Session date

Rangers of the Greenway Road

Campaign Report 149

Starfall/Shaintar

Malcolm Report

 

Date Filed: White Stagg 11th, 3128

 

There is a saying attributed to the Elves, though, I have heard the Builders say as such: “The road to the Abyss is paved with the best of intentions.” How true that rings now. One would be hard pressed to find any of the Rangers, Olarans, dignitaries, or notable figures featured in the most recent tragedies that has done one iota less than their very best. And yet, despite the greatest energies being spent to “save the world,” all is ash and blood.

 

White Stagg 1st, 3128

 

Late in the evening, reports arrived at the Regional HQ that Sir Halten had summoned his “Ranger Team” to his Barony for some new mission. As the members of the team formerly known as Alpha are integral to the momentous events occurring daily, they are under near-constant surveillance. So, when they were summoned quickly after dinner to a private meeting, staffers at Headquarters took note.

 

Let the record stand that, shortly after leading the investigation into Sergeant Minor Longtail which culminated in her arrest by Sir Halten, team leader, Sergeant Sir Egon Mansfried fell “ill” and was removed to the sick rolls. He was escorted to the Echer’Naught Hospital and remained there, so we believe, for the remainder of the events. Though, his surveillance was not such that we are certain he remained bedridden. There are certainly those who suspect his sudden bout of “illness” was a ruse of some sort.

 

Nevertheless, RFC Gracelyn Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, assumed command and assembled the team as demanded. Again, we have no record of the exact nature of the meeting, though we know well the result. After a short briefing, the team kitted and marched to the old gaol in High Towne. There, they joined Halten’s men in securing the prison where Longtail had been detained. Or so we believed at the time. I can surmise, given Sir Halten’s disdain for the Sergeant Minor that his orders were to prevent her escape with lethal force if necessary.

 

It took some hours for the report to reach the main office, then some time longer for Colonel Anderson to be recalled from his home. The briefing was short and as bitter as one would expect. We had taken Wolfhaven from the Olarans, so now they had taken his Chief of Staff. With the enthusiastic assistance of the very “Ranger Team,” Colonel Anderson had been instructed to disband. I fear his failure to handle the situation, and the resulting crisis may very well have doomed his nascent stint as Regional Commander.

 

Nevertheless, upon learning of Longtail’s imprisonment, Colonel Anderson immediately departed to secure her release into Ranger custody. He met as much success as one might expect. After the Rangers “stole” Colonel Wolfhaven from the Olarans, they were not inclined to release another alleged criminal into Ranger custody only to see them removed from Olaran jurisdiction. Any goodwill appears to have evaporated in the increasingly tense political climate.

 

And so, Colonel Anderson returned empty-handed. He immediately reported to Kythros. Their response was predictably irate. For better or worse, Ranger reinforcements had already been dispatched and were, at that moment, riding north to provide Colonel Anderson the troops needed to regain control of the city. Though, having spent some time among the High Command, I sense that these reinforcements my be sent less to support, rather supplant Colonel Anderson. I sense the Colonel sees the writing on the wall as well.

 

His report done, Colonel Anderson ventured into Middletown to speak with the one man he hoped might sway the Olarans to relent, Captain Volstagg. Unfortunately, the Captain was not home. In fact, he was reported to have departed the city, though we had no record of his departure. Under normal circumstances, that would hardly be troubling, but given that Sir Volstagg and Dom Diego were under the same strict observance as Sir Halten’s Ranger Team, the fact that both men had fled the city without our awareness was…disturbing.

 

White Stagg 2nd, 3128

 

At the time, we had no way of knowing that Sir Volstagg, Dom Diego, and an elite group of Halten’s men had managed to smuggle the prisoner, Longtail, out of the city under the guise of some political cover. We only know they left sometime late in the afternoon on the 1st, and rode hard nearly day and night until they reached the city of Harken a little more than a day and a half later. We were also ignorant that Longtail had voluntarily gone with the Olarans, or that she had chosen trial by combat rather than subject herself to a lengthy investigation and trial.

 

No, at this time, the Rangers were entreating Sir Halten to release Longtail into Ranger custody and expand his investigation into her activities into a joint investigation. For his part, the Royal Warden coyly kept us busy until his prisoner was beyond our grasp and completely secured. Only then, did he drop the pretense and ride out of the city with a large retinue. Still, he left his Ranger Team guarding the prison to leave us in doubt as to his true intentions. In short, we were played.

 

White Stagg 4th, 3128

 

Word of Longtail’s capture had, by this point, become common knowledge. People reacted depending on their perception of Longtail, House Wolfhaven, and the Rangers at large. Suffice to say, the deep divisions rose quickly to the surface. We also noted that several of the Wolfhaven Free Rider camps around the city quickly reduced in number. Our reports indicated they rode quickly to Harken, where Longtail had been smuggled. We sincerely believe they were preparing some prison break which would not doubt start a war between the Rangers, House Wolfhaven, and the Olarans in some combination. Strangely, that never occurred. We do not know why.

 

Still, the tension in the city boiled over into violence. Several Rangers were attacked, and someone threw alchemical fire at House Wolfhaven’s Manor in the city. No one was injured and the damage was contained, but it marked the first violent attack on the House to date. Graffiti continues to spread wantonly in the city. Most seem to target one faction or another, but there are increasing siting of VelkalarLives, a particularly disturbing trend.

 

White Stagg 5th, 3128

 

Sir Halten and his retinue departed Echer’Naught heading east toward Harken. By now, the Rangers are nearly certain that Longtail is no longer in the city. Worse, reports of the Stone Tower Gather grow more urgent. To distract the assembled diplomats, and distract them from the violence in the city, the Lamplight Association begins planning a large invitational.

 

White Stagg 7th, 3128

 

Sir Halten arrives in Harken, riding straight to the Duchy. On the 7th, we also learn that both Commander Schenkle and his wife, Mistress Sara are both absent from the city. Rumors of an assault in Harken to rescue Longtail grows.

 

We know, now, from eyewitnesses that the Olarans wasted no time in sentencing Longtail. Shortly after Sir Halten arrived, she was taken before the Duchess to have her crimes read. She, apparently, requested trial by combat, which was readily accepted by the Olarans. Then, as is their custom, she was given time to repair. Late in the afternoon on the 7th, she presented herself once more before the court to face her challenger. I wonder if she knew who it would be?

 

Nevertheless, the state chose Sir Volstagg to execute combat on the Crown’s behalf. I would have thought Diego would leap at the chance to finish what he had started, perhaps having an Olaran stand for the crown made more political sense?

 

Ballads will no doubt be written about the titanic battle between the Crimson Knight and Longtail. I have no doubt they will speak of their honor, their bravery, and the skill of each as they battled alone across the cobblestone courtyard. And, I am equally certain that this contest will go down as one of the most well known and retold in memory. All I know is that one of the founding members of Echer’Naught died this day, at the hand of another member of her own team, Alpha. And that is a tragedy.

 

That is what I know. That on the eve of White Stagg 7th, 3128, in single combat against Captain Volstagg, Sergeant Minor Aradove Longtail, Sworn of House Wolfhaven perished.

 

After she fell, Sir Halten took possession of her body and, by all accounts, escorted it, day and night, until it was cremated in Echer’Naught under care of the Baroness Wolfhaven.

 

We knew something had occurred, though not quite what, when that evening, all of Halten’s Guards, including his Ranger Team, suddenly abandoned their post. We would not have confirmation for a couple of days, but I feared the worst. As did Colonel Anderson. Any hope of compromise, or salvaging relations was over. Worse, Grimbore and his Stone Tower Gather grew ever closer.

 

I fear the death of Aradove Longtail may be the catalyst that ultimately destroys the city, or at least, those of us within her walls.

 

It should be noted that reports indicate that Rez, the seer, and Vex, the pirate left immediately to drink. Charles, the camonere duelist, and Atlas, the ogre warrior headed to the Wayfarer’s Rest, one of the few local establishments still open to Halten’s men. Wilhelm, the dwarf healer, RFC Amaroth, and Taka, the korindian farspeaker, headed to speak with Major Hawksclaw. Who, presumably, had just been informed that his oldest friend was dead. I know nothing of the conversation, but my heart breaks for them all.

 

Ultimately, Wilhelm and Taka retired to eat at the Autumn Spring leaving the two former members of Alpha Team to drink and remember fondly their fallen. So much sadness and tragedy has befall the once storied team. How many times has Alpha Team been broken, beaten, and disavowed? And yet, how many times have they risen like the phoenix moth of their unit sigil to save the world again and again. There are precious few places left where a member of Wolfhaven’s finest have not shed blood. They are buried in decorous vaults and unmarked graves from here to Dregordia.

 

But, on the night of the 7th, they lay scattered and despairing. Ascended protect us if the line of Alphas ever fail. Ascended protect us all.

 

White Stagg 9th, 3128

 

In the evening of the 9th, guards at the eastern dwarven gate report the return of Sheriff Halten’s retinue, along with Sir Volstagg, Dom Diego, and the body of Sergeant Minor Longtail. Almost without notice, once again she slipped through the gate, this for the final time. They rode immediately to the Wolfhaven Manor where Baroness Wolfhaven awaited in colors of mourning to accept her fallen sworn on behalf of her house. All of her effects were turned over to House Wolfhaven with proper honors. That done, together, solemnly, Sir Halten escorted the body on its final trip to the Church of Light where it was prepared by Bishop Vallandrian for its final rites, before being burned.

 

Only then, did Sir Halten retire, presumably to sleep? Other than the Baroness, and Sir Halten, Brunhild “Skullcrusher” Hildebrandt, Sara and Commander Schenkle, Sergeant Major Stormhammer, and Captain Vasser all stood in attendance. Sergeant Gendarre, escorted the lady. I was not present, but, I have heard that it was a quiet, solemn affair. From the ashes, Stormhammer took her White Silver caps per her last request.

 

Upon his return, Sir Halten did call his Ranger Team to inform them of Longtail’s death and to confirm the circumstances surrounding her end. According to Sir Halten, Sergeant Minor Longtail was approached by Sir Volstagg and convinced to choose trial by combat rather than submit to a lengthy investigation. To protect those she loved, Longtail chose to face death in combat. That initiated the series of events where she was quietly smuggled out of the city, and Halten’s Ranger Team was posted a guard to throw off the trail. Per Sir Halten, she was treated with honor in Harken, before having her arms and armor returned to her. Sir Halten chose Sir Volstagg, also a member of Alpha Team, and then revealed to have been a Warden of Olara as well.

 

How long as Sir Volstagg served the Olaran crown over his oaths to the Rangers? We may never know. Nevertheless, he accepted the duty and executed Longtail before the Duchess of Harken, the Duke, Sir Halten, and Dom Diego. As part of the arrangement, Sir Halten ended his investigation into Longtail’s activities, thus protecting anyone she wished from Olaran scrutiny. Even in her death, she served.

 

Sir Volstagg also informed his Rangers that they were to attend a party hosted by the Lamplighters Association that night. It had been scheduled as an invitational and was the original cause for Sir Halten to cut short his stag hunting trip, prior to the unfortunate events.

 

Each Ranger was provided the means to procure suitable attire, per their station and nationality. From there, they were dismissed.

 

Just after dark, on the 9th, Halten’s Rangers arrived at his estate where carriages awaited. Sir Halten, in a fur-lined cloak, wore the crimson, black, and grey of a Royal Warden. Sir Volstagg, head and beard shaved, wore the very crimson Albrecht armor he wore during his duel with Longtail with an Almahradi sash, ranger cloak/pin with his Deputy Warden badge prominently displayed.

 

As for his Rangers,

 

  • RFC Gracelyn Moldova of House Amaroth, Sworn of House Wolfhaven, and acting commander wore the green, red, and grey of Echer’Naught, along with the Amaroth House crest, badge of the defunct Hounds of Amaroth, and Wolfhaven Dagger
  • Charlemaigne Pierre DeBugerane wore his Galean House colors, under Cavalier armor, and Ranger Cloak
  • Wilhelm Cragheart wore dwarven formal robes, with the sigil of Mindoth’s Tower, a Ranger Cloak, and his White Silver “Wolfman” pendant around his neck.
  • Enoc “Atlas” Blackheart wore traditional Ranger Formal, without individual trapping
  • Finnlea “Rez” Runesplitter wore the traditional Terresk (shaman) robes of her gather, Telok in the Wildlands along with her Ranger badge
  • Sylvia Harpy Vex wore the "traditional trappings and hat of a Pirate Captain of the Archipelegos, along with her Ranger badge.
  • Taka wore the green tunic denoting his membership in the Fists of Kor, along with his Ranger badge and focus crystal
  • Sergeant Sir Mansfried was, according to Sir Halten, still on the sick rolls.

 

From Sir Halten’s estate, the group took carriages across High Town to the Lamplighter’s Guildhouse. There, Atlas was unable to escape the small carriage without ripping the door off its hinges, a less than auspicious start to their introduction to high society. Upon entry, Sir Halten, Sir Volstagg, and Dom Diego head into the manor proper to speak with the various delegates. Meanwhile, Halten’s Rangers remained in the outer courtyard and attempted to avoid starting an international incident.

 

I was fortunate enough to attend the event, though I was not granted access to the inner sanctum. Brilliant light from a thousand lanterns, some oil, some wax, and some arcfire burned in the night. It was as if night turned to day.

 

While making my polite rounds, I witnessed Halten’s Rangers moving in something of a group, with young Taka occasionally breaking off to marvel at some art, or speak with an acquaintance. Shortly after the arrival of Sir Halten, Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw, First Sworn of House Wolfhaven arrived with his wife, Lady Eris Moonsilver. He was dressed in formal elvish attire, with his Ranger cloak and pin, walking with his trademark cane. His wife, Lady Moonsilver looked resplendent in her robes of the Wolfhaven white, red, and black. He eyes were wrapped, as always. Trailing behind the Farspeaker were six of her personal guards, masked adepts tasked with ensuring that her secrets are never taken by any foe.

 

It seemed that young Taka has something of a crush on the Farspeaker. They soon entered the inner sanctum. As they did so I noted that Hawksclaw took a moment to speak with Sara Schenkle, Longtails adoptive daughter. I can only imagine the pain they both must feel, and to be forced to parade before the city having just lost a sister and mother. Heartbreaking.

 

As the evening grew late, I noted across the courtyard that a man in RabenClau colors escorted Halten’s Rangers inside through a side door. It was done quietly, and with elegance, but was no doubt noted by many assembled. I suppose it should come as no surprise considering how closely allied Sir Halten has become with RabenClau. Though, Lord RabenClau rarely makes private audiences, let alone with low-level Rangers.

 

Obviously, I was not privy to the conversation, but I am privy to information that few in the city have access to, nor know how to interpret. Despite the tension with the Rangers at large, Lord RabenClau has been quietly securing trade contracts within Kythros, at far less of a margin than typical for his style of business. Furthermore, his acquisitions have increased rapidly, but he has, oddly, delayed on delivery of the most critical goods.

 

Could he be considering using his trade contracts as a cover to provide Halten’s Rangers access to Kythros? I have it on good authority that when the Ranger reinforcements arrive, and soon, that Colonel Anderson will have his answer regarding the reinstatement of Alpha Team, under any command. In short, without intervention, Halten’s Rangers will likely be disbanded permanently within a week. Lord RabenClau must know this, so why then, would he risk associating with them now? What has he to gain? Could he really support a plan to free Colonel Wolfhaven from Ranger custody?

 

Moreover, why would Sir Halten support such a plan? It is well known he bears no love for Colonel Wolfhaven. They have been political rivals for years. What might Lord RabenClau have to offer the Sheriff of Echer’Naught to betray his own conscience and support a plan to force his Ranger Team into Kythros all to what…liberate his most bitter political rival?

 

This is, of course, speculation, but I will not be surprised if Halten’s Rangers are headed south to Kythros in support of Lord RabenClau’s trade empire, under direct orders from Sir Halten. And what does Sir Volstagg seek to gain? His loyalties are now clear. The Rangers have all but disavowed him, Kythros and Wolfahven factions alike. How long has he secretly been working for Sir Halten as a deputy Warden?

 

Regardless, I never saw them leave. Ergo, they must have exited from a different doorway, thus evading prying eyes. And, shortly after, the party ended, the lamps were extinguished, and I retired back to the Regional Headquarters with a weary and preoccupied Colonel Anderson. I truly fear Colonel Anderson’s command is rapidly coming to a close. Or, at least his temporary Regional commander status. Too much has gone awry on his watch. That, and he seems incapable of outmaneuvering Sir Halten and his allies.

 

I wonder what orders our “reinforcements” bring?

 

White Stagg 10th, 3128

 

Late in the evening the following day, I was witness to Sergeant Minor Longtail, Sworn of House Wolfhaven’s Last Call. It was a somber affair, sadly lacking one distinguished attendee, Wolfhaven himself. In the absence of her husband, Baroness Wolfhaven, dressed in mourning, admirably conducted affairs. She seemed genuinely heartbroken of the death of one of her House’s most loyal retainers. Also not in attendance were Longtail’s youngest children who were, ironically, currently being sheltered in the house of the man who killed her, far away in Almahrad. Had she known her fate, would she have sent them there? And, sadly, neither was Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven, as he was still on an assignment far away. Has he even been informed? I suspect not. Does Wolfhaven know? Also doubtful.

 

Everyone else you would expect attended. Major Hawksclaw and his wife, Lady Samira Regillus, though not her husband. Commander and Sara Schenkle. Skullcrusher, and the orphans. Captain Vasser along with several of his men. Gendarre and his men. The new iteration of Alpha Team, though…to be honest, there were many hard stares in their direction. Many others, too many to name. All gathered in the grand hall of the Wolfhaven manor.

 

Baroness Wolfhaven spoke well of Longtail. Then, Hawkslcaw spoke for his sister. Sara for her mother. RFC Amaroth for her teammate.

 

Skullcrusher was the last to speak. She said only that she would care of the little ones. And that was it.

 

After speaking for the dead, Baroness Wolfhaven read the Last Will and Testament. See attached. A private note was also given to Hawksclaw. And, that was it.

 

All ate and spoke in hushed tones. I believe that many still suspected whether she was truly gone this time. But, one look in Sara Schenkle’s eyes disabused any further notion. I am hardly a man of action, but I have seen eyes like hers, and usually, death followed. Commander Schenkle, for his part, remained at her side, a valiant warrior.

 

While others spoke, ate, and reminisced, I took the opportunity to walk through the house, marveling at the history. Some craftsmen had somehow worked the charring and cloying smoke damage into the wood door frame leading to Wolfhaven’s Library where it had been burned during Flames attack years ago. A small plaque commemorated the sacrifice of the first scribe, Grizhnak Olgor, one of the first to give their lives for the cause. Within, I found a small tribute, portraits of Rangers past, a wall of honor. I saw familiar faces, Evoran, my mentor, and others. Thorgram. Audric. Aronzo. Serys. Danica. Grendel. Kura’Kai. Von Deidrich. Ranna. Rysak. Sssahliissstah. Looking back, I realized that whenever he sat at his desk, pouring over reports, or dispatching orders, the faces of every Ranger life given in service under his orders, his team, stared him in the face.

 

He never allowed himself to forget. Every day, he forced himself to look at them. The price paid for peace. And, now, Longtail’s portrait, a younger, more carefree face joined her brothers and sisters.

 

How many more? I fear the culling has just begun, and before it is over, I weep for us. I have dedicated my life to the Rangers, followed in Evoran’s footsteps, but as I looked into the eyes of every fallen Ranger on that wall, I was filled with a sense of dread, a gnawing fear that before long…we would have to choose. How many more placards am I willing to see hung on this wall before I can no longer in good conscience stand by. If we fall to internecine war, where do my loyalties lie? Or, should I simply walk away as so many have recently?

 

When I departed the Manor, I was shaken. For the first time in a long time, I wanted to speak to my old friend Evoran. But, I could not, for his face hung on that wall.

 

That night, I slept not a bit. It presaged what was to come.

 

White Stagg 11th, 3128

 

In the morning, I was awakened by the city’s warning bells. In my night attire, I scrambled up and quickly ascended the beacon tower. What I saw made my heart sink into my boots. Coming up the road from the south, 800 strong goblinesh warriors bearing the green cloaks and gray tunics of the Stone Tower Gather. Grimbore had arrived. Soldiers rushed to the south gate, and I could see Sir Halten riding hard in the direction. Though I could not overhear, as I was far above, I witness the gates open and a single rider exit, heading south to face the oncoming horde alone.

 

Major Rah-Sahn Hawksclaw.

 

Longtail is dead. How many are soon to follow.

 

Ascended help us. Please.

 

Malcolm

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