Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
28th Day of Dark Moons, Year 3127 Under the Light
I had hoped that after our battle with the demon, we might have a brief respite. It was not to be. After a day of fitful repose, I dispatched Alpha Team to drop back along the backtrail. Even with the destruction of the Builder Citadel, the enemy Builder force could not be far behind. And then, there was the matter of the 7k strong Childer horde sniffing at our heels.
So, just before dusk on the 10th, the evening AFTER the demon attack, I dispatched Alpha Team, minus RFC Grimm who was still recuperating, to fall back and sweep behind the column for advanced forces of either the horde or the Builders. Within two hours of their patrol, I received a frantic telepathic message from Ranger Softpaws. While scouting ahead of the team, she encountered a trio of Ratzin in a rocky cave. Evading per orders, she tumbled past the childer and outside the cave…right into the path of maybe dozen childer.
It appeared to be a recon in force in advance of the main childer horde. Raiders and foragers. Led by a Minotaur with a small warband, and a swarm of ratzin they instantly charged after the albino brinchie. Just over a slight ridge, the rest of the Rangers had spare moments to choose a course of action: take to the flats, or dive into the caves.
Sergeant Blackstone chose the caves and Alpha Team sprinted for the relative safety of the rocky tunnels. Outside, darkness fell. Within, the caves were pitch black. With her low-light, Arwen Que’kasaars was sent forward with the rest following, carrying a torch. For the moment, there was no sign of the childer.
Dark Moons 10th, 3127
Diving in the caves for nearly half an hour, the Rangers picked their way along, looking for a way through to an exit. Out front, Arwen entered a large chamber, only to tumble down a steep rock slide and slamming to a stop against the fall wall…or so she thought. As Arwen rose, pushing off against the wall, it moved. A creature the size of a house rose to stand over here, snuffling the air.
Behind Sergeant Blackstone, the other Rangers came to a stop. Marching order, Arwen, Sergeant Blackston, Gravelheart, Explorer, Killian, Softpaws, and Corporal Mansfried bringing up the rear. Mansfried and Softpaws turned to cover the rear while the head of the party dealt with whatever lurked in the cave.
In a relative panic, Arwen backpedaled and ran for the party and the light. Instantly the creature turned to chase. She just reached the rockslide when the massive reptile bit down on her shoulder, lifted her bodily into the air and turned to carry her back to its nest. The Explorer fired a shot right up its tail when it presented its rear, enraging it, and forcing it to turn back around, Arwen still in its maw. From the rear, Mansfried and Softpaws began to hear the scrabbled of ratzin.
Up front, Sergeant Blackstone dropped the torch and melded into the ground, closing on the beast. The Explorer, Kililan, and Gravelheart opened fire with arclances. Again, Gravelheart showed her skill, blowing the beast left eye out of its skull, forcing it to drop Arwen. Immediately, Blackstone was there to retrieve her. In a fury, the pained and wounded beast reached its mighty clawed hand into the tunnel to scoop out the Rangers.
Corporal Mansfried leaped over his team to throw up a defense blocking the attack with Thorgram’s shield. Behind the party, ratzin appeared hurling knifes at Softpaws. She takes a few hits shouts a warning before leaping past the party and sprinting to the right where Blackstone had seen another exit. With ratzin swarming from behind, Corporal Mansfried snatches up the torch and hurls it at the beast’s “good” eye, temporarily blinding it.
Seizing the opening, the other Rangers sprint past the beast away from the ratzin. As the last clears the tunnel, The Explorer tosses a arcfire grenade into the tunnel, before sprinting after the others, covering their retreat. In a perpendicular tunnel, Softpaws lights a torch and takes off, scouting forward. Blackstone and Arwen appear, Arwen laying down eldritch fire to cover the retreating Corporal Mansfried and The Explorer.
Behind them, the tunnel and cavern begin to collapse, filling the air with dust. Three ratzin make it past the beast, only to have one die at Arwen’s hand. The last two die by arclance. With their rear secure, Alpha Team sprints away from the collapsing tunnels.
While the Rangers fought their way through the tunnels, I made my way along a low ridge line with RFC Grimm and five arclancers. We reached near the cave system protecting Alpha Team and spied the childer raiders milling about, sniffing for blood. As we watched, there was a detonation in the mountain. The ground bucked nearly knocking Grimm out as he listened to the ground. Immediately, the childer started making their way around the rocky outcrop.
Leaving one arclancer to maintain position, I led the others around behind another ridge to a position about 30 meters away from the most likely point the Rangers might emerge. A good thing too. About the time we dropped behind cover, Softpaws appeared, the childer pouring over a low ridge to her right. They saw here as soon as we did. So, I ordered my squad to provide covering fire and sprinted down the slope toward the childer. My hope was that they would angle toward me giving my Rangers a chance to escape. Seeing me, Softpaws angled to meet me, while the rest of the Rangers poured out of the cave making a straight line for the cover of the arclancers and ridge line.
As I charged, a wall behind the Rangers exploded and the massive beast burst onto the flats. One eye still smoking, it bellowed and charged toward the childer, through the Rangers. Already committed, I slammed into the wall of fur and steel, cutting deep with my father’s blade. The minotaur war master died first in a spray. Beside me, Softpaws appeared, scratching and biting. From my left, the arclances opened laying down a steady torrent of arcfire. Overhead, gargoyles exploded into dust.
When the Rangers reached the ridge line, as the beast closed, I grabbed Softpaws, summoned my power and Teleported away. We made it about halfway to the ridge. Throwing her over my shoulder, I sprinted the last yards and set her down with the others. Behind us, the beast tore into the childer, roaring and slashing.
We ran, down the backslope of the ridge and didn’t stop running for twenty minutes. By then, I could hardly breath, my legs ached, my nears felt like they were going to explode, and I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I am getting far to old to be running around like a young fool. But, we were safe.
The rest of the trek was uneventful. We rejoined the column after an hour of hiking. The temperature was below freezing and we steamed, out sweat misted around us. By dawn, we slept. All as the dead.
Dark Moons 11th, 3127
In the morning, I spoke with The Explorer about my failure to properly equip Alpha Team for the mission. It had never occurred to me, in my wildest dreams that the Citadel would have fallen. Had I but thought, I would have equipped the team in White silver and Everwood. Now, we are trapped in this endless hellscape with no resources to draw upon. And so, to ensure my team’s survival I tasked The Explorer with melting down my Stahlheim shield and using the White Silver to plate the Ranger’s weapons. I do not know how long it will last, but they will at least have a fighting chance.
The shield was a gift from Rouark Fyrforg, a mastercraft Stahlheim shield. After my horse and sword, the shield was one of my most precious belongings. But, my Rangers come first, above all other concerns. That is my duty as commander. Within a week, all was done. Alpha Team was outfitted with enough White Silver to confront any demon or childer. Let us pray is lasts.
Dark Moons 16th, 3127
After traveling a week, Lady Killian informed me that we were close enough to cross the mountains to reach her Tribe of Forsaken. Leaving the Maker to continue leading the Builder column on our, more or less, southerly course, I took Alpha Team, led by Lady Killian, on a two week trek over the mountains.
Late on the 28th we arrived near the foothills on the far side of the mountain range we had been following for a month. We saw few gargoyles on our entire trek, after our narrow escape for the childer scouts. And fortunately no childer, builders, or overly troublesome beasts. I think that what the Alpha Team faced was an escaped Thunder Lizard who had fallen to Flame. Unsurprising. I can feel the stench of Ceynara’s foulness clawing at my spirit. Every breath, every heartbeat in this accursed place seeks to drive me mad with rage…
We made no effort to hide our advance. It would not be wise to start off by provoking an attack, or inadvertently killing those we are trying to meet in good faith. So, we walked into the Forsaken pickets in as non threatening manner as possible.
As soon as we were spotted, we stopped and allowed Lady Killian to speak on our behalf. She entered the camp, while we waited under guard. After a short time, she returned and we were allowed into the camp, though our weapons had to be left outside camp. It was not unexpected. At my order, we disarmed and entered the Forsaken camp.
Memories flooded back. The camp was little different from the one I spent my time in many years ago. The same despairing determination. Privation, yet generosity. The Forsaken have nothing, but all is shared. Not unlike the goblinesh.
We were escorted to the center of camp, the deepest cave in the system. There, under guard, was an elderly man. A true sign of a survivor. Few live more than a couple years in Norcan Dar. To reach old age bespeaks an indomitable spirit. He greeted me. It would seem the story of my previous escape had reached even here. The Tribal leader invited us to sit with him. And so the negotiations begin.
I will offer to any the option to travel with our column. If we survive, if we escape, they are more than willing to come with us. Alternatively, any who dare not risk the passage, I will ask the Forsaken to take them into their Tribe. I would think gaining the knowledge of the Builders would be a fare trade. We shall see. Forsaken are shrewder hagglers than the most avaricious Malakaran. I only hope we might procure the supplies need to feed the Builder clan.
Ascended have mercy on us.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel