Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127
I am a FATHER! Or will be. I never really thought about children I suppose it was always possible. When I chose to be with Ingrid and Kenzie, I figured the matter was closed. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure Aevakar and humans COULD have children.
Apparently we can, with help.
Ever since Ingrid told me, I can’t stop smiling. I know our calling is dangerous, but I want nothing more than to start a family with my fierce and beautiful goddesses.
Though, now I worry for Kenzie. I know she feels displaced, homeless. That tears it. We will make a home for all of us, and our children!
And I think we stopped a war a maybe saved the world.
Festival Moons 8th, 3127
Saying goodbye to our friends from Delta Team, Alpha Team continued rattling down the desert road south toward Quadir. RFC Ranna drove the overloaded miner’s cart. Corporal Sssahliissstah rode in the back, straddling the petrified statuary of the former Clan Chief Rockbreaker. She held him in place with her tail.
It was actually pretty undignified and hilarious.
This left, I think Ingrid on Diego and Kenzie on Buttercup. The Builder bounced along atop Sergeant Muriel, RFC Blackstone on Tiny, and everyone else, Ruby Rockbreaker or Blackstone, not really sure which, Lieutenant Ammira kes Ziva (Farspeaker), Egon Mansfried, and Gill Grimm scrabbling along riding the shaggy mountain ponies given to us by Slate’s dwarves.
The combined weight of a 500+ pound ogress in 200+ pounds of armor and weapons, the 250+ pound dregordian, and the at least 200 pound stone dwarf were far more than the gamely little cart could manage. Within half an hour, the front seat was crushed, the bed sagged, and sparks flew from the undercarriage. From the cart’s, not our beefy female commanders.
So, a change in distribution was ordered. Only, about this time, The Explorer rode up from watching our backtrail to inform us riders were approaching from A’Morgal at a high speed.
Though it was POSSIBLE, the riders were chasing down another band of statuary snatchers, it was likely they were after our little band. We were hardly suspicious. The cart alone could be seen for hundreds of yards, sparks spraying brightly into the night. It was actually very pretty.
So, Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered Egon and Ingrid to take up post back along the road. Kenzie and Blackstone took point. She, the Corporal, the Builder, Ranna, and Grimm managed the transfer of the Clan Chief to Muriel, the only beast of burden able to cart the hefty headman at speed.
I was honored with the task of providing a distraction for our approaching riders.
With a passionate farewell kiss to my loves, I dashed away, gaining speed and altitude. From a few dozen feed up, I could see them in a loose column, riding hard. A dozen or more Desert Riders. Easy prey.
They never looked up. My first shot felled the lead rider’s mount. Horse and rider went down in a tumbled mess. The next three riders slammed into the horse wreck, going down in heap. Only one horse and rider managed to kick free from the scramble.
The other’s managed to swerve wide. Eight riders spurred onward. One circled back to shoot at me. It took a bit, but I finished off the first group and winged away toward Ingrid’s position.
By the time I arrived, seven riders were circling Egon and Ingrid. They were both in the dirt, having been dragged several feet. I THINK they tried to use the rope to pull a rider of his mount without tying the tripline down.
Which worked, but nearly killed them in the process.
The riders were circling and shooting. Too far for Egon to reach, and too many for Ingrid to take down quickly.
Then, Egon ran. The towering knight jumped up and scampered off, tail between his legs leaving my Ingrid to fight alone. I considered killing him, but I had to save Ingrid first.
Not, that she needed saving much. The first arrow caught her, but once she regained her footing, the vigorous Olaran woman when about her grim work.
The desert night was lit by bright flashes of green bolts as Ingrid picked off the riders one by one. By the time I arrived, she had dropped three. I cut felled another as Egon managed to reach his horse tied to a scrub nearby, one of the shaggy ponies.
He looked ridiculous, this massive olaran knight charging into battle atop a pony not much bigger than a large dog. Still, he charged hard, slamming into one of the riders. Unfortunately, the desert rider got in a lucky blow under the knight’s arm, wounding him deeply. I swooped in, decapitating the rider.
In the meantime, my darling dervish laid waste to the desert riders. One after another she blasted them from their saddles. Of the either, she alone counted for half. But, they managed a few lucky shots.
Ingrid took an arrow to the back, and I to the chest, knocking me out of the air. At this, Egon rode through, lifting Ingrid over his saddle and riding away. In the end, there were only two left.
As my love rode away, I undercut one of the riders, spilling him to the dust. Turning I shot the last mounted rider, and sped away. The unhorsed man firing impotently as I winged way.
Catching up to Egon, I noted that he was badly wounded, and Ingrid had sprouted her own feathers. At least three arrows were lodge in my harness, two biting deep enough to draw blood. Behind us, Diego ambled along. He seemed distinctly nonplussed by the entire bout.
We rode up to the wagon in sad shape. During our short skirmish, Ranna and Sssahliissstah had managed to transfer the body of the Clan Chief Rockbreaker to Muriel. The Explorer strapped him down with form of Builder wizardry.
Then, everyone started swapping mounts. The Explorer took Ranna’s seat driving the wagon. Ranna climbed in the back, bracing Mog to cover our backtrail. Sssahliissstah climbed onto Diego. Everyone else scrambled onto mountain ponies leaving Buttercup and Tiny from Kenzie and Blackstone respectively.
That bit of mummery complete, we resumed out southward flight. Well, the Builder drove off the moment Ranna was seated, so he was almost to our forward scout position by the time the rest of the team sorted themselves out.
As we rode past, Ingrid leaped onto Buttercup, and Blackstone tiny. About then, Ranna noted that, again, we were once again followed. And the chase resumed. For two and a half days…
Festival Moons 10th, 3127
About mid day, the desert riders were closing. Our mounts, even Muriel were played out. Many of us were wounded from the constant skirmishing. As the sun rose high overhead, the Builder spied more riders ahead along the road.
He reigned in, allowing the others to catch up, and also reducing the lead on the chase party. When Corporal Sssahliissstah saw the trap, she nearly snapped the reigns in frustration.
Hunters behind, and unknown forces ahead, we were well and truly trapped. Two days of running sapped our strength. We had little left. So, she chose the unknown to the fore, rather than the sure fate behind.
And so, with the Builder holding aloft a Ranger cloak as a makeshift flag, we rode upon a line of desert warriors.
Sitting in the middle of the road was a mounted figure, feminine in height and proportion, but clearly the leader. Behind…her…were other riders, all waiting. Flanking left and right of the road were ranks of archers and warriors all waiting on some signal to attack.
As we slowed, the riders behind reigned up short, just shy of our party. It seemed we had just crossed an invisible border between too lands. Whoever this woman was, the A’Morgal riders seemed reluctant to cross into her lands. A formidable woman indeed.
The leader of the riders insulted the woman, calling her Shiek Satima. She insulted them before threatening to kill any of them who dare enter her lands. He warned her that she would regret her insolence, before riding off in a huff.
It was all very dramatic. And, were I not nursing a sucking chest wound, I would have been very impressed. Then she turned and asked who spoke Aradi.
Before I could speak, Kenzie raised her hand. I bit my tongue so hard it bled. Dammit.
The woman ordered Kenzie to attend her and translate. I kept my mouth shut. Better this Satima woman not know that others in the group could understand her. It might help later.
I would have said as much to Corporal Sssahliissstah, but there was no time, or privacy. So I kept my own counsel for the time.
Through my beloved Kenzie, Satima invited us into her lands, but warned that we would be harshly punished if we displeased her. So, under heavy guard, we were escorted south to the city of Quadir.
Quadir is impressive if you like fluted columns and gold onion roofs. The city is the first “desert” city I have seen set in the middle of a giant grasslands. Still, it was more orderly than A’Morgal or Paradise.
We were escorted into the place. There, our weapons were confiscated. I expected most of the Rangers to be loaded for bear, but I was impressed to see the Ruby carried a considerable arsenal. Even if none was larger than a dinner knife.
After disarming the team, we were escorted by servants to a large, open bathhouse where we were given soap and fresh bandages to treat our wounds, food, water, and wine. Not to mention the bath which felt…divine…
Between Ingrid, her fairy friend, and Blackstone, all our wounds were healed quickly enough. Her fairy managed to launder and mend our clothes, so within a half hour we were fed, healed, clean, and reasonably ready to attend the Prince.
Servants came to fetch us. They led us back to the main quartyard, through yawning studded wooden doors into a wide marbled floor between colonnades. It was impressive in the over the top style of the Aradi Princes. The Farspeaker quickly took the lead, bowing as she approached.
Finally, we stood before the Prince of Quadir. He was older, weathered but still powerful, despite his right arm being pretty badly mangled. His Vizier, an erudite and oiled man, stood beside him. The Prince never actually spoke to us, relying on his Vizier to relay his words.
The Farspeaker handled all negotiations. Normal stuff. Thank you for saving us. We are sorry to start a border war with A’Morgal. Please don’t kill us. Oh, and if you could let the dwarves know we have their clan chief stature, that would be helpful.
She was more tactful, but that was the gist. Turns out a Lt. Cromwell in A’Davar had contacted the Prince about our arrival. Both Prince Morok of A’Davar and Prince Romar of the desert Riders spoke well of the Greencloaks? Clearly there were some politics involved. I was just glad Blackstone was being silent.
In the end, the Prince, or his Vizier, simply allowed us to stay as “guests” until they decided how to execute us. We bowed out, and were escorted to the nicest prison compound I have ever seen.
There was a decent sized marble pavilion in the center of a wide, open courtyard. The pavilion was decently large, but more an elaborate vaulted roof supported by literally hundreds of columns.
Rooms were created by fitting decorative sandalwood panels between columns. It was beautiful and totally impractical. The “walls” went only about half way up, leaving the ceilings open. The design only worked in the hot, dry climates of the desert region.
Though it DID make a fantastic prison. Around the courtyard was a tall, wide wall patrolled day and night by dozens of archers and spearmen. The only way into or out of our courtyard were two heavy, ironwood gates. They were barred from the other side.
We were trapped. But, we had food, water, clothes, comfortable couches, futons, and beds. Again, the nicest of prisons.
And we sat waiting for four weeks. I know the others grew stir crazy. Corporal Sssahliissstah started sparing anyone or anything. I caught her shadow boxing a fern. It got bad.
For them. I quite enjoyed myself. Ingrid was more than willing to enjoy my company. Kenzie too, but she is apparently less comfortable with exhibitionism? Though, I have NO complaints. She is…very talented and many techniques.
Festival Moons 33rd, 3127
After nearly a month, Shiek Satima comes for us. We are allowed to prepare before being escorted to a wide plaza overlooking Quadir’s grasslands. The Prince was in attendance, reclined on a mountain of silk pillows. His daughters, granddaughters and servants around. Guards liked the rails. And, the Vizier.
Also in attendance was a delegation from the Rockbreaker Clan. Acting Chief Rouark, his nephew, Slate, and our good friend Glamdring from Stahlheim. Apparently, they had agreed to the meeting. Though, I am not entirely sure if they weren’t there to demand Alpha Team be turned over to their justice for our innumerable crimes against the dwarves of that Clanhome.
We were allowed to state our case, and again, the Farspeaker did an admirable job. She explained that we had recovered the Clan Cheif’s petrified body from A’Morgal, it ALMOST as good condition as when it was stolen. But, that we learned that Prince Wakheem was NOT responsbile for the theft.
Xaos forces had taken the Chief, presumably to manipulate the dwarves into launching an attack on A’Morgal while the Maelstrom army camped in the city. The battle would have been devastating for all sides, likely weakening the Prince to the point that Xaos might take control outright.
Of course, the dwarves would be utterly annihilated. Fortunately, our warning arrived in time, and they were smart enough to see it. After our Farspeakers contacted their druids, dwarven scouts confirmed the Maelstrom numbers in the city and decided to delay the attack.
The Clan Chief was brought in on a palanquin of silk pillows and presented to the dwarves. They were not happy about the cracks, but held their tongue. However, they demanded proof that Xaos incited the war.
The Explorer offered his armor for inspection. It was the only suit not repaired by the fairy. I’m not sure the little creature could. And, since it had been in the hands of the Prince’s men since our rescue, or capture depending on perspective, the dwarves could not accuse the Rangers of tampering.
The Prince’s servants brought it out on a large pillow. After some fussing, the dwarves grudgingly accpeted that holes in the Explorer’s armor were created by Xaos “Reaper” rifles. But, they would not readily accept that those weapons were not fired by Maelstrom or A’Morgal troops.
To which, Corporal Sssahliissstah offered her own research notes on prior Ranger missions. It was also brought out on a pillow. What is with this Prince and pillows? Anyway, after the Vizier verified the records, using some pretty interesting magic to speed read through, the books were turned over to the dwarves.
Their Loremasters poured over every detail. Ultimately, they were forced to admit that Xaos weapons break down quickly if not constantly maintained by Xaos. Meaning, it is HIGHLY unlikely that Maelstrom or A’Morgal were using them.
The dwarves demanded a recess to discuss. And so, we returned to our prison. Though, the Royal Vizier borrowed The Explorer and the Farspeaker for about an hour. When they returned, the Explorer was as excited as I have ever seen. He paced nervously, muttering to himself.
Apparently the Prince had a treasure vault and in the vault was an old piece of arcfire tech. I didn’t really listen.
Dancing Clouds 1st, 3127
The next evening, we were summoned again. We found everyone waiting. Acting Clan Chief stepped forward and addressed the assembled.
Grudgingly, and in bad grace, Rourk Rockbreaker accepted our version of events. Though he would not thank us, our return of the Chief at least indicated our good intent. And so, with that, the dwarves were no longer actively seeking to kill us, though they did not forgive our other crimes. Not sure how that worked.
But the alliance was still in doubt. The Farspeaker asks if she may have permission to contact a superior with authority to speak on behalf the Rangers. The Prince allows, and her Focus Crystal is brought out on…you guessed it…a pillow.
Seriously, now I want a pillow from this place.
When the diminutive Farspeaker closed her eyes, and activated her power, even I felt it. Power radiated off her. It was like someone turned up gravity.
I felt a pressure in my mind. My ears buzzed. And then she spoke.
Colonel Wolfhaven’s deep voice issued from the small woman. It was…disturbing. Not nearly as disturbing as the waves of energy pouring off her. I think one of the dwarven druids puked.
What in the name of the Ascended IS Wolfhaven?
Anyway, he spoke. I mostly heard the high pitched whine. When she/he stopped, the dwarves conferred, then agreed to a conference to discuss an alliance. Or at least, a joint operation against A’Morgal.
We were dismissed. Our job was done, it seemed. Though, this time we were given real quest quarters and were allowed more free reign in the palace. Our gear, minus our weapons of course, were returned to us.
Corporal Sssahliissstah ran for the nearest decorative pool. She looked kind of like a toad, just lying flat in the shallow water. Though, none of the servants complained.
My ladies and I were given private rooms, well insulated rooms, and we enjoyed each other’s company. Vigorously.
I don’t know what happened to the others. I assume they continued on in their own fashion.
Dancing Clouds 12th, 3127
After two weeks of passionate…not sleeping, we were informed that an official diplomat for the Rangers was arriving within the week. A formal meeting was scheduled and we had been invited as guests.
The Prince’s staff offered to provide new formal uniforms for the team. We each were permitted to design our own.
My lovely Ingrid Snow commissioned druids robes, fully embracing her calling.
The fierce McKenzie Shan requested the Aradi cut which accentuated her slim figure.
I don’t remember them all. Though, it was odd seeing RFC Ranna and Sir Egon Mansfried dressed in near matching Olaran uniforms. Only their house patches, and a few dozen yards of cloth differed the two.
I chose the traditional sash of my people.
We prepared extensively from the 12th-18th.
Dancing Clouds 18th, 3127
We arrived early in the morning for the processional. As we stood in the shadows of one of the Palace audience chambers huge columns, the wide doors creaked open to reveal a small contingent of ambassadors. At their head, the famed Emissary, fully cloaked, revealing nothing. Not even his, or her, eyes.
They passed us. I noted the Emissary give Ranna a slight nod. Curious.
The assemblage continued on down the long hall to speak with the Prince. Greetings were offered. Gifts exchanged. And then we were dismissed until the formal reception that evening.
I walked in the gardens with Ingrid and Kenzie. It was actually rather beautiful. And by that, I mean they were beautiful.
That evening, we arrived at the grand dining hall and found out seats somewhere between honored guests and unwanted visitors. Far enough away from the main table, we were spared some of the political machinations. Which, given our track record, was probably wise.
We had a couple of distinguished visitors. Slate came by and greeted Blackstone and Rose. He seemed genuinely relieved that the negotiations had gone well so far. I understand. Though he supported our cause, he was in a difficult position since his failed election.
Later, the Emissary stopped by our table to speak in cryptic terms about potential futures. Cautioned Ranna about revenge. Generally, confused everyone. The one piece of solid information was that the Rangers were pleased with our work and arrangements had been made to return the team to Echer’Naught.
At Corporal Sssahliissstah’s order, we would gather our things and head south to Mindril Hall, and from there, Sunset to take a ship home.
Great news. Things seemed to be looking up. Though, she did ask to speak with Ingrid after the dinner.
That worried me.
Eventually, the music died and everyone returned to their chambers. I headed back to ours with Kenzie while Ingrid disappeared with the Emissary. For the next hour, I paced nervously until she returned.
Dancing Clouds 19th, 3127
Ingrid seemed…happy…but resolute. It was then that she turned my world upside down. She was pregnant!
I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited, I didn’t know what to do. I settled on a hug. And then hugged both.
A family! I cannot wait to begin this adventure with these two amazing women. Though, I worry a bit for Kenzie. She seems to be struggling to find her place.
I know she agreed to the Life Bond. But, I think, first, I will ask them both to marry me. Begin a true family, a home. And all that comes with it.
I cannot wait to return to Echer’Naught and begin this new adventure. The greatest of my life.