Shaintar_J&L_Rangers of Barak

Session 5: Tick-Tock the Builders are here!

Mission Assignment:
The Grey Rangers of Barak enter the ruins of a dwarven clanhome, trying to find a way back to Barak. Behind them a force of Kal-A-Nar and Childer troops thirst for their blood, ahead of them a glooming darkness that thirsts for their souls…

After Action Report:
Grey Lantern Report: Barak, 30th of Red Wolf, 3122, Montar Reporting

25 or so children and they had to bring them into the depths of an abandoned dwarven clanhome that contained who knows what horrors! That everyone survived is a testament to either the superior skill and bravery of the Rangers, or sheer luck. From what I’ve seen of these Rangers so far, I wouldn’t bet against the former.

After hastily erecting a loose barricade of rocks and boulders designed to slow down the Kal troops and Childer at their backs, the small group cautiously made their way into the clanhome proper.

What I know of Clan Hearthblade and their abandoned home is not much, but rumors speak of a prideful clan chieftain and his desire for riches and fame. The dwarves of Hearthblade found a small supply of White Silver and thought that it’s presence meant there was a motherlode somewhere nearby. In their attempts to find the precious ore they disturbed something they shouldn’t have. No one knows exactly what they found or exactly what happened, but darkness and corruption followed and soon no one heard from Clan Hearthblade again.

The group travelled a long while in the darkness before finally coming into the clanhome proper. They saw a gigantic cavern that had been formed into a deep hole, a spiralling staircase descending down through the levels. A series of ropes and pulleys was also evident, baskets attached to the ropes, used to transport materials and people quickly from level to level. The first level was filled with warehouses and other large rooms used for the day-to-day dealings of the clanhome. Of note were the ornate decorations carved into the walls and staircase, a sure sign that the clan chieftain was very concerned with keeping up appearances.

As the group travelled further the signs of age and disuse became more evident; cracked floors and walls, rotting furniture, crumbling crates, etc. The darkness was also heavy, an almost physical presence that the light of torches barely cut through.

About halfway between the first and second levels they began to find a glowing, geenish substance seeping throughout the walls of the clanhome. The substance looked almost alive, pulsing and twisting as it coursed through the walls. After some discussion, Cassiel stepped forward and examined the substance. A moment after he touched it, he gasped in pain and fell to the floor. Blood trickled from the corners of his eyes and his ears and he could only say that there was a sense of nature corrupted that he’d never heard of before.

After making sure that Cassiel was in no immediate danger they continued onwards. The signs of ruin became stronger the further they travelled and the ornateness was not as evident, almost as if the clan had begun to run out of money. The sense of unease also grew stronger as the greenish substance became more prevalent in the walls.

As they reached the second floor they sensed a presence amongst them; a shadowy shape that could be heard giggling and moving around in the chambers they were passing. As they stopped and listened, Ailirria felt something poke her in the back and when she turned around there was an odd-looking dwarf standing before her.

The Rangers, after some conversation, found out that standing before them was a Builder named Tick-Tock. It was very obvious that Tick-Tock was not in his right mind. He spoke of wanting to keep a couple of children for company, and to eat! Angus was able to speak with odd fellow and convince him that the Rangers were friends and that Tick-Tock should go play his game of “Blind Man’s Death” with the Kal and Childer troops that were up above. Before he left Tick-Tock promised to answer one question for his new friends. The group asked Tick-Tock where the back gate to the clanhome was and Tick-Tock actually gave them an honest answer.

Shaking their heads in wonderment at the strange encounter they just had the group continued onwards, following the directions that their newfound “friend” had given them. A greater sense of urgency overtook the group as the darkness swelled around them. The greenish substance seemed to grow in strength as it pulsed from the walls, it’s sickness seeping out like tendrils of disease to touch members of the band. Ailirria began to bleed from the eyes as the sickness overtook her. Some of the children began to grow ill as well.

Sounds of movement began to be heard from the dark corners of the clanhome, as if the “visitors” had awakened something that had laid dormant for years. Finally spying the tunnel that led to the back gate the brave band moved quickly forward.

Bursting into the tunnel they were met by an awful sight; groups of undead, both skeletons and zombies shuffled forward under the command of a dark-robed figure who stood at the far end of the hallway between the group and the safety they sought. Two chains extended from the floor, the green substance flowing over them and into the gate in an attempt to fully seal it and prevent escape.

The Grey Rangers of Barak immediately lept into combat, knowing that they had very little time to gain their escape. Angus, as has become his heroic signature, strode forward to engage as many opponents as he could, his axe sweeping a path as it slice through bone and rotting tissue. Cassiel’s hands wove deadly arcs as light burst from them, incinerating the undead. Ailirria’s bow sang as she released arrow after arrow in deadly, precise fashion against her opponents.

Time was running out on the heroes, a gigantic bone golem had formed behind them, the gate was quickly shutting, and the weary Rangers had just about expended all of their energy. At this point, the young girl, Illendra, stepped forward and somehow transferred some of her essence into Cassiel giving him the opportunity to finally blast the two chains that were being used to shut the gate. Heartened that escape was in their grasp the Ranger pressed forward agains the robed figure. Cassiel’s bolts and Ailirria’s arrows finally won the day as the robed figure was forced to retreat. At the same moment, Angus was able to single-handedly bring down the Bone Golem (or so I’m told).

Angus opened the wound on his hand and used his blood to open the gate and the group fled to safety, not even glancing back once as the exit slammed shut.

Additional Information:
3 experience points were awarded for this adventure.

Important NPCs:
Tick-Tock: A demented Builder that the Rangers met in the ruined halls of the dwarven clanhome. He considers the Rangers his “friends” even though they did not stay around to play Blind Man’s Death with him.

Session 4: The Lost Boys and Girls

Mission Assignment:
The Rangers of Barak must get a group of young orphan children to safety, needing to travel through the dangerous wilderness with both Childer and Kal-A-Nar troops in the area…

After Action Report:
Grey Lantern Report: Barak, 28nd of Red Wolf, 3122, Montar Reporting

I’m beginning to wonder what is giving me more gray hairs; my own investigations or the troubles that the new Rangers of Barak are getting themselves into?

The ensuing hours after the Rangers had fought off the childer attack on the children’s camp were filled with a flurry of activity.

The Rangers spoke, for a time, with the “leader” of the children, a Nazatirian named Ondino de Batiz Delgado. Ondino explained that the children were war orphans who had come together over the course of the past year and lived in the wilderness, watched over by him and a few of the older children. Ondino named himself and Angus as Blade Brothers due to the fact that they had fought side by side against the Minotaur.

Angus rapidly dug a gargantuan hole for the enemy dead to be placed into while a group of children watched his activity, clambered all over him, and pelted him with questions.

Cassiel and Ailirria spent quite a bit of time with a small girl named Illendra who Ondino was paying particular attention to. Cassiel, especially, was very drawn to the child as she was emanating waves of raw magical power that seemed very much at odds with her age and demeanor. The girl was somewhat reticient about speaking with the two Rangers, even going so far as to, at one point, asking if Ailirria was a succubus.

Ondino was asked about Illendra, but didn’t really seem to have any more information that would help explain the oddities surrounding her. He did note that they had found her one night rifling through the foodstores in the camp and, when first confronted, she had acted very feral almost as if the concept of civilization were foreign to her.

The only other incident of note during the evening was Illendra giving Angus’ horse the name of Starfire. Slightly odd in that Angus had never named the beast and, yet, Illendra was more than assured that it was the horse’s proper name.

In the morning, after a hearty breakfast, the rag-tag crew set out. Ailirria had been sent ahead to scout the path and also to warn Falconspire about the incoming group of orphaned children. Angus, Cassiel, and Ondino took up defensive positions, forming a square around the children as they began to move southward at a careful, steady pace.

After a few miles of travel it became very apparent that the small group was being chased through the wilderness by a large contingent of enemies. Ratzin began appearing, scampering and howling along the cliffs on either side of the group and winged enemies could be seen circling in the sky.

A sense of urgency overtook the group, the children were obviously frightened, and they knew that there would be no way to defeat such a large group of foes in a pitched battle while trying to protect all the children. They began looking around for a way to escape, or to hide. As they were discussing their options the winged enemies began a diving attack on the group…

Cassiel stepped up, his hands quickly weaving light into the form of missiles. Standing resolute as the gargoyles, for the winged enemies had finally become clearly visible, dove straight him, Cassiel raised his hands and bolts of crackling light sped from him towards the gargoyles. With unerring accuracy Cassiel’s magical bolts struck the three gargoyles, dropping each one from the sky in a blaze of white light and scorched flesh.

The rest of the gargoyles in the sky drew back a bit, obviously wary of the magical prowess that had just been put on display. The Rangers took the brief respite they had gained to travel in the direction of a series of Dwarven roadmarkers that they had discovered in the underbrush.

Oddly enough the road markers were crumbling and in ruin. Odd because most dwarven markers are usually kept in good condition by the dwarves of the clanhome that the markers point toward. As the group got closer to the entrance it dawned on Angus what they were approaching.

Angus had heard tales of clanhomes that had turned to darkness, the inhabitants becoming Dwerg. He began to realize that the small group was approaching just such a place. He shuddered a bit inwardly as he realized that they were going to have to enter the clanhome of Clan Hearthblade. The tales he’d heard spoke of a prideful clan leader who wanted to be the richest of all dwarves, it spoke of how his pride and greed made him dig ever deeper in search of the White Silver that the clan had found evidence of, and, finally, it spoke of something they had awakened deep in the bowels of the earth that caused their downfall. The clanhome had closed its gates many years ago and any tales of the clanhome had receded into the realm of the cautionary and stories told to frighten young dwarven children.

Knowing that they did not have much choice, for the force following them was growing large, the group plunged into the dark tunnel that led towards the main gates of Clan Hearthblade. Following the tunnel they found the massive gates of the clanhome locked with only a simple phrase written amidst the dried blood that covered the gates….“Fallen into darkness, corruption has taken them. Enter if you wish your own death, or to become one of them. Dwarven blood to open doors of darkness.”

Oddly enough, Ailirria had rejoined the group at this point, though no one really bothered to ask how she’d come back. The group was just happy to have her back with them. As Angus studied the door the rest of the group all pitched in to form a barricade at the tunnel entrance.

As they carried rocks and boulders from the rubble in the tunnel they could see that the enemies following them had spread out across the front of the entrance and the leader, a giant of a man clad in the blackest of full plate armor, had approached.

The plate-clad figure spoke in a booming, eerie voice, demanding the the group turn over Illendra or face extinction. The Rangers and children tried to ignore the enemy force as much as possible as they continued constructing the barricade. As the last rock fell into place and they prepared to fight to the end there was a flash of light behind them and the sound of rusted gates slowly opening.

Turning around they saw Angust standing by the open gates, quickly wrapping a bandage around his bleeding hand. With a shrug, Angus pointed to the darkness beyond the gates. Knowing that they faced certain death if they stayed where they were, the group plunged into the darkness beyond the gates.

As their torches cast light into the are they found themselves and the gates shut behind them the group gasped as they saw the tableau spread before them; corpses stacked up by the gates, their clawed, frozen hands stuck in position where they’d died frantically scratching at the gates to get out…

Additional Information:
Two experience points were awarded for this session.

Important NPCs:
Ondino de Batiz Delgado: A Nazatirian male, dressed in rich colors and deadly with his rapier, who is the de facto leader and protector of the group of orphaned children the Rangers of Barak found hiding in the wilderness north of Barak. The group was responsible for the thefts at the farms surrounding Barak.

Illendra: A young girl, perhaps eight or so, who was found with the group of orphaned children the Rangers have rescued. Illendra has displayed an amazing amount of magical power for one so young, though none of the Rangers really know why.

Session 3: Trouble in the Farmlands

Mission Assignment:
The Grey Rangers of Barak head into the northern wilderness to investigate recent robberies at farms near Barak.

After Action Report:
Grey Lantern Report: Barak, 22nd of Red Wolf, 3122, Montar Reporting

My travels through the Wildlands continue, my investigations into the disruption of our communication system is proving frustrating and fruitless. I fear that there is something very sinister at work, but I have no evidence of what exactly. It frustrates me to no end that I can not spend more time in Barak where our very small contingent of Rangers continues to be beset by trouble. I can only hope that they continue showing the skill and courage that they have displayed so far. Luckily, our carrier pigeons are not being disrupted and I can continue watching over them from afar.

The day after the confrontation in the abandoned church to Archanon began with an interrogation of the newest Kal prisoner. Wisely choosing a non-confrontational approach, Angus plied the prisoner with a hearty breakfast and friendliness. Somewhat amazingly the ploy actually worked!

The Rangers learned, amongst other things, that the Kal company they fought had been operating in the area of Barak for around a year. They learned that there are other Kal warbands still operating in the area for different purposes. It seems that the warbands are operating as secret cells, each band unaware of what the other is doing. The prisoner, unlike the other one, also gave his name as Ragnar.

Most disturbing is that the War Priestess of Ceynara that they defeated the night before would often take fanatical Kal warriors into her tent at night and not for the purpose that you’d think! The men that entered her tent did so willingly and they would never be seen again. When asked the War Priestess would only say, “Blood for the Fire Goddess. She needs to feed, as do her servants.”

Having gained as much information as they could the Rangers decided that the two Kal prisoners would probably be better off being held in Barak proper at the jail there. The RTC Marines helpfully said that they would escort the prisoners there on their way back to the barracks in town.

As the Rangers were eating breakfast they discussed their plans; they figured that they should find out more about the other Kal warbands operating in the area and were deciding how to go about that when two members of the Town Council of Barak showed up at the compound.

Riding inside an ornate coach usually reserved for royalty were Torran Arvensson and Cealinn Meihnare. To make it brief; Torran is, to put it kindly, a pompous, overbearing ass whose girth is only matched by his displays of wealth. He has made his wealth with the Aldenhop grain that is used to brew Dark Alden ale. Cealinn is a kindly, older woman who many say is the wisest council member in Barak. Cealinn is, unfortunately, overridden in most matters by Torran.

Torran, acting like the idiot he is, managed to offend all of the Rangers; Angus by ignoring him because he is a dwarf, Ailirria by spending most of his time staring at her chest and making lewd comments, and Cassiel because of his sheer arrogance.

Amazingly enough, Torran did not manage to get gutted and beheaded and was able to explain the reason for his visit. It seems that there has been a recent rash of robberies occurring at the farms to the north of Barak. While no one had been seriously hurt during the robberies, the Town Council felt that the robberies bear investigating since there are so many reports of Childer, Kal Warbands, and other dark groups in the area. The fact that one of Torran’s farms was recently robbed may have something to do with it as well…

The Rangers readily agreed to investigate and quickly made arrangements with Ostar, Surlik, and Breechie to take care of the compound while they were away. Within an hour the three Rangers were packed up and on the move northwards.

Reaching the farms in good time the Rangers spent some time investigating the farms that had been robbed and were also able to speak with one farmer who had been assaulted during the course of a robbery. The farmer related that he had just been subdued and tied up and that the robbers had taken only a minimal amount of grain and one cow before leaving. He could not tell who the robbers were as he had been knocked unconscious and then blindfolded. It was of interest, though, that no serious injury had been inflicted upon the farmer and that his farm had suffered no damage. This lead the Rangers to believe that the attacks were not being carried out by Childer who would have caused much more destruction.

The farmer brought the Rangers over to the site of the attack and Ailirria was able to quickly pick up the tracks and follow them into the wilderness to the north. Over the span of the next few hours the Rangers made their way through the wilderness, Ailirria carefully tracking the entire way, her outdoor skills very much on display.

Just as dusk was falling the Rangers finally reached the end of their journey and were very surprised to find an encampment of children hidden in a ring of forested hills. Carefully scanning the encampment the Rangers were able to determine that there were perhaps 25-30 children lead by four young adults one of whom, a Nazatirian by his looks, seemed to be the obvious leader. Torn tents and scraps of cloth served as “homes” for the children and it obviously looked like the group moved around a fair amount. The Rangers also saw obvious signs (sacks of grain, a cow, etc.) that they’d found their mysterious farm robbers.

As the Rangers huddled and tried to decide their next course of action a breeze brought a foul stench to their nostrils. Quickly determining the source of the smell they were dismayed to see a force of Ratzin, led by a Minotaur, cresting a hill near the children’s encampment. It was fairly obvious that the Childer force was preparing an attack on the children.

With not much time to plan the Rangers sprang into action! Like they stealthy warriors they are..wait, who am I kidding…Angus blundered through the underbrush like a diseased rhino with eyesight problems, Cassiel made a point of carefully finding every dry branch he could and hopping up and down on it like a jackrabbit hopped up on sweets, and Ailirria..well..Ailirria does have some skill in moving quietly and unobserved in the wilderness so she was able to gain a position on a hill overlooking the Childer force.

As the Childer began to move down the hill towards the children’s encampment, Angus stepped out from behind a tree and whistled loudly drawing the attention of the Ratzin and Minotaur. Cassiel engaged a group of Ratzin on the flank and Ailirria rose from her hiding spot, her bow drawn and ready to fire.

A chaotic melee followed; Angus single-handedly stood his ground against the ferocious attacks of the Ratzin and Minotaur, his axe flashing in deadly sweeps that decapitated and disemboweled the Ratzin in their tracks, his sturdy body taking repeated strikes from the heavy weapon of the Minotaur.

Cassiel’s magic bolts of lightning crackled forth from the sky and his fingers, jolting and burning the Ratzin that were scampering around him, their claws and swords causing an array of wounds across the Eldakar’s body as he grimly stood his ground.

Ailirria fired her bow as quickly as she could, whittling down the Ratzin surrounding Cassiel. At one point she slid down the hillside, firing her bow as she went, her arrows finding homes in the skulls of her opponents.

In the end, all of the Rangers were bleeding from numerous wounds; Cassiel and Ailirria were fighting back to back taking down the Ratzin one by one with ferocious strikes from their swords. Angus, blood streaming down his face, nearly obscuring the vision in his one good eye, stood against an overwhelming force consisting of the Minotaur and a dozen Ratzin. The Nazatirian had joined the melee at this point, standing by Angus’ side, his rapier flashing in the fading light.

As the last ray of light was filtering through the trees the battle ended as Ailirria’s arrow flew true, embedding itself in the neck of the Minotaur who had been severely weakened by the heroic efforts of Angus. The Minotaur fell at Angus’ feet with a thud. The remaining Ratzin tried to flee through the trees but they were quickly cut down by the children who had, at this point, joined the fight and were using rocks and sticks as weapons.

With the fight ended and no other obvious threat nearby the Rangers turned and began talking to Nazatirian and the children…

Additional Information:
The players were awarded 2 experience points for this adventure.

Important NPCs:
Torran Arvensson: Fat, pompous wealthy merchant in his mid-40s who is a member of the Town Council of Barak.

Cealinn Meihnare: Older woman. Kindly yet overshadowed by Torran Arvensson. She is another member of the Town Council of Barak.

Session 2: Flames of Ceynara

Mission Assignment:
Investigation into why the traitor, Santik Tiresen, led Kal soldiers into a Grey Ranger compound for the express purpose of destroying the compound and killing all within.

After Action Report:
Grey Lantern Report: Barak, 19th of Red Wolf, 3122, Montar Reporting

I write this report as I travel through the Wildlands, searching for answers as to why our messenger network is being disrupted. Leaving the small contingent of Grey Rangers in Barak alone fills my mind with unease, but I will have to trust in their training and courage.

Saying farewell to fallen comrades never gets easier. Before I left on my mission we laid to rest more than a dozen good Grey Rangers in the graveyard overlooking Falconspire. The ceremony was brief, it saddens me that we did not have more time but the grave danger we are in does not allow the luxury of time. I have promised myself that when this war ends I will come back and pay my proper respects.

I have cobbled together this report from the debriefings of all three Rangers involved in the mission. Surlik, the Goblin caretaker at Falconspire, trains our messenger birds very well and they were not disturbed as they made their way to me.

After I left the compound, the remaining Rangers set about interrogating the one Kal-A-Nar warrior that they had managed to capture during the last mission. He was, shall we say, less than forthcoming. It is, I believe, a truism to state that most Kal warriors are more afraid of the punishments that Ceynara and her minions can dole out than any interrogation methods a captor can use. Angus and Ailirria tried various means to extract information, ranging from Intimidation to some physical coercion, but all were for naught. They did learn that the traitor, Santik Tiresen, had been working with the Kal troop and was definitely the one who had let them into Falconspire.

As the attempted interrogation was winding down the compound was visited by two men, Lieutenant Altir Merran (leader of the Royal Trade Coalition Marines in Barak) and Mulrik Evanson (Mayor of Barak). The two men brought news of very recent disturbances at some gravesites in Barak.

It seems that, during the attack of the other evening, three bodies had been taken from their burial plots. Of note is that nothing else was taken, only the bodies. The fact that no possessions were taken from the graves is what made the Lieutenant and Mayor decide to bring it to the attention of the Grey Rangers. That, and the fact that the desecrations happened during the night of the attack made the events seem related.

After careful questioning of the two men the Rangers were able to determine some facts that seemed very significant. In life, the three people whose bodies had been taken had all been paragons of innocence and “light” until a few weeks before they had died when their actions had become very dark. The Rangers also learned that each of the three had a strange symbol on their bodies that no one remembered being there before they started acting strangely. The three had also been killed during the opening stages of the War of Flame, all on the same night. Lastly, and perhaps most significant at the time, the Rangers learned that there was a fourth citizen with the same characteristics of the three being discussed that was not buried in the town of Barak. Rather, she had been buried in the hills outside of town at a small cemetary used by mining families.

The Rangers quickly jumped into action after getting directions to the cemetary. Angus had the presence of mind to ask Lieutenant Merran if he could send a squad of RTC Marines to Falconspire to watch over the Kal prisoner while they were gone.

Riding their horses as hard as they could over the hilly terrain the Rangers sped towards the cemetary, arriving in good time. Oddly enough, I’m told that at one point during the journey Cassiel stopped and asked the other two, Angus and Ailirria, if they had…“heard that too.” Considering that the only noise was the thundering of the horses hooves I find this strange and a little bit disturbing. I will have to make sure that I keep an eye on this situation. Hopefully it was nothing but nerves.

The cemetary was in a wooded copse, most of the area having been reclaimed by vegetation over the years. Ailirria used her skills to get closer to the cemetary without being seen. She saw five Kal gathered around a gravesite, four warriors and a woman dressed in what appeared to be priestly raiments. Stealthily making her way back to her friends, Ailirria reported what she had seen.

The group quickly made plans; they were going to make a wider arc around the cemetary and, hopefully, fall upon the Kal group with surprise on their side. A good plan, in retrospect, however, it all went for naught when one of the group stepped on a branch, stumbled forward, tripped on his robes, and finally fell forward onto a dry tree branch that splintered with the sound of thunder. What? Oh, no it wasn’t the dwarf, it was Cassiel, the eldakar.

The element of surprise was lost, so the Rangers quickly jumped into action. Angus dashed forward using trees as cover as he went. Ailirria dove for cover behind a small, crumbling stone wall. Cassiel picked himself up, brushed off his robes, and mumbled something about hidden snares.

The combat that followed was brief, if brutal. There is no questioning the fighting skills of these new Rangers, that is for certain. Angus roared into melee, keeping the attention of the Kal Warriors while Ailirria’s bow hummed with precision and Cassiel’s bolts of lightning flew with unerring accuracy, lighting up the darkened cemetary. The Kal contingent were no match for the Rangers, all warriors and the priestess falling within 30 seconds of the fight beginning.

After the combat, Ailirria searched the body of the Priestess while Angus and Cassiel saw to interring the body that the Kal had uncovered. Ailirria found this parchment on the body of the Priestess;

The Rangers quickly discerned that a ritual of some kind using the four bodies was starting soon, or had already started. They knew that it was being done at a place of power, but, being new to the area, they had no idea where such a place might exist nearby. There was nothing for them to do but hurry back to Barak and find someone with enough knowledge to aid them.

They reached Barak as night was beginning to fall. Hastening to the Shrine to Archanon in Barak they managed to find a Priestess who was able to help them. The Priestess told them that there was a ruined church to Archanon about an hour to the south of Barak. She explained that the church was built a long time ago by agents of the Prelacy of Camon to help spread their false teachings. The church was destroyed a hundred years ago when Archanon appeared in the world and the Church of Light was formed. As the Priestess relayed her information the ground rumbled slightly, as if a minor earthquake was occurring. The Rangers all looked at each other, knowing exactly was happening.

Thanking the Priestess for the information, the Rangers sped to the south, quickly finding the ruined church from the directions given to them by the Priestess. Night had fallen across the land as the Rangers approached the crumbling structure, only an eerie red glow seeping from cracks in the upper foundation of the church illuminated the area. Seeing only horses milling around the church, the Rangers quickly sped into action. Quickly taking the stairs leading down into the church basement the group were met with a horrific sight…

A contingent of Kal Warriors and Adepts were in the middle of enacting their foul ritual. Four pools of bubbling lava were placed in the eastern end of the basement, each with an adept standing by it. The Adepts were concentrating fiercely on their magical weavings. Above each pool a body was slowly descending (the three bodies stolen from their graves by the Kal and a single Kal warrior who had, umm, “volunteered”) towards the lava. In the center of the four pools was a hastily constructed altar to Ceynara. Standing in front of the altar, a fierce grin upon her scarred face, was an imposing Priestess of Ceynara. It was very obvious to the Rangers that she was the focal point of the ritual. Between the Rangers and the ritual being enacted was a floor that had gaping holes, forming a deep chasm, filled with fire from the lava that was quickly rising due to the ritual being enacted. Past the chasm, and before the ritual participants, were five Kal Warriors wielding bows.

Without hesitation the Rangers flew down the stairs and began engaging their foes. Angus, without hesitation, launched himself through the air and over the lava filled chasm to engage the bow-wielding Kal warriors that had been peppering Cassiel with deadly missiles.

Ailirria and Cassiel began engaging their enemies from a distance, at first focusing on the War Priestess by the altar. They quickly discovered, however, that the Priestess was being shielded by a combined deflection spell being cast by the four Adepts standing by the pools. Cassiel was able to determine that killing the Adepts would cause the magical shield to fall, so the two ranged Rangers began focusing their efforts on doing just that.

As the combat continued gouts of lava flew from the chasm in the ground, landing on the floor randomly, shooting deadly lava in all directions when it landed. At one point, a ball of lava landed right between Ailirria and Cassiel, but they were able to agilely tumble away before sustaining any severe damage.

Adding to the urgency of the situation was the fact that each of the four bodies was getting closer to falling into their respective pools. The Rangers didn’t know exactly what would happen if the ritual finished, but surmised that it would be nothing good for them or for Barak.

The clash of steel, the hum of bowstrings, and the incantations of magic loudly resonated across the heaving basement. Angus maneuvered himself into a position where he was engaged with as many foes as he could be. Time and time again he used his shield and weapon to ward off enemy blows. When the blows did get past his defenses he would only grunt as his armor and stocky frame absorbed any lethal damage. One by one, Ailirria and Cassiel brought down the Adepts. As each one fell the magical barrier defending the War Priestess faded a bit more.

As the battle turned against her troops the War Priestess forced one of the Adepts to leap into a pool of lava. As the Rangers watched in horror the pool began to bubble and a monstrous creature seemed to be slowly forming within it.

Not wishing to have any part of fighting a creature of flame, the Rangers redoubled their efforts. Cassiel, even though bleeding copiously from an arrow wound at this point, managed to bring down the last Adept causing the shield to fall. Seizing the opportunity, Ailirria aimed carefully and released her last arrow. It flew true, striking the War Priestess in the chest and penetrating to the heart. The War Priestess fell, her last words an apology to Ceynara for her failure.

As the War Priestess fell the lava disappeared and the basement again became quiet. Ailirria and Cassiel searched the bodies of their fallen foes while Angus questioned the one Kal Warrior that had surrendered after the Priestess had fallen. This Kal was a bit more forthcoming than the one back at Falconspire. He told Angus that this particular troop of Kal had been operating within the area of Barak for a year. He also relayed that the ritual had been meant to destroy Barak by calling forth creatures formed of lava and flame that would have been set loose on the town in a fury of destruction. As to the reason why the warrior didn’t know, intimating that he was just a soldier and following orders.

All that remained was the makeshift altar and Angus took care of that with a few swipes of his axe. Interestingly enough, as he swung his axe it began to glow with a silverish light that caused the pieces of the altar to exploder whenever the blade touched them.

The Rangers returned to Barak, taking the three corpses with them and seeing that they were returned to their proper resting places.

Again, the Rangers of Barak have proven themselves. They handled a grave situation that might have made the strongest and most experienced amongst us have second thoughts. My confidence in them grows daily, I just hope they will be enough to stand against all that comes against them in the future.

Additional Information:
Three experience points were handed out to each character.

Important NPCs:
Mulrik Evanson: Thin, balding, and very fidgety. Mulrik is the council-elected Mayor of Barak.

Inggjerd kes Dorgan: Kalinesh War Priestess of Ceynara who attempted to enact a ritual that would have possibly destroyed Barak. Killed during a battle with the Rangers of Barak.

Thyri kes Dorgan: Sister to Inggjerd kes Dorgan. Supposedly a high ranking Priestess of Ceynara.

Session 1: A Morning of Mourning

Mission Assignment:
Get a new contingent of Grey Rangers to Barak and get them situated in their new home at Falconspire Tower.

After Action Report:
Grey Lantern Report: Barak, 15th of Red Wolf, 3122, Montar Reporting

I write this with a heavy heart, for death has again stalked the Grey Rangers and we have lost many valiant brothers and sisters. Yet, even in the midst of sorrow there is hope, for the actions of those who remain are a beacon of light in the darkness.

While I did not meet this contingent of Grey Rangers until they had actually arrived in Barak, I was able to piece together some of what happened on their journey.

The group came together in groups of two or three as they travelled northwards from Serenity, arriving from their various training camps across the Wildlands. From what I can gather the group mostly travelled in silence, each Ranger lost in their own thoughts. There were, however, some interactions; a Galean named Santik Tiresen was outwardly friendly throughout the journey, doing his best to engage almost everyone in conversation. He was particularly interested in conversing with a dwarf named Angus, taking time to praise the ale that the dwarf was carrying on his horse.

A human female named Merellen seemed to be very enamored of an Eldakar named Cassiel, to the point that some compared it to a schoolgirl crush.

The travelling group only stopped once, at the memorial on Crimson Rock. You will remember it as the spot where seventeen of our comrades were captured and then slaughtered one by one last year as the War of Flame was beginning. One of the travelling group, by the name of Ostar, made sure to stop, for his brother was one of the seventeen who fell. Ostar stopped by the boulder that has the weapons of the seventeen arrayed around it and their names etched into the stone. I believe he explained the story of what happened to the rest of the group. I can only imagine that it was very somber moment.

After the brief stop at the memorial they group finally arrived in Barak. They were warmly welcomed by the townsfolk (who must be very glad to see a new contingent of Rangers arrive to protect them) as they made their way through the town and then up north into the hills until they finally arrived at Falconspire.

They found Falconspire in the midst of renovations; the upper floors are still being repaired and the defensive wall is still taking shape. Surlik, his wife Bleechie, and their two children were there however, ready to serve the Grey Rangers as always. Amazing when you think about all the trouble that poor Goblin has seen that he would still serve so willingly.

After getting settled, the new group of Rangers gathered in the courtyard by the fire pit for dinner. Angus gladly shared his wonderful dwarven ale with everyone and as night fell, the mood brightened as some of the Rangers brought out their instruments and began to play. The majority of the group joined in the merriment, but I did take note that the Eldakar, Cassiel, wandered away from the group. I studied him for a bit from afar and there is a darkness, or perhaps great sorrow, within his soul. Yet, I can see that whatever happened has strengthened him as well, for there is a determination there that blazes strongly.

I did take note of a female Alakar named Ailirria who was quiet and spent most of her time studying her comrades and her surroundings as if to make sure that she would not be caught unaware by anyone or anything. I sense steel and resolve within her, yet also a softness that was evident in her interactions with the Goblin family.

The dwarf, Angus, as you will see, is a fierce warrior, an immovable force that will, in time, become one of our greatest fighters.

You may wonder why I only discuss my feelings about the above three Rangers? Simply, it is because they are the only Rangers of Barak left standing after what happened next.

As the night wound down I took my leave to head back into town and see about getting more supplies and workers. If I had only known…

In the middle of the night, a force of Kal soldiers attacked Falconspire. They were led into the compound by Santik Tiresen. Have we fallen so far that traitors can now be found in our ranks? Attacking from the darkness the Kal warriors quickly fell upon the inexperienced Rangers. The Rangers fought as well as they could, but were quickly overwhelmed and started falling one by one.

Angus and Cassiel, by virtue of sleeping in the basement because their rooms in the upper part of the tower were not ready yet, got some warning when the trapdoor to the room was opened and the corpse of Merellen was hurled down the stairs.

Angus’ fury at seeing one of his comrades murdered was great and he hurled himself up the stairs, knocking the trapdoor open and into the face of one of the Kal warriors. Cassiel went to Merellen, seeking to use his healing magic to save her, but her wound was too grievous and she died in his arms.

Cassiel made it up the stairs just in time to see Angus launch himself at the three remaining Kal warriors in the entryway. The dwarf was like a whirlwind of destruction as his weapon easily swept through his opponents like a scythe through a field of wheat. The fight in the entryway was over before it even started and the two of them hastily made their way outside.

What met them was a scene of chaos and confusion; the stables and supply shed were in flames. The corpses of Grey Rangers dotted the courtyard and only a few fights were still ongoing. One enemy was right by the doorway, about to drive his sword through the prone form of Surlik the Goblin. Angus smacked the Kal with his shield and then drove his weapon through his opponents chest.

At the same time, the Alakar, Ailirria, who had been sleeping outdoors in a small copse of trees, was stealthily making her way to the shed where two Kal warriors were menacing Bleechie and her two children. Furious at this situation, Ailirria rose from the shadows and with a flurry of arrows killed one of the Kal. The other Kal was dispatched by Cassiel with a bolt of white light that flew unerringly from his hands.

Meanwhile, Ostar appeared at Angus’ side, bloody and battered from the fights he’d engaged in but still living. As he was giving Angus a report Ostar suddenly fell to his knees, his hands reaching behind him, feebly trying to remove the arrow that was lodged in his back. Angus looked beyond Ostar’s kneeling form and saw a large Kal Battle Leader nocking another arrow and grinning fiercely. As Angus began running towards the Kal leader the arrow flew from his opponent’s bow and went through Ostar’s head, the force popping Ostar’s eyeball out onto the ground. Angus roared insults at the Kal Battle Leader who only laughed and leapt at the dwarf with his giant sword. Angus, however, was not to be denied. With an exultant warcry he swept his weapon through the Kal Battle Leader, splitting him in two from groin to head.

I’m not sure how to explain what happened next. Cassiel rushed to Ostar’s aid and…I almost find this impossible…brought his hands towards the dying man. The Eldakar’s hands filled with a blinding light that covered Ostar’s entire body. One by one Ostar’s wounds disappeared and his eyeball grew back! Great magic or truly touched by Landra? Even I don’t know, but it bears watching for it was one of the greatest acts of healing I’ve ever heard of.

Santik, the traitor, appeared out of the darkness at this point and scooped up the two crying goblin children and made his way out the front gate, defended by the remaining Kal warriors.

Leaving Ostar with Surlik and Bleechie the three remaining Rangers raced after Santik and the remaining Kal. They found him and his troops at the Flamebreak Bridge. Santik was in the center of the bridge, holding the two goblin children and laughing maniacally. Defending the Barak side of the bridge were four Kal warriors. At the bottom of the bridge was one Kal, holding a torch aloft, about to light the fuse on barrels of explosives that were tied around the piers of the bridge.

It sounds simple in the re-telling, but what followed was fairly amazing. In the span of less than 30 seconds, Ailirria managed to kill the torch-wielding Kal at the bottom of the bridge with one well-placed arrow to his neck. She followed that with two arrows into the shoulders of Santik who lost control of the goblin children. In the darkness at long distance? Incredible accuracy.

At the same time as Ailirria’s arrows were flying, Angust and Cassiel made short work of the four Kal warriors guarding the bridge. They all turned to go after Santik, but he had stumbled to the side of the bridge and fallen over the railing into the rushing river below.

The night was over, but it had been long and terrible. Only four Grey Rangers remain in Barak. Who was Santik and was he working for a greater power? Was the Kal company that attacked part of the Kalinesh Army or were they part of the Maelstrom Mercenary company? Answers will be forthcoming that I promise. Now I must again begin to rebuild and fervently pray that only four Grey Rangers can hold against the forces that work against them in Barak and its environs.

Important NPCs:
Surlik: Goblin caretaker of Falconspire Tower.

Bleechie: Wife of Surlik

Santik Tiresen: Former Grey Ranger. Traitor who led Kal soldiers into Ranger compound.

Lieutenant Altir Merran: Inexperienced leader of the Royal Trade Coalition Marines in Barak.

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