Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
8th Day of Falling Ice, Year 3128 Under the Light
Falling Ice 6th, 3128
We force marched through the night, even during the coldest, burning into our supplies of Crysalites. Dawn passed without comment, as we trudged south through the red, hot sands. By full light, and heat, we were within a few miles of the ravine. With the heat rising our choice was to find shade, or push on. In any other circumstance, we would have taken refuge from the relentless sun, but with the enemy bearing down on us, we had no choice.
Ranger Softpaws contacted me via Toma’s mask just after dawn. By the Light, they were safe, but in only a marginally better position that we. But I had an idea. Not a plan, but a notion. By our best reports, the bulk of the enemy forces were following our column south. Which, if I read our situation correctly meant that only a small party remained to hunt down Alpha Team. They had done their part, distracting the enemy, confusing their scouts, buying us time, maybe even enough. But, now, with the enemy army turning south, the Alpha Team was in a unique position.
Even after sending many of the civilians to live among the Forsaken, our supplies were beyond critical. Food was nearly gone and water had become a daily struggle. Worse, what crysalites we had managed to take with us during the evacuation would hardly be enough to last more than a few engagements. We needed resupply, and the ONLY source anywhere within striking distance was the enemy nipping at our heals.
But what if we could raid the Builders for supplies? We could both weaken their forces AND strengthen our own. It would take a miracle. Or, it would take Alpha Team.
Once certain the team was out of immediate danger, I asked to speak with Sergeant Blackstone directly. My orders were as follows:
A) Continue to evade the remaining enemy scouts and trackers.
B) Take his team back over the mountain ridge due west.
C) Locate the vast Childer horde which I suspected was close based on the arrival of Gargoyles during the previous day’s battle.
D) Lure the Childer horde toward the rear of the Builder army.
E) Eliminate the Builder’s rear guard to allow the Childer horde the element of surprise.
F) In the confusion of the Horde attacking the Builders locate the enemy supply chain and contact me via the mask.
If successful, I would prepare arcmancer teleporters and scout teams to port in, secure the supplies, and port out before either enemy force realized we were even there. It was arguably insane, a plan born of desperation. Yet, if Alpha Team COULD manage they might very well save the army, and possibly inflict devastating casualties. If not, we were all likely dead anyway.
Sergeant Blackstone accepted the mission without hesitation. That plan in motion, I focused on the task of luring the Builder army into a location in which we had the slightest chance of surviving a direct confrontation. By mid-morn, our forward echelon reached the precipice of the ravine. Staring down into the black abyss, I suddenly wondered if this is what one experienced when looking down from the top of the Everwall, if such a thing were even possible?
The Builders are efficient if anything. Within the hour intricate cable bridges were sliding across the chasm. It wasn’t particularly wide, maybe 3-400 meters. However, it WAS deep and ran for miles in either direction. It seemed almost as if a great beam of energy had simply carved through the earth like an errant sword swipe.
By noon, with Builders passing out from heat exhaustion, our rear guard opened fire on the forward scouts of the enemy Builder forces. We were out of time. With the last of our forces scrambling onto the swaying footpaths across the yawning chasm, I personally touched the Iron Golem and teleported us both to safety, though it left me weakened, near exhaustion.
A few gamely enemy scouts tried to make the crossing, but were dropped unceremoniously into the gap. We never saw their bodies hit the ground.
For the remainder of the day, our forces huddled in what shade could be found, the least exhausted digging in lancer pits covering the gap. From 500 meters away, we watched the enemy Builders arrive to establish camp just out of reach of our biggest guns. A few eager arclancers traded shots across the chasm, but for the most part, both armies dug in and prepared. Night fell cold. We could hear the enemy forces building bridging engines.
Falling Ice 7th, 3127
Early in the morning, even before the heat began to rise, Alpha team reported they had crossed the mountains and were splitting into two teams. Sergeant Blackstone planned to take the Explorer to locate and bait the Childer Horde, while Corporal Mansfried took the rest of the team, RFC Grimm, Ranger Gravelheart, Ranger Softpaws, Lady Killian, and Lady Que’kasaars southerly to find Forsaken scouts believed to be in the area. With the various forces scattered over several miles of broken terrain, without accurate local intel, there would be little chance of Alpha Team ever reaching the Builder army’s rear in time.
Within an hour of the call, pickets along the ravine raised the alarm as the enemy Builders began their crossing.
Unlike our forces who were forced to use conventional materials and means to bridge the chasm, the enemy Builders erected barrier machines which created solid sections of pure energy. These extended from the massive generators into glowing arcfire bridges. As they extended, Builder Juggernaughts in heavy armor, protected by massive shields rode the bridges across, while arclancers fired from behind their cover. By dawn, a dozen arcfire bridges spanned the gap with hundreds of Builder elites pouring across. The battle was joined.
By mid-morn, we had repelled four major assaults, each closer to reaching the far side than the last. Our Iron Golem had, itself, repelled two towering War Golems, but at a heavy cost. His left arm was gone, ripped off. And, one of his legs had been nearly shot away. Our losses were heavy, their, worse. The dead and dying broiled in the growing heat of Norcan Dar’s baking sun.
I get a report from the Sergeant that he and the Explorer had located the Childer horde not far from where I had surmised. He was moving to lure, but it would take much of the day to get there. We had to hold.
Both armies rested during the hottest hours of the day, tended to the wounded and stockpiled weapons for the resumed assault. Our ammunition reserves were critical and we were out of water entirely. Without supplies, this would be our last battle, regardless of whether we won or lost.
Before the sun dropped below the horizon, the attacks resumed. This time, however, the enemy began teleporting small units of skirmishers behind our lines to disrupt our defenses as they launched yet another series of waves across the chasm. The fighting was hand to hand. As the temperature dipped down well below freezing and their golems began to ice over, they managed to reach our side and breach out defenses. Only through great sacrifice were we able to push them back. Tomorrow would be the day.
That evening, I received confirmation from Sergeant Blackstone that they had managed to bait the Childer horde, but it would take several hours before the horde reached the rear of the Builder formations. He also confirmed that Corporal Mansfried’s team made contact with local Forsaken, but were first attacked by Builder arclancers, either rear pickets of the main force, or scouts specifically tracking Alpha Team, and then attacked by clouds of gargoyles. Lady Que’kasaars was very nearly snatched away by the gargoyles, but the team made it out, relatively unscathed.
Then, they engaged the rear pickets of the Builder army, that night. With a little help from opportunistic gargoyles, the team managed to quietly take down the arclancers. Sergeant Blackstone and the Explorer faced off against the rear guard commander, an arclancer. He was dispatched, but not without difficulty. The plan was in motion. Now, if only the childer would follow their baser instincts, we might have a chance.
While we huddled around small fires, and our foes across the chasm worked all night building ever nastier engines of death, Alpha Team tended their wounds and waited for thousands of Childer to descend upon them.
Falling Ice 8th, 3128
At around 3 am, the first groups of the main childer horde appeared from the north, sniffing for blood. Even in the dim light, Alpha Team could see the massive cloud of dust rising from thousands of clawed and cloven feet. Having survived the War of Flame, I am all-to-familiar with the horror of childer on the hunt.
Sergeant Blackstone elected to make their assault on the Builder supply lines just before the childer broke through their lines, rather than try to make their assault against two enemy forces. As the Builders were just waking to the threat in their rear, Alpha Team made a mad dash for the cluster of resting Calydoes that the Builders had enslaved to port their war supplies.
Alpha Teams assaulted under cover of night, sowing confusion as Sergeant Blackstone tunneled through the earth to the center of the enemy supplies. As the Builders turned on Alpha Team the horde exploded into their camps, wreaking havoc and drawing attention away from the Rangers. Using the distraction as cover, they assembled at the very center of 250 towering, slumbering Calydoes.
Sergeant Blackstone sent the call through Toma’s Mask.
Fifteen hundred meters south, I had spent most of the night assembling my strike teams. Our best lancers, and arcmancers cleared a “launching area” and assembled in a pre-arranged grid. Ten arclancer elites per arcmancer. Ten arcmancers for teleport. This would use up nearly all of our reserve crysarium, but if it worked, I prayed we would be amply rewarded. When the call came through signaled the arcmancers and in a flash of arcfire we appeared among the Calydoes, using Blackstone to guide us in. We hit as the Calydoes were waking to the scent of blood and the belows of their Childer bretheren tearing deep into the Builder rear.
My men spread out instantly, securing the area. Within moments, were were ready to teleport away. On my signal, the arcmancers triggered their devices and with another flash, we were gone, leaving the Builder army in a pitched battle with the horde. On our side, the bewildered beasts began to mill, some trying to break free from their control. In the center of all of this, a lone arcmancer wearing a strange device blinked in surprise. Having seen these devices before, I leveled my sword and gave him a simple choice. He elected to join our cause, and the Calydoes were quieted.
Alpha Team was dirty, shot out, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. After a brief moment of sincere gratitude, I sent them to the healers, then for food. Around them, our army began a pre-planned withdrawal. Two hundred and fifty Calydoes laden down with as many supplies as they could carry lumbered south with the van. While my Rangers rested before the hard march, and my army melted away into the mountains, I stood on a high peak and watched the enemy Builders turn their weapons north and battle the horde. As I watched, their camp devolved into a charnel house. But, they did not break.
Their movements were precise. The engines of war designed to obliterate my army cut swaths through the flesh and fur of the childer. I could smell the familiar putrid stench from as far away as our lines. For a moment, the early morning gloom turned to day as the Builders rained arcfire hell upon the forces of Flame. Neither side ever wavered.
They were still killing each other when the last of my army pulled up stakes and slipped away south with the dawn.
When the battle started, my forces numbered about 2500, all told. The enemy builders had near 5000, and the childer horde near 4000.
Now, who is to say, we gained 250 Calydoes and their supplies but lost nearly 200 holding the chasm. If we are very fortunate, the two forces will decimate each other while we put distance between us and them both. However, I have no illusions we will see the Builders AND the childer before ere long.
That said, this was a victory and an important one. Without the heroism of Alpha Team we would be lose once again. When we have a moment to breath and take stock, they are long overdue for recognition of their services.
As for me, I just want to sleep and dream of my wife and children.
To see them again…
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel