Eternal Sun 18th, 3127
It is surprisingly difficult to write reports when one’s wings are a shredded mess. Damn werewolves! A pox upon the entire race. Well, maybe not the entire race. I mean, I have nothing against Aronzo. Let me explain.
Red Wolf 33rd, 3127
We woke with the Wolfhaven Barony barracks. It wasn’t the stuffed mattress and down comforter while entangled in two celestial bodies…but not bad for barracks. I am continually surprised by the care and comfort provided by House Wolfhaven for even the meanest member of the staff. I’ve said it before, but it is clear why Colonel Wolfhaven is beloved by his men.
We woke too early along with the rest of the staff. Most of the revelers remained abed at the ungodly hour. We brave few ventured down to the barrack dining hall to find an open chair.
The Wolfhaven House Guard was awake and active, most having been on duty the night before so avoiding the worst effects of the celebration. Alpha Team headed down the line of table looking for an open space when a hand waved us over. Sir Hevain, the impish Olaran gentleman of leisure was up with the dawn, and already well into his cups.
I have heard there are those among the human race who possess a supernatural ability to consume alcohol. Clearly, this man ranked well among them. We sat and enjoyed our morning repast.
Sir Hevain seemed to know Sergeant Grendel from previous encounters. Ranna I suppose as well. Grendel for his part introduced the party. I found the Olaran knight’s gentle ribbing amusing, though some of the Rangers took more offense.
Throughout our meal I could not shake the feeling that I knew Sir Hevain from somewhere, but try as I might I could not place when or where. After breaking fast, the rest of the team broke up to go about their various tasks. Sir Hevain invited Aronzo and I to a private drink.
We both accepted, and the man has quality ale. I have rarely tasted better. In a flask he carried something brewed “in a tub” in Toad’s Port, far to the south in the Pirate Archipelagos by a one eyed, pegged legged man name Bill. The story was exquisite, the rum divine.
Afterwards, I went looking for the ladies and tracked them to the Sacred Grove. Both Ingrid and Kenzie have been getting in touch with their “spiritual side.” Which I totally support, but not my flight. So, I took a quick flight around the Barony lands…after getting permission from the Sergeant of the Guard.
From above, the Barony lands look quite different. Though there are no demarcation lines on the grounds, after a while, you learn to judge from farm placement, walls, treeline, and streams how the land is divided up. The vista that stretched below me as I buoyed on the hot summer updrafts was a gentle lands of green rolling hills, scattered copses of trees, sparse, but flat, straight roads, and herds of wild and mighty steeds galloping across the fields.
Basically, the Wolfhaven lands border the edge of Landra’Feya and the great forest in the west, stretching east to the North Barony road, where it bends west toward Kore. Nestle there between the north east corner of Landra’Fey and the North Barony road’s westward bend is a vaguely ovoid piece of land lies the ancestral home of the wolf. Though, I note far more horses than wolves. There are not such convenience demarcation lines to the north and south, but from the air, I traced ancient stone walls, more like a sheppard’s fence stretching across the southern border, dividing the Wolfhaven barony and the one directly to the south. To the north, there is a stream running more or less east-west which seems to be a convenient border to the lands to the north. Having seen the big map of Olara in the Wolfhaven smoking den I know that the Barony is the farthest north east in Harken Duchy lands.
Within these boundaries finds a wide, open grassland across most of the barony. Along the westernmost border elvish trees spill across the political border. And the southernmost part, a separate copse of trees grows large. I’ve heard that these are the lands of Major Hawksclaw taken from the deepest forests. There are small tree lines, more like attempts at a privacy screen running along portions of the north barony road. Otherwise, the tree coverage is sparse, just enough to provide adequate shade for the herds, but not taking up too much space.
A fair, but not overlarge space is given over to fields, mostly contained within four roughly forty acre plots around the main manor house, roughly in the center of the barony lands, though maybe a mile closer to the north barony road than the elven forests. Other fields are scattered about the lands, each utilizing different terrain. I assume there is a method to all of this, but I’ve never been particularly fond of dirt.
Connected to the North Barony road via a smaller road running to east, and with smaller “footpaths” crisscrossing north, west, and south, the Wolfhaven Barony’s manor house sits on a hill overlooking open land. The hill is not overlarge, but someone knew what they were doing. The terrain slopes away in every direction giving the defenders a clear field of fire for hundreds of yards. The manor itself is a large, old, stone manse, more a heavily constructed home than a castle. Though, everything Olarans build is designed with defense in mind. It is a large, open design, mostly two stories, with a few “towers” that reach upwards of three. Around the house are smaller buildings: large stables, church of light, barracks, storehouses, guest residences, garden houses, and even the customary sacred grove.
I know from speaking with Sir Regillus that at the time of the barony’s SECOND burning, there was little but a few loose stones to indicated the outer wall. With orders from Wolfahven himself, Sir Regillus organized the reconstruction of the outer wall. Though, reconstruction may be the wrong word. What the former Tempest Servitor constructed was a nearly twenty foot curtain wall around the “courtyards” around the manor. But, rather than build the “typical” tall, narrow wall, the walls around the barony are almost twice as thick at the base as they are at the top, and they are plenty thick along the ramparts. Flanking the main gate are two squat towers, about six feet higher than the walls, but rounded like barrels.
Speaking to Sir Regillus late one night during a previous stay over, he walked through a lot of math and angles, but apparently, the rounded towers and “sloped” walls are far more effective against arcfire than the narrower vertical walls. Considering that each corner is also buttressed by a rounded tower and every tower topped by arcfire enhanced siege engines…woe betide any foolish enough to assault the Wolfhaven Barony again. Though, considering how often the manor has been burned out in the last five years, I cannot really blame them.
All told, between 200 and 250 manage, work, and defend the entire barony. Surprising, but very efficient. Of course, the Baron and/or the Baroness bring with them a 30+ retinue, so the number in residence is in direct relation to who happens to be staying over. Still, as I drifted lazily across the sky, I saw only handfuls of herdsman, farmers, and gardeners working in small pockets miles apart.
It just goes to show that wealth and power have privileged. And despite my own “somewhat” dim views of rank and status, I cannot help but admire the beauty, determination, and down to earth humility of everyone working the land. During my flight, I happened to stop by a group of farmers assessing one of the more remote fields in the southern area of the barony. I was first surprised, and impressed, that they spotted me and men stood ready with crossbows. Olarans, farmer or knight, they are trained for war. Seeing my cloak, and my wings, they relaxed, as much as Olarans ever do, and welcomed me into their company.
I noted that many were older, and all bore some wound of war. Many were missing arms, legs, eyes… As it happens, the Barony actually seeks out and hires wounded veterans from Olaras various wars. Yet another way in which this House seeks to care for the forgotten.
By the time I returned that afternoon, word was out that evening that we were not heading back to Echer’Naught. Rather, we would be launching north from the Barony and that we each needed to write a list of supplies and “personal” effects that we needed from “Home.”
Eternal Sun 1st, 3127
By morning, over half of the guests were headed home. Over the course of the day, heartfelt farewell were given to Sergeant Minor Longtail and her retinue, Sergeant Regillus, and hers, and Commander and Sara Schenkle. I am continually amazed at how many former members of this team are just hanging about.
I note that Sir Hevain has not departed. And that he seems to be working his way through much of the female house staff. One must admire his Vigor.
Eternal Sun 2nd, 3127
In the morning Corporal Sssahliissstah approached the team suggesting throwing a Bachelor party for Blackstone on the eve of his wedding. Over the next few hours the women of Alpha Team worked behind the scenes securing a room, and arranging food. Though, to be fair, the Wolfhaven staff did most of the heavily lifting.
After dinner, we gathered in one of the smaller halls. I volunteered to go find Blackstone who was busy scratching away at his scrolls. The dwarf is the most studious warrior I may have ever met.
He seemed fairly eager to abandon his tasks, and so I led him like a lamb to the slaughter. I am happy to say the Blackstone was both surprised and pleased by his party. Food and drink were had by all. Kenzie and the Explorer drank a bit deeply into their cups. But, everyone had quite a row. We were joined by Sir Hevain who bypassed Aronzo, our guard at the door.
I THINK he was sleeping somewhere in the hall before we arrived. That or he can teleport. Which would not surprise me.
At one point, Colonel Wolfhaven himself happened by and seemed very confused about the entire event. Despite our heartfelt invitation, he politely declined. Though, I believe some part of him would have preferred to join in the celebration. There must be some pangs of nostalgia there.
Later, Sir Regillus happened by and seemed even more perplexed than the Colonel. I desperately wished he would join us. That would have been hilarious. However, such was not to be.
LATE in the evening, a Wolfhaven page arrived to inform Alpha Team that our gear had arrived from Echer’Naught. And so, with a final toast, we wished RFC Blackstone well, and condolences on his pending nuptial.
Out in the yard, three heavy wagons had pulled into the yard in front of the manor house, Wolfhaven house staff were in the process of offloading our kit from the center wagon. The chamberlain handed Sergeant Grendel a checklist to verify that Alpha Team received their orders.
The men quickly offloaded and stacked two weeks rations, bundles of arrows, crates of potions and other sundries beside the wagon. Sergeant Grendel checked off each dutifully, before Corporal Sssahliissstah divided and distributed. In addition to our own kit, we each received a straw packed satchel bearing two potions of healing.
Once the standard gear was distributed, a strongbox was hoisted out of the wagon and three packages were distributed. A small do Sergeant Grendel, a head sized crate to Blackstone, and a flat hinged box to the Explorer. Each seemed inordinately pleased to received their care packages. RFC Ranna was drooling over a bundle of hideous looking crossbow bolts.
I grabbed my few bundles of arrows, and retired to a spare room with Kenzie and Ingrid. We DID happen by the Builder, clutching a pair of boxes like child on nameday, following after Sir Regillus. I have no idea what that was about, nor do I care. In the room, I noted that Kenzie had a small pouch of redish vials, but declined to ask.
Eternal Sun 3rd, 3127
Early in the morning, we assembled with our kit in the yard. I noted that RFC Ranna sported a brand new white silver ring. That, and Sergeant Grendel seemed to be bouncing a bit as he walked. I waited some announcement, but neither ogre said a word, so I let it go.
The Explorer paraded out like peakcock, making sure we all saw his shiny new handcaster in its tooled leather holster. For a stoic warrior, he does get giddy about his arcfire.
We were ALSO joined by a group of newcomers. First, RFC Blackstone brought up a sour looking dwarven smith, who manage to glare at us all balefully from beneath a bushy unibrow.
The second group consisted of four Rangers following command of an attractive female brinchie who introduced herself as Nira Nightshade. For the second time in a few days I was struck by the idea that I knew her from somewhere, but try as I might, I couldn’t place it. They had orders to attach to our escort detail. A bit of extra muscle on this important diplomatic venture.
As we greeted our new companions, Sergeant Muriel, Tiny, King, Diego, Buttercup, and other mounts were brought out and loaded. Colonel Wolfhaven himself braved the morning air to see us off. His words were humble and I suppose inspiring. Then we were off.
We rode hard that day, travelling til well after dark. We must have cleared 40 miles. By the time we arrived, the gates of Kore were closed, but we were permitted after a bit of theatrics. For the Sworn of House Vosltagg it is a bit funny that Sergeant Grendel doesn’t speak Olara.
But, once inside, we were directed to the local Ranger HQ. We were given room and board, if only meager. Apparently, the Alpha Team has a poor reputation in Kore and Olara. Seems there was an incident where a former member of the team burned down the kitchens in the HQ in the capital city of Olara. Other incidents have happened in Kore. Either way, we were allowed to stay the night, but I felt strongly they were happy to see us off.
Eternal Sun 4th, 3127
Again, we were out by dawn, heading west toward the great city of Rhion. The western bastion of Olara. House Steiner. Few Great Houses have the stick shoved so far up their arses as Steiner. As we departed Kore, I pondered what kind of reception we would receive from the stoic and dour Steiner.
Eternal Sun 7th, 317
Three days later, and we enter the shadow of Rhion’s eastern walls. I was actually surprised by how professional the Olarans treated out party. We passed through narrow, city streets on our way to the Ranger HQ. Apparantly, Alpha Team had once been ambushed and nearly slain by someone named Diego not far from the Ranger outpost.
In addition to the impressive roll of honored dead, and the ridiculous number of living members spread across Shaintar, I am growing more impressed with just how many places Alpha Team has destroyed, nearly been destroyed, or just perpetually worn out any welcome. For a team that has only been active for about five years, we have an impressive, and horrifying track record.
That night, we were hosted by the Rangers of Rhion. While Rhion is a major city, and the Rangers have authority, in practice, the large outpost is mostly for show. House Steiner has little interest in allowing outsiders to usurp their authority. So, these Rangers spend most of their time cleaning and polishing their large and impressive edifice.
Eternal Sun 8th, 3127
We departed Rhion and turned north, heading to Jasara. Now there is a city I know all too well. The most generous thing I can say of the Jasaran people is they are dicks. But, they are honest about it. Rumor says they rejected the exalted Colonel Wolfhaven’s offer to join the Ranger Charter..gasp! Which, would be considered sacrilege anywhere else. But, they also murdered the Ranger ambassador.
Ever since then, relations between Jasara and the rest of the Southern Kingdom’s have been…tense. Still, they are “allies” and Rangers are free to move and operate throughout their lands. We would be fools to do so.
Eternal Sun 9th, 3127
The night before Jasara, we camped about 10 miles south. Sergeant Grendel provided a perfectly adequate security briefing, and Aronzo donned more makeup that a Camonere whore. He has a thing about the Malakar Dominion…or Camonere whores…
Eternal Sun 10th, 3127
Early we arrived in line at the bridge crossing into the island nation state of Jasara. It took hours, but we arrived at the Olaran checkpoint. Sergeant Grendel provided our Ranger papers, and his own being the mark of Volstagg. That raised some eyebrows.
The papers passed through a series of hands before attracting attention to the watch commander who addressed the good Sergeant in Olaran. It took everything I had not to bury my hands in my face.
Ultimately we were allowed to pass, but I sense an angry letter winging its way to Captain Volstagg’s desk in Almahrad.
Across the decorative stone bridge, we encountered the Jasaran checkpoint. Here, out Ranger papers netted us SPECIAL consideration. We were considered hostile and had our bags rifled while Sergeant Grendel was questions.
Eventually, we were waved through to meet a local Ranger stationed in the city. Joy!. He let us to an outhouse that served as their HQ. I feared Corporal Sssahliissstah was going to quite literally bite his head off. But, she retained her composure. Apparently those lessens with Sssvaren are going well?
The Ranger, I never got a name, offered to let us draw supplies, but we simply didn’t have the time to pick out the maggots. So, we declined his invitation to dine and head accross town to the south western bridge. There, we were treated to another round with Jasaran security.
I mean, the towering ogres with their scowls and clubs are impressive. But, by this point, I was hot, tired, and hungry…since Sergeant Grendel refused to stop to eat! So, I was over it.
Another rifling of our kit and we crossed the bridge and made our way a short distance to ANOTHER checkpoint. Ascended help us. Here we faced Goblinesh from Bralk. They seemed to respect Grendel and after a quick, and intimate sniffing from one of their goblins…which I enjoyed far too much, we were on our way again!
All told, we spend maybe five hours of the day doing nothing but waiting in line. So help me, next time I am going to fly over, find an alehouse and wait for the team to catch up.
Eternal Sun 12th, 3127
Nevertheless, we made Bralk by the 12th. When we arrived, we found that the Gather gates were closed to us, but the goblinesh of the region had kindly provided “accommodation.” It is hard to accurately describe the goblinesh waystation of Bralk, suffice to say everything was sturdily built, but appeared to have been designed by a mentally deficient child taxidermist. It was equal parts impressive, humorous, and disturbing.
The goblin to welcomed us at the Inn was the most polite and attentive innkeep I have ever met. And, I am pleased to see the goblins of the waystation have fully embraced modern economic exchange. They fleeced us for every red copper.
After being shown our room. Oh, and the stench. Somewhere between a stables and a privy? Anyway, after seeing our rooms, we all need alcohol, so we ventured across the street to their version of an alehouse. There were a number of travelers, human and goblinesh sitting at the rough tables.
The decor can best be described as a place Sir Hevain would likely hang out.
Anyway, we checked the various menus. All written in which chalk against a dark board. Each outlining the cost and service available. There was a drink menu, a food menu, and a whore menu. And, just in case there was any doubt, the prostitutes were clearly labeled.
Good thing. I’d hate to make THAT mistake again.
In good spirits despite the horror show, we all ordered locally sourced food and ale. I THINK Blackstone declined and accepted, instead, a drink from Aronzo’s flask. He promptly passed out. More on that in a moment.
I have had goblinesh liquor before. This had a green tint, tasted like lye, and felt like I was drinking lava. Fortunately I saved enough to strip my armor later that night. The food was better…ish.
Speaking with the locals, and listening in on nearby conversations, we got the impression that there was a large group, or several groups of marauders operating in the region we would be entering. Not surprising, but we had no choice.
Fed, drunk, and carrying Blackstone, we retired to our rooms. Upon arrival, Blackstone woke, punched Aronzo in the genitals, and we set watches before bed. It was an amazing night.
Eternal Sun 13th, 3127
In the morning, we were up again and moving north west to Guardian Gather of Fylg. Sergeant Grendel was on high alert as we entered the open country. However, save for some travelers and local wildlife, we saw little of interest along the road.
Eternal Sun 16th, 3127
Three days. Three days of on and off rain, we arrived at the great Gather of Fylg. Well, outside. Again, the gates were barred, we there was an inn by the road. This was obviously older and the staff and fare more “normal.”
We purchased rooms, and sat in the open room, drinking, eating, and listening. Sergeant Grendel conversed with the Orc patron who told us that smaller, local gathers were being wiped out, no survivors or bodies. Tension was writ clear on the faces of everyone in the room, and inn.
After a solemn meal, we headed up to our rooms, and slept lightly under guard of posted watched. Here, Nira and her Rangers pulled their weight.
Eternal Sun 17th, 3127
We left before dawn, again. Why so early?! Our path turned west toward the gather of Ordoth. I was excited. I do not recall ever visiting Ordoth. Sadly, I still haven’t visited Ordoth.
Eternal Suns 18th, 3127
We were approaching evening on our second day west of Fylg when everything went sour. Nira and her scouts were ranged our providing watch while we went about our routines, setting up camp, starting small fires, and preparing to bunk down for the night.
The spot was lovely, too. Just south of the road, along the banks of a shallow, wide stream. Cool fresh water to drink and bath. The sky was clear, and it was warm, but not hot.
I was just starting to relax, joking with the team when a shout went up from one of Nira’s northern scouts. We were turning to look when large, black furred bodies exploded out of the darkness. Werewolves. Nether damend werewolves.
There was no time to react. One of the shaggy beasts was on me before I could even blink. I felt teeth sink into my should. I cried out, but in that moment I realized we were dead. Nine wolves tore through Alpha Team. One, the Alpha of the pack, stood on the ridge howling orders.
Sergeant Grendel called the retreat, and Alpha Team responded. RFC Blackstone sank into the earth and sped away. Kenzie ducked a swipe and took off. Nira drew her saber and dropped her wolf, then followed orders and took off. The Explorer was hot on her heals.
Aronzo tried to knock his unconscious before making his escape. The wolf shrugged it off before savaging him. Aronzo was down.
As I struggled to free myself from the werewolf attacking me, I felt the earth rumble. Then, two hulking shapes lumbered over the nearby ridge and started firing black-orange bolts at Grendel and Ranna.
With wolves clawing up their bodies, the ogres had nowhere to go. The golem like abonimations were on them in an insante, boring through their Olaran plate with arcfirelike drill arms, still pumping shots from a massive hand projector.
Ranna went down under the onslaught. A wolf crawling up each leg, and the golem blasting her in the chest. Soon as she hit the ground, the dogs leaped off at a bark from their master, and dog piled Grendel. Once they cleared out, the necro-golem reached down and started dragging Ranna back the way they had come.
The sound Grendel made was…heart wrenching. Ranna was being taken away. He KNEW what they would do, but there was nothing he could do. In rage, he crushed one of the wolves, but more piled on.
Battling her own wolves, Corporal Sssahliissstah launched a bolt into the golem dragging Ranna. The corrupted thing staggered, turned dumbly and fired into her. I saw her go down and the wolves on her turned and piled on Grendel.
Behind me, I heard Ingrid scream. The wolf had her…I could see the look on her face. My heart broke. There was no time. I couldn’t lose her. I wouldn’t. I did what I had to do.
Taking a rake from the wolf on me, my right wing was shredded, but I cleared the six feet to Ingrid. I wrapped her in my wings, like I have done so many times before. I shouted for her to run when I felt the teeth and claws ripping into my back.
When I came too, Corporal Sssahliissstah shoving a healing a down my throat. It wasn’t enough to fix me, but it put me on my feet. The scene was horrible. Aronzo was up and coughing, but…something was off. Grendel and Ranna were gone, but I could see that he has smashed one of the golems good.
My first thought was if Ingrid made it out. Corporal Sssahliissstah said she did, and that she was retreating with the rest of the unit. Before anyone could order me to stay, I crawled to my feet, and got airborne on what was left of my wings. I caught up to Ingrid not far. I managed to croak that the situation was clear.
That was all I had. She fired off a signal bolt to summon the rest of the team. Not long after, they came jobbing up. The animals all in a line behind Sergeant Muriel. She had sense enough to retreat. The rest of the team riding or trotting beside. I was so overjoyed at seeing Kenzie and Ingrid alive, I could barely move.
Though, I did manage to climb on Muriel’s back. She smelled like three week old ass…with lavender. That was odd.
We splashed back through the ice cold water. Which reminded me how much I prefer to be airborne, and returned to the remains of our camp. Corporal Sssahliissstah had secured the camp. Nira’s team, again, secured the perimeter, though all but she were limping badly.
Blackstone went about patching up what the potions failed to while Sssahliissstah took command. Turns out that Grendel was ogrenapped by his evil twin…maybe. And that these trogs were Witchmarked, not regular flavor. We get this from comments Grendel has made to some of the team over the months. Not ME, but to people he likes.
That and the Explorer was drooling over the down golem. It LOOKED like an arcfire golem, but it was crusted in green slake, the copper was black with tarnish, and it oozed reeking black corruption. That, it possessed a zombie brain…
He seemed said it was ancient. The reverence in his voice was creepy. Kind of like someone fawning of the recently deceased corpse of a grandparent. Still, I for one am grateful to have his expertise, because we know at least one more of the things is lurking out there.
Oh, and Aronzo quit the Rangers because he is now a werewolf. So there is that.
When everyone was wrapped up, Corporal Sssahliissstah made her decision. She ordered Nira’s team to escort RFC Blackstone and the smith…who actually also survived the ordeal my melding with the ground as well… Is that a dwarf thing?
And, then, to no one’s surprise, RFC Blackstone politely refused, stating that should he leave his Clan to die would be seen as cowardice, and the wedding would likely be off anyway. Better to die horribly with honor, than to live with common sense. Of course, I’m hardly one to speak. I hardly even know the ogres and I’m geared up ready to die for them.
At this critical juncture, Nira declined to join us, as her mission was escort, and let us know she would tell the Rangers we died honorably. I gave a bit of a cheer, and the Explorer, in his customary dry humor, said he thought it was all a bad idea.
Since I am useless right now, I’m jotting down these notes, for posterity. I think I will tie them to Muriel. That way, when we are all slaughtered and reanimated as shambling corpses, at least someone will know what happened. I don’t see the Senior Sergeant going along with this plan.
Looks like the Corporal is finishing packing up camp, and securing our gear to the mounts. It has been an honor to serve.