Synopsis: The party rendezvous with their main force and prepare to do battle with the hobgoblins at Primrose. Pieter asserts his control over the mercenaries in a bloody manner. The faithful of Bahamut form their own company, Bahamut’s Talons, with Kiri’s permission. The next day, the forces of Evergreen Vale march on Primrose. The hobgoblins and their goblin, ogre, and bugbear minions are drawn into battle. The heroes’ plans and stratagems are successful as they and their forces charge into melee and throw the hobgoblins’ left wing into disarray.
Upon returning to the encampment of the forces of Evergreen Vale, Pieter was confronted by Sir Brandon the Lesser, the captain of the peasant levies recrutied from Ironhome. He complained that the mercenary company Pieter recruited, Redeye’s Swords had been causing trouble in the camp, its members instigating fights and engaging in petty theft. Pieter appeared to be very dismayed, and assured Sir Brandon that the mercenaries’ behavior reflected on him personally, and he would deal with the matter very firmly. This satisfied Sir Brandon, who allowed Pieter to handle the situation as he saw fit. Pieter ordered the troops into parade formation, so that he might address them. He lulled them with warm and congratulatory words, then, without warning, drew his fiery short sword and split Captain Redeye from crotch to gullet. Julie, Pieter’s trained guard drake, then leaped on the stricken mercenary and savaged him. Renaming them the ‘MORs’ Pieter siezed personal command of the company, and warned the white-faced mercenaries never to try his patience again, then dismissed them. Rumor spread throughout the camp about the brutal act, but there was great disbelief and little sympathy for the unpopular mercenaries.
Elsewhere, Sergeant Barringar, one of the peasant recruits, led a delegation to meet with Lady Kiri. He explained that many of the people of Evergreen Vale had been inspired by her heroic example, and requested that those who had pledged themselves to her deity, Bahumut, might form their own company, ’Kiri’s Talons’. Kiri was taken aback by this unexpected request, but finally assented. She did ask, however, that they take the name Bahamut’s Talons, instead, so as not to exalt her in an unseemly way.
Pele was kept busy into the night as her companions asked her help in enchanting various belongings to grant them protection in the coming battle. At last, the army settled into an uneasy sleep, prepared for the approaching conflict.
The next morning the captains set their plan into motion. During the night, their new Forest Goblin allies were seen creeping through the woods to set traps on the outskirts of Primrose. The dwarven mercenary company called the White Shields would march out onto the barren slope above Primrose and draw the hobgoblin army out into the open, and through the traps, disorganizing them. The Ironhome battalion waited in concealment to support them. On the left flank, the Ostlunders, protected by the peasant levies of the northern estates, stealthily advanced through the woods and set up their bolt throwers. Across the river, the gnomes and the wizards’ Triumvirate waited for the signal to take the hobgoblins from behind and unleash their magic. On the right flank, the heroes, Pieter’s mercenaries, Bahumut’s Talons, the elven survivors, and peasant levies of the southern estates, called the Southern Guard, prepared to launch the hammerblow.
The dwarves’ advance successfully drew out the main hobgoblin force. In the front marched hundreds of goblins in skirmish formation, under the banners of the Red Whip and the Green Eye. Guarding the flanks were more spear armed goblins – Red Whip auxiliaries. In the center, a strong block of bugbear shock troops armed with spiked war clubs marched to the left of the core force of Green Eye hobgoblins. The hobgoblins marched in perfect order, warded by a solid wall of shields, their burnished bronze scale armor glinting in the sun. Like islands among the sea of lesser monsters, two dozen hulking ogres lumbered among the ranks, several beating the time of the march on huge drums. Along the far left of the army, a column of goblins on wolves loped toward the foot of the wooded hills.
Cries of dismay were heard among the goblins of the skirmish line as they entered the abandoned southern districts of Primrose. Scores of the slave soldiers tumbled into spiked pits concealed by the forest goblins, or were brought low by trip wires. The forest goblins had had an easy time in setting up their traps, since many of the buildings of the ancient elves had been planeshifted back to the Feywild centuries ago, leaving convenient pits behind. Falling into disorder, the skirmishers tried to fall back, but their hobgoblin masters barked harsh orders, and the main battleline closed ranks and forced the goblins to continue forward, clearing the traps with their bodies.
As the enemy closed the distance, Sir Delba ordered the signal flag raised to order the White Shields to withdraw into the woods to pave the way for the Vale’s counterattack, but their captain, Jorek Whitebeard, tugging at his beard and then stomping firmly, refused to withdraw in the face of the hated goblinoids and ordered his dwarves to attack. Swearing, Delba ordered the body of troops with him to assault the hobgoblin left flank, starting with the column of wolf riders.
The assault began with a volley of arrows fired by the young elven survivors, cutting down many goblins and wolves and sowing confusion among their ranks. Next Kiri and Delba, accompanied by Bahamut’s Talon’s charged directly into the enemy. Pele and Pieter bombarded the wolf riders with spell and arrow, slaying many. Terrafina, muttering about ‘expendable troops’ rallied a large body of MORs around her and led a second charge as the wolf riders reeled from the initial shock. Terrafina herself leaped atop a fallen tree trunk and knocked a goblin from his mount, after which Helo quietly slipped in and silenced the enemy just as he has finished clambering to his feet.
The mangy leader of the wolf riders attempted to regroup his forces and sends two waves of reinforcements into the melee, riding down several Talons and MORs but was himself killed as the heroes concentrated their attacks on him. The remaining wolf riders were soon put to rout, with the Talons pursuing them to the river. Maintaining their momentum, the party and the MORs continued on, crashing into the goblin foot soldiers ahead of them.
The goblins and their hobgoblin overseer were ill prepared for the onslaught, and the overseer was driven into cover by Pieter’s arrows. However, an enormous siege ogre soon appeared in the goblin ranks. A compact siege tower, crewed by goblins, was harnessed to the brute’s back. The goblins launched fiery munitions from a catapult mounted in the tower, burning several MORs. Pele and Terrafina repeatedly blasted at the tower with spells, while Delba and Pieter finished off the overseer and routed most of the goblins. Kiri ducked under the reach of the catapult and smashed the tower’s supports with her hammer, sending the crew scrambling as it slipped from the ogre’s shoulders and smashed to pieces. The ogre went berserk, badly battering Kiri with its tree trunk sized war club, but Delba took advantage of its distraction to unbalance it and send it tumbling into a nearby pit. MORs quickly surrounded the roaring beast and shot it full of crossbow bolts before it could lever itself out of the pit.
With the death of the ogre, the entire left wing of the hobgoblin army collapsed as MORs gleefully chased down and massacred the fleeing goblin auxiliaries. The Southern Guard formed up behind the breathless heroes and awaited orders, as close by, a powerful band of bugbears massed for a counterattack…