The Eternal Empire

Session Twenty-One

The Siege of Jainesville

As night fell, the keep was surrounded by hundreds-upon-hundreds of zombies, skeletons and more mobile ghouls. The horde of undead had flooded into the village, destroying all in their path, and laid siege to the keep.

Iral and Wynstan the Hermit stepped back from the summoning circle they had just finished inscribing atop the gatehouse. As Alvis, Gideon, Trustyson, Armis and Tomlison moved along the walls, checking that the supply of arrows was in easy reach of the few archers and doing their best to bolster the flagging morale of the villagers, the two spell-casters began to summon some magical entity; hoping that they could control it long enough to devastate the undead.

Wynstan completed the spell, and a pulsating blob of blood materialised in the centre of the circle; but Wynstan’s concentration slipped, his aged mind losing its grip on the subtleties of his art, and the entity broke free of his control and lashed out at the nearest living creature: Iral!

At the same time, the river of walking dead surged against the walls, and from the shadows beyond their torches, several ghouls were hurled through the air by some unseen giants, and nimbly landed on the battlements.

Along the walls the order to fire rang out, and arrows pelted the zombies below. More ghouls rushed forward, intent on clambering up the walls, and were met by a flurry of arrows. Most missed, others found their mark, but the undead kept coming. On the walls, Iral backed away from the Blood, letting loose with a magical missile that scorched one of the newly arrived ghouls; allowing Gideon to push Wynstan out of the way and swing at the blob, which undulated out of reach. Ignatious, merchant and former wizard, followed the elf’s example and sent a tiny bolt of energy unto its hide.

Meanwhile, Alvis stepped up to the ghouls and held forth his holy symbol and, in the name of the Eternal Prophet, demanded the dead to turn aside. Two of the ghouls hissed and spat and leapt from the walls, while the others of the cleric’s party ganged up on another ghoul and started hacking away at it.

Gideon stepped up to the Blood and with a mighty swing of his magical sword, Ghostcutter, sent the entity back to where it came from. Behind him, Alvis continued to repel the dead. On the other side of the gatehouse, Iral levitated a previously placed rock, lifting it into the air, intending to release it moments later. Around the harassed ghoul, Trustyson managed to move behind it, and with a powerful thrust slew the unholy creature. All around them more arrows fired, several zombies fell, and then the ghouls started to clamber up the walls; and from the night several more flew onto the walls, rolling to their feet with a savage hiss.

Father Riggby found himself face-to-face with a ghoul, and tried his best to send it to its final death; but his age and dulled reflexes were his undoing, and the ghoul ripped into his flesh, paralysing him with its unholy touch. The constable, Calhoun, who considered himself a friend to the adventurers who were trying to save the village, fought against another ghoul, but was ripped to pieces. One of the clergy, Auld, screamed as a ghoul tore into him, killing him.

Along the east wall, Tomlinson suddenly found himself fighting for his life; but after all he had been through, he knew how to handle himself and deflected blow-after-blow, pushing the ghoul back to the edge of the battlements. With a hefty kick he sent it stumbling over the wall, where it plummeted to the ground, breaking its rotted skull. Another three ghouls tried to climb the wall, eager to get the lucky henchman, but were knocked back as Iral let his rock fall, smashing the ghouls to the ground.

Atop the gatehouse, Gideon found himself almost surrounded by ghouls. His closest allies, Morris and Morrison Alderberry let loose with their bows, while the fighter quaffed a potion and suddenly doubled in size. He stepped over the dead and landed a heavy blow on a ghoul. Behind him, Alvis’ concentration faltered and the dead were not turned; he backed away, as Armis and Trusyson fired over his head, pelting the dead with more arrows. Another two, wounded, ghouls suddenly fell as Iral blasted them with more magical missiles.

More ghouls hurled onto the battlements, while others swarmed over the walls. One unit of Imperial Soldiers fell to their claws, and poor Ignatious had his throat ripped out. Tomlinson found another ghoul in his way, but swiftly slew it, while all around the keep more arrows flew.

The walls, towers and gatehouse roof were now swarming with ghouls. Horace, farmer and husband, fell screaming; both Iral and Tomlinson managed to fend off their attackers, whilst Alvis turned a couple more ghouls; but then Gideon mistimed his parry, and a ghoul clawed his face and a deep cold flowed over the unfortunate human, paralysing him. Beside him, Morrison died, face bitten off.

Below, where a wagon of burning wood and oil had been set alight to ward off the undead, a ghoulish ogre moved up and upturned the wagon, throwing it against the gates; the fire caught and the gates were ablaze in seconds.

More ghouls swarmed over the walls; others were flung onto the battlements. The zombies and skeletons were now rammed up against the walls of the keep, clawing and beating their rotten fists against the stone.

Alvis uttered a prayer to the Prophet and sent another couple of ghouls fleeing; but it wasn’t enough. A third reared up behind him, clawing his back and paralysing the cleric.

Iral found himself surrounded by three vicious ghouls, was swiftly paralysed, then slowly torn apart.

Trustyson, a recent member wondering why the hell he had joined them, fell to another and knew no more.

And all around them the ghouls tore into the valiant defenders; the gates fell open and the dead poured in…

…and the siege ended with the death of everyone.

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