Campaign of the Month: June 2018

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

Campaign Report 120
Blackstone Marriage, Clan Rockbreaker Marches to War

Steelwing,

Festival Moons 1st, 3127

I have never known children to be born of Aevakar and any other race, even among the elves. Yet, we are a isolated race, keeping much to ourselves. If such a miracle is possible, Kenzie, Ingrid, and I are certainly striving. As we sit and await our fates, I look upon them and cannot help but wistfully dream of a day where we might live together in peace.

Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

We were sent to cower in the Stahlheim’s Trading Outpost under the protection and hospitality of the ranking Merchant, an ornery old coot, but a decent soul. I imagine in his youth he was a firebrand, and I have enjoyed many of his fireside stories. Though, I hardly believe his exaggerations, there are no such things as giants. Still, the bed was firm, and just large enough for three…if well stacked.

Thunder Hawk 21st, 3127

Late in the eve, or early morning, honestly I was paying more attention to the captivating beauties talking quietly in the library than when Blackstone and the irascible Stahlheim smith, staggered back in. Turns out the negotiations went well enough. The wedding was still on. No one was to be put to death, and we had the next few weeks off until the actual nuptial. Having no actual orders, and no official duties, Corporal Sssahliissstah completely broke character and afforded the team time off!

The Explorer and the new Alchemist actually received an invitation to reside with the Acting ClanChief. For a Builder, the red devil is certainly mastering the art of politics. It seems to suit his temperament.

Wasting NO time, I invited the fierce and divine goddesses to join me at the local Inn. Not that I disliked the old beard’s hospitality, but there was very little privacy in the cramped guest quarters in the dwarf’s shop. As we can get loud expressing our passion for each other, I preferred more intimate accommodations. Neither Kenzie or Ingrid objected, so early on the 21st, we headed a few blocks over to the MineShaft Tavern and Inn.

That deep in the ClanHome we were the only non-dwarves staying in the Inn. Well, aside from Sergeant Muriel who was not actually staying in the inn, though she spent every day there drinking. Suffice to say, we had the Inn mostly to ourselves. If the dwarf proprietors minded our, um, exultation, they said nothing. Though, I have not heard the anyone shouting the Ascended’s names so loud since the last time I visited a charismatic druid’s sanctification ritual. Though, I’ve NEVER heard “OH LANDRA” shouted with such pure passion, enthusiastic ecstasy or sheer volume. Life indeed.

As a gentleman never kisses and tells, I will summarize our vacation by saying we worked vigorously on team bonding exercises. Repeatedly, and vigorously. Sometimes three times a day. I feel confident in stating that we are more intimately…involved than ever.

Thunder Hawk 30th, 3127

Our morning, er, calisthenics were interrupted by a messenger from the Stahlheim delegation with a wedding invitation. To be honest I was surprised. Our history with the Rockbreaker dwarves was sad at best. We manipulated them into a surface war which cost the lives of most of their dwarves, their loremasters, hundreds of warriors, and their ClanChief. Worse, rather than allowing the old dwarf to die, we petrified him between life and death, mucking up the Clan’s transition of power system. During the resulting political crises, we managed to mortally offend the now active Chief, then publicly opposed his election, only to LOSE said election. After which, our legal representative had the unmitigated gall to persist in demanding the pending wedding.

And, we were STILL invited!? Honestly, I expected banishment, which we WHOLLY deserve, or possibly arrest, which we probably deserve. And, were it not for Ingrid and Kenzie, I might actually submit to such justice. After all, we have been just awful to these dwarves who have done nothing but protect, house, and help us. We are pitiful friends and allies. I understand why the Black Mountain Clans avoid us with such vehemence.

Sad.

But, invited we were. And, with the marriage, our mission would be complete, despite our best efforts. I’m being too harsh. Corporal Sssahliissstah was not expecting to be in charge. Had Sergeant Grendel not gotten himself killed in the most glorious manner, our whole situation might be different. Then again, maybe not. Who really knows. The situations have been impossible from the outset and everyone is doing the best they can given the circumstances.

Not to say that means anything. We are still swyved.

Looking back, we probably should have spent the next few days relaxing, resting up for the wedding. We did not. If anything, knowing our vacation was coming to an end, Kenzi, Ingrid, and I found ever more…creative…means to enjoy each other’s company.

Not that I complain. Far from it…

Thunder Hawk 33rd, 3127

The fateful day arrived. Before dawn, we arrived out the Stahlheim Merchant to find the team, minus Blackstone, feverishly preparing for the days festivities. Though the invitation as entirely voluntary, the entire time elected to attend. For varied reasons, I am sure. My reasons for attending waffled between morbid curiosity and the free ale.

All suited in their finest dress uniforms, minus arms or armor. That was one of the conditions of our attendance. Kenzie and Ingrid looked ravishing. I restrained myself from suggesting we engage in more…team building. But, I knew time was of the essence, so, unsatiated, we headed to the grand temple to Dranak for the ceremony. I might note here, Blackstone, the Explorer, and the new Alchemist were not among our party. They all seemed to have found some acceptance among the dwarves and were afforded greater courtesy.

Perhaps I should take a moment to discuss what the dwarves mean by a wedding. As I understand, dwarves are creatures of steady, unchanging plodding. They are not fast, but tireless. They are not quick to anger, but once roused rage for decades. Everything with these diminutive folk is slow and methodical. Their weddings are no different.

We arrived at the Grande Temple at about 10 AM, though I was forced to rely on their infernal mechanical devices as I had not seen the sun in weeks. Well, technically, I had barely been outside my room at the Inn in weeks, but I digress.

It took two hours for all of the invited dignitaries to file solemnly into the Temple. The actual service began some time around 1 PM and droned on for six more hours. I should note here that, as were were hardly favored guests, we were tucked in the far back corner of the chamber, standing room only. The warm press of bodies, the sonorous droning, and the, er, spirited ravishing of the past weeks finally caught up with my ladies.

Somewhere around hour three, both Ingrid and Kenzie were wrapped snugly in my downy wings, snoring adorably. If looks could kill, Corporal Sssahliissstah would have laid me cold with her withering glare. Though, I saw little reason to rouse them. They needed their sleep. We all played very hard.

So, with my loves wrapped in my embrace, I watched the eternal ceremony, the solemn singing, the dour decrees, the ponderous pronouncements… Actually, dwarven ceremonies remind of some of the more depressing funerals I have attended. EVENTUALLY, the bride was presented, and strode down the long corridor to her new groom. I was surprised at her beauty.

Beautiful is hardly the first attribute one ascribes to dwarves. Stout, surely, but beautiful? Still, Ruby lived up to her name. She fairly shone in her gem-set gown. Nothing gaudy, just the purest display of craftsmanship. Truly a Chieften’s first daughter. Way to go Blackstone. At least he has taste.

I did note that she was given away by her uncle, not her brother. The younger Rockbreaker was demoted to a lesser seat somewhere on the second row. A horrible slight I am certain, but he seemed to accept his fate with the fable stoicism of the dwarves.

Around 8pm the ACTUAL wedding began. It only last about an hour. Then, there was an exchange. Rings, I suppose, though we were so far away, and at such a ridiculous angle, they might have exchanged fresh trout as far as we could see. There was a final intonation, a kiss, and then a pronouncement. Blackstone, sharp in his formal robes, Ruby, radiant in her cream and blue gown, paraded past, followed by the stand in druid and the acting Chief. Keep in mind we ended up getting the former High Druid killed. So, they had to import a substitute from a nearby clanhom.

Following the couple was the procession of honored guests, then the less honored guests, then the guests, then those who were allowed because it might cause a political kerfuffle if they were excluded. We filed out after that last group. I suppose we might be listed as frenemies? Regardless, the recession, procession in reverse, took another hour and a half. It was actually a bit before midnight when our little troop filed into the cavernous grande hall which had been converted into a feasting hall.

Again, I was shocked we were invited. The uninvited throng the streets, cheering and celebrating the union. Well, there were some cheers, more shouts…even a few insults. And one rotten mushroom.

Dwarves eat a lot of mushrooms.

It would be charitable to say that the Clanhome community was divided about the wedding, with the smaller portion in support. Still, our hosts provided ample security, so there was no violence.

We entered the hall and were directed to the right back corner. From my seat, I couldn’t actually see the head table. We were placed right behind a massive stone column. The head table was already through with their meal by the time we sat. And, while it took another half hour or more get meat, the ale flowed freely, so soon, none of us particularly cared. We sat, talked, drank, and tried to enjoy ourselves.

Sometime during the 13th hour, not long after we finally ate, our repast was interrupted by a strange rumbling from somewhere deep in the Clanhome. It sounded almost like thunder…or an earthquake. For a moment, I feared a mine collapse. Others heard the same and you could feel revelry turn to unrest as the dwarves quieted to better hear. Guards began to mill.

Eventually, the acting Clan Chief rose, addressed the assembled and asked that we continue our celebrations while he and his dwarves go to investigate the disturbance. The acting Chief and his nephew departed along with many warriors from the Home. Blackstone remained with his bride. Mansfried, the big Olaran recruit, went off to speak with the guards at the door. Corporal Sssahliissstah grew disquiet. Everyone tensed for the blow.

When it came, we were still unprepared. Cloaked figures emerged from the crowds, removed blasts potions from beneath cloaks, and hurled them into the revelers. At the same instant, minotaurs appeared in the center of the hall and attacked the columns supporting the roof with massive bloodsteel mauls. Flame had arrived.

I was just standing when I felt a presence behind me. In the confusion, I was caught completely off-guard. One moment I was watching Alpha Team spring into action, the next, I was out in the ClanHome in a pool of light from braziers and lamps with flames rippling around me.

Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri

I could feel his malice, like a hot brand, burning into me. There was little I could do. Ambushed, unarmed, unarmored, and alone. In a straight fight, Novri is at worst my equal. But, teleported from a dinner party, already into my cups, and without so much as a fork to defend myself…my life was over.

Invisible bands of power pinned my wings, arms, and legs as I was lifted up and hoisted over the side of one of the high balconies. Below me, the entire ClanHome stretched out, lit and decorated for the nuptial celebration. It was beautiful in a sad way. Looking into Novri’s rage twisted grimace, I knew that our decades long dance might well be at an end. He gave no speech, there was no exchange of witticisms.

No, with a twisted smile, he raised his hand and blasted me back with a gout of flame. The hear seared through my clothes, blackening skin and feathers. Oh what a twist of irony. By new-grown feathers too young to fly. I was to lose my final battle with Novri by being hurled to my death on the stone streets below. For an Aevakar, there could be more more humiliating end.

Then I heard her voice. The rage. The pain. The love. The POWER.

I felt Kenzie’s anguish like a physical blow. Behind it, surging force of will. Novri felt it too.

As I looked on in horror, everything slowed. Kenzie’s eyes shining with green light, her fists clenched. Novri’s sick smile, as he turned to kill a woman I loved. And me…falling slowly backwards to my death.

It was of the worst moments of my life. I screamed for her to run…and then the balcony rose up and blocked then from view, and I fell.

I know it was but moments, but it felt as if an eternity passed in those seconds. My first flight. My sister’s smile. The Kal raids, and joining the war. Watching Novri tear her wings off as she screamed in agony. Cutting down Novri’s men, their hot blood on my hands. First seeing Kenzie and Ingrid. Their smiles and laughter.

Everything flooded, good memories, nightmares in a stream of ever faster images. My last image was that of Kenzie and Ingrid our last night in the Inn. I clutched onto that memory like a drowning man would a piece of flotsam, holding it in my heart as the ground rushed to meet me…

And then, I felt claws digging hard into my shoulders. Aetos, my guardian Eagle. I had not seen him in weeks since diving underground. Where had he come from? How did he arrive?!

Struggling against my weight, he fought for altitude. I added my own frantic flaps to his, slowing my fall, then…ever so slowly rising. My only though, to reach Kenzie in time. For tortorous, agonzing seconds, we stuggled to rise, until, we reached the balcony rail and crested the rise.

Novri stood, hand outstretched, roasting Kenzie in flames. But, his power was for naught. She stood defiantly, her body radiating power.

I was…overawed. Her spirit, her power…her beauty. In that moment, I glimpsed her truest self. Undaunted, and fearless. I fell in love all over again.

Novri felt me hovering behind. He turned his head just as I fully cleared the railing. His look of surprise and twisted rage gratified me. Aetos released his grip and I dropped to the deck, shouting, “Ca-CAW! Motherfucker!” as I landed. Kenzie summoned her own power.

We were both unarmed, wounded, and smoldering, facing off against the nastiest Winghunter I have ever known. And he ran…

Novri disappeared with a sulfurous pop, leaving Kenzie and I staring at each other. Overwhelmed by emotion, I rushed her and embraced her. She saved me.

Only then did I notice the roof of the Grande Hall sagging, and the strange stone growths jutting out at odd angles. Both crying, from the smoke, Kenzie led me back inside to a scene of utter insanity.

The hall was…shattered. Stone columns lay scattered like broken toys. Bodies, dwarf and human, littered the stone floor in pools of crimson. The hall was almost empty. Strangely, in place of the columns were rough formed stone pillars, resembling half melted candles. Everywhere signs of battle. The Rangers stood, most just yanking arrows. Across the hall, Blackstone stood with his bride Ruby. Nearby the Alchemist sampled drinks as the head table, and the Explorer herded finely dressed dwarves around the room.

About this time, the acting Clan Chief arrived, with his nephew and surveyed the destruction. It was only a matter of time before he discovered the cause of the attack. Once the Rockbreakers learn that this new injury was inflicted due to Novri’s personal vendetta against me, and the team, our lives would be short indeed. Without much else, the acting Chief ordered the Rangers back to the Stahlheim Merchant to remain sequestered until he and his dwarves could assess the situation.

We all filed back in relative silence. Ingrid seemed a bit miffed with Kenzie, over what I’m not sure. One back, Corporal Sssahliissstah contacted Colonel Anderson in Echer’Naught via our recently added Farspeaker. Our orders, comply with all dwarven requests, up and until the lives of Alpha Team are threatened. Then, we are ordered to retreat without harming any of the Rockbreakers. The Rangers still hope the situation can be salvaged. Foolishly optimistic.

Festival Moons 1st, 3127

Early in the morning, we were all summoned to the main area to speak with the acting Chief. He looked angry and tired. Hardly a good combination. With him, was Ruby. It was only then that I realized Blackstone had spent his wedding night sequestered away from his new bride. Hardly how I would wish to spend my first night.

The uncle addressed us calmly, but the rage was clear. Novri’s attack on his people would not go unanswered. He knew we brought the Kal to his home, and we would be dealt with in time. But he had bigger issues to deal with. To that end, we were required to remain, sequestered, until his Clan finished their business. Then, we would be appropriately dealt with.

For “our safety” we would be confined to the Stahlhiem merchant’s offices. His men would “secure us.” Ruby Blackstone actually was instructed to remain with her new husband. Blackstone was ordered to remain with us Rangers and ensure that we obeyed his orders.

And with that, he left us to our imprisonment. We may not have been in chains, but prisoners we were by any estimation. I hardly blame them.

Only then did we hear the drum and horns of war. Clan Rockbreaker was marching to war. I only hope their rage does not turn on the Rangers. So, we await our fates, and pray this ClanHome does not become our tomb.

If we survive this, I will ask Kenzie and Ingrid to join me in Essania, the Life Bond. I cannot imagine my life without their love, and would gladly follow them into death.

Steelwing.

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1st Report of Ranger Gilbert Grimm
First Meetings

I have been informed that as a new recruit one of my duties is to record the occurrences myself and my new team have during our various missions. This with the knowledge that they will be public records, i’ll be sure to keep the Rangers reputation in mind.

I was paired with a fellow new recruit to travel through winding roads to our teams current location, deep within the black mountains. He seems to be a competent fellow and a noble to boot, Olaran I believe. During our travels we were informed to act in certain roles, myself as a “merchant” and the noble suprisingly as a noble. I must admit I was excited to find myself with the Dwarves of the Black Mountains, their precious stones and metals are renowned to those who dabble in Jewelry making, myself included. I greatly anticipated making new contacts and procuring new materials for my own tinkering. Those plans fell through before i even arrived to the Rockbreaker Clan Home.

During our trek to meet our new team, I understand the one member who was pivotal in the political schemes said something that completely devastated the Rangers position. I believe, at least from what I was told, someone’s Grandmother’s sexual preferences were called into question. To say the least our warm welcome into the Clan Home was short lived.

Nonetheless while I awaited to meet with the team, I searched to procure some precious stones. After some difficult negotiations I walked away with a small bag of some prize gems, but surely it was made more difficult by the current views i as a Ranger have with the Dwarves of this clan. I worry what awaits me in the Clan Chiefs home.

With this I end my first report. I am about to meet with the Olaran noble and make our way to the high standing Dwarves estate where the rest of the team awaits.

Respectfully,
Ranger Gilbert Grimm

View
Campaign Report 119
Rockbreaker Diplomatic Incident

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim
Gorli Glamrinson Works Smithy, Echer’Naught
Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

Masters,

Dranak preserve me. I had believed that young Master Blackstone was merely an imbecile lacking in tact or intellect. But then, a more sinister notion occurred that he might, in fact, be a Malakaran mastermind carefully constructing this comedy of errors to eliminate the leadership of the Rockbreaker ClanHome and establish himself as the sole Chief.

I know understand that he, and his entire team, are patently insane. The most capable and lucid member of the team is their ranking Ranger, the Ass. I simply lack the eloquence to articulate exactly how beyond any reasonable salvage our mission has become. My mission was to simply guide my young charge to the altar and, perhaps, secure some semblance of Diplomatic contact with the Rockbreakers and Stahlheim. We will be lucky to survive.

If some mishap should befall me, please tell my wife I am sorry. She was correct. Working with the Rangers is lunacy.

Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

We quit the field and ventured into the Black Mountains. I must admit to being quite impressed by the expertise of the Black Mountain dwarves. Their roads are ancient, deep, but well maintained. The sheer magnitude of their infrastructure dwarfs, if you will forgive the term, that of our own Kingdom. More impressive that these independent minded Clans managed to work together to keep even the more remote sections of roads passable.

The trek was of some 240 miles which our company traveled in some 12 days. Considering we passed through mountains, and were forced to accommodate an Ogress and a Dregordian, I was well impressed with our progress.

Thunder Hawk 4th, 3127

Toward sunset, we arrived at the mouth of a large natural cave. Water cascaded out of the mouth, down a glittering waterfall into a pool far below. Our road took us into the cave where we were met by a large assemblage of local dwarves.

Behind them, yawned a massive entrance, guarded by twin iron doors, twenty feet tall by ten wide each. Unsurprisingly, it opened at a touch. As we approached, an honor guard met us outside the Clanhome and escorted the body of Clan Chief Rockbreaker through their halls. I must admit a bit of marvel at the Rockbreakers holdfast.

From the front gate, to the deep mine entrances in the mountains, the Clanhome is about 3 miles long following an underground river which pools just inside the main entrance. The Clanhome follows the natural contours of the caves, but have been widened and expanded. 500 (200 yards) feet tall and 500 wide. The cavern is divided into several districts. From the main entrance back, they have carved from the living rock markets (specializing in precious stones an metal), a large housing community with inns and alehouses, vast smithies (though less impressive than our own), Grand Halls if the seven great families, and finally, the Keep, Rockbreakers last bastion and seat of the Clan’s power. Smaller mine entrances appea in nearly every district. Between the markets and the housing, and the smithies and grand halls are two enormous dolines where large sections of the cave roof collapse letting in sunlight and water. The ever industrious dwarves cleared the rubble and converted these sections into farms and gardens.

Admittedly, the Rockbreaker Clan better blends the natural living mountain with their own works than nearly any dwarves I have met; Stahlheim included.

With this setting sun burning orange over the mountains, we followed the solemn progression through the entire Clan Home with throngs of mourners lining the route. Research prior to this venture indicated the Clanhome was host to about 3000 dwarves from a dozen or so family groups. To save the alliance, and protect the Rangers from their own folly, the Rockbreakers sent 300 warriors, smiths, druids, and healers into the valley, with 200 solely dedicated to war. Among that number was the Clans foremost Dranak Druid and their Head Loremaster.

The price these dwarves paid for the Ranger’s sins was just less than 10% of their entire community. Along with their leadership in Political, Military, Knowledge, and Spiritual matters. A few weeks with the Rangers cost these people more than they have lost in the last century. And yet, as we approached the final resting place, the hall of Chiefs were were met with honor and welcome. My own Clan would have been far less hospitable given the circumstances. Which makes what transpired next all the more tragic.

Our solemn march was in silence, save for a lone drum. Upon arriving at the Great Hall of Chiefs, the petrified Chief was laid in state on a rock plinth beneath a single skylight. The vast hall was evacuated, and only his daughter, Ruby, was allowed to remain. Outside, we were greeted by the acting Chief, the Brother of the fallen Chief, Rourk Rockbreaker, and the Speaker of the Home. He struck me as a knowledgeable and congenial dwarf, despite being a bit obsequious. Also in attendance was the Chief’s son, Slate Rockbreaker, destined to assume his father’s mantel upon his death. The lad was garbed as a miner, confident and influential, but with none of his Uncles gravitas. Moreover, all accounts suggests the boy has little desire to rule. Behind these were the heads of the seven most influential clans and family groups, along with representatives of the mines and leading merchants. A fitting tribute for the passing of a Chief.

However, per Arimar Blackstone the Clan Chief was not dead, so the entire line of succession was now in question.

Dranak preserve us.

After a short silent ceremony of posting guards, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker invited the Ranger team to be guests at his manor house. All our comforts were provided. The rooms were stately, access to hot running water, and servants to prepare our clothes. We were treated with every courtesy befitting ambassadors of foreign lands. We were informed that there would be a week (6 days) of mourning at the loss of the Chief. The Speaker was kept busy these days with official duties.

Thunder Hawk 10th, 3127

Once the regilious and cultural observances were complete, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker graciously invited our entire team, ogre and all, to a state dinner with visiting dignitaries from the clan’s trading partners in the Malakar Dominion and the Eternal Desert.

After taking a moment to make ourselves presentable, we joined the Speaker at his table, young Blackstone being offered a position of honor at the Speaker’s right hand, and I beside him. After all of our trials, I hoped that our true mission might finally move forward apace. If the Rangers were capable of going more than an evening without embroiling us in another war. Admittedly, I feared more from the ogress or the dregordian. It never occurred to me that our every effort would be undone by the boy himself.

As our host showered us with honor and courtesy, young Blackstone attempted to inquire about the noble lineage of the Rockbreaker Clan, a reasonable and wise attempt to both ingratiate himself while learning more of his new family. That is, if he had not entirely forgotten our, arguably brief, linguistic lessons. Rather than inquire, he not so subtly managed to, at once, insult the Speakers lineage, call into question his courage and manhood, with a very colorful and specific reference to the Speakers own grandmother and her particular oral fixations. It was as elegant as it was biting, subtle as it was offensive. I have heard professional politicians eviscerate their most ardent opponents with less exacting precision and derision. All through an improper turn of phrase.

I was both horrified and grudgingly impressed. Were the insult intentional, one could have at least respected Blackstones temerity. As it was, not only was he insulting, but bumbling as well. The first might be accepted if done well, the latter inexcusable. I did my best to cover for the boy, and remove him from any further potential disaster, but the damage was done. Even the esteemed guests from the east and west heard the exchange irreparably damaging our reputation in the face of not just our host, but those independent kingdoms as well.

In short, Blackstone would have done less damage had he simply attempt to assassinate the Speaker. As it was, we returned to our chambers in shame, waiting for our fates. I was left doubly troubled as I now had not only my own mission in jeopardy, but I could only guess as the ham-fisted farce of which the Rangers would make of this situation. In this, they did not disappoint.

Back in our chambers, I posed to the boy that our position was now untenable and that he must now make an alliance if this marriage and any hope to salvage our mission was to succeed. We needed allies. In that, he must choose to throw his support behind either the son or the uncle. Slate Rockbreaker is the rightful heir, but with his father not dead, there is legal justification for the Speaker to remain as defacto leader until all efforts to revive the Chief are exhausted. Considering his options, the boy chose to support the son and legitimate heir. In this choice, there appeared no good option, so I began discreet inquiries.

Thunder Hawk 11th, 3127

While I counseled the boy, the Rangers elected to host their own moot in a nearby alehouse. Apparently the Rangers wisely dispatched a Farspeaker and reinforcements to support the Rangers of Alpha Team. Unfortunately, those reinforcements were less effective than the team itself. So, in all, they gained the ability to more easily report their failures, but little more.

As he was also a Ranger, I joined Blackstone at the meeting were we encountered the aevakar back from his deathbed, with his two human lovers, and three NEW Rangers to add to my nightmare. The Farspeaker, a capable young women with the only authority to report on events, not to actually improve on them. There were a pair of humans, one large and one scrawny. The larger put on airs so I assume he is something important in his homeland, but here, he was useless. In that, he fit in well with his new companions. At least the bird did little but drink. Though, he was the first to stumble upon the idea that Blackstone was less a bumbling fool he appeared and potentially a political mastermind bringing about the destabilization of the Rockbreaker Clanhome for his eventual takeover.

(Alpha Team is joined by:

Sir Egon Mansfried, Olaran knight

Gilbur Gil Grimm, M’adukar alchemist)

Part of me prayed for the latter. Despite being despicable, at least in that he would be useful. Sadly, it seems that he, along with his team, are simply imbeciles.

While the Rangers plotted their next idiotic moves, I escorted the boy downstairs where Slate Rockbreaker was mourning with the mining clans. We joined the Heir and spent the next days destroying our internal organs and saving some face with the working dwarves of the Clan. Blackstone can drink. If he can do little else, he CAN do that. Which I suppose is something?

Thunder Hawk 12th, 3127

Meanwhile, having no useful ideas to contribute, the Rangers chose discretion, the better part of valor, and dispatched their new recruit to lie to the Speaker claiming some fictitious emergency in Almahrad before rejecting his hospitality, insulting his intelligence, and declaring loudly their unwillingness to support his cause. And with that, the Rangers effectively removed themselves from the situation and any hope of being part of negotiations or alliances.

I was informed later by friends that after this brilliant political retreat, they stood outside the gates of the manor and discussed possible plans. Having exhausted the limits of their giant intellects, they chose to simply leave the Clanome and head toward the nearest Ranger outpost. Which is Almahrad. This would be a trek of some 315 miles through independant dwarven clanhomes. Never mind the logistical nightmare of such a trek without ample preparations, there was the small issue that without the political protection of the Rockbreaker Clan they might be seen as an invading force and slaughtered out of hand by any of the dozens of clans along the proposed route.

To this, one, or more, rightly pointed out the absurdity of such a plan. Instead, they proposed merely leaving the Clanhome and camping somewhere along the road, either in the mouth of the cave entrance, or somewhere among the blistery peaks of the mountains. For what, and until when was not really discussed.

Never mind the absurd image of the small team huddled around a campfire on some lonely bluff in a transparent attempt to appear to have left the Clanhome, this entire exchange occurred within earshot of the manor and the dwarves on guard. While arguably the Ranger’s own mission was simply escorting Blackstone to the wedding, a mission in which they succeeded despite their own best efforts, it would be reasonably assumed that anyone dispatched on an important diplomatic affair would have the barest modicum of tact and political acumen. Such, clearly, is not the case.

At any rate, by all reports one or more simply started walking south and the rest tagged along with nothing better to do. I would weep had I the energy left. But, at least, the Rangers were rapidly marching into irrelevance and might even stumble into complete absence. Which, of course, did not happen. But, I get ahead of myself.

It seems that during their flight one, or more, noted that they were missing, in addition to any semblance of a plan or leadership, their mounts. Which, would not normally be such an issue, mounts being replaceable, but in THIS particular instance, their lead mount, one Muriel, was, in fact, the ranking member of the team, and the most capable. Not a particularly laudable distinction, but the truth nevertheless.

Again, the RANKING member of Echer’Naught’s Elite Ranger team is an Ass. Not, just an Ass but a mule as well. I’m sure there is some noted distinction between mules, asses, and donkeys, but such are of little consequence here. Muriel, a mule, is a full Sergeant in the Ranger corps with years more experience than any member of the team. Why is this important? Because, while the actual team was flailing aimlessly toward self destruction the MULE had, in no particular order, secured lodging, gained a fair understanding of the surrounding terrain, and NOT insulted their host and tried to incite a civil war. Again, I am coming to that.

So, as they began their idiotic trek to nowhere, one of the Rangers thought to recover their supplies and mounts. Of consideration, Alpha Team is a “cavalry unit,” and it was ONLY at this juncture that anyone gave thought to their mounts, those beasts which define the unit for what it pretends to be.

And so they found Muriel, along with ALL their mounts, placidly dining, and in some cases drinking, at a nearby alehouse where, apparently, the MOUNTS had arranged lodging, and amply provided for their own creature comforts while simultaneously making inroads with the local people.

A MULE, A GOAT, and two HORSES managed to achieve more political capital than the Alpha Team…

So, the Rangers decided, with nothing better to do, to stay with the animals. I THINK they found rooms in the inn and not in the actual stables, but in truth I would hardly be surprised. And now with the Sergeant in command, the Rangers would manage not to make complete asses of themselves…for a few days.

Thunder Hawk 13th, 3127

We continued drinking with Slate Rockbreaker, resuming our mourning with each new shift that came out of the mines.

Thunder Hawk 14th, 3127

We drank for two days, until mid morn on the 14th, the final shift staggered home to their wives. Visibly tired, but still strong, Slate Rockbreaker invited us to speak with him later. He would send someone to fetch us when he had rested.

With the Heir gone, and our only lodging lost to us, I sent the boy to the last contact I had remaining in the city, my distant cousin. We were not actually related, but his family were old family friends of my own. It was one of the reasons I was selected for this mission as I already had a contact in the Clanhome. I sent the boy to stay in the relative safety of my cousin’s trading outpost while I found a quiet corner to write missives to Stahlheim.

I knew a Clan Assembly was in the offing and the Heir would likely lose. When that happened, I needed authority and certain concessions if I were to salvage anything from the unmitigated disaster of this venture. I also penned a scathing indictment of the Rangers and, should I survive, I will personally speak to the King about our “alliance” with the Corps and suggest strongly we reconsider such ties.

Then, I went and slept.

Eventually, I woke and Blackstone reported that he had been followed from the tavern. I was unsurprised. It would have been odd had he NOT been followed. I am a bit surprised he was not assassinated. And, if I am honest, disappointed. It would make my job easier.

Thunder Hawk 16th, 3127

Two days later, we received a summons from the heir, Slate Rockbreaker. Taking our “offering” from its strongbox, I joined the young Blackstone as we were escorted into the mines by two miners. We were followed, but by which faction I cannot say. Hours later, deep in the mines we were granted an audience with Slate in a foreman’s outpost deep in the mines. There, joined only by a few miners as guards, Arimar Blackstone pledged his support for the Heir, Slate Blackstone, and pledged Stahlheim’s support as well. I then presented our gift, a 30 lb ingot of the purest WhiteSilver. A king’s ransom. That, more than our pledge, impressed Slate.

He accepted our support and bid us be safe until the Assembly of Clans. The young heir event dispatched his men to guard us. Little good it would do if the Speaker chose to end our lives, I imagined. But, we graciously accepted and thanked him for his consideration. Young Blackstone managed to stumble through the meeting without damaging our cause any further. Dranak be blessed.

We returned, followed again, and resigned to wait. Young Blackstone had taken time to continue his education about the Clan, and continued to do so. In this, I saw the potential of a leader to come. Perhaps tempered by a few decades of hardship?

Thunder Hawk 18th, 3127

The day of the Assembly dawned. Because of their theoretical political status, the Rangers were summoned from their alecups by Slate’s men and arrived at the Grand Hall. Young Blackstone and I joined with Slate and his supporters on the floor of the Assembly. Eventually, all the clans and families gathered, along with representatives from trading partners and diplomats from as far as Almahrad. The Speaker took his place, and opened the Assembly.

Slate Rockbreaker spoke first, but his oratory skills are better suited to the alehouse, or barking orders in the mines. Then, young Blackstone stepped and spoke well. His words were true, and delivered with confidence, but the Speaker well countered his argument. Then, to the shock of all, the towering Ogress, Ranna, took the floor as a representative of the Rangers and called upon the sacrifice of her mate, Grendel, but the words were like gravel and her translator, Kenzie, struggled with the dialect. Much as Blackstone had on his first meeting. Then again, Kenzie managed not to incite a riot, so, she did well enough. Following this, the Builder stepped onto the floor and orated an impassioned speech against isolation, veritably promising the dwarves the gift of Builder knowledge if they would join in the surface wars.

Many looked upon with greed, thinking of the power such knowledge would bring. But, as the Builder sided with neither the Heir or the Speaker, his speech, however grand, did little to resolve the current crisis. Which seems to be a trend with this particular representative of his race.

Finally, young Blackstone spoke again, and again articulated well, having learned from past mistakes. Still, it was not enough. When the floor was closed, the Clan Chiefs deliberated for a short hours before voting on the acting Chief. Unsurprisingly, Speaker Rourk Rockbreaker won handily, 6 to 1. At least one of the clans supported our cause. That is one more than I expected.

The true shock of the day was when Ruby Rockbreaker, still in her mourning veil, descended onto the floor to stand beside her brother and betrothed. Though we lost the vote, the marriage, it seemed, was on. And so, our mission here is salvaged, in some part, through no fault of our own. After he public declaration, Ruby returned to the Hall of Chiefs to continue her vigil.

I collected the Rangers and returned them to my cousin’s establishment. The Clanhome was no longer safe, and considering their past behavior, I wanted to keep them away from anyone important to limit the further damage they might do on what is now the most tenuous of threads.

I retired to strategize and sleep. It has been an exhausting month. The boy retired to his bed.

Thunder Hawk 19th, 3127

I was wakened in the morning by a curious Blackstone. He purported to have had a dream about the Clan Chief. So, we went, after now many weeks, to finally pay our respects. When we arrived, I feared the Speaker’s guards would turn us away, but it seemed he was feeling magnanimous. I waited near the entrance while the young Blackstone joined his betrothed by the body of the Clan Chief. There he knelt in prayer to Dranak for hours, three or four.

After that, he returned. changed. I know not what he saw, or experienced. but I fear that young Blackstone’s mind has finally snapped. At least in his newfound insanity, he has achieved a semblance of wisdom.

Thunder Hawk 20th, 3127

The evening of the 20th, we were summoned before the new acting Clan Chief. I foresee the wedding to continue, though I fear we will be forced to make concessions if we hope to achieve anything further. When we arrived, we found Slate Rockbreaker also waiting in the antechamber of his father’s office. The old dwarf had wasted no time moving in.

I pen this as we are being summoned. On my honor, I will do my utmost to salvage what I can from this unmitigated disaster. It might be prudent, however, to apply what pressure may be brought to bear upon the Ranger command to recall the Rangers stationed as our escort before we lose any hope of success.

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim

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Campaign Report 118
Fall of Sergeant Grendel, Silver Paladin

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim
Gorli Glamrinson Works Smithy, Echer’Naught
Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

Masters,

I have traveled with these Rangers for some weeks now, since our departure from Echer’Naught. My assignment was as stone, construct Arimar Blackstone’s marriage band to Ruby Rockbreaker, and represent the interests of the Kingdom of Stahlheim during negotiations. Despite such, I have been swept into battle and adventure as a pebbled caught in a rockslide.

RFC Blackstone himself is solid enough, but he struggles to balance his duties to the Rangers, and to his Clan. Someday, he must choose. That day may be sooner than he expects.

Sergeant Grendel was a dedicated leader. Perhaps his concern for his men surpassed his common sense, but that is the bedrock of a hero? His men mourn him and that may be all one needs to know. Sadly, no one will admit that this bloodshed is the fault of he and his kin. Dwarves avoid the surface for such reasons. Once again we are drawn into a war that is not our own. Many in the Halls shout that we should quit the surface and leave such matters to the men, elves, and orcs. It is not business of ours. Seeing the loss of life over such triviality, my voice will join the same chorus. We have no cause to be involved.

Corporal Sssahliissstah is a dregordian at war with herself. However, she is now in command. If she can control her passions, she might a leader make.

The Explorer is a Builder. He is the first of his kind I have met personally, but I know of his kind. Though I would hesitate to rely to heavily one of his ilk, this particular Builder appears to have committed to the cause of the Rangers. I suppose time will tell how wise the Rangers were to install him within one of their premier teams.

RFCs Ingrid and McKenzie. It is difficult not to see them as a unit They appear to love the same man. Both have strong ties to life. Despite widely different personalities and appearances, they strike me as more sisters…wives? I am ignorant of such human customs.

RFC Ranna has been struck a devastating blow. Despite little outward expressions, she appears to have cared deeply for Grendel and his loss has…robbed her. Again, the goblinesh kin are a mystery to me, but I can see an almost dwarven drive for revenge. She should be mindful. When beginning the march of revenge, build two tombs. If she can move beyond her loss, who knows where her journey will take her?

RFC Steelwing is a fool, but a noble one. If he continues to show little caution, he will soon find himself in a shallow grave or worse. But, one must admire his loyalty, I suppose.

Eternal Sun, 24th 3127
With dawn approaching, Clan Chief Rockbreaker signaled the army to withdraw. His rearguard held the line against the growing horde of troglanesh in the valley. As dawn’s light filled the natural bowl of earth, the Rockbreaker druids unleashed the power of earth in a massive quake which rumbled across the ground, plowing the Blood Witches brood under. As they died, the Rockbreaker clan withdrew from the field in good order.

These dwarves are clearly not warriors. They are miners, stone and gemsmiths. But, when the war horn sounded, they answered the call. Stahlheim will grow stronger to count such stalwart dwarfkin as allies. Young Blackstone has done well, if he lives to marry.

We marched from 7 in the morning until 9PM, fourteen hours of hard much into the mountains. Not a dwarf lagged. Those too wounded to keep up, fell out, yet trudged behind, never once complaining. These Black Mountain dwarves are truly the stock of earth and stone.

We reached the prepared defenses around 9pm. For such a short time, the Rockbreakers performed well. Their stonesinger sang three rings of thick, squat stone walls to the back of a natural canyon. The natural walls were high, leaving the only way in or out through the narrow mouth to the east. A perfect trap. Also, a perfect tomb. Even our small force of a two or three hundred could hold out for a few days, but once the horde broke through…none would survive.

Without pausing himself, Clan Chief Rockbreaker sent his wounded to the hospital, and ordered his men to fall out and rest. As the last of our stragglers passed through a single hole in the wall, a young stonesinger sang it sealed. I could not help a chill as the image reminded me of the last sight a corpse must see as the mausoleum door rolls closed.

Shaking off such dark thoughts, I joined the Clan Chief and young Blackstone in the command tent. It took Blackstone a few hours to understand that the elder dwarf was grooming him with what little time he had remaining. I also noted the Clanguard stood closer to Blackstone. Clearly, Chief Rockbreaker had not illusions about surviving this battle. Despite the fact that the Blood Witch was not his enemy. Despite the fact that his would-be son in law brought this death upon his people. Despite all, the Clan Chief acted in every way to protect the alliance between Stahlheim and the Rockbreakers.

A true Chief.

The other Rangers rested, or worked as was their wont. Out in the valley, the lead elements of the enemy army nipped at our heals. By full dark, there were already hundreds, or perhaps a thousands bellowing, hooting, and growling corrupted baying for our blood and flesh. The dwarves of Clan Rockbreaker said little. Each dwarf went about his respective task without disquiet. As the final hour approached, a small column of the most wounded and vulnerable were evacuated through a narrow and treacherous pass through the mountain.

I watched in silence as the Rockbreaker Loremaster, Graystone, handed his ironbound tome, and records of the events to a young initiate. Despite the boys brave face, his heart broke as the old mentor laid a heavy hand on his shoulder. Everywhere dwarven warriors embraced their wounded brothers, each knowing the other might not survive. They all marched willingly to their deaths without question into a war not theirs to protect a dwarf they did not know all for the hope of a better tomorrow for their clan.

And not a member of the Grayson’s Gray Rangers appeared to notice. The lovers huddled in the medical tent. The Explorer poured over technical manuscripts. The Ogres slung away to embrace one last time. Only young Blackstone watched as his future kin wrapped themselves in death shrouds and marched to the wall.

It was here, at the witching hour, that I resolved no matter the outcome of this battle, the Rockbreakers would have their alliance. In my final moments before the wave of darkness cast a shadow across out final redoubt, I penned a letter to my masters, and tucked it close to my heart. Should I fall today, let it be known that the Rockbreakers have more stone in their spine than the entire clan of greencloaks.

Under an overcast sky, the enemy surged from their camps and loped across the ground toward out lowest, outer wall. Along the leading edge of the horde, werewolves loped, howling. Behind them, a mass of trogs surged like a wave. Here and there, the sight of massive trolls and golems could be seen. When they struck the outer wall, even the living rock wailed. Without scaling ladders they surged up the walls and poured over the defenses.

For their part, the Rangers acquitted themselves admirably, but it was of little help. The enemy had more than ten times out number, and their troglodytes cut through our ranks, while the trolls smashed through the walls. Within hours the outer wall was taken. Chief Rockbreaker called a retreat to the second line. We lost too many in the retreat. The look on his face confirmed what I knew in my heart. We were merely delaying the inevitable. As stalwart as his men might be, without relief, we were doomed.

Eternal Sun 25th, 3126

The fighting along the second wall was brutal, but dawn mercifully relieved us, and like a black tide, the Blood Witches horde retreated into their holes to escape the cleaning light of the sun. In their wake they left death and destruction. Noble dwarves littered the ground, their life’s blood pouring out into the dirt. It was a waste.

Anger roused in my breast, but looking at the cold, calm eyes of the Clan Chief, I calmed my rage. This was his choice, his battle to lose as he saw fit. I only hope young Blackstone remembers what he sees here.

Without word, the remaining stonesinger walked passed the field of corpses and began the song of stone, mending the gaps in the wall. The druids burned bodies, and provided some solace to the souls of the departed. For my part, I stood by and watched, chiseling every face, every loss into my memory. This sacrifice would not be forgotten.

The Rangers dispersed to sleep, make love, or brood as was their wont. I am too harsh. They fought well, better than most. Were it not for their courage the battle might have been lost. But, were it not for the Rangers, NONE of these dwarves needed to die.

Later in the afternoon, once his dead and wounded had been cared for and the evening battle set, only then did Chief Rockbreaker sleep. I took this opportunity to rest as well. As did young Blackstone. I believe, and sincerely hope, that he begins to understand that duty is the weight of a mountain. Someday, sooner, perhaps, than later, he must stand like the Mountain to protect his own clan.

Battle horns roused us late into the evening. Already the enemy horde gathered in greater numbers than the night before. This would be our last stand. Above me and to the right the Rockbreaker druids prepared a ritual. Along the wall, pikes, crossbows, axe, and hammer took their places. Among their ranks, here and there a green cloak. And then, I saw him. Grendel.

The Ranger Sergeant, Silver Paladin, stood alone beside a young stonesinger. For a moment I wondered at this, but then the Clan Chief just nodded and the two strode forward. The initiate sang an opening large enough for the ogre and the Ranger Sergeant ducked through the wall, before it was sealed behind him. My eyes fell unbidden on RFC Ranna and her eyes stung with unbidden tears. What was this?

Clan Chief Rockbreaker whispered a quiet prayer to Dranak before turning his eyes upon the approaching horde. They charged again, filling the valley. Alone, glowing white silver, Grendel strode into the horde, they parting before him. Not one looked back, their ravenous hunger set upon our small redoubt. Any curiosity I might have had evaporated the moment they reached out lines. Again, they swarmed, but this time, they approached in ranks.

Denier of Death golems belched black/ocre flame at the walls, which crumbled. But, unlike before, they were met by stone and iron as the druids raised massive golems to meet them. Dwarf and trog were ground under foot as the titans battled. Every hour, a golem would wrench through the arcfire power on their backs, and both golems would erupt into black flame, annihilated swaths of both dwarf and trog. It was madness.

The Rangers waded in, their green cloaks soaking in black blood and fire. Ranna fired till her quivers ran dry, then she bludgeoned foes with hand, foot, and stone. The wounded aevakar Steelwing flapped raggedly from battle to battle, laying down fire, though keeping a conspicuous eye on his “girls” who battled shoulder to shoulder on the wall. The Explorer seemed to enjoy himself the most, reveling in the arcfire display.

I, Loremaster Graystone, and RFC Blackstone protected the Clan Chief atop the center wall. Around us hordes of werewolves and trogs raged. We held the line for hours, but the battle was lost. Our formation collapsed quickly. Late in the battle Loremaster Graystone fell to a hobgoblin’s waraxe, though he took the moment of his death to note his death in his tome. Dedicated the last.

Though I did not see the event, I noted the moment when the iron and stone golems collapsed into rubble. Later, we found the shredded corpses of the druids rent tooth and nail by a pack of werewolves who managed to circle our lines. Most of our stonesingers died trying to repair the walls, and the hospital tent was painted in the blood of the wounded and dying, slaughtered along with their healers.

13th Hour

At the height of the 13th hour, something changed in the enemy army. We saw a massive White Silver explosion in the middle of the enemy army. Almost at the same moment, a faint horn was heard at the far end of the valley. Scouts high on the cliffs shouted a warning that Wolfhaven’s army had arrived. And none too soon.

However, just as the good news rippled through the army, a shadow passed over our position. Graystone was dead, as were most of the Clan Chief’s clanguard. The tower beast that was “Gram Gram” appeared at the gates and smashed through the wall like a child’s toy. I was tossed aside like a doll. Both the Clan Chief and Blackstone were crushed under hundreds of pounds of stone. My leg was shattered, but I remained conscious watching the horror of the Blood Troll raise her weapon to finish off the Rockbreaker Clan.

Then, a curious thing occurred. A small, well dressed human-like creature appeared amid the rubble to speak with Gram Gram. I could not hear the conversation, nor would I have understood. But, Gram Gram turned out toward the oncoming reinforcement army, and then turned and strode away, taking her brood with her.

Silence fell over the smoldering ruins that was our bastion. The few dwarves still able to move began digging the Chief out of the rubble. Rangers continued to fight the stragglers, or go off in search of their teammates. Despite the pain, I watched as Blackstone frantically hurled stones aside until uncovering Chief Rockbreaker. The elder dwarf was bleeding out and not long for this life. In desperation, Blackstone tapped into the power of the Mountain and summoned Dranak’s will through the stones.

As we watched in disbelief, the Chief’s body petrified to stone, hardening him into living stone. Neither alive nor dead, Blackstone managed to catch his life force right on the edge of death, and hold him fast. It was a miracle.

Nearby, the Rangers Ingrid and Kenzie wailed over the bleeding mass of blood and feathers that was their lover, Steelwing. Still, the brave aevakar lived, somehow. RFC Ranna stormed out, searching for her lover. Of the Explorer, I saw nothing, but I could hear the occasional report of an arclance, so I presume he was finishing off the wounded trogs. Efficient that one.

A healer came by and repaired my leg, freeing me to venture onto the field of blood and death. Bodies littered the ground for two hundred yards or more. At the far end of the valley, I could see the relief force still battling the fleeing vestiges of the Blood Witch force, but for the most part, the battle was over. Such a cost.

I found the gaggle of figures a hundred yards east of our lines. A glittering Captain Avaron of the White Silver Wolves spoke with the Explorer while Ranna knelt weeping over a body. I did not need to see him to know Grendel had fallen. There was also a large scorch mark nearby that I learned was his twisted brother. We know they fought. We believe Grendel was victorious, but Gram Gram killed them both. One perhaps because he was a failure, the other because he refused her power? All of this death, for this.

Eventually, Blackstone arrived with what remained of the Rockbreaker forces. Out of the original 200 dwarves barely twenty survived. Quickly others assembled.

Eternal Sun 26th, 3127

At dawn on the 26th, as light flooded into the valley, four company’s of the White Silver Wolves under command of Captain Avaron, a company of Stahlheim Dwarves under a Captain Fyrforg, the Rangers under command of Corporal Sssahliissstah, and the Rockbreakers under command of RFC Blackstone, with me as observer stood on the sanctified ground around the body of Sergeant Grendel.

Corporal Sssahliissstah spoke briefly. As did a few others. One of the Wolve’s Silver Paladins laid a silver sword on Grendel’s chest. Then, with permission from Ranna, Stahlheim stonesinger buried Grendel’s body in the living stone, sanctified and purified. It was a funeral fit for a Clan Chief. But that was it.

The morning air was heavy with smoke, and tinged with the stench of burning corrupted when the formations broke. Captain Avaron bid farewell as they turned in their tracks and marched east, hunting the trail of the fleeing Blood Witch army. For our part, we returned to the shattered ruins of our redoubt, gathered our things, and began the long trek into the Black Mountains. Blackstone remained beside Clan Chief Rockbreaker’s army, heading up his honor guard. The Rangers ranged out, protecting the flanks of the small column of dwarves hiking up narrow mountain goat paths deeper into the peaks.

Behind us, the valley, the last few fires burned down to ash. In a few weeks, nothing will remain, but irregular rocky ruins. And, within a decade, those will be overrun by wild flowers. In a century, nothing will remain, but the story of the Great Silver Paladin, whose spirit guards the valley even from beyond death.

To fight alongside a brother, bury him, and then be forced to leave him behind in an unmarked grave is one of the hardest realities of war. For Grendel, at least, his tale will live on in the Lore of the Stahlheim and Rockbreaker Loremasters. Who knows, the Silver Paladins may eventually venture into this place on pilgrimages to gain strength and wisdom from the example of one devout ogres faith and courage? For our part, we must ensure that Grendel’s sacrifice is not in vain.

Blackstone will be married. The Stahlheim and Rockbreaker Clans will form an alliance. And, in the final battles for our home, we will stand together as one. And, those who live, will remember the sacrifices of those who fell to give us the hope of victory.

By mid-day, we passed over a ridge and the valley fell behind. I doubt I will ever trod across the sacred ground again, but the courage and sacrifice I witness will be etched forever in my heart.

Master Artificer Glorin Glamdrang of Stahlheim

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Unwanted Family Reunion
Grendel's Report

I don’t have much time to write but i wish to report what has happened these past few days to team. we were sent on a political mission to escort RFC Blackstone to his betrothed’s clan home in the Black Mountains. the positioning of the location allowed only for a few certain routes that could be taken. the route deemed the safest took team north through Olara and passage through the northern gathers., where we would descend into the black mountains that border my homelands. however if Grendel has learned anything from being in the Ranger’s is that our mission’s are anything but simple.

After some time passing through not so kindly regions, especially to rangers, we arrived at the borders of the gathers. passage through was relatively easy and i informed the team to be cautious with any interactions with the locals. My people are brash and harsh to say the least and outsiders are not looked kindly upon in most cases. Not long ago i held those same feelings towards humans and other races but my time with the rangers has been insightful. along our journey we rested outside one of the guardian gathers, and quickly discovered the region to be on high alert. this is strange and unsettling considering the strength of the gathers surrounding that accursed isle, would be on such guard by an unknown entity or entities.

we heeded their warnings and decided to move through the region as quickly as possible. i felt our force would be able to move relatively quickly and unnoticed through those lands without drawing too much attention. we had been paired with a smaller group of rangers to provide added protection in our mission, led by a Brinchie female, and this added to my hope of safe passage.

true to their duties the added group did do exactly what they were ordered too and informed us of an incoming attack only a few days into our mission, sadly that is where things became much more personal than i had hoped.

a pack of werewolves stampeded over the nearby ridge, and quickly surrounded our group. the team fought hard but their numbers soon took their toll on all of us, however not long after hulking beings crested the ridge and approaching were dark necromantic gollems that quickly took arms against Ranna and Myself. i called for the team to retreat but soon the enemy forces dropped us one by one, and eventually Ranna was stabbed by the mechanical beast and it began to drag her off. however of all the beasts to come over that hill non were as chilling as the sight of “that” troll. It seemed as if i was looking into some dark shadowed mirror as i stared at my fallen brother. i had hoped to never see him again after i left our gather but there he was and i knew he recognized me in the same moment.

i finally managed to best the gollem before me but became swarmed by even more wolves and after a few blows i too went down. before i lost consciousness i did notice that only myself and my beloved were the ones being taken and in that moment i hoped that the team would survive and continue on without us.

i awoke some unknown time later in a large encampment, surrounded by troglinesh, and sitting before me was Wendel my brother. i was naive to never give second though to the blood witch for so much time and as i stared at him and the massive throne of bones he sat next to, and i knew myself and the world were about to pay for our negligence. the throne i knew immediately belonged to our Gram- Gram, who in life was ruthless and mean being but in her fallen state i feared what she had become. my brother informed me of our coming battle as he had to show who was in fact the strongest, an idea i was unsure was his or gram- gram’s idea. the leverage obviously being my beloved who was chained next to me. we were left to our thoughts for the next day, but strangely enough we had the company of a human, which in little time i figured must be a very powerful vampire as the evil wafting from him was immense.

the next day my and wendel’s battle commenced, we traded blows back and forth never truly gaining the upper hand. finally we both gave our all in one final swing and from Ranna has told me it ended in a draw. i lost consciousness and awoke surrounded by my team to my relief and fear as for what they were going to face because of us.

we quickly returned to our mounts and cart and for three days we were chased by the encampment, during which time i learned of Aronzo’s condition and how he was missing, as well as the assistance from the damned kal wing hunters who had been hostage like us.

eventually we entered the borders of the black mountains and were met with a large dwarven force who quicly welcomed us through their shield lines. and that is where myself and the team are now. the dwarven commander tells me that Colonel Wolfhaven has a plan but we must hold the enemy at bay for some time. the terrain gives us a slight advantage and the dwarfs are a group of skilled warriors i am glad to have by our side.
i pray celesia guides us in our coming battle and that the great wolf arrives soon.

Respectfully,
Sergeant Grendel

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Campaign Report 117
Sibling Rivalry

Steelwing,

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

Thank the Ascended for dwarves. Tough bastards. I’ll give them that. And running to rescue Blackstone even before he tied the knot. This marriage treaty must pretty damn important to send two hundred of their best to die against Blood Witches brood.

Still, for all their hard work, we may die yet.

Eternal Sun 19th, 3127

As previously written, we were recovering from our skirmish with the troglanesh ambush. Sergeant Grendel and his lover, RFC Ranna were gone, tragged off by undead builder golems. If that sentence seems like gibberish, then imagine writing it?

I was pretty badly torn up after the werewolf attack, but Ingrid was safe. So, worth it. But, the rest of the team was in only passable shape. And, our Ranger escort flaked on us, and RFC Blackstone defied a direct order to withdraw. So, Alpha Team was all going in, without backup.

It took time, but late in the 13th hour, evening of the 18th or morning of the 19th, we moved out north, following the fairly obvious tracks left by the undead Denier golems and the dragged bodies of our unconscious allies. We left Sergeant Muriel in charge with the other animals, managed by Blackstone’s Stahlheim smith. Who, was taking all of this surprisingly well…

Good news, the big oozing walkers move slowly. Bad news, we were hours behind, and floundering in the dark. And then, it started raining. Which, against a human opponents would have been good. Of course, troglanesh hunt via scent, so…all rain does is hamper us, and make us easier prey.

For hours we slogged through the rain, mud, and slush. Well, THEY did. I fought to stay aloft flying slow enough not to lose my team, and not pass out from the pain. Werewolves hurt. And speaking of wolves, the sneak formally known Aronzo was still dogging our group.

I know that werewolves and vampires are “intelligent” evil, but Aronzo freaked me out a little before going hairy. Now, I cannot understand keeping him around. Of course, if Grendel were here, he’d probably order Aronzo killed on the spot. While I’m normally opposed to the Silver Paladin’s knee jerk reactions, however, right then…

Three, maybe four hours north, our forward scout, the werewolf, stopped the team short. I was just behind. Cresting the ridge, I saw it too, the largest troglanesh horde I have ever heard of. Sitting in a wide field, the trog tent gather was at least a quarter mile across. Maybe…3000 trogs, wolves, vamps, and others.

Corporal Sssahliissstah’s expression was…telling. Not fear…realization.

With any hope of the team infiltrating the warband impossible, we were left with few options. One, we could simply walk away and report the size and location of the horde. Of course, by the time we accomplished said feat, Grendel and Ranna would be dead or converted, and the Guardian Gather of Fylg or Char already under siege.Two, we could charge headlong into the enemy camp. Which would be suicide. Three, put our fate in the hands of the werewolf.

I voted for option A. We chose C. Which, to be fair, is far better than what I expected Corporal Sssahlisssstah.

While the team spread out along the ridge line, I on the far left, Corporal Sssahlissstah trusted the werewolf to enter the camp and recover RFC Ranna’s mask. While we made those arrangements, The Explorer made his way around the right flank to set up a sniper’s nest around to the right. Once we were set, the werewolf, in Aronzo’s skin, loped off toward the distant camp.

In a horrifying way, the camp was impressive, hundreds of torches and campfires burning in the darkness, mist hanging low to the ground, like a blanket. Finally the rain let up, if a little. It was not hard enough to drive us under cover, but misting enough to make life miserable. My soak cloak clung to my skin, and my wings were waterlogged and heavy.

About halfway across the couple hundred meters between our position and the fence line the werewolf stopped short. I couldn’t see what who, or what, he was speaking with, but given the shadows, and his behavior, I assume the camp’s pickets were troglodytes. Invisible little ankle biters.

The werewolf had a brief altercation, then wolfed out and chased them off. If there was any lingering doubt as to how far our former ally had fallen…he is now the Enemy.

Once through the pickets, the werewolf reached the edge of the tents, and disappeared. We waited nearly an hour there, in the misting rain and darkness. Even I could not pick out the Explorer against the backdrop of darkness. Then, there was a commotion at the edge of the camp and a werewolf loped toward our skirmish line, a white mask in his mouth. I wondered that the Trog sentries did not stop the werewolf, then considered they had little to fear. First, anything other than a true Darkness creature could never penetrate their defenses. Second, nothing within a hundred miles could threaten such a horde.

Not even Fylg, less than fifty miles away might stand against the assembled hordes.

The werewolf arrived and dropped “Ben Toma’s Mask” in Sssahlissstah’s clawed hand. She clutched it and her eyes went unfocused, the surest sign of an Adept at work. It was not until her eyes starting glowing blue that I got concerned.

While Corporal Sssahlissstah communed with command, the werewolf approached. Something about his demeanor concerned me, more than the fact that he was, in fact, a werewolf. While recovering the mask, Aronzo encountered Andak-Gol Ivar ki Novri and some of his winghunters imprisoned by the trogs. The werewolf was forced to free the winghunters in order to escape with the mask. I doubt he had much choice. Novri is a survivor if nothing else. What worried me was why was Novri here anyway? I assume the winghunters are still tracking us. So, maybe they ran into the trog forces while setting up an ambush. But then, why keep them alive? I know very little about this Blood Witch brood, but it seems unlikely they would bother unless Novri had something the trogs wanted? Whatever that might be, it can hardly be good for us.

A problem for another day.

When Sssahlissstah’s eyes fluttered open, a bit dazed, I worried for a heartbeat, but was heartened by the sudden decisiveness in the set of her toothy jaw. She had managed to contact Wolfhaven via the mask. Our orders, provide a distraction to permit the Ogres a chance to escape, but not to commit. Whether the Ogres make their escape, we were to harass the enemy, but withdraw south, then west toward the Black Mountains at our best speed. But how?

It was here that I suggested we use of the arcfire to set off an explosion. Since the werewolf is arcfire trained, he can readily deploy the weapon, though I doubted his ability to leave the camp after setting off the bomb. A win win.

However, all our detonators were with the Builder, so I volunteered to retrieve them. Given permission, I took off, skimming low in the direction of The Explorer. Though I couldn’t easily see him, I knew his habits and, eventually, managed to spot a darker spot against the hill. Coming up behind him, I managed to catch him napping. I might have given him a small heart attack when I clamped my hand over his mouth. At least he didn’t stab or shoot me.

Once he finished grumbling, he handed me a arcfire detonator. I made it back with no issue. Before handing an arcfire detonator to a werewolf, I requested a direct order, which Corporal Sssahlissstah gave without hesitation. Reluctantly, I handed the werewolf the bomb, and off he loped. I returned to my post and watched the fireworks.

Again, our pet werewolf loped back into the camp, but this time, the sentries attempted to stop the werewolf, who ran past without stopping. They raised an alarm. Any chance at subtely was now over.

Oddly, though, there was not an immediate uproar. From the distance it was difficult to see, but the camp seemed nigh empty, though there was a massive gathering of torches in the center of the camp. And drums. Lots of drums.

Everything that happened from the werewolf entering the camp to all Abyss breaking loose was too far way to see, save for the light display. But, I gathered from later reports that our pet werewolf reached the trog’s weapons cache and tossed the arcfire detonator. At the same time, Sergeant Grendel and RFC Ranna were in the center of camp. Grendel was engaged in a blood duel with his evil twin, Wendel while “Gram Gram” the demonic troll overlord looked on. Nearly the entire corrupted gather had, well, gathered to witness the bloodsport, leaving the rest of the camp almost deserted. Good for the werewolf. Also good for the winghunters as it happened.

The plan worked, for the most part. Trailed by trog soldiers, our werewolf scampered away from the weapons cache moments before the night was ripped apart by an explosion in camp. A fireball rose above the camp, spreading out into a mushroom before fading into the rain. Everything feel silent.

And in the silence, the night sky suddenly began to glow with a reddish color. All eyes turned skyward as half a dozen burning, red orbs drifted down toward the center of the camp. Fireballs. Winghunters.

Thaumaturgical artillery slammed into the center of camp, blasting apart trogs, tents, and our team in a roiling maelstrom of fire and death. In a heartbeat, Novri decimated the Blood Witch forces, and burned the heart out of their camp. He also managed to annihilate our own teammates in the camp as well. Treacherous backstabbing abyssals.

As the last explosion echoed across the plain, a new sound rumbled from the center of the destruction; a massive roar which shook the ground. Even from hundred of yards away, we could see the twisted form of “Gram Gram” rising above the cloud of smoke. She is HUGE. Not Korash huge, but heads taller than even our ogres. With a bellow, “Gram Gram” sent hundreds of trogs pouring out of camp north in the direction of Novri’s artillery.

That solves that little problem, and least for a moment. Though, I seriously doubt even a small horde of corrupted orcs can finish the Winghunters. They couldn’t finish me, so, doubtful they could do in Novri.

But, that still left Grendel and Ranna in the burning heart of what was once the trog camp. The explosions had stirred them up like an overturned anthill. A couple dozen spilled out into the open ground between our skirmish line and the camp. So long as we stayed low and quiet, there was every likelihood that they would never even…

…and then The Explorer opened fire into the camp.

I couldn’t see what he was firing on, but to give away his position, it had to be important as every trog head turned and once to the bright arcfire flashes illuminated him on the ridge. With hideous howls, they turned and bounded across the ground toward the lone Builder. Moments later, RFC Ranna exploded out of camp carrying Sergeant Grendel’s unconscious body.

But, by fortune or design, they came out behind the ravaging horde homing in on the Builder, and so their way was clear, mostly. Which solved that little problem, but still left The Explorer exposed.

Per our orders, Corporal Sssahlisssstah ordered our withdrawal. We had provided the distraction, with a little help from our Winghunter “friends”. I asked permission to cover The Explorer. The Corporal gave me the nod before providing covering fire for The Explorer, drawing off some of the trogs.

I sprinted to the Explorer, arriving just as he scampered from his hide with hobgoblins on his tail. I managed to drop in, felling one and pushing back the other. The Explorer surprised me. He can run pretty fast on his little legs when the need calls.

Once I was sure The Explorer had enough of a head start, I took off too, staying low and providing cover. RFCs Ingrid and Blackstone already had a decent lead. Kenzie was covering Ranna who charged forward blindly. She was making good time for someone in the heart of Novri’s explosion. In fact, she barely looked singed.

Corporal Sssahlisssstah disengaged from her own battle and followed after. All the while, I covered my team from the scrabbling, howling hordes.

They chased over hill and dale. Southward, ever onward. By some fortune, we managed to stay a step ahead of the horde, if only just. They nearly had us as we reached our roadside camp, but we lost them scrambling down a hillock.

Our Stahlheim friend had everything prepared. We reached the camp already packed for travel. Kenzie leaped onto Buttercup, Ingrid onto Diego, The Explorer onto Muriel, and Blackstone onto Tiny. Grendel was dumped into the wagon where our Stahlheim friend revived him. Ranna and Sssahlisssstah climbed in after.

Once revived, Grendel managed to take the driver’s seat, giving the command to away. Just in time. The lead scouts were just catching up.

Per orders, we charged west.

Eternal Sun 19th-23rd, 3127

For five days we rode, barely stopping, never sleeping with death nipping at our heals. I was fine for the first few days, but by day four my wings felt lead, my entire body ached, and I was so tired I was seeing quadruple.

Eternal Sun 23rd, 3127

By day five, I smashed into a tree, and the hounds were closing. By evening, troglodytes were already swarming the wagon. Corporal Sssahlisssstah and RFC Ranna managed to fend them off, but we would not survive the night.

And then, we saw them…like metal teeth along the distant ridge. Squat and metal. Not teeth…shields. Hundreds.

As we approached at full gallop, the shields straddling the road split, marching aside in perfect heavy booted step. We staggered through and collapsed.

I think the draft horse pulling the wagon’s heart gave out. Muriel tipped over, trapping The Explorer beneath. My wings just gave up, and I collapsed to the ground.

When I looked up, we were surrounded by heavily armored dwarves. At least they didn’t look hostile, or not hostile to us.

A stern looking elder dwarf approached RFC Blackstone while behind us, the reformed lines of dwarves engaged the advancing horde of darkness, but it was only a matter of time before the trogs brought in their heavies. As valiant as the dwarves were, they could not stand against such a force.

The dwarf introduced himself as Clan Chief Rock Breaker, of the Rock Breaker Clan. And, RFC Blackstone’s future father in law…

Curioser and curioser.

Clan Chief Rock Breaker had those of us injured taken on stretchers to their field hospital while the others attended his command tent. Since I’d taken a few arrows to the rear quarters, I allowed them to drag me as well. Kenzie and Grendel were taken as well.

With the battle raging less than two hundred meters away, I couldn’t stand by and eat cheese and drink wine. I told the healers to wrap my wings, so I could join the crossbowmen on the fire line. By the time I climbed the hill, The Explorer was already there, having the time of his life. And, for their part, the dwarves were holding their own, but it was a losing battle.

By true dark, we could see the hulking shapes of the Denier golems and trolls. The Explorer pulled off the line, likely to report the golems. He has an unhealthy fixation. At any rate, by the time the moon was high, I was beyond exhausted, and out of arrows. I retired from the line and found an open cot. Rumor has it that we are pulling back to a better defensive position.

Tomorrow, we are in one abyss of a fight.

Steelwing

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Campaign Report 116
Are the Ogres Engaged?

Steelwing,

Eternal Sun 18th, 3127

It is surprisingly difficult to write reports when one’s wings are a shredded mess. Damn werewolves! A pox upon the entire race. Well, maybe not the entire race. I mean, I have nothing against Aronzo. Let me explain.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

We woke with the Wolfhaven Barony barracks. It wasn’t the stuffed mattress and down comforter while entangled in two celestial bodies…but not bad for barracks. I am continually surprised by the care and comfort provided by House Wolfhaven for even the meanest member of the staff. I’ve said it before, but it is clear why Colonel Wolfhaven is beloved by his men.

We woke too early along with the rest of the staff. Most of the revelers remained abed at the ungodly hour. We brave few ventured down to the barrack dining hall to find an open chair.

The Wolfhaven House Guard was awake and active, most having been on duty the night before so avoiding the worst effects of the celebration. Alpha Team headed down the line of table looking for an open space when a hand waved us over. Sir Hevain, the impish Olaran gentleman of leisure was up with the dawn, and already well into his cups.

I have heard there are those among the human race who possess a supernatural ability to consume alcohol. Clearly, this man ranked well among them. We sat and enjoyed our morning repast.

Sir Hevain seemed to know Sergeant Grendel from previous encounters. Ranna I suppose as well. Grendel for his part introduced the party. I found the Olaran knight’s gentle ribbing amusing, though some of the Rangers took more offense.

Throughout our meal I could not shake the feeling that I knew Sir Hevain from somewhere, but try as I might I could not place when or where. After breaking fast, the rest of the team broke up to go about their various tasks. Sir Hevain invited Aronzo and I to a private drink.

We both accepted, and the man has quality ale. I have rarely tasted better. In a flask he carried something brewed “in a tub” in Toad’s Port, far to the south in the Pirate Archipelagos by a one eyed, pegged legged man name Bill. The story was exquisite, the rum divine.

Afterwards, I went looking for the ladies and tracked them to the Sacred Grove. Both Ingrid and Kenzie have been getting in touch with their “spiritual side.” Which I totally support, but not my flight. So, I took a quick flight around the Barony lands…after getting permission from the Sergeant of the Guard.

From above, the Barony lands look quite different. Though there are no demarcation lines on the grounds, after a while, you learn to judge from farm placement, walls, treeline, and streams how the land is divided up. The vista that stretched below me as I buoyed on the hot summer updrafts was a gentle lands of green rolling hills, scattered copses of trees, sparse, but flat, straight roads, and herds of wild and mighty steeds galloping across the fields.

Basically, the Wolfhaven lands border the edge of Landra’Feya and the great forest in the west, stretching east to the North Barony road, where it bends west toward Kore. Nestle there between the north east corner of Landra’Fey and the North Barony road’s westward bend is a vaguely ovoid piece of land lies the ancestral home of the wolf. Though, I note far more horses than wolves. There are not such convenience demarcation lines to the north and south, but from the air, I traced ancient stone walls, more like a sheppard’s fence stretching across the southern border, dividing the Wolfhaven barony and the one directly to the south. To the north, there is a stream running more or less east-west which seems to be a convenient border to the lands to the north. Having seen the big map of Olara in the Wolfhaven smoking den I know that the Barony is the farthest north east in Harken Duchy lands.

Within these boundaries finds a wide, open grassland across most of the barony. Along the westernmost border elvish trees spill across the political border. And the southernmost part, a separate copse of trees grows large. I’ve heard that these are the lands of Major Hawksclaw taken from the deepest forests. There are small tree lines, more like attempts at a privacy screen running along portions of the north barony road. Otherwise, the tree coverage is sparse, just enough to provide adequate shade for the herds, but not taking up too much space.

A fair, but not overlarge space is given over to fields, mostly contained within four roughly forty acre plots around the main manor house, roughly in the center of the barony lands, though maybe a mile closer to the north barony road than the elven forests. Other fields are scattered about the lands, each utilizing different terrain. I assume there is a method to all of this, but I’ve never been particularly fond of dirt.

Connected to the North Barony road via a smaller road running to east, and with smaller “footpaths” crisscrossing north, west, and south, the Wolfhaven Barony’s manor house sits on a hill overlooking open land. The hill is not overlarge, but someone knew what they were doing. The terrain slopes away in every direction giving the defenders a clear field of fire for hundreds of yards. The manor itself is a large, old, stone manse, more a heavily constructed home than a castle. Though, everything Olarans build is designed with defense in mind. It is a large, open design, mostly two stories, with a few “towers” that reach upwards of three. Around the house are smaller buildings: large stables, church of light, barracks, storehouses, guest residences, garden houses, and even the customary sacred grove.

I know from speaking with Sir Regillus that at the time of the barony’s SECOND burning, there was little but a few loose stones to indicated the outer wall. With orders from Wolfahven himself, Sir Regillus organized the reconstruction of the outer wall. Though, reconstruction may be the wrong word. What the former Tempest Servitor constructed was a nearly twenty foot curtain wall around the “courtyards” around the manor. But, rather than build the “typical” tall, narrow wall, the walls around the barony are almost twice as thick at the base as they are at the top, and they are plenty thick along the ramparts. Flanking the main gate are two squat towers, about six feet higher than the walls, but rounded like barrels.

Speaking to Sir Regillus late one night during a previous stay over, he walked through a lot of math and angles, but apparently, the rounded towers and “sloped” walls are far more effective against arcfire than the narrower vertical walls. Considering that each corner is also buttressed by a rounded tower and every tower topped by arcfire enhanced siege engines…woe betide any foolish enough to assault the Wolfhaven Barony again. Though, considering how often the manor has been burned out in the last five years, I cannot really blame them.

All told, between 200 and 250 manage, work, and defend the entire barony. Surprising, but very efficient. Of course, the Baron and/or the Baroness bring with them a 30+ retinue, so the number in residence is in direct relation to who happens to be staying over. Still, as I drifted lazily across the sky, I saw only handfuls of herdsman, farmers, and gardeners working in small pockets miles apart.

It just goes to show that wealth and power have privileged. And despite my own “somewhat” dim views of rank and status, I cannot help but admire the beauty, determination, and down to earth humility of everyone working the land. During my flight, I happened to stop by a group of farmers assessing one of the more remote fields in the southern area of the barony. I was first surprised, and impressed, that they spotted me and men stood ready with crossbows. Olarans, farmer or knight, they are trained for war. Seeing my cloak, and my wings, they relaxed, as much as Olarans ever do, and welcomed me into their company.

I noted that many were older, and all bore some wound of war. Many were missing arms, legs, eyes… As it happens, the Barony actually seeks out and hires wounded veterans from Olaras various wars. Yet another way in which this House seeks to care for the forgotten.

By the time I returned that afternoon, word was out that evening that we were not heading back to Echer’Naught. Rather, we would be launching north from the Barony and that we each needed to write a list of supplies and “personal” effects that we needed from “Home.”

Eternal Sun 1st, 3127

By morning, over half of the guests were headed home. Over the course of the day, heartfelt farewell were given to Sergeant Minor Longtail and her retinue, Sergeant Regillus, and hers, and Commander and Sara Schenkle. I am continually amazed at how many former members of this team are just hanging about.

I note that Sir Hevain has not departed. And that he seems to be working his way through much of the female house staff. One must admire his Vigor.

Eternal Sun 2nd, 3127

In the morning Corporal Sssahliissstah approached the team suggesting throwing a Bachelor party for Blackstone on the eve of his wedding. Over the next few hours the women of Alpha Team worked behind the scenes securing a room, and arranging food. Though, to be fair, the Wolfhaven staff did most of the heavily lifting.

After dinner, we gathered in one of the smaller halls. I volunteered to go find Blackstone who was busy scratching away at his scrolls. The dwarf is the most studious warrior I may have ever met.

He seemed fairly eager to abandon his tasks, and so I led him like a lamb to the slaughter. I am happy to say the Blackstone was both surprised and pleased by his party. Food and drink were had by all. Kenzie and the Explorer drank a bit deeply into their cups. But, everyone had quite a row. We were joined by Sir Hevain who bypassed Aronzo, our guard at the door.

I THINK he was sleeping somewhere in the hall before we arrived. That or he can teleport. Which would not surprise me.

At one point, Colonel Wolfhaven himself happened by and seemed very confused about the entire event. Despite our heartfelt invitation, he politely declined. Though, I believe some part of him would have preferred to join in the celebration. There must be some pangs of nostalgia there.

Later, Sir Regillus happened by and seemed even more perplexed than the Colonel. I desperately wished he would join us. That would have been hilarious. However, such was not to be.

LATE in the evening, a Wolfhaven page arrived to inform Alpha Team that our gear had arrived from Echer’Naught. And so, with a final toast, we wished RFC Blackstone well, and condolences on his pending nuptial.

Out in the yard, three heavy wagons had pulled into the yard in front of the manor house, Wolfhaven house staff were in the process of offloading our kit from the center wagon. The chamberlain handed Sergeant Grendel a checklist to verify that Alpha Team received their orders.

The men quickly offloaded and stacked two weeks rations, bundles of arrows, crates of potions and other sundries beside the wagon. Sergeant Grendel checked off each dutifully, before Corporal Sssahliissstah divided and distributed. In addition to our own kit, we each received a straw packed satchel bearing two potions of healing.

Once the standard gear was distributed, a strongbox was hoisted out of the wagon and three packages were distributed. A small do Sergeant Grendel, a head sized crate to Blackstone, and a flat hinged box to the Explorer. Each seemed inordinately pleased to received their care packages. RFC Ranna was drooling over a bundle of hideous looking crossbow bolts.

I grabbed my few bundles of arrows, and retired to a spare room with Kenzie and Ingrid. We DID happen by the Builder, clutching a pair of boxes like child on nameday, following after Sir Regillus. I have no idea what that was about, nor do I care. In the room, I noted that Kenzie had a small pouch of redish vials, but declined to ask.

Eternal Sun 3rd, 3127

Early in the morning, we assembled with our kit in the yard. I noted that RFC Ranna sported a brand new white silver ring. That, and Sergeant Grendel seemed to be bouncing a bit as he walked. I waited some announcement, but neither ogre said a word, so I let it go.

The Explorer paraded out like peakcock, making sure we all saw his shiny new handcaster in its tooled leather holster. For a stoic warrior, he does get giddy about his arcfire.

We were ALSO joined by a group of newcomers. First, RFC Blackstone brought up a sour looking dwarven smith, who manage to glare at us all balefully from beneath a bushy unibrow.

The second group consisted of four Rangers following command of an attractive female brinchie who introduced herself as Nira Nightshade. For the second time in a few days I was struck by the idea that I knew her from somewhere, but try as I might, I couldn’t place it. They had orders to attach to our escort detail. A bit of extra muscle on this important diplomatic venture.

As we greeted our new companions, Sergeant Muriel, Tiny, King, Diego, Buttercup, and other mounts were brought out and loaded. Colonel Wolfhaven himself braved the morning air to see us off. His words were humble and I suppose inspiring. Then we were off.

We rode hard that day, travelling til well after dark. We must have cleared 40 miles. By the time we arrived, the gates of Kore were closed, but we were permitted after a bit of theatrics. For the Sworn of House Vosltagg it is a bit funny that Sergeant Grendel doesn’t speak Olara.

But, once inside, we were directed to the local Ranger HQ. We were given room and board, if only meager. Apparently, the Alpha Team has a poor reputation in Kore and Olara. Seems there was an incident where a former member of the team burned down the kitchens in the HQ in the capital city of Olara. Other incidents have happened in Kore. Either way, we were allowed to stay the night, but I felt strongly they were happy to see us off.

Eternal Sun 4th, 3127

Again, we were out by dawn, heading west toward the great city of Rhion. The western bastion of Olara. House Steiner. Few Great Houses have the stick shoved so far up their arses as Steiner. As we departed Kore, I pondered what kind of reception we would receive from the stoic and dour Steiner.

Eternal Sun 7th, 317

Three days later, and we enter the shadow of Rhion’s eastern walls. I was actually surprised by how professional the Olarans treated out party. We passed through narrow, city streets on our way to the Ranger HQ. Apparantly, Alpha Team had once been ambushed and nearly slain by someone named Diego not far from the Ranger outpost.

In addition to the impressive roll of honored dead, and the ridiculous number of living members spread across Shaintar, I am growing more impressed with just how many places Alpha Team has destroyed, nearly been destroyed, or just perpetually worn out any welcome. For a team that has only been active for about five years, we have an impressive, and horrifying track record.

That night, we were hosted by the Rangers of Rhion. While Rhion is a major city, and the Rangers have authority, in practice, the large outpost is mostly for show. House Steiner has little interest in allowing outsiders to usurp their authority. So, these Rangers spend most of their time cleaning and polishing their large and impressive edifice.

Eternal Sun 8th, 3127

We departed Rhion and turned north, heading to Jasara. Now there is a city I know all too well. The most generous thing I can say of the Jasaran people is they are dicks. But, they are honest about it. Rumor says they rejected the exalted Colonel Wolfhaven’s offer to join the Ranger Charter..gasp! Which, would be considered sacrilege anywhere else. But, they also murdered the Ranger ambassador.

Ever since then, relations between Jasara and the rest of the Southern Kingdom’s have been…tense. Still, they are “allies” and Rangers are free to move and operate throughout their lands. We would be fools to do so.

Eternal Sun 9th, 3127

The night before Jasara, we camped about 10 miles south. Sergeant Grendel provided a perfectly adequate security briefing, and Aronzo donned more makeup that a Camonere whore. He has a thing about the Malakar Dominion…or Camonere whores…

Eternal Sun 10th, 3127

Early we arrived in line at the bridge crossing into the island nation state of Jasara. It took hours, but we arrived at the Olaran checkpoint. Sergeant Grendel provided our Ranger papers, and his own being the mark of Volstagg. That raised some eyebrows.

The papers passed through a series of hands before attracting attention to the watch commander who addressed the good Sergeant in Olaran. It took everything I had not to bury my hands in my face.

Ultimately we were allowed to pass, but I sense an angry letter winging its way to Captain Volstagg’s desk in Almahrad.

Across the decorative stone bridge, we encountered the Jasaran checkpoint. Here, out Ranger papers netted us SPECIAL consideration. We were considered hostile and had our bags rifled while Sergeant Grendel was questions.

Eventually, we were waved through to meet a local Ranger stationed in the city. Joy!. He let us to an outhouse that served as their HQ. I feared Corporal Sssahliissstah was going to quite literally bite his head off. But, she retained her composure. Apparently those lessens with Sssvaren are going well?

The Ranger, I never got a name, offered to let us draw supplies, but we simply didn’t have the time to pick out the maggots. So, we declined his invitation to dine and head accross town to the south western bridge. There, we were treated to another round with Jasaran security.

I mean, the towering ogres with their scowls and clubs are impressive. But, by this point, I was hot, tired, and hungry…since Sergeant Grendel refused to stop to eat! So, I was over it.

Another rifling of our kit and we crossed the bridge and made our way a short distance to ANOTHER checkpoint. Ascended help us. Here we faced Goblinesh from Bralk. They seemed to respect Grendel and after a quick, and intimate sniffing from one of their goblins…which I enjoyed far too much, we were on our way again!

All told, we spend maybe five hours of the day doing nothing but waiting in line. So help me, next time I am going to fly over, find an alehouse and wait for the team to catch up.

Eternal Sun 12th, 3127

Nevertheless, we made Bralk by the 12th. When we arrived, we found that the Gather gates were closed to us, but the goblinesh of the region had kindly provided “accommodation.” It is hard to accurately describe the goblinesh waystation of Bralk, suffice to say everything was sturdily built, but appeared to have been designed by a mentally deficient child taxidermist. It was equal parts impressive, humorous, and disturbing.

The goblin to welcomed us at the Inn was the most polite and attentive innkeep I have ever met. And, I am pleased to see the goblins of the waystation have fully embraced modern economic exchange. They fleeced us for every red copper.

After being shown our room. Oh, and the stench. Somewhere between a stables and a privy? Anyway, after seeing our rooms, we all need alcohol, so we ventured across the street to their version of an alehouse. There were a number of travelers, human and goblinesh sitting at the rough tables.

The decor can best be described as a place Sir Hevain would likely hang out.

Anyway, we checked the various menus. All written in which chalk against a dark board. Each outlining the cost and service available. There was a drink menu, a food menu, and a whore menu. And, just in case there was any doubt, the prostitutes were clearly labeled.

Good thing. I’d hate to make THAT mistake again.

In good spirits despite the horror show, we all ordered locally sourced food and ale. I THINK Blackstone declined and accepted, instead, a drink from Aronzo’s flask. He promptly passed out. More on that in a moment.

I have had goblinesh liquor before. This had a green tint, tasted like lye, and felt like I was drinking lava. Fortunately I saved enough to strip my armor later that night. The food was better…ish.

Speaking with the locals, and listening in on nearby conversations, we got the impression that there was a large group, or several groups of marauders operating in the region we would be entering. Not surprising, but we had no choice.

Fed, drunk, and carrying Blackstone, we retired to our rooms. Upon arrival, Blackstone woke, punched Aronzo in the genitals, and we set watches before bed. It was an amazing night.

Eternal Sun 13th, 3127

In the morning, we were up again and moving north west to Guardian Gather of Fylg. Sergeant Grendel was on high alert as we entered the open country. However, save for some travelers and local wildlife, we saw little of interest along the road.

Eternal Sun 16th, 3127

Three days. Three days of on and off rain, we arrived at the great Gather of Fylg. Well, outside. Again, the gates were barred, we there was an inn by the road. This was obviously older and the staff and fare more “normal.”

We purchased rooms, and sat in the open room, drinking, eating, and listening. Sergeant Grendel conversed with the Orc patron who told us that smaller, local gathers were being wiped out, no survivors or bodies. Tension was writ clear on the faces of everyone in the room, and inn.

After a solemn meal, we headed up to our rooms, and slept lightly under guard of posted watched. Here, Nira and her Rangers pulled their weight.

Eternal Sun 17th, 3127

We left before dawn, again. Why so early?! Our path turned west toward the gather of Ordoth. I was excited. I do not recall ever visiting Ordoth. Sadly, I still haven’t visited Ordoth.

Eternal Suns 18th, 3127

We were approaching evening on our second day west of Fylg when everything went sour. Nira and her scouts were ranged our providing watch while we went about our routines, setting up camp, starting small fires, and preparing to bunk down for the night.

The spot was lovely, too. Just south of the road, along the banks of a shallow, wide stream. Cool fresh water to drink and bath. The sky was clear, and it was warm, but not hot.

I was just starting to relax, joking with the team when a shout went up from one of Nira’s northern scouts. We were turning to look when large, black furred bodies exploded out of the darkness. Werewolves. Nether damend werewolves.

There was no time to react. One of the shaggy beasts was on me before I could even blink. I felt teeth sink into my should. I cried out, but in that moment I realized we were dead. Nine wolves tore through Alpha Team. One, the Alpha of the pack, stood on the ridge howling orders.

Sergeant Grendel called the retreat, and Alpha Team responded. RFC Blackstone sank into the earth and sped away. Kenzie ducked a swipe and took off. Nira drew her saber and dropped her wolf, then followed orders and took off. The Explorer was hot on her heals.

Aronzo tried to knock his unconscious before making his escape. The wolf shrugged it off before savaging him. Aronzo was down.

As I struggled to free myself from the werewolf attacking me, I felt the earth rumble. Then, two hulking shapes lumbered over the nearby ridge and started firing black-orange bolts at Grendel and Ranna.

With wolves clawing up their bodies, the ogres had nowhere to go. The golem like abonimations were on them in an insante, boring through their Olaran plate with arcfirelike drill arms, still pumping shots from a massive hand projector.

Ranna went down under the onslaught. A wolf crawling up each leg, and the golem blasting her in the chest. Soon as she hit the ground, the dogs leaped off at a bark from their master, and dog piled Grendel. Once they cleared out, the necro-golem reached down and started dragging Ranna back the way they had come.

The sound Grendel made was…heart wrenching. Ranna was being taken away. He KNEW what they would do, but there was nothing he could do. In rage, he crushed one of the wolves, but more piled on.

Battling her own wolves, Corporal Sssahliissstah launched a bolt into the golem dragging Ranna. The corrupted thing staggered, turned dumbly and fired into her. I saw her go down and the wolves on her turned and piled on Grendel.

Behind me, I heard Ingrid scream. The wolf had her…I could see the look on her face. My heart broke. There was no time. I couldn’t lose her. I wouldn’t. I did what I had to do.

Taking a rake from the wolf on me, my right wing was shredded, but I cleared the six feet to Ingrid. I wrapped her in my wings, like I have done so many times before. I shouted for her to run when I felt the teeth and claws ripping into my back.

When I came too, Corporal Sssahliissstah shoving a healing a down my throat. It wasn’t enough to fix me, but it put me on my feet. The scene was horrible. Aronzo was up and coughing, but…something was off. Grendel and Ranna were gone, but I could see that he has smashed one of the golems good.

My first thought was if Ingrid made it out. Corporal Sssahliissstah said she did, and that she was retreating with the rest of the unit. Before anyone could order me to stay, I crawled to my feet, and got airborne on what was left of my wings. I caught up to Ingrid not far. I managed to croak that the situation was clear.

That was all I had. She fired off a signal bolt to summon the rest of the team. Not long after, they came jobbing up. The animals all in a line behind Sergeant Muriel. She had sense enough to retreat. The rest of the team riding or trotting beside. I was so overjoyed at seeing Kenzie and Ingrid alive, I could barely move.

Though, I did manage to climb on Muriel’s back. She smelled like three week old ass…with lavender. That was odd.

We splashed back through the ice cold water. Which reminded me how much I prefer to be airborne, and returned to the remains of our camp. Corporal Sssahliissstah had secured the camp. Nira’s team, again, secured the perimeter, though all but she were limping badly.

Blackstone went about patching up what the potions failed to while Sssahliissstah took command. Turns out that Grendel was ogrenapped by his evil twin…maybe. And that these trogs were Witchmarked, not regular flavor. We get this from comments Grendel has made to some of the team over the months. Not ME, but to people he likes.

That and the Explorer was drooling over the down golem. It LOOKED like an arcfire golem, but it was crusted in green slake, the copper was black with tarnish, and it oozed reeking black corruption. That, it possessed a zombie brain…

He seemed said it was ancient. The reverence in his voice was creepy. Kind of like someone fawning of the recently deceased corpse of a grandparent. Still, I for one am grateful to have his expertise, because we know at least one more of the things is lurking out there.

Oh, and Aronzo quit the Rangers because he is now a werewolf. So there is that.

When everyone was wrapped up, Corporal Sssahliissstah made her decision. She ordered Nira’s team to escort RFC Blackstone and the smith…who actually also survived the ordeal my melding with the ground as well… Is that a dwarf thing?

And, then, to no one’s surprise, RFC Blackstone politely refused, stating that should he leave his Clan to die would be seen as cowardice, and the wedding would likely be off anyway. Better to die horribly with honor, than to live with common sense. Of course, I’m hardly one to speak. I hardly even know the ogres and I’m geared up ready to die for them.

At this critical juncture, Nira declined to join us, as her mission was escort, and let us know she would tell the Rangers we died honorably. I gave a bit of a cheer, and the Explorer, in his customary dry humor, said he thought it was all a bad idea.

Since I am useless right now, I’m jotting down these notes, for posterity. I think I will tie them to Muriel. That way, when we are all slaughtered and reanimated as shambling corpses, at least someone will know what happened. I don’t see the Senior Sergeant going along with this plan.

Looks like the Corporal is finishing packing up camp, and securing our gear to the mounts. It has been an honor to serve.

Steelwing

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Training for a Wedding
Grendel's Report

Since Grendel took command of team from Lieutenant Volstagg, we have had difficulties working as cohesive unit. This falls mainly on my shoulders for Grendel’s inexperience as leader. This does not mean team is unfit for duties, but we all in need of training, which is what our superiors saw fit.

When Grendel mean training he mean a mission and this one was in walls of city, thank Celesia. There discovered group of people we encounter before when looking for gold of king of Olara. Which Grendel not mind since this people almost killed Grendel’s team.

The plan was to stealth to their hideout in Warehouse district while team led by Great wolf’s son, Alfred, approach from underneath in sewers. The team from underneath needed signal to know when to attack. This signal was decided to be from an explosion. This was tasked to Aronzo, who took form of Corporal Newt. Then both teams would converge and close in on enemies.

Grendel never see much in ways of explosions, but the one he see on mission amazing. After explosion Ranger Steelwing swooped to draw fire with the Explorer giving cover from nearby roof top. Rest of team rushed in after and made quick work of rest.

In aftermath of battle, if can be called one, we find large amount of what highers call Storm-fire, and surrounding teams capture few that try to flee. Grendel glad this go good for team, it nice to see all work together to achieve our missions and to make it out with little casualties. Grendel believ we may need this for upcoming mission.

Blackstone has become one with a new clan of dwarves, which i understand is similar to Gathers. We tasked with escorting him to the Blackstone mountains to make union official. This terrifies Grendel. I not well versed yet in the political battlefields of this new world Grendel has called home for some time now. Thankfully though I have the team to help me in my short comings.

This coming mission will rely heavily upon RFC Blackstone, but if i have learned anything is that he will not be alone in this. Corporal Lisa has been a great asset in the Political battlefields we have found ourselves in on many occasions as well as many others have proved to be invaluable in helping Grendel talk with others. I wish this team does well in the coming mission and expect us to succeed, just hope it at no great cost. Celesia guide us.

Sargent Grendel

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Campaign Report 115: Addendum
Wolfhaven Report

Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Wolfhaven Barony, Olara

33rd Day of Red Wolf, Year 3127 Under the Light

Over the course of less than a month, to experience such highs and lows, leaves me dizzy and fatigued. First securing the Crown of Camon and bringing some semblance of peace to that war-torn region, only to stagger almost drunkenly into battle against a foe beyond my wildest ken. The exhilaration of victory soured by the loss of Rysak Ironblood. Quite a way to spend my name-day. And, then, a return to Echer’Naught to promote Rah-Sahn to the esteemed, yet seldom used, rank of Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw. And to follow with the elevation and knighting of my son, Sir Alfred Wolfhaven. My heart cannot take such vagaries.

Red Wolf 10th, 3127

I completed my meetings with Commander Garrus and other unit officers, my presence within the Heroes’ Keep was concluded. Though I’m certain Commander Garrus appreciated my presence, and I know the men found pride in having the Commander of the Legion present, I find that at a certain point the presence of high officers ends up being more of a detriment. Junior officers grow complacent, simply passing off responsibility to higher officers rather than taking responsibility for themselves. And Commander Garrus regrettably stepped aside, acting more as my aide de camp than the duly appointed commander of the post.

So, after concluding my duties on the 10th, I informed Commander Garrus that I would be departing in the morning. That evening, we held a dinner for the Legion and allies in the courtyard. There, we commemorated the site were Rysak Ironblood fell. I have commissioned the Builders and Dwarven Stonesinger to create a monument to our fallen, to include the spear which nearly took my life.

Red Wolf 11th, 3127

With my small retinue of Wolfhaven Free Riders and a pair of Legion scouts, I began my long trek east and south to Echer’Naught. Eve joined me as well, since her immediate duties were completed. She also expressed a desire to see Alfred and to be with him at his knighting. I express pride and joy at their happiness. For what else do we fight, but the future of our children?

Our route took us east to Hispan, then through the Guardian Gathers, south-east to Jasara. There we cross the river, down to Rhion, then turning east to Kore,and then south toward Echer’Naught.

Red Wolf 23rd, 3127

We stopped at the Wolfhaven Barony. Sir Regillus was in attendance. I gather that he was a tad miffed that we rode upon him unannounced. He takes his formalities seriously. Still, it was pleasant to sleep in my own bed, despite the absence of my beautiful wife. She remained in the city managing affairs of the house.

My office was neat an orderly, with neatly and orderly stacked messages, reports, missives, letters, and petitions in small towers scattered about the room. With the sheer volume I could have constructed a serviceable fortification fit for a pair of battle-brothers. I will by necessity need return and address the stockpile. But not this day.

Red Wolf 24th, 3127

Per usual, we left before dawn, making our way south along the North Barony road. Under the name Wolf, a wandering Olaran mercenary, I purchased a room at the Mid-waystation south of the Barony. This quaint two-story inn has featured prominently in many Ranger reports, most recently Alpha Team. We enjoyed a delicious lunch and continued our ride.

We camped outside, but within sight of Echer’Naught’s walls. Seeing the light flickering along the wall, hearing the faint murmur of voices…my heart ached with longing. A handful of travelers approached the camp and requested to join our encampment. They were travelers from Jasara in the city on business. We ate, drank, and sang. There was something so normal about just sitting by a warm fire under the stars and enjoying the company of new friends without the burden of rank and station.

Do all who bear authority long for the simpler days of youth, when life consisted of brotherhood, excitement, and, most importantly, freedom? Perhaps. And yet, I would not sacrifice all the freedom in the world for my family, my home. It is good to get away, but I look forward to resuming my normal duties.

Red Wolf 25th, 3127

We rose before dawn, joining the line of carts, wagons, and travelers seeking to enter the city. Despite our early arrival, we were still about fifth in line. An hour passed before the guards sounded the horn, and the great north gate doors creaked and groaned open. City Watch and Rangers strode out, taking up posts under awnings to begin inspections.

In all the years in the city, I do not ever recall standing in line to watch this ceremony which has remained nigh unchained for centuries. The experience was pleasant, as waiting in line could be, though surreal. One by one, each merchant and wagon rolled up to the gate. The Sergeant at Arms inspected the paperwork, while his guards poked and prodded the laden wagon. All the while, the City Watch glowered under their domed helms.

Eventually, my team stepped up to the checkpoint. The bored Ranger Sergeant extended a hand for my papers without bothering to glance upwards. I express a certain amusement when his gaze settled upon my name and rank. His body went rigid, and he nearly fell over looking up. I could see the well drilled reflex as he opened his mouth to call the guard to attention. When our eyes locked, he wisely noted the slight shake of my head and chose to, instead, clear his throat instead. Handing me back my papers, he waved my unit through without further comment.

With the city just waking, we rode down the Main Street. Merchants threw off tarps, criers began to shout their wares, bleary eyed servants emptied chamber pots into sewers grates, and the bustle of the city grew into a constant roar. We stopped by Schenkle’s Bakery for sweet rolls. Father Schenkle nearly cracked a rib hugging me. My guards nearly smashed a case trying to save me. All told, it was an eventful breaking of fast.

Afterwards, we rode to the Ranger City Headquarters and dismounted outside. The Ranger grooms were just finishing their morning ale when we appeared. Only the head man recognized me out of uniform and actually fell off his fence rail. Quickly, with only a brief pause for scrambling, the grooms took our horses and we head around the corner to the “entrance.” For the briefest moment I was lost in time. Nostalgia flooded over me. The scent of mud, straw, oil, and wood mixed with the sounds of Rangers training in the yard and the hubbub of traffic on the main road behind me.

After all these years I can still see the broke down old barn that served as our headquarters for the first years. As I passed the pair of Ranger guards flanking the door, I could almost see the hulking form of GrimMbore on his crate, like the first day I arrived. Passing through the old familiar door, I was greeted by the sight of dozens of Rangers packed around long tables, eating, talking, and laughing. But I could just as clearly see a young cocky Hawksclaw stacking lumber while Highwall sawed and nailed them together. Does anyone sitting her today realize that their tables, chairs, firepits, even beds were build by hand by THE Colonel Wolfhaven, Captain Hawksclaw, and Sergeant Minor Longtail? Only, back then, we were Alexander, Rah-Sahn, Aradove, and Gate…

Even after so many years, it is strange not seeing Grimbore’s bed just inside the door to the left. That was shipped out almost two years ago, shortly after the founding of the Stone Tower Gather. He was SO happy when we presented it to him. Such a simple thing, a bed. But, he was as proud as any king.

My anonymity evaporated the moment I stepped into the Headquarters. Conversation stopped as NCO’s began to rise to their feet, unsure of protocol when their Colonel is out of uniform. I nodded in what I hoped was a reassuring gesture. Why do they look at me with such fear? Of all the trapping of rank, the disconnected with the men under my command is one of the most difficult things to bear.

As I approached the door to Captain Hawksclaw’s office, my old office, the orc guard out front snapped to attention so fast and so straight, I feared his spine would snap. He did manage to squeak out a hoarse, “next.” Inside, Captain Hawksclaw, just starting his morning tea, looked up confused, then delighted. That must be why we cling to the old guard. Because they see us not as Colonels and Captains, but as we are…old friends.

We embraced, then I sat. I can scarcely describe the feeling of being back here. Everything is so familiar, the old desk, the rough paneled walls, the worn chairs. And yet, it has all changed. Such is life.

Despite his surprise, and confusion at my appearance, Hawksclaw welcomed me. It was good to just chat with a friend. Though, I admit that my appearance was under false pretenses. I am fully away that Alpha is to be sent as an honor guard for Blackstone’s wedding. I signed the orders myself. But, there were a couple important events that needed addressing prior to their departure. And on that note, I informed Captain Hawksclaw that his promotional packet had been received and approved. Granted it was on extremely short notice, but he would need to acquire a new dress uniform, and put together a guest list. We shook and he looked both concerned and excited. If any man deserves the honor, it is Rah-Sahn.

After that, I headed to my manor to see my wife. In the brief time spent in the City HQ, main street grew crowded. Even mounted, we slowed to a crawl as we navigated the congested streets. Under normal circumstances, outriders would clear the streets allowing my retinue to pass, but this morning I elected to move with the flow of traffic. Sweet, spicy, and savor scents wafted up from street vendors. While waiting for a broken wagon to be pushed off the road, I leaned down an purchased a pastry from a food stall recommended by Sir Volstagg. It was delicious as promised, though I am still partial to Schenkles.

Eventually, we passed the roundabout at Center Pointe. I note the Memorial is going up well. Craftsmen were laboring large, granite slaps into place as we passed. Through Center Pointe, we made our passed the Wayfarer’s Rest on the right, and Barracks on the left. A few blocks later, we make the turn through the High Towne gate, up the hill, and then…home.

There are few feelings quite so comforting as seeing your home for the first time. But there is one.

By some stoke of fortune, my Lady Baroness happened to be leaving the manor on some errand as we crested the hill. I saw her a moment before she turned. So beautiful. Today, she wore a gray gown over a silver tooled dress. Her shoulders and chest were bare revealing her alabaster skin, and wide, fluted sleeves flowed down from needle pointed embroidery at the shoulders, down to decorative lace at the wrists. Over her raven hair, she wore a pale wimple. Behind her flocked her attendants like chicks following a mother hen. And behind the attendants a pair of House Guard in colors followed, arclances resting against their shoulders.

She was speaking to her chief handmaid, when the girl stiffened, seeing me approaching. Elyanna turned, slowly. Our eyes met. And then, she smiled. There was not shout, she did not tear off running toward me. Nothing so…crass. My wife simply smiled and waited patiently for me to dismount and approach. But her eyes, her eyes spoke volumes. I still marvel how a woman raised so far from my home could so wholly adopt Olaran culture. She is everything I could have dreamed and more.

Baroness Elyanna did make one small concession. After our brief embrace, she handed a list to her chief handmaid and instructed the girl to complete the shopping without her. Rather, my wife joined me at the manor.

Red Wolf 26th, 3127

While working through yet another stack of paperwork, this at home, I heard word that Captain Hawksclaw officiated the promotion for several members of Alpha Team.

Ranger Arimar Blackstone was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Ingrid was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger McKenzie Shan was promoted to Ranger First Class
Ranger Steelwing was promoted to Ranger First Class

Considering the actions of the team, the promotion was more than deserved.

I, of course, was busy planning my own promotion ceremony. In fine military tradition, it is appropriate to accompany the elevation of an officer with pomp and circumstance. The greater the rank, the more pomp. As there are previous few Majors in the Ranger Corps, it being a seldom used rank, I felt it appropriate to present Captain Hawksclaw the full experience and grandeur of his new position. No one deserves it more. Besides, I have not forgotten the mirth he felt at my own award ceremony so many years ago. I will never forget the dreadful performance by Fateweaver and his band of mummers. It haunts my dreams.

Colonel Anderson called on me during the afternoon. He had heard word of my arrival and spent most of the 25th, and 26th awaiting my arrival at the Regional Headquarters. When I failed to arrive, he elected to come to me. I fear I may have insulted the man, though he was congenial and pleasant. I assured him that my reticence to arrive at the HQ had more to do with the fact that I was not yet in a position to assume full-time duties than any issue with his team. Moreover, I sought NOT to interfere until such time as I was able direct my full resources at the task. He seemed mollified and was instrumental in putting Captain Hawksclaw’s ceremony together.

Red Wolf 27th, 3127

Despite my best efforts, certain duties required my attention. First and foremost, I signed off on assigning Ben Toma’s mask from the “Vault,” to RFC Ranna. Thought I do not envy her, I understand the protections the mask will provide. If it will protect my Rangers, I am more than pleased to agree. Also, I found a request via Sergeant Major Stormhammer on behalf of Ranger “Explorer” to be assigned an arcfire handcaster from the Ranger Arsenal. This…I considered.

I have no fear the Builder is more than capable of operating the caster. In fact, I dare say that few other than Anaxelum’s men know more about arcfire. And yet, I am loathe to distribute our precious store of arcfire to those I do not know. Even members of Alpha Team. Was I being influence by my own personal distrust of arcfire, or just my concerns over the motives of the Builder’s as a race? Whatever the case, I tucked that request into the personal satchel for further rumination.

In addition to orders, I was pleased to be informed that as of the 27th of Red Wolf, RFC Ranna had officially been inducted into the Echer’Naught chapter of the Order of the Closed Eye. I am pleased that she appears to be acclimating to living with the Rangers. In addition, I heard word that on the same day she submitted Captain Volstagg’s acceptance as a Sworn of House Volstagg. Sir Volstagg extended the invitation to them both when they left Almahrad the last time, Falling Ice 30th, 3127. Sergeant Grendel accepted his immediately. RFC Ranna required more time to come to the decision.

There were other reports, details, and business. But, again, final preparations for Rah-Sahn’s ceremony consumed most of my time. That…and meeting with my son.

Alfred and I had been in communication via letters, and Lady Moonsilver, for months. In fact, throughout Spring and into Summer, we discussed his promotion to full knight. Since Falling Ice 34th, 3123, that fateful day when I took the lists during Echer’Naught’s annual Festival of Lilankrone, young Alfred served as my Squire. In fact, it was the same day he took the cloak to be a Ranger. I wonder if he knew then what a change that day would have on his life? I hope for the better. A year and two months of loyal service later, I officially adopted Alfred as my son and heir on Golden Eagle 21st, 3124. From that day till this, he has had but one dream, to ascend to the rank of Knight in House Wolfhaven.

Regrettably, my duties have kept me away far too long. And Alfred has been patient, though I can feel his frustration. I feel it as well. My knighting was one of the greatest moments of my life. My father looked so proud. Though it seems a lifetime ago, it is a precious treasure that I have held through the dark days of my life. Nothing would give me greater joy than to grant for Alfred what was granted to me.

And then, there is the small matter for Evelyn Afliem, of course. I know my son’s heart is to marry her. But, he cannot until he has reached knighthood. And, from her earnest gaze as we entered the city, examining each face in the hope to see his in the crowd…she is as impatient as we.

So, in the midst of preparations to promote my friend and sworn, Rah-Sahn, I also had the double joy to send invitations to the knighting of my eldest son. My heart bursts with pride.

Red Wolf 28th, 3127

I woke before dawn, hoping to get an early start to the day, only to find that my wife had been up for hours. Preparations were well under way. I could easily see from the yawns and tired eyes of the servants chugging Almahradi coffee. Late to the party, I rose and began my own preparations. Lady Elyanna spared a brief moment to grant me a kiss, but she was in her element, like a conductor conducting an opus. I wisely stayed well out of her way.

Instead, I donned my formal dress and made my way to the Regional Headquarters. There was only slightly less busy than my own home. Colonel Anderson greeted me and together we wrangled the Rangers into some semblance of order. I did note the Alpha Team standing around uncomfortably in their dress uniforms, freshly stitched and starched.

After a morning of mad preparations, the event was hosted in the East Hall at 2PM. In his formal dress, Captain Hawkslcaw paraded into a rousing martial strain. His wife, Lady Moonsilver, on his arm as always. The room was packed with Rangers, City Watch, City Militia, Merchants Association, and others. At the head table, Hawksclaw’s mother and sister. Sadly, Celebor could not attend, though I know he sent his warmest regards. Warmest for Celebor. And, of course, Sergeant Minor Longtail.

Speeches were given, per usual. Some notables were Captain Vasser of the City Watch, Commander Schenkle of the City Militia, Colonel Anderson of the Rangers, and a visiting Emissary from the elven lands of Landra’Feya. Even High Druidess Treesinger made some small remarks. All extolled his virtues, listed his accomplishments. Men and women from every command stood to recognize his service. And, of course, Alpha Team. It always seems to come back to that brotherhood.

Do the young, fresh, and uncomfortable young Rangers understand the magnitude of the cadre they have joined? Do they know the history? Can they?

In truth, I suppose not. Such is the nature of things. Our time has passed. Our stories have been told. It is time for these new members to make their own mark on the world. Perhaps someday, it will be a member of their team standing here?

Once the others had spoken, I was invited to speak. Rather than have everyone stand, I offered a brief respite from attention. My words were short, but heartfelt. Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw was not just the third commander of Alpha Team and my successor, he was, and is, my dearest friend, the First Sworn of my House, founder of the Wolfhaven’s Free Company Riders, and commander of the Ranger Headquarters of Echer’naught. I then called the room to attention to orders, and read the official orders.

Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw was promoted to Major Ra-Sahn Hawksclaw.

The ceremony concluded, Sergeant Major Magor Stormhammer dismissed the assembled to attend a private luncheon in the courtyard. We all retired, found our seats and ate. Looking around, I could not help but recal some of the extraordinary events that had transpired in this small patch of land. I was attacked by the Inspector here. We battled Tempest on this very ground. So too, the Flame Ranger. Fateweaver’s awful play happened here. So many good memories, and many painful as well.

As is my custom, I retired early, but I know many people stayed long into the eve. I did note Alpha Team approaching Major Hawksclaw as a unit as I left. Good. It warms my heart to see it.

Returning home, I quickly gathered my things and prepared to leave. Per usual, the Baroness had already prepared almost all details. Carriages and wagons waited at the gate, loaded and ready to go. Turning over the house to our Castellan and defense to Gendarre. And then we were off, a rather large cavalcade rolling out of the city, heading north. We passed the gates of High Towne, turning west on the main road. Then, turning north at Center Pointe, we passed Thorgrams statue as we departed the North Gate.

On the road again. We traveled late into the eve, stopping to camp by the road. Well, I suppose camp is a bit of a misnomer. For me, a camp is a bedroll beside a small fire with Thunder on a horseline and a man standing watch. For my wife…camping is erecting a tent city. Sleeping in a rope bed on thick carpets. Cooks prepare our meals. Grooms tend our horses. We don’t camp, so much as migrate with a large portion of the House. Though, I am not complaining…much. Lying in a real bed, warm next to my bride is far preferable than spooning a snoring knight on the cold hard ground.

Red Wolf 29th, 3127

We decamped before dawn. I marvel at how quickly my wife’s staff drops and packs the mass of tents and canvas. But, within an hour, we were ready to move. Sometimes I believe were SHE running my armies, we might have already won. Despite our size, we moved quickly, arriving at the Barony a few hours after dark. Sir Regillus met us at the gatehouse with an entire retinue of House Guard.

We passed a growing camp outside our walls. Already dozens of knights and their men at arms had arrived. Members of allied houses, knights Alfred had served with over the years, and friends of the Rangers. For a heartbeat, I was thrown back to the days before the War of Flame when such events were commonplace. I hope that some day, they will be so again.

Despite the hour, when we reached the manor proper, the house was awake. Baths were drawn, and food prepared. I slept full, warm, and clean in my own bed that night.

Red Wolf 30th, 3127

All of the 30th was spent making preparations. Late in the eve, Alpha Team arrived.

Red Wolf 31st, 3127

Sir Regillus took charge of security, working with visiting knights, Alpha Team, and the House Guard to ensure NOTHING disturbed this event. Over the course of the day, other luminaries arrived. Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven, along with Beta Team and Eve. Sergeant Samira Ravenwood arrived with her team to join her husband. Sergeant Minor Longtail arrived with her family. Commander Schenkle arrived with his wife, Sara Schenkle, and a contingent of City Militia. Sir Hevain arrived, uninvited. Even Field Marshal Graf Von Wrangel attended along with a troop of Hammerfall Riders. Even my young sister arrived with House Harken soldiers.

It was a JOY to see her. She wept at seeing the old barony restored to its former glory. I admit that I spent much of the knight introducing her to my family. My heart soared.

The barony was filled with life and laughter.

Per custom, the night before his knighting, Alfred donned the white gambeson, and ventured to the Chapel of Light to pray in silence. The first sworn of the House, Major Hawksclaw attended him, while knights of the House Guard stood quiet vigil.

Red Wolf 32nd, 3127

I was so excited, I could not sleep a wink the night before. So, I was up with the earliest risers, beating even my wife, to her chagrin. I dressed in full House Kit, doffing my Rank and Cloak of the Rangers. As I stood before my mirror I was suddenly struck at how much I resembled my father on the morning of my own knighting. My heart clenched with an old ache. Sensing my distress, Lady Wolfhaven put and around around me and her head on my shoulder. Her quiet warmth soothed my spirit.

Though I doubt my father would have wished for life to turn out this way, I know my father would be proud. And pleased that his line had not faltered. We weathered the storm, and through the sacrifice and love of our allies, our friends, and in no small part the Alpha Team of old, we rose from our knees and fought our way back. For this, above all else, I will never forsake my old team. Though the names and faces change, the spirit of brotherhood and honor is as strong today as ever.

We ventured into the courtyard to be with Alfred when he emerged from his prayers. Hawksclaw escorted him, along with the House Guards to his chambers to be dressed. Nothing was said, as per custom, but I could see his fierce pride, despite the exhaustion.

Once the chapel was cleared, we began to arrange for the honored guests to arrive. Just before dawn, the chapel was full, and I took my place beside Thaleon, who had ventured all the way from Farwatch to officiate the benediction. And then, the drums rolled, the horns trumpeted and my son strode with confidence and pride into the chapel. He approached and then knelt, bowing his head.

Reciting the ancient words that have been spoken for centuries, “I promise on my faith that I will in the future be faithful to the lord, never cause him harm and will observe my homage to him completely against all persons in good faith and without deceit.”

And then, I drew my father’s sword and touched him one on each shoulder, and then upon the head. With that, my son joined the ancient and storied order of Wolfhaven Knights of the Blood. I then announced him, Sir Alfred Wolfhaven, Knight and Blood of House Wolfhaven.

He rose, his eyes shining. Mine as well. Did my father feel such emotion? Did he fight back tears? I believe he must have, though at the time, he looked as stone, large and strong as the mountains themselves.

Sir Alfred Wolfhaven left first, with his Sworn, Major Hawksclaw at his side. Then we followed, my sister, and others. Each by rank and order. Above and around us guards and rangers stood. High on the walls, and the roofs I could see the swatches of green. Each a silent sentinel. I hope they know what relief I feel knowing they were there. Alpha Team was never able to stop every threat. But, they never stopped fighting. Never quit. Never surrendered to despair, fear, or doubt.

Under their watchful eyes, we entered the Manor house and the great hall. As I stepped through the doorway, I glanced back and caught other eyes lifted skyward. Samira, Aradove, even Rah-Sahn. Did they feel the same mix of nostalgia and pride?

Though it was still early, food was brought, ale poured, and the celebrations began. Games were played, skill at arms tested, music, and mummers. The Great Lady of the House spared no expense. No man or woman felt unwanted, no desire was unmet. Olarans oft thought of as sullen, stoic, and unable to relax. But, when an occasion calls, we can celebrate like no other. And a knighting is one such occasion.

After dinner, I noted a somewhat inebriated Sir Wolfhaven stride over to challenge an equally inebriated Major Hawksclaw. Per tradition the old master tested his young charge. Rah-Sahn chose his old familiar dueling style, drawing an elegant elvish rapier from his swagger stick. My son hefted his familiar white silver boar spear. Despite their obvious impairment, the men squared off. To my surprise, Rah-Sahn struck first, landing a telling blow. Impressive. But, that seems to alter the nature of the combat.

This was no longer a test, but a true bout. And both men engaged in earnest. Battle lust washed away the ale in a rush and they both acquitted themselves with honor. Though, in the end, youth won out. With a final, savage blow, Alfred knocked Rah-Sahn on his arse, bofre himself sagging against the haft of his spear. Healers from Alpha Team, RFC Blackstone and Corporal Sssahliissstah rushed out to heal both men. Once recovered, then embraced and went off in search of more ale.

I confess, I did not last much longer before I was forced to retire. My wife joining me. I can only imagine what debauchery was had in my absence.

Though I was surprised to have a knock on my office door about an hour later. I was just sitting before a fire, letting my overlarge meal digest, when my guards announced Major Hawksclaw, Sergeant Minor Longtail, and the Explorer bade an audience. I confess I was intrigued, though I began to suspect their purpose.

Suffice to say, I believe the meeting to be fruitful, if impromptu. We spoke for a couple hours, before they, satisfied, retired. We were just leaving when there was another rap on my office door. This time the guard admitted my son and a beaming Eve. As I suspected, he had asked and she had granted her hand in marriage.

My mind already spinning from my conversation, the wine, and heady from the last few days, I was overwhelmed. Unbidden tears ran down my face as I embraced them both. All in attendance offered their congratulations. And then we all had a drink. Eventually, each departed to his, or her, own chamber.

Red Wolf 33rd, 3127

Whatever sleep I planned was now entirely out of my grasp. So, I sat to record my thoughts, and this report. Eventually two days of exhaustion and lack of sleep eventually took their toll and I doused the lamps. I did ensure to perform one duty before retiring. I signed the Explorer’s request for the handcaster and handed it to an aide to be expedited to Echer’Naught in the morning.

It is a new day, full of new beginnings. As I conclude this report, I must wonder, if I asked all of those who had sacrificed their lives to secure a happy future for those that followed, would they say it was worth the cost? I hope so. When I finally die, on whatever field, I would give my life a thousand times over to see the joy shared tonight spread to others.

Your most obedient servant,

Lord Mayor Wolfhaven, Colonel

Wofhaven Barony, Olara

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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

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