Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
6th Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light
While my Rangers held the rear, delaying the Builder advance, I led out “army” away south and west. Forsaken scouts claim there is a ravine not far, that should we cross, we may hold against pursuit. If not, we are doomed.
Falling Ice 6th, 3128
Again, I awoke on the field. The 13 hour gone and done. It was the 6th, and we were to be overwhelmed. Already several Rangers has retreated to a triage station just around the ridgeline behind us, but it provided little cover. None against the torrent of artillery hammering away at us from artillery placed behind the enemy’s ridge. Unless we suppressed that artillery, there was little hope. In that moment, I had the notion of a plan.
Summoning what power flows through my blood, I tugged at the fabric of the aether around me. Just, got a nail under the edge, like prying loose a stubborn tack. With a rush of energy, I stepped through the narrow sliver and out beside Sergeant Blackstone in the rear of our formation. Laying my hand upon his shoulder, I transferred my Quickness, vastly enhancing his reflexes. And then, I pulled upon the spirit of the stone joined to mine and reached down into the earth. Grasping the iron bands of gravity pinning us the the ground, I pulled, hard, and felt something shift.
The air around Blackstone suddenly lightened, his heavy bones began to lift. With power and will I removed the chains holding him down, holding him back. Now energized with the energies of the Maelstrom, I ordered the Sergeant to burrow immediately to the Iron Golem charging into the enemy trap. He was to then submerge them both, re-emerging behind the enemy lines amid their artillery. Once it was thoroughly destroyed, he was to return immediately, with the golem, to this point. From there, the golem should be ordered to join up with our army, while he resumed command of his team.
With a nod, he was off, into the ground.
I turned then to Corporal Mansfried who was yet unconscious. With a trickle of healing energy, I roused him from his stupor. To him, I have command of the rear guard until the Sergeant should return. As we were already on the verge of a route, I ordered Sir Mansfried to execute a “false retreat.” In a “panic,” he was to order all remaining Rangers from the field and scamper away down the rockslide to the left of our position. However, as soon as they rounded the tip of the ridge, the Corporal was to send the team around the backside of the ridge, to scale and take firing positions awaiting orders.
He nodded, rose, and began the “withdrawal.”
At that, I tugged at the aether and stepped. This time, I landed in a blast crater on the far side, high on the ridge. There, Softpaws ducked low, watching the battle. To her, I gave the final order. She was to observe, and report regularly on the battle. When the time came, she would retreat with the Rangers and keep me informed of the enemy movements. Before I left, I dropped Thorgram’s shield behind her. When she needed him, Thorgram would be there. Not even death prevented the Alpha Team’s greatest defender from protecting his friends.
And then, I summoned my power and stepped again. As the world dissolved around me, I heard the sounds of gargoyles descending into the ranks of Builders. Small miracles. Perhaps that is the one truism of Norcan Darr. All are enemies.
I appeared amid the Maker’s personal guard. My sudden appearance very nearly got me shot. But, the arclancers were disciplined well. It seemed I had interrupted a war summit on how to handle the battle above the column. Most of the Builder arclancer commanders were of the mind to turn and fight. The Maker, however, was more cautious. I could see the relief in his eyes when I added my voice to his, though I won no allies among the commanders. Still, with my support, the Maker ordered the column to move out at best possible speed south where Forsaken scouts indicated that a large, deep, and wide ravine lay. If we could move our forces across the ravine, we could hold the gap against the enemy army, inflicting heavy losses should they attempt to cross.
They must either flank us, or force a crossing. According to our Forsaken scouts, any flanking could take days of travel through the mountains. Their numbers would be far less telling, and we could choose the ground of battle. Not ideal, but far better than facing an enemy above us behind natural fortifications.
All depended on whether my Rangers could hold long enough for our army to slip away.
Through Softpaws, I learned that the Rangers responded as ordered, falling back down the rockslide before maneuvering around behind the smaller ridge line. From the enemy’s vantage point it appeared to be a complete route. The only continued fighting on our side was the Explorer’s small mortar team at the crest of the rockslide, and Softpaws’ iron golem engaging the enemy Builder Golems behind the ridge. Though she could not see it, she could feel her new friend’s pain.
It had managed to take out the smaller battle golems the builders were using as mobile artillery, but behind the advanced team, three towering War Golems lumbered across the red sands toward our lines. One broke ranks and engaged the Iron Golem directly. The battle was brutal, with the Iron Golem taking heavy damage. But, it prevailed, ripping off the larger War Golems arm and downing the behemoth before being whisked away by Sergeant Blackstone back to our lines.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Rangers, with their arclancer allies ascended the backside of the escarpment, taking up positions just behind the crest. From across the field, the remaining two War Golems crested their own rise and pummeled our lines. Here, my eyes were blinded as Softpaws went down, injured, not dead. Even from my vantage I could see the amber tracers, feel the energy, and hear the screaming crysalite rounds.
Under the cover of their guns, the forward ranks of the Builders surged into the valley and charged at what they believed were our retreating lines. However, about the time they reached our former position in the valley, the Rangers and arclancer allies opened up, unleashing a torrent of fire into the face of the surprised enemy. It was a slaughter. The Explorer’s team obliterated the builder’s right flank, while the Ranger and Builder arclancers cut through their lines. Within minutes, only one or two remained.
Our losses included several Arclancers, Lady Que’kassars, and Softpaws. RFC Grimm revived the Rangers just in time for the retreat.
However, reinforcements arrived and descended into the valley under cover of their big guns, the War Golems. So, per orders, the Sergeant Blackstone called a retreat and began repelling down the escarpment on the backside of their ridge as the War Golems reduced it to rubble. They reached the valley far below as the walls rocks tumbled around them.
So focused were the Builders on destroying Alpha Team, they did not immediately notice the tail end of our column snaking its way into a ravine half a mile away. In the fog of war, we managed to slip away. Alpha Team, scampered east, drawing the enemy’s attention. Into the foothills, the Rangers retreated with Builder forces in hot pursuit.
During the running night battle, Corporal Mansfried was struck down, though not killed. Lady Que’kassars managed to port away, while the rest of the team disappeared into the broken terrain. As dawn approached, the Team and allies found themselves hiding in a cave system, huddled around a small fire for warmth. They are at least 20 miles from our column which nears the ravine. We should reach it tomorrow. However, our rear scouts report that at least some of the enemy Builder army is still in pursuit. They have not found us, but they are close, and closing.
If we cannot cross the ravine before they overtake us, there is little we can do. Though, should it come to that, at least Alpha Team would survive to return home. War is hell.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel