Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Tenth Day of White River, Year 3124 Under the Light
With any operation there is inherent risk and commanders must be willing to accept losses or he will quickly lose control. That said, when faced with a pattern of high risk, poorly executed operations with unsustainable losses, something must change. For this reason, I contacted Kythros via Farspeaker on the 1st of Gray Winds 3124 and requested an investigatory team be dispatched to my post for a complete top down review.
Despite every precaution taken and complying fully with all rules and regulations I continue to feel a nagging suspicion that my command has been compromised at the highest levels. Such paranoia has even cause my behavior to grow erratic as I tilt at windmills and jump at shadows. And yet, the thought that any of my Rangers could be colluding with outside forces fills me with sorrow.
I received word almost immediately, as if plans were already in the works, that a team would arrive by late Gray Winds. That issue in progress I turned my attention to Echer’Naught, the war in the north, and plans for my coming sortie. With the additional forces already dispatched from High Command, the unit brought in from Camp Wolfhaven, not to mention the Herculean efforts by my Stahlheim brothers, Echer’Naught was better staffed than it had been since before the Kal breached the walls.
Already, civilians, merchants, artisans, and soldiers arrived in growing numbers. The Low Town Housing Blocks near completion, good news as the tenement town in that district is filling to burst. And between the various forces at work within the city, our detention facilities are also quite full.
My own residence has received the highest levels of security housing as it does some of our most precious personnel: Hawksclaw’s family, my son, Lady Moonsiver (our only Farspeaker) and, of course, my dearest Lady Elyanna.
Plans move forward with the northern excursion, ships chartered, supplies stocked in Camp Wolfhaven. Barring any unforeseen circumstances the project should be ready to move forward by year’s end. I am worried though how my command staff will take this new mission. Assuming, of course, my command survives the coming investigation.
And, lastly, there is the delicate issue of Lady Moonsilver. A topic of which of which I will elaborate in due time.
Firstly, however, I must speak to the mission to recover Ranger 1st Class Rysak from captivity at the hands of agents of Darkness. My last report ended on the 15th of Gray Winds in the city of Paradise with my Rangers having recovered Rysak, or what was left of the Dwarf after the villains had scooped out his mind, and were holed up planning in their base of operations in the fetid, reeking yurt behind the tanning yards.
They rested for the day, lying low making plans.
In the wee hours of the 16th of Gray Winds, Evoran was collecting the private funds of the Rangers in the hope of scraping enough money to afford passage out of the Paradise Ports. Our new ally Jade Flame Adept Benjamin Toma, Longtail’s newest hire SwiftBlade (the Brinchie), and, of course, Fekla who could not fit inside the Yurt were all on watch while the remaining team, Sergeant Que’Kassars, Corporal Ravenwood, Rangers 1st Class Silverfeather and Ramshorn, and Ranger Zulcrum planned for their escape with the Dwarf.
They were in the middle of discussions when things, as usual, went south, hard. Unknown assassins attacked the sentries outside. Both Toma and SwiftBlade had their throats unceremoniously slit. Fekla was blinded by some alchemical concoction. She, of course, bellowed.
Alerted to the danger, the Rangers leaped into action. Sarin reacted quickest, bursting out the door. His action, however, perplexes me. Seeing Fekla beginning to succumb to rage, he elected to shoot her in the leg. This did little damage but immediately provoked her into attacking. Since she could not see, she simply smashed everything in the vicinity.
Thorgram exited next and, assessing the situation, elected to drag the wounded Adept back into the tent for healing. And proceed to do so. As preoccupied as he was, he missed the alchemical bombs being tossed into the tent over his shoulder.
Evoran spotted them just as they exploded in his face, destroying the tent and blasting everyone inside. Even as the bombs sailed through the air both Thorgram and Thomas reacted with lighting speed each using his own body to shield an ally: Thorgram protected his patient and Thomas threw himself in front of Samira who, though blown out of the tent, was unharmed.
Both men survived their heroics, though I understand that Thomas was “hurled like a man sized discus.” As the dust settled and Evoran began to dust himself off and stamp out the fire engulfing his robes, Samira noticed that one of their number was decidedly absent: Rysak.
In the explosion, the Dwarf had freed himself and escaped. Fortunately, his tracks were easy to follow. There were precious few soot footed Dwarves running around Paradise.
After calming Fekla down, Evoran left Thorgram and Samira with Fekla and the downed sentries (Toma and SwiftBlade) to oversee their treatment and to keep Fekla from going berserk while he, Thomas, and Samira tracked the mad dwarf. The diminutive warrior had not made if far. Obviously the explosion had done serious damage.
The trio came upon Rysak raving in a pit left over when a building burned to the ground. The dwarf was pain crazy and clawing at the sides like a blind man. Thomas volunteered to climb down into the pit to retrieve the Ranger. The Olaran easily slid into the pit just in time to be brained by Rysak who had picked up a piece of charred wood. That sparked the fight which continued to rage.
Two heavily armed Rangers slaughtering each other in the pit began to attract unwanted attention. A crowd gathered, coin changed hands, and I understand that local hawkers even began selling food like the fight was some planned public spectacle.
Eventually, Evoran was forced to act. Despite the inadequacies in their arms, the two warriors were simply too evenly matched resulting in a prolonged and public put the team in greater and greater risk the longer they remained. Worse, agents of Darkness could arrive at any moment and the rest of his team were back at their former camp at less than half strength. With few options remaining to him, Evoran ordered Sarin to end the fight.
As usual, the Paladin executed his duties with ruthless dispatch. Rysak went down like a sack of oats and Thomas dragged the Dwarf’s lifeless body out of the pit. Everything seemed to be turning around…
However, back at the camp site things were not going as well. Under normal circumstances a raging Ogress would probably have sent the locals packing. However, this was a den of prostitutes, thieves, floater dealers, and their addicts. By report, her ruckus even broke up an attempted murder of a John by his harlot.
These unhappy souls were very put off being disturbed from their vices and began to gather with violent intent. After seeing to the wounded, Thorgram felt the best course of action would be to scare the growing crowd away with a well-timed intimidation. A sensible plan which failed utterly.
Rather than scaring off the crowd, his actions provoked them to rage. A crowd became a mob and attacked. Suddenly the wounded Adept and Mercenary found themselves under attack again. Thorgram, seeing his only option would be to slaughter civilians, turned tail and bolted to find the Sergeant. That is what I choose to believe. SwiftBlade also chose the better part of value and followed on his heels.
Unfortunately, this left a wounded and dazed Ben, a helpless Samira, and a blind, and pissed off Fekla behind to face the mob alone. It really didn’t matter. As soon as Fekla came under attack all reservation fled and she set about killing everything. This managed to break up the mob, but not until she had murdered at least two dozen citizens of that city.
I imagine that she will not be welcomed again.
Evoran, on his way back, look up to see a fountain of blood and a spooked half-orc running in his direction. The reunion was far from joyous as the Sergeant manhandled the Ranger BACK in the direction of the mass slaughter. By the time the team reunited, the battle was over and the field was a thick soup of blood, offal, and charred remains from the blast.
Now the entire city was aware of their presence and all of the collected money had been scattered by the bombs and much picked up by the rioters leaving the Rangers stranded in a hostile city with little hope of escape. They were saved by the timely intervention of a friendly forces in the guise of a woman named Danica, a member of the Golden Gryphons.
Apparently, they stationed a team in the region keeping tabs on enemy activity. My Ranger’s somewhat raucous activities impelled them to act on our behalf lest the entire unit of Rangers get themselves killed. Danica led the team to the Gryphon camp outside of the city where her Captain Rhine spoke with Evoran.
He agreed to escort the Rangers and their captive to a nearby independent port town of Tovin. The Rangers had to agree to follow his commands and keep in line. Evoran readily agreed. And so, the Rangers began a week long hike along the coastal road out of the Desert Princes.
However, by the first night Danica had spotted an enemy column following the group. Each successive night, the enemies came closer. On that first night, Corporal Ravenwood was able to stealth into the enemy camp and observe their number. It seemed that they had been lighting more than twice the number of campfires at night than would be required for a force of their size in an effort to psychologically intimidate the Rangers. Worse, they were carrying with them the means to animate powerful Undead servants.
For three days and nights the enemy column marched in perfect close order, quickly establishing their faux camp and running the Rangers into the ground. The Shaya’Nor unit executed Olaran tactics as if trained at the Helt Academy.
On the third night, the 18th of Gray Winds, the Captain Rhine told Evoran that he expected an attack that or the following night. And, should things turn ugly, Evoran was to lead the Rangers out while his men covered their retreat sending only Danica as a guide. His words were prophetic.
In the pre-dawn hours on the 20th, Darkness attacked.
Thorgram was on the line, when the Troglanesh surged out of the woodline. After four days without sleep, both Sarin and Evoran were unconcious due to fatigue. Ben had just awakened from 18 hours of fitful sleep due to the blood loss of his severed throat.
Weary, battered and demoralized, the Rangers managed to form ranks and engage the enemy advance. Fekla, frustrated by the days events charged into battle with abandon. The Rangers survived the first onslaught, but more enemies surged and with them Bone Golems which engaged Fekla and pinned her with their bone-whip tentacles.
Roused by the sounds of battle, Evoran and Sarin staggered to their feet. Evoran rallied his men while Sarin soared in and summoned the power of Archanon to blast the Bone Golems with sheering white Light. The beasts were staggered and eventually released under onslaught.
However, Sarin took four bolt of Black Iron to the chest and began to fade. Evoran, realizing the situation called for withdrawal. Even as he was laying down fire, a new figure, the enemy commander strode onto the field. He was a creature unlike they had ever seen, clad in black armor with a flowing black cape.
On he came, neither quickly or with hesitation, but stalked forward with a slow steady pace. Captain Rhine charged to meet him and was easily, and unceremoniously bisected by a single, casual backhanded blow from the villains enchanted sword.
With that, Evoran ordered his men off the field and the Rangers turned and left the last two Gryphons to by a few precious seconds with their lives. It worked. The Rangers reached the port of Tovin without encountering any further attempts by Darkness.
By the time they reached Tovin on the 21st, Fekla was carrying over the team who had passed out from exhaustion. They were forced to collapse in an inn until everyone had time to recover. Fortunately, the stay in Tovin was without incident and Danika was able to secure passage on a freighter headed to Eastport.
The group sailed out of Tovin on the 23rd and arrived in Eastport without incident on the 31st of Gray Winds after a boring 11th day journey home. Picking up their mounts, they headed home via the Eldara road. Again, this leg of the journey was completed without interruption, thank Archanon, and my Rangers arrived ragged and tired, but triumphant on the 9th of White River.
When the team entered, not having even stopped to change, I already had a guest, the Inspector, a Dregordian Adept who leads the most successful, and thorough, investigation team in the Corps. He and his team had arrived in the city on the 21st of Gray Winds (22 days before) giving them ample time to begin their investigation.
Their first major breakthru was to discover that the Red Lamp had simply vanished. Not the physical structure, but the entire building had been cleaned out and there staff, Madame Lithillien included, had simply vanished. No one that could be reached knew anything. The only evidence found was that they had closed their doors “temporarily” for some renovation (post invasion) and never re-opened.
Of note, Sergeant Minor Longtail’s husband, Streetrunner, also vanished and is wanted for questioning.
The investigation team, with nearly a month, had already perused our entire library of reports, going through all unit and personal records, spoken with most of the key figures in the town and started Mind Reading the newer recruits.
The Inspector has also issued an order that non-Rangers will be excluded from High Level Ranger missions until our security situation can be addressed.
Even with the spectre of the inquest in the room, my Rangers delivered their report with professionalism to make me proud. The investigation team took custody of Rysak to begin his interrogation while I dismissed my men to get cleaned up and eat something hot.
I did ask that Evoran would accompany me for a brief moment for an important mission.
For months I have been keeping Eris Moonsilver away from her fellow Rangers. In fact, she has not had personal contact in over four months. We also increased security and provided round the clock protection on her person.
When Evoran entered the room where Hawksclaw’s family stood around Eris who held a baby boy in her arms born the 6th of White River, 3124. Hawksclaw’s son. If our enemies had learned that our only Farspeaker was entering the end of her pregnancy, they could have planned coordinated attacks while our communications were down.
Worse, they might have attempted to kidnap or harm woman or child. When I realized that a Shade had replaced one of our own and that I might be allowing the enemy access to the mother, I, perhaps, overreacted. Nevertheless, I feel confident that now that my team understands the reason behind my bizarre behavior they will forgive any harshness in my attitude.
With security still at a premium, only Evoran was allowed direct access to the child. But, with the Last Call that evening for Von D and all our recent fallen, I felt it a perfect opportunity to allow the Sergeant make the announcement.
I must admit that sitting in the room with all my Rangers listening to Evoran announce the birth and seeing the great joy on everyone’s faces warmed my heart and gave me hope. It was only marred slightly by the figure of the Inspector lurking in the corner like a ghost.
We have much to do and I still cannot shake this nagging suspicion that we are betrayed. I only hope that if and when such is revealed, the fallout will not irrevocably damage this unit. I would rather take the fall than break up what has become a family.
Tomorrow is the 10th of White River. A new day and we have new potential recruits. Danica would be a solid asset, as would Ben. I have hope for the future.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara