The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

The Crossings of Celduin: Part 2
Session 55

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1st to 9th Foreyule, 2949 (Winter)

On fast horses the six companions speed off into the first flakes of snow as Winter comes to Wilderland. As they race along the river, bypassing Lake-town, they get wind of Lockmand, but rather than track him down, they decide to continue on, as time is of the essence, and any delay could prove disastrous.

For five days they gallop as fast and for as long as they can, leaving the King’s men and spare horses behind at strategic spots to allow a swifter return. At one point during their journey they spot large Gore Crows swarming overhead, looking as is they searching for something. There are more swarms in the distance, and when one comes close to the Company, the crows suddenly scatter, cawing loudly as they disappear into the sky.

It snows briefly, rains a lot, and muddies the ground. Alberic manages to guide them past the worse spots, but his horse stumbles at one spot and it is only the Woodman’s quick thinking and superb healing skills that prevent it from going lame.

One night, after they have reached the River Running past the marches they have skirted around, their horses are spooked at night when the crows try to scare the horses away. Dafydd Ap Alfred manages to calm the horses and shoo the birds away.

A couple of days out from the bridge that crosses the Celduin, Dafydd (on guard duty whilst they camp) spots a scouting party of Orcs and Wargs. He alerts the others and they move their horses away, trying to hide in the dark as the Enemy approaches. Their ambush fails, and battle is joined. An opening volley kills off two of the advancing Orcs before they can lift their weapons, and three more falls to axes and arrows as they clash over the campsite.

A warg leaps over the battle, aiming straight for the two elves. Gilthannas shoots it out of the air, the wild wolf dead before it hits the cold, frosty ground. Galia takes out the last Orc, leaving only a few wargs to contend with. These prove more capable, but while they weary some of their opponents, they are cut down swiftly, leaving the camp a mess and the ground bloodied.

The following day, they arrive at the bridge.

A small town has been built around the large stone bridge that spans the river. They encounter the townsfolk and are taken to the Master of the town, an old grumpy man called Eric Son of Erland. He is reluctant to believe them at first, but they manage to persuade him that a great army of Orcs is heading their way, and that they will slaughter the townsfolk if something isn’t done. He musters what few fighting men they have (20 in all) as well as skilled craftsmen and a couple of able smiths, and gives command of the town’s defences to the Company.

They settle down for the night, making plans, and in the morning, start to put those plans into action.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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The Crossings of Celduin: Part 1
Session 54

king-bard.png h3. 27-30 Blotmath, 2949

It is the annual Gathering of Five Armies, and Dale is bustling with festivities. The three companions, now calling themselves The Fellowship of the New Alliance are in town to enjoy the festival. They join the crowds, checking out the entertainment, partaking of the food and drink, pulling their cloaks around them as the first winds of Winter blow through the valley. The Opening Ceremony is but a few hours away, and to pass the time the three friends enjoy the downtime.

Dafydd Ap Alfred takes part in a riddle contest, doing reasonably well before some gruff old sea-dog beats him with some seafaring riddle that the Barding has never heard of. Gilthannas tries his luck with a few games of chance, managing to gain a few coins along the way; but it is Alberic who finds short-term fame when he takes part in a singing contest and gets invited to sing at the masked ball taking place that night.

The festival kicks off with a splendid firework display that lights the sky and even manages to illuminate the Lonely Mountain. None other than Gandalf is setting them off, and during a lull, he approaches the Company and takes them aside, quizzing them about the spirit and Orcs that have recently been encountering. After talking to the Brown Wizard, Gandalf thinks he does more about the foe that seems to be plaguing Wilderland.

“Many years ago I myself dared to pass the doors of the Necromancer in Dol Guldur for the second time, to secretly explore his ways," says Gandalf. "What I discovered in that occasion is not a matter that I will discuss here, but suffice it to say that I found the place to be even darker and oppressive than before. It seemed to me that a new power had allied itself with the Necromancer, and ruled the deeper pits of Dol Guldur.

“It was there that I found Thráin, the father of Thorin Oakenshield, wandering witless and near death in the blackest dungeons. I came too late, and he died before I could help him, but with his last words he uttered the name of his gaoler and tormentor: the Gibbet King.

“I fled that accursed place before the Necromancer could spy my presence, but I knew that my visit didn’t go unnoticed. I felt the eyes of that dreadful lord of prisons upon me. The Gibbet King saw me, but seemed content to let me go.”

He asks them to keep an eye out for trouble, and to get word back to him if they can. Meanwhile, he is off to visit the leaders of the land, to see what else is going on.

A masked ball follows the fireworks, and the three companions relax long into the evening.

Towards the end of the evening, Lockmand the merchant clambers onto the stage to address the crowd.

“People of Dale! Tomorrow, there will be a great contest of arms! Swords! Spears! Archery! Let us gather all the defenders of the North, and see which of them is the greatest! In honour of this fine Gathering of Five Armies I shall give a prize to the victor! Behold!”

He gestures to two of his servants, who drag a huge iron- bound chest onto the stage. Lockmand throws the lid back. Gold and gems spill from the chest, which is crammed with treasure. “For Wilderland!” shouts Lockmand. “For the Free Folk of the North!”

The next day, the companions take part in the contests. Dafydd Ap Alfred and Alberic take part in all three, the contest of Archery, of Strength, and of Horsemanship. Gilthannas just takes part in the first two. All of them manage to get through to the final rounds, but are beaten by others. Still, they get a few good cheers and applause as a result of their reputation that has grown over the last few months. Then, the following day, marking the end of the festival, the Grand Melee takes place; to be followed by a great feast for all participants and every hero, adventurers, soldier and mercenary in the land. Everyone is invited, and the food and drink are to be amongst the best that Wilderland has to offer.

Gilthannas, Alberic and Dafydd enter the Grand Melee, and prove themselves worthy warriors. But others are stronger or quicker, and one-by-one the companions are eliminated. Alberic falls within the first few rounds, Gilthannas soon after, but Dafydd manages to get to the final contestants, before he decides to charge straight at a large Beorining called Gerold and gets sent flying into the river.

Battered and bruised, they join the others at the feast and enjoy the food and drink, the music and merriment. As the feast draws on, Lockmand arrives on stage, wearing the same outfit and mask as he did as the ball. It seems he has lost his voice, and mimes giving out the prizes for those who won the contests. When it comes to the winner of the Grand Melee Elstan, First Captain of Dale, the chest of gold and gems turns out to be full of snakes, which attack the masked merchant and slither off into the crowd. The snakes bite a few, the merchant turns out to be a jester in disguise, and then everyone at the feast starts feeling the effects of poison: the food and wine are doused with debilitating poison!

The heroes, affected but tough enough not to fully succumb to the poison, assist those who take a bad turn, and when King Bard hears of the trouble and sends servants and others to help, they do their best to support their most recent patron. They learn from the jester that Lockmand paid him to ‘play a trick’ on the winners, but that this wasn’t part of the plan. They rush off to try and confront him, but when they track him down, he is on a boat sailing down the river. They land a few arrows, but the river is fast flowing and the traitorous merchant escapes.

Over the course of the night Alberic manages to purge the three of them of the poison, but there are too few healers and herbs to tend to all the men and women at the feast. While there were no deaths, virtually everyone is debilitated or incapacitated. This becomes worrying when a raven flies in, perches above the square and announces a doom on the land:

“Harken, men of Dale! Harken, folk of the Mountain! A terrible army approaches. Orcs and Goblins, with Wild Wolves to ride upon, coming with great speed up from the south. They ride for Dale!”

Word reaches the King, and he assembles a hasty council. The heroes, being one of the few who are able, and also as vassals (more or less) to the King since he became their patron, are invited to give counsel.

King Bard addresses those present:

“Lockmand’s treachery has blunted the spear of the forces of Dale. The greater portion of our strength is lost until the poisoned warriors recover. And when they do, it will be too late.”
“The power of the Orcs of the North was broken at the Battle of Five Armies, but Wilderland is still stiff with Wolves, Orcs, and creatures of the worst description. It must be assumed that we face a powerful army.

“The enemy’s outriders will be here soon. Dale has the strength to resist a siege, but if we retreat behind its stone walls, then the farmlands and outlying villages – not to mention Lake-town – will be vulnerable to attack.

“We must resolve what to do with the remaining time. There are two concerns at hand – stopping the enemy, and preparing Dale for war, even in the lack of its best defenders.“

The Fellowship of the New Alliance counsel for the King to evacuate Lake-town and the farmsteads and villages, bringing them all to Dale, and to gather the rest of the harvest as quickly as possible, to hold up in the town while reinforcements arrive from the Elves and Dwarves, and whatever able-bodied Men can be mustered. The King agrees, but needs time to organise such activity: he needs heroes to delay the Enemy for as long as possible. The best place to do this, is the bridge at the Crossings of Celduin, where an army can cross the river easily. A handful of warriors could hold that bridge against an otherwise overwhelming force, for a time at least. The King stresses that he does not consider this to be a suicide mission, merely a delaying tactic, allowing him time to gather whatever force-of-arms and reinforcements he can, and to evacuate vulnerable people to Dale before the Enemy reaches them.

Naturally enough, the three companions are volunteered. They are to be joined by Galia, the Elf-maid who won the archery contest, and the Beorning, Georld, who won the contest of strength. Their old friend Storr comes forth to offer his services too.

The King gives them fast horses, and sends servants with additional servants after them; three sets of fresh horses will be place along their route, allowing for a swifter return.

The six warriors ride off, heading South to the Crossings of Celduin, as the first snows of Winter drift over the land.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Making Friends
Session 53

erebor.png

Leaping out of the heaps of leaves six giant Hunter Spiders ambush the three companions. Warned by Dafydd Ap Alfred, they manage to let loose a flurry of arrows, taking out one of the Spiders at it leaps to attack; then they find themselves surrounded, fending off the sharp beaks of the venomous arachnids.

Alberic cuts the legs from one, leaving it open to a killing shot by Gilthannas, whiel Dafydd trades blows with another, eventually gaining the upper hand and impaling the beast. He and Alberic take out a couple more, then shift position to let the Elf let fly with more arrows. The final Spiders fell to their blows, and with a final swing of his axe, Alberic takes out the last one.

They leave the area, make camp, and spend the next six days travelling out of Mirkwood and through the Long Marshes, reaching Lake-town on midsummer’s day; just in time to meet Frar of the Greydelve at the inn.

The travel-stained, haunted-eyed, grouchy Dwarf has been waiting for them, and thanks them for their help with his kinsmen, Polin and Pomin. The companions explain that they are interested in helping his cause, reclaiming the ancient Dwarf-home of Greydelve. and may be able to bend the ear of the King Under the Mountain. They persuade him to gather his kin, as many as he can convince, and bring them to one place, to prove to the King that he has a following and that they cannot just be ignored. Frar agrees, and decides to set off straight away. He’ll return with news before Winter falls, and will meet them again on the festival of Dragontide, a few months away.

They agree, and decide to go further with their original plan. They take off on a long journey, travelling back down to the Woodmen, via the Woodland Realm, then back up to Dale and Erebor, spreading their wealth and building on their reputation, establishing themselves as worthy adventurers willing and able to work with the leaders of Wilderland. They manage to convince all the leaders of the realms to be their patrons, and get them to agree to establishing a holding on the border of the Old Forest Road, just down from The Old Ford. There they’ll set up an outpost, manned and commanded by one of each culture: Dwarves, Elves, Woodmen, Beornings and Bardings. Representatives of the Five Armies.

Dafydd Ap Alfred is nominated as the representative of the Bardings, while Alberic is the spokesman for the Woodmen. Gilthannas acts the King’s Man for the Elves, and Bofri for the Dwarves (also agrees to use the outpost as the base for his project to re-open the Old Forest Road). Beorn agrees to send a representative as soon as the outpost is built, and in the meantime sends men and supplies to help.

Despite their good standing, and wise and persusaive words, none of the leaders agree to lend aid to Frar and his kin. There are no armies strong enough to spare the men, and few are willing to risk the lives of their countrymen in what looks like a fool’s errand.

