Ghost Wolves

Prologue:
the beginning...
It's been three months since the Battle of Morn's Gates, when the Mornish defenders and the soldiers of Harn's Horde retreated behind the walls of Morn. Sine then, the Siege of Morn has dragged on, no side gaining the advantage. At least there's no marching to be done. The trip from New Lyre was a slog through spring's rain and mud and misery.

New Lyre, now there was an easy conquest. The Legions took the city by surprise, it’s defenders barely had time to put up a fight. If only they were all that easy. Now, a year later, the Legions have consolidated their control of everything south of the Orsh River, as far east as Lake Orshan, up to the walls of Morn. Even Meech, at the confluence of the Highwater and the Orsh, was under the thumb of the Imperium.

The 7th and 12th Legions had left the siege to the 4th, marching off to confront another group of Azerk Harn’s troops, said to be mustering to the south of Argent Falls. The elite 4th Legion, Rackam’s Raiders, can handle the siege by themselves, it was believed. High Marshal Karalt and the rest of the 5th Army Command had faith in Stallari Auralius Rackam and his Legion.

The camp fires of the 4th Legion shone like fireflies on a summer night against the dark hills surrounding Morn. Huddled around their fires, the soldiers of the 9th Company, the Ghost Wolves, complained as only veteran soldiers could. When was the siege gonna end, eh? Why did the the 4th get stuck holding the siege? Shouldn’t they be at the vanguard of the army, striking into the heart of Aerne? Who made this sodding slop they’re mucking out of the mess tent?

Arranged by squads through out the camps, the chain of command wasn’t nearly as fast as word of mouth. So it was that before the official runner from the messenger corps could find them, the soldiers of the 9th squad had already heard of the Stallari’s plans to make a speech that night, to the whole damned legion. Mawks, a soldier from 2nd Company, had walked by their tents, saluted them with his pewter cup, full of something illicit (both he and his cup, that is), and shouted.

“Hey wolfies! Ya hear that Rackam hisself is gonna be hav’n a word with us all? One hour, command tent, see ya there. Ta!”

Looking at each other, the soldiers of the 9th squad shared an unspoken thought. Maybe something was about to go down. Maybe there would finally be some action.

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Eight Months Earlier....
pre-prelude, part one.
...Cpl. Sparrow, along with the mage, Pinch and the new local scout, Bran Harvish, are dispatched to the backwater town of Jent. Word had reached the Imperial Command at New Lyre that a plague had sprung up in the lumber and mining town to the east, and they dispatched this small squad to investigate. Assigned mounts and enough provisions to reach Jent, the soldiers set out on the seven day journey across the plains.

During the second night Pinch was bitten by a large, venomous snake that had sneaked up on the small gnome while she stood watch. Awoken by her cry of pain, the others jumped into the fray and quickly killed the plains adder.

Upon reaching the town of Jent, they soon noticed a large line out front of the local apothecary’s shop. Deciding they didn’t care to wait in line, they instead secured lodging and stables for their mounts. Once this was accomplished, they set to questioning the locals about the sickness. After talking to the innkeep, the local cleric of Iomedae and the sheriff, they soon decided to return to talk to Laurel, the herbalist.

At Laurel’s shop, Roots and Remedies, they confirmed the sickness was being caused by a nasty fungus, called Blackscour, in the town’s water supply. Once they offered to help, Laurel told them of a possible cure contained in her grandmother’s notes. She asked the squad to venture into the woods and hills to the north and seek out the rare ingredients. Laurel asked Pinch to stay behind and assist with brewing other remedies. The soldiers agreed and the next day traveled to the lumber camp to ask an expert woodsman where the ingredients might be found. Once he marked some locations on their map, they set off for the forest.

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Sergeant's Debrief
Desario's observations and comments
Reporting back from the mission, key observations and evaluations.

Objective: *Find the Ministry of Security and neutralize him. Gather as much useful information from the Minister as possible. *

Our group was given a VIP by the name of Krennit with valuable knowledge of the whereabouts of the Minister. Krennit gave us detailed accounts of Morn and Ministry of Securities where the Minister should be. I don’t trust him and make sure Bran keeps an eye on him.

Mission begins 1300 hours.

Bran and Zadok make great work of their stealthing techniques to quickly and quietly infiltrate the city. We had no incident getting to the Ministry of Security.

Ministry was set up for siege warfare with various guards and barricades. Originally tried a plan involving distraction but that quickly fell through. Ben and Gavald took the high ground for ranged fire while the rest of the team destroyed said barricade and began to neutralize guards.

Note: Ben and Gavald’s covering fire was not that effective. Suggesting both of them complete extensive training in the archery field.

One guard was left alive to reveal interior layout of the compound. With his intel we find there are nearly twenty other guards inside the Ministry with orders to kill on contact. Guard is then bound and gagged. Still alive.

Outside Ben arranges siege barricade to look normal along with neutralized guards held up by Lance’s. Quality work given the time he had.

Once more Bran and Zadok lead the group through the building. At the stairs more resistance was met. We created a bottleneck at the bottom of the stairs and led the opposition into the killzone to make short work of them.

Note: Commend Bran for his clever use of a Grease spell, made the fight much easier.

Stealth at this time proved redundant, Kilja and Zadok created a meat wall and we made our way to the Minister’s office at the top of the stairs. We met more resistance that was easily neutralized.

Inside the Minister begged for his life. I enjoyed toying with him for a bit. He offered a map to the Well of Stars for his life. He showed us the map and Bran said that this might actually be legitimate. It will be documented for further analysis.

Minister was then neutralized with extreme prejudice. Hu-ah.

Note: Commend Ben, despite his honor rantings he followed orders well. He even wanted to teach Krennit a lesson in honor, but didn’t at my request. Either he is learning or I am more intimidating than I realized.

Group then searches for any and all information that will be helpful for the Wolves. We even are able to mend some of the documents that the Minister had tried to burn away. Overall we come up with numerous documents that will prove beneficial.

Krennit does not join us on our return, but flees into the city.

Upon return route we see 8 of Harn’s Horde in a market square. We volleyed arrows at them but their ranged tactics proved much more useful than our own. After barking at the troops to march forward and engage the enemy in melee we were finally able to neutralize the Harn Members.

Regret to inform Gavald fell during this battle. He was a good soldier and loyal to the wolves. His body will be returned to his family for proper burial.

Note: Gavald will no longer need to report for archery training.

Note: Commend Sparrow for her bravery in battle. She seems to have a bloodlust when it comes to war. I would loathe to see the day when I am on the wrong side of her flying axe..

Safely made it back to the breached wall of Morn without further incident.

Full Report from Sergeant Desario Tomarson.

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Sergeant's Debrief 2
Sergeant Desario’s Notes and Observations:

Mission objective: Get to Meech and regroup with 12th legion.

At breached wall in Morn opposition forces became overwhelming. The 9th Company fell being led by the Old Wolf and the 4th legion was surrounded. Despite our best efforts we were surrounded and outnumbered.

Made a personal decision, our best chance now is to tactfully retreat and send word back to Imperial allies of what happened at Morn, details of opposition numbers and of our own defeat. It was not easy to see fallen comrades or to walk away from our allies still in the fight, but I felt it was most beneficial for the overall war effort.

Said a silent prayer as Old Wolf fell in battle.

Key observations:

There was a human female wearing blue war paint in battle. She rode a horse and had excellent archery skills. Not sure who she is, but she didn’t appear to be part of Harn’s mercenaries.

There was a famore who wore a topknot that spoke with the blue lady. He also did not appear to be a simple merc. Both were killing anyone who tried to retreat from the battlefield.

Made our way to the War camp, got as many supplies as we could grab. I personally took everything of importance from the commander’s tent. Set fire to the rest of the supplies, making it impossible for opposition to use them.

We headed North.

Overall plan is to make it to Meech. There is a 12th legion stationed there. We need to recon with other Imperial forces to debrief on current situation in Morn.

Are followed by 4 horseman as we head North into the woods. I ask Sparrow to make an ambush as I lead our horses further North, making it appear as if we are still fleeing the city. Sparrow set up ambush flawlessly to neutralize enemies.

