The group accompanied the caravan the rest of the way to Fort Iccanor; several miles before entering the fortification, the players could observe a large black balloon floating overhead several hundred feet in the air over the main gate – its purpose was inscrutable. They noted the tin coverings on the wooden palisade, which gave the Fort its nickname, the “Tin Palace”.
Once at the Fort, the party’s initial job was finished, and they concluded their business with Erlan and his caravan company. They left the next day, leaving Lexo and Maverick behind. The next caravan due for to supply the further new fort, would arrive in several days, and so the group stayed at the Fort and rested. During this time, the party recuperated from their previous attack by the gnolls; they enjoyed the Mountain View Tavern, and got to know several of the locals and KEF members. No one would discuss, however, the black balloon flying overhead. The party discovered that the Fort is commanded by Kellid female Sergeant Enid Tosca, along with mage Naxos Vremall and cleric of Iomedae Mortimer deLacy. Sargeant Karl Lavea, who accompanied the caravan that brought you to the Fort, is scheduled to receive training here, and then transfer as second in command to the new fort in 3 months.
Very early in the morning of the day the new caravan was to arrive (day 3), while it was still dark, the general alarm was sounded, and all hands grabbed weapons and went to the wall – the Fort was surrounded! It appeared that a large group (about 200) of goblins with bows and slings were around the perimeter of the Fort, while a large group (about 100) of gnolls massed in ranks just outside the main gate. Several figures in black seemed to be in command, one of which came forward and demanded the surrender of the Fort. Sergeant Tosca immediately declined, and then one of the figured in black began some kind of spell, which ended with an object being sling-shot over the palisade and into the Fort, saying “Behold, the Tears of Pharasma”.
Once inside, everyone nearby could some kind of fell magic at work, as the very fabric of reality was torn asunder, and a large area blacker than the surrounding darkness was formed, a shredded tear in the fabric that keeps the planes aside – and from that dark area, all kinds of undead creatures began to pour out. Skeletons, zombies, shadows, etc, emerged from all directions and began to attack and kill the inhabitants, as the plan became clear: the goblin archers and gnoll warriors were there to keep the Fort’s defenders in, not break into the Fort themselves.
Finding themselves pressed from both inside and out, the soldiers, along with the party’s help, began to attack the invading undead creatures; soon it became apparent that the mage, Naxos Vremall, had some kind of plan involving the unknown black balloon overhead, and he encouraged the party to open the main gate and bait the gnolls by yelling that the defenders were leaving. The gnoll leader overhead the shouts, and ordered his shock troops forward to the front gate to prevent the defenders from leaving – and that’s when the mage threw his plan into action: he fired a magic missile up into the balloon, which burst, tipping the basket below the balloon and allowing thousands of heavy, foot long, aerodynamic spikes, called flechettes, to rain down and decimate the gnolls in front of the gate.
The gnoll’s casualties were appalling; apart from the leader, very few gnolls limped away from the flechette attack – and when the goblins saw what happened, most of them melted away. With their support quickly dwindling, the black robed figured departed, leaving the defenders, including the party, to combat the undead hordes, which continued to issue forth from the pulsing black void.
The chapter ended with the defenders very much pressed by the undead horde inside the walls.