The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

Butchering the Basilisks
Session 24

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As dusk falls the Company (along with Gillard and Holdwine the Outlaws) set about dealing with the basilisks. Gilthannas sneaks inside the cave, hearing at least one of the beasts, and believing there are probably more within. He slips back out to the others, and they prepare their ambush.

Alberic sets a snare in front of the cave, and a rope in a nearby tree to scamper up. He wields a couple of torches, ready to light. The Hobbits and the Elf head into the trees with Holdwine, bows at the ready, while Gillard and Dafydd Ap Alfred make their way up the slope and above the cave, spears at the ready.

Then Wilibald Took makes a racket with his pots and pans, and Alberic throws the lit torches inside and by the cave entrance; it isn’t long until a Sarnlug waddles out to see what all the noise is about; and it falls into the Woodman’s snare; the rope pulls tight, Alberic runs for the tree, and everyone starts pelting it with arrows and jabbing it with spears; it dies quickly.

Alberic immediately starts pulling the corpse towards him, but then another Basilisk comes waddling out of the tree, and spotting Dafydd above, it starts climbing the slope, mostly ignoring the arrows that fly through the air and rebound off its thick hide. Dafydd charges in, spear leading and glancing off the beast’s hide as more arrows ping and bounce off its hide; but the spear strikes home, and arrows soon manage to find cracks in its hide; with its last breath it spews forth its poisonous breath… but the Barding throws up his shield and huddles down, and the cloud passes harmlessly over him. He jabs up at the beast’s belly, and slays the monster.

A third comes out of the cave, but a flurry of arrows convinces it to crawl back into its lair.

Not wanting to waste any time, they haul the corpses away and cut out their hearts. Following Radagast’s instructions, Alberic boils the hearts, pulps them into a paste and applies it to the affected skin of Wilibald and Gillard. They drink the water, and feel much better. Already their skin is looking better.

The Company retreat to a safe distance from the caves and after setting watch for the night, they settle down amongst the pines and sleep.

14to to 21st Winterfilth, 2497

The next day they head East towards Woodland Hall, intent on spending the Winter there. It takes a week, with little to worry or obstruct them, other than weariness of the journey in the late Autumn weather. They bid farewell to Holdwine and Gillard after crossing The Old Ford, and are soon in the shelter of the woodland town.

End of Session & Adventuring Phase

XP Awarded: 1 each.

Next: End of Year Fellowship Phase

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Heart of the Basilisk
Session 23

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23rd Halimath, 2497 T.A

As Geirbald and the outlaws break camp, the Company decides to split the Fellowship and send the Hobbits heading back to Rhosgobel, accompanied by Gillard (also suffering from the petrifying poison) and Holdwine. The others will head back to the cave of the basilisk, to butcher it for its organs in the hope that something there will allow Radagast to brew up a cordial to cure them.

Alberic, Dafydd and Gilthannas force march through the day and night to reach the White Statues and immediately proceed into the caves, which are thankfully the same as they left them. They butcher the beasts, taking venom sacs and teeth, tongues and bladders, eyes and claws, and bloodied scales. They then force march South, and after a few days they catch sight of the Hobbits and outlaws as they are crossing the Old Forest Road and the Fellowship is united again.

Back together, they force march on towards Woodland Hall, fatigue catching up on them as they briefly rest for a few hours before continuing on. They procure some boats, and with Alberic and Gilthannas piloting the boats down the Black River, they make good time and eventually reach Rhosgobel only nine days since leaving the caves. By now all are weary, the Elf especially so, but the petrification has thankfully not worsened.

They go straight to see the Wizard, telling him all that happened and presenting him with the jars they found on the sacrificial table. He examines them and drags some ash from the fire, coats the jars and then places them in the fire: seconds later a hidden sigil is revealed in the hot ashes, a grinning skull with a flaming right eye.

“This is the mark of the Sorceress,” explains Radagast. “Said to dwell in the Demon’s Tower in Southern Mirkwood, a former fortress of Dol Guldur. I believe she was an apprentice to the Necromancer, and if she is involved, then there is foul sorcery afoot.”

The Sorceress can wait until later, he goes on to say. For now, there is the need for an antidote before the poison works its way into the system and Wilibald and Gillard are both turned to stone, forever.

Radagast tells what is needed:

The heart must be cut free within an hour of the beast’s demise, then boiled until it turns white. The heart must then be pounded and ground into a thick white paste, which must be applied to the affected areas of the body. The water the heart was boiled in must then be drunk by the victim

The heart is a notable organ missing from their butchery, but from the collected animal parts, the Wizard manages to make an ointment that will slow down the poison, and give them time to locate the basilisks. He also, as they asked, bestows upon them a Blessing of Travel to aid them in their journey to the Western Eaves, to hunt for the Sarnlug in their natural habitat on the slopes of the Misty Mountains.

They leave the next morning, keeping to the easiest routes but no longer marching through the night. They are weary by the time they reach the mountains, having passed through Woodland Hall, the village of Stonyford, and spending a night at The Old Ford. They follow the river, pass by the Falrock and head into the wooded slopes, searching for tracks.

A few hours later, as the afternoon darkens with the coming of evening, Alberic spots tracks and they locate a cave where they suspect a pair of basilisks lair. They keep in sight of it and plan their next move.

End of Session

Current Date: 13th Winterfilth (Autumn)

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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A Hobbit's Dilemma
Session 22

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As the outlaws, led by Holdwine, charge into the fights, spears jabbing at the enemy while Holdwine and another let loose with arrows at the basilisk, Dafydd stabs at the beast with his spear, but the blade skitters off its hide instead. The others engage the Forest Goblins and their large Orc leader; that Orc finds itself exchanging blows with Wilibald Took, who keeps ducking and dodging the thrusts of the Orc’s spear. Gilthannas fires arrow after arrow at the Sarnlug, some bounce off, others strike deep into its hide; but then the creature breaths more poisonous gas, managing to catch the exposed flesh of an outlaw, who staggers back crying in pain. Amongst the Goblins, Popo and Alberic trade blows with their foes, the Hobbit taking a few whacks but he retaliates and stings the Goblin with his shiny King’s Blade; leaving it open to Alberic’s axe, which cuts it down moments after decapitating the Goblin he was fighting. Another Goblin falls to Wilibald’s own blade, and still he parries and ducks the Orc’s swings and jabs, causing the foul creature to curse the “Man-Child” he faces! He utters his own war-cry, naming some unknown Sorceress, but that doesn’t help him at all, and the Orc suddenly finds himself surrounded as Dafydd and Gilthannas slay the basilisk and join the battle.

The Orc tries his best, but he is worn down and with a whack to the side of his head, he falls to the blow from Dafydd’s spear. The Orc is tied, gagged, and shoved in the corner while the companions search and loot the caves, after sending the outlaws outside to stand watch. Other than a few coins and remains of roast boar, they also find the third shard of the broken axe that brought them here, and besides the loot, the only other thing of interest is the strange shrine and sacrificial table behind the partial blockage. Alberic gathers the courage to enter, takes the empty jars with their oily residue, but refuses to look down the pit. He returns to the others, and the Company join the outlaws topside, dragging the Orc with them.

They retreat to their sheltered camp and when the Orc wakes up, they interrogate him; nothing much is gained, save that the Sorceress (whoever that is) is due to return in a few days to collect the now-slain Sarnlugs. A decision is made to return to Radagast, to see if he knows anything, and to also return the shard of Wolfbiter. Alberic tends to the stinging redness of Wilibald and the outlaw (whose name turns out to be Gillard), both of whom were caught by the basilisk’s breath. Neither seems to be in any pain or discomfort, so they break camp and take the Orc with them, heading to find Geirbald and his men.

As night falls they gather at the Outlaw camp and tell Geirbald everything. The Company decides to head back to Rhosgobel in the morning, and the outlaws decide to break camp and relocate, just in case this Sorceress comes looking for them. The Orc is taken away, and the companions later learn that he was executed, as the outlaws will not tolerate an Orc amongst them and do not want to risk it getting free and causing trouble.

Wilibald spends an uneasy night and wakes in the morning with a pale, coarse patch on his arm, where the venomous breath touched him. That patch looks and feels like stone! They check on Gilliard, and he too has suffered a slight discolouration. Worried about what it means, they gather around the morning’s campfire and heatedly discuss what to do now…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Breath of the Basilisk
Session 21

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The Company hide way up in the trees, in sight of the cave and wait. The hours slip by and the day draws to an end, the darkness gathering and rendering the forest an inky black. Then, the Goblins and their Orc leader emerge from the cave, with the two lizard-creatures tethered to chains, walked like some domesticated pet. Alberic recognises them as Sarnlug or Fagwyrm, also know as basilisks.

The Goblins are soon out of sight, fading away into the dark, muttering and moaning amongst themselves. As soon as they have disappeared, Dafydd enters the cave, lighting a torch to see by. He explores the cave, finding little of interest except for a passage that appears blocked. He wades through some water, and finds prints and drag marks by the stones; the blockage looks manmade, as the ceiling is intact, so he sets about moving some of the smaller rocks, creating a gap that he can shine his light through: beyond is some sort of cave. He calls out “Erland, are you in there?” and is answered by a weak voice, saying yes. A brief exchange of words follows, Dafydd telling Erland that he is there to rescue him, the outlaw telling him to hurry in case the Orcs come back.

Dafydd puts his back into it, and removes enough rocks to squeeze through the top. Inside is an old temple, or so it appears: an altar with some statue of a hooded figure, a sacrificial table stained with blood, and a pit at the far end. Erland himself is tied up and weak. Dafydd cuts his ropes and helps him out, but his strength fails him when it comes to putting the boulders back; so instead they scarper, heading out and back into the trees to join the others.

Everyone beats a hasty retreat back to were Holdwine is camped, and the outlaw is overjoyed to see his comrade back safely. As they settle down for the night in a hollow covered and sheltered by brambles, Erland tells them that he was captured by the Goblins and dumped inside the cave. He saw a hooded figure, who worked some magic and sealed the cave, but knows nothing else.

They decide to head back to Geirbald to seek his help, as this now seems to be much more than just Orcs stealing a piece of an axe. There is foul sorcery at work, and the Company intend to put a stop to it!

The following morning they head off to the Outlaws Camp, and there they are welcomed and thanked by Geirbald. Dafydd, Alberic Wilibald and Gilthannas do their best to persuade and inspire Geirbald to lend his aid, and after playing up the potential danger and suggesting that the reward outstrips the risk, the outlaw is convinced to help: he sends Holdwine and four others back with the Company to deal with the Orcs, the Basilisks and whatever sorcerer is aiding them. After a night’s sleep in relative safety and comfort, the enlarged Company set off back to the cave, spending a further night hidden away before venturing into The White Statues.

Sneaking closer, Dafydd spots a Forest Goblin on guard outside, hidden in the bushes. They get close enough to let loose a flurry of arrows, and the foul creature is dead before it knows its being attacked.

Wilibald and Alberic sneak up to the cave, and while the Woodman waits nearby, the Hobbit makes his way inside, and peers into the first cave, spotting the two Sarnlug, as well as another Goblin standing guard, alert and ready to release the chains of the beasts. He sneaks back to the others, and they gather in the trees and plan their attack.

Leaving the outlaws topside, ready to shoot any of the enemy that come out– or to charge in as reinforcements if called– the companions sneak back inside, and jump up to shoot the Goblin; fully intending to take it out before it can react or call for help, and therefore stop the basilisks from being let loose. The plan starts out fine, with a single arrow from the Elf silencing the Goblin. However, the plan then goes wrong as it turns out that the chain holding the beasts is long enough to reach the cave entrance; and they charge the Company!

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As the Sarnlug hurtle towards them, Dafydd charges in and whacks one with his spear, sending it into Wilibald’s path, as the Hobbit slashes across its thick hide, but fails to pierce it. An arrow from Gilthannas sticks in its tail; and Popo dives forward and rolls behind the other one, which tries and fails to bite him as he tumbles past.

The injured beast draws a deep breath, and bellows forth a cloud of poison, splattering Wilibald, Alberic and Dafydd; thankfully, all the poison does is mar their armour.

Dafydd retaliates with a fierce jab with his spear, but the blade merely skids off its armour-like hide; Alberic, gripping his long-hafted axe with both hands, drives the axe-head into the creature’s hide, but fails to penetrate it. Wilibald stabs at it again, but hits a tough spot and the ringing blow sends his King’s Blade flying from his hand!

Gilthannas seizes the beasts up, lets loose his bow-string, and the arrow speeds through the air, piercing the creature’s hide, and ending its life!

The other one bites at Popo, who now jabs his dagger into the chain and rock, preventing the beasts from moving further from where they now stand; it then breathes poison, and this time, Wilibald feels a stinging on his arm as the cloud finds a gap in his armour. He stumbles, and rolls with it, moving out of the beast’s range; Popo, Alberic and Gilthannas follow, but Dafydd finds himself stuck with the beast; and at that moment, the Goblins and their Orc leader come barrelling around the corner, weapons ready!

“We need help down here!” the companions yell, and the outlaws charge down the tunnel, as Dafydd turns to fight the basilisk and the others turn on the Goblins.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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The White Statues
Session 20

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9th Wedmath, 2497 (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.

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Message to the East Bight
Session 19

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29th Afterlithe, 2497 (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, 2497 (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.

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Grotto of the Lost
Session 18

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24th Afterlithe (Summer, 2497)

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.

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Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 3
Session 17

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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.

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Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 2
Session 16

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26th Forelithe, 2497 (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.

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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.

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Of Leaves & Stewed Hobbit: Part 1
Session 15

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17th Forelithe (Summer), 2497

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!

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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.

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