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:
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.