Set on the far western border of Olara in the walled town of Echer’Naught, the Rangers of the Greenway road patrol the highway running between the City of Harken and the great Elven forest of Landra’Feya. Serving as an extra-territorial security force, the Rangers must keep the King’s peace, defend against incursion of the forces of Darkness, Flame and the Prelacy of Camon while maintaining difficult political relations with ever demanding nobility.
Welcome to the Rangers of the Greenway Road!
Set on the far western border of Olara in the walled town of Echer’Naught, the Rangers of the Greenway road patrol the highway running between the City of Harken and the great Elven forest of Landra’Feya. Serving as an extra-territorial security force, the Rangers must keep the King’s peace, defend against incursion of the forces of Darkness, Flame and the Prelacy of Camon while maintaining difficult political relations with ever demanding nobility.
Campaign Report 82
The Changing of the Guard
Report Filed 14th Falling Ice 3126
Sergeant Minor Amelia Whitestone
2nd Dark Moons, 3125
As mentioned in my previous report, my team, minus RFC Ramshorn, returned through the Ebonway to the basement safehouse of the, as of yet, unidentified criminal empire to rejoin our “allies” the werewolf brother of the new wife of our commander Colonel Wolfhaven, who also happens to be the absentee Lord Mayor of Echer’Naught, the Necromancer hired to transport us, and the smuggler/criminal Trokash who it seems has regular dealings with both the Col and Alpha team during prior missions.
The Werewolf, Necromancer, and Smuggler all survived the mission without injury.
We returned with Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer who, other than nakedness and some loss of hair, survived the extraction well. He had previously received a mortal wound to his abdomen which he informed me he would get immediately treated.
Again, as mentioned, the Werewolf brother-in-law to Colonel Alexander Wolfhaven murdered the Necromancer in cold blood before leaving our company. Of the Smuggler, I know not. He managed to slip away quietly during the confusion of our return. I have no doubt that he will be a regular contract for out team, based on the Ranger’s current operational standards.
While the rest of my team recovered from their wounds, I exited the criminal safehouse to recon the area. Farspeaker Moonsilver had been in constant contact and had, per agreement, dispatched security and healers to our location as soon as we made the gate. They arrived within minutes, Wolfhaven Free Riders establishing a perimeter and Ranger Healers tending to my wounded.
Sergeant Major Stormhammer refused any onsight healing and, taking Ranger Moldova’s cloak, stomped his way back to the city. After which, I lost all contact until returning over a month later.
Once our immediate medical needs were attended to, I assembled my team, mounted up, and headed north to the Wolfhaven Barony. Considering the recent mission, and the fact that our activities were still “off-books”, my standing orders were to retreat to the Wolfhaven Barony and wait for further orders. As my team required to time heal and process the recent events, I declined to object. However, while Colonel Wolfhaven is in command of the Rangers, but pretends to maintain his Olaran duties as separate, as evidenced by the travesty of a court, it is questionably ethical for him to use his private residence as a retreat for his “favored” Rangers.
It being winter, and the ground still snowed, we made roadside accommodations along the way at a couple of inns that have begun to thrive on increased traffic from Echer’Naught.
4th of Dark Moons, 3125
On the 4th of Dark Moons, 3125 we arrived at the Wolfhaven Barony at just after dark. My team was given quarters according to station, not position within the Rangers. Corporal Ravenwood-Regillus joined her husband in their private suite. Corporal Volstagg and Ranger Nexus was also affored private quarters due to her elevated station. Even Sir Stahn, who had been in charge of securing and transporting our gear to the Manor also received his own accommodations.
Ranger Amaroth, as a Sworn of the House was bunked with the other Sworn in the barracks. Rangers Moldova and Daynore received smaller accommodations. I was offered a private room, but I declined opting for an office with a cot and a fireplace.
A few hours after arrival we were summoned to attend Baroness Wolfhaven. She graciously welcomed us to her home and provided refreshment. After which, my Rangers retired to whatever tasks or relaxation suited their interest and I resumed communication with Farspeaker Moonsilver and received updates on the war and other situations of potential import.
Of note, while making my rounds, I noted that the Wolfhaven Barony has been recently rebuilt using Stonesingers from Stahlheim, no doubt gifts from the Colonels many admirers. Though, I find it odd how little furnished the manorhouse has remained. It seems uncharacteristic of the Baroness to allow such details of fashion to escape her attention. Also of note, the defense of the Manor House has been assigned to Sir Regillus. He is, as of the 4th, only beginning work on the walls and ramparts, using, I might note, Tempest design and techniques with further assistance from Stahlheim.
We remained on “leave” for two more days before I received an emergency assignment from Farspeaker Moonsilver. A “package” was being stored at a nearby farmhouse and required Ranger security until it could be examined and retrieved. I was ordered to assemble my team and proceed east. From there, I would be given more instruction. Also, I was to inform no one outside my team, not even our gracious hosts.
6th of Dark Moons, 3125
I complied. We departed with an hour of receiving orders and proceeded on a days ride cross country until we reached the farmhouse. The trip would have taken half the time were I not forced to stop and wait for more direction at each leg of the journey.
7th of Dark Moons, 3125
Regardless, we reached the farmhouse late on the 7th. I approached as ordered and found RFC Leaora Nazir waiting at the farmhouse. She had no fire, no lights. I ordered Corporal Volstagg to stable the horses, Corporal Ravenwood to scout and I entered to find out what our mission was.
I should have been surprised to discover that the “package” was an overweight Olaran merchant, but I was not. I was, however, surprised that RFC Nazir was equally in the dark. She seemed to know less that I. Standard Ranger Protocol.
My orders were to secure the package, and so I posted Corporal Volstagg and Ranger Amaroth in the room itself with our “guest”, Rangers Moldova and Zathlan took the main room/kitchen. Corporal Ravenwood and Ranger Daynore took the back and front of the house, respectively, outside. I took RFC Nazir with me, not fully trusting her, away from the house. I had strict orders NOT to send or receive Telepathic communication from near the farmhouse. So, we marched out into the night to wait for the scheduled report.
We were gone just over an hour. When we returned, I found the entire situation had gone straight to the Abyss. We had just cleared the treeline when I spotted Ranger Amaroth, covered in wounds and blood, standing over the body of Ranger Daynore. Amoroth seemed out of it, possibly berserk. No sigh of other activity.
I posted Nazir to my right with orders to drop anyone coming at us, and approached Amaroth, sword drawn and ordered him to drop his weapon and surrender. He seemed…dazed, confused. Clearly he was not in his right mind. Due to his most recent mark with Flame, I was forced to assume that he had snapped and gone over completely.
His eyes started to focus and he seemed to regain some awareness, then, in shock, dropped his bloody sword into the snow by Daynore’s cooling body.
At about this time, Corporal Ravenwood turned the corner of the house. Following orders, Nazir hit her with a knife, Ravenwood responded by firing an arrow through Nazir’s arm. If the Corporal were fallen or puppeted, this situation was truly tossed. I gave Corporal Ravenwood a single order to stand down. She complied, to my relief, as did Nazir.
I am glad. My only other option would have been to close the distance fast enough and kill Ravenwood before she could loose one of her arrows.
Ravenwood stood down, but I did not lower my guard. I ordered Nazir to clear the house. Though I could not trust her, I at least knew that she had been with me when the attack happened AND if she were my enemy, she could have more easily attacked me while alone. In fact, I had hoped she would try.
Nazir emerged from the house and confirmed my fears. My team was down, the “package” gone. Though, strangely, though all had suffered head wounds, none were slain. Odd.
Nazir was wounded and, again, the most trustworthy at the moment. I ordered her to secure Amaroth and remain at the house while I tracked our attacker with Corporal Ravenwood. I ordered the Corporal to take point. If she were going to make a move, it would afford me a few precious seconds to reach her before she loosed.
Without error, Corporal Ravenwood tracked the attacker and the “package” to a clearing not far away. There, we came upon the “package” standing alone in the snow, gazing up at the sky, unmoving, not even to shiver. His posture reminded me somewhat of Amaroth’s, but far more…permanent. I approached while Ravenwood covered me. If that were a mistake, it would have been my last.
Coming around the man’s front I could tell he was dead. His lifeless eyes simply stared up. I touched him lightly and he toppled backwards into the snow with a wet thud. Stranger. He had not a mark on him.
In the dark, we could find no more tracks, so I shouldered the corpse and trudged back to the farmhouse with Ravenwood on watch.
Arriving, I dumped the body in the snow nearby and began to collect the other fallen Rangers and lay them in their bedrolls, making sure to cover them well. No sense having them die of exposure or frostbite while unconscious.
We tended to them, RFC Nazir, Corporal Ravenwood, and myself, all maintaining suspicious watch over each other. Ranger Amaroth shivered and remained silent, contemplative. We tended his wounds as best we could.
Over five hours later, Volstagg stirred. His body I had been forced to roll into the cot in the back. He was too heavy to move in his plate. Upon waking he shouted for me. When I entered, he accused me of attacking him and taking the man. At which point, I honestly had nothing to counter other than I knew that I had not.
We convinced him to at least entertain the idea that I was not an assassin and coaxed him out. He informed us that he had been watching the man read, Amaroth alseep in the cot, when I had knocked on the door and asked to speak with him. He let me in, I questioned him about the man, what he was reading and if he had checked for weapons. When I ordered him to search the man, he turned to comply when I struck him in the back of the head and made a move on the man.
Some time later, Ranger Moldova awoke and also accused me of attacking her. She said that I had returned from my trip with Nazir, asked her about her condition, commented on how quickly Ranger Zathlan had slept before knocking her out too. And then, presumably, striking Zathlan who was still out.
Ranger Daynore awoke next and provided the most useful intel. According to him, something posing as me had approached him and demanded a report. He was just informing it, me, that neither he, nor Corporal Ravenwood out back had seen anything when he realized that I had called Ravenwood by her first name, Samira. I am not wont to do so. That tipped him that it might be an imposter.
Sadly, the imposter realized this, “turned into a puddle?”, appeared behind him and struck him down just like the others.
Eventually, Ranger Zathlan also awoke, but she had little to offer. She had been asleep when struck.
As for Ranger Amaroth. He claims to have gone to sleep in the back room to get rest before his watch and then awoke standing in the yard, bloody, wounded with me threatening to run him through. He had no memory of the attack, how he received his wounds, whose blood was on his sword…nothing.
8th of Dark Moons, 3125
Before the excitement, Farspeaker Moonsilver had informed me that we would be receiving special reinforcements. A few hours after dawn, Ravenwood and Nazir alerted us that a stranger was approaching from the woods. I posted in the door, Ravenwood covered from a window.
The Stranger was a human man, dressed in nondescript travelling clothes, gray cloak, wide hat, and staff. I have less suspicious-looking ratzin. As soon as he approached, I gave him orders to halt while I sent RFC Nazir to confirm his identify. I had a feeling she would somehow know. I was proven correct.
However, he seemed equally suspicious of our team. And since we did not know him and he knew nothing of us, and Nazir’s word notwithstanding, he demanded that we submit to an immediate mind scan. And Adept. Unsurprising.
What was surprising is that he permitted Daynore to scan him first as a sign of good will. Once Daynore gave the nod, the Stranger proceeded to scan the team, starting with me and working around. He hung up on both Ravenwood and Amaroth, not unexpected. He also found Daynore of interest, but apparently, none of us were enemy agents. Though, he admitted any of us MIGHT be shades. Lovely.
Once done with the mutual mental under and over, we explained to him the situation, the attack, and the missing package. He immediately demanded to know if any of us had memory loss. I found his question suspiciously on point. We indicated Amaroth. Without asking, he probed more deeply and confirmed what we all suspected, Amaroth’s mind had been wiped.
So, with that news, the Stranger and Nazir went off to track the assassin while my team healed and made preparations to leave. Without a package to secure, our presence was hardly required. Only RFC Nazir returned, about a half our later. She explained our mystery reinforcements was tracking the attacker.
At this point it was fairly obvious that someone was running an operation that we were but disposable parts. In truth, I have little issue sacrificing myself or my team in defense of the Rangers and the Southern Kingdoms. I have zero patience for cloak and dagger missions. As the too neatly ordered farmhouse, conveniently well maintained but suspiciously empty was obviously some form of waystation or safe-house for such operations, I felt it only appropriate that we be compensated for our time. If my team is to be treated as mercenaries, then we may as well behave as such.
Before we rode out that morning on the 8th, we took all the supplies we could carry. I am certain the costs will simply disappear into whatever hole all the other costs for shadow mission fall.
10th of Dark Moons, 3125
We arrived back at the Barony on the 10th, and took up residence. Each day I requested orders and each day I was ordered to hold and wait. So, we waited. more than four weeks. At some point, I learned that Corporal Volstagg and various female members of our unit availed themelves of the “bathes” in the manor for a group drinking session.
It is not my purview to regulate the private lives of my men. And, we have been on leave for some time. The Rangers lax attitude toward fraternization, that said, I find it highly disturbing for members of the team, in particular one bent on attaining command to have such casual relationships with those he ostensibly does and will command. Though, I am in no position to comment or reprimand. It is simply a situation I must contend with and, inevitably, deal with when it presents issues. I much prefer the Olaran system.
13th of Dark Moons, 3125
Three days later, on the 13th of Dark Moons, 3125, Ranger Amaroth entered my office, early, to inform me that his memories had flooded back. He confirmed that my doppelganger had attacked. He awoke to find “her” lowering Volstagg’s unconscious body to the floor, no small feat of strength. Then, when he rose to engage, the “package” fled like a coward.
He and the attacker exchanged blows, but she/it, retreated to chase down the man. Amaroth gave chase, found himself outside nearly stumbling over Daynore’s body. Pausing to confirm if his teammate was alive or dead, he was struck from behind, then all went black. His report merely confirmed what we already knew. Though, still no word on who the “package” was, why RFC Nazir was involved, or who our “special reinforcements” actually was.
I doubt I will ever have clearance to know. Not that I particularly care.
1st of Falling Ice, 3126
We continued to wait, as stated for weeks. At the turn of the new year, 3126, Corporal Volstagg, again, hosted a Ribald. He invited the entire team, myself included. They attended, I did not. I believe Corporal Ravenwood also declined. By all accounts, most everyone had fun, got drunk, and generally made the fool. I am glad they are healing so well.
Both Ranger Amaroth and Corporal Volstagg sought me out to wish me well in the new year. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I could not care less about the date, or celebrations. A month we have sat on our hands. Rest is one thing, this… We are being sidelined. And command refuses to provide any information.
I also think my Rangers are concerned about my well-being. Again, sentiment is appreciated, but their ministrations are ill-placed. The fact that a commander maintaining military bearing and non-fraternization with the troops is viewed with such pity spells doom for the Corps as a whole. If Corporal Volstagg is to be the measure of inter-unit relations, I fear I have no place here. Odd, I never suspected the Col of such liberties, despite his many other faults. Perhaps I am entirely wrong about him as well.
9th of Falling Ice, 3126
On the 9th of Falling Ice, 3126, Baron Wolfhaven returned from the the front with fanfare appropriate to his station. As per protocol, we attended his arrival. He conducted his greetings with an admirable efficiency. Then, invited all to eat. While dining, he expressed his desire to get on with the reading of RFC Ramshorn’s will as soon as possible. I could not have agreed more.
After a brief respite to change and clean, the Colonel invited us all into his private office. We were also joined by the Ogress Fekla who has been an on-again, off-again member of the team. She crouched outside while we all packed into the room.
I will leave the details for the Will to stand alone. His shield I turned over to the Colonel, per RFC Ramshorn’s wishes. After the reading, we hosted the last call. Baron Wolfhaven opened the floor, explaining his exemplary record. Nearly everyone spoke, even Sir Regillus. I spoke last. Despite my misgiving about his flame-touch, and his criminal record, Ramshorn had ever done his duty and he died as an Olaran. I could ask for no better.
During the evening, the Baron returned the shield to me and instructed me to pass it on to the newest of my team which used shields. And as each new member added, the shield would be passed on, protecting the least experienced of the group. I accepted with honor.
I left about the same time as the Colonel, though in the hall, I noted Corporal Ravenwood also stopping to speak with him. After enough campaigns, you get a sense of which attacks are going to go wrong, and which of your men have seen enough.
Feeling reflective, I went out to sit in the cold, and allow the brisk air to focus my thoughts. After some time, I was joined by Corporal Ravenwood. She informed me of the deal struck with the Colonel. Ravenwood, Lady Regillus, was transferring out, taking a desk job back in Echer’Naught. More important, she was with child. I hope only the best for her. She will be missed.
10th of Falling Ice, 3126
The following morning on the 10th, a small service was held in the Chapel, some of my Rangers failed to make it due to excess the night before. The Baron stayed only long enough before leaving for the front. Just before noon on the 10th, I called the team together.
First, I informed them that, at long last, we were to return to active duty in Echer’Naught. Second, all of those participating in the mission received a promotion.
I was promoted to Sergeant Minor
Corporal Samira Ravenwood Regillus was promoted to Sergeant
Corporal Gunther Volstagg was promoted to Sergeant.
Ranger Nexus Zathlan was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Gracelyn Moldova was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Durlan Daynore was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Audric Amaroth, was promoted to Ranger First Class
Also, we informed the unit that upon our arrival, Sergeant Ravenwood would be leaving our company and that she was with child. The fact that she would retire safely, and with the hope of a family seemed to cheer the group. I do not believe I have ever witnessed a unit more pleased to lose one of their own.
11th of Falling Ice, 3126
We left the following morning before dawn on the 11th and rode hard. Later on the 12th of Falling Ice, we reached the city of Echer’Naught.
12th of Falling Ice, 3126
As we entered the North Gate, we passed a new stature in the courtyard. It would seem that Sergeant Magor Stormhammer carved a likeness of Ramshorn twice his normal height, and placed it just inside the gate, facing inward; a constant guardian and reminder of sacrifice. The inscription our unofficial motto: “There is no heroism without sacrifice.” That and RFC Thorgram Ramshorn, 3125
That statue had a sobering effect on the team. But, we returned immediately to the Regional HQ where I took the liberty of my quasi-official status to deliver a verbal report to the acting Colonel. I informed him of our collaboration with Darkness to recover Stormhammer, and the loss of one of our own. I then informed him of our second off-book mission that might have been a complete failure, though being completely ignorant of the actual mission, I could not say. I did provide a location of the corpse should he wish to have it retrieved. I then explained that I was leaving his office to deliver the report to my true commander, Sir Halten, and that he had, maybe, 3-4 hours to decide how the Rangers wished to spin the events.
With that, I made good on my word, riding to Sir Halten’s estate. There, we were ushered into his office within fifteen minutes of our arrival, a small miracle. I delivered more or less the same report, informing him that I had previously reported to the Rangers. As I was leaving, he asked about the nature of Ramshorn’s death. I explained that he died as an Olaran. His only comment was, “Surprising.” He also congratulated me on a job well done, another shocker.
Exiting his office on my own volition, I dismissed my team and informed them that, until told otherwise, they were still on leave. I then left. I can assume they went off to drink. That seems to be their new norm.
14th of Falling Ice, 3126
Finally, on the eve of the 14th of Falling Ice I received orders to arrive at Sir Haltens. Upon arriving, I noted a Ranger Trainee Ogre in the courtyard. Clearly, this was a new member of my team. I could think of no other reason why Sir Halten would permit him entry to his estate. I met with the Sheriff while my team waited outside.
Grendel, as the Ogre was named, was only the first of my new recruits which would be straggling in over the next few days. We also had a new assignment to begin as soon as my team assembled. Malcom request my presence.
Exiting the office, I introduced the team to Grendel. After ordered them to get him sorted, I left to meet with Malcom secure that they would take care of the Trainee. Though I am non-plussed about our new assignment, anything is better than standing around useless for a month.
Time will tell how the new members fit with the group. With Lady Regillus gone, there is no one left from the original team. Sad to say, I doubt most of us will be here within six months. The Rangers of Echer’Naught are not an occupation for those who care to have long, productive lives.
I will add an addendum here: Let it be noted that Ranger Muriel, Ramshorn’s Donkey also received a promotion to RFC. Moreover, despite a deep depression following his death, reports state that she seems to be eating now and is working on the front lines near Bearheart. I cannot say why I would care about the drunk ass who caused more trouble than half my team, but part of me hopes she also finds a way to survive her service and live out a long, happy life.
Sergeant Minor Amelia Whitestone
RFC Audric Amaroth Report
Date: 14th of Falling Ice, 3126
To: Ranger Command of Echer’Naught
Things change as time goes on, People come and people go. That does not mean, however, that they are not monumental events or, as the case may be, disheartening Still, through these trials and tribulations we are required to press on. If we don’t do it, someone else will. I suppose that is what makes us different: We’re willing to do it so someone else doesn’t have to…
2nd of Dark Moons, 3125
We had arrived back from our trip to that dark Dimension. A group of healers tended to us, making sure none of us were facing infection. From there, Sergeant Amelia Whitestone orders us to mount up and, rather than heading to Echer’Naught like Sergeant Major Stormhammer, we ride North.
After a few hours we shack up at an Inn and settle in. We rested the night there and, surprisingly, we were able to sleep in and get some food in our guts before we started off once again. There was very little said, in truth. I guess a lot of people were reflective of their own experiences. I suspected that a lot of the team was troubled — Thorgram’s death being a burden on them, plus their own convictions being put to the test. Even I was troubled as I tried to sort out what this curse meant for me.
By late on the 4th of Dark Moons we arrived at our destination: The Wolfhaven Barony.
We were given the usual welcome and our mounts are set up from us. I took a few moments to familiarize myself with the place — it was bare at the moment, probably do still being under construction. I did not linger long, however, for Volstagg began to disrobe and indulge in a bath. I knew not to linger as he began to beckon food to accompany his bath.
I am told I should try one, as it will change my opinion of bathing forever. Unfortunately, I do not desire that change. Mainly because I know I probably will never experience anything like it again. Better to never leave myself wanting..
A few hours after our arrival, the bell was sounded and we were summoned to The Main Hall by Baroness Wolfhaven. She informs us that we will be staying at the Barony Estate for sometime. Everyone is, essentially, on vacation. I, however, have obligations as a sworn and so join the reconstruction efforts.
It was during this time I was able to witness some of the marvels that money can buy when using dwarves — Stalhiem dwarves at that. They were able to warp the stone into a seamless sheet. It is rather impressive..
It was also during this time I had the pleasure of a few passing conversations with Sir Regillus. How I would love to pick his brain and learn even a fraction of the things he knows.
On the 6th of Dark Moons the routine was broken up by a summons from Sgt. Whitestone. We are going on a unique mission — it’s a week long trip for us to secure a package. The option is on the table for us to remain, but none elect to do so. Our journey was, admittedly, a hassle. Sgt. Whitestone got updates from, I assume, Eric Moonsilver on the directions. We would go to a spot, she’d pause, and then we would adjust and keep moving.
7th of Dark Moons
That night we arrived at a house where we met Ranger First Class Leaora Nazir. She had our “package” — a fat man with a book. We weren’t told anything else of him. He simply was the object of our eye. We are assigned shifts of 4 hours. Volstagg and I will be watching the “package”. Volstagg offers to stand watch first so I make it a point to go to bed.
When I finally come to, I felt disoriented. I could hear a roaring at me and I felt cold. As my senses flooded in, I became aware of Sgt. Whitestone, RFC Nazir beside her, holding a sword to me telling me to drop my weapon. Confused, I looked down to find myself covered in blood and Ranger Daynore at my feet.
I was panicked, consumed with the grief that I must have done this. Then, as the situation developed, I became aware of my wounds as the pain began to grow. I requested of Sgt. Whitestone to permit me two steps back and allow me to take a knee. She did, but I could see her guard was still up.
During my submission, Corporal Samira Ravenwood ran around the corner of the house and RFC Nazir subsequently threw a knife at her and Cpl Ravenwood retaliated by taking her arm with an arrow. Sgt. Whitestone defused the situation and Nazirhealed her wound, regaining use of her arm.
Nazir was sent to inspect the house and came back to report the rest of the team was down — expertly targeted with a blow to the back of the skull, more importantly to the spine, which left them incapacitated. So, it seems I didn’t go nuts after all..
RFC Nazir was ordered to stay with me while Sgt. Whitestone and Clp. Ravenwood followed after the tracks that had been discovered. When they returned, the “package” was dead. Sgt. Whitestone buried it in the snow.
Volstagg was the first to wake up who accused Sgt. Whitestone of striking him in the back of the head. The way he explained it, Sgt. Whitestone asked Volstagg to inspect the package for weapons and to see what he was reading. When he stepped away from the door he fell to the floor.
Ranger Gracelyn Moldova awoke next — She said she interacted with Sgt. Whitestone, who expressed how easily Ranger Zathlan went to sleep before subsequently knocking her out.
Ranger Daynore awoke next and said he had a conversation with what turns out to be someone posing as Sgt. Whitestone. The only reason he noticed it was because the impostor called Clp. Ravenwood by her first name. Either he is extremely paranoid, or extremely astute. Perhaps both? In either case, after he unearthed the impostor, she/he/it melded into liquid shadow and popped up behind him and knocked him unconscious.
Once Zathlan woke up (who never came to) we all just say around and awaited the next play. We didn’t wait long as RFC Nazir called for a halt. The figure says he is expected and gets cleared by RFC Nazir. Whomever this man is, I only know that he is an adept.
Once he knew of the situation, he elected to scan everyone to see if we had any displacement or issues with our heads. Turns out, I was the winner. My mind had been tampered with and that’s why from going to sleep to becoming aware with the Sergeant holding a sword at me…
And that solved my mystery. Just my luck. First ya lose and eye, then you get brain damage. Needless to say, RFC Nazir escorts the man to where they found the body of our “package” and when she gets back, off to the Barony we go…
We get back on the 10th, but its on the 13th that my memories come back. As soon as I had them, I found Sgt. Whitestone. She was, of course, in her office. But she certainly was more relaxed than I had ever seen her. Instead of her usual armor, she was wearing a lighter gear. She.. Well either way I reported my memories.
I was awoken that night by Volstagg hitting the ground. I sprang to and grabbed my sword and engaged this figure who looked like Sgt. Whitestone. I screamed for help. I, however, made no sound. In fact, nothing in the room did. It was all silenced. During our conflict the package ran and my assailant looked annoyed with the whole thing. As I gave pursuit, I found Ranger Daynore on the ground. Then I felt pain and everything went white…
After my report I was dismissed. I didn’t bother to go back to bed.
We were here for a month, and I continued to build walls and do what was expected of me. I, unlike the others, are not a guest of this place. Aside from Lady Regillus — she is of the house and afforded a bit of luxury. I did notice she was looking a bit pale though..
On the New Year, Corporal Volstagg had a party. We let lose and celebrated. It had been a long time since I had let go like that.. I’m almost scared to again. In either case I made it a point to have a small toast with Sgt. Whitestone. She seems very dedicated to her work and I hope she finds some joy in it. Lately, she seems to be a bit angry due to the treatment of the unit and herself. I can’t say I blame her.
9th of Falling Ice, 3126
The horns go off and we gather in post as Wolfhaven returns from his time in the field. It seems, however, his stay is to be brief as he has to return back to the battles at hand. Being he is a skilled general, there is none better to have in the North than Lord Wolfhaven.
It is on this day, after my Lord settles in, that we have the reading of The Last Will and Testament of Ranger First Class Thorgram Ramshorn. It was a somber moment — not the usual celebration that I am use to with Last Calls. But, I will say that I am sorry to see Thorgram go.
He has had an impact on so many in this group, even Volstagg. It will not be the same without him on the wall. I only hope that there are more people in the world like him — shining beacons in the darkness.
On the 10th we are informed we have one last day at the Wolfhaven Barony. We leave for Echer’Naught in the morning. Samira will be taking a desk assignment due to her pregnancy. Also, attention to orders is called
Lady Samira Ravenwood Regillus is promoted to Sergeant
Sir Gunther Volstagg is promoted to Sergeant.
Lady Nexus Zathlan promoted to Ranger First Class
Gracelyn Moldova is promoted to Ranger First Class
Durlan Daynore is promoted to Ranger First Class
I, Audric Amaroth, am promoted to Ranger First Class
Amelia Whitestone is promoted to Sergeant Minor
Before we leave I made it a point to have a talk with Lady Wolfhaven about my status with the house. I will not reveal the details here as it is not Ranger Business, but it was, most illuminating.
12th of Falling Ice we return to the ranger city of Echer’Naught. On our arrival we see the newest edition to the North Gate: A large statue, the size of a Minotaur, stands facing the city and bears the likeness of Thorgram Ramshorn. Well done, Sgt.Major… Well done..
Sgt. Minor Whitestone rides us to the Ranger HQ and we dismount with her. Inside she cuts off to an office and begins to issue her report. It is blunt, sarcastic, and perfectly executed. The Colonel in the office tried to close the door, but she did not permit him the chance. She then said she was off to Sir Halten to report in as this unit is, after all, under his command. If they wanted a lead to her efforts, they best act quickly. With that, she turns, mounts up, and we start off to Sir Halten.
Once there, the usual wait was cut down to a mere fifteen minutes. She gives her report with the same blunt, proper demeanor before departing. Once her report is over we are dismissed.
The unit desired to go to a bar — they suggested the barracks and invited me along. Given that I do not fully understand my disposition, I declined. They tried The Hammer and Anvil and again, I declined. I did not wish to enter a brawl. Volstagg then suggested his home which I was more than happy to attend. At least there I felt safe.
On the 14th we got our summons to Sir Halten. It was brief, of course. We were informed to prepare for our duty to resume tomorrow and we had a new trainee: Grendel. He smelt everyone of us. I made it a point to smell him right back (which I admit was probably a bad idea). Still..
We then made it a point to get him set up in his holdings. He was too large for the barracks at the HQ, so he was hosted behind the Wayfarer’s rest. After that, one last night of drink before I have to button it back up.
Before we get back to it, and I finish this report, I can not help but feel like an old guard has changed. Samira was the last living from the unit that had met Captain Hawksclaw, and now she is desked. I suspect once she has her child, she will retire from The Ranger Corps.
With nothing but young pups left, we are now left to forge our own path in the world. Leave our own legacies. We here much of the old members, of the greatness they achieved. Now, it is our turn to keep the reputation of this unit alive and achieve our own legends. Our own stories.
It’s time for The Legends to Awaken…
RFC Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven.
Campaign Report 83
Tall Drink of Water
Report Filed 20th Falling Ice 3126
RFC Amaroth's Report
Date: 18th of Falling Ice, 3126
We're stuck here in this god forsaken island for now. Sgt.Minor Amelia Whitestone and Sgt. Volstagg are currently incapacitated. This leaves me with command of the unit. I do not have much instruction to give though -- We are currently confined to our quarters within this gather of goblinesh.
The mission, though a success, came at great risk. We do not know if the item achieved will meet the criteria of the ritual, but it is the best option we have. I will recount the events leading up to the writing of this report.
15th of Falling Ice, 3126
We collect in our usual arrangement, but once there Sgt.Minor Whitestone relocates us to the stables out back. Grendel, though small for an Ogre, still can't fit in the building. It is also at this time we meet Newt -- A Brinche of barely five feet who is from the front line fighting up in Camon. She seems grumpy, but I can only imagine what her journey was like. Either way with Tux and Grendal on the team we had a heavy hitter and, I assume, someone who specialized in a bit of scouting and stealth.
Next on to the actual mission: We are to find 1 of 2 items. Option one the flower. A legendary item that is said to exist, but have no idea where or what it looks like. It is called a Life Touched Angel's Trumpet. It is, apparently, in some secluded glade or lake. Honestly? That sounds like a needle in a hay stack.
Option two -- Water of absolute pureness. Which we have no idea what that really means.
To put it simply -- we are looking for a bunch of abstract stuff that, due to the nature of how we acquired the information, aren't even sure if its a literal thing or not. Let alone how accurate the translation is.
This makes my head hurt. But, we leave it to a coin toss and come to the decision we are going after the water first. Now, the only problem is we don't have an inkling of an idea of what it means or where to find this "water of absolute pureness".
Through the discussion, Sgt. Volstagg brings up the Isle of Dragons. I, personally, am not well versed in this location, but the others at the table seemed to think it a good place to start. Sgt. Minor Whitestone begins to examine a map, trying to route a path. Finally, she closed the map and declared that if this was important enough we would be teleporting.
On the 16th of Falling Ice we gather outside of the walls at this insane contraption. Again, I feel ill informed. Others seemed to know what this was. Apparently it is some kind of Archfire teleportation device. And then you ask one simple question and people think you're an idiot.
Truthfully, do people not realize that this..whatever it is..is rare for most. I am grateful for the insight that it was going to hurt though. And hurt it did -- my body felt like it was consumed by some eldritch fire as I stretched out into infinity. It was an eternity of pain in but a flickering moment..
Once I was able to focus my senses through the agony, I became aware of the sound of steam in the snow. Then I became alarmingly aware of the large selection of Goblinesh that enveloped us. If they wanted us dead, however, they would have sprung when we appeared. An old goblin-woman came forward, and none stood in her way. She came to each of us and rattled bones at us before we were finally allowed to move.
We were given an escort through this massive fortification. It as not advanced, but for what they lacked in technology, they made up for in size. We were taken to a point on the wall where we overlooked a large lake. The Orc, who I can only assume is someone of importance, directed our gaze into the distance and declared that was where Tempest was. Then, we were told we were going to stay in a building until night and move out.
That night we moved out, flanked by heavy orcs, with goblins as our scouts. I don't know how far we walked -- truthfully I was too paranoid that a blast of arcfire was going to streak out of the night and light us up. I do know we made it to the water and we slipped into a boat.
It took us 3 hours... 3 hours... to get to our destination. We rowed slowly. But, if you were to listen to the winds rustle across the fields in Olara -- that would have made more noise than us as we traveled the water. Unfortunately, despite being as silent as a shadow, we were spotted by a watch tower.
I, along with Whitestone, Moldova, and Daynor, were thrown to the beach. The rest had to fight there way to cover under a hail of arcfire blasts. Sgt. Minor Whitestone put myself and Sgt. Volstagg (along with herself) as distraction. Newt, who had only recently put themselves into the water to put out the flames, was to flank, and Grendal was to charge up once we started to engage them.
We ran. We ducked, dipped, dived. I recall a tree falling down right over my head as the arcfire toppled it. Still, we made a good show of ourselves. Though I swore I saw Newt off on the flank on fire again... I didn't have much time to really question my eye (especially given this circumstances). But, a good show it was as we three made it to the base of this primitive tower. Also, Grendel is apparently very fast.. He bolted like lightening across the field. I would later learn this was a magical affect that enhanced his own speed.
Once we were collected, in perfect fashion, Whitestone, Volstagg, and myself began to cleave into a leg, trying to bring the platform down. Also, Newt was on fire and she climbed up the tower enough and began to rub all over it until she set it on fire.
I am not sure if I should be concerned for my comrades mental health or not...
Regardless, as it was toppling we were sent tumbling as Arcfire detonated via self-destruct. But hey, we did it! It wasn't until morning we encountered our next issue...
We found the destination -- an isolated lake untouched by anyone. It was a surreal experience to see an area unmarked by the passage of civilization. There, most assuredly, was beauty in it. Unfortunately, given the fact we went loud and took out a watch tower, Tempest likely was on the hunt.
Moldova was elected to be the one to take the water -- she was the purest of us all, having never taken a life. So she took the water into the specially crafted white-silver flask and we made our way. Unfortunately, Tempest was closing the noose.
We ran, and ran. Shots were fired, holes were boring into my steel armor and shield. Sometimes I had the pleasure of getting to cut one of those Tempest ******** down. And let me tell you, each time the blood flowed, it felt good... Euphoric you might say. It was hard not to give over to it..
It wasn't until the last leg of that arduous journey that disaster struck: Sgt.Minor Whitestone, Sgt. Volstagg, and RFC Moldova fell, succumbing to the various arcfire shots that had peppered us during our quick retreat. The beach, however, gave us respite in the form of reinforcements.
The Orc that was the leader of our escort team had left us to fetch help. Looks like he brought in more than enough. They stormed the beach, pushing back the enemy and giving them targets to allow us to escape. They lost about 30 good orcs to the forces of Tempest. They displayed their honor proudly. They have earned my eternal gratitude and respect.
Back at camp we were settled into our small quarters -- the three were tended to, but they were going to be out for a while. This left me in charge of the remaining team. Nothing I am not unfamiliar with. We were given chow to help fill our bellies and told to wait until the rest woke up.
That was something I think we all could do easily.
RFC Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven.
Campaign Report 84
A Flower and a Cure
Report Filed 18th First Hunt 3126
Sergeant Minor Amelia Whitestone
18th of Falling Ice, 3126
RFC Zathlan, accompanied by Paladin Sebastian Surname, and our guide, Serys (a surly Alakar archer) departed Echer’Naught on horseback riding to meet us in Tar’Imas.
20th of Falling Ice, 3126
We were politely asked to leave the Gather of Fylg by the morning of the 20th. Everyone was, more or less, healed so I chose not to press the issue. Of course, not knowing what awaited us on our next mission, I tried to give the team enough time to sort their equipment while I conferred with Lady Moonsilver. Despite the utility of Farspeakers, I find the mental intrusion disquieting.
My new orders were to head west to the Aralon forest and wait for allies in the elven city of Tar’Imas. I was also under strict orders to keep our destination and mission secret. Which was easy to do considering other than “meet allies in Tar’Imas” I knew no more than my team.
After everyone saw to their gear maintenance, we gathered at our temporary shelter and were “walked out” of the Gather. That was an interesting experience. Though, I was not sorry to depart.
We marched West taking the northwest road from Fylg to Char for four days, the westernmost Guardian Gather. From there, we turned due west, travelling to just outside of Hispan in two days. Along they way, about a day outside of Hispan, my team entered into the Defiant Lands, a harsh and lawless region historically contested by the various local powers. Here, we doffed our Ranger kit and went as travelers. Per orders, we avoided the independent city. Turning north, we entered the Aralon forest.
Our greeting from the local elves was only slightly less inviting than our welcome to Fylg. These people were less hospitable than a Steiner in the Crimson Wall. Nevertheless, my passphrase, provided by Lady Moonsilver, was enough to prevent our outright execution. With no fanfare, we were escorted by our “hosts” into the elven woods and just outside the city of Tar’Imas, an ancient and well defended city. From what little I knew of this place, they had survived the War of Flame, despite Kal attempts to torch the woods. We arrived late on the 6th of First Hunt.
All in all, the trip trip took 20 days by foot. Our mounted allies were not far behind.
7th of First Hunt, 3126
The day after we arrived, our allies arrived, bringing with them a guide and my special package. First order of business was to introduce the new members to the team. Starting with Sebastian, a male, human Paladin who had recently served under the Colonel during the stand against Darkness. Considering our upcoming mission was Light oriented, I hoped his connection with “higher powers” would come in handy. Our other addition was an Alakar with connection to the local elves and a knowledge of a potential location for the Life-toched Angel’s Trumpet.
My second order of business was to pass on the “special package.” When RFCRamshorn died, he left his sword and axe to the Colonel. After a conversation I had with the Colonel I deliberated long about who I might pass the shield on to. Ultimately, I elected to give the shield to RFC Daynore. Neither I nor Sergeant Volstagg needed the shield. RFC Amaroth could use it, but also did not necessarily require it. Of late, RFC Daynore has been useful in protecting our mages and healers, namely RFC Moldova. With this in mind, I handed him the shield with instructions that when a new member entered the team, he would pass the artifact on to that individual. Then, we set camp for the night while I discussed our plans with Serys.
8th of First Hunt, 3126
We departed by first light. Serys up front, Newt bringing up the rear. RFCs Audric and Zathlan took the flanks as we took the forest path north from the city. The elves seemed pleased to see us go.
10th of First Hunt, 3126
We arrived at a location two days north of the city in, or around, the area which Serys claims legend speaks of a tomb of one of Archanon’s first followers, right within a sacred grove. For reasons, the elves have abandoned it, letting Life take its course. How Serys knows of this place, I was cautioned not to press. Nevertheless, I ordered Sergeant Volstagg to break the team into pairs to increase our search area.
RFCs Amaroth and Daynor, Sergeant Volstagg and Ranger Newt, Grendel and Sebastian, RFCs Moldova and Zathlan; I was paired with Serys. We split up, staying in range of voice. It took time, hours, but RFC Amaroth spotted a circular glade from an arete line and alerted the team. By late afternoon, regrouped and made for the “glade”. Our unit was moving north and east, across broken terrain, crisscrossing the river in a winding path. Though more direct, it was also more treacherous. We were crossing yet another log bridge, when Sebastian lost his footing and plummeted into the river, wearing full armor. Before any of us had a chance to react, Serys pulled rope from his shoulder, tossed the end to Grendel and dove off the log into the river below. In moments, he reached the struggling Sebastian who thrashed so violently that Serys was forced to render the man unconscious. All was going well, when the rope slipped from Grendel’s hands.
Now, without anchor, Seyrs tried to maneuver both bodies to the shoreline, but fought the raging current. We, immediately back tracked and started down to them. It took the better part of the afternoon, but we managed to find them both, Serys had pulled Sebastian from the river, stripped his armor, breathed life into him, before wrapping the Paladin in his own cloak for warmth. RFC Moldova verified that the young man would live. We made camp that night.
11th of First Hunt, 3126
We resume our journey.
13th of First Hunt, 3216
It took two days, but we arrived without incident. Walking the river path, we descended ancient and weathered stone stairs. I sent Newt to scout the area and she returned with a report that the glade was a circle within the forest. There were eight stone structures, four arches framing kneeling stone statues (Paladins) and four straight standing stones. Within the center was a tomb, and a circle of flowers.
Finding no hint of danger, we sent RFC Moldova forward with Sergeant Volstagg in support. She entered the sacred glade with little issue, though indicated feeling power. With nothing doing, Volstagg entered the glade and things immediately went sideways. No sooner had Volstagg broken the boundary, when the four massive statures rose from their kneeling position and attacked both RFC Moldova and Sergeant Volstagg. Surrounded, I sent the rest of the team in to support. Serys and RFC Daynore remained behind in support.
RFC Amaroth charged in, trying to draw off the Celestial Stone Guardians. He managed one. We engaged the rest, but our weapons were of little help. Even if we could harm the statues, they almost immediately repaired themselves. From behind, Seyrs peppered them with explosive arrows which SEEMED to have an effect. Watching the battle for a time, I realized that no matter how we maneuvered, the Celestial Guardians always placed two guardians between the tomb and our forces while the others engaged. Considering how unintelligent they appeared, that was obviously programmed. And since they seemed to have a taste for RFC Amaroth, he would prove excellent bait.
I ordered my team to fall back, Serys providing cover. As I hoped, as soon as we left the circle, the Guardians resumed their vigil, two by the tomb, the others closest to our larger force. On a hunch, I sent RFC Moldova with Sebastian and Seyrs around the far side, one Paladin, one Blessed by Archonon, and our only hope of successfully recovering the flower. The others, I stacked near the rode. Simple plan. Sergeant Volstagg and I would try and take out two of the Guardian’s legs with our arcfire bombs. The rest of the team would split, Grendel vs one, the others vs the second and they would engage the remaining two Guardians. With two disabled and two under attack, I hoped the Serys could reach the flower, take it, and then Sebastian could recover it before the Guardians turned on them. Archanon willing, of course.
The plan worked, more or less. RFC Amaroth entered the sacred circle and immediately two of the Guardians attacked. I took one, Volstagg the second. My bombs did their work well. Both dropped to their knees. Unfortunately, I and Amaroth were caught the blasts. Volstagg weathered it well. The others struck and pinned the remaining Guardians. Serys broke for the flower while we held our ground. It seemed an eternity, but he did was was required, and Sebastian sprinted, vaulting the tomb grabbed the flower and escaped.
We withdrew, and once clear of the circle, the Guardians repaired themselves and resumed their post around the tomb. We took stock, and retreated.
15th of First Hunt, 3126
We arrived back at Tar’Imas two days later, Newt in the lead this time. Serys in the rear. RFC Moldova held the flower and water. We were just outside the city when I realized that the team was halted in the road. When I arrived, I found a creature, vaguely female with the body of a young child, but somehow…older. It, she, whatever, was engaged in conversation with my men. Volstagg, in particular, seemed frustrated. The creature, calling itself Eve, informed us that it, she, was not an enemy and that it, she, could aid us in returning harm. RFC Daynore contacted Eris, who contacted the…thing. In the end, Lady Moonsilver vouched for the creature and Eve led us into the city, right passed the guards. They seemed to part for this…girl.
Eve entered the sacred grove of this city, and there, we gathered into a circle. Even spoke and we rippled through space, arriving within Echer’Naught sacred grove. Lady Treesinger greeted us upon arrival. We were invited to stay within the grove, but, instead, I ordered my team back the barracks to clean, repair, and rest. Eve disappeared and we left the water and flower with the druidess. I, Sergeant Volstagg, and Seyrs went to report in, finding Colonel Wolfhaven in attendance.
16th of First Hunt, 3126
After the beating we took over our most recent two missions, I felt it appropriate to give my team some down time. Sergeant Major Stormhammer agreed to allow me to send them on Pub Patrol. More a ceremonial beat. Olaran commanders sometimes reward their best by ordering them to keep the peace within the keep, or city’s, taverns. My team was expected to break up fights, but were also allowed to drink, within reason.
I also welcomed Sebastian and Serys to the team as official Rangers of Echer’Naught. Also, I was informed by my men that someone was creating icons of the Colonel, clay, wood, pewter, and if you were rich enough, White Silver. Also, Sergeant Volstagg prevented Grendel from stealing one of the icons. Apparently, he knows nothing of commerce.
That same night, at 10PM, we arrived at the Sacred Grove to witness the ritual we sacrificed so much to achieve. The elves here were actually hospitable, but I was more interested in getting on with it. We witnessed the usual swaying, singing, chanting and magic. Sometime during the 13th hour, the Everwood bowl, the water of pureness, fine raw crysarium powder, Archanon’s Light, the Life-touched Angel’s Trumpet were all joined. Interestingly, High Druidess Treesinger gave up her station in charge of the ritual to the girl-creature Eve.
Sometime late into the 13th hour, an elf was brought into the Sacred Grove, clearly afflicted with the plague. The woman was given the water, and we all were allowed to take hammocks within the grove to wait. I admit, while first skeptical, I had one of my most peaceful night’s sleep while there.
17th of First Hunt, 3126
Early in the morning on the 17th, High Druidess Treesinger informed us all that the cure was successful. Though, full healing would take time. I dismissed my team to take the day off while I spoke with Colonel Wolfhaven, and Sheriff Halten about future plans. It was during those meetings that my approval for transfer to Kythros was accepted. Colonel Wolfhaven, Sir Halten, and I discussed the future of the team. Sergeant Volstagg has proven more than capable and, clearly, Sir Halten prefers him to me. The team has meshed well over the last months and the new additions are working well. Time will tell if they will survive as a team.
Nevertheless, my appointment was always intended to be temporary. And, with a new leader emerging in Volstagg…the time had come for me to move on. I debated calling the team together and telling them like Rangers are accustomed to doing, but time is pressing. I knew Volstagg would handle things.
Odd enough, later that evening, Sergeant Volstagg himself arrived in Colonel Wolfhaven’s office as we were wrapping up the details of the transfer of authority. I bade him farewell. It was notably Olaran. I respected that. Should he ever find himself in Kythros, I will treat him to a drink.
18th of First Hunt, 3126
I was gone by the morning, but I know that my Rangers would be meeting Sir Halten for the first time under Sergeant Volstagg’s command. I wish them well. My Hunt continues.
Final Report as Echer’Naught Alpha Team Commander
Sergeant Minor Amelia Whitestone
Sergeant Minor Amelia Whitestone
Date: 18th of First Hunt, 3126
To: Ranger Command, Echer’Naught
So much has changed in this passage of time. So too, have our intimate knowledge of our team. We continue to function and operate together, even for some of the, shall we say, craziest of things. For example — first a bowl of water. Now a flower.
We risked our lives on a flower — a flower that we weren’t even sure would work. This was a gamble on others getting translations correct through ciphers. It was, shall we say, an interesting journey. I shall endeavor to recall the tale and recant it below..
20th of Falling Ice, 3126
By the 20th, everyone was up and running. I was revealed of my temporary command once Volstagg and Whitestone were revived from their injuries. It didn’t take us long to get our next assignments either. We spend those hours preparing for the journey — not knowing where we are going, but certainly wanting to be in tip top shape, most of us elect to finish repairing our gear.
When the time came we were escorted out of the Gather. We left out of the West Gate and curved upwards along the lake shore before turning to the North. Our travel took 4 days and we settled just outside of Char (we actually camped outside of the place). From here we turned West and marched for another 2 days.
Our journey took a pause in those 2 days as we came across a rock with various, I assume, languages on it. Thankfully we have a few linguists among us and they translated: “Beyond here lies The Defiant Lands”
I don’t know much of the lands themselves (I am not well versed in worldly things). I do know, however, that this is the path the Kal took when they marched to Olara. It gave me pause in a way — this was the path of destruction that flame took to arrive in my homeland. The path of those touched by flame, just like myself.
Since we were in enemy turf, we removed our Ranger gear and slipped into a more mercenary look. Something I was all too familiar with. Then we marched 2 more days. We arrived outside the city of Hispan. Hispan, from what Sgt.Minor Whitestone told me, Hispan is an unknown. We aren’t sure who runs the actual place and, due to the high value of our mission, were going to avoid the place. Better safe than sorry.
By the 6th of First Hunt, 3126, we arrived just outside of an elven city called Tar’Imas. In fact, our greeting of stepping into the forest as an arrow at our feet. Apparently, Sgt.Minor Whitestone knows enough elven (though I could tell she was butchering it) to get us through the boundaries. We were left outside of the city waiting.
7th of First Hunt, 3126
RFC Zathlan arrived with two more guests. A Ranger named Saris, who apparently would be our gardener in safely removing the flower, and a Paladin of The Church named Sebastian (who promptly detected I was touched by Flame). Looks like a great first impression to me.
At our nightly debrief, RFC Daynor was gifted Thorgram Ramshorn sheild — to protect the members of the unit and to pass it down to another when the time was ready. Interesting choice — but it helps to split the shields up among more people. The Wall can survive..
10th of First Hunt, 3126
We get to an area where Saris suspects our search should begin. Rumor (legends, whichever) have it that somewhere exists a tomb of one of the first Paladins of Archanon. So, that sounds like a perfect place for me.
I was pair up with Daynor (Volstagg paired himself with Newt. I am concerned he might lose an eye or something if he isn’t careful). We were perched on top of a ridge overlooking the forest when something stood out to me. An unnatural circle, with a few stones protruding from the ground. Elves typically embrace nature, not cut it down. That made it a likely choice.
So, we called out down the line for others to join and Daynor summoned Sgt.Minor Whitestone. and the team gathered right around mid-day. I pointed out my findings. People seemed, legitimately surprised that I managed to see something. I suppose they feel having one-eye makes me blind. I will admit it does, in some ways, limit my vision width wise, but I am still able to see. After all, I use to track people..
It was a long journey crossing the terrain — it required some climbing through it all. All was going well until we got to the log. I assume something had grown on the surface of the downed tree, for Sebastian fell into the waters below rather abruptly. Saris, quick on his feet, threw a rope to Grendel and dove in after. Everything seemed to be going rather swimmingly (that was not intended to be funny) and Grendel was about to start winding in the rope when I heard Saris shout something in anger.
I turned back in time to see the rope dropping into the water. Apparently Grendel had dropped the thing. Clearly, today was not going to be a good day. I immediately began moving, trying to follow the path of the river to keep pace with Saris and Sebastian. The rest were moving as well. It back-tracked us 2 hours.
Sebastian was out cold, Saris was smoking a pipe. Sebastian had some wounds but, for the most part, would be fine. I must admit Saris impressed me — quick thinker and an able body. Hopefully Sebastian won’t have an brain damage from getting knocked out.
We resume our journey on the 11th.
13th of First Hunt, 3126
After a long journey we wind up some spiral stairs, and found ourselves face to face with what looked like an ancient monument of some kind. Stone archways and statues lurked around the site. Whitestone had Volstagg set up the skirmish line, with Archers at the ready, then he and Moldova approached the temple, sanctified ground, tomb, whatever you wanna call it.
Moldova stepped in easily, made it to the center. When Volstagg stepped in, however, the statues sprang to life and began their assault on my companions. Whitestone ordered us to attack. I can’t recall what everyone did, to be honest. I was, truthfully, thinking of the best way to handle this. If this was truly the tomb of one of The First Paladins then this was going to hurt.
I charged in, knowing full well my sword was useless against these creatures. The moment I crossed the grounds I felt the power of light wash over me and my insides began to ache. I could feel my skin crawling. Then I saw the faint wisps of smoke as the divine might began to burn me in an effort, I assume, to purify me.
One of the statues broke off and engaged me, freeing up some of the group. I could only stand their and get waylaid — I knew there was very little I could do to stop it. But, one less on the main group and they eventually managed to free themselves. I, on the other hand, did not leave with any mortal wounds. Instead the light of Archanon had seared my figure badly, opening a few wounds. Each passing moment I was in that sacred ground was a moment that I could immolate by holy fire..
After taking in the situation, Sgt.Minor Whitestone came up with a plan: We would attack from multiple sides to give Saris a chance to step in and get the flower. I would go in first to draw out two, then Sgt. Volstagg and Sgt.Minor Whitestone would flank me and drop down Arcfire bombs to deal with them, hopefully incapacitating them. Likewise, the others (sans Moldova and Sebastian) would engage the other two.
I admit I didn’t do much. I couldn’t. I stepped in and took my blows, distracting the stone guardians with my tainted soul. Volstagg and Whitestone dropped their bombs and it did its work. One might consider me crazy however, for I was in the blast radius of both bombs. Thankfully, through sheer dumb luck I think, and my kite shield, I managed to survive.
Unfortunately, the bombs drew the targets from me and I was unable to do much else. Truth be told I felt pretty useless in the second step of the plan. Maybe I should have taken a lesson from Volstagg. He literally speared/tackled one of the things to the ground. Unfortunately, while it did leave the giant stone figure down, it was only a fleeting moment before it got up and bashed him.
RFC Daynor also interposed himself between me and the guardian. When it was time to withdraw, we were both smashed by a tremendous swing and sent tumbling. I will have to remind him to never, ever do that again. Not that I do not appreciate his efforts, but because I’m not worth saving on a whim like that. I’m just a soldier. We’re easily replaced.
In either case, we managed to get the **** flower. Huzzah and all that. Thankfully, due to some healing potions, the burns from Archanon’s Light were diminished. It seems there is no redemption for me. Can’t even burn the corruption out of me. Oh well.. at least it served a purpose to help my team. I don’t know how many more chances it will be of aid, but I will do my best to utilize it for the defense of my friends.
15th of First Hunt, 3126
We arrive back in area of Tar’Imas. It is here we encounter a girl named Eve. She wore simple clothing and she certainly knew a lot more than her apparently age suggested. She also boasted that she could get us back to Echer’Naught via magic as opposed to us walking. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to walk it.. but if it hurt as bad as last time I was highly considering it.
As it would turn out, it seems she knows Eris. But, beyond that, I have no idea who or what this…person is or how they know us. She was kind enough to warn me that the teleportation back would be rather unpleasant, so she’s okay in my book so far.
Indeed, it burned, but not as bad as the arcfire method. That **** thing can rot for all I care.
Still, we were back. Treesinger told us they would work on the ritual. We were given the rest of the day off given everything that had happened. So, most of us grabbed a drink.
16th of First Hunt, 3126
We are assigned into teams of 4 for standard patrols. We are to rotate between the taverns and bars, secure the ale, and break up any fights. Pretty easy shift. Broke up a few fights. Thankfully, nothing major.
Also on this day, Saris and Sebastian become official members of The Rangers of Echer’Naught. Likewise, in completion of his first mission, Grendel is given full Ranger status.
We also learned two things — One, Grendel does not understand how humans work, nor how money works. Two, Colonel Wolfhaven is now a fashion trend. They have clay, wood, pewter, and whitesilver pendants that are (no offense to the creator) crude images of the good Colonel. People wear them as pins, pendants, and more. Why? I can only guess.
It seemed to have come about during the festival we missed. There was jousting and a boxing tournament. Sounds like a good time. Glad I missed it.
At around 10pm we are summoned to the Sacred Grove to witness the ritual. There were refreshments and food (Elven food…nothing meaty). For what it’s worth, the act of generosity was appreciated. Most of us hung out in hammocks, waiting. Three hours of singing, chanting…whatever it is druids do. Then Eve came. She replaced Treesinger (which, truth be told, gives me a bit of concern). Still, she stepped in and I assume she did well enough. One final hour of chanting and then the moment of truth began.
They brought forth an elf who, now that I look back on it, was in the last throws of the plague. They took a major risk bringing the infected into that land. I must admit that I can’t help but to admire that level of bravery.
It was into the morning of the 17th when Treesinger approached us and told us the cure was a success. We don’t have enough to stop the plague, but we can safely distribute the cure through the city and save it. She was going to share the results throughout the realm and hopefully others could start replicating the cure. It would take some time but, for the most part, it looks like the Elves will be saved.
We are given the rest of the day off. Since I am not one for keeping myself idle, I made it a point to stay near the Ranger HQ and proceeded to do some training with other Rangers. Better to teach and share than to grow sloppy. Besides, the vacation seemed too good to be true so I would rather be ready than not.
18th of First Hunt, 3126
We have our first meeting with Sir Halten. As usual, we waited several hours before being seen. Though, do not be late. The moment you are late, I swear that we would be seen early. In this meeting we are told we will have a light day today before resuming normal operations tomorrow. Apparently lots of people are happy with out performance.
It was also at this time that Sir Halten reveals that Sgt.Minor Amelia Whitestone’s transfer to Kythros was accepted. Volstagg commented that he saw her leave with an attractive man on her arm.
I will admit there is a sting to this. She is a soldier, and she left to escape the political **** here. I understand her reasons. She and I had talked about it before. Beyond that, on a personal level, I had started to grow a bit attached to Amelia. There was something about her that was just… well, it was respectable and enjoyable.
In either case…another change. Another thing to adapt to. Tomorrow, we start our new journey with our new commander. Here’s to making it out alive.
RFC Audric Amaroth, Sworn to House Wolfhaven.
Here we are. As to where “here” is, I have no bloody idea. I’m speaking rhetorically of course, but I think you catch my meaning.
Normally I begin these things with some type of lamentation or complaint, but the Rangers in their wisdom, have seen fit to place me in command. That being said, there is nothing to do but get on with the thing. I must admit I have my trepidations. But at some point someone has to do it, and the Rangers have selected me.
As far as a detailed recounting of the events, I shall leave that to Audric. He has a better… eye for detail. Heh.
I think that I would be better served by laying out my thoughts, as they relate to moving forward. With the departure of Sergeant Whitestone, The team will take some time to realign itself to a new commander. I intend on holding a series of interviews with each of my team members.
The Rangers place heavy emphasis on the individual, as well as the group effort. I will try to pay deference to that, and I hope to learn what their individual goals may be. I want them to feel like they have a voice within the team. I mean, up to a point that is. If everybody started talking at once, it would be chaos…
So we found the flower, and the elves were able to use it. Which is good. Hopefully, they will be able to come out of hiding. The elves, as a nation, have never been a terribly reliable ally, but I’d rather have them then not. After all that was said and done, I still had more questions than answers. After an uncomfortable night amongst the forest spirits, I wonder… Who is the child which calls herself Eve, and why does she seem familiar.
It was strange crossing the Blasted Lands again. It has been about four years since I was there last. While it is much greener than I remember, it is still largely uninhabited. I wonder how many good men died trying to take and retake that useless piece of real estate?
The mission itself went fairly smooth. The animated carvings were a surprise, but the team did admirably. Whatever magic was used to create the stone guardians was obviously powerful. Any damage that we inflicted was immediately repaired. Also, they were able to detect Audric’s Flame condition.
What was also interesting, was the fact that they did not move when Gracelynn entered the circle, but attacked when I stepped into it. As I am not affiliated with any of the Ascended, I can only assume that it is because her hands are unbloodied.
It does seem strange that in the past few months we have had a good many encounters with the Ascended. Or their followers, I should probably say. I think that I should lay off with my opinions on the matter. I fear that I may have offended some of the team with my comments. With that in mind, I will try to keep my roll-hole shut.
I think that I was even short with Eve about the whole thing, but the child has great insight. I had made some disparaging comment, and she said to me, “sometimes the hardest demons we fight, are the ones inside of us.”
How true that is. For some of us, that means literally. For others, the idea is more abstract. In any event, I will bear it in mind, and trying to keep my discourse civil on the matter.
As far as the team goes, I am thinking of dividing the members into two groups. One to maintain a front, and the other for distance and magical support. I have an idea as to how it will shake out, but I want to conduct the interviews first.
Anyway, I’ve started to ramble, so I will stop here. What the immediate future holds, I do not know. We have solved the Elven plague issue, or so it would seem, the city is more or less copacetic, thanks to the efforts of Leora, and the team seems to be getting along fairly well. I am almost hesitant to ask, what’s next?
As for me, I have work to do. Not just with the team, but with myself. I have buried my share of the demons, which even spoke about, in the past. Lately, it seems like some of them have scratched close to the surface. Looks like it may be time to throw some more dirt on them…
The Olaran Offender
PS: We really need to find out what’s in these healing potions… I seriously have a rash. Of course it could be shingles. Or maybe the gout. I hope it isn’t shingles.
18th of Falling Ice
I get put in charge of a small team to take a package to my normal team. I really miss them but ascended have mercy on my small teams souls. This small team is made up of myself, Serys an alakar, and Sebastian a human. We are too meet the team in Tar’lmas.
The 7th of First Hunt
I can honestly say we had an uneventful and safe journey. We give sergeant Whitestone the package. Come too find out the package was Thorgram’s shield which is handed to Dayanor to protect the back line fighters… And non fighters. From what I understand we are now on a mission to pick a…. flower….
We head out on the northern direction.
We arrive two days north of a city, where Serys tells us a story about one of the first followers of Archanon’s grave sights becoming a sacred grove…. Now things are getting weird…. So we get split up to find this grave site. So, we are now following leads from a story. As a Galean ranger I don’t recall doing such foolish things. It’s as though we are playing a child’s game. Olaran’s are weird. But, there must be some truth behind the feary take since we some how found it. We had a long journey to get to it. Sebastian falling, Grendel dropping the rope, and so on. Then we rest as Sebastian recovers from being knocked out and then we move on for our two day March to get there.
We arrive. We send Gracey the pacifist in shakes my head and what do you think would have happened if something attracted her hmmm? But, nothing attacked until Volkstagg entered. We all jumped in and fought. We fought for a while and saw we were making no progress. We retreat. Once out of the grove the fighting stops. Oh! Did I mention it was giant statues that attacked us? No. Hmmm, well now I have. So, once out we strategize. Think about this. We have a small group of three sneak around back and wait for an opening while the rest of us fight and distract the giant moving statues. When an opening is provided the small team of three will sneak in pick a flower off of a grave and sneak out. Then place this flower in a bowl of water that one of them just so happens to be carrying. We then all retreat with flower in hand. shake my head we then start heading back.
We are barely back in Tar’lmas when we are stopped by a strange child like creature. She, apparently, called herself Eve. Something about her seemed…. off. She says she can get us home quickly and safely. After some deliberation we take her up on her offer to take us home. We enter the sacred grove in Tar’lmas and some how end up in the sacred grove in Echer’naught. What? No matter. We drop off the items we retrieved with the druidess and leave.
We are put on light duty by watching over the pubs. We are also invited to the sacred grove to watch the elven cure. We arrive at 10pm but it didn’t really get started til about the 13th hour. There was a lot of magic and chanting. It was weird and elves are officially kind of scary. On the other hand when sleeping in the grove, while waiting to see if the cure worked, was very peaceful.
Early in the morning we are informed the cure worked.
We end this with a meeting with Sir Hasten to find Sargeant Whitestone home and Sargeant Volkstagg in charge of the team now.
Lady Nexus Zathlan
Grendel find green cloak missions really strange. We first went for water, long story, now we look for flower.stupid.
We meet new members, i think one is elf and the other is really shiny guy. We leave city and head to forgotten glade, wherever that is. Grendel not mind trip since me get own wagon. Then we have to leave it and climb stupid mountain. Hate climbing. But shiny man must hate it worst since he fell in river. New elf ask Grendel to hold rope while he jump in but rope slippery and it may have slipped. Grendel feel bad and make sure to apologise to shiny man.
Then grendel confused again when we find flower next to grave, confusing part being we attacked by statues. Green cloaks have very interesting missions. We finally have to retreat before we killed but shiny guy get flower. So we have flower and water. Grendel should feel happy but i can’t understand why we need stupid flower and stupid water.
We get back to town and apparently stupid flower and stupid water some kind of medicine. Anyways we did good and got shields though not actual shields, still confused about that one. Oh and Grendel now have new thing, it called wolfguy, not sure who that be but Grendel like it. Also me learn about money. Humans weird. That all.
Campaign Report 85
Bradshaw, Bergham, and Randall
Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
As relayed from Echer’Naught Alpha team under command of Sergeant Gunther Volstagg (via RFC Daynore)
Edited by Ranger Malcom, Scribe
Second Day of Planting Moons, Year 3126 Under the Light
First Hunt 19th, 3126
Sergeant Volstagg reorganized his team into patrol pairs and established new patrol areas and times.
RFC Moldova and Ranger Grendel were assigned to the First (morning) shift in Low Town
RFC Daynore and Ranger Nest were assigned to the Second Shift (evening) shift in Low Town
Corporal Amaroth and RFC Nexus were assigned to First (morning) shift along Mainstreet
Sergeant Volstagg and Ranger Serys were assigned to Second Shift (evening) on the Wall.
Reports indicate that Commander Schenkle and his father’s bakery have recently seen a massive uptick in commerce due to his warhero status and the connections he has made in the city; least of which his numerous direct contracts with the Rangers of Echer’Naught. Per “rumor”, the Schenkle bakery is quickly upsetting the current power structure of the Bakers and Bread-makers Guild usurping control through sheer market share. Though at present a merely economic and political struggle, there is a the very real possibility that the unrest could turn violent. Significant sums of money are at stake, as is great political power within the city.
Of note, Schenkle has opened a secondary location primarily as a baking and delivery operation. The first such outlet branch for a local bakery. They have also contracted with local muscle to provide “security.” Troubling, I Ranger recon units have linked at least some of the "muscle’ to the goblin fight promoter, Mitty. A supposed associate of Velkalar within the city.
Trade caravans originating from the Desert Princes region continue to increase, as does the frequency of “Sun Gold”, as it has become known. In that last months, several entire grain shipments were purchased from the city stock fully by coinage stamped with the ancient symbol of the Empire of the Golden Sun. Still, all known recon efforts, save the Long Recon Team have failed to return with any relevant evidence.
Plans are currently under way to form a dedicated recon unit to establish a formal presence in the region.
First Hunt 20th. 3126
At 11 AM on the 20th, three teams, Ranger Malcom’s research team, Sergeant Volstagg’s Alpha team, and an At Large team under command of Corporal Smith gathered in the courtyard behind the Ranger Regional Headquarters. Truth be told, the teams were assembled hours in advance, all dressed in Ranger Dress Uniforms. Each member of the team was awarded a Silver Shield medal from Colonel Wolfhaven and Sir Halten, the Royal Sheriff for services in rendered in eliminating “Vainar’s Bane”, the plague corrupting and killing elves within the city. Afterwards, there was a small luncheon attended by local luminaries and reporters from the new Echer’Naught Watcher publication. On an unofficial note, both Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan made quite an impression on the assemble nobility, both gaining many favors and not a few invitations to parties.
It should be noted, that while we celebrate our victory of the Elven wasting plague, a new outbreak has occurred in the city of Lanthor. Our own reserves were too limited to offer more than advice on procuring their own remedy. May the Ascended have mercy on the poor elves of that metropolis. There is also more troubling news from Lanthor, a new faction, the ominously named Shadow Legion, has gained a strong foothold, consolidating many of the smaller gangs, formerly under sway of Red Store. Recent information suggests that there might be an all new Shadow War similar to our own brewing there. Great care is being taken to determine any possible links between this new syndicate and the Velkalar crime family, if any.
First Hunt 21st, 3126
Sergeant Volstagg conducted interviews with his team. Paperwork was filed to promote RFC Audric Amaroth to Corporal. In addition, it is believed that it was also on the 21st when Sergeant Volstagg received the engraved invitation of the Intermediary Corporation, Bradshaw, Bergham, and Randall. Surprising little information about this enterprise is publicly available. I leaned from Baroness Wolfhaven, and confirmed via Madame Lillithien, that Bradshaw, Bergham, and Randall is a high profile, though discreet, business which serves as a go-between for nations, powerful syndicates, companies, and royalty when direct contact would be illegal, unseemly, or impossible. They are a Holding Company for the most powerful players in the lands. And, they invited Sir Volstagg for a personal meet in the port city of Centerport, at his earliest convenience.
Sergeant Volstagg reported this to Colonel Wolfhaven, then to Sir Halten. Ultimately, he, and his team, were given leave to attend.
First Hunt 22nd, 3126
Sergeant Volstagg informed his team of the new meeting in the Malakar Dominion and set them about making preparations for a long ride west. Also, on First Hunt 22nd, 3126 RFC Audric Amaroth was promoted to Corporal and assumed the duties as XO for Alpha Team.
Sergeant Volstagg further organized his team into two Squads. First Squad (Assault)
First Hunt 23rd, 3126
In the early morning, the Alpha team departed Echer’Naught, mounted with Grendel in a heavy wagon, heading west along the Greenway Road toward Eldara. From the the E’N to Eldara was a trip of about 200 miles, taking 7 days. They reached the city by the evening of the 30th of First Hunt. In Eldara, the crew rented a barge to transport the horses and Grendel’s wagon down the Shanais River to the sea port of Eastport. They departed the capital city early on the 31st of First Hunt.
It would appear, however, that the Alpha team’s involvement with curing Vainar’s Bane plague garnered them local support from the elves. They were met with less suspicion that most travelers these days. That coupled with RFC Nazir’s efforts bridging the rift between the Olarans and the Elves within Echer’Naught have obviously gone far to improving relations between the races. At least, locally.
Golden Eagle 5th, 3126
Eldara to Easport was another trip of about 7 days, taking a slow barge south. They arrived in Eastport by river on the 5th of Golden Eagle, 3216. and immediately set out to make arrangements with the local Rangers. While it is well known that the aggreement signed with Eastport greatly restrains what, if anything, the local Ranger HQ is allowed to do, Lieutenant Even Granger’s command is oft considered one of the least capable. The reports of drunkenness, disorganization, and outright insubordinate behavior has no excuse.
Seeing that the local Rangers would be of very little aid, Corporal Amaroth established the Rangers in the outposts stables with the mounts while others, namely RFC Zathlan acquired necessary items for their mission. By reports, she procured a very passable gown to pose a noble dilettante. I am curious how that will go with her war hammer, however?
Golden Eagle 7th, 3126
Two days in that squalid mockery of an outpose would have been intolerable. Mercifully, by the dawn tides on the 7th of Golden Eagle, the Alpha team departs Eastport for Centerport on board a semi-reputable freighter.
Golden Eagle 11th, 3126
Four short days later, without incident, the freighter docks at Centerport and the Rangers disembark, without their signature cloaks and pins. Their immediate concern to find lodging happens with only minor incident. Apparently Sergeant Volstagg gets momentarily separated from the team and is beset by thugs, but manages to scare them off with little more than a throbbing skull.
Most of the team, under command of Corporal Amaroth find lodging in a suitable inn a few streets away from the seedier establishments of the wharf. The team elected to pose a mercenaries, to the point where the pacifist RFCMoldova demanded the Corporal Amaroth strike her about the face. By all accounts the Corporal did not hesitate. They managed two rooms for the team, with Grendel in the stables just below the windows.
Meanwhile, keeping to their characters, Sir Volstagg, Lady Zathlan, and their bodyman, Daynore, arrange FAR more suitable lodging in the upper parts of the city, well away from the poor and the stench of fish and sea. They spent the remainder of that day and much of the following morning seeing the sights and spreading their ample funds around in a display of wealth.
Golden Eagle 12th, 3126
Late morning on the 12th, Sir Volstagg and his entourage ventured to the established meet, which happened to be a dive bar not far from the docks. By all appearances it was FAR below the standard of their dress. Upon entry, however, they were met by a man, impeccably dressed, who announced their full names, titles, Ranger Rank, and even indicated RFC Daynore’s Adept abilites to the assembled neredowells and knuckdraggers. Much to the surprise of the team, though no one made a move to accost them, yet. The man, who would later introduce himself as Vess, offered them both a seat and refreshment.
After a passable meal, Vess got right to the point. He was an agent of Bradshaw, Berhan, & Randall. They represented a party, designated V, who wished to offer Sergeant Volstagg an cessation of all hostilities between V’s organization and all current and future members of Alpha Team (including their employer, Sir Halten and his resources). In return, V promised to offer a sizable monetary donation to the Wolfhaven Refuge for Children, The Grizhnak Olgor & Evoran Que’kasaars Memorial Library, Echer’Naught, and a number of civic works, including construction of more Housing Blocks in Low Town. Unfortunately, the deal also stated that all property, persons, personnel, territory, businesses, and properties currently held by each party would be formally granted them in perpetuity. Meaning, of course, that any prisoners, Captain Hawksclaw, would be forever lost to Alpha Team. Furthermore, this would prevent the Alpha team, or Sir Halten’s office, from protecting or even intervening should V (Velkalar) make attempts on the lives of Colonel Wolfhaven or Sergeant Ravenwood.
It did not bind the Ranger Corps as a whole, but seeing as the Alpha team has had the most success, after the deaths of Bravo team, to locate and thwart Velkalar’s efforts, and the Rangers were too occupied with the war with Darkness and rebuilding Archanaya and Mindoth’s Tower, agreeing to the deal would hobble Alpha team and Sir Halten effectively giving Velakar free reign.
By accounts, Sergeant Volstagg greatly considered signing the deal, but ultimately, he could not stand by and allow evil to flourish. So, he declined. With that, Vess touched the contract to a lamp on the table and let it burn to cinders in his fingers. Then, he thanked them politely for meeting him, closed up his papers, and departed. Before he left, he warned them that the locals “appeared restless” and that they should make a quick escape before coming to violence.
No sooner did he step away from the table, then the thugs about the room attacked. RFC Daynore at the bar, and Sergeant Volstagg and RFC Zathlan at the table sprinted for the door, overturning furniture in their haste with a room full of brigands closing in on them. Both RFC Daynore and Zathlan reached the door without injury, but Sergeant Volstagg was violently struck from behind. Just as they tumbled out the door to the tavern, Vess shouted a final warning, “Sir Volstagg, you should see to your estates.”
With that, the Rangers spilled into the streets and barely managed to lose their pursuers in the narrow alleys of the port district. Just after noon, Grendel rapped on the window of the second story room alerting Corporal Amaroth that the party had returned. Moments later, the three staggered into the room. Immediately, the Rangers began to bind Sergeant Volstagg’s wounds as he gave orders to prepare to leave. He answered few questions and forbade them from using the name of Velkalar while still within the city.
With luck, and a small fortune, Sergeant Volstagg managed to book a night passage on a smuggler’s vessel. And with that, the team departed Centerpor on the 12th of Golden Eagle.
Golden Eagle 17th, 3126
Five days later, they arrived back in Eastport without incident. There, they reacquired their mounts and elected to leave the very same day, fearful of pursuit. Rather than take the planned route home, Sergeant Volstagg elected to follow the river road north toward Eldara, but to continue north from there making for the Gather of the Broken Chains and then to Rhion. The trip would have taken about 15 days, putting them at the gather on the 32nd. Sadly, they never arrived.
Golden Eagle 31st, 3126
A day short of the Gather of the Broken Chains, the team was camped near the Shanais River when their campfire exploded, stunning the team, and plunging them in to supernatural silence. Sergeant Volstagg and Seyrs were on guard, but were caught completely unawares. The rest, save for Corporal Amaroth were in their bedrolls, unarmed.
No sooner had the blase occurred, then Orcs poured from nearby woods and began to attack the party. Grendel took the worst of it, all fighting valiantly, but the tide turned with a monster of an Orc, huge and black skinned, felled, but did not kill, Grendel. It them demanded through sign that Sergeant Volstagg should put down his arms, or the brute would execute Grendel.
Having little choice, Volstagg lowered his weapons. The others, save for Serys followed suit. Serys, with a back to Volstagg, managed to kill one of the orcs before he realized the conditions. No sooner had they surrended, then they were roughly bound, hooded and dragged a distance away. There, things took a strange turn.
Serys was hauled away from the group, un-hooded and beaten by the lead Orc. After a brief exchange, it became obvious that the massive orc blamed Serys for the death of the orcs brother. Serys admitted to “murdering” many, but could not place the orc, or his death kin. At that, the story became more clear. The Orc bandit accused RFC Zathlan of being a “she-*****” who seduced his brother only for Seyrs to murder him.
It was at this point that Seyrs, at least, appeared to understand the situation because, by accounts, he began laughing. He informed the Orc that, A) he had nothing to do with his brother’s death, B) he too had tracked this unit to gain vengeance for his OWN sisters death, C) that he could never exact satisfaction, but the Orc could because there was one person who was involved in his brother’s death still on the team. Serys went on to explain that this person had befriended the orcs brother, then allowed his murder.
Here it should be noted that the dead orc is likely none other than Kura’Kai, wife of Dakota Afliem, explaining the orc’s confusion with RFC Zathlan. Also, he might mistake Ranger Serys for Sergeant Ravenwood.
Serys promised to give up the name of Kura’ betrayer if, and only if, the brother would allow everyone else save for himself, Seyrs, and the betrayer to leave. The Orc refused, but Seyrs challenged his honor and courage. Eventually, it was agreed that the Orc would challenge his brother’s betrayer to battle. If the betrayer won, all the Rangers would go free, unharmed. But, should the Orc win, the Rangers would be given over the warband to be abused and killed at their amusement…
As much as he could, Sergeant Volstagg, now realizing the horror of the situation, agreed. Serys indicated Sergant Volstagg as the betrayer and the orcs pulled the Sergeant to his feet, unbound him, unhooded him, and handed him his weapons. Before attacking, the Orc demanded to know if he was well enough to fight. Sergeant Volstagg affirmed, and attempted to reason with the Orc, but there was nothing he could do but defend himself from the violent assault.
The Orc used nothing but his fists. However, due to his size, skill, and ferocity, he was very nearly a match for the armed and armored Knight. However, Sergeant Vosltagg was victorious and managed to slay Kura’Kai’s elder brother in single combat. True to the orc’s word, the other orcs released the Rangers and knelt to begin preparing their leader for burial…
…when Sir Halten and his forces exploded from the woods on horseback to ride down the brigands. No orc or goblin was spared. While his men slaughtered the goblinesh, Sir Halten spoke with Sergeant Volstagg and the Olaran healers began to treat the wounded Rangers.
Sir Halten had been tracking the Rangers for a while, expecting an attack at some point. Unfortunately, when Sergeant Volstagg deviated from the established route, Sir Halten was unable to reach them in time. Nevertheless, Sir Halten congratulated the Sergeant on his peerless victory and gathered his men to return to Echer’Naught. Now on foot, he suggested that the Rangers head to Sir Volstagg’s nearby estate to rest and recuperate.
Golden Eagle 32nd, 3216
The following morning, Grendel awoke with a headache but no more worse for wear. The Alpha gathered the supplies provided by Sir Halten and proceeded on foot to Sir Volstagg (formerly Sir Wyvern’s) estate. The trip took three days.
Planting Moons 2nd, 3216
Three days later, Newt and Serys in the forward scout position crested a hill to see the former keep utterly in ruins. Suspecting a trap, Alpha Team deployed and cautiously approached the pile of smoldering rubble that was, a few days ago, a functioning Ranger outpost. There were no enemies therein, but nor were there living Rangers. Twenty four Rangers, along with six staff were brutally slaughtered, most crushed to death, a few clearly crushed slowly as in torture.
Of the keep, no two stones remained stacked. The entire keep, main hall, and walls had been toppled like children’s blocks. In the very heard of the devastation a single sky blue flag with a gold V embroidered waved lazily in the late spring breeze.
Tired, defeated, and in pain, Sergeant Vostagg posted guards, and ordered his Ranges to see to burying what was left of the dead while he contact Lady Moonsilver for orders.
Though we lack definitive proof, there is clear evidence that the destruction of the Volstagg Keep was wrought at the hands of Korash, the Destroyer of Armies, one of Velkalar. Also troubling, Seyrs recent admission. Also, the death of Kura’s brother, after those bitter events will likely be source of great anguish for the team, at the very least, Sergeant Volstagg.
Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
Addendum: First Hunt 20th. 3126
Prior to the Silver Shield ceremony on the morning of the 20th, Colonel Alexander Wolfhaven entered Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove by his own request to personally oversee the transfer of former Ranger Dakota Afliem into Ranger custody. At 8 AM, citizen Dakota Afliem was remanded to Rangers to begin her two year prison sentence in Kythros to officially end, First Hunt 19th, 3128 (2019).
Date: 2nd of Planting Moons, year 2126.
To: Ranger Command, Echer’Naught
It is said that things come and go, like the tides of the shore. This last adventure with my team has proven this phrase to be true. For as one threat fades, another comes to fill its place.
We begin on the 19th of First Hunt, 3126. I was assigned my new patrol partner — RFC Lady Nexus Zathlan. I often forget she is a noble for she does not act like any nobility I have encountered (And I assure you, despite my age, I have dealt with enough of them). I find it difficult to open to her, or any of the team for that matter. Not because I distrust them, but because I find it difficult to relate to them.
Volstagg and I — we are from the same cloth, albeit from different sides of the piece. He is an Olaran noble and I a sworn to a noble house. Through this, I feel, we have bonded. And for this bond I am most grateful. I digress..
The scuttle butt around town suggest there is a power struggle amongst the bakers guilds. Shinkle’s Bakery is growing due to a few things — one, Eric’s influence. He is seen as a hero among the people and I am sure he has crafted a few deals to help the business grow. In fact, it seems a second location has opened for them to focus strictly on catering.
All in all, it seems there is a bid for power as to who the top dog is within the city as far as baked goods go. I’d like to see the Shinkle’s take it.
We also have our fair share of foreign traders coming in. While I understand the reasons for this (The victory in the war, the festival and new year), I do not like it. This means that more drugs, likely, will come through. Likewise the odds of infiltration have increased. But there is little I can do when it comes to the ways of economic boom and trade traffic.
Outside of that report, the day went fairly smoothly. The evening, on the other hand, was a bit more frantic. Turns out, when Sgt. Volstagg got off his post and made it back to his office, a letter was waiting for him. We all had to muster at the Regional HQ by 8 in the morning in full dress regalia.
Problem: Most of the team lacked this sort of attire. I suggest that we requisition some since it is required that the Rangers have access to such uniforms for just this occasion… So, we stayed up late fitting the team and then roused ourselves to prepare at 6am with an arrival time of 7am.
Of course, 9am was the time we officially began. Many of the Rangers standing around in the parade field were as confused as the team was. We had no idea of the occasion and, for me, it didn’t really matter much. I assumed it as some affair with an important figure. Turns out, I was wrong entirely.
Sir Halten and Colonel Wolfhaven departed from a stair case. A crowd had, in fact, been drawn (probably because there were a few teams of Rangers standing around in full dress). A report was there as well.. But the event was to honor the contributions of the Rangers who had helped make the cure for the Elven Plague possible (which explains why we were there).
We were given the Silver Shield. I’m not sure of the important of the medal other than to show it off to people who don’t care. I’m not a noble, and the city doesn’t consider me important in the grand scheme of things. Once we had our newly minted medals, we were dismissed to enjoy a brief, though nice, lunch. I was tasked to stay next to Grendel to help with any potential flops he might have when encountering the people of relevance here. The good news is they stayed away. The only person I had to deal with was the reporter.
Like I said — men like me don’t get attention of the people of importance. Still, I got out of patrol and had a decent meal. Can’t go wrong with that. It looks like RFC Zathlan and Sgt. Volstagg had…a competition? I am not sure if that’s really accurate, but they compared to see who could get the most invitations to events or something. I don’t **** know…but it was certainly unique.
On the 21st of First Hunt, the day goes by as normal. I did have my meeting with the Sergeant. He wanted to know where I stood and what I wanted. I told him. I kept it honest with him. While I am officially sworn to House Wolfhaven, I find myself sworn to Gunther because he is my best friend. I would stand by his side any day.
22nd of First Hunt we have a morning meeting with Sgt. Volstagg. I believe this to be our first outside of getting our patrols. We are tasked with a new mission: We are off to investigate some sort of lead in Center Point. The problem with this location is that it falls under the Malakar Dominion. Not the best place to be, but where we are called to.
It seems Volstagg will be taking Daynor and Zathlan with him to a meeting, because they fit a part. We will be stationed at a separate logging, awaiting orders if he needs backup. Beyond that, we do not get much in the way of details.
Also of note, I am officially promoted to Corporal and thus second-in-command of the unit. I am given direct charge of Grendal, Zathlan, and when he is able to join us, The Paladin: Sebastian. We comprise the front rank or the forward operators when the battle hits.
In either case we make ourselves ready to leave the next day.
23rd of First Hunt, 3126 — we depart from Echer’Naught.
30th of First Hunt — We enter Eldara. Our reputation as bringers of the cure precede us and we find our journey through to be relatively easy.
31st of First Hunt — we charter a boat. The journey takes us 7 days.
5th of Golden Eagle, 3126 — we arrive in at East Port. The Ranger Outpost here is extremely lax in their duties, and do not have the means for hospitable arrangements. We bunk out in the staples and scrounge for our own meals to avoid the quality of food they have. I will admit, I’ve been there before, but **** if I’m not going to look at alternatives before going back.
7th of First Hunt — We leave for Center Port
11th of First Hunt, we arrive in the Malakar Dominion; Center Port.
Once onto the docks we immediately get a shakedown by some gang. Unfortunately, we can’t just avoid this and through careful negotiation, Sgt. Volstagg is able to get us pass without incident.
From here we enter the crowds of the thriving city to try and find a suitable place for us to stay. In the efforts of the time, Sgt. Volstagg becomes separated from us and is attacked by a band of thugs. Apparently they expected him to go down from the first blow because when he turned, according to his verbal report, they ran scared.
I had Zathlan get picked up by Grendel to see if we could locate him. I was not fond to do this as it drew attention to us, but it would make it easier to relink with Volstagg. I would prefer to not leave him isolated, even if just a moment..
Volstagg hands me the coin once he returns and we book our rooms. Two inside on the second floor, and Grendel in the stables. I told Grendel to stay within sight of the windows at all times and, should he need us, to knock.
From there, Volstagg took Zathlan and Daynor to attend to the meeting. Turns out, he waited a day before going to maintain appearances.
Speaking of appearances, I elected to go the route that we were mercenaries. I certainly looked it. Serys and Newt — scouts. Grendel the grunt. I was struggling to place Moldova, figuring maybe the paper pusher for us, when she departed for a moment. She came back a bit disheveled in appearance and told me to hit her in the cheek. I asked if she wanted an elbow or a fist. Once she answered (she picked fist) I immediately swung and connected hard.
I think she was a bit surprised that I didn’t hesitate. I figured it would be easier if I was swift to her request so the anticipation didn’t make it worse. I knew what she was doing and, to be honest, I was impressed by her willingness to do it.
12th of Golden Eagle, 3126 — We were stacked inside, awaiting the command, when Grendel knocked on the window. When I answered, I saw them coming. Volstagg was wounded and Zathlan and Daynor looked roughed up. I immediately ordered the team out into the hallway, weapons at the ready in case they be followed. Volstagg told us to be ready to move asap, to which I informed him we already were.
That night we slipped onto a boat and headed to East Port. During our journey we learned the nature of this meeting. It was a deal, via proxy, by Lord Velkalar. He was offering to protect the Alpha Team from his wrath if we just stood by while he enacted his revenge on whomever he desired. A difficult position, some would say, and I am pleased by Sgt. Volstagg’s commitment to our purpose: To Protect Life and the safety of others. I am sure it was not easy for him to put our lives on the line like that, knowing you could have kept the team alive. We all knew what we signed up for though.
On the 17th of Golden Eagle we arrive and East Port and immediately start our way back. Expecting our route to be trapped, Rhion became our destination because it was so far off the beaten path. It would take us 15 days to get to Rhion.
On day 14, which should be the 31st of Golden Eagle, we are attacked. Thankfully, due to my training, I don’t have to take my armor off. The others, however, are not so fortunate. The fire burst like a bomb, dousing us in flame. Then the silence came — a magical shroud that removed any sound.
Within seconds after, we were surrounded by Orcs. Serys dropped one, but the rest of us were forced to surrender when they held an unconscious Grendel hostage. The Orcs quickly bound us and bagged us. I tried to keep stalk of where we went, but it was difficult.
The next thing I know is Serys and some Orc are talking in Olaran. Seems this orc feels someone on this team killed his brother? I am honestly not sure. What I do know, however, is that Serys has some attachment. Apparently we killed his sister? I’m not too sure about that. I trust the elf, but I question his motivations….
In either case, somehow, Serys got the Leader of the Goblinesh to agree to a duel — our finest vs him. We win, we go free. We lose? We all probably die horrible deaths. But hey, least this way we had a chance. Serys picked Volstagg. The battle was intense from what I could hear — lots of shouting and weapons biting.
In the end, however, Volstagg prevailed. When I was unbound and my sight returned, I took notice of the downed leader and it all fit into place: That Orc was the brother of Kura’kai. I hadn’t put much thought into him as of late, but I am constantly reminded of my companions by their names on the blade of my Olaran Sword.
The Goblinesh are tending to their fallen leader when I hear the thunder and, before I could shout for it to stop, the knights burst from the foliage and began to cut down the tribe. Not a single one remained. I went to kneel next to Kura’kai’s fallen brother. I said my peace to him, hoping my words brought him solace.
On the 32nd, Grendel woke and we started our journey. We were going east to Volstagg’s estate that he had purchased. Originally, he turned it over to the Rangers so they had an outpost of sorts here, I guess. When we arrived, things did not look promising.
3 days later, we crest a hill and see the column of smoke. Newt and Serys are sent to investigate. We are eventually summoned forward and see the destruction. Every wall is demolished. There are no walks. There are no treas.
So this is the price we pay for denying him Peace — they will destroy the things we love.
I fear for the Wayferer’s Rest, and Shinkle’s bakery. They are close to us, friends even. Shinkle has a deal with myself and Volstagg, and Sokolov has extended The Wayfarer’s rest’s hours to accommodate for the Rangers — that place is our home and time to bond.
These things, I am afraid, will soon be attacked so that we might lose our enjoyment and it will hurt not just the team, but those we care about. I do not know how, but we must stop Velkalar…
RFC Audric Amaroth, Sworn to House Wolfhaven, Second-In-Command for Echer’Naught Alpha Team.
As the sun sets, and the team continues to pick through the rubble of what was his estate, Völkstagg finds himself momentarily alone. He pauses, and sits down on an overturned stone to think:
“Sometimes the hardest demons we face, are within ourselves.”
Your war was over.
With the battles won, and banners furled, you rode off to live out whatever useful years you had left in anonymity. You were just another rusty tin soldier, amongst all the other broken and discarded toys.
Before that, You wanted to die.
To break yourself on the lances of the Kal, and to feel the dirt as it swallowed you up. You wanted to end your war, on your own terms. You bloody fool. Everyone around you suffered, yet you lived. You regretted everything, and then it was over.
Your war ended.
In those days you were a monster.
Don’t you remember?
In those days it would have been you, riding amongst those Goblinesh. You would have enjoyed yourself. Not because you enjoyed the thought of killing. No. You enjoyed the thought of being killed.
You were either too proud, or too much the coward to do it yourself, so you tried to make someone else do it for you.
It wasn’t your anger that drove you to fight. It was your grief. Your grief, that you wore like a shroud against the possibility of caring for something or someone besides your own ego.
You tried that once.
But what is this? This thing, that you cannot explain? A feeling.
Is it…? Could it be?
I am afraid so. Compassion, care, friendship, joy… something else?
You bloody fool.
And you’ve just killed them. A sacrifice to your own bloody hubris.
You see what’s coming, don’t you?
Your new war.
That’s right, Völkstagg.
You did it. Congratulations.
But what else could you have done? Would you leave Samira and her child to die? The other Rangers, and their families to fight and suffer in your place, while your team sat impotent. No, I think not.
Well, you could have.
Do you still want to die?
What about them?
They knew what they were signing up for, didn’t they?
Audric called you his friend. It’s nice to have friends again, Isn’t it? I don’t think that you’re a very good friend. You openly mocked Gracelynn’s faith. She might have forgiven you, but she cannot forget your words. Grendel trusts you, yet you do not even know how to effectively communicate with him… You’ve patronized Newt. Wow. You’re on a roll.
Also, why did you lead Nexus and Daynor into an ambush? Was it worth their risk, just so you could start a new war. The more things add up, the worse it looks for you.
I thought you cared.
What will you do now?
Isn’t it a little strange? Your meteoric rise to power within the Rangers, that is? How fast it all happened. Then, as soon as you were the team’s later, you get called to this "meeting ". Why you? Someone is behind it. Either within the Rangers, or closely tied to them. They thought you would sign it.
“I almost did.”
Almost… Now what have you got to show for it? Oh wait, that’s right.
Now that you have it, what will you do? If things go poorly, which they most assuredly will, you will lose the support of the Sheriff. You know that. Wolfhaven can’t help you. Your team isn’t under his leadership. You saw to that.
You haven’t answered the question.
What will you do now? Your estate is gone. You thought you had feathered yourself a safe little nest. An out-of-the-way Ranger outpost, which might serve your team in times of trouble. Gone.
What’s next, Günther?
“I will lead.”
Oh, will you? Just like you lead your friends into a trap? Just like you lead all of your sworn, and the replacements after them to die? How long do you intend to “lead” this team.
“Until I die, or am dismissed. Or until they don’t need me.”
Need you? Hmm…
What of Serus? He’s a smart one.
What was all that business about his sister? Did you have anything to do with that?
“I don’t know…”
Typical. You don’t really know anything, do you? Being stupid is not a curse. But being just smart enough to know that you’re not smart enough. Now that’s a real curse.
That is, if you’re being honest. Perhaps if you were just a little more intelligent, you could put some of these pieces together.
Ironic, that you would have run across his brother. That one hurt. Of course, if you had acted to prevent Kura’s death (which you could have), it never would have come to that. You aren’t very good at that. Your whole life, everything you’ve ever touched has wilted. Everyone close to you has hurt…
You couldn’t even save her.
Say it. Say her name.
“Don’t you ever speak her name.”
Fine. Play it whatever way you want. Continue to ignore it, if you must. It seems to have served you sooo well thus far.
The nightmares still seem so real.
Can anyone help now?
The sheriff will support you, so long as you’re doing well. Wolfhaven cannot.
The Ascended… ha.
Aha! So you do admit it. I thought you didn’t need friends. I thought you avoided getting close to anyone else. Now, all of a sudden, your heart decides to beat again.
Tell me you aren’t going to weep. I thought you had given up on that as well. For a time, you would have considered that a show of weakness.
You stink of fear…
Are you afraid, Völkstagg?
Good. You should be. But at least you can admit it. Anyone who says they aren’t afraid of something is lying. You aren’t a liar. Are you?
So, old man. You intend to lead this team, do you? You will need to be strong for what comes next. The storm is about to crash over you and your friends, and if you aren’t careful, you’re all going to drown.
You can’t save them all Völkstagg.
“I know. I Will do all I can for them, and because of them. All of them. When I came here, it was because I had no place left to go. That was the same reason that I went north with the Wolves. It was a rocky start, with the Rangers. But now, I feel that I have purpose again. They’ve given me a reason to continue. They give me hope.”
Then why aren’t you laughing, Völkstagg? All this is funny, in a cosmic way. You know that, don’t you? With everything that’s going on, you’re sitting up here on a rock weeping, and talking to yourself like a lunatic…
“Heh… that is pretty funny.”
You should probably get up and do something.
…And compose yourself. You look like a right weak ******* in your current condition. Have some decorum man. You aren’t a helpless child. You’re a bloody Knight, with a job to do, and a team to see to. Act like it.
By the way, You might want to eat something. It’s going to be a long road back to Echer?aught.
19th of First Hunt
We get new patrols and partners. I get Amaroth. I don’t know how this will
work out honestly.
From what I understand, there is a power struggle amongst bakers. To me I
feel it is nothing unusual but here I guess it is. Nothing else really
happened though. Maybe this is a sign that I need to get to know Audric
Later I find we are to meet and be dressed in full regalia, finally
something I find comfort in wearing, for tomorrow morning.
We prepare dreadfully early in the morning and head out. We get there
painfully early and wait for what seems like an eternity. Finally it
begins. What it is, I have no idea at this point. Then come to find out we
are being rewarded for helping with the elven cute. We are given a silver
shield which clashes with everything I own…
Once over we got to go to a swarrey of sorts. I kept getting these things
that i found out later by the kind Wolfhaven are called dance cards and
they are considered a good thing. So, I challenged Gunther to see who could
get the most just to have a little fun. We tied in the end, which was
perfectly fine. I had planned to try to attend atleast some of them and
maybe take Gunther with me. I wish to learn about how to be an effective
Olaren noble. Maybe that shall be my goal.
On the 21st
Gunther wanted to talk to each of the members of the team. I kept it brief
since I felt he had better things to do than talk to a silly Galean girl.
He asked my goals and I simply said to be alive. I do not really have goals
since i have never really thought about it, but maybe I should. I told him
to build the team we need to be honest and open, which coming from me
sounds rediculous because I myself am not very open. By the end of it
Gunther game me his dance card stating it’s for a favor owed, declaring me
the winner. I still owe him dinner. Dang by the end of all of this I will
owe Gunther a while lot of things. But, I do want him to know I Wil follow
where ever he leads because he has proven to be capable.
22nd of First Hunt
We have orders. We are going to Center Port in the Malakar Dominion. I am
told to escort Gunther and Daynor because we fit a part. Also I found out
what a floater is, which I will explain later.
The 23rd we are off.
We arrive in Eldara on the 30th.
We now are known as the ones whom helped create the cute, which has made
things easy for us… for now.
The 31st we have a boat and we head out.
The 5th of Golden Eagle we arrive in East Port. Most of us have to bunk in
a horses staple, except Gunther, Daynor, and myself. It was very nice where
we had stayed.
In the 7th we leave for Center Port.
By the 11th we arrive.
We get shaken down. I swear if people keep touching me without my
permission they will pull back a freaking nub! Just being honest. Gunther
apparently does something right though because we are allowed to enter.
We get through the crowds and we seem to be doing well… Then we turn to
find we have lost Gunther. I was then leftelefties to help find him and it
worked. No offense to Grendel but I am so done with the touching today.
Gunther, Daynor, and myself went to stay else where for appearances and
went to the meeting the next day.
The next day, the 12th, we go to the meeting. I will not speak of what
happened for it is not my place. I will say though, it was an ambush. We
ran. I only ran because Gunther told me to. Other wise I would have stood
my ground. We ran as fast as we could to the rest of the team. We then
waited til night fall and we left for the docks. Some how we almost
immediately got transportation back to East Port.
On the 17th we arrived.
We make an escape plan and decided to go to Rhion. So we leave.
We are almost there when we where attracted by orcs. We took a defensive
stance except Serys who fired. We where bound and blinded. I don’t know
exactly happened. I know I got yanked around… again with the touching.
Then I heard fighting which lasted a while. When I could finally see again
there was a dead orc and a victorious Gunther, whom didn’t seem happy about
it. Hm, strange.
I looked around to see the rest of the orcs tending to their fallen
brother. Suddenly Sir Halten and his men rode through and slaughtered the
orcs. I respect the Halten’s but this was totally uncalled for. They were
morning their dead and not bothering us when Halten came up. That was wrong
on Halten’ s part. I maybe a noble but **** it I atleast have a heart. I
wouldn’t have done such a heartless and monstrous thing! I need to move
forward before this causes me to lash out. Just being honest.
Grendel awakens because sometime he went down. Then we headed out and
decided on going to Gunther’s estate.
We get there 3 days later, or what used to be it. It now looks like someone
say on it. I will pick up here later.
Lady Nexus Zathlan House of Lyonn.
Campaign Report 86
Korash, Army Slayer
Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
As relayed from Echer’Naught Alpha team under command of Sergeant Gunther Volstagg (via RFC Daynore)
Edited by Ranger Malcom, Scribe
Twenty Seventh Day of Planting Moons, Year 3126 Under the Light
Planting Moons 2nd, 3126
After discovering the destruction of the Volstagg Estate (formerly Wyvern), Alpha Team rangers fortified and encamped in the ruins while tending to the bodies of the fallen Rangers.
Planting Moons 3rd, 3126
Farspeaker Eris Moonsilver, upon informing Sir Eric Halten, Sheriff and Royal Warden, was informed to relay orders for the Alpha Team to hold position and await reinforcements. The Royal Warden was, at the time of the communication, still returning form his, self proclaimed, victory over the goblinesh marauders assaulting Rangers along the roads to Rhion. With Ranger assistance, Royal Sheriff Halten summoned reinforcements form local Olaran Wardens and dispatched his squire, and nephew, Lt. Halten along with a team of five Halten Sworn and ten wardens to reinforce Alpha Team.
Meanwhile, RFC Daynore reported that Alpha Team was engaged in fortifying their position, training, and resting from their recent ordeals. Notably, Sergeant Volstagg, having acquired an Enhanced Arcfre Handcaster from Luc Gendarre, Sworn of House Wolfhaven and Captain of the Wolf Guard, furthered his training in the art of Shooting. RFC Daynore also reported constructing a large “limberjack” for RFC Moldova, ostensibly for future animation.
Planting Moons 5th, 3126
Three days after receiving orders to hold until reinforced, the column of mounted Olarans arrived at the ruins of Volstagg Estate under command of squire Lt. Halten. Sheriff Halten’s orders were kept confidential until after the team was dispatched, but we have since learned that his mission was to hunt down Korash, the Slayer of Armies, one of Velkalar’s known associates and the suspected agents responsible for the utter annihilation of the Ranger outpost at Volstagg’s Estate. The column departed within hours heading for Stahlheim and the Bridge of the River Shanais.
Ranger Seyrs had located Korash’s tracks heading west and south. With the column mounted, Ranger Newt began following the giant’s prints in the direction of the river. Grendel, however, remained at Volstagg’s estate with Ranger scouts who accompanied the Olarans. They assessed the damage, recorded the names of the dead and, with Grendel, returned to Echer’Naught.
Planting Moons 7th, 3126
Two days later, the column reached the bridge crossing between the Fae nation of Landra’Feya and the dwarven kingdom of Stahlheim. There, Ranger Seyrs, with RFC’s Daynore and Zathlan approached the elven guards seeking to learn if Korash had used the bridge. The guards indicated no, but they had heard rumors that a “giant” encountered elven scouts near the Shanais lake, just south of the bridge.
Planting Moons 10th, 3126
Following this information, the column crossed the river and headed south west to the dwarven clanhome of Crag. There, they made contact with the local Ranger HQ three days later and received scout reports of the incident with Korash. The Rangers confirmed that dwarven guards along the border spoke with their elven counterparts confirming the rumors that Korash has forced his way through the elven lands heading for, it appeared, the Malakar Dominion by way of the north bank of the Shanais Lake.
The majority of the team, under Corporal Amaroth stayed with the Rangers. Sergeant Volstagg, and RFC Zathlan, took a room in the inn rented by Lt. Halten and his men. By all accounts, the Sergeant and the Ranger First Class shared accommodations.
Planting Moons 11th, 3126
By morning, the column was prepared to depart again, this time south into Elven lands. The trip took less than a day, with the Alpha Team and their Olaran allies finding an elven fishing village on the north bank of the lake. There, elven scouts and rangers were recovering and treating their wounded after attempting to intercept Korash as he strode through their lands. From the elves, the team learned that the Ogre had brushed them aside and strode into the lake, heading, as was believed, into Dominion territory.
On a positive note, he did not appear to be heading toward a city or fortification. If the Rangers could close his lead, they might intercept him before Dominion troops were even aware of their presence and mission.
With this information, and after consulting Corporal Amaroth, due to his knowledge of mercenary companies, and RFC Daynore, due to his local knowledge of the Dominion, Sergeant Volstagg and Lt. Halten elected to enter the Dominion via the Crag/Malak road posing as mercenaries. The column turned around again, riding north to just outside of Crag where they camped for the night. RFCs Daynore and Moldova forged documents while Sergeant Volstagg and Corporal Amaroth procured more suitable arms and armor for the Olaran wardens.
Planting Moons 12th, 3126
By dawn, the column, now posing as a mercenary company, and leaving their gear with the Rangers of Crag, rode out for the Dominion. They passed into the country later that day, with little trouble other than standard bribery and “floaters” being found in Serys’ gear. After that, they turned south and began tracking Korash.
Planting Moons 13th, 3216
Dawn the following day, they found him, not far west of the Shanais lake. Korash was sleeping in a small field, when Newt very nearly ran into him. She managed to stop the column before they gave away their position, but in their attempt to retreat, RFC Moldova’s mount caused a collision which woke the giant. As Korash was rousing from his slumber, Lt. Halten ordered Sergeant Vosltagg to send his assassin forward.
Serys took his cue, closed on the ogre even as he woke and put an explosive arrow under the beast’s helm. The shot was true, and obviously wounded Korash, but not hardly enough. As Lt. Halten and Sergeant Volstagg tried to array their men, Korash stood, took up his tower shield and mace and the smashed Serys nearly to pieces before charging into the still scrambling Olarans, scattering Rangers and Olarans like, trampling two of the wardens.
From there, the fight turned ugly for Alpha Team and the Olarans. They were too close and Korash moved surprisingly quickly. Were it not for Moldova stunning Korash with her magic, all might have been lost. With that slight distraction, Lt. Halten gave the order to “scatter” as he and Sergeant Volstagg engaged the beast in an attempt to distract and slow him.
Rangers and Olarans obeyed, each trying desperately to get clear of Korash’s mighty reach. Even so, the ogre pursued them, charging through their lines and trampling them with ease. In a last ditch effort to save his men, Lt. Halten gave the order to withdraw and charged into Korash’s legs, managing to place his blade in the gaps behind the ogres knee armor. The wound was not mortal, but it did injure and slow Korash. It also managed to change the ogres focus from smashing RFC Zathlan to Lt. Halten who hung from the back of the giant’s knee like a parasite.
Torn, Sergeant Volstagg obeyed his final order and ran to fetch Serys while Sir Halten was swatted aside, losing his sword arm in the offing. His last moment, as purported by Sergeant Volstagg and the Olarans was Lt. Halten, lying on his back, bleeding from his missing sword arm, screaming at Korash as the ogre crushed him flat under food.
With that, the battle was over. Sergeant Volstagg managed to reach some horses and the Olarans pulled Serys onto a saddle. Everyone rode out, but in the confusion, the group got separated. Most of the team managed to find each other over the course of the morning using RFC Daynore’s telepathy, but Sergeant Vosltagg was unreachable and presumed lost.
Corporal Amaroth was just about to order a search, when Sergeant Volstagg arrived, fully healed, his armor mended, but far more bitter and angry than even previously. From what little has been said, he was “visited”, but little more is known at this time.
Five Olaran Wardens, along with Lt. Halten were killed. The five Sworn and five of the Wardens survived. No Rangers were killed, though Serys was badly wounded.
Planting Moons 15th, 3126
The trip back was slower, and the team crossed the Malakar border early on the 15th and arrived back at Crag that evening. They received accommodations, healing, and their returned gear from the Rangers. Sir Halten’s men held a soldier’s Last Call at the Ranger outpost. All Rangers attended.
Sheriff Halten was informed of the death by the 14th, and by that same evening, vigils and honors were being held at his Estate in the city. The reputation of his House has been greatly improved by the death of the young squire heroically wounded an unkillable monster. Politically, it has played well for the Sheriff, though his personal feelings he keeps to himself.
Planting Moons 17th, 3126
Alpha Team and the Olarans remained in Crag as guest of the local Rangers for two days to heal and rest. On the 17th, they departed for Echer’Naught again, taking the most direct route through Eldara. The trip took nine days and occurred without incident.
Planting Moons 26th, 3126
After a month in the field, Alpha Team returned, tired and discouraged. They first reported to the Regional Headquarters, however, Colonel Wolfhaven was away at Camp Wolfhaven overseeing matters of the War in the North. After reporting to the duty officer, the Alpha Team made their way to Sir Halten’s office at his estate.
The exact transcript is unavailable, but we are aware that he is pleased with the Ranger’s performance as they were invited to his family’s keep to participate in the official funeral rights for his squire. No sooner had Alpha Team left his offer when Corporal Amaroth was dispatched to pull a month’s worth of rations. Nothing Sir Halten had said, to this point, warranted such an extended mission. We are still seeking word if Alpha Team is to be temporarily stationed elsewhere. Though, given Sergeant Volstagg’s state of mind, and the renewed conflict with Velkalar, it may be assumed that he is beginning to act irrationally.
I will send a request to Sir Halten’s office for a full mental evaluation of the team.
Alpha Team departed the city that eve and camped just north.
Planting Moons 27th, 3126
Sir Halten’s office alerted our office that he, and the Alpha Team, would be departing the city for an extended stay. They would provide security for himself and his family during the funeral of his nephew. Rangers at the gates confirmed that Sir Halten met with the Alpha Team north of town, then returned for about and hour, before rejoining the Alpha Team at the dwarven (east) gate around 10 AM. The team departed Echer’Naught again after remaining one day, and not even within the walls.
Three Notes. First, Sir Halten made an official request for RFC Zathlan’s full file. We are aware he has been in contact with her House in Galea. Though not officially under the charter of the Rangers, rumors have spread about a potential liaison between Sergeant Volstagg and RFC Zathlan. It can be surmised that Sir Halten is laying the ground work for a petition on Sir Vosltagg’s behalf. Second, though not public knowledge, we are now aware that RFC Moldova’s brother, who serves in the City Watch, has no reported to work for several days, nor has this squad. Captain Vasser has declined to request Ranger assistance. Third, around Planting Moons 5th, while Alpha Team was preparing for their hunt of Korash, rumors spread that former Ranger Evoran Que’kasaar’s tree had been attacked. I can, sadly, confirm that unknown assailants using arcfire have burned the tree and the grove. High Druidess Treesinger has reportedly left Echer’Naught, presumably to tend to the loss of Evoran’s Tree. Though little evidence exists, it is believed that Velkalar’s agents are responsible.
In response to the attack on Volstagg’s estate, Evoran’s tree, and the potential kidnapping of RFC Moldova’s brother, the Rangers in the city are on high alert. We are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all former members of Alpha Team, and securing anyone close to those Rangers. Extra guards have been placed at their homes and Kythros has also been alerted to be watchful of an attack on former Rangers Ironblood, Zulcrum, and Afliem.
Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
Date: 27th of Planting Moons, the year 3126
To: Ranger Command, Echer’Naught
To resume from my last report, we were at the estate of one Sir Gunther Volstagg, Sergeant of the Rangers of Echer’Naught and commander of the renowned Alpha team (Let it be known that not all renown for the team is good). We had gone out our day burying the dead, burning them in true Olaran fashion. 24 Rangers dead and 6 support staff members. Some looked like they were killed in a very deliberate and slow way — judging by the condition of the bodies I would say they were stepped on. This occurred on the 2nd.
We were issued orders to wait for reinforcements on the 3rd, which was speculated to take about two days. I took the time, then, to give a speech that was given to me. I am now the XO of the unit and, as such, I am not there to be friends. I am there to help them survive, even if it means dying for them. If we are able to be friends then excellent, but if they hate me for the way I operate then so be it. My ultimate goal is for them to survive to the next day.
With those words out there, I began to cross train the team (at the suggestion of Sgt. Volstagg). We need to make sure that we have our specialties, but that we are versed in other techniques as well. We had 2 days to build ourselves and, truth be told, I mainly did the training to keep the team on their toes. We were attacked once. What’s to say we wouldn’t be again.
The 5th of Planting Moons our scout, Serys, reports a column of riders fast approaching. The banner identifies them as men belonging to Sir Halten. Volstagg went out to great our commander. When he was on the return I noticed that he was not, in fact, with the Halten I expected. Instead we were welcoming the younger of the two — Lieutenant Halten, the squire to The Royal Warden.
We were given orders to see to his men and make them welcome — 5 sworn and 10 men-at-arms. An easy enough task I saw to personally. We waited for the meeting to end between Lt. Halten and Volstagg, sitting idly in an effort to try and rest up. It wasn’t hard to figure we would be on the move — the Lt. had brought an excess in horses.
Sure enough, the new orders were given — We would be going after the monster responsible for the destruction of this keep: Korosh The Killer of Armies.
To be honest, I thought the idea daft. We are a contingent of Rangers (albeit skilled ones) with just over a dozen men. That put our total fighting capacity at around 20. 20 men do not make an army and there is a reason Korosh has the reputation. Besides, evidence, literal evidence were standing in, indicates he can take out 24 Rangers from a fortified position. Why in the name of the Ascended someone thought we could do better was beyond me. But, orders are orders. I took them and we set off.
We went off towards Stalhiem, heading towards the Bridge Crossing. It took us two days but, by the 7th, we arrived at the stone construction. On our side there were Elves, lightly armored, guarding the massive highway of traffic. On the other, of course, the stout Dwarves. We sent Serys forward to talk to the guards. I wasn’t privy to the exact words, but given the looks and gestures — I can only imagine it sounded bad.
Still, through it all, we got a lead: Off to the south there was talk of a massive giant causing some problems. That sounded as good as any. So, off we rode with a new destination: The Dwarven Kingdom of Stalheim. It was an easy 3 days ride and by the 10th of Planting Moons we had arrived in Crag.
This was a city that one could easily say was a testament to Dwarven culture, engineering, and art. Homes and buildings carved into the mountain side, trade booming. Turns out, this city is pretty important when it comes to the White Silver trade. That explains the lavish and pristine look — money goes a long way and White Silver isn’t cheap.
We came here to find out some intel from the Ranger outpost. Turns out, Lord Wolfhaven has a “Brother” in a dwarf that is stationed here. This meant, at least to me, we would have a bit of success when it comes to finding out what we need. It took me about an hour to find the outpost, but we got there.
Sure enough, Volstagg was able to get the reports of an altercation that occurred on the north side of Lake Shaintar. Granted, they were second hand reports, but it was something to go on. It was said that the giant was chased into the lake and he was heading towards Malakar. Sounds like our target alright..
Volstagg was, of course, afforded some finer amenities due to his relationship with Halten. RFC Zathlan went with him to his lodgings. Beyond that, I do not know anymore. That left the rest of us, Daynore, Moldova, myself, Newt, and Serys to lodge at the Ranger Outpost. I lodged us accordingly and, on the 11th, by the time Volstagg arrived, the team was already waiting to ride out.
An observational note at this point — Moldova and Zathlan require the most help when it comes to riding. I would like to request that they be given studies in riding. We are often mounted and, while I do not mind assisting them, should the worst befall us I would like them to be a bit more capable in the saddle for their sakes.
By noon on the 11th of Planting Moons we had arrived to the elven village on the shore of Lake Shaintar. Sure enough, the reports are confirmed and they identify Korosh. They also say that everything they hit him with, including magic, didn’t seem to phase him. That only further worried me.
We also confirm that where he crossed at was empty land — hundreds of miles between him and a city. For an Ogre, though, that was a few days walk. Especially one his size..
Lt. Halten had already informed myself and RFC Daynore that our individual talents would be required to get into The Malakar Dominion. Daynore because he is from that region, and mine because I am a former mercenary and can help us look the part. At this point, I had to inform Volstagg of the problem: Olarans like this do not make good mercenaries. At least in appearances. They are too organized, too “pretty” if that makes any sense. Mercenaries do rough work and the coin is what keeps us. We maintain our gear, sure, but nothing to the polished extremes. And honestly, while we can fight in unison, we are a bit lazy when it comes to our journeys. We aren’t a military — just a bunch of people hired to do a job.
So, we had to ride back to Crag. I was beset with the task, per Lt. Halten, to re-equip his men with the proper gear. I elected to take Sgt. Volstagg with me as I knew he had a love of shopping. Thanks to his guidance and experience, we were able to procure the proper gear for the Olarans (and a paper trail for the Lieutenant).
Moldova and Daynore were tasked, upon our return, with forging our papers to get us into Malakar. I gotta hand it to them — they managed to stay up through the night and get it done. I’m not one for being able to tell a forgery, but it looked solid to me.
12th of Planting Moons — We arrive at the border to The Malakar Dominion. As expected, we get stopped and searched. I am fairly certain I was groped. Then again, wouldn’t be the first time. Either way, aside from some floaters confiscated from Serys’ person, we get through and start our ride again. Given we are behind schedule, we ride into the night, fighting the lack of sleep to try and close the gap.
On the dawn of the 13th, Planting Moons, 3126, Newt is almost killed by horses. She cut off the column in a panic and, in hushed whispers says she found him and points to a rock in the middle of a field. Volstagg and the Lieutenant didn’t believe her until the rock moved a little. We tried to quietly back the 20 strong force up, but unfortunately there was a hang up. Moldova’s horse didn’t care to cooperate with us that time. So, with hushed whispers, we dismounted and stalked our way to the target: Korosh, The Slayer of Armies.
We all took up our positions and Serys was sent forward to start the assault. He rose up, took careful aim, and fired an arrow into the helmet of the sleeping giant. A loud womph was heard as the arrow detonated within his helmet, causing the Ogre to bellow out. He then rose to his feet, smoke billowing from beneath the full-plate helmet. He then snatched up his shield (which explains the wagon-sized package we thought he was carrying) and began.
First, allow me to explain how terrifying Korosh is in person. 20 feet tall. That is about the height of four Olaran’s stacked from foot to shoulder. Now, consider how wide an Ogre often is. Now decorate this behemoth in Olaran Full Plate and give him a warhammer and shield.
Watching this behemoth stand and tower of Serys was terrifying. Then, with a fell sweep, Serys was flattened by the warhammer. Somehow, by some miracle, he survived. I did not think he survived the trampling though (Serys seems rather durable despite being an elf). Korosh rushed us, trampling anything beneath his feet. Volstagg and I, being the center, had no choice but to try and stop his charge. Of course, against such a beast, we were unsuccessful. Both of us were thrown back by his might.
It was sheer devastation. The men-at-arms and sworn were scattered, and our weapons were ineffective. Nothing we hit him with seemed to draw blood. ****, I don’t even know if Serys hurt him with his explosive arrow. So, given how grim the situation was turning, we were ordered into a withdraw. There was no tactical retreat — this was an all out withdraw. We were not going to survive this.
Fortune smiled on me, however, as RFC Moldova was able to stun the beast with her magic. It allowed a few of us to get up and flee. I hated to do so, hated to leave my comrade in arms behind, but I had my orders. And, in the end, someone would have to report this event.
By the time it was over, I had manged to round up some of the horses with a few of Halten’s men. One by one they were collected and either rode off, or were carried off on our horses. In our hasty retreat, I was separated from the group. Thanks to the gifts of RFC Daynore, however, I was able to rejoin the unit. More and more I find myself appreciating the abilities of an adept on the team. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, we were unable to contact Sgt. Volstagg (who was also MIA). Even more troubling, Eris was unable to locate him.
I did not inquire as to what he meant by it, but when asked about why we were unable to reach him, the Sergeant merely said “someone did”. Ominous in its own way&****ip;
We did not have time to linger, of course. On the 15th of Planting Moons we crossed the Malakar border and later that evening we entered Crag once more. Our wounds are treated by the Rangers. I was patched up well enough, but a few of us looked worse for wear. The soldiers of Halten held a Soldier’s Last Call for their fallen leader. I made it a point to attend. They spoke highly of the young Halten and, by all accounts, were already planning ways to avenge their comrade.
Truth be hold, Lt. Halten probably expanded the value and legend of House Halten. He was the man who broke the legend: That Korosh, Slayer of Armies, was invulnerable and unable to be killed. I had already fled the field when he passed, but it was Volstagg who accounted for it. Lt. Halten lunged forward with his sword and slammed his steel deep into the back of the knee of Korosh and drew blood. A feat of legends if I ever heard.
During our two day stay I made it a point to spend time with The Rangers of Alpha Team. They were shaken and wounded. Apart of our spirit was broken by the staggering defeat. Hopefully they understand the importance of this — that we have broken the stories and now know Korosh can be killed. How is another story, but the sheer fact we know it is possible brings hope to this dark world.
I also do what I like to call Mental Damage Assessment (MDA). Their bodies would heal, but I need their spirits lifted and intact and those wounds are harder to mend. I suspect Volstagg has his own, but I do not pry. He will speak when he is ready.
For the team itself, I find my elevated position as Corporal has afforded me a new sense of caring. Especially for Moldova. After punching her in the face (please read my previous report before attempting to file charges) and her willingness to sacrifice, I can not help but admirer her. She and I might not agree on violence, but I can assure you&****ip; I am going to give her **** for opening that door. Perhaps I’ve found another friend after all?
I’ll derail for a moment and admit that, given my past, I have been extremely hesitant to accept people into my life. Perks of being a mercenary — you never had to. People came and went like the leaves in the wind. After losing everything, and spending a year in effective isolation, I was certain my heart was sealed. And here I am now, once more, finding that I feel for people. Even the elf from Malakar.
I am realizing a terrible truth: I care about these people. Not because they are my unit but because they are my Battle-Brothers and Sisters. They are my new family. Which means they are my weakness. I knew I could not ever settle down and have a family, especially with Velkalar on the prowl again. I never thought I’d have family in a different way again.
But I digress, I’ve rambled a bit too much. on the 17th we got our orders to leave and on the 26th of Planting Moons we arrived back home, in Echer’Naught.
We report to regional first and then to The Royal Warden – Sir Halten. I will admit I was surprised that we were ushered into the dining room for a meal. We were well fed by our host. I shall have to acquire Volstagg to present a gift to Sir Halten — his generosity for sharing his supplies is much appreciated.
At some point, Volstagg fetched me and ordered me to gather enough supplies for as long as I could. With a nod I collected Daynore to come with me as Moldova had a personal errand to run. I told her to take the rest of the team with her so we could muster easily at a moments notice. We were actually suppose to be ready to depart in 30 minutes, but given the size of our order, it took them 30 minutes to just collect everything.
Once successfully supplied, we rendezvoused with the the Sergeant. Moldova was contacted by Daynore and he reported to me that she seemed troubled. This worried me immediately, but I would not pry. We took camp outside of the city, a short ride from the gates. It was here Moldova revealed her troubles — her brother had been missing a few days and had missed showing up for his shifts.
I was in the middle of ordering Daynore to contact Eris so we could man a search party in the city (I suspected if he were on a bender we could find him and put her to ease) but she denied my request. She was afraid someone would get hurt in trying to find him. I was forced to agree with her view. Velkalar is often one to use our loved ones to bait us into worse traps..
My heart goes out to her. First Volstagg and now, potentially, Moldova. We have to stop this madman. He is going to tear us apart by hitting us at targets that will break our spirits first. Volstagg’s estate, Moldova’s brother (unconfirmed but suspected). I fear that the Schenkle’s will be struck at — either the Bakery itself, or perhaps Eric Shenkle (possibly both). They will be struck due to their close ties to the Rangers, especially this Alpha team. I also suspect that “Lighhouse” Sokolov and his Wayfarer’s Rest will be a target, again because of the relationship with the Alpha Team.
Mind you, the above is mere speculation, but I would encourage The Rangers of Echer’Naught to be extra vigilant when it comes to them.
On the 27th of Planting Moons, 3126, Sir Halten arrives to our camp outside of the city and informs us to meet with him and his entourage in an hour at the Dwarven Gate. We get their early (better to not keep him waiting) even though we ride the outside of the city.
In the appointed time, Sir Halten and his entourage of about 50 persons come out. We begin to make our way towards our destination, supplied for the long haul. To where, I shall not disclose. Those who need to know already do.
Dutifully, and with best regards,
Corporal Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven and XO of Echer’Naught Alpha Team.
I have decided to write honest reports, which means I need to catch them
up. This is because it seems no one really knows me.
So, I will start on the 2nd of Planting Moons.
We arrive at Gunther’s&****ip; I’m I mean Volkstagg’s&****ip; er I mean Sargeant
Volkstagg’s estate and it seems as though someone has sat on it. So, now we
are hurrying bodies.
Planting Moons 3rd
We are told to stay where we are until reinforcements arrive. So we
train&****ip; I train in stealth.
Planting Moons 5th
We are camped and training until reinforcements get here. Squire Lt. Halten
led them. Once they got here we are told to hunt a man named Korosh, the
slayer of armies. Answer me this, why send less than an army to kill the
slayer of armies when it is obvious we need more than an army? Anyways, we
find his tracks when I realize we aren’t hunting a man, but we are hunting
either an ogre or an orc&****ip;. And he is very large&****ip;
Planting Moons 7th
We followed the tracks for two days when we reached the bridge crossing
between the fea nation and the dwarvish kingdom. I was sent with Seyrs and
Daynor to speak with them. Bad idea. I’m not the best “elf” to talk to
elves. We find out about rumors of a giant. So we go back and get ready to
Planting Moons 10th
We arrive at Crag, a beautiful dwarves city in the side of a mountain. We
find the ranger outpost&****ip; eventually. We get what we need and station in
Crag for the night. Due to the rangers rule of two I decide to escort
Gunther to his lodgings.
Planting Moons 11th
Korosh has been confirmed. It is also confirmed he has been unharmable. Now
we have to find a way to cross into the Malakar dominion. We had to fix a
few things like the way the troops were lined up and what they looked like,
which meant a shopping trip was in order and sadly I was not invited to it.
We also had to forge a few papers.
Planting Moons 12th
We made it to the Malakar dominion and everything seemed to be correct
since we were allowed to cross over. While crossing I believe someone
touched my butt&****ip;. strange. Well, besides Sevys’ s drugs everything
checked out. Then we ride through the night with no sleep.
Planting Moons 13th
We find him&****ip; well Newt does&****ip; She almost got trampled as we rushed to
get the horses silent again. We try to get the drop and we do though it
doesn’t do&****ip; anything.
We found long and hard but it doesn’t seem to be getting us any where. Once
we are all fairly wounded and it seems all hope is lost we are ordered to
retreat by Lt. Halten. We do as we are told but sadly we lose the Lt. His
death is not in vain. He made the beast Korosh bleed. No one has ever done
I lose track here.
On the 26th of Planting Moons we arrive back at E’N. Then we leave to camp
just outside of E’N. Olaren’s are confusing.
The 27th of Planting Moons
Sir Halten tell us to meet him at the Dwarven Gate in an hour. When we get
there Sir Halten is there with about 50 men and we head out.
I would like to end this report with some personal feelings and thoughts.
Since the team can technically see this I believe and they don’t know me
1st of all sometime while we were camping and Lt. Halten was alive, he
offered me his tent&****ip; Why? I don’t know him. Not well at least. Why would
he offer his tent to someone he doesn’t know? Why would he think I would
accept? Well lucky me Gunther was kind enough to explain. Apparently Lt.
Halten had interests&****ip; weird&****ip; He still doesn’t know me well. Olaren’s
are strange. But, I will give the Halten’s this. They are strong.
2nd, why is it everyone gives strange looks when I escort Gunther to places
and stay with him sometimes. We like to talk. We confide in each other,
which is nice. Speaking of I really need to speak with him again. I have a
few things to get off my chest.
Gunther has a few demons which cause him to doubt himself in ways that he
shouldn’t. I wish to help him through that. Last time we talk it was
strange. Not in an uncomfortable way but in a I don’t know how to respond
kind of way. Hm maybe I need more insite.
I’m not used to men looking at me in a desirable way, but it seems to be
happening and I don’t see why. Boy is my brother going to be unhappy. I am
his baby sister after all. But still I don’t understand why. I’m not a very
good woman. I don’t so womanly things. Not am I a noble by blood. I also
don’t see myself as useful or “pretty”. I am normal. I am just Nexus. Ugh!
Someone please explain.
Nexus Zathlan of the House of Lyonn.
27th of planting moons to reginal command and Sir Halten
On the second of Planting Moons we fortified the ruins of Sgt. Volstagg’s estate. We trained and waited for reinforcements as per our orders. Corporal Amaroth worked with Serys and I on fighting. While, I will not attack someone it is a good idea for me to be able to defend myself.
On the 5th of Planting Moons Lt. Halten and his men arrived. We all rested for a few hours before leaving to follow Korash. I don’t understand Sir Halten’s logic, if this ogre is the army slayer than why is it that we were sent with a few Olarans, to me this make no sense.
On the 7th of Planting Moons we camee to a bridge crossing where Olara, the Elvish Nation, and Stalhiem all meet. Sgt. Volstagg sent Daynore and Lady Zathlan. Serys sent some obscure hints that he would be the better one to go, so Sgt. Volstagg sent Serys as well. When they got back I had a talk with Serys about being more direct instead of cryptic. He did not take it well to say the least. Once Sgt. Volstagg and Lt. Halten finished figuring out our next move we headed into Stalhiem.
On the 10th of Planting Moons we arrived in the mountain side town, or city I’m not sure which, of Crag. Sgt. Volstagg and I went to find the Ranger outpost. We found it burried in the mountain side. During our talk with the dwarf currently in charge we found out that some Elven scouts were attacked by someone meeting Korash’s description. We stayed the night though Sgt. Volstagg and Lady Zathlan stayed in different lodgings.
On the 11th of Planting moons we get up and are ready with the rise of the sun. The Olarans were already lined up and in columns already. I’m not going to lie while there is something beautiful about the way they march, I just want to mess it up. At any rate we make it to a small Elven fishing district on the north end of Shaintar Lake. It only took us about half a day to get there bit it felt lime forever. I don’t like it when we have other nobles with us. Sgt. Volstagg acts differently, not to mention im not a huge fan of most nobility, no offense Colonel Wolfhaven. Sorry I’m rambling. We found some rather beaten up elves. Apparently Korash only hurt those whom got in his path. He also walked through the lake and straight into the Malakar Dominion. With that information we went back to Crag. Daynore and I stayed up all night ensuring that we would be able to get into the dominion. Corporal Amaroth ensured that our Olaran friends would pass as sell swords.
In the morning I was exhausted and I knew Daynore had to be as well, but we had to push on. We managed to get through the checkpoint in the Dominion though I’m pretty sure one of them felt me up. If it wouldn’t have caused problems i would have yelled at them. We followed Korash’s foot prints through the night. Again Daynore and I were not given time to sleep.
On the 13th of Planting Moons we found Korash. Newt ran in front of Sgt. Volstag and Lt. Halten which caused a cascade of people trying to pull their horses back and gain control once more. I unfortunately failed at this and I woke the giant. Sgt. Volstagg sent Serys in for a quick kill shot, which only pissed the thing off. Serys got trampled as Korash charged us. The battle did not go well. We lost Lt. Halten however, he had a good death. He not only allowed us to escape, but he wounded the beast which, until then, was thought to be impossible. Once I learned this I began to question once again what Sir Halten was thinking. I’m pretty sure he was hoping it would be us that died.
On the 15th of Planting Moons we arrived back in Crag beaten and bloodied but alive. Well most of us were alive at least. We had a soldiers last call for Lt. Halten, i would have spoken but i didn’t know him really at all.
On the 17th of Planting Moons we left to go back to Echer’naught and we arrive back on the 26th. After reporting to HQ Lady Zathlan and I left to find my brother so I could warn him. Unfortunately he had not been to work in a few days. I’m sorry I cant do this right now. I leave the rest of the details to my team.
RFC Gracelyn Moldova
Or Miss Moonsilver&****ip; Or, Lady&****ip; well never-bloody-mind. We have been ordered out of the city. Where? I don’t know. I’m doing my best to follow the orders as they’re given, but I have little to go on. We are currently traveling to the Halten estate, true. But If I had to guess, I’d say we’re being sent out of the city to reduce the risk posed to others. I cannot say that I disagree with this decision. The fact that we’re headed out with a number of the Sheriff’s men would indicate a larger purpose, of which I’m currently unaware.
I’m sure you think that I’ve lost my marbles, and that may be true. At this point I could not say. Events have moved at such a rapid pace. Much faster than I thought they might, to be honest.
The estate, Evoran’s tree, and now Gracelynn’s brother&****ip;
Eris, this is my doing. I know that on the surface it seems I made the best decision. But either way, I cannot, and will not remove it from my doorstep.
You know, perhaps better than any of us, what this war will cost. I know that you live in danger, and honestly I’d be surprised if you weren’t afraid.
But we do what we must, don’t we? Especially to protect the ones close to us. Even if that means keeping them inside of a gilded cage.
Whatever it takes, right?&****ip; Even if they don’t realize or want it.
Tell me Eris, when you reach into a persons mind, does it give you an insight to what’s in their heart?
You read my mind, as far as I’m aware, when I joined the Rangers. Then, when Kura died you affirmed my alibi, but that was only briefly.
I know I just said that I didn’t think that I was crazy, and this probably isn’t the best way to affirm that&****ip;
But Eris, I’m hearing a voice.
Twice now. Once when we retrieved the sergeant major, and more recently when I got separated from the team. It’s a woman’s voice, I think. Whatever it was&****ip; It. Well. It helped me. It healed me. I can’t imagine that it’s one of the ascended, or even one of the fallen for that matter. I honestly have no idea. I mean, It said something about heroes, or some other such nonsense. But I’m here to tell ya, sis.
That ain’t me.
I don’t know what it means, but there it is. Maybe I have lost it. But if I did loose my mind, would I know?
Anyway&****ip; enough rhetorics.
I need you or Malcom to do something for me. That is, if you can. I would like an official communication sent to the Halten family, from the Rangers, using my signature. I feel that it is incumbent upon me, as the last person who saw Lt. Halten alive, and as a fellow member of the nobility, that I should offer them a few lines.
They deserve to hear first hand, how their son died, and why it mattered. I’m really terrible at writing these kinds of things, so I’ll need all the help I can get.
Here is my rough idea:
To the esteemed Sir and Lady Halten, and any other who would hear my words,
Your son, the late Lieutenant Halten, Squire to Lord Warden Eric Halten, and a Lieutenant of Olaran troops, was truly a man of noble spirit. From the first time that I met him, as Squire to his uncle, the Royal Sheriff. To the last that I saw him alive, he did his duty, with an unmitigated zeal, and rightness of purpose.
I was fortunate enough to work with him on his last mission. I must tell you that he handled himself with poise, and a dignity which belied his youth. Were it not for his fast thinking, and his ability to command men, many more lives would have been lost that day.
In his final moments he never flinched, and by his own hand, he gave an entire nation hope. More personally, he gave me hope. He proved to us that the monster known as Korosh, “The Army Killer” could not only bleed, but that he could be beaten.
Lieutenant Halten, despite having sustained grievous injury, remained defiant to the last. You should be proud of the man that you raised, and I hope that you will take comfort in knowing that he was slain fulfilling his commitment to the Crown, the people, and the Nation of Olara. He has, truly, brought even more honor to his family name.
It was my distinct pleasure to know such a man, even if for a short while.
Ser Günther Maximilian Völkstagg
Rangers of Echérnaught
Order of the Crimson Wall
Tell Malcom that if he wishes, he can amend, or clean it up as he sees fit.
Eris, at this point I should apologize for being remiss in my last report. Events conspired against me, to which I had little ability to control. I should probably give you a brief synopsis of my informal interviews with the team. I mean, I get it, you read their minds and all, but still, it might be important. Probably not, but maybe&****ip;
Audric is, well, Audric. He’s capable and willing to take orders. Most importantly, I think, is that he wants to serve. He knows the risk involved with his affliction, and he’s willing to accept responsibility for that. He has a good&****ip; eye for detail, and he has shown that he can lead in a tight spot. The fact that he’s an ******* should have no bearing within this particular context, and sometimes it even serves him well.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, especially considering my past and his condition, but I trust him with the team. That is, should anything happen to me. (let’s hope not, amIright?) That’s why I chose him for corporal. Also, if I’m being honest, I think he will be able to provide the team with a marshal bearing that I cannot. Even while I was blazing away with that infernal hand caster, shooter, thingy, he was taking time with the team, for training. That means a great deal to me.
Grendel has a good heart. He’s strong, faithful, and he wants to protect. He is ignorant of societal ways and customs, but I think he is willing to try to learn. I just wish I knew how to effectively talk with him&****ip; That’s not his fault, mind you, but mine. He trusts me, he said (in his own manner of speaking), but so far all I’ve done is nearly gotten him killed. At the end of all things, he’s a good man&****ip; or Ogre&****ip; even if he is a little short. I really think the only thing that Grendel needs to excel is to be motivated, and to continue to learn about social interactions.
Daynor, as is his custom, didn’t really say much. Perhaps he’s just here for the coin, meals, and a bed. Which honestly, is just as acceptable as any other reason, I suppose. He’s capable, I’ll give him that. He likes to work with his hands, which is&****ip; Handy. Heh. His ranged magic isn’t bad either. Honestly, I’m not sure there’s anything that I can do to help promote his growth within the unit. He seems pretty amenable, most of the time, which isn’t unusual I guess, for someone who escaped The Dominion.
Newt is much the same, except more&****ip; hissy. Perhaps the coin, or perhaps some other, more altruistic motive? I know not. She certainly has the potential to be a good scout, given some time. I don’t know a great deal about the art of stealth, but I will try to give her every opportunity to practice her craft.
Serus&****ip; I don’t know. He didn’t really want to be included, so I left it at that. He has his own motives for being here, but if he’s fine by the Rangers, he’s fine by me. He likes his secrets. He hordes them like the fabled dragons of old, hoarded their gold. Perhaps he considers those secrets his treasure.
I have more and more respect for Gracelynn. She’s turning into a pretty good Ranger&****ip; For a bloody pacifist, that is. That’s a joke! Heh. She is honest, and that is a quality whose importance can not be understated. But above all, she has a good heart. She lives by her conscience, and she is a loyal companion. Her goals are to continue to develop her supportive magical abilities, and to take on more leadership responsibilities. I want to try and help her achieve both. Well, with the leadership opportunities, that is. I know absolutely nothing of magic, so I’ll be no help there.
Lastly, I interviewed Nexus.
She is in a unique and difficult position. She wants to help, and beyond that, I don’t think she has any impure motives. The problem is that in Olara, noblewomen often have a harder time, in society, than commoners. Often they have very little choice in the course their lives will take. Noblewomen are often viewed as objects to be traded and bargained for. The Galean culture affords them more freedom, I think, than my own. I don’t know how to explain it, but I think she has already begun to see it. I saw it in Lieutenant Halten’s advances toward her. He expected her to yield herself to him. She asked me to teach her about Olaran Noble culture, but I don’t know that she’s going to like what she finds.
The problem is, as it stands, I am the only one in a position to shield her from that particular&****ip; “threat”. Granted, I would gladly do so if that is what is asked, but I also do not want to meddle where I am unwanted. Problem is, I know how Nuance and suppositions quickly turn into rumors. Not that I particularly mind, (if I’m being honest) but it will have implications for her as well.
Good-bloody-grief, Eris, how am I going to handle this? Worst case, I end up being overbearing, and that’s if I don’t come off as a creepy, washed up Knight, looking for a younger paramour. Best case, I might end up crippling any of Nexus’s future social aspirations.
I’m no good at social games&****ip; Or I could be just overreacting. I guess that’s always a possibility.
Of course, this is provided we all don’t get killed in the next weeks. As much as I want to see the team grow and flourish, I can’t guarantee they’ll get the chance. But hey, at least in Halten’s company the food is better&****ip; That’s something, right?
Thinking of you!
(But you knew that already&****ip;)
PS: tell the Rangers to stay away from my Intown home&****ip; I’m fairly certain that it’s rigged to explode. Just FYI!
Campaign Report 87
Three Deaths and a Funeral
Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
As relayed from Echer’Naught Alpha team under command of Sergeant Gunther Volstagg (via RFC Daynore)
Compiled by Ranger Malcolm, Scribe
Second Day of Red Wolf, Year 3126 Under the Light
Having received numerous reports from various sources, Colonel Wolfhaven, Ranger Serys, Corporal Amaroth, and a curious unwashed flagon from a Sir Hevain, I have requested of Ranger Malcolm to consolidate and organize the various reports into a more clear and concise accounting of the events of the funeral for Squire Averan Harken.
-Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
Planting Moons, 27th, 3126
Per the last report, dated the 27th, the Alpha team, departing a camp just north of the city joined Squire Averan Harken’s funeral procession under command of honorable Royal Sheriff of Echer’Naught, Sir Halten. The funeral party departed at 10 AM from the Dwarven Gate heading east on the Harken Road. From there, it turned north, heading in the direction of Tarnn before turning off West, just less than a day’s ride north of Harken.
Olaran Honor Guard:
- “Fallen Mount” Squire Lt. Halten
- Royal Sheriff (Warden) Sir Eric Halten
- Sgts Hareson and Markar (Sworn of Halten)
- Obermark (Scribe)
- Sgt Sir Gunther Volstagg
- Corporal Amaroth
- RFC Daynore
- RFC Moldova
- RFC Lady Zathlan
- Ranger Serys
- Ranger Grendel
- Ranger Brother Sebastian
Planting Moons, 30th 3126
The trip took three days by horseback, and wagon. During this time, Sir Halten’s man, Obermark, the Sheriff’s personal scribe, provided the Ranger Detail an overview of Olaran customs and procedures during the funeral. In truth, as I understand, his counsel was speak only when spoken too, do not enter into any agreements, do not allow yourself to be separated, and avoid becoming involved in the political games of the houses.
I do believe that the team failed spectacularly on each point, but that is to be revealed.
The funeral procession arrived at Lord Erlgen’s keep at mid morn on the 30th of Planting moons. A vassal of House Olar, Lord Elgen’s holdings reside on the border between Olar and Harken lands, over a squat, hill-keep and its surrounding farmlands and village. In proper Olaran fashion, the entire community mourned the loss of the young lordling, all banners dipped, crimson ribbons tied along the streets.
Sir Halten was greeted by the Lord of the Manor, Lord Erlgen, of Olar, his sister, Dame Gaulouen, Dame Gaulouen’s escort, Lord Boer, of Reinhart, Lady Halten (sir Halten’s wife), and Squire Harken’s three sisters in mourning.
Here, a brief summary of the assembled nobility.
- Lord Erlgen of House Olar. Grandfather to Squire Averan Harken, Lord Erlgen served his king well and was rewarded. Married to a daughter of House Eckhart, the Lord and Lady had several children, most died young. Squire Averan Harken’s mother, sister to Lady Harken died in childbirth giving birth to the young squire. His father never returned from campaign. Lord Erlgen took in the boy, and his sisters eventually securing his position as squire to Sir Halten.
- Lady Halten, of Harken. Formerly of House Erlgen, Lord and Lady Halten have several children. She is aunt to Squire Averan Halten and daughter to Lord Erlgen.
- Sir Halten. Royal Sheriff (Warden) of Echer’Naught. Vassal of House Harken, Sir Halten wed Lady Halten and took the fatherless Squire Averan Halten into his household as a squire, giving him a name.
- Sir Bolen, Order of the Golden Stagg, Sir Bolen grew up with Squire Averan Halten, serving as training partners as youth, being a scion of House Eckhart, the house of Squire Averan Halten’s Grandmother.
- Lady Bolen, of Olar. Wife to Sir Bolen and under protection of the Order of the Bear. More to be revealed.
- Dame Gaulouen. Sister to Lord Erlgen and widow of Lord Gaulouen, aunt to Lady Harken and great aunt to Squire Averan Halten.
- Lord Boer, of House Reinhart. A family friend of the House Erlgen, and escort for Dame Gaulouen.
- Sir Mathras. Sergeant at Arms of Erlgen Keep and Captain of the Erlgen House Guard.
- Sir Barrough. Captain of the Bolen House Guard, and member of the Order of the Bear.
- Vicar Olman. House Erlgen clergy.
- Sir G. Hevain, of Harken. Sir Hevain served with Sir Halten during their early days of campaign. He has served in most military action by Olara during the past 4 decades. In between wars, Sir Hevain has served in numerous mercenary companies. All further requests for information about his House, or Order are met with tactful, but absolute refusal. No record of the initial G. Curious&****ip;
Formalities done, Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan were invited to enter the keep, in honor of their title. The remainder of the Rangers, under command of Corporal Amaroth were instructed to billet at the local inn, a two story converted and expanded merchant’s dwelling. Due to his size, and the general disdain for goblinesh, Grendel was encamped in the stables. RFC Moldova accepted responsibility for his upkeep.
Unfortunately for Alpha Team, the inn was also the billet for untitled knights and sworn of the attending nobility, over-filling the establishment with raucous and quarrelsome Olarans. Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan were given adjoining rooms within the keep, though only Sir Volstagg’s room was properly made. It would appear the assumption was that they would share a bed.
While the rest of the team secured their room and settled into routine, Ranger Serys joined with a table of Olaran knights, matching drink for drank and earning their respect though the durability of his fortitude.
Meanwhile, Squire Averan Halten’s effects were taken to the chapel along with his three sisters and the Vicar who would pray overnight. The rest of the keep, by nightfall, gathered in the great hall to participate in the Squire’s Last Call. Begun by Lord Erlgen, the Last Call raged all night, both within the keep and the town (read inn). Alpha Team slept little, being awakened at nearly 4 in the morning when four drunken Olarans delivered an unconscious and badly bleeding Serys to their room. Serys having not recovered from wounds received during his battle with Korash.
Planting Moons 31st, 3126
Around a AM, the stillness of the keep was shattered by a blood curdling scream. Donning but his small clothes, Sir Volstagg rushed out the door in search of the trouble as alarms bells rang. He was joined by an entirely nude Sir Hevain. Both men followed the rushing guards through the main hall to the base of the rear tower. Therin, they discovered a growing throng of people standing outside Lord Erlgen’s bedchambers, at the head, Sir Halten. Pushing to the front, Sir Volstagg entered the room to find Lord Erlgen lying dead in his bed, a weeping girl in a shift at the side of the bed.
It appeared that the aging Lord had “overtaxed” himself with the girl and his heart had given out. Considering the scandalous nature of his death, and the sudden death on what was to the morning of internment for Squire Averan Halten, the chambers were cleared, Sir Halten placing Sir Volstagg and Hevain guard to the hallway. Long enough for Sir Halten to make the necessary arrangements.
While standing guard, reports indicate that Sir Volstagg was “accosted” by Lady Halten who demanded, at length, that the girl be arrested and convicted of murder. She seemed uninterested in a trial, only that the girl pay for the murder, if only by her youthful stamina and exuberance. Sir Volstagg declined to comment, weathering the tired for, if rumors are to be believed, four hours.
Meanwhile, Sir Volstagg, at the behest of Vicar Olman, sent a runner to fetch brother Paladin Sebastian from the inn to assist in moving and praying over the newly deceased Lord Erlgen. At, or about, 7 AM, the runner reached the inn and Corporal Amaroth dispatched Sebastian to assist in caring for Lord Erlgen’s body. Within the hour, the Vicar, Sebastian, and members of the Erlgen House Guard, under command of Sir Mathras, moved Lord Erlgen’s body from his bedchambers to the chapel. Here, they were asked to be sure not to disturb the four grieving sisters who had now lost their brother and grandfather. Brother Sebestian remained within the chapel a few hours before returning to the keep. There he joined Sir Hevain, and at times, Sir Volstagg.
With the sudden loss of the House patriarch, Sir Halten (heir to the estate), Lady Halten, Dame Gaulouen, Vicar Olman, Sir Mathras, and Lord Boer all closeted themselves away in the keep’s inner chambers to discuss the future of the House and Lord Erlgen’s funeral arrangements.
Sensing that the young girl’s life might be endangered if Lady Halten was able to convince the assemblage that she had killed the Lord, Sir Volstagg dispatched a messenger to Corporal Amaroth in town with orders to come to the keep and take custody of a witness. Meanwhile, Sir Volstagg dispatched Lady Zathlan to fetch the girl and secret her outside the keep. He then returned to his duties, and to await an audience with Sir Halten
Upon receiving orders, Corporal Amaroth assembled the Rangers and marched to the gate. On the village side of the drawbridge, Corporal Amaroth left RFCDaynore, and Rangers Serys and Grendel. Corporal Amaroth and RFC Moldova proceeded directly to the keep demanding entry. The guards, having orders to secure the keep, refused. Sir Volstagg joined them and engaged the guards in a heated debate.
Meanwhile, Lady Zathlan round a page willing to direct her to the girl, but the guards would not allow outsiders into the more private areas of the keep. Here, again, Sir Hevain arrived and “assisted” Lady Zathlan by implying, I am to believe, they were involved in an elicit sexual affair. The guard, not wishing to get involved, permitted them to pass unmolested.
She found the girl in quarters surrounded by other maids. The poor child was petrified and feared for her life. Zathlan took the girl to her own quarters, passing the same guard who now believed that Sir Hevain was assembling a harem. Within chambers, Lady Zathlan disguised the girl. Sir Volstagg arrived and ordered Lady Zathlan to secret the girl out of the keep and to Corporal Amaroth. Sir Volstagg then departed to distract the guards at the gate.
Lady Zathlan, with aide from the same page, snuck the girl out a servants entrance to the main courtyard with the aid of the Paladin Sebastian. All the while, Sir Volstagg and Corporal Amaroth argued with the guards at the keep’s main doors. Once the girl was clear, Corporal Amaroth returned to meet them at the inn, while Sir Volstagg re-entered the keep.
Terrified, the girl and brother Sebastian arrived at the inn followed in short order by Corporal Amaroth and RFC Moldova. Due to here excitable nature, RFCMoldova attempted to calm the girl with disastrous results. As I understand, the girl now breaks out into hysterics every time RFC Moldova enters the room. Fortunately, the girl passed out from exhaustion, but RFC Moldova elected to move out into the stables with Grendel who, it would seem, has begun to believe that RFC Moldova’s limberjack “Jack” is fully possessed. It seems to move on its own.
Keep in mind, the entire purpose of the wooden doll is to provide RFC Moldova with an object to animate. So, I am unsure of Grendel’s superstition.
At the keep, it would appear that, fatigued from waiting, Sir Hevain offered dinner to Sir Volstagg and his entire team. That eve, at or around 7PM, Sir Hevain, Sir Volstagg, and Lady Zathlan took a carriage to the inn to be joined by Corporal Amaroth, RFCs Daynore and Moldova at a table within the inn. Rangers Serys and brother Sebastian remained to protect the girl.
Upon discovering that their ogre member, Grendel, would not be allowed to join, Sir Hevain ordered the table to be dragged into the street and Grendel joined the rest of his team for a long and luxurious dinner. By all accounts, a good time was had.
Late that evening, 10PM or later, Sir Hevain, Sir Volstagg, and Lady Zathlan returned to the keep. There, Sir Volstagg was alerted that Sir Halten was “out of chambers” and would meet with him. Both he and Lady Zathlan departed Sir Hevain’s company and headed to private quarters to meet with Sir Halten.
Lady Zathlan found a cold reception from the Erlgen clan and so elected to excuse herself and return to her quarters. From what I gather, Sir Volstagg found Sir Halten in terrible spirits, especially considering his sudden inheritance, and, if rumors are true, the compromised nature of his father-in-law’s demise. There seems to be little love lost between the two men.
In fact, Sir Halten appeared utterly despondent. Though details are sorely lacking, it is believed that Lord Erlgen might have been in debt upon his passing. Those accounts passing then to Sir Halten. If such reports are to be believed, it might explain the Sheriff’s black mood. He spoke at length with Sir Volstagg before both retiring from the evening.
