Rangers of the Greenway Road
Campaign Report 108
Dark Moons 32nd, 3126
I woke beside Ingrid. Can a heart love two women? Perhaps. As much as I wished to stay her, I could almost feel Kenzie needed my help. So, with the sincerest apologies, and serious regret, I took off in search of the wild woman. She was difficult to find, but it seemed she’d had quite the night. As much fun as it might have been, I cannot say I am sorry to have stayed in with Ingrid. I would not have missed it.
Kenzie wound up in Middle Town, in some Ranger’s flat. I knocked on the door, to be met by a man in his small clothes. Beyond, half dressed men and women lay everywhere. It would appear that these Rangers know how to party. Excellent. When I asked for Kenzie, the man shouted to the room if there was anyone named Kenzie within. He did not even know her name?!
Still, she appeared, looking confused and beautiful. Her joy at seeing me lifted my heart. So happy was she to leave, she almost forgot her kit. Once everything had been collected, I invited her to break fast with me.
We headed a few blocks over to Schenkle’s Bakery. I have heard good things. Apparently, the proprietor’s son, Eric Schenkle, is the commander of the Echer’Naught Militia and married to a former Ranger, Sarah. More to the point, anyone asked swears by the bakery’s sweet breads. So, we waited in line, and managed to get some hot, sticky buns.
After which, we sat on a wall and watched the busy traffic on Main Street, or the Greenway Road, as it is called. Echer’Naught is bustling with peoples from all over. Quite exciting. Not unexpected, about a quarter of everyone we saw wore some shade a green cloak. I suppose that makes sense. It is the Regional Headquarters.
While we sat, I asked how Kenzie was doing. She is not very forthcoming, but I learned that she felt she must leave her animals behind. As I feared. Seeing her sad cut me to the quick. So, I offered her my amulet. No doubt, I broke some ancient, sacred taboo of my people, but…I cannot watch a woman cry. She seemed pleased. Someday, she will have her own means of communicating with her horse Diego, and her bear, Volstagg. On that day, she may return the amulet to me. Twin feathers, one of my own, and one of my guardian eagle, Aetos.
Once finished with our sweets, I invited Kenzie back to my room at the Cloak and Pin. Some entrepreneurial soul had converted their home into a hostel for travelling Rangers. There were two such in the city, The Cloak and Pin, and the Sword and Bow. Both catered specifically to the Rangers and served as an overflow for the barracks. Only Rangers assigned to the city stayed there anymore.
When we arrived, we found Ingrid, looking lovely in the morning, sitting at breakfast in the main hall. She had a certain glow about her. Kenzie and I joined her, and we all had a warm meal together. Afterwards, the ladies decided to go shopping, so I joined them. Kenzie asked me to manage her funds, which I was more than happy to do. Together, arm in arm, we shopped till I nearly dropped.
I must say, while I am not much for the crowded streets and claustrophobic holes these Olarans call shops, I quite enjoyed helping the women into…and out of their various dresses. Ascended bless me.
Just about noon, we all joined up with the rest of Alpha Team at the Regional Headquarters. As usual, the Regional headquarters was bustling. Rangers training in the yard, the barracks a hive of activity. Overhead, banners and streamers flapped in the chill winds, and all in the mighty shadow of the beacon tower. Entering through the back, we found the HQ reasonably warm. Fires burned in hearths in every hall and room. Ranger guards stood at sharp attention near every door. Green, lush carpet, flowed from the back door up to the wide, ironwood double doors of the Colonels office.
The inestimable Colonel Anderson was on hand to provide a briefing. Also in the room, the Ranger’s Chief Investigator, Lt. Barand and his Adept. Col. Anderson allowed the Investigator Barand to open the discussion. Again, most of the technical information was beyond my understanding. However, I understood that the Tempest mercs were using some blend of alchemy, stormfire and magic uncommon to Shaintar. Though, the Ranger team had been unable to learn much in such a short time. All they seemed to grasp was that these mercs used this blended magic to coat the lead with gold.
Also, the operation was no more than six months old. Though well funded, based on the eclectic variety of equipment unearthed at the farmhouses, the Rangers doubted whether these mercs served Tempest directly. Even so, it was clear that someone was making good coin selling Tempest tattoos on the black market. Red Store? Perhaps. Or, perhaps Tempest had their own growing underworld empire. Whatever the case, magic tattoos would clearly be a new threat.
Then, they spoke of about Sir Halten, the Royal Sheriff. I gather he is the King’s Warden in this city? Fairly highly placed, and not too friendly with the Rangers. Corporal Sssahliissstah, Ranger Aronzo, and the Ranger team had managed to recover about 80% of the stolen gold. 20-15% were missing. However, it is unclear how much was lost during the alchemical “process.” Colonel Anderson assured the Rangers that he would mollify the Royal Sheriff. 80% was better than nothing?
With his briefing complete, Colonel Anderson dismissed Lt. Barand and his Adept. Once the room was clear, he informed Alpha Team that they would no longer be reporting directly to Sir Halten. It appears that the Royal Sheriff dislikes non-humans? The previous command element of the Alpha Team consisted of primarily humans, Olarans, and nobles. Now that we are led by Ogres and Dregordians, it seems the good sheriff wants nothing to do with us. Funny that.
Colonel Anderson also informed the team that someone named Gracelyn Moldova had given birth on the 29th, of Dark Moons, just a few days ago. He said that she was waiting on Grendel and Ranna at the Wolfhaven Manor. Only later did I learn that RFC Moldova was actually a surviving member of the previous incarnation of Alpha Team. She retired to begin her family. Her lover, as it were, was ALSO a previous member of the team, a Sergeant in fact; second in command. He had disappeared during a recent battle. Rumors say that he was seduced by Flame, though no one can say for sure. Grendel seemed overjoyed to hear of the birth. Audren Bartholemew Amaroth. Well, best wishes I suppose.
After delivering this news, the Colonel asked me to make a decision on the request he had made before. Would I join the Rangers. Since flying across this team, I had considered the question. I have never been much for following orders. I left the aeries mainly because I felt that hiding up on our perches till we were hunted to extinction to be sheer folly. I never joined any of the hunting wings because I couldn’t stand the preening peacocks all pecking for fame and glory.
But, after last night? And with the hope of many more…how could I say no? Despite my previous notions, the Rangers make some of the best fighters, and lovers, I have met. So, why the hell not.
With the Team chanting “One of Us,” I accepted the offer to join the Rangers, though I declined the horrid cloak. I mean, wings? Still, the pin looks nice pinned there on my chest. I’ll fetch some green cloth and make a nice sash.
Now a member of the team, I was permitted to learn of the new mission. We were to escort a high value noble, Lady Nexus Zathlan Volstagg, Sergeant in the Ranger Corps to the city of Almahrad. I learned that Sergeant Zathlan was a former member of this team, as was her husband, Captain Volstagg. He was already in Almahrad heading up the Ranger Outpost there. The lady, and her three children were to be our highest priority. The security on this mission was so high, we were not even told when we would be leaving. Only, soon, and as soon as the snows thawed.
Along with our team would be another group led by Sergeant Tina, a goat…are they kidding? The, um, goat’s team included two other members, Tiny and Max. Their mission was to recover a pair of mules…
Is this right? Mules?
Muriel and King?
Bizarre people, these Rangers.
We were sworn to the greatest secrecy about the upcoming mission. Apparently there was great fear that the “enemy” would make some attempt on the life of Lady Zathlan. Prior to this super secret mission, we were all being sent to training.
Apparently, Alpha Team of Echer’Naught’s Rangers are a cavalry unit. Everyone, aevakar included are required to be proficient horsemen. Of all the absurd things. See, this is why I’m not a joining. But, I am a man of my word. I like how they failed to mention the whole horse part until AFTER I accepted. But, oh well. I’ve had plenty of practice riding…
We were dismissed and told to return here in the morning to begin out training. With free time, I invited the ladies out to the Autumn Spring for a proper date. I hadn’t been to the Spring in…years. Just inside the Elven gate of Echer’Naught, the Spring is sung from five great Everwoods. At the base of the center tree pools a fresh spring. The water is purported to have great healing and magical qualities. There is a small library in one corner, and a soothing atmosphere.
Kenzie and Ingrid seemed to quite enjoy themselves. I more enjoyed watching their delight at the new experiences. Then we retired to my room, which would sadly be out last night together until we departed the city. I have become accustomed to their naked bodies snuggled with mine beneath my wings. If my choice to become a Ranger gets me killed, it will be worth it for this. All we managed was sleep, but that is fine.
Dark Moons 33rd, 3126
We all arrived at the rear quad of the Echer’Naught Regional Headquarters. The morning was brisk, our breath steamed in the air. Colonel Anderson personally came out to meet us. I gather Alpha Team are given certain perks. At any rate, he welcomed us, and introduced our training Sergeant, a taciturn dwarf named…whatever.
Once the Colonel left, the dwarf explained that, with all due respect to the Colonel, our training would not be easy, and that he expected nothing less than perfection. At this, my dearest Kenzie made an honest observation which irked the dwarf. He proceeded to make us all drop and give 20 pushups. And thus began our training. After that, we were ordered to run to the top of the beacon tower and back. Last man had to much latrines.
We took off running, actually running on foot. Kenzie and Ingrid making a good showing. Ranna and Corporal Sssahliissstah also keeping pace. After ten flights of stairs we emerged on top of the Beacon Tower. After all the years of winging through this region I cannot believe I never ventured to the top of the tower?! The view is stunning, even for an Aevakar. I wonder if I am allowed to jump from the tower?
I also noted the three groups patrolling the summit. Around the perimeter were Ranger scouts. Guarding every entrance and exit, dour Echer’Naught City Watch, in their gray and black tabards. And, around the great beacon itself, the massive iron pot piled high with logs, pitch and tar…gaudily dressed warriors more suited to a posh military parade that actual guard duty. Feathers, really? I learned later that these are members of the Lamplighters Association of Echer’Naught. Legend holds that the local order was founded by the original garrison of Echer’Naught when the city passed from a strictly military outpost, to a “civilian” administration. Despite their haughty air, and garish dress, the Lamplighters have been manning the tower for centuries.
Well, back down we went, and out of breath, arrived back at the Sergeant who was glowering as we came. Sadly for him, Corporal Grendel was the last to arrive. I hear he mucked latrines for days. After that, we were divided up. The Ogres were sent to the Church of Light infirmary to learn the basics of healing. The rest of us were sent to the Stockyards to learn how to ride a horse…
And so, our days went. Wake. Exercise. Train. Quick meals in between. At night, clean gear or stand watches. The worst part! Because I was not officially a Ranger, and not a guest, I was given quarters in the barracks. Kenzie and Ingrid were given lodging elsewhere. Cold, bitter nights indeed!
Still, we all made a good showing and after a couple weeks, even I could stay mounted without needing to use a flap here or there. Kenzie and Ingrid both enjoyed talking to the horses, though I gather neither were particularly good conversationalists.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, Corporal Sssahliissstah and Blackstone managed to acquire nice suits of armor. She dregordian scale from a local shop, Gorli Glamrinson Works. I have no idea where Blackstone got his dwarven plate.
Falling Ice 12th, 3127
Two weeks later, we graduated basic horsemanship training! Happy New Year! I was sore in places I never knew existed. In retrospect, I’m glad I was not sharing a bed with Kenzie and Ingrid. I don’t look so good bruised and battered. We celebrated as a group, but mostly we rested that eve.
Falling Ice 13th, 3127
In the morning, we were all summoned by the unit Adept, Lady Moonsilver. Though her touch was gentle, I sense that she is far more powerful that she may appear. Colonel Anderson was happy to report that the snows had thawed and the roads were now passable. Corporal Grendel was ordered to prepare for two weeks of travel, but to do so quietly. Again, secrecy was paramount. We were to gather again at the local HQ at 9PM the following day, the 14th. There we would gather our horses and leave under cover of night.
I volunteered to escort Kenzie to the Sacred Grove where Volstagg the Bear was being kept. When we arrived, we found her friend in mortal combat with another bear, this one we learned was named Kujo and companion to a Sergant Murvoth who was off fighting in the north with Colonel Wolfhaven. With my pendant nestled against her chest, Kenzie was able to speak with her friend. She explained he needed to stay while she went out on a mission. Then, she tried to make friends with Kujo, my brave but reckless girl.
Fortunately, Volstagg had better sense and she was saved from herself. With that, we worked to make preparations with the rest of the group. Honest, i was just happy to be on the road again and sharing a warm bedroll with two beauties.
Falling Ice 14th, 3127
Just before 9 in eve, we all arrived at the Local Ranger Headquarters. Understand, as Echer’Naught is a Regional Headquarters, there are two separate organizations operating out of the same city. Confusing? Yes, but necessary to handle the hundreds, or thousands, of green cloaked warriors swarming the city. Entering, I saw a plague which stated “Established 3122” and then a small list of names:
Captain Gerald Manning
Colonel Alexander Wolfhaven
Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw
Sergeant Evoran Que’kasaars
Sergeant Amelia Whitestone
Captain Gunther Volstagg
So, we stepped oddly quiet main street into a well cobbled alley between the Outpost and the building next door. A few steps down stood a pair of guards flanking a heavy door. Oddly, the door opened at our approach and we stepped into bustling common room. If I did not know already, I would have believed this to be some large in, except for the heavily armed Rangers everywhere. As we walked across the open floor toward an opposite door flanked by more guards, I saw to my right a long, open building. In the center, low stone fire pits, glowing warmly in the chill. Between them, long tables busy even this late. Balconies overhead thronged with Rangers talking, reading, laughing, training, smoking, drinking, or just…being. At the back of the room, far to my right, massive doors, barred now, but postern doors occasionally opened to admit a lone Ranger being chased indoors by the chill. Outside, I could smell fresh hay, mud and dung. A rear quartyard?
We were immediate permitted into the office, the door plague, wooden but gilded in silver lettering, stating this to be the office of Captain Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw. The same name on the plaque outside. As it happens, Captain Hawksclaw was not in the office this late, this eve. Instead, we were met by a kind faced lieutenant who introduced us to a beautiful elfin woman sitting in rich, thick furs. She smiled beatifically when we entered, and greeted Corporal Grendel and RFC Ranna. Old comrades greeting each other after an absence.
I’ll be plucked if there aren’t members of this team everywhere! With Lady Volstagg were two servants, each holding a child. Of the children, there were three. One larger, dark haired boy, and two newborns, twins. They took much after their mother. Corporal Grendel and Ranna bantered with Lady Volstagg, but the Lieutenant ushered us out quickly, time being of the essence. Outside, we met the other members of the team. And yes, they were goats. Tina, barded and wearing a custom green cloak and pin, Tiny, the size of a large pony, and Max, a normal goat with two lazy eyes who was actually in the process of eating some poor sods tack.
Tina snapped to a crisp goatlike salute and followed us out to the main road. There, we found an ornate black carriage pulled by four horses. Apparently the heavily armored carriage had been lent to the team by the self-same Sheriff Halten. He seemed to have a good report with Captain Volstagg, the lady’s husband.
Once Lady Volstagg was loaded and comfortable with her retinue, Corporal Grendel squeezed into the driver’s seat meant for two men, and RFC Ranna scaled the back, taking both footmen’s posts. the rest of us mounted up, Kenzie on Diego, her warhorse, and Blackstone on Tiny… Though, I heard a story that the Great Wolf once ALSO road Tiny, but this time triumphantly into Echer’Naught. Strange people these Rangers.
I, however, looked DASHING atop my black steed, with my wings fluttering in the wind. Cutting such a rakish figure, Aronzo offered me a sharp hat, to which I added one of my own feathers for the perfect air of unrestrained passion. Though I find the idea of riding horses ridiculous for my kind, we do look good doing so…
And so, by 30 past the hour we were moving. Guards at the gates opened without question and we departed the city of Echer’Naught. We pushed hard for a few hours, then camped by the road. OH it was GOOD to once again lie with the beautiful creatures of Kenzie and Ingrid.
Falling Ice 16th, 3127
We reached Erda’Meias by the 16th. The hunters of the community are well known, though they spend most of their time hunting creeping darkness, Red Store, and Maelstrom. I’ve known a few elves of this realm, but not many. Surprisingly, the Alpha Team was welcomed. Apparently, this was the team which helped bring the horror of Vainar’s Plague to an end. For that, they have earned the loyalty of most of the local elf families. An elves trust is hard to win, but once earned, it is a powerful bond.
While in cities and towns, we stay in hotels, the team split into two rooms, with the Ogres in the barns. I much prefer the open road camps. There, we are free to share our beds with whomever, and, not so crammed together, offer some semblance of privacy. Even IF our guard shifts were doubled for the sake of Lady Volstagg.