Survival

RUNE WAR pt 11

17th of Patchwall – Central Command 7:33pm

Nigel looked up at Fictuk, the Black Axe of Clan Aule, the two nodded at each other before staggering to the camp chairs in the command tent. They has dealt with 21 separate advances today, the last one being particularly ferocious, but had survived them all. Nigel reached to one of his trunks and pulled out a stoppered bottle, he raised it towards The Black Axe who nodded, Nigel fetched to clay cups from the chest.

“General” the Dactyl standing in the door was none other than Command Colth

“Commander, is Hrother with you? I am sure you two could use a drink as well” Nigel said reaching for two more cups

“Hrother is dead Sir, went down in the last attack” Nigel tossed one cup back into the chest and closed the lid. He unstoppered the bottle and poured a velvet brown liquid into the cups. Words were not needed as Dwarf, Dactyl and Halfling each took a cup raised it in silent salute and sipped; slowly they each sat down, Nigel and Fictuk in chairs Colth choosing the chest as a seat.

“Sir, our troops are…” Colth began but Nigel held up a hand and shook his head

“Five minutes Commander, five minutes and a drink, then we will dive back into grim reality” the Commander nodded his agreement to the matter and took another sip. All three had bruises and wounds; the grit was plastered to their faces but spells were too low to waste on superficial injuries and there was little point in washing when another attack was expected within the hour.

“Gentlemen” the baritone voice of Lord Strahd von Zarrovich was hard to miss, as he darkened the general’s door. He entered the tent without invitation and was followed by his two favorite shadows, Brigadier General Ivan Korvalich, an undead creature with great magical power and Darius, a Vampire and Strahds favorite minion.

“Welcome Lord Strahd, we are just taking a breather after the last engagement…” Nigel began

“Not something any of your lads’d need huh?” Fictuck murmured to Colth, the dactyl gave a tired grin, but supressed it when he saw that all three of the dead stared their way. Nigel rolled his eyes and continued

“Join us for a sit?”

The Death Knight, to Nigel’s surprise, accepted. The Death Knight nodded to Ivan who promptly strode forward, picked up Fictuks chair and emptied the dwarf unto the floor. Before the dwarf could even rise the creature was dusting the chair off and offering it to Lord Strahd, who promptly seated himself, Ivan and Darius flanking him. Fictuk pulled himself from the ground grumbling and moved around the desk finding room on the chest to sit with Colth.

“It is time to leave General,” the Death Knight said in a tone that was as assured as a man ordering his breakfast. “This front cannot be won with the troops we have, and we cannot reinforce this position, thus we must retreat to a point where we can teleport out, and evac from there” Nigel stared hard at Strahd for a long moment

“We have no idea how far that may be” the halfing said

“We do General…” Strahd offered “Darius here has managed to scout and locate the line, 57 kilometers due east of this position there is an field that allows teleportation”

“57 kilometers? Even if we abandoned everything and forced march, we would need to keep moving for over 14 hours. Longer for those of us who are not giants; you don’t think the enemy will overrun us and destroy on the road in that time?”

“Not all of us, by my calculations if we set up waves to hold back the advances, waves comprised of our slowest individuals mind you, we can be out of here in less than ten hours with only 89% casualties” The creatures tone was that of a man who was playing chess, not a man trapped behind enemy lines.

“89% ARE YA DAFT?” Fictuk was out of his seat and yelling. Nigel did not turn to face him he held up a hand and slowly the dwarf sat back down

“You would have us sacrifice our Dactyl allies and our walking wounded to save you and yours?” Nigel’s voice did not hold a tone of accusation he genuinely was asking. Lord Strahd had the manners to feign discomfort at the question.

“Not all of them, we have a few Knights of Tukin here, a couple Honalians, they are always looking for a chance to martyr themselves, why not here? And no General, not just me and my men, I can see the value of a command team and of wise leadership for the A of A; you and the other senior commanders would be priority members to get out”

“ah” was all the Halfling said as he poured himself a much larger drink, he took a long pull “and what of the other two fronts? What of Cee-Teera and Sir Alana or Sir Tristan and HornSlapper? Do we leave them as well?”

The Lord was not swayed by the argument “General Nigel, you do this kind of math every day, we have not heard from them in over 17 hours, if they are still alive they suffer the same fate as us and we cannot help them, realistically they are dead and scattered. The Wild Elves will run, the Knights will sacrifice… the trolls may survive scattered in the swamp, and perhaps we can send skilled scouts to find them and extract them, once we are in a position to do so… if we stay here however everyone dies” Nigel took another long drink

“Yer not seriously listenin’ ta this are ya Nigel?” Fictuk asked interrupting once more; Colth was stone silent watching the fate of him and his men being decided over a bottle of whiskey. Nigel took a deep breath

“You know that this is my sin?” he said to no one and everyone in the room while holding up his cup “It dehydrates you, and lowers the water level in your body, not exactly what a Torrent of Kelezandri should be in the habit of. And yet… I find I love the flavour, the sweet slight burn of it in my throat, the sherry taste followed by the smoky peaty aftertaste… I even love the thirst it gives me for water… I must admit that I have not been able to give it up as yet, and….”

“Yes, Yes…” the Death Knight interrupted “We are all very impressed with your way with words and your random verbal diarrhea that I am sure would colour a very succinct metaphor that no one gives a rats ass about… time is of the essence General, what say you?” Nigel’s brows furrowed

“No, I will not sacrifice 89% to run. We stay” he said in a forceful tone

“General, 89% is better than 100% you’d have us all die?” Strahd countered, anger creeping into his voice.

“I don’t see it that way, the tides will turn, and we just have to be ready”

“Really, the tides will turn, and what brilliant intel do you have that alludes to that? What is your master plan General?”

“My Plan… is to have faith, and that my faith will be rewarded, one way or another” Nigel locked eyes with the death knight as the two glowered at each other

“I don’t prescribe to your particular crazy religion; I need something more concrete than faith”

“Well, that’s too bad isn’t it? I imagine this would be a very frightening situation for one without faith” Nigel said in conciliatory tone that had just a dusting of sarcasm on it. Fictuk scoffed, earning him scowls from Ivan and Darius, Strahds eyes never left Nigels.

“I could leave?” Strahd said the threat evident

“I believe I am the ranking officer in this camp, you leave against my orders and it’s treason” Strahd was quiet at this for a long moment, trying to better assess the Halfling in front of him

“I believe I am the next most senior office, should something happen to you…” he let it hang out there in the room. Nigel did not flinch.

“Is this our time then Strahd, will Don-Ton finally strike off on its own?” Nigel stood, it was meant to be an imposing gesture but he was shorter on his feet than in his chair. The Halfling walked around the table as he spoke “If you try to leave, try to take your men, I will sacrifice every soul in this camp to assure you do not make it, our last act will be bringing you to justice for your treachery, don’t try me on this.”

“Don’t you dare threaten me you little…”

“YOU BET YOUR DEAD BONY ASS I AM THREATENING YOU!” Strahd blinked as the halflings voice boomed at him, no one had every spoken to him like this, no one he considered important anyway, nor had he ever expected it from such a small normally polite little creature. Strahd stood and in his shock took a half pace back

“I would remind you whom you are addressing Halfling” Strahd growled, Ivan’s hand drifted to the barbed sword at his side. Nigel continued to walk forward getting right under Strahd so he could yell up at him.

“I KNOW EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE STRAHD VON ZARROVICH, LORD OF DON-TON AND DEATH KNIGHT OF TALIB… and you know what? I don’t care… let me remind you who I am… I am NIGEL HODGENSON OF THE PRVOINCE OF LOCKLAND, HONASTICA! I am NIGEL HODGENSON HIGH GENERAL OF THE WAR COUNCIL OF THE ARMIES OF ARGYLE! I am NIGEL HODGENSON TORRENT OF THE BRACKISH EMPORER KELEZANDRI AND HIS HAND, HEART AND MOUTH ON THIS PLANE. I am not some paladin blinded by a hatred for you and your ilk, I am not an angel created to make war on evil. I am not some peasant who sits up at night in fear of you and your creatures. I am not a noble, nor do I care about ruling and being swayed by political power… nor do I desire or want for money, I am not one who can be bought. IF HIS WATERY GRACE SHOULD DECIDE THAT MY TIME IS TO END HERE AND NOW, THEN SO BE IT! I HAVE LIVED WELL UNDER HIS DOGMA AND DO NOT FEAR DEATH, FROM YOUR HAND NOR THE HAND OF ANY DENZIAN ANY WHERE! I KNOW YOU STRAHD, I RESEARCHED YOU THE MOMENT WE FIRST MET, AND I AM READY FOR YOU! READY FOR ALL OF YOU! DOES YOUR GOD…. THIS TALIB… DOES HE LOVE? DOES HE CARE FOR YOU? DOES HE LOVE YOU STRAHD? BECAUSE I KNOW KELEZANDRI LOVES ME, I AM FAVOURED OF HIS FLOCK, I AM IMPORTANT TO HIM AND HE SHOWS HIS LOVE FOR ME OFTEN! HE SENDS AVATARS TO PRTOECT ME AND MY PEOPLE! HE SENDS TITANS TO FIGHT ON OUR BEHALF! HE EMPOWERS MY SPELLS AND LIFTS MY SPIRITS! DOES YOUR GOD LOVE YOU LIKE MY GOD LOVES ME? DO YOU WANT TO TEST THAT? DO YOU?” there was a long silence as the two locked eyes; Nigel stared with all his heart he looked like a man who meant every word of what he said. Strahd was slowly weighing his options. The Halflings tone softened, slightly “I thought not… get out of my tent, and go get your men ready for the next wave… Colth, see to it my orders are followed”

Colth jumped to his feet “Yes Sir!”

“This isn’t over Halfling” Strahd growled as he turned to leave

“It is for tonight” Nigel responded in a tone of iron. The undead and his cohorts left the tent followed by the Dactyl Commander. Nigel finished his drink and poured himself a cup of water as he walked back to his desk and slumped back into his chair

“Wow… tha was… wow…” Fictuk said finally breaking the silence “Ya think ya could have taken him?” the dwarfs tone was one of equal parts appraising and impressed. Nigel turned giving him a frank look

“Are you kidding? I have like two spells left, if he leaves or fights us were dead, let’s just hope that sticks eh?” Nigel said taking another long gulp of water. Fictuk just stared in disbelief. The Halfling offered him a smile “Faith my friend… you GOT to have faith”

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RUNE War Pt 10

17th of Patchwall – Tukin War Room – 2:47pm

Selwyn poured through the scrolls at a breakneck pace, four knights and several Dactyl commanders sat in near silence in the room with her. She desperately wanted to race to the Battle and rescue her companions, but since miracle day had ended, every attempted summons that had occurred in the ninety or so days were suddenly going off now, liquidating her spells and leaving her with little to know magic and deeply fatigued. She had decided to give it another two days to see if it had worked out by then, in the mean time she was scouring Nigels reports and troop disposition graphs to find every man should could scrounge without leaving the line or any A of A holdings too weakened.

“Selwyn…” Sir Gales spoke up holding a scroll “I think I found another 300 men, the Pluckin Peppers, the Pluckin Purple People Eaters and the Pluckin Paulpers of the 3rd Dact Crossbows have been protecting a Ray Layotas Honey Farm? Anyway, their backed up by the 40th Dact Hammers, we should be able to pull them without risking anything to the Honey Farm and encampment there” Selwyn hoped up and moved around the table to look over Sir Gales shoulder, she smiled and clasped the knight on the shoulder seeing he was indeed right

“Good Work Gale, I think we can pull the Randy Teens and the Randy Hound Dogs from the 40th Dact Hammers as well, that would buy us another 200” she turned to the others “great work so far everyone, by my count we have almost two battalions, I would like another one if we can swing it, then we will turn our focus towards magical support. Anot…” she said turning to Sir Gale’s squire “Would you mind terribly heading down stairs and …” the door was opened and three people raced in, two humans dressed in porters garb and a dactyl wearing the gear of a cavalrymen

“Your Majesty!” the Dactyl Lieutenant came crisply to attention. Selwyn (and the others) stood, Selwyn nodded for the man to continue “Lieutenant Garth Fondfellow of the the Rockin Ram Riders at your service, seven hours ago I came across a Captain coming in from the mountain ridges behind the city Your Highness. He ordered me to get him to you ASAP, he’s badly wounded and would only go to the med hall if I promised to come get you forthwith, with her Majesties permission I’ll escort you presently” he ushered towards the door. Selwyn nodded turned back to her comrades

“Gentlemen, please keep at it, find me elven hundred more men, this mission it of the utmost importance… Sir Gale, would you mind joining me?” Selwyn asked in a calm tone

“Anything for The Hand” Sir Gale smiled nodding his head. Selwyn turned back to the waiting Dactyl

“Please Lieutenant, lead on”

The entered the medical hall; Selwyn was immediately struck by how silent the room was, she had expected clerics and doctors racing around striving to save the wounded solider, that was not the case. Eir stood by a bed, three another clerics accompanied her; the three took a knee as Selwyn approached, Eir offering a soft bow of respect. Selwyn made eye contact with her friend and saw the look she dreaded, if the Captain yet lived, he would not be long for this world. The Cleric leaned in towards the Queen and her Knight

“Selwyn, Sir Gale, please make your questions soft and two the point, he is in tremendous pain, and not long for this world, he lives only to deliver his message, such will is to be commended” her words said, the cleric stepped back, ushering her three other caregivers to do the same. Selwyn strode to one side of the bed, Sir Gale and Garth to the other.

“I am here Captain,” Selwyn began is a soft soothing voice, wiping the sweat from the wounded dactyls brow “speak your words to me now, and know that you have done your service well” at her words the Captains eyes snapped open, wide taking in all he could, his eyes looked over the Queen and he nodded, a look of sorrow and pain crossed his face as tears filled his eyes

“I’m so sorry Majesty… I failed you… I failed…. urgh… hurk” he coughed and sputtered, Eir quickly and quietly came to his side, laying a spell of comfort and offering a sip of water, when he had calmed her eyes locked with Selwyns once more, they signified time was truly of the essence

“No Captain, you are here now, please, speak your words so that we may let you rest” the queen said, no frustration entering her voice. The Captain squirmed in pain and continued to cry silently as he tried to from the words, all leaned in to hear his whisper of a voice

“Miracle Day is over… it’s over…” he began to cough again, Selwyn continued to speak comforts hoping this man did not kill himself to inform her of something they all knew, but the captain managed to continue “they attacked the moment it ended… they took them… killed us all… nothings left…” Selwyn looked at Sir Gale, he had already pulled a quill and was writing everything the man said verbatim.

“Who did they kill? Who attacked Captain” she asked in a slow soothing tone

“I’m sorry… wasn’t strong…” he locked eyes with the Queen “I don’t wanna die… Please…. I don’t wanna die!” Selwyn couldn’t help looking at Eir; tears were already filling her giant blue eyes but she firmly shook her head again. “please… please…” the dactyl began to sputter and cough once more, again spells of healing were laid, but he did not recover from his episode and within three minutes, the Captain was dead. Selwyn looked up at the Dactyl Lieutenant

“Who was that?” her tone was one of no nonsense

“Your Majesty, that was Captain Ewyn Greggor of the Gate Keepers Shields” As he said the words Selwyns eyes went wide with shock

“NO… NO NO NO” she was speaking more to herself than anyone else “NO…. Eir, Sir Gale… figure out who’s in or near Tukin… I need our most powerful and mobile people and I need the list now”

Selwyn flew from the room and raced towards the Knights Hall, she was operating on instinct, she didn’t know who or what she needed but she needed to do something… anything now

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RUNE WAR Pt 9

17th of Patchwall – Northern Hill Front – Stranded force – 2:13pm

“Pathfinder, I must implore you, our people do not fight well form holes, and we are not likely to hold against another direct assault… we need to go” Cee-Teera looked the younger chief up and down, and sighed, he understood the young chiefs perspective, and yet he could not sanction the departure.

“If you and the RockyRidge tribe must go, I will not stop you nor will I speak against you, but Anamachara is of the Silverfish tribe, and those of Ice Company and Rehume are her people… I cannot leave them here to die… nor can I abandon the Dactyls, who have honorably shielded our wounded and fought to push the war from our homeland, the WildRunners will not leave” the chief gave a hopeless shrug to the Pathfinder and worked his way back towards his post. No chief could ever abandon the Pathfinder and hope to maintain the respect of his tribe… Cee-Teera merely hoped that this was not a death sentence that he was imposing.

“Have you ever seen a lazier bunch of useless soldiers, by Gabrielle’s own cock, do you know how much of a pain in the ass it was for me to walk up here… I am a busy person” Cee-Teera’s face split into a wide grin as he looked up. There standing outside of the trench, still taking and having arrows and bolts shatter off her skin, stood Anamachara. Her spear spun behind her and something was killed beyond his line of sight. The Pathfinder jumped to his feet and clasped her hand and pulled her into the trench, for all her brave words and posture he could see that she was bleeding and the fight to their position had not been an easy or eventless one.

“Are you well Avatar of Ice? Can you get us out?” she shook her head before he finished

“Their line seems endless, I barely made it through myself… we won’t be going back the way I came up, they are ready that way”

“So we wait?” Cee-Teera asked, this was not the Ice Avatars usual council

“No….” she scoffed “you have until evening to prepare the wounded we have for travel, those that are too bad to move, sacrifice to whatever god they wish, undecideds go to Kelezandri… we leave none for the demons. We are going to go up the hill and cut towards central camp… they won’t be expecting that…” She took a seat and a proffered canteen and drank. “Get it done for me”

The Patherfinder turned to leave when she spoke again

“Cee-Teera?”

“Yes Avatar of Ice?”

“I’m glad you’re still here… thanks”

“think nothing of Avatar of Ice, think nothing of it”

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RUNE WAR pt 8

17th of Patchwall – Southern Swamp Front – 2:01pm

The sounds of battle were recently ended; the calls for medics could be heard throughout the thick fog of the swamp. The tall broad shouldered knight turned to his companion and their squires

“Over here, quickly now, we have a chance to break through” and with that they took off at a jog, abandoning their stealth for speed. Within minutes they found the fringes of the camp and signaled to the dactyl to be granted entry. Sir Anselm wasted no time once in the camp “Sir Barnet, take Squires Yvonne and Rothais, distribute the food and medical supplies in your bags of holding and offer what assistance you can, we need to be prepared to leave within the hour. Sergeant…” he turned to the Dactyl who had admitted them, take me to whomever is in command of this front” the Sergeant saluted smartly and quickly led the way through camp. It was not long before they approached Sir Keaton. A dark cloud passed over Sir Anselms face “Sergeant, is this the Only Front Commander?”

“Aye Sir,” the sergeant replied, “Commander Fakner went down last night in battle, died of his wounds some time later, and Hornslapper is regenerating right now, he should be up soon, but could likely use the rest, he’s been fightin since we got here” The Knight nodded to the Sergeant letting him know that he could return to his men. He took a deep breath and approached the front commander

“Keaton” the knight greeted coolly. Keaton turned and smiled, the smile quickly faded and he nodded

“Sir Anselm, what are you doing here?”

“Central Command asked for someone to try and slip the line, confirm the southern force was still around and bring them food and medicine if we could. Sir Barret and I volunteered”

“Well, I’m glad you did we are sorely short on water and potions, and food is getting thin” Keaton tried to cut through the tension, but Sir Anselm would have none of it, there was a cold burning hatred there, and it was radiating directly at Keaton.

“I have news from central…” the knight once more looked back and forth “I suppose I will have to share it with you, be aware Keaton, this changes nothing” Keaton putting his hands out in a mollifying gesture

“Anselm, this doesn’t need to be difficult, let’s try to work together for the good of the men, now is a time that they need leadership” it had the opposite then intended effect, Anselms face became red, and his tone barley controlled

“I am a Knight of Tukin, you will address me as SIR! And as for leadership, your particular brand of ‘the ends justify the means’ leadership is precisely the kind of thing that is going to get many of these people killed. The new Hand may have spared you, may have a soft spot for you, but I know you murdered The Hand of the King… Lemaeths last chosen hand, and don’t for a second think that a few months absence and a hard situation is going to lead to forgiveness or friendship on my side, if you had an ounce of honour you would have taken your life months ago” the words hung out there without response… how could there be, after a prolonged silence Sir Anselm harnessed more of his calm and began anew “Central Command is surrounded and cut off… the northern front has been split in two, with no recent word to their situation, don’t count on much for support and aid… we have brought you three days rations for your men… guard them carefully as we don’t know if and when we can make it back. If you can extract yourself and come around behind central, then do so, otherwise hold strong until such a time that reinforcements can be sent… Sir Barret and I will stay through the next assault before making our way back to central” Keaton nodded curtly, that was all that could be done. Sir Anselm turned and walked away, offering his healing to the wounded and putting as much distance between himself and Keaton as he could.

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RUNE WAR pt 7

17th of Patchwall, Southern Swamp Front – 1:38pm

Sir Keaton looked out into the gloom, spells of shadowing and fog were being employed by the enemy, and little could be seen beyond their tiny island. The attacks had stopped for about an hour now… Keaton assumed they wanted them to sleep, or try and run for it before they renewed their assault. He looked to the Dactyls and Trolls amongst them. The Dactyls were exhausted, and the trolls restless… they didn’t like waiting for the enemy to come to them, but to be honest, if the trolls broke now Keaton doubted the remainder would survive. They needed help… anything.

“What would Brian Boitano do,
If he were here right now?
He’d make a plan and he’d follow through
That’s what Brian Boitano’d do”

The notes were shaky and off key, half sung, half whispered like a prayer by some solider on the line, Keaton smiled as he saw some others perk up, even some of the trolls knew this dity. A clearer voice sung out

“When Brian Boitano was in the Shields
Fightin with the Gold
He slew two deamons and a devil
While wearing a blindfold”

Now more voices joined

“When Brian Boitano was in the woods
Fighting grizzly bears
He used his magical fire breath
And saved the maiden fair”

Keaton found himself singing with the rest of the troops

“So what would Brian Boitano do
If were here today?
I’m sure he’d kick an ass or two
That’s what Brian Boitano do”

The stomping and banging on shields began, as right where this tune ended another lively song, this one a troll battle chant started up. Keaton could hear the demons began to roar and screech, the attack would come now, silence was useless if their morale was unshaken… so be it, better to be fighting then left with the awful silence of waiting.

The Attack Came

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RUNE WAR pt 6

17th of Patchwall – Northern Hill Front – Main Force – 1:36pm

A Dactyl slid into the fox hole beside Arrot, the Archon nodded to him but did not stop trying to bandage the poor legless dactyl he was focused on.

“Good news sir!” the young private said “We got a message from A of A command, they are sending us reinforcements” the tone of hope was evident in the dactyls voice. The archon managed a smile through gritted teeth

“Excellent, how many are they sending? Our boys on the ridge need help soon”

“One sir, they are sending one?”

“one?”

“yes sir, one”

“ONE?”

“yes sir, one”

“BY THE GODS! ARE THEY MAD? ONE BATTALION? WE TOLD THEM WE WOULD NEED AT LEAST TWO TO MAKE UP AND GROUND…. Are they at least sending us the air support and wizards we requested?” the messenger looked at his feet before he spoke again

“Ummm… no sir… not one battalion… one person sir”

“ONE PERSON! ONE GODS BE DAMNED PERSON! DO THEY KNOW PEOPLE ARE DYING? WHO IN GABRIELS NAME ARE THEY SENDING?” the dactyl looked up, and the timing was perfect, the lone individual was already heading out at a jog leaving the thicket and running towards the demon line, planning to break through and join with the surrounded companies up on the hills.

“Her, Sir” he pointed Arrot looked up, squinting to see who it was, and then let out a long low sigh

“Oh, alright then… you didn’t say they were sending the Ice Avatar…” he finished tying the bandage “… let’s get this man stabilised, and prepare the line.. there will likely be some blow back on us after she breaks through”

“Yes Sir!”

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RUNE WAR pt 5

17th of Patchwall – Northern Hill Front, Main Force – 11:52am

“COVER!!!!! GET TO COVER!” Alana screamed as she ran down the line grabbing dactyls and tossing them into ditches. Around her the trees began to explore as the sonic and fire barrage once again assailed their troops. She threw herself into a dug out hole with a couple of dactyls and covered her head from the shrapnel of exploding rocks and trees. The attack lasted fifteen agonising, terrifying, deafening minutes. Finally silence. Alana wasn’t sure she recognised it at first, it was so surreal… but then the calls came

“MEDIC!”

“MEDIC!”

Some of the less lucky had either been hit, or hadn’t made it to cover yet.

“STAY IN YOUR HOLES!” she called, turned to shout both ways “STAY IN YOUR HOLES!” one of the dactyls with her, a stout fellow from the Bashin Cyclones turned to her, Webber was his name

“Mam, we got injured out there, we got’s to send the medics”

“STAY IN YOUR COVER!” she called again before turning to the fellow “Listen private… every time they hit us with a barrage they go silent for a minute, then either hit us with a charge, or smack us with another barrage. We can’t have our men running out breaking the line; they’ll pick us all off” the dactyl looked uncomfortable

“MEDIC!” the wounded called from somewhere in the brush

“Mam…” she cut him off

“STAY IN YOUR GOD DAMNED HOLE PRIVATE, THAT’S AN ORDER!” the words were barely out of her mouth with she saw Arrot come running through the brush and slide into their ditch. “What’s it look like Arrot?” she asked unphased

“Looks like they are lining up for a charge, Makners running up the far end rallying the Dust Devils and the Dragons, they’ll take the brunt, but best have your flank ready as well”

“Gods be damned” she swore “they just keep on coming, no matter how many we hit… any chance for someone divine aid… it always takes the spring out of their step” the archon was already shaking his head,

“It’s still recharging, not sure when we’ll get another use” he said tapping his talisman. The Knight just cursed

“Fine, I’ll head over to Makner and help shore him up, you keep heading up the line and make sure no stragglers make in through here”

“Agreed” the angel said, the two nodded, took a deep breath and then ran from their ditch in opposite direction, keeping their heads low and feet fleet.

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RUNE WAR pt 4

17th of Patchwall – 9:44am – Northern Hill Front – Cut off Survivors – Creek bed

Bann-midoe Wildrunner huddled against the rock; they had found a creek bed to shelter in about ten hours ago and somehow had managed to survive the night. There had been about fifteen hundred of them all said and told when the ambush had stuck; his people, the Wild Elves, along with a few hundred Dactyls, all of Ice Company and a hand full of Honalains. Now he was pretty sure they were fewer than nine hundred. He shook his head in sadness; the Dactyls had paid a heavy price, they could not run as fast as the others, and to stay still was to die. Bann had heard the Pathfinders horn, and with that had flung himself up the hill with all haste, he had only just made the creek bed as the demon fire began to be launched, from both above and below. He had seen a few stout figures stagger in after him, a very few. Now they crouched, huddled against the dirt for protection waiting for the next incursion… lucky for them it appeared the enemy was entirely certain where they were, just had a vague idea of the area, and so every so often a raiding party would stumble into the creek bed and a nasty meele would erupt. The goal was always to kill them quickly and quietly to try and minimise the chance of begin found. He looked over to the left where he saw the Pathfinder and a few chiefs speaking in hushed tones

“Pathfinder…” Chief Arrco Rockyridge would begin “…we cannot stay here, when they find us they will spill in from above and below and we will drown in demon blood… let us begin our escapes, in small groups of five or ten we could slip through the lines and be free of this death bed” the Pathfinder shook his head

“I will not leave over 500 hundred of our allies to die here, have our scouts find us a more defensible location, or a way out, but we will stay and fight with the Dactyls and humans until they die, or we can all escape” the chief glared at the Pathfinder, but did not argue with him, he crawled away bringing new orders to his tribe and letting them know the news. Bann shook his head, the wounded were piling up quickly, he agreed with the convictions of the Pathfinder, but the chief had a point, if they did not move soon, they would be so weighed down with wounded they would not be able to, and fighting from ditches was not the way of the wild elves.

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Rune War Pt 3

17th of Patchwall – Central Command – 10:42 am

Nigel’s mace slammed into the earth, a rumbling was heard at first, it quickly became louder, enough that the Deamons and Oni slowed their advance to watch. Thunder boomed into the sky as the earth began to shake; the ground around the earthen rampart of central command fell away leaving a fifty foot chasm some forty feet deep. Reaching deep within himself the mighty cleric wove his magic, calling upon the Lord of Water to aid them; carefully he raised both hands towards the heavens as if lifting some unbearably heavy weight. As he did, water began to bubble out of the ground from within the chasm, in mere moments it was filled giving ventral command a moat; but the cleric was not yet finished. Hands brought back to hip height he twisted his fingers towards the sky and extended them dramatically, every ten feet a forty foot column of water shot sixty feet into the air, and arced over the camp creating a crude dome. With a final gesture he made a cutting motion, and the columns froze, giving the camp true fortifications, each column radiated the power of a polar vortex, damaging any who dared to pass between them, and nullifying the constant barrages of demon fire. The Cleric slumped forward breathing heavy, he had never before channeled a 10th circle spell, and the strain it had taken was not an easy one to bear. The men and Dactyls within the camp cheered as they saw the enemy advance come to a stop. Nigel weakly climbed to his feet, fighting to catch his breath as the death knight approached

“That will do cleric, I think you may have bought us a few hours… too bad with magic so grand you couldn’t win the day, or get us out of here, or do really anything beyond a glorified stalling tactic” the sarcasm was think in Strahds tone as he stalked off gathering the few of his command minions that could still fight during daytime hours. The words stung, but Nigel put on a good face for the men, waving to their cheers before hobbling back to the command tent, he had to get a message out


To: War Council Members, or any Avatars of Kelezandri

From: Torrent Nigel Hodgenson, War Council General, and Mission Commander of Rune War

Things have gone badly here, I am at Central Command, some 8 kilometers from the Tower, and have met heavy resistance, all efforts to push forward have been countered and I now find myself surrounded and cut off from escape. Teleportation, Planar Travel and Communcation Magic is being diverted, do not try to use it. Also the enemy is very caster heavy employing more magic than we have ever before witnessed. This area crawls with devils, demons, deamons, oni and abbarents and they are working seamlessly together, we are out matched and out gunned.

I have received word from Sir Keaton on the Southern front, they are faring worse than us and have requested evacuation from their current engagement, at least as of twelve hours ago, I am not in any positon to send aid. The Northern front fares a little better, but has had a third of its troops cut off, currently presuming their missing members dead… they have requested air and magical support.

At this time I would report that we cannot win this engagement without additional troops, likely at least 35 to 40 thousand more, including our highest tiered casters and most of our stock piled alchemical formulas. I understand that committing these kinds of resources will make an attack on the stronghold in 3 months impossible. Also please note, that we are in a position that all of command on the ground may be wiped out, I do not recommend anymore War Council generals engage, we could lose everything here. I am sending Phillip, an aspiring young mage to sneak past the lines and try and clear the communications barriers to transmit this letter, I cannot say that I have high hopes for word getting out, nor can I ask him to wait for a reply. We will hold as long as we can, hoping for either an opportunity to move forward or to escape.

Kelezandri be with you all

Torrent Nigel Hodgenson, War Council General, and Mission Commander of Rune War

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Rune War Pt 2

17th of Patchwall- Central Command – Eastern Front – Outer Barricade – 3:55am

Lord Strahd von Zarrovich deflected the blow with his shield, he then reversed the grip on his weapon and slid it between the grieves of the deamons armor, the Death Knight offered a shallow grin to his enemy and promptly stepped into the negative energy explosion as the creature dissipated into nothing. He surveyed the battle field, the enemy was breaking, he turned to his ghostly assistant

“Start the timer, I would know if there is a pattern or if these attacks are randomly dispersed, it is important” the ghost did its business. The Death Knight strode down from the earthen barricade that surrounded Central Command and gazed towards the woods about three kilometers ahead. His few remaining Black Guard hurried to keep his pace as he found his look out, they could not even see the tower they were to liberate from here, he shook his head in disdain. Movement to his left caught his eye and he watched as a small bat landed nearby, in a moment the creature transformed into a pale human. “Darius” the Death Knight greeted

“My Lord” the vampire bowed, with a quick gesture the knight signalled that the creature could rise and approach.

“Your timing may have won that last engagement Darius, your thralls were well worth it” the vampire nodded to the Knight, he was glad the Knight was pleased, though annoyed at how many he had lost, they were at this time, irreplaceable

“As you suspected my Lord, the entire region now has blockades, traps and redirects for communications and transportation, it would be ill-advised to attempt to bring any more of our troops until we have discovered counter measures to resolve this. I of course have our wizards working on it as a top priority” The Knight began to walk as he listened to the Vampires report, the vampire fell into step, a half step behind him

“That vile Bitch!” The Death Knight cursed

“My Lord?”

“Selwyn, the angel of Tukin, fucking cunt” his tone held less venom this time, he turned to Darius “Don’t you see? Oh she baited me, too perfectly… I should have seen it coming. Placing just enough importance on the mission to request aid, implying that victory was all but certain, and that this operation had been in the works for months… even going so far as to feigning that she didn’t want me here, that she herself wanted to glory… and like a zombie a blindly walked into the trap. And here we stand, with her enemy, destroying her enemy and setting her up to help her friend.” The Death Knights tone implied admiration more than anger “I didn’t think she had it in her, she laid out some five or so thousand troops, just enough to imply interest but not enough to really matter if they all die”

“You really think so sir? She is an Angel after all, are they… allowed to do that?” the Death Knight almost laughed, he patted the vampire on the shoulder

“Angel is just a synonym for pretty, it has nothing to do with lofty morels… those are just the lies they use to push their agendas… Angels lie Darius, and sneak, and betray and kill… and when they do their hands get just as bloody as your or mine… don’t ever doubt it”

“So what are we to do? Leave?” the Death Knight shook his head

“No we are pinned here now, we would get picked off as we tried to fight to a clear evac zone… and even if we could, we would be branded as cowards, pissing off all the elemental worshipers that the bitch conned into coming her as well, we would be her scape goat for everything going wrong and give her the flimsy reason she needs to attack us outright… no, we are in this… and our only play is to sustain and get the word out… you and your thralls will be my personal communicators… running the lines and putting a face, not only on our heroism, but how we… no scratch that… how two beloved generals and the good fighting members or the A of A, are being left here to die without reinforcements or aid… if we are stuck here, our exit is by pulling the entire A of A in here with us… mark my words Darius, that tower will be liberated, I promise it”

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