Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Twenty First Day of Thunder Hawk, Year 3124 Under the Light
For hours I struggled with the Kal attack and our best course of defense. We were simply too outnumbered and had too few troops to hold the miles of wall surrounding the city. Maybe with another thousand troops I could withstand the assault…
Putting that out of my mind I focused on what factors I could control. First I divided my Rangers into elite strike teams and wrote orders for Lt. Hawksclaw to station them around the city at key strategic points. He and his team would hold the North Gate. I knew from experience and history that if an enemy were to breach our walls, that would be a likely target.
I met with Sir Halten, the Royal Sherrif, and Commander Schenkle. The boy has certainly matured. It was my sad duty to speak with him about the disappearance of his love, Sarah. He was…upset, but understood his duty. However, once our battle is over, I fear the young man might attempt something rash, such as a rescue.
Nevertheless, all forces were in place. Sir Halten’s men held the East and South gates along with High Towne. Lt. Hawksclaw negotiated a contract with Sophia Longarm to ensure their support in the coming fight. The indomitable woman’s unit would provide support on the main street entrance to High Towne.
My Rangers would hold the North and West gate, those most likely to suffer attack. Our priests and paladins would pair up and intersperse themselves evenly among the troops on the walls with our cavalry forces patrolling the Main Street and stage in the Stockyards.
Supporting our forces would be the city Militia combined with the Town Watch. What civilians remained would provide material support and act as light auxiliaries. All our forces would operate in three shifts, one on the wall at all times, one in reserve and the final resting and healing. During actual assaults, all troops would stand to.
750 Militia Men under command of Cmdr. Schenkle and Sgt. Vasser
250 Town Guard under command of Cmdr. Schenkle and Sgt. Vasser
50 Rangers under command Col. Wolfhaven and Lt. Hawksclaw
50 Wolfhaven Riders under command of Col. Wolfhaven
100 Priest/Paladins under command of High Priest Vallandrian
20 Riding Lizards under command of Col. Wolfhaven
200 Hammerfall Riders under command of Field Marshal Graf von Wrangel
3000 Civilian Auxiliary
Total Units: 4,570
Preparations completed I rode to speak with Lt. Hawksclaw and his team as they assembled at the gate. They were already assessing the situation and assigning positions. Fekla looked positively gleeful at the prospect of battle.
I took the opportunity to step aside with Ranger Ravenwood and express my sincere regrets for my callous demeanor and to express my pride in her growth as a Ranger. Ordering others into harm’s way is one of the most difficult choices for a commander. For so young a Ranger to have such bearing under fire is remarkable.
It seems as if all my Rangers have grown so much in my absence.
After leaving the North Gate, I made my rounds to the other units, though my efforts were quite unnecessary. Our men are well trained and the immediacy of danger has a stirring effect on the troops. Though, the stress of idleness with the constant state of high alert was clearly wearing upon nerves. Men shifted restlessly, obsessively cleaning and re-cleaning gear and weapons.
I am reminded of my years at the Helt Academy where one of my battle instructors said that a siege, for the defenders, was more a battle of the mind than of warfare. If a commander could master his fears and anxiety, then he could certainly weather a bombardment.
It was not until late in the eve on the 18th that I returned to my quarters and resumed my vigil over the map table, pouring over every report, scrutinizing every preparation and reconsidering every troop placement. The problem of the Kal attacks gnawed at me like a Ratzin.
Their march across Olara made no logical sense. Surely if forces of this size were in the open field then local lords would have raised the alarm. And, if they were teleporting, from where; and why the ruse to make us think their movements were overland.
Eventually, Elyanna fetched me and forced me to retire. We had a late dinner and I fell into a restless sleep, my mind worrying at the problem like a dog with a bone.
I awoke on the 19th, before dawn and resumed my apparently fruitless quest. So fatigued was I that I broke with tradition and poured myself a cup of that thick, black beverage that Gendarre and the rest of my “house guard” have seem to rely upon so much. Cup in hand, I returned to my study and, in my absent state of mind, placed the cup directly on the map table.
Realizing my error, I snatched the cup, but already an ugly brown ring had formed. I was just about to curse, when the fog of war was lifted. Immediately, I set the cup down on the area of the attacks, lining the bottom rim of the cup with the assaults on Sun’s Crossing, Kore, my barony and now Echer’Naught. Though an imperfect match, the substance was clear.
Setting the cup aside, I grabbed a quill and began drawing lines from each point of contact to the center of the stain…
Why could I not see it all before?!
Of course! The Kal armies were not even camped with Olaran borders. No wonder our forces had been caught so unawares. They never even passed near Kore in any great numbers. Most likely, they smuggled their way through Stahlheim, or better yet, moved through the Dominion and skirted the Elven wood.
Regardless, I now understood where the Kal base should be, at least the general area and how they were launching the attacks. It also made sense that they would stage their progress in such a way to make us waste valuable time looking for them to the west, when all the while they were snuggly camped south, just over the border in Eleven lands.
Though the plains north of the forest is claimed by the elves, they treat it as more of a buffer zone, a bulwark against human incursions. I, of anyone, should have realized this sooner. After all, I grew up on their borders.
Castigating myself further was fruitless. I contact Eris, waking her from a sound sleep and relayed a message through her to the Sun’s Crossing Rangers somewhere around Kore. I ordered them to make haste south to seek out and destroy that base. It would take time for the message to reach them, no doubt. They might not receive it until much later, but the orders were sent.
That task completed, I managed to relax sufficiently to eat a decent breakfast and make another set of rounds. Little had changed, though the enemy had been hard at work during the evening hours. Their lines very nearly encircled the city in an unbroken ring. Worse, the massive shapes of siege engines loomed darkly in the morning mist.
The rest of the day I spent meeting with commanders, making certain arrangements and generally brooding, though I did my best to keep any fear of mine from the men. Another ardent rule of my battle masters was that a commander should always display the utmost confidence. Men followed an assured leader.
It was, then, with the waning hours of the day when the first stones were lobbed over the walls. Flaming pots full of alchemical fire, enchanted stones and rocks the size of cattle crashed into the city, flattening houses, setting fire to entire blocks and scattering anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in the open.
As I stood on my balcony and watched the meteors smash into the walls, I began to truly wonder if this battle would spell doom for my city. And then, I shook of such evil thoughts, belted on my sword, strode into the courtyard, mounted thunder and, with a personal guard of Hammerfall Riders, and one empty saddle beside me, I rode confidently to the front lines.
Cavalry in a city is like…well…something on a bull. Another cherished axiom from my academy days.
For hours the shelling continued, and then, abruptly, it stopped.
I knew what came next, though I was unable to warn the men on the walls in time. Before most were even aware a swarm of Ratzin scaled the walls and very nearly swept the defenders before the alarms were sounded.
It was touch and go. I was first called to defend the Eastern Gate, before I Eris alerted me that Hawksclaw was in danger, though by the time I arrived, they had the situation well in hand.
I discovered later that the enemy had used teleported agents to actually open the gate from within. They even spearheaded their assault with a trio of Minotaur. However, the Kal were not expecting to meet Fekla. They got no further.
Every man and woman performed with exception skill. I could see the purple flashes from half way across town as Sergeant Que’kasaars unleashed eldritch fury upon the foes. And, from a brief report read, Ranger Ramshorn gain quite a reputation among the City Watch as he used his own body to shield them from harm.
The fighting was close all along the wall, but as quickly as it came, the enemy broke…and the bombardment resumed.
For an entire day, Echer’Naught was shelled. No one so much as moved throughout the 20th for fear of being struck down by random death from the sky. Few, if anyone, found any sleep as the crash of stone and roar of fire made any semblance of rest nigh impossible. I myself spent most of that day in the saddle dodging shrapnel.
I expected an attack that night, but was pleasantly surprised. The enemy was more than content to continue to bombard us into submission. The attack, as it happened, came with the dawn.
After two days of a near constant barrage, I am afraid we fell into something of a routine. Which is why, when the incoming fire suddenly silenced, there was momentary confusing and idleness on the wall. By the time the alarm was sounded, the enemy were already within a stone’s throw of our defenses.
The reports of the actions displayed on the morning of the 21st of Thunder Hawk will go down in legend. Not a man, living or dead, could hope to have served himself and his city better. I feel honored to have stood with the defenders of Echer’Naught and, should I survive the day, will count this action among the finest.
We threw them back with hideous losses to their forces. In actuality, I was spared most of the horror as my unit remained behind the walls until Lt. Hawksclaw summoned me again. This time, however, we arrived at the critical moment.
I gave the order to throw open the gates and with the way clear, I and my riders, along with Field Marshal von Wrangel himself, we swept the field of the enemy. By the time we returned to the safety of the walls, the Kal were already in retreat.
Immediately, the siege engines opened up and death fell anew.
With the immediate danger passed, I made another circuit of the city, and then reported in to all stations. The wells were secure, along with the Red Lamp triage, the Sacred Grove field hospital and the Church of Light infirmary. Despite the growing casualty list, we were weathering the particular storm better than I had imagined.
At this rate, we might just outlast the Kal army.
Returning to my study, I took a moment to confer with Olgor concerning the actions of various units.
I wish to place, here special commendation for many, but in particular:
Ranger Ironblood for brilliant tactical acumen.
Ranger Ravenwood for command excellence.
Ranger Ramshorm for selfless dedication.
Fekla for stalwart immutability.
Commander Schenkle for uncommon valor.
Sir Halten for unpromising bravery.
Here I would also note both Sergeant Que’kasaars and Lieutenant Hawksclaw have performed brilliantly in defense of the city.
I look forward to acknowledging such bravery when this current crisis has ended.
Your most obedient servant,
A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
…the alarm has sounded. the walls of been breached! By the Ascended…what is that THING?!
I have ordered Eris to send out the alert, Echer’Naughts outer wall has fallen.
Ascended have mercy on our souls…