Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)
5th Day of Golden Eagle, Year 3128 Under the Light
After the Battle at the Chasm, our forced marched quickly south, making the best route through the mountains. The Maker, and many advisers believed, or rather hoped, that the Builder and childer forces had managed to destroy each other. I have my doubts. Despite the childer ambush, the Builder army was already deployed, and had access to teleportation. I have little doubt both forces were more than decimated, but we have likely not seen the last of either foe.
The Builders would not have continued hunting the Fallen Citadel were they not compelled by some greater influence. They seek not the defeat, but the utter annihilation of any who would ally with Shaintar, or at least the Southern Kingdoms. Our plight is clearly an example. They simply cannot allow our escape lest other Builder Citadels consider such.
And the Childer? They are beast of cunning instinct. Our combined forces, the enemy Builders and our own, represent a bounty of food greater than they have seen in perhaps a millennia. The Horde could eat well on our flesh. So, they will hunt until we or they are destroyed.
Falling Ice 6th, 3128
We marched out, pushing too far into the heat of the day, stopping only when forced by the intense heat of Norcan Darr’s blistering sun as we thread our way through the narrow defiles of the mountain range. Resting only during the hottest hours of the day, and coldest of the night, our column marched steadily south, down out of the mountains.
Falling Ice 34th, 3128
After roughly four weeks, we reached the southern extreme of the mountain range, where the lower ridges encountered the vast red desert, known as the Red Sand Sea, Red Wastes, or Red Death. There we camped, resting from the weeks of hard march. Of the enemy, nothing was seen. More and more the Builders were convinced they had been mutually destroyed. Still, I doubted.
On the morning of the 34th, I met with Alpha Team, after breakfast, and issued the following Promotions:
- Sergeant Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Sergeant Minor Blackstone
- Corporal Sir Egon Mansfried was promoted to Sergeant Mansfried
- RFC Gilbur Grimm was promoted to Corporal Grimm
- Ranger Cairn Gravelheart was promoted to RFC Gravelheart
- Ranger Malerie Softpaws was promoted to RFC Softpaws
- Lady Killian was given honorary promotion to RFC
- Lady Que’kasaars was given honorary promotion to RFC
The official business done, I discussed our future plans. With both forces bearing down upon us, as I still believe, my plan was to march into the Red Death. While we would have little protection from exposure, we would be on at least equal footing with the enemy. Even the Childer would suffer.
Moreover, the Builders would need to expend vast crysarium resources to keep their forces supplied. The Childer would begin to eat themselves. My hope, vain though it may be, was to stretch our own meagre supplies long enough to cross the desert to a position of greater strength.
I have a plan, such as it is. The Maker disagreed, believing that the enemy was no longer a threat. After all, we have not seen them for a month. But, I sense are dark presence compelling this conflict. The Builders are hunting us, and the Childer hunt the Builders.
We will stay ahead of both enemy forces, and make our way across the Wastes. If my plan works, we may well emerge victorious. At this, I order Corporal Grimm to begin brewing as many Environmental Protection potions as possible given our time, no more than three days.
I order the Explorer to being constructing wagon drawn Arcfire projectors not unlike those I had constructed in Echer’Naught. He also suggested replacing the Iron Golem’s missing arm with a spare golem arm. He and the Builder immediately got to work.
Corporal Grimm requested permission to begin harvesting alchemical components from the Calydoe porters. As much as I am loathe to use Flame-touched components, we are hardly able to be picky. It is a risk, but one we may have no choice.
The others re-equipped and re-armed from the supplies stolen from our enemies. RFC Gravelheart worked with Builders to construct a small still.
I spent hours pouring over ancient records, maps, and legends. Am I leading us to our deaths? Is it just my paranoia telling me that the enemy hunts us still. I can feel the Maker’s suspicious and resentment. They think I am faltering under the pressure and stress. Some days, I wonder the same.
But no, I can feel the malicious intent of the Builders bearing down on us. We must keep moving.
Fortunately, our prisoner, the packmaster of the Calydoes graciously provided us the identity of the enemy Builders, and their Citadel locations. We are regrettably far to removed to be of any threat, but we now know from whence these attacks originated, and who is behind the betrayal. In time, we may be able to repay in kind.
First Hunt, 4th, 3128
The Iron Golem sports a new copper arm, arcfire projector, and Builder control mount over its shoulder. The Make believes they can interface the arm directly to the golem, but it would take time we don’t have. Moreover, the Explorer revealed the first of his Arcfire Field Projector, a far more refined and elegant design than anything I have seen.
With our new ordinance, we marched out of camp heading south into the crimson sands. I put one of our two arcfire golems at the head of the column, and one at the rear. Softpaws’ modified iron golem supported our center, near the Calydoes.
The heat in the desert is hell. The sand burns. The air burns. The sky burns. Everything is red, hot, and angry. The sand is fine, clogging eyes, nose, and mouth. Nearly the entire column suffers from a hacking cough from dust lung, and the heat saps our strength.
But still, they soldier on. We march for nearly 5 weeks in endless, trackless wasteland. Every night we lose a few, to exposure, exhaustion, or desertion. But for the most part, we continue. I know the Maker has lost faith. He would betray me if he thought he would succeed. Mutiny is not far if we do not see some progress.
Each day of march seems futile as the sands simply shift and swirl around us. At least we have food, some water, and shelter such as it is.
Golden Eagle 2nd, 3128
One yet another day to trudging through the wastes, my Ranger scouts spot a dot on the horizon. A structure of some form. We set the column to march on that point.
Golden Eagle 3rd, 3128
We continued to approach, though the structure did not seem to grow in size overmuch. It was also impossible to make out any real details.
Golden Eagle 4th, 3128
By the 4th the structure finally came into some detailed view. There appeared to be a pyramidal structure with smaller pointed structures scattered around. Other objects appeared to lie in the sands.
Making out any greater detail seemed impossible. The sky is a lighter red, the sand a darker shade, and the structure just a bit darker still. The red seemed to blend together.
We trudged on into the night. The ground crunched oddly beneath our feet. The sand had turned sharp, and hard. Almost like the surface of a shattered pane of glass.
Golden Eagle 5th, 3128
In the morning, we could see clearly. The central structure was indeed a pyramid, but listing at a sharp angle. Two obelisks hundreds of meters high stuck out of the sand, while another lay on its side half buried.
The sand was course and fractured. Not like the smoother sands of the desert, and a darker, clotted blood color.
But, the main feature of the complex was the sheer size. The central pyramid was many times large than the largest tower in Echer’Naught, and most was certainly buried beneath the sands. Just the fallen tower itself could have housed the entire Ranger Corps with room for growth. What could construct such structures, and why here?
I ordered the column to camp in the shade of the towers, and sent Alpha Team forward to investigate the complex. Work progressed slowly as the Builders seemed in almost holy reverence for the structure. Even the Calydoes seemed agitated being so close. The Iron Golem refused to even approach, rather sitting along in the sands a distance away.
Even from where I stood, I could sense the waves of power radiating from the pyramid on a scale far greater than the Maker device while nearly destroyed Echer’Naught. As I watched, Alpha Team approached cautiously, slipping along the shadow of the fallen tower.
Softpaws padded ahead, but returned a short time later. I could not hear the team from a few hundred meters away, but there was a lengthy discussion before they begin to drop gear into the sands. Sergeant Mansfried stayed behind to guard. I suspected they elected not to bring overly magic items into such an intense Loci. The reaction might be…explosive.
As the sun fell behind the horizon and the temperature dropped rapidly, Alpha Team scaled the tip of the pyramid and disappeared through what appeared to a hole near the top.
They were gone for a bit over an hour. My first indicating that there was a problem was our picket shouting. I roused and started toward the pyramid. From somewhere ahead, Softpaws managed to contact me via Toma’s mask. The connection was garbled, and the background magic painful, but I gathered we had severely wounded incoming.
Before sprinting in that direction, I ordered the camp to establish a perimeter, then made my way toward where Mansfried stood. Each step closer to the pyramid grew labored as the power emanating intensified. By the time i reached Mansfried, my ears rang. And I was still several hundred yards away.
I can only imagine how intense the power was inside the pyramid. I saw a grim faced Blackstone sprinting toward me with the limp form of Lady Que’kassars clutched in his arms. My heard sank.
He reached me, panting, as he passed her over. I laid her down gently and summoned my power to heal her wounds. There was an instant and intense reaction. The ensuing explosion of power hurled me unceremoniously on my arse. But, it worked. Her wounds started to close.
It took another 45 minutes to get the rest of the team back to the camp. Arwen, The Explorer, and Gravelheart were down. Most of the others bloodied, badly. Once healing had been applied, Sergeant Minor Blackstone provided a report.
The team had approached to within a few hundred yards of the central pyramid when those blessed with arcane powers felt the same intense pressure I had felt. RFC Softpaws reported that when she pushed forward Toma’s mask started vibrating violently. When she withdrew back to the staging point, the mask’s vibrations decreased. Sergeant Minor Blackstone ordered RFC Softpaws to attempt to contact me via the mask, but the backlash nearly caused her to blackout.
At this point the team realized they could not take most of their magic artifacts closer to the pyramid. The laced weapons had such trace amounts of whitesilver, they were safe, but anything remotely powerful was dropped for Sergeant Mansfried to guard. Taking the bare minimum, the team approach the pyramid. There was a hole bored through the pyramid higher up. Corporal Grimm managed to rig a system for RFC Gravelheart to fire a grapple through the hole. From there, the team was able to ascend.
The hole was large enough for RFC Softpaws’ golem to stand inside. The “wall” of the pyramid was some twelve meters thick. The material was some form of metallic stone, absent seems. Almost at if it had been molded to form and hardened. There were no tool marks.
The interior was cavernous. After tossing a torch below, some 16 meters below, the team rigged a rope system and lowered themselves into the interior. Here, the magical pressure was intense. Even the whitesilver vibrated. Spreading out, they found themselves in a sandy room canted at a sharp angle. RFC Softpaws found set of stairs and after climbing, discovered a huge chair molded from the same material. Here, the Rangers began to perceive enemy troops skulking around the room.
One by one, the team either engaged or fled their perceived enemies. RFC Softpaws saw a Builder. RFC Killian saw a wild tainted creature. RFC Que’kasaars and Corporal Grimm both believed they were under attack by arclancers. Some also saw strange demons which first attacked RFC Softpaws, and then RFCs Gravelheart and Killian.
The battle was intense, but it seemed the high level of background magic, or something to do with the device itself, was playing tricks on the team. They accidentally perceived each other as enemies. Only the demons were real. But these were no normal Infernal beasts, these had been “infected” with arcfire. They were greatly enhanced and when defeated, exploded in arcflashes. The Explorer explained that during his brief examination of the stairs and seat he saw that crysarium was etched into the very material of the pyramid. He claimed the entire structure was one enormous arcfire device.
They suspected the demons had been further altered by long term exposure to the high magical energy of the pyramid.
After the battle, Sergeant Minor Blackstone attempted to heal a badly wounded RFC Que’kasaars, but her wounds were too grievous. From that point, her extraction was the focus of the team.
The last trick played upon their minds was the “disappearance” of the hole, but they managed to overcome, rig a belaying system, and medilift RFC Que’kassars out. From there, Sergeant Minor Blackstone carried her away from the pyramid to me.
I nearly lost several members of the team to an ancient and unknowable horror. However…my plans hinged upon accurate navigation in the Red Wastes. And, this structure was a key signpost. The ancient records spoke of the city. We know where the mountains were, roughly, and now we know where the ancient ruins lie. With this, we also know where our enemy strongholds lie, so far away. And more…
My plan is reckless, but with the Ascended’s Blessing, and Celesia’s strength, we may indeed escape this hell. Some of us at least.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel