19th Aston, 2498
Under the shelter of the trees a dull thump, like a muffled drum, can be heard. A thud, thud, thud, and the buzzing of flies attracts the attention of the companions as they lead their ponies along the bank. Ahead, just visible through the branches, a rowing boat can be seen, above which the crows circle. Gilthannas nimbly climbs a tree to get a better look over the area, while Dafydd Ap Alfred and Wilibald Took cautiously approach the boat, Alberic and Popo Took keeping watch.
In the boat are two dead men, pierced by black-shafted arrows, the arm of one man thumping against the side of the boat. They congregate around the dead, respectfully lifting the bodies out: both as Beornings, with well-made cloaks and travelling gear; each has a silver bear-head pin, and a sword lies still sheathed on one of the men. The other’s sword is missing. There is also some rope, cut and frayed, lying in the boat and provisions for another day or two’s journey. Wherever these men were travelling, they were escorting someone (a prisoner maybe?) and were close to their destination. The arrows are of orc-craft.
With Beorn’s Hall less than a day away, they lift the bodies onto the backs of their ponies, collected the gear, and head off.
When they arrive at the Hall, they find a pack of intelligent hunting hounds following them in, howling mournfully as they scent the dead men. Beorn himself sits in front of his house, whittling wood, and takes the grim news well all things considered. He ushers the companions into his Hall whilst a Beorning comes to collect the dead and stable the ponies.
Inside they impress Beorn with their words and deeds, and deliver Radagast’s message as well: he is interested in any news of Orcs in the area, after the [[Words of the Wise: Part 2 | Battle of Woodland Hall]]. Beorn tells them that there have been sightings of Orcs, and that he is none too pleased about it. He’ll deal with them if he comes across any intruding on his land.
The Company dine with him and other Beornings who come in, sharing tales of the dead men (Merovech and Odo, Thanes of Beorn and some of his most trusted men). The mood threatens to turn grim and sad, but then Alberic and Gilthannas sing tales of heroism about rescuing Hobbits and meeting the Elven King, and the mood lightens again.
They spend the night, and in the morning break their fast with Beorn, who has piled a dozen Orc helms on the table. He tells them that he went out last night, found some Orcs, slew them, and determined that there was a prisoner on the boat with Merovech and Odo, who escaped and fled. He was heading South along the river, and as a favour to him, he asks the companions to track down this prisoner and bring him back for judgement. They agree and politely decline the offer to attend the funeral, saying that they wish to give chase straight away and honour the fallen by completing their mission. Beorn is impressed, gives them his Blessing and some twice-baked honey cakes, and sends them on their way.
Over the course of the next few days the Company follow tracks and signs, chasing the prisoner along the river. They come across a dead Orc, slain by a fine-edged sword; meet an Old Man at a farm where a stranger spent the night; and exchange news with some Woodmen on their way to Mountain Hall, who tell tales of murder in the nearby village of Stonyford.
Upon approaching Stonyford, they are met by Hartwulf, Ava and Wiliferd, an old greybeard, his daughter and the village spokesperson, and their best warrior. They reluctantly welcome the companions in, although demand they hand over their weapons for the duration of their visit. The fact that they have been here before, albeit briefly, and are on a mission for Beorn helps ease their worries. As soon as they are welcomed in, they insist on holding a village meetings, and quickly learn that a murder took place several days ago, when Oderic murdered Rathfic, over some quarrel concerning Rathfic’s wife, Brunhild; the wife is absent, so they head to her house and interrogate her, seeing through her lies, and learning that Oderic was there only a couple of days ago, and that the murder may have been an accident fuelled by rage. She helped him steal a boat and cross the river, and he vowed never to return.
After a night spent at the village, they cross the river themselves early in the morning, and head off in search of Oderic.
End of Session
Current Date: 25th Aston, 2498.
XO Awarded: 1 each.