Wednesday, May 1, 2013

K04 - The vanguard leaves Erebor

Gates of Erebor, April 14th FA 15

Ten days of mobilization had turned Erebor upside down. The mines and workshops were now running at half speed as the dwarves from the Emerald Unit were outfitting, training and creating a nearly juvenile ruckus in the hallowed halls. Bain Stonetongue, son of Nain and Uncle to the King made sure that the event was tightly choreographed: banners unfurled, music echoing from the gates all the way to Dale. The King was to talk, then the viceroy and finally the Prime minister. The King was terse and mostly unarticulated, this didn't matter since his crowd working technique mainly consisted in getting people to cheer on at every punctuation mark. Then stepped forward Bain, viceroy of Khazad-dum, his voice penetrated the heart of all dwarves arrayed under the gates of the Lonely Mountain:

"Warriors of Adarcer. Our King has set before us a monumental task. In the days ahead I can see much of blood, sweat, and toil. Some of you may not be up to the task. Some of you may die along the way. But there lies before us a golden destiny, shining in the depths and heights of the Misty Mountains.

You set out today to clear the way for the many who will follow. You are the vanguard. You are the trailblazers. In the days ahead, there will be dangers, and they will find you first. But fear not, for on the trail you blaze will come your brothers, soon to join you and face those dangers together.

So go forth, Adarcer. Know that as you struggle in the wilderness, that Aule watches over you, and your brothers are not far behind. Go forth, and lead us all towards our destiny."

Bain had a hard time to complete his sentences, but he soon took control of the cheers and inspired his soldier with concise yet powerful words. Public Speaking-18, roll: 8, MoS:10[+]. After such a speech, the whole of the Emerald broke formation in cheers and accompanied the dwarves from the Arcacer to their pre-assembled baggage. The prime minister, dejected, threw away the small piece of scroll on which he had jotted some notes for his speech. 

The Ardacer was made of 343 dwarf warriors. The Attack is broken into 7 Lots of 49 dwarves, which are in turn made of small units of guards, axmen and crossbowmen. The Ardacer is different because it is the only Attack-sized unit in the history of dwarvendom that was bankrolled on private funds by Drolf, son of Hemmolt. Drolf, a famous war-hero, presented to King Thorin III a fully equipped Attack of open-sky combat capable dwarves. The King and the viceroy, before sending them off as the vanguard, outfitted them with brand new equipment. A gesture that created a huge buzz among the Iron Hill mercenaries.

The Ardacer was thus leaving Erebor as a 3km long, 100 carts-strong Attack with the mission to open the Old Forest Road across Mirkwood. They were outfitted with additional engineering tools, a portable forge and enough food to last for three months. To the unit, Gror, son of Bain and second in line after the King was attached. With Gror, Kalin, son of Gloin and Goldo, son of Timor were to provide dwarven craftsmanship and architecture. Most otably, Khazek Strongmoss, sone of Erek and nephew of Kalin was put in charge of training a Lot in ranger operations. 

The Ardacer passed by Dale by midday, attracting the attention of the men and women of the city. The Ardacer, however, pressed onward toward Esgaroth (a.k.a.Lake-town). Khazek reported to Drolf that there was some kind of fever epidemics in Dale and that most people were staying indoors. Drolf saw this simple transit in friendly country as a dry run for things to come. He ordered his scouts to go ahead and bring back intelligence. He was a bit perplexed when the information came back. Not that the Arcacer was in any danger at the moment, but he had a sinking feeling that the Attack was advancing partially blind. The main problem seemed to him to find the right balance of recon troops to probe away from his flanks, and deciding how far to go. He ordered them to go too far, and the information simply came back too late to be usable [Recon Check, Strategy-10, Intelligence Analysis-10,friendly territory+1, road bound-1,target:10 roll 11, MoF:1][+].  The Ardacer has better get up to speed about open-sky strategic movements or else it will run into greater dangers in Mirkwood.

When nighttime came, Drolf ordered Bazster, Lot-Herd of Fire to press to the bridge over the Forest River. The bridge was to be Drolf's next headache. But this headache was to begin tomorrow. The Ardacer spent the night encamped along the road to Esgaroth, amid the farms of the human colonists.

Bridge over the Forest River

The Ardacer and its diplomatic contingent departed with first lights and headed south toward Esagaroth. The viceroy had caught up with the Ardacer later in the previous day. Scouts were sent all around the train [Recon Check, Strategy-10, Intelligence Analysis-10, friendly territory+1, road bound-1, target:10 roll 13, MoF:3][+] . This made the dwarves in the command post uneasy as they clearly felt that they could easily be caught in an ambush had this land being hostile.

The bridge was a miserly wooden structure designed to let carts full of hay cross the river. Goldo, determined that the bridge could be used if reinforced [Civil Engineering-11, wooden bridge(-1) target:10 roll 9, MoF:1][+].  The Anvil-Lot, under Maek Granitclub then got tasked to upgrade the bridge while the rest of the Attack would set camp in the vicinity and begin live exercise while the viceroy would pay a visit to the wood elves in Thranduil hall. 

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