Filed White River 29th, 3126
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…
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.