Report Filed: Dark Moons 3rd, 3126
The following represents compiled information gained through Alpha Team debrief, asset reports, and independent intel gathering sources.
White River 30th, 3126
Some time in the early morning, Alpha Team, with Braun Olar, having recently escaped the Unchained camp, were hunted down and attacked by a pack of Hellhounds led by a Ravening Beast. According to Sergeant Audric Amaroth during the fighting, the Ravening Beast was the very same he slew in the Blood Pits. Based on our own Flame Slayers, Ravening Beasts, once summoned, always return. Further analysis suggests that this particular creature might be bound in some way to Audric through Thaumaturgical blood magic. It would have most likely hunted him exclusively until eventually bringing Audric down.
Though, of sad note, it was also the attack of that beast, and the threat on the former Ranger Danica, which caused his initial fall to Flame. Considering how events transpired, there is some theory that the beast may have been a piece of a larger plot, specifically to turn Audric. To what end we cannot say.
Lieutenant Volstagg, Sergeant Amaroth and Serys held the line, covering the rest of the team’s retreat. RFC Grendel dragged Corporal Zathlan behind him as he ploughed through the deep snows. RFC Ranna dragged RFC Moldova who clutched an unconscious Corporal Daynore in her litter. Due in no small part to timely assistance from the Olaran, Braun, Volstagg and the others slew the pack, but the beasts had done their work to delay the Rangers. Kal calvary appeared, riding down the team.
Fortunately, the deep snow slowed the pursuing Kal, allowing the Rangers to evade. The chase lasted to the wee hours of the morning. Just before dawn on the 30th, Alpha Team crested a ridgeline, tumbling over the sheer cliff into a snowbank. As they clawed their way free, Sergeant Amaroth spotted a Tempest Castra dominating the valley before them with a clear field of fire for hundreds of yards in every direction. With the Kal cavalry moments from riding over the ridge, the Team was caught between a rock and a hard place.
Lieutenant ordered the team forward, and then began shouting commands at the Tempest in their own tongue, directing their fire at the cavalry. Under stormfire cover, Alpha Team reached the Tempest Castra. Though tense at first, Lieutenant Volstagg was surprised to see “Tempari”, the Tempest Magus they had worked with in the desert.
Tempari ordered that Alpha Team be healed and fed. While there, he also had his artificer examine Corporal Daynore and Corporal Zathlan’s collars. Daynore’s he reported as being an “unbreakable” artifact, nearly shattered by Daynore’s power. Whatever creature has possessed the Adept is far more powerful and dangerous that we imagined. As for Nexus, her collar was confirmed to be even more advanced and of a make not of this Realm. Though, Tempari claimed it was not of Tempest make.
Based on the recent revelations around Xaos, it can be assumed that the collar was purchased from outside Shaintar. This begs the question from where and by whom? For security reasons, Sergeant Minor Longtail, on orders from the Colonel, have been circumspect in exactly WHO has been handling arrangements to recover Alpha Team. In fact, I believe that Longtail even outsourced everything.
No part of the support or rescue operations for Alpha Team from the Defiant Lands have been handled, organized, or funded by anyone currently or formerly a member of Grayson’s Gray Rangers. Moreover, none of the operations have been overseen by anyone currently residing or working in the city of Echer’Naught…
Healed, fed, and informed, Tempari’s scouts alerted the Castra to the arrival of Kal forces. Tempari informed the team that the hill castra was only their forward scouting operation. A larger, more heavily fortified castra was behind lines nearby.
As troubling as this revelation is strategically for operations against Tempest, tactically, retreating behind Tempest lines served the immediate needs of the team. Providing a single Explorator scout, Tempari sent the team to the main Tempest castra while he “dealt with” the approaching Kal.
Why Tempari seemed so willing to assist the team remains a question. I suspect that had events not transpired, their stay would have been involuntarily long. Regardless, Tempari was not seen again and his scout castra was presumably destroyed by the Scorched Priestess and her Tor Sadais guard.
It took the better part of the 30th to push through the deep snow, but late on the same day, Alpha Team arrived in site of the castra…
…only to find it destroyed and the garrison slaughtered.
After the Explorator cleared the fort, Alpha Team arrived to find the main gate shattered, holes blown through the walls and the remains of the Tempest garrison lying scattered about. Alpha Team examined the carnage and agreed on two facts. First, the Kal did NOT destroy this castra. Second, the attacking force used some variant of arcfire, and alien weapons similar to, but distinct from, Xaos. Tapping into the creature inside, Corporal Daynore reported visions of nine foot spears, which was consistent with the holes punched clean through Tempest armor. Clearly, there is more happening in the Defiant Lands than reports indicate…which might explain Colonel Wolfhaven’s reasoning for placing the Legio Heroes keep on the west side of Tar’Imas. Idly, I am curious how much more aware he is of what is actually occurring beyond our borders?
The Explorator and Alpha Team cleared the ruined castra finding no one alive, but no sign of the attackers. They DID find tracks indicating this new foe fought in a large, block formation style unknown to any armies within Shaintar, but little else. Once certain none of the enemy remained, the explorator directed the Team to recover and secure the fort until he, or Tempari, returned, and then he departed to report the attack to the scout castra.
Alone, Lieutenant Volstagg proceeded to raid the arcfire supplies and search the area, Sergeant Amaroth took RFC Grendel and RFC Ranna to fortify the longhouse. Serys scouted, with Braun on lookout. Late in the eve, Corporal Zathlan went into labor, and a pregnant RFC Moldova tended to her.
Hours later, with Nexus still in labor, the Rangers convened to discuss the situation, but were interrupted by a shout from Serys. Lieutenant Volstagg and Sergeant Amaroth mounted the gate steps to peer into the gloom. Picked out against the white of the snow were two figures, the hulking form of the Tor Sadais, and the diminutive figure of the Scorched Priestess. Just outside of even Sery’s range, they stopped, the Tor Sadais lifted and beheaded the Explorator and casually tossed his body aside.
It would seem Tempest fared about as well against the Kal as they fared against whoever destroyed the castra. Once the Kal appeared, Lieutenant Volstagg ordered his troops to the wall, leaving RFC Moldova with Corporal Zathlan. While the Rangers formed, the Scorched Priestess summoned a Horde Champion, and then used High Magic Teleport to drop the demon behind the castra’s defensive wall, splitting the Ranger defense.
Immediately, the demon laid into the Rangers, inflicting grievous wounds, while destroying the entire gate structure with fire breath. Both RFC Grendel and Ranna were crushed under the rubble, along with Corporal Daynore. Lieutenant Volstagg, Serys, and Braun were trapped outside the ruined gate, facing down the still approaching Kal, while Sergeant Amaroth was trapped inside with the demon, being bathed in hellfire.
However, before the Horde Champion could finish, a crystalline DRAGON burst from the rubble and set upon the demon. Though the dragon appeared to ignore the Rangers, it neither avoided harming them. Sergeant Amaroth, equipped with little more than an iron longsword fell back as a last line protecting the longhouse and the pregnant women within. Lieutenant Volstagg attempted to shoot the demon with a recovered arclance, but the weapon fizzled. He never got a second shot, as the Tor Sadais closed within striking range.
The three warriors outside the gates braced for the attack as the Tor Sadais sped into melee with Volstagg. As a member of the Emperor’s personal guard, the Tor Sadais are peerless warriors, known for brutality. Were he fully healed and well armed and armored, Sir Volstagg might have stood a chance. But, run down like a wounded stag, the Olaran knight was powerless. With a single blow, the Tor Sadais dismembered him at the right elbow, then punted him into the rubble.
Serys shouted for Braun to drag the wounded knight back inside, while he laid down covering fire, but to little avail. Behind them, demon and dragon grappled, the larger dragon gaining the upper hand. With one last savaging, the dragon slew the demon, sending him back to the abyss. What he would have done then, is only speculation.
At the moment Volstagg fell, his wife, Lady Zathlan, gave birth to their daughter, the first of two twins. No longer amused by the hunt, the Scorched Priestess drew upon her power and shattered Corporal Daynore’s Dragon spell, dropping him to the ground, fatigued and spent. She then ordered the Tor Sadais to stand down, and present the Team with a choice: A) Surrender Nexus’ twins (how she knew they were twins is a topic of debate) and Daynore, B) All die while the children and adept be taken anyway. They were given on hour.
Why she did this is another point of contention and speculation. Perhaps she truly believed the dire circumstances would compel the team to capitulate. Though, if she knew anything about the Alpha Team, or Rangers in general, she must have known they would never agree. Or, perhaps there is a more sinister calculation?
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