The One Ring: Fellowship of the New Alliance

The Black Barrow
Sessions 74-75

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8th Winterfilth, 2950 (Autumn)

The Company journey back to Bree and inform the Reeve that they’ve killed the troll (handing him the petrified head as proof) and tell Nick, Tom’s father, the bad news about his late son. He accepts their gift of a few gold coins, and tells them he is glad to see the end of the map and his brother’s legacy, as that map brought his family nothing but trouble. The companions don’t mention that they have the map, a lie that weighs heavier for some than others.

At the Prancing Pony they spot Gror the Dwarf, who they persuade to translate the runes on the map and find out that the map belonged to his brother, who was murdered by Timeas (so he says). He agrees to travel with them to the location of the late man’s treasure: the Black Barrow and they set off early next morning. They travel along the road east, then cut through the marshes, spending nearly a week searching for some buried ruins and an old stone chair that should lie near the barrow. They find it, lighting a fire as they rest for the night. Dafydd Ap Alfredsits on the chair and feels a pull towards a mound, suddenly overcome by sorrow. This mound, they discover, is the Black Barrow.

The following morning they open up the barrow and abseil down into the upper chamber, where old tools show previous visits, and old stone coffins stand by mostly looted treasure chests. Another stone in the floor opens to a flooded lower chamber, where more treasure is briefly seem glittering in their torchlight. Leaving Storr, Gror and Gilthannas atop the barrow, Grimgar and Dafydd hold the rope for a stripped naked Alberic who dives in, and begins to recover coins and artefacts of value.

Then the expected happens as Gror betrays them. A gang of brutes appear from behind a mound, spotted by the Elf, and as he alerts the others, the Dwarf kicks Storr down the hole, and swings his mattock at Gilthannas.

Dafydd tries to climb the rope, but in his haste he slips. One of the brutes rushes up to cut the rope, but Storr sticks him with an arrow, killing him. Gilthannas pulls out his sword and cuts another down parrying the blows of the others. Grimgar climbs on Dafydd’s shoulders and starts climbing up the rope; another brute tries to cut it, but this time Alberic (cold, wet and semi-naked) shoots him down.

Gilthannas finds himself outnumbered and wearied as the Dwarf and brutes turn on him, battering him back. Grimgar climbs out, takes a blow, but then impales a brute, flinging his corpse to the marshy ground. Gilthannas darts forward, slashing the throat of the last brute, but a blow from Gror sends him staggering, allowing the Dwarf to spring free, fleeing into the marsh.

They let him go, dump the bodies in the barrow, and let Alberic take another dive. He does so, feels spectral hands grasping his, pulls free and swims back. As he hauls himself on to dry stone, he finds an ornate Elven ring in his hand, something magical. They decide to leave the barrow, and after a rest, head back to Bree.

There they spend a couple of weeks resting, and prepare to seek out further adventure before Winter falls.

End of Sessions

XP Awarded: 2 each.

Fellowship Phase takes place

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Old Bones and Skin
Sessions 71-72

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4th Winterfilth, 2950 (Autumn)

After spending a cold, snowy night with the traveller they saved from the wolves (called Arbarad, a Ranger) the Company continue their journey to Bree stopping off at a rundown roadside inn along the way. When they reach the small town, Dindy and Longleg take their leave and attend to the business and selling and buying, leaving the Company to their own devices.

While staying at the Prancing Pony Inn, they hear gossip relating to the recent funeral of Timeas Heatherton (or Tim, to his family and friends) and his nephew Tomas, who failed to attend and was caught ransacking his late uncle’s house searching for something.

Then, Tomas bursts into the common room, terrified and claiming that he has seen a monster up in the graveyard. The companions offer to help, the patrons of the inn follow, and everyone traipses up to the graveyard. There they find that Timeas’ grave has been disturbed, and there are signs of something large having been moving around: however, any tracks that might have been followed are destroyed by the onlookers. Once it is obvious that there is nothing more to see, the crowd disperse and the companions quiz Tomas about what he was doing: turns out he was planning to dig up his uncle’s corpse looking for some treasure map. At that moment, Tomas’ father appears, and is persuaded to dig up the grave: Timeas’ body is missing!

Suspecting a troll may have been here, the companions wake the Reeve up and get permission to stake out the grounds, in case the troll comes back. Tomas stays with them, much to the frustrations of his father. Nothing happens that night, and the following day they search the house of Timeas (finding nothing) under the watchful eye of his brother. They manage to pry some more information: that his brother once ‘adventured’ with some bandits or robbers, but retired in his later years. He always found money when he needed it, and would disappear for a short time just before. The map was buried with his body, as his brother (Nick Heatherton) believes it to be cursed and wanted nothing to do with it. Burning it, he believed, would release some sort of evil spirit.

