War and Pieces part 1

06 Angel, Spring 509 PE (Year of the Ravens)
0600 Thunderday

Dawn began to rise the morning after the attack and defeat of Trogdor.

The next few days were spent (once again) assessing the damage to the troops and the surrounding area. Lt Gentry’s normally pleasant demeanor began to look more haggard and stressful as time went by. Sgt Slickster just shrugged in a fatalistic way, commenting “it is what it is”, although he could be seen more often among the troops and the campfires, moving from group to group.

Raven’s from Tennyson’s Tower and Castrel told the same story; random ogre and goblin raids were taking a toll on the exposed populace. Farmlands and crops were being razed, with the populations of formerly pleasant countryside settlements retreating to the nearest towns. Castrel still stood firm, as did Tennyson’s Tower. Luis Marcossa’s cavalry had relocated to Castrel, and was assisting duBlade in the keep’s defense. The roads were safe for those who traveled in force, as the ogre’s and goblins were working in smaller, raid style groups.

Several reports described groups of goblin worg riders roaming freely, and it seemed that the Gloaming Hills reverberated with their howling cries during the night, as did the foothills closer to the lost Dodge’s Fall.

As Rumil replenished the last of his stock and ensured the ship was outfitted, he turned his focus to the elves present. It was time to train them further. Many of them had years, if not decades, on him when it came to scouting – but his entire adult life had been spent on defense. They needed to learn to hold a position, deflect hits, and regroup to bring the brunt of their fervor against a target.

When possible, he sent word back to the homeland via scout or bird – whichever was safest that day. The goal wasn’t to deplenish the elven forces, but to recruit replacements by spreading the word. Nothing brought an elf as quickly as a good tale of a brother’s exploits. Rumil, the ship, the sailors, and even some of the more “talented” scouts would surely bring some of the more reclusive elves out of the forest. There were those that would flock to the Queen’s banner – as was expected – and still others that wanted more adventure, after centuries of relative mundane days.

Frederick flinched. Gods, that had stung terribly, and was a new experience for him compared to his previous…scryings, he assumed they could be called, for the Book. He stared down at his notes on realm magics, sighed in frustration, and went to get a book from his pack.

Dast continued his search for the Grey Riders by asking around the fort to try to find rumors on their whereabouts. He noted the reactions of the others when mentioning the Riders and tried to be discreet in his search, bringing them up in casual conversation. He did not want the Riders to know of his inquisition or its purpose.

Dast found most of his inquires about the Grey Riders got the same response, from warriors, a mild distaste for the patron deity, Anshar, and a healthy respect for their military prowess. He heard tales of a Lt Expedient, a hobgoblin tactician and logistics officer of immense talent. He also heard tales of their captain, Cider deVilliers, a polite and utterly ruthless mercenary of great efficiency.

He also heard that the group he had fought on the ship with had been involved in several “encounters” with the Grey Riders, and rumor was that Nitram nad blend specifically were not amused with their actions thus far.

Perhaps Dast should inquire with either Nitram or Blend to have the tale told as it was.

Frederick stepped out into a field near the fort, clothed in a dark green shirt and pants, and began setting up for the ritual he’d discovered in his notes. If he understood what he translated, and had the ritual set up correctly, he would strengthen his connection to the land and the magics that it contained. If he didn’t, then it was not certain what would happen, but it would probably involve a demon of some kind. Or just a massive explosion. Or nothing. He really wasn’t certain.

While Frederick was setting up for his ritual, he discovered the Book of Kells within his pack. Having taken several books out of the back the previous night, Frederick was left slightly perplexed.

Halfway through the ritual, Frederick realized he was doing it all wrong. He vaguely felt the flow of magic in the area, like an ankle deep invisible fog, drifting about in patterns he was unable to discern. What he could feel more prevalent, was a pull like the tide. Gathering his belongings, Frederick began to follow the pull, deeper into the hills and the forest to the west of Farhills. Frederick knew that the Sacred Grove lay some miles off in the distance, but what he felt was much closer, he thought.

Rumil found his days filled with training and instruction. He found that many, if not all of the scouts had reached an icy elven state of temper that was sure to bring retribution upon their foes. The squads even started keeping score of goblins and worgs slayed, and the competition was fierce.

Rumil realized if he wanted to create and refine his teams, he would likely have to return to the elven lands for some days, to personally raise interest and renown concerning the adventure and sport to be had.

When?! How?! What?! Frederick was amazed.

The Book of Kells was in his pack. The Book, HIS Book! He didn’t know how it had ended up in there, and was certain that it had not been in there the entire time. As he followed the pull of the magic, he made sure to take note of his surroundings. He wasn’t familiar with the area, yet, and really did not want to get lost.

As he made his way towards…whatever he was making his way towards, he noticed that the source of the pull wasn’t too far from the fort, and that made him wonder if it was a source that their enemies had utilized during the previous combats. And, if it was, would that source be tainted at all by their twisted magics? If it was, could he reverse the process? His mind was a cacophony of questions, all surging beneath the lusty pull of power that he hadn’t even known existed before the Book came into his possession.

As Frederick calmed down and began to put the book away, a small note fell out of it and onto the ground. Picking it up, the note read: “Found this for you_. -B.”

After Nitram read the reports sent by the ravens, he thought it best that people didn’t travel too far from the Fort without an escort. He found Sgt Slickster discussing defenses with the engineers. When the older soldier saw the ranger, he excused himself and came over, “Good day, sir. You look like you needed something…?” The ranger nodded, “Yes, Sergeant, I do. We’ve received reports of persistent raids by small bands of ogres and goblins all along eastern Falconaire. I think it best that we limit travel of anyone without an armed escort. We’ve lost too many already….” The ranger trailed off, his mind consumed by thoughts of ogre raids and loss. The veteran shifted his weight, snapping Nitram back to the present. “Please, Sergeant, let the guards manning the watches to make sure no one gets out of bowshot.” Slickster nodded in agreement, “Yes, sir. Anything else I can help you with?”
Nitram thought for a moment before responding, “Yes, one more thing. I’m not sure if this falls to you or Lt. Gentry, but we need to get the Fire Brigade back up to full strength. Do what you need to do to recruit some more able bodies for the upcoming fight. We need to send these filth to their gods.” Slickster almost appeared to smile a little, “Right away, sir.” He turned and headed in the direction of the main gate. The ranger headed to storeroom to double check the fort’s supplies. We need some cavalry to help seek out these raiders and make sure they stop.

He hadn’t spent much time in the stores when a young soldier from the Fire Brigade came running in, sweating and panting. He had obviously been running for some time. The ranger offered him some water while he caught his breath. Before he took a drink, the soldier managed to say something between breaths, “Before Sgt Slickster…no one to leave…the bard headed west…an hour ago…into the forests…alone.”

Nitram wondered what that unique individual was doing in the woods by himself. “Maybe he’s headed back to the library,” he thought to himself. “Thank you, soldier. Catch your breath. If Sgt. Slickster asks, tell him I’ll deal with it.” Nitram tried to find someone who might know why the bard left, but it seemed that no one was around. Glad to get out of mundane tasks, Nitram called to Serre, who appeared out of the air within moments. “I’m going to take a stroll and find Frederick to the west. Why don’t you go for a short flight and keep an eye on me?” The griffon responded with an excited screech.

Nitram let the guards know that he was headed west for a few hours and would be back. They could pass that info on to any of the fort leadership if it became necessary. With griffon overwatch, the ranger headed to the field where Frederick was last seen and began to track the wayward bard. Leaving the walls of Farhills behind and nearing the trees to the west, the ranger felt a calming peace come over him. Moving stealthily as he went, he was filled with a sense of comfort – alone in the wilderness, responsible for only himself and his friend, he moved swiftly and purposefully, fully expecting to catch up to the bard shortly.

War and Pieces part 1

Unconquered Kingdoms SkidAce