Highport: Prelude to Infest
Date: Sat, April 05, 2003
Topic: Campaign Articles
The battle rages on between the people of Ulek and the Orcish horde of Turrosh Mak in the Pomarj, but as one doomed scout relates in his journal, the Orcs are merely a nuisance compared to a new threat growing in the east.
Edition/Game lite, post wars/Living Greyhawk era setting.
Author: Rich Trickey
Highport: Prelude to Infest
By Rich Trickey (email@example.com)
Used with permission. Do not repost or redistribute.
From the Journal of Alvaer Brassbuckle of Havenhill,
Scout for the army of Prince Corond of Ulek.
10 Readying, 592 cy
For the first time in my life, I knelt in prayer to the rodent lord this eve before settling down for a long, restless night. I dare not sleep, I can feel their eyes and hot, foul breath heavy in the air around this accursed place.
I had hoped to find resistance to tyrant Mak's iron fisted rule and some semblance of refuge in what is left of Highport. Having spent the last tenday hiding in roadside ruins and brush by day and making my wary way toward this once proud city by night, I felt a warmth in my heart as first light of dawn reached across the cities silhouette. The gods had smiled upon me, and my pleas for a respite from my travels seemed to have been answered.
As I crept across the rocky, barren field toward the city my spirits sank however. The tall grasses and brush of the surrounding countryside are missing here, burnt and crushed into nonexistance by countless battles and soldiers in recent years. The mighty walls of the city lay shattered, its buildings crumbled and rotting. The harbor, once a haven for the rowdy swashbucklers of the Wild Coast, now sits silent, inhabited only by the husks of fallen warships.
The Oroz were amassed north of the city, preparing for battle of some sort. I felt an urgency to seek shelter in the city, despite its grim countenance. I found a perch in what must have once been a watchtower along the east road and surveyed the situation. The Oroz seemed nervous and anxious, and to my surprised were arrayed facing the city! Why any general would want to claim such a now worthless prize was beyond me. I discovered later in the day that the tyrant Mak has ordered this place raized, his outrage at what Highport has become is without peer, according to the wounded Oroz spearman I spoke with in the shadow of the cities battered walls as night fell. It was he who warned me away from that place as the Handmaiden's glow slowly conquered the sun's.
As the day progressed, the Oroz slowly made their way toward the corpse of the city, their war cries and battle songs echoing across the barren plain. The soldiers in the front ranks bore mauls instead of spears, and a large flank of rams was brought up as the footmen set about bringing the walls the rest of the way down. By all the gods, even if I were to live as long as my Olven friends, I shall never erase the image of what happened next from my mind's eyes.
The walls, neigh, the city itself seemed to come alive, a bleak wave of motion and cacophony sweeping out over the Oroz formation. RATS! Thousands upon thousands of rats, some as big as a man and walking upright in a cruel mockery of all things beautiful and just on this Oerth. Even the large ones were no match physically for the battle hardened Oroz, but as Mak's soldiers were overwhelmed and began to fall, the rats' losses were swiftly replaced by wave after wave of reinforcements. By highsun, the Oroz were no more, only a handful of crippled casualties scattered hither and thither about the landscape remained of their mighty force. The rats were dragging the corpses into the city, stopping only to ravenously devour one or two before resuming their morbid task.
After honoring the wounded Oroz's one request that he be left to die a soldier's death when the rodents came for him, I made my way north, to this rocky bluff where I sit and pen this last entry.
I have no hope of escape now, I am caught between the hordes of Mak's army in the countryside around me and this infernal Raxivorn mockery of the city I so enjoyed visiting as a lad. I call out to all the gods of my people to bring me the swift peace and sanity of death, for I cannot bear the thought of the madness that this land has be stricken by any longer.
Should any unfortunate traveller make their way here and find this journal, I beg ye, take this warning to Lord Corond. The tides of war are changing here in the east, and I fear the Oroz scourge is only the beginning of an age of horror for our people.
AB, humble servant of Ulek.
Pomarj, Orcs, Turrosh Mak, Ratmen, Raxivort