“Moonwatch” – Drake’s Dragoons.

Eighty-two years ago, a loud-mouthed and impossibly lucky rogue named Drake Creggan stole a sword and a map.  What the map showed was worth a fortune, and Drake promised out shares of the fortune to friends and mercenaries and useful book-smart types, built a functional team, and rode off into the wild with this rowdy band in tow.  The mark was a dragon, or was alleged to be by those friends who survived, and Drake Creggan who survived with them.  In any case, two months after riding out of the town of Meridian on high spirits and not a little drunk, Creggan and select few of his childhood friends dragged themselves back into town, battered and singed and dying of hunger and thirst and desperate want of liquor.  Mention was not made of the mercenaries, nor the scholarly wizards or steadfast clerics, though it was implied that their dying breath had carried the will to see their share of the haul so generously bequeathed upon the survivors.

Drake Creggan swore there had been a dragon, and his band had slain it, and its cavern had proven barren and bereft of any treasure whatsoever.  He swore this in the bar, the smithy, the land office, the merchant and mason and construction guild offices; anywhere, in fact, that he happened to do business and pay up-front in gems the size of acorns.  By night he was known to travel out of town empty-handed, returning by dawn with heavy, awkward sacks of mystery that would continue financing his plans.

For while he was blessed by the gods for reasons unknown, and so cocky and confident as to will fistfights and bar brawls to come his way, Drake Creggan was not entirely crazy.  He had a mariner’s sense for winds, more the metaphorical kind than the weather-bearing ones, and in the winds swirling in taverns and barracks, Creggan saw opportunity.  So once again, as with the map and the sword, Drake went and did something crazy.

He bought land in the south side of Meridian, built a house and modest tower on it, and started himself a Guild.  Whether it was an honest clerical error in making the sign, or some whimsical notion he couldn’t resist, Creggan called it Drake’s Dragoons.  He invited his adventuring friends to join, and they did.  He hung out a shingle with the guild name to attract members and clients, and they came.  He put his ear to the ground and his eye to the horizon, got a sense of where the action was and where it was going to be, and they went.  Professional, organized adventuring was the direction things were going in the growing city of Meridian.  Drake Creggan wanted in on the ground floor.

With the Guild successfully established and his years advancing, Creggan did one more truly crazy adventure.  He found a nice girl, and had children with her.  Two children, both daughters.  The elder, Fiona, and the younger, Mira.

Drake’s Dragoons rose to fame in the golden years of Guild adventuring in Corinthia.  As the alleged and never actually confirmed treasure that totally was not discovered beyond any freshly slain dragon years before ran out, it was replaced by a steady income from constant forays by Dragoon members into the deep forests and grey mountains.  The Guild house was expanded, retrofitted, burned to the ground, rebuilt when the responsible Guild was itself burned to the ground, added on to, re-enforced, destroyed during an unfortunate invasion of giants, rebuilt again with treasure plundered from the underground fortresses of recently-exterminated giants, painted and gardened, tower replaced and cellar dug deeper, members admitted and retired, welcomed to service and bid farewell on departure.  So the years went.

Drake Creggan died unexpectedly one night, in his own Guild Hall, by the fire with a book in hands.  A quiet end to a loud man who lived larger than life.

Fiona was twenty-two, Mira was nineteen.  Raised in the Guild hall, no strangers to what went on in its walls and Hall, the daughters of Drake Creggan did the only thing they could.  They buried their father, hunted for and found his secret troves of notes, ledgers, tactical journals and maps in their various hiding-places in the Guild buildings, and took in an overview of Drake’s Dragoons as a business.  Then the sisters assumed command of the Guild, laying out in no uncertain terms how they intended their father’s Guild be managed under their tenure.  It was a good sell, convincing and heart-felt and honest; no members walked away, there were no grumbles of dissent or murmurs of discord.  Mira and Fiona were highly regarded as the Guildmaster’s children, and they were aware of goings-on within the Guild, never sequestered from its politics or members, firsthand witness to its high times and its low and dark periods.

Thirty-three years later.  Eccentric spinsters, savvy in the adventuring arts and dedicated to Drake’s Dragoons, aged sisters Fiona and Mira Creggan find their father’s guild relegated to the lower echelons of Corinthia’s organized associated hierarchy.  Mercenaries, free men, unsworn soldiers lend their arms to the bigger and more aggressive Guilds, those Guilds rich by royal contract and flush with gold and steel.

Time and politics have worn down Drake’s Dragoons; their membership is one-tenth what it was from fifteen years ago, the last heyday of the sisters’ organization.  Money is exceptionally tight.  The building and Guild equipment are constantly in need of expensive care.  Contracts, when they fall to Drake’s Dragoons as crumbs off the plates of the more massive, better-connected Guilds, do not pay enough to maintain the sisters’ Guild or to retain skilled members.  Intra-Guild warfare rears its ugly head once or twice a year when grudges boil over.  The Creggan sisters never hesitate to order a timely assassination or old-fashioned smash-and-burn as the “old ways” suggest, but the cost and risk of such détente has become burdensome.

Times are desperate, and calling in old favours and greasing the gears of war-politics has granted Mira and Fiona Creggan one last, desperate shot for staying alive and staying solvent in a cutthroat business slowly bleeding them into the graveyard.  Against all odds, Drake’s Dragoons has won a royal contract – against impossible odds, really, as the contract appears simple and it pays a sum that seems more a beneficially-unnoticed typo than an actual estimation of fair compensation for the mission.  The Creggan sisters pulled off a major coup in securing this contract without the notice of the major Meridian and Corinthian-regional adventuring Guilds.  Winning this chance has, through costly overt and subtle means, consumed the last of their resources.  This contract decides the fate of their father’s Guild.

There are not enough active, or capable-enough, Guild members in Drake’s Dragoons to ensure success of the contract.  The Creggan sisters bit off much more than they could chew, and it is all-or-nothing time.  Mira and Fiona have dispatched letters and Guild members to cities and regions near and far, to beg the aid of former Drake’s Dragoons members who had parted company with the sisters’ Guild and went off into the world on their own.

The sisters have always held their Guild’s members in the highest regard; Fiona and Mira have been matrons, teachers, surrogate mothers, loving aunts and big sisters for three decades, to all who swore their loyalty to the Dragoons.  They welcomed the coming and blessed the parting of all their Guild children, set high standards and lived by them as examples, and led by trust and consistency.

Fortune favours Drake’s Dragoons; several of the Guild’s experienced alumni have answered the call and returned to their old home Guild…

 

 

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About d20horizons

D&D player.
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