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

Campaign Report 22 (Sergeant Hawksclaw)
Blood, Corruption and Death

Report of Sgt. R. Hawksclaw

There is much to tell, of our journey through The Forrest. I will begin here.

Festival Moons 4th
We arrived and disembarked from the Shadow.

Aradove and I secured a lease on two large wagons for our overland trek. The Col. Went to the Ranger outpost to check for any communicades which might have arrived. Upon his return, the look of consternation was painted across his brow. Longtail and I moved towards him, and he immediately pulled me aside to speak privily.

“I have received orders”, he began ominously. He went on to explain that he was to report to a city near Thules, to aid the army in its campaign against the Prelacy. His orders were post dated, and he was to comply immediately. I expressed my concern that, with the wagons, his trip would be delayed. “That is why I must go alone” he said. I nodded, understanding his meaning. “What are your orders?” I asked.

Right there on the wharf, he placed me in command of the expedition. He turned to the steerage, and retrieved a parchment and another small object. “Sign this” he said, and handed me the parchment. “I’m sorry Olgor isn’t here, but I hereby promote you from corporal to Sargent.”

My jaw slackened, and I let his words sink as I signed the paper. Then he handed me the other object. “This ring signifies your post, and will serve as the badge of your rank.” I slipped it on, and it felt heavy. Ever so heavy.
With all eyes on him, he mounted his horse, gave us final instruction, and turned to ride. Everyone, then, turned to me. “Well, congratulations.” Aradove said. I laughed, to clear my tension, and immediately ordered our Camonese to retrieve the wagons.

When they arrived, I placed Eris in the rear wagon and ordered Aradove to her side. We then, with the help of the Avakar, loaded our goods. As soon as all was stowed, we moved out.

Presently, we arrived at the Elven border, and showed our papers. Once cleared, we did not tarry. Immediately, we were engulfed in the Forest. I must admit, I quite enjoyed the first leg of the trip.

I placed my Rangers, as follows: Alfred and myself riding near the front, Jeandarr’s men on the wagon seats, Jeandarr on the flank, Aradove and Eris in the rear wagon, and our new companion, Saron, giving us an aerial view. We traveled this way for nearly nine days. On the 2nd night (6th Festival Moons), we spotted a camp ahead. I sent Aradove and Alfred ahead to scout it. They reported that it was a Brenchee caravan, and that they were friendly. We pulled into the circle, and made our camp.

That night, we dined with the leader, a Brenchee of venerable age, and his protector. She was a large, predatory individual whose size was unlike any Brenchee I’d ever met. In his native tongue, and with her translation, (I’d never thought about it, but I found it odd that Aradove did not understand him.) he gave us a warning. He told us of a growing evil in the forest. Something, unlike, anything before witnessed. We listened intently, and he described a plague. He told of scouts who disappeared in the night, only to return changed. They would come back savage, and out for blood. “Watch for the black blood” he kept repeating. I was concerned, but I had to focus. “Mission first, then the mystery.” I’d kept telling myself. Dinner was concluded, and we thanked them. On our return, Aradove looked downtrodden. I wonder if it had to do with her meeting so many of her own kind. I do not know.

We passed the night well enough, and in the morning we continued north. We passed near Syvian, and I’d wished we could’ve stopped. I’ve always wanted to see the place where my father fought his last battle, but like him, I have a mission to complete. He would understand.

Festival Moons 14th
We neared Eldara, and things began to look very familiar. I knew where we could pass the night. We pulled the wagons in front of my home. I was surprised when we encountered Grek, Tiny, and the other two goats standing at my gate. The reason would explain itself, and soon. I left the others setting camp, and ascended the steps.

I had just eased the door open, when I was hit square in the abdomen by a screaming white bolt of pure energy. I was nearly blown off of the landing, and had to brace myself from the impact. Shakily, I reached down, embraced my little sister, and laughed.

I hoisted her, and went inside to greet my mother. I was shocked to find, not only her, but Kellebor. He was sitting, and smoking his pipe. I looked confused, and he greeted me with a nod. Before I could speak, I was beset on both sides by my family. Under their relentless barrage, I hadn’t the wind or resolve to ask any of my own questions. Mother went to prepare a meal and I, in a state of confusion, returned to gather my compatriots.

The evening was delightful. Food was ample, my friends were comfortable, and I was home. My mother fussed over every detail that she wrung out of me, and I tried to dispel her concerns. Saron was at the mercy of my sister, who told him every detail about her day, and Aradove remained introspective. I worry for her.
After dinner, Ella, mother, and I sat for a while and talked. Then I spoke with Kellebor in regards to the illicit logging operations on the border. He promised to find out where the loggers were at, and relay the information to me. I thanked him, whereupon he made his exit. I hugged my sister, and bid goodnight to mother.

Leaving Ella to sleep inside, I returned to to the wagons. I asked Aradove to remain with Ella, and she returned inside. I must say that sleeping in ones own yard is an odd feeling. However, leaving my party was out of the question.

Festival Moons 15th
The morning came, and with it our departure. We loaded up, and resumed our posts. I bid my family farewell, and after being plied with obscene amounts of food, took our leave. I have found that when a Ranger leaves their home, they cast a long glance back. Ones who face an uncertain future, often do.

Festival Moons 18th
We traveled on, for three days, and on the third night stopped to make camp. Alfred and one of Jeandarr’s men had first watch. Before I fell asleep, I thought of the Colonel, of home, of Longtail’s sadness, and of Ella.
Past midnight, I was awaken by the sound of nothing at all. I opened my eyes, and realized that the watch hadn’t been relieved. Cautiously, I rose and moved to where Alfred sat. “The little bugger is asleep! Dammit!” I thought. I grabbed at him, and felt warmth run through my fingers. I started, and was taken aback. His side was weeping, as his life’s blood pooled beneath him. I shouted to the others to arise, as I channeled life into Alfred’s limp form. Jeandarr’s man was in the same fashion. “Damn.” I uttered. “Give me a head count!” I shouted.

My heart sank when we realized that she was missing. “Eris…” I thought. Without warning, we were all recoiled by a primal scream which pierced our consciousness. The horror that I felt was, until now, unimaginable. “It’s my fault.” I muttered, as I scoured the aria for a trail. We found one. Leaving two Camonese with the injured, we set into the forest. Aradove ranged just ahead, and we followed quietly. It didn’t take long.
Ahead, in a clearing, we saw her. Eris was laid across a stone, and above her stood an Elven woman. The woman was dressed in rags that, once, were the robes of a Druid. In her hand was a knife. She was babbling in Elven and I herd, “Blood… Blood… Blood for the Blood Queen…” Mortified, I indicated for Longtail to remain and the others to hook right. We needed to move, quickly. Once they’d reached their position, we advanced as one. We did not make it far.

As I stalked forward, I paused. I drew back an arrow. At once, a large presence moved to my right, and as I turned, an ancient tree stretched down it’s branches and engulfed me.

I writhed against its force, but to no avail. My mind raced, as it’s branches began to constrict my body.
Aradove was, from her left, assailed by two individuals. Jeandarr, his man, and Saron were set upon, as well. The Avakar took flight, and began to pray, as he drew his bow. We were, then, committed to the fight.
I felt the ancient tree tighten around me and I squirmed, powerless to move. The black ichor oozed around me. The corrupted Druedess carried the knife aloft, and steeped in her blood rage, she kept screaming “Blood for the Blood Queen!”…

I felt the blood vessels in my eyes begin to burst, and herd the sickening crack of one of my ribs. I looked back at Eris, then at my friends. “No. Not like this…” I thought.

Then, with the last air I could gulp, I called upon Leandra. I pressed my palms forward, and a jet of energy fired into the heart of the tree. It was wreathed in green flame, and in its pain dropped me. It was not finished, though.

From the woods came a slow scraping of leaves and shambling of feet. I remembered what the old Brenchee had said. The plague.

I found my bow, and took aim at the Druid, as Aradove cut one of her assailants down. I fired, and my arrow glanced off of an invisible field that surrounded the Druid. Then I was attacked again by the tree. I managed to evade it, but soon, the creatures burst from the underbrush. They were horrifying.

The creatures had once been men, I was sure, but now… Their arms were outstretched, the heads lolled about, and the black blood seeped from their glazed eyes.

I fired, once, at the thing attacking Longtail, and put it off balance. Quickly, she sprang into motion, and slashed it. It’s momentum wavered, and she dashed past, toward Eris. I turned to face my newest threat, but they were upon me. One slashed toward me, and drove me to my knees. I did see the Avakar manage to take flight over the ones attacking them. He pressed on, firing at the Druid, as Aradove charged. Longtail reached Eris as the Druid brought the knife down toward Eris’s neck. She snatched her off of the stone, as the knife opened a small wound on her throat. She’d made it. With that, she ran and the Druid shrieked.

At the same time, Flit came to try and aid me. She touched me, and my vision began to focus. That was when I saw the Druid point her knife at the fleeing pair. Again, she raged, and from beneath Longtail, vines snarled around her ankles sending her crashing down.

The fall threw Eris forward, and with her bound hands, she pushed herself upright. “Run!” I thought. But she didn’t. I could see her face, and the blood running down her neck. Her face contorted, and her eyes burned beneath their wrappings. I knew that she could, possibly, affect the Druid’s mind. That gave me hope, that is, until I looked back.

I watched the Druid take her knife, blackened with the blood of her own victims, and slide it into her own throat. Her eyes went wide as she drew the blade outward and across. I watched her blood spray over the stone, as she sank to her knees. Eris sobbed once, convulsed, and collapsed.

The vines entangling Aradove withered, as did the grotesque figures attacking us. The tree, however, did not. It continued swatting at Saron, as he nimbly dodged.

I looked at Eris, crumpled in the dirt, and felt hot tears begin to well up. “Get her, and get back to the wagons!” I ordered. I rose and realized that the tree was once a sacred entity. A spirit creature. I could feel my anger, and my hatred for whatever did this, rising inside me. “I’m sorry.” I said, as I turned to run.

I made it back to the edge of camp, behind the others, as the wagons were being loaded. “Here it comes!” Someone shouted. I turned, and again, felt the same despair. We wouldn’t make it. I had to make a choice. To kill an, otherwise innocent, spirit creature, that had been corrupted by some twisted fiend. Or risk loosing one of my friends…

“You don’t deserve this.” I whispered. The time drew short. I had to act. My spirit had been tapped by my earlier encounter, yet I knew she would answer me. “Leandra. Hear me.” I pleaded.

Using a force, which I did not know I possessed, I turned my power inward, and toward my very soul. I felt it amplify, within me, and it felt as if I would burn myself alive. At once, it was if Leandra, herself, had loosed her power from my body.

The ancient tree seemed to radiate a green aura. Branches and vines from nearby trees thrust toward it, and the forest seemed to bind it into place. When I regained my vision, I saw that it had stopped moving. It still bore it’s damage, but it had cast it’s roots back into the soil, and the forest had grown silent again. The black ichor seemed to’ve burned away, cleansed by leandra’s power.

I turned, and was overcome with emotions. My friends, my Rangers, were alive. All of us were hurt, but we were alive. Now I worry for them.

How does one rectify sending their friends to their possible demise? How do you order Rangers to stand, even if it means that they may not survive? I do not, yet, know. We need one another. Aradove saved Eris’s life, and in turn, Eris saved mine. We have sway over our friends very lives. It is a hard thing to contemplate. Longtail is still downcast. Alfred is wounded. (Thankfully, Saron has been seeing to him.) I haven’t herd Eris’s voice in some time. It was hard to get used to, but now I feel the void left by her silence… She was in the woman’s mind when it died. She felt her death. I pray she recovers. I pray they all do.

Sgt. R.S. Hawksclaw

(Arrive in Erda’Meias Festival Moons 24th)

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Field Report 1: Illiana's Point
Digging up the Past

To: Colonel Wolfhaven, Echer’naught regional ranger command.

From: The Rangers of Illiana’s Point, location east of the Malakar dominion, along the coast, between Eastport and Anasia.

I write this report to you, as events in our town of Illiana’s point have made it clear to us, that nefarious EVIL forces are at large in your area of responsibility.

On the day of (insert date) at night a Thratchen demon in town, led us into a ambush in a warehouse at the docks.

Ambush set by Ranger 1st. class Khundoh former slave master, Egil Boorgin of the red store.

It consisted of 1 Battlemaster candidate Minotaur, 2 lesser minotaur’s, the Thratchen and 10-15 ratzin.

Hard fight, but no casualties, main antagonist escaped.

The ambush was part of a greater plot to seize key items to a magical ritual.

Apart from the ambush, the plan involved several other elements of misdirection throughout the city.

This included an attack on the prison and the Doge’s Palace.

While the attention of the valiant defenders of Illiana’s Point was occupied by putting down the servants of evil, the human pawns of the evil stole several items of magical properties, for use by there dark masters.

Crystals and books from the university, documents from the church and our own headquarter. A magical sword and ring from the noble family of Von Deidrich.

Those were heirlooms from a famous vampire hunter.

We tracked down the most important items and imprisoned several members of the plot.

Through interogation, the location of the ritual was discovered and the forces of Life and Justice descended upon the FOUL lair of the necromancers.

After fighting our way through hordes of undead minions, we reached the ritual site, and defeated the necromancers and there bodyguard.

Alas, it was too late to prevent the main antagonist to eascape. It later turned out that his demonic minions had also stolen the sword and ring again, while we were otherwise engaged.

The portal the ritual had opened lead into a desert, where a second portal lead to a different location, where in waithed an ebon-skinned vampire, of ancient heritage. The Heraldry worn by the vampire and bodyguards, was that of (Insert the name of your vampire lords ancient kingdom here) an ancient Kingdom, before the days of Olara.

The nefarious plot was aided by members of the university faculty and prison guard corp both. Investigations into these two institutions are ongoing.

Yours sincerely

Ranger Raedgar son of Fyrsig

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Field Report: Church of Light, 2
Light and Darkness: Part Two

Dancing Clouds 4th, 3123 Under the Light

Holy Father,

Leaving three of my party to hold the rear, I with the remainder, descended into the depths on the trail of the necromancer.

We followed the stairs, straight and narrow deeper and deeper into the dark. From below, we began to hear a faint chanting echoing from the depths to far away to pinpoint. It took a few minutes, with me in the lead, Fekla between and the woman in the rear.

Suddenly, the path flattened out and I found myself in a dimly lit tomb. Around me, I could smell the scent of dry rot and something dusty, but I could not make out the source in the flickering torches. Stepping inside, I was suddenly aware of a faint creaking and clicking echoing in the near silence.

Moving further in, sword and shield at the ready, I was surprised by motion to my right in a series of alcoves that seem to have been used to once hold victims for nefarious purposes. But, just as I turned, nightshade clad skeletons lumbered out of every nook and cranny.

They struck hard, reeling me with blows. Behind me, Fekla bellowed and laid into them with her ax, but neither ax nor sword appeared to do much damage. From the corner, our necromancer raised up to fire a bolt of darkness. The alakar woman was on him in an instant, striking him with her sword, but the darkness surrounding him clawed at her, frosting her armor in the chill of death.

Then, out of nowhere, a goblin tumbled from a collapses portion of the cieling. How he came to be there, or why I only found out much later. But, his presence heralded a change in our fortunes. Though, the goblin was injured in the fall, his companion, an orc warrior who dropped from the hole a second later was far from it.

No sooner had his boots struck flagstone, when he hurled a throwing ax in the direction of the necromancer, wounding him, but not killing him. In fear, the necromancer fled again, descending down another flight of stairs.

We would have followed, but I and Fekla were bottled up in the door by a wall of skeletons and were having trouble doing any significant damage. Though it took him a moment to recover, the diminutive goblin managed to draw and fling a knife, catching one of the five skeletons in the back of the head, shattering his scull.

But first blood was the last taste of victory we achieved for some time. Even though we flanked and surrounded the skeletons, our bladed weapons simply could not damage the ancient, animated bones.

Around me, my allies grew more and more frustrated as blow after blow seemed to glance harmlessly off our foes. Our only consolation was that they seemed to have similar difficulty. At least, until a lucky blow pierced my abdomen, driving me to my knees.

My allies rushed to my aid, desperately drawing attention away from me as I called upon Archanon for healing. With his strength, I surged to my feet and felled a foe. I summoned and honored dead who crushed another.

Realizing the key to victory was bludgeoning weapons, my allies grabbed whatever they could, old legs from furniture which has been used by the previous inhabitants, and in Fekla’s case, a lid to one of the five sarcophagi.

However, when the Alakar tried to smash a skeleton, the dry rotted wood shattered in her hands. Her second blow, with he shield missed the skeleton by Fekla’s leg and struck the ogress. Fekla, who had already hurled away the lid in anger, reached down, ripped away the Paladin/priest’s shield and hurled it away as well.

We all quickly realized the ogress’ growing anger, and quickly moved away to get clear of her increasingly violent outbursts. The goblin managed to retrieve the shield and moved ahead to scout, while we let Fekla vent some of her frustration on the final skeleton, which she bodily snatched up and smashed into a wall.

Once the room was clear, we paused a minute to gain blessings once again before descending any further. Once done, with the goblin scouting ahead, we continued, this time with the enraged Fekla in the lead.

Down we went, and very nearly walked into an ambush, when our scout returned and stopped us just outside of a large room. He indicated that there were Shayakar, necromancers and werewolves in the room ahead.

Fekla barely nodded before barging in and charging a trio of werewolves forming a line in the center of the room. The res of the allies followed. I had just stepped inside, when a figure in black on a dias opposite the door raised his hands and unleashed a storm of roiling black tendrils of smoke. they coiled around, quickly filing the room. And suddenly, everyone ahead of me was engulfed in darkness.

From inside the cloud I heard the sounds of combat; the orc bellowing, arrows shattering against armor, the howl of wolves and the chant of necromancers. Most disturbing, I heard Fekla laughing with malicious glee. A second later, the Alakar woman stumbled out of the cloud and I realized at that moment that whatever ritual our enemy had been performing here was completed.

Though I got but a glimpse, I am certain that the creature on the dias was a powerful vampire of some form. Alone, he would have been all but impossible to defeat. Together with his guardians, he was unassailable. With this realization came decision. I bowed a knee and beseached Archanon for aid against this ancient foe.

Beside me, the Celestial spirit knelt beside and added his power with mine. Unbidden, my Alakar friend joined as well. And so, in the midst of chaos, darkness and battle while our friends fought and bled, we prayed, our voices rising to the heavens.

In answer, the room began to shake, chunks of ceiling falling around us. And then, like a meteo, a bolt of pure, white light crashed into the room, momentarily halting battle.

In that bolt of a light, massive wings spread and a Celestial Guardian Angel of the 3rd Order appeared. With a wave, it banished the darkness surrounding us and leveled its holy blade at the chest of the Vampire Lord who, taking stock of the situation turned, stepped into shadow with two of his guardians and vanished. To where, or how, I know not.

Nevertheless, without their commander, the enemy forces began to crumble, though I must admit, those that remained fought to the last. Now able to see, and healed by the Angel who then ascended to the heaven’s, Fekla exacted a terrible toll on our enemies. The Orc, the goblin and the Alakar all acquitted themselves admirably. Even I and my Celestial companion counted on of the Shayakar as our contribution.

Though it felt like hours, the combat was over in moments leaving us in control of the field, and yet, I fear the victory must go to our enemies.

Now that we had a moment to take stock, I examined the ritual site and the bodies of the victims only to discover something horrible. Five individuals, all young had had their throats slit and the blood collected for the Vampire to feed. Worse yet, the victims included a young Eldakar druidess, a young dregordian sailor girl, a young male dwarf smith, a young male aevakar and last, a young human man from a local Church of Light. In effigy, each of the ascended had been slain, their avatar’s blood used to raise whatever dark thing was entombed in this ancient crypt.

Worse, it had escaped to into the norther wildlands to continue whatever dark plot the forces of Darkness now embarked upon.

I only pray that we can find it in time.

We have secured the sight and ensured that none will enter without our permission. I am sending for more priests to aid in the cleansing and eventual destruction of the tomb and crypt, but I fear that this is but the beginning.

As soon as the situation is under control here, I shall return to Echer’Naught.

Obediently yours,

A. Alystar

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Field Report: Church of Light
Light and Darkness: Part One

Dancing Clouds 4th, 3123 Under the Light

Holy Father,

I report with sad and troubled heart for the Light hath revealed the Corruption spreading at the heart of the land. A Goblinesh gather nestled amidst rocks in the Northern reaches of the Wildlands has been attacked by forces of Darkness. Though some small few survived, the greater number perished…or were turned to the service of the Dark.

As ordered, I arrived in Echer’Naught after my successful resupply of Jasara. I had some time to serve the Chapel of Light there under the direction of High Priest Vallandrian. It was at this time that I received your message. Under your direction, and with the assistance of Sergeant Major Stormhammer of the Rangers, I sent out a distress beacon to the surrounding territories for any and all assistance.

I am aware that Col Wolfhaven arrived in Tarnn to take over operations there. He was kind enough to lend aid by way of an Eldakar Sorcerer/Priest. So too, I was joined by a new Paladin/Priest, an Alakar woman recently raised to the cloth. With her came a young Paladin human, another Eldakar Druid and last, unbelievably, a one eyed Ogress named Fekla. A name I would not soon forget.

After assembling at the Chapel of Light in Echer’Naught, just after morning services I briefed them on the situation. Reports from the Rangers indicated that many isolated villages and a few gathers had been attacked, though all traces of bodies had been removed. Also, there has been an increasing number of Darkness infested creatures in the same region while encounters with Shayakar and Necromancers are also on the rise. In confidence, I had been briefed that an unusual coffin had been captured by a group north of Echer’Naught.

All of which indicated a larger Shaya’Nor presence.

So, by noon we were riding south, heading to the last known location of attack given to the church by fleeing goblinesh. It took many days. Our first indication of trouble was mid-day on the 3rd. As the ground became more broken by rocks and scrub, we saw a column of smoke rising high into the sky.

Moving forward, we spotted a small group of Goblinesh fleeing a larger group of Corrupted. I immediately ordered the Druid and Paladin to take a position on the ridge for covering fire. As for the rest, we rushed to intercept the Corrupted before they reached the civilians. Sadly, before we had a chance, the troll caught up to them and killed three with a single swipe of his ax.

The human Paladin and the Druid lay down fire as the rest of the party prayed to Archanon or summoned powers of their own before charging into battle. As we closed, the Troll smashed through his own allies, nearly crushing two. Before the last three refugees were killed, Fekla rushed into the path of the Troll and they began a titanic battle. Meanwhile, the female Paladin/Priest threw herself down the rocky cliff with abandon to reach the enemy more swiftly.

Our arrows and spells felled the Troglodytes and Hobgoblins as they tried to engage. One of the Hobgoblins managed to reach the base of the cliff and vanish. Meanwhile, the Troll swung wildly, nearly killing the female Priest/Paladin, but her divine aura saved her. The tainted minions were not so lucky. The battle was all but won, however, when Fekla seemingly nearly ripped the troll in half, his wounds healed faster than she could swing.

At that moment, Ash, the Mage/Priest realized the reason and tossed her his Everwood staff. With this, the mighty Ogress felled the troll and the battle was won. Or so we thought. A scream from behind revealed that the vanished Hobgoblin had not fled, but closed on the human paladin and had nearly gutted him.

I, Ash, Ash’s dog rushed to his aid. Together, we managed to slay the foul creature in short order. Meanwhile, the female paladin/priest managed to calm the terrified goblinesh. With Ash translating, I was able to ascertain that their gather had also been overrun by creatures of Darkness the previous night. They were the last of their people, so far as they knew. But they warned us that the area was overrun with their corrupted cousins.

We put their minds at east as best we could and sent them to Echer’Naught. Then, turning we followed the column of smoke to their gather.

We arrived toward dusk to find the gather in flames and crawling with Trolls, Troglodytes and Hobgoblins. As we watched, the corrupted goblinesh were collecting the dead bodies of the fallen and stacking them near a hooded figure. A necromancer.

Taking a minute, we summoned the power of our ascended. Fortunately, this guaranteed our continued blessing. Unfortunately, our use of power attracted the attention of our foes, who quickly gathered and closed.

Fekla again took the lead, charging against no fewer than three massive trolls. The druid summoned the power of Landra and encased one in a cocoon of vines from which it never emerged. In a clash of arms, we slammed into the remaining trolls and troglodytes, slashing and smiting even as the necromancer peppered us with dark bolts.

Time and again, Fekla took blow after blow, but the ogress refused to fall. Step by bloody step, we moved forward. Then, in the midst of the chaos, the necromancer raised three dead goblinesh to rush our lines, but they were little match for Archanon’s might. One by one, the troglodytes fell, the trolls taking longer, but we had learned our lesson with using mundane weapons.

In short order, all those left standing were eliminated, even the one encased in vines. And yet, the necromancer escaped, fleeing into what appeared to be a hole in the base of the cliff. The two Eldakar raced forward before I could speak.

No sooner had they stepped beneath the shadow of the cliff, when five hobgoblins appeared and attacked them en-mass. The druid was driven to his knees, and the mage/priest nearly followed, but the others rushed to their side. The priest summoned a Celestial Lantern Bearer who attempted to heal the druid. Meanwhile, Feklar thundered up and began to lay waste with mighty swings of her ax.

Though it cost us dearly, we managed to eliminate our would-be assassins. As I stepped up to the hole, I felt a wave of Darkness pass over me so intense my vision swam. Etched into the lintel stone of what we realized was an ancient and weathered doorway was the ancient symbol of Vainar, before his fall which had been corrupted and blasphemed, presumably by his ancient followers.

It appeared that this entrance had only been recently excavated. There was even evidence of digging equipment among the many burn piles. From what I can tell, agents of Darkness must have been operating in this area for at least a month prior using captured humans, elves and goblinesh to dig up this ancient, corrupted temple.

I also noted that the force of corrupted we had just faced seemed large to our party, it was but a small part of the army nearby. We did not have time to call for reinforcements, but nor could I leave us exposed to an attack from the rear.

With reluctance I ordered Ash to remain at the door with the young Paladin and the druid while I entered the temple with Fekla and the Paladin/Priest alakar woman.

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Reports from the North
Rildrirr Writes Home

Somewhere in Kal-A-Nar Empire near Essal’s Keep

Festival Moons 13th

I am sending word to you my friend on my travel leaving heading north. I have ridden for a quite a trip meeting with a group of rangers. These warriors seem like they are well ready for what is to happen. We met up with the unchained asking for help with their efforts. I stay quiet helping with talks with those who don’t kalinesh.

Keeping quiet I looking at each other ranger there trying to see how they match up.
We where asked to stop a caravan run from a kalinesh group. They wanted us take what we could to help the unchained out. I thumb my blade nodding to myself knowing my friends are with me.

We had many different types of rangers ogres to winged elves. I traveled carefully along a path watching the wagons coming closer. We waited until they came close to attack. I stay with the not more armed rangers covering them for a while. The battle began when the ogre attack a group of men roaring into battle. The fight has been going on for a while as I finally joined into the battle. I knowing that the others are safe I help take care of the rest of the enemy.

We where told we are need to attack an enemy supply depot agreeing this the best course of action. We traveled to the area of the area looking around carefully. Someone was given some flame items to burn it down. We each attack each side of the depot. They blew a side of the building coming in attacking everything. The battle was fierce I fought with great strength and skill I had. We finally winning the depot burning down we left returning to report on what has happened.

Rildrirr.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Wolfhaven

We have been given word that a magic portal will be opened bring in flame creatures. So to be tasked into with the others to make sure that it isn’t opened. I look to myself knowing that I had no means to deal with such creatures though of normal men I can. The portal was to be opened in a temple for the flame. Plans where talked into assault a heavy defended walled city to get there. The plan was some of us attack along the side of the city while some of us climbed a ledge.

I was one those few that did the battle was fierce. I was glad to have a few good hands with battle experience with me. We had a few Avakar with use helping in the air and one that healed. I came in fighting where I could glad to help where I could. As this battle coming to the end knowing that the fight was not over. He traveled through the city to the temple to stop them from opening the portal.

We arrived at the temple build into the side of a mountain face. It was made partly of blood steel seeming some of our company in chills. Before we left our base camp our magic user with us was given a staff to cancel out the portal if was active. Having my blade in hand I prayed I had the strength of my comrades in Echernaught with me. We charge in the temple the Acolytes and their men had no chance as we came in slew them all. It seem like good fortune was us that day as we stopped them opening the portal and saved some slaves.

I do hope these reports find you well and hope to see all soon as I came find that city like a second home to me now. I will continue send word on the progress from here.

Rildrirr
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Wolfhaven

Well seems like what help with unchained we gave has given good standing with them. I’m training with adepts here to continue help with battles. Try to give me another edge in battle hard at times but well be done. We where called by our unchained contact about attack a city. We are to cause an slave upraising anyway we can.

As we headed toward the city we met up with an Alakar spy to help get into the city. I was the only human among the group we discussed on what to do. Someone suggested that some will be come in as salves those close to human looking come in as slave sellers. I would come in as a guard help knowing the language helped.

We slowly came into the city the Windged stayed in a wagon covered while the rest chained up keep the slave disguise up. I took the guard look well I keep my eye out watching those around as we traveled. We came up to a city entrance the one who talk with used his charm well. I kept quiet only my face gave an angry glare at them holding is up.

Finally through that gate we headed for an inn we where to meet an ally to help us into the pits. Which help the slaves we need to free and help with the upraising. Finally arriving at the inn where ushered into a large stable area for those take off the chain and rest for a bit. A female brinche with the inn keeper told us way into the pits by the sewers ways. I will tell you didn’t smell like a place I wished to go through. Still we need to go this way to what needed to be done.

Traveling through a secret way from the inn to the sewers traveling that route. We came upon a lower entrance to the pits cage area we talked the best way to get in. Well chose to split up go through an open door way while the other half go through a wall. Someone planned to melt through the wall with a spell. I watched carefully as this happened glad some of these people where on my side.

As the large hole was made we ran in taking care of what guards there while the hallway area was taken care of by the others. I kept up the pace with the large ogre with our group quite interesting fellow warrior. Finally freeing the slaves we charge through the entrance to the pits weapons in hand. Our large ogre friend
charge into the people in the stands. I came in fighting what stood in our way.

Watching from the side of my eye slowly turning watching as some others came in fight a fire blooded warlord. He looks at them weapon in telling them they are dead. Finishing my opponent I jumped into the stands heading to go help them. The ogre wielding what I can see now a large white spear of strange look in hand. He fought the warlord hand to hand as the others fought his men. The warlord bellowed forth into large fiery form looking at the ogre laughing.

With great strength the ogre slew the warlord which even impressed me I roared in great voice of our victory. We finished the guard about them I went with fellow slave free other and start the upraising.

Now that this battle is over I have been with unchained for sometime passing the word to you I am heading back home. Hopefully with the help here I gave we made allies and good friends I can say. I fought with great warriors and made a few friends. Though now I return to the others hopefully well and safe.

Rildrirr

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Campaign Report 21
Prelacy on the High Seas

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

At sea, west of the Wildlands

Third Day, Festival Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

Out trip from Kythros to Camden, the aptly named “Snakes Den” took no more than three and half days, two to Shan and then another day and a half to Camden. We met many people along the road, but they were merchants, craftsmen, travelers, laborers and many Rangers. The trip sped by quickly and pleasantly.

About an hour outside of Camden, I dispatched Corporal Hawksclaw and Ranger 1st Class Longtail ahead to secure passage and charter a ship to Eastport. In command of the advanced party, I placed Longtail. Hawksclaw appeared sanguine about the reversal of roles, a true sign of leadership.

Nevertheless, my Ranger entered the town without issue and quickly secured passage on board a rather suspicious but aptly craft named, “The Shadow.” She was captained by a human, male, a Freelander by accent and bearing. He never offered a name, but was brusque and straightforward in his dealings. And, to the letter, complied with every detail of the agreement reached. For that, and perhaps that alone, he is to be commended.

As was relayed to me after the fact, they first secured Hawksclaw’s mount in a rather despicable stables, known as the Draper Livery. The proprietor, Hors, was as fat as he was lazy. But, he took the coin offered and did a tolerable job keeping the horse alive for the hour needed. After which, my men sought out a tavern on the docks and lit upon a likely establishment known locally as the Drowned Rat.

Therein, they spoke with the proprietor about possible passage and were then directed to a large, hulking Orc who, after some negotiation took them to the meet the aforementioned Captain. From what Longtail explained, the haggling was executed swiftly and with a minimal fuss. She paid the man’s price and soon my men were on their return trip to our little caravan.

By one turn of the hourglass after dark, our wagons were splashing through the muddy streets as the constant rain battered our oilskin cloaks. We arrived at the docks as Unidar was rising into the sky. When we arrived at the docks, we found the Orc waiting at the top of the gantry. After a brief discussion, we were allowed aboard and quickly began the work of stowing our gear below in the hold.

As for Hawksclaw, he was given the responsibility of ensuring Moonsilver’s safety in a cramped cabin provided by the Captain. As we completed our task, Longtail requested permission to take a short leave and, as she has been so helpful in arranging the charter, and we were not leaving for hours, I consented.

While she was gone, a new figure emerged, an Aevakar priest. He seemed a bit lost and certainly out of place, but I sensed he was a good man, so I encouraged the Captain to accept his coin and allow him to join our party. I would be very glad of his company in a few days. But for the moment, aside from the suspicion our former Camonese allies caused among the crew, we were prepared to depart. Lontail arrived, and by sun up, we were already under way.

For days, we sailed blissful and restive over sapphire blue waters. With nothing to do, and no business to attend, I spent my days resting and catching up on my paperwork. Hawksclaw remained with Eris, more because he enjoys her company than my orders I suspect. As for Longtail, this trip was far more active and she enjoyed her time with the crew. My Camonese, they drank wine, sang songs and generally enjoyed the trip.

About five days in, Longtail challenged Alfred to a test of arms. I am surprised and pleased to say that Hawksclaw’s tutelage has been stellar. The young man held his own for quite some time, only finally falling to a rather savage blow from the Brinchie warrior. Though he might have lost the fight, he won the respect of all, most especially Longtail. After which, our Aevakar, Saris, tended to the young Ranger’s wounds and we all enjoyed a repast. Even Moonsilver and Hawksclaw emerged from isolation to join us.

For another couple of days, our trip was almost blissful. It was not until the morning of the 1st of Festival Moons that things began to change. We all woke to a mist, so thick, it was impossible to see more than a foot or so in any direction. From the mast to the prow, sailors would be swallowed in the gray gloom. So too did sounds become muffled and flat, as if from far away. Voices sounded distorted and the lap of water on the hull grew ominous.

Our Captain doused the lights and ordered complete and utter silence. So palpable was the anxiety on board, that is seemed an infection that spread from host to host. Soon, all were standing on deck, peering into the gloom, straining to see…anything.

Longtail attempted to scramble up the rigging to the crow’s nest, but slipped on the slick ropes, falling to the deck with a thud. The sudden motion and strange sight of the Brinchie stumbling broke some of the tension deck. The rest broke when Saris sailed up to the crow’s nest and nearly stopped the lookout’s heart. His curse started the crew chuckling, until the Captain silenced us once again.

Then, Saris noticed something far off in the gloom. Two dull, orange flashes. No sooner had he given a warning shout when Arcfire slammed into the port side of the ship’s brow. Our small craft bucked under the fire and flames began licking at the gunwales.

Without hesitation, the Captain shouted for all hands on deck, and threw up all the canvas we possessed. My Rangers gathered around, weapons coming out, but for the moment, our skills were useless. Spinning the wheel hard, the Captain tried to pull away and perhaps lose the enemy ship in the thick soup.

A second volley of fire slammed into our side, knocking the ship sideways and sending fires across the bow. The forward lookout and on of the sailors was immolated instantly. Longtail sprinted forward, swords drawn. On the poop deck, the Captain was demanding calm, as the “Shadow” was far faster than what was clearly a larger enemy warship. It was at that moment when the third Arcfire volley struck the mast, shattering it about six feet above the deck. With a horrendous creaking, groan, the towering mast dipped, then crashed to the deck, showering us with shrapnel.

In the crow’s nest, I spied Saris snatching the falling lookout in mid air and flinging him toward the fore rigging, before he himself settled on the smaller fore-mast. Aft, Hawksclaw threw himself over Moonsilver, shielding her with his body. I shouted above the din for my Rangers to form up. Gendarre, his two me-at-arms and Alfred all formed up at the shattered mast with me. Our crossbowmen fell back to cover the captain and Longail was just about to turn.

Only then, did we hear Longtail’s cry of warning as a massive, dark shape loomed out of the cloying fog and crashed into our ship, just port of the masthead, striking us so hard, that nearly everyone but myself and the sailors were hurled to the deck. Longtail, on her back, looked up in shock as a huge fore-castle appeared, as if by magic, above her. Before we had a moment to recover, our enemy sprang into action.

Four arclancers appeared between the enemy castle’s crenelations and began to pour fire into the deck, primarily singling out Longtail, who took rounds where she lay. Then four more arcfire enhanced soldiers appeared along with a pair of Prelacy paladins, swinging to our deck with practiced ease. As if that were insufficient, an Arcmancer teleported into existence on our port side, amidships, while a Prelacy crusader dropped lightly to the deck on the starboard side and began to stalk aft…straight for Hawksclaw.

The battle began in earnest. The four arcfire soldiers charged out line, slamming into me even as my men scrambled to their feet. Poor Longtail was set upon by both paladins who hacked and slashed as she desperately attempted to roll free. In the rigging, arclancers took shots at Saris, while the Crusader stalked across the deck, intent on reaching our Captain.

Chaos ensued. Longtail managed to flip up, slashing one of the paladins as she flipped to her feet. Hawksclaw dropped his bow, summoned his new power and unleashed a jet of condensed mist which slammed into the crusader, pushing him backwards across the deck. Around me, Rangers rallied and began slashing at the four prelacy soldiers.

Over our heads, Saris fell back to a position above the poop deck and fired at the Arcmancer. Sadly, the accursed arcfire shields deflected the arrow harmlessly away. I struck hard, felling one of the soldiers, but heard a Camonese ally scream as a sword bit home. By now, Longtail was in the thick of it, whirling, spinning, dodging, staying a hair’s breadth ahead of the slashing prelacy swords. Behind me now, I could hear Hawkslcaw drawing his blades, and his cries as the crusader began his bloody work. I only hoped my Corporal could fend the man off long enough for someone to come to his aid.

More fire from the cursed arclancers. Bright orange traces shattered against Longtal’s armor, a two found me out, finding a chink in my armor. I grimaced from the pain, but managed to hold my feet. Behind me, Hawksclaw fought a bitter battle, but the warrior he faced had been bred to kill. I could almost feel the Ranger backing step by slow step, yet unyielding under the relentless assault. Before Saris could re-aim and assist Hawkclaw the cursed arcmancer raised his rod and fired a web of arcfire which struck the Aevakar in the chest, quickly encircled him, trapping his wings and dropped him to the deck, ensnared.

I had about enough of that noise, raised my sword and called upon Archanon. My ascended heard my prayer and a beam of white light burst from my blade, slamming into the arcmancer’s weapon rendering it useless. With a curse, the coward turned and ran. Not so his men.

Longtail managed to get in a lucky blow and dropped one of the paladins, but the second scored a hit, gashing her open. More fire from the arclancers, and again, Longtail and I found ourselves in a rain of arcfire. I slashed again, missing my target. Gendarre got in a lucky blow, staggering a man to my left. Behind me, I heard Hawksclaw scream; my heart sank. If only I could…

All thought was brushed from my mind as a voice, so soft, yet so intense that it brushed my will aside like leaves before a summer breeze.

“Lay down your arms.”

For a moment, I had the urge to comply, but realized the command was not for me. It was Moonsilver. In the confusion of the fight, she had remained hidden. Yet when the mortal blow was to fall on Hawksclaw, she stepped forward and broke the crusader’s mind with her own. I could not see, as I was hard pressed, but I was soon to realize the true extent of her power.

Nevertheless, with the arcmancer gone, one of the soldiers down and the crusader immobilized, the tide of battle turned in our favor.

And then I died.

Or, at least, that is how it felt. Four arclancers poured fire into me so intense it shattered my breastplate and hurled me backwards into the mast. I staggered, the pain was so intense, my vision swam then whited out. I dropped to knee knowing the next blow would spell my doom. But it never came. Gendarre and Alfred surged, holding back the soldiers while I regrouped.

I rose, stepped forward and dropped a prelacy soldier to the deck. Longtail finished her last paladin and charged the prelacy line from behind, falling on one of the men and cutting him down. Then the arclancers fired and Longtail was gone, down, bleeding out her life’s blood on the deck.

I roared, slashed, missed and took another round. And I fell.

Around me, confusing rained. Longtail, Hawkscalw and I were down, Eris held the crusader, but the arclancers continued their fire and there was still one soldier left. Then, I heard Hawkclaw slide into me, summoning the healing powers of Landra, he flooded me with energy. My breath caught, as pain returned. But I was alive.

I staggered up, throwing everything I had into a last blow, catching the soldier and bringing him down, but Alfred and Gendarre were riddled with fire from the arclances, and both were down. I ducked behind the mast, turned to Hawksclaw, pointing to the enemy ship and commanded, “Put a hole in that bastard.”

With a nod, Hawksclaw stepped up, summoning his remaining power and slammed a stream of seawater so hard at the weakened prow that he buckled the hull planking. Instantly, the sea began to stream in. At that moment, the sailors who had been furiously hacking at the shattered mast finally cut it free, sending it crashing to the sea.

The captain shouted for all hands to the rigging and with a spin of the wheel, our craft pulled away from the now crippled Prelacy raider. Undaunted, the arclancers fired another volley, but failed to strike anyone. The last I saw of that blasted ship was it slowly fading away into the fog.

With the battle over, Saris freed himself from bondage and with Flit and Hawksclaw, managed to heal everyone on board. Miraculously, we lost no one, but I fear the long term injuries from this fight may plague me for the rest of my life. I can already feel the dull ache in my chest.

From that point to now, our trip has been slower, but without further incident. We assisted the crew in clearing away the wreckage and repairing what we can. Tomorrow, on the 4th of Festival Moons, we will arrive in Eastport. Light let it be done. Let our return trip be restful and let me get my people home safe.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

At sea, one day from Eastport

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Campaign Report 20
Kythros at Last

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Kythros, Wildlands

Twenty third Day, Thunder Hawk, Year 3123 Under the Light

I had intended to spend an evening of rest following our successful recapture of the Prelacy Captain. Oh, the hubris of man. No sooner had I begun to remove my charred and stained armor when a Raven appeared at my window. Taking the message from its scroll case, I read, but did not comprehend.

Reinforcements had been called to the North. The Unchained were on the move and Rildrirr had been chosen by name to assist. Wearily, I summoned the massive warrior and presented his new orders. He was to take his mount and a spare and make for all haste north to the location indicated on the map provided.

Eager to aid his fellow captives of the Kal, the young warrior very nearly sprinted away despite his fatigue. That chore dealt with, I attempted to regain some of the calm prior, but my mind churned and my rest was fitful at best. In frustration, I eventually simply rose and began minutia of command. Though it felt like I sat writing but a moment, I was soon aware of sunlight streaming through the open window.

Wearily, I rose to find if any of my Rangers were still awake. Alfred, who had drawn the evening watch, was with the captive. To him I gave the command that, upon shift change, he was to send Corporal Hawksclaw to my chambers. After this, I tried to rest a bit more, but failed utterly.

When Hawksclaw rapped at my chamber door, I was up again, reading intelligence reports and trying hard to remain awake. Once he had closed the door, I handed him the missive giving him time to read. His reaction mirrored my own, a mixture of shock and frustration, but he acted every bit the soldier he has become and said nothing. We discussed briefly our plan for moving the prisoner to the river. He and Longtail would act as forward scouts. The Aevakar would fly support, while all the other Rangers and men-at-arms would form the prison detail, I leading, Alfred bringing up the rear.

Once those details were handled, we spoke briefly about his new-found magical aptitude. My main concern was that he be able to control the abilities and use them wisely. Though I am not magically inclined myself, I know the power and danger that magic brings. He assured me that, though he was still learning, he would be able to utilize his new talents. To that effect, I offered him whatever resources he would need to further explore his new Druidic path. With that, I dismissed him to see to the men.

I, in turn, gathered my things and departed to the river. While exiting the alehouse, I noted that the Corporal was indeed rousing the men and briefing them on their day’s duties. Leaving the room, I went next door to retrieve my mount, Thunder. There I found that Hawksclaw had the foresight to send over a morning ale. He is becoming quite the adjutant, that one.

Taking my ale and horse, I road the short distance to the wharf. I confess, it took far longer than I would wish to find a suitable captain, one who seemed competent and sober. But, with perseverance, I found our skipper. A skipper by the name of Rallen. He agreed, for a King’s Ransom, to transport our little band down river on his barge. And, with bad grace, he consented to making two stops at Erirmar, to pick up our supplies and two Camonese guards, and then at Silverport to retrieve Gendarre and his two men from the infirmary there.

That piece of business concluded, I returned to my men, just as the sun rose above the trees. In good order, Corporal Hawkslcaw deployed the men. He and Longtail taking to the roofs. I found our prisoner, still shackled and in bad humors. His previous attempts being thwarted, I fear he finally realized that rescue was unlikely. Despite that, he hurled no abuse or obscenities at his captors. Merely complied with our orders and held his head high with pride.

Though I despise every for which they stand, this Prelacy Officer showed more grace and poise under captivity than many south-born man I have seen.

Despite the palatable tension as me moved through the every crowding streets, we arrived at the docks with nary an incident. We were then able to board quickly and orderly. And, with lines cast off, we were finally on our way down the Howling River toward Kythros. I must confess a sense of relief as the large, flat barge made the middle of the river and picked up momentum.

Sadly, as peaceable as the situation made me feel, I fear that the lack of action preyed upon Longtail who took her post atop the sole cabin at the rear of the barge, and just above the prisoners cell, a converted cabin. He mood seemed to darken as the hours ticked by. I know, though had never seen, the effect idleness has on her specie. I would not care to see it again.

Morning 15th, Thunder Hawk: Our first stop after a day of easy travel, as mentioned, was in Erirmar where Hawksclaw and Longtail were able to recover our supplies from the wagons where they had been stored at the local Livery. They also managed to roust the ex-camonese from the house of ill-repute they had established as their domicile. I confess, I am displeased with the manor at which they spend their gains from the Tempest events. However, the coin is theirs to do with as they please. As soon as our supplies and men were aboard, we cast off, an errand that took less than two hours to complete. After which, we shoved off again and made good time.

Afternoon 16th, Thunder Hawk: Our second stop, after about a day and a half was Silverport. There, again, Hawksclaw and Longtail entered the town to reclaim our wounded, Gendarre and his two men. The Corporal found them resting easy at the local infirmary and quickly secured their release. Within an hour, we were moving once again, down the river.

At this juncture I felt that poor Longtail’s punishment had lasted too long. Predicting this trip might wear on her, I took the precaution of bringing along specially made practice weapons. My initial intention was to have all the Rangers participate, but seeing as Rildrirr had departed, and Highwall was gone, the match fell to just Longtail and Hawksclaw.

Taking up the blunted weapons, my Rangers attacked each other with surprising fury. Both fighters relying on speed and precision created a near perfect balance. Longtail was, by far, the quicker of the two combatants, but Hawksclaws skill and experience showed. In the end, it was a lucky blow, and perhaps days of pent of irritation that decided the fight. With an incredible display of agility, Longtail tumbled past Hawksclaw’s defenses and brained him with her sword. He went down rather hard.

For her part, she merely sniffed and climbed back to her perch to brood.

Alfred and I helped Hawksclaw to a bench and were able to quickly recover him. However, we elected to postpone any further such exercises until Longtail we more fully recovered. And that was the single most exciting even which occurred during our trip down the river.

Early morning on the 22nd of Thunder Hawk, our little craft entered the Vas’Lok, the great lake north of Kythros. By afternoon of that same day, we finally arrived. At the docks, we met other Rangers who agreed to assist our party. In a short time, our gear had been loaded onto waiting carts, and with a rather sizable cavalcade, we made our way from the docks, to the city and finally to the Kythros Keep.

Even though I had been here once before, the sheer size and magnitude of the massive fortification still leaves me breathless. Everywhere we looked, warriors, mages and scouts, all wearing the green cloak of the Rangers milled about, each set about their specific tasks. It is easy to forget, so far away in Echer’Naught, how big our brotherhood really is.

Without delay, we were escorted to the dungeon area, more a goal than a dungeon. There, we turned over our prisoner to the Ranger authorities. And with that, our quest was done. If could feel a weight lift from my shoulders and I signed the transfer form and walked away.

Yet, delivering the prisoner was only the first of the reasons for travelling to Kythros. And, with limited time available, I elected to turn over the less critical errands to Corporal Hawksclaw while I attended meetings with the Ranger Command Staff. My orders were as follows:

A) Secure supplies list (included) from the Kythros quartermaster.
B) Secure payroll for Echer’Naught Ranger station from burser
C) Meet and recruit Farspeaker Adept, Eris Moonsilver, for duties at Echer’Naught outpost
D) Select and procure security “case” for Echer’Naught payroll

After completion of these duties, the team would be on leave until the morning of the 24th where we would meet at the southern most gate in the city for departure.

Once I was certain my orders would be carried out, I proceeded to the central headquarters for a series of intelligence briefings. I also received word from Echer’Naught about the building progress and the status of the town.

While, the exact details of the meetings are too sensitive to be recorded here, I will summarize the major threats facing the Southern Kingdoms.

Crimson Crusade.
It would appear that no sooner did my Rangers depart Echer’Naught with our prisoners, than the Prelacy of Camon launched a major attack toward the independent Kingdom of Jasara. I have read the rather disturbing reports, and understand most of what transpired. The net result is that we lost the towns of Branosh and Stoon, though we managed to retake and hold Sog. On the Eastern front, the Prelacy have been making demonstrations out of Branis and Krinura toward the Crystal Forest. I cannot say their ultimate aim.

However, after long discussion, I intend to establish a supply base and field infirmary halfway between Tarnn and Stagg and about the same distance south of Thuls. I have been given permission and support. My first task upon my return will be to lead an expedition in that direction.

Deathly Machines
In addition, my friends from the Korg apparently did depart their home shortly after my leaving. They set out on an expedition to determine the truth behind the rumors of “deathly machines” strange amalgamations of Arcfire technology and necromancy. Disturbingly, but unsurprisingly, the rumors are true. How even the Church of Archanon could so sully themselves with such abominations… More and more horrors from the factories and laboratories of the Builders.

Is there no debasement to which these red skinned devils will stoop?!

Unchained
And, of course, the Unchained are on the move. There are rumors out of Essal’s Keep that open rebellion is in full swing. No doubt, Rildrirr will be right in the thick of the action.

Out of the Elven woods, I discover disturbing rumors. Tension between Stahlheim and the Elves. Suspicion the Elves may have been responsible for the Tempest. As absurd as that may be, but rumors are oft immune to rational sense.

Blood Witch
However, rumors of an entity known as the Blood Witch are far more disturbing. Apparently, this creature has been successful at corrupting even the deepest magical Loci and the druidic guardians who protect them. In addition, this new threat comes with its own unique threats: something recently being known as “leechmen” and a new strain of zombie. Perhaps worse.

With this new threat so close to my area of operation, I must be ever more vigilante.

If this were not sufficient, Tempest creatures still appear at random and now creatures of Darkness have been spotted in and around Echer’Naught.

It seems as if we are beset on all sides by our enemies. Just when we have one foe defeated, two more rear their ugly heads.

Nevertheless, my installation as Regional Commander has been formalized. With the new authority, command has seen fit to increase my operational budget and my staff as well. This included my new Farspeaker Adept. Though, admittedly, command was non-plussed about my inclusion of former camonese bandits in my organization. However, I was able to assuage their fears.

Otherwise, I was briefed on the newest outposts, organizational changes and given a short, five minute briefing by Lord Commander Lady Valinda Norwood Grayson herself. I had never actually men the Lord Commander prior to this meeting. It was an honor. I found her to be everything her reputation suggests.

The rest of my time was spent recuperating with the best physicians and healers in the Ranger Corps.

From what I gathered of my men, their time was spent well.

Hawksclaw discovered the name of the man who killed his father. I know vengeance still burns in his breast. I hope that this quest will not sabotage his growing connection with Life.

As for Longtail, she has been reluctant to speak about her time. I know she discovered something of her past, and the man who cared for her. Beyond that, she will have to say, or not as she wills.

Young Alfred, apparently, quite enjoyed himself. I question Hawksclaws judgement in introducing him to vice at such a young age. However, as a warrior and a Ranger, if he stands the watch of a man, he deserves to be treated as one.

And with that, our short, but restive time here in Kythros is completed. I reserved only my last night for myself. I find the view of the lake from the walls of the keep to be enchanting. As a soldier, I cherish moments of reflection such as this. They are far too rare in this world.

Tomorrow, the 24th of Thunder Hawk, we will depart, refreshed and renewed. May Archanon see us home safe and swift.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Kythros, Wildlands

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Campaign Report 19
Howling River Ride

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Southgate, Wildlands

Thirteenth Day, Thunder Hawk, Year 3123 Under the Light

As I fight through the agony and pain, it occurs to me that we, and I, are in need of aid. It seems that all of my training, my years spent defending Olara from her enemies has ill prepared me to deal with our current threats. Red Store, or whatever this confederation of miscreants calls themselves, seems to be everywhere and no where at once. If I had but a target to strike, I could rid our lands of this scourge. But alas, for all my planning and care, it was by the barest margin and the true heroism of my Rangers that the Prelacy Captain was recaptured for what I pray is the final time.

As per my report of the sixth, no sooner had our wounded been tended to and loaded onto the wagons, I sent Ranger 1st Class Aradove Longtail with Alfred Ranger along the road to Erimar in hopes of cutting off any avenue of escape in that direction. I ordered to of our men to remain with the wagons and see them safely to Erimar. With Gendarre and the remaining two of his men, along with Ranger Rildrirr, and Corporal Hawkslcaw, I entered the woods under growing dark to track the villain to his hole.

For my part, I can speak accurately as to the events which transpired. What happened to Longtail and Alfred, I must rely on their report to me at the conclusion of the events.

Our party entered the woods following the Prelacy Captain, Hawksclaw scouting ahead, acting as our eyes and ears. We traveled in relative silence, Gendarre, his men and Hawksclaw on foot, I and Rildrirr road behind for the long hours of the night. Never once did we see of our quarry save for the barest tell-tail signs left in the soft earth beneath the bower of trees and the cloven hoof prints of the last remaining Thratchen which appeared to our minds to be leading the Captain to some destination. Like an arrow to the heart of a buck, Corporal Hawksclaw led us unerringly to our mark.

We arrived just outside what appeared to be a small encampment less than a quarter hour before the rising dawn. Here, Hawksclaw paused to survey the scene, when he spied a dark, cloaked figure flitting through the trees. It happened so swiftly that all we had time to do was to dismount and gird ourselves for battle. For in the next moment, the encampment exploded into action.

Five armed me with the look of Kal in their features formed a line of battle and began to approach, swords at the ready. Behind them, that strange, hooded and cloaked man notched arrow to bow and took aim. But most disheartening was the sight of a flame acolyte, bursting into flames and rising into the air above the field of war.

In response, I formed my men into line. Rildrirr to my right, Gendarre to his right and Gendarre’s man on the extreme right flank. As our scout, Hawksclaw found himself out front between the colliding forces, while our final crossbowman remained in the rear, taking aim as the onrushing men.

Unbeknownst to us, at very nearly this same moment, Longtail found herself arriving in Erimar, in the pre-dawn hour. She ordered Alfred to find the local Rangers and deliver my report, as well as, inform them of our situation while she headed to the wharves to prevent the captain’s escape. For the next 30 minutes, she went from wharf-front to wharf-front seeking out any who might know of the Captain’s plans, or of anyone planning to leave by water.

At moments before first light, just as the heavy fog rolling in from the river bank. As she slowed to assess the situation, she heard the scuff of boots behind her and glanced back to see two more armed figures closing off any escape. Alone and surrounded, Longtail slowly drew her blades and waited for the attack to come. She did not wait long.

Back in the woods, our situation heated quickly. Hawksclaw nearly took an arrow to the left eye, the arrowhead slicing open the side of his head from his eye-socket to his ear. I surged forward, running to his aide, Rildrirr with me. A heartbeat later, Gendarre and his man joined us. But in that moment, the Acolyte attacked. Summoning fire into a swirling maelstrom in his raised hands, he hurled it as us like a bomb. It exploded in our faces, bathing us in searing fire and nearly knocking us off our feet.

Hawksclaw fired into the Acolyte, striking him high in the left chest, but the man just cackled manically, the fire wreathing his body burning away the shaft, starting with the fletching.

On the streets of Erimar, Longtail’s battle was going about as well. She managed to fend off the first three attackers, deflecting two his her twin swords, and the last, a quick save from her bracers, but the fourth man buried his boarding ax deep in her side. Were it not for her armor, she would surely be dead. Her counter strike was brilliant, taking one of her assailants in the stomach and dropping him to the sandy street in a pool of his own blood.

In our confrontation, the twin lines of melee warriors finally clashed in a cacophonous ring of sword on shield. I slashed, but was deflected aside by a well timed shield. To my right, Rildrirr and Gendarre’s footman quickly cut down two of the Kal-a-Nar foot soldiers. And that is when the Thratchen appeared in a puff of sulfurous gas, slicing into Hawksclaw who was at that moment being pressed by two Kal warriors with nothing but his bow. Still, he fired another shot at the Acolyte, doing less damage that previous.

Calling upon the name of Archanon, I prayed for his strength and guidance and was blessed as power surged through my men, raising them to new heights of martial skill. I only hoped that it would be sufficient.

Longtail had no such aid in her desperate struggle. Again they struck and again she deflected all but the last, who struck the same spot, chopping at her like a tree. This time, her armor split and the ax head bit into flesh. All seemed lost, but at that moment, Ranger Longtail received a different kind of intervention. Preceded only by the thunder of hooves in the mist, Alfred astride his mount, cantered past, his spear flashing in the morning light severing a man’s head from his body. Two down, two remained.

Around me, the woods began to burn as heat rolled of the acolyte in scorching waves. Green leaves blackened and withered on the branch as he floated closer. Again an orb of roiling fire appeared in his hands and again he lobbed it at us. It struck very nearly at my feet. I felt the intense head fuse skin to metal as I began to cook in my armor. Beside me, my Rangers flinched a step back. Hawksclaw continued to fire, even as the Kal soldiers hacked and stabbed at him. The enemy archer changed tack and loosed an arrow at Rilrirr nearly taking out his eye, but only clipped the top of his right ear. I doubt the big warrior even noticed.

He and the footman surged behind me, falling on the Kal surrounding Corporal Hawksclaw and cutting them to ribbons. For my part, I finally dropped the man facing me, and for a moment considered the tide to be turning. I was wrong.

Rildrirr’s shout alerted me to a figure disappearing through the woods at a high rate of speed. It was the Prelacy Captain on a fast horse and putting distance between us with each moment that passed. And then all was clear. Again, the mercenaries and childer were nothing but a distraction, paid for by the Prelacy and orchestrated by Red Store. We could win the battle, to be sure, but in doing so, we would likely fail our mission.

To the Abyss with Red Store, the Prelacy and all!

With a curse, I stepped back, shouting to Corporal Hawksclaw to get Rildrirr, and the crossbowman and fall back to the horses. I would hold the line with the footman and Gendarre. I had a plan. Not a good plan, but a plan.

Without hesitation, Hawksclaw pulled our men back. To my surprise, the North-man followed without objection. I half feared he would resist retreating in the face of Flame, but he followed orders and in moments, they were halfway to the horses. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, and the Acolyte opened fire again.

I never saw it coming, just felt the sudden rise in temperature as the missile engulfed us. Gendarre took it bad, his man, worse. And in that instant, my holding action crumbled. We only need to hold the line for a few moments to give the others time to saddle and prepare to move, but I was out of time.

Taking a deep breath, and reaching down deep into that reservoir of strength that I first when meeting the Silver Unicorn, I envisioned my men, burning around me, envisioned the horror that the Prelacy would wreak upon the Southern Kingdoms if the Captain escaped. And then I envisioned another future, one where I stood with my men beside our horses, ahead of the flames. I reached down, grabbing Gendarre and the footman by the shoulders and I took a step backwards…

Even with Alfred’s help, Longtail was tired from a night of running and outnumbered. Again and again they slashed and each time she parried a little slower. Alfred, for his part, made pass after pass, but them men were wise to him now and would duck under his blow each time he rode through. It was just a matter of time before one of them landed a lucky blow.

And they did. Longtail screamed and Alfred spun, lowering his spear, he charged, but this time right for the melee. The second man ducked again, but Alread drove his spear down, punching through the man clean into the ground, pinning him their like some insect on a board.

Rolling with the momentum as Hawksclaw had instructed, Alfred kicked free of the stirrups and landed beside Longtail just as the ax-man raised his weapon for the killing blow. Jerking his spear from the dirt and ripping it free from the man’s body, Alfred spun and rammed it two handed into the man’s back. It burst a full five inches from his chest, nearly stabbing Longtail in the face. And with that, the battle of Erimar was over, but the fight against the Prelacy Captain has barely begun.

Breathing heavily, both Rangers took stock of the situation, Alfred guarding while Longtail searched the bodies finding familiar signs of Red Store. So, they were already ahead of our party and clearing the way for the Captain. If we did not hurry, he would have escaped.

They were just turning to leave when voice rang out in the silence. A local boat captain had heard the ruckus and come to investigate. Seeing the Ranger’s in battle he wisely chose not to interfere, but, with a bit of prompting, revealed that no-one had been through the town seeking passage that morning. But, should someone wish to CROSS the river, they would head to the south ferry.

Thanking him, and tossing some gold for his troubles, both Longtail and Alfred made all speed south of town.

If I never experience a Tempest Portal, Flame Cauldron or sorcererous teleport again I shall count my days fortunate ones. And yet, as before during the battle north of Korg, the Silver Unicorn heard my plea and granted me and those I vowed to protect her reprieve.

…I stepped back and found myself standing beside my horse with Gendarre and his man unconscious at my feet. Rushing toward me, I saw the looks of shock and surprise on Hawksclaw’s face to see his Colonel appear as if from thin air. I would have taken a moment to explain, but was momentarily overwhelmed by the sudden and debilitation lethargy that slammed into me.

Perhaps it is simply because teleportation is such a violation of nature’s laws, or perhaps it is a reflection of the energy it would take to make the same trip by normal means. Whatever the case, during both of the only two times I have ever attempted something akin to this, I found myself suddenly sapped of all strength barely able to stand.

As I knelt on the ground, coughing and trying to regain my balance, Hawksclaw, Rildrirr and the crossbowman scrambled up the ridge and joined me. Despite his obvious confusion, my corporal wasted no time on meaningless inquiry. Instead, he leaped into the saddle, preparing to ride.

I ordered that he and Rildrirr take the wounded soldier and uninjured crossbowman and track the Captain. I would take Gendarre and try and distract the Acolyte long enough for them to get a head start. To his credit, Hawksclaw simply nodded and ordered the others to ride out.

As I watched them disappear into the trees, I considered many things. I knew that in my condition, alone and facing the Thratchen, the enemy Rover and the Flame Acolyte I was almost certainly doomed. But I was aware of things that they were not. Even if they managed to kill me, that would give my men the time they needed to apprehend the Prelacy agent. A turn of the tables as it were. And I knew that I was not alone for I had with me Archanon, Ascended of Light and the blessings of the Silver Unicorn.

Sliding my father’s blade into the sheath hanging from my horses saddle, I drew my elven blade and shield. Gendarre still breathed, so I jammed a bottle of healing potion between his lip and upended the contents down his gullet. He sputtered and coughed but regained some life. With my help, he managed to climb into the saddle.

With my man secure, I turned and put distance between myself and Thunder. Above me, the sky turned red and black as the Acolyte drifted into range. I have yet to see one of these grandstanding fire slingers move with any speed in the air. Through the trees, I saw the shadows of the Rover and the Thratchen moving toward me.

I had banked on the idea that alone, I would make a tempting target for a mass attack. For once that day, I was right. They came at once, the Thratchen popping into existence behind me, the Rover firing and the Acolyte immolating me with fire. Calling on Archanon once more, I asked for his light to surround me in holy power.

Archanon’s light met Ceynara’s fire in an explosion of energy. I threw up my shield, deflecting the Rover’s arrow aside and I slashed at the dazed Thratchen, catching him in the chest and cleaving his head from his shoulders. And then, I ran.

With the Acolyte raining flames down on me, and the forest burning around me, I put spur to flank and pushed Thunder hard. Fast enough that neither the Flame spawn or the demented woodsman could catch me. And with the Thratchen gone, there was little they could do to stop my Rangers.

By the time I reached the Howling river, Hawksclaw’s team was already there, standing frustrated on the near side of the river as the ferry boat was just washing up on the far shore. At first I was confused, for it seemed that the boat and broken free of its guide rope. But, when I reached the sandy shore I saw Longtail rising, drenched from the river, a fierce expression on her face.

Apparently, when Hawksclaw arrived, the Captain was already half-way across the river on the ferry. Longtail arrived moments later and immediately began climbing across the rope after in the frigid water. Realizing the threat, the Captain had cut the line at the boat, dropping Longtail into the river and un-mooring his craft. Fortunately for the Captain, but unfortunately for my men, he managed to tie off the boat and hold on until it beached on the far shore.

The ferry master was foolish enough to confront the Captain and lost his head for his troubles. By the time I arrived reached the shore, the Captain was gone and Longtail was naked, though I did not notice until much later so pained I was from my wounds.

Our luck did change when the same helpful riverboat Captain from Erimar appeared and agreed to ferry us across the river on his boat. I imagine that our naked Brinchie might have had something to do with his willingness but at that moment I really did not care about the reasons. Once across, I left my wounded on the boat and asked him to drop them at Silverport for treatment. Then, with what remained of my command, we continued on, but I knew we were in no shape for another protracted battle.

So, I sent Corporal Hawkslcaw, Rildrirr, Alfred and the crossbowman north to Southgate for remounts and reinforcements, while I continued on with Longtail who gamely kept up. I honestly do not remember a great deal from those three days, only that I kept in the saddle only virtue of the pain preventing sleep.

On the grasslands somewhere between Stagg and Crystara, the two groups met in sight of the Captain. It was a rough ride, but along with the three new recruits Hawksclaw acquired in Southgate, we managed to close on the fatigued Captain. And it was again the Northman Rildrirr who finally rode the Captain down and nearly cut him in half.

And with that, the chase and recapture was done, save for Hawksclaw re-treating his wounds enough to get him safely to Southgate.

Our return to Southgate was at a much more leisurely pace. All in all, the efforts to recapture the Captain took six long, arduous days. Encountering the Flame camp on the 7th, we crossed the Howling river and Hawksclaw reached Southgate by 1PM on the 9th. After another day’s ride north, and then two and half days back to Southgate, we arrived, late, and exhausted on the 13th of Eternal Sun.

A friendly local sheriff agreed to take temporary custody of the prisoner, though I made sure to assign two of the new Rangers, the Alakar and the Brinchie to keep a close watch over the night. My men objected. They feel responsible for his escape and anger at the pain it caused, but no one, save perhaps Rildrirr is in any condition to watch the man. I’m not sure if Rildrirr might accidentally “misinterpret” act on the part of the Captain and finish what he started.

After a long bath, some medicinal herbs and long night’s rest in an actual bed, I intend to start in the morning after I am able to secure a river boat for the rest of the trip to Kythros. My plan is to stop first at Erimar to pick up the two men left guarding the wagon and then continue on to Silverport and collect my wounded if they are able to travel. I also intend to continue to untilize the services of the Aevakar, Alakar and Brinchie Rangers from Southgate, though I will try and actually learn their names in the morning. There must also be the conversation with Hawksclaw about his recent magical incidents, but that can wait also.

Though I am happy to have secured the prisoner, I feel responsible for failing to predict Red Store’s attack. Or at least to properly prepare. I fear I may be ill equipped for this form of warfare. At the very least, we MUST re-evaluate our current strategy in dealing with this cult and find a way to more effectively combat them.

This is just ONE of the issues I intend to discuss with command once I reach the city. Nevertheless, my men are safe, or at least healing and our prisoner is under guard. I pray to Archanon that our trip will be smooth sailing from here on in.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Southgate, Wildlands

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Campaign Report 18
Journey to Kythros Begins

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Kator-Erimar Road, Wildlands

Sixth Day, Thunder Hawk, Year 3123 Under the Light

The best laid plans often go awry; ever more so when Red Store becomes involved. The Twelfth of Eternal Sun began brightly, as my Rangers took a cherished moment to conduct their own business that had long been overdue. The only dark spot was being informed that Ranger 1st Class Gate Highwall was to leave out company. Though he gave no specifics, situations at home precipitated his departure.

Before he left, he did inform me about the situation of sabotaged ore being sold to the town Blacksmith YoHann Smith. As Highwall explained, since sometime last winter strangely modified metal ore had been showing up at the smith’s shop. What was unique about the ore was that it had all the appearances of being pure, but only showed its true insidious nature during the final quenching process when it became suddenly brittle.

I was later to discover from investigations via Longtail and Hawksclaw that most, if not all, of this tampered metal was being sold to the Town Watch and other civic security forces. Regardless, Highwall assured me that the smith was wholly unaware of the situation and that he, Highwall, had just begun his investigation when he was recalled. In the future, this investigation will be turned over to my remaining rangers to continue.

From this point until his sudden departure on the night of the 14th of Eternal Sun, Highwall spent his last few days in our company making preparations and tying up loose ends. His loss will be sorely felt by the entire company. Nevertheless, his revelations about the ore, and his burgeoning investigation, I feel will be critical to the future success of our war with the inimical forces within the walls of Echer’Naught and beyond.

In brief, I will attempt to account for the activities of my other Rangers during the three days to our departure from Echer’Naught.

Ranger Rildrirr:
After assuming the cloak of the Rangers, Rildrirr has spent time familiarizing himself with his surroundings and getting to know the other Rangers. Most unusual, on the morning of the 13th, Rildrirr request that Hawksclaw accompany him to the Red Lamp. From what little I could glean from this event, Rildrirr satisfied his curiosity, but I am unsure whether he fully realized precisely what the Red Lamp represented or what exactly one does in that establishment.

After this event, Rildrirr spent his time among the farmers north of the town, working in the fields and representing the Ranger’s willingness to work for the greater good. Thought he still seems reluctant to communicate, I feel that he is growing as a person and a Ranger. One can only hope that he will soon consider his fellows as friends, not just allies.

Ranger 1st Class Aradove Longtail:
Early on the twelfth, Ranger Longtail entered my office and requested two days leave to visit the young child she saved during our encounter with the ShadowBoar. Without hesitation, I gave my consent. With that, Longtail left and did not return until mid day on the 14th.

Upon her return, she informed me that she was successful in finding the child, but that the Eckhart castle was girded for war. In response to the death and destruction of the Storms, young Lord Eckhart called his serfs to his castle and divided them into work gangs. Through organization, and harsh discipline, the serfs of the Eckhart lands have been successful in farming their lands even in the absence of draft animals and many tools.

However, she warned that, while this was necessary to survive the current crisis, it also showed a cruel and sadistic streak in the young noble. One that she felt we, as Rangers, have need to keep in mind. Nevertheless, she also learned that goblinesh in the Wildlands south of Olara appeared to be engaged in an open war. Already, human settlements had been destroyed by roving goblinesh. They had also attacked the road project beginning in Farwatch and Greenvale. This information corroborates intelligence I had gathered from other ranger reports.

After delivering her report, I request that she prepare herself to accompany me to a Merchant Counsel meeting later that evening. Details I will explain later.

Ranger Corporal Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw:
On the morning of the 12th, Ranger Hawksclaw and I met to discuss the situations facing our outpost. The first and most pressing, of course, was the departure of Highwall. With his absence, Hawksclaw himself would be required to take on additional duties. Hawksclaw also provided me the preliminary real-estate reports for the properties he had been scouting on my behalf. With his endorsement, I requested that he arrange a viewing of the smallest property listed. Following that, we discussed the possibility of sabotage in reference to JoHann smith and the ore.

I ordered Hawksclaw to speak with Longtail who, from Highwall, I knew was involved in assisting his investigation. Pertaining to this, I instructed Hawksclaw to meet with Sergeant Vasser and ascertain whether their was any truth to the reports of tampered weapons and armor. With that, he departed.

I know that he met with Sergeant Vasser later that morning, but was unable to confirm or deny the reports. So far as the Sergeant was aware, the materials supplied to the Watch met standards, but he promised to have his men conduct a thorough check of all their equipment. Moving on, Hawksclaw headed to CenterPointe and TownHall to schedule a viewing for our newest acquisition.

Apparently, he was expected and quickly secured a viewing for the following morning. Following the meeting, he took some personal time to visit the Autumn Spring and maintain his relationships. I take it from his depressed nature on his return that he was less than successful in his endeavors. I shall speak with him about it in the future.

On the following morning, the 13th, Hawksclaw and I departed for Beacon Hill and we met the civil servant who happily showed me around the property Hawksslaw had scouted; an 7-bedroom manor house with full kitchen, living room, office, garden and stables. Each bedroom, the kitchen, and the common room all contained their own fireplaces. In addition, the house was plumbed with advanced dwarven technology.

We spent nearly two hours surveying the house and grounds. In all, I found it exemplary. With the price point so low, I was easily able to secure the mark. And, with the house being nearly fully furnished, I will be able to begin the move within the next few days. It is an unusual feeling to own a home.

After our meet, I accompanied Hawksclaw to speak with the Lord Mayor. Ever since our recent rise in celebrity status, we had been afforded the royal treatment when visiting the Mayoral Manse. We were escorted to a waiting room where wine and refreshments were offered. As we waited, I noted young Lord Raben Clau exiting an audience with the Lord Mayor.

In a moment, the manservant collected us and we presented ourselves before the Lord Mayor. Per usual, Von Haber was in his office working. I reported to him our progress with post Tempest clean-up. I also informed him regarding the various building projects beginning around town: A) the Farwatch Road, B) the Warefarer’s Rest, and C) Longtail’s Orphanage. Without the approval of the Lord Mayor’s office, any project would be doomed. However, I had faith that he would support our efforts, if nothing else the added tax income the trade would bring.

Once my presentation had been completed, I turned the floor over to Hawksclaw. Apparently, my Corporal had been busy working on ways to repair the somewhat damaged relationship between the Rangers and the Town Watch. What Hawksclaw proposed was to host a benefit and recruitment drive in honor of the Town Watch. Though unusual, the Lord Mayor approved the plan and promised his support for the endeavor upon our return from our planned trip to Kythros.

Once dismissed, I sent Hawksclaw back to the outpost while I took a ride through town, getting a sense of the mood and the people. As I understand it, upon returning to the outpost, Hawksclaw received the strange request from Rildrirr to visit the Red Lamp. Neither man has been forthcoming.

I returned later that evening and explained to Hawksclaw that I planned to move the prisoner within the next three days, a fact I ommitted from my official reports to the Lord Mayor and Kythros. My plan was to leave our departure date and the exact route a mystery. To that end, I had even floated the idea of departing to the West initially and ensured that all indications would remain that we would leave on the 16th and head West. None of which was true. I had hoped to throw Red Store off-balance and gain an advantage. All for naught. I left final preparations to Hawksclaw and Stormhammer while I completed reports and outlined the necessary plans for the expansion of the outpost in our absence.

The fourteenth were spent in mad preparations. Longtail returned to deliver her report. After which, she attended me as we made our plea before the assembled Merchant Guilds in their Guildhouse on Beacon Hill. She was inordinately helpful in swaying the counsel to approve and assist our various projects. In addition, she managed to secure a “bread tax” from the Bakers Guild toward alms for the poor.

After which allowed her some time to spend with Streetrunner. I believe that she and the Brinchie enforcer may have some romantic inclinations, though, as of yet, they have made no such declaration. And, of course, Highwall departed late on the 13th, so this day was busier as we adjusted to his loss.

Corporal Hawksclaw ensured that each Ranger was prepped and ready for a 2 week trip with supplies, gear and weapons. Stormhammer and Olgor made the arrangements for our wagons and supplies for the horses, prisoner and other details needing our attention. For the most part, I just helped out where I was able.

I did, however, take time to meet with Ivan Sokolov to give him the good news that approval for the Wayfarer’s Rest had been approved and that work would begin soon. I also spent some time in the morning meeting with Garok Mason about the road project, the orphanage, the Wayfarer’s Rest and expansion to the outpost. Later on, I sat down with Olgor and Stormhammer and went over in exacting detail my plans for the outpost during my absence.

First, despite my acquisition of new quarters, the outpost was sorely lacking in room for our growing numbers. In that vein, I instructed Stormhammer to oversee the addition of a second floor with dorm rooms and any other additions he should deem necessary. Second, I authorized them both to act in my stead regarding my new home, and the various projects. I stressed that they should liaise with Garok regarding the Road, Ivan Sokolav regarding the Wayfarer’s Rest, and High Priest Vallandrian with the Lord Mayor’s office regarding the orphanage. Third, Sergeant Major Stormhammer would be authorized to respond to all routine reports and communication. Any eyes only would either be held, if possible, or immediately forwarded to Kythros. Fourth, local security issues would be turned over to the Town Watch for the duration, though, given the nature of recent events, the Lord Mayor had agreed to lend support if needed.

For my part, I informed them of my intent to A) deliver obtain a more secure case for the payroll, B) hire, is possible, a member of the Farspeakers Guild, and C) acquire Ranger kits, cloaks, pins and unique gear.

By the evening of the 14th, all the preparation had been completed and plains laid. I saw no need to delay any further.

The Journey Begins

And so, in the wee hours of the morning of the 15th of Eternal Sun, I rose and rousted Corporal Hawksclaw instructing him to do the same for the other Rangers. Alfred I sent to Gendarre’s residence to bring him and his men. Unfortunately, Longtail had yet to return from her rendez-vous with Streetrunner.

I instructed Hawksclaw to tap Olgor. What he lacks in combat abilities, he more than makes up in useful skills and magic. While my Corporal assembled the men, I sent Stormhammer to the Chapel of Light with the wagon to retrieve our high value prisoner. My hope, again, was to move during the cover of darkness and avoid the eyes of Red Store. A pox upon them all.

Everything appeared to have begun without issue. The troops assembled, Longtail returned and within an hour, we were rumbling slowly through the streets of Echer’Naught. We reached the East Gate before official open, but by virtue of my new town key, I was able to open without incident.

By dawn, we were already out of sight of the town’s walls. From there our trip was routine for weeks. Taking the Greenway road East, we reached the city of Harken in 7 days arriving on the 21st of Eternal Sun. The last time I visited this city was during my travel to Echer’Naught when I initially took up my post. Since then, I had not had the opportunity to return, despite very much desiring to visit my sister.

Sadly, there was not time, as we remained only during the night and were gone by first light on the 22nd. From there, we turned southeast to Kator for 9 days, arriving on the 30th, just outside the town. Pausing only for the night, We rolled out before dawn, turning East and heading for Erimar. The trip should have been an easy 11 day trip to the port town. However, as I have alluded, the best laid plans often go awry.

We were rolling through a small copse of trees a day and a half short of Erimar, at dusk, when the attack happened. There was no warning, no chance for defense. Between one heartbeat and the next, they were there. A soft pop and the smell of sulfur the only evidence of their presence, that and the searing pain as their Blood Steel sword ripped through my side. I screamed in agony. From the rear of the column, I heard one of my men do the same.

My men reacted immediately, dropping from their horses and scanning the trees. I shouted for them to stand back to back and hold their ground. Thratchen. The very word chilled my heart. During the War of Flame, I had faced the beasts more than once, but never without casualties. Many casualties.

The popped in and out of existence, striking one man, then the next. Rildrirr moved into position behind me, the anger clear in the big warriors eyes. Longtail and Hawksclaw took up position. Alfred stayed with the prisoner, back pressed to the cage. Gendarre’s men tried to link up, but our leftmost crossbowman was cut down before anyone could reach him.

And there we stood in the growing dark, waiting for death to come. Pop. Longtial was stuck, she screamed. Pop pop. Gendarre’s man was struck, but remained on his feet. Another pop an Rildrirr took a swing. I could feel the power in the blow, but it was not enough.

Then the unthinkable happened. Pop. Their leader appeared out of no-where, driving his terrible blade through Hawksclaws groin. With a scream, the Corporal went down, blood pouring from his pants and boots. Now exposed, Longtail sprinted for the wagon and reached Alfred before she could be attacked.

It took everything I had to keep my eyes on the trees and not to seek signs of life in Hawksclaw. But I knew that would be fatal, so I held my ground, as did my Rangers. Pop. Another appeared behind me, Rildrirr struck it hard. Pop, Longtail got another, but they remained alive.

And then Hawksclaw stirred. I thought I saw a faint glow moving down his body. Perhaps his pixie friend. I know not. But before I could react, the Thratchen got to him first.

Out of the full night, the lead Thratchen popped into existence over the prostrate form of our Corporal, murder in his demonic eyes. And just as his black blades descended toward Hawkslcaw’s heart, I saw my Ranger’s swords tumble from his hands.

In that moment, I knew all was lost. Weakened from loss of blood, my man’s time was at an end. My mind raced, but I was forced to stand and watch him be butchered as he lay dying.

But Hawksclaw had other plans. Just as the poisoned tips reached him, the Alakar Rangers threw up his arms like he was warding off the blows and screamed Landra’s name. In the next moment, the world twisted as the Thratchen was nearly ripped apart by a thunderclap of wind which appeared from nowhere and very nearly hurled me off my feet.

I blinked the dust from my eyes and looked again to see Hawksclaw, eyes burning a deep green, rising to his feet, scooping blades into his hand. Twice now, my Corporal has shown potential. Could it be that Hawksclaw has power? But why would he hide this? His time with the Druidess Treesinger must have something to do with this. I will learn more.

But at the moment, all I could feel was relief, short lived as it was. Pop. The second Thratchen appeared, slashing again. Rildrirr got a piece, but it was Longtail who brought it down, her white silver blade flashing in the night.

And then there was silence, save for the sound of my heart pounding in my ears. I called for reports. All reported back, save for the downed soldier. Hawksclaw sprinted to his side and summoned his power, yet again. With a cough, the man rose, painfully, but he rose. We appeared to have survived the ordeal unscathed. A first, in my experience.

And that is when I heard Longtail’s cry. I looked…

My heart sank…

The prison cage was open…and empty.

Curse Flame and Darkness! Curse Red Store even more!

It seemed if hours had passed during the attack, but in truth it was no more than a few minutes. Long enough, however, for our enemies to reach the cage as we were distracted. That is why they took out one guard first, to open a hole in our defensive ring.

We were attacked by creatures of Darkness, who were sent by Red Store to free an agent of the Prelacy of Camon. That truth should terrify everyone at least as much as it does me. This is why I have so long warned about the rise of Red Store. While other enemies remain tied to their twisted paths, Red Store has allegiance only to greed and their own elevation.

All we need now would be for a few Shayakar to appear and we would be able to nicely round out the set.

I write this on the 6th day of Thunder Hawk. We are a day and a half West of Erimar and a key agent of the Prelacy with damning information is loose and in collusion with both Red Store and forces of Flame. We are in pursuit.

I will sent Longtail and Alfred ahead to Erimar to cut off any chance of escape via that avenue while the rest of us, sans wagons, track them. If I am correct, the Captain has more support nearby. It is not lost on me that he was freed at the closest possible point in our journey to the front lines with Camon.

How are they always one step ahead! Do we have a traitor? How is it possible. Only I knew our exact itinerary and I only revealed it on the morn we left. I suppose if they watched us, followed us, they would have time to plan, but the more we fight Red Store, the less sanguine I feel about our chances against them.

Nevertheless, I am penning this as quickly as I can, compiled from notes taken along the way and placing it in Longtail’s hands.

To all the Rangers in the region of Erimar, it is Thunder Hawk 6th. Be advised, the Prelacy Captain and his allies must be stopped.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Kator-Erimar Road, Wildlands

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Campaign Report 17
Royal Honors: A Key to the Town

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

Eleventh Day, Eternal Sun, Year 3123 Under the Light

My return on the eighth was as overwhelming as it was sweet. I could not honestly believe I had succeeded until the moment when I passed the threshold into the outpost. Only then did the weight of the last weeks truly come crashing down.

Begging, but not feigning fatigue, I excused myself to write reports while the events were fresh in my mind. Subsequently, I collated the backlog of reports and submitted a special report to command before finally taking a late dinner with my companions and then collapsing gratefully in my own cot.

The morning of the Ninth rose bright and hopeful and early. No fewer than two messengers waited outside the outposts chamber, as well as, a surprise guest. The first messenger was a summons from the Lord Mayor. It seemed a feast had been prepared in my honor and I was obligated to attend.

The guest, however, we a pleasant but entirely unexpected surprise. When Sarah answered the door, I had no idea who or what might be standing on the other side. Seeing an old friend was the furthest thing from my mind, but nevertheless, there stood Coramin.

Nine months ago, has it only been nine months, I entered what was to be my new command with two Hammerfell riders heading to their own new posting here in town. Along the way I happened upon a scene of destruction and death where a band of Flame spawn had attacked a caravan.

Included in that caravan was Coramin, a young, intelligent human sorcerer who volunteered to aid me in the subsequent rescue of a kidnapped girl and older alchemist. He was of incredible help during that crisis and upon our return to the town I broached the subject of having him join my new Ranger post. He declined for he was on his own quest and could not abandon it so easily.

Reluctantly, I bid farewell to another comrade in arms and honestly had no expectation of ever meeting him again. So, you could easily see how stunned I was to have him here. With gladness in my heart, I greeted him and welcomed him to my command, though I was curious what may have brought him to my door.

Apparently, he was still among the elves when the Storms struck. After Jubilation Day, many were curious as to what had transpired during the events which led to the end of the Storm. And, being a somewhat central figure, my name had been mentioned in rumor and tale. Coramin, deducing that the Wolfhaven in the reports was also his former comrade dispatched with utmost haste to my door.

And so, I invited Coramin and his elven assistant to break his fast with my Rangers. My first task, and one LONG overdue, was to promote Rildrirr to full Ranger status and present him the cloak and pin. Following that brief ceremony, I proceeded to inform them what had actually transpired. I spoke for nearly an hour, answering their questions and also filling in a few gaps in my own information. At the end of which, I returned to my office to complete the administrative tasks still long overdue and to speak with any of the Rangers who required a personal audience with me.

No small number did so.

I will include here a brief summation of those interviews.

As always, Sergeant Major Stormhammer and Olgor both required my attention on matters pertaining to the post. My good scribe had an entire sheaf of reports, purchase orders and authorizations for me to sign. In addition, he expressed frustration in the lack of a secure safe in which to keep the payroll as our new expanded duties required out post to handle even greater fiscal responsibility. I promised to remedy this immediately. Stormahammer’s report was succinct and delivered in that typical Dwarven straightforwardness that is both honest and at times blunt. Our supplies were full, save for meat and other animal byproducts such as glue and sinew. All such products were at a premium. Regardless, we were in fairly good condition except for a sad lack of living space. With so many new bodies, we would either need to expand, or find a new base of operations. Taking this under advisement, I request he write a proposal for expansion, which he immediately produced, saluted and then departed my office.

First to speak with me was Coramin, unsurprisingly. He was somewhat evasive about on whose authority he had been sent, but I gathered his patron wished to be discreet about any involvement in “Olaran and Ranger” affairs. Nevertheless, Coramin’s interest was in the Storm and requested access to what information I and my Rangers had been able to collect during our months of battle. My first instinct was to immediately grant my old friend whatever access he might require, but caution stayed by tongue. I offered him access to any unclassified documentation with the understanding that I would have final authority over all information transmitted. Further, I explained that forces, in particular Red Store, had proven disturbingly adept at penetrating our security and so I wished to protect, not only the Rangers, but also his benefactor as well. He seemed to accept and understand the restrictions, though he was clearly not pleased. Furthermore, I offered, with Olgor’s approval, to give him access to the Storm Druid the Corporal had managed to capture. This sparked his interest deeply and he exited my chambers in a fair mood.

Next came Hawksclaw.

My Corporal’s inquires both endeared me and concerned me. It seemed, to him at least, that I had failed to utilize my skills and abilities to their fullest in service to the Rangers. In truth, since the War, I had never really given much thought to my lost Barony or the status that came with. Nevertheless, Hawksclaw pointed out that I had a duty to Olara, the Rangers and to my family to uphold the Wolfhaven name. And so far, according to him, I had failed to do so. In retrospect, I am forced to agree. He went on to propose that I take a first, small step toward reclaiming my family prestige by purchasing a house in town. Specifically, he suggested that I purchase a house in High Towne. With all of my duties, I hardly have time to eat let alone search for a house, so I put Hawksclaw in charge of the committee and empowered him to carry out this task in my name. He seemed pleased and in truth, my removal from the outpost would free up more space and begin to answer Stormhammer’s concerns. So, in all, I feel this is a positive direction. Taking a final moment to, again, congratulate Hawksclaw on his previous command performance during my absence, I dismissed him.

No sooner had Hawksclaw departed, when Longtail entered my office.

Sitting quietly, the young Brinchie brought to my attention a number of issues facing Echer’Naught and the surrounding areas of which I was aware, but had not been able to spend any time addressing. First, the War of Flame, followed by the Tempest had wrought destruction across the land turning many children into orphans. It was an issue that many of the civic authorities were aware, but none seemed inclined to address given the many other overwhelming concerns. However, ever faithful, Longtail proposed the idea of creating an orphanage, something truly lacking in town. I wholeheartedly endorsed the idea and promised to speak with the proper authorities on her behalf. Longtail went on to explain that another issue facing the peasant and merchants were a lack of tools and farming stock. She explained that on her rounds, she discovered many farmers unable to even harvest the bumper crop and feared that much of the valuable food might be lost due to lack of necessary equipment. For at least one small area, she had asked that a list of needed supplies be sent to the outpost. In truth, I do not know if we can save them all, but for the sake of my Ranger, I will do whatever I can. Then she expressed an issue of which I was totally unaware. It appeared that our younger staff had entered those heady teenage years and their passions were rising. According to Longtail, a difficult dynamic was developing among Alfred, Sarah and perhaps even Erik, the Schenkle baker boy. As Alfred was under Hawksclaw’s tutelage and Sarah hers, I will leave it to my Rangers to deal with, for now. And finally, Longtail broached her most deeply held topic. I will say no more here than she asked after the “family planning” arrangements among the Rangers. I expressed that should she choose to start a family that we would, of course, support her as best we could. However, the outpost was a poor place to raise children. She understood and thanked me.

After Longtail departed, Highwall clomped in and spoke.

My faithful dwarf reported that his mandatory service to the Smith in town was concluded, but that during his time there he had discovered that the ore being sold to the Smith was intentionally inferior. Whoever was behind the plot had gone so far as to create an ore that easily passed first inspection. In fact, it was not until the tempering process that its insidious nature was revealed. More horrific was the fact that JoHann Smith was the primary supplier to the Town Watch. Just yesterday during his long report, Hawksclaw informed me that nearly two dozen Watchmen had been slain in a single season and that accounted for nearly a quarter of their available manpower. The implications were staggering. I immediately ordered Highwall to take charge of the investigation and put whatever resources that he might need at his disposal. In addition, I offered him a new position within the outpost structure. While both Olgor and Stormhammer had executed their duties without flaw, both Rangers are long in tooth and at some point would have need to retire. As Highwall had shown an affinity for weapon maintenance and a thirst for knowledge, I offered him the position of adjunct to my support staff, to learn their duties and be prepared to take over in case of need. In his typical fashion, he considered it a long moment before agreeing. I have no doubt he will attack his new duties with the same determination with which he approaches everything. After his meeting with me, he proceeded to the forge on some project of Hawksclaw’s. I noted 12 iron spikes, for what, I cannot say. However, I trust my Rangers to know their duties.

Unsurprisingly, Rildrirr did not require an audience, though I noted that he and Stormhammer took some time to speak. It would appear that Rildrirr’s request for magical enhancement to his sword were approved. He seems to be fitting in quite well.

I also spoke with Sarah and Alfred. Both seemed pleased with their duties so far. Sarah has even begun asking questions about the Rangers specific to what duties and positions might be available. I believe Longtail his having a profound influence on the girl. I hope that she chooses to use that power wisely. Alfred, for his part, has begun asking less about the Rangers, and more about the possibility of acting as my Squire in future endeavors. I confess a certain reluctance to encourage the lad. While I have a name, and knighthood, my standing among the nobility of Olara is rather tenuous. Regardless, I will speak with Hawksclaw for guidance. If am to truly conduct myself as a noble, then I will certainly have an opening in that position.

And, I took some time to speak with our guest. Clearly her mind is addled by the effects of the Tempest god. Yet, I see some spark returning. As I explained to Coramin, I have heard rumors and read reports suggesting that some of the Druids retained their connection to the Tempest without suffering the ill effects of the Tempest god’s corruption. Sadly, the Mages were all lost causes, but not all druids. I am certain Coramin will be happy to investigate this. My orders to the Rangers stand. Until the allegiance of Storm Druids can be ascertained, they are not to be treated as enemies. I will not resort to the unilateral tactics of the Prelacy, even if I find that my exposure to that alien realm has now tied me forever to the power of Storm. I can feel her and the Storm within her. Time will tell if my decisions are wise.

These private audiences completed, I went about the tasks of attaining some personal and professional order in my life. So many things to be done, so little time.

First I drafted letters to the town planning commission and the merchant’s council to request meetings to discuss construction plans of: Ivan Sokolov’s “Wayfarer’s Rest” project, a new road project connecting Farwatch and Echer’Naught, and, of course, Longtail’s orphanage. These were sent off immediately.

Secondly, I approached Celebor with Grek’s request to join him on his long recon of the Prelacy’s southern push. In an odd way, I feel that they will be an unlikely, but strong team. Amused, and without much comment, Celebor agreed and I believe that they have already departed in the direction of Harken. Though with those two, I will never be certain. In any event, no matter where they roam, they will find a home here.

My last task before finally succumbing to sleep was to sit with Olgor and record and file all of the information gathered on the Tempest, Red Store operations, the Crimson Crusade and even the increasing reports of Shaya’Nor forces. Also, I have begun quite preparations to transport the Prelacy captain south to either the Korg or Kythros. And, I also drafted a quiet inquiry into the health of the Prelacy Paladin that assisted my Rangers in their efforts to capture the Captain.

Morning of the 10th. Preparations for today’s festivities began long before sunrise. I spent time polishing and buffing my plate, chain and accouterments, brushing out my cloak and hot pressing my uniform. Though I loath such functions, by training I treat them with great respect.

At the appointed hour, I departed, turning command over to Corporal Hawksclaw. Mounting up, I road across town just as shops began to open and the streets fill. Something about the normal morning routine, the sounds of the criers espousing wares, the ring of hammer on metal and the clop clop of many horses, mules and oxen filled my heart with satisfaction.

For these, after months of long nights and constant worry, they were now able to go about their lives in relative bliss. Seeing their happiness and industry was a balm to my troubled soul. It was, for me, vindication for my trials and proof apparent for the Ranger Cause.

Taking a right, I passed between the Royal Guards standing, as ever, before the gate of High Towne and Beacon Hill. High above, Ravens and Pigeons circled the tower, riding the eddies and currents. As I rode, I noted not a few of the nobles and merchant lords making their own way toward the crest of the hill and the Mayoral Manse. A few even greeted me as a passed.

Coming to the Manse I was greeted by a Royal envoy, grooms standing by to take my horse. Heading inside I was greeted in the main hallway by Lord Mayor Von Haber himself. I confess I was surprised at the Royal treatment. Bidding that I join him, we passed through the hall into the inner courtyard where I found the settings for a grande feast.

Apparently, word of my arrival had reached the Lord Mayor and preparations for this event had been in progress for days. Officially, Jubilation Day as it was to be known would be celebrated on the 16th of Red Wolf henceforth. However, the Lord Mayor felt that it would be inappropriate to have the event without the guest of honor, which I took to mean myself.

Awkwardly, but with all the grace I possessed, I thanked him for his kindness but tried to extricate myself. I explained that the efforts were larger thanks to others, such as Grek and Ivan Sokolov. My Rangers, themselves, were due greater honors. Lord Mayor Heinrich Von Haber listened attentively to my protests and dismissed them entirely.

I was directed to a dressing chamber where a man-servant settled a red sash over my uniform and then waited to be announced. I had not long to wait. Within the hour, I was bade to come forth and entered the courtyard, now filled with Lords and Ladies, Merchants and Dignitaries. Announced by my full title, I was directed to sit beside the Lord Mayor.

Then, moments later, my Rangers arrived, one by one. Upon entering, they appeared just as surprised as I myself had been. Hawksclaw actually seemed to enjoy the attention. As did Longtail. Neither Highwall nor Rildrirr seemed that amused, but I expected no less. Even so, each Ranger was impeccably dressed, and Longtail modestly thank the Light. Even Coramin and his assistant the Eldakar girl arrived, much to the consternation of the Herald who, it appears, had not prepared for their attendance.

In their turn, each also mounted the platform, even Coramin, and took their seats beside me. Embarrassment and pride in equal measured warred within me. For, yes, I am unaccustomed to such attention, but I could not be more impressed by the men and women under my command.

Lord Mayor Von Haber made a small, but stirring speech and food was brought forth. As if by some magic, the cups refilled and the feast continued to arrive.

Taking that moment of relative quite while the guests enjoyed the meal, Lord Von Haber broached the subject of our recent success and subsequent fame. He pointed out, rightly, that the end of the Storm had a ingratiating effect on the people of Olara and that they might be in the mood to consider proposals. He went on to suggest that, perhaps, the time had come to reinstate the Wolfhaven title.

I was sorely tempted. In many ways I feel that I have failed my family. And yet, what do I have to offer? My reasoning before is yet sound. I have no family, no wife and no prospects. In point of fact, my first duty is now to the Rangers, and so, I was compelled to refuse his offer. However, he was right in that the time was perfect for other pursuits. As such, I informed the Lord Mayor of Ranger 1st Class Longtail’s intention of constructing an Orphanage in town.

I could see his disappointment, but he agreed to support her efforts. With the Lord Mayor’s backing, I suspect that the orphanage is all but a done deal. At any rate, the food was delicious and soon, I was satiated and content to make idle conversation with the Lord Mayor. Sadly, my contentedness lulled me into a false sense of security for what happened next shall remain the most mortifying moment of my life.

Without warning, the sky itself darkened. Beside me, my Rangers reacted with admirable swiftness, hands clutching weapons, eyes scanning for threats, when, in a burst of flame and smoke, Therel Fateweaver, Bard and meddler appeared before us. Dressed in a finery I was not aware he possessed, the horrible man launched into an overlong and flowery introduction. He extolled my virtues and those of my Rangers.

Before anything could be done to stop him, the savage clapped his hands and mummers tumbled from the wings. Then, before my very eyes, he and his troupe of brigands and thieves began an absolute exaggerated travesty, a mockery of the exploits of my Rangers and myself. If there was any truth to their telling, it was by omission.

In the first, I did not enter the town at the head of an Olaran army. In point of fact, when I arrived, it was in the company of Coramin and his companion Neleena, a Brinchie, a Potionmaster and a young girl. Secondly, during our first encounter with the Ratzin beneath the town we did not face an unending horde. Rather, there were no more than a few dozen. Hardly an enemy army.

I could in greater detail explain the many inaccuracies and “creative licenses” taken by the Bard, suffice to say that whatever else you might say of their performance, it was only “loosely based” on actual fact. Still, the assembled seemed to quite enjoy the re-telling and my Rangers were particularly amused, all save Rildrirr who shared my distaste for the absurd mummery. That sad affair concluded, I was asked to stand.

Standing as well, the Lord Mayor thanked me for my service and for the continued protection of the Ranger Corps. Then he withdrew a Whitesilver key from a box handed him by a servant and presented to me a Key to the Town.

I was stunned.

The simple trust implied by presenting complete access through the curtain wall to the Rangers was impressive enough, but the key also represented a operational boon as well.
Thought not generally a significant issue, situations have arisen in which the postern have been locked causing delays to our operations. We are now one of the few organizations, including the Watch and the Lord Mayor’s office who now have complete access to and from the town.

With deep gratitude I thanked Lord Von Haber for his trust and generosity. And with that, the official portion of the evening was ended. The floor was opened for dancing, as I know at least two of my Rangers partook. I was unaware of Hawksclaw’s skill at dancing, but I have no doubt it may well be of use to the post in the future.

Even so, I saw none of what transpired as I, after making the necessary rounds departed early leaving the mingling to my men. I do know that Longtail made a few key inquiries and that Highwall engaged, and very nearly won a drinking contest.

For myself, I departed the manor, retrieved my mount and took an evening ride through the town, and into the countryside.

So much has happened since my arrival in Echer’Naught, both good and ill. When I left my life behind after the War, I had no desire, or intention of ever returning. In fact, I had hoped that the Rangers would post me far from here. And yet, I am happy.

For the first since my departure over a year ago, I am content. I have a home, such as it is. I have the Rangers under my command, not friends, but comrades, men and women I care for very deeply. I see now that the Light has a plan and I hope to see it through.

Eventually, I returned to the outpost to find it all but deserted. None of my men had returned from the party, Stormahammer was at the Hammer and Anvil, Olgor long since abed. Only faithful Grimbore remained, reclining on his bed. Nodding to him, I turned in for the night.

The 11th of Eternal Sun began bright. I awoke and began to work again with Olgor in putting to order the various reports, lists and orders of the day. Hawksclaw departed early on some errand and soon Longtail followed. Later in the day, she returned with a young farmboy. Apparently, the lists of needed supplies for the outlying farms had been submitted.

I confess that with everything going on, with the construction projects, the ore crisis, the prisoner, the Storm Druid and everything else to be done, the addition of begging for farm tools and beasts of burden for the Barony farms seemed a daunting task. More so because this was the duty of the Barons and not the Rangers. Still, Longtail is correct that without some aid, the farmers would be unable to harvest crops and the resulting crisis would be our issue. Only then, there would be precious little we could do.

I drafted a letter to the Lord Mayors office, and copied it for the Merchant’s counsel. I also requested Longtail’s presence at the various meetings. I feel she would provide a voice for the common people sorely needed. With that she returned to her duties.

My reports completed, and this almost ready to be handed to the messenger, I now prepare for the coming days. It is my intention to move our Prelacy Captain prisoner at the earliest possible convenience West toward the coast via prison wagon.

I plan to depart by the 16th of this month. We should be able to reach Erda’Meias in about 7 days arriving by the 22nd. From there, we will follow the road west to Eldara, a trip of about 18 days if conditions permit, putting us in Eldara on or around Thunder Hawk 7th. We will find a boat in Eldara and travel by river to Eastport, a trip of about 9 days, with good currents. If all goes well, we will arrive in Eastport on or around the 16th of Thunder Hawk. I intend to bring with the wagon train Ivan who is knowledgeable of such things. He should be able to assist in hiring a ship to take us by sea to Camden. I believe the trip will take about 21 days weather conditions permitting. If I am correct, we should make port by the 4th of Festival Moons. From Camden, I am guessing about 14 days to Kythros. With luck and the blessings of the Ascended, we will arrive in Kythros on the 18th of Festival Moons. Depending on the time spent in Kythros, and the return trip by horse and wagon taking about 77 days we would return mid Autumn near the end of Forest Dance.

I am aware that this will take us from home for an extended period of time, but I feel it important that my Rangers have the opportunity to visit Kythros and I have much to discuss with command. Time will tell how successful my plans will be.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

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