Mythodea / Crusade of the Elements, Camp C
Paintings by Hagen Tronje Gruetzmacher
Starting before the Spring Campaign of this year, the Crusade of the Elements led by Gorasia, Hohewacht, Zweiwasser, East Blackwood and the Southern Seal sent scouts into Kahl'Hatra. Several war meetings took place between this past winter and the start of the campaign. East Blackwood established a supply base somewhere North East of East Kahl'Hatra while the forces of Gorasia/Zweiwasser and Hohewacht invaded from the South up the Mother Stream River establishing bridgeheads and war camps along the way. Supply lines were established from the North through the Realm of Roses and Münzquell and in the East through the Märkischer Bund.
Fighting was at first light throughout East Kahl'Hatra but as the crusaders pushed further into the region resistance increased with regular clashes between the forces of the Black Dynasty and the Crusade of the Elements. In the South where the main force of the Crusade was present fighting was heaviest. In the North fighting was non-existent until the end of the first month of the campaign. In the center, Camp C was established by the Validar groups Zweiwasser, Gorasia and East Blackwood under Zweiwasser's Lieutenant Gorn Erkenbrandt.
Camp C at the Hill of Firs
A war camp was established on a Hill the crusade scouts had named the Hill of Firs. When they arrived the Fir Trees present were still alive. This changed quickly over the month that they were present there. Still, the camp's location provided several natural defenses allowing the initial 52 defenders a stable base of operation while they continued scouting operations to acquire new military and Element objectives in the region. The Camp was comprised of a Validar collective mainly consisting of East Blackwood and Zweiwasser with a few Gorasian soldiers to supplement the fighting ranks. Camp C was the designation of the war camp and it was lead by Zweiwasser's Lieutenant Gorn Erkenbrandt and the officers under him were Captains Varn and Lordas from the Embassy Guard of East Blackwood. The Camp's Quarter Master was Adis Moor from the East Blackwood Company and its cook was Makø Tock from the same.
Near the third week, Camp C encountered increasingly large formations of Black Ice soldiers made their way closer to the Crusaders. As reports later confirmed, fighting began in earnest shortly after forcing Camp C to go on the defensive and call for aid. Before aid could arrive however, the camp was nearly overrun with near 40% of all defenders being put to the sword. At some point during these days of heavy fighting, Lady Molly of Zweiwasser arrived escorted by a few companions from Zweiwasser to help supplement the defenses and to provide extra aid in the field hospital. This small boon would prove to not be enough as the continued fighting forced a difficult decision on the shoulders of Lady Molly, Captain Varn and Captain Lordas. Do they stay and attempt to defend until reinforcements can arrive or do we try to break out. The latter was chosen.
With heavy fighting further South and North, Barons Tarin, Dagger and Varek could not send aid quick enough to Camp C. The request for emergency reinforcements was instead forwarded to potential allies in who were close enough to perhaps assist. Near 60 brave settlers answered the call and rushed to the aid of Camp C at the Hill of Firs. When they arrived they found the camp empty. In the field hospital blood was still fresh suggesting that the remaining defenders either fled, moved out or had been captured by the Forsaken.
Meanwhile, the survivors of Camp C, led by Captain Lordas of the Embassy Guard, were in a fight for their lives against the superior numbers of the Black Ice. The Validar soldiers attempted to find their way around the Black Ice instead of going through them but were cut off.
Unable to retreat safely from the engagement, Captain Lordas ordered a slow withdrawal. The shield wall was held as the survivors pulled back but haste was not an option. Had the reinforcements from the Feste, South and other parts of Mythodea not arrived, most of the Validar force would have died. Indeed one did die shortly after, Alphonsus Orlandeau.
The recovery of the survivors was spearheaded by the Storm of the Feste, Kaela herself. Near two late, one of the Embassy Guard soldiers of East Blackwood had already fallen in combat and the majority of those remaining were injured, some severely. The rescue effort commenced rapidly though the location of it proved difficult. The Validar survivors had reached a crossroads during their withdrawal which opened up the terrain for the Black Ice to use it better against the Settlers. The ensuing battle was quick and bloody. The combined Validar and Settler force executed a fighting withdrawal back to Camp C where the injured and dying were scattered about the grounds to be cared for.
As the battle against the Black Dynasty waned, a small band of Skargen attacked from the rear, having broken through the thick brush and trees that lightly defended the rear of the camp. This added to the chaos of battle as the settlers had to shift their force to defend from two sides and protect their healers and injured. During the confusion, Alphonsus "Al" Orlandeau Embassy Guard of East Blackwood died of his injuries in the hands of a healer.
Alphonsus Orlandeau, Al for short, was an archer of the Embassy Guard in service to East Blackwood and Lord Sir Dagger of East Blackwood. Alphonsus leaves behind his beloved wife named Margaret and a daughter named Rose as well as his comrades in the Embassy Guard.
State of Camp C
Camp C was established some three weeks prior to the arrival of the reinforcements. During that time regular patrols and scouting missions took place as the forest began to die around the area. By the end of the three weeks large patches of forest and undergrowth were no more which helped to reveal the shrine at the entrance to Camp C. Once revealed a patrol cut the brush away uncovering what was hidden there but there had been no time to investigate it as this was reportedly when the Black Ice began to attack the location.
During the fighting that ensued, 40% of the camp was killed off including the camp's commander, Lieutenant
Gorn Erkenbrand of Zweiwasser and the Quarter Master Adis Moor. Even the healers had to be replaced by Lady Molly who arrived with a small personal guard at the onset of the heavy fighting to take over the field hospital. Lieutenant Erkenbrand sent urgent requests for reinforcement and resupply and recorded the events of each day in his Command Log. When the Black Dynasty began to push into the Camp C, Erkenbrand donned his armor and fought to defend the garrison but fell in the fighting. This left Captains Varn Delany and Lordas Palatinus of East Blackwood's Embassy Guard in charge of the remainder of the fighting force of Validar there. With all else failing, Captain Varn ordered those remaining to perform a break-out action in an attempt to make it to the river. Captain Varn placed Captain Lordas in charge of the line as they moved to attempt this mission but it ended in near disaster if it had not been for the arrival of reinforcements.
If the situation was not grim enough as it was, the Skargen war-band that was present in the area appeared to be protecting a powerful witch and her apprentice. The witch claimed be trying to acquire something called the Flower of Dawn. Narech'Tulock scouts in the region had been attempting to acquire that same plant and declared it to be of the up most importance though they could not fully explain why.
What was clear was that this human witch wearing the mark of the Blace Ice wanted it desperately and was willing to fight and torture for it. With her skilled band of Skargen and with her apprentice, the Ice Witch was formidable in her own right often either supplementing the Black Dynasty or attacking scouting parties and leaving them devastated and corrupted within the forest.
Shrines, Crystals, Witches and, Magic Flowers
As the chaos was controlled and the fighting died down after the arrival of reinforcements, the knowledge seekers, mages and scouts got to work and learning what they could of the situation at hand. The ruin or shrine just beyond the front gate of Camp C was investigated and found to have a stone plate in it with the markings of the Black Ice and four other empty indents where plates could appear. The purpose of the ruin was not immediately discovered though theories emerged over the next several hours. The running theory was that it had something to do with Lay-lines but this was not confirmed. What was known, however, is that the location was recently discovered within the last week.
During scouting missions to determine the meaning of the first Black Ice plate, and for general information collection, a crystal surrounded by black moss was found in the forest. The crystal was determined to be Black Ice in nature and as such a detriment to the land. The theory was that the Black Ice plate in the shrine may have represented the crystal or whatever the crystal was doing to the land while the other empty slots suggested that there were more yet unclaimed locations in the forest. While many questions turned to theories, nothing was proven for a time which served to fuel discord within the camp's divided leadership.
Paintings by Hagen Tronje Gruetzmacher
In the early morning of the second day after the arrival of emergency aid, scouting missions and large patrols took place to collect more information. Consistent skirmishes took place whenever Vallidar and the Settler Force attempted to move out from their camp. The Black Ice and Ice Witch appeared to be working hard to find various points in the land to erect their crystals. Indeed by midday two of the five spaces for stone plates on the shrine were filled with Black Ice symbols while the Elements had none.
Luckily for the Crusaders and Settlers, the Narech'Tulock uncovered a skull, scorpion necklace and book covered in underbrush just behind the shrine. The content of the book was written by a Razash'Dai who had died sometime ago and it helped to prove many of the ongoing theories of the knowledge seekers and mages. Red moss called Blood Moss grew where the power lines were damaged and turned black when corrupted by the Black Ice.
Field Leadership Decided after Command Discussion
To remedy the failing situation, bring order to Camp C and, to restore moral, a meeting in the command tent was held were all leaders gathered to discuss how to proceed. During the meeting, clear objectives and plans were discussed including tactics and strategies of how to move forward. Most importantly, a clear leadership structure for the whole camp was established with the Storm of the Feste, Kaela with overall army command, Captain Varn Delany of the Embassy Guard was placed in command of the skirmishers, Commander Anthem De'vigil of the Embassy Guard was to command the archers, Lady Molly of Zweiwasser was to organize the Healers and Corporal Bødvar Tock as Quarter Master.
Around this time, it was reported that a Validar messenger arrived with positive news. To the North and South of Camp C, victories had been won freeing up further forces to reinforce the Hill of Firs. Barons Sir Dagger of East Blackwood and Sir Varek of Zweiwasser would be there earliest late that evening to relieve those who had been able to answer the call for aid sooner.
Army Command: Kaela, Storm of the Feste
Skirmisher Command: Captain Varn Delany of the Embassy Guard
Archer Command: Commander Anthem De'Vigil of the Embassy Guard
Healer Leadership: Lady Molly of Zweiwasser
Quarter Master: Bødvar Tock of the Embassy Guard and East Blackwood Company
Heavy Fighting Continued
After midday and the command meeting, the camp defenders departed to stop the Ice Witch and Black Ice from succeeding in their missions. The Crusaders and Settler force marched out of Camp C at the Hill of Firs up old roads that were still partly intact in the region toward areas where Blood Moss had been earlier reported. Still unsure if it was possible to break the small Black Ice crystals, the focus was on the yet not corrupted points were Blood Moss grew. The nearest known point was relatively close to Camp C but to reach it with a large unit of soldiers, mages and knowledge seekers, one had to travel a long road around the forest due to the difficulty and instability of terrain near the camp.
Once at the Blood Moss, both the Märkischer Bund was visible in the far distance due to the clear sky and a field before the heavy slop of the hills went down to the river. There was the forth area where Blood Moss grew. The Army formed a ring of defense around the Blood Moss location while the Skirmishers and Archers took up positions to allow for ease of response and warning. While the Mages and Knowledge Seekers worked to to repair the line of power there the Black Dynasty was sighted cresting the hill behind the open field.
The majority of the military present moved with Kaela to stop the Black Ice from corrupting the Blood Moss point in the field while the Mages and Knowledge Seekers finished their work at the other Blood Moss point. There upon the opening of the field, fighting began starting with duels and erupting into a full on pitched battle. The Storm of the Feste, Kaela, called for the rest of the Settler's forces to join the forward force and help them take the field and repair the line of power beneath the Blood Moss. This lead to a large flanking maneuver that allowed the Mages and Knowledge Seekers to begin a ritual to cleanse and repair the location.
Waffenmeister of Ignis, Sylvana Katharina von Lichtensteyn
and other related Ignis
affine performed a ritual calling the blood of battle to fuel the repairs of the line of power and its cleansing. As the battle raged on, the Ignis affine carried out their ritual pumping more and more power and rage of war into it. The ritual was a success long before the fighting stopped as the Black Ice kept coming and soon were supplemented by the Skargen War-band. as well.
Worn ragged, the Settlers refused to give the field to the enemy until they rid themselves of them. The heavy warriors of the Black Ice and their archers proved to be the biggest issues that faced the settler force.
The Skargen as well proved to be formidable foes and were reportedly rather too stubborn to die quickly. Finally, with countless injuries and heat exhaustion, the order was given to withdraw from the field after the Black Ice and Skargen advances slowly dwindled to nothing.
The battle at the field had left the Settler and Crusader force tired and hurt yet they still had many potential objectives remaining. They knew about where the Flower of Dawn was and one of the Black Ice Crystals and both could be found on their return trip.
As the tired Settlers and Crusaders made their way back up the road toward Camp C they were presented with two choices. The first choice was to turn left up a broken road to the Flower of Dawn or to turn right toward the camp and try to break the Black Ice Crystal there on the way and cleanse the location. The later was chosen against protests from Deirdre the Gardener of Terra and the Narech'Tuloch. The weakened fighting force took up defensive positions around the location of the second Black Ice Crystal while Tovak instructed the knowledge seekers on the proper use and method using sacred runes to break Black Ice Crystals. While the party was successful at breaking the crystal, the Black Dynasty attacked once again.
Kaela called for a tactical withdrawal. Due to the exhaustion and wounds collected by the those present, the retreat was slow and laborious causing more to be injured in the fighting as they made their way back to the camp. Once at the crossroads just up the hill from Camp C's entrance, the Archon of the South was captured by the Ice Witch. Kaela ordered desperately several pushes to attempt to retrieve the Archon but each consecutive charge was repelled.
After each attempt, Kaela's force weakened while the Black Ice received
reinforcements. Eventually it became all to clear that the Archon was
going to be lost and even then Kaela ordered another push or two
reportedly. After all attempts failed, the Crusader and Settler force
withdrew fully into Camp C to recover.
The wounds received from that
day were many and the soldiers of Camp C as well as the reinforcements were in desperate need of rest. While the camp licked their wounds and ate, the leaders and knowledge seekers "discussed" the next steps and how, if at all, to move forward. It was known that Barons Dagger and Varek would be arriving later that night with more reinforcement and supply but it was not clear if the defenders could hold out that long, stop the Ice Witch and the Black Ice or even if it was necessary to do so.
The Knowledge Seekers worked on potential solutions with the information they had. At the shrine the had succeeded in having two of the five empty slots replaced with symbols of the Elements while removing one of the Black Ice plates; however, the removed Black Ice plate soon after reappeared leaving only one empty plate slot. The decision was then made by Kaela's Knowledge Seekers to recover the closest Black Ice Crystal to the Camp. Volunteers gathered near the shrine, amounting the majority of the still able fighting force as they prepared to march.
The Crystal, the Flower and the Terra Ritual
As the day light waned, Mages and Knowledge Seekers began to readied a ritual to cleanse the site of the shrine in the name of Terra. As preparations were underway, Kaela led most of the able Soldiers and other Mages and Knowledge Seekers to the first of the Blood Moss points which they knew had been corrupted by the Black Dynasty. The goal was to destroy the Crystal there and repair the line of power in the name of Aqua.
While the force under Kaela's immediate command was working on the Crystal, the Shrine at the front of Camp C came under attack. Once the Storm of the Feste caught wind of this, she removed herself and the majority of her soldiers to defend the camp, shrine and ritual makers leaving a few Warriors, the Mages and, the Knowledge Seekers to finish their work.
The work at the Crystal and Blood Moss point concluded while fighting was still heavy at Camp C. Those who were at the Crystal rushed to join the fight at the Shrine. As they went, however, a Narech'Tuloch met them on the path demanding that people come with him to the Flower of Dawn. Many ignored him but a few followed including Deirdre the Gardener of Terra.
The small group marched through the dying forest until finally they could what sounded like a ritual and could see three Skargen Warriors barring their path. None of those present where heavily armored. In fact, only Gerhardt of the Embassy Guard was armored at all. They had one Narech'Tuloch with them, while strong, may not have been able to even the balance of fighting power. The rest were mages and healers who's magic was all but exhausted. Worse yet, they had reportedly no way of knowing in that moment if more Skargen lay in wait within the forest behind those they could see.
The mages pooled all the magic they had into one artifact and blasted their way through with wind and fire. During the fighting Kaela arrived with her soldiers. All was for not as by the time the rest reached the site of the Flower, it was gone. The ritual of the Ice Witch had been a success.
Relief and the Last Blood Moss
Barons Sir Varek of Zweiwasser and Sir Dagger of East Blackwood arrived with Tawar Roknar, the Leader of the Thoringaard, soldiers, mercenaries and allies such as the Blutpackt as part of the coming reinforcements for the region. Almost as soon as they arrived, Knowledge Seekers and Mages approached the barons informing them that they wanted to return to the forest to attempt to free the last Blood Moss point of Black Ice corruption and repair the line of power there.
They requested that a baron go with them and bring some of their fresh soldiers now that they were newly arrived. Lord Varek when to speak with Kaela and the other camp leaders such as the Archon of the South while Lord Dagger agreed to go with the rest back into the forest.
With Dagger's reinforcements, a group comprised of a mix of Settlers and Validar made their way to the last remaining Black Ice Crystal. First, the group in the forest shattered the crystal then proceeded to perform Aeris related tasks such as dice, tag and foot races. This event went on in jubilant fashion for some time before the line of power was fully restored.
As the day light came to an end, further analysis of the shrine at the foot of Camp C. The mage who performed it determined that the shrine was fully functional. Further analysis suggested that the land in the region could now begin to heal.
The battle had been won but the war was farm from over. Up until this point only a few outposts and their surrounding lands had been secured within East Kahl'Hatra and many had bled and died. While some celebrated life, as many mourned the fallen. Tandal led a ceremony to honor those who had died in the fighting thus far, most recently Alphonsus "Al" Orlandeau.