Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
1st Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light
Even in the deepest Abyss, generous souls may be found. It is this guiding like which gives me hope. If these Forsaken can hold the line at the doorstep to Ceynara’s hole, then can we do less?
Dark Moons 28th, 3127
After our arrival, I sat with the Elder of the Forsaken tribe. His age is likely no more than fourty, but to my eyes he looks ancient. There are few who live beyond their twenties in this place. Those who do are either extremely gifted, lucky, or both.
I remained with the Explorer and Lady Killian to treat with the Elder while I ordered Sergeant Blackstone to set up camp and begin to integrate with the locals. Despite his early missteps, I feel the Sergeant may have the most political acumen of the unit.
The Forsaken offered us food, what little they had, and the strange fermented milk I had grown to detest during my last sojourn. It is far worse when you know how it is made. The Elder was joined by his shaman, an ancient orcess, and their chief hunter, an angry young human male.
It yet amazes me how crafty and skilled Forsaken negotiates must be. When blessed with little, even that which we take for granted can mean the difference between life and death for these people. They part with nothing without great benefit.
We spoke for over three hours. It took nearly two hours to convince the Forsaken that the Explorer’s people could even be trusted. The antipathy runs strong through both races. I doubt the Explorer much cares for the Forsaken, and they bear great animosity to the Builders. With good reason. Since time immemorial, these two people have been killing each other.
The only silver lining being that, while there is enmity, it is diffuse and indirect. The Builders kill the Forsaken out of hand, more exterminating a nuisance. The Forsaken kill Builders out of survival. There conflict is an affect of their circumstance, not any strongly held belief.
The Explorer was instrumental. His willingness to even speak with the Elder, acknowledge them as beings of value. However, Killian was the true champion. Overlooking her initial capture, she spoke well and eloquently on our behalf. I believe she is motivated more by the hope of returning home, than any personal loyalty. Yet, I credit her with our success. We would certainly have failed to reach accommodations.
Once the veracity of the Builder’s intent was accepted, the rest of our conversation was the trade of our supplies, negotiation of guides, and most key, allowing Forsaken who wish to leave with our column the freedom to do so. Moreover, the willingness of the Forsaken to accept Builders from the column who do not desire to trek across the wasteland a place here with this tribe.
That last was a hard sell. The Elder refused to part with his smith, best hunters, healers, or his shaman. And, he refused to allow the Builders to bring arcfire into his camp. Understandable. In a land overrun with hordes of ratzin who can literally sniff out magic, it would likely be the death of the tribe to invite so much raw magic.
I had hoped the Forsaken would have more food, but they did provide information on other tribes to our south, and information on new threats. I fear that to feed our army, we will need to thing creatively.
Our dealing done, I asked The Explorer to gather Ben’s Mask from Softpaws to contact the Maker and relay our deal. In the meantime, we exited the elder’s chambers to find the entire tribe falling down drunk. Standing behind a makeshift still were RFC Grimm and Gravelheart.
I had instructed my Rangers to win hearts and minds. One must give them credit for their ingenuity. Leaving all to their celebrations, I headed to where Sergeant Blackstone had established camp.
While I was in talks, Graveheart and Grimm, as mentioned, set up a still and began brewing a concoction that was both healing AND intoxicating. Grimm, and later the Explorer, negotiated with the tribes dwarven smiths, the twins Kill and Kal, to constructed White Silver claw caps for Softpaws. Sergeant Blackstone spent his time with the smiths, learning and trading information along with Sir Mansfried. Arwen kept mostly to herself. There are no Eldakar here, only one or two Alakar. Magical creatures do not last long in the Hard Lands.
Sleep came swiftly, with only a Ranger on guard duty. Strange how we fall into old habits. The sounds, smells, the feeling. I could almost hear Anaxelum’s heavy breathing, or the mechanic crunch of his guard’s boots as they patrolled the camp.
Dark Moons 29th, 3127
We wake in the morning. Grimm, Blackstone, and Mansfried continue to work with the dwarven smiths, Kill and Kal. Gravelheart makes the rounds, and wins friends. Softpaws spends most of her time helping move cargo. She noted that many of the local urchins helped themselves to any unobserved supplies.
That night, we spoke at length about the cosmology of our world. I explained that Norcan Darr sits within the same world as Shaintar, so far as we can tell. As it takes significant power to pierce the Veil of Shaintar, it stands to reason Norcan Dar is the same. If one could walk to the edge of the wastes, you would likely encounter some wall, mist, or barrier like the Everwall and the Veil.
Equally, as Flame exists in Shaintar, so too does Life exist in Norcan Dar, but more difficult to reach.
They ask about the spirit planes. I explain that each of the Ascended, good or ill, exist within their own plane. Ceynara reigns as Queen of the Abyss, Vainar Necrolord of the Nether. Landra, the Soulfinder lives within the Eternal Forest. Archanon rules the Celestial Halls. Dranak dwells below the Living Mountain. Zavonis soars the Endless Skies. Illiana swims the Boundless Sea. These make up the “spiritual” lands. Between the Nether and Shaintar lies Shivak Novos, a tainted, twisted “between” realm. I could be a ’nearer" spirit plane aligned closer to the Nether. As stated, however, Norcan Dar appears to be an entirely physical plane, though soaked in blood and Flame.
Other than Shaintar and Norcan Dar, we know of a third land, the Tempest Isle, clear of the mists of the Veil. If there are three, it can be surmised that there are more.
Of note, Lady Killian revealed that she witnessed her lands, Caladonia was immolated by a giant dragon. Though we have no evidence to confirm, the absence of Dragon in Shaintar, and the presence of the same in Caladon has made me wonder at the connection. The Explorer confirmed that within the past 100 years a Dragon lived within Norcan Dar, though it has not been seen in years.
Dark Moons 31st, 3127
In the afternoon, the dwarves managed to complete Softpaws’ white silver claw caps from the last remnants left over from my shield. I could smell the burning flesh and fur from our camp. But, despite the damage, she seemed inordinately pleased.
While we camped, Killian spoke with her people, letting her people know that we intended to leave Norcan Dar. However, any that chose to join us would become targets in our battles against the Builders and Childer. There was no garuntee that we would even survive. By all rights, we would likely be slaughtered in the wastes, crushed by the various forces.
But, should we win through, I have sworn that all those with me would be returned to their own lands, regardless of what that may be. As I had so long ago with Anaxelum.
After days of chatting with the Forsaken, Gravelheart returned with some interesting information. Per Forsaken scouts, to the South reports indicated the Tempest had a large presence. Within the mountains to the far east, an entire Forsaken Tribe was wiped out. Only mutated remains were found. And, as we knew, a vast childer horde still lurked to our west.
Dark Moons 33rd, 3127
As the sun settled, the Forsaken camp broke as our own group gathered to move out. Eight Forsake chose to join us, most with knowledge of the lands. Of those, three would lead any Builders who chose to join the Forsaken, leaving our party with five Forsaken members.
We traveled long into the eve. Just before the 13th hour, high in the mountains, I called the group to a halt. There, we sat around a small flame, just enough to fight of the worst of the chill.
You see, I had saved a small treat to share, should we be unfortunate enough to find ourselves within Norcan Dar on this of all days. As we sat around our small camp, I pulled out, unwrapped, and passed around small molasses cakes, sweet treats given me by my wife for this very occasion.
As I bit into the sweetness, almost painful after so long eating the bitter or bland food of the Hard Lands, my mind drifted to my home, my wife, and the child she most likely had already born me.
Archanon, and my Lady Celesia, let me return home safely to them.
Falling Ice 1st, 3128
Before bedding down, I wished my Rangers a Happy New Year, before laying down and dreaming of home.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel