25th Winterfilth to 22nd Blotmath, 2946
After spending some time resting in Stonyford, the Company are approached by Lodin, a merchant who trades in wines, spices and occasionally silks. He hires the Company to escort him and his brothers, Varr and Brand, and their caravan through Mirkwood and on to Lake-town; hopefully arriving in time for the first Gathering of the Five Armies, the fifth anniversary of the battle that freed Wilderland from the Shadow.
After some negotiation, the Company agree and payment is arranged for when they safely reach Esgaroth. [3 points of treasure per companion]. The leave that morning, heading North along the banks of the river in pleasant weather. After six easy days of travel, they arrive at an inn; the Easterly Inn. There they meet Agatha Brandybuck, who turns out to be a distant relative of Wilibald and Popo Took; a great Aunt or second Aunt, twice-removed, they’re not quite sure. She welcomes them with open arms, and that night everyone enjoys a relaxing and entertaining evening, with wine and fine food.
Songs are sung (badly), riddles told (poorly) and gossip shared. Rumours of goblins in the forest and disputes between Men of Viglund and the Beornings are rife, but nothing substantial. The evening draws to an end, when Gilthannas sings a beautiful Elvish song of ancient times and places, leaving everyone feeling nostalgic and happy. They sleep well that night.
In the morning they head off, leading the ponies around the borders of the Elfwood, and on to the F orest Gate. There the arched entrance looks like the archway to a tunnel, such is the dimness beneath the eaves of the trees. All is quiet as they approach the gate, but then suddenly a pair of Elves materialise from the trees and stand beneath the arch, blocking the path.
The two Elves introduce themselves as Amroth and Guilin, who recognise Gilthannas, and are known by him as Wayward Elves; prone to mischief and carefree fun. They inquire as to why the Company are travelling this way, not overly impressed when Dafydd and Wilibald do most of the talking, and help Gilthannas with his own words. They sneer at the others, but allow them to pass freely. The two Elves disappear back into the trees, laughing at some private joke.
The Company enter Mirkwood and travel along the Elfpath, slowly and carefully, watching their footing and guiding the laden ponies over the rough terrain. The path is obvious, more or less, and while clear from overgrowth and webs, it twists and turns and sometimes becomes steps over ridges and gullies. The going is slow, but at least there is a path to follow.
After a few days the forest becomes as dark as a cave, the trees looming overhead and so close you can reach out from the path to touch them. The odd shroud of webs can sometimes be seen in the trees, but nothing close to the path itself. Food and water are scare, and soon rations and wine become the main source of nourishment. The days stretch into weeks, the forest beginning to feel like a long tunnel deep underground, and the journey starts to wear on the companions and traders.
The journey is made more difficult as sometimes the path temporarily disappears, or sounds of some unknown creature makes them pause and hide, but nothing appears. It is soon obvious, to Gilthannas at least, that the Elves they encountered before are playing tricks on them. He does what he can to hinder and counteract them, but they lose a few days before the Wayward Elves stop their mischief. By then, the Company are two-thirds of the way through the great forest, and deep in its heart. If it wasn’t for the path they follow, they’d be lost and probably dead by now.
Nine days from reach the end of the forest, Veig, acting as their guide, notices that the webs in the trees are thicker and closer. By torchlight he steers them clear, and manages to find a suitable place to camp away from the webs and close to the path. They settle down for the night, some more weary than others, and set guards to watch.
It is during that night that the Company are suddenly woken by cries of alarm, as Varr, brandishing a burning branch from their dwindling campfire, shouts out “We’re under attack! Orcs!”
As the companions throw off their blankets and grab their weapons and shields, they can see in the faint illumination a number of short, wiry figures surrounding the ponies. Already some are heading off into the depths of the forest, carrying rolls of silk, bottles of wine and sacks of spices; others are trying to cut the ponies free. The three brothers race over to stop them, and the companions find themselves facing off against six Forest Goblins that turn to confront them!
Dafydd leaps straight into close combat, skewering an orc with his spear and claiming his first orc kill. Gilthannas shoots one between the eyes, and Veig smacks one across the shoulder; then the Dwarf blocks another as it tries to spear Wilibald Took, but he isn’t able to help the Took’s brother, and Popo Took takes a spear to his side, wounding the Hobbit! He retreats rearward, swapping places with Alberic, who swings his axe and knocks a goblin back.
Wilibald, angered by the injury dealt to his brother, stabs his attacker, and kills the orc! The Hobbit’s first goblin kill! He’s not sure whether to be happy or sad, but has no time to ponder as the goblins press closer. Another orc falls dead as the Elf shoots its down, and a spear to the buttocks sends another goblin staggering towards Wilibald, who stabs it in the chest. That orc falls dead at his hairy feet. Veig tries to show-off by propelling himself off a tree, which breaks and sends his aim wide. It does, however, cause the last goblin to dodge, get whacked in the leg by Alberic, and then straight into the path of another arrow, and Gilthannas claims the last orc’s life.
In the aftermath, with the brothers managing to secure the ponies, they find most of their trade goods stolen. As Alberic treats Popo’s wound, Lodin begs the companies to hunt down the goblins and return what goods they can, as without anything to trade they’ll be in serious trouble.
As the Company decide what to do, the sounds of the thieving orcs grows fainter and fainter…
End of Session
XP Awarded: 2 each
Kills: six Forest Goblins.