The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

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24th Afterlithe, 2947 (Summer)

The Nameless Fellowship are taking tea with Radagast, after travelling to his home of Rhosgobel, where he tells them that he has located the missing pieces of Wolf-Biter; one is not too far away, just on the Eastern shore of The Black Tarn. There lies an underground grotto, reached only by swimming down to a tunnel.

To find the grotto, he tells them to summon the eldest River-Maiden, known by Men as Duskwater, who can guide them to where the grotto lies. To call her to their aid, he recites an ancient poem that they must use as dusk falls, reciting word-for-word, for her to heed their call.

As they get ready to depart, he suddenly calls them back, and also asks them if they’ll deliver a message for the Elders of the Woodmen? The message needs to reach Ceawin the Generous, chieftain of those that live in the East Bight, which is more or less on their way. The Elders will rewards them when they return with Ceawin’s reply. The message: that they will listen to his plea to unite his tribe with the Woodmen of the Western Eaves, at the next Moot on Midsummer’s Day the following year. The Company agree, and the next morning they head off on their journey through the dense thickets of Mirkwood, Alberic guiding them through the forest.

During the course of their second day travelling through the woods (a mostly pleasant journey at this time of year), Gilthannas heads off to hunt and spies a deer between the trees. He tracks it as it moves into some old ruins, some ancient estate with fragments of walls and a crumbling well. The deer leaps over a low wall, skips over the well, and the Elf hurries off in pursuit, narrowly avoiding the well, and landing a perfect shot that fells the deer. The Company eat well that night.

A couple of days later, they reach the shore of the Black Tarn, and as dusk falls Alberic stands by the shore and recites the poem:

Through Forest I Make My Way, Until the Dusk Sets in the Day,
I Call to You From Shore of Black.
Across the Mirror of the Night, Where the Sun Does Not Light,
I Call to You From Shore of Black.
River-Maiden, Heed my Call, Where Shadows Do Not Fall,
I Call to You From Shore of Black.

A few minutes later, there is a splash and then a comely maiden with dusky black hair and pearly white skin, emerges from the water, her legs hidden beneath the surface of the lake. She looks at the Company with clear green eyes that have seen decades slip by and addresses them cooly: “Who are you to call upon the Maiden of the River?”

Alberic stumbles over his words as he introduces them, firstly by the Nameless title of their Company, then introducing each individual after the Elf points out that she’s asking for their names, not that of the Company. Dafydd doesn’t make matters much better as he plies on some flattery that falls on deaf ears, but as they explain why they are there and who sent them, she nods and reluctantly agrees to guide them to the grotto. She in fact wastes no time in doing so, diving under the lake and transforming swiftly into a silver trout, before swimming along the shore for nearly a mile, the night settling in all around them.

Then she stops and rises from the lake once again. “The grotto you seek is down there,” she says, pointing to a darker shadow beneath the water. “A short swim to a tunnel. I wish you luck.” And with that, she disappears and is quickly lost to sight.

The Company camps for the night, and as dawn breaks, they hide their packs and ponies nearby, and unfurl some rope. Alberic takes the ropes and swims down, finding a narrow tunnel that twists and turns for nearly thirty feet before he breaks the surface of the water and finds himself in some underground passage. He manages to loop the rope around a rocky protrusion, then swims back. Then, having stripped of their armour and weapons (and tying them to the ropes, to drag behind them afterwards) they swim down the tunnel, mostly with ease, although Dafydd tires a little.

Once they are all in the passage, they dry themselves as best they can, don their armour and equip their arms (having hauled them in using the rope) and the Elf manages to work some magic and light a torch. Dafydd takes it, and explores ahead, finding the passage snaking away and opening up into a wider space, with three further passages leading off. These turn out to lead to the grotto, a damp and dripping cave with stalactites and stalagmites forming a teeth-like mouth to a ledge thick with sludge and pools of water. At the rear is a pile of debris, driftwood, bones, rotting fish, as well as what glitters like gold and silver coins, maybe a few gemstones hidden amongst the mud.

And there, sticking out of the top of the pile, is the broken shard of an axe. Wolfbiter.

Gilthannas notices something else. In the walls and on the floor of the ledge are bodies submerged in the sludge, dead Men fixtures of the grotto. Dafydd clambers up and stabs one with his spear, the head squelching into the corpse’s rotting flesh. It has no effect, but an awful sucking, slurping noise is followed by a breath of decay as he pulls the blade free; it sickens his spirit and he sags a little.

With Dafydd standing on the ledge, and Gilthannas, Popo and Wilibald amongst the columns, bows at the ready, Alberic makes his way along the sludgy walls towards the pile and the protruding shard. He reaches out for it, and as quick as he can, he yanks it free with a wet sucking sound.

And that’s when the bodies in the sludge pull free and reach out with clawed hands; one is knocked back by a flurry of arrows, but it immediately gets back up, a red hate in his dead eyes; a feeling of dread spills out and echoes throughout the grotto, sapping the spirits of all but the Barding, who merely clenches his teeth and jabs at one of the dead men with his spear; he skewers it and as he pulls it free, the corpse’s arm is ripped free. The creature still stands, reaching out with its remaining claw.

The others engage the enemy, stabbing with swords and spear, swinging axe and shooting arrows; the sludge corpses are staggered and torn, limbs ripped free and guts spilled; but just as they seem to fall, the creatures seem to pull themselves together and stand again; but thankfully, only for a short while, and it seems that the torch wielded by Dafydd makes them shrink away; one-by-one the corpses fall apart, one clutching at the Barding as it does, almost dragging him into the wall; the last one standing then grabs Alberic, who tries to struggle free but it pulled towards the wall. Gilthannas grabs the torch and thrusts it into the monster’s face, burning it away, and with that, the last of the dead men falls, leaving nothing but sludge and guts and dead flesh scattered all around.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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