Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 132
Ranger vs Horde vs Beast

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

28th Day of Dark Moons, Year 3127 Under the Light

I had hoped that after our battle with the demon, we might have a brief respite. It was not to be. After a day of fitful repose, I dispatched Alpha Team to drop back along the backtrail. Even with the destruction of the Builder Citadel, the enemy Builder force could not be far behind. And then, there was the matter of the 7k strong Childer horde sniffing at our heels.

So, just before dusk on the 10th, the evening AFTER the demon attack, I dispatched Alpha Team, minus RFC Grimm who was still recuperating, to fall back and sweep behind the column for advanced forces of either the horde or the Builders. Within two hours of their patrol, I received a frantic telepathic message from Ranger Softpaws. While scouting ahead of the team, she encountered a trio of Ratzin in a rocky cave. Evading per orders, she tumbled past the childer and outside the cave…right into the path of maybe dozen childer.

It appeared to be a recon in force in advance of the main childer horde. Raiders and foragers. Led by a Minotaur with a small warband, and a swarm of ratzin they instantly charged after the albino brinchie. Just over a slight ridge, the rest of the Rangers had spare moments to choose a course of action: take to the flats, or dive into the caves.

Sergeant Blackstone chose the caves and Alpha Team sprinted for the relative safety of the rocky tunnels. Outside, darkness fell. Within, the caves were pitch black. With her low-light, Arwen Que’kasaars was sent forward with the rest following, carrying a torch. For the moment, there was no sign of the childer.

Dark Moons 10th, 3127

Diving in the caves for nearly half an hour, the Rangers picked their way along, looking for a way through to an exit. Out front, Arwen entered a large chamber, only to tumble down a steep rock slide and slamming to a stop against the fall wall…or so she thought. As Arwen rose, pushing off against the wall, it moved. A creature the size of a house rose to stand over here, snuffling the air.

Behind Sergeant Blackstone, the other Rangers came to a stop. Marching order, Arwen, Sergeant Blackston, Gravelheart, Explorer, Killian, Softpaws, and Corporal Mansfried bringing up the rear. Mansfried and Softpaws turned to cover the rear while the head of the party dealt with whatever lurked in the cave.

In a relative panic, Arwen backpedaled and ran for the party and the light. Instantly the creature turned to chase. She just reached the rockslide when the massive reptile bit down on her shoulder, lifted her bodily into the air and turned to carry her back to its nest. The Explorer fired a shot right up its tail when it presented its rear, enraging it, and forcing it to turn back around, Arwen still in its maw. From the rear, Mansfried and Softpaws began to hear the scrabbled of ratzin.

Up front, Sergeant Blackstone dropped the torch and melded into the ground, closing on the beast. The Explorer, Kililan, and Gravelheart opened fire with arclances. Again, Gravelheart showed her skill, blowing the beast left eye out of its skull, forcing it to drop Arwen. Immediately, Blackstone was there to retrieve her. In a fury, the pained and wounded beast reached its mighty clawed hand into the tunnel to scoop out the Rangers.

Corporal Mansfried leaped over his team to throw up a defense blocking the attack with Thorgram’s shield. Behind the party, ratzin appeared hurling knifes at Softpaws. She takes a few hits shouts a warning before leaping past the party and sprinting to the right where Blackstone had seen another exit. With ratzin swarming from behind, Corporal Mansfried snatches up the torch and hurls it at the beast’s “good” eye, temporarily blinding it.

Seizing the opening, the other Rangers sprint past the beast away from the ratzin. As the last clears the tunnel, The Explorer tosses a arcfire grenade into the tunnel, before sprinting after the others, covering their retreat. In a perpendicular tunnel, Softpaws lights a torch and takes off, scouting forward. Blackstone and Arwen appear, Arwen laying down eldritch fire to cover the retreating Corporal Mansfried and The Explorer.

Behind them, the tunnel and cavern begin to collapse, filling the air with dust. Three ratzin make it past the beast, only to have one die at Arwen’s hand. The last two die by arclance. With their rear secure, Alpha Team sprints away from the collapsing tunnels.

While the Rangers fought their way through the tunnels, I made my way along a low ridge line with RFC Grimm and five arclancers. We reached near the cave system protecting Alpha Team and spied the childer raiders milling about, sniffing for blood. As we watched, there was a detonation in the mountain. The ground bucked nearly knocking Grimm out as he listened to the ground. Immediately, the childer started making their way around the rocky outcrop.

Leaving one arclancer to maintain position, I led the others around behind another ridge to a position about 30 meters away from the most likely point the Rangers might emerge. A good thing too. About the time we dropped behind cover, Softpaws appeared, the childer pouring over a low ridge to her right. They saw here as soon as we did. So, I ordered my squad to provide covering fire and sprinted down the slope toward the childer. My hope was that they would angle toward me giving my Rangers a chance to escape. Seeing me, Softpaws angled to meet me, while the rest of the Rangers poured out of the cave making a straight line for the cover of the arclancers and ridge line.

As I charged, a wall behind the Rangers exploded and the massive beast burst onto the flats. One eye still smoking, it bellowed and charged toward the childer, through the Rangers. Already committed, I slammed into the wall of fur and steel, cutting deep with my father’s blade. The minotaur war master died first in a spray. Beside me, Softpaws appeared, scratching and biting. From my left, the arclances opened laying down a steady torrent of arcfire. Overhead, gargoyles exploded into dust.

When the Rangers reached the ridge line, as the beast closed, I grabbed Softpaws, summoned my power and Teleported away. We made it about halfway to the ridge. Throwing her over my shoulder, I sprinted the last yards and set her down with the others. Behind us, the beast tore into the childer, roaring and slashing.

We ran, down the backslope of the ridge and didn’t stop running for twenty minutes. By then, I could hardly breath, my legs ached, my nears felt like they were going to explode, and I honestly thought I was going to pass out. I am getting far to old to be running around like a young fool. But, we were safe.

The rest of the trek was uneventful. We rejoined the column after an hour of hiking. The temperature was below freezing and we steamed, out sweat misted around us. By dawn, we slept. All as the dead.

Dark Moons 11th, 3127

In the morning, I spoke with The Explorer about my failure to properly equip Alpha Team for the mission. It had never occurred to me, in my wildest dreams that the Citadel would have fallen. Had I but thought, I would have equipped the team in White silver and Everwood. Now, we are trapped in this endless hellscape with no resources to draw upon. And so, to ensure my team’s survival I tasked The Explorer with melting down my Stahlheim shield and using the White Silver to plate the Ranger’s weapons. I do not know how long it will last, but they will at least have a fighting chance.

The shield was a gift from Rouark Fyrforg, a mastercraft Stahlheim shield. After my horse and sword, the shield was one of my most precious belongings. But, my Rangers come first, above all other concerns. That is my duty as commander. Within a week, all was done. Alpha Team was outfitted with enough White Silver to confront any demon or childer. Let us pray is lasts.

Dark Moons 16th, 3127

After traveling a week, Lady Killian informed me that we were close enough to cross the mountains to reach her Tribe of Forsaken. Leaving the Maker to continue leading the Builder column on our, more or less, southerly course, I took Alpha Team, led by Lady Killian, on a two week trek over the mountains.

Late on the 28th we arrived near the foothills on the far side of the mountain range we had been following for a month. We saw few gargoyles on our entire trek, after our narrow escape for the childer scouts. And fortunately no childer, builders, or overly troublesome beasts. I think that what the Alpha Team faced was an escaped Thunder Lizard who had fallen to Flame. Unsurprising. I can feel the stench of Ceynara’s foulness clawing at my spirit. Every breath, every heartbeat in this accursed place seeks to drive me mad with rage…

We made no effort to hide our advance. It would not be wise to start off by provoking an attack, or inadvertently killing those we are trying to meet in good faith. So, we walked into the Forsaken pickets in as non threatening manner as possible.

As soon as we were spotted, we stopped and allowed Lady Killian to speak on our behalf. She entered the camp, while we waited under guard. After a short time, she returned and we were allowed into the camp, though our weapons had to be left outside camp. It was not unexpected. At my order, we disarmed and entered the Forsaken camp.

Memories flooded back. The camp was little different from the one I spent my time in many years ago. The same despairing determination. Privation, yet generosity. The Forsaken have nothing, but all is shared. Not unlike the goblinesh.

We were escorted to the center of camp, the deepest cave in the system. There, under guard, was an elderly man. A true sign of a survivor. Few live more than a couple years in Norcan Dar. To reach old age bespeaks an indomitable spirit. He greeted me. It would seem the story of my previous escape had reached even here. The Tribal leader invited us to sit with him. And so the negotiations begin.

I will offer to any the option to travel with our column. If we survive, if we escape, they are more than willing to come with us. Alternatively, any who dare not risk the passage, I will ask the Forsaken to take them into their Tribe. I would think gaining the knowledge of the Builders would be a fare trade. We shall see. Forsaken are shrewder hagglers than the most avaricious Malakaran. I only hope we might procure the supplies need to feed the Builder clan.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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To Hell and Back: A Magicians Guide to Norcan' Dar
Chapter 1

Staring at the burning sands and rock that surround me, I wonder if the title of this book is a little presumptive as I have yet to return, either way I plan to research and explore the different natural components of this hellish landscape to further the collective knowledge of the Southern Kingdoms and beyond.

Little to nothing grows here, which makes since as the environment is reminiscent of the Desert Princes natural landscape. Though having spent a little time in the desert, I could safely say the temperatures here far exceed those. The days well exceed 120 degrees and the nights bring the fear of frostbite as if in the snow covered landscape of Northern Olara, and the only safe time to travel is a few hours before sunrise and sunset when the temperatures become somewhat bearable. With this harsh environment it is easy to understand the features of the local flora and fauna, small tough shrubs dot the hills in sparse numbers and the few animals I see are small reptilian creatures that scurry from one small source of shade to another. And those are the few living things I have seen while traversing the jagged rocks and burning sands, but with the shadows circling above I know there are much bigger and scarier creatures here as well.

A few days ago I was able to kill one of these native lizards. Its scales sported a reddish color and course texture to which I assume allow it camouflage in its desert environment, but the most unsettling feature of the creatures was it being covered head to tail in sharp poisonous spines. After dissecting and removing the lizards poison sacks the meat immediately became saturated with the powerful toxins and was in no way longer edible, if it ever was to begin with. Observing the creature it boasts are large frill at the base of the neck, to which I believe to be used for mating or for intimidating potential predators. Every inch of this lizard has adapted perfectly to this environment, this making me fear what is to come if in order to survive this place requires one to have tough hide, sharp spines, and powerful poisons.

I’m assuming to be the first Alchemist to study and record this creature and assume that its species naming is my right. All of the creatures characteristics are leading me to name it a Frilled Sand Devil. I understand this creature was not in fact a “devil” but this landscape seems to corrupt its inhabitants and this lizard was definitely touched by the power of Flame that permeates this land. I begin to worry that staying here too long could have similar effects on us all. Every Alchemist whom truly knows this craft learns from the very beginning to never use corrupted components, as you will never be the same afterwards, and so I hope to find our way home again soon. With that said until then I will continue to study this alien world and its inhabitants in hopes of gaining greater understanding of how to survive this place.

Respectively,
Professor of Alchemical Studies, Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 131
Demon Attack

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

10th Day of Dark Moons, Year 3127 Under the Light

After two weeks of brutal hiking through the jagged peaks, our column was strung out and proceeding at a plodding pace. Each hour I could feel the combined forces of the Builders and the Childer horde growing closer. Yet, there is little I can do.

Builders are marvels of technological innovation and implementation. Behind their walls they are, nigh, impregnable. But in the open terrain of this hostile world, they are nearly helpless. During the day, the temperature peaks at 120-130 degrees, and at night -20 to -30. Each day we lose a few to heatstroke and frostbite.

Shade is difficult in the mountains, as there is little solid. It is all sharp shale mounds which shift under foot, and stab through boots and clothes. All the while, gargoyles circle overhead. We can move only a few hours before and after dawn. As dangerous as the frost may be, the heat is brutal.

We had just found shallow shade to wait out the burning sun, when I heard shouts from the direction of the columns rear. It was just at dawn and out scouts were spread out screening a column too large by half. Wearily, I gathered my kit, and starting making my way to the rear from my position at the head of the column.

I had not gone more than a few hundred yards when I was suddenly intruded upon by the familiar mental touch of Ben Toma. He interpreted for Ranger Softpaws. Apparently, the rear echeleon of our column was under assault by some form of Infernal. Already, at least a couple members of Alpha Team had been devoured.

Realizing time was of the essence, I drew deeply upon the reserve of power within my blood and accelerated to dangerous speeds. Builders scrambled to clear a path as I leaped and ran down the entire line of our group.

Even at my best speed, I was too late to prevent Lady Rahsoona Kilian and Ranger Gilbur Gill Grimm from being stuffed down the demon’s gullet. It was some horrible cross between a dragon and a worm, sprouting half a dozen tentacles that seemed to whip and vibrate as the beast undulated. And, it had horns, as incongruous as that may seem.

The demon appeared to have no magic, relying mainly on its tough hide and tentacles for protection, which also served as its primary weapon and method of feeding. The maw took up most of the beast exposed above ground. I can therefore assume that this was some dark representation of hunger.

By the time I arrived, Alpha Team had been well engaged for some time. As mentioned, Kilian and Grimm were inside. Sergeant Blackstone was dangling from one of the tentacles over the gaping maw. Ranger Gravelheart was FAR out of reach on the far side, firing her arclance. The explorer was in the process of dismounting from the demon’s back, while Que’kassars, Sir Mansfried, and Softpaws engaged the beast.

At a shout of warning, leaped through and stabbed the demon, being careful not to slay my own team. It died with a shriek as my blade cleaved in into smoking pieces. Both Kilian and Grimm spilled out.

The alchemist looked like death warmed over. Kilian was naked, though covered in greenish blood. Immediately I covered her in my cloak to protect her modesty, though I am acutely away some cultures have varied rules of propriety.

Gill lived, though he would require rest. As for the others, they were none the worse for wear. However, I soon discovered that their inability to end the threat stemmed from my inadequate preparation for out mission. Only one member of Alpha Team is currently equipped with White Silver, and that being Arwen’s rapier. In all other respect, the team is helpless against many of the worst beings in Norcan Darr. I resolved to immediately rectify that situation.

In the meantime, Alpha Team carried their wounded to shelter and proceeded to eat, rest, and heal. Kilian, at the least, procured more appropriate clothing, and the team rested until that eve.

With the attack, I fear that our enemy may be closing upon our ranks. So, I tasked Alpha Team, minus the resting Grimm, to fall back along our backtrail to determine if, and how close, either enemy force might be.

They left out, rekitted and supplied, shortly before dusk as the temperature began to drop. I had already scouted our immediately area, but Alpha Team ranged farther afield. I returned to the head of the column, leaving Grimm with healers.

I had only returned shortly, just as the Maker and his guards were beginning their move when Softpaws, through Ben Toma, contact me again.

Alpha Team had encountered a sizable childer force, maybe 30 within a quarter mile of our rear. Unfortunately, the childer managed to ambush the team forcing them into retreat. As we spoke, they were heading into a cave system near the childer location. On their heals, almost three dozen angry childer hunted.

Once again, I gathered my kit and pulled a dozen Builder Arclancers off the line before heading toward the rear of the column, picking up a waking Grimm along the way. It would take another hour before the Builders showed any semblance of movement. Columns that large simply take time to move.

So, I hoped that a smaller, lighter force might reach the Rangers, supress or eliminate any opposing childer scouting party, and return to the column before the column managed to make any real headway.

For the second time that day, I found myself scarabbling through the mountains of Norcan Darr praying that the team would survive long enough to be relieved.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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Grenna House Vosltagg Born
White River 29th, 3127

Late on White River 29th, 3127, Ranna’s first born child, Grenna of House Volstagg, is born in Almahrad in the Ranger HQ as a ward of Captain and Lady Volstagg.

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Campaign Report 130
Exile in Norcan Darr

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Exile, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

30th Day of White River, Year 3127 Under the Light

Any reasonable hope of returning home, to seeing my new child, my wife, are gone. All upon my order. We are now truly one people. The Builders’ home was destroyed, and with it our own. Survival now depends on our ability to trust, to work together, to hope.

White River 28th, 3127

Everything happened so quickly. Alpha Team managed to destroy the Builder device dampening the Citadel’s own magic, but it was a temporary reprieve. And at such a staggering cost. Another war…

Alpha Team headed to the barracks to catch their breath, re-equip, rearm, and process their losses. While I continued to debate with the Maker and his council on the best course of action. I saw but one possible path forward. Lure the enemy into the Citadel and then destroy them. We would doubtless only catch a portion of their forces, but we would kill far more than it would cost us, and with the Citadel’s pathways through the mountain gone, the enemy would be forced to take a longer route to follow, buying us that most precious commodity: Time.

It was not lost on me that we would also be destroying our only reasonable means of returning home. In promoting such a plan I was condemning my team. Once again, I was sacrificing the lives of my men for the “greater good.” How much blood will it take to secure victory?!

While the rest of the team prepped, The Explorer joined me briefly. He too listened to the arguments, and seeing their value, challenged the Maker. Our only reasonable course of action was retreat. That, and he laid upon me the sobriquet, one of Shaintar’s “Greatest Military Minds.” I greatly appreciate his confidence, but sincerely wished such accolades were not so blood soaked. Before he left, I asked him to see to upgrading Alpha Team’s arms and armor with what Builder tech they could use. Also, I requested Corporal Blackstone’s presence.

The Explorer left, and Blackstone arrived. Given our current situation, I felt it prudent to continue to maintain proper chain of command. To the end, on Shaintar’s date of White River 29th, 3127 I issued the following field promotions:

Corporal Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Sergeant.

RFC Egon Mansfried was promoted to Corporal.

RFC Gilbur Gill Grimm was promoted to 3rd in command, though he retained his rank of RFC.

After his promotion, I informed him that he would be in full command of the Team. My duties now lied with aiding the Maker in keeping his people alive. Alpha Team would be given near full autonomy. As such, Sergeant Blackstone now served as independent command for the Rangers in Norcan Dar. Further, I informed him that the Explorer was in the process of upgrading the Team’s gear. Furthermore, RFC Grimm was to be excused from camp duties as his full efforts, when on in actual combat, were to be dedicated to producing Protection and Healing potions for the team. So long as it did not endanger the lives of his team, and while still within Norcan Dar, Sergeant Blackstone was to facilitate RFC Grimm in whatever capacity to achieve his needs.

Lastly, a second attack was imminent. Therefore, I ordered Alpha Team to the front gates to aid in the defense. Sergeant Blackstone had full authority to withdraw his team as soon as he felt they could not longer hold their position. The longer they held, the more civilians I could evacuate safely, as soon as the Maker agreed to my plan. I dismissed the Sergeant and observed the debate among the Builders.

Despite their arrogance, technological advancement, and history, the Builders are alike us in many ways. Politics, it seems, is universal. Still, with the Explorer’s endorsement, the Maker conceded to my plan with some grace and we immediately began evacuations.

I learned later that the Alpha Team took an hour or so to gear up, with the Explorer crafting something akin to scale armor via pieces of Arcmancy ceramics in their tightweave cloth. He also equipped much of the team with arcfire weapons, and distributed ammo among those not arcfire trained. When not overseeing that, he aided RFC Grimm in constructing a passable Alchemy kit from the available materials, and broke it down into several pieces to distribute the load.

When all was kitted, they headed up to the main gate. The grand hall was a ruin, the gate blown wide open. Builder arclancers had set up firing positions around the hall, taking cover behind fallen columns. About the time Alpha Team arrived, a Builder patrol arrived with a prisoner captured just outside. One of the forsaken, I noted when I met her that she actually hailed from Caladon, having fallen through a Tempest vortex. Based on the state of her gear, and her apparent acclamation, I gather she has been here for many years. Still, her subsequent fighting all but saved the team.

However, at the point she arrived, she was disarmed and a prisoner of the Builders. She was clearly not with the Kal, or the enemy Builders, but a discussion ensued as to what should be done with her. Sergeant Blackstone and the Explorer approached to find out more, while the rest of the team spread out. RFC Grimm took the initiative to sprint to the breach and set a land mine in order to slow oncoming attackers.

Unfortunately for all concerned, the attack happened while Grimm was finishing and Sergeant Blackstone and the Explorer were mid conversation.

First a smoke bomb rolled into the room, enveloping the breach, along with Grimm. From within the cloud, heavily armed arclancers spread out on either side, taking up firing positions and laying down a torrent of fire. Alpha Team responded, moving into position.

The fire was intense. Each enemy arclancer was protected by a deflection field, rending them difficult to hit. Whereas the allied arclancers had elevation and position, but lacked the extra layer of protection.

Centered at the base of the grand staircase, Ranger Gravelheart took early hits and went down behind a stone pile, wounded but not dead. Grimm ducked into and out of the smoke cloud, too far to make a break for the stairs.On the left, Arwen Que’kasaars went down, she was dragged back by Softpaws.

As the allied arclancers died, the enemy Builders swept up the flanks, moving from cover to cover, pouring fire into the defenders who were pushed back. On the fight, The Explorer and the Forsaken Caladonian, Killian, lay down covering fire, counting several kills apiece.
Corporal Mansfried called a withdrawn from the top of the stairs, before incoming fire forced him down and back. Softpaws continued to drag the wounded back into the hall. Sergeant Blackstone went for Grimm, sinking into the earth and burrowing under to him. Moments before the cloud dropped, the Sergeant reached Grimm and dragged him under and back. However, when they reached allied lines, the smoke cloud dropped revealing a heavy arcprojector emplacement which poured fire into them. Grimm went down, was revived, then the Sergeant.

Meanwhile, The Explorer sighted on Grimm’s bomb and detonated it, blowing its cover apart. Then, Kililan and the Explorer continued to kill gunners as the Rangers pulled back. Over half the team were downed, but none succumbed to their wounds. All the allied arclancers perished, but they sealed the stairway doors.

As they took some time to heal and revive downed comrades, the Explorer mined the door. When they were able to move again, Sergeant Blackstone sent Softpaws back with Grimm to rendezvous with me, while the rest fell back to a defensible position and continued fighting. Over the course of a couple hours, Alpha Team and retreating defenders conducted a fighting retreat. Several were lost, but they bought us time to evacuate nearly all the civilians, and supplies needed to survive the Hard Lands. Better yet, we managed to rig the failing arcgenerators to blow, setting the trap.

It was shortly after the 13th hour when Softpaws and Grimm arrived. I kept them close as we waited. A couple hours later, I informed Softpaws to tell Alpha Team to hunker down. Then, I ordered the generator destroyed. The ensuring explosion imploded the entire mountain, trapping all inside under millions of tons of rock and rubble. Nothing can have survived. Alpha Team apparently took shelter in an abandoned scout outpost. They witness the destruction from close on.

White River 30th, 3127

Half an hour later, they arrived. Shot up, bloody, and exhausted, but victorious. Professionals to the last. I was then introduced to Lady Rahsoona Kilian, of Caladon. For her help, I welcomed her to the team. And then asked if her Forsaken tribe was close enough for our column to reach. She agreed to lead us.

With the hope of food and information, I asked the Explorer to speak with the Maker and convince him that his Builders must throw themselves on the mercy and generosity of the Forsaken and trade for Food, Water, and Guides.

Once again, I am a commander in an army on the march. However, we march through one of the harshest environments imaginable full of demons, childer, and worse. To add to our woes, the recent battle attracted the attention of a childer horde nearly 7000 strong which was no doubt pursuing our pursuers. Add to that, a gargoyle flock already winged overhead.

Ascended have mercy on us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Norcan Dar

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We went to Hell
Gilbert Grimm's report

I couldn’t tell you how many people have uttered the phrase “Go to Hell” to me in my lifetime. Should they ever see this I believe that they would be pleased to know that that is exactly where I have gone.

I write this in the ever growing heat inside the monstrous depths of a Citadel. I’ve heard of the infamous homes of the builders, but to witness one first hand let alone stay here for days on end is mind boggling. We arrived here a few days prior by what could only be called a Jerry rigged Arc Gate and a hope and a prayer. Wolfhaven met with our team the night before our departure warning us that our destination was a place not meant for our kind, he was never able to disclose the actual destination for fear of prying ears, but I never would have imagined Norcan’ Dar. I was excited for the prospect of strange lands that hold new and priceless components for my alchemical studies, but looking out to the red desolate landscape I cant help but think that nothing but demons and childer could survive here.

Once we arrived and our atoms finished arranging themselves back to their mostly proper positions, we were greeted by a contingent of builders led by what I assume is a Maker. Even more surprising is that these seem to be the Explorer’s kin, I have no doubt his story will be useful in getting us home, I hope at least.

what followed next were days of endless negotiating and discussions on things I still don’t quite know. That gave us plenty of time to explore our surroundings, but most of us were at a loss for how to utilize any of the contraptions in our quarters. Finally my day came to accompany Wolfhaven, Sssalisstah, and the Explorer to one of the Negotiations is what I assume they were. Hours passed of dreary talks in a language I have no idea of, but those times of untended manotany were abruptly put to an end by some sort of explosive device. When I came to I was told that one of the builders had set it off, putting in place a chain of events that we hoped would never happen.

Once we all reconvened we were informed that a machine was cutting power to the entire Citadel, including its protections. Our job was to locate and destroy the machine so that the defensive weapons would return and hopefully stave off the intruders. We traversed through a long disused tunnel and soon arrived at the edge of a long crevasse with a single bridge to cross it with, however the entire ledge on the other side was guarded by Builders and Two Builder Golems. There attacks were fast and brutal making it nigh impossible to cross, but ssalissatah sacrificed herself in show of immense power. While she had their attention Explorer and Blackstone made their way across through Blackstones Earth manipulation, once across they were able to destroy the machine but undenouced to us until moments prior the bridge was wired to explode and once again I fell unconscious.

I awoke not long ago back in the Citadel and learned that sssalissath did not make it. She was a good leader and will be missed. Now we are faced with the knowledge that this Citadel is no longer safe and we must venture into the bad lands hopefully to find a way home. Before we leave though I hope the explorer will show me how to work these damn contraptions as they may be our best way to protect our selves from whatever is lurking in that barren red landscape.

Respectfully,
RFC Gilbert Grimm

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Campaign Report 129
Sacrifice of Sergeant Sssahlissstaah

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Builder Citadel, Norcan Dar (Hard Lands)

28th Day of White River, Year 3127 Under the Light

I prayed never to see these red, blasted lands. Yet here I am. It seems my life must be spent taking on the duties I most dread and despise.

Grey Winds 22nd, 3127

It took a day to bore into the base of the mountain where the Great Arcgate was housed. The small team of Dwarven Stonesingers sang themselves hoarse, but they finished the job. From there, the retired and turned over the device to the builders, tinkers, and tempest.

I was informed by the lead engineer that blending the Maker device with the Great Arcgate would take a considerable amount of time. They could provide no specifics, but I expected weeks, maybe months. Therefore, I gave Alpha Team some time to themselves. I had other duties to attend.

The Kingdom of Camon has already experienced a rash of border skirmishes and retaliatory killings. The Queen retains her throne, but Church power plays threaten to destabilize the fragile peace daily. By Archanon, I do not know who will win if it all goes down in flames.

First through fourth companies of the White Silver Wolves marched north into the Gathers, seeking to reinforce the Guardian Gathers against depredation by the Blood Witch. Despite the fact that more than a few resent our presence. Fifth company continued to secure assets in the desert, struggling to forge a coalition among the various Princes. Xaos continue to muddy the waters. We still don’t know how many Princes are compromised. Fortunately, with the liberation of A’Davar and A’Morgal, the Empire’s relentless march south appears to have stalled.

And then, there are the rumors of wars in the Jungle. Our few Ranger assets report strange forces, and disappearing villages. I do not know what to make of them, but I fear some new threat looms on the horizon.

Echer’Naught continues to prosper, but the attack on High Towne displaced the most powerful people in the city, all clambering for reimbursement. The Crown and Harken place responsibility squarely on the Rangers, straining coffers. Without an infusion of capital, city budgets will be strained for the foreseeable future, increasing the risk of future attacks. Though, the absence of the overwhelming majority of dignitaries does free up funds normally directed to their protection.

And, there are a myriad power players calling for blood. The less militant voices merely seek my dishonorable discharge, perhaps arrest. The more militant have accused me of various crimes, treason, grand theft, pederasty. My unilateral decision to relocate the Maker’s Device has not been well received by the Olaran Crown, the Harken Duchy, or even the Rangers. My sudden vacancy from the city has some leveling charges of desertion. I am unsure of what welcome I might receive upon returning home.

Despite my absence from the city, I still had a job to do. Several in fact. So, I spent my time reading reports, moving pieces across the board, and daily communications with my wife.

White river 17th, 3127

I became aware of a curious report over dinner with Commander Garrus. Border security found the body of a local merchant hidden in a copse of trees with his cart and horse, neck broken. When the guards opened his goods, they found pickle barrels full of the body parts of nearly a dozen human and elven infants. Someone had discovered his treachery and had him eliminated. The guards ruled his death “accidental.” On a hunch, I contacted a friend to look into the crime scene. Interesting, indeed.

White River 25th, 3127

Late in the afternoon, a report reached my office that the work on the gate had been completed. We now possessed the only known precise Great Arcgate in Shaintar. And everyone who would use it for evil knows we have it. Time is of the essence. So, I summoned Alpha Team for a meal, something of a last collegial moment together. We were joined by Commander Garrus, “Val” Que’kassars, his niece Arwen, and the rest of Alpha Team. The Explorer joined us for the first time since entering the mountain. After a brief toast and good food, I asked for a situation report from The Explorer. Our device was prepped, though I could see the doubt in his eyes.

I knew where we were going. I have been there. And, it was one of the most difficult challenges in a fairly challenging life. No sane person should every consider going to the place of demons and Childer, but we had no choice. Or, I had no choice. They did.

So, I gave them a choice. Without knowing where, or why, I asked them to follow me into hell. To a man, they stayed. Even Evoran’s young cousin joined Alpha Team. That was the hardest. So much Que’kassars blood had already been spilled. To cost the family another. But, as arrogant and cold as they often seem, I found found the bloodline to be surprisingly passionate.

We drank. We ate. We talked. I knew it might be our last meal. At the end, I ordered the team to kit up and meet me in the AM, 0500.

White River 26th, 3127

Before dawn, the team assembled, ready for war, though no knowledge of where they were heading. We headed down three levels off the Heroe’s Keep. From there, we passed through the gilded door to the underground staircase into the heart of the mountain. Down through the recovered Builder Citadel, and into the Gate Room. There, the monstrosity that is the Great Arcgate hummed and vibrated with power. I had not imagined that any more power could be passed through the gate without reality tearing itself apart. I was wrong.

In one corner huddled the Maker’s Device, half melted but humming ominously. Wires, cables, and filaments spider webbed across its surface, snaking across the ground and plunging into the gates dais. Everything was ad hoc and hastily rigged. The dais itself had been cut open, with panels removed and sparking gears, nodes, and exposed cables sparking and smoking. To channel all the raw power, copper wires had been wound around the three gimbals. Arcfire rippled and sparked, the internal mechanism groaned and smoked. All was wired into a trio of copper panels covered with pulsing and flickering runes. One Builder, one Tinker, and one Legionnaire stood behind the panel, nervously manipulating various dials, nobs, and toggles frantically keeping the arcgate from imploding or exploding depending on who you asked.

There was nothing to do. It would work, or it would not. If it worked, we faced a host of new problems. If it did not, it would no longer be our problem. So, in silence, we mounted the dais and waited. Commander Garrus stood in the doorway shaking his head. But, he followed orders and with a nod from me, signaled the operators to trigger the gate.

The three gimbals rings rose from the floor and began to spin around us. Flashes of Arcfire flashed from ring to ring, growing in power and intensity. The sound began as a low moan and quickly rose to a high pitched shrieking which set my teeth on edge. Fast and faster the rings spun until we were encased in an energy arcfire sphere. Through the crackling energy field I could just make out Garrus’ face as he shielded his eyes from the flash.

Flash.

My existence was torn apart by fire, before being reconstituted into a reasonably facsimile.

I found myself in a pyramidal room of a similar black stone/metal I expect from Builder citadels. We stood on a smaller, circular platform with a single curved copper arm that slowed to a stop. Dimmed arcfire wall sconces flickered, but otherwise, we stood alone in the room. Suddenly, the wall in front of us split and slid apart revealing a lit hallway and five Builders. The first was garbed in robes, clearly official. Flanking him were eight Builder arclancers. Around me, the Rangers tensed. Most encounters with the red skinned dwarves had ended badly for us.

However, rather than attack, the lancers stepped back, and faced inward, creating an honor guard. The leader, a Maker I assumed, greeted me, and then the Explorer, who he addressed by name. Rouland Abhenráck. Then, invited our party to follow, turned and led us into the citadel. The air was stale, old.

Over the years, I have spent considerable time in Citadels, though never in any but ruins, save for the one beneath Heroe’s Keep. I have never before entered a Citadel as it would have been during the reign of the Builders. Behind me, the team followed, flanked on all sides by our honor guard. The Maker lead us through a series of identical corridors, until we came to an ancient, and weathered door. I could tell that none had passed this way in centuries.

With great ceremony, the Maker activated a door panel open. A heavy door slides upward to reveal a tableau of red, ocher, and orange. Norcan Dar. The Hard Lands.

Hot, dry, and oppressive air rolled over us. Sand finer than dust, filled my nose, ears, and eyes. All around, I could feel the stench of Flame.

We were allowed to stand there on the small balcony hanging from the side of a mountain for a few minutes. Just long enough that we were certain beyond any doubt that Alpha Team had been transported to Norcan Dar. Inside the Citadel, we could be anywhere. Our location confirmed, we were escorted back into the temperate, stale interior of the Citadel and back down the dizzying network of corridors. A few dozen twists and turns later found our team in a per-arranged living area.

Preliminary negotiations guaranteed that we were to have private quarters, ample meeting and training space. Other than as needed to service and feed the team, we were to be left alone. Though, I had not doubt they would observe us at all times.

True to their word, we were given two large rooms, one for dining and one for training. Each of us had small, private rooms, though as everything was arcfire powered and activated, none of the team could operate anything, lights, showers, nothing.

As I made the rounds to invite everyone to dinner, I found most in a state of confusion. Ranger Gravelheart was found soaked, standing in complete darkness, with no way to open the door. She had used nearly a week’s rations by randomly pressing buttons. As for the rest, they adjusted as well as they could. The Explorer, however, was not housed with our team. He returned to his own quarters, though I imagine he spent the first night being thoroughly debriefed.

That night, we ate what passed for food among the Builders. Everything was flavorless and processed. Again, I offered my spices to flavor the food. I made sure to bring enough to last at least a few months. Though, I have no idea how long negotiations might have lasted.

Over dinner, I finally explained our mission. We had been invited by The Explorer’s Citadel to negotiate a lasting Treaty between the Legio Heroe’s and the Citadel. We would serve as emissaries. I would negotiate on behalf of the Legion. As the point of contact, The Explorer would act as mediator. The rest of the team would alternatively provide security while also recording everything they saw and heard. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah would command the security detail. I would always have two Rangers, one an NCO to lead my detail, while the highest ranked NCO remained in command of the Team in our living area.

White River 27th, 3127

On the first day of negotiations, Corporal Blackstone led my detail along with Ranger Gravelheart. Our lights auto brightened and we were awakened by a horrible sound, presumably the alarm. We enjoyed a breakfast of protein paste over a carbohydrate brick. Then, at a predetermined time the door lights flashed with another obnoxious tone.

I and my detail headed out the rooms and another door. There, we waited for a good 20 minutes. Another chime and the door opened to a small room. Identical door on the opposite side. In the middle, an angular table. One chair at each end. Above to each side, I saw nearly opaque panels above on either side, observation rooms.

Four hours of negotiations, then an hour for lunch. Then, six more hours of negotiations. Finally released for dinner. More flavorless paste, boards, and cubes. Even my spices did little.

I could see the boredom was taking its toll on the team. Each kept busy in their own way. Most trained. RFC Mansfried took notes. After dinner, I went to bed on my bed slab. I never took the Builders for negotiators, but the Maker gave nothing and demanded all.

White River 28th, 3127

Lights. Alarms. Breakfast. Alarm. Head to meeting. This time Sergeant Sssahlissstaah and Grimm assumed my detail while the others drilled in the living quarters.

Four hours of meeting, then break for lunch. Same meat cube paste. Then, a return to the meeting.

However, that is when things went horribly wrong.

While engaged in negotiations, I noticed one of the Builder guards standing behind the Maker draw something out of his robes. I was too late to stop him as he hurled a detonator at the table, but I did manage to throw myself over the Maker, shielding him from most of the blast. Still, an energy pulse from the device nearly killed him anyway. The assassin and the other guard were killed instantly. Grimm went down and the Explorer was blinded.

Worse, moments after the attack, the entire Citadel shut down. Lights, doors, and defenses. We were under attack.

Locked in the room, I was useless. So, after stabilizing those I could, I left the Sergeant in charge and teleported through the door into the hall. Outside, I could already hear arcfire echoing from the living chambers.

As I sprinted around the corner, I saw a pair heavily armored boom troopers firing into my team. Gravelheart was already down. From the living quarters, I saw Sir Mansfried charging toward me holding my sword.

Just as I entered the room, one of the troopers detonated. Mansfried hurled my sword to me and I dropped the second. After stabilizing Gravelheart, my team stacked up and we returned to the meeting room where I ripped through the door and recovered the rest of my team, and the Maker’s body.

The Explorer led us to a more secure area, his former team’s ready room. Their his scout leader, now acting head of the Citadel’s defenses, arrayed his forces. Builder arclancers, boom troopers, and arcmancers prepped weapons before charging off to defense positions.

When we approached, the Scout Leader recognized The Explorer and accepted our help. We had two issues.

First, the enemy forces, Builders, were using a Magic Cancelling device to drain and knock out the Citadel’s arcfire. As long as it it remained, their engineers could not get the power restored. Second, the front gates had been breached and a large force was penetrating deep into the citadel’s defenders.

The Leader believed the dampening device was set up on an unused platform within sight of the gates. He had a location, but he could not spare a team large enough to take down the device. It was in a remote location, and heavily defended. It was an impossible mission. So, I sent my Alphas. The Scout leader gave The Explorer a large detonator to destroy the device. The geared up and moved out.

I joined the Builders at the front gates. By the time I arrived, dozens of enemy troops had all but secured the grand gallery. The Citadel’s defenders barely held a few galleries. Bodies littered the floor. Half a dozen golems poured fire into the positions. The Citadel had fallen.

We needed to buy time for Alpha Team to take out the dampener. With the internal defense active, we had a chance to take back the gate, and at least delay the inevitable. So, I summoned my power and engaged the golems head on. I am unsure exactly what the Explorer told his people, but seeing me in my form seemed to rally them. Oddly though, the enemy Builders were unsurprised, Almost as if they expected it, or were inured to the sight of one of the Bloodline.

The battle was fierce. Even my presences only barely managed to hold the line, though I managed to take out the initial wave of golems. More blasted through the gates. It seemed the enemy had a near endless supply of troops and resources.

It took almost an hour, but the lights suddenly came on. With them, automated defenses, shields, lights, and doors. It was a slaughter. Though, it cost us dearly, we retook the gate, though it was smashed beyond repair.

Citadel defense took over fortifying the position while I returned to command for an update on the team. An hour later, they returned, shot up. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah was not with them. She had died drawing fire so that Corporal Blackstone and the Builder could get close enough to destroy the enemy device.

Alpha Team was forced to assault over a mined causeway. Almost half the team was dropped by arclancers before they reached the bridge. Softpaws downed a potion and managed to get under the bridge, only to discover it rigged to blow. Two golems, two arcfire defense projectors, and nine arclancers created overlapping fields of fire. Anyone stepping on or near the bridge was dead, and even if they managed to survive the arcfire, they would be killed as soon as the bridge was detonated. It was a suicide assault. But the Alpha founds a way.

Sergeant Sssahlissstaah volunteered to cross the bridge, taking all the enemy fire and sacrifice herself so that Blackstone could sing a stone causeway below the mined Builder bridge. The Explorer with the pack crossed with him while Softpaws and Que’kassars dragged the fallen team members away from the blast. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah lived just long enough for her team to cross the chasm before she was killed when the bridge was blown. Alone and behind lines, Blackstone protected The Explorer for the torrent of arcfire while the Builder rigged the device. The two Rangers sank into the earth moments before the arcfire detonator cleaved off the top of the ridgline.

Then, they swung back across and made their way back to the citadel. All to save strangers, Builders even. And after Builders of this same Citadel tried to kill them less than an hour before.

I could not be more proud, or awed by their determination, self sacrifice, and heroism. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah will be remembered. She will have her Last Call. But for now, we must find a way to save the thousands of innocent souls trapped in this mountain tomb. And figure out who is trying to kill us.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Builder Citadel, Norcan Dar

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Campaign Report 128
Maker's Device Reaches Heroes Keep

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Heroe’s Keep, Defiant Lands

21st Day of Gray Winds, Year 3127 Under the Light

White Stagg 17th, 3127

Each member of Alpha Team was encouraged to make final preparations before our mission. I had made clear that we may not return from transporting the Maker device. Most took my warning to heart. I know that RFC Grimm filed a Last Will. As did Corporal Blackstone, who also left his wedding ring behind for his wife who would arrive within a few days. The others meditated as Sergeant Sssahlissstaah, trained as Ranger Softpaws, or enjoyed the hospitality of my House. The Explorer consulted with Legionary members of my House Guard. They confirmed that the Maker device was active, but appeared dormant.

We departed late in the morning, heading east, then turning north toward Kore. Per orders, we left our Ranger Cloaks and Pins behind. It was unusual. I have spent the last five years in the green of the cloak, going without felt exposed, somehow. Yet, being back in the saddle was exhilarating.

The drudgery of command fell away as the miles passed under Thunder’s hooves. Despite the nature of the mission, I felt uplifted. And, to travel with the team I founded felt right. Five years, and again I command the first Ranger Team of Echer’Naught. It seems almost ordained.

We arrived late withing sight of Kore. Rather than enter the city, we turned west, and camped along the road to Rhion. Knowing the device is active lead me to caution. If we camped within a city, and the device activated, or our enemies attacked civilians to get to our column, I could not forgive myself. So many have died upon my orders, but life is precious. Never spent lightly, or without the greatest cause. I could not in good conscience endanger innocents, so we camped alone, away from collateral damage.

That charming thought keeping me occupied, I tried to make the best of our situation, and I must say. Camping that night was pleasant. Alpha Team conducted their business like professional soldiers. We have come so far from the trio of Rangers bounding around Echer’Naught with little clue what we were doing.

I could not be more proud. And, I have lamented so long that I have been unable to form personal bonds with the iterations of the team over the years. On this trip, for such time we have together, I am committed to getting to my Rangers. My Team.

In the FIRST place, I passed along wisdom I inherited from my first Sergeant. Spice is life. Properly seasoned, old boot leather makes a passable meal. Just the act of cooking stew and sharing it with the team was cathartic. I have missed this.

Funny thing. Over the years, I developed certain habits. Years in the saddle taught me to care for your mount first, gear second, and yourself last. Small things like that. I don’t know. It wasn’t until I caught Blackstone staring at my sword that I realized somewhere along the way I got into the habit of sinking the blade into stone rather than lying it down, or sticking the blade in dirt. Its just, when in the field, you have to set it somewhere, right? Most warriors lean their swords against trees, or lie them on bedrolls. Well, after every time you have to clean the blade, and polish.

Somewhere along the way, I must have idly stuck the blade into a stone and it sank in, stuck tight. Magic sword, right? I have no idea when that started. Just one of those habits.

White Stagg 18th, 3127

We take the King’s Road west to Rhion. The trip takes eight days. That being a major highway, traffic was fairly busy, but no one paid us any mind. We could have been any group of travelers.

White Stagg 25th, 3127

Early on the 25th we rumble into Rhion. Despite my attempts at subterfuge, the gate guard identified me instantly, cloak or no. But, he was smart enough to realize my intent, so, to the best of his ability, made little outward signs of recognition. I wonder how Longtail does it? The woman spends her LIFE in anonymity. Perhaps when I return, if I return, I shall schedule some lessons on how NOT to appear as Colonel Wolfhaven.

We were waved through the gates with perfunctory inspection. Rhion bustled with activity as it does. We rolled through, and then turns south, passing beyond the River Wall to the lower docks. there, we rolled out cargo onto a pier, away from the population. Once secure, I asked Sergeant Sssahlissstaah to venture into the river for some fresh fish, while I dispatched Sir Mansfried, and Corporal Blackstone for more command fare. I worked with the delightful Gravelheart setting up camp.

That night we had fresh fish, boiled and spiced rice, and heady Olaran ale. Ah, the life. I tried to enjoy myself, to revel in the company. We must treasure these moments. In the future it is our memories that must sustain us for the trials ahead.

The old habits came back hard. I worked with the Rangers of Alpha Team, teaching the to care for their mounts as a true knight. I hope I was congenial company. It appeared so. Though, I doubt any would have the temerity to say otherwise?

White Stagg 26th, 3127

According to my per-arrangements, a barge arrived just after dawn on the 26th. The Maker’s Device is heavy. Far heavier than its size would dictate. Our best minds feel it has something to do with the device’s power and use. Whatever the case, transporting across water presented a serious impediment. My only thought was a barge.

And so, just as the sun crested the horizon, a massive river barge bumped against the end of our pier. The captain tied off our end, before Sergeant Sssahlissstaah slowly drove the dwarven wagon off the stone dock. Everyone held their breath as the ropes creaked and the barge pitched. But, all held and we managed to secure the wagon in the center. I admit, the deck road nervously low in the water.

With our cargo secure, we then secured the mounts. Blackstone, Gravelheart, and the Explorer all hugged close to the horses and the wagon. I took post at the prow. If we were to be attacked, this would be as good a time as any. All in readiness, we shoved off and began the slow trek cutting across the Shaintar River. Over the course of the day, we drifted miles down the river. By the time our barge crunched against the sands on the far side we were within a few miles of Stahlhiem. Corporal Blackstone seemed of mixed minds on that matter. However, we were turning north, not venturing into the land of his people.

That night, we ate fresh fish again, and I cautioned them to be watchful as we neared the Malakar Dominion. We were not at war with the Dominion, had not been since the end of the War of Flame. However, they are uneasy neighbors at best. Alpha Team took my warnings to heart.

White Stagg 27th, 3127

In the morning, we ate a warm breakfast before packing out and heading north. The trip took five days as we followed the river on our right. Sergeant Sssahlissstaah seemed to enjoy the nearness, while others did not. Midway through the third day (29th), we turned westward, leaving the river behind us. On the fourth day (30th) we crossed the border into the Northern Gathers.

White Stagg 32nd, 3127

We reached the gather of Bralk. Again, we camped within sight, but not within the gather. Up to now I had followed roads for experience. However, we now entered unsecured lands. While the Goblinesh Gathers are not necessarily hostile, they are hardly allied. So, in order to make ourselves less of a target, I chose to follow less traveled roads. And, we swung farther south than reports indicate the Blood Witch’s fores operate. The hope was to pass unmolested. That did not happen, but all considered we did well.

I did take another opportunity to brief the team on appropriate behavior. So often just taking a moment to caution prevents later misunderstandings which can spiral out of control. I also pulled Softpaws as the forward scout, sending Gravelheart. Goblinesh we encounter may misunderstand her unwillingness to speak. I felt it better to keep her close.

White Stagg 33rd, 3127

Early in the morning, we head west again. Gravelheart was, I assume, distracted by thoughts of lunch because we walked right into an ambush. As it happened, Dominion bandits surrounded and attempted to rob our convoy. There was something indescribably funny about the situation. I have been waylaid many times. My Hammerfall unit stumbled into more than one Kal patrol. During my time with the Rangers, I have been ambushed by every imaginable villain. Abyss, I was once killed by assassins while standing in a command tent on the southern border of Shaya’Nor!

But, to have these, arguably, amateurs attempt to roll our unit was too absurd. I have no doubt Alpha Team could have cut through those “highwaymen” with little difficulty. However, I just could not see the value in wholesale slaughter. Yes, killing the bandits would have ended their depredation. Yet, we had no authority, save self preservation, and if I could end the altercation without unnecessary bloodshed, I intended to do so.

As luck would have it, I traveled with some fairly impressive and terrifying companions. Given the opportunity to reevaluate their course of action, their commander, the Red Bandit, saw the error of his ways and chose cooperation over confrontation. So, we agreed that rather than fighting, we would dine and drink together.

I am not a complete idiot, however. I post a watch on the wagon and ask the Explorer to shoot us some large game for dinner. Gravelheart prepares the spit, while Sir Mansfried and I dole out the ale purchased in Rhion. On the sly, I ask RFC Grimm to add a bit of flavor to the ale. Just enough to help our new friends into their cups. I must say, he performed most admirably. When the hunters returned with the Boar, we roasted and feasted. Everyone drank heavily.

Before bedding down, I pinned the wagon to the ground with my sword, erecting a barrier to prevent any of our new friends from allowing their avarice to overcome their good sense. As it happened, I needn’t have bothered. Grimm’s concoction worked to perfection.

Gray Winds 1st, 3127

In the morning, Alpha Team woke to two dozen dozing bandits. Mansfried’s ale, with a bit of help from Grimm, rendered the entire camp unconscious. I sincerely doubt any roused before noon. But, to be safe, we moved out quietly, letting them sleep of the drunk. By noon, we were miles away.

Some of the team commented on my choice of action. I pointed out that my Manor Home’s House Guard is commanded by Gendarre and his men who were formerly Prelacy Soldiers, bandits, and servants of Tempest. My Barony was defended by Sir Regillus and members of his Tempest Explorator legion. I welcomed them into my family. My wife is a Shayakar, and my brother in law a werewolf. Kill an enemy, you have one fewer enemies. Turn an enemy to a friend and you achieve the same, but then have one more ally.

The trek across the Northern Gathers was intense, but uneventful after that small interlude.

Gray Winds 11th, 3127

11 days later, we arrived at the foothills of the Black Mountains. During our turn north, we passed the hallowed ground were Grendel had been buried. I could see the great pall fall over the team at the reminder of his loss. As sad as his passing is, the devotion of him men proves his life was not in vain.

Gray Winds 12th, 3127

On the 12th, we arrived at the Arakk pass. At our best speed we were looking at a five day hike. Winter was setting in and at the best of times the crossing would be difficult. Under the conditions, nearly impossible. Worse, the Arakk pass had become hostile over the years. The Blood Witch’s forces were in the area, that much we knew. There were also Dwergs and Darkness creatures. Tempest. Bandits.

To make the crossing would require coordination, teamwork, and luck. I spread the team out, scouts and tails I took point. At some point, I expected an attack. I was right.

Gray Winds 13th, 3127

In the morning, with bone numbing cold setting in, we began our ascent. It took three days of pushing, pulling, and straining to get to the top of the pass. Given what I was asking my Rangers to achieve, I took it upon myself to push hard, remain on duty for the duration.

Gray Winds 15th, 31127

We reached the top. Damn it was cold. Light snow drifted down. Nothing stuck, but is sapped the strength from your bones. Near the 13th, I felt something approaching. An evil. Darkness.

Alpha Team are good. Top of their game. But the device took priority. So, I ordered Sergeant Sssahlissstaah to hold position while I engaged the enemy forces above us. Alpha Team instantly moved into position.

The horde grew closer. Leaving Thunder I hiked up the cliff on foot. When I reached a rocky plateau above our camp, I found a squad of dwergs and various other spawn of evil. A sizable party. I don’t believe they were hunting us in particular. Or perhaps they had some sense of the powerful magic of the device. Either way, they sensed my presence.

In the flickering shadows of my blade in the night, it was hard to get an exact count. At least a quarter had some form of invisibility. Best guess, some thirty all told.

I closed before they could take the advantage. Battle was brutal, and relatively swift. Unfortunately, I did not pay close enough attention to Alpha Team’s most recent missions or I might have made different choices. At some point, one of their casters hit me with entanglement and enfeeblement. Nasty spell, effective. I managed to throw it off, but the ruckus stirred up some nearby Wyverns. Storm variant.

One of them at least, went for the team on the pass. I could feel them, Blackstone’s channeling, the Explorer’s arcfire I pressed hard, cutting through the last of the arachnaurs, nasty half spider/half shayakar monsters.

From below, I could hear the battle with they wyvern. With a final blow, I dropped the dwerg commander and leaped down to support the team. As it happened, they did not require my assistance. The Explorer had already slain the beast with a single shot through the eye.

Unfortunately, the wyvern was crouched on top the wagon when it died. 15 feet and 1500 pounds of Storm wyvern corpse draped over our wagon and the device. Huh? It was unexpected,.

Fortunately, Softpaws and Blackstone had some idea of how to field dress and butcher the beast. However, when they tried to cut into the body, their blades couldn’t even scratch the surface. Only one blade could.

So, I spent the next five hours carving up a wyvern corpse with my father’s blade…

And, surprisingly, that was one of the most disgusting experiences of my life. Blood, gore and awful everywhere. And the stench. Oh Archanon the stench.

RFC Grimm, however, knelt in the pooling blood crying fat tears of joy. We would have finished an hour sooner had he not insisted on recording and taking samples of EVERYTHING. And I mean, EVERYTHING! Understand, I am also a student of the natural sciences. However, when I’m trying to get my exposed team off a mountain, my concerns are less with scientific curiosity, and more survival.

Gray Winds 16th, 3127

As dawn approached, the last of the wyvern was pushed off the ledge into the chasm below. We were all tired and hot, despite the chill. I was covered in blood and gore. Everyone else was in various states of distress. And then, the Explorer opened the wagon.

By the Ascended.

Every bit of run off that did NOT find its way over my chest and arms, or run off into the slurry of blood and snow, filled the wagon. There was now several hundred pounds of intestine, organ, meat, and offal filling the wagon, completely submerging the device in a red and black swamp of slurry. It was…unpleasant.

With great effort, I called all hands on deck as we bailed the butchering run off, by hand, out of the wagon. That moment will stay with me for many years, for a number of reasons.

Finally, we had reduced the level of filth. Nothing to be done about the stench.

I have seen great acts of heroism in my years of service, and each one left an indelible impression upon me. But, seeing the Explorer climb back into that wagon, sliding across the bloodsoaked boards to his perch guarding the device ranks as one of the more self sacrificing. It was as heartening as it was disturbing.

That done, we formed up and started down the back side of the pass. And there we were presented with yet a new horror. In addition to the stench, and for many of us, congealing blood, added to it was the high pitched, ear shattering shriek of the wagon’s breaks as Sssahlissstaah rode them down the pass for two days. One would think that prolonged exposure to the unpleasant odor and noise would render one immune. But, as it happens, over the course of the ride back down the mountains, the timbre and volume of the squealing breaks changed often enough to render it ever present. The odor, equally, continued to worsened, if such a thing can be comprehended.

There was little conversation those two days. And, as bad as it was for most of us, and it was inhumanly bad, the Explore bore the brunt. His fortitude in the face of such horrors is worthy of respect.

Over the next two days we suffered

Gray Winds 17th, 3127

Late on the 17th, we shrieked into Arakk. the Guardian orcs at the picket post were so overcome by our stench, that one of them was forced to empty his stomach into the nearby bushes. But, we were allowed to pass. Upon arriving at the Gather, the welcome party was equally offended and directed us to a nearby water source to douse ourselves. I relieved the Explorer, giving him first bath. I climbed into his personal hell, and quickly gained even more respect for the Builder.

In teams we bathed, washed the blood from our armor, and changed into fresher clothes. I was one of the last. The goblinesh of the Gather had generously offered lye soap and other means of cleaning. We even scrubbed out the wagon as best we could. When all was done, I met with the Mak Torkash. We were welcomed to the gather, and my Rangers ate well.

Gray Winds 18th, 3127

We broke our fast with our new Goblinesh allies, and rolled out before dawn. When we were clear, I paused for an update and informed the team that we would be skirting the Defiant Lands, a lawless, and dangerous region ruled in many parts by our adversaries. Once they were suitably warned, we followed the mountains north for three days, occasionally encountering ever more primitive orc warbands. But, save for one tense standoff, we passed through unmolested.

Grey Winds 20th. 3127

Late on the 3rd day, the 20th, Softpaws falls back to report riders approaching. Sure enough, 10 heavily armored stormfyre warriors crested the rise. I’m unsure if my relief showed as I rode forward to greet the Legio Heroes escort I had been expecting for the last day.

It was good to be in friendly territory.

Late that night, we arrived at the Legion Keep. We rolled the wagon into the palisaded camp at the base of the cliff. Well, I suppose it counts as a town now, at least a village. How it has grown in the last few months. Warriors from across Shaintar and beyond assembled for the common good. Damn inspiring.

I am still not fool enough to let my guard down, so I set a single rotating guard on the wagon, with the Explorer staying close by on his own volition. The others, I relieve of duty. They earned it. Everyone went to find food, ale, companionship, and baths.

My first stop, after rubbing down Thunder, was to find a washtub large enough for my horse, and sink into that for about a day. Once I was clean, I suited up and went to find the ground commander’s tent.

When I arrived, there was already an assemblage. Builders, Tinkers, Warriors, Legionnaires. They snapped to attention at my approach, but I waved them down, sat, and ate till I as full. Only then did I allow a situation report. As expected, all was in readiness for the following day.

Our best dwarven engineers and Builders had been busy constructing the crane that would haul the device up 300 feet to the Legion Keep above. Legion forces, and allies had assembled to defend the site, while a second force of 200+ Legionnaires were assembled to head off any assault. And we WOULD be attacked. Our enemies would not have missed the arrival of the device. The fact that they failed to catch us on the road I offer up to both good planning and fortune.

All was in readiness. So, I begged my leave and slept.

Grey Winds 21st, 3127

In the morning, I called the Alpha Team together and explained the operation. To Sergeant Sssahlissstaah I gave assignments. She sent the Explorer and Grimm up to the crane. She and Mansfried stayed below. Blackstone followed along, walking through the stone, with Softpaws and Gravelheart patrolling the switchback. Legion soldiers waited at every level, with more above and below. In the air, aevakar patrolled. We were as prepared as we could reasonable be.

With that, we rolled the wagon onto a lift, chained it down. Unhitched the draft horses. I took a post on the wagon. When all reported ready, I have the signal and the massive clockwork and arcfire crane began to laboriously lift the device into the air. As soon as we were clear, I tapped into the sword, my power, and my blood to erect a barrier around the platform. And there I sat for over 8 hours.

At dusk, I saw a flurry of activity below and the Legion column march north. On the horizon I could see a growing cyclone and the greenish glow of the Wild. They were coming. And all I could do was to sit.

At sunset, the Legion platform came into view and with a bone rattling clank, the guide chains hit the stops. Levers were thrown, gears ground, and arcfire generators shrieked. I felt the platform jerk, and then slide in toward the mountain. After another 10 minutes, the platform lowered gently to the ground…we had succeeded.

I dropped the shield as dwarves, tinkers, and Builders swarmed the platform. They dropped the chains, unbound the wagon, then tipped the platform till the wagon rolled onto a set of tracks.

It was the damdest thing. As I stood watching in wonder, they clamped the wagon to some clockwork engine, then fired up an arcfire generator and the wagon started rolling along the track under its own power!!!

What I could do with such if tracks were built between cities!

When the wagon reached the wall, a team of dwarven stonesingers opened a hole in the wall and the wagon rolled into the mountain. Behind them, the wall closed again and that was the end of it. I relieved my teams, and went to speak to Commander Garrus. He was in contact with a Legion farspeaker embedded with the troops. The battle had been intense, and the Legion company was preparing to withdraw, but once the device passed into the mountain, the storm fused Wild attacks lessened. Clearly, they had expected easier prey. Predictable.

Likely they had spies in the camp. It was all but inevitable.

By the 13th hour, the battle was done. We suffered 10 percent casualties, but retreated in good order.

With the device on its way to the Great Arc Gate, my teams off duty, the battle over, and the keep secured. I found my office, my bed.

Now I sleep.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Heroe’s Keep, Defiant Lands

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Possible Last Will and Testament of Gilbert Grimm
I Really Hope I Don't Die

We are currently resided in the Wolfhaven manor and I have to say that the craftsmanship is astonishing. Working with Blackstone I can tell that this entire manor was crafted by stone singers. Needless to say it is a good place to write one’s………. will. We’ve been tasked with escorting a high priority package to an undisclosed location, and with its nature I have no idea of where we are taking it. Wolfhaven and The Explorer seem very on edge and that is unsettling. We all know they are creatures from the fringes of our understandings and their knowledge of “our” world frightens me and when they are uneasy, maybe even afarid, we all should be. That is why I am writing this now because I cant help believe this may be my last time to.

So I’ll keep it short and sweet: Everything goes to my Mother and Sister.

Respectively,
RFC Gilbert Grimm

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RFC Ingrid Snow Personal Report
Familar Wolves

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

7th Day of White Stagg, Year 3127 Under the Light

White Stagg 7th, 3127

A request arrived on my desk. RFC Ingrid Snow, recently on Maternity Leave requested to speak with me concerning personal matter. Regional Headquarters informed me that Ingrid Snow, McKenzie Shan, AND Steelwing departed Echer’Naught on the 7th, heading north.

White Stagg 9th, 3127

Late on the 9th, my border watch signaled that the Rangers had arrived. Within the hour, they rode up into the courtyard. I was busy in the office, but my Baroness and the staff greeted the Rangers. We invited them to dine with us that evening.

We all dine the family dining hall. Echer’Naught’s recent misfortune, nearly all of our extended family had been relocated to the Barony. Only the Regillus’ and the Longtail’s remained in the city.

After dinner, we retired to a sitting room to discuss. I was aware that both Mrs. Snow and Mrs. Shan had been walking the paths, both had an affinity for animals. She sought my permission to select a Wolfhaven wolf as her familiar.

She is not the first who has come to our lands to seek out the wolves, but few are chosen. A few, over the years, have paid with their lives. Before she attempted her task, I felt it important to speak to her of the Legend of Wolfhaven. Every Great and Minor House have their own origin Legends and tales. And my own is little different.

Long before the founding of Olaran, the ancestors of the Wolfhaven House were scattered, loosely allied horse people, known as the ritter, or riders. They alternatively warred and traded with the elves of Landra’Feya, whose forest was many times larger.

However, when they reached the lands now known as the Wolfhaven lands, the ritter came into conflict with the large, intelligent wolves who preyed upon the horse herds of the ritter. For generations, wolves and man warred for the land. Centuries before the founding of Olara, one hunter, Chief among the Ritter, slew the largest and most dangerous pack of wolves, all but the Alpha male and female.

For days, the great hunter tracked the wolves deep into the forges to the north until he managed to wound the male. Yet, the wolves managed to escape. The hunter continued to track and realized that he was closing on the wolves. However, the female did not leave her wounded mate’s side.

Eventually, the great hunter cornered the wolves in a box canyon. When he reach them, he found the male near death, and the female standing over her mate. When the Ritter raised his spear, he looked into her eyes and saw a deep sadness, but intelligence, and wisdom.

The Ritter realized his terrible mistake and laid down his weapons. He retreated from the valley and returned to his people to tell them of his hunt, and the wolves. Soon, other Ritter lay down their weapons in order to live in peace with the wolves. And yes, some of their herds were taken, but only the sickest and weakest. By allows the wolves to cull the weak, the Ritter herds grew stronger, and better than any other clan.

One by one, the other horselords fell under the Ritter banner. When the Bear asked the riders of the west to join his battle against the Kal, the descendants of the great Ritter joined him. They fought, and won their independence. In recognition, they were granted the lands of their birth. So they would never forget, the Ritter named themselves Wolfhaven. It has been so ever since.

To this day, killing a wolf in my lands is a capital offense. And, there are legends that none who share my blood have ever been harmed by wolves. There are even older tales that suggest the wolves protect the lost children of my House, though I have never seen such.

It growing late, I note to Mrs. Snow that the white wolf on our banner is the one of legend. That she is rumored to still live, these many generations later. And, I told Mrs. Snow that if she desired to seek out the wolves, that she had my permission, but if she were attacked, killing a wolf in self defense would be no excuse. The penalty is death.

I retired with my great lady. Though, I gathered that Mrs. Snow was set on her task. She and the other rode out, to the west, where I had told her the larger packs hunt.

The rest, I learned the following day, after she and her family had returned.

Mrs. Shan, Mrs, Snow and their husband, Steelwing, rode out that evening shortly after I retired. They rode several hours to the west into the rolling grasslands where our great herds roam. At the 13th hour, they begin to hear the how of wolves, many of the packs calling in the night. Soon, they begin to see eyes glowing in the night.

A larger pack of about two dozen approached them, but staying far enough back to run. My House may not hunt them, but that does not mean they face no dangers. Mrs. Snow senses the two Alphas. Not Soulbright, but powerful in Life.

Wisely, she dismounted and lowered herself before the wolves. I instructed her to treat them as she would kings, and in doing, she likely preserved her own life and that of her wife and husband. The Alpha female approached to smell her.

Mrs. Snow, being a Druid, was able to speak with, and understand, the wolves. The Alpha idenfitied Ingrid as Grasslands who smell of storm, and Kenzie Bitter Flames. They would not approach Steelwing, which was just as good for him it seems.

Though the Alpha had no hunters to spare, she knew of one wolf that might help Ingrid. The pack moved off, but the Alpha led Ingrid, and only Ingrid north. A short distance away, the Alpha female stops to indicate a smaller grey wolf eating the carcass of a fresh kill. Here, the Alpha leaves.

Approaching as before, Ingrid introduces herself to the wolf, and asks the wolf to join her pack, to hunt. The grey was able to identify much of her team by the smells left on her clothes and gear. She even picked out my scent, which is known to the wolves. In truth, anyone of my bloodline.

The wolf calls herself Hunts Alone, and agreed to join Ingrid’s pack. Ingrid nicknamed her grey. They sleep together by the kill.

White Stagg 10th, 3127

In the morning, they return to Mrs. Shan and Steelwing. After which, they return to the manor in time to break their fast at my table. Sasha, nearly twice Grey’s size, was none too please by the interloper, but no blood was shed. Sasha is NOT from my lands, rather far to the north.

The three Rangers ate and spoke of their adventures. I congratulated her on her success, and welcome grey to the Rangers. It was only proper.

I invited the Rangers to stay, but Mrs. Shan and Steelwing were still on duty and need to return. After a brief repast, they all mounted, and returned to the city.

White Stagg 12th, 3127
My daily report included a note that the trio had returned safely, in the company of a grey wolf. I was pleased. Then to other duties.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Wofhaven Barony, Olara

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