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

Slayer Report 9
Ambush on the Road

To:
Col. Baron, A. Wolfhaven

From:
RFC. M. VonDiedrich

Golden Eagle, 22nd.

Colonel,
I wanted to address this to you, personally. Here is my report of our return, and my thoughts on the matter. I will be as brief as I am able.
Athrait, our party, and I left the ruined citadel nearly a week and a half ago. The first leg of the journey was quiet. We traveled by day, and set up a fortified camp each night. Having lost the two paladins, we pulled double guard duty. The whole trip, that red dwarf just sneered.

We were a day south of Harken when we were attacked. The night started quietly. I, and a Ranger Trainee took over the watch. I took a place at the rear of our wagon.
It was nearly two in the morning, and one of the Longarms saw a figure in the darkness. Luckily, this gave us a moment to prepare.
I told the other Trainee to fetch Athrait… He made it ten feet, before I herd his death gurgle, from the dark.

I strained to see into the night, as my anger swelled. From before me, a specter took shape, arms silently outstretched. I felt it coil, and try to wrest what was left of my soul from me. It drained my strength, but I was able to slash it, thus destroying it.
Each man was in a similar predicament. But, unlike me, their weapons were not Whitesilver. They had no defense. I hissed at another that was coming for me, but chose to aid one of the Longarms.
I dispatched the third, a moment later, and went around the wagon. As I did I herd the death whisper of a Shayakar.

I rounded the wagon, and found a desperate scene. Another Longarm was locked in a fourth specter’s grip, and the last Trainee was stabbing under the wagon. I freed the Longarm, and saw that the Trainee was fighting a troglodyte. He was bleeding, but still fighting. I stuck the diminutive thing, and it squealed it’s last.

That’s when I saw it.
From behind, a wraith, mounted on it’s skeletal steed, rode into the firelight. “Oh no…” I said.

It charged us and I braced in front of the others. It cleaved through my guard and into my chest. I thought the wound was mortal. It was not, fortunately, but my Nightshade was ripped from top to bottom. I fell to my knees.
From the darkness, Athrait slid next to me and covered us with his shield. His timing was impeccable, because the wraith charged again. Athrait began to pray, and I felt the healing that he invoked. Then the thing broke our small line again, cutting Athrait savagely.

I told the others to get under the wagon, because their weapons would not hurt the wraith. Athrait, managed to cut into it, and it growled in pain. Then he prayed and an angel blazed from the sky.
It looked upon the wraith with disdain.
“Finally, some relief”, I thought. But no. The ghastly rider sneered, and put it’s sword through the angel, shattering it like crystal. I herd Athrait gasp, and those under the wagon cry out. “No!” I screamed.
I looked to Athrait as it charged again, and said, “it’s been a pleasure.” I grabbed my sword in both hands, and at the last moment, lept toward the thing. For my effort, I cleaved into it, and it screeched before dying.
I landed in a bloody heap, and Athrait rushed over.

I looked to see the Longarms kneeling over the last Trainee. He was dead. Killed by the troglodyte’s poisoned knife. I slammed my fists into the dirt in rage.
Then I herd the dwarf snicker his disdain. My vision blurred with anger. I stood, and stalked toward him. I intended to carve that smile, permanently, into his face. Athrait grabbed me. “No! He is not worth it!”, he barked.
“And this is! All of them!”, I screamed!
He looked over the bodies strewn on the ground.
“Let’s kill the bastard. End it now!”, I said, trembling with anger.
For the first time, I saw Alystar look with empathy at me. “We have a job to do VonDiedrich. They’ve done theirs.”
“Fine” I said, through gritted teeth. I walked over to the Trainee’s body, and stared at the dwarf. I raised my sword and took the Trainee’s head.

From then, until dawn, we burned those poor boys bodies.
I wore their ashes and the stench like a mask of death. We all did. I have never grieved, but on that night, I did. Thankfully, that grief has been replaced with anger. Anger, I can deal with.

You know the rest of the story. We arrived, and reported to Sgt. Maj. Stormhammer.

I admit, I did have a difficult time bearing the loss of those boys. I understand that you know more about these things than I. However, I was trained to fight alone, so adjusting has been… difficult.
But, Colonel, I’ve taken the last two or three days to really sit, buckle down, and think.
I had a good talk with Miss Moonsilver, which gave me great insight into the troubles of others, including herself. She is a very dutiful woman, and I appreciated her time.
Then, yesterday, I spoke at length with the Sgt. Major. He was very candid, and helped me to find a direction for my anger. He is a good man, I think. I suppose you could say that he has helped me to regain my focus. I am appreciative for his time, and insight.

I now understand that we all have a job to do, a purpose to fill, and a calling to follow. I can accept the fates of others, and I will choose to accept mine. I do not expect to live for too long. But, with the time that I do have, I will serve.

Respectfully submitted,
RFC. M. VonD.

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Campaign Report 40
Baron Alexander Wolfhaven

Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Twenty Sixth Day of Golden Eagle, Year 3124 Under the Light

I awoke well before dawn on the 21st of Golden Eagle, my first day of resumed command of the Regional Headquarters at Echer’Naught. Lieutenant Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw has command admirably in my absence. Should it be his desire, I will support his continued progress through the ranks. He would make a superlative Captain, though, I wonder if he might not prefer to remain at his current rank.

At any rate, I rose and had a quiet meal in my own kitchen. I was surprised by Lady Elyanna who it seems rises earlier that I. She prepared a wonderful bowl of corn meal, a curious dish but one I might grow to enjoy.
Within the hour servants, staff and hirelings began to arrive to continue preparations for the night’s banquets. Ranger Ranger Sarah had the detail well in hand, per usual. And, Olgor was ably handling the administrative details which left me with little to do. I find idleness does not agree with me.

Half an hour before the appointed time, I gathered Alfred and we rode down to the Ranger outpost in town. By the time we arrived, those Rangers not currently on duty had assembled. I could hear them stirring within. Alfred preceded me and announced my arrival.

When I entered, my Rangers stood at attention and for a moment, I was again back in the War with the grim faced Hammerfalls… I wonder if I am growing melancholy.

Taking my place at the head of the room nearest the large front door, I addressed my Rangers. The brief was straightforward. I began with promotions.

First, I promoted Ranger Thorgram Ramshorn to full Ranger status.

Second, I promoted Alfred Ranger to Ranger 1st class. In addition, I have adopted Alfred into my bloodline with full hereditary titles. He is now, and forever, Alfred Wolfhaven. It has been years since I was able to surprise the boy.

Third, I promoted Evoran Que’kasaars to Corporal and appointed him Steward of the Echer’Naught HQ.
Lastly, I promoted Sergeant Longtail to Sergeant Minor, much to her displeasure. I also appointed her to the position of Quartermaster for the Echer’Naught HQ.

It seems odd now, but we have all come so far…

After a few words of, what I hope was inspiration, I went over new protocols of military bearing, dress and discipline. All of which is covered in my addendum to Lt. Hawksclaw’s General Order 3.

With business concluded, I dismissed myself and allowed my Rangers their breakfast. I left as I entered, my Rangers at perfect military attention. Yes I know that the Ranger Corps behave more like Celebor most times, but someone must hold to a higher standard. That chance starts here. With us.

After departing I too went in search of a bit to eat. I find I am more than partial to Schenkle bread and treated Alfred Wolfhaven to a bite. He has barely spoken a word since his promotion. He walks as if in a dream.

Breakfast concluded, I sent Ranger 1st Class Wolfhaven to attend to his duties while I made an inspection of the men in the field. I first joined Rangers Ramshorn and Trainee Ironblood in the Low Town District. They were on foot patrol and I observed them passing, frustration plain on Ironblood’s features.

We spoke, briefly as we walked and I explained more of the operation of the city. I know that my education was learned in the field and in hindsight some forewarning would have been a boon. We walked together only a short while before I made my leave.

After this, I patrolled all four gates and spoke with the Rangers stationed there. Each Ranger performed well. I am pleased.

Leaving the surface streets, I took to the wall and came upon newly minted Ranger Ravenwood standing watch over the North Gate. We spoke briefly about home and family. I mentioned that she might want to consider visiting the Sacred Grove should she feel homesick. I also pointed her to the Autumn Spring which seems to be a gathering place for Elvenkind in Echer’Naught.

That done, I made the long, arduous trek to the top of the Beacon Tower and looked out over the city and the lands about her. Every field, every garden, every vine burst with riotous color and natural splendor.
Echer’Naught is truly a magnificent city.

At midafternoon I retired to my own house to ensure final preparations for the evening’s banquet were moving apace. I had little to fear for Ranger Sarah had all well in hand. Voices and laughter rang down the halls as servants, groomsmen, bottlers and hired staff swarmed like ants.

I…I confess, my thoughts were drawn to the past, but this time not to the war…but to the days in my father’s hall. I recall as a boy I would run through the halls, getting into everything and trying to steal sweets from the kitchen. My mother loved formal events nearly as badly as father hated them.
The light, the music, the dancing…

They were happier times. Or perhaps not? As I sat watching the bustle, Sarah’s beaming face, Alfred working with the staff, Gendarre and his men trying to goose servant girls who giggled back…

It was almost…

…almost…

But that is the past.

By evening all was in preparation and I retired to dress. Sarah is truly a wizard with needle and thread. My new dress inform fit like a glove and, despite my reservations, looked rather dashing. Dawning my sash, sword belt and gloves I made my way downstairs were my uncomfortable Ranger staff were gathering in the fore hall. Hawksclaw and Evoran seemed the only two at ease. Of course Lady Moonsilver stood beside her dashing officer like diaphanous moonlight, pale and lovely.

Evoran looked the peacock, but not a stitch out of place. He has come far from the pompous Sorcerer who arrived in a dark hour. I have grown to greatly respect the Eldakar and see a bright future for him in the Rangers.

Upon arrival, I made an immediate check of all preparations. This dinner must go without complication or much face would be lost. So focused was I on the final details that I completely missed the arrival of my houseguest, Lady Elyanna.

I was the only one.

All eyes turned toward the balcony as she glided down the stairs. Raven haired, eyes sparking like emeralds in a dress of green gossamer and silk. For a moment, all lights, even those in the heavens dimmed as she floated to the landing.

In battle I have never faltered, against demons, horrors of the night and all manner of fiends from beyond the veil. I am undaunted. But when her coy smiled touched her rosy lips I fear all thought and awareness abandoned me. I was lost, adrift on a sea with only her star to guide me.

I was…enchanted.

How long I stood like some lovestruck schoolboy, I cannot say, but Hawksclaw’s gentle cough roused me from my stupor. I am not so much a fool to know that I had been ambushed and for a heartbeat, I had thoughts to be cross with my erstwhile friends. Until of course, Elyanna slipped her arm in mine and all such notions faded like morning dew in the face of the sunlight of her smile…

We received no fewer than fifty guest, among them the Lord Mayor, the Royal Sheriff, Lord RabenClau and even the High Druidess Treesinger herself.

I remember none of it. I am told that we were a most gracious couple, Elyanna and I. Perhaps that is true. Who can say.

All I remember his her gentle laugh, the warmth of her hand in mine and a scent of flowers hanging about her like the mists at the end of the world, obscuring everything but her countenance…

Eventually, I was rescued from my plight by the most innocuous of allies. Dinner.

We all gathered at my table in the Grand Hall and I was given the honor of welcoming my guests and introducing the assembled dignitaries. Then, food was brought and the feast was had. I heard few, if any, complaints.

After dinner, in the glow of the fire and our own full bellies, I rose again to make presentations. Again I greeted my guests and spoke of my admiration for the deeds of all those assembled. I spoke of my fondness for the city and her people and most importantly my Rangers.

With that, I unveiled my newest consideration, Battle Ribbons to be awarded to the men and women who risk so much that we may live in safety.

First, the Tempest Ribbon. It is a Lightning bolt in a Triangle representing the Storm and from it, an indigo ribbon.

This I awarded to all who fought the tempest including, Hawksclaw, Wolfhaven, Longtail, and Rildrirr.
Second, I introduced the Legios Heroes which I began during the Tempest crisis and officially inducted Longtail for she stepped beyond the veil to fight our enemies.

Third, I introduced the Rising Darkness. This is a Skull embossed Cup with a black ribbon. This was awarded to all the Rangers assembled who fought to defend the Eckhart Keep.

I also inducted Alfred into the Legios Heroes for his actions that day.

Lastly, the Crimson Crusade which featured a Broken Downward sword with red ribbon. This was awarded to Hawksclaw, Rildrirr and Wolfhaven.

And with that, I was to conclude when Hawksclaw arose to speak with a look which truly worried me. I could sense that he was up to some plan, but I could not guess as to what.

I was soon to discover.

With the help of Evoran, who stood with a scroll of documents, my Rangers proceeded to hand me the bill of sale, the deed and the original Charter for my home…the Wolfhaven lands…

Never in my life has anyone cared so much…given so much as these Rangers. When I turned my horse south so many years ago I knew, I KNEW, that I had failed my family and lost lands which had been entrusted to our line for 1374 years.

And now, with trembling hands, I held that land again…

My honor has been restored…

But my brothers were not yet done. Hawksclaw had one more surprise and I could see that even the others were not expecting this…

By order of Lady Harken herself, despite my status as a Ranger, my title of Baron with all right and privileges was restored.

And in that single moment, I was made whole.

Tears stung my eyes as I hugged them tightly. Words failed. How could I speak? How could I explain that they had returned to me something so precious that even my own life paled in comparison? How could I explain that they had returned honor to my family…to the Rangers…to us all.

I was…overwhelmed.

I admit that I was forced to retire for some time simply to grasp the enormity of it all. To even believe it to be real.

But it was. I am now Baron Alexander Wolfhaven.

And I am going home.

If the earlier portion of the evening went in a blur, after that I remember less. We managed to conclude the evening, though I had dozens of requests from nobles, merchants and commanders to speak the following day. I assented to them all and managed to finally extricate myself from the throng.

Later, in the Gardens of the manor, I sat along reading and re-reading the scrolls by moonlight. It seemed a dream. I was startled by a presence and looked up to see Elyanna standing beside the cupola. I invited her to sit and we sat there, just talking until nearly dawn…

She is a remarkable woman.

On the 22nd of Golden Eagle I spent the entire day going from meeting to meeting. Everyone wished to speak with me, some to negotiate alliances, some for favors, some merely to ingratiate themselves with me. It was rather tedious, but I suppose I must expect this from now on?

We left early on the 23rd and made our way north to the Wolfhaven lands. With me came Hawksclaw, Rildrirr, Evoran, Samiar, Thorgram, Rysak, and Sarah and actually Streetrunner, Longtail’s husband. It would appear that Rildrirr had something he wished to do.

We arrived at the end of my lands (I can almost not believe saying it) in the wee hours on the 24th of Golden Eagle. There, we found a camp and druids waiting. Apparently, Rildrirr had been busy setting up a special ceremony.

In the center of a large circle was a wooden pole carved with faces and animals. He called it a Totem. He asked us all to sit and then he stood and in his brief, straightforward manner explained that in his people, this ceremony would adopt us into his tribe, make us…honor brothers.

Then, he named us each and presented a personal Totem.

I was named Silver Fang and was given a large Dire-wolf tooth on a leather thong.
Longtail was called Swift Foot and Streetrunner received her totem.
Hawksclaw was named Soaring Eagle.
Evoran was named Owl’s Eyes
There was an Orc from the Stone Tower Gather who accepted a totem for Grimbore. He was named Standing Mountain.
Alfred became Young Pup.
Sarah became Sweet Doe. Fitting.
Stormhammer was named Hearthfire.
Olgor became Aged Oak.
And Rildrirr called himself Raging Bear.

Finally, Raging Bear presented me with an ornate knife from the leg bone of a Dire Wolf and called me his Brother.

I am well and truly honored. It is not easily to win the loyalty of a Northman, but once earned, I know that you have a friend for life.

After the Ceremony as we all sat around the fire, I felt urged to tell them of my family, and the story of how we came to become the Wolfhaven. Perhaps it was Rildrirr’s words, just being on my lands again, or perhaps I felt I owed them for coming together to return my home. I know how much it cost.

I told them the story of the she-wolf who gained the respect of the greatest hunter in my family’s history. How after generations of hunting and being hunted by the wolves, we learned to live in harmony with the land. I revealed that the Wolf on our crest is that She-wolf and that her courage, her wisdom lives on in all who bear the Wolfhaven bloodline.

That night I slept in the grass of my homeland, under the stars I had as a boy. As the sun rose that morning, the 24th of Golden Eagle, I rose as well, a new man. We reached the ruins of my home that mid-day and I discovered repairs already under way. Rildrirr explained that he and Hawksclaw had been recruiting wounded veterans from the wars and given them new purpose here as farmers and laborers.

I rode with my Rangers across the lawns and stables of my childhood. I stepped through the door of my father’s house, my house for the second time since giving it up. I knelt before my father’s chair and wept tears of joy.

Then, for the very first time, I sat in my father’s chair of stone…and looked down at the faces of my Rangers, my friends and my family.

The Wolfhaven’s have returned to their lands.

We could not stay, despite my desire and made a hard ride back, not stopping until afternoon on the 25th.
Reports from the south had been coming in of Bandits and rogue armies. I ordered Hawksclaw to prep his men and prepare to leave on the following morning of the 26th of Golden Eagle. After which, I returned home to find Elyanna waiting for me. We dined that evening, just the two of us.

I stood above the Southern Gate at dawn and watched as Lt. Hawksclaw led his troupe south. He was joined by Evoran, Sarin, Thorgram, Samira and Ryask. Longtail is now officially on light duty due to her medical condition.
Alfred and I are heading west into Landra’Feya. I hope that we might provide some assistance to the elves there. We will be leading the Wolfhaven Free Company. We depart tomorrow morning.

I have dispatched Sir Lugard with a group of Rangers to investigate another report of Bandits to the south and west in the direction of Greenvale. They will leave later today.

By the 30th I will be in the Elven lands and will continue operations there until I am satisfied that these Deniers of Death are eliminated.

Your most obedient servant,

Baron A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

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Slayer Report 8
Mad Bomber

Report of Rngr. M. VonDiedrich

Undisclosed location in the
Southeastern Windlands

Date, undisclosed

To, whoever is in charge in Echer’naught, I am writing to provide important updates on our current mission. I suspect that it shall take us a week to return, after this message is received. If we are gone beyond that, we are probably dead. Or we are simply taking longer than expected. Either way, we ran into trouble.
I digress.

We departed Echer’naught, upon instruction from the good Corporal Alystar, and proceeded south. The past month had been very quiet. The good Colonel is away, as is that Hawksclaw fellow.
We only had a few errant zombies, ghouls, etc. etc., to keep us occupied. I assumed this was much the same. It was not. Cpl. Alystar seemed anxious to move, so we left that very next day.

I rounded up a Ranger, and two trainees. Alystar brought two Church of Light Knights, or whatever they were, and we were off. Along with us was a wagon, driven and guarded by a few Longhauls.
We traveled south, then east, and south, and east again. Then we went southeast. Eventually we left the roads altogether. I wondered wether or not this was a wild pheasant chase. Alystar had a map of sorts, and when we were well away from civilization, he called a meeting.

Unfolding the map, he laid it out on a ground cloth. He explained that The Rangers had received reports of strange happenings nearby. Apparently there was a derelict fortress, being occupied by an unknown group. That was not unusual. What was unusual, was that individuals had reported strange, dark apparitions in the woods nearby. Our job was to find the place, and ascertain the nature of the encampment.
We made camp, and began to scout the aria. It did not take long to find the place, as we had ridden to within nearly one half mile of it.

Sure enough, Alystar’s map was dead on, and we planned a reconnaissance. At nearly midnight, I took the Rangers and scouted about the place. It was an old outpost, which consisted of a stone wall, and ruined keep. The wall was in poor shape, but had been repaired with a wooden palisade. From within, we saw the light of a fire, and a single guard sat atop the wall. We crawled back and reported our findings.
Alystar ordered an immediate infiltration. I thought it odd that we would go so soon. I realized later why he was so eager.

We approached again. Our plan was for the Rangers and I to scale the wall, and open the gate so that Athrait and his knights could enter more easily.
Per our usual, it did not go well.

The Rangers covered me, and I scrambled up the rope. They managed to shoot two men who accosted me, but when I reached the top, there were two more waiting. I barreled past them and dove off of the wall. Of course, one managed to cut me, causing me to fall more than jump. And of course, I landed on my bum leg. I herd it crack, and fire ran up my side.
I limped unceremoniously to the gate, and an arrow thwacked next to my head. I knew that if I died, Alystar would never let me live it down, so I pushed up on the beam which barred the gate. Unfortunately, my rebroken leg would not allow me any upward force, and the bar did not budge. Then, more pain, followed by blackness.

I do not know how long I swam in the ethereal blackness, but it was almost comforting. My conscious mind tried to hold on, but the darkness was so inviting. Then, I herd a voice calling out.
It was so clear, that I knew it to be more than a dream. “VonDiedrich. Rise. Rise up”, it said. I tried to resist opening my eyes.
“Stay here”, I told myself. I knew that if I did rise, I might confront the Dark One, himself. But, the calling was too strong. My eyes flew open, and I stared into the face of something even worse…

Athrait was kneeling over me slapping me on the face. The others stood in a circle looking down.
“Damn”, I said. “Did we win?”
He stood and dusted himself off. “Yes. We won….”, he said shaking his head. “Now if you’re done laying around, would you mind checking out that tower?”
I grumbled and rose. It is sometimes nice having a surly companion.
He had healed my wounds, for the most part, so I felt some better. I went inside the ruins, and we began to search.

At first glance, there was nothing. We resorted to crawling through the old stones, and eventually found a strange square in the dirt. I pulled the dirt away, but the image of a square remained. Athrait called a paladin, or knight, or whatever he was over. He stomped the spot and it rang hollow.
He, then, hefted an axe and struck the square, dead center. It shattered and fell into an abysmal staircase. Apparently it was hidden by some kind of illusory magic. We lit torches, and with the knights in the lead, went forward.

We reached the bottom, and it opened into a darkened passageway. We followed it a short distance, when from ahead, we herd a distinct clacking. “Skeletons…”, I trailed.
No sooner had I spoke, they emerged from the darkness and into the torchlight. Their jawbones were set in an eternal grin, under hollow eyes. The two Ranger Trainees gasped.

Immediately, the knights set upon them. I drew my staff, and told the Rangers to aim for their heads. The fight, itself, was actually enjoyable. I am far more adept at fighting the bones of men, I suppose.
We dispatched them easily enough, and continued onward. The tunnel was a dead end. We searched, and found a stone which was out of place.
Using our hands and improvised tools, we managed to raise the thing. We threw a torch in, scrambled under, and found another stone hallway. At the end, we found another stone. Again, we pried it up, and crawled under.
Inside was a large, darkened chamber. We stood and formed a square.

We had gone halfway through, when we herd the grinding of stone. “Oh good”, I muttered. This was followed by the rattle of armor, and we tightened our formation.
From in front came five skeletons, each clad in ancient rusting armor. “Even better… Greater skeletons”, I said.
They wielded old style swords, and raised them in unison. Then they coughed a dusty battle cry (I still can not fathom how they do that, exactly.) and charged.

That fight was rougher. Laying about our group, the greater skeletons were taking a toll. We lost one of the Church’s warriors, and nearly lost a Ranger. But eventually, with Athrait’s spiritual assistance, we triumphed. The fallen knight’s head was taken, and we caught our breath. Directly, we found a heavy wooden door. Athrait was prepared to hack it down, but I offered to try and pick the lock.

I knelt and produced my rusty old lockpick. After a moment of fumbling, the ancient lockset yielded. I nodded, and Athrait stepped to the front. He pulled the latch, and the door grated loudly on it’s hinges. From within, light filtered into the ever widening crack.
We entered into the chamber slowly, and were amazed at what we saw. There were tables and benches set about the room. On each, was all manner of machinations, and trappings of automata. Some machines whirred, and clicked. Some glowed, and cracked with energy. Strewn about were wires, tools, and tiny flecks of what I assumed was cryserium.
Athrait said, “this is it. Use caution.”

We were about to search the room, when we caught glimpse of a dark shadow. Suddenly, an arrow sizzled form a dim corner. I snapped my head toward it’s origin, and saw the first of four assassins. “Shayakar!” I warned.
Athrait and his companion charged, and I kept my Ranger companions together.
Shayakar are lethal in single combat, so we swept left together. I knew that to defeat one, one must ruthlessly pursue them so that they cannot dance about. Their deftness is impressive, but does them no good when you trap them. So we rushed, one at the time.
For our trouble, we killed the four of them, but lost two of our own.

One of the young trainees, and the last knight lay dying. The trainee, a mere boy, could but sob, whilst the knight seemed at peace. It was a sore sight, I must say, as the trainee had been laid pretty well open.
I stood ready to take the boy’s head as soon as he stopped thrashing. As I prepared to deliver the merciful cut, Athrait stepped over, and away from the knight. He looked back, and the man nodded his final approval. Athrait laid hands on the boy and administered his Devine healing, while the other man died.
I am not generally impressed by death. It, in and of itself, is common enough. But, the way that the man faced it was nearly inspiring. Were there more men like that in the world, I might be out of a job. Let’s hope that does not happen.

So, once we’d cut off his head, we had a look about. On one wall, there were two cell doors. I looked inside the first and found nothing. In the second, however, there was a lone prisoner. A dwarf, of the red-skinned variety. He looked at me and sighed. Athrait exclaimed, “it’s him!”
I was confused until I began to fit the pieces, and reports together. “The Bomber” I said.

So, after that (and to make a long story short.), we set about gathering up anything that we could carry. One of the Rangers was dispatched to fetch the wagon.
We were quick, as we knew that others would be along soon. I communicated with the Dwarf through grunt and gesture, and he was actually quite helpful. He deactivated a teleportation device, blew up the stones blocking the hallway, and helped safely remove several Arcfire devices. Also, I was famished, so I sat and ate a hasty dinner with him.
But, I digress.

Outside, the wagon had arrived, and we loaded up. “The Mad Bomber” is in our custody, for now. The agents of Darkness want him, though. We are proceeding with all haste, but travel with the wagon is slow. I will report in as soon as I am able. Also, It would be wise to keep an eye to the southeast. There is still Darkness here.

Regards,
Rngr. M. VonD.

PS: Cpl. Alystar sends his compliments… for what that’s worth.

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General Order 3, Echer'Naught (Addendum)
LRHFH203124

Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Twentieth Day of Golden Eagle, Year 3124 Under the Light

Attention Rangers:

As you are all aware now, new structural and procedural guidelines are being implemented for our Regional Command Rangers. I direct your attention, once again, to Lt. Hawksclaw’s General Order 3, and I wish to re-iterate my comments concerning new Ranger protocols.

I will explain here in further detail.

Training
As previously mentioned, we are instituting mandatory training for all Rangers assigned to the Regional Command at Echer’Naught. The purpose of this training is to ensure the highest proficiency among our troops and to exceed the ideals of the Ranger Corps. As such, each Ranger will be required to enroll in the necessary training courses until minimum qualifications are met.
Training courses will be held seasonally beginning on the first day of each season and continuing instruction until the last weeks at which time competency examinations will be administered. Rangers who qualify in a given course of instruction may then move on to the next subject until all minimum qualifications are met.

The subject of each qualification is based upon the most critical skills necessary for Ranger activities.

The minimum qualifications are as follows (in order of required acquisition):
Riding, average competence (d6)*
Survival, basic competence (d4)
Tracking, basic competence (d4)
Healing, basic competence (d4)
Stealth, basic competence (d4)
Kn: Law, basic competence (d4)

*Riding will be required for ALL Rangers regardless of race with the sole exception being Ogres who are physically too large for any mount.

Ranger Dress
As iterated by Lt. Hawksclaw, on-duty Rangers will be required to maintain the minimum of culturally acceptable attire for their race with the addition of the Ranger Cloak prominently and proudly worn. Off-duty Rangers will remember that they are, regardless, emissaries of the Corps and will behave accordingly.

NCOs (Corporal and above) and all Officers will also be required to maintain a “Dress” uniform which will consist of the Ranger’s choice of tunic and trousers, robes or dress as befits the Ranger. These uniforms will be of a uniform green cloth with black trim, black leather belts and black riding boots. Initial uniforms my be requisitioned from the HQ. All subsequent uniforms must be purchased by the Ranger. Official tailors will be made available.

Discipline
Though it is oft a sore subject, discipline is a necessary part of Ranger life. The Code of Conduct is prominently displayed in all Ranger HQs and available in pamphlet format. Furthermore, the oath and code should be well familiar to each Ranger.

Minor infractions of the code will result in escalating levels of discipline.
First infraction, verbal reprimand
Second infraction, written reprimand
Third infraction, demotion/reduction of pay
Fourth infraction, potential dismissal

Major infractions, depending on crime, my result in immediate dismissal or even incarceration.

Should you have any questions, I encourage you to speak with your NCO’s for guidance. I know that we shall all do our duty

Your most obedient servant,

A. Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

View
Campaign Report 39
Phoenix Moth

We resumed our journey on the 2nd of Golden Eagle, venturing forth to, hopefully, find answers to the strange occurrences of this Archfire/Necromancy hybrid and to the excessive pulses of Life Magic. Our journey brought us to an old logging camp—abandoned roughly a year ago(and of illegal operation). Many broken saw blades were around, and some trees even had broken blades within them. It is unknown as to what exactly caused this sudden abandonment (however, I do think the good Lieutenant may know a little bit about it given his sudden interest in moving on).

It was reported by our scouts that, ahead, there were sounds of explosions and with it being our duty to investigate, we pressed on. It was well within the night when we came across the scene—Archfire/Necromancy Hybrid Cannons.

There were creatures with this golem attacking a small unit of what we later learned were druids. Our quiet approach gave us the drop on the enemy and, systematically we began to pick them off. Samira, whose arrow flies truer than the sun rises and sets, felled her mark with a single blow.

We made very short work of our foes and found ourselves with an old druid settled against a fallen tree. Yet, despite it having been a dead tree, it blossomed with foliage and resonated with unparalleled levels of Life Energy. This tree, or rather what resided within, was the source of the disturbance I had felt. The old druid elaborated upon the source—A Phoenix Moth.

The Following information is to never be discussed outside of the Ranger Corps itself and, even then, to the minimal extent necessary

The Phoenix Moth is a rare occurrence. It exists outside of our reality, for the most part. However, there comes a time where it phases into our own from the veil and begins to feed upon the unused life energy around it using the laylines and loci of the land during its larva stage. It is said that it is a child of The Dawn Bringer.

The Phoenix Moth is extremely important—for when it evolves from its larva stage it unleashes this life energy back into the realm and with it a massive boon of life occurs. However, there are dangers to this Moths existence.

A group called the “Deniers of Death” (of whom apparently eat people in some cases) are trying to taint the Phoenix Moth. Killing it leads to it’s resurrection as a Death Moth. So does starving it of life energy or corrupting the area around it. A Death Moth does the exact opposite of the Phoenix Moth or, if you needed it simplified, the “Life” Moth.

The Druid who remained had sent for help from the Druid Council but, alas, that help never arrived. By the time of our arrival the Deniers of Death were in the process of performing a High Ritual to corrupt the land with Darkness and convert the moth to a Death Moth. The reason they were able to establish such a strong foothold within the region was that, as of last Harvest Moon, the Grand Druid had been slain. Because of this the old druid even believed the woods to be lost to Darkness (and it is worth having the near by Ranger unit to investigate further with extreme detail to make sure that does not occur or can be reversed).

After a bit of debate it was determined that we had only one plan of action_ No matter what we did, if the tree remained where it was at we would fail. So, the plan was hatched to place the Tree of Life unto one of the old logging wagons we found back at the abandoned camp. I, with my familiarity of the paths of magic from my previous studies, would direct the wagon to make sure the moth did not starve. It was going to be a slow, and painfully long trip.

Painfully because during the first night of our journey we were attacked by three Archfire Hybrid Golems. The fight was brutal and, iy used all the skill we had and even that was not enough. Miracles, feats of skill and power that had never been seen before, and a lot of luck were what held us together. At least long enough for the reinforcements to arrive.

Sergeant Longtail arrived with 40 mounted riders who helped in assisting with dispatching the Archfire Hybrid Golems. And, even then, I still think that the divines were gifting us with their blessing. Many times I swore all was lost. Hawksclaw fell once only to rise again and press on. Thorgram fell and likewise rose.

Let it be noted that Samira’s arrows continued to fly true for she fired only one shot in this battle (she was driving the wagon) that, when it flew it slew one of the golems. She was promptly field promoted to full fledged Ranger by the wounded Lt. Hawksclaw. And let it also be noted that Thorgram’s valor in the battle were unparalleled. He persisted in standing between the wagon and the cannons of the golems as they tried to damage the tree. Through sheer might alone he was able to shrug off many of the blast. I commend them both on their skill and bravery.

We took the cargo to a secure location where, with many druids, adepts, and sorcerers, we watched them plant the tree and, with reverence and awe, watched as the Moth was born.

I do not disclose the location of the Moth for fear of the documents being filtered through unauthorized hands. But know that it is safe, and we succeeded.

  • Dates omitted to protect location of the Phoenix Moth***

The 13th through the 18th of The Golden Eagle we did our usual duties as the Ascension Festival took place. Flowers were in full bloom, Crops were sprouting, and life was growing. As it should grow and flourish.

On the 20th of The Golden Eagle we were quickly summoned to our mounts and driven to an inspection formation. The good Colonel had finally returned.

The 21st of The Golden Eagle.

It was unusually early for this, but we were all mustered up for a meeting with Colonel Wolfhaven. I suspect mostly because he was a busy man and had pressing business to attend to (as is usual for a man of his disposition).

This meeting, however, held more significance than I originally thought or Wolfhaven was dressed in his resplendent armor.

One by one we were called to the front— Thorgram, Alfred, Longtail, and myself. We were each bestowed with a reward for our service.

Alfred, of whom is the squire to Wolfhaven, was given the promotion to Ranger 1st Class and, perhaps more importantly, was officially adopted into clan Wolfhaven. Tears ran down his youthful face. I am very happy for Alfred—his loyalty is unwavering and , regardless of the deed, he never falters in his duties.

Thorgram was promoted to Full Ranger. Something I think he is certainly worthy of with his courage and martial prowess. Despite his, shall we say, flirty nature with the Red Lamp, I forsee many tails told of this lad.

Longtail was given the rank of Sergeant Minor and took to the position of Quarter Master for our regiment. For some reason I do not think she ever wants the extra responsibility but, despite this, she never says no. (A side note—she is being awfully…tending? I’ll have to look more into that..)

And I was given the rank of Corporal with the honor of being direct aid to Lieutenant Hawksclaw as well as given responsibilities of the purse for the Ranger Unit as reward for my contributions during the battle with The Butcher.

Things in the world are changing. Life is thriving and the region shall experience a boom with economics and with new births. For once all seems right in the world. How I wish it would never end….

Corporal Evoran Que’Kaasars
Stewart of The Rangers of Echer’Naught.

View
Campaign Report 38
Buying a Barony

Much has happened since my last report and, due to the magnitude of these events (most of it paperwork) it has kept me away from my reports. The Ranger Garrison has grown dramatically and we have had to requisition large sums of gear for the new trainees and handle the paperwork for their induction into our ranks. Had I not had assistance from Olgore I am afraid I would be unable to keep up with the task. I shall have to find a way to personally thank him for helping. When it comes to paperwork he is second to none.

But, never the less, I have had a chance to review the reports of our rangers. It seems they have encountered the Dragon Cult—a collection of diabolical persons who, up until now, were thought to have been cleansed from the lands. Their arrival is only a herald, I think, to the greater evils to come. To my recollection they are so vile and hated that they were able to unite opposing forces. Force that, normally, would strive to destroy one another. Those forces united to abolish the Cult from the world. Alas, it seems a few lived on. We should take heed of anything related to the Dragon Cult as they are a force to be reckoned with.

On the 21st of The First Hunt we received some unusual reports of shadow-like figures near Eldara/Landra Feya. It was enough to raise our interest, at least. We were given orders to prepare for a march in two days time. During this time I took to my personal matters and went to The Sacred Grove. Here I learned of something that seemed to coincide with these unusual figures: The Druids were excited about something. It was Life Magic, but in such an unusual sense that they felt it might have been a literal manifestation of it. Something they were unsure of but were investigating. I made it a point to share my discovery with Lt. Hawksclaw since he is familiar with druidic ways in a hope that his senses might find something of it.

Before we were able to depart, however, Lt. Hawksclaw summoned me for an important matter of the logistical sense. It turns out that, due to diplomatic immunity (from treaties that had been signed) that Stallhiem was able to bring in 50 exotic beasts within the walls of Echer’Naught. The only reason we had no advanced warning of them was it was only mentioned in a personal missive to Col. Wolfhaven (and we only know that because we had to go to his personal desk to look for clues. My apologies to the Colonel for the intrusion).

I was tasked with procuring the proper requirements to move the beasts. They are a nocturnal creature and, because of this, we had until nightfall to make proper arrangements. Lt. Hawksclaw was summoned away for pressing business that required immediate attention and that left the endeavor to fall on my shoulders.

We gathered 30 veteran riders and 30 of our newest recruits to handle the beast as well as used a favor from one of the stockyard families to house them until more permanent boarding could be established. Given the fact that no one knew anything about the creatures, I would say it went off rather well. A few injuries here and there (a man had his skin licked off, unfortunately) but we managed to get them inside the warehouse. We had to make it a point of effort to keep Samira away. Everytime she drew near the entire lot seemed ready to devourer her. However, her skills proved to be indispensable as we boarded up the opening to make area more suitable for the mounts. The Breeder and Trainer provided a list of supplies and put them to use to make them right at home.

Because we worked well into the next day, I gave the Rangers of Echer’Naught a day off (seeing as the Lieutenant had not yet returned). I, however, still had things to complete. A man, who was expecting to meet with Hawksclaw, came to inquire about the purchasing of the horses for his men. He needed around 250 at the current moment and said the longer we waited the more difficult it would become to train them. So, with request on a crash course about what he needed, we set off to locate a potential vendor. The Orc (or was it a half orc? I can not recall directly) was illiterate and deaf. This gave me an entire day of being shouted at. Now I know why Hawksclaw is always on edge…

Still, the purchase was done and we were able to start the training program on time. The less delays the better! The paperwork was finalized on the 23rd of The First Hunt.

On the 26th of The First Hunt, Lt. Hawksclaw makes his return, having finished his business two days prior. I debriefed him of what had occurred during his absence and that most of his paperwork had already been completed. I suggested we have a Ranger social and later that night we had a collection of Dwarven Ale. I made it a note not to imbibe as it would be inappropriate for someone in my position to be compromised. I know far too much on individual files than I care to let on.

On the 28th we departed for Landra Feya and road for two days before we entered her boarders. On the 31st we arrived at the town of Erda’Meias. A very small ranger contingent was established here. Hawksclaw, Samira, and myself went to inquire while Thorgrum, Rizak, and Sarin went to speak with the people.

The Corporal, Cpl Goldleaf, who ran the place was, shall we say, a bit sloppy. His organizational skills were extremely lacking and he seemed more interested in trying to court Samira than actually helping. And should he read then perhaps he may actually improve his logistical skills. I did the work for him, after all. I don’t suspect it would be too difficult to follow.

While I searched through his reports, Hawksclaw went and spoke to a local druid. He was informed to head south of the city and he should be able to sense the life energy that the others were feeling. The reports did not suggest anything that we had not already discovered, but one thing of note did resonate with me. A deer had been found drained of blood but the body was left unharvested. That is not typical of an Eldakar. The entire body of our hunt is used and very little is wasted. It should also be noted that game in the area is starting to get sparse.

On the 32nd of The First Hunt we began to head south. It was not until the 1st of The Golden Eagle that we had our first major break.

An Archfire Golem had been laying in wait within the woods. It had been, to my assumption, stationary in the woods, awaiting its prey. None of us saw it, but we heard its thunderous movement. Actually, we could not tell if it were actual thunder or wardrums before it fired and destroyed a tree near us.

Our horses scattered, fearing for their lives (and rightfully so). Much of the party was separated and, glancing back, I saw Sarin shot from the sky by the Golem, his body smoldering. I leapt from my mount, letting it ride off, so that I might try and regroup with my friends.

I had encountered an Archfire Golem once before, and it was a durable and fearsome creature to say the least. This one, however, was different. It radiated Necromancy that had been sadistically interwoven with the Archfire to create an abomination that transcended all other vile things I had encountered before. It’s cannons ripped through trees, spreading its taint.

I was cautious in my pursuit of it as I was not sure its directive. When I finally found it my friends had laid it to ruin, leaving only a smoldering, broken body upon the forest floor. Unfortunately the decaying body would corrupt the land. I could not allow this to happen and offered my services to deal with the body.

The Que’Kasaars blood flows heavily through my veins and affords me prowess over the arcane few else can tap into. Despite my pristine visage and delicate demeanor there lies within me forces so potent and of such magnitude that I am able to accomplish things only others can dream of. Most of the new recruits knew only that I possessed a specialty of logistical skills and knowledge, but there comes a time where one must peel back the delicate demeanor and reveal ones true nature—the Nature of Sorcery. Wreathed in my arcane powers I was able to demolish the rotting abomination of this golem into a pile that was easily set ablaze by normal fire. I suspect by the looks of the new Trainees they had no idea I was capable of such things. I admit this brought my a degree of amusement.

The endeavor, however, did weight heavily on my form and I required rest. So we took to making camp. After we had settled in for the evening, I was able to feel it in the air—the collection of Life Magic that wreathed the lands in a way I had never felt. With it I also felt the looming poison that was Necromancy.

We planned to continue our journey on the 2nd of The Golden Eagle. We still had much to discover…

Ranger 1st Class
Evoran Que’Kasaars

View
Slayer Report 7
Meeting Wolves

Gray Winds, 3123 Under the Light

Holy Father,

I am not embarrassed to say that I was unable to find the were-wolf in the city of Echer’Naught as we discovered, shortly after the search was concluded, that he was NOT in fact within the walls as he promised the Col. during their “meeting” in Center Pointe.

In fact, we were called into the Cols office mid Gray Winds and given a coin from Wolfhaven’s own hand and ordered to undertake a simple, but curious mission. Apparently, the were-wolf had not gone far, taking up residence in the city of Harken so as to be close enough to intervene should his sister require; it being only a days run for one of his kind.

I was surprised to think that the Col would consort with such as he, but desperate times, I suppose. Von D and I departed and made the quick ride in a little over a day to the city where we followed our instructions. To my, not quite surprise, we found the beast sitting pleasant as could be in a tavern near the western gate. Approaching we offered the coin as assurance of our intentions.

He seemed…relaxed. Perhaps he expected this turn of events? Regardless, the were-wolf agreed to speak with us.

We were authorized to reveal that our scouts had been, yet, unable to locate the central keep of the Blood Lord’s forces and asked if he might know more. He did not, but agreed to seek out contacts that would likely not speak with out kind. With that, we departed back for Echer’Naught and our next mission.

It should bother me more, this consorting with Evil, but try as I might, I cannot find fault with the boy. He neither asked for his condition, nor has he used it as an excuse for barbarism. End yet, I cannot deny the drive to slay him as a creature of Darkness out of hand.

War makes strange bedfellows does it not?

A. Alystar

View
General Order 3, Echer'Naught
LRHFH203124

From the desk of:
Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw
12th of First Hunt
Echer’naught

For:
Immediate distribution to all Rangers, and Ranger Trainees in Echer’naught.

Greetings,
I am writing this missive to all Ranger Trainees who, by their virtue and dedication to service, have elected to join our ranks. Having been appointed a trainee, you have already shown that you are skilled and courageous. However, that is not all that it takes to become promoted to full Ranger status.
Here, I hope to briefly discuss some of the finer points of what it means to be a Ranger. Listed below are a few of these.

Your station:
You are now in the probationary period of your service.
You shall respect and obey the orders given by your instructors.
You will be prompt for formations, and courteous to your comrades.
You will strive for excellence in your studies, both marshal and intellectual.
You shall be compassionate to the needs of the civilians, which we are sworn to protect.
Remember, a single Ranger may be all that stands between order and chaos. You may mean the difference between Life, and death.

Your appearance:
Owing to our diverse nature, our members may vary greatly in their manner of dress.
Any who need, in addition to their Ranger “kits”, items of basic clothing may requisition them from the quartermaster.
You will remain in reasonably neat order, and should groom yourself accordingly. A bi-monthly bath, where practical, is encouraged.
You will, at all times, wear the cloak of a Ranger Trainee. Your cloak acts as your badge of rank, and station.
Remember, always, that you act as an emissary for justice, Life, and a power far greater than yourself. Your dress and conduct should reflect these virtues with pride.

Your training:
The training regimen is broken into several sections, and will be taught by proven instructors.
Some of the skills will include:
Horsemanship (as we are, primarily, a cavalry force), combat manouvers (both offense, and defense), scouting, field craft, tracking, weapons training, basic Olaran reading and writing, basic codes of justice, healing, and Ranger etiquette.
These, among others, are the skills you will learn before becoming a Ranger.
Some of your instructors shall include:

Stealth/reconnaissance-
Sgt. Longtail
Melee combat-
RFC. Ryldryrr
Scorcery/magic-
RFC. Quesekars
Recruiting-
Rngr. Trnee’s.
Thorgram
Ravenwood
Ryzak

Ranger Ranks:
Rangers gain promotion for various reasons. Some include; valor in combat, years of service, special skills, and many others.
The basic Ranger enlisted ranks are:
Sergeant Major
Sergeant
Corporal
Ranger First Class
Ranger
Ranger Trainee

Your Company:
The actual number of Rangers in the Company will vary. All numbers are an approximation.
The company is more or less subdivided as such:

Team- approx. 5-10
A group consisting of one Ranger First Class, and four to nine Rangers. (This is the common size of a scouting party, or patrol.)

Squad- approx. 10-20
Two teams, led by a Corporal, or the senior First Class of the Squads. (This is the common size of a constabulary, or reconnaissance force.)

Platoon- approx. 20-30
Two Squads, led by a Sergeant or a senior Corporal. (This is the common size of a reconnaissance in force, or small assault force.)

Company- approx. 60-90
Three platoons, led by a Lieutenant, or a senior Platoon Sargent. (This is the common size of a garrison, or large assault force.)

Our mission, and duties:
The Rangers are called upon for many diverse tasks. The broad nature of our endeavors is why we strive to ever expand our skill sets. You may be called upon to settle a civilian dispute on one day, and the next you may be called into line of battle. We act as scouts, guards, peacekeepers, investigators, and any number of other roles. We all have different skills, and that is why we rely on our comrades. Remember, as Rangers, we work together to accomplish our common goals.

Courtesies and bearing:
I ask each of you to always be mindful of proper Ranger etiquette. Not only should you pay respects to civilians, but to your peers and Officers. Any enlisted Ranger should, upon meeting an officer for the first time (daily), salute him or her. This shall be done at the position of attention, until the salute is returned.

A salute shall be delivered:
Armed- with the right hand, fist lightly clenched, across the left breast.
(If a weapon is in hand, the weapon shall be presented at eye level. For swords, at the cross guard, for bows and pole arms, at the mid section of the weapon.)
Unarmed- with the right hand, palm outward, and the index finger resting above the right brow.

The position of attention:
Shall is assumed to be,
On foot- Body erect, heels together, knees unlocked, arms downward.
(The ranks will stand closely enough to permit light elbow contact.)
Mounted- Sitting straight, knees bent, reins held in left hand, right arm downward.
(The ranks will ride closely enough to permit light knee contact.)

Items considered contraband:
Very little is “off limits” to a Ranger. We are all assumed to be both reasonable and competent. However, there are certain items that will not be allowed in the Echer’naught Company, unless special dispensations are made.

These include:
-Arc Fire weapons or devices.
-Weapons of Black Iron, or Blood Steel construction.
-“Floaters” are not permitted within any Ranger facility.
-Alchemical reagents, unless in the possession of one trained to use them.
-Any stolen goods.
-Any other items deemed “unfit” for possession, by command.

In closing,
Know that I am proud of each of you. You will do well, and given time, will make a fine crop of Rangers. Know your station, do your duty, and remember those that have gone before you. Together, we will be a force for good.

May the Ascended watch over each of you,
Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw

From the desk of:
Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw

For:
Immediate distribution to all Rangers and Ranger Trainees in Echer’naught.

Regarding:
Addendum of declaration to Ranger Trainee pamphlet.

Rangers,
I have confirmed a point of order, in regards to my previously issued missive.
That is, that, the Company shall henceforth be officially known to Ranger Command as,
The Echer’naught Company of Rangers.
I, however, and in regards to the Regional Command, have made the decision to title our Company,
Wolfhaven’s Free Company, of Echer’naught Rangers.
Or,
“The Free Company”
By this act, we will pay homage to Colonel Alexander Wolfhaven. A man who, in both word and deed, has helped to make our region one of the safest, more prosperous, and well regarded provinces in Olara.
Also, we pay tribute, and legitimize the name given to the men who served in both The Defense of Eckhart, and the relief of Bearheart. Many of you were part of this gallant force, and have formed the core of our Company. I pray that this will do you honor now, and in the future.

May the blessings of The Ascended rest upon you all.
~ Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw

View
Campaign Report 37
Dragon Cult

Ranger Trainee Larken
Report

Twentieth Day, First Hunt, Year 3124

Lt. Hawksclaw informed me that Ranger Evoran would be mightily cross with me should I fail to turn in a report of my first mission. I would not like to see the Sorcerer cross. He frightens me something fierce.

So…

I arrived in the great city of Echer’Naught on the 2nd day of First Hunt along with a number of other Ranger hopefuls. My father was born a serf, but served his liege well and was made free in his retirement passing that boon on to me, his only son.

When I came of age, my father asked me what it was I wished to do, as I am a terrible farmer. Rangers I said. I have always wished to don the cloak.

So, with his blessing I left home and traveled to Echer’Naught. The city is huge! I very nearly lost my way but a kindly local guided me to the Outpost, though it cost me most of the coin I had.

Within I found a number of other hopefuls, more than twenty all gathered to join the Rangers. I had only the clothes on my back and my father’s bow. We were given food, shelter and waited for the assessments to begin.

On the 4th day of First Hunt, I gathered in the pre-dawn chill to begin testing. First we ran the entire perimeter of the city. I very nearly lost my breakfast. Others did.

Then, we were given climbing rope and instructed to scramble up to touch the cross timbers of the HQ. One man fell and broke is crown. Priests were called and I saw him no more. After that, were given dry moss and a fire-bow and tested on our survival skills. I passed…barely. One poor sot actually lit the Ranger on FIRE! Fair to say he failed. Then we were given a meal and sent out for combat. I nearly lost my head in the melee bout, but scored high marks in archery. Lastly, we were given horses and instructed to follow a course. I stayed in the saddle. That is all I will say on that.

On the next day, the Fifth of First Hunt, I was sent to the Church of Light infirmary where I was given a thorough, and rather intimate examination. They also had priests on hand to ensure that none harbored evil intent. With this concluded, I was given a series of papers with my results and sent to the Regional HQ on the hill.

I have never seen such manor houses. My eyes bugged. We we arrived at a beautiful house guarded by the ugliest Ogress I have ever seen. Also the first I ever saw. She spoke to no one, but glared meanly from her good eye.

Inside, we were put in a line and waited out turn with the Adept. When I was allowed to enter her room I was struck dumb by her beauty. She kindly asked me sit and bade me relax. If I thought the physical examination was intimate this was…I haven’t the word.

In a moment, I felt a pressure in my mind, then my life flashed before my eyes. And then it was done. She handed me another paper and sent me downstairs. I swear her room was guarded by Camonese soldiers! But that is hardly likely.

On the ground flood I entered another line. After a time, I was let into a massive two-story library. Sitting behind a large desk was the oldest, shriveled Goblin I had ever seen, but he spoke Olaran better than I! Beside him was ANOTHER Eldakar like the Adept upstairs. In one day I had seen an Ogress and two Eldakar. I would not be surprised to see an Aevakar here, though I know that to be wishful thinking.

I discovered the severe looking Eldakar was in face Ranger Evoran, the Goblin Lt. Olgor. I said nothing and handed them my sheef. Ranger Evoran snatched sniffing at my attire and carefully read each paper, occasionally giving me a disapproving glare. I was very nearly unmanned. I could not for certain say which is worse, the Ogress who appeared about to eat me, or the Eldakar who seemed to see deeper into my soul than the Adept.

At long last, he sniffed, signed the paper and in a very haughty voice dismissed me back to the HQ. I very nearly ran out the door…into a human girl very nearly my own age, maybe younger.

I think she said her name was Sara? I cannot be sure. She spoke so quickly and with so much enthusiasm that I scarcely knew which way was up. She hugged me twice…or three times and welcomed me to the Rangers. Then sent me on my way.

Heart pounding, I spilled out of the back door and followed other dazed recruits into the streets. Together, we managed to find our way back to the lower HQ. I now understand that lower officer handles local affairs, the upper regional ones.

Anyway, now mid-morn, we queued up outside the commanders office, our stack of forms in hand and waited. Ahead of me was a Dwarf, Rysak who was armed to the teeth, unlike so many others. He seemed a man who knew what was about.

Anyway, after he entered and met with the commander, I was next in line, but suddenly…an Aevakar appeared. I nearly soiled myself. The elf very nearly knocked me over as it swooped in. I saw the Ranger cloak about its neck.

He announced himself as Sarin and was admitted to the Commander. They embraced as old friends and chatted…at length. Finally, taking note, the Commander dismissed the Aevakar who brushed by me without so much as a how-do-you-do and soared off again.

Then, the half-orc at the door gave me a weary glare and shouted “NEXT!” so loud I nearly jumped out of my skin. Stepping in, I first laid eyes upon Lt. Hawksclaw, a man they say cannot be killed by mortal hands.

I trembled so much I nearly dropped my papers. The Commander was much as I expected, and so different. He seemed severe, yet kind. Anyway, he read my packet, asked a few questions before sending me upstairs to find a bunk.

I gave the best salute I could, turned and headed upstairs to the sound of “NEXT!” behind me. Upstairs I found other recruits…no Ranger Trainees talking excitedly. I found an open cot with a well crafted trunk at its foot. In the lock I found a key. Opening the trunk I found a small bundle, a light green cloak and metal clasp styled in the Ranger crest.

I confess my hands trembled as I lifted it out. My cloak. My Ranger Cloak. I…am a Ranger. Putting it on, it took nearly a quarter hour to fix the clasp so it would sit right on my shoulders…but when I finally got it settled right I could feel the weight of it, like responsibility resting on my shoulders.

I saw the Dwarf too, Ryask Ironblood. He apparently made the cut too. (5th First Hunt)

The room was full of excitement as we admired each others cloaks. Then, as a group, we went downstairs and out to the practice yard behind the HQ where one of the Rangers was leading combat training.

He was the biggest man I had ever seen. Corporal Rildrirr. I hear he is a barbarian from the north and that he eats human flesh! We all fell in and spent the evening beating each other’s brains in with practice swords. By nightfall, I could not feel my arms.

And then, the bell rang and we were given leave for the night. My first night on the town…as a Ranger!!!! I remember little of what happened next, but we drank every drop of ale from every alehouse we could find. By stroke of midnight, I collapsed into my bunk.

For the next few days, we drilled in the morning, and were assigned tasks with senior Rangers: patrol, guard duty, messengers, and general tasks around the HQ. That girl Sara is actually a Ranger! I don’t know her exact role, but she seems to manage all the kitchens, help with the Sergeant Major (Stormhammer I think), run errands for Ranger Evoran, and other duties around the town. She never stops moving…or talking. I feel tired just watching her.

Of Lt. Hawksclaw I saw little. Mostly, we worked with Corporal Rildrirr, Sergeant Major Stormhammer, and Ranger Lugard. Oh, I also discovered that Sergeant Gendarre and his men ARE Camonese. They apparently serve directly under the Regional Commander, Colonel Wolfhaven. I haven’t seen him yet.

Anyway, on the 8th day we were all told to report before dawn east of the city. I arrived to find a great crowd of people and Rangers. I was given a horse and told to fall into line. Lt. Hawksclaw seemed surprisingly serious as he called the Rangers and then a group called the Free Company to attention.

Then, just as the sun rose over the walls, the gates of Echer’Naught creaked open, banners dropped from the walls, there was a great fanfare of horns and pipe and the order was given to move out.

I had no idea what was going on.

As confetti rained down, we rode like kings through the streets thronged with onlookers. The trainees like myself stared around in wonder. Turning north, we exited the city and then turned onto a large parade ground. We made on while turn around the ground before halting before a grande review platform.

The lieutenant called us to attention, then rode up to stand before the dias. Apparently, the Lord Mayor himself stood up there along with other nobles. I was paralyzed with fear. What if I fell from the saddle?!

Luckily, I did not. The Commander spoke a few words about his men and their bravery. Then, the Lord Mayor spoke and gave each man of the Free Company a Gold Piece!!! That is more money than my family earned in a year! Each man received one!

Then, with great ceremony, the Free Company broke ranks and the crowds rushed in. It was like Festival Day at home, but hundreds of time bigger. Our orders were to maintain the crowds and be seen.

I found Rysak and few others and we stuck together in the crowds. It is funny, even though I wear only the light cloak of the Trainee, the civilians do not seem to know the difference.

At some point, Rysak asked another Trainee, the half-orc Thorgram, who apparently served in the Free Company, what the fuss was all about. He told a story of the defense of Eckhart keep, of the hundreds who died there…

I have heard of this. Now I understand.

Anyway, we stayed around till after dark, then went back to barracks.

On the 9th day of First Hunt, the Commander called a few us together: me, Thorgram, Ryasak, Wiliam and that Aevakar Ranger. I was to embark on my first mission! I threw up.

We went with Sarin (the Aevakar) to Sergeant Stormhammer to requisition our gear. Then, we worked around the HQ trying not to get too nervous about the next morning. I could not sleep a wink all night.

Before dawn on the 10th of First Hunt, we gathered in the stables behind the HQ, mounted our horses and tore out of the city. We rode for 4 days straight. I could not even walk straight my buttocks were so sore.

On the morn of the 14th, we arrived at the gates of the city of Olara. If I thought Echer’Naught was big, I now knew different. Olara must be the largest city in the WORLD! Walls miles high!

I found it odd that the Commander ordered us to remove our cloaks, but I followed orders and said nothing. We passed the gates and entered the city. Were it not for Lt. Hawksclaw leading us, I wold have quickly gotten lost. It seemed that Thorgram had been here before, but couldn’t remember much of the city. I’m going to ask him why later.

We arrived at a large library and entered looking for a man named Master Geison, a librarian and friend of the Commander. After speaking with the desk, we found the old man deep in the stacks.

He informed us that he had been doing research for years, but of late, some of his contacts had gone silent and many of the tomes he was trying to collect had disappeared before reaching him. Though he could not prove it, he feared foul play.

More to the point, a local contact, a minor noble, Lord Orak was to send him an ancient diary, but the Lord had ceased communication some time passed and the tome never arrived. He bade us ensure that his friend was in good health.

Leaving the Library, we headed through close and clogged streets to a nicer part of town. There, we arrived a quaint two-story stone home. Clearly, the man was of means, but hardly rich.

I and William stood post at the gate while the others walked up to the house. No one answered the door, so Ranger Sarin flew above and the other Rangers scouted the house. We couldn’t hear, but it appeared that they were stumped.

I was sure they were about to return to us, when all of the sudden the air was split by a awful wailing noise and they all spun, weapons draw at an upstairs window. I couldn’t see, but immediately Ranger Sarin flew up to the window towing a climbing rope while the lieutenant signaled for us to cover the front door and Rysak and Thorgram to take the back.

William and I bolted for the door and drew bows. We waited for what seemed an eternity when there was a loud BOOM out back. I very nearly jumped from my skin. We heard footsteps from within and started pounding on the door, trying to get inside.

It was opened, a moment later, by Lt. Hawksclaw who made us lower our bows. While we waited out front, a blue/white masked man had blown the back door off its hinges very nearly knocked down the other trainees. Though they tried, they were unable to hit him as he fled.

The commander tasked us scour the building and we did, finding the body of the butler lying dead in the kitchen. Upstairs, Lord Orak was also dead. Rysak found a red thread on his body and the room was ransacked. It seemed our tome was stolen.

We posted guard below and soon town guard arrived. Next, the Sheriff arrived. After that, we saw Sarin soar out a window and he returned later with old man Geison. They all stayed upstairs late into the evening. Then they came down saying to search for a grocery list. This was found. We posted guard again and coroners gremlins arrived.

They hauled out the bodies on carts and left. Then the Sheriff left. Then the town watch posted guard. Then we were called up to the office of the dead man. While we waited, we discussed our next course of action. Eventually we were ordered to break into teams. I would go with Rysak and Sarin, while William went with the Commander and Thorgram.

However, that would be in the morn. For now, we went out into the yard and encamped.

Before dawn on the 15th of First Hunt, we awoke without breakfast and headed off. My little group followed Sarin the merchant quarter checking off each store on the butlers list. At the last, the grocer, we discovered that the Lord had a housemaid but we could not learn her name.

When we returned, we found men tallying up the dead Lord’s estate. These nobles don’t muck around with assets. After ensuring they were not villains, we entered the house looking for a ledger.

We found it and learned the woman’s name. Sarin ordered that we remain here and took off into the air.

It was getting on toward lunch so Rysak and I went down to our camp and cooked up fine vittles. There we remained for a time. Before the men left, Rysak got the name of some people who might broker for local housemaids. Maybe we could learn more from them.

Right at dark, after we sat alone and chatted for 4 hours, Sarin and then the other group arrived. Poor William looked fit to collapse. It seemed the Commander had run them hard.

In a nutshell, the lieutenant had taken the thread to a weaver who told them it was silk from some Island or other. He was the only dealer in silk, but said his last shipment had been purchased in bulk by a clothier. They headed to the clothier who had made fine clothes on contract and had them couriered to an address. They followed the address to an empty lot. William remember the bit about a courier so back they ran to the clothier to get the couriers name. Then, they ran to the courier, but had to wait an hour before the actual boy returned.

He informed them that he often delivered to the vacant lot, last time about a week before. With that, tired and hungry, they resolved to return. But, not before the Commander wisely told the boy that should his officer get another package for the vacant lot that he should send yet another courier to warn us immediately.

Sarin had headed to cheapside to find the washer woman. After asking around a bit, he found her flat and her meagre possession, but she had been missing for two weeks which is about how long the Lord Orak and his man had been dead.

While they reported this, Thorgram ate half our stew. Anyway, they had no word on the strange masked man who they had caught kneeling over the dead lord’s body, nor any more information on the vacant lot. With nothing more to do, we sat down to eat and had taken our first bite when a courier appeared at the gate.

Summoned, he informed us that a last minute package had JUST been sent to be delivered to the lot. Like an arrow from a bow Sarin took to flight without so much as a by your leave from the Commander.

Lt. Hawkclaw shouted to mount up and we tore out of the yard and down the street. A few blocks from the lot, we dismounted and crept forward, but there was no real need. Sarin waited at the lot, vacant and without the package.

He swore he could not have been more than a few minutes behind the courier so we knew the villains were close. As they discussed options about waiting till the morning and tracking who owned the lot or going door to door to look for witnesses, I happened to notice a figure running along the roof opposite the lot.

I told the Commander who sent Sarin to investigate while we went around to the gate. The Commander ask a rather rude guard about any commotion and we were instructed to shove the hell off. Returning to the lot, we looked for Sarin who appeared to be sitting on the roof.

The Commander seemed resolved to wait until morning when the Aevakar finally swooped down to tell us he sensed powerful magiks from within…including Thaumaturgy and Necromancy!!!

The sealed the deal. The Commander ordered us over the wall. Sarin took off again and we tossed ropes and climbed over without much issue. William was sent to secure horses.

Once in the yard, we sneaked our way toward the nearest building and we very nearly made it, but two guards stepped from the shadows right into our path. There was nothing for it but to fight.

Thorgram moved first, dropping the first man in a single hit. Though he may wear the trainee cloak, than man has seen his fair share of combat. The second guard was more fortunate. None of use could bring him down and he managed to off a shout before Sarin’s arrow silenced him for good.

With guards approaching from all sides, the Commander ordered us through the door. Rysak and Thorgram made short work and soon we were inside, running up marbled stairs with the guards hot on our tail.

By sheer luck we dodged them for the moment and found ourselves on a balcony as they spread out below us. Then Sarin put a finger to his ear and signaled to follow.

Moving from thickly carpeted room to more thickly carpeted room we slipped over balconies and through grand open courtyards. The building was a palace.

Soon, however, we entered the second balcony of a massive library and there we all heard the chanting as a dozen robed figures in strange lizard masks stood upon a golden symbol on the floor and summoned forth arcane energies.

I swear the Commander was about to order the attack when we were stopped by a quiet voice. The Masked man stepped from the Shadows. Up close, he looked almost like a hermit were it not for the strange blue-white mask.

He informed us that should we upset the ritual we might cause a catastrophic explosion. Rather, he asked that we make our way toward the study of the chief mage while he handled the ritual.

Lt Hawksclaw nodded and we sprinted on, turning a corner and running down another marble staircase. Very near the bottom we spotted the mage sprinting across out vision down a hall to our left. The lieutenant and Ranger Sarin fired. Sarin his, but his arrow burst into flames and vanished in smoke. The commander struck, spinning the man on his heel, but the mage ran on around the corner.

We pursued, rounding the same corner and nearly collided with a raging minotaur. Sarin hit is again, but only seemed to piss it off. Then Lt. Hawksclaw burst into green light, his eyes burning emerald. From his hands shot a jet of pure life energy and immolated the minotaur where it stood.

2016MinotaurJJAlt.jpg

Blinking spots from my eyes, I followed the others down the hall, around a corner and into the man’s study. Just as we got close enough to fire, he cursed us in some foul tongue and then burst into flames, reducing himself to a pile of ash.

A moment later, the masked man arrived looking fairly rough. and beaten up. He thanked us for our aid, but revealed the Thaumaturgist had, in fact, escaped. He also informed us that this was a Dragon Cult and that the Commander should inform his people immediately that cult had returned and was embedded in Olaran high society.

With that he suggested we take what evidence we could while he cleared a path to an outer gate. True to his word, we quickly saw the evidence of his martial abilities. Grabbing what documents we could from the cultist’s officer, we sprinted out a side door and out the main gate.

No sooner had we reached the road when we heard the shouts of Town Guards heading in out direction. Lt. Hawksclaw was about the shout an order when the sound of thundering hooves drowned out any words.

Blessed William came charging down the street leading our string of horses behind. Like heroes from an epic tail, we mounted our horse, well, some managed to mount, and rode away from the scene moments before the guards arrived.

Sarin took off for Echer’Naught while we returned to our camp to rest after a long, hard day. Thorgram helped finish off our meal, now stone cold and we bedded down.

I slept the sleep of the just so tired was I after such an adventure. In the morning if 16th day of , we packed up and headed back to the library. The commander took a moment to confire with Master Geison before we departed the city and headed south toward Echer’Naught.

The weather was pleasant though the ride was subdued. Each man seemed lost in his own thoughts. Nevertheless, we made good time along the road and by mid-day on the 20th of First Hunt, we rode through the North Gate of the city and arrived at the HQ not a quarter hour past one. We stabled our mounts and returned our gear to the quartermaster.

Lt. Hawksclaw was kind enough to relive our duties for the remainder of the day, but strongly suggested that we each turn in a report to Ranger Evoran. I resolved to do just that and have now spent the better part of the afternoon sitting on my cot writing my first official report. I do hope I have done well.

Nevertheless, I am signing off here. Tonight I and some of the other trainees are headed down to the Red Lamp. I hear it is quite the place to be.

I record this as my official record, though much of what happened I cannot reveal to my family. We have been sworn to secrecy. The Dragon Cult seems a rather evil thing and apparently not something the Rangers want word getting out.

Larken

P.S. I followed my very first mission order and I successfully did not die. I hope Lt. Hawksclaw is pleased.

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General Order 2, Echer'Naught
Attire Affair; LRHFH053124

From the desk of:
Lt. Hawksclaw

For:
Immediate release to all Rangers in Echer’naught

Re:
Ranger dress

Rangers,
It has come to my attention that one or more of our members has been ignoring certain codes of socially acceptable dress. This is most unbecoming to a member of our Corps.

I do not wish to impose a dress code as it would compromise our diverse nature and needs.
However, from this point, any member of our command, found to be in violation of the basic standards of socially acceptable appearance, (unless under abnormal circumstances) shall suffer a fine to be levied against them. If multiple violations shall occur, that individual shall be subject to an appropriate degree of punishment, to be determined by the commander.

If any member of our command is in need of basic attire, (trousers, etc.) these items may be obtained from the Quartermaster stores, for a nominal fee.

I can only hope this issue does not arise, again.

Signed,
~Lt. R.S. Hawksclaw

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