Lord Mayor, Colonel Baron Wolfhaven, Alexander
Commander of the Legio Heroes
Temporary Regional Command at Echer’Naught, Olara
Filed: White Stagg 1st, 3127
Bittersweet. There is no other word. We held the line against the Builders coming to destroy our home. We defeated the monsters in the darkness. Even our fallen comrades came to join us in our final hour. And yet, our victory was not without cost. Much of High Towne suffered severe damage, and the mines beneath present a constant threat of further collapse. Worse, the mines are still teeming with creatures beyond horror. But worst of all, due to my blind willingness to aide an ally, Eris Moonsilver was taken captive by a demon bent on revenge against a guest of House Wolfhaven.
Thunder Hawk 16th, 3127
Weeks before we even knew of the attack on Echer’Naught, I received a personal request from Major Hawksclaw to join him on an outing. For two years, Hawksclaw suffered at the hands of Velkalar while his Alpha Team battled on, under the command of Sergeant Evoran Que’kasaars. I too was gone, beyond this life, after being struck down by darkness, but for less than a year.
Hawksclaw rotted in a hole while his friends died. By the time we found and rescued him, nearly everyone he knew was dead or gone. And no matter how many reports he read, there was always a question, a hole in his heart where Evoran had been. I have the same wound, many times over.
So, at my friend’s request, I cleared a few days off my schedule, much to my staff’s dismay, and I rode out at dawn, passing through North Gate as it opened. Idly I wondered if any of the guards, City or Ranger, saw me through my rather thin disguise. Though, I find that outside of my armor, and without my retinue, I am seldom recognized. People see the power and position, rarely the man.
Stopping on the rise just north of the city, I paused in the morning mist to watched the flow of traffic into the city while waiting for Hawksclaw. I did not have long to wait. He rode out, similarly disguised, a short time later and joined me.
Still within sight of the walls, we kept quite, riding in mostly silence. In an emergency, I could have reached Evoran’s Sacred Grove within the day. But, we were in no hurry. And so, we made our way slowly along the North Barony Road. At night, we pulled off the road and made camp. Just we two.
Memories flooded back. Missions, patrols, drinks at the HQ. For a bit, it was like old time.
Thunder Hawk 17th, 3127
We rose before dawn, cleared our camp, and left barely a trace. Rain pattered down. It was damp and gray. Perfect.
Now clear of the public road, Hawksclaw and I were free to talk, though it was mostly just banter. At some point, he decided to challenge me to a race. It was a friendly competition, and I quite enjoyed the exercise. Thunder won, but it was hardly a fair contest. Hawksclaw rode an elvish pony, and I a Harken Masterbreed Warhorse.
I cannot recall the last time I have simply rode for the joy of riding. That thought makes me sad.
By dusk, we arrived at the east ridge overlooking the grove’s valley. I’ve been there before, but I was not at the battle. I had to rely on the Rangers still living a the time to tell me what happened.
The Ranger’s original Olaran allies died there, below the ridge. RFC Benjamin Toma died alone, laid out below the far rock ridge. Hundreds of men and women spilled their life’s blood across the field before the battle was ended by Evoran’s ultimate sacrifice. So much loss for an empty field of flowers. It’s always that way.
In the center of the field, half way between the ridge and the rocks, Evoran’s Sacred Grove. We camped the night there, overlooking the grove. The mood was solemn. Little was said. Hawksclaw seemed deep in thought. I certainly was.
Thunder Hawk 18th, 3127
In the morning, we ventured into the valley on foot. By the time we reached the trees, an Eldakar druid stood waiting. He ignored me, instead bowing to Hawksclaw, welcoming a fellow follower of Landra. Only the, after Hawksclaw vouched for me, did the elf acknowledge my presence, if barely.
It was rather refreshing, actually.
Entering the grove was…unique. Not like Echer’Naught’s Sacred Grove. But, beautiful. In a bit less than a year, the druids had grown hundreds of massive 200+ foot tall Everwood trees from the burned sapling of Evoran’s tree.
And then, we were there. In the center of the grove, the largest tree. An everwood 300+ feet tall, wrapped in massive rose vine. The thorns alone are 3 feet long and sharp enough to carve Olaran plate.
I waited as Hawksclaw approached the tree. From my distance, I could not hear what he said to Evoran, but the trees rustled, almost as if whispering, and then an acorn the size of a man’s head nearly caved in Hawksclaw’s head as it fell. I did hear a bit of Hawksclaw’s snap at Evoran’s tree, but I’ll refrain from recording here. I could tell the Druids were getting edgy. I take it they don’t get much company, so I stepped up to say my piece.
Sergeant Que’kasaars gave his life to save his team, and hundreds of women and men. There is no greater sacrifice. I have long felt he deserved recognition for his act of bravery. Though his own pin was immolated in his death, I had the Ranger smiths forge a Range Cloak clasp that would stand the test of time. Placing it against the rough bark, I offered silent thanks to a fallen friend, and hero. I felt power flow through hand, warming my palm. When I withdrew my hand, the metal was seared into the bark, a permanent reminder of Evoran’s service. One a member of Alpha Team, always a member.
Our mission accomplished, Hawksclaw and I headed back to our camp, packed, and rode away. The vacation had been pleasant, but duty called. We made good time headed back. By the time we stopped on the 18th, we were almost in sight of the walls.
Thunder Hawk 19th, 3127
At mid-day, Major Hawksclaw and I arrived at Echer’Naught. We made it almost to Center Pointe before we were spotted by an panicked adjutant who “flustered” over. Until that moment, I was not aware that word was a verb. Our cover blown, we shook hands and parted ways. He south to the City HQ, and I north to the Regional.
Raining Leaves 12th, 3127
A man came to me from the west. We have mutual acquaintances. Ma’avi Fr’eki requested to enter my House’s service. There was a small catch. While serving behind lines in the Empire, Fr’eki crossed swords with a demon. Numerous times, I believe. During the last encounter, instead of killing, or being killed, by the demon, he arranged to meet the demon in a year. And, it appeared that the appointed day would be Raining Leaves 18th, 3127. Though I disagreed with making a deal with the demon, I have sworn to protect Light and Life. And so, I invited Fr’eki into my House as a guard. Watch was posted about the city for the demon. Preparations were made to confine and defeat the demon when it appeared.
In the meantime, Ma’avi agreed to remain within the protected grounds of the Wolfhaven Manor. We could not allow his confrontation with the demon to cost collateral casualties. I never imagined how poorly my good intentions would go.
Raining Leaves 18th, 3127
We suspect the Revenge demon arrived in the city, on the 18th, or somewhat before. We HOPED to lure it into the open where he could be isolated. I did not trust it, regardless of its “assurances” to Ma’avi. But, it was clever, too clever. My watchers never spied it, and we could not initiate a more thorough search without tipping our hands, and potentially endangering others. In hindsight, we should have expected something. In this, I failed. And Eris, Samira and their families paid the price.
Harvest Moons 16th, 3127
On the 16th, I invited the Alpha Team, family, and friends to a Harvest meal at the Manor House. My wife was in her element, checking and rechecking preparations. I’ve said it before, but she commands our domestic staff better than any field commander in the heat of battle. She is a marvel. Mostly, I tried to stay our of her way, and work through the daily mounds of paperwork.
That eve we were joined by every active duty member of Alpha Team, and their spouses, most former members who were nearby, and their spouses, and friends of the team over the years. Commander Schenkle attended with Sara on his arm. Sergeant Ravenwood-Regillus attended with Sir Regillus. Lieutenant Alfred Wolfhaven joined us with is fiance, Evelyn Afliem. It was the first time really seeing her as her work is now mostly at the Legion Keep. Others attended, too many to name. But, the house was filled with laughter and light.
Before the meal, I had a surprise announcement. Neither Alfred nor his bride are interested in fame or the glare of public life. So, they chose to affirm their union in private, without great fanfare, at a private dinner with those they love and respect. To no one’s surprise, apparantly, I announced their wedding. The simple ceremony was conducted their in the feast hall, officiated by an elven druid I have never met, but known to Eve. With a few words, their hands were bound in the elvish way.
When the silken rope, wound their wrists, I felt a pulse of power that made my head dizzy. Their aura’s flared, glowed, and then merged. I am no expert at such things, but I believe they Life Bonded in that moment. Alfred never spoke to me of this, but he is his own man. He understands the risks. So often, we are caught between our personal love and our duty. Should Hawksclaw have bound to Eris? His absence nearly destroyed her. And yet, who am I to deny my Rangers a life? Do I have that authority?
After the wedding, we feasted and toasted the new couple. Evelyn was radiant. Alfred seemed happier than I have seen him in…years. I wished them all the happiness they could find, knowing all too well how fleeting such moments may be. And then, the crowds went home and I remained to drink quietly with my son. I was struck by a pang of regret that m
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