Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
As relayed from Echer’Naught Alpha team under command of Sergeant Gunther Volstagg (via RFC Daynore)
Compiled by Ranger Malcolm, Scribe
Second Day of Red Wolf, Year 3126 Under the Light
Having received numerous reports from various sources, Colonel Wolfhaven, Ranger Serys, Corporal Amaroth, and a curious unwashed flagon from a Sir Hevain, I have requested of Ranger Malcolm to consolidate and organize the various reports into a more clear and concise accounting of the events of the funeral for Squire Averan Harken.
-Farspeaker, Eris Moonsilver
Planting Moons, 27th, 3126
Per the last report, dated the 27th, the Alpha team, departing a camp just north of the city joined Squire Averan Harken’s funeral procession under command of honorable Royal Sheriff of Echer’Naught, Sir Halten. The funeral party departed at 10 AM from the Dwarven Gate heading east on the Harken Road. From there, it turned north, heading in the direction of Tarnn before turning off West, just less than a day’s ride north of Harken.
Olaran Honor Guard:
- “Fallen Mount” Squire Lt. Halten
- Royal Sheriff (Warden) Sir Eric Halten
- Sgts Hareson and Markar (Sworn of Halten)
- Obermark (Scribe)
- Sgt Sir Gunther Volstagg
- Corporal Amaroth
- RFC Daynore
- RFC Moldova
- RFC Lady Zathlan
- Ranger Serys
- Ranger Grendel
- Ranger Brother Sebastian
Planting Moons, 30th 3126
The trip took three days by horseback, and wagon. During this time, Sir Halten’s man, Obermark, the Sheriff’s personal scribe, provided the Ranger Detail an overview of Olaran customs and procedures during the funeral. In truth, as I understand, his counsel was speak only when spoken too, do not enter into any agreements, do not allow yourself to be separated, and avoid becoming involved in the political games of the houses.
I do believe that the team failed spectacularly on each point, but that is to be revealed.
The funeral procession arrived at Lord Erlgen’s keep at mid morn on the 30th of Planting moons. A vassal of House Olar, Lord Elgen’s holdings reside on the border between Olar and Harken lands, over a squat, hill-keep and its surrounding farmlands and village. In proper Olaran fashion, the entire community mourned the loss of the young lordling, all banners dipped, crimson ribbons tied along the streets.
Sir Halten was greeted by the Lord of the Manor, Lord Erlgen, of Olar, his sister, Dame Gaulouen, Dame Gaulouen’s escort, Lord Boer, of Reinhart, Lady Halten (sir Halten’s wife), and Squire Harken’s three sisters in mourning.
Here, a brief summary of the assembled nobility.
- Lord Erlgen of House Olar. Grandfather to Squire Averan Harken, Lord Erlgen served his king well and was rewarded. Married to a daughter of House Eckhart, the Lord and Lady had several children, most died young. Squire Averan Harken’s mother, sister to Lady Harken died in childbirth giving birth to the young squire. His father never returned from campaign. Lord Erlgen took in the boy, and his sisters eventually securing his position as squire to Sir Halten.
- Lady Halten, of Harken. Formerly of House Erlgen, Lord and Lady Halten have several children. She is aunt to Squire Averan Halten and daughter to Lord Erlgen.
- Sir Halten. Royal Sheriff (Warden) of Echer’Naught. Vassal of House Harken, Sir Halten wed Lady Halten and took the fatherless Squire Averan Halten into his household as a squire, giving him a name.
- Sir Bolen, Order of the Golden Stagg, Sir Bolen grew up with Squire Averan Halten, serving as training partners as youth, being a scion of House Eckhart, the house of Squire Averan Halten’s Grandmother.
- Lady Bolen, of Olar. Wife to Sir Bolen and under protection of the Order of the Bear. More to be revealed.
- Dame Gaulouen. Sister to Lord Erlgen and widow of Lord Gaulouen, aunt to Lady Harken and great aunt to Squire Averan Halten.
- Lord Boer, of House Reinhart. A family friend of the House Erlgen, and escort for Dame Gaulouen.
- Sir Mathras. Sergeant at Arms of Erlgen Keep and Captain of the Erlgen House Guard.
- Sir Barrough. Captain of the Bolen House Guard, and member of the Order of the Bear.
- Vicar Olman. House Erlgen clergy.
- Sir G. Hevain, of Harken. Sir Hevain served with Sir Halten during their early days of campaign. He has served in most military action by Olara during the past 4 decades. In between wars, Sir Hevain has served in numerous mercenary companies. All further requests for information about his House, or Order are met with tactful, but absolute refusal. No record of the initial G. Curious…
Formalities done, Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan were invited to enter the keep, in honor of their title. The remainder of the Rangers, under command of Corporal Amaroth were instructed to billet at the local inn, a two story converted and expanded merchant’s dwelling. Due to his size, and the general disdain for goblinesh, Grendel was encamped in the stables. RFC Moldova accepted responsibility for his upkeep.
Unfortunately for Alpha Team, the inn was also the billet for untitled knights and sworn of the attending nobility, over-filling the establishment with raucous and quarrelsome Olarans. Sir Volstagg and Lady Zathlan were given adjoining rooms within the keep, though only Sir Volstagg’s room was properly made. It would appear the assumption was that they would share a bed.
While the rest of the team secured their room and settled into routine, Ranger Serys joined with a table of Olaran knights, matching drink for drank and earning their respect though the durability of his fortitude.
Meanwhile, Squire Averan Halten’s effects were taken to the chapel along with his three sisters and the Vicar who would pray overnight. The rest of the keep, by nightfall, gathered in the great hall to participate in the Squire’s Last Call. Begun by Lord Erlgen, the Last Call raged all night, both within the keep and the town (read inn). Alpha Team slept little, being awakened at nearly 4 in the morning when four drunken Olarans delivered an unconscious and badly bleeding Serys to their room. Serys having not recovered from wounds received during his battle with Korash.
Planting Moons 31st, 3126
Around a AM, the stillness of the keep was shattered by a blood curdling scream. Donning but his small clothes, Sir Volstagg rushed out the door in search of the trouble as alarms bells rang. He was joined by an entirely nude Sir Hevain. Both men followed the rushing guards through the main hall to the base of the rear tower. Therin, they discovered a growing throng of people standing outside Lord Erlgen’s bedchambers, at the head, Sir Halten. Pushing to the front, Sir Volstagg entered the room to find Lord Erlgen lying dead in his bed, a weeping girl in a shift at the side of the bed.
It appeared that the aging Lord had “overtaxed” himself with the girl and his heart had given out. Considering the scandalous nature of his death, and the sudden death on what was to the morning of internment for Squire Averan Halten, the chambers were cleared, Sir Halten placing Sir Volstagg and Hevain guard to the hallway. Long enough for Sir Halten to make the necessary arrangements.
While standing guard, reports indicate that Sir Volstagg was “accosted” by Lady Halten who demanded, at length, that the girl be arrested and convicted of murder. She seemed uninterested in a trial, only that the girl pay for the murder, if only by her youthful stamina and exuberance. Sir Volstagg declined to comment, weathering the tired for, if rumors are to be believed, four hours.
Meanwhile, Sir Volstagg, at the behest of Vicar Olman, sent a runner to fetch brother Paladin Sebastian from the inn to assist in moving and praying over the newly deceased Lord Erlgen. At, or about, 7 AM, the runner reached the inn and Corporal Amaroth dispatched Sebastian to assist in caring for Lord Erlgen’s body. Within the hour, the Vicar, Sebastian, and members of the Erlgen House Guard, under command of Sir Mathras, moved Lord Erlgen’s body from his bedchambers to the chapel. Here, they were asked to be sure not to disturb the four grieving sisters who had now lost their brother and grandfather. Brother Sebestian remained within the chapel a few hours before returning to the keep. There he joined Sir Hevain, and at times, Sir Volstagg.
With the sudden loss of the House patriarch, Sir Halten (heir to the estate), Lady Halten, Dame Gaulouen, Vicar Olman, Sir Mathras, and Lord Boer all closeted themselves away in the keep’s inner chambers to discuss the future of the House and Lord Erlgen’s funeral arrangements.
Sensing that the young girl’s life might be endangered if Lady Halten was able to convince the assemblage that she had killed the Lord, Sir Volstagg dispatched a messenger to Corporal Amaroth in town with orders to come to the keep and take custody of a witness. Meanwhile, Sir Volstagg dispatched Lady Zathlan to fetch the girl and secret her outside the keep. He then returned to his duties, and to await an audience with Sir Halten
Upon receiving orders, Corporal Amaroth assembled the Rangers and marched to the gate. On the village side of the drawbridge, Corporal Amaroth left RFC Daynore, and Rangers Serys and Grendel. Corporal Amaroth and RFC Moldova proceeded directly to the keep demanding entry. The guards, having orders to secure the keep, refused. Sir Volstagg joined them and engaged the guards in a heated debate.
Meanwhile, Lady Zathlan round a page willing to direct her to the girl, but the guards would not allow outsiders into the more private areas of the keep. Here, again, Sir Hevain arrived and “assisted” Lady Zathlan by implying, I am to believe, they were involved in an elicit sexual affair. The guard, not wishing to get involved, permitted them to pass unmolested.
She found the girl in quarters surrounded by other maids. The poor child was petrified and feared for her life. Zathlan took the girl to her own quarters, passing the same guard who now believed that Sir Hevain was assembling a harem. Within chambers, Lady Zathlan disguised the girl. Sir Volstagg arrived and ordered Lady Zathlan to secret the girl out of the keep and to Corporal Amaroth. Sir Volstagg then departed to distract the guards at the gate.
Lady Zathlan, with aide from the same page, snuck the girl out a servants entrance to the main courtyard with the aid of the Paladin Sebastian. All the while, Sir Volstagg and Corporal Amaroth argued with the guards at the keep’s main doors. Once the girl was clear, Corporal Amaroth returned to meet them at the inn, while Sir Volstagg re-entered the keep.
Terrified, the girl and brother Sebastian arrived at the inn followed in short order by Corporal Amaroth and RFC Moldova. Due to here excitable nature, RFC Moldova attempted to calm the girl with disastrous results. As I understand, the girl now breaks out into hysterics every time RFC Moldova enters the room. Fortunately, the girl passed out from exhaustion, but RFC Moldova elected to move out into the stables with Grendel who, it would seem, has begun to believe that RFC Moldova’s limberjack “Jack” is fully possessed. It seems to move on its own.
Keep in mind, the entire purpose of the wooden doll is to provide RFC Moldova with an object to animate. So, I am unsure of Grendel’s superstition.
At the keep, it would appear that, fatigued from waiting, Sir Hevain offered dinner to Sir Volstagg and his entire team. That eve, at or around 7PM, Sir Hevain, Sir Volstagg, and Lady Zathlan took a carriage to the inn to be joined by Corporal Amaroth, RFCs Daynore and Moldova at a table within the inn. Rangers Serys and brother Sebastian remained to protect the girl.
Upon discovering that their ogre member, Grendel, would not be allowed to join, Sir Hevain ordered the table to be dragged into the street and Grendel joined the rest of his team for a long and luxurious dinner. By all accounts, a good time was had.
Late that evening, 10PM or later, Sir Hevain, Sir Volstagg, and Lady Zathlan returned to the keep. There, Sir Volstagg was alerted that Sir Halten was “out of chambers” and would meet with him. Both he and Lady Zathlan departed Sir Hevain’s company and headed to private quarters to meet with Sir Halten.
Lady Zathlan found a cold reception from the Erlgen clan and so elected to excuse herself and return to her quarters. From what I gather, Sir Volstagg found Sir Halten in terrible spirits, especially considering his sudden inheritance, and, if rumors are true, the compromised nature of his father-in-law’s demise. There seems to be little love lost between the two men.
In fact, Sir Halten appeared utterly despondent. Though details are sorely lacking, it is believed that Lord Erlgen might have been in debt upon his passing. Those accounts passing then to Sir Halten. If such reports are to be believed, it might explain the Sheriff’s black mood. He spoke at length with Sir Volstagg before both retiring from the evening.
Due to the tense atmosphere in the keep, and the Rangers giving sanctuary to the girl, RFC Daynore began contacting Farspeaker Moonsilver twice daily until the Rangers departed Olaran territory.
Red Wolf 1st, 3126
Lord Erlgen’s body lay in state for two days while arrangements were made, and the official matters of state were navigated. However, it was announced on the last day of Spring, Planting Moons 33rd, it was announced that Lord Erlgen’s Last Call and funeral would occur on Red Wolf 1st. That was the plan…
At or just after the 13th hour, the very first minutes of Red Wolf 1st, the keep was awakened by alarm bells and the sounds of heavy boots in the corridors. Again, Sir Volstagg and Hevain, this time better dressed, rushed out to find the source of the newest alarm, Lady Zathlan following behind. This time, they reached the far side of the keep to find a growing crowd outside one of the guests quarters. Muscling their way through the crowd, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain entered the private chambers of Sir and Lady Bolen.
This scene war far more gruesome. Sir Bolen was on his knees wailing beside the bed where his young bride lay hacked to bloody pieces in their bed. Blood soaked the sheets, the mattress and sprayed about the room. Not among the crowd were noted Dame Gaulouen and her escort, Lord Boer, and Sir and Lady Halten. Nor were the three mourning sisters in attendance.
Sir Barrough, the Bolen House Guard, and Sir Mathras were already assembling forces to hunt down and slay the assassin. Sir Volstagg noted that there was no blood near the windows or door meaning that the assassin had not entered the room via a “normal” portal. This left magic or…
He also spotted the same page who had so easily led Lady Zathlan out of the keep earlier. When pressed, that servant revealed a hidden passage in the corner of the room. There was a clear blood spattered trail leading into the darkened confines of the corridor.
Leaving Sir Mathras and Sir Barrough to secure the room, and Lady Zathlan, dressed in but a shift, to secure the secret passageway, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain charged after the assassin. In the darkness, they relied upon the stench of blood to track the killer. Coming, soon enough. to a half opened door, light spilling through the crack Bursting into the room, both men were shocked to find Sir Halten standing along within his chambers.
Sir Halten, almost drunkenly, as if waking from a dream, demanded to know why they had so rudely intruded into his private place. It was only then that the two men noted the blood coating Sir Haltens chest and arms, or the blood sword still dangling from his hand. Sir Halten appeared oblivious as well.
When Sir Vosltagg forced him to examine himself, the Sheriff appeared genuinely shocked and confused, allowing the bloody sword to clatter to the stone floor. The situation was dire. Clearly, Sir Halten had murdered the young Lady, but he appeared to be under some influence, magical or otherwise. With Sir Bolen, Sir Barrough, and Sir Mathras out for blood, it was only a matter of moments before they arrived and executed Sir Halten out of hand.
Ceding authority to the Rangers, Sir Hevain suggested that Sir Volstagg arrest the Warden and place him under Ranger custody while he returned to the scene of the attack. Without quarrel Sir Halten immediately surrendered and submitted to Ranger justice. Without bindings, Sir Volstagg arrested the Royal Sheriff and exited the chambers to escort him to the dungeon only to find Sir Bolen and others prowling the halls in search of the killer, having failed to pass Lady Zathlan.
Finding the blood covered Sir Halten, they demanded Sir Volstagg to stand aside upon the King’s orders. Volstagg refused and a standoff almost turned violent when Sir Hevain arrived behind the Olarans. Sir Volstagg claimed Ranger authority and refused to submit. So, Sir Bolen ordered the keep to be secured, no on in or out. With bad grace, they stood aside, but promised that there would be swift retribution against the Royal Sheriff AND the Rangers.
Through RFC Daynore Farspeaker Moonsilver was alerted of the alarms in the keep. She immediately contact Sir Volstagg, who was at the precise moment facing down Sir Bolen, and Sir Barrough in the hallway outside Sir Halten’s chambers. With Sir Hevain’s aid, Sir Volstagg managed to reach the keep’s dungeon where an amiable, if unconcerned jailer locked the dazed Sir Halten into a cell.
