Campaign of the Month: June 2018

Shaintar Legends Awaken: Rangers of the Greenway Road; Regional Command-Echer'Naught

Campaign Report 127
Moving the Maker's Machine

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Barony, Olara

17th Day of White Stagg, Year 3127 Under the Light

Much happened in my absence from the city. I find that I am away far too often, but duty calls. What follows details the events within Echer’Naught leading to my assuming command of Alpha Team, and our preparations to depart on a long ranging mission to secure the Maker device.

White Stagg 1st, 3127

3AM

Once operations were under control, I climbed out of the mines and joined Major Hawksclaw. We gathered my personal guard, and with, Ma’avi Fr’eki in our company, headed north and west to a campsite used by Ma’avi when he ventured to Echer’Naught prior to our meeting. Apparently the demon had tracked him there. As ONLY Ma’avi could have any recollection of the remote camp, it would prove to the demon that he was in fact facing the right man.

Why such a being cared for such things, I cannot say. But we left, riding hard, to rescue Eris Moonsilver.

Even as I was riding out of the West “Elven” Gate, Alpha Team was just being relieved from duty. Though it may not have occurred to the Rangers, as exhausted as they were, Alpha Team had been on active call since well before dawn on the 33rd. In fact, they were approaching 24 hrs of near constant duty.

As soon as the peril passed, fatigue overcame them. Each staggered to whatever rest suited them. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah managed the Sacred Grove before collapsing. She was joined in the grove by Rangers First Class McKenzie Shan and Ingrid Snow. Though, not I understand together. The sister-wives were checking on RFC McKenzie’s bear companion, Volstagg.

Corporal Arimar Blackstone retired to the dwarven run Forgehome Inn. With many of the paying guests evacuating during the attack, the Inn was mostly empty. Forced from their Embassy, the dwarves of Stahlheim rented the entire Inn as their new, temporary facilities. There, Blackstone’s wife, Ruby, had been sent. He retired to be with her.

The Explorer returned immediately to the temporary Regional command tents, namely those of the Builders and Siegemaster Whit. I am told the Explorer found a cot not far from the Arcmancer table and slept in armor, fearing straying to far from the events unfolding.

RFCs Egon Mansfried and Gilbur Gil Grimm retired to the Yomenie Curu Academy. Apparently, Grimm is now a visiting professor of Alchemy in Ash’s grand Magic school. Sir Mansfried was there merely to continue his assignment of keeping tabs on Grimm.

RFC Ranna retired to Murvoth’s Chapel of the Silver Unicorn. From what I heard, she staggered in, collapsed in the garden and fell asleep. Not knowing proper protocal, the Silver Paladins posted a guard and waited for her to wait.

It is strange. This iteration of Alpha Team is not so dissimilar from the past. After hard fought battles, we would also retire to our own endeavors. There is something oddly comforting about that. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

1PM

Having slept many hours, the team began to trickle back into command. More or less. All members naturally returned after an extended period of no communication from command. RFCs Shan and Snow rather went in search of Shan’s rat friend, “Chuckles.” I do not believe they ever found him.

In my absence, clearing the mines and securing the device fell to Colonel Anderson. With Alpha Team’s return, he scheduled a meeting in a house on the north side of Main Street which had been rented to provide secure locations. Since none could located RFCs Shan and Snow, Colonel Anderson tasked one of the Ranger Adepts to make contact.

Eris Moonsilver’s abduction and absence greatly hindered any operations. We have grown so accustomed to her ready access that sustaining operations with our out of commission has revealed a glaring weakness in our battle readiness. Every available telepathic Adept and Farspeaker were secured to establish lines of communication.

The wayward Rangers were located somewhere on the south east part of the city and commanded to return to the temporary HQ. Once there, Colonel Anderson was able to brief them on the situation.

He informed the Alpha Team that Lt. Eris Moonsilver was unavailable for the duration. Though, per orders, any further information was gagged. On top of our numerous issues, the last thing we wanted was to invite attack from enemies preying on our weakness in Moonsilver’s absence.

Colonel Anderson also explained some of what happened in the mines. We cannot say where the menagerie of creatures originated, but, again, the prevailing theory is that they were translocated due to unforeseen side effect of the Maker’s mass teleportation. This is merely a theory, and one of many. Nevertheless, despite our victory over the Builders, and the Maker, we still faced a large infestation beneath the city. Conservative estimates calculate 3-4 months before the mines are safe for any meaningful exploration.

As for the Maker’s device. I ordered that it be secured and tasked my own guard to see to it. I know all too well that the vultures will soon circle, not to mention our enemies. The sooner we relocated and secure the device the better. Unfortunately, some effect of the aborted spell cause the device to drastically increase in weight, almost as if it were anchoring itself in place?

Plans were already in the works to remove the device from the mines, but the would take time. And then, it would have to be moved quickly and secured against possible capture by enemy forces. All amidst the chaos of the city’s collapse and the monsters still roaming the mines.

Alpha Team, however, had earned some rest. So, they were put on light duty until such time as the device could be moved. At which point, they would be assigned to the device’s security detail.

Oh, and they were notified that the rich crysarium mines were owned my Sir Calaban Rabenklau. I can only imagine how well that was received. Of the city regulars encountered by the Rangers, only Sir Halten was more disliked than Sir Rabenklau. I only hope the Rangers can learn to overcome their prejudice because we will be working far more closely with both Sir Halten and Sir Rabenklau here on in.

In addition to owning rights to the mines, Sir Rabenklau has also contracted many of the Stormguard in the city to provide additional security. That decision was NOT well received by High Command, but there is little we can do. His mines are private property and the Stormguard have a working understanding of crysarium. Also, as he pointed out, it is better to employ them gainfully than to battle them in the streets.

Still, I feel there is something else at work.

Alpha Team was dismissed to make personal arrangements.

White Stagg 2nd, 3127

The day after, the assembled commanders met to dissect the battle and to develop strategies to counter another potential assault. Colonel Anderson, Captain Vasser, Commander Schenkle, Sir Halten, and many other were in attendance. Due to his command of the Rangers after my sudden, and involuntary, departure, Sir Mansfried was also invited to contribute his thoughts on the battle.

As I understand, RFC Grimm joined him and was required to sit on a bench the rest of the day while Sir Mansfried conferenced with the commanders. I only regret that I was not at the meeting, but my son, Alfred, was and he made sure to memorize all necessary detail. With the mines open, we now have an entirely new front in the city to defend.

To his credit, Sir Mansfried acquitted himself admirably. All attending spoke well of his contributions. I know that Sir Halten has taken an interest in the young Ranger. It is no secret that Sir Halten would prefer to exclude entry into Echer’Naught Rangers all but Humans and dwarves. The latter he only accepts due to Royal policy. In fact, I am certain Sir Halten would exclude women as well.

It was also on the 2nd that RFC Ranna requested honorable discharge from the Rangers. Her experiences have changed her. First, losing Grendel. Then gaining the Blood Witch’s corruption. Then finding herself pregnant with his child. Now, her near death, or death, experience has altered her in ways we cannot fully understand.

And so, she spend the day filing the necessary paperwork to officially leave the Rangers on the 6th of White Stagg. She joined Alpha Team Festival Moons 8th, 3126. She has served the Rangers for 1 year and five months. During that time, she served under Captain Volstagg, Sergeant Grendel, and Sergeant Sssahlissstaah. Ranna battled across the desert, defeated a Xaos god, fought her way out of Kal’Montak’s Blood Pits, escaped the Kal, battled Tempest and the Blood Witch, saved A’Morgal, and most recently Echer’Naught itself. She found love, lost her mate, and gained a child. So much has happened. I can understand her need to leave and chart her own course. I only hope she knows that wherever she goes, she is, and will always be, a member of Alpha Team.

White Stagg, 4th, 3127

Reports from the west gate inform me that early on the 4th, they were surprised by RFCs Shan and Snow arriving on battlements, looking expectantly into the west. Their Life Bond with Steelwing alerted them both to his impending arrival. Moments later, the aevakar arrived himself, though much changed.

It seems that during his encounter with Novri in Almahrad, the Emissary saved him from death, but not without drastically altering him physically, and perhaps more. His wings are now a shiny white silver, his eyes as well. Though he appears to have the same attitude as before, Ranger Adepts were tasked to examine him for…other…changes. None were found, though I am not entirely sure we would be able to tell.

At least his wives were happy for his return. Or I assume. I know how little Lady Wolfhaven enjoys my extended absences. So, I can imagine their relief at seeing him alive warred with their frustration at his rash actions.

At Steelwing’s return, Sergeant Sssahlissstaah assembled the Alpha’s for another meeting in the prepared rooms near the temporary HQ. There, Steelwing explained his actions on the mountain and informed the team that Novri had fallen in battle against Captain Volstagg. But, Novri was not killed by Volstagg. Rather, Aronzo the werewolf with Blood Witch allies took custody of Novri, payment for his attack on Gram Gram’s warband. This was all negotiated by the Emissary who took possession of Aronzo’s cloak in exchange.

Hearing of Novri’s defeat is all to the good, but I am unsure about dealing with the Blood Witch’s forces. Nevertheless, the Emissary has discretion in Almahrad and routinely acts in interests contrary to those of the East. However, with threats looming from outside our Realm, it is imperative that we gain cooperation from many of the independent factions within Shaintar. And so, the Emissary continues forging relations.

Here, Ranna delivered her own news, informing Alpha Team that she would be leaving the Rangers by the end of the week, on the 6th. She was not the only departure. Ingrid Snow requested maternity leave until delivery of her child. And, with her, McKenzie Shan and Steelwing requested transfers to the Echer’Naught garrison so that they might remain with their wife. Steelwing also intimated that he had a higher calling to protect Ingrid’s child, given the intervention of the Emissary in facilitating the unprecedented union of a human and an aevakar.

With so many departures, the Rangers elected to host a general going away party at the Wayfarer’s rest after duty on the 6th. I regret that I could not attend. However, I was occupied elsewhere.

With new Rangers to be added to the team, Sergeant Sssahlissstaah wisely requested that Sir Mansfried speak with Sir Halten on the team’s behalf and arrange training for the upcoming mission.

White Stagg 6th, 3127

After duty hours, the Alpha Team retired to the Wayfarer’s Rest for a well deserved celebration. There, in one of the restaurants back rooms, the team joined for a proper send off for Ranna, Shan, McKenzie, and Steelwing. However, the surprises were not done.

In a particular display of generosity, the Explorer gifted Ranna with an arcfire gauntlet weapon. I’ve since been briefed on the schematics. Powered by a backpack generator, the gauntlet fires beams or blasts of arcfire. It is truly a masterpiece, and bespoke for Ranna. He calls it the “Deus Ex Mogina” in homage to her Great Crossbow Mog. I know that she has dedicated herself to ridding the land of Gram Gram and her warband. And NOW she has the tools to do so.

Afterwards, the team drank and laughed long into the night. It truly is the simple things.

Before departing that eve, Blackstone presents one final gift, a heartstone from the recently discovered bedrock beneath the city. To always remind her of home.

White Stagg 7th, 3127

In the morning, I am aware that the Alpha Team command staff, Sergeant Sssahlissstaah, Corporal Blackstone, and RFC Mansfried had a meeting with Sir Halten. He informed them of the training scheduled, and that they would be receiving new team members to replace their recent losses.

I find Sir Halten more accommodating when there is a human, Olaran knight within the command staff for the team. But, to his credit, he tasked his own men to set up a training camp north of the city at the Festival Grounds.

When the Rangers arrived, they found the Olarans already in place and waiting. Meanwhile, at the local Ranger HQ, replacements were already being routed. Two had arrived in Echer’Naught.

The first, Cairn Gravelheart, dwarf, was but a trainee, but showed great promise. The other, Malerie Softpaws is well known to the Ranges. She previously served on Beta team under my son, Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven. She survived Beta Teams “destruction.” Since then she has floated. Now, she has returned to the city, taken the oaths, and been transferred as a scout to Alpha Team.

Alfred personally walked Softpaws to the team’s training site. At a bit before noon, Alpha Team began their training. I must say I am impressed with Halten’s attention to training, though I suspect he rather enjoyed beating up on the team.

To help the Rangers, the Olarans had set up a wagon on one end of the jousting arena. They were instructed to set up their perimeter, and try and cross the grounds. The Olarans would try to stop them. Simple.

On the first day, the Olarans threw at them nine foot tall Animated suits of armor which allied Stone Singers and druids repaired in battle.

White Stagg 8th, 3127

On day two, the Olarans used their stone druids to open the earth and swallow the cart along with the Rangers.

White Stagg 9th, 3127

On day three, they unveiled wagon mounted Hammerfall Heavy crossbows and unleashed a fusillade of fire.

White Stagg 10th, 3127

On day four, the Olarans requested assistance from my Order, the Hammerfall Riders. Before reaching the halfway mark, a dozen riders tore through them, disabling the wagon.

White Stagg 11th, 3127

On the fifth day of training, the Olarans changed tactics entirely. The Halten Sergeant at Arms used an invisibility spell to approach the wagon, then detonated the team with an arcfire bomb. That effectively ended training.

White Stagg 12th, 3127

The 6th day was given to rest, and preparation, as Ranger engineers were almost ready to move the Maker machine.

White Stagg 13th, 3127

In the morning, Colonel Anderson and Sir Halten met with the Rangers, informing the team that they would be moving the engine by that night. To increase security, Alpha Team was joining Beta, and members of Epsilon (engineers), and Gamma (guards) to cordon off the recovery site.

Lt. Wolfhaven had situation command, deploying the teams as needed for overlapping coverage. High Towne by this point had been entirely evacuated. All teams were divided into pairs and assigned alternating patrol routes. Ash and other mages provided spells of protection and concealment. Every effort was made to deter and thwart prying eyes.

9PM

At 9PM, Nell provided a thick fog, enhanced by High Magic concealment spells from Ash and other mages.

10PM

Within an hour, visibility within High Towne was effectively eliminated. During this window, the Maker’s machine was carefully winched out of the hole via a trio of Stahlheim cranes formerly used to repair the breach in the walls. Capable of moving several tonnes apiece, they, along with magical assistance, managed to raise the machine out of the mines onto a waiting dwarven wagon.

11PM

By 11, all was set. The fog was lifted, and team moved to their escort positions.

12:30Pm

It took time, but the route out of the city was cleared and secured. The Explorer was assigned to personally monitor the machine as it rolled north.

13th hour

At the outset of the 13th hour, the wagon was rolling out of the city north, on toward its final destination. Alpha Team provide close support, while Wolfhaven Free Riders ranged out, screening the column. Though, it was very slow going.

They camped a distance from the city in a pre-fortified camp. Every night after, the wagon was secured in camps fortified prior to their arrival.

White Stagg 16th, 3127

Late on the 3rd day of travel, the wagon and escorts arrived at the Wolfhaven Barony north of the city. Here, the Maker Machine was secured within the walls, and the Alpha Team and other escorts were relieved of duty. All but the Explorer, who I do not believe would have willingly left his post.

I was on hand to greet the team, having arrived a few days prior after my mission to rescue Eris Moonsilver. That evening, I hosted the alpha Team. Dining with them and explaining more about their mission.

The Maker device was too valuable to store even at the Barony. Not only that, but it made my home a target. And so, it was to be moved, in secret, to another location. The Alpha Team would be tasked with escorting the device to its new home. The mission would be long, and there was no guarantee of return.

However, I would not send the team on such a mission lightly. And so, to ensure the device arrived safely, I would accompany the team on the assignment. If my Rangers do not return, nor will I. After delivering this dire news, I dismissed them and went to my wife.

Having just returned, she was not pleased that I would be leaving again, and this time for an indeterminate time, but she is an Olaran, by adoption if not birth. She accepted my resolve with equanimity. We were able to offer Corporal Blackstone some piece of mind. We understood the tense political situation involving his wife. The recent attack on Echer’Naught and her relocation had not helped matters.

And so, my wife extended an invitation to spend the intervening time here at the Barony. We offered the services of the House Farspeaker. Ruby Blackstone agreed immediately. I expect her to arrive no later that the 18th.

However, we will be long gone by that time.

In fact, we leave before dawn tomorrow. So, I enjoyed one last evening with my wife. What pains me most is to know that I will very likely not return in time to see the birth of my child. The Baroness is certain that she will be due either late this winter, or very early spring.

It is only at such times I consider the possibility of retiring. But what if I should? What if the next great invasion is not stopped? How could I live with knowing I abandoned a thousand mothers and children to death for the sake of my own happiness?

No, though my heart breaks, in the morning I will kiss my wife goodbye, perhaps for the last time, and leave my unborn child. If I am unwilling to sacrifice, how can I ask others to do so?

Archanon, Lord of Light, and Celesia, Silver Unicorn, please bless this venture. Success could turn these wars in our favor. I cannot contemplate failure.

White Stagg 17th, 3127

I woke this morning, without having slept. My Rangers break their fast. I order them to leave behind cloaks and pins. On this journey, our green will offer no protections.

Before we leave, I allow each time to attend to personal matters. For me, I return to say goodbye to Elyanna, and to kiss little Will.

It is time.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Wofhaven Barony, Olara

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Campaign Report 126 (Addendum)
Saving Eris Moonsilver

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Barony, Olara

4th Day of White Stagg, Year 3127 Under the Light

I have returned from rescuing Lady Eris Moonsilver. She is safe, though not unscathed. Nor is Hawksclaw. The primrose path is paved with the best of intentions. And, I am to blame. Always to blame.

White Stagg 1st, 3127
With the ground still shaking, I abandoned my city to save my family. the choices we make. They define us, and haunt us.

We rode hard, north west. I, Major Hawksclaw, and Ma’avi Fr’ek. May personal guard rode behind, but I hoped not to put them in danger. Despite their desire otherwise.

No, this was my burden. I agreed to shelter Ma’avi. It was, I thought, the kind choice. The right choice. Fate has a way of turning such intention to ash.

So, we rode. Two days. Stopping only to rest the horses. Hawksclaw said little. I could fee his anger. It mirrored my own. He was angry with me, and Ma’avi. I only raged at myself.

White Stagg 3rd, 3127
We arrived at the burned down husk of a manor home hugging the Elven forests. Presumably Ma’avi had camped here before. I never asked.

I knew this family. They had many daughters. None survived when the Kal attacked Echer’Naught. So many dead. And there, once again, Flame invaded this place.

The demon, in the guise a man, perched atop a lone outbuilding. Flanking both sides, Reaver demons. In the distance, hidden among the rubble, I could feel others, and Eris. She was unconscious. Otherwise, they would all be gone.

Leaving my guard behind, I, with Ma’avi and Hawksclaw proceeded on foot. It galled me, still burns, to have made any deal with a demon, even if unwittingly. But, I am a man of my word, and despite the fact that a demon’s word means nothing, my honor does. So, I delivered Ma’avi as he had promised.

My goal. My ONLY goal was to see Eris safe. So, I addressed the beast, and told him that I would be taking Eris. If he stepped aside, I would not involve myself in his spat with Ma’avi. But one it was concluded, I would wipe his filth from my lands. So he had best flee.

Surprinsgly, he offered her up, with the understanding that I would not prevent his arranged meeting with Ma’avi. I would never have considered, but Ma’avi, for better or worse, seemed content to honor his end. And so, I teleported to where I could feel Eris. She was trapped in bonds of Thaumaturgy, surrounded by Childer and a pair of powerful Acolytes. But, they did as ordered, and stood aside.

Behind me, I could hear the sounds of battle. Though I felt Hawksclaw’s power, he seemed to be holding back. I focused on reviving Eris. Which may, more may NOT, have been wise.

The Childer and Acolytes still hovered, I could feel their desire to kill like a heat against my back, but I ignored them. Eris was all that mattered. Tapping into my strength, I poured healing energies into her.

Somewhere in the distance, Ma’avi cried in pain, and the Demon laughed in triumph.

…and then Eris’ eyes snapped open, glowing bright blue.

I woke, sometime later. The echo of Life and The Way washing over me. Eris was alive, somewhere, and Hawksclaw with her. I THINK they teleported, but I was too dazed to focus on what I was sensing.

All around me, I could smell blood. Climbing to my feet, I surveyed a field of utter carnage. Every Childer and Acolyte was dead. Their eyes burst from their skulls, bleeding from torn sockets, ears, mouth, and nose.

Eris.

My ears rang, my vision swam, and my head felt like it was being crushed in a vice. I staggered back to the battlefield. Ma’avi was unconscious, but not apparently wounded. The demon was gone, and the reavers blood splatters on the walls.

I revived Ma’avir, and explained that his deal with, and loss against, the demon meant that the entire Abyss would be hunting him. I could not bring that upon the people of my city, or my house. But, that I would help him as I could. If Ceynara’s minions caught him, his soul was forfeit.

There was another way. An out. I could send him beyond even Ceynara’s reach. The same offer I made to Von D, and to Streetrunner. Ma’avi declined, though I wonder if he will regret doing so when his sins finally overtake him.

We camped that night with my personal guard. I provided him what I could, but suggested he avoid the city.

White Stagg 4th, 3127

I learned via channels, that Hawksclaw and Eris appeared in the sacred grove that same day. Eris was alive and unharmed, physically. Hawksclaw, I am unsure. I departed with my personal guard, leaving Ma’avi to walk his own path. By nightfall, we reached the Wolfhaven Barony. Baroness Elyanna waited.

It is good to be home, but I fear my path only grows more difficult.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Wofhaven Barony, Olara

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Campaign Report 126
Attack on High Town; Part Two (Five Year Anniversary Game)

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Temporary Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Filed: White Stagg 1st, 3127

Bittersweet. There is no other word. We held the line against the Builders coming to destroy our home. We defeated the monsters in the darkness. Even our fallen comrades came to join us in our final hour. And yet, our victory was not without cost. Much of High Towne suffered severe damage, and the mines beneath present a constant threat of further collapse. Worse, the mines are still teeming with creatures beyond horror. But worst of all, due to my blind willingness to aide an ally, Eris Moonsilver was taken captive by a demon bent on revenge against a guest of House Wolfhaven.

Thunder Hawk 16th, 3127
Weeks before we even knew of the attack on Echer’Naught, I received a personal request from Major Hawksclaw to join him on an outing. For two years, Hawksclaw suffered at the hands of Velkalar while his Alpha Team battled on, under the command of Sergeant Evoran Que’kasaars. I too was gone, beyond this life, after being struck down by darkness, but for less than a year.

Hawksclaw rotted in a hole while his friends died. By the time we found and rescued him, nearly everyone he knew was dead or gone. And no matter how many reports he read, there was always a question, a hole in his heart where Evoran had been. I have the same wound, many times over.

So, at my friend’s request, I cleared a few days off my schedule, much to my staff’s dismay, and I rode out at dawn, passing through North Gate as it opened. Idly I wondered if any of the guards, City or Ranger, saw me through my rather thin disguise. Though, I find that outside of my armor, and without my retinue, I am seldom recognized. People see the power and position, rarely the man.

Stopping on the rise just north of the city, I paused in the morning mist to watched the flow of traffic into the city while waiting for Hawksclaw. I did not have long to wait. He rode out, similarly disguised, a short time later and joined me.

Still within sight of the walls, we kept quite, riding in mostly silence. In an emergency, I could have reached Evoran’s Sacred Grove within the day. But, we were in no hurry. And so, we made our way slowly along the North Barony Road. At night, we pulled off the road and made camp. Just we two.

Memories flooded back. Missions, patrols, drinks at the HQ. For a bit, it was like old time.

Thunder Hawk 17th, 3127
We rose before dawn, cleared our camp, and left barely a trace. Rain pattered down. It was damp and gray. Perfect.

Now clear of the public road, Hawksclaw and I were free to talk, though it was mostly just banter. At some point, he decided to challenge me to a race. It was a friendly competition, and I quite enjoyed the exercise. Thunder won, but it was hardly a fair contest. Hawksclaw rode an elvish pony, and I a Harken Masterbreed Warhorse.

I cannot recall the last time I have simply rode for the joy of riding. That thought makes me sad.

By dusk, we arrived at the east ridge overlooking the grove’s valley. I’ve been there before, but I was not at the battle. I had to rely on the Rangers still living a the time to tell me what happened.

The Ranger’s original Olaran allies died there, below the ridge. RFC Benjamin Toma died alone, laid out below the far rock ridge. Hundreds of men and women spilled their life’s blood across the field before the battle was ended by Evoran’s ultimate sacrifice. So much loss for an empty field of flowers. It’s always that way.

In the center of the field, half way between the ridge and the rocks, Evoran’s Sacred Grove. We camped the night there, overlooking the grove. The mood was solemn. Little was said. Hawksclaw seemed deep in thought. I certainly was.

Thunder Hawk 18th, 3127
In the morning, we ventured into the valley on foot. By the time we reached the trees, an Eldakar druid stood waiting. He ignored me, instead bowing to Hawksclaw, welcoming a fellow follower of Landra. Only the, after Hawksclaw vouched for me, did the elf acknowledge my presence, if barely.

It was rather refreshing, actually.

Entering the grove was…unique. Not like Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove. But, beautiful. In a bit less than a year, the druids had grown hundreds of massive 200+ foot tall Everwood trees from the burned sapling of Evoran’s tree.

And then, we were there. In the center of the grove, the largest tree. An everwood 300+ feet tall, wrapped in massive rose vine. The thorns alone are 3 feet long and sharp enough to carve Olaran plate.

I waited as Hawksclaw approached the tree. From my distance, I could not hear what he said to Evoran, but the trees rustled, almost as if whispering, and then an acorn the size of a man’s head nearly caved in Hawksclaw’s head as it fell. I did hear a bit of Hawksclaw’s snap at Evoran’s tree, but I’ll refrain from recording here. I could tell the Druids were getting edgy. I take it they don’t get much company, so I stepped up to say my piece.

Sergeant Que’kasaars gave his life to save his team, and hundreds of women and men. There is no greater sacrifice. I have long felt he deserved recognition for his act of bravery. Though his own pin was immolated in his death, I had the Ranger smiths forge a Range Cloak clasp that would stand the test of time. Placing it against the rough bark, I offered silent thanks to a fallen friend, and hero. I felt power flow through hand, warming my palm. When I withdrew my hand, the metal was seared into the bark, a permanent reminder of Evoran’s service. One a member of Alpha Team, always a member.

Our mission accomplished, Hawksclaw and I headed back to our camp, packed, and rode away. The vacation had been pleasant, but duty called. We made good time headed back. By the time we stopped on the 18th, we were almost in sight of the walls.

Thunder Hawk 19th, 3127
At mid-day, Major Hawksclaw and I arrived at Echer’Naught. We made it almost to Center Pointe before we were spotted by an panicked adjutant who “flustered” over. Until that moment, I was not aware that word was a verb. Our cover blown, we shook hands and parted ways. He south to the City HQ, and I north to the Regional.

Raining Leaves 12th, 3127
A man came to me from the west. We have mutual acquaintances. Ma’avi Fr’eki requested to enter my House’s service. There was a small catch. While serving behind lines in the Empire, Fr’eki crossed swords with a demon. Numerous times, I believe. During the last encounter, instead of killing, or being killed, by the demon, he arranged to meet the demon in a year. And, it appeared that the appointed day would be Raining Leaves 18th, 3127. Though I disagreed with making a deal with the demon, I have sworn to protect Light and Life. And so, I invited Fr’eki into my House as a guard. Watch was posted about the city for the demon. Preparations were made to confine and defeat the demon when it appeared.

In the meantime, Ma’avi agreed to remain within the protected grounds of the Wolfhaven Manor. We could not allow his confrontation with the demon to cost collateral casualties. I never imagined how poorly my good intentions would go.

Raining Leaves 18th, 3127
We suspect the Revenge demon arrived in the city, on the 18th, or somewhat before. We HOPED to lure it into the open where he could be isolated. I did not trust it, regardless of its “assurances” to Ma’avi. But, it was clever, too clever. My watchers never spied it, and we could not initiate a more thorough search without tipping our hands, and potentially endangering others. In hindsight, we should have expected something. In this, I failed. And Eris, Samira and their families paid the price.

Harvest Moons 16th, 3127
On the 16th, I invited the Alpha Team, family, and friends to a Harvest meal at the Manor House. My wife was in her element, checking and rechecking preparations. I’ve said it before, but she commands our domestic staff better than any field commander in the heat of battle. She is a marvel. Mostly, I tried to stay our of her way, and work through the daily mounds of paperwork.

That eve we were joined by every active duty member of Alpha Team, and their spouses, most former members who were nearby, and their spouses, and friends of the team over the years. Commander Schenkle attended with Sara on his arm. Sergeant Ravenwood-Regillus attended with Sir Regillus. Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven joined us with is fiance, Evelyn Afliem. It was the first time really seeing her as her work is now mostly at the Legion Keep. Others attended, too many to name. But, the house was filled with laughter and light.

Before the meal, I had a surprise announcement. Neither Alfred nor his bride are interested in fame or the glare of public life. So, they chose to affirm their union in private, without great fanfare, at a private dinner with those they love and respect. To no one’s surprise, apparantly, I announced their wedding. The simple ceremony was conducted their in the feast hall, officiated by an elven druid I have never met, but known to Eve. With a few words, their hands were bound in the elvish way.

When the silken rope, wound their wrists, I felt a pulse of power that made my head dizzy. Their aura’s flared, glowed, and then merged. I am no expert at such things, but I believe they Life Bonded in that moment. Alfred never spoke to me of this, but he is his own man. He understands the risks. So often, we are caught between our personal love and our duty. Should Hawksclaw have bound to Eris? His absence nearly destroyed her. And yet, who am I to deny my Rangers a life? Do I have that authority?

After the wedding, we feasted and toasted the new couple. Evelyn was radiant. Alfred seemed happier than I have seen him in…years. I wished them all the happiness they could find, knowing all too well how fleeting such moments may be. And then, the crowds went home and I remained to drink quietly with my son. I was struck by a pang of regret that my own father did not live long enough to experience my own wedding, to see my joy. Until this moment, I had not realized how much he had been robbed.

My feelings were mixed that night as I lay to sleep. Though, rest eluded me for some time. We ask too much of our Rangers. They sacrifice everything, and deserve so much more. They deserve happiness. I only wish it were in my power to grant it.

Harvest Moons 25th, 3127
I discovered only afterwards that RFC Steelwing arrived in Almahrad almost at dusk on the 25th. He managed to toss a letter into Volstagg’s Ranger compound. I have not read the contents, nor will I likely ever do so, but essentially, RFC Steelwing knew that the Winghunter Novri was close. Steelwing was too wounded to survive a fight, and Novri would never engage if he sensed a trap. So, Steelwing asked for Captain Volstagg to come alone, though have backup nearby in case of the worst.

To his credit, Captain Volstagg came to the aid of a fellow Ranger, but he had the wisdom to notify the Rangers, the Prince, and the Emissary. When he arrived, I am told, Steelwing was near death. One wing severed at the joint. But, he was alive. Volstagg went to help him, when Novri, seeing the Captain alone, attempted to assassinate him quickly, before finishing Steelwing. I cannot fathom his reasons as Sir Volstagg is one of the better known duelist produced by the Rangers.

Nevertheless, the two men battled furiously, each grievously wounding the other. A chance blow by Novri nearly skewered the Captain, but Steelwing dove between in a final act, trading his own life to give Volstagg an opening. The Crimson Knight did not fail, running Novri through with his sword. This SHOULD have ended things. But, it was very much the beginning.

Before Captain Volstagg can apprehend or finish Novri, he was stopped by agents of the Blood Witch. Led a by a Morden Vampire, the group consisted of several werewolves, Nightguard, and former Ranger, Aronzo. Or, more appropriately, the werewolf abomination that Aronzo became. They demanded Novri for interrogation and execution. I am aware that during the events surrounding Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna’s capture by the Blood Ogress, Gram Gram, and their escape, Novri, who had also been imprisoned by the Blood Witch’s brood, launched a devastating fire attack on the Blood Witch camp. For that, they had dispatched their new ally, the werewolf Aronzo to hunt down and capture Novri.

At this same time, another group materialized. This, the Emissary, Corporal Leora Nazir, and RFC Newt. Though I am unsurprised by the Emissary’s arrival, I am concerned about her actions. She offered Novri to the Morden Vampire in exchange for Aronzo’s corrupted High Magic arcfire cloak. The loss of that item after Aronzo’s corruption and fall concerned me greatly, though I do not know if I would have given up Novri in exchange. Nevertheless, the Morden Vampire conceded, despite vastly superior numbers and turned over the cloak in exchange for Novri. They promised an excruciating death for the Winghunter, though I wonder if it will come to that?

The Emissary then healed Captain Volstagg’s wounds, and, apparently, returned Steelwing from the dead. However, in doing so, altered him forever. Captain Volstagg reported that Steelwing’s wings are now whitesilver. I imagine there are other, less obvious alterations as well. Though he wears a Ranger Cloak, Steelwing is now the Emissary’s agent. I find that happening all too frequently for comfort. We are allied, but I wonder at the Emissary’s motives. The again, the same has been said of me…but those closest.

Rather than taking Aronzo’s cloak for herself, the Emissary and Captain Volstagg turned it over to the Prince to add to his growing collection of ancient arcfire oddities. Willingly turning over such a powerful item seems an odd play for the Emissary, but I have come to expect such maneuvers.

Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127

10:30 PM

With the near death of Corporal Blackstone and RFC Mansfried, I immediately ordered the Rangers to cordon of the sink hole and brought up reinforcements. At that moment, I had no way of knowing if we were facing an invasion from beneath. However, I could not leave the city unprotected, so I mobilized the City Watch under Captain Vasser, and the City Militia under Commander Schenkle. They were under orders to coordinate lock down of the city gates, and active patrols through every street. All current and former members were called up, creating of force of nearly 2000 men to cover the Stockyards, Middle Town, Low Town, the Warhouse District, the four city gates, and Main Street.

I ordered Major Hawksclaw to coordinate with Sir Halten and evacuate High Towne. We established a triage and temporary city at the Fair Grounds north of the city. Any Nobility that could not evacuate to their estates out of the city, would be provided accommodation and protection there.

My Rangers, and all those still in the city after the activation of the Fort Halten Sanitation Works, I called up to assist in evacuations and securing the perimeter of High Towne. Major Hawksclaw’s office managed the entire city and evacuation, save for High Towne. Colonel Anderson coordinated with Kythros and any of the Blood who refused to flee the city.

Leaving me to contend with whatever was emerging from beneath the Beacon Hill. Using every contact and favor, I summoned mages, druids, priests, adepts, paladins, alchemists, and builders from every faction within the city. Even Ash arrived with his senior academics to apply their unique understanding of blended magics.

At the heart, Siegemaster Whit, with his wife and family, worked with the Explorer from Alpha Team to analyze ever piece of information that the growing network of casters could provide. We blanketed the hill with magic, probing though every conceivable means. Confused reports began to trickle in. Large quantities of Crysarium were detected beneath the city, but the readings were obscured. And, the danger seemed to spread throughout the hill, though none of the casters could confirm precisely how or where. Ash’s analysis was the most detailed, but something was disrupting even his Mind’s Eye.

While Hawksclaw evacuated the civilians, and Colonel Anderson the Rangers, Sergeant Major Stormhammer’s team began to pull out vital resources. If we were to lose the Regional Headquarters, we would not lose everything. Unsurprisingly, Malcom refused to leave the Library until all the records were secured. In the end, we were forced to provide him with his own security detail under orders to teleport him away should it come to that.

11:50 PM

Close to midnight a void opened beneath the Echer’Naught prison. Major Hawksclaw was close by, along with members of the Alpha Team, Sergeant Sssahlissstaah and RFC Grimm. They arrived to find the south west corner collapsed and the ground floor all but gone, sucked into the earth. Along with it, the prisoners, mostly Stormguard captured during the attack on the day’s festivities. While the Rangers secured the perimeter, Major Hawksclaw ventured as far down as he dared, but it was clear that many prisoners had survived and were now escaping into the growing chaos beneath the city.

Our researchers and casters were still plumbing the depths beneath the city attempting to divine magically what we faced, while Siegemaster Whit, his family, and the Explorer analyzed the information to theorize a strategy for attack. We were only just gaining an understanding of the sheer size of the voids beneath the city when I was approached by Sir Calaban Rabenklau. As I grappled with saving our city, the merchant lord had the temerity to demand I send in Rangers to seize and secure the emerging tunnels under the city. Apparently word of large quantities of Crysarium had reached his ears.

We still did not know if these caverns or tunnels or voids were even large enough and stable enough to enter, let alone interconnected in any way. However, my objections were overruled by Sir Eric Halten who, in my absence, gained official command of Alpha Team as a political compromise. Though the Royal Sheriff had the good grace to appear chagrined, he nevertheless ordered Alpha Team below High Towne, bad damned the risks. I could have objected, but with both Sir Rabenklau, and Sir Halten’s weight behind the order, ultimately I would have lost and…time was of the essence. At least, they game me some time to assemble other teams in support.

So, with bad grace I sent a message through Eris Moonsilver to summon Alpha Team to my temporary HQ just across Main Street from the first sink hole. The day’s celebration had drawn huge crowds, filling High Towne to a capacity never before seen in the city. As bad as that was, it ALSO drew large numbers of Rangers. We had near 1500 greencloaks in or around the city. A staggering number. I called up every last one. I sent orders along every command line splitting the Rangers into groups of ten and assigning them a senior NCO or officer to command. Each team was dispatched to a known access to the voids below, or assigned a magical team to establish teleporation.

I also summoned up Beta and Gamma. Epsilon were already working with the City Engineer, Master Kester Highwall. Abyss, even Masters Tarok Kilnfire and Garok Mason had put aside their decades long feud and were helping clear rubble. While waiting for Alpha Team to assemble, I called my command staff together for a situation report. Sergeant Minor Longtail provided insight and a working knowledge of some of the former sewers. I know she was close with the former City Seneschal Therel Fateweaver, who in a former life was the King of Low Town and the de facto head of the city’s Thieves Guild.

Her working knowledge of those tunnels, however many remained, proved tactically invaluable. She was also one of my most experienced Rangers and NCOs. So, when Alpha assembled, I thanked Sergeant Sssahlissstaah for her handling of the team, but for this mission, Sergeant Minor Longtail’s seniority and familiarity with the environment dictated that Longtail assume command of Alpha Team. It bears noting that Longtail LONG resisted command of any form. I had to promise not to promote her to Sergeant Major, a rank for which she certainly qualifies, before she agreed to assume her post within my personal staff.

Nevertheless, Sergeant Minor Longtail assumed her new role with almost no complaint. Which, more than anything should indicate the dire circumstances. Alpha Team was ordered to take three days rations, but two weeks of water, plus a double load of all ammunition. Showing unusual generosity, RFC Gilbur Gil Grimm handed out a plethora of protection potions to the team. He did not even comment on reimbursement at the time, though not doubt the Rangers will receive a bill. All appeared to comprehend the sheer gravity of the situation and acted professionally accordingly. In addition, Longtail ordered the team to arm themselves with White Silver arrows and stabbing weapons, and other specific, though unusual equipment. Clearly, the Sergeant intended to be prepared for any eventuality.

12:30 PM

Once the team we kitted, I led them personally to a newer sink hole near the corner of the Lamplighter’s Guildhall. Some of the oldest, but most recently renovated, sewers ran beneath and initial probes by the growing army of casters suggested the void underneath to be likely stable. And so, with a caution that we might lost contact, and that we would likely be unable to pull them out should they encounter too stiff resistance, I allowed Alpha Team to step into the ritual teleportation circle. With a last look, I gave the command and sent my team into the darkness below.

All over the city, Ranger teams stood by, waiting for Alpha Teams initial reports. I waited near their point of entry, prepared to use my own power to dig them out should it come to that. What followed, I only learned later.

Alpha Team materialized in total darkness. Only RFC Ranna could see, and only just. So, Longtail ordered torches lit, and sent Ranna forward to scout ahead. The ogress turned one corner and came under immediate arcfire. Multiple arclances opened up, filling the tunnels with fire. Moments later, two Mad Bombs bounced into the corridor, catching half the team in an explosion. While they manged to dive out of the way of most of the blast, RFC Ranna was blow clear through the floor into a lower level of the maze of tunnels. Worse, the way to the arclancers was blocked by the cave in caused by the explosions.

Sergeant Minor Longtail elected to go the other way in hopes of finding access to the lower tunnels. This time, she took point, having Corporal Blackstone backing her up. Within a few dozen yards, she entered a cavern where a bloody battle was already in progress. Stormguard, escaped prisoners, were being slaughtered by something nearly invisible. Longtail later described it as a copper man with some form of invisibility field. One hand was an arclance, the other spinning blades it was using to chop up the Stormguard.

Though cloaked in her own shroud, the arcfire man-thing seemed to sense her presence and blasted her into a wall with arcfire. And then, it appeared to vanish. The Stormguard, faced with Alpha Team, offered no resistance. They were scared.

Once Longtail assured them that the Rangers were not hunting escaped prisoners, the Stormguard were all to happy to talk. They explained that after the initial tremors and Ranger alarms, a sinkhole opened beneath their prison. Many died, but almost thirty found themselves in tunnels below the city. They tried to find a way out, but quickly encountered Builders who were setting up shields. When the Builders saw the Stormguard, they opened fire, killing many, and then collapsed the tunnel between them, cutting off access to their forces.

Having no alternative, the remaining Stormguard took other tunnels running into all manner of horror. They spoke of undead which exploded into green clouds which killed and corrupted, no doubt the Wild. They were stalked by ghoulish creatures that kept to mist and fog banks in the mines. What these might be, I had no idea. Not to mention the Builders and the copper man-thing. It seemed that all of our worst enemies were gathered in one place, all trapped in the tunnels.

Was this by design, or some horrible accident? Having been transported through a collapsing Tempest vortex, I can well imagine who a large enough rift in the Veil my suck through. Perhaps the Maker behind this horrible tragedy simply tore through half a dozen Realms trying to punch through Shaintar and the city’s defenses? Or, perhaps there is another explanation to the veritable moster invasion beneath our feet? I cannot provide answers.

While Alpha Team interrogated the Storm Guard, RFC Ranna was involved in a fight for her own life. Separated, she found herself in a cave so dark and chill, that even her ogre thermal vision provided little sight. But, she was not alone. Whether by sheer happenstance, or some strange providence, Ranna found herself trapped by another monster lurking in the dark, a Morden Vampire.

We have known since Grendel’s capture by Gram Gram that Ranna, once on her path to being a Silver Paladin, was corrupted by the power of the Blood Witch. This taint has granted her power, but also made her susceptible to influence of the Blood Witch’s minions. And of these, none are more powerful than the Morden Vampires. Strangely, from Ranna’s reports it seems the Vampire was relieved to find her there, sensing the Blood within her. The Morden took it as fact that Ranna served the same master, and so ordered Ranna to accompany her through the tunnels. The Vampire even admitted that she had recently fed on Rangers caught in the initial collapse.

I gather than Ranna considered complying, playing along to bide time. But, the risk was too great. Any concession to the Blood Witches power would leave her more vulnerable in the future. And so, alone, with no hope of rescue, Ranna turned on the Vampire and attacked. Her shot went wide, and the Vampire struck her mortally. Ranna went down, alive, but bleeding. And then, the Vampire punched into her chest and ripped out Ranna’s heart.

Here I should say that Ranna died in those tunnels. And, in a way she did. But, by tearing out Ranna’s Life’s Blood, the witch also inadvertently removed much of the taint. Then free, with her last breath, Ranna committed herself wholly to Celesia, the Silver Unicorn. And in that moment, she was remade into a living embodiment of the Silver Unicorn. Pure White Silver purged the remaining taint from her body and spirit. Born anew, Ranna smashed the Vampire into the wall, before crushing her with Grendel’s white silver club.

Moreover, Ranna’s transformation released a tremendous pulse of power, running along the tunnels like a divining wave, lighting them up against the background. Above, the teams of casters suddenly gained a vision of the entire tunnel network through into high relief. From that afterimage, the Builders created a map of the entire tunnel system

RFC Ranna’s blow ALSO collapsed part of her tunnels, opening a path between the first and second levels, granting the rest of Alpha Team a shortcut below. In the tunnels, Sergeant Minor Longtail planned Alpha’s descent deeper into the mines, and dispatched Corporal Blackstone to return to their entry point. His orders, report on their progress directly because all communications had been severed.

At the same time that Alpha sought a way to reach RFC Ranna, and Ranna battled for her life, a potentially greater crisis arose above ground. Not long after Alpha vanished into the tunnels, the entire Ranger battle network died at the same moment as another large tremor ran through the city. Worse, Major Hawksclaw loses mental contact with Eris Moonsilver.

From the day they wed, Eris and Rah-sahn share a mind. They can sense each other’s thoughts, and when they focus, can read each others minds. Over the years, it has become like breathing. Fortunately for Eris, her discipline allows her to compartmentalize sensitive information away from Hawksclaw’s awareness. Even so, having the Ranger Commander of Echer’Naught tapped directly into our most powerful Farspeaker has proven a boon.

But when Hawksclaw appeared in my camp, I could tell by the stricken expression on his face that Eris was in trouble, or worse…

Most of my top Rangers were already on mission, many below the city, others too far way to arrive quickly enough to save Eris, if she could be saved. I had Hawksclaw…and Sergeant Samira Ravenwood-Regillus. Despite being one of the most lethal Rangers to ever serve on Alpha Team, and no senior NCO of Echer’Naught’s Gray Lanterns, Samira was ALSO pregnant. A fact which made sending her into danger abhorrent. Still, with her range, I hoped that any danger would be at extreme range, where she could provide support for Hawksclaw without unnecessarily endangering herself.

So, I sent them together to recover Eris.

It should be noted that after the attacks of the Flame Ranger and undead Von Dietrich that Regional Command made the decision to offer more protection to our highest value personnel. To that end, a network of corridors was constructed under High Towne, and elsewhere, connecting the most vital locations. These tunnels were heavily warded, cloaked in the most powerful concealment spells, and guarded by a team selected from the best of Gamma Team, with a few Gray Lanterns, and Beta Team as well. The full network, and schedule of personnel rotation were known to a few. Eris being one.

While Major Hawksclaw was aware that his wife’s security has been increased, he did NOT know of the tunnels. Being a ranking NCO in the Gray Lanterns, Samira knew OF the tunnels, but no more specifics. They were constructed in the safest location in the city, under the strictest secrecy…and even that was insufficient!

So, I ordered Samira to lead Hawkslcaw to the Gray Lantern “ready room” beneath the Regional HQ, there, she was to enter through the Blue Door. Various doors were scattered around the city, all invisible to those who did not know their location, trapped, and locked with the most sophisticated system our best minds could devise. But, with the voids breaking seals and wards across the city, many of our entrances had been compromised. Gamma Team members had been dispatched the moment of the initial attack to secure these doors to prevent further incursions.

Again, I learned of this only AFTER they returned, but Major Rah-sahn Hawksclaw and Sergeant Samira Ravenwood-Regillus entered the nearly abandoned Regional Headquarters, headed into the cellar system and she unlocked the secured door to the Gray Lantern’s ready room. There, she found the Blue Door, one of several connecting this room. With the wards down, the door was visible and unshielded. I had provided her a key which granted access. But, when they opened the door, a cloud of smoke and dust roiled out. As I feared, Eris’ tunnel had suffered a catastrophic collapse.

A short way down the narrow hall, they found where a sinkhole had opened and nearly swallowed the entire tunnel. However, Hawksclaw could see, and sense Flame below. So, he drew his rapier and squeezed through the rockfall into an open cave below. There, he was greeted with a sight which stopped him cold. Eris’ entire security detail was dead. Half had been crushed or smothered during the initial collapse. But about half had been dissected into pieces. Worse, at the far rough wall, Eris Moonsilver floated unconscious, ensnared in a web of Flame ropes.

Standing in the room with them, was a man in non-descript clothes, apparently waiting for someone to arrive. Upon seeing Hawksclaw, he seemed to vaguley recognize him, and then demanded to see Ma’avi Fr’eki. The Revenge Demon! It had not occurred that the demon, unable to reach Ma’avi, would target another member of our household as ransom. It was an error in judgement, and may prove to be our undoing.

Hawksclaw, of course, knew nothing. He was utterly confused when the demon attacked. But, the Major gave as good as he received. Moments later, hearing battle, Samira slid into the room and started firing on the demon. I believe, had the battle continued, that they would have slain the demon. I imagine the demon realized this as well, because he acted so cowardly as to stab the pregnant Samira in the stomach, before using vile thaumaturgy to ensnare Hawksclaw and Samira.

I believe the demon did not kill them because he wanted to ensure that we followed, though why he did not kill one and leave the other to speak, I know not. Still, he gave Hawksclaw 48 hours to produce Ma’avi or Eris would die…horribly. He said to meet him at a camp to the west. Supposedly Ma’avi would know. And then, with a snap, he vanished along with Eris.

No sooner had he vanished, then the Flame bindings dissipated. Taking a moment to check on Samira, Hawksclaw got them both out of the hole and came for me. I could feel his rage radiating. It has been many years since I felt this…not since the battle with Sir Lugard. He demanded to know who took his wife, so I told him as much as I could then. But, the situation on the city had worsened. Our casters had used Ranna’s pulse to map the entire system of tunnels and found a central point where they believed the enemy was building something massive. Already, the energy buildup was bleeding out and indicated power on a scale almost unimagined. Further, there were four other points at the cardinal directions where smaller sites had been constructed. Seeing the map, it reminded me of the Tempest attack so many years ago… Though his was smaller, the setup was almost the same.

Hawksclaw told me we have 48 hours to save Eris. I asked him to wait. To help me save the city, and then we would both bring her home. I promised him. He agreed, but I fear he may never forgive me. Archanone and Celesia I pray I can keep that promise.

Hawksclaw stormed off to do his duty, and I sent Samira to the healers. Apparently, she and the baby are well, but the child is weak. It will take regular healing to keep it hale. As a druid, she has this capacity, though I fear this pregnancy may be more difficult than before.

13:10
Even as I contemplated this new horror, I sensed Blackstone trying to break through the seals of the tunnels. Before he could be lost or injured, I pulled him free. He offered his report. Sergeant Minor Longtail and the Explorer confirmed that the tunnels were not a Builder citadel, in the traditional sense, but rather they represented a massive Crysarium mine beneath High Towne. Worse, Longtail confirmed that this mine was the SAME mine she had seen so many years ago when Tempest attempted to breach the veil above this VERY spot. The Explorer noted that the tunnels were carved using advanced techniques, and supported, not by conventional means, but rather by use of specialized Barrier runes and wards etched into the walls, floor, and ceiling of the mine tunnels. These same magic etchings prevented teleporting into the tunnels, and obscured our ability to see within. However, the Explorer suggested the “defensive” capabilities of the runes was a byproduct of their true function as arcane supports, rather than an intended function. The mines were not a fortress. Only the front entrance appeared to be “guarded.”

That did not explain why when the mine phased into our world portions started immediately collapsing. The Explorer here offered explanation. Many section of the mine appeared to have damaged clearly caused by arcfire weapons. He suggested that there was an attack on the mines BEFORE Raven’s Cloak fell over Shaintar. Which might explain why the front gate was so heavily guarded. If this mine were in operation toward the of The War which led to the fall of the Starfather, then it is possible it suffered attacks. But, whose side was the mine on? And who was now attacking? Was this attack merely the continuation of an earlier conflict? Were these Builders trapped outside of time? Or, had someone known the mine would return, and seized this opportunity to attack????

My head spun with implications. But, I had a city to save.

After completing his report in quick, concise words, Blackstone told me he had a message for Stormhammer. The dwarf was all the way outside the city, coordinating the temporary camp at the Fair Grounds. So, I ordered Blackstone to pass the message through me. Longtail told Stormhammer, “It’s true. They are free.” I’m sure I will someday learn what my adjutants have been discussing, but at the moment I had far more pressing concerns.

I handed Blackstone a crude map just given me by our cartographers based on the caster’s reading of Ranna’s energy pulse. It outlined the three levels of tunnels. I pointed out the central ritual site and ordered Alpha Team to get close enough to provide a report. Then, I sent him back and returned to my temporary HQ where the leaders of dozens of Ranger Teams, Sir Halten, Commander Schenkle, Captain Vasser, the head of the Silver Paladin order, Bishop Vallandrian, Sophia Longarm, and dozens more familiar and unfamiliar faces stood waiting. Even Blythe, the new King of Low Town lurked in the shadows. Five years of memories flooded through me.

Alpha Team was marching to their deaths against impossible odds. Samira was hurt. Hawksclaw raging. Dozens of battles, thousands of foes, and each man and women here etched in the history of this city. The hour had come.

With four tertiary ritual sites, and the central ritual beneath the center of the hill, I divided my forces.

Commander Schenkle and the City Militia were ordered to strike the East Ritual, entering through a sinkhole near Sir Halten’s estate.
Sir Halten and and the Knights of a dozen houses, including my own House Guard, with Silver Paladins would strike the West Ritual, entering through the prison sinkhole.
Captain Vasser, Sophia Longarm, and druids from the Sacred Grove would strike the Northern Ritual, entering through the same sinkhole Alpha Team had used.
Major Hawksclaw and half our Ranger forces not securing the city, would hit the Southern Ritual, entering a sinkhole just west of the gate.

I would assemble the remaining Rangers, along with Lieutenant Alfred Wolfahven, his new bride, Eve, and my Ranger escort to strike at the heart of the ritual. We would teleport through, homing in on Ranna’s new signature. Samira appeared, and though I worried, she demanded to go. So, I consented knowing that I very well may lose both my most trusted men Hawkclaw and Anaxelum by putting their wives in danger.

Even members of the Thieves Guild arrived. They offered to scout and cover our flanks. Under normal circumstances, I would have refused, but something about Blythe’s intensity led me to believe they could be relied upon, at least in this.Though, I suspect their offer was less about generosity and more personal gain.

And so the teams went in, with my own standing just outside the Harken Estate, waiting for the signal to attack.

13:25

Hundreds of feet below, Alpha Team entered the second level of the tunnels to the sounds of rushing water, and mist roiling through the shadows. Immediately they were attack from either side. To the rear, Xaos Scorpions struck and stung. To their fore, ghoulish creatures moved through the mist, biting and snatching, trying to drag the Rangers away. With Alpha were five of the Stormguard they had saved before. Two died almost the instant they entered the second level.

Creatures of mist and darkness unlike any that I have encountered. With so many new evils appearing in our Realm on a nigh daily basis it is nearly impossible just to keep pace with the daily threat meetings. But something about the description of these creatures reminded me of scout reports near Shaya’Nor. Apparantly, allied forces have encountered new forms of Darkness that appear to access our Realm via Ebonways. They think these creatures are spilling in through Shivak Novos. If that is correct, does that mean that Vainar’s shadow land has been overrun? The very thought is too horrifying to contemplate.

Still, Longtail set up a line and Alpha Teams warriors cut through the creatures. Blackstone was almost dragged away, but the very stone responded to his singing, giving him purchase and allowing other members of the team to reach him. Almost as quickly as it begun it was over. RFC Grimm making the final kill. He also used his Alchemy to etch away some of the protective runes allowing the Builder to blow a hole into the third level of tunnels.

With the breach, Alpha Team reached the deepest part of the tunnels, and the heart of the ritual. There, thy found a massive arcfire shield, like a bubble, more powerful than any they have encountered. Within the bubble, Builders worked, while Arclancers, Boom Troopers, and Arcfire juggernaughts set up defensive positions waiting for assault. And, at the center, a secondary shield, smaller. This one contained an arcfire device six feet across and pulsating with rippling amber energy. Manipulating the controls, a single Builder, though so encased in armor, it was impossible to make out any features.

However, the Builders were not alone. Wild infused corpses prowled the tunnels outside the energy field. They immediately reacted to the arrival of Alpha Team, shuffling into their rear ranks. In a surprising turn, the three remaining Storm Guard offered to hold the flank while Alpha Team destroyed the Builder ritual. They asked only for swords. Without hesitation, Alpha armed the criminals, before leaving them to their fates.

Their flank secured for the moment, Alpha Team approached the gate, but the Explorer quickly identified the arcing energy field would require High Magic to penetrate. Sergeant Minor Longtail was just contemplating sending a runner back to establish communication, when Ash and his cohorts signaled that Ranna had reached the Ritual. Even and a dozen other Sorcerers and Druids triggered a massive teleportation ritual, centered on the ogress.

13:50

I appeared in the tunnels near Alpha Team. They looked tired, but hale. Better than I expected honestly. Without pause, Longtail delivered her report. I sent Rangers around to support the Stormguard, while maneuvering my own forces in the narrow confines. We had no room to maneuver, the natural rock formations narrowed our approach to a choke point. Opposing us would be entrenched Builders with pre-set heavy weapons. There was no means to flank, and our movements were as visible to our enemies as theirs were to us.

There comes a moment in most battles when fancy tactics must be abandoned for the final charge. The moment when you have nothing but your courage and the man beside you. So, I stacked my Rangers in a wedge, with myself forming the tip of the spear, and my Alpha at my back. We drew our blades and with a mighty shout, I drove my Father’s Sword through the shield summoning my power and pushing it THROUGH. I felt heat wash over my arms and face as the silver-blue blade sparked against the amber shield. Azure blue lightning hissed and sparked against burned orange as the Builder’s engines pushed back. It felt like trying to push through a solid steel wall with the heat of molten metal, but I gritted my teeth and leaned hard into the sword.

For a heartbeat I feared I lacked the strength to overpower the shield, but then a tiny ripple appeared where the tip of my sword bit into the energy field. Tiny at first, it began to widen. From behind the barrier, I could hear the high pitched whine of the Builder generators notch of several octaves. They started to scream in unison. So I pushed, and shoved, pitting my will against that of the infernal engines. Heartbeats stretched into eons and then with a final shriek a section of the barrier collapsed, shattering into crackling sparks.

Behind me my Rangers roared and I shouted, “For Echer’Naught…”
…before something slammed into my chest, knocking the wind from my breath.

There was a bright flash, and a massive pulse of arcfire and I found myself standing seemingly alone in an open field of frosty grass. They TELEPORTED ME! They…swept me aside like so much garbage!!!

I confess that in that moment a well of rage exploded through my being. My anger felt like a burning sun to scorch the earth and bake into clay. I was FURIOUS! So Furious that I wasted precious time screaming inarticulately at the sky, slashing at the ground, and venting my frustration in a petulant and embarrassing manner. It was only when I felt eyes upon me that I wrestled my faculties. On a hill, some distance away, a sheepherd stood staring at me, mouth agape. His flock looked on equally stunned, their expression identically comical.

The sheer absurdity of my situation overcame my frustration, refocusing me on the task at hand…saving Echer’Naught. My own master once again, I took a moment to get my bearings. The teleportation landed me somewhere north of the city, not far enough to take me out of the fight for long, but far enough to delay me. Perhaps, just enough to kill my Rangers and destroy my city.

Praying to Archanon, and summoning the power of the Silver Unicorn, I tapped into the blood flowing through my veins. During times of crisis in the past, I have tapped into the core of power burning in the center of my being, but only in extremis. Never have I consciously, intentionally, unleashed my full power. Fear always held me back. Fear of losing control of the unfathomable coursing through ever fibre of my being. Fear of harming those around me.

But my fear of losing my family, my city, my Rangers overwhelmed any other considerations. And so, I let go. I allowed the power to consume me, change me.

It was like being reborn in the heart of a star. Everything came into clear focus. Everything. And I could feel them. The Builders. Like a fire burning in my mind. I could see the pattern of their ritual, hear reality warp and scream.

I flew.

Blasting into the sky on wings of starlight and power, I rocketed toward Echer’Naught. Trees bent and shattered at by passing. A small pond evaporated into steam. Windows in the city shattered as I passed. How long I was gone, I know not, but the battle still raged when I slammed through the courtyard of my manor home. Down through the chamber, and into the Vault.

Rents spiderwebbed the arcane reinforced metal. I could feel the fractious roil of conflicting energies as the artifacts sparked and repulsed on another. So much like their mortal bearers. Even at the best of times, Alpha Team have been split by internecine bickering and conflicts. We fight amongst ourselves, pursue individual goals that, occasionally, conflict with the unit. Even in love, there is strife. But, we are still the best this Realm has to offer. At our very worst, criminals, tainted, even given over to dark powers, I would put all my faith in my Alphas when all is on the line. To their own destruction, the Greenway Road Rangers have never failed, never faltered at the line.

I could feel them, dying. Each wound, each burn, every injury inflicted was like a dagger through my soul. But I could feel their determination.

Kenzie and Ingrid, their hearts aching at the absence of the third of their triangle of love. Still, when Ingrid’s power drew fire and her body was riddled with arcfire, Kenzie took up the stands of her magic, holding the line and that fire turned on her. Ranna, tall and bright, fired and fired, Mog taking a toll on the Builders. Her armor stripped away like ablating metal in a forge, but she never slowed her inexorable steps. I could FEEL the Builder’s fear as she closed on their lines. Beneath their feet, the living rock rose to answer Blackstone. The Mountain roared, crushing all who dared to stand before him. But it was not just Arimar, but generations of dwarves before him, each linked in an unbroken chain going back farther than even he knows. I glimpsed his TRUE strength and was awed. Unnoticed, but undaunted, Grimm hurled bottle after bottle, pouring our his greatest resource, his precious potions. But, there was no fear, no hesitation. Builder after Builder fell as his concoctions turned their world to pain. And Sir Mansfried, the newly minted Ranger commanded them all. I well recall my first battle with the Rangers. Tempest Towers looming over us, Shayline stretched in strands of power and time. I was unprepared for the responsibility of the fate of the Realm, but I did my duty. As did Mansfried. And in that moment, I saw him, not as he is, but as he could be, leading armies against the tide of invaders…

And deep in the shadows, unnoticed by any, but my senses, Longtail. Shadows cloaked her like a second skin. Her power, quiet and deadly felt like a knife prick to my throat. And with her, The Explorer…his mind spinning like the Builder machines. What was he thinking…

…ah, clever, clever.

I felt Longtail call upon Celesia, for the first, and she answered. I felt them vanish from my sight, and then reappear. A poisoned dagger at the heart of the enemy. Longtail appeared above them, slashing with a violence I have not seen from her since her first days with the Rangers. Then she was among them, cutting, driving them back. Shielding the Explorer who attacked the enemy barrier generator.

Twelve seconds…

The Vault door crumpled at my touch.

Ten…

I rose into the sky above the city, filling the night sky with light. Below me, Echer’Naught stretched. Lights filled the streets as the Citzens stood in the gently falling rain, eyes turned to the hill. Every street, every avenue was filled with the light of lamps and torches. They waited, for victory or the end.

There was no fear, just eagerness. In each hand, they gripped a weapon. If the enemy had come to take their city, they would fight. Though my Rangers were deep in the dark, they were not along. Thousands of prayers, carried by whispered voices, rose to the sky, and delved to the deepest earth. The Ascended awakened to their call.

Seven…

Gathering my power around me, the faint rattle of wood and metal around me, I dove. Slamming through through the streets, through the first and second levels. Then the third. I hit the Maker’s barrier with all my power and felt the matrix strain.

Below me, tinted orange by the refraction, I could see the Maker, his hand outstretched to the Explorer. Though I could not hear the words, I knew the offer all to well. Power.

Fate stopped. The worlds seemed to cease spinning as the Explorer chose, and in choosing, sealed the fates of thousands.

“No.”

The Maker’s disappointment radiated as brightly as the generator at the heart of the ritual. He stepped back, and then I felt the barrier give way. I was through.

White Stagg 1st, 3127

1:17 AM

The barrier winked out, as I crashed the ground. Panicked, the Maker teleported away, but his forces recovered quickly. In slow motion, I watched them turn their lances on us again.

But there was more, a power I have not felt since my time in death. A rent hovered behind me. I know not whether I opened the rift when I bored through the barrier, or whether shattering the Maker’s power triggered a shattering of the Veil. I know only that when I looked through, I could hear the waves from the Boundless Sea, hear the whisper of the Eternal Forest, feel the breeze from the Endless Sky…

…a doorway to the lands of the Ascended.

Standing in the doorway, a crowd of faces as familiar as my own. Friends, family, and Rangers long passed. For briefest moment, I feared that I was burning way, that the power ripping through me was devouring my form, killing me. Then, one of the Honored Dead stepped through the doorway, as real any.

Grendel, in his full raiment strode across the room, and knelt to take his great club from Ranna’s stunned hand. And then Serys, his face a familiar scowl, beside him a beautiful elven girl. His sister? There Kura’Kai, big as life, leaping through ready for battle. Ben Toma, the slight Adept also approached Ranna, asking for his mask. Danica stood, as she had in life, her cloak of green, the Golden Gryphons emblazoned her her tabard. So too Von D stepped through, though from where I could not see. He reached down, picking up his family sword and his entire spirit flickered. He said nothing, merely gazed coldly at the Builders. Thorgram Ramshorn stepped through and retook his shield, looking pained to see it damaged. And there was Evoran, resplendent in his robes, staff held in one hand, book the other. There were others, Rangers who died on other teams, and even Streetrunner snuck out when no one was looking. The last, Griznahk Olgor and Captain Manning. Both looked hale and happy, if ghostly.

Tears blurred my eyes. Alpha Team, living and gone, formed shoulder to shoulder and gazed at me waiting…

Their faith, their dedication flowed through me, and I raised my blade. “For Echer’Naught!” I cried and hurled myself into battle. Around me, the Rangers attacked. Arrows flew, spells exploded into Builder Ranks. Warriors carved a path through enemy ranks. We were an unstoppable tide of green. The Builders broke before us, some trying to flee, most throwing down their arms and surrendering. It was over as quickly as it bad begun.

But, the Maker’s machine continued to spin, gathering speed and power. The battle was won, but the city was lost. I could see it writ on every face, living and dead. To save Echer’Naught, some would have to sacrifice to contain the blast.

We had seconds. I nodded to the Honored Dead and ordered the living to fall back. With the moments they had, lovers embraced, old friends hugged, and comrades said the words they were denied in life. Finally, Olgor clicked his way slowly across the floor, looked at the Rangers, young and old, and smiled. “You have done well,” he said, before turning and taking my hand.

As the flesh and blood Rangers pulled back, the Spirits joined hands around the Maker’s engine, forming a ring with their own essence. I joined with their, passing my power to them, and they to me in turn. Together, we surrounded the device in a web of energy and love. I closed my eyes and reveled in the power. Even beyond death, we are one whole. And, together, we are stronger than the entire Contiuum. Their surety flowed into me, filling me with pride so much I feared I would explode.

And then the device triggered, sending a pulse of energy out, but meeting our strength and reverberating back in on itself. So much power overloaded the machine, blowing every crystal and rendering it inert. It slammed into the ground with a dull thunk.

I walked out of the smoke and crysalized particulates to where my Rangers stood waiting. We had won. More, we stood together as one, a family. Each member had sacrificed so much, and when the hour came, they put aside everything to stand united.

Five years. Five years since I rode into the town of Echer’Naught to assume command of the Rangers here. Five years of war, sacrifice, and loss. Five years of love, fellowship, and family.

Five years.

Looking at the men and women standing before me, I knew, know. So long as we fight together, there is no foe that we cannot defeat. We are the green line, bastion against oblivion. I could not be more proud.

But, such things must wait. Many are wounded and require attention, and I have a pressing mission. So, I tasked our mages to begin teleporting teams to the surface where they could debrief, rest, and heal. Sergeant Ravenwood-Regillus was sent directly to the Echer’Naught Hospital (formerly the Red Lamp). A special recovery team, Tinkers all, arrived to secure and catalogue the Maker tech. Fresh teams were rotated out, and the clean up operation of the mines began in earnest.

I stayed just long enough to ensure smooth operation, before returning to the surface where Hawksclaw waited. We pulls supplies, issued orders, and by early on the 1st, rode west toward Landra’ Feay to save his wife, Eris Moonsilver.

Epilogue
It came to my attention that due to the confusion of the events, I neglected perhaps the most important piece of information gleaned during the attack. At first, it was the Explorer who identified that the tunnels were a Mine, not a Builder Citadel as first suspected. And, he rightly assumed that the front was heavily guarded to ward of attack, but the rest of the mine was less so.

But it was Ash and Whit who realized the full extent of the Maker’s plan. We assumed they were attempting to destroy the mine and High Towne, but, in fact, the entire attack was a heist, albeit a profoundly complex one. The central device was a High Magic teleportation engine, not unlike the engine kept by Echer’Naught Regional Command. However, this device was magnitudes larger and more powerful.

The four smaller devices were refraction points, designed to create a matrix of sorts. They were placed on varied levels, creating a three dimensional geometric shape. Using the Crysarium of the mine to partially fuel the ritual, the Maker was attempting to teleport a large portion of the mine, and its Crysarium, away from the city. In essence, a smash and grab.

We do not know what would have happened, or if it would have worked. Our BEST minds suspect that all the space, soil, and Crysarium within the bounds of the energy web WOULD have been instantly carved out and transported to a prepared site far distance. The sudden void would have collapsed Beacon Hill and all of High Towne with it. However, the energy would have likely set off the remaining veins of Crysarium, igniting them like a fuse. They would have alternatively burned out, or detonated depending on conditions.

The result would have, at minimum, completely destroyed High Towne, and most likely much of the surrounding city. The terrain change would have caused tremors that would have likely flattened much of the rest of the city, followed by mass flooding. Loss of the life would have been catastrophic.

As it was, the ritual was disrupted, and the energies dispersed. Moreover, the main engine was captured mostly intact. Our Builders are already at work reverse engineering the Maker’s work in hopes of salvaging, or unlocking the construction of, the teleportation device. Capture of this technology is a HUGE advantage to our force. Integrated into the Great Arcgate might provide us with more accurate and reliable transportation.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Echer’Naught Ranger Temproary Regional Command, Olara

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Senior Professor of Alchemy Gilbert Grimm field study
Subject: Ice Wyvern

Recently in the high peaks of the far northern regions of the Black Mountains, myself and my team came into contact with the rare drake-kin beasts: Ice Wyverns. The first oddity I found with the encounter was to find such beasts so far from the Everwall. Many speak of large groups of said beasts nesting on the sheer nigh-endless walls constantly harassing the mysterious Aviaries that call it home, but this was to say the least unexpected. Such a discovery begs the question if such beasts can be found in other regions as long as they meet certain criteria, such as: high altitudes, extremely cold climates, and the area to have reasonably large sources of prey.

Through, unexpected means, I was able to procure a small vile of said creatures blood. I have many theories as to the applications of what could be harvested from such beasts. Dregordian’s use the scales of Thinder lizards for their signature armor, but one must wonder if the same process could be used with the scales of the Wyverns. I theorize that they would be much lighter to help with the creatures flight and their innate ability to live in and withstand cold climates could transfer over into the armor in a way that would not involve an Arcane Artificer. This sadly I can only theorize without said materials to use in study. The blood I believe could be used for a quite potent potion of protection against extremely cold climates, possibly being able to apply the creatures innate resistance to the user for some time.

These are all just theories but i plan to investigate to the best of my abilities, and in the future i hope to find even more rare and intriguing components for my and the schools studies.

Respectfully,
Senior Professor of Alchemy of Yomenie Curu Academy: Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 125
Attack on High Town; Part One

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Filed: Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127

The nobility of Echer’Naught is up in arms at the sudden loss of their wells. My great civic work, Fort Halten Public Sanitation Works, blamed for the catastrophe. High Towne is collapsing, putting at risk all we have built…
…and arcfire below.

We are again at war, but against which foe, I do not yet know.

Eternal Sun 25th, 3127

Again Alpha Team loses its commander. Sergeant Grendel fell facing against forces of the Blood Witch, slain by his own kin. The creature known as Gram Gram has withdrawn her forces back toward the Guardian Gathers. I dispatched 1st through 4th Companies of the White Silver Wolves to follow her forces and finally bring the Blood Witch to heel. Perhaps now the Northern Gathers will unite against a common foe?

1st Company (Captain Rorauk Fyrforg)

2nd Company (Lieutenant Kornash)

3rd Company (Captain Helt), 1st Platoon (Lt. Kandar)

4th Company (Captain Avaron), 3rd Platoon (Lt. Hess), 1st Squad (Sgt Jager)

Eternal Sun 29th, 3127

Troops from A’Tora, Paradise and the 5th Company White Silver Wolves under Captain Juliet Brander liberated Mara from Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult forces. Though, the self proclaimed Grande Warlord was not in the field. The 5th Company remains in the desert seeking to unite the fractions Desert Princes to finally drive the Kal out of the sands. Despite this, the Kal still threaten much of the desert.

5th Company (Captain Juliet Brander, Silver Paladin), 2nd Platoon (Lt. Khalif amin Zayid)

Eternal Sun 33rd, 3127

A coalition force of goblinesh, a company of Legio Heroes legionnaires, Paradise troops, and led by Echer’Naught’s Delta Team defeat Kal forces north of A’Davar. By the time they return to the city, the Maelstrom army has retreated south. A’Davar is liberated, but Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s pet Olaran, Dair-Kron Kirall, will likely be forced to deal with the “A’Davar situation” personally.

What troubles me more is this new faction, the Black Wolf Brigade. While they are enemies of the Kal, their tactics are brutal and reports confirm that many of the commanders are given over to Flame. They are an abomination. Yet…there is something familiar…

Thunder Hawk 4th. 3127

I returned to Echer’Naught from meeting with the Long Recon Team in Tar’Imas. My prayer that they complete their mission and return to us. Moreover, Lord of Light and Lady Silver see them all safe.

Plans more forward in the city. The Fort Halten Public Sanitation Works is nearing completion. Along with the four Low Towne Housing blocks, Center Pointe renovations and memorial, the expansion of the City Watch to include barracks, City Hall and Courthouse with dwarven forged Clocktower, the Office of Exchequer and Chancery, and the expansion of the Post Riders Office, and the Red Lamp Hospital, the Sanitation Works nigh completes our final phase of expansion and renovations. Only the lighted streets of High Towne and Main Street remains of the initial plans.

Civic government appears to be functioning well. This Citizens council has grown with the citiy’s population. The House of the Blood seems to have rallied, more or less, behind Sir Halten. Though, his recent financial troubles have lessened his standing somewhat. I suspect RabenClau has maneuver himself in both Houses.

Thunder Hawk-Forest Dance 3127

My long and many absences from the city have done a disservice to my posting as Lord Mayor. While I awaited word of LRT, I monitored the growing situation in the Black Mountains, the Eternal Desert, the Kingdom of Camon, and elsewhere.

Festival Moons 8th, 3127

Cooperating in the field, Alpha Team under command of Corporal Sssahliissstah, and Delta under command of Lt. Cromwell managed to save A’Morgal, prevent the slaughter of the Black Mountain Dwarves, recover the stolen body of Clan Chief Rockbreaker, and build the foundation for a new alliance with Quadir and the Black Mountain Clanhomes. But, the mission was not without its setbacks.

Moreover, report indicate that the Maelstrom forces fully expected to be “evacuated” from A’Morgal. We have long speculated how they arrived so quickly in the desert from their camps in the Malakar Dominion. I firmly believe they were transported magically. But if so, by whom, and for what purpose? The Kal have the wealth, but they are embroiled is so many conflicts…? Too many questions with too few answers.

Forest Dance 10th, 3127

Another blow to Alpha Team. RFC Steelwing was lost, sacrificing himself to end the threat of

Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri, the Winghunter. I understand his desire, and do not question his courage. However, the affect his loss will have on the team, to his wives, I cannot help but ache over the anguish of my Rangers. It is a hard duty, and so oft ends in tears.

However, the team pulled together to complete the mission.

Forest Dance 11th, 3127

During the night, Alpha Team watches detected Flame, Darkness, and arcfire nearby in the pass. Even though they heard noises on the wind, they never saw any activity. I have my suspicious. We know that the fallen Ranger, Aronzo, succumbed to Darkness, and with him the powerful arcfire cloak.

We also know that he is, at the very least, opposed to Novri and his team. Whether that is out of some remnant loyalty to his former comrades, or because the Blood Witch’s brood have as much reason to kill Novri, I cannot say.

In the morning, after a fitful rest, Alpha Team ventured down the treacherous slopes to the valley below. Their guide, Stonefoot, a dwarven scout Alpha Team has used before, tied them into a running belay with RFC Blackstone bringing up the rear.

By evening, they reached a well supplied campsite nearer the valley floor. Here, The Explorer took up a post above the team, while the Rangers set watches, ate, and tried to regain their strength and spirit.

An army truly marches on its stomach. There are detailed reports of Venison, stew, wild onions, fresh grilled fish, and dwarven ale. Though I eat far better than I could have ever imagined, somehow, the camp stew of youth seems better than all the roast duck in the world.

It is a wonder. Most days I was too cold or hot, eating barely passable rations, each moment expecting an attack. And yet, every day spent behind a desk, reading reports by candlelight makes my heart sick for the open road.

Forest Dance 12th, 3127

On fourth watch, the dawn watch, RFC Blackstone heard a pair of hunters approaching camp. He remained silent, trying to avoid detection, but the hunters stumbled into camp. Being on the east side of the Black Mountains, the hunters announced in Malakaran.

Waking from her slumber, RFC Ranna responded in kind. They, apologizing, departed on their way. The team shortly after broke camp and continued down into the valley.

By evening on the 12th, Alpha Team was in the lowlands. There, Stonefoot guided them to a large farming Homestead known to board travelers. He negotiated for the team to have a large room, food, ale, and stables for Ranna and the horses.

The meal was gruel, warm, with hard bread and cheese. Hardly appetizing. I’ve eaten far worse and been happy.

Forest Dance 13th, 3127

Alpha Team arrives at the dwarven Clanhome of Temper. Temper sits at headwater of the West Wood river. They headed straight to the docks, but found no one willing to take such a large party.

That night, they camp outside the city along the river. Fortunately, they come to no harm. It would seem that Steelwing’s actions might have achieved the desired result. Moreover, the promised dwarven search parties, dispatched by Captain Volstagg’s order, arrived in the valley searching for Steelwing.

Forest Dance 14th, 3127

Dipping into their own personal funds, Alpha Team was able to hire a river barge willing to transport them to Westport for a reasonable fare. However, he would not be ready for some three days. So, Alpha Team returned to camp to wait.

Forest Dance 15th, 3127

In the morning, the Rangers acquired a week’s worth of supplies. They had been in the field for some time and restock was long overdue.

Forest Dance 16th, 3127

The only incident while waiting for the barge was a drunk stumbling into camp and, supposedly, making “overtures” to Muriel, the Mule.

At home, things were far more troublesome. After months out of contact, the LRT arrived back at the Legion Keep. They even managed to recover a Ranger thought long lost. Their report fills me with dread. Tempest is moving like a plague across the Realms. Moreover, it seems that one of our own has been twisted and turned to their Service.

Forest Dance 17th, 3127

In the morning, Alpha Team boards the river barge and begins the trip south to Westport.

Forest Dance 18th, 3127

Early in the morning, the barge poles into Westport. I know they were contacted by our Farspeaker corps. Captain Roberts of the Sea Ranger had to rearrange picking up the team as Corporal Sssahliisssta had chosen to change the location.

In Ranger fashion, they camped on the beach by the sea. Catching swordfish and eating from the marine life, I am told they enjoyed their seaside vacation. Though, it was a bit cold to swim for anyone but the dregordian.

Forest Dance 20th, 3127

Around noon, Ranger Farspeakers contacted the team and alerted them that Captain Roberts was in port. Leaving their mounts in camp, the Rangers ventured to the “Weighing Anchor” to meet the good Captain.

True to his word, Captain Roberts was waiting when they arrived. He informed them that his Pinnace would arrive to take them aboard ship that afternoon at 5 bells. Until then, he invited them to join him drinking.

In other news, the dwarven scouts had located where Steelwing and Novri had fallen, but neither body could be found. When we attempted to contact Steelwing directly, he resisted our mental intrusions. Not knowing his situation, we elected to continue tracking and monitor the situation.

At 4 bells, the team returned to break camp and fetch their mounts. At 5 bells, they had returned to the docks and the Sea Ranger’s Pinnace was docking. It took two trips, but Alpha Team was transported aboard ship, but NOT the Sea Rangers.

Owing to the fact that we believed Alpha Team was being tracked not just by Novri, we requested Captain Roberts do his utmost to throw of pursuit. To that end, he had hired two captains, Bonnett and Dio.

Alpha Team was actually loaded onto Captain Bonnett’s ship, while Roberts and Dio acted as decoys. Roberts broke immediately for the familiar Eastport. Dio headed south to open sea.

Bonnett was ordered to bear south and east to the lesser used port of Valora.

Even as the Rangers boarded, with the sun touching the horizon, three black sails appeared on the horizon. The Dominion’s Black Armada bore down on the flotilla.

All ships broke, and Bonnett’s headed into the growing dark. Late in the eve, with the sky overcast, Captain Bonnett dispatched a decoy vessel, her own ship going dark. Then, she bore away hard hoping to throw the pirates off the scent. It worked.

Forest Dance 19th, 3127

Dawn on the 19th revealed no sail on the horizon. Captain Bonnett’s plan had worked. They continued on to their destination without incident.

Forest Dance 21st, 3127

By mid morn on the 21st, the ship spotted the shore. In late afternoon, Bonnett’s ship dropped anchor off the coast of Valora. Rangers on shore ferried Alpha Team over by boat and by evening, the team was safely once again in Ranger territory.

The post commander of Valora at that time was an RFC Smith. He was under orders to supply the team with all they would need to speed their return home. From reports, he did so admirably. After a long, hard journey, Alpha Team took some time to relax.

Forest Dance 22nd, 3127

When they were summoned in the morning, they found their mounts groomed, their supplies prepared, and wagons waiting. From Valora they headed to Tolm.

Forest Dance 25th, 3127

Within three days, they arrived in Tolm around mid-day. As there is not a strong Ranger presence, we arranged for a stay in a nice inn.

Forest Dance 26th, 3127

In the morning, Alpha Team departed Tolm for Layla’s Meet.

Forest Dance 29th, 3127

Again, within three days, Alpha Team arrived on schedule. Here, they stayed in a small inn run by friends of the Rangers.

Forest Dance 30th, 3127

In the morning, the team departed for Holk.

Forest Dance 33rd, 3127

Three days later, they arrived in Holk by mid-day. I know that Corporal Sssahliissstah’s original assignment was in the Korg Humps. I wonder if she was able to see some of those she knew? I hope so.

Alpha Team camped with some Goblinesh allies, close associates of the Rangers of the Korg Humps.

Raining Leaves 1st, 3127

Alpha Team departed in the morning headed for Tarrow.

Raining Leaves 3rd, 3127

They arrived in Tarrow by evening. Again, with a smaller Ranger presence, we billeted them in an inn.

Raining Leaves 4th, 3127

Alpha Team departs Tarrow for Serenity.

By evening, they arrived in Serenity. Though we have a Ranger presence, Serenity is independent, so our presence is not particularly strong. Again, we posted Alpha Team in an inn.

Raining Leaves 5th, 3127

Alpha departs Serenity for Farwatch.

Raining Leaves 8th, 3127

At midday, Alpha Team arrived in Farwatch. Here, my old friends invited them in. They stayed at the renovated Ermengild Manor overlooking the heart of the city. They were able to bathe and relax.

Raining Leaves 9th, 3127

Alpha Team departed Farwatch heading home.

Raining Leaves 10th, 3127

By evening, the Rangers of Alpha Team approached the Goblinesh Waystion on the Farwatch-Echer’Naught road. A light rain drizzled down, but the cold made it miserable. My scouts alerted me to their arrival. I had only arrived earlier that day, having just come from Echer’Naught.

I wanted a chance to meet with the team before the chaos of the city. First to approach me was RFC McKenzie Shan. Spying me sitting by the road, she immediately dropped back to warn her team.

Even here, in the heart of home territory, almost within spitting distance of Echer’Naught, Alpha Team followed protocol. It was good to see. When the rest of the team caught up, I invited them in.

Grooms took their horses while my Free Riders camped outside. Despite the wet and chill, all were warm, fed, and well into their cups.

Within the Smithing’s alehouse, we sat a table. I took time to greet them each. Speaking privately with Corporal Sssahliissstah about the team, and RFC Ranna about her loss.

I commiserated with both RFC Ingrid Snow and Shan, but latest reports indicated that their husband, Steelwing, was alive and heading south. Perhaps to Almahrad?

We drank and ate. They seemed well enough, considering their difficult journey. When I feel I have overstayed my welcome, I excuse myself and retire to my own staff. Sergeant Rildrirr joined me. It was good to see the towering barbarian again. He has flourished here.

Raining Leaves 11th, 3127

Alpha Team joined my column and we all road north. By evening, we passed through the South Gate and rode straight into High Towne to the gates of the Regional HQ.

Making my farwells, I headed to my office, leaving the Rangers to their own devices. RFC Blackstone took his wife to the Stahlheim Embassy where she would be housed until a more permanent solution could be arranged.

RFC’s Snow and Shan headed to the Sacred Grove. Both a druids, and both are mourning the absence of their husband.

As for the rest, I hear they enjoyed an evening at the Wayfarer’s Rest. I would have loved to join them, but there were far too many duties for me to attend to.

Raining Leaves 12th, 3127

On the morning of the 12th, RFC Shan and Snow spent the morning in the administrative office filling Matrimony paperwork. Once Steelwing’s condition is settled, they may apply for private housing.

RFC Ranna’s paperwork was processed. Her marriage to former Sergeant Grendel was approved as witnessed by fellow Rangers in the custom of the Northern Gathers. Bitter sweet as it may be, she is now eligible for survivor benefits.

I know that RFC Blackstone met with representatives form Stahlheim at the Embassy along with our ambassador, Lore Master Rourk WhiteBeard, and his wife, Ruby Blackstone. She declined to press charges for her disfigurement.

Stahlheim is campaigning heavily for her to be expedited to their Kingdom, but for the moment, she will remain here, in Echer’Naught. I pray we can keep her safe.

Colonel Anderson also noted that he spoke with Corporal Sssahliissstah and RFC Ranna about her conditions. We have been aware that she was corrupted by the Blood Witch when she saved Sergeant Grendel in Gram Gram’s camp. We also know that on her last night with Grendel, before he sacrificed himself, she begat with child.

Ranger Gilburt Gill Grimm reported to Master Ash’s local Mage Academy of Yomenie Curu in the early morning. By that evening, paperwork was filed with the Rangers notifying the Corps of Grimm’s secondary income, a stipend as a visiting professor of Alchemy at the Academy. To think of Ash in a lecture hall shaping the minds of young mages leaves me both sad and happy. Sad that such a great Ranger has left the field, but happy that his wealth of knowledge will be passed on. Seeing Grimm as a professor, though, time will tell. He seems overly focused on acquisition and wealth. Then again, are any of us what we began?

Raining Leaves 15th, 3127

Per my orders, Alpha Team reported to my office for official recognition and promotions.

Corporal Sssahliissstah was promoted to Sergeant

Ranger Sir Egon Mansfried was promoted to Ranger First Class

Ranger Gilbur Gill Grimm was promoted to Ranger First Class

Afterwards, there was a light breakfast. Later, Sergeant Sssahliissstah requested space for individual interviews with her team. Though I was not privy to those meetings, I know that she filed several requests.

For service above and beyond, The Explorer received a Commendation in his file. His peculiar arrangement with the Rangers precludes his promotion within our organization.

Sadly, there were two issues of disciplinary action.

RFC McKenzie Shan was cited for insubordination. On Forest Dance 10th, 3127, after the loss of her husband, RFC Shan threatened to disobey direct orders and go AWOL in search of RFC Steelwing. Ultimately, Sergeant Sssahliissstah was able to convince RFC Shan to comply, but the act threatened the team and could have cost the Rangers more lives.

RFC McKenzie Shan has received a Written Warning in her file for Insubordination.

RFC Gill was cited for disobeying a direct order. During a supply run while in Mindril Hall, Gill defied Corporal Sssahliissstah’s direct order NOT to purchase combustible components. He did so. Later, in battle with Novri’s Hellhouds, the combustible components endangered RFC Gill’s life and his team.

RFC Gill has received a Written Warning in his file, and his pay is docked to Ranger level for a month.

Due to the lengthy deployment, the fact that two members were pregnant, and other political issues involving Alpha Team, they were put on light duty.

Harvest Moons 16th, 3127

I invited Alpha Team, Major Hawksclaw’s family, Sergeant Minor Longtail’s family, Sir Regillus’ family, and select other friends and family to a Harvest Meal at my in town manor. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Harvest Moons 21st, 3127

I ordered RFC Sir Mansfried and RFC Blackstone to my office. There, at Corporal Sssahliissstah’s request,

RFC Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Corporal, and second command of Alpha Team.

RFC Sir Egon Mansfried was promoted to third in command, though he retains his RFC rank.

Alpha Team remained on light duty. RFC Ingrid Snow continued to seek High Druidess Treesinger’s aid in her pregnancy, while RFC Ranna sought the Silver Priests of the Silver Unicorn for her own.

Harvest Moons 25th, 3127

Alpha Team was briefed on their newest assignment. On Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127, dignitaries from across Olara and the northern Wildlands were invited to Echer’Naught to witness the unveiling of the Fort Halten Sanitation Works, the largest and most ambitious waste management system ever devised.

Though somewhat less inspiring than a grand memorial, the waste treatment plant would drain the cesspool in Low Town, preventing disease, misery, and the putrid stench that choked the city every summer.

The Duchess of Harken planned to attend, as well as, members of the Olaran Royal court. To provide security, Rangers were drawn from the surrounding areas. All told, we planned to field nearly 1500 Rangers to provide security for over 6000 people.

With all eyes on the Rangers, it was imperative that no civilians be harmed during the event. To that end, Alpha Team requested special training. I authorized joint training in Low Town with the City Watch.

For the next week and a half, the Rangers of Alpha Team trained, patrolled, and learned the lay of the land.

Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127

In the pre-dawn, Alpha Team reported to Major Hawksclaw’s command post in the local HQ. They were joined by Rangers and City Watch, before dispersing to their crowd control post near the Low Town housing blocks.

Rangers, Milita, and City Watch patrolled every street corner. The crowds gathered quickly, the all eyes were on the Sanitation Works.

As expected, there were minor disturbances, petty theft, and medical emergencies. Only an abortive attack by the Storm Guard near Alpha Team’s post nearly ruined the event, but Major Hawkclaw’s Free Riders, and Alpha Team’s swift response contained the attack before anyone was harmed.

By the time I arrived, The Explorer had secured their arcfire and the Storm Guard were being carted off to prison.

Everything seemed to go well. Too well, I suppose. With a mighty groan, the Sanitation Works roared to life, and clean water poured from the offal of the city. Sir Halten seemed less than pleased to be the namesake of a sewage factory, but there was little he could say.

Everyone retired to estates, or street parties, to celebrate the day’s events. It was not until that afternoon the first signs of danger appeared.

At the moment the Sanitation works started, it appeared that every well in High Towne ran dry. With hundreds of dignitaries retiring to the hill for parties, and bathes, the sudden loss of water through them into a rage. By nightfall, I had a horde of raging nobles beating down the gates of the Regional HQ.

Sir Halten, peeved by the days events, took the opportunity to upbraid me and blame the Rangers for the loss of water. He threatened retribution if I did not immediately redistribute water rights from Middle Town to the nobles of High Towne. He stormed out as Major Hawksclaw and the commanders of Alpha Team arrived.

I summoned the city engineer, and Ranger teams for security, including the remainder Alpha Team. We particularly needed Corporal Blackstone for his affinity for stone. The engineer, Master Kester Highwall, arrived with his staff just after Alpha Team was posted at the gates.

While we debate the issue, the Beacon Tower’s bell rings. Invasion. Every man in the room grab their weapons as Hawksclaw opens the door. To the north, a column of smoke rises into the sky. We sprint to our horses, and ride to the north gate of High Towne which as collapsed into a sink hole. All of the guards sucked down with it.

I order Hawksclaw to handle the crowd of nobles while Corporal Blackstone tries to rescue those lost in the accident. He save a two, but ten died instantly. More Rangers arrive, the Engineer as well.

Every analysis suggests the hole is naturally forming due to the sudden change in the water table. But why? Only then does Master Kester Highwall report he detects a large void directly behind the sinkhole.

With no further information, I order Corporal Blackstone and RFC Mansfried into the void on a recon mission. If we are under attack, we would need to know by whom. Grasping the Olaran, they sink into the earth.

We wait a heartbeat, and then the night is ripped by the sharp, staccato report of arcfire. Burnt orange flashes from cracks in the ground. And Mansfried is blasted out of the hole, dragging Blackstone’s unconscious body. The Olaran was badly wounded, his body riddle by wounds that punched through his armor like lances.

Healers immediately tended to the wounded as I called for a shield wall. When my Rangers were revived, I listened in growing horror to their report. In the void they found ruins, an entrance of some kind and eight glowing lights which floated in the gloom. From those burning lights lanced beams of pure arcfire powerful enough to damage the Ramshorn shield.

Seeing the crack across the white ramshorn filled me with a sense of dread I have not felt since losing Ironblood.

Tremors rock High Towne. Evacuations have begun. We have an unknown enemy wielding powerful arcfire below our city and every dignitary is now in danger, along with our families and everything we have built.

This may be one of the gravest fights of our lives. And if we fail…
…We may lose Echer’Naught forever.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Echer’Naught Ranger Regional Command, Olara

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Campaign Report 124
Fallen Angel

Stonefoot

Filed: Forest Dance 11th, 3127

Well, my cousin warned me to stop taking contracts from Rangers. I should have listened. Last time, I swear.

Forest Dance 6th, 3127

Met the grand lady, Ranna, and her pasty companion, Grimm. Good name for the sallow faced Alchemist.

We dined at the Stone Circle Pub, block over from the druid’s circle. Stone Druids, solemn lot. But, they brew good ale. And, the Pub crisps ain’t half bad.

Forest Dance 7th, 3127

On my second day there, while we broke our fast, the rest of the current incarnation of Alpha Team joined us. An odd lot.

The team is now led by a Dregordian Adept, Ssahliissstah. Corporal by the gold cloak pin. Then Ranna of course. I recall not a year ago she was but a shooter on the team. Then she went and got with that other ogre fellow. Sad to hear he died, and team leader at that. I wonder what happened to that ol’ Volstagg fellow? Then you have the trio. Two comely human women, Ingrid and Kenzie with their winged elf beau. He’s a player, no doubt. But, seems pretty smitten. Who’m I to judge? There is the grumpy dwarf Blackstone and his wife, the red eyed Ruby. Odd couple, but then again, it is political. Poor lass. And then, the Olaran tin knight and the cadaverous alchemist. I don’t know what to the say about the red skinned demon dwarf. Builder? That what they call ’em? This specimen has a “look” about him.

I don’t know where the Rangers find these clinkers, but they would do well to mine for more refined ore, if you know what I mean.

So, the Corporal stated her intention to head over the Black Mountains to Temper. A dangerous crossing, but as we are not yet in winter, passable. None of her Rangers seemed too pleased, but to their credit, they accepted her edict with passable aplomb.

I went with Alchemist to procure the necessary supplies for such a treacherous terrain. He is a greedy sot. I gather from the warning issued by his Corporal that he has a habit of purchasing goods not on the approved list. Though he salivated over much, he restrained his darker nature. Sad state the Rangers must be in these days.

He was of some help appeasing the merchant folk thereabout, but his easy way with their daughters bordered on impropriety. Worse, I fear that at least one young lass is under the impression that he intends to enter negotiations for matrimony. Best we leave quickly.

We packed, and then departed by late morn. It was to a short enough high to the foothills. A day if you were complete greenhorn. It took us two. Dranak’s Beard, this newest roster of Alpha Team leaving something to be desired. Still, a job’s a job so they say.

Half way into the hike, the one they call Kenzie, riding a large warhose Buttercup, rode straight into a bog. The massive beast sank up to her belly, and there she remained. The entire column stopped while ropes could be rigged and the poor beast dragged kicking and screaming from the muck.

Pitiful business. I spent the afternoon pleasantly enough sunning on a rock, puffing away at some Almahradi weed. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, though hardly inspiring for the Ranger’s “Premier” Calvary unit.

The delay cost us a day. We ended up camping not far from the bog to give the Rangers and their mounts a rest.

Forest Dance 8th, 3127

Up before dawn, we reached the base of the Black Mountains early on the 8th, but far too late to begin the climb. So we made camp and waited till dawn. It was a pleasant enough evening. The lands are fertile with herds grazing across open fields. Here and there farms dot the landscape. As bucolic a scene as I have witnessed.

Hardly the typical home of the dwavish people. But, we’ve got to eat as well I suppose. Though, I imagine that few of the ranchers are of dwarf stock. Much easier to hire out scratching in the dirt.

Forest Dance 9th, 3127

We began our ascent early on the 9th. It was cool, but not cold. Though, I smelled a hint of winter on the air. It is going to be a cold one, no doubt.

It shames me to say that the only member of the party to fall on that first leg was the dwarf Blackstone. City dwarves know nothing for the mountain. Shame.

We reached the end of the shallow grade, bout midway up the pass. There we camped. They may have little navigational or mountain climbing skills, but they make a decent camp. We enjoyed hot stew and coffee. Blackstone’s wife huddled by the fire, staring into the flames.

Kenzie fussed over Ingrid, while Steelwing watched the back trail like he expected a demon to leap right out of the shadows. Come to it, the Rangers seemed jumpy since leaving Mindril Hall. Well, more so than usual. I find the greencloaks to be a generally high struck lot.

Started raining about dark and pissed down for hours. The first stars broke through by 3 am, leaving a thick coating of hoarfrost over the tents and flyers.

Forest Dance 10th, 3127

Breaking out of our bedrolls, we headed up the slope into the steeper grade. Here, we ran a belay. The chance of one of these Rangers taking a tumble off the mountain seemed a surety. Moreover, I would have bet my hat that we would lose at least one of their animals on the climb. The goat seemed in his element, and the dwarf ponies are sure of foot. But the destriers? And a Mule?

We made decent time. Late afternoon, we paused to rest before the final climb. With a few hours of good climbing left, we started up the steepest grade. Early in, Gil and Ingrid take a tumble. Mansfried tried to brace, but he too went over. Only Kenzie and Blackstone saved the entire team from plummeting to their deaths.

Good thing I had the presence of mind to tie them together. Once we reeled them in like wide mouth bass, we continued on. An hour later, Blackstone took the dive. Kenzie and Mansfried caught him, and reeled him back in.

The Rangers were looking blue by the time we reached the summit. I’d kitted them with good fur lined, oiled winter coats, but this high the wind seems to cut through to the core. Even the dwarves were begin to flag.

We were almost to the summit camp when the darkening sky was lit by a ball of fire arcing lazily over our heads. I stood bewildered as I watched the falling star passing overhead. In moments, it slammed into the rock wall, exploding into a shower of fire and stone.

Then I heard the distinct rumble, felt vibrations coming up through the soles of my boots.

AVALANCHE!

I screamed for the idiots to run, before taking my own advice and sprinting for the dubious safety of the summit camps rocky overhang. By some miracle, we all made it before the shower of stones rolled over us, mashing through the pass and down into the wide valley below.

It lasted moments, but some of the most terrible of my travels. When all was said and done, the following silence rang in my ears. My mind was only just processing that we had been attacked when the mountain offered up a new horror.

The silence was shattered by a screeching roar from high above us. A shiver ran through my body at the sound. I’d only heard it once before, but I’ll never forget the sound.

Ice Wyverns.

The blast and rockslide must have roused them from their nest in the mountains. Now they were angry, and hungry by the sound. I shouted for the Rangers to take cover.

Most took my advice, but the human girl, Ingrid froze. In that moment, an Ice Wyvern swooped and snatched her off the ledge. Ranna, the big girl, raised her massive crossbow to bring down the Wyvern before it could get out of range.

That’s when a second beasty unleashed a blast of icy breath, freezing the ogress where she stood. The devil had sneaked up while we were distracted, crawling down the cliff nearly on top of us.

With one wyvern winging away with Ingrid, the other was about to pounce on us from above. And then the thrice damned Builder quaffs a damn potion, then has Ranna toss him onto the Wyvern stalking us from behind.

The beast was as confused as I was. Damn thing took off before any of us could stop them. And then there were two winging away.

Most of the other Rangers just stood around shocked by the sudden turn of events. Kenzie had the presence of mind to summon up a wind spirit to send after the Wyvern carrying off her…wife, I think.

As for the builder, the Corporal ordered Steelwing to help him. And so, we stood on the cliffside watching the drama unfold in the air over the valley. Kenzie’s sprite took down the Wyvern and carried Ingrid back to us. On the other side, the Builder started shooting the beast out from under him. Steelwing reached him, and they killed the beast.

Then, the aevakar tried to carry the builder back to the cliff. To be honest, I didn’t think they’d make it. The last few feet were touch and go. Kinda funny to see the little one scrabbling his feet to get purchase as the winged elf started to give out.

But, after a few moments of sheer terror, all were safely back on solid stone. Which was all well and good, but that did NOT explain who was trying to kill us and why the Rangers had neglected to mention that little fact before hiring me to guide them through the mountains.

Dear reader, let me catch you up. It seemed that the Aevakar Steelwing had some sort of blood feud with a Kal Winghunter named Novri. They spent the last two decades knocking of each other’s families till only the two remained.

Now, Steelwing was also married to Ingrid and Kenzie, and Ingrid was with child. Who makes a mountain pass while pregnant?! Anyway, Novri was trying to kill them all, in particular Steelwing and his wives. And the Rangers have been running from this hunter for months.

Of course they never mentioned any of this before. So, I refused to assist any further until they paid me double. Somewhat chagrined, Corporal Ssahliisssta agrees. That settled, Steelwing suggests that they had better prepare for a fight.

I tended to agree. So, they spend the better part of the evening fortifying our little mountain camp. What they lacked in any other usable skills, these Rangers made up in digging in. Even I was impressed.

By the second watch, everyone was snuggled into foxholes waiting for the inevitable. We were not disappointed. Late in the third watch, Corporal Ssahliissstah gives a shout.

Half a dozen hellhouds charged into our wall and abattoirs on the western fortifications. Moments later, a trio of thratchen appeared in our midst, gibbering and slashing. For the moment, they seemed focused on the Rangers, so I drew my axes and found a good place out of the scuffle.

Corporal Ssahliissstah battled the hellhouds on the west flank, while Grimm and Mansfried battled the thratchen. Ingrid fired bolts. I couldn’t see from my vantage, but I gather something happened to the Builder.

Before Ranna could really join battle, a boar headed childer, what the Rangers called a Calydoe, smashed through our western defense and attacked Ranna. Despite the clear threat, she instead took a small, white and blue mask from her belt and shoved it on the Builder’s face?

Then, Kenzie summoned a spirit of earth to battle the boar headed childer. Someone drpped one of the thratchen, and half of the hellhouds exploded into ashen motes. The Rangers seemed to be turning the tide when flames exploded out of the ground and twisted around us all like serpents. They seared the skin and blackened flesh.

From our midst, a figure shimmered into view. Novri. His eyes glowed a faint blue, but his hands were wreathed in flames. The Winghunter had arrived.

In a taunting voice, Novri offered to allow Steelwing to choose one of his wives to save. The other, Novri would take I have few doubts how that would ended for the poor girl. I shudder at the thought.

It seemed our fates were sealed. And then, Steelwing exploded out of the bindings. I do not know how, or where he found the strength. But, he was on Novri in a flash. Novri was faster.

The Winghunters blades punched through Steelwing’s chest, while Steelwing’s wingblades impaled the Kal. In the blood embrace, Steelwing hurled them both over the cliff and out of sight. Ingrid and Kenzie stood stunned.

In that moment, all but the Calydoe vanished. The Builder opens fire, peppering it with his arclance. I believe Ingrid finished if off. And then, the battle was over as quickly as it begun.

The unity that had saved the team in combat evaporated as they suddenly fell to bickering about what to do. Kenzie demanded to go after Steelwing. She even threatened to disobey orders, and hunt him herself. Ingrid, with child, seemed more sane. But, Blackstone, who you might have though would have first loyalty to his wife, rather offered to go with Kenzie. The Builder and Gill both voted strongly to leave the Aevakar. I think Mansfried voiced a similar sentiment.

Kenzie and Ingrid claimed to be able to sense him. Elf magic? I honestly understand little of this.

They argued until Corporal Ssahliissstah took the strange white/blue mask and contacted Volstagg. So he lived! I’m not sure what exactly transpired, but when she exited her telepathic trance, she informed the team that a dwarven rescue team would come for Steelwing within a couple days. But, they had a mission to finish.

We each found a warmish place to bed down for what remained of the night. Each wondering what fresh horrors the dawn might bring. All I know, once I get these Rangers to Temper, I’m taking a long vacation far from anyone who has heard of Grayson’s Gray Rangers.

Stonefoot

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Hell Hounds and a Wedding
Ranger Gilbert Grimm's Report

Since joining this team I have found myself profoundly surprised with each new encounter I have in such a short amount of time and how quickly dire situations turn into those of a more casual and personal nature. This was no exception.

We had departed the Desert city of Quadir, clan chief statue not in tow, and began our march to the grand city of Echer’Naught. I have heard stories of the great Olaran city and the grand metropolis it had become in such a short time, and i was greatly eager to enter such a grand and profitable city. Sadly it seems that day will have to wait.

Not long into our journey home, which was now set a course for the coast in hopes of an aquatic vessel to carry us home, we were approached by what seemed like a group carrying torches in the night. Sadly what seemed like torches were in fact flaming demon dogs, or commonly referred to as Hell Hounds, snarling demonic beasts that most certainly were out for our blood. In an instant the creatures teleported and surrounded us in a matter of seconds and let out a bone chilling howl. I am not ashamed of what I did next, I ran. Before I knew what was happening my feet moved by themselves and I bolted into the trees. My experiences normally say that running at times can be a wise descision, giving time to regroup ones self and prepare for counter measures. I did not prepare for running into an even larger and scarier Hell Hound, but rarely do we get much of a chance to prepare for such incidents. I had no time to brace myself before I found myself in its jaws and in another moment it dropped me like a piece of meat back at my teams feet.

Returning to the team I had discovered they had not fared well either. Many of the beasts surrounded them, spewing fire over the close group. I feared for our lives but in an instant the alpha was dead from a well placed and powerful attack from the Corporal, and soon there after the tides of battle shifted in our favor and the beasts lay dead at our feet At least that’s what i was told. Fire engulfed my body not long after rejoining the group and i learned soon after some of my alchemical components may have exploded, and i don’t the corporal is very happy with me at the moment.

We had no time to revel in our victory, I was healed and awoke to find ourselves running for our lives to the nearest form of safety, which is where we rest now. We found ourselves in a druidic settlement dedicated to Dranic and therefore home to primarily dwarves, but thankfully this is hallowed ground and we are safe….. for now at least.

On a lighter note and one of the sureal moments I had hinted to prior was that there is to be a wedding on the morrow, joining Steelwing, Ingrid, and Kenzie. They are a strange bunch but still I wish them the best and look forward to continue messing with the young ladies. So here I rest with my superior, Ranna, she has been outcast from the settlement as she is obviously tainted with some form of darkness. I feel for her, being cast out is no easy pill to swallow and that may why I stayed or the fact Kenzie and Ingrid don’t want me anywhere near Steelwing. Either way I look forward to the festivities tomorrow and a break from all the fire, ascended know we need a break.

Respectfully,
Ranger Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 123
Kenzie, Ingrid, Steelwing Wedding

Steelwing

Filed: Forest Dance 6th, 3127

MARRIED AND TO BE A FATHER! I have not the words. Only the Essania remains and then our lives will be complete.

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

After Ingrid’s announcement, I could not find sleep I just lay between Kenzie and Ingrid listening to them sleep. Life is strange. I never saw myself setting down, yet here we are.

Eventually, the Rangers stirred. Corporal Ssahliissstah seemed highly motivated to return to Echer’Naught as quickly as possible. She split the team to speed preparations.

I was dispatched with Blackstone to procure our gear from the Royal Vizier. Easy enough. Since the Rangers managed to negotiate a truce, or alliance, the Prince’s court had been most kind to us. The Vizier met us in his royal office… It was opulent as I have come expect.

To my genuine surprise, he approved the return of our weapons without any issue. Though, we would have to pick them up as we left the city. Writ in hand, we returned to our quarters to wait for the other teams.

Ingrid and Kenzie were sent to rent or buy mounts. Which may or may have not been the best idea. It took them all morning, and most of the afternoon. While Kenzie went to play with the stable’s horses, Ingrid conducted interviews of all the available camels. Yes, we had to buy camels.

Egon and Gill went for supplies. Again, letting Gill anywhere near merchants is a bad idea. His obsession with Alchemical components is going to get him, and us killed. Against orders, he bought enough alcohol to make a decent bomb. We only found out later when he exploded and nearly burned the team alive.

Still, by evening, the team was returned, supplies secured, and it was time to rest until the morrow. While we prepared our last dinner in Quadir, Slate Rockbreaker visited his sister, Ruby Blackstone, and Blackstone, the brother in law. He wanted to wish his family a safe trip east, and thank the Rangers for their help.

The Stahlhiem smith, Glamdrang, presented Blackstone with Stahlheim robes and suggested he retire from Diplomacy…as he is a TERRIBLE diplomat and nearly started a war with the dwarves.

Dancing Clouds 20th, 3127

Before dawn, we gathered at one of the main South Gates, collected our weapons, and bid farewell to Quadir. Though our stay was pleasant enough, I am happy to be well rid of the place. With Ingrid now pregnant, it is more important than ever that we return to the East.

So, with me covering Kenzie on point, we made our way slowly along the Midril Hall road.

Dancing Clouds 22nd, 3127

We crossed into the dwarven lowlands two days later. Ranna and two others begin to set up camp while I circled above. While they worked, I noted torches moving quickly through the scrublands south toward the team. I dropped down to warn the Corporal. The team was already arming up. They had heard wolves howling nearby.

While the rest of the team discussed whether the torch bearers were chasing the wolves, or vice versa, and arguing over who should do what. The Explorer ignored the confusion, and settled into his own sniper’s nest. Muriel began to herd the animals away from the approaching torches.

Turns out, the torches WERE the wolves. Or, more aptly, Hellhounds. A dozen. And these were not your run-of-the-mill Abyssal pets, these were improved. Someone had cast Teleport on the beasts.

They surrounded us before the Corporal finished arguing with the team. I had no time get airborne before the smoldering demon dogs opened their smoking maws and belched orange flame. Six hellhounds bathed the team in fire.

My wings went up like tinder…again. The foul stench of burning flesh, hair, and feathers filled the air. Around me, Alpha Team cowered behind shields, and tried to avoid the flames as best they could.

Before we could recover, six more hounds leaped from the shadows and tore into the teammebers on the flanks. From behind him, Grimm shrieked like a small child and tore off, dropping weapons and gear.

Fike!

