29th Afterlithe, 2498 (Summer)
Abandoning their camp in the sheltered dell, the Company blindfold and separate their prisoners, leading them off into the hills and woods, and tying them to a tree or bush. Once the prisoners are all gone, the companions and Roderic and Beran break camp, and decide to take on the people of Raven’s Bluff that same night.
Leading their ponies, the Company heads down the slope, keeping the ridge and trees between them and the village, and make their way close to the settlement, following the stream up to a clump of nearby trees. They send the two Hobbits ahead, Wilibald and Popo Took disappearing into the tall grass along the bank, unseen by the few sentries watching the night. The others, despite trying to sneak, are spotted and are challenged as they approach the trees:
“Halt! Who goes there? What do strangers want at this dark of night?”
The companions ignore them, and move into the trees, tying the ponies to the branches and readying their weapons. Another voice calls out, this one gruff and full of threat:
“Strangers! Show and announce yourselves, or you face the wrath of Grimbar the Butcher!”
In answer, Alberic, Dafydd, Gilthannas, Roderic and Beran charge towards the South-gate. Meanwhile, the two Hobbits have reached the palisade wall, and while Popo skirts it and moves towards the gate to join the others, Wilibald crawls under the gap where the stream runs through and sneaks into the village. There he sees only a few men, some atop the bluff, others by the gates, most of the villagers crowding into the Thane’s house. He sees a larger man, taller than any he has seen before, standing by the South-gate, and hurries towards him; the Hobbit is tasked with opening the gate for the others, so he hurries as he hears a shout for help, and sees one of the guards atop the walkway by the gate hurl his spear… and moments later that guard staggers back as several arrows smack into his chest, sending him tumbling dead to the ground.
Wilibald finds that he can’t get to the gate without being seen, and as he ponders what to do, suddenly Dafydd and Alberic vault over the wall, and jump down to engage the large man wielding a long spear: taking advantage of the distraction, he runs over to the gate, throws the bolt and pulls it open. Roderic and Beran pile in, Popo close behind, The Elf stands back, bow out, sighting along an arrow at two archers standing on the bluff and letting loose their own arrows!
Roderic recognises the hulk as Maracar, the Thane’s chief warrior who is also married to Beran’s sister. Maracar is big and strong, and even when he is pummelled and cut, jabbed and arrow after arrow thuds into his toros, legs and arms, he still manages to keep to his feet, albeit weary and struggling to stand: but stand he does, and he smacks Dafydd around the head, wearying the Barding as he finds arrows flying his way. Alberic heroically takes an arrow for Dafydd; Wilibald catches a couple on his Dwarven-shield, but then other guards arrive, thrusting spears and swinging axes. More arrows fly through the air, grazing and bouncing off mail.
Popo takes a spear thrust to the side and staggers back, wounded. His brother joins him, and they force the villager back, giving Gilthannas room to shoot an arrow into his heart: the man falls down dead, right under Maracar’s feet. The big man stumbles, and then falls dead, as Alberic’s axe, Wolfbiter decapitates him with a mighty swing!
Then Grimbar the Butcher joins the battle, swinging his great axe as the archers on the bluff continue to send arrows flying in. Everyone turns their attention on the Thane, and batter, bash, cut and impale: the Thane is bloodied, wearied, and finds himself on the receiving end of Alberic’s axe, and falls dead to the ground.
Then an arrow flies through the air, and although it is but a glancing blow, Dafydd staggers back from the stinging pain and bashes him head agains the gate post, and falls down, unconscious. Gilthannas, weary from shooting and dodging arrows, sends a couple more arrows towards the archers on the bluff. They take the hint, and flee, heading out of the village and to the North.
Before anything else happens, Roderic and Beran race over to the Thane’s house and by a mixture of persuasion and threats, free the slaves: Roderic’s wife and daughter, Beran’s sister (with her 2-year old child, Maracar’s son), and three other slaves who were taken in raids. The Company hurry them all out of the village and head off into the night, collecting their ponies on the way. Dafydd is roused by the Staunching Song of Alberic, and helps the wounded Popo to one of the ponies. They travel for a few hours, deeper into the night, and find a place to make camp.
They settle down, and wait for the dawn.
End of Session
XP Awarded: 2 each.