Report Filed: Dark Moons 3rd, 3126
The following represents compiled information gained through Alpha Team debrief, asset reports, and independent intel gathering sources.
White River 30th, 3126
Some time in the early morning, Alpha Team, with Braun Olar, having recently escaped the Unchained camp, were hunted down and attacked by a pack of Hellhounds led by a Ravening Beast. According to Sergeant Audric Amaroth during the fighting, the Ravening Beast was the very same he slew in the Blood Pits. Based on our own Flame Slayers, Ravening Beasts, once summoned, always return. Further analysis suggests that this particular creature might be bound in some way to Audric through Thaumaturgical blood magic. It would have most likely hunted him exclusively until eventually bringing Audric down.
Though, of sad note, it was also the attack of that beast, and the threat on the former Ranger Danica, which caused his initial fall to Flame. Considering how events transpired, there is some theory that the beast may have been a piece of a larger plot, specifically to turn Audric. To what end we cannot say.
Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth and Serys held the line, covering the rest of the team’s retreat. RFC Grendel dragged Corporal Zathlan behind him as he ploughed through the deep snows. RFC Ranna dragged RFC Moldova who clutched an unconscious Corporal Daynore in her litter. Due in no small part to timely assistance from the Olaran, Braun, Volstagg and the others slew the pack, but the beasts had done their work to delay the Rangers. Kal calvary appeared, riding down the team.
Fortunately, the deep snow slowed the pursuing Kal, allowing the Rangers to evade. The chase lasted to the wee hours of the morning. Just before dawn on the 30th, Alpha Team crested a ridgeline, tumbling over the sheer cliff into a snowbank. As they clawed their way free, Sergeant Amaroth spotted a Tempest Castra dominating the valley before them with a clear field of fire for hundreds of yards in every direction. With the Kal cavalry moments from riding over the ridge, the Team was caught between a rock and a hard place.
Lieutenant ordered the team forward, and then began shouting commands at the Tempest in their own tongue, directing their fire at the cavalry. Under stormfire cover, Alpha Team reached the Tempest Castra. Though tense at first, Lieutenant Volstagg was surprised to see “Tempari”, the Tempest Magus they had worked with in the desert.
Tempari ordered that Alpha Team be healed and fed. While there, he also had his artificer examine Corporal Daynore and Corporal Zathlan’s collars. Daynore’s he reported as being an “unbreakable” artifact, nearly shattered by Daynore’s power. Whatever creature has possessed the Adept is far more powerful and dangerous that we imagined. As for Nexus, her collar was confirmed to be even more advanced and of a make not of this Realm. Though, Tempari claimed it was not of Tempest make.
Based on the recent revelations around Xaos, it can be assumed that the collar was purchased from outside Shaintar. This begs the question from where and by whom? For security reasons, Sergeant Minor Longtail, on orders from the Colonel, have been circumspect in exactly WHO has been handling arrangements to recover Alpha Team. In fact, I believe that Longtail even outsourced everything.
No part of the support or rescue operations for Alpha Team from the Defiant Lands have been handled, organized, or funded by anyone currently or formerly a member of Grayson’s Gray Rangers. Moreover, none of the operations have been overseen by anyone currently residing or working in the city of Echer’Naught…
Healed, fed, and informed, Tempari’s scouts alerted the Castra to the arrival of Kal forces. Tempari informed the team that the hill castra was only their forward scouting operation. A larger, more heavily fortified castra was behind lines nearby.
As troubling as this revelation is strategically for operations against Tempest, tactically, retreating behind Tempest lines served the immediate needs of the team. Providing a single Explorator scout, Tempari sent the team to the main Tempest castra while he “dealt with” the approaching Kal.
Why Tempari seemed so willing to assist the team remains a question. I suspect that had events not transpired, their stay would have been involuntarily long. Regardless, Tempari was not seen again and his scout castra was presumably destroyed by the Scorched Priestess and her Tor Sadais guard.
It took the better part of the 30th to push through the deep snow, but late on the same day, Alpha Team arrived in site of the castra…
…only to find it destroyed and the garrison slaughtered.
After the Explorator cleared the fort, Alpha Team arrived to find the main gate shattered, holes blown through the walls and the remains of the Tempest garrison lying scattered about. Alpha Team examined the carnage and agreed on two facts. First, the Kal did NOT destroy this castra. Second, the attacking force used some variant of arcfire, and alien weapons similar to, but distinct from, Xaos. Tapping into the creature inside, Corporal Daynore reported visions of nine foot spears, which was consistent with the holes punched clean through Tempest armor. Clearly, there is more happening in the Defiant Lands than reports indicate…which might explain Colonel Wolfhaven’s reasoning for placing the Legio Heroes keep on the west side of Tar’Imas. Idly, I am curious how much more aware he is of what is actually occurring beyond our borders?
The Explorator and Alpha Team cleared the ruined castra finding no one alive, but no sign of the attackers. They DID find tracks indicating this new foe fought in a large, block formation style unknown to any armies within Shaintar, but little else. Once certain none of the enemy remained, the explorator directed the Team to recover and secure the fort until he, or Tempari, returned, and then he departed to report the attack to the scout castra.
Alone, Lieutenant Volstagg proceeded to raid the arcfire supplies and search the area, Sergeant Amaroth took RFC Grendel and RFC Ranna to fortify the longhouse. Serys scouted, with Braun on lookout. Late in the eve, Corporal Zathlan went into labor, and a pregnant RFC Moldova tended to her.
Hours later, with Nexus still in labor, the Rangers convened to discuss the situation, but were interrupted by a shout from Serys. Lieutenant Volstagg and Sergeant Amaroth mounted the gate steps to peer into the gloom. Picked out against the white of the snow were two figures, the hulking form of the Tor Sadais, and the diminutive figure of the Scorched Priestess. Just outside of even Sery’s range, they stopped, the Tor Sadais lifted and beheaded the Explorator and casually tossed his body aside.
It would seem Tempest fared about as well against the Kal as they fared against whoever destroyed the castra. Once the Kal appeared, Lieutenant Volstagg ordered his troops to the wall, leaving RFC Moldova with Corporal Zathlan. While the Rangers formed, the Scorched Priestess summoned a Horde Champion, and then used High Magic Teleport to drop the demon behind the castra’s defensive wall, splitting the Ranger defense.
Immediately, the demon laid into the Rangers, inflicting grievous wounds, while destroying the entire gate structure with fire breath. Both RFC Grendel and Ranna were crushed under the rubble, along with Corporal Daynore. Lieutenant Volstagg, Serys, and Braun were trapped outside the ruined gate, facing down the still approaching Kal, while Sergeant Amaroth was trapped inside with the demon, being bathed in hellfire.
However, before the Horde Champion could finish, a crystalline DRAGON burst from the rubble and set upon the demon. Though the dragon appeared to ignore the Rangers, it neither avoided harming them. Sergeant Amaroth, equipped with little more than an iron longsword fell back as a last line protecting the longhouse and the pregnant women within. Lieutenant Volstagg attempted to shoot the demon with a recovered arclance, but the weapon fizzled. He never got a second shot, as the Tor Sadais closed within striking range.
The three warriors outside the gates braced for the attack as the Tor Sadais sped into melee with Volstagg. As a member of the Emperor’s personal guard, the Tor Sadais are peerless warriors, known for brutality. Were he fully healed and well armed and armored, Sir Volstagg might have stood a chance. But, run down like a wounded stag, the Olaran knight was powerless. With a single blow, the Tor Sadais dismembered him at the right elbow, then punted him into the rubble.
Serys shouted for Braun to drag the wounded knight back inside, while he laid down covering fire, but to little avail. Behind them, demon and dragon grappled, the larger dragon gaining the upper hand. With one last savaging, the dragon slew the demon, sending him back to the abyss. What he would have done then, is only speculation.
At the moment Volstagg fell, his wife, Lady Zathlan, gave birth to their daughter, the first of two twins. No longer amused by the hunt, the Scorched Priestess drew upon her power and shattered Corporal Daynore’s Dragon spell, dropping him to the ground, fatigued and spent. She then ordered the Tor Sadais to stand down, and present the Team with a choice: A) Surrender Nexus’ twins (how she knew they were twins is a topic of debate) and Daynore, B) All die while the children and adept be taken anyway. They were given on hour.
Why she did this is another point of contention and speculation. Perhaps she truly believed the dire circumstances would compel the team to capitulate. Though, if she knew anything about the Alpha Team, or Rangers in general, she must have known they would never agree. Or, perhaps there is a more sinister calculation?
We know that she spoke to Sergeant Amaroth during the orgy in Kal Montak, and at that time suggested the two of them have a conversation “once all of this was over.” And, as previously mentioned, the Ravening Beast seemed to be intent on hunting down Audric in particular. Some believe that at a certain point, seducing Audric became a higher priority than capturing either Daynore or the twins. It is also possible that she realized that she could not contain whatever has taken over Daynore, so she abandoned that operation. Why she also allowed the twins to escape…perhaps it has something to do with the unbreakable collar from another Realm around Nexus’ neck. Or, perhaps she grossly miscalculated Alpha Team?
Whatever the truth, true to their word, the Scorched Priestess and the Tor Sadais waited outside the keep while the Alpha Team decided what to do. With only an hour left before some, or all, would die, options were limited. Firstly, Daynore used his skills to heal Volstagg, Grendel, and Ranna. Sir Volstagg, minus his arm, first held his children in his arms. Meanwhile, Amaroth and Gracely Moldova went in private to talk, and ultimately, say goodbye. Interestingly, Grendel and Ranna also had a quiet moment alone.
While most of Alpha Team spend the hour making peace, Braun stood guard while Serys formulated a plan. He had found an old, partially collapsed smugglers tunnel out of the keep. With all the ordnance left over from Tempest, his plan was to rig the keep to blow, then evacuate everyone but two rear guard. They would delay the Kal long enough for the others to get clear of the blast zone. As Volstagg has the only training in arcfire, he would have to be the last to evacuate, and the closest to the actual detonation.
Serys chose Sergeant Amaroth, who quickly volunteered for the mission. With the last of their time, the Rangers made preparations. At just under an hour, Alpha team, minus Serys and Sergeant Amaroth crawled into the small, dark tunnel. Serys’ last act was to give Volstagg his family necklace to be returned to his home via the Rangers. Then, while Serys and Audric engaged the Tor Sadais and Scorched Priestess, the rest of Alpha Team, with Braun fled.
The battle, so far as we can tell, was brief. Volstagg waited as long as he could, but was forced to detonate the arcfire devices while he, Grendel and Ranna were still in the tunnel. Fortuantely, Braun, Durlan, Nexus, and Gracelyn made it out, and RFC Moldova used Jack version 2 to dig them out. Corporal Daynore healed them again, and they fled the scene of destruction, leaving a massive column of smoke, ash, and debris rising into the sky behind them.
White River 31st, 3126
They ran all night, and into the morning. Both RFC Grendel and Ranna were naked, having to strip to squeeze through the narrow tunnel, and Grendel had lost an eye, Ranna a shattered leg during the fighting. Volstagg, minus an arm, carried his son. Corporal Zathlan, hastily cleaned and sore from childbirth, ran with their daughter. RFC Moldova was still nine months pregnant, fighting through the snow. Only Braun and Corporal Durlan Daynore remained in relatively good condition. Though, Braun had taken a few hard blows during the previous nights flee from Kal cavalry.
It was min-morn under a gray and snowy sky when the tattered remnants of Alpha Team arrived at Site Defiant. Here, a coalition of sellswords, mercenaries, and various “allies” had established a base site to recover Alpha Team and permanently end any pursuit. Collecting the personnel and resources had taken months, and the expense was exorbitant. To be honest, I am actually unaware of the cost and time as, again, no Rangers or Ranger resources were used.
Sir Hevain, a contact from Olara was in nominal command. He, along with “our friend” the assassin, and Trokash waited in the “sheltar” for the Team. Once Alpha Team arrived, they were fed “sea spiders” and “sea bugs” fresh from the Wayfarer’s Rest, given healing and supplies, and then mounted when Eve, also in attendance, arrived to warn of the Kal approaching. Eve and Trokash led the team away on horseback as the trap at Site Defiant was sprung.
Wolfhaven’s Rekin Kru, i.e. Fekla and Grek, along with a “reformed” Korash, held the main line. Other allies, over already mentioned, attacked from screened positions. The entire “structure” was a powerful illusion spell which was dropped with the trap was sprung. Reports confirm the Scorched Priestess, along with allies, DID engage with the team at Site Defiant, but she was not killed. Though, a number of allies were.
Trokash and Eve led the team east on horseback for three days.
White River 33rd, 3126
In the 13th hour on the 33rd, the Alpha Team, along with Braun, arrived in Tar’Imas. In the confusion, Braun departed their company with Trokash, while Eve took the rest to the elves Sacred Grove. There, she used her immeasurable power to teleport them to Echer’Naught’s grove where Treesinger and Sergeant Alfred Wolfhaven waited. Alfred took Corporal Daynore into protective custody, while the others were escorted to the City Hospital (formerly Red Lamp) for treatment. There, their wounds were healed, and all were treated for privation and exposure.
Dark Moons 3rd, 3126
After three days of rest and recuperation, Alpha Team was permitted to leave the Hospital, though all were pulled from active duty pending evaluation. Moreover, each member of the unit was briefed on their current status and given time to decide what course of action they wished to take.
Lieutenant Gunther Volstagg has been offered the Post Commander position in Almahrad. His acceptance would come with a promotion to Captain, a significant pay increase, and diplomatic immunity.
