The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass leaving memories that become legend, then fade to myth, and are long forgot when that Age comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose from around the White Tower in Tar Varlon. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
North and west the wind blew, through the city's newly risen towers, graceful bridges, and bustling marketplace. Out beyond the walls and across the city's surrounding farmland, and beyond to the trackless wilderness.
Almost ebbing away, a breeze from the south heading north meets up with the breeze, changing its direction northward, towards the Blight. Picking up speed, the wind begins to howl like a screech owl, warning farmers and merchants alike that death is on its way. Perhaps not today, or tomorrow, but soon it shall come to be. Shivering and holding cloaks tight about their shoulders, the people make warding gestures against evil, praying to the Light that all is well.
Picking up speed, and Moisture, the large mass rushes north, growing in size till it stretches from horizon to horizon. Lighting flickers and flashes in the clouds as it rolls, thunder crashing upon the ground so loudly that trees splinter from the viscious onslaught of noise and static discharge.
Rolling over a foothills, the wind, now a storm, flashes over the city of Barsine unloading its massed fury as it attemps to drive itself over the natural border. Rain hammers into the city; great drops of water, almost the size of buckets, fall from the sky. Lightning strikes the highest towers, great bolts connecting sky to ground, chanelled through metal rods towards the courtyards below. A brief moment later, thunderous roars of discharged air rattling 600 foot tall towers, shattering windows and shutters alike. More lightning strikes, more thunder, more damage.
The wind buffers the cloaks of those men standing guard upon the walls, pointedly ignoring the wind, the rain, the lightning of the storm. In a shorter tower, situated just beyond the northern gate of the grand city of Barsine, a man turns from the fury and focuses his attention onto those around him.
I do not belive this. This is utter folley The middle aged man with graying temples says simply as he limps back to the table, pulling free a map from amongst the large stack of paper work. Peering down, the man studies the map a moment longer, before looking up at the men sitting around the table.
My lord, these reports come from the Homeland Guard, whose honesty and bravery are reknowned throughout the land. They would not lie about this Another man, blonde of hair and heavy chested, grunts out in exasperation.
Holding his hand up, the graying man motions the guy to silence. I am not calling their sightings into question. Just the number. It is not possible. Perhaps they saw the same patrols... he mutters into silence, shaking his head.
The room is silent, the men stare at the leader. Coughs come from those that stand in the background, against the walls, and in the viewing chamber up above.
Shaking his head in resignation, the Lord speaks simply. As usual, General Greem, you are correct. The Homeland guard have served with honor since this city, nay, this land, was just a small village and fort. But 500,000 Trollocs?! The Lord shouts at the end, Quickly pulling his dagger out of its sheath and driving it home into the map, at a point on the map indicating a long narrow pass in the mountains.
What is our troop disposition? The lord asks, turning his gaze upon another man at the table.
My Lord Sneed, our troops number 75,000 infantry. There is a contingent of the Homeland guard, but they just number 300. The heavy and light calvary are out on maneuvers 7 days south of us with a contingent of light calvary from Aramelle. I believe that total is 35,000, my lord.The man says in a gruff force.
Sighing a long sigh, Lord Sneed turns once again and stares out the window at storm. Grunting, he smirks over his shoulder It appears that a storm is upon us, gentlemen. And I fear that this is only the beginning.
Standing upon a platform, General Greem addresses the assembled men and women on the Homeland Guard.
Ladies and Gentlemen. Barsinians, Guardians of the Homeland, Barsine needs you. This is the greatest need that the city and region has ever called upon you, and this is such the greatest need, of the most direst circumstances, that I cannot command. I can only ask. Walking across the platform he takes his time to stare at all the faces that look back at him.
There is A Trolloc Army in the hills, as some of you know. And you already know how many there are. 500,000 of the shadowspawn, descending upon this fair city. They march through Theomarkin's gap, a 60 mile gap cut by the Dark One himself in the mountains. We have used the pass innumerable times to enter the blight. Now, it seems that our access is used against us.
Again, pausing to stare at others, the general continues I leave tomorrow morning for Theomarkin's knee, the natural bowl in the gap. Here is where i plan to make my stand against the horde. I ask that you join me there, allowing our meager number a chance to stand against the horde. The Gap will funnel their forces down to just 15 wide, where the bowl will allow us to present 30 soldiers against them.
Sighing, the General draws his sword and raises it high. I go to Theomarkin's knee, to slay some Trolloc, who is with me?
Standing in a small room, a large sandbox dominates the room. The sandbox shows the area around Theomarkin's gap, with emphasis on the knee. Small lead figures, designed to look like trollocs and other shadowspawn are heaped at the northern most edge of the table. At the opposite edge, a couple human figures stand.
General Greem points at the human figures That is us. We are 3 days hard ride from the Knee. According to reports, the Horde is 4 days out, but at a marching speed. Should anything happen to our forces, the Trollocs will gain the Knee and we will be useless to slow them. They will roll over us.
Grunting to himself, and shaking his head, he continues I know I asked for volunteers before, but once again i must ask you this, because this is a suicide mission. I need a small group to go ahead of the main force and push past the Knee, and engage the Horde, in an effort to slow them down, for at least a day. There are numerous game trails and single foot paths that will allow a small group to range in the mountains, harass the enemy, and be able to lead them on a goose chase.
Pausing, he lets you all take a moment to let the idea sink in I dont ask this lightly; you all are some of the best that the Guard has, and I know that you all can do this. But as i said, this is a suicide mission. I think, with luck, only one of you may survive this. But the need for the city is so great that I ask you to carry out this plan.
Again, looking at everyone, Greem asks Will you do it?
Tandem scrutinizes the map for a moment, as if the extremely simple representation will provide him further insights, should he just stare at it long enough. In reality, he is looking past the display, deep in thought: Well, this is why I came back. To prove to myself that I'm not a coward. I can't turn the Guard down at their time of need.
Tandem looks up and says "General, I'll gladly lay my life down for the Guard. Though a thought occurs to me. Is it wise to send the sisters on this mission? Won't you need them at the primary battle?
Davor is looking at Greem. Why me you old fool? What good is a gleeman against trollocs? Shall i sing them to death? Bah! I might as well get on with it seeing how if i survive there will be a few songs from this. Pretty girls like heroes.
He looked around the room. His eyes immediately found the Aes Sedai. Blast, a pretty woman, but a Tar Valon witch. Ah, never mind. A woman is a woman always.
He lifted his hand and smiled through clenched teeth. More of a ruckus really. "I will go as well. Might as well do something useful except cheering the soldiers on".
Niketsu Sedai, a dark skinned young looking woman of somewhat shorter height, steps forward and addresses Tandem and the assembled soldiers.
"Your concern is commendable, soldier, but think as well how much effect we might be able to have upon the enemy forces, strung out and vulnerable. Yes, we may die as well in this venture, robbing our companions of our skills at the Knee, however, our sacrifice may make it many times more likely that they will have time to reach the Knee in order to make that stand. General, I will go!."
Nodding to everyone as they speak, General Greem explains
These Aes Sedai are going because, frankly, 3 armsmen aren't going to do much against that horde. But, with Aes Sedai, they will provide the biggest distraction. And if you do this job well enough, you may be able to force a portion of this horde into another direction all together, lessening the potency of their surge.
Turning, Greem looks at the Gleeman, Davor. I appreciate the effort, son. I know you didnt sign up for the Guard, nor techinically are you a member of the Guard, but I specifically chose you for a specific reason. you are in charge of Morale. Nothing beats a squad than when morale is low. I charge you with keeping up morale amongst these fighters. Tell stories of the brave men and women of the earlier age, sing baudy songs about a lover who misses her man, but her mans hood even more. Distract them from this, because its easy to keep up morale here in the fortress, or out there in the knee, knowing your amongst peers and friends. But out beyond, all alone, It is hard to keep it up. hence your special skills
"Thank you for your concern, but it is the duty of the Green Ajah to battle darkspawn. If needs require us to travel beyond where safety lie to strike at this new threat then I will gladly go and buy the time necessary to rally our forces and stop them before they can threaten any innocents."
"Understood, General. I can certainly see the benefit of having the aid of the One Power on a mission like this," Tandem replies. Though it does get a bit difficult to breath when there are Aes Sedai around. I don't think they know I can channel, but they know more about these things than I do.
"And I will certainly be glad to have a couple of tried and true warders along."
The tall, lean man whom had earlier followed Niketsu Sedai into the room shifts from one leg to the other, his slate-colored eyes studying the intricate three dimensional map of the gap formed of sand as he commits the outline of the terrain to memory. As Niketsu speaks, giving her committal, indeed their committal to the mission, a small smile tightens his features.
His gaze travels over those assembled, briefly studying them before turning to Tandem. "Our role as Warders are to ensure the 'safety' of the Aes Sedai. That is our purpose. Indeed, that likely will be your purpose as well. They are the true weapon here. Without their talents,there is not much if anything the rest of us could do to slow this horde and this excursion doomed to pointlessness."
What resources do we have available to us, General?
btw, what season is it? WInter, Summer??
Good lad Greem says to Davor.
Reaching behind him, General Greem lifts a bag up from the table. The bag is small and nondiscript. Walking up to a table, he upturns the bag, and out falls 6 rings, making distint metallic clinking noises as they bounce off each other to the table. Upon making contact with the wood, the thump onto the wood. Where simple rings would bounce around, these fall and stop without movement.
Staring at the rings for long moments, General Greem motions you all around the table.
This is the greatest resource from the Guard that i can give you. And also its deadliest. For your enemies, and yourself. As you already surmise, these are ter'angreal. These rings are incredibly powerful. They negate your need for food, regenerate the most grevious of wounds, make you incredibly strong, incredibly fast.. Making a glance at the Aes Sedai, he grunts and continues and make you resistant to the One power. These rings have been in use since the founding of the Guard; only the most powerful, the most dedicated, the most true guardsmen got them for special, rare, deadly missions. The missions where the Guard isnt expected to survive, only to accomplish the mission.
Pausing a moment, the general walks to a side table and pours a glass of wine. taking a long pull, he continues. I am sure you want to know the down side. Its simple. In order to use these rings, you must be willing to sacrifice yourself. Once put on, these rings begin to drain the life force from you. Depending on your health, it may take up to 4 weeks before the ring consumes you, perhaps less, perhaps more. Either way, once on, the ring is a one way trip to accomplishing the mission, and thats all. I caution you, Do not put this ring on until the circumstance is dire enough for its need.
Davor extends a hand, hovering over one of the rings. He pulls it back.
"So, once you put it on, you cannot take it off?" he looks the old man in the eyes for several moments, then grunts silently and picks up the most ornate one of the six. Shoving it in one of his coat pockets he looks at others and manages a smile. He hoped it seemed cheerful.
"Well, what are you waiting for?"
Stepping Forward, Meridian lifts two of the rings from the table. He slides one into his own pouch, and holds the other out to Natalya.
Niketsu steps forward and picks up a ring. Her eyes meet Warrick's, acknowledging what they are both thinking; that if she uses it, she will essentially be killing them both.
She turns to the General, "I am curious to where these Ter'Angreal came from General, and why they were not turned over to the tower as is proper. However, as the times dictate practicality over justifications, I will take the ring. I however must say I have no intention of using it. Though you have called this a suicide mission, I have every intention of making it back alive - after completing our mission!"
Warrick holds Niketsu's gaze as she picks up the Ter'angreal and gives her a nod, knowing exactly the thoughts running through her mind. They were the same as those coursing in his own as he had stepped forward just before. Whether to use these or not would be a decision made together, for both would share the same fate in the end.
He nods again in agreement to her words. It may be likely we will not return as you say General, but Niketsu Sedai is right. We are not dead yet. Our ends have not yet been woven, and until that day, I intend to see as
many of us return to the Knee as able. The wheel weaves as it will. He allows himself a small smile. And besides, it will take a lot more than a few thousand trollocs or so to stop Niket once she has determined to do something.
Meridian's raspy voice comes quietly, I shall see Natalya Sedai safely through this, wheel willing or no. This will not be the first 'suicide mission' I have survived; not by a long shot.
Looking at Niketsu with a flat stare, General Greem says in an unperturbed voice Caraighan Maconar is said to have brought them here under the direct orders of the then current Amyriln Seat. If you have issue with it, Take it up with one of them.
Hearng Warricks statement, General Greem slaps the man on the back. I truely hope so, son. I hope to see you all in the Knee. Please, if you have no further questions, leave now. Horses have been readied for you to ride, and you are allowed to exchange your horses for fresh ones at the Gap tower. Good luck, and may the Light be upon you all.
Natalya begrudgingly takes the ring from Meridan and slips it snugly into a belt pouch muttering, "Desperation breeds more madness than insight but sometimes the two are the same."
Turning to the Greem, "We'll be there, just don't be late."
With that Natalya leaves and heads for her rooms to make the necessary preparations for the mission.
Meridian turns and follows Natalya out of the room. For a brief moment as he turns, his eyes meet those of Warrick and the grim determination is plain in Meridian's eyes.
Warrick glances at Meridian as the other warder moves past, determination locking both their gazes briefly.
I will go and gather our things as well, and perhaps a few extra besides. Warrick states to Niketsu. He gives a slight bow to Greem. "General." Turning on his heels, he heads to the door and out into the crisp air.
Davor makes a flourishing bow, flashing as much of his cloak, nods to the assembly, turns on one heel and walks out of the chamber.
When he reaches the horses, he quickly finds his saddlebags, takes the many colored cloak off his back an puts on a plain dark green one he had in them. Then he hoists himself up on the horse and waits for others to join him.
Gathering her gear and changing into her armour. No matter how many times i put this on I never seem to get used to how heavy this is. But I must not show it, for the pride of the Green Ajah
She then waits for Meridian to finish their preparations and rejoin her.
Warrick leads the two warhorses to the party's meeting place, having saddled them and laden their packs with supplies. He nods to those present, takes out his pipe, and lights it as they await the rest of the party. A couple hard puffs and the blue-grey smoke rises lazily into the air. Well this should be an interesting trip. He grins to no one in particular and reaches down to give his horse's neck a pat.
Meridian follows Natalya to her rooms and collects her saddlebags and any equipment she is not personally carrying, then gathers his own equipment and heads for the stable. Once there he saddles their horses and ensures all is in readiness.
Meridian looks at Natalya Sedai for a moment. I have no intention that either one of us use that ring or fail to return from this mission. But I will fulfill my oath, Natalya Sedai.
Stepping out from the stables, you see your fellow guardsmen sitting upon their horses. Dressed in their uniforms, the horses and guardsmen sit at perfect attention. With a whisk of steel, the first ten pairs draw swords and raise them high, forming a steel arch for you all to ride under.
Taken aback for a moment, you quickly recognize the formation. This is the fallen heroes formation, one that is rarely given to those who fall in battle under the most honorable and deadliest of conditions. think medal of honor
At the far end, past all the pairs of guards, a lone figure stands, facing towards the gate, and beyond to the gap.
Mounting your horses, you slowly let your steeds march under the honor arch. As the center of the group passes, each pair of guard lower their swords, salute, and run the back of their left hand along the sharpened blade, drawing a slow but steady stream of blood.
starting with the first pair, and slowly following, these words flow over you, filling you with pride and purpose in your association with these brave veterans
While death is painful and sudden, the pain is nothing compared to the joy of having known these brave individuals
You cannot help but glance down at your own left hand, seeing a couple scars from having performed this same ritual for fallen comrades.
Slowly, the party rides up upon the lone figure, resolving into General Greem. Without looking at you, he walks with you to the gates.
His words spoken in a soft tone While i am in command, i will ensure that the living are provided for, taken care of, and lead properly. While i am in command, I shall escort the dead to their place of honor.
Looking down upon your general, you are suprised to see tears streaming down his face. A man whom you thought only had rage as an emotion, is crying. Coughing suddenly, he continues Go now, you walking dead. Join your brethren in the next life, where you find the next great honor
As he speaks the final words, you cross through the gateway, and your horses hooves clamor upon the stout wooden bridge. Rendering a final salute without looking at you, you know he will stay in that position until you are out of sight.
Warrick stares straight ahead as he rides beneath the arch. While his face is impassive, a torrent of emotions roil beneath the surface and along the bond; a mix of determination, resignation, anticipation, and concern for his companions, Niketsu primary among them.
Passing the last of the honor guard, he nudges his horse up beside Niketsu's and they ride side by side through the gate. Not until the horse's hooves pass from the bridge onto the path does he turn and look, first at her, then the others. Tapping out his pipe, and putting it away, he speaks. We have a lot of ground to cover. Press hard to the Gap tower and our remounts. Let's try and gain some ground on the shadowspawn, shall we?
Davor looks at Warrick, and stays quiet for a while. He doesn't show it, but the show behind them did leave it's mark on his heart. I do be a fool perhaps he thinks but i do feel bolder now then i did be before we left
Turning towards Warrick, he speaks I do think that be a good idea, warder, but i no think that we should press the horses too hard. There be a lot of miles to cover to the gap, no need to kill the animals
Resigned to the course necessity has led them to, Niketsu digs her heels into her mount. She pulls astride of Warrick and sets her horse's pace to match his.
I have no fear of death, and were I to die here, this would be a noble cause indeed. I have prepared myself my whole life to fight where needed, and when, whatever the cost. Why is it then that I feel that allowing myself to die on this mission would be a failure? Many great heroes have died on desperate missions like this, and such a death would probably set us amongst them; there would be no shame in it. Perhaps I lament for all the other battles I would never see, and for all the souls I could not save. Hmph. Folly.
Tandem gets on his mount, and anyone who knows him can see that he is uncomfortable. He is much better about horses than he once was, but he still doesn't like riding them. "Blast it all," he mutters as Warrick takes off at what seems to Tandem to be a break-neck speed.
Natalya solemnly rides through the procession careful not to look anywhere but straight ahead but nods to General Greem as she passes him.
Once outside and as the rest of the group speeds up and starts heading out she will follow quietly lost in her own thoughts.
sorry for some reason forums are still not letting me know when this campaign updates
my campaign tab. Sometimes it updates sometimes it doesnt . I could look at it one minute and nothing then post on another campaign then when I go back it says there are several updates and some are hours old. Maybe the forums don't like my browser or my browser doesn't like them.
natalya, we can further discuss this in the discussion page
At a pace that pushes the horses to cover mileage at a groudn churning rate, you fly through the countryside as you attempt to make up some distance and close the gap between yourselves and the oncoming horde.
As you ride, you pass farmers in fields, tending crops, little children herding cattle and sheep towards pastures, and women hanging laundry to dry. This idyllic scene seems to replicate itself over and over again as you speed through the developed farmland around Barsine. The urge to stop and warn people is strong, but you dare not, lest one stop causes you to be delayed further.
The sun seems to slowly inch across from horizon to its peak. At its peak, you all get off and walk the horses, eating food and stretching your legs. Stopping only long enough at a watering hole, you walk some more and then mount the horses once more, knowing that this last stretch will test the horses the greatest, for they have been galloping all morning.
ride check, everyone DC 15 to push the horses
forgot to answer this question. its mid fall. days get up to 65F, and at night it drops to mid 40s. Colder in the mountains
cresting a hill as you pass beyond the limits of human settlement, Natalya's horse suddenly drops back from the full gallop to cantor. A moment latter, both tandem and davor's horses pull up as well, sides heaving, slick with sweat.
Glancing about, you easily recognize where you are. You are about 3/4 of the way to the remount station. At your current speed, with horses spent, it will take you until nightfall to cover the ground. If not, you could get there just before supper time.