The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

The White Statues
Session 20

forest.jpg

9th Wedmath, 2947 (Summer)

During the night Ceawin regales the companions with the joys of living in the East Bight, telling them how the land is rich and fertile, and how uniting his people with the Woodmen on the other side of Mirkwood would benefit everyone. They are thanked by the East Bighters for their help, and in the morning they head back to the settlement where they are treated to a feast and are welcome guests in Ceawin’s Hall.

While there, Wilibald makes a few contacts for the Hobbits burgeoning trade enterprise, and they discuss the possibility of opening up a trade route through the Narrows of the Forest, and how they can benefit from that. Ceawin asks if they would put in a good word for him and his people at the Moot next summer, and the companions agree.

The next morning they head back into the Narrows, finding an old trail to follow, and travel back to Rhosgobel. Along the way, as the Summer days draw to an end, and the first signs of Autumn are visible, they find themselves travelling through a portion of the forest where ancient ruins peek from the undergrowth, signs of days long past. Crows lurk here and fill the sky with their black wings and caws, scaring away prey when Gilthannas goes out hunting. The crows and the ruins wear heavy on the companions, and they are fairly miserable by the time they leave the Narrows behind and eventually reach Rhosgobel.

Back safe, they cheer themselves up with drink and food, before Radagast comes to find them. They deliver Ceawin’s reply, and the Wizard hands them over some coins left by the Elders to reward them for their help. Also, he tells them that he has found the probable location of the final piece of Wolfbiter. According to his Eyes and Ears, the last piece was in possession of an Orc, last sighted in the area of Western Mirkwood where White Statues can be found. He gives them directions, and after spending a few days to rest and recover from their journey through the Narrows, they head off along the edge of the forest, up to Old Forest Road, as Autumn falls.

After a week of pleasant travel, they turn off and start down the old Dwarf-road, over the overgrown path, leading their ponies. It is slow-going, as the terrain is tricky and they have to backtrack and find new paths when the trees get too thick or the ponies can’t walk further; along the way, Dafydd scouts out a potential campsite: a ruined farmstead all but consumed by the forest. He approaches it carefully, seeing if it is safe to shelter in, but there is a Darkness to the ruins and a deep sense of foreboding. He turns away, and they find another, safer, place to camp.

After a week’s travel, the leaves beginning to fall around them as the days grow slowly shorter, Gilthannas ends up trying to catch a particularly cunning deer that keeps eluding him. Elven pride gets the better of him, and he pursues it for most of the day, tiring and still failing to catch it. Eventually he gives up and returns to the others, and they have to do with hard biscuits for their evening meal.

Soon they reach the spot where they turn North; into the deep forest, now searching for the White Statues, which are meant to be a couple of days journey into the trees. After a day of hiking, dragging their ponies along narrow game trails, a voice calls out to them from ahead:

“Hail strangers, what brings you deep into the forest?”

A Man steps out, a Woodman, dressed in hunting gear, but not hostile. He introduces himself as Geirbald, an outlaw who lives in the forest with his men. They talk and are pleasant enough, and the companions invite him to camp with them and exchange news. He agrees, and they make camp together. After they tell him where they are going, he offers to send a guide with them, if they will help him out by keeping an eye out for one of his men who has gone missing near the statues. They agree, and he whistles loudly, drawing another Woodman from the trees. He introduces him as Holdwine, one of his outlaws. He’ll guide them to the statues and wait for their return, hoping that they will come back out with the missing man or at least some news of him (his name, Geirbald tells them, is Erland).

The next day they head off with Holdwine, and before the sun sets they come across a life-like statue of a noble-looking woman, standing serenely and looking out into the forest. Holdwine goes no further, telling them that he believes it to be a haunted place. They make camp outside the area after a preliminary search reveals more and more statues scattered throughout the trees, all life-like, some serene, others frozen in terror or posed to fight something unseen. The area is eerily quiet and unsettling. Alberic can’t find any sign of an Orc or Wolfbiter, nor tracks to follow, and as the sun sets and the forest grows darker, they camp for the night.

In the morning, in the grey dimness of the forest, they begin to explore and search. Statue after statue they examine, looking for any sign of the missing piece, Orc or Erland. They find nothing at first, and as the day wears on and afternoon draws on, Dafydd stumbles upon a low mound with a cave leading inside, a sloping passage descending into darkness. From below he can hear the sound of something snoring or breathing heavily, and a musky smell wafts from inside, accompanied by the trickling sound of water, perhaps a small underground stream.

And outside the cave mouth is the statue of an Orc, posed in terror, arms raised as if warding something off. His hand is shaped as if holding something and a finger is missing, broken free; he held something, and someone (or thing) broke it free.

Popo Took volunteers to sneak inside and investigate: he stealthily slips inside, finding first a cave with two lizard-creatures chained to the wall of a cave, both seemingly asleep and snoring; then a passage leading to a larger cavern, where water flows into a pool, another passage looks blocked by rubble, and a ridge up to a shallower cave: inside there, are half-a-dozen Goblins, an Orc amongst them, sleeping on furs. A large sack rests by them, open with a few coins spilling out. A fire burns low, roasted boar sizzling on a spit. As Popo looks about, seeing more statues strewn around the cave, the Orc comes awake and staggers to his feet, and starts to rouse the others.

Quickly, Popo sneaks back to the others, managing to get back out without being spotted, and reports all that he has seen.

End of Session

XP awarded: 1 each.

View
Message to the East Bight
Session 19

corpse-woods.jpg

29th Afterlithe, 2947 (summer)

After defeating the sludge-corpses, the companions search the bodies and the pile of debris and find a few coins and semi-precious stones, as well as some more interesting items. Dafydd finds a heart-shaped ruby in a thorny-vine cage, on a fine silver necklace of twisting vines, crafted in the First Age by the Elves of Beleriand (worth 80 treasure.); while Popo comes away with a ruby brooch cut to resemble a raven, by a smith of Westernesse, for a King of the North, once of the Faithful who called himself the Raven King and ruled over settlements in the North of Mirkwood, before he met his death at the claws of the Werewolf of Mirkwood (also worth 80 treasure). Alberic pulls out a pair of elven boots, which he cleans up. These turn out to be a pair of wondrous artefacts: a sturdy pair of Elf Boots that come from the Halls of The Thousand Caves, these boots give the wearer good purchase over even the most difficult terrain, and ease the feet of the burdens of long journeys (Blessing of Travel); while Wilibald manages to pull a shield from the sludge, with runes carved along the obsidian-edged rim. On the shield is a carving of a hammer striking an anvil, on which a sword is being forged, traced in silver and gold. It weighs practically nothing and fits the Hobbit’s arm perfectly, but carrying it feels like a burden on his soul, and he feels a deep sorrow from the shield. Still, it is a beautiful shield, reinforced, Dwarf-made. He discards his small buckler in favour of the new shield. Gilthannas finds nothing exciting, and settles for the coins and semi-precious stones.

They swim back to the shore, using ropes as before, and once everyone has dried off and recovered their gear and ponies (and had a spot of lunch), they begin their next mission: to deliver the message from the Elders of the Woodmen to Ceawin the Generous, chieftain of the settlements in the East Bight.

They turn South, into the Narrows of the Forest, where the trees are less crowded and old trails are found, but there is a sense of foreboding about the land. Alberic finds his new boots to be a blessing while travelling, easing the weariness of the journey; furthermore, they seem to guide him to clearer paths, and at one point they come across an old Elven flet that they manage to climb up to and spend a restful night in the trees. Their journey through the Narrows is without incident, despite the feeling that they may be ambushed at any time. They reach the edge of the forest several days later, and spot the smoke of farmsteads and a hamlet ahead. Sheathing their weapons and approaching shortly after dawn, they make their way to the largest of the dwellings they can see.

9th Wedmath, 2947 (summer)

Gathered by the largest dwelling, a well-constructed large Hall, are a dozen men and women being directed by a blond-haired Man who is telling them they will leave shortly, as soon as the arms and provisions are handed out. The crowd part as the Company approaches, and Dafydd introduces them, asking to speak to Ceawin as they have a message from Woodland Hall. The blond-haired man is Ceawin, and he tells them that he is in the middle of a crisis at the moment, but after they offer to help out, he listens to them as he prepares his men.

A herdsman, a boy actually, called Hordin, has disappeared into the Corpse Woods chasing his sheep after they were spooked; his brother raised the alarm as soon as he did not return, so Ceawin and his men are heading out to find him. The companions offer their help, telling Ceawin of their skills and prowess, and he agrees, gladly accepting. He also passes on his reply to their message, that he will indeed be there at the Moot next midsummer’s day, to talk to the Elders about uniting their Halls; but first things first, they must find the missing boy.

They waste no more time and head off at a forced march and a jog, hurrying across the open land to the woods in the South, reaching them shortly as the sun begins to set below the forest. There they spread out, Ceawin guiding the Company as they begin to search, lighting torches to keep the darkness at bay. Alberic and Dafydd discover tracks leading to a barrow, with an ancient and twisted yew tree atop it, webs around in the surrounding trees, sheep snared. In the trees they can hear the scuttling of spiders.

The other searchers find their way to the same place, following sheep tracks, and as they see the footprints of the boy leading up to the tree on the barrow, spiders are spotted emerging from the trees; giant Attercops moving in to attack.

“Go, find the boy and bring him back safely,” cries Ceawin. “We’ll hold the spiders off”.

The Company head up the mound, and disappear into the narrow passage that leads beneath the tree to the interior. There lies the boy, out cold on a table of stone, the roots of the tree surrounding him like a cage and reaching out as if to grab and embrace him. The rest of the chamber looks empty.

Alberic takes out his long-hafted axe and swings at the roots, but only digs deeply into a thick one; before he can do more than pull the axe free, something pulls itself out of the dirt and leaves and roots: a Man-shape, formed of dead leaves, roots and dirt, strangling claws reaching out, a Wood-Wight. Only Popo isn’t caught unawares, but can do nothing as the creature moves in to attack.

Wilibald finds himself in its way, and continues to harry it as they other converge and start to hack and stab, arrows piercing its bark and grime; Popo tunnels his way under the root-cage, and manages to lift the boy from the table, dragging him out of the cage as the others manage to beat the wight back to the wall, and finish it off with a final arrow in the head from the Elf.

They hurry out, Dafydd slinging Hordin over his shoulder. Outside, a dozen spiders are attacking and the Company wade straight into the battle, cutting half-a-dozen spiders down by themselves; a gap opens large enough and long enough for everyone to retreat, which they do, safely and without injury.

After they retreat to a safe distance, the Men of the Easy Bight and the Company make camp, and settle down for the night.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 for Alberic, Dafydd and Wilibald; 1 for Popo and Gilthannas.

View
Grotto of the Lost
Session 18

grotto.png

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.

View
Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 3
Session 17

goblin-hall.png

With a shout for help, the Orc races down the tunnel, staggering in his drunkenness. Dafydd and Alberic chase after him, Gilthannas close behind. They come into a cave lit by fire-light, to find a crude kitchen set up: fire-pit, goods from the caravan, and Dindy himself chopping potatoes and looking rather surprised to find the companions chasing after an Orc. The Orc is tackled to the ground by the Barding, who bashes the Orc’s head into the stone floor, knocking the foul creature unconscious.

Another tunnel leads off, and from there Orc voices call out. “Tell them you dropped a pan,” Alberic tells Dindy, and the companions drag the Orc away, leaving the Hobbit to lie to the Orcs that come up the tunnel and query the noise they heard; they fall for the Hobbit’s lie, and head back. The companions return, after trussing and gagging their captured Orc, leaving Wilibald to guard him (as the Took brother is close to exhaustion and still wounded).

Dindy, it turns out, is busy preparing a feast for the Orc chief and his gang, on pain of death. He fully suspects that he’ll be the pudding, Hobbit-Pie or something equally gruesome. Worse, Dindy is chained to the wall with a chain with an intricate lock that proves beyond the companions skills. “I’m sorry to say, but the chief has the key around his neck,” the captive Hobbit tells them. “And I must get on, as this feast won’t cook itself.” No sooner as he spoken, when a loud Orc voice, in broken common, shouts out for him to hurry up, as they’re starving!

It is quickly decided that what they need to do is somehow drug the Orcs, putting them to sleep maybe. With his knowledge of herbs, Alberic suggests a few ingredients that might help, and with Wilibald’s cooking skill, they help Dindy prepare several courses laden with soporific herbs (valerian root, hops, and passion flowers for garnish) ; heavy meals, accompanied by strong ale and even stronger wines. As the companions wait out of sight, Dindy puts up with Goblins that have dressed in his fine clothes (bursting waistcoats, too small cloaks, socks worn as gloves) that come in to take away the courses. After a couple of hours, it goes quiet and loud snores echo along the tunnels.

The companions edge out, and Alberic and Dafydd disguise themselves as Orcs as best they can, and the Barding peeps around the corner and spots the two Orc guards at a junction, bottles of wine and chicken legs in hand. They tell Dindy to draw them in, while they hide amongst the crates and barrels, ready to ambush the enemy. Dindy calls out for help moving a barrel of beer, and the unsuspecting Orcs come in: the ambush is ruined when Alberic knocks over a jar of pickles, but in the opening volley, Gilthannas takes one out with a flurry of arrows, leaving the other for Alberic and Dafydd to take down.

Next, they explore the tunnels, Popo taking lead, and soon find empty Goblin dens, and tunnels that all lead to a large cavern, where the Goblin’s Feasting Hall stands: inside, around and slumped on large trestle tables, are two dozen Goblins and Orcs, with the chief sat in a stone throne at the end, wearing a crumpled top hat crammed on to his head. All of them are snoring loudly, food smeared across faces, bellies full. Another pair of Orc guards, still standing but dozing and leaning against the wall, are by the end of the table where the chief sits; and around the chief’s neck, a key on a chain.

They dress Popo up as Dindy and use him to distract the dozing Orcs away; they are lead into a successful ambush, and are quickly dispatched. Then, with everyone else placed in tunnels for a quick exit, Gilthannas creeps into the hall, quiet as a Hobbit, up to the chief and gingerly lifts the key off the chain, pocketing it as he quietly retreats, all without waking anyone up. They all head back to where Dindy is chained, free him, gather what goods they can salvage and carry, and then use the rest to block the passage. They set it alight, leave the captive Orc behind, and hurry off into the tunnels, hoping to get away before anyone can follow them.

A few hours later, tired and burdened, they exit the tunnels and make their way back to the Ringfort, where the caravan guards have managed to gather the lost ponies and put the goods back together as best as they can. They waste no time (it being early evening) in packing their beds and heading off down the pass, putting as much distance between themselves and the Goblin tunnels as possible before they settle down for the night.

Their journey back to the inn is thankfully uneventful, and the summer days long and pleasant. After ten days of fairly easy travel, they return to the Easterly Inn, much to the delight and joy of Dody and Agatha, who are overjoyed to find Dindy alive and well.

The Company spend a week with the Hobbits, resting up, recovering from their wounds and ordeal, and enjoying the daily feasts and hospitality of the Brandybucks. On the morning of a bright summer’s day, they bid farewell to their friends and head South, towards Rhosgobel, in search of new adventures.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

View
Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 2
Session 16

ringfort.png

26th Forelithe, 2947 (Summer)

Battle of the Ringfort

Surrounded by Goblins and Orcs, the Company hold the Northern path against Goblins wielding jagged knives, while larger Orcs advance from behind, bent swords and spears raised to slash and pierce.

orcs.jpg

As Alberic and Dafydd hold the path, Wilibald races over to help his brother, while Gilthannas continues to send arrows into the enemy. For a few minutes all seems to be going their way, when suddenly Goblins and Orcs swarm over the earthen ramparts, forcing the Company to split their forces to deal with the threat. Dafydd skewers a Goblin, and Alberic kicks one back; Popo and Wilibald combined their attack and fell the Goblin that had the audacity to wound the Took. Wilibald then races to the ramparts as an Orc clambers over; straight into the King’s Blade the Hobbit wields; another Orc is transfixed by an arrow, as the Elf shoots into their midst. Alberic too takes out an orc, a sweep of his long-hafted axe decapitating the creature. Dafydd, not to be out done, stabs another Goblin in the face, killing it as it clambers over its dead kin.

More Goblins arrows sail through the air, nicking and cutting the companions as they stab and slash and pierce; more of the enemy fall at their feet, demoralising the Goblins as their larger Orc brethren are cut down.

Across the other side, their allies are holding their own, felling Goblins and another Orc; but then another Goblin breaks through and charges straight towards Popo; the Hobbit spins around, blade leading, and cuts the creature down in its stride. He then is shocked to find another four bursting out of a small cave, where thick thorny bushes grew; they find an Elf suddenly amongst them as Gilthannas leaps over the head of Popo and into their midst; two of the Goblins break off, one whacking Dindy over the head, and the other grabbing him; they carry the Hobbit off into the tunnel, leaving the other two to defend it; one falls to Popo’s own King’s Blade.

The last Orc falls to Wilibald’s sword; but then the Orc Leader leaps over the ring, and bears down with his spear onto the poor Hobbit; the spear pierces Wilibald’s chest, sending him to his knees; but he is made of sterner stuff than anyone suspects, and holds his own as the leader tries to pummel him to the ground. The Hobbit is saved as Alberic, having felled his last opponent, charges in, axe swinging, and cleaves the Orc in twain.

The remaining Goblins break off and flee; one falls to an arrow from Gilthannas, but the others escape, taking Dindy with them!

Iwgar joins them, and as soon as the Company say they are going after the Hobbit, he hands them some torches and tells them he’ll keep the caravan safe and gather the ponies if he can. He’ll wait as long as he can before they carry on out of the pass, and wishes the Company good luck.

The companions, wearied and near exhaustion in many cases, head off immediately after Dindy. They track the Goblins to a nearby cave, that turns into a narrow, twisting tunnel that descends beneath the mountains. Distantly, the sound of Goblins singing can be heard, something about stewing the Hobbit. They hurry after them, but soon lose them in the tunnels; Alberic locates the tracks, and they rest for a short while to catch their breath and tend to the Hobbit’s wounds. Feeling slightly better, they carry on.

The journey through the dark tunnels takes most of the day, torches flickering out as they transverse the underworld. However, the Goblins left easy tracks to follow, and eventually they come across voices and a flicker of fire-light. They douse their own torch and sneak forward, spying two drunken Orcs bickering by another passage entrance.

The Company tries to ambush the Orcs, but even in their drunken state, the Orcs are watchful and spot the companions are they try and sneak up; a volley of arrows takes out one Orc, but the other one remains standing, takes a look at the companions lurking in the shadows, bows out, and moves towards the tunnel he guards…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

View
Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 1
Session 15

easterly-inn.png

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!

ringfort.png

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.

View
The Wizard's Man: Part 2
Session 14

hound.jpg

28th Thrimidge, Spring, 2947, evening

Dagmar and the Servants of Tyrant’s Hill have gone ahead, out of sight. Alberic realises that they are off the beaten track, and that they’ve been lead astry, and it looks like they’ll have to make camp soon, or force march through the night to reach Rhosgobel. Wilibald scouts ahead, and finds the warriors nearby, seemingly waiting for the Company to catch up to them. A boggy expanse of land, almost hidden in the thick forest, lies ahead, blocking the path. He sneaks back and tells the others, but before they can decide what to do, Dagmar comes back with one of her men, as well as the hounds that always follow them.

“Why tarry?” she asks. “I thought you were in a hurry; which is a shame, as we’ve come across some boggy land and will have to go around. As the day is drawing to an end, we’d best make camp here.”

That doesn’t sit well with the Company, and Dafydd point blankly refuses to join their camp, and the others agree that it would perhaps be best to continue on, through the night. While the Barding keeps her talking, refusing to listen to her even when she spells out the possible dangers of camping alone in the woods, and that there is safety in numbers, Wilibald sneaks off again, and finds the other five men and their hounds getting ready to fight; shields are unslung, helms donned, swords are drawn. Popo, meanwhile, edges away towards the ponies, where Beran sleeps draped over one of the more sturdy ponies.

Dafydd pushes Dagmar too far when he accuses her of being untrustworthy, and that he fully expects her and her men to try and take Beran by force; turns out he is right, as Dagmar shrugs, gives a hearty whistle to signal her men, and draws her sword before the companions can react. She swings hard at Dafydd, the blow as he parries her blade making his arms ache; her hound leaps at his ankles, biting down but manages to not draw blood. Her warrior-in-arms goes straight for Alberic, swiping out low, which the Woodman just barely parries, the blow forcing him back a step. Behind them, Gilthannas draws his bow, and sends an arrow flying at the Servant, drawing a thin line of blood across his arm.

Dafydd and Alberic turn their attention to Dagmar, and between them, they bash her sword aside, knock the shield from her arm, and club her into unconsciousness; a swift kick sends her hound off into the forest. Her ally screams for the others to come, and slay them, believing his leader to be dead, and attacks Alberic in a frenzy, knocking the Woodman back and tiring him out from the parries. Dafydd jabs the shaft of his spear in the man’s guts, winding him, and leaving him open for an arrow to the throat, as the Elf shoots him down.

The Hobbits, meanwhile, are also busy. Popo disappears in the forest with the ponies and Beran; while Wilibald distracts the other warriors for a few moments, by shooting a warning shot across their path and hurling a stone into the undergrowth on the other side from where he hides. They might have been delayed longer, but the shout for vengeance from their brother-in-arms spurs them on, and the five men and their hounds burst out of the trees, attacking savagely as they see Dagmar and their fellow warrior lying on the ground.

Such is the ferocity of their attack, that both Dafydd and Alberic are knocked to the ground, beaten into unconsciousness, and even an arrow from Gilthannas does little but attract their attention. Then Wilibald charges out of the undergrowth, stabbing at their ankles, and a moment later his brother comes charging out from the shadows between the trees, standing over their fallen comrades as the Servants of the Lord of the Hill turn their attention to the two Hobbits; while the Elf fires arrow after arrow into their midst.

The battle seems to be going against the companies at first, the flurry of sword blows and snapping teeth quickly wearying Popo; Wilibald, small and elusive and fast on his feet, manages to dodge blows and teeth with surprising ease. The Elf takes out one man, then a hound; Wilibald moves into to protect his brother, and stabs another warrior in the chest, sending him crashing to the ground. Another hound falls, then Popo stabs one of the men, and an arrow transfixes him before he can raise his sword again. He collapses on top of his fallen comrades.

The battle suddenly turns. Their initial frenzied attack has worn the Servants out, their blows more laden and slow; the Hobbits dodge and duck, the Elf shoots another hound as it leaps into the air, then an arrow takes out the next to last man; leaving the final man to fall to Wilibald’s King’s Blade.

Popo rouses his companions, and Dafydd and Alberic come round to find themselves surrounded by dead men, Dagmar, it turns out, is alive but unconscious. They truss her up and gag her, retrieve Beran and the ponies, and with guards set throughout the night, they make camp after burying the dead as best they can.

The following morning, weary but alive, they head off. Beran wakes a short while after, and tells the Company that he was out scouting for Radagast, but was captured by Dagmar; he escaped, was pursued, stumbled into some webs and got bit by a spider, and then staggered upon the companions. If it wasn’t for them, he expects he’d be dead; and he is in their debt.

When the Company arrive at Rhosgobel, they are welcomed and Radagast is sent for. He is overjoyed to see Beran safe and well, troubled by the news he brings, and grateful for the help the Company provided. They remain guests in the settlement for a week, resting up and asking Radagast about Wolfbiter. The Brown Wizard says it is a powerful heirloom, best reforged with its other pieces, and by a dwarf-artisan. Since they saved Beran, he agrees to send out his ‘eyes and ears’ to find the missing pieces, and to let Alberic know where they are located. Then it will be up to them to find and retrieve the shards, and have them reforged.

In the meantime, they have his patronage, and his gratitude. Before the week ends, he even finds an old Woodland Bow, which he had stuffed away in an old cupboard and has no further use for. He hands it over to Gilthannas, asking him to treat it well.

As the week draws to an end, with the Summer months ahead, a message arrives for the Hobbits. It is from Agatha Brandybuck of the Easterly Inn, and she is worried about her husband’s brother, who has not yet returned from his trip to the Shire for more trade goods, including the Pipeweed for the Took brother’s enterprise. She wants their help.

The Company agree to help, and the next morning they bid farewell to Radagast and Beran, and head off into the woods.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.
Gained: Radagast as a Patron.

View
The Wizard's Man: Part 1
Session 13

servants-tyrantshill.jpg

28th Thrimidge (Spring), 2947

After leaving Woodland Hall, the Company follow the Dusky River for several days, before turning off into the forest and heading to Rhosgobel. On their journey they come across a patch of cultivated land, where mushrooms are growing. Alberic recognises it as farmland belonging to Old Master Worm-Friend, who spies them trying to pilfer some of his mushrooms and sets his dogs after them; but they manage to run away, laughing, before the dogs cause any harm. As a bonus, the two Hobbits manage to grab handfuls of mushrooms as they leave, and they have a nice mushroom stew that night.

A couple of days out from the settlement, as they pass through a tick tangle of the forest, they hear a disturbance ahead and ready their weapons. A man comes stumbling out, pale and sickly, strands of webs hanging off him, clutching something tightly in his hand. He collapses at their feet, but not before mumbling for help.

Alberic and Dafydd Ap Alfred rush to his side, and spot the wound where a spider bit him. Between the two Men, they staunch the bleeding and bind the wound. Alberic also recognises him as Beran, one of Radagast‘s agents. The poison will keep him unconscious for a day or two, but he’ll live.

Then, more noises from the forest, and the barking of dogs. Six armed warriors move into view, lead by a woman with a grim look. Their shields and helms are on their backs, their swords sheathed, and they stop as they see the Company surrounding the fallen man.

dagmar.jpg

“Hail strangers,” says the woman. “I am Dagmar, and in the name of the Lord of the Hill I demand you hand over that man to us. He is a thief and my Master wants justice.”

A short and tense conversation follows, with the Company refusing to just hand him over, and Dagmar and her men refuses to go away. They reach an agreement, reluctantly, and Dagmar and the Servants of Tyrant’s Hill agree to go with the Company to see Radagast, who they hope will make a decision on what to do. They send the warriors ahead, not trusting them one bit, and with their hounds, the six Servants hurry on through the woods. It is not long before they are lost to sight, moving quicker than the burdened companions. As soon as they are out of view, the Company stop, fully expecting an ambush ahead.

While they decide what to do, they take the piece of parchment that Beran had clutched in his hand (swapping it for one of the Letters of Introduction they got from the Dwarves, in case he is searched later) and find that it is a map, showing a tower and a fortress. Tyrant’s Hill is scrawled next to the tower, with a question mark. The other has the words “Orcs” clearly written. Popo Took pockets it, and they look out into the forest, and wonder what their next move should be.

End of Session

XP awarded: 1 each.

View
On to Woodland Hall
Fellowship Phase

Woodland_Hall.png

25th Aston (Spring), 2947

The Company, still accompanied by the merchant and his son ( Baldor and Belgo), leave the Easterly Inn and spend over a week following the river South, spending a night in a barn at The Old Ford halfway down. The weather turns worse when they leave, heavy rain soaking them through. Thankfully, Alberic finds a path that takes them under some trees for shelter, allowing a brief respite, which helps keep them from all getting too weary.

Soon, as the weather grows pleasant and warm again, they arrive at Alberic’s home of Woodland Hall and settle down as guests of his family. The Woodman asks around about Wolfbiter and learns that it was last seen in the hands of the lost son of Ingomer Axebreaker one of the respected Elders of the village. He is pleased that even a shard of the famous axe has been recovered, and a feast is held with the companions as guests. Alberic shares some of his wealth with his family, the Elders and earns himself a reputation as a noble and generous Woodman. He enquires about reforging the axe, and is directed to Rhosgobel, to speak to Radagast.

They spend nearly a month amongst the Woodmen, honing their skills and reflecting on their experiences. Dafydd Ap Alfred shows off his expertise with his spear, and helps Wilibald Took practice his own weapon skills. Meanwhile, Wilibald shows his brother Popo Took the Hobbit Art of Disappearing, and Gilthannas spends his time sending messages and gifts off to his kin, increasing his own reputation amongst the Elves, while also reflecting on recent experiences, showing great wisdom in his dealings with the Woodmen, and feeling a renewed sense of hope from being amongst them. Alberic, while unable to find someone to reforge the axe in the Woodland Hall, spends some time having his shield reinforced instead.

During the weeks, the two Hobbits take a trip back to the Easterly Inn and arrange for the payment and delivery of some Shire Pipeweed, establishing a few contacts and networking with traders, creating a little side-business that Agatha Brandybuck, her husband and brother-in-law, will keep running while they are off exploring and adventuring in Wilderland.

When the Hobbits return, the Company bids farewell to Baldor and his son, thank Alberic’s family for their hospitality, and are bid good journey by the Elders. They load their ponies, grab their gear, and head off early the next morning, heading South along the Dusky River towards Rhosgobel to seek help from the Wizard.

End of Fellowship Phase

View
The Hermit & the Thing in the Well
Session 12

well.png

The storm hits close to midday, turning the air chill and dark. The downpour rattles the leaves, and soon rills and streams from the rain are forming and gushing along the path, down the trees, dripping from the leaves and branches. The wind picks up, howling through the treetops, and dead branches are blown or washed loose, falling down to the ground. The ponies are skittish, Belgo looks scared, and everyone huddles in their cloaks and will soon be soaked if they don’t find shelter.

Thankfully, shelter is at hand: just off the main path, lies an old tree, hollow and huge. A tunnel leads inside, and a thin plume of woodsmoke issues forth. Suspecting trouble, Wilibald sneaks up and peers inside, finding little more than a bed of leaves, a campfire, and some dubious looking meat on a spit. There’s no one home, although whoever lives there can’t be far away. He tells the others and after announcing their honourable and unthreatening intentions (“We just seek shelter, and mean you no harm”, shouted out to the surrounding forest), they tie up the ponies and cover them as best as they can, and after leaving Wilibald on watch, hidden amongst the trees, the rest of the Company, Baldor, Belgo and the two Dwarves are crowd inside and warm themselves by the fire.

Not long after, the watchful Hobbit spies a figure approaching: an old man dressed in rags, carrying a crude spear; a hermit of sorts. He follows as the hermit slithers inside, and cries out in shock and alarm as he finds over half-a-dozen bedraggled strangers in his home. He initially threatens them with his spear, demanding to know who they are and why they invade his home, but soothing words from Dafydd settle him down, and when the companions dig out food and fresh water, the hermit is befriended. He has no name (“Don’t need one, do I? There’s only me here, no one else”), and talks about a rising Shadow in the woods; has a dislike of things ; and hides here, away from the darkness that he hears creeping about at night.

Dafydd introduces the companions, and also calls himself ‘Name-Giver’ and promptly gives the hermit a new name: Wood-Friend. This pleases the hermit, who then hands over a shard of metal to Alberic, saying that these things hold the darkness if kept for too long, and he has no need of this. Alberic sees runes and symbols carved on the shard, and recognises it as a piece of an axe, the famed Wolfbiter, which belonged to the son of a Woodman chieftain who lost it when he was taken by Orcs. Alberic accepts the gift and declares that he will try to have it reforged and made whole.

They spend the night, the storm passing around midnight, and in the morning (after trying and failing to persuade the hermit to join them), they leave the hollow tree and continue their journey.

The day wears on, warm and stuffy after the storm. The Company starts to feel drowsy after the morning, and Belgo complains about being hungry and tired. They refuse to stop, worried that something doesn’t quite feel right, and stop Belgo from wandering off as he mutters about hearing his mother calling him. Then Balin shouts out “Gloin, I can hear Gloin” and before anyone can stop him, the Dwarf is rushing through the trees. Oin, Alberic and Gilthannas give pursuit, Wilibald following stealthily, while Dafydd stays with the others.

Up ahead, several dozen yards off the path, they stumble upon a hole in the ground; an old well, just a ring of stones marking it as such, overgrown with vines and moss. Balin slips and tumbles, falling down into the hole with a yelp and a thud. He groans, and his pursuers race up, peering over to see the Dwarf lying on a ledge about ten feet down, stunned. Further below, the well ends in a mass of vines of roots, with the glitter of gold, silver and possibly gems in the detritus.

Then the vines unfurl and starts to reach out to where the Dwarf lies; more rise out of the shaft, and feel their way towards the others. Wilibald and Oin quickly pull out a rope and start tying it to a tree, while they call for Dafydd to hurry over to join them. The Barding reaches them just as Alberic and Gilthannas find themselves fighting off vines, and Wilibald climbs down to help Balin, Oin holding the rope, as another vine moves away from the fallen Dwarf and lashes out at the Hobbit.

The battle against the vine-lasher is a tough one. While Gilthannas pelts it with arrows from a safe distance, the others fend off lashing vines, get caught up and strangled, and while they manage to drag Balin out, Dafydd finds himself losing consciousness as the vine chokes him. Thankfully, Alberic manages to cut the vine, and after numerous blows and hacking at the plant, the vines retreat back into the well, slithering into the darkness long enough for Alberic to sling the Barding over his shoulder; they hurry back to where the others wait, and as soon as Dafydd regains consciousness, they head off down the path until they are a safe distance from the Thing in the Well; there they rest.

The Company spend a watchful night on the Elfpath, keeping guard in pairs. They head off at dawn, eager to leave the forest, and are almost out, when another night almost spells trouble: a day away from the Forest Gate, they are sleeping in a small clearing within sight of the path, Wilibald on guard, when hundreds of black butterflies swarm down from the trees, buzzing and humming a soothing lullaby that keeps everyone sleeping, and cause the Hobbit to drift off. They awake suddenly only when Popo swallows a butterfly and wakes up choking; the swarm, smothering the party and covering them head-to-foot take to the air and swiftly disappear into the trees, leaving them all feeling even more tired than before. Somewhat weary, they spend a restless night before breaking camp and heading off. The rest of the journey, on past the Forest Gate, skirting the Elfwood, and making their way to the friendly reception of the Easterly Inn is uneventful, and it is with a sense of relief that they take rooms at the inn and spend several nights resting.

Balin and Oin take their leave on the second day, heading off to complete their mission, gifting the companions with silver and their gratitude. Baldor and Belgo, now getting on again after Baldor’s memories return more or less complete, gladly pay the Company and are pleases when they suggest they all continue on to Woodland Hall, where the merchant is heading. There they can rest a while, and Alberic can see about getting the axe reforged.

On the morning of the fifth day at the inn (the 25th of Aston), after Agatha tells the Hobbits that if they are interested, some Shire Pipeweed will be coming in on the next caravan, the Company pack their bags, load the ponies, and head off towards Woodland Hall.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.
Treasure Gained: 3 each.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.