Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 115
A Major Knighting

Steelwing,

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

One benefit of being the city’s Alpha Team, we get all the good invites. Well, most of the good invites. Some. We get a few dinners. But, I’m not going to pass on an open bar.

Funny, I’ve never really felt any affinity for the “Military life,” certainly never taken a second look at the few female soldiers I encountered along the way. Well, if I’m being honest, I looked at them quite a bite, but never cared much for uniforms and formal wear. However, I must say, Ingrid and Kenzie cut quite a figure in their formal dress.

And, judging by the looks I received from some of the notable ladies in attendance, I did as well. Fortunately, I had Kenzie on hand to defend any “unwanted advances.” Parties, however stuffy, are a fair sight better than dying on a regular basis.

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

After our excitement during the “Storm Guard” raid, and the delicious after party, Alpha Team was returned to regular duties. Which, is more or less like light duty, but full hours on patrols, vs half hours, and less time training. They are, however, equally exciting. In that, they are as dull and mundane as our Mandatory Ranger meetings.

We heard that an advocate was bringing suit against the Rangers. Well, another suit. While our raid was successful, the resulting explosion destroyed any real evidence of criminal activity. With a body count over twenty, the suit accuses the Rangers of using “excessive force” despite the fact that we went out of our way to take them alive, and only attacked in response to attack. From what I hear, the case will likely be settled easily. Still, everyone is on their best behavior. All commanders are warned to not exceed their authority or risk adding fuel to the fire.

Not that it really has anything to do with the Team. We followed orders.

Though, with the Rangers hamstrung by legal action, the City Watch is left to fend for itself, mostly. Though, they too are under scrutiny. Which means the criminals, gangs in particular have become brazen. They know if we crack down too hard, it might go poorly against us, and invite more suits against us. So, they are making the most of the situation. Ridiculous.

Red Wolf 20th, 3127

Blackstone is really taking the marriage thing seriously. Well, I guess everyone is if the entire team is getting assigned to guard detail. I hope it ends up being worth it.

Blackstone had nothing for morning detail on the 20th, so caught him heading out before dawn. Later, I heard he went down to some fancy smithy, Glamrinson or some such, to commission his wedding ring.

Unfortunately I did pull morning guard shift up on the Beacon Tower. But, that afternoon, I joined Kenzie and Ingrid at the Sacred Grove. Both my ladies are getting deeply spiritual. Kenzie wanted to meditate, while Ingrid wound up talking with the Druids. If it makes them happy. I like the grove, but I could do with less singing.

Red Wolf 21st, 3127

Well, I’m not sure what the mask was whispering to RFC Ranna, but he certainly knows how to charm. She’s been obsessed with it since the raid. I heard from one of the Ogres that she went to Captain Hawksclaw to request the Toma Mask to be assigned out to her on a permanent basis. Apparently you can do that? Well, Blackstone has the Ramshorn Shield, so… I wonder what else is in the vault?

I also caught the Explorer coming out of Stormhammer’s office. Is it just me or has get been more…intense of late? Clearly, the diminutive shooter is working through some heavy issues. He nearly had passed out when he saw the Mad Bomb detonate. Maybe he’s looking to up his arsenal?

Red Wolf 22nd, 3127

What is wrong with the Explorer. I caught him going into Stormhammer’s office early, then by lunch, he’s being marched into that scary brinchie Sergeant Longtail’s office. Either he is colluding, or he is in serious trouble. Judging by our track record, he will be in prison by week’s end. Mores the pity. I liked him.

Red Wolf 24th, 3127

So, we were all called down to the city headquarters to meet with Captain Hawksclaw. To be honest, on the way down, I was expecting news of our court marshal, or at least Sergeant Grendel’s…or the Explorers. But, all went far better than expected. By Official Ranger orders, four of us received promotions to Ranger First Class:

Blackstone
Ingrid
Kenzie
and Me, Blackstone.

Not the Explorer, so I guess he is in trouble. Though I do not know for what reason, or why he didn’t invite me.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

By breaking of fast, rumors swirled in the city that the Lord Mayor had returned, unescorted, in secret under cover of darkness. Some say he was performing a surprise inspection on Colonel Anderson. Others that he was hiding from his wife. One Ranger I spoke with even suggested that Wolfhaven was dead and his ghost was haunting the city. Though, that was probably unlikely.

By dinner, I saw the man himself. From a distance. Though a window. But, it was definitely Wolfhaven. It seemed odd to me for the Lord Mayor to be in the city, but not resuming his post. That would have echoed up and down the Ranger ranks.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

By the 25th, rumors flew. Regional Headquarters geared up for something big. Messengers and runners hit every Major and Minor House in the City, the Merchant’s Counsel, and both the Watch and the Militia. Something big was brewing.

Red Wolf 27th, 3127

By the 27th, word was out that Captain Hawksclaw was getting some big award. Alpha Team’s presence was required, and we were all ordered to purchase formal dress uniforms. The event was scheduled for two the next day, but we were ordered to report by dawn.

Predicably, the remainder of our day, and most of the night was spent getting fitted for uniforms, then assembling our finery. We spent six hours just purchasing our uniforms from Stormhammer. As much as enjoy parties, the pomp was ridiculous. How can the military manage to ruin celebrations.

Red Wolf 28th, 3127

Dressed so stiffly we couldn’t even move, shining brighter than the beacon tower, we assembled by dawn at the Regional HQ. Mostly, we stood around and waited while an army of servile staff swarmed everywhere setting up banners, streamers, flags, chairs, scaffolding and all manner of device. Other teams were on duty, but we…just stood there looking uncomfortable. The ogres showered at least, so that was good. And Corporal Sssahliissstah kept us alive with snacks. Who knew that murder lizards spontaneously produced food. You would think such an amazing talent would be more common knowledge.

Anyway, throughout the day, we moved around, until two, we found ourselves in one of the larger meeting halls. The assembled peerage and brass was quite impressive. This was either a wedding (odd as the Captain was married), a funeral (odd because he wasn’t dead), or a promotion. Turns out, it was a promotion.

Starting at 2 PM, the speeches began. Colonel Anderson spoke, followed by Commander Schenkle, and Captain Vasser, an emissary from Landra’Feya, a druid from the Sacred Grove…I don’t remember them all. I honestly fell asleep about an hour in. At some point, Blackstone elbowed me awake as Colonel Wolfhaven took the stand. I don’t know what I expected, but the man is far less stuffy than I imagined. He put everyone at east, spoke briefly, and then presented Captain Hawksclaw his official promotion to Major. I didn’t even know we had Majors.

Then, Sergeant Major Stormhammer invited us all to attend a banquet in an adjoining room. Free food, free ale, and the two most beautiful women in the world. Though, as I mentioned, Kenize was a wee bit territorial. What can I say, women love the wings. Well, everybody loves the wings, really.

We ate, danced, spoke. All in all it was a beautiful night. Though, that pants were too tight in the crotch, the jacket made my wings feel stiff, and the shoes too tight. That and poor Lieutenant Alfred Woflhaven looked to be having a moment. I feared the man would have a stroke.

Once Major Hawksclaw was seated with his wife, and family, and the receiving line lessened somewhat, the Alpha Team ventured forth to congratulate him. Its odd, though. It seems that Alpha Team commanders either die in the field, or are promoted to high office. Neither of which appeals to me, come to it.

Red Wolf 29th, 3127

As the celebration wrapped, new orders came down. We had ANOTHER formal event in two days! Yay. So, we all quickly had our new uniforms pressed and packaged for travel. Then ran around like crazy. puling rations and prepping for a two day trip north to the Wolfhaven Barony. Considering that all of our other trips ended in bloodshed and tears, we chose to depart prepared. By mid day, we were riding north along the North Barony Road. Kenzie rode Diego, and she graciously allowed me to second mount, Buttercup. Between the bear, the two horses, and the rat, she has quite a menagerie.

The Explorer rode Muriel again. They seem to have bonded. Both surly, both driven. Both nigh unintelligible. Blackstone rode Tiny. Another odd pairing. Odd, but seems to work. Ingrid rode an Olaran rounsey. The ogres cuddled up on a large wagon. I think Corporal Sssahliissstah in the back of the wagon. To be honest, we make quite a spectacle on the road. Especially being the “premier” cavalry unit.

Before leaving, one of Stormhammer’s aides put a large purse in Sergeant Grendel’s hands. The funds paid our way straight to Wolfhaven’s door. Getting such a late start, we didn’t reach the mid-waysation till inter the 13th hour. Though, the sack of gold Sergeant Grendel carried quickly silenced any objections.

We were set up nicely, two to a room. The Ogres were given a small outbuilding equipped with a large enough bed for one. Two if they squeezed in. So one, knowing Grendel.

Our menageries of mounts was stabled. All fed, and groomed. Money certainly talks.

Red Wolf 30th, 3127

We rose before dawn, and were on the road again having a fine night sleep, breaking our fast on hot sausage, soft cheese, and warm bread. The weather was hot, but not unbearable. Traffic along the North Barony is usually steady, but this far north of the city, hardly busy.

Having started early, we reached the Wolfhaven Barony by dusk. It amazing me to see how quickly the barony develops. Each trip it seems adds new outbuildings, new soldiers.

Halfway between Echer’Naught and Kore, the North Barony Road turns slightly west. There, at the bend stands the outer gatehouse of the Wolfhaven Barony. Like all things Olaran, it is squat, heavy, a well fortified stone house, twin storied square towers, and an actual gate strattling a wide, Olaran road running west off the main road. There are no walls, per se, but from the corner marker on the south eastern edge of the property, to, I assume the north east, runs a deep ditch and berm. Perhaps maintained for drainage, it serves as a break against horses. Though, a man could easily scramble over.

The gatehouses were resplendent in house colors and pennants. And, the blockhouse was unusually busy with over a dozen House Guard. As we arrived, the Corporal offered out papers, but the guards only glanced. It seems we were expected. Once through the “gate” we followed the hard, flat road as it wended through the rolling hills, green and bursting. In the distance, herds of horses grazed, and fields of crops scattered the landscape.

Not far from the main thoroughfare, our road crested a small ridge. At the top, about five hundred yards away sprawled the Wolfhaven Manor. I’ve been here before with the team. But, even then it was dark, and the manor was relatively lifeless. Not today. Even in the dying light, splashes of color covered the dark, stone walls. Banners, pennants, standards and flags, flapped or hung from every possible perch. The manor proper was lit as if by fireflies, glowing in the growing dark. Three stories, plus soaring towers, it has obviously stood the test of time. A stone wall surrounded a small courtyard, opened only by the main gate. And around THAT, the entire site another wall, this one newly constructed of a deep ditch, and berm leading to a thick stone wall, topped by crenelations. The towers are squat and round, nothing like the older Olaran style. Clearly, the curtain wall was constructed by those experienced in siege warfare. I doubt even an arcfire golem could breach those defense.

As we rode in, we saw a large camp of perfect rows, and dull colored tents. Olarans. No one is so precise.

At the gates, we were welcomed, and grooms appeared to attend to our mounts. Behind and above us, heavily armed and armored knights patrolled the battlements alongside lighter armed crossbowmen, and arcfire equipped arclancers. Each tower sported a catapult, ballista, or dwarven engine of death. Every door was flanked by no fewer than two immaculately dressed House Guard.

Though I noted with interest that we alone wore the green of the Rangers, and of the assembled, all bore the unmistakable comportment of Olarans. Whatever this event might be, it was clearly not a Ranger matter, or even the Southern Kingdoms. This, was an Olaran, or Wolfhaven issue.

Once our mounts were led away, Muriel a tad less sullen than normal, we were escorted into the entry hall. Servants swarmed everywhere in organized chaos. I sense the Great Lady, Baroness Wolfhaven’s, hand.

After being shown to our rooms, I being permitted to room with Kenzie and Ingrid, we were allowed to enter the grand hall where tables of food were kept stock as guests passed through at all hours. I was pleased to be billeted with my loves, but I found it odd. The prudishness of the Olarans is legendary. Wolfhaven has always struck me as more “conservative” than most. And yet, here, we were treated less as Rangers, and more as honored guests. Interesting.

After “dinner”, I followed the girls around as we explored the manor. Once back in the courtyard, we noted that the lone Chapel of Light was surrounded by solemn and stoic knights bearing Wolfhaven colors. A horrible waste of manpower.

We bedded down, pleasantly. Though I find the structure and absurdity of human politics obtuse, rank has privileges. If we had such fine lodging…

Red Wolf 31st, 3127

The day dawned bright. Food was provided, self serve. More guests arrived and the team spent the day staying out of people’s way and working with the House Guard. Sir Regillus runs a tight ship. Alpha Team was rolled into the guard rotation. By the end of day, we had worked alongside most stations and posts. Having seen all the faces, anyone intruding on the morrow’s event would stick out. Smart.

Red Wolf 32nd, 3127

Well before dawn, a bell woke the team, well, the entire house. We rose and donned our high formal wear, though we were permitted bear weapons in the house, I felt exposed without my armor. As we entered a smaller dining room. Colonel Wolfhaven waited over his breaking fast. We collected our food and he explained that his son was to be knighted. At dawn, the guests would make their way to the Chapel of Light for the ceremony. Our job was to provide protection and overwatch over the courtyard to ensure no villainous factions threatened the assembled.

During the entirety of the event, which I saw none of, but heard much, I saw nothing unusual. The only odd note was the sound of howling wolves in the distance. Though, given the name of the House, perhaps that is not unusual here.

A few hours after dawn, the newly raised knight departed the Chapel flanked by Major Hawksclaw and Sergeant Minor Longtail, both in Wolfhaven House livery, and not Ranger attire. After them, came Baron Wolfhaven with his wife, also in Wolfhaven colors. Following this, Sir Regillus and his wife, Lady (Sergeant) Regillus. And then an parade of House Wolfhaven and Olaran Blood, Sword, and esteemed personages.

All entered the manor for feasting, which lasted most of the day. Games, music, performances…it was quiet a celebration. I did not know that Olarans DID celebrate. Turns out, the warriors of Olara can throw down, given enough ale.

So, long into the eve, we stood our post, ten hour shift with two short hour breaks. I spent mine among the sweeping buttresses and angelic statuary high upon the manor’s roof. At some time around 10ish, we were finally rotated out and allowed to head into the great hall. Our timing could not have been more perfect.

As we gathered our food, and found an open table at the far corner of the hall, there was the sound of clattering cutlery and arms, as the central floor was suddenly vacated. Two men, SIR Alfred Wolfhaven and Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw squared off. The elder Major, drew a thin, elivsh rapier from his “swaggers stick.” Sir Wolfhaven snatched up his signature White Silver boar spear.

Major Hawksclaw struck first, and fiercely, giving his young opponent no quarter. Sir Wolfhaven, for his part, was only briefly forced on his back foot, recovering quickly. His counter attack was savage. Within moments, the combat settled into a furious exchange of blows, Sir Wolfhaven using his reach, with the Major using speed and agility. Both men proved their skill at arms, were there any doubt that the longtime friends were first and foremost, warriors.

Youth overcame experience, as Sir Wolfhaven felled Major Hawksclaw with a savage, if wild blow. Instantly, Corporal Sssahliissstah and RFC Blackstone leaped to heal them both. Though victorious, Sir Wolfhaven did not escape unscathed.

After being healed, both men retired to drink well into their cups. As for the team, we enjoyed being off our feet after a 12 hour shift. The food was heavy, but delicious. The ale, did its job. The music was…martial. To be expected.

I was honestly tired, and getting drowsy when Baron Wolfhaven and the Baroness excused themselves. Within the hour, Sergeant Minor Longtail collected a tipsy Major Hawksclaw, and an unusually introspective Explorer and disappeared. I did not see them for the rest of the evening. Kenzie, Ingrid, and I enjoyed the celebration as it turned rowdy. Eventually, we made it to our rooms where I passed out.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

Awakened early by the bells, I ventured out in search of parchment and quill. I find both and more. The rumors flying amongst the staff is that after being knighted, the young Sir Wolfhaven asked the hand of Lady Evelyn Afliem. She accepted.

That the adopted son of the well known Colonel Wolfhaven asked the hand of the daughter of a traitor was scandalous enough. That she is a creature of mystery and unknown origin only added to the scandal. None could believe that the Baron would consent to such a pairing for his heir and eldest. Odd, considering he married a Shayakar, adopted an Alakar and Brinchie as his sworn, and placed a Tempest commander as the head of his house.

As pleasant as this interlude has been, we still face a long and arduous journey west with the Kal Winghunters still at large, and Storm Guard seeking retribution for our attack. I fear our journey will not be uneventful.

Steelwing

View
Letter to Beloved
Congratulations

Dear “Beloved”,

Rumor has reached my ears that you have had a child. I must express my congratulations for the birth of your child to you and the child’s father.

I do hope this missive finds you and your family in the best of conditions and in good health. Perhaps one day our paths shall cross once more.

Warmest Regards,

“Rover”

View
Campaign Report 114
Storm Guard Raid

Steelwing

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

So, it would seem that we are to return, once again, into the west. I fear that Sergeant Grendel might have an apoplectic attack. Though I have only heard of in rumor, comments, I gather Alpha Team’s mission into the desert was traumatic for him. RFC Ranna seems to take it better, though she is made of sterner mental fortitude.

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

By the evening of the 1st, I and Kenzie were in the Echer’Naught “Memorial” hospital. Though, all the locals still call it the Red Lamp for some reason. Though we were in different wings, regular visits from Ingrid kept me informed on Kenzie’s progress. Thank the Ascended, she was healing well.

All being equal, I am impressed with the service at the Hospital. Though, I as surprised by the large number of “herbalists” and “healers” over your typical Priest/Druid arrangement. It was also the cleanest room I have ever seen. They boil everything!

Kenzie and I both remained in the hospital for three days. The magic healing at the ambush site was more than enough with the best rest and the ministrations of the city’s finest nurses.

Red Wolf 4th, 3127

We were released in the early morning. Ingrid was there to escort us home. The barracks were nice. Though, I’ve heard that married Rangers are allowed “off-base” housing. Maybe I’ll ask one of the more studious Rangers to inquire the official rules and regulations to that ordinance?
I did find that the rest of the Rangers were assigned to light duty. Basic patrols, paperwork, gear maintenance. Hours of mind numbing boredom. If I didn’t know better, I would think we were being punished. Then again, I fear this is a hallmark of all militaries.

If I ever get too frustrated about the drudgery, I just go watch what the poor City Watch or Olaran Sworn get put through. There is not enough money in the world.

Red Wolf 4th-16th, 3127

Most the group scurried around handling their own affairs. Ingrid went to the Sacred Grove and had an “experience.” When she returned to the HQ, she seemed confused or perplexed. Seems she needed to seek spiritual advice. So, she requested a personal meeting with Captain Hawksclaw.

Aronzo appeared from whichever shadow he was hiding within. I wondered why he was conspicuously absent from our “training.” He declined to explain.

Kenzie spent time recovering. We visited her menagerie of animals. And spent quality time together.

Now Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna spent some time together, but I cannot say who is more frustrated. Whatever issues they have, they better get sorted before one or the other loses it when it counts.

I’m not sure what the Explorer does on his free time other than drink and tinker. If it makes him happy. Though, I fear I may be a bad influence on him.

Sssahliissstah…I’m not entirely sure what she does. I saw her with another Dregordian. That one looked high on floaters. Sssvaren? His name sounded like a lot of hissing followed by gibberish.

I think Blackstone made the most progress of all of us. Negotiations with his bride to be seem to be going well. So well in fact, that rumors spread Alpha Team was going to be tasked with escorting Blackstone to the Black Mountains as an official envoy of Stahlheim. I think the stress of command is getting to Grendel. Soon as he heard, he seemed to age.

Funnier yet, I hear that Blackstone had sat down with Sergeant Grendel specifically to address this very mission when the official orders came down. I would have paid good coin to see that.

Red Wolf 16th. 3127

Funnier yet, I hear that Blackstone had sat down with Sergeant Grendel specifically to address this very mission when the official orders came down. I heard he ventured down to the Wayfarer’s Rest where the ogres live just to tell Grendel in person. I would have paid good coin to see that.

Later in the morning, Ingrid spoke with Captain Hawksclaw about unit history. She said something about a massive presence of pure Life energy within Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove. After which, she returned and said something about a Phoenix Moth. Apparently the Moth was some sacred creature and that is why Alpha Team’s patch bore the sign of the Moth… I learn something new every day.

Word on the streets the Lamplighter’s Association had a big soiree up at their manor house. I noted a white horse-drawn carriage clattering over the cobbled streets late on the 16th pulled by six gray horses. Pulling away from the Wolfhaven Manor. Which, in and of itself, means little. But the scary white masked and heavily robed shadows confirmed that the carriage belonged to Lady Moonsilver. I suppose the Rangers are still concerned with Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and his merry band of murderers. I figured it would be unlikely for the Lady to attend such an event without her esteemed husband.

Red Wolf 17th, 3127

We were all about, doing our usual, when Lady Moonsilver contacted us each and ordered the team to meet the Echer’Naught (local) HQ. I assumed, as I figured the others did, that this was in regards to our upcoming mission into the west. To my surprise, we had another mission. This one in the city. I think this would be my first ACTUAL Echer’Naught mission. As a member of the Echer’Naught Rangers, I was excited for the opportunity.

We all gathered in the Outpost’s Library as the entire unit cannot fit in the Captain’s small office. Apparently, Captain Hawksclaw received word that a local gang, the Storm Guard, were operating out of a warehouse in middle town, or the low town side of that district. Apparantly, the Storm Guard gang were also behind, or at least associated, with the theft of the King’s gold. Despite most of the gold being recovered, most of the operation escaped. And I also heard word that a Trainee unit was ambushed outside the city. I never got the details, but a group of Training NCO’s were killed.

Before we began, however, Captain Hawksclaw promoted Corporal Grendel to Sergeant.

He seemed shocked, but resolved to do his duty. After that, the real work began.

Captain Hawksclaw had made arrangements with Captain Vasser of the City Watch. I’ve worked with them a bit, stalwart men, if surly. The City boys would handle our perimeter. Meanwhile, Alpha Team and Beta Team would breach the warehouse hideout. About that time, Lieutenant Wolfhaven entered. Odd, though, I don’t remember seeing him wear any rank. In fact, other than his White Silver Boar Spear and his cloak, he bears no trappings of rank or status.

He arrived well informed. Outlining intelligence on the warehouse, blueprints. He also informed us that his team would enter the warehouse through a sewer grate in the floor of the building. While we provided the “loud” entry, his team would come up below and behind the gang. They would be caught between us, with the Watch on our flanks to round up any stragglers.

It was a sound plan. Aronzo would deploy an explosive at the front door. Something called a “Mad Bomb?” I’d never heard of such a device, but Hawksclaw seemed giddy, and I do believer the Explorer was a bit aroused at the prospect. Clearly, this device has a history.

I was second through the breach created by the bomb. My job was to distract and engage. Something I am uniquely suited in doing. Then, after me, Grendel and the rest of the team, with Ranna bringing up the rear. The Explorer would be stationed opposite the building on a second story roof. Better angle for his shots.

It was then I suggest bringing along Volstagg. I know Grendel disliked the beast, but he has proven useful, I know Kenzie would love it, and, to be honest, I feel kinda sorry for the bear being couped up like that.Captain Hawksclaw agreed, and that was that.

Stepping oustide, we noted a huge, and unexpected storm, had appeared as if by magic. Rain poured down, reducing visibility and quickly clearing the streets. We all went about gathering our gear and by late afternoon, arrived in a warehouse a few blocks away. Captains Vasser and Hawksclaw presided, their teams prepping for war. Sergeant Major Stormhammer, himself, oversaw equipment and logistics. Clearly this was a big deal. Of Beta Team, I saw nothing, but that does not surprise me. Other than Lieutenant Wolfhaven, I have never even seen their faces. The assignment strikes me as a lonely one, but I suppose there are those who gravitate to anonymity.

RFC Ranna was also assigned another “artifact” from something called the "Vault. Apparently, there exists a repository of weapons and armor collected from fallen members of Alpha Team. If that was not morbid enough, occasionally, acting members were issued some items as a subtle reminder of how likely they were to die and have their remains added to the macabre collection.

By dusk, we were suited and ready. Alpha Team made their way through the empty streets as the sun’s light died. In the twilight of dusk, I covered the Explorer as he hauled himself onto the opposite roof and crawled into position. From my perch, I could see Alpha Team in the shadows moving into place. Around the warehouse, gang members, disguised as homeless, lay about in alleys, and doorways. One man, covered in tattoos smoked outside the main entrance.

All we waited for now as Aronzo to trigger the door.

And trigger it he did. I only caught movement as the "mad bomb bounced once, then detonated in a fireball which nearly blew me off the roof across the street. For a good five seconds I was blind, deaf, and dumb. The resulting shock wave ripped through the streets, blowing down stalls, and rolling the guards right out of their doorways. When the smoke began to clear, the central section of the warehouse, clear to the rafters was simply gone. The cobblestones were cracked and blackened. Of the guard, I saw no sign.

Before the enemy could recover, I stepped up to leap into action, when the Explorer barked that he spotted explosives being tossed in the wide hole of the front wall. Anyone going in that way would trigger the mines. So, I changed tack, dropped to my left and buzzed the team in the alley, alerting them to the danger, before diving into the hazy, smoke filled interior.

As I darted inside, I caught glimpses of the azure blue of storm-fire weapons. At best speed in the confines, I skimmed the dusty floor, before rising to the center of the room, then dropped down again as weak and dazed fire tried in vain to track me.

Almost instantly, the wall somewhere to my left exploded inward, and I could see vague shapes pouring in through the haze. In front of me, arcfire traced overhead, punching through the shooters in the loft. One body landed nearly on top of me. Behind me, to the right, sound and motion exploded and men began to die.

As for me, well, mostly I tried to desperately to stay out of any direct lines of fire. The few who staggered to close were easily picked off, but mainly I controlled the center of the warehouse as Alpha Team breached from my left and Beta from behind and the to the right.

I could see some of the team getting struck by glancing blows of Stormfire, but I did not see a single person go down. Late into the fight, Sssahliissstah appeared, but almost instantly the order was given to withdraw. Across the street, the Explorer took a bad hit, but rolled, re-acquired and dropped the ganger.

And that quickly it was done. We exited the carnage and RFC Ranna sniped a few fleeing members before the all clear was sounded. All told, the fight lasted less than a minute. In that time, we blew nearly half the warehouse, killed 22 and Aronzo captured 2, while the watch captured another 3.

Captains Hawksclaw and Vasser arrived to observe the devastation. It was…bad. Bodies lay torn and flung about, some even hanging limp from the rafters. Volstagg was dragging a half eaten corpse, exciting showing his kill to the team, before depositing it at Kenzie’s feet. The warehouse was in ruins. Were it not for the rain, it might have caught fire. Funny that.

As we stood just taking in the sheer brutality, there was a loud creak, then a crack, and then the final supports gave way and the warehouse imploded into a pile of smoldering rubble, burying the wounded and dead. Immediately, city engineers marked off the rubble and mine field, and began clearing away and pulling out bodies. Our work was done.

After a quick moment to heal minor wounds, rack our gear, wash, and climb into clean clothes, we all exited our staging warehouse into a crisp, cool-ish night, fresh from the easing rain. Sergeant Major Stormhammer invited us all down to the Hammer and Anvil for ales. Kenzie, Ingrid, and I took a quick moment to return Volstagg to the Sacred Grove before joining the team for one round. After which, we retired for our own private party in the dwarven inn across the street.

Red Wolf 18th, 3127

By morning, Alpha Team was back in the barracks and making preparations for another long journey into the west.

Here we go again.

Steelwing

P.S. I DID hear a funny rumor that the main gatekeeper we blasted in the initial explosion wasn’t destroyed in the blast. The Watcher says that his body was hurled two blocks and crashed through the second story roof into a man’s bedroom. That poor sod was mid coitus with his young mistress when the corpse killed the mood. He is suing the Rangers for damages, and there might be civil suits. His wife was none-too please, nor was the mistress’ husband.

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Commendation for Ranger Trainees
Red Wolf 3127

Sgt. Mattis
I have read your report dated the 26th, and I congratulate you, along with your team on a job well done. It seems that RFC Jackson, and Ranger Lazen (along with RFC Brianna, and Aliana) performed above, and beyond what could reasonably be expected of fresh trainees.
That said, I have drafted a letter of commendation that I hope you will pass along to your people. Please find that document attached, and along with my compliments, make sure that your team receives this missive:

From: Capt. R.S. Hawksclaw,
Echer’naught garrison commander
To: Ranger, Regional Command, Echer’naught

Let all who read this know,

From the 21st to the 26th of Red Wolf, Ranger Trainees Thok, Aliana, Brianna, Lazen, and, Jackson, along with Sgt. Mattis took part in a comprehensive, and exceedingly dangerous engagement with the enemy just outside the city walls of Echer’naught. Through sheer guile, and determination our Rangers repulsed what could have been a notable threat.
Sadly we have lost several training NCO’s along with Trainee Thok, yet their sacrifice will not be forgotten. The survivors went above, and beyond to bring us actionable intelligence, and for that they shall be commended. Theirs, along with the names of the fallen shall be recorded for posterity.
Special commendations go to (Now) RFC. Jackson, and Rngr. Lazen for their actions in the aforementioned engagement. So let it be known, and so let it be remembered. They have the thanks of a grateful city, and my own personal congratulations.

With best regards,
Capt. R.S. Hawksclaw
Echer’naught garrison commander

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Echer'Naught Ranger Trainee Class Report
Red Wolf 3127 Class

Red Wolf 26th, 3127
Sergeant Mattis

Sirs,

Contained details my report on my unit’s engagement with the gang known as the “Storm Guard” gang known to operate around Echer’Naught. My unit was called to investigate the death of three experienced Ranger Training NCO’s on a training exercise with a recent class.

I was made aware of the incident when I was called to the morgue on the 24th of Red Wolf. There, I found the bodies of the three Rangers, and six “bandits.” The Investigator’s team reported that the three Rangers had been slain by Storm-fire weapons. The “bandits” were killed by our Trainees. Here is the best timeline I can fathom.

Red Wolf 3rd, 3127

Along with a class of about twenty, Trainee Aliana, Brianna, Lazen, Jackson, and Thok take the oaths and join the Ranger Corps. Thus begins their first week of training.

Red Wolf 9th, 3127

In personal combat training, Trainee Lazen scored high marks.

Red Wolf 15th, 3127

In small unit training, Alaina, along with Brianna, score top marks, defeating Trainees Jackson and Lazen in simulated training.

Red Wolf 20th, 3127

As a final Training exercise, the class was ordered to break out by squad, proceed to a designated Training area where they would drill against a unit of experienced Training NCO’s. At this time, RFC Alaina’s team departed Echer’Naught west.

Red Wolf 21st, 3127

Per orders, the Trainee team under command of RFC Alaina arrived in exercise area to train against experienced Rangers. However, when they found the Ranger camp, they found the three Rangers slain, and were immediately ambushed by bandits.

Thok was slain in the first salvo, but the remaining four, RFC Alaina, and Rangers Brinna, Jackson, and Lazen managed to slay the bandits. Wounded, they returned immediately to our forward command camp. Giving their report, they were sent back to Echer’Naught while Rangers were sent to recover the bodies.

At this time, the following Trainees took the cloak:

Alaina was promoted to Ranger First Class
Brianna was promoted to Ranger
Jackson was promoted to Ranger
Lazen was promoted to Ranger

Red Wolf 22nd, 3127

The survivors of skirmish returned to Echer’Naught and were put on medical leave. Meanwhile, the bodies of the fallen Rangers and bandits were recovered.

Red Wolf 23rd, 3127

The bodies of the slain Rangers and bandits delivered to the city morgue.

Red Wolf 24th, 3217

As mentioned, I was called to the city morgue early on the 24th to examine the bodies of the fallen Ranger NCOs and the bandits. There, the Investigation team provided me a detailed report on the wounds. Based on the strange burn patterns, and the magical reside, it was conclusively determined that the Rangers were killed by Storm-fire weapons.

I was tasked with putting together a team to investigate the ambush site and track down the assassins.

Gathering four experienced Ranger scouts, I delved the archives, pulling recent reports on local encounters with Storm-fire.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

In the morning, I requested that the Trainees involved in the previous encounter be assigned to my team. They met me in the city morgue, were I explained the situation and was able to get their insight into the events. We gathered our kit and departed the city an hour before dusk. That night we camped west of the city.

Red Wolf 26th, 3127

My unit, along with three surviving members of the Trainee squad, RFC Alaina, Rangers Brianna and Jackson, arrived at the site of the slain Ranger NCOs, and of the later skirmish between the Trainees and the bandits. When we arrived, we found the site cleared/ After examination, Brianna discovered unusually booted track leading west, and south. We followed the tracks for hours until late in the afternoon. We set up camp, and were establishing watches when it began to rain.

Both Jackson and RFC Alaina sensed magic in the storm. At that point, Brianna saw movement in the trees. I gave a warning, but our position was hit by Storm-fire coming from deeper in the woods. We spread out, taking cover and engaged the enemy force.

From the flashes, I estimate there were five stormlancers and an enemy arcmancer. I saw not Tempest mages, which I found odd. The skirmish was violent and quick. I lost two good men, and took a woudn to the arm, but Ranger Jackson managed to reach me in time, and lay protective spells. Brianna took down the enemy caster and between my Rangers and Jackson, we cleared the rest.

Just after the battle, Brinna spotted a pair of figures fleeing the site from our left flank. I left the spent sorcerers, RFC Alaina and Jackson behind to examine the fallen enemy, with Brianna covering. I took my remaining two men and pursued. We tracked them through dense forest, but lost them in the storm. Returning, we received a report from Brianna that the men were well armed with Storm-fire weapons, but did not appear to be Tempest. Though, they were covered in tattoos.

For his service, I offered the following promotion:

Ranger Jackson was promoted to Ranger First Class

Storm Guard. Reports from previous encounters, particularly Alpha Team, identify the Storm Guard as a local gang equipped with Storm-fire weapons, who use magic Tempest tattoos to emulate Tempest powers. At present. The Rangers do not identify the Storm Guard as working for, or with, Tempest. However, they are well equipped.

Furthermore, I do not believe their ambush of our Training NCO’s was random. This indicates they are well informed of our maneuvers and well coordinated. While they are currently considered only a minor local threat, I suggest that the Storm Guard are far larger, more organized, and dangerous than previously believed.

Sergeant Mattis

Addendum:

Jackson, 14 yr old human, male sorcerer
Lazen, 15ish yr old brinchie male, warrior
Brianna, 16 yr old alakar female, scout
Alaina, 16 yr old human female, sorcerer

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Campaign Report 113
The Hunted becomes the Hunter

Steelwing

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

Be careful what you wish for. You may just get.

Planting Moons 24th, 3127

Riding high after my amazing night, I joined my fellow Teammates in our new found light duty. For the uninitiated, Light Duty consists for all the wonderful drudgery of regular duty, minus any semblance of excitement. We trained, patrolled, and spent hours tending to our gear, tack, and arms. Though, in the evenings, we were free to gather at the tavern and enjoy a round of drinks. The Rangers appear to value esprit de corps, and camaraderie more than any organization I have ever known.

Of note, a new Ranger arrived. We shared a bit of training in the AM of the 24th. Tal’Car. He seemed a bit confused, but a decent enough sort.

Later in the eve, I escorted my lady Kenzie to the Quartermaster where she drew…a rat and a horse. Another horse. And a rat. Oh, and a smart rat. So, she has, a bear Volstagg, two horses, Diego and the new one, and the rat chuckles. She fascinates me.

Planting Moons 25th-26th, 3127

The explorer has managed to arrange for a private repair table. As I passed in the halls, I saw a gaggle of junior engineers huddled around him like lovesick puppies. And speaking of lovesick. If RFC Ranna services Corporal Grendel half as lovingly as she does her Great Crossbow, I envy the ogre. Though, I suspect that weapon is serviced more often and vigorously than he ever has. It also seems that Blackwing’s negotiations have begun to bear fruit. For a minute, he raved about losing his armor or some such. But in the end, he appealed to a “higher power”, whatever that means, and now he walks around like a king. I imagine the idea of marriage MAY be more appealing than the reality.

Planting Moons 26th, 3127

Though I was not alerted until the following morning, Ingrid’s sleep on the 26th was disturbed by a horrid dream. He home village was overrun with life sucking creatures, who turned friends and families into fiends. One of them, a relative, attacked her. Even by the following morning she seemed lethargic and drained.

Also, I hear that Corporal Sssahliissstah met with some guru Sssvaren? He is apparently a Dregordian councilor contracted by the Rangers. She is not the first Ranger, nor even Alpha Team member who has used his services.

Planting Moons 27th, 3127

At first light, Ingrid woke from her nightmare. Kenzie took her to see the healer. Apparently, though she was not attacked, her life essence seemed to have been drained almost as if by a Wraith.The barracks are investigated, but no evidence of Darkness is found. I secretly fear the Winghunter adept has opened a new front in his assault. I say as much to Captain Hawksclaw. He seems…receptive.

Ingrid was summoned later in the morning by Captain Hawksclaw. I was concerned for her. I could barely concentrate sharpening the umpteenth sword until she returned. He wished to speak to her of “Respect for Life” and druidism. Ah, it was a religious service. She seemed pleased as the special treatment, also contemplative.

That night, in the male barracks, two beds over from me, the Explorer wakes screaming. I can smell the coppery scent of blood before I even light a lantern. In the weak light of a hooded lamp, his ruddy body is covered in thousands of bite and claw marks. It appears as if he was mauled.

We sound the alarm, and in moments the entire regional headquarters is awake. All Rangers empty into the courtyard, armed and geared for war as the Explorer is carried to the healers. In the chill pre-dawn air, we wait for orders as armed priests, paladins, druids, and adepts scour the barracks from top to bottom. They even bring in some kind of arcfire magic detection device.

Colonel Anderson showed up quickly. Captain Hawksclaw was not far behind. Sergeant Minor Longtail appeared, spoke with Colonel Anderson and vanished.

Within the hour we were all ordered to head to the Wolfhaven Manor, just up the street. There, Alpha Team was sequestered for our protection. We had been there, maybe a half an hour before Captain Hawksclaw appeared. Maybe, 11:30PM. We are clearly under attack. The team reviews their impressive list of enemies from the past:
Someone called Velkalar
A sniper?
An adept?
Many more…

And we could not forget Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and his merry band of hunters.

Though the names hardly sounded too inspiring, I was impressed that my team had acquired over the years an impressive list of foes. A wise man once said, “You can judge much of a warrior by the quality of his foes.” That man died, however.

I, once again, campaigned for the Rangers to bring the Winghunters to battle. The longer we waited, the more initiative we ceded to the enemy. They would wear us down until their advantage was overwhelming. Again, Captain Hawksclaw heard me out, though I had no idea if it would prompt any action.

We were ordered to stand down, and remain within the confines. Ingrid and Kenzie headed upstairs. Poor Ingrid still looked pale. The rest of us spent the night pacing. I scoured every inch of the manor house looking for weaknesses in the defenses. I was impressed. Also, Sergeant Gendarre, the leader of the House Guard here, a Camonere of all things, at least plied us with wine.

The great upside, I was finally able to join Kenzie and Ingrid that evening. The barracks are a torture. Feeling their warm bodies snuggled under my wings…Celestial Halls.

At some time around the 13th hour, a quartet of masked adepts showed up. They greeted Captain Hawksclaw, before posting up around the Manor. As I have no adept abilities, I wonder how effective they would be against the Kal adepts.

Planting Moons 28th, 3127

Early in the morning, the Explorer arrived under his own power, though looking distinctly like a mummy. Which I have seen. I met him at the door, and I feel we shared a moment. Apparently in his dream, he was home in Norcan Darr and was overrun by Ratzin. That would explain the bites. He headed for breakfast, while I patrolled…and spent time with my beautiful girls.

The Wolfhaven Manor is efficient, and very Olaran. The staff is attentive, if a bit…stiff for my tastes. But, everyone seems generally happy to be working there. That is rare. The staff isn’t mistreated, and the Great Lady of the House, Baroness Wolfhaven is strict, a bit distant, but fair. You can tell much about a Lord by how the least of his vassals is treated. In Wolfhaven’s case, all are treated well.

Oh, and the beds are very firm. Good support, with just the right bounce. And big enough for three.

Planting Moons 29th, 3127

In the morning, word arrived that we had Training scheduled for the 31st. To be honest, I was confused and frustrated. After the assaults on two of our teammates. After they attacked INGRID. After sticking us in protective custody, we were going back to business as usual??? Trust our team. Isn’t that what Captain Hawkslcaw said? I just hoped he knew what the hell he was doing.

Still, two more days with my girls. I wasn’t about to complain. Those beds, though. I might have to see about acquiring one for myself. Then again, I’d need a house…hmmm… Maybe we should talk about putting down roots?

Planting Moons 31st, 3127

We met in Colonel Anderson’s office in the AM. Early. There, we were greeted by the good Colonel, Captain Hawksclaw, the scary brinchie Sergeant Minor Longtail, and the human, Malcom. I’m not sure what he is, exactly, but everyone does what he says…?

Training was straightforward. We would be randomly split into two teams. Each on led by a Corporal. The first scenario was to be a hostage rescue. The second a capture the flag. Sergeant Minor Longtail set up the first, Captain Hawksclaw oversaw the rest. From the expressions of a few, I gathered involving Longtail was…dangerous. I know she works for Colonel Wolfhaven’s staff, but I’m NOT entirely sure what function she performs. Every instinct warns me to not cross her, though.

After the general briefing, the Corporals were separated. We were given separate instructions. Unless directly ordered by the team commander, or directly attacked we were not to act. Apparently they were given their own special instructions.

Reconvened, I was added to Sssahliissstah’s team along with Ranna and Kenzie. The rest of the team, Ingrid, Blackstone, and the Explorer were assigned to Corporal Grendel’s team.

We were up first. The mission, a group of thugs had invaded the Wolfhaven Refuge for Children. Interesting, the Orphanage belonged to, none other than, Sergeant Minor Longtail. Colonel Anderson provided us with maps of the building, but no other information about the hostages, or hostage takers. Corporal Sssahliissstah ordered us down to the orphanage. It was early morning, but traffic around the building was high. The roads were congested.

When we reached the orphanage, the outer gates were open, so we entered and approached the kitchen door, on the east side of the building. Kenzie sent her rat “chuckles” to go look for an alternate route. Meanwhile, Kenzie tried the lock. She almost oppened it, but apparantly the orphanage has amazing security. Ive seen less ornate locks on Lending Houses.

So, Plan B. Ranna bashed the door into splinters. There was an explosion, but no one got hurt. Ranna led us, crashing through the kitchen. Sssahliissstah, Kenzie and I followed, but halfway through, a smoke bomb went off, blinding us all. Ranna continued to crash her way through, clearing a path. We delicately crunched, slid, and bumped our way through the darkness.

Up ahead, something happened. Later, I found out that Ranna had been paralyzed coming into the main room. Which, sucked, but not as bad as both Kenzie and I getting knocked out. I made it…about six feet into the room before going down. Sssahliissstah was given the choice to continue, but lose her team. She elected to end the excerise.

I could tell she took it hard. Which, I felt for her. It was a cocked up mission. However, the REAL issue was why we were doing stupid training exercises while the Winghunters were literally stalking our dreams?!

Later that eve, we got to watch Corporal Grendel’s team try to assault the Dovecote Finishing School for Girls. Still in construction. Apparently this was a venture of Longtail’s daughter? Alpha Team certainly gets around. They tried a head on attack with the Explorer providing cover. Grendel was paralized halfway to the site, and riddled with arrows. The Explorer made it pretty close before going down. Blackstone carried Ingrid underground, popping up like a groundhog. Eventually, he reached the door, which exploded, taking Ingrid out. He made it into the building, but was overwhelmed. Though, he scored a single kill. The only kill of either team.

Oh, and while Blackstone made his solo attack, someone shrank Grendel and stuffed him into a sack. THAT was pretty funny.

We all returned to the Wolfhaven Manor, and got some sleep. No one attacked us during the exercise, or while at the manner, though Sssahliissstah seemed to suffer from the masked adepts brought in to protect us.

Planting Moons 32nd, 3127

We woke and attended the Colonel in his office. He congratulated the team, explaining that the purpose of the training was less about success, and more to teach us communication and following orders. Corporal Grendel looked defeated, and Corporal Sssahliissstah looked angry. The rest of the team was…nonplussed. I for one agreed with the sentiment. During the attack in Granite Port, we fell apart as a team. But, these ridiculous exercises were clearly not helping. The Corporals took them as an affront, and the team was demoralized.

We were weakened and low from failure. Perfect moment for the Winghunters to strike.

Due, I suppose, in large part to our abject failure, the second, capture the flag, training was waved. Instead, we were sent on a “routine” patrol of the north, west quadrant of the city. That’s right. After getting killed in basic training, and with a hunter killer team ready to cut us down…now we were being trained how to walk. Splendid!

We had the rest of the day to really think about our situation. I spent what time I could with Kenzie and Ingrid, keeping watch for the inevitable attack. That night I hardly slept and not for any good reason.

Planting Moons 33rd, 3127

We all headed down to the local HQ. Captain Hawkslcaw provided maps, and information on the area. Again, our orders, head north from the North Barony Gate, head out a few miles, then loop around east and south, sweeping the area. Basic trainee stuff.

The Corporals, hoping to make up for their failures overthought everything. Which, I can hardly blame them. I was so pissed, I was hardly focused on my own task. Foolish mistakes, all.

We pulled gear and prepped. Then, with nothing better to do, we headed North. I flew overwatch, with Kenzie as point. We reached the two mile mark north of the city, and turned east. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, we made our slow progress, being overly cautious. Right at dusk, a friendly farmer offered us his barn and some free ale. The Team was so spooked, they turned him down. We roughed it on the edge of his property, before resuming in the morning.

Red Wolf 1st, 3127

Everything seemed fine. Kenzie was walking beneath me, the team ranged out behind. Then, I saw Kenzie stop, and that a figure was approaching. A figure on fire. I pulled my bow and fired a warning shot.

That’s when the world turned to fire, heat, and ash. Massive explosion, like meteor blasts ripped through the team. I drew another arrow, took a bead on the Flamedance, and she blasted me out of the sky without so much as a sideways glance.

For the…what…third time since joining this team, I felt my wings burn, as I crashed through the canopy into the ground. That’s the last thing I remember until I was revived by a pair of Ranger healers.

As I struggled up to get back to Kenzie, she and Ingrid appeared, running toward me. They were covered and soot, clearly had been injured, but they were alive. I pulled them into my arms and hugged them like the world was ending. Behind them, the rest of the team, equally mangled trotted up.

Long story short. Our fearless leading, Captain Hawksclaw HAD taken my advice to heart and elected to use US as bait to draw out the Winghunters. He colluded with the elves of Landra’ Feya and a Ranger Lieutenant Celebor to stage elven wardens along the woods near our route. He also gathered a force of Wolfhaven Free Rider company, under command of young Alfred Wolfhaven, to teleport in from the flanks at full gallop. Caught between the anvil of the elven archers and the hammer of the cavalry…the Kal were crushed between.

It was a bold plan, flawlessly executed. In fact, someone referred to it as “pulling a Wolfhaven.” I could not fault him. But, he endangered Ingrid and Kenzie. Kenzie could have DIED before his trap sprang.

For that, I cannot forgive. They are my life. Any who would gamble their lives so flippantly…

But they are safe. That nigh, I resolved to show them HOW much they meant to me. Repeatedly.

Steelwing

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New Gather's Strengths
Grendel's report

Grendel once again owe his life to this team. They have proven themselves some of the greatest warriors grendel has ever met. Some days i wonder if i belong in their ranks, let alone act as their leader. Still i will do my duty as a Ranger and as their leader.

Myself and Rana were captured by the enemy through the use of an adept. The team, led by Corp oral newt led a rescue mission to recover myself and Rana. From what me understand they acquired the help of unknown individuals, which is where ill leave it.

The team fought against overwhelming odds, and most were taken down. Newt made her way down to us as the boat began sinking and was able to release Rana and me before we drowned as the boat sink.

The team was separated in the wreckage. Newt, Rana, and myself were set a drift and later picked up by a passing ship. Sadly the kalinesh were persistent. We retreated to the hold but again the ship was taken in flames. That’s when grendel smelt the team but it was too late by then.

Next thing grendel knew he and team were washed up on a strange shore, but i believe that is all grendel can say. We now back in Echer’ Naught with the kalinesh wing hunters waiting for a chance to take us but with our home advantage me believe we are safe, for now at least. What worries grendel most is that the wing hunters may not be our greatest worry right now.

That all,
Corporal Grendel

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Campaign Report 112
Paradise on Earth

Steelwing

Planting Moons 23rd, 3127

There are moments, few, perhaps, but in those fleeting moments of perfection, we find divinity here in the strife and mud. Flying, can be like that…soaring far above the world, the wind caressing your skin. Victory after a hard fought battle. But, nothing in this life compares to love. When hearts beat in perfect sync, when all the barriers that separate us and we become one existential being of pure love, joy, passion… Love…is perfect.

Golden Eagle 33rd, 3127

Early in the morn on the 33rd, the Sea Ranger and two escort ships shipped anchors and slipped away from the port in Prastul, heading back to Granite Port. Our plan was to reach Granite Port within the week and begin a more thorough search, with Newt reporting any sighting along the coast. That was the plan.

A day out of Prastul we hit a fog bank like nothing I have seen. The sailors, though… I’ve found, during what little time I spent near a coastline, that sailors tend toward superstition. Ghost ships, sea people, and more. But nothing strikes more fear, nor has more legends, than the Veil…that milky white mist at the ends of the map.

I have not seen it myself. Though, I have seen the Everwall. I will never forget the fear and anxiety on the faces of the sailors as we slipped into that fog bank. Hardened men who feared neither storm to steel. Yet, these men and women stared into the mist like they could see every horrible death imaginable in its impenetrable white.

Though I never had the courage to ask, I imagine this is what the Veil looks like…from within. Not that I’m stupid enough to actually find out! Still, we drifted through that haze for most of the Golden Eagle 33rd and into Planting Moons 1st.

Planting Moons 1st, 3127

I know that we we drifted no more than 20 hours or so, but it felt as if time stretch out thin. The fog was so thick, you could not see from side of the ship to the other. Every so often, I would reach down to feel the secure substance of the deck or my mind would begin to play tricks, convincing me I was flying through a cloud…even though my wings were still.

And the sound…everything was muffled and hollow. Voices seemed to die on the air. Even the constant creak and groan of the ship faded to a dull ache. It was eerie.

But that was not the most bizarre occurrence in the mist.

At some point, by my guess mid-morn on the 1st, I was on the bow of the ship, helping guide as we split the Jewels. Over the sound of my own breathing, I heard a muffled sound somewhere off the Starboard bow. It was faint, but almost like coughing. I called out, signalling to the pilot.

In the mist it was almost impossible to determine any progress or direction, but slowly, ever so slowly, a shape, low in the water, resolved into view. At first, I could only make out an imperceptible smudge of slightly darker grey in the whiteout of the fog. But, after a moment, the smudge took shape, a low, oblong vessel in the water. Despite the urgency of our mission, we could not help but offer aid. Still, I was anxious. I have known the Winghunters to use wounded Aevakar to lure my kindred to their deaths.

So, as we approached, I kept a close watch around the boat, seeking the telltale flash of Thaumaturgy in the white.

As it neared, I could see the vessel was a small boat, more a life-raft than as ship. And it was heavily laden, lying low in the eerily still waters. And then, I heard it, a faint sound, more a gasp…or a yawn…

Ingrid!

I know her voice like I know my own heartbeat. Shouting to the ship to heave to, I leaped off the bow, fear giving me power. I dropped low to the waves, picked up speed, pulling up right as I reached the smaller boat. It as full of bodies!

Oh Zavonis NO!

I landed as lightly as I could, but the small craft bobbed dangerously. I peered through the murk, trying to make out individual forms in the mass of soggy, ragged arms and legs. Here an ogre head…Ranna! There…a bushy beard. Blackstone!

It was the entire team…plus one more. A strangely dressed, black haired warrior slumped in the bow, seemingly dead. And then I saw them. Kenzie unconscious, head lying in Ingrid’s lap. the fire of her ginger hair a splash of color in the almost uniform white. Ingrid’s eyes fluttered open as the boat jostled. She seemed dazed for a moment, then her eyes locked with mine. They widened suddenly, those beautiful hazel eyes…

Her lips were parched, her skin raw from exposure. He hair was crusted with dried sea-salt… She had never looked more beautiful and ALIVE in that moment. Then others stirred. A voice, I’m not sure who called my name.

Alpha Team was ALIVE!

My girls were alive!

Out of the gloom, the Sea Ranger’s bow loomed and a rope was tossed over. I caught it and secured the boat. Then, a boarding ladder was rolled over the side and I began helping those that could move up onto the deck. Toward the rear of the life-boat, a stretcher was lowered, stabilized by four ropes. I loaded Kenzie onto the cot and watched anxiously until she was safely aboard. Then, I went back for the others. The new guy next.

Everyone seemed exhausted from their ordeal, and some were wounded, from which fight I cannot say. But with a bit of grog and bread in their bellies, they soon showed signs of life. Captain Roberts was kind enough to offer his cabin for those hardest hurt by their time at sea. I personally escorted Kenzie to a bed, Ingrid close by our side. There I stayed for much of the trip to Anasia.

I know through private conversations with Ingrid, and overhearing discussions with the rest of the team and Captain Roberts something of the Alpha Team’s ordeal. After the Malakaran smuggler ship was sunk by the Winghunters, most of the team was washed away. They soon found themselves floating through a heavy mist, not unlike the one in which they were found. After drifting for a while on the open sea, they found themselves washing up on a strange shore.

It was grayish, and rockier than most in Shaintar. The Explorer was unconscious, though I believe the others survived more, or less, intact. The sky was gray, but all admitted to feeling something off about the place. While the others milled on the beach, assessing their situation, Blackstone climbed up the beach to the beachhead. When he reached the top, he described a wide, scrubby plain. In the distance, he saw mountains, and a lone keep…aflame.

One rider, pushing his horse hard, made for the coast, right where Alpha Team had washed up. Blackstone shouted, and the rider veered. That rider, the same man we pulled unconscious from the bow of their boat, is named Marcus Regillus…

And yes, he is related, cousin I believe, to Sir Anaxelum Regillus, Wolfhaven’s right hand man.

When Marcus skidded his horse to a stop, he pulled a scrap of silk from his tunic and held it up for Blackstone to see. It was a crudely rendered copy of the Wolfhaven crest. Clearly, he was seeking Colonel Wolfhaven. When Blackstone nodded in affirmative the man rode down to meet the rest of the Rangers, clearly agitated. From his vantage above the beach, Blackstone spied a horde of angry warriors pouring over the plains toward the coast.

Marcus Regillus motioned for the Rangers to follow, before spurring his horse down the beach. They followed and soon found their way to the life-boat. Marcus Regillus then stripped the saddle and bridle from the horse, before slapping its rump and setting it free. Then, he loaded what little he had on the boat and motioned for the Rangers to hurry. With the enemy horde bearing down on them, the Rangers climbed into the boat, Grendel pushing it out to sea, before climbing inside. On shore, the horde of angry natives fired bows and shouted, but did not attempt to swim out.

After that, none of the Rangers quite knew where they were. Marcus Regillus claimed to be Caladonian from Caldadon or Caladonia. Though he at first could not speak Galean, he quickly, perhaps magically, mastered our tongue. When asked about his world, he said Austeria…wherever that is. From the debates I have overhead, the land is either another land in the Veil around Shaintar, or somewhere else entirely. Another magical plane?

Whatever the case, soon the coast drifted from view and the Rangers found themselves caught in a seemingly endless cloud of thick, white, soupy mist…or fog. Again, not unlike that which they were in when we found them. All attempts at navigation proved fruitless. None of the Explorer’s advanced tradecraft provided a location, though he managed to keep them alive with water from a condensation rigs constructed of their shirts…

Clever…

More worrisome. When Ingrid attempted to summon a Fairy from the Eternal Forest of Landra, she discovered that she was cut off from Life! It was at this point that the Explorer theorized that they were IN the Veil. As mentioned, I have heard in recent days, enough superstition about the Veil to fill a lifetime. The prevailing wisdom is that anyone who enters the Veil, disappears forever, destroyed by the roiling energies trapped in the mist. Though some claim that boats are occasionally simply transported to far flung parts of the world, like time and space have no meaning. A few claim that ships have entered the mist, only to return centuries later full of skeletons, but with fresh food still sitting on the table…

Whatever the case, if they HAVE traversed the Veil, they would be on of the first to live through the experience.

Ingrid speaks of being marooned in the boat, trapped in an endless milky white void, denied day or night. There was no wind, and the water was still as glass. An endless, white torment of slowly losing your mind as you starved to death, or died of dehydration. An inescapable living nightmare…

Soon after rescuing the Alpha Team, the mist burned off and we made good headway. As soon as he awoke, Marcus Regillus demanded to be allowed to contact Wolfhaven. Fortunately, Captain Roberts staffed a Farspeaker who agreed to make contact. I do not know what was said, but our orders were to deliver the team, and Marcus Regillus to Anasia safely. There, we were to wait for an escort from Echer’Naught to secure our travel home.

For the next five days, I split my time between watching the ship’s backtrail and curling in the bunk with Ingrid and Kenzie. By Planting Moons 2nd, I could see the red sailed Pinnace of Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri on the horizon, dogging our every tack. They are persistent, I will give them that.

Planting Moons 6th, 3127

Early in the morning on the 6th, we arrived off the coast of Anasia. Our escorts peeled off to screen us from the sea. Even as we dropped out anchor, a flotilla of small boats paddled toward us from the shore. The lead boat docked alongside and an elven Ranger Lieutenant climbed aboard. He informed Captain Roberts that the Rangers had established a Ranger station in Anasia for Alpha Team to rest and recover until their escorts arrived from Echer’Naught.

We were loaded onto boats, and paddled ashore. Just east of the port town, the local elven Rangers had set a rather large medical encampment. Rangers requiring medical attention were sent to a spacious infirmary tent. The rest of us were provided arms and armor, but no Ranger cloaks or gear. Then, we rested.

Kenzie recovered quickly and I spent most of my time with her and Ingrid. The other members of Alpha team groused and complained about the equipment. But, I think everyone was happy to be on solid ground. When the dregordian of the group is sick of the sea, you know you had a bad trip.

Of the Kal, we saw not sign, but I knew they were out there, waiting. Corporal Sssahliissstah remained with Marcus Regillus. The camp was secured by the elves.

Planting Moons 10th, 3127

Early on the 10th, Sergeant Alfred Wolfhaven arrived with the rest of Beta Teams to escort Alpha Team and Marcus Regillus back to Echer’Naught. I’d not met Alfred before, but I’d heard rumors. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but he was shorter than I imagined. Still, he had the elven grace about his features and an easy manner. His men said little, going about their tasks with quiet efficiency.

Most importantly, Sergeant Wolfhaven brought a large wagon for the ogres, and a few casks of dwarven ale. We all drank and ate well that night.

Planting Moons 11th, 3127

In the wee hours of the morning, we embarked on our homeward trip back to Echer’Naught. Sergeant Wolfhaven rode with us, while two of his men rode off as flankers. The fourth, and last, dismounted and roade int eh wagon with Marcus Regillus. Though Sergeant Wolfhaven was pleasant enough, conversing amiably, his men said next to nothing.

First, we passed Ey’Driegh. The isolated Elven city has grown to serve as the Regional Ranger HQ for the Elven lands. There we stayed in their treetop outpost. I quite enjoyed myself, showing Ingrid and Kenzie the beauty of the elven wood’s canopy.

After that, we passed through Greenvale and the Rangers therein. They welcomed us as long, lost brothers. Apparently, the Rangers of Echer’Naught, and Alpha in particular, have a strong relationship with Greenvale which dates back years. The Rangers who operate from an L-shaped building, at the base of a small hill, just north and west of the city. This headquarters is equipped with its own training grounds, stables, forge, armory, and barracks."

Once through Greenvale we turned north to Farwatch. Again, the Farwatch Rangers share a close, special relationship with Colonel Wolfhaven. As I understand, their commander Thaleon is the Colonel’s personal Priest. We stayed in the renovated the Ermengild Manor. It sits on a key vantage point overlooking the heart of Farwatch. We ate well, and were toasted as brothers.

Planting Moons 21st, 3127

And then, it was the last leg toward Echer’Naught. We reached the city late in the afternoon. As soon as we spied the walls in the far distance, Sergeant Wolfhaven handed Ingrid papers and informed her that were would be entering the city as a merchant caravan. It was then that I noted nothing in our equipment identified us as Rangers. In fact, by any reasonable observer, we were just that…merchants headed into the city to purchase goods. He and his men, save the one who rode in the wagon, rode off.

We waited almost two hours in the long line of wagons seeking to enter the city. Eventually, we were inspected by the Rangers and watch at the gate before being allowed entry without issue. Reaching the Farwatch Gate Market, we were met by Sergeant Wolfhaven and his men, all wearing non-descript clothing. Apparently, they had rode around to other entrances, entered the city, changed and had time to meet us at the market all while we waiting in line for entry. Still, not a bad bit of tradecraft.

We followed the wagons into High Towne through the southern gate and right up to the Regional Headquarters. There, Marcus was immediately escorted to meet Colonel Anderson. We were placed on convalescence and given leave.

Later that evening, we all meet at the Wayfarer’s Rest for drinks. Ivan “The Lighthouse” Sokolav provides a private back room for our party. I admit, I get a bit tipsy, though, I get to show the Explorer a “Tour of the World.” About when we reach Kal, he opens up. He’s actually a funny guy when he’s not being a prick.

At sometime after dark, the party breaks up. I excuse myself to escort Ingride and Kenzie back to their barracks…though we never arrive…

It seems they had done some soul-searching. Funny how almost dying changes priorities. I will say only this, I have never felt closer to my fellow Rangers.

Planting Moons 22nd, 3127

We woke before dawn, procured bribes and headed to recover the unit’s lost gear at the Quartermaster Station. Sergeant Major Stormhammer was NOT pleased to see us. We were “escorted” to a small, private storage room where we spent four hours signing out for our personal gear. Afterwards, the unit breaks up for a bit, I remain with Kenzie and Ingrid.

Around 7:30PM we were all "summoned’ by Lady Moonsilver to meet at the back room of the Barracks Tavern at 8PM, “Sergeant Whitestone’s Old Office”. When we arrive, we find Captain Hawksclaw waiting. Drinks and food provided, he sat us down to chat. The main purpose for the informal meeting place was to discuss our current situation. It seemed that the Winghunters had followed us and were reported to be just south of the city. I imagine they have long since entered, but without proof, I said nothing.

For the time being, until something can be ascertained, we are being kept within the city. For Ingrid and Kenzie’s sake, I approve, though I know has little good it will do ultimately.

I respect the Rangers, and this command, for what they do. But they are ill equipped for this kind of war. Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri is coming and walls or guards won’t stop him. He’ll hit us where we do not expect. Wear us down till we are too weak, and then strike.

To Captain Hawksclaw, I offered myself as bait to draw them out. He seemed amenable to the idea. I just hope the Rangers to do spend to much time deliberating. Every hour we grant them cedes the advantage more and more. If I must sacrifice myself so that they may live, so be it.

After the official brief, the Captain spoke of the old team, reminiscing about days gone by. It is hard imagining the man before me as a young, brash Ranger Trainee… Just five years changed him into the hard bitten warrior Captain so feared and idolized by the Rangers of the city? What horrors must he have seen. This is a hard life. We should find comfort and solace where we may.

With Last Call, we all headed out, us to our barracks, the Captain home to his family. Still, the evening left me with a deep sense of melancholy. Just a feeling that these happy days in the sun may soon fall into shadow and darkness. I clutched Ingrid and Kenzie a bit tighter as we walked back to the barracks.

Planting Moons 23rd, 3127

In the AM, we were invited to the Local HQ. There, we were posted on light duty for the duration. I believe we have mandatory training scheduled. Of our mission, we were sworn to the most absolute secrecy. Which, is easy enough for me, I still have no idea what happened.

With Spring turning to Summer, Alpha Team is home, but stalked by a dangerous enemy. While we tilt at windmills, death stalks our every movement. Still, nothing seems to drag me down. My newfound intimacy is a strong wind which lifts me above such worries and wraps me in warmth and comfort.

Steelwing

Addendum:

Planting Moons 24th, 3127

Tal’Car joined the Rangers

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Rysak Ironblood Last Will and Testament
Died Red Wolf 6th, 3127

To the current members of Alpha team

You may not know me, and I may not know any of you, but I want you to have some advice so you don’t repeat my sins and find yourself dieing all alone without even your cloak to keep you warm. I made a stupid decision that cost me my team, my cloak, and a good friend. Do yourselves a favor always trust your command. Trust your instincts, and above all else trust each other. No one gets put on this team by accident. You will be put Into down right suicidal missions sometimes. You will be shoved into politics, sent to places where no ranger should go. But, in the end you will find it to be the most rewarding team, you will have respect from fellow rangers and mercenaries, and anyone who know of what alpha team does. Trust me when I say it is all worth it. Never loose sight of that and you will be just fine

Sincerely Rysak Ironblood formal ranger fist class of greyson grey rangers alpha team

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Memorandum from Capt. Hawksclaw
Dated Planting Moons 22nd, 3127

From: Capt. R.S. Hawksclaw
To: Regional HQ, Command Staff, and Finance Office
Re: Funding, and special projects for the Echer’naught garrison.
CC: Sgt’s. A. Longtail, S. Ravenwood, Col’s. A. Wolfhaven, Anderson

Greetings,
I have been in this office for just under four months now. The organizational duties, and details are done. Now it is time to get to work.
Per recent events both local, and abroad, I would like to propose a number of initiatives to be undertaken (pending approval/funding) immediately. These are laid out below in order of the urgency that (I feel) these projects merit. If more details are necessary, I will be happy to discuss these initiatives in person. In short, it’s time to expand our operational capacity; with a renewed focus on recruiting, and these measures, I believe we can do just that.

1. Lease or buy more storage space, that the Echer’naught garrison might increase it’s grain, and salt meat stores. This will help, alleviate shortages which would certainly arise, not if but when the conflicts abroad come closer to home.
This initiative would also include increasing our procurement of timber, and other non-consumables. To these ends, and pending approval, I intend to contact Capt. G. Völkstagg via Farspeaker in attempt to secure his estate (already under Ranger contract) for the planting of timber, and/or grain.
I will also make contact with my own people in the Elven Nation to obtain suitable, fast growing saplings, and to research what grain(s) might be planted or hybridized with our native seeds to produce a greater harvest.

2. Train, and equip heavy mounted Ranger infantry. To build on the success of the Wolfhaven Free Riders, I would like to select a small number of suitable Rangers under my command to begin training as heavily armored/mounted infantry.
I would use this team as the core to build a detachment that would act in support of our more conventional/lightly armored Rangers. (Much in the way that the Olarans use their Knights.)
If approved, I intend to seek the guidance of Sir Eric Halten, and work to secure his, or one of his subordinates assistance, and guidance in the training program.

3. Heavy weapons. I want to build a battery of no less than eight smaller/mobile siege weapons (preferably wagon mounted ballista or scorpions) to support Ranger operations in the vicinity of Echer’naught.
This one is pretty straightforward. We will acquire the weapons, train the crews, and divide the battery into two sections consisting of three or four engines each. The sections would be supported by an ordinance wagon, and a detachment of mounted archers each. The ordinance wagons will be fitted with parts for repair, and ammunition. The detachment of mounted archers will serve as scouts, spotters, and support.

4. Form a committee to research less conventional tactics, and weaponry. For instance, more effective means of weaponizing salt. Whether it be through napping it into arrow, and/or crossbow heads.
Researching Arcfire, and how it may be employed more effectively, and on a larger, more accessible scale.
More effective deployment of magic, both offensive, and defensive.
Things of this nature… In short, to improve, and continue to build on what we already know. All this is because if we become complacent it will be our downfall, and while I’m in command we will continue to change, and improve.

That’s all for now, but I’m sure there will be more to follow. Thank you for your consideration. Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully Submitted,
Capt. R. S. Hawksclaw

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