Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 79

A House Re-forged

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander

Commander of the Legio Heroes

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara

Twenty Sixth Day of Grey Winds, Year 3125 Under the Light

The day post my, return, passed in the most confusing blur. I cannot accurately put into words the most surreal experience it has been to resume my work at the big wooden desk in the office shared with so many over the years.

To think, when I arrived, it was the renegade Von Haber who sat there for so many years. Then, after his betrayal, members of the Harken Duchy. After which, I, for a time, and then Captain Celebor during my absence. Now here I sit again. The vagaries of time are strange.

The 25th of White Stagg, 3125, will go down as one of the most bizarre days of my life. But, there was also a rightness to things. Battle, coordination, these I have been trained well how to accomplish. What came after, however….

Odd, though I had not slept in over a day, I felt little fatigue. Perhaps being “dead” for months left me plenty of rest. I was sore, bone weary, if not tired, and ravenous. More important than all that, I had a task which should have been done so long ago.

Excusing myself early on the 26th, I mounted Thunder and made my way through the early morning snow to my home. I can only assume I was announced, for as I dismounted, I could feel her presence behind me. Turning, I was struck again by Lady Elyanna’s beauty. Obsidian hair, fierce violet eyes…

Her expression was bewildering, and left me feeling anxious. Would she be angry? Sad? Had word of my death reach her and she, in time, been able to grieve my passing and move on? I confess many of these thoughts had been swirling in my mind since my return. Nevertheless, I straightened my shoulders and faced what was to come as any battle, with honor. Whatever her choice, I would accept.

I started my way toward her, only to catch my breath when her face broke into one of those rare beatific smiles. So poised, so reserved, she threw all caution to the wind, plowed through the snow like a school girl and buried herself against my chest. Relief, joy, I can scarcely express my feelings at that moment.

Nevertheless, I swore that the first moment I had, I would offer my hand to her, so long patient with an old soldiers such as myself. Kneeling, I produced my mother’s ring, long kept, though quietly. It was…recovered…from the ashes of my home so many years ago.

Whitesilver, and plain. It was nonetheless, the most treasured heriloom of the Baronesses of my House. Dwarf forged from Stahlheim Whitesilver in the forges of Anvil, it represented more than love. It stood as a testimate of unbroken fealty, honor, and duty from the wife of the first Baron, to now, Lady Elyanna. For a moment, her face was a mask again, inscrutable. And then, with a tenderness I can scarcely describe, accepted my proposal.

The next few moments are a blur of joyous laughter, the scent of flowers and her hair. I know that Corporal Ravenwood stood by, congratulating. I also remember Sir Volstagg and Ranger Amaroth in the road. But, to be honest, I remember little more than that. Only then it occurred to me how rank I must smell, after days fighting and sitting. Excusing myself, I retired to my chambers and enjoyed the luxury of a real, hot bath.

Most men have decades to grow accustomed to the ache of bones and muscles. I but a few hours. In those steaming waters I felt blessed relief as the pains for weariness seeped from my body. What followed was the need for sleep that had eluded me for some time.

Still, I dressed and prepared to present myself to break fast with the ladies now living under my roof. As I exited my private chambers I was delighted to see both Lady Moonsilver, Ferradin in her arms. She seemed overjoyed at my return, but I knew from Malcom’s excellent reviews that she was not untouched by the events during my absence.

Seeing her well, and Ferradin was a balm to the soul, but I could sense her sadness. How her situation mirrored my Lady’s, but she had lost her love so long ago and I had yet to find him, as I swore. After she left, I sought out Lady Elyanna to inquire if there were anything we could do to aid Lady Moonsilver in her troubles. After a brief conference, my beloved suggested a rather ingenious solution to the Farspeaker Guild issue.

So, after which, I went down to breakfast to join Lady Elyanna, Lady Moonsilver, Mrs. Hawksclaw with her daughter. It struck me then, these great ladies all have sacrificed so much, given up their heartsblood and yet they find the strength to carry on. Rah-Sahn, Anaxelum…Alfred. How many more losses must they endure.

It seems that my house is to be a refuge for the lost, the grieving, and those who sacrifice all in the name of honor and freedom.

After an excellent meal (am I the only one now who eats meat?), I presented Lady Moonsilver with a purse of coin, and a letter to send to her Guild asking their forgiveness for the lateness of payment in regards to the service of establishing the Mind Link between Corporal Ravenwood and Anaxelum Regillus on behalf of the Wolfhaven Barony. I also inquired if they would allow Lady Moonsilver to act as their agent here in Echer’Naught with regards to negotiations to establish a Guild House within the city. Of course, we included an appropriate addition that would more than cover any penalties due to tardiness of payment.

Lady Moonsilver seemed overjoyed and grateful. With fortune and the Grace of Archanon and my good Lady Celesia, the Guild will drop its “investigation” into Lady Moonsilver. More to the point, should the Rangers seek to make the Mind Link a sticking point in future “conversations” regarding Anaxelum, this will put to rest the legitimacy of the link. The onus of that will be upon me, and not on the happy couple.

That done, I promised Corporal Ravenwood that I would work to see her beloved released, though I knew not how, and then retired for much needed rest. Apparently, with age comes the deceptiveness of sleep. I believed that I had the stamina of youth. I was sorely mistaken, and sore. I slept through that day and all night. Though, I managed to rouse myself by dawn the following morn to begin a long overdue review of my command.

My first task, with Malcom’s help, was to establish a schedule of meetings with personnel, commanders,and important members of the government. Odd, one of my greatest peeves in any organization is the random mandatory meetings which so often achieve nothing. How often have I stood at attention while some Officer pontificated upon his own greatness. I have always sought to meet with my men and women on their terms. It always struck me as more genuine, to share their burden, their tribulations, their hardships rather than imperiously summon them on high.

And so, with great reluctance, I began issues the very same summons. Rank has its privileged, certainly, but no small number of equally tiresome responsibilities. Still, my Rangers reported in good grace. For that, I am eternally grateful.

On the 28th of White Stagg, I spoke with a number of new Rangers, one, in particular, Ranger Audric Amaroth, the brash young warrior who pledge his sword to my service upon our first meeting. He reminds me so of the boys I fought with when I first entered the war of Flame. So full of promise, prepared to earn honor and glory in equal measure. But he, unlike they, has also gained the wisdom of bitter experience.

We spoke primarily of his wish to join the Wolfhaven House. I knew of his former House Henrik. Honorable warriors, though I never fought beside them, their reputation was stalwart. I confess I was unaware of their fate until I investigated Ranger Amaroth. I know the pain of losing one’s House, keenly so. Perhaps it was this that compelled me to accept the young man into service. My only caveat was that he would spend his free time, and the resources provided by House Wolfhaven to seek out the bastard who betrayed his Lord so that justice could be done, and honor served. I will never find those responsible for my own losses, too many battlefields, too many servants of Flame… So, I may then seek justice vicariously. It will still be Justice.

After our talk, he officially joined the ranks of House Wolfhaven. Taking his new tabard, he exited to join Sir Volstagg on routine patrol.

The rest of the day was spent meeting with other Rangers, and the new Investigator Lt. Barand. He kindly offered me a strong tea he ships in directly from a small town in the Eternal Desert. I declined, but was impressed, overall, with his upbeat professionalism. Strange, though, my experiences with Ranger Inspectors has not been a pleasant one. I hope that nothing quite so disquieting happens with the new team. He also introduced me to the rest of his team and I was able to spend a brief moment welcoming each one. Overall, I am impressed.

The following day, on the 29th of White Stagg, I first met with RFC Sir Volstagg. I must confess, I was most looking forward to finally meeting the man I had seen, but yet to meet. He was as interesting as I had imagined, a Volstagg of the Crimson Wall. Could there be are more dichotomous warrior? Still, he was gracious, deferential, but I could feel he might dislike the pomp and circumstance almost as much as I. In another life, this man could be a close friend, confident. But, as a member of the Rangers, I have a duty to remain impartial.

He and I spoke briefly, mainly pertaining to his work with Sir Halten, the Royal Sheriff and recently come King’s Warden. I had to admit, to him and myself, that bridging the rather deep divide between the Sheriff’s office and the Rangers was a duty that I had spectacularly failed to do. War I know. Politics and love, I am woefully lacking. But, I am learning.

Still, I thank and congratulated him on his work with the Sheriff’s office and pledged my support for further efforts to bring us closer together. I also, hesitantly, broached the subject of the recent loss and incarceration of his teammates. I know, from reports, that he was close to the conspiracy, but chose, due to faith in his comrades, not to step forward with unconfirmed rumors. To then have so much death happen, I could only imagine how he might have felt. I know how i have felt each and every time I was betrayed by those I trusted. It never gets easier.

But, I encouraged him to have faith in himself, the Rangers, and my office. I hope that, in time, he will realize that he made the best choice given the situation. Believing in your comrades is not a failing, even if it results in failure.

Over the next few days, I had a few memorable meetings. I did meet with our new Public Mediator, Colonel Anderson. He seems a rather cheerful and amiable man. I wonder though, as I have not before been privy to his service within the Rangers. Perhaps, due to Echer’Naught Ranger’s rather tumultuous relationship with the citizenry and Olara in general High Command saw fit to provide this new resource? Curiouser and curiouser. Still, his credentials and professionalism speak for themselves. I look forward to his council.

The most critical task, however, was the disturbing absence of Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer. I have spoken with every member of his staff and every guard posted anywhere the Sergeant Major might have been during the battle. Not only can we not locate Stormhammer, I can find no one who even saw him at any point during the battle! It is as if he simply vanished. Teams have scoured the sewers, and we have conducted street by street sweeps, but no Ranger, citizen, guard, or noble has any information regarding his whereabouts.

I even dispatched Wolfhaven Free Riders into the countryside around the city seeking any clue, or information. After days of fruitless search, I am growing more convinced by the hour that Stormhammer was an intended victim of the forces of Darkness. To what end, I know not. If he has been taken, which I fear is the case, it is more than likely that he has been taken to Shivak Novos, beyond our immediate reach. But how to located him?

On the 33rd of White Stagg, I met with one of the few members of alpha team I remember from before my fall, RFC Thorgram Ramshorn. I must admit a great sense of relief to know the stalwart warrior has survived the many calamities which has befallen the team over the last months. My first, and foremost, question was to learn about his incarceration. As it happens, he spent nearly the entire time I was laid low imprisoned in an Olaran work camp on the far norther border. I was also aware that during his time in prison, he spent the majority in the medical ward as frequent fights with one particular Orc resulted in his death. That Orc was executed for his temerity.

As it happens, RFC Ramshorn put a rather different spin on the story. It appears that the Orc was, in point of fact, teaching him how to control the Rage inside him. Through his own sacrifice, Thorgram was able to master the beast within. A steep price, but, the unnamed Orc, and myself, see the potential in RFC Ramshorn even if he is slow realize it himself.

I was also, under the authority as a Baron, able to replace his broken Targe with an Unbreakble shield. It lack the sentimental nature of his previous shield, borne through so many battles, but this new Targe is sure never to break even under the greatest duress. I was also able to confirm that Muriel, his ass, had managed, somehow, to achieve Ranger status. Time will tell if that was a wise decision. Nevetheless, I am encouraged to know that our brave defender stands yet to protect the Rangers.

Time permitting, I was able to meet with the newer members of Alpha team. On the 3rd of Gray Winds, I called Durlan Daynore and Sir Stahn to meet.

My Lady Elyanna had previously informed me of the arrival and sit down with a distant cousin from Galea turned Ranger. I was anxious and curious to meet this man who shared, if distantly, the Wolfhaven blood. He arrived with Ranger Daynore and I found him pleasant, a fine example of a Galean Knight. He seemed in earnest to continue his plan to leave his House in Galea to join the Wolfhaven House as a Knight. After a brief conversation, I heartily agreed to endorse his request for citizenship in Olara and will gladly accept his fealty upon the acceptance of his petition. It does my heart well to know that, at least somewhere, the blood of Wolfhaven runs through the heart of such warriors. Perhaps I have other far flung family that will someday return home. Nevertheless, a House stands by its Knights and I am pleased to have another sword and shield to add to its defense.

Ranger Daynore is an interesting one. Skilled in language and magically adept, he is polite and well spoken. He is, also, a Malakaran. Strange, yet the Ranger Corps is founded upon the principle that all men and women are capable of heroism. I will not pre-judge him based on where he might have been born, and I hope he will afford me the same.

Two days later, on the 5th of Gray Winds, I spoke with Lady Nexus Zathlan of Galean, and Gracelyn Moldova. The good lady is of House Lyonn in Galea. A strong House of warriors. One of the few which might be considered a match to Olaran warrior traditions. She, thought happens to also be an elf fair. I was surprised at her discomfiture in my presence. I come to understand she is, generally speaking, ill at east among other nobility. Odd, but not in any way detracting from her service. I know well that she handled herself valiantly in the most recent battles.

As for Ranger Moldova, she is an Olaran, and a citizen of this fair city. Other than the former Ranger Zulcrum, she is one of only a handful of Echer’Naught’s citizens to adopt the cloak. I pray that her unique insight into the lives and struggles of the citizens will be well represented.

Meetings continued, along with some fairly intense legal research. Stormhammer’s plight notwithstanding, I had pressing legal issues to address. Namely, how to secure release for Anaxelum Regillus from Ranger, well, Olaran custody. To be honest, the question plagued me for days until, with Malcom’s help, I stumbled upon an ancient legal precedent. It would require courage and some risk, but should it be successful, I was certain I could free Anaxelum. It depended, however, greatly on Sir Halten’s cooperation.

I have no illusions that were it not for the work of RFC Volstagg and Nazir, I would likely never have arranged Sir Halten’s participation. As it was, he agreed to act as impartial mediator between my challenge to the Ranger’s legal authority to arrest and hold Anaxelum. I put in my request and was granted a hearing on the 8th of Gray Winds.

While I prepared for that, I had a meeting with Therel Fateweaver, Steward of Echer’Naught. He acquiesced to arranging a public address at the Muster Grounds after the Hearing, though he guessed there was more to the address than just announcing my return. Wisely, he kept his own counsel, but set about seeing to my requests.

On the morning of the 8th of Gray Winds, I gathered with Lady Elyanna, Malcom, and members of Gendarre’s men. We made our way to the partially completed Town Hall Building at Centerpointe. Across from me were representatives for the Rangers, a Colonel, Major, and Lieutenant. I know of them, but we have yet to speak in person. I fear that their first impression will be less than stellar. Regardless, honor must be served.

After a suitable delay, the newly minted King’s Warden, Sheriff Halten arrived and assumed his seat at the center of the room. Today, per my request, he stood in as impartial mediator between myself and the Ranger Corps. I could feel the discomfort of my fellow Rangers. The Royal Sheriff’s disdain for the Rangers is well documented and I know that most of my brothers in that room must have thought me mad to place my fate, any of our fates, in his hands. However, today of all days, I required an arbiter with no love for the Rangers. In fact, it was crucial.

After the proper obsequiousness to his office, we sat and the Hearing, not trial began. I, as plainly as possible, explained the simple truth. Over a year prior, during a battle against forces under the command of Anaxelum Regillus, he and I were cast into Norcan Dar by the vagaries of a Tempest portal. While surviving in that horrid place, he and I settled upon an agreement; namely, we would work together, he under my command, to escape Norcan Dar either to the Tempest Realm or Shaintar, whichever proved possible. If I were to land in his realm, he would place me under his protection and I, in turn, would raise no hand against him or those he served until such time as I could return to my own realm. He agreed to the same.

As fate happened, we managed to return to Shaintar during Flames disastrous attack on Echer’Naught. After which, he pledged himself to my service and did far more than merely stay his hand. In fact, he acted bravely in defense of his new sanctuary, even going so far as to fall in love and marry one of my own Rangers. When departed the city in search of the Tempest forces he was only completing his agreement with me that he and his men would be allowed to return to the Tempest Realm. More to the point, his plan was to persuade that unit to retreat through their portal and depart our realm. In truth, he was sacrificing himself for us…and he was rewarded by attempted murder, arrest, and to be incarcerated without trial.

My plea done, the Rangers presented their case. Simply that, my agreement with Citizen Regillus was a personal contract, not signed, endorsed or approved by the Rangers, or the civic government of Echer’Naught. As such, so far as the Rangers were concerned, it had no legal standing within their jurisdiction. And sadly, he was accurate. So, with that, the Lieutenant apologetically rested his case.

It was expected. And, for the briefest of moments I felt a sincere pity for the young Ranger. He was merely following orders and did not deserve what came next. However, my honor was at stake. More than that, my Rangers.

And so, with great solemnity, I un-clipped my cloak and laid it on the table before me. It was at this moment that I noted a distinct patina of sweat on the brow of the young advocate for the Rangers. All now rested on how deep Sir Halten’s hatred for the Rangers truly ran, and did he despise me more personally, or the cloak.

Seeing that I had not “standing” in Ranger court, I then challenged the Ranger’s right to hold Citizen Regillus based upon my standing as a Baron of Olara. By arresting him for holding true to his oath to me, they, in turn, broke my word to him thereby dishonored me, my House, my city, and worse the King. So, by ancient rite, I challenged the advocate to Trial by Combat. Extreme though it was, I found myself few options.

He, understandably was stunned. After a brief, and frantic counsel with his superiors, he pleaded with the court to cease this, I think he said nonsense. Here was the pivot point. In any battle, there are moments one which everything hangs…one charge, one retreat, one word from the Sheriff could have condemned Anaxelum and me along with him. But, disdain for the Rangers triumphed and Sir Halten followed the same tortuous logic I had hammered out with Malcom.

To whit: A member of the Blood cannot challenge a citizen of Olara or even a sworn (save for extreme circumstances), and certainly not a foreign citizen. In addition to being gauche, it is highly dishonorable and, it being so, automatically names the challenger the loser of honor. BUT, and here is the master stroke, a member of the Blood MAY challenge any standing member of a Military Order, as the orders treat all members equally in training and responsibility. Though only the Blood may command, any member of the Hammerfall Riders is as equally equipped and trained to stand for the honor of the Order, so in essence, all are at risk of challenge. It is atypical, but still considered legal.

Now, the Rangers are not an Olaran military order, save for the caveat that when the Charter was signed by the Crown, the status, with all right and privileges, was extended to the Ranger Corps as a Greater Military Order. It is upon this foundation from which the Rangers derive ALL authority in Olara. So, in essence, the Grayson’s Gray Rangers are a De Facto Greater Military Order of Olara. And, as such, can be challenged…IF, and only if, the challenge is valid. Considering the grievous and tortuous political considerations, no one has actually attempted to do so…

…until now.

My standing in this matter was specious at best, but “technically” valid. And, to my utter relief, Sir Halten ALSO parsed my intention and, I think, was rather impressed by my adept navigation of Olaran legal systems. This is considering my track record in such endeavors is, arguably, abysmal. Still, he ruled the Challenge valid under Olaran law and ordered the Rangers to Fight or release Anaxelum.

I do not envy their position. And understandably, the young advocate balk about crossing swords with me. Here, however, is where I may have irreparably damaged my position in the Rangers, but in doing, proved a point and, I hope, defeated any future attempts on the part of the Corps to take up this matter again. As he, the Lt. was reluctant to fight, and none of the brass behind him had any intention, I turned to my own Rangers and asked was any there willing to stand and fight for the honor of the corps. For a moment, I feared none would, but Ranger Moldova stood, as did Ranger Amaroth, then others… Soon, most of the stands behind him, from newly minted Rangers, to the most senior members of my command stood…

…and then a voice rang across the court and stopped me short. Citizen Regillus HIMSELF stepped forward to challenge my right for the honor the Rangers. I was, understandably, concerned that the Rangers might actually accept his offer! Of anyone in that room, only the Sheriff and Anaxelum were of much concern… But, that he would fight, and if victorious condemn himself, but fight for the love of his wife and the honor of HER corps…

I was moved to tears. The Ranger brass was flustered. Olaran justice can be…jarring. The Lt. Advocate made a final attempt extricate himself by suggesting a recess. A prudent move, unfortunately, such a challenge cannot be delayed until terms are met…which required SOMEONE to fight me. I think the good Sheriff got a bit into character when he threatened to kill any Ranger who attempted to remove Anaxelum before the challenge was settled.

At long last, faced with a lose lose proposition, the Ranger command relented and Anaxelum was freed…Thank the Light and my Lady Celesia. From the baleful glares cast toward me from the retreating Col. Major, and Lt., I can only imagine what condemnation will fall upon me soon. However, Honor was settled, Anaxelum freed, and my promise to Samira honored. I will face whatever punishment I have due.

With that, I sank to my seat and allowed the tension and nervousness to subside before I even attempted to walk. The courtroom erupted around me, but I heard nothing, just my own heart pounding and Malcom’s quiet mumblings as he shuffled and stacked papers. For the mastermind behind the maneuver, he seemed somewhat miffed by the entire affair. There are times when I wonder if he is truly ally, or not, but he had Evoran’s complete trust, and so he shall have mine.

At any rate, I eventually mastered myself, rose and prepared to leave. I was stopped by a jubilant Sir Halten who seemed both impressed and intrigued by my behavior. I fear I have earned his respect by being devious. Not an aspiration I have ever sought. But there it is. I offered that if he were impressed by my performance in the court, then he might care to join me for my next…event.

Intrigued, he followed, as did most of those present, save the Ranger command who beat a hasty retreat. All proceeded as I had planned.

We made our way out of Centerpointe and south to the Muster Grounds where the Grand Stands had been spruced and hung with Black, Red, and White trim…damned if Fateweaver had not guessed at my game. He is a clever one by half, and no deceit.

I arrived riding beside my lady who looked RADIANT in her fur trimmed coat of black and crimson. We stopped short of the growing crowd and dismounted. Hand in hand, we ascend the platform and I allowed Therel Fateweaver to announce me. I have heard better performances, but he seemed as pleased with the proceedings as Malcom, who also began to set up a station off to the side of the platform.

And so without further ado, I addressed the crowd. So much of my family has been lost in service to the Crown that I have despaired the Wolfhaven House even surviving. And yet, through the sacrifice and good works of my closest friends, and family, we have survived and even reclaimed our lands and title…

And yet, my son is dead, my Sword, Rah-Sahn and Aradove dead or missing, I have no wife yet, and only a sworn and a future knight to my House. Should I fall again, there may be nothing left. To that end, I called once again upon ancient tradition and repeated (paraphrased) the words of my distant ancestor, Chief Ingolf des Reiter, the first Wolfhaven Baron. All Olaran men and women, in good standing with the law, being free from oath or obligation to House or Order may petition to join the Wolfhaven House as free men and women. My invitation was met with an expected moment of stunned silence.

And again, Citizen Anaxelum Regillus both impressed and surprised by stepping forward again and kneeling. He pledge his life to my cause, though he no long her lands or titles to offer. Strange, how closely my own life mirrored his but two years ago.

Then, Gendarre with his usual flair said “fuk it” and stepped forward, his men following suit. Then, one by one, men and women of Olara approached and knelt. In total, thirty two pledged themselves to House Wolfhaven, a fair number of Free Riders and a few City Guard. All told, however, few Rangers, I had expected as much. There are sadly very few Olaran citizens in the Corps, even here in Echer’Naught. Still, I was overwhelmed by the support, and eagerly greeted each new member of my House.

After which, they all stepped to Maclom and a paid Adept for the requisite paperwork and scan. Once complete, each received a blessing from a Priest of Light before donning the Wolfhaven colors and accepting their assignment (dependent on their quality and training). In truly noble fashion, I left the actual work to Malcom and a small staff while I retired to my Manor with my future bride. I am ever torn between being a soldier and desperately wanting to “do the work” and being a commander, noble and being expected to delegate to others. Of course, I’m sure that is not how any of it appeared to the citizens in attendance. One is truly damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

All of this, all of it, happened by mid afternoon on the 8th of Grey Winds. A busy day to say the least. I was heartened to note that Sergeant Whitestone and the rest of Alpha Team took the opportunity to dine at the Wayfarer’s Rest that even. I have seen a change in them, a casual closeness. This is good. I, however, made preparations and had conversations with my betrothed.

She has a plan, not a good plan, nor one I approve…but, she may be the only one who can save us all, and those taken by Darkness.

Over the next week, I made preparations and tried to talk Lady Elyanna out of her scheme. The former was successful. By the 14th, I invited my friends and close associations to a dinner at my Manor. Lady Zathlan looked quite regal. In fact, all the Rangers looked hale and healthy. Of course, Ranger Amaroth and Anaxelum sported their new colors. In deference to his position, I extended him the courtesy of honoring his rank and station among the Tempest.

He joined my House as Sir Regillus, and his lady, the noble Ravenwood looked beautiful upon his arm.

I, of course, was outshone by my own love, who outdid herself in making all feel welcomed. We sat and ate, then, over the course of the evening, most guests retired leaving only my house and a handful or Rangers.

Fortuitous that. At, I say a quarter past 11 on the 14th, there was a great commotion outside. Every Ranger, nay, my entire House save for my beloved, drew weapons. How swiftly we went from a homely scene of children playing on the carpet before a roaring fire surrounded by family to an armed warband…

Nevertheless, My personal Wolf Guard, composed of Gendarre, his men, and a handful of Wolfhaven Riders, escorted a wild and dishelved Malcom into my home.

He was wearing a thin night shift, and one of those pointed tasseled caps. His feet were bare and already blistering from running through the snow. He looked like a madman, wild eyed and shouting nonsense while showering us all in loose leafed parchment…

It was…bizarre. After a few moments, he stopped shouting, “Its not a disease!” long enough for us to get some semblance of rational explanation for his behavior.

He explained, in a loud and rambling fashion that Vainar’s Bane, the new Plague wasn’t a plague but a weapon, akin to Ognash’s Call. In fact, he proposed that Vainar’s forces intentionally spread the rumor that is WAS the plague reborn to hamper our efforts to diagnose.

He also explained that based on Von Dietrich tomes (all encoded), past reports, and Evoran’s research in Rhion that he had conclusive evidence that agents of Shaya’Nor had been intentionally poisoning our supplies, food and water, for a year. That explained the lack of a patient 0. Moreover, he believed that the earlier, weaker outbreaks in Greenvale were actually a kind of weapon’s test…

Armed with this, we asked how to defeat the weapon. He had not plan for that, but he said that all our food and water sources need to be thoroughly examined for contamination. Immediately. He would return and attempt to ascertain more about possible cures.

We had our mission. I ordered the Rangers to gear up and assemble at my Home in a half turn of the glass, also to alert the Rangers in the HQ to rouse the reserve. I and Sir Volstagg headed to Sir Halten’s estate to beg approval to task his unit, at least his Rangers, to this new task.

To say that he was annoyed at being awoken at such an hour was an understatement. However, he agreed readily and so, I returned to find Rangers arriving, ready for action. We divided into teams and rode to the warehouses where, with the help of the Longhauls and City Watch, we began to systematically deconstruct every crate, every barrel.

The Warehouse investigation began around 1 in the morning on the 15th of Grey Winds and lasted thru to the 20th, working nearly round the clock in shifts. Reports indicate that SOMETHING was discovered, but even our city’s chief Potionmaster was at a loss. Still, there is hope.

On the eve of the 20th, my betrothed petitioned Sir Halten to release the Alpha Team to escort her and Lady Lillithien on a personal trip to the city of Kore to meet an old acquaintance. The Royal Sheriff, so occupied by his own new responsibilities, again acquiesced without much effort. Somehow, I find it odd he and I, fitting into our new roles, almost…I know not. At least Sir Volstagg’s relationship seems to be a good foundation for cooperation. That is heartening.

That very eve, on the 20th, they departed the North Gate under Darkness and secrecy. I am unsure how the cloak and dagger sits with my Rangers, but considering all the threats facing us, I could not risk my enemies, OUR enemies, learning of her departure. Were I forced to choose between my love of Elyanna…and my oaths…I pray I would have the strength to choose rightly…whatever that might be.

Still, watching her ride away was one of the most difficult moments I have faced. I can never become accustomed to watching others head into danger. I am a soldier, it is my duty to fight, and die, not to watch those I adore do so on my behalf. my the Light and the Silver Unicorn keep her safe.

As I returned to my desk, and waited impatiently for the return of the Rangers and news of her safe arrival in Kore, I am left with a sense of hope, but deep melancholy. Even as I sit here, I find myself turning to ask Olgor, or Evoran to hand me a book, or parchment. Watching Lady Elyanna ride away, I was suddenly struck by a scene so many years before watching Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw lead his army south, likely never to return…

And yet, I look around and see determined men and women bearing the colors of House Wolfhaven once again, knowing the risks and likelihood of a worse fate, yet willing nonetheless. And I am overawed by their willingness and their devotion.

My House, my father’s House, once destitute and all but ended, stands stronger than it has since the War of Flame…but it is much changed.

The Wolfhaven House is no more of pure line, and Olaran blood. We now count elves, and Brinchie in our ranks. My right hand once swore an oath to end my life, now married to a Ranger I would consider a daughter… My sword are former bandits, mauraders, mercenaries, and sellswords who have scarified everything in my honor, even before taking my House as theirs… And my closest blood, a Galean knight so far removed he did not even know of our existence until news of my demise reached far shores. Yet here he is, forsaking his own to adopt a House he barely knows.

And what of my future bride? It is not lost on me the uproar our marriage will cause. A Baron, a Lord Mayor willingly wedding a Shayakar, unshadowed as she may be. Lady Elyanna may never be accepted. Our children, should we be so blessed, will find it harder…

But if I have learned one thing from my service to the Rangers it is that our differences, if we can learn to overcome them, strengthen us. We become stronger for instead of all sharing the same faults, and growing predicable and brittle because of… rather, we have strengths where our brothers and sisters are weak, and they, in turn, strength us.

House Wolfhaven may be called a mutt by some within the Blood, but they will hear our Howl, see our teeth, and know that we may be wild, but we are more deadly for it. Which is good, for the fight to come may be our bitterest yet…

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara


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