Stand at the Bearheart Pass

By the 31st, fog and mist began to obscure much of the battlefield and we began to see Vampires and other creatures of the night walking in the twilight that had become the light of day. Worse, my advisers informed me that they were finally able to sense the silenced nodes again, but only through a haze of magical concealment more powerful than they had imagined. It seemed that agents of Shaya’Nor had been hiding and corrupting the nodes and sacred sites here, and possibly across the land for some nefarious purpose.

That information, coupled with the letter, and recent history finally began to click all the pieces into place…and I now understood our error..and out danger. Sending officers into the ranks, I requested volunteers from what remained of our forces to assemble that very night, the 31st for a mission of critical importance.

They arrive, in the dim and cold, eager, but wary. Selecting the best of my scouts, I divided the group into teams of 25. Then, I gave them their mission: to head north, flanking the vast army facing us and each team was to scout one of the now revealed nodes. Upon locating them, they were to disrupt the profane rituals being conducted there…by any means necessary. This was not a mission I expected them to return from, and neither should they. With this knowledge, I offered any assemble the opportunity to withdraw. To their vast credit, none did so.

And so, on the even of the 31st, I sent 150 lambs to the slaughter. For, I could not reveal their true mission for fear of the enemies spies catching wind. 25 scouts were of little consequence if what I now suspected were true.

Brother Mantlet was so very right. Those mission necromancers, those elite troops…they MUST be conducting this massive HIGH magic ritual stretching the length and breadth of the border of Olara, and perhaps beyond! And, those 25 men and women would simply be added fuel, their death and release of their souls would just further fuel the Darkness…but they were not the fist, not the White Silver hammer…they were merely marker, a place holder, a distraction.

Within each group were Adepts and Sorcerers tasked with relaying position information and location information to elite units of cavalry drawn from the best of Olara, Galea, the Rangers, and independent units such as the Wolfhaven Free Company of Riders. Meanwhile our own magic users prepared teleportation spells under the cover of our own concealment…and we waited.

Over the 32nd and 33rd, my Cavalry wings sat in their saddles for 2 days, only dismounting long enough to remount a spare horse to keep our horses fresh. When a signal went up from an embedded adept, a wing of riders would disappeared in a flash, the tip of a spear at the heart of Vainar’s rituals. Then, my own wing was summoned and I rode…

…into the heart of Darkness itself. In a sacred grove, not far from Purity, unused by the Prelacy who eschew magic, was an assemblage so large, and so…vile I can scarcely recount. We entered the ritual site at a full gallap, Necromancers, Vainar’s Chosen and Warlocks arranged in a wide ring around a central pool of what I can only describe as the collected souls of thousands. The energy of their ritual made the very air hum with power and many horse and rider fell dead as their own soul was ripped from their body and sucked into that dark vortex.

Worse, four massive Ebonways were open around the ritual and I could see and feel the energy of all that death being siphoned away from this realm, through those dark doorways into Shivak Novos like some massive energy collection system. My riders followed me through as we struck down black robed necromancers left and right. Then, through an open ebonway we charged into that shadowed and twisted realm where a mirror ritual was being conducted, but here, the energies were being collected and…directed…north….I think.

We killed as many as we could, before ducking back through the collapsing portals into Shaintar. On my signal an arcfire device was deployed, a gift from the Mad Bomber as another Mage triggered the spell that transported the survivors of our mission back across leagues to a field near our camp.

Out of the 116 knights I took through the portal, only 12 survived. Of the 25 scouts, Celebor, my old friend, lay mortally wounded in the snow, and we snagged only a handful. Names I will remember. Corporal Silverfeather, who delivered the message that delivered our victory, wounded almost too much to stand, Danica, the stalward Olaran who took the field to wash away the stain of dishonor for dishonoring MY name…she has forever earned my undying respect. There were others, Rhovelius Dimerian, Naavi, Blacktooth, Brother Paladin Sebastian… Only a few. Most teams never came back at all.

Five of the six sites were destroyed, the sixth team never even reached the target, though, a team DID strike the “Glade of Peace” and managed to recover a savagely tortured, but living Wanderkill who delivered a report which confirmed much of what we suspected.

With the rituals nearby destroyed and the Ebonways closed, whatever horror the army of Shaya’Nor was to unleash upon us was thwarted, though I now suspect our destruction was but a bonus to their plans, not hardly essential.

We won. Olara and the Southern Kingdoms are safe, for the moment.

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