Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Manor, Echer’Naught, Olara
Thirty Third Day of Festival Moons, Year 3126 Under the Light
If we could afford the cost, I would put Farspeakers in every team. Corporal Daynore has proved himself a most valuable resource. Via his connection with Farspeaker Moonsilver, we have nearly instant updates on the Alpha Team’s mission to Almahrad. I can now divulge their destination as our enemies most certainly know the team’s location by now.
Festival Moons 7th, 3126
Sir and Lady Volstagg return late in the eve from their honeymoon in my friend’s Harken estate. Though I have never actually been to that particular home, I hear that it is most beautiful from spring to fall. From Sir Volstagg’s description, it was like sailing a sea of gold. And, for once, the heat was not as oppressive. I hope they made the most of their short respite. I have learned through bitter experience that we must bask in the light while the sun shines, for there will ever be shadows, darkness, and cold…
Festival Moons 8th, 3126
My day was met with news both boon and ill. Ranger Sara Schenkle (Longtail) of House Wolfhaven formally retired from the Rangers this morning. She explained that her duty to our Corps was one of the most cherished facets of her life. However, her experiences under deep cover had left her feeling detached, and hesitant.
She wished to put the pain behind her and move forward with her new husband, Commander Eric Schenkle. I could not have been more pleased, though I was loathe to lose her. And, in recognition of her exemplary service, her rank was promoted to Ranger First Class, and she was awarded a full, if small, pension for completion of a full three year contract.
On somewhat better news, a new arrival graced us with her presence. Ranna. She is an ogress, and crossbowman to boot. I have heard legends of the ogre heavy crossbow teams. More walking siege towers than warriors. I expect Lieutenant Volstagg to make great use of her skills. I also hope that she and Grendel are able to bond and find common experience being both ogres.
Worse news, after the Alpha Team’s meeting with Sir Halten at his manor, briefing on the mission, I was alarmed to hear fire bells in the streets. I, and much of my staff, rushed to offer aid, fire being a constant hazard in the city, where I came upon a strange sight. The courtyard of Sir Halten’s keep ablaze, Sir Halten himself laughing amidst the chaos as his household battled the blase, and his wife, the formidable Lady Halten, berating him and screeching in a voice that has seared into my memory. Seeing he had the situation well in hand, my Rangers and I beat a hasty retreat.
Later, I received a report. Apparently, the good lady found his manor “dank and dingy,” so she ordered something akin to 3000 candles to be lit in the halls to add light and atmosphere. Predictably, flame met curtain and the rest is the natural course of nature. Ultimately, the Lady claimed that the manor needed a remodel anyway and I saw construction crews on sight the following morning.
Sir Halten has, strangely, taken up residence with an associate elsewhere in High Towne. There is still the curious report of a broken wagon. It seems that just prior to the blaze, one of Halten’s hostlers reported that one of the wall tower ballista had shot one of Lady Halten’s wagons, running some of her personal effects. Which, would most likely have been a cause for uproar if the wagon, bolt, and effects not all burned moments later. Still, I have the entire city doing a thorough inventory of every bolt, arrow, and quarrel in the City Watch and the Rangers.
None are pleased with the extra work, but it should do well to instruct them NOT to be careless with their ammunition. If someone had been harmed…
Festival Moons 9th, 3126
I have heard that my Rangers, namely Sir and Lady Volstagg, and Sergeant Amaroth and RFC Moldova, quite enjoyed themselves at the Wayfarer’s Rest on this particular eve. I had not been made aware of a budding relationship between the dour “The Bloody” and the gentle pacifistic. Opposites attract? I hope their relationship had no bearing on her choice to depart the Rangers. That would disappoint me greatly. But, I cannot begrudge their finding happiness among all this pain and death.
Duty weighs like a mountain.
I would ALSO note that Captain Vasser, via Sir Halten’s runner, informed me that three of my Rangers, RFC Serys, Ranger Johns, and Trainee Ranna engaged in some extracurricular bounty hunting? They retrieved the bodies of three wanted felons. The Warrant was dead or alive, and they were turned in most assuredly dead. On the one hand, I dislike my Rangers, even on personal time, hiring out a killers. On the other hand, their actions were legal, and within keeping with Olaran law, which also keeps with the Charter. The entire incident is unsettling, but I am electing to refrain involvement…for the time.
Festival Moons 10th, 3126
In the early morning, Alpha Team departs the west (Elven) gate heading along the Greenway Road toward Eldara. I know at this point the team would be unaware of their destination, just that they were being dispatched on a “Diplomatic Mission.” Still, they seemed in good spirits as the headed west.
Festival Moons 12th, 3126
Alpha Team arrived in Erda’Meias. It has been reported that the Alpha Team in particular were very well received as they brought relief from the plague.
Festival Moons 15th, 3126
Alpha Team arrived in Eldara. Here, the Rangers bunked at the local HQ, while Corporal Daynore and RFC Nazir sought passage on a riverboat headed to the coast. Again, I cannot fault the results, but I am not particularly predisposed to Lady Nazir’s method of “negotiation,” regardless of how spectacularly successful she might have been.
Nevertheless, Alpha Team secured passage aboard an Elven Swan Boat, a treat I myself have never experienced.
Festival Moons 16t,. 3126
Alpha Team departed Eldara headed South toward Eastport aboard the Elven Swan Boat. Only RFC Danica took her mount, Muriel. All others were left in the elven capital.
Festival Moons 18th, 3126
Reports indicate that the team reached Loreli about mid day. Lieutenant Volstagg reported in to the local HQ.
Festival Moons 20th, 3126
Alpha Team passed Syvan in the morning.
Festival Moons 22nd, 3126
Alpha Team arrives is in Eastport. The first order of business, Lieutenant Volstagg reported to Captain Roberts of the Sea Ranger, a trusted associate. Their gear was stowed and the Rangers were allowed an evening to relax before beginning their sea voyage.
Festival Moons 23rd, 3126
Onboard the War Caravel Sea Ranger, under command of Captain Roberts, the Alpha Team departs for their final destination. Once in open waters, Captain Roberts and Lieutenant Volstagg meet in the captain’s room to read their orders. The Captain is instructed to sail the team to Granite Port and wait in port until Alpha Team makes arrangements with their contact in the dwarvish port.
Lieutenant Volstagg is ordered to proceed to Granite Port. There, he will be an associate of the Emissary who will make arrangements for final travel to the independent city of Almahrad. With that, the ship turns west and beats toward Granite Port.
Festival Moons 29th, 3126
The Sea Ranger arrives in Granite Port and the Alpha Team disembarks. I have never seen the port myself, but I have heard that it hosts marvels barely imagined. As described once by Therel Fateweaver who traveled widely,
“Granite Port is the sole Dwarven seawater port in the whole of Shaintar. Built into the foothills of the Black Mountains, the port is carved out of the southernmost cliffs, before spilling out into the lower marsh and tidelands. Everything in Granite port is granite, from the peers, to the shops, docks, and fortifications. What makes the port most remarkable are: A) dwarven sailors, entire clans of shanty singing, sea swept, gruff sailors, B) massive mechanical and clockwork booms and cranes, hauling tonnes of cargo out of the bellies of the beasts, C) iron ships with massive wheels, gears, and sails. Some of the smaller vessels even has what appear to be massive, hissing engines."
It is a wonder I hope to one day behold in person. Nevertheless, once on dry land, the Rangers headed to the largest Granite Inn and Alehouse where they managed to find lodging in the bustling seaport establishment. Here too, was running hot and cold water, massive fires and ovens, and every conceivable mechanical contrivance.
The Rangers bunked for the night. Even the ogres found rooms inside. That eve, they all had succulent meals from across the sea, before getting a full night of undisturbed rest.
Festival Moons 30th, 3126
In the morning, Lieutenant Volstagg apparently challenged the owner to provide a unique meal. And, with that, they were served Kraken!!! If that is to be believed. It was at this time, they were approached by their contact, an A’kavir, one of the Emissaries trusted associates.
He informed the Rangers that a ship waited for them at the headwaters and could leave then, or in the morning. Not wanting to remain in the open, Lieutenant Volstagg ordered the team to move while Corporal Daynore contact Captain Roberts and released he and his ship from service.
RFC Danica was forced to settled Muriel’s bar tab as the irascible mule had managed to raid the ale larder. With that handled, the Alpha Team headed on foot, with Muriel in tow, to a point where the Granite River flowed into the sea. Here, was docked a massive two masted galley! Oh to have seen such a sight.
Once aboard, the crew, two rowers to a side, began to pull away north, up the river toward the Black Mountains. Starting in the early morn, the rowers pulled for 10 hours, arriving in later afternoon at rising cliffs of the Black Mountains. Here, the galley reefed sail and slipped into a narrow cut through the rock face, carved over eons by the flowing river.
Just beyond, the Rangers entered a large, hidden valley of lush forests, farmlands, and fisheries. And, on the horizon, the Great City of Almahrad glittering like a jewel in the dying of the day’s light. Lady Moonsilver, upon seeing the image relayed by Corporal Daynore said one could weep for the beauty of it.
Just as darkness fell, cooling the hot valley, the galley pulled up at the Stone Docks, dwarven built like the Granite Port south of Almahrad. Here, they were met with an armed escort sent by the Emissary. The Rangers were then led by A’kavir through the city from the lowest tier to the upper, describing along the way each district’s unique essence and culture. As relayed by Farspeaker Daynore,
“Almahrad is a beautiful four tier city nestled at the base of the Black Mountains. It sits like a jewel at the north end of a hidden, lush, and verdant valley fed by the Granite river which flows through, and around the_ city in beautiful cascading waterfalls. The valley is safely reached via a narrow river cavern from the south, from the east mountain pass from Three Points, or from the West mountain branch where the LowHome road turns south toward Daltor.
Just outside the Southern gate, in the lowest tier, are the Stone Docks encompassing the Port area full of shops, fisheries, and netmakers. Within the walls are warehouses, and river trade district. Here, the dwarven metal and stonesmithes from Granite Port mingle with the traders and craftsmen of the city. The air is tinged with the scent of salt, soot, spice, and fish.
Up the main rode, finds the second tier. Here, the East and West gate roads meet in the Grande Bazaar. Dwarvencraft from Temper and Granite Port, exotic goods from the Desert Princes (via Low Home and Daltor), fine Malakaran goods from Lann and Centerport, and every concievalbe rare find fed from Sunset, Granite Port, and Westport, all converge in one of the worlds largest open air markets. All can be found for a price. And, these raw materials are taken and refined into the finest crafts by the artisans of Almahrad.
Nestled in the hanging gardens, the frescoed porticos of the third tier are the homes and studios of the famed artisans of Almahrad. None outside the city understand why the crafts of the city are so exquisite, but their perfection cannot be ignored. Here is the heart of the city, the prize and fame of Almahrad.
In the fourth, and last tier, sits the higher noble houses, and grande palace. From their lofty perch, the blood of Almahrad controls the money and power of the city, forging alliances, playing the game, and ensuring the independence and prosperity of the city.
Outside, in the valley are nestled farms, fisheries, and limited wood harvesting. Just enough to provide basic necessities, but the life’s blood of Almahrad is trade; trade and artisans."
When the party reaches the fourth and highest city tier, A’kavir escorts the Alpha Team to a beautiful Noble manor full of airy walkways, porticoes, gardens, and fountains in sandstone and marble. Upon arrival, each Ranger, or couple, is given their own private room, though lacking in doors, it seems, and a banquet of fresh and dried fruit, dried fish, figs, dates, and other local delicacies. Also, cool water to bath, and local garb already provided as the climate is hotter and dryer during the summer months than our native lands.
Once refreshed, Lieutenant Volstagg and RFC Zathlan were escorted to finally meet the Emissary. I had met her, or him, over a year prior before sending the Long Recon Team to escort the emissary on the survey mission into the Eternal Sands. I found the Emissary to be courteous, intelligent, but ambitious. I suppose that would be a necessary trait given his or her line of work.
From what I gather, the Emissary had “arranged” for a local noble to turn over his estate as the base of operations for the Emissary. When the Rangers arrived, he, or she, was reclining on pillows, as is the custom in that land, dressed from head to toe in emerald robes of fine silk and Paradise cotton. Only the Emissaries eyes could be seen.
The Emissary explained that the Rangers were there to assist in establishing diplomatic relations with Almahrad and then to help investigate the growing unrest in the Eternal Sands. They also had an audience with the Prince of Almahrad in the morning. It would be their first opportunity to impress and ingratiate themselves with the ruling family.
They would also be denied weapons outside of the manor grounds. I am aware that both Sergeant Amaroth and RFC Danica found great difficulty with this order, but they complied.
RFC Leora and Ranger Newt elected to remain with the Emissary in the Estate for the duration, at the Emissary’s request. Her man, A’kavir would accompany the Rangers, while the bard and the brinchie would protect the Emissary.
Festival Moons 31st, 3126
In the morning, A’kavir prepared Lieutenant Volstagg and Corporal Daynore in the traditional garb of the kingdom for their meeting with the Prince. They arrive early to find the Prince and Princess Velthana, and the kingdom’s Vizier awaiting them in the throne room, a long and columned, open air room. Per reports, Lieutenant Volstagg was the perfect guest and representative. Corporal Daynore even provided the Prince a gift of an everwood flute that he carved for the occasion.
As I understand, the Prince was MOST interested in Lieutenant Volstagg’s dueling record. The prince, it has been reported, is a duelist himself and I can imagine he would be intrigued by the Olaran Knight’s prowess. But, as it happened, it was not the Ranger’s skill with a blade he sought to test, but the Ranger ability to investigate crimes.
As they stood before the Crowned Prince, a prisoner was brought forth in chains. One, Al’Sahi, Master Painter. The poor, disheveled man had been accused of murdering his partner, Abin’Awahi. The murder had transpired three days prior. But, the report was that Al’Sahi had accosted his partner in a cafe in the morning, demanding money for back rent on their studio and threatening to kill Abin’Awahi when he refused to pay because he had spent all his funds buying a Masterwork Painting.
According to the City Guards, they responded to the house about an hour later to find Al’Sahi standing over the body of his partner while holding the bloody murder weapon. The Guards arrested Al’Sahi and he was scheduled for execution in three days. Al’Sahi claimed innocence, and the princess seemed to believe him genuine. Prince Velthana offered the Rangers three day to prove the condemned man’s innocence or guilt.
Corporal Daynore confirmed that the condemned Al’Sahi believed he was innocent. He also noted, while using his abilities, that the Prince, Princess, Vizier and many of the guards were all magically protected.
To Corporal Daynore’s mental probing, Al’Sahi admitted to accosting his partner, but after cooling off for a bit, Al’Sahi claimed he returned to his studio, but realized that he had forgotten his keys at home. He was about to return to his home nearby when he said to have heard a commotion within. And, the door was unlocked. Entering, the found the studio dark, all shades drawn, and as he moved inside he tripped over something. Stunned, his had brushed something which he unwittingly picked up. Only then did he realize he had fallen over the body of his slain partner, and he was covered in blood. That, and he now held a bloody sword. That is when the guards busted in. That is all he knew. He begged the Rangers to prove him innocent.
Dismissed, the Rangers assembled at the Emissary’s manor before heading off to the murder sight, the Paint Studio. Before departing, A’kavir informed Lieutenant Volstagg that the Prince was permitting HIM to bear a sword. Volstagg immediately strapped his longsword before heading out. Led by A’kavir, they arrived to find a small, but quaint studio off a small courtyard. There were two City Guards out front who confirmed that no one had entered or disturbed the site since the arrest of the painter. Inside, the Rangers confirmed the location of the body via dried bloodstains, though they found no sign of the masterwork painting. More curious, Ranger Grendel and Trainee Ranna discovered that the back door and the rear courtyard gates were also unlatched. Which would mean that every door to the studio was unlocked, but all the shades were drawn closed. Curious.
The guards outside were the very same to originally respond to the murder. They confirmed that a local citizen, a young woman, had rushed up to them claiming of a commotion in a nearby studio. When the arrived, the found the door open. Entering, they found Al’Sahi standing over the corpse of his partner, the bloody murder weapon still in his hand. They saw no one else in the studio, nor did anyone leave the rear while they were present. Though, they reported that a small crowd of onlookers had been drawn by the noise by the time they arrived, though none claimed to have seen anyone aside from Al’Sahi.
From there, the Rangers headed to the Al’Sahi’s house to find it locked. Sergeant Amaroth picked the lock, and the Rangers entered to find a spartan apartment. Clean, with a bit of stale food, about three days old. Curious, they found no keys. Nor could Al’Sahi have locked his own house without keys. Meaning, his keys were lost, or stolen, between his house and the cafe. Also, no sign of the painting.
The next task for the Rangers was to locate the who sold the painting to the deceased Abin’Awahi? For this, the Rangers, led as always by A’kavir, headed back to the palace to speak with the Al’Sahi and the Vizier.
Al’Sahi was chained in the heart of a lush garden, surrounded by opulence and comfort while he starved and chafed under heavy chains. Again, Corporal Daynore scanned his mind. This time, Daynore was able to make a rough sketch of the painting so they would know what to look for. From there, to the Vizier.
With a single glance, he determined the painting was a Marishi. He had been regarded as a Grand Master until his demise a decade prior. The Vizier provided the Rangers the only auction house he knew that would handle such a transaction, the Answaran Gallery.
Arriving at the Gallery, the Rangers were at first rebuffed by the Gallery master until A’kavir showed the Prince’s seal. From there, Lieutenant Volstagg, Corporal Daynore, and A’kavir were taken into the private offices while the rest of the team searched the grounds. Corporal Daynore presented his sketch and demanded to see the Gallery records. With bad grace, the Auctioneer produced the records, and they confirmed sale of the Marishi, but under an alias. The seller was equally obscured, but the Gallery owner suggested that only the family could sell such a piece.
When asked who retrieved the sale, he directed them to his dock master. That man, a Nazatiran, confirmed that the piece had been retrieved by Abin’Awahi the night before he was killed.
From there, the Rangers headed to the Marishi Estate. They met lady Marishi. She denied any knowledge or involvement. When Corporal Daynore produced his sketch of her father’s painting, she angrily led them to a central vault, allowed Lieutenant Volstagg, Corporal Daynore, and A’kavir entry and showed them that very painting still in the vault, bolted to the wall. She confirmed that only she and her Head Servant visited the vault, if rarely, and they certainly had not sold it on the black market.
Lord Marishi, the lady’s brother, was summoned. He refused involvement and suggested that he had not entered teh vault since his father’s death over a decade before. He also claimed that he was a disappointment in that he possessed his father’s skills, but not his creativity.
However, during questioning, RFC Danica noted a few oddities about the Lord Marishi. First, he blanched when the forgery was mentioned, and Second, he showed visible fear when he learned that the buyer had been murdered. Still, he professed innocent.
Oddly, though, he embraced Lieutenant Volstagg in a handclasp, a tradition of the Southern Kingdoms. The Rangers noted the unusual nature of such a gesture. After departing, Grendel commented that Lord Marishi smelled of paint, so he had obviously been handling such recently, despite his statement to the contrary.
Despite the lateness of the day, the team returned to the Palace to speak with the Prince. He was dining with the princess on a balcony when the entire team arrived. They began to recount their investigation so far, but he seemed to already know everything they had done. He even knew of their encounter with Marishi even though they had JUST returned from their estate.
They provided all their evidence and their belief that Al’Sahi was innocent. However, the Prince demanded proof. Where was the painting? Who was the killer? They had provided theory, but no evidence. Unless they could provide more, Al’Sahi would be executed.
With few leads left, they excused themselves from the prince and went to rouse the Vizier from his bed. In bad humours, the escorted them to the armory and allowed them to examine the murder weapon, a fine scimitar, if unadorned. It seemed unremarkable, but a find blade mostly likely carried by a noble.
At this point, being WELL passed the time most people would be sleeping, A’kavir suggest the team might eat and rest as they had not paused in their pursuit all day. Suddenly tired, and very hungry, the team returned to the Emissary’s manor to eat a late dinner, and sleep.
Festival Moons 32nd, 3126
Rising before dawn on the 32nd, the team resumed their investigation. This morn, they headed to the cafe of the initial confrontation. The proprietor confirmed everything that had been reported. He never saw the young woman who approached the guards. And, he only knew of the murder via news and rumor. Nevertheless, the team was certain Al’Sahi was innocent of murder, and there was great suspicion that Lord Marishi was involved in forgery and illegal auction of the painting, but they were still undecided on who murdered Abin’Awahi.
The Team headed back to Al’Sahi’s studio and confirmed, via scent that the painting had been there, and they found the unique burlap of the Answaran Auction Gallery, but could not track the painting, if it even still existed. All leads followed, they were stuck. Without some proof, they could not proceed. And, answers could only be found with the Marishi House. It was a risk, if they failed, it would likely cost Lieutenant Volstagg his life. But, without the evidence, they had nothing.
So, Lieutenant Volstagg sent the rest of the team to the Emissary’s Estate along with Volstagg’s sword. Then, taking Corporal Daynore and A’kavir, headed back to the Marishi Estate. This time, they were stopped at the gates by the Marishi Guard. It required A’kavir to demand entry in the name of the Prince. As the guards opened the gates wide, A’kavir noted to Lieutenant Volstagg that if they failed here, they would surely be executed.
Within, they found both Lady and Lord Marishi waiting, as well as their Head Servant. Again, Lady Marishi denied any knowledge of involvement and grew quickly hostile. But, Lieutenant Volstagg directed his questions at Lord Marishi who was reluctant. However, when A’kavir threatened to take the matter before the Prince, the Lord finally relented and admitted that he had forged the painting and sold it via blind auction to Abin’Awahi under alias, he still claimed innocence in the murder. Furious, the Lady Marishi demanded he leave.
Corporal Daynore requested to review the armory to compare the Marishi weapons to the murder weapon. Angrily, Lady Marishi complied and when the Rangers reviewed the armory inventory, they discovered one of the House scimitars was missing. In a fury, she demanded the Rangers arrest her brother. The Rangers asked to take one of the house scimitars and she snapped they could take them all. So, as he was allowed to bear weapons in the 3rd and 4th tiers, Lieutenant Volstagg slipped a scimitar into his belt.
Here, Lieutenant Volstagg asked who had actually taken the painting to the auction house and Lord Marishi admitted that their head servant had done so. Enraged, Lady Marishi demanded the Rangers take both men. A’kavir kept eyes on the Lord and his servant while Lieutenant Volstagg and Corporal Daynore searched the servants rooms where they found a set of keys.
With this evidence, they departed, leaving the Lord and the servant. Making their way first to the Estate to collect their team, and have Grendel smell the keys for verification, he confirmed they were covered in paint scents, the Rangers headed immediately to the palace and the Prince.
When the arrived, Prince and Princess Velthana awaited in the long, columned throne room, flanked on each column by guards, and standing just off their dais, the Vizier, just as they had when the Rangers first arrived. Under two guards, knelt the beaten and battered Al’Sahi awaiting his judgement.
The Rangers arrived, in a group, Volstagg surrendering his blade to a guard before entering the Prince’s presence. Once, admitted, they knelt and presented their case. They asked Al’Sahi to describe his keys, and Corporal Daynore was again allowed to use his powers in the throne room. He confirmed that the keys Al’Sahi described were those recovered from the Marishi House Head Servant’s personal quarters.
As they began, the Prince had both Lord Marhishi and his Head Servant brought in to testify. The Rangers reported that the murder had stolen Al’Sahi’s keys the morning of the murder and used them to enter the studio to steal the painting. In the process, he was surprised, or surprised Abin’Awahi and murdered him in the dark. It was crude work, not that of a warrior, or a noble.
Then, the killer stole the painting and fled out the back, leaving the back door and courtyard gate unlatched. Neighbors heard the commotion and alerted the guards. Unfortunately, Al’Sahi was just outside and entered, falling over the corpse and being found by the Guards.
The painting was a forgery, created by Lord Marishi, who admitted as such when demanded by the Prince, but he again claimed innocence in the murder. Here, the Head Servant stepped forward and confessed to taking the scimitar, following Abin’Awahi, stealing Al’Sahi’s keys, killing Abin’Awahi, and escaping as Al’Sahi entered. He claimed Lord Marishi was totally innocent in the murder, and had no knowledge. He claimed full responsibility.
The Prince was most pleased by the Rangers. In three days they had solved a murder, freed and innocent man, AND shut down an illegal forgery operation of one of the Great Masters of the city. Lord Marishi was stripped of his title and property, and then banished from the realm upon pain of death. Al’Sahi was released. The Head Servant was sentenced to death and lead away. He claimed to have no regrets.
As for the Rangers, in recognition for their amazing talent, the Prince hosted a feast in their honor that very eve. And, as a gift to thank him for leading the investigation, the Prince offered Volstagg the Headman’s axe. To him would fall the execution.
It is hard thing to take a man’s life. I know. In battle, there is a sense of chaos, everything happens so fast, so violently. You are trying to survive. Killing in combat is entirely survival. You have to kill them before they kill you. But executions are different. No one is threatening you. It goes against everything within a Knight to kill an unarmed, defenseless man.
But justice must be served. I cannot say I agree with the Prince in this, but I also believe that without consequence, often lethal, laws mean little. Upon hearing of this news, y heart sank. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Lieutenant Volstagg’s courage and fortitude in this matter.
With the confessions, the investigation was concluded, as was the audience. Prince Velthana dismissed the Rangers until that eve.
Back at the Emissary’s Estate, the Rangers prepared for the banquet, while mulling over recent events. It was not lost upon them that they had utterly destroyed the Marishi House. Just the taxes and penalties alone for the illegal sale of forgeries would ruin them, not to mention their loss of status.
Lord Marishi banished in poverty, the servant dead. And, they would soon learn that Al’Sahi’s hands were so damaged during his interrogation that he would likely never paint again. Justice bears a heavy price.
I know not if they decided to individuals, or as a group, but when the time for the banquet arrived, the Alpha Team had elected to wear their own garb, not that of Almahrad. Volstagg wore his heirloom armor, carrying his longsword, as per the Prince’s invitation. Lady Volstagg wore the colors of her House, with the Ranger Cloak and clasp. Sergeant Amaroth bore House Wolfhaven Colors, and Corporal Daynore wore his uniform and Night Chain. Danica wore her Golden Grphons color and the others, Grendel, Ranna, Newt and Seyrs bore their Ranger cloaks with pride. Leaora went as a bard, as ever. And the Emissary wore the silks of Almahrad nobility.
They must have been quite a site entering the Prince’s gardens. Lieutenant and his Lady were permitted to sit at the Prince’s own table. The Rangers were given pride of place just below.
Prince Velthana welcomed the Rangers and thanked them for their exemplary service to his City. He introduced them to the court before beginning the meal. At the height of the eve, the Prince clapped his hands and had the condemned brought forth in chains. He then turned to Lieutenant Volstagg.
Rather than take up his sword, Volstagg ordered a crossbeam, rope and stool be erected. Before the eyes of the court, the servants built a gallows in the garden, and the Servant was ordered to place his own head in the noose. Without taking his eyes off the Prince, the man complied.
The Prince offered him last words. All he said was, “I have no regret.” Then, with a word from the Prince, Volstagg kicked the stool and the assembled nobility watched in shock as the man died.
Once Lieutenant Volstagg had confirmed his death, the Prince ordered he be taken down and given a proper burial. Then, the evening continued, though understandably subdued. Later in the eve, before all were dismissed back to the estate, Corporal Daynore gifted the Prince once more, this time with a carved Karken barb. For his generosity and “peasants skill,” the Prince offered to introduce Daynore to one of the city’s Master Carvers.
Festival Moons 33rd, 3126
They only returned to the Emissary’s Estate early on the morning of the 33rd of Festival Moons. Tired, troubled, but successful, the Rangers at the very least were able then to enjoy the beauty around them as they waited for the next task or summons.
I could not be prouder of Alpha Team’s performance. There are Ranger teams that categorically refuse Diplomatic encounters. Without something to hit or kill, they seem impotent. Yet, my Alphas understand that power is not measured in martial power, nor is success measured in the corpses of your enemies. True power is the ability to create alliances, and harmony so as to create. Yes, violence is necessary, sadly often, but the Alpha Team has proven beyond doubt why the are the premier Ranger unit in Echer’Naught.
At home, in Echer’Naught, things continue. Sergeant Minor Longtail continues to train her staff, and I note spends many lunches with Sergeant Samira Regillus. It is pleasing to see such friendships growing. Family is vital to our shared strength.
Sir Halten continues to adjust to his new circumstances. Though, I fear that his Lady might soon begin to interfere with joint operations. Hopefully, he will manage to sort his personal finances. Im sure they would both be happier.
RFC Nazir’s Elven/Olaran project continues apace. The new leaders are proving capable, with help from High Druidess Treesinger.
My own projects continue. Though the announcement has been made to improve the city’s governance, the loss of the Seneschal has set us back. A replacement must be found before we can fully move forward. And, as always, there are new problems. Petty crime and gang activity has increased. Under Velkalar, there was a more uniform enemy, now we face dozens of competing factions. So far, their conflict has not spilled out of their own sphere, but the City Watch is ever vigilant against a crime spree.
Reports from the North indicate the White Silver Wolves 3rd and 4th Companies are closing in on Tieren and should be within range to siege within a couple of months. The fighting has been brutal, but with each mile retaken, new allies emerge. Of particular note, the Cavaliers of Camon seem to ever grow in numbers as they throw of ancient shackles.
But, news from the desert grows worse. Despite their victory, the Alpha Team will soon be thrown into that conflict. May the Ascended protect them. I will do what I may, but I fear they will be on their own deep in enemy territory.
Your most obedient servant,
Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel
Ranger Regional Headquarters, Echer’Naught, Olara