Tanglestone

30 - Heart of Armorback Ward

In which an elven Remnant is but the first to die in fire, a portico is collapsed prematurely, and a would-be surgeon defends the discovery of a peculiar chelonian.

The Trade Union rests in the Hospital, though declining the various elective injections, poultices and leechings that the Doctors offer to speed their recovery. The following morning, they return to the northeast ward to continue their campaign against the Remnants. This time, they approach from the east. Peluma scouts ahead again, noting several instances of damage caused perhaps by giantish invaders, as well as the usual stoppered and blocked sewer entrances. The Remnants in the east portion of the ward seem to travel by rooftop as well as by the streets.

The group decides to take advantage of some of the weakened buildings by setting one to tumble down on a Remnant party. However, the initial choice stands over a particularly weakened floor, and Hinge warns them before Sym can engineer a particularly unfortunate collapse. Their luck remains poor: while Peluma is away slaying a few Remnant outriders, Dewlian prematurely collapses a weakened portico with a resounding crash. The group then moves to a defensible alley to face the certain investigation. The Remnant band that investigates is not particularly strong, but the maddened troll-eating dwarves deal some damage before being put down, and while one of the rooftop-running elven archers burns to death while fleeing, the other invokes the better part of valor and escapes.

As they press back into the ward, their approach is unmistakably lacking in stealth, but no further Remnants appear; it seems that the rag-tag former invaders suspect another ambush. Only one scout tracks the group, and Peluma dispatches him handily.

Shifting their approach, the Trade Union circles around to the northeast portion of the ward, where they find signs that the local camps have moved farther south, perhaps to investigate the caches or corpses of the fallen brethren there. The four decide that this would be a perfect opportunity to strike at the heart of the ward, perhaps catching the strongest of the Remnants. They’re able to approach without being noticed, where they note that a collapsed building has altered the skyline and a strange, loud metallic sound regularly echoes through the streets.

The source of the noise proves to be an immense golem, modeled in the shape of a dragon-headed turtle, pinned under the collapsed building and scraping repeatedly at the ground. Huge furrows mark the street — it may have been here for decades. Several of the group recognize that it’s marked with the astrological sigil for Archelos, the zodiac sign of the Dragon Turtle. Dewlian further recalls that the Scholarium of Central Tanglestone was said to have crafted fifteen zodiac golems to protect themselves and the city at large. The entire Trade Union resolves to free the golem: the only difficulty is the core band of troll-eater Remnants camped around the square. A particularly immense half-orc, seemingly altered by his diet of troll and perhaps by several surgeries, has claimed a camp atop the rubble pinning the Archelos golem in place.

The attack claims a few Remnant lives quickly, and then the skirmish moves from building to building. Peluma runs afoul of an orcish raider and an ogre brute, and is saved by her gifts of shadow. Hinge and Dewlian move quickly toward a second-story bridge that leads to the rubble heap, and are caught between a massive Remnant orc with an axe almost too heavy to lift and two lesser skirmishers. Sym, between dodging pellets from slingers atop the rubble pile, calls on the Forge Beast to assist him and Peluma with finishing the ogre.

As the battle moves from one building to the next, Hinge is knocked from a connecting bridge but clambers back up into the battle. All the while, the half-orc waits atop the turtle and the slingers take opportunity shots. As Dewlian, Sym and Hinge finally best the orcs, Peluma waits and bides her time. Then, once the slingers are struck down by Dewlian and Sym’s magic, Hinge makes the leap from crumbled bridge to rubble pile and engages the Remnant leader, the Forge-beast quick behind.

But the last Remnant is also the strongest. He matches Hinge blow for blow, enduring Dewlian’s invocations and Peluma’s strikes, and shrugging off or evading several of Sym’s conjurations. He even manages to knock Hinge into the path of the dragon turtle’s claw with a hooking strike, then nearly catches Sym with a leaping charge that puts him atop the crumbled bridge. Dewlian boldly engages him, but is nearly cut down; when the Librarian tries to grapple the Remnant into submission, he’s slashed away and hurled to the ground, where he nearly suffers a mortal wound. Fortunately, Hinge smashes the troll-eater into the jaws of the Forge Beast immediately afterwards, and swift medical attention rescues Dewlian. The group agrees to rest before attempting to free the golem: from behind, of course.

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