Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 103
Winter Camp

Filed White River 29th, 3126

Serys,

White Stagg 26th, 3126

We marched till dark. Kal troops were within 8 miles of us, the destruction of the village revealed that. However, we were tired. Sergeant Amaroth suggested pushing on, but Lt. Volstagg ordered a rest. We fortified the camp as best we could, took about an hour. Then we bedded down to wait.

Normally, I would not have slept, but being hunted like this…

RFC Grednel and Sergeant Amaroth were on watch. Later, they described hearing the sounds of flapping flags on into the 13th hour between the 26th and 27th. That was when the first bombs hit. Gargoyles dropping blast potions. What kind of suck monster would think of such a thing?

I was ripped awake, and tossed like a rag doll in a gale. All around was screaming, roaring and burning flesh. Before any of us could get to our feet, were heard the pop pop pop and gibbering of thratchen. Thratchen, had to be the little demon goatmen.

One of their curved blades nearly took my head off as I rolled to my feet. We were bunched up. I was nearest Braun. To my left, Audric. above me, so to speak, Lt. Vosltagg and Zathlan. Volstagg had rolled on top of his wife to shield her from the worst of the bombing, or to get in one last poke before he died. Not quite sure. Moldova was snuggled up near Audric’s bedroll. Ranna was over near Grendel’s but not TOO near. And, Daynore was floating out here alone, per usual.

Everyone but the Lt and his wife were on their feet, weapons drawn. Thratchen popped in and out, slashing in the dark. I scanned the sky and picked a dark shape out against the backdrop of stars. One shot, and there was a high keening screech and a massive fireball in the distance. Then, a shout from Daynore…riders approaching from the west.

And then in made sense. The thratchen pinned us, making it impossible to run. Normal doctrine was to huddle up, back to back, and wait for the bastards. However, that made us perfect target for the circling gargoyle bombers… Pin and Pincher. Olaran strategy. Use the lightest troops to slow the enemy just long enough for your heavier forces to close in for the kill. The whole gargoyle thing was just mad genius.

We were caught in the trap. Audric scored first blood, chasing a goatman out of camp, though I don’t think he killed it. Ranna scored another hit. Grendel maybe? Hard to tell in the flame and shadows. Then, a beam of pure, purple energy lanced into the sky, skewering one of the gargoyles. The childer simply evaporated. I downed two more, conventionally.

Volstagg spent so much time trying to keep Zathlan safe that he was taken out early on, per usual. Then, she decides to pick up his sword and die valiantly, wasting his efforts. We also lost Moldova. Seems the thatchen considered her a threat after all.

Even so, the horsemen were moments away and we were down the Lt, Moldova, and Daynore and I were sporting wounds. Our final stand would be there…

…when figures pour out of the trees led by a dwerg and a scruffy looking mercenary. Behind them, more warriors, a strange hodgepodge of men and women.

They fell on the thratchen, their leader, shouting for us to fall back while they covered us. Sergeant Amaroth confirmed the order, then held his ground while we disengaged. I dropped the goatman Zathlan was waddling toward to break her out of her berserk rage, or hormonal tantrum. Grendel grabbed Volstagg, Daynore grabbed Moldova and we quit the field as our new “allies” formed a skirmish line to meet the oncoming horse.

White Stagg 27th, 3126

Led by the new arrivals, we ran until mid day as a group, before we were split off into pairs. I joined Zathlan, and two of the strangers led us on a marry jog across hill and dale before arriving, late in a large encampment. Those of us wounded were tended, then fed. And then, as the temp dropped, herded to a dugout shelter while Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth, and Corporal’s Daynore and Zathlan were all taken to the command tent.

Once our hosts left us, I slipped back to cover our commanders outside the meeting tent. I really shouldn’t have bothered.

Our new hosts were members of the Unchained, freed slaves revolting against the Empire. Their Captain, Kyshiri, had been paid handsomely to find and protect us. He also had a dwarf smith remove the collars from Volstagg, Amaroth (after some discussion), and Zathlan. Though, they immediately collared her with a far more powerful device, well, her husband did. Apparently this one was supposed to cloak her presence so we could not be tracked. Yet another gift from our generous patron. Daynore they left collared. Wise, though ultimately pointless.

After that, some inane babbling, enter Braun. And then, from the scouts who arrived just after us, the dwerg and scruffy looking turf herder entered the tent, and the temperature dropped a few degrees. Turns out, the dwerg was Rysak Ironblood, and the merc, Thomas Zulcrum, former members of Alpha Team. By the Ascended how many are there?

More interesting, there was bad blood between Volstagg and the two. But, seeing as how we were all on the same side now, they decided to let the past lie. Then, more babbling, and I got tired. So, I made my way back to my bedroll and slept.

White Stagg 28th, 3126

We mostly rolled out of our bedrolls by 10 AM. Rare for a team trained to wake before dawn. First things first, Grendel and Ranna bathed. Thank the eternal Ascended. For a bit, I was concerned the Kal were tracking us by scent alone. The rest of us, joined around the cook fire. Everything went well, until my companions started bearing their souls.

As it turns out, Sergeant Amaroth ran into RFC’s Graceylen Moldova’s mother in the slave pits, and waited till just then, WEEKS later, to tell her. She was…pissed, though I wonder if he isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Speaking of, Moldova’s pregnancy, like we all couldn’t tell. And then, the further stupidity between Volstagg and the cons. Considering Volstagg himself, intervened in Olaran law, whipped his pregnant wife nearly to death, sent her in to sleep with other men for information and then gave me permission to poison her… He’s riding a pretty high horse about two ex-Rangers following a lead without permission.

Of course, they did get Rangers killed, so I guess that’s his issue.

Mostly, we just avoided each other. Volstagg fussed over Zathlan. Amaroth did NOT fuss over Moldova, who gave him the cold shoulder mostly. Grendel pined after Ranna, who studiously avoided him. And Daynore crafted another sex toy.

Gray Winds 29th, 3126

For the next month, we rested, healed, and grew bored. I spent my time reviewing the Unchained security and watching our “protectors.” Something bothered me about their set up. This group was relatively small, no more than a couple dozen, which would not be unusual except that they had established dozens of watch stations scattered for MILES south, east, and west. Captain Kyshiri deployed more of his men as scouts than he retained at his main base. Defense in depth, but why…? could the Unchained be planning to slow the Kal down, or, more likely, the feelers were early warning…making our camp the bait.

Listening in on Captain Kyshiri’s briefing confirmed my suspicions. The Unchained, and our “patron,” could not be sure if and how the Kal were tracking us. Could they sense Daynore or Zathlan from distance? Would the collar be enough to cloak her from their senses? Based on the fact that the Kal had not discovered our location after a month’s time, perhaps the collars worked.

Shortly after Volstagg’s meeting with Kyshiri’s, he called a meeting with the team. Our orders were to make preparations to leave at short notice. There was, of course, the issue with Corporal Zathlan and RFC Moldova being in the last stages of pregnancy. I suggested constructing litters for the ogres. That would free of their hands, but allow us to safely drag the mothers to be along with us. Volstagg agreed and set Daynore to the task. Better that than melting our brains.

The rest of us packed, prepared, and drilled for a fast exit.

White River 29th, 3126

Time passed slowly as it always does during downtime. Camp life was hardly exciting, but it was nice not having someone trying to hunt us down. Still, we knew it would not last. Almost exactly a month after our prep meeting, the Kal found us.

I was resting in my perch on the south-west end of camp when I heard a shout. Rysak Ironblood and Thomas Zulcrum were running in from the outer pickets, shouting about an attack. Before I hit the ground, meteors streaked out of the sky, slamming into the main HQ tent, the infirmary, and the main lodging (where the team bunked). In the darkness, I saw dozens of plains-clothed assassins running through the snow, intermixed by a few dozen childer led by a massive minotaur.

Heat hazed around the Kal forces indicating an Acolyte present, but there were few of those. Volstagg and the others were just crawling out of the rubble when the wave of pain hit me. Instantly my vision blurred, my eyes, ears, and nose started bleeding and I was staggered by intense vertigo…

Daynore

His body rose out of the wrecked hut, vibrating so fast he looked almost invisible. All I could see, even with elven eyes, were the glowing crystal-blue zigzags where his eyes should be. There was not time, or point, in shouting a warning. In a flash of power, Daynore exploded, The wave struck the ground, buckling it like an ocean wave and hurling it at the Kal, with the ex-rangers caught in the middle.

The last I saw of Rysak and Thomas, they were being crushed beneath tons of earth, along with the advanced Kal forces. Fortunately, Volstagg already had Alpha Team moving. Everyone grabbed what supplies survived the blast and fled camp north east. Captain Kyshiri, surviving the first salvo, ordered his men to scatter. That was the last I heard, or saw, any of the Unchained.

The Rangers managed to strap Moldova and Zathlan into the slings on the move. Grendel grabbed Daynore out of the air and was nearly killed instantly. Braun joined us, hauling enough gear for an Olaran company. Apparently he had tired of running with nothing.

We had escaped, and Daynore’s stunt delayed pursuit, but we were once again out in the cold, being hunted, without support. It is only a matter of time before we are run down again. Still, I do not believe they can track us easily via magical means. They will have to hunt us down the old fashion way.

The attack also provided more information on the nature of our pursuers. I still content we are being hunted by three distinct groups. Further, of the three, one is led by the ex-Olaran tactician of the desert army, one is being led by the Scorched Priestess, and the last remains a mystery.

We know that none are working together. In fact, on numerous occasions, we have witnessed these factions in open conflict. Further, I believe the three factions can be identified by troop and tactics.

The Olaran Ex-pat relies on more conventional troops, and Olaran tactics, such as the pin and pincer attack when the Gargoyles bombed us. It was also his troops I witnessed being slaughtered on the banks of the river.

The Scorched Priestess has not made an appearance since our escape from Kal Montak, but I fear she is using the other two factions to run us down, before she swoops in for the kill. I would if I were her.

The final faction relies on plainsclothes mercs or Tor Mastak. We have yet to determine their motive, but they were responsible for our escape from the pits, and it was this faction that Braun betrayed just after Kal Montak. This faction killed the Olaran’s scouts and the river, and I believe THIS faction just overran our winter camp.

What this knowledge gains us, I do not know, but at least we have some idea of who is trying to kill us, or more likely, capture us. Daynore and Zathlan are the prime targets. The Scorched Priestess wants them both. The Olaran appears to only care for Zathlan. I’m unsure of the third faction, but they only had shackles for one, if the mysterious Burning Man was to be believed.

Now, we head east to Arkstone and pray we reach the city before we are cut down.

Serys

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Hot and Cold
Wolfhaven's Ride from A'Davar to Tirene

After establishing defenses around A’Davar and coordinating for elven and dwarven reinforcments, Colonel Woldhaven relinquishes command of the city to the Prince of A’Davar. With a small retinue, the Colonel departs A’Davar, riding across the Defiant Lands to the newly established Legio Heroes’ “Legion Castrum”, before continuing on through the Evershade toward Lanier. Along the route, the Colonel’s retinue made stops in the liberated Gathers of Rool and Erlg before linking up with the White Silver Wolves in Tirene to finalize preparations for the assault on Lanier.
Covering just under 1000 miles in two weeks, Colonel Wolfhaven arrives in the occupied city of Tirene to assume command of the White Silver Wolves companies 1-4. Along with Captain Rorauk Fyrforg, Lieutenant Kornash, Captain Helt, and Captain Avaron, Wolfhaven stages the final march and assault of Lanier, Shaya’Nor’s last, and strongest hold fast in Camon.

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Silver Tree
Grendel's Report
Grendel have dreams lately. they strange and new, some me never have before. i wake up in forest that is dark and little light make it to ground. there no birds or animals making sound, like right before a bad storm would roll through gather. Me then look down at what should be Grendel’s hands, but instead are grey dirty clawed hands, hands like a troll. i begin to fear for what me have become. that when me see it every time, a tree. it strange, not green or brown but silver. me not know why but feel good when looking at it. that when light come from tree and cover Grendel, then Grendel no longer troll. Me never be smartest but me know this mean something. not sure what it is yet, but in hopes of helping my brother and Gather, old and new, i will find out.
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Campaign Report 102
Golden Showers

Filed White Stagg 26th, 3126

Serys,

White Stagg 20th, 3126

We cleared the city, heading south and east. I rode with Corporal Zathlan. She was well equipped for a night ride through winter steppes while being pursued by Kal hunters. In that, I mean she was unarmed or armored, wearing a stylish, if garish, dinner dress.

The rest of the team fared little better. Lt. Volstagg was armored in plate, but had lost his weapon and been beaten unconscious by Sergeant Amaroth. The good Sergeant was kitted in full plate, and wielding a two hander with the full might and savage of his new mistress, Ceynara, behind him. Corporal Daynore, or whatever was wearing the Malakaran’s body was unconscious at the moment, unarmed or armored. Thought, to be honest, that actually made me feel somewhat better.

That left the pregnant Corporal Zathlan in command. Her first. Good time as any to start? After that, were the lovers, RFC’s Grendel and Ranna, both armed and armored. Strange to think the ogres of the group have the greatest sense about them.

I made sure to grab my full kit on the way out, but even that was cobbled together from what I could beg, borrow, or steal in Kal’Montak.

And then, there was Braun, the Olaran ex-slave. Bitter, aggressive, snarky, but a skilled warrior.
We managed to ride about a mile south of Kal’Montak before Corporal Daynore slipped from his saddle and was dragged. Close up, we could see that he was tortured beyond all recognition. I’ve faced ghouls with more life than his twisted and broken body. Whatever profane power had animated his body for the ride so far seemed to have finally burned out, leaving him a crumpled husk. Grendel rushed to help.

That and Sergeant Amaroth’s horse had had enough lugging two men in full plate. The poor beast started dancing in circles while the newly minted Kal warrior tried to keep Celesia’s personal pet from sliding into the mud.

While that carnival played out behind me a new actor entered the sordid performance.
Five cloaked figures emerged from the trees and approached. Though they were not brandishing weapons, they were clearly waiting on our party. Sergeant Amaroth dismounted with Braun, and stood too. I spun Zathlan around behind me and she took Volstagg’s reins. We were as prepared as we could reasonably be, given our situation.

They approached, hands out. The leader dropped his hood revealing distinctly Kal features. He said something in Kal, then, realizing our ignorance switched to broken Galean. He asked Audric if their friends in the city had helped them as agreed, and then commanded us to follow them to their master. I admit that walking right back into the arms of the Kal was not appealing. However, at the time, any shade in the sun, so to speak.
We were all set to do just that, when Braun went berserk. He ambushed the leader, and cut him down in one swing. The remaining Kal pulled bows and shot our horses out from under us. Volstagg got trapped and Zathlan struggled to free him.

The rest of us had no choice but to defend ourselves. Sergeant Amaroth ordered us to try and subdue the Kal, maybe salvage some truce. I figure he intended to deal with Braun himself. So, I blew him, Braun, and one of the Kal to the Abyss. The Kal died, Braun was badly stunned, Amaroth…seemed to enjoy the flames. Sadly, the Kal were now intent on killing us all, so any chance to salvage the situation was gone.

Sergeant Amaroth realized this, soon enough, and changed orders to kill. And so we did. I took a couple arrows to the chest for my troubles, but we finished off the Kal without major injury, save mine.

Only then did we realize Zathlan was gone. Casting about quickly, we spotted movement in the trees as if someone were being dragged away. And, there it was. Zathlan had been kindapped, again. Based on my count, that was three times in 24 hrs? Not counting my own rescue. Troubling habit.

We charged after to free her from her impending demise…only to find her already rescued by a lethal looking human in burned armor and cloak. The other’s couldn’t see, but he flashed a burned Corporal’s badge. I don’t remember him from Alpha Team reports, so the burning man may be the only Ranger in a hundred miles NOT a current or former member of Alpha Team. If it has done one thing, this mission certainly makes me wonder how many of Alpha Team, past and present, are still running around. Kick over a rock, and an Alpha scurried out. Its disturbing really.

He never introduced himself, but a cursory glance indicated a well trained operative, close quarter specialist. Knives. The accent was, well, forced. He invited us to join him back to his camp. So, without better options, and without horses, we followed.

A short distance away, but well concealed, burning man had a camp. And in that camp was none other than Graceyln Moldova and her creepy sex doll jack. I guess we kicked over another rock.

Seeing Moldova should have been a shock, but to be honest, given everything else…

As soon as we reached camp Braun and Sergeant Amaroth tore into each other. Audric demanded that he follow order, Braun called Audric a fool and a traitor. At any other time, the bickering would have been amusing. I was too busy pulling arrows out of my chest. While I worked, the burning man, interjected himself in the fight. Finally Moldova had to scramble the Olaran’s brains to let the contact get a word in edgewise. He provided a crude map, small sack of coin, and informed us that the Kal we just killed had been in the area for days, weeks? They were waiting for us, AND they had gear to bind one member of our party.

If it were Daynore, that makes sense. But, seeing as how they specifically kidnapped Zathlan it leads me to believe they might have been targeting her specifically.

Then, Sergeant Amaroth and Braun compared the size of their…swords. Professionally, Braun was right. Audric is compromised. He should relinquish command immediately. But, so long as he does not, my orders are clear. I let Braun know as much. To be honest, there is a high likelihood that I will be killing both of them before this is over. And Daynor. Maybe burning man too.

Once healed, and done with the unit’s idiocy, I headed off to watch out backtrail. And good thing. Less than an hour later, I spotted nearly 20 scouts in a skirmish line sweeping toward us. Apparently they found the bodies. We had to move. Sergeant Amaroth loaded the unconscious Volstagg and Daynore on Moldova’s, our only, mount. Then, we made our east. We had just reached the river, safety on the far side when Sergeant Amaroth stumbled into lead scouts. Everyone had to choose, stay and fight, or get free. Corporal Zathlan chose love, and crossed leading the horse with her husband and Daynore. The Ogres also split, presumable to protect her? Braun had been very clear that he would not risk recapture for any of us. Leaving me, and, surprisingly, Moldova. Or not so. They are screwing.

Moldova scrambled brains while Audric cut his way through. I provided cover. Until my wounds slowed me enough for their acolyte to put a lucky shot through my tree. Before blissful blackness swallowed me whole, I was gratified to see the confused and pained expression on the woman’s face when my arrow suddenly sprouted from between her eyes.

White Stagg 21st, 3126

And the NEXT thing I remember is waking up, lungs burning, the dark, with my leg trapped. I’ve drowned enough times to know where this was going. So, I reached down to unjam my leg and nearly passed out from the pain. Great.

Ok, arm broken, leg jammed and sprained, trapped, underwater, and already only a few heartbeats from drowning. Not the worst situation. But, blacking out again was death.

So, I gritted my teeth, grabbed the…rock?…and yanked. Somehow I managed to float to the surface and the current washed me ashore. There, I did pass out.

Woke again, half submerged in water, stuck in the mud and grass. Good thing, as I was lying a few feet from a Kal camp. Scouts. Lightly armed and armored. All mounted. From where I was lying I could smell their picket’s body odor.

Having nothing better to do, I lay there in the mud. It was surprisingly warm, and waited. Over the course of a few hours, I observed the dozen or so scouts, piss, crap, eat, argue, sleep, and pace. Though, I recognized the unit badges. These particular Kal were part of the unit we tangled with in the desert. At some point in the wee hours of a morning, not sure which, I was wakened by the sound of a body thudding softly to the bank. Figures moved through the camp methodically executing the pickets, guards, and finally the sleeping scouts. Tor Mastak, or something akin. Within minutes, nothing lived within the camp.

I stayed still, and they passed me by like the river trash I was. For hours I remained still, until reasonably certain that they were gone. Then, I gingerly crept into camp, fixed up a sling, procured some food and headed in an easterly directly.

Within a few hours, horsemen were thundering past me from all directions. I figured the team had blundered into another patrol, so I followed. When I entered the open steppes, I could see search parties moving all around. So, I played hide and go hide some more until I figured where the team was holed up. Naturally, they picked the biggest and most obvious rock formation. But, even though the Kal scoured the butte, they managed, miraculously, to evade capture.

White Stagg 22nd, 3216

I waited till true dark, then slipped in camp. Fortunately the Sergeant and Ranna were on watch, so no trouble slipping in undetected. I figured, I was there, why not make a meal of it? Amaroth and Ranna did not seem too surprised to see me when I drew their attention.

Dinner done, I slept until the AM.

After our usual bickering, we headed out again. This time I took point, Sergeant Amaroth covered our back trail. We knew they were out there, circling. We had covered a short distance when everything went wrong.

Cutting through a dry creek, Lieutenant Volstagg stumbled right into a Kal scout. I learned later that his first indication of trouble was the stream of piss running down his breastplate. He froze, but was close enough to see that the man’s member had been “trimmed.” Only due to the scouts utter lack of attention were we not blown, but as soon as he went to shake, Volstagg was done.

That’s when…things got interesting. Before I could snipe the scout and the team make a break for cover, Corporal Daynore started to glow, his eyes burning like stars. That is when the headache started. A combination of the worst sinus infection and hangover of my life, the intense pressure made opening my eyes hard. But when I did, I was suddenly crouching in a thick mist ten feet thick. Overhead, stormclouds gathered, blocking out the sun till the day turned to twilight. Lightning flashed overhead, but no rain…or wind. Oddest, sounds were muffled and distorted.

The scout lost any interest in pissing, and we quietly slipped away. For three days we walked through the bizarre scape until on the third, about the same time of day Durlan started this, he suddenly passed out. And with him out, the mist faded, the sky cleared and all as it was before.

White Stagg 25th, 3126

About mid-day on the same day we reached a village. The team, carrying Daynore, camped in a blind I scouted, while Gracelyn and I, the only two not collared headed in to gather supplies.

A mean place, the village were farmers and herders. We were met by a large man, the headman speaking Kal. When he realized we spoke no Kal, he switched to broken Galean, but that was likely our first mistake. Per my suggestion, Gracelyn lied and said we were researchers. The man did not seem to care. All he cared was that we caused no trouble while in his village. We agreed, and went about securing provisions.

