War of the Burning Sky
Similar to Bresk, the city of Gallo’s Fend is walled, built into a rocky rise of land with a river on one side. However the defenses here are much more substantial, since this is the most obvious route of approach into Dassen from the north. Gallo and his ancestors have defended against the Ragesians and others before them for hundreds of years, watching the Alydi Gap, a low pass through the Otdar mountains broad enough for an army to march in force. Other routes through the mountains are narrower, more easily defended by the numerous independent Dwarven lords who serve Dassen faithfully, but the Aldyi Gap is Dassen’s most vulnerable point, so Gallo’s Fend acts as a sturdy shield.
The Nasham River here is roughly 500 feet wide, normally fed by many mountain streams, though in the fierce clutch of this late winter it remains frozen. An enemy army that reaches the bank of the river, however, will be bombarded by catapults and trebuchet fired from Gallo’s castle, which is built on a 200-foot-high rise across the river. Rough cliffs prevent a direct assault. During normal weather, a small fleet of ships loaded with archers patrol the river, based in Stratendoch, the heavily defended waterfront of Gallo’s Fend. During the winter, the docks are perhaps the weakest point in the fortress city’s defenses.
Cliffs 100 feet high protect the city along the line of the river, while sturdy walls 40 feet high guard from a land assault. As impregnable as Gallo’s Fend is, it would be useless if it could not actually threaten an enemy army passing through. Dwarven strongholds dot the northern cliffs along the Nasham River, as well as in the surrounding hills, many of them connected by masterfully hidden tunnels which can be collapsed if compromised by an enemy force. Likewise, just south of Gallo’s Fend is Wicked Hill, which hides two dozen underground outposts beneath what appears to be simple farmland. Soldiers can pass between Gallo’s Fend and these outposts using a network of tunnels, riding out to harry enemy forces, or pincering any army foolish enough to try to lay siege to the city.
Though vast underground storehouses hold enough food to support Gallo’s Fend against prolonged sieges, the Otharil Vale is nevertheless the breadbasket of the area. Home to many retired soldiers turned farmers, these plains have been the site of four major battles in the past two hundred years.
The last major outpost in the Fend’s defenses is Markhold, a squat fortress overlooking the river. It is large enough to serve as a fallback position for the farmers of Otharil Vale, and is manned by several hundred soldiers. An army that wants to cross the river would first have to get past Markhold, passing through the line of fire of its ranged weapons.
The armies of Gallo are as skilled with large field formations as they are in defending against sieges, and have never failed to stop an army that has managed to cross the Nasham River. Invaders cannot easily run past the defenses of Gallo’s Fend, and attempting to sack the city itself is suicide.