Shaintar Legends Awaken: Rangers of the Greenway Road; Regional Command-Echer'Naught

Campaign Report 28
New Beginnings and Rising Darkness

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Sixteenth Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

There is, in my humble opinion, truth to the curse, “May you live in interesting times.” For, our time is far too interesting. It seems that no sooner do we vanquish one foe than another rears its ugly head like some monster from the depths. I had hoped, though vainly it seems, that with the conclusion of the War of Flame that my country would afforded some measure of peace. But it is not to be.

I gathered my Rangers on the morning of the 8th of Harvest Moons to discuss recent events and lay out plans for the future. I revealed to my Rangers that as Winter fell upon the lands, plans were already in motion for the resumption of hostilities with Camon when Spring thawed winter snows. My operations commander, Hawkslcaw has his orders.

I revealed to them also of the coming Winter summit when representatives from three independent kingdoms, Eon’Voltuh, Stahlheim, and Jasara, would gather in Echer’Naught to officially sign the Ranger Charter. Every energy would be bent to ensure the town’s readiness and security of the delegates would be paramount. To that end, all local threats would need be swiftly and harshly dealt with.

On a good note, word had reached my desk that my old friend Ivan “The Lighthouse” Sokolov’s new restaurant, The Wayfarer’s Rest, neared completion and an opening night was in preparation. As shareholders and local security we would be invited to attend the opening as honored guests and additional security. I tasked Hawksclaw to liaise with Lighthouse on security.

Another even better turn of events, was a letter from Master Builder Garok Mason to Corporal Longtail revealed that the construction of her Wolfhaven’s Home for Lost Children had been completed on the 6th. He waited on her arrival to turn over keys and completed paperwork. To this I tasked Longtail, though I required her to maintain the ruse of the her death.

Unknown to my team, I had received word from an old friend of mine, and a former comrade of Longtail’s. Athrate Alystar, Priest and Paladin of Light, that he and a small team were close and bearing vital intelligence for my Rangers. They were on the trail of a situation which might threaten the entire region. I let my team know that we would be having guests, but as I knew not the time, I was vague on the timeline.

My last order of business for the morning was to promote Sergeant Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw to Lieutenant for his exemplary service to the Rangers and to this outfit. I presented him his gold ring personally. In my position, there are few more rewarding moments than these.

After that, I dispatched my men to their various tasks. I find it disheartening that each time I dispatch my team I wonder if I will ever see them again. Perhaps one day we will all be able to retire and live our lives in relative peace. But not this day.

From her reports, I know that Corporal Longtail went to check on the status of her orphanage. There she found the crews finishing cleaning and trim work. With little pomp or circumstance the Dwarven master builder turned over the keys and deed papers to Longtail. And with that, my Ranger took command of her first post.

Of note, I understand that she acquired a female orc to run day to day operations at the orphanage. Perhaps I grow paranoid, but asked Sergeant Major Stormhammer to pull what information he could find on Longtail’s hire, just as a precaution.

It took some doing, but what he found either instills me with great confidence or fear.

Her name is Brunhild Hildebrandt. But she is better known as Skullcrusher. As it happens, a local trader long ago reported to the Olaran military that she worked in or ran a nursery up to the War of Flame, It is unclear, but Stormhammer supposes that she must have had her own brood as she worked as a wet-nurse (according to very sketchy reports). Her gather was annihilated during the War of Flame and all of her family, and the children in her charge, were killed in the attack. Stormhammer believes the young goblinesh might have been used as fodder for childer. How she survived is unclear, but after reading her intelligence report, I would be surprised if anything could kill her. Brunhild was taken captive by the Kalinesh forces and used as slave labor until she saw her moment and in a blitz attack, grabbed her jailer’s skull in her bare hands, crushing it to pulp. She she snapped her own chains and bludgeoned the other guards to death before grabbing a battle-ax and staggering into the wilderness. She re-appeared a short time later in the ranks of a mercenary company of war refugees and ex-Olaran soldiers. There she served during the bulk of the war as a berserk fighter racking up an impressive number of kills. During one particularly savage engagement, she purportedly twisted off a Minotaur’s head with her bar hands. Her service was exemplary, but not without issue. On multiple occasions she defied direct orders when the lives of children were in jeopardy. The first time, she ran into a burning building to save three kids getting severe burns over most of her body, an injury which continued to plague her. This culminated in an altercation with her superior that landed her a discharge and him in the hospital with severe head trauma that left him “never right afterwards” according to his companions. Rather than be kicked out of the service, she was transferred to a supply unit where she quickly rose to command. That is until in the course of her duties, the commander of the Kalinesh unit who slaughtered her brood was processed through her post. The moment she spotted him her rage overtook her. Before the guards could stop her, she grabbed the man, twisted off his head and ripped out his spine before bludgeoning his headless corpse into pulp. After that, the military was forced to release her. Her records vanish until after the war where she appears again as an administrator for the LongArms security company in Echer’Naught. Until being hired by Corporal Longtail as the Operator of the orphanage. Stormhammer checked out the orphanage, just a courtesy, and her reports that Brunhild’s office is the only room already set. It contains, a cot, a desk, a dresser, a stuffed Minotaur head on the wall, a Bloodsteel Battleaxe with a pair of iron shackles as counterweights hanging from the haft and a sun bleached skull, surprisingly human looking, as a paperweight on her desk. But, she submitted to a mind scan by Eris who approved her posting. It is a fair bet the children of the orphanage will have no issue with discipline…or safety.

After which, Longtail requested permission to travel south to Eckhart lands to check on the orphan she saved during the Shadowboar incident months ago. I, of course, approved, but dispatched Ranger Alfred to accompany her. We are still under orders to travel in pairs.

At the same time, Lieutenant Hawksclaw took Ranger Que’kasaars to the Wayfarer’s Rest to liaise with Lighthouse about security for his grand opening celebration. By all reports, the ale was “interesting, but good.” Lt. Hawksclaw met with Ivan’s chief of security, an Orc fighter who laid out their security details and established a timeline. After leaving the Rest, my men spoke with Vasser about the Watch. Hawksclaw had a private meeting, details forthcoming later.

Then, as a reward, Hawksclaw and Que’kasaars stopped by the Autumn Spring for lunch.

Two days later on the 10th, my team, minus Longtail, gathered at the Wayfarer’s Rest just after noon. As expected, the restaurant was in an uproar making final preparations for opening evening. Working with local security, Lt. Hawksclaw posted the Rangers out front to manage the crowds which had already started to gather.

By dusk, when I arrived, the streets were thronged with eager diners and Lt. Hawksclaw had everything well in hand. I confess an overwhelming sense of pride seeing ranks of Green cloaks striding confidently through the streets.

Displaying his usual ability at perfect timing, the Lord Mayor arrived in a horse drawn carriage and was the first admitted to the Rest. He stepped out like a king and made sure to be seen by all of the lesser nobles and sycophants waiting in line. With that, the floodgates opened and we spent the next few hours checking weapons at the door and making sure no one was trampled.

At about 10, Ivan himself came and invited my Rangers to a private meal at the Chef’s table, which turned out not to be in the kitchen, but high above the building in the rat’s nest of a ship’s mast. The ship, taking up about 1/3 of the building had been turned into a massive sea aquarium. According to Ranger Que’kasaars, retired members of an ancient Naval Sorcerer’s Guild the Navaquilera had been hired to maintain the salt water environment.

After a harrowing climb up “rat-lines” we came to an overlarge “rat’s nest” we were seated around a table set about the mast. Then, in a magnificent display of acrobatics, a serving team of Goblins laid out the table and served wine, ale and water. Then, they brought up something called Lobster, some form of sea-bug. Once you get past the repulsive exterior, it is actually quite good with melted butter and garlic. There was also sauteed muscles and sea-salt taffy.

I typically avoid such fine foods, but I am quite impressed with the flavor of the meal.

After dinner was completed, we returned to our duty seeing the last of the guests safely to their doors. And, after short after party, we all returned to the Manor for a decent nights sleep, other than those required to stay on duty such as Ranger Sir Lugard.

Hawksclaw also brought news of a possible deal that would, once and for all, deal with the assassin threat to my men. But to win, we would be forced to make a deal with the assassin responsible for attempting to murder Longtail. I know I had informed Hawksclaw to do whatever it took to find those responsible, but it still does not sit well with me to deal with that monster. Even so, I refused to make a decision until speaking with Longtail.

I also informed Hawksclaw that there were rumblings in the Duchy of Harken to remove Lord Mayor Von Haber from his position. During our meeting, the Lord Mayor had pushed me for my loyalties. At the time, I demurred.

However, I feel more pressed than ever to pick a side in a political battle I have avoided my entire life. Choose wrongly and I might thrust my entire command in a war which we cannot hope to win. But, failure to take a side will certainly result in great upheaval which threatens to destroy everything we have built. It might even result in the expulsion of my Ranges from Echer’Naught. I admit, in this battle I am at a loss on which route to take.

Two days later, on the 12th, we received a messenger from the Town Watch that Longtail and Alfred had been spotted south of town, but in the company of a large wagon. I dispatched Hawksclaw to meet her at the Orphanage. As it turned out, while in the Eckhart lands, Longtail had acquired 24 war orphans who sought sanctuary in her new orphanage. Worse, she returned with reports of lands under siege by forces of Darkness and confirmed political intrigue in Echer’Naught. She also brought news of a possible deal. If we would agree to send an army to support young Lord Eckhart, he would agree to support whomever I chose.

I will defend the lands of Olara, regardless. But as to the battle at home, I know not.

After Longtail delivered her report, I asked to speak with her privately. There I asked frankly whether she wished to move forward with the assassin’s deal. I would have much preferred to to refuse the deal and find a way, any other way, to deal with the threat. But, showing immense dedication and mercy, Longtail consented to the deal only if she could be the one to meet and to deliver the final goods to the assassins.

I reluctantly approved the mission. The deal was simple, the assassin leads us to the “broker” who holds the contract on our lives, and the bounty, and we allow him to take his “cut” for Longtail’s assassination…and let him leave alive and free. Hawksclaw arranged for a meet with the assassin.

Longtail apparently went shopping and then arranged for young Sarah to move in permanently to the outpost. I am well pleased to have her here with us.

Later that evening, more, early the morning after, Athrate Alystar arrived with his associates, a human Darkness Slayer Mujin Von Deitrich, and a massive Ogress warrior named Fekla. I sent Felka to our stables, the only structure large enough to house her. Von Dietrich I sent with Evoran to the kitchens for food while I went into conference with Sir Alystar.

What he revealed has rocked me to my core. If his information is correct, as we have battled storms, arcmancers, criminals and Prelacy agents, a much larger threat has been growing just south of our lands. A threat, if not checks, threatened to destabilize our entire region.

As we spoke, Evoran pulled reports from all corners and going nearly a year back. The picture they painted lined up perfectly with Sir Alystar’s warning.

Reports from Sun’s Crossing (1 & 2), Illiana’s Point, Athrate’s personal logs (1, 2 & 3). Von Dietrich’s letters and even our own reports.

In summation: Forces of Shaya’Nor had for almost a year been sending teams of agents into the Southern Kingdoms hunting for arcane artifacts of extraordinary power. During their missions, they had managed to dig up numerous powerful servants of Vainar and raise them from torpor. One of these servants, or another Lord of the Dead had began to establish a base of power south of Echer’Naught, but north of Farwatch. In addition, the sudden appearance of a strange dark powder that seemed to have the ability to forcibly convert Goblinesh to Trogladesh and reports of Builders and forces of Flame working with these teams presented a terrifying prospect.

Someone of immense power was raising an army of Darkness in the Northern Wildlands. And, we had very little information as to who. We had received rumors of a “Dark Court”: a powerful warlord known only as “The Butcher”, a suspected builder called “The Mechanist”, a possible vampire known only as “Morden”, a Wraith called “The Fiend”, an immense werewolf known as “The Wolf”, and someone called the “Baron of Farwatch”.

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And at their head, a new Dark Power who seemed obsessed with ancient artifacts of Dark power, and one particular item…something called the Chalice of Blood.

After delivering their report, and hearing about the woes in Eckhart lands, Alystar and Von Dietrich resupplied and then left to head south to continue the fight.

All of this happened on the morning of the 13th. That evening, we received word that the Assassin would meet and I sent Longtail and Hawksclaw to the meeting with a heavy heart. Of the meeting, I know only that it was mediated by our sometimes friend/ sometimes bane Therel Fateweaver.

That was a very sleepless night.

Upon their return I learned that the assassin, a Malakaran had met them in the wee hours in a tavern in Low Town. He led them out of town to the North where the traveled until dawn arriving at a quaint farmhouse just off the main road.

The assassin explained that the house would be guarded by about 8 guards and it was not nearly as quaint as it seemed. In truth, in the bucolic design, my Rangers noted a flat, open killing field and a sturdy stone house with clear lines of fire on all sides.

Hawksclaw sent Longtail and the assassin as scouts, while he approached the house from the side. He had nearly reached the killing field when a bolt from an upstairs window pierced his shoulder.

His position revealed, Hawksclaw quickly engaged, sprinting across the killing field and blasting the sniper’s perch with a Jet of pure Life energy.

Meanwhile, at the front door, Longtail picked the lock and walked into a fire trap and an ambush. With her usual courage, she pushed through and quickly dropped one bandit. Outside, Hawksclaw was climbing up the house and through the hole he created.

When Hawksclaw entered the house, he found the body of the man he had blasted, alive, but down. Another man fired at him missing. Hawksclaw again unleashed a magic torrent and blasted a hole in the wall, but this time missed the man.

Downstairs Longtail attacked the second bandit, engaging in melee. Trading blows in a furious battle, my Ranger taking only superficial wounds.

Upstairs, Hawksclaw chased his foe around the house until he heard the man throwing himself out of a second story window to escape the Alakar Ranger. What Hawksclaw did find was the last two bandits dead outside a cracked door. Below, Lontail slew the last bandit and turned to head deeper into the downstairs rooms.

Cautiously, Lt. Hawksclaw entered the room to find a tidy office, a large desk before a window overlooking the farm. Slumped over the desk was an Olaran man in fine clothes and beside the unconscious man was the assassin. The man claimed that the “broker” was not dead, but unconscious and that he had his money.

Lt. Hawksclaw allowed the assassin to leave with his coin, but before he did, he made sure the contracts on our lives remained. Not only did Hawksclaw recover the contracts, but also a wealth of information on Red Store in Echer’Naught. He might have uncovered more, but his earlier display of power had severely damaged the house and Longtail shouted a warning that the house was coming down.

Without hesitation, Lt. Hawksclaw lifted the unconscious man and hurled him out of the window before racing back to the first man and dumping him, still unconscious, out of his original hole. The prisoners out of danger, Hawksclaw scrambled out the hole and to the ground.

As he secured the guard, he sent Longtail to grab the “broker”. Just as they began to load the men on the horses, the house behind them collapsed and caught on fire. Leaving the ruins behind them, Longtail and Hawksclaw mounted their horses and returned to Echer’Naught by the evening of the same day, the 14th.

With the assassin’s dealt with, we were more free to move about the town. It was on the 15th that young Sarah began to act very oddly indeed, spending long hours within her chambers, sewing. Early in the day, she handed each of us an invitation that announced the union between [redacted] and [redacted] at location [redacted]. Then, about mid-day Longtail was taken away by a group of 12 heavily armed Brinchie. Throughout the remainder of the day strange visitors arrived including High Druidess Treesinger, a rare and delightful treat.

A few hours before dusk, Sarah broke us into groups and handed each group a series of directions. I was paired with Stormhammer and after a rousing romp through half of Echer’Naught and the region to the north of the town I entered an enchanting glade filled with a Brinchie tribal camp.

Garlands of flowers, blooming out of season strung between trees and saplings. A great roaring fire spat sparks into the night’s sky. Food and beverages, casks of ale and bottles of wine were stacked around a ceremonial ring. The last to arrive was Streetrunner in a intricately tooled leather armor and ceremonial Brinchie armor. Out of the great tent stepped Aradove Longtail in a close fitting dress of fine linen with loose fitting arms and careful needlework around the throat, cuffs and hems. It was a cream color and far less provocative than the first outfit she wore when we first met.

And yet, there was a simple purity to the dress which hugged and complimented her form, light against the gray of her fur. She was at once elegant and innocent, beautiful and proud. I could not have been more proud of her if I were her own father.

She came to Streetrunner and in a language I do not know, Brin, exchanged vows of undying love. Then, their hands were tied and a voice rang out through the night air singing in the same tongue a song of such beauty and loss that I nearly wept. As he sang, Treesinger and her four Druids sang blossoms into being which carpeted the ground and filled the air with the sweet scents of wildflowers.

I have never experienced such a moving ceremony and it will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. Before the revelry became too much, I pulled young Longtail aside. Since Streetrunner had asked for my blessing to marry Longtail, a custom he little understood but wished to respect our custom, I have wracked my brain for a suitable wedding gift.

After much deliberation I resolved to offer Longtail my most precious possession, my name and honor. To her, I presented papers inducting Longtail and her future family as a Vassal family to the Wolfhaven estate. She seemed overjoyed and I detected tears. She accepted and released me to depart before any sort of depravity could sully my reputation.

Before leaving, I revealed to Hawksclaw and Longtail that, after accepting Hawksclaw’s request to enter his family as a Vassal to my own that, with the signing of the papers, we would all be a family not just in the strength of our bonds but in all legal matters. With that, I departed, but leaving a happy couple and my new kin.

I rode back to Echer’Naught, my only companion young Alfred who has taken his oaths as my squire to heart. Together, we entered Echer’Naught during the 13th hours, as the cold winds of winter began to tug at our cloaks.

Yet as the warmth of the matrimony fire faded, thoughts colder and darker than the wintry night invaded my mind. Plans were already in motion for the Echer’Naught summit, and while we had vanquished Assassins, Prelacy, Red Store, the Mad Bomber and suppressed the Flame Archer, now a new, graver threat loomed on the horizon.

I must secure out southern border and at the same provide superlative protection for the Summit. Never mind future plans for the Crimson Crusade.

Quietly, I returned to my office and began plans which would have ramifications for my family, my city, and my country for decades or centuries to come.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Campaign Report 27
Homecoming

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Fourth Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

On the 9th of Dancing Clouds, I departed the city of Crystara in the company of a small unit of Rangers, a handful of Olaran troops and the entirety of the Hammerfell Company of Echer’Naught. Many of the civilians who remained during the attack turned out to honor us with a hero’s farewell. I was touched by their gifts and their gratitude. If I fought for nothing else, I would fight for these.

Our trip was uneventful, though chilly. Occasional rain and a few frigid mornings heralded the coming of autumn. After 20 days of easy marching, our column arrived in Camp Wolfhaven on the 28th of Dancing Clouds by way for Karas, Southgate, and then Hale. I am much pleased to see the camp so well established.
All four the large tents are properly erected upon each corner around a wide, flat quad centered upon the Olaran Royal Standard, the Ranger Emblem and my personal house colors. To my surprise, and deep pleasure, enterprising soldiers have constructed wooden paneled walls around the base of each hospital tent creating much sturdier, and warmer, lodging for our wounded.

The accompanying military encampment proceeds apace with typical Olaran efficiency. Rows of officer’s tents stretch along a wide avenue parallel to the western face of the quad, opposite the river. Stretching perpendicular to the officer’s street are line upon line of tents along company rows. We now have a veritable city of tents, housing well over a thousand troops. South of the quad, a much less organized, but equally sizable tent community has sprung up to service the troops, doctors, visitors and patients working in and around the Field Hospital.

The north face of the installation remains dedicated solely to defense, devoid of tentage or camps. Strong defensive lines have been dug deep, berms, ditches and palisades all oriented to the north and east. Should the Prelacy wish to threaten our forces again they will find Camp Wolfhaven a tough nut to crack.

To the east of the camp lies the river a short distance away. Hardly a great barrier, the river does provide fresh water to the invalids and creates a bucolic atmosphere to the enterprise.
In all, it is picture perfect.

I could be not be more pleased in the military bearing or industriousness of the men under my command.
We road in, heralded out nearly 15 miles by our advanced scouts and pickets. The terrain around the camp remains nearly saturated by troops and riders. All approaches from any direction will be seen and challenged long before threatening the camp.

I must admit that I took three days of rest before resuming my official duties as base commander. During that time, I toured the wards, speaking with the patients and bringing what comfort I could to the wounded. I also removed my cloak and badges of rank, rolled up my sleeves and turned a shovel with the church laborers erecting the first permanent structure about the camp: a Church of Light.

It felt good to just work; good honest labor.

But, duty called and by the last day of the month of Dancing Clouds, I officially resumed command of Camp Wolfhaven and set about making preparations to carry the camp through the winter into the new year.
From reports, I learned over the next weeks that the battle among the trees of the Crystal Forest was going well. Prelacy forces were being pushed back on all fronts, though not without losses. Without their general, the army had lost its will and drive to win.

The self-same general, at that time, remained under constant guard at an undisclosed location within Camp Wolfhaven. Only a very select number of our people were even permitted access. It required nearly three weeks after our arrival for the interrogation team to arrive from Kythros to take over the man’s questioning. Whatever my personal feeling for the Prelacy may be, I must admit that the man was well trained and dedicated to his cause. It may take time before any actionable intel can be gleaned.

I remained in the camp for a little over a month, through the entirety of Forest Dance. Through considerate negotiation I was able to secure a permanent force of Olaran troops for the camp and, in gratitude, secured supplies from Harken, Hale, Stagg, Tarnn and even promises from Thuls. With winter coming and the Prelacy offensive in a cooling phase, I felt confident turning over command of the Camp to my Executive Officer, Lieutenant Macha Panta.

Based upon his military bearing and conspicuous valor during the entirety of the Crimson Crusade campaign, I feel confident in his abilities to maintain and improve the military and relief readiness of Camp Wolfhaven. For his services and during the time in which he will perform the duties as active commander, I am extending the rank of *Brevet Captain. Permanency of this rank will depend upon the needs of the Ranger Corps and his execution of these duties.

*The title and rank of Captain will only be extended in relation to official duties pertaining to command of Camp Wolfhaven. In all other respect, the Rank of Lieutenant will remain the official rank and privilege.
I was honored to present this command to “Captain” Panta during a private ceremony in our command tent the eve before I departed for Echer’Naught.

On the following morning, 7th of Raining Leaves, I departed saying farewell to friends and allies. My return trip was in relative solitude. Most of my rangers had remained behind in camp to continue their duties. Brother Thaleon had long since returned to Farwatch and the Hammerfell riders had never made the northern turn to Camp Wolfhaven. From Hale, they continued on to Harken and then Echer’Naught. I assume that they arrived back in the town by the end of Dancing Clouds; the 31st or 32nd.

My only companion was a pair of King’s Riders heading in the same direction from Tarnn. They were hardly conversationalist and our trip was swift and in general silence.

My return to Echer’Naught was without fuss or fanfare on the 15th of Raining Leaves. We reached the Dwarven gate just after dusk, making it through as they were being closed and barred for the night. With a nod, I bid farewell to my travel companions and turned Thunder toward my house and the temporary Ranger Outpost.
Yet, no sooner had I reached the gates to High Towne when Eris Moonsilver, our unit Telepath, screamed in my mind with such pain and distress I knew that it could herald but one thing…Hawkslcaw had been wounded or killed.

By Archanon’s Grace, I felt a surge in the savage power of Flame coming from the Mayoral Manse. Thinking of nothing but the safety of my Rangers, I spurred Thunder onward, sprinting the 1/8th mile from the gate to the manse in a matter of heartbeats.

I dismounted at a full gallop and sprinted for the front door of the Lord Mayor’s Manor. In the periphery of my mind, I noted the bodies of fallen guards and servants, but at the time my sole concern was for my men. I hit the Grande Hall like an onrushing tide of horsemen, casting about desperately for the source of Ceyenara’s brutal power.

And then I heard her…Ranger Aradove Longtail…

Perhaps it was her voice, echoing through the halls, perhaps in some way Eris echoed her thoughts to me. Whatever the case I heard, and felt, her fear…and her determination.

Shouting Archanon’s name, I opened my heart to his power of Light and stepped…
…into a basement hallway wreathed in fire and flame.

Coming toward me from the left was a creature from nightmare, a demon cloaked in human flesh, fires of damnation wreathing his hellish form.

At my feet, Hawksclaw clutched his arm, pierced by one of the Flame Archer’s Blood Steel tipped arrows. Behind me, a young man in Harken livery lay prostrate on the ground, an arrow through his right heel. Wreathed in shadows, Longtail ensconced near the boy, lay in ambush weapons free.

I ordered her to “get them clear,” before turning to face the Flame Archer.

Of that battle, I remember little. He began firing his bow faster than humanly possible, those terrible arrows ripping through the air around me, each wreathed in flames. For my part, I desperately threw up my father’s blade as a shield against the onslaught.

I managed to wound the beast, but not before he planted an arrow in my side. It pierced my armor like wax paper and burned as if my innards were alight. Yet, Ceynara’s minion suffered the worse. I cleaved him from hip to shoulder, opening him up. Only the power of the Queen of Hell kept him in this realm.

After he fled, I returned to the Grande Hall and exited the front door to find my Rangers waiting for me. Rildrirr first, one foot on the step, Ice sword in hand prepared to face any and all evil. Behind him Longtail, still more shadow than flesh, swords out, eyes bright. Behind them stood an Eldakar Sorcerer, Evoran Que’kasaars, a new Ranger I knew only by name and reputation.

Before I could even think to speak, Longtail sprinted the distance between us and threw herself into my arms. A warmer and more glorious welcome I could not have hoped for. After sufficient time, I finally set her down and greeted my Rangers in turn, Rildrirr and Evoran.

I asked for a quick situation report from Longtail who explained, in brief, that the Flame Ranger had attacked the Manse to assassinate a prisoner. Hawksclaw had intervened and been struck down. While I had battled the Flame Archer, Rildrirr and Evoran delivered Hawksclaw to the sacred grove for healing. At the same time Longtail and Gendarre’s unit had escorted the young Harken to the Chapel of Light for healing and safety.
Ordering my Rangers to locate and secure the Lord Mayor Von Haber, I went about gathering the survivors of the attack and escorting them out onto the front lawn. It took them no time at all. Longtail went directly to his office and manage to roust him from whatever secure location he and his men had barricaded themselves into.

Von Haber’s relief and gratitude at my return warmed my heart. He briefly, and surprisingly candidly explained the recent political situation which had led to the attack. The day after the mob attacks on High Towne, Festival Moons 32nd, during the Prelacy’s attempts to disrupt Echer’Naught’s supply lines, Lord Harken, the Duchess’ brother, had arrived with an entourage and orders to usurp authority and institute martial law.

After my Rangers managed to intercept the last Prelacy agent within Echer’Naught and force from him a list of names known to associate with Red Store, Lord Harken had demanded that they turn over any and all information regarding Red Store operations within the town, but they also ordered all Ranger operations in regards to Red Store and the Flame Archer were suspended.

This information, which was delivered to Lord Harken on the 1st of Dancing Clouds was not acted upon until the 9th, eight days later. Within that time, the Lord Harken departed for home leaving his 15 year old nephew in charge of operations in Echernaught. They boy, eventually, sent men to take the Red Store operatives, but by the time the Harken men arrived, one of the four was missing.

On the 9th, three men, a customs agent, an import-export individual and a rat-catcher were loaded into a prison wagon and paraded down main-street. At Center Pointe, the convoy was ambushed, the three men were executed in the box, cut down by arrows from the Flame Archer. Both the Royal Sherriff Halten and Sergeant Hawkslcaw arrived on seen moments after the attack, but they were ordered to stand down and return to their normal duties.

Worse, on the same day that Lord Harken arrived, Festival Moons 32nd, an assassin attacked Sergeant Hawksclaw in the streets just outside the outpost. Though Hawksclaw survived the attack due in large part to the Druids of the Sacred Grove, the simple fact that the attack had occurred was disheartening.
Worse, at almost the same moment in Low Town, Longtail learned from her contacts, presumably Fateweaver, that a hit had been placed on the heads of the main Rangers, most specifically Eris Moonsilver, though all my Rangers were in danger.

From the 9th of Dancing Clouds until the 15th of Raining Leaves when I returned, my Rangers closed ranks and went about the duty of healing, repair and regrouping. Throughout the end of Dancing Clouds and through the entire month of Forest Dance, the Rangers completed clearing the old outpost of debris and restarting the renovation project, established their new HQ in my manor house, and re-established themselves as a force for good in the community, by standing watches, dealing with local crime and participating in the town’s efforts to rebuild.

Sergeant Hawkslcaw in particular worked hard to bolster the ranks of the Town Watch through a recruitment drive which brought the beleaguered force up to half strength for less than 20%. He had also led a force in an attempt to protect the southern road project, but was ambushed by Trogladesh raiders and managed to survive at the loss of seven men. Having faced these fiends myself, I understood all-to-well the danger he faced.

My other Rangers worked on their own project, Corporal Longtail has nearly completed the Wolfhaven Home for Lost Children, a necessary addition to the town. Our newest recruit, Evoran, has worked tirelessly with Olgor to re-establish the library lost during the attack on the outpost. Rildrirr, after his lengthy absence from duty, returned and managed to enhance his already impressive sword.

By the 15th of Raining Leaves, my men were finally beginning to settle into a routine when the Flame Ranger attacked, only occasionally encountering assassin’s attempting to cash in the prices on their heads. We even added a new Ranger, the newly minted Paladin of Light Sir Michael Lugard to the roster.

I admit, it was a lot to take in and my conversation with the Lord Mayor lasted the better part of an hour even as around us my Rangers continued to rescue survivors from the manor. I did note a large force of plainly dressed figures hanging around the house, but soon learned that these were “concerned citizens” brought in the help by Longtail’s…associate, Streetrunner.

Once my debrief was completed, the Lord Mayor and his security detail left the manor house and joined the injured Harken boy at the Chapel of Light which was quickly becoming a fortified camp. In fear and desperation, the new Lord Harken called every soldiers and guard to his defense fearing the Flame Archer would attack. In doing so, he removed protection from the Lord Mayor’s staff and from the prisoner being held in the basement, the Flame Archer’s true target.

It was a long night, but by three I the morning, my Rangers and I were sitting around my dinner table getting a late supper or early breakfast. Our roster now includes:

Ranger Personnel
Colonel Sir Alexander Wolfhaven-Regional Commander
Lieutenant Olgor Griznak-Bursar/Administrator
Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer-Quartermaster/Master-at-Arms
Sergeant Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw-Operations commander
Corporal Aradove Longtail-Operations XP/Intelligence
Ranger First Class Rildrirr
Ranger Evoran Que’kasaars
Ranger Alfred Ranger
Ranger Eris Moonsilver
Ranger Sir Michael Lugard
Ranger Trainee Malcolm-Messenger
Ranger Trainee Sarah

Ranger Allied Personnel
Sergeant Luc Gendarre
Gendarre’s four troops

We got as much rest as we could, most just sleeping where they sat at the table. It was not until dawn the following morning (16th of Raining Leaves) that Longtail realized that Sarah had not arrived for work. Despite everything, the bombings, the crazed mobs, even assassins, the young Olaran girl had never missed a day of work. And no one had seen her since the 15th.

Longtail and Hawkslcaw tore out before I could even give them permission. These weeks of independent operation have somewhat diluted our military bearing. Though, given the current scenario and our lack of sleep I forgave them for the breach.

It was only later that I learned the truth, because when I arrived on the scene in low town all I found was my corporal bleeding out from a knife wound to the heart, her paramour Streetrunner lying beside her in the street, aged years, with Hawkclaw and Evoran standing over the bodies and Rildrirr turning away the curious. Amidst it all, Sarah, alive and well, sobbed over Longtail.

Hawsclaw had just ordered Evoran and Rildrirr to escort Sarah to the Red Lamp, while he and I secured Longtail and Streetrunner at the new HQ.

Once back, and Hawksclaw assured us that her wounds were not fatal, we finally learned the truth about the incident. Previously, when Longtail had managed to capture and interrogate the Prelacy agent just after the bombings, and around the time Hawksclaw as nearly assassinated, Longtail had encountered a foreign assassin who she and Streetrunner had bested.

It would appear that he then used Sarah as a bargaining chip to force Longtail to take her own life. I cannot begin to express my admiration and awe in my subordinate that she would willingly take her own life to save an innocent. Though she is often seen as the most illicit among our company, I am beginning to understand that, in truth, she is the most virtuous and most dedicated to our cause. She has won Stormahammer’s respect at any rate.

Knowing assassins would be after my team in our weakened state, I ordered Eris to recall Evoran, but leave Sarah with the Madame where I knew she would be safe. For the next week, I kept my Longtail and Street runner under guard while they recuperated.

Leaving Hawksclaw in charge of the investigation with orders to find the assassin’s at any cost, I took Rildrirr and Gendarre and his men with me to secure the road project south of Echer’Naught. Reports of attacks and requests for aid had piled up in my absence and I had faith that Hawksclaw was more than capable of dealing with the issues at home.

Rildrirr easily tracked a large company of Trogladesh and we managed to clear out three camps before they faded away. I have no doubt they will return, but we are about a month from completion. If we can keep the build site secure for that length of time, the project will be completed and we can construct a waystation at the halfway point where I will station troops and riders.

We returned to Echer’Naught about a week later. On the 22nd of Raining Leaves, Hawksclaw finally managed an audience with Fateweaver who promised aid in our fight against the assassins. Interestingly, there were no new attacks by Prelacy, Red Store, Assassin’s or Builders during this time.

On that same day, Evoran visited the sacred grove to thank the Druidess Treesinger for her aid in healing Hawksclaw, twice, but also to request her aid in unlocking the secrets locked in the mind of the Red Store agent that the Flame Archer failed to kill twice. As he was still in a deep comma, but alive, it would take magical healing to bring him back from the edge.

She agreed, and offered the sacred grove as a site for the ritual. She also listed a number of individuals that she felt should attend the event including Celebor, Hawksclaw, Evoran, Eris if possible, Vallandrian and Rildrirr. She listed other components and individuals. Also, she set the hour at the 13th as it would be the height of power.

And with her promise of aid, she also issued a warning. Many strange and terrible things have happened in the past year, the Tempest, Crimson Crusade, the rise of the Builders and the strange, alien threats entering the realm of Shaintar from Ascended know where. Many of these events had focused on or around Echer’Naught. Correspondingly, new people displayed surprising magical abilities who, up until recently presented as entirely mundane. Loci and lines of power appeared with more frequency and regularity than ever before.
Magic was on the rise, but in the words of Treesinger, “the veil was weakening.”

She also had one more bit of news, Nell, the Storm Druid, was alive and seeking asylum within the sacred grove. Healing. Nell would return when she was ready.

I tasked Evoran with creating a map of magical events in Echer’Naught going back before the Tempest in an attempt to track the magical events and attempt to discern a pattern. If anyone could achieve this task Olgor and Evoran could do so.

To Rildrirr I gave the task of protecting the work project and dispatched Gendarre and his men to assist him in the task.

For Hawksclaw, his only task was to hunt down the assassin’s and end the threat. I know that Longtail would be better at the investigation given her underworld contacts, but, and I am surprised to say this, but her loyalty and protective instincts are too great a liability. I do not wish to have her put in another situation where she must choose between her own life and one of our own. Not at present.

Olgor, Stormhammer and I then sat down to the task of making some sense of our current situation and putting to order the chaos that had become our home. There was much to do and winter was on the horizon.
On the 25th, Sarah returned, much changed. She requested permission to speak with Longtail in private. I was not in the room, but a short time later, Longtail entered and requested authorization to induct Sarah into the Ranger Corps. I immediately and wholeheartedly agreed. Olgor drew up the papers and it was made official, though with little fanfare. Sarah seemed to want it that way.

That night, Streetrunner came to ask my permission for three days of vacation. He assured me that she would be well protected from assassins or Prelacy. I do not feel he would have taken no for an answer, but I would not have said no. They all needed healing and Longtail more than most.

I know very little of such things, but I trust my subordinates. In the time of my absence, Streetrunner and Longtail had grown close, very much so. Close enough that she seemed to have forsaken her other conquests.
With a glad heart, I have my wholehearted consent. They departed together on the 26th and did not return until the 29th. Though I am aware, through intelligence reports where they went, I will not include that information here or in other missives. Some things are personal and have no bearing on Ranger duty. Whatever small measure of happiness my Rangers can find in this life, I will lay down mine to secure it.

From the 29th to the last day of the month, the 33rd of Raining Leaves, a team of Rangers slowly arrived. Mostly Gobinesh. They gathered at the outpost before embarking on a mission to Rool in the Northern Gather. Their mission was to escort Sergeant Major Okur (Ogre), the son of the Mak Tokash and a Ranger in the hopes that Okur might soon negotiate a formal treat between the Rangers and his father’s gather. With him went a Ranger guard detail:
Trokash (Orc Shaman)
Ash (Eldakar mage)
Thraxx (Orc warrior)
Dane Landen (human paladin)
Kiska (orc, druid)
Chuck (Brinchie scout)
Grimjack (Orc warrior)
L’Merr (Brinchie warrior)

On the 33rd, I welcomed the team into my home and issued a briefing provided by Sergeant Major Stormahmmer. The trip would take approximately 25 days and they would depart on the 1st of Harvest Moons. Stormhammer issued a few of them White Silver tipped arrows. For the rest, I ensured that they had sufficient supplies to last the month, mounts and full stocks of bolts and arrows.

While in my fair town, Trokash spent time speaking with Stormhammer, Ash, a former companion, spent time in the Autumn Spring, Dane Landen, an old friend, spent his evening in meditation at the Chapel of Light, Kiska, Grimjack and Thraxx headed to Ivan Sokolav’s Drunken Mastery School for training and I think L’Merr, another good friend, joined them. Chuck, well, I never really know where he is. It was good to see my old comrades again.

I saw them off on the 1st, and personally escorted them out of the town. I trust that they will reach their destination safely and hope that Ash, Landen, Chuck and L’Merr will return soon. I have need of their services.
From then to now, I have spent reading reports, sending missives and trying to piece my command together. Hawksclaw was forced to use the Ranger payroll to buy information in order to stop the Prelacy, a move I wholeheartedly support. I assured him that I would make up the difference from my personal wealth.
As I sit here on the 4th of Harvest Moons, looking back over the actions and choices of my team I am filled with a sense of almost overwhelming pride. I trained these men and women and they have far exceeded my expectations. I was concerned, so many months ago, when I received orders to abandon my command and make for Camp Wolfhaven.

I had faith in my men, in Hawksclaw’s leadership and Longtail’s ability to gather intel, but command is difficult in ways few realize until they achieve it. Most any soldier learns to face death, but it is far more difficult to make decisions which may kill those you have come to respect and love.

After I left the Hammerfell Riders, I resigned myself that I would never again grow so attached to a group of people that losing them would tear our my soul.

But here I am, beaming over my Rangers like a proud father. Raging at those who would dare harm them. And praying that I can convey in some way my admiration, respect and affection for their tireless service. I owe them all debt of gratitude that I cannot express. I only hope they will come to understand the depth of my feelings.

It is late now, and the candles burn down. I know that just outside assassin’s with poison tipped blades lurk in the shadows, agents of every enemy on earth stalk the streets plotting out demise, forces beyond our comprehension bring enormous magical energies to bear focused on nothing but our destruction…even our allies doubt us.

But we have each other. And that is enough.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Field Report: Church of Light, 3
Tracking Darkness (King Con 2014)

Dancing Clouds 30th, 3123 Under the Light

Holy Father,

It appears that my instincts have been correct. Though, that is of little consolation. From the reports I had been hearing Gathers have been vanishing now for months, though up until recently, the losses were due to attacks by the Trogladesh. Now it appears something far worse threatens the land.

Von Dietrich and I narrowly escaped our encounter in the Wildland Gather, but we learned something vital, and disturbing. Something appears to be corrupting the Goblinesh en-mass as it were. Though, we found nothing but soot and emptiness. That night, however, we were set upon by a horde of Trogladesh.
First, it was the assassin’s knives of the Troglodytes. They came from the shadows, invisible and silent as death. Were it not for Archanon’s grace, I would nere have sensed their presence. After the Troglodytes came the Hobgoblins and Trolls.

Von Dietrich showed admirable aplomb, facing the beasts without fear. When they attacked, Von Dietrich engaged three of the Hobgoblins alone, a spinning blur of steel and death. I summoned Archnon’s power and called down a wall to hold the Troll at bay while we dispatched the lesser corrupted and summoned an Angel of Light to stand beside us.

My obstruction lasted just long enough, but the Troll was more formidable that I realized. In heartbeats, the beast slammed into us, sweeping with his massive axe. My Angel was spirited home and Von Dietrich was slapped through a wall into a burning hut. A trick he had learned to eliminate shadows for the Troglodytes to hide.

Facing the Troll alone, I ducked his swing and dived through the open door of the burning hut. Von Dietrich was badly injured. Through prayer his wounds were healed, but we still had a Troll to deal with outside. With the grace of Archanon coursing through him, Von Dietrich surged to his feet, scooped up his weapons and hurled himself out through the door.

From within, I heard a roar and exited just as Von Dietrich was slashing the Trolls leg, black blood coursing over him. With a roar, the beast died and fell nearly crushing us. And then, it was over as if it had never happened. What became of the rest of the Troglodesh we know not. They faded as quietly as they had arrived.
We tended out wounds and patrolled the Gather with no sign of our foes, yet only my horse survived. We found what was left of Von Dietrich’s horse at the out reaches of the Gather. In the morning, we gathered our supplies and checked the bodies of the fallen. As I examined on of the Hobgoblins who had attacked us, I discovered a horrifying fact…

I had known him, before.

He was a friend and a Defender of the Gather. He would never willingly surrender to Darkness. A sense of dread fell over me as I pulled a bone necklace his mate had given him years before. We beheaded the corpses and set fire to the rest of the Gather, leaving the dead to the pyre.

With that grisly task completed, we gathered was supplies remained to us and rode out on my horse.
From there, we continued to travel north and west across the wilderness in the general direction of Echer’Naught. From leaving Kytrhos, throughout stay in the Gather and up to the point of reaching the Thorpe of dale was a trip of approximately 3 weeks. It was on the 19th of Dancing Clouds when we arrived in Dale.
After our encounter with the Master Vampire on the 4th, I had sent Fekla with the surviving Goblinesh to act as guardian, but to also be a deterrent to any aggression from the local humans against the Shattered Gather or against the Gather against the Thorpe of Dale.

We arrived in the morning, just before mid-day and I was fortunate to find Fekla still in the community. She seemed troubled, but sometimes with Ogres it is hard to tell, but more important to leave well enough alone. After a brief explanation, she agreed to join my team. I left her with Von Dietrich and headed to find local Rangers to join us.

At a small, family run inn I found two Rangers, a Dregordian Adept, Slissrak R’Sserllic, and an Alakar Ranger, A lauren Darkbane. Both agreed to join the mission. I sent them to the local alehouse to meet up with Fekla and Von Dietrich. Meanwhile I met up with the woman who ran the establishment to request that she send messages via post. I also met with some of the Goblinesh and gained intelligence on recent missing Gathers. After that, I spoke with the leader of the community and thanked him for his kindness in taking in so many that were so different.

Though he seemed ill pleased, he agreed to continue the thorp’s hospitality for a time longer. With that, I returned to my Rangers and bade them spend two hours gathering what supplies they would require for at least two weeks in the wilds before returning to the alehouse. With a nod, they dispersed and I located the local shrine to Archanon.

Two hours later, I returned to find my team waiting with packs filled, weapons ready and mounted on horses or by foot as their need. Impressed, we rode west out of Vale when a figure galloped up to us. He was an Alakar ranger of some experienced. He announced himself and demanded entry to our company. I agreed, despite his sudden arrival, I sensed no duplicity and so allowed him to join our team.

We road west and camped a few hours later. There I finally revealed the details of our mission. Gathers had been vanishing, yes, but more and more there seemed to be no evidence of a struggle or a fight. Rather, it seemed almost as if the Goblinesh simply up and vanished. And yet, I knew that my friend had been forcibly corrupted. Putting two and two together painted a terrible picture.

From my friends at Vale I had learned of another small gather just a few days west of Vale that had recently gone dark. I believed then that our best chance was to find the most recent mass disappearance.
We made good time despite the chill and damp of the growing cold. Unlike the previous gather which was on flat, fertile grassland surrounded by a log palisade, this gather was set among the boulders scattered around an east-west running ridge. It was large, maybe size enough to house two to three hundred, had it been occupied.

When we arrived on the 23rd, I dispatched my Alakar rangers to scout ahead, flanking to the sides while Fekla covered our advance through the main gate. Our approach was cautious, but ultimately unnecessary. Once our forward scouts gave the all clear, Fekla entered the Gather and roared to shake the very stones. But there was no response.

We systematically searched the gather but again, found no sign of life. All we discovered was black soot near the well and the main huts. I consulted with my Rangers and they concurred to remain thin the protective walls of the gather, though I cautioned Fekla to touch nothing. We still were unsure of how the Golinesh were being turned, though we suspected the “soot” had something to do with the transformation.
With night came the enemy.

Darkbane and R’Sserlic were on watch when they struck. Troglodytes.

Our first warning was Darkbane’s scream as one of the nasty creatures raked a poisoned knife across his throat. That her survive is a miracle. Moments later, R’Sserlic roared. I surged to my feet along with the senior Alakar and Von Dietrich. The Slayer shouted for everyone to close on the fire, but Fekla ignored the command and started pounding in the direction of the Dregordian. I summoned an Angel and sent it after Darkbane.
The fight was brutal and swift. My Angel took the life of one of the beasts, but the other managed to escape in the confusion. The Alakar Ranger managed to light some of the buildings, keeping the creatures at bay, but in the end, we wound up tired, injured but otherwise unsuccessful.

Darkbane returned quickly, and well he did for the poison on the blade had entered his bloodstream. A few more minutes and his heart would have seized. The other injuries were relatively minor, more a blow to pride than life or limb.

No one slept the rest of that night.

In the morning on the 24th, we found only one corpse. Von Dietrich dealt with the remains while the Alakar took samples of the poison. From there, I sent my scouts to search for tracks. They reported back what seemed to be a mass migration of Goblinesh or, more likely, Troglodesh.

Gathering our things, we rode out in pursuit. The first leg of our journey was over surprisingly quickly as we found a camp along the ridge just an hour away. There we discovered that Shaya’Nor forces had established a semi-permanent encampment near the Gather. We surmised that they sent their Troglodytes into the gather under cover of night to poison them with this Black Dust.

From the camp, my scouts read the signs and informed me that the newly turned Trogladesh and their Shaya’Nor masters had headed east along the ridgeline. We were about to pursue when the sharp eyes of Darkbane noted a smaller, less obvious set of tracks heading in nearly the opposite direction.

It appeared as if a group of elite troops had separated from the main force and was headed on some mission of ill. I left the choice up to the men. Did we follow the main body, or hunt down their elite strike team. Unanimously it was decided to stop the elite troops.

And so, we rode.

For three days, we tracked them by day, as they moved by night. Each time we discovered their camp we were a bit closer behind. On the third evening, we found their camp high in some rocks overlooking another low-lying range of foothills.

From the signs, my scouts confirmed that the Shaya’Nor had prepared for battle as their camp showed preparations. The senior Alakar also noted a small pile of Black Dust that appeared to have spilled from a pouch or sack.

The tracks leading from the camp were clear even to my eyes. They headed straight down the rocks, across a small valley to a cut or pass through the foothills to the north. Hobbling out mounts nearby and shucking anything that would slow our pace, we crept down the hill after the servants of Vainar.

It was 27th of Dancing Clouds and two moons hung in the hazy sky. We made good time across the valley under the cover of clouds, but just as we were about to enter the cut, my leftmost scout signaled a halt. He had found something near the rock wall.

I and the other went to investigate only to discover an ancient, weathered and vine covered obelisk that stood no more than six or seven feet tall. It seemed out of place among the rocks, but even so, I am amazing that he spotted it even with his sharp eyes.

Fekla was just considering hurling a rock when were heard three loud thumps from across the mouth of the ravine, then a scream and Darkbane’s body hurling through the air alight with orange fire. We spun, weapons at the ready as he hit the ground and rolled to a stop.

Miraculously, the elf lived, but he was badly burned. By what, we knew not.

I sprinted toward the source of the orange fire along with a few of the other rangers only to find a second obelisk. Yet this one was not covered in vines and moss, but was alight with orange-fire, arcfire, runes and crackling energies.

Back at the first obelisk, Fekla ripped a huge chunk of rock from the ground and hurled it at the obelisk. Predictably, the stone, statuary immediately erupted in orange fire, spidery runes traces in arcfire seared its surface. No sooner had the stone shot from her massive paw then a trio of arcfire bolts blasted from the obelisk, shattering the rock in mid-flight.

Darkbane was safley pulled back from the ranged of the obelisks, but we were left with a serious conundrum. How to pass the defenses? Clearly the tracks of our prey had split the difference and cut a path right between the two stones.

Hoping for a safe path, Fekla again ripped a chunk out of the ground and hurled it right down the middle. Unfortunately, the rock hurtled through only so far before being intercepted and destroyed by incoming fire from a third obelisk set between and back from the other two. A killing triangle. The perfect death trap.
Worse, in the flashes of orange light, Von Dietrich spotted still smoldering lumps on the ground within the triangle. It seemed that the agents of Darkness had also fell victim to the Builder cunning, small consolation that was.

R’Sserllic marshalled the power of his mind and snatched the nearest of the corpses to us. With only a momentary glance, Von Dietrich confirmed that it has been a Hobgoblin, though it was little more than a gooey mess.

A severe discussion erupted as to how to pass the defenses, or whether too much time would be lost by simple scaling the nearby ridgeline and bypassing the entrance altogether. As we whispered in hushed tones a new sound intruded upon the night air.

It started as a distant hum, distinct, with a lower pitch than the high whine of the obelisks. The growl grew into a dull, repetitive throb as a glowing object approached from high in the sky. As we looked up in trepidation, what appeared at first as a slow falling star grew from a pinprick of light to a small glowing object just within bowshot above out heads.

Unsure whether this new intruder was friend or foe, we held our ground, weapons at the ready and waited. We had not long to wait. Suddenly, without warning, a painfully bright light exploded into life, pinning Fekla in a beam of orange-white illumination.

My eyes screamed in pain, blinding by the glare. Around me, my rangers desperately shielding their own eyes, trying to see what we faced. It was apparent all too soon. With a now familiar thump, three arcfire bolts slammed into Fekla forcing her back a step.

Instantly our archers opened fire but to no avail. The construct appeared to have some kind of protective shielding. Fekla hurled rocks, no dice. The builder sentry continued to rain murderous fire on my team. And, with the killing field between us and our destination, I make a choice.

Summoning the power of Archanon, I called down Celestial allies to shield my men from the sentry pylons. With that, I ordered my rangers to rush the field in hopes of losing the flying sentry in the rock formations ahead.

Not particularly enthused about the idea, but obedient none-the-less, my rangers sprinted into the kill box with the drone hot on our heels.

The night was shattered by orange flashes, thunderous booms and earth shattering explosions. We dodged and wove through the bombardment, trusting in Archanon to protect us.

Though it seemed like hours, we finally managed to clear the defensive stones and staggered headlong into a small, boxed valley filled with felled trees and enormous boulders. Across the open ground, to the left, we spied a cave entrance fairly well hidden from the air…and a pair of enormous black armor clad trolls standing guard.

From behind, the Builder drone fired.

We were trapped.

The archers skidded to a stop, spun and unleashed a volley of fire at the drone. At the same instant, Fekla roared in challenge and rushed headlong into the onrushing trolls with Von Dietrich and R’Sserllic hot on her heals. Whether by skill or luck, the lead Alakar managed a lucky shot that penetrated the drone’s shields. The construct burst into orange fire in a cataclysm that, for a moment, lit the valley like a sunrise. Heat, smoke and shrapnel washed over the scene of battle.

At nearly the same instant, Fekla slammed into the pair of trolls, her massive Ironwood/White Silver club swinging in wild, brutal arcs. Around their feet Von Dietrich and R’Sserllic darted and dashed, hacking and slashing.

In moments, one of the trolls had fallen, but the second leaned in and whirled his corrupted ogre ax about his head and brought it across Fekla, Von Dietrich and R’Sserllic. And, in that instant, the tide of battle turned as they were hurled back, savaged by the troll’s blow. Only Fekla stood resolute. Were it not for her courage and stubborn resolve, I fear the battle would, at that moment have been lost.

I summoned the power of Archanon, channeling it through my companions, healing their wounds and easing their pain. Rejuvenated, my allies leaped to the fight. It was a close fought thing, but in the end, the troll could simply not stand against our combined might and with a last bellow, it too fell crashing to the ground.

And then, silence fell over the scene. I sagged, my strength nearly spent. My companions gasped, showing all the signs of our running battle, but our task was not done. With his sharp ears, Von Dietrich heard explosions echoing from the cave entrance.

Though my companions desired to stay and completely destroy the troll corpses, I knew that we would be hard pressed to catch or stop the Shaya’Nor elites if we did not press on. My hope was that we would be able to return to the scene before the beasts regenerated. As it happened, I was wrong on the score, but at the time I felt pushing forward was most important.

On my orders, we pushed on, leaving the battlefield behind and descending into yet another dark tunnel. Here, Fekla led again, her bulk all but filling the passageway.

We had descended only a few hundred yards when Fekla recoiled as if she had struck solid stone. She had only time to make a confused “urk?” sound when the passageway beyond her burst into orange light. My heart sank.

Traced in orange fire, a builder “golem” construct blocked our path. Without warning or hesitation it raised a massive arm and plunged a drill into Fekla breastplate and began to burrow its way through her broad chest. In pain and rage, Fekla bellowed again, raising her axe to slash at the thing, but the confines were too close. She could not find leverage.

As for the rest of the party, we were trapped behind her, unable to get a clean shot. That is until the Alakar ranger loosed a shot at a nearby wall. It ricocheted off the stone wall of the tunnel and slammed into the golem’s neck. It staggered back, sparks erupting from the wound and from a missing arm. Clearly, the Shayakar had already engaged this brute and seriously damaged the golem.

Renewed, Fekla brought her axe down again and this time buried the head up to the thing’s waist. That was when we all heard, and felt in our chest, the quickly rising throb. We had not time to turn, barely enough to scream when the world went orange-white. In a massive, cataclysmic explosion, the golem detonated nearly killing Fekla and very nearly wiping out my team.

If that were insufficient, the resulting cave in nearly buried us all alive. As the ceiling began to collapse behind us, we ran headlong down the path heedless of enemies or traps in our path. Fortunately, our enemies had already cleared the way.

With one final leap, we dove out of the tunnel just as it collapsed behind us in a cloud of dust, stone and debris. Lying their coughing, we counted our limbs to make sure nothing had been lost in the chaos. So obscured was the cavern we had stumbled upon and so focused were we on our own lives that only Darkbane spotted our quarry as it slipped our grasp.

From his description, a team of Trogladesh stood in a group, arms filled with all manner of brass wire, cogs, tubes and other “builder” tech as if they has just scooped up everything in the room. Before them stood a squat, red skinned dwarf with no hair. He was almost entirely encased in brass arcfire armor. From the description, I assume that he was a builder, though he was not leaving voluntarily. In fact, two Shayakar Nightguard had their blades crossed at this throat.

Worst of all, the leader of this nightmare force was a human man, eyes burning with flame, clad in what I assume was Bloodsteel, cloaked in a coat of flayed human skin and wielding a smoldering bastard sword…
Clearly, he was not a servant of Darkness, though he most certainly commanded this abduction. With a mocking salute to us, he and his monsters stepped into shadows and vanished.

I, of course, saw none of this, but I trust the eyes of my scout. Why a Flame commander would be leading Shayakar Nightguard and Trogladesh is beyond my comprehension, but it bodes ill for all.

With our retreat closed off and the cavern empty, we spent another few days making our way out of the cave system to the surface. By the time we reached the light on the 30th, any evidence of our battle was long since gone. We recovered our mounts and then, as usual, each Ranger departed to attend his or her own affairs. Fekla and Von Dietrich joined me.

Perhaps it is time I finally returned Echer’Naught?

Obediently yours,

A. Alystar

View
Slayer Report Three
Vanishing Gathers

On the road, westward:
Day 1
I have let my journal lapse for two days, now. I need to focus.
I received my assignment, which was to proceed westward. The objective is to follow up on reports of a number of strange occurrences, and conduct a reconnaissance of the aria.
It seems that a small village, a weeks ride from here, has been found deserted. Also, those near to that location have reported hearing strange howls coming from that direction. I wonder. Are the people simply frightened? Or is there something more sinister at work, in the region?
In any event, I was assigned to the task, as it seems to fall under my purview. Also, I was told to pick a small team to make the journey with.
Naturally, I asked Sis. Her skill with spear and bow are nearly unrivaled by any of our trainee companions. Also, I should admit that I appreciate her company. We, then, selected three others. Two of the best bowmen, and the other a swordsman.
Privately, I will admit that I am unconcerned with remembering their names. If this is, truly, the work of Darkness, they may not return. We shall see.
M. VonD.

On the road, Day 4

I need to practice my riding. My legs are exceedingly fatigued. We have made good progress. For three days, we have ridden and walked, stopping only to eat and sleep. I am having a difficult time adjusting to this, northern, climate. It seems to get a bit cooler every day. Now, it looks as if it might rain. We should only be a few more days ride.
M. VonD.

On the road, Day 6

Weather bad. Storms have made the roads turn to muck. Riding cross country, now. Colder weather, still. Haven’t seen anyone for a day or better. My comrades, except for Sis, seem ill at ease. We are getting close to the village.
M. VonD.

Taking shelter, night 8

My candle is burnt to a nub. We have taken shelter in what is left of an old chapel. The storm rages. Cold wind howls through the ancient stones, and it is dark. We herd howling earlier, and we came across this place. The old cemetery has been desecrated. It does not bode well. Let us hope that these ruins of Light still have some protection to offer, for our tiny congregation…
M. VonD.

PS: morning of the 9th day,

Now the darkness reveals itself. After I’d finished writing, I’d tried to rest. Just after the 13th hour, we were alerted by the scraping of stones. We stood to, and formed a line facing front. In the lightning, a form took shape in the archway. A wolf. Not a larger beast, but corrupted, all the same. Then there were more. They waited patently, and I was astounded as to why. Astounded, until the wall behind us began to crack apart. From behind, no less than five ancient skeletons began to reach out for us. Their teeth clacked together in a perpetual, and sinister grin. I drew my club, and ordered the others to grab anything that they could use as a bludgeoning device. It was then that the battle was truly joined. Wolves, the bones of long dead Church folk, and we, in the middle. We fought them, as best we could. Ten to five, we made a good accounting of ourselves. We all suffered at their teeth and rusted blades. Two of the others were badly hurt, but we began to turn the tide.
Then, we herd a crash from outside.
As Sis dispatched the last of the wolves, the right hand wall of the chapel seemed to explode. A fair sized hole gave way in a terrific shower of stone and binding as a lone figure was hurled through. The man shaped lump on the floor gave an exasperated sigh of pain as he lifted himself. I could barely make him out in the darkness. He had slightly Elven features, and was dressed in tattered vestments of the Church of Light. Also, he wore what was left of a Ranger’s cloak.
He looked up, saw us, and was puzzled. We all were. We went toward him, but he waved us behind him as he pointed toward the wall. I looked in time to see a massive Troll step into the former sanctuary. I grew concerned.
What happened next, happened very quickly. The Troll smiled down at us, and hefted it’s massive axe. The stranger gritted his teeth, gripped his weapons, and in an explosion of movement lept towards the thing. I ordered the others back, and shouted at Sis to shoot the thing, but it was upon us. The axe nearly cleaved us all in twain. Had we been a hares breath slower, we would’ve been bisected, indeed. Still, we pressed the attack.
The Ranger, and myself launched ourselves at the thing, in the same instant as Sis loosed her arrows. The lightning lit the sky, the thunder pealed, the beast roared, and we screamed our charge. We struck nearly in unison. I high, and he low, as the arrows sizzled in the median.
Then, as soon as it had begun, the fight was over. The Troll lay prostrate, and I sank to one knee. We bled, and gasped for breath. The heat of combat began to wear off, and I began to chill.
I looked back at Sis, then up to the Ranger. “Thank you”, I said. He looked around, and extended a hand. “I am glad that I dropped in”, he said, wincing against the rain.
“My name is Athrait.
Athrait Allistar.”

M. VonD.

View
Campaign Report 26 (Hawksclaw)
Assassin's Price

Official report of Sgt. R. Hawksclaw
Rangers of Eschernaught
33rd of Festival Moons

Well, what a great deal I have to tell. There, as of yet, have been no more bombings, nor assassinations.
Not to say that there hasn’t been an attempt. But, thankfully, none have been successful. We are still
sifting through the ashes of the outpost, and the general cleanup will continue for quite some time. Also,
matters have become more complicated.

The day after the lab explosion was spent diving into the wreckage and trying to piece together the events
of the past few days. We believe that the threat of more bombings has abated, for now, at least. My
rangers, however, are still under threat. On yesterday’s morn, I spoke with Aradove. She informed me
that she had a potential lead, but that she would go alone. I acquiesced, only ordering her to use caution
and to contact me via Ella if she ran afoul of trouble. Later, this would come into play. I, then, tasked the
rest of the Rangers to begin moving anything salvageable to the Col’s mansion in High Town. Everin and
I were to walk together so that I could begin to point out some key places in town. We were about to
depart when a messenger arrived and requested my presence at the Mayor’s home. This is when the new
trouble started.

As we walked, and talked I was suddenly attacked. I never saw the assailant, as the crowds were thronged
about us on the main street. The first indication I had was a burning pain in my side. It stung like fire and
I knew it, instantly, to be poison. Everin looked on helplessly, and I knew that I was in trouble.
“Treesinger”, I said weakly. He looked confused, and I pointed towards The Sacred Grove. “There…
Take me there”, I wheezed.

With great effort, we made our way into The Grove and I could feel my strength failing. I knew that we
needed to find her soon. “Eris…” I thought. “I am here”, She said. “Warn the others. We may all be in
danger” I warned, to which her reply was “I will”. She sounded unsurprised, but I did not wait for a reply.
Presently, we found the Eldekar. She, also, seemed unsurprised. Bemused, even. In any event, and as she
always has, she aided me. It took some time, but she was able to cleanse the poison from my body.
Shortly, thereafter, we cautiously journeyed on to High Town.

I learned, upon our arrival, that Longtail had spoken with Fateweaver. “We are all in danger”, she
began… I couldn’t help but to laugh. “So I’ve noticed”, I replied as I indicated my bloody shirt. At that, a
wave of anger passed over her face. “I’ve received information that I must act on now.” I started, but she
continued, “I need to go, now. But I must go alone.” I did not like the sound of this, but I indicated for her
to continue. “I have one chance, and if I succeed we stand to gain a great deal. I will not be in
communication for some time.” She waited, and it was obvious to me that she would not be denied.
“Fine”, I said. “But, if you run into trouble call to Eris. We will be waiting.” She nodded. “Also, please be
careful. I can’t do this alone.” I said, in way of closing. She nodded, and was gone.

I looked to the others. “Defend this house, and watch after Eris. Make no mistake, there is a price on all of
our heads.” They nodded, and with that I took my leave to make my audience at the Mayoral Mansion.
The gathering that I found there frightened me nearly as much as The Mad Bomber, himself.
When I arrived, I saw a multitude of horses, grooms, banners, and knightly guards surrounding the
manse. The most prominent banner, however, was that of none other than the Lady Harken. To say the
least, I was concerned.

After a brief wait, I was ushered into the main hall where a host of nobles and officials were engaged in a
heated conversation. At the head of the table stood a man of imposing cut. I knew that if he was not the
Duke, himself, he was at least there on the authority of the Duchess. He had absolute command, and was
running the proceedings with an iron fist. As he finished what he had been previously saying, the man
turned and addressed me directly. “So you are the Ranger Sargent… Hawksclaw.” He nearly spat the
words. “Yes sir…” I began. But as soon as I had, he fired another question, then another, and more
questions still followed. I answered them all to the best of my ability, and made no effort to bend or
conceal any details. Most of what I told him has already been included in previous reports.

He has, obviously, been sent to take on matters directly. His demeanor and the authority that he possesses
demand nothing less than strict obedience. He also ordered that any and all information be sent directly to
his headquarters, which has been established in the Mansion. I am working with Olgor to make a concise
report to be sent to him in the morning. That, along with a new development will be sent very soon.

The “new development” came in the form of Aradove. A few hours ago she returned, and with her the
body of a man, which she identified as the last remaining Prelacy agent in the city. She was wounded, but
not too grievously, so we made her take food and sit. “He was the last,” she said. “Do we know that for
sure?” I asked. “If he hadn’t been, he would have told me,’ she trailed, as she indicated the body.

When I looked at the man, I wasn’t sure what she had inflicted on him. Now that I think about it, I don’t
really care to… In any event, she had a great deal of new intelligence to report. There is, in fact, a bounty
on our heads. We will need to find the individual holding the contract, and soon. Secondly, she learned
that The Ranger, or “The Archer” had not, nor had he ever worked with these men. Thirdly, she obtained
a list of individuals that had been working in collusion with the Prelacy agents. To my shock, I saw that
two of those names were the men that “The Archer” had murdered in the previous days. I could only stare
in wonder. The rest of those on the list, I fear, are in danger…

After that, we were all exhausted. We slept in shifts for a few hours. I had gone to Eris so that I could
speak to her, but I ended up falling asleep in her room. It is now in the wee hours of the morning, and I
am at a loss. I’ve received credible information from an undisclosed source about the individuals on
Aradove’s list. I was approached, while on watch with the Town Guard, and was told that “The Archer”
would strike again. He is out to kill every person named in the list. Not that I don’t believe they deserve to
be punished, but not like this… not murdered.

I do not have the manpower to protect them, so I am going to give the list to the representative of the
Lady Harken. They are said to be criminals, and the charge is treason. That will easily fall under the
purview of the Duchy. Also, It will leave my men free to pursue the one who holds the contract on our
lives…

Respectfully Submitted,

Sgt. R. Hawksclaw

View
Slayer Report Two
Joining the Rangers

Journal of
Mugen VonDiedrich

I do not know what day it is.
My journal, armor, and weapons are my only remaining possessions. The rest were destroyed.
I have just awaken in Kythros. The last thing that I remember was a group of travelers loading me into a wagon. The place in which I had tried to sleep was a ruse. An illusion, placed in my mind by a pair of Shade.
I did not realize that fact until they were upon me. I must admit that my folly was nearly fatal.
The old man and his daughter were, in actuality, creatures of darkness. The one that had taken the form of the girl attacked first. Her grip was icy. I can see, even now, her distorted face. I dispatched her, and upon descending the stairs, was set upon by no less than five undead, and the second Shade. I destroyed him and four undead, but the fifth nearly had me. I suppose the spell broke, for when I came to, I was laying upon a set of ruins. I had sustained a good deal of damage, and I thought all to be lost. I crawled towards the road as I began to loose consciousness. With my last effort, I hailed the band of travelers.
Were it not for my blade and chain, and the kindness of some passers by, I would now be dead. This, Olara, truly is a place of harsh duality.
Now I am here. I am told that it is the main Ranger hospital in Kythros.
M. VonD.

Second day in Kythros,

I am ambulatory now. I was told, by a steward, to seek out the quartermaster’s office. I owe a great debt to the Rangers. They have renewed my strength.
I told the man that I had no coin, and he offered that I might work off my debt. I explained that I am a Slayer of darkness, and that was how I have been trained. He assured me that my skill was in demand, and that I would be of great use. I agreed to the Ranger’s terms. I will see that my debt is paid, and that I do honour to my family name.
M. VonD.

Fifth day in Kythros,

The Ranger training is going well. Sgt. Grey is a skilled warrior. I have learned the basics of shooting a crossbow. A handy skill.
I have seen another slayer being trained, as well. I do not know his name. I have found that every type of race can be found here. I’ve made the acquaintance of a one, “Sis”.
She is an elf, and she possesses great skill with a bow. She also helped me sew the back of my trainee cloak.
M. VonD.

Tenth day in Kythros,

Training still going well. My shooting has improved markedly. Also, we learn the custom and duties of the Rangers. This is, indeed, a worthy organization.
It is odd. From childhood, I have been taught to do battle alone. To stalk the plains of Darkness, a lone bulwark standing against a cunning and deadly foe. To die forgotten, without regret, nor thought of retreat.
Now I train, eat, and sleep with many, who would call themselves my friends. It is easy, in times of plenty, to have such luxuries. I hope, that in times of darkness, these new allies might acquit themselves so gallantly. I believe that they will. I will do as I have always been taught to do, and fight. To rage against that which would infest and consume these lands.
M. VonD.

Second week in Kythros,
Training is nearly complete. Everyone is speaking about what postings they will receive. I only want to go north.
Sis has done very well. She should have her choice of assignments. I am happy for her. I would not mind being posted with her. I was always taught that having close friendships was a liability. It makes one hesitate when action is necessary. But I do not mind, as I enjoy her company.
I will close. I have been summoned to the Sgt’s. quarters. Some duty, perhaps?
M. VonD.

View
Campaign Report 25
Bomber's Lab-Flame Ranger

Report of Sgt. R. Hawksclaw
Rangers of Eschernaught

Evening, 31th of Festival Moons

The immediate threat to the city has, more or less, abated. I believe so, in any case.
Last night, after Grimbor’s last call we all tried to rest. We were woken in the wee hours of the morning by two terrific explosions. I had been in The Sacred Grove, and I rushed towards the outpost. On my way, I encountered several large mobs of citizens. Not knowing their purpose, I steered clear of them. I am glad I did so.
Upon arrival I received a report that high town was under siege by another, very large mob. I sent Aradove directly, to see that Alfred and Eris were alright. Just then a smaller knot of men and women appeared at the end of our street. I was concerned.
I called on Saron to investigate the sounds of fighting coming from the next block. It was Jeandarr’s men. A mob was assailing them, as well. For all this, Longtail was absent, but I knew that she was probably dealing with issues of her own in high town.
Out of the darkness, a messenger, wearing the livery of The Royal Guard approached. The man was bloodied, and this confirmed (at the time) the reports I’d received. He came bearing a small chest, and told me, “The Lord Mayor wishes you the best. He said that you’d know what to do.” With that, the man deposited the box, and staggered away towards High Town. I was greatly puzzled by this, and it caused me to drop my guard. The mob was approaching.
I knelt down and threw open the box. I looked down, and immediately realized what a grievous mistake I’d made.
When I regained consciousness, I was on the roof of the adjacent building. Saron was there looking down at me. By Leandra’s blessing I had survived with only minor injuries. The outpost, however, had not fared so well. The bomb had leveled the entranceway. Everin was doing his best to heal all that he could, and to make matters worse, he was covered in manure! Stormhammer was unhurt fortunately. Just displaced.
I feel so foolish. In my haste, I risked the lives of everyone inside. I do not believe that I am the leader that these men and women need.
When I made it back inside, the mob was bearing down upon us. Jeandarr and his men had made it, and filled the gap left by the bomb.
We gathered the three Arclances in the armory and made our way out of the rear. I dispatched Saron to take Olgor to high town, and report back to us in low town. We would rally there. But then, there was Nell. Her fragile mind had taken all that it could, and she was at the breaking point. There was no stopping her. She unleashed her power and summoned a terrible storm just over the mob. There was nothing we could do, so we ran.
When we arrived in low town, I called for to halt. We regrouped, and noticed that there were no rioters. We came to a small plaza and there we found Fateweaver singing to a huge crowd! He had enthralled them using only his voice. We could see he was tiring.
At that point, I gave the order that I’d prayed never to give. I told Stormhammer to distribute the Arclances to Jeandarr’s two bowmen. They were familiar with the weapons, and I reasoned that they would be safer in their hands.
Just then Aradove seemed to appear out of the shadows. She told us that Fateweaver was moving the crowd to the Red Lamp. We were to act as the rear, and herd any stragglers along.
We did so, and just as Fateweaver’s voice failed, Lillithian came out to take up his song. Relieved, we planned our next action. Aradove set out on her own, and I conferred with Everin. He had deduced, that the mass hysteria was being induced by several casters operating in unison, and that there was a good chance that there was a central caster nearby. I hit upon an idea. “The tower!” I said.
Quietly as we might, we proceeded to High Town. There was fighting everywhere, and it made for an apocalyptic scene. We only ran into trouble scaling the wall, which attracted some unwanted attention. Once inside the walls, we rushed toward the hill. We were nearly there when the gates began to give way to the pressing mass of humanity. We turned to reenforce the garrison, when Saron spotted Longtail gesturing wildly toward the crowd. From my position, I did not see what happened next. All I herd was an explosion from over the wall, and the mob fell quiet. Apparently the caster had been destroyed!
I turned toward the tower, relieved, in time to see the Sheriff’s aide de camp fall forward as an arrow lodged in his neck… “The Ranger!” I shouted.
After that, events happened quickly. Aradove ran, in pursuit of someone, towards low town. I had Saron carry myself in pursuit of Aradove. I told the rest to pursue Saron, and I. And so, off we flew.
When we found her, Aradove was crouched near an abandoned warehouse. “He’s in there.” She trailed.
Beside the door, laid a slain crusader with an arrow in his back. “Let me go.” She said. I hesitated. “Please.” She added. I sighed.
“Be careful. I’ll follow with the others. But, please, use caution.” I said.
With that, she disappeared down the hatch. I took position to cover the entrance.
It was deathly silent. Minutes later I spied Saron, who was carrying Everin, approaching.
Suddenly, from my left, the hatch burst open. I turned and was filled with anger because it was him. The green cloaked ranger. He bounded up, and I raised my bow. He was so fast, but I saw him. He raised his bow and from a dead run, took aim. We locked eyes, and his burned with flame. At that instant, time froze, and we released.
I was flung back with the impact of his shot, as he was with mine. But at that instant, Aradove threw herself from the hatch, and the world seemed to go white.
She had found the bomb makers lair. He was a Red Dwarf. A builder. And as one final surprise, he’d rigged his laboratory to explode. He, of course, teleported before it did.
So, here we are. No Ranger, no builder, and no answers. Just bodies. Too many bodies. The mist is falling through the gaping maw of the outpost. We are exhausted. Aradove is about to boil over, and there is nothing I can do, I fear. Eris has barely begun to recover, but there isn’t time. I need her. I need them all.

Sgt. R. Hawksclaw

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Campaign Report 24 (Sergeant Hawksclaw)
Arcfire Bombs

Report of Sgt. R. Hawksclaw
Evening, 30th of Festival Moons

I am tired. Physically and mentally exhausted. I will try to be brief, but so much has happened. I will begin with some good news. Eris has awoken, and has provided great service. We would be run even more ragged if it were not for her gifts. We, also, have a new addition to our ranks. An Eldekar named Evoran.
Yesterday morning, I met with The Lord Mayor, about our case(s). He is most concerned, and I can’t say I blame him.
Afterward, I called for Saron and ..,…. and we went to investigate the first murder site. What we discovered shocked me. After surveying the scene, we determined that the shot was made from an incredible distance, through a small glass window light, ricocheted off of a pillar, and lodged into the man’s throat… An impossible shot. Nearly impossible, anyhow. We examined the arrow, and were shocked again. It had been fletched by a ranger!
Armed with this knowledge, we went to the second site. The privy, where the man was shot through the head. Again, I was astounded. He had been shot from another incredible distance, through the light opening in the door, while standing up. I have only seen one ranger that I think capable. That man that held us off when the Prelacy Captain tried to make good on his escape is skilled enough.
I sense Redstore’s hand in this…
That was when the second explosion occurred. This time it devastated the Longhaul warehouse, which was full of military equipment. The first attack was a message. This time, it was to target the Olarian’s war effort. This caused great panic in the city.
We needed to open the gates. As we fought the fire, I ordered an adept to the main exits, and allowed citizens egress. Longtail has not stopped running, all day. Once the fire was out, we investigated the scene. ……… determined that the two magical components were havoc and explosion. Combined with arcmancy, these devices are quite complex.
I spoke with the High Sheriff, and we organized a city wide sweep for the next day.
Later, that evening, we returned to the outpost and turned in. Last night, While we slept, our world changed irrevocably.
I find it nearly incomprehensible that I must pen this mornings events. But, as of late, many things are hard to comprehend. I was woken, early. The sheriff was at the door. No messenger, no pomp, no flowery summons. Just the man. I was in wonder. He asked me to follow him, and he was obviously troubled. While we walked, “What is the matter?” I asked bluntly. He sighed and said “Grimbor is dead.” I stopped, cold. “What did you say?” I asked, as a cold shiver crept up my spine. “I swear to you, I had nothing to do with it.” He added. “You and I may not see eye to eye, but I would never step so low.” I nodded.
We went to the cell, where his body lay undisturbed. I removed his Rangers cloak, and covered his head. “Eris, are you there?” I thought. “I am here.” She replied. “Please summon Saron and …………. to me.” She responded, “It is done. I am sorry.” I turned, once again, to the body. I was, and still am concerned about Aradove’s reaction. What will she do? Will she try to take some kind of vengeance? I do not know, but I do believe the sheriff is innocent. I believe this is another part of the ploy against us…
The others arrived, and quickly determined the cause of death. Alchemy.
I ordered the body moved to the outpost. Once we arrived, I entered to break the news to Aradove.
She did not respond as I thought she would. A coldness came over her, the likes of which I’ve never witnessed from her. Again, I am concerned.
Later, we continued with our plan to sweep the city. We marched, with dozens of soldiers, through the entire city. Grid by grid, block by block, and home by home. We arrested scores of wanted individuals. As we marched, the people stared at us with fear, malice, and confusion. We also uncovered a din containing a new kind of floater. It was eerily similar to the ichor we witnessed from the plague in the Forrest. That is troubling. More troubling, is the fact that we did not find our target(s).
Now, it is time for a memorial. We are about to have Grimbor’s Last Call. I don’t know how to face them. He was one of my Rangers. One of our friends. He was murdered while under my command. I shall speak to Aradove.

Sgt. R.S. Hawksclaw

View
Slayer Report One
Arriving on the Mainland

Journal of Mugen VonDiedrich
Camden, Wildlands
Autumn, local date unknown

Day one,
I have arrived. I am glad to be off that damnable ship. Nazatir to Olara is a long journey… Although, I’m not sure how much better off I am here. Camden is a dirty place. On disembarking, I cleared my bill with the ship, and made my way off the wharf. I found an establishment called the Drowning Rat, or some such nonsense. I found out that to head north, there was only one road. Fortunately it goes through Kythros. It should only take a few days. I’ll begin after I finish my drink.
M. VonD.

Day 2
On the road.
Traveling is fairly easy. Roads good. It looks as if there has been a great deal of rain recently. Nights are cool. I am anxious to find my way north. It is almost as if I can feel the darkness that I’ve read so much about. I long to confront it. All in due time, for “Those who seek the darkness, are doomed to find it.”
M. VonD.

Day 3
On the road
Raining today. Not as many travelers. Just a few of those Rangers patrolling about. Couldn’t make camp, so I found this inn. It is nice enough, and they have promised supper. The old man is nice enough, and his daughter is striking. They seem a bit odd. It is probably nothing, as these Olarians are a strange people… I will try to rest tonight.
M. VonD.

Ps… I have found it…

View
Campaign Report 23 (Sergeant Hawksclaw)
Prelacy Strikes Back

26th Festival Moons, arrived in Echer’Naught
27th Festival Moons, Chapel of Light bombed
28th Festival Moons, Grimbore arrested for murder of three men.

Report of Sgt. Hawksclaw

I must be brief. We have been attacked! I am currently in the remains of the sanctuary of The Church of Light.
We arrived back in Eschernaught, yesterday. All was normal and Sgt. Maj. Stormhammer was overseeing construction on the outpost. All were well, including Nell.
This morning, I had the distinct pleasure of promoting RFC. Longtail to Cpl. Placed Ella in the home of the Col. and posted Alfred on watch. Met with The Lord Mayor, and learned of a recent murder. Warned him of the danger we encountered in the forest. Then the explosion happened.
Ran to the Chapel and helped with the rescue effort. Sent Saron to fetch the others. We questioned witnesses, and investigated. Vilandrian is wounded, but I was able to speak with he and Sir Luggard. Found traces of cryserium. Suspect the Crusaders.
Ordered the city gates closed. Longtail set out to uncover any illicit means of egress from the city. She has not returned. (On a personal note, I am worried about her safety.)
These attacks are an act of war. More to the point, they are an act of terror. I have a suspicion that one or more of the Crusaders, from the previous incident, is still at large. I will have the hospital placed under guard.
We need all available resources, and manpower. These attacks are meant to scatter our Rangers, so we should be careful to stay consolidated and act as a unit. There will be more, I fear. My idea is to act directly, rather than reacting to every action. We shall see, and may the Ascended be with us all.
Sgt. Hawksclaw

Sent from my iPhone

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