We rejoin our heroes and their liege in the land of Mordor, standing on a flattened hilltop on the plain, having just arrived through a magical gateway near Isengard. The group immediately fans out, Alfirin, Guthwyn, and Thaliondor* joining the other soldiers in the Empress’ retinue as scouts. Araphor sends up Stormdancer to reconnoiter around the nearby mountain, atop which the party spots several buildings.
As they prepare to head to the mountaintop, it is suggested to the Empress that if she knows any way of bolstering peoples’ resistance to mind control – given the recent Dazing of the party by the Rene. The spell on Rene misfires, however, and its benefits are accidentally given instead to Araphor.– she would be well advised to do so. She casts Strengthen Will on a handful of people, including the captain of her personal guard and
The group quickly makes it way up the switchback trail to the top of the mountain. There they are greeted by a small cadre of armed men, who are clearly quite afraid. Their glances shift constantly between the party and a small tower which rises above the path behind them. The party orders their surrender, and they do, some quickly, others with a bit of hesitation.
As the last weapon falls from their grasp, a fireball comes flying down toward them, striking one of them squarely and catching a few others. Araphor mercifully creates water to quench them, and they scatter.
By this time, Araphor has a better understanding of the events unfolding on the mountaintop, thanks to Stormdancer’s eyes overhead. He informs the group of the lay of the land. The path the party is on branches – one fork quickly sloping up to the base of the tower, the other winding its way between the tower’s small plateau and a similar one topped by a ruined building. It leads higher up, toward a larger level area. Men in black are emerging from the ruined building, and another stands at the edge of the level area, his hands making complex arcane motions over a large red eye which is formed in cobblestones there.
The Empress sends the captain of her personal guard and four soldiers to secure the tower, and heads along the winding path with the rest of the party – the way being led by Guthwyn, Alfirin, Thaliondor, and Rene. Araphor opts to stay close h the Empress, keeping her apprised of the situation as it evolves. Nwalme sticks with them as well, readying a Curse Missile of Strike Blind.
The men in black coming from the ruined building quickly make their way along the winding path, and the party notes a sudden glow coming from the level area ahead. From high above, Stormdancer sees the red eye in the cobblestones glowing brightly. The men from he building run for the glow, disappearing into it one by one as they each reach it.
The squad attacking the tower is bombarded with fireballs from a man in black atop it, but a few of them shrug them off. One is knocked over, but quickly recovers. Smial hangs back a little, preparing some Molotov cocktails to aid in the assault once the others reach the gate at the base of the tower. The mage atop the tower takes another opportunistic shot with his fireballs, and sends one right for Araphor and the Empress, who are distracted. Araphor is hit squarely, nearly blown off his feet, and the Empress pulls him into the shelter of the plateau to heal him.
The others making their way up the path note that one of the last men to emerge from the ruined building ducks back inside of it, but they charge on through toward the platform and its glowing eye. Thaliondor reaches the platform first, and smites the Nazgul (as is now apparent) whose arcane motions are maintaining the glowing gateway. It closes suddenly, darkening the platform. The person who was trying to enter it – the Formerly Dead Lieutenant (FDL) – stumbles. Guthwyn, Rene, and Alfirin reach the platform shortly thereafter, and Nwalme starts to catch up, having been urged onward by the Empress. He hurls his Curse Missile at the Nazgul, and hits it squarely blinding it. The three fighters engage the Ring-wraith, all of them smiting the blinded thing – Rene especially mightily, with the anti-Nazgul blade.
A shriek tears through the air from the Ring-wraith atop the tower – a sound that can only be from a Black Rider. One of soldiers attacking the tower, a female master archer, has scored a solid hit on it. The Nazgul and she trade missiles (fireballs vs. arrows) as the rest of the squad makes its way to the gate at the tower’s base and begin to breach it. Smial decides to bring his cocktails to the other path, and starts scurrying to catch up with the Empress.
As Smial nears Her Majesty, a bolt comes whistling out of the ruined building, striking the Empress in the head! She nearly collapses,and Araphor drags her into the shelter of the plateaus around the path. Smial prepares one of his Molotovs to throw, and a soldier waves for him to give her one, as she has a clear shot into the ruin. Smial, knowing well his own throwing skill, lobs his Molotov in a perfect arc, landing it right in the area where the sniper was, and flames instantly spring up.
As the Empress groggily heals herself, the fight on the platform begins to grow more interesting as the FDL turns to join the fray, coming to the aid of the blinded Nazgul. Thaliondor turns to him on, confident he can do better against this foe than he can against a full Ring-wraith.
The Nazgul at the tower has disappeared from the top, and is now at the breached gate at the tower’s base, fending off the squad with fireballs. One of the soldiers is blown back, limp, off of the tower’s plateau, and the others charge into the tower.