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, RFC Daynore 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…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…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…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…
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…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.