Planting Moons 23rd, 3127
There are moments, few, perhaps, but in those fleeting moments of perfection, we find divinity here in the strife and mud. Flying, can be like that…soaring far above the world, the wind caressing your skin. Victory after a hard fought battle. But, nothing in this life compares to love. When hearts beat in perfect sync, when all the barriers that separate us and we become one existential being of pure love, joy, passion… Love…is perfect.
Golden Eagle 33rd, 3127
Early in the morn on the 33rd, the Sea Ranger and two escort ships shipped anchors and slipped away from the port in Prastul, heading back to Granite Port. Our plan was to reach Granite Port within the week and begin a more thorough search, with Newt reporting any sighting along the coast. That was the plan.
A day out of Prastul we hit a fog bank like nothing I have seen. The sailors, though… I’ve found, during what little time I spent near a coastline, that sailors tend toward superstition. Ghost ships, sea people, and more. But nothing strikes more fear, nor has more legends, than the Veil…that milky white mist at the ends of the map.
I have not seen it myself. Though, I have seen the Everwall. I will never forget the fear and anxiety on the faces of the sailors as we slipped into that fog bank. Hardened men who feared neither storm to steel. Yet, these men and women stared into the mist like they could see every horrible death imaginable in its impenetrable white.
Though I never had the courage to ask, I imagine this is what the Veil looks like…from within. Not that I’m stupid enough to actually find out! Still, we drifted through that haze for most of the Golden Eagle 33rd and into Planting Moons 1st.
Planting Moons 1st, 3127
I know that we we drifted no more than 20 hours or so, but it felt as if time stretch out thin. The fog was so thick, you could not see from side of the ship to the other. Every so often, I would reach down to feel the secure substance of the deck or my mind would begin to play tricks, convincing me I was flying through a cloud…even though my wings were still.
And the sound…everything was muffled and hollow. Voices seemed to die on the air. Even the constant creak and groan of the ship faded to a dull ache. It was eerie.
But that was not the most bizarre occurrence in the mist.
At some point, by my guess mid-morn on the 1st, I was on the bow of the ship, helping guide as we split the Jewels. Over the sound of my own breathing, I heard a muffled sound somewhere off the Starboard bow. It was faint, but almost like coughing. I called out, signalling to the pilot.
In the mist it was almost impossible to determine any progress or direction, but slowly, ever so slowly, a shape, low in the water, resolved into view. At first, I could only make out an imperceptible smudge of slightly darker grey in the whiteout of the fog. But, after a moment, the smudge took shape, a low, oblong vessel in the water. Despite the urgency of our mission, we could not help but offer aid. Still, I was anxious. I have known the Winghunters to use wounded Aevakar to lure my kindred to their deaths.
So, as we approached, I kept a close watch around the boat, seeking the telltale flash of Thaumaturgy in the white.
As it neared, I could see the vessel was a small boat, more a life-raft than as ship. And it was heavily laden, lying low in the eerily still waters. And then, I heard it, a faint sound, more a gasp…or a yawn…
I know her voice like I know my own heartbeat. Shouting to the ship to heave to, I leaped off the bow, fear giving me power. I dropped low to the waves, picked up speed, pulling up right as I reached the smaller boat. It as full of bodies!
Oh Zavonis NO!
I landed as lightly as I could, but the small craft bobbed dangerously. I peered through the murk, trying to make out individual forms in the mass of soggy, ragged arms and legs. Here an ogre head…Ranna! There…a bushy beard. Blackstone!
It was the entire team…plus one more. A strangely dressed, black haired warrior slumped in the bow, seemingly dead. And then I saw them. Kenzie unconscious, head lying in Ingrid’s lap. the fire of her ginger hair a splash of color in the almost uniform white. Ingrid’s eyes fluttered open as the boat jostled. She seemed dazed for a moment, then her eyes locked with mine. They widened suddenly, those beautiful hazel eyes…
Her lips were parched, her skin raw from exposure. He hair was crusted with dried sea-salt… She had never looked more beautiful and ALIVE in that moment. Then others stirred. A voice, I’m not sure who called my name.
Alpha Team was ALIVE!
My girls were alive!
Out of the gloom, the Sea Ranger’s bow loomed and a rope was tossed over. I caught it and secured the boat. Then, a boarding ladder was rolled over the side and I began helping those that could move up onto the deck. Toward the rear of the life-boat, a stretcher was lowered, stabilized by four ropes. I loaded Kenzie onto the cot and watched anxiously until she was safely aboard. Then, I went back for the others. The new guy next.
Everyone seemed exhausted from their ordeal, and some were wounded, from which fight I cannot say. But with a bit of grog and bread in their bellies, they soon showed signs of life. Captain Roberts was kind enough to offer his cabin for those hardest hurt by their time at sea. I personally escorted Kenzie to a bed, Ingrid close by our side. There I stayed for much of the trip to Anasia.
I know through private conversations with Ingrid, and overhearing discussions with the rest of the team and Captain Roberts something of the Alpha Team’s ordeal. After the Malakaran smuggler ship was sunk by the Winghunters, most of the team was washed away. They soon found themselves floating through a heavy mist, not unlike the one in which they were found. After drifting for a while on the open sea, they found themselves washing up on a strange shore.
It was grayish, and rockier than most in Shaintar. The Explorer was unconscious, though I believe the others survived more, or less, intact. The sky was gray, but all admitted to feeling something off about the place. While the others milled on the beach, assessing their situation, Blackstone climbed up the beach to the beachhead. When he reached the top, he described a wide, scrubby plain. In the distance, he saw mountains, and a lone keep…aflame.
One rider, pushing his horse hard, made for the coast, right where Alpha Team had washed up. Blackstone shouted, and the rider veered. That rider, the same man we pulled unconscious from the bow of their boat, is named Marcus Regillus…
And yes, he is related, cousin I believe, to Sir Anaxelum Regillus, Wolfhaven’s right hand man.
When Marcus skidded his horse to a stop, he pulled a scrap of silk from his tunic and held it up for Blackstone to see. It was a crudely rendered copy of the Wolfhaven crest. Clearly, he was seeking Colonel Wolfhaven. When Blackstone nodded in affirmative the man rode down to meet the rest of the Rangers, clearly agitated. From his vantage above the beach, Blackstone spied a horde of angry warriors pouring over the plains toward the coast.
Marcus Regillus motioned for the Rangers to follow, before spurring his horse down the beach. They followed and soon found their way to the life-boat. Marcus Regillus then stripped the saddle and bridle from the horse, before slapping its rump and setting it free. Then, he loaded what little he had on the boat and motioned for the Rangers to hurry. With the enemy horde bearing down on them, the Rangers climbed into the boat, Grendel pushing it out to sea, before climbing inside. On shore, the horde of angry natives fired bows and shouted, but did not attempt to swim out.
After that, none of the Rangers quite knew where they were. Marcus Regillus claimed to be Caladonian from Caldadon or Caladonia. Though he at first could not speak Galean, he quickly, perhaps magically, mastered our tongue. When asked about his world, he said Austeria…wherever that is. From the debates I have overhead, the land is either another land in the Veil around Shaintar, or somewhere else entirely. Another magical plane?
Whatever the case, soon the coast drifted from view and the Rangers found themselves caught in a seemingly endless cloud of thick, white, soupy mist…or fog. Again, not unlike that which they were in when we found them. All attempts at navigation proved fruitless. None of the Explorer’s advanced tradecraft provided a location, though he managed to keep them alive with water from a condensation rigs constructed of their shirts…
More worrisome. When Ingrid attempted to summon a Fairy from the Eternal Forest of Landra, she discovered that she was cut off from Life! It was at this point that the Explorer theorized that they were IN the Veil. As mentioned, I have heard in recent days, enough superstition about the Veil to fill a lifetime. The prevailing wisdom is that anyone who enters the Veil, disappears forever, destroyed by the roiling energies trapped in the mist. Though some claim that boats are occasionally simply transported to far flung parts of the world, like time and space have no meaning. A few claim that ships have entered the mist, only to return centuries later full of skeletons, but with fresh food still sitting on the table…
Whatever the case, if they HAVE traversed the Veil, they would be on of the first to live through the experience.
Ingrid speaks of being marooned in the boat, trapped in an endless milky white void, denied day or night. There was no wind, and the water was still as glass. An endless, white torment of slowly losing your mind as you starved to death, or died of dehydration. An inescapable living nightmare…
Soon after rescuing the Alpha Team, the mist burned off and we made good headway. As soon as he awoke, Marcus Regillus demanded to be allowed to contact Wolfhaven. Fortunately, Captain Roberts staffed a Farspeaker who agreed to make contact. I do not know what was said, but our orders were to deliver the team, and Marcus Regillus to Anasia safely. There, we were to wait for an escort from Echer’Naught to secure our travel home.
For the next five days, I split my time between watching the ship’s backtrail and curling in the bunk with Ingrid and Kenzie. By Planting Moons 2nd, I could see the red sailed Pinnace of Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri on the horizon, dogging our every tack. They are persistent, I will give them that.
Planting Moons 6th, 3127
Early in the morning on the 6th, we arrived off the coast of Anasia. Our escorts peeled off to screen us from the sea. Even as we dropped out anchor, a flotilla of small boats paddled toward us from the shore. The lead boat docked alongside and an elven Ranger Lieutenant climbed aboard. He informed Captain Roberts that the Rangers had established a Ranger station in Anasia for Alpha Team to rest and recover until their escorts arrived from Echer’Naught.
We were loaded onto boats, and paddled ashore. Just east of the port town, the local elven Rangers had set a rather large medical encampment. Rangers requiring medical attention were sent to a spacious infirmary tent. The rest of us were provided arms and armor, but no Ranger cloaks or gear. Then, we rested.
Kenzie recovered quickly and I spent most of my time with her and Ingrid. The other members of Alpha team groused and complained about the equipment. But, I think everyone was happy to be on solid ground. When the dregordian of the group is sick of the sea, you know you had a bad trip.
Of the Kal, we saw not sign, but I knew they were out there, waiting. Corporal Sssahliissstah remained with Marcus Regillus. The camp was secured by the elves.
Planting Moons 10th, 3127
Early on the 10th, Sergeant Alfred Wolfhaven arrived with the rest of Beta Teams to escort Alpha Team and Marcus Regillus back to Echer’Naught. I’d not met Alfred before, but I’d heard rumors. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but he was shorter than I imagined. Still, he had the elven grace about his features and an easy manner. His men said little, going about their tasks with quiet efficiency.
Most importantly, Sergeant Wolfhaven brought a large wagon for the ogres, and a few casks of dwarven ale. We all drank and ate well that night.
Planting Moons 11th, 3127
In the wee hours of the morning, we embarked on our homeward trip back to Echer’Naught. Sergeant Wolfhaven rode with us, while two of his men rode off as flankers. The fourth, and last, dismounted and roade int eh wagon with Marcus Regillus. Though Sergeant Wolfhaven was pleasant enough, conversing amiably, his men said next to nothing.
First, we passed Ey’Driegh. The isolated Elven city has grown to serve as the Regional Ranger HQ for the Elven lands. There we stayed in their treetop outpost. I quite enjoyed myself, showing Ingrid and Kenzie the beauty of the elven wood’s canopy.
After that, we passed through Greenvale and the Rangers therein. They welcomed us as long, lost brothers. Apparently, the Rangers of Echer’Naught, and Alpha in particular, have a strong relationship with Greenvale which dates back years. The Rangers who operate from an L-shaped building, at the base of a small hill, just north and west of the city. This headquarters is equipped with its own training grounds, stables, forge, armory, and barracks."
Once through Greenvale we turned north to Farwatch. Again, the Farwatch Rangers share a close, special relationship with Colonel Wolfhaven. As I understand, their commander Thaleon is the Colonel’s personal Priest. We stayed in the renovated the Ermengild Manor. It sits on a key vantage point overlooking the heart of Farwatch. We ate well, and were toasted as brothers.
Planting Moons 21st, 3127
And then, it was the last leg toward Echer’Naught. We reached the city late in the afternoon. As soon as we spied the walls in the far distance, Sergeant Wolfhaven handed Ingrid papers and informed her that were would be entering the city as a merchant caravan. It was then that I noted nothing in our equipment identified us as Rangers. In fact, by any reasonable observer, we were just that…merchants headed into the city to purchase goods. He and his men, save the one who rode in the wagon, rode off.
We waited almost two hours in the long line of wagons seeking to enter the city. Eventually, we were inspected by the Rangers and watch at the gate before being allowed entry without issue. Reaching the Farwatch Gate Market, we were met by Sergeant Wolfhaven and his men, all wearing non-descript clothing. Apparently, they had rode around to other entrances, entered the city, changed and had time to meet us at the market all while we waiting in line for entry. Still, not a bad bit of tradecraft.
We followed the wagons into High Towne through the southern gate and right up to the Regional Headquarters. There, Marcus was immediately escorted to meet Colonel Anderson. We were placed on convalescence and given leave.
Later that evening, we all meet at the Wayfarer’s Rest for drinks. Ivan “The Lighthouse” Sokolav provides a private back room for our party. I admit, I get a bit tipsy, though, I get to show the Explorer a “Tour of the World.” About when we reach Kal, he opens up. He’s actually a funny guy when he’s not being a prick.
At sometime after dark, the party breaks up. I excuse myself to escort Ingride and Kenzie back to their barracks…though we never arrive…
It seems they had done some soul-searching. Funny how almost dying changes priorities. I will say only this, I have never felt closer to my fellow Rangers.
Planting Moons 22nd, 3127
We woke before dawn, procured bribes and headed to recover the unit’s lost gear at the Quartermaster Station. Sergeant Major Stormhammer was NOT pleased to see us. We were “escorted” to a small, private storage room where we spent four hours signing out for our personal gear. Afterwards, the unit breaks up for a bit, I remain with Kenzie and Ingrid.
Around 7:30PM we were all "summoned’ by Lady Moonsilver to meet at the back room of the Barracks Tavern at 8PM, “Sergeant Whitestone’s Old Office”. When we arrive, we find Captain Hawksclaw waiting. Drinks and food provided, he sat us down to chat. The main purpose for the informal meeting place was to discuss our current situation. It seemed that the Winghunters had followed us and were reported to be just south of the city. I imagine they have long since entered, but without proof, I said nothing.
For the time being, until something can be ascertained, we are being kept within the city. For Ingrid and Kenzie’s sake, I approve, though I know has little good it will do ultimately.
I respect the Rangers, and this command, for what they do. But they are ill equipped for this kind of war. Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri is coming and walls or guards won’t stop him. He’ll hit us where we do not expect. Wear us down till we are too weak, and then strike.
To Captain Hawksclaw, I offered myself as bait to draw them out. He seemed amenable to the idea. I just hope the Rangers to do spend to much time deliberating. Every hour we grant them cedes the advantage more and more. If I must sacrifice myself so that they may live, so be it.
After the official brief, the Captain spoke of the old team, reminiscing about days gone by. It is hard imagining the man before me as a young, brash Ranger Trainee… Just five years changed him into the hard bitten warrior Captain so feared and idolized by the Rangers of the city? What horrors must he have seen. This is a hard life. We should find comfort and solace where we may.
With Last Call, we all headed out, us to our barracks, the Captain home to his family. Still, the evening left me with a deep sense of melancholy. Just a feeling that these happy days in the sun may soon fall into shadow and darkness. I clutched Ingrid and Kenzie a bit tighter as we walked back to the barracks.
Planting Moons 23rd, 3127
In the AM, we were invited to the Local HQ. There, we were posted on light duty for the duration. I believe we have mandatory training scheduled. Of our mission, we were sworn to the most absolute secrecy. Which, is easy enough for me, I still have no idea what happened.
With Spring turning to Summer, Alpha Team is home, but stalked by a dangerous enemy. While we tilt at windmills, death stalks our every movement. Still, nothing seems to drag me down. My newfound intimacy is a strong wind which lifts me above such worries and wraps me in warmth and comfort.
Planting Moons 24th, 3127
Tal’Car joined the Rangers