The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

The Wizard's Man: Part 2
Session 14

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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.

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The Wizard's Man: Part 1
Session 13

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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.

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“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.

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On to Woodland Hall
Fellowship Phase

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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

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The Hermit & the Thing in the Well
Session 12

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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.

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When Spiders Attack!
Session 11

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29th Rethe to 15th Aston (Spring), 2947

All around them, scuttling through the branches of the trees, mostly hidden from sight, the Attercops scurry closer to the companions. Wilibald and Dafydd, both ensnared by webs, struggle to free themselves as Baldor and Popo try to help, whilst trying to keep two of the giant spiders from biting and stinging the Hobbit and the Barding. Down below, Alberic and Gilthannas continue to shoot at anything with eight-legs that moves.

To begin with, it seems hopeless, but the companions have renewed hope as the Men and Hobbits fell a spider and the Elf takes out the other, shooting it off the web-bridge. More arrows fly, as those on top of the tower cut themselves free from the webs and start heading down the crumbling stairs, no spiders pursuing. One giant arachnid leaps from the trees, straight in front of Alberic; the Woodman drops his bow and swings his axe, cutting the foul beast in twain. Another rears up over the ruined wall, only to be shot down by Gilthannas.

With no more spiders in direct pursuit, although with dozens swarming amongst the trees, the companions grab Baldor and hurry back to their camp, dodging strands of webs and threatening any spiders that come too close. They make it back to the clearing, and the spiders do not follow, instead stand hissing and spitting until they give up and retreat back into the forest.

Baldor’s memories slowly return over the next few hours, as they all rest in the clearing, but they are like half-forgotten dreams, and the events of six years ago when the Dragon burned the old town down, killing his wife and destroying his livelihood, are fresh in his mind. He tries to come to terms with the older boy that he barely recalls growing up, but it is obvious there is a wedge between them now, and the journey on is sour as a result. Belgo spends more time talking and following the Dwarves than he does with his father, and Baldor keeps to himself and looks after the ponies.

The next few days are hard-going but without incident. The dim green twilight of the forest during the day is cool and almost pleasant, if not for the pressure of some many trees and so narrow a path. The ponies sometimes have to be unburdened and half-carried down steps or over uneven ground, but it is not as tiring as the last time the Company passed this way.

It is less than a week from the end of the path, when the air begins to grow chillier, and a deeper darkness draws in; a storm is coming…

End of Session

XP: 1 each for Alberic and Dafydd.

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Dwarves, Men, and Spiders
Session 10

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The Marsh Bell: Part 4

The Company, together with Balin and Oin, struggle free of the dark pool and drag themselves on to land under the night sky. As the moon and stars cast a pale glow over the ruins and surrounding marsh, they stumble off in search of a safe place to camp, Dafydd (bleeding and close to exhaustion) leading the way: they find a mound of dry earth, a tiny hill that sticks out of the wetland and have some shelter from a few rounded stones and straggly trees. Guards are set while Alberic treats Dafydd’s wounds, using some of his White Lilies to facilitate his healing. They settle down for the night, after returning the ornate box to Balin, who is exceedingly happy to have recovered it.

The night passes without incident, and the next morning, weary and anxious, the Company head back to where they hid their boat, and begin the long trek upstream to Lake-town. As they travel, Balin and Oin fill them in on their mission: to take a gift and letter of welcome to the Eagles, an invitation for the King of Eagles to join the council at the next Gathering of Five Armies. The companions befriend the two Dwarves, and by the time they reach Esgaroth (over a week later, thankfully without any incidents or troubles), the older and younger Dwarves are convinced that the Company are capable and decent folk. So much so, that when they are returned to Gloin, they persuade the Dwarf to allow them to escort Balin and Oin across Mirkwood, too help them on their mission. The Dwarves agree, and after a few days of rest and recuperation, the Company and the two Dwarves set off on a new mission across the forest.

Don’t Leave the Path: Part 1

25th Rethe, 2947 (Spring)

A few miles out, following an old path from Lake-town to where the Elf-path begins, the Company (& Dwarves) hear cries for help, and a young boy of about ten scrabbles out of the woods, crying for help, pointing into the trees: “They’re going to kill him,” he cries, “My father, the guards are going to kill him! Please help me”!

Leaving the two Dwarves to lead their ponies, the others hurry after the boy into the woods. All except Wilibald, who stealthily steals into the forest, flanking the others. They come into a clearing, where three thugs threaten an older man, middle-aged and wielding a large branch as a club. Dafydd recognises them as Jonar, Kelmund and Finnar, known troublemakers from Lake-town. They tell the companions to go away, or there’ll be trouble, but Dafydd shakes his spear and threatens to kill them if they don’t leave; and seeing the armed men behind him, the three thugs decide to cut their losses and go, grumbling as they do. Wilibald follows them a short distance to make sure they leave, and hears them swearing revenge.

The man introduces himself as Baldor, and the young boy is his son, Belgo. He is a merchant on his way to the Woodland Hall, with iron and toys from Dale; his four ponies are close by. The thugs he hired as escort, unwisely it turns out. As they are travelling in the same direction, the Company offer to act as his escort, and Baldor happily agrees, promising to pay them in silver or goods when they reach the Easterly Inn; from there it should safe enough for them to continue on by themselves. He already has a route planned out too: taking rafts to the Elven King’s Halls, then a rest in those very halls, before heading off along the Elf-path. It seems a good route, so the Company agree.

A few days pleasant travel through the warm Spring days takes the Company through the nicer part of Mirkwood, where Elves with rafts take them along the river and into the cavernous cellars of the halls, where they are welcomed by Lindar, master of the King’s Cellars. Baldor and his son are taken to suitable quarters, but the others (except Gilthannas, being an Elf) find themselves bedding down in the cellars, guarding the ponies and goods. Still, the couple of days there are pleasant, and afterwards the Elves take the Company on rafts out of the halls, down the river, dropping them off past the Enchanted Stream, on to the path; here the trees are thick and the passage once more more like a tunnel than a path through a forest. The shadows are thick and twilight green. Occasionally webs can be seen amongst the trees, but the first leg of the journey is uneventful, though tiring,

After several days travel, over a third of the way through the forest, with the twilight wearing them down little-by-little, they luck out and find a nice place to camp for the night: an old Elven Feasting Hall, a clearing in the forest with a stream running alongside. They camp for the night, feeling better with wider space around them. During the night, while Popo stands watch, Baldor gets up, complaining of bad dreams, and stretches his legs. He takes a drink from the stream, which turns out to be a very bad idea, as that stream is also enchanted, and immediately the merchant is struck by its enchantment: Popo watches as the poor man looks startled and confused, shouts something about the Dragon awakening, screams that he is under attack, and as he sees the Hobbit staring up at him, Baldor charges off into the forest, blundering through the trees!

By the time Popo has woken everyone up, and they’ve done their best to settle poor Belgo down, his father has disappeared. His trail is easy to follow, but it is so dark that without torches they can’t even see their hands in front of their faces. They decide to wait until daylight, only a few hours away, before they can track him down.

The next morning, leaving the Dwarves and Belgo to look after the ponies and act as a backup in case anything goes wrong, the Company head off, torches lit to aid their search in the dim twilight of the forest, following the tracks. They soon come across something alarming: broken webs, and drag marks furrowing the ground. They follow these, and come out into a clearing, where a ruined castle– only a crumbling tower and a L-shaped wall of an ancient keep still standing– once stood. Thick webs connect the top of the tower to the top of the wall, and dangling from the wall is a man-shaped bundle of webs, struggling feebly. There are no obvious sign of spiders, but scuttling noises can be faintly heard all around.

Leaving Alberic and Gilthannas at the edge of the clearing, bows drawn, the two Hobbits and the Barding stealthily head to the ruins: the wall looks too sheer to climb safely, so they head for the tower, silently climbing the stairs. Popo is left at the bottom, bow drawn, keeping an eye out, as his brother and Dafydd reach the top: there they see a bridge made of webs hanging between the tower and wall, Baldor (his boots are sticking out, recognisable as his) at the far end. Then they look up into the trees, and see dozens of Attercops seemingly asleep in the webs that shroud the branches.

Wilibald stays at the top of the stairs, his King’s Blade drawn, watching the sleeping, twitching spiders. Dafydd begins to cross the bridge, being as careful as he can. He is nearly halfway across when he stumbles, and vibrations rock the bridge, and the webs, and then the spiders in the trees; and immediately, the spiders awake!

Dafydd runs across and starts to drag Baldor onto the bridge, taking out his knife to cut the merchant free. A spider drops from the trees, but is shot out of the air by Alberic and Gilthannas, who loose arrows as the boar-sized arachnids swarm.

Below, Alberic and Gilthannas start to pick off spiders as they scurry from the trees; one, then two fall dead to the ground. Another lands near Dafydd, who whacks it aside, gets caught in the sticky webbing of the bridge, and has to cut himself free; Baldor tries to help, but only gets in the way, and suddenly the Barding finds himself caught in a spray of webs, and a spider rears up, trying to bite him! Wilibald too, finds himself facing off against a giant spider, and he too finds himself caught in its webbing!

Popo, seeing his brother in danger, throws caution to the wind and charges up the steps, while the two archers see more spiders swarming from the trees…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 3 for all but Popo (who gets 2 points).

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The Marsh Bell: Part 3
Session 9

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Popo and Wilibald Took awake in near-darkness, soaking wet and disorientated. As their eyes adjust to the faint glow of phosphorus mushrooms and slimy moss, the dull sound of a bell fades from the cold, dank air. They are lying with their legs dangling in water, across steps that descend into cold and murky water. More water, stagnant and foul smelling puddles on the floor of the small flooded chamber, and the glow comes from an archway ahead. Beyond they can just about make out a large room, a cellar of sorts, with a faint beam of dwindling light coming from a chimney or alcove across the far side of the room.

The two Hobbits carefully stand and make their way to the archway, listening intently. Faintly, they can hear the sound of wet slaps, footsteps splashing through the puddles somewhere beyond the arch. The chimney has a rope dangling and it seems to lead up, out of the chamber, and that is certainly natural light peeking through meekly, as if afraid of disturbing the dankness below. They sneak into the room, and freeze as movement from a side passage draws their attention: a pair of softly glowing eyes peer from the darkness, as a humanoid figure begins visible. The Hobbits stealthily cross into a passage opposite, the middle of three, mirrored opposite. They duck behind some rocks and broken masonry, keeping an eye on the figure, while looking towards the chimney with its rope and possible exit.

Meanwhile, above ground, by the murky pool, Alberic and Dafydd hold a rope as Gilthannas secures his gear and dives into the water, following the sub-terrain passage to a set of steps that lead out into a dark flooded chamber. He immediately hears movement ahead, beyond a crooked arch, and moves to the corner, drawing his bow and sighting along it. In the room beyond, a large and ancient cellar, glowing eyes belong to some slimly humanoid creature peer through the darkness: those eyes seem to pause as they sweep in the Elf’s direction, and the creature lets out a gurgling missing croak that is reciporocated from another passage: the same one that the two unseen Hobbits are sheltered in! The Elf tugs on the rope, alerting Alberic and Dafydd, who quickly sow their gear and wade into the water, swimming and treading as fast as they can to join their companion.

The Hobbits race across the room, heading for the chimney. They duck into the alcove, hidden amongst the debris (rocks, feathers, bones). Wilibald chucks a rock to try and distract the creature that comes out from the passageway, but only causes them to turn his way, their pale green eyes fixating on him; they move towards the Hobbits, just as Alberic and Dafydd wade out of the water, joining Gilthannas by the archway. The three warriors are just in time to see the Hobbits rise form their hiding place, and for Wilibald Took to grab hold of the rope in an attempt to climb…

…the rope pulls down, and a bell rings out loudly in the chamber, momentarily deafening the Hobbits.

Then, from the passages, more of the creatures, Dwellers from the Marshes, squelch into the main chamber, six in all, splitting off into two groups as they spot the companions. Then, much to everyone’s worry, another four shamble out of the passage closest to the archway, and head towards the two Men and the Elf.

The three warriors let loose with their arrows, felling two of the Marsh-Dwellers before they advance. Gilthannas moves back behind the others, as Alberic wields his long-hafted axe and Dafydd draws forth his spear; across the room, the two Hobbits draw their King’s Blades and prepare to defend themselves.

The creatures attack with tooth and claw, blocked at the arch by Alberic and Dafydd; they slap aside blows and stab, felling another, then another as Gilthannas transfixes it with an arrow; Dafydd gets bitten, but his armour absorbs the worse of it. The Hobbits find themselves outnumbered, striking the creatures with stinging blows, but bashed in return. Wilibald parries with his sword, ducking and dodging, but Popo takes a blow to the side of his head, winding him. Then more of the creatures come out of the passage, crowding both groups. At the archway the warriors struggle to hold them back, and start to give ground. The Hobbits are hemmed in at the chimney, holding their own as more of the creatures swipe at them with their sharp claws.

Alberic and Dafydd combine their attacks, bashing one across the head, allowing the Barding to spear it in the chest; the creature falls, only to be immediately replaced by another. Gilthannas shoots over their heads, felling one of those attacking Popo, but as Dafydd ducks to avoid the shaft, a Marsh-Dweller whacks him across the chest, forcing him back as he begins to feel weary. He jabs one in the gut, and Alberic delivers a glancing blow against another, but both warriors are separated, forced back into the flooded chamber, only just keeping the creatures from reaching the Elf. By the chimney, Wilibald rolls and ducks, his small and elusive nature allowing him to avoid the sweeping claws; Popo, on the other hand, finds himself weary from blows and staggers back. He sees a gap before him, and dives through, rolling out of the fight and retreats to the nearest passage: a coloured archway of old, crumbling bricks, a short series of marble steps leading down. He hurries down, out of the way, and finds himself face-to-face with a sturdy reinforced door, marred by deep claw groves.

Alberic forces a Marsh-Dweller back, but the effort tires him. He tries to position himself to help Dafydd, as the Barding finds himself hemmed in, and then one of the creature’s claws him badly, shredding mail as it draws blood. He staggers back, in pain, but manages to deliver a blow to its jaw. The Elf shoots it in the head, and it falls back into its brethren, dead. Wilibald, still avoiding blows, stabs one in the chest, killing it, and looks around to see his brother disappear down the steps.

Seeing his companions harried, Alberic lifts his voice in song, momentarily lifting everyone’s spirits; it obviously has some effect, as Dafydd manages to pull back as another Marsh-Dwellers rakes its claws across his chest. He almost falls to his knees, close to exhaustion, but remains standing and lashes out at his opponent. Gilthannas takes out another, an arrow in its eye.

At the reinforced door, Popo tries to pick the lock, but finds none. Suddenly, the door swings open, and a pair of weary, starving Dwarves are revealed: one old, one young, both barely standing. Popo says something along the lines of ‘come with me if you want to live’, and the Dwarves follow the Hobbit out of the wine cellar, where there’s no exit, and cautiously look out onto the battlefield. They quickly introduce themselves as Balin and Oin; the two missing Dwarves!

Dafydd is knocked back by a Marsh-Dweller, but the staggering blow takes him away from the fight momentarily, allowing Alberic to sweep his arc in a long arc, decapitating one of the foul reeking creatures; another falls dead as the Elf pierces its heart with an arrow, and by the chimney, Wilibald crosses blade with claws, then fells another; three remain.

As Popo escorts the stumbling Dwarves across the room, heading for the arch and the pile of bodies, his brother takes his last opponent out as it is distracted by the fleeing party, and follows in their footsteps.

By the arch, Gilthannas takes out the next to last creature, clearing the way for the Hobbits and Dwarves. The last one faces off against Dafydd, who summons the last reserves of his strength, and rams his spearhead straight through its chest, exploding its heart and tearing out of its back. The last Marsh-Dwellers slides off, dead.

In the passages, faintly, more footfalls can be heard, wet and slapping. With most of them weary, one wounded, the company quickly wade into the water and prepare to swim back to the surface…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.
Wounded: Dafydd.

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The Marsh Bell: Part 2
Session 8

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12-14th Rethe (Spring) 2947

Dafydd is checking the campsite to ensure it is a good place to stop, when he notices the pool rippling. Just in time he shouts out a warning to the others, allowing Alberic and Gilthannas time to draw their weapons. The two Hobbits, however, are momentarily frozen in place as a huge creature bursts forth from the pool, shouting “Come ‘ere ya tasty morsels, I’m hungry!”

It is a Stone-Troll, twice as tall as the Men, nearly twice as wide, clutching an old tree trunk as a club. The Hobbits shake off their fear, and dart in with their King’s Blades flashing in the dying light; Wilibald slaps its leg, making it hop, and Popo stabs it in the gut, wounding it. Dafydd smashes the haft of his spear into its head, snapping it to the side, in place for Alberic to swing his long-hafted axe overarm, and down into the monster’s head, cleaving is skull in twain.

Gilthannas lowers his bow, and slide his unspent arrow back into its quiver.

The Company spends the night, keeping watch. In the morning they resume their journey, Alberic tracking the signs of passage that they hope indicates where the missing Dwarves went. Popo still reckons they are being followed, and is proven right as the second day in the marshes draws to its end, and a quartet of Elves steps out of the nearby trees as the boat punts across the narrow river.

Armed but not openly hostile, the lead elf introduces himself as Galion, who Gilthannas knows is the King’s former cupbearer, sentenced to dismal patrol duty in the marshes due to a misdeed five years ago. The Elf introduces the Company, but it is Dafydd who takes the lead in the conversation, sweet-talking the Elves and persuading them to give up information on the missing Dwarves: Galion is interested in why the Dwarves are passing this way, but is satisfied that the companions know nothing more than they went missing, and they are searching for them. Galion leads them to Balin’s camp, where the Elves were keeping an eye on them before they suddenly disappeared.

Before night falls, they search the camp and find the broken and submerged boat, tracks of booted Dwarf footprints and some webbed prints, and no sign that they slept here, only that they set up camp. Popo manages to find something more, which he hides from the Elves: in a rotten stump he finds an ornate jewellery box, decorated with eagles, hidden hastily and ensorcelled with Dwarven Runes of Secrecy. He pockets it, intending to return it to Balin once they find him, but not opening it himself. Too decent for that.

The Elves, persuaded and impressed by Dafydd’s speeches, spend the night with the Company sharing duties, and in the morning take their leave. Once they are out of sight and sound, the Company begin following the footprints, deeper into the marshes.

They travel for several hours, leaving the boat behind at the camp, hidden amongst the reeds. As they pass through a clump of dense foliage and crowding trees, Alberic, Gilthannas and Wilibald suddenly find themselves tangled in tendrils of vines, that tighten and hoist them up to the branches, strangling them! Too late they remember the warning of the Gallows-Weed. Thankfully, Alberic manages to pull a vine free and falls down, gasping but safe; Wilibald wriggles out of the tendrils, tired by the ordeal but also safe. The Elf finds the vine tightening around his throat as the others try in vain to free him. He relaxes, focuses on his surroundings, then takes advantage of a momentary loosening of the vines, and with a backflip and a twist, is suddenly free. They hurry on, keeping low to avoid the dangling vines, and swiftly pass through the dangerous trees.

Night is falling when they come across older, more substantial ruins, and a pool of stagnant water centre-most. The tracks they were following end at the pool. A marble arch stands over looking the water. Large crows sit in the surrounding trees, cawing loudly.

Wilibald and Popo stealth ahead, sneaking up to the edge of the pool. There is no sign of life other than the crows. Then they hear a sound, faint and dull, as if from far away and from beneath the ground: a bell, deep in sound. Entranced by the ringings, the two Hobbits start to wade into the pool…

…and when the others come after them, worried that the scouts had not yet returned, Alberic, Dafydd and Gilthannas see no sign of the two Hobbits. Footprints end at the pool. The pool looks deep, and a submerged tunnel can just be made out as the light begins to fail and the shadows lengthen.

Then they too hear the sound of a bell, but the deep tones have no effect other than to make them wary. Seeing no sign of the Hobbits, but concerned for their safety, the three remaining companions prepare to wade into the water…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 for Alberic, Dafydd and Pop, but only1 for Wilibald and Gilthannas.

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The Marsh Bell: Part 1
Session 7

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9th Rethe, 2947 (Spring)

The Fellowship find themselves in the hall of Glóin, the famous Dwarf who was part of the Company that freed Erebor from the dragon and fought in the Battle of Five Armies. Today he is an envoy and diplomat for King Dain Ironfoot, and spends some of his time in Lake-town looking after affairs.

Word has reached the Company that the Dwarf is looking for help; two Dwarves have gone missing after they embarked on an important journey and Glóin is worried. When the Company meet him, the Dwarf seems uneasy and rushes through introductions. Dafydd acts as spokesperson for the Company, with all but Gilthannas further introducing themselves. Even with the presence of an Elf, Glóin is impressed and gladly accepts their help. He explains that Balin and Óin left the Lonely Mountain on an important errand for the King, but the ravens who were keeping an eye on them lost track of them somewhere in the Long Marshes, close to the Old Forest Road. The two Dwarves had planned on travelling down what remained of the road, to see how much work would be needed to restore it. Glóin suspects that they have not made it that far, and it is a few days now, and they have not been seen.

The Company accept the task and are promised a bag of 5 gold coins each upon their successful, and also receive a letter to procure a boat, as well as a letter of introduction that they can show to Balin when they find him, just to prove them are there as friends. Glóin is wary of the Elf, and warns that Balin may well have run foul of Elves, due to their dealings with them in the past.

Passing by the market to purchase a couple of stout ponies (to carry some of their gear), the Company heads off to the docks and are soon on a sturdy boat large enough to hold them all as well as their ponies (Dafydd and Wilibald have both bought ponies) and necessary feed. A day out, a pleasant journey across the lake, they reach the Stair of Girion, where younger Men of the Lake occupy huts at the top of a waterfall. There are paved, sloping stairs that the Men of the Lake can use to haul boats and their cargo down to the river below. The Company spend the night too, listening to Old Man Nerulf sing a little rhyme, that Wilibald recognises from stories he has heard:

“If you go south in the marshes, take heed: tread lightly and fear the Gallows-Weed”.

The next day they continue down the river, soon entering the edge of the forest where it overlooks the borders of the marshes. The journey through the marshes is slow and hard-going, tiring not only from dealing with obstacles such as thick roots that threaten to trap the boat, to biting insects and the general gloom of it all.

During the first day into the marshes, with Dafydd piloting the boat and navigating through the difficult terrain, Alberic scouts about looking for evidence of the two Dwarves. He spies a few broken branches that indicate someone went through recently, but no idea who. They do find evidence of a former camp, meagre and not much there, but on a patch of dry ground next to a stagnant reed-covered pool. All throughout that morning, Popo was also certain that someone was following them, but no one could spot anything amongst the trees.

The day drawing to a close, they stop by the old camp, and Wilibald starts searching about to make sure it is safe.

As he does so, the sun sets behind the forest, and as the darkness draws in, the surface of the reed-covered pool ripples…

End of Session

XP: 2 each.

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End of Year 2946
Fellowship Phase

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The majority of the Company spend their winter at Lake-town, while Gilthannas heads home to spend time amongst his kin. Veig goes off on his own wanderings, promising to return in the Spring.

During their time in the town, Alberic and Dafydd spend time visiting blacksmiths and having their armour made cunning, allowing it to fit better and ease somewhat the burden of wearing their mail coats while travelling.

Wilibald, after disappearing into the forest for a short time to bury some of the treasure he acquired, finds a parcel waiting for him back at the inn the companions are staying at. It is an old short sword, one of those plundered from tombs by too curious Hobbits, a King’s Blade, sent as a gift from Agatha of the Easterly Inn; a note says it is an heirloom of the family, and she felt it was better kept in the hands of a more adventurous Hobbit.

Popo also finds himself a parcel, again from Agatha, with another heirloom, a suit of Lucky Armour that he replaces his old, now worn armour that failed to save him from being [[The Road Goes Ever On and On: Part 1 | wounded]] by that goblin-spear.

Over the course of the next few weeks, after attending the festivities of the first Gathering of the Five Armies, Dafydd, Popo and Wilibald pay a visit to the town’s famous market and acquire several high quality items to aid them during their next travels. Alberic, meanwhile, heads out into the marshes, skirting the edges looking for herbs. He comes back with enough White Lilies to last a while.

Gilthannas returns to the Woodland Realm and while there he pays a visit to the wise old Sentinel Oak, learning the ways of the woods and receiving its blessing.

As the mild Winter turns to a cool Spring, the companions meet back up in Lake-town, except for Veig, who sends word that he is otherwise occupied but will catch up with them soon.

On that first day of Spring, the Company hears a rumour of two Dwarves going missing, and that Glóin himself is looking for any information or help in locating them, and will pay handsomely too. The Company, driven by a desire to help more than the treasure it would bring them head off to pay a visit to the famous Dwarf.

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