Got 4 more horses and numerous supplies.

Camped that night, no fire. Commend Bran for setting us up great spot to camp.

During downtime Sparrow came to me to ask about our actions and if they were grounds for desertion. I explained to her that getting word of our defeat to our allies was more important than fighting to the last man. However the thought of being branded traitor and deserter has crossed my mind. I explained if it comes to that I will take full responsibility. I gave the orders, as privates no one else would be blamed for such actions except me.

Sparrow made it clear if things did come to that I would not take the blame alone.

Note: Sparrow is showing her loyalties, even with disagreeing with me. I am very thankful for that. It seems as if during this whole crisis the team has gotten closer rather than pulling apart.

Next day we head out West over open plains. The plan is to head West until we hit the river and then take it South to Meech.

I send Zadok and Ben to linger behind to see if we are being followed. They discover 6 riders about half a day behind us, on our trail.

New plan. We slowly traverse through the open plains west, using outcroppings and hill crests to our advantage. Bran will make sure our trail is covered up as much as possible. Ben and I will ride back behind the group to see if the rider’s are still following us.

After a day I see the riders have apparently lost our trail and wandering further north.

Group encounters a twisted ogrekin in a lair. It was easily neutralized. Giant centipede in our path was also neutralized.

During the night we were ambushed by 3 gnolls. They were neutralized easy enough. They were strange gnolls however. They looked more like wolves than hyenas. Bran explained these kinds of gnolls were local to this area.

Note: Commend Bran for his exceptional skills in the wilderness. He was able to find places to sleep, hiding our tracks as we cross the plain and had various pieces of knowledge during our retreat. Without Bran this would have been infinitely harder.

Additional note: These plains are deadly! Centipedes and gnolls and ogrekin? I hope I didn’t make the wrong decision in taking my team into a deathtrap open plains. We keep passing farmlands all around here. How can people plant crops and raise animals with such monsters everywhere? I’m hoping this is just a fluke and we’re hitting a bit of troubled luck.

We are still 2 days away from Meech.

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Sergeant's Debrief 3
Sergeant Desario's Notes and Observations

Mission: To escape Meech

Uneventful 2 days as we get back to Meech. Arrive in town only to find we are too late to speak with 12th legion. 12th has new orders and left South for Lyre.

Spoke with dwarf Sergeant Grimwald to get a meeting with officers for a debrief. We were told to wait at the Sleeping Dog. Group uses this time for an hour of R&R as well as intel and supply gathering.

Sold enemy horses for a nice profit.

In Meech commander’s name is Perulo. Captain under him is Anron, tall and thin man. Also accompanying him is Lieutenant Rellin.

We are accompanied to a waiting room and asked to be relieved of our weapons. This is the first time I feel there is doubt. I go along with it, but whisper to Bran to keep a watchful eye out.

Taken to commander’s office. We then debrief Commander on what happened in Morn. Commander takes this in and explains that a treaty has already been made with Harn’s people, and that since Morn was a massacre, the public story is simply that the 9th Co. and 4th legion were going rogue against the treaty and were neutralized.

Since we are the only witnesses to what actually happened, this becomes a problem for the Imperium. He advises us to never speak of the truth about Morn again and live out the rest of our military lives with a decent stipend. Otherwise he is going to execute us.

We are given some time to conference to decide what to do.

What the actual fuck?

After a brief discussion my men come to 2 conclusions.

1. Commander Perulo is going to kill us no matter what.
2. We need to escape Meech.

We speak with Perulo again and tell him we accept the deal. He is delighted and begins setting up a transfer for us to go New Lyre, where we will be given new assignments. We are escorted back to a locked waiting room.

After much planning on the escape, Bran convinces the guards to let us go. Damnedest thing I ever saw. He just knocks on the door and sweet talks them into realizing our situation is fucked up and we need to escape. They go along with it. Good men. If we ever get the truth out about what happened I will put both of them up for accommodations.

During our escape we meet up with sergeant Grimwald. He helps us, explaining that he had a brother in the 4th and the story the commander said about betrayal sounded completely false.

He sets us up with some supplies and gets us our horses. We’re able to leave Meech under disguise of guards and go to a farmhouse where a loyal civilian named Hammoth will hold us up for a few days.

Now we need to figure out where to go. Who do we talk to? How do we clear our names? What is with this conspiracy against the 4th legion? Why was the siege on Morn a trap? Numerous questions still to answer.

Notes:

Did find out more about the Blue Lady at the Morn massacre. She is a Skairn, barbaric tribe to the North that follows old customs.

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Mother's Prophecy
"Doom threatened, under red star returned.

Through trials many, destiny revealed,
the Fian’Fal named, the honor earned.

The Beast defeated, the people united and bound.
The last spirit, waiting, put to rest.
Dream traveled and new king found.

Tasks complete, the Paths of Prophecy tread.
By the hands of the Returned, the chosen,
the Well is opened, forestalling the star of red."

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Desario's Debrief 4
Debrief 4
Still heading towards Colm on our new mission to find allies and resources.

Found old ruin site along the way. Investigation revealed den of spiders which we immediately neutralized. The ruins revealed a few trinkets for trade. Inside a tomb we encountered a restless spirit that after much trouble was also neutralized. Ben disposed of the corpse.

Close to Harper’s Ford we encounter a Deepwood Warden by the name of Elyin.

He took injuries while fighting canids, a local gnoll type in the area. He had been following them, but his injuries prevented him from going further. He asked if we could finish his mission of recon from said group. The Dale Wardens could be good allies, and reconnning these canids would provide valuable information, so we accepted said mission.

Bran follows the tracks and after some minor encounters we make it to the canid compound. Some brief recon provides us with numbers for the canid group. Figuring that we could easily take down the group we begin to do so. Inside we go through room to room and neutralize this band.

We found a letter explaining the group’s motives. Apparently the canids were simply trying to kill humans around the area because they were ordered by a bigger group of Canids led by someone named Bloodclaw. Bloodclaw stole supplies from a fortress near Colm called Highgate to finish with this plan.

Having found out what happened, we returned to Harper’s Ford to deliver the information to Elyin.

At the moment our plan is to buy a few carts, take the supplies back to Highgate and then explain the situation to them. With any luck we can use this to ally with Highgate and provide a job for us to finish off the rest of those canids.

Restocking in Harper’s Ford. We will divide up the gold gotten so far from raiding and exploring for some R&R for the group. After that we will get the Highgate supplies and keep going to Colm.

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Ambrose's Journal Excerpt
A Rough Start
I've never been great at meeting new people, let alone getting along terribly well with those I do know. Today was another great example of that. Apparently this group has a deep mistrust of the Skairn, no matter what clan they hail from. Oh well, at least I made some head way...

Bran was a good fellow, he was at least able to initially look past my heritage and introduce me to this group. I knew they were strong and a little hard to gain trust, but I had no idea. “Ben” greeted my neck with the steel of his blade. I could see that the monk was itching to loose his fists upon me too. Fortunately the situation dissipated and we got to have a conversation before my head hit the floor! Essentially nobody trusted me, apparently they were burned (perhaps literally) by another of whom I reminded them immensely. The best I could do is remind them that I was a friend and came in good will. Mentioning the temple I first noticed them at helped allay their fears that I was a spy.

We soon made our way to Colm where things started to improve. I never cease to be amazed by the behavior of the city dwellers. Each time I think I have a handle on their ways, something happens to reassure me that I am an outsider. We approached the gate and the guard was trying to bar entry to us. As if this weren’t enough the one they all call “Sarge” talked back to them an was attempting to intimidate them into letting us in! I would rather sleep on the cold hard ground and face the wolves before risking drawing the ire of a towns guard.

Fortunately the guard backed down and let us in, where the group delivered some sort of cargo to the local regent, and agreed to take it to it’s final destination. Standard fare for this group I take it, but apparently they are seeking a chartership so doing these menial tasks for those with influence is the best way to achieve this.

That evening we decided to attend a bard’s duel. An interesting proposition and a great way to spend our first night back in town. Durring the festivities though, the monk Zadok took me aside and grilled me about… well everything. I was caught a bit off guard, but after collecting my thoughts I simply answered his questions truthfully. He wanted to know why I paint my face blue, and why he should trust me. A quick background of our culture reassured him that I am not aligned with who I now understand stabbed them in the back (again, perhaps literally).

After the bard’s duel was over Ben and I went for a stroll to work out our tensions. We actually have much in common! In this land I feel like eyes roll when I describe the source of my power, these heathens know only what they see and read, but Ben knows the importance of feeling and trusting in what cannot be directly experienced. As we were heading back to the inn, we heard a strange noise down an alley and between the circumstances and the general unease of Kai (the others insisted I give him a single name) we knew it could only be a scuffle. A woman was being assaulted by two men. Needless to say we made short work of the rabble, but Ben did not hesitate to outright kill one. After the shock of the experience was over we discovered that this woman was an elf apparently the victim of a racist fervor. The men carried a bill proclaiming how this land belonged to the humans of the area. We helped the woman and the living assailant to the guard. We stayed and gave a full report. They let us go, but warned against such brash action in the future.

It looks like Fort Thorn is next, which is a relief. I need a break from all of the politics, lies, and hatred.

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Bran's adventures in town
While my companions managed the Caenids, I stayed in Harper's Ford to explore and acquaint myself with the city. As usual I find I am more comfortable in a fire-lit tavern than a cave full of ravenous and angry beasts. During one of my many ale-filled nights I found that tales of my adventures (those both real or imagined) were attracting new visitors to my side. In particular a familiar type of visitor: the blue face paint and traditional garb that could only be attributed to the Skairn. This man introduced himself as Ambrose, an exile from a Skairn tribe. He seemed fascinated in the stories I had woven of Mother and her prophecy (without revealing myself or my fellow travelers, only using bits of our tales that would entertain and delight the drinkers at the tavern) and wanted to hear more. Though hesitant to trust him at first, I soon found Ambrose to be a wise and kind companion, a fellow story teller, and lover of treasures both ancient and modern. I urged him to meet me in the tavern every night, in the hopes that my fellows would appreciate his wisdom and kindess as well as I had. I imagine they will be distrustful at first, but may hopefully come to see his knowledge of Skairn culture as a benefit to our search, rather than see him as a spy.

I await their return nervously. Though I have every faith in their strength and bravery, I would rather they were all here to share a pint with me and my new friend.

—Bran Harvish

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To Colm!
With a minimum of distrust and fear, Ambrose has joined our party! Desario and fellows agreed his skills in magic and knowledge of the Skairn could be a benefit, though Ambrose has been warned that betrayal would result in death. But I do not doubt his honor; I believe we have strengthened our party and look forward to what he has to offer.

After successfully completing their mission with the Caenids, my team returned triumphant and laden with supplies and good words to bring to Colm, so we headed out and reached the town in only 3 days.

Despite some guards that put up some trouble, we were able to report to the High Guard and secure his faith in our company. We then retired to the Dryad’s Rest Inn where we were informed of the impending Bard’s Battle. Apparently participating in the match was the honorable and well-known Bard Orik Stevaldson competing against the newcomer, Jack O’Tam. An enthralling battle of tales was presented and despite all expectations of success going to Orik, I was shocked to see Jack hold his own against this master of story and song. All agreed that the match was a draw.

I attempted to meet this newcomer and acquaint myself with his fellows, but my mind was perhaps clouded by drink and the happiness of returning to a warm town, and I fear my natural charm went unnoticed. Another adventurer, a gnome named Belloc Nethertwixt, attempted to recruit us to join his party—or at least to extol the tales of his own adventuring crew. His assumptive and disdainful attitude did not impress the Ghost Wolves, and if he crosses our path again, I feel certain he will regret his unkind words.

Undeterred, our company looks to Fort Thorn in the morning, our quests in Colm fulfilled, and whatever adventures we may yet have, ahead.

—Bran Harvish

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