Report Filed: White Stagg 20th, 3126 (13th hour)
The following represents compiled information gained through Ranger reports, local news, and sympathetic information sources.
White Stagg 16th, 3126
Alpha team had survived their encounters in the Blood Pits. The last bout was between RFC Danica and a pack of Ratzin seeking to devour a group of children. She lives, her charges did not. Her valor was unequaled. Knowing what we know now, it is all the more tragic.
We received word from the Emissary in Almahrad that Corporal Leaora Nazir and Ranger Newt were arriving at Kal’Montak by the evening of the 17th. She specifically requested that Lady Moonsilver not establish contact. Though it is unlikely, we cannot be certain that any such message would not be intercepted, or at least detected. And, based on our reports from Unchained and other prisoners recovered from Kal captivity, we believed the Alpha Team had been fitted with suppression collars. Because of this, they were unreachable by Telepathy regardless.
As of the 16th, the situation as we understood was: Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth, and RFCs Danica, Grendel, and Ranna were all captive gladiators fighting in the Blood Pits. Corporal Zathlan was captive of Dair-Kron Kirall, the Olaran mercenary-turned war captain. However, opinions differed whether she was willing or unwilling. It was, in fact, Sergeant Minor Longtail who noted that, to protect a child, a mother should be willing to do…anything. Corporal Daynore was, to date, unseen since arriving at the Pits. Intel suggests that the Empire breaking him for information on relayed Farspeaker message. Loss of the intel would be catastrophic. Ranger Seyrs was still in city, and for all appearances operating under notice.
White Stagg 17th, 3126
None of the battles on the 17th featured members of the Rangers. Though, based upon Serys’ final report, we know that an Olaran Braun won a bout on that day. He appears to be acquainted with, at least, Volstagg though we do not have further information as to how. Local requests confirm that Sir Braun was a celebrated warrior, captured during the War of Flame. A minor noble, he was regarded as an honorable man and skilled fighter. It should be no surprise he has survived this long.
Late in the evening, the Emissary and Serys independently confirmed that Ranger’s Nazir and Newt had arrived at the waystation south of Kal’Montak. There, Newt camped outside while Leaora made “contact” with Serys. He passed her local currency, identification papers acquired on his own journey to the city, Disguise potion, and other substances. From there, Serys returned to the city, leaving the other team members outside the city.
White Stagg 18th, 3126
Serys made contact with Nazir and Newt in his hotel room. There, he provided more information, Disguise potions, and orders to leave him out of future designs. He planned to continue watch on the coliseum. Though rumors had abounded that the 18th would feature an end to the fighting, all events were delayed. This time, our information suggests that infighting among the Kal nobles resulted in the event’s delay. Later events confirmed that tensions among the houses is at an all-time high.
Serys continued his operations, and Nazir and Newt took stock of the city. There, they met local assets who set up a meet in a local bar, the [Redacted]. They began to gather intelligence seeking how to enter the slave pits, and the location of Zathlan and Daynore.
White Stagg 19th, 3126
Fighting resumed. In the morning, Sergeant Amaroth and RFC Danica were paired to battle what we believe to be a Hellhound Summoner, a pack of Hellhounds and even, perhaps, a Ravening Beast. The Ranger’s survived, but…all reports indicate that in order to protect Danica after she had fallen to the hounds, Sergeant Amaroth called upon the powers of Ceynara. If this is true, I cannot help but fear for the repercussions. No one can doubt his intentions, but the lessons of Vainar and Ceynara are cautionary tales. She fell for love, and he trying to protect the world from Darkness. All of the best intention cannot absolve a soul given to Flame. Ascended let it not be true. Colonel Wolfhaven will be devastated.
Again, Zathlan was seen “entertaining” Kirall in the box seats. At least she appears in good health. I pray that her conversion is feigned. The longer our Rangers stay under, the more at risk they become. If the liberation is unsuccessful, we may not have anyone to save, or anyone wishing to be saved.
Later that eve, RFCs Grendel and Ranna were paired against three other ogres. Strangely, the Alpha ogres are known in the Pits as the Lovers. Has time in captivity sparked a romance? It is hardly unheard of. They too won, but local news intercepted makes it seem that Ranna seduced one of the opposing ogres to fight on her side. Though it seems out of character, who can say. We will do whatever it takes to survive.
After the last bout, there was a celebration to conclude the games. A Feast, or Orgy, was held and honored gladiators were invited to “entertain” the city’s Az-Dren and visiting Az-Fal. Among the group, reports indicated that Volstagg, Braun, Amaroth, and Robert Oxley, of previous reports, were present. Aagain, Zathlan dutifully entertained Kirall, even with her husband present. None of the reports bodes well.
There was a mention of Amaroth having a public word with the Scorched Priestess of Ceynara. A damning conversation. Volstagg also disappeared for a time, but no reports on who he might have met with. It is entirely possible he was “entertaining” one of the lords or ladies. Given the team’s mission in A’Tora, I fear we cannot consider any conduct beyond the group. Though, one can hardly blame them. They are trying to survive.
The orgy lasted till early morning, thought most of the guests, the gladiators and the host, Kirall, had retired. At that time, everything seemed normal, but a simmering rage was building in the city. And on the night of the 19th, or eve of the 20th, the tensions boiled over into civil war.
We know from “sympathetic voices” that Zathlan had been held in Dair-Kron Kirall’s personal abode within the city. In fact, it was a block from the coliseum just north, and heavily guarded.
At around, or just after the 13th hour, unknown forces attacked Kirall’s home in the city. It was not until later that local assets confirmed the target was kidnapping Zathlan. Since her capture on the filed during the final battle with Xaos in the Valley of Death, it was assumed that her child bore some special significant. Acolytes derive power from human sacrifice, and elf infants are the most prized of such sacrifices. If reports of the child, post the Emissary’s “healing” are to be believed, then Zathlan’s child would provide immense energy for such a ritual. A prize indeed.
It would appear that on the 19th, the temptation grew too great. But none of our sources suggested why then? It seemed that Kirall had successfully “claimed” Zathlan. And HE falls under protection of Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult. Who would have the temerity to attack those under the protection of the most powerful and famed warrior in the Empire…
Best analysts suggest that only the Scorched Priestess would even attempt such. And, the retaliation proved the point.
However, at the height of the 13th hour, magical sensitive people as far as five miles from Kal’Montak suddenly experienced a surge of power and energy radiating outward. Serys has confirmed feeling “something,” but claims to have slept through. Allied intelligence confirms that A) the center of the power pulse was the Temple to Ceynara in the city, and B) the feeling confirmed that a Cauldron, or some variation was opened. However, it is believed that the Ritual was never completed. The pulse was too short. That, and within an hour, the same complex was itself under attack!
White Stagg 20th, 3126
Early on the 20th, a few hours after the attack on Kirall and Zathlan’s kidnapping, someone brazenly attacked the Az-Junin complex the heart of the city. For a Kal to even THINK of such blasphemy…! Reports indicate that Dair-Kron Kirall retaliated against the “unprovoked” attack on his house, and the taking of his “hostage.” How he achieved success, we still do not understand. He WAS the tactical genius who planned Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s victory. And, he DID managed to sneak an entire Maelstrom army across the desert to ambush, and route Colonel Wolfhaven. Such a mind certainly could plan such an assault, but…to actually ATTACK a Temple to Ceynara?!
Whatever the case, local sources on the ground noted seeing a carriage leaving the city north at high speed. It was only later determined that this WAS Zathlan being moved out of the city to an estate owned by Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult, or his house. It seemed Kirall had recovered his prize. That same morning, with the dawn, criers announced the biggest fight to date. A post game bout. No expense was spared, and by mid morn, the seats were filled to overflowing.
It is ALSO here, that Serys informed command that he had made contact with a dwarven engineer overseeing rebuilding of the coliseum. Strange as that seems, it being a Kal city, the engineer was none other than RFC Gate Highwall, founding member of Alpha Team?! I confirmed with High Command that they had authorized HIghwall to be “loaned” to allies on a mission to gain intel on Kal’Montak and acquire plans and blueprints of the city in preparation for the impending war with Kal in the desert! He was not to be activated. However, they also confirmed that on the 18th, he had signaled his “handlers.” The Emissary confirmed, after the fact, that Nazir had made contact with Highwall and that a plan to free the team from the pits was in progress.
All of this information unknown to Regional Command at the time of the events. I have only just managed to confirm this with sources. I am unsure of exactly how many independent operations were running on the 20th, but I know that RFC Highwall, Seryrs, the Emissary, and local assets all had their own operations running. Worse, we believe, based on analysis that there were no fewer than four Kal factions ALSO operating in the same theater, though we cannot confirm that they did not, at points, collaborate.
Such was the situation on the ground when the final bout in the arena was announced, at noon. The Crimson Knight, Volstagg, would face The Boody, Amaroth, to the death in the arena. Even as the command staff of Alpha Team were forced to murder each other, Serys, Nazir, Newt, and Highwall put plans into motion. Nazir had confirmed that Zathlan was “most likely” being held at the estate north of the city. With the plans Highwall had stolen from his work site, Nazir would work with local assets to send a team into the pits to free the Rangers held there, while another team would attempt to free Zathlan.
When they arrived at the sight, to link up with Highwall, Serys activated and joined the efforts. He, ultimately, accepted the task of freeing Zathlan alone, allowing Nazir to put a team on locating and retrieving Daynore, if he lived. So, as the fight raged, Newt, Highwall, and a local contact entered the arena through still unfinished under structure heading to the slave pits below. Nazir and a local asset headed to Az-Junin complex, the most likely location of Daynore. Something about the sense of the Ritual suggested that he might be involved. Ever since his “gift” from the Shayakar in Paradise, his behavior and power had become erratic. It seemed plausible that he was imprisoned there, and perhaps that also might explain the Scorched Priestess’ sudden obsession with kidnapping Zathlan? Supposition, but the pieces fit.
The battle lasted about half an hour. Unfortunately, every report confirms out worst fears. In the final confrontation between Volstagg and Amaroth, Volstagg called upon the Unicorn, and Amaroth, Ceynara. He is touched by Flame. There is no doubt. Even should he survive, and manage to return, I cannot see any future in the Rangers, or the Southern Kingdoms.
We are still left with unanswered questions, but we know that the various operations were “successful.” Amaroth defeated Volstagg, but refused to end his life with a killing blow. That, at least, is to his credit.
However, at the moment of victory, something slammed into the north wall of the coliseum, shattering stone, and killing dozens, or more spectators. It opened a breach in wall. Through that breach, Serys rode, with Zathlan in his lap. Despite the fact that MULTIPLE reports confirmed that she had been watching her husband die from the box seats like every other fight, here she appeared with Serys, ostensibly recently rescued from the norther estate. Yet, we do not know for certain which Zathlan is real, if any?! The Emissary confirmed that Nazir located and “freed” Daynore from a heavily warded sarcophagus beneath Ceynara’s Temple, in a sealed room, under heavy guard. And yet, her report seems to indicate that Daynore was a charred, lifeless husk when she found him…?! Further information is lacking as he “exploded” rending her unconscious until hours later. Meanwhile, Highwall never reached the pits. He was apprehended, but managed to talk his way out, and exited the city with his team. Though, we suspect he is under heavy surveillance. As the arena was rocked above by the massive energy wave, similar to the pulse the night before, Grendel, Rana (both heavily armed) leading a slave revolt exited the southern, postern gate of the coliseum, Newt and Braun included. Amaroth ALSO appeared, carrying the body of Volstagg, though his condition is yet unknown.
As they spilled out into the streets, reports indicate the plain clothed assassins dispatched the Kal guards, and directed the team to waiting horses. The unknown allies remained behind to hold off pursuit. Amaroth carrying Volstagg, Serys holding Zathlan, Danica, Braun, and the ogres on foot reached the horses and mounted. But, Amaroth’s horse spooked. Grendel grabbed the reins to pull the beast when a flame whip coils from the smoke and ash, and snatched Danica from her mount.
Reports from the ground indicate that the Scorched Priestess had arrived with a large force of Kal, and a hunter from the Emperor’s own court. Without hope of saving Danica, the team spurred horses and fled south, out of the city.
While I am relieved to know that the Rangers are at least free, with the hope of escape, I, we, are left with some disturbing facts. At last report from Serys, every other member of the team is still collared. This eliminates our ability to communicate with any but Serys. Volstagg is down. Amaroth is Flame-Touched. We still do not know if Zathlan was turned, or they are riding with an impostor. Braun joined the party, but he is a potential Kal plant, or self serving mercenary who will betray them when it suits. And, Serys confirmed to see Daynore, mounted, riding with them. Daynore who, an hour before was described as “a charred, ruined husk.” Based on reports from the desert, Command is unsure exactly WHAT Corporal Daynore now is?!
Add to that, I have all but confirmed that the Scorched Priestess is on a mission directly from the Emperor. In fact, local assets have confirmed that Emperor dispatched one of his own personal guard, the Tor Sadais to lead the hunt for the escapees, though we suspect he is there to recover Zathlan, Daynore, or both. Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult has moved hunter units north. Reentering the desert is likely impossible. And, intercepts suggest that his rear guard around A’Davar are also under order to intercept. No doubt Kirall has his own force out hunting. This leave the mysterious faction which aided the slaves in their escape. We believe they serve either Fenrikas ki Arkor, Az-Ri of Kal’Montak seeking to undermine his rival, or a fourth, powerful faction serving their own ends.
Volstagg is down. Amaroth has Fallen. Daynore is lost. Zathlan pregnant and a beacon for their hunters. Serys is broken. Danica is dead. Our hope now lies with the Ogres.
Colonel Wolfhaven has been informed, but all his forces are bottled up protecting A’Davar under heavy assault. We have no other assets in the region. Every contact has bent toward reaching the Unchained. Ascended help them.