Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

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

View
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

View
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

View
Campaign Report 111
A Pirate's Life

Steelwing

Golden Eagle 33rd, 3127

Like old times. Bad memories. Two months, still no sign of the Alpha Team. No sign of Ingrid or Kenzie. Ascended protect them…wherever they are…

First Hunt 2nd, 3127

Up close the Kal-A-Nar Carrack was a MONSTER. Sixty meters long, twenty meter beam, displacing 500 tonnes, she sported three square rigged masts. For defense, she was armed to the teeth with fourteen ballista, and a crew of dozens. Daunting to say the least.

Facing off against the titan were three Black Armada war caravels. By comparison, they looked like flees harassing a bear. Only eighteen meters long, and five meter beam, even combined they were dwarfed by Carrack. But they were fast, and circling like sharks. Each with four ballista of their own, they had almost the firepower of the Kal warship.

Unfortunately, the rest of the team, minus the command staff, commandeered the slowest dinghy in the fleet. I made a few passes of the Carrack, looking for Novri or his merry band of murders, but saw no sign of the Winghunters on the deck. A few of the ship’s crew took pot shots, but I stayed out of range.

Banking back around the stern of the ship, I caught the flash as the hot shot fired from the port side ballista blew the team’s longboat to smithereens. There was nothing I could do. I sprinted for the wreckage, heart in my throat. To my relief, I could see the bobbing heads of the Rangers splashing toward the Carrack.

Fortunately, with their boat destroyed, the Kal turned their attention back to the circling Caravels. I have to give them credit. The Malakaran certainly knew their work, and were bold. Stone shot shattered against the hull, raking the deck. Solid iron shot slammed into the hull, bouncing off the reinforced timbers. For their part, the anchored Carrack had difficulty targeting the fast moving pirates. For the moment, the battle was a stalemate.

In the water, the Rangers, and surviving allied pirates swam, or in the case of Blackstone and the Explorer, paddled for the ship. The dwarves each bobbed with the swells, tied to empty barrels. Their pace was torturous.

Crossbowmen along the port bulwarks knelt, keeping aim on the Rangers in the water, waiting until they swam into Range. They were bobbing ducks. I knew they would never reach the ship alive without cover. Over the next 10 to 15 minutes, I fired on and dive-bombed the port side of the ship, trying to keep the Kal focused on me and not the team in the water. It worked well enough, but with the high swells and choppy ocean waves, the team made almost no progress. Worse, I see Kenzie and Ingrid far behind the others.

Abandoning my efforts to provide cover, I spring past the lead group and drop lines to Kenzie and Ingrid. I need to get them to the boat fast, before they are riddled with crossbow bolts…or worse. Ingrid grabs on, but Kenzie takes a few tries. A firepot smashed in the water around them, lighting the ropes on fire, but not enough to shake them loose. I take a bolt to my shoulder for my efforts. It hurt, but not enough to impair the wing. Once both women are tied fast, I spring back for the ship.

By this time, the others were in range and the aforementioned crossbowmen had opened fire, peppering the sea. As mentioned, the boat was huge, and the deck loomed over a story above the waterline. With few, if any handholds, and the hull slick with brackish algae, there was little, if anything, to use to climb. But that was their problem. I was rapidly approaching that massive, wooden wall. I had to time it just right. Too soon and Kenzie and Ingrid would miss the deck and be flung over the starboard side. Too late and…splat.

Waiting until the last moment, I dropped to the deck, picking up speed. Cleared the bulwark by a feather. Scared the scat out of two crossbowmen leaning over for a shot at the Rangers in the water. Then I climbed for all I was worth. Pulling both Kenzie and Ingrid out of the water took everything I had, plus I think I got a boost from Zavonis. The sea wind certainly buoyed me at that moment. I blasted into the air faster that I have ever flown in my life, and then felt the sharp, painful jerk of the line as Kenzie and Ingrid were yanked out of the water like trout on a line.

Whether by skill or luck, my plan worked. Both women cleared the bulwark and started swinging over the top deck. I banked hard fore, trying for an arc, rather than just launch them over the other side. Kenzie made the drop, hit the deck and slit hard into the far bulwark. But she made it. Ingrid hung on a bit longer, flinging further across the deck, but she stuck the landing. The weight shift nearly slammed me into the mast, but I managed to recover.

The rest of the crew was still paddling in the water. Some of the pirates were trying to scale the port hull with knives, while the Rangers paddled to the anchor chain. On deck, the pirates swarmed Ingride and Kenzie, who were now alone. I came across for a pass to clear the girls, before banking around the far side and covering the Rangers in the water. Out to sea, the Black Armada ships were closing. With the Ingrid and Kenzie tying up two ballista crews, the outgoing fire dropped, allowing the pirates to close.

And then a new vessel, smaller even than the pirate carracks appeared. I could not tell from the distance friend or foe. But, I had an ill boding. Where was Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and his team?! Why had they not appeared. Something wasn’t right.

On the aft castle, the ship’s captain shouted for the crew to get underweigh. One crew put their backs into the anchor winch, while others unfurled the sails. If they didn’t hurry, the Rangers in the water would be left behind. It broke my heart, but I left Kenzie and Ingrid, circling back around for the dwarf and the builder. They were the slowest. I threw them lines, and they both managed to grab on. This time, I just aimed for the anchor, where Aronzo was already scrambling up…

Where in the Abyss did he come from?!

With three Rangers on the chain, Nest clawing up the side, and Kenzie and Ingrid on deck, things seemed to be going our way at last…until I saw the first pirate ship burst into flames. I never saw the shot, just flames rippling over the deck like a living thing. Then Aronzo because Grendel, and the anchor crashed back into the sea, taking the, now, ogre with it. Newt made the deck and engaged the Kal crew. Ingrid lay down a torrent of bolts, ripping through the crew, but Kenzie was hard pressed.

I swept around, clearing space for Newt to break free as Aronzo, as Grendel, launched the brinchie and dwarf onto the deck…right into a group of Kal. Winging back around, I ripped through their ranks, cutting down two, and nearly knocking another off the boat. Kenzie started grappling one of the Kal crew, dangerously close to going overboard and our boatswain, the pirate in charge of the sunken longboat reached the deck. He immediately started to turn one of the ballista.

A second pirate ship exploded off to starboard and the third was tacking in our direction. The Kal Captain ordered the ballista turned in and fired away at the Rangers on the deck, paying no heed to their own crew. The Explorer tried to disable one of the ballista but his waterlogged arclance sputtered. Newt sprinted for the lower decks, while the rest of the Rangers battled to clear the top deck. I was swinging around for another pass when a flurry of bolts slammed into me. I hit the deck hard, nearly blacking out.

Above me, Kal were leaping over railings, swords drawn. Then the entire ship lurched to the side as the last pirate ship, ablaze, rammed us amidships. From the flames floated a familiar figure. My heart sank. Novri’s Flamedancer…

Now I know what happened to the pirates. Of the Winghunter himself, no sign. But she was enough.

Rough hands grabbed me. I saw more Kal tackle Ingrid and Kenzie, struggling to subdue them. Amidships, the Carrack exploded as the Flamedancer brought down a veritable firestorm. Two blasted near the center mast cracked the 200 foot vessel in half. A third blew off part of the bow, obliterating the Blackstone and the Explorer. From that direction, a Horde Champion reared its head, and began to bathe the ship in flames. Only Newt remained. The rest of Alpha Team were missing, captures, or dead…

And the ship was sinking around us. I tried to cut my way free to Kenzie who was nearest, but the ship pitched wildly and I was dashed against the aft castle, which was suddenly below me. I must have hit my head, because by the time I regained consciousness, I was no longer in the sea. I woke in an iron cage. Someone was kind enough to line the floor with straw.

My worst fears were suddenly realized. The Winghunters had captured me…I knew what would happen next. Oddly, all I could think about were the Rangers, in particular Kenzie and Ingrid. Had they survived?

But, it was not the Winghunters… The man who crawled into the small after compartment where my cage hunt was a Malakaran. Smuggler, by the stench. He cooed over my pretty plumage. Though I was certainly pleased to be spared the horror of the Kal, I doubted that this man had much better planned. He ignored my demands to know who had captured me, or where I was. Something seemed off about all of this. How was I found and “rescued” so quickly after the battle?

First Hunt 3rd, 3127

I’m not sure how long I was in the dank cell, though it did not seem like more than a day, when the ship started lurching violently. Then, a hole burst through the hull near me. Water began to pour in. Wonderful. The smugglers were under attack!

I worked feverishly at the bars, but to no avail. Stripped of gear, tired, wounded, and weak from exposure, there was little hope I could break free on my own. Ultimately, I was freed, but not how I would have preferred.

As I struggled, a shot tore through the hull and smashed the cage against the wall. On the bright side, it warped the bars enough for me to escape. On the other hand, my right wing shattered under the impact. Through the blinding pain I swore as I wrenched the door open…water pouring in over my head. I just managed to free myself when the ship exploded.

I was under water, so the shockwave only knocked me out…again…

First Hunt 5th, 3127

When I regained consciousness this time, surprising as it seems, I was popping in the tide along a wide stretch of white sand. My wing ached, clearly broken, my lips were cracked, throat parched. I was in bad shape, but alive. Dragging myself ashore, I looked around through eyes nearly swollen shut for other survivors or debris…but saw nothing. So, I staggered inland, looking for water, food, and shade. After a while, I collapsed near a fresh water stream. There, I faded in and out of consciousness. I’m pretty sure a night passed.

First Hunt 6th. 3127

I woke, sometime on what I now know as the 6th. Local natives, darker skinned Korindians found me and brought me to their village. I don’t understand the language, but they seem kind enough. Their “healer” set and bound my wing, but I won’t be flying for some time. I tried to ask about other survivors, but either they don’t understand, or they have seen no one. As soon as I am able, I will go looking myself.

First Hunt 13th, 3127

Over two weeks and nothing. I have no idea what happened to the rest of Alpha Team, whether they survived the battle on the Carrack, or where they could be. But, every time I think of returning to Echer’Naught, I get this terrible feeling that I must stay. Call it loyalty, call it intuition, but I don’t think the others are dead… No, Kenzie and Ingrid are alive. But where?! I will find them. Whatever it takes.

First Hunt 15th, 3127

They found me!

I could smell the smoke from the shore. A black column blotting out the morning sky. The village was burning, villagers slaughtered. All because they gave me shelter. Damn the Kal.

I was fishing with some of the villagers, tossing nets from small boats when Novri’s band struck. I tried, Zavonis knows but I tried to get back. It was too late. And, the dying villagers were just the bait, to draw me out. Damn but it almost worked.

I couldn’t save them, but I did not allow their death to be in vain. My wing doesn’t work well, but I can glide. And I’ve been here now for almost a month. I know the land, the terrain. The locals showed me what to eat, how to fish. The Kal must burn their way through, but I can move faster. Stay ahead.

Danton. I think that’s a large town, or a city. Maybe the only on the Island. Maybe there I can find help.

First Hunt 17th, 3127

Killed two Kal today. But they got too close. Damn the Flamedancer. She’s taken one of the locals. Using him as a guide…must keep moving.

First Hunt 20th, 3127

Reached Danton. Large naval town. Not much different from any other. But not big enough to hide me. Stay on the island, keep dodging the Winghunters, or try a ship?! Dammit.

The Kal are already here. Their ship is off the coast. A small Pinnace. That was the ship I saw near Granite Port. Small, fast. They are watching the docks while their hunters close in from the jungles…

If I can’t slip passed, I’m a dead duck.

First Hunt 18th, 3127

Stowed away on a cargo hauler. Glided from the docks and slipped in past their sentries. At least the Kal won’t know. Hopefully they won’t find me for a few days…

First Hunt 19th, 3127

They found me. Have to fly…

Zavonis be praised, found another ship. Galean warship on escort to Nazatir. Captain Gillead welcomed me aboard, once I proved I was a Ranger. Looks like I’m going to Nazatir. At least the wing works.

First Hunt 23rd, 3127

Lookout spotted a sail on the horizon. Captain Gillead thinks we are being followed. Novri. Even he isn’t fool enough to attack a fully armed Galleon even with his precious Flamedancer. But, what happens when I get to Nazatir?

First Hunt 27th, 3127

I asked Captain Gillead to let me off at the South Landing of the Jewels. Less civilized, with a cluster of island close together. I can keep ahead of the Kal for months if need be. The good captain obliged and I arrived at the landing late on the 27th. By the 13th hour, I watched from a high perch as Novri’s crimson rigged Pinnace sailed into view, dropping anchor just off shore. The hunt resumes.

