Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
4th Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light
The armies have finally managed to stumble into each other amid the wasteland of Norcan Darr. I would have chosen any other field, any other circumstance. But such are the vagaries of war. The absence of nearly 300 unarmed women and children has certainly improved our combat readiness, but we are still at a severe disadvantage.
We cannot stand here. But, if we can draw our enemies to a ground more favorable… There are possibilities.
Falling Ice 1st, 3128
High in the mountains of Norcan Darr, we rested till the temperature rose and then broke camp. A new start to a new day, in a new year. Despite the hellacious circumstances, I started the day with a sense of optimism.
We had managed to negotiate an equitable arrangement with the Forsaken. Perhaps accepting the Builders of the Explorer’s Clan into their ranks might go some way in improving relations between the Builders and Forsaken. At the very least, they would no longer suffer in ignorance. Even that small victory could have wide sweeping ramifications across Norcan Darr.
More immediately, however, if the Maker managed to convince a majority of the civilians within our column to accept the deal, our chances of success increased dramatically. I would give anything to save them all, but the reality remains that we cannot feed them, nor protect them. Most of the civilians would be killed in a protracted war, if not through battle, certainly exposure and starvation.
I could not force them out, but I am glad so many chose life with Forsaken. As hard as it might be, they have a far better chance at survival here in the lands of their birth. Moreover, their knowledge and skills might improve the standard of living for the Forsaken and Builders alike.
If we manage to return, and our way back is not closed, I plan on returning, better armed and equipped. Come to it, perhaps the Long Recon Rangers could establish a permanent base here. I’ve long desired an outpost in Shivak Novos, why not Norcan Darr?
It certainly bears consideration.
High in the mountains, the nights were far more bitterly cold than even down the valley. We had little choice but build fires, or die. The Forsaken had supplied us with ample dried dung. From what beast, I did not inquire.
Nevertheless, our progress was tortuously slow. We managed about three hours around dawn and dusk. Even at six or seven hours of travel, we barely managed five miles through the rough and broken terrain high in the peaks. Every hour that passed I imagined horrible fates for those in the column. Had the enemy already found them? Were we returning to the dead?
Falling Ice 3rd, 3128
Toward dusk, Alpha Team forward scouts encountered a group of Builders heading toward our group, moving in the opposite direction. These were either our own people seeking to link up, our enemies seeking to destroy us, or a patrol of Builders from a nearby Citadel. Though, it was most likely our pre-arranged meet, any other situation would result in a fight we certainly did NOT need.
After a brief, tense standoff, Softpaws identified the newcomers. Though, I think the thin mountain air had begun to affect the team. Gravelheart nearly stove in Sergeant Blackstone’s head with her grapple were it not for Thorgram’s Shield. Unfortunately, the grapple hook got thoroughly lodged in the shield.
I pretended not to notice the…erm…antics. They needed the relief.
While they sorted themselves out, I proceeded to meet with the oncoming column. As expected, the Builders were those who chose to remain in Norcan Darr, rather than fight a running war across the wasteland of Norcan Darr. I greeted the head of their Patrol, a veteran Builder Scout.
Already the sun’s like began to die. Soon, we would all be freezing and there was very little cover. So, I instructed the Builders to join my group, while we dispatched our scouts to find a suitable location for the combined force to seek shelter over the darkest part of night. Returning to my lines, I summoned Lady Killian, the Explorer, and Sergeant Blackstone.
As the three representative commanders, I instructed my subalterns to form integrated scouting parties of Forsaken, Rangers, and Builders to scour the surrounding area for a suitable camp sight for 300+. They immediately went work, self organizing, before spreading out in a methodical search pattern.
It is a pleasure to work with professionals. Despite the vast differences in training, personality, and style they all work easily and well. While my teams went about their work, I welcomed the newcomers into our ranks and began assessing out needs. Housing 300 Builders involved more than simply a large enough cave.
Within an hour, my scouts reported a large crevice nearby that would work well. However, the sun was down and temperatures were dropping fast. So, we quickly moved everyone to the site and began the process of lowering all into the shelter of the rocks. Builders are, if anything, an efficient people. My own Olarans would be impressed.
We arranged the entire affair before the hoarfrost began to creep across the rocks. With the civilians nestled safely below, the scouts all all units, again integrated, established a series of nests along the rocks ringing our refuge. Any who wished to disturb our rest would face a gauntlet of arcfire. Again, everything was accomplished with celerity.
Falling Ice 4th, 3128
In the morning, three of the Forsaken scouts, along with a squad of Builder arcalancers escorted the civilian column down out of the mountains toward the Forsaken who would be expecting their arrival. The leader of the Forsaken had already dispatched runners to the tribe nearby. In time, the Builders would each be taken in by various Forsaken bands, lending their centuries of knowledge to the Forskaen spirit and defiance.
Meanwhile, our column, reduced now to six Forsaken scouts, twenty five arclancers, and Alpha Team began to make decent headway as we descended from the peaks toward where we hoped our column was wending it way through the mountains. Just a few hundred feet down and the heat grew unbearable.
Norcan Darr’s sheer extremes are oppressive.
Falling Ice 5th, 3128
The Maker’s instructions were to move southward as well as the terrain would allow. Moving slowly, I estimated that we could overtake them swiftly by cutting across their path. The mountainous region made maneuvering difficult, but inflicted the same logistic nightmare on anyone seeking to overtake us. And while we certainly moved slowly, a larger force pursuing us would have a less easy passage.
So, in the waning hours of the 5th, our forward scouts ranged looking for any signs of the Builder column. Even as we prepared to find a suitable encampment, arcfire lit up the night, striking our forward element, Killing, Softpaws, and Gravelheart. Despite its devastating accuracy, it appeared that only a handful, maybe no more than three shooters had taken position on a height ridge about 150 yards to our right…westward more or less.
Our own shooters took cover along a smaller ridge and returned fire while more arclancers scrabbled along the ridge to add fire support. Initially, we had success. It seemed that the enemy lancers were put to retreat, but moments later more intense fire lit our position, forcing me to send in more arclancers in response.
I could feel the situation slipping out of control quickly. Our allies were close, I could feel that, but where, I could not say. So, I sent the Explorer with a squad of scouts around behind our lines to continue moving south while I shifted our lines to cover.
Every moment brought more incoming fire, and then, the enemy started firing arcfire artillery. That is when I knew we had stumbled into more than a picket line. If I were correct, the bulk of the enemy army was camped just over the ridgeline. We were in for a fight.
As the Rangers moved into more secure positions, both sides started taking casualties. With my forces deployed, I moved to the front lines. Something about the haphazard nature of the battle convinced me that neither side had sought out the fight. I did not believe that they were even aware of our presence until their scouts spotted our moving through the rocks.
Be that as it may, they had our range now. Arcfire raked our lines as I dropped into hole beside the Sergeant. Before we could even strategize, a shot caught me in the neck. I may be able to recover from such normally fatal wounds, it still hurts. When I returned to consciousness, the Sergeant had already moved off to set up a small relief station for the wounded. Though, he left me the Ramshorn shield. I believe this is the first I have ever carried the storied artifact. I also noted a golem charging hard toward the enemy.
Again, I was rudely interrupted by an artillery barrage which decimated our forces and killed me again. When I returned from that short trip to the other side, the battle was well and truly joined. The golem of before was now an Iron Golem. The Explorer had a small artillery detachment devastating the enemy ridgeline, but more fire was incoming from behind their lines.
However, if we could fall back to the larger ridge to our rear, and eliminate the enemy artillery…
We are in for a fight, but I have the workings of a plan…
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel