Order of the Spear

Setting out to make one's mark

Linfors Wyglen needed to follow the tradition set out by his family. More important, he wanted to do so. The Wyglens had settled a small village at the edge of the Wyldwood, many days south of Ralspur, and isolated by both Mormont Gorge and the Erendeer Valley. Rough terrain, rivers, and the border with the Wyldwood all keep Wyglen a smallish village, serving the needs of farmers, trappers, and merchants who ply the area. And the needs of the village have been met, for over a century, by scions of the Wyglen family who, almost entirely, have served as guards, healers, scouts, and magistrates, all on behalf of the residents of the region.

Linfors, youngest of the four children of Tomlyn, third youngest of five of the elder generation of Wyglens, had decided that striking for the Watch would be the best way to use his abilities, develop a reputation and skills, and make his mark. Other Wyglens had, over the years, chosen to leave their home and serve elsewhere – a few even chose to become merchants and travel and one even took orders and joined a distant monastary. Most who left, however, struck for the Watch or some other form of service to the Realm, in hopes of spreading the Wyglen name, and earning some glory for themselves.

Linfors would enter the Watch, and would serve beyond what was required. He would make his name there, master his trade, and then one day return to Wyglen and take his place in some position of prominence, welcomed by his extended family. That is what he would do.

And so it was that he packed his things and headed out into the world, toward the Sea Nymph, for the annual ceremonies, and a future that, while uncertain in details, would certainly hold opportunities for great deeds.

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Rite of Passage
The world awaits...

The wind howls menacingly outside the Sea Nymph. An unseasonably early winter threatens to be one for the historians. Inside the Inn, the twin hearths hold the chill at bay, but only just. The citizens of Ralspur have turned out for the annual Watch Ceremonies. A traditional celebration held by the people on the same night all across the Kingdom of Aynemer.

A layer of light smoke drifts lazily from the tavern to make ominous shapes and swirls upon the ceiling of the lower level. Just below the clouds rest an variety of monstrous trophy heads taken by past kings of Aynemer, their inanimate visages gaze down with viscious, fanged snarls forever frozen in the last moment of the evil lives.

The smells of the spitted venison, hare, and fowl tease the gathered crowds. The tapped kegs in the main room await the evening’s festivities.

The warm greetings, happy welcomes, and reunions coupled with the heat from the fires help to divert the attention of the celebrants from the looming brutality of more than just the weather waiting just outside the solace of the Sea Nymph…

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An interruption, on the way to the Sea Nymph

Cohen Snow was having a bad day. His horse had run off while he was on the side of the road taking a leak. A small hole in his haversack grew, slowly, throughout the day and left much of his food, and some other supplies, littered along the road from home. A storm was on the horizon and he was still hours from the inn. He’d hoped to arrive before nightfall, and have some time to relax, clean up, and prepare himself for the ceremony, but now he wondered if he’d make it at all.

The annual event was known to all, and everyone knew what was required, per the motto of the Watch: “Always Ready.” That implied timeliness, and Cohen knew that tardiness in its place would serve as the first impression he’d make on everyone. He needed to relax, focus, and get there. No excuses. If only he could get his mind off things and focus on the task…move faster…stop worrying!…get focused…stop worrying.

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He knew what he would do…it would be okay. People would understand…or, no one needed to know. Didn’t everyone do it sometimes? He caught his brothers doing it more times than he could count…father, once, too! He didn’t think mother did it, but she was a woman – she didn’t understand a man’s needs…his responsibilities…his burdens.

Even though he was alone, Cohen glanced around before reaching deep into his pocket to retrieve his prize…

Focus…relax…like always, it was just what he needed…his most reliable friend…he’d just stop by the side of the road for a little while to get things together, then get moving. Surely a little break to help him focus would not be too much to ask…he would not be late.

‘So good…so good…’ was his last thought as he slipped into the hazy-headed oblivion that always waited for him with each crunchy, juicy bite.

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Motivational Bard
One of these things just doesn't belong...

Demotivational posters bard

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Our First Weeks
a swift induction into the Watch

The few months of training had been challenging, but more because of being away from home for the first time than the training itself. The drillmasters were tough, mostly fair, and took their jobs seriously for the most part, teaching the inductees the basics of fieldcraft, tracking, the use of a few weapons, and how to act like a member of the Watch. The training was only meant to be an introduction, bringing the boys to the point where they’d be ready to complete their training at their actual duty station.

Linfors, Jacen, and Osweald enjoyed themselves at the Investiture, and were most impressed with Sgt. Balthazar’s words, presence, and promises. They were also honored with coins from three true members of the Order of the Spear – clearly, these young men had huge shoes to fill, and would be challenged throughout their entire Firstyear to prove that they were up to the honor bestowed on them.

The first few weeks were interesting at first, but quickly became mundane as routines set in, and since the first week of the Watch rotation was always in town, acting as the constabulary, there really wasn’t much to see or do – not even a drunk to lock up for a night!

That changed a few days into their perimeter rotation, ranging a day or two out of town to check the lands immediately adjacent to it. The dying horse was odd…the empty grog bottle…and the family, murdered in their home, with grog consumed after the fact…a connection? Certainly.

Tracking the culprit was exciting…nerve-wracking at times…and real. The boys all felt for the first time the rush of an impending fight when they found the cave, and Osweald crept forward and saw the massive half-orc, drunk, armored, and armed. SGT Balthazar was creeping around back when Linfors’ misstep alerted the man-beast.

Before any of them realized it, or could think, the fight was on. Balthazar drew the monster’s attention from behind…Osweald and Jacen positioned themselves as if to spar, and Linfors rushed in and engaged the foe head-on. Although it was over in moments, to each of the boys it seemed like hours – as they cut and thrust and parried, as if to their fencing master’s call. But this was not training; this was not practice: a man tried to kill them; they tried to kill him but fortunately subdued him. Balthazar was seriously wounded, affording the boys their first sight of blood draw in anger.

Jacen spent the hours after the fight chattering nervously about every minute detail of the melee, recounting over and again each move everyone made, as if to assess or analyze or describe – it wasn’t clear, and he wasn’t sure why he couldn’t stop talking.

Osweald maintained his bearing, and helped Balthazar with his wounds, then the others in moving the half-orc, tied. He said little, but then that wasn’t unusual for the former dark dweller.

Linfors tied the orc, helped the other boys, and reflected on his mad charge at the giant. In the hours it took to return to Ralspur he thought about what he’d done, how all their lives had been in certain peril, and how they’d prevailed. The fight did not concern him so much, nor the mortal threat. What vexed him – at least from a intellectual standpoint – was the fact that he felt nothing about what had happened. No fear, no regret, not even much in the way of excitement. Sure, he felt those things in small part – but not in any amplified way…it was more like when he’d slipped out off his roof years ago and landed, somehow safely, on his ass three stories below. No one knew why he hadn’t been injured, and all Linfors could think of afterward, as so many people stared open-mouthed at him, was that he was hungry. This was much like that. His father had told him once that a man had found his calling when his work felt right – and something felt right when it didn’t raise one’s eyebrow, because it was already part of the man.

Linfors had found his place, it seemed, he thought as they rode slowly back to town.

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Sometimes work is strange

Linfors reflected on the last few weeks of his service in the Watch and decided that things are not as one thinks they are before having experienced them; and, sometimes work is strange. In about a month of service, he and the other new recruits had been introduced to and eventually trained by members of the elite Company of the Spear. Wow. They’d even been given their choice of weapons – real weapons! – and given some training on them. Swords were far heavier than Linfors had thought. Jacen really liked knives, and was convinced that someday he’d be able to throw them. Osweald experimented with a few weapons, and grumbled a great deal. And the new boy – Cohen – refused to part with the massive hammer he’d chosen.

Weapons training…drinking and supping with the Spear…more interactions with the lovely and playful Holly…and then a hanging! Couple a massive, bug-eyed, crap-drawered half-orc, twitching in the wind with the reticent drunkenness of their knight, along with the death of the surprisingly popular tax collector, and the boys had more experiences to share than they’d expected.

That was, of course, before their first encounter with a manifestation of the fae, which almost killed them and the rest of the squad while on patrol. Nights in the woods were things to be feared, it seemed. And Cohen had really come through with that hammer – although the shower of green goo was almost enough to turn stomachs.

The trip into Hanlowell Keep was uneventful, and the reception warm – Cohen’s family was friendly, and his mother could really cook. Not like Granny Wyglen, of course, but still – the stew was very nice.

Linfors’ side ached ferociously as he shifted in bed. He’d had a lot of time to ponder the last few weeks as he healed. He’d garnered a personal visit from Command SGT Tollynger of the Hanlowell Watch as well as new acquaintances in here in the capital of the Western Reaches; sometimes his squad mates, and even made the unlikely friendship of a keep boy named Symon- who especially liked to hear the story of the green goo over and over again. He knew he needed the rest, after being knocked out and apparently had a rib or two cracked in the fight with the bandits, but he was bored and wanted to get back out on patrol with the others. Another day or two, the local healer told him, and he’d be ready to get up. His friends, in dark humor, made sure he awoke with the hand axe that had nearly killed him clutched in his clammy palms.

One month of service over and a week spent recovering in Hanlowell. Eleven more to go for the required service. If this beginning was any indicator, the rest of the year would be one for the history books. Linfors liked his companions. Osweald was taciturn, on good days, and yet reliable. Jacen was so…excitable…and courageous, hard-working, and shared Linfors’ interest in history, learning, and discussion. The new boy, Cohen, had fit right in, and really seemed to be not only knowledgeable about his faith – so rare – but also completely earnest. An honest man, informed, could do much good, Linfors’ father always said. And Cohen had really amazing hair, too – everyone agreed, from word one, that nobody’s hair stood up like Cohen’s did. Even after wearing a helmet, it stood! Maybe it was a mark of his faith. Hmm. Linfors would ponder some more as he healed.

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Good Times!
Or the calm before the storm...

After having spent just over a week in Hanlowell County and surviving their first encounter with bandits, our intrepid young (ok, very young) heroes find themselves called into the Watch Commander’s office before leaving for Ralspur.

As it turns out, there were some suspicions regarding the bandits. Apparently, from bits and pieces gathered here and there, they weren’t bandits after all. The Watch still isn’t quite sure where they came from. Are they from outside the kingdom or from within? If they are from outside, then we are not alone in the world. But, if they are from within the kingdom, why are they attacking us? Who put them up to it? They definitely weren’t starving brigands, judging by their equipment. Uncertain information to take back to Ralspur.

Escorting Fordrynn to Ralspur the second time was very uneventfully boring. The new tax collector turned out to be worse than previously thought, but the Watch carried out their duties as expected of Watch members.

Several more weeks of rotation puts the boys back out into the Wyldewood on long range patrol. Other than being spooky and creepy even during the day, the forest seemed to be nice to them the first week out. Rather than deliver all its mysterious dangers right away, the trees offered wolf tracks for two days and some actual wolves to chase away with torches that night.

Upon arriving home from a week in the Wyldes, the boys were treated to a midnight wake up drill that took them outside town to a natural amphitheater where other members of the Watch were gathered in wait.

Fire sprang from a readied pit in the center illuminating Sir Brendan as the boys approached. He offered some history of the Watch and talked about the rank of Guardian of the Watch. He then added another chain to the boys’ cloaks and clapped each on the shoulder. The ceremony passed in a blur as the newest guardians stood agape at the fact that Sir Brendan could pull off a great speech, but that he was NOT drunk for once!

Watch Unit Four was fitting in nicely here in Ralspur. The boys had made plenty of friends and the teams were working very well together. Things were going extremely well in Ralspur. But then, isn’t that when one should start to worry???

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Jacen's parents suck

Emo 6

Linfors felt bad for Jacen. What kind of family doesn’t write? After Linfors had been injured, somehow word must have gotten back to Wyglen, because a spice basket arrived after a few weeks, in the hands of a merchant who’d come from Wyglen – his parents had sent some mulled spice bags to put in his cider, along with the ingredients for the pumpkin bread he loved so much. Although Linfors would never admit it to Jacen, it sure seemed like his ‘noble’ family acted like anything but.

All Jacen’s talk about being a general, or a knight, or someone with a big title and streaming banners…it all seemed really hollow and a little sad at this point. He was in the Watch! He was doing his duty! And Linfors knew that Jacen could be trusted, had integrity, and was brave. Wasn’t that worth something to supposedly noble parents? No wonder the Wyglens had struck out on their own – better to live rightly on your own than to bend knee to people who weren’t worth the fur in their collars. That’s what his father always said.

Linfors knew one thing: he’d never treat people like that. And if Jacen needed a place to feel at home, surely Wyglen and his family could be that place. What a crock of shit!

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Standing on your own two feet...

Osweald pondered the circumstance of his comrades, Jacen lamenting over his family’s lack of interest, and Linfors appeared to gloat when he received the cute little basket from his family. Granted, he had been through training with these two, and even beaten a huge Half Orc, but he couldn’t help but think they may have not fully dropped their pairs yet. They just needed to suck it up, and walk the road before them. It wasn’t going to walk itself! On the other hand, there was Cohen. Osweald was still trying to figure him out, he had enjoyed the warm atmosphere of Cohen’s family, and you can’t exactly fault the guy to visit his family since we were in town. As well, doing chores for the clergy reminded him of younger days when he learned discipline. The good, home-cooked meal spoke for itself, and the soft bed to sleep on. Well, they were his friends, they had accepted him for who he was inside, not who he was outside. Maybe he was just jealous that he did not have a family to look to, and fight for… maybe he wanted to speak of the grandiose keep that his family lives in, and the integrity and honor they hold throughout the Kingdom. All Osweald remembered of his “Da”, was those cold, white eyes, and the harsh, bass voice, and the strong Dwarven fists that seemed to always mean a beating. But those strong, Dwarven fists were no match for the arrows, and swords. “Ma” never stopped him, never held Osweald afterwards, just dropped a cold bucket of water over his head, and sent him to bed. No, they both deserved it, and the Watch was all he had now, maybe not close enough to resemble him as brothers, but maybe cousins. Yeah, cousins, they weren’t so bad after all. But then again, maybe all three of them needed a swift kick in the sack to help them drop faster.

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Faith Renewed

Cohen Snow.

It was a restless night. His new friend Linfors was gravely wounded in the attack upon to new tax collector, and they had 4 days ride back to the outpost. The new tax collector was much worse than the last in the area. But taxes need to be collected in order to keep up the defense of the land, and to build the roads. I hope he grows into the job as well as the last one.

The night was darker than most. The stars didn’t shine and there was no moon. I was concerned for my new friend Linfors laying in the healing room. The acolyte said he would be fine, but there was always a chance of infection, or something doesn’t heal quite right.
When the clock tower chimed 2 is when it happened. Cohen was in bed, sleep was eluding him. Then, softly at first. A buzzing. No, a whisper. What was it? The sound wasn’t annoying like a fly, nor eerie like a moan. The whisper was… Comforting somehow.

The whisper grew. There were voices. They weren’t speaking, but the soft voices were singing. They were raising in voice, and volume. Who are these people? No… Just women. All the voices were feminine. They sang in glory. A cascading sound washed over Cohen. There was a call. The voiceless call from the Overfather. He wordlessly informed Cohen that his Faith was heard and now answered. The voiceless heed gently picked up Cohen and guided him to his friend still in sick quarters. He walked barefoot in his nightshirt through the cold fall air, to his stricken comrade. As Cohen stood over Linfors, a wash of divine power washed through him and into Cohen. The slice across his belly and arm were healed. Linfors fell into the deep sleep physical pain deprived him from.

When he healed his friend, Cohen looked around. All the members of the watch where placed in sick quarters were healed. Tomlinis sprained ankle, Mislum’s torn elbow. All the severe nicks and cuts glowed briefly, and fresh pink skin covered what was infected and decayed.
Cohen was once more guided throughout rob compound, speaking words that he did not know and were not his. He spoke of the OverFather, and how this one was called to his glory.

All who saw Cohen stared in marvel as angels sung their wordless melody.
Hours strode by until the miraculous event was complete. Cohen glided back to his bunk and the sweet embrace of sleep took him as well. There he stayed for the rest of the day and once more through the night. The following morning he rose from bed as if he dreamed the whole experience. He remembered everything that happened, but it was far off..not quite sure what he said or did.

His brothers of the watch didn’t know quite what to say. It had need over a hundred years since the Overfather had chosen a vessel to carry his words, and of The Faith of the Gods who watched over the mortal realm.

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