Colonel Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Fourth Day of Harvest Moons, Year 3123 Under the Light
On the 9th of Dancing Clouds, I departed the city of Crystara in the company of a small unit of Rangers, a handful of Olaran troops and the entirety of the Hammerfell Company of Echer’Naught. Many of the civilians who remained during the attack turned out to honor us with a hero’s farewell. I was touched by their gifts and their gratitude. If I fought for nothing else, I would fight for these.
Our trip was uneventful, though chilly. Occasional rain and a few frigid mornings heralded the coming of autumn. After 20 days of easy marching, our column arrived in Camp Wolfhaven on the 28th of Dancing Clouds by way for Karas, Southgate, and then Hale. I am much pleased to see the camp so well established.
All four the large tents are properly erected upon each corner around a wide, flat quad centered upon the Olaran Royal Standard, the Ranger Emblem and my personal house colors. To my surprise, and deep pleasure, enterprising soldiers have constructed wooden paneled walls around the base of each hospital tent creating much sturdier, and warmer, lodging for our wounded.
The accompanying military encampment proceeds apace with typical Olaran efficiency. Rows of officer’s tents stretch along a wide avenue parallel to the western face of the quad, opposite the river. Stretching perpendicular to the officer’s street are line upon line of tents along company rows. We now have a veritable city of tents, housing well over a thousand troops. South of the quad, a much less organized, but equally sizable tent community has sprung up to service the troops, doctors, visitors and patients working in and around the Field Hospital.
The north face of the installation remains dedicated solely to defense, devoid of tentage or camps. Strong defensive lines have been dug deep, berms, ditches and palisades all oriented to the north and east. Should the Prelacy wish to threaten our forces again they will find Camp Wolfhaven a tough nut to crack.
To the east of the camp lies the river a short distance away. Hardly a great barrier, the river does provide fresh water to the invalids and creates a bucolic atmosphere to the enterprise.
In all, it is picture perfect.
I could be not be more pleased in the military bearing or industriousness of the men under my command.
We road in, heralded out nearly 15 miles by our advanced scouts and pickets. The terrain around the camp remains nearly saturated by troops and riders. All approaches from any direction will be seen and challenged long before threatening the camp.
I must admit that I took three days of rest before resuming my official duties as base commander. During that time, I toured the wards, speaking with the patients and bringing what comfort I could to the wounded. I also removed my cloak and badges of rank, rolled up my sleeves and turned a shovel with the church laborers erecting the first permanent structure about the camp: a Church of Light.
It felt good to just work; good honest labor.
But, duty called and by the last day of the month of Dancing Clouds, I officially resumed command of Camp Wolfhaven and set about making preparations to carry the camp through the winter into the new year.
From reports, I learned over the next weeks that the battle among the trees of the Crystal Forest was going well. Prelacy forces were being pushed back on all fronts, though not without losses. Without their general, the army had lost its will and drive to win.
The self-same general, at that time, remained under constant guard at an undisclosed location within Camp Wolfhaven. Only a very select number of our people were even permitted access. It required nearly three weeks after our arrival for the interrogation team to arrive from Kythros to take over the man’s questioning. Whatever my personal feeling for the Prelacy may be, I must admit that the man was well trained and dedicated to his cause. It may take time before any actionable intel can be gleaned.
I remained in the camp for a little over a month, through the entirety of Forest Dance. Through considerate negotiation I was able to secure a permanent force of Olaran troops for the camp and, in gratitude, secured supplies from Harken, Hale, Stagg, Tarnn and even promises from Thuls. With winter coming and the Prelacy offensive in a cooling phase, I felt confident turning over command of the Camp to my Executive Officer, Lieutenant Macha Panta.
Based upon his military bearing and conspicuous valor during the entirety of the Crimson Crusade campaign, I feel confident in his abilities to maintain and improve the military and relief readiness of Camp Wolfhaven. For his services and during the time in which he will perform the duties as active commander, I am extending the rank of *Brevet Captain. Permanency of this rank will depend upon the needs of the Ranger Corps and his execution of these duties.
*The title and rank of Captain will only be extended in relation to official duties pertaining to command of Camp Wolfhaven. In all other respect, the Rank of Lieutenant will remain the official rank and privilege.
I was honored to present this command to “Captain” Panta during a private ceremony in our command tent the eve before I departed for Echer’Naught.
On the following morning, 7th of Raining Leaves, I departed saying farewell to friends and allies. My return trip was in relative solitude. Most of my rangers had remained behind in camp to continue their duties. Brother Thaleon had long since returned to Farwatch and the Hammerfell riders had never made the northern turn to Camp Wolfhaven. From Hale, they continued on to Harken and then Echer’Naught. I assume that they arrived back in the town by the end of Dancing Clouds; the 31st or 32nd.
My only companion was a pair of King’s Riders heading in the same direction from Tarnn. They were hardly conversationalist and our trip was swift and in general silence.
My return to Echer’Naught was without fuss or fanfare on the 15th of Raining Leaves. We reached the Dwarven gate just after dusk, making it through as they were being closed and barred for the night. With a nod, I bid farewell to my travel companions and turned Thunder toward my house and the temporary Ranger Outpost.
Yet, no sooner had I reached the gates to High Towne when Eris Moonsilver, our unit Telepath, screamed in my mind with such pain and distress I knew that it could herald but one thing…Hawkslcaw had been wounded or killed.
By Archanon’s Grace, I felt a surge in the savage power of Flame coming from the Mayoral Manse. Thinking of nothing but the safety of my Rangers, I spurred Thunder onward, sprinting the 1/8th mile from the gate to the manse in a matter of heartbeats.
I dismounted at a full gallop and sprinted for the front door of the Lord Mayor’s Manor. In the periphery of my mind, I noted the bodies of fallen guards and servants, but at the time my sole concern was for my men. I hit the Grande Hall like an onrushing tide of horsemen, casting about desperately for the source of Ceyenara’s brutal power.
And then I heard her…Ranger Aradove Longtail…
Perhaps it was her voice, echoing through the halls, perhaps in some way Eris echoed her thoughts to me. Whatever the case I heard, and felt, her fear…and her determination.
Shouting Archanon’s name, I opened my heart to his power of Light and stepped…
…into a basement hallway wreathed in fire and flame.
Coming toward me from the left was a creature from nightmare, a demon cloaked in human flesh, fires of damnation wreathing his hellish form.
At my feet, Hawksclaw clutched his arm, pierced by one of the Flame Archer’s Blood Steel tipped arrows. Behind me, a young man in Harken livery lay prostrate on the ground, an arrow through his right heel. Wreathed in shadows, Longtail ensconced near the boy, lay in ambush weapons free.
I ordered her to “get them clear,” before turning to face the Flame Archer.
Of that battle, I remember little. He began firing his bow faster than humanly possible, those terrible arrows ripping through the air around me, each wreathed in flames. For my part, I desperately threw up my father’s blade as a shield against the onslaught.
I managed to wound the beast, but not before he planted an arrow in my side. It pierced my armor like wax paper and burned as if my innards were alight. Yet, Ceynara’s minion suffered the worse. I cleaved him from hip to shoulder, opening him up. Only the power of the Queen of Hell kept him in this realm.
After he fled, I returned to the Grande Hall and exited the front door to find my Rangers waiting for me. Rildrirr first, one foot on the step, Ice sword in hand prepared to face any and all evil. Behind him Longtail, still more shadow than flesh, swords out, eyes bright. Behind them stood an Eldakar Sorcerer, Evoran Que’kasaars, a new Ranger I knew only by name and reputation.
Before I could even think to speak, Longtail sprinted the distance between us and threw herself into my arms. A warmer and more glorious welcome I could not have hoped for. After sufficient time, I finally set her down and greeted my Rangers in turn, Rildrirr and Evoran.
I asked for a quick situation report from Longtail who explained, in brief, that the Flame Ranger had attacked the Manse to assassinate a prisoner. Hawksclaw had intervened and been struck down. While I had battled the Flame Archer, Rildrirr and Evoran delivered Hawksclaw to the sacred grove for healing. At the same time Longtail and Gendarre’s unit had escorted the young Harken to the Chapel of Light for healing and safety.
Ordering my Rangers to locate and secure the Lord Mayor Von Haber, I went about gathering the survivors of the attack and escorting them out onto the front lawn. It took them no time at all. Longtail went directly to his office and manage to roust him from whatever secure location he and his men had barricaded themselves into.
Von Haber’s relief and gratitude at my return warmed my heart. He briefly, and surprisingly candidly explained the recent political situation which had led to the attack. The day after the mob attacks on High Towne, Festival Moons 32nd, during the Prelacy’s attempts to disrupt Echer’Naught’s supply lines, Lord Harken, the Duchess’ brother, had arrived with an entourage and orders to usurp authority and institute martial law.
After my Rangers managed to intercept the last Prelacy agent within Echer’Naught and force from him a list of names known to associate with Red Store, Lord Harken had demanded that they turn over any and all information regarding Red Store operations within the town, but they also ordered all Ranger operations in regards to Red Store and the Flame Archer were suspended.
This information, which was delivered to Lord Harken on the 1st of Dancing Clouds was not acted upon until the 9th, eight days later. Within that time, the Lord Harken departed for home leaving his 15 year old nephew in charge of operations in Echernaught. They boy, eventually, sent men to take the Red Store operatives, but by the time the Harken men arrived, one of the four was missing.
On the 9th, three men, a customs agent, an import-export individual and a rat-catcher were loaded into a prison wagon and paraded down main-street. At Center Pointe, the convoy was ambushed, the three men were executed in the box, cut down by arrows from the Flame Archer. Both the Royal Sherriff Halten and Sergeant Hawkslcaw arrived on seen moments after the attack, but they were ordered to stand down and return to their normal duties.
Worse, on the same day that Lord Harken arrived, Festival Moons 32nd, an assassin attacked Sergeant Hawksclaw in the streets just outside the outpost. Though Hawksclaw survived the attack due in large part to the Druids of the Sacred Grove, the simple fact that the attack had occurred was disheartening.
Worse, at almost the same moment in Low Town, Longtail learned from her contacts, presumably Fateweaver, that a hit had been placed on the heads of the main Rangers, most specifically Eris Moonsilver, though all my Rangers were in danger.
From the 9th of Dancing Clouds until the 15th of Raining Leaves when I returned, my Rangers closed ranks and went about the duty of healing, repair and regrouping. Throughout the end of Dancing Clouds and through the entire month of Forest Dance, the Rangers completed clearing the old outpost of debris and restarting the renovation project, established their new HQ in my manor house, and re-established themselves as a force for good in the community, by standing watches, dealing with local crime and participating in the town’s efforts to rebuild.
Sergeant Hawkslcaw in particular worked hard to bolster the ranks of the Town Watch through a recruitment drive which brought the beleaguered force up to half strength for less than 20%. He had also led a force in an attempt to protect the southern road project, but was ambushed by Trogladesh raiders and managed to survive at the loss of seven men. Having faced these fiends myself, I understood all-to-well the danger he faced.
My other Rangers worked on their own project, Corporal Longtail has nearly completed the Wolfhaven Home for Lost Children, a necessary addition to the town. Our newest recruit, Evoran, has worked tirelessly with Olgor to re-establish the library lost during the attack on the outpost. Rildrirr, after his lengthy absence from duty, returned and managed to enhance his already impressive sword.
By the 15th of Raining Leaves, my men were finally beginning to settle into a routine when the Flame Ranger attacked, only occasionally encountering assassin’s attempting to cash in the prices on their heads. We even added a new Ranger, the newly minted Paladin of Light Sir Michael Lugard to the roster.
I admit, it was a lot to take in and my conversation with the Lord Mayor lasted the better part of an hour even as around us my Rangers continued to rescue survivors from the manor. I did note a large force of plainly dressed figures hanging around the house, but soon learned that these were “concerned citizens” brought in the help by Longtail’s…associate, Streetrunner.
Once my debrief was completed, the Lord Mayor and his security detail left the manor house and joined the injured Harken boy at the Chapel of Light which was quickly becoming a fortified camp. In fear and desperation, the new Lord Harken called every soldiers and guard to his defense fearing the Flame Archer would attack. In doing so, he removed protection from the Lord Mayor’s staff and from the prisoner being held in the basement, the Flame Archer’s true target.
It was a long night, but by three I the morning, my Rangers and I were sitting around my dinner table getting a late supper or early breakfast. Our roster now includes:
Colonel Sir Alexander Wolfhaven-Regional Commander
Lieutenant Olgor Griznak-Bursar/Administrator
Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer-Quartermaster/Master-at-Arms
Sergeant Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw-Operations commander
Corporal Aradove Longtail-Operations XP/Intelligence
Ranger First Class Rildrirr
Ranger Evoran Que’kasaars
Ranger Alfred Ranger
Ranger Eris Moonsilver
Ranger Sir Michael Lugard
Ranger Trainee Malcolm-Messenger
Ranger Trainee Sarah
Ranger Allied Personnel
Sergeant Luc Gendarre
Gendarre’s four troops
We got as much rest as we could, most just sleeping where they sat at the table. It was not until dawn the following morning (16th of Raining Leaves) that Longtail realized that Sarah had not arrived for work. Despite everything, the bombings, the crazed mobs, even assassins, the young Olaran girl had never missed a day of work. And no one had seen her since the 15th.
Longtail and Hawkslcaw tore out before I could even give them permission. These weeks of independent operation have somewhat diluted our military bearing. Though, given the current scenario and our lack of sleep I forgave them for the breach.
It was only later that I learned the truth, because when I arrived on the scene in low town all I found was my corporal bleeding out from a knife wound to the heart, her paramour Streetrunner lying beside her in the street, aged years, with Hawkclaw and Evoran standing over the bodies and Rildrirr turning away the curious. Amidst it all, Sarah, alive and well, sobbed over Longtail.
Hawsclaw had just ordered Evoran and Rildrirr to escort Sarah to the Red Lamp, while he and I secured Longtail and Streetrunner at the new HQ.
Once back, and Hawksclaw assured us that her wounds were not fatal, we finally learned the truth about the incident. Previously, when Longtail had managed to capture and interrogate the Prelacy agent just after the bombings, and around the time Hawksclaw as nearly assassinated, Longtail had encountered a foreign assassin who she and Streetrunner had bested.
It would appear that he then used Sarah as a bargaining chip to force Longtail to take her own life. I cannot begin to express my admiration and awe in my subordinate that she would willingly take her own life to save an innocent. Though she is often seen as the most illicit among our company, I am beginning to understand that, in truth, she is the most virtuous and most dedicated to our cause. She has won Stormahammer’s respect at any rate.
Knowing assassins would be after my team in our weakened state, I ordered Eris to recall Evoran, but leave Sarah with the Madame where I knew she would be safe. For the next week, I kept my Longtail and Street runner under guard while they recuperated.
Leaving Hawksclaw in charge of the investigation with orders to find the assassin’s at any cost, I took Rildrirr and Gendarre and his men with me to secure the road project south of Echer’Naught. Reports of attacks and requests for aid had piled up in my absence and I had faith that Hawksclaw was more than capable of dealing with the issues at home.
Rildrirr easily tracked a large company of Trogladesh and we managed to clear out three camps before they faded away. I have no doubt they will return, but we are about a month from completion. If we can keep the build site secure for that length of time, the project will be completed and we can construct a waystation at the halfway point where I will station troops and riders.
We returned to Echer’Naught about a week later. On the 22nd of Raining Leaves, Hawksclaw finally managed an audience with Fateweaver who promised aid in our fight against the assassins. Interestingly, there were no new attacks by Prelacy, Red Store, Assassin’s or Builders during this time.
On that same day, Evoran visited the sacred grove to thank the Druidess Treesinger for her aid in healing Hawksclaw, twice, but also to request her aid in unlocking the secrets locked in the mind of the Red Store agent that the Flame Archer failed to kill twice. As he was still in a deep comma, but alive, it would take magical healing to bring him back from the edge.
She agreed, and offered the sacred grove as a site for the ritual. She also listed a number of individuals that she felt should attend the event including Celebor, Hawksclaw, Evoran, Eris if possible, Vallandrian and Rildrirr. She listed other components and individuals. Also, she set the hour at the 13th as it would be the height of power.
And with her promise of aid, she also issued a warning. Many strange and terrible things have happened in the past year, the Tempest, Crimson Crusade, the rise of the Builders and the strange, alien threats entering the realm of Shaintar from Ascended know where. Many of these events had focused on or around Echer’Naught. Correspondingly, new people displayed surprising magical abilities who, up until recently presented as entirely mundane. Loci and lines of power appeared with more frequency and regularity than ever before.
Magic was on the rise, but in the words of Treesinger, “the veil was weakening.”
She also had one more bit of news, Nell, the Storm Druid, was alive and seeking asylum within the sacred grove. Healing. Nell would return when she was ready.
I tasked Evoran with creating a map of magical events in Echer’Naught going back before the Tempest in an attempt to track the magical events and attempt to discern a pattern. If anyone could achieve this task Olgor and Evoran could do so.
To Rildrirr I gave the task of protecting the work project and dispatched Gendarre and his men to assist him in the task.
For Hawksclaw, his only task was to hunt down the assassin’s and end the threat. I know that Longtail would be better at the investigation given her underworld contacts, but, and I am surprised to say this, but her loyalty and protective instincts are too great a liability. I do not wish to have her put in another situation where she must choose between her own life and one of our own. Not at present.
Olgor, Stormhammer and I then sat down to the task of making some sense of our current situation and putting to order the chaos that had become our home. There was much to do and winter was on the horizon.
On the 25th, Sarah returned, much changed. She requested permission to speak with Longtail in private. I was not in the room, but a short time later, Longtail entered and requested authorization to induct Sarah into the Ranger Corps. I immediately and wholeheartedly agreed. Olgor drew up the papers and it was made official, though with little fanfare. Sarah seemed to want it that way.
That night, Streetrunner came to ask my permission for three days of vacation. He assured me that she would be well protected from assassins or Prelacy. I do not feel he would have taken no for an answer, but I would not have said no. They all needed healing and Longtail more than most.
I know very little of such things, but I trust my subordinates. In the time of my absence, Streetrunner and Longtail had grown close, very much so. Close enough that she seemed to have forsaken her other conquests.
With a glad heart, I have my wholehearted consent. They departed together on the 26th and did not return until the 29th. Though I am aware, through intelligence reports where they went, I will not include that information here or in other missives. Some things are personal and have no bearing on Ranger duty. Whatever small measure of happiness my Rangers can find in this life, I will lay down mine to secure it.
From the 29th to the last day of the month, the 33rd of Raining Leaves, a team of Rangers slowly arrived. Mostly Gobinesh. They gathered at the outpost before embarking on a mission to Rool in the Northern Gather. Their mission was to escort Sergeant Major Okur (Ogre), the son of the Mak Tokash and a Ranger in the hopes that Okur might soon negotiate a formal treat between the Rangers and his father’s gather. With him went a Ranger guard detail:
Trokash (Orc Shaman)
Ash (Eldakar mage)
Thraxx (Orc warrior)
Dane Landen (human paladin)
Kiska (orc, druid)
Chuck (Brinchie scout)
Grimjack (Orc warrior)
L’Merr (Brinchie warrior)
On the 33rd, I welcomed the team into my home and issued a briefing provided by Sergeant Major Stormahmmer. The trip would take approximately 25 days and they would depart on the 1st of Harvest Moons. Stormhammer issued a few of them White Silver tipped arrows. For the rest, I ensured that they had sufficient supplies to last the month, mounts and full stocks of bolts and arrows.
While in my fair town, Trokash spent time speaking with Stormhammer, Ash, a former companion, spent time in the Autumn Spring, Dane Landen, an old friend, spent his evening in meditation at the Chapel of Light, Kiska, Grimjack and Thraxx headed to Ivan Sokolav’s Drunken Mastery School for training and I think L’Merr, another good friend, joined them. Chuck, well, I never really know where he is. It was good to see my old comrades again.
I saw them off on the 1st, and personally escorted them out of the town. I trust that they will reach their destination safely and hope that Ash, Landen, Chuck and L’Merr will return soon. I have need of their services.
From then to now, I have spent reading reports, sending missives and trying to piece my command together. Hawksclaw was forced to use the Ranger payroll to buy information in order to stop the Prelacy, a move I wholeheartedly support. I assured him that I would make up the difference from my personal wealth.
As I sit here on the 4th of Harvest Moons, looking back over the actions and choices of my team I am filled with a sense of almost overwhelming pride. I trained these men and women and they have far exceeded my expectations. I was concerned, so many months ago, when I received orders to abandon my command and make for Camp Wolfhaven.
I had faith in my men, in Hawksclaw’s leadership and Longtail’s ability to gather intel, but command is difficult in ways few realize until they achieve it. Most any soldier learns to face death, but it is far more difficult to make decisions which may kill those you have come to respect and love.
After I left the Hammerfell Riders, I resigned myself that I would never again grow so attached to a group of people that losing them would tear our my soul.
But here I am, beaming over my Rangers like a proud father. Raging at those who would dare harm them. And praying that I can convey in some way my admiration, respect and affection for their tireless service. I owe them all debt of gratitude that I cannot express. I only hope they will come to understand the depth of my feelings.
It is late now, and the candles burn down. I know that just outside assassin’s with poison tipped blades lurk in the shadows, agents of every enemy on earth stalk the streets plotting out demise, forces beyond our comprehension bring enormous magical energies to bear focused on nothing but our destruction…even our allies doubt us.
But we have each other. And that is enough.
Your most obedient servant,
A. Wolfhaven, Colonel
Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara