Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Twenty First Day of White Stagg, Year 3124 Under the Light
From the evening of the 10th until the morning of the 12th I had no word, no information as to the condition of my men. I was started in my study on that brutally cold morn when Ranger Malcolm dashed into my office. Lady Moonsilver had made contact with Sergeant Que’kassars, but the images were disjointed, rushed almost as if the Ranger were…fleeing for his life.
It took some time to piece together that the team had survived but were just then being hunted. Then, Sergeant Que’kassars abruptly broke connection. I feared he might have fallen…
We waited, with great unease for nearly four hours. Only then was Eris able to make any kind of connection to Evoran’s mind. And even that at great effort as the Sergeant was barely standing from wounds and fatigue. However, we learned what we required…
…one of our company had fallen.
Two days prior late on the 10th of White Stagg, Sergeant Que’kassars team made landfall on the beach of Von D island. They were faced with the choice of proceeding into the Darkened jungle or waiting on the beach until morning. With a strict 3 day deadline from the captain before they would be stranded, the team decided to enter the jungle a few hours before dark.
Team: Sergeant Minor Aradove Longtail, Sergeant Evoran Que’kassars, Corporal Samira Ravenwood, Rangers 1st Class Mugin Von Dietrich, Rysak Ironblood, Sarin Silverfeather, Ranger Thomas Zulcrum, and ally Fekla Kolfis. In addition, Longtail had managed to pick up another mercenary, a Brinchie called SwiftBlade.
They made it nearly half way to the central mountain before making camp in the overgrown ruins of one of the Island’s former villages. That night, they were attacked by a swarm of what they later identified as Trogolodytes, though some bizarre island savage variety. As the entire island was cloaked in Gloom, the creatures were rendered nigh invisible making combating them nigh impossible.
Ultimately, the Rangers set fire to the jungle around them denying the savages their greatest advantage and, thereby, managing to survive the night. The next morning, the 11th, the Rangers arrived at the base of the island’s central mount. There, they negotiated a treacherous switchback trail up many hundreds of feet before arriving, tired, wounded, and soaked before a set of massive gates.
Even as they began to consider how to scale the wall, the gates opened to reveal a welcoming committee of Shayakar Nightguard. As the team stood stunned, Von Dietrich was cordially invited into his home. In confused silence, they were led into the courtyard filled with enemy Shaya’Nor combatants. Strangely, the assembled army of Darkness made no move to harm or imprison the Rangers. Rather, they seemed to almost expect the team’s arrival.
After walking through the courtyard, they were led into a main hall where a High Level meeting was taking place with representatives from across Shaya’Nor and more. We are still waiting for a full debrief. Nevertheless, the team discovered that Mugin’s older brother, Mortis, was collaborating with Shaya’Nor.
He greeted his brother warmly enough. Despite the potentially violent situation, all parties acted with admirable restraint. Mortis Von Dietrich invited Mugin into their home and offered on night of sanctuary for the entire team. With that, they were all escorted to Chambers, though, again, no move was made to harm them in any way.
Despite the fact that the team was in no immediate danger, Mortis was unwilling to allow the team access to the Library or armory, though he did offer to return their father’s sword to Mugin. Unwilling to allow our only chance to access the vital Von D records slip away, Mugin, without consultation, challenged his brother to a duel for ownership of the keep and all contained.
In return, should Mugin have fallen, the lives of his entire team would have been forfeit. Perhaps I placed too much importance on the secrets we could glean from the ancient tomes… That is the only possible reason I can think that would compel my Ranger to make such a reckless decision. No secrets could possibly be worth the lives of the entire Ranger team.
Or, perhaps, the jealous brotherly rivalry. On reflection, I must consider that the impetus for the challenge was, at least in part, Mugin’s quest for resolution over the death of his family and the betrayal of his brother. I cannot hold Longtail or Que’kassars culpable as they had no notion of the particulars until it was far too late. And had Von D returned, I would have been required to reprimand him for circumventing the chain of command. In the balance, I will only postulate here, but refrain from entering any ruling in Mugin’s official file.
While the rest of the Rangers remained confined, but comfortable in Chambers, Von Dietrich was allowed to prepare for the impending duel in his father’s room attended by family servants. From what we gleaned, both Evoran and Sarin sensed a major ritual of Darkness happening beneath their feet somewhere within the Von D manor. We are still uncertain as to the nature of the ritual being performed.
At the breaking of the 13th hour, all were fetched and led to a balcony overlook where the agents of Darkness had assembled. Both duelists, Mugin Von Dietrich of the Gray Rangers and Mortis Von Dietrich of House D, were announced as were their seconds. Sergeant Que’kassars, as it happened, performed the duty for his brother in arms.
Once both duelists had taken their places, the fight began. I have few details on the actual bout other than that Mortis was a strong practitioner of Necromancer with a preference for summoning. By all accounts Von D fought valiantly, but in the end, Mortis was simply too powerful.
With the lives of his friends and the failure of his mission in the balance, Mugin Von Dietrich was backed into a corner I can scarcely comprehend. And, again, there is the ever present brotherly rivalry. In the end, Ranger Von Dietrich felt compelled to sacrifice himself for what her doubtless perceived as the greatest good.
I regret that in the moment of dire need, Von D willingly submitted to the curse that had so long plagued him by uttering one word: Vainar.
In that moment, Von D ceased to be our ally and brother in arms and instead joined the ranks of Darkness. However, the power that he received imbued him with the power necessary to slay his brother and, thereby, win the duel. At the moment of victory, Ranger Silverfeather, under my expressed orders, executed the fallen Ranger with a single arrow to the back of the neck.
Needless to say, the hosts were displeased at this event and violence very nearly ensued. Worse, whatever power possessed Von D, was released in a blast which caused a reaction within everyone in the radius sparking and involuntary reaction of their own powers, Evoran was engulfed in purple, eldritch energy and Sarin was wreathed in Light. More troubling, however, Samira seemed to be possessed of the Tempest, a crackling storm and all, Thorgram was consumed by the heat of Flame so intense that it cracked the flagstones and Aradove simply vanished…
And then, all powers, were snuffed out in a single handclap as a man descended the steps down to the party. One must assume that he is some powerful agent of Vainar with High Magic powers. His identity and ultimate role to play is not yet known. He did, however, prevent any bloodshed and, stranger yet, bound the assembled agents of Shaya’Nor to the agreements of the duel. Why, I cannot say. He even had Von D’s effects, including his sword, returned to the Rangers.
As the bodies of the brothers were taken away, Vainar knows where, my Rangers committed themselves to accomplish their original mission before dawn as the agreed upon sanctuary ended promptly as the rise of dawn over the mountain. Breaking into teams, Evoran and Sarin in the Library, the rest in the armory, my Rangers quickly gathered vast knowledge, and what few remnants of the ancient Von D arsenal, all in the nick of time.
At an hour before dawn, they descended the mountain, reaching the base as the first rays of light peaked over the horizon. In that same instant, a cloud of winged creatures (crows…bats?) burst from the highest tower and began to swarm above the keep in an ever expanding cloud which cast an ominous shadow which crept down the mountain and threatened to blanket the island in a shroud of Darkness.
My Rangers realized their peril instantly, but the sudden rustling in the trees about them eliminated any doubt. As one, they turned and fled, running pell mell through the thick and rotten undergrowth. With every step they were hounded and harassed by swarms of the barbarian Troglodytes. Four nearly four hours they ran, scrabbled, climbed and fought their way clear…
By the time the reached the beach, stumbling into the light, they were exhausted and most badly wounded. Sergeant Que’kassars had the worst of it. Yet the Shadow stalked them spelling doom. Everyone dashed for the Long Boat, SwiftBlade seeming to know how best to handle it. Fekla just forged into breakers, quickly disappearing beneath the waves.
They all reached the boat, thank Archanon. Captain Smith was already nearly under weigh as the Long Boat and Fekla were winched aboard. Then, they turned their bow east and sailed home.
Nine days it took to reach Anasia once again, arriving as they did on the 21st day of White Stagg. It was, mercifully, a trip without incident. The Rangers disembarked easily enough. Though, Samira had a surprise waiting. One of her people was waiting to meet the group.
She, Longtail, and Que’kassars returned to the same bar they had nearly destroyed to find a friend waiting. He reported that, at long last, they had tracked the villain who stabbed and nearly killed Samira on orders from Velkalar to the city of Lanthor. Interrogating him was the first step to finding the master criminal. However, our war with Darkness could not be ignored and the tomes recovered from the Slayer Library might hold vital clues to combating that Darkness.
Longtail agreed to take the agent to Lanthor and capture the assassin while Sergeant Que’kassars brough the tomes here for study. Smith’s ship was still in harbor and she was on-board by nightfall and on her way to Lanthor. As their previous visit had wrought destruction on the city, the Rangers were asked to camp outside.
While in camp, another Agent dispatched by our Church of Light, and on my approval, met the group. His name is Ben Toma, an adept with the Church. He is young, and inexperienced, but uncorrupted by the war. So many of my best have been marred by constant struggle with forces far beyond our control. Ben, for the moment, is pure. So, we will use him.
It is late and so much rides upon the coming days. Reports roll in each day of new cults of Darkness, strange signs in the North and even here, in Echer’Naught, the Dwarves of Stahlhiem encounter forces of Darkness within these walls.
But that is not my greatest concern. I have lost Hawksclaw, dead?, and now I have offered up Von D to the Darkness he has spent a lifetime fighting. Thorgram is scorched by Flame, Samira consumed by Tempest, Longtail…Archanon knows what. Rysak has stared too long in the abyss. Only Sarin, Thomas, and Evoran appear to have avoided some darker fate.
How many more must I sacrifice? Too many…
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara