Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 125
Attack on High Town; Part One

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

Filed: Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127

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

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

Eternal Sun 25th, 3127

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 The creature known as Gram Gram has withdrawn her forces back toward the Guardian Gathers.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

1st Company (Captain Rorauk Fyrforg)

2nd Company (Lieutenant Kornash)

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

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

Eternal Sun 29th, 3127

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

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

Eternal Sun 33rd, 3127

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

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

Thunder Hawk 4th. 3127

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

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

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

Thunder Hawk-Forest Dance 3127

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

Festival Moons 8th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 10th, 3127

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

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

However, the team pulled together to complete the mission.

Forest Dance 11th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forest Dance 12th, 3127

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

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

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

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

Forest Dance 13th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 14th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 15th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 16th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 17th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 18th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 20th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forest Dance 19th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 21st, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 22nd, 3127

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

Forest Dance 25th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 26th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 29th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 30th, 3127

In the morning, the team departed for Holk.

Forest Dance 33rd, 3127

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

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

Raining Leaves 1st, 3127

Alpha Team departed in the morning headed for Tarrow.

Raining Leaves 3rd, 3127

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

Raining Leaves 4th, 3127

Alpha Team departs Tarrow for Serenity.

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

Raining Leaves 5th, 3127

Alpha departs Serenity for Farwatch.

Raining Leaves 8th, 3127

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

Raining Leaves 9th, 3127

Alpha Team departed Farwatch heading home.

Raining Leaves 10th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raining Leaves 11th, 3127

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

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

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

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

Raining Leaves 12th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raining Leaves 15th, 3127

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

Corporal Sssahliissstah was promoted to Sergeant

Ranger Sir Egon Mansfried was promoted to Ranger First Class

Ranger Gilbur Gill Grimm was promoted to Ranger First Class

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

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

Sadly, there were two issues of disciplinary action.

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest Moons 16th, 3127

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

Harvest Moons 21st, 3127

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

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

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

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

Harvest Moons 25th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

Harvest Moons 33rd, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Echer’Naught Ranger Regional Command, Olara

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Campaign Report 124
Fallen Angel

Stonefoot

Filed: Forest Dance 11th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 6th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 7th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Forest Dance 8th, 3127

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

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

Forest Dance 9th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

Forest Dance 10th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

AVALANCHE!

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

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

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

Ice Wyverns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stonefoot

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Hell Hounds and a Wedding
Ranger Gilbert Grimm's Report

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully,
Ranger Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 123
Kenzie, Ingrid, Steelwing Wedding

Steelwing

Filed: Forest Dance 6th, 3127

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

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 20th, 3127

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

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

Dancing Clouds 22nd, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fike!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again.

Dancing Clouds 26th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

…but we are never making it home.

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

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

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

Like I said…we are never making it home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 27th, 3127

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

Forest Dance 6th, 3127

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

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

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 122
Quadir, Rockbreaker, Ranger Alliance

Steelwing,

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

Apparently we can, with help.

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

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

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

Festival Moons 8th, 3127

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

It was actually pretty undignified and hilarious.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which worked, but nearly killed them in the process.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Moons 10th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival Moons 33rd, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 1st, 3127

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

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

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

Seriously, now I want a pillow from this place.

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

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

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

What in the name of the Ascended IS Wolfhaven?

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing Clouds 12th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

I chose the traditional sash of my people.

We prepared extensively from the 12th-18th.

Dancing Clouds 18th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home.

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

That worried me.

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

Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127

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

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

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

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

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

Steelwing

View
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

View
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

View
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

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