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

Campaign Report 14
The End of All Things

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Korg Humps, Wildlands

Jubilation Day-the Sixteenth Day, Red Wolf, Year 3123 Under the Light

Days like these come once in a thousand lifetimes, where a chosen few stand before the fury of oblivion, beaten and bloodied but undaunted. To have stood among such a company will carry a man through any trial to come, for what greater accolade could he have but to say, “I was there.”?

For me, it began simply enough.

I followed a Goblin into a hole in the ground.

As detailed in a report of the 14th of Red Wolf, a report now in the hands of Ranger Rildrirr and on its way to Echer’Naught, I, in the company of a small team of newly minted Rangers, headed south by south-west of the Elven Waystation along the Greenway road.

We travelled through a gale of growing intensity, nearly drowned to death standing in our own boots. Yet, with Archanon’s Light and some luck, we happened upon a battle in process. I will leave off here, for that ground has already been trod, but establishes the beginning of my tale.

On the Morning of the 15th day of Red Wolf, a day that will ring down through history until the true breaking of the world, I, along with Rildrirr, StripedClaw, and Crag awoke, and, led by a nervous Goblin known only as Nit, headed further south into the outskirts of Landra’Feya. Whether we crossed out of the Wildlands before we spotted the fortresses’ spire, I can honestly not say, only that we crept under the cover of the Elven Forest’s leafy bower, our only sanctuary from the storm clouds overhead.

And it was there that we found what I refer to as the Western Storm Druid’s lair. As I have outlined in previous reports, Members of a band of Ranger heroes led by the Aevakar Zaro had already tackled and defeated, if not killed, a Storm Druid somewhere outside of Farwatch. So, too, had my men of Echer’Naught hunted, and with some loss of life, brought low a second Storm Magus who at first used my former home as his filthy hiding hole and then attempted to turn my town into some form of dark, evil portal. Even now, I can only assume Corporal Hawksclaw and Ranger 1st Class Highwall are somewhere far to the east of Echer’Naught…perhaps even so far as Harken.

I pray to the Light that he finds them safe. Longtail as well, for whom I have begun to despair. But should she be counted among the fallen, her death will be avenged.

With two of the four conspirators dispatched, a third either handily dealt with or soon to be, I focused on the fourth and last villain as I stood just outside his fortress with rain matting my hair and Ranger cloak to my drenched armor.

StripedClaw scouted ahead and quickly returned with his usual quizzical expression. I have known him only a few days, but I begin to wonder if that might be his normal expression. Regardless, his return was far less surreptitious than his approach. I soon understood why.

Entering through a mangled and scorched entrance which might once have held a mighty iron bound oak door, we found ourselves in a small courtyard littered with debris, weapons, gear and some blown over tents. Having spent most of my life in and among the military I quickly deduced that this had been a rather large encampment…two actually.

Clearly this had once been the home of the broken and scattered band of Maelstrom forces we had temporarily been forced to ally ourselves with the day prior, though they appeared to have been ousted months ago. In their stead was a much more haphazard assortment of tents and encampments. Not true soldiers these new inhabitants, mercenaries and madman more like.

Still, neither Maelstrom nor Storm-maddened warrior was to be found living within. There were some corpses, some fresh, some weeks old, but nothing living moved with that charnel house. Continuing on, our weapons at the ready, we entered the weathered keep to find more of the same, evidence of a month old battle, detritus of two inhabiting forces and everywhere the distinct lack of sanity I have come to associate with those in league with the Storm Mages.

At this point, Nit’s courage fled him and, with a final squeak, he turned and fled. And yet, I saw where his eyes had fallen. A doorway leading to where, I did not know.

Pushing forward, our sinews strained to the snapping point, my new Ranger Trainees followed me through the door and down into madness.

The wall dripped with water as if the underground staircase was exposed to the driving rain above. Stranger yet, we began to feel gust of wind tug at our cloaks and our hair even as we delved further beneath the surface. Soon, the regularity of the stone steps gave way to more uneven, natural stone formations. At some point in the long distant past, the ancient architect had clearly built his home atop a fortress of nature’s crafting.

Our footsteps led us ever down until we came to an underground cavern lit by madly flicking lanterns which swung and creaked on rusted metal rings, caught in a savage summer gale. Large, perhaps the size of the sanctuary of Echer’Naught’s chapel of Light, the chamber was formed from natural rock, carved by Dranak’s hands. And in the center, a rent in stone floor, a hole that had been added to, like the wall of a well without the well-house or bucket.

And standing just behind was the Storm Druid, hair being whipped into a frenzy by the impossible winds blasting from the very earth. He looked at me, lighting flashing in his eyes and screamed insanities about the new god and the time had come. Even as we raised our weapons to charge, he hurled himself into the void and disappeared just as had the others before…well almost.

In surprise we skidded to stop as the winds began to swirl faster and faster, forming something like a cyclone IN the hole. My men, uncertain, looked to me for orders and for the first time in my life, I had none to give…

And then I heard it.

A horn. A pure clarion sound, ringing through the roar of the wind and the thunder of my own heart. A note so sweet and pure, for a moment, I forgot about all.

The Horn.

I have heard tales. Of men, at the end, facing their own demise and the destruction of all they hold dear, filled with a silver light so intense that nothing, not death, not Darkness, not fate itself could stand before their righteous fury.

The Horn. And it was calling to me.

I turned now, glancing over my shoulder at the expression of incomprehension on the faces of those I had led here. And I knew, this battle was mine. I removed my satchel and handed it to Rildrirr and with it, my reports, my orders, everything that Hawkclaw or he, if both Hawksclaw and Highwall had fallen, would need to carry on in my stead.

I said, “See them safely home; the caravan, your men. Wait for me in Echer’Naught. If you do not hear from me in a week’s time. Tell Stormhammer…tell him to carry on.”

Rildrirr merely clasped his hand to his chest, bowed, and said, “It will be done.”

As I turned back to the portal, the surety of what I was about to do hardening my resolve, I saw her. The Silver Unicorn…as a ghostly mirage of the purest moonlight, bowing to me. But did I see sadness in her soft eyes?

Perhaps. But I knew my duty. And so…

…I leaped.

I wish to describe in exacting detail exactly what I felt in this moment, what I perceived. Alas, I cannot. The human mind is simply ill equipped to process such things. Know only that for a heartbeat I did not exist, but existed everywhere. That I was out of time, and at the same, out of time itself.

It lasted an eternity, but only a heartbeat.

And then, in a flash of lightning and thunder, I was hurled back into reality.

My first impression was the flash of lighting blinding me as my boots struck something solid. I opened my eyes, blinking back the stars and the sounds of combat rushed in on my overtaxed senses. In an instant I absorbed my surroundings as time seemed, for a moment, to stand still.

I was inside a large cathedral, stone I think, domed ceiling high overhead. Sounds echoed and rang as if the space was very large. Ahead of me, I saw a Storm Magus flanked by two elite guards…and before that a shield wall of human mercenaries. Around me, Lighting Elementals hovered and sparked.

A glance over my shoulder revealed another line of men, but facing away. And beyond them, at the far end of the huge floor a swarm of The Drowned, pour lost souls who lived in torment half drowned but never allowed the peace of death. These damned were surrounding a group of warriors, men and women…Rangers.

I smiled.

Even at the end of all things. We stood together.

My eyes came around and locked with the Storm Magus. Kill the Mage. Kill the Spell.

I charged, Archanon’s name on my lips, as I raised my father’s sword high, its fine blade wreathed in the blue light of the Church of Light.

Instantly, a nimbus of scorching light engulfed my body as I surged forward throwing myself at my enemies. I collided into them, swinging with all the strength I possessed. Today, the Wolfhaven name would be heralded among heroes again.

Even as I charged, my brothers in arms charged with me. At that moment I did not know their names only that we shared the most sacred bond any two can share. Only later did I learn, and I will not soon forget those who shared the field that day.

Maeve O’Halloran, the female human Priest of Light and her steed Justice

Alraune the Bloodrose, the female human War Mage

Ivan “the Lighthouse” Sokolov, male ogre, and drunken Master Warrior

Zori the Red Lyre, the male (I think) alakar Adept and Bard

My charge took me within arm’s reach of the lead Storm Magus, but his men stepped into my path, blocking my way and quickly surrounding me. Their sword blows fell like the rains of a storm, battering me down, always seeking, questing for a lapse in my defense, or a chink in my armor. In moments, I was in mortal danger

But behind me, my brothers and sisters had seen my arrival, and quickly understood my danger.

Even as the Drowned swarmed them, clawing at them with their clammy, water bloated limbs, a Wind Rider flew across the field and charged into their ranks along with three Lighting Elementals. The Rangers and heroes lashed out with blade and hoof, striking down Drowned even as more shuffled to take their place.

Ivan, the largest of the heroes was quickly targeted by repeated attacks, but the massive ogre weathered the storm and shook off their blows and magic like a dog shaking water. Swinging his improvised ogre maul around him with surprising speed and grace he dispatched the Wind Rider in a single blow and all but a few of the Drowned were given final peace.

Free now, all but the Bard Zori charged forward, throwing themselves at the line of mercenaries between them and myself.

Facing a raging ogre and Maeve riding Justice with Alraune riding along as well, the line of mercs were scattered like leaves before the gale. Maeve on Justice circled to the right, avoiding the strange large arcane device that dominated the center of the room. Ivan circled to the left. And suddenly, the worm turned.

Any soldier that survives even a few engagements gains a sense of the ebb and flow of battle. Like tide rising and falling on a beach, we instinctively begin to understand the moments when our forces are cresting like a wave, or running like the outgoing tide. I could see in the eyes of men around me that they knew their cause was lost. So I seized upon the moment.

I stepped back, shouted above the screams, and the rattle of arms, above the energy of the room’s massive portal which flashed with lighting one second, then followed with a sucking vortex the next. I implored them, telling them their cause was madness and, would they but lay down their arms, I guaranteed them full quarter. I begged them to follow me… to end the insanity. The discussion was brief and in the end, whether swayed more by my words or their own fear, they turned on their former masters and joined our side.

With that, the battle was won, but the war raged on. Ivan crashed through the ranks of mercenaries like a landslide, knocking them aside with sweeps from his massive weapon. Maeve, atop Justice, with Alraune at her back, rode down men, her white silver mace flashing bright in the ever increasing flashes of the room’s central conduit of power.

Alone now, Zori battled the Drowned, buying us time to defeat the Storm Magus. Together, the others joined me and my new squad, surrounding the Magus and his last two elite guards, his other forces dead or scattered. To their credit, his men stood firm against our might, though I fear their will had long since been subsumed by the madness of storms, as I could see the spark of lighting in their eyes.

Our contest was brutal and sharp, but soon, his men fell, leaving him alone. Only then did he realize his error and attempted to flee, but there was no escape. In a hail of hooves, swords, and mauls he fell dead upon the floor. And so, the battle of the Storm temple was won.

But the war for Shaintar raged on.

In other place, on other battlefields, at that very moment, many heroes fought and died railing against the same insurmountable odds only to find themselves also at the precipice.

Weary and battered, we stood over the body of the Storm Magus and I suddenly began to feel that pull, that unmistakable sense of moving and yet standing still. I looked into the eyes of my new companions and saw in them the same determination that burned in mine.

Turning, I addressed the six men who had joined with me. To any who would follow me, I offered a year’s wages. They had shown enough courage that day and I knew we would need all the allies we could muster. Greed quickly overcame better judgment and with white knuckled hands gripping weapons, they stepped up.

Turning now to my fellow Rangers with a nod, I surrendered to fate.

Zap!

Reality shattered.

If my previous experience had been a raging Storm, this was truly a Tempest.

We were hurled through time and space, through reality and oblivion, from this world into realms unknown.

When my senses righted themselves this time, they were assaulted by a tableau, so alien, so bizarre that my mind very nearly fled. For a few of those who had followed me, the terror was simply too great. They broke and ran. Where they planned to go, who can say.

I will try, as best I might with the limited scope my tongue has at its disposal to describe the scene around me.

We, my men and I, found ourselves on a planescape of blood red earth. Strange, impossible maelstroms, like roiling storms, but ripping across the ground at impossible angles, shrieking and screaming tore at us, pulling us off our feet. Ahead and to my left, a strange swirling vortex of energy, swirling and churning, framed by a red-stone arch. And spilling out, a golden light, but not of purity, of such unimaginable insanity, I cannot put into words. It ripped out our souls, tearing and shearing. Worst of all, shuffling along this horrible scape were man-like creatures sparking with the mad storm’s energy… Volt men.

And that was only the first. Like a patchwork quilt but not of the fabrics of cotton and wool, but of the threads binding reality, before me stretched pieces and parts of other, alien worlds, mashed together in an eyebleeding array of terrains, environments and creatures.

Just beyond the horror of the red storms lay a dull brown land of chasms and roaring winds. And beyond that, a strange flat land of sparking towers and builder-like devices of power and magnitude on a scale I can scarcely comprehend. Further on, at the extreme of my vision lay gray stone towers and something so far distant that I barely discerned the purple, white of the spire that seemed to be the anchor.

Every fiber of my being screamed at the wrongness of everything around me, as if this place was trying to reject me, remake me into something horrific and twisted, so much like the Storm mad Druids and Mages I had faced and the poor Drowned souls in the ancient temple I had, but moments ago, been standing within. And everywhere I looked, monsters and creatures beyond nightmare arrayed like an army against us.

My heart quailed. How could mortals survive such things?!

And yet, even here, I could hear the voices of my comrades being joined by others, men, elves, ogres and a brinchie all there in this place.

One by one, vorping in flashes of lighting.

Dane Landen, human paladin wielding the enemies’ own weapons, appeared vaporizing two voltmen with orange blasts from his twin handcasters.

Macha Panta the 21st Royal Bloodline of Eon’Voltuh appeared and closed with his foes, scrambling up to meet them.

Grek, ogre behemoth with his trusted goat companion Tina, the barded goat, appeared and crushed three Voltmen before they could even react.

Zori appeared and attacked a voltman, but the blow slid passed.

Liarra Byrne, the female human Adept appeared and fired a bolt of pure psionic energy at a voltman, but in the alien environ, the magic twisted away.

Ivan blasted into existence at a run, charging forward.

Lady Alraune appeared and advanced on the horde of voltmen, closing.

And last, Maeve appeared astride Justice, charging forward.

Scattered and disorganized, we were almost instantly swarmed by the hordes of sparking voltmen the moment we appeared.

Recovering most swiftly, Grek swept voltmen from his path with seeming ease as he began to lumber forward, his massive form towering over the field. Maeve and Justice thundered forward, slashing at voltmen as they rode. Alraune slashed a foe and advanced. At the same moment, a Light blasted from Dane as Zori raised bow to loose an arrow. Light and missile met, fusing into a shining torch which streaked across multicolored sky, passing from this realm to the next before slamming into a massive Lighting Elemental the size of a behemoth ogre standing atop some form of Builder generator. Light met lighting in an explosion of fire and electricity. For a moment, the world went white and when the sparks cleared from my eyes for the third time this day, I saw the huge, mechanical tower topple over, crushing a group of human looking warriors beneath. A cheer rose from our forces. Then something happened, whether it was Liarra’s magic, Zori’s shot or Dane’s Light, I cannot say, but the soul sucking portal to my left shifted and altered and I could see pulses of energy passing from that portal all the way across the horrible landscape to another like portal beneath the gray stone towers. I formed my squad and attacked the Voltmen closing around some of my companions. In that instant, Liarra fired a telekentic bolt at a distant foe and then LEAPED into the portal!

My heart lurched!

A heartbeat later the burrowing ogre, Ovgol leapt as well, disappearing from my sight.

Dane, charging, blasted two more voltmen with his handcasters then leapt through the portal. Ivan, charging across the field like an avalanche through a forest of saplings, brushing aside any and all foes, then leapt into the portal. Turning to my men, I shout, “Do you want to live forever?!” and, displaying the courage I hoped to find in my own heart… I too leaped.

The transition was so swift I did not have time to feel myself be torn asunder and remade. I was spat out of the distant portal like a bolt fired from a crossbow, my men behind me. Instantly, as if guided by my own will, they formed around me in perfect ranks, our boots in perfect step, we charged the first line of enemies we spied. Caught completely off-guard by our near miraculous appearance, they had no time to react. We hit them at speed, shattering their ranks.

My way clear, I looked up to take in the sight before me, and I stopped, stunned. To my right a tower topped by Lightning Elementals and Storm Magus. To my left a larger tower with the same. Before me, hundreds of yards ahead over unbroken terrain a line of the Storm’s Vanguard of Fury, their strange lighting rod weapons pointed at us with unwavering precision. But all this fled from my thoughts the instant I spied the scene beyond.

That huge, purple white tower I had seen from so far away rose into the sky, its crenelated top disappearing in a raging tempest storm of a size and magnitude…I simply do not have the words. At the base of the tower sat a pool of power and energy, like a reservoir of magic, but wrong and sickening. It sapped my strength to merely look up it. And around it, the most powerful and elite guards and Storm mages I have yet faced. But that was not what gave me pause.

A figure I saw, bound by invisible bonds, suspended spread eagle between stone towers, held captive by Storm creatures for which I have no name.

Shayline.

Rage burst forth in my chest the likes I have not felt since the night my family perished in the fires of Flame.

She was weak, as if her life was being drawn out into the pool. I took a step forward, but Liarra moved faster. Looking up, the young adept… moved. I could feel it, though I know not how. Liarra moved through space, time, and magic. And in an instant of pure love, of pure sacrifice, Shayline vanished… only to be replaced by Liarra.

One of our own.

This would not stand.

The world, or whatever makeshift abomination of a realm where we stood, groaned and shook as Liarra began to wrestle for control.

Ovgol broke right, crashing into a line of Vanguard, sweeping them from the field. Warping through the portal, Zori enhanced an arrow with power, fired, blasted an elemental into sparks. Macha Panta leapt through the portal, charging into the Vanguard. Grek turned, crushing a Voltman, then, snapping his goat up to cradle in his massive arms, let himself be pulled through the portal bellowing, “Hold on, Tina!”.

Enraged, Macha Panta leapt my line and charged the open ground alone, trying to reach Liarra. He alone faced fourteen Lighting Vanguard who lowered their rods. Fourteen beams of pure, elemental energy flashed across the field, converging on Macha who was immediately engulfed in a conflagration brighter than the sun.

I turned away, shielding my face from the glare, even as tears stung my eyes. In that moment, I knew a great hero had fallen for nothing, not even my ogre companions could survive such power. And then, we heard the roar as Macha Panta, 12th in the Panta line, appeared above the heads of the Vanguard, his fur in flames, but his eyes alight. A cheer rose from every throat as he fell among them, slashing this way and that, felling three in a single motion.

The last of our company to break from the Voltmen, Alraune sprinted for the portal and was whisked across the field, to land in our midst. One man alone, overcome by sheer terror at the mind-warping effects of this place, Mikey, one of my mercs, remained alone behind. All others stood with me, facing the pool of power, Liarra’s struggling form…and the end of everything we know and love.

Coming out of the portal, Alraune appeared, power infusing her like an overflowing geyser, she wove enegy like thread, pouring it into the others. Though my connection with the Horn, I could feel just a fraction of the energy spilling from her. Each and every caster, adept, and mage within our ranks suddenly burst into tendrils of pure, undiluted power.

Above our heads, on the towers flanking our position, a Storm Mage caught my forces clumped tightly together. Lighting ripped over us. Four of my men were instantly overwhelmed, two more from those brought by Ovgol. While a few of the heroes were driven to their knees none fell.

As her friends were bathed in lighting, Liarra desperately fought for control. For a moment, the enemy seemed to overtake her, but suddenly she flashed bright with a blue light that burst from her like a wave, passing over the field of battle. Shining like a star, Liarra began to wrest control of fate from the hands of those who would destroy.

Closing, desperately attempting to prevent our reaching Liarra, summoned elementals slammed Macha Panta, Ovgol and Grek with bolts of lightning. In response, Grek turned, reaching up and hooking his polearm on the crenelated peak of the right tower, he hauled himself up and swept two mages and their elemental from the top in a single mighty swipe of his arm. They tumbled, screaming, to the ground below.

Through a break in the line of his own creation, Macha Panta leaped up on the edge of the pool and hurled one of the binding mages into its vortex of energy. The man’s body was ripped apart, his soul scattered as he died, shrieking.

Raising his twin ’casters, Dane took a bead on the two Storm Magi binding Liarra and fired. They disappeared in orange light.

Time slowed again, as around me, my allies, friends, companions and men struggled and fought, holding back the hordes of enemies closing in around. I looked up and saw pain and determination on Liarra’s face and heard the mad cackling of the Storm Mages as they summoned power from their foreign god.

You see, a soldier learns to feel the ebb and flow of battle. And a good soldier can sense the moments when the tide beings to turn. Dropping wearily to one knee, forehead pressed against the cool hilt of my father’s sword, I cried out to Archanon, Father of Light, to give what strength remained within me to Liarra, for all of Shaintar would share her fate, for good or for ill.

As Light once again engulfed me and my essence began flow away like a river, I could feel others around me tapping their own power.

Ovgol, channeling his power through the ground and up into Liarra.

Alraune, bursting with power, rejected the aesthetics, the wrongness of it all, pulling here, threading there, and weaving a tapestry of beauty in that horrid place.

On my orders, behind me, Ivan slammed his massive fists into the ground with the force of Dranak, pouring his power of quake through Ovgol’s underground channels, drawing power from Alraune, he shattered the foundations of the Storm Tower. Cracking, breaking and crumbling, the huge edifice listed slowly to the side, huge chunks flying apart, crashing into the ground, scattering enemy soldiers. With one final, horrendous explosion of lightning, shattered stone shards and screaming Storm Magi, it crashed into the ground sending out buffeting waves of gale force winds and arcing electricity. Unfinished, Ivan slammed again, this time blasting the leftmost, squat tower into pieces, sending the enemy flying in all directions as dust and stone rained down on our heads.

Glowing with power, Zori reached out, sending blue energy in streams to meet the white light pouring from me and mixing with the underground rivers of power, all flowing into the body of Liarra who began to glow with an orchestra of colors. The world around us began to shake, pieces of reality falling away as her power began to peak.

At the last moment, Maeve charged forward, pure healing light pouring from her, mixing and blending with the streams and arcs of power flowing from every hero into Liarra.

The girl’s body arced as her power overloaded and the stress became too great.

And the question. One not spoken, but felt. Felt by every man and woman in that place, a question that echoed out through time, to the very founding of the world and all the way until the day that world ends.

A question on which the lives of every soul within the world, good or evil, powerful and weak alike rested.

A single question.

“What fate do you choose?”

And then she spoke.

“I seal away this place, and the storm… leaving only one small portal so the souls of the heroes here may return home.”

Faith. Channeling. Sorcery. The Way. Courage. Sacrifice. Loyalty. And Love.

Know this. Let it be carried to every corner of the world. On this day. The day our world stood at the brink of oblivion. It was hearts of heroes that faced annihilation and refused to fall.

We woke, lying reposed on a field of green grass under a cloudless blue sky, a gentle summer breeze caressing our cheeks. We were not a stone’s throw from the Korg Humps. We woke to a land healed, a land of plenty and beauty. A land unsoiled by the Storm.

I have led armies, faced horrors of Darkness and Flame, but I have never commanded a force of men and women so dedicated, so willing to give their all, not just their lives, but everything for the sake of those they love.

I make this vow. From this day to my last, I will do nothing but earn the respect and faith placed in me. For at the end of all things, I had the honor and the privilege to lead them, the Legio Heroes. Legion of Heroes.

Your obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Korg Humps, Wildlands

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Campaign Report 13
Western Storms

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Somewhere South of the Greenway Road, near the border between the Wildlands and Landra’Feya

Fourteenth Day, Red Wolf, Year 3123 Under the Light

We took four days to recover from the events of the second storm to strike Echer’Naught. From the 29th of Planting Moons to the 10th day of Red Wolf, my Rangers scrambled to burn the bodies of the dead, gather the wounded, the orphans and the livestock and begin the rebuilding process. With so much destruction, and the storms even now increasing, I fear my town may never recover.

With each orphan we rescue, I think more and more of Longtail. Still not word. I am truly concerned, bordering on despair. It is unthinkable that in such a short time I would have grown so fond of the men and women under my command, but that is my nature. I will find her if it takes me a lifetime.

But time marches on.

Healed, but different in a way I cannot understand, Hawksclaw returned to duty and has led all efforts to right the wrongs having been done. I know the loss of the four Watchmen affected him deeply and I was pleased to see that he, personally, spoke to each family and provided solace. He has grown deeply spiritual, especially since his encounter on the tower.

Highwall seems to have new life. I like the change and the leadership he showed during the battle. I am also curious about his arrangement with the Smith. I know that for a time, it was something of a punishment, but he seems to have blossomed under the tutelage. With his knack for mechanical, technical and literary tasks, I am considering a position within the staff support structure here in Echer’Naught. He may prove one day to fulfill Stormhammer’s position…or Olgor’s.

As for Rildrirr, I know these battles have cost him even as he tries to adjust to his new life. He may find that he gets more bees with honey. And I fear that patience is not his strong suit. However, for a more loyal and stalwart warrior I could not ask. His conduct during the entire episode was exemplary. And for that reason, I have chosen for him to accompany me. I would also like the opportunity to get to know the big man better. In me he may find a kindred spirit.

Stormhammer is just miffed he missed the fun and Olgor complains constantly of the effect the rains have on his bones.

Finally, on the 10th, I could wait no longer. I feared the Magus had already fled beyond our reach, but it could not be helped. We had been in no condition to go and Echer’Naught was in no condition for us to leave.

That morning, before daybreak, Rildrirr and I road out of the Elven Gate onto the Greenway Road striking out east. The rains had already begun again and soon, our horses waded through water passed their forelocks. It was a miserable ride, but one in which we made decent time despite the weather.

It is frightful indeed when this mighty ancient highway begins to churn and turn impassable.

Following the map directions taken from Storm Magus, we headed straight for the Elven Waystation. My idea was to turn south there, but to my surprise, the Waystation was already occupied. Who would be insane enough to venture into this weather, I wondered.

As it happened, a travelling caravan of Dwarves had tried to make it to Echer’Naught with a load of salt when the storms worsened. They had been trapped for days. The Caravan master was at his wits end. But, by a stroke of luck, I happened to find LongArm guardmens with the caravan. A tough dwarf named Crag and a lithe brinchie named StripedClaw. Seeing the brinchie brought a pang to my breast, but I made an effort to hide it.

With Rildrirr seeing to our comfort, I made arrangements to hire the LongArm caravan guardsmen and both readily agreed. I promptly deputized them into the Rangers and presented their apprentice cloaks. It then occurred to me that Rildrirr deserved a full promotion, but that would have needs wait. This was on the night of the 12th of Red Wolf. The following morning, the 13th, we all rose and headed south. For two days we rode through horrible weather, the LongArms turned Rangers jogging along side.

As we closed on the area I believed the Storm Magus to be operating, I sent StripedClaw on ahead, as we followed more slowly. It was not long before he returned with a perplexed look. It appeared that the Storm Magus was in attendance, but was already battling another force…and another Cyclone was forming.

I pushed forward, crossing a swollen river where Rildrirr was forced to carry Crag across. Once on the other side, I ordered my men to move forward and focus in on the Storm Magus. Again, ahead, StripedClaw dissappeared on his task of flanking the enemy…only to quickly reappeared even more confused than ever.

From his report, I was shocked to learn that the Storm Magus was attacking a camp of soldiers, Maelstrom soldiers. My men looked to me, for I could see in their eyes that my companions had served in the War of Flame and did not relish joining forces with the Maelstrom. And yet, the enemy of my enemy…

We pressed the attack, Crag making the first attack, killing two storm mercs, but himself being hurled into the trees by a savage gust of wind. Soon the rest of us joined the battle and closed in on the Magus.

StripedClaw struck him first, but was almost instantly stuck by the magus’ evil lighting. Looking like a puffed up tabby, StripedClaw quickly changed tactics. Meanwhile, I and Rildrirr engaged a lighting elemental and a storm rider. All the while, the storm mercs continued hacking through the Maelstrom lines.

As quickly as he had been dashed, Crag returned with a vengeance, bringing low more of the storm soldiers. I dispersed the storm rider and Rildrirr an elemental. StripedClaw tried again and was hurled into the river for his temerity.

Seeing the situation, the leader of the Maelstrom took flight, leaving his men to die. Meanwhile, the magus hurled bolt after bolt of lighting, missing Rilrirr and then Crag. With extreme effort, we finally managed to destroy the last elemental and surround the Magus.

Like the others, this one took flight, but not before Crag got a good hold of his robe and hacked away at his legs. Rildrirr and StripedClaw struck, but to little avail. A Storm Magus again evaded capture and fled.

Our prize snatched from our grasp, our attention turned to the last of the storm soldiers. Between the might of Crag, the power of Rildrirr and the speed of StripedClaw, they fell in short order leaving a single Storm bowmen and three battered, bruised and wary Maelstrom warriors.

The storm mercenary saw an opportunity to escape and took it without hesitation. However, the Maelstrom stood their ground, waiting for the end. Though I knew them for what they were, they had done no ill that I knew of and had fought bravely in their way. For that, I offered them their lives, but with a warning that should they ever return to this or any land not their, I would hunt them down and destroy them.

They took their leave quickly and dispersed into the forest.

As we stacked the bodies for burning, and Rildrirr went about looting, a skill he no doubt learned from the Kal, I noted an odd bundle in the Maelstrom camp. Pointing it out, StripedClaw approached and heard moaning and slight movement from the leather sack. With great caution, he cut the binding open and a very hot, very sweaty and very irritated goblin spilled out.

He claimed his name was Nit and that he had been captured by the Maelstrom. The reason became abundantly clear when he revealed, more by accident that he was aware of the storm magus after StripedClaw made a reference. The goblin’s reaction was more than enough proof to me that he was no friend of either group.

And then, almost casually, he pointed south west and informed us that the Magus’ lair was just there. Could it be that easy?

With firmness, but not malice, StripedClaw ordered Nit to lead us to the Storm Magus. Nit promised so long as he would not have to face the insane man.

Vow quickly made, we burned the bodies and headed deeper into the Wildlands.

Tomorrow is the 15th of Red Wolf. I wonder what horrors will that day bring?

Your obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
Somewhere South of the Greenway Road, near the border between the Wildlands and Landra’Feya

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Campaign Report 12
Storms over Echer'Naught

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

Twenty Ninth Day, Planting Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

Just sixteen days ago, we captured the Storm Magus’ lab. That the crazed Sorcerer would desecrate my old home was an insult that demanded redress. Leaving Celebor and Alfred, we road for six brutal days in an increasingly violent storms. In the distance, cyclones would appear as if by some angry god’s hand before vanishing into nothing, yet leaving destruction in their wake.

The trip was difficult, more for young Hawksclaw than the burly Rildrirr and the ever stalwart Highwall. As for me, the fires of rage in my breast kept me warm and the palatable sense of duty cloaked me from the misery of the rain. But, by luck or sheer determination, we made the ride over muddy bogs, once lush and fertile fields, over roads, now turned to rivers.

Arriving at the Northern Postern gate, we approached to find four men garbed in the manner of the Town Watch standing guard. Odd, that above their heads turned the angriest, darkest black clouds I have ever seen, and yet these men stood in the rain, unfazed. I approached, showing them no aggression when, nigh at once, both Rildrirr and Highwall shouted warning.

Now revealed as the villains they were, the fake guards threw back their cloaks, leveled crossbows at our breasts and launched into our ranks a volley of arrow. The wind, and some ascended’s hand turned those deadly missiles aside, but the battle was truly joined. Mounted as we were, my men spurred forward to close on the crossbowmen. Sadly, though they can ride, none but Hawksclaw could be considered cavalry.

The next volley struck our mounts. My Thunder as barely scratched, but both Highwall and Hawksclaw’s mounts reared in fear, sprinting away. Highwall struck the ground with his usual durability, though Hawksclaw had the wind knocked from his breast. Rildrirr’s mount was struck in the chest, deeply. I fear that the poor brute has long since perished. Rildrirr himself was unhorsed, but otherwise uninjured.

I maintained the saddle and pressed the attack. Though the fight was brutal, my men prevailed, though not without injury. As the third man fell, the fourth and final mercenary realized his error and turned to flee. I saw as Hawksclaw’s blade lifted to pierce the man’s back, right through his heart…and then I saw the desire to kill drain from his face. He has learned much. More so than I, I believe. Nevertheless, the way was clear and I instructed Highwall to open the locked and barred door.

I know not what for the sturdy wood was designed to keep out, but it was no match for the doughty dwarf. In no time, a hole had been hacked and Highwall shouldered the bar out of the way. With a last shoulder heave, the doors to Echer’Naught flung open and we proceeded inside.

As we dashed south down the street to Center Pointe, me on my horse and my men afoot, I was in the midst of commanding Hawksclaw to summon the Town Watch when four of the Storm riders appeared before us in the rode. Moving like the wind of which they are made, they charged us, lighting swords held aloft.

Acting with extraordinary swiftness, Highwall sprinted left and dove between to buildings, but not before a creature slashing him, causing great harm, but in no way slowing the Dwarf. And then they were on use, hacking and slashing with their unearthly blades. Around me, my men struggled in a desperate fight for survival. But then one, and another fell. I dispersed one of the vile creatures, and Rildrirr another, Hawkclaw, filled with Life, struck down one, then hurled himself at the last, bringing it low.

The way clear, I ordered Hawksclaw to the Watch Post at Center Pointe, while I led Rildrirr and Highwall to the north entrance to the Beacon Hill. As we road East down the main street, above us, we watched as a massive cyclone, larger than we had ever imagined began to turn, its center point directly above the ancient an weathered Beacon Tower. On arrival, we found the bodies of the guards we have often seen posted here.

Impatiently I waited, and quickly Hawksclaw returned with four stout Watchmen in tow. Two were given over to Highwall and two to Hawksclaw as we sped up the hill toward the Mayoral Manse. When we arrived, we found the gates blown wide and the front door open and swinging. Dismounting, I led my men within, down the main hall and out into the courtyard beyond. There, we spied the base of the tower and the Elemental beast guarding the entrance. High above, the Storm Magus flew, completing whatever dark ritual he had come to cast.

I ordered my men to secure the tower and bring down the Storm crazed man. If any found the Lord Mayor, the priority was his safety. Otherwise, capturing or killing the Magus. We charged. Hawksclaw in the lead, followed shortly by Highwall. They swung at the beast, but their mundane weapons had no effect. Each man was drawing salt from his pouch to coat his weapons when the elemental blasted the area with lighting.

Instantly all four of the Watchmen were immolated in their armor. All but Rilrirr were also fairly cooked, and yet, we remained, injured but undaunted. I leaped forward, the death of so many on my conscience, that I fear I lost myself in rage. With all of the anger, pain and loss I had in my heart, I struck. My blow was true and the creature of Lighting dispersed into quickly fading tendrils of energy. The last obstruction overcome, I kicked open the door to the base of the tower and ordered my Rangers inside.

We pounded up the stair, Rildrirr in the lead, followed by myself, then Hawksclaw and Highwall in the rear. The long climb, after what seemed like a lifetime of fighting nearly taxed me to the end, but we made it. Rildrirr leaping through the hatch first and very nearly being blown off the tower.

Next I appeared and almost suffered his fate. Then Hawksclaw and that is when the Storm Magus changed tactics, raining lighting down. In the confined space, we were at his mercy. The storm ripped the breath from our lips, we could barely stand, let alone fight. And he, flying just out of reach seemed an impossible target.

Until Highwall, coming through the hatch spied our predicament and, again, moving with supernatural speed, dropped his axe, drew his crossbow and fired a bolt into the very surprised madman’s chest. Almost the same instant, I too launched a bolt and hit.

And then, everything changed…

The changes I had seen in Hawksclaw after his crisis of conscience months before came to a head. In bewilderment, I watched as he dropped his weapons. I feared he had been felled by some wicked spell, but not so. He raised his eyes and hands to the heavens and called out a name…Landra. His patron.

And she answered.

Hawksclaw was wreathed in green energy that permeated and extended outward. Then, if by magic, as it was, the wind about us died to a whisper. All around, the storm raged, but at the top of the tower, all was as calm as a summer’s day. Then, out of the sky, came a creature of wind, but not like the storms. This one smelt of an autumn breeze. I floated to face the Storm Magus and unleashed a blast of green light, blinding the man.

Arrows sang and with a mighty gust, the grievously wounded Storm Magus was flung bodily into his own storm and vanished into the void. With that, Hawksclaw collapsed and the Life wind creature dispersed back into its element.

I managed to catch the Alakar before he fell. He lack consciousness, but seemed otherwise unharmed. The toll of tapping into Landra’s power simply overwhelm his senses. Rildrirr plucked him from the ground like a doll and carried him gently within. There at the base tower room, we laid him on a cot, where I tended his wounds and Rildrirr and Highwall went in search of the Lord Mayor.

Highwall discovered the Lord Mayor locked in his own vault. The very same vault from with this Storm Magus had stolen his Crysarium. That irony not lost upon me, I reported to Von Haber that the Storm Magus had been defeated the the storm dissipated at the cost of Hawksclaw who remain unconscious no matter who method I used to rouse him.

And despite my desire, I could not remain by his side. Celebor and Alfred were many days ride to the north, unaware of our success or failure and potentially in danger of more Storm allies. I had seen no sign Longtail. A growing fear spread through my breast that she had befallen ill of the same trap that nearly claimed our party.

There was also the death of the Watchmen and the whereabouts of Sergeant Vasser. So too, we needed to recover the Crysarium, our first directive from the Lord Mayor. All of this flew through my mind even as I contemplated how my depleted forces could hope to contend with the possibility of two more Storm Magus, one to the East and one to the West.

Priorities.

First, I left Hawksclaw in the care of the Lord Mayor’s private physician. I took both Rildrirr and Highwall with me back north. The rain was light and the winds lighter. I would not call the ride pleasant, but it was by no means a trial. We made excellent time, arriving at the Wolfhaven manor in four short days, 24th Planting Moons.

There, we found Celebor and Alfred, eating a hearty meal, three prisoners in chains, though with well tended wounds I noted, sitting by four large chests. With his usual pique, Celebor presented me my prize of Crysarium ore, though he noted that a noticeable amount was missing. Still, we had won the day.

My interrogation of the prisoners revealed little. They were mercenaries hired through intermediaries. They knew little of the Storm Magus and honestly were glad to be rid of him. I am surprised how readily they accepted imprisonment. It makes one wonder what form of treatment they suffered at the hands of their former master.

Upon arrive back in town today, the 29th, we delivered the prisoners to the Watch, the Storm Magus’ tomes to Olgor who was quite pleased and found Sergeant Vasser injured, but hale. After which, we searched for Hawksclaw to find that he was convalescing in the Sacred Grove. I sent a messenger to seek him out and return him when ready. Celebor seemed anxious to leave, so I bid him farewell. The Lord Mayor was most pleased with the return of his precious cargo and seemed to determined to ensure that such an even never happened again.

Of Longtail? No word. I grow worried. I have dispatched messengers to all town, vales, and baronies. If she is within my realm, I will find her. But, duty calls again.

As soon as Hawksclaw returns, I will dispatch him with Highwall to the East toward Harken in search of the eastern Storm Magus, while I will take Rildrirr with me West toward Landra’Feya in search of the other.

May the Asceneded bless us with strength and see us through the day.

Your obediant servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
Ranger Headquarters, Echer’Naught

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Campaign Report 11
Gathering Storm

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Northern Barony Road, Heading South toward Echer’Naught

Nineteenth Day, Planting Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light

There are days in a man’s life whose memory never fades. And there are days during which those memories overtake us. I once made a vow, one that I had every intention of following. But what can a soldier do when duty and personal desire collide?

I can still hear their screams.

However, that was a lifetime ago, and I must report what is happening now. I write this under ever worsening skies, by lamplight as rain runs down my arms and stains the parchment.

First Hunt, 3rd. Three days. That was all I could give my Rangers to put their demons to rest.

Longtail had stood by Grimbore from the moment he entered the infirmary until the day when duty demanded I summon her to her duty. Whether from grief or love, I cannot say, but she has sat by the ogre every day and will do so until he wakes. With her, she held the child that she risked her life to save and he had nearly died to protect. I am glad that Vallandrian took custody of the infant, but I suspect the child has gained a lifelong guardian in the ranger. Some day, I must learn more about her past. And Grimbore’s. From her friend the bard, it appears that Grimbore holds a secret more curious than one would imagine in the nigh mute warrior. Is he truly from the gathers of the Dragon Gate? It is so difficult to conceive, but would explain so much

HIghwall has done double duty for over seven months, here and for JoHaan Smith, a load that would break a lesser will. Yet, Highwall has never once complained, never once shirked his duty. And he has grown skilled under the old smith’s tutelage, though I fear he takes failure too hard.

Alfred Ranger, the young man has acclimated well, growing strong and true under Hawksclaw’s careful guidance.

