The Forgehold Siege

Summary: When the Flowering Dead descended on Forgehold, the ingenuity of the Vulkanite League saved the day.

The Flowering Dead descended on Forgehold, the island city-state that served as the capital of the Vulkanite League. The League's Forgemaster-General, Heron of Ferros, refused to grant the necromancers passage through their territory and denied them the use of their ports. As such, the volcanic island was surrounded above, below, and around by the necromancers and cultists of the Elder Gods.

The Flowering Dead were fusions of arcanely-controlled vines and cadavers, able to walk without fatigue or breath. As such, they were marched across the ocean floor when ships were unavailable. Degros the Decomposing, a half-transformed lich, led his contingent across the bottom of the sea. Above him, he hired the Corsairs of the Screaming Coast to serve as a more conventional blockade. Bound spirits and byankhees patrolled the skies, giving him instant intelligence as to the defenders' activities. He even sent his incorporeal infiltrators through the walls of the stronghold itself, to observe and report on the city's layout.

Heron of Ferros personally headed the defense of the city, rallying all able-bodied adults to the nearest militia centers. Most in the League had martial training, formally or informally, due to the need to defend their trade routes and cities from constant pirate raids. They armed themselves with Grimbolter hand crossbows and heavy repeating crossbows, designs perfected in distant Yian. However, their allies were physically too far to gather their forces, so the city was on its own.

Degros sent his shambling aberrations onto the widest beach, intent on drowning the defenders in a wall of flesh. The barnacle-clad cadavers stank of seaweed and rotten fish, even as necromancy catapulted them across shore with supernatural celerity. The half-dead necromancer prematurely laughed in anticipation of a victory that seemed all-too-close. The defenders did not respond with any coordinated fire, and he marched towards the gate.

When Degros personally approached the city wall, the undead horde parted for him. That was when a volley of ballista bolts, each covered in pitch and burning oil, crashed down upon him. Sling bullets and crossbow bolts poured from every parapet and window facing him. Even certain tools from the city's Grand Forge were pressed into service as weapons, with a pneumatic valve spraying slag serving as an improvised flamethrower. A device used to blast slag off kiln walls with metal pellets, the Crucible, was used to devastating effect at close range.

The Forgemaster had simply had the defenders hold their fire until a valuable target appeared. While the city had stores to last a year, it did not need them. The overconfident Degros was thoroughly annihilated, as was the bulk of his army. With nothing to bind them, the flying creatures and spirits departed for planes unknown. Without their paymaster, the Corsair fleet broke and fled, even as the League's own flotilla sortied out to sink as many as possible.

The defense of Forgehold was a rallying cry for the Council loyalists. The League was largely neutral at the start of the war, but the rebel rashness to attack turned the League against them. Forgehold never fell to the attacks that followed, but instead a far more potent threat: the island's own volcano. While the eruption covered the surrounding islands, the lessons learned were told to every city in the League: Discipline and ingenuity could beat even a literal tide of the living dead.