Shaintar_Legends Awaken_Rangers at Large

Quest for the Throne
Coronation of Avalar I

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

Camondel, Camon

Red Wolf 1st, 3127, Year 3126 Under the Light

On Raining Leaves 24th, 3125, the Southern Blades crossed the Southern Rangers to take the Prelacy capital of Camondel, breaking the Church of Archanon’s century’s old stranglehold on the throne of the Camon. With liberation at hand, the Blades asked interim Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face, to sit upon the throne of Camon while they engage in a desperate search for an heir to the last King Warwick Travane. Then Darkness struck.

For over a year Camon has been a brutal war zone with the Blades and Church of Archanon battling for the east, while a three way war among Darkness, the Prelacy, and the White Silver Wolves has devastated the west. Only the south of Camon, below the Southern Rangers has remained relatively untouched, and staunchly behind the Church of Archanon. But, the Southern Blades successfully crossed the Wolfhead Mountains and joined the Cavaliers of Camon, breaking out across the Faraway River. Marching west, the Glorious First Host of the Southern Blades finally flanked the Prelacy forces and attacked on the field east of Lanier. Meanwhile, the White Silver Wolves and Prelacy forces pushed Darkness from the border of Olara north to the walls of Lanier.

There, through tremendous loss of life, the White Silver Wolves sacked Lanier, on Falling Ice 18th, 3127, and scattered the last forces of Shaya’Nor. Before the pyres even cooled, the Southern Blades declared victory and announced their claimant for the throne, Mereena Avalar. Immediately, the Prelacy revealed their own claimant, Captain Leurant. Even as the Blades and Prelacy forces prepared to launch another bloody battle, a third claimant arrived, Viscount Tramelor, surrounded by a thousand strong force of Camonere citizens.

With all sides on the verge of mutual annihilation, I requested that Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face host a summit in the fields outside the ruins of Lanier. On the 34th of Falling Ice 3127, the representatives of the Southern Blades, the Houses of Camon, the remnants of the Church of Archanon, the commanders of the White Silver Wolves and allies, and the people of Camon held a Council of Lanier to choose TRUE King or Queen of Camon.

Claimants:

Mereena Avalar, Priest of Light
Faction: Southern Blades
Mereena Avalor was born in North Point, Galea to a family of fishermen. The youngest of a dozen children, Mereena’s family sent her to the Church of Light in Archanya to receive an education. Sadly, Mereena’s family were drowned at sea during the Tempest invasion, leaving Mereena an orphan. She was raised in the Church, officially gaining rank of Novitiate upon her 14th nameday…a few days before Lanier fell. Mereena’s supporters claim that her ancestor was a cousin to King Warwick Travane’s aunt who sought sanctuary in Galea during Purification Mandate. Supported by the crown of Galea, the Southern Blades presented detailed, if convoluted, ascestry records.
Despite showing a gift for academia and the arts of intelligentsia, her opponents claim that Novitiate Avalar is too young, too inexperienced, and merely a pawn of the Southern Blades.

Captain Eric Leurant, Crusader of Archanon
Faction: Prelacy of Camon, Church of Archanon
Hero of Tirene, commander, and warrior, Captain Leurant rose to prominence after the fall of Camondel to the Southern Blades in 3125. Despite centuries of loyal service to the Church of Archanon, the Leurant family has always been suspect to the Grand Archcardinal for suspected relation to the last King Warwick Travane. To survive the Purification Mandate and the subsequent spat of political assassinations, the Leurant family dedicted themselves to the cause of the Prelacy. For their service, they were allowed to live. Now, with the crown of Camon empty, the Church of Archanon turns to those they once despised…and the Leurant family, ever loyal, revealed ancient writs of royalty kept safe for centuries.
Despite being an accomplished leader and warrior, Captain Leurant’s opponents refuse to allow the Church of Archanon to hold the throne.

Viscount Tramelor of the House of Shael
Faction: People of Camon
Viscount Tramelor has a stronger claim to the throne than Priestess Avalar, and more popular support than Captain Leurant, but he is a Malakaran. Tramelor’s ancestors left Camon a generation before the death of King Warwick Travane. His claim comes from an illegitimate child begot by King Travane’s father whose family fled to the Dominion. Their descendants settled within the lands claimed by House Shael. Through cunning, guile, and coin Viscount Tramelor’s great grandfather purchased a title and the family fortunes have risen since that day. Whether sensing opportunity, or a genuine respect for Camonere descent, the Tramelor’s have long supported the Cavaliers of Camon’s efforts against the Church. More recently, during the war against the Southern Blades, and the invasion of Darkness, Viscount Tramelor has accepted thousands of refugees fleeing the series of wars. As the White Silver Wolves pushed back the shadow of Darkness from the land, Viscount Tramelor has helped many displaced Camonere rebuild their shattered lives…for a reasonable price.
Despite having great political and economic experienced, the Viscount’s opponents suspect Tramelor’s claim to be fake, an attempt by the Dominion, or Red Store, to gain control of the Kingdom of Camon.

By superior vote of the Council of Lanier, with the blessings of Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face, Lady Avalar shall ascend to the Throne of Camon this year, 3127, Planting Moons 33rd, when Unidar, Diadar, and Liadar are full.

Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face cordially invites the Houses of Camon, the Church, and Allies to attend the Magnificent Coronation of Queen Avalar I.
~Council of Lanier

For a month, I labored to hold together the fragile coalition of competing personalities, conflicting agenda, and bitter enemies that comprised the leading factions of Camon. The Southern Blades have been insufferable forcing me to post guards just to ensure they did not turn an attack the Prelacy representatives. I have lost count how many times the Blades grabbed for their…blades. As for the Church of Archanon, their honeyed words dripped with thinly veiled disgust, usually leveled at the Priests of Light. Who, in turn, campaigned daily against the affront of treating with the Prelacy’s Paladins. Were it not for the strength and perseverance of Lady Viviane, the entire enterprise would have failed. And even there, I made little headway in bringing Camon closer to the Southern Kingdoms. Unification is a bridge too far.

Odd enough, Viscount Tramelor’s service was undeniable. Despite losing the Crown, he nevertheless worked tirelessly to facilitate negotiations. Without his skill, I fear this day might never have arrived. I am renown for lacking political acumen. I leave such battles to my wife. So too, despite the general contempt of the Prelacy representatives, Captain Leurant proved invaluable. On more than one occasion, he threatened violence against his own people to keep them at the table.

Still we managed to prevent open war, and decamp the three armies, each taking a different, well coordinated routes through the various occupied territories. I doubt this is how any imagined they would march into Camondel. The Blades bristle at the horror of working WITH the Church of Archanon. The Prelacy recoils each time they see non-humans, or magic users. As we rode into the ruins of Camondel, I wondered what each was thinking.

Planting Moons 32nd, 3127

Early on the 32nd, I summoned all the volunteers in the Camondel Citadel courtyard. I detest such theatrics, but they have their place. I recall the chill morning assembly my first day at the Helt Academy. Even years after, I can still feel the domineering gaze of those knights boring into my soul. All told, a bit over 1000 men and women passed the approval process. Due to the high stakes of failure, the Council established very strict protocols. Even the resident Paladins and Crusaders consented to being scanned by Adepts. That and a rigorous background check. Even with that, I hardly slept for fear of saboteurs and assassins. Along with Captain Leurant and Viscount Tramelor, we hardly left the Queen select’s side.

When the volunteers were all formed in the Prelacy’s former Citadel in the pre-dawn mist, I took the parade stand and addressed the crowd. I welcomed them all and explained that their singular goal was to prevent bloodshed. They were forbidden from using lethal force unless lethal force was directly applied to them. The city was an alchemists most volatile concoction waiting for the smallest spark to set everything ablaze. Once the security briefing was done, I dismissed them to break up into individual teams. The operation as huge, with hundreds of teams operating throughout the city. We spent weeks establishing every detail of the chain of command so that no one felt they were being overlooked or cut out. It was exhausting, but the hard work finally paid off.

The teams were given the night of 32nd to gather and bond. Many had been mortal enemies, hours before. We felt they needed some time to adjust. Once they returned, individual Sergeants briefed each of their won teams on specific assignments. I spent the evening of the 32nd going over each aspect of the Queen’s trip from her borrowed Mansion, through the southern portion of the city, to the Cathedral. A dress rehearsal and security briefing. Then another examination of her final route from the Cathedral to the Palace for her ascension to the throne. I slept not a wink the entire night. And, I new as soon as the Queen was crowned, I had a long trip west to the Heroe’s Keep to face was awaited me there.

I longed for Echer’Naught, my home…my wife.

Planting Moons 33rd, 3127
Coronation Day

The day was an unmitigated nightmare. Most of the city bore scars from the war. Only a small portion had been reconstructed over the past year, what with the war ongoing. I was not involved with the “on the ground” operations, but I would hear the reports roll in. Petty theft, assaults, drunkenness, rioting, missing person, arson…the list went on. With each report I cringed, fearing that this would be the spark to ignite the conflagtation.

But, the Queen select Mereena Avalar I rose from her quiet contemplation, dressed, and departed her manse an hour before dawn without issue. The route was already thronged by onlookers, Guards had to shove the crowds back at sword point to move through congested streets. The parade was toruously slow. My skin crawled expecting an assassin’s bolt to appear from every roof, every window, every shadow. But, by late morning, we approached the high peaks of the Grande Cathedral. Within, safety.

And that is when everything went wrong. A commotion behind our troupe drew my attention. There, a bloody dwarf was shouting and pointing. I didn’t recognize him, but I knew his tabard. One of my guard. I followed his finger and caught the glint of an assassin’s knife. One of the Queen’s new handmaids was rushing her horse, I managed to turn, drawn, and cut down the attacker in the close quarters. Regeant Viviane’s men moved quickly, surrounding the queen and spurring her toward the open gates of the Cathedral. Already, guards were pouring out to form a cordon.

Then a blurr bounded over the heads of the crowds to my left, literally leapfrogging. At first I feared a second assassin, but it was Torik, the goblin scout. He was one of my Wolves and he was headed right for the Queen. Shock turned to fear as he loosed a trio of Nazatiran spiked at her, but then I realized he was striking her horse, causing it to falter. Torik hit the Queen full force, his small body toppling the wounded mount. At that moment, Captain Leurant threw himself between the Queen an assassin’s bolt from one of the Cathedral’s towers…

I shouted at Torik and the dwarf, Drovik, to hunt down the assassin. Their entire team appeared and charged after the killer.

In the confusion, the queens managed to escort the Queen inside, and Leurant to the healers. The Queen was shaken and bruised, but unharmed.

Once I was certain she was safe, I rode hard for the south-east tower as explosions ripped through the city. There, I found the rest of Fuller’s team standing over the body of the assassin, riddled with Torik’s spikes. More guards appeared and took the body into custody. Fuller’s team looked shot to hell, bleeding and tired. But they were the best thing I had seen all day. Again all odds, my men had protected the Queen and, literally, saved Camon.

Before he died, the assassin triggered massive explosions. Likely to cover his escape. Fuller’s team joined the efforts to rescue wounded civilians, and to secure the streets.

Later in the eve, once the roads were cleared, the Queen asked to speak with her saviors. In her private chambers, she invited Fuller’s team to join her personal guard. From there, they escorted the Queen from the Cathedral to the Palace where the Heart of the Light, from the Church of Light, set the crown upon her head. And the AarchCaridnal of the Church of Archanon, placed the scepter of authority in her hand. With that, she was crowned Mereena Avalar I, Queen of Camon.

With the coronation over, a feast was help, Fuller’s team joined as guests of honor.

I ate, congratulated my team and offered them positions in either the Rangers or the White Silver Wolves. But, by the 13th, I excused myself, met with Eve outside the city, and stepped through time and space. I had other battles.

Addendum:

I have recieved reports on the activies of Fuller’s Guard Unit and have pieced together what I believe are a connected series of events.

Led by the dwarf Fuller, the team consisted of the dwarf Drovik, the human Tal’Car from Echer’Naught, the goblin Torik, and the goblin Zathras. Lastly, the former Crusader of Archanon, Leon.

  • Fuller
  • Drovik
  • Tal’Car
  • Torik
  • Zathras
  • Leon

Before dawn on the day of the Coronation, an alarm is sounded in a local inn where Paladins of Archanon and Paladins of Light are about to come to blows. Fuller’s team managed to diffuse the situation without bloodshed.

On the way to the Palace for patrol, they hear fire alarms sound, and rush to find the palace stables ablaze. After putting out the fire, they investigated. The fire was started by an overturned lantern. We still do not know if the act was accidental or deliberate.

After breakfast, the castle Bailiff summoned the team. A young page had been arrested for stealing a staff uniform. They found the boy in the dungeon, but he claimed he was delivering the laundry to the page’s room, and the count came up one short. He blamed the Laundry. But, when the team investigated the launderer, she claiming knowing nothing. Her counts were accurate. He tells them and the Bailiff to go stuff it. After retracing the page’s steps, they determine that he was likely robbed while navigating the busy castle halls, but since they have no proof, he must remain in prison.

A short time later, the team’s brunch is interrupted when the Bailiff sends the team to the Castle kitchens because the Camonere chef claims one of his Southern staffer failed to show. They ask around and find the boy’s address. When the team arrived in the warren, they discover a locked second story room. One let inside by the landlady, everything seems normal…

…until they find two bodies stuffed into the chimney.

They appear to be the missing Kitchen boy…and a young maid in her shift. The landlord informs her that she is a handmaid to the new Queen, recently appointed. And that she was beau of the young kitchen worker.
A soon as the team steps out to warn the Queen’s guard, assassin’s attack.

Leon shouts to some to warn the queen while the others hold off the assassins. Only Drovik makes it free. Wounded and winded, he manages to reach the parade route just as the Queen reached the Cathedral. Drovik managed to get my attention and along with Torik thwarted the assassination. The rest is a matter of report.

However, we still do not know the identity of the assassins. Their kit was a mix of Prelacy Paladin and Xaos arms. Though, they appear to have been hired locals. The blades accuse the Prelacy. The Prelacy accuses the Blades. I, for one, believe that the origin of this plot lies outside our Realm, but no one would take that seriously. Across the map it seems as if our enemies attempt to destabilize us, divide us, weaken us.

I have turned over the evidence to those better equipped to deal with such matters. Time will tell who is right.

Your most obedient servant,

Commander Wolfhaven

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The Legend of Rysak Ironblood the Mighty Defender
A ballad by: Montigue the Magnificent

The Legend of Rysak Ironblood the Mighty Defender
A ballad by: Montigue the Magnificent

There once was a small small man
That was brawny and rugged where he stand
This was Rysak the Defender
A man that wouldn’t surrender
For he always had a plan.

He lead a group of zeroes
To a path to become great heroes
By defending a place they called home

They jumped through a portal
To a strange place to the mortals
For no one had ever been here

They all marched onward
For they were to be stronger
For mighty quest they had ahead

Rysak the Mighty
Did stuff quite rightly
Reuniting a family for sure

He was given grim news
As the sky frooze (fr-ooze)
For an evil sorcerer plagued this land

There wasn’t much traction
For Rysak was ready for action
Leading his troops to war.

They stormed the enemy keep
Crushing the Wild under their feet
Coming right up to their door.

But soon the field got covered in mist
The tower getting destroyed by the Tempest
As the heroes got transported home.

But they were not alone
As the thousands of tempest and wild followed
But Rysak way confident they had this.

They defended the keep
But with the Mighty Wolfhaven in too deep
He soon got over run.

He was being held down
As a flying lizard aimed for his crown
Throwing a spear of destruction

But Rysak saw what was happening
For he saw the trappening
Leaping forward to save his friend

The field was covered in dust
But when it was cleared like it must
Rysak was nowhere to be seen

The Mighty Wolfhaven
With help from Rysak’s men
Slew and cleared out the keep

Now with great pride
We continue to stride
Because of the honorable sacrifice that was made

So whenever you sleep
Remember who defended the keep
For it was Rysak Ironblood the Defender and Brave

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Field Report #1 Montigue the Mighty. The Battle to Defend the Legion’s Keep.

Montigue the Magnificent

It was a simple job. A group of Mercenaries, I presume, and I were to deliver a noble from point a to point B and be done. That quickly change and we are arriving to keep. Our quiet night quickly got busy when a large group of war hurt survivors arrived. We were quickly put to work at the Legio Hero’s keep to do what we could to help. Once we finished, we were called into the commanders office and were basically recruited to be Legionnaires and given a deadly quest. We were given time to leave anything behind for our kin, in which I cut a patch of my vest where gold stitched M was that was to be sent to my dad or better known as the high priest of my village. Once personal matters were sorted, we went through an arch-fire gate (close your eyes unless you wanna be blinded by that light and ouch) and we’re transported to a new land none of us have ever seen. We met up with more of the legion in which I was appointed to be the emissary for our quest. We were given rings and transported to a cold blizzard plagued land. We met with the leader of Caledonia, Sir Marion Thrace, whom we delivered a message. We were given another message. They did a finger movement and something about Trinity before we left, and I assumed it was for luck or respect so I did my best to mimic it. (I wish I could go back and learn more of their culture). Once we finished we went out and fought a group of the Wild (we lost our brinchie, but he was a dog for some reason and I took his ring as we were instructed) before meeting with her son and deliver the message. We soon returned, reuniting the family. Afterwards we were informed about an evil sorcerer so the party went out to hunt them down. We made it to the tower, killing the wild as we charged in, but it was destroyed as The Tempest user a thick mist to transport is home. We were by the original keep that housed the portal we went through originally, but thousands of Tempest and Wild were coming to storm us. We braced the keep, getting everything ready for war. Wolfhaven joined us in our battle was as held down by hundreds of the Wild. As he was being held down Rysak leaped forward, pushing him out of the way before the field was covered in dust. When it settled nothing of Rysak was there at all, he disappeared all together. Wolfhaven charges forward killing Wild with each step before grabbing the massive green glowing spear and hurling it back at the beast who threw it, a massive winged lizard guy and when it struck him he disintegrated. We soon all cleared out the keep. Once we finished we moved the dead, healed the wounded and got some well needed rest. I wrote “The Legend of Rysak Ironblood the Mighty Defender” in which a copy is attached to this report that I’m hand delivering to Wolfhaven himself before preforming it for the troops, drinking, and indulging myself in any other thing I like as I take a much needed rest after all that happened. I’m planning on sticking around for a little bit, not having to preform for a roof and being able to help out the people who battled with me seems like a plan for me, at least for now.

Sincerely,
Legionnaire Montigue the Magnificent

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Legio Heroes Field Report 1
Wild Storm

Commander Wolfhaven, Alexander, Legio Heroes

Heroes’ Keep, Defiant Lands

Ninth Day of Red Wolf, Year 3127 Under the Light

War is two men trapped in a house, both trying to burn the other man out. In the end, all you have left are death and ash. To what end?

Planting Moons 1st, 3127

Late in the eve on the first of Planting Moons I found myself in the most unusual of places. Being the largest and most convenient location to establish governance, the Southern Blades had established their headquarters and provisional government in the former center of power for the Church of Archanon. Convenience aside, I imagine there was a dash of smug superiority or self righteous justice to the plan. Still, despite the damage sustained during the Crimson Crusade Conclusion, the palaces and adminstravice complexes were more than ample to accommodate the Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face and her Provisional council.

In fact, the eve upon which I received word of Alpha Team’s recovery I found myself sitting at a writing desk, in the former office of the Cardinal of Judgement (His Excellency, Harken Lorre). Strange times. Five years ago. Three? If you had even suggested such an oddity I would have thought you mad. If experience has taught me anything, it is that we can never truly know what our future might bring. And that night, providence brought me the much relieving news that Alpha Team had been found, though much the worse for wear. Where? Bobbing in a boat suffering from exposure, dehydration and wounds sustained from their previous battles…somewhere in the Jewels. Over 500 miles from where we believe the smuggler’s ship was sunk…

However, they were not alone. As near as I can comprehend, after the Kal Winghunters sank the Malakaran smuggler/slaver ship, Alpha Team drifted into or through the Veil, or some artifice of design. I can only surmise the work of greater beings for rather than drown, they were washed upon some distant shore. Not of this Realm. In that place beyond the Veil, they witnessed the razing of a coastal keep. A lone survivor rode for the shore, and encountered the team on the beach, just having survived near drowning. He was being pursued by those forces that had just destroyed his fortress and slaughtered the defenders. Curioser, this strange man, in another Realm, carried with him a crudely reproduced facsimile of my own House Crest…

Upon hearing this news, I was as shocked, confused, and dumbfounded as my Alpha Team must have been at that moment. However, they had no time to consider for at that very moment, the enemy which had only just destroyed his allies poured onto the beach after them. They ran, rode, and scampered to a nearby boat, and just managed to launch it to sea before the horde overran their position. Once relatively safe, the man addressed the Rangers, speaking, amazingly, in their own tongue. It seemed as if by magic.

He introduced himself as Marcus Regillus… The name struck me dumb upon hearing. Could it be? Could one of Anaxelum’s kin have found the Rangers on some distant Realm’s shore? It seemed to coincidental to be true. And yet, I have come to trust in the providence of fate.

The Rangers drifted for a time, how long, even they knew not. Only to be found, drifting on the open oceans hundreds of miles west of whence they vanished by Steelwing’s flotilla. As soon as he regained his senses, this strange warrior, Marcus Regillus, begged to speak with the Great Wolf. It was believed he meant me. Fortune would have it that Captain Roberts employed a Farspeaker who was kind enough to relay this message through Lady Moonsilver in Echer’Naught, to me.

Marcus Regillus’ warning was clear. The enemy was coming. The Wild. From Caladonia. His god, or goddess, Trinity compelled him to seek me out. He/she/it also prophesied that he would meet my emissaries on that lonely coast. For weeks he had waited in the nearby keep, taking shelter from the encroaching Warlock/Wilds forces. On the aforementioned day, the Wild struck, destroying the keep and slaughtering the defenders. In desperation, Marcus Regillus fled to the coast, and the boat that had remained beached there waiting for the emissaries from our Realm. What divine intervention must be at work for the Alpha Team, fleeing from their own defeat, to wash up on that very shore.

I know not when this happened, for I know little of their world. And, as events unfolded, I had little time to satiate my curiosity. Marcus Regillus had risked all, left his own forces, and crossed that wide, mysterious barrier between Realms to warn me that the Warlocks had discovered Shaintar. And, these Wild creatures were empowered by some even darker force, the very power of the elements. Tempest.

My great fear, that constant ache in my chest since my experiences on the first Jubilation day swelled till I was nigh overcome. A month and sixteen days shy of four years, by Archanon has it been just four years?, I stood in the Tempest patchwork pocket Realm and faced down the terror of Tempest. We prevailed, at great cost, but I understood then that there were places more fantastical that I could ever dream. Over these years my suspicions have been confirmed, as have my trepidation. These places, these Realms are largely dangerous and hungry for conquest. Though there are no doubt allies even on hostile shores, men as Marcus, Shaintar will find little welcome the grand continuum that encompasses these Realms.

Tempest is coming. Again. And they have gained knowledge, power, and new forces with which to devour my home.

By the time Marcus Regillus’ warning reached me that evening, already work was nearing completion on the Heroes’ Keep in the Defiant Lands, but it was weakly stationed and poorly provisioned. Even as I labored to secure and sheppard the delicate negotiations around the Coronation event on the 33rd of this month, Planting Moons, to prevent the Kingdom of Camon devolving into another pointless war, I began dispatching desperate orders that all Legionnaires within the region be diverted to the Keep. I also penned orders provisioned money for supplies to be delivered. Admittedly the cost was staggering, but if Marcus’ dire warning was to be believed, coin was but a small price to pay to forestall the destruction of Shaintar!

Still, I was forced to remain. My departure from Camon would have signaled a weakness on the part of our alliance and likely resulted in most, if not all, parties withdrawing from the agreements. So, I stayed and played the diplomat while the fate of our entire way of life hung in the balance upon a desolate plain forgotten even by history.

Summary of the Coronation events, Planting Moons 33rd, 3127, to be explained in separate report.

As soon as Marcus finished relaying his message, and passed into unconsciousness, as it was explained, I ordered Captain Roberts to make all speed to the port of Anasia where the Alpha Team would be met with Rangers from Echer’Naught bringing their gear, supplies, and much needed healing. It was imperative that they, and the foreign emissary arrive safely. I then ordered Lady Moonsilver to contact Lady Highwind in Haggersedge. The time had come to meet. I had hoped with all my heart that this day would be long into the future, and under much better circumstances, but I needed her experience if my agents were to have any chance of success.

She then sent a message to all nearby Ranger Outposts with an open offer of pay for a simple escort mission. Rangers and trusted allies only. Seven answered the question. Only two familiar to me.

Sir Dane Landen, Ranger and White Silver Wolf. He was given command.

Balam. A young brinchie warrior.

Grimgar, a male aevakar archer and warrior.

Jenna, an eldakar archer.

Ithil, a Korindian martial artist

Montigue, another aevakar. A bard.

Rhovelius Dimerian, archer, scout, and White Silver Wolf

My last act that eve, before falling into a fitful sleep, was to draft special orders for the team. The exact location of the Heroes’ Keep has been kept a closely guarded secret for this and…other reasons. So, strict security had to be maintained. I could only impart the details to someone I trusted implicit, someone with the authority to authorize such a mission…Hawksclaw. I intimated the orders to Lady Moonsilver, though I never touched quill to parchment. And she, relayed them to the Captain.

Planting Moons 2nd, 3127

Having received urgent order, the Outposts recruited quickly. By early morning the six were all headed to Haggersedge independently. They met on the road and entered the town together. It has been described as a bustling, growing trading town. Being in the very heart of Galea, on the edge of an Elven forest I have no doubt it is lovely and orderly. Town guard met the team at the edge of town and escorted them to the Highwind Manor. There, they met Lady Christina Highwind for the first time. She was making final arrangements with her Guard Commander, Lady Branwen Vale. Upon seeing the Rangers, Lady Highwind collected her things and joined them outside where she was kind enough to provide mounts. Though she loathed leaving her town, and only grudgingly accept my invitation, Lady Highwind understood the urgency.

Lady Highwind and Sir Landen’s team departed by afternoon, moving fast on horseback. From Haggersedge, Galea to Echer’Naught, Olara is a trip of some 730 miles, though the roads are good and the weather held true. Only light late spring rains. They made excellent time arriving in Echer’Naught on the eve of Planting Moons 20th, 3127.

Planting Moons 6th, 3127

Rangers in Anasia report Alpha Team’s Arrival.

Planting Moons 10th, 3127

Sergeant Alfred Wolfhaven arrives with Rangers to escort Alpha Team and Marcus Regillus home.

Planting Moons 20th, 3127

Entering the east/dwarven gate, Sir Landen led the team to the city Headquarters just off the Main Street. Despite the changes over the years, I still feel a deep nostalgia every time I smell the old pine wood, dusty stray, fustian wool cloaks, boiled leather, oil, steel, and horseflesh. And on a cold night, the warmth of Highwall’s fire pits. When the arrived, they had the honor to meet one of Alpha Team’s founding members, Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw.

He welcomed the team, greeted Sir Landen and Lady Highwind. And then, without preamble explained that they were heading into difficult times. Once all seemed ready, he had his adjutant provide them sealed letters, penned by his own hands, seen by him and no other. They took their orders and spent the evening in the Cloak and Pin. That inn, and the Sword and Bow, have sprung up to billet visiting Rangers to the city. It is odd, even now, that such a need exists. When we began, there were three: Me, Hawksclaw, and Highwall. Soon Longtail joined us. Over time more arrive, Rildrirr, Evoran, Thorgram, Samira, and many more. I could not have hoped to see the corps so successful, or content. I wonder if any of the young faced I see in the green cloaks even give thought to who came before as they sit in the bars, inns, and restaurants that seem to multiply daily? I suppose not. And, is that not why we fight? So that those who come after may live better, live free.

By this point, final preparations for the Coronation were in high gear, so I was unable to recieve but the briefest reports about the progress of Alpha Team’s trek to Echer’Naught, or Sir Landen team’s mission to the Heroes’ Keep. So many moving pieces. I begin to lose track.

Planting Moons 21st, 3127

Before dawn, Sir Landen’s team departs via the North Barony Road gate headed toward Heroe’s Keep.

By that same evening, Sergeant Wolfhaven, Marcus Regillus, and Alpha Team arrive in Echer’Naught. Like ships passing in the night, they miss each other by a dozen hours.

Marcus is immediately escorted to meet Colonel Anderson, while Alpha Team is placed on convalescence.

Planting Moons 33rd, 3127

At Noon, Mereena Avalar of Galea ascends the vacant throne of His Majesty, King Warick Travane. See Report.

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

With the Coronation and festivities complete, I turned over my command to able adjutants. Camondel had enough brash to hull a Kal Carrack. Camon has her Crown and I must see that the Kingdom survives long enough to appreciate it. Evelyn Afliem joined me in secret and she assisted me in travelling to the true Legion Keep. From there, she also helped me establish contact with Eris to receive updates. Sir Landen’s Team was a few days away, but scouts reported enemy troops operating in the area. Many communities were being abandoned as people feared another Kal invasion.

It turned out not to be the Kal, but something far worse. Also, rain. A deluge flooded the region, destroying crops, washing out roads, and cutting off troops and supplies from reaching the Keep. Fortunately, a large stockpile had arrived long before the rains, so operations to stock the larders was already well under way.

Red Wolf 4th, 3127

After another trip of 700 miles, Sir Landen’s Team arrived, wet, tired, and bedraggled. Commander Garrus, post commander of the Keep’s defenders, met them in the courtyard. While the escorts were provided for, Commander Garrus retired to his office to meet with Lady Highwind. While the exact nature of that meeting cannot be expressed here, I may reveal that she was briefed on the situation, and when hearing of the attacks she grew greatly concerned. Lady Highwind feared our enemy was far closer than we imagined.

As the garrison busied themselves making preparations, and the escort amused themselves, another drama unfolded not far away to the North.

Late in the eve, scouts reported a ragged column approaching the keep. Refugees from the nearby raids. How they even found the Heroes’ Keep was of concern, but Commander Garrus ordered they be allowed to approach, and well he did. Upon the 13th hour, the column finally made their way to the top of the narrow switchbacks scaling the sheer cliff to the Keep’s gates. Who was leading the mob but Rysak Ironblood, former Ranger, fugitive, and Unchained. Hearing the news I was struck by a flood of emotions, relief to know he had survived the attack on the Unchained attack, and sadness. He was still a fugitive from Ranger justice. On another day, within the bounds of Ranger authority i would have had him arrested…but we are far from the Southern Kingdoms.

And who followed the column? Always one step behind Rysak, Thomas Zulcrum. Of course. I have witnessed few bonds as strong as that of the dwarf and the olaran.

Sir Landen’s team rushed to provide aide and comfort to the men, women, and children shivering in their skin, while Commander Garrus escorted the former Rangers into the keep where they were given blankets and set by the fire. There, he listened to their report.

Weeks earlier, they knew not exactly when, they had been in the Defiant Lands west of the Keep monitoring Kal encroachment for the Unchained. One night, they were awakened by the sounds of battle and flames when a thick, heavy, cloying, and stinking fog rolled over their position, blanketing all. Lost in the white, they lost track of their team, but managed to stumble into an attack on refugees fleeing through the area. Fires all around, they were attacked by creatures not of this Realm. Massive ogre like beings in heavy armor, smaller orc like warriors, naked and deformed wild men, and something similar to, but vastly divorced from, ratzin.

Withing minutes of their encounter, both seasoned warriors were wounded and outmatched. They retreated, catching glimpses of hordes more approaching through the mists. As they staggered away, Rysak collided with a dying woman. She was missing an arm, an eye, her leg was badly damaged, and her skin was cracked and blackened by fire, but she managed to shove a tattered and bloody messenger pouch into Rysak’s hands. With her dying breath, she said,

“…the Great Wolf…they have come…must stop…”

And then, a wild man hurled an axe into her back. Rysak and Thomas fell on their training and experience. They evaded and escaped, rounding up what survivors they came across and led them here.

This all occurred while I worked at the True Keep moving pieces across the board hoping we were not too late.

Rysak and Thomas were given about six hours to sleep before they, and Sir Landen’s team were asked to meet with Commander Garrus and Lady Highwind. There, the stakes were explained. Garrus needed men to embark and a dangerous, desperate mission. To their credit, none hesitated.

They were summarily inducted into the Legion without the usual fanfare or symbology familiar to the Rangers, Wolves, or so many other organizations. They were asked to raise their right hands, and swear to obey lawful orders of the Legion and to never speak of any Legion missions with any other organizations, Rangers included. Each sworn to secrecy, and willingly accepting membership in the Legion, Commander Garrus permitted them a half turn of the glass to secure any gear they might not wish to lose, and send letters home. Last Will and Testament services were provided. Most of the team kept their gear with them, though they all left their backpacks, bedrolls, and kits behind.

Once ready Commander Garrus and Lady Highwind led the newly combined team out into the hall and down into the barracks, kitchens, and infirmary. Below that on the lowest level of the Keep, they entered into the storage rooms. From there, Commander Garrus led them to a small, closet-like door in the deepest corner of the cellar. There, he withdrew a small white silver key and unlocked the nondescript door. The door led to a set of polished black, perfectly cut stairs which descended deeper into the mountain. The walls of this section were of the same polished stone, but lacked any dust, and the seams, though visible, were smooth to the touch. Just around the first turn, they saw the first arcfire sconce. I can only imagine Thomas we intrigued.

Beneath the Heroe’s Keep is an even more ancient Builder Citadel. I know not when the Citadel appeared, but it was not present when my unit chased out the Kal scouts during the closing months of the War of Flame. However, when dwarven Rangers were sent to scout the ruins as a possible site for the Heroes’ Keep, they discovered the entrance. Once again, providence smileed.

But even this structure was small. We may never know the mind of the Builders, but we suppose this was a storehouse, or maybe a small garrison. Whatever the case, the Citadel below Heroes’ Keep consisted of little more than a long hall with half a dozen rooms on either side. What made the Citadel ideal, however, was the arcgate room at the far end of the hall. When the dwarves first plumbed the depths, they found a damaged, but salvageable arcgate in a large room. With great effort, expertise, and expense, Builders, dwarven engineers, and arcfire experts resurrected the ancient machinery and then proceeded to greatly enhance the capabilities with information provided by allies.

The Great Arcgate of the Heroes’ Keep is a monstrosity to behold. Built upon a circular raised dais, the main mechanism of the gate are a series of three increasingly larger copper rings etched with arcfire script. The rings spin beneath a large copper gate wrapped in wire and covered with strange arcfire protrusions. All is controlled by a panel of runes, levers, dials, and other mechanisms too arcane to comprehend.

Sadly, each use costs the equivalent in resources of a small keep complete with garrison, supplies, and taxes. That is assuming that sufficient crysarium can even be found to purchase. I cannot take credit, however. Last year, when the Long Recon Team returned from the Tempest Isle, they explained that Tempest used a massive Vortex to land troops on the island from some far-flung Realm. Once just outside the Veil over Shaintar, they use more localized methods to move troops into Shaintar. Though it was prohibitively energy consuming, required to have fixed points both on the Isle and in Shaintar, and still resulted in the loss of many troops…it worked.

The Covenants protect Shaintar, but NOT apparently anywhere beyond. Entering or exiting Shaintar presents a near insurmountable issue. The same protections, the Covenants, which hold Flame and Darkness at bay, also resist any attempts to breach the Veil. Just as the Covenants, which sufficient power, one CAN violate those ancient laws, but only briefly and at the aforementioned staggering costs. Tempest requires a Vortex with a Cyclone the size of a mountain. Hence, the Great Arcgate.

Even having the power, travel is useless absent the ability to aim. Again, based upon the Tempest model, they create Cyclone Vortexes both on the isle and in Shaintar, using them as two ends of a raging tunnel linking one to another. Anchor points are vital to crossing the turbulent Veil enshrouding our lands. It was described to me by an allied Builder as attempting to navigated a narrow port channel in a typhoon without a start or lighthouse to guide your ship. You are far more likely to smash on the rocks, or be flung out to sea.

And yet, even with sufficient power, AND anchor points, the journey is still perilous and unreliable in the best of circumstances. It has taken years and a staggering loss of life to even establish the connections which might allow such travel. All for this moment, this one chance to stop, or at the very least challenge a second Thundering Skies.

But, the trip was one way. To return, anyone passing beyond Shaintar would have to find their own way back, mostly likely highjacking or riding a Tempest Vortex back through. The Long Recon Team proved the possibility, but we lost a number in the attempt. And, it is hardly a reliable method of travel.

Still, Rysak Ironblood, Thomas Zulcrum, Balam, Sir Landen, Grimgar, Jenna, Ithil, Montigue, Rhovelius Dimerian, and Lady Highwind stepped onto the dais and stood beneath the arch. Garrus signaled the Builder arcmancers who activated the system, stating a reaction that energized the rings. Rising from recesses in the floor, the rings rose and began to spin, faster and faster. With each revolution, they gained speed, brightness, and volume. The sounds begins as a low hum, but quickly rises to a high pitched metallic scream that shatters glass and leaves some men’s ears bleeding. The light goes from the dull burnt orange of arcfire lights to an intensity only rivaled by staring into the sun.

Faster and faster the rings spun, the sound, light, and power reverberating off the walls. Garrus and the Builders had donned protective ear muffs and smokey amber goggles for fear of being struck blind and deaf. And then, in a flash of arcfire, those within the glowing, screaming, pulsing dome of arcfire simply vanished from existence. Having both witnessed the operation, and been transported myself I can assuredly claim that witnessing is far better than experiencing.

To put into words. It feels as if your soul is ripped from your body with mind shattering agony while you physical body is burned up from the inside out till there is nothing left of you but echoes of pain. And then, it is over, and you stand shivering with heat in some foreign place. It has occurred to me more than once that the Builders might have used arcgates as both transportation and torture device.

Still, the sheer scale of power generated by the Legion’s enhanced Great arcfire gate managed to bend the inhibitors created by the Covenants and the Veil, if just. The new Legionnaires found themselves suddenly atop a stone tower overlooking a wide, grassy plain. The principles are still lost upon me, but this place is a manifestation of magic. Something akin to, but far more powerful than the illusions and phantasms generated by Archmages of Shaintar. What’s more, and critical to this operations, the True Legion Keep is not within the Veil, though I cannot say for sure where, or how. I surmise that is similar in nature to the spirit planes of the Ascended, or even the Dragon Plane, wherever that may be. And because I was critical to the creation of this…pocket…it manifested the form of a mighty Olaran keep set upon an open and vast grassland. At least, that is how it began. As more of the Soul-bonded gems have been added to the treasury, recovered during conflicts, donated by travelers from beyond, and in at least one case, found within our Realm, the grounds have expanded, adding new structures and features. Who knows what kind of vast city might one day exist here.

Evelyn Afliem waited for them just off the dais. By virtue of whatever higher power resulted in her birth, Eve can more easily transition between this place and Shaintar. Moreover, she does not lose connection or awareness to the same degree as even I. Dakota’s daughter has been invaluable in this exercise. Again, providence smiles. I am more convinced than ever that our lives are bent toward some greater good by a benevolent force. Archanon? Celesia? Trinity? All, or more? Who can say?

Eve brought the Legionnaires to me, most still blinking way the lights dancing in their eyes. Of the few who have made the trip, many suffer sickness, deafness, or blindness upon arrival. Thank the Ascended it is only temporary. I was in my office within the fortress, mid-level up the main, square tower. Behind me, a large window looks out over the plains so much like my boyhood home. They were an eclectic lot, to be sure.

Rysak Ironblood still bore the scars of his time as one of the Dwerg madcaps. Though, there were more scars, burns, and the unmistakable chaffing where the Kal slave collar had rubbed him raw. And, to his side, Thomas Zulcrum. Taciturn, surly, but every bit an Olaran. One of the few, true Rangers from Echer’Naught. And, proud Sir Dane Landen. He has served since the time of the first Tempest invasion. Rhovelius Dimerian, or Rho as he is known in the White Silver Wolves. A solid scout, and man not known to reveal secrets. Of the others, I knew little. Balam the Brinchie, two aevakar, Grimgar and Montigue, a Korindian Ithil, and the eldakar Jenna. I wonder did I look so young when I first joined the Hammerfall Riders?

Lady Highwind was much as I expected. Though we had never met personally, we kept similar friends. She was hardly pleased to be summoned, but I could tell from her expression that she understood the dire need. I greeted her as a friend and then took the bloodstained satchel. The missive was short, and written in hasty, but elegant scrawl. Marcus Regillus’ warning was confirmed. Worse, the enemy was here, in our Realm. This new threat came from something called the “Wild” led by “Warlocks”? I must admit much was too alien to comprehend, but it was clear this new foe had allied with some faction of Tempest. And together they had the power to reach Shaintar. Clearly it was no coincidence that a relative of Anaxelum had become involved. Every horror Sir Regillus had revealed during our late night talks over the years had been realized. The enemy which consumed his home, was here. And powered by Tempest.

The letter offered a single ray of hope. The author found the location from which the Tempest infused Wild was launching from in Caladonia, the homeland of both Lady Highwind and Sir Regillus. If allies on the far side could strike at their anchor as we struck at ours, then perhaps we could sever the connection and stem the flow of corruption into Shaintar. Locating and destroying the Vortex here would fall to the Wolfhaven Company of Free Riders and the Legion forces. For weeks we had been tracking the growing storm and know all to well that our foul weather stems from a massive Tempest ritual somewhere in the Defiant Lands. With Unchained reports, and our own, finding it should not be too difficult. Destroying it however…

That left the task of crossing over to Caladonia and taking this information to allies on the far side. For that, we required Lady Highwind. I explained what I could to the team, though much was lost upon them, as was me. Resealing the report I just read, I asked Lady Highwind who might help us on the far side. She took quill and parchment and penned a quick letter to an old friend, Sir Marion Thrace. If the team could find Sir Thrace then she might be willing, and have the manpower, to strike the Vortex on the Caladon side. Her missive was added to my own and I placed them in a messenger pouch emblazoned with the seal of the Legion.

From there, I placed Rysak Ironblood in command. I know he is a fugitive from Ranger justice, but he also has my trust and faith. Second in command fell to Sir Landen due to his experience. After which, Thomas Zulcrum because if it came to that, he would complete the mission. I commanded that they take the message through the Veil, locate Sir Thrace and secure the reinforcements to locate and destroy the Vortex. Nothing was to prevent their mission from completion. Rysak understood. Good man.

After which, I opened the vault and drew from the Legion stores the most powerful, precious, rare, and mysterious artifacts in all of Shaintar. Each was a simple ring of various metals and woods emblazoned with a gem of varying size and color. They have names beyond our Realm, but for use they are Soul-bonded Artifacts. And with them, one may travel from place to place assuming one knows how…and assuming one is outside of Shaintar, and perhaps our Realm entirely. Each Legionnaire was lent one band. Here I implored that they not let these bands fall into enemy hands. It would be better to bite off and swallow a finger than to allow any to take such precious gifts.

Once equipped, I took them to our storehouse and each was given a small travel kit and rations. From there, we crossed the inner garden to the Temple. I had erected this place to honor Celesia, Archanon, and the Ascended. But, another shrine had appeared without my will. I did not recognize it at the time, but it is to Trinity, the god or goddess of the Caladonian people. How it came to be, I know not. Still, upon seeing it, I could sense the wonder and nostalgia from Lady Highwind. Once there, she gathered the Legionnaires in a circle and had them focus on the gems and the symbol of Trinity. I felt a rise of power and then…they were gone leaving me standing alone in the empty chapel with Lady Highwind. For a moment she gazed longingly at her own sword, before shaking her head and motioning back inside.

We returned to the keep and began deep discussions about the Legion and the nature of things. Orders were dispatched for the Legion and allies to scour the Defiant Lands for the Tempest foci. It ended up being surprisingly easy as they were less than a day’s ride from the Heroes’ Keep in a rough and empty stretch of land. Meanwhile, the Legionnaire team in Caladonia was thrust into a nightmare.

Some Date, Some Year in Caladonia?

From after action reports, I conclude their mission when something akin to this:

They arrived in a vast, snowy field in the midst of a blizzard. All arrived safely save for Montigue who was thrown of course and landed in a snow band some distance away. Within moments of their arrive a squad of riders came upon them, encircling them and demanding for identification. At first, they could not understand each other, but quickly the foreign words translated into the native tongue of each of the Legion. They were ordered to surrender, which they did without hesitation. Thomas later described the warriors as Olarans equipped as Northern Barbarians.

The Legion was then escorted to a nearby war camp. From the descriptions, the camp was haphazard, rings around a central pavilion. The further from the “command” center one traveled the less organized and equipped the rings became. And, there were four distinct rings or sections. Though the warriors seemed capable enough, they were hardly organized for large scale war. Interesting to know.

Once they reached the center of camp, they were forced to stand shivering in the snow for a while before entering the command pavillion. There, they met a large, red haired warrior. She was clearly in command by her bearing, armor, and being the center of all attention. She introduced herself as Sir Marion Thrace and demanded to know why they had approached her camp.

With the bard, Montigue, missing, Rysak stepped up and explained they had been sent to deliver a message to her. She took it, almost by force, and after reading, seemed amenable to their cause. But, she explained that the Wild army was bearing down and their position on the left flank of the Bohdan Rift was about to overrun. She sent a small unit into the Hathenclus Range to protect the passes to their rear, but she had not been able to establish contact. If the Legion would be willing to escort her messenger to that force, then they would prove themselves friends, and she might be able to assist. Rysak agreed and was introduced to young, 12-14, year old boy named Wilhelm. He claimed to be a refugee from a place called Epperborne and agreed to show them a path through the Range.

It should also be noted that the appearance of the team changed. Rysak bore a rocky appearance, the elves of the group took on a more harsh/savage appearance, and the brinchie looked all the world like a werewolf. Only the humans and Aevakar remained unchanged. Though, it was clear that the Caladonians considered the Aevakar to be some form of emissary from Trinity. A boon that.

Out of camp, the team traveled Setward (west?) and then Steppeward (north?) into a rising ridge of mountains. The hike was made worse by a constant blizzard. Though he was clearly ill equipped, the young man impressed the Legion by running his feet bloody without complaint. Two days in, they were navigating a twisting pass when the scouts, Balam and Rho heard fighting up ahead. Grimgar and Montigue were grounded due to the high winds.

However, when they fell back to report this, Wilhelm charged into battle. Balam chased in attempt to catch him, but it cost both their lives. Wilhelm was cut down by the same ratzin like creatures Rysak and Thomas had encountered before and Balam was not far behind. His face was savaged beyond repair. Battle joined, Sir Landed led the charge while Montigue covered the back trail. In the tight confines, the enemy had advantage. From above ratten (ratzin like denizens) pounced and the Wild tained wild men hurled spears from rocks overhead.

The skirmish was fierce. Sir Landen, Rysak, Rho, and Grimgar took the brunt of the fighting, with Ithil in support. It was over as quickly as it began, but the cost was high. Worse, Wilhelm’s message was flung over the cliff in his agonized death throws. Fortunately, a quick thinking Jenna scrambled over the icy rocks and managed to save it from falling by plucking it from a branch with her outstretched bow. Meanwhile, Montigue recovered Balam’s ring and Rrka.

At the summit was a small camp of Thace soldiers, most wounded or dead. At the center, commanding the survivors was a young man of his later teens or early twenties. At first suspicious, he accepted them immediately after reading Sir Thrace’s message. He ordered his handful of survivors to burn the dead, collect the wounded and withdraw. It required another two day trek down the mountains, this with wounded and dying. By the time they reached the Thrace camp, it was already in flames. But, not due to attack. The warriors burned anything they could not carry out. Already, the vast majority of the camp was broken leaving only a handful of soldiers and laborers to collect the final pieces for retreat. Sir Thrace’s command pavilion remained, a long sentry in a field of dirty slush.

As soon as the grizzled woman saw the boy, she beamed with joy and embraced…her son. They spoke briefly, before she turned to thank the Legion. After which she bade them drink, eat, and warm themselves quickly. Once refreshed, Sir Thrace explained that the armies were falling back. The Warlocks’ Wild forces had taken the Bohdan Rift. But, she had ordered her son, Captain Lorn Thrace to take two dozen of his best knights and escort them behind enemy lines to strike at the Warlock’s ritual site. Once handing him his orders, she exited the tent, mounted her horse and rode out, without a backwards glance. Around them, the tent fell and was packed, leaving them standing again in a blizzard.

Captain Thrace’s horses were brought up and he ordered them to mount. They rode Seaward, along with two dozen of the best Thrace had left to offer. For two days they dodged Wild patrols till the Captain brought them freezing and sore to a series of caves. Here, the Legion was allowed to huddle together to get some rest. Most fell into a fitful sleep.

The Captain roused them hours later, fed them, shoved warm fermented milk into their stiff hands and confirmed that their intelligence was correct. The Warlock’s Dreamlord Shrine was nearby and more powerful than they had yet seen. Once their fast was broken and they began to show signs of life, he took them and his men on horseback along a series of ridge lines to overlook a large, open plain. Leaving the horses behind with a few handlers, they crawled forward to see a stone tower set alone in the snow. From the top of the tower greenish fire flared. Around its base thousands of men and creatures milled. But above the tower, a Tempest Cyclone turned.

Captain Lorn Thrace indicated the tower as one of the Dreamlord Shrines, but could not identify the turning Cyclone. Rysak could. She explained the power of Tempest and as they watched, a large section of the Wild forces were struck by azure blue lighting and seemed to vanish without a trace. It was a Teleportation ritual. As we feared.

Alone, two and a half dozen against thousands, they had no hope of victory. And yet, the young Captain ordered the Legion to wait until his men rode around and struck from the Steppeward side. They were to then charge the tower and try to destroy the ritual. It was suicide.Glorious, but suicide. Yet, what choice did they have?

So the Legion waited and watched as the snow fell, the sky turned angrily, and the azure lighting flashed. Half a turn of the glass later, the Caladonian knights charged across the field in a perfect wedge, piercing deep into the Wild ranks. Seeing the signal, the Legion crested the ridge and charged. Time seemed to slow as they cut through the temporarily stunned foes. Overhead, Montigue flew straight for the top of the tower and the lone figure calling down the fury of the storm. Just as he approached, the figure clapped his hands, and lighting struck down in angry arcs. Stinking white mist billowed from the tower, cloaking the field in a thick blanket. Within the reeking cloud, the Legion and Caladonians fought like demons…

Something shifted and the sounds changed.

Red Wolf 5th, 3127

From nearby they heard a horn sound. Rysak and Thomas recognized the horn as belonging to the Wolfhaven Free Riders and to be sure, my men charged through camp. Confused, but grateful, the Legion tried to cut their way to the tower. Here I must explain a bit of history.

After receiving Alpha Team and Marcus Regillus’ warning on the 1st of Planting Moons, I penned a letter to Sir Anaxelum Regillus explaining the situation. Though I could have used the Farspeaker network, this was a personal letter and I penned it in Tempest, for added security. He received the letter some five days later, on or near the 6th of Planting Moons. I had expected him to request leave to return to Echer’Naught to meet his relative, cousin I now know, when he arrived, but upon hearing of the potential Wild invasion in the Defiant Lands, he requested immediate activation of the formerly disbanded 9th Explorator Legion. I agreed and he marched out that very day.

While Rysak’s Legion unit was battling the Wild Tempest anchor on a snowy plain in Caladonia, the reformed 9th was marching on an identical tower a day’s ride north and west of the Heroes’ Keep. So, when Rysak’s team found themselves suddenly back in Shaintar, they were under the cover of the 9th arclances. As the Wolfhaven Company of Free Riders engaged the Wild Tempest forces in the plain, the 9th assaulted the tower from a nearby ridge. Stormfire met stone and ripped the tower, the ritual, and the Cyclone to shreds. Mission accomplished, the Free Riders sounded withdrawl.

Rysak ordered his team to follow suit. Riders and Legion retreated under the cover of 9th Legion Stormfire. What a time to be alive?

Just beyond the battle, Ryasak’s team reach the Free Rider’s horseline and once identified, they were given mounts of fallen Free Riders and allowed to retreat back to the Heroes’ Keep with the rest of the Riders. Sir Regillus covered the withdrawal, spending the lives of his men to buy time for the others to escape.

Red Wolf 6th, 3127

Once the ritual was disrupted, the Cyclone dissipated and the weather turn hot, and less wet. In the early hours, the Free Riders and Rysak’s team returned to the keep, making their way slowly up the switchback to the relative safety of the Keep’s walls. Here, they were given food, drink, medical attention, and most importantly rest. Commander Garrus took reports from Rysak and the Free Riders. It is from these reports that I have pieced together the events of the last few days.

At around mid-day, the 9th under Anaxelum marched in with less than half their number remaining. They too broke ranks and fell out to rest. At this point, the Heroes’ Keep boasted a garrison of some 100 Legionnaires, 20 Wolfhaven Free Company Riders, Rysak’s team, a dozen 9th Storm Legion under Sir Regillus and over thirty refugees. Against this force, an army of over a thousand Wild Tempest marched. They arrived by nightfall, with massive arcfire siege towers, and cover of a smaller, but devastating Tempest Cyclone.

The assault on the Heroes’ Keep had begun.

What men I could move had already been transported from the True Keep to defend the gates in Shaintar, but we only had enough Crysarium to make a few trips before the Great arcgate was powerless. Though the Legionnaires in the True Keep were safe, they were also unable to aide their brothers dying in the Defiant Lands.

The Wild Tempest forces began the assault by smashing the keep’s walls with arcfire and stormfire siege engines. Burning stones the size of houses shattered against the gates. After an hour of onslaught, the magically reinforced stones gave way. Then, the true attack began. Hundreds of Wild tainted Ratten, men, barbarians, and even fallen Legionnaires and Free Riders poured over the walls and through the breach. The defenders were swept away by a living tide of corruption and storm.

Dozens of heroes were forged and cruelly cut down as the defenders fell back from the walls, covering the retreat to the central keep. In the sky above, flights of winged lizardmen appeared and rained arrows and magic death upon the quickly dwindling defenders. They were dying…because I called them here.

In some way I understood the enemy strategy. Strike the Legion Keep where all our forces were gathered and destroy the gate. In one decisive attack, the Legion would be destroyed and the greatest hope for the people of Shaintar would be snuffed out. But, if some remained safe, if I remained safe, then even cut off, we presented a dire threat to Tempest’s designs, even if diminished by our defeat here. Take the field and risk my death and the true annihilation of the Legion, or stand by and sacrifice the innocent life huddled behind the Legion…

There was no choice. A fool I may be, but I will not stand by and allow my people to be slaughtered wholesale. Not if there is ought I can do!

Against advice, I sought Eve out. Through the power granted by my own Soul-bonded artifact and her great connection to the spiritual planes, I was able to traverse back through the Veil and into the keep, though the cost was great. Worse for her. How many centuries had I just asked her to burn away? Already, fine lines of age etched the concerns of her eyes. To save lives of the Legion, I had stolen hers…

Without sacrifice, there can be no heroism…

The Veil tore at me, threatening to strip my sanity, by very Essence, but weakened and pained I found myself standing alone in the gate room. Thunder was stabled in a private, secure stable in the second level of the keep. I must admit to feeling a deep sense of relief seeing my old horse, my constant companion, waiting for me. He could smell the smoke, hear the roar of battle and the same light shone in his eye as mine. War had come and once again we would ride to meet it!

Saddling him quickly, a survival skill I had mastered years before on the open fields of the War of Flame. My Archanon, has it been just seven years?

Mounted, I drew my father’s sword and ascended the steps to the battle above. As we neared, I felt thunder’s hooves pounding on the stone steps, the roar of blood in my ears, the cacophony of battle as we burst from the stairs into the grand hall. Frail, terrified men, woman, and children huddled against the walls, staring at the double doors in horror. They waited for the inevitable death to come. But seeing me, their expressions changed, first to shock, then to…not joy…but it was as if a great weight was lifted.

The fear melted, but as the weight of their terror lifted, I felt the burden grow heavy upon my shoulders. What do they see when they look at me? Salvation? Victory? What would they think if they knew I was but a man, weakened by a lifetime of war, weighed down by the deaths of so many friends, family, and brothers…

They rose to their feet as I spurred Thunder through the great halls toward the closed doors. No cheer was raised, no cry. They simply stood and watched, hands outstretched to brush Thunder’s coat as we passed. At the far door, the defenders, the last line charged with dying to protect the innocents huddled within drew back, eyes wide. Thunder raised high on his back legs and struck the ironbound ironwood door with the force of an avalanche. It splintered outward, scattering the Wild tainted men trying to hack through from the far side.

I felt Thunder gather beneath me, the old familiar breath before he exploded into action. I summoned power, Archanon’s light, Celesia’s hope, Tempest power, and the cold heat of the burning star within me. We charged, as one. Man and Horse, as my first instructor said so many years ago, the perfectly evolved killing machine. Thunder exploded out of the hall and trampled a mob of men too slow or stupid to get out of the way. I cleaved and cut, kicked and hacked through the throng of hideously deformed men and women around me.

I could see the Legion falling back, Commander Garrus sounding retreat, Sir Regillus’ 9th holding the center of the line. Such bravery, such heroism…but in the end, even I was not enough. My momentum stalled as bodies swarmed. Thunder screamed as ratten bit his legs and wild tainted men stabbed his flanks. The weight began to tip me, I could feel Thunder scrabbling for purchase on the stones slick with blood and offal…

And then, I felt it. A power above me, dark and terrible, concentrated to a point. My father’s sword screamed, as did the voice inside my head. A god-killer. That is was Anaxelum called it. A weapon of such destructive power that even gods, dragons, or great spirits fell to its lethal purpose. There was a pulse, as if the very air burned and I could feel malicious focus bearing down on me.

I was a fool. I allowed myself to be baited and the trap was sprung. My life matters little. I have far too long cheated a death that should have taken me a hundreds times over. But, by my failure I doomed this keep and my Realm…

And then I heard a scream and the sky above me turned green and azure blue as a body was torn asunder, vaporized till nothing but heat and light remained. I spun and caught the last glimpse of Rysak’s body being consumed in a conflagration of energy…

And then, silence followed by a loud chunk as the spear aimed at my heart sank spent into the stones by my stirrup. A cold, white rage fell over me like a shroud.

Another brother. Another friend had died for my hubris.

Of what happened next, I can only relate in the vaguest sense. I moved as if through a dream. I remember ripping the spear from the ground, my arm going numb as residual energy tore at my flesh. My son is the master of the spear, but I learned enough during my days in the saddle. For every life taken, I hurled that deadly implement into the heart of the winged devil above me. It struck true and whatever power remained in the spear shattered its protective spells and ripped his life from his body.

As he fell like an injured bird, the turning clouds above slowed and the will of the Wild army broke. Anaxelum shouted and our lines pushed. Together, we drove them across the courtyard, through the ruined gates and off the cliff. No mercy was offered. Hundreds were flung screaming to be dashed into bloody paste at the base of the cliff hundreds of meters below. More tried to flee down the switchback path, but I rode them down.

Red Wolf 7th, 3127

I raged for what seemed like hours, but eventually the tide of anger ebbed and I found myself gasping for breath in the plains below the keep. Around me, Tempest siege towers burned. The ground was littered with a carpet of corpses, and the victory cheers of the defenders high above echoed across the plain.

As for me, I slumped in the saddle, spent of energy or emotion. How long I sat there, I know not. Eventually, Anaxelum found me, and helped me from the saddle. Both Thunder and I were too weak from exhaustion to make the long climb up the switchback. And, the stones were too slick from blood, gore, and offal. We allowed ourselves to be led to a makeshift field hospital where we drank, and I fell into a deep torpor. Of my dreams, I will keep that counsel to myself.

Late in the morning, I woke on a cot in a screened off corner of the large hospital tent. Guards stood around me, but none close. When I stirred, they shouted for a healer. She was young, a girl, no more than 12. I remember her face from the hall. She was cleaner now, and the fear was gone. In her eyes I saw…awe? Damn.

Gently she changed the dressing on the wounds. Her hands trembled with nervousness. I thought to try and calm her, but what would I say? In the end, I let her finish her work and leave in silence.

Then, Anaxelum came. I begin to understand him better. His people, Caladonians, are a tough, warlike people who watched their homes ravaged by an unstoppable force. He joined Tempest, the most powerful and expansive empire known, rising to the ranks of Praetor. All without succumbing to the madness of their Servitors. He battle my best to a standstill and guided his men out of Norcan Darr intact. There, he earned respect among his enemies, the Rangers, and eventually found love in Echer’Naught. After all that, he found the strength to throw of the shackles of Tempest and still KNOWING his cause was lost, he fights to this day to buy the land he has grown to love one more day.

His expression was dour, but normal. I only ever see him smile in the company of his beloved Samira. Without preamble, he handed the butcher’s bill, the report of our losses. The heavy toll dragged my heart into my boots. But, I read the names, each one. When I reached Rysak Ironblood, my eyes burned, but I forged on. Out of a hundred and fifty, we lost fifty. Thirty percent losses. More were injured. I signed the report and handed it back. Commander Garrus ducked into my private wing, his head was bandaged, but he was alive.

We counciled briefly, before I sought out Thunder. He stood grazing just outside my tent. He would not have left either way. I brushed and cleaned his hooves. The familiar ritual bringing some relief.

It was long past night before I reached the summit again. The fires had long since burned down, and the dead stacked in neat rows, shrouded awaiting their final cremation and internment. The survivors snapped to attention and a shout raised as Thunder rode into the keep. Damn.

They look at me with such pride. I did nothing. THEY saved themselves. THEY saved the Realm. Still, symbols are important. So, I raised my sword and I could feel their pride swell. Afterwards, I rode into the keep, and stabled Thunder for the night. But for me, my work as just beginning.

Red Wolf 8th, 3127

We collected the rings from Rysak’s team, though Montigue seemed reluctant to turn his in. Still we have only the few. Without these seemingly insignificant bobbles, we may never stand a chance.

Red Wolf 9th, 3127

Clearing rubble, burning the dead, and clearing the path took two days. I worked where I could, but I have found my presence more of distraction than an aide. Odd, the young girl, Meena has appointed herself my personal healer. She has yet to say a word, won’t even look me in the eyes, but she attends my wounds with skill and gentleness. I find her presence strangely comforting.

At mid day on the 9th, I called the assembled warriors to Parade. A hundred men, Legionnaires, Free Riders, Rangers, and 9th Storm Legion stood in neat rows in the courtyard of the Heroes’ Keep, the shattered gates an open maw behind them.

I congratulated the Legion on their first victory. Extolled the exploits of their heroes, and mourned their dead. But for one, I offered special mention.

“Rysak Ironblood, warrior, Ranger, Dwerg, prisoner, fugitive, slave, gladiator, Unchained, Legionnaire and Hero. His life was filled with trials and hardship, but regardless, he always followed his own code, doing what he felt just. Even if it cost him. And, it cost him dearly. But, I never once heard him complain, grouse, or blame others for his actions. He always accepted responsibility, even for others. He acted always with his conscience and never made excuses. He knew I was honored bound to arrest him for his crimes, but despite the cost to him, he guided many of you here, and then gave his life to see you safe. Were we within the bound of Ranger authority, I would have done just that. He knew this. Accepted it.

But we are FAR from the Southern Kingdoms. Here, Rysak Ironblood was not a fugitive. He was not a Ranger. He was a Legionnaire, a brother. A hero.

For as long as the Legion last, longer. Rysak Ironblood’s legend will last. He represents the best of us. Duty. Honor. Sacrifice.

Tonight, when we raise our cups to our fallen, raise a cup to Rysak. The best of us."

The men drank and remember long into the night. The Last Call for a Legion. I joined every fire, every camp, every salute. But in the end, I found myself where I always do, in quiet contemplation.

I have been gone too long. My wife, my home, my heart calls to me. Tomorrow, I leave for Echer’Naught.

Whatever gods may be, keep my Realm safe.

Your most obedient servant,

Commander Wolfhaven

Heroes’ Keep, Defiant Lands

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Council of Lanier, 3127
Reinstatement of the Crown of Camon

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

On this day, Falling Ice 3127, It is the opinion of the Council of of Lanier, that Mereena Avalar of Galea holds the most valid claim to the vacant throne of His Majesty, King Warick Travan, died 2835. With the blessings of Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face, Lady Avalar shall ascend to the Throne of Camon this year, 3127, Planting Moons 33rd, when Unidar, Diadar, and Liadar are full.

Regent, Lady Viviane of North Face cordially invites the Houses of Camon, the Church, and Allies to attend the Magnificent Coronation of Queen Avalar I.

~Council of Lanier

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The Razing of Lanier
Quest for the Throne

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

Desolation, Camon

View
Fade to Black
Gray Lantern Report

Half a league half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred:
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

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Ranger Corporal Torik. Serenity mission after action report.
Bounty bait and ambushes.

To: Ranger Command att: Echer’naught Regional Command.
Date: 27th Day of Harvest moon.

After action report, for deployed mission ranging from 10th day harvest moon to the 25th same month.
By: Corporal Torik Kusuta, Grey Ranger and affiliated with the White Silver Wolves.

Coming down back south, from the Dwarven Clanhome Stonefinger after its Liberation. I had hoped for some leave, but was by orders from the ranger regional command of Echer’naught, sent to Echer’naught to support a high profile mission.

Mission Personnel:
Brevet Captain Macha Panta. Commander of Camp Wolfhaven. Brinchie.
Lieutenant Celebor. Former regional commander. Alakar.
Sergeant Ash. Master of Magics. Eldakar.
Corporal Lob. Alchemist. Goblin.
And myself
Corporal Torik. Goblin.

Research support by
Corporal Elak. Lorewarden. Dwarf.

We were briefed by Greys, no name and I feel that describing his appearance will just be censored anyways. Who told of the problems of the road between Echer’naught and Serenity.
Where many attacks have happened, a high number of rangers have died to these ambushes. At least according to Corporal Elak research.
We were to travel this road south, try and discover the source of these assaults and destroy what ever factions ability to keep these attack up. And discover there affiliation if possible.

By the mission giver, we were given writs of purchase to use to gear up for the mission. The high profile people of this group are really awesome, providing me with most of the writs. And I got to upgrade some of my gear, to magical enchanted gear. Which does make me more confident on these missions. I tend to be sent on these rather important missions, anything that can keep me alive, is appreciated.

Research into the mission and the personal selected, turned up that Macha Panta and Ash has some rather large bounties on them. 5000 on Macha and Ash up to a massive amount of 6000 gold. I suggested we disguised ourselves to be bounty hunters, turning in the bodies of the two. For the bounties. Using magic or acting, for them to appear dead. That idea wasn’t really taken seriously by the others. Unfortunately.

We traveled out south towards Farwatch and Serenity the 17th day Harvest moon. A couple of days in our travel we came across a obscene scene. Murdered rangers hanging from trees. Apparently several of the other members of the group, recognized most of them. Not knowing them myself, I suggest reading the other ranger reports.
As we were working to take down the bodies and bury the remains, we were attacked. The assault started with magical fiery blasts targeting most of us, followed up by a invisible creature. It charged Ash relatively directly, actually forcing Ash to concentrate for a moment. As I have been fortunate enough, to be on several missions with him, that was the first time, I have seen him be forced to pay full attention to what is happening around him. But he and the others relatively quickly took the assailant out, it seemed to be a flametouched Brinchie, but unsupported.

We finished our business with the bodies of the rangers. And we continued our travel south.
Between Farwatch and Serenity we were once again attacked. This time by a heavily armed Builder, and some builder sniper. Both using some seriously advanced arcmancy equipment. Lt. Celebor went into a shooting match with the enemy elf, before he turned on the Builder, making his armor explode in a massive outburst of arcmancy energy. I hope that the builders will never think of making that type of energy, into weapons I shudder with the thought of exploding devices used as ammunition on siege engines, not to bombard walls, but to bombard towns and cities during long sieges. Or even more frightful, devices set to blow up in population centers or similar tactics. The fear that will spread.

Safely entering Serenity, we found the base of operations of our foe. This time we had the upper hand, being the ones assaulting the well defended locale.
The heavy hitters doing what they do best, slaughtering there way through the enemies, and even thou they used advanced arcmancy spliced with necromancy, we prevailed.
We discovered a treasure trove of paperwork, with intelligence on various organisations. And about 25.000 gold.

Now we are preparing to escort these materials back to Echer’naught, where the intelligence can be analyzed and the gold can be spent on the various war efforts.

Corporal Torik.

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Serenity Operation
Gray Lanterns

Celebor

I hoped that when I stepped down from Regional Command at Echer’Naught, I’d be done with reports. But, a personal favor to one of the grays, and here I am. If the cast of characters on the mission was any indicator, this was more than just rounding up the usuals.

Lieutenant Celebor, former Regional Commander
Brevet Captain Macha Panta, commander of Camp Wolfhaven
Sergeant Ash, Grandmaster of the “The academy of Yomenie Curu” of Echer’Naught
and
Corporal Torik
Lob

The later two not large players, but solid reputation as support cast on high profile missions. All we needed was High Paladin Murvoth, Captain Fyrforg, or Wolfhaven himself to make this another end of the world.

Harvest Moon 10th, 3126

We met, strange enough, at the Local HQ in Echer’Naught. I swore I’d never come back. Yet, there I was. Though, I like what they’ve done with decor. Changing of the guard.

Our handler was Gray. No names. Or not that I remember. The plan, such as it was, head to Serenity and eliminate a snake nest. Broad, unspecific. I like.

Harvest Moons 10th-20th, 3126

We gathered supplies, and Captain Panta ordered a straight run south through Farwatch. Sensible. Predictable.

Harvest Moons 21st, 3126

We departed in the morning, heading through the southern gate. Ride was nice enough. For a while, at least.

Our first indication of problems was a section of trees decorated with corpses. Per standing orders, we stopped to investigate. Many were Rangers, so I made the proper obligations (RFC Sscark Dregordian , Ranger Muller). We had just managed to get them down, well Ash’s spirits when we came under attack. Some Fallen Brinchie. Ash claimed it was a Flamedancer. I concur. Faced a few during the War. Fight was intense, but not too difficult.

Harvest Moons 22nd, 3126

Moving on, we reached the Farwatch Waystation and stopped. I elected to camp outside. The rest, most, enjoy the Inn’s hospitality.

Harvest moons 23rd, 3126

We reached Farwatch and stopped briefly for lunch and supplies. then moved on. South of the city, we encounter a wounded alakar, Ranger Avella, and we were ambushed…again. Getting tiresome.

This time, Builder mercs. This route should be named murder road. Seriously. I took some fire, but managed a clean shot on the shooter, through the eye, and caught the big target’s arcfire generator. They make such pretty explosions.

Harvest Moons 25th, 3126

Serenity. I hate this city. I hate cities, but this is one of the worst. Our specialists followed our information and eventually located the compound where our targets were operating. Primarily, I provided overwatch, security while our hounds tracked the site.

Once there, however, we went to work. We managed to do the ambushing this time. Heavy hitters punching through their defenses while I picked off the big boys. Necro-arcmancy. Deniers. Nasty stuff, combining all the worst of Necromancy and Arcmancy.

This fight was tough, though with Ash on the team, I don’t believe we ever had much to worry about. I suspect that he approaches battle like I approach paperwork. Halfheartedly and with a distinct lack of effort.

Final fight was with some Red Plates. Mercs? Not my mission. We cleared them out.

Our specialists searched the area. They uncovered intel on various organizations and 25K+ in gold. Targets down, intel recovered, and funds retrieved. And, we didn’t lose anyone.

Mission successful and accomplished.

Lt. Celebor

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White Silver Wolves Report Four
Xaos in Paradise

Captain Juliet Brander,
Silver Paladin of the Temple at Echer’Naught

White Stagg, 1st, 3126

Sir,

As ordered, I assumed command of the newly formed 5th Company of the White Silver Wolves on the 24th of Harvest Moons, 3126. I had arrived only a few days prior to find much of the Company already encamped nearby. Sergeant Major Hassolf, my senior NCO, had performed admirably in my absence.

The boats from Tirene unloaded mid day on the 23rd of Harvest Moons, 3126 disgorging the tired, but triumphant men of First, Second, Third, and Fourth Companies. It was an unusual mix of men and women, elves, dwarves, goblinesh, brinchie, and even a dregordian or three. The veterans joined the fresh fish east of the city, along the beach. SGM Hassolf had already had the newer recruits loading the Galaen Royal Ship Glory with supplies and gear for the trip.

By the 13th of between the 23rd and 24th, the 5th Company was re-equipped, organized, and mobilized. Loading 250 men onto a ship in the dark is a far more challenging task than appears. However, by first tide, the GRS Glory slipped her moorings and, escorted by two swift War Caravels Windsward and Callomine, setting sail for the port of Paradise.

The trip took six days of relatively rough seas. In truth, being from Olara, anything short of a placid lake seems rough. Still, other than our escorts chased off a few potential raiders, the trip was uneventful.

When we arrived in the Port of Paradise, the scene was a nightmare. Three dozens ships, galleons, carracks, and ballingers clogged the harbor, so close many were trapped by the press. Longboats and pinnaces weaved between, running supplies and crew between the ships, but the docks were empty, every slip vacant. In the distance, the city appeared under siege.

Throngs crowded the docks, piers, slips, and lined the harbor. Any boat foolish enough to attempt docking was swamped by the desperate crowds. By our arrival, few made the attempt. Captain Vandebere of the GRS Glory informed me that even the smugglers refused to dock in Paradise anymore.

We remained at anchor, just inside the press of ships, waiting for command to negotiating our disembarking in the city. For their part, the Wolves did well enough, though their impatience was obvious. I spent my hours reading reports, planning and revising operational plans for when we DID land. In the end, circumstances dictated our actions, and it was a scramble.

Early on the 33rd of Harvest Moons, before dawn, one of the Wolves, PFC L’Merr, a brinchie, first noted the increased flames around the city. In moment, the ships at harbor were ablaze as incoming fire tore through the ships at anchor. Captain Vandebere ordered longboats over, as he made preparations to pull the Glory out of range of the artillery from the shore.

The 5th Company scrambled to the boats, too many falling into the sea in the confusion. Thankfully, a dozen or more launches made it clear and began to wend a treacherous path through the burning and sinking vessels in the harbor. I, along with the command staff, boarded the Captain’s pinnace and joined our small flotilla of longboats as they rowed to shore.

Our approach was a scene from nightmare. Burning ships hissing into the the waves, men hurling themselves into the brackish sea to avoid the flames. Overhead, orbs of roaring fire crashing down, kicking up spouts of water and churning the harbor. We lost three boats before sighting the docks. The rest were scattered and broken up. My Wolves made landfall across a quarter mile of docks, in ones and twos.

The pinnace was forced farther east by incoming fire. We managed to run aground on a sandy patch of beach on the north side of the city, just shy of the Livegiver’s delta. There, my command staff established a forward base. South of us, the docks were in flames and we heard fights raging up and down the harbor. Throughout the morning, Wolves reached us in small groups, most badly wounded or burned. Our medical tent was kept busy treating out own wounded, and the civilians that managed to escape the chaos.

From what we could glean from our own men and locals who escaped the fighting, Xaos agents had been terrorizing the refugees around the city for weeks. Only in the last few days had the horrific sandstorms reached the city. By now, the entire region was engulfed, The ragged scrap of cloth that served as my command tent filled with about an inch of sand an hour.

It took hours to pull all our forces together off the beach. It was mid-morn by the time the 5th was ready to mobilize. Most squads came in too chewed up for combat effectiveness. One squad returned, more or less intact.

Under command of Sergeant Dario Del Vibora, a Nazatiran, the rest of the squad included:
Cpl Zathras, goblin mage, a well known and respected warrior
RFC L’Merr, another solid scout and warrior
Rhovelius Dimerian, an elven archer
Ogre, an…ogre warrior

Due to their success, and the solid reputation of a number of their unit, I tasked them with scouting the killing field that was the southern markets. Surprisingly, they took a turn to gather intelligence before going into the field. Impressive.

Just before noon, their squad reached the market. On sight reports and after action reports confirm the markets were a kill zone. Xaos cultists dressed as Paradise warriors attacked. In the confusion it was next to impossible to tell friend from foe. Worse, Xaos Reapers as they are called tore through the Wolves from elevation across the quad.

The Wolves never even got a clean shot on the enemy shooters and their advance arcfire. Dimerian, the squad archer was equally outdistanced. Something we must address in the future.

1st Squad (Sgt Del Vibora), 1st Platoon, 5th Company (Captain Brander) entered the market on the south east end. They barely entered the main square before getting bottled up and pinned down under heavy fire.

It took time, but we managed to assemble a hasty assault force and sent them up a parallel side streets. We lost several, but they pulled forces while 1st Squad controlled the field. I note special commendation for Sgt Del Vibora. His use of powers saved several lives, civilians and allied warriors.

It took hours, but our squads managed to move through the city, securing key sites. We collected allies on the way, Paradise city guard, mercenaries, and even a few less savory allies. It would seem that the NIghtguard and even Tempest forces all oppose Xaos’ incursion into our lands.

We reached the central city by evening. It seemed that most of the Xaos forces inside the city were scouts, saboteurs and spies. We believe their main mission was to sow discord, bottle opposition and sabotage the gates allowing the larger forces from the north easy entry into the city. In that, they failed.

However, the forces north of the city had already reached the gates. Xaos forces, backed by siege engines from A’Tora rained death, tearing through Paradise’s ancient walls. While the Wolves healed and re-supplied, I conferences with the Prince, and other local leaders. Though outnumbered, we had the support of the city defenses.

Despite some outspoken resistance, we decided to fully integrate our forces. The Prince commanded the walls, archers, crossbowmen, and siege engines. I took the foot. Other commanders were placed in key positions.

My wolves plugged the central northern gate, stemming the flood of Xaos forces while our engines set for counterbattery fire. The battle raged all evening, into the night.

We managed to push them out of the city, onto the sands to the north, when about the 13th hour, there was an intense pulse of energy far to the north…It felt as if the world shifted. And in that moment, Xaos forces withered…their summoned armies shattered, their strength broke.

In the same moment, it seemed the A’Tora forces turned on their Xaos allies. After that, it was little more than a clean up operation.

With the battle over, I met with other commanders on the field. Prince Hesham amin Jomil, Emir of A’Tora, while not surrendering, stood down with his forces. He claimed Xaos held his city, and his people. With Xaos power broken, he could now liberate A’Tora and take back the sands.

Prince Esteban amin Firenzo, Lord of Paradise commiserated with his plight, but his concern was for his city, his people. However, he offered us hospitality and protection in the city.

The 5th Company has been given excellent quarters in the city. We will remain until given further orders. For now, the city, and the Company are safe.

Captain Brander

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