Falling Ice 27th, 3127
Well, I am now a Ranger. But, we’ll get to that…
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.
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