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

Slayer Report 6
A Deal with Darkness

For the eyes of Col. A. Wolfhaven
Report of Rngr. M.Von Dedrich
Colonel,
31st of White Stag
After questioning the lady, I have a few answers, but more uncertainties. Her brother, she believes, is trying to protect her. I can correlate this to my knowledge that Werewolves are, in fact, capable of some level of rational thought, even when turned. He was obviously doing what he thought was in the best interest of his sister.
She revealed, after some time, that her name is Elyanna, and that her family has lived in the Wildlands for centuries. I asked her family name, and she was hesitant, at first. Finally, she said that she was a descendant of the De’Lear family. She had said that her family estate was, actually south of Eckhart. Ironic… I said that the name sounded familiar. She added that her line of De’Lears were once a noble line, but their titles had been stripped many years ago.
Then we discussed the specifics relating to her capture, and how she had come to be in the Vampire Lord’s carriage. They had been attacked, at their estate, at night. She could not see clearly, as the assailants came on quickly, but she identified several different creatures of darkness. She was able to name off several types of the creatures, Troglanesh, and the like. I noticed that she seemed to have a working knowledge of the creatures of Darkness.
She said that her family had been put to the sword, and that she had believed her brother to be dead, as well. After the attack, she was captured, and loaded into the carriage. Her captors would not reveal their intended location, but only that “they were going to see the master.”
It was at this point that things began to come together in my head. I had my doubts but I played my hand anyway. “You are a Shayakar”, I said bluntly. She nodded and even gave a half smile. That confirmed, I proceeded with a fresh perspective.
She told me of how her family, vassals of the De’Lears, had remained in the Wildlands after the forces of Darkness had returned to Shaynor, centuries ago. Their refusal to leave their home had been the reason for their noble title stripped… interesting. As a side note, I believe that also means that her blood would be relatively unchanged for the past several hundred years. Just a thought.
She said that she would be hunted without mercy, and I believed her. We discussed the possibility of her going into hiding. A decision was made to make an attempt to extract her from the city using a ruse. We ended her “soft interrogation” in the pre-dawn hours.
32nd of White Stag
I spoke with Sgt. Maj. Stormhammer about procuring any necessary equipment to better affect an escape. He said that he could, and we left it at that. Other than resting, the day was uneventful. Alystar took to the city in search of her brother. His intention was to destroy him. I thought his plan a bit one dimensional, but that is how the man operates. No flare, no frills, and straight up the middle.
In the evening, I visited Madame Lillithian, and she expressed concern that more assassins were en-route to the city. I also spoke with her about the Hanzes. I told her that I did not believe that they presented any immediate threat, and that she was probably safer keeping them on her payroll. The thanked me, and I was on my way.
Late that night, the commotion started. I saw orbs of energy, and I knew it to be Alystar. He was chasing the Brother, and heading toward High Town. I ran to intercept, and a brief foot chase ensued. To make a long story short, I found him, alone. It did not go well.
When I awoke, I was bleeding profusely. I was, however, bandaged. I know not by whom. I can only assume it was her brother, as Alystar did not arrive until after I had arisen. This only served to confirm my inkling that the Werewolf’s only purpose was to protect his sister. I expressed this to Alystar, and he reluctantly acknowledged.
When we returned to the manor, I questioned Elyanna as to whether she thought it possible to communicate our intentions to him. She said that it was, and even though it went against my every instinct, I told her that I would accompany her. It was decided that we would “stroll” into the market in hopes of raising him. Alystar and a small team would shadow us in case of any trouble. She asked whether or not I trusted her. “I do”, I affirmed. What choice did I have?
1st of Grey Winds
We put our plan, such as it was, into action. We walked arm in arm down the thoroughfare, and went… shopping. I must admit, I was enjoying myself. Elyanna had just bought a scarf, when suddenly, I felt her tense. I looked left, and he was there, cowl drawn, and unmoving. Elyanna turned to face him. I heard them speaking. For most of the conversation he was staring at me, and I at him, and both resisting the urge to strike.
She finished speaking, and he nodded slowly. “Take care of her slayer”, He finally said. I nodded, took Elyanna by the arm and to maintain our appearance, we finished our “stroll”. Arriving back at the manor, we rested for the evening to come. That night we were to depart, and Alystar had chosen Erdemeas as our destination. Upon my insistence, we were to travel at night. It would be slower, but we would be able to rest easier during the day. Before we parted, she handed me a large coin. “Keep this. It will help keep you safe”, she said. I thanked her, and put it in my pocket. I should have looked more closely, but I was fatigued and needed sleep.
At dusk, we donned our robes, and mounted. Elyanna was wrapped so that her face was obscured, and she was wearing a plain dress. We traveled without being harassed for the entire night. During the entire trip, Elyanna had said not a word. I took it to mean that she was in a pensive or nervous mood. We camped that next day, and were off again at sunset.
We were within sight of the Elven Forrest when things started going badly. From behind us, we could sense the approach of several figures. We tried to spur forward, but the figures were on us. Werewolves. One alpha, and four common. They lurched forward and caught us immediately. The alpha went straight for Elyanna’s horse and brought it down, which sent her toppling to the ground. We drew our weapons, and I dispatched one of the lesser beasts from horseback. Alystar hacked at another, but the alpha was nearly on her. That was when Elyanna produced a sword…
The alpha, taken aback, ripped with its claws at her robe. She struggled away and as the robes pulled free, Alystar, myself, and even the beasts stopped dead in our tracks. Before us stood… Alfred. He smiled at the alpha and said, “What? Expecting someone else?”
The alpha, looking as confused as ourselves, began snarling and backing away. I watched them disappear into the darkness, and began to laugh. Athrait just shook his head. Alfred, panting, and smiling said “That went well!” I stared at him. “So where is she?” I asked. Alfred cocked his head “I don’t know, actually. Stormhammer just told me to go with you guys…” Again, I just laughed.
“Well, who wants to go to Erdemeas?” Athrait asked. We all shrugged and remounted.
6th of Grey Winds
We returned to Echer’naught. Now that she is secure, we may resume our business without distraction, or werewolves, for that matter. But, then again, (I cannot believe I am saying this.) what if we were to try to contact him? He has many reasons to want revenge on the Blood Lord… I think I will try to learn more about this coin.
Respectfully Submitted,
~M.Von Dedrich

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Slayer Report 5
Saved by Werewolves

For the eyes of
Col. A. Wolfhaven,

From, M. VonDedrich, on the evening of 31 White Stag.

Col.,
These are the events which have transpired, since after our arrival. I understand that your time is limited so I will try to be as concise as I am able.
On the 16th, I gave my armor to the Sgt. Major for repairs. Also, I had a spar with young Alfred. I mention this because the young man has skill. That, combined with his natural disdain for creatures of Darkness… I believe that he would make a formidable Slayer, given the proper training.
In any event, having secured the lady, we set on our tasks. Athrait headed to the Chapel of Light, and I began researching all things related to the crisis in the south. Alas, my skills are not of the “bookish” variety, and I do not believe that I have accomplished much.
On the 19th, I had dinner at the Wayfarer’s Rest, and headed towards The Red Lamp, to relax for the evening. Upon my arrival, I noted that the guards (the “Hanzes”) had a strange demeanor about them.
(I have confided this to you, and the madam. I shall consider the matter closed, until I am told otherwise.)
I spent the evening there, and returned early, with said report.
I was instructed to frequent “The Lamp”, and keep tabs on that situation. (Who would have thought that being a Ranger had this many fringe benefits?)
I visited that place between the 20th and the 26th, and noticed nothing that would raise an alarm.
Sometime around the 24th, we received a report from the Eckhart lands. This is discussed elsewhere, so I will not expand on it further. I will, however, say that I hope the expedition meets with success. If not, we may be fighting their corpses later.
On the 26th, I visited the Red Lamp, as had become my custom. I asked her about the aforementioned individuals. I was as frank as I could have been, and she assured me that she would take the matter under advisement. She is a shrewd businesswoman, but her candor leads me to think that she can be trusted within reason.
Nothing since has been worth noting, until tonight. I was, again, at “The Lamp”, and had only just arrived when I felt a pair of eyes at my back. Not wanting to cause a scene inside, I headed out, and towards the HQ.
I had gone nearly a block, when up ahead, there was a dark clad figure blocking the street. I recognized him as a possible assassin, and knew that there would be more nearby. I dropped my cloak, and my hand hovered at my blade. Just then, the individual looked past me, and hesitated. I looked back to see two of the “Hanzes” standing in the street behind me.
The assassin growled, and turned back toward the shadows. I looked toward the Hanzes, and gave them a nod of thanks. They returned it, and departed silently. This incident confirms, in my mind, both of my assertions.
Forgetting my cloak, I slipped into an alley, and managed to quietly make it back to the HQ. I knew the lady was in danger, so I rushed to her chamber. I threw the door open, and found her kneeling on the floor. In the corner, loomed a dark figure. I knew there would be more, but there was no time. I drew my blades, and stepped in. Sure enough, two more stepped from either side, and attacked. The fight began, and I knew immediately what they were. Shayakar.
We traded blows, but they were quickly overwhelming me. I herd the others coming, but soon it would be too late.
All of a sudden the window on the far side of the room shattered. I shielded my face from the glass, and looked to find a hulking, white Alpha Werewolf standing in the center of the fray. His fangs and claws shone in the moonlight, and I thought it was about to be over. But, as soon as he’d gained his bearings, he ripped one of the assassins nearly in half. I was surprised, but used the moment to strike at another.
At that time, the rest of you made it in. I called for to not strike the werewolf. I feared that doing so would cause it to turn on us. It dispatched another of the Shayakar, and the other fled in haste. I suppose, now, that the werewolf had no intention of killing us, as he too fled. I did notice that it looked, for a moment, at the lady.
If you will remember, you said “Someone tell me what is going on. Now.”, to which she replied, “He is my brother.”

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We will begin questioning her in just a moment. We need answers, and those right soon.
I will have those findings submitted as quickly as possible.

Respectfully submitted,
Rngr. Mugen VonDiedrich

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The Rising Darkness
Compiled reports and information

Comprehensive Summary Report of the emerging threat

The Rising Darkness

by Ranger Evoran Que’kasaars and Lieutenant Grizhnak Olgor

The first signs of associated Corruption reported to Echer’Naught occurred on the Eighteenth Day of Falling Ice, 3123 during the Shadowboar incident. Though the Rangers under the command of Col. Wolfhaven were successful in ending the threat, further incidents of corruption continued to occur in the lands south of Olara kept in check primarily through the efforts of the southernmost Eckhart Barony who began to fortify their lands against a southern invasion.

For the next five months, the world shaking Tempest ended the investigation into the encroaching Darkness. What we now suspect is that forces of Shaya’Nor used the cover of the storm to infiltrate agents into the southern kingdoms.

Then, at the close of summer as the nations recovered from the cost of the Storms, reports (1, 2) indicated taht Agents discovered an ancient sarcophagus being escorted by Shayakar agents. Our team recovered the sarcophagus, but this was but the first of many reports of Shayakar agents digging in the area of Olara and northern Wildlands.

Then, in Dancing Clouds 4th, Brother Athrate Alystar led a team into Northern Wildlands on the trail of disappearing Gathers. What they reported were agents of Shaya’Nor excavating an ancient temple that predated the fall of Vainar. Within the temple, Alystar reported an arcane and obscene ritual in which avatars for each of the ascended were ritually sacrificed to raise what appeared to be a Vampire Lord of impossible power.

At roughly the same time period as Alystar began to assemble his team, a slayer from Nazatir, Mugin Von Deidrich, arrived and encountered forces of Darkness far to the south. Copies of his journals (1, 2, & 3) have been included.

After joining the Rangers, Von Deidrich joined with Brother Alystar to continue the investigation into the connection between the Shaya’Nor agents, the rising Corruption and the disappearing Gathers. He returned to the Northern Wildlands and assembled a new team. Per their report, they tracked a group of Shaya’Nor agents who were using a strange black dust to corrupt Goblinesh into Trogladesh. From a recently fallen gather, the team continued to track the enemy agents to what appeared to be an ancient Builder site. On Dancing Clouds 27th, per their report, they encountered a Flame Warlord, rumored to be the “Butcher”, thought to be leading a band of Shayakar and Trogladesh who in turn captured a Builder mechanist, rumored to be the “Mad Bomber” of Echer’Naught.

Concurrently, Rangers of Illiana’s Point discovered the influence of Darkness in their own area. In the report, they recount that during a hunt to track down thieves they uncovered a lair of Necromancers. They managed to clean out the lair, but in the process discovered evidence of a dark and powerful Vampire of ancient lineage. Leaping through portals, they returned with the stolen property, but many questions.

Throughout the fall as the road project between Echer’Naught and Farwatch grew closer to completion, Trogladesh and Shaya’Nor agents increased their attacks seeing to sabotage and slow down the progress. Near Farwatch, the Shayakar used a ruse to convince the local security forces that the attacks were being committed by local Goblinesh to drive a wedge between the Gathers and the town. Col. Wolfhaven himself led the Farwatch Rangers in the strike to discover this information, per their report.

From the 5th of Raining Leaves until some time around the 10th, the Rangers of Greenvale, while scouting the area themselves ran afoul of corrupted creatures and werewolves, per reports (1, 2 & 3). Thought their connection to the larger plot has yet to be confirmed, it seems at least reasonable that the corruption might have spread farther south than previously theorized. This bodes ill for the Rangers as that would indicate a much larger area of saturation.

It was not until the 12th of Harvest Moons, late in the evening when Brother Alystar, Von Dietrich and the ogress Fekla arrived at the Echer’Naught temporary HQ that the true size and impact of the threat of Darkness was revealed to us. So focused had we, and other outposts, been on the Storm, the Builders and the Crimson Crusade that corruption was allowed to flourish. And while each outpost was aware of their own encounters, no large scale coordination had been conducted. It was not until this meeting, reported here, that Col. Wolfhaven began to understand the true gravity of the situation. After the meeting and Alystar’s departure, Col. Wolfhaven task Evoran and myself to pull together all available resources regarding the Rising Darkness in the norther Wildlands which prompted this missive and compiled reports. It is no understatement that, while not yet a global catastrophe, this danger threatens to consume the entire region.

As fall turned to Winter, the incidents of corruption seemed to increase. Agents in Sun’s Crossing while involved in operations within Landra’Feya uncovered the tomb of an ancient and powerful Wraith known now as the “Fiend”, reports included (1, 2 & 3). He has been linked to the Heraldry discovered by Rangers of Illiana’s Point and the Vampire Lord who managed to escape Athrate. Through great sacrifice the Fiend has been defeated, but his presence begs questions.

Also, in early White Stag Rangers of Farwatch discovered a small town north of Farwatch. Upon investigation they found more evidence of Necromancy and Zombies. Apparently, forces of Darkness had long since been in operation in the region. Though they again ended the threat, the true source of the corruption eludes us all.

As the Rangers of Farwatch battled the forces of Darkness in their area, Lt. Hawksclaw led an army south to support the Eckhart lands which we learned had been under aggressive attack from Trogladesh for some time.
Meanwhile, Col Wolfhaven joined with the Rangers of Farwatch to provide security for the final completion of the road project, report here. As expected, the gathering was attacked by Trogladesh, but this time they used an ancient Builder War Golem, no doubt supplied by the captured Builder. This is further evidence of the connection between what might otherwise be unrelated events.

Back at Echkart lands, after establishing a base of operations, Hawksclaw dispatched scouts, all of which were attacked by forces of Darkness. They did manage to discover an enemy camp. Taking with him a sizable force, Lt. Hawksclaw assaulted the camp but found himself in a trap devised by the “Butcher” now known to be leading the Trogladesh forces. By his report, Hawkclaw’s army escaped with heavy losses and began preparations to hold of the forces of Darkness at the Eckhart Barony.

While the Rangers of Echer’Naught battled for the lives, Athrate Alystar and Von Dietrich arrived suddenly with a mysterious women in their care. As reported, they too discovered an enemy encampment by way of being captured. They managed to escape and during their wandering back ran across a lone black carriage. Von Dietrich noted the crest upon the door to be one of an Ancient Vampire Lord from the Age of Darkness. However, no vampire was within, but the strange woman who herself purported to be a prisoner of the forces of Darkness. Her story and origins are, at the time of this report, unknown. How she ties into the overall plot remains a mystery, but clearly she is a key part.

More disturbing yet, my research indicates that during the Age of Darkness, a noble family of Farwatch, the Ermengilds, may have made a deal with their dark overlords. If this is true, which I believe it is, then a known member of what is called the Dark Court, the Baron of Farwatch, may in fact be a member of this line…perhaps one turned to Darkness? The Butcher we know, and the Fiend. What of the Wolf? I have read reports of the few survivors of attacks on human and elven settlements that a large White Werewolf leads many of the raids. Of the Vampire known as Morden, I can only surmise that he or she is connnected to the Blood Witch of Evershade Forest I have heard rumor of. Even within Echer’Naught we have found a floater called the Scarlet Dram which reeks of a yet unknown corruption. And the Mechancist could be the “Mad Bomber” or an equally vile Builder…

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In summation: I have few facts, but drawing corollary lines indicates that the scope and range of this corruption is farther and deeper that we could imagine. If correct, we are facing forces that walked these lands during the Age of Darkness. Perhaps there is a push to return to those dark days? Understanding that we cannot fight a war on two fronts, I feel that addressing this threat is of primary concern to all Rangers within the affected areas. I recommend this threat be elevated and all effort made to root out this corruption before it spreads beyond hope of redemption.

G. Olgor

Compiled Reporting on the Rising Darkness And Associated Events
(Falling Ice to Dark Moons, 3123)
By Ranger Evoran Que’kasaars & Lieutenant Grizhnak Olgor
For Official Records
Echer’Naught Regional Ranger Outpost
C.O. Col. Alexander Wolfhaven

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Slayer Report Four
Dark Carriages

Report of Mugen VonDedrich, on the events of 13, Harvest Moons, thru 17, White Stag.

Addressed to Col. A. Wolfhaven

Colonel,
Per the discussion we had, upon our arrival, I will lay out the events which transpired during the aforementioned dates. Hopefully, they will serve to help piece together what larger plots are laid against the region.

On the 13th of Harvest Moons, Lt. Allistar and myself departed this place, and traveled south, toward Farwatch. Using the new road we made good time, and within a day, had reached the work camps. Reading your team’s reports on Trogledesh movements in the aria, we decided to inhabit the place. Our hopes of catching the bastards during one of their raids, were ultimately rewarded.
On the 15th, we herd a commotion, a good distance away. We moved to observe, making sure not to be seen. There we witnessed your man, Rildryrr, ably fight off no less than four Hobgoblins. We saw him fall, and knew not if he was alive. It pained me to sit idly, in the shadows, but that fight was not ours.
Once the fray had ended, and the man had been carted away, we moved onto the scene. In the darkness, the creatures’ movements were impossible to track. But, by first light, we found the path that they’d taken, and set upon it.
For the next two days we made good progress, and on the 17th, found a recently used staging aria. I can only assume that it had been used as a base from which they had been launching some of their raids. It was plain that the Trogledesh had used it regularly, due to the large amount of human sized remains strewn about. Near that place, we set a cold camp where we could observe any movements in the vicinity. Again, our efforts were rewarded.
That is the night that we were attacked, and we started on this strange course of events. During the night, we were assaulted by a passel of Hobgoblins. Lt. Allistar and myself sustained several injuries during the fray. We were nearly able to beat them, but the last one standing managed to bludgeon us to the dirt. I thought we’d be laid low, but the beast had a more sinister purpose.
I came, fully, to my senses nearly three days later. I suppose it was around the 20th. I realized, to my chagrin, that we were inside the walls of a pin. I’ve read the most recent reports, in which these prisons are called “camps”, but in reality they are stock yards. For within, the bastards hold other beings as a food source. I cannot begin to describe the conditions inside the palisade. Humans and Elves crammed together, starving, freezing, and nearly naked. If I’d needed another reason to hate the corrupted, I’d have it.
I found Allistar in a similar condition. We agreed that any attempt at escape would need to happen soon, otherwise we’d be too weak. He assured me that given the chance, he could make a way to get out. His plan was a sketchy one, but given our options, I agreed. Serving as nourishment for the bastards that I’ve dedicated my life to killing seems far too ironic.
In any event, I set to convincing the other foodstuffs of our plan, while Allistar set to praying. I am not sure if I have a golden tongue, or if the sounds of their kinsmen and friends being butchered alive did the trick. Either way, the herd was with us. All within elected to escape or die on their feet. Interesting how certain doom inspires men to such heroic acts… So, for three days, we waited.
On noon of, what I presume was the 23rd, we acted. It happened quickly, but the Lt. called down a celestial ally which blew apart a section of the wall. From there the race was on.
Allistar had felt the calling of his pendant, and so we had an idea of where the gear was piled. To reach it, we had to thread a maze of assailants which were in something of an uproar. The “Angel” and throng of escaped captives provided a good distraction, so we ran. Allistar managed to bowl one over, and another tried to give me a shave, but we reached the gear pile intact. I found my sword, and turned to provide cover for the Lt. No sooner than he’d made it, one of the beast reached us. I drew and cut, felling it. We managed to find our armor and most of our weapons, but no more. We decided that it was better to cut our losses, so again, we ran.
Fortunately, the lesser corrupted are not the sharpest implements, so we were able to make good on our escape.
I doubt many, if any of the others survived. I am, however, glad that they died well.
The next three weeks, we lived as fugitives in a hostile country. We managed to stay headed in a northerly direction, and the abandoned farms along the way provided for ample scavenging. In this fashion we continued, until sometime around the 6th of White Stag. It is here that events took an odd turn.
We found a small road, and had decided to follow it. We kept to a rise which paralleled the path, as to avoid detection. As the afternoon wained we sat down to rest. The snow had started falling again, and traveling was becoming more difficult. Suddenly, my ears picked up the faint sound of hooves and carriage. I was confused. I alerted the Lt. and we took cover to observe.
From the forest came a black carriage, drawn by six black steeds, carrying three guards and one driver, all dressed in black. We were in disbelief. As we watched the carriage, I began to note several features.
The horses were corrupted beasts, and the men on board were of a deathly countenance. Then I saw the crest hanging on the carriage door, and for the first time in many years, I was afraid.
I had looked upon the crest, for many years, as a child. It was stitched into a tapestry which hung in my family’s home. A tapestry which depicted an ancient battle, from a time before Olara, the VonDiedrichs, or anything we know existed. A time, nearly forgotten, except by scholars and storytellers. But this was no story. This was very, and terrifyingly real. This was the crest of one of the ancient ones. A true immortal. One that had seen the dawn of the ages, and the fall of empires. A true Vampiric Lord. The horrors that a creature like that is capable of, are too unfathomable to put to paper. Any slayer knows that to face a being of this magnitude, with anything less than an army, will mean certain and eternal death.
I informed Allistar, but he held. I was more than perturbed at this. He closed his eyes, and seemed to be thinking. I thought he might remain frozen there, but he suddenly looked up at the carriage. “It isn’t him.”, He stated matter of factly. By now, I was sure that the Lt. had lost his wits. He continued, “I have felt his presence before, and I would not mistake it… It is not him.”
Thus explained, I had little argument. “Then we take the coach?”, I asked. He nodded. He asked me to buy him a minute’s time and I departed, informing him that he had thirty seconds. I donned my cowl, and took leave of him.
I skirted the hill, and stepped free of the trees about forty paces from the coach. The driver locked his wheels, and issued a challenge. In answer, I drew my blades and stood firm. The die was cast as the two rear guards dismounted. They stalked forward, and began to change forms into common Werewolves. I was relieved, oddly. They drew near, and I greeted them as any VonDiedrich ought. With a flash of steel and claws, the fight began.
I was able to dispatch one quickly, but the other was more troublesome. For a few moments, I was alone. But with a shout, Allistar came to view. Along with him, one of his celestial allies. The odds had grown better, and I began to enjoy myself.
For nearly a minute Allistar, and myself traded blows with the men and beast. But soon, the celestial being gave us the upper hand. It was able to block the carriage in place, which allowed us to finish the job. Once the party was dispatched, we approached the carriage with great trepidation.
The Lt. placed his hand on the latch, paused, and we readied ourselves. With a jerk the door swung open and we received another surprise. Within was the most beautiful Elven women I’ve ever seen, and obviously uncorrupted. We stepped back puzzled, as she looked at us with a calm and resigned expression. “Are you here to kill me?”, she asked in way of greeting. We looked to one another and shrugged. I turned back to her and I said “Well, I’m not.”
She nodded, but her expression remained unchanged. She simply sat and looked at us. “Who are you?”, asked Allistar.
“I am the last of my people.”, she stated, matter of factly.
He looked to me, puzzled. We asked several more questions, and she managed to evade all of them. I tried to think of any reasons why an uncorrupted individual might be sequestered by an Undead Lord. I offered several reasons, but she never confirmed a single one. She did offer us food and wine, to which we both declined.
We decided that we had wasted enough time, and that to remain in that place was dangerous. I set about beheading the fallen escorts, and Allistar made the carriage ready to travel. When we returned to her, she asked “Am I your prisoner, now?”
Her wording intrigued me, and I answered in the negative. The Lt. suggested that I drive the carriage, as I “looked the part.”
Reluctantly, I agreed. He moved to enter the coach, and I to the reins.
In this fashion we traveled for some time. Nearly two days later, we reached a proper road. We encountered a number of travelers, and we were able to determine that we were near Kator. Most of the passers-by avoided us, which suited me. I suppose the sight of a black carriage, drawn by black steeds, and driven by a black clad, pale faced figure was enough to ward of the casual inquirer.
We neared the city and Allistar suggested we swap places as to make our appearance less menacing. I climbed in the passenger compartment, and we were off. As I spoke with the woman it became clear that she was very well educated. I do not know much of Elven society, but I think she is of a superior class. I joined her in having wine and meats, and I must admit that they were delicious. Within two hours, we were in Kator.
The Lt. Departed to check in at the Ranger post, the lady stayed in the coach, and I set to the task of slaughtering the corrupted steeds. It was not an easy task as I had to behead the team and then burn the carcasses.
When that was complete we rallied and took the lady to an inn, where Allistar had secured a room.
We entered amidst much curiosity, and made haste to avoid any questions. Once inside, we set our plans. I would secure new vestments and traps for the three of us, the lady would remain, and Allistar would stay with her. She had implied that she would be followed. We decided that she should not be left alone.
I turned to the Lt., and asked “How shall I pay for all this?”
We realized that we had not a single coin between us. The lady extended to me a small velvet purse, and said “Here. This should suffice.”
I opened the bag, and was taken aback. Inside were no less than twenty platinum pieces. I estimated them to be worth nearly two-thousand gold. Reaching in, I took one and figured it would be enough to buy the whole shop.
It took going to the Ranger post to even make change. But once I had, I made my purchases and returned to the inn. We tried to rest and prepare for the next day.
In the early morning I was looking out of the window. In the street below, there was a man walking. I watched him and noticed a pair of dogs move away to avoid him. I recalled that dogs will often avoid the corrupted, and will always run away from a werewolf. Thus alerted, I woke Allistar and the lady. She did not seem surprised, and this confirmed what she’d said. She was being tracked.

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I volunteered to fetch our mounts, and left. I frightened the boy at the Ranger outpost as I burst in, but he quickly gathered the horses. I led them back to the inn, and without ceremony we mounted and rode away. The lady rides better than anyone I’ve ever seen. She attributed this to her good education. So, with an eye behind us, we rode out of Kator on the 12th.
We pushed ourselves and the beasts to the point of exhaustion. Now, on the 17th, we have arrived here. We were not attacked on our journey, but there was an unease about the entire trip. Safely in Echer’naught, we will continue our work. Who is this woman, why was she there, and what is her secret? Perhaps we will uncover this.

M. VonD.

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General Order LRHGW253123
Defense of Eckhart Castle

From: the desk of Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw,
Commander of the combined allied forces engaged in the defense of the Eckhart Keep.

To: All allied commanders:

For immediate release to all allied forces, effective on 25, Grey Winds.

To the Soldiers, Rangers, Horsemen, and all combined Men at Arms engaged in the defense of the citizens of Eckhart, I present greetings, and my compliments.
To my fellow soldiers:
We are engaged in a fight, not only for our very lives, not only for the lives of those we’ve come here to protect, but also, for the safety and livelihoods of those that we love in Olara. Our situation here is bleak. This is a bare fact. We are beset on all sides by those who wish to destroy, poison, and corrupt our brethren.
Yet, for the past weeks we have stood resolute in our defense of this place, and her people. Moreover, every day that we hold here, we provide another day of freedom for those we hold dear. So long as we remain a thorn in the side of our enemy, we can keep their armies occupied, and thus, unable to continue on their march of annihilation. We have been tasked with checking the advance of Darkness, and we have done so.
I have asked much of you all, and I will ask more before this contest is decided. You have made all of Olara and her allies proud. Already, your names are being sung in the streets, taverns, hills, and dales of your homes. We are not forgotten.
Finally, I ask that each individual among you remember why they are here. I ask you all to think fondly of your homes, and those within that we will spare from this evil. I ask that when we meet the enemy, we do so with a song of home in our hearts. If we fight with this purpose, our enemy shall never taste victory, for even if they triumph over our corporeal forms, our hearts shall remain unbowed.
I am humbled by each person here, and their devotion. Together we will declare, for the world to hear, that we are of one heart. We will scream into the face of Darkness, our battle cries. We will live as men, women, Goblinesh, Human, Elf, Brinchee, Olaran, and Wildlanders, unchained by the shackles of corruption. We will ensure life for those we love.
May the spirits of your ancestors, and The Ascended, be with you all.

Your obe’dt Servant,
Lt. R. S. Hawksclaw
Allied commander, of the defenses of Eckhart

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Campaign Report 30 (Farspeaker)
Dead of Winter

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Twenty Sixth Day of Gray Winds, Year 3123 Under the Light

(As relayed by Eris Moonsilver, Farspeaker)

The Battle for Eckhart Keep

After the events surrounding the Road Completion ceremony on the 6th of White Stagg and ensuing battle I returned as quickly as possible to the Echer’Naught with the Lord Mayor and his retinue. We made the trip in four days, arriving mid day on the 10th. We were all in a hurry to reach the safety of the cities walls, though for me, my heart was with my men heading into danger in the lands of Eckhart.

Winter snows began to fall.

Meanwhile, my Rangers reached Echkart in two days, arriving on the 8th to find Lt. Hawksclaw deep in preparations for war. His forces had already established a fortified camp south and east of the castle. Apparently, Baron Eckhart was more than willing to allow the Rangers full control of reconnaissance as his own attempts had resulted in near disasters.

They resolved to send out two recon teams utilizing Longtails “team” and a decoy column of horse led by Rildrirr. Each departed the castle grounds at down on the 9th and headed south. Rildirr’s column made nearly 25 miles before they were attacked by a horde of Trogladesh. The Hammerfall Riders broke free with little issue and returned. The second scouting party never made 30 miles before they were ambushed in the night by an unknown creature or creatures and all but one of the team was killed. She did not stagger, half dead, into camp until late into the night on the 14th, but passes out at the gate. Longtail’s recon was the only success. According to her reports, her team managed to get within eyesight of an abandoned ruin atop a hill overlooking what appeared to be a large enemy base.

However, before they could close and get any further recon, they were forced to retreat or face annihilation. Over the course of the 14th, the teams returned. Rildrirr with no losses, but many wounded, Longtail losing six and the final team reduced to one on death’s door.

Yet, with Longtail’s information, they finally had a target.

In the morning of the 15th, the lone scout of second team awoke to reveal the existence of the unexplained shadow killers. Priests of the Church of Light expressed that the crippling wound in her back had become infected with Darkness, but that she was physically hale. Whether she would live or die depended on her own strength. What the infection would ultimately lead to was anyone’s guess.

With reservation, she was cleared for duty.

Three days later on the 18th, Lt. Hawksclaw led a reconnaissance in force mission to scout and potentially eliminate the enemy encampment. They departed in two groups of 200 foot, with 75 Hammerfall apiece leaving a 25 company of horse for screaming. Total troops: 400 foot, 175 horse and 25 Church of Light with the remaining of Longtail’s “Dirty Dozen” now only 7.

Weather poor, snows continued to fall.

Leaving the camp, they first headed south along the Kator road before turning West to approach the enemy camp from that direction. They marched for five days making good time to arrive within site of the enemy camp on the 23rd of White Stagg. As they approached, the army slowed, forward company in shield wall formation facing the fort, reserve company in two platoons affecting a loose formation with archers in a line behind the wall, and flanking the reserves. The Hammerfalls provided screening and rear guard.

Forward scouts deployed to recon the enemy position only to reveal the enemy encampment appeared to be abandoned. However, the scouts reported something unusual about the camp’s defenses, though at 150 yards, the scouts were unable to ascertain what.

The field was snow covered, about a foot deep in most places. Lt. Hawksclaw called halt at 300 yards from the encampment, outside of bow range to plan with Sergeant Longtail about recon. It was the lone survivor of B company of Lontail’s recon group who noted first the disappearing scouts. She sprinted to command to warn, Lontail running to meet, but this signaled their awareness of the ambush.

In that moment, the skies opened up and black iron arrows began to fall.

The trap was sprung, Trogladesh leaped out of snow blinds and rushed the rear force as the arrows fell among the more tightly packed forward shield wall. Realizing his situation, Lt. Hawksclaw wisely ordered a breakout rush for the enemy camp. Hemmed in on all sides, the forward element crashed over the walls to land in a sea of corpses.

The base was a concentration camp where captured villagers had been kept in pits for food, sacrifice or turning. Desiccated bodies adorned the gates, piles of discarded bones, dwarf, human and elf lay scattered around the complex. Worse yet, the cold barely held back the stench. Worse yet, it became apparent why the defenses looked so odd from the recon. This was a prison, not a fort. All of the defenses were designed to keep people in, not out.

All of this was barely noted as men fell to arrows and Trogladesh poured in from all sides.

No sooner had Lt. Hawksclaw’s men entered the complex then chanting started resonating from the ruin on the hill…and the carpet of bodies began to twitch. The jaws of the enemy’s trap slammed shut. Trogladesh without, a horde of zombies within…Hawksclaw was trapped and his entire was forfeit.

Outside, hundreds of yards distant, a figure astride a horse rode into view. He drew a flaming blade so massive it was clear from the walls of the prison. With a wave of his sword, the chanting crescendo’d.

The dead came to life.

Lt. Hawksclaw assessed the situation and ordered Evoran to blow a hole in the rear wall of the prison. Sergeant Longtail took her team and the remaining scouts through the break to clear a path. With an exit, Hawksclaw ordered his men to pull out while he and Rildrirr held the rear.

From there, the mission became a running battle as unit cohesion broke down. Hawksclaw’s men cut their way free of the trap. Evoran and his mages used the last of their strength to collapse the breach they had just formed to slow the undead horde. It was a running fight for a day and most of the night, but by late on the 24th of White Stagg, the enemy seemed to have fallen to the rear and Hawksclaw’s weary band staggered home.

It took days of harsh marches through knee deep snow. Many wounded fell along the way to exposure. The army did not arrive back at Eckhart lands until the 33rd of White Stagg, only to find the castle in an uproar. A few day before on the 31st, Baron Eckhart was assassinated by a poisoned blade within his own chambers behind a locked door. He was survived by a nephew being protected far to the North.

Weary, wounded and wrecked, Lt. Hawksclaw suddenly found himself in command of the entire region’s defense. The remains of his forces collapsed and a counting of the butcher’s bill was tallied.

Hawksclaw’s force had suffered 35% casualties, 30% of those being dead or captured by the enemy.

The foot had suffered worst losing 120 dead. The Hammerfalls suffered the least with about 10 troopers wounded too badly to fight. The loses brought Hawksclaw’s force of foot to 380 total. Longtail’s unit was nearly combat ineffective and reports indicated that the enemy was massing along the southern border.

Also included in the dead were all of the subordinate commanders of the Hammerfalls and Hawksclaw’s own foot. His men were, other than the Ranger unit, leaderless as were the Eckhart’s men.

That said, I have no doubt that I could have hardly performed more admirably given the situation. Hawksclaw’s decisions were sound and he held together his army under extreme duress. More important, his men learned a great deal.

The enemy had large staging points for those elements of their armies requiring food. They had annihilated the nearest. More important, they also learned that the commander’s of the force were not present at that location. I agree with Hawksclaw’s supposition that the enemy Lord is using some subterranean Builder lair as his main fortress.

Having no choice, Hawksclaw restrained his men, licked his wounds and planned for the inevitable attack. Outnumbered at a minimum seven to one and facing a superior tactician in the “Butcher”, Hawksclaw planned to launched a series of delaying attacks with his forces to winnow down the enemy army as he retreated to his base.

The weather turned ugly as White Stagg turned to Gray winds, but it also brought fresh hope.

On the 2nd of Gray Winds, riders alerted Hawksclaw that an army approached from the North. Riding out, Hawksclaw discovered a force of around 700 goblinesh wending its way toward the castle. At the armies head was none other than Grimbore, presumed dead.

Not only was he very much alive, but he appeared to be the Mak Tokash of what was, to all appearances, a new gather: The Stone Tower Gather. He intimated that he had gathered many of the refugees from the Blood Lord’s attackers and forged them into a strong force. And now they had joined the fight.

More interesting, and troubling yet, the Malakaran Assassin who had killed Longtail and more recently helped end the assassin threat arrived with Grimbore bringing warning of an assassin in the area seeking a large target. Sadly, he arrived too late to save the Baron, but he elected to stay on and help out.

Hawksclaw met with Grimbore on the 3rd to strategize and our old friend, and fellow Ranger, agreed that it would be best to meet the enemy in the field. So, with that in mind, the various forces set to work reforging the armies into a cohesive force and making final preparations to repel the army of Darkness. All the while reports came in of the slowly tightening noose around the castle.

It was also on the 3rd that Hawksclaw requested Nell’s, the orc storm druid’s, presence on the field. I personally visited the sacred grove on our behalf and petitioned for her assistance. Not without reluctance, she agreed, more swayed by the plight of her people than any loyalty to our cause I suspect.

Even so, she and her party were the last to make it through enemy lines on the 9th before the northern road was completely cut off. Hawksclaw’s men were forced to sit and wait in the bitter cold for the final blow to fall even as every night men disappeared or were found torn to shreds.

The Lieutenant reported that morale was low, supplies failing, but the defenses were prepared to the best of their abilities. Slowly, over the next weeks, the enemy encircled and reduced the countryside. By the 25th, the Eckhart defenders could see nothing but enemy fires in all directions from the keep’s tower. That night, hordes of undead began striking their outermost defenses.

At dawn on the 26th, the final battle for Eckhart would begin.

It pains me that I am not with my men, standing to the hazard, but my place is here. If anyone can galvanize the reluctant nobles to war it must fall to me. More so, the summit is upon us and should it cost us the Eckhart lands, we cannot afford to lose three entire kingdom’s support. As my men, my family bleeds and dies, I feast…

It is hard, though, I see it now, to stand by while others do the dying. Hawksclaw’s final words haunt me still…

“We will hold.”

And hold he will, if it costs him everything.

My the ascended forgive me…

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Campaign Report 29 Addendum
Completion of the Road Project

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Southern way-station, Wildlands

Sixth Day of White Stagg, Year 3123 Under the Light

After the departure of my Rangers on the 33rd of Harvest Moons, I gathered with the Lord Mayor Von Haber and the chief members of our Merchants council to make final preparations to depart Echer’Naught for the long anticipated completion of the southern road project. Accompanied by Merchant House Guards and Von Haber’s personal retinue, we traveled south along the newly constructed road making excellent time.

We arrived late on the fifth day to find the representatives of Farwatch already in camp. Over the past month I have worked closely with the road engineers to create the seeds of what will some day become the southern road waystation. More in response to the attacks, but looking to the future I had the men construct an enclosed embrasure some fifty yards along the road and some thirty yards deep encircled by a dry moat four feet in depth, an earthen berm seven feet in height with headlogs protected by a thick carpet of abatis. At each angle I had placed dwarven scorpio, small ballista. I also instructed the engineers to create large firepits with overlapping field of illumination along the perimeter and braziers at regular intervals creating a near complete field of light within the camp at all hours. From Brother Alysar’s reports, I have well learned that light is the greatest bane to the forces of darkness. While it might not keep them at bay, it certainly steals from them their greatest asset, shadow.

Within this field fortification I had constructed large, well lit, tents, pavilions and flys for all manner of comfort. Each delegation was offered two enormous tents well large enough to house their diplomatic groups. Behind this rows of smaller, still large, tents were erected for the guards, soldiers, servants and aides to the various nobles, merchant lords and courtesans in attendance. Add to this a significant force of Olarans, dwarves, Merchant guards and, of course, the Rangers I had hoped to provide what security I might in such trying circumstances.

I had hoped to convince the Lord Mayor to cancel the event and begged that he arranged similar concessions on the part of Master Valarious. However, my entreaties were to little avail. And so, on the blustery evening of the 5th I found myself riding into the small fort.

Despite my trepidation, I was gladdened to see Longtail, not a week gone but already sorely missed. Also, my good friend and boon companion Thaleon with Sergeant Stormcrow at his elbow. Being among my true friends was a balm to my troubled soul.

I dismounted and greeted my old friends. Begging just a moment I, and my squire Alfred, stepped away to secure our honored charges and to see out hour horses. Then, once all was secured and the gate wagons had been rolled into place, I returned to the company of the Rangers.

I must confess that not since my days in the field during the War of Flame did I feel such a sense of easy camaraderie. There was the comely Goblin Gabby, Stormcrow and Thaleon, the Brinchie Darkstryke and the Paladin Soyrn. On my side, Alfred Ranger, Sergeant Lontail, Rildrirr and Evoran. The food was hot, the drink stout and the friendship genuine.

After a brief reunion, I dispatched our scouts, Darkstryke and Longtail to secure the perimeter. I confess Longtail’s affect on the opposite sex, especially those of her own race is…impressive. And troubling. Still, our tent secure, I brought out meeting to order.

What I learned from Sergeant Stormcrow filled me with dread. In the elven woods they encountered corrupted trees, beneath their feet in Farwatch they unearthed corrupted creatures of strange make and in a nearby town, more corruption, necromancy and possible corrupted wells. I revealed to them our own encounters with darkness and those reports Evoran had compiled. Little was clear save that Darkness was Rising.

After our intel share, we spoke of the event to come. I informed them that the delegates would begin their ceremony in the late morning, with the final laying of the stone to be at high noon. While the individual house guards and hired muscle would handle their personal security, our mission would be to secure the area to the east of the road from whence an attack would likely come.

I revealed to them my belief that given the high value of the potential targets so exposed here, I felt that it was far too tempting and offer for our foes. With that in mind, had the fort constructed in such a away as to make attack from any direction other than the east foolhardy and unlikely. With only one avenue of attack, I felt certain my Rangers could entrap the enemy, should he show his face, and annihilate any force before the lives of the dignitaries were jeopardized. Ideally, none should even be present, but if the politicians refused to abandoned their “moment” the least we could do would be to use the situation to our advantage.

With that, the Rangers all went on patrol while I and Rildrirr remained in the camp to forestall any night-time attempt. It appeared that my plans and precautions were successful as the night passed without incident. My Rangers did note the evidence of enemy forces close at hand, but no attack or attempt was made.

In the morning, on the 6th of White Stagg, my Rangers began preparations for the day and by mid morning, the dignitaries were safely escorted to a trio of raised and covered platforms from which to observe the proceedings. On schedule, the event began first with a historian from Echer’Naught speaking of the history of relations between Farwatch of the Wildlands and Echer’Naught of Olara. Following this speech the two chief engineers, both dwarves, from both ends of the road spoke each at length about the details of the road’s construction. Finally, Lord Mayor Von Haber and Master Valarious stepped onto the crimson carpet for the final moment, both grasping the final flagstone to be placed in the road for completion. It was at this moment, high noon, when the celebration was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a storm of crows appearing from east a thin line before filling the sky and blotting out the sun.

In the shadow beneath, creatures of Darkness surged as if from the very ground, charging from east into the line of green cloaks. As I spun in the saddle, I spied massive trolls, savage hobgoblins and Shayakar foot soldiers crashing into my Rangers in a wave of blackness and death.

So sudden did they appear and without so much as a whisper of warning that the politicians stood dumb for critical moments.

There were dozens, maybe a hundred or more and they overwhelmed our lines in seconds. Lontail was cut off and surrounded, as was Rildrirr. Stormcrow and Gabby fought back to back while Sotyr slashed and cut. To the south, Darkstryke fell back as an entire horde swung up from the flanks and cut off retreat. I spun and charged north, cutting off the northern encircling arm as Thaleon took the sky burning the Darkspawn with Archanon’s holy light.

Stormcrow and Gabby, working in unison felled a troll and reaped twice their number in hobgoblins. Rilrirr alone stood against a band of the beasts. Longtail, beset on all sides, slashed and parried, winnowing down her foes while Darkstryke cut beasts down with arrows. In the middle, Evoran, our last line hurled arcane bolts at the enemies.

One by one the agents of Darkness began to fall when something was spotted overhead like a falling star, all smoke and flame it crashed to earth throwing up gouts of dirt and flame nearly knocking us off our feet. Even as the battle raged round, a figure of brass and orange fire loomed out of the cloud of smoke and a Builder War Golem stepped out of the crater and turned toward Evoran.

I shouted and time seemed to slow.

Darkstrike was leaping on the southern most platform to get vantage on his enemies. Longtail, with Thaleon’s aid was just breaking free. Rildrirr’s sword, as if made of ice was slashing through a hobgoblins. Somewhere I could hear Stormcrow, Gabby and Sotyr shouting in triumph and pain. But, on Evoran’s face I saw shock and sudden dread as the shadow of the mechanical monster settled over him like the pall of the grave.

And then it fire…but not at the sorcerer, past his head. Twin beams of pure arcfire nearly as thick as a man’s torso slammed into the guard towers flanking the front gate of the field fort. One moment, they stood topped by half a dozen men each, and in the next heartbeat they disappeared in a cataclysm of fire and death.

And then the Golem began to move, a shambling step at first, it began to pick up steam charging straight for Evoren and the exposed camp beyond.

Ripping my blade from the corpse of a hobgoblin, I spun Thunder and charged across the field hoping desperately to intercept the monster before it crushed Evoran.

Around me, my Rangers held the line, throwing back the darkspawn with every moment. I screamed the order to fall back to the road, desperately hoping to snatch victory from defeat this day and save the lives of the men under my command. With reluctance, they obeyed.

Thunder’s muscles bunched beneath me as I covered the ground bewteen myself and the Golem. As I raised my father’s sword I shouted Archanon’s name praying for his strength to save my friend and Ranger. A heartbeat later, I slammed into the 14 foot monstrosity and brought the crackling blade down across it’s back.

What happened next, I only know from speaking with my men.

Somehow, my father’s blade breached the constructs defensive shields of protection and bit deep enough to rupture the arcfire generator which powered the Golem. In that moment, the entirety of the 14 foot beast erupted into a fireball in my face.

In the distance, I heard Evoran’s anguished scream as he was hurled back across the road by the force of the explosion. I vaguely remember seeing Longtail staggering through the smoke.

What I do know is that my Rangers, trained for this moment, fell back per my orders, drawing the darkness spawn into the road. I, with Archanon’s blessing, managed to teleport away from the explosion with Thunder and Longtail. Just in time, I saw the remaining half of the dark spawn approaching, feral hunger spread across their countenance.

Only then did the jaws of my trap close. As the moment they attacked, Eris Moonsilver contacted my squire, Alfred Ranger who stood by with a fist of Hammerfall Riders waiting in hiding to the north. With my command, they began their charge south.

As the hobgoblins and Shayakar stepped into the perfectly smooth and hard-packed road, they signed their own death warrants. Like a wave, the column of horsemen thundered down the road and shattered the dark spawn, churning them to bloody mash beneath their iron hooves. A few managed to crawl away from the slaughter, but they too fell by horse and bow.

And with that, the battle was done.

I turned, and much relieved, saw that none of our honored guests had been harmed, though they had been forced to take cover beneath the gate wagons. I fear what Master Valarious will say. No doubt he will work to expel the Rangers of Farwatch, though it was his and the Lord Mayor’s insistence to hold this event which endangered their lives.

Still, if he is man enough, he must admit that his dirty robes compare nothing to the lives of his men that were snatched away in his defense.

Doubtful.

As far as the Lord Mayor is concerned, I expected to receive quite a reprimand, though I feel more and more that the Lord Mayor sees myself and my Rangers as his few allies left in Echer’Naught. For that reason, I expect only a verbal reprimand. Time will tell.

Nevertheless, I immediately ordered Sergeant Stormcrow to escort his people out on the fastest horses and Sergeant Longtail to do the same. If we hurry, we can have our vital guests far away from here before nightfall. I will leave closing of the camps to the soldiers and servants.

Half the Hammerfall’s I sent with Thaleon to ensure safe travel. Half I took with me.

As for my Rangers, despite everything that has happened, they have a more pressing duty in Eckhart lands. I only pray that we can put and end to this threat of Darkness…before it costs us more than we can bear.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Southern Way-station, Wildlands

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Campaign Report 29
Hawksclaw Marches to War

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Twenty Seventh Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

May the Ascended forgive me for what I do.

This morning, I watched them, marching out to the beat of the drum. They held their banners high, spanning in the crisp, cold Winter winds. My hearts swelled to see my standard, my Father’s emblem whipping in the sky above the glistening spears beside the symbol of our order. And yet, my heart is heavy.

I would sooner take up lance and shield and til against every evil in the world than send those I have grown to love into death and worse. How can I be counted as a friend if I have just sacrificed my only family to the shadows?

I gave them two days, but only two to enjoy their nuptial. Corporal Longtail seemed to enjoy. I wish only I could give her more, but duty ever calls. As for Lieutenant Hawksclaw, he seems to be stepping up in every way, taking command and putting the unit to order.

In the wee hours of the 18th of Harvest Moons, I called Lieutenant Hawksclaw to my office to speak of plans for the winter campaign. I explained the situation with the Eckharts and provided him authorization from the Lord Mayor to raise an Echer’Naught Battalion of Freeman. I also provided a letter to the Hammerfall’s requesting their assistance and a contract request for the Longarms to secure supplies and wagon trains.

Hawksclaw accepted his new commission and taking the war purse, departed to gather Corporal Longtail for a night meeting with Sergeant Vasser. Apparently, Longtail had returned hours earlier to meet young Sarah to arrange for the grand opening of the orphanage.

As we spoke, riders arrived with the body of Rildrirr. He had been savagely wounded by Trogladesh while at the southern waystation fort. Though the wound had been healed, there was a residual poison that Olgor, Stormhammer and Sir Lugard worked feverishly to repair.

Our work in the south now urgent, I sent Longtail and Hawksclaw that very night to speak with Sergeant Vasser to make the appropriate arrangements. When they returned, they alerted me that Vasser had agreed to help in any way and a time was set for a couple of days, but that his wife was none too happy about our late night intrusions. We should send her a fruit basket.

With Rildrirr recovering, Evoran continuing his research into the “Butcher” and my other Rangers maintaining security in the town, I set about finalizing plans for the Road Project Completion Celebration and continuting to work on security for the upcoming summit. And trying not to feel guilty about thrusting so much on Hawksclaw’s shoulders.

It took a couple days to make all the arrangements, but on the 20th, our drive began early in the AM. Per normal, I called my Rangers together to discuss plans and make preparations. But first, by Hawksclaw’s recommendation, Longtail was promoted to Sergeant with all right and responsibilities. Hawksclaw presented her ring personally.

I am unclear how happy she was to receive the promotion, but I know well that she is more than capable and deserving. With that business handled, I explained to each their roles in the proceedings. Hawksclaw and I would head directly to the muster grounds where pavilions had been erected for the event. Shortly after, Evorn and Longtail would join us. Evorn was handle logistics, Hawksclaw would be in command and Longtail would…recruit.

After our fast was broken, Lt. Hawksclaw and I rode to the grounds dressed in our finest dress uniforms. I was inordinately pleased to see my own House crest emblazoned on his forest green cloak. We arrived and Hawksclaw was immediately swamped with requests, pleas and questions. I, for one, was amused and proud to see him so easily take command. Were I his father I could be no more pleased in his accomplishments.

I, not in command for once, stepped to speak with the Hammerfall’s and a few others before returning to the manor as to not overshadow my rising lieutenant. As I rode away, I looked back to see the easy friendship between Vasser and Hawksclaw and I had a sudden pang of loss for my brother Hammerfall’s lost so long ago.

After I departed, Evoran arrived in new, exquisitely tooled robes and took charge of the record keeping and paperwork. I learned soon after that Longtail arrived in “attire” and went about “stirring the men.” I am unsure if that is the best way of recruitment, but I cannot argue with the results.

What I did not know, was that Stormhammer encouraged Rildrirr to attend, wounded as he was. Apparently, the young Northman made quite an impression on the local boys, challenging a number of personal combat. The dual affect of the sumptuous sergeant and the imposing barbarian was too enticing for many to refuse.

After a day of recruitment, there were more than 500 names on the roster, though it would fall to Evoran to weed out those unfit for duty. I learned also that our “friend” Fateweaver made an appearance and an offer. Later, Hawksclaw informed me that he was enlisting a number of questionable soldiers who elected military service rather than jail time. It is a time honored tradition and one I deferred entirely to the young commander.

That evening, after the drive was finishing, Lt. Hawksclaw sought out Sophia Longarm of the Longarms and finalized the contract for her company’s services. It was a high prices, but well worth the men and goods. He then attended the Chapel of Light and spoke with Valandrian to secure healers and priests. As happened, before he departed, Alystar made arrangements for a unit of the Church to be dispatched south. They would ride with our men.

As this was happening, Longtail approached the Royal Sheriff Halten about the wanted men.

She found him with his men carousing at the Barracks. By all accounts the meeting was civil, if strained. By her words, he supported our actions and was more than happy to ship troublemakers off to die in someone else’s war. That agreement secured, all Rangers returned to manor to begin final preparations.

When Hawksclaw returned I had the honor of presenting him with papers for a small townhouse in the Elven Alienage. I encourage that he and Eris should see it before he departed. On my leave, he did so. I cannot say his impression, but upon his return, he signed the papers becoming a home owner. He had spoken with me of bringing his family to Echer’Naught. I have already put that into motion. I hope to have them here, well secured by Spring.

I did discover that Longtail presented Hawksclaw with a priceless gift. Something I will leave to my Rangers to speak of. I will say only that I am thrilled and warmed by the love and respect my men share with each other. As a commander, I could ask for nothing more.

Had you asked me a year ago, I could never have imagined to be where I am today. I have a squire of superb skill and dedication in Alfred Ranger. Not just a fine horseman, but a good man. Honorable, truthful and fearless. I count both Rah-sahn and Aradove as kinsmen. They and all of their family. I see them, standing proud, heaping acclaim and honor on the Wolfhaven name. I have a home filled with friends and family. Even the taciturn Rildrirr and the near drunken Camonese I count among that number.

I command a larger region than any man of my blood had since the beginning and I now stand at the center of Echer’Naught, my name respected, my opinions sought. When I left the Hammerfall’s I hoped never to command again. Today, I could not imagine my life as any other way.


From the 21st to the 27th, was a blur of activity, too numerous to recount. Wagons, supplies, men, horses, weapons, treaties, contracts, bills of sale, agreements, meetings and declarations of support; all things were gathered for an army in the field. And, we did so in a fraction of the time as I have ever witnessed.

But, by the evening of the 26th, I sat with my entire team, eating, drinking and making merry. We spoke of past glories and new deeds to come. Longtail and Streetrunner sat close, as did Hawksclaw and Moonsilver. Rildrirr seemed much recovered and anxious to move out. Evoran had a new task to research, how to remove corruption from living trees, something Longtail requested and he seemed in his element. Even young Alfred and Sarah enjoyed a drink together. I see in them a similar friendship blossoming that Longtail and Hawksclaw share. Not without attraction, but with a deep mutual trust and respect.

After dinner, I thank them all for their service and outlined the march to follow:
Lieutenant Hawksclaw would take Sergeant Longtail. Ranger 1st Class Rildrirr, Ranger Evoran and Sir Lugard with him.
They would lead:
500 men of Echer’Naught’s battalion
50 priests, paladins and adepts of the Jade flame under Priest Bernard and Paladin Reinholdt
200 Hammerfall Riders
Longtails ’dirty dozen" counting around 25
50 wagons under guard by the Longarms

Gendarre and his men, Alfred, Sara, Olgor, and Stormhammer would remain with me to help secure the town. Sergeant Vasser also remained to manage the town watch for the upcoming Summit.

In the crisp, clear morning of the 27th of Harvest Moons, Lt. Hawksclaw gave the order, and the army filed out through the southern gate, banners cracking in the breeze as they wended their way south to war.

I stood with Eris Moonsilver, who refused to remain behind and miss seeing Hawksclaw march away. Long after the army disappeared from sight, I stood watching, thinking. So often my own family had stood on the balcony watching as my father, brothers and I rode away to untold horrors.

I know now that no matter how terrible it may be for those heading into the jaws of hell, it is far, far worse for those left behind…

With a sad heart, I turned and headed to speak to the Lord Mayor. On the 6th of White Stagg, a ceremony in honor of the road project’s completion was scheduled to happen in the very heart of the recent unrest. I set off to dissuade the Lord Mayor for attending the event, and short of that, ensuring his safety.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Campaign Report 28
New Beginnings and Rising Darkness

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Sixteenth Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016WerewolfJJAlt.jpg

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

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

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

That was a very sleepless night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Campaign Report 27
Homecoming

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Fourth Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It felt good to just work; good honest labor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then I heard her…Ranger Aradove Longtail…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ranger Allied Personnel
Sergeant Luc Gendarre
Gendarre’s four troops

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we have each other. And that is enough.

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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