25th Aston, 2498
After crossing the river, the Company soon finds sings of Oderic’s passage: the stolen boat is found a mile downstream, hidden amongst some reeds; boot prints only a few days old lead off towards woodland in the distance. They follow the tracks throughout the day, camping quietly and peacefully as night falls, picking up the trail again in the morning. In the afternoon they come across signs of a campfire, along with the broken blade of a knife that matches the one on Beorn’s men. On they Company travel, and on their third day out from the village, on the outskirts of the forest known locally as the Wolfswood, a place a favourite haunt of outlaws and wolves.
There the keen-eyes of Gilthannas spot signs of a fight, several men against one, who was captured and dragged off into the woods. They follow the tracks inside, and see signs of a larger body of men: tracks, felled trees, a lack of game about, smoke on the wind, and soon a faint murmur of voices muffled by the trees.
The rest of the Company settle down to hide amongst the leafy green, while Wilibald Took sneaks off to scout ahead, and soon finds himself looking down upon a sprawling camp of ill-made huts and lean-tos, bivouacs and ditches. Outlaws, their women and children, stray dogs, all mingled amongst the trees, many of which have been felled to build and fire. He spots patrols, and spies Oderic by the main tent in the centre, where a large and fierce looking man holds court. Being small and elusive, the Hobbit sneaks into the camp, hiding in the shadows and behind trees, listening to the rough voices: he quickly learns that they are led by a would-be King of the North, a man called Valter the Bloody, who has led these Southern Men here, promising them riches and land once they invade Wilderland. Oderic, it appears, is his guest, but it is obvious to Wilibald that he is also a prisoner, guarded and shadowed by a grim looking man bearing all the trapping of a Trapper and Hunter.
There are roughly fifty able warriors, nearly two hundred outlaws in all, including all the family and hangers-on that came with them. They are preparing to march to war, but only Valter knows where they’re going.
Wilibald goes back and tells the others, and they discuss– at length– what to do: in the end they decide to abandon their mission for Beorn and head to Stonyford to warn them, fully expecting that is where the outlaws are going to attack first. They leave immediately, setting off on a forced march to get ahead of the outlaws by as many days as possible. It tires them, but they are getting used to travelling, and in a couple of days they reach the village.
Dafydd and Alberic convince Ava and the other leaders to evacuate the village, taking everyone and as much as they can carry up to The Old Ford, escorted by all the Company except Gilthannas, who is sent off to Woodland Hall to warn them and ask for help. He heads off as they village empties, and the others make their slow way up following the river, taking several days to reach the Ford. There they send one of the Beornings off to warn Beorn, while sending the villagers off to Beorn’s House where they hope they’ll be safe.
In the meantime, Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred, Popo Took and Wilibald Took head back to the village, and after a couple of days they come in sight of the village, and see that the outlaws are already there and have been for a day or two, already fortifying it and occupying the few houses. They briefly scout the area, counting fifty warriors, give or take, and head back to the ford.
There they find Gilthannas together with a dozen Woodmen, and word that Beorn is coming with an army of Beornings, two days away.
The Company waits and starts to plan their attack on the occupied village of Stonyford…
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each for Alberic, Dafydd and Wilibald.