Campaign of the Month: June 2018

Shaintar Legends Awaken: Rangers of the Greenway Road; Regional Command-Echer'Naught

Campaign Report 145
Retribution and Escape; Gods Among Us

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

7th Day of Dancing Clouds, Year 3128 Under the Light

I made good on my promise. We escaped Norcan Darr, but I know not to where. Even so, the cost was too high.

Dancing Clouds 5th, 3128

Lady Arwen Que’kasaars, Sergeant Egon Mansfried, and I continued our hard trek across the red and burning sands of the Hard Lands. We were close enough to see the rocky outline of the mountains in the distance, but too far to reach them before the battle began. Thanks, as always, to Toma’s mask, I was kept updated as to the progress of the assault on the enemy Citadel.

By mid-morning, after I had spoken with Sergeant Minor Blackstone, the Chief scout remaining among the Builder forces selected Alpha Team as one of the small scouting parties to be sent to recon the ground for the assault. A wise precaution. Alpha Team was assigned to scout the eastern rock ridge from the Builder Encampment to the bridgehead cliff face. While Corporal Grimm brewed potions, the team re-upped and rearmed for the mission. Forsaken scouts allied with the Builders warned of enemy Builder recon “drones” the small, flying arcfire drones they used to flush us through the cave system during our previous battle.

With so much free time, it occurs to me that I read a report from many years back during the initial hunts for the Mad Bomber, a lifetime ago. I remember that Athrate Alystar, I believe, led a raid against the bomber who deployed devices similar to this. History repeating itself. And like those drones, engaging or destroying any of them would signal the presence of our force and blow the entire operation. Just another day as a Ranger.

By dusk, Alpha Team was moving through the rocks, keeping one eye on the ground and one on the sky. RFCs Softpaws and Gravelheart served as forward scouts, with RFC Killian bringing up the rear. Corporal Grimm stayed with Sergeant Minor Blackstone while The Explorer remained with his own team back at the camp, waiting for his own mission. High in the mountains, in the shade, the temperature was rather temperate, not much over 100 degrees. They move swiftly and silently.

A few hours into their patrol, Softpaws and Gravelheart spot the telltale glow of arcfire overhead. They go to ground, alerting Sergeant Minor Blackstone through Toma’s mask. He sent Grimm to ground, before Stonewalking back to alert Gravelheart. And like that, Alpha Team faded into the rocks. Well, save for Grimm. It is possible he was spotted. One of the"drones" circled for over ten minutes. But, they never attacked, so, the Team moved on.

Within the hour the team reached the peak of the ridge. The eagle-eyed scouts spotted at least a dozen enemy sentries patrolling the entrance to the Builder citadel, over a mile away. All they could see were tiny sparks of arcfire moving in the dark.

Dancing Clouds 6th, 3128

By dawn, the team was in position high on the ridge overlooking the citadel gate, the great chasm, and the bridge pylons. With a perfect vantage point and the mask to report in, the team elected to remain in position and report updates. They also wanted to observe and record the sentry rotation schedule. AS they watch, the sentries rotate on and off every four hours like clockwork. At shift change, they double the guards making it the most difficult time to attack. All of this the team reports to the Maker, and to me.

The Maker alerts me that about midday on the 6th, they “spoof the signal” informing the Citadel that a team of survivors from the battle is returning in need of immediate attention, with vital information. Taking a team of five specially trained arclancers, The Explorer and his infiltration team don enemy uniforms and head east into the red death, before turning back west and marching up one of the enemies prepared paths. Though the enemy Citadel dispatched no troops, scouts reported a number of the arcfire drones the sky.

By the 13th, hour, The Explorer’s team was standing at the south bridge pylons, across the chasm from the Citadel’s gate. An arcmancer and team of acrlancer sharpshooters joined Alpha Team to provide cover. Arcfire drones circled and scanned The Explorer, eventually buying his disguise. At any rate, they were allowed to cross. It was about this time that I and my team arrived at the base. We had just enough time to change, drink, eat a quick bite, and armor up before he stepped on a teleporter and started skipping our way to the front.

Dancing Clouds 7th, 3128

At the gate, additional forces and a pair of Golems deployed in defense. Then the Builders extended their bridge and allowed The Explorer’s team to cross. Once on the far side, they were stopped by the sentries. The Explorer was pressed for his identity and the watchword, both of which he had well memorized. Obviously, our allies had done their work well. The watch commander gave the nod and our infiltrators walked toward the opening gate. However, just before they passed through the narrowly open gate, one of the guards called a halt. What the Builder noticed, we will never know. But, The Explorer knew the procedure all to well. In moments, their deception would be unmasked and the door closed in their face.

Before anyone could react, The Explorer drew his arclancer and gunned down the guard, starting the battle. From the ridgeline, the arcmancer activated his teleporter and sent Alpha Team straight into the breach. In an instant, the outer gate was a confusion of arcfire and death. Alpha team cut into the surprised sentries as Sergeant Minor Blackstone shoved prepared blocks of stone into the closing door singing them into the ground, jamming it open. Killian took down a Golem that was trying to bore through her chest, while the rest of the team and The Explorer’s arclancers carved a path through the sentries.

AtCitadelGates.jpeg

Taking point, The Explorer and his men leaped through the door, coming under fire from auto-turrets and a pair of golems protecting the inner door. The enemy had also erected arcfire barriers sectioning off the entrance room. Within each section, the defenders could teleport defenders ambush our assault. But, with the door breached the rest of Alpha Team leaped through, with Blackstone singing a second stone block into place for good measure. Last through was Softpaws. She stopped in the small gap created by Blackstone’s blocks and held off the handful of enemy arclancers are the far side of the door.

ThroughCitadelGates.jpg

Now in the first chamber, the team engages the turrets and golems. The Explorer opens fire on the turrets, missing the first shot, but scoring a second. Not before the defense turret his Blackstone with a blast nearly powerful enough to take him out in a single hit. The Explorer’s squad takes out the second turret as more enemy builders teleport into the second chamber, setting up a fireline just beyond the barrier. A presage of the fight to come.

I and my team arrived at the nearest teleportation location and were immediately ported across the chasm. Giving my team to press on, I charged into the rear of the enemy arclancers stacking up outside the main gate. So focused were they on stabbing Softpaws they never hear us coming. Five fell before the last realized they were not alone.

Sergeant Mansfried leaped through, taking up a position to support the center of the team. RFC Lady Arwen Que’kasaars charged through the battle, unleashing a beam of pure eldritch energy, punching through the first energy barrier. Corporal Grimm widened the hole with a grenade. Instantly, the team came under fire from the Builders are the far side. Projector and arclancer fire poured into their ranks.

FirstCitadelChamber.jpg

Seeing the golems closing in, I called upon the Silver Unicorn and teleported across the field to the head of our forces. My first blow struck down a golem. From behind me, acrfire felled the second. And we were through the first barrier, cutting into the defensive line of builders. Flashes ahead alerted us that another defense line had been teleported behind the second energy barrier. They aimed and waited for us to breach.

ThroughtheSecondBarrier.jpg

Without hesitation, Que’kasaars and Grimm assaulted the second barrier while the rest of the team opened cut through the arclancers. Our team poured into the gap into the next chamber. We took down their central golem so quickly, it barely had time to get off a shot. Their defenses fell so fast, the enemy had hardly enough time to set up a fire line before we punched through. Behind us, squads of allied arclancers and forskaen teleported onto the outer ledge and charged into the room. Quickly, the tide of numbers turned. Still, the enemy autoprojectors and Golems kept up a murderous fire.

Ahead we had the last large barrier and then an energy field protecting the final flight of stairs. Grimm blew a hole through the first barrier, opening a shot for Lady Que’kasaars. One two, and last barriers were breached. Softpaws, seeing the opening, charged ahead, taking fire from projectors on the walls and towers. The rest of Alpha Team pressed on, ignoring the arcfire ripping through them from all sides, and pushed through into the last chamber.

FinalAssault.jpg

Seeing the way open, I summoned once again the Silver Unicorn’s power and teleported to the massive inner gate itself. My father’s sword crackled with energy as I slashed with all my might. The door gave way under my onslaught, exploding inward. The entryway was ours. And the enemy knew it. Their arclancers immediately began teleporting away, but not before tossing a pair of grenades into the midst of Alpha Team which was bunched coming through the last barricade. I turned to see the team disappear in arcflashes and smoke. When the air cleared, half the team was down, the rest wounded. But, behind them, allied troops, arclancers and forskaen, poured in.

AlphaTeamFalls.jpg

My Rangers had done well. I ordered the Builder medics to set up a triage location to the side and care for the Rangers while the reinforcements pressed deeper into the mountains. And there, I left them to recover.

Despite losing their main gate, the enemy was hardly done. My Builders stacked up, Boom Troopers in front, backed by a row of elite Arclancers. We marched into the darkened corridors, lit only by angry red lights. Auto projectors popped out of recesses and cut into our ranks. We took them out, but at the first junction, the enemy had erected a barricade and heavy projector. We lost half our front rank before a grenade took down the gunner.

My squad stormed their position, fighting hand to hand. We killed most, with only a few escaping back down the hall. That is when we heard the sounds of clanking and vibrations through our boots. They were lowing defensive doors, blocking off passages and trying to funnel us into more ambushes. Since we did not have a detailed plan of the Citadel, only what we could glean from our former captive, we had to make certain assumptions moving forward.

When we encountered a wall, we took the time to breach, rather than be funneled into their fixed positions. That was the plan. More often than not, we’d waste time cutting through walls, only to then stumble into ambushes anyway. At every juncture shields impeded our progress and auto projectors cut us down. I’d lost more than a dozen in the first hour alone, though we managed to defeat at least twice that number. There was a desperation in their fighting. These were not soldiers, yet we date not stop.

It took over two hours to fight our way to their main power generator. We would have managed it sooner, but we spent much of the time stumbling about without a true sense of direction. That was our biggest fight. Every able-bodied Builder waited for us inside. Heavy projectors were set behind barricades and on catwalks. It was a charnel house. Stacking up outside, our arcmancers prepared teleportation devices. On my signal, squads of Boom Troopers teleported into the midst of the defenders while arclancers charged the door. I took the lead. Arcfire ripped through my armor, burning through to my bones. It was the most intense fighting I have faced since arriving in Norcan Darr.

Neither side possessed a clear advantage. There was no retreat for any of us. Here their Maker took his stand, surrounded by golems and elite troops. They fought bravely and died well. The room cost a quarter of our forces, but they fell to a man. Once the room was secure, we took a moment to assess. Now that we had control of their main power, our arcmancers could take down their inner energy fields and auto projectors. As I leaned against a rail with a medic plugging holes, I received RFC Softpaws desperate summons via the mask.

My worst fears had been realized. He was here.

Ordering the Builders to take the gate room at all costs and begin immediately transporting out, I took up my Father’s sword and charged back up to the gate room. The halls were carpeted by still smoking bodies, ours and theirs entangled in a horrifying mess. When I reached the gate room, I found the Alpha Team standing in the inner gate, looking out with fear. Only the Explorer and RFC Lady Killian stood near the main gate. I did not need to see, for I could feel the energies being unleashed outside. We had to get our people in the mountain!

I sprinted forward, calling Sergeant Minor Blackstone to me. When I reached The Explorer I ordered him to set up his Main Weapon at the top of the stairs, with a line of sight to the front gate. The main room energy barriers were still up, meaning they operated on an independent power source. However, the gaps in the barriers lined up for a sign shot on the door. But, for my plan to work, I would have to position the enemy perfectly.

The Explorer and Lady Killian immediately began setting up their weapon. Terrified builders streamed into the room as it shook from detonations outside. Before charging out into the fire, I ordered Sergeant Mansfried to gather all the able-bodied Rangers and builders and establish a fire line, in ranks, up the stairs, but to be sure to obscure the weapon from view. If our enemy had any inkling of our plan, it would be undone.

And then I leaped through the door, shouting for Blackstone to sing the stone blocks away.

Outside was madness. What remained of our forces that had not already entered the Citadel were being systematically wiped out. More and more enemy forces teleported at every moment. These were not the ill-trained citizens of the Citadel, but elite warriors, better trained and equipped than almost any I have seen. And above us…three…pyramidal platforms. What expenditure of energy would it take to make something that massive float?! What excess. Arcfire projectors the size of thunder lizards raked the ground, turning stone and sand to so much glass and slag. The heat was unbearable.

In the middle of the conflagration stood a being nine feet tall and shining with sidereal light. The enemy commander, and their greatest weapon. His eyes shown like stars, and the pair of battle axes in his hands vibrated with unwholesome energy. Offspring? Scion? Some foreign god? I knew not, though I have my suspicions.

My Builders needed time to reach the gate, and more to begin teleporting our forces away. I had no hope of winning this fight, but I could buy time. Summoning all the power granted me by my blood, the Silver Unicorn, even Tempest, I hurled myself at the man with abandon.

I might as well have been a child. He seemed to sense my every move, turning aside lethal blows. I, in turn, ducked and dodged, teleported and rolled staying one step ahead of his axes…mostly. Despite my best efforts, I felt the pain of his blows on my arms, legs, and back. As the battle raged on, more and more attacks breached my defense. I could feel my strength waning. I retreated to the gate, putting myself between the monster and my forces.

His forces did nothing. They seemed almost entranced watching our battle. As I was pushed back, they slowly gathered in a crowd arrayed in a semicircle around us. No sound escaped them, they looked neither concerned nor excited, merely, curious as their god battled. Which is good, it was taking everything I had to stay alive. If they opened up, my plan would die along with myself.

Step by step I retreated until I felt the cool metal of the door press against my back. I had no more room to move. The being sensed my desperation and slammed me with a wave of power I have rarely experienced. My armor bucked, my bones cracked, and the door behind me shattered. I was dead for a moment.

When I woke, I saw Blackstone’s body falling, his ancient armor rent by the fiend’s axe. Across the room, a ragtag group of Rangers, Builders, and Forsaken huddled before the inner gate, their faces matched expressions of shock. They looked desperate, defeated…perfect.

Sensing ultimate victory, and an audience, the being taunted me in a language I have never heard, but understood. He called me “cousin” and mocked my feeble attempts to escape as I crawled away from him on my hands and knees, a broken man. I just managed to reach the first breach in the first energy barrier when I felt his boot flip me over on my back. There he loomed, his face a mocking sneer as he raises his axes to end my life. And, I have no doubt those ancient artifacts have the power to even take the life of a being as powerful as he. But, creatures of power are also creatures of hubris. He could not help but take a moment to torment my men, to mock them with the demise of their champion. He needed to gloat.

And just as Blackstone’s distraction bought me the time to regenerate enough to regain consciousness, this moment of arrogance distracted him long enough for me to draw a shard of crysarium taken from the ancient, tiled pyramid. Pure, arcfire energy hardened into an impossibly sharp crystal. As he leered, I plunged the shiv into his thigh. I felt it sink through his armor, biting into his flesh. He grunted, more in annoyance than pain. The look of surprise on his face was heartening. Rage filled his eyes at the sheer audacity of my act. Vengeance consumed him. He no longer wanted to humiliate me, he needed to destroy me utterly. It filled his every thought.

And that is why he failed.

At my signal, the defensive line dove aside and The Explorer pulled the trigger.

Everything after that happened in slow motion. The being’s expression of rage twisted into confusion as he sensed the danger. I felt him try to pull away, but my shard held him fast. Only then did her realize my plan. Apoplectic rage rippled off him in waves…a split second before a beam of pure arcfire as big as a plump melon took him in the torso. The shockwave scorched my face and melted the front plate of my armor. However, the enemy commander got the worst. The sheer physical impact folded him in half and blasted him backward at the speed of an arrow fired from a bow.

Yet, the shot moved much faster, punching clean through him and out through the breached gate. In the far distance, I heard a ridgeline explode even as the commander cartwheeled out the door and off the cliff. Outside, his assembled Builders had matching faces of shock and incomprehension. That would not last.

As my body knit itself back together, I levered to my feet, scooped up the body of Blackstone and sprinted for the inner gate, shouting for everyone to retreat. Our wound was a grievous one, but hardly lethal. As I sprinted past, I ordered The Explorer to trap the weapon, before leading the survivors down into the bowels of the captured Citadel. For a moment, many of the assembled were frozen in shock at what had transpired. But, I knew we had moments before the enemy Builders recovered their faculties and launched an attack. So, I shouted at them to follow and ran with Blackstone tucked under my arm.

They did so, The Explorer last, having rigged his masterpiece. We charged back down the charnel house corridors with their blood, soot, and death. In the bowels of the Citadel, we found hall to the gate room packed with weary, bleeding, and desperate Builders and Forsaken, packed in like so many sheep. From the far end, we saw a flash and hear the whine of the arcgate spin down. A Builder commander shouted for the next group and the crowd shuffled forward a few steps like a pack of zombies. Bloody Abyss.

I left the Rangers there and grabbed the nearest guards who looked have able to fight and ordered them to follow me. We needed maybe, ten minutes.

Up we ran to the last major junction to the arcgate room. There had been a minor skirmish here, but with the automated defenses down, the defenders were quickly overwhelmed. Their heavy projector, however, hung limp on its tripod. I ordered the arclancers to man the gun and prepare to repel the assault. From down the hall I could hear the measured tread of heavy boot falls. Ten minutes.

While the arclancers prepped the weapon, I headed up the hall to a corner and waited. Dozens of enemy troops crunched toward me, weapons at the ready. As the sound of the approach grew near, I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing and waited.

A golden bronze barrel appeared around the corner, so I grabbed it and yanked down hard. The first enemy arclancer stumbled out of position opening a gap in their formation. Into the void I stepped, my father’s sword singing in the close space. Half a dozen fell to my blade before their reinforcements managed to target me. The incoming fire was a hailstorm of arcfire.

Ducking back around the corner, I sprinted back to the room with the heavy projector, slipping inside the door just as the enemy rushed around the corner straight into the fire from our heavy weapon. My men cut down their first two ranks before they retreated back around the corner. A stalemate worth maybe a minute…two?

As expected, a pair of grenades bounced down the corridor. Summoning the Silver Unicorn I stepped into the open, slashing them both. Dual arcfire explosions tossed me off my feet, but the gun remained untouched and opened fire as the enemy charged forward-thinking they had taken out our big gun. Another five died under that delusion. Again, they retreated around the corner, and I picked myself up, my body knitting.

From the hall, I heard the enemy shifting. Something heavy was coming. Still, a couple more minutes bled by. This time, they came in a tight block behind heavy arcfire reinforced tower shields. Our heavy projector opened up, but their defense was too strong. Step by step they leaned into the hail of arcfire, inching their way down the corridor to our position. From behind the shield wall, arclancers sniped at us, keeping the gunner’s head’s down. I waited to the side, till they were close enough for a blade.

When they reached the doorway to our room, I rolled in from of them, slashing under their shields. The heavy troopers toppled forward and our heavy projector tore through their tightly packed formation. Another half dozen died in a blaze of arcfire, but one of their grenades rolled in front of our weapon nest. The explosion knocked the heavy projector off its supports. From down the hall, they charged again, sprinting for us before we could recover.

I stepped into the hall and tore into them. Builders dying on my blade. Behind him, I heard a shout from our gunner and stepped aside as the repositioned heavy arclance went to work. I had managed a single breath when a glowing battle axe cut through the gun and the two builders operating her. He was back.

I ran, back down the hall. Had we held them long enough? When I reached the hall to the arcgate, my Rangers were just mounting the dais. I sprinted for them, squeezing next to Mansfried and Killian. The operator hit the controls and jumped into the spinning arcfire rings. From down the hall, the being appeared and realized we were about to slip through his fingers. With a mighty heave, he hurled his axe at us. It spun through the air like a shot from an arclance. I managed to get my father’s sword up just in time to deflect the blow, but the axe severed one of the rings and smashed the controls just as we flashed away….

May the Lord of Light and Celesia watch over us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Campaign Report 144
Battle of Four Armies Conclusion

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

5th Day of Dancing Clouds, Year 3128 Under the Light

Best laid plans oft go awry. And even when they work with near perfection, in war, there are no perfect solutions. There are precious few good choices. To win, many must die. So much blood. So much death. Please let it not be in vain.

Please.

23rd Festival Moons, 3128

With Tempest moving in from the south, and the Builders within range to the northeast, I called up the largest storm I could summon. So close to Tempest, I could feel the madness howling at the edge of consciousness, clawing to overwhelm my mind. Here, without the protections of the Covenants, the urge is almost overwhelming. It took every shred of mental will to just hold myself together. But, it was enough. The storm rose around us, higher and bigger than any I have ever seen. Red dust, rocks, debris, and bodies began to swirl in an angry funnel around us. But, my command post remained an island in the storm.

For how long I held there, I know not. But, at some point, Sergeant Mansfried and Lady Arwen Que’kassars staggered through the wall of red death into the waiting arms of a Builder medic. She was unconscious, but I believe more to fatigue than wounds. He was harried, but hale. The medic plied water, and patched up their minor wounds, before moving on. All of this passed through my mind, almost as if in a dream for I was focused on guiding the massive of wind and death that shielded our small redoubt.

Now, the childer horde joined battle in a threeway death match. Tempest forces attempting to flank our position to the east encountered the lead edge of a Builder push along the same. They clashed just outside my storm with the Tempest giving ground. It seemed that the Builders had the advantage, but I knew all too well what waited for their forces when they were lured into range of the Tempest’s heavy guns south of our position.

To our north, the Builder forces pressed heedless into the storm, while a portion of the childer horde broke off and assault the Builder camp and the large arm charged into the storm. Everywhere lay death and destruction. Childer killed Builder. Builder Tempest. Tempest slew all in an unending orgasm of death. This is what I planned, but even I was shocked by the sheer brutality of the battle. There would be no victors here.

When all were in position, I revealed my plan to my Rangers. There were three targets within the Builder camp that we must destroy to ensure their armies destruction. First, we needed to destroy their means of communication to their citadel. Second, we needed to destroy their teleportation device, thus cutting off resupply and retreat. Lastly, we needed to slay their “Childer Controller.” Once gone, they would lose control of their supply chain and the former beasts of burden would turn on their former masters.

It was a daring, suicidal, plan. I offered Lady Que’kassars the first choice. She chose to hunt down the Controller. Sergeant Mansfried chose to take out the communication device. This left me with the teleporter. I divided my final 30 Builders into three squads of ten. Each group contained arclancers, a heavy weapons team, and medics. Though, it seemed futile.

When all was prepared, I gathered the teams around me and attempted to teleport us through the storm into the Builder camp. However, so much energy was being hurled around that my aim was tragically off. I wound up dropping straight into the advanced skirmish lines of Builders and Childer. I lost two men before we hit the ground to gargoyles. The rest formed up without hesitation and we shot our way free. At least we avoided Tempest.

Once through the brutal hand to hand, we sprinted north toward the Builder encampment. The skirmish took what seemed hours, but was probably no more than half that. Of my other Ranger teams, I saw nothing. However, the battle was growing worse.

Behind the childer lines, a cauldron had opened. As I had seen no Acolyte within the horde, I imagine the massive bloodletting had attracted the attention of waiting infernals. Even as the Builder arclancers carved through the Childer hordes swarming their lines, demons poured out of the cauldron, reinforcing their fleshy counterparts. The western flank was a mess. From the south, in the raging storm Tempest Golems clashed with Arcfire Golems in an earth-shattering display of firepower.

We hit the southernmost defense of the Builder line. Already weakened to support defense to the west, they presented little resistance. We cut through them easily enough, but I was already down half my men and we had just reached the enemy camp. From the east, I spied Sergeant Mansfried’s unit clumped on top of some metal wreck. They were pouring fire into a massive arcfire shield protecting the heart of the Builder camp. From the left, I could sense Arwen’s magic, a tiny blip in the torrent of Flame and Arcfire.

There was little chance Mansfried’s weapons could penetrate the Builder shields, so I signaled him off the attack. They ceased fire and took cover.

By then, Builder reinforcements arrived in the form of Golems from the north. At the same, Lady Que’kassars hand managed to punch through the Builder western flank opening a gap for the childer and demon hordes. They hit our flank catching my team in an ugly crossfire. It was a hard-pressed fight. Two more men went down as we cut our way clear. Worse, something massive was breaching from the cauldron to the west. I had to get the shield down before Flame summoned demonic reinforcements.

So, I broke the cardinal rule of combat and hurled my father’s sword, my sole weapon, at the shield. It struck with a thunderclap, shattering the shield. At that moment, Mansfried’s men opened fire raining death upon the Builder command. Their fire was as accurate as it was deadly. In an instant, both the communication device and teleportation device, along with their generators, were destroyed in a cataclysmic explosion that nearly knocked me off my feet. Two down, all depended on Arwen. However, the Builders were ready for the attack and obliterated Mansfried’s position with Arcfire. He and his men disappeared in a flash of arcfire.

From far to the north, a commotion rippled through what remained of the Builder lines. Calydoes ransacked everywhere. Arwen had done her job well.

I sprinted for my sword, stuck in the ground near the end of the former energy field when a shadow fell upon the camp. Looking up, I saw a Demon Lord, in full power, reaching down and scoop me and my entire team in a single clawed hand. Lifted high, crushed by its immense strength, there was little I could do. Holding us up like sacrifices, I was bathed in hellfire. I lost consciousness, knowing I was dead.

Only to find myself lying on the ground, looking up at a one-armed Mansfried. My father’s sword lying at his feet and the Demon Lord nowhere to be seen. Oh no…

The true horror dawned upon me. To save me, Mansfried had wielded the sword, sacrificing his arm. Damn. Damn damn damn. I tried to rise, but found I could not move. My armor had been melted to slag and then cooled around me. My strength was fading fast, but I managed to summon enough power to teleport out of my armor. Mansfried looked wrecked and Arwen stood nearby panting. Her eyes flitted from one Horde Champion to the next. All around us, childer and demons closed. All of our men were dead.

We were alone. I was bereft of armor, standing in my chared gambeson. Mansfried was reduced to one arm. Arwen fought the urge to flee in terror from the demons. And then I felt them. Tempest cyclones. Four of them were nearby. And something else…something…hungry.

While the Childer, demons, and Builders murdered each other, Tempest had encircled our forces and summoned their terrifying cyclones. Already I felt the energy tearing at my soul. If we did not escape at that moment, we never would. So, I summoned all my remaining power and teleported us away. Anywhere…

I don’t know how long I lay passed out on the black sands, but when I woke, I found Mansfried and Arwen looking down on me with concern. Rising, every fibre of my body screamed in pain and I barely had the energy to stand. But, stand I did. Ascended I hate being old.

Taking stock of my surroundings, I suddenly felt a sense of sheer dread. I believed I knew where we had landed, but I asked Lady Arwen Que’kassars to confirm. Sadly, she too felt the mass of pure vile, evil bearing down on us. Black Sands, a wall of evil. Desert of Souls.

I had never had the unfortunate displeasure of traveling through these lands, but I read the Long Recon Report about this place, and have spoken often enough with Val’rethael Que’kasaars to recognize. The Soulstorm raged across the sands and if we were not swift, we would be reduced to so much dust. A rather ignominious end after surviving so long in Norcan Darr.

With little time and less energy, I asked Mansfried to construct a shield of some sort, while Arwen powered up a jet of energy. If I used an energy manipulation technique from the Tempest, I figured her energy could jumpstart me a bit. It was a risk, but at that moment, I had little choice.

The Soulstorm appeared like a black cloud on the horizon, the many damned souls as faces in the wall of the enormous sandstorm. On my command, Mansfried fired up the shield just as the storm overtook us. On my command, Arwen blasted me in the chest with Eldritch energy and I pulled from all three to teleport us away. Again, with so much energy, I could not be certain where we would land. As fortune would have it, we arrived once again back in Norcan Darr, some miles away from where we had left. I immediately contacted Sergeant Minor Blackstone.

5th Dancing Clouds 3128

However, even though it appeared that only hours passed for us, Alpha Team had slogged across the blazing desert for days without food or water. They had managed to contact us once before the Tempest portals were dispelled. After which, they contacted the Maker and homed in on their position. Had it not been for RFC Softpaw’s Golem friend, they might all have perished from exposure.

By the time we reappeared, they had been recovered by allied Builder forces for several days. Which meant almost two weeks had passed in Norcan Dar while we attempted to escape the Soul Sands. Nevertheless, Alpha Team was safe and on the mend. Reports indicate that the Builder army was destroyed by Tempest who were not in pursuit. That and the Maker was in position with allied Forsaken in sight of the enemy Citadel.

Finally, after playing the most dangerous game of cat and mouse, all the pieces were in place. I never allowed myself to truly believe any of this would work. When we were forced to evacuate the Builder citadel and cast out into Norcan Dar with no means of returning home, I despaired that I had led my entire team to a lingering fate worse than death? But, when RFC Gravelheart learned from Lady Killian’s Forsaken that there might be a Tempest force in the south, I began to have the beginnings of a notion. However, not unil we captured the Bulder Controller during the Battle of the Chasm did a true plan form. From him, we learned the identity AND location of the enemy Citadel.

It was far to the southeast, but maybe… In addition, through our interrogation, we learned that the enemy Citadel was in communication, and even transport, with forces in Shaintar. That meant they had to have an Arcgate powerful enough to reach home. But how could we hope to attack a fully defended Citadel with a band of refugees?

So, I worked to find suitable accommodations for our most critical civilians away from the coming war. Then I led the Builders south into the Red Death, far from any supply lines forcing them to expend vast resources to maintain operational even as I led them closer and closer to Tempest. Using maps gleaned from the captured Builder and our own Maker, along with rumors from the Forsaken, I plotted a crude path straight into the heart of Tempest.

My fleeting hope was that the enemy Builders would be driven enough to follow. During the battle of the Stone Temple, despite nearly losing my head, I brought their numbers closer to parity and proved they would follow me straight into the Abyss. Once I was able to sense Tempest, it was time to bait the trap. Using the cover of a storm, I dispatched the larger body of my army west toward the enemy Citadel which was, by now, nearly undefended as most of their available war material had been consumed chasing us across the desert.

With my small force, I continued to lead the Builders south. At the same time, my use of Tempest powers alerted Tempest to our presence and lured them north, as I knew they would be compelled to do. Timing was the key, and with Celesia’s guidance, we managed to bring all three armies to a head in the ruins within striking distance of the enemy Citadel. I wonder if they ever suspected my plan, or were simply happy to be heading the relative direction of “home?” Whatever the case, with the Builder army utterly destroyed in the field along with all their war material, their Citadel is now sorely underdefended.

And, with my trained and tested army, along with a bit of subterfuge, the Maker has a plan to trick the enemy into opening their gates. Upon when my Rangers, Builder allies, and any Forsaken who want to escape this wretched place will storm the Citadel, capture the gate, and return to our homes. Even if I never make it through, by the Ascended I WILL see my people home. I have already lost Sergeant Ssahliissstah. The Explorer was forever touched by Flame. Mansfried had lost his arm. They have all suffered so much. I owe them this, at least.

The Maker prepares to mimick a signal from the enemy army pretending to be survivors from the recent battle. Wearing the enemy uniforms, they will try to breach the Citadel gate and hold it long enough to bring in our small army. From there, we cut our way through. Sergeant Mansfried, Lady Arwen Que’kassars and I will make our best time to join them. This whole horrible affair is almost over.

Though I fear the enemy has one more trump card to play…the most devastating of all…

May the Lord of Light and Celesia watch over us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Campaign Report 143
Battle of Four Armies

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

23rd Day of Festival Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

Be careful what ones hopes to achieve, for one might just achieve their desired results. The heat, the thirst, the rage..this is a despicable place. Yet, Ascended willing our torment is soon to end. The Maker is in place. Our enemies draw near, and should fate be kind, we shall have our victory, our escape, and our just rewards. If only…

Festival Moons 19th, 3128

I sent Alpha Team north along our backtrail to locate the enemy army. It is close, I can feel it. Softpaws reports the weather is absurdly hot. The ground red and cracked, like some festering wound. They deployed scouts out, RFC Softpaws and Gravelheart. I must say I admire how each member of the team as accepted their rolls in this hellish scape. Softpaws has given up much of her loner dramatism, Corporal Grimm has grown downright generous. The Explorer and Lady Killian have developed a rapport. I imagine that, should we escape, they may just remain together. They are formidable. Sergeant Minor Blackstone commands well. And, Sergeant Mansfried is learning quickly. They have all come so far. I hope to see them clear of this.

Festival Moons 20th , 3128

Softpaws reports the team made camp, remaining protected from the blistering noon skies. Here, without cover, breeze, or shade, the heat is oppressive and more deadly than enemy barbs. At high noon, however, the team reports noting a fast-moving shadow darting overhead. I imagine they caught a gargoyle scout. Or, perhaps, one of the Builder’s infernal devices.

At sunset, as the temperature dropped from lethal to just debilitating, the team took stock of their situation. They chose to angle northwest, off their original guide as to come upon the enemy forces from the flank, rather than head-on. A wise place.

My southern scouts reported dust on the horizon. The Tempest Legion grows near. I can hear them now, the maddening whispers. It seems everything is worse here, rawer. Norcan Darr, truly the Hardest of Lands.

Festival Moons 21st, 3128

Through her heat delirium, Softpaws reports the team was unable to set up a full encampment. I can only imagine how horribly they suffer in the scorching heat. If they are not careful, they will die of exposure long before facing the enemy. Celesia be with them.

By nightfall, the team elected to expedite their orders by sending up a “magic flair.” Sergeant Minor Blackstone assumed that the magic sniffing ratzin scouts of the enemy horde could not miss his Stonesinging. So as the team spread out in a perimeter, he began to sing. And, it would have likely worked were it not for the arrival of a different foe.

The lead edge of the Builder army was, at that moment, on top of Alpha Team. Softpaws was just able to send an alert for the team to scatter. They had mere minutes to vacate the area before being overrun. Softpaws and Gravelheart lit out around the enemy flank, holding to the shadows. Sergeant Minor Blackstone summoned his power and bore the remainder of the team underground far enough where they could continue on foot. While relocating, RFC Gravelheart was nearly taken down by an enemy scout, but RFC Softpaws managed to take out the scout without attracting attention. They then dragged the body to the ridge with the other Rangers.

From a nearby “ridge” the team observed the Builder army arrive. They were too close to move so Alpha Team hunkered down under their dun-colored cloaks and resolved to wait out the army…under complete exposure to the elements. They wait all night, watching the enemy army move just south of their position before halting to set camp.

I recalled my southern scouts as the Tempest legion encamped just outside the ruins to the South. Even in this heat, they constructed a fortification using logs and other supplies carried by the army on the march. Had it not spelled our doom, I might admire their tenacity. Every action regimented, every Legionnaire assigned specific functions. From our vantage, we could see them moving heavy artillery into place. To drag such beasts across the sands…insanity.

Festival Moons 22nd, 3128

To our north, Alpha Team remained in place, sweltering in the heat. I can only imagine the torment. Having spent more than a few days lying in the tall grass in the high summer watching Kal movements during the war, I have some inkling. Even during my last stay in this hellhole, I at least had the cover and protection from the Tempest Legionnaires and our Forsaken allies.

That evening, the team reported in reporting their situation. I could tell they were near the end of their strength, but all depended on controlling how our foes entered the field of battle. So, I left it to Sergeant Minor Blackstone to continue the mission, or recall. He elected to push on. While I conferred with the Sergeant Minor, The Explorer rifled the enemy Builder netting an arclance, two lots of crystallites, food and water for several days, and the uniform.

Unfortunately, the gaggle of Rangers and fresh meat drew the attention of a pack of Gargoyles hovering nearby. Half a dozen descended on the Rangers, who fought them off with efficiency and economy of magic. I must say that they have well adapted to their new environs, despite the fact that they should never have been trapped here in the first place.

Once the gargoyles are defeated, The Explorer uses the dead Builder to bait the childer horde which they speculate is rather close. Using magic and flesh, they bait a path to the east of the enemy Builder column so that the Horde does not accidentally encounter the Builders before reaching the ruins. That would leave my small force of Arclancers to face the might of Tempest alone. That is a sobering thought. With Corporal Grimm sprinkling the bait with odious concoctions enticing to enemy ratzin the team begins moving south back to base.

The sharp-eyed Lady Que’kassars notes a mass closing from the north. In six hours, the entire Alpha Team can see the horde bearing down on them fast. With dawn approaching the team faces an ugly choice.

Festival Moons 23rd, 3128

The horde is maybe 5 hours behind the team at dawn, and closing. Unlike Rangers and Builders, Childer do not stop during the hot daylight hours. If the Rangers stopped to avoid the heat, the horde would overwhelm them before night’s end. Their only alternative would be to push forward through the day…a suicidal notion. But less suicidal than stopping.

So, after having lain in the heat the previous day, and marching all night, Alpha Team began a forced march in the full heat of Norcan Darr’s sun. Over my years of service, I have heard of few more harrowing or impressive feats.

For hours they jogged and slogged across the cracked and broken blood-colored salt flats with the enemy horde closing on them. Every so often, Thratchen or gargoyles would descend upon them, forcing them to engage in a fighting withdrawal.

While my Rangers ran for their lives, my battle had begun. The Temepst scouts were pushing into the ruins, running in my pickets. To slow their advance, and provide cover for my own forces, I summoned another cyclone. The sand, dust, and gravel from around the ruins filled the finger of death, cloaking the entire ruined city in a thick blanket of red, swirling death. Even the Tempest forces found their advance grind to halt. My own forces took cover from prepared positions and pepped the enemy lines. But, it was only a stalling tactic. If the other forces did not arrive, we would simply be overrunn.

By late afternoon, my rear scouts report that the Builder army had arrived and were already deploying advanced forces, golems, arcfire drones, and arclancer scouts. They pressed in from the north. My scouts, per orders, retreated to our west, drawing the Builders into the Tempest lines, not our own. With the massive sandstorm obscuring the field, they were entirely unaware that there was another large force engaged. As soon as the two encountered each other, my scouts broke off and returned to our main position to wait.

All depended on Alpha Team. The heroes that they are, Alpha Team arrived within an hour of the Builder army with the horde on their heels. Here, the final piece of my grande plan fell into place. Sergeant Minor Blackstone took the rest of the team, minus Sergeant Mansfried and Arwen underground out of the line of battle. Sir Mansfried, carrying an exausted Que’kasaars sprinted the last two hundred yards with the entire horde belowing after.

Reacting to the sudden appearance of the horde, the rear echeleon of the Builders opened fire, attracting the attention of the majority of the childer. Now the battle was joined on three sides. My skirmishers trading shots with Tempest and the Builders, while the Tempest and Builders launched golems into each others ranks. And, from the rear, the childer horde poured into the Builder army, while a portion sprinted at our position in the center of the ruins.

Under a darkening sky, and the red sand storm, a fourth force appeared, dozens of flame wyverns, drawn by the blood and power, descended erupting the world into fire and death…

It was if the entire world were ending.

Off to the flank, the builder army has paused and the cyclone is swirling. We swap out wounded, leaving Mansfried and Arwen to go towards Wolfhaven while I burrow into the ground with everyone else, taking them under the red earth to avoid them being attacked/devoured by the Horde that caught up to us.

My attention was at this point, fully directed at the battle. But, I could feel them, Alpha Team watching from a distance. And, I know that Sergeant Minor Blackstone opened my final orders. While my small force was sacrificed to ensure the mutual destruction of the three armies, Alpha Team was to head north and west to make contact with the Maker who had recently finally reached his final position. It would be a months-long march across the Red Death. They had little water and no food. Just surviving the heat would be a miracle, but if Alpha Team managed to reach the Maker, there was a slim chance that they could all go home.

By Archanon’s Grace and Celesia’s Mercy, I pray I have not condemned my Rangers to death. They deserve to be home with their loved ones. I have given all to see them home. Please let this all not be in vain.

May the Lord of Light and Celesia watch over us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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A Magician's Guide to Norcan' Darr
journey home. hopefully

We’ve been tasked with finding a horde, a childer horse. I know it’s crazy but at this point crazy is normal or as normal as it can be. the plan is to draw a large number of our enemies to one place, and use the chaos to sneak away, to where I dont know.

the environment once again appears to be our greatest hurdle and my meager supplies have finally run out, making it nigh impossible to create the simplist concoction. we will head for the north in Hope’s of finding the horde and somehow bringing them to this make shift string hold. I dont normally pray to the ascended but we’re going to need all the help we can get, even when God’s walk amongst us.

hopefully this isn’t my last entry but if so, I hope this is a contribution to the magic world at large.

Respectfully,
Gulburt Grimm

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Campaign Report 142
Baiting the Trap

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

19th Day of Festival Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

As we approach what I pray are our final days in this hellish land, I can only pray to Archanon, and plead aid from Celesia that our courage and our determination see us through. My plan, if such a haphazard notion could be regarded as such, yet unfolds. I am honestly surprised that all goes as well as it has. Keeping the true nature of our maneuvers from those fighting and dying is always heartwrenching, but the lessons of my commanders at the Helt Academy have proven themselves time and again. I must not allow my subterfuge, my ultimate design be discovered as it would spell doom for us all. And yet, I must sacrifice so many who have suffered so much in a gamble that logic dictates I cannot win. Ascended forgive me if I fail them.

Planting Moons 8th, 3128

As I stated briefly in my last report after my body was recovered from the field, the Alpha Team took a moment to rest and repair while they waited to hear about the success or failure, of Sergeant Minor Blackstone’s mission to retrieve my head. Within a couple of hours, the reliable Mountain returned and delivered my head. However, it appeared that more was required. I imagine if I were of purer blood, a simple replace would have sufficed, but as it happens, Lady Arwen Que’kasaars stepped forward to call upon her newfound relationship with Celesia to initiate the regeneration.

I admit I was dazed and confused upon my return. Of course, I knew that I had been shot by a Reaper rifle and had lost consciousness, but fully expected to wake in the heat of battle once again. As it happens, I was lying in a cool cave looking up at the concerned face of Alpha Team. It took a moment to understand what they were saying, but I quickly surmised the horrible truth. Someone with intimate knowledge of our skills, abilities, and tactics hired a unit of specialized bounty hunters to attack us in the midst of a major engagement when our defenses were at their lowest ebb. The time and resources for such an operation are stagging, not to mention getting the team and out. Which, if I ever have a shot at them, I will capture one alive to find out just HOW they managed to enter Norcan Darr, and more importantly, how they intended to leave.

They were more shocked, I believe, by my miraculous recovery than even I, though I can hardly blame them. I explained that the recovery was due to my bloodline. I am related, in some way, to the ancient order of Starfall. And because of that connection, I have access to greater powers, though still paled by my predecessors. And yet, even at that, I do not believe I could achieve the same trick in Shaintar. The Covenants are a powerful effect that all are subject to obey. Were my head taken within the confines of Shaintar, I firmly believe that I would be gone for all time. A sobering consideration.

I also took a moment to examine Sergeant Mansfried. He had, again, taken up my sword. This time, to esnure it did not fall into enemy hands. For that, I am ever indebted. But it cost him dearly. His right arm, up to his elbow looks blackened and painful. He claims that it functions well enough, but I know a wound like that will catch up with him sooner than later. For a warrior, losing an arm, or a leg can end a career, and in doing, a life. Or at least a will to live. I resolved then and there that I would arm him in other ways, give him weapons that are wielded with the mind, not the arm, so that should he lose the one, the other would be deadlier by far.

By nightfall we returned to our allies outside the rocks. The Maker had followed my orders explicitly and we were well on our way to escaping. The heat, though, was terrible. One could almost forget, having spent the last days within the relative cool of the rocks, but stepping out into that red wasteland my body, mind, and will recoiled in horror. This truly is the hard lands. Only the hardest survive here.

Our casualties were not unexpected, though I gather from all reports that we took at least 4-5 for every soul lost. A war of attrition in this hellscape is a mutual suicide pact, but if I must fight then by the Ascended I will make them pay for their aggression. And then, there is the small matter of our Iron golem friend. RFC Softpaws gave no indication that he had been destroyed, but she did not seem at all certain. For our sakes, I hope he survived.

Now that we had more than a moment, Sergeant Minor Blackstone had a few pressing questions to ask me. Of the two most important: What is the nature of the gem in my diadem, and how am able to summon Tempest. As to the former, I explained it as something akin to a Focus Crystal, though of greater power. It allowed me to travel through the Realms. I am still learning of the true nature of Telesmae. And, of course, I am a victim of the Brogue Ritual, one of the first in Shaintar. Making my Telesmae something more, but I did not go into such lengths. They are, for the moment, beside the point.

As to the second, well, it is public record, though few bother to read the old tales. Old. It has been what, six years? It seems a lifetime. But, I digress. When the Tempest first struck, before we knew what they were, they very nearly overwhelmed out defenses. By pure happenstance, I was among those which made the portal trip to battle the first Tempest incursion within their own Realm. Again, those records are well documented, but suffice to say, the Tempest Realm was a hodgepodge, patchwork affair stolen from various Realms. A grim foreshadowing of our own fate should we have failed. We did not. Under my fledgling command, we managed to overwhelm the Tempest forces and save our Realm, but in the final act a young adept was given a horrible choice, save all the heroes of Shaintar but leave a way into Shaintar, or, close the Realm off entirely but sacrifice all the heroes of Shaintar in process.

I am here, so the choice is evident. But, to Sergeant Minor Blackstone’s question, all those who survived were marked by Tempest. It is a part of us. I can sense Tempest at an extreme distance. I can walk through storms untouched, and I can summon down azure blue lightning in times of need. But, such gifts come at a price. Even now, I can hear the siren song of Tempest calling me to its banner. But, it is in good company. The coldness I feel since my death at the hands of Darkness, and now the rage I feel burning within me since losing my head in the hellish land… With each death, a piece of me is stripped away leaving behind raw power. My hesitance to summon my full power is only partially modesty. Predominantly, I fear that in some distant moment of need I will lose control of this…thing…inside me. I have no concept of what would transpire, but I cannot imagine that it would be good.

To assure Blackstone, I explained that I typically used the power of the gem to shroud it from enemy sight. Tempest, in particular, seek out such gems with a vengeance. As for turning to Tempest, if I am to fall, it is not for some time. The Sergeant Minor departed mollified.

After speaking with Blackstone, I had a very touching conversation with Lady Arwen Que’kasaars concerning the nature Celesia, the Silver Unicorn. During the last engagement, Lady Que’kasaars was unmanned by the charging Horde Champions, in a moment of weakness, but rather than allow herself to become consumed by the panic, she reached out through the terror to the Silver Unicorn. Her entreaties were answered and she joined the ranks as our newest Chosen of the Horn. I see fewer of such since the imprisonment of both Celesia and Saiderin. Though, so far as we know, Celesia has been freed. She spends her time seeking her mate.

I explained as well as I could about the nature of the Unicorn. How Celesia is not of the Ascended, but of a similar power level. She was at the founding of Shaintar, and instrumental in the elevation of the Goblinesh from Darkness. Most importantly, she grants power to heroes in times of crisis, but she is not to be worships…more venerated.

About the time my private conversations were completed, the Maker indicated the column was ready to resume our southern march. I gave the order and once again my ragged band began the slow trudge into the Red Hell. But this time, there was a difference. I hadn’t noticed it within the rocks, but I could feel it. A gentle tug like a lodestone. So, I was correct. A grim confirmation, but a welcome one.

Red Wolf 11th, 3128

We trudged for a month without site of much more than red dust and clay. No sign of the enemy. Nevertheless, I knew there were there, dogging our heals. Whatever compels them clearly will not be satisfied until we are utterly destroyed. Mores the pity for them.

In our off time, in between the grueling marches, I take time to begin training Sergeant Mansfried in the finer points of Helt Academy Tactics. I have never taken tutorship before. I know many retired commanders make good wage doing so, I just never had the time. But, he bore my father’s sword twice. There is something unique about him. Maybe by the time we escape, his education will be complete. He is directly in line for command of the team.

Eternal Suns 8th, 3128

The further south it goes, the hotter it becomes. I wonder…

Thunder Hawk 11th, 3128

Three months and no sign of the enemy, wyverns, or our Golem ally.

That evening, I call the team together. I can feel the pull harder now. Insistent. We are close. But, moreso, the map, or vague collection of recollections, I have been using indicates that one of our final battles is at hand. If the ancient site is where it is purported to have been.
But, before we can reach the ambush site, I needed to prepare for the next phase of the war. I know it is a maxim to never split your force in the face of a larger enemy, but given my situation, there was little cause to lead the entire merry band to their deaths. Added to that, there was of course, the “plan.”

I did not explain everything, but I let them know there WAS a plan. More men lose heart when they fear their commander flounders than in the face of the enemy. To know that there is a plan is a great source of courage. That said, I cannot speak to the quality of said plan. So many moving parts, so much to go wrong. In the end, I ask them to place their faith in me. We have only each other.

My plan, such as it may be, is to send the bulk of our forces away from this action, to the west, more or less. However, I am aware that we have been tracked since we escaped the burning citadel. To move such a large portion of our army and not be destroyed in detail, I needed to provide a large cover. I had the power, but not such as I could control. I gave them an hour to batten down everything before I summoned up a storm using the Tempest Power afforded to me by my curse.

With me, I take only about 40 Builders, an equal mix of soldiers, engineers, and few of the Caldydoe beasts to bear our burdens. Per my orders, they dug in, tying everything down tight.

When the hour ends, I summon the horrible Tempest power within me and begin summoning down a storm. It is not a power I have oft used. Too…dangerous. But, in the situtation, the storm covered 10 miles in a massive dust cloud and filled with Tempest energy. Anyone seeking to scry through such cover would find themselves sorely pressed. Sadly, it lasted a tad longer than expected. 12 hours. But, more than enough time for the larger part of our column to slip away. And in their wake, not a trace.

Festival Moons 8th, 3128

And my eyes spy that which I have sought these many months. And in the south, the pull, no a chain dragging me south. We are close.

14th Festival Moons, 3128

Finally, we arrive within site of formation of rocks, though, if my information is correct, these rocks hold a far more sinister story.

Festival Moons 16th, 3128

In the early march, we arrive at the “rocks.” Really, ruins. Though, the burnt candle-like rocks hardly bear resemblance to their former glory. We camp till the following morning.

Festival Moons 17th, 3128

At dawn, we beging moving through the rocks, or ruins. It looks like someone built a city out of wax, then it melted in the sun an froze for 10,000 years. But it appears right where I expected it to appear, and that is what matters. I send my Rangers to scout, and they do. As we are almost out of food, and low water, my plans must move quickly.

In the center of the city, my Rangers found a mound that was once the crowning jewel in the city, an 18 city block dias of the same melted stone as the rest. High ground with commanding view the city, the dias holds the key to holding the ground.

However, an empty slab of stone matters little when the arcfire starts flying. For my plan to work, we require defensive fortifications, fields of fire, and prepared traps. To that end, I set my Rangers to discovering a way to cut the rocks. It took a few tries, but a few find a way. Sergeant Mansfried jury rigs some arcfire device, Gil creates a substance to dissolve the rocks. Sergeant Minor Blackstone used his voice to sing “motar” to hold our blocks in place. Together, over the next days, they created a series of nearly impervious barricades.

While my Rangers labored, my Builders set up watches to the north and south.

Festival Moons 19th, 3128

Using my design, borrowed from Sir Regillus, we create low walled bunkers with angle surfaces to deflect arcfire. Pisspoor against the Childer horde, but I expect to face far more incoming fire than childer. In fact, I can feel them growing ever closer. Our time running out, I called my team together to reveal what is left of my plan.

I can sense Tempest closing. Of course, I was only alerted to their presence when Gill and Gravelheart heard the rumor of a Tempest force far to the South. But now, I can feel them. My use of Tempest energy was a bait, to draw them in. I planned to send the Rangers to seek out and bait the Childer horde into joining the fray. From the south, Tempest. From the North, the Builders and the Horde. Our greatest battle would be here, on our chosen ground.

While my Ranger completed their mission, I and the remaining Builders would continue fortifying our position. Once Alpha Team draws the Childer close enough to the growing battle to draw their battle lust, the Alphas were to break off. I only needed a few to join me. The rest, will execute orders only received once the battle is joined.

Corporal Gil, Sergeant Minor Blackstone, Lady Killian, and the Explorer are all needed in the other operation. And, Softpaws and Gravelheart declined to join me. It may be a short funeral.

Sir Mansfried, Lady Que’kassars and I will hold the line at the ruins.

To put my plan into motion, for a second time, I stand at the epicenter of our fortifications and draw Tempest energy to me. Like a dynamo, I summon a massive storm, calling down Azure blue lightning. From the Souther, I feel the raw, insatiable hunger of the Tempest Legion turning toward my signal. The plan is in motion. If I am correct, the enemy Builders are within a week’s march. The horde not much farther. The tempest may now be closer. Timing is of the essence.

May the Lord of Light and Celesia watch over us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Magicians Guide to Norcan'Dar
Realms Beyond Our Own

Since coming to this desolate wasteland we’ve been dealing with dangers from more than just the environment and local denizens, and even in this wasteland schemes of higher powers unknown to us have taken great interest in our small band. I’m sure that if this team ever returns to Shaintar that the identity of our leading commander will be known, but for hopeful future publication of these works i will keep it disclosed. That being said we all know that this individual is the chief objective of the creatures and individuals chasing us through these lands. I don’t say this in regards to blaming this individual to our current predicament, and in fact on the contrary have found great interest in their nature of their being.

From the beginning I knew this individual was far above the normal leagues of man, easily learned from the stories that permeated through the land of their great exploits, deeds, and adventures. However, to be by their side and under their command is an entirely different matter. Every known law and magical theory has been challenged since coming here, but in regards to this individual I have not the slightest idea of how they fit into the magical ecosystem of our world. I do have theories from observation and the surrounding legends and histories of the Builders in our company, which seem to diminish every day.

Based on some information brokered through the proverbial grape vine, I believe his blood comes from a time before the Ascended and even before Shaintar. Seeing Norcan’ Dar for myself has shown me what a place would look like without the protections we were afforded many centuries ago, showing the raw power that was released, or left behind, or however the previous world collapsed. This time must have seen a great surge in Arch-Fire tech and magical energy but for some reason it came to an abrupt and catastrophic end and what ever being or beings stood at the pinnacle of this society must have lived on through their offspring. The powers displayed by this individual are mind boggling and unlike anything I’ve seen before. They do bear resemblance to the powers of Light or The Silver Unicorn but when in use resembles more of a Star Light in coloration, making me believe they are divine in nature. Maybe gods of old have granted him power or he may even be a god himself.

For all this speculation there has been one interesting development, a trait of his kind i suppose but apparently to incapacitate is to decapitate. I stare at a headless body that should be showing signs of decomposition but still it has yet to show signs of the process and even now as i write our team leader is attempting to retrieve the head. The going consensus is that if we return the head to the body all will be well, I find it hard to believe but with what I’ve seen I would not discount it. And truthfully I hope he returns and this works, because if we dont get him back I doubt we will survive much longer.

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Campaign Report 141
Wolf's Head Battle

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

8th Day of Planting Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

Reports continued to reach my command post near the rear of the great stone cathedral. The wounded were carried in, many burned beyond recognition. Distant sounds of battle mingled with the cries of the wounded, dead, and dying. All familiar sights and sounds. Were it not so.

Our skirmishers lasted for less than I had hoped. The enemy flooded the tunnels with arcfire collared ratzin, arcfire drone devices, and man-sized golems. We were simply overwhelmed. Our warriors fought hard and bravely, buying ever inch of ground with their lives. But the enemy pressed on, closing in on our trap.

Some of the last to arrive were members of Alpha Team. Many were wounded, all tired from the arduous fighting along the tunnels. Just outside I could hear the clank of metal feet on stone, and ominous crackling buzz of arcfire generators. The true battle was upon us.

I took up position behind a large central column. My Rangers and scouts arranged themselves behind what cover presented. A large group clumped behind a fallen stone column. Before we had the chance to set in our positions, the enemy burst through.

Their first salvo was not unexpected, but troubling. A pair of cauldrons burst into flame just inside the room. Instantly, infernals poured through in waves. These were simple brutes. Expendable troops designed to overwhelm and soak up the fire while the enemy brought larger, more powerful forces into play.

They tore through our advanced scouts, quickly surrounding Gravelheart. Immediately, our arclancers opened up pouring fire into the mass of seething bodies. The stench of arcfire ozone, burning flesh, and offal filled the room. You could almost not hear the panicked screams of the men being torn apart over the roar of arcfire.

Then, the cauldrons flashed and a pair of Horde Champions lumbered through. Giant, demonic winged demons wielding swords twice as long as a man, the Champions honed in on me, charging with a roar.

Behind me, Sergeant Minor Blackstone summoned the earth’s protection, wreathing himself in armor. Around us, Rangers fired, aimed, and fired again. When the Horde Champions were right on top of me, I reached out and summoned power to me: Archanon, Celesia, even Tempest.

The aches and pains of age melted away as time slowed as it always does. Battle is a rush. There is no fear, no pain, no hesitation. Only purpose, lethal purpose. Yet, there is always a price to be paid, and each battle exacts a bit more than the last. All until one day, you have nothing left to give.

I hit the first Horde Champion mid-stride. It was already weakened by my Rangers’ accurate fire. Light and lighting rippled through me, burning the hated beast down to his being and blasting it into magic motes. The second demon was only a half step behind and suffered a similar fate. It was a fortuitous first blow. Should they gain the upper hand, I know all too well it will be my soul dispatched to the other side.

More infernals poured from the Cauldrons. And this time, they were supporrted by enemy arclancers who sprinted into the room before taking cover. Each found a spot to hunder down. Most knelt behind one of several fallen stone supports, while a few split off, and dropped to the ground behind small arcfire shields.

The tactics are familiar. They are also effective. By now, Gravelheart was in true danger. Her supporting Builder Arclancers were dying fast. I sprinted to her and set upon the demons clawing toward her. From my right, I sensed Blackstone approaching as well.

From my left, more Builders surge into the growing battle, but these are not the familiar arclancers. Rather, these are commandoes. Specially trained and equipped, these fierce warriors are as adept at close quarters as they are range.

Before I can hope to reach her, Gravelheart goes down and one of the demons begins to drag her back toward the nearest Cauldron. If she is not saved before reaching the crackling window of pure flame, she will be lost beyond even my grasp.

More Builders poured in and infernals leaped through the cauldrons. We were being overrun. RFC Softpaws hurls a smoke bomb near Gravelheart, trying to provide cover, and opening a lane for Blackstone to reach her.

I summon magic through my ring, changing tactics. I feel the rush of power exploding outward. My sword takes on a life of its own, swinging in wide, devastating arcs. Half a dozen smaller demons are bisected and cast back into the abyss. Blackstone slipped beneath the stones as one of our remaining arclances dropped the demon dragging Gravelheart.

Blackstone pulled her beneath the stones to safety and I turned to see two Horde Champions charging my forces at the rear of the canyon. One closed in on the Explore, the other was about to burn Lady Killian to a cinder. Having no time, I raised the timer, activated the trap, then sprinted for the nearest Horde Champion.

Everyone responded quickly, falling back. I cut down a third demon when something punched through my body, cutting a hole cleanly from my back and out my chest. I had just enough time in my battle state to register it being a bolt from a Reaper rifle before darkness enveloped me.

At the time, I was unconcerned. Such things happen. At least, to me. And disturbingly frequently. However, in my semi-dead state, I have no concept of the passage of time. So when I woke in the tunnel, surrounded by my Rangers, all with horrified looks, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.

It was only later that I learned the troubling truth. When the Reaper rifle took me down, my Rangers followed orders and retreated in good order. One of the last, The Explorer was covering the retreat when he noted my body had not yet recovered. Worse, I was missing my entire head.

…this is a first for me…

Even I assumed that decapitation was a final blow. Apparently, it is not. At least not here in Norcan Darr. Moreover, The Explorer managed a single shot at a cloaked figure disappearing into one of the tunnels near the roof of the stone cathedral, but FAR behind enemy lines.

He shouted to the others, but as he could do nothing about the situation, he continued to provide covering fire. Sergeant Mansfried nearby realized the situation and ran to drag my headless corpse, and my sword out of the kill box before it was annihilated in the blast.

I know he grabbed my sword to save it. I know he saw my father. And I know his arm will never heal. Strange, though, it was my understanding that anyone else would be struck dead by the power of the weapon. That he walked away with mere injuries, permanent though they may be, speaks volumes. There is more to that man than even I can guess.

At this, Sergeant Minor Blackstone hurls Gravelheart’s body to Corporal Grimm before chasing after the assassin by swimming through the stone.

The rest of Alpha Team revived their cohorts, before falling back into the tunnels, laying down a withering fire until the room detonated. How many enemies were caught in the blast? Who can say. Only, I know that The Explorer destroyed at least one War Golem and reports indicate that at least three more were engaged in battle. Dozens of arclancers, a full squad of commandoes. Who can say whom else?

Even with my loss, it was a win for our side. Still, Blackstone pushed hard and reached the top of the stone mesa just as the assassin was sprinting, in air, toward some device hidden in the rocks.

The figure appeared to be clad in desert garb, similar to the Youlan Aradi, but more akin to Xaos. It was armed with a sword made of the same hard-light as the dagger bequeathed to Arwen by her uncle Val. They were also equipped with an upgraded arcfire handcaster, armor of a make not native to any known realm, some variant of arcfire similar to the horrific experiments conducted on the dead by the Deniers of Death…

Clearly, this assassin has traveled extensively through other Realms. And, they were briefed on our weaknesses. Before snatching my head, their sniper badly injured the Explorer making his less of a threat. Now, the lead assassin skipped through the air like stepping stones using some encorcled boots. So long as they did not touch the ground…Blackstone could do little.

They almost got away, but one of the wyverns screeched through the air, dropping from the sandstorm overhead and bathing everything in fire. Both the assassin and Blackstone were hit, but they took the worse for it. Their boots stopped working, somewhat evening the playing field.

With their escape ruined, the assassin went on the offensive. From what Sergeant Minor Blackstone reported, the assassin, likely female, moved faster than even the nimblest elves. Magic, or something akin. Her speed was too fast for the Mountain to follow, but the mountain cares little for the wind.

Planting his feet in the stone, Blackstone weathered the flurry of blows from the foreign assassin’s hard-light weapon. Even as he was driven down, the wyvern broke through the swirl of red dust and blasted the combatants again. Again, fire washed over them both, and again, Blackstone weathered the conflagration. The lighter armored assassin did not.

She was blown back, singed and aflame. Realizing victory was unlikely, the assassin sprinted for the edge of the cliff. Even without the jumping boots, she was fast, but not faster than Blackstone through stone.

In the distance, Blackstone spotted another of the strange metal stone hard-light horse devices approaching from the distance, ridden by presumably the enemy sniper. If the assassin reached the sniper, my head would have been lost forever.

To his credit, Blackstone never faltered, never wavered in his duty. In the last moments, even as the assassin leaped into the arms of the sniper, Blackstone reached out and ripped the strange metallic case off the assassin’s back. With the wyvern circling again and the storm raging, the killer duo were forced into retreat leaving Sergeant Minor Blackstone in command of the field.

It took several hours for the team to rejoin at the rally point established for the survivors of the battle. Our rearguard was severely decimated, but the simple fact that any survived speaks volumes to our armies increasing ability to follow orders and remain calm even under the most hellish environments.

When Sergeant Minor Blackstone arrived with my head in a case, Sergeant Mansfried had laid my headless corpse in state. Even contemplating the scene leaves me with a disturbed feeling of unease. I knew much of my power, more my bloodline, but this is far beyond even my own understanding.

The case was not of this Realm, but was cleaved easily by Lady Que’kassars knife. With my head in hand, literally, they attempted to reattach my head to my corpse. All initial attempts failed until Arwen Que’kassars stepped up.

During the previous battle, she had been unmanned by the supernatural fear of charging Horde Champions. In her darkest hour, she called to the silver unicorn who answered her pleas, granting her courage in the face of fear.

Now, she called upon Celesia once more. They describe a glowing silver light flowing down her body into mine and my wounds healing…then nothing for a long moment.

Even as they despaired, I breathed again and opened my eyes.

Of this, I remember nothing. Everything is black from the moment I fell to the sniper till waking on that cold floor. I don’t feel different, even now. But, there is this fear, that I am not myself. Can I simply recover from a fatal wound? Is there no price?

If so, I know not what it is. All I have is to soldier on and pray my mistake here does not cost us everything in the future. Celesia give me strength.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Campaign Report 140
Battle of the Mount

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

8th Day of Planting Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

With dawn comes vindication. Bitter, bitter, vindication. The enemy has found us. My suspicions are found correct, and worse, the accuracy of the enemy scryers is far more precise than even I dreamed. Something or someone is expending great resources and life to hunt us down. This is bigger than our alliance with the Builders. It must be. What example could be set by destroying us in this vast wasteland? If an example was to be made, it was to have been before we escaped beyond the known borders of any land. So, why?

My belief is that our utter annihilation is the only acceptable outcome. Whoever pursues us with such reckless abandon must fear that we might return to Shaintar. Why? Do we know something that threatens the powers that be? If so, what is this mystery? Or, do our pursers fear we know that which we have yet discovered?

Perhaps it is simply that we have stood in their way for too long and they seek this opportunity to destroy us in their own land. Whatever the case, my resolve to defy these hunters and ensure this alliance survives to return is stronger than ever. We will do what it takes….

Planting Moons 6th, 3128

At dawn, we looked out over the red, baked sands of this blasted waste and saw upon the horizon a column of dust marking the steady approach of hundreds, or thousands, of feet. I knew our pursuers would locate us, but I had not imagined they were so close behind. I had hoped our reckless crossing of the desert would have at least given them pause. What terrible power compels them? It is madness.

Nevertheless, we had, maybe, two days to prepare to fight or flee. Perhaps, both. I sent the Explorer, Lady Killian, and Lady Que’kassars back to the People of the Mountain to let them know that an enemy was approaching and to beg for scouts that might help us navigate their torturous domain. If we could find, or make, a path THROUGH the mountains, we might yet evade destruction. Normally, such a feat would be impossible, but this mountain is more cave and tunnel than stone. Many are wide enough to drive wagons through. If we could just find the right path!

I sent Sergeant Minor Blackstone to recover RFC Gravelheart and Corporal Grimm. To them, I gave the unenviable task of beginning our defense. Our one advantage over our enemies lay in our knowledge of the local terrain, as cursory as it may be. If the enemy was as determined I feel they remain, we could more easily lure them into the tunnel system, breaking their formations and robbing them of their greatest asset: range. Letting their lead elements pass, we would then ambush troops in the tunnels, sowing confusion and defeating their forward elements in detail.

I am well aware we lack the numbers, or firepower, to stop these Builders. But, we can bloody them here. Each soldier we wound, each crysalite we force them to expend is made more damaging by their extensive supply lines. If we are very fortunate here, we might even bring them to parity in terms of supply, if not numbers. Forcing the enemy Builders to ration would slacken their determination and buy us a fighting chance. If just.

To Sergeant Mansfried and RFC Softpaws, I gave the hardest of the tasks. Our weakest link lies in our forced reliance on a turncoat Builder Controller and his nearly two hundred mind-controlled Calydoes. Not the least of which, any harm that comes to the Builder would result in the sudden loss of most of our suppliers along with releasing a nigh-unstoppable force of massive childer within our ranks. We cannot harm him. We cannot control the Calydoe without his help. We cannot risk killing too many Calydoes or lose our ability to move supplies… And, as soon as the Builder learns of the proximity of his former allies, we might very well be forced to do all of these things. So, to the Olaran knight and the Brinchie, I gave the responsibility to prevent any of these events from happening…somehow.

While my teams prepared, the Maker erected a powerful shield over the entrance that would both mask our presence, and provide protection against indirect artillery fire.

The Explorer’s team disappears back into the mountain and we do not see them for nearly half a day as they negotiated with the elders of the People to supply our forces with adequate scouts. Sergeant Minor Blackstone’s team spent the time mapping tunnels and caves with about a dozen Builder arclancer scouts, while I began organizing our force’s retreat. All the while, the enemy army drew near.

Late into the day, I am contacted by the Explorer’s team. They have discovered something important and request my presence immediately. Leaving further organizing to the Maker, I teleport and sprint to the scouts’ location. There I find the People’s scouts cowering in fear and my own Rangers standing around pensive. I did not detect danger, more tension, and apprehension. The Explorer led me through a large hole in the wall, while Lady Killian covered us from the rim.

On the far side, I found myself in a MASSIVE underground chamber carved from the rock by water erosion over thousands of years. Judging by the fact that there has been no water in Norcan Darr such as this for over 10,000 years, it meant that this rock cathedral was more ancient than the founding of Shaintar itself by Shanais and Targon so many centuries ago. We were standing in a sacred chamber that had once been the dwelling of godlings, or dragons. This I knew at a glance. Time seemed to weigh heavy in the air.

My heart told me all these things. But my tactician’s mind saw a perfect ambush. If we could draw the enemy forces into the chamber, funnel them here where they would commit mass forces, we could turn this chamber into their tomb by mining the massive stone columns holding up the structure. By destroying this ancient place, we might save our people, and our future.

Even as my heart broke, I ordered the Explorer to gather Builder demolitions to being to prepare the trap. To Blackstone, I hand him the Explorer’s map and order him to begin stonesining our route through the mountain. It would take some creative maneuvering, but we can bring our main force through the massive cavern, and continue retreating while a rear-guard remains to harry the enemy, luring them into the Killzone. When maximum forces are committed, we blow the whole thing to the Abyss and slip away in the confusion.

I can see the pain in Blackstone’s eyes. It mirrors my own. But, I will protect my people. And, if I must destroy this monument to do so, I will without hesitation. I will do more when it comes.

Once all is in readiness, I return to our camp and being the army moving through the tunnels mapped by our scouts. To survive, I must move an army through an unfamiliar mountain in less than 24 hours. It is impossible, but we have little choice.

Planting Moons 7th, 3128

We wake to the enemy army in clear view. Our best scouts count their number at several thousand, but their lines are irregular…for Builders. Something has changed in our enemy’s disposition. Curious.

The Explorer and his teams work feverishly to prepare our trap. Sergeant Minor Blackstone and his team continue to map and tunnel through the mountains. Already, our army has begun moving out. By mid-day, our former camp is all-but abandoned.

With the relative cool of the evening, the enemy resumes its march. We will be under attack by morning.

Planting Moons 8th, 3128

My Rangers had been working, nearly nonstop, for almost 48 hours. Taking only brief breaks to eat and rest. I know all too well what we face. So, I order each, other than Sergeant Mansfried and RFC Softpaws, to turn over their duties to designated subordinates and assemble in the Stone Cathedral. There, I have had prepared a hot meal, and bedrolls. Success or failure in the coming battle will depend much on these warriors, so I order them to sleep. With only minor objection, they are all soon sound asleep. How many will be lost by this time tomorrow? Only time will tell.

Leaving my Rangers, I returned to the camp, now utterly empty, and walked the routes the enemy would be led. Here and there, I made adjustments. At a couple hours before dawn, I ventured down into the Calydoes’ pen. There, I spied Softpaws on her golem, sitting in the entrance watching the approaching army. Mansfried was waking. With that, I returned Stone Cathedral to wake my Rangers for the coming battle.

Corporal Grimm is sent with RFC’s Killian, Que’kassars, Gravelheart, and The Explorer to their prepared ambush points. I sent Sergeant Minor Blackstone to open the door for the Calydoes and begin evacuation of our supply train along an alternate route that would intersect with our main body past the ambush point.

I now had three groups crawling through the mountain. Corporal Grimm and the Builder Arclancers spread out along the invasion route carefully prepared to funnel the enemy into the Stone Cathedral kill box. The Maker led a long, strung-out column of our main force, led by allied scouts steadily away to the south side of the mountain. And now, Sergeant Minor Blackstone, Sergeant Mansfried, and RFC Softpaws would be leading the Calydoe supply train along a different route to link up with the Maker’s forces, screened by Grimm and the arclancers…

All was in motion. There was little left but to wait.

Things almost immediately went badly. First, the enemy surprised the scouts by flooding the tunnels with small, arcfire devices. They looked like angular, flying wedges covered in wires, gears, and glowing protrusions. Their “noses” were fitted with powerful arclances that immediately began hunting down and killing our ambushers in their blinds. While the plan to lure the enemy into the Stone Cathedral was working, our plans to ambush the lead elements of the enemy was quickly scrapped as our ambushers were, themselves, ambushed. Following the “scouts” were small golems that drove in my pickets.

If that were not bad, I discovered that the turncoat Builder Controller had, in fact, seen the approaching army and enacted his own plan escape. Using his devices, he erected an illusion of him sleeping, then used his devices to render himself ghostly so that he could literally slip into the stone “floor” of the cavern. From there, he commanded his Calydoes to attack Sergeant Mansfried and his half a dozen arclancer guards. The first act of the Calydoes was to rush Softpaws’ golem and shove it out the open doorway, where it tumbled to the ground hundreds of feet below. We believe it survived because she sensed it battling a powerful creature of flame a short time later.

We do not now know if it is alive, or dead.

By the time Blackstone arrived, the battle was joined. He was unable to sing open the “backdoor” quickly enough and abandoned the Rangers inside to hunt down the Controller in hopes of bringing him back into line. Trapped and surrounded, Sergeant Mansfried ordered his men to defend him while he constructed an arcfire detonator of some kind. Several Builders were ripped about by Calydoes before he was able to trigger the device, but the resulting pulse short circuted about half the Caldyoes. Now free of the Bulder Controller’s power, they immediately turned on their enslaved fellows. The cavern devolved into a charnel house.

With the Caldyoes at least distracted, Sergeant Mansfried grabbed all the detonators from the fallen Builders and cut his way to the back wall. From the ceiling, Softpaws carried her own detonators.

Sunk into the stone floor, Sergeant Minor Blackstone reached out with his senses to find the elusive Builder Controller.

In the tunnels, The Explorer, Lady Que’kassars, RFC Gravelheart, Lady Killian, and Corporal Grimm were being overwhelmed. RFC Gravelheart claimed three golems before she was gun down and dragged to Grimm’s staging point by The Explorer. Lady Que’kassars was chased by one of the arcfire drones back to Grimm. The combined fire of Grimm, Killian, and Que’kassars destroyed it out of the main tunnel, preventing a greater collapse. But, they were wounded with two down. The recall order was sounded, and Corporal Grimm collapsed leading tunnels before falling back to the Stone Cathedral.

Blackstone managed to locate the Builder Controller and slammed him with a quake spell. Electrocuted by Mansfried’s device, and nearly crushed by Blackstone’s power, the Builder finally capitulated and managed to bring the Caldyoes under control, but not before we lost nearly half of those which remained bringing our total numbers to less than 100. We do not know how much in the way of supplies were lost. I fear that even should we prevail in our current conflict, we will not have sufficient supplies to complete my initial plan. If that is the case, we may have to sacrifice more lives for the sake of a few reaching Shaintar.

At nearly the moment Blackstone recaptured the Builder Controller, Sergeant Mansfried blew the back wall, opening the way for the supply train to evacuate. Unfortunately, enemy scout drones descended and starting firing into Mansfried’s men. The battle was intense, but a lucky shot detonated the drones, collapsing the tunnels between the supply line and the enemy.

With our supply more or less secured, I ordered Sergeant Minor Blackstone to turn over the Builder Controller to the remaining Builder arclancers, and return with the rest of his Ranger team to the Stone Cathedral. Already, the enemy had penetrated deep into the mountain. The Maker’s shield had long since been destroyed. Drones, golems, and arcfire controlled childer flooded the tunnels.

Before nightfall, the battle would be decided, for well or ill…

This may be the end. If so, I can give no higher recommendation and commendation for the Rangers and allies under my command. They have performed incredibly in the most hellish of circumstances. To a man and women, each has stepped up and taken upon themselves the burden of survival for the group. It has been my great honor to serve with these unique and incredible individuals.

Should I not survive what is to come, and any of my Rangers return to Shaintar, it is my dying wish that they be granted the heroes welcome which they so sorely deserve.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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A Magician's Guide to Norcan'Dar

During our trek through the desert we fell victim to an ambush by massive flying creatures. the closest resemblance to which I could describe these creatures is that of the Ice Wyverns that inhabit the high mountainous regions of Shaintar, these however were much larger, red in coloration, and as most things here had the ability to breath fire.

The battle with the creatures was difficult, they exhibit aerial tactics that made it almost impossible to properly place a killing blow and still have to avoid falling victim to the creatures talons and toothy jaws. The creatures seemed to notice that we would be no easy meal, but one of compatriots was taken, presumably as a snack.

we followed the wyverns trajectory for a few days and were faced with nothing but open desert, but a few days into our trek we noticed something large on the horizon, and a few days more we discovered it was a massive rock jutting up hundreds of feet. Careful scouting and searching helped confirm this was infact the wyverns’ nesting area.

a small select team has been designated to ascend the Rick in an attempt to locate our lost compatriot, though I believe her to be already dead, but you never know. to assist with their ascent I will be producing potions of my own make so I will end here to begin my work, which lately seems to never end.

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Campaign Report 139
Cannibals for Dinner

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

6th Day of Planting Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

We rescued Gravelheart and found new allies. But, our pursuers have caught up. If we are not careful, we may be responsible for the eradication of a society that may be older than all but our elves.

Golden Eagle 33rd, 3128

We chased retreating Wyverns as far as we could before the heat of the day grew unbearable and we were forced to halt. Several of our column dropped out with heat stroke. If we cannot find better shelter soon, we may lose our army.

However, as soon as we were able, we marched again, heading south and west as straight as we could manage over the crimson dunes. It was still too hot, but we had lost hours in our chase. All logic suggested that RFC Gravelheart was long since gone, but I held out hope.

Planting Moons 1st, 3128

By 9 in the morning, our forward scouts report seeing…something on the horizon. In such a trackless and featureless waste, everything stands out starkly. Yet, the unimaginable emptiness also plays with the mind, distorting the size of things. We traveled for days toward the leaning pyramid and only realized its true size when we were close enough to get some concept of scale.

Here again, we marched toward a distant object ignorant of size and scale. What was this land before the great conflict? Was it always a desert wasteland, or was it once lush, as the Eternal Desert before the great cataclysm?

How much had changed? And where were all those who once dwelt here? Were their ground bones mixed with the blood red sands? But more than that, why had Flame touched so closely here? Perhaps Infernals had joined the war, as had the Faelakar and Dragons before. What destruction had been wrought? So many questions.

Planting Moons 2nd, 3128

We continue our march toward the distant object, a rock formation. How large, we cannot say for certain, but we know it is large. Perhaps, it is even larger than the leaning pyramid?! We halted for the day, hiding under our coverings as the sun rose high, baking down. The heat here is so oppressive, we even stopped sweating. Hotter than the heart of the desert sands of our home. It burned to breathe.

As the sun dipped low, we marched out again, slowly, laboriously toward the distant stone. By evening, we had arrived in its shadow. It was…enormous. Easily as large as the Stoneheart Mountain of Stahlheim, but flat, vaguely mushroom shaped.

The sides were sheer, though I could make out caves high above. It would seem we found the Wyvern’s roost. How to find Gravelheart? It would take months, or more, to search the entire mesa. Assuming we could survive the climb and the local fauna. I called the column to halt in the shade of the walls, hugging close, but not so close as to suffer falling rocks.

Then, I sent my remaining scouts to check the rock’s perimeter. RFCs Softpaws and Killian headed left and right respectively. The Explorer climbed into the control box of our Iron Golem’s Arcfire Projector. RFC Que’kasaars stood guard over Gill who examined the rocks for interesting components. Sergeant Mansfried remained with the column.

A few hours later, the scouts returned. Killian reported that she had found Gravelheart’s gook and rope maybe a quarter mile along the rock. It was lying in the sands. RFC Gravelheart left us a sign, clever dwarf.

Leaving the column in place, the team, the Explorer and I make our way to the grapple hook. There, Gill set down to brew climbing potions. Killian and Softpaws rigged climbing gear and prepared to make the ascent. It took hours.

Planting Moons 3rd, 3128

Eventually, Gill finished and handed out his weather protection and wall walking potions. All told, our climbers were to receive 6 hours of protection. Almost enough to get them to the summit.

Our ascent team started scaling the surface of the rock, Sergeant Minor Blackstone, RFCs Killian and Softpaws. From the ground the rest of the unit waited, watching. After about an hour, we could see Killian slip and drop to the end of her belay. We dodge the rockslide below, but she managed to recover and continue the ascent.

Almost before they were too small to make out against the rock, we saw another slip, Softpaws I believe, but she too recovered. Then, they were gone. And we continued our vigil.

The night was lit by stars, the only time in this desert of any beauty. Before the cold set in, you the sky was so clear you could almost imagine you were swimming through the sky. It was the only part of the Hard Lands I might have considered to have missed.

Late into the night, or early in the morning, we started seeing flashes of flame. The Wyverns had spotted their prey on the walls. It was hard to see, for certain. But later we learned that they reached the summit, only to be attacked by the Wyverns. Killian and Mal took refuge in one of the many ravines, while Sergeant Blackstone scouted the wyvern nest. Unfortunately, the adult wyverns took to scouring the ravine with fire forcing the women to crawl into one of the many wind tunnels bored into the rock. There, Softpaws spotted a bright object seemingly shoved into a hole in the wall. Before Killian could shout a warning, Softpaws ripped it out, triggering a massive rockfall which would have swept Softpaws out the hole into open sky if she had not downed a wall walking potion and clung to the sides.

Killian, for her part, scrambled into a side duct and waited the rocks out. When it was over, Killian felt in the hole and discovered a primitive mechanical system. Softpaws found the white object was bone, likely wyvern, carved and sanded smooth. Someone had, or currently, lived in the mesa. Blackstone returned to the woman and they all made their way down through the caves to a larger cavern, big enough to accommodate our troops, if not our Calydoes or Golems.

So, once reported back, via the mask, I sent Sergeant Mansfried to bring our troops to the staging area as we began the process of lifting our army into the rocks. It would be a monumental task, but one the Builders were uniquely adept at solving. Even Olarans would take weeks, or months to construct lifts sufficient to move an army. Builders can achieve the same feat in a matter of hours. Many have theorized that Builders and dwarves are of related stock. Though I am no expert, it does seem they share an affinity for the mechanical, though the Builders are the clear masters.

While I moved the army, I instructed the Alpha Team to secure our new camp. Aside from wyverns, we now knew there might be other, intelligent, beings hiding in the rocks. Though I was loathe to wind up engaged in another battle, these dwellers might mistake our presence for an invasion. It was best we protected ourselves and secured the flanks. So, The Alpha Team began mapping and posting guards along all the tunnels leading to our camp.

It took a couple days to get the people aloft. Blackstone helped by shaping rocks, literally singing us a fortified encampment. He has grown in power throughout this challenge. Though, I fear that his time with us will soon conclude. He has a higher duty to his own.

Planting Moons 5th, 3128

After the ascent and construction, we had the entire army, save for our columns and Calydoes safely in the mountains. Moreover it was cooler here. Adjusting to darkness again was a challenge, but a welcome one.

While I discuss with the Maker about securing our baggage train, the Alpha Team moves deeper into the mountain, setting alarms and expanding our perimeter. Down one deep diving tunnel, Gil, covered by Softpaws, was startled. All the Rangers heard the shout and headed to assist. I was, at the moment, below helping get the restless Calydoes into another cavern.

When they found RFC Grimm, he was surrounded by rag wrapped creatures about four and a half, or five, feet tall. They were entirely covered, with eyes behind slit goggles, much like those used by Caladonians or Northern Barbarians. Normally they would protect against snow blindness, but I imagine they would serve a similar function in the brightness of the desert. They were unarmed and entirely enthralled by RFC Grimm’s skin. Though it was red and parched, it was still shaded lighter, and smoother than most everyone else…

While they appeared to mean no harm, they were nearly smothering him as dozens were crawling up his body to stroke his exposed face. Upon arriving, Blackstone sung a stone platform to lift him into the air. RFC Que’kassars wrapped him in a cocoon of protective eldritch energy. The bright purple sparking and crackling startled the creatures and they vanished almost as if melding into the rock as Blackstone does. And then, the team was alone.

I returned in time to meet the team for a report. Blackstone noted that they had absorbed enough Flame from long term exposure to track magically, but we would need to be close. Though, I was hesitant to start hunting them. In the first place, it might be misconstrued as aggressive. And, they clearly had the advantage. So, we went to plan B. Sergeant Blackstone took Corporal Grimm and RFC Killian further into the caves with food and other lures to attempt to draw them out peacefully. Meanwhile, I returned to the task of securing the Golems and Calydoes. I took RFC Softpaws with me to help control her Golem. Blackstone took the mask.

I later learned it took five hours before the creatures made contact. But, surprisingly the encounter did not turn lethal. There appeared to be some miscommunication, but soon, the advance team was being led by their new “friends.” They managed to call RFC Que’kasaars and the Explorer before they were too deep in the caves.

After a long hike, the team was led into a massive chasm that split the rock deep underground. Here, it seemed the majority of these dwellers had carved out a veritable village into the caves along either side. Strung between them were rope bridges. The team was led across one bridge to what appeared to be a central meeting chamber. There, the creatures had started to gather, drums beat, and an elder sat waiting. They were throwing a feast in honor of their new guests. At least, that is what the team sincerely hoped.

A speech was made while Alpha Team waited impatiently. Behind them, Arwen and the Explorer made their way in the wake of the team, following Blackstone’s directions. However, when they too reached the chasm, almost an hour later, they lacked guides. Halfway across, Arwen made a bad step and plummeted from sight. There was nothing the Explorer could do, so he continued on to report. Yet, when he arrived, their hosts were still speaking, so he waited respectfully.

At this point, RFC Gravelheart was still missing, possibly dead. RFC Softpaws was with me and the Golem. Sergeant Mansfried was with the camp. RFC Que’kassars was lost, possibly dead. The rest of the team were trapped in a banquet hall, honored guests of the creatures of the mountain. Terribly inconvenient.

Eventually, food was brought and the team dug in, not to be rude. Here, Corporal Grimm drew a picture of Gravelheart and tried to communicate with the locals. He hoped that someone had seen her. An urchin took the picture and vanished into the crowd. So, he worked to create another picture, this one of Gravelheart holding hands with Blackstone. Here, Sergeant Blackstone assumed diplomat and tried to demand the creatures to bring Gravelheart to them immediately. They seemed apologetic, holding up a finger. He presumed to indicate that they wait.

By now, I was on my way after the Sergeant Minor contacted me. Then, he tried Gravelheart, to no avail, and then Arwen. This was more successful, but RFC Que’kassars was in her pickle. After falling several stories and severely injuring herself, she found herself far below and lost. With nothing better to do, she set off to find a way up. During her search, she stumbled across the kitchens… There, she arrived just in time to stop the villages hulking butcher from butchering an unconscious and naked Gravelheart. They were, it was revealed, cannibals.

Arwen shattered the butcher’s knife with a blast of energy but was nearly ripped in half when the brute hurled Graveheart’s limp form through her. Showing amazing fortitude, Arwen managed to drag them both to a hole despite her injuries while the brute shuffled and sniffed somewhere above them. There they waited for rescue.

I arrived at the banquet with Softpaws at almost this moment. Of course, while Blackstone communed with Arwen, I witnessed Corporal Grimm throwing small paper projectiles at the Explorer’s face like some schoolyard brat. Blackstone returned from his reverie, gave me the nod and slipped beneath the stones to the shock of all creatures nearby. I took the opportunity to assume his seat. It was all rather smooth.

Only then did we manage to break through the language barrier. After trying a few languages, the Explorer hit upon Childer. At least one of their number was familiar with the tongue of the beastmen. What I found interesting was his accent was…perfect, guttural and demonic. I suppose it was something of a native language?

It was then that we learned they were trying to apologize to Sergeant Minor Blackstone. When Corporal Grimm had first requested Gravelheart prepared as a special meal, they immediately sent word for her to be butchered. However, they regretted to inform us that our meal had…escaped. But, they were making every effort to recapture and kill her. Moreover, they were also sorry that they did not have two dwarves for our meal, only the one. With some difficulty, as childer have no word for friend, the Explorer managed to intimate that we did not, in fact, wish to devour the female dwarf, but to be reunited. The creatures seemed amenable.

And then, we continued to enjoy the hospitality, staying away from meat from then on. Though, I suspect a few of our number enjoyed their steaks before realizing the origin. It took time, but Blackstone found Arwen and Gravelheart and reported they were heading back to the camp. At this point, we excused ourselves and invited our friends to send representatives to our camp for further talks. There was a bit more drumming and a short speech before we were allowed to leave.

Planting Moons 6th, 3128

Blackstone’s party reached the camp first. So, he was the first to receive the bad news. I arrived a short time later. Scouts along the outer perimeter had spotted a large dusk cloud approaching. Using Builder devices, they identified a large army approaching from the north, but they could not yet tell if it were the Builders or the horde. Neither was a pleasant proposition. And we were trapped.

We needed a back way through the mountains and out the other side. It would take them time to circle the mountain. If we could move through more swiftly me might manage to escape. Moreover, we had to ensure that our “captive” Builder did not turn the Calydoes against us. His cooperation was predicated on having no alternative. If he realized that his people were close, he could destroy us, or our supplies. And there were our new “allies.” We needed their help to guide us through the mountain.

We had maybe two days.

At least I have been vindicated. I do not believe the Maker can further argue that we are still being pursued. Hollow victory as that may be.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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