With a moment to breathe, Sir Volstagg reported to Farspeaker Moonsilver. The Royal Sheriff of had murdered Lady Bolen, presumably under the influence of an Adept. Sergeant Volstagg had stepped between Olaran “justice” and the life of Sir Halten at the risk of his own life and that of his team. And then, he requested assistance at a level sufficient to deal with a potential war with Olara over Sir Halten.
I would be remiss if I did not take a brief moment to describe the situation in Echer’Naught at the time of this unusual request. Upon receiving Sergeant Volstagg’s request, Farspeaker Moonsilver contacted me directly and requested I relay the message to the Colonel. Doing so, I found the good Colonel in a pleasant mood. He was, as usual, in his office, even at such a late hour. His recent repast with his bride, sitting well. For once, the she-wolf beast, Sasha, seemed inclined to permit idle petting.
In a word, bucolic. I was loathe disturb such a peaceful scene, but duty required. Colonel Wolfhaven took the news of a potential pitched battle between the reigning “Alpha Team” and a who’s who of Olaran nobility better than I had expected. Though, having served with the Lord-Mayor long enough I detected a note of frustration, though not incredulity. Sad as it may be, hearing that his Rangers had managed to convert a funeral detail into a full blow international incident was entirely unsurprising.
To his credit, Colonel Wolfhaven paused only long enough to wake his wife and bid her farewell, before summoning a detail of the Wolfhaven Company of Free Riders to his door and riding east at full gallop. From there, I returned to the HQ in order to begin researching the Erlgen estate and background information on the potential players in this sordid drama.
Wolfhaven departed Echer’Naught at, or around 1AM First Hunt 1st, 3126, for reference.
While Wolfhaven was preparing to leave, and Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain were preparing to defend the Erlgen keep’s dungeon against a small force of armed Olarans, Farspeaker Moonsilver contacted Corporal Amaroth with orders to assemble the Alpha Team and reinforce Sergeant Volstagg’s position in the keep. This would, of course, require the Rangers to enter the keep with the Olarans under orders to prevent anyone, in particular the Rangers, from doing just that.
As soon as Alpha Team received orders, Corporal Amaroth assembled the entire team and, taking the young girl along, assembled to march on the keep. Serys managed to roust a handful of Olaran warriors who he knew to be loyal to Sir Hevain, or willing to fight for coin, and convinced them to join the Ranger assault on Erlgen Keep.
Again, they were challenged, but this time before ever crossing the moat. However, this time, Corporal Amaroth refused to relent. Without reinforcements Sergeant Volstagg would almost certainly be overrun. In the name of the Rangers, Corporal Amaroth ordered the guard to stand aside. I imagine the hulking ogre and Ranger Serys’ drawn bow only helped encourage compliance.
With access to the keep, Corporal Amaroth left Grendel outside in the courtyard and entered the keep proper, this time, without issue with the rest of the team. There, Sir Hevain met to lead them to the dungeon and Sergeant Volstagg. I can only imagine that Sergeant Volstagg relieved at the arrival of the rest of his team.
Together for the first time since arriving in Erlgen lands, minus Grendel, the team discussed the current situation. RFC Daynore was easily able to confirm that Sir Halten had been under the influence of an adept. Armed with this knowledge, Sergeant Volstagg ordered RFCs Moldova and Daynor to seek out the presence of an adept within the keep. Corporal Amaroth and Ranger Serys detached to go canvass the area and question the guests at the party. Surely someone saw something.
The rest, Sergeant Volstagg, RFC Zathlan, brother Sebastian, and Sir Hevain remained behind to ensure no move was made against Sir Halten. The search took time, almost the entirety of Red Wolf 1st.
Red Wolf 2nd, 3126
Early in the morning, the team returned to report RFCs Moldova and Daynore had found evidence of an adept, but the essence was quickly fading. No sign of the assassin. Corporal Amaroth and Ranger Serys returned with a list of everyone in the castle and a list of those who were NOT seen in and around Lady Bolen’s room on the morning of her death, including, but not limited to, Lady Gaulouen and her escort, Lord Boer, Sir and Lady Halten, Vicar Oman and the three mourning sisters.
It was at this that brother Sebastian interjected. He suddenly recalled that during the hours he spent praying over the body of Lord Erglen, after having been moved to the chapel, that there were FOUR small, feminine figures praying the chapel. Interestingly, with faces shrouded, none of the Rangers had ever seen any of the women’s faces. No one but the assassin would dare to impersonate one of the mourning sisters of Squire Halten, and no one but an adept would not have been immediately spotted and called out!
With this new information, and running on no sleep, Sir Volstagg and Sir Hevain left the team within and went to round up all the women in the keep that MIGHT meet with this description. Sir Bolen, Sir Mathras, and Sir Barrough, not to mention Lord Boer, made such a procedure next to impossible. But, through charm, guile, and sheer belligerence, all the young women of the keep were finally assembled in the great hall in the late afternoon of Red Wolf 2nd. RFC Daynore even brought the young woman from Ranger custody, just in case, though she had been scanned with no results.
All the nobility assembled, most to watch Sergeant Volstagg fail. Everyone was in attendance, save for the Alpha team, the jailer, who continued to sit whistling idly, and Sir Halten still incarcerated. At Sergeant Volstagg’s signal, RFC Daynore began his scan of the crowd…
From what information can be gleaned, the instant RFC Daynore openned his mind, a powerful spike of The Way overwhelmed his senses and, momentarily, blinding him to the room. At the same instance half the assembled lords, ladies, knights, dames, sworn, and citizens, warrior or not, turned on the other half. Sir Hevain and Lord Bolen immediately attacked Sir Volstagg who was momentarily stunned by the sudden attack.
RFC Daynore immediately moved to extract himself from the press of bodies. Sergeant Volstagg went on the defensive, warding off blows in the hopes of understanding what was happening. It became painfully obvious that someone had just puppeted half the room, if such a thing was even possible.
Fending off Sir Hevain, Sir Bolen, with Sir Mathras and Sir Barrough not far away, Sergeant Volstagg was fortunate to survive. As the melee began to take its toll above, below, the Alpha Team was suddenly dealing with their own crisis.
Unaware of the battle raging overhead, they were suddenly shocked when Ranger Serys calmly turned his bow and shot Sir Halten in the throat. The Royal Sheriff, utterly unprepared, toppled backwards off his small cot and collapsed to the floor in an expanding pool of his own blood. Reacting instantly, brother Sebastian tackled Serys trying to drive him to the ground. A heartbeat later, Corporal Amaroth also jumped upon the elf.
RFC Zathlan took a different approach. Waiting for an opening in the scramble, she laid one clean blow on Serys’ shooting arm, shattering the elbow and rendering the bow useless. At first, Serys seemed to ignore the blow, but moments later, as if waking from a dream, he screamed and collapsed to the ground as RFC Zathlan coquettishly tried to hide the massive warhammer behind her slim form.
Above, the battle raged on, with Sergeant Volstagg managing to drag Sir Hevain to the floor, but suffering severe wounds from numerous sword blows. RFC Daynore broke free of the melee and turned to head downstairs, already reaching on to summon reinforcements. Outside, after sitting alone in the courtyard, abandoned and forgotten with only the creepy limberjack for company, Grendel arose to the sounds of battle within the keep and the scent of blood.
Lacking orders, Ranger Grendel elected to break open the door to the keep in hopes of reaching his team. With two great blows, Grendel smashed the door open, but before he could hope to try squeezing through the portal, the Cavalry arrived.
Having ridden almost nonstop since early morn on the 1st, Colonel Wolfhaven arrived at the moment Grendel forced open the keep’s doors. His way so courteously cleared, Colonel Wolfhaven rode into the main hall and summoned the power of Celesia to break the adept’s hold over the minds of the assembled.
Free of influence, the hall fell into stunned silence as the assembled nobility, sworn, and citizens collapsed in fatigue, or staggered drunkenly, nursing wounds. Sergeant Volstagg lowered his guard and sagged to a nearby bench. RFC Daynore alerted the Colonel of the attack on the dungeon.
Colonel Wolfhaven ordered Sergeant Volstagg to receive medical attention, an order I believe he disobeyed. He then ordered RFC Daynore to secure the hall and to arrange medical attention for the assembled. From there, Colonel Wolfhaven turned and strode toward the stairs to the dungeon.
Below, a different drama unfolded. Free of his compulsion, the injured Ranger Serys screamed at RFC Zathlan while Corporal Amaroth demanded the keys from the jailer who seemed most amused by the entire performance. Door open, brother Sebastian rushed to Sir Hatlen’s body, taking a healing potion from RFC Moldova. Using all his knowledge, brother Sebastian desperately tried to stop Sir Halten’s bleeding. Among the potion, brother Sebastian’s skill, and pure luck, Sir Halten took a ragged breath.
He was alive. Brother Sebastian helped him onto a cot where he continued to cough and sputter, weak from pain and blood loss. All seemed to have turned better, when the team heard the sounds of approaching armored boots. Unaware of the Colonel’s arrival, or the nature of the fight above, Corporal Amaroth ordered his men into position. They waited, gravely, as the footsteps grew loud until the figure of Colonel Wolfhaven filled the doorway to the dungeon.
Relieved, they immediately lowered their arms. Colonel Wolfhaven dispatched the Corporal and most of his team to the main hall to support Sergeant Volstagg. Brother Sebastian was to remain with the Royal Sheriff and the girl below.
As of the writing of this report, Colonel Wolfhaven is command of Erlgen Keep and overseeing the search for the assassination, the deaths of the assembled and negotiating with the Olaran nobility.
However, upon his arrival, Colonel Wolfhaven DID secure a public pronouncement from Sir Bolen admitting that the death of his wife was the result of Puppeting powers of an adept. Should this go to trial, that admission, in addition to his succumbing to the same powers in attacking a Ranger Sergeant will go a long way to securing an innocent verdict for Sir Halten.
Thought, I sincerely down that any of this will go to trial. Should Sir Bolen demand a trial, the indescretion of Lord Erlgen will become the humor of the courts, as will Sir Barrough’s inability to protect a member of the royal family. Let us not forget that to accuse Sir Halten of weakness or moral fraility in the face of the adept would only open every noble, knight, and sworn to similar accusations. No, this will never go to trial, but I can assume that the reputations of Sir Barrough and Sir Halten will likely never recover.
Sadly, a lack of trial does not greatly improve the situation. First, Lady Halten’s family has been disgraced. This will cause tremors throughout local Olaran politics creating instability and ill will. I fear that no small number of challenges will result. The killing is not over. Olaran pride being what it is.
Second, assuming the Crown allows Sir Halten to inherit the property, as is his right, assuming no challengers, I fear that his financial situation will preclude his ability to hold the land for long. Again, this is merely an educated guess, but if what appears to be true IS true, then Sir Halten may be required to sell of large portions of his holdings to remain solvent. The Erglen Keep with its stigma will be the first, I imagine. This diminished Sir Halten further and strains his finances. Sir Halten, as a player in the fight against Velkalar is now over, at least for the time.
Third, the Olaran Crown is not well disposed to treat with the Rangers. Regardless of whether or not Sergeant Volstagg was in the right in regards to the Royal Sheriff, it cannot be overlooked that he defied Olaran justice within their own holdings. Worse. he embarrassed the Crown and through his actions allowed an assassin of Royal Blood to go free. I have confirmed that Lady Bolen, of Olara, was a favored cousin of the Queen. If the Rangers sought aid from the Olarans, that aid is likely to be denied.
As to the cause of the conflict? Who can say. The death of Lord Erlgen was a tragic accident or a calculated assassination to embarrass Sir Halten, or the Rangers, and set up this unique series of events. Then, the murder of Lady Bolen was either an assassination of a key Olaran political figure by political rivals within the courts, or she as killed in order to set up Sir Halten and remove him from play. Even failing in that, the damage to his reputation is done. He is a Royal Warden in name only.
Unless the subsequent investigation gleans some new information, we may never the know the cause of this series of deaths. If they are a series of unconnected events, so much the worse. But, if this is a coordinated attack by one of our myriad enemies, then it is doubly concerning for A) it subtlety and brilliance, B) access to hidden information like Lady Bolen’s true identity and the hidden passages of Erlgen Keep, C) the wide ranging ramifications to Ranger operations.
Honestly, I cannot say with any certainty which case would be worse? Perhaps it would be best if this was just a series of very unfortunate events. Time will tell, I am sadly sure.
Not to add to our collective woes, yet there are other forces at play that, if we are not careful, will be overshadowed an examined in the light of such high profile events.
First, as of the last report we indicated that High Druidess Treesinger had departed Echer’Naught to assess the damage to Evorn Que’kassar’s Sacred Grove. Predictably, she was attacked in the attempt. Unpredictably, however, the assassination attempt was very nearly successful. While working in ruins of the grove around the 25th of Planting Moons, High Druidess Treesinger came under fire from an assassin using crossbow bolts coated in a highly lethal toxin for elves, added to that, we believe, Vainar’s Bane Plague. It was less the toxin, and more the rapid assault that very nearly killed Treesinger.
She was rescued by Eve, who ALSO was wounded by the attacker, though her immense recuperative abilities prevented her death. She was unable to pursue as she was bringing High Druidess Treesinger back from the brink of death. Apparently, the elven maidens has pre-planned this rescue in the event of an attack, at Colonel Wolfhaven’s insistence that Treesinger was a target. That said, Evoran’s Tree was not just burned, but destroyed. High Druidess Treesinger has been tight lipped during her recuperation, but her words, ominous as they may be, “Life Prevails” may be an indication that she has some means of repairing or replacing. Not a high Ranger priority.
However, this situation highlights an equally disturbing report. We have learned, recently, that the prison caravan carrying former Ranger Dakota Afliem was hit enroute to Kythros. Worse, due to the nature of the attacks, and the unpredictability of Eve, the prisoner escort was of the most highly trained Rangers available at the time. Of high skill and experience, these men were completely over matched and slaughter by what appears to be a single attacker, if analysis of the scene is true.
Sadly, we do not know when Dakota Afliem was abducted as the attack was only discovered when the prison transfer failed to reach its scheduled destination, we are fairly certain she was not killed in the attack. To what end, we know not. Wounds on her guards are consistent with a long, thin blade. It cannot be lost upon the Rangers that the MO resembles one of Velkalar’s known associates, the duelist Alphonz Domingo Ferrara Diego Castellano. Though that attribution is merely suspicion, not fact.
Equally troubling news out of Kythros. In the wee hours of the 20th of Planting Moons there was a prison break. Numerous guards were injured, three killed. Of the list of escapees, only a few seem relevant to our operations. Two of note, former Rangers Rysak Ironblood and Thomas Zulcrum. I have only RECENTLY learned of an additional fact of note. A few days prior to this breakout, Zulcrum requested to speak with Ranger Command in regards to information that might be of assistance in our investigations surrounding the person or persons known as Velkalar. Within days, and before he was allowed to make this pronouncement, he, along with a handful of prisoners “escape.” The coincident is not lost upon this command.
In rapid succession, Captain Celebor is laid low and forced to retire, Sergeant Major Stormhammer is also captured and gravely wounded in his recover, in which we lose RFC Ramshorn. Now, Treesinger is all but lost, and all three incarcerated former Rangers escape or are abducted by unknown forces. Sir Halten is all-but ruined. And, lest we not forget, RFC Moldova’s brother is still unaccounted for.
Our pieces are being swept from the board faster than we can assess our next moves. To make matters far worse, we have just received unverifiable reports that a new wave of bounties have been issued for high members within the government of Echer’Naught and the Rangers. Even if we had the Rangers to spare securing everyone within the government, if the prison transfer of Dakota Afliem is any indication, we are woefully inadequate to the task.
The War promised Sergeant Volstagg is now in full swing. If a resolution is not reached, we may, in fact, lose. But, if all of our supposition is correct, then we have begun to develop a pattern of movement for key resources of our enemy. Kourash was last seen in the Dominion and every resource is being spent to locate and track his movements. It should NOT be hard. And, IF the attack on Squire Halten’s funeral IS the work of V, then that accounts for the Adept. Add the crossbowman who attacked Treesinger and the duelist who hit the prisoner escort… Our enemy is close at hand. If only we can get a decent shot.