The main vanguard was crumbling under the endless rain of spears from above, it fled in disarray harried by fell bats. The northern flank was faring better as it swarmed over the fortifications on dark wings or simply ghosted through them. The magical storm above raged unabated, the Ehrenreich’s magic was taking its toll on the Von Carstein forces but after having diverted so much attention to Theudalinda’s treason there was no recourse left but to weather the storm.
In the skies above, the terrorgheist was not faring well as it was besieged by flocks of more agile vargheists. However, the Wight King’s zombie spider flung corpses by the handful from atop the wall and allowed several siege towers to disgorge their shambling hordes atop the fortifications. In the chaos Rollo and Heinrich battled side by side through the siege tower and down the defender’s stairs to where the cathedral hummed with dark magic.
“Inside,” Heinrich rasped as loudly as he could. Wealdmaer signaled from atop the wall that the forces of Eschen had arrived under Helga’s banners so the Grand Marshal nodded brusquely. Whether or not the combined forces could rout the remaining defenders would be meaningless if their commanders inside the cathedral could be destroyed.
The enemy commander turned out to be an arcane dracolich that briefly dominated the minds of Rollo, Ziegfried, and Heinrich before each in turn broke free of its ensorcellement to harry it with steel and magic. Once Ziegfried had charged into the creature’s flank he became an infuriating blur of silk and gold that enraged and distracted it like an expert bull fighter. Given such a useful tool Wealdmaer was able to expose opening after opening which Ziegfried expertly exploited until Rollo charged in as well and the combined assault was just too much for the rotting dragon to endure.
Divested of their leadership the eastern wall quickly fell to the Grand Marshal’s combined forces and the necromancers quickly got to work reinforcing and strengthening their depleted forces where they could. Heinrich proceeded into Templehof to find that the other fronts had been similarly successful. Given his previous fruitless searches Heinrich hoped that his family had been brought within the walls of the city prior to the siege and might be alive and safe somewhere within. However, it was too dangerous to draw too much attention to them so he began his infuriatingly limited but desperately urgent search for his former wife and son.
When he came upon Maximillan von Carstein reveling in their victory and feasting on a townswoman of some kind Heinrich was incensed and threw the nobleman off her. Maximillan bared his fangs at the featureless faceplate of the Gorgon and in a flash of speed powered by the blood of his interrupted feeding he struck the monster a powerful blow. “How dare you, plaything! I am a Von Car-“
His indignant accusation was abruptly cut off as Heinrich moved with equal and even superior speed to the other vampire and used Maximillan’s momentum to flip him through the air and into the hard cobblestones with a resounding thud. Heinrich placed his muddy boot upon the noble’s chest and drew his heavy sword just a few inches free of its scabbard menacingly. “We need these,” the Gorgon snarled, thinking quickly. “Not sacking Templehof. Liberating. Remember. Or I WILL destroy you.”
Maximillan was confused to hear Oppen’s creation speak so many words and the shock combined with the cold certainty and unrestrained malice of its tone sent a chill up his spine. Heinrich stalked off in his search, leaving the cowed vampire to mull over this turn of events.
Heinrich’s mood did not improve as he continued to be frustrated by his inability to be more specific in his demands or less circumspect in his inquisition for fear of exposing his connection to his family and putting them in harm’s way. The city was swollen to bursting with refugees and while Von Carstein forces were beginning to recognize the Gorgon from the Grand Marshal’s resounding victory, they preferred to give it a wide berth rather than obey or assist it. Questioning the citizens of Templehof was even less productive as they were already living in terror from the siege when the Gorgon burst into their homes and halls like a figure from their nightmares.
Soon the horns sounded, the armies were suffering losses attempting to take the bridge across the Stir’s dark waters. The Grand Marshal deployed personally along with Ziegfried, Wealdmaer, Oliver, and Heinrich to destroy whatever obstacles might be found in the tower that guarded the bridge. Inside they were assaulted by undead forces of the Stahlbergs including several of their direct line. When Ulmer blindsided the Gorgon, Heinrich recognized him.
The Stahlbergs had never been kind masters and Heinrich leapt upon Ulmer and buried the black flames of his heavy sword into the shoulder of the other vampire with a primal growl. Ulmer lurched backward once the blade was wrenched free but the cold command to finish it from the Wight King Wealdmaer was the last thing Ulmer heard. Heinrich moved in a blur and cleanly struck the Stahlberg’s head from his shoulders.
Afterwards, after the others had destroyed the Stahlberg’s forces Heinrich returned and tore the fangs from the heads of his former overlords, storing the bloody tokens as a memento.
Once the bulk of the Count’s armies had made their way across the bridge the scouts returned with dire news. A large force of the Blood Dragon’s cavalry was moving to attack the army’s southern flank. The Count dispatched the Grand Marshal with what forces he could gather to delay the enemy forces at a ruin long enough for defensive enchantments to be raised. Rollo selected some nearby ruins to fortify and attract the Blood Dragon forces but no sooner had his forces arrived than a splinter of enemy forces broke off to retake the city of Templehof.
Heinrich insisted that their remaining reinforcements be sent to defend the city citing how hard the city had been to take the first time, the dangers of being caught between two fortified positions and harried on two fronts, the need to protect supply lines, and anything else he could think of short of mentioning his own fears for his family. The Grand Marshal listened and considered but also had the battle ahead to plan as well as troubling word that enemy assassins had been targeting the Von Carstein leadership. Wealdmar casually dismissed such claims as the natural order of things. If the commanders were so weak as to be assassinated, they did not deserve their commands and their forces would merely be consolidated under his control later.
It would be Glaedwine that would eventually pay the price for the Grand Marshal’s decision. Ziegfried celebrated his rival’s destruction, Wealdmaer shrugged it off entirely. Heinrich would have been pleased with the destruction of another powerful vampire and the blight he represented, but the Blood Dragons were coming in force and there was no time left to prepare.