17th Forelithe (Summer), 2947
At the Easterly Inn the still nameless Fellowship are being wined and dined by Dody Brandybuck, whose wife, Agatha, asked the Company for help. His brother, Dindy, was meant to be back from trading in the Shire and Bree, and his caravan should have been here by now. Delays are common enough, but the Hobbits are worried that something has happened and that further delays would mean travelling in the colder autumn months, or even in winter, if the delay is serious. They hope it is nothing more than delays due to difficult terrain, or shortage of goods they were waiting to replenish, but if the Company can track the caravan down and bring Dindy back safely, Dody will reward them with bags of silver and such hospitality as only a Hobbit can offer: all through Winter, if they wish.
Feeling partly obliged due to their kinship with Wilibald and Popo, they agree and in the morning, their ponies laden with extra rations and gear, they head off under a pleasant summer sun, travelling easily down the river, for several days, until they reach The Old Ford, where Dafydd Ap Alfred persuades the Beornings guarding the ford to let them spend the night in an old barn, trading stories and food and drink. From them they learn that there are rumours of Orcs and Goblins once more are plaguing the High Pass and they vaguely remember Dindy on his travels to the Shire last Spring, but have not seen or heard anything of the caravan since then.
The next morning, they pay the toll and cross the ford, and head off down the worn and ancient Forest Road, skirting boggy land and fallen stones from old ruins. The days remain pleasant, though tiring walking along the rough road, and as night falls a strange comes out of the dark and is welcomed into their camp. No one asks his name, or give theirs, and the well-worn and smelly travelled takes more than his fair share of food and ale, but rewards them with information when he starts smoking a pipe and the Hobbits recognise it as Longbottom Leaf from the Shire. When pressed he tells them he bought it off a Hobbit a couple of days ago, up in the pass, but that it will be a miracle if they survive; for the Orcs and Goblins are active again, and the pass is no longer as safe as it has been these past few years.
Spurred on by the warning, the next morning the Company eat a hasty breakfast (the Hobbits moan about the lack of a second) and head off into the foothills, coming to the beginning of the pass as the sun sets. There lie ruins of an ancient and long forgotten town, little more than crumbling stones and old paths, and a square with low walls that may once have been a town square or market place. Remains of other camp fires are found, but nothing else; no sign of the caravan, no tracks. A babbling brook winds by the ruins, the water fresh and chilled. Mist rises as the darkness sets in, swirling around the rocks.
During the night, as Dafydd Ap Alfred stands watch, the Barding sees movement in the mist, a figure moving towards them with sinister purpose. He moves about the camp, waking the others, keeping an eye on the shade. He loses sight of it, but Gilthannas with his keen-eyes makes it out as it moves closer, and calls out to it. Whispers sound all around them, voices carried on the mist. The Elf looses an arrow, which flies through the air and smacks into… something. With a wail, that something charges from the mist, a dead thing clutching a long barbed spear, a Night-Wight possessing the corpse of a long-dead Northman; the creature darts past the others, and lashes out with its spear, catching the Elf a glancing blow that makes him stagger back a few steps.
Popo Took and Wilibald Took leap up and slash at it with their King’s Blades, but the blades seem to pass through it without any effect. Alberic too swings with his axe, but the creature dodges to the side, straight into Dafydd Ap Alfred‘s spear, which tears into its flesh, sending a shower of dead meat and skin into the air; he stabs it again, sending it spinning into the Woodman’s axe, bones cracking under the broad head; it staggers as an arrow flies from the Elf’s bow, shattering its arm and shoulder, and with a final blow, Wilibald strikes its head own its neck, sending it rolling to rest at the feet of his brother.
Its power spent, the Wight falls to dust and broken bones.
The Company burn it, and spend a restless night until the sun breaks over the mountains and warms their spirits. They head off into the pass, taking the easier route along the old path, assuming the caravan would come this way. A few hours later they come across footprints, made by Orcs, and later a pony grazing at some tough bushes, a Goblin arrow sticking out of its flank. It wears the remains of a harness, and an empty sack that smells strongly of pipeweed. Alberic tends to the pony’s wound, and they bring it along.
As night falls, with the hills rising all around them and the mountains starting to press in, they spy a bonfire on a nearby hill and hurry towards it. The two Hobbits scout ahead, and are relieved to find the caravan, or what remains of it. There are four men and a Hobbit, none other than Dindy himself, alive! The others are waved up, and together they head to the hill; as they do so, Gilthannas catches sight of movement in the growing darkness: there are Goblins all around them, approaching slowly, three dozen at least, wolves amongst them and some larger Orcs.
They are welcomed warmly by the caravan members: Dindy, tired and scared; Iwgar Longleg, the caravan’s guide and veteran warrior; wounded but determined; and three others: Andy Blackthorn, Bill the Bowman, and Tom Lumpyface; all armed but not warriors by trade. Iwgar quickly fills them in: Orcs attacked them, over a few nights, growing in number. Last night they lost ponies and goods, but managed to escape; now a larger force has caught them, but he got the caravan here to this defensible Ringfort, where he has lit a fire, set Dindy to keep it lit, and was about to split his men between the two paths up: now he and the men can cover one, and the Company can defend the other. If they can hold off until dawn, or force then enemy to flee, then they will survive.
The Company get into position just in time, as a large Orc calls for them to surrender; he is answered by an arrow from Gilthannas’s Woodland Bow, and then battle is joined!
The Goblins swarm up the paths, Orcs following behind in the dark. Wolves skirt the edges of the hill, and archers fire a flurry of arrows inside, nicking and catching the defenders. As the enemy charge up the paths, Gilthannas and Dafydd take out one of the Goblins with their bows, and Alberic’s arrow knocks a helm off one; he then chops off its head with a swing of his axe as it draws into range; Dafydd winds another with a blow from his spear, and the Elf skewers one as it clambers over the dead; one Goblin stabs as the Barding, but his mail takes the blow instead.
Then, from the other side, a shout goes up as a Goblin breaks through the defenders and rushes into the fort; straight to where Dindy and Popo Took stand. Dindy ducks, terrified, but Popo stands his ground; but only manages to make himself an easy target, as the Goblin lashes out with its jagged knife, and cuts a line of red across the Hobbit’s chest, wounding him!
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.
Wounded: Popo Took.