Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Fifteenth Day of Gray Winds, Year 3124 Under the Light
My Rangers awoke just outside of Anasia on the 22nd of White Stagg and began the long trek home through the Elven woods. For the most part, the trip was uneventful, save for the night that they lost nearly all of the tomes they had lost so much to retrieve. At the time, they were awoken on the night of the 24th in the woods between Ey’Dreigh and Greenvale by the sight of a small bonfire in the distant woods.
Ranger 1st Class Ironblood and the newest addition Ben Toma were on watch. They immediately alerted Sergeant Que’kassars. The good Sergeant ordered Ranger 1st Class Silverfeather and Corporal Ravenwood forward to scout as he readied the unit.
What they discovered chilled their bones, causing Sarin to make haste back to the camp with word that the bonfire was, in fact, a book burning…possibly those books they had been charged to protect. Evoran frantically checked Fekla’s sack to find a neat cut in the weave and the vessel entirely empty of books. In a mild panic, the Sergeant deployed his Rangers to the bonfire where he rescued as many books from the fire while the team formed a perimeter.
With the package secured as well as possible, the Rangers searched the area for tracks and found few; all of which vanished within a short distance. Now wide awake, the Rangers pushed on, though for the duration of the trip, the last few books were kept at all times with whomever was on watch so that at no time were they “out of sight”.
They arrived here in Echer’Naught on the 30th of White Stagg, fatigued and in pain from their recent loss. I had ordered our flags lowered to half mast as soon as I was notified of Von Dietrich’s death and I hoped that our collective mourning might ease their pain. Que’kassars’ debrief was short, and rather succinct; a sure indicator of his suffering. As usual, I gave his team leave while they recovered from the mission. I also planned to have Von D’s Last Call and funeral in the next few days, once everyone sufficiently rested.
After the general meet was over, I spoke privately with Corporal Ravenwood concerning her…affliction. With Von D’s recent betrayal, I benched her until she presented a reasonable plan for controlling her burgeoning abilities; whatever those may be.
I was surprised and pleased by SwiftBlade’s skill and ability during this entire episode and, after the recent crisis is abated and he is found loyal, I intend to offer him the cloak. We shall see if he accepts.
Also, I know that Sergeant Que’kassars took the opportunity to pull Von D’s Last Will and Testament. His request was that only the Sergeant was to handle his affairs.
Of note, I understand that Sarin Silverfeather has been promoted to Curate of the Church of Light. He is owed congratulations. He performed a difficult duty without hesitation and deserves our gratitude. Although, I fear that not even Sarin was able to destroy Von D. There will come a reckoning.
With things moving apace at the HQ, I elected to go ahead and have the Last Call the following evening on the 31st of White Stagg at my own home in the city. I was inside with most of the Rangers when the alarm bell was sounded at the front gates. My men responded with surprising alacrity, easily beating me to the door.
By the time I arrived, the battle, such as it was, had moved across the street and down an ally where Rangers and local guards were clustered around a pile of what looked like armor. Something about the scene disturbed me and as I rode in, they parted slowly before me. At a glance, I noted the armor and weapons belonged to Ranger 1st Class Rysak Ironblood, but of the dwarf, there was no sign.
From the shocked and agitated expressions, I braced for the worst. It was Fekla, however, who revealed to our company the true horror…
For some time, likely long before leaving the Island, Rysak had been replaced by a creature of Darkness…a Shade…
I had now lost TWO Rangers to Darkness and all for a handful of water and fire damaged tomes that may, or may not, be of any use. Could I have been deceived? Could Von D have been working against us for longer than we surmised?
Immediately, I sent Sarin to the Temple of the Silver Unicorn to enlist the aid of her Paladins. They, above all, could hunt this beast. And then a new horror dawned…
Despite our careful observations and routine mental and spiritual examinations, the potential that I had willingly allowed an agent of Vainar’s will to manipulate me so completely. It was then that I realized if two of my Rangers were now in league with Darkness, more could be. I made immediately to my manor and had it further locked down.