Corporal Nexus Zathlan, House Volstagg was also offered a post in Almahrad as her husbands Senior NCO along with a promotion to Sergeant, pay increase, and diplomatic status. In addition, we received a last minute report that indicated Nexus and Serys were related. Per an investigation by an Adept of the Echer’Naught’s Church of Light Citadel:
“Sideria Alorian (Nexus Zathlan) was born on Forest Dance 1st, 3104 in a small fishing/trading village on the west bank of the Crystal Lake to her parents, Miria (Eldakar) and Rellar Aloran (human). Miria’s twin (Essania-Life Bond), Niria and her husband Roland Korvar, also lived within the village with their two children, Sysvayanya and Serysvarya (Sys, and Serys). Miria (Mother) was a known healer, Niria a renowned weaver, Rellar (Father) a merchant, and Roland a fisher.
Late Dancing Clouds 3104, their village was raided and destroyed by Prelacy raiders. Both Rellar and Roland were slain defending the village. Miria, Zathlan’s mother, was trapped in their home, burning to death. Niria felt her sister die, and presumed Zathlan died in the flames. However, Miria managed to shove her daughter into the hands of a fleeing villager who bordered a boat with other refugees.
Zathlan travelled via ship to Lakehold, where, presumably, her savior died from wounds. Zathlan’s basket, however, was found in the tall lake grass by Lord and Lady Zathlan who had been called for defense in answer to the Prelacy raids. They chose to take in the infant once they found she had no family.
Meanwhile, a devastated Niria left the village and eventually settled in Tar’Imas, continuing to weave. Both children fought in defense of their home during the War of Flame 3121-3123. After the war, Sys left home to join the Rangers, eventually she would be killed in the Wildlands under command of Mugin Von Dietrich sometime in Dancing Clouds, 3123, shortly after the war. Von D would return her necklace, spear, and bow to the Rangers, who would then ship her effects to Tar’Imas.
Her younger brother, Serys, would not receive the effects until 3125, when he would begin a quest to hunt down those responsible for his sister’s death. In Falling Ice 3126, Seyrs joined the Alpha Team as a guide on their mission to find a plague cure in his home of Tar’Imas. He joined the team on 16th of First Hunt, 3126. Serys would battle alongside his cousin until his death, Dark Moons, 3126. Upon his death, he asked Sir Gunther Volstagg to return his sisters necklace to Sergeant Major Stormhammer to be returned to his only family."
Sergeant Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven has been labeled MIA, though, when allied assets arrived at the battle site, Audric’s body was not among the fallen, or the rubble. Based on reports of his slide into Flame, we fear greatly that he has been taken by the Scorched Priestess, willingly or not we cannot say. At the very least he is presumed compromised, potentially now a threat.
Corporal Durlan Daynore was given three choices. First, he could have his power permanent bound, and rejoin the Team after significant evaluation, but he would permanently be pulled from the chain of command, though he would retain his rank. Second, he could retire will full pension, though unless he allowed himself to be bound, he would be banned from Ranger outposts, or contact with Rangers for security reasons. Third, we have been contacted by an interested party who believe they can lift or remove whatever is inside Durlan, though they are not sure if his memories or magic would remain intact. Nor can the guarantee success. Assuming they WERE successful, they would insist on Durlan working with their organization so they might study the effects. He has yet to choose an option.
RFC Grendel and Ranna both were healed and have commendations pending in their files.
RFC Gracelyn Moldova has officially requested Maternity Leave, though this being her second extended leave from Alpha Team, this separation may be permanent. Still, she is a valued member of the Rangers and will be top pick for nearly any posting
Serys died a hero, saving his team, and his family. His death eliminated the need for a scheduled investigation into his behavior during this latest mission. He is being promoted to Ranger First Class posthumously and his benefits are being sent directly to his mother in Tar’Imas. Lieutenant Volstagg and Corporal Zathlan have been tasked with informing Sery’s mother of his death and returning the Necklace.
This leaves only a few unanswered questions. Has Audric fully fallen to Flame? Was his seduction ultimately the aim of the Scorched Priestess, and if so, to what end? There is also the birth of Serys Roman Volkstagg (boy) and Wynter Night Volkstagg (girl). Ranger healers confirm that they are, like their grandmother, Essania. More interesting is that after their healing by the Emissary, they were bestowed with greater than typical magical potential. To what extent, we don’t know. And then, there is the band around Nexus’ neck. We, as of yet, have no means of removal. In fact, we do not yet fully understand its power. Then, there is the matter of this new enemy fighting Tempest in the Defiant Lands. Recently declassified reports suggest that these warriors are in fact Spartoi, or some derivation, from yet another Realm. From the last Long Recon mission, these warriors seek to Liberate and Rule Shaintar, for our own well being. Benevolent, though Dictators. And, was the Tempest scout castra destroyed? We do not yet have accurate repordts. Clearly, more is happening in the Defiant Lands than we know.
Still, Alpha Team is returned, and all the children saved. The mission was a success. It is time to mourn, celebrate, rest, and appreciate everything fought so hard to protect.