Filed: Forest Dance 6th, 3127
MARRIED AND TO BE A FATHER! I have not the words. Only the Essania remains and then our lives will be complete.
Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127
After Ingrid’s announcement, I could not find sleep I just lay between Kenzie and Ingrid listening to them sleep. Life is strange. I never saw myself setting down, yet here we are.
Eventually, the Rangers stirred. Corporal Ssahliissstah seemed highly motivated to return to Echer’Naught as quickly as possible. She split the team to speed preparations.
I was dispatched with Blackstone to procure our gear from the Royal Vizier. Easy enough. Since the Rangers managed to negotiate a truce, or alliance, the Prince’s court had been most kind to us. The Vizier met us in his royal office… It was opulent as I have come expect.
To my genuine surprise, he approved the return of our weapons without any issue. Though, we would have to pick them up as we left the city. Writ in hand, we returned to our quarters to wait for the other teams.
Ingrid and Kenzie were sent to rent or buy mounts. Which may or may have not been the best idea. It took them all morning, and most of the afternoon. While Kenzie went to play with the stable’s horses, Ingrid conducted interviews of all the available camels. Yes, we had to buy camels.
Egon and Gill went for supplies. Again, letting Gill anywhere near merchants is a bad idea. His obsession with Alchemical components is going to get him, and us killed. Against orders, he bought enough alcohol to make a decent bomb. We only found out later when he exploded and nearly burned the team alive.
Still, by evening, the team was returned, supplies secured, and it was time to rest until the morrow. While we prepared our last dinner in Quadir, Slate Rockbreaker visited his sister, Ruby Blackstone, and Blackstone, the brother in law. He wanted to wish his family a safe trip east, and thank the Rangers for their help.
The Stahlhiem smith, Glamdrang, presented Blackstone with Stahlheim robes and suggested he retire from Diplomacy…as he is a TERRIBLE diplomat and nearly started a war with the dwarves.
Dancing Clouds 20th, 3127
Before dawn, we gathered at one of the main South Gates, collected our weapons, and bid farewell to Quadir. Though our stay was pleasant enough, I am happy to be well rid of the place. With Ingrid now pregnant, it is more important than ever that we return to the East.
So, with me covering Kenzie on point, we made our way slowly along the Midril Hall road.
Dancing Clouds 22nd, 3127
We crossed into the dwarven lowlands two days later. Ranna and two others begin to set up camp while I circled above. While they worked, I noted torches moving quickly through the scrublands south toward the team. I dropped down to warn the Corporal. The team was already arming up. They had heard wolves howling nearby.
While the rest of the team discussed whether the torch bearers were chasing the wolves, or vice versa, and arguing over who should do what. The Explorer ignored the confusion, and settled into his own sniper’s nest. Muriel began to herd the animals away from the approaching torches.
Turns out, the torches WERE the wolves. Or, more aptly, Hellhounds. A dozen. And these were not your run-of-the-mill Abyssal pets, these were improved. Someone had cast Teleport on the beasts.
They surrounded us before the Corporal finished arguing with the team. I had no time get airborne before the smoldering demon dogs opened their smoking maws and belched orange flame. Six hellhounds bathed the team in fire.
My wings went up like tinder…again. The foul stench of burning flesh, hair, and feathers filled the air. Around me, Alpha Team cowered behind shields, and tried to avoid the flames as best they could.
Before we could recover, six more hounds leaped from the shadows and tore into the teammebers on the flanks. From behind him, Grimm shrieked like a small child and tore off, dropping weapons and gear.
I threw myself on the ground, thrashing and rolling, trying to put out the flames. Around me, the hounds ripped and tore into the team. Kenzie and Ingrid took hits. Ruby fell to the ground screaming.
From nearby, a Clay Golem clawed its way out of the ground and started pounding the dogs. The Explorer laid down a steady fire, even as the demon dogs chomped down on him. RFC Ranna caught fire, Blackstone dragged her beneath the earth, putting out the flames.
It was chaos. Snarling and flames. Green flashes and slashing steel. Then, Grimm’s body landed nearby and a MASSIVE Hellhound stalked out of the wood. It opened its jaws to breath fire and was exploded by a bolt from Corporal Ssahliissstah. I sometimes forget she is an Adept, honestly.
I finally managed to smother the flames and crawled to my feet, smoking, dirty, and pissed. A HUGE shadow passed over me as an Iron Golem rose into the darkening sky and began to stomp the dogs into ash.
Their Pack Leader dead, and two golems crushing through their ranks, the demon dogs began to fall. Ranna claimed at least two. The Builder cut through them with arcfire. Grimm regained his feet, but everyone around him burned from exploded components. Corporal Ssahliissstah looked PISSED. If he survived, I expect he will regret his choice of alchemy.
One by one, the Hellhounds fell, till the last snapped at the Explorer. I managed to stagger over, and slice its head off, ending the battle. Corporal Ssahliissstah ordered everyone to down Healing Potions, bind wounds and prepare to move.
Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri should not be far behind his hounds. In our state, we would not survive the encounter. So, we ran. For our lives.
Dancing Clouds 26th, 3127
Taking little rest, and eating in the saddle, we managed to reach Midril Hall by mid afternoon. After a quick discussion, we decided to reach out to the local Druids, seeing as Blackstone, Kenzie, and Ingrid are all Druids.
The Stone Circle invited us in, all but RFC Ranna who they called and abomination. Apparently she has “corrupted blood” whatever that means. Gill agreed to stay with Ranna in a nearby inn, while the rest of us enjoyed our stay within the cavern sanctuary of the druids.
Our wounds were tended, we were fed and offered drink. There was even inner pool for bathing. Or, wade pool for the Dregordian.
While with the healers, Blackstone wasted time telling the Druids Ranna’s tragic tale of love, loss, and corruption. They were predictably unimpressed.
I used my time more wisely. During our trip, both through in the Rockbreaker Clanhome and while in Quadir, I worked hard to acquire rings, dresses, and gifts for Ingrid and Kenzie. My plan, in short, was to propose to my loves upon our return to Echer’Naught and wed during the ceremony of Essania…
…but we are never making it home.
Novri dogs our every step. And, there is also Aronzo’s werewolves out there somewhere. Worse, Kal, Xaos, and desert riders…
Outside of allied strongholds, we suffer a near fatal attack every couple of days. Worse, in the face of clear and impending destruction, Alpha Team continues to argue and act more as a mob than a military force. Outside of vague assignments (scouts, healers, etc…) we have little organization and less of a plan.
Worse, we find out that Corporal Ssahliissstah changed the return route. I get it, Blackstone and The Explorer are like stones. And we may not find a barrel to save them. But, crossing the mountains will add days, maybe weeks to our trip and leave us along and isolated.
Like I said…we are never making it home.
So, I proposed. Rushed and breathless. And, they both said yes. Yes, and they agreed to do so immediately. I had dressed already made. It was presumptuous, but since I had no idea when we would reach a Senior Druid to conduct the Essania ritual, and I planned on marriage at the time, it seemed a sensible precaution.
The rings were dwarven make, of Olaran fashion. Like I said, I had everything we needed. So, while they prepared themselves, I arranged everything.
It was rushed. And chaotic. Ranna was not allowed to attend on account of being an abomination. Grimm stayed away, which Ingrid seemed particularly pleased about. Probably a story there.
On the eve of the 26th, I gathered in a subterranean temple, surrounded by heavily armed Rangers, a dwarven Druid, without an elf in sight to marry the women of my dreams. It was perfect.
After a VERY short service, food and ale was provided. The dwarves were kind enough to provide private accommodations for our first night as a marriage trio. I’m not sure if being married makes it better, but it was breathtaking.
After our consummation, I spoke privately with Kenzie. I know she feels displaced, her home far way. My home is gone, along with my family. I promised her that, no matter what happened, she would have a home with Ingrid and me. We would be her family. I intend on keeping that promise.
Dancing Clouds 27th, 3127
Starting in the morning, we were ordered to rest and heal. It took weeks. But, for us, we thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon.
Forest Dance 6th, 3127
After weeks of rest and…relaxation, the team began to assemble. Ranna arranged for a dwarven guide to lead us through the mountains. His name is Stonefoot and he is apparently an old friend of Alpha Team, having guided them from Almaharad to Paradise over a year prior.
Sadly, Ranna remains the only member of the team he formerly knew. Still, our chances of survival have gone up marginally. What horrors await us? Time will tell.