Broken Curses and Cycles

Previously, the adventurers investigated the crusader camp, finding out more about the situation they found themselves in and possible solutions. They spoke to Gorden, one of the guards in Lord Destan’s retinue, to Lauriel Skycaller, the Senhadrim priestess, and to Ser Estienne, the legendary knight whose sanity had stayed somewhat in tact because of his mythical sword and its magical powers. The camp revealed some other interesting parties, like the apothecaries of Pholtus, or the dwarven scribes under the leadership of Ser Kadagar Ashbeard. The adventurers also rode into battle together with the cursed crusaders and managed to analyse it before being overwhelmed by the demon opposition and dying another horrible death. When they woke up again, they had a plan to preempt an attack on the demons in the hope of taking away their aerial domination.

Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade

James hatched a plan to coordinate the griffon riders in a preemptive attack against the demons flying around the tower. Luca and Quentin helped James organise an ambush by convincing the leader of the artillery crew, Ser Wentworth, to get prepared to support the griffon riders, and while Luca convinced a squad of infantry to take up a bow, Quentin convinced Ser Estienne to commit his infantry as archers as well. James ordered half of the griffon riders to hide high in the air, protected from sight by flying against the sun, while he took the other half of the griffon riders to lure the flying demons from around the tower, which worked out splendidly.

The demons eagerly followed James and the griffon riders, but the largest of the demons, Baraxxis the Balor, a huge brute wreathed in dark smoke and a fiery aura, with the head of a bull, the wings of an enormous bat, carrying a fiery whip and an electrified sword. The brute charged ahead and crossed the enormous distance between the demons and the griffon riders in the blink of an eye, suddenly appearing perilously close and hot on Tourbillon’s tail feathers.

The archers and artillery had been set up in the treeline using the cover of the trees as protection. When Baraxxis arrived he immediately summoned two scores of demons who came crawling out of demonic circles which appeared on the ground in front of the archers. They were small and spindly, like a bipedal cross between an insect and a kobold. Without hesitation they fell upon the archers, and Luca was also set upon.

The fight between the adventurers and Baraxxis was violent and long. Early, James was riding Tourbillon, but quickly dismounted the griffon to help Luca and Quentin fight the brute, while Tourbillon went to help the archers by attacking the demons they were fighting. Luca sent bolts of eldritch force into Baraxxis and Quentin kept making charging passes on his horse, while James darted in and out of the battle to strike the enormous demon in vital areas. For a while it looked as if the demons was going to be unbeatable, especially considering that every time one of the adventurers came near the demon, they were burned by its fiery aura and at risk of being entangled bit its whip, or cleaved by its electric sword.

It took everything the adventurers had, including several of the magical potions they had received from Barnaby in Bournemouth, to keep them going long enough. Several of the adventurers were on the brink of death, only to be rescued by the daring interventions of their companions.

The fight saw more than its fair share of miracles. Once, Luca was snatched up by Baraxxis and both of them disappeared, only to appear high up in the air, where the wicked Balor let Luca drop to his death down below. Luca still has no idea how he survived the fall; likely due to a combination of memory-suppressing terror and a possible concussion he received from smashing into the ground. The biggest miracle of all was that through sheer will and determination, the adventurers managed to bring Baraxxis to heel. With one final charge, Quentin rode into the blaze surrounding the nightmarish demon, pierced its body with the lance he had been gifted by Ser Estienne, and brought the demon down.

Unfortunately, the demon had one more trick up its sleeve. As it went down, its demonic life escaping back to the Abyss, it exploded in a roar of fire. Quentin and James were nearly killed if it wasn’t for the fact that Luca was far enough away from the demon to escape further injury and could administer more of Barnaby’s restorative potions. Quentin’s horse, sadly, did perish in the attack.

With Baraxxis out of the fight and the archers having had help from Tourbillon in defeating the wave of smaller demons, the remaining flying demons were no match against the griffon riders and their support. Once they were all defeated over half the griffon riders were ready to fight in the main battle later on. Some of them were wounded but would be capable of engaging. Only a few of the griffon riders didn’t survive the battle, as had a few of the archers.

Soon after the fight, after Emma had seen to the remaining wounds of the adventurers who had engaged in the fight with Baraxxis, the bells started to toll and the expedition moved out towards the battlefield. Emrys ordered the griffon riders to support the cavalry and for the artillery to do the same; after each of the cavalry’s charge, the artillery could fire at will and the air cavalry could swoop in afterwards. Two-thirds of the infantry was to focus on the incoming demonic ambushers, while one-third could move out onto the shore of the lake to support the cavalry.

Crucially, Luca decided to place a magic circle on the location of one of the five portals which were about to open in the woods. It’s powers of abjuration would prevent anyone inside the circle from moving out, effectively nullifying one of the portals. Lauriel Skycaller, priestess of Sehanine Moonbow, used her powers to inflict a magical slumber on the demons coming out of two of the remaining four portals, further stemming the tide. The apothecaries of Pholtus were among the infantry to immediately apply healing and provide support where necessary. Astrid had gotten a hold of Dame Josephine’s flaming sword because James was uncomfortable using it, and she was ready to charge into the oncoming wave, while Emma was ready to unleash her waves of water to keep the demons at bay.

When the battle started Quentin was riding side by side with Ser Estienne in the cavalry. The first charge was a success and as he wheeled the cavalry around, the artillery, air cavalry and infantry engaged, giving the cavalry plenty of time to turn around. The second charge was a success as well. Meanwhile, in the woods, the precautions that the adventurers had taken together with Lauriel Skycaller had almost halved the rush of incoming ambushers. Unfortunately, Lauriel was only half successful and she urged Emrys to come forth and enter one of the remaining portals before the demons came out. Hesitantly, he jumped into one of the open portals and collapsed it.

The strategy had been a great success. The continual charges by the cavalry brought the demons on the shore of the lake to heel. The infantry stemmed the tide of ambushers coming through the greatly diminished portals. Of course there were casualties, many casualties. Infantry, sergeants, squires and knights. Chief among the casualties was Lauriel Skycaller, who was attacked by the demons that managed to break through the enchantment she had placed on them. She was viciously torn apart.

The adventurers all survived, though not without their own cuts and bruises. But more importantly, hundreds of the crusaders survived. As the battle came to its end, many of them did not quite know what to do with themselves. Some of them cried. Some of the laughed. Some of them walked into the lake until the water took them. Many of them just sat there as the sun crept across the sky and started sinking in the west; a sight they had not seen in countless years.

The curse had been lifted. Everyone who was dead would remain so. The battle of the Crimson Tower had been won, and the crusaders would never again be nailed to its white walls.

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