Day 15: Morning
Rrogan brought the Peers to Gislen’s laboratory, a dank room that stunk of blood and rotten flesh. Torture tools lined the walls and metal cages occupied corners. At the back of the room stood Gislen, a dark figure clad in cloth and armour, his head covered in the steel regalia of the Challifani priests of Lhauric. Behind him rested a mutilated man on a wooden table, his chest cavity torn open and his heart missing — replaced by a ticking numenera device. The Peers recognised the man on the table as one of Nihliesh’s scouts, who’d been reported missing.
Gislen treated the party’s wounds, using wire and boiled vinegar to sow them shut. Any infected flesh was devoured by metal maggot-like creatures the priest kept in a vial. As Rrogan left to escort the Peers back to Dissicaeli, he was offered a preserved human leg by Gislen as ‘snack’, which the grey captain accepted.
Dissicaeli’s hall was barren when the Peers returned, except for a nobleman named Telric, and the Grey Queen herself. Dissicaeli proceeded to interrogate the party, learning who they were and what their purpose was. With this information, Telric advised she kill them and march the Grey Legion onto Nihliesh and the Pytharon army both.
Before deciding the Peers’ fate, Dissicaeli recounted her past life. She was born a slave to a powerful lord in the Pytharon Empire. At a young age Dissicaeli was abused and raped, until she fell pregnant with the lord’s bastard child. Rather than live a wretched life, she used a kitchen knife to cut open her stomach, intent on killing her and the baby. She was found by servants and saved by the lord, who admired her resolve. Dissicaeli’s stomach was sown together and healed, and when her health was restored the lord sold her to the Sisters of Iron — a cult of warrior women.
In their monastery she suffered tenfold what she had in Pytharon, yet she grew strong. Using ancient methods and the numenera, the Sisters augmented Dissicaeli’s body, turning her bones to black steel and giving her reflexes beyond any ordinary human. In time she became the fastest, strongest, and most ambitious among the Sisters, craving power in the form of numenera. Her Sisters did not share her goals, and so she killed them all to prevent rivals. Her reputation grew and flocks of brigands, outcasts, and renown warriors joined her. Together, the so-called ‘Grey Legion’ ventured across the fringes of the Beyond, growing in number each day until they returned to where it all began to finish what was started many years ago.
Convinced the Peers would lead Nihliesh to victory against the Pytharon army and weaken the empire’s expansion campaign, Dissicaeli set them free. She provided them espron mounts and the resources they needed for siege weapons — an expensive gift, as noted by Telric. In response, the Grey Queen replied, ’What’s eight-hundred shins, to the worth of an empire?’.
Day 18: Morning
The Peers arrived ahead of the siege and delivered the resources to Dhaval, who informed them he sent a sortie of twenty to rescue them, though it was against the advice of Justiciar Isak Hashem. The sortie had yet to report back and seemed to have deserted Nihliesh.
During the preparation for battle, the Peers were introduced to the captains of Nihliesh’s army: Henna, Umar, and Firdos. Commander Galia Ezrek oversaw the defence constructions beneath the city, including a metal palisade that guarded the ground lift — a vital access point into the First Tier. Sentry towers were built from churn, and trebuchets constructed across the Third Tier.
To help the days pass quickly and right some of their wrongs, the Peers returned to the alleys of the Second Tier’s Lower Plaza and exterminated the remaining broken hound threat, appeasing the local residents. After which, they returned to Mayim’s Bathhouse and enjoyed the last of the peace.
Day 20: Afternoon
Twarog, Phaenna, and Dahm joined the vanguard under Umar; Reina led the defence of the palisade with Henna; and Lumos, Garrus-Dorn, and Tzefira stood with Firdos and their fellow archers.
The Pytharon army arrived in formation, breaking off into five legions of 400 soldiers who surrounded the palisade beneath Nihliesh. The Peers stood in their designated positions and listened to the battle horns.
The armies clashed, with arrows and siege missiles raining down on both sides. From the Overlook, Dhaval and Commander Galia Ezrek signalled commands and watched as Captain Umar led the charge on the ground, breaking into the enemy legion at the palisade gate.
Ballistae missiles showered Nihliesh, destroying the scaffolding beneath Garrus-Dorn, Tzefira, and Lumos. Dorn and Tzefira took hold of a ledge on one of the city’s ‘legs’, finding safety. Lumos fell, though was caught by his second self on the ground.
At the palisade gate, enemy shock troopers — two grush holding a Thunder Cannon — pushed forward and broke part of the vanguard’s formation. Reina met the foe at the gate, followed by Dahm, Phaenna, and Twarog who turned back to aid her, knowing if the gate fell, their first line of defence would fall with it.