It took most of the day. Toward the end, as we prepared to leave, Gracelyn was approached by an old crone who handed her some herbs. After that, we returned to team with fresh food. Note, we had not eaten since entering the mist, three whole days.

Fresh eggs and roasted goat. Hard bread and cheese. Primitive, yes, but the best meal of my life. Afterwards, a revived Daynore, who claimed no memory of his ordeal, set about crafting a crude shield. The rest discussed our situation. One, Corporal Zathlan pointed out that Daynore’s effect was in excess of 50 miles, which is at least twice as large as the largest Tempest storm we have recorded.

Also, we discussed our route. As best we could tell, we had three distinct groups, all Kal, hunting us. One from the south, one from the west, and one from the north-west. I marked the scouts near the river as from the southern group, and connected with the Kal we faced in the desert. Presumably, those coming from the west are connected with the Scorched Priestess. That would make sense, though I am curious why she and hers have made no appearance? The northern group, we knows. But, based on our encounter south of the city, I believe that Audric’s former “friends” might be associated with that group.

None of which helps us. We also have recieved no communication from Echer’Naught, not even Moldova who says her last communication was around A’Davar which, coincidentally is also the time she linked up with the burning man. There is also Daynore, and the collars. All could be contributing factors. Our only other options would be to have Daynore try and make contact. I for one would prefer he not use his powers if at all possible.

After the good meal we slept well, for once. I woke, inspired, with a full belly, and had Daynore craft a crude bow. Its a worthless piece of trash, but it shoots. I could not be more pleased, given circumstances.

White Stagg 26th, 3126

We departed before dawn, continuing east and a bit north. About 6 hours into the 8 hour day, Audric spotted a column of smoke rising from the direction of the village. We needed no further evidence to tell us all we needed to know. The Kal had torched the village and were now within 6 hours of us, and mounted. We picked up the pace and camped the night. By tomorrow, the Kal will be on us again. Without support, we won’t make it another 24 hrs.

My left arm is broken, and I am down to four arrows. Lt. Volstagg is now armed with Gracelyn’s sword. Sergeant Amaroth is also armed and armored. Corporal Daynore is armed only with a shield and a knife, no armor. Corporal Zathlan is unarmed or armored. The ogres are armed and armored well. Gracelyn has whatever she has, and a fur lined coat, but she had to sacrifice both the horse and Jack as a diversion to escape Kal patrols. Braun is armed, armored, and itching for combat.

We have enough food for a day, or two at most. I smell snow in the air. We will freeze long before we reach Arkstone. This may be my last report. I’m not sure why I’m even writing anymore.

Serys

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Campaign Report 101
Fallen, Dead, and Gone (2017 Holiday Special)

Malcolm Report

Report Filed: White Stagg 20th, 3126 (13th hour)

The following represents compiled information gained through Ranger reports, local news, and sympathetic information sources.

White Stagg 16th, 3126

Alpha team had survived their encounters in the Blood Pits. The last bout was between RFC Danica and a pack of Ratzin seeking to devour a group of children. She lives, her charges did not. Her valor was unequaled. Knowing what we know now, it is all the more tragic.

We received word from the Emissary in Almahrad that Corporal Leaora Nazir and Ranger Newt were arriving at Kal’Montak by the evening of the 17th. She specifically requested that Lady Moonsilver not establish contact. Though it is unlikely, we cannot be certain that any such message would not be intercepted, or at least detected. And, based on our reports from Unchained and other prisoners recovered from Kal captivity, we believed the Alpha Team had been fitted with suppression collars. Because of this, they were unreachable by Telepathy regardless.

As of the 16th, the situation as we understood was: Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth, and RFCs Danica, Grendel, and Ranna were all captive gladiators fighting in the Blood Pits. Corporal Zathlan was captive of Dair-Kron Kirall, the Olaran mercenary-turned war captain. However, opinions differed whether she was willing or unwilling. It was, in fact, Sergeant Minor Longtail who noted that, to protect a child, a mother should be willing to do…anything. Corporal Daynore was, to date, unseen since arriving at the Pits. Intel suggests that the Empire breaking him for information on relayed Farspeaker message. Loss of the intel would be catastrophic. Ranger Seyrs was still in city, and for all appearances operating under notice.

White Stagg 17th, 3126

None of the battles on the 17th featured members of the Rangers. Though, based upon Serys’ final report, we know that an Olaran Braun won a bout on that day. He appears to be acquainted with, at least, Volstagg though we do not have further information as to how. Local requests confirm that Sir Braun was a celebrated warrior, captured during the War of Flame. A minor noble, he was regarded as an honorable man and skilled fighter. It should be no surprise he has survived this long.

Late in the evening, the Emissary and Serys independently confirmed that Ranger’s Nazir and Newt had arrived at the waystation south of Kal’Montak. There, Newt camped outside while Leaora made “contact” with Serys. He passed her local currency, identification papers acquired on his own journey to the city, Disguise potion, and other substances. From there, Serys returned to the city, leaving the other team members outside the city.

White Stagg 18th, 3126

Serys made contact with Nazir and Newt in his hotel room. There, he provided more information, Disguise potions, and orders to leave him out of future designs. He planned to continue watch on the coliseum. Though rumors had abounded that the 18th would feature an end to the fighting, all events were delayed. This time, our information suggests that infighting among the Kal nobles resulted in the event’s delay. Later events confirmed that tensions among the houses is at an all-time high.

Serys continued his operations, and Nazir and Newt took stock of the city. There, they met local assets who set up a meet in a local bar, the [Redacted]. They began to gather intelligence seeking how to enter the slave pits, and the location of Zathlan and Daynore.

White Stagg 19th, 3126

Fighting resumed. In the morning, Sergeant Amaroth and RFC Danica were paired to battle what we believe to be a Hellhound Summoner, a pack of Hellhounds and even, perhaps, a Ravening Beast. The Ranger’s survived, but…all reports indicate that in order to protect Danica after she had fallen to the hounds, Sergeant Amaroth called upon the powers of Ceynara. If this is true, I cannot help but fear for the repercussions. No one can doubt his intentions, but the lessons of Vainar and Ceynara are cautionary tales. She fell for love, and he trying to protect the world from Darkness. All of the best intention cannot absolve a soul given to Flame. Ascended let it not be true. Colonel Wolfhaven will be devastated.

Again, Zathlan was seen “entertaining” Kirall in the box seats. At least she appears in good health. I pray that her conversion is feigned. The longer our Rangers stay under, the more at risk they become. If the liberation is unsuccessful, we may not have anyone to save, or anyone wishing to be saved.

Later that eve, RFCs Grendel and Ranna were paired against three other ogres. Strangely, the Alpha ogres are known in the Pits as the Lovers. Has time in captivity sparked a romance? It is hardly unheard of. They too won, but local news intercepted makes it seem that Ranna seduced one of the opposing ogres to fight on her side. Though it seems out of character, who can say. We will do whatever it takes to survive.

After the last bout, there was a celebration to conclude the games. A Feast, or Orgy, was held and honored gladiators were invited to “entertain” the city’s Az-Dren and visiting Az-Fal. Among the group, reports indicated that Volstagg, Braun, Amaroth, and Robert Oxley, of previous reports, were present. Aagain, Zathlan dutifully entertained Kirall, even with her husband present. None of the reports bodes well.

There was a mention of Amaroth having a public word with the Scorched Priestess of Ceynara. A damning conversation. Volstagg also disappeared for a time, but no reports on who he might have met with. It is entirely possible he was “entertaining” one of the lords or ladies. Given the team’s mission in A’Tora, I fear we cannot consider any conduct beyond the group. Though, one can hardly blame them. They are trying to survive.

The orgy lasted till early morning, thought most of the guests, the gladiators and the host, Kirall, had retired. At that time, everything seemed normal, but a simmering rage was building in the city. And on the night of the 19th, or eve of the 20th, the tensions boiled over into civil war.

We know from “sympathetic voices” that Zathlan had been held in Dair-Kron Kirall’s personal abode within the city. In fact, it was a block from the coliseum just north, and heavily guarded.

At around, or just after the 13th hour, unknown forces attacked Kirall’s home in the city. It was not until later that local assets confirmed the target was kidnapping Zathlan. Since her capture on the filed during the final battle with Xaos in the Valley of Death, it was assumed that her child bore some special significant. Acolytes derive power from human sacrifice, and elf infants are the most prized of such sacrifices. If reports of the child, post the Emissary’s “healing” are to be believed, then Zathlan’s child would provide immense energy for such a ritual. A prize indeed.

It would appear that on the 19th, the temptation grew too great. But none of our sources suggested why then? It seemed that Kirall had successfully “claimed” Zathlan. And HE falls under protection of Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult. Who would have the temerity to attack those under the protection of the most powerful and famed warrior in the Empire…

Best analysts suggest that only the Scorched Priestess would even attempt such. And, the retaliation proved the point.

However, at the height of the 13th hour, magical sensitive people as far as five miles from Kal’Montak suddenly experienced a surge of power and energy radiating outward. Serys has confirmed feeling “something,” but claims to have slept through. Allied intelligence confirms that A) the center of the power pulse was the Temple to Ceynara in the city, and B) the feeling confirmed that a Cauldron, or some variation was opened. However, it is believed that the Ritual was never completed. The pulse was too short. That, and within an hour, the same complex was itself under attack!

White Stagg 20th, 3126

Early on the 20th, a few hours after the attack on Kirall and Zathlan’s kidnapping, someone brazenly attacked the Az-Junin complex the heart of the city. For a Kal to even THINK of such blasphemy…! Reports indicate that Dair-Kron Kirall retaliated against the “unprovoked” attack on his house, and the taking of his “hostage.” How he achieved success, we still do not understand. He WAS the tactical genius who planned Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s victory. And, he DID managed to sneak an entire Maelstrom army across the desert to ambush, and route Colonel Wolfhaven. Such a mind certainly could plan such an assault, but…to actually ATTACK a Temple to Ceynara?!

Whatever the case, local sources on the ground noted seeing a carriage leaving the city north at high speed. It was only later determined that this WAS Zathlan being moved out of the city to an estate owned by Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult, or his house. It seemed Kirall had recovered his prize. That same morning, with the dawn, criers announced the biggest fight to date. A post game bout. No expense was spared, and by mid morn, the seats were filled to overflowing.

It is ALSO here, that Serys informed command that he had made contact with a dwarven engineer overseeing rebuilding of the coliseum. Strange as that seems, it being a Kal city, the engineer was none other than RFC Gate Highwall, founding member of Alpha Team?! I confirmed with High Command that they had authorized HIghwall to be “loaned” to allies on a mission to gain intel on Kal’Montak and acquire plans and blueprints of the city in preparation for the impending war with Kal in the desert! He was not to be activated. However, they also confirmed that on the 18th, he had signaled his “handlers.” The Emissary confirmed, after the fact, that Nazir had made contact with Highwall and that a plan to free the team from the pits was in progress.

All of this information unknown to Regional Command at the time of the events. I have only just managed to confirm this with sources. I am unsure of exactly how many independent operations were running on the 20th, but I know that RFC Highwall, Seryrs, the Emissary, and local assets all had their own operations running. Worse, we believe, based on analysis that there were no fewer than four Kal factions ALSO operating in the same theater, though we cannot confirm that they did not, at points, collaborate.

Such was the situation on the ground when the final bout in the arena was announced, at noon. The Crimson Knight, Volstagg, would face The Boody, Amaroth, to the death in the arena. Even as the command staff of Alpha Team were forced to murder each other, Serys, Nazir, Newt, and Highwall put plans into motion. Nazir had confirmed that Zathlan was “most likely” being held at the estate north of the city. With the plans Highwall had stolen from his work site, Nazir would work with local assets to send a team into the pits to free the Rangers held there, while another team would attempt to free Zathlan.

When they arrived at the sight, to link up with Highwall, Serys activated and joined the efforts. He, ultimately, accepted the task of freeing Zathlan alone, allowing Nazir to put a team on locating and retrieving Daynore, if he lived. So, as the fight raged, Newt, Highwall, and a local contact entered the arena through still unfinished under structure heading to the slave pits below. Nazir and a local asset headed to Az-Junin complex, the most likely location of Daynore. Something about the sense of the Ritual suggested that he might be involved. Ever since his “gift” from the Shayakar in Paradise, his behavior and power had become erratic. It seemed plausible that he was imprisoned there, and perhaps that also might explain the Scorched Priestess’ sudden obsession with kidnapping Zathlan? Supposition, but the pieces fit.

The battle lasted about half an hour. Unfortunately, every report confirms out worst fears. In the final confrontation between Volstagg and Amaroth, Volstagg called upon the Unicorn, and Amaroth, Ceynara. He is touched by Flame. There is no doubt. Even should he survive, and manage to return, I cannot see any future in the Rangers, or the Southern Kingdoms.

We are still left with unanswered questions, but we know that the various operations were “successful.” Amaroth defeated Volstagg, but refused to end his life with a killing blow. That, at least, is to his credit.

However, at the moment of victory, something slammed into the north wall of the coliseum, shattering stone, and killing dozens, or more spectators. It opened a breach in wall. Through that breach, Serys rode, with Zathlan in his lap. Despite the fact that MULTIPLE reports confirmed that she had been watching her husband die from the box seats like every other fight, here she appeared with Serys, ostensibly recently rescued from the norther estate. Yet, we do not know for certain which Zathlan is real, if any?! The Emissary confirmed that Nazir located and “freed” Daynore from a heavily warded sarcophagus beneath Ceynara’s Temple, in a sealed room, under heavy guard. And yet, her report seems to indicate that Daynore was a charred, lifeless husk when she found him…?! Further information is lacking as he “exploded” rending her unconscious until hours later. Meanwhile, Highwall never reached the pits. He was apprehended, but managed to talk his way out, and exited the city with his team. Though, we suspect he is under heavy surveillance. As the arena was rocked above by the massive energy wave, similar to the pulse the night before, Grendel, Rana (both heavily armed) leading a slave revolt exited the southern, postern gate of the coliseum, Newt and Braun included. Amaroth ALSO appeared, carrying the body of Volstagg, though his condition is yet unknown.

As they spilled out into the streets, reports indicate the plain clothed assassins dispatched the Kal guards, and directed the team to waiting horses. The unknown allies remained behind to hold off pursuit. Amaroth carrying Volstagg, Serys holding Zathlan, Danica, Braun, and the ogres on foot reached the horses and mounted. But, Amaroth’s horse spooked. Grendel grabbed the reins to pull the beast when a flame whip coils from the smoke and ash, and snatched Danica from her mount.

Reports from the ground indicate that the Scorched Priestess had arrived with a large force of Kal, and a hunter from the Emperor’s own court. Without hope of saving Danica, the team spurred horses and fled south, out of the city.

While I am relieved to know that the Rangers are at least free, with the hope of escape, I, we, are left with some disturbing facts. At last report from Serys, every other member of the team is still collared. This eliminates our ability to communicate with any but Serys. Volstagg is down. Amaroth is Flame-Touched. We still do not know if Zathlan was turned, or they are riding with an impostor. Braun joined the party, but he is a potential Kal plant, or self serving mercenary who will betray them when it suits. And, Serys confirmed to see Daynore, mounted, riding with them. Daynore who, an hour before was described as “a charred, ruined husk.” Based on reports from the desert, Command is unsure exactly WHAT Corporal Daynore now is?!

Add to that, I have all but confirmed that the Scorched Priestess is on a mission directly from the Emperor. In fact, local assets have confirmed that Emperor dispatched one of his own personal guard, the Tor Sadais to lead the hunt for the escapees, though we suspect he is there to recover Zathlan, Daynore, or both. Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult has moved hunter units north. Reentering the desert is likely impossible. And, intercepts suggest that his rear guard around A’Davar are also under order to intercept. No doubt Kirall has his own force out hunting. This leave the mysterious faction which aided the slaves in their escape. We believe they serve either Fenrikas ki Arkor, Az-Ri of Kal’Montak seeking to undermine his rival, or a fourth, powerful faction serving their own ends.

Volstagg is down. Amaroth has Fallen. Daynore is lost. Zathlan pregnant and a beacon for their hunters. Serys is broken. Danica is dead. Our hope now lies with the Ogres.

Colonel Wolfhaven has been informed, but all his forces are bottled up protecting A’Davar under heavy assault. We have no other assets in the region. Every contact has bent toward reaching the Unchained. Ascended help them.

Malcolm

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Campaign Report 100
Andak-cros

Filed: White Stagg 16th, 3126

Serys,

Between shoveling rubble in the morning, and nightly gambling, I managed to hear most of the final bouts. Dair-Kron Kirall, the Olaran mercenary-turned war captain announced a week of Blood Sports in honor of his master, Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s victory. With Xaos broken, the Great Wolfhaven crushed and sent scurrying back to A’Davar with tail tucked, Lorask ki Gult stood poised to reclaim the Grand Warlord of the South title after over five centuries of Youlin Aradi independence. To hear the Dremarin, what passes in the Empire for “citizens”, ultimate victory in the desert is all but assured.

Of course, not everyone seems to be pleased at the turn of events. Word, hushed though it may be, at the late night tables suggested that Fenrikas ki Arkor, Az-Ri of Kal’Montak is displeased with the upstart Lorask ki Gult’s success. Seems like it was always Fenrikas ki Arkor’s design to take A’Davar and expand his name, claiming the fourth Grand Warlord title, Vas-Dair- Az m’ Surnas, for himself and ascend to the emperors personal court. Worse, with Lorask ki Gult securing his new lands in the south, his will is being exercised by the traitorous ex-Olaran Dair-Kron Kirall. Such a slight would be cause for the upstart to be “removed.” Except, so long as Fenrikas ki Arkor mounts glories in the desert, his sycophant is “untouchable,” despite parading out the city like a High Born lord of the Empire.

He didn’t even request permission from the Az-Ri before declaring the celebratory games…if rumors are true.

It hasn’t taken much bribing to encourage the low lords skulking the back rooms to gleefully speculate on the likely intrigue, violence, and upheaval when the Olaran pushes the Az-Ri too far. Sadly, enmity aside, Az-Ri Fenrikas ki Arkor, or his retainers, are unlikely to assist in any kind of escape. Oh, they want the Olaran dead, but they are possibly more rabid about gaining control of captured prisoners from the war; in particular the Alpha Team. Prestige aside, every faction within the city seem to scheming to benefit from the Empire’s victory, but for wildly varying purposes.

A Vos-Ulin (High Slave) a bit into his cups let slip that his master had provided resources for posting of “elite” Tor Mastak arriving in the city. Which, is worse than it seems, because these particular agents apparently bear no loyalty to any of the city’s many factions. The Az-Junin have the biggest obsession with Corporal Zathlan. Or, more accurately, her unborn child. Seems the freakishly mutilated woman sniffing after Nexus is a Minister of the Undying Fire from the royal court in Kal’Zaketh. She was “gifted” to Lorask ki Gult when he was granted the forces necessary to check the Xaos threat. Known as the Scorched Priestess of Ceynara, rumor has it she is a Flamedancer so devoted to Ceynara, that she was bound to a Reaver demon…

If half the horrors Ive heard about her are true…the Olaran starts sounding better and better. Ascended help Nexus if that creature gets her blood, red talons into her.

Then, of course, you have the Az-Fal and Az-Dren of Kal’Montak’s court, each vying for favor with Az-Ri Fenrikas ki Arkor…

or Kirall…

I despise politics.

As to the team, I’ve not seen any but Nexus, dressed like a Nazatiran whore, but alive. She plays the consort well, always on the arm of the Olaran. Given past missions, I half wonder if she’s “turning” him to her side. Ascended knows she can be highly persuasive. In the end, I imagine she will rescue the others.

I arrived mid week, too late to personally witness most of the bouts, but since the games, and the Kal expansion south, is all anyone is talking about, it was fairly easy to put together the events.

White Stagg 12th, 3126

Alpha Team is carted in with other high profile captives from the battles in the desert. I did not personally witness the event, but local news states there were over 200 wagons laden with the spoils of war, prisoners, bizarre animals, gold, and gear captured from Xaos forces.

Dair-Kron Kirall made certain word of their arrival preceded the caravan. By the time Alpha Team reached the massive coliseum Andak-cros, crowds had gathered to witness the Triumph. The team, stripped and humiliated were loaded onto one of the main elevators and raised to the arena floor as Kirall announced the week of games in celebration.

After which, they were lowered into the bowels of the Blood Pits. Based on news reports, all were presence, Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth, Corporal Daynore, and RFCs Danica, Grendel, and Ranna. Corporal Zathlan was in the box seats with her new lover, and I…was at that point wearing a dead man’s clothes on my way to the city.

All according to plan?

The games would begin the following day, but the night was not wasted. Dozens of prisoners were sacrificed to Ceynara on their infernal altars. The screams echoed through night, a counterpoint to the revelry and fornication…according to the morning reports. They also selected a few dozen to adorn crosses around the blood pits, their dying screams adding ambiance to the events.

One must hand it to the Empire, they certainly know how to throw a party.

White Stagg 13th, 3126

Early in the morning fighting began. The first bout was, unsurprisingly, Volstagg. Or, should I say the Crimson Knight. Funny, for a man professed to spending his life battling the Kal, he certainly has their sense of fashion.

Anyway, they pitted him against a Minotaur. Nothing too surprising. Volstagg took a few good hits, but, in the end, prevailed. Of course, he called on Celesia, so now he is favored to die. Seems that killing a ranking Ranger is only almost as exciting as watching a Chosen of the Horn die. He couldn’t have a bigger target painted on him were he wearing bright red armor…oh.

Later on the first day, Sergeant Amaroth was pitted in a free-for-all match against a half dozen bandits. He did well. Though, he was hardly the favorite. Apparently a small time hood, Robert Oxley, a Galean of all things, had been arrested by the Kal and sentenced to die in the games. Of all those pitted in the event, he alone lasted to face Audric, both badly wounded.

Audric prevailed, but due to the young warrior’s prowess, and exuberance for life, the crowd’s demanded life. Is it mercy if they just want him alive to die “gloriously” later?

Damn, all this solitude is affecting my calm. I’m talking to myself in my own reports.

Audric won. “Bob” lived and is likely to become a crowd favorite.

I arrived sometime late on the 13th.

White Stagg 14th, 3126

It started raining before the 13th hour, but picked up hard for two days. Pissing rain, cold and brutal. The Kal didn’t seem to mind so much, but the arena turned to soup. And, all their fires, save for the slaves they lit, kept going out. So, they postponed the games.

White Stagg 15th, 3126

More rain. The games may have stopped, but work remained. I think our crew boss, Gurk…or Gorp… That sadist took unique pleasure in our pain. Sadistic SOB, but as a Kal, such things should be expected.

The rain let up late, but cold rolled in. Bad enough I kind of miss the heat of the sands, almost.

White Stagg 16th, 3126

Games resumed. There were some bouts. I heard, though was working so had no entry. At some time late morn, I hear Grendel and Ranna announced. Most of the crew grew excited. Seems the Ogres were given a special treat. Consensus was the Acolytes outdid themselves summing a rare childer like creature, Calydoes. Boar headed ogre-like childer wielding massive battle ax sized cleavers.

There were some human sacrifices and group of group bouts in the mid-afternoon. Something to keep the crowd’s blood up. Late in the afternoon, RFC Danica was introduced. Her game was to keep a pack of ratzin from devouring a group of kids. Word is, she almost saved one. But, the good news is she survived mostly unscathed. Though, probably not terribly happy about the situation.

Word is there will be another day of games on the 17th, and then final ceremony on the 18th. After that, assuming the team is still alive, they will continue to fight in the pits, or be summarily executed. Trouble being, I don’t know which.

As for Corporal Daynore, I have no idea. He WAS there on the first night, but after that…nothing. Not even a rumor. Though, given his status as an Adept, I can only assume the Tor Mastak is cracking his mind like an egg right now for all its hidden secrets. Makes me wary every time Lady Moonsilver contacts me for updates.

One of these mornings, I’ll wake up with Tor Mastak in my bed chamber.

Good news, though, my “reinforcements” are close, if command is to be believed. But, who would be crazy enough, or stupid enough to take this assignment….

Serys

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Centenium Proclamation
Legio Heroes

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

A’Davar, Eternal Sands

Twelfth Day of White Stagg, Year 3126 Under the Light

To all people pledged to Light and Life:

For millennia, our forebears have stood valiantly against the forces of Darkness and Flame marshaled against the lands of freedom, Light, and Life. Time and again, we have stood on the brink, bloody and bowed, but never broken. We have never faltered.

Yet, only once in all those centuries have we stood truly united. Only when faced with utter annihilation at the hands of the Dragon Cult and their unstoppable dragon overlords, have we set aside our differences to combat an enemy greater than our might combined. In that singular moment of solidarity we proved that our differences are our greatest strength. We did not know then what we know now.

The contest against evil and villainy is the crucible which forges us. But the blood-lust of the Kal-A-Nar Empire, the cold, dead hunger of Shaya’Nor, the greed and avarice of the Malakar Dominion, or the intolerance of the Church of Archanon, are as child’s squabbling with the grave truth we must face today; We are no longer alone on Shaintar. We are being invaded by foreign powers driven by unknowable evil, heedless of any land nor the people in it, therefore the time for unity and the time for unity is upon us once again. The assault on White Bay by the butcherous Tempest, the heartless warriors of Xaos in the desert lands, the rumors of monsters defying any description known to learned men portend a future of horrors. Should we continue as we are, the scant survivors will rule over nothing but a sad pile of ash and bone.

But this is not a pronouncement of doom, but acceptance of this new time of change. Adversity has always strengthened us. Men and women of Shaintar, you all have a place in this… from brave-hearted nobles to shoemakers children; Bitter rivals and unexpected allies. Simple people and heroes of all the realms. What blows in from the coming storm has no love for any of us. We MUST accept the lessons learned against the Dragons, embodied by the Oaths of the Grayson’s Gray Rangers, and borne out by every victory in the last four years. Only together, all free peoples united, can hope to stand against the unyielding might of these emergent threats. Only together as free people, independent kingdoms, and brothers in arms may we hope to survive!

In this time of crisis, by the authority of the Centenium Council, the Druid’s Council and the First Speaker, the Council of Archanaya and the Heart of Light Istella Nolan, Lord-Commander Lady Valinda Grayson of the Grayson’s Gray Rangers, and the signatories of the Expanded Ranger Charter, I hereby formally establish and mobilize the Legio Heroes, Legion of Heroes, as an independent force under the authority of the Centenium Council to go forth and seek out these threats from beyond the Veil.

To the free peoples of Shaintar, I swear to you, upon my House, my Blood, and my Honor, we WILL stand against the coming storm. To our allies, join us in brotherhood and know the strength of unity. And, to all those who might threaten the peace and prosperity of our lands…

…We will not falter, we will not submit. We, the people of Shaintar, will NOT fail. This is OUR Realm! Come to take it at your peril.

Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
A’Davar, Eternal Sands

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Campaign Report 99
Timeless Sands Conclusion Part Two

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

A’Davar, Eternal Sands

Twelfth Day of White Stagg, Year 3126 Under the Light

There is a legend of a great general in the ancient past. It is said that he was the greatest military mind of his generation, that he never lost a single battle. And yet, in the end, his legacy is ultimately a failure. Each victory came at a price so high…that in the end, he left his cities defenseless. Is that the legacy that I will leave when history is written of me? That is how it would seem.

White Stagg 1st, 3126
Victory was ours, how bitter it tasted. We broke Xaos’ forces, and sealed the tear… However, we were abandoned by Tempest, and the Desert Riders and outmaneuvered by the Kal. Lorask ki Gult, Warlord, or some creature wearing his name has nigh managed to achieve what has eluded the Empire for 564 years since the last Grand Warlord of the South, Soman ki Akara, turned on the Empire freeing the Youlin Aradi.

Using the Xaos storms as cover, the pretender to the title, Lorask ki Gult quietly took Birr and Mara. When our Rangers defeated Xaos, the Dair-Az revealed his master stroke, summoning a Maelstrom army from…somewhere. Caught between the Kal army, and Maelstrom reinforcements, Prince Morok ki Anzher, Emir of A’Davar’s army was severely outnumbered. The Prince had no choice but retreat, and I, no choice but to screen his withdrawl as best I could.

By the Ascended, I should have SEEN it! But, the cloak of the storms hung like a Veil, and it took all out energies to suss out Xaos’ designs. And WHERE in the Abyss did Lorask ki Gult hide an ARMY!?

In the early hours of the 1st, all we could do was throw everything we still had in the way of the approaching Maelstrom. The Kal forces were distracted riding down the fleeing Xaos forces, buying us a narrow window. Prince Morok ki Anzher committed his own personal guard. I sent my Wolfhaven Free Company Riders, mounted Rangers, and the few standing members of the Alpha Team (being Cav trained). Only Corporal Daynore, RFC Grendel, Ranger Serys, and Trainee Ranna remained. Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth, and RFC Danica were all down, being evacuated with the wounded.

And, RFC Zalthan Nexus, of House Wolfhaven…has been taken. At the time, we knew not by whom, but she was last seen fighting Flame. We feared the worst.

While the Rear guard fought a desperate, but futile action against three times their number, A’Davar’s army retreated in good order. We made near 15 miles, impressive for foot in the desert. Not even Olarans could easily match the feat.

That even, Liutenant Volstagg awoke. He was badly burned, wounded, but cared only for his team, his wife. A true Olaran.

I chose honesty, complete. Our situation was dire, and without water, the army would never reach A’Davar, Maelstrom or no. And, his wife was missing. However, we only suspect that she was taken by the Kal. In truth, any of the myriad allies and enemies might have taken her. Though I know this only via reports, I understand that her child is unique, and powerful.

Lieutenant Volstagg took it well. As well as could be expected given the circumstances. However, without knowing where his wife was being held, or by whom, there was little we could do for her at the moment. I had already dispatched scouts to track the movements of the various armies, but I held little hope. Lady Moonsilver already bent her powers to locating Lady Volstagg. I needed Volstagg here, now.

Alpha Team, under Lieutenant Volstagg would take a team of A’Davar’s riders, and Wolfhaven Free Company riders to escort 50 camel water bearers to the nearest oasis, some 20-30 miles east of the column. They would be on of three such water raids, but the largest. However, before such enterprises, there were recognition that were far passed due.

Ranna had been but a Trainee when she departed Echer’Naught Festival Moons 10th, 3126, and during the entire mission, first through Almahrad, into the desert, the paperwork had never been submitted to promote her to full Ranger. Operational oversight, but a regrettable one.

As of White Stagg 1st, 3126:

Ranger Trainee Ranna was promoted to Ranger, and then, immediately to Ranger 1st Class

RFC Lady Nexus Zathlan, House Volstagg was promoted to Corporal

In addition, commendations were placed in the files for:

Lieutenant Gunther Volstagg

Sergeant Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfahven

Corporal Durlan Daynore, Farspeaker

Corporal Lady Nexus Zathlan, House Volstagg

RFC Danica, Goldne Gryphons

RFC Grendel

RFC Ranna

Alpha Team was given the evening to rest, recoup and resupply. I attended to the dispensation of the army. Mostly, I sat the night astride Thunder on the south flank of the army and observed the Maelstrom army mass. In a pitched battle, they outnumbered our forces three to one. And they were better supplied and rested.

White Stagg 2nd, 3126

Early in the morning, Alpha Team gathered with their allies and the camel caravan to begin the raid for water in the nearby oasis. The team would be gone for days. What transpired only learned when they returned. Lieutenant Volstagg dispatched the A’Davar riders north to screen for Maelstrom. To the south, the Wolfhaven Free Company Riders.

White Stagg 3rd, 3126

After a hard ride, the Alpha Team reached the outskirts of the Oasis by mid-day, but found the locals already under attack by Maelstrom forces. The Oasis was in flames, palm trees burned, houses engulfed. The locals were being slaughtered. Without the other teams, they held the camels in reserve and attempted to secure the Oasis themselves, per orders. To save innocents. And my orders, again, nearly cost them their lives.

The Rangers rode out, charging into the Oasis. They were met by a Minotaur, Ratzin, and Thratchen. Lieutenant Volstagg and Seyrs reached the Minotaur first, but in a single blow, he beheaded the horses, and very nearly slew both Rangers. The rest of the team arrived quickly, but the battle turned badly. Ratzin swarmed them, Thratchen popped in and out, tearing through them.

Against the might of the Childer, the Rangers were over matched, and waging a losing battle. Brutalized, fatigued, and overwhelmed, the Childer stood on the verge of wiping out Alpha Team entirely…

…and then simply faded away in smoke, ash, and fire.

Corporal Daynore was unconscious, so the team caster was unable to determine if a Dispel had been used, but the rest of the team confirmed no Acolyte in the area had been killed. From Lieutenant Volstagg’s report, the timing and circumstances were ominous. However, the Rangers were in a poor position to look a gift horse in the mouth.

With the Childer dispelled, the water bearers moved in and completed drawing water by late that day. The Rangers provided security and rounded up the displaced villagers, rescuing not a few from burning buildings. Once the operation was completed, the team returned. It took two days.

White Stagg 5th, 3126

Alpha Team arrived late, or early depending on how one approaches such things. Of the three teams sent to recover water, only Alpha Team was successful. All the other teams were destroyed. But, they lost over half o the A’Davar and Wolfhaven riders. All reports indicated that the Maelstrom were spreading out, encircling our position, driving us ever north toward A’Davar. We were being herded.

Over the last few days, I had met with the Prince and other commanders to formulate a plan that might provide us the room we needed to reach A’Davar before being encircled and destroyed by the Maelstrom army. A’Davar’s scouts knew of a rocky region about 50 miles south of A’Davar, within three days hard march of our current location.

With the alchemy, arcfire, and sorcery available, the plan was to mine the largest defiled. If we could lure the Maelstrom army into the pass and trigger the explosions a the right moment, we could bury the Maelstrom, or at the very least buy enough time and distance.

Unfortunately, we had to survive the next three days. No small feat.

My plan, poor as it was, was to assemble the remainder of our cavalry forces in a mobile regard under command of Lieutenant Volstagg. Their orders were simple. Harass and delay the Maelstrom for three days. On the third, the rear guard was to break and fall back.

False retreats are only useful if the enemy has reason to believe the ruse. Fortunately, there was little fear the Maelstrom would not believe the rear guard collapsed. The true danger was the rear guard actually collapsing.

Alpha Team rested a few hours, but our army marched out by 3 AM on the 5th. Alpha Team and the rearguard sat the morning, watching the main force march north. At dawn, the Maesltrom’s childer attacked, swarming the cav under Volstagg.

Outnumbered more then three to one, the defense nearly collapsed were it not for Ranna holding the line. Barely, Volstagg’s command survived the first day. Barely.

White Stagg 6th, 3126

On the 6th, the enemy struck before dawn, nearly catching the rear guard by surprise. Fighting was intense and Volstagg was forced to fall back many miles, but the rearguard held.

White Stagg 7th, 3126

Day three was the most worst for Volstagg’s forces. More than once they were forced to cut themselves free from the press. Late in the day, unexpected allies arrived. Desert Riders, those who accompanied the team from Paradise to A’Tora. Even with the added might, they were massively outnumbered. Still they held. Despite losses, they held…until dusk. As darkness fell, Volstagg’s rearguard shattered, per orders, and rode hard for our camp miles north.

They arrived late, battered, tired, but alive. Pausing long enough to eat, drink, and resupply, Alpha Team now accompanied Guardian Archmage Val’rethael Que’kasaars and the engineers north a few miles to the rocky pass.

White Stagg 8th, 3126

While the sappers worked, Alpha Team took up watch. The skies were gray in the morning, and they almost missed the Gargoyles circling overhead. Without warning, six of the winged beast dove on the team.

Sergeant Amaroth was hit hard, hurled off the cliff. Corporal Daynore summoned his power and dove after, calling upon his mental powers to catch him. Unfortunately, no sooner had he managed to grab the unconscious Sergeant, he was struck again. Both men plummeted to the sandy floor far below.

RFC Ranna, down to a single bolt, dropped a Gargoyle. Serys a second. One by one, the Rangers dropped five the six Gargoyles. The last gargoyle engaged Lieutenant Volstagg, driving him back.

Here, my only information comes the eye witness who survived the subsequent explosion, Val. According to the Guardian Archmage, the sapper team was just finishing their work as our main column marched through the pass below. Val’rethael Que’kasaars was overseeing the last of the work when Lieutenant Volstagg shouted warning.

When the Guardian Archmage looked up, he saw what had alarmed Vosltagg. Dozens of Thratchen approached from the back side of the ridge, closing rapidly on the sappers. They would be overrun in seconds…and with them any hope to stop the Maelstrom.

If the trap failed, the Maelstrom which had already entered the pass on the heals of our forces would catch and overwhelm our forces. I cannot imagine the choice Sir Volstagg was forced to make. Standing on the bombs, he had to choose whether to trigger the explosion and spring the trap early, taking out his own team, or watch the sappers die and then the army enveloped.

Volstagg made the difficult choice, signalling the Guardian Archmage to trigger detonation. The explosion rocked the ridge and showered massive stone onto both armies below. We lost nearly a hundred men…

Maelstrom, five times that number.

The pass was filled with smoke, dust, sand, and death. We lost the entire sapper team, only Val survived. And, we lost Alpha Team. Despite the main Maelstrom force being shattered, their gargoyles and thratchen were still closing. We had no choice but to use the time purchased at such a high cost to escape.

White Stagg 10th, 3126

Our column arrived in A’Davar late in the day. Over the course of a the 10 day trip, we lost over a hundred lives, but the city was secured. And, the Maelstrom force, now only a day behind was reduced to half its strength.

Unfortunately, when we arrived, scouts from A’Davar warned that a second force, the Kal armies original rear guard were also closing on the city. We had only speculation about their troop strength.

Any hopes of staging a rescue, or even sending scouts to search for survivors were dashed. Our duty was to the people of A’Davar. No matter the cost, A’Davar must hold. We will NOT abandon the Youlin Aradi to domination by the Empire. I will not.

I only pray that Celesia keep my Rangers safe…wherever they may be.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

A’Davar, Eternal Sands

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Campaign Report 98
Timeless Sands Conclusion Part One

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Eternal Desert, South of A’Davar

First Day of White Stagg, Year 3126 Under the Light

Fall has been a tumultuous time for the forces of the Southern Kingdoms. I fear that when the hour truly comes, we may be too far stretched to be of any good. Ascended help us.

Raining Leaves 15th, 3126
Red Moons turn Black. All omens point to a growing power in the west…

Raining Leaves 17th, 3126
To the north, on the 17th of Raining Leaves, First Company of the White Silver Wolves successfully broke out at Stonefinger, joining the First Host of the Southern Blades as they marched west on the city of Lanier. After months of siege, the weary warriors deserved a rest. And yet, no sooner had they begun their march, when I was forced, by need to divert forces from First and Second companies south, by river, to join a Fifth Company forming in Eastport for the sole purpose of securing, and protecting, Paradise. Strange times these.

On the same day, I received my first communication from Alpha Team in the desert for weeks. Their temporary truce with Tempest was at an end. Tempari as he requested to be called had abandon them in the depths of an ancient tomb in the heart of the desert. And, despite the fact that Tempest DID help the team defeat a Mummy, Tempari left my team to die, alone, in the dark.

Fortunately, they were saved by a Sir Emris of House Kahnar, Master Knight of the Golden Torch, a man who has lived among the desert peoples for decades. It would appear that he learned of our mission from “friends” in Paradise. This war makes strange bedfellows. First, the Emissary, then the city of Almahrad. Eventually, Shayakar, Patrons from Landra’Feya, and even Tempest Magus. What threat could be so dire as to bring all but the Kal into battle on the same side? Not since the Dragons…

Alpha Team is, at least secure in the Desert Rider stronghold. That is a sentence I never imagined I would write.

Harvest Moons 2nd, 3126
Per orders, elements of First, Second, Third AND Fourth Companies of the White Silver Wolves are recalled south, marching via most direct routes to board River Trade Coalition ships at Tirene. Other recruits have been dispatched to a staging area in Eastport. The city is not pleased with our armed presence, but agreed quickly enough when sufficient incentive was offered.

Harvest Moons 5th, 3126
Word reached my command from Sir Emris. Prince Romar’s host had ridden out, the Alpha Team riding in the Van. I cannot express the relief I felt in having regular communication restored. And yet, from such a distance, my Rangers were still far beyond my ability to greatly aid. Though, I worked tirelessly to position resources within their grasp.

Harvest Moons 10th, 3126
As I continued preparations for my departure to Tar’Imas and received updates on the WSW 5th Company’s progress, Lady Moonsilver intruded upon work to inform me of a curious request for an audience. Eve (Evelyn Dakota) had resurfaced in the Defiant Lands, near where the Alpha Team first encountered her. Also, a new presence, though one undeniably familiar; Guardian Archmage Val’rethael Que’kasaars. Hearing the name Que’kasaars I felt a sharp pang, yet the Que’kasaars Family is large and distinguished.

Via Lady Moonsilver’s Farspeaker network we were able to speak. More, Eldais Val’rethael. Eve asked only for me to bring her candied nuts when I traveled north. Bewildering child. Of the Guardian Archmage, I learned much, but each answer brought more and deeper questions. He claimed to be “recently returned” to the “Realm of Starfall,” as he stated. More vital, however, Eldais Val’rethael claimed to be well familiar with Xoas and Set, the correct spelling and pronunciation of the invading forces. My conversation with the Guardian Archmage confirmed my darkest fears. Xaos joins Tempest as the newest in what may well be an unending series of invaders from beyond the Veil.

I dispatched both Eve and “Val” as he is to be called, to the desert. Eve assured me that there were ample Oasis’ tied to Life. Once again I reached out to Sir Emirs, who spoke with Prince Romar, son of Romar, Lion of the Dunes, Bearer of the Three Moon Pennant and Supreme Amir of the Desert Riders. An agreement was settled. When the Riders reached the vicinity of an oasis of sufficient power, they would contact Eve and prepare her arrival. With her power, the sands might be held at bay. Guardian Archmage “Val” agreed to provide tactical guidance to the Prince and his forces.

It would have been my preference to keep Eve with my forces, but needs outweigh desire. Fortunately, Nell reluctantly agreed to serve as our shield against the storms. She has grown…powerful…of late. I pray that does signal a growing presence of Z’zt. We haven’t the strength to face another powerful assault by Tempest.

Harvest Moons 15th, 3126
Within an Oasis some miles south of the Xaos’ purported ritual site, Eve and “Val” joined members of the Desert Riders in the relative protection provided by the Ascended. By that evening, Prince Romar’s column arrived. It is good that Eve has rejoined the Rangers, and it is also well that Eldais Val’rethael met RFC Danica. She is one of the last to serve any length with Evoran. I know not how closely related Eldais Val’rethael and Evoran may have been, but they were clearly well acquainted. I hope that time, and situation permits “Val” to join us here. Moreover, I hope to invite him to join the Legios Heroes. His knowledge and natural talents would prove invaluable to our cause.

Harvest Moons 18th, 3126
And amidst all else, the Long Recon Rangers return after months of absence bringing with them dire news. After so many years, the time I long feared has come. We are not alone. It falls to us now to stand or fall. May Archanon grant us strength, and Celesia hope for tomorrow. And yet, I cannot hope to grapple that challenge while I also face this emergence in the Desert!!!

Then, on the same day the LRT arrived in Echer’Naught, I departed Echer’Naught for Tar’Imas, companions in tow. At the height of the 13th hour, I gathered with an elite team within Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove. There, High Druidess Treesinger summoned Landra’s power and whisked us away, across the lands. What would take weeks even upon Thunder was achieved in no more than a heartbeat.

We arrived in Tar’Imas, within the sacred grove deep in the heart of the city. There, I was met by representatives of the elves, and a few notables. Among them, commanders of the Wolfhaven Free Company of Riders, dispatched months ago to assemble and scout the area between Tar’Imas and A’Davar. I was also heartened to find members of the Order of Hammerfall Riders. My old Order answered my summons, relishing the chance to pit their skills against the famed riders of the sands. Included was a small force of fellow Silver Paladins, those who can sit a horse. All told, we counted nor more than 500, but with Archanon’s Strength and Celesia’s Grace may we turn the tide.

We rode before the hour was fully gone, riding hard. My route skirted the foothills of the Black Mountains, and passed south of A’Davar by a few days ride. We cross open territory, avoiding all strongholds, gathers, towns, and villages.

Even as we gathered, the newly formed Fifth Company of the White Silver Wolves departed south by RTC ships for Eastport.

Harvest Moons 21st, 3126
Rangers in A’Davar informed command that Prince Morok ki Anzher, Emir of A’Davar had answered the summons and his forces marched south from the city. Numbering around 500 foot.

Harvest Moons 23rd, 3126
Late in the eve, reports arrive that the RTC transports landed in Eastport where Galaen carracks stood ready to accept the troops, along with gear, supplies, and funds for an extended mission in the desert. Fresh recruits also joined the company increasing the number, with staff and support, to a heavy company of 250. Tirelessly, the troops loaded supplies and prepared for travel.

Harvest Moons 24th, 3126
Sailing with the tide, the Carrack Glory departed Eastport bound for Paradise escorted a the twin War Caravels, Windsward and Callomine. Already, Captain Roberts and the Sea Ranger dock at Paradise providing key information and reports via a Ranger bonded Farspeaker among his crew, hired specifically for this mission. From his reports, the situation in Paradise has grown well beyond dire. I pray the Wolves will have a city left to protect.

Harvest Moons 30th, 3126
The Carrack Glory, and Caravels Windsward and Callmoine arrived safely, but found the harbor choked with traffic. Due to riots and overpopulation on the docks, there is no where to offload troops, stranding the Wolves just off shore. Every effort has been made to mobilize our forces, but at present, the city is far to chaotic to hope for a landing. I have even reached out to Prince Velthana in hopes that his office might sway the Prince of Paradise to make some special accommodation. However, from the ships, reports reach me that even the port city is now engulfed by sandstorms.

Time is running out.

Harvest Moons 33rd, 3126
The Day all things turned.

In the morning, before the dawn, both forces from A’Davar and Prince Romar’s Desert Riders arrived at a location known locally as, the Valley of the Dead. Here, Lieutenant Volstagg, with Sir Emris, Eldais Val’rethael, and Prince Romar spied a battle already long in progress. Around a VAST excavation site, a force of Kal about 1000 strong assault from the west. From the east, another force of Tempest also attacked. Between them, a massive horde of Xaos, mercenary, local desert warriors, and zealots held fortifications around the ritual.

The ritual site was a massive black stone pyramid rising from the sand pit, carefully dug out by thousands of workers. Around the pyramid were four massive obelisks pouring energy into a rift above the capstone of the pyramid. Something massive pushed and strained to step through that tear….

Across the field to the north, A’Davar stood watching. Prince Romar took his column north, around behind Tempest to join his cousins from A’Davar. There, a war council ensued. Both Princes determined to attack the Kal forces while they were distracted, but Lieutenant Volstagg, aided by Sergeant Amaroth and RFC Zathlan convinced the Princes to focus first on Xaos. Once the Kal had spent their strength against the Xaos fortifications, the allies could turn and attack. By the Grace of Celesia, they acquiesced.

Just as they prepared to attack, emissaries from Tempest arrived. The same team that recovered Tempari and abandoned the Alpha Team approached. Their leader, a man intelligence has named only as “Gilmer” offered greetings and informed the allies that Tempest had no quarrel with them this day. They only sought to destroy the interlopers and seal the breach. If the Alpha Team wished to join them on that mission, they were welcome.

With the plan decided, Eldais Val’rethael began the battle by walking into the valley and opening of a magicstorm of energy which ripped holes in Xaos lines. In the gap rode the Desert Riders, and charged the Alpha Team along with their A’Davar allies.

Kal-A-Nar forces (1000), Tempest (500), and our combined forces of Desert Riders and A’Davar warriors (~1000) pressed Xaos from west, north and east, and yet, the invaders outnumbered our combined forces by Three to One. Worse, they continued to draw support from through the breach. The battle raged all day, only the Allies made significant headway, though late into the evening, Tempest joined out assault and finally came close to breaking the enemy lines.

Having ridden over 50 miles under a blazing sun, my column reached the battle just at sundown. We broke into two arms, flanked our allies, and slammed into Xaos lines. With our addition force focused on the weakest point in their northern flank, we finally managed to break their lines. Into that gap, I ordered the Ranges fore.

Lieutenant Volstagg and his Alpha Team, along with other Rangers, and Gilmer’s Tempest strike team, broke through the lines and assaulted the ritual directly.

I only learned of what transpired the following day, but the Rangers were suddenly faced with a choice:

They could scale the pyramid and assault the ritual at the apex, but risked being cut down by Reapers in the surrounding scaffolding.
They could attempt to hunt down and destroy the Xaos mages around the archaeological site, but there were many, possibly 13 or more. And all were well defended. Sergeant Amaroth, who was now in charge as Volstagg had fallen minutes before feared they would run out of time before finding enough mages.
The final option was destroying the four, massive obelisks, but the Rangers lacked sufficient explsoives to get the job done. However, Tempest offered an agreement. If the Rangers would hold Xaos at bay, THEY would bring down the towers.

Seeing the battlefield truce as the best option, the Alpha Team launched their attack on the pillars. They managed to bring down the first, but time ran out and something, a massive creature breached the tear and slammed into the battlefield nearby.

Described as an animal headed godlike being, over 18 feet tall, and armed/geared in Xaos tech, teh avatar of Set attacked.

The battle was swift and brutal. By the end, half the team was down, and the rest, save Ranna, were nearly so. She survived unscathed. Nevertheless, the avatar was defeated and with it, much of the ritual power. At about the same time, Tempest, and Kal, destroyed two of the remaining three obelisks. That ended the ritual.

Xaos scattered.

White Stagg 1st, 3126
There would be no celebration. Even as the towers fell, Tempest turned and quit the field. To the west a warning horn sounded. On the horizon, our rear guard spotted a massive force, 1000+ approaching fast. Maelstrom. Kal had summoned reinforcements. There was not hope in reforming our forces. We could only retreat.

Prince Romar chose discretion and the Desert riders peeled away south, leaving A’Davar, my cav and the Rangers between the Kal and Maelstrom armies.

Our only saving grace, the remnants of the Xaos forces still held Kal in place. I used that distraction to suggest to the Prince that he should quit the field and march for A’Davar. He agreed, and while his troops jostled into column, taking my wounded with them, I sent my cav force to screen our withdrawal.

Even as I pen this report from the saddle, my rear guard clashes with Maelstrom van. The Kal? I surmise they remain to take the spoils of victory.

And I have just learned that RFC Nexus Zathlan, of House Volstagg is missing…

…and I still have nothing but scattered reports that the Wolves have engaged Xaos in Paradise…

Damnation!

Archanon and my Lady Celesia granted their faith in me is warranted.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Eternal Desert, South of A’Davar

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Campaign Report 97
Mummy King

Ranger Serys

Report Filed: Raining Leaves 17th, 3126

Raining Leaves 12th, 3126

Lieutenant Volstagg was down, feverish and shivering, the ghoul sickness eating him from the inside. Sergeant Amaroth was not better of, only the touch of Flame coursing through his body kept the disease away. Corporal Daynore stood, eyes glazed, issuing a silence scream. RFC Zathlan clutched her belly groaning. RFC Danica glared at her team, ready to strike any of use down in an instant. RFC Grendel retched in the corner. Trainee Ranna stared through the hole in the wall down the darkened path into the underworld.

Tempari was gone, eaten by ghouls or worse. We had no food or water. No healing or succor potions to save us. Trapped in a tomb, Xaos sandstorm above, and undead horror below.

Let us hope that this moment is a low point for the team.

Eyes blazing, Sergeant Amaroth took charge, and demanded I see to the Lieutenant. Then barked orders at the others.I stripped the armor, but there was little I could do against the ghoul’s touch.

And then, Volstagg started glowing White Silver. He is really getting into this whole Chosen of the Unicorn shtick. In a moment, he was up, ripping off his shirt to impress Nexus, who was too busy doubled over in pain. Perhaps taking a pregnant woman into a combat zone was inadvisable?

With the Lieutenant back on his feet we regrouped and assessed the situation. Not much better than before. Without any good idea of Tempari’s location, we had a choice of retreat back into the ghoul infested tunnels, stay in the room as slowly die of dehydration and starvation, or venture down, into the Nether?

Lieutenant Volstagg chose death below. So, we stacked up, Volstagg nobly taking point and descended into the bowels of the tomb complex.

At the base of the switchback ramp cut through solid onyx stone, we arrived in a much larger chamber. Our small lanterns provided little light in the gloom, but it was clear the room was HUGE. Larger than any previously discovered.

Sergeant Amaroth now took point and descended a wide set of stone stairs aiming for an alcove to the left. Volstagg, or Danica had spotted gold glinting in the shadows. Creeping forward, Amaroth called back he found an ornate box or case covered in gold filigree and jewels. The thing also had an ornate face.

Corporal Daynore opined that we were in a burial chamber of something called a Pharaoh, some ancient desert King. These were fancy coffins for the Pharaoh and his top people. Judging by the intense feeling of dread and evil oozing from the walls, the chance that one, or all, of these bodies were undead…

Too high.

We proceeded further. Grendel sniffed another of the fancy coffins, then tried to bash it apart with his club. Lieutenant Vosltagg stopped him. Someone suggested stabbing it with White Silver. I was of the mind to leave the things alone, but kept quiet. No need making myself a target. With luck, when these things inevitably broke out of their little boxes and tried to kill us, they would home in on noisy team members first.

I noted with some dismay that the deeper into this chamber we moved, the worse Nexus’ pain seemed to get. Still, we passed another near dozen of those fancy boxes in half as many alcoves. At the far end of the LONG chamber, we found another set of stone stairs, wider than the entrance. Atop this dais was a massive version of those fancy coffins, this on twice the size.

Corporal Daynore informed us that this would be the tomb of the Pharaoh himself. About this time RFC Zathlan doubled over in pain, and the room was filled with a low guttural roar. That, and the sand began to move across the floor, gathering at our feet…

…before it exploded into a swirling cloud filling the room.

That’s when we hear heard the dull thuds echoing across the room as the undead, mummies, because that is what have now, broke free from their fancy boxes and lumbered toward us in the gloom of the dark room and the sand.

Only three of us had lamps, Volstagg, Daynore, and Zathlan, I think. They swarmed us as we huddled at the base of the stairs.

The mummies were tall, lanky undead, like zombies wrapped in rotting cloth strips, stained with gore and sand. They clawed and moaned as they staggered into our ranks. Everywhere they touched, unnatural rot seemed to spread. Worse, it turns out that in the ancient tomb, they regenerated like Trolls.

The undead Pharaoh, Mummy King, was also a Necromancer. And he flew.

Lieutenant Volstagg and Sergeant Amaroth made a run at the Mummy King, but his twin guards intercepted. The rest of us huddled together and tried to fight off the mummies, but every time we dropped on, it would crawl to its feet moments later.

Grendel stomped one, but it kept squirming. If we couldn’t find a way to put them down permanently this would be our last stand. And the Pharaoh kept hitting us with black magic. Things looked grim.

And then, Nexus spotted “blue lanterns” in the stairs and started firing back the other way. Here we were, overrun by mummies, and she starts firing off into the distance. Soon, half the team ignored the mummies litterally clawing our faces off. Sergeant Volstagg broke free and started making his way back to the stairs. Daynore followed, and Nexus sprinted for the exit.

She made it halfway before being blasted back by a massive gust of wind, nearly toppling me.

On the dais, Danica retreated before the onslaught of the necromancer Pharaoh and Lieutenant Volstagg battled the Mummy King’s guards.

About then, in desperation, Volstagg hit one of his mummies with a “Troll buster” from the WolfPack. Little more than an alchemically sparked fire bombs, nevertheless, the improvised incendiary did its work. The mummy died screaming.

These can be used with the Throw skill and have a range of 3/6/12 and do 2d10 damage to anyone in a Medium Burst Template. On a roll of 4-6 on 1d6, those hit also catch on fire. A miss means the bottle didn’t break, the alchemical primer failed. If the hero rolls a 1 on both his Throwing die and Wild Die, he drops the bottle, causing the burst template—and damage—to center on him instead. Each round after, for 3 rounds, anyone within or entering the MBT takes 1d10 damage, on a roll of 6 on 1d6 catches fire.

Fire.

Pretty quickly, everyone is torching the mummies. Until Danica takes a hit and drops her “Troll buster” on herself. Sergeant Amaroth finds one of the oil braziers and lights it, filling the area with light. I use the rags of one of the burning mummies to light another.

About this time, we hear Tempari’s voice ring out and the chamber is flooded with arcfire, ripping the mummies to ribbons, and lighting them on fire. Tempari himself unleashes a torrent azure blue lighting into the Mummy King. When the necromancy was down, Tempari dispelled the sand, clearing the air. And like that, the arrival of Tempest meant an end to the mummies, but also put us in an awkward position.

Also, Tempari had found reinforcements. There were five Tempest soldiers with him. Two elite guards, two scouts and one…one looked like a killer, but not a commander. They had cover, the high grounds, and honestly, we were pretty much dead anyway.

Lieutenant Volstagg, unaware of the Tempest’s arrival, he had eyes only for his wife. During the fight, Danica, Ranna, AND Nexus had both taken hits and gone down. The rest of us were in little better condition. Sergeant Amaroth faced the Tempest. For a moment, it looked like they were going to finish what the mummies had started, but, in a moment of uncharacteristic charity, Tempari waved his men off…and disappeared into the tunnel.

Lit by the warm glow of burning mummy corpses we took stock of our situation, and I worked on reviving our fallen members. The simple fact that I am now our team medic should be far more disturbing that it is. With work, I managed to get Nexus, Ranna, and Danica on their feet. Though, I am also concerned about the sheer glee Grendel took in removing Ranna’s armor. I believe we need another meeting on appropriate touching. First to attend should be Lieutenant Volstagg.

With everyone more or less on their feet, we stacked up again and started making our way back out the way we came in, following Tempest. I was scouting ahead when I heard the snuffle and growl of ghouls in the chamber above us. I counted five.

By the time I returned to report, Ranna had noted a new draft in the Mummy room that had not been present when we arrived. Fanning out, we searched the room and eventually found ourselves BACK at the King Mummy’s coffin. High on the wall, roughly where Tempari had slammed the necromancer into the wall, one of the stone panels was cracked…and air whistled through.

This deep meant that hole reached all the way up to the surface. So, Ranna climbed up, held by a giddy Grendel. The ogress lifted Sergeant Amaroth up to the cracked stone and he went to work with Nexus’ hammer. In a few minutes, he broke away the rest of the cap.

As it turns out, the stone was a cap over one of the air shafts covered, presumably, just before the Pharaoh was mummified. When the necromancer slammed into the thinner stone, it cracked. Hence, draft.

Unfortunately, the air shaft was narrow, far too narrow for anything but a child, or a skinny elf. Nexus was the first choice, but being pregnant, Corporal Daynore was volunteered.

But first, he stripped and Grendel helped smear him with grease. Yet, another concerning element of this team, our frequency with getting naked and greasy. Now slippery as a…well…greased pig, Grendel helped the nude, greasy, hammer wielding elf up to the shaft’s entrance.

It took…a while for him to crawl out. Below, the oil and mummy corpses died down…and went out, plunging us into cave darkness. Volstagg took the opportunity to goose Nexus, hardly the appropriate time…but…at least they would die amused.

We waited in the dark, hoping for a miracle when Lieutenant Volstagg shouted for us to move away from the wall. We scattered, sort of, falling over each other as the room began to shake. Then, the air shaft sudden grew larger, into a tunnel and weak, sandy light filtered into the room. A figure also appeared, smallish, swaddled in desert garb from head to toe…

Moments later, a knotted rope rolled out of the new tunnel into the chamber. We needed no more encouragement. Quickly, we all scrambled up the tunnel into the sandstorm above. I found it curious that when I first entered the desert, seeing a sandstorm approaching was somewhat unmanning. At this point, however, the sand was, quite literally, the least of our worries.

Raining Leaves 13th, 3126 (Early Morning)

Topside, we found a curious sight. First, Daynore was still in his birthday suit, now looking something like a living, anatomically correct, sand golem, as a thick layer of sands had stuck to the grease. Someone had mercifully given him a cloak, which likely helped keep him from being flayed by the swirling sands, but also made him look that much more miserable. the only part I recognized was those small, burning eyes set into a ball of sand slightly resembling his head.

Second, we were not alone. In addition to the swaddled goblin that bore a hole through meters of sandstone, there were other swaddled figures, camels, and a curious human man, nearly as large as Volstagg with a white beard, blue eyes and a Galean accent. Emris. He was in charge.

Once we were all above, and being excoriated by sand, the big man suggested we all mount the camels and vacate the premises. Behind us, that little caster who bore the hole, used magic to cause an explosion which sealed the breach, then let the sand fill back in. That hole would never be found.

I climbed onto the back of the surly beast, and waited. As soon as the others were mounted, my camel started walking on its own accord. Only then did I note there were no reins. Apparently, I was no longer in command of my own destiny. Though, I have not been for some time.

We traveled for hours, though cocooned in the sand storm, wrapped in cloaks, and feeling the gentle sway of the camel beneath me, I drifted in and out of consciousness. Sometime just as the sky lightened, so I assume dawnish on the 13th, we arrived a large rocky ridge. Not quite a mountain, not quite a dune…just a long, large stone outcrop from the relentless deserts.

We were led under cover of the rocks and the wind mercifully was cut off. There, we found more Desert Riders, and mounts. We dismounted, and were ordered to drop our gear, all of it.

Normally, I would have protested. But, all they had to do was wait half a day and we would all be dead or out from dehydration. So, I stripped, and dropped everything I owned in a pile with the rest. I was given a surprisingly soft linen pair of pants, a tunic, and water. The rest followed suit.

Once we were all unarmed, unarmored, and completely helpless, we were led through the twisting, ancient tunnels to a sort of information where we were all bade lie down. Every instinct screamed to remain alert, ready, but after so many months of exposure and pain, the soft palliasse, linen sheets, cool breeze humming through the tunnels…I slept the sleep of the dead.

Over the next few days, we were treated well enough, fed, watered, and our wounds treated, but not magic. The food was all dried or dehydrated fruit, nuts, and some unleavened bread. Nothing has ever tasted so fine.

Raining Leaves 16th, 3126

On the eve of the Emris returned. He asked us all to follow and, doing so, led us up to the upper levels of the tunnel complex. There, he showed us an ominous sight. All three moons hung in the sky, each glowing an angry red. As the height of the 13th hour approached, the three come together, growing darker until all disappeared into a single black hole.

Here, under that sky, Emris repeated what the crazed Xaos assassin had repeated before being summarily executed by Lieutenant Volstagg,

_“Red sands stained,

Lord of Xaos and war,

We stand before the storm,

Preparing your arrival.”_

He then introduced himself. In his younger years, he was an adventuring academic in the desert researching the mysteries which consume all who come to this desolate place. Thirty years ago, his caravan was raided by Desert Riders. Most of the others were killed, but he was taken hostage.

It was difficult at first, but the Desert people knew more of the history of the sands than any of the “civilized” cities. And so, after a decade of living among the Desert Riders, Emris was taken into the tribe, not as a raider, but as a scholar. Despite knowing more than any other of his order, he elected to stay with his new “family.”

He also introduced himself as Sir Emris of House Kahnar, Master Knight of the Golden Torch. More bloody nobility. It would seem they lurk everywhere…

Still, nice to have someone from back east here.

Afterwards, he led us to a larger room and answered what questions he could. Once our curiosity was satisfied, he told Lieutenant Volstagg that we would be meeting his lord, the Supreme Amir of the Desert Riders in the morning. With that, he left us to discuss out fates.

Volstagg said things. It boils down to what it always does. Keep quite, follow his lead, and try not to get us all killed.

We rested, but I for one was plagued with thoughts about the situation, and how we came to this place. Emris had said that we had, “Powerful Allies,” and suggested that the message of our location had been passed all the way back east to Colonel Wolfhaven. He also suggested that forces normally inimical were working together on this?

Perhaps this is less unbelievable as the map Corporal Daynore has been following in his head was planted there by an ancient Shayakar. And, up until “departing company,” we had traveled with a Tempest Magus for the last few months. And now we were to meet with the true master of the Desert Riders, one of the most infamous bandits in Shaintar. The others seem to just accept all and move one, but I must be wary. For all our sakes.

Raining Leaves 17th, 3126

In the morning, Emris fetched us personally. He escorted us for what seemed like miles through the twisting tunnels of this rocky, ridge camp until we came to a large, natural cavern. The riders had taken the natural pillars and carved them into the semblance of ornate colonnades. At the far end under a silk pavilion, and reclining on pillows, the Supreme Amir of the Desert People.

We approached, bowed and formalities were offered. The leader of these people was introduced as:

Prince Romar, son of Romar, Lion of the Dunes, Bearer of the Three Moon Pennant and Supreme Amir of the Desert Riders.

Volstagg had his own word soup.

We were offered fruit, wine, water, and hospitality. Which is good as they are less likely to kill us out of hand if they offer water first. Less likely.

We sat, ate, watched. Lieutenant Volstagg offered up four items he had collected over our journey: Prince Velthana of Almahrad’s scroll, the Emissary’s Language medallion, the ancient Golden Sun gold coin, and the carved sandstone baton given him by the Desert Rider named rider we last saw on the banks of the Oasis Lake back in A’Tora.

Prince Romar seemed to puzzle over these things. Ultimately, he demanded to know who had given Volstagg the baton. Volstagg told the truth, and the Prince seemed content. After a bit more bull, we were bade to remain with his people. We would be given some free rein. He would feed, cloth, and provide for us. And, when the time was right, he would call us back to discuss next steps.

Then we were dismissed, and Emris escorted us to our “new rooms.” I have a feeling we are going to be here for a while. Still, good a time as any to learn more about the Desert Riders. I imagine few have gained this much access to their stronghold and manage to live long enough to report back…

Serys

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