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