Khaj-Mari

Zhul-Mar: Under Siege

"Go! Spread the word! I'm your friend!"

Two days after Salenda Athysh’s platoon finished cleaning out the Zhul-Mar outpost, her men were relieved by the new outpost commander, Captain Zilas. He arrived with an entire Tzezan of men of his own to garrison there and make preparations for another division of troops that were on the way.

In the mean time, Salenda and her own troops were granted time in the city of Khaj-Mari to train and relax.

Salenda trained in fighter and then in cleric, and just as she was finishing up her training week at the Temple of Chthallg in Khaj-Mari, an ogre slave went feral in the city street, and she was able to singlehandedly slay him on the steps of the temple before any harm could be done.

She and her men enjoyed some time off, but it was cut short when she received a message from her own Tzezan Commander Graf T’zaad to return to Zhul-Mar immediately, as the newly obtained outpost was under attack, and it looked like a full scale invasion!

They needed all the help they could get, so Salenda and her platoon took flight immediately, arriving in sight of Zhul-Mar by late afternoon.

There, they discovered that the fortress was surrounded by a large number of veteran Midrythian troops with plenty of artillery.

They flew in steep and fast to avoid enemy fire on the way down, but Staff Sergeant Ormech was struck by a weighted net flung by a Midrythian scorpion artillery team. Ormech dropped like a stone from 100’ up, and was killed on impact.

With no time to mourn her platoon’s loss, Salenda rushed in to meet with Commander Zilas and learned that two days before, the Midrythians crossed the Wynn River at a point three miles north of Zhul-Mar, using many boats to do so. Their numbers were estimated to be as many as two thousand men, and they immediately marched south to surround Zhul-Mar. The Midrythians were well-prepared for battle with their aerial foes, having brought many artillery teams manning modified light scorpions capable of firing anti-personnel loads as well as large, fine-mesh weighted nets directly at any Ulaphians flying by within range.

With only a single division of troops manning the fortress, Cdr. Zilas feared that they would not be able to hold out for long, but Commander Graf’s Tzezan was on the way, and Lt. Salenda’s platoon was the first to arrive.

In the mean time, Cdr. Zilas had a plan.

Objective One: The Feint

Commander Zilas wanted to goad the Midrythians into making a larger scale attack and leave the safety of the trees. To do this, he intended to send four platoons (including Lt. Salenda’s) in a feint attack to the west, where there was less open ground.

With this large a group of Ulaphians leaving the compound, Zilas hoped that this would cause General Kelas-Attan (whom they suspected was leading the Midrythian forces) to take advantage of the situation and counter attack across open ground to the east and attempt to scale the walls.

There, within the courtyard on the east side of the compound, Zilas had eight platoons of Ulaphian elites ready to take flight at first sign of a Midrythian counter attack. Their orders would be to powerdive the advancing Midrythians in hopes to cause disorganization and morale failures that usually result from these kinds of Ulaphian tactics.

Lt. Salenda’s orders were to attack to the west, on foot if necessary, to provide the necessary distraction for the Midrythians to think that this is the main attack. Her platoon was to stand their ground as long as possible and to attack viciously and aggressively, and retreat back to the compound only if absolutely necessary.

Salenda surveyed the situation and realized that the Midrythians were well embedded just inside the tree line to the west, and knew that they’d need to attack on foot, opening themselves up to enemy fire the whole way there.

She decided to even the odds using magic and a secret weapon she’d hidden away in the vault below, just in case.

Salenda went down to the dungeon and retrieved her ghouls that she’d commanded before, and were still under her control.

Then, when the attack was ready, she had her platoon members each carry a ghoul over the wall and set it down in front of them. She ordered the ghouls to advance on the Midrythian position and slay and feed upon any in their path.

She and her men waited while the ghouls advanced and drew fire from the enemy scorpions, this time firing anti-personnel rounds (clusters of metal bullets fired at great velocity). When this grisly front nearly reached the Midrythian front line, she called a charge and her troops took wing, covering the distance between the fortress’ outer wall and the Midrythian artillery by skimming only a few yards above the ground, and doing so in a matter of seconds.

The ghouls slammed into the Midrythians, immediately causing gory casualties. Salenda ordered her platoon to land short of the line, however, and she began casting a spell. She struck one of the artillery team (the man responsible for loading one of the scorpions) with “Light”, and effectively blinded him.

The other artillerists fled their posts under the onslaught of the ghouls.

This caused the unsteady morale of a portion of the Midrythian line to waver, but strong leadership held them fast.

Salenda then cast “Befriend”, with astonishing success. Two of the three Midrythian platoon leaders – lieutenants in the Midrythian army – were immediately enthusiastically friendly towards her, and the Midrythian sergeants were scrambling over each other trying to win her favor! The third platoon leader had left his position in the front line, trying to get the fleeing artillerists to come back to their posts.

The regular Midrythian troops were also quite positively disposed towards her, and were pleading with her “what can we do, my lady!? What can we do to serve you?”.

Her response caused the collapse of the Midrythian line. “Go! Spread the word! I’m your friend! Tell the others! Go north, go south, tell all Midrythians how much I care for all of you!”

Three complete Midrythian platoons – almost 60 men – then parted down the middle and split up into two groups. One went north and plowed into other Midrythian positions there, and the other went south. The effect caused confusion and fear among the other Midrythians, who were at this point under attack by the other three Ulaphian platoons Cdr. Zilas had ordered to participate in this feint, and it was enough for them to gain the upper hand and push their enemy further back into the forest.

The third Midrythian platoon leader was affected by Salenda’s spell, but was uncertain, and would not act. Salenda asked him “will you join your companions in serving me?”.

He answered negatively, still unsure of what to do. Salenda ordered three ghouls to attack him, and they did so immediately, ending his confused life there on the battlefield.

At that point, the drums began to sound from within Zhul-Mar, which was the signal to retreat back to the outpost, so Salenda had two of her men pick up the other two Midrythian lieutenants and they retreated back behind the safety of Zhul-Mar’s walls.

Objective Two: River Reconnaissance

The feint, while successful in goading General Kelas-Attan to attack the perceived vulnerability he thought existed in the eastern side of the compound, still only slowed the Midrythians down. While both sides regrouped in the evening, Commander Graf’s Tzezan from Dul-Garad arrives with the other eleven platoons with whom Lt. Salenda normally serves.

This finally provided enough manpower to defend the walls against a full attack, though more troops were still on the way to even the odds.

With immediate defenses not as large an issue, Outpost Commander Zilas ordered Commander Graf to send a platoon to the river crossing under cover of darkness to see if any other Midrythians were on the way or camped near the crossing. He also ordered the capture of at least two more Midrythians for interrogation purposes, if it could be done without compromising the reconnaissance mission.

Graf selected Lt. Salenda’s platoon for this task.

Salenda and her men did a discreet flyover of the river crossing, three miles north, and discovered half a division of Midrythians, split into two groups of fifty men each, guarding the river. Among them were twenty large boats, presumably used by the main force to cross days before.

However, while in the air, Salenda noticed several other campfires visible, several miles to the east, in Midrythian territory. Curious, she and her men flew east and found that these fires belonged to two wagon teams of supply caravans, spaced a few miles apart from each other. They landed near one of them and found ten men there, one awake on sentry duty and tending a large campfire.

Seeing an opportunity to fulfill part of her mission here, she cast “Silence, 15’ Radius” on herself and had one of her platoon members accompany her into the camp. There, Salenda snuck up behind the sentry under magical silence and took him straight up into the air, while one of her men nabbed one of the sleeping Midrythians and did the same.

They headed back to base under cover of darkness.

Objective Three: Attack the Supply Line

The next day, armed with this new intelligence, Outpost Commander Zilas ordered Commander Graf to attack the half a division of Midrythians guarding the river crossing and prepare to defend that position in case General Kelas-Attan tries to take his main force into a full retreat.

Commander Graf suggested that while his main Tzezan is attacking the river guard, a platoon of elites should be sent east, deep into Midrythian territory to attack and harass the now relatively unguarded supply lines. Zilas agreed, and suggested Lt. Salenda for this task.

Salenda and her men head back over the river again, toward the road in the lightly forested area in Midrythian territory and they find one of the supply caravans. Like the other they had seen, this consisted of two wagons, heavy with food, arms, and armor, and ten supply troops.

Lt. Salenda employs the “Broken Sersh Maneuver” to lead these humans into a trap. Sersh, who has a double-jointed wing, pretended to crash land in front of the wagons, got up off the ground, and with his wing all twisted out of joint, proceeded to run off the road and into the trees.

The Midrythian supply troops, seeing this curious display as an opportunity to capture an enemy who is obviously deep in their home territory, followed him, weapons drawn.

And they followed him into an ambush.

Most of the Midrythians, seeing that they were surrounded by Ulaphians, surrendered immediately, though three of them found an opening and ran for it. Salenda ordered a few of her men to go after them, which they swiftly did, dispatching them efficiently.

Sersh grabbed one of the fleeing supply troops, carried him aloft to 100’ up, and dropped the man to his death, calling out “this is for Sergeant Ormech!”, much to the delight of the rest of the platoon.

With orders to leave none alive, Salenda had the captured supply troops executed, and, still seeing some daylight left, went further up the road to attack another set of supply wagons.

This pair of wagons was apparently having some trouble with one of the wagons’ wheels, however, for they were stopped, and all ten of the Midrythians manning these wagons were standing on the ground, waiting.

Salenda saw an opportunity to wipe them out easily, so she ordered a formation powerdive.

This was devastating. The platoon’s powerdive killed most of the Midrythians (and only two Ulaphians crash landed in the process!), and they captured the rest, and executed them as they had the other group.

Salenda and her men headed back to Zhul-Mar again, where she found that Cdr. Graf was victorious in his attack on the river crossing, and another division of Ulaphian troops had arrived to aid Cdr. Zilas in his defense of Zhul-mar.

Cdr. Zilas ordered Lt. Salenda and her platoon to resume their liberty at Khaj-Mari, and had her bring back with her a message for the commander of the base there.

When Salenda delivered the message, she discovered that it was orders from Cdr. Zilas to have her and her platoon awarded the Order of the Silver Trident – a commendation for valor in their deeds in defending Zhul-Mar, a great honor among the Ulaphian military.

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