Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Manor, Echer’Naught, Olara
Seventh Day of Festival Moons, Year 3126 Under the Light
I have lived my life by a simple code of Honor, Duty, and Sacrifice. In all things, I have tried to do right by the Law and my own Code. But, there is a simple truism that as one rises in authority and responsibility, the line between what is right begins to blur.
Should my Rangers have allowed Sir Halten to die at the hands of his own Olaran kin? They would have been within their rights, but would it have been right? The Sheriff’s office has never been particularly close with the Rangers, but could we have allowed such pettiness to affect our decisions? Or, did the relationship between Sir Volstagg and Sir Halten lead to the events which transpired. A relationship that I not only encouraged, but ordered Sir Vosltagg to pursue.
Is vital knowledge usable if gained with ill gotten means? Certainly we would never condone torture, but what about words spoken in confidence? Would Lady Moonsilver betray her oaths to the Farspeakers to save lives? The lives of her family?
Though I did not send Sarah Schenkle into Velkalar’s camp, I knowingly approved the mission and then lied to my fellow Rangers and friends. I looked into her husbands eyes and told him she was a criminal, knowing that she risked all to bring down a madman. But, had I not, she would be dead along with so many others. Was I wrong?
Somewhere, I suspect, someone held the knowledge that Streetrunner’s location had been compromised. Did they weigh their conscience, considering the risk of revealing that knowledge to the Rangers? Did we get a good man or woman killed when the information was made public? And yet, could I have saved Longtail’s husband if we were not so protective of our secrets.
Would that we could all trust each other to be honest, to fight for the same side. But history has proven such as falsehoods. Enemies abound and we can scarcely trust those closest to us for fear that behind their eyes lies a traitor and a villain.
Things were simpler in the war. On the back of a horse, riding into enemy lines, there is only you, your men, and the target.
Yet, sitting here, every thought, every word, every action is fraught with danger. Worse, inaction. Would that I knew no secrets worth keeping. But behind secrets are the lives risking all in faith that I am not the villain.
In the end, I suppose that each man and woman must draw the line in the sand upon which we will not cross and pray the the sum total of our actions, good or ill, will be weighed with kindness in the cold light of posterity.
Ever more often these words come to mind. “Die a hero, or live long enough to become a villain.” Some days, I pray for the honorable death…
Thunder Hawk 30th, 3126
I must confess the joy and utter shock at being reunited with my son and Longtail overwhelmed everything in those first few heady moments. Dimly I recall Sarah Longtail being wed to Commander Eric Schenkle. There was laughter, tears, and a mad, confusing gaggle trailing back up the street to High Towne and the Wolfhaven Manor.
After a time, things began to setting down. I hugged Sarah Schenkle tightly and welcomed Commander Schenkle to our bizarre clan. Though, not a sworn through his marriage to Sarah, he is, nevertheless, a fearless commander and a good man. Seeing her happiness filled my heart, though I could also see the hardness behind her eyes. It is the same I see in Alfred, Longtail…so many of us.
Our laughter always rings a little flat, our smiles just a bit forced. Given a choice would we live lives of simple mediocrity if it meant was need not suffer such indignities? Sadly, I fear any one of us would make the same choices given an opportunity. What does that say about us?
Though, the most difficult moment of the evening was facing Aradove. I knew I had done all in my power to save Streetrunner, and she understood the risks we all face everyday. But, knowing and accepting are very different things. Though our words were private, seeing her again…indescribable.
The party continued as we all laughed, danced, and reunited under a late summer moon. The weather was mercifully cool, despite the heat of the season. My Lady, Baroness Wolfhaven, was a delight. She floated among the guests, speaking easily with all assembled. I wish I had her ease in social situations. Without a mission or objective, I find myself at a loss for what to say. Late into the evening, I was surprised at the arrival of Evelyn (Eve) Afliem. She, apparently, had arrived at the behest of Lady Wolfhaven. They both took their leave to look in on Hawksclaw. It was hoped that her “powers” would be able to undo some of the damage inflicted at the hands of Velkalar and his men. I pray that it would be so.
Sooner, rather than later, my Lady returned and the night began to wind down. The newlyweds entered their carriage and rode away to his household. With that, guests began to break up. I spoke with many that eve, and more in the coming days.
It seems that with our great foe defeated, everyone is contemplating the future. Now that we have some reasonable assurance that a future is even possible.
Thunder Hawk 31st, 3126
In the morning, before the dawn, I asked the Alpha team to attend me in my office at the Regional HQ. Among other things, there was the small detail of the powerful artifacts they were all still carrying. Also, it appeared that the paperwork had not been filed to release Ranger Sebastian from his protective detail. I also need to invite Sir and Lady Volstagg to dinner that eve.
They arrived, Sergeant Minor Longtail and RFC Leaora with them. Malcolm had already arranged for the case, and Alpha team gladly returned the weapons of their former teammates.
Sergeant Volstagg DID warn me about the Ancient Von Dietrich sword. The analysis of the priests who cleansed it and certified it for use, cautioned that while it was not “evil” in the sense of Corruption, it was dangerous. I am glad Sir Volstagg suffered no ill effects from its use.
Also, in an emotional moment, RFC Newt returned to Sergeant Minor Longtail her lo-sska which had been added to the collection upon her “death.”
Then, Malcolm presented Longtail with her “personal effects” box. She now has two. One from her father, and one for herself. Ironically, my own effects had been collected and added to one of the same make. Two thoughts struck me. Who makes these boxes? And, how many Rangers over the years have managed to receive their own death boxes?
I would have preferred to handle the next bit myself, but the agreement with the Sheriff’s office guarantees that he approves, and executes all personel changes. So, with restraint, I bid the team head over to his office. Before they left, I did request that Sergeant Volstagg and RFC Zathlan attend me at my home office that eve.
From the signed papers I know that the following promotions were approved:
- Sergeant Gunther Volstagg was promoted to Lieutenant Volstagg
- Corporal Audric Amaroth was promoted to Sergeant Amaroth
- RFC Durlan Daynore was promoted to Corporal Daynore
- Ranger Grendel was promoted to RFC Grendel
- Ranger Newt was promoted to RFC Newt
The second commendations were placed in the files for both RFC Gracelyn Moldova and RFC Nexus (Zathlan) Volstagg.
The Royal Sheriff, Sir Halten, also covered the team’s impending mission. Last year, an emissary was dispatched to the west to establish ties with the locals and to investigate disturbing rumors. She was escorted by the Long Recon Team, and met with local assets to provide security. Other than regular updates, we had heard little from her. But, a request reached out offices for the Alpha Team (by name) to join her in the independent city-state of Almahrad. We know very little about this small, but rich nation. Apparently, the Emissary is making overtures for official diplomatic relations. To that end, the Alpha Team will be dispatched to facilitate the negotiations and provide security. They depart as soon as able.
After the Alpha Team’s departure, I sat with Sergeant Minor Longtail and asked what she might want to do in the future. I hoped that she would be willing to remain with the Rangers, but truth be told no one would blame her for “getting out.” Thankfully, she wanted to remain, but was done with field work.
Malcolm and I had a few options already prepared for most eventualities. I offered her a position as the Staff NCO in my office. As a Colonel, technically, I ranked a Master Sergeant, but to be honest, I had not found the right fit for senior NCO. To my delight, Longtail accepted the position and the paperwork was finalized on the spot. Malcolm set up her office right outside my door and to the left in a small, vacant office. Interestingly, Sergeant Samira (Ravenwood) Regillus works in the Diplomatic office just around the corner and down the hall. Life is strange at times.
The rest of the day was spent in meetings. I fear most people mistakenly believe that my days are spent leading charges against the enemies of the Southern Kingdoms. While occasionally, I am let out of my offices to do just that, the overwhelming majority of my time is spent siting behind a desk filling out paperwork or sitting in endless meetings.
I was pleased to receive my commission for Alex; a White Silver Cavalry saber, cut down, of course, for a boy. When he is old enough to carry such a blade, he can grow strong with its use. Sir Regillus was perplexed by the gesture, but I have faith Samira can explain to him the concept of gifts for new births.
I managed to escape early and arrived home to find that my Baroness had the house in preparation for the evening meal. Our first as a House. Most of House Wolfhaven Blood and Sworn working in the city were invited. It was to be a thanks and celebration for their service and loyalty. A few notables were otherwise occupied. Sergeant Amaroth was busy putting together supplies and requisitions for the new mission. Paperwork initiated, odd enough, but Sergeant Minor Longtail and her staff. Odd times indeed.
Dinner went well, and by evening, I was sitting at the head of my table with my Lady beside me, Ferradin sitting her lap. To my right, Alfred, Sir Regillus and Lady Samira, with baby Alex in her arms. To our left, Longtil with her three kits crawling over her and, well, everything. Beside her, Sarah Schenkle and Commander Schenkle looking stiff and out of place. Then Rah-Sahn’s mother and sister who have lived with us for years now. My family.
At the appointed hour, Sir Volstagg and Lady Nexus appeared, joining the festivities. I was honored to present them with the gift of an overlarge tub in their home, with dwarven engineered plumbing. Though hardly appropriate, Anaxelum was likely correct in that the tub would be used for “communal bathing and fornication.” I nearly spit my beer at that one. I ALSO gifted them with three days in a villa north of Harken. Owned by a Captain within the Hammerfall Riders, the estate is a beautiful ranch spread which he has little use for as his duties have him posted on the far side of the country. He was kind enough to lend the villa and its staff for the purpose.
To Sarah and Commander Schenkle, House Wolfhaven gifted coin, and leased land at the southern edge of Barony Lands. Sarah has requested to build a “girls school” for education and training. There are few of such things in Olara, but refinement must be taught. The plans are being reviewed for approval.
After presenting the gifts, I retired with the men to the front parlor while the ladies remained in the grande dining hall. It is seldom that I can relax with men of my House. I fear we got a bit carried away as Sir Volstagg desperately tried to instruct Sir Regillus in the “art of relaxation.” I have always been seen as a bit too rigid, but I have met ironwood more flexible that Anaxelum. He shattered seven good chairs in his attempts to “flop”, while Eric Schenkle looked on in mute horror. Alfred found the entire scenario hilarious.
I worry, though. Despite his easy nature and ready smile, I sense a deep wariness in my son. Only those who know him best would see, but he is not nearly as relaxed as he appears. Whatever trials he endured during his undercover mission have left deep and abiding scars.
I had many talks that night, with Lady Zathlan, Sir Volstagg, Sergeant Minor Longtail, and more. Of those conversations, I will say only that it warms my heart to see my Rangers planning for the future. I only hope that all of their dreams might be realized.
Before bed, Lady Wolfhaven informed me that she would be meeting with Lady Nexus in the morn to help instruct her in the ways of Olaran Ladyship. That night, I sent a silent prayer to Archanon and Celesia for the poor young woman. My wife is generous of spirit, and capable of absolutely altruism, but she is also a severe mistress and taskmaster. Of those she commands or instructs, she has little room for foolishness and expects excellent.
Thunder Hawk 32nd, 3126
More meetings. More paperwork. Where Malcolm finds them, I shall never know. He seems content enough with his duties so I try hard not to distress him overmuch. Longtail seemed to be fitting in well. Her staff were just beginning their duties, but seemed capable. She is much as I remember her to be, efficient, careful, and cunning.
It is good to have her watching my back.
Early in the morning I met with Sergeant Amaroth concerning the man he slew during the battle of the Vale. As it happened, I had Rangers collect the body for processing. Everything was inspected and cataloged. Everything, including the autopsy report was rushed to my office.
He went by many names. His most recent, Kalath Morgram. Upon his death, he served as a recruiter for Velkalar’s forces, having worked for the mercenary army over a year. Prior to that, we know that he served as a bandit and sell-sword for various unsavory companies, prominently with the Maelstrom during the War of Flame. Before THAT, however, he served as a regular in the Kal army.
All of this was turned over to Audric along with the man’s bloodsteel dagger. The truth, sadly, would be found in the Empire. I hope that he is able to find his answers. He deserves as much. I also hope, in doing, that he can overcome his more heated nature and bring the man in for justice, not seek revenge. I fear that that singular moment, whatever choice he makes, will seal his fate, or free him from his bonds.
Whatever befalls him, his team will be there to comfort or destroy him should he fall.
At mid-afternoon, I broke and headed home to prepare for Streetrunner’s Last Call. War makes strange bedfellows. I know that Streetrunner was a criminal, and a thug in his time. But he was also a husband to Longtail, a father, and a good man. Can one be both? Can one makes questionable choices, lead a troubled life, but still be honorable and good? I pray that is so.
For I have sent men and women to their deaths. Sometimes fruitlessly. I hope that I too can find redemption in the end.
We arrived at the Wolfhaven Refuge for Children. We were one of the last to arrive. Already the room was filled with an odd assortment of Rangers, local notables, and “performers” from Low Town. Skullcrusher met us more kindly than usual, but she demanded our papers anyway. She is a formidable woman.
After that, the Last Call. Longtail spoke. Then I. then Volstagg. Then others. It was a solemn affair, made more so in that so few had been there. Only I and Sir Volsagg saw his end. Us and the children. The memory of that still haunts me.
Of note, I need to speak with Longtail about the children’s “extra curricular” activities. I hope her staff is doing their best to curb such illicit tendencies. Like Aradove, these children have survived on cunning and guile, but the purpose of the Orphanage is to provide a refuge, education, and a better life. Not train delinquents, however cute they may be.
My wife and I departed early, not out of disrespect, but moreso to allow the others to relax. I know many in the room felt a distinct awkwardness at my presence, being both Colonel of the Rangers and the Lord-Mayor. So, I paid respect, and departed.
That even, though, I returned at the 13th hour. Orders forbade any official recognition or celebration of Therel Fateweaver, but there were no orders that he could not be honored by his family and Aradove was that. Family.
At my own expense, and through personal channels, I had an urn prepared the Olaran fashion. Though, in deference both to Fateweaver, and to his past iniquities, only his name, There Fateweaver, and his works under that guise were engraved on the surface. He will be remember for who he is, not for what he was.
I know not his sins, I never asked and, to be honest, I do not wish to know. Only, in a moment of unusual frankness he once told me that he sacrificed everything for Love, his name, his honor, his all. But, that stories of his past were told by those who wrote the histories, and not by those who knew the truth. That was all. I never pressed.
Now, the past will remain buried. The Crown has seen justice, and Fateweaver paid for those sins with his life. For my part, I will accept him as he was, criminal, hero, bard, noble, a villain, and a good man. Perhaps one can be all?
Trokash appeared. That orc does get around. He presented me a copy for Davos Olandoran/There Fateweaver’s Completed Works. I admit I was aware that there were those who sought its collection. And, I knew that the Great Library at Rhion kept copies of all Olaran bardic works, even those out of favor with the Crown. I had nothing to do with the collection of said works, my honor would allow no such thing, but I did sign off on the joint taskforce to collect the memories of those who attended the House Zathlan wedding celebration that ended in his death.
The reasons for collecting that information were sound, and had been demanded by the Galeans, the Olarans, and the Rangers. But, I also knew, that friends would have access, it being public record, and it might be used to recreate that seminal piece of art, his last concert. I fully admit my desire to hear him sing, if only an illusion. But, Baron, I could offer nothing in the execution of any endeavors forbidden by the Crown, even if I disagreed personally.
Personal feelings do not superseded duty. Were that not the case, I would find the bastard responsible for those damnable Wolf-Man figures and have him publicly flogged.
As for Fateweaver’s ashes, I never asked how Longtail arranged to collect them. I know she did nothing personally. I also know that they were not stolen, not exactly. Because, after the examination, and the cremation, his ashes were tossed in a midden heap, to be discarded as refuse and forgotten.
Criminal though he may be, would we even treat enemies with such disrespect? Al to serve as a cautionary tale. Should our own stars ever wane, we can expect no more than this, a paupers funeral and to be cast aside and forgotten. I have never once willingly cast aside honor or duty, I would not shame my name in such a way, but there are times when I wonder if our vaunted Olaran pride is not as flawed as those we profess to condemn?
For all his bluster, would Sir Halten not admit as much seeing as that pride nearly cost him his life?
Nevertheless, I honored my Sworn and her mentor, but could do little more. Trokash presented me a copy of the book, which I refused. He then, adeptly, professed outrage at such a refusal. I accepted, if only to keep peace. A mummers farce, perhaps, but an important one.
Trokash had one last gift. The last page of the book, his final work, “The Ballad of the Stagg and Lion” had been bespelled, so that those who laid a hand upon it and uttered the true name, There Fateweaver, Master Bard, would be immediately, and magically, returned to that moment in time, to witness the duet and of Fateweaver and Leaora Nazir serenading the union of Vosltagg and his bride. Fateweavers last, and finest work.
The controversial tome in hand, I departed then and returned to my bed. But I could not sleep. Are we good men? Truly? In a certain light, our feud with Velkalar was one of honor. His story is as tragic as Fateweavers. Some men would call them both villains deserving of their death…but is that right? Or is the truth more complicated? I admit I slept none that night.
Conscience and honor. Can both be met, or only one at the expense of the other?
Thunder Hawk 33rd, 3126
Just as well. I was alerted by Lady Moonsilver that a body had been found. Alpha Team, still communing at the Orphanage were dispatched to “Mitty’s” establishment. He, the goblin fight promoter and trainer who ran a gym long suspected a front for Velakalar, and also believe to provide “muscle” for his local operations.
In a twist of fate, Danica was in the city, on leave for her work with the Olarans. She had, in another life, gone under cover in Mitty’s crew as a fighter. Danica knew more about his operations than any other Ranger, so she was summoned by our chief investigator, Lt. Barand.
When the Alpha Team arrived, they found the fight club littered with the bodies of Mitty’s former associates and Lt. Barand’s team processing the scene. Barand led them to Mitty’s back office where they found the goblin tied to a chair, tortured, and killed by pouring molten gold down his throat.
Corporal Daynore posited that the gold might represent the “Golden River” of Red Store or the Dominion. Perhaps Red Store is taking out the competition now that Velkalar is dead. Lieutenant Volstagg suggested that this looked like punishment of a snitch. It could be that Velkalar loyalist were cleaning house. Whatever the truth, I fear that the power vacuum of Velkalar’s removal will spark an all-new shadow war as various faction vie for dominance in the underworld.
A troubling prospect.
Lt. Baranad and his adept reviewed the older cases with the team, and have put in requests for that information to be compared to existing accounts. Perhaps some new piece of information might be remembered.
Danica noted that a number of Mitty’s closest associates were not among the dead. Alerts have gone out, and their sketches have been posted at every gate in the city. If they remain alive, they will be found.
Festival Moons 1st, 3126
It should not affect my now, losing members of my teams after so many years, so many Rangers. However, it does. Though, I much prefer to lose Rangers to leave, retirement, or transfers rather than the alternative.
Per her request, I allowed RFC Moldova to inform the team herself. She requested leave for “personal reasons” and left the team. In one of those twists of fate, Danica was herself on leave from the Olarans and was available to rejoin the team. I approved it.
With hope, she will remain for a greater length during this tour. Of better note, Ranger Sebastian’s promotion cleared.
Sebastian was promoted to RFC Sebastian.
In the happiest news, Sir Volstagg and his blushing bride departed Echer’Naught on their honeymoon in Harken. Two days to the city, three days of bliss, and two days back. They were scheduled to return the 7th.
More meetings. More information. More investigations.
So far, nothing has turned up on the missing Mitty’s men. Also, no word on RFC Moldova’s brother or his team, other than the one which died in the explosion at Velkalar’s Vale Gate.
After each Victory, another battle, another foe. It never seems to end. And with it, the choices get harder. The lines…blur.
But, as I sit here, in the cool of the eve, Rah-Sahn breathing easily, Eris asleep by his side, I listen to the sounds of the household. Ferradin chasing the cat, oh, we have a cat now. My wife, chasing after him. In the hall, I can hear Alex fussing, Samira singing softly. Anaxelum murmurs something low.
Outside, in the yard, Wolf’s Guard chat, laugh. I hear the Sergeant of the Guard making the rounds, exchanging the pass phrase in hushed tones. All clear.
The enemies will come. They always do. Both outside our ranks, and within. But we will face them as we always do. Together. And, we will prevail.