At last it is ours…
THE SIEGE OF THE WATCHTOWER
Time was running short, and if we were going to reclaim the tower from the hobgoblin garrison, then it would need to be done soon. Horrible storms had already swept across Varisia, and once fall finally gave way to true Winter, then any hope of attack would be gone. It would be far better, to let the hobgoblins stew over the loss while we did what we could to fortify our position and prepared for the inevitable counter attack on the watch tower. But before we could do any of this.. we had to take it back.
Our attacks along the supply road had weakened the garrison, and there would not be a better chance, although we knew precious little about what waited for us inside. Olli was able to estimate how many troops were garrisoned by counting the food they consumed. When combined with reports of caravans, a clear picture was painted in that we would be hard pressed, but it was far from impossible odds.
On the morning of the attack, we swept in through the hidden entrance, knowing that it would be the only way inside without facing withering fire from above. Hopefully they had not had much chance to reinforce or prepare that entrance to repel invaders, or else our attack would be extremely short lived. As we burst into the structure, we came across a group of slaves and cooks who were preparing a side of beef for their hobgoblin masters.
All of us had prepared ourselves for the combat as best we could, and possessed a number of magical items that would empower and protect us. My own powers were growing, and recently I had taught myself how to cast my druidical magic while still in the form of a beast. Olli, Zuristoi, Thrindil and I had made ourselves as ready as we possible could, because this was an all or nothing gamble. For the first time, Ahoot and I were fighting side by side.. Armored bear and armored cat, tearing into the hobgoblins as best we could. It frightens and exhilirates me at the same time as I consider what it was like. To be possessed of such strength and freedom, along with the will and desire to commit such violence. My human mind looks back at what I did with horror, even though at the time all I could feel was the exhilaration of the kill. Time will tell, and hopefully with the help of my friends and my brother A’hoot.. I will not succumb to the lure of the beast and lose myself entirely.
After we killed the slaves and a small number of hobgoblins in the “kitchen”.. several cooks were able to escape and warn the rest of the tower of our attack. The advantage of surprise was gone, but all was not lost, because we were already inside and now they had to repel invaders without the use of their siege weapons.
We pressed the attack into the main structure under the hill, and the hobgoblins met us in force. Two cooks had escaped the slaughter in the kitchen, but one had been killed by the garrison commander for not staying and fighting. Fortunately the close spaces kept the goblins from using their mounts, and the fight was kept between us and the footsoldiers and scouts of the garrison. A’hoot pressed his armored bulk against the spears of a heavy block of hobgoblin infantry while I kept them from flanking us in my armored cat form. Zuristoi, Thrindil and Olli hurled magic and song at the defenders, driving them back inch by inch, although at several points the fight was still in doubt.
The hobgoblins had linked shields and were working together like we had never seen before. This was obviously an elite trained force, and even now I shudder to think what they would have been capable of had we not disrupted their operations. This teamwork made the attacks of their lieutenants even stronger, and My brother and I took several battle wounds. Fortunately for us however, the hobgoblin tactics were not enough to save them, and they crashed like waves over us, only to be repelled and killed in turn. There was a time when things were in doubt, as hobgoblins and their goblin scouts swarmed over us and faced us with a wall of steel.
As the battle started to turn, a human mage descended the steps and began casting magic in support of the hobgoblins. It was readily apparent that he was little more then an apprentice, but his stinging shots and bolts were keenly felt in the pitch fight before he fled upstairs. By the time we took the stairs, we knew their mage would be waiting for us, but we had to finish what we started.. There could be no survivors who would return to the hobgoblins and warn them about what had happened.
We raced up the stairs in pursuit as I unleashed my druid magic and called down several bolts of lightning through the roof. The defenders held out to the end, because they knew there would be no quarter granted in this battle. The male human mage was supporting a cleric dedicated to one of the dark gods. She cast horrific spells at us, but by now the fighting was far too close and she could not get enough distance to strike. My brother and I continued to fight, although both of us were quickly becoming exhausted. Olli and Zuristoi made use of their magic to keep the dark caster busy while my brother and I engaged their foot troops. After several minutes of vicious close quarter combat, the hobgoblins were either dead or dying and once again we had control of the Watch Tower.
My blood was still racing from my time as a beast, so I did something I am not proud of. We killed the human mage instead of questioning him, and thereby lost potentially valuable information. I am not proud of what happened, but as I have said, when I am lost in the blood of the moment, it is difficult to see the most reasonable path. We also killed the goblins, against the protests of Zuristoi, but the rest of us understood what a scourge they would become on the countryside if any of the blighted creatures were able to escape and breed.
After an extensive search we were able to locate the payroll strongbox and loot it before starting the long task of making the tower ready for habitation by our own troops.