Lieutenant Ammira kes Ziva
Farspeaker bonded out of Almahrad
On temporary Diplomatic assignment to Echer’Naught Alpha Team
Filed: Festival Moons 8th, 3127
Per request of the Emissary, I have been assigned to provide communication and translation for the Ranger’s Alpha Team out of Echer’Naught. Joining the team on Thunder Hawk 11th, along with Rangers Grimm and Sir Mansfried, I have witnessed the ensuring political disaster unfold. Beginning with RFC Blackstone’s offensive words to the then Clan Speaker, Rourk Rockbreaker, the team’s subsequent insult to the Speaker, then the failed coups, the Ranger position within the Rockbreaker Clanhome has steadily declined.
All culminated in the abduction of the petrified former Clan Chief, and the attack on the wedding between RFC Arimar Blackstone and Ruby Rockbreaker. We are still unclear whether the abduction and assault were related. The former achieved by Youlan Aradi of A’Morgal, the latter the work of Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri. Suffice to say, by the 33rd of Eternal Sun, we were prisoners within the Stahlheim Merchant Headquarters, deep in the Clanhome.
The lives of the team and the future of the Ranger’s relations with the Black Mountain dwarves was in grave jeopardy.
While confined, I was still able to receive interesting intelligence via the Farspeaker network.
Eternal Sun 33rd, 3127
Prince Morok ki Anzher, Emir of A’Davar led a successful breakout action against the Kal-A-Nar army besieging A’Davar.
Thunder Hawk 1, 3127
Within a day of the defeat of the Kal forces to the North, the vast Maelstrom army retreated south of A’Davar and vanished into the sands.
Festival Moons 1st, 3127
After Novri’s slaughter during Blackstone’s wedding, Alpha Team was confined to Stahlheim Merchant HQ while the Rockbreaker Clan roused to war. We could hear the horns and drums echoing through the Clanhome, though at the moment, we were unsure of where the dwarven army intended to march. Of note, RFC Blackstone and his new bride, Ruby, who was also confined with Alpha Team for her “protection”, made a point to consummate their marriage. I suspect they feared annulment.
Festival Moons 3rd, 3127
Early on the 3rd, Slate Rockbreaker surprised the Rangers by visiting our jail. In a private meeting with Corporal Sssahliissstah and RFC Blackstone, he informed Alpha Team that Aradi of A’Morgal had stolen Clan Chief’s body from the Hall of Ancestors. After he left, Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered the team to prepare to move. Over his vehement protests, the Corporal ordered Sir Mansfried to rob our host, the old Stahlheim dwarf. Grimm joined him in the larceny. Meanwhile, the Explorer plied our host with drugs rending he and his head man unconscious.
By mid-day we were ready to move. Even as the sleeping potion was wearing thin, the stone floor to our communal room opened to reveal a shaft drilled below. Slate Rockbreaker’s men had tunneled under our prison, and allied Stone Singers effected out escape. Most of us climbed down into the mines below the city. Sir Mansfried elected to hurl himself down the dark shaft, injuring himself. Our mounts, and I used the term loosely, waited us in the tunnel. It was large enough for RFC Ranna to crawl on hands and knees, but not much larger.
The mines led out into a larger cave system. Here, the dwarves had carved “deep roads” through the mountains using existing caverns where possible. We tied our mounts in a single line, the bigger horses up front, trailing down to my shaggy mountain pony. Two dwarves road up front with torches, and two trailed behind.
Other than the small pools of light from the flickering torches, we rode in nigh complete darkness. At times, it felt as if yawning canyons opened up beside us, and others, we squeezed through narrow clefts in the rocks. The mounts simply put heads down and followed the leader through it all.
Festival Moons 4th, 3127
Late in the morning on the 4th, Alpha Team arrives northeast of A’Morgal, hidden in a large dwarven cave. Here, our four guides departed, vowing to try and lead any pursuit away. Shortly after they departed, I was contacted by a Farspeaker from A’Davar. Apparently, a second Echer’Naught Ranger Team, Delta, was operating in the area. They had been scouting A’Morgal for signs of the Maelstrom army on retreat from A’Davar. As they had been operating in the desert for almost a year, Ranger Command ordered Alpha and Delta Teams to coordinate efforts in finding and retrieving the body of the Clan Chief. We were to meet Delta Team commander and discuss plans. From there, the teams would trade personnel for maximum efficiency.
Delta Team was already camped somewhere northwest of the city. Corporal Sssahliissstah and I met with Delta Team commander, Sergeant Nichts late on the 4th. She is a short, thick Olaran woman with a bad temper. Though, I could not tell her gender until she spoke, and even then, the gravely, low tone sounded more Childerlike than human. Under protest, she followed orders and we agreed to exchange our three archers, RFC Steelwing, RFC Ranna, and Ranger Explorer, for their best scout and native speaker, Ach’Te and RFC Neithe respectively.
Hiking back, we collected our archers, Steelwing taking a moment to tenderly embrace his lovers. And then, we returned to the meet, leaving RFC Ingrid in command of Alpha Team. When we arrived, we found Sergeant Nichts now accompanied by a seven and a half foot lion, and a small, petite Aradi girl. The exchange was made, and we returned to our camp.
Upon returning, our rear scouts suggested we move out before dwarven pursuit caught up. Corporal Sssahliissstah sent RFC Ingrid out with Blackstone and Ach’Te to find a camp. Soon, Ach’Te returned and led us to a well protected spot with shade and moving water. The only incidents along the route involved Sir Mansfried hurling himself out of his saddle and down the moutain, and Tiny, the goat, frolicking in the hills.
In our new site, the Rangers set to fortifying while Ach’Te, Ingrid, Blackstone, Sir Mansried, and Kenzie took turns scouting. We had until the evening of the 7th, so, we made plans for Niethe and I to infiltrate the city and start scouring for the ClanChief while the rest of the team put together a plan for extraction.
In the middle of the night, Ach’Te woke the Corporal to show her what looked like a massive festival in the city, but Neithe confirmed that no such festival should be happening. It puzzled us for a while, but it seemed that at night, the streets were mobbed by large numbers that seemed to disperse shortly before dawn.
Festival Moons 5th, 3127
In the morning, Niethe and I headed down to the eastern main gate leading from the Black Mountains. The guards gave us some issues, but flashing my Farspeaker papers gained automatic entry. While, technically using my Farspeaker status to gain entry to the city might have pushed my authority, I was also not lying. Legally, I felt covered.
Once within we drank, caroused, and worked our way through the city. After hours of tavern crawling and seducing a battalion of Maelstrom and Aradi, we were no closer to discovering the dwarve’s Chief. Though, we DID confirm that the missing Maelstrom army was camped out in A’Morgal. More interesting, the rank and file were expecting to leave the city within the month…via magical means?
So, Prince Wakheem amin Lurzhem sheltered the Maelstrom army that attacked A’Davar, and the mystery of the sudden arrival of their forces last year was explained. But, then, how were the Prince and his Maelstrom allies completely unaware of the massive dwarven horde marching to attack? Something seemed off.
Though, we solved the mystery of the nightly parties. Bored Maelstrom mercenaries were quite enjoying their relief from months of siege duty.
All of this was dutifully reported to Corporal Sssahliissstah.
Festival Moons 6th, 3127
We remained in the city continuing our information gathering. Meanwhile, Alpha Team was tasked with locating a suitable entry point, acquiring a wagon, and preparing to infiltrate the city. Again, after hours of alcohol fueled interrogation we found no evidence that anyone in the city was even aware of the recent raid on the Rockbreaker dwarves. However, using his connection to Dranak, Blackstone confirmed that the body WAS in the city.
The more we spoke, the more apparent another party became. But who gained by setting the dwarves against the Prince of A’Morgal? We contacted Builder with Delta Team to ask what extra-Realm factions were known to operate in the desert. He only knew of Tempest and Xaos.
Still, we knew the Chief was in the city, we had gained accurate maps while scouting, and Delta Team confirmed that they would be in position by the 13th hour on the 7th. Everything was in place.
Festival Moons 7th, 3127
Around dusk, Alpha Team began moving into position. Ruby managed the horseline, while the rest of the team crept through the mining camps east of the city. I remained in contact with Corporal Sssahliissstah the entire time. Just before midnight, I left the inn with Niethe and headed to the seldom used mining gate Alpha Team had chosen for the mission. We arrived just at midnight and waited for the signal. At the same time, I killed the guard on the corner, while Niethe, fired on the trio of guards dicing just inside the gate.
Ach’Te scaled the wall from the outside, with Kenzie clinging to his back. He grabbed on archer and and simply leaped off the wall, slamming the man into the ground, stunning him. Kenzie stabbed the other archer, which was quickly finished by a needle from Grimm.
I seized the mind of the biggest gate guard, forcing him to open the gates, letting Sir Mansfried through, who cleaved another guard. My puppet finished the archer under Ach’Te and with that, the gate was ours. No one even had time to shout. All around us miners and slaves cowered in their dirty bedrolls, keeping heads down and mouths closed. Neithe warned them what would happen if they should betray us. Somehow I doubted they would willingly help either Prince Morok ki Anzher’s men or the Maelstrom.
Mansfried and Ach’Te hid the bodies, re-securing the gate. Corporal Sssahliissstah sent Grimm with RFC Neithe to cause some magical distractions nearby to draw off any Acolytes nearby from pinpointing Blackstone too quickly. Ingrid and Blackstone took the lead with me as we made our way to the center of the city. Corporal Sssahliissstah followed along with the mine cart, along with the rest of the team as support.
Shortly before the 13th hour, we stood near the city center, Grimm was off burning down a bar. Blackstone stretched out and felt the Chief’s body, along with a massive swell of death and Darkness from the same location. A’Morgal’s new Sun Temple to Raz-Dash.
We made our way around the busier sections of the city. By the 13th hour, we arrived at the newly constructed Sun Temple.
The temple is surrounded by a tall, white wall. The entrance is flanked by gold topped black obelisks, and weathered statues of Raz-Dash. Massive stone doors emblazoned with ancient sun symbols stand closed. Along every wall, at every corner, and set in huge braziers leader up to the temple are fires lighting the walls till they glow…like the sun.
From within we heard chanting in an alien language. Outside, four Temple guards stood armed with Xaos blades. By now, eve I could feel a ritual of both Flame and Darkness growing within. Blackstone felt the strong pull of Dranak from within. He demanded we break up the ritual and rescue the Clan Chief. In the distance, we could hear alarms bells ringing. Our gate had been discovered, and Grimm’s work had drawn attention.
With patrols approaching and time running out, going through the front door seemed the only solution. Before we could even move, a cloaked figure dropped from one of the obelisks and cut down two of the guards. Arrows downed the remaining pair. I only caught a glimpse as the figure disappeared back into the shadows, but I noted the elongated features of a werewolf. I heard Corporal Sssahliissstah whisper, “Aronzo.” Troubling.
With the guards down, we sprinted across the courtyard, and up the steps to the massive doors. Stacking up, Blackstone put his back into the stone, but it swung open soundlessly and easily, throwing the dwarf off balance. Ach’Te stormed through, prepared to cut his way to the chief, Corporal Sssahliissstah on his heals. The rest of us piled in, only to slam into them as Ach’Te suddenly threw wide his arms and blocked our way.
Confused, we all squinted as he pantomimed putting his finger to his lips, then pointed off to his right. Sssahliissstah looked, then balked. I couldn’t see, but they whispered Clan Chief, and then crept off out of our view. Blackstone and Ingrid stepped into the doorway, the rest of us milling confusedly on the steps. I felt Grimm and Neithe arrive across the square. Below on the street, Ruby held the horse’s reigns and waited anxiously by the cart.
I was about to reach out to Corporal Sssahliissstah when I felt a sudden spike of power. Every source of light within a hundred yards flashed as bright a the sun, blinding Blackstone, Ach’Te, and nearly me. That’s when the guards within the ritual site roused and started running toward us.
Sssahliissstah and Ach’Te appeared lugging the statue of a dwarf in state. They staggered down the steps toward the cart and Blackstone, slammed the stone doors, then Stonesang a bar across the door. From every side, onlookers filed in. Some were guards, some Maelstrom, some revelers, and some curious. I’m not sure what anyone thought of the scene. Our team robbing the Sun Temple of a dwarf stature. The guards banging and shouting from within. Grimm flashing the crowd. Alarms bells ringing throughout the city, with a block a few streets away ablaze.
The chaos worked to our advantage. Ach’Te, in his bloodsteel lion helm, scared off or cheered on some guards. Everyone just seemed confused. Alpha Team more than the rest.
But, we go the body in the wagon, and everyone started making their way south west toward our extraction team. From behind us, Xaos snipers opened up with their devastating Reaper rifles. Everyone hit nearly fell. We started running, a small crowd of drunk Maelstrom, city guards, and citizens giving chase. I’m not really sure if they knew why they were chasing. Maybe it just seemed like the thing to do?
Halfway through the city, with our pursuers close, arrows and arcfire lanced down the street picking off snipers and the fastest of the chasing guards. Ranna, Steelwing, and the Explorer covered us as we sprinted through the night streets of A’Morgal.
We all managed to reach their posturn gate. They kept firing as they fell back. Steelwing the last. And then, we were out of the city, running. One of the pursuers thought it would be wise to turn the gate’s own ballista on us. He, most of the pursuers, and the gate erupted into an arcfireball as the Explorer’s trapped engine when off. After that, pursuit dwindled, our archers easily picking off the few who escaped the city before the explosion.
Once clear, we thanked and dismissed Ach’Te and Neithe to rejoin their team. Supplies and mounts waited at their southern camp, wherever that was. Moreover, to our north, the entire Maelstrom army seemed to boil out of the city, but NOT chasing us. They turned north and rode hard toward A’Davar.
A short distance south of the city, we stopped, mounted, secured the body of the Chief and prepared for the long ride toward Quadir. I noted at this point that the Chief’s body was badly cracked. Someone had dropped him snapping off part of his armor’s skirt, and the haft of his hammer. Still, he seemed no worse for wear. Corporal Sssahliissstah told us that he was NOT part of the ritual. They had found his body tossed in the corner of the Temple’s courtyard like garbage.
Blackstone confirmed that it WAS Xaos in the Temple and that they had sacrificed someone, using their essence to power the ritual which caused the sunflare. He did not know why, or what the ritual achieved, save for the light display. Whatever the case, we had completed the retrieval and now we needed to find a secure location before A’Morgal organized themselves and hunted us down.
Our orders were to make best speed to Quadir. As for Delta Team, their fates rested on Prince Romar’s Desert Riders reaching them before the Maelstrom overtook them.
Farspearker Ammira kes Ziva