Golden Eagle 30th, 3127

Sleeping briefly, moving islands every few days. I think the Winghunters are getting frustrated. They’ve torched half a dozen communities, but I’m careful to avoid the locals. No reason to involved them in this. Still, the local population do not appreciate the Kal presence… Already Nazatiran privateers have arrived. I haven’t seen the Kal Pinnace in a week or two… Maybe I can leave now. Leave Novri trapped here…

Golden Eagle 31st, 3127

Hitched a ride with one of the Nazatiran privateers. Promised payment when we reached Nazatir. I know we don’t have an outpost, but I know the Rangers have a presence.

Golden Eagle 32nd, 3127

Ascended be praised. None other than Captain Roberts was docked in Nazatir. He happily paid my passage, and for the first time in months I am clean, fed, and armed. But, his news could not be more dire…

Alpha Team is missing! Corporal Newt reported in week after the battle. She washed up east of Granite Port. Took her weeks to fish wreckage out of the sea, but most of the smuggler’s cargo was recovered, along with much of Alpha Teams gear, neatly packaged and ready to sell on the Black Market. That was around the 17th of First Hunt. Then, around the 30th of the First Hunt, Muriel arrived in Echer’Naught along with Tina, Tiny, Max, King, and Diego. All accounted for and healthy. They even managed to bring along Grendel’s club and Ranna’s Great Crossbow which they, apparently, recovered from the street in Granite Port.

I was presumed dead, along with the rest of the team. For some reason, even Lady Moonsilver could not contact me. Though, she was able to communicate with Newt. By the 32nd of Golden Eagle, when I ran into Roberts, all the Team’s gear and mounts were back in Echer’Naught and there was a discussion whether to declare them Killed in Action. Again, the inestimable Captain Roberts paid for the services of a Farspeaker to let me contact Regional Command and inform them of my situation.

Command was surprisingly happy to hear that I had survived, but were concerned that I had no more information to provide. Situations were progressing back home. The War in Camon was over, more or less. Apparently a Coronation was set for next month. I explained that the Winghunters were still tracking my movements. The Rangers ordered me to remain in the region, authorizing Captain Roberts to provide transport and protection.

The search for the team continues.

Golden Eagle 33rd, 3127

The Sea Ranger and two escort ships left port in Prastul, heading back to Granite Port. Corporal Newt has been keeping an ear out for information about possible sightings. We should be there in a few weeks…

Ascended save that they are alive…somewhere…

Steelwing

View
Campaign Report 110
Wherein Alpha Team Turns to Piracy

Steelwing

First Hunt 2nd, 3127

We can never outpace our demons. This much is true. How much worse, then, when one’s demons are actual…demons?

Falling Ice 32nd, 3127

We slipped out of sight of Almahrad aboard the merchant boat. Though I shared my bed with Kenzie and Ingrid, we did not share ourselves. Quarters too cramped and I fear that the good Corporal has allowed his position of power, and moral authority, to begin imposing his will upon us.

That will go poorly for him in the end. But, for the time, I must abide.

The trip was a lazy, if boring, drift down the river to the port city of Granite Port.

First Hunt 1st, 3127

We arrived in the soot covered city late in the eve on the 1st. There, we disembarked, along with our animal companions. All were winched, or led, safely to the docks. Muriel, ever the ass, elected to leap off the boat and swim her way to shore.

Once on solid stone, Corporal Grendel elected to split the party. He took Ingrid and Aronzo with him, leaving Corporal Sssahliissstah in command of the rest. I take it, from his tone and bearing, that he intends to intentionally keep me apart from Ingrid. Which, is entirely within his purview, though if a case can be made that we are being singled out for biased treatment based upon his own proclivities, I will have no choice but to file formal charges.

If fraternization within this unit is disallowed, so be it. But, for the good Corporal to maintain a flagrant relationship with someone UNDER his command, and punish peers for similar conduct, that will not stand.

Corporal Grendel, and Rangers Ingrid and Aronzo headed down the docks to find a ship home. Corporal Sssahliissstah took the rest of us into the city to find lodging. It was only well after this, that we were informed that the Corporal’s had made no provisions to link up after our tasks were done.

If that bit of poor planning were insufficient, Corporal Sssahliissstah got our party well and truly lost, at night, in a foreign city. Things became so dire at one point the ass strolled into a nearby bar and purchased a drink, with the druid Blackstone, and my dear Kenzie trying to lure her back. At that moment, I was sore tempted to join Muriel.

Once she returned, I was ordered to fly aloft and find the others.I did so, though the process was both foul and infuriating. Still, I did my duty and spotted Corporal Grendel, standing on the docks where we had parted was hours before like a lost child waiting for its mother.

So, covered in soot and grime, I led my group back to the docks. And if that were not bad enough, things were about to get far, far worse.

We reached a sidesreet between a row of taverns perpendicular to the docks, and just in shouting range of Grendel’s unit when RFC Ranna, who was with our group, stopped, raised her crossbow, and fired a bolt into Grendel’s head…

That was about the time I realized that we were all going to die.

Crossbowmen appeared on the roofs to either side, and RFC Ranna racked another shot.

The alley exploded into action…and also it exploded.

The fireball lifted me up, and dashed me into a wall. Also, it lit my wings on fire.

The rest of my group were scattered, dazed and badly burned, save for maybe the dwarf. I’m not entirely sure. I did spot some of the animals, King the mule and Max the goat, fleeing with their tails, quite literally, on fire. The others, better trained, stayed their post. Mores the pity for them.

Then, something landed heavily on the Explorer. Some gangly for armed monster. Before we could help, it clamped down on his rifle sack over his shoulder and started…feeding.

Great, now the winghunters have creatures that eat arcfire. Ranna continued to pour fire into Grendel who was charging her. In that, at least, he put duty above his tarse.

Crossbow bolts rained and a figure stepped from the smoke behind us in the alley.

Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri

My worst fear was realized. And these damn fool Rangers would probably stay in this charnel house until his men cut them down…every, last one. To save them, I would have to possibly kill Ranna and then lead that bastard away. If not, I would have to watch him rip the hearts out of more women I love…

He flicked through our ranks like a thratchen, his blades cutting a bloody swath through the Rangers. And then he came for me, as I knew he would. I danced back, pain shooting up my wings. He missed, his bloodsteel blade biting deep into the cobbles. Before he could reset, I moved.

Wings ablaze, the heat and agony making me dizzy, I launched, clawing to gain altitude. Ranna was easy to hit. A wing blade across her throat…and she topped like a child’s toy. I heard, more than saw, her crash through the front display of one of the tavern.

Behind me, Novri howled in rage…and then pursued. I could feel the heat of his rage, hear the sick pop as he winked into and out of existence. I had little time before my feathers all burned up and I was a dead man. But, I had speed. Even his little magic trick was little match for Zavonis’ child.

As I turned the corner out of the alley, I screamed for them to run…though I very much doubted commanders had that much sense.

I poured on as much speed as I could, ignoring the stench of my feathers and flesh burning. Below me, ale addled faces stared up in mute horror and fascination as I roared past like some crazed meteor. Slowly but surely, I gained ground and put buildings between myself and the hunter.

When the time was right, I dove into a canal, plunging into the oily, stinging water. Instantly my wings doused, and I passed out from blood loss and pain. Novri obviously didn’t find me. And I don’t know how long I was out. Not long, as I didn’t drown…though very nearly did.

Crawling out of the drink, I got my bearing and tried to move my charred wings. The agony was too great. I couldn’t flap…but maybe glide?

So, like a damn fool, I mounted a nearby roof and tried to get altitude for a least a brief flight…and simply crashed through the front of a bar. My vision swam as pain quickly overtook me. Before I blacked out again, I availed myself of the ready ale, trying hard to dull the pain in the wings.

I was well and truly in my cups when boots crunched on the glass behind me. As drunk as I was, I showed far less apprehension that I should have, given the circumstances. But it was not Novri, or any of his ilk, but the Builder, out hunting on his own.

Dear ascended, what terrible calamity must have ensued for the Builder to be off alone. Was he the only one left? Even through the haze of alcohol my heart sank.

But, it seemed my worst fears were not realized this day. Most of the team had actually survived. Well, not the COMMAND element, but based on their recent behavior, I am neither surprised, nor particularly put out. Honestly, Muriel and Tina seem to have the most experience, sense, and grit than the rest of us. Were it up to me, I’d vote for them to take command.

Anyway, the Builder covered me as I staggered north. There, he pointed out a seemingly abandoned warehouse where, it seemed, that the team were holed up. A new character, I would discover after sobering her name was Newt. An attractive Brinchie. Coal black with a white tipped tail.

You know, I’ve never been with a Brinchie. Something about cats and bird, but…I’m not averse to the idea.

Blackstone appeared with the Brinchie. She bore a Ranger cloak, RFC pin, and a faded and charred Alpha Team patch. Hmmm?

Someone led me to a bed. I think it was Blackstone as the hands were rough, and right around my left knee. I THINK Ingrid and Kenzie tried to come to me, but were prevented…again. This by the cat? Maybe? There was a lot of shouting and I was, if I have not said, quite sloshed.

Someone steered me into a bed and I remember nothing else…

…until Newt kicked me awake and shoved something between my lips. It tasted foul, but damn if it didn’t pick me right up. First off, my wings sprouted new feathers and my inebriation vanished like shadows at dawn. I was healed, mostly, and sober.

First Hunt 2nd, 3127

Sometime during or after the 13th hour, I stood in a back safe room with what remained of the Alpha Team. So far as I can gather, this is what happened after I led Novri away.

Aronzo got the bright idea to run away. For some reason, the four legged monster went after him. Kenzie got a vision from the Silver Unicorn to retreat north. Which, of course all NCOs ignored. Corporal Grendel was puppeted and nearly slaughtered Kenzie. The explorer took out Grendel, leaving Corporal Sssahliissstah in command. She went berserk.

This left Blackstone in charge. HE ordered the team to retreat north. Finally. So, he, riding Tiny, and Ingrid, on foot headed north, and the Builder loaded Kenzie on Muriel’s back, and covered her north.

Wait, I completely forgot the part where in the midst of this insanity a flamedancer appeared cutting Rangers down, then ordered the puppeted Grendel to pick up Ranna and take her south along the docks.

What makes that interesting is even AFTER regaining what passes for her sense, our fearless leader, Corporal Sssahliissstah, charged after the Ogres, for some damn reason. Oh, and a gargoyle, or Aronzo appeared. Still confused on that point.

Anyway, someone FINALLY did the sensible thing and dropped Sssahliissstah. Our or theirs, hardly matters. And Aronzo fell into the ocean. Tina had to save him. See? The mule and the goat. Clear leadership material. Can’t hardly do worse that the Ogres and the Dregordian?

Now, The team is safe, save for the Ogres who are LONG beyond resucing without a team effort. And Sssahliissstah who is bleeding out on the docks. Oh, and Aronzo who is puking in the water.

The team, en mass, elects to go back to rescue Corporal Sssahliissstah. Makes sense, right? Except, those crossbowmen that were riddling them with bolts about five minutes before, are just covering the Dregordian’s body waiting for one, or two of the Rangers to break cover to rescue her.

The ENTIRE team obliged.

I was honestly at a loss. Blackstone resurrects Corporal Sssahliissstah putting her back in charge. Now, in her defense, she was not aware that they were standing in the crosshairs of the bowmen. But, instead of pulling her decimated and HIGHLY injured team back to regroup, no, she orders most of the Rangers north with Newt, who she did not know, and she orders Kenzie, on Diego…

…Oh, yes, during all of this, Blackstone healed Kenzie and Ingrid as Newt collected the scattered team after the fight. Sorry.

Back to the docks. Corporal Sssahliissstah decides to run down the docks, into the night, after the flamedancer who just wrecked her team, with just Kenzie. Oh, and she AGAIN did not establish where the rest of the team would be. So even if she HAD found the ogres, who would she tell?

Then the crossbowmen opened up and started dropping people. RFC Newt leads most of the rest of the team out of danger, but Kenzie, my beautiful, bold Kenzie followed orders…

Until Sssahliissstah went berserk, rushed the crossbowmen and was cut down. After repeated insane orders, Kenzie took command of the situations and got herself and Diego to safety leaving the Corporal bleeding out on the docks.

Newt led them to her safe warehouse. Where Blackstone healed up the Explorer with the last of his juice. He came to find me and that’s where my recollection began…

This was all explained as a stood alternatively bewildered and seething with rage. Every fibre of my being screamed to leave the ogres and dregordian to their fates. But, I swore an oath, and I am a man of my word. So, I agreed to help the Explorer hunt down the ogres.

Slipping out into the wee hours, we stalked through the city, my low flying, his covering me from the ground. It took hours, but we found ourselves at the southern docks. Where I expected this chase to end.

So, while the Explorer perched on the roof of a dockside wainright’s office, I spent an hour low flying every ship in the harbor. Dozens of ships. One of the farthest out was a massive three masted carrack.

I’m no sailor, but the ship was large enough for hundreds. No sooner did I buzz the mast then archers opened up. Two grazed me and I could feel the bloodsteel burning. Yep, that was our ship.

Making my way at top speed, I dodged missiles until I reached the Explorer. He covered the ship while I headed back to report. So, the Ogres had been taken by the Kal to their ship sitting a quarter mile off the coast. They had maybe a hundred Kal soldiers, plus crew. Let’s not forget the flamedancer, the beast, and Novri himself.

I requested permission to return to the Builder. Mostly because I feared leaving any of our team alone in this particular theatre of war. But mostly because I was beyond caring what insanity we embarked upon.

We were going to attempt a rescue. That was a given. How many we would lost for the sake of two? That remained to be seen. But I swear to whatever powers hear such things, I will die before those bastards take Kenzie or Ingrid. If only I could make the Rangers understand. This whole operation is suicide.

We have only three options. Run, and live at least for a while. Eventually Novri would find us in Echer’Naught, but there we would have the backing of the corps. Yes, we’d lose Corporal Grendel, RFC Ranna, and Corporal Sssahliissstah. But, truth is, the dregordian was gone. He body had been removed from the docks and we have no idea if the Kal took her or another faction.

Second option, fight. But, what the Rangers fail to understand is that the ONLY was to survive is to kill EVERY LAST KAL. If even ONE lives, they will never stop hunting us. These are Winghunters. They do not stop, they do not relent. Only the Tor Mastak are more dogged, and odds are that Novri and the Empire’s secret police have quite a cosy relationship.

Third, die.

Honestly, we’ll probably all die no matter what we do.

An hour before dawn, the team arrived following RFC Newt. They were all kitted up with warfaces on. As I feared. Group suicide.

From the harbor, a longboat padded quietly to beach on the sand nearby. A swarthy boatswain stepping off and scowling at Newt. In short, Alpha Team had hired a flotilla of pirates through criminal proxies to assault a Kal vessel under a sovereign flag in international waters. And, during the midst of the assault, our team was going to board the ship and effect a rescue of two towering ogres, on the ocean, with nothing more than a dinghy and gumption.

Damn my word.

With the rising sun, three black sails appeared on the horizon. They turned like sharks toward the carrack bobbing lazily in the distance. As they closed, they hoisted the flag of the Dominion’s Black Armada. The worst of the worst. The Maelstrom of the sea. Perfect.

RFC Newt ordered the team, sans the animals, into the boat and the oarsmen pulled away from the beach. I floated above until they rowed past the congestion of ships into the deep greenwater of the coast. Out to sea the carrack’s siege weapons woke and went about their deadly work. In answer, the war caravels of the Black Armada circled raining their own death upon the Kal crew. Overhead, the clouds spun as the wind picked up, clawing at sails, cloaks, and flags. Sea magic.

Battle was joined.

The oarsmen put their backs into the work and the little ship lurched into the teeth of hell. With a kiss to my ladies, I sprinted ahead, tasting the wind. If we are to die, let it be glorious. Tonight, we dine in the Abyss.

Steelwing

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Back in Desert City
Grendel's report

We back in big fancy city next to desert. I fear being this close to that place. It full of hardship and death, but luckily we not have to go there.

We sent here to escort Nexus, Captain Volstagg’s mate and trusted friend and ally, and their three children.

We arrive by boat a few days prior and the city had just allowed Rangers to open a new headquarters. That also why Volstagg here since his is the new tor’mastak, or what humans call Captain.

It was nice to see him again. He helped me become better at leading this team. It full of new and strange beings and cultures me never interact with before. But I know that I can rely on them, especially Rana.

Luckily we will he leaving soon, and me ready to get the team away from this place.

We have also gained a new team member. He look like dwarf but me know he not. He have strange new smells, that me assume come from strange magic he wear and use, I believe it called arc-fire. He seem strong and capable and Grendel believe he will be a good addition to the team.

I hope Celesia will guide me in leading my new gather, me I know I need all the help I can get. Though I know I can rely on them too, and me hope they can rely on me too. That all.

- Grendel

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