Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Wilhelm Cragheart report

I’ve been in the city for some time now and any attempts to understand more of what happened to Wolfhaven and his team has come to dead end after dead end. These so called factions in the city ranged from those who believe Wolfhaven to be the second coming of Ceynara to the return of the true protector of the city. I believe the man to be a great warrior and an even greater leader of men, and I find it hard to believe the actions he took were in any way meant to hurt this city or the Rangers.

My efforts to learn more about Wolfhaven seemed to be stagnant until tonight. I had the honor to meet Sargent Mansfried who travelled with the colonel through Norcan’Dar. He noticed my pendant of one of the various figurines of Wolfhaven that were sold in the city, to which I am proud to say I own all the variants, and warned me to not show it so easily or be associated with the Wolfhaven loyalists. I did not have the heart to tell him that I had long been associated with the group for some time now. Luckily I seem to have found kinsmanship with an imposing Ogre by the name of Atlas, he is most definitely the definition of his people’s might but I have seen an undeniable intelligence that sadly most seem to not see past his appearance.

A few nights prior I found myself in a position in which a gentleman from the non Wolfhaven faction found my remarks and stance unacceptable. he drew his weapons and I could tell he wanted my blood, by the grace of the Ascended Atlas came to my rescue and the man found himself thrown through a wall. he was most definitely hurt but had no life threatening injuries. the whole ordeal made me grateful to Atlas but it scares me that people in this city are looking for the blood of those who dont hold their opinions of Wolfhaven. I know he seems as eager as myself to meet with the colonel but I doubt we will be meeting the Great Wolf anytime soon, but if we do I hope for our and the city’s sake it is with him alive.

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Campaign Report 147
A City Divided

Malcolm Report

Harvest Moons 28th, 3128

Sad days indeed. Alexander Wolfhaven, once a paragon of honor, a bastion of the Southern Kingdoms has been led away in chains. Before rumor of his arrest could spark revolt, he was secreted away to Kythros. As I write this, he is likely riding hard over hill and dale, his erstwhile captors about him. All know that, had he not allowed it to be so, the Rangers would have been unable to take him. Even without his formidable Wolf Guard, his Alpha Team, or his many allies within the city, he alone is more than a match for most in Echer’Naught save for perhaps Murvoth, leader of the Silver Paladins, or Ash, head of the Academy of Yomenie Curu. Even then, I would not bet against the former Lord Mayor.

But, such speculation is mute. Wolfhaven has fallen, and in his place, we have the guidance of Lady Mayor Gwendolyn O’Meyer, and the protection of Colonel Anderson. So here we are.

Raining Leaves, 20th, 3128

Word reaches the Wolfhaven Barony that Sergeant Minor Aradove Longtail, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, has sent her three kits, Alexander, Emma, and Little Paw Rah-sahn, to live with former Alpha Team commander, Captain Sir Gunther Volstagg and his wife, Sergeant Lady Nexus Zathlan Volstagg in their household in the city of Almahrad. It should also be noted that the wife of Dom Diego, former Ranger Doma Dakota Afliem and her children ALSO live in the household, along with the progeny of various former members of Alpha Team.

At last count, the Volstagg House in Almahard hosts:

  • Alexander (son), Emma (daughter), and Little Paw Rah-sahn (son), kits of Longtail
  • Gunther Stagg, son of Volstagg
  • Serys Roman Volkstagg (boy) and Wynter Night Volkstagg (girl), twins of Volstagg and his wife
  • Elissea * Nazir (girl), daughter of Corporal Leaora Nazir
  • Lutz Therrell Völkstagg (boy), son of Volstag and wife
  • Grenna (girl), daughter of Ranna

Harvest Moons 17th, 3128

We received word that former Ranger, Gilbur Gill Grimm and former Ranger Cairn Gravelheart were accepted into Ash’s Academy of Yomenie Curu. Grimm has been accepted as an adjunct professor of Alchemy. What Gravelheart’s position might be, we know not, nor is it of great concern to the Rangers.

After receiving Baron Wolfhaven’s sword at the north gate, just after his arrest, Sergeant Sir Egon Mansfried rode, followed by Colonel Anderson and his retinue, to the Wolfhaven Manor to return to the Sword to his family there. Sergeant at Arms in command of the Echer’Naught unit of the house’s Wolf Guard, Sergeant Gendarre accepted the sword on behalf of his Lord. Though, it should be noted that, due to the high exposure to Flame during his long trek through Norcan Darr, Sir Mansfried suffered mightily when standing on the sacred ground of the Manor. Shayline’s Sanctification remains as potent as it was when first established.

Once his sacred duty to House Wolfhaven was completed, Sergeant Mansfried surrendered himself to interrogation by the Rangers. As the soul active remaining member of Alpha Team, his testimony was vital to understanding the last year of Alpha Team’s operation, and the factors that led to Wolfhaven’s sudden, and saddening, fall from grace.

Colonel Anderson and his staff escorted Sergeant Mansfried to the Ranger HQ, where they were joined by Sergeant Minor Longtail who had recently arrived, hearing that Woflhaven had returned. The Colonel, along with Longtail, a pair of Adepts, a Priest of Light, and two guards entered a small meeting room in the HQ and proceeded to debrief Sergeant Mansfried. I was otherwise occupied, but the secondary Adept is a member of my staff and dutifully recorded the events. What was reported is troubling, to say the least.

The report was long, but we learned that Colonel Wolfhaven made Alpha Team leave their cloaks at the Wolfhaven Barony before departing with the Maker device he stole from Echer’Naught. Over a series of misadventures, they arrived at the Legion Keep where they wired the device into their Grande Arcgate. From there, he required his Alpha Team to write their Last Wills and Testaments, before firing the team through the Veil into Norcan Darr. What was only suspected has been confirmed. Wolfhaven attempted to make an alliance with one of the Builder Clans in Norcan Darr.

However, what no one, apparently not even Wolfahven himself, suspected was that enemy forces were aware of the secret meeting and were waiting to attack. They used saboteurs to shut down the Citadel’s defenses. After this, they were easily able to overwhelm Wolfhaven’s potential allies. Only with the sacrifice of Alpha Team’s dregordian commander, Sergeant Ssahliissstah, were Wolfhaven’s Rangers and their new Builder allies able to escape.

Thus began a harrowing march across the Hard Lands. During which, Colonel Wolfhaven was “killed” on numerous occasions. At once point, Wolfhaven had his head removed by a pair of enemy bounty hunters. When the then Alpha Team commander, Sergeant Minor Blackstone, was able to retrieve the head, they were able to re-attach the head and Colonel Wolfaven apparently returned to life. Which, should not be possible, though, in theory, the lack of the covenants in Norcan Darr might mean that Wolfhaven’s “abilities” would allow such a feat. Or, his team might have been hallucinating the entire episode. Stress does have that effect.

That also says nothing about the pair of bounty hunters capable of taking down Wolfhaven and much of his team. Or that they are purported to have been equipped with weapons and armor from outside Shaintar. Or, that they seemed more aware of Wolfhaven’s movements than even his own team.

In fact, throughout the debrief, it became apparent that the enemy was perfectly aware of Wolfhaven’s plans until the Colonel elected to withhold information from even his own team. Only then was he able to outmaneuver his foes. This suggests that the enemy has spies in Shaintar, the Rangers, and Alpha Team. Such fear might lead a man to act alone, even so far as to steal a powerful device if he truly believed his own command was compromised.

And then, there was the report of an entire Tempest Legion operating in Norcan Darr. That fact alone should give all pause. Every region of the county seems invaded by Tempest, and they are growing, not the contrary.

Finally, there was the small matter of the warrior being that, according to Sergeant Mansfried, nearly killed Colonel Wolfhaven out of hand. If such tales are true, then we face an even more powerful enemy.

Nothing the Sergeant revealed was good news. Sadly, it hardly painted Colonel Wolfhaven in a good light. He lied to his team. He stole the device. He used the device to reach Builders, getting members of his team killed. And he failed in his primary mission, though at least a few of the Builders managed to return with him. But, considering that he was betrayed at every turn, it hardly painted the Rangers, the Legion, or his own team in better light.

Who can one trust?

Harvest Moons 18th, 3128

Accepted into the Academy, Professor Grimm began his classes the following day, the 18th. In addition to his considerable Alchemical knowledge, Grimm is the world’s expert on the magical components found in Norcan Darr. Though, his exposure to Flame presents an issue that all those who survived the prolonged mission share.

By dawn on the 18th, rumors of Wolfhaven’s arrival and arrest had spread. The Olarans sent missives of protest that they were denied justice. Some even suggested that by abjuring the realm, Baron Wolfhaven had admitted guilt and forfeited his title and lands. Worse, the Rangers seemed uninterested in countering the narrative, preferring to let the Olarans believe what they wanted about Colonel Wolfhaven.

In due course, RFC Gracelyn Moldova Amaroth went in search of Grimm and Gravelheart at the college. So too, RFCs Silverwing, McKenzie Shan, and Ingrid Snow, the infant in tow, also ventured to the college. They all met, perfectly innocently. However, news of the former and current members meeting rippled like a fire through the city. Many expected an armed uprising to break out at any moment.

To make matters worse, Silverwing put out the call for other Alpha Team members, and by lunchtime, they had all assembled for a private meeting in the back room of the Wayfarer’s Rest. There was nothing illegal about the meeting, but under the circumstances, given the tense political situation, commanders in HQ took note.

Attending the meeting were:

  • Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, and commander of Echer’Naught’s Rangers
  • Sergeant Minor Aradove Longtail, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, and Senior NCO to former Lord Mayor Wolfhaven
  • Sergeant Sir Egon Mansfried, only active member of Alpha Team, and sole returning member for the Hard Lands War.
  • RFC Gracelyn Moldova, Sworn of House Wolfhaven
  • Former Corporal Gilbur Gill Grimm, survivor of the Hard Lands War
  • Former RFC Cairn Gravelheart, survivor of the Hard Lands War
  • RFC Silverwing
  • RFC McKenzie Shan
  • RFC Ingrid Snow

Whether this intrepid group intended to conspire, there was little hope of their private meeting being viewed as little more than pre-coup coordination.

After the meeting, Sir Mansfried left to immediately speak with Sir Halten, who apparently now resides in former Alpha member, Captain Sir Gunther Volstagg’s home. This small fact was a shock, and concern to the commanders at HQ. Such collusion to have gone unnoticed?!

It is well documented that Sir Eric Halten serves at the behest of Lord RabenClau, now that he is one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the city. The friendship between Sir Volstagg and Sir Halten was known, but the fact they the former rented his home to the latter was a comingling of alarming political ramifications.

Though, in truth, it took Sir Mansfried the better part of three hours to walk from Sir Halten’s Manor in High Towne to his rented rooms in middle town as he was being led by Sir Halten’s “man” Ostermark. What was said, we know not. But, the assumption being that Sir Halten would support Sir Mansfried in exchange for the latter’s loyalty. And, as things bore out, that analysis proved correct. Alpha Team was officially under Olaran, or at least Halten control. We believe that Sir Halten revealed to Sir Mansfried Lady Mayor O’Meyers intention to permanently disband Alpha Team.

For context, the Rangers had been engaged in negotiations with Sir Halten in regard to his joint command over Alpha Team. Few remember how such an arrangement even occurred, but a reading of the records reveals that the entire idea of the joint operation was created by Sir Halten himself when Captain Celebor was in temporary command bac in late 3125 (Report 77). All around the disastrous betrayal of Ironblood, Zulcrum, and Afliem…and the death of Kura’Kai. After the incident at the warehouse, Captain Volstagg felt personally betrayed, and that the Rangers were in disarray. Captain Celebor was unable to withstand the political pressure brought to bear by Sir Halten, allied with Sir Volstagg. It was a stunning political maneuver by Sir Halten, and a troubling betrayal by Sir Volstagg. Though, it should be noted that even as this report is written, Sir Volstagg is hosting Dakota Afliem in his own house, and seems to be allied with her husband, Dom Diego who tried to kill him at his own wedding and did slay Sergeant Minor Longtail’s husband. Perhaps that is why she is willing to side with Colonel Anderson over her former allies?

At the same time, guards reported that RFC Gracelyn Moldova Amaroth immediately rode out of town heading north in the direction of the Wolfahven Barony. Coupled with the private meeting AND Sir Mansfried’s meeting with Sir Halten, a powerful political alliance between the Wolfhaven Loyalist faction and Sir Halten’s own seemed in the offing. Letters were immediately dispatched to Kythros.

Fortunately, Sergeant Minor Longtail left the meeting to report to Colonel Anderson, keeping him abreast of developments. Though hated by Sir Halten, and hardly trusted by many in command due to her closeness with Wolfhaven, it seems the former Wolfhaven ally may prove to be invaluable in the case against him, and in preventing a Wolfhaven loyalist coup.

Later that day, Rangers within the Local Command reported that Major Hawksclaw met with members of Wolfhaven’s personal Wolf Guard. Again, the exact details of that meeting were not heard, but farily soon after, members of the Wolfhaven Free Riders loyal to Wolfhaven began setting up camps along all four major roads leading into the city. It should ALSO be noted that Major Hawksclaw created the Wolfhaven Free Rider Company and that he remains a loyal Sworn to Wolfhaven. What he commanded the Free Riders to achieve by picketing all roads is not know. However, many within Regional Command count this as the first military action of the impending coup.

Of note, scouts along the route report that various riders have been spotted shadowing the detail charged with escorting Wolfhaven to Kythros. It is believed that members of his own Wolf Guard/Wolfhaven Free Riders are among the group. Also, we know that Gray Lanterns were dispatched to prevent any action by enemy forces, or Rangers loyal to the Colonel.

The day ended without violence, but…the political implications of all these maneuvers leave me troubled.

Harvest Moons 20th, 3128

Reports indicate that RFC Gracelyn Moldova Amaroth arrived at the Wolfahven Barony. We know from scouts that the entire estate is fortified and prepared for war. Sir Regillus Anaxelum has called the Wolfhaven Banners to defend the estate. Hundreds of troops dig in camps around the walls, with more inside setting heavy weapons along the ramparts. Any movement against the Barony will be met with storm and fire. Though, we have heard that Houses Barrough, Bolen, Boer, Gaulouen, Erlgen, and members of House Olar have raised banners against House Wolfhaven. In addition to Wolfhaven’s betrayal by taking the device, these Houses also have sleights against their honor from Sir Volstagg and Sir Halten’s evading justice during a wedding in the summer of 3126 (Report 87). Six houses arrayed against one. Even for House Wolfhaven, this may be too much. Duchess Harken has, of yet, not announced her position to either defend or abandon the house of her vassal.

Of note, Commander Kelles, Olaran general during the battle with Tempest in which we lost Sergeant Que’kasaars, and the Eckhart sigil have been seen among the banners of Wolfhaven’s camp…

We also learn, from the Baroness herself, that the assassins who very nearly slew Wolfhaven on the one night he stopped in his Barony used Xaos magic to bypass their security and to wield the Butcher’s blade, Soul Reaver. Reports from Kythros confirm that the vault containing the infernal blade had not been opened in many years. They were completely unaware that it was missing. However, after so long, most of the guards that would have been there during the last opening are long since gone, or dead. We have been assured an investigation has been launched to determine how such a powerful weapon could be stolen from the heart of the Ranger keep.

Additionally, the actual assassins did not hail from the Xaos realm or the desert. By all appearances, they are Wildlanders. Perhaps even Rangers from their kit and how they arranged their gear. I am certain Sir Regillus is taking this news as expected. If it were not for the imminent attack on his Barony, he might have already marched on the city. Though we do not wish bloodshed among our Olaran allies, if the threat of attack prevents Baron Wolfhaven’s forces from marching on Echer’Naught, I do not believe many in Regional Command would object.

After the meeting, we do know that Wolf Guard from the Echer’Naught manor left in the care of RFC Amaroth’s child, Audren Amaroth, heading north, presumably toward the relative safety of the Wolfhaven Barony.

Harvest Moons 21st 3128

In the morning, Sergeant Sir Mansfried is summoned to Lady Mayor Gwendylon O’Meyer’s office for a formal meeting. Her first since his return. I attended this meeting and can confirm that she expressed gratitude for the Sergeant’s service. However, she had been brought in to clean up the city offices. She had never met Colonel Wolfhaven and had no strong ties to Kythros either. However, she informed Sir Mansfried that she had submitted paperwork to Lord-Commander Lady Grayson to formally disband Alpha Team and retire their designation.

At this revelation, Sir Mansfried excused himself for a brief moment and returned. Something about his demeanor led me to believe there was something wrong, but as I had no direct evidence, there was little I could do.

After the meeting with the Lady Mayor, Sir Mansfried immediately reports to Major Hawksclaw, further proving that Hawksclaw and Sir Halten are coordinating efforts between the Wolfhaven Loyalists and those led by Sir Halten, and back by Lord RabenClau.

Shortly after Sir Mansfried left, Major Hawksclaw was visited by Commander Eric Schenkle of the city Militia. We do not know the full extent of the conversation, but we know that immediately after, Commander Schenkle issued a public order indicating that the City Militia would begin weekly drills at the muster grounds, months out of the cycle. Ranger HQ now understands that Sir Halten and Major Hawksclaw have mobilized the city Militia in support of their coup. Perhaps Hawksclaw will take Echer’Naught and march to support the barony? Reinforcements from Kythros are en route.

This is, of course, odd as the growing merchant class in Middle Town is currently in a bitter feud with the Noble Houses of High Towne over the latter commandeering Middle Towns water rights just after the Maker attack. Fights have already broken out between merchant guards and House Guards of Olaran Blood. Then again, it is known that Sir Halten is not on good terms with the other nobles, which pushed him toward allying with Lord RabenClau. Maybe this is why the City Militia has agreed to back Sir Halten’s bid for the city?

With the Milia now loyal to the RabenClau/Halten/Hawksclaw faction, Major Hawksclaw met with Captain Vasser, a longtime friend, to secure the loyalty of the City Watch. Again, Ranger Command does not know what was said, but an alliance between RabenClau’s Storm Guard mercenary force, Hawksclaw’s Wolfhaven Loyalists, the Wolf Guard/Wolfhaven Free Riders, Schenkle’s City Militia, and Vasser’s City Watch, backed by Sir Halten’s authority would be more than the Rangers could hope to defeat. Ranger Command only hopes reinforcements from Kythros will arrive before the conspirators make their move.

With his alliances secured, Major Hawksclaw forced a meeting with Lady Mayor O’Meyer, and then Colonel Anderson. No demands were made, but Major Hawksclaw made certain they were both aware of the divisions within the city. After his departure, the Lady Mayor and Colonel Anderson met for some time to strategize defense of the Rangers in Echer’Naught.

Harvest Moons 26th, 3128

RFC Gracelyn Moldova Amaroth arrived back in Echer’Naught fresh from her meeting with Baroness Wolfhaven and her military commander, Sir Regillus Anaxelum. She returns immediately to the Wolfhaven Manor to coordinate with the Wolfhaven Loyalists in the city.

Midday on the 28th bells around the city sounded the arrival of the Diplomatic Envoy of Independent Nations from the West. All Active Duty Rangers are called up, forming ranks to welcome the dignitaries. It was an impressive display of solidarity, covering deep and worsening divisions. At the head of the envoys was none other than Captain Volstagg, along with Dom Diego from Nazatir. For over a year, Sir Volstagg had been cultivating allies, even among his former foes, and now he entered the city like a conquering hero.

How many blades had he brought? His relationship with Sir Halten was well known, as was his disdain and distrust of Ranger Command. His arrival at the head of the column sent shock waves through Ranger Command. They expected a power move or political maneuver to be imminent. Was this Sir Halten’s plan all along? If these visitors from the west allied with Sir Halten, Major Hawksclaw, and their fellow dissenters, Ranger Command of Echer’Naught was over.

Within days, Kythros and Regional Command’s worst fears were realized. There is no going back.

Diplomats from Korindia, the Pirate Archipelogs, Nazatir, the Black Mountains, and the Desert Princes all assembled at Regional Command for opening ceremonies. Speeches were given, introductions were made, and arrangements were hammered out to house, feed, and protect all the diplomats. However, at the same time, Regional Command struggled to prepare for the inevitable attack from within. Rangers of questionable loyalty were stationed in locations where they could inflict the least damage, while loyal officials were posted in critical locations.

Before the party even ended, Sir Volstagg and Sir Halten were already conspiring. Stranger yet, Kythros dictated that Sergeant Minor Longtail serve as commander of Dom Diego’s personal security even though she had publicly declared a blood vendetta to kill the man? Meanwhile, an ogre named Atlas and Wolfhaven loyalist, who had earlier hospitalized a man for vocally protesting Colonel Wolfhaven, was seen in the company of Si Volstagg. Another Ranger hopeful, Wilhelm Cragheart another Wolfhaven loyalist, was seen with Sergeant Mansfried. Was this the plan? To gather the Loyalists under the cover of the summit?

I fear what will happen when the reinforcements from Kytrhos arrive, or when the Olaran Houses launch their attack on the Wolfhaven Barony. Worse, what if Colonel Wolfhaven comes to harm?

The party was just ending when Sir Volstagg, Sir Halten, and Sir Mansfried cornered Colonel Anderson and coerced the Regional Commander to reinstate Alpha Team under their command from select applicants, most or all Wolfhaven loyalists. It was here that Colonel Anderson revealed the paperwork had been repeatedly delayed, once even thrown in the fire, purely by “accident.” Realizing the Wolfhaven Loyalist still had many allies within his own command, and under severe political pressure, Colonel Anderson had no choice but to reestablish Alpha Team under Sir Halten’s command, until the paperwork formally decommissioning the team was approved and signed in Kythros. However, they were denied the Alpha Team designation as that was still pending review.

Having achieved their objectives, Sir Halten and Sir Volstagg retired to the Halten Manor to assemble their team, and coordinate with their allies in the city.

Harvest Moons 27th, 3128

In the morning, Sir Volstagg, Major Hawksclaw, Sir Halten, Sir Mansfried gather in Colonel Anderson’s office to officially assemble the team. Having little choice, Colonel Anderson allows the assembled conspirators to select whomever they wish for their team. They select:

  • RFC Gracelyn Moldova Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven
  • Atlas, the ogre guilty of hospitalizing opponents to Wolfhaven
  • Wilhelm Cragheart, the dwarven Wolfhaven fanboy
  • Sylvia Harpy Vex, an apostate korindian and pirate
  • Finnlea Runesplitter, a human seer

and

  • Charlemaigne Pierre DeBugerane, a Camonere/Galean duelist

The only member that Colonel Anderson insisted on being assigned was a Farspeaker en route from a nearby Ranger outpost.

On the 27th, this new team, though not technically Alpha Team was commissioned by the Rangers, but placed under the nigh complete command of Sir Halten, in service of maintaining the already strained relations with the Olarans.

Harvest Moons 28th, 3128

In the morning, the entire team arrived in the courtyard of the Halten estate to be evaluated and signed on by Sir Halten, Sir Volstagg, Dom Diego, and Sir Mansfried. Along with Major Hawksclaw’s Loyalist, Commander Schenkle’s Militia, and Captain Vasser’s City Watch, Lord RabenClau’s position in the city has been secured.

To add to the general tumult, the cries of Olara for Olarans grows ever large amoung the Noble Houses within the city. The Harken Duchy has yet to take a stance on this, either, but how long can they ignore the political pressure. One mistake, one dishonor in the eyes of the Olarans, and the Rangers may be found in violation of the Charter. Many have already called for nullification based upon the Rangers “removing” Baron Wolfhaven from the city. All over water rights taken from the merchants of Middletown during last year’s Maker attack and the sudden appearance of the Crysarium mines. Even if Wolfhaven were not a factor, the city might have devolved into a civil war regardless…

We also received word from the Farwatch Road Outpost that a large force of goblinesh from the Stone Tower Gather may be mobilizing against the city of Echer’Naught.

Ascended help us all…

Malcolm

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Campaign Report 146
Colonel Wolfhaven Arrested

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

South of Echer’Naught, Olara

15h Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3128 Under the Light

I write this report along the Farwatch Military Road under heavy guard. Overhead the sky storms as the raging tumult in my heart. Was I right to surrender? Should I have just remained at the Legion Keep? In truth, I know not the answer.

However, I could not allow my family to suffer the shame of my abdication of responsibility. Despite all, I am Olaran knight and I refuse to run from my honor. Nor could I allow bloodshed among allies in my name. If my incarceration preserves the tenuous alliances we have forged over the years then, perhaps, all is worth it. Still, I spent but ONE day with my daughter. And now, she may grow up without a father, or one in prison.

What better choice could I have made? Ascended help me.

We arrived back into Shaintar on what we thought was Dancing Clouds 7th, 3128. We had no cause to think different. At first, we were just ecstatic we made it home, even if we were dropped into the northern reaches of the Defiant Lands. What we did not know until much later was that we had lost over a month. I suppose we should count ourselves fortunate. Others have lost years. Some never returned.

Raining Leaves 12th, 3128

On what we thought was the 7th of Dancing Clouds, Alpha Team was spat out into a high snowdrift. None of us was conscious when we hit. When I regained consciousness, what could not have been long after, I could still feel the arcfire burning around us. We quite literally tore a hole in the earth. And, at the same time, sent up as massive magical flare alerting the entire world to our location. Not ideal.

However, I could make out the Everwall far to the north, which meant we were to the furthest northern reaches of the Defiant Lands or in the Empire. Distances were difficult to judge. It was snowing hard, and we landed in waist-deep snowbanks.

Over the next few moments, members of Alpha Team roused and staggered to their feet, taking stock of our situation. After the unbearable heat of Norcan Dar, the sudden cold was biting. Even Lady Killian who hails from an icy land found herself shivering.

Doing a quick headcount, I realized that Sergeant Minor Blackstone was still down. Finding him was not so easy, as he had sunk deep into the snow. But, when we dragged him up, his condition had not worsened…nor had it improved. He needed pure stone to heal.

As I was checking over Blackstone, The Explorer suggested a perimeter, and Sergeant Mansfried deployed the team in a loose ring. At the western edge of our line, Lady Arwen Que’kasaars sent up an alert. With her keen elven eyes, she spotted a lightning storm in the distance, but Softpaws, on a rock, saw the azure blue. Tempest.

Everywhere, Tempest. In every Realm. Tempest… Their influence spreads daily.

We needed to move. I ordered the team to form up for a withdrawal when we felt a pulse of energy from the West; something vile. Then, almost as if released by a massive explosion a thick green fog spread across the snowy forest like a sickly blanket. The corruption crawled over my skin, clawing my nose and throat. The Wild.

The Wild. Tempest infused. These monsters slew Ironblood and nearly sacked the Heroes’ Keep before we finished our defenses. Bloody Abyss…!

Somethin shuffled and moved in the trees. We were not alone. I took stock of our situation. Wild uses undead, not unlike Darkness. And with the Tempest support, we could be facing formidable hordes.

The trees were of little help. We would be surrounded and overwhelmed. The open ground was good for our bowmen and arclancers. To our rear was a rocky rise. Not tall, scrub-covered, but elevation. A decent last stand.

I ordered the Ranger shootists to fall back to the ridge, and take up firing positions. Melee fighters, close ranks and buy them time. Then, the shootists would provide covering fire for our withdrawal to better positions on the hillock.

Sergeant Mansfried closed on my left, Softpaws on my right while the others sprinted for the high ground. Killian dropped back a step and provided close support. But, when the Wild undead broke the treeline I knew were in for a fight. There were…dozens. Horrible things. Their skin had been removed and various organs and muscles were exposed. Their sick and rotting innards were infested with maggots and bugs. The stench alone could kill.

Things went bad almost immediately. After fighting across Hell, the Explorer was suddenly unmanned. He threw down his arclance and fled in terror. My rear guard was simply to small to stem the tide. They undead flowed around us like a wave. A few broke through and clawed at the heels of Lady Que’kasaars and Gravelheart.

The situation was bad.

Our shooters cleared our right flank, giving Softpaws and Killian breathing room to fall back. But already a smaller group from our far right were clawing their way up the ridgeline threatening our shooters. Without support, Sergeant Mansfried and I were immediately surrounded. Over the din of battle, I shouted for an arcfire grenade and without question, he handed me his last. I activated the bomb, dropped it at our feet, and then teleported us both back to the ridge.

We arrived a heartbeat after the explosion blasted four or five of the fiends where we had been standing. But, now the whole horde surged forward toward our last redoubt. But, they had to cross open ground, perfect fodder for our ranged experts.

Lady Que’kassars let loose jet after jet of purplish eldritch fury felling three, four, or five in a blast. But with each felled, they exploded into a noxious green cloud, stinging our eyes and throats, causing us to cough and tear up.

From our left, The Explorer let loose a terrifying stream of Childer curses and cut loose at four undead charging him. There was a madness in his eyes, a rage as he cut them down with his handcaster. Ceynara’s hold on him grows.

We thinned their ranks, but many still scrabbled up to our position. Softpaws moved among them, cutting them down. One, grabbed Sergeant Minor’s body and tried to drag him down into a feeding frenzy, but the team picked them off long enough for Gravelheart to hook him with a crossbow fired grappling hook and haul him to saftey.

Shot by shot. Hack by hack. We winnowed them down until, at last, there was naught but silence and death. In that void, Corporal Gill Grimm shouted that we had Tempest incoming from the west.

We had to move.

I picked up Sergeant Minor Blackstone, and tasked Sergeant Mansfried, now Alpha Team commander with deploying our forces for a fast run south.

For four days, we slogged through the snow with Tempest ever at our back. It was a harrowing forced march. But, on the fourth day, we saw the northern treeling of the Aralon Forest. The Iron Elves. Serys’ people. Hardly allies, they are at least not our enemies.

Raining Leaves 16th, 3128

Again, on what we mistook for the 11th day of Dancing Clouds, we arrived at the northern edge of the Aralon Forest. Before we even reached the woods, Alakar rangers appeared, bow in hand. Fortunately, I am known to them. The Legion works with their Rangers and scouts to patrol the region around the Aralon Forest.

In their language, I asked for asylum and to speak to a Stone Druid. They informed us one would be in Tar’Imas, but there was a stone circle nearer by. They allowed us to enter, but we remained under watchful guard our entire time in their forest.

It was that eve that we learned from the elves that the date was NOT Dancing Clouds 11th, but actually Raining Leaves 16th. We lost nearly two months.

When that being destroyed the Grand Arcgate mid teleport, it must have thrown us off. We are lucky we were not instantly vaporized. Losing a couple of months, as disconcerting as it may be, is actually a far better outcome than could have been hoped. I’ve had teams lose far more time. Some have never returned.

Still, that meant that those we had sent through may have arrived months ago. Likely the Legion feared our death. Once we reached camp, I used the mask to reach out to the Legion and inform them of our location and status.

That evening, the Iron Elves escorted me to a Stone Druid Circle. Mostly a stone henge in a glade. There I set his body on the heartstone and allowed his connection with Dranak to knit his wounds. I had no idea of how long the process would take. So, I remained there, secure that my team would finally have the rest and recuperation they had so long deserved.

Raining Leaves 22nd, 3128

Six days later, Blackstone awoke. Though, I could feel his diminished aura. I too had suffered such a wound and had my lifespan cut tragically short. Though, none compared to my daughter in law Eve whose immortal life was not burned down to a handful of decades. So much sacrificed on the altar of Light and Life. And more would be asked soon.

Before returning to our team, I briefed the Sergeant. He was clearly in pain and mourning for the sacred armor. More sacrifice.

At the 13th hour, we returned to our camp. My Rangers looked…well, cadaverous and still weak, but better than I have seen in months. They are in the best shape since the fall of the Citadel.

At that moment, I was struck by the incredible members of the team. Blackstone, his life literally ended, his sacred duty rent, rose from weeks in a coma and simply soldiered on. No self-recrimination. Pure focus and duty. Like the mountain, he weathered the storm and endured.

Mansfried? He lost his arm, but never stopped fighting. Many in his situation would bemoan the unfairness of life, but not the stalwart Olaran.

And Grimm? When he joined us he was a selfish, avaricious wheelder. But, during our time in the Hard Lands he gave up everything he had, and more for the team. He never begrudged the sacrifice. And his animosity with other elves, he never allowed it to get in the way of his duty.

Gravelheart. My dear Gravelheart. Misfortune followed her, but she never let it break her spirit. And, in the end, to her Blackstone owes his life. She took a hellish experience and intends to make a future based on her experiences. I am awed by her optimism.

Softpaws is a killer. I knew that when I allowed her on the team. Her reputation is well deserved. And yet, she remained in check, following orders without fail. She took on the mask, knowing the cost, the vulnerability it presented. She never failed us. Not once.

Lady Que’kasaars isn’t even an official Ranger. This was supposed to be a training exercise, a chance to gain first-hand knowledge. She, an untrained Eldakar sorcerer in a land where her kind CANNOT survive. And yet, there she sat, quietly watching the others talk. I know hardened warriors with a fraction of her grit. She is as tough as her kin. A worthy successor to the name.

And what of our two guests? Lady Killian left the only tribe she had to follow us on our mad quest. Fought harder than any member of my team. Accepted orders of Rangers even though she never gave the oaths. And here she remains, keeping her oaths. I’ve heard it said that Caladonians and Olarans share much in common, but Lady Killian could teach my kin of honor.

The Explorer, well, of all of us, he ever seemed the happy one. If I did not know better, I would swear he actually enjoyed the war. So much will fall to him soon. But, Ceynara has her hooks in him. I can sense it radiating off him like heat. In the end, he may have sacrificed more than all the rest.

We rejoined the camp, and Sergeant Minor Blackstone resumed command. We rested that night before taking up our long trek south.

Raining Leaves 23rd, 3128

That night, we camped outside of Tar’Imas. As I sat with my team around me quietly chatting and laughing with comfortable ease, I wondered that in all this time, I had never actually entered Tar’Imas. Funny.

We enjoyed the companionable comfort, sitting around the fire. Warm, well-fed with our “protectors” shadows in the trees. In a weird way, I almost regretted our adventure coming to end.

No, I did not want to return to Norcan Dar. I counted my every blessing I was back in Shaintar. And, I ached to see my family. But, for so long it was just this team among an army of strangers, in a foreign land. We depended upon each other for our very survival. And soon, we would each go our separate ways. Many of us would never see each other again.

So it is with every war. Comrades long gone. The bittersweet melancholy of an ending campaign. This worse for I know well what awaits me upon my return. The situation had deteriorated worse than I had foreseen. Then again, I’ve been gone far longer than intended.

I am going to miss this team. I miss every iteration of Alpha Team. Comrades long gone. But never forgotten.

Raining Leaves, 24th, 3128

We resumed our march in the morning. By that afternoon we emerged from the southern edge of the forest along the Hispan road. A full 200 mounted Legionnaires waited in formation. At once my heart soared to be among the Legion, but I knew that my epoch with Alpha Team was truly ending. In a couple of days we would reach the keep. After that…everything would change.

That night we camped outside the forest. Each Ranger was given their own tent and cot. We were provided with new clothes, given grooming tools… For the first time in nearly a year, I washed, put on a fresh, clean uniform, and shaved. The luxuries of life.

Raining Leaves 25th, 3128

In the morning we broke camp and rode out in a column. My Rangers were given a position of honor at the head of the column behind me. That night, I gathered my team for a final meal together just by ourselves. We set up a fire, ate, drank, and laughed. I don’t think they saw my tears. I will miss them. Heartily.

To mark the occasion, Blackstone sang us signet rings. They were stone with the Phoenix Moth of Alpha Team wreathed by the Legion Laurels. I will treasure it for all time. When I went to my large command tend that night, I sat alone on my cot and just…wept. Waves of sorrow, joy, pain, and loss washed over me. It was done. I got them home. And now, I would return to my home…but, sadly, there was no place for me anymore.

This camp, tonight with my Rangers, maybe the last time in a LONG time that I truly belong somewhere. They will never know how much their camaraderie meant to me. They will never know how much I am going to miss them all.

All I can do now is give them the BEST chance at a future. A future I will not share.

Raining Leaves 26th, 3128

We reach the Legion Keep, well the growing town at the base of the cliff. The commander assembles the troops and I am granted a grande parade and inspection. After so long in the Hard Lands, just living with my men, the pomp and circumstance is a bit jarring. But, I do my best.

Late, my Rangers are given accommodation. We are just settingling down when Malorie announces that she is leaving. She returns the mask and asks us to inform any who ask that she died in Norcan Dar. Before she leaves, she promises to join the Last Call for Sssahlissstaah. And with that, she was gone. The first, but not the last. And so it began.

That night, Gravelheart and Grimm discuss going into a brewing business. So, I suggest they seek out another former Alpha, John Wyvern, who has set up a tavern between Echer’Naught and Harken. I also offer other contacts to help with distribution. I’ll pen a letter to my wife for her input. I sincerely hope they are successful.

Blackstone sings a gem Mort and Pestal for Grimm. Everyone is already saying goodbye.

Raining Leaves, 27th, 3128

In the morning we trek up the switchbacks to the Keep. There, I officially resume command. My Rangers are assigned their own quarters and return to duty, piles of paperwork on my desk. Over the course of the evening, I speak with my team about where they all want to go.

Arimar Blackstone requested to resign from the Rangers so that he may assume his role as the Mountain in Stahlheim. He needed to see to the armor. I presented discharge papers and invited him to accompany me to my barony where his wife, and his child, waited. From there, they could depart for home.

The Explorer eagerly joined the Legion as an arcmancer. After we depart, he will step through the Grand Arcgate to the True Legion Keep where he will join the other Builders who have been waiting for two months.

Arwen Que’kasaars declined the cloak. She chose to return to school. Val agreed to escort her home.

Lady Killian elected to join the Legion as well, until such time as we could reliably return her to her own time and place. She would liaise with the other Caladonians serving in the Legion.

Corporal Grimm also retired from the Ranger Corps. He chose to return with us to Echer’Naught where he would take up a professorship at Ash’s Yomenie Curu Magic Academy.

Gravelheart also chose to retire. She wanted to get into the brewing business with Grimm. She would start in Echer’Naught, before returning home.

And that left only Sergeant Mansfried. As expected, he elected to remain in the Rangers. This, by default, made him commander, and the sole remaining member of Alpha Team. They…they were all gone. Upon assuming the command, I present him with Sssahlisstaah’s notes on all the foes we had faced, per her Last Will. To this others added their own notes, and I several tomes on tactics. By the end, Mansfried had a trunk of vital tactical knowledge about every enemy the Rangers have ever faced, their strengths, their weaknesses. I see a comprehensive book on strategy in the future. One, I hope very much to be able to read.

And then, we all gathered for a private Last Cal for Sssahlisstaah. It was LONG overdue. Even Softpaws joined. That night we ate, drank, and remembered. Her proceeds were dispensed according to her wishes. And then, we said goodbye to Norcan Dar and looked to the future.

Raining Leaves 28th, 3128

In the morning, we gathered to leave. All said goodbye to Killian and the Explorer. Then we headed back down the switchback and they to the Grand Arcgate. Softpaws had long since vanished. Likely for good.

That evening, we camped again at the base. Our company now down by three.

Raining Leaves 29th, 3128

In the morning, I mount Thunder and we begin our long trip home.

Raining Leaves 30th, 3128

Late on the 30th, we arrive outside Hispan with our escort.

Raining Leaves 33rd, 3128

We arrived outside Ordoth.

Harvest Moons 2nd, 3128

Late on the 2nd, we arrived outside Fylg. The entire Gather was prepared for war. Rumors suggest a silver warrior is hunting the Blood Witch. I wonder if…?

Harvest Moons 5th, 3128

We arrived at Bralk. Nothing much happens to a force our size

Harvest Moons 7th, 3128

Under Legion colors, we enter and enter Jasara with little issue. We stay in an Inn frequented by Legionnaires on trips.

Harvest Moons 8th, 3128

Again, under the Legion, we enter Olara without incident. I truly feared I might be apprehended here, but my escort handled the guards at the bridge and we were not harassed.

That night, we camp outside Rhion.

Harvest Moons 12th, 3128

Again, we camp outside Kore. I dread being identified by one of the King’s Wardens. Not until I see my wife and children at the very least.

Harvest Moons 13th, 3128

The 13th was agonizing as we began to travel through familiar fields. When I saw the first marker for the edge of the Wolfhaven Lands, I could almost not resist breaking into a gallop. Somehow I dredged up the strength. As evening fell, and soft snow drifted down, we arrived at the main gate. And there, along the road, I saw them. The Wolf’s Guard around two women in long cloaks. Around them, women held squirming infants. My heart burst.

I leaped from Thunder’s saddle and hurled myself into Elyanna’s arms. Tears rolled down my cheeks as she kissed me. I was home. I was home. I was home…

One of her maids approached and placed a soft bundle in my arms. For the first time, I looked in the angelic face of my daughter, Ellamira. My knees grew weak and I nearly sank to the muddy road as I wept silent tears of joy. Nearby, Arimar and Ruby embraced, holding their son. I knew the pride Blackstone felt, as it mirrored my own.

After our embrace, we all returned to the house. Everyone was about, grooms, cooks, guards. It was a festival air. We were feasted and toasted.

That evening, everyone enjoyed a luxurious hot bath. Mansfired headed to a study to begin penning letters and reading his material. Blackstone retired with his family. Grimm went searching from components, I assume. Gravelheart, got a bit souced, and begin exploring. Thank the Ascended she did…

Long after the staff were abed, I walked with my beloved wife in the snow, touring the gardens, chapel…just enjoying each other’s company. She could not understand why I was determined to return to Echer’Naught. She begged me to return to the Legion and leave the Olarans and Rangers to their own schemes. But, there was not heart in it. She knew it was a matter of honor, and she accepted it, as an Olaran, but hated it as a wife.

As we made our way back to the house, something moved in the shadows. I stepped away from her for a moment to investigate when men stepped out of the shadows. I sensed Xaos magic. And in that instant, a cloaked man held a sword to my wife’s throat. Others surrounded me.

Their leader approached, the snow melting as it fell around him. Heat roiled off of him…off of the sword in his hands. Soul Reaver. The Butcher’s cursed blade. But how…? The Rangers had secured it, for all time.

Of all the foul weapons I have faced, that, I know, could truly harm me. They gave me a choice. My family for my life. I calculated the situation, but there was no way. Even if I teleported, I knew they were prepared for any trick. So, I did the one thing I could, prayed to Celesia and knelt down, hoping for a miracle…

…which came in the form of a drunk dwarf.

From an upper window, a grappling hook clanked into the Butcher’s Blade as the assassin raised it in the air to take my head. He was yanked backward. In that instant of confusion, I moved, striking the man holding my wife.

Rage flooded through me.

I found a sword in my hand and I started killing. I killed until there was nothing left to kill. Then, men and women flooded the courtyard. Guards, staff, Rangers… Anaxelum appeared and his rage seeing the bodies equaled my own. If I had not stopped him, he might have taken his own life in shame right there.

Thinking quickly, I ordered that no one near the sword. It’s power to rend souls was too great a danger. It would be dealt with. But, the presence of the assassins troubled me greatly.

The Sword SHOULD have been locked in the Ranger’s deepest vault. The fact that it was here meant the Rangers either lost the blade, or someone within the Corps was complicit. And, the Xaos magic meant Xaos had infiltrated our ranks, there was an unholy alliance, or they were using the magic to throw me off the scent. Still, it would take some powerful magic to allow ANY man to wield that sword.

This was not good.

That night, no one slept. The house was on lockdown as the bodies were thoroughly examined and the sword was secured.

Harvest Moons 15th, 3128

At my insistence, the Blackstone returned to Stahlheim where they would be safe. There was a conflict coming and it was vital that they be among their own. I, with the last three members of my team, turned south to Echer’Naught. My Baroness ALMOST did not allow me to go. The assassins had shaken her badly. But, as long as I remained, they were a target.

I knew what I had to face, and it was my responsibility to accept to consequences of my actions, whether right or wrong. If I failed in my honor, how could I ask anyone to follow me? Everything I had built would mean nothing. So, I rode to my own execution.

Harvest Moons 17th, 3128

We approached the walls of Echer’Naught at dusk. The North Gate road was cleared. A knot of mounted men waited. My jailers. Rangers, City Guard, all led by a very uncomfortable looking Colonel Anderson.

Every man had a hand on his sword, but I could smell the fear, and see it in their eyes. None of them wanted to be there. Behind him, I could feel my Rangers and escort loosening their own blades. At a word, we could cut through them, charge into the city and take it by force. I have no doubt hundreds would rally to my banner. The Olarans and Rangers would have little hope.

But then what?

I’ve dedicated the past six years to building alliances. An envoy from the west is on its way to forge treaties that may bring unity to dozens of kingdoms across Shaintar…

And with a single word, I could jeopardize EVERYTHING.

So, instead, I removed my sword, wrapped it in my cloak and asked Sir Mansfried to see it returned to my House. I would NOT allow the Rangers to take it. And, they would not DARE take it from an Olaran knight. Nor would he allow it. That would be too far, even for these.

After this, I surrendered without incident.

Before I was led away, I thanked my friends for their service, and their friendship these hard months. I encouraged them to move on. Seek their own fulfillment. And then, I was led into my city, a prisoner.

Colonel Anderson remained behind to talk with the Rangers. But, I never saw the result. My “escort” rode quickly through the city, stopping only briefly at the City Watch Station before riding straight through and out the South Gate. We rode hard, putting miles between us and the city before stopping and camping well away from the road.

By the time we stopped, my escort had grown to 50. I would be flattered if I were not so incensed. Still, despite all, I have been afforded every courtesy. There is that.

Was it all worth it? We shall see.

May the Lord of Light and Celesia watch over me.

Your most obedient servant,

Wolfhaven, Colonel

Olara

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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

View
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

View
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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Lord-Mayor Wolfhaven Replaced as Lord-Mayor of Echer'Naught
Lady Mayor Gwendolyn O’meyer inaugurated Festival Moons 16th, 3128

Malcolm Report

Festival Moons 4th, 3128

Major Gwendolyn O’meyer of the Wildland Rangers arrives with her staff to the city of Echer’Naught. Upon her arrival, she meets with Sir Halten, Royal Sherrif and Warden, Colonel Anderson, acting Regional Commander, and other dignitaries.

Festival Moons 7th, 3128

After obligatory social gatherings, Major O’meyer meets privately with Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw, Echer’Naught Ranger Commander, to discuss future of Rangers in the city.

Festival Moons 15th, 3128

In a private ceremony, former Lord-Mayor Wolfhaven is stripped of his appointment in absentia.

Festival Moons 16th, 3128

In a grand ceremony at the Regional Headquarters, Major Gwendolyn O’meyer is appointed Lady-Mayor of Echer’Naught. As of this date, she is the new head of state for the Rangers in the city.

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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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