The Heroes are sifting through the scattered Store inventory when the Spymaster dashes out of the dark passageway and skids to a halt. At first the Party regards one of their Dwarf allies with surprise, until Genive realizes she is still under the guise of a Dwarf, and reverts to her normal appearance. Quickly she explains what has happened, and that a misunderstanding may bring a charge of Moonwatch soldiers upon them any moment.
Not wanting to alarm or, worse yet, find themselves in combat with the very garrison-forces the Party has come to bolster, the Heroes take defensive positions and watch the doorway intently. From far down the passage they can hear commotion, then brief quiet, and then a loud clash of battle.
Torches bright, the Heroes break cover and hurry to the passageway. They see nothing from the direction Genive had scouted. They advance to the intersection and look.
Down this passage they can make out human shapes hastily constructing a new barricade. Genive recognizes that this build is happening much closer than where she had surprised and slaughtered the Duergar.
In the middle distance, considerable noise is coming from the entrance to a Training Area. The Heroes rush to the junction to this area, and discover combat in full swing.
The scene is something out of epic poetry from a classic age. Their backs to the far corner of the room, an uneven line of ten Duergar Fighters and five Duergar Rogues, with two Duergar Clerics at the rear and a Minotaur towering above their ranks, holds its line. Pressing them are eight human soldiers, four wolverines, and two spellcasters behind the soldiers’ lines.
The Duergar have the advantage of numbers, but the soldiers clearly hold the advantage in skill and level of experience. Divine and Arcane spells fly back and forth from the respective rearguard; Duergar Fighters Enlarge and clash against superior Corinthian military armor and weapons.
The Heroes hesitate at first, not wishing to spook their allies. With caution they edge up behind the soldiers, eager to aid in the destruction of the Duergar. Lester and Jaques advance the closest, coming within peripheral notice of the Moonwatch soldier casting spells at the center of the room. Jaques fires some crossbow bolts at the Duergar fighters, doing damage that is entirely absorbed by the Fighters’ Spear-Block shields. Lester hasn’t the heart to point out the futility of the effort.
It is about now that Genive takes a close, careful Spot check against the Moonwatch soldiers. Something isn’t right, and she wants to know what. The soldiers’ battle line is ragged, uneven, lacking in military precision. The soldiers themselves, clad in Corinthian uniform and breastplate, fight with unusual rage, their long hair and rugged physique at odds with what one might expect of Corinthian military.
Jaques reaches the same conclusion more immediately, when the Barbarian Sorcerer nearest him turns, sees the Halfling Lester and the humans not at all dressed as he and his companions are, and throws a Fireball such that Genive, Faldorn, Lester and Jaques must make a Reflex save to avoid being roasted.
Lester wonders if he has again been mistaken for a Dwarf, when the Sorcerer calls out warning of a rear attack by “outsiders” to his comrades. Lester has many ranks of skill in Local Knowledge, unlike Spymaster Genive for some reason, and recognizes the Sorcerer’s accent as one of the Barbarian tribes stalking the lands north and north-east of Corinthia.
Credit to the goodness in most of their hearts, the Heroes persist in trying to defuse what they believe to be a misunderstanding between themselves and the human “soldiers”. After another Fireball, a Chain Missiles, and a Rainbow Beam spell bring harm upon them, their stubborn indignation gives way to anger.
Jaques’ anger is most prominent, as he casts on the offensive and shifts his targeted hurt from exclusively Duergar to everyone who isn’t an immediate Party member. Faldorn assumes Giant Scorpion form and moves in to attack at one end of the battle line. Genive starts in with arrows, and Wobberts thinks that a marvelous caprice and joins in the ranged assault with his own bow.
In spirit if not in form, Champion Godfrey Kent arrives to lend moral support to the situation. He brings a tangy aroma of onion rings that puts Jaques off as the proton-donating hydronium ion mage continues to cast harm into the foes.
Jaques’ next spell is a game-breaker; he casts Evard’s Black Tentacles into the middle of the Duergar-Barbarian melee. The writhing mass appears and ensnares about fifteen of the combatants, causing even more chaos than was present before. Unaffected, the Minotaur slays a wolverine and a Barbarian and presses his attack against the right-side flank of the humans.
To the left of the battle is a passageway to the next room, which is Offices. There is light from this direction, and some Heroes can see that the way is blocked with another set of barricades. The Duergar in this Training Room had been surprised from the rear when Genive broke the stalemate in the passageway outside and allowed the Barbarians to end-around attack.
Now the Barbarians who had been holding the line in the passage to the Offices are hurrying to pull apart their jury-rigged palisade wall so that they may join the attack. A human flood has begun – and the Party recognizes that, if those barbarians come through, they too will be overwhelmed.