In the meantime, the Party has remained undetected for a few more precious seconds, allowing them to get closer to the gate-defenders. However, one of the archers fighting the ship notices them and raises the alarm. The party now opens fire on the defenders. Vulnerable as they are, this only aids their comrades. As defenders attack them, the pressure is lessened on the other town forces. Their advance on the gate slows as they begin peppering the defenders. For the moment they target only enemies on the river-side walls and a few reinforcements standing in the courtyard. As yet, due to the chaos and din, the gate defenders remain unaware of the Party’s presence, but this can last only a few moments more.
The arrival of the ships crew puts an end to whatever “secrecy” is left to the Party. Defenders from the wall, and reinforcements in the courtyard turn to deal with the ships crew, drawing the attention of the gate-defenders in the process, most stay at their posts, but some turn toward the Party to attempt to sweep them off the platform. Bigulf and Theo move to the front of the group to intercept the defenders, while the rest shoot arrows into the group attacking the ship crew. Occasionally, they take time to fire on the gate defenders as well, especially when one of their archers attempts to shoot Theo or Bigulf.
Sensing a lessening of pressure, and seeing a few defenders moving away from the gate, the ground troops rush the walls; the ballistae continue firing until the troops reach the wall, then the crews abandon their artillery and join the attack. Ladders are raised and the militia fights their way up the walls. The fighting is fierce here. For a minute or so there is nothing but feral savagery, then a hole in the defense is opened, and the militia gain the wall. First one, then three, suddenly a man is over the gate, waving the Town Flag, rallying troops to him.
Bigulf and Theo have been hacking and tearing their way towards the gate, carving a pathway through the defense. Bern, Lassidil and Hans have been pouring arrows into the crowd below. Some defenders have attempted to get up to them but are quickly shot down. The true savagery however is at the dock-gate. The ships crew is being cut down and pressed back further and further. They are lightly armoured and armed only with short swords and bows. Now they are on the ground, facing the main force of the garrison and are heavily outnumbered and out classed and paying the price for their bravery. It is crucial to get the ground forces in as quickly as possible. While the militia has gained a foothold on the walls, they don’t yet control them and have yet to reach below to the gate itself. As yet, they can’t help the beleaguered ships crew. The Party redoubles their efforts to get to the gate.
Foot by blood-drenched foot, they draw nearer, until, realizing they’re under attack from both sides, resistance on the wall collapses, most stop fighting, a few try to leap over the wall, chancing broken bones in the fall. Lassidil rushes forward and again, utilizes Warp Wood to open the main gate. Militia troops storm through, chopping the defenders into scraps. The town forces slam ferociously into the rear of the defenders. They are angry, frightened and desperate to help their comrades. These are their neighbors and friends, in some cases even family, and they’re all defending their home. The Party, followed by several militia troops, runs back along the wall to get to the ships crew and help them from that side.
Eventually, after more blood, more tears, and more effort, the fight is ended, the last to fall is a group of savage, unrelenting gnolls who tried, even with their dying gasps to rend and tear their enemies. A seeming quiet descends for a few moments. Not a true silence, there is still plenty of noise, ragged breathing, weeping, cries for aid, and muttered words of comfort, but for a few moments it seems quiet. This short respite comes to an end as the attackers now turn their attention to the tower.
Seeing a few closed windows at what must be the second level, ladders are brought up and Bern ascends. Reaching a window, he bashes it open and peers inside. All he can see is an empty room with a closed door. The window itself is barely large enough to let one person in at a time, and they’d have to struggle to do that. Any thought of entering that way is abandoned.
The Party (and especially Amrun) is anxious about the missing prisoners. It seems likely that they’d be held here, and if so, it’s imperative to find them before any harm comes to them (if it’s not already too late), so they must get into the tower quickly. Rushing around the tower, the troops and Party come to a halt as the see the two sentries guarding the doors. Standing still as the proverbial statues, they neither stir nor even turn their heads towards the attackers. Each is armed with a long halberd and is encased in armor. It is clear from the debris and a scuffmark here and there on their armor, that they have remained at their post for the entire battle. Indeed, recalling that they had seen at least one of the sentries earlier, the Party says that it appears the two haven’t moved an inch. Cautiously the Party edges towards the guards. A few of the braver (or more foolhardy) troops do as well. The guards remain utterly immobile. Then, as some of the attackers come within about ten feet of them, both turn astonishingly fast towards the group, halberds poised to stab or chop. Clearly they are some type of automaton, but the question of what they are and where they come from must wait. Right now they are merely a hindrance to entering the tower.
The Party and some of the Militia swarm the guards and make relatively short work of them. Then, the Party readies itself to enter the tower. Opening the doors, they find the living quarters of the garrison. Bedrolls and personal belongings cover much of this area. This lower floor is, however, deserted. Moving to the stairs, the Party moves to the second floor. Here, they find the prisons (being in such a marshy area, the tower has no lower levels.) Again, this level is deserted. However, searching the two cells (one is the empty room Bern looked into earlier), they find Amrun’s family. They look wan and haggard, and are clearly in a bad way. The cell stinks of filth. The Party is told that the garrison stopped delivering food or drink a few days ago (coinciding with out raid on Opal House). Amrun stays with them and begins to help them out. He plans to rejoin us once he’s coordinated with the Militia to aid his family. Again moving up a level, the Party this time is confronted by a small number of bandits, mostly orcs. After a brief and one-sided fight, which ends with all but one bandit who surrendered) dead, the Party moves on (after calling down to the Militia to expect a prisoner.). In the relative quiet, voices can be faintly heard from the floor above. It’s difficult to be sure, but it sounds like an argument. Amrun returns, and the Party proceeds upstairs. This level houses nicer living quarters. On the right, there are two rooms and on the left, one, larger room. The hall is empty. All the voices are coming from the larger room. The two smaller rooms are found to be empty, so the Party quietly stations itself outside the door to the main room. Listening for a brief moment, two or three voices can be distinguished, with another, oddly high and scratchy one as well. The Party takes a deep breath…