Filed White Stagg 26th, 3126
White Stagg 20th, 3126
We cleared the city, heading south and east. I rode with Corporal Zathlan. She was well equipped for a night ride through winter steppes while being pursued by Kal hunters. In that, I mean she was unarmed or armored, wearing a stylish, if garish, dinner dress.
The rest of the team fared little better. Lt. Volstagg was armored in plate, but had lost his weapon and been beaten unconscious by Sergeant Amaroth. The good Sergeant was kitted in full plate, and wielding a two hander with the full might and savage of his new mistress, Ceynara, behind him. Corporal Daynore, or whatever was wearing the Malakaran’s body was unconscious at the moment, unarmed or armored. Thought, to be honest, that actually made me feel somewhat better.
That left the pregnant Corporal Zathlan in command. Her first. Good time as any to start? After that, were the lovers, RFC’s Grendel and Ranna, both armed and armored. Strange to think the ogres of the group have the greatest sense about them.
I made sure to grab my full kit on the way out, but even that was cobbled together from what I could beg, borrow, or steal in Kal’Montak.
And then, there was Braun, the Olaran ex-slave. Bitter, aggressive, snarky, but a skilled warrior.
We managed to ride about a mile south of Kal’Montak before Corporal Daynore slipped from his saddle and was dragged. Close up, we could see that he was tortured beyond all recognition. I’ve faced ghouls with more life than his twisted and broken body. Whatever profane power had animated his body for the ride so far seemed to have finally burned out, leaving him a crumpled husk. Grendel rushed to help.
That and Sergeant Amaroth’s horse had had enough lugging two men in full plate. The poor beast started dancing in circles while the newly minted Kal warrior tried to keep Celesia’s personal pet from sliding into the mud.
While that carnival played out behind me a new actor entered the sordid performance.
Five cloaked figures emerged from the trees and approached. Though they were not brandishing weapons, they were clearly waiting on our party. Sergeant Amaroth dismounted with Braun, and stood too. I spun Zathlan around behind me and she took Volstagg’s reins. We were as prepared as we could reasonably be, given our situation.
They approached, hands out. The leader dropped his hood revealing distinctly Kal features. He said something in Kal, then, realizing our ignorance switched to broken Galean. He asked Audric if their friends in the city had helped them as agreed, and then commanded us to follow them to their master. I admit that walking right back into the arms of the Kal was not appealing. However, at the time, any shade in the sun, so to speak.
We were all set to do just that, when Braun went berserk. He ambushed the leader, and cut him down in one swing. The remaining Kal pulled bows and shot our horses out from under us. Volstagg got trapped and Zathlan struggled to free him.
The rest of us had no choice but to defend ourselves. Sergeant Amaroth ordered us to try and subdue the Kal, maybe salvage some truce. I figure he intended to deal with Braun himself. So, I blew him, Braun, and one of the Kal to the Abyss. The Kal died, Braun was badly stunned, Amaroth…seemed to enjoy the flames. Sadly, the Kal were now intent on killing us all, so any chance to salvage the situation was gone.
Sergeant Amaroth realized this, soon enough, and changed orders to kill. And so we did. I took a couple arrows to the chest for my troubles, but we finished off the Kal without major injury, save mine.
Only then did we realize Zathlan was gone. Casting about quickly, we spotted movement in the trees as if someone were being dragged away. And, there it was. Zathlan had been kindapped, again. Based on my count, that was three times in 24 hrs? Not counting my own rescue. Troubling habit.
We charged after to free her from her impending demise…only to find her already rescued by a lethal looking human in burned armor and cloak. The other’s couldn’t see, but he flashed a burned Corporal’s badge. I don’t remember him from Alpha Team reports, so the burning man may be the only Ranger in a hundred miles NOT a current or former member of Alpha Team. If it has done one thing, this mission certainly makes me wonder how many of Alpha Team, past and present, are still running around. Kick over a rock, and an Alpha scurried out. Its disturbing really.
He never introduced himself, but a cursory glance indicated a well trained operative, close quarter specialist. Knives. The accent was, well, forced. He invited us to join him back to his camp. So, without better options, and without horses, we followed.
A short distance away, but well concealed, burning man had a camp. And in that camp was none other than Graceyln Moldova and her creepy sex doll jack. I guess we kicked over another rock.
Seeing Moldova should have been a shock, but to be honest, given everything else…
As soon as we reached camp Braun and Sergeant Amaroth tore into each other. Audric demanded that he follow order, Braun called Audric a fool and a traitor. At any other time, the bickering would have been amusing. I was too busy pulling arrows out of my chest. While I worked, the burning man, interjected himself in the fight. Finally Moldova had to scramble the Olaran’s brains to let the contact get a word in edgewise. He provided a crude map, small sack of coin, and informed us that the Kal we just killed had been in the area for days, weeks? They were waiting for us, AND they had gear to bind one member of our party.
If it were Daynore, that makes sense. But, seeing as how they specifically kidnapped Zathlan it leads me to believe they might have been targeting her specifically.
Then, Sergeant Amaroth and Braun compared the size of their…swords. Professionally, Braun was right. Audric is compromised. He should relinquish command immediately. But, so long as he does not, my orders are clear. I let Braun know as much. To be honest, there is a high likelihood that I will be killing both of them before this is over. And Daynor. Maybe burning man too.
Once healed, and done with the unit’s idiocy, I headed off to watch out backtrail. And good thing. Less than an hour later, I spotted nearly 20 scouts in a skirmish line sweeping toward us. Apparently they found the bodies. We had to move. Sergeant Amaroth loaded the unconscious Volstagg and Daynore on Moldova’s, our only, mount. Then, we made our east. We had just reached the river, safety on the far side when Sergeant Amaroth stumbled into lead scouts. Everyone had to choose, stay and fight, or get free. Corporal Zathlan chose love, and crossed leading the horse with her husband and Daynore. The Ogres also split, presumable to protect her? Braun had been very clear that he would not risk recapture for any of us. Leaving me, and, surprisingly, Moldova. Or not so. They are screwing.
Moldova scrambled brains while Audric cut his way through. I provided cover. Until my wounds slowed me enough for their acolyte to put a lucky shot through my tree. Before blissful blackness swallowed me whole, I was gratified to see the confused and pained expression on the woman’s face when my arrow suddenly sprouted from between her eyes.
White Stagg 21st, 3126
And the NEXT thing I remember is waking up, lungs burning, the dark, with my leg trapped. I’ve drowned enough times to know where this was going. So, I reached down to unjam my leg and nearly passed out from the pain. Great.
Ok, arm broken, leg jammed and sprained, trapped, underwater, and already only a few heartbeats from drowning. Not the worst situation. But, blacking out again was death.
So, I gritted my teeth, grabbed the…rock?…and yanked. Somehow I managed to float to the surface and the current washed me ashore. There, I did pass out.
Woke again, half submerged in water, stuck in the mud and grass. Good thing, as I was lying a few feet from a Kal camp. Scouts. Lightly armed and armored. All mounted. From where I was lying I could smell their picket’s body odor.
Having nothing better to do, I lay there in the mud. It was surprisingly warm, and waited. Over the course of a few hours, I observed the dozen or so scouts, piss, crap, eat, argue, sleep, and pace. Though, I recognized the unit badges. These particular Kal were part of the unit we tangled with in the desert. At some point in the wee hours of a morning, not sure which, I was wakened by the sound of a body thudding softly to the bank. Figures moved through the camp methodically executing the pickets, guards, and finally the sleeping scouts. Tor Mastak, or something akin. Within minutes, nothing lived within the camp.
I stayed still, and they passed me by like the river trash I was. For hours I remained still, until reasonably certain that they were gone. Then, I gingerly crept into camp, fixed up a sling, procured some food and headed in an easterly directly.
Within a few hours, horsemen were thundering past me from all directions. I figured the team had blundered into another patrol, so I followed. When I entered the open steppes, I could see search parties moving all around. So, I played hide and go hide some more until I figured where the team was holed up. Naturally, they picked the biggest and most obvious rock formation. But, even though the Kal scoured the butte, they managed, miraculously, to evade capture.
White Stagg 22nd, 3216
I waited till true dark, then slipped in camp. Fortunately the Sergeant and Ranna were on watch, so no trouble slipping in undetected. I figured, I was there, why not make a meal of it? Amaroth and Ranna did not seem too surprised to see me when I drew their attention.
Dinner done, I slept until the AM.
After our usual bickering, we headed out again. This time I took point, Sergeant Amaroth covered our back trail. We knew they were out there, circling. We had covered a short distance when everything went wrong.
Cutting through a dry creek, Lieutenant Volstagg stumbled right into a Kal scout. I learned later that his first indication of trouble was the stream of piss running down his breastplate. He froze, but was close enough to see that the man’s member had been “trimmed.” Only due to the scouts utter lack of attention were we not blown, but as soon as he went to shake, Volstagg was done.
That’s when…things got interesting. Before I could snipe the scout and the team make a break for cover, Corporal Daynore started to glow, his eyes burning like stars. That is when the headache started. A combination of the worst sinus infection and hangover of my life, the intense pressure made opening my eyes hard. But when I did, I was suddenly crouching in a thick mist ten feet thick. Overhead, stormclouds gathered, blocking out the sun till the day turned to twilight. Lightning flashed overhead, but no rain…or wind. Oddest, sounds were muffled and distorted.
The scout lost any interest in pissing, and we quietly slipped away. For three days we walked through the bizarre scape until on the third, about the same time of day Durlan started this, he suddenly passed out. And with him out, the mist faded, the sky cleared and all as it was before.
White Stagg 25th, 3126
About mid-day on the same day we reached a village. The team, carrying Daynore, camped in a blind I scouted, while Gracelyn and I, the only two not collared headed in to gather supplies.
A mean place, the village were farmers and herders. We were met by a large man, the headman speaking Kal. When he realized we spoke no Kal, he switched to broken Galean, but that was likely our first mistake. Per my suggestion, Gracelyn lied and said we were researchers. The man did not seem to care. All he cared was that we caused no trouble while in his village. We agreed, and went about securing provisions.
It took most of the day. Toward the end, as we prepared to leave, Gracelyn was approached by an old crone who handed her some herbs. After that, we returned to team with fresh food. Note, we had not eaten since entering the mist, three whole days.
Fresh eggs and roasted goat. Hard bread and cheese. Primitive, yes, but the best meal of my life. Afterwards, a revived Daynore, who claimed no memory of his ordeal, set about crafting a crude shield. The rest discussed our situation. One, Corporal Zathlan pointed out that Daynore’s effect was in excess of 50 miles, which is at least twice as large as the largest Tempest storm we have recorded.
Also, we discussed our route. As best we could tell, we had three distinct groups, all Kal, hunting us. One from the south, one from the west, and one from the north-west. I marked the scouts near the river as from the southern group, and connected with the Kal we faced in the desert. Presumably, those coming from the west are connected with the Scorched Priestess. That would make sense, though I am curious why she and hers have made no appearance? The northern group, we knows. But, based on our encounter south of the city, I believe that Audric’s former “friends” might be associated with that group.
None of which helps us. We also have recieved no communication from Echer’Naught, not even Moldova who says her last communication was around A’Davar which, coincidentally is also the time she linked up with the burning man. There is also Daynore, and the collars. All could be contributing factors. Our only other options would be to have Daynore try and make contact. I for one would prefer he not use his powers if at all possible.
After the good meal we slept well, for once. I woke, inspired, with a full belly, and had Daynore craft a crude bow. Its a worthless piece of trash, but it shoots. I could not be more pleased, given circumstances.
White Stagg 26th, 3126
We departed before dawn, continuing east and a bit north. About 6 hours into the 8 hour day, Audric spotted a column of smoke rising from the direction of the village. We needed no further evidence to tell us all we needed to know. The Kal had torched the village and were now within 6 hours of us, and mounted. We picked up the pace and camped the night. By tomorrow, the Kal will be on us again. Without support, we won’t make it another 24 hrs.
My left arm is broken, and I am down to four arrows. Lt. Volstagg is now armed with Gracelyn’s sword. Sergeant Amaroth is also armed and armored. Corporal Daynore is armed only with a shield and a knife, no armor. Corporal Zathlan is unarmed or armored. The ogres are armed and armored well. Gracelyn has whatever she has, and a fur lined coat, but she had to sacrifice both the horse and Jack as a diversion to escape Kal patrols. Braun is armed, armored, and itching for combat.
We have enough food for a day, or two at most. I smell snow in the air. We will freeze long before we reach Arkstone. This may be my last report. I’m not sure why I’m even writing anymore.