27th Forelithe, 2498
Three days before the midsummer Folk-moot at Rhosgobel the Company arrive safely at the settlement escorting the two Dwarves, Bofri and Regin (now with a wooden peg-leg). They immediately head off to see Radagast and find him having tea with another bearded old man, this one dressed in grey and sporting a blue hat. His keen eyes blaze above a busy beard, and he sizes the companions up as they pretty much barge in and pluck a mummified head out of their bag.
The grey man is introduce as Gandalf, the Grey Pilgrim, and a fellow Wizard and friend of Radagast. The name is familiar to some, but they know little about him. He, however, has been told all about them, and is fairly impressed by what he has heard. He’s only visiting, passing through on his way North, but is most interested in the mummified head they brought in.
The two Wizards confer as they prod and poke at the head, and reach a conclusion fairly quickly: this head has been subjected to foul sorcery, dark magic not seen in the land for many years. Whatever enchantment lay upon it has now gone, but Radagast will examine it further to see what link it may have to the recent happenings with the Orcs and outlaws.
In the meantime, Radagast wants the Company to attend the Folk-moot on his behalf, and sway the minds of the Woodmen to walk down the correct path in whatever decisions they have to make. He won’t elaborate further, merely saying if they follow their hearts they’ll know what to do. He also tells them that Ceawin the Generous is already here and has been asked for them. He shoos them out, turning his back on them as he and Gandalf continue with their tea and examining the mummified head.
Ceawin is housed in a guest hall, and welcomes the companions as they arrive. He is most pleased to see them, and wants them to put in a good word with the elders at the moot. He wants to unite his followers with the Woodmen, for mutual trade and exchange of knowledge. Dafydd Ap Alfred, Alberic and Wilibald Took convince him that mutual protection would also be a good incentive, and he agrees.
On the day of the moot, midsummer, mid-year, amidst a mix of festivities and trade, the elders discuss many mundane matters– trade, rumours, arming against raiding Orcs that are becoming a nuisance again– before moving on to more important matters.
Bofri makes a few deals with the Woodmen, asking for their help and support in re-opening the Old Forest Road and makes the offer to the Company as well. It is an ambitious endeavour, one that will take many years, but if successful it will make trade between East and West much easier.
Then the moot truly begins, with Amaleoda, Shieldmaiden of the Black Tarn up first: she announces that the people of Black Tarn wish to build a settlement on the North shore, raising a Hall where the river joins the lake, and welcomes any Woodmen who would settle there. Their harvests have been good of late, the fish in the lake are plentiful, and pestilent fogs from the South of Mirkwood have gone. It is a good time to build.
Next up, is Ceawin, and he speaks of the kin of the Woodmen in the East Bight, where the soil is fertile, and trade with Dale, Lake-town and Dorwinnion is within reach. They are already building a settlement there, and want nothing more than to be counted amongst the Woodmen, uniting together to share knowledge, skills and offer each other protection.
Ingomer Axebreaker, respected elder of the Woodmen, calls for silence as the Woodmen discuss the two offers, and raises his hand to call for a vote. But before he calls out, there is sound of a hunting horn, and cries from the gates. A bird flies down to Radagast, twittering about strangers at the gates. The elders, warriors, and of course the Company head to the gates to find a dozen riders approaching: they are well-armed, foreboding, and their weapons look well-made and well-used. Two large sacks hang from two horses.
“Only Woodmen and their friends are welcome here,” declares Ingomer.
The stranger removes his helm. “But I am a Woodman, by blood and birth. Don’t you recognise me? You called me Ingold, your son, though men now call me Mogdred.” Shaken, Ingomer sits down.
Mogdred address the crowd. “For many years, I was a slave in the dungeons of the Necromancer! Now I am lord of the place you call the Tyrant’s Hill, and I command many men.” He points his sword at Amaleoda. “You and yours would be long dead if it were not for our protection. Darkness returns to the forest, had you but eyes to see it. There are Orcs in Fenbridge, and shadows stir in Dol Guldur.”
A warrior in the crowd wants to know what Mogdred asks of this folk-moot. He responds with scorn, “A seat in the councils of the Woodmen, tribute from the Black Tarn, wives for my warriors, gold from the mountains. That stranger -” he points at Ceawin the Generous, “offered you trinkets and sweetcakes. My offer is of a more practical sort.”
His two followers up-end the sacks they brought with them. Dozens of Orc-heads tumble from them. “What say you?” he demands arrogantly. (Darkening of Mirkwood, page 15-16).
Always vocal, the companions make it known to all that these men are not to be trusted, that they attacked them and come from a place called Tyrant’s Hill. Not a name that conjures up friendship and alliances. The Woodmen are inclined to agree, but a vote is still called for.
Mogdred warns them that to reject his offer is asking for trouble, and threatens the Company. He also throws a bag of gold at his (allged) father’s feet: “Weregild to have Dagmar released”. Reluctantly they agree.
As the Woodmen discuss how to vote, the companions move amongst them, offering suggestions and advice, gently swaying opinion but generally just reinforcing what the Woodmen are already considering.
The vote is called: the Woodmen accept the proposals of both Amaleoda and Ceawin, and reject that of Mogdred. The Lord of Tyrant’s Hill and his Servants storm out, warning that they have not heard the last of him. He rides off with his men, and the Woodmen feel a chill as he leaves.
The following day, after bidding farewell to Ceawin and Amaleoda, the Company decide that they need to scout out Tyrant’s Hill to learn the level of threat it poses. They gather their gear and after planning their journey, they head South in search of their new enemy.
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.