The next night, they stake out the graveyard as the fog rolls in. They spot a large creature, a troll they think, and manage to surprise it: it flees when they unload a few arrows into its hide. Under torchlight they track if South of Bree, before dawn breaks and they rest for a few hours before continuing. As the chilled Autumnal days shorten, they follow the partially hidden/covered tracks into the South Downs, and after a couple of days tracking come across a gully with a shallow cave. As the sun sets a large and very old Stone-troll lumbers out of the cave: they send arrows into its thick hide, and it flees again. They follow, losing it in the dark, but manage to find its footprints. As dawn draws near, a thick fog rolls in, supernatural, full of foul smells and shadows: soon everyone except Dafydd and Gilthannas are lost.

The Barding and the Elf come out of the fog into a steep-sided gully, filled with stacks of bones, teetering and tottering. At the far end, sitting on a stone seat and seemingly slumped in sleep, is the troll, just outside a dark cave. Then, Gilthannas spots a figure trying to sneak down the side of the gully: it’s Tomas! The foolish lad has followed the party and looks like he is trying to sneak into the cave, no doubt to find and take back the map he is obsessed with.

Tomas stumble, and the troll (only pretending to sleep) races to catch him: not quick enough to the Elf’s arrow, but then the lad is gripped tight in the troll’s fist and the great beast yells for the intruders to leave him alone, least he slays the boy.

At that moment, Alberic and Storr stumble out of the fog. Seeing the troll and Tomas in its grip, Alberic assumes the worse and fires off an arrow into the beast. It roars in pain and betrayal, and charges straight at them, ignoring the arrows that pelt him. He wades in, wielding a short sword that is just a knife in his thick hand, using Tomas as a shield, and battle is joined!

The troll proves a capable foe: it batters at the companions, managing to knock both Alberic and Storr out cold; but it is soon wearied, wounded, but before it draws its last breath, it tears Tomas in half and laughs. Then an arrow strikes it between the eyes, and the Elf’s bow rings with the kill.

They catch their breath, allowing time to Alberic and Storr to come round. They remove the troll’s head, bury Tomas with his Uncle that they find inside the cave, and loot what they can. Dafydd finds himself a new spear: ancient, the stave blackened and rune-carved, the blade a sharp piece of glistening obsidian.

Then the Company leave the area, find a place to shelter for the night, and sleep.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 3 each.

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Journey to Bree
Session 70

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5th Halimath, 2950 (Autumn)

Acting as caravan guards (as well as friends) for Dindy Brandybuck and his guide, Iwgar Longleg, the Company (including Grimgar and Storr, head off into the High Pass and begin their journey West towards Bree.

The weather is mild, the trees just starting to change colour, a cool breeze on their faces as the companions lead the ponies and carts along the twisty path, keeping an eye out for possible danger. On the second night they notice a campfire on the path behind them, maybe a couple of miles away. It’s there again on the third night, and on the fourth they decide to see if they are being followed by any dubious characters or maybe Orcs and Goblins.

Hiding behind a turn in the path, with the caravan a way back guarded by Grimgar and Storr, the three companions prepare to receive whoever is coming their way. Alberic climbs a slope and peers over to see a long figure heading their way, seemingly just another traveller. When the man turns the corner, he pulls up short when he sees Dafydd Ap Alfred and Gilthannas standing there, Alberic a short distance behind them. Dafydd hails the stranger, who introduces himself as Veylan, also known as Scarface, due to a terrible burn that has melted half his face away. He says he is merely a traveller, on his way West, and quizzes them about their own journey. He declines an offer to join them on their travel, and they allow him to pass first. Once he is out of sight, the caravan moves off.

They don’t see him again, even when they leave the mountains behind after nearly two weeks uneventful travel along the upper paths of the Misty Mountains. The land before them is largely flat and empty, save for a few rolling hills coming off the mountains and just visible in the distance. Dindy points to a forested hilly region not too distant, and tells them that’s the way they’ll be going, through the Trollshaws along the East Road that leads directly to Bree.

Along the moors they hike, until they reach the old East Road. Their journey is swifter on the road, and on their travels they see signs of an ancient kingdom: ruins atop hills, crumbling walls and stones where buildings and watchtowers once stood. The chill of Autumn is with them, and a cold wind blows across the land. They soon reach the forest and are stopped by a pile of trees that have fallen across the road. Upon closer inspection is looks like the trees were placed, despite each being long and thick, not so easy to move.

Cautiously yet as swiftly as possible, they shift the trees and continue on, finding a sheltered dell a good few miles further down the road. They pass the night without incident, although sometime in the night they hear a raised voice, cursing into the wind.

They pass on the Las Bridge, crossing a deep gorge, and continue on into the region Longleg says is the Weather Hills. A few more days and they’ll reach the inn where they’ll stop for a decent night’s sleep before heading into Bree.

It gets colder, an unseasonal cold. Snow falls, a breeze becomes a fierce wind, then a gale. Forced to find shelter, the Company spot a ruin atop a nearby hill: Longleg gives it a name “”/wikis/Weatherop/new" class=“create-wiki-page-link”>Weatherop“. They head towards it, and ”/characters/alberic" class=“wiki-content-link”>Alberic spots blood and wolf tracks on the ground. As they near the ruin, growls and snarls can be heard above the wind, and the sound of someone shouting wordlessly back. Leaving the caravan guarded by Grimgar and Storr, the others race up the path and come out into the ruins.

A long man, bloodied with a sword in hand, is fending off six wolves. Despite holding them off, it is obvious that he can’t do so for much longer. Dafydd Ap Alfred charges in, stabbing a wolf and announcing their presence, forcing the wolf to turn; Gilthannas takes out a wolf with a well-placed arrow, then another, as Alberic cleave one to the ground. Dafydd impales his wolf, and the man with the sword cuts one down, taking advantage of the distraction. The Elf finishes off the last wolf.

Alberic offers to tend to the man’s wound, and is allowed to do so. The man introduces himself as Arbarad, and offers to share his camp.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Beyond the Pale
Sessions 68 & 69

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11th Wedmath, 2950 (Summer)

A day or so from reaching their new home, the fort they have had built on the Old Forest Road the Company are hailed by two Grey Mountain Dwarves, Anar and Beli. They tell the companions that they are in need of help, as six of their kin have disappeared into the Pale Rider Caves and have not returned. No, correction, one did come out, shouting something about Orcs, but was struck down by an arrow in the back. They are too inexperienced and anxious to go in themselves, so it was fortunate that the Company turned up when they did.

Leaving Niping with the two Dwarves, the rest of the Company approach the chalky caves where Northmen of old used to dig for limestone. They find tracks of the Dwarves but nothing else, but they do identify the arrow that killed the Dwarf lying face-down on the ground as an Orc arrow, and Gilthannas is sure he can hear the sound of a wolf or warg inside the cave the tracks disappear inside.

Lighting torches, lobbing one ahead to light their way and reveal any enemies, the Company advances down the passage, weapons at the ready. They hear footpads disappearing into the darkness and then are surprised by a warg as it leaps out of the shadows over the fighters at the front, right into the Elf. He parries its jaws, and Grimgar impales it on his spear with a huff and a puff. He shakes it free without a word, and they advance deeper into the caves.

At a junction they find a cave-in, and follow tracks away from it, into dark passages. An arrow speeds through the air at one point, narrowly missing them. They continue, and are ambushed by two Orcs: one manages to flee after firing an arrow at the wall, but the other is felled by a swift retaliation from Gilthannas’ bow. They move on, and arrive at a larger cave. There are Orcs there, and one, their leader, tells the Company to surrender or else they’ll kill the Dwarves.

Thinking that the Dwarves are held captive by the Orcs in the cave, and not wanting to surrender to any damned Orc, the Company charge into the cave… straight into a flurry of arrows!

The Orc leader roars in the Black-speech, his voice echoing throughout the tunnels. Arrows pelt Grimgar, Alberic and Storr, and a Warg leaps over to attack Gilthannas again. He strikes back, forced to use his poorer sword-skill, whilst Dafydd Ap Alfred leaps into battle, forcing an Orc to back away.

The Orcs drop their bows and wield axes, battering at shields and blades, quickly wearying just about everyone. For a few moments it seems that their bold move was a mistake, but then the heroes turn the tide of battle: Grimgar and Dafydd impale Orcs, shoving their corpses off the spear-points, Alberic cuts one open with his axe, and Storr slashes open the throat of another. Gilthannas slays the wolf, picks up his bow, and takes shots at the Orc leader: the larger Orc has snake-like reflexes, dodging the arrows and blows from the others. He moves in to take on Alberic, his greater strength rapidly knocking the Woodman down, stunned and dazed to the floor. He parries blow after blow from Dafydd, ducks arrows, until Gilthannas manages to catch him put and sticks an arrow into his chest. The leader curses the Elf, and as more of his Orcs fall dead around him, he leaps over their bodies and flees through the nearest tunnel.

Leaving the last Orcs to the others, Gilthannas and Dafydd give chase, while Grimgar fells the last Orc and Storr tends to Alberic, using some of their Mirkwood Cordial to bring him around. As soon as he is up, they follow the others.

They soon lose sight of the Enemy, and narrowly avoid an ambush. Waiting for the others to catch up, Gilthannas and Dafydd then lose track of the Orc leader and the other Orcs he joined up with. But then they find the missing Dwarves: all dead, butchered by the Orcs.

Deciding to exit the caves, with most of them being weary, the Company slowly move towards the entrance, but go via the Orc cave, in case there is anything of interest there. Turns out the Orcs also returned then, and lying in wait, they manage to catch most of the Company by surprise: all except Gilthannas, who puts an arrow in the leader’s eye, killing him instantly. The other three Orcs quickly fall to arrows fired by Storr, Alberic and the Elf again, and the last by the spear of Dafydd Ap Alfred as he charges into their midst.

They search the cave, finding a map of the area that the Orcs have been drawing. They exit the caves, taking the two Dwarves outside with them, promising to send people back for the Dwarf bodies once they reach the fort. They get there without any trouble, send people back, and settle down for a few days to rest.

Once rested, Dafydd, Alberic, Gilthannas, Storr and Grimgar head off again. They travel first to Beorn’s House, updating him on recent events, then travel to the Easterly Inn where Dindy and Dody ask them if they would be interested in escorting a caravan to Bree. They agree, after a short detour to the Forest Gate where they hand over a sealed letter to an Elf (Lotho), a letter to the King telling him about a possible traitor in his realm. Duty done, they return to the inn, and a few days later are heading to the Old Ford with the Hobbit caravan, planning on travelling West to Bree for new adventures over the mountains, before returning home after Winter.

End of Sessions

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Buried Secrets
Session 67

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Midyear’s Day, 2950 (Summer)

Accompanying Radagast, the three companions take a lovely boat shaped like a swan down the river to The Black Tarn, where they stop and wait for the Brown Wizard as he ascends a hill and speaks to the eldest of the River-Maidens. He looks troubled when he returns.

“It is as I feared,” he says. “There have been stirring in the South of the forest these past few weeks, and how much that is to do with ”/wikis/mogdred" class=“wiki-page-link”> Mogdred and his men, or this Sorceress you nearly encountered, I don’t know. We’ll need to head to Dol Guldur and see if there is anything lurking there."

They head off, travelling across the Narrows of the Forest and skirting the land firmly under control of Tyrant’s Hill and into the twisted, gloom-ridden depths of Southern Mirkwood. It takes them ten days to reach the Fens that surround the ancient Elven ruin, and the gloom is upon them, the fog thick, mists of foul smells and deep shadows making it difficult to see far. Looming in the distance, a silhouette in the weak sunlight, the Brown Wizard points out the Fenbridge Castle, a fortress of Orcs. They avoid the bridges and islands that lead to the castle, and Alberic leads them safely through the marshes, taking their time, moving with as much stealth as they can. Three days it takes them, following a long route around the marshes, but eventually the ruins come into view. There is a haunting beauty to the former stronghold, much of its Elven design still plain to see. Marred by Orc-work. They camp outside, no fire, guards set and spend a cold night starting at shadows.

The following day, the sun all but hidden by the gloom and mists, they begin to explore the ruins. They cross the moat by the bridge, weapons ready, Radagast keeping alert for anything Evil stirring. Gilthannas looks about with his Keen-eyes, but sees nothing, and hears nothing other than the wind, There is no wildlife here. Passing through the gatehouse they find signs of occupation, but nothing recent, They press on, following the inner wall around to the inner gate, passing into the walls of the keeps, around to the gardens.

There they pause before the statues that watch them with dark eyes. It takes an effort of will to pass, but all do so without incident. Radagast sends the three companions into the High Keep, while he keeps watch.

Inside, Dafydd comes across a dead Orc, stabbed in the guts, only a few days old. The blade is Elven-made, from the Woodland Realm. They press on, looking for any signs of Evil or any documents, maps, anything that might tell them if there is something they should worry about. After a couple of hours they come across a heavy iron door, partially hacked apart, a lock freshly picked (days ago at most). Beyond are corridors with cells, dungeons, and a library hastily abandoned, manuscripts and scrolls scattered and trodden on. They gather what seems useful and intact, and while doing so spot a side room, which they discover another dead body inside. This is a Man from Lake-town, a gaping wound in his side, fingers outstretch to a grill in the floor. He’s been dead a couple of days. Aside from a few coins, which are the sort minted in the Woodland Realm, there is nothing much on him.

Down the grill, however, are blood-stained documents hastily rammed down out of sight. These turn out to be accurate (within a few weeks) documents and maps of the Woodland Realm, its military strength, passages in and out, all highly detailed.

They take the documents and head back outside, showing them to Radagast. “It looks like we have a spy or traitor in the Woodland Realm,” he says. “We’d best take these back with us”.

They leave immediately, taking their time to cross the fens and forest, and safely arrive at Rhosgobel a couple of weeks later. There Radagast heads them the documents, and asks them to take charge of them. He’s meant to be more an advisor and lore-master than getting directly involved, especially when it comes to the Elves, so he passes on the responsibility of what to do with them, to the Company.

Taking the documents, the companions rest up, then head off to their new holding on the edge of the forest, where their new home on the Old Forest Road awaits them.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

Current Date: 27 Afterlithe, 2950, Summer.

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Demon in the Tower: Part 5
Session 66

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The three companions and the rescued Elves decide to split the party: Gilthannas will head off to look for the others (Niping, Storr and Grimgar), while the others head out of the forest, heading South East until they are free of Mirkwood, then following the forest North to the East Bight where they’ll wait for the others.

They leave immediately, and Gilthannas heads back to the tower, following what he believes is the course of the stream they followed, using his memory of their twists and turns to cross the forest until the clearing comes into view. He then spends most of the day tracking down his allies, keeping out of sight of the additional guards on the walls. He finds them, just in time, as they were foolishly planning on a rescue mission. They pack their gear and begin the long journey to leave the forest.

It takes ten days for Alberic and Dafydd Ap Alfred and the Elves to leave the forest, a journey surprisingly uneventful. With help from the herbal teas Alberic manages to brew, by the time they enter the plains they are actually all rested and feeling pretty good, even the Elves. They head North, through rain and mud, taking their time to find a suitable path through the mire after several days of heavy rain. Less than a week and they arrive at the Hall of Ceawin, where they are welcomed. A few hours later, Gilthannas and the others arrive as well, weary but otherwise unharmed. They managed to come of the forest a few miles further up and, despite the rain and some tricky trails, they caught up to the others pretty quickly.

A couple of days at rest, then through the Narrows of the Forest and on to the Black Tarn, where they encounter Woodmen caught in webs and being harassed by giant Spiders. They lend a hand, shooting arrows into the trees, scaring the Spiders away. They help the Woodmen get free of the webs, bid them farewell, and a few days later everyone arrives safely back at Rhosgobel.

That night, Radagast calls the companions to him and they fill him in on what happened. He tells them that he has been consulting with Gandalf and they want to see if there are any other ‘surprises’ lurking in the depths of the forest. Any more spirits or Evil minions trying to fill the boots of the Necromancer.

Simply put, he wants them to accompany him to Dol Guldur. He asks them to meet him on Midyear’s Day, and they’ll travel together to the ruins to investigate and see if there is any Evil still lurking there or Evil Plans afoot.

They have a few days to rest and recover, but their allies are weary and in need of a much longer rest, and elect to stay in the town while they companions head off with the Brown Wizard. Haldir and the five surviving Elves bid farewell and return to the Woodland Realm.

The success of their mission and their safe return inspires renewed confidence in both Gilthannas and Dafydd Ap Alfred, while Alberic spends some time helping Radagast brew some more Mirkwood Cordial to take with them.

Midyear’s Day approaches, and the companions travel with the Wizard to The Black Tarn.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 3 each.

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Demon in the Tower: Part 4
Session 65

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As the company retreat back through the tunnels, the Orcs ahead follow cautiously, offering them a chance to surrender, so long as they give up the Elves. They ignore the Orcs and head up a tunnel that they hadn’t been before, coming to the other stairs leading to the dungeons above. Up there they hear the sound of more Orcs and Men hacking away at the door they blocked.

An idea comes to them: they hurry up the stairs, then back down the stairs they originally went down, hoping to confuse the Orcs following them. Back in the warrens, Gilthannas and Haldir are sent scouting ahead, whilst the others wait. The sound of the door being smashed open follows as soon as the two Elves leave, and the rest of the company ready their bows.

Haldir and Gilthannas turn the corner, and run straight into a trio of Orcs: the brothers strike fast, killing one of the Orcs before they have a chance to react and calling out a warning to the others. The other Elves advance, Alberic and Dafydd bringing up the rear; and as the other Elves reach the crossroads, more Orcs rush them from the darkness. At the same time, the sound of reinforcements coming down the stairs can be heard.

The Elves engage the Orcs as Alberic and Dafydd fire into the melee, taking down an Orc. One of the Elves staggers back from a deep cut from an Orc’s sword, and Haldir takes a blow to the head, bloodying his brow. Another three Orcs fall to the swords of the Elves, and the three companions take out one each, thinning their foes… and just in time, as six more Orcs and six more Evil Men race down the stairs. The Elves fell the Orcs fighting them, and the five of them and Alberic and Dafydd move around the corner, out of sight of the bowmen; but a few arrows fly just before they disappear, and Dafydd is winded when one hits him in the chest, his leather corselet deflecting a piercing blow.

They meet up with Haldir and Gilthannas, retreating as more Orcs emerge from the tunnels, and despite a few more Orcs falling to the ground bloodied and dead, their numbers are far greater. Alberic stands back, defending his allies as they manage to retreat further down the tunnels, felling an Orc long enough to follow. But then they run into more Orcs and are forced to fight. Gilthannas sends arrows flying, as does his brother and an Elf, their deadly aim taking Orc after Orc out; Dafydd leaps forward, impaling another; Alberic joins them in time to see a Man leading some of the Orcs and bowmen, and with a quick shot, sends him staggering back, long enough for Dafydd to fire an arrow into his chest, felling him. Elves and Orcs clash, Orcs fall back; Alberic decapitates an Orc with a single strike; Dafydd exchanges arrows with a bowman, and is the victor.

There is a moment when no enemy are engaged, although more Orcs and Evil Men are close at hand. Taking advantage, the companions and their allies, some wounded, all weary, beat a hasty retreat, heading south through the warrens, down into darkened tunnels, past caves used as store rooms, towards the sound of running water. They are a matter of feet, of steps ahead of the Orcs and Men, moments from being caught.

They emerge into a cavern partially filled with water, a stream leading away into darkness, another narrow tunnel sloping up. Orcs are coming from there and from behind; so, with little choice other than stand and fight, they wade into the water and squeeze into the tunnel the stream is coming from. The last of them slips through just as the Orcs arrive and start to follow.

For the next mile or so, wading and occasionally swimming through the stream, they struggle up the stream, gaining ground on the Orcs following them, grunting and cursing as they do. Twice Alberic, leading the company, finds himself fighting off giant rats that are living in the tunnels; the last time, one manages to dig its teeth into his chest, winding him, then knocking him down into the tunnel, where he hits his head and slumps unconscious. Only Haldir’s quick reflexes catch him before he is submerged, and the Elf behind manages to reach forward and impale the rat before it does any more damage.

They carry Alberic the rest of the way, but manage to leave the Orcs behind. They slip out of the tunnel, into the forest, where it is still dark, and out into a pool of stinking water that snakes away into the depths of the forest. Wasting no time, they hurry off into the trees, putting as much distance between themselves and the tunnel as they can before they need to rest.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

Elves freed: 5 Elves plus Haldir.

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The Demon in the Tower: Part 3
Session 64

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The undead warriors turn on their former allies, driven by a need to kill all living things. The three companions back off, and as Alberic and Gilthannasfire arrows into the midst of the warriors, Dafydd Ap Alfred checks the cells and finds them locked. He returns to the others as the last of the Men fall to the claws of the undead, who then charge at the three. The living and the dead clash, but the living win out, defeating the warriors just in the nick of time: as from the doorway where the two Orcs fled, the sound of more Orcs can be heard, and somewhere above, the sound of a hunting horn sounds.

Rushing to the open door, Dafydd and Gilthannas pull it shut and hold it tight, while Alberic heads off looking for the keys to the cells. The Orcs on the other side start pulling at the door, but for a short while the two companions hold it shut, giving Alberic the time he needs to find the keys hanging off an Orc’s belt in the guard room. He starts opening cells by the corridor where the fight took place, but those cells turn out to be empty.

Then, before he can go off to check the rest, the Orcs manage to pull the door open, and a dozen Orcs rush to the doorway, only to be blocked by Dafydd and his spear. One is impaled as it tries to push forward, and two behind it fall to the Elf’s arrows. Then the Barding swaps places with Alberic, and Dafydd takes the keys and goes looking for cells to unlock, while Alberic and Gilthannas hold the doorway, felling Orcs and fend off their blows.

Dafydd finds an Elf, then another, then he finds Haldir and frees them all, convincing them of his friendship and sending them off to join the others, arming themselves with the Orc weapons and Men’s bows. They join the battle, albeit weary and in need of healing. They send arrows flying into the midst of the Orcs and more fall.

As the last Orc falls, Dafydd hears the sound of axes against wood and rushes upstairs to see the door being hacked apart. They have a matter of minutes before more Orcs are through. He and the Elves free the rest, and with seven Elves and Haldir, he leads them back to Alberic and Gilthannas. They drag benches into the room where the Orcs came from, where stairs lead below. They barricade the door as best they can and head down into the warrens below, taking torches with them.

Below the tunnels twist and turn, and as they come to a crossroads, they are suddenly ambushed by two-dozen Orcs who swarm them from all sides: one Orc knocks Dafydd Ap Alfred back, but he manages to stab one through the heart as he staggers to his feet. Another Orc falls to an Elf’s arrow, another to Haldir’s blow; more fall to Gilthannas’ bow and Dafydd’s spear, arrows fly, but a couple of the Elves are taken down, and everyone is feeling the strain of the fight.

Holding together, the allies manage to retreat back into the tunnel they came from, the Orcs close on their heels…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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The Demon in the Tower: Part 2
Session 63

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As dusk lengthens into night, Grimgar, Storr and Niping find themselves being hunted through the thick forest. Their pursuers, a mix of Orcs and Men, know the surrounding forest well and easily pick up their tracks, and soon they are closing on the three allies. They stand their ground, and in the initial clash with the enemy one Orc is impaled on Grimgar’s great spear, and another two fall to the Dwarf’s mattock and the sword of Storr.

The fight is brief but savage, and all but one of the enemy are slain. One man flees back to the tower, but the Dwarf, Beorning and Lake-towner are weary and retreat further into the forest seeking a better place to hide.

Meanwhile, back at the tower, the three companions, unaware of their allies plight, venture out of the parlour and onto a balcony that overlooks the ground floor and main entrance. Two armed Men stand guard below, stairs curving down to meet them. Another set of stairs leads up, and Gilthannas quickly scouts ahead, finding a corridor and large set of doors, but no signs of life. They decide to had down instead, and ambush the two Men from the balcony, ending their lives with well-placed arrows.

They locate a door and stairs leading down, tuck the two bodies out of sight, lock the door behind them, and descend into the dungeons of the tower. They spy iron doors that are likely cells, hear voices nearby and scout out a guard room in the middle of the cells. While Alberic stands guard in the corridor, Dafydd Ap Alfred and Gilthannas surprise the Orc guards, taking them out swiftly; but not swift enough, as they cry out in alarm and their cries are heard, not to mention the sound of a frantic fight. From further down the corridors Orcs and Men arrive, led by a Man and a large Orc who are obviously in charge. One of the Men knocks one another door as they pass, and someone inside opens the door.

The companions are both skilled and lucky, sending arrows into their foes before they can advance: the large Orc leader is felled by an arrow between the eyes, a perfectly aimed shot from Dafydd; the leader of the Men follows him down, as Gilthannas sends an arrow deep into his heart. Another staggers under an arrow from Alberic, and the Elf finishes him off.

But now the Men retaliate: several charge towards Alberic, others fire arrows in his direction. He is knocked back, stunned, and an Evil Man pushes past him intent on getting the Elf. That Elf just cuts him down. On the opposite side of the dungeon, the Orcs facing Dafydd turn and flee, and he heads up to join his friends. He sees the Orcs throw open a door, revealing stairs heading down, and the Orcs disappeared out of sight.

From the opening door an old man and four undead warriors come forth. The old man barely has a chance to assess the situation when Dafydd takes him out with an arrow to the chest. The warriors advance regardless, but the fight is firmly going the companions’ way… for now.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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The Demon in the Tower: Part 1
Session 62

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25th Aston, 2950 (Spring)

After spending a few days at Rhosgobel, waiting to see Radagast, the four companions are reunited with Grimgar, who is now acting as thane of Beorn and trading honey for medicinal herbs, and a representative from the Grey Mountain Dwarves, Niping the Proud. He is acting as an ambassador to the Woodmen, but with a background of wandering as a trader, he is looking for opportunities to make friends and gain favours. While resting, Storr finally gets through his depression and finds life to be lovely again.

One morning at Rhosgobel the Company learn from a recently returned Radagast that one of the Elves ( Tawar by name) that accompanied Haldir has been found, near-death stumbling about in the forest. Upon waking he asked for Gilthannas, and has word of his elder brother.

When they last saw Haldir, back in the Spring of 2948, after the battle at Woodland Hall, he had set out to investigate rumours of a Sorceress occupying Demon’s Tower , at the southern edge of the forest. On their journey there they spied on Mogdred and his men, skirted the borders of the Fen Marshes, and fought Orcs and Spiders that they came across.

When they reached the tower they had barely begun to scout out the area when a sizeable force of Orcs and Men ambushed them, killing many Elves, but capturing most. Those they captured were taken down into the dungeons beneath the tower and thrown into cells, kept there for weeks, given just enough to keep them alive. Haldir kept their spirits up, but one-by-one the Elves were taken away, upstairs to see the Sorceress. None returned. Despite the temptation to end their lives, Haldir remained convinced that an opportunity to escape would present itself, and his men were loyal enough to stay with him, even though they were weary and suffering.

One day, when their jailers came for another Elf, they made their move: for some weeks the Elves had been clawing at the bars, weakening them enough for some of the Elves to break free. These Elves fought the Orcs, but they were too weak to do more than delay the inevitable: but they were able to distract them long enough for Tawar to escape, on Haldir’s orders, and he fled through the tunnels, managing to evade the Orcs and Evil Men long enough to reach the courtyard. There he raced past the great tree that stood in the yard (a diseased willow, stained black) and evaded blows and arrows long enough to scale the walls and leap to the ground below. Tawar took an arrow in his shoulder as he leapt, broke a leg when he crashed to the ground, but kept conscious through sheer force of will and disappeared into the forest.

He has spent weeks making his way to Rhosgobel, slowed by his wounds, wearied and unarmed. He avoided capture only by hiding and waiting out his pursuers; came close to death when he stumbled into a nest of Spiders, but managed to fight them off with nothing more than a heavy branch. Nearly broken, poisoned, his wounds infected and slowing him greatly, he eventually made it to the river before he collapsed and was found by the Woodmen.

Tawar begs the companions to help his kin, to rescue them from the clutches of the Orcs and this Sorceress. He doesn’t know how long they have left, as there were only a dozen Elves left when he escaped. They were being taken away one at a time every week or two, so time is of the essence.

He knows no more, and in the night, his wounds too grave, he passes peacefully in his sleep.

Naturally, Gilthannas wants to rescue his brother and fellow Elves, and the others agree. Radagast tells them he can help, first by giving them some of his mirkwood cordial, but also by brewing up a concoction using some of Gilthannas’ blood, which will act as a guide to where Haldir is imprisoned. This brew the Wizard pours into a glass vial, worn on a leather throng around the Elf’s neck. It glows whenever it points to his brother, and will glow brighter the closer they get. The companions are joined once again by Storr, but also by Grimgar and Niping, both eager to do good deeds; Grimgar owes them, and Niping is hoping they will owe him.

That night they plan their route and decide to cut across the Narrows of the Forest to the Hall of Ceawin the Generous, then skirt the forest until they are in line with where Haldir can be found: then they’ll cut through the twisted, tangled mess of Southern Mirkwood and locate the tower known as Minas Raug. Once they get there, they’ll figure out the rest.

They set off early next morning, six companions of the New Alliance, crossing the sparser forest between Rhosgobel and The Black Tarn, taking three days to travel to the Narrows. The going is easy enough and without trouble. From there they head off East, towards the East Bight, taking 11 days through the twisted thickets and trails, avoiding any signs of bandits from Tyrant’s Hill. When they reach the Hall of Ceawin, they are welcomed as friends and rest for the night. The next day, refreshed and with suitable rations, they skirt the edge of the forest, travelling easily across the grass wild lands, without incident or meeting a soul. Six days later the concoction points straight West, and they decide now is the time to enter the forest, and spend the next 13 days struggling through the thick, tangled, dark intense forest. There are no signs of life, no trails or paths to follow, nothing to hunt, little to drink. The journey is tiring, and the weight of the forest is felt as the glowing brew gets brighter and brighter.

On the 13th day Gilthannas is certain they are near. Scouting ahead, Alberic and himself locate the tower of Minas Raug just after nightfall. A stone tower topped by iron spikes and stained glass, surrounded by a wall with numerous towers, patrolled by Orcs and Men. The concoction points directly at it, and glows now as bright as a candle. They find a sheltered spot to spend the night, set guards, and sleep restlessly.

In the morning Gilthannas and Dafydd Ap Alfred scout out the area, looking for possible ways in other than the main gateway. They find only windows in the tall tower, some of which are large enough to fit through, if someone can climb up the wall of the tower. Fortunately, the stone blocks it is made from have seams that would handholds for a climber, although the ascent would be hard. They return to the others and decide that the windows offer the best chance to get inside. They wait until dusk, move around to the North side of the tower, where the view from the walls is limited, and make their move.

First, Gilthannas sneaks across, followed by Dafydd. As soon as the Barding is there, the Elf climbs up to the window, making the ascent look easy. He listens at the window, hears nothing, sees no lights or movement, and manages to open the latch using his knife. Inside is a parlour of rich fabric and expensive furniture, a single door leading out. It is empty of life. He ties off a rope on a heavy table, lowers it down and signals Dafydd to follow. They wave to the others, hiding in the forest, and as the Barding begins to climb, Alberic makes his way across the clearing, up the slope of the hill, to the tower wall without being seen. He too climbs the rope and joins his friends in the parlour.

Then Grimgar starts across. For someone use to hunting, he is surprisingly clumsy and manages to kick stones and stumble as he scrambles up the hill. He knows he has been seen as arrows start flying towards him: one strikes him with enough force to wind him, and he staggers back down the hill, retreating to the forest and the others, not wanting to draw attention to those already inside.

In the courtyard there are cries of alarm, shouts for guards, and a voice calls out: “Don’t forget: if there are any Elves, don’t kill them, don’t eat them, and bring them back alive!”

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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