And young Hawkslcaw…I see so much of myself in him. He wrestles his demons with a force of Spirit unparalleled. If he can see his way unbroken to the other side, I see him one day taking his place among the great leaders of the Rangers. We spoke, and I revealed some to him in hopes that he would not walk the troubled path that I have.

For in his anger he killed a man. Though not innocent, the crusader was no longer a threat. I understand, but cannot condone his actions. Therefore, I must recount his crime, but nor can I condemn him. His remorse was genuine, not dulled by the fact that his death blow was removed by Vallandrian, high priest of the Church of Light. Even so, the intention remained and that Hawksclaw must deal with, but I will not allow a single lapse to ruin a ranger’s career. I see a change in him, a hope of healing. I pray to Light that it is so.

So, I gave them three days to put all this to rest.

Yet three days are not enough, not after the events of the Storm.

And still they came. Longtail, Highwall, Alfred, Hawksclaw, all of them. I could offer them no more, so I set them each on their tasks; so much destruction, so much dead. With the confusion of the attack and so many of the Town’s security forces busy just trying to manage, crime was spiking across the board. Incidences of assault, theft and even murder. My intention was to send my Rangers in teams to assist the Town Watch in their duties, providing a much needed fast response group. My intention like my oath, mattered little.

No sooner had I begun to outline my plan when the bell rang at the front door. Hawksclaw went to investigate and discovered a messenger for the Lord Mayor at our doorstep wishing to speak with me personally. His words were brief and chilling. Lord Mayor Von Haber required my attention for a personal matter…and it was urgent. Wasting no time, I rallied the men, sending Longtail ahead to prepare the way.

We road with utmost swiftness to the Mayoral Estate, only to be directed to the grand entrance, and for the first time since joining the Rangers here, we were escorted through the front gates, and through the Noble’s door. Something about our treatment concerned me as we were escorted quickly to the Lord Mayor’s office. Once within, Von Haber excused his entire staff and addressed my team alone.

He swore us to secrecy outside the rangers and began his re-telling. His words were worse than I had imagined. As he spoke, he led us through a secret door, down a flight of stairs constructed by master dwarven skill, to a door bound in white silver. Beyond, we found a vault room, lined with cell-like doors, and at the far end, a massive double door barred by three enormous ironwood timbers. Before the door stood three elite guards.

At his word, the guards inserted keys and cranked the timbers aside. Yet, when they pushed the massive doors open, all they revealed was an empty vault room. He explained with barely constrained rage that during the attack of the 34th of Falling Ice, a group of well informed brigands had entered his personal vault and escaped with a king’s ransom in crysarium crystals. A bounty he had been collecting to insure the currency of the town. Without the backing of the crysarium, he feared he would not make the shortfalls created when the Red Store stole the tax gold and would likely be removed from his position as Lord Mayor. In truth, without his patronage, he explained that the Ranger invitation in Echer’Naught could be pulled. He set us on a single course. Find the villains, recover the crysarium. He gave us carte blanche to achieve these ends and then left us to our investigations.

A keen eye for construction, Highwall noted strange spidery scorch marks on the walls leading to the vault. He also noted the stains of dried blood in three places. Longtail noted a fine, almost glowing powder in ever crack in the vault floor. Hawksclaw examined the shoes of the guards, while Longtail checked the locks leading to the vault. She discovered they had been picked by a master and Hawksclaw counted the bootprints. Scanning the ground with an expert eye, he found eight booted men had entered the vault to carry off the 4 heavily laden chests. With them came a thief, of small stature and an unknown mage. From our experiences, we suspected more storm magic was at work here. The blood and the scorch marks, added to the faint scent of ozone, proved that lighting had been used to cook the three previous guards in their armor. A gruesome fate I know all too well. From the signs, the guards had tried to do their duty, but the alien magic struck them down with ease.

Having nothing more to glean from the scene, we retired to the Lord Mayor’s office where I spoke briefly with Von Haber. He presented me with a sizable sum of gold and an ultimatum. I swore on my honor to see this done and dispatched my Rangers as best fit their abilities. Longtail I sent to Low Town, to speak with her contacts there. At times her associations are questionable, but results are what is needed now. Hawksclaw I sent to the Watch. His rapport with Sergeant Vasser has proved invaluable. The rest returned to the HQ to prepare and to wait for word.

There I dispatched messages to nearby posts and to anyone that might know the whereabouts of Ranger Celebor. As the only individual with sufficient knowledge to plan and execute the heist, it was imperative that we rule out compulsion on the part of the Lord Mayor. Surprisingly, he consented to a mind reading, more proof of not only his innocence, but his eagerness to recover the stolen goods. But Celebor is not one to be tied down to any semblance of pattern or schedule. Light only knows where the elf has gone. So we must wait for him as well.

From her report, Ranger Longtail met with her contact Therel Fateweaver, the professed “King of Low Town”. Though he confirmed, without accepting any responsibility, that petty crimes were on the rise, though he knew nothing of any large groups operating in or around Echer’Naught. Afterwards, she also made a visit to the Red Lamp, a decision that I understand, but that makes me decidedly nervous. Regrettably, Madame Lillithien had as little to say about the theft as Fateweaver. As strange as it seemed, the undersociety of Echer’Naught knew nothing about the biggest heist in town history. That or they are lying, Which is worse, I know not.

As for Hawksclaw, his investigation was equally successful. After dropping by the Barracks to order a cask of Olaran Ale for the men of the Watch, Hawkslcaw spoke briefly with Sergeant Vasser who also had heard nothing. Other than the overworked, overwhelmed state of the men of the Watch there was little else to report.

With that, my Rangers returned to the HQ. And from there things continued to get more interesting.

Later in the day, we received unexpected guests. A rather large band of wandering rangers arrived under command of an Aevakar named Zaro. He seemed competent, but I have known many commanders and he seemed new to the post and trying hard to live up to a reputation; a fallen mentor perhaps? Despite the severe storms, he managed to reach our outpost and sought refuge and resupply for a few days. In return, they offered their assistance in the aftermath of the Storm. I kindly accepted and they settled in, aiding in healing and cleanup.

They were a motley band, much larger than my own. In addition to their leader, there was Alfie, a human Alchemist, Galean I belive, Anton Caskmaster, a Dwarven Alchemist who was accompanied by a Behemoth Ogre near the size of Grimbore. The Ogre slept in Grimbore’s bed, who was still convalescing at the infirmary. Master Caskmaster showed a keen interest in our captured Arclances. Also Rakepick, a panther colored Brinchie who shared Longtail’s roguish interests. He and the Goblin scout Reener seemed particularly protective of their final member. Of the Rangers there were to more, a dwarven fighter Gandogar Irehart and and a Dregordian Adept Eska. She is one of the few I have ever seen, and the first any of my rangers have. At any other time, a golem, a Dregordian and an Aevakar in the same party would have caused a stir…were it not for their final charge.

Samael is a Builder.

Why he is not at Kythros under protection and watchful eye, I cannot say. His knowledge and expertise could change the course of the war as we now know the Builders are supplying Camon with weapons. But, even as a Colonel, I am not ultimately in command, so I record this in my report with the hope that wiser heads than mine might come to some agreement on the matter of captured Builders. We require all Rangers to pass a mind reading test to become rangers, but do not secure Builders where they can be protected and studied? Nevertheless, Samael was given respect and quarter, though I can say that neither I nor Hawksclaw was particularity pleased.

And yet, an opportunity. So, with reluctance, I gave Sergeant Major Stormhammer permission to study the Builder technology if only to allow us the ability to defeat them. He, Samael and Caskmaster spent much of their time in seclusion in our HQ armory. I know that Highwall wanted to be a part, but he had duties to attend, and I do not like the idea of Rangers coming to rely on Builder weapons.

Their party remained with us for a few days, whereupon they departed on First Hunt 6th leaving Rakepick and Reener with Samael who remained with Stormhammer until the 13th to complete his instruction. This was concluded by a surprise awakening the morning of that very day. Taking instruction from the Builder tinkerer, the Sergeant managed to activate a Arclance only to nearly blow away the front wall of our headquarters. By some grace, he missed and only managed to vaporize two prized kegs of Olaran ale. Regardless, all Builder weapons will be kept under strict lock and key until I can provide for their transport to Kythros, or find a better means of securing them here.

With our fellow rangers gone, life returned to some semblance of normality. And still no word from our contacts. We continued our patrols, continued asking questions, seeking but it was as if our enemies had simply vanished with their prize.

However, during this time, the 25th of First Hunt, our door man and ever watchful protector, Grimbore, returned from his time at the Infirmary of Light. Not an evening had passed that Longtail had not slept by his side. Her constant care and the blessings of light saw him through. He was welcomed with fanfare, a new bed having been constructed by a combined collection of all the post rangers. He seemed please, though at times it is hard to tell. Still, I breathed a bit easier when he lumbered to his stool and took up his post beside the door. Only in his absence did I come to realize his importance. I will not likely forget again.

Whole again as a unit, we continued our duties, cleanup and investigation. We continued to fail at the last. Then, weeks later, on the 16th of Golden Eagle, another visitor arrived, two actually. Out of the never ceasing storm, Celebor appeared in our dooway, followed by a hulking human warrior in the light green cloak of a Ranger Trainee.

Celebor was fresh from battle at the southern most edge of the expanded Olaran Baronies, in what is properly the Wildlands. On the 2nd of Golden Eagle, he and a band of Rangers and allies defended the Von Strauss Barony from takeover by a Red Store plot. I have enclosed that report. As pleased as I was to see Celebor I confess I was curious about his companion.

Rildrirr, as he gave his name, was clearly a North Born warrior from the Barbarian tribes. Yet of most interest, was the remains of his slave collar still encircling his neck like a badge of honor. Hulking, broad, but intelligent, I gauged that he would be doughty in combat, if truculent in conversation. With so many matters to address, I scarce to where to begin, but I conversed briefly with Celebor and then conducted an interview with Rildrirr.

Given the choice of visiting or joining our band, Rildrirr chose the latter becoming the 6th Ranger under my direct command, though, there was the matter of his mind reading. Though clearly not pleased with the idea, Rildrirr submitted while we waited outside. When he was done, all Celebor had to say was that he found no evidence of corruption or compulsion and that he would be a good fit.

After those necessities were completed, I presented Rildrirr with his official papers, or Olgor did so on my behalf. As the timing seemed fortuitous and I hoped that Rildrirr might see the benefit of hard work, I also took this time to make official the promotions that I had requested. Beginning with Ranger Hawksclaw, I asked each member of the team to step forward to receive orders. Ranger Hawksclaw is now Corporal Hawksclaw and received silver gilded cloak clasp. Highwall and Longtail both received promotion to Ranger 1st Class and received bronze cloak clasps.

After congratulations, I put my rangers back on task. It had now been months and all our efforts had been in vain. Our enemy now had the advantage and the Lord Mayor’s patience was at its end. So, with respect, I requested that Celebor go to the Lord Mayor and conduct his mind reading. Meanwhile, I beseeched Longtail and Highwall to continue their investigations for any possible sign of the thieves. Reluctantly, Celebor agreed and with Hawksclaw as his guide, went to meet the Lord Mayor. My other rangers scattered to their tasks while Stormahammer assisted Rilrirr in getting settled in.

It was not long before Celebor returned. He said little when he closed my office door, but his face was grim. I feared the worst. Celebor had conducted his mind reading of the Lord Mayor and discovered two very important facts. First, he was guiltless in the heist. In fact, his rage was not feigned. Driven by the threat to the town or to his own reputation, the man was livid and growing increasingly so. The second fact, one that I suspected was that, while he allowed Celebor access to his intentions regarding the cyrsarium, the rest of his mind was closed and shrouded. Not by darkness, or maliciousness, but by a careful discipline. Obviously, he had been trained to resist corruption and metal influence.

One of Celebor’s reasons for not reading politicians is that even the best of them are generally hiding something. But in the Lord Mayor’s case, his mind was effectively a labyrinth. The ranger adept had no idea what machinations his mind was hatching. Considering how easily he managed the nobles, while maintaining power, I was not surprised, but Celebor seemed particularly vexed by his inability to delve deeper.

All of that happened on the 16th of Golden Eagle. It would be weeks yet before any news came. On the 8th of Planting Moon, my Rangers were again out seeking answers. Even Celebor had agreed to help. So long had passed that I feared our failure was certain. But on that night, we received a visitor. Perhaps a portent, but good or ill, I cannot say.

It began with Highwall throwing open the door and announcing a guest. I rose, curious at this when a vision appeared in the darkened alley outside the door.

For a moment, she appeared to glow, lamplight reflecting off her alabaster skin, and then, almost as if riding a cushion of air, the woman glided into the room. Her bright eyes were open in wonder, yet coy and inviting. Green…no violet. In truth, I cannot say. He lips were red, deep, blood red and pressed tightly, but not in a grimace, but a soft smile. He face was shrouded in a deep cowl, that hinted at luxurious raven hair and hooded her eyes just enough to make them more mysterious. She was not tall, but had a presence, as if she filled the room. And wherever she went wafted the scent of flowers.

I confess, I was dumbstruck for a moment. Beauty has never been an aspiration of mine, but never before have I seen someone so skilled at its execution. She approached and introductions were made. Madame Lillithien, of the Red Lamp. Much became clear.

I invited her to speak while my staff watched on in some amusement. Perhaps my discomfort showed. I confess I am not used to speaking with such women. Poor Alfred may never again recover. At any rate, she had visited to speak on behalf of young Sarah. Apparently Longtail had spoken with her some months prior about the possibility of Sarah living at the outpost. Until she was of age, the Madame wished to keep her close, but she requested that Sarah be taken on as a full time staff member, rather than just our morning help. This would cost more, as we would have need to increase her wage and compensate her for meals. I deferred to Longtail, who was eager to accept.

That business completed, I rose to bid her farewell. At this point, she looked at me with a curious expression and said, “Your father was a good man. He would be proud. It would be better were the Wolfhaven family still here. Perhaps that might change in the future.” I was stunned. Did this woman know my father? Would my father know this woman? I did not know what to say. Lady Lillithien seemed to require no answer. She swept out of my office, floated across the floor, spoke briefly with Hawksclaw and vanished into the shadows from whence she came taking her hulking, blonde manservents with her.

I admit the Madame’s visit threw me off my game. So focused was I on her odd visit, that I nearly forgotten about the return of my rangers. Both Highwall and Longtail had news. Apparently, strangers had recently purchased three large casks of Echer Draught and shipped them north using roads that had been closed for months since the rains began. Longtail confirmed that her contacts reported sightings of a large group of foreigners far north of the town.

As if summoned, the door burst open, again, and Celebor stepped in from the raging storms outside. Dripping wet, he shouted above the storms. “I know where they are. Where you swore never again to go.”

My heart sank.

Duty to the Rangers, or duty to myself. Is there ever a choice?

Without another thought, I sounded the call to arms. Alfred and Hawksclaw ran for the Horses, Longtail for her gear, Highwall snatched up his arms and Rildrirr was suited for war. As I donned my armor, my thoughts turned to the task at hand. Unknown enemies of immense power had attacked our home and stolen an invaluable cargo of immense power. Worse, the monster responsible had established his base of operations in the ruins of the Wolfhaven manor…my home.

It was dark that night, the 8th of Planting Moon as we tore out of Echer’Naught, riding hard to the north, Celebor had gone ahead. Though, we did not meet again until much later. Through the driving rain, knee deep mud I pushed my team hard. Cold camps only, we barely slept, ate in the saddle. Even so, it took 5 days, five days of punishment to reach the site.

By the time we arrived, my men were exhausted, though Rildrirr and Highwall took it best.

Even with just flashes of lighting to light my way, I knew the ground as if I had never left. The gentle slope down the banks of the stream, the copse of trees I used to play in with my brothers. By memory, I led my rangers down the hill to an outer post that had once been but one of the Wolfhaven stables. There were no buildings left, long since burned in the war, but the metal hitching posts remained, vine covered and rusting.

We tied up the mounts and moving forward on foot. I sent Longtail ahead. A quick roll in the mud and she was gone. With the others I made my way home. We had barely reached the old stone footbridge when Longtail returned to report. In the outer courtyard, a group of 6 bandits had established a watchcamp, but were already into their cups. I sent Hawksclaw around with Alfred to gain an archer positing, while Longtail flanked left, going through what had once been a beautiful stone gallery. The rest followed me over the stream and up the west embankment.

With everyone in position, we hit them like a thunderclap. Hawksclaw downed a man with a single arrow. Rildrirr and Highwall two more. I captured a third. Two broke, one for the house and one for a second courtyard. I hurled my blade, watching its blue light flicker through the rain as it slammed through the man’s back, pinning him to the ground. For an instant, I could smell smoke again, hear the screams of women and children. The last bandit made it only a short distance before a blur caught him mid stride and bisected his right leg.

Rildrirr showed a gift for interrogation. He forced from the captured bandit that within the manor house there were a dozen more bandits, but that his “master” had already left with a large body of men. We rendered him unconscious and made our plans.

Again I sent Hawksclaw high, along the wall up to the roof. From there he could leap through any of the holes that time, fire and Flame had opened up in the once slate roof. Longtail I sent around the house, along the far wall to an anterior door servants once used to deliver food to the many feasts my father had hosted. I took Highwall and Rildrirr up the main steps and through the remains of the front door.

When we came through, we found the bandits in two groups of drunken revels, huddled around fires trying to stay out of the constant, driving rain. No wonder they were so unaware. Nothing had moved across these lands in years. From the far left, Longtail appeared like a wraith, stealing upon a group of six bandits. From the rafters, Hawksclaw’s hooded form crept along followed by the boy ranger.

I held up my hand, and signaled the attack. Hawksclaw fired, raining arrows on the bandits, catching one near Longtail and drawing their attention. Longtail sprang, a blur of swords, slashing and cutting, felling one and wounding two. I and Highwall rushed forward, laying about us with abandon, while the barbarian flanked the enemies and hurled down a wall with his mighty strength, pinning two beneath.

From there combat grew furious. Though surprised, the men fought ferociously. One of the two leaders managed to stick Rildrirr with a sword, but the massive warrior barely flinched. Alone, Longtail took down nearly 6 men alone. But, we were to much and our attack too sudden. Most perished, but we managed to capture two more bandits.

Under Rildrirr’s care, they confessed that they were hired muscle to a crazed Storm Magus who had been plotting some insane plan that made no sense to them. But, they showed us to his lab set on the raised platform my father had once used to hold court. My heart clenched in rage as I looked upon what had become of my former home.

We quickly checked the area, but found no others. We had missed the villain and he was doubtless already on his way to some destruction. It was Hawksclaw’s quick eye which spotted the symbols on the map.

One indicated the melee field where the cyclone had first touched down so many months ago. And a new one marked the beacon tower of Echer’Naught. So too did other markers appear indicating that the storm magus was not working alone, but in concert with others south, west and east of Echer’Naught. The southern most marker also corresponded with a report recently received from Zaro’s Ranger unit. They too had encountered a Storm Druid battling a Necromancer near that location. Clearly, the Storm cult had many allies in the area and it would take a concerted effort from not only the Echer’Naught rangers, but our friend in Farwatch and beyond to handle this threat.

Still, Zaro and his men had done their part. It was time to do ours.

We had barely stopped Red Store, nearly lost to the Prelacy, almost died at Darkness’ corruption and now this?!

They would pay for defiling my home.

I ordered what could be carried to be taken, Alfred and Celebor, who had returned after clearing out pickets and scouts, to bind and secure the prisoners and for Longtail to return to Echer’Naught at speed to warn them of the pending attack. If I know this house, and I do, I suspect I know where the crysarium must be hidden. I am leaving Celebor and Alfred in charge of…my home until I can return.

With the rest of my command, I am returning to Echer’Naught. I know not what we will find when and if we arrive…

Your obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
Northern Barony Road, Heading South toward Echer’Naught

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Campaign Report Supplemental 1
Defense of Baron Von Strauss

Golden Eagle 8th, 3123

Ranger Lieutenant Celebor

South of Echer’Naught

I typically avoid such doldrums, but I fear command might find the past days events enlightening. One would think that the discovery of a large bandit army in service to Red Store might attract more attention. Perhaps two such forces will suffice? Or, we might just wait for a new Maelstrom army?

But, to the details.

Sometime in the waning days for First Hunt I began hearing disturbing rumors of a large bandit force coming together in the contest Wildland regions south of Olara. Being inquisitive, I headed south to investigate. If such a force existed, they were surprisingly capable of hiding for I found a number of fairly large forces, but nothing to suggest an army. Perhaps I should have been more diligent in my efforts.

From what I gather, the good Baron Von Strauss of Olaran stock also heard the rumors and dispatched his eldest, and only son, along with dozens of his finest knights. A fools errand it would appear. Nevertheless, the boy and his tin soldiers charged off after the criminals and vanished without a trace, more or less.

Without his key commander and the bulk of his defensive forces, Von Strauss rightly summoned anyone and everyone he believed might protect his lands from the villains. The call included the local Rangers, and as I was in the area at the time, myself.

Now under official orders, I proceeded with all haste. Which, as it happens was rather fortunate.

On the 2nd of Golden Eagle, along the road south, I happened upon a battle already in progress. An ex-Ranger Olaran archer, a pair of Ranger goblinesh, one orc, one goblin, a human Paladin and Ranger, along with a Brinchie and Alakar mercenary. I gathered they were an item. At any rate, I would have interfered, but by the time I arrived, there was only a single, terrified bandit left facing off against a small Ranger army. So, I observed and kept the bandit covered, just in case.

Once the brief skirmish was over, I greeted the party and received a few names. In all honesty, I forget. The good news is that with so many Rangers and allies, our situation had improved greatly. The bad news, and something that I was quick to point out to my new companions, was that the the situation with the bandits was worse that we had expected.

The minor skirmish proved what I feared: The bandits were strategically cutting off all access to the Von Strauss lands. If they were closing off the northern road, an attack would be imminent. So, I led my new friends adjacent to the road, keeping to the woods along the side. Many civilians were also fleeing the bandits. We could see the smudges of smoke on the horizon from the dozen or so small vills that had been put to the torch.

I spoke with a few survivors. I stress the word few. Many had already been killed or captured.

When we arrived at the keep we found utter chaos. Hundreds of refugees were clogging the streets of the small down outside the hill forts main gate. In the distance I could almost sense the approaching army.

After a brief word with the Lord Von Strauss who was too old to command forces in the field, I dispatched my newest command to the road west of the town with orders to keep an eye on the bandit approach. I am not entirely certain what transpired, only that I was just organizing the defense of the keep itself and the security of the civilians with another small group of Rangers when fire arrows began raining down.

What I gathered later was that my outer Rangers had encountered enemy scouts. The bandit archers managed to approach the town in stealth through the surrounding trees. They fired off a few volleys of fire arrows before my Rangers engaged and managed to draw them off.

Meanwhile, back at the keep, I stationed another force consisting of three warriors, another Olaran Ranger, A dwarf mercenary and a human Ranger Trainee who, it appears, hails from the Northern Tribes. I noted a collar, ex-slave? I did not exactly have the time to investigate.

We were hit before we were ready. The initial archers were only a part of the scouting force. This army was larger than we ever expected…I ever expected. Bandits began to pour out of the streets and alleys between the houses of the town. We were completely surrounded, cut off.

I threw together a force of men at arms, grooms, bottlers and anyone else strong enough to hold a spear or bow. Meanwhile in the streets before the gates, three men held off the enemy army until the last civilians entered the gates.

I wondered how long it would take before the real attack began. It does not happen often, but the next move actually surprised me. Rather than attack, the leader of this band road forward, shroud in black army, face covered in a mask. He spoke loudly and clearly offering any defender a king’s ransom in gold to merely lay down their arms and leave.

No one accepted the offer, but I noted a few guilty looks. Regardless, our dwarf answered the question by firing an arrow at the man. He missed, but I think the bandit got the point. We were given an hour to prepare for death. Being Olarans, the men of Strauss ate, drank and made merry with the hour left to them.

The Rangers merely waited. There was a time…

Nevertheless, the enemy came, this time in force. A shield wall of dozens backed by archers. Behind, more lines of men. They hit us hard, throwing up ladders and began swarming the walls. We simply lacked the defenders to hold them back. They swarmed like ants. We lit them on fire, but still they came.

Atop the wall, the fight was desperate. Wounded, weary and backs against the fall. We lost many, but managed to hold them back. I did what I could, but the Green Cloaks of the Rangers carried most of the burden. With great effort, we hurled them from the walls, but they merely began to regroup.

At this point, I feared all was lost when our keen eyed Dwarf spied an Orc in a Ranger cloak, down in the burning village waving his sword, trying to get our attention. Through silent communication, we arranged a meet at the postern gate. There, we found a blood soaked Ranger.

Part of our scouting party, he had espied a path to approach the bandit leader, who secure in his safety, was relatively unguarded. I immediately orders an attack, leaving the defense of the keep to Von Strauss’ eldest daughter.

We moved in shadows, flitting through enemy patrols and pickets. LIke ghosts, we approached the bandit command tent. Crouched in the shade under the trees, we watched as the masked man speaking harshly with his chief lieutenants. It was no more than a dozen yards to the leader, but the army was not far away.

And yet, these were bandits, not hardened men and they fear the cloak. That I had seen. So, I ordered an attack. I, the Olaran and the Dwarf cleared the way, cutting down the elite guard with arrows as the Orc and the Barbarian surged forward.

The masked man was skilled, I will give him that. Even surprised he nearly won. He fought…like an Olaran. His style was swift, brutal and without any reservation. It, however, availed him nothing and he lost his head to the Barbarian’s blade. With the death of the man, the surviving elite guards fled through magical means. The other bandits surrendered or scattered.

The Dwarf and Barbarian interrogated the prisoners, while the Olaran took the head to Baron Von Strauss. The bandit prince was his son, a traitor to Olara and the free peoples. From the prisoners we gathered that the boy planned to kill his father in the guise of the bandit. Once in control of the keep, he would allow an impostor to take his place while he “miraculously” returned to defeat the bandits.

Had he been successful, Red Store would have had a staging base for operations in Echer’Naught, Kator and Farwatch. Perhaps further?

More disturbing, many of the men involved were “on loan” from other regions. Some were survivors of the Battle of Sudwied, yet some were from around Farwatch. Though they could not confirm, I fear that we may have a greater threat brewing there.

Perhaps we should not wait until yet a third bandit army rises? I may not be available to stop the next one.

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Campaign Report 10
Crimson Tempest

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

First Day, First Hunt, Year 3123 Under the Light

Words can simply not express what I feel now. I can only begin at the beginning a pray that I might convey some of the horror and tragedy of the past days.

Following our successful, but costly hunt of the Shadowboar, we entered a busy few weeks of preparations and security for the up and coming Festival Day Echer’Naught Joust and Grande Melee. My Rangers were tasked with the security of the many visiting dignitaries, allied knights and associated staff entering Echer’Naught for the celebrations. In addition, we took our turns at watch along the curtain wall, patrolled the Greenway Road and maintained local security in town.

The night before, Ranger 1st Class Hawksclaw approached and petitioned to have young Alfred raised to full ranger. On condition that Hawksclaw could locate and enlist Celebor’s assistance, per protocol, I approved the promotion. Hawksclaw then left for the Sacred Grove when Ranger Longtail entered my office. Her expression was grim, but somewhat amused.

During the long winter, in an effort to procure better arrangements for our headquarters, the attractive, young Brinchie had inadvertently gained the affection of two of our local craftsmen and sitting counsel members of the Echer’Naught Merchant Council. Regrettably, these two individuals also happened to be involved in a century old feud, which had, less than a decade before erupted into bloody violence. I had previously given Longtail permission and license to negotiate an amicable arrangement between the two Dwarves, so long as it did not adversely affect the Rangers.

Her solution was at once elegant, and risky. Working through a local bard, one Therel Fateweaver who has been a sometime friend, and sometime troublemaker, for this headquarters, she arranged for a competition, a tournament for her handfast. No sooner had she left, then Celebor, alone, entered my officer and we chatted briefly. Hawksclaw returned having missed the Ranger at large and we discussed the boys promotion. Young Alfred presented himself and consented to the mandatory Mind Reading. He and Celebor stepped away to speak in private.

Little else happened the eve before. My Rangers spoke, rested and bonded. I managed to complete the more mundane tasks necessary for maintaining operations, and yet, I could not help feeling a sense of foreboding. Perhaps it was the constant oppressive rains that had plagued our every step, perhaps it was the growing tension in my team, or maybe it was the many unknown faces and elements entering my town which weighed so heavily on my heart. Regardless, my sleep was fitful and my waking early and hardly restful.

Whatever the case, my apprehension was nothing compared to the series of events which very nearly destroyed the town of Echer’Naught.

The morning of the 34th of Falling Ice began well enough. During the dawn meeting, I briefed my team, handed out assignments and informed them that I was to handle personal security for Lord Mayor Von Haber and our greatest dignitary, young Olreck Harken, a second cousin of our lady Duchess Valenia Harken. Not to be forgotten, having passed his session with Celebor and certified as not being under enemy influence, Alfred Ranger took the cloak and joined my men as our newest brother. Ranger 1st class Hawksclaw will continue as his acting training officer.

With that, they were dismissed to see to their duties, and I rode for the Lord Mayor’s manor and my duty. From this point, I may only report what has been presented to me and my own understanding of the events as they unfolded.

Not much happened in the morning hours. The Feast Day Celebration went as planned, with the usual minor complications that never seem to be avoided. My Rangers maintained tight security at each of the events as they occurred, ensuring that nothing untoward happened. At just before noon, Ranger Longtail and Hawksclaw were dismissed for their one break to attend Fateweaver‘s contest of Longtail’s hand.

The combat, as I understand was fierce and drew a huge crowd. So large, that the formal Dressage event happening at the same time had almost no attendance from the townsfolk. As we feared, loyal Grimbore entered the contest to protect the Brinchie, as did Ranger 1st Class Hawksclaw. And apparently, Hawksclaw bowed out, rather than face a friend. Fortunately, a close associate, and ringer, for Fateweaver, another Brinchie named Streetrunner, stole the contest and defeated all comers. Showing surprising tact and diplomacy, Longtaill soothed the ruffled feathers of the feuding Dwarves and in one move prevented all out war between the Dwarf clans and also avoided hurting Grimbore who seems completely infatuated with her.

With that task completed, all of my Rangers converged upon the Lists where the Royal joust was about to begin. And like so many things, it started well, but as I stood behind the Lord Mayor keeping him safe, Ranger Longtail noticed with her keen eyes trouble brewing amid the tents. Acting quickly, she discovered that young Lord Olreck Harken had fallen suddenly ill and who’s breathing had become labored. Gathering up Hawksclaw and Highwall, they quickly secured the boy and sent Longtail to the Chapel of Light for aid.

As she arrived, she found Valandrian, the winged Paladin/Priest, in quiet contemplation. Hearing her urgent words, he immediately dispatched brothers of the church and a wagon to fetch the young man to bring him to the Infirmary. Once the boy was securely protected at the Chapel of Light and in good healing hands, the Rangers immediately went about gathering resources and investigating the sudden onset.

However, in the meantime, Olreck Harken was being summoned to the Lists. As he was to be Echer’Naught’s champion and defending the honor of the Harken Duchy, I offered to serve in his stead. Von Haber accepted my offer and over the objections of Baron Eckhart, I took Sir Harken’s place with young Alfred acting as my squire. We also feared that if word of the possible assault on Olreck were to become common knowledge, a panic may ensure.

So I took up the jousting lance for the first time since before the War of Flame and entered the competition while my Rangers conducted their investigation. Using Longtail as a runner, they reached out to the local Potio nmaster, delivering what they could gather from the young lords belongings to examine for hidden needles, laced clothes or any sign of poison. The Eldakar Alchemist agreed to pour his every energy into the task. They then interrogated Olreck’s squire and forced from him that young Olreck had sneaked out of the Lord Mayor’s manse, and spend the morning at the Red Lamp. After which, Longtail headed to the Red Lamp to speak with Madame Lithilien.

The Madame was more than helpful and summoned the young girl who serviced the lord. She admitted that he had been with her shortly in the morning, that he seemed nervous as if she was his first, that he had been mocked by his friends for his lack of experience, but that Olreck had not eaten nor drunk anything. She had noted a foreign knight who seemed to recognize the young lord, but the man had not said nor done anything. All she noted was that he was not from Olara and that he had a scar on his face. With this information, Longtail returned to her companions.

While this was happening, Hawksclaw had summoned Olgor and brought him to the infirmary. During his research, Olgor had uncovered that young Olreck was actually descended from the ancient Camon, before the rise of the Church of Archanon. It appeared that his distant ancestor had died saving his wife, during those dark events. She, destitute and alone arrived in Olara and was taken in by her late husbands friend, a noble of Olara. They fell in love, and she married the man and her descendants eventually married into the Harken line. Longtail even remembered this tale from the book given her by Colonel Wolfhaven.

With this knowledge and now the Lord Mayor’s personal physician, Olgor, the healers of the Infirmary of Light, and the Harken physician’s all working to heal the boy, Hawksclaw took Longtail and Highwall to the Barracks. They entered the tavern and spoke with the bartender who informed him that, yes, Lord Olreck had been in attendance just before the joust, and yes he had sat with his friends, celebrating a recent “conquest.” With his permission, the Rangers spoke with establishments staff.

One serving girl explained that the young lord had been there with his friends and had been rowdy and rude. She was happy to have seen him gone, but that he did meet someone who seemed to be an old friend, a foreign knight, with effeminate features and a scar on his face. With this, they thanked the girl and went to speak with the young groom who explained that yes, the foreign knight had stabled a horse. The horse was of an unfamiliar type, clearly a warhorse, but lighter and sleeker than those favored by Olarans. He could not say if it were Olaran in origin, but he did not believe so. And he confirmed that the stranger had headed south toward CenterPointe.

Hawkclaw and the others were on the verge of leaving when they were found by a runner from Sergeant Vasser of the Town Watch. They were asked to come immediately, as another body had been discovered. Led deep into the warrens of Low Town, my Rangers found the good sergeant standing in the rain beside a mud-soaked corpse in fine clothes, face down in an alley. Hawksclaw examined the scene to find a single stab wound in the man’s side, penetrating the kidney. The weapon was a long, thin blade not unlike the Cavalier Dirk that I and Hawksclaw carry. Turing the body over, Hawksclaw’s worst fears were realized for the dead man was non other than the scarred foreigner and likely, the man who poisoned Lord Olreck Harken.

The body was brought to the infirmary where Hawksclaw found young Olreck on death’s door. Olgor examined the body and discovered something truly remarkable. He believed, with good reason, that the dead man was from Camon, a Prelacy agent. Olreck’s lineage only added credence to the theory. If that were so, given the man’s symptoms of paralytic breathing, reduced temperature, sweating and involuntary convulsions, Olgor postulated that the poison was an extract derived from a plant known to him as Morning Dove, a small wildflower with four ivory petals and a golden center. Unfortunately, it only grew in more northern climes, such as the higher altitudes of Camon and would likely be impossible to find here in the lowlands. Even so, the Rangers sprinted to the PotionMaster.

Regrettably, he too had no help to offer, but he headed to the boy’s side with his apparatus in hopes that the Rangers could find the poison and deliver it to him to concoct an antidote. With time running short and the day fading fast, the Rangers immediately set out into the camps of visiting knights and nobles, speaking with any who would answer, searching for a group of foreign knights that did not seem to fit. They were able to narrow their search to just a few groups under suspicion. Just before the Grande Melee under tortured skies, my Rangers took the field to join me.

In a mud soaked field north of the city walls, spectated by nearly every living soul in the town, two armies of men at arms stood facing each other under a raging sky. I had been assigned to fill young Olrecks role at the head of the Blue forces. To avoid accidental injury, normal weapons had been banned and the forces were armed with blunted swords and axes. Still, in my duties as the guardian of the remaining Harken representatives, I was allowed to keep my blade. As we stood, waiting for the signal bell, my Rangers sloshed across the muddy ground to report all that I have written.

I split my men, sending the faster Alfred atop his horse and Longtail on her fleet legs to begin searching the far army. I directed Hawksclaw and Highwall to investigate my forces. We had little time for the melee was about to begin and we had to find the assassins before that happened. With the rain and wind, the task was nigh impossible, but Gate Highwall’s keep eyes spotted a foreign knight in thick, lustrous robes standing about with two companions. Tied to his belt, under his cloak and wrapped tightly to disguise its features was a knife matching the description. Though it may seem incredulous to assume one knife could be identified among an army of armed men, one most only consider that it was seen by a Dwarf of keen crafting skill, and a Cavalier Dirk is a weapon not easily mistaken.

Once spotted, Hawksclaw sent the Dwarf to flank, as he approached the men. No sooner had he met them in the field, than the leader drew a sword that has been described as a blade encased in metal cables, and glowing with an orange energy which hummed with power and slashed deeply into the Hawksclaws chest. Hawksclaw returned with a penetrating blow, which found a chink in the man’s armor, biting deep enough to draw a well of blood. And so battle was joined.

Fighting through the driving rain and shrieking winds, Highwall charged and brought his ax down, only to have it bounce away. Cloak shorn away, the armor beneath bore marking similar to the sword, metal cables coiling, glowing orange crystals and other strange nobs and devices. Almost instantly, the man’s companions threw back their cloaks, one drawing a strange rod bearing the alien devices and protuberances and the other an enchanted sword.

As those knights and men arms around woke to the danger in their midst, my Rangers entered a desperate battle with foes wielding weapons of awesome and alien power. From the far field, Longtail spotted the strange orange flashes lighting the sky. Without hesitation, she sprinted in that direction, breaking the ranks of stunned men and surging into the no-man’s land between the two mock armies. Sadly, her progress was arrested by a trio of men stepping free of the crowd of awed spectators. They leveled strange half spear/half crossbows at the armies and unleashed a barrage of orange, arcane fire.

Seeing the new threat, Longtail adjusted course, and prayed that her companions would hold their own. At this moment, seeing Longtail, the strange magic lances and hearing the growing din behind me, turned and pushed myself through crowed, drawing my two handed sword.

By this point, the storm above had reached a climax and with the sudden appearance of true enemies in our midst, many of the more seasoned warriors broke for the weapons caches off the field to recover their true weapons. Civilians began to recede from the stands and flee to the safety of Echer’Naughts walls, but there was but a single postern gate and many thousands of panicked people to evacuate.

By the time I reached Hawksclaw and Highwall, my Elven Ranger was already bound in mystical bonds and the Dwarf was being knocked around by the swirling winds. I raised my sword to fell the Prelacy Crusaders when a gasp drew my attention to the sky.

Above our heads, an immense black cloud, like a mountain of Black Steel in the sky, and twice as menacing, began to slowly rotate. Faster and faster it spun, gaining momentum as the winds on the ground rose to a torrent. So fierce was strength of the gale, that my footing began to slip in the mud. As we watched in horror, friend and foe alike, a tendril of black cloud, like an angry god’s finger pressing to the earth stabbed down, slamming into the field between the two armies.

During the war, I had seen such events, cyclones that would form in raging storms upon the vast open plains of Western Olara, but nothing compared to this. The Storm had a menacing purpose as it immediately began to churn the mud heading straight for Echer’Naught and the crowd of now terrified men and woman trampling each other to escape the path of the approaching horror.

That would have been sufficient to unman even the greatest warrior, but a moment later, creatures poured from the storm, figures of lightning and horsemen of roiling storm dropped from the sky and began to wreak havoc among the stunned knights.

Seeing the storm, the Prelacy Mage grabbed his Captain and disappeared from the field, no doubt some form of teleportation. Left behind was the single Crusader Knight who defended himself admirably, but fell to a blow from my sword. His body collapsed to the muck, un-moving.

Suddenly, Longtail appeared shouting that SALT could harm the beasts. Thinking quickly, I ordered Longtail to fetch salt from within the town, Hawksclaw suggested the meat processing area of the stockyard. I ordered Hawksclaw and Highwall to stem the tide of creatures pouring from the sky. And with that, my Rangers leaped into action.

With Hawksclaw and Highwall beside me, we charged the storm creatures, while Longtail covered ground with the speed of rushing wind. I threw myself at one of the Lighting creatures, feeling its energy sparking off my armor. We discovered quickly that White Silver affected the beast and two fell to my blade. Together, Highwall and Hawksclaw slew a Storm rider and an Electric beast before a creature of true power descended from the sky and attacked me with sparking tendrils of pure energy.

Above our heads, High Priest Valandrian wages a holy war against the creatures while around us, Olara, Galean and allied knights rallied to their standards and hurled themselves into the fray. Atop the wall of Echer’Naught, the High Druidess Treesinger stood along agains the fury of the cyclone, calling upon the power of Life to slow its advance and safeguard the lives of the many. In the field, the battle raged with the flower of our armies falling like wheat before the scythe.

With each creature we slew, the Cyclone’s power waned just a little bit more. And as it closed upon the mob of screaming civilians, our fight grew desperate. In the mass, mighty Grimbore gamely tried to reach the field of battle, but was intercepted by Longtail who ordered him to open the gate as wide as possible, while she sprinted OVER the crowd and dove into the town. Alfred stood upon his horse, helping the panicked people to safety.

Once inside, Longtail desperately scanned for the warehouses that would hold the salt, but her eyes fell upon a young girl, standing amid the chaos, and with a stampede of panicked cattle bearing down upon her. Without thought of her own life, Longtail closed the distance to the girl in a heartbeat and threw her body over the child to shield her from the stampede.

Outside, the massive electric creature poured lighting into me, cooking my flesh beneath my armor. The pain was intense and I could feel my life ebbing away. At this moment, as I knelt before the foe, Hawkclaw leaped from my form and slashed the creature with his Rapier. At the same moment, Highwall smashed the beast with his White Silver shield shattering its form.

With a croaking voice, I ordered Hawksclaw to recover the poison from the fallen Prelacy Crusader as I tried to struggle to my feet. Within the down, the stampede thundered passed Longtail who rose, surprised to be alive. Turning, she suddenly understood why. Realizing her danger, the loyal Grimbore had thrown himself over her and the child, taking the savaging from the cattle’s hooves. With the last of his strength, he stroked her cheek call her his “pretty kitty.” And then, the mighty warrior sank to earth and fell still.

With tears pouring from her eyes, Longtail sprinted to the infirmary and demanded someone help Grimbore. Two brother dispatched immediately. Shortly after, Hawkclaw arrived and thrust the poison vial into the waiting hands of the PotionMaster. And with that, the battle for Echer’Naught ended.

Dozens of civilians were killed, hundreds wounded. Nearly thirty knights sacrificed their lives defending the town and everything recently built north of town was obliterated. My own forces have been decimated. Grimbore lives, but has yet to remain consciousness. We do not know if he will survive. Hawksclaw and Highwall were wounded, I grievously so.

Though we manage to recover the poison, we may still have been too late. In addition, we still do not know the Prelacy’s plans and the agents were all killed during the fighting, though we managed to recover three of their strange energy lances.

As to the Storm, we know almost nothing.

As horrible as the physical devastation has been, the mental and spiritual costs my be worse. Longtail still holds the child as if she fears to let her go. Highwall seems…distant, distracted. I fear his extracurricular activities may be dulling his edge. But, I fear most for Hawksclaw. The anger I see forming in my chief subordinate mirror the rage I carried throughout the war and long after… If that anger cannot be settled, I fear for the cost to the man.

The pain of my wounds begins to dull my wits. I leave this here, a record of these events and a warning to Rangers all. The Storms are coming and I fear this is only the beginning.

Your obediant servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

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Campaign Report 9
Shadow Boar

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

Eighteenth Day, Falling Ice, Year 3123 Under the Light

My quill trembles as I write these words. I pray my Rangers cannot see the trepidation this most recent quest caused to rise within me breast. Our slumber was broken before dawn on the 10th of Falling Ice, some week and a half past. By Archanon’s Light, has only been eight days?

Three men waiting without our door, two couriers bearing personal gifts from suitors for Lady Longtail. Apparently, her negotiations this past winter for the construction of our new, brick kitchen went too well. I only hope her suitors do not come to blows over her hand. I believe, considering the individuals involved, that such an incident might explode into open war in the streets. I have cautioned her about her behavior and she assures me that the situation will be handled. I trust that it will be so.

However, the third and final shadow across our threshold was a boy, not fifteen years. Exhausted, muddy and barely able to stand, nevertheless, the lad showed deference and respect while he repeated his message to my 1st Class Ranger Hawksclaw. The boy was nearly spent, yet he stood like a man. A true Olaran and deserving of our respect.

He was quickly brought before me and I learned that a beast appeared in his master’s barony and had begun a campaign of destruction. What the creature was, the boy could not say, but the images of carnage he recounted filled me with dread. More important, his master, the Baron, had led a quest to slay the beast, but the venture had tragically failed costing the lives over nearly a dozen knights, injuring more and worst of all, crippling the Baron’s sole heir and inflicting a mortal wound on the Lord of the Manor.

Even as he spoke, voice quaking from despair and fatigue, it did not break. He bade us hurry to his master’s side before the beast’s foul blow laid him low. Immediately, we made preparations to depart. All save loyal Grimbore mounted horse and wagon as their needs and we sped south. I chose not to head directly east toward Harken. I would have perhaps been faster, though with so many roads impassable due to the inexplicably rainy spring, I chose to use the less used southern barony road. It was still a chore and with the wagon progress was slower than we would have liked. We stopped at a small inn, little more than a large room with benches that Hawksclaw and Longtail had used during their winter long patrols. We stayed their the night out of the driving rain. It gave us a chance to dry ourselves and the cozy setting fostered camaraderie and some frank conversation. The next morning (11th) we continued south until we hit Farwatch-Kator road, turn east and ride flat out. We left the road just west of Kator and headed north a short way until we reached the barony. Rain still pouring.

Ranger Longtail, acting as scout under the guidance and direction of 1st Class Hawksclaw observed the manor hillfort and surrounding vill. She saw no sign of a creature but noted the villagers were skittish and there was a nervous air about the place. We approached with the young local in the lead. He escorted us straight to the fort, past the guards and into the courtyard. the few mounts that had been recovered from the disastrous raid were there and, even days later, still spooked. The sudden intrusion of strangers and a the rattle of wagon wheels on cobblestone so frightened the traumatized horses that they instantly tried to bolt. By sheer weight, Highwall kept his shaggy pony in check. Longtail was already on foot and Thunder obeyed me, though not without a fight. Hawksclaw was closest. His elven pony bolted throwing him to the ground. By Archanon’s grace he was uninjured. The boy, apparently having seen the agitation of the horses before, simply kicked free and let his horse scramble away. Bravery, dedication and skill with a horse, this boy might turn into a fine warrior.

Our mounts more or less secured, we entered the squat, square, stone keep to find a charnel house. The constant rain outside and the rising spring temperatures, combined with little ventilation had created a muggy, fly infested infirmary. The broken bodies of men, once proud knights, lay about the main hall. Nurses, ladies and servants worked tirelessly redressing wounds and bring water and comfort, but from the many bandaged stumps where once limbs would have lain, and the red-black ooze staining the wraps, I fear few would survive their wounds. Still, we pressed on, heading upstairs to the main bedroom.

There, we found the baron’s family outside his chambers wailing in anguish. We were bade roughly inside and found the baroness kneeling by the bed, and the wounded, likely crippled, son standing by where the Baron, his belly wrapped in bandages, lay coughing an sputtering. He was older, in his sixties, gray hair and beard, but he had once been a mighty warrior, and the muscles still held strength, if he had gone a bit to seed. Despite the pain, his eyes were keen and bright. He addressed us roughly, brooking no nonsense. He remember me, more more my family, from before the war. He seemed pleased that a Wolfhaven had responded to his call. With this, he explained that the beast was a Shadow Boar, a corrupted boar of darkness, but this beast was larger and more cunning than any he had ever faced.

We are Olaran, and our lives are spent in conflict with Flame and Darkness. As such, each Barony has weapons of white silver for these situations. He had brought forth a white silver tipped boar spear and a precious few white silver tipped arrows and bolts. Then he commanded the Rangers to hunt down and destroy the beast. With that, we were dismised.

Leaving the oppressive scene, we recovered our mounts. I ordered sergeant Stormhammer to see to the defense of the keep and Olgor to see what he could do for the poor souls inside. With that handled, I ordered the boy to take us to the place of the attack, then return home.

We rode for a few hours until we came to a small wooded area. There, we found the scene of the attack. Longtail and Hawksclaw scouted the area, while Highwall and I remained with the mounts. While we stood by, a large boar, but untainted, charged Longtail. She managed to scramble up a tree out of the way. She needed have worried. From his hiding place, Hawksclaw felled the beast in a single shot. Truly impressive marksmanship. The wild hogs had been attracted by the smell of blood and the remains of the many bodies never recovered. It was a horrible sight, one that reminded me too much of the war.

From there, Hawksclaw tracked the prints west for some time, until we came across a yeoman’s farm. These poor souls had also run afoul of the beast and had paid the price. Again, Hawksclaw and Longtail scouted the area and ensured the beast had moved on. Then, with urgency, Longtail summoned me forward. What she had found inside the small farmhouse was both tragic and joyous. As a dying act, a mother had hidden her infant from the beast. Hungry, scared and tired, the baby had begun to cry. We pulled it from the wreck and debated what to do.

At this moment, I came to understand something about Longtail that I had not know. She was adamant that the child be taken to safety. I honestly believe that had I refused, she would have disobeyed. Nevertheless, I agreed and she volunteered to dangerous tasks of retracing out steps to find a farm nearby that might take the child in for the time. With the Brinchie on yet another long run, the rest of us set to making a camp by the little stream a distance from the farm following the beasts trail. The rain continued, and making a fire was troublesome, but we dealt as Rangers should. Some time that night, Longtail returned having found a farm not far away.

We bedded down, with Hawksclaw on first watch. During the pre-dawn hours, the beast attacked. Our first warning was Hawkclaw’s shout of alarm. Our second was his body falling from the sky and landing with a wet thud near the fire. Then, all at once, the beast was among us, running the Alakar Ranger down. It moved like lighting and seemed made of shadows. Hawkclaw managed to roll away and fire an arrow, but the beast disappeared into the tall grass and vanished. I was so stunned, that for a moment I could not grasp the purpose of attack, for the beast did not return for another pass. Only then did we hear the screams of our horses.

The attack was a diversion. In the confusion, our mounts broke, spooked by the stench of death and corruption on the thing. With malicious intelligence, it drove them our of range of our weapons and began to systematically slaughter them. It was then that I realized our true danger. On foot and exposed, we were easy prey, so we made a move, in formation back to the farmhouse. The deaths of our mounts bought us the time to make it, but just barely. Then, the creature backed off, but not far.

Longtail took watch on the roof above and informed us that it was still out there in the shadows, stalking us. Tired, soaked, rattled and without much of our rations and gear, we huddle in the wrecked farmhouse planning. Archanon’s blessing, we had within our small company the necessary skills to survive. Though not a Stonemason, Highwall had come from a family of the finest wall builders perhaps in the whole of Shaintar. Under his guidance and with help from my experiences during the war fighting creatures like this, we set to converting what remained of the farmhouse into a trap for the Shadowboar. We removed the roof supports and used that in construction of a large pit trap and firing platforms. Then, with Longtail calling out sightings, Hawksclaw skulked around the yard outside for material. It was an arduous tasks and by nightfall we were sore and tired, but the deed was done.

Here I had a choice to make. Take the center place and hold the boar spear? I put it to my men, who of us would have the honor…and the danger of standing alone before the terror of the beast. Without hesitation, or a tremor of fear, Highwall to the spear in hand, three times his height and said simply, “I will.” And with that, the Dwarf dropped into the kill chute and awaited his fate. I confess my heart swelled with pride. I have known decorated commanders who turned to gibbering fools in the face of such monsters, yet not one of my Rangers so much as hesitated. We were afraid, you would be a fool not to be, but we were resolute in our mission.

15th Falling Ice

Then, as always, Longtail, with that little smile she always gives before rushing headlong into battle, sprinted out the door to lure the beast into our trap. I took one platform, white silver tipped lance at the ready, Hawksclaw the other, bow in hand. We did not wait long. With a shout, Longtail sprinted thru the open door, bounded Highwall’s head and vaulted the back wall. A heartbeat later, the front wall of the house exploded inward in a shower of splinters. Before, the attack was so fast, I never fully realized the size of this thing. It stood nearly as tall as the house at its shoulders, with eyes full of cold, calculating malice. But it had the Brinchie’s scent and was not going to let her escape.

Blowing through the wall like paper, the beast crashed through the kill chute where Highwall stood. Without giving an inch, the Dwarf thrust the spear into the beasts belly. It roared, but its momentum carried it past. I stabbed it through the shoulder, seeing a gout of black blood an Hawksclaw pieced with an arrow, but our blows seemed to have no effect. They actually enraged the beast who, having lost Longtail, came around and charged the Dwarf again, intending to stomp him into the ground. Again Highwall thrust, and again the Shadowboar roared. My lance ripped from my grip, I drew my bow. Hawksclaw fired again. No avail. the beast gored and stomped the Dwarf, but Highwall stood firm. At that moment, the walls went up in flames, trapping the beast and preventing his escape. And then Longtail was there, on its back, stabbing and slashing. I fired. Hawkclaw fired. The beast thrashed, slashed and stomped. I saw Highwall go down in a flurry of black hooves and my heard sank. I fired again, shouting to kill it hoping beyond hope that my friend was still alive under there. And then the dwarf rose, axe and whitesilver shield in hand. The firelight caught the shining metal and the beast flinched in horror. And with a mighty blow, Highwall buried his axe into the monster’s skull. It keened. At the same instance, Hawksclaw fired, piercing flesh. The beast lurched once, gave a final sigh and slumped to the side. Looking back, I almost feel that in its dying moment, I saw relief in that final look, as if we had finally set it free.

Nevertheless, the house was now ablaze and we were trapped. Hawksclaw leaped the pit in a single bound, scrambled as high as he could and held out a hand. I grabbed Highwall’s hand and threw him over the wall. Snatching up the precious spear and hurling it to safety, I grasped Hawksclaws hand and was launched over the wall. Longtail did a flying somersault and landed quite nearly on the dwarf, though I image it was on purpose. Then, we watched the pyre burn, as we added fuel, all the way until morning. After hours of burning, the stench of undeath and corruption was finally burned away by cleansing fire, though I fear nothing will grow on this land for some time.

We rested there. Exhausted. Later (16th), we picked up our things and I was overjoyed to find my mount Thunder, who survived the war, had returned now that the beast was gone. We headed back, stopping at the farmhouse to recover the babe only to discover that the farmers were kin, and wished to adopt. We were pleased to allow this, but I gave the child a necklace, crafted by Highwall’s hands, of a priceless white silver arrow and bade the farmer give it to the child when he came of age. And also, I commanded that the child be told of the bravery of his family, the sacrifice of his mother and give him and invitation to the Rangers should he ever desire to join. We ate with the farmers and then continued on that night (16th), coming to the keep in the wee hours (17th).

Funeral preparations were already underway. Sadly, the Baron had died, but his son, the new Baron thanked us and offered us the quivers of white silver arrows and bolts, as well as, the young man who had been sent to guide us here as a Ranger trainee. I must say that I am pleased. And then he invited us to join his father’s Last Call. With great respect, we agreed.

Arrived late in Echer’Naught on the 18th.

That was some days ago and now I am sitting back in Echer’Naught, putting together my thoughts. So much has happened in the last months and I fear there is great evil growing in the land. Bandits, flame and darkness all seem to gather here. With the Prelacy marching to the north and these unending storms…I must admit I am apprehensive. But then I have but to look out my door and see Hawksclaw teaching the young man, Alfred, how to hold a bow. When he came to me, he was young and idealistic, raw and unformed. I can see an Alakar and true leader forming in my subordinate. I also see an anger, a darkness, one I know too well. If we can master himself, he will be a force of light and life. I can also see Longtail, teaching young Sarah to throw knives and…pick pockets. I must talk with her about that. But, the girl is growing in strength and confidence under the Ranger’s tutelage. And of course, Highwall and Stormhammer at the force, working in perfect tandem on some new project. Even as the dark thoughts fill my mind, I have to glance up and I see a future protected by these few, brave souls. So long as the Rangers remain true, so long as we hold to the light, I will fear no thing.

Your obediant servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

P.S. I have just received word that the festival day and joust has been announced. Already frantic work is happening north of the town. And entire village is being built in half a months time in preparation. No doubt we will be called to duty. I fear this might be a perfect opportunity for our enemies to slip among us, but I have my Rangers. It will be dealt with.

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Campaign Report 8
A New Day

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

First Day, Falling Ice, Year 3123 Under the Light

The last vestiges of winter break and thaw as springs warmth brings new life to the land. I must admit I have missed this. Perhaps it was Archanon’s will that I be posted in the land of my birth? Whatever the fact, I am pleased.

Spring rains come early. The storms have been unusually strong. Winter snow and ice has turned to slush in the constant drizzle making the roads nigh unusable. All but the main highway. The sorry duty of long patrols fell most heavily upon Ranger 1st class Hawksclaw and Ranger Longtail. A task which they performed well and without rancor.

Since our great victory at Sudweid, the agents of Red Store have been quiescent, though I harbor no delusions that they will return and in force. Nevertheless, we shall be ready and waiting. Whatever their challenge, we will be more than a match.

Winter brought much opportunity for my rangers to improve our station and their living conditions. Each member bent their energies to task most suited to their nature and may I say that it has been a profitable season. I will endeavor to detail each in brief here.

Ranger 1st class Hawksclaw engaged in a petition letter campaign with his family in Eldara in hopes of obtaining the valuable resource of seasoned lumber for our many construction needs. It took most of the winter season, but he manage to secure a sizable supply, with some assistance on my part, though he will no doubt still be indebted to his patron. The rest of his time, what time not spent training, was dedicated to assisting Ranger Longtail in her endeavors to secure bricks and brick masons for out use.

Ranger Longtail applied herself in her usual…enthusiastic manner, ingratiating herself with local merchant, builders and traders. Her efforts paid off in that she secured a large portion of good Echer’Naught brick for construction here at the headquarters. Regrettably, and I am unfamiliar with the details, he “negotiations” created some jealousy between the Brick Yard where the kilns operate and the Master Mason she attempted to contract for the actual construction. Sadly, while she acquired the material, she was unable to contract the labor.

However, where she was unable, Ranger Highwall succeeded. Through, what I understand were a series of drinking contests at the Hammer and Anvil, Highwall managed to convince the erstwhile mason to construct an outdoor kitchen and central indoor fire pits within the HQ. Though, I am unsure what exactly transpired as it seems to me that this masonry team is the same that rebuffed Longtail and I fear their might be some trouble in the future, as both the Mason and the Brick Kiln operator are cousins…and I fear both are enamored with my Brinchie Ranger. Time will tell. Regardless, Highwall dedicated the remainder of his days to working in the local forge. He has been very reluctant to discuss the details as it seems there was some form of accident? Regardless, he has requested, and been given permission, to continue working at the Blacksmith in his off hours. Whatever the case, he has earned my full support.

As can be seen, my time has been busy with managing the many construction projects occurring at the outpost and assisting my Rangers in whatever endeavor they attempted. I might also add here that during this season Sergeant Major Stormhammer vastly improved the HQ forge and smithy while Grizhnak Olgor., our scribe, bursar, and historian greatly expanded the unit library. I cannot say what I could accomplish without the assistance of these two men.

I would like to also take a moment to praise our non-ranger staff. The stalwart Grimbore, our towering Ogre doorman has been ever faithful. I must admit, I was concerned at first with the arrangement, but I now see the wisdom in Captain Manning’s decision to retain the Ogre’s services. In addition, young Sarah seems to have adapted well to working with the Rangers. She seams to have a particular interest in Ranger Longtail. I find myself marveling at her industriousness and quiet resolve. Perhaps, one day, when she is over age, she might consider joining us fully? I will ask when the time is right.

Other news of import. I have contacted the commander of Bearheart, Lord Arnwald, Commander. I have heard whispers of a Prelacy advance, but am anxious for definitive news. In addition, I sent him a cask of fine Dwarven Ale, a locally brewed concoction called Echer’Draught. I am not a connoisseur, but Highwall swears by the drink and in all things ale, I defer to his judgement. I am also to reach out to Lieutenant Gibben Draxx of Jasara. If the Prelacy truly intends to invade, no doubt Jasara will fall in its path. I have intention of leaving my fellow Rangers to that fate alone. I hope soon to hear word on both fronts.

Lastly, I have just received word of my official promotion to the rank of Colonel. I must say that while a surprise, it is a welcome one. Before Archanon, and my ancestors, I swear that I will commit myself to honoring and justifying the trust placed in me by my commanders.

With the Red Store somewhat deflated and a near year dawning, Echer’Naught has grand plans to move forward. Lord Mayor Von Haber has petitioned Duchess of Harken, Lady Valenia Harken for the honor of hosting a tournament and joust in her honor here in Echer’Naught. Already, preparations are being made in the event of her approval of the proposal. While I believe a true festival day will be a boon to my men, we will no doubt have extra work in equal measure.

Still, after a long, cold winter, we are better equipped and prepared than ever before. Our cohesiveness as a unit grows and my Rangers are finding their place here. I have only good hope for our future.

Your obediant servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

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Campaign Report 7
Battle of the Sudweid

Captain Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

Twenty Eighth Day, Harvest Moon, Year 3122 Under the Light

Archanon be praised, the renown Celebor was within the Druidess’ sacred grove upon Hawksclaws arrival.

Under the command of Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer’s authority, Grey Ranger Celebor, Ranger 1st Class Hawksclaw, Ranger Gate Highwall, Ranger Aradove Longtail and Ranger Scholar Grizhnak Olgor loaded a wagon and traveled south. By the time they arrived at the combined camp beside the road near where the attack on the tax caravan had occurred, the scene was a bonafide military encampment. The Royal Sheriff had summoned reinforcements bringing his total of troops up to nearly thirty. In addition, the Field Marshal Von Wrangel had brought in nearly forty of his own elite Hammerfell Riders. With the Rangers, that raised the total of troops in the field to just under eighty men at arms.

With that force, the wagon was secured and Rangers Hawksclaw and Celebor searched the ground and learned that the bandits had scattered, but that the gold had been loaded on two horses and a wagon, each heading in a different direction. The wagon struck out south east, the horses north east and west. Teams were sent to track each. Celebor to the north east, Highwall and Longtail with a Hammerfell scout to the north west and Hawksclaw alone to the south east. However, the trails were diversions sent to distract as they all eventually bent back toward the south west.

With this information, the scouts returned to report. Anxious to get underway and recover the days lost, Von Wrangel pushed forward, ordering the Rangers to take point in the growing darkness and track the foes to their nest. Throughout the long night, over sodden fields we rode, Longtail running holding the right flank with Hawksclaw on the left and Celebor the tip of the spear. I held the center, and with my sword alight, held out scouting party together. Through first light and into the mid morning we sped, heedless of caution. Only then did Celebor, our lead scout reign in. He had spotted the enemy camp.

Behind us, Von Wrangel and a column of Hammerfell riders pulled up short. They too had ridden hard all night and yet their lines were as perfect as on parade. Sir Halten and his men had been tasked with securing the wagon and the road behind.

Under Celebor’s direction, my men and I crept forward and crested a rise to look down upon a large encampment. More than one hundred men, bandits and brigands all, stirred in a semi-permanent camp. There was no telling how long these villains had been operating from the southern lands, but they would soon be stopped.

While Longtail crept into their camp to spook their horses and locate the King’s gold, Highwall and I would attack the enemy camp covered by Hawksclaw and Celebor’s arrows. Meanwhile, the Hammerfell riders would flank the camp and grind them under charging hooves.

The plan began with perfection. Unnoticed, Longtail slipped among them cutting the horse line and scattering the beasts. At that moment, I and Highwall charged, taking their pickets by surprise. Celebor and Hawksclaw rained death from the skies and all appeared well until a hidden Flame Acolyte summoned raging Minotaur who quickly sniffed out the Brinchie and gave chase. Fleet as the wind, Longtail led the beast on a merry chase, but was soon under assault from both childer and spellcaster. Meanwhile, the great range sent many of our archer’s arrows astray and their quick response slowed out foot advance to a crawl.

2016MinotaurJJAlt.jpg

Only by the Ascended’s fortune was I finally able to reach the center of camp and catch the Minotaur by surprise. So focused on the destruction of Longtail was the mighty thing that he missed my approach. I cleaved in in a single blow. Longtail then was able to slow and engage the Red Store Bandit leader in combat. Hawksclaw found his range while Highwall clove through the enemy shield wall.

From somewhere to the west, and unexpected, but welcome surprise came in the form of elves who rained death upon the bandits. What complaint they had with our enemies, I know not, but their timely arrive tied down many would be combatants. Finally, in single combat I dispatched the Acolyte and with help from our arrows, Longtail all but vanquished the leader. Yet, using some sorcery, he slipped out grasp.

At this moment, with their command destroyed, the bandits wavered. Only then did their hear the sound of approaching thunder bringing their doom. Like an avalanche, the Hammerfell riders swept through the camp crushing the enemy before them. And with that, the battle was over. My men secured the gold and loaded it on a convenient wagon. We camped their that night, gathered the dead and treated the wounded.

The return to the Echer’Naught will be long and hard as the weather turned bitterly cold, but never before has the King’s gold been so secured. At final count, we recovered more than 80% and reclaimed out honor.

Each member of my team performed exceptionally. And with the destruction of the bandit camp, I pray that lawlessness in that region should be quite reduced. Now, we face a new threat, but not one of man, but of nature. Winter is setting in fully here and the days turn cool, the night frigid. Our humble outpost is still woefully incomplete, but I have the highest hopes for out future.

Your obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Captain

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Campaign Report 6
On the Trail of Bandits

Captain Wolfhaven, Alexander

Grey Ranger Outpost, Echer’Naught

Eighteenth Day, Harvest Moon, Year 3122 Under the Light

More troubles plague our lands. My team returned with little to report. No evidence of interference was found along the single passable road to and from the southern baronies. And yet, all was not well. Weeks passed before we received word from the Lord Mayor to proceed.

We were summoned to the base of the Beacon Hill, at the Greenway gate early in the morning of the 6th day of Harvest Moon when the land was covered in a thick layer of hoarfrost. There we met the Sheriff Halten and his men accompanying two heavily armored wagons. While the Royal Sheriff Lord Halten accompanied the decoy, my men escorted the true Tax caravan.

There should have been no way for anyone outside of the Lord Mayor’s circle to know the time and place of the caravan. And yet, on their return trip from the farthest barony, my scouts came upon a wagon broken down and obstructing the road. Yet, when they attempted to help clear the way, the “merchants” attacked them. It seemed, to my men, that these bandits were expecting my men in particular, the Rangers, indicating a surprising and terrifyingly detailed knowledge of not only our route, but the disposition of the guards.

Though they fought well, one of the villains managed to escape the skimish. Odd enough, they discovered that each of the attackers wore a red cloth tied around one of their arms. Some symbol of their allegiance. Rather than pursue the foe, they returned with honor to their primary task, to protect the wagon. What they found was too terrible to contemplate.

The armored carriage had been attacked, the tax gold taken and the guards destroyed.
Ranger 1st class Hawksclaw examined the scene and determined the guards had been betrayed by their own, nearly half of the King’s guards appeared to have been part of the robbery, though he was unable to determine in which direction the gold had been taken.

Exhausted and wounded in battle, my men, regardless of their own suffering, remained at their post until such time as reinforcements arrived. I was first on scene, but was soon followed by Field Marshal Von Wrangel. He and his Hammerfell riders assumed posts around the site waiting for the Royal Sheriff to arrive.

In camp the following morning, I was greeted by Sheriff Halten and Von Wrangel. They were dubious about the incident and tempers flared, yet, the Field Marshal set plans into motion. Ranger 1st class Hawksclaw was dispatched to High Druidess Treesinger in hopes of sending a message to the Gray Ranger Celebor, a renown tracker. In the meantime, my men gathered in Echer’Naught, all but the stalwart Grimbore who remained to protect the outpost.

Now, we race against time. Can we track the bandits before they disperse the gold beyond our reach? Time will tell. For now, we can only hope. With winter coming, the lands will become impassable. We must strike now or lose hope forever.

Your obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Captain

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