Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 123
Kenzie, Ingrid, Steelwing Wedding

Steelwing

Filed: Forest Dance 6th, 3127

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

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 20th, 3127

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

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

Dancing Clouds 22nd, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fike!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again.

Dancing Clouds 26th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

…but we are never making it home.

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

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

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

Like I said…we are never making it home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 27th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 6th, 3127

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

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

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 122
Quadir, Rockbreaker, Ranger Alliance

Steelwing,

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

Apparently we can, with help.

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

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

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

Festival Moons 8th, 3127

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

It was actually pretty undignified and hilarious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which worked, but nearly killed them in the process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Moons 10th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Moons 33rd, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 1st, 3127

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

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

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

Seriously, now I want a pillow from this place.

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

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

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

What in the name of the Ascended IS Wolfhaven?

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 12th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

I chose the traditional sash of my people.

We prepared extensively from the 12th-18th.

Dancing Clouds 18th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home.

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

That worried me.

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

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 121
Raid on A'Morgal Part Two

Lieutenant Ammira kes Ziva
Farspeaker bonded out of Almahrad

On temporary Diplomatic assignment to Echer’Naught Alpha Team

Filed: Festival Moons 8th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of this was dutifully reported to Corporal Sssahliissstah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delta Team.

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

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

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

Farspearker Ammira kes Ziva

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2nd Report of Gilbert Grimm
There's an Arrow in my Shoulder

I sit here in my quarters desperately trying to not bleed all over my parchment. Recently I have experienced something quite new and I am not pleased, but first some context.

When i last left off I met with The Olaran noble, Ranger Egon Manfried, and we made our way to meet with our team. During our travels to the clan home we were informed that our team mate, Ranger Blackstone, was set to be married to the clan chief’s daughter. Sadly for him the battle with an army of Trogladesh and the political blunder have made everyone question wither the wedding would still be accepted. By a show of luck or some sort of deep seated trouble that may befall us all at some time, the wedding was still accepted.

Still before that we were introduced to the team. Once we reached the estate we met the team, and in order of rank they are: Corporal SSalisstah, Ranger First Class Ranna, Ranger First Class Blackstone, Ranger First Class Mckenzie, Ranger First Class Ingrid, Ranger First Class Steelwing, and Ranger “The Explorer.”

the most surprising and interesting of them all had to be “The Explorer.” I had heard rumpos and ghost stories of the Builders or sometimes “The Red Devils” and how they marched in droves across the lands leaving a wake of death and destruction behind them. The fellow was nothing like I had expected such a being to be, but most striking of this being was the Arc-fire that he carried and more specifically the Cresarium used to power it. As an individual who searches for rare and magical ingredients for my own uses and research, i nearly salivated at the thought of acquiring such a rare and valuable material. I hoped to make good relations with “The Explorer” in hopes of maybe making a fair trade for some of his precious cargo.

I resolved soon after to try and talk with the Builder, and to my surprise he was quite cordial in taking time to allow me to ask some questions. Even more to my amazement he even parted with one of his crystals, but certainly not at a cheap price. His price was not one of a monetary standard but one of more troubling means. He simply asked for a favor in some near future and where I come from owing a favor gets you killed. Still I couldn’t pass up the chance to acquire such a rare ingredient, so against my better judgment i agreed to the terms. The Cresarium wasn’t the only valuable thing i received from him. He offered knowledge as well and i greatly accepted it. I have to say I look forward to a partnership we may share in the future.

Next, I found my way to Corporal SSalisstah. I spoke with her about possibly putting in an order to acquire funds for ingredients and other necessary tools for my Alchemical pursuits. The often overlooked aspect of Alchemy is that a steady and reliable need of funds is necessary for such things. Many other alchemists find these through wealthy benefactors or by being some sort of merchants themselves and acquiring the gold that way. To be frank I hope the Ranger’s in some sense will be my “Benefactor” if I am to prove useful to this team.

After the meeting with the Corporal I made my rounds to introduce myself to the Others. RFC Ranna seems to be fairly quiet but I know that she’s experienced a great loss and so I can understand her silence. RFC Blackstone seems busy and quite spread thin but that is to be expected of a man in his position. Ranger First Classes McKenzie, Ingrid, and Steelwing seem to be in quite the relationship. I never expected the Ranger’s to be a place one could facilitate romantic relations, but then again as i stare at my bandages I can see how one might never know when such things could no longer be a privilege. I was already fairly acquainted with Ranger Manfried, but overall he seems to be a capable fellow, not surprising considering he is a noble. Though from many different walks of life, the team seems to be quite capable and easily entered me into their ranks.

During their time in the clan home Ranger “The Explorer” seems to have found quite a degree of respect from the dwarves. This is primarily from the Lore Masters, but such is to be expected of a being from an advanced and still vastly unknown civilization. Through what I guess to be a form of luck he has been gracious to allow me some time in the clan homes archives. This was in great part due to my knowledge of the Drawven language and he asked me to be his interpreter, to which i greatly and quickly accepted. Much of the time i spent relaying conversations between the two parties but own my own time I was allowed to peruse their collection of knowledge and have discovered through it many new and wondrous ingredients, experiments, magical theories, and much more that will greatly help advance my own Alchemical achievements. The time on the archives seemed much too short, but soon the date of the wedding arrived.

The wedding was a long affair but sported many new and unknown customs of the dwarves I had never known. Most intriguing was the chance to see the dwarven made rings. I made sure to keep a mental note of the style and aesthetics for future reference, considering Dwarven craftsmanship even rivals that of the Karrymains. Nonetheless the whole affair lasted roughly 8 hours, during which i later found out from the Corporal that Mckenzie and Ingrid had fallen asleep. Luckily we don’t believe the dwarves noticed, but considering what follows I dough that would be the greatest offense towards this clan.

Following the ceremony we were led to the grand hall where the post celebrations were to be held. Myself acting as the Interpreter and “The Explorer” as an esteemed guest were seated near the head table, Blackstone obviously with his new bride at the head table, and eventually the rest of the team was seated at the very back as one of the last patrons to file in and receive their food.

Time passed and the festivities went on as usual, but after some time a ruckus arose from outside the grand hall. Soon after all hell broke loose, literally. Human sized combatants rushed into the hall and began their assault, and soon from them Minotaur and Ratzen were summoned from their hellscape and began to break the pillars holding the mountain top above us. What followed was nothing short of a massacre, Dwarven blood ran deep in that hall and we all could do little to stop most of it. RFC Ranna engaged one of the Minotaur, desperately keeping it from bringing the hall down. There were many other childre present and soon it seemed clear that a great deal of the clans inhabitants would be killed along with a great deal of our team. This plan was thwarted luckily by Ranger Manfried who through a great showing of arcane prowess restored the hall to its structurally sound state. The combatants fled sometime during the supposed collapsing and during their retreat is when i received the said arrow to my shoulder. Damb thing still hurts.

Once what we assumed to be the worst concluded, it was later discovered that Steelwing was taken during the chaos by a familiar enemy, Novri I believe. From what I understand he is a Kalinesh wing hunter, which makes since he would take the Aevekar. Later I did find out that this particular wing hunter and Ranger Steelwing have history.

This whole debacle falls solely on the Rangers collective shoulders’. We are lucky that the grand hall didn’t crush half of the dwarves in this clan, because if it had i doubt those of us who didn’t die in the collapse wouldn’t be writing anything. Though the consequence of this attack is apparent since the Dwarves march off to war. I fear what this means. This whole attack makes no sense, no bad grudge would prompt an all out attack on a Dwarven clan home. There is something else happening but I’m too much pain and too tired to care about that right now. Goodnight.

Respectively,
Ranger Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 120
Blackstone Marriage, Clan Rockbreaker Marches to War

Steelwing,

Festival Moons 1st, 3127

I have never known children to be born of Aevakar and any other race, even among the elves. Yet, we are a isolated race, keeping much to ourselves. If such a miracle is possible, Kenzie, Ingrid, and I are certainly striving. As we sit and await our fates, I look upon them and cannot help but wistfully dream of a day where we might live together in peace.

Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

We were sent to cower in the Stahlheim’s Trading Outpost under the protection and hospitality of the ranking Merchant, an ornery old coot, but a decent soul. I imagine in his youth he was a firebrand, and I have enjoyed many of his fireside stories. Though, I hardly believe his exaggerations, there are no such things as giants. Still, the bed was firm, and just large enough for three…if well stacked.

Thunder Hawk 21st, 3127

Late in the eve, or early morning, honestly I was paying more attention to the captivating beauties talking quietly in the library than when Blackstone and the irascible Stahlheim smith, staggered back in. Turns out the negotiations went well enough. The wedding was still on. No one was to be put to death, and we had the next few weeks off until the actual nuptial. Having no actual orders, and no official duties, Corporal Sssahliissstah completely broke character and afforded the team time off!

The Explorer and the new Alchemist actually received an invitation to reside with the Acting ClanChief. For a Builder, the red devil is certainly mastering the art of politics. It seems to suit his temperament.

Wasting NO time, I invited the fierce and divine goddesses to join me at the local Inn. Not that I disliked the old beard’s hospitality, but there was very little privacy in the cramped guest quarters in the dwarf’s shop. As we can get loud expressing our passion for each other, I preferred more intimate accommodations. Neither Kenzie or Ingrid objected, so early on the 21st, we headed a few blocks over to the MineShaft Tavern and Inn.

That deep in the ClanHome we were the only non-dwarves staying in the Inn. Well, aside from Sergeant Muriel who was not actually staying in the inn, though she spent every day there drinking. Suffice to say, we had the Inn mostly to ourselves. If the dwarf proprietors minded our, um, exultation, they said nothing. Though, I have not heard the anyone shouting the Ascended’s names so loud since the last time I visited a charismatic druid’s sanctification ritual. Though, I’ve NEVER heard “OH LANDRA” shouted with such pure passion, enthusiastic ecstasy or sheer volume. Life indeed.

As a gentleman never kisses and tells, I will summarize our vacation by saying we worked vigorously on team bonding exercises. Repeatedly, and vigorously. Sometimes three times a day. I feel confident in stating that we are more intimately…involved than ever.

Thunder Hawk 30th, 3127

Our morning, er, calisthenics were interrupted by a messenger from the Stahlheim delegation with a wedding invitation. To be honest I was surprised. Our history with the Rockbreaker dwarves was sad at best. We manipulated them into a surface war which cost the lives of most of their dwarves, their loremasters, hundreds of warriors, and their ClanChief. Worse, rather than allowing the old dwarf to die, we petrified him between life and death, mucking up the Clan’s transition of power system. During the resulting political crises, we managed to mortally offend the now active Chief, then publicly opposed his election, only to LOSE said election. After which, our legal representative had the unmitigated gall to persist in demanding the pending wedding.

And, we were STILL invited!? Honestly, I expected banishment, which we WHOLLY deserve, or possibly arrest, which we probably deserve. And, were it not for Ingrid and Kenzie, I might actually submit to such justice. After all, we have been just awful to these dwarves who have done nothing but protect, house, and help us. We are pitiful friends and allies. I understand why the Black Mountain Clans avoid us with such vehemence.

Sad.

But, invited we were. And, with the marriage, our mission would be complete, despite our best efforts. I’m being too harsh. Corporal Sssahliissstah was not expecting to be in charge. Had Sergeant Grendel not gotten himself killed in the most glorious manner, our whole situation might be different. Then again, maybe not. Who really knows. The situations have been impossible from the outset and everyone is doing the best they can given the circumstances.

Not to say that means anything. We are still swyved.

Looking back, we probably should have spent the next few days relaxing, resting up for the wedding. We did not. If anything, knowing our vacation was coming to an end, Kenzi, Ingrid, and I found ever more…creative…means to enjoy each other’s company.

Not that I complain. Far from it…

Thunder Hawk 33rd, 3127

The fateful day arrived. Before dawn, we arrived out the Stahlheim Merchant to find the team, minus Blackstone, feverishly preparing for the days festivities. Though the invitation as entirely voluntary, the entire time elected to attend. For varied reasons, I am sure. My reasons for attending waffled between morbid curiosity and the free ale.

All suited in their finest dress uniforms, minus arms or armor. That was one of the conditions of our attendance. Kenzie and Ingrid looked ravishing. I restrained myself from suggesting we engage in more…team building. But, I knew time was of the essence, so, unsatiated, we headed to the grand temple to Dranak for the ceremony. I might note here, Blackstone, the Explorer, and the new Alchemist were not among our party. They all seemed to have found some acceptance among the dwarves and were afforded greater courtesy.

Perhaps I should take a moment to discuss what the dwarves mean by a wedding. As I understand, dwarves are creatures of steady, unchanging plodding. They are not fast, but tireless. They are not quick to anger, but once roused rage for decades. Everything with these diminutive folk is slow and methodical. Their weddings are no different.

We arrived at the Grande Temple at about 10 AM, though I was forced to rely on their infernal mechanical devices as I had not seen the sun in weeks. Well, technically, I had barely been outside my room at the Inn in weeks, but I digress.

It took two hours for all of the invited dignitaries to file solemnly into the Temple. The actual service began some time around 1 PM and droned on for six more hours. I should note here that, as were were hardly favored guests, we were tucked in the far back corner of the chamber, standing room only. The warm press of bodies, the sonorous droning, and the, er, spirited ravishing of the past weeks finally caught up with my ladies.

Somewhere around hour three, both Ingrid and Kenzie were wrapped snugly in my downy wings, snoring adorably. If looks could kill, Corporal Sssahliissstah would have laid me cold with her withering glare. Though, I saw little reason to rouse them. They needed their sleep. We all played very hard.

So, with my loves wrapped in my embrace, I watched the eternal ceremony, the solemn singing, the dour decrees, the ponderous pronouncements… Actually, dwarven ceremonies remind of some of the more depressing funerals I have attended. EVENTUALLY, the bride was presented, and strode down the long corridor to her new groom. I was surprised at her beauty.

Beautiful is hardly the first attribute one ascribes to dwarves. Stout, surely, but beautiful? Still, Ruby lived up to her name. She fairly shone in her gem-set gown. Nothing gaudy, just the purest display of craftsmanship. Truly a Chieften’s first daughter. Way to go Blackstone. At least he has taste.

I did note that she was given away by her uncle, not her brother. The younger Rockbreaker was demoted to a lesser seat somewhere on the second row. A horrible slight I am certain, but he seemed to accept his fate with the fable stoicism of the dwarves.

Around 8pm the ACTUAL wedding began. It only last about an hour. Then, there was an exchange. Rings, I suppose, though we were so far away, and at such a ridiculous angle, they might have exchanged fresh trout as far as we could see. There was a final intonation, a kiss, and then a pronouncement. Blackstone, sharp in his formal robes, Ruby, radiant in her cream and blue gown, paraded past, followed by the stand in druid and the acting Chief. Keep in mind we ended up getting the former High Druid killed. So, they had to import a substitute from a nearby clanhom.

Following the couple was the procession of honored guests, then the less honored guests, then the guests, then those who were allowed because it might cause a political kerfuffle if they were excluded. We filed out after that last group. I suppose we might be listed as frenemies? Regardless, the recession, procession in reverse, took another hour and a half. It was actually a bit before midnight when our little troop filed into the cavernous grande hall which had been converted into a feasting hall.

Again, I was shocked we were invited. The uninvited throng the streets, cheering and celebrating the union. Well, there were some cheers, more shouts…even a few insults. And one rotten mushroom.

Dwarves eat a lot of mushrooms.

It would be charitable to say that the Clanhome community was divided about the wedding, with the smaller portion in support. Still, our hosts provided ample security, so there was no violence.

We entered the hall and were directed to the right back corner. From my seat, I couldn’t actually see the head table. We were placed right behind a massive stone column. The head table was already through with their meal by the time we sat. And, while it took another half hour or more get meat, the ale flowed freely, so soon, none of us particularly cared. We sat, talked, drank, and tried to enjoy ourselves.

Sometime during the 13th hour, not long after we finally ate, our repast was interrupted by a strange rumbling from somewhere deep in the Clanhome. It sounded almost like thunder…or an earthquake. For a moment, I feared a mine collapse. Others heard the same and you could feel revelry turn to unrest as the dwarves quieted to better hear. Guards began to mill.

Eventually, the acting Clan Chief rose, addressed the assembled and asked that we continue our celebrations while he and his dwarves go to investigate the disturbance. The acting Chief and his nephew departed along with many warriors from the Home. Blackstone remained with his bride. Mansfried, the big Olaran recruit, went off to speak with the guards at the door. Corporal Sssahliissstah grew disquiet. Everyone tensed for the blow.

When it came, we were still unprepared. Cloaked figures emerged from the crowds, removed blasts potions from beneath cloaks, and hurled them into the revelers. At the same instant, minotaurs appeared in the center of the hall and attacked the columns supporting the roof with massive bloodsteel mauls. Flame had arrived.

I was just standing when I felt a presence behind me. In the confusion, I was caught completely off-guard. One moment I was watching Alpha Team spring into action, the next, I was out in the ClanHome in a pool of light from braziers and lamps with flames rippling around me.

Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri

I could feel his malice, like a hot brand, burning into me. There was little I could do. Ambushed, unarmed, unarmored, and alone. In a straight fight, Novri is at worst my equal. But, teleported from a dinner party, already into my cups, and without so much as a fork to defend myself…my life was over.

Invisible bands of power pinned my wings, arms, and legs as I was lifted up and hoisted over the side of one of the high balconies. Below me, the entire ClanHome stretched out, lit and decorated for the nuptial celebration. It was beautiful in a sad way. Looking into Novri’s rage twisted grimace, I knew that our decades long dance might well be at an end. He gave no speech, there was no exchange of witticisms.

No, with a twisted smile, he raised his hand and blasted me back with a gout of flame. The hear seared through my clothes, blackening skin and feathers. Oh what a twist of irony. By new-grown feathers too young to fly. I was to lose my final battle with Novri by being hurled to my death on the stone streets below. For an Aevakar, there could be more more humiliating end.

Then I heard her voice. The rage. The pain. The love. The POWER.

I felt Kenzie’s anguish like a physical blow. Behind it, surging force of will. Novri felt it too.

As I looked on in horror, everything slowed. Kenzie’s eyes shining with green light, her fists clenched. Novri’s sick smile, as he turned to kill a woman I loved. And me…falling slowly backwards to my death.

It was of the worst moments of my life. I screamed for her to run…and then the balcony rose up and blocked then from view, and I fell.

I know it was but moments, but it felt as if an eternity passed in those seconds. My first flight. My sister’s smile. The Kal raids, and joining the war. Watching Novri tear her wings off as she screamed in agony. Cutting down Novri’s men, their hot blood on my hands. First seeing Kenzie and Ingrid. Their smiles and laughter.

Everything flooded, good memories, nightmares in a stream of ever faster images. My last image was that of Kenzie and Ingrid our last night in the Inn. I clutched onto that memory like a drowning man would a piece of flotsam, holding it in my heart as the ground rushed to meet me…

And then, I felt claws digging hard into my shoulders. Aetos, my guardian Eagle. I had not seen him in weeks since diving underground. Where had he come from? How did he arrive?!

Struggling against my weight, he fought for altitude. I added my own frantic flaps to his, slowing my fall, then…ever so slowly rising. My only though, to reach Kenzie in time. For tortorous, agonzing seconds, we stuggled to rise, until, we reached the balcony rail and crested the rise.

Novri stood, hand outstretched, roasting Kenzie in flames. But, his power was for naught. She stood defiantly, her body radiating power.

I was…overawed. Her spirit, her power…her beauty. In that moment, I glimpsed her truest self. Undaunted, and fearless. I fell in love all over again.

Novri felt me hovering behind. He turned his head just as I fully cleared the railing. His look of surprise and twisted rage gratified me. Aetos released his grip and I dropped to the deck, shouting, “Ca-CAW! Motherfucker!” as I landed. Kenzie summoned her own power.

We were both unarmed, wounded, and smoldering, facing off against the nastiest Winghunter I have ever known. And he ran…

Novri disappeared with a sulfurous pop, leaving Kenzie and I staring at each other. Overwhelmed by emotion, I rushed her and embraced her. She saved me.

Only then did I notice the roof of the Grande Hall sagging, and the strange stone growths jutting out at odd angles. Both crying, from the smoke, Kenzie led me back inside to a scene of utter insanity.

The hall was…shattered. Stone columns lay scattered like broken toys. Bodies, dwarf and human, littered the stone floor in pools of crimson. The hall was almost empty. Strangely, in place of the columns were rough formed stone pillars, resembling half melted candles. Everywhere signs of battle. The Rangers stood, most just yanking arrows. Across the hall, Blackstone stood with his bride Ruby. Nearby the Alchemist sampled drinks as the head table, and the Explorer herded finely dressed dwarves around the room.

About this time, the acting Clan Chief arrived, with his nephew and surveyed the destruction. It was only a matter of time before he discovered the cause of the attack. Once the Rockbreakers learn that this new injury was inflicted due to Novri’s personal vendetta against me, and the team, our lives would be short indeed. Without much else, the acting Chief ordered the Rangers back to the Stahlheim Merchant to remain sequestered until he and his dwarves could assess the situation.

We all filed back in relative silence. Ingrid seemed a bit miffed with Kenzie, over what I’m not sure. One back, Corporal Sssahliissstah contacted Colonel Anderson in Echer’Naught via our recently added Farspeaker. Our orders, comply with all dwarven requests, up and until the lives of Alpha Team are threatened. Then, we are ordered to retreat without harming any of the Rockbreakers. The Rangers still hope the situation can be salvaged. Foolishly optimistic.

Festival Moons 1st, 3127

Early in the morning, we were all summoned to the main area to speak with the acting Chief. He looked angry and tired. Hardly a good combination. With him, was Ruby. It was only then that I realized Blackstone had spent his wedding night sequestered away from his new bride. Hardly how I would wish to spend my first night.

The uncle addressed us calmly, but the rage was clear. Novri’s attack on his people would not go unanswered. He knew we brought the Kal to his home, and we would be dealt with in time. But he had bigger issues to deal with. To that end, we were required to remain, sequestered, until his Clan finished their business. Then, we would be appropriately dealt with.

For “our safety” we would be confined to the Stahlhiem merchant’s offices. His men would “secure us.” Ruby Blackstone actually was instructed to remain with her new husband. Blackstone was ordered to remain with us Rangers and ensure that we obeyed his orders.

And with that, he left us to our imprisonment. We may not have been in chains, but prisoners we were by any estimation. I hardly blame them.

Only then did we hear the drum and horns of war. Clan Rockbreaker was marching to war. I only hope their rage does not turn on the Rangers. So, we await our fates, and pray this ClanHome does not become our tomb.

If we survive this, I will ask Kenzie and Ingrid to join me in Essania, the Life Bond. I cannot imagine my life without their love, and would gladly follow them into death.

Steelwing.

View
1st Report of Ranger Gilbert Grimm
First Meetings

I have been informed that as a new recruit one of my duties is to record the occurrences myself and my new team have during our various missions. This with the knowledge that they will be public records, i’ll be sure to keep the Rangers reputation in mind.

I was paired with a fellow new recruit to travel through winding roads to our teams current location, deep within the black mountains. He seems to be a competent fellow and a noble to boot, Olaran I believe. During our travels we were informed to act in certain roles, myself as a “merchant” and the noble suprisingly as a noble. I must admit I was excited to find myself with the Dwarves of the Black Mountains, their precious stones and metals are renowned to those who dabble in Jewelry making, myself included. I greatly anticipated making new contacts and procuring new materials for my own tinkering. Those plans fell through before i even arrived to the Rockbreaker Clan Home.

During our trek to meet our new team, I understand the one member who was pivotal in the political schemes said something that completely devastated the Rangers position. I believe, at least from what I was told, someone’s Grandmother’s sexual preferences were called into question. To say the least our warm welcome into the Clan Home was short lived.

Nonetheless while I awaited to meet with the team, I searched to procure some precious stones. After some difficult negotiations I walked away with a small bag of some prize gems, but surely it was made more difficult by the current views i as a Ranger have with the Dwarves of this clan. I worry what awaits me in the Clan Chiefs home.

With this I end my first report. I am about to meet with the Olaran noble and make our way to the high standing Dwarves estate where the rest of the team awaits.

Respectfully,
Ranger Gilbert Grimm

View
Campaign Report 119
Rockbreaker Diplomatic Incident

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim
Gorli Glamrinson Works Smithy, Echer’Naught
Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

Masters,

Dranak preserve me. I had believed that young Master Blackstone was merely an imbecile lacking in tact or intellect. But then, a more sinister notion occurred that he might, in fact, be a Malakaran mastermind carefully constructing this comedy of errors to eliminate the leadership of the Rockbreaker ClanHome and establish himself as the sole Chief.

I know understand that he, and his entire team, are patently insane. The most capable and lucid member of the team is their ranking Ranger, the Ass. I simply lack the eloquence to articulate exactly how beyond any reasonable salvage our mission has become. My mission was to simply guide my young charge to the altar and, perhaps, secure some semblance of Diplomatic contact with the Rockbreakers and Stahlheim. We will be lucky to survive.

If some mishap should befall me, please tell my wife I am sorry. She was correct. Working with the Rangers is lunacy.

Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

We quit the field and ventured into the Black Mountains. I must admit to being quite impressed by the expertise of the Black Mountain dwarves. Their roads are ancient, deep, but well maintained. The sheer magnitude of their infrastructure dwarfs, if you will forgive the term, that of our own Kingdom. More impressive that these independent minded Clans managed to work together to keep even the more remote sections of roads passable.

The trek was of some 240 miles which our company traveled in some 12 days. Considering we passed through mountains, and were forced to accommodate an Ogress and a Dregordian, I was well impressed with our progress.

Thunder Hawk 4th, 3127

Toward sunset, we arrived at the mouth of a large natural cave. Water cascaded out of the mouth, down a glittering waterfall into a pool far below. Our road took us into the cave where we were met by a large assemblage of local dwarves.

Behind them, yawned a massive entrance, guarded by twin iron doors, twenty feet tall by ten wide each. Unsurprisingly, it opened at a touch. As we approached, an honor guard met us outside the Clanhome and escorted the body of Clan Chief Rockbreaker through their halls. I must admit a bit of marvel at the Rockbreakers holdfast.

From the front gate, to the deep mine entrances in the mountains, the Clanhome is about 3 miles long following an underground river which pools just inside the main entrance. The Clanhome follows the natural contours of the caves, but have been widened and expanded. 500 (200 yards) feet tall and 500 wide. The cavern is divided into several districts. From the main entrance back, they have carved from the living rock markets (specializing in precious stones an metal), a large housing community with inns and alehouses, vast smithies (though less impressive than our own), Grand Halls if the seven great families, and finally, the Keep, Rockbreakers last bastion and seat of the Clan’s power. Smaller mine entrances appea in nearly every district. Between the markets and the housing, and the smithies and grand halls are two enormous dolines where large sections of the cave roof collapse letting in sunlight and water. The ever industrious dwarves cleared the rubble and converted these sections into farms and gardens.

Admittedly, the Rockbreaker Clan better blends the natural living mountain with their own works than nearly any dwarves I have met; Stahlheim included.

With this setting sun burning orange over the mountains, we followed the solemn progression through the entire Clan Home with throngs of mourners lining the route. Research prior to this venture indicated the Clanhome was host to about 3000 dwarves from a dozen or so family groups. To save the alliance, and protect the Rangers from their own folly, the Rockbreakers sent 300 warriors, smiths, druids, and healers into the valley, with 200 solely dedicated to war. Among that number was the Clans foremost Dranak Druid and their Head Loremaster.

The price these dwarves paid for the Ranger’s sins was just less than 10% of their entire community. Along with their leadership in Political, Military, Knowledge, and Spiritual matters. A few weeks with the Rangers cost these people more than they have lost in the last century. And yet, as we approached the final resting place, the hall of Chiefs were were met with honor and welcome. My own Clan would have been far less hospitable given the circumstances. Which makes what transpired next all the more tragic.

Our solemn march was in silence, save for a lone drum. Upon arriving at the Great Hall of Chiefs, the petrified Chief was laid in state on a rock plinth beneath a single skylight. The vast hall was evacuated, and only his daughter, Ruby, was allowed to remain. Outside, we were greeted by the acting Chief, the Brother of the fallen Chief, Rourk Rockbreaker, and the Speaker of the Home. He struck me as a knowledgeable and congenial dwarf, despite being a bit obsequious. Also in attendance was the Chief’s son, Slate Rockbreaker, destined to assume his father’s mantel upon his death. The lad was garbed as a miner, confident and influential, but with none of his Uncles gravitas. Moreover, all accounts suggests the boy has little desire to rule. Behind these were the heads of the seven most influential clans and family groups, along with representatives of the mines and leading merchants. A fitting tribute for the passing of a Chief.

However, per Arimar Blackstone the Clan Chief was not dead, so the entire line of succession was now in question.

Dranak preserve us.

After a short silent ceremony of posting guards, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker invited the Ranger team to be guests at his manor house. All our comforts were provided. The rooms were stately, access to hot running water, and servants to prepare our clothes. We were treated with every courtesy befitting ambassadors of foreign lands. We were informed that there would be a week (6 days) of mourning at the loss of the Chief. The Speaker was kept busy these days with official duties.

Thunder Hawk 10th, 3127

Once the regilious and cultural observances were complete, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker graciously invited our entire team, ogre and all, to a state dinner with visiting dignitaries from the clan’s trading partners in the Malakar Dominion and the Eternal Desert.

After taking a moment to make ourselves presentable, we joined the Speaker at his table, young Blackstone being offered a position of honor at the Speaker’s right hand, and I beside him. After all of our trials, I hoped that our true mission might finally move forward apace. If the Rangers were capable of going more than an evening without embroiling us in another war. Admittedly, I feared more from the ogress or the dregordian. It never occurred to me that our every effort would be undone by the boy himself.

As our host showered us with honor and courtesy, young Blackstone attempted to inquire about the noble lineage of the Rockbreaker Clan, a reasonable and wise attempt to both ingratiate himself while learning more of his new family. That is, if he had not entirely forgotten our, arguably brief, linguistic lessons. Rather than inquire, he not so subtly managed to, at once, insult the Speakers lineage, call into question his courage and manhood, with a very colorful and specific reference to the Speakers own grandmother and her particular oral fixations. It was as elegant as it was biting, subtle as it was offensive. I have heard professional politicians eviscerate their most ardent opponents with less exacting precision and derision. All through an improper turn of phrase.

I was both horrified and grudgingly impressed. Were the insult intentional, one could have at least respected Blackstones temerity. As it was, not only was he insulting, but bumbling as well. The first might be accepted if done well, the latter inexcusable. I did my best to cover for the boy, and remove him from any further potential disaster, but the damage was done. Even the esteemed guests from the east and west heard the exchange irreparably damaging our reputation in the face of not just our host, but those independent kingdoms as well.

In short, Blackstone would have done less damage had he simply attempt to assassinate the Speaker. As it was, we returned to our chambers in shame, waiting for our fates. I was left doubly troubled as I now had not only my own mission in jeopardy, but I could only guess as the ham-fisted farce of which the Rangers would make of this situation. In this, they did not disappoint.

Back in our chambers, I posed to the boy that our position was now untenable and that he must now make an alliance if this marriage and any hope to salvage our mission was to succeed. We needed allies. In that, he must choose to throw his support behind either the son or the uncle. Slate Rockbreaker is the rightful heir, but with his father not dead, there is legal justification for the Speaker to remain as defacto leader until all efforts to revive the Chief are exhausted. Considering his options, the boy chose to support the son and legitimate heir. In this choice, there appeared no good option, so I began discreet inquiries.

Thunder Hawk 11th, 3127

While I counseled the boy, the Rangers elected to host their own moot in a nearby alehouse. Apparently the Rangers wisely dispatched a Farspeaker and reinforcements to support the Rangers of Alpha Team. Unfortunately, those reinforcements were less effective than the team itself. So, in all, they gained the ability to more easily report their failures, but little more.

As he was also a Ranger, I joined Blackstone at the meeting were we encountered the aevakar back from his deathbed, with his two human lovers, and three NEW Rangers to add to my nightmare. The Farspeaker, a capable young women with the only authority to report on events, not to actually improve on them. There were a pair of humans, one large and one scrawny. The larger put on airs so I assume he is something important in his homeland, but here, he was useless. In that, he fit in well with his new companions. At least the bird did little but drink. Though, he was the first to stumble upon the idea that Blackstone was less a bumbling fool he appeared and potentially a political mastermind bringing about the destabilization of the Rockbreaker Clanhome for his eventual takeover.

(Alpha Team is joined by:

Sir Egon Mansfried, Olaran knight

Gilbur Gil Grimm, M’adukar alchemist)

Part of me prayed for the latter. Despite being despicable, at least in that he would be useful. Sadly, it seems that he, along with his team, are simply imbeciles.

While the Rangers plotted their next idiotic moves, I escorted the boy downstairs where Slate Rockbreaker was mourning with the mining clans. We joined the Heir and spent the next days destroying our internal organs and saving some face with the working dwarves of the Clan. Blackstone can drink. If he can do little else, he CAN do that. Which I suppose is something?

Thunder Hawk 12th, 3127

Meanwhile, having no useful ideas to contribute, the Rangers chose discretion, the better part of valor, and dispatched their new recruit to lie to the Speaker claiming some fictitious emergency in Almahrad before rejecting his hospitality, insulting his intelligence, and declaring loudly their unwillingness to support his cause. And with that, the Rangers effectively removed themselves from the situation and any hope of being part of negotiations or alliances.

I was informed later by friends that after this brilliant political retreat, they stood outside the gates of the manor and discussed possible plans. Having exhausted the limits of their giant intellects, they chose to simply leave the Clanome and head toward the nearest Ranger outpost. Which is Almahrad. This would be a trek of some 315 miles through independant dwarven clanhomes. Never mind the logistical nightmare of such a trek without ample preparations, there was the small issue that without the political protection of the Rockbreaker Clan they might be seen as an invading force and slaughtered out of hand by any of the dozens of clans along the proposed route.

To this, one, or more, rightly pointed out the absurdity of such a plan. Instead, they proposed merely leaving the Clanhome and camping somewhere along the road, either in the mouth of the cave entrance, or somewhere among the blistery peaks of the mountains. For what, and until when was not really discussed.

Never mind the absurd image of the small team huddled around a campfire on some lonely bluff in a transparent attempt to appear to have left the Clanhome, this entire exchange occurred within earshot of the manor and the dwarves on guard. While arguably the Ranger’s own mission was simply escorting Blackstone to the wedding, a mission in which they succeeded despite their own best efforts, it would be reasonably assumed that anyone dispatched on an important diplomatic affair would have the barest modicum of tact and political acumen. Such, clearly, is not the case.

At any rate, by all reports one or more simply started walking south and the rest tagged along with nothing better to do. I would weep had I the energy left. But, at least, the Rangers were rapidly marching into irrelevance and might even stumble into complete absence. Which, of course, did not happen. But, I get ahead of myself.

It seems that during their flight one, or more, noted that they were missing, in addition to any semblance of a plan or leadership, their mounts. Which, would not normally be such an issue, mounts being replaceable, but in THIS particular instance, their lead mount, one Muriel, was, in fact, the ranking member of the team, and the most capable. Not a particularly laudable distinction, but the truth nevertheless.

Again, the RANKING member of Echer’Naught’s Elite Ranger team is an Ass. Not, just an Ass but a mule as well. I’m sure there is some noted distinction between mules, asses, and donkeys, but such are of little consequence here. Muriel, a mule, is a full Sergeant in the Ranger corps with years more experience than any member of the team. Why is this important? Because, while the actual team was flailing aimlessly toward self destruction the MULE had, in no particular order, secured lodging, gained a fair understanding of the surrounding terrain, and NOT insulted their host and tried to incite a civil war. Again, I am coming to that.

So, as they began their idiotic trek to nowhere, one of the Rangers thought to recover their supplies and mounts. Of consideration, Alpha Team is a “cavalry unit,” and it was ONLY at this juncture that anyone gave thought to their mounts, those beasts which define the unit for what it pretends to be.

And so they found Muriel, along with ALL their mounts, placidly dining, and in some cases drinking, at a nearby alehouse where, apparently, the MOUNTS had arranged lodging, and amply provided for their own creature comforts while simultaneously making inroads with the local people.

A MULE, A GOAT, and two HORSES managed to achieve more political capital than the Alpha Team…

So, the Rangers decided, with nothing better to do, to stay with the animals. I THINK they found rooms in the inn and not in the actual stables, but in truth I would hardly be surprised. And now with the Sergeant in command, the Rangers would manage not to make complete asses of themselves…for a few days.

Thunder Hawk 13th, 3127

We continued drinking with Slate Rockbreaker, resuming our mourning with each new shift that came out of the mines.

Thunder Hawk 14th, 3127

We drank for two days, until mid morn on the 14th, the final shift staggered home to their wives. Visibly tired, but still strong, Slate Rockbreaker invited us to speak with him later. He would send someone to fetch us when he had rested.

With the Heir gone, and our only lodging lost to us, I sent the boy to the last contact I had remaining in the city, my distant cousin. We were not actually related, but his family were old family friends of my own. It was one of the reasons I was selected for this mission as I already had a contact in the Clanhome. I sent the boy to stay in the relative safety of my cousin’s trading outpost while I found a quiet corner to write missives to Stahlheim.

I knew a Clan Assembly was in the offing and the Heir would likely lose. When that happened, I needed authority and certain concessions if I were to salvage anything from the unmitigated disaster of this venture. I also penned a scathing indictment of the Rangers and, should I survive, I will personally speak to the King about our “alliance” with the Corps and suggest strongly we reconsider such ties.

Then, I went and slept.

Eventually, I woke and Blackstone reported that he had been followed from the tavern. I was unsurprised. It would have been odd had he NOT been followed. I am a bit surprised he was not assassinated. And, if I am honest, disappointed. It would make my job easier.

Thunder Hawk 16th, 3127

Two days later, we received a summons from the heir, Slate Rockbreaker. Taking our “offering” from its strongbox, I joined the young Blackstone as we were escorted into the mines by two miners. We were followed, but by which faction I cannot say. Hours later, deep in the mines we were granted an audience with Slate in a foreman’s outpost deep in the mines. There, joined only by a few miners as guards, Arimar Blackstone pledged his support for the Heir, Slate Blackstone, and pledged Stahlheim’s support as well. I then presented our gift, a 30 lb ingot of the purest WhiteSilver. A king’s ransom. That, more than our pledge, impressed Slate.

He accepted our support and bid us be safe until the Assembly of Clans. The young heir event dispatched his men to guard us. Little good it would do if the Speaker chose to end our lives, I imagined. But, we graciously accepted and thanked him for his consideration. Young Blackstone managed to stumble through the meeting without damaging our cause any further. Dranak be blessed.

We returned, followed again, and resigned to wait. Young Blackstone had taken time to continue his education about the Clan, and continued to do so. In this, I saw the potential of a leader to come. Perhaps tempered by a few decades of hardship?

Thunder Hawk 18th, 3127

The day of the Assembly dawned. Because of their theoretical political status, the Rangers were summoned from their alecups by Slate’s men and arrived at the Grand Hall. Young Blackstone and I joined with Slate and his supporters on the floor of the Assembly. Eventually, all the clans and families gathered, along with representatives from trading partners and diplomats from as far as Almahrad. The Speaker took his place, and opened the Assembly.

Slate Rockbreaker spoke first, but his oratory skills are better suited to the alehouse, or barking orders in the mines. Then, young Blackstone stepped and spoke well. His words were true, and delivered with confidence, but the Speaker well countered his argument. Then, to the shock of all, the towering Ogress, Ranna, took the floor as a representative of the Rangers and called upon the sacrifice of her mate, Grendel, but the words were like gravel and her translator, Kenzie, struggled with the dialect. Much as Blackstone had on his first meeting. Then again, Kenzie managed not to incite a riot, so, she did well enough. Following this, the Builder stepped onto the floor and orated an impassioned speech against isolation, veritably promising the dwarves the gift of Builder knowledge if they would join in the surface wars.

Many looked upon with greed, thinking of the power such knowledge would bring. But, as the Builder sided with neither the Heir or the Speaker, his speech, however grand, did little to resolve the current crisis. Which seems to be a trend with this particular representative of his race.

Finally, young Blackstone spoke again, and again articulated well, having learned from past mistakes. Still, it was not enough. When the floor was closed, the Clan Chiefs deliberated for a short hours before voting on the acting Chief. Unsurprisingly, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker won handily, 6 to 1. At least one of the clans supported our cause. That is one more than I expected.

The true shock of the day was when Ruby Rockbreaker, still in her mourning veil, descended onto the floor to stand beside her brother and betrothed. Though we lost the vote, the marriage, it seemed, was on. And so, our mission here is salvaged, in some part, through no fault of our own. After he public declaration, Ruby returned to the Hall of Chiefs to continue her vigil.

I collected the Rangers and returned them to my cousin’s establishment. The Clanhome was no longer safe, and considering their past behavior, I wanted to keep them away from anyone important to limit the further damage they might do on what is now the most tenuous of threads.

I retired to strategize and sleep. It has been an exhausting month. The boy retired to his bed.

Thunder Hawk 19th, 3127

I was wakened in the morning by a curious Blackstone. He purported to have had a dream about the Clan Chief. So, we went, after now many weeks, to finally pay our respects. When we arrived, I feared the Speaker’s guards would turn us away, but it seemed he was feeling magnanimous. I waited near the entrance while the young Blackstone joined his betrothed by the body of the Clan Chief. There he knelt in prayer to Dranak for hours, three or four.

After that, he returned. changed. I know not what he saw, or experienced. but I fear that young Blackstone’s mind has finally snapped. At least in his newfound insanity, he has achieved a semblance of wisdom.

Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

The evening of the 20th, we were summoned before the new acting Clan Chief. I foresee the wedding to continue, though I fear we will be forced to make concessions if we hope to achieve anything further. When we arrived, we found Slate Rockbreaker also waiting in the antechamber of his father’s office. The old dwarf had wasted no time moving in.

I pen this as we are being summoned. On my honor, I will do my utmost to salvage what I can from this unmitigated disaster. It might be prudent, however, to apply what pressure may be brought to bear upon the Ranger command to recall the Rangers stationed as our escort before we lose any hope of success.

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim

View
Campaign Report 118
Fall of Sergeant Grendel, Silver Paladin

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim
Gorli Glamrinson Works Smithy, Echer’Naught
Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

Masters,

I have traveled with these Rangers for some weeks now, since our departure from Echer’Naught. My assignment was as stone, construct Arimar Blackstone’s marriage band to Ruby Rockbreaker, and represent the interests of the Kingdom of Stahlheim during negotiations. Despite such, I have been swept into battle and adventure as a pebbled caught in a rockslide.

RFC Blackstone himself is solid enough, but he struggles to balance his duties to the Rangers, and to his Clan. Someday, he must choose. That day may be sooner than he expects.

Sergeant Grendel was a dedicated leader. Perhaps his concern for his men surpassed his common sense, but that is the bedrock of a hero? His men mourn him and that may be all one needs to know. Sadly, no one will admit that this bloodshed is the fault of he and his kin. Dwarves avoid the surface for such reasons. Once again we are drawn into a war that is not our own. Many in the Halls shout that we should quit the surface and leave such matters to the men, elves, and orcs. It is not business of ours. Seeing the loss of life over such triviality, my voice will join the same chorus. We have no cause to be involved.

Corporal Sssahliissstah is a dregordian at war with herself. However, she is now in command. If she can control her passions, she might a leader make.

The Explorer is a Builder. He is the first of his kind I have met personally, but I know of his kind. Though I would hesitate to rely to heavily one of his ilk, this particular Builder appears to have committed to the cause of the Rangers. I suppose time will tell how wise the Rangers were to install him within one of their premier teams.

RFCs Ingrid and McKenzie. It is difficult not to see them as a unit They appear to love the same man. Both have strong ties to life. Despite widely different personalities and appearances, they strike me as more sisters…wives? I am ignorant of such human customs.

RFC Ranna has been struck a devastating blow. Despite little outward expressions, she appears to have cared deeply for Grendel and his loss has…robbed her. Again, the goblinesh kin are a mystery to me, but I can see an almost dwarven drive for revenge. She should be mindful. When beginning the march of revenge, build two tombs. If she can move beyond her loss, who knows where her journey will take her?

RFC Steelwing is a fool, but a noble one. If he continues to show little caution, he will soon find himself in a shallow grave or worse. But, one must admire his loyalty, I suppose.

Eternal Sun, 24th 3127
With dawn approaching, Clan Chief Rockbreaker signaled the army to withdraw. His rearguard held the line against the growing horde of troglanesh in the valley. As dawn’s light filled the natural bowl of earth, the Rockbreaker druids unleashed the power of earth in a massive quake which rumbled across the ground, plowing the Blood Witches brood under. As they died, the Rockbreaker clan withdrew from the field in good order.

These dwarves are clearly not warriors. They are miners, stone and gemsmiths. But, when the war horn sounded, they answered the call. Stahlheim will grow stronger to count such stalwart dwarfkin as allies. Young Blackstone has done well, if he lives to marry.

We marched from 7 in the morning until 9PM, fourteen hours of hard much into the mountains. Not a dwarf lagged. Those too wounded to keep up, fell out, yet trudged behind, never once complaining. These Black Mountain dwarves are truly the stock of earth and stone.

We reached the prepared defenses around 9pm. For such a short time, the Rockbreakers performed well. Their stonesinger sang three rings of thick, squat stone walls to the back of a natural canyon. The natural walls were high, leaving the only way in or out through the narrow mouth to the east. A perfect trap. Also, a perfect tomb. Even our small force of a two or three hundred could hold out for a few days, but once the horde broke through…none would survive.

Without pausing himself, Clan Chief Rockbreaker sent his wounded to the hospital, and ordered his men to fall out and rest. As the last of our stragglers passed through a single hole in the wall, a young stonesinger sang it sealed. I could not help a chill as the image reminded me of the last sight a corpse must see as the mausoleum door rolls closed.

Shaking off such dark thoughts, I joined the Clan Chief and young Blackstone in the command tent. It took Blackstone a few hours to understand that the elder dwarf was grooming him with what little time he had remaining. I also noted the Clanguard stood closer to Blackstone. Clearly, Chief Rockbreaker had not illusions about surviving this battle. Despite the fact that the Blood Witch was not his enemy. Despite the fact that his would-be son in law brought this death upon his people. Despite all, the Clan Chief acted in every way to protect the alliance between Stahlheim and the Rockbreakers.

