Thus follows the account of Rand al’Belanar at the Battle of Hollow, 21st day of Cantaire, year 176 P.R.
Comprising the forces of the defenders were the limited remaining retinue of the Baroness Alexandría Alcón reinforced with a contingent of the Evergreens, the remnant military force of fallen city of Axeholme from the south. Numbers totaled less than 50 fighting men and women. This force was supplemented by the entirety of the Phoenix Guard, totaling 8 men: Rand al’Belenar, Caleb the Ever Good, Towom the Stalwart, Jroke, Zeph, Absalom, Talim “Ironskin”, and Verrulam Marr. Accompanied by an Arcanist of the Academy at Wraithstone, Kathryn Peña.
Of the attackers the bulk of the force was comprised of resurrected undead, colloquially known as Zombies; mindless and slow, they acted as a press with which to encircle to crush resistance at the walls. They are resilient to most injuries due to their nature, experiencing not the sensations of pain, fear, fatigue, or hunger. The second type of assailant was identified as Vampire; two types or classes were identified but the breadth of their differing abilities and strengths was not fully appreciated. The base variant attacked from shadow, silently, using the horde of undead to serve as distraction for their approach. Each possessed great physical strength and constitution, as well as an ability for self-repair hindered only by the application of holy energies (though there may be some utility in flame and lightning, use of necromantic energies is discouraged). These lesser were dispatched with the use of overwhelming force but not fully vanquished, having retained enough essence and will to retreat from the field with corporal form severely mauled. The second Vampire appeared to have similarly enhanced physical capabilities along with the ability to charm and coerce allies of weak mental fortitude; it is unclear as to the extent of this ability save for only one was ever under thrall at a given time. It was also said it could alter its countenance to that of a bat as well as summon swarms of the winged vermin to its aid. Beyond that, he possessed far superior arms and armor and is surmised to be of a leadership caste. The last enemy type visualized was located by scout during the siege; it was described as a Hag, thought to be of Fey origin though this could not be verified at the time. This creature was occupied in an unknown type of sorcery that may have spurred on the Zombie horde, possibly maintaining their animation, or directing their movements.
The battle was joined slightly after dusk, the horde advanced in the gloaming and came upon the town with intent to lay siege with the onset of darkness. Prior to this night, the primary entrance was obtained by shattering the main gate with a suspected spell, but this encounter saw the walls themselves laid low in several places, allowing the horde entrance. Forces were split with the Phoenix Guard holding near the main gate and a contingent of Evergreens deployed opposite to guard the rear flank from encirclement. The melee saw the enemy able to withstand mortal wounds but persist as if uninjured. The noise made by the horde grew ever more deafening, making coordinated movements difficult for the defenders. The Cleric of the Phoenix Guard, Caleb, was able to hold back their advancement with judicious use of Divine Intercession while the frontline was supported by Arcane means. Three lesser Vampires assaulted the battle line from the rear, restraining and feeding on the defenders; the reserve units advanced and coordinated a counterattack that, with the aid of radiating divine energy, allowed the defenders to free themselves from ensnarement and retreat towards the main keep.
Our scout patrolled the remaining wall until advancing into the woods to identify the aforementioned Hag. Additionally, one of our number attempted to rescue our Arcanist from a separate surprise incursion, this from the Vampire lord who also appeared well behind the perimeter walls at the central keep. This attempt at rescue led to the untimely demise of the Baroness on her retreat to the Keep as well as the near demise of the Arcanist, whose life was preserved at the urging of company battle mage and through the skills of company cleric. The battle in earnest against the vampire lord saw the company having to incapacitate one of our own due to the unnatural influence of the fiend; after the initial charmed fighter fell the vampire proceeded to enthrall another; this combatant was lured away by the company alchemist. The Lord was similarly defeated, through great effort and personal expenditure, by company battle mage and cleric with the assistance of one of our fighters; the monster’s vicious assaults were absorbed by company stalwart, Towom. Upon its defeat the Vampire lord similarly retreated into a mist. With the final enemy combatant in retreat or otherwise vanquished, and with the rising of the sun, the night’s siege was ended having suffered casualties near half of the defending force with the Baroness being among that number. Given the propensity for and need to travel at night, and the retreat of all vampires encountered, it is surmised that some main camp or lair must be within a short range of Hollow as the speed with which the undead could shamble would limit their pace. Alternatively, the Vampire force left their lair and arrived to the field shortly after the setting of the sun, traveling at unimaginable speed or aided by strong magics. Having seen a Fey witch at the battle, and having experienced one such creature before, it is highly possible that the Vampires have utilized a magical means to travel, however, said portal would likely need to remain open as coordinating the separate retreats over several minutes would require a degree of omniscience reserved for the gods. The alternative must be that they are based not far from this place, with intent to capture this location to use as a staging post to launch further incursions into the lands of the living.
Written by Michael Scerpella