Due to the tense atmosphere in the keep, and the Rangers giving sanctuary to the girl, RFC Daynore began contacting Farspeaker Moonsilver twice daily until the Rangers departed Olaran territory.
Red Wolf 1st, 3126
Lord Erlgen’s body lay in state for two days while arrangements were made, and the official matters of state were navigated. However, it was announced on the last day of Spring, Planting Moons 33rd, it was announced that Lord Erlgen’s Last Call and funeral would occur on Red Wolf 1st. That was the plan&****ip;
At or just after the 13th hour, the very first minutes of Red Wolf 1st, the keep was awakened by alarm bells and the sounds of heavy boots in the corridors. Again, Sir Volstagg and Hevain, this time better dressed, rushed out to find the source of the newest alarm, Lady Zathlan following behind. This time, they reached the far side of the keep to find a growing crowd outside one of the guests quarters. Muscling their way through the crowd, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain entered the private chambers of Sir and Lady Bolen.
This scene war far more gruesome. Sir Bolen was on his knees wailing beside the bed where his young bride lay hacked to bloody pieces in their bed. Blood soaked the sheets, the mattress and sprayed about the room. Not among the crowd were noted Dame Gaulouen and her escort, Lord Boer, and Sir and Lady Halten. Nor were the three mourning sisters in attendance.
Sir Barrough, the Bolen House Guard, and Sir Mathras were already assembling forces to hunt down and slay the assassin. Sir Volstagg noted that there was no blood near the windows or door meaning that the assassin had not entered the room via a “normal” portal. This left magic or&****ip;
He also spotted the same page who had so easily led Lady Zathlan out of the keep earlier. When pressed, that servant revealed a hidden passage in the corner of the room. There was a clear blood spattered trail leading into the darkened confines of the corridor.
Leaving Sir Mathras and Sir Barrough to secure the room, and Lady Zathlan, dressed in but a shift, to secure the secret passageway, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain charged after the assassin. In the darkness, they relied upon the stench of blood to track the killer. Coming, soon enough. to a half opened door, light spilling through the crack Bursting into the room, both men were shocked to find Sir Halten standing along within his chambers.
Sir Halten, almost drunkenly, as if waking from a dream, demanded to know why they had so rudely intruded into his private place. It was only then that the two men noted the blood coating Sir Haltens chest and arms, or the blood sword still dangling from his hand. Sir Halten appeared oblivious as well.
When Sir Vosltagg forced him to examine himself, the Sheriff appeared genuinely shocked and confused, allowing the bloody sword to clatter to the stone floor. The situation was dire. Clearly, Sir Halten had murdered the young Lady, but he appeared to be under some influence, magical or otherwise. With Sir Bolen, Sir Barrough, and Sir Mathras out for blood, it was only a matter of moments before they arrived and executed Sir Halten out of hand.
Ceding authority to the Rangers, Sir Hevain suggested that Sir Volstagg arrest the Warden and place him under Ranger custody while he returned to the scene of the attack. Without quarrel Sir Halten immediately surrendered and submitted to Ranger justice. Without bindings, Sir Volstagg arrested the Royal Sheriff and exited the chambers to escort him to the dungeon only to find Sir Bolen and others prowling the halls in search of the killer, having failed to pass Lady Zathlan.
Finding the blood covered Sir Halten, they demanded Sir Volstagg to stand aside upon the King’s orders. Volstagg refused and a standoff almost turned violent when Sir Hevain arrived behind the Olarans. Sir Volstagg claimed Ranger authority and refused to submit. So, Sir Bolen ordered the keep to be secured, no on in or out. With bad grace, they stood aside, but promised that there would be swift retribution against the Royal Sheriff AND the Rangers.
Through RFC Daynore Farspeaker Moonsilver was alerted of the alarms in the keep. She immediately contact Sir Volstagg, who was at the precise moment facing down Sir Bolen, and Sir Barrough in the hallway outside Sir Halten’s chambers. With Sir Hevain’s aid, Sir Volstagg managed to reach the keep’s dungeon where an amiable, if unconcerned jailer locked the dazed Sir Halten into a cell.
With a moment to breathe, Sir Volstagg reported to Farspeaker Moonsilver. The Royal Sheriff of had murdered Lady Bolen, presumably under the influence of an Adept. Sergeant Volstagg had stepped between Olaran “justice” and the life of Sir Halten at the risk of his own life and that of his team. And then, he requested assistance at a level sufficient to deal with a potential war with Olara over Sir Halten.
I would be remiss if I did not take a brief moment to describe the situation in Echer’Naught at the time of this unusual request. Upon receiving Sergeant Volstagg’s request, Farspeaker Moonsilver contacted me directly and requested I relay the message to the Colonel. Doing so, I found the good Colonel in a pleasant mood. He was, as usual, in his office, even at such a late hour. His recent repast with his bride, sitting well. For once, the she-wolf beast, Sasha, seemed inclined to permit idle petting.
In a word, bucolic. I was loathe disturb such a peaceful scene, but duty required. Colonel Wolfhaven took the news of a potential pitched battle between the reigning “Alpha Team” and a who’s who of Olaran nobility better than I had expected. Though, having served with the Lord-Mayor long enough I detected a note of frustration, though not incredulity. Sad as it may be, hearing that his Rangers had managed to convert a funeral detail into a full blow international incident was entirely unsurprising.
To his credit, Colonel Wolfhaven paused only long enough to wake his wife and bid her farewell, before summoning a detail of the Wolfhaven Company of Free Riders to his door and riding east at full gallop. From there, I returned to the HQ in order to begin researching the Erlgen estate and background information on the potential players in this sordid drama.
Wolfhaven departed Echer’Naught at, or around 1AM First Hunt 1st, 3126, for reference.
While Wolfhaven was preparing to leave, and Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain were preparing to defend the Erlgen keep’s dungeon against a small force of armed Olarans, Farspeaker Moonsilver contacted Corporal Amaroth with orders to assemble the Alpha Team and reinforce Sergeant Volstagg’s position in the keep. This would, of course, require the Rangers to enter the keep with the Olarans under orders to prevent anyone, in particular the Rangers, from doing just that.
As soon as Alpha Team received orders, Corporal Amaroth assembled the entire team and, taking the young girl along, assembled to march on the keep. Serys managed to roust a handful of Olaran warriors who he knew to be loyal to Sir Hevain, or willing to fight for coin, and convinced them to join the Ranger assault on Erlgen Keep.
Again, they were challenged, but this time before ever crossing the moat. However, this time, Corporal Amaroth refused to relent. Without reinforcements Sergeant Volstagg would almost certainly be overrun. In the name of the Rangers, Corporal Amaroth ordered the guard to stand aside. I imagine the hulking ogre and Ranger Serys’ drawn bow only helped encourage compliance.
With access to the keep, Corporal Amaroth left Grendel outside in the courtyard and entered the keep proper, this time, without issue with the rest of the team. There, Sir Hevain met to lead them to the dungeon and Sergeant Volstagg. I can only imagine that Sergeant Volstagg relieved at the arrival of the rest of his team.
Together for the first time since arriving in Erlgen lands, minus Grendel, the team discussed the current situation. RFC Daynore was easily able to confirm that Sir Halten had been under the influence of an adept. Armed with this knowledge, Sergeant Volstagg ordered RFCs Moldova and Daynor to seek out the presence of an adept within the keep. Corporal Amaroth and Ranger Serys detached to go canvass the area and question the guests at the party. Surely someone saw something.
The rest, Sergeant Volstagg, RFC Zathlan, brother Sebastian, and Sir Hevain remained behind to ensure no move was made against Sir Halten. The search took time, almost the entirety of Red Wolf 1st.
Red Wolf 2nd, 3126
Early in the morning, the team returned to report RFCs Moldova and Daynore had found evidence of an adept, but the essence was quickly fading. No sign of the assassin. Corporal Amaroth and Ranger Serys returned with a list of everyone in the castle and a list of those who were NOT seen in and around Lady Bolen’s room on the morning of her death, including, but not limited to, Lady Gaulouen and her escort, Lord Boer, Sir and Lady Halten, Vicar Oman and the three mourning sisters.
It was at this that brother Sebastian interjected. He suddenly recalled that during the hours he spent praying over the body of Lord Erglen, after having been moved to the chapel, that there were FOUR small, feminine figures praying the chapel. Interestingly, with faces shrouded, none of the Rangers had ever seen any of the women’s faces. No one but the assassin would dare to impersonate one of the mourning sisters of Squire Halten, and no one but an adept would not have been immediately spotted and called out!
With this new information, and running on no sleep, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain left the team within and went to round up all the women in the keep that MIGHTmeet with this description. Sir Bolen, Sir Mathras, and Sir Barrough, not to mention Lord Boer, made such a procedure next to impossible. But, through charm, guile, and sheer belligerence, all the young women of the keep were finally assembled in the great hall in the late afternoon of Red Wolf 2nd. RFCDaynore even brought the young woman from Ranger custody, just in case, though she had been scanned with no results.
All the nobility assembled, most to watch Sergeant Volstagg fail. Everyone was in attendance, save for the Alpha team, the jailer, who continued to sit whistling idly, and Sir Halten still incarcerated. At Sergeant Volstagg’s signal, RFC Daynore began his scan of the crowd&****ip;
From what information can be gleaned, the instant RFC Daynore openned his mind, a powerful spike of The Way overwhelmed his senses and, momentarily, blinding him to the room. At the same instance half the assembled lords, ladies, knights, dames, sworn, and citizens, warrior or not, turned on the other half. Sir Hevain and Lord Bolen immediately attacked Sir Volstagg who was momentarily stunned by the sudden attack.
RFC Daynore immediately moved to extract himself from the press of bodies. Sergeant Volstagg went on the defensive, warding off blows in the hopes of understanding what was happening. It became painfully obvious that someone had just puppeted half the room, if such a thing was even possible.
Fending off Sir Hevain, Sir Bolen, with Sir Mathras and Sir Barrough not far away, Sergeant Volstagg was fortunate to survive. As the melee began to take its toll above, below, the Alpha Team was suddenly dealing with their own crisis.
Unaware of the battle raging overhead, they were suddenly shocked when Ranger Serys calmly turned his bow and shot Sir Halten in the throat. The Royal Sheriff, utterly unprepared, toppled backwards off his small cot and collapsed to the floor in an expanding pool of his own blood. Reacting instantly, brother Sebastian tackled Serys trying to drive him to the ground. A heartbeat later, Corporal Amaroth also jumped upon the elf.
RFC Zathlan took a different approach. Waiting for an opening in the scramble, she laid one clean blow on Serys’ shooting arm, shattering the elbow and rendering the bow useless. At first, Serys seemed to ignore the blow, but moments later, as if waking from a dream, he screamed and collapsed to the ground as RFC Zathlan coquettishly tried to hide the massive warhammer behind her slim form.
Above, the battle raged on, with Sergeant Volstagg managing to drag Sir Hevain to the floor, but suffering severe wounds from numerous sword blows. RFCDaynore broke free of the melee and turned to head downstairs, already reaching on to summon reinforcements. Outside, after sitting alone in the courtyard, abandoned and forgotten with only the creepy limberjack for company, Grendel arose to the sounds of battle within the keep and the scent of blood.
Lacking orders, Ranger Grendel elected to break open the door to the keep in hopes of reaching his team. With two great blows, Grendel smashed the door open, but before he could hope to try squeezing through the portal, the Cavalry arrived.
Having ridden almost nonstop since early morn on the 1st, Colonel Wolfhaven arrived at the moment Grendel forced open the keep’s doors. His way so courteously cleared, Colonel Wolfhaven rode into the main hall and summoned the power of Celesia to break the adept’s hold over the minds of the assembled.
Free of influence, the hall fell into stunned silence as the assembled nobility, sworn, and citizens collapsed in fatigue, or staggered drunkenly, nursing wounds. Sergeant Volstagg lowered his guard and sagged to a nearby bench. RFC Daynore alerted the Colonel of the attack on the dungeon.
Colonel Wolfhaven ordered Sergeant Volstagg to receive medical attention, an order I believe he disobeyed. He then ordered RFC Daynore to secure the hall and to arrange medical attention for the assembled. From there, Colonel Wolfhaven turned and strode toward the stairs to the dungeon.
Below, a different drama unfolded. Free of his compulsion, the injured Ranger Serys screamed at RFC Zathlan while Corporal Amaroth demanded the keys from the jailer who seemed most amused by the entire performance. Door open, brother Sebastian rushed to Sir Hatlen’s body, taking a healing potion from RFC Moldova. Using all his knowledge, brother Sebastian desperately tried to stop Sir Halten’s bleeding. Among the potion, brother Sebastian’s skill, and pure luck, Sir Halten took a ragged breath.
He was alive. Brother Sebastian helped him onto a cot where he continued to cough and sputter, weak from pain and blood loss. All seemed to have turned better, when the team heard the sounds of approaching armored boots. Unaware of the Colonel’s arrival, or the nature of the fight above, Corporal Amaroth ordered his men into position. They waited, gravely, as the footsteps grew loud until the figure of Colonel Wolfhaven filled the doorway to the dungeon.
Relieved, they immediately lowered their arms. Colonel Wolfhaven dispatched the Corporal and most of his team to the main hall to support Sergeant Volstagg. Brother Sebastian was to remain with the Royal Sheriff and the girl below.
As of the writing of this report, Colonel Wolfhaven is command of Erlgen Keep and overseeing the search for the assassination, the deaths of the assembled and negotiating with the Olaran nobility.
However, upon his arrival, Colonel Wolfhaven DID secure a public pronouncement from Sir Bolen admitting that the death of his wife was the result of Puppeting powers of an adept. Should this go to trial, that admission, in addition to his succumbing to the same powers in attacking a Ranger Sergeant will go a long way to securing an innocent verdict for Sir Halten.
Thought, I sincerely down that any of this will go to trial. Should Sir Bolen demand a trial, the indescretion of Lord Erlgen will become the humor of the courts, as will Sir Barrough’s inability to protect a member of the royal family. Let us not forget that to accuse Sir Halten of weakness or moral fraility in the face of the adept would only open every noble, knight, and sworn to similar accusations. No, this will never go to trial, but I can assume that the reputations of Sir Barrough and Sir Halten will likely never recover.
Sadly, a lack of trial does not greatly improve the situation. First, Lady Halten’s family has been disgraced. This will cause tremors throughout local Olaran politics creating instability and ill will. I fear that no small number of challenges will result. The killing is not over. Olaran pride being what it is.
Second, assuming the Crown allows Sir Halten to inherit the property, as is his right, assuming no challengers, I fear that his financial situation will preclude his ability to hold the land for long. Again, this is merely an educated guess, but if what appears to be true IS true, then Sir Halten may be required to sell of large portions of his holdings to remain solvent. The Erglen Keep with its stigma will be the first, I imagine. This diminished Sir Halten further and strains his finances. Sir Halten, as a player in the fight against Velkalar is now over, at least for the time.
Third, the Olaran Crown is not well disposed to treat with the Rangers. Regardless of whether or not Sergeant Volstagg was in the right in regards to the Royal Sheriff, it cannot be overlooked that he defied Olaran justice within their own holdings. Worse. he embarrassed the Crown and through his actions allowed an assassin of Royal Blood to go free. I have confirmed that Lady Bolen, of Olara, was a favored cousin of the Queen. If the Rangers sought aid from the Olarans, that aid is likely to be denied.
As to the cause of the conflict? Who can say. The death of Lord Erlgen was a tragic accident or a calculated assassination to embarrass Sir Halten, or the Rangers, and set up this unique series of events. Then, the murder of Lady Bolen was either an assassination of a key Olaran political figure by political rivals within the courts, or she as killed in order to set up Sir Halten and remove him from play. Even failing in that, the damage to his reputation is done. He is a Royal Warden in name only.
Unless the subsequent investigation gleans some new information, we may never the know the cause of this series of deaths. If they are a series of unconnected events, so much the worse. But, if this is a coordinated attack by one of our myriad enemies, then it is doubly concerning for A) it subtlety and brilliance, B) access to hidden information like Lady Bolen’s true identity and the hidden passages of Erlgen Keep, C) the wide ranging ramifications to Ranger operations.
Honestly, I cannot say with any certainty which case would be worse? Perhaps it would be best if this was just a series of very unfortunate events. Time will tell, I am sadly sure.
Not to add to our collective woes, yet there are other forces at play that, if we are not careful, will be overshadowed an examined in the light of such high profile events.
First, as of the last report we indicated that High Druidess Treesinger had departed Echer’Naught to assess the damage to Evorn Que’kassar’s Sacred Grove. Predictably, she was attacked in the attempt. Unpredictably, however, the assassination attempt was very nearly successful. While working in ruins of the grove around the 25th of Planting Moons, High Druidess Treesinger came under fire from an assassin using crossbow bolts coated in a highly lethal toxin for elves, added to that, we believe, Vainar’s Bane Plague. It was less the toxin, and more the rapid assault that very nearly killed Treesinger.
She was rescued by Eve, who ALSO was wounded by the attacker, though her immense recuperative abilities prevented her death. She was unable to pursue as she was bringing High Druidess Treesinger back from the brink of death. Apparently, the elven maidens has pre-planned this rescue in the event of an attack, at Colonel Wolfhaven’s insistence that Treesinger was a target. That said, Evoran’s Tree was not just burned, but destroyed. High Druidess Treesinger has been tight lipped during her recuperation, but her words, ominous as they may be, “Life Prevails” may be an indication that she has some means of repairing or replacing. Not a high Ranger priority.
However, this situation highlights an equally disturbing report. We have learned, recently, that the prison caravan carrying former Ranger Dakota Afliem was hit enroute to Kythros. Worse, due to the nature of the attacks, and the unpredictability of Eve, the prisoner escort was of the most highly trained Rangers available at the time. Of high skill and experience, these men were completely over matched and slaughter by what appears to be a single attacker, if analysis of the scene is true.
Sadly, we do not know when Dakota Afliem was abducted as the attack was only discovered when the prison transfer failed to reach its scheduled destination, we are fairly certain she was not killed in the attack. To what end, we know not. Wounds on her guards are consistent with a long, thin blade. It cannot be lost upon the Rangers that the MO resembles one of Velkalar’s known associates, the duelist Alphonz Domingo Ferrara Diego Castellano. Though that attribution is merely suspicion, not fact.
Equally troubling news out of Kythros. In the wee hours of the 20th of Planting Moons there was a prison break. Numerous guards were injured, three killed. Of the list of escapees, only a few seem relevant to our operations. Two of note, former Rangers Rysak Ironblood and Thomas Zulcrum. I have only RECENTLYlearned of an additional fact of note. A few days prior to this breakout, Zulcrum requested to speak with Ranger Command in regards to information that might be of assistance in our investigations surrounding the person or persons known as Velkalar. Within days, and before he was allowed to make this pronouncement, he, along with a handful of prisoners “escape.” The coincident is not lost upon this command.
In rapid succession, Captain Celebor is laid low and forced to retire, Sergeant Major Stormhammer is also captured and gravely wounded in his recover, in which we lose RFC Ramshorn. Now, Treesinger is all but lost, and all three incarcerated former Rangers escape or are abducted by unknown forces. Sir Halten is all-but ruined. And, lest we not forget, RFC Moldova’s brother is still unaccounted for.
Our pieces are being swept from the board faster than we can assess our next moves. To make matters far worse, we have just received unverifiable reports that a new wave of bounties have been issued for high members within the government of Echer’Naught and the Rangers. Even if we had the Rangers to spare securing everyone within the government, if the prison transfer of Dakota Afliem is any indication, we are woefully inadequate to the task.
The War promised Sergeant Volstagg is now in full swing. If a resolution is not reached, we may, in fact, lose. But, if all of our supposition is correct, then we have begun to develop a pattern of movement for key resources of our enemy. Kourash was last seen in the Dominion and every resource is being spent to locate and track his movements. It should NOT be hard. And, IF the attack on Squire Halten’s funeral IS the work of V, then that accounts for the Adept. Add the crossbowman who attacked Treesinger and the duelist who hit the prisoner escort&****ip; Our enemy is close at hand. If only we can get a decent shot.
To: Echer’Naught Regional Command
Date: 2nd of Red Wolf, year 3126
Mission Report Topics of Import – Adepts, Velkalar.
Despite the **** that we went through, I think only Serys is worse for wear. Granted, there might be some animosity between RFC Zathlan and him, now, but he can get over it. Were it my strike he would be a dead man. Bear in mind my knowledge of how the bizarre and ethereal powers of Adepts work is beyond my comprehension — I leave that to the experts.
In either case, I digress. Please see below for a field report of the events that lead up to our current status
27th of Planting Moons, 3126
We were marching in good order, well, as good as a Ranger unit might march. The Olaran horses were in step. It was an old song. A song that brought back memories — the tune, the step. ****, even the cook was in on it with his whistling. A funeral procession with it’s own band.
We moved for none. People scattered. Wagons were pushed out of the way. None crossed paths with the head of our column — and at it’s head sat the Royal Warden himself, Sir Eric Halten. It was a 3 day ride to our destination and during our travels, The Aide / Butler to Sir Halten (Ostimark? I don’t know but the man moves as slow as a druken soldier about to black out), gave us the run down of the politics and expectations of us all.
As a former House Sworn, I was already familiar with most of it. Manipulation was common among the nobility to those such as the team — pawns to be moved on the board. The bigger concern would be how that would influence the standing of Sir Volstagg and Sir Halten as we were under their command. Our blemishes would subsequently blemish them. Politics. I try and stay out of them.
Turns out, Sir Halten’s background ties him to the Eckhart family — an old house that, about 200 years ago, were pretty prominent in the military world. Now they are more about politics. Old money if you will.
30th of Planting Moons, 3126
We arrived at our destination — a village built around a keep on a small hill with a dry mote surrounding it. It was an older building. That meant it had withstood the tests or time or hadn’t been tested at all. Given the history of the family, I feel inclined to go with the former. The settlement around it had a few hundred souls and given the vast expanse of farms, they did well for themselves.
Once within the confines, the team was split. RFC Zathlan with Sgt Volstagg to the interior while the rest of us were billeted at the Inn. Once inside, we settle up in the large room we all will be staying in. Aside from Grendel, of course. He is in the stables. I hear they fixed him up pretty well though.
It wasn’t too long after our arrival that the commotion started — other house soldiers and sworn were arriving. Serys, ever pragmatic, downed an ale and ordered another. The Olarans immediately took to him, which kept them off our backs. Accommodations certainly for the elf — he got to let use and helped keep us out of trouble. Smart indeed.
The problem with Last Calls in an Inn like this is the noise keeps you up — then again, I didn’t have a preference to sleep anyways. Around 5am a knock at the door. Serys is dropped into my arms by four very drunk Olarans. A salute to the passed out elf and they stagger off.
I order my second, the units Third, RFC Gracelyn Moldova, to patch Serys up. Blood had seeped through his clothes and he was passed out drunk. At least he wouldn’t feel anything for a while. With is bandages properly changed, we settled back in for a casual few more hours.
The scuttlebutt from the Inn suggested the Noble Last Call started around 8pm. Seems they got pretty rowdy. Who knew?
Around 7am that morning, Paladin Sebastian was taken from us. His holy assistance was requested. Red Flags went up immediately, but there was nothing I could do until directly summoned. So, we broke our fast and waited some more. Given I did not celebrate so heavily (for me I was still on duty) I made it a point to greet every Olaran who staggered out into the common hall with a loud, upbeat voice. There is always an ass like that somewhere — this time it was me.
The rumors began to flood in around noon. Having greased the palms of the keeper and his working girls during the celebration for their hard work, the Inn Keeper was more amiable to chat with me. It was at this time I learned that Lord Erlgen, ruler of this keep, had passed during the night. It seems the old Lord had bedded a young, though attractive, maiden for one final romp and he passed away. Seems around 4am he was found dead.
A message was passed to me to enter the keep on official Ranger Business in regards to the death of the Lord of The Keep. We were to acquire the girl for “questioning”. The truth of the matter was to keep her safe. Apparently there was concern that someone might try and take her life or, in some fashion, bring her harm for what appears to be a case of unfortunate cause of events. Moldova and I go. The rest of the team lingers back.
We were denied entry due to the status of the keep. To help permit us entry and to avoid a political disaster, the guards at the door sent a runner for Sgt. Volstagg. In the mean time, turns out the Sergeant had sent Zathlan to acquire the girl internally. She managed to smuggle her into her room. From their, Paladin Sebastian escorted the disguised girl (Lady Zathlan’s handiwork) out a side passage that some castle paige had shown them.
It was around this time Sgt. Volstagg arrived and began to challenge the guards on our entry, keeping them from noticing the pair walking off towards the Inn. Finally, Volstagg acquiesced to the determined guards and sent us back to the Inn. I made it a prompt decision to enter our room, where poor Sebastian had this girl clinging to his limbs in terror. Moldova tried to say some kind words. Tried to. Apparently the poor girl took them the wrong way and immediately went to hyperventilating and passed out. Into Sebastian’s arms. Oh how fitting!
Not long after, we are informed to prepare ourselves for dinner. Apparently a Sir Hevain will be hosting us in the Inn. 3 hours pass and so he, along with Lady Zathlan and Sir Volstagg, arrive. He seemed amicable enough. I realized rather quickly he was far from the norm of nobility when he requested a table and benches be moved outside so Grendel could dine with us.
All in all, he is a rather pleasant fellow who confirmed what most of us always wondered — Sir Eric Halten is married! Though, from what I can gather, she might be the reason he stays away from “Home”. Our meal last past the setting of the sun. By the time Sir Hevain, Lady Zathlan, and Sir Volstagg departed us, it was well into the night. Surprisingly, the girl was still out. I guess the stress took its toll on her.
1st of Red Wolf
We started reporting to Eris twice a day. Morning and Night. Word on the table comes in again — Around midnight, the alarms went off again. I later learned that Sir Bolen walked into his room to find his wife, Lady Bolen, brutally hacked to death in her bed. Sgt. Volstagg took control of the situation and pointed out that the blood splatter did not depart by the doorway nor the window. Once more, this young paige pointed out a secret passage.
Volstagg and Sir Hevain took charge down the hall and arrived into the chambers of a one Sir Halten who was confused by their arrival, and likewise their means. Covered in blood and wielding a freshly used weapon, Sir Halten was asked to stand down. Once he was aware of his stained body, report says he immediately surrendered himself to Ranger Law.
It was around this time The Alpha Team was summoned through Eris. We were given orders to enter the compound and support Sgt. Volstagg. Now, with the Law behind me, I took the entire team. Grendel could not physically enter, but I would have him outside as needed. After all, I’m certain he could break a few windows and snatch people out if needed.
We were challenged by the guards once more. This time I did not back down from my post and informed this guard that by Ranger Authority, as is our right and legal purview, we will enter this keep and standing against us is impeding the law and investigation into a murder. The guard stared us down, surveying his situation. I heard Serys draw an arrow to his string. The guard then stepped aside.
Serys also had the insight to bring Sir Hevain’s men with us. We were now a small unit of significant power. We immediately met up with Sgt. Volstagg and we were briefed on the current situation. Instantly, we knew an Adept had to be involved. This unit had seen it happen too many times before. So, we began our investigation. As quickly as the Keep was closed, and with what we knew of how close and Adept had to be, it was likely our culprit was still confined.
Moldova and Daynor went off to try and detect the Adept. Serys and myself went off to interrogate the members of the keep for information and for alibis. It took us a day to get that done. Turns out we had quite the cast of nobles among our ranks. And some of it made things much more complicated.
Sir Bolen is a member of The Order of The Stagg (an Order that has become a bit of a Joke amongst those familiar with them) was the one filing the grievance against Sir Halten. By Olaran law, Halten could be executed immediately as they have all the evidence they need for a trial by combat. However, it is not Sir Bolen I worried over.. it was his guard, Sir Barrough that was the problem.
As it were, Sir Barrough is a member of The Order of The Bear. His soul purpose is to protect members of the Royal Family. If his fervor is any indication, Lady Bolen was related to The Noble House Olar. That was most likely why he was stationed to this house — protecting the Royal Blood. He, out of anyone, would not relent. He failed in his charge and he was dishonored. There is only one way to restore that.
Sir Mathras was also a bit heated as well — He is the Captain of Erlgen House Guard. This death happens on his watch and, once more, another noble is dishonored. Between Sir Mathras and Sir Barrough&****ip;we were in trouble.
Another person of note that caught my eye was Lord Boer of Reinhart. His appearance to the keep is his connection to Dame Gaulouen, the sister of Lord Erlgen. There was not much on him other than he and The Dame were&****ip;close.
The people that were not accounted for in our investigation were Sir Hevain, Dame Gaulouen, Lord Boer, and Vicar Olman (the family clergy) and the three sisters. While I could not be certain, at the time, I feel that Sir Hevain was innocent in all of this. Call it a gut feeling. The Dame and her escort — it didn’t take much imagination to figure out where they were. Though, I will admit, having seen her, at first I thought she was a banshee..
The Vicar is..well.. The vicar. Openly challenging the Vicar might bring the wrath of the church. I wasn’t interested in that.
2nd of Red Wolf, 3126
We were wrapping our heads around the information to the best of our abilities when Sebastian, the girl still stuck to his arm, pointed out an inconsistency in the narrative. Sebastian, being the only one of us who had been in the chapel, commented that we were missing a sister. He had laid eyes on a fourth. Sir Halten confirmed that only three sisters existed.
With Sebastian’s help, we got a general description and rounded up the women who met it. Well, I didn’t. That was Sir Hevain and Volstagg’s task. I maintained diligent watch over Sir Halten with the rest of the team, aside from Daynor — he was to find the Adept in the room. Chaos, of course, soon followed.
Upstairs, Volstagg and Daynor were assaulted by the knights and the nobility turned on themselves and were trying to kill one another. Daynor, just before, reported being overwhelmed with the power of The Adept. It is speculated that this Adept is as powerful, or more so, than Eris. This could potentially explain why so many people were controlled at once. Worse, they were unable to attack the Nobility.
Olaran law states that, if it is speculated than an Adept is influencing a Nobles action and they are slain, it is still considered murder as the party had reasonable doubt that the Noble was under an external influence. Annoying, but a Law they were bound too.
Likewise, in the dungeon below with the rest of us, Serys turned and fired an arrow into the throat of Sir Halten. Before I could react, he fired another arrow into me, drawing blood. Had Sebastian not tackled Serys, I would have likely tried to cut him down with my two-hander. Instead, Sebastian saved the elf’s life. I joined The Paladin in grappling with the controlled Archer and I shouted at Zathlan to break his arm. She delivered.
A sickening crack hit the room and Serys fell. I began to issue orders once freed from my grapple. I sent Sebastian in to check on Halten and began to coordinate a plan with Moldova. She had non-lethal means and, from my very abrupt conversation with Daynor, I was informed of Volstagg’s situation.
Sebastian was unable to assist Sir Halten so I ordered Daynor down to us to because he said he had a greater healing potion. He was to give it to Halten and Moldova and I were to start our way out to support Volstagg.
Before we could move, however, the field changed. I was brought to my knees with burning, white hot fire through every fiber of my being. Everything dropped. Daynor’s connection with me, the puppet on Serys. All of it was banished. As the magic faded, the fires did too and I was able to catch my breath. Near me I heart Serys screaming about his broken arm.
I collected my sword and slowly brought myself back to my feet when I heard the clank of armor. I informed the team to ready themselves for battle. It was not necessary. Colonel Wolfhaven had arrived.
Grendel had battered down the doors to the keep and in good time. Wolfhaven rode Thunder right through the front door. The downside is that in the confusion the Adept most likely got free. A hole in the wall, most of the guards occupied. Let alone the degree of magic exerted.. Who knows how or when, but it’s assured they got out.
Wolfhaven took charge of the Keep under authority of both Ranger Law and Orders from The King. Both Ranger and Olaran law had unified to bring a resolution to this. And there is no better a man to do it, than my Lord.
Assessment — I suspect that the ultimate motive was Velkalar related. From the meeting Volstagg had with the broker, Sir Halten was on the table for protection. Since we denied the deal, he was not safe. Killing Sir Halten isn’t the goal — it was to dishonor him. Ruin everything that matters to him and, subsequently, take away Volstagg’s friend.
I am sure, regardless, there will be political repercussions, but for the most part Sir Halten is unscathed. Given the order of lineage, the Keep falls to Sir Halten. While there were some rough boughts, ultimately this evil plot was stopped under his watch.
I would also like to comment on Olaran Justice. While I am Olaran, through and through, and love my country, I find that, in this case, people were too quick to jump to wanting it. Anyone who knows Sir Halten knows he would not willfully throw away all his hard work. He is a Royal Warden of Olara — a voice of The King. Very few ever hold such a position. I do not see him throwing all of his efforts away like that. And yet, in the name of the obvious, people screamed for justice. Blindly ignoring the obvious because it isn’t a “fact”. This is a concern of mine. We can not rely simply on the “truths” in front of us. We need to take into more abstract concepts and follow our gut. Forgive me&****ip;this became a bit of a social commentary. My apologies.
In either case, we now have a potential identity of an Adept of extreme power under the employ of Velkalar. A small woman. We have a gender and a size. It’s a start, though vague. Perhaps we can get some intelligence gathers to see what their feelers can find. Maybe legends or lore about a small girl with extreme powers.
Overall, I feel the team worked with cohesion and was sharp. To my understanding they handled themselves admirably when dealing with the nobility and we escaped drawing ourselves into any complicated matters on an individual basis.
I may write a correspondence to Sgt.Minor Whitestone in Kythros. I know she is no longer apart of our unit, but I can not help but feel she would be pleased to know we performed to what I would think would be her standards. Her influence is felt even without her here with us. The Discipline she instilled paid off.
Corporal Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven.
Three deaths, and not a single funeral. The Boy, The Old Man, and The Young Lady&****ip; The first two I understand, but the third. Why should she have had to die, and in such a savage way?
Strange to say, but up until the unpleasantness of late, I cannot say that I haven’t enjoyed myself a little. Olarans do know how to throw a proper last call. That, the accommodations, and my company, have been especially agreeable.
The team is almost to the point where they do not need me.
That is well enough, as I worry that I may holding them back. I feel as if I am from a time which has passed. I do not know what else I might give them.
But enough about that. They have made me proud these last few days.
For my part, I pretty much drank, got yelled at, and nearly started another war.
(I think I have a drinking problem. Not the fact that I drink, mind you. But the fact that when I drink, I can’t seem to shut up, and I end up talking too bloody much.
I did get to tell Halten to **** off. So, that’s something&****ip;)
They, on the other hand, have performed impeccably. The team has been a model of efficiency, and have done their duties admirably. I intend to seek a round of promotions (if nothing else commendations) for some, if not all of them.
We departed Echer?aught several days before. The procession rode at a steady pace, and all that my team needed was accommodated for. The roads were cleared for our approach, and with nothing to delay us, we arrived at the Erlgen Keep unscathed.
I had been here at least once before, during the last summer when I was squired with the Eckharts. For a moment my thoughts spiraled back to the last fateful summer of my youth. That road ended in an unpleasant place, so before it took root, I snapped back to the moment.
As we arrived, Ostermark hobbled over and gave the team a rundown on what to do and not to do while they were inside the keep. Of course, they would be billeted in the local inn, as only Nexus and myself would be allowed within the walls.
Owing to our titles, we were given a comfortable suite of rooms, within the keep itself.
Before entering the walls, most of the group peeled off and into town. Only the guest went forward, and we were greeted with much fanfare. The riderless horse, which represented the boy, was in the lead. Halten followed, and we of his entourage were behind.
The household Knights formed an honour-guard, and the keep’s staff lined the flanks. It was a solemn affair, as these things usually are.
We were seen inside the gates, where our horses were taken by the stablers. Once within the keep, we were given a brief audience with the Lord of the Manor, Elgern, and were shown to the foyer where refreshments were served.
During that time, I was introduced to Sir Hevane, Who as I found out was one of Eric’s oldest friends. He has an easy countenance, and is well-built for a man of his age. Some might call him a “silver fox”, but he is still a formidable warrior.
As it would happen, I already knew several of the individuals present. Some I knew from the time in my own house, some from my time spent at House Eckhart, and others still from acquaintances I had made while serving with The Wall. Blessedly, the smalltalk came relatively easy.
I noted that once outside the audience chamber, Halten started drinking. Not passively either, but with purpose. Much to our chagrin, we soon found out why.
From across the room, we heard her. The resignation on his face was almost palpable, as we witnessed the approach of the Lady Halten.
I think the word “harpy”, does not begin to describe the woman. I was always taught never to judge a book by it’s cover, however the woman appeared to have already eaten the book as well as the man who wrote it&****ip;
He found himself beset at once, by her considerable ire. Much to his credit, he never flinched from the fusillade of of scathing accusations which she leveled at him. Everything from philandering, to the squandering of his funds, to the fact that he never wrote, and on and on, etc ad-nauseum. (Of course, some of these things were true. But now, I understand that he may have been at least partially justified.)
For his part, Eric simply responded with quiet exegesis, placations, and supplications. His composure was admirable to say the least.
I learned that day that Eric might, in fact, be a better man than I am, for when she had exhausted the breadth of her terrific vocabulary on him, she turned on the rest of his party.
She gave Ser Hevane a proper dressing down. He took the whole thing in stride, as he looked at her over the rim of his cup. He never said a word, but I could see the corners of his mouth turned up, and I became afraid that he might be about to let a smile slip.
Not actually knowing me, I only received a few generalized barbs. That is when she noticed Nexus.
She screeched, “Is this the hussy?!” (I assume in reference to one of Eric’s real or perceived consorts.)
I don’t slap women. (Unless they request it&****ip;) However, I was already feeling the effects of the wine, and it took a good deal of restraint not to strike her across one of her ample chins. Of course to do so, would have crossed many of several barriers that I was and am not prepared to breach. Foremost of these is the fact that, frankly, I don’t believe I could have taken her.
When I looked over, I realized that I’ve never seen an Elf go red with anger. Turns out, it is equal parts hilarious, and terrifying. I was about to interpose myself, when Eric stepped in. He managed to wrangle her away, and the potential disaster was averted. With a look of apology, he led her away, and Hevain broke the silence with a long sigh of relief.
After more drinks, and introductions, we were shown to our quarters.
After a few hours we were summoned into the grand hall. There we had a feast, and the Last Call for the boy. It was a proper sendoff, and many of us stood to propose a toast. After all the compliments had been said, the party continued well into the evening. After everyone had gotten soundly drunk, we began making our way back towards our quarters. I saw Nexus to her room, and I went next-door to my own. Fumbling in the darkness, I left my clothes in a pile next to the bed, and laid down.
For once, I was actually having a pleasant dream&****ip;
Next thing I know, it’s the wee hours of the morning, and the alarm is being shouted throughout the hallways. I stumbled to my feet, and in the meager light, went to the door which joined the rooms together. I banged upon the old wood, and apparently she had been awakened as well, for Nexus opened the door within moments.
Fortunately, she wasn’t as drunk as myself, and so was awake and reasonably alert. She must’ve been as shocked as I was, because she didn’t really say anything. She just stood there, with one hand covering her mouth.
I, on the other hand, hadn’t even had the chance for a proper hangover. All things considered, she took being accosted by a large hairy man, in the dead of night, pretty well.
“I don’t know what’s happening. Stay here until I get back”, I think is what I said. She acquiesced with a nod, though she looked very uncomfortable with the entire thing.
When the door shut, it was pitch dark, and I fumbled for my trousers. I found only my drawers, and awkwardly yanked them on. Finally, I grabbed the ******* from it’s scabbard, and took flight down the hallway.
(&****ip;only just now, while writing this, do I realize my mistake. Pants should always come first. ****. This explains much&****ip;)
As I burst out, the hall was already filling with nobles in various states of undress. I shouldered my way through, and eventually found the source of the alarm. To my dismay, it was the personal chambers of the Lord himself.
As it happened, Halten, Hevane, and myself all arrived at nearly the same time. Fortunately, besides the serving staff, we were the first to the room. Halten was already within, and Hevane was outside the door, wearing even less than myself. (You know, for a man of fifty or so years, he’s in pretty good shape. I mean, nice hair, muscle tone, and&****ip; Never mind.)
I looked through the portal, and what I saw left me with equal parts shock, amusement, and quite frankly, admiration.
The naked (and still at full attention) form of Lord Elgen was sprawled across the bed. Standing beside the bed, and in obvious shock, was one of the young serving girls. She was almost stark naked&****ip; and quite pretty.
“****!”, exclaimed Halten.
Drunk as I was, it did not take me long to puzzle out what was happening.
The girl regained her senses enough to break for the door. Surprised ourselves, we made little move to stop her, and she darted into the darkened corridors.
We took up watch positions, and closed the door to keep out any onlookers. The Vicar, the church staff (I was hoping that Sebastian would be included in that mix), and the castle physician were called for, though it was obvious the man was dead. The cause itself, was quite apparent as well. The old rascal had suffered a heart attack in the arms of his young “consort.”
(On a personal note, I applaud the old man’s final efforts. It certainly puts a new spin on the phrase, “to walk through the valley of death.”)
Unfortunately, it was about that time that Lady Halten arrived. She was mostly kept out of the room, but she was in hysterics. She was screaming that the girl had murdered her father, and she was calling for her head on a pike. At that point, I knew that there was nothing to do, but get to to the girl first.
That is when it happened&****ip;
Like rolling thunder, and in a cacophony of loathsome, spit flying, unmitigated rage, she came on like an overstuffed she-demon.
“Lady Halten&****ip;”, I started.
“You *******!”, was her introduction, and I knew that this was going to take a while. She was either aware, or had made the correct assumption, that I had, or was going to dispatch my people to find the girl.
For my part, I said naught, as she assailed my every sensibility. Standing there, I let my mind wander, and I hoped that Nexus and Audric were faring better than myself. Eventually, (and by that I mean after three or more hours) she began to flag. She was panting, and had practically worked herself into a lather. Honestly, after a while I begin ignoring her completely. The sound was something akin to standing in a great cloud of bees.
Despite all that was going on, Ser Hevane and myself couldn’t help but chuckle at the circumstances. “Honestly, I envy the man”, he remarked. I agreed, and that brought another round of stifled laughter. Some lewd references were made, and I shall not repeat them here, but before long the scene was secured.
During that time the Vicar asked to have Sebastian (fortuitous, no?) dispatched to to the chapel. Seeing an opportunity, I sent a message with a brief explanation to the inn, for to have Audric send Sebastian, and to take the girl in for questioning. I knew they would be looking for her, and I intended to intercept the lass before they did. At least if she was in Ranger custody, and with a pending investigation, she would be safe. It was a stretch, I figured. But I could not sit idly and let the poor girl be killed.
I knew that the keep was locked down, and my team had little chance of getting inside the walls, but I did not say as much to Audric. I needed the effort to be an earnest one, and Audric is nothing if not earnest. I knew that they probably wouldn’t find the girl, but I knew who, if anyone, could.
Hours had passed, and finally
Halten released us. Fearing for time, I made my way directly back to the chambers.
I hurriedly recounted the night’s events to Nexus, and gave her a VERY accurate physical description of the girl. Without hesitation, she set off to find her. When she was away, I hurriedly dressed myself, and made my way back toward the foyer. It was approaching the eighth hour, so I reckoned the girl had been on the lamb for about four hours.
On my way, I was found by a Page, who directed me towards the front gate.
I excused myself, and exited the front door. From the gate I could hear Audric. It didn’t sound like he was causing a scene, but he was definitely persistent. The Paige showed me to the guard, and the guard directed me to an unhappy Audric. He and Gracelynn had arrived as I had ordered, and just as I had suspected were denied entry. I explained very carefully that this was to become a Ranger investigation, yet the guard did not relent.
Seeing that we were getting nowhere, I asked Audric and Gracelynn to remain at the gate, and told the guard that I would return shortly. I raced back inside, and took a circuitous route to our conjoined chambers. Much to my relief I found Nexus and the girl safe within the quarters, and Nexus was putting her considerable makeup skills to use on the girl. Honestly, I don’t know how she was able to find her so quickly. The fact that Nexus seemed hesitant about the details gave me pause, but as it was I was just happy to have the girl in our charge.
She must have remembered me from earlier, as the poor thing recoiled in fear. I assured her that I meant no harm, and it was decided that she would exit, in disguise, using Sebastian as cover.
At this point, all I can say is that I am very thankful for my team. I am no good when it comes to the more covert methods of operation, and each of them play their part perfectly.
Nexus had done an admirable job of disguising the girl. (I mean, seriously. A really good job. With makeup, she was at least an 8/10&****ip;) My luck, not to be outdone, would be that Sebastian was nearby and had completed his duties within the chapel. (So the ascended may have their uses after all&****ip;)
Anyway, I made my way back toward the gate, where everyone was still waiting. At some point there was a trade-off, and with our little distraction, the girl left through a side entrance with Sebastian. About that time, I saw Audric glance out of the corner of his eye.
Loathe as I am to admit it, Audric is pretty good. His countenance never belied what he was looking at, yet I had a feeling all was going well. They were exiting, at the time that we were arguing with the guards. After the brief but tactful disagreement, I gave the two of them leave to return to the inn. Also, we concurred that it would be best to inform Echérnaught of the most recent events. Once the pair were safely away, is when we parted company.
(I do not know what happened in the interim, but as I understand it the girl developed quite a connection with our Paladin-friend. I had no idea that Sebastian was so persuasive. I mean, he is handsome&****ip;
Nor did I have any inclination that Gracelynn could be so utterly terrifying. Apparently she nearly gave the poor girl a death of fright. I shall remember to stay out of her way from here on!)
That evening, Ser Hevane offered to sponsor a dinner for the team. He, Nexus, and myself, went into town several hours later. They were already setting up when we arrived, and Hevane suggested that we dine outside, so as to accommodate Grendel. I thought that a very courteous gesture. (In hindsight it gives me pause, and I wonder if he was looking for any favor in return.)
As it was, my team and some of Hevanes’ men had already become acquainted the night before. Aparantly Serus was quite the hit with the Olaran soldiers&****ip;
For my part, it was nice to share a meal together. We dined and drank into the evening, and with a final briefing, the three of us returned to the keep.
It should be noted, that at this point, I have no trepidation about leaving the team under Audric’s watch. With Gracelynn as his second, the team functions very smoothly. Meanwhile, we were forced to play politics&****ip; They on the outside, and we on the inside. This night, the arrangement would prove to be life-saving.
We returned, and were asked to wait for an audience with Ser Halten. With that, we bid good night to Ser Hevane. (There is something strange between the two of them. I can’t put my finger on it, but it seems like something is amiss. Perhaps I am just imagining things.) After some delay Nexus, and myself were shown to Ser Halten’s quarters, and the humor in the room was icy. Realizing immediately, our cool reception, Nexus excused herself. I did not blame her in the least.
For the next few hours Ser Halten and myself discussed some personal matters at length.
In the name of good taste, I shall not recount the nature of our conversation. Suffice to say, Halten was left in something of a tight spot after the passing of his father in law. We stayed up for a good while drinking, and talking. While he was in a sour mood, I believed he felt confident in his ability to handle the situation.
The hour had grown quite late, and I excused myself to seek my rest. Once I’d confirmed that Nexus was in her room, I entered my own, and made sure to lay my clothes out for handy retrieval. I laid down, and again, was met with a reasonably pleasant dream. Unusual&****ip;
Unfortunately, sometime in the predawn hours the alarm was, again, sounded.
“What the ****!?”, I exclaimed as I rose. This time I made sure to adequately clothe myself, and again, I snatched the ******* from it’s sheath. I went toward the door, however this time Nexus beat me to the draw. She was clothed in a nightgown, and had her war-hammer in her hands.
Saying little, we headed toward the source of the alarm. Along the way, we encountered and picked up Ser Hevane.
We arrived at, what I knew was, the chambers of Ser and Lady Bolen. (Cousin to the royal family.)
“Bloody ****&****ip;”, I thought as we muscled our way inside. Groups of men were running through the halls, and they had their swords drawn. Of note, one of the groups was led by Ser Barrough. A small crowd had gathered, and we had to push our way through.
With all the events of the past forty eight hours, nothing had yet prepared me for what lay within.
Stepping inside we found Ser Bolen, hysterical. He was on his knees, and pounding the floor with his fists. Upon the bed, lay the body of his young wife. She had been hacked to pieces, and very nearly dismembered. Blood was everywhere. The bedding had been cut to ribbons, and it appeared as if she were attacked while sleeping.
Her eyes will remain with me until my last day. They were open, and staring at the ceiling. Eternally transfixed in a state of shock, terror, and pain.
(I should admit that I was taken aback by the entire scene. For the second time in the last two days, I caught a glimpse of what had been. The man pounding on the stone&****ip; The dead girl. It was almost too much, and my blood ran cold with a calculated intent. I tried to reign it in, but the anger felt like a hot knife in my guts.)
Looking about the room, I was struck by the absence of blood around the windows and door.
I suggested that the attacker had not exited through either.
A familiar Paige was in attendance, and pointed out an odd looking tapestry on the far wall. I went to investigate, and found a passage behind it. I asked Lady Zathalin to remain to guard the passageway while Ser Hevane, and myself plunged headlong into the darkened tunnel. I gave her my cloak so that she would not be mistaken, and we were off.
Behind us I heard the voices of both Ser Barrough, and Ser Mathras, as they secured the room. I knew they wouldn’t be far behind, and I hurried forward.
I hated to leave Nexus to fend for herself however, she is formidable in her own right. Not to mention what might’ve awaited us on the other side of the darkened portal. The tunnel was dark, but the smell of blood was strong. We continued on until we saw a sliver of light in one of the recesses.
I cocked the ******* for a swing, and together we burst through the hidden door.
Eric stood alone in the center of the room. His bed clothes were saturated in blood. Most ****ing was his sword. He blinked as if coming out of a daze and opened his mouth to speak.
“What’s the meaning of this?”, he asked.
He must’ve seen the look on my face for he looked about himself, and then to his own hand. The sword slipped from his grip, and clattered on the stone floor.
“I surrender”, he said mildly, putting his hands in the air. I heard voices outside as teams of men prowled the halls. I could not let him die. Not like that, and suspecting, myself what had happened.
Hevane immediately suggested taking him into my own custody, under the authority of the Rangers. He knew as well as I did, that it was the best hope for keeping Halten alive.
I did not have much time to consider my options. I knew that by doing so I would directly interpose myself between the Crown and the Rangers. This would not be taken lightly, however the rest of the team would be protected by the curtain of Ranger authority. At this point, I believe that I may have chosen his life over my own.
“I am placing you under arrest”, I said. I knew that my standing was tenuous at best, but I had no other recourse.
I grabbed him by the collar, and with Hevane leading the way, we spirited the Royal Warden away to the keep’s prison. Hevane became separated as he was running interference to obfuscate our flight.
I knew they would only be a few steps behind us, and I had to get him into a cell immediately. At least by doing that, it would help to legitimize the authority that the Rangers had placed our newest prisoner under.
For her part, Nexus had stemmed the tide, and kept any pursuers at bay. I don’t know how, but whatever she did, I am thankful. She saved my life&****ip; or extended it at least.
As we neared the lower level, my worst fears were realized. We rounded a corner, and I found myself face-to-face with Sers Barrow and Bolen. I moved several pieces ahead of Halten, and made no move to raise the *******. Their steel was already drawn, and Bolen stepped toward me.
“Sonofabitch”, I muttered to myself.
“Stand aside&****ip;”, Bolen began.
I’m prepared to defend myself, but instead I heard from behind the two of them, “Aha! We’ve got them surrounded!” It was Hevane.
Bolen again demanded that I stand aside, upon orders from the Crown. I politely informed him that this was, in fact, now a Ranger matter, and that I would not. I expected them to attack, but instead he swore an oath against Halten, the Rangers, and myself. They ordered the castle to be locked down, for that no one should enter or depart.
The two of them lowered their guard, and stared at us with murderous intent as we passed.
It was at this point, that I felt a pressure inside my mind. Once we were clear, I allowed the distraction, and Eris made contact. I explained the situation as quickly as I could, and asked her to deploy the team to my position. She seemed fairly placid despite the fact that I may or may not have started another war. This time with the Olarans&****ip;
It’s good to make friends.
I had just finished explaining the situation as we found the jailer. He didn’t particularly seem to care what was going on, and he simply locked Halten away without even a word.
I turned to face the corridor, as I expect an attack most any moment. Halten was standing just on the other side of the bars, and leaned forward to quietly say, “If you go now, it will be over. You can walk away.”
“**** you Halten&****ip;”, I said as I trudged away to secure the doors.
(I would be remiss if I did not point out the ever so small satisfaction that I got from that. Hehe.)
Presently, the rest of the team arrived with the girl in tow. Somehow they had managed to round up a few of Hevane’s men. I do not know what they promised, but at that point I did not really care. Thankfully they had muscled their way inside before the official orders were given, and the keep was sealed entirely. Owing to his size, Grendel was permitted within the walls but not within the house itself.
Needless to say, the next day and a half were tense. We had all but barricaded ourselves in the downstairs area, and the only supplies we had more what the team had on them. Fortunately Audric had prepared well and conditions remained livable.
We remained in contact with Eris twice a day. Upstairs I figured that they were plotting. Our stalemate had turned into a siege.
The Kings emissaries would certainly be on their way, and our only hope was that our own reinforcements would arrive before any bloodshed.
The next day was spent gathering what information we could. Daynor and myself made it a point to go throughout to keep and search for signs of an adept. He detected traces of magic, but it was fading.
Everywhere we went, those who we encountered more openly hostile. No surprise there, but it certainly did not make our job any easier.
We had compiled a list of names associated with the events in question, but nothing seemed to make sense. The break came when someone had mentioned the three sisters in mourning.
Sebastian piped up and corrected that there had been four. From there things begin to come together. As the realizations began to dawn on me, I realized just how unobservant I had been. Armed with a basic description of a small individual with feminine characteristics, we decided that we would need to scan individuals matching that profile, and that it would be easier done in a group. Of course, to say that was much easier than actually doing it.
Every step we took forward was hampered by Bolen, Mathras, Boer, and Barrough.
Eventually through guile and persuasion, we managed to round up a collection of said individuals. We included the girl in that number, as Lady Halten had sequestered herself somewhere within the keep, (possibly with the Rindhardts) and we figured that she would be reasonably safe.
Daynor and myself proceeded upstairs, and left the rest of the team to guard the cell. When we arrived a crowd had formed.
They were there to see the downfall of the Rangers, and myself. It made me angry if I’m being honest. For so long, I was one of them. I gave people like these everything. All I had to give, I gave away. And now, because I did what was right by the order that I serve, they could scarcely wait to see us fail.
Ignoring their heckling, and curses I ordered Daynor to begin his scan.
At that exact moment, it happened. I watched Daynor go to his knees as he reached for his temples. The room around me exploded in a flurry of action, and many of those who had weapons drew them. At once about half the crowd begin laying into one another. It was pandemonium. (I’m pretty sure I saw an old lady crack a vase over a squires head.)
Before it had begun to register with me, what was happening, Ser Bolen delivered a wicked strike. My first thought was that he had attacked me out of hand. Falling back I drew the *******, and prepared to go on the offensive. That was when Hevane struck at me as well. I’ll tell you this; the Silver-fox hits hard&****ip;
Coming to my senses I realized that we were dealing with a very, very powerful adept.
If I had to guess, I would say that we had gotten close. This was the adept’s last attempt at doing as much damage, and being able to extricate themselves as easily as possible.
Figuring that I was about to die right there, I vowed not to do so dishonorably. I said about defending myself best I could, but within a few moments I had nearly been cut down. Seeing no other option I rushed Hevane, and about the time that we crashed onto the floor the spell was shattered by another powerful burst of energy. Dozens of weapons hit the ground, and I heard cries for aid all around the room.
I ended up on all fours heaving for air, and bleeding profusely. The room had gone deadly silent, and I became aware of the sound of hooves on the stone floor. We had ended up next to one of the benches that lined the walls, and I heaped myself onto it.
Through swirling version I looked up to see Wolfhaven, sitting atop his mount. I tried to snort out a laugh but only ended up hurting myself. In a few words, Daynor explained what was going on, and Baron Wolfhaven ordered me to get myself healed, then to get downstairs.
(I have not done so yet, but to be fair I thought it best to write this while my memory was fresh. But before someone starts going on about orders, I intend to. In hindsight that may have been a mistake because my vision is beginning to get a little swimmy. Also, Hevane hits hard&****ip; my head hurts.)
We have not even been debriefed yet, but as I understand it Serus tried to kill Halten. As a reward for his efforts, Nexus broke his arm. Hehheh&****ip;
Audric and the team have the scene secured, and we are waiting for further orders from Wolfhaven. Blessedly, the girl made it downstairs safe.
(And guess who she’s with! Big surprise, Sebastian. Sly bugger&****ip;)
At this point there is nothing to do except for to get healed, and try to salvage what we can from all this. I cannot even begin to imagine what ramifications this will bring about, as I’m fairly certain I have pissed off a great many of my peers&****ip; my schedule maybe full for a few days.
All in all I am very proud of my team. If it were within my power, I would give each of them promotions, or at least commendations. As it is, all I can do is request it here. They deserve it. They acted honorably, and have done a great credit to their order. (Despite what the nobility might say.) If the Rangers see fit, I believe that would be most appreciated. If the Rangers don’t see fit, I’ll do it my ****-self.
I’ve probably left a great deal out of this report, but to be honest I’m getting a little woozy&****ip;
-Völkstagg the Injured
PS: if you would, tell the Baron to expect a personal letter from me.
Also, we may want to look into why I was not targeted by the adept. They very easily could have, but for some reason I was left alone during the mental attack. Just a thought.
It was brought to my attention that my wording in my report dated “2nd of Red Wolf, Year 3126” might have been a recant of my sworn duties. I am writing this addendum to clear up any misunderstandings or communication issues. The wording in question is as follows
" As a former House Sworn, I was already familiar with most of it. "
I am a Sworn to House Wolfhaven. He honored me by accepting my oath and my burdens. I apologize if it seemed that my words indicated that I had withdrawn my oath. That could not be farther from the truth. I shall be forever loyal and serve my Lord’s House for as long as he shall deem me worthy.
What I was referencing in that line was my time as a House Guard to my former house, House Henrik. My wording choice was poor and I take full responsibility of it and any dishonor it might have brought is my burden to bear.
I humbly ask that you excuse my folly and accept my apologies in earnest.
Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven
Campgain Report 88
History Repeats itself Again
Ninth Day of Red Wolf, Year 3126 Under the Light
It is odd. History is my world. Reports, documents, tomes, ledgers, books, all. I know more, sadly, of the events of a thousand years ago than I do of my colleagues, having little time for friends and social activities.
What continually strikes me to the core is the repetitive, cyclical nature of the flow of time and events. What was, will eventually be, again, and again. Live long enough, and I am certain that life devolves into just a series of inescapable routines. Like an endless repeat of a bad mummers performance.
Red Wolf 2nd, 3126
My recounting of events follows upon the heals of my previous report of Red Wolf 2nd. Colonel Wolfhaven had arrived with a contingent of Wolfhaven Free Company of Riders, along with the young Brinchie scout, Newt. In the immediate aftermath of the the “unpleasantness” caused by the rogue adepts mass-puppet Discipline. At the time of his arrival, Alpha team was separated.
Sergeant Volstagg was in the main hall, recovering from his wounds. He had yet to obey Colonel Wolfhaven’s command to see a healer, but he was soon to rectify that oversight. Grendel waited in the courtyard just outside the main hall’s open doorway where the ogre had apparently been patiently waiting for two days while the rest of the team conducted their investigation. Newt also waited outside, with considerably less patience. Having been given no further orders than to “wait,” the young brinchie stalked the open door like a housecat waiting to be allowed inside.
RFC Daynore had just been ordered to begin to secure the hall until Sergeant Volstagg was fit for duty. The rest of the team waited below in the keeps dungeon with the unconscious and incarcerated Sir Halten, Royal Warden and Sheriff of Echer’Naught.
Colonel Wolfhaven proceeded downstairs to verify Sir Halten’s condition and to check on his team. Meanwhile, the Wolfhaven Free Company of Riders proceeded to “secure” the keep and attempt to prevent the assassin from escaping. Though, as it happens, they were unsuccessful.
Once assured that Sir Halten was secure and did not require further medical attention, Colonel Wolfhaven ordered the remainder of Alpha team to join Sergeant Volstagg in the main hall and assist in securing the keep. He requested that Brother Sebastian remain with Sir Halten and monitor his condition.
Back in the main hall, Sergeant Volstagg had finally managed to find a healer and was just finishing up. Newt prowled around, having been permitted inside by Sergeant Volstagg. The noble assemblage had also vacated, most returning to their rooms, or offices to discuss the “situation.” Colonel Wolfhaven reminded Corporal Amaroth to of his orders to secure the keep before taking Sergeant Volstagg aside to ascertain what travesty of events had led to the current crisis.
The exact conversation has not been recorded, but leaving the meeting, Colonel Wolfhaven departed to join the other nobles in discussion and Sergeant Volstagg exited to deliver a new set of orders to his team.
Newt and Grendel were ordered to make their way back down to the village in case the assassin/adept attempted to steal transportation. From subsequent reports we learn that the pair arrived shortly thereafter and arrived upon the scene of a band of five toughs, hired men-at-arms for a few low status knights attending the funeral, assaulting and robbing the local inn. Grendel and Newt immediately attacked. Grendel shoving his face in the doorway and unleashing a horrifying bellow which unmanned the thugs, and Newt drawing her blades with heedless abandon, rushing, and cutting down the nearest with two strikes. Only by the grace of the Ascended did the man not perish and place the team in even more legal jeopardy.
The remaining four fled out the back, Grendel chasing them to the edge of the yard. Wisely, he chose not to pursue, but returned and picked up the wounded, but still living man. Newt patrolled the streets while Grendel cuddled the unconscious man.
RFC Daynore and Ranger Serys were tasked by Sergeant Volstagg with tracking down the adept using Daynore’s abilities. They searched the entirety of the grounds but found no sign of the adept, or anyone under the assassin’s influence.
RFCs Moldova and Zathlan were ordered to find the page who had assisted in sneaking the girl out of he keep and finding the hidden passage through which Sir Halten had murdered Lady Bolen. Having had time to consider, Sergeant Volstagg suspected the page of potentially being the assassin, or, at the least, involved. Of all the searches, this was the most profitable as the page was readily available and willing to cooperate.
At Sergeant Volstagg’s request, and with permission from the man himself, RFCDaynore mentally scanned the page determining that he was not, in fact, an assassin. Which, odd enough, was corroborated by the page who was very forthcoming. RFC Amaroth believes him to be a sworn of the house, a member of the House Guard. I suspect otherwise.
Sergeant Volstagg took brother Sebastian to find the young girl. Corporal Amaroth had brought her to the keep just before the skirmish. She managed to slip away during the fighting, but had not gone far. She was cowering in a corner and wept when Sergeant Volstagg approached, though threw herself into Brother Sebastian’s arms. The girl secured, Brother Sebastian elected to take the girl to the village in, taking one of the Wolfhaven Free Company Riders for company.
All that was left was to secure the keep and wait.
Shortly after nightfall, horns were heard and the guards signaled riders approaching. Everyone rushed to the main hall just as a column of riders rode into the courtyard. At the head of the column, Lord Garren Olar, Captain of the The Royal Guard, Lord Commander of The Order of The Bear, and King’s personal bodyguard.
Before departing Echer’Naught, Colonel Wolfhaven cautioned that with the death of a member of the Royal Family, no matter how distant, under the charge of a member of the Order of the Bear, it was highly likely that the Crown would send an official representative. To send the King’s own bodyguard&****ip;the situation was far more politically charged than even he had presumed.
Lord Olar arrived without comment and ordered Colonel Wolfhaven to conference with him, charging HIS men with securing the Keep and the main hall. Having nothing more to do, and considering that the castle was now the most secure hold outside of the King’s own tower, Sergeant Volstagg ordered his team to get some well deserved rest.
Naturally, he and RFC Zathlan remained in the keep. Corporal Amaroth led the rest of the team back to the inn. For once, the night passed without incident.
Red Wolf 3rd, 3126
Before dawn, Sir Volstagg, and apparently RFC Zathlan, Sir Hevain woke Sergeant Volstagg with a summons from Lord Olar. Sir Hevain assisted Sergeant Volstagg don his armor while the page, who followed shortly, aided RFC Zathlan dress. Dressed for war, Sir Hevain and Sergeant Volstagg attended a tribunal held in the former Lord Erlgen’s office at the base of the keep.
At the head table sat Lord Olar and Colonel Wolfhaven presiding over the tribunal. Beside the Lord Commander, at a lower table sat Sir Bolen, Sir Barrough. Against he back wall, fumed Sir Mathras. Also in attendance, though not directly involved, Lord Boer of Reinhart, Dame Gaulouen, and Lady Halten.
Sir Halten stood before the high table, hale, and not in irons, though clearly judgement was being passed. Through Colonel Wolfhaven’s report, we gain a glimpse of the proceedings. Jurisdiction over the legal hearings was still contested between the Olaran and Ranger courts. However, the matter of the transfer of ownership and Lord Erlgen’s outstanding debt was not up for debate. If the Crown could not have his life, they would certainly have his fortune. Every creditor called on their debts. If Sir Halten could not pay, he would face debtors prison and be held there under Olaran law until such time as he could pay. The Rangers would have to wait until his debts were settled before the issue of his legal culpability in the murder would ever be decided.
As underhanded as it may seem, the Olarans WERE denied their straightforward resolution by Ranger interference. It would appear they are learning to play the Ranger’s games against them. Still, through some means, Sir Halten settled all debts levied against his estate, through "aggressive’ sale of most of his assets. If this was a targeted attack against Sir Halten or his team, he retains his life, and freedom for the moment, but her is effectively neutralized as a participating member in whatever future drama might unfold.
All of which occurred before Sergeant Halten and Sir Hevain ever entered the room. Just at dawn, Sergeant Halten was called before the tribunal. Lord Olar addressed the assemblage and informed the knights that the legal matter of which justice Sir Halten would face had been postponed until a higher court could rule on the matter in Olara itself.
However, charges against Sir Volstagg’s honor had been leveled. Lord Olara wanted to know from Sergeant Volstagg’s own words whether he acted with honor in respect to the Order of the Crimson Wall, and House Volstagg. I am still attempting to fully grasp Olaran law and justice, but if Volstagg did NOT act in accordance with his knighthly oaths, then I am unsure whether Lord Olar would have ruled that he could be challenged, though Sergeant Volstagg would almost certainly have been stripped of his title and disavowed, very likely exiled.
On the other hand, if he defended his actions as knightly, and faced the accusations as a knight and member of the Order of the Crimson Wall then he was subject to challenge. So, if he hid behind the cloak, he would be dishonored and exiled, if he did not, he would risk death. Hmm.
Ultimately, Sergeant Volstagg defended his decision as both a knight and Ranger, refusing to hide behind the veil of legality. With that, it was a matter of whose claim had most precedence, Sir Bolen for Sir Volstagg preventing his avenging the brutal slaughter of his wife, Sir Barrough for Sir Volstagg preventing his duties as an officer of the Crown, or Sir Mathras whose claim was now clearly not considered worthy. After all, his greater failure was that to his Lord, and allowing the Rangers to interfere in THAT investigation. Another matter most assuredly to be laid on Colonel Wolfhaven’s feet.
Of the two, Sir Barrough was the senior knight, a trained killer, and a calm strategist. Sir Bolen, by contrast, was barely 22 years old, recently knighted, and mad with rage. When it seemed that Sir Barrough had all but convinced the younger man to stand down, Sir Volstagg did something remarkable and uncharacteristic. He baited the boy, slighting his honor and driving him into a rage. With that, the boy challenged Sir Volstagg outright which Sir Volstagg accepted before any could object.
To reject such a challenge would be a loss of too great face, and so, with reluctance, Sir Barrough ceded his claim to the boy. With sorrow and pity Colonel Wolfhaven refused to object, deferring to Olaran justice in matters of honor. With that, Lord Olar allowed Sir Volstagg to choose time and place. He chose the following morning, at dawn, in the courtyard. Sir Volstagg chose Sir Hevain as his second, who readily accepted. Sir Bolen chose Sir Barrough unsurprisingly. Lord Olara recessed the room without fanfare and the assembled broke into hushed conversations as the various Lords, Ladies, and knights exited.
Outside, RFC Zathlan met Sergeant Volstagg and Sir Hevain in the cooridoor where they revealed the truth. Sir Hevain invited them both to join him at the inn for a drink, and the trio rode Sir Hevain’s carriage into town and joined the rest of the Rangers in the inn for a drink.
I believe Grendel, RFC Moldova, and Brother Sebastan were absent. But, the others sat and listened to Sir Hevain explain the situation and regale them with his own exploits while Sir Volstagg sat quietly and reflected on his impending duel. The drinks cold, the meal hot, the team relaxed for the evening. though, Corporal Amaroth did hire a local seamstress to sew a standard for Sir Volstagg in the crest of House Volstagg as he had no official representation at the duel.
Red Wolf 4th, 3126
Before dawn Alpha team rose and donned their finest gear. Brother Sebastian again remained with the girl. In the keep, again, Sir Hevain assisted Sir Volstagg prepare and together, Sir Vosltagg, Lady Zathlan, and Sir Hevain joined the already assembled court in the courtyard. There, Sir Volstagg, Sir Hevain, Sir Bolen, and Sir Barrough took their positions with the various onlookers standing in the unseasonably warm morning air.
In typical Olaran fashion, each knight was introduced without flourish, the charges read, and the men ordered to stand ready. And then, Sir Volstagg and Sir Bolen proceeded to attempt to hack each other to death. I am certain others could provide a rousing account of the actual duel filled with the gory details. I will say this. By all accounts, Sir Bolen acquitted himself well. But rage and anguish are no substitute for age and experience. In the end, Sir Volstagg cut the young knight down by cleaving through his shoulder and rib-cage. And then, for added effect, kicked him off his blade as if he were an unwanted carcass.
With a simple bloody act, Sir Volstagg was now cleared of any charged of dishonorable action. But, the bloodletting was far from done. As Sir Barrough moved to collect his fallen charge, Sir Hevain offered one final quip about the dead boy’s manhood. Already enraged by Sir Volstagg provoking the impressionable youth, and then so brutally killing Sir Bolen, Sir Barrough lost all composure for a moment, and in that moment he spoke out of anger, challenging Sir Hevain&****ip;who accepted.
It was a lapse of judgement on the part of Sir Barrough, but the challenge was uttered before witnesses. And like Sir Bolen, he could not withdraw his demand without server loss of honor. He too went to his death for it.
Now Sir Hevain and Sir Barrough squared off on the same killing field still wet with blood from the previous duel. However, this duel lasted but moments. Sir Hevain quickly outmaneuvered and with bloody efficiency cut down a member of the King’s Guard before his own Lord Commander. Then it was over. Olaran honor had been satisfied in the blood of two fine men and knights. All told, the death toll had climbed to four now, Lord Erlgen, Lady Bolen, Sir Bolen and Sir Barrough. Five if you count Lt. Halten who had yet to be interred.
If find I have lost any patience with Olaran funereal custom.
Lord Olara declared the matter closed and informed the crowed that he and Colonel Wolfhaven would be taking both Sir Halten AND the young girl to Olara where matters of justice would be decided. As the keep no longer belonged to Sir Halten’s family, the Rangers’ invitation had been withdrawn and they were ordered to depart within the day, unless they had a warrant.
Colonel Wolfhaven asked Sergeant Volstagg to see to his wounds and when he was able to ride, to assemble his team and return to Echer’Naught via the most expedient route. Then, he assembled his own men and returned to the keep. He and the Lord Commander would be departing for Olara first thing that morning and riding hard for the capital along with Brother Sebastian who would see to the girl.
I will note a couple curious exchanges. One, before storming off, the Lord Commander threatened Sir Hevain that “His Lady would hear of his actions.” The irreverent knight replied simply that “She already knew.” Also, the self-same Hevain apparently addressed RFC Daynore in Malakaran. His behavior becomes more suspect by the day.
Sergeant Volstagg had Alpha Team riding out of the village by nightfall taking an overland route home.
Red Wolf 5th, 3126
Making good time, the Alpha team cut cross country and crossed the Kore-Harken road. By their reports it was unseasonably hot for this early in season. All was well until just after mid day. The first indication of any trouble was Ranger Newt on point suddenly being hurled the ground. Heartbeats later, Sergeant Vosltagg was lifted from his saddle and slammed backwards by something passing straight through him armor at high speed.
Reacting quickly, Corporal Amaroth dropped from his saddle just as something punched through his body. He reports feeling a burning sensation and his strength sapping. Most likely poison. One of the oxen head exploded and Grendel took fire.
The Rangers scrambled, waking to the very real threat of a sniper somewhere in the area. Ranger Newt managed to dive into the grass as other Rangers scanned for the shooter. Grendel flipped the wagon as a makeshift barricade and the Rangers began to fall back to cover.
All except for RFC Moldova who stood in her saddle to get a better vantage and very nearly took a bolt through the eye. Instead, RFC Daynore dove to cover her and went down, as his standing orders were to protect the magic user.
By now, the others managed to reach the wagon. Ranger Newt elected to try and run out to scout the flank, maybe circle around the shooter. However, when she broke cover, a pair of bolt dropped her yards from the upturned wagon.
Sergeant Volstagg then decided to provide a distraction so his team could fall back out of range. Whistling his wartrained mount over, he quickly leaped into the saddle and galloped away, making it half a dozen yards before his mount went down. He sprang from the saddle and recovered his feet making another couple yards before taking a bolt in the chest and going down.
Now in charge, Corporal Amaroth asked for a volunteer to try and crawl slowly away from the cart, using it as cover long enough to clear the shooter’s range. Ranger Serys volunteered but asked for orders once he got away, assuming he was successful. They were days from any village and their Farspeaking adept was down. Corporal Amaroth had no answers.
Fortunately, RFC Daynore managed to contact Lady Moonsiver even in his condition. She tried to reach Sergeant Vostagg. Failing that, she contact Corporal Amaroth. Once briefed, she ordered him to remain behind cover while she tried to find reinforcements. For seven hours the team baked under the grueling summer sun. By night fall, Lady Moonsilver alerted the team that allies were enroute but would take hours to reach them.
Red Wolf 6th, 3126
Corporal Amaroth wanted to see if the sniper was even still out there. He held out his cloak on a stick. The answer was a bolt smashing though the cart inches from his ear. Only Ranger Serys managed to get any sleep that night. At dawn, RFC Zathlan heard a strange sound. Then, all heard it again. A horn, followed by the sound of thunder&****ip;no hoofbeats.
In the distance, the Alpha team spied a line of cavalry approaching their position at a full gallop. The cavalry line swept over their position and rushed the ridge line a few hundred yards away that they thought might hide their sniper. At the head of the cav rode Sir Halten!
He managed half a dozen yards beyond the wagon before he and his standard bearer were cut down. The rest of the cavalry thundered on and nearly reached the ridge when the ridge exploded into an arcfire fireball. The cavalry slowed and began to mill for a moment. Alpha team broke cover seeing as the threat had been neutralized. Serys woke at this time, confused, but rested.
RFC Moldova, and Rangers Serys and Grendel ventured out to recover Sir Halten’s body. As it happens, the body was not Sir Halten, but a young man wearing his armor. A Decoy. Bodies and armor were recovered. RFC Zathlan spied a lone rider approaching who was a Harken knight. The young man reported in and ordered the Rangers to gather their things. He also reported that the sniper had rigged the ridge behind him, catching the flanking scouts in the blast. The Olarans were searching, but so far there was no sign of the sniper. Presumably, he escaped during the confusion.
Within minutes, fresh horses were brought and the Rangers, other than Grendel, mounted and began much slower march home. The wounded, Sergeant Volstagg, RFC Daynore, and Ranger Newt were treated by healer and then expertly strapped to their mounts for travel.
Red Wolf 9th, 3126
The Alpha team arrived at the East Gate of Echer’Naught late in the afternoon. The Harken escort broke away at the gate and rode hard north. Ranger healers immediately descended on the team and placed the wounded on litters bound for the Echer’Naught Hospital (Formerly Red Lamp).
Sergeant Volstagg had to be literally cut from his armor and suffered major heatstroke by being left to bake in the sun. RFC Daynore and Ranger Newt’s injuries were less severe, but still serious. The rest of the Rangers, all suffering from heatstroke and severe burns, were treated at the Regional HQ’s infirmary. It will be weeks before the Alpha team is operational again. How long will it take them to recover emotionally, who can say. I hope we do not have a repeat of previous member’s behavior&****ip;
Before nightfall, RFC Moldova sought information on her brother. Sadly, he and his entire detail are still missing. As are many other’s in town. Rumors of bounties on key members of Echer’Naught governance and the Ranger command abound. Also, Sergeant Ravenwood is under heavy guard, her child coming soon.
Of interesting note, there is some serious discussion as to what to do for Madame Lillithien. She is, still, a “guest” of the Rangers. Arrest seems unlikely as she has not been charged with a crime, but she is a know agent of Shaya’Nor. With the current war ongoing. releasing her is bad press. Add to that, her asylum.
Nevertheless, the Echer’Naught Civic Building is complete, wrapping up phase two of his overall city improvement plan. Upon his return, Lord-Mayor Wolfhaven has announced a new plan of governance for the city. How recent events will play into his designs, remains to be seen.
Retired Captain Celebor, by all reports, is settling in to his new life as a civilian well. His exact whereabouts are a closely guarded secret due to his likely being a target for reprisal in our current situation. Though, there are many former member families still unaccounted for. No one has seen or heard from Streetrunner for Longtail’s kits in almost a year.
Grimbore’s Stone Tower Gather appears to have yet been hit, but Rangers have been dispatched just in case. Corporal Rildrirr continues to manage affairs at the Goblinesh Waystation south of Echer’Naught. Corporal Silverfeather continues to work feverishly with the Church of Light running messages between the local parishes and the rebuilding efforts in Archanaya. Sergeant Alystar also reports work on the city’s rebuilding efforts are going well.
Sir Regillius has almost completed repairs and improvements to the Wolfhaven Barony. He returns frequently to be with his wife, especially given her condition. RFC Leaora also continues her work, though with both High Druidess Treesinger and Sir Halten out of action, command of the joint efforts falls more squarely on her shoulders. She has been kept extremely busy of late.
I recently hear from Sergeant Whitestone. She is settling in well in Kythros. In fact, she has taken charge of the hunt for the escaped prisoners, vowing to bring back Ironblood, Zulcrum, and even Afliem. Eve is currently mia. We assume she hunts for her mother, but Treesinger is in no condition to track her down.
Also, it would appear that the Thieves Guild MAY be making a resurgence. At the very least, the King of Low Town has survived. We have confirmed reports of nightly sightings. However, we have attributed no fewer than a dozen reprisal attacks for the torching of the Thieves Guild headquarters. With the War in Camon, the situation in Archanya and Mindoth’s Tower, and, of course, the ever present Velkalar situation&****ip;not to mention growing unrest in the Desert Princes and Defiant Lands, local resources are simply stretched too thin to end the killing.
Fortunately the shadow war in the city has turned cold. While bodies drop, they do so without civilian causalities, or much notice. Count our blessings where we may?
In sum, there is a mix of good and bad. The city continues to grow and prosper despite all.
To: Echer’Naught Regional Command
Date: 9th of Red Wolf, year 3126
Mission Report Topics of Import – Velkalar, Sniper/Assassin
Heedless of the protest of my healers, I have committed to recalling the details since our last report as swiftly as possible to avoid anything from fading from my memories. With that said — Malcolm, please excuse if the papers seem a bit sloppy. They had to cover me in salve.. The blisters you see..
We shall resume from the arrival of my Lord, Colonel Wolfhaven&****ip;
Date: 2nd of Red Wolf, 3126
As we are recovering from the ordeal, Wolfhaven issues the Alpha Team orders to secure the keep. While we were trying to make heads or tails of the situation, Volstagg stepped to the door and acquired our feline friend — Newt. It seems she was brought along with the rest of the reinforcements from Echer’Naught. The more the better. My Lord then departed the keep on horseback with a few other riders. I was unable to catch who.
While we were briefing Newt, Col. Wolfhaven returned from a meeting with Sgt. Volstagg and had new orders. We were to secure the keep, secure the village, and see about tracking down the adept.
Well, we could do it but we would be stretched a bit thin. Still, we could do it. I sent Grendel and Newt off to the village. I figured an Ogre is an intimidating thing. Newt could also run down anyone outside as needed.
Report for Newt and Grendel: It seems the pair happened upon a handful of men-at-arms raiding an inn for supplies. Essentially, they were taking advantage of the chaos. Grendel, being Grendel, charged forward with a roar. Newt pounced on one of the men who were stunned by deafening shout of Grendel. I hear the man got lucky — he could have died. In either case, he was taken prisoner and the other four escaped. The prisoner, of course, was unconscious
It wasn’t until that evening that he was freed. Apparently Grendel had held him captive for several hours. The man woke up about two hours after his encounter. When I finally ordered Grendel to release him, I made sure to leave a lasting impression upon the man. I think he’ll be as straight as an arrow from now on.
Daynore and Serys I sent to track the Adept. Daynore for his ability to detect the Adept, and Serys because of his sharp eyes and tracking. Unfortunately the Adept was either long gone, or concealed beyond either of their means to locate.
Inside, Volstagg and Sebastian seek to find the young girl. She was found in the corner, cowering. Sebastian eased her mind and she clung to him like green on an orc.
Moldova and Zathlan went to seek out a very well informed Paige. This Paige, as it was reported to me, was always there at the right time with the right information. Given the circumstances, it was highly suspicious. So, they acquired him. He was easy enough to find.
By this time, Daynore had returned and the Paige submitted to a mind scan. He passed. It was then revealed he was Sworn to this house. I imagine he is a House Guard and not an ordinary sworn. We often call them the shady ones. They seem suspicious you see — no armor, always knowing things and secrets. Much like our Malakaran friend&****ip;
With little else going on, we posted up to secure the building.
Important Note*** If Zathlan ever reports a medical injury to her backside and it happens to be caused by an arrow, please let me know immediately. Do not ask why.
That evening, the sounds of horns drew us into the courtyard. My lord returned and he had some very esteemed guests. Sir Bolen, Barrow.. the works. It was who they had brought back, however, that caught my attention.
Lord Garren Olar — Captain of The Royal Guard, Lord Commander of The Order of The Bear, and the Kings personal bodyguard.
This meant a few things. 1) The Order of The Bear was heavily dishonored. 2) The Olarans were pressing the issue of legality of this ordeal.
All in all? This just got bad for Volstagg..
After a brief exchange, we are ordered back to our lodgings for sleep. Given the Lord Commander, Col. Wolfhaven, and a few other well renowned legends — I decided not to post watches. For once we actually slept.
3rd of Red Wolf, 3126
Turns out, I wasn’t far off my mark with my initial assessment. Volstagg and Sir Hevain were summoned early in the morning. This was, thankfully, not for a matter of legal issues, but of honor. Olaran Legality might be worse&****ip;
Lord Colonel Wolfhaven sat at the head table, next to Lord Commander Garren Olar. Off next to the Lord Commander sat Sirs Bolen and Barrow. Off to the side from there, Lord Boer of Reinhart neds to Dame Gaulouen and Lady Halten.
Sir Mathras was off in the corner. I imagine he was not happy, but given the order of things his dishonor came third in all of this. It was highly unlikely for him to get the opportunity to satisfy himself.
Let it be known that Lord Wolfhaven had none. This was, however, a matter of honor and by Charter, the Rangers were an Olaran Order. While this was not a public event, everyone knew what was going to happen.
From accounts by Sir Hevain, who was present for this, Volstagg gave an account of himself and spoke some words to Sir Bolen. Sir Hevain said, though perhaps in jest, that Volstagg had managed to manipulate the young lordling into continuing with his challenge. I suspect there is more to it than that&****ip; but in either case, there was still the matter of Sir Barrow. Sir Hevain said he had a plan for that..or would come up with one.
Still, the Law of The Land is with Volstagg. Which means that he shouldn’t face any legal ramifications. That, in and of itself, is a positive.
Mind you, the above information came to me when Sir Hevain brought Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan to the Inn we were garrisoned at. Interesting man he is..very different from the rest of the nobility. I suspect it is from the various experiences he has had in life. Truly — he has some of the most interesting stories!
In either case..the team spends the rest of the day at ease. I took on a personal matter to have created a Standard for Sir Volstagg. Sir Bolen would have his own. It only fair and fitting that Sir Volstagg, a knight of Olara, have his own representation. Being as this was not a matter of the Rangers, I took my own personal funds to do so.
4th of Red Wolf, 3126
I assemble the unit pre-dawn and have us take our places. The fight lasted maybe five or six exchanges, with Volstagg drawing first blood. It ended with his ******* sword cleaving into the young lordlings chest. Sir Bolen fought well — maintaining form. It wasn’t until his rage claimed him that he fell to Volstagg so easily.
It was during this time, Sir Hevain approached. Likewise, Sir Barrow was approaching. I do not know what was said, but Sir Borrow screamed “I will have your head!” to Sir Hevain who politely said he accepts the challenge.
Forced into something he was not expecting, Sir Barrow had no choice but to stand by his words or suffer further dishonor. Sir Barrow did not stand to Sir Hevain but for more than a few sword strokes. The first blow struck Sir Barrrow in the neck, one that he survived. The second, however, pieced through his cod piece and out the back end. Sir Hevain then withdrew his weapon and took Sir Barrow’s head.
In the aftermath, Col. Wolfhaven ordered us back to the city of Echer’Naught. Sgt Volstagg told me to have the team ready to ride by nightfall. I made sure that we were saddled and ready by the time he arrived. We left under the cover of night.
As an aside&****ip;I swore I heard Sir Hevain say something in Malakaran when he departed our company after the duel&****ip;
5th of Red Wolf, 3126
The day was destined to be hot. By noon, I swear to you I could have cooked an egg on my armor. We were in an massive open field, the grass waist high for most. We had elected to take the most direct path home. It was where everything went wrong.
Newt was struck by something. I couldn’t make it out. Volstagg was hit by it second, it splitting the back of his armor open and taking him from his horse. Seeing as we did not have war-trained mounts, I slipped from mine and stood over Volstagg to defend him. I was likewise hit by something. It burned when it passed through me, but ultimately it zapped my strength. The two-handed was suddenly heavy. I felt like falling over. It was as if all those sleepless nights from my past had caught up with me.
One of the oxen lost their head — it exploded. Quickly we began to withdraw, having Grendel throw the wagon on end to give us some cover. Daynore went down rather quickly — he dove to protect Moldova who stood on the back of her horse to try and find a target. Newt nor Serys were unable to find anything either.
To the east, the direction we were heading, was the direction the bolts were coming from. Daynore was down so we lost our means of remote communication. Newt was going to check something out and didn’t make it but a single step past the wagon before being dropped. I knew what we were facing then.
The ridge line in the distance was about 200 yards off. Our sniper had to be there. Crossbowmen can fire long range, but the accuracy of these shots was unheard of. Volstagg elected to try and provide a distraction for us so we could escape. We were to bellow crawl in the grass in a straight line from our assassin. Slow, steady. Hopefully the grass would give us enough concealment. Grendel, unfortunately, would be left behind. There would be no way for him to escape notice&****ip;
Before I could protest, Volstagg shot us all a wink and jumped onto his mount and road hard. He made it pretty far, all things considering. The mount was felled first and Volstagg tumbled with the fall and popped up into a heavy sprint. Then, he too was felled.
And that bought us enough time to lay down&****ip;
Forced into a spot, I wasn’t sure what else to do. Waiting until the sun was in their eyes was the best I could suggest. Moldova and Serys suggested nightfall to hide us. The only concern was if they could see during the night. We elected to try it.
Before night, however, I felt a pressure in my mind and was surprised to find Eris in contact with me. Apparently Daynore was not, in fact, dead. Somehow, in his unconscious state, he reached out to her. I gave her an appraisal of our status and we were told to sit tight. She maintained constant communication with me. IT was at this time I elected to have my armor taken off. Moldova assisted me.
Once the sun set, Eris informed me that they had found a unit. It was the closest one to us and would be at us by Dawn. All we could continue to do was sit tight. Once the sun was down I elected to test the theory of nighttime travel. I retrieved a small board and leaned it out, a piece of fabric hanging on it. I was promptly greeted with a hole next to my head as the crossbow bolt tore through the wood. I let the wood fall as if they had hit their mark.
I did not sleep that night.
6th of Red Wolf, 3126
As the sun crested the horizon, Zathlan reported to me a sound. I heard it too after she mentioned it. It was strange&****ip; Then the ground began to visibly shake. I was worried our enemy had called for Korash and he was charging us when I saw, to the west, the line of color. A massive Calvary unit lead by Sir Halten..
Once the train of riders passed us,we peered out. Halten went down first, followed by a few other riders. Then, without warning, the ridge line we thought the sniper was at erupted into a sea of fire as an arcfire explosion swept the landscape. I knew then they had gotten away.
Given we were clear, and no longer witnessed riders being slain, we fetched our fallen comrades and dragged them back behind the wagon for cover. We also went to check on Sir Halten. When his helmet was removed, however, we found a young rider disguised as the Royal Warden. A clever ploy to be sure.
As it were, it was the Knights of Harken that had come to our aid. My Lord owes his patronage to them and, if I recall, so does Halten. In either case, I can not express enough gratitude for them coming to our aid. Without them, I suspect we would either have been killed, or still sitting in the sun.. Which also would have killed us. Had it not been for the water on the wagon, we might not have survived the waiting.
A lone rider approaches and debriefs us. They are going to provide us escort back to Echer’Naught and mounts. Grendel, unfortunately, has to walk. It takes us three days..
9th of Red Wolf, 3126
We arrive at Echer’Naught where the man in charge of our escort departs our company. I thanked him once again and waited until he was out of ear shot before I called for the medics.
Volstagg had been out in the sun, unconscious, for seven hours. Then the 3 day ride back. Likewise Daynore and Newt. Thankfully they did not wear heavy plates like the Sergeant.
The rest of us were treated for second and third degree burns. SgtMaj. Stormhammer came to see me and asked what in the **** happened. The reports show we left on a funeral mission and now, here we are, with three members in comas, and reports of a legal battle with Olara.
I gave him the run down of it all. I’m not sure if this one topped his list of crazy things the Alpha Team has done or not.. and to be honest? I am not sure if I would want to know&****ip;
Final Thoughts and Assessments
The situation at the Keep was handled as best as it could be. The Duels of Honor were not of Ranger Business, but of Olaran business. As far as I am concerned those matter have been closed. As for the legal implications — that is beyond my paygrade and I imagine I have zero influence over that.
The Assassin, on the other hand, is a different story.I heard the stories. They said Sgt. Evoran Que’kasaars was taken out halfway across the city. I honestly believed them to be tall tales. Given what I witnessed I can confirm that this Sniper can fire beyond the normal range with pin point accuracy. Likewise, we can now confirm that nightfall will not provide cover or hinder their sight. I do not know how this to be done, only that it is true.
I suspect the only way to really handle the Sniper Assassin is to lay low and call in a secondary unit. Numbers are the way to handle them. They can fire fast, and typically it is one-shot-one-kill. However, they often hit their target with two to make sure. They fire at rapid succession. I will need to look into potential crossbows to determine a potential weapon.
Still, even with a secondary unit, if the secondary unit is not equipped with an elite scout it is likely they will be destroyed. The sniper takes precautions and traps the surrounding area to prevent themselves from being flanked. The best way to handle the sniper would be to hurl rocks at them with siege weapons. The problem is the encounters never call for it. Which means only another sniper and, even then, I do not know how that would turn out. These are ambushes. They control the battlefield. Controlling the battlefield controls the outcome.
Something else of note. This Sniper knew our path and, I suspect, they had time to set up. Only the people at the keep knew we were leaving and, even then, we left at night. How did they know the path we were going to take? I imagine we’re being watched at all times.. and scouts reported our movements. Once they figured out we were taking a direct line, it was easy to plot our course on a map.
I am sure Command is working on solutions, but I hope this field information is useful. We need to find solutions soon. Luck saved us this time. I don’t think we will be so lucky if we are forced into this encounter again&****ip;
Corporal Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven.
Red Wolf 9, 3126
It is blazing hot outside of the old brothel turned infirmary. Inside it is barely any cooler. The waining light promises a margin of a relief as the evening passes away into night. As the sun becomes a sliver of orange across the city ramparts Völkstagg lies, almost as if in state, on one of the many beds which line the walls. He is three weeks away from his thirty-second name day. Nearby, Daynor, and Newt lie in similar condition.
The hospital staff, sweating themselves, can do nothing but pour water and rub salve over his scorched body. Open blisters weep into the bedding, and his breathing is ragged and shallow. Günther’s fever has not broken yet, and the raw pink meat burns with a ****ish ferocity.
Almost two and a half days before, he’d been unhorsed, and shot down. He had tried, and failed to divert the Marksman’s attention away from his team. His friends being unable to retrieve him, Völkstagg had lain in the sun for about eight hours. For the first two or three of those hours, he was semi conscious, but unable to move. Any pain that he might have felt from the wounds was eclipsed by the scorching heat inside of his armor. Odd as it might seem, he felt like he was drowning. For a while he could hear them. They sounded as if they were miles away, but he could discern their voices.
“Stay down, Grendel.”, Audric had said. “I can’t heal him&****ip;”, lamented Gracelynn.
“Cover Newt, She’s burning up!”
“Well. This is fun.”
“Move&****ip; Get up. Is he alive? Please move&****ip;”
His mind begged his body to comply, but it would not respond. He wanted to call out. To scream. To do anything. But as it was, he could only lay there.
After about three hours, his consciousness winked out. “No. I’m not ready. Not yet&****ip;”, were his last cognizant thoughts. As he lost water, the blood seeping from the wounds began to coagulate into a red gelatinous ichor. By the fifth hour, the claret hued paint on his armor began to blister and fleck. By the sixth hour he stopped sweating entirely, and the Whitesilver armor which had been built to protect his grandfather, and father before him had become a man-shaped crematorium.
By the seventh hour, his brain had begun to boil inside of his helmet, and the effects heatstroke set in entirely. He was dying, and his heart rate had fallen to an impossibly low rhythm as it succumbed to shock.
The only thing which saved his life, was the dying of the light in the eighth hour.
In this place there was no perception of time nor space. There was only a creeping, regretful blackness. The only thing that he felt during that time was a faraway pressure. Almost a knocking sensation. As it was, his mind had well-nigh ceased to function entirely, and he stirred not.
Infirmary report on Red Wolf, 20
At this point, nearly two weeks have passed. By all accounts, for about two days, Sgt. Völkstagg “floated” in an almost incorporeal state. Only recently, has he been able to attempt any form of understandable communication. What follows is a collection of notes taken by the infirmary staff, and outlines some of the more coherent portions of his waking moments. It would appear that he is attempting to deliver his statement. We have done our best to transcribe the discernible portions. His mind may very well be healing, but it is going to take time. He has yet to be able to focus his vision.
Of note: The first sign of any type of mindful activity was as his armor was, effectively being cut away on the afternoon that the team arrived back in Echer’naught. Luckily, for him, his doublet, and trousers provided a layer which may help avoid most permanent scarring. Odd as it may sound, the shock of being (for all intents and purposes) skinned alive may have forced his mind to “fire”, and begin to focus thus beginning the healing process&****ip;
“Bloody ****&****ip; It burns.
Who’s there? I hear you. I can not see much. My eyes hurt, but I can feel you. I know you.
Listen. We found the girl, but they took her. Don’t let her near Lady Halten. She’ll kill her. Sebastian needs a girlfriend. He carried her into the sunset. It was a beautiful thing. I didn’t cry, I promise.
Is Newt dead? I herd the shouting. She tried, same as me. Daynor? What about him? He helped me write my will. If he is gone, I hope he knows that he did well. Thorgram would be pleased.
What about the rest of them?
Audric can take care of them, and besides, he is too bloody inconsiderate to go quietly. Has Gracelynn stood on any more horses? Heheh&****ip; I hope that they did not leave Grindel.
Seris&****ip; I do not know what to say. He is bitter, and I understand. Sometimes our road does not lead to where we thought it might.
Where is Nexus?
I can apprehend people speaking, but I can’t seem to figure things out. Who they are or where, I mean. I am trying, but my judgment is clouded. Everything is running together. The past sometimes bleeds over, and I get confused.
I hear her talking to me sometimes. It’s so familiar, the voice.
“You’re strong enough, just keep fighting&****ip; Don’t you remember? I’ll catch you.” I do not know what to make of it. If I could just remember&****ip;
I do remember what happened. Well, most of it. Baron Wolfhaven arrived, and the other riders came a few hours later. Ser Olar, and his Knights of The Order of the Bear. He presided at the tribunal. I don’t know what the Baron had to do, or agree to that avoided a full-on trial.
I am happy, though. They could not touch my Rangers. My friends. That much, we did right.
(He goes on for a while, but most of it does not make much sense. He talked about the sheriff, and then something about The War. Someone named Rory, and how he’d saved his life. This went on for several minutes.)
I killed the lad, you know? I did not want to&****ip;
The boy has haunted me. I baited him, and I knew **** well what would happen. As it was, I can say that I never spoke an untrue word to him. What is worse, is that I do not regret it. I did my job, but I stood in his way to do it. I empathized with him, but I wonder if it is not better this way. I know the path that he would have taken had he lived. He was very much like me.
But just as I stood in his way, so too did he stand in mine. I have something important to live for. He was just too young to know.
When you force a man to choose between dying for honor, and living for something that he cares deeply about, be prepared. They say beware the man who has nothing left to lose. Rather, I say, fear the man who has everything to lose.
Is that selfish? Maybe&****ip;
I cannot apologize. Sometimes we need to be a little selfish.
(It get muddled for a time. He goes on about things and people, presumably in the past. His home, a family, a wedding, someone named John, and so forth and so on.)
I had a dream. Or, a terror. I don’t know. It’s all running together.
We were in the courtyard. Everybody was there. Hevane, Audric with the team, Barrow. Even Wolfhaven sitting atop a dias. There were others there too. Most of them I recognized, and knew that they had been dead for years. I was covered in fresh dirt.
Then, in my peripheral, I saw her. I moved to get a better look, but she always stayed just out of focus. Somehow I knew that she was searching, and it made my heart race. Behind me, A pit had been dug into the courtyard, and I could smell the rotten earth steaming behind me. In fact, the stench was all about me.
It was the day of the duel.
Bloody ****, my head hurts&****ip; are we running out of water? I am parched.
I looked across the yard, and was struck dumb by what I saw.
It was Me.
Or at least, what I thought was myself. I was angry. Not the “me” that I was looking at, though. Not the one who was standing across the yard, but me, as in myself.
It was wearing my armor, and my sword was buckled about it’s waist. My own helm stared blankly across at me, with black voids behind it’s oculars. I hated it. It had wronged me, and had taken everything. My anger waxed hot, and I wanted it dead.
I drew my sword, screaming, and charged murderously forward.
For what seemed like hours, we fought. No matter what I did, and no matter how badly I hated it, the monster refused to die. I was never quite fast enough. It stalked me, and wore me down. Little by little it carved away at my skin, and I was left bleeding on the stone. Finally, giving my last full measure, I poured out the last of my hate into my sword-arm, and my blade bit through the Crimson plate.
Rather than blood, I was met with sparks, and sulfurous vapor. I withdrew suddenly, very afraid. Without a word it raised my sword over my head, and brought the blade down into my neck. Blood erupted, as meat was cleaved from bone, and sinews snapped.
The steel burned like acid, and it burrowed into my very soul. I wanted to scream, but I could not. It had cut clean through my chest, and I sank to my knees. My vision was fading quickly. For just a moment I saw past The Monster, and in the clouded distance, there she was again. She was calling out, but I did not hear. If I could just focus&****ip;
Charlotte&****ip; no, you’re gone. I saw it happen. A ghost of what was? But something, someone all the same.
The swirling mist collapsed as it was crushed by darkness.
The Monster put his Crimson sabaton beside my blade, and as the steel cleaved from my chest I felt a hot wave cascade over me. With a shove it cast me down, and into the pit. I realized then, and all too late, that it was my grave.
I couldn’t reach out. I couldn’t save myself. I was dead. Hope gave over to despair, and I closed my eyes. As I surrendered myself to the starless Void, from above, I felt a hand thrust desperately into my own.
“I’ve got you, just hold on!”, I herd.
Then there was fire.
Everything was black, and it felt like I was being torn apart. I wanted to scream, but I could not. It was the second worst thing that I could’ve ever imagined, and it seemed to go on for an eternity. I was trapped, and I wanted to die just to make it stop. But, in the midst of it all, there it was. A hand. It held fast, and tethered me. A lifeline in an otherwise unyielding cyclone of horrors. That is where I placed my focus, and held fast to hope.
Was this a dream?
There was something else there too. It has been with me for some time. Those bolts should have killed me. I should have been puppeted like all the other ******* killers in Elgen Keep. Why wasn’t I? Whatever touched me in Shivak Novos is still there. Is it the **** unicorn? I do not know, but whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be going away. Ignoring it isn’t helping&****ip;
And you say that that was over a week ago? By the light of Archanon’s polished codpiece&****ip;
I need to get out of this place. I have things to see and people to do.
Wait. No&****ip; never-mind."
(It devolves from that point, and after a time, he is asleep&****ip; snoring.)
We will inform you if any drastic changes occur. As of now, the prognosis remains good. It will just take time.
-Submitted from the Infirmary.
Equipment Transfer to Grayson's Gray Rangers
Sir Gunther Volstagg
Enclosed is the following:
One Whitesilver axe
One common axe
One ******* sword
Campaign Report 89 (First Movement)
Crimson Wedding (KellyCon 2017)
Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Ranger Regional Headquarters, Echer’Naught, Olara
Thirtieth Day of Eternal Sun, Year 3126 Under the Light
By the Lord of Light, and my lady, Celesia, the Silver Unicorn, I have failed. And in my failing, a man has lost his life. Nearly two.
I care not what past sins might have been committed by Therel Fateweaver, or Davos Olandoran as the Royal Warrant stated. He saved this city, he saved my Rangers more times that I could count. Admittedly, I never well trusted him, but I trusted Sergeant Minor Longtail, and she trusted Fateweaver. After she was gone, after I lost Hawksclaw to that damnable villain Velkalar&****ip;I must say, Fateweaver’s advice was invaluable. He has served as the finest Seneschal that this city has ever seen.
And now he is gone.
Because I miscalculated.
Red Wolf 27th, 3126
At mid-morn, I attended Sir Volstagg, Sergeant at his hospital bed within the Hospital, formerly the Red Lamp brothel. He seemed well and the doctor’s assured me that he was to be released that day. Though, it would take days, or weeks to recover. I should know for I have also been there.
Nevertheless, we spoke about personal matters. Sir Volstagg had requested before departing Elgen Keep, and the ambush which landed him in the hospital, that I intercede upon his behalf in a matter of honor. Moving forward, he felt that he could best server the people of Olara, and of all the Southern Kingdom’s by extending his service with the Ranger indefinitely.
To that end, I sent requests to the Crimson Wall, Lord Otto Reinhart, and to Kytrhos, Lord Commander Norwood. The Rangers answered almost immediately in the affirmative. The response from the Crimson Wall was somewhat slower, but they too acquiesced. It would seem that the most recent&****ip;political turmoil made it more palatable that Sergant Volstagg be associated with the Rangers.
I felt we had gained greatly by the transfer.
With that approved, I requested that he permit me to allow my personal armorer to re-enamel his armor in any scheme that he might wish. Designs were sent and within a day, the armor was completed. A Baron title has its perks.
Then I informed him that a new mission was coming, one which required travel and time spent away from home. Once released, he was to speak with his Rangers and inform them that they would have leave to see to their affairs.
Sergeant Volstagg’s next words both surprised and delighted me. RFC Lady Nexus Zathlan had agreed to his hand in marriage! Knowing the path ahead, I encouraged Sergeant Vosltagg to make preparations swiftly. I had waited for my own marriage, and it nearly cost me all.
Volstagg agreed, but wished to keep the entire affair quiet for the time. I agreed and offered my assistance in making the necessary preparations and negotiations. He agreed and we parted in good spirits.
My next stop was to swing by the Local E’N HQ and speak with RFC Leaora Nazir. She had withdrawn from the Alpha Team to oversee the Elven/Oaran Rebuilding Coalition. After the attack by Shaya’Nor’s forces, much of the Elven District and Low Town was damaged or destroyed. Elven/Olaran relations degenerated to the point that during the battle, the elves killed a number of Olarans while trying to defend their district in the city
RFC Nazir had brokered an agreement between Sir Eric Halten, the Royal Sheriff and Warden, and High Druidess Lady Treesinger to put together crews from both groups and work toward rebuilding the city together. Their success went far beyond any reasonable assumptions and, for her diligence, RFC Nazir had been put in charge. Now, however, most of the actual building had been completed. The Coalition had recently agreed to remain, but focus more on mutual corporation and civic projects.
RFC Nazir could, in likelihood, remain at the post and manage the project for years, even gaining political influence and rank. However, she agreed to my request to return to the Alpha Team for the upcoming mission. He language and bardic skills would be key. I learned later that she and Treesinger had agreed to select a leadership candidate from both groups, rather than place the organization under one leader from either side.
From there, I had more preparation for the upcoming mission and the day to day drudgery of command. My Great Lady, Elyanna surprised my at the office, bringing food cooked by her own hand. She shooed everyone out of my office permitting me a few moments of delightful conversation with my beloved.
I learned later that Sergeant Volstagg was, in fact, released later that day and headed to his residence to recuperate.
Red Wolf 28th, 3216
Sir Volstagg’s new armor, detailed and tooled in White, Red, and Black was delivered. I suspect he was pleased.
Red Wolf 30th, 3126
In the morning, I called the Alpha Team together for a number of reasons. The first was to get them back into routine as they had been on light duty for the past couple of weeks. I also wanted a chance to debrief them about the recent missions. In the past, repeated stressful missions had sometimes elicited negative responses. I feel strongly that I, and the Rangers, have no done enough to ensure the mental and emotional health of our Rangers.
So, I took some time to address a few concerns. Grendel had suffered some comments on his height. Sad, considering he is of above average height for his kind. Unfortunately, many of the Ogres serving in the Rangers tend to be considerably large. It must have something to do with the lifestyle that draws “behemoth” oges to our ranks. Whatever the case, I felt it important to reassure him.
I spoke with RFC Durlan Daynore about his heritage. Malakarans have a reputation, worse within Olara. They are often seen as dishonest and sneaky, I explained that, regardless of how he is treated outside the Corps, he had my complete faith.
I spoke with RFC Lady Nexus Zathlan about how she has come so far. When she first arrived, she seemed unsure and doubting. But, over her relatively brief time, she had blossomed in a confident woman and warrior.
RFC Gracelyn Moldova was absent. She has been working with our local Rangers in searching for an increasing number of missing City Watch, merchants, and even known criminals.
To Corporal Audric Amaroth I posed only the question I posed to Ramshorn before him, “are you in control.” He affirmed that he was still in control, his sergeant confirmed. Sergeant Volstagg and I had already spoken privately. And to Serys, I simply ordered him not to “accidentally shoot” any fellow members of the Rangers. He agreed, though I am somewhat suspect given his nature.
We were also graced by RFC Leaora Nazir who, as mentioned, had agreed to assist the team on the upcoming operation. She seemed surprisingly eager to escape the small confines of her office.
The team assembled, I informed them that they would be called soon for an official mission requiring long travel. So, I allowed them a couple weeks to get their local affairs in order. Then, they were dismissed.
I retained Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan a moment. Once private, I expressed my joy at the news and offered to speak on her behalf as she had no-one in the city to speak as advocate. Malcolm agreed to negotiate on behalf of Sir Volstagg and Lady Moonsilver would serve to facilitate negotiations. That completed, I dismissed them and began drafting letters.
Red Wolf 33rd, 3126
By the 33rd, a bride price had been agreed, House Zathlan prepared to recieve guests and the wedding was on. I arranged funding, put together a proper entourage for a knight and lady of their standing and arranged for a column of Wolfhaven Company of Free Riders to accompany the couple and team on the road. Recent events were never far from my mind.
Eternal Sun 1st, 3126
Gathered outside the Wolfhaven Manor, everyone was in high spirits, though Alpha Team were still unaware of the purpose of this trip, they were happy enough to receive such a lavish “free” vacation.
As a list minute change, and to my eternal regret, I requested that Sir Volstagg permit senschel Therel Fateweaver to accompany the party as a represtantive of the city. In truth, Fateweaver was a known target for assassination, more of Velkalar’s doing, so I sent him away without any warning or announcement. My hope was that he would be safer outside the city, surrounded by some of the finest Ranger, Olaran, and Galean warriors.
I was wrong.
Still, the convoy rumbled out of the city by the Dwarven/East gate and began the 12 day trek through Harken, Hale, across the Howling River, and then north to House Zathlan lands. By all accounts, the trip was both enjoyable and uneventful
Eternal Sun 12th, 3126
The caravan arrived at the edge of House Zathlan lands and were greeted by the Lord and Lady Zathlan themselves. Sir Volstagg approached. Kind words were spoken and Lord Zathlan welcome the knight and his betrothed into Zathlan lands, but would not allow the Rangers entrance unless their produced a legal warrant, or agreed not to attempt to usurp Zathlan authority while guests in their lands.
Sir Volstagg readily agreed and the entire caravan was permitted to reach the keep. As they passed through the nearby vill, I hear that crowds thronged the street, showing the party with garlands, carpeting the hard packed road in petals. I can only surmise the rest of the team grew quite suspicious as they reached the keep. There, the Rangers were feted and provided for with the most generous hospitality. They sparred with Zathlan warriors, took constitutionals by a nearby lake, and even participated in a Stag hunt.
I was surprised to hear that Grendel managed to the killing blow on the feast stag. In fact, he has earned a new title, Grendel “Stag Killer.” He seems more confused than pleased.
Though hastily arranged, House Zathlan provided the most wondrous accommodations and arrangements. Within three days of arriving, they managed to put on a wedding of perfection.
Eternal Sun. 16th 3126
From pre-dawn, all parties hurriedly prepared and by late afternoon all was in readiness. With sundown just approaching, family and friends of House Zathlan gathered in the sacred grove to witness the union between Lady Nexus Zathlan, House Lyonn of Galea to Sir Gunther Volstagg, Order of the Crimson Wall, House Vosltagg of Olara.
The ceremony was presided over by the Zathlan family druid, three strips of silk, red, white, and blue (house Lyonn colors) were wrapped around their clasps hands as prayers were offered to the ascended. Then, each dipped an everwood gift in a bowl of purified water, dedicated to the Silver Unicorn. When Sir Vosltagg touched the water, it glowed white silver.
She gave to him an everwood ring with a lions head, its main in white silver, detailed in white silver. To her was also given a ring of everwood, scrolled and adorned with elven filigree in white silver. Both rings were personally crafted by the hands of Durlan Daynore, his gift to his friends.
With a final song, they were wed, leading a procession out of the grove to the main hall where the feast and celebration awaited. All joined them, as the happy couple sat at the head table beside Lord and Lady Zathlan. There were dances and gifts. Most precious was that offered by Therel Fateweaver and Leaora Nazir.
As she played her harp, he sang. I would offer all my worldly possessions to have heard that song. The last ballad of one of the greatest bards to ever live. He sang of two houses, Zathlan and Volstagg, their founding, their victories and defeats, and he sand of love. I have spoken with several people in attendance and all speak of a trancelike state, of hearing and seeing, of feeling ever sweeping moment of centuries of honor, history, loss, and love.
When it was over, no one moved, or spoke. Only when a dish, forgotten by a servant tumbled to shatter against the stone floor from paralyzed fingers was everyone shocked into motion. Then, with a bow, Therel Fateweaver resumed his seat.
After that, Lord Zathlan called his Lady, his daughter, and his Son-in-Law to the main floor. He toasted them, and introduced the couple, embracing Sir Volstagg as his own family&****ip;
&****ip;when the doors to the hall exploded open and a man stormed in, dodging the guards. In his hand, he held an ancient and weathered piece of Vellum as if to ward away spirits.
Lord Zathlan stepped forward and demanded to know who would think to intrude upon such an occasion. The man, dressed in a tight fitted vest, silken shirt with voluminous sleeves ruffled at the cuffs, tight pants, high blacked boots and a large, wide hat sporting a veritable flock of ostrich feathers. Bowing low, the man introduced himself as Dom Alphonz Domingo Ferrara Diego Castellano. He professed to be presence on the King’s business.
When challeneged, he admitted that he was not here on King Argorn, King of East, but the Crown of Olara. He went on to claim that he had a Royal Warrant for the arrest of one Davos Olandoran, or, better known as, Therel Fateweaver. Lord Zathlan read the warrant, then, turned to Fateweaver. He was, after all, an official representative of Echer’Naught which was now a RANGER city, not Olaran. And they were in Galea. The legalities of the situation required serious consideration.
However, to prevent any bloodshed Therel Fateweaver, or Davos Olandoran simply stood, graciously apologized to his host and confirmed that the warrant was valid. He further regretted any difficulties his presence had caused and turned himself over to Dom Diego without resistance or complaint.
Seeing no alternative, Lord Zalthan allows Dom Diego to leave with his captive, but warns that should morning light find the man within his lands, Warrant or know, he will lose his head. Dom Diego bows, thanks them all for their forbearance and appears to turn to leave with Fateweaver.
Before anyone can stop him, he pulls out a strange burnt-orange crystal wrapped in copper and white silver wires and slams against Therel Fateweavers forehead. What happened next is difficult to describe. The crystal flashed arcfire and Fateweaver started to scream, but then his scream elongated into something worse, a metallic sound.
And then her collapsed, his eyes smoking. The backlash from whatever was just done reverberated around the room stunning everyone. Victims describe hearing a high pitched keening and feeling suddenly disoriented. Many simply passed out from pain.
Having his mercy spat upon, his people attack, and a man under his protection slaughtered like some animal, Lord Zathlan drew his sword and rushed Dom Diego with predictable results. Almost lazily, the duelist drew his rapier and stabbed at the charging Zathlan&****ip;
&****ip;only to bury his blade into Sir Volstagg’s neck.
Seeing the danger, and knowing the reports, Sir Volstagg acted before anyone else had time to think. He grabbed the Lord by the scruff and hauled him bodily out of the way, but in doing, received the blow intended for his father-in-law. Sir Volstagg drops, mortally wounded.
Not done, Dom Diego takes one sadistic moments of finish Sir Vosltagg with a slash across this throat, the arterial blood sprawing into the air staining Lady (Zathlan) Volstagg’s pure white dress crimson in her husband’s life’s blood. Now satisfied, Dom Diego turns and begins to walk out.
Enraged beyond reason, Corporal Amaroth charges, snarling, only to be caught from behind by Grendel who was repeated stabbed by the blood-mad olaran for his troubles. The other Rangers stood still. They were armed with only small weapons, knifes and short swords, no armor, and they had given their word that they would NOT interfere in Zathlan business without expressed consent.
So, following orders, they watched their Sergeant bleed out on the floor beside one of their city’s greatest heroes while the assassin, sword still stained with blood, strolled out of the room.
Zathlan House Guards were not so restrained. Thirty charged to the duelist intent on answered for the slight upon their house’s honor. To a man, they died. Dom Diego barely seemed to breathe heavily. He exited and disappeared into the night.
I have no reports of that evening. Sir Volstagg was rushed to the healers, Lady Zathlan, still robed in her blood-stained wedding gown, by his side. Lord Zathlan and his retainers rode out, scouring the countryside for Dom Diego but he was never found.
Eternal Sun 17th, 3126
By some miracle, thank the Silver Unicorn, Sir Volstagg awoke. He lived, but his voice was forever ruined by the slashing of his throat. Still, the healer knew his art and Sir Volstagg was on his feet that morning. He was met soon by Lord Zathlan who offered Sir Volstagg indefinite hospitality. But, he asked for him to send the Rangers and other guests away.
They were being hunted and Lord Zathlan had a duty to protect his House. Sir Volstagg agreed and, within the day, the Rangers rode out of the keep heading home. With them, in a place of honor, the body of Therel Fateweaver lay wrapped, ready for cremation.
Eternal Sun 20th, 3126
Three days into their trip, the party crosses the Howling River to find two groups waiting for their arrival. The first, Rangers dispatched by Wolfhaven. The very instant Dom Diego appeared, RFC Daynore contacted Eris and Wolfhaven immediately dispatched reinforcements.
The second group were Olarans, Royal Wardens specifically under command of Lord Garran Olar, Captain of the Royal Guard, and the King’s personal protector. He demanded the body of the traitor. Over RFC Nazir’s protest, Sergeant Volstagg turned over the body of Fateweaver to the Olarans. They rode away without so much as a thank you.
The ramifications of Ranger interference at Erlgen Keep continues to haunt us.
Eternal Sun 28th, 3126
I greeted the Rangers at the Dwarven/East gate. They were haggard, a shadow of the merry band I had seen riding out three weeks before. Sergeant Volstagg was sent to the hospital, again, for evaluation. The rest, were debriefed. It took a few days, but I arranged for preparations to have a private service on the the 31st of Eternal Sun.
I can only pray that no more lives will be lost before this villain can be brought to justice. May my lady hear by prayer, I cannot afford any more blood on my hands. I must be flawless for there is no more room for error.
They all look to me.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
Ranger Regional Headquarters, Echer’Naught, Olara
Grendel like these green cloaks. He also like new human who me met on trip to other place. The human was old and dressed in strange robey things but could speak good goblinesh, he even knew lots of goblinesh songs, but he dead now.
He die from stupid hat guy who attack. Oh also Volstagg and Nexus get married. Anyway hat guy attack after marriage thing, still don’t know what that is. Oh also me kill stag with rock. But hat guy barge in and ask for robey guy. He say name that wasn’t his name but maybe it was his named, Grendel confused about that too. Next hat guy put metal glowy thing to robey guys head and it kill him with big explosion.
After nice robey guy dead, volstagg’s new torkash attack but volstagg be good orc and protect him. Then one eye turn mad and run for guy, but volstagg told us to wait for orders so I grab one eye, seen angry men before do things not suppose to do. Then one eye hack Grendel but me not care.
After being stab by stupid hat gut volstagg die, but not really. Stupid hat guy leave and we all look after volstagg.
Everyone sad about robey guy, even Grendel hate to see him die, especially elf who sing good. But we leave with body and head home, but we meet other humans when we cross river. They take robey guy away.
We get back and have last call for robey guy. Not know who he is but Grendel will miss him. That all Grendel have to say.
To: Echer’Naught, Regional Command
From: Audric Amaroth, Corporal
Date: 30th Eternal Sun, 3126
We have been hit once again, this time close to home. The sacred union ruined because our great enemy wanted to wound us. However, if you poke the wolves one to many times&****ip;they turn their teeth to bare..
It’s only a matter of time before we have had enough. I, for one, am already there. Allow me, then, to catch you up to speed on the events that have transpired to bring us up to the point.
Red Wolf 27, 3126
I have been in command of the Alpha Team for three weeks now, filling in while Volstagg is bound to his quarters to heal. His skin had been badly damaged from the heat. To my understanding and, according to these reports, his entire body suffered third degree burns. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Still, he managed to recover due to the expert care of our healers. Much to my immeasurable joy.
One thing of note — I saw the itemized receipts for the unit. We consumed four pounds of pasties in three months. How in the name of the Ascended did we manage that? I suppose the long journeys are to blame for the consumption. I only hope we don’t get rusty when it comes to survival skills.
Grendel, at least, has been getting well versed in the art of wagon driving. From my understanding, he has gotten very skilled at it. Hopefully no more incidents like at the keep&****ip;
That evening I was called from my temporary office to the Regional Headquarters. It was at this time that Volstagg resumed official command, albeit under the grounds on Light, Limited duty. He wasn’t fully healed. You could see it in the way he moved. Still, I’m sure he was well enough to handle the quill.
30th Red Wolf, 3126
In the morning, the summons draws us to a meeting with my Lord, Colonel Wolfhaven. It is here that he expressed a concern for our mental health. The stress of missions and pent up frustrations eventually take their toll. I’ve seen people break. The night terrors. Despite my joy in the field, even I am subject to them from time to time..
Grendel expressed a confusion to being called short. I also take it he disapproved. Granted, given his size comparison to other Ogres he might be short, he is taller than I. But, I would not belittle his feelings. I imagine as time goes on this “Little” Ogre is going to prove he has more bite than they realized.
Also, Sgt Volstagg ordered us not to discuss Grendel’s size in a negative way&****ip;
RFC Daynore revealed his distaste for being compared to other Malakarans. Truthfully, though he has been able to perform some of those shady dealings, I find myself putting full faith in the Adept. He has proven himself time and time again as a valuable member of our team. So much so, I do not think I would be hear writing this had it not been for him when we were under fire..
I can not stop others. I can’t stop their words. I can, however, speak highly of my allies when I drink at the bars. I can shape things that way. Both have saved my life. Both deserve better. Truthfully it is only the Olarans that have been overly cruel to Daynore. Most are nobles. We can’t stop them.
The only thing I was asked is if I were in control. As far as I am aware I am. My faculties are my own to command. My only concerns were beyond the means of being addressed.
Also, one moment of pride — to this meeting I arrived in my new house colors. Partial Plate and chain decorated in the colors of House Wolfhaven, with the house crest upon my left breast. I could not have been more proud to walk in my armor. To make things even better — it was all Olaran Steel.
Later that evening, as a sign of “team building” we go to the private room at the Wayfarer’s Rest. The women split off to go shopping for their own accouterments while the males head off to see Sgt.Major Stormhammer. Daynore requisitions a block of white silver, thanks to Volstagg’s help along with a lot of everwood. It seems he is giving Jack (Moldova’s “Doll”) an upgrade. I requisition a White Silver Two-hander
Seyrs, of course, didn’t join us that night.
1st of Eternal Sun, 3126
We are summoned for a morning meeting where we gather supplies for two weeks travel. This isn’t our normal MO, however. We have a larger retinue of people with us. One especially stands out — Senschel Theral Fateweaver.
It was at this point I began to suspect something was amiss. I couldn’t place my finger on it. We traveled East through Harken and into Hale. It took us nine days to cross into Galea. By day twelve we were greeted by an armed escort.
Here I heard Fateweaver spouting off information about house Lyonn. It was at this point I was able to identify that we were at Zathlan’s home due to the banners of the armed guard waiting for us. They paused at a ridge which I could only presume was their boundary. The pieces began to fall together at this point, but I kept my mouth shut. It was also at this time we submit to the laws of this land. Simply put: If they don’t ask, we can’t act.
Now, as we approach, things get very odd. Odd enough to be suspicious. Flowers are thrown at us, braided into our hair if we want. I’d rather face down a wall of ravenous undead than this. At least with the undead I knew how to handle it. This? This was just strange. Maybe this is how Galeans greet their nobles?
In either case, once we get to the keep we are set off to our rooms. A servant (who turns out to just be a citizen?) offers to take my things. After which they followed me around. I’m not use to having a shadow. I’m use to being the shadow. Admittedly it was a bit unnerving. Once we were settled in we had a meeting in which we were told to enjoy ourselves.
I was contemplating on how one would enjoy themselves on my way out when another sword caught my attention. Nods were exchanged and then he gestured to the sparring weapons. I found my good time.
On the 15th, the men went on the hunt for a stag. It was exhilarating! Racing through the trees, weapon in hand, trying to wear the beast down. I almost had the beast too! Then, Grendel through a rather large rock and killed the beast. I will admit, Grendel put on a good show out there in the woods. Earned himself the name “Stag Killer” too. And that night he got to sit at the head table as he provided the meal for the feast. One step in the right direction for the Ogre.
It was also at this juncture that my suspicions were correct. Sir Gunther Volstagg and Lady Nexus Zathlan were going to be wed tomorrow.
16th of Eternal Sun, 3126.
Pre-dawn, I awake to the sounds preparation. If one thing is consistent across the land, its preparing for a wedding. Everyone wakes up stupid early for it. That and funerals. In either case, most of us stand around and wait. The wedding is that evening
If one were to compare Galea and Olara, architecture is definitely a thing. The other thing is their faith. Most Olarans follow Archanon. Galeans follow the Ascended and more druidic things. With that said, the ceremony itself was held in a Sacred Grove. It was&****ip;difficult to enter. I could feel the powers trying to drive me from the hollowed grounds. Things like this make me wonder if I’ll ever have my own wedding. Then again, I don’t have any plans to settle down. Not with Velkalar at large anyways.
The after party was a celebration fit for a king. Not as wild as an Olaran wedding, but a good time was had. In fact, I had the pleasure of being subjected to one of the primary talents of Master Fateweaver — his voice. His and Leaora’s gift to the newly weds was a duet.
Leaora played the harp and Fateweaver sang. It was hauntingly beautiful. I didn’t just hear the tale, the history, of both houses. I felt it. I felt every ebb of joy and pain as their histories were recalled to me. It was&****ip;trans inducing. The sound of a plate shattering snapped us out of it.
All was going perfect until the doors flung open. He wore fancy clothes, fitted and expensive. High backed boots. A large hat with feathers and a rapier at his hip. Then he spoke his name. Alphonz Domingo Ferrara Diego Castellano — aka Don Diego. Here was our suspected duelist.
He produced a document when challenged by Lord Zathlan and said he was here to claim the bounty on a Davos Olandoran. He then expanded this scoundrel was better known as Theral Fateweaver. I was stunned. Fateweaver, though it is said he is the former King of Low-Town, had done enough duties to the city of Echer’Naught ten times over.
Still, Lord Zathlan declared the warrant valid. Fateweaver apologized profusely to our host and agreed to go with Diego. All seemed well until that ******* slapped some burnt-orange crystal to Fateweavers head. Agony swept over his face and he cried out. The voice became distorted, inhuman. Then, a wave of&****ip;something..rushed over the room and Theral Fateweaver fell, his eyes smoldering. Diego had killed him.
“Villain” I heard cried from my flank as Lord Zathlan charged. The duelist moved almost lazily, drawing his weapon and thrusting. His mark was true, but his target changed. Volstagg superimposed himself between his father-in-law and Deigo’s blade. Once through the throat, Diego withdrew and then slashed Volstagg across the throat, sending a spray of red.
I lost it. This wasn’t anything to do with The Rangers. My best friend was dead or dying. He was cut down saving anothers life. Cut down by someone who was suspected of taking one of our own. Who had sent bandits at an older incarnation of this very unit. I couldn’t stand&****ip;
When I came to I was being held by Grendel, whose arms wore the marks of my blade. IT was like waking from a fog, or a dream. Through the haze, I recall being told that we would be confined to our quarters. Given my recent episode I elected to stay with Grendel. Only he could hold me should things go south again..
I can’t excuse myself for what happened. I never should have lost control. The team needed a leader and I let them down.. I fell to flame..
17th of Eternal Sun
Volstagg awoke from his coma. His voice was forever changed from the blade of Diego. Still, we were left with little choice but to depart the Zathlan estate and its surrounding lands. We are hunted, targeted by Velkalar and his minions. Lord Zathlan had no choice — the needs of his people.
Fateweaver, who was bound in a formal shroud of honor.
20th of Eternal Sun
It took us three days to cross back into Olara. Waiting for us was a contingent of Rangers. Daynore, ever proactive, immediately contacted Eris at the sight of Diego, my Lord sent reinforcements post haste. Unfortunately, we were also greeted by Lord Commander Garran Olar. Despite the protest of Leaora Nazir, Volstagg submits to the request — They take the body of Theral Fateweaver.
Broken, we ride back home.
28th of Eternal Suns, 3126
The Alpha Team of Echer’Naught Rangers returns home.
We were caught off guard. Even had we not have been, I do not think we stood a chance against Diego. His skill far surpasses our own. I imagine he vanished the moment he departed the doors. Two dozen men, easy, lay at his feet. Not a single blow to him.
They also knew where to hit us. And when. They even found a way to put the law on their side. I thought our allies safe within the city of Echer’Naught. I do not think he would have left just to attend this wedding, Fateweaver was too smart for that.
Something pushed him from the city. And that push played right into a plan. I don’t know if this was the main hand, or the back up&****ip; but we played into it. This game of chess is far more complex and they break all the rules. Such is the curse of being on the side of justice. But a curse I know I carry proudly.
Corporal Audric Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, second of Ranger Alpha Team of Echer’Naught.
I have been dealing with the petty squabbles of the Elves and Olarans long enough. So when asked to get back out in the field, I jumped at the chance. We were not given many instructions other than be prepared to leave. That afternoon I went shopping for new armor with Lady Nexus. That evening the Alpha Team met up at The Wayfarer’s Rest for a last meal before we headed out.
As we were preparing to leave that morning, another guest joined our party. It was none other than my old friend Master Fateweaver. I was happy to see him and glad to get to spend some time with him. After nine days of traveling we crossed in to Galean lands. A few days later we were greeted by an armed guard of House Zathlan. Before being allowed to enter their lands, the Lord made us promise an oath that we were not to interfere in any official capacity unless asked. After agreeing, we were treated to a warm welcome. Flowers were thrown, our horses were draped in garlands I indulged myself and braided some of the flowers into my hair. It had been a long time since I was able to smile and enjoy myself like this. Our vacation was off to a beautiful start.
During our time we were able to relax and actually enjoy ourselves. Well, most of us. I think Grendel was mostly confused and Audric did not relax until he found the sworn to spar with. I spent most of my time in the sacred grove and a wonderful day at the lake. It had been a long time since I felt the freedom of the water over my skin. A hunt was organized but I declined to participate. I did hear that Grendel delivered the killing blow to the stag and earned the title Stag-Killer. He was rewarded with a seat at the head table that night at dinner.
It was also announced at dinner that night that Lady Zathlan and Sir Volstag were to be wed the next day. I was delighted. I had sensed a spark between them on our last vacation and with all the death and sadness around us as of late, it was nice to see some happiness.
The next day was a blur of preparations for the wedding. Galeans sure have a lot of pomp and circumstance for a royal wedding. But it ended up being a beautiful ceremony and my eyes spilled over with tears more than once. After the wedding was an elegant and beautiful reception. I had the honor of accompanying Fateweaver as he sang the tale of both houses. He enchanted the entire reception hall. I can only aspire to be as beautiful a bard as he. If only I had known this would be his last performance.
The doors bust open and The Duelist entered with a warrant for the arrest of someone I did not know. Or at least I did not think I knew him. Turns out it was for Fateweaver. The Lord Zathlan was visibly upset at the intrusion and to avoid bloodshed, Fateweaver turned himself over without incident. But before leaving, The Duelist produced some sort of arcfire crystal from his pocket and forcefully placed in against Fateweavers forehead. His screams became inhuman and he fell to the ground dead, his eyes smoldering. This provoked the Lord to attack. However, as if watching it in slow motion, the duelist drew his weapon and went for the kill. And his sword pierced the throat, not of the Lord, but of Sir Volstagg, who had interceeded. And to add insult to injury, The duelist slashed Volstagg’s throat. I immediately summoned a pixie to heal him. Diego cut down anyone who attempted to stop him. I saw that if nothing was done then this wedding would turn into a bloody nightmare. With everything I had in me I yelled for everyone to stop. Surprisingly they listened. Diego left and disappeared into the night.
The next day we were asked to leave. We were being hunted and Lord Zathlan needed to protect his people. He prepared Fateweavers body for travel and we began the journey back to Echer’Naught. As we crossed back into Olaran lands, we were greeted by two groups. The first was a group of Olarans led by Commander Olar. Despite my protests, they had the legal authority to take Fateweaver’s body. The other was a group of Rangers. We continued our journey home. I silently cried all the way.
Eternal Sun, 29
“It’s a mystery,” replied the Lion. "I suppose I was born that way. All the other animals in the forest naturally expect me to be brave, for the Lion is everywhere thought to be the King of Beasts. I learned that if I roared very loudly every living thing was frightened and got out of my way&****ip; “Perhaps,” said the Lion thoughtfully, “if I had no heart I should not be a coward.”
The dawn greeted me, same as it had for three weeks before. This day was to be another hot one, but it was unlike the rest. It held a promise. I was to be released. My rest came in fits the night before, and when I awoke, I felt a sleepy hope welling inside me.
Barely a day had gone by when I had not received a visitor. Sometimes a few, but only one which I eagerly anticipated, and she usually came around lunch. Sometime in the mid-morning my ears became attuned to the familiar sound of plate armor, and it was heading my direction. To my relief, Baron Wolfhaven appeared from behind the privacy curtain.
In anticipation, I tried to rise, and greet him on my own effort. The stinging sensation, and the Baron’s calm gesture compelled me to remain where I was.
“Baron Wolfhaven”, I began. “I am glad to see you”, I said, managing a smile. Ever amenable, he greeted me, and situated himself on the small stool which the hospital had provided. The unwarranted years etched across his features bespoke a man who forced an effort to appear that he moved in comfort.
We talked for a long while, but due to the lack of privacy, we were forced to keep our conversation at a hushed tone. As we spoke, The anticipation swelled inside of me, to the point where it must have shown on my face. As if on cue, Baron Wolfhaven grinned and said, “We have received word, and they have agreed.”
My heart leapt into my throat, and as waves of relief crashed over me it took all that I had to keep my composure. I was to remain here with the Rangers, where I would finish my remaining years of service! He continued, “As my gift to you, I would like to have your armor refurbished by my own personal armorers.” I hastily agreed, and promised to have my directions sent to his people posthaste. Also, he informed me that I was to speak with my team upon my release, and that we were to begin preparations for a lengthy stay in the field.
At this point, I could no longer contain myself, and I beckoned Wolfhaven closer. I whispered to him my long held secret, that Nexus had accepted my proposal. He reclined as a genuine smile, and what might have been mild surprise spread across his face. (I mean, honestly I was surprised myself. But hey, you never know if you don’t ask!) With a round of congratulations, the Baron gave me his assurance that, with the groundwork laid by Halten, both he and Malcom would make short work of the legal arrangements. Speaking out of turn, I adamantly informed him that I would acquiesce to whatever terms were offered. We agreed that the arrangements should be kept quiet, owing to our need for security. He rose, chuckling, and made himself ready to depart.
True to word, I was released a few hours later, and was given the supplies necessary to care for my still-healing burns.
(I seem to be spending an increasing amount of time slathered in grease&****ip;)
As ordered, (as soon as I had gingerly situated myself) I called the team into my quarters. I informed them of the Baron’s directives, and relieved Audric of the duties which he had been covering for me. He was obviously happy about it, and the team began preparing themselves.
The next day, my armor arrived. It was absolutely stunning, and yet it felt almost completely foreign. There was no trace of the Crimson enamel, and the worn leather had been replaced by new. Intricate filigree of red and black alternated around the edges, and the joints were inlaid with white. The old dints, and scars had been buffed away. It was as if I was seeing it for the first time.
For the next two days I resumed what duties I could, and tried to keep myself active. I found that the more I moved, the easier I felt. Progressively, I got to the point where I could dress myself. I met with the team, had lunch with Nexus, and set about making my own preparations.
On my third day out of hospital, the Baron called the entire team to his office. I was pleasantly surprised to find Leaora in attendance. Apparently things have been going well with the joint venture that she had most recently been in charge of. So, for a time she would join us, and I was glad for it. She has proven to be a friend most trustworthy.
The Baron bade us enter, and spoke of his concern for the well-being of the Alpha team. He wished to entertain any grievances that they may have had. In an act of genuine concern, he sat patiently listening to every individual, and any problems that they cared to discuss.
Courtesy compels me to retain their words unto myself. The conversations we’re between themselves and the Baron. But, I hope they all know that I support them without reserve. I am proud of my team.
It was during this meeting, that the Baron announced that we would be departing for a “vacation”, before our extended mission was to take place. After a brief heart palpitation I composed myself, and the rest of the team besides Nexus and myself were dismissed. He explained that the details had been handled, and that we were expected within days. Fortunately (for me) he made mention of a Galean custom, that an Everwood gift be presented during the ceremony. It was usually something which reminded the giver of the recipient.
****&****ip; at that moment I was at a total loss. Not unusual for me, by any means. But usually it’s not something terribly important. This was both unusual and terribly important. This would take some thinking.
Once we had departed, I racked my brain, trying to come up with something suitable. Finding a satisfactory answer, I privately asked Daynor for a very specific favor.
I commissioned him to create an Everwood band with a Whitesilver inlay. The inlay was to have Elven filigree, but the overall design would be kept decidedly elegant yet understated.
That afternoon Audric, Grendel, Daynor, and myself went “shopping”, at Stormhammer’s smithy. There I purchased the necessary components, and gave them over to our Malakaran craftsman.
While he set to work, the remainder of us made our way to the Wayfarer’s Rest, where we met our friends for dinner. At this point I had almost forgotten the danger that I had put them in months ago. We ate, drank, laughed&****ip; ,and somewhere in the midst of it all, I thought to myself, “you don’t deserve this.” I shook it off, and over the course of conversation it took everything that I had not to spill the proverbial beans.
The next day Daynor presented me with the finished product. It was exactly as I had envisioned, and in fact it was more than I could have asked for. A perfect circle with contrasting shades of light and dark. Elegant, beautiful, unmistakably Elven, almost unbreakable, and despite all it’s desirable qualities, understated in its own way. Add to that, the fact that with the strength of it’s components, in the right hands, and against the right enemy, it could be very, very dangerous&****ip; Yes. It was perfect.
I secured it away, and gave him recompense for his skill. In truth, I do not believe that I can ever repay him.
Two days later we departed, riding east. As we were mounting at the gates, I was approached by Baron Wolfhaven.
He had in tow Therrel Fateweaver. He asked if the Serenchal could join us, so that we might provide security for him. As it was, threats had been made against the old bard, and the Baron thought that it would be a good idea to get him out of the city for a while. Naturally I agreed, and we set out.
The ride was pleasant besides the heat, and every night we enjoyed a comfortable camp. The first night, I helped prepare dinner, and eating under the stars on the way to House Zathalin, is a memory that I will not soon forget.
A few days shy of two weeks, we crossed into the nation of Galaea. I have been here several times before, but the scenery never fails to impress. Where the majority of Olara is marked only by small rises, and flat plains, Galaea is known for rolling hills, and acres of undisturbed forest.
As we neared the Howling River bridge, I heard Fateweaver recounting the history of the nation to any who would listen. From there we turned roughly north, and within a few days we saw in the distance, a large group of riders waiting on the road ahead.
I rode just a bit further, and confirmed that it was indeed our escort, and I asked the rest of the party to remain in place while we made our introductions. Nexus joined me, and together we rode forward to meet her Father.
Nervous as I was, Lord Zathalin’s calm demeanor, and firm manner put me at rest. In truth, (not that I would express as much) he handles himself in a way more reminiscent of an Olaran Lord.
During the introductions, Lord Zathalin presented his retainers, and each of them bore sigils of the different houses, and organizations represented within both parties. A thoughtful gesture. He also made a pointed “request” that I order my team to differ all authority to his own house, and not to interpose ourselves in any of his affairs, unless otherwise asked. His wording brokered no argument, and naturally I acquiesced.
(No doubt word of my perceived misdeeds had reached him long ago. Honestly, I was a little surprised that he agreed to the wedding in the first place. Heh&****ip;)
With the matter settled, he invited us into his lands, and extended every courtesy which they might provide. As we neared the Township, and it’s Keep, our party was beset on all signs by well-wishers and onlookers. They showered us with garlands, and flower petals. It was at this point, I think everyone began to suspect that this was more than a vacation.
As a sidenote, I must have had my mouth open, because I inhaled, what I think was, a ******* petunia&****ip; Not wanting to spit, I had no choice but to swallow the *******. It did nothing to diminish my joy, but it tasted bloody awful.
Once shown inside, and introductions having been made, we were shown to our individual chambers. I took it as a great sign of regard, when even Grendel was given a modest abode of his own. I will say this, from what I have observed, Galaen courtesy is more freely given than that of my home country. Also, during that time I was introduced to Nexus’s mother.
For her part, Lady Zathalin is strong, yet gracious. I like them both very much, and hope to have a good relationship with them in the future. I tried to remember everything that I knew about Galaen custom, and in my own clumsy way was trying to remain as courteous as I could be. I did not want them to regret their decision.
The next day was an absolute blur for me. Lord Zathalin invited me to attend him on a hunt, and in even greater tribute, he offered any of my team who wished to go a place at his side. This is usually reserved for nobility, and I hope they took it as a great honor.
In the meantime, those who did not attend the hunt, we’re given a chance to spend the day at a nearby lake. By all accounts it went&****ip; Swimmingly. Heh.
During the course of the hunt, we had tracked a large stag for the better part of two hours. It was a wiley beast, and try as we might we could not bring it down. That is, until Grindle found himself a sizable stone, and with great accuracy, felled the beast with a single throw.
He was given the Lord’s personal blade, and he finished it on the spot. As the party reigned in, the cry went up, “Stagkiller!” He seemed confused at all the fuss, but I was exceedingly proud of him all the same. (My own discomfort at the name “Stagkiller” not withstanding. Heh?)
That night a feast was laid, and all within the Keep were invited to attend. Nexus and myself were seated on the long table in front, with her family, and with us was Grindel. He was the bringer of the prize stag, and therefore was awarded a seat of honor. While I looked at him, I wondered if any of his kind, and in his position, were ever awarded such a position. I was happy for him, despite his own non-understanding.
(Again, the irony of having a stag cooked and served is not lost on me&****ip; actually, it was more prophetic than I had ever imagined.)
It was during the feast, that Lord Zathalin announced the wedding, and that it would take place on the morrow’s afternoon. If any of the team harbored suspicions, they were now confirmed, and I felt great relief in that.
A Galaen feast is decidedly more proper than an Olaran (which usually ends with drunken revelry, in the small hours of the morning), so after the meal, and drinks, the festivity for the evening was concluded. We each went our separate ways, and I got little sleep that night.
The next day went by fast! That is, up until the late afternoon. I spent the entire morning getting dressed, and the only hiccup in the entire operation was trying to find the right damned shirt. Of course, after lunch, I was forced to find another one&****ip; My arming sword had been cleaned, and I belted it around my waist. As well dressed as I had been in some time, we made our way downstairs. (And let’s be honest. I looked fantastic!)
The service was short, and almost entirely foreign to me. It took place in the Grove which adjoined the Keep’s garden. Owing to the shade, the temperature was not altogether unpleasant.
I am not one to “gush”, but Nexus was absolutely resplendent when she appeared. The dress was of bleached white silk, and samite. With white tooling around the edges it was undeniably elegant, yet restrained. Fortunately, for me, I am a seasoned warrior, and was in no way unable to control my emotion. I did not cry, and I will fight any man who says otherwise&****ip;
Toward the end of the ceremony, we exchanged the Everwood tokens. Mine (which I found out later had been crafted by Daynor as well) was also a ring of Everwood, and had been carved into the visage of a lion. It was absolutely masterful, and it too had been inlaid with Whitesilver.
(She later explained it’s significance to me, and again, it is well that I am the very essence of manhood&****ip;)
The only odd occurrence happened as the rings were dipped into a bowl of, what I assume, was blessed water. The very water itself was illuminated with a silver glow, and the priest said something about it being a blessing. Honestly, I had no bloody idea. But, I was happy.
Once the ceremony was concluded, the party was invited inside for the formal reception&****ip; I am afraid that from this point things become somewhat clouded for me. For that, I am sorry.
What I do remember is that while we were finishing the last course, Therrel Fateweaver, and Leaora sang a ballad. I have always been a lover of music, but it was more than that. It was a history of our two houses. The melody seemed to transcend the very fabric of time and perception, and I never heard it finish. Somewhere in the Hall, a plate shattered, and we were brought back to reality.
In the moments that followed, I remember thinking to myself, “You don’t deserve this.” I had just shrugged off the feeling, when Lord Zathalin called for the first dance.
The pair of bards cleared the floor to thunderous applause, and the musicians begin to assemble. I was feeling an almost selfish satisfaction, when the door burst violently inward.
From that point, everything happened in a series of heartbeats&****ip;
The man strode forward, with an aged vellum scroll. He was unmistakably Nazatiran, and a long silver rapier hung at his side. I gave my word not to act, and my heart was racing.
Fear welled inside me.
He announced himself, and my mind struggled to process what was happening. I was too slow, and became afraid.
I could hear, but not fully understand what he was saying, “I am Dom Diego&****ip; an Olaran warrant&****ip; the criminal&****ip; he is also known as Therrel Fateweaver.” I took a step towards them, and my memories of all the reports that I had read came flooding back. It was all too late. The men turned as if to leave.
“Your fault Günther.”
A whine, a scream, and an ear splitting crack of energy. Half of those in the room collapsed, and the old bard’s body crumpled.
My arming sword hung forgotten at my side. There was no time. My team was frozen, just as I had ordered.
“VILLAN!”, Lord Zathalin screamed.
There was a flash of steel.
I do not know whether, in that moment, I had beaten the duelist to the draw, or if he simply did not care who his target was. But when I cut my eyes away from Lord Zathalin, and focused forward, I realized that I was looking down the blade of the dualist’s sword. I remember his face, gazing lazily upon me from over the basket hilt of the rapier, and I felt my heart quicken.
That is when the biting cold set in. It was not the pain of being run through, but fear.
“This. This is what you deserve.”
My vision unfocused, and it felt like an eternity. There was no blood. Not yet. I herd my pulse throb in my ears, and the sword slid free of my neck. I staggered, and before I could raise my hands to grasp the wound, Diego&****ip; The Duelist, had finished me. My knees buckled, and I reeled to the right. With the next heartbeat, the blood came. I tried to reach up, and grab at my throat, but my arms would not respond. Before I could hit the floor I was nearly gone, and my eyesight was dark red. I did not feel another heartbeat as the floor rose to greet me, and the room exploded into chaos. I could hear it, but the only thing that I could feel was an ice cold regret.
With the dying of the light, she was there. Her fair face, and white dress were bathed in Crimson.
“Not a bad way to die”, I thought. “You always said you wanted to die in the arms of a beautiful woman. Besides&****ip; at least it’s you this time.”
Then, there was nothing.
(The irony that I was impaled on my own wedding night was not lost on me, in case you were wondering.)
The next part is hard for me to recall. It seemed as though I was dreaming, and I still do not know if what I saw was real. I will try to remember it, but that is proving increasingly difficult as time goes on.
I found myself almost floating in blackness. There was no sound, and no light. Strange as it may seem, I could still think. Objectively, I knew that I was dead. Well, mostly anyway. But hey, at least I was happy for a moment before I died&****ip;
Suddenly, there was a vibrant light ahead of me. “This is it”, I thought in mild surprise. Part of me figured that I would just float in blackness forever&****ip; That’s what happens when you die, no? Then I felt a presence coming toward me.
“Günther&****ip;” I knew that voice. The one who was with me in Shivak Novos, when I was lost in the forest, and when we were being cut down by the Marksman. There was no mistaking it.
“I am Celesia.”
Fortunately I was still the master of my internal monologue, because, “What the ****&****ip;” was all I could really come up with.
After a moment I asked, “am I dead?” A vision begin to materialize in front of me, and it almost seemed that she took the form of a raven haired Elven woman. Standing before her, I felt very small, and weak. At the time, I did not even think about the fact that she looks nothing like a unicorn&****ip; stranger, still.
“Not quite, but you are close”, she responded with a comforting smile. Almost matronly in her appearance she was, at least, reassuring. “Günther&****ip; you can choose”, she continued. “They will need you.”
I snorted my derision and replied, “No. They don’t.” She seemed to fatigue at my disagreement, but she continued, “It does not matter what you think, or how you feel. You have a purpose.”
I looked away, and asked, “But why? Why all this? These things. No matter what I do&****ip;”
“What happens, happens. The Ascended are powerful, but not all powerful. In fact, the love between two individuals has more power in it than anything the Ascended could produce. They typically cannot manifest here, in the world. So, they choose individuals, mortals, to exert their will. That is why I am speaking with you. You can not save them all, but you have purpose nonetheless.”, she answered.
In my mind, I railed against this, "**** them&****ip; “champions.”“heroes.” I know the type. To be a hero, or a champion, or some kind of chosen person, all you have to do is either kill or be killed, and people love you." I wanted to cry, scream, I wanted to lash out like some kind of petulant child.
I never said as much out loud fortunately, because I did not understand. In truth, I still don’t.
It isn’t a punishment to be stupid. But what’s worse, is to be smart enough to know that you aren’t smart enough&****ip;
I do not know if she could tell what I was thinking. I hope not.
“I have a purpose”, was all I could muster. She nodded. “I do have reasons to live. I have A reason. They. She. All of them&****ip;”, I continued, as I found myself beginning to plead with her.
“I want to live.”
Celesia smiled. Then pain.
My eyes opened.
Nexus was looking down at me. The blood had dried crimson across her dress. I tried to speak, but I could not. I reached up and felt the bandage around my neck.
“Alive”, I thought. It hurt like ****, but I was alive. Breathing. Relieved beyond all hope. The air smelled incredible.
The nearby healer took notice, and explained to me that for several days I would not be able to speak much, if at all. He said, “By some miracle you are alive. Do not push it.”
Miracle&****ip; He use the word miracle, and I laid back for a moment to contemplate what that actually meant. What if he was right?
He informed me that my voice may never be the same, but as it is, I felt like that was a small price. I was alive, in this place, with my team, with Nexus, and that was good enough for me.
By that afternoon, I was up and walking. (After having my throat cut only 18 hours before, I could see where some might call that a miracle.) Lord Zathalin spoke with me, and offered his thanks for the night before. After that he asked me to take the team, and leave. I do not blame him. Had I been in his position, I would’ve done the same thing. He has many lives to consider, and after seeing what took place last night, he knows the kind of trouble that is following us.
With my limited voice, I tried to thank him. For everything.
We departed one another’s company on good terms, and I summoned Audric. I gave the orders for us to make ready, and by that afternoon, we were gone.
After I woke Nexus had given me the details on what had transpired after I fell, and I cannot help but feel at fault over the debacle. We came here, and we knew what trouble might arise. But, then again, sometimes you have to risk being a little selfish if you intend to get what you want. One good thing (besides the obvious), which came out of the trip, was that we have now seen his face. The Duelist.
Also, we know that the stories about him or not myth, but in fact, real. I should know. I have the scar to prove it. (I will have to ask Nexus whether or not it’s true, that women actually do dig scars. Heh.)
It’s funny&****ip; I would have thought that I would have born a grudge against Dom Diego. I don’t know if it was my supposed meeting with “The Silver Unicorn”, or just a new, and hopeful outlook. But whatever it is, grudge or no, we have now seen the fourth of the assassins.
For the next twelve days, we returned toward Echer’naught with the body of Therrel Fateweaver, or whatever his name really was. We were met at the border by Lord Garran Olar. He demanded the old bard’s remains, and I knew there was nothing that I can do to stop him from taking them. The man had been a friend to Baron Wolfhaven, but that had little bearing on anything now. Leaora objected to me, but there was no way that I could risk any more trouble with the Olaran legal system over the body of a criminal. I am sorry.
Upon arriving, we met with the Baron. He ordered me to get checked out by our own healers, and I complied. Also, he had arranged to have a small “get together”, at his home. A gathering among friends, if you will. The purpose of the gathering shall forever remain a mystery so far as I’m concerned. We are preparing for it later this afternoon, and now I must get dressed. With any luck, that will be the last excitement for a short while.
That’s all for now,
~Ser Günther Völkstagg
Sgt., Rangers of Echer’naught & Unicorn whisperer
PS: The stitches in my neck seriously itch&****ip; I mean really, really bad. Nexus says I can’t touch them. I wonder if they have a grease for that too?