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War Room

"At the East Gate are Goblins and a pair of Siege Trolls." Balthazar said, pointing to the figures on the map. "But if the reports are correct, the Goblins upon the wall will soon be dealt with, and the Royal Guard will have slain one or both of the trolls." The lord explained. "As such, if you choose to go, it would likely be to help... clear the field, so to speak."

"Even still." He paused. "Seeing as the defenders on the East Gate have been having the most trouble comparatively, your assistance will nevertheless be appreciated. It would also put us in a better position to defend the gate in the event of a surprise." Balthazar rationalized, before turning to Acrius. "I trust you will be accompanying Lady Turash during this endeavor, Acrius?" Despite the old man's neutral expression, the boy would know that this was no question-- rather, it was an implied command.

Balthazar would have preferred if the two had deigned to rest, even for a little while longer, but as the priestess was ready to return to the battlefield, there was no other choice but to give her an escort. There were multiple reasons for this. Firstly, Drana was not just an outsider-- she was a noblewoman. Any injury to her would reflect upon the Royal Guard, even if she had lent the defenders assistance of her own volition. Secondly, Acrius had, knowingly or otherwise, dealt her an insult-- something he had to repent for on his own time. Lastly, Balthazar needed Acrius to keep an eye on her; until the spymaster got more information on Drana Turash, he could not trust her to operate on her own, nor could he give her any information about the siege itself.

Whatever the case may be, it would be better to be safe than sorry. Balthazar waited for them to ask any questions or speak their mind, but once they were ready to go, he would say goodbye. "You are dismissed." He said, formally. "May you find good fortune on the battlefield." As they left, the man returned to his work. With all troop reserves depleted, he could no longer make any rotations-- all he could do is send all injured men on the frontlines to the triage center... and send the dead to the graveyard for sorting.

Such was the price of war.

Co-GM IC:

North Gate

Between Leonidas's charge, Zatana's assistance, Naysein's song, and the guardsmen's numbers, any remaining Orcs were quickly driven from the walls. Those who stayed and fought were put to the sword or thrown over the walls. As a soldier cuts the grappling hook, a rallying cry resounds across the walls. The men scream in celebration as the Orcs retreat-- with their attempt to scale the walls foiled, and with two dead Orc lieutenants to show for it, there was no reason to prolong this battle.

Orcs were proud and bloodthirsty warriors, but it seemed even they could realize when a battle could no longer be won. There was no glory in a defeat like this, so there was no reason to die for it. With the Orc offensive broken, guardsmen and soldiers alike would turn to the fallen. Most turned to their fallen comrades-in-arms, a few of them crestfallen as they carried the bodies from the wall. Some of the more glory-seeking men moved to take trophies from the Orc bodies: ears and fangs-- proof of their kills. A few of them simply sat there in thought; Naysein's song invigorated them, but with adrenaline slowly fading, fatigue began to set in.

And now all that needed to be done was to return to the Keep. Perhaps if the defenders at the other gates had received similar success, this battle would soon be done.

West Gate

Rudolf's leadership meant that none of his men would hesitate, and Merik's ferocity was enough to give even a hardened veteran pause. Thus, it was no surprise that after several moments of intense fighting, that one side had to give. With Goblin forces in disarray, no amount of shouting or discipline would get them to move back into formation. The Lizardman's Dragonfire and hungry jaws was an excellent deterrent in this regard, completely throwing the enemies into a panicked frenzy.

The guardsmen's superior size and training helped dispatch many of the Goblin Honor Guard. Rudolf and Merik would wreak havoc in their lines, which let the soldiers finish the enemies off when an opportunity presented itself. Even Adgak Heel-Slicer, as skilled as he was, was unable to lead his forces effectively, or kill enough men to turn the tide.

Realizing this, the Warchief shut his eyes, reached for something attached to his belt, and then threw it on the ground. Even among the clashing of steel, and the grinding of flesh, the sound of glass shattering resounded across the walls. Soon, a noxious, stinging green cloud erupted from the broken flask. Everyone who inhaled the gas felt instantly nauseous-- their eyes would water as the foulest stench they could imagine emanated from the alchemical concoction.

Human and goblin alike wheezed in pain and disgust. The Goblin Warchief, having anticipated this, quickly disengaged from the fight and returned to the grappling hooks, where he moved to make his retreat. Several archers and riflemen attempted to shoot Adgak as he retreated, but the cloud obscured their vision, and their projectiles would hit nothing but the stones of the castle.

"This isn't over, humans! I will have my revenge!" Adgak Heel-Slicer cried out as he abseiled. In a few moments, he would reach the moat and quickly retreat, a group of goblin shieldbearers moving to cover him. It seems he calls himself a Warchief, but at the first sight of potential defeat, he turns tail and runs away! Now all that was left was this stinking cloud and the Goblin Honor Guard that he left behind to die. The defenders need only clear these stragglers and destroy the grappling hooks, and the battle would be decided.

East Gate - Interior

Acrius and Drana would soon arrive on the scene, where the sounds of battle only seem to intensify. The walls seemed clear of goblins-- the reinforcements must have dealt with the ones atop the wall, even going so far as to destroy the siege ladders. The gate rocked occasionally from the force of the beastman and the troll engaging in a close-quarters brawl. A soldier near the gate wonders if he should open the gate to help, but is quickly shut down by his commanding officer-- they cannot open the gate to sally forth and meet the attackers on the field; not while the troll still lives.

Several men work on moving soldiers and militia from the wall to the city to receive treatment for their wounds, or to move the dead away from the fighting. Upon the wall itself, bowmen and riflemen fire at Goblins below, so as to ensure Faira and Manald are not overwhelmed by the green horde.

East Gate - Exterior

Meanwhile, in the killing fields below, the battle rages on. As Faira engages a group of goblins, Manald fights the remaining troll at close range. Arrows and bullets fly towards the goblin infantry to dissuade them from sneaking up on the Royal Guard while they do their work. Many greenskins don't make it close enough to even threaten them, but there was no doubt about it-- without archer support, the duo would quickly be overwhelmed.

Of course, that's less of an issue for Manald, who was currently in a life-or-death wrestling match with a troll. As blackness begins to set in, Manald claws and rends the troll's hands as best he can. With desperation fueling his strikes, there was a disgusting crack as he manages to cut deep into troll's bone. The creature let out a pained groan as it relinquished its grip on its opponent, instead opting to kick the beastman away, causing him to hit the gate hard.

Thankfully, the gate is rather sturdy, even with the damage the trolls had done to it. Now there was some distance between Manald and the hammer troll-- this was an opportunity to turn things around!

...or die trying.




<<I'll take Escort position if you can provide cover-fire, Castle. If even half of the spots is a hostile crawling out of the dirt, we're in hot water.>>

<<Solid copy, Starstrike.>> He replied. <<Focusing on target.>>

The Ajax spun on its heels, turning away from its role as a defender to an attacker. It hammered the foreign machine with the wrath of the forge god, its body both the anvil and the metal to be shaped. The enemy Orbital could take remarkable amounts of punishment, shrugging off armor-piercing rounds like it was nothing. To put it simply, it was a tough nut to crack.

Thankfully, if the Ajax was proficient at anything, it would be busting this proverbial bunker.

Between the attacks from Ajax and Odysseus, the fire support from Bedwyr and Starstrike, and the attack from it only seemed like a matter of time until the Bandit would fall to the onslaught of attacks. Perhaps its armor plating was made of some kind of special alloy-- it would certainly be something worth investigating in the future. Holden quickly pushed these thoughts to the back of his head; there were more pressing matters to worry about.

Like the scything beam of light currently erupting from the spines on the Bandit's back.

It struck the Bedwyr first, before slicing towards the Odysseus. Thankfully, both of them managed to walk away with only minor damage. The Ajax, however, as slow as it was, had little hope of evading the beam, which grazed its arm and cut into its torso. With speed borne of experience, Holden willed his Orbital's left arm upwards. The Ancile Buckler's anti-beam coating helped deflect and refract the laser's energy output to nothingness.

"Fuck." Holden grunted as red lights flashed upon his HUD, and sirens blared in his ears. "Status report."

The onboard computer's speakers blared to life, reading the situational report that was displayed on the HUD.

STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY:

ADAMANTINE ARMOR PLATING: 81%
HULL PLATING: 96%
ANCILE BUCKLER: 72%

ALL SYSTEMS OPERATIONAL.

"Could be worse." Holden said to nobody in particular. The Ajax's Adamantine Armor Plating was not particularly well-suited to taking on energy weaponry, but it was still much better than relying on hull-plating alone. It certainly couldn't reliably take sustained fire from beam weapons though, and he knew it. As he pondered this, sonorous ping rang out within the cockpit, signaling that the Keraunos was ready to fire.

<<Ground team, be advised. I'm coming in for a low pass on the second bandit. ETA is 20 seconds.>>

<<Roger that, Bedwyr. I'll slow him down.>>

There was a burst of noise as the uranium slug was launched from its cradle, fueling the first step. The Hypervelocity Cannon's magnetic coils then flared to life, further propelling that projectile at breakneck speeds. The target? The Bandit's torso, striking center of mass, right where the Oberth Reactor would be. Castle doubted that it would be able to pierce through, considering the HAG was unable to cut it-- but the EMI field should throw the machine for a loop, as it crippled system after system.

Assuming, of course, it had no countermeasures in place for an event like this.
I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to a Discord server, so long as we continue to get some activity here on the RP.

Speaking of which, I live. Sort of. I'll try to get a post out soonish.
War Room

"Indeed." Balthazar said in agreement. The Prince and his retinue certainly had a way of attracting strange folk. "As for Sir Siegfried, we've yet to receive word from him. He has sent no riders or messengers ahead to meet us, perhaps so as not to alert the invaders." The lord explained, before moving to address the Duke's other concern. "Rest assured, however: unless they have been delayed for some reason or another, we can expect their arrival tomorrow." Siegfried could be a stubborn old fool with no regard for subtlety... but he could be relied upon to do what was necessary, when it was required of him.

The man watched as the Duke took off his crown-- a gesture that would be dangerous in a public crowd. After all, to do something like that would be to show weakness. Still, if the spymaster knew anything, it was that the weight of the crown was immense. In a gesture of solidarity, Balthazar leaned backward in his chair, allowing the tenseness in his body to slacken, if only for a moment. "I believe we've earned ourselves a moment of respite, my friend." He says, finishing his report and setting aside his pen. It will take some time for new reports to come in, and it was important to take rare moments like this to recuperate.

"All things considered, our forces have been holding out quite well." Balthazar mused, recalling the casualty report from memory. "It is my hope that by the time this concludes, the damage to the city's infrastructure would not be too great." The walls would need repair, as would the gate and the keep itself, but overall, things would hold for now.

He hoped that if all went well, things would stay that way.

Co-GM IC:

North Gate

The soldiers atop the walls rallied at the sight of their Prince, having charged headlong towards the enemies without fear. The men engaged the orcs in battle, and while it was quickly made evident that these invaders were not mere untrained goblins, but bloodthirsty warriors, they managed to put up a good fight. That is, of course, until Naysein began her battle-song. In an instant, her magic weaved its way into their hearts, and soon, a guardsman could indeed match an orc warrior in battle.

Leonidas dueled Bhakk Ashenskin, Zatana faced Ghukk Bonecrusher, and Naysein and the soldiers faced off against the orc warriors. The walls were a battlefield all of their own, the sounds of swords, steel, and song echoing for all to hear. As archers and riflemen dealt with the orcs in the battlefield below, so too did the guardsmen fight atop the walls. It almost seemed as if many of them were now timing their attacks to the bard's ballad, the rhythm of battle made literal in all its forms.

The prince finished off his opponent, a flash of golden light upon his hammer, while the assassin executed her target, her daggers slick with orc blood. The defeat of the orc lieutenants-- the blood brothers Bhakk and Ghukk, quickly crushed enemy morale, which was only exacerbated by the bard's blades and songs. Soon, the orcs are driven from the walls, leaving only stragglers... and the grappling hook that remains.

West Gate

The men atop the walls, though at first afraid, remembered their training and quickly formed up behind their lieutenant. Rudolph and his shield wall began pushing towards the goblin honor guard, the more experienced men at the front. They prepared to clash against Adgak and his goblins, but of course, they weren't the only ones atop the wall. Merik quickly closed the gap between the two forces, landing in the center. His words intimidated some of the goblins, but the presence of their warchief made it so that they did not hesitate.

Merik's sword swings were powerful, and drove many of the goblins back. The unlucky few caught by his first attack were cleaved in twain, thrown off the walls, or both. Soon however, with a shout from their warchief, they reformed ranks, now much harder to displace. Rudolph and his men were quick to assist the lizardman before he could become too surrounded, the two shield walls now face-to-face.

The goblins' tall shields and heavy armor made it difficult for the riflemen and bowmen to score any kills, but occasionally, a projectile would make it through the overlapped plates of metal and find purchase in goblin flesh. If this didn't kill, it would distract the enemy long enough for Rudolph or one of his men to finish them off. Adgak and his honor guard however, were not to be trifled with. They made sure that for every goblin killed, a soldier or two was killed. The warchief himself was no pushover, either-- he would wade through the ranks, strike at an opponent's legs, and retreat before he could suffer any reprisal.

These goblins weren't receiving any reinforcements, the fodder still having run for the hills. However, the effects were beginning to wane, and a few of them have begun to watch the battle take place on the walls. The defenders would have to defeat these goblins soon, or they would rally, and the siege on this part of the wall would start all over again! Perhaps they could try to kill their warchief, rout the honor guard, or try to dislodge the grappling hooks... whatever they choose, they cannot let this battle prolong.

East Gate

Faira and her men pushed forward across the walls, the reinforcements being a boon in that regard. She and the more experienced guardsmen killed the goblins in their paths, while the less experienced conscripts provided support. The lives of several men were lost in the push to reclaim the wall, but for every man that was killed, they had taken the lives of a few goblins. This ruthless calculus meant that eventually, the goblins, whose main strength were their numbers, were eventually defeated.

The mercenary rode the ladder down onto the fields where Manald was engaging the other troll. Her use of fire quickly put a stop to the troll's rapid regeneration, as the flames would cauterize their wounds and stop them from healing properly. With the axe troll thoroughly dead, the fiery dagger was sent flying in the direction of the hammer troll as the lycanthrope continued his charge.

The troll at the gate was hard at work in its attempts to break down the gate. It let out a roar as pain shot up its body, courtesy of Faira's dagger. It turned around to see Manald wielding an axe and moved to block the attack, but it was far too slow, compared to the swiftness of the Beastman. The axe found its mark in the creature's heart-- not quite the head, but while an attack like that would be a deathblow for most other creatures, this was a troll.

The hammer-wielding troll dropped its weapon, pulled the flaming dagger from its back, and opted to engage Manald in close quarters. Meanwhile, the goblin forces, without a ladder to climb, decide to try and attack Faira, sensing the lack of her other weapon. The riflemen and bowmen atop the walls continued to try and kill the goblins around her, but there were quite a few of them. Desperation and fear fueling their attacks, the enemies continued their assault.

Sewers

Both men and goblin alike were surprised when Drana's magic caused a wall of fire to erupt from the ground. Now that the enemies were thoroughly stopped in their tracks, this gave the heroes time to allow the militia to regain their bearings. A combination of combat, tactics, and magic were used in conjunction to push the goblins back. Near the fight's climax, Acrius lobbed a cluster of bombs at the wolves that were carrying the rest of the explosives, causing an earth-shaking detonation.

When the dust settled, Acrius would find himself mostly unharmed, damage to him prevented by the magical barrier. With the goblins' entrance to the sewers cut off, the few enemies that remained were quickly killed. Damage to the city's sewer system would be expensive to repair, but it was worth it-- better to deal with that down the line, than to face goblins and orcs within the city itself. As a result, it's quite likely that the sappers would try to seek alternate entrances to the city from different angles; likely one of the gates.

There were a few casualties, but thanks to the pair's assistance, most men would walk away alive, if a little shaken. The men that were injured had anything from sword cuts to missing limbs (though these were mostly fingers and toes), courtesy of goblin explosives. In spite of it all, one thing was for certain: the sewers were secure for now, and the defenders could choose to reinforce another part of the city's defenses, or report to the War Room, if they so chose.
War Room

The War Room was a battlefield on its own, but instead of swords and blood, this battle was fought with pens and ink. It was from here that nobles and commanders would decide where to move and strike. Lord Balthazar and Duke Karstilli were hard at work, sifting through reports, managing resources, and sending orders down the line to the commanders and lieutenants that would issue them to their men. Scribes and pages quickly transcribed their words into writing, while Balthazar's Record-Hunters found new employment in making everyone's lives easier; they would help seek out records, pass paper and ink, write things down, or even move pieces around the strategic map.

"New reports have come in, m'lord." A soldier bows to Duke Karstilli and to Balthazar. The man quickly passes off his papers, before returning to his duties. The two noblemen at the table took the time to review the reports-- updated information was crucial in any battle, after all.

Balthazar shook his head as he read through the accounts from the various battlefronts. With the presence of the more dangerous Orcs, the North Gate was under heavy attack-- though he was confident that the presence of Naysein would quickly turn the tide there. Meanwhile, it seemed that the West Gate was holding fine, all things considered. Their battering ram was destroyed, and it would no doubt force the Goblins on that side to take a new approach. The East Gate was in a bit of trouble, though. With the presence of both ladders and trolls, they would have to mount a desperate defense. He has not yet received any information about the Sewers, but...

"Lord Balthazar, someone wishes to speak to you-- he bears the seal of the Royal Guard!"

The Spymaster paused for only a moment. Did someone of the Royal Guard fall in battle already?

"Let him through."

The guardsman allowed a young man-- no, a boy in the garb of a conscript to enter. The boy in front of him was a pale, spindly one. He looked as if he could not even muster the strength to lift his pike. For a moment, it seemed as if he was happy to be away from the battle, but now that he's face-to-face with noblemen, his fearful demeanor had returned. The boy bowed deeply, faltering in the presence of his betters, before stammering out half-hearted greetings. This prompted Balthazar to initiate.

"Who are you, and what message do you bring?"

"Ah, uhm, my name is Malfoy, m'lord. I bring a message from Sir Acrius."

Figures. To trust someone like this with the Seal of the Royal Guard? You'd either need to be very trusting, or very careless.

"Go on."

"...we were fighting the Goblins in the Sewers when a priestess and two warriors showed up to help us. They came from the other side, and--"

"Out with it. We don't have all day."

"Oh, uh, Drana Turash of the 'Sacred order'-- that was her name. Sir Acrius wanted to ask you for information about her."

"The Sacred Order..? She is a long way from her temple." Balthazar mused. "...And Turash. That's a noble house of some controversy..." The man thinks to himself, before snapping his fingers. In an instant, one of the Record-Hunters brings forth a sheet of parchment, while another hauls a quill and inkwell to its master.

"I must gather more information first. For now, tell Acrius that he must focus on the battle at hand... and keep an on the Turash girl. She may be a worthwhile asset, but we cannot be certain of her intentions yet." Balthazar takes the quill in his hand, before dismissing the boy with a nod. Malfoy quickly nods back, before then running off.

From there, the orders from the War Room come shortly after. The injured and wounded would be moved into field clinics, with fresh bodies to replace their losses. The East Gate would be reinforced by the reserves-- of which, there are not many, but it is all they can spare. Lastly, Balthazar would then pass off a message to Miss Mary, who would then subsequently pass that on to one of his informants, who would look into this mysterious cleric.

But while Balthazar and Karstilli work, the other members of the Royal Guard had their own problems to worry about.

Co-GM IC:

North Gate

Between Leonidas, Naysein, and the soldiers atop the wall, many Orcs never make it to the battlements. Thanks to Zatana and the crew manning the cannons, the enemy archers were quickly silenced, their tough hide no match for Dwarven artillery. Their combined efforts meant a minimum loss of life for the defenders and with reinforcements moving to replace the wounded, things are looking up for those stationed at the North Gate.

Unfortunately, a few grappling hooks remain, and as one soldier moves to dislodge it, an Orc hand takes hold of the hapless man's chainmail. The soldier screams as he's thrown from the battlements, a heavy thud announcing his death-- and the arrival of Orcs, several Orcs make it atop the wall. One of them has skin the color of ash, wears medium bone armor, and wields a wicked-looking sword and a heavy iron shield in his hands. Another one is tall, even among his kind, wears heavy plate armor, and holds a massive warhammer in his hands. These two in particular seem to be a cut above the rest, even among vicious Orcs.

Several soldiers move to try and kill the invaders and dislodge the grappling hooks, but they are quickly killed by the two Orcs at the front. Behind them, several more Orcs appear as reinforcements-- it seems they defer to the leadership of these Orc Lieutenants. The one with the blade speaks, in heavily-accented Common.

"Hear me, Manswine! I am Bhakk Ashenskin, and any man who throws down their blade will be granted a swift death!" He grins wildly, blocking an arrow aimed at him with his shield.

"And my name is Ghukk Bonecrusher-- any who wish to test their mettle against my hammer will learn why I am called Bonecrusher!" A bullet ricochets off of his heavy plate armor, the Orc in question undeterred by the bite of a gnat.

The pair let out a rallying cry, which prompts the Orcs behind them to deliver a warcry of their own. This emboldens the attackers and demoralizes the defenders. Those atop the wall must defeat these lieutenants, the warriors accompanying them, and dislodge the grappling hooks before they are overwhelmed!

West Gate

Merik's thunderous roar sent most of the fodder running for the hills. The sappers quickly abandon their task of clearing the rubble and blasting through the gate aside, their reason replaced with a primal fear of dragons and their ilk. The Goblins who were climbing the walls, on the other hand, had no choice but to push forward in spite of it, and they were quickly cut down by the work of Rudolph and his men. Wounded soldiers were quickly replaced for fresh ones, and for a minute, it almost seems like they've managed to successfully repel this attack force.

That is, however, until a group of Goblins makes it atop the walls. These ones move with a speed unexpected of normal Goblins-- it seems these are trained warriors, either unaffected or drawn to the battlements by Merik's draconic roar. These enemies seem to wield proper weapons and wear scraps of metal armor, likely scavenged from dead and fallen warriors. In the center of these armored Goblins, is one that walks with a swagger and confidence. Unlike the others, he holds an ornate shortsword in his hands and wears bone armor, with trinkets and baubles in plain sight.

"I am the Goblin Warchief, Adgak the Heel-Slicer! We spent all week working on that ram, and we're here for revenge!"

The Goblins let out warcries as they fan out, quickly attacking and killing any stragglers, before switching to a shield wall, their tall shields allowing them to hide behind and deflect any normal projectiles in their way. If the defenders can defeat these Goblins and their Warchief, this battle can be won!

East Gate

As Faira and her men push towards the ladders, reinforcements from the Keep had arrived to provide their assistance. These were conscripts and levies-- not true soldiers, but perhaps their numbers would help make a difference. The Goblins begin to push but are caught in a pincer between Faira and the soldiers, and the new arrivals who were sent to assist. This would hold them for now, but this stalemate had to be broken soon, or the pendulum would swing in the favor of one side or the other.

Meanwhile, Manald wreaks havoc in the fields below. His display of brutality had managed to take one of the Trolls out of commission and had sent the surrounding Goblins into a panicking retreat. He was uncertain if this was enough to kill the Troll in its entirety, but he was certain that for now, it would not be able to do anything about it. The Hammer Troll let out a furious roar and began smashing the gate apart with its hammer. Thankfully, the city gates are quite resilient, and this one had not sustained any damage up to this point, so the East Gate would hold... for now.

The defenders had to kill the Goblins atop the walls, destroy the ladders the stop further reinforcements, and find a permanent end for the Trolls, or this battle would go on for as long as it had to.

Sewers

Acrius and his men had managed to hold against both Goblins and their beasts, the ferocity of these animals failing to triumph over the strategies of war that humanity had cultivated over centuries of conflict. Soon, another wave would arrive to attack, but the ambush from Drana would cause these Goblins to fall just as quickly as the last group. A group of soldiers (and Malfoy) from the surface would come to replace the wounded and fatigued, but thanks to the healing spell, there was no need for a rotation. Instead, these men joined their ranks, in anticipation of a larger attack wave soon.

The runner sent by Acrius, Malfoy, would quickly move towards his commanding officer and relay what Balthazar had told him. It was, admittedly, not very useful information, if at all, but there was at least a reassurance that the spymaster would look into this matter further. There was a small lull in the activity, giving Acrius and Drana some time to discuss this further, but soon, another attack comes.

From behind the corner, it is not easy to be ambushed-- all the defenders have to do is simply wait for another wave. This time, however, is different-- there's a bit of commotion, but they stop before they can be seen. Cowardice, perhaps? Their answer comes in the form of a pair of wooden balls that roll across the floor, prompting those at the front to wonder what exactly they are.

They realize the presence of the fuses too late.

Bright flashes and thunderous noises erupt from the devices-- and those who weren't able to look away or cover their ears to be blinded and deafened respectively, for a short time. From here the next wave arrives; Goblins, Wolves, and a team of sappers that look more experienced than their kin. Most Goblin explosives cannot match up to those of Dwarves, but if anything, Goblins are crafty beings, capable of innovation never seen before.

Perhaps if they can manage to do so, they can... appropriate these explosives and use it to seal the tunnels the Goblins used to get in-- that would certainly end attacks from the Sewers... but first, the defenders must defeat this wave of Goblins, Wolves, and explosive-wielding Sappers. Avoiding explosives in the middle of a dark, damp sewer will be difficult, but it seemed, at least, that the Sappers weren't willing to blow up their own forces. Of course, that would not stop them from trying to disrupt the ranks of the defenders. This was certain to be an... interesting battle.
Co-GM IC:

North Gate

Leonidas and Zatana's continuous barrage of arrows helps keep the Orcs at bay, their precise shots putting down more than a few. Still, try as they might, the Orcs' superior toughness means that it will take more than a few arrows to stop their approach. The ones that do make it across the moat manage to reach the walls. The Orcish vanguard reach into their packs and retrieve grappling hooks and toss them skyward, the hooks catching on the crenellations. It seems they've practiced such maneuvers before, and it is clear that they intend to scale the wall!

Several archers and riflemen switch priorities to try and dislodge the hooks, but those who do are picked off by opposing Orc archers who were awaiting an opportunity for people to poke their heads past the battlements. This presents a difficult situation for the defenders; there are Orcs trying to scale the wall with grappling hooks, and if they manage to climb up, then they will certainly be able to kill any archer who tries to stop them. And yet, anyone who tries to remove those hooks will be attacked by the enemy archers. To top it all off, the enemy's numbers have yet to thin. The defenders must break this stalemate soon, or the defense will certainly fail!

West Gate

With a well-placed catapult shot by Rudolph and some clever use of tar and explosives by Merik, the battering ram falls by the time it reaches the gate. The Goblins hiding within the ram quickly scatter, retreating back to their lines, but they're soon shot and killed. The gate was damaged in the defense and the fiery impromptu barricade would be certain to provide deterrence for any future gate assaults... for now.

In response, the Goblins switch tactics. Soon, enemy artillery is aimed at parts of the wall. One boulder misses, harmlessly splashing on the moat below, but another crashes into the battlements. The men on that section of the wall are killed or injured, and the Goblins use that moment of pandemonium to charge the walls. Grappling hooks are used to quickly ascend the walls, and soon, Goblins are trying to scale the wall. A more perceptive individual may notice, however, the presence of several sappers near the gate-- it seems they're attempting to clear the flaming rubble to try and blast the gate open with explosives again. In the state that the gate is in... they might actually succeed if they manage to accomplish their task. The defenders must contend with Goblins atop the walls, and at the gates!

East Gate

With Faira's assistance, the soldiers manage to destroy or dislodge many of the ladders that go up... but unfortunately, they could not destroy all of them in time. A few siege ladders remain, and they were designed with volume in mind-- every few seconds, more and more Goblins appear upon the walls. Thankfully, they're not as difficult to deal with as Orcs, but their numbers threaten to destroy the defenders atop the walls! They must push towards those remaining ladders and destroy them before they are overwhelmed!

Meanwhile, Manald rampages on the grounds below. Many Goblins are rightfully afraid of the enraged Beastman and stay away, but those foolish enough to challenge him are torn to shreds. The siege Trolls, however, were less intimidated. Any arrow or bullet directed at the trolls quickly bounce off their armor, and the few that strike true and hit flesh are quickly rendered useless, as the Trolls seem to regenerate from their wounds in a matter of seconds! The pair look at one another and then nod, a plan forming in their heads. The one with the giant axe goes on the attack, swinging his implement of destruction in wide arcs that are hard to evade. As the axe Troll faces off against Manald, the hammer Troll attempts to move past their engagement to try and break down the gate. With his focus split between Goblins, the Troll ahead of him, and the Troll trying to destroy the gate, the Beastman must find a way to even the tide, and quickly!

Sewers

Between the efforts of Acrius and Petyr, the enemy numbers are quickly thinned. Soon, they both manage to make it back to formation-- and just in time, too. Soon, the second wave of Goblins arrive, and this time, they've brought equalizers of their own: wolves. The beasts are not hard to deal with individually, but wolves hunt in packs and are well-accustomed to fighting alongside both other wolves and their Goblin masters. In the dark, damp corridors of the sewers, it will take more than just skill at arms... this will be a test of coordination.

Whose strategies will win: the tactics of men, or the tactics of beasts?
Within the confines of his room, the chill of the cold morning air was counteracted by the still-warm embers of the hearth. Balthazar wordlessly sat up from his bed, before moving to stand up. Decades of experience had made the spymaster an early riser, and besides-- the old man didn't like sleeping for too long.

Long slumbers had a tendency to dredge up old memories.

With the sun still cresting the horizon, the spymaster decided to do his morning routine while there was still time. He started by doing some stretches, followed by general calisthenics. He did not exercise as strenuously as some of the other, more martially-inclined members of the Royal Guard, but Balthazar knew that as he was getting older. He needed to keep his body as sharp as he kept his mind if he wanted to be of any use.

And so he did.

By the end of his workout, the old man had worked up a bit of a sweat. The secret to his remarkable physique for someone as old as he was was not a complex one: the body was a tool like any other, and if you took good care of your tools, then they will last you a lifetime. Balthazar moved to clean himself up with a nearby basin of water and some linens when he heard a knock at the door.

"M'lord, the Prince has called for you. He awaits you in the War Room."

He recognized that voice, even from behind the door.

"I'll be right out, Miss Mary. Allow me to get dressed." Balthazar replied as he wiped himself clean. He made himself look presentable enough, before opening the door to meet her.

"I have another task for you if you are available, Miss Mary."

She hesitated for a moment, before responding. "W-what is it, m'lord?"

"A friend of mine is waiting outside the gates of the Keep. He is dressed in a red cloak." The old man said, before handing her a token. "Give this to him-- he will know it is from me."

"...and then?"

"And then, you will receive his package and have it ready for me by the time I reach the War Room."

Mary was silent, her mind turning to thoughts of suspicion and worry. Balthazar was quick to reassure her.

"Do this for me, and I will pay you." He says. "...do it discreetly, and I will ensure you are rewarded handsomely."

She clutched the token in her hands tightly before nodding, resolute. "Yes, m'lord.

With that, she was off, and the old man returned to his bedroom to change in full. He slipped on his normal attire, a set of scholar's robes and traveler's clothes-- court finery was better suited to courts, not strategy meetings. With a sigh, Balthazar put on his glasses. He could see just fine at a distance, but he needed them to examine things up close, which was a necessary act for his profession. After securing the rest of his equipment, he exited his quarters and made a beeline towards the War Room. Breakfast could wait until after the Prince's briefings.



Balthazar was punctual as he usually was. He gave the Prince a formal bow and greeting, before moving to his side. The spymaster took a few moments to go over the reports Zatana and Faira had brought back, as well as to recall the Record-Hunters to his service. Roughly fifty Goblins working on twenty siege ladders in the dead of night. Troubling information. As well as Acrius struggling with a woman-- complete with a sketch (in a handcrafted tiny book, no less). As entertaining as that was, it was irrelevant to the current situation. The old man decided to open his other reports once it was just the Royal Guard.

For all her faults, it seemed that Miss Mary could be relied upon to do this much, at the very least.

The remainder of the city's captains, as well as the other members of the Royal Guard, funneled in, the Prince began his speech. With siege ladders to the east, Orcs to the north, battering rams to the west, and Sappers in the city's sewer systems, the defenders had quite a bit on their hands today. Soon, the captains had left, and talk had shifted as to where each member of the Royal Guard would be placed to assist.

Balthazar had an idea of where his place was to be.

"My place is here in the War Room, your Majesty." Balthazar started. "...but if my magic is required elsewhere, I believe it would find its strongest use in the sewers. " The dark, tight corridors were difficult to maneuver in, which made evading his magic a difficult prospect. In addition, while Goblins are well-suited to seeing in darkness, only those with magic could peer through magical darkness-- something that would level the playing field, so long as the frontline could hold. "Of course, I can act flexible enough to be anywhere you require, Your Majesty. "

When Zatana had broached the topic of sneaking behind enemy lines to search for more information, and perhaps to sabotage their supplies. A good enough time as any, Balthazar reached into his coat pocket to examine his parcel. Thankfully, it was untampered. He began examining the reports from his other informants, as well as the collaboration between his agents and that of Duke Karstilli's scouts. The results were... fruitful, to say the least.

"Before we discuss that, I feel I should share my findings." Balthazar began. "Firstly, it appears more Goblins have arrived to reinforce the losses they took yesterday." He said. "In fact, it's quite likely that we will be dealing with more today than we did yesterday."

"Secondly, it appears our Dwarven allies are delayed. It appears the tunnels they used to move around in the area have been collapsed." He explained. "It will take some time to clear them-- assuming nothing interferes with them, I expect them to do so within a few days, perhaps a week depending on the damage."

"Lastly, some of our scouts have managed to spot their camp." He announced, pointing to its location on the map. "While surveilling the area, they had spotted an unfamiliar figure within the Orcs. Reportedly, they appeared to be humanoid, but they were not Goblin or Orc." Balthazar stated. "Although we have nothing to confirm such things, I would surmise that this figure is responsible for the advanced tactics of these invaders."

"I'd go as far as to say that they are the brains of the operation. If we can eliminate them, then their army will fall into disarray." He finished. "...Unfortunately for us, it appears their campsite is constantly on the move, likely in an effort to avoid such tactics." Whoever was leading this army was intelligent enough to try and avoid being caught out in the open, at the very least. The spymaster then turned to Zatana. "If you wish to look for information, I'd start there, and then perhaps move to track their whereabouts."

"However... it is a mission fraught with risk and danger." Balthazar continued. "We should not overplay our hand, especially in a precarious position like this." He explained. "I think you should stay here and help us repel the next wave, and await an opportunity to strike. Of course, if an opportunity to disrupt their supply lines presents itself... then by all means."

He then turned to the Prince and the Duke. "What do you think, Your Majesty? And you, Duke Karstilli?" In the end, Prince Leonidas' word was final, and of course, Duke Karstilli could easily voice his own opinion. Balthazar was simply an advisor, and he knew it. Still, the role suited him just fine.
Glad to hear from ya. I'll send in my response to Adam in the next wave of replies.
Posted. Jeez, that took a while. Sorry about the delay-- it's exams over here too, and I've been feeling a little uninspired. Hopefully now I can get back into the saddle proper.




The desert had come alive with the screams of the dead and forgotten, but instead of flesh, it was steel. The comms flared to life with activity. Any illusion that this was just another rock had quickly faded. The Pandora had just given them permission to engage, now that the prospects of a peaceful First Contact scenario had passed. It was time to fight.

And so they did.

<<Copy that, Pandora. Firing salvo.>>

Firing solutions popped up on the Orbital's HUD, allowing for a great degree of multi-tasking. The shoulder-mounted missile battery let loose a barrage of Akon-- long-range rockets that flew like the javelins of old. On impact, they left craters in the desert sand, turning the ground to glass. The Hephaestus Assault Gun in the Ajax's arms roared with fury as it spat out round after round of explosive ordnance. Holden was uncertain about whether or not the alien machines used similar alloys to the ones they use back home, but he was certain that it would punch straight through all the same.

As the Hypervelocity Driver charged, Castle surveyed the scene. The hostiles were focused on Gypsy Soul and Aurora. The Odysseus and the Casket were assisting with the defense on the ground, while the Bedwyr was providing air support. Although the shuttle was flying away and was largely ignored by the enemies, it still needed proper protection. The Casket would have been the ideal candidate in that regard, as it would fit its role, but with all hands full, the Ajax's pilot decided to take things into his own hands.

<<This is Castle Two-One to Explorer One. I'll cover your retreat as you go-- don't stay too long.>>

With that, nearly eighty metric tons of mass began maneuvering across the sand, making its way to intercept the shuttle's escape path. As one of the more armored Orbitals of the ground team, the Ajax was well-suited to the role of backline-defender. With its artillery, it could easily stay in the back, protect what was necessary, and still lay down suitable fire support, all from a distance. With all the other Orbitals providing him with more than adequate information to create firing solutions, there was no problem, for the most part.

Of course, an Orbital capable of flight would've been a better option to play babysitter, but you make do with what you have. As much as it pained him to say it, this was what he was good at. This battle was as transient as the shifting sands of the desert, and yet, Castle felt alive. There was no time to stop and smell the flowers, though.

It was time to get to work.
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