Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 117
Sibling Rivalry

Steelwing,

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

Thank the Ascended for dwarves. Tough bastards. I’ll give them that. And running to rescue Blackstone even before he tied the knot. This marriage treaty must pretty damn important to send two hundred of their best to die against Blood Witches brood.

Still, for all their hard work, we may die yet.

Eternal Sun 19th, 3127

As previously written, we were recovering from our skirmish with the troglanesh ambush. Sergeant Grendel and his lover, RFC Ranna were gone, tragged off by undead builder golems. If that sentence seems like gibberish, then imagine writing it?

I was pretty badly torn up after the werewolf attack, but Ingrid was safe. So, worth it. But, the rest of the team was in only passable shape. And, our Ranger escort flaked on us, and RFC Blackstone defied a direct order to withdraw. So, Alpha Team was all going in, without backup.

It took time, but late in the 13th hour, evening of the 18th or morning of the 19th, we moved out north, following the fairly obvious tracks left by the undead Denier golems and the dragged bodies of our unconscious allies. We left Sergeant Muriel in charge with the other animals, managed by Blackstone’s Stahlheim smith. Who, was taking all of this surprisingly well…

Good news, the big oozing walkers move slowly. Bad news, we were hours behind, and floundering in the dark. And then, it started raining. Which, against a human opponents would have been good. Of course, troglanesh hunt via scent, so…all rain does is hamper us, and make us easier prey.

For hours we slogged through the rain, mud, and slush. Well, THEY did. I fought to stay aloft flying slow enough not to lose my team, and not pass out from the pain. Werewolves hurt. And speaking of wolves, the sneak formally known Aronzo was still dogging our group.

I know that werewolves and vampires are “intelligent” evil, but Aronzo freaked me out a little before going hairy. Now, I cannot understand keeping him around. Of course, if Grendel were here, he’d probably order Aronzo killed on the spot. While I’m normally opposed to the Silver Paladin’s knee jerk reactions, however, right then…

Three, maybe four hours north, our forward scout, the werewolf, stopped the team short. I was just behind. Cresting the ridge, I saw it too, the largest troglanesh horde I have ever heard of. Sitting in a wide field, the trog tent gather was at least a quarter mile across. Maybe…3000 trogs, wolves, vamps, and others.

Corporal Sssahliissstah’s expression was…telling. Not fear…realization.

With any hope of the team infiltrating the warband impossible, we were left with few options. One, we could simply walk away and report the size and location of the horde. Of course, by the time we accomplished said feat, Grendel and Ranna would be dead or converted, and the Guardian Gather of Fylg or Char already under siege.Two, we could charge headlong into the enemy camp. Which would be suicide. Three, put our fate in the hands of the werewolf.

I voted for option A. We chose C. Which, to be fair, is far better than what I expected Corporal Sssahlisssstah.

While the team spread out along the ridge line, I on the far left, Corporal Sssahlissstah trusted the werewolf to enter the camp and recover RFC Ranna’s mask. While we made those arrangements, The Explorer made his way around the right flank to set up a sniper’s nest around to the right. Once we were set, the werewolf, in Aronzo’s skin, loped off toward the distant camp.

In a horrifying way, the camp was impressive, hundreds of torches and campfires burning in the darkness, mist hanging low to the ground, like a blanket. Finally the rain let up, if a little. It was not hard enough to drive us under cover, but misting enough to make life miserable. My soak cloak clung to my skin, and my wings were waterlogged and heavy.

About halfway across the couple hundred meters between our position and the fence line the werewolf stopped short. I couldn’t see what who, or what, he was speaking with, but given the shadows, and his behavior, I assume the camp’s pickets were troglodytes. Invisible little ankle biters.

The werewolf had a brief altercation, then wolfed out and chased them off. If there was any lingering doubt as to how far our former ally had fallen…he is now the Enemy.

Once through the pickets, the werewolf reached the edge of the tents, and disappeared. We waited nearly an hour there, in the misting rain and darkness. Even I could not pick out the Explorer against the backdrop of darkness. Then, there was a commotion at the edge of the camp and a werewolf loped toward our skirmish line, a white mask in his mouth. I wondered that the Trog sentries did not stop the werewolf, then considered they had little to fear. First, anything other than a true Darkness creature could never penetrate their defenses. Second, nothing within a hundred miles could threaten such a horde.

Not even Fylg, less than fifty miles away might stand against the assembled hordes.

The werewolf arrived and dropped “Ben Toma’s Mask” in Sssahlissstah’s clawed hand. She clutched it and her eyes went unfocused, the surest sign of an Adept at work. It was not until her eyes starting glowing blue that I got concerned.

While Corporal Sssahlissstah communed with command, the werewolf approached. Something about his demeanor concerned me, more than the fact that he was, in fact, a werewolf. While recovering the mask, Aronzo encountered Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and some of his winghunters imprisoned by the trogs. The werewolf was forced to free the winghunters in order to escape with the mask. I doubt he had much choice. Novri is a survivor if nothing else. What worried me was why was Novri here anyway? I assume the winghunters are still tracking us. So, maybe they ran into the trog forces while setting up an ambush. But then, why keep them alive? I know very little about this Blood Witch brood, but it seems unlikely they would bother unless Novri had something the trogs wanted? Whatever that might be, it can hardly be good for us.

A problem for another day.

When Sssahlissstah’s eyes fluttered open, a bit dazed, I worried for a heartbeat, but was heartened by the sudden decisiveness in the set of her toothy jaw. She had managed to contact Wolfhaven via the mask. Our orders, provide a distraction to permit the Ogres a chance to escape, but not to commit. Whether the Ogres make their escape, we were to harass the enemy, but withdraw south, then west toward the Black Mountains at our best speed. But how?

It was here that I suggested we use of the arcfire to set off an explosion. Since the werewolf is arcfire trained, he can readily deploy the weapon, though I doubted his ability to leave the camp after setting off the bomb. A win win.

However, all our detonators were with the Builder, so I volunteered to retrieve them. Given permission, I took off, skimming low in the direction of The Explorer. Though I couldn’t easily see him, I knew his habits and, eventually, managed to spot a darker spot against the hill. Coming up behind him, I managed to catch him napping. I might have given him a small heart attack when I clamped my hand over his mouth. At least he didn’t stab or shoot me.

Once he finished grumbling, he handed me a arcfire detonator. I made it back with no issue. Before handing an arcfire detonator to a werewolf, I requested a direct order, which Corporal Sssahlissstah gave without hesitation. Reluctantly, I handed the werewolf the bomb, and off he loped. I returned to my post and watched the fireworks.

Again, our pet werewolf loped back into the camp, but this time, the sentries attempted to stop the werewolf, who ran past without stopping. They raised an alarm. Any chance at subtely was now over.

Oddly, though, there was not an immediate uproar. From the distance it was difficult to see, but the camp seemed nigh empty, though there was a massive gathering of torches in the center of the camp. And drums. Lots of drums.

Everything that happened from the werewolf entering the camp to all Abyss breaking loose was too far way to see, save for the light display. But, I gathered from later reports that our pet werewolf reached the trog’s weapons cache and tossed the arcfire detonator. At the same time, Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna were in the center of camp. Grendel was engaged in a blood duel with his evil twin, Wendel while “Gram Gram” the demonic troll overlord looked on. Nearly the entire corrupted gather had, well, gathered to witness the bloodsport, leaving the rest of the camp almost deserted. Good for the werewolf. Also good for the winghunters as it happened.

The plan worked, for the most part. Trailed by trog soldiers, our werewolf scampered away from the weapons cache moments before the night was ripped apart by an explosion in camp. A fireball rose above the camp, spreading out into a mushroom before fading into the rain. Everything feel silent.

And in the silence, the night sky suddenly began to glow with a reddish color. All eyes turned skyward as half a dozen burning, red orbs drifted down toward the center of the camp. Fireballs. Winghunters.

Thaumaturgical artillery slammed into the center of camp, blasting apart trogs, tents, and our team in a roiling maelstrom of fire and death. In a heartbeat, Novri decimated the Blood Witch forces, and burned the heart out of their camp. He also managed to annihilate our own teammates in the camp as well. Treacherous backstabbing abyssals.

As the last explosion echoed across the plain, a new sound rumbled from the center of the destruction; a massive roar which shook the ground. Even from hundred of yards away, we could see the twisted form of “Gram Gram” rising above the cloud of smoke. She is HUGE. Not Korash huge, but heads taller than even our ogres. With a bellow, “Gram Gram” sent hundreds of trogs pouring out of camp north in the direction of Novri’s artillery.

That solves that little problem, and least for a moment. Though, I seriously doubt even a small horde of corrupted orcs can finish the Winghunters. They couldn’t finish me, so, doubtful they could do in Novri.

But, that still left Grendel and Ranna in the burning heart of what was once the trog camp. The explosions had stirred them up like an overturned anthill. A couple dozen spilled out into the open ground between our skirmish line and the camp. So long as we stayed low and quiet, there was every likelihood that they would never even…

…and then The Explorer opened fire into the camp.

I couldn’t see what he was firing on, but to give away his position, it had to be important as every trog head turned and once to the bright arcfire flashes illuminated him on the ridge. With hideous howls, they turned and bounded across the ground toward the lone Builder. Moments later, RFC Ranna exploded out of camp carrying Sergeant Grendel’s unconscious body.

But, by fortune or design, they came out behind the ravaging horde homing in on the Builder, and so their way was clear, mostly. Which solved that little problem, but still left The Explorer exposed.

Per our orders, Corporal Sssahlisssstah ordered our withdrawal. We had provided the distraction, with a little help from our Winghunter “friends”. I asked permission to cover The Explorer. The Corporal gave me the nod before providing covering fire for The Explorer, drawing off some of the trogs.

I sprinted to the Explorer, arriving just as he scampered from his hide with hobgoblins on his tail. I managed to drop in, felling one and pushing back the other. The Explorer surprised me. He can run pretty fast on his little legs when the need calls.

Once I was sure The Explorer had enough of a head start, I took off too, staying low and providing cover. RFCs Ingrid and Blackstone already had a decent lead. Kenzie was covering Ranna who charged forward blindly. She was making good time for someone in the heart of Novri’s explosion. In fact, she barely looked singed.

Corporal Sssahlisssstah disengaged from her own battle and followed after. All the while, I covered my team from the scrabbling, howling hordes.

They chased over hill and dale. Southward, ever onward. By some fortune, we managed to stay a step ahead of the horde, if only just. They nearly had us as we reached our roadside camp, but we lost them scrambling down a hillock.

Our Stahlheim friend had everything prepared. We reached the camp already packed for travel. Kenzie leaped onto Buttercup, Ingrid onto Diego, The Explorer onto Muriel, and Blackstone onto Tiny. Grendel was dumped into the wagon where our Stahlheim friend revived him. Ranna and Sssahlisssstah climbed in after.

Once revived, Grendel managed to take the driver’s seat, giving the command to away. Just in time. The lead scouts were just catching up.

Per orders, we charged west.

Eternal Sun 19th-23rd, 3127

For five days we rode, barely stopping, never sleeping with death nipping at our heals. I was fine for the first few days, but by day four my wings felt lead, my entire body ached, and I was so tired I was seeing quadruple.

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

By day five, I smashed into a tree, and the hounds were closing. By evening, troglodytes were already swarming the wagon. Corporal Sssahlisssstah and RFC Ranna managed to fend them off, but we would not survive the night.

And then, we saw them…like metal teeth along the distant ridge. Squat and metal. Not teeth…shields. Hundreds.

As we approached at full gallop, the shields straddling the road split, marching aside in perfect heavy booted step. We staggered through and collapsed.

I think the draft horse pulling the wagon’s heart gave out. Muriel tipped over, trapping The Explorer beneath. My wings just gave up, and I collapsed to the ground.

When I looked up, we were surrounded by heavily armored dwarves. At least they didn’t look hostile, or not hostile to us.

A stern looking elder dwarf approached RFC Blackstone while behind us, the reformed lines of dwarves engaged the advancing horde of darkness, but it was only a matter of time before the trogs brought in their heavies. As valiant as the dwarves were, they could not stand against such a force.

The dwarf introduced himself as Clan Chief Rock Breaker, of the Rock Breaker Clan. And, RFC Blackstone’s future father in law…

Curioser and curioser.

Clan Chief Rock Breaker had those of us injured taken on stretchers to their field hospital while the others attended his command tent. Since I’d taken a few arrows to the rear quarters, I allowed them to drag me as well. Kenzie and Grendel were taken as well.

With the battle raging less than two hundred meters away, I couldn’t stand by and eat cheese and drink wine. I told the healers to wrap my wings, so I could join the crossbowmen on the fire line. By the time I climbed the hill, The Explorer was already there, having the time of his life. And, for their part, the dwarves were holding their own, but it was a losing battle.

By true dark, we could see the hulking shapes of the Denier golems and trolls. The Explorer pulled off the line, likely to report the golems. He has an unhealthy fixation. At any rate, by the time the moon was high, I was beyond exhausted, and out of arrows. I retired from the line and found an open cot. Rumor has it that we are pulling back to a better defensive position.

Tomorrow, we are in one abyss of a fight.

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 116
Are the Ogres Engaged?

Steelwing,

Eternal Sun 18th, 3127

It is surprisingly difficult to write reports when one’s wings are a shredded mess. Damn werewolves! A pox upon the entire race. Well, maybe not the entire race. I mean, I have nothing against Aronzo. Let me explain.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

We woke with the Wolfhaven Barony barracks. It wasn’t the stuffed mattress and down comforter while entangled in two celestial bodies…but not bad for barracks. I am continually surprised by the care and comfort provided by House Wolfhaven for even the meanest member of the staff. I’ve said it before, but it is clear why Colonel Wolfhaven is beloved by his men.

We woke too early along with the rest of the staff. Most of the revelers remained abed at the ungodly hour. We brave few ventured down to the barrack dining hall to find an open chair.

The Wolfhaven House Guard was awake and active, most having been on duty the night before so avoiding the worst effects of the celebration. Alpha Team headed down the line of table looking for an open space when a hand waved us over. Sir Hevain, the impish Olaran gentleman of leisure was up with the dawn, and already well into his cups.

I have heard there are those among the human race who possess a supernatural ability to consume alcohol. Clearly, this man ranked well among them. We sat and enjoyed our morning repast.

Sir Hevain seemed to know Sergeant Grendel from previous encounters. Ranna I suppose as well. Grendel for his part introduced the party. I found the Olaran knight’s gentle ribbing amusing, though some of the Rangers took more offense.

Throughout our meal I could not shake the feeling that I knew Sir Hevain from somewhere, but try as I might I could not place when or where. After breaking fast, the rest of the team broke up to go about their various tasks. Sir Hevain invited Aronzo and I to a private drink.

We both accepted, and the man has quality ale. I have rarely tasted better. In a flask he carried something brewed “in a tub” in Toad’s Port, far to the south in the Pirate Archipelagos by a one eyed, pegged legged man name Bill. The story was exquisite, the rum divine.

Afterwards, I went looking for the ladies and tracked them to the Sacred Grove. Both Ingrid and Kenzie have been getting in touch with their “spiritual side.” Which I totally support, but not my flight. So, I took a quick flight around the Barony lands…after getting permission from the Sergeant of the Guard.

From above, the Barony lands look quite different. Though there are no demarcation lines on the grounds, after a while, you learn to judge from farm placement, walls, treeline, and streams how the land is divided up. The vista that stretched below me as I buoyed on the hot summer updrafts was a gentle lands of green rolling hills, scattered copses of trees, sparse, but flat, straight roads, and herds of wild and mighty steeds galloping across the fields.

Basically, the Wolfhaven lands border the edge of Landra’Feya and the great forest in the west, stretching east to the North Barony road, where it bends west toward Kore. Nestle there between the north east corner of Landra’Fey and the North Barony road’s westward bend is a vaguely ovoid piece of land lies the ancestral home of the wolf. Though, I note far more horses than wolves. There are not such convenience demarcation lines to the north and south, but from the air, I traced ancient stone walls, more like a sheppard’s fence stretching across the southern border, dividing the Wolfhaven barony and the one directly to the south. To the north, there is a stream running more or less east-west which seems to be a convenient border to the lands to the north. Having seen the big map of Olara in the Wolfhaven smoking den I know that the Barony is the farthest north east in Harken Duchy lands.

Within these boundaries finds a wide, open grassland across most of the barony. Along the westernmost border elvish trees spill across the political border. And the southernmost part, a separate copse of trees grows large. I’ve heard that these are the lands of Major Hawksclaw taken from the deepest forests. There are small tree lines, more like attempts at a privacy screen running along portions of the north barony road. Otherwise, the tree coverage is sparse, just enough to provide adequate shade for the herds, but not taking up too much space.

A fair, but not overlarge space is given over to fields, mostly contained within four roughly forty acre plots around the main manor house, roughly in the center of the barony lands, though maybe a mile closer to the north barony road than the elven forests. Other fields are scattered about the lands, each utilizing different terrain. I assume there is a method to all of this, but I’ve never been particularly fond of dirt.

Connected to the North Barony road via a smaller road running to east, and with smaller “footpaths” crisscrossing north, west, and south, the Wolfhaven Barony’s manor house sits on a hill overlooking open land. The hill is not overlarge, but someone knew what they were doing. The terrain slopes away in every direction giving the defenders a clear field of fire for hundreds of yards. The manor itself is a large, old, stone manse, more a heavily constructed home than a castle. Though, everything Olarans build is designed with defense in mind. It is a large, open design, mostly two stories, with a few “towers” that reach upwards of three. Around the house are smaller buildings: large stables, church of light, barracks, storehouses, guest residences, garden houses, and even the customary sacred grove.

I know from speaking with Sir Regillus that at the time of the barony’s SECOND burning, there was little but a few loose stones to indicated the outer wall. With orders from Wolfahven himself, Sir Regillus organized the reconstruction of the outer wall. Though, reconstruction may be the wrong word. What the former Tempest Servitor constructed was a nearly twenty foot curtain wall around the “courtyards” around the manor. But, rather than build the “typical” tall, narrow wall, the walls around the barony are almost twice as thick at the base as they are at the top, and they are plenty thick along the ramparts. Flanking the main gate are two squat towers, about six feet higher than the walls, but rounded like barrels.

Speaking to Sir Regillus late one night during a previous stay over, he walked through a lot of math and angles, but apparently, the rounded towers and “sloped” walls are far more effective against arcfire than the narrower vertical walls. Considering that each corner is also buttressed by a rounded tower and every tower topped by arcfire enhanced siege engines…woe betide any foolish enough to assault the Wolfhaven Barony again. Though, considering how often the manor has been burned out in the last five years, I cannot really blame them.

All told, between 200 and 250 manage, work, and defend the entire barony. Surprising, but very efficient. Of course, the Baron and/or the Baroness bring with them a 30+ retinue, so the number in residence is in direct relation to who happens to be staying over. Still, as I drifted lazily across the sky, I saw only handfuls of herdsman, farmers, and gardeners working in small pockets miles apart.

It just goes to show that wealth and power have privileged. And despite my own “somewhat” dim views of rank and status, I cannot help but admire the beauty, determination, and down to earth humility of everyone working the land. During my flight, I happened to stop by a group of farmers assessing one of the more remote fields in the southern area of the barony. I was first surprised, and impressed, that they spotted me and men stood ready with crossbows. Olarans, farmer or knight, they are trained for war. Seeing my cloak, and my wings, they relaxed, as much as Olarans ever do, and welcomed me into their company.

I noted that many were older, and all bore some wound of war. Many were missing arms, legs, eyes… As it happens, the Barony actually seeks out and hires wounded veterans from Olaras various wars. Yet another way in which this House seeks to care for the forgotten.

By the time I returned that afternoon, word was out that evening that we were not heading back to Echer’Naught. Rather, we would be launching north from the Barony and that we each needed to write a list of supplies and “personal” effects that we needed from “Home.”

Eternal Sun 1st, 3127

By morning, over half of the guests were headed home. Over the course of the day, heartfelt farewell were given to Sergeant Minor Longtail and her retinue, Sergeant Regillus, and hers, and Commander and Sara Schenkle. I am continually amazed at how many former members of this team are just hanging about.

I note that Sir Hevain has not departed. And that he seems to be working his way through much of the female house staff. One must admire his Vigor.

Eternal Sun 2nd, 3127

In the morning Corporal Sssahliissstah approached the team suggesting throwing a Bachelor party for Blackstone on the eve of his wedding. Over the next few hours the women of Alpha Team worked behind the scenes securing a room, and arranging food. Though, to be fair, the Wolfhaven staff did most of the heavily lifting.

After dinner, we gathered in one of the smaller halls. I volunteered to go find Blackstone who was busy scratching away at his scrolls. The dwarf is the most studious warrior I may have ever met.

He seemed fairly eager to abandon his tasks, and so I led him like a lamb to the slaughter. I am happy to say the Blackstone was both surprised and pleased by his party. Food and drink were had by all. Kenzie and the Explorer drank a bit deeply into their cups. But, everyone had quite a row. We were joined by Sir Hevain who bypassed Aronzo, our guard at the door.

I THINK he was sleeping somewhere in the hall before we arrived. That or he can teleport. Which would not surprise me.

At one point, Colonel Wolfhaven himself happened by and seemed very confused about the entire event. Despite our heartfelt invitation, he politely declined. Though, I believe some part of him would have preferred to join in the celebration. There must be some pangs of nostalgia there.

Later, Sir Regillus happened by and seemed even more perplexed than the Colonel. I desperately wished he would join us. That would have been hilarious. However, such was not to be.

LATE in the evening, a Wolfhaven page arrived to inform Alpha Team that our gear had arrived from Echer’Naught. And so, with a final toast, we wished RFC Blackstone well, and condolences on his pending nuptial.

Out in the yard, three heavy wagons had pulled into the yard in front of the manor house, Wolfhaven house staff were in the process of offloading our kit from the center wagon. The chamberlain handed Sergeant Grendel a checklist to verify that Alpha Team received their orders.

The men quickly offloaded and stacked two weeks rations, bundles of arrows, crates of potions and other sundries beside the wagon. Sergeant Grendel checked off each dutifully, before Corporal Sssahliissstah divided and distributed. In addition to our own kit, we each received a straw packed satchel bearing two potions of healing.

Once the standard gear was distributed, a strongbox was hoisted out of the wagon and three packages were distributed. A small do Sergeant Grendel, a head sized crate to Blackstone, and a flat hinged box to the Explorer. Each seemed inordinately pleased to received their care packages. RFC Ranna was drooling over a bundle of hideous looking crossbow bolts.

I grabbed my few bundles of arrows, and retired to a spare room with Kenzie and Ingrid. We DID happen by the Builder, clutching a pair of boxes like child on nameday, following after Sir Regillus. I have no idea what that was about, nor do I care. In the room, I noted that Kenzie had a small pouch of redish vials, but declined to ask.

Eternal Sun 3rd, 3127

Early in the morning, we assembled with our kit in the yard. I noted that RFC Ranna sported a brand new white silver ring. That, and Sergeant Grendel seemed to be bouncing a bit as he walked. I waited some announcement, but neither ogre said a word, so I let it go.

The Explorer paraded out like peakcock, making sure we all saw his shiny new handcaster in its tooled leather holster. For a stoic warrior, he does get giddy about his arcfire.

We were ALSO joined by a group of newcomers. First, RFC Blackstone brought up a sour looking dwarven smith, who manage to glare at us all balefully from beneath a bushy unibrow.

The second group consisted of four Rangers following command of an attractive female brinchie who introduced herself as Nira Nightshade. For the second time in a few days I was struck by the idea that I knew her from somewhere, but try as I might, I couldn’t place it. They had orders to attach to our escort detail. A bit of extra muscle on this important diplomatic venture.

As we greeted our new companions, Sergeant Muriel, Tiny, King, Diego, Buttercup, and other mounts were brought out and loaded. Colonel Wolfhaven himself braved the morning air to see us off. His words were humble and I suppose inspiring. Then we were off.

We rode hard that day, travelling til well after dark. We must have cleared 40 miles. By the time we arrived, the gates of Kore were closed, but we were permitted after a bit of theatrics. For the Sworn of House Vosltagg it is a bit funny that Sergeant Grendel doesn’t speak Olara.

But, once inside, we were directed to the local Ranger HQ. We were given room and board, if only meager. Apparently, the Alpha Team has a poor reputation in Kore and Olara. Seems there was an incident where a former member of the team burned down the kitchens in the HQ in the capital city of Olara. Other incidents have happened in Kore. Either way, we were allowed to stay the night, but I felt strongly they were happy to see us off.

Eternal Sun 4th, 3127

Again, we were out by dawn, heading west toward the great city of Rhion. The western bastion of Olara. House Steiner. Few Great Houses have the stick shoved so far up their arses as Steiner. As we departed Kore, I pondered what kind of reception we would receive from the stoic and dour Steiner.

Eternal Sun 7th, 317

Three days later, and we enter the shadow of Rhion’s eastern walls. I was actually surprised by how professional the Olarans treated out party. We passed through narrow, city streets on our way to the Ranger HQ. Apparantly, Alpha Team had once been ambushed and nearly slain by someone named Diego not far from the Ranger outpost.

In addition to the impressive roll of honored dead, and the ridiculous number of living members spread across Shaintar, I am growing more impressed with just how many places Alpha Team has destroyed, nearly been destroyed, or just perpetually worn out any welcome. For a team that has only been active for about five years, we have an impressive, and horrifying track record.

That night, we were hosted by the Rangers of Rhion. While Rhion is a major city, and the Rangers have authority, in practice, the large outpost is mostly for show. House Steiner has little interest in allowing outsiders to usurp their authority. So, these Rangers spend most of their time cleaning and polishing their large and impressive edifice.

Eternal Sun 8th, 3127

We departed Rhion and turned north, heading to Jasara. Now there is a city I know all too well. The most generous thing I can say of the Jasaran people is they are dicks. But, they are honest about it. Rumor says they rejected the exalted Colonel Wolfhaven’s offer to join the Ranger Charter..gasp! Which, would be considered sacrilege anywhere else. But, they also murdered the Ranger ambassador.

Ever since then, relations between Jasara and the rest of the Southern Kingdom’s have been…tense. Still, they are “allies” and Rangers are free to move and operate throughout their lands. We would be fools to do so.

Eternal Sun 9th, 3127

The night before Jasara, we camped about 10 miles south. Sergeant Grendel provided a perfectly adequate security briefing, and Aronzo donned more makeup that a Camonere whore. He has a thing about the Malakar Dominion…or Camonere whores…

Eternal Sun 10th, 3127

Early we arrived in line at the bridge crossing into the island nation state of Jasara. It took hours, but we arrived at the Olaran checkpoint. Sergeant Grendel provided our Ranger papers, and his own being the mark of Volstagg. That raised some eyebrows.

The papers passed through a series of hands before attracting attention to the watch commander who addressed the good Sergeant in Olaran. It took everything I had not to bury my hands in my face.

Ultimately we were allowed to pass, but I sense an angry letter winging its way to Captain Volstagg’s desk in Almahrad.

Across the decorative stone bridge, we encountered the Jasaran checkpoint. Here, out Ranger papers netted us SPECIAL consideration. We were considered hostile and had our bags rifled while Sergeant Grendel was questions.

Eventually, we were waved through to meet a local Ranger stationed in the city. Joy!. He let us to an outhouse that served as their HQ. I feared Corporal Sssahliissstah was going to quite literally bite his head off. But, she retained her composure. Apparently those lessens with Sssvaren are going well?

The Ranger, I never got a name, offered to let us draw supplies, but we simply didn’t have the time to pick out the maggots. So, we declined his invitation to dine and head accross town to the south western bridge. There, we were treated to another round with Jasaran security.

I mean, the towering ogres with their scowls and clubs are impressive. But, by this point, I was hot, tired, and hungry…since Sergeant Grendel refused to stop to eat! So, I was over it.

Another rifling of our kit and we crossed the bridge and made our way a short distance to ANOTHER checkpoint. Ascended help us. Here we faced Goblinesh from Bralk. They seemed to respect Grendel and after a quick, and intimate sniffing from one of their goblins…which I enjoyed far too much, we were on our way again!

All told, we spend maybe five hours of the day doing nothing but waiting in line. So help me, next time I am going to fly over, find an alehouse and wait for the team to catch up.

Eternal Sun 12th, 3127

Nevertheless, we made Bralk by the 12th. When we arrived, we found that the Gather gates were closed to us, but the goblinesh of the region had kindly provided “accommodation.” It is hard to accurately describe the goblinesh waystation of Bralk, suffice to say everything was sturdily built, but appeared to have been designed by a mentally deficient child taxidermist. It was equal parts impressive, humorous, and disturbing.

The goblin to welcomed us at the Inn was the most polite and attentive innkeep I have ever met. And, I am pleased to see the goblins of the waystation have fully embraced modern economic exchange. They fleeced us for every red copper.

After being shown our room. Oh, and the stench. Somewhere between a stables and a privy? Anyway, after seeing our rooms, we all need alcohol, so we ventured across the street to their version of an alehouse. There were a number of travelers, human and goblinesh sitting at the rough tables.

The decor can best be described as a place Sir Hevain would likely hang out.

Anyway, we checked the various menus. All written in which chalk against a dark board. Each outlining the cost and service available. There was a drink menu, a food menu, and a whore menu. And, just in case there was any doubt, the prostitutes were clearly labeled.

Good thing. I’d hate to make THAT mistake again.

In good spirits despite the horror show, we all ordered locally sourced food and ale. I THINK Blackstone declined and accepted, instead, a drink from Aronzo’s flask. He promptly passed out. More on that in a moment.

I have had goblinesh liquor before. This had a green tint, tasted like lye, and felt like I was drinking lava. Fortunately I saved enough to strip my armor later that night. The food was better…ish.

Speaking with the locals, and listening in on nearby conversations, we got the impression that there was a large group, or several groups of marauders operating in the region we would be entering. Not surprising, but we had no choice.

Fed, drunk, and carrying Blackstone, we retired to our rooms. Upon arrival, Blackstone woke, punched Aronzo in the genitals, and we set watches before bed. It was an amazing night.

Eternal Sun 13th, 3127

In the morning, we were up again and moving north west to Guardian Gather of Fylg. Sergeant Grendel was on high alert as we entered the open country. However, save for some travelers and local wildlife, we saw little of interest along the road.

Eternal Sun 16th, 3127

Three days. Three days of on and off rain, we arrived at the great Gather of Fylg. Well, outside. Again, the gates were barred, we there was an inn by the road. This was obviously older and the staff and fare more “normal.”

We purchased rooms, and sat in the open room, drinking, eating, and listening. Sergeant Grendel conversed with the Orc patron who told us that smaller, local gathers were being wiped out, no survivors or bodies. Tension was writ clear on the faces of everyone in the room, and inn.

After a solemn meal, we headed up to our rooms, and slept lightly under guard of posted watched. Here, Nira and her Rangers pulled their weight.

Eternal Sun 17th, 3127

We left before dawn, again. Why so early?! Our path turned west toward the gather of Ordoth. I was excited. I do not recall ever visiting Ordoth. Sadly, I still haven’t visited Ordoth.

Eternal Suns 18th, 3127

We were approaching evening on our second day west of Fylg when everything went sour. Nira and her scouts were ranged our providing watch while we went about our routines, setting up camp, starting small fires, and preparing to bunk down for the night.

The spot was lovely, too. Just south of the road, along the banks of a shallow, wide stream. Cool fresh water to drink and bath. The sky was clear, and it was warm, but not hot.

I was just starting to relax, joking with the team when a shout went up from one of Nira’s northern scouts. We were turning to look when large, black furred bodies exploded out of the darkness. Werewolves. Nether damend werewolves.

There was no time to react. One of the shaggy beasts was on me before I could even blink. I felt teeth sink into my should. I cried out, but in that moment I realized we were dead. Nine wolves tore through Alpha Team. One, the Alpha of the pack, stood on the ridge howling orders.

Sergeant Grendel called the retreat, and Alpha Team responded. RFC Blackstone sank into the earth and sped away. Kenzie ducked a swipe and took off. Nira drew her saber and dropped her wolf, then followed orders and took off. The Explorer was hot on her heals.

Aronzo tried to knock his unconscious before making his escape. The wolf shrugged it off before savaging him. Aronzo was down.

As I struggled to free myself from the werewolf attacking me, I felt the earth rumble. Then, two hulking shapes lumbered over the nearby ridge and started firing black-orange bolts at Grendel and Ranna.

With wolves clawing up their bodies, the ogres had nowhere to go. The golem like abonimations were on them in an insante, boring through their Olaran plate with arcfirelike drill arms, still pumping shots from a massive hand projector.

Ranna went down under the onslaught. A wolf crawling up each leg, and the golem blasting her in the chest. Soon as she hit the ground, the dogs leaped off at a bark from their master, and dog piled Grendel. Once they cleared out, the necro-golem reached down and started dragging Ranna back the way they had come.

The sound Grendel made was…heart wrenching. Ranna was being taken away. He KNEW what they would do, but there was nothing he could do. In rage, he crushed one of the wolves, but more piled on.

Battling her own wolves, Corporal Sssahliissstah launched a bolt into the golem dragging Ranna. The corrupted thing staggered, turned dumbly and fired into her. I saw her go down and the wolves on her turned and piled on Grendel.

Behind me, I heard Ingrid scream. The wolf had her…I could see the look on her face. My heart broke. There was no time. I couldn’t lose her. I wouldn’t. I did what I had to do.

Taking a rake from the wolf on me, my right wing was shredded, but I cleared the six feet to Ingrid. I wrapped her in my wings, like I have done so many times before. I shouted for her to run when I felt the teeth and claws ripping into my back.

When I came too, Corporal Sssahliissstah shoving a healing a down my throat. It wasn’t enough to fix me, but it put me on my feet. The scene was horrible. Aronzo was up and coughing, but…something was off. Grendel and Ranna were gone, but I could see that he has smashed one of the golems good.

My first thought was if Ingrid made it out. Corporal Sssahliissstah said she did, and that she was retreating with the rest of the unit. Before anyone could order me to stay, I crawled to my feet, and got airborne on what was left of my wings. I caught up to Ingrid not far. I managed to croak that the situation was clear.

That was all I had. She fired off a signal bolt to summon the rest of the team. Not long after, they came jobbing up. The animals all in a line behind Sergeant Muriel. She had sense enough to retreat. The rest of the team riding or trotting beside. I was so overjoyed at seeing Kenzie and Ingrid alive, I could barely move.

Though, I did manage to climb on Muriel’s back. She smelled like three week old ass…with lavender. That was odd.

We splashed back through the ice cold water. Which reminded me how much I prefer to be airborne, and returned to the remains of our camp. Corporal Sssahliissstah had secured the camp. Nira’s team, again, secured the perimeter, though all but she were limping badly.

Blackstone went about patching up what the potions failed to while Sssahliissstah took command. Turns out that Grendel was ogrenapped by his evil twin…maybe. And that these trogs were Witchmarked, not regular flavor. We get this from comments Grendel has made to some of the team over the months. Not ME, but to people he likes.

That and the Explorer was drooling over the down golem. It LOOKED like an arcfire golem, but it was crusted in green slake, the copper was black with tarnish, and it oozed reeking black corruption. That, it possessed a zombie brain…

He seemed said it was ancient. The reverence in his voice was creepy. Kind of like someone fawning of the recently deceased corpse of a grandparent. Still, I for one am grateful to have his expertise, because we know at least one more of the things is lurking out there.

Oh, and Aronzo quit the Rangers because he is now a werewolf. So there is that.

When everyone was wrapped up, Corporal Sssahliissstah made her decision. She ordered Nira’s team to escort RFC Blackstone and the smith…who actually also survived the ordeal my melding with the ground as well… Is that a dwarf thing?

And, then, to no one’s surprise, RFC Blackstone politely refused, stating that should he leave his Clan to die would be seen as cowardice, and the wedding would likely be off anyway. Better to die horribly with honor, than to live with common sense. Of course, I’m hardly one to speak. I hardly even know the ogres and I’m geared up ready to die for them.

At this critical juncture, Nira declined to join us, as her mission was escort, and let us know she would tell the Rangers we died honorably. I gave a bit of a cheer, and the Explorer, in his customary dry humor, said he thought it was all a bad idea.

Since I am useless right now, I’m jotting down these notes, for posterity. I think I will tie them to Muriel. That way, when we are all slaughtered and reanimated as shambling corpses, at least someone will know what happened. I don’t see the Senior Sergeant going along with this plan.

Looks like the Corporal is finishing packing up camp, and securing our gear to the mounts. It has been an honor to serve.

Steelwing

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Training for a Wedding
Grendel's Report

Since Grendel took command of team from Lieutenant Volstagg, we have had difficulties working as cohesive unit. This falls mainly on my shoulders for Grendel’s inexperience as leader. This does not mean team is unfit for duties, but we all in need of training, which is what our superiors saw fit.

When Grendel mean training he mean a mission and this one was in walls of city, thank Celesia. There discovered group of people we encounter before when looking for gold of king of Olara. Which Grendel not mind since this people almost killed Grendel’s team.

The plan was to stealth to their hideout in Warehouse district while team led by Great wolf’s son, Alfred, approach from underneath in sewers. The team from underneath needed signal to know when to attack. This signal was decided to be from an explosion. This was tasked to Aronzo, who took form of Corporal Newt. Then both teams would converge and close in on enemies.

Grendel never see much in ways of explosions, but the one he see on mission amazing. After explosion Ranger Steelwing swooped to draw fire with the Explorer giving cover from nearby roof top. Rest of team rushed in after and made quick work of rest.

In aftermath of battle, if can be called one, we find large amount of what highers call Storm-fire, and surrounding teams capture few that try to flee. Grendel glad this go good for team, it nice to see all work together to achieve our missions and to make it out with little casualties. Grendel believ we may need this for upcoming mission.

Blackstone has become one with a new clan of dwarves, which i understand is similar to Gathers. We tasked with escorting him to the Blackstone mountains to make union official. This terrifies Grendel. I not well versed yet in the political battlefields of this new world Grendel has called home for some time now. Thankfully though I have the team to help me in my short comings.

This coming mission will rely heavily upon RFC Blackstone, but if i have learned anything is that he will not be alone in this. Corporal Lisa has been a great asset in the Political battlefields we have found ourselves in on many occasions as well as many others have proved to be invaluable in helping Grendel talk with others. I wish this team does well in the coming mission and expect us to succeed, just hope it at no great cost. Celesia guide us.

Sargent Grendel

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Campaign Report 115: Addendum
Wolfhaven Report

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Barony, Olara

33rd Day of Red Wolf, Year 3127 Under the Light

Over the course of less than a month, to experience such highs and lows, leaves me dizzy and fatigued. First securing the Crown of Camon and bringing some semblance of peace to that war-torn region, only to stagger almost drunkenly into battle against a foe beyond my wildest ken. The exhilaration of victory soured by the loss of Rysak Ironblood. Quite a way to spend my name-day. And, then, a return to Echer’Naught to promote Rah-Sahn to the esteemed, yet seldom used, rank of Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw. And to follow with the elevation and knighting of my son, Sir Alfred Wolfhaven. My heart cannot take such vagaries.

Red Wolf 10th, 3127

I completed my meetings with Commander Garrus and other unit officers, my presence within the Heroes’ Keep was concluded. Though I’m certain Commander Garrus appreciated my presence, and I know the men found pride in having the Commander of the Legion present, I find that at a certain point the presence of high officers ends up being more of a detriment. Junior officers grow complacent, simply passing off responsibility to higher officers rather than taking responsibility for themselves. And Commander Garrus regrettably stepped aside, acting more as my aide de camp than the duly appointed commander of the post.

So, after concluding my duties on the 10th, I informed Commander Garrus that I would be departing in the morning. That evening, we held a dinner for the Legion and allies in the courtyard. There, we commemorated the site were Rysak Ironblood fell. I have commissioned the Builders and Dwarven Stonesinger to create a monument to our fallen, to include the spear which nearly took my life.

Red Wolf 11th, 3127

With my small retinue of Wolfhaven Free Riders and a pair of Legion scouts, I began my long trek east and south to Echer’Naught. Eve joined me as well, since her immediate duties were completed. She also expressed a desire to see Alfred and to be with him at his knighting. I express pride and joy at their happiness. For what else do we fight, but the future of our children?

Our route took us east to Hispan, then through the Guardian Gathers, south-east to Jasara. There we cross the river, down to Rhion, then turning east to Kore,and then south toward Echer’Naught.

Red Wolf 23rd, 3127

We stopped at the Wolfhaven Barony. Sir Regillus was in attendance. I gather that he was a tad miffed that we rode upon him unannounced. He takes his formalities seriously. Still, it was pleasant to sleep in my own bed, despite the absence of my beautiful wife. She remained in the city managing affairs of the house.

My office was neat an orderly, with neatly and orderly stacked messages, reports, missives, letters, and petitions in small towers scattered about the room. With the sheer volume I could have constructed a serviceable fortification fit for a pair of battle-brothers. I will by necessity need return and address the stockpile. But not this day.

Red Wolf 24th, 3127

Per usual, we left before dawn, making our way south along the North Barony road. Under the name Wolf, a wandering Olaran mercenary, I purchased a room at the Mid-waystation south of the Barony. This quaint two-story inn has featured prominently in many Ranger reports, most recently Alpha Team. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and continued our ride.

We camped outside, but within sight of Echer’Naught’s walls. Seeing the light flickering along the wall, hearing the faint murmur of voices…my heart ached with longing. A handful of travelers approached the camp and requested to join our encampment. They were travelers from Jasara in the city on business. We ate, drank, and sang. There was something so normal about just sitting by a warm fire under the stars and enjoying the company of new friends without the burden of rank and station.

Do all who bear authority long for the simpler days of youth, when life consisted of brotherhood, excitement, and, most importantly, freedom? Perhaps. And yet, I would not sacrifice all the freedom in the world for my family, my home. It is good to get away, but I look forward to resuming my normal duties.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

We rose before dawn, joining the line of carts, wagons, and travelers seeking to enter the city. Despite our early arrival, we were still about fifth in line. An hour passed before the guards sounded the horn, and the great north gate doors creaked and groaned open. City Watch and Rangers strode out, taking up posts under awnings to begin inspections.

In all the years in the city, I do not ever recall standing in line to watch this ceremony which has remained nigh unchained for centuries. The experience was pleasant, as waiting in line could be, though surreal. One by one, each merchant and wagon rolled up to the gate. The Sergeant at Arms inspected the paperwork, while his guards poked and prodded the laden wagon. All the while, the City Watch glowered under their domed helms.

Eventually, my team stepped up to the checkpoint. The bored Ranger Sergeant extended a hand for my papers without bothering to glance upwards. I express a certain amusement when his gaze settled upon my name and rank. His body went rigid, and he nearly fell over looking up. I could see the well drilled reflex as he opened his mouth to call the guard to attention. When our eyes locked, he wisely noted the slight shake of my head and chose to, instead, clear his throat instead. Handing me back my papers, he waved my unit through without further comment.

With the city just waking, we rode down the Main Street. Merchants threw off tarps, criers began to shout their wares, bleary eyed servants emptied chamber pots into sewers grates, and the bustle of the city grew into a constant roar. We stopped by Schenkle’s Bakery for sweet rolls. Father Schenkle nearly cracked a rib hugging me. My guards nearly smashed a case trying to save me. All told, it was an eventful breaking of fast.

Afterwards, we rode to the Ranger City Headquarters and dismounted outside. The Ranger grooms were just finishing their morning ale when we appeared. Only the head man recognized me out of uniform and actually fell off his fence rail. Quickly, with only a brief pause for scrambling, the grooms took our horses and we head around the corner to the “entrance.” For the briefest moment I was lost in time. Nostalgia flooded over me. The scent of mud, straw, oil, and wood mixed with the sounds of Rangers training in the yard and the hubbub of traffic on the main road behind me.

After all these years I can still see the broke down old barn that served as our headquarters for the first years. As I passed the pair of Ranger guards flanking the door, I could almost see the hulking form of GrimMbore on his crate, like the first day I arrived. Passing through the old familiar door, I was greeted by the sight of dozens of Rangers packed around long tables, eating, talking, and laughing. But I could just as clearly see a young cocky Hawksclaw stacking lumber while Highwall sawed and nailed them together. Does anyone sitting her today realize that their tables, chairs, firepits, even beds were build by hand by THE Colonel Wolfhaven, Captain Hawksclaw, and Sergeant Minor Longtail? Only, back then, we were Alexander, Rah-Sahn, Aradove, and Gate…

Even after so many years, it is strange not seeing Grimbore’s bed just inside the door to the left. That was shipped out almost two years ago, shortly after the founding of the Stone Tower Gather. He was SO happy when we presented it to him. Such a simple thing, a bed. But, he was as proud as any king.

My anonymity evaporated the moment I stepped into the Headquarters. Conversation stopped as NCO’s began to rise to their feet, unsure of protocol when their Colonel is out of uniform. I nodded in what I hoped was a reassuring gesture. Why do they look at me with such fear? Of all the trapping of rank, the disconnected with the men under my command is one of the most difficult things to bear.

As I approached the door to Captain Hawksclaw’s office, my old office, the orc guard out front snapped to attention so fast and so straight, I feared his spine would snap. He did manage to squeak out a hoarse, “next.” Inside, Captain Hawksclaw, just starting his morning tea, looked up confused, then delighted. That must be why we cling to the old guard. Because they see us not as Colonels and Captains, but as we are…old friends.

We embraced, then I sat. I can scarcely describe the feeling of being back here. Everything is so familiar, the old desk, the rough paneled walls, the worn chairs. And yet, it has all changed. Such is life.

Despite his surprise, and confusion at my appearance, Hawksclaw welcomed me. It was good to just chat with a friend. Though, I admit that my appearance was under false pretenses. I am fully away that Alpha is to be sent as an honor guard for Blackstone’s wedding. I signed the orders myself. But, there were a couple important events that needed addressing prior to their departure. And on that note, I informed Captain Hawksclaw that his promotional packet had been received and approved. Granted it was on extremely short notice, but he would need to acquire a new dress uniform, and put together a guest list. We shook and he looked both concerned and excited. If any man deserves the honor, it is Rah-Sahn.

After that, I headed to my manor to see my wife. In the brief time spent in the City HQ, main street grew crowded. Even mounted, we slowed to a crawl as we navigated the congested streets. Under normal circumstances, outriders would clear the streets allowing my retinue to pass, but this morning I elected to move with the flow of traffic. Sweet, spicy, and savor scents wafted up from street vendors. While waiting for a broken wagon to be pushed off the road, I leaned down an purchased a pastry from a food stall recommended by Sir Volstagg. It was delicious as promised, though I am still partial to Schenkles.

Eventually, we passed the roundabout at Center Pointe. I note the Memorial is going up well. Craftsmen were laboring large, granite slaps into place as we passed. Through Center Pointe, we made our passed the Wayfarer’s Rest on the right, and Barracks on the left. A few blocks later, we make the turn through the High Towne gate, up the hill, and then…home.

There are few feelings quite so comforting as seeing your home for the first time. But there is one.

By some stoke of fortune, my Lady Baroness happened to be leaving the manor on some errand as we crested the hill. I saw her a moment before she turned. So beautiful. Today, she wore a gray gown over a silver tooled dress. Her shoulders and chest were bare revealing her alabaster skin, and wide, fluted sleeves flowed down from needle pointed embroidery at the shoulders, down to decorative lace at the wrists. Over her raven hair, she wore a pale wimple. Behind her flocked her attendants like chicks following a mother hen. And behind the attendants a pair of House Guard in colors followed, arclances resting against their shoulders.

She was speaking to her chief handmaid, when the girl stiffened, seeing me approaching. Elyanna turned, slowly. Our eyes met. And then, she smiled. There was not shout, she did not tear off running toward me. Nothing so…crass. My wife simply smiled and waited patiently for me to dismount and approach. But her eyes, her eyes spoke volumes. I still marvel how a woman raised so far from my home could so wholly adopt Olaran culture. She is everything I could have dreamed and more.

Baroness Elyanna did make one small concession. After our brief embrace, she handed a list to her chief handmaid and instructed the girl to complete the shopping without her. Rather, my wife joined me at the manor.

Red Wolf 26th, 3127

While working through yet another stack of paperwork, this at home, I heard word that Captain Hawksclaw officiated the promotion for several members of Alpha Team.

Ranger Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Ingrid was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger McKenzie Shan was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Steelwing was promoted to Ranger First Class

Considering the actions of the team, the promotion was more than deserved.

I, of course, was busy planning my own promotion ceremony. In fine military tradition, it is appropriate to accompany the elevation of an officer with pomp and circumstance. The greater the rank, the more pomp. As there are previous few Majors in the Ranger Corps, it being a seldom used rank, I felt it appropriate to present Captain Hawksclaw the full experience and grandeur of his new position. No one deserves it more. Besides, I have not forgotten the mirth he felt at my own award ceremony so many years ago. I will never forget the dreadful performance by Fateweaver and his band of mummers. It haunts my dreams.

Colonel Anderson called on me during the afternoon. He had heard word of my arrival and spent most of the 25th, and 26th awaiting my arrival at the Regional Headquarters. When I failed to arrive, he elected to come to me. I fear I may have insulted the man, though he was congenial and pleasant. I assured him that my reticence to arrive at the HQ had more to do with the fact that I was not yet in a position to assume full-time duties than any issue with his team. Moreover, I sought NOT to interfere until such time as I was able direct my full resources at the task. He seemed mollified and was instrumental in putting Captain Hawksclaw’s ceremony together.

Red Wolf 27th, 3127

Despite my best efforts, certain duties required my attention. First and foremost, I signed off on assigning Ben Toma’s mask from the “Vault,” to RFC Ranna. Thought I do not envy her, I understand the protections the mask will provide. If it will protect my Rangers, I am more than pleased to agree. Also, I found a request via Sergeant Major Stormhammer on behalf of Ranger “Explorer” to be assigned an arcfire handcaster from the Ranger Arsenal. This…I considered.

I have no fear the Builder is more than capable of operating the caster. In fact, I dare say that few other than Anaxelum’s men know more about arcfire. And yet, I am loathe to distribute our precious store of arcfire to those I do not know. Even members of Alpha Team. Was I being influence by my own personal distrust of arcfire, or just my concerns over the motives of the Builder’s as a race? Whatever the case, I tucked that request into the personal satchel for further rumination.

In addition to orders, I was pleased to be informed that as of the 27th of Red Wolf, RFC Ranna had officially been inducted into the Echer’Naught chapter of the Order of the Closed Eye. I am pleased that she appears to be acclimating to living with the Rangers. In addition, I heard word that on the same day she submitted Captain Volstagg’s acceptance as a Sworn of House Volstagg. Sir Volstagg extended the invitation to them both when they left Almahrad the last time, Falling Ice 30th, 3127. Sergeant Grendel accepted his immediately. RFC Ranna required more time to come to the decision.

There were other reports, details, and business. But, again, final preparations for Rah-Sahn’s ceremony consumed most of my time. That…and meeting with my son.

Alfred and I had been in communication via letters, and Lady Moonsilver, for months. In fact, throughout Spring and into Summer, we discussed his promotion to full knight. Since Falling Ice 34th, 3123, that fateful day when I took the lists during Echer’Naught’s annual Festival of Lilankrone, young Alfred served as my Squire. In fact, it was the same day he took the cloak to be a Ranger. I wonder if he knew then what a change that day would have on his life? I hope for the better. A year and two months of loyal service later, I officially adopted Alfred as my son and heir on Golden Eagle 21st, 3124. From that day till this, he has had but one dream, to ascend to the rank of Knight in House Wolfhaven.

Regrettably, my duties have kept me away far too long. And Alfred has been patient, though I can feel his frustration. I feel it as well. My knighting was one of the greatest moments of my life. My father looked so proud. Though it seems a lifetime ago, it is a precious treasure that I have held through the dark days of my life. Nothing would give me greater joy than to grant for Alfred what was granted to me.

And then, there is the small matter for Evelyn Afliem, of course. I know my son’s heart is to marry her. But, he cannot until he has reached knighthood. And, from her earnest gaze as we entered the city, examining each face in the hope to see his in the crowd…she is as impatient as we.

So, in the midst of preparations to promote my friend and sworn, Rah-Sahn, I also had the double joy to send invitations to the knighting of my eldest son. My heart bursts with pride.

Red Wolf 28th, 3127

I woke before dawn, hoping to get an early start to the day, only to find that my wife had been up for hours. Preparations were well under way. I could easily see from the yawns and tired eyes of the servants chugging Almahradi coffee. Late to the party, I rose and began my own preparations. Lady Elyanna spared a brief moment to grant me a kiss, but she was in her element, like a conductor conducting an opus. I wisely stayed well out of her way.

Instead, I donned my formal dress and made my way to the Regional Headquarters. There was only slightly less busy than my own home. Colonel Anderson greeted me and together we wrangled the Rangers into some semblance of order. I did note the Alpha Team standing around uncomfortably in their dress uniforms, freshly stitched and starched.

After a morning of mad preparations, the event was hosted in the East Hall at 2PM. In his formal dress, Captain Hawkslcaw paraded into a rousing martial strain. His wife, Lady Moonsilver, on his arm as always. The room was packed with Rangers, City Watch, City Militia, Merchants Association, and others. At the head table, Hawksclaw’s mother and sister. Sadly, Celebor could not attend, though I know he sent his warmest regards. Warmest for Celebor. And, of course, Sergeant Minor Longtail.

Speeches were given, per usual. Some notables were Captain Vasser of the City Watch, Commander Schenkle of the City Militia, Colonel Anderson of the Rangers, and a visiting Emissary from the elven lands of Landra’Feya. Even High Druidess Treesinger made some small remarks. All extolled his virtues, listed his accomplishments. Men and women from every command stood to recognize his service. And, of course, Alpha Team. It always seems to come back to that brotherhood.

Do the young, fresh, and uncomfortable young Rangers understand the magnitude of the cadre they have joined? Do they know the history? Can they?

In truth, I suppose not. Such is the nature of things. Our time has passed. Our stories have been told. It is time for these new members to make their own mark on the world. Perhaps someday, it will be a member of their team standing here?

Once the others had spoken, I was invited to speak. Rather than have everyone stand, I offered a brief respite from attention. My words were short, but heartfelt. Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw was not just the third commander of Alpha Team and my successor, he was, and is, my dearest friend, the First Sworn of my House, founder of the Wolfhaven’s Free Company Riders, and commander of the Ranger Headquarters of Echer’naught. I then called the room to attention to orders, and read the official orders.

Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw was promoted to Major Ra-Sahn Hawksclaw.

The ceremony concluded, Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer dismissed the assembled to attend a private luncheon in the courtyard. We all retired, found our seats and ate. Looking around, I could not help but recal some of the extraordinary events that had transpired in this small patch of land. I was attacked by the Inspector here. We battled Tempest on this very ground. So too, the Flame Ranger. Fateweaver’s awful play happened here. So many good memories, and many painful as well.

As is my custom, I retired early, but I know many people stayed long into the eve. I did note Alpha Team approaching Major Hawksclaw as a unit as I left. Good. It warms my heart to see it.

Returning home, I quickly gathered my things and prepared to leave. Per usual, the Baroness had already prepared almost all details. Carriages and wagons waited at the gate, loaded and ready to go. Turning over the house to our Castellan and defense to Gendarre. And then we were off, a rather large cavalcade rolling out of the city, heading north. We passed the gates of High Towne, turning west on the main road. Then, turning north at Center Pointe, we passed Thorgrams statue as we departed the North Gate.

On the road again. We traveled late into the eve, stopping to camp by the road. Well, I suppose camp is a bit of a misnomer. For me, a camp is a bedroll beside a small fire with Thunder on a horseline and a man standing watch. For my wife…camping is erecting a tent city. Sleeping in a rope bed on thick carpets. Cooks prepare our meals. Grooms tend our horses. We don’t camp, so much as migrate with a large portion of the House. Though, I am not complaining…much. Lying in a real bed, warm next to my bride is far preferable than spooning a snoring knight on the cold hard ground.

Red Wolf 29th, 3127

We decamped before dawn. I marvel at how quickly my wife’s staff drops and packs the mass of tents and canvas. But, within an hour, we were ready to move. Sometimes I believe were SHE running my armies, we might have already won. Despite our size, we moved quickly, arriving at the Barony a few hours after dark. Sir Regillus met us at the gatehouse with an entire retinue of House Guard.

We passed a growing camp outside our walls. Already dozens of knights and their men at arms had arrived. Members of allied houses, knights Alfred had served with over the years, and friends of the Rangers. For a heartbeat, I was thrown back to the days before the War of Flame when such events were commonplace. I hope that some day, they will be so again.

Despite the hour, when we reached the manor proper, the house was awake. Baths were drawn, and food prepared. I slept full, warm, and clean in my own bed that night.

Red Wolf 30th, 3127

All of the 30th was spent making preparations. Late in the eve, Alpha Team arrived.

Red Wolf 31st, 3127

Sir Regillus took charge of security, working with visiting knights, Alpha Team, and the House Guard to ensure NOTHING disturbed this event. Over the course of the day, other luminaries arrived. Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven, along with Beta Team and Eve. Sergeant Samira Ravenwood arrived with her team to join her husband. Sergeant Minor Longtail arrived with her family. Commander Schenkle arrived with his wife, Sara Schenkle, and a contingent of City Militia. Sir Hevain arrived, uninvited. Even Field Marshal Graf Von Wrangel attended along with a troop of Hammerfall Riders. Even my young sister arrived with House Harken soldiers.

It was a JOY to see her. She wept at seeing the old barony restored to its former glory. I admit that I spent much of the knight introducing her to my family. My heart soared.

The barony was filled with life and laughter.

Per custom, the night before his knighting, Alfred donned the white gambeson, and ventured to the Chapel of Light to pray in silence. The first sworn of the House, Major Hawksclaw attended him, while knights of the House Guard stood quiet vigil.

Red Wolf 32nd, 3127

I was so excited, I could not sleep a wink the night before. So, I was up with the earliest risers, beating even my wife, to her chagrin. I dressed in full House Kit, doffing my Rank and Cloak of the Rangers. As I stood before my mirror I was suddenly struck at how much I resembled my father on the morning of my own knighting. My heart clenched with an old ache. Sensing my distress, Lady Wolfhaven put and around around me and her head on my shoulder. Her quiet warmth soothed my spirit.

Though I doubt my father would have wished for life to turn out this way, I know my father would be proud. And pleased that his line had not faltered. We weathered the storm, and through the sacrifice and love of our allies, our friends, and in no small part the Alpha Team of old, we rose from our knees and fought our way back. For this, above all else, I will never forsake my old team. Though the names and faces change, the spirit of brotherhood and honor is as strong today as ever.

We ventured into the courtyard to be with Alfred when he emerged from his prayers. Hawksclaw escorted him, along with the House Guards to his chambers to be dressed. Nothing was said, as per custom, but I could see his fierce pride, despite the exhaustion.

Once the chapel was cleared, we began to arrange for the honored guests to arrive. Just before dawn, the chapel was full, and I took my place beside Thaleon, who had ventured all the way from Farwatch to officiate the benediction. And then, the drums rolled, the horns trumpeted and my son strode with confidence and pride into the chapel. He approached and then knelt, bowing his head.

Reciting the ancient words that have been spoken for centuries, “I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to the lord, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit.”

And then, I drew my father’s sword and touched him one on each shoulder, and then upon the head. With that, my son joined the ancient and storied order of Wolfhaven Knights of the Blood. I then announced him, Sir Alfred Wolfhaven, Knight and Blood of House Wolfhaven.

He rose, his eyes shining. Mine as well. Did my father feel such emotion? Did he fight back tears? I believe he must have, though at the time, he looked as stone, large and strong as the mountains themselves.

Sir Alfred Wolfhaven left first, with his Sworn, Major Hawksclaw at his side. Then we followed, my sister, and others. Each by rank and order. Above and around us guards and rangers stood. High on the walls, and the roofs I could see the swatches of green. Each a silent sentinel. I hope they know what relief I feel knowing they were there. Alpha Team was never able to stop every threat. But, they never stopped fighting. Never quit. Never surrendered to despair, fear, or doubt.

Under their watchful eyes, we entered the Manor house and the great hall. As I stepped through the doorway, I glanced back and caught other eyes lifted skyward. Samira, Aradove, even Rah-Sahn. Did they feel the same mix of nostalgia and pride?

Though it was still early, food was brought, ale poured, and the celebrations began. Games were played, skill at arms tested, music, and mummers. The Great Lady of the House spared no expense. No man or woman felt unwanted, no desire was unmet. Olarans oft thought of as sullen, stoic, and unable to relax. But, when an occasion calls, we can celebrate like no other. And a knighting is one such occasion.

After dinner, I noted a somewhat inebriated Sir Wolfhaven stride over to challenge an equally inebriated Major Hawksclaw. Per tradition the old master tested his young charge. Rah-Sahn chose his old familiar dueling style, drawing an elegant elvish rapier from his swagger stick. My son hefted his familiar white silver boar spear. Despite their obvious impairment, the men squared off. To my surprise, Rah-Sahn struck first, landing a telling blow. Impressive. But, that seems to alter the nature of the combat.

This was no longer a test, but a true bout. And both men engaged in earnest. Battle lust washed away the ale in a rush and they both acquitted themselves with honor. Though, in the end, youth won out. With a final, savage blow, Alfred knocked Rah-Sahn on his arse, bofre himself sagging against the haft of his spear. Healers from Alpha Team, RFC Blackstone and Corporal Sssahliissstah rushed out to heal both men. Once recovered, then embraced and went off in search of more ale.

I confess, I did not last much longer before I was forced to retire. My wife joining me. I can only imagine what debauchery was had in my absence.

Though I was surprised to have a knock on my office door about an hour later. I was just sitting before a fire, letting my overlarge meal digest, when my guards announced Major Hawksclaw, Sergeant Minor Longtail, and the Explorer bade an audience. I confess I was intrigued, though I began to suspect their purpose.

Suffice to say, I believe the meeting to be fruitful, if impromptu. We spoke for a couple hours, before they, satisfied, retired. We were just leaving when there was another rap on my office door. This time the guard admitted my son and a beaming Eve. As I suspected, he had asked and she had granted her hand in marriage.

My mind already spinning from my conversation, the wine, and heady from the last few days, I was overwhelmed. Unbidden tears ran down my face as I embraced them both. All in attendance offered their congratulations. And then we all had a drink. Eventually, each departed to his, or her, own chamber.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

Whatever sleep I planned was now entirely out of my grasp. So, I sat to record my thoughts, and this report. Eventually two days of exhaustion and lack of sleep eventually took their toll and I doused the lamps. I did ensure to perform one duty before retiring. I signed the Explorer’s request for the handcaster and handed it to an aide to be expedited to Echer’Naught in the morning.

It is a new day, full of new beginnings. As I conclude this report, I must wonder, if I asked all of those who had sacrificed their lives to secure a happy future for those that followed, would they say it was worth the cost? I hope so. When I finally die, on whatever field, I would give my life a thousand times over to see the joy shared tonight spread to others.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Wofhaven Barony, Olara

View
Campaign Report 115
A Major Knighting

Steelwing,

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

One benefit of being the city’s Alpha Team, we get all the good invites. Well, most of the good invites. Some. We get a few dinners. But, I’m not going to pass on an open bar.

Funny, I’ve never really felt any affinity for the “Military life,” certainly never taken a second look at the few female soldiers I encountered along the way. Well, if I’m being honest, I looked at them quite a bite, but never cared much for uniforms and formal wear. However, I must say, Ingrid and Kenzie cut quite a figure in their formal dress.

And, judging by the looks I received from some of the notable ladies in attendance, I did as well. Fortunately, I had Kenzie on hand to defend any “unwanted advances.” Parties, however stuffy, are a fair sight better than dying on a regular basis.

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

After our excitement during the “Storm Guard” raid, and the delicious after party, Alpha Team was returned to regular duties. Which, is more or less like light duty, but full hours on patrols, vs half hours, and less time training. They are, however, equally exciting. In that, they are as dull and mundane as our Mandatory Ranger meetings.

We heard that an advocate was bringing suit against the Rangers. Well, another suit. While our raid was successful, the resulting explosion destroyed any real evidence of criminal activity. With a body count over twenty, the suit accuses the Rangers of using “excessive force” despite the fact that we went out of our way to take them alive, and only attacked in response to attack. From what I hear, the case will likely be settled easily. Still, everyone is on their best behavior. All commanders are warned to not exceed their authority or risk adding fuel to the fire.

Not that it really has anything to do with the Team. We followed orders.

Though, with the Rangers hamstrung by legal action, the City Watch is left to fend for itself, mostly. Though, they too are under scrutiny. Which means the criminals, gangs in particular have become brazen. They know if we crack down too hard, it might go poorly against us, and invite more suits against us. So, they are making the most of the situation. Ridiculous.

Red Wolf 20th, 3127

Blackstone is really taking the marriage thing seriously. Well, I guess everyone is if the entire team is getting assigned to guard detail. I hope it ends up being worth it.

Blackstone had nothing for morning detail on the 20th, so caught him heading out before dawn. Later, I heard he went down to some fancy smithy, Glamrinson or some such, to commission his wedding ring.

Unfortunately I did pull morning guard shift up on the Beacon Tower. But, that afternoon, I joined Kenzie and Ingrid at the Sacred Grove. Both my ladies are getting deeply spiritual. Kenzie wanted to meditate, while Ingrid wound up talking with the Druids. If it makes them happy. I like the grove, but I could do with less singing.

Red Wolf 21st, 3127

Well, I’m not sure what the mask was whispering to RFC Ranna, but he certainly knows how to charm. She’s been obsessed with it since the raid. I heard from one of the Ogres that she went to Captain Hawksclaw to request the Toma Mask to be assigned out to her on a permanent basis. Apparently you can do that? Well, Blackstone has the Ramshorn Shield, so… I wonder what else is in the vault?

I also caught the Explorer coming out of Stormhammer’s office. Is it just me or has get been more…intense of late? Clearly, the diminutive shooter is working through some heavy issues. He nearly had passed out when he saw the Mad Bomb detonate. Maybe he’s looking to up his arsenal?

Red Wolf 22nd, 3127

What is wrong with the Explorer. I caught him going into Stormhammer’s office early, then by lunch, he’s being marched into that scary brinchie Sergeant Longtail’s office. Either he is colluding, or he is in serious trouble. Judging by our track record, he will be in prison by week’s end. Mores the pity. I liked him.

Red Wolf 24th, 3127

So, we were all called down to the city headquarters to meet with Captain Hawksclaw. To be honest, on the way down, I was expecting news of our court marshal, or at least Sergeant Grendel’s…or the Explorers. But, all went far better than expected. By Official Ranger orders, four of us received promotions to Ranger First Class:

Blackstone
Ingrid
Kenzie
and Me, Blackstone.

Not the Explorer, so I guess he is in trouble. Though I do not know for what reason, or why he didn’t invite me.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

By breaking of fast, rumors swirled in the city that the Lord Mayor had returned, unescorted, in secret under cover of darkness. Some say he was performing a surprise inspection on Colonel Anderson. Others that he was hiding from his wife. One Ranger I spoke with even suggested that Wolfhaven was dead and his ghost was haunting the city. Though, that was probably unlikely.

By dinner, I saw the man himself. From a distance. Though a window. But, it was definitely Wolfhaven. It seemed odd to me for the Lord Mayor to be in the city, but not resuming his post. That would have echoed up and down the Ranger ranks.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

By the 25th, rumors flew. Regional Headquarters geared up for something big. Messengers and runners hit every Major and Minor House in the City, the Merchant’s Counsel, and both the Watch and the Militia. Something big was brewing.

Red Wolf 27th, 3127

By the 27th, word was out that Captain Hawksclaw was getting some big award. Alpha Team’s presence was required, and we were all ordered to purchase formal dress uniforms. The event was scheduled for two the next day, but we were ordered to report by dawn.

Predicably, the remainder of our day, and most of the night was spent getting fitted for uniforms, then assembling our finery. We spent six hours just purchasing our uniforms from Stormhammer. As much as enjoy parties, the pomp was ridiculous. How can the military manage to ruin celebrations.

Red Wolf 28th, 3127

Dressed so stiffly we couldn’t even move, shining brighter than the beacon tower, we assembled by dawn at the Regional HQ. Mostly, we stood around and waited while an army of servile staff swarmed everywhere setting up banners, streamers, flags, chairs, scaffolding and all manner of device. Other teams were on duty, but we…just stood there looking uncomfortable. The ogres showered at least, so that was good. And Corporal Sssahliissstah kept us alive with snacks. Who knew that murder lizards spontaneously produced food. You would think such an amazing talent would be more common knowledge.

Anyway, throughout the day, we moved around, until two, we found ourselves in one of the larger meeting halls. The assembled peerage and brass was quite impressive. This was either a wedding (odd as the Captain was married), a funeral (odd because he wasn’t dead), or a promotion. Turns out, it was a promotion.

Starting at 2 PM, the speeches began. Colonel Anderson spoke, followed by Commander Schenkle, and Captain Vasser, an emissary from Landra’Feya, a druid from the Sacred Grove…I don’t remember them all. I honestly fell asleep about an hour in. At some point, Blackstone elbowed me awake as Colonel Wolfhaven took the stand. I don’t know what I expected, but the man is far less stuffy than I imagined. He put everyone at east, spoke briefly, and then presented Captain Hawksclaw his official promotion to Major. I didn’t even know we had Majors.

Then, Sergeant Major Stormhammer invited us all to attend a banquet in an adjoining room. Free food, free ale, and the two most beautiful women in the world. Though, as I mentioned, Kenize was a wee bit territorial. What can I say, women love the wings. Well, everybody loves the wings, really.

We ate, danced, spoke. All in all it was a beautiful night. Though, that pants were too tight in the crotch, the jacket made my wings feel stiff, and the shoes too tight. That and poor Lieutenant Alfred Woflhaven looked to be having a moment. I feared the man would have a stroke.

Once Major Hawksclaw was seated with his wife, and family, and the receiving line lessened somewhat, the Alpha Team ventured forth to congratulate him. Its odd, though. It seems that Alpha Team commanders either die in the field, or are promoted to high office. Neither of which appeals to me, come to it.

Red Wolf 29th, 3127

As the celebration wrapped, new orders came down. We had ANOTHER formal event in two days! Yay. So, we all quickly had our new uniforms pressed and packaged for travel. Then ran around like crazy. puling rations and prepping for a two day trip north to the Wolfhaven Barony. Considering that all of our other trips ended in bloodshed and tears, we chose to depart prepared. By mid day, we were riding north along the North Barony Road. Kenzie rode Diego, and she graciously allowed me to second mount, Buttercup. Between the bear, the two horses, and the rat, she has quite a menagerie.

The Explorer rode Muriel again. They seem to have bonded. Both surly, both driven. Both nigh unintelligible. Blackstone rode Tiny. Another odd pairing. Odd, but seems to work. Ingrid rode an Olaran rounsey. The ogres cuddled up on a large wagon. I think Corporal Sssahliissstah in the back of the wagon. To be honest, we make quite a spectacle on the road. Especially being the “premier” cavalry unit.

Before leaving, one of Stormhammer’s aides put a large purse in Sergeant Grendel’s hands. The funds paid our way straight to Wolfhaven’s door. Getting such a late start, we didn’t reach the mid-waysation till inter the 13th hour. Though, the sack of gold Sergeant Grendel carried quickly silenced any objections.

We were set up nicely, two to a room. The Ogres were given a small outbuilding equipped with a large enough bed for one. Two if they squeezed in. So one, knowing Grendel.

Our menageries of mounts was stabled. All fed, and groomed. Money certainly talks.

Red Wolf 30th, 3127

We rose before dawn, and were on the road again having a fine night sleep, breaking our fast on hot sausage, soft cheese, and warm bread. The weather was hot, but not unbearable. Traffic along the North Barony is usually steady, but this far north of the city, hardly busy.

Having started early, we reached the Wolfhaven Barony by dusk. It amazing me to see how quickly the barony develops. Each trip it seems adds new outbuildings, new soldiers.

Halfway between Echer’Naught and Kore, the North Barony Road turns slightly west. There, at the bend stands the outer gatehouse of the Wolfhaven Barony. Like all things Olaran, it is squat, heavy, a well fortified stone house, twin storied square towers, and an actual gate strattling a wide, Olaran road running west off the main road. There are no walls, per se, but from the corner marker on the south eastern edge of the property, to, I assume the north east, runs a deep ditch and berm. Perhaps maintained for drainage, it serves as a break against horses. Though, a man could easily scramble over.

The gatehouses were resplendent in house colors and pennants. And, the blockhouse was unusually busy with over a dozen House Guard. As we arrived, the Corporal offered out papers, but the guards only glanced. It seems we were expected. Once through the “gate” we followed the hard, flat road as it wended through the rolling hills, green and bursting. In the distance, herds of horses grazed, and fields of crops scattered the landscape.

Not far from the main thoroughfare, our road crested a small ridge. At the top, about five hundred yards away sprawled the Wolfhaven Manor. I’ve been here before with the team. But, even then it was dark, and the manor was relatively lifeless. Not today. Even in the dying light, splashes of color covered the dark, stone walls. Banners, pennants, standards and flags, flapped or hung from every possible perch. The manor proper was lit as if by fireflies, glowing in the growing dark. Three stories, plus soaring towers, it has obviously stood the test of time. A stone wall surrounded a small courtyard, opened only by the main gate. And around THAT, the entire site another wall, this one newly constructed of a deep ditch, and berm leading to a thick stone wall, topped by crenelations. The towers are squat and round, nothing like the older Olaran style. Clearly, the curtain wall was constructed by those experienced in siege warfare. I doubt even an arcfire golem could breach those defense.

As we rode in, we saw a large camp of perfect rows, and dull colored tents. Olarans. No one is so precise.

At the gates, we were welcomed, and grooms appeared to attend to our mounts. Behind and above us, heavily armed and armored knights patrolled the battlements alongside lighter armed crossbowmen, and arcfire equipped arclancers. Each tower sported a catapult, ballista, or dwarven engine of death. Every door was flanked by no fewer than two immaculately dressed House Guard.

Though I noted with interest that we alone wore the green of the Rangers, and of the assembled, all bore the unmistakable comportment of Olarans. Whatever this event might be, it was clearly not a Ranger matter, or even the Southern Kingdoms. This, was an Olaran, or Wolfhaven issue.

Once our mounts were led away, Muriel a tad less sullen than normal, we were escorted into the entry hall. Servants swarmed everywhere in organized chaos. I sense the Great Lady, Baroness Wolfhaven’s, hand.

After being shown to our rooms, I being permitted to room with Kenzie and Ingrid, we were allowed to enter the grand hall where tables of food were kept stock as guests passed through at all hours. I was pleased to be billeted with my loves, but I found it odd. The prudishness of the Olarans is legendary. Wolfhaven has always struck me as more “conservative” than most. And yet, here, we were treated less as Rangers, and more as honored guests. Interesting.

After “dinner”, I followed the girls around as we explored the manor. Once back in the courtyard, we noted that the lone Chapel of Light was surrounded by solemn and stoic knights bearing Wolfhaven colors. A horrible waste of manpower.

We bedded down, pleasantly. Though I find the structure and absurdity of human politics obtuse, rank has privileges. If we had such fine lodging…

Red Wolf 31st, 3127

The day dawned bright. Food was provided, self serve. More guests arrived and the team spent the day staying out of people’s way and working with the House Guard. Sir Regillus runs a tight ship. Alpha Team was rolled into the guard rotation. By the end of day, we had worked alongside most stations and posts. Having seen all the faces, anyone intruding on the morrow’s event would stick out. Smart.

Red Wolf 32nd, 3127

Well before dawn, a bell woke the team, well, the entire house. We rose and donned our high formal wear, though we were permitted bear weapons in the house, I felt exposed without my armor. As we entered a smaller dining room. Colonel Wolfhaven waited over his breaking fast. We collected our food and he explained that his son was to be knighted. At dawn, the guests would make their way to the Chapel of Light for the ceremony. Our job was to provide protection and overwatch over the courtyard to ensure no villainous factions threatened the assembled.

During the entirety of the event, which I saw none of, but heard much, I saw nothing unusual. The only odd note was the sound of howling wolves in the distance. Though, given the name of the House, perhaps that is not unusual here.

A few hours after dawn, the newly raised knight departed the Chapel flanked by Major Hawksclaw and Sergeant Minor Longtail, both in Wolfhaven House livery, and not Ranger attire. After them, came Baron Wolfhaven with his wife, also in Wolfhaven colors. Following this, Sir Regillus and his wife, Lady (Sergeant) Regillus. And then an parade of House Wolfhaven and Olaran Blood, Sword, and esteemed personages.

All entered the manor for feasting, which lasted most of the day. Games, music, performances…it was quiet a celebration. I did not know that Olarans DID celebrate. Turns out, the warriors of Olara can throw down, given enough ale.

So, long into the eve, we stood our post, ten hour shift with two short hour breaks. I spent mine among the sweeping buttresses and angelic statuary high upon the manor’s roof. At some time around 10ish, we were finally rotated out and allowed to head into the great hall. Our timing could not have been more perfect.

As we gathered our food, and found an open table at the far corner of the hall, there was the sound of clattering cutlery and arms, as the central floor was suddenly vacated. Two men, SIR Alfred Wolfhaven and Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw squared off. The elder Major, drew a thin, elivsh rapier from his “swaggers stick.” Sir Wolfhaven snatched up his signature White Silver boar spear.

Major Hawksclaw struck first, and fiercely, giving his young opponent no quarter. Sir Wolfhaven, for his part, was only briefly forced on his back foot, recovering quickly. His counter attack was savage. Within moments, the combat settled into a furious exchange of blows, Sir Wolfhaven using his reach, with the Major using speed and agility. Both men proved their skill at arms, were there any doubt that the longtime friends were first and foremost, warriors.

Youth overcame experience, as Sir Wolfhaven felled Major Hawksclaw with a savage, if wild blow. Instantly, Corporal Sssahliissstah and RFC Blackstone leaped to heal them both. Though victorious, Sir Wolfhaven did not escape unscathed.

After being healed, both men retired to drink well into their cups. As for the team, we enjoyed being off our feet after a 12 hour shift. The food was heavy, but delicious. The ale, did its job. The music was…martial. To be expected.

I was honestly tired, and getting drowsy when Baron Wolfhaven and the Baroness excused themselves. Within the hour, Sergeant Minor Longtail collected a tipsy Major Hawksclaw, and an unusually introspective Explorer and disappeared. I did not see them for the rest of the evening. Kenzie, Ingrid, and I enjoyed the celebration as it turned rowdy. Eventually, we made it to our rooms where I passed out.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

Awakened early by the bells, I ventured out in search of parchment and quill. I find both and more. The rumors flying amongst the staff is that after being knighted, the young Sir Wolfhaven asked the hand of Lady Evelyn Afliem. She accepted.

That the adopted son of the well known Colonel Wolfhaven asked the hand of the daughter of a traitor was scandalous enough. That she is a creature of mystery and unknown origin only added to the scandal. None could believe that the Baron would consent to such a pairing for his heir and eldest. Odd, considering he married a Shayakar, adopted an Alakar and Brinchie as his sworn, and placed a Tempest commander as the head of his house.

As pleasant as this interlude has been, we still face a long and arduous journey west with the Kal Winghunters still at large, and Storm Guard seeking retribution for our attack. I fear our journey will not be uneventful.

Steelwing

View
Letter to Beloved
Congratulations

Dear “Beloved”,

Rumor has reached my ears that you have had a child. I must express my congratulations for the birth of your child to you and the child’s father.

I do hope this missive finds you and your family in the best of conditions and in good health. Perhaps one day our paths shall cross once more.

Warmest Regards,

“Rover”

View
Campaign Report 114
Storm Guard Raid

Steelwing

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

So, it would seem that we are to return, once again, into the west. I fear that Sergeant Grendel might have an apoplectic attack. Though I have only heard of in rumor, comments, I gather Alpha Team’s mission into the desert was traumatic for him. RFC Ranna seems to take it better, though she is made of sterner mental fortitude.

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

By the evening of the 1st, I and Kenzie were in the Echer’Naught “Memorial” hospital. Though, all the locals still call it the Red Lamp for some reason. Though we were in different wings, regular visits from Ingrid kept me informed on Kenzie’s progress. Thank the Ascended, she was healing well.

All being equal, I am impressed with the service at the Hospital. Though, I as surprised by the large number of “herbalists” and “healers” over your typical Priest/Druid arrangement. It was also the cleanest room I have ever seen. They boil everything!

Kenzie and I both remained in the hospital for three days. The magic healing at the ambush site was more than enough with the best rest and the ministrations of the city’s finest nurses.

Red Wolf 4th, 3127

We were released in the early morning. Ingrid was there to escort us home. The barracks were nice. Though, I’ve heard that married Rangers are allowed “off-base” housing. Maybe I’ll ask one of the more studious Rangers to inquire the official rules and regulations to that ordinance?
I did find that the rest of the Rangers were assigned to light duty. Basic patrols, paperwork, gear maintenance. Hours of mind numbing boredom. If I didn’t know better, I would think we were being punished. Then again, I fear this is a hallmark of all militaries.

If I ever get too frustrated about the drudgery, I just go watch what the poor City Watch or Olaran Sworn get put through. There is not enough money in the world.

Red Wolf 4th-16th, 3127

Most the group scurried around handling their own affairs. Ingrid went to the Sacred Grove and had an “experience.” When she returned to the HQ, she seemed confused or perplexed. Seems she needed to seek spiritual advice. So, she requested a personal meeting with Captain Hawksclaw.

Aronzo appeared from whichever shadow he was hiding within. I wondered why he was conspicuously absent from our “training.” He declined to explain.

Kenzie spent time recovering. We visited her menagerie of animals. And spent quality time together.

Now Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna spent some time together, but I cannot say who is more frustrated. Whatever issues they have, they better get sorted before one or the other loses it when it counts.

I’m not sure what the Explorer does on his free time other than drink and tinker. If it makes him happy. Though, I fear I may be a bad influence on him.

Sssahliissstah…I’m not entirely sure what she does. I saw her with another Dregordian. That one looked high on floaters. Sssvaren? His name sounded like a lot of hissing followed by gibberish.

I think Blackstone made the most progress of all of us. Negotiations with his bride to be seem to be going well. So well in fact, that rumors spread Alpha Team was going to be tasked with escorting Blackstone to the Black Mountains as an official envoy of Stahlheim. I think the stress of command is getting to Grendel. Soon as he heard, he seemed to age.

Funnier yet, I hear that Blackstone had sat down with Sergeant Grendel specifically to address this very mission when the official orders came down. I would have paid good coin to see that.

Red Wolf 16th. 3127

Funnier yet, I hear that Blackstone had sat down with Sergeant Grendel specifically to address this very mission when the official orders came down. I heard he ventured down to the Wayfarer’s Rest where the ogres live just to tell Grendel in person. I would have paid good coin to see that.

Later in the morning, Ingrid spoke with Captain Hawksclaw about unit history. She said something about a massive presence of pure Life energy within Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove. After which, she returned and said something about a Phoenix Moth. Apparently the Moth was some sacred creature and that is why Alpha Team’s patch bore the sign of the Moth… I learn something new every day.

Word on the streets the Lamplighter’s Association had a big soiree up at their manor house. I noted a white horse-drawn carriage clattering over the cobbled streets late on the 16th pulled by six gray horses. Pulling away from the Wolfhaven Manor. Which, in and of itself, means little. But the scary white masked and heavily robed shadows confirmed that the carriage belonged to Lady Moonsilver. I suppose the Rangers are still concerned with Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and his merry band of murderers. I figured it would be unlikely for the Lady to attend such an event without her esteemed husband.

Red Wolf 17th, 3127

We were all about, doing our usual, when Lady Moonsilver contacted us each and ordered the team to meet the Echer’Naught (local) HQ. I assumed, as I figured the others did, that this was in regards to our upcoming mission into the west. To my surprise, we had another mission. This one in the city. I think this would be my first ACTUAL Echer’Naught mission. As a member of the Echer’Naught Rangers, I was excited for the opportunity.

We all gathered in the Outpost’s Library as the entire unit cannot fit in the Captain’s small office. Apparently, Captain Hawksclaw received word that a local gang, the Storm Guard, were operating out of a warehouse in middle town, or the low town side of that district. Apparantly, the Storm Guard gang were also behind, or at least associated, with the theft of the King’s gold. Despite most of the gold being recovered, most of the operation escaped. And I also heard word that a Trainee unit was ambushed outside the city. I never got the details, but a group of Training NCO’s were killed.

Before we began, however, Captain Hawksclaw promoted Corporal Grendel to Sergeant.

He seemed shocked, but resolved to do his duty. After that, the real work began.

Captain Hawksclaw had made arrangements with Captain Vasser of the City Watch. I’ve worked with them a bit, stalwart men, if surly. The City boys would handle our perimeter. Meanwhile, Alpha Team and Beta Team would breach the warehouse hideout. About that time, Lieutenant Wolfhaven entered. Odd, though, I don’t remember seeing him wear any rank. In fact, other than his White Silver Boar Spear and his cloak, he bears no trappings of rank or status.

He arrived well informed. Outlining intelligence on the warehouse, blueprints. He also informed us that his team would enter the warehouse through a sewer grate in the floor of the building. While we provided the “loud” entry, his team would come up below and behind the gang. They would be caught between us, with the Watch on our flanks to round up any stragglers.

It was a sound plan. Aronzo would deploy an explosive at the front door. Something called a “Mad Bomb?” I’d never heard of such a device, but Hawksclaw seemed giddy, and I do believer the Explorer was a bit aroused at the prospect. Clearly, this device has a history.

I was second through the breach created by the bomb. My job was to distract and engage. Something I am uniquely suited in doing. Then, after me, Grendel and the rest of the team, with Ranna bringing up the rear. The Explorer would be stationed opposite the building on a second story roof. Better angle for his shots.

It was then I suggest bringing along Volstagg. I know Grendel disliked the beast, but he has proven useful, I know Kenzie would love it, and, to be honest, I feel kinda sorry for the bear being couped up like that.Captain Hawksclaw agreed, and that was that.

Stepping oustide, we noted a huge, and unexpected storm, had appeared as if by magic. Rain poured down, reducing visibility and quickly clearing the streets. We all went about gathering our gear and by late afternoon, arrived in a warehouse a few blocks away. Captains Vasser and Hawksclaw presided, their teams prepping for war. Sergeant Major Stormhammer, himself, oversaw equipment and logistics. Clearly this was a big deal. Of Beta Team, I saw nothing, but that does not surprise me. Other than Lieutenant Wolfhaven, I have never even seen their faces. The assignment strikes me as a lonely one, but I suppose there are those who gravitate to anonymity.

RFC Ranna was also assigned another “artifact” from something called the "Vault. Apparently, there exists a repository of weapons and armor collected from fallen members of Alpha Team. If that was not morbid enough, occasionally, acting members were issued some items as a subtle reminder of how likely they were to die and have their remains added to the macabre collection.

By dusk, we were suited and ready. Alpha Team made their way through the empty streets as the sun’s light died. In the twilight of dusk, I covered the Explorer as he hauled himself onto the opposite roof and crawled into position. From my perch, I could see Alpha Team in the shadows moving into place. Around the warehouse, gang members, disguised as homeless, lay about in alleys, and doorways. One man, covered in tattoos smoked outside the main entrance.

All we waited for now as Aronzo to trigger the door.

And trigger it he did. I only caught movement as the "mad bomb bounced once, then detonated in a fireball which nearly blew me off the roof across the street. For a good five seconds I was blind, deaf, and dumb. The resulting shock wave ripped through the streets, blowing down stalls, and rolling the guards right out of their doorways. When the smoke began to clear, the central section of the warehouse, clear to the rafters was simply gone. The cobblestones were cracked and blackened. Of the guard, I saw no sign.

Before the enemy could recover, I stepped up to leap into action, when the Explorer barked that he spotted explosives being tossed in the wide hole of the front wall. Anyone going in that way would trigger the mines. So, I changed tack, dropped to my left and buzzed the team in the alley, alerting them to the danger, before diving into the hazy, smoke filled interior.

As I darted inside, I caught glimpses of the azure blue of storm-fire weapons. At best speed in the confines, I skimmed the dusty floor, before rising to the center of the room, then dropped down again as weak and dazed fire tried in vain to track me.

Almost instantly, the wall somewhere to my left exploded inward, and I could see vague shapes pouring in through the haze. In front of me, arcfire traced overhead, punching through the shooters in the loft. One body landed nearly on top of me. Behind me, to the right, sound and motion exploded and men began to die.

As for me, well, mostly I tried to desperately to stay out of any direct lines of fire. The few who staggered to close were easily picked off, but mainly I controlled the center of the warehouse as Alpha Team breached from my left and Beta from behind and the to the right.

I could see some of the team getting struck by glancing blows of Stormfire, but I did not see a single person go down. Late into the fight, Sssahliissstah appeared, but almost instantly the order was given to withdraw. Across the street, the Explorer took a bad hit, but rolled, re-acquired and dropped the ganger.

And that quickly it was done. We exited the carnage and RFC Ranna sniped a few fleeing members before the all clear was sounded. All told, the fight lasted less than a minute. In that time, we blew nearly half the warehouse, killed 22 and Aronzo captured 2, while the watch captured another 3.

Captains Hawksclaw and Vasser arrived to observe the devastation. It was…bad. Bodies lay torn and flung about, some even hanging limp from the rafters. Volstagg was dragging a half eaten corpse, exciting showing his kill to the team, before depositing it at Kenzie’s feet. The warehouse was in ruins. Were it not for the rain, it might have caught fire. Funny that.

As we stood just taking in the sheer brutality, there was a loud creak, then a crack, and then the final supports gave way and the warehouse imploded into a pile of smoldering rubble, burying the wounded and dead. Immediately, city engineers marked off the rubble and mine field, and began clearing away and pulling out bodies. Our work was done.

After a quick moment to heal minor wounds, rack our gear, wash, and climb into clean clothes, we all exited our staging warehouse into a crisp, cool-ish night, fresh from the easing rain. Sergeant Major Stormhammer invited us all down to the Hammer and Anvil for ales. Kenzie, Ingrid, and I took a quick moment to return Volstagg to the Sacred Grove before joining the team for one round. After which, we retired for our own private party in the dwarven inn across the street.

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

By morning, Alpha Team was back in the barracks and making preparations for another long journey into the west.

Here we go again.

Steelwing

P.S. I DID hear a funny rumor that the main gatekeeper we blasted in the initial explosion wasn’t destroyed in the blast. The Watcher says that his body was hurled two blocks and crashed through the second story roof into a man’s bedroom. That poor sod was mid coitus with his young mistress when the corpse killed the mood. He is suing the Rangers for damages, and there might be civil suits. His wife was none-too please, nor was the mistress’ husband.

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Commendation for Ranger Trainees
Red Wolf 3127

Sgt. Mattis
I have read your report dated the 26th, and I congratulate you, along with your team on a job well done. It seems that RFC Jackson, and Ranger Lazen (along with RFC Brianna, and Aliana) performed above, and beyond what could reasonably be expected of fresh trainees.
That said, I have drafted a letter of commendation that I hope you will pass along to your people. Please find that document attached, and along with my compliments, make sure that your team receives this missive:

From: Capt. R.S. Hawksclaw,
Echer’naught garrison commander
To: Ranger, Regional Command, Echer’naught

Let all who read this know,

From the 21st to the 26th of Red Wolf, Ranger Trainees Thok, Aliana, Brianna, Lazen, and, Jackson, along with Sgt. Mattis took part in a comprehensive, and exceedingly dangerous engagement with the enemy just outside the city walls of Echer’naught. Through sheer guile, and determination our Rangers repulsed what could have been a notable threat.
Sadly we have lost several training NCO’s along with Trainee Thok, yet their sacrifice will not be forgotten. The survivors went above, and beyond to bring us actionable intelligence, and for that they shall be commended. Theirs, along with the names of the fallen shall be recorded for posterity.
Special commendations go to (Now) RFC. Jackson, and Rngr. Lazen for their actions in the aforementioned engagement. So let it be known, and so let it be remembered. They have the thanks of a grateful city, and my own personal congratulations.

With best regards,
Capt. R.S. Hawksclaw
Echer’naught garrison commander

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Echer'Naught Ranger Trainee Class Report
Red Wolf 3127 Class

Red Wolf 26th, 3127
Sergeant Mattis

Sirs,

Contained details my report on my unit’s engagement with the gang known as the “Storm Guard” gang known to operate around Echer’Naught. My unit was called to investigate the death of three experienced Ranger Training NCO’s on a training exercise with a recent class.

I was made aware of the incident when I was called to the morgue on the 24th of Red Wolf. There, I found the bodies of the three Rangers, and six “bandits.” The Investigator’s team reported that the three Rangers had been slain by Storm-fire weapons. The “bandits” were killed by our Trainees. Here is the best timeline I can fathom.

Red Wolf 3rd, 3127

Along with a class of about twenty, Trainee Aliana, Brianna, Lazen, Jackson, and Thok take the oaths and join the Ranger Corps. Thus begins their first week of training.

Red Wolf 9th, 3127

In personal combat training, Trainee Lazen scored high marks.

Red Wolf 15th, 3127

In small unit training, Alaina, along with Brianna, score top marks, defeating Trainees Jackson and Lazen in simulated training.

Red Wolf 20th, 3127

As a final Training exercise, the class was ordered to break out by squad, proceed to a designated Training area where they would drill against a unit of experienced Training NCO’s. At this time, RFC Alaina’s team departed Echer’Naught west.

Red Wolf 21st, 3127

Per orders, the Trainee team under command of RFC Alaina arrived in exercise area to train against experienced Rangers. However, when they found the Ranger camp, they found the three Rangers slain, and were immediately ambushed by bandits.

Thok was slain in the first salvo, but the remaining four, RFC Alaina, and Rangers Brinna, Jackson, and Lazen managed to slay the bandits. Wounded, they returned immediately to our forward command camp. Giving their report, they were sent back to Echer’Naught while Rangers were sent to recover the bodies.

At this time, the following Trainees took the cloak:

Alaina was promoted to Ranger First Class
Brianna was promoted to Ranger
Jackson was promoted to Ranger
Lazen was promoted to Ranger

Red Wolf 22nd, 3127

The survivors of skirmish returned to Echer’Naught and were put on medical leave. Meanwhile, the bodies of the fallen Rangers and bandits were recovered.

Red Wolf 23rd, 3127

The bodies of the slain Rangers and bandits delivered to the city morgue.

Red Wolf 24th, 3217

As mentioned, I was called to the city morgue early on the 24th to examine the bodies of the fallen Ranger NCOs and the bandits. There, the Investigation team provided me a detailed report on the wounds. Based on the strange burn patterns, and the magical reside, it was conclusively determined that the Rangers were killed by Storm-fire weapons.

I was tasked with putting together a team to investigate the ambush site and track down the assassins.

Gathering four experienced Ranger scouts, I delved the archives, pulling recent reports on local encounters with Storm-fire.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

In the morning, I requested that the Trainees involved in the previous encounter be assigned to my team. They met me in the city morgue, were I explained the situation and was able to get their insight into the events. We gathered our kit and departed the city an hour before dusk. That night we camped west of the city.

Red Wolf 26th, 3127

My unit, along with three surviving members of the Trainee squad, RFC Alaina, Rangers Brianna and Jackson, arrived at the site of the slain Ranger NCOs, and of the later skirmish between the Trainees and the bandits. When we arrived, we found the site cleared/ After examination, Brianna discovered unusually booted track leading west, and south. We followed the tracks for hours until late in the afternoon. We set up camp, and were establishing watches when it began to rain.

Both Jackson and RFC Alaina sensed magic in the storm. At that point, Brianna saw movement in the trees. I gave a warning, but our position was hit by Storm-fire coming from deeper in the woods. We spread out, taking cover and engaged the enemy force.

From the flashes, I estimate there were five stormlancers and an enemy arcmancer. I saw not Tempest mages, which I found odd. The skirmish was violent and quick. I lost two good men, and took a woudn to the arm, but Ranger Jackson managed to reach me in time, and lay protective spells. Brianna took down the enemy caster and between my Rangers and Jackson, we cleared the rest.

Just after the battle, Brinna spotted a pair of figures fleeing the site from our left flank. I left the spent sorcerers, RFC Alaina and Jackson behind to examine the fallen enemy, with Brianna covering. I took my remaining two men and pursued. We tracked them through dense forest, but lost them in the storm. Returning, we received a report from Brianna that the men were well armed with Storm-fire weapons, but did not appear to be Tempest. Though, they were covered in tattoos.

For his service, I offered the following promotion:

Ranger Jackson was promoted to Ranger First Class

Storm Guard. Reports from previous encounters, particularly Alpha Team, identify the Storm Guard as a local gang equipped with Storm-fire weapons, who use magic Tempest tattoos to emulate Tempest powers. At present. The Rangers do not identify the Storm Guard as working for, or with, Tempest. However, they are well equipped.

Furthermore, I do not believe their ambush of our Training NCO’s was random. This indicates they are well informed of our maneuvers and well coordinated. While they are currently considered only a minor local threat, I suggest that the Storm Guard are far larger, more organized, and dangerous than previously believed.

Sergeant Mattis

Addendum:

Jackson, 14 yr old human, male sorcerer
Lazen, 15ish yr old brinchie male, warrior
Brianna, 16 yr old alakar female, scout
Alaina, 16 yr old human female, sorcerer

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Campaign Report 113
The Hunted becomes the Hunter

Steelwing

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

Be careful what you wish for. You may just get.

Planting Moons 24th, 3127

Riding high after my amazing night, I joined my fellow Teammates in our new found light duty. For the uninitiated, Light Duty consists for all the wonderful drudgery of regular duty, minus any semblance of excitement. We trained, patrolled, and spent hours tending to our gear, tack, and arms. Though, in the evenings, we were free to gather at the tavern and enjoy a round of drinks. The Rangers appear to value esprit de corps, and camaraderie more than any organization I have ever known.

Of note, a new Ranger arrived. We shared a bit of training in the AM of the 24th. Tal’Car. He seemed a bit confused, but a decent enough sort.

Later in the eve, I escorted my lady Kenzie to the Quartermaster where she drew…a rat and a horse. Another horse. And a rat. Oh, and a smart rat. So, she has, a bear Volstagg, two horses, Diego and the new one, and the rat chuckles. She fascinates me.

Planting Moons 25th-26th, 3127

The explorer has managed to arrange for a private repair table. As I passed in the halls, I saw a gaggle of junior engineers huddled around him like lovesick puppies. And speaking of lovesick. If RFC Ranna services Corporal Grendel half as lovingly as she does her Great Crossbow, I envy the ogre. Though, I suspect that weapon is serviced more often and vigorously than he ever has. It also seems that Blackwing’s negotiations have begun to bear fruit. For a minute, he raved about losing his armor or some such. But in the end, he appealed to a “higher power”, whatever that means, and now he walks around like a king. I imagine the idea of marriage MAY be more appealing than the reality.

Planting Moons 26th, 3127

Though I was not alerted until the following morning, Ingrid’s sleep on the 26th was disturbed by a horrid dream. He home village was overrun with life sucking creatures, who turned friends and families into fiends. One of them, a relative, attacked her. Even by the following morning she seemed lethargic and drained.

Also, I hear that Corporal Sssahliissstah met with some guru Sssvaren? He is apparently a Dregordian councilor contracted by the Rangers. She is not the first Ranger, nor even Alpha Team member who has used his services.

Planting Moons 27th, 3127

At first light, Ingrid woke from her nightmare. Kenzie took her to see the healer. Apparently, though she was not attacked, her life essence seemed to have been drained almost as if by a Wraith.The barracks are investigated, but no evidence of Darkness is found. I secretly fear the Winghunter adept has opened a new front in his assault. I say as much to Captain Hawksclaw. He seems…receptive.

Ingrid was summoned later in the morning by Captain Hawksclaw. I was concerned for her. I could barely concentrate sharpening the umpteenth sword until she returned. He wished to speak to her of “Respect for Life” and druidism. Ah, it was a religious service. She seemed pleased as the special treatment, also contemplative.

That night, in the male barracks, two beds over from me, the Explorer wakes screaming. I can smell the coppery scent of blood before I even light a lantern. In the weak light of a hooded lamp, his ruddy body is covered in thousands of bite and claw marks. It appears as if he was mauled.

We sound the alarm, and in moments the entire regional headquarters is awake. All Rangers empty into the courtyard, armed and geared for war as the Explorer is carried to the healers. In the chill pre-dawn air, we wait for orders as armed priests, paladins, druids, and adepts scour the barracks from top to bottom. They even bring in some kind of arcfire magic detection device.

Colonel Anderson showed up quickly. Captain Hawksclaw was not far behind. Sergeant Minor Longtail appeared, spoke with Colonel Anderson and vanished.

Within the hour we were all ordered to head to the Wolfhaven Manor, just up the street. There, Alpha Team was sequestered for our protection. We had been there, maybe a half an hour before Captain Hawksclaw appeared. Maybe, 11:30PM. We are clearly under attack. The team reviews their impressive list of enemies from the past:
Someone called Velkalar
A sniper?
An adept?
Many more…

And we could not forget Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and his merry band of hunters.

Though the names hardly sounded too inspiring, I was impressed that my team had acquired over the years an impressive list of foes. A wise man once said, “You can judge much of a warrior by the quality of his foes.” That man died, however.

I, once again, campaigned for the Rangers to bring the Winghunters to battle. The longer we waited, the more initiative we ceded to the enemy. They would wear us down until their advantage was overwhelming. Again, Captain Hawksclaw heard me out, though I had no idea if it would prompt any action.

We were ordered to stand down, and remain within the confines. Ingrid and Kenzie headed upstairs. Poor Ingrid still looked pale. The rest of us spent the night pacing. I scoured every inch of the manor house looking for weaknesses in the defenses. I was impressed. Also, Sergeant Gendarre, the leader of the House Guard here, a Camonere of all things, at least plied us with wine.

The great upside, I was finally able to join Kenzie and Ingrid that evening. The barracks are a torture. Feeling their warm bodies snuggled under my wings…Celestial Halls.

At some time around the 13th hour, a quartet of masked adepts showed up. They greeted Captain Hawksclaw, before posting up around the Manor. As I have no adept abilities, I wonder how effective they would be against the Kal adepts.

Planting Moons 28th, 3127

Early in the morning, the Explorer arrived under his own power, though looking distinctly like a mummy. Which I have seen. I met him at the door, and I feel we shared a moment. Apparently in his dream, he was home in Norcan Darr and was overrun by Ratzin. That would explain the bites. He headed for breakfast, while I patrolled…and spent time with my beautiful girls.

The Wolfhaven Manor is efficient, and very Olaran. The staff is attentive, if a bit…stiff for my tastes. But, everyone seems generally happy to be working there. That is rare. The staff isn’t mistreated, and the Great Lady of the House, Baroness Wolfhaven is strict, a bit distant, but fair. You can tell much about a Lord by how the least of his vassals is treated. In Wolfhaven’s case, all are treated well.

Oh, and the beds are very firm. Good support, with just the right bounce. And big enough for three.

Planting Moons 29th, 3127

In the morning, word arrived that we had Training scheduled for the 31st. To be honest, I was confused and frustrated. After the assaults on two of our teammates. After they attacked INGRID. After sticking us in protective custody, we were going back to business as usual??? Trust our team. Isn’t that what Captain Hawkslcaw said? I just hoped he knew what the hell he was doing.

Still, two more days with my girls. I wasn’t about to complain. Those beds, though. I might have to see about acquiring one for myself. Then again, I’d need a house…hmmm… Maybe we should talk about putting down roots?

Planting Moons 31st, 3127

We met in Colonel Anderson’s office in the AM. Early. There, we were greeted by the good Colonel, Captain Hawksclaw, the scary brinchie Sergeant Minor Longtail, and the human, Malcom. I’m not sure what he is, exactly, but everyone does what he says…?

Training was straightforward. We would be randomly split into two teams. Each on led by a Corporal. The first scenario was to be a hostage rescue. The second a capture the flag. Sergeant Minor Longtail set up the first, Captain Hawksclaw oversaw the rest. From the expressions of a few, I gathered involving Longtail was…dangerous. I know she works for Colonel Wolfhaven’s staff, but I’m NOT entirely sure what function she performs. Every instinct warns me to not cross her, though.

After the general briefing, the Corporals were separated. We were given separate instructions. Unless directly ordered by the team commander, or directly attacked we were not to act. Apparently they were given their own special instructions.

Reconvened, I was added to Sssahliissstah’s team along with Ranna and Kenzie. The rest of the team, Ingrid, Blackstone, and the Explorer were assigned to Corporal Grendel’s team.

We were up first. The mission, a group of thugs had invaded the Wolfhaven Refuge for Children. Interesting, the Orphanage belonged to, none other than, Sergeant Minor Longtail. Colonel Anderson provided us with maps of the building, but no other information about the hostages, or hostage takers. Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered us down to the orphanage. It was early morning, but traffic around the building was high. The roads were congested.

When we reached the orphanage, the outer gates were open, so we entered and approached the kitchen door, on the east side of the building. Kenzie sent her rat “chuckles” to go look for an alternate route. Meanwhile, Kenzie tried the lock. She almost oppened it, but apparantly the orphanage has amazing security. Ive seen less ornate locks on Lending Houses.

So, Plan B. Ranna bashed the door into splinters. There was an explosion, but no one got hurt. Ranna led us, crashing through the kitchen. Sssahliissstah, Kenzie and I followed, but halfway through, a smoke bomb went off, blinding us all. Ranna continued to crash her way through, clearing a path. We delicately crunched, slid, and bumped our way through the darkness.

Up ahead, something happened. Later, I found out that Ranna had been paralyzed coming into the main room. Which, sucked, but not as bad as both Kenzie and I getting knocked out. I made it…about six feet into the room before going down. Sssahliissstah was given the choice to continue, but lose her team. She elected to end the excerise.

I could tell she took it hard. Which, I felt for her. It was a cocked up mission. However, the REAL issue was why we were doing stupid training exercises while the Winghunters were literally stalking our dreams?!

Later that eve, we got to watch Corporal Grendel’s team try to assault the Dovecote Finishing School for Girls. Still in construction. Apparently this was a venture of Longtail’s daughter? Alpha Team certainly gets around. They tried a head on attack with the Explorer providing cover. Grendel was paralized halfway to the site, and riddled with arrows. The Explorer made it pretty close before going down. Blackstone carried Ingrid underground, popping up like a groundhog. Eventually, he reached the door, which exploded, taking Ingrid out. He made it into the building, but was overwhelmed. Though, he scored a single kill. The only kill of either team.

Oh, and while Blackstone made his solo attack, someone shrank Grendel and stuffed him into a sack. THAT was pretty funny.

We all returned to the Wolfhaven Manor, and got some sleep. No one attacked us during the exercise, or while at the manner, though Sssahliissstah seemed to suffer from the masked adepts brought in to protect us.

Planting Moons 32nd, 3127

We woke and attended the Colonel in his office. He congratulated the team, explaining that the purpose of the training was less about success, and more to teach us communication and following orders. Corporal Grendel looked defeated, and Corporal Sssahliissstah looked angry. The rest of the team was…nonplussed. I for one agreed with the sentiment. During the attack in Granite Port, we fell apart as a team. But, these ridiculous exercises were clearly not helping. The Corporals took them as an affront, and the team was demoralized.

We were weakened and low from failure. Perfect moment for the Winghunters to strike.

Due, I suppose, in large part to our abject failure, the second, capture the flag, training was waved. Instead, we were sent on a “routine” patrol of the north, west quadrant of the city. That’s right. After getting killed in basic training, and with a hunter killer team ready to cut us down…now we were being trained how to walk. Splendid!

We had the rest of the day to really think about our situation. I spent what time I could with Kenzie and Ingrid, keeping watch for the inevitable attack. That night I hardly slept and not for any good reason.

Planting Moons 33rd, 3127

We all headed down to the local HQ. Captain Hawkslcaw provided maps, and information on the area. Again, our orders, head north from the North Barony Gate, head out a few miles, then loop around east and south, sweeping the area. Basic trainee stuff.

The Corporals, hoping to make up for their failures overthought everything. Which, I can hardly blame them. I was so pissed, I was hardly focused on my own task. Foolish mistakes, all.

We pulled gear and prepped. Then, with nothing better to do, we headed North. I flew overwatch, with Kenzie as point. We reached the two mile mark north of the city, and turned east. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, we made our slow progress, being overly cautious. Right at dusk, a friendly farmer offered us his barn and some free ale. The Team was so spooked, they turned him down. We roughed it on the edge of his property, before resuming in the morning.

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

Everything seemed fine. Kenzie was walking beneath me, the team ranged out behind. Then, I saw Kenzie stop, and that a figure was approaching. A figure on fire. I pulled my bow and fired a warning shot.

That’s when the world turned to fire, heat, and ash. Massive explosion, like meteor blasts ripped through the team. I drew another arrow, took a bead on the Flamedance, and she blasted me out of the sky without so much as a sideways glance.

For the…what…third time since joining this team, I felt my wings burn, as I crashed through the canopy into the ground. That’s the last thing I remember until I was revived by a pair of Ranger healers.

As I struggled up to get back to Kenzie, she and Ingrid appeared, running toward me. They were covered and soot, clearly had been injured, but they were alive. I pulled them into my arms and hugged them like the world was ending. Behind them, the rest of the team, equally mangled trotted up.

Long story short. Our fearless leading, Captain Hawksclaw HAD taken my advice to heart and elected to use US as bait to draw out the Winghunters. He colluded with the elves of Landra’ Feya and a Ranger Lieutenant Celebor to stage elven wardens along the woods near our route. He also gathered a force of Wolfhaven Free Rider company, under command of young Alfred Wolfhaven, to teleport in from the flanks at full gallop. Caught between the anvil of the elven archers and the hammer of the cavalry…the Kal were crushed between.

It was a bold plan, flawlessly executed. In fact, someone referred to it as “pulling a Wolfhaven.” I could not fault him. But, he endangered Ingrid and Kenzie. Kenzie could have DIED before his trap sprang.

For that, I cannot forgive. They are my life. Any who would gamble their lives so flippantly…

But they are safe. That nigh, I resolved to show them HOW much they meant to me. Repeatedly.

Steelwing

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