“The Delay Action”
(italicized is non-canon, table conversation)
“Ugh.. come on…”
Though they missed opportunities to assassinate him on multiple occasions, the party had never come this close.
The joyless game of cat and mouse had persisted for months. But now, at the worst of times, here he is, right at the doorstep of their new allies.
In their own environment, the Bugbear tribesmen can handle Hobgoblin cavalry. What they cannot handle is HIM.
“Having just conducted a wedding for these guys, my character kinda wants to do whatever to make sure they don’t like die right away”
“Well yeah, I mean they at LEAST need time to… ya know… SEAL THE DEAL”
So the party of five mounts their horses and rides out of the woods: darting around trees, leaping over streams, racing towards their enemy. If they can pull off a successful delay action, the tribesmen can vanish into the forest and slowly make their way to the vales of the Kelna Mountains.
But they need time.
Bursting from the forest, the party gazes across windswept plains. Though several hundred yards away, he is not hard to spot: his armored cuirass gleaming in the sunlight. But no one is fooled by his noble front.
“F*ck … this… guy”
The Hobgoblin Republic may know honor, but this ‘paladin’ certainly does not. If ever his heart harbored courtly love or divine grace, a sickness of sadism has consumed him. He is more akin to a butcher, reveling in the blood of innocents and combatants alike. A legacy ruled by atrocity.
“… F*ck it. I draw my Zweihander and dash forward”
With a sense of duty, or rage, or fear, or some combination of the three, the party gallops to meet him in the field.
It ends today. “Vunker the Cold” will not see the sunset.
Hooves and paws pound into the earth, racing to meet one another headon. As the distance closes, spells fly and arrows soar, but before long the shattering of spears and ringing of steel echoes across the plain.
Mounts passing, crashing, and wheeling through the chaos. The party throws everything they have at this most hated of foes.
“I cast Hunger of Hadar”
“I use my action surge”
“Right as my mount begins to go down, I’m gonna use my action to sprout wings and take to the skies”
The skirmish continues for several minutes, but eventually, the party gains the upper hand. A massive “Wall of Fire ” separates Vunker from his unit, and a well placed rogue’s arrow pierces his worg’s heart. throwing him to the ground.
(Damn… they have some serious area control spells…)
Vunker is thrown to the ground and stumbles forward, limping and cursing. It is clear that one more hit should end him once and for all.
“Well… I know its only been like 4 rounds… but I’m a warlock so… Eldritch blast… does a 24 hit?”
And it is done.
Vunker, the shameless and vile general of the Hobgoblin legions, now facedown in the dirt, just like so many of his victims before.
Seeing their commander down, most of the cavalry flee
“Hahaha they’re also like ‘he SUUUUCKED’”
But one soldier remains.
A Lieutenant rides over, dismounts, and stands over his master. To the party’s surprise, rather than paying respects or attempting to retrieve the body, the soldier rummages around, frantically searching through his master’s corpse for…something.
It doesn’t matter… he doesn’t find it.
Instead, he screams.
Smoke emits from the corpse, swirling about the Lieutenant and consuming the body. The officer pulls his dagger and, in a fury and a frenzy, hacks at the corpse.
Suddenly, a hand shoots forth amidst the smoke and blows. With authority it ignores the violence and grasps its attacker’s neck. The Lieutenant attempts to shout, but the party hears nothing; fingers close and crush his throat.
Fingers stripped of red flesh… bare, naked bone remains.
The hobgoblin’s eyes go wide with horror as he desperately flails to escape. But with the flick of a wrist, the hand snaps the Lieutenant’s neck. And as the limp body falls into the grass, another rises, emerging from the ruinous corpse of Vunker.
A being of rot and ruin… a mantle darkness resting upon charred, blasted armor. Even in broad daylight, through the smoke, into the decay, the party can see red eyes beam through the cloven helm. His icy gaze finds them, looks deep, and fills their innermost places with dread.
Paralyzed with fear, the party witnesses a summoning: motions and shouts… a brief red pentagram…a steed bellowing flames.
And as he rides into the sky, a new truth dawns on the party.
Vunker the Cold is no longer the disgraced Paladin of the Hobgoblin legions.
He is now a Vunker, an arisen Death Knight.
“… gawd DAMMIT!!!!!”