A true Chief.

The other Rangers rested, or worked as was their wont. Out in the valley, the lead elements of the enemy army nipped at our heals. By full dark, there were already hundreds, or perhaps a thousands bellowing, hooting, and growling corrupted baying for our blood and flesh. The dwarves of Clan Rockbreaker said little. Each dwarf went about his respective task without disquiet. As the final hour approached, a small column of the most wounded and vulnerable were evacuated through a narrow and treacherous pass through the mountain.

I watched in silence as the Rockbreaker Loremaster, Graystone, handed his ironbound tome, and records of the events to a young initiate. Despite the boys brave face, his heart broke as the old mentor laid a heavy hand on his shoulder. Everywhere dwarven warriors embraced their wounded brothers, each knowing the other might not survive. They all marched willingly to their deaths without question into a war not theirs to protect a dwarf they did not know all for the hope of a better tomorrow for their clan.

And not a member of the Grayson’s Gray Rangers appeared to notice. The lovers huddled in the medical tent. The Explorer poured over technical manuscripts. The Ogres slung away to embrace one last time. Only young Blackstone watched as his future kin wrapped themselves in death shrouds and marched to the wall.

It was here, at the witching hour, that I resolved no matter the outcome of this battle, the Rockbreakers would have their alliance. In my final moments before the wave of darkness cast a shadow across out final redoubt, I penned a letter to my masters, and tucked it close to my heart. Should I fall today, let it be known that the Rockbreakers have more stone in their spine than the entire clan of greencloaks.

Under an overcast sky, the enemy surged from their camps and loped across the ground toward out lowest, outer wall. Along the leading edge of the horde, werewolves loped, howling. Behind them, a mass of trogs surged like a wave. Here and there, the sight of massive trolls and golems could be seen. When they struck the outer wall, even the living rock wailed. Without scaling ladders they surged up the walls and poured over the defenses.

For their part, the Rangers acquitted themselves admirably, but it was of little help. The enemy had more than ten times out number, and their troglodytes cut through our ranks, while the trolls smashed through the walls. Within hours the outer wall was taken. Chief Rockbreaker called a retreat to the second line. We lost too many in the retreat. The look on his face confirmed what I knew in my heart. We were merely delaying the inevitable. As stalwart as his men might be, without relief, we were doomed.

Eternal Sun 25th, 3126

The fighting along the second wall was brutal, but dawn mercifully relieved us, and like a black tide, the Blood Witches horde retreated into their holes to escape the cleaning light of the sun. In their wake they left death and destruction. Noble dwarves littered the ground, their life’s blood pouring out into the dirt. It was a waste.

Anger roused in my breast, but looking at the cold, calm eyes of the Clan Chief, I calmed my rage. This was his choice, his battle to lose as he saw fit. I only hope young Blackstone remembers what he sees here.

Without word, the remaining stonesinger walked passed the field of corpses and began the song of stone, mending the gaps in the wall. The druids burned bodies, and provided some solace to the souls of the departed. For my part, I stood by and watched, chiseling every face, every loss into my memory. This sacrifice would not be forgotten.

The Rangers dispersed to sleep, make love, or brood as was their wont. I am too harsh. They fought well, better than most. Were it not for their courage the battle might have been lost. But, were it not for the Rangers, NONE of these dwarves needed to die.

Later in the afternoon, once his dead and wounded had been cared for and the evening battle set, only then did Chief Rockbreaker sleep. I took this opportunity to rest as well. As did young Blackstone. I believe, and sincerely hope, that he begins to understand that duty is the weight of a mountain. Someday, sooner, perhaps, than later, he must stand like the Mountain to protect his own clan.

Battle horns roused us late into the evening. Already the enemy horde gathered in greater numbers than the night before. This would be our last stand. Above me and to the right the Rockbreaker druids prepared a ritual. Along the wall, pikes, crossbows, axe, and hammer took their places. Among their ranks, here and there a green cloak. And then, I saw him. Grendel.

The Ranger Sergeant, Silver Paladin, stood alone beside a young stonesinger. For a moment I wondered at this, but then the Clan Chief just nodded and the two strode forward. The initiate sang an opening large enough for the ogre and the Ranger Sergeant ducked through the wall, before it was sealed behind him. My eyes fell unbidden on RFC Ranna and her eyes stung with unbidden tears. What was this?

Clan Chief Rockbreaker whispered a quiet prayer to Dranak before turning his eyes upon the approaching horde. They charged again, filling the valley. Alone, glowing white silver, Grendel strode into the horde, they parting before him. Not one looked back, their ravenous hunger set upon our small redoubt. Any curiosity I might have had evaporated the moment they reached out lines. Again, they swarmed, but this time, they approached in ranks.

Denier of Death golems belched black/ocre flame at the walls, which crumbled. But, unlike before, they were met by stone and iron as the druids raised massive golems to meet them. Dwarf and trog were ground under foot as the titans battled. Every hour, a golem would wrench through the arcfire power on their backs, and both golems would erupt into black flame, annihilated swaths of both dwarf and trog. It was madness.

The Rangers waded in, their green cloaks soaking in black blood and fire. Ranna fired till her quivers ran dry, then she bludgeoned foes with hand, foot, and stone. The wounded aevakar Steelwing flapped raggedly from battle to battle, laying down fire, though keeping a conspicuous eye on his “girls” who battled shoulder to shoulder on the wall. The Explorer seemed to enjoy himself the most, reveling in the arcfire display.

I, Loremaster Graystone, and RFC Blackstone protected the Clan Chief atop the center wall. Around us hordes of werewolves and trogs raged. We held the line for hours, but the battle was lost. Our formation collapsed quickly. Late in the battle Loremaster Graystone fell to a hobgoblin’s waraxe, though he took the moment of his death to note his death in his tome. Dedicated the last.

Though I did not see the event, I noted the moment when the iron and stone golems collapsed into rubble. Later, we found the shredded corpses of the druids rent tooth and nail by a pack of werewolves who managed to circle our lines. Most of our stonesingers died trying to repair the walls, and the hospital tent was painted in the blood of the wounded and dying, slaughtered along with their healers.

13th Hour

At the height of the 13th hour, something changed in the enemy army. We saw a massive White Silver explosion in the middle of the enemy army. Almost at the same moment, a faint horn was heard at the far end of the valley. Scouts high on the cliffs shouted a warning that Wolfhaven’s army had arrived. And none too soon.

However, just as the good news rippled through the army, a shadow passed over our position. Graystone was dead, as were most of the Clan Chief’s clanguard. The tower beast that was “Gram Gram” appeared at the gates and smashed through the wall like a child’s toy. I was tossed aside like a doll. Both the Clan Chief and Blackstone were crushed under hundreds of pounds of stone. My leg was shattered, but I remained conscious watching the horror of the Blood Troll raise her weapon to finish off the Rockbreaker Clan.

Then, a curious thing occurred. A small, well dressed human-like creature appeared amid the rubble to speak with Gram Gram. I could not hear the conversation, nor would I have understood. But, Gram Gram turned out toward the oncoming reinforcement army, and then turned and strode away, taking her brood with her.

Silence fell over the smoldering ruins that was our bastion. The few dwarves still able to move began digging the Chief out of the rubble. Rangers continued to fight the stragglers, or go off in search of their teammates. Despite the pain, I watched as Blackstone frantically hurled stones aside until uncovering Chief Rockbreaker. The elder dwarf was bleeding out and not long for this life. In desperation, Blackstone tapped into the power of the Mountain and summoned Dranak’s will through the stones.

As we watched in disbelief, the Chief’s body petrified to stone, hardening him into living stone. Neither alive nor dead, Blackstone managed to catch his life force right on the edge of death, and hold him fast. It was a miracle.

Nearby, the Rangers Ingrid and Kenzie wailed over the bleeding mass of blood and feathers that was their lover, Steelwing. Still, the brave aevakar lived, somehow. RFC Ranna stormed out, searching for her lover. Of the Explorer, I saw nothing, but I could hear the occasional report of an arclance, so I presume he was finishing off the wounded trogs. Efficient that one.

A healer came by and repaired my leg, freeing me to venture onto the field of blood and death. Bodies littered the ground for two hundred yards or more. At the far end of the valley, I could see the relief force still battling the fleeing vestiges of the Blood Witch force, but for the most part, the battle was over. Such a cost.

I found the gaggle of figures a hundred yards east of our lines. A glittering Captain Avaron of the White Silver Wolves spoke with the Explorer while Ranna knelt weeping over a body. I did not need to see him to know Grendel had fallen. There was also a large scorch mark nearby that I learned was his twisted brother. We know they fought. We believe Grendel was victorious, but Gram Gram killed them both. One perhaps because he was a failure, the other because he refused her power? All of this death, for this.

Eventually, Blackstone arrived with what remained of the Rockbreaker forces. Out of the original 200 dwarves barely twenty survived. Quickly others assembled.

Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

At dawn on the 26th, as light flooded into the valley, four company’s of the White Silver Wolves under command of Captain Avaron, a company of Stahlheim Dwarves under a Captain Fyrforg, the Rangers under command of Corporal Sssahliissstah, and the Rockbreakers under command of RFC Blackstone, with me as observer stood on the sanctified ground around the body of Sergeant Grendel.

Corporal Sssahliissstah spoke briefly. As did a few others. One of the Wolve’s Silver Paladins laid a silver sword on Grendel’s chest. Then, with permission from Ranna, Stahlheim stonesinger buried Grendel’s body in the living stone, sanctified and purified. It was a funeral fit for a Clan Chief. But that was it.

The morning air was heavy with smoke, and tinged with the stench of burning corrupted when the formations broke. Captain Avaron bid farewell as they turned in their tracks and marched east, hunting the trail of the fleeing Blood Witch army. For our part, we returned to the shattered ruins of our redoubt, gathered our things, and began the long trek into the Black Mountains. Blackstone remained beside Clan Chief Rockbreaker’s army, heading up his honor guard. The Rangers ranged out, protecting the flanks of the small column of dwarves hiking up narrow mountain goat paths deeper into the peaks.

Behind us, the valley, the last few fires burned down to ash. In a few weeks, nothing will remain, but irregular rocky ruins. And, within a decade, those will be overrun by wild flowers. In a century, nothing will remain, but the story of the Great Silver Paladin, whose spirit guards the valley even from beyond death.

To fight alongside a brother, bury him, and then be forced to leave him behind in an unmarked grave is one of the hardest realities of war. For Grendel, at least, his tale will live on in the Lore of the Stahlheim and Rockbreaker Loremasters. Who knows, the Silver Paladins may eventually venture into this place on pilgrimages to gain strength and wisdom from the example of one devout ogres faith and courage? For our part, we must ensure that Grendel’s sacrifice is not in vain.

Blackstone will be married. The Stahlheim and Rockbreaker Clans will form an alliance. And, in the final battles for our home, we will stand together as one. And, those who live, will remember the sacrifices of those who fell to give us the hope of victory.

By mid-day, we passed over a ridge and the valley fell behind. I doubt I will ever trod across the sacred ground again, but the courage and sacrifice I witness will be etched forever in my heart.

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim

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Unwanted Family Reunion
Grendel's Report

I don’t have much time to write but i wish to report what has happened these past few days to team. we were sent on a political mission to escort RFC Blackstone to his betrothed’s clan home in the Black Mountains. the positioning of the location allowed only for a few certain routes that could be taken. the route deemed the safest took team north through Olara and passage through the northern gathers., where we would descend into the black mountains that border my homelands. however if Grendel has learned anything from being in the Ranger’s is that our mission’s are anything but simple.

After some time passing through not so kindly regions, especially to rangers, we arrived at the borders of the gathers. passage through was relatively easy and i informed the team to be cautious with any interactions with the locals. My people are brash and harsh to say the least and outsiders are not looked kindly upon in most cases. Not long ago i held those same feelings towards humans and other races but my time with the rangers has been insightful. along our journey we rested outside one of the guardian gathers, and quickly discovered the region to be on high alert. this is strange and unsettling considering the strength of the gathers surrounding that accursed isle, would be on such guard by an unknown entity or entities.

we heeded their warnings and decided to move through the region as quickly as possible. i felt our force would be able to move relatively quickly and unnoticed through those lands without drawing too much attention. we had been paired with a smaller group of rangers to provide added protection in our mission, led by a Brinchie female, and this added to my hope of safe passage.

true to their duties the added group did do exactly what they were ordered too and informed us of an incoming attack only a few days into our mission, sadly that is where things became much more personal than i had hoped.

a pack of werewolves stampeded over the nearby ridge, and quickly surrounded our group. the team fought hard but their numbers soon took their toll on all of us, however not long after hulking beings crested the ridge and approaching were dark necromantic gollems that quickly took arms against Ranna and Myself. i called for the team to retreat but soon the enemy forces dropped us one by one, and eventually Ranna was stabbed by the mechanical beast and it began to drag her off. however of all the beasts to come over that hill non were as chilling as the sight of “that” troll. It seemed as if i was looking into some dark shadowed mirror as i stared at my fallen brother. i had hoped to never see him again after i left our gather but there he was and i knew he recognized me in the same moment.

i finally managed to best the gollem before me but became swarmed by even more wolves and after a few blows i too went down. before i lost consciousness i did notice that only myself and my beloved were the ones being taken and in that moment i hoped that the team would survive and continue on without us.

i awoke some unknown time later in a large encampment, surrounded by troglinesh, and sitting before me was Wendel my brother. i was naive to never give second though to the blood witch for so much time and as i stared at him and the massive throne of bones he sat next to, and i knew myself and the world were about to pay for our negligence. the throne i knew immediately belonged to our Gram- Gram, who in life was ruthless and mean being but in her fallen state i feared what she had become. my brother informed me of our coming battle as he had to show who was in fact the strongest, an idea i was unsure was his or gram- gram’s idea. the leverage obviously being my beloved who was chained next to me. we were left to our thoughts for the next day, but strangely enough we had the company of a human, which in little time i figured must be a very powerful vampire as the evil wafting from him was immense.

the next day my and wendel’s battle commenced, we traded blows back and forth never truly gaining the upper hand. finally we both gave our all in one final swing and from Ranna has told me it ended in a draw. i lost consciousness and awoke surrounded by my team to my relief and fear as for what they were going to face because of us.

we quickly returned to our mounts and cart and for three days we were chased by the encampment, during which time i learned of Aronzo’s condition and how he was missing, as well as the assistance from the damned kal wing hunters who had been hostage like us.

eventually we entered the borders of the black mountains and were met with a large dwarven force who quicly welcomed us through their shield lines. and that is where myself and the team are now. the dwarven commander tells me that Colonel Wolfhaven has a plan but we must hold the enemy at bay for some time. the terrain gives us a slight advantage and the dwarfs are a group of skilled warriors i am glad to have by our side.
i pray celesia guides us in our coming battle and that the great wolf arrives soon.

Respectfully,
Sergeant Grendel

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Campaign Report 117
Sibling Rivalry

Steelwing,

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

Thank the Ascended for dwarves. Tough bastards. I’ll give them that. And running to rescue Blackstone even before he tied the knot. This marriage treaty must pretty damn important to send two hundred of their best to die against Blood Witches brood.

Still, for all their hard work, we may die yet.

Eternal Sun 19th, 3127

As previously written, we were recovering from our skirmish with the troglanesh ambush. Sergeant Grendel and his lover, RFC Ranna were gone, tragged off by undead builder golems. If that sentence seems like gibberish, then imagine writing it?

I was pretty badly torn up after the werewolf attack, but Ingrid was safe. So, worth it. But, the rest of the team was in only passable shape. And, our Ranger escort flaked on us, and RFC Blackstone defied a direct order to withdraw. So, Alpha Team was all going in, without backup.

It took time, but late in the 13th hour, evening of the 18th or morning of the 19th, we moved out north, following the fairly obvious tracks left by the undead Denier golems and the dragged bodies of our unconscious allies. We left Sergeant Muriel in charge with the other animals, managed by Blackstone’s Stahlheim smith. Who, was taking all of this surprisingly well…

Good news, the big oozing walkers move slowly. Bad news, we were hours behind, and floundering in the dark. And then, it started raining. Which, against a human opponents would have been good. Of course, troglanesh hunt via scent, so…all rain does is hamper us, and make us easier prey.

For hours we slogged through the rain, mud, and slush. Well, THEY did. I fought to stay aloft flying slow enough not to lose my team, and not pass out from the pain. Werewolves hurt. And speaking of wolves, the sneak formally known Aronzo was still dogging our group.

I know that werewolves and vampires are “intelligent” evil, but Aronzo freaked me out a little before going hairy. Now, I cannot understand keeping him around. Of course, if Grendel were here, he’d probably order Aronzo killed on the spot. While I’m normally opposed to the Silver Paladin’s knee jerk reactions, however, right then…

Three, maybe four hours north, our forward scout, the werewolf, stopped the team short. I was just behind. Cresting the ridge, I saw it too, the largest troglanesh horde I have ever heard of. Sitting in a wide field, the trog tent gather was at least a quarter mile across. Maybe…3000 trogs, wolves, vamps, and others.

Corporal Sssahliissstah’s expression was…telling. Not fear…realization.

With any hope of the team infiltrating the warband impossible, we were left with few options. One, we could simply walk away and report the size and location of the horde. Of course, by the time we accomplished said feat, Grendel and Ranna would be dead or converted, and the Guardian Gather of Fylg or Char already under siege.Two, we could charge headlong into the enemy camp. Which would be suicide. Three, put our fate in the hands of the werewolf.

I voted for option A. We chose C. Which, to be fair, is far better than what I expected Corporal Sssahlisssstah.

While the team spread out along the ridge line, I on the far left, Corporal Sssahlissstah trusted the werewolf to enter the camp and recover RFC Ranna’s mask. While we made those arrangements, The Explorer made his way around the right flank to set up a sniper’s nest around to the right. Once we were set, the werewolf, in Aronzo’s skin, loped off toward the distant camp.

In a horrifying way, the camp was impressive, hundreds of torches and campfires burning in the darkness, mist hanging low to the ground, like a blanket. Finally the rain let up, if a little. It was not hard enough to drive us under cover, but misting enough to make life miserable. My soak cloak clung to my skin, and my wings were waterlogged and heavy.

About halfway across the couple hundred meters between our position and the fence line the werewolf stopped short. I couldn’t see what who, or what, he was speaking with, but given the shadows, and his behavior, I assume the camp’s pickets were troglodytes. Invisible little ankle biters.

The werewolf had a brief altercation, then wolfed out and chased them off. If there was any lingering doubt as to how far our former ally had fallen…he is now the Enemy.

Once through the pickets, the werewolf reached the edge of the tents, and disappeared. We waited nearly an hour there, in the misting rain and darkness. Even I could not pick out the Explorer against the backdrop of darkness. Then, there was a commotion at the edge of the camp and a werewolf loped toward our skirmish line, a white mask in his mouth. I wondered that the Trog sentries did not stop the werewolf, then considered they had little to fear. First, anything other than a true Darkness creature could never penetrate their defenses. Second, nothing within a hundred miles could threaten such a horde.

Not even Fylg, less than fifty miles away might stand against the assembled hordes.

The werewolf arrived and dropped “Ben Toma’s Mask” in Sssahlissstah’s clawed hand. She clutched it and her eyes went unfocused, the surest sign of an Adept at work. It was not until her eyes starting glowing blue that I got concerned.

While Corporal Sssahlissstah communed with command, the werewolf approached. Something about his demeanor concerned me, more than the fact that he was, in fact, a werewolf. While recovering the mask, Aronzo encountered Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and some of his winghunters imprisoned by the trogs. The werewolf was forced to free the winghunters in order to escape with the mask. I doubt he had much choice. Novri is a survivor if nothing else. What worried me was why was Novri here anyway? I assume the winghunters are still tracking us. So, maybe they ran into the trog forces while setting up an ambush. But then, why keep them alive? I know very little about this Blood Witch brood, but it seems unlikely they would bother unless Novri had something the trogs wanted? Whatever that might be, it can hardly be good for us.

A problem for another day.

When Sssahlissstah’s eyes fluttered open, a bit dazed, I worried for a heartbeat, but was heartened by the sudden decisiveness in the set of her toothy jaw. She had managed to contact Wolfhaven via the mask. Our orders, provide a distraction to permit the Ogres a chance to escape, but not to commit. Whether the Ogres make their escape, we were to harass the enemy, but withdraw south, then west toward the Black Mountains at our best speed. But how?

It was here that I suggested we use of the arcfire to set off an explosion. Since the werewolf is arcfire trained, he can readily deploy the weapon, though I doubted his ability to leave the camp after setting off the bomb. A win win.

However, all our detonators were with the Builder, so I volunteered to retrieve them. Given permission, I took off, skimming low in the direction of The Explorer. Though I couldn’t easily see him, I knew his habits and, eventually, managed to spot a darker spot against the hill. Coming up behind him, I managed to catch him napping. I might have given him a small heart attack when I clamped my hand over his mouth. At least he didn’t stab or shoot me.

Once he finished grumbling, he handed me a arcfire detonator. I made it back with no issue. Before handing an arcfire detonator to a werewolf, I requested a direct order, which Corporal Sssahlissstah gave without hesitation. Reluctantly, I handed the werewolf the bomb, and off he loped. I returned to my post and watched the fireworks.

Again, our pet werewolf loped back into the camp, but this time, the sentries attempted to stop the werewolf, who ran past without stopping. They raised an alarm. Any chance at subtely was now over.

Oddly, though, there was not an immediate uproar. From the distance it was difficult to see, but the camp seemed nigh empty, though there was a massive gathering of torches in the center of the camp. And drums. Lots of drums.

Everything that happened from the werewolf entering the camp to all Abyss breaking loose was too far way to see, save for the light display. But, I gathered from later reports that our pet werewolf reached the trog’s weapons cache and tossed the arcfire detonator. At the same time, Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna were in the center of camp. Grendel was engaged in a blood duel with his evil twin, Wendel while “Gram Gram” the demonic troll overlord looked on. Nearly the entire corrupted gather had, well, gathered to witness the bloodsport, leaving the rest of the camp almost deserted. Good for the werewolf. Also good for the winghunters as it happened.

The plan worked, for the most part. Trailed by trog soldiers, our werewolf scampered away from the weapons cache moments before the night was ripped apart by an explosion in camp. A fireball rose above the camp, spreading out into a mushroom before fading into the rain. Everything feel silent.

And in the silence, the night sky suddenly began to glow with a reddish color. All eyes turned skyward as half a dozen burning, red orbs drifted down toward the center of the camp. Fireballs. Winghunters.

Thaumaturgical artillery slammed into the center of camp, blasting apart trogs, tents, and our team in a roiling maelstrom of fire and death. In a heartbeat, Novri decimated the Blood Witch forces, and burned the heart out of their camp. He also managed to annihilate our own teammates in the camp as well. Treacherous backstabbing abyssals.

As the last explosion echoed across the plain, a new sound rumbled from the center of the destruction; a massive roar which shook the ground. Even from hundred of yards away, we could see the twisted form of “Gram Gram” rising above the cloud of smoke. She is HUGE. Not Korash huge, but heads taller than even our ogres. With a bellow, “Gram Gram” sent hundreds of trogs pouring out of camp north in the direction of Novri’s artillery.

That solves that little problem, and least for a moment. Though, I seriously doubt even a small horde of corrupted orcs can finish the Winghunters. They couldn’t finish me, so, doubtful they could do in Novri.

But, that still left Grendel and Ranna in the burning heart of what was once the trog camp. The explosions had stirred them up like an overturned anthill. A couple dozen spilled out into the open ground between our skirmish line and the camp. So long as we stayed low and quiet, there was every likelihood that they would never even…

…and then The Explorer opened fire into the camp.

I couldn’t see what he was firing on, but to give away his position, it had to be important as every trog head turned and once to the bright arcfire flashes illuminated him on the ridge. With hideous howls, they turned and bounded across the ground toward the lone Builder. Moments later, RFC Ranna exploded out of camp carrying Sergeant Grendel’s unconscious body.

But, by fortune or design, they came out behind the ravaging horde homing in on the Builder, and so their way was clear, mostly. Which solved that little problem, but still left The Explorer exposed.

Per our orders, Corporal Sssahlisssstah ordered our withdrawal. We had provided the distraction, with a little help from our Winghunter “friends”. I asked permission to cover The Explorer. The Corporal gave me the nod before providing covering fire for The Explorer, drawing off some of the trogs.

I sprinted to the Explorer, arriving just as he scampered from his hide with hobgoblins on his tail. I managed to drop in, felling one and pushing back the other. The Explorer surprised me. He can run pretty fast on his little legs when the need calls.

Once I was sure The Explorer had enough of a head start, I took off too, staying low and providing cover. RFCs Ingrid and Blackstone already had a decent lead. Kenzie was covering Ranna who charged forward blindly. She was making good time for someone in the heart of Novri’s explosion. In fact, she barely looked singed.

Corporal Sssahlisssstah disengaged from her own battle and followed after. All the while, I covered my team from the scrabbling, howling hordes.

They chased over hill and dale. Southward, ever onward. By some fortune, we managed to stay a step ahead of the horde, if only just. They nearly had us as we reached our roadside camp, but we lost them scrambling down a hillock.

Our Stahlheim friend had everything prepared. We reached the camp already packed for travel. Kenzie leaped onto Buttercup, Ingrid onto Diego, The Explorer onto Muriel, and Blackstone onto Tiny. Grendel was dumped into the wagon where our Stahlheim friend revived him. Ranna and Sssahlisssstah climbed in after.

Once revived, Grendel managed to take the driver’s seat, giving the command to away. Just in time. The lead scouts were just catching up.

Per orders, we charged west.

Eternal Sun 19th-23rd, 3127

For five days we rode, barely stopping, never sleeping with death nipping at our heals. I was fine for the first few days, but by day four my wings felt lead, my entire body ached, and I was so tired I was seeing quadruple.

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

By day five, I smashed into a tree, and the hounds were closing. By evening, troglodytes were already swarming the wagon. Corporal Sssahlisssstah and RFC Ranna managed to fend them off, but we would not survive the night.

And then, we saw them…like metal teeth along the distant ridge. Squat and metal. Not teeth…shields. Hundreds.

As we approached at full gallop, the shields straddling the road split, marching aside in perfect heavy booted step. We staggered through and collapsed.

I think the draft horse pulling the wagon’s heart gave out. Muriel tipped over, trapping The Explorer beneath. My wings just gave up, and I collapsed to the ground.

When I looked up, we were surrounded by heavily armored dwarves. At least they didn’t look hostile, or not hostile to us.

A stern looking elder dwarf approached RFC Blackstone while behind us, the reformed lines of dwarves engaged the advancing horde of darkness, but it was only a matter of time before the trogs brought in their heavies. As valiant as the dwarves were, they could not stand against such a force.

The dwarf introduced himself as Clan Chief Rock Breaker, of the Rock Breaker Clan. And, RFC Blackstone’s future father in law…

Curioser and curioser.

Clan Chief Rock Breaker had those of us injured taken on stretchers to their field hospital while the others attended his command tent. Since I’d taken a few arrows to the rear quarters, I allowed them to drag me as well. Kenzie and Grendel were taken as well.

With the battle raging less than two hundred meters away, I couldn’t stand by and eat cheese and drink wine. I told the healers to wrap my wings, so I could join the crossbowmen on the fire line. By the time I climbed the hill, The Explorer was already there, having the time of his life. And, for their part, the dwarves were holding their own, but it was a losing battle.

By true dark, we could see the hulking shapes of the Denier golems and trolls. The Explorer pulled off the line, likely to report the golems. He has an unhealthy fixation. At any rate, by the time the moon was high, I was beyond exhausted, and out of arrows. I retired from the line and found an open cot. Rumor has it that we are pulling back to a better defensive position.

Tomorrow, we are in one abyss of a fight.

Steelwing

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