Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Lanier, Kingdom of Camon
Nineteenth Day of Falling Ice, Year 3127 Under the Light
“War turns our convictions to mockery, our ideals to ash. It makes not just strange bedfellows, but our very righteousness to villainy.”
Gray Winds, 15th, 3126
My last eve in A’Davar was spent in deep council with Prince Morok ki Anzher, Emir of A’Davar. Already Asascha kes Murdov’s Maelstrom army encircled the city from the south, supported by the rear guard of Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s forces from the west. We had thought the besieging forces fell under command of Dair-Az Lorask ki Gult’s chief strategist, the traitorous Olaran, Dair-Kron Kirall. But lo, it was not.
A new villain, Dair-Endar Ragnar ki Marrik, holds the Kal banner.
I offered my services to the Prince, but cautioned that come Spring I would needs depart for Camon. Too many wars. He “politely” declined my invitation to stay. In truth, he chafed at the challenge to his authority I represented.
Nevertheless, I left the city not wholly unprotected. In addition to a large, 200+ contingent of my Wolfhaven Free Company Riders, I also left Lt. Magnus Cromwell, commander of Echer’Naught’s Delta Team in the theatre. At the time of my departure, however, Lt. Cromwell and his team were in the Defiant Lands working to harass the Kal supply lines in hopes of relieving pressure on A’Davar. My Free Riders performed much the same function against the Maelstrom.
I departed the 15th with a small, fast moving entourage and made my way quickly to the new Legion Castrum, the “Heroes Keep,” west of A’Davar.
Gray Winds 18th. 3126
We arrived less than three days later after a hard ride, averaging just under 100 miles per day over rough and open terrain. The keep is a ruin, little more than an organized pile of stone. But it was once the powerful stronghold of a local Warlord. Just within the Elven lands, it is under their protection, but close enough to the Defiant Lands for Legio Heroes patrols to keep watch.
Already Builders and engineers work feverishly to rebuilt what was lost. However, as it serves as but a gateway, our focus will be on a tight defense system, rather than supplying a massive garrison. That…will be built elsewhere (see Lady Christina Highwind report).
We departed the 19th, making our way through the Aralon forest, and then east to Kolfis.
Gray Winds 20th, 3126
In Kolfis, I met with Fekla and Grimbore’s people who welcomed me. From there, we followed the lake road to Grol, then cut across, and through the Evershade forest, to Rool.
Gray Winds 23rd, 3126
My son has made great progress with the gather of Rool. They have rooted our and destroyed the corrupting influence of the Blood Witch. And, in their triumph, they have liberated Erlg as well. Along with Sog, Rool counts for the two strongest Ranger outposts in the Northern Gathers. With hope, more will soon join.
We departed on the 24th, and rode hard east, crossing the Shanais River and arriving late on the 26th in Tirene. There, I met with Captain Helt and Avaron of the 3rd and 4th Companies respectively. Also, I was pleased that Sergeant Murvoth, 1st Silver Paladin had arrived with a company of Silver Paladins. So too Captain Neverrare of the Black Company of Cavaliers. Maric Ordal, himself, represented the River Trade Coalition.
All told, we assembled a composite force of over 1500 wolves, mercenaries, RTC marines, cavaliers, Silver Paladins, The Golden Gryphons, The Riders of the Light, and allies. Though, with the winter snows assembling the columns of men and horse took weeks.
Falling Ice 7th, 3127
At long last, our forces were assembled. The new “Bishop” of Tirene declined to commit forces. Though, former Captain Leurant, recently raised to Commander for his actions at Tirene, was leading a battalion of Prelacy troops from Zyel. All while Captain Fyrforg and 1st and 2nd companies of the White Silver Wolves shadowed the 1st glorious Host of the Southern Blades.
All forces converged on Lanier. We marched out early on the 7th of Falling Ice.
Falling Ice 11th, 3127
Our column marched north along the river road toward Lanier. Four days into our march, and about two days from our staging point for Lanier, messengers arrived from Captain Fyrforg…
…the First Host had ambushed Commander Leurant’s forces at their camp two days south east of Lanier.
I immediately took my command element and a contingent of guards from the Silver Paladins, and 3rd and 4th Companies of the White Silver Wolves. We crossed the Shanais River via RTC boats, and marched hard through the edge of the Hart Woods. The stench of darkness permeated everything, but the Prelacy had done their job burning out the corruption.
Falling Ice 14th, 3127
We reached the Red River mid-day on the 14th. Already on the far shore we could see flocks of black winged crows circling. I ordered our troops across. The water was bitterly cold, and swollen from the thaws, but the troops made the far side in good order. A few clever troops rigged up pulleys and ropes to ferry the heavier troops across.
We reached the far side and crested the rise to find a vast field of carnage; a two mile battle front littered with corpses. Those fools…those thrice damned fools.
So consumed with vengeance that they would destroyed themselves in the face of OBLIVION! Damn them. Damn them all to the fires of the Abyss and the cold, dark void that is the Nether. They would rather settle their petty feud than face the threat of oblivion. Darkness cares not one WHIT who wins this squabble. Every life lost in this pathetic pissing match is one more soldier for the undead hordes.
Damn their eyes!
We left the carrion to their work as there was little else we could do. Two dozen men could not burn or bury a field of thousands, so we turned away and returned to our army.
Falling Ice 17th, 3126
Three days later, we rejoined the column who had already set up camp on the western banks of Deer Lake. As we approached, I saw the orderly rows of tents, the campfires dotting the banks. Men worked, laughed, and groused in turn. All too familiar.
My escort broke off to find their own camps, while the commanders rode to the command pavilion. Already, scribes copied and prepared reports. Scouts hurried in and out. Over it all, Captain Fyrforg watched with grizzled vigilance. Battle was joined.
After washing and changing, I listened to the reports. It was much as I expected.
Shaya’Nor’s forces were well entrenched. Already our forward scouts skirmished with their outer lines. From aerial recon, the enemy force numbered upwards of 10 times out number. However, the overwhelming majority of the enemy forces were undead hordes. Troubling in such numbers, but hardly elite troops. However, the core of the army were all experienced Shayakar, Vampires, Werewolves, Troglanesh, and Dwergs. Even this core outnumbered ours by a factor of three.
Fortunately, it appeared as if Shaya’Nor neglected to alter the physical layout of the city overmuch, meaning our pre-occupation maps were generally correct. Spies had long since provided exacting detail on the city’s defenses and weaknesses. However, losing both armies of the Prelacy and the First Host limited options. Conventional wisdom dictates that to take an entrenched position you require ten times the number of the defenders. Our numbers were exactly inverse. Of course, more keeps fall to treachery than siege. Unlikely in the case of Darkness. And, it is next to impossible to starve out an army who can quite literally let their army die…then raise them later for battle.
More to the point, the only reason Lanier’s forces had not attacked our meager forces was that Darkness feared I had something clever planned. This time, however, there were no tricks. No sudden reinforcements. With my numbers, the enemy well entrenched, Lanier could not be taken…
…but it COULD be destroyed. Utterly.
Now, to choose who would die.
Falling Ice 18th, 3127
In the morning, I called the commanders to my tent. I explained that we could not besiege the castle with out numbers, and we could not take it by force. Our only choice to was to use our most powerful warriors to strike at a series of key location in the city while our larger forces made a show of force. Most of the commanders disagreed. But Rourak stood with me. As did Murvoth. A few others. In the end, I was appointed overall commander, and so they followed orders. We would attack.
Based on previous reports, my siegemaster, “Whit”, had identified the most vulnerable points in Lanier’s defenses. My mages, druids, and priests located the weakest points in the enemy warding across the city. With this information in hand, we selected thirteen elite commanders to lead strike teams into the city. Each team consisted of an elite to serve as commander and decoy, combat unit, and sapper team. The teams would be teleported into the city at the safest locations near the weak points. There, they elite and combat teams would make their way toward their assigned targets. If resistance grew too fierce, the elites were to draw enemy forces away from the strike teams toward the center of the city. Meanwhile, the combat teams would cut their way to the targets, opening a path for the sappers to set their arcfire charges and breach the reinforced defenses.
It was suicide. Most of the teams would die. And even were they successful, the assaulting forces would be walking into a charnel house of horrors. But IF the teams made it to their assigned targets, and IF the sappers had enough punch to blow holes in the magic walls, and IF the assault forces could carry the fight to the very heart of the citadel…I could burn out the black heart of that accursed mausoleum.
If you had suggested to me four years ago that I would even consider using the Mad Bomber’s infernal devices, abominations that had taken the lives of my friends, family, and countrymen, I would have called you mad. and yet, I was prepared to sacrifice countless lives just to buy the time to do just that. Yesterday’s terror is today’s salvation.
Once the strike leaders were chosen, I sent them out to seek volunteers. I would never order a man to die needlessly. This mission must be voluntary. And so, by mid day, 200 sacrificial lambs stood in my tent. I attempted to be inspiring, but my words sounded hollow to my own ears. Still, they never balked, never retreated. Even with their lives on the line, to a man they stood firm.
Courage in the face of oblivion. How often have so few with such strength staved off annihilation. How many more times must they be asked to sacrifice all?!
The teams were given the afternoon to put their affairs together. To drink, to eat, to reflect, to pray, or just sleep.
For me there was no such rest. I allowed myself only a private moment to speak with Lady Elyanna. How many moments had I stolen before battle? How many times must I say goodbye, fearing it might be the last?
By eve the forces were assembled. As the strike teams gathered in the teleportation circles, the remaining forces began their assault on the western walls of the Lanier. Great siege engines hurled stones the size of ships against the walls only to watch them shatter harmlessly. Druids called forth terrible earthquakes, but the walls barely shook. Aevakar took the skies only to face their black winged counterparts. Men died, then were razed to kill their brothers.
The carnage was…unspeakable.
How much worse for the teams. Each was transported alone into an enemy city. Cut off, they were immediately attacked, hunted, and picked off. Of the 13 teams, just over half reached their targets. Of those, only a handful survived. None of the sappers lived. They knew the risks. Every man stood over his bomb, holding the line until their lives were ripped apart in cleansing fire.
I watched from a ridgeline south of city. My armies slammed into the west wall. Strike teams tore holes through impenetrable walls. Everywhere heroes died…
The lake gate blew, and the RTC marines advanced. And I waited and watched them die…
And then, the signal. Druids summoned the earth, and spirits answered. A bridge of pure stone rose creating a bridge. Even before the waters parted, Korash charged forward, enemy spells exploding around him like some kind of light display. Behind him the cavalry thundered like a spear to the heart of Lanier. At the van, Thunder….
We passed the gate, smashed like a child’s toy. Beneath the rubble White Silver Wolves.. alive? dead? worse?
Behind the horse, the Reking Kru, shields up marched in lock step…
…and behind them death…the destroyer of worlds.
Archons, Archmages, and High Druids burned and died, but we swept the enemy horde before us like some avenging force. We pushed them back to their dark citadel, a profane mockery. There, liches, ancient vampires, werewolve lords, and unspeakable horrors fell upon us like ash raining from the burning skies. They refused to give us the city…but only too late realized that we were never there to take it…but to burn it to the ground.
Hundreds volunteered to hold the rear. Hundreds volunteered to die. I stood in the conflagration as the arcfire did its work. Fire and magic in an unstoppable inferno ripped through the city sending shockwaves for miles ripping through what survived the battles. And in their death, the spells fell. With each collapsed ward, each ritual snuffed out like a candle, our druids went to work. The very earth rebelled, rising in waves. Walls bend and flexed, shattering like pottery.
As I watched Lanier died.
Though it seemed an eternity, the battle last only a few hours. And then, it was over and the city was little more than burning rubble. Once graceful towers topped, walls piles of shattered stone. We razed Lanier to the ground and burned out the corruption with arcfire.
Falling Ice 19th, 3127
Of the 1500 men who marched into that conflagration, fewer than 600 marched out alive. Close to 1000 men and women, heroes, burned on the pyre of Lanier for Kingdom not their own. As dawn rose on the 19th, I stood amidst the destruction, breathing in the ash. How can such sacrifice be justified? How can I continue to ask others to die for my hubris? Yes, I won. Darkness has been expelled from Lanier, but at what cost?!
Already word spreads of our victory here. Rumors say that claimants to the throne of Camon, blood relations to the last king, are already sprouting like flowers in spring. But all I see is endless death and destruction knowing always the next battle will come, and more heroes will willingly answer the call only to be buried like these.
Victory is ours as this pile of ash and bone.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel