Report Filed: Dark Moons 25th, 3126
Dark Moons 22nd, 3126
Early on the 14th of Dark Moons the newly reformed Alpha Team awoke in a roadside in a bit over half a days ride north of Echer’Naught along the North Barony Road. Based upon the complaints received by the local inkeep, I perceived there was some difficulty with the Trainee McKenzie Shan’s animal friends, the bear Volstagg, and and stallion, Diego. I question allowing untrained animals accompany teams in the field if these are to be the results, but such decisions are made well above my station.
Newly raised Corporal Grendel elected to begin the investigation at the most extreme, and most “friendly” Barony, that belonging to Colonel Wolfahven. Alpha Team rode through and arrived late in the evening on the same, Dark Moons 14th.
Baroness Wolfhaven’s bonded Farspeaker alerted Regional Command that Alpha had arrived safely. The Baroness provided all documented proof of paid taxes and assisted the team in their investigations. Her adepts reported that the Rangers inspected their vaults, the tax strongboxes, and the tax records. They would be departing in the morning and working their way south through the list of Baronies.
Per their report, we know that the taxes were collected by the barony and loaded into the king’s strongboxes before being secured within the barony vault. From there, a heavily armed caravan of the King’s men, under command of Royal Sheriff Halten, but under the flag of the King, arrived to transport the taxes to Echer’Naught. The barons claim payment of the King’s taxes, but the Royal Sheriff’s accountants have the Barons to be in arrears. No one dares accuse the King or the Sheriff, but the Barons refuse to pay more.
Dark Moons 15th, 3126
Leaving early, Alpha Team headed south to a neighboring Barony, the Boer House. Related to the Boers of Reinhart, though vassals of Harken. Alpha Team pass the the southern border of Wolfhaven lands at the site of Rildrirr’s Totem Pole. Though I have never witnessed it myself, it has been reported that it contains a stylized wolf’s head, wild cat, soaring eagle, owl, mountain, dog, doe, hearthfire, gnarled oak, and raging bear all stylized in the fashion of the Northern Barbarian Tribes.
They successfully reached Lord Boer’s Keep, but were not met with kindness. Still, the Olarans submitted to Ranger authority and provided Alpha Team their tax records, if just. From what I have learned, Boer records, like Wolfhaven’s, appear to be in order. Though, the Boer House refused to permit the Rangers to take their logs without a direct order from the King. They provided an “escort” to the lands south.
When Alpha Team arrived, they found an armed escort waiting. The southern Barons refused to allow the Rangers entry into their lands. Rather, at each new holdfast, the Rangers were met with armed men, and records. The Barons met their obligations, but showed no courtesy or kindness. Still, in their ill manners, they actually expedited the Ranger investigation, saving a trip to each individual hold. Still, it took two days to investigate the northernmost baronies.
Dark Moons 17th 3126
On the 17th, the Alpha Team arrived at the midway point between the Wolfahven Barony and the city. Over the last few years, the community has grown into a thriving trading post and waystation. Here, Alpha Team stopped two days to investigate. They had received intelligence suggesting that the King’s men had stopped in the vill during their tax collection on their way south to Echer’Naught.
Nothing is found of interest to the mission, though I continue to read troubling reports that the team has been stalked by a pair of large Ravens since departing for the mission. The Rangers of Alpha Team fear the Ravens serve dark forces, though I have been unable to determine the truth. Ravens are oft used as messengers by various factions with the Southern Kingdoms and beyond, so these messengers might belong to anyone. Troubling news.
Dark Moons 19th, 3126
Alpha Team departs the waystation on their return to Echer’Naught. Along the way, the investigate the southern half of the list of Northern Baronies in arrears. Like the others, the Rangers are met with stoic hostility, but if the Barony papers are accurate, none are guilty of tax evasion.
Dark Moons 21st, 3126
Alpha Team arrived in Echer’Naught late in the evening. Corporal Grendel reported to Colonel Anderson regarding the mission and the lack of any usable leads. The Colonel noted that many of the King’s Men patronized the Barracks in town. This information in hand, Alpha Team headed into the city to meet with, and hopefully question, the King’s own tax collectors. While in town, I have been informed that Aronzo has received a cloak of serious power. The records surrounding the cloak, and its history, are sealed.
By night, Alpha Team entered The Barracks in small groups. Sssahliissstah protected young Ingrid with Grendel and Ranna at the bar. Aronzo, Blackstone and McKenzie approached a table of the King’s men. Again, while ostensibly under command of the highest officer in the city, Sir Halten, Royal Sheriff and Warden of Echer’Naught, these men wore the colors of House Olar, and the royal crest.
Through drink and carousing, Aronzo and McKenzie realized the officer of the King’s Guard, and royal Exchequer, was guilty of some crime, though they knew not what. Ingrid joined McKenzie to keep the Kingsguard busy, while Aronzo “invited” the Office to speak privately with Corporal Grendel to the rear of the tavern. There, under the withering gaze of the ogre, the Office Wulfur of the Royal Exchequer, admitted that “they”, though he knew not who, had taken his wife and demanded that he grant them access to the tax wagon while it stopped at the midway trading post. That was all he knew, but he agreed to submit to the King’s justice.
While Grendel gathered the team from the tavern, much to the dismay of the King’s men, Sssahlisstah and Aronzo escorted Office Wulfur to Sir Halten’s estate where he was immediately taken into custody. Meanwhile, Corporal Grendel ordered Alpha Team to gear up and prepare to move. By the 11 PM on the 21st, Alpha Team was hard charging north, with Aronzo, Blackstone, and an inebriated McKenzie and Ingrid riding hard, with Corporals Grendel and Sssahliissstah, and RFC Ranna lagging behind. The entire command staff.
Dark Moons 22nd, 3126
At around mid-day on the lead element, under ostensible command of Aronzo, arrived in the mid-point trading village and began their search. Aronzo using his cloak. Breaking into pairs, with Aronzo and Blackstone each taking one of the drunk woman, they made a quick survey of the community and both arrived at a seemingly abandoned barn on the extreme north-east side of town. They attempted to scout the location and wait for backup, but they were quickly spotted. The quartet come under fire from inside, so Aronzo ordered the attack.
With the four Ranagers, and the bear Volstagg, they made quick work of the two men inside. They also found a wagon of straw, that covered a false bottom. In the secret compartment were cases of gold, melted into ingots. Blackstone and Ingrid secured the goods while Aronzo and McKenzie headed into town meet up with the rest. Corporal Grendel’s team arrive around 1PM to find the gold recovered, and the enemy easily dispatched…by four new Rangers, two being well pissed during the entire encounter. The team was exhausted, so Corporal Grendel ordered rest. They camped in the barn until early the next morning.
Dark Moons 23rd, 3126
At dawn, the Rangers switched up the oxen, leaving the Ranger wagon at the inn, escorted the stolen gold back to Echer’Naught. They arrived late, but immediately turned gold and wagon over to Sir Halten, who seemed surprised at such a swift resolution. Still, the gold was counted, weighed and secured in a vault to be collected by the King. Alpha Team elected to celebrate, save for Corporal Grendel and Corporal Sssahliissstah who report to Colonel Anderson. Grendel suspects there is something wrong with the mission, and asked for permission to continue the investigation. Colonel Anderson ascents, and pulls strings to pressure Sir Halten into granting Corporal Grendel access to the gold.
Dark Moons 24th, 3126
With orders in hand, Alpha Team returns to a very unhappy Sir Halten. Under protest, he grants Corporal Grendel access to the vault. There, Grendel discovers the gold is really gilded lead when he scars an ingot with his club. Furious, Sir Halten gives the team 48 hours to recover his gold or he would hold Corporal Grendel personally responsible for the failure to recover the taxes.
Alpha Team again, saddles up and rides north. This time, to investigate the last place the gold was seen, the abandoned barn.
Dark Moons 25th, 3126
Back, AGAIN, the Rangers arrive mid day and begin their search. Sssahlisstah discovers deep wagon ruts under the snow leading north and east from the barn. Following the tracks the Rangers arrive at a seemingly abandoned farmhouse just before nightfall. Ingrid summons a faerie to scout, but she loses contact once the creature disappears into the complex of three large farmhouses. Next, Corporal Grendel and Aronzo, now an Ogre, approach the front house while the Rangers fan out into a skirmish line.
All seems quiet until Grendel bashes down the door and is met by fire from within. Above them, a hatch drops and a hidden ballista opens fire, rocking Ranna with poisoned bolts. Battle ensues as Grendel attempts to force his way inside, and the skirmish line engages the ballista. All seems well, with Blackstone rushing in to heal Grendel’s wounds, and the team taking out the ballista, when the enemies within the farmhouse exit the rear just as the whole structure explodes.
Corporal Grendel, Aronzo, and Blackstone are immediately taken out. Through the roil of smoke and flames, more enemies pour from the other two houses, with two more ballista appearing. The Rangers come under heavy fire. Corporal Sssahliissstah closes with the enemy, but she too takes hits and goes down. Ranna assumes command, with Ingrid summoning more faeries to heal the fallen Blackstone. Sadly, the Rangers are too late. The enemy commander appears, standing over Grendel’s body. He orders the Rangers to surrender or Grendel would die.
Ranna orders the surrender and the remaining Rangers drop their weapons and are rounded up. It is then that the commander orders Aronzo, Sssahliissstah, and Blackstone slain, Grendel and Ranna sold into slaver, and permits his men to “have” “the women.” When the situation turned darkest, arrows rained from above and an Aevakar entered the fray, engaging the enemy commander directly.
With the distraction provided, the Rangers attacked, Ingrid finally healing Blackstone and Grendel. Blackstone healed Aronzo and made for Sssahliissstah. The rest of the Rangers fought. Their new friend killed the commander and then help engage the remaining foes. The tide turned. Blackstone healed Corporal Sssahliisstah bringing the team back to full status. Along with the newcomer, the Rangers quickly overpowered the enemy troops, killing all but two who Aronzo managed to incapacitate.
The battle was won, but they still had two buildings to clear. Corporal Grendel wisely called for support, which the newcomer, Steelwing as he is called, sent his own eagle to deliver the message to the nearest Ranger HQ. Taking just a moment to lick their wounds, Alpha team surrounded the remaining buildings and waited for reinforcements. Though they have yet to find it, they presume the gold lies within. And if now, those who stole it.