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Session date

Rangers of the Greenway Road

Campaign Report 150

Starfall/Shaintar

Malcolm Report

 

Date Filed: White Stagg 11th, 3128

 

The city is saved, for the moment. The goblinesh horde has been turned back, but at what cost. Major Hawksclaw was forced to fight one of his oldest friends for the sake of man he cannot help but disklike. Sir Halten managed to get his confrontation with the Mak Torkash Grimbore, but rather than eliminating the Stone Tower Gather as a potential threat, they are now more dangerous than ever…and likely allied with the already renegade Wolfhaven Free Riders camped all around the city. And now, Commander Schenkle and the City Watch have defied direct orders from Sir Halten, the King’s own voice in the city. Though arguably, the orders may have stretched the Royal Sheriff’s authority somewhat, the fact remains that now two military forces within the city are bitter rivals.

 

With each new conflict old alliances are shattered, and new forged. Former blood foes now stand together as once bosom friends try to kill each other. All in the name of justice, peace, and serving the city.

 

The path to the Abyss is truly paved with the best of intentions.

 

White Stagg 11th, 3128

 

In the pre-dawn chill, Major Rah-Sahn Hawkslcaw rode forth alone from the southern gate along the Farwatch Military Road to meet the head of the Stone Tower Gather’s column. There, just south of the city, the Ranger Commander met with the Mak Torkash of the Gather, Grimbore.

 

Six years ago, Major Hawksclaw as a fresh-faced recruit, first arriving at his Ranger post in the city. Grimbore had lived in Echer’Naught for several years, serving as security for a local merchant’s warehouse. He, the merchant, disappeared at some point during the War of Flame. No records tell of his fate. But, his warehouse was foreclosed due to lack of payment. True to his form, Grimbore continued to protect the now-abandoned warehouse. He was still there when Captain Manning first rented the warehouse from the city.

 

In a strange twist, Grimbore refused to abandon his post, demanding only the pittance he had originally been paid by the merchant. To that, he had one day off every couple of weeks, and a free place to sleep in the warehouse. In turn, he provided near round the clock security for the newly founded Ranger HQ.

 

It seemed a fair deal for all concerned, and so the friendship between Rah-Sahn and was born They served together until Major Hawksclaw as captured by Velkalar and later, Grimbore was accused of murdering three men and smuggled out of the city after faking his death. Still, with Colonel Wolfhaven imprisoned, Sergeant Minor Longtail dead, and Gate Highwall long since retired, only they two remained of the first iteration of Alpha Team, the city’s founding Rangers.

 

And as I stood atop the Beacon Tower, I watched Major Hawksclaw vainly attempt to dissuade Grimbore from seeking vengeance for the death of this beloved “pretty kitty,” Longtail. The last time Longtail was in danger, Grimbore is purported to have murdered three men. The time before that, he charged an enemy army, heedless that it would likely cost the lives of everyone within the keep he was trying to defend. And, even at that, it seemed that Hawksclaw’s words of caution might have swayed the ogre. That is until the gate swung open again the Grimbores nemesis, Sir Halten emerged. The same man who imprisoned and tried to execute Grimbore. The same man who imprisoned and succeeded in executing Longtail. The man at the very center of Grimbore’s rage rode blatantly from the city gates with his entourage and his Ranger Team, formerly Alpha, openly challenging Grimbore.

 

Halten’s affront was too much for Grimbore who slapped Hawksclaw from his saddle, before ordering his gather to prepare for war. In one motion, repeated across the lines, the goblinesh removed the green cloaks each wore in solidarity with their Ranger allies before tossing them away. It was a powerful declaration that the solidarity the Stone Tower Gather felt for their Ranger allies was over. The moment the Rangers allowed Longtail to be slain by the Olarans, Grimbore and his Gather could no longer support their former friends.

 

Beside Grimbore, a young orc raised an animal horn to his lips and blew, signaling the attack. As one, the line of goblinesh, 800 strong, surged toward the walls of Echer’Naught. All along the walls, archers and crossbowmen knelt in position behind the parapets, while combat engineers ratcheted large ballistae into position. It appeared that the goblinesh would be cut down before ever reaching the walls. Only, behind the approaching lines of warriors, a thick fog bank sprang from the ground and rushed forward, quickly overtaking the charging goblinesh. Suddenly it was upon them, swallowing them from the rear ranks to the front until only Grimbore remained, and then he too was gone. The defenders had only moments to understand the danger, to launch their attack, but grasped a heartbeat too late. Arrows, bolts, and quarrels fired into the fog vanished with nary a sound. And then, all was quiet as the fog bank washed silently against the stone walls of the city, blanketing everything outside in a thick, gray haze.

 

Sir Halten and his forces scrambled back through the still open gate, slamming it shut behind them just as the fog reached the walls. The defenders on the walls vainly scanned the sea of gray below them for some sign of movement, some target to shoot. But, nothing. There was no sound, save for their own nervous shifting. And then, six objects exploded from the fog, soaring high into the air before crashing down on the waiting ballista. The encircled stones truck like a thunderclap, exploding with magical impetus, hurling the engineers and their death machines off the walls like toys.

 

This assault was followed by a sudden proliferation of vines that appeared as if from nowhere, climbing up out of the fog to completely overtake the walls and their defenders. A few of the less agile defenders were caught, trapped by the vines, but most simply stepped back, stunned, out of the way as the green wave snaked through the stones around them. If this were an attack, it was an unusual one…or at least it appeared at first. Moments later, goblinesh came pouring over the walls, climbing the vines like squirrels up a tree. The bowmen were caught off guard, and many fell before raising their weapons.

 

At the same moment, a thunderous boom echoed across the city, followed by a second louder. Sir Halten ordered his men to form ranks before the south gate as it was battered off its hinges, exploding inward and crushing several defenders. Behemoth ogres in full plate, tossed shields the size of walls aside before drawing two-handed ogre siege mauls and crushing swathes of Halten’s defenders.

 

Almost as quickly as it began, the goblinesh were fighting for control of the wall and very nearly breached the city. It was an impressive attack, despite the needless loss of life on either side. From the north, a column of Hammerfall Riders, in the midst of early training, turned south and charged straight through High Towne, bearing for the South Gate. I watched as the City Militia, or at least those who happened to be training that day formed up just inside the gate and to the west. They packed tightly into a shield wall, but held back, not immediately engaging the breaching ogres, leaving the defense, at least initially, to Halten’s men.

 

I learned only later that before the attack ever began, Sir Halten demanded that Commander Schenkle order his men to take the field south of the gate along with Halten’s men and Rangers. The young Commander refused, stating that he and his men would defend the city if the walls were breached, but they would not take the open field to die for Sir Halten’s wounded pride. I understand the Royal Sheriff did not take the refusal well. I fear there will be a reprisal. Still, the Militia has not been called up, so they were not even technically required to fight, other than their sense of Olaran duty.

 

The battle, if it could be called such, concentrated solely on control of the southernmost gate. Any civilians had long since fled the area, leaving their shops and homes behind. Halten’s Rangers stood in the now open gate, holding the line against a tide of behemoth ogres, with Sir Halten’s men just behind, the second line of defense. To their right, east, the Milia had formed ranks, a shield wall protecting a rank of crossbowmen. From the north, a column of Hammerfall Riders bore down. And everywhere, Stone Tower goblinesh poured over the walls.

 

Eventually, Halten’s Rangers gave way under the onslaught, with the goblinesh pouring in, crashing over Halten’s men like a wave. With them, the fog spilled into the city. Just then, the column of Hammerfall’s struck, throwing the enemy back and giving the defenders room to regroup. Halten, having prepared for a potential breach, ordered his men to fall back to the inner wall.

 

Of the four main gates to the city, only the Southern Gate is immediately reinforced by the inner walls of High Towne. Here, and only here the secondary gate towers can provide immediate artillery support of the outer gates if breached.

 

We presume Sir Halten’s plan was to lure the goblinesh into a headlong rush straight into the teeth of the secondary defenders while reinforcements from within the city flanked and eventually encircled their exposed position there between the walls just inside the south gate. Unfortunately, the plan never fully materialized as the goblinesh leader, Grimbore rushed Halten before he would fully withdraw his lines, and an unexpected series of sabotages throughout the city delayed reinforcements, drew defenders away from the breach, and blocked vital routes through the city.

 

From my vantage atop the Beacon Tower, I saw them, dozens of fires, explosions, and attacks occurred nearly simultaneously throughout the city. Cloaked and masked figures even managed a sortie into High Towne from the eastern gate, ransacking and launching attacks against several of the Manor houses including House Wolfhaven, House Halten, House Harken, and even House RabenClau. The Ranger keep was not directly attacked, thought that might have been more due to their extensive defenses than design. We will likely never know fully.

 

Even as the traitors within the city hamstrung the defense, Grimbore rushed through the smoke and fog to carry Sir Halten off into the warren of buildings inside the city. His Rangers and personal guard lost sight of him, and with the Goblinesh pouring through the gates were forced to follow his last order to fall back to the inner wall. Commander Schenkle’s men formed a wall between the invading warband and the citizens of middle and low town, fighting a retreating battle that was quickly swallowed by the encroaching fog.

 

Still, the goblinesh pushed no further into the city than the area immediately between the main southern gate and High Towne’s gate. they seemed to form a cordon around the area, then stopped to secure and hold that small part of the city. Had the city’s defenders not been scattered putting out fires, and reeling from small skirmishes throughout the city, they might have easily flanked and routed the goblinesh. Add to the confusion, Sir Halten, the overall battlefield commander, was missing, leaving the defenders on the back foot, choosing instead to hold ground, rather than go on the offensive.

 

It was, by all accounts, an unusual skirmish. Neither side seemed to want a battle, so they remained content to hold what they had until something changed. That change came when Major Hawksclaw, rendered unconscious by Grimbore’s initial surprise attack, awoke on the field, deep in the fog. I know now from reports that his wife, the Farspeaker Eris Moonsilver, woke him from his fugue state and guided him back into the city. He was unmolested by the goblinesh either because they did not see him, or they were under orders not to harm him.

 

Either way, Major Hawksclaw found Sir Halten in the final moments of a mortal battle against the Mak Torkash Grimbore. Both warriors were badly wounded, staggering from blood loss. Sir Halten’s armor was rent, and his sword shattered just a few inches shy of the hilt. Grimbore’s left arm was nearly severed at the shoulder, dangling by tendons. His right leg was shattered, and he was nearly blind from the blood. Yet, he managed to raise his arm for the killing blow to finish Sir Halten, who was beaten on the ground before him.

 

I do not know the particulars. Only, both Grimbore and Halten struck a fatal blow on the other. Grimbore was rescued by the intervention of someone, who whisked him away, via magic, at the same time that explosions rocked the goblinesh held city. After this, there was utter silence. Major Hawksclaw, finding Sir Halten slipping into death, used his immense power of Life, and his connection with Landra to hold Sir Halten’s body together long enough to call his spirit back to him. Despite the years of animosity, the death of Longtail, and their allegiance to different factions within the current struggle, Hawksclaw chose to save the life of Sir Halten.

 

Almost immediately after the explosions in the occupied gate, the unnatural fog began to immediately dissipate. When sight was restored, all of the goblinesh, their wounded and dead, were simply gone leaving destruction in their wake. Where they went, we are not entirely certain.

 

Of note, however, when our skirmishers entered the previously held area, they discovered dozens of Olarans, City Guard, Rangers, and allies captured or incapacitated, yet still alive. Over and over survivors described how the goblinesh went out of their way to spare lives, seeming intent only on their mission. They did not appear to seek harm to the people of the city. Rather, we presume their mission was to trap and eventually kill Sir Halten. In that endeavor they failed, thanks to Major Hawksclaw. Then again, so too did Sir Halten fail to diminish their numbers, or eliminate them as a threat to the city.

 

Save for a few dozen dead from both sides, and the destruction of property, the battle achieved very little more than further illustrate the deep-seated resentment and divide within the city.

 

Less than two hours after it had begun, the battle was over. Sir Halten was escorted to the Harken Manor where he, presumably, reported to the Duchess’ representative. Colonel Anderson, for his part, seemed far more concerned about the sudden wellspring of sabotage and rebellion within the city. Rangers were called up from leave and the city was locked down as the culprits were hunted. I understand that Commander Schenkle, severely wounded from the fighting rode in search of Sir Halten. I can only assume a new blood feud has been born.

 

As for Halten’s Rangers, they acquitted themselves with honor, holding the gate until given orders to withdraw. That action along with the almost instantaneous rumors and reports of Sir Halten’s brave defense of the city seems to have increased their stock, at least among the citizenry. And, Major Hawksclaw’s mercy toward Sir Halten seems to have severed his ties to the more militant factions within the “Wolfhaven Loyalists.” Then again, the three-man alliance among Hawksclaw, Schenkle, and Vasser also may have ended due to the feud between Schenkle and Halten. And, Hawksclaw saving the Royal Sheriff’s life.

 

Are we seeing a shift in power? Will Major Hawksclaw recant his loyalties and side with RabenClau’s Faction along with his former Team? Or will he throw away the goodwill he garnered with the Royal Sheriff and try to repair the burned bridges with the Wolfhaven Free Riders loyal to Wolfhaven?

 

Worse, this most recent attack further spooked the delegates from the West. Several have already declared their lack of faith in the city’s ability to provide security. Many are preparing to leave, despite the assurances of Sir Vosltagg and Dom Diego. If they are not appeased, the entire Conference may end before it has even begun.

 

There is, of course, the growing belief that it was the Wolfhaven Free Riders loyal to Wolfhaven that intervened in the goblienesh attack on the city, magically teleporting them away. If that is true, and if those two forces are now allied, they pose a direct threat to the city, regardless of faction.

 

Malcolm

 

Post Script

 

We learned shortly before filing this report that Longtail’s three kits, wardens of House Volstagg, escaped their compound in Almahrad on White Stagg 8th, by first drugging the twins, Serys Roman Volkstagg and Wynter Night Volkstagg, and then escaping, having to knock down young Gunther Volstagg. Their whereabouts are currently unknown.

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