I threw myself on the ground, thrashing and rolling, trying to put out the flames. Around me, the hounds ripped and tore into the team. Kenzie and Ingrid took hits. Ruby fell to the ground screaming.

From nearby, a Clay Golem clawed its way out of the ground and started pounding the dogs. The Explorer laid down a steady fire, even as the demon dogs chomped down on him. RFC Ranna caught fire, Blackstone dragged her beneath the earth, putting out the flames.

It was chaos. Snarling and flames. Green flashes and slashing steel. Then, Grimm’s body landed nearby and a MASSIVE Hellhound stalked out of the wood. It opened its jaws to breath fire and was exploded by a bolt from Corporal Ssahliissstah. I sometimes forget she is an Adept, honestly.

I finally managed to smother the flames and crawled to my feet, smoking, dirty, and pissed. A HUGE shadow passed over me as an Iron Golem rose into the darkening sky and began to stomp the dogs into ash.

Their Pack Leader dead, and two golems crushing through their ranks, the demon dogs began to fall. Ranna claimed at least two. The Builder cut through them with arcfire. Grimm regained his feet, but everyone around him burned from exploded components. Corporal Ssahliissstah looked PISSED. If he survived, I expect he will regret his choice of alchemy.

One by one, the Hellhounds fell, till the last snapped at the Explorer. I managed to stagger over, and slice its head off, ending the battle. Corporal Ssahliissstah ordered everyone to down Healing Potions, bind wounds and prepare to move.

Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri should not be far behind his hounds. In our state, we would not survive the encounter. So, we ran. For our lives.

Again.

Dancing Clouds 26th, 3127

Taking little rest, and eating in the saddle, we managed to reach Midril Hall by mid afternoon. After a quick discussion, we decided to reach out to the local Druids, seeing as Blackstone, Kenzie, and Ingrid are all Druids.

The Stone Circle invited us in, all but RFC Ranna who they called and abomination. Apparently she has “corrupted blood” whatever that means. Gill agreed to stay with Ranna in a nearby inn, while the rest of us enjoyed our stay within the cavern sanctuary of the druids.

Our wounds were tended, we were fed and offered drink. There was even inner pool for bathing. Or, wade pool for the Dregordian.

While with the healers, Blackstone wasted time telling the Druids Ranna’s tragic tale of love, loss, and corruption. They were predictably unimpressed.

I used my time more wisely. During our trip, both through in the Rockbreaker Clanhome and while in Quadir, I worked hard to acquire rings, dresses, and gifts for Ingrid and Kenzie. My plan, in short, was to propose to my loves upon our return to Echer’Naught and wed during the ceremony of Essania…

…but we are never making it home.

Novri dogs our every step. And, there is also Aronzo’s werewolves out there somewhere. Worse, Kal, Xaos, and desert riders…

Outside of allied strongholds, we suffer a near fatal attack every couple of days. Worse, in the face of clear and impending destruction, Alpha Team continues to argue and act more as a mob than a military force. Outside of vague assignments (scouts, healers, etc…) we have little organization and less of a plan.

Worse, we find out that Corporal Ssahliissstah changed the return route. I get it, Blackstone and The Explorer are like stones. And we may not find a barrel to save them. But, crossing the mountains will add days, maybe weeks to our trip and leave us along and isolated.

Like I said…we are never making it home.

So, I proposed. Rushed and breathless. And, they both said yes. Yes, and they agreed to do so immediately. I had dressed already made. It was presumptuous, but since I had no idea when we would reach a Senior Druid to conduct the Essania ritual, and I planned on marriage at the time, it seemed a sensible precaution.

The rings were dwarven make, of Olaran fashion. Like I said, I had everything we needed. So, while they prepared themselves, I arranged everything.

It was rushed. And chaotic. Ranna was not allowed to attend on account of being an abomination. Grimm stayed away, which Ingrid seemed particularly pleased about. Probably a story there.

On the eve of the 26th, I gathered in a subterranean temple, surrounded by heavily armed Rangers, a dwarven Druid, without an elf in sight to marry the women of my dreams. It was perfect.

After a VERY short service, food and ale was provided. The dwarves were kind enough to provide private accommodations for our first night as a marriage trio. I’m not sure if being married makes it better, but it was breathtaking.

After our consummation, I spoke privately with Kenzie. I know she feels displaced, her home far way. My home is gone, along with my family. I promised her that, no matter what happened, she would have a home with Ingrid and me. We would be her family. I intend on keeping that promise.

Dancing Clouds 27th, 3127

Starting in the morning, we were ordered to rest and heal. It took weeks. But, for us, we thoroughly enjoyed our honeymoon.

Forest Dance 6th, 3127

After weeks of rest and…relaxation, the team began to assemble. Ranna arranged for a dwarven guide to lead us through the mountains. His name is Stonefoot and he is apparently an old friend of Alpha Team, having guided them from Almaharad to Paradise over a year prior.

Sadly, Ranna remains the only member of the team he formerly knew. Still, our chances of survival have gone up marginally. What horrors await us? Time will tell.

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 122
Quadir, Rockbreaker, Ranger Alliance

Steelwing,

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

I am a FATHER! Or will be. I never really thought about children I suppose it was always possible. When I chose to be with Ingrid and Kenzie, I figured the matter was closed. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure Aevakar and humans COULD have children.

Apparently we can, with help.

Ever since Ingrid told me, I can’t stop smiling. I know our calling is dangerous, but I want nothing more than to start a family with my fierce and beautiful goddesses.

Though, now I worry for Kenzie. I know she feels displaced, homeless. That tears it. We will make a home for all of us, and our children!

And I think we stopped a war a maybe saved the world.

Festival Moons 8th, 3127

Saying goodbye to our friends from Delta Team, Alpha Team continued rattling down the desert road south toward Quadir. RFC Ranna drove the overloaded miner’s cart. Corporal Sssahliissstah rode in the back, straddling the petrified statuary of the former Clan Chief Rockbreaker. She held him in place with her tail.

It was actually pretty undignified and hilarious.

This left, I think Ingrid on Diego and Kenzie on Buttercup. The Builder bounced along atop Sergeant Muriel, RFC Blackstone on Tiny, and everyone else, Ruby Rockbreaker or Blackstone, not really sure which, Lieutenant Ammira kes Ziva (Farspeaker), Egon Mansfried, and Gill Grimm scrabbling along riding the shaggy mountain ponies given to us by Slate’s dwarves.

The combined weight of a 500+ pound ogress in 200+ pounds of armor and weapons, the 250+ pound dregordian, and the at least 200 pound stone dwarf were far more than the gamely little cart could manage. Within half an hour, the front seat was crushed, the bed sagged, and sparks flew from the undercarriage. From the cart’s, not our beefy female commanders.

So, a change in distribution was ordered. Only, about this time, The Explorer rode up from watching our backtrail to inform us riders were approaching from A’Morgal at a high speed.

Though it was POSSIBLE, the riders were chasing down another band of statuary snatchers, it was likely they were after our little band. We were hardly suspicious. The cart alone could be seen for hundreds of yards, sparks spraying brightly into the night. It was actually very pretty.

So, Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered Egon and Ingrid to take up post back along the road. Kenzie and Blackstone took point. She, the Corporal, the Builder, Ranna, and Grimm managed the transfer of the Clan Chief to Muriel, the only beast of burden able to cart the hefty headman at speed.

I was honored with the task of providing a distraction for our approaching riders.

With a passionate farewell kiss to my loves, I dashed away, gaining speed and altitude. From a few dozen feed up, I could see them in a loose column, riding hard. A dozen or more Desert Riders. Easy prey.

They never looked up. My first shot felled the lead rider’s mount. Horse and rider went down in a tumbled mess. The next three riders slammed into the horse wreck, going down in heap. Only one horse and rider managed to kick free from the scramble.

The other’s managed to swerve wide. Eight riders spurred onward. One circled back to shoot at me. It took a bit, but I finished off the first group and winged away toward Ingrid’s position.

By the time I arrived, seven riders were circling Egon and Ingrid. They were both in the dirt, having been dragged several feet. I THINK they tried to use the rope to pull a rider of his mount without tying the tripline down.

Which worked, but nearly killed them in the process.

The riders were circling and shooting. Too far for Egon to reach, and too many for Ingrid to take down quickly.

Then, Egon ran. The towering knight jumped up and scampered off, tail between his legs leaving my Ingrid to fight alone. I considered killing him, but I had to save Ingrid first.

Not, that she needed saving much. The first arrow caught her, but once she regained her footing, the vigorous Olaran woman when about her grim work.

The desert night was lit by bright flashes of green bolts as Ingrid picked off the riders one by one. By the time I arrived, she had dropped three. I cut felled another as Egon managed to reach his horse tied to a scrub nearby, one of the shaggy ponies.

He looked ridiculous, this massive olaran knight charging into battle atop a pony not much bigger than a large dog. Still, he charged hard, slamming into one of the riders. Unfortunately, the desert rider got in a lucky blow under the knight’s arm, wounding him deeply. I swooped in, decapitating the rider.

In the meantime, my darling dervish laid waste to the desert riders. One after another she blasted them from their saddles. Of the either, she alone counted for half. But, they managed a few lucky shots.

Ingrid took an arrow to the back, and I to the chest, knocking me out of the air. At this, Egon rode through, lifting Ingrid over his saddle and riding away. In the end, there were only two left.

As my love rode away, I undercut one of the riders, spilling him to the dust. Turning I shot the last mounted rider, and sped away. The unhorsed man firing impotently as I winged way.

Catching up to Egon, I noted that he was badly wounded, and Ingrid had sprouted her own feathers. At least three arrows were lodge in my harness, two biting deep enough to draw blood. Behind us, Diego ambled along. He seemed distinctly nonplussed by the entire bout.

We rode up to the wagon in sad shape. During our short skirmish, Ranna and Sssahliissstah had managed to transfer the body of the Clan Chief Rockbreaker to Muriel. The Explorer strapped him down with form of Builder wizardry.

Then, everyone started swapping mounts. The Explorer took Ranna’s seat driving the wagon. Ranna climbed in the back, bracing Mog to cover our backtrail. Sssahliissstah climbed onto Diego. Everyone else scrambled onto mountain ponies leaving Buttercup and Tiny from Kenzie and Blackstone respectively.

That bit of mummery complete, we resumed out southward flight. Well, the Builder drove off the moment Ranna was seated, so he was almost to our forward scout position by the time the rest of the team sorted themselves out.

As we rode past, Ingrid leaped onto Buttercup, and Blackstone tiny. About then, Ranna noted that, again, we were once again followed. And the chase resumed. For two and a half days…

Festival Moons 10th, 3127

About mid day, the desert riders were closing. Our mounts, even Muriel were played out. Many of us were wounded from the constant skirmishing. As the sun rose high overhead, the Builder spied more riders ahead along the road.

He reigned in, allowing the others to catch up, and also reducing the lead on the chase party. When Corporal Sssahliissstah saw the trap, she nearly snapped the reigns in frustration.

Hunters behind, and unknown forces ahead, we were well and truly trapped. Two days of running sapped our strength. We had little left. So, she chose the unknown to the fore, rather than the sure fate behind.

And so, with the Builder holding aloft a Ranger cloak as a makeshift flag, we rode upon a line of desert warriors.

Sitting in the middle of the road was a mounted figure, feminine in height and proportion, but clearly the leader. Behind…her…were other riders, all waiting. Flanking left and right of the road were ranks of archers and warriors all waiting on some signal to attack.

As we slowed, the riders behind reigned up short, just shy of our party. It seemed we had just crossed an invisible border between too lands. Whoever this woman was, the A’Morgal riders seemed reluctant to cross into her lands. A formidable woman indeed.

The leader of the riders insulted the woman, calling her Shiek Satima. She insulted them before threatening to kill any of them who dare enter her lands. He warned her that she would regret her insolence, before riding off in a huff.

It was all very dramatic. And, were I not nursing a sucking chest wound, I would have been very impressed. Then she turned and asked who spoke Aradi.

Before I could speak, Kenzie raised her hand. I bit my tongue so hard it bled. Dammit.

The woman ordered Kenzie to attend her and translate. I kept my mouth shut. Better this Satima woman not know that others in the group could understand her. It might help later.

I would have said as much to Corporal Sssahliissstah, but there was no time, or privacy. So I kept my own counsel for the time.

Through my beloved Kenzie, Satima invited us into her lands, but warned that we would be harshly punished if we displeased her. So, under heavy guard, we were escorted south to the city of Quadir.

Quadir is impressive if you like fluted columns and gold onion roofs. The city is the first “desert” city I have seen set in the middle of a giant grasslands. Still, it was more orderly than A’Morgal or Paradise.

We were escorted into the place. There, our weapons were confiscated. I expected most of the Rangers to be loaded for bear, but I was impressed to see the Ruby carried a considerable arsenal. Even if none was larger than a dinner knife.

After disarming the team, we were escorted by servants to a large, open bathhouse where we were given soap and fresh bandages to treat our wounds, food, water, and wine. Not to mention the bath which felt…divine…

Between Ingrid, her fairy friend, and Blackstone, all our wounds were healed quickly enough. Her fairy managed to launder and mend our clothes, so within a half hour we were fed, healed, clean, and reasonably ready to attend the Prince.

Servants came to fetch us. They led us back to the main quartyard, through yawning studded wooden doors into a wide marbled floor between colonnades. It was impressive in the over the top style of the Aradi Princes. The Farspeaker quickly took the lead, bowing as she approached.

Finally, we stood before the Prince of Quadir. He was older, weathered but still powerful, despite his right arm being pretty badly mangled. His Vizier, an erudite and oiled man, stood beside him. The Prince never actually spoke to us, relying on his Vizier to relay his words.

The Farspeaker handled all negotiations. Normal stuff. Thank you for saving us. We are sorry to start a border war with A’Morgal. Please don’t kill us. Oh, and if you could let the dwarves know we have their clan chief stature, that would be helpful.

She was more tactful, but that was the gist. Turns out a Lt. Cromwell in A’Davar had contacted the Prince about our arrival. Both Prince Morok of A’Davar and Prince Romar of the desert Riders spoke well of the Greencloaks? Clearly there were some politics involved. I was just glad Blackstone was being silent.

In the end, the Prince, or his Vizier, simply allowed us to stay as “guests” until they decided how to execute us. We bowed out, and were escorted to the nicest prison compound I have ever seen.

There was a decent sized marble pavilion in the center of a wide, open courtyard. The pavilion was decently large, but more an elaborate vaulted roof supported by literally hundreds of columns.

Rooms were created by fitting decorative sandalwood panels between columns. It was beautiful and totally impractical. The “walls” went only about half way up, leaving the ceilings open. The design only worked in the hot, dry climates of the desert region.

Though it DID make a fantastic prison. Around the courtyard was a tall, wide wall patrolled day and night by dozens of archers and spearmen. The only way into or out of our courtyard were two heavy, ironwood gates. They were barred from the other side.

We were trapped. But, we had food, water, clothes, comfortable couches, futons, and beds. Again, the nicest of prisons.

And we sat waiting for four weeks. I know the others grew stir crazy. Corporal Sssahliissstah started sparing anyone or anything. I caught her shadow boxing a fern. It got bad.

For them. I quite enjoyed myself. Ingrid was more than willing to enjoy my company. Kenzie too, but she is apparently less comfortable with exhibitionism? Though, I have NO complaints. She is…very talented and many techniques.

Festival Moons 33rd, 3127

After nearly a month, Shiek Satima comes for us. We are allowed to prepare before being escorted to a wide plaza overlooking Quadir’s grasslands. The Prince was in attendance, reclined on a mountain of silk pillows. His daughters, granddaughters and servants around. Guards liked the rails. And, the Vizier.

Also in attendance was a delegation from the Rockbreaker Clan. Acting Chief Rouark, his nephew, Slate, and our good friend Glamdring from Stahlheim. Apparently, they had agreed to the meeting. Though, I am not entirely sure if they weren’t there to demand Alpha Team be turned over to their justice for our innumerable crimes against the dwarves of that Clanhome.

We were allowed to state our case, and again, the Farspeaker did an admirable job. She explained that we had recovered the Clan Cheif’s petrified body from A’Morgal, it ALMOST as good condition as when it was stolen. But, that we learned that Prince Wakheem was NOT responsbile for the theft.

Xaos forces had taken the Chief, presumably to manipulate the dwarves into launching an attack on A’Morgal while the Maelstrom army camped in the city. The battle would have been devastating for all sides, likely weakening the Prince to the point that Xaos might take control outright.

Of course, the dwarves would be utterly annihilated. Fortunately, our warning arrived in time, and they were smart enough to see it. After our Farspeakers contacted their druids, dwarven scouts confirmed the Maelstrom numbers in the city and decided to delay the attack.

The Clan Chief was brought in on a palanquin of silk pillows and presented to the dwarves. They were not happy about the cracks, but held their tongue. However, they demanded proof that Xaos incited the war.

The Explorer offered his armor for inspection. It was the only suit not repaired by the fairy. I’m not sure the little creature could. And, since it had been in the hands of the Prince’s men since our rescue, or capture depending on perspective, the dwarves could not accuse the Rangers of tampering.

The Prince’s servants brought it out on a large pillow. After some fussing, the dwarves grudgingly accpeted that holes in the Explorer’s armor were created by Xaos “Reaper” rifles. But, they would not readily accept that those weapons were not fired by Maelstrom or A’Morgal troops.

To which, Corporal Sssahliissstah offered her own research notes on prior Ranger missions. It was also brought out on a pillow. What is with this Prince and pillows? Anyway, after the Vizier verified the records, using some pretty interesting magic to speed read through, the books were turned over to the dwarves.

Their Loremasters poured over every detail. Ultimately, they were forced to admit that Xaos weapons break down quickly if not constantly maintained by Xaos. Meaning, it is HIGHLY unlikely that Maelstrom or A’Morgal were using them.

The dwarves demanded a recess to discuss. And so, we returned to our prison. Though, the Royal Vizier borrowed The Explorer and the Farspeaker for about an hour. When they returned, the Explorer was as excited as I have ever seen. He paced nervously, muttering to himself.

Apparently the Prince had a treasure vault and in the vault was an old piece of arcfire tech. I didn’t really listen.

Dancing Clouds 1st, 3127

The next evening, we were summoned again. We found everyone waiting. Acting Clan Chief stepped forward and addressed the assembled.

Grudgingly, and in bad grace, Rourk Rockbreaker accepted our version of events. Though he would not thank us, our return of the Chief at least indicated our good intent. And so, with that, the dwarves were no longer actively seeking to kill us, though they did not forgive our other crimes. Not sure how that worked.

But the alliance was still in doubt. The Farspeaker asks if she may have permission to contact a superior with authority to speak on behalf the Rangers. The Prince allows, and her Focus Crystal is brought out on…you guessed it…a pillow.

Seriously, now I want a pillow from this place.

When the diminutive Farspeaker closed her eyes, and activated her power, even I felt it. Power radiated off her. It was like someone turned up gravity.

I felt a pressure in my mind. My ears buzzed. And then she spoke.

Colonel Wolfhaven’s deep voice issued from the small woman. It was…disturbing. Not nearly as disturbing as the waves of energy pouring off her. I think one of the dwarven druids puked.

What in the name of the Ascended IS Wolfhaven?

Anyway, he spoke. I mostly heard the high pitched whine. When she/he stopped, the dwarves conferred, then agreed to a conference to discuss an alliance. Or at least, a joint operation against A’Morgal.

We were dismissed. Our job was done, it seemed. Though, this time we were given real quest quarters and were allowed more free reign in the palace. Our gear, minus our weapons of course, were returned to us.

Corporal Sssahliissstah ran for the nearest decorative pool. She looked kind of like a toad, just lying flat in the shallow water. Though, none of the servants complained.

My ladies and I were given private rooms, well insulated rooms, and we enjoyed each other’s company. Vigorously.

I don’t know what happened to the others. I assume they continued on in their own fashion.

Dancing Clouds 12th, 3127

After two weeks of passionate…not sleeping, we were informed that an official diplomat for the Rangers was arriving within the week. A formal meeting was scheduled and we had been invited as guests.

The Prince’s staff offered to provide new formal uniforms for the team. We each were permitted to design our own.

My lovely Ingrid Snow commissioned druids robes, fully embracing her calling.

The fierce McKenzie Shan requested the Aradi cut which accentuated her slim figure.

I don’t remember them all. Though, it was odd seeing RFC Ranna and Sir Egon Mansfried dressed in near matching Olaran uniforms. Only their house patches, and a few dozen yards of cloth differed the two.

I chose the traditional sash of my people.

We prepared extensively from the 12th-18th.

Dancing Clouds 18th, 3127

We arrived early in the morning for the processional. As we stood in the shadows of one of the Palace audience chambers huge columns, the wide doors creaked open to reveal a small contingent of ambassadors. At their head, the famed Emissary, fully cloaked, revealing nothing. Not even his, or her, eyes.

They passed us. I noted the Emissary give Ranna a slight nod. Curious.

The assemblage continued on down the long hall to speak with the Prince. Greetings were offered. Gifts exchanged. And then we were dismissed until the formal reception that evening.

I walked in the gardens with Ingrid and Kenzie. It was actually rather beautiful. And by that, I mean they were beautiful.

That evening, we arrived at the grand dining hall and found out seats somewhere between honored guests and unwanted visitors. Far enough away from the main table, we were spared some of the political machinations. Which, given our track record, was probably wise.

We had a couple of distinguished visitors. Slate came by and greeted Blackstone and Rose. He seemed genuinely relieved that the negotiations had gone well so far. I understand. Though he supported our cause, he was in a difficult position since his failed election.

Later, the Emissary stopped by our table to speak in cryptic terms about potential futures. Cautioned Ranna about revenge. Generally, confused everyone. The one piece of solid information was that the Rangers were pleased with our work and arrangements had been made to return the team to Echer’Naught.

At Corporal Sssahliissstah’s order, we would gather our things and head south to Mindril Hall, and from there, Sunset to take a ship home.

Home.

Great news. Things seemed to be looking up. Though, she did ask to speak with Ingrid after the dinner.

That worried me.

Eventually, the music died and everyone returned to their chambers. I headed back to ours with Kenzie while Ingrid disappeared with the Emissary. For the next hour, I paced nervously until she returned.

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

Ingrid seemed…happy…but resolute. It was then that she turned my world upside down. She was pregnant!

I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do. I settled on a hug. And then hugged both.

A family! I cannot wait to begin this adventure with these two amazing women. Though, I worry a bit for Kenzie. She seems to be struggling to find her place.

I know she agreed to the Life Bond. But, I think, first, I will ask them both to marry me. Begin a true family, a home. And all that comes with it.

I cannot wait to return to Echer’Naught and begin this new adventure. The greatest of my life.

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 121
Raid on A'Morgal Part Two

Lieutenant Ammira kes Ziva
Farspeaker bonded out of Almahrad

On temporary Diplomatic assignment to Echer’Naught Alpha Team

Filed: Festival Moons 8th, 3127

Per request of the Emissary, I have been assigned to provide communication and translation for the Ranger’s Alpha Team out of Echer’Naught. Joining the team on Thunder Hawk 11th, along with Rangers Grimm and Sir Mansfried, I have witnessed the ensuring political disaster unfold. Beginning with RFC Blackstone’s offensive words to the then Clan Speaker, Rourk Rockbreaker, the team’s subsequent insult to the Speaker, then the failed coups, the Ranger position within the Rockbreaker Clanhome has steadily declined.

All culminated in the abduction of the petrified former Clan Chief, and the attack on the wedding between RFC Arimar Blackstone and Ruby Rockbreaker. We are still unclear whether the abduction and assault were related. The former achieved by Youlan Aradi of A’Morgal, the latter the work of Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri. Suffice to say, by the 33rd of Eternal Sun, we were prisoners within the Stahlheim Merchant Headquarters, deep in the Clanhome.

The lives of the team and the future of the Ranger’s relations with the Black Mountain dwarves was in grave jeopardy.

While confined, I was still able to receive interesting intelligence via the Farspeaker network.

Eternal Sun 33rd, 3127
Prince Morok ki Anzher, Emir of A’Davar led a successful breakout action against the Kal-A-Nar army besieging A’Davar.

Thunder Hawk 1, 3127
Within a day of the defeat of the Kal forces to the North, the vast Maelstrom army retreated south of A’Davar and vanished into the sands.

Festival Moons 1st, 3127
After Novri’s slaughter during Blackstone’s wedding, Alpha Team was confined to Stahlheim Merchant HQ while the Rockbreaker Clan roused to war. We could hear the horns and drums echoing through the Clanhome, though at the moment, we were unsure of where the dwarven army intended to march. Of note, RFC Blackstone and his new bride, Ruby, who was also confined with Alpha Team for her “protection”, made a point to consummate their marriage. I suspect they feared annulment.

Festival Moons 3rd, 3127
Early on the 3rd, Slate Rockbreaker surprised the Rangers by visiting our jail. In a private meeting with Corporal Sssahliissstah and RFC Blackstone, he informed Alpha Team that Aradi of A’Morgal had stolen Clan Chief’s body from the Hall of Ancestors. After he left, Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered the team to prepare to move. Over his vehement protests, the Corporal ordered Sir Mansfried to rob our host, the old Stahlheim dwarf. Grimm joined him in the larceny. Meanwhile, the Explorer plied our host with drugs rending he and his head man unconscious.

By mid-day we were ready to move. Even as the sleeping potion was wearing thin, the stone floor to our communal room opened to reveal a shaft drilled below. Slate Rockbreaker’s men had tunneled under our prison, and allied Stone Singers effected out escape. Most of us climbed down into the mines below the city. Sir Mansfried elected to hurl himself down the dark shaft, injuring himself. Our mounts, and I used the term loosely, waited us in the tunnel. It was large enough for RFC Ranna to crawl on hands and knees, but not much larger.

The mines led out into a larger cave system. Here, the dwarves had carved “deep roads” through the mountains using existing caverns where possible. We tied our mounts in a single line, the bigger horses up front, trailing down to my shaggy mountain pony. Two dwarves road up front with torches, and two trailed behind.

Other than the small pools of light from the flickering torches, we rode in nigh complete darkness. At times, it felt as if yawning canyons opened up beside us, and others, we squeezed through narrow clefts in the rocks. The mounts simply put heads down and followed the leader through it all.

Festival Moons 4th, 3127
Late in the morning on the 4th, Alpha Team arrives northeast of A’Morgal, hidden in a large dwarven cave. Here, our four guides departed, vowing to try and lead any pursuit away. Shortly after they departed, I was contacted by a Farspeaker from A’Davar. Apparently, a second Echer’Naught Ranger Team, Delta, was operating in the area. They had been scouting A’Morgal for signs of the Maelstrom army on retreat from A’Davar. As they had been operating in the desert for almost a year, Ranger Command ordered Alpha and Delta Teams to coordinate efforts in finding and retrieving the body of the Clan Chief. We were to meet Delta Team commander and discuss plans. From there, the teams would trade personnel for maximum efficiency.

Delta Team was already camped somewhere northwest of the city. Corporal Sssahliissstah and I met with Delta Team commander, Sergeant Nichts late on the 4th. She is a short, thick Olaran woman with a bad temper. Though, I could not tell her gender until she spoke, and even then, the gravely, low tone sounded more Childerlike than human. Under protest, she followed orders and we agreed to exchange our three archers, RFC Steelwing, RFC Ranna, and Ranger Explorer, for their best scout and native speaker, Ach’Te and RFC Neithe respectively.

Hiking back, we collected our archers, Steelwing taking a moment to tenderly embrace his lovers. And then, we returned to the meet, leaving RFC Ingrid in command of Alpha Team. When we arrived, we found Sergeant Nichts now accompanied by a seven and a half foot lion, and a small, petite Aradi girl. The exchange was made, and we returned to our camp.

Upon returning, our rear scouts suggested we move out before dwarven pursuit caught up. Corporal Sssahliissstah sent RFC Ingrid out with Blackstone and Ach’Te to find a camp. Soon, Ach’Te returned and led us to a well protected spot with shade and moving water. The only incidents along the route involved Sir Mansfried hurling himself out of his saddle and down the moutain, and Tiny, the goat, frolicking in the hills.

In our new site, the Rangers set to fortifying while Ach’Te, Ingrid, Blackstone, Sir Mansried, and Kenzie took turns scouting. We had until the evening of the 7th, so, we made plans for Niethe and I to infiltrate the city and start scouring for the ClanChief while the rest of the team put together a plan for extraction.

In the middle of the night, Ach’Te woke the Corporal to show her what looked like a massive festival in the city, but Neithe confirmed that no such festival should be happening. It puzzled us for a while, but it seemed that at night, the streets were mobbed by large numbers that seemed to disperse shortly before dawn.

Festival Moons 5th, 3127
In the morning, Niethe and I headed down to the eastern main gate leading from the Black Mountains. The guards gave us some issues, but flashing my Farspeaker papers gained automatic entry. While, technically using my Farspeaker status to gain entry to the city might have pushed my authority, I was also not lying. Legally, I felt covered.

Once within we drank, caroused, and worked our way through the city. After hours of tavern crawling and seducing a battalion of Maelstrom and Aradi, we were no closer to discovering the dwarve’s Chief. Though, we DID confirm that the missing Maelstrom army was camped out in A’Morgal. More interesting, the rank and file were expecting to leave the city within the month…via magical means?

So, Prince Wakheem amin Lurzhem sheltered the Maelstrom army that attacked A’Davar, and the mystery of the sudden arrival of their forces last year was explained. But, then, how were the Prince and his Maelstrom allies completely unaware of the massive dwarven horde marching to attack? Something seemed off.

Though, we solved the mystery of the nightly parties. Bored Maelstrom mercenaries were quite enjoying their relief from months of siege duty.

All of this was dutifully reported to Corporal Sssahliissstah.

Festival Moons 6th, 3127
We remained in the city continuing our information gathering. Meanwhile, Alpha Team was tasked with locating a suitable entry point, acquiring a wagon, and preparing to infiltrate the city. Again, after hours of alcohol fueled interrogation we found no evidence that anyone in the city was even aware of the recent raid on the Rockbreaker dwarves. However, using his connection to Dranak, Blackstone confirmed that the body WAS in the city.

The more we spoke, the more apparent another party became. But who gained by setting the dwarves against the Prince of A’Morgal? We contacted Builder with Delta Team to ask what extra-Realm factions were known to operate in the desert. He only knew of Tempest and Xaos.

Still, we knew the Chief was in the city, we had gained accurate maps while scouting, and Delta Team confirmed that they would be in position by the 13th hour on the 7th. Everything was in place.

Festival Moons 7th, 3127
Around dusk, Alpha Team began moving into position. Ruby managed the horseline, while the rest of the team crept through the mining camps east of the city. I remained in contact with Corporal Sssahliissstah the entire time. Just before midnight, I left the inn with Niethe and headed to the seldom used mining gate Alpha Team had chosen for the mission. We arrived just at midnight and waited for the signal. At the same time, I killed the guard on the corner, while Niethe, fired on the trio of guards dicing just inside the gate.

Ach’Te scaled the wall from the outside, with Kenzie clinging to his back. He grabbed on archer and and simply leaped off the wall, slamming the man into the ground, stunning him. Kenzie stabbed the other archer, which was quickly finished by a needle from Grimm.

I seized the mind of the biggest gate guard, forcing him to open the gates, letting Sir Mansfried through, who cleaved another guard. My puppet finished the archer under Ach’Te and with that, the gate was ours. No one even had time to shout. All around us miners and slaves cowered in their dirty bedrolls, keeping heads down and mouths closed. Neithe warned them what would happen if they should betray us. Somehow I doubted they would willingly help either Prince Morok ki Anzher’s men or the Maelstrom.

Mansfried and Ach’Te hid the bodies, re-securing the gate. Corporal Sssahliissstah sent Grimm with RFC Neithe to cause some magical distractions nearby to draw off any Acolytes nearby from pinpointing Blackstone too quickly. Ingrid and Blackstone took the lead with me as we made our way to the center of the city. Corporal Sssahliissstah followed along with the mine cart, along with the rest of the team as support.

Shortly before the 13th hour, we stood near the city center, Grimm was off burning down a bar. Blackstone stretched out and felt the Chief’s body, along with a massive swell of death and Darkness from the same location. A’Morgal’s new Sun Temple to Raz-Dash.

We made our way around the busier sections of the city. By the 13th hour, we arrived at the newly constructed Sun Temple.

The temple is surrounded by a tall, white wall. The entrance is flanked by gold topped black obelisks, and weathered statues of Raz-Dash. Massive stone doors emblazoned with ancient sun symbols stand closed. Along every wall, at every corner, and set in huge braziers leader up to the temple are fires lighting the walls till they glow…like the sun.

From within we heard chanting in an alien language. Outside, four Temple guards stood armed with Xaos blades. By now, eve I could feel a ritual of both Flame and Darkness growing within. Blackstone felt the strong pull of Dranak from within. He demanded we break up the ritual and rescue the Clan Chief. In the distance, we could hear alarms bells ringing. Our gate had been discovered, and Grimm’s work had drawn attention.

With patrols approaching and time running out, going through the front door seemed the only solution. Before we could even move, a cloaked figure dropped from one of the obelisks and cut down two of the guards. Arrows downed the remaining pair. I only caught a glimpse as the figure disappeared back into the shadows, but I noted the elongated features of a werewolf. I heard Corporal Sssahliissstah whisper, “Aronzo.” Troubling.

With the guards down, we sprinted across the courtyard, and up the steps to the massive doors. Stacking up, Blackstone put his back into the stone, but it swung open soundlessly and easily, throwing the dwarf off balance. Ach’Te stormed through, prepared to cut his way to the chief, Corporal Sssahliissstah on his heals. The rest of us piled in, only to slam into them as Ach’Te suddenly threw wide his arms and blocked our way.

Confused, we all squinted as he pantomimed putting his finger to his lips, then pointed off to his right. Sssahliissstah looked, then balked. I couldn’t see, but they whispered Clan Chief, and then crept off out of our view. Blackstone and Ingrid stepped into the doorway, the rest of us milling confusedly on the steps. I felt Grimm and Neithe arrive across the square. Below on the street, Ruby held the horse’s reigns and waited anxiously by the cart.

I was about to reach out to Corporal Sssahliissstah when I felt a sudden spike of power. Every source of light within a hundred yards flashed as bright a the sun, blinding Blackstone, Ach’Te, and nearly me. That’s when the guards within the ritual site roused and started running toward us.

Sssahliissstah and Ach’Te appeared lugging the statue of a dwarf in state. They staggered down the steps toward the cart and Blackstone, slammed the stone doors, then Stonesang a bar across the door. From every side, onlookers filed in. Some were guards, some Maelstrom, some revelers, and some curious. I’m not sure what anyone thought of the scene. Our team robbing the Sun Temple of a dwarf stature. The guards banging and shouting from within. Grimm flashing the crowd. Alarms bells ringing throughout the city, with a block a few streets away ablaze.

The chaos worked to our advantage. Ach’Te, in his bloodsteel lion helm, scared off or cheered on some guards. Everyone just seemed confused. Alpha Team more than the rest.

But, we go the body in the wagon, and everyone started making their way south west toward our extraction team. From behind us, Xaos snipers opened up with their devastating Reaper rifles. Everyone hit nearly fell. We started running, a small crowd of drunk Maelstrom, city guards, and citizens giving chase. I’m not really sure if they knew why they were chasing. Maybe it just seemed like the thing to do?

Halfway through the city, with our pursuers close, arrows and arcfire lanced down the street picking off snipers and the fastest of the chasing guards. Ranna, Steelwing, and the Explorer covered us as we sprinted through the night streets of A’Morgal.

We all managed to reach their posturn gate. They kept firing as they fell back. Steelwing the last. And then, we were out of the city, running. One of the pursuers thought it would be wise to turn the gate’s own ballista on us. He, most of the pursuers, and the gate erupted into an arcfireball as the Explorer’s trapped engine when off. After that, pursuit dwindled, our archers easily picking off the few who escaped the city before the explosion.

Once clear, we thanked and dismissed Ach’Te and Neithe to rejoin their team. Supplies and mounts waited at their southern camp, wherever that was. Moreover, to our north, the entire Maelstrom army seemed to boil out of the city, but NOT chasing us. They turned north and rode hard toward A’Davar.

Delta Team.

A short distance south of the city, we stopped, mounted, secured the body of the Chief and prepared for the long ride toward Quadir. I noted at this point that the Chief’s body was badly cracked. Someone had dropped him snapping off part of his armor’s skirt, and the haft of his hammer. Still, he seemed no worse for wear. Corporal Sssahliissstah told us that he was NOT part of the ritual. They had found his body tossed in the corner of the Temple’s courtyard like garbage.

Blackstone confirmed that it WAS Xaos in the Temple and that they had sacrificed someone, using their essence to power the ritual which caused the sunflare. He did not know why, or what the ritual achieved, save for the light display. Whatever the case, we had completed the retrieval and now we needed to find a secure location before A’Morgal organized themselves and hunted us down.

Our orders were to make best speed to Quadir. As for Delta Team, their fates rested on Prince Romar’s Desert Riders reaching them before the Maelstrom overtook them.

Farspearker Ammira kes Ziva

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