Now, at all times!
Rangers, Gendarre and Anaxelum’s men scoured the manor finding now further evidence of infiltration, but to be sure, I evicted all by my most trusted agents.
Shortly, my Rangers arrived to find me deep in thought. My mind spun, plotting and counter plotting the moves. What information had our enemy gained, how would they use it, how must I maneuver to stop them. A thousand thousand scenarios played out, each one more dastardly than the last…
I am locked in a deadly game with formidable foes on all sides and already I have lost Olgor to Flame, Hawksclaw and Sarah to Velkalar, and now both Von D AND Rysak to Darkness…
It required all of my will not to succumb to the righteous anger that very nearly overwhelmed me. As it was, I fear that I spoke too harshly to my men who had only ever acted to the best of their abilities. Evoran braved my attention and I demanded a report.
He confirmed the worst, that Rysak was gone and we had a Shade loose in the city. And, it seems that it was the Shade who mostly likely stole and burned the books, though, I cannot dismiss that our newest addition, Toma, was on guard as well.
I cannot afford the luxury of trust. With so much at stake, I could not permit this team, compromised as it was, to remain within the manor. Until such time as I could form a reasonable plan moving forward, they would have to be confined to quarters at the Regional HQ for their safety and for ours.
As they departed, the crushing weight of responsibility crashed down. So many lost, so many enemies worming their way into our ranks… Losing Rysak seemed the straw to break me. Who can I trust now?
There was a time when I knew each Ranger by name, and by heart. Rah-Sahn, Aradove, Rildrirr and even Evoran had served with me in the trenches. By now, from my desk atop the hill I had become an imperious, faceless overlord. And in return, I had lost any sense of the heart of my men…
At least, there are still a few who I have shed blood with and who have never failed me, Rildrirr, Alfred, Evoran…to lose any one of these…or worse, to lost faith? I do not know if I could recover.
I presumed Ryask to be lost to us…but it would appear that might not be the case. Though I am loathe, I cannot reveal my source here, but a little bird whispered that the Shaya’Nor fleet from Nazatir had made berth in the Desert Princes port of Paradise, an ill named city if I had ever heard.
So, on the 1st of Gray Winds, 3124, I summoned the Alpha team, plus Fekla, SwiftBlade and Ben Toma to my office. Their choice was simple. They could embark on an unsanctioned, potentially suicidal, mission with a barest hope of recovering our lost Ranger and in doing prove their loyalty…at least somewhat. Or, they could remain in protective custody until the Ranger Investigation team arrived.
All chose to go and I have them leave. They would travel west to Eldara, catch a boat south to Eastport and then take a ship west to Paradise where they were to recover Rysak, if possible, or destroy whatever he had become. Samira, however, had a choice to make, to embrace her Tempest and follow Nell’s path, or to seek Anaxelum’s mental discipline. She chose the latter.
Of note, Ranger Zulcrum has elected to continue his arc-fire training with Sergeant Major Stormhammer, assuming he returns.
My Rangers were gone by mid-day, riding hard and fast. Moving fast on horse-back, they could make it to Eldara in 4 days and 2 more would have them in Eastport.
While they embarked on their mission, I turned my attention to other matters. The recent setbacks had shaken me deeply. So much so, that I sent a message to Kythros requesting an official inquest into my leadership and the Rangers under my command. It is only a matter of time before the ills that have befallen my command to demand direct action from Kythros. So much better that I request an investigation into my leadership and cooperate fully.
On a better note, the Rangers of Stahlheim have proven their worth again. The construction projects move forward apace and they have managed to triumph over the forces of Darkness and corruption within the city. They even captured a potential source of information, if we can keep her alive and away from her former comrades. Below are enclosed reports.
My Rangers arrived in Eastport on the 7th of Gray Winds and were able to charter a boat through Pirate infested waters to Paradise. By some miracle, they arrived without incident and made port in Paradise on the 14th of Gray Winds 3124. I have never had occasion to enter the Desert Princes, but from everything I have learned from the Olaran soldiers returning from the country, the land is only marginally preferable to the Empire in that, at least in the Desert, the ruling powers are not trying to enslave you…they simply don’t care if you are enslaved.
Language would be an issue and it fell to Thomas and Thorgram to speak for the group. As I understand via Ms. Moonsilver, the group was “made” by end of day and the local refused to work with them. Left with little choice, the Rangers gathered at a local watering hole in hopes of posing as Olaran mercenaries to find work. This too was short lived as Trolls from Shaya’Nor agents within the city attacked Fekla starting a brawl which attracted far too much attention.
Worse, during the ensuing fight, some party attempted to kidnap Corporal Ravenwood, likely to sell her into slavery. Alone, now outed, the Rangers were in dire straights…only to encounter an individual I cannot say I am happy was in town.
Longtail’s friend, the assassin arrived and offered his assistance…for a hefty fee. Looking back, I can see that my tolerance for allowing my Rangers to work with such individuals has come at a high price. Yes, there are those such as Fateweaver and Streetrunner who have eventually made for themselves a better life. Yet, I cannot help but feel that I have been far to lax in regards to protocol. Consider my agreement to allow the Red Lamp to continue operation within the city.
When the Ranger inquest arrives, I feel that many of these policies will be subject to change.
Nevertheless, with few options, Sergeant Que’kassars agreed to the mercenary’s terms. In return for providing safe housing and information on Rysak, we paid him a king’s ransom. Per usual, he was good as his word and set up the Rangers in a foul-smelling hovel behind a tannery. Despite the foul stench, I understand that it was surprisingly secluded and relatively safe.
Meanwhile, the assassin made inquires and discovered that the Shaya’Nor fleet was still in port, for once intelligence live up to the hype, and that the dignitaries were staying in a local complex owned by one of the city’s powerful shieks.
He also revealed that they had a company of Dwergs, corrupted dwarves, in their company. His deal complete, he left the Rangers to plan their next moves.
Attacking the ships was out of the question and the complex would be a tough nut to crack. So, the Rangers decided to try and find the Dwergs outside of either location. And, as Dwergs are still technically dwarves, bars seemed the most likely locale. Leaving Fekla and Corproal Ravenwood to secure their…base, the Rangers went hunting Dwergs.
Perhaps unsurprising, the Dark dwarves were not trying to hide. They were partying at a tavern within a short walk from their own complex. However, the situation proved more dire when Thorgram noticed that one of the 7 dwergs in attendance was none other than Rysak himself…
…another of our company had joined with Darkness…
Targets located, Ben approached the barkeep who was more than happy to keep tabs on the dwergs, for a large purse. With that, the Rangers collected their allies and made ready the ambush.
In the wee hours of the 15th of Gray Winds, the Rangers of Echer’Naught fell upon the unsuspecting villains as they staggered back from a night’s carousing. The plan: Take out Rysak quickly and finish off the other dwergs, though they understood their orders and were prepared to kill Rysak if necessary.
As it happened, the ambush was textbook and Rysak went down early. Moping up the other dwergs was not difficult, and they might have even had some help from our “friend”. With Rysak bound, they retreated to their tent to make preparations to leave the city. Unfortunately, when they attempted to wake Rysak for questioning, the dwarf thrashed and spat like a mandman forcing them to knock him out.
My latest report was just before dawn, Eris relayed that they were going to attempt to book passage on a ship home. I hope they are successful. A land route home would be…problematic and long.
I am left with too many dilemmas. So we have recovered Rysak, but his mind is gone, consumed by the monster which is still, presumably, in my city. I am unsure whether I can trust my top team and I am now more concerned whether I should even allow Thorgram and Samira to remain on active duty, considering what happened with Von D. Can I afford to lose their skills?
Darkness is rising and Velkalar kills Rangers by the day. I pray Longtail’s mission is successful. We need a victory.
May Archanon guide me.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara