognize.
As midnight was there, we watched Gundaric leave, then Liam and me proceeded to one of the guards to create a dumb little distraction to allow Audrey to sneak into the tent. It all went perfectly…
Until this point. Suddenly there was a big boom heard from the tent, and clouds of smoke rose up. Staying in character as drunken barbarians, Liam and me rushed to the tent to pretend to be confused but helpful, and generally generate some commotion to allow Audrey to leave – we didn’t see him, which I took as a good sign.
At this point however my dear brother took his barbarian performance one level too high – even in an archaic society like the Uthgardt, it seems urinating on their spiritual leader’s personal belongings is frowned upon. It came to open blows in the tent and I had to axe the guard to shut up. I still don’t understand how this didn’t end in all of us getting killed, but I accept it as a blessing of Tyr.
Anyway, Audrey was already hidden away and – smart little bugger – had even managed to snatch a crate filled with documents.
My brother ran for it, and I somehow managed to fast talk the remaining guards into letting me go – I do feel half ashamed to be reduced to such deception, but an open confrontation at this point would have endangered our whole mission, which was to bring the
evidence back without the whole barbarian camp raising an alarm. Anyway, deception has always been a part of war. And I still laugh when I imagine their faces once they understood what they had just done.
Somehow we made it back to the shamans tent, and the evidence actually worked as planned. It was a full journal describing how an adventurer called Crane, from the Thieves Guild of Luskan and a follower of Bane, was trained in the ways of the Uthgardt, and magically equipped to play the role of the Prophet. He clearly referred to the Wearer of the Purple as the one who hired, equipped and trained him. First I was suspicious if a people relying so strongly on oral traditions as the Uthgardt – read an illiterate bunch of tribal jerks – would even pay attention to written evidence, but later it dawned on me that the mere existence of a bunch of papers in their Prophets tent must have already served as evidence in itself that he was not really one of them. There was also a whole stack of magical scrolls which Aramelle identified – first time I saw him giving as much as half a smile since I know him – as an allotment of spells useful to help playing a false prophet. Illusions, communication spells, the works. Smoke and mirrors indeed.
The shamans called in their council the next morning, after we had slept while hidden under an invisibility spell (yet more deception…). I found two of them being of evil character – as expected the Elk shaman, a man named Grey Wolf, and the Griffon one. But even they did not deny the fact that something was wrong with their Prophet. As one, the shamans went to face him,
followed by a big crowd of barbarians, including our group.
This is when things got really out of hand. Just as the shamans had made their point, out of nothing two archers appeared in the air, shouted, “For the Lord’s Alliance” and shot Gundaric dead. We later learned that the bolts they used had been poisoned, so he was dead as he hit the floor. What treachery! We were here on an honest peace negotiation and our side used this for such a treacherous sneak attack? I will have a serious talk with Lord Halmar once I am back – although I start to think that this has not been our side at all, but rather the Pimp, cutting the strings of his puppet once we found him out.
Anyway, in that moment I was so shocked by this development that I simply lacked for words. The barbarians did not kill us on the spot – we were well surrounded by the Thunderbeast tribe – but they all went to attack the city immediately, under leadership of the Griffon and Black Raven war chiefs. I just managed in some quickly arranged face to face talks to convince the Black Lion and Thunderbeast tribe to stay out – they even agreed to attack the orc army instead. Diplomatic goal achieved.
This was the sign for us to leave – the siege turned into a frontal assault, and if we wanted to still make a difference in the battle, we had to join in NOW. While I was getting some information about the barbarians’ strategy, and we were making up our mind where to join the battle, Audrey went back to the late Gundarics tent in order to loot whatever items he didn’t find (or burn) during the first visit. We didn’t yet get to talk about what he found, but he mentioned that they were putting up Gundarics corpse there, surrounded by his many personal belongings and trophies. Imagine the glitter in the halfling’s eyes when he talked about this…
But back to the battle! As we had learned from our new allies, the barbarians had planned to use their griffons to attack the two bridges separating the north and south river banks inside Mirabar, thus cutting off the retreat of refugees, so they could massacre the less defended southern part first. We quickly decided to not let this happen. Aramelle grudgingly (this is a description frequently applicable to him) agreed to use one of the looted scrolls to communicate a report to Sir Halmar in the Lord’s Alliance army camp, while we made off along the north river bank, looking for transportation. Luckily my brother had had the presence of mind earlier to bring my shiny armor with him when he came, so I could get rid of the borrowed Uthgardt hides. When and if I will get rid of the smell of their previous owner, remains to be seen.
At the river banks we found transportation in the form of ten Griffon tribe Uthgardt who were just getting into two fishing boats in order to join the fray. I immediately proceeded to axe them if we could borrow the boats. This battle was Aramelles shining moment – after complaining for the whole morning what useless spells he had memorized, he basically massacred them with a significant display of magical pyrotechnics. It was quite a show, and within a few minutes we were en route to Mirabar along the river – after, notably, our thief convinced an annoyed Aramelle that saving the city was of a higher priority right now then looting the bodies of the slain foes.
While we went upriver – brother Liam and me rowing hard against the stream – we saw the assault was in full swing, the Uthgardt had built crude war machines, catapults and siege towers, and were crossing the river with everything that would swim, attacking the city from the less defendable docks district. Over our heads, griffons and their riders were flying in V formation, to attack the bridges. It was intense. My heart was beating in expectation of the coming battle – no more deception, no more disguise, it would be steel against steel, man against man. Behind us, the Lord’s Alliance Army made their final attack against the orcs, who were also attacked by our new allies, the Thunderbeast and Black Lion tribes. I felt my ardor and passion for the coming battle rubbing off on my comrades, who clenched their weapons and steeled their wills in expectance of the coming.
Nobody paid much attention to our boat, and as we reached the first bridge we were addressed by a Captain of the Mirabar city guards, who was in command of the bridge. I clearly announced myself as a Paladin of Tyr, upon which the officer, who was seemingly suffering from a concussion to the head, asked me if we were friends or foes. That settled, they helped us climb the bridge.
Shouting a battle cry of Tyr, I rekindled the flame of valor in the men’s hearts, and we took our stand against waves of barbarians and griffons, all the while a steady flow of citizens were still running across the bridge to safety. The captain ceded the command of his men to me (wise choice considering his head injury) and while I ordered them to focus their fire on one approaching griffon at a time, Liam and me were, as always, in the first line of melee against the onrushing foes. Audrey fired volleys of arrows at our enemies and quickly ascertained that firing on the riders of the griffons was a better strategy then firing on the monsters themselves, as they sometimes fled when wounded and without rider. Aramelle, being out of spells, also grudgingly joined the ranks of the archers.
The flow of refugees across the bridge was already beginning to trickle down, when it happened – one of the last griffons came in hard and, even with his rider shot off, landed basically on my brother! Liam was out like a light and I feared him dead, but our stalwart halfling saved his life with a quick application of first aid, then Liam was carried behind the lines by soldiers of the city guard. The refugees and my unconscious brother being safe for the moment, I made a point of throwing one last barbarian off the bridge, who I had seen chopping the heads off at least three fleeing, unarmed civilians. Then I retreated. The brave little Audrey and I were the last ones through before the gates to the bridge slammed shut.