1st Blothmath, 2949 (Autumn)

The three companions return to Lake-town, in time to participate in Dragontide. They give Frar the bad news, but suggest that he brings his kin to their new holding, for next Spring, and he agrees. If nothing else, the trek to the mountains will be easier from there.

The companions take part in the archery contest, each getting through the Wreath and Wand shots, but only the Elf scores highly: in fact, he outshines all the other contestants and wins through to the Ring Shot round. There he narrowly gets through the first round, and the second, and on the third round, cheered on by his comrades, he beast the other competitors and successfully wins the contest! He is awarded a gold replica of the Black Arrow and is cheered by the crowds.

In the aftermath, the three companions are invited to a feast and festival at the end of the month, and take some time out to rest and relax while they can.

End of Session

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Legend of Mor'du: Part 2
Session 52

Burial_Mound-exterior.jpg

17th Forelithe, 2949 (Summer)

As they squat down amongst the looming trees that cloak the slopes of the Mountains of Mirkwood a plan is hatched. They gather fallen branches of roughly the same size, straight, still sturdy, and head off immediately to the clearing where the black beast known as Mor’du lies asleep in the remains of an old barrow. Under the faint moonlight filtering through the foliage of the trees, visible only due to the clearing the barrow resides in, they see a tall yet narrow entrance leading inside: a squeeze for th beast, which surely gives them an advantage.

There are standing stones surrounding the hillock, one tumbled to the ground. While Gilthannas stands guard, Dafydd Ap Alfred quietly lays down the branches to use as rollers for the obelisks, which Alberic and Grimgar stand ready to push over. Their plan: shove the stone over, push it along the rollers, partially block the entrance to the lair, long enough for them to pelt the beats with arrows and hopefully destroy the amulet, robbing the great Mor’du of its power and immortality.

Their plan is a success! The stone falls with a thud, waking the bear inside, but the stone rolls along, blocks the entrance, and when Mor’du arrives at the stone, it is delayed long enough for Alberic and Gilthannas to send arrows in, shattering the amulet in a flash of fierce white light. The bear is enraged, shoves the stone aside, and climbs out, rearing over everyone. Grimgar leaps in, his great long spear stabbing out. His spear nicks and bruises, but for the most part it slides off the beast’s thick hide, doing little more then making it mad. But the distraction helps, and the others move in, jabbing with spear, swinging with Wolfbiter, peppering it with arrows.

But felling the beast is not easy: Dafydd is clawed, mauled, bitten, and almost goes down. Weary, he staggers to his feet, attacking its flank as Alberic moves in, swinging his axe; the Woodman is knocked back, his mail barely holding the deadly claws at bay; the one-handed berserker fights fiercely, shaking off rending claws and snapping claws; while the Elf stands back, shooting arrow after arrow, cutting the beast and bleeding it bit-by-bit.

Mor’du is soon weary, huffing and puffing as it slashes and snaps, but the loss of its amulet and the lifting of the curse has done its worse: a final arrow from Gilthannas takes the beast in the eye, and with a mournful howl, the black beast falls to the forest floor with a mighty crash; dead!

There is much rejoicing, and the beast is skinned, teeth taken, the barrow looted of anything of value, and the four hunters retreat into the barrow, sealing themselves in with the bear’s carcass and resting for the rest of the night. In the morning they bid farewell to Grimgar, who heads off to the West, leaving the three remaining members of the Company to the long journey back to Lake-town, which they hope to reach before mid-summer, to meet the Dwarf Chieftain of the Greydelve.

A week later they are in the eaves of the forest, a few days out from the marshes, when Dafydd, scouting ahead, spots unusual mounds of leaves ahead. He hesitates, wondering what they are, and the others come up behind him.

Suddenly, the leaves move, and monstrous spiders leap forth to attack!

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Legend of Mor'du: Part 1
Session 51

mountainsofmirkwood.jpg Accompanying Gloin to the Lonely Mountain, the Company are left outside for close to an hour whilst the Dwarf nips inside to speak to the King. When he returns it is with good news: in exchange for the location of the bronze globe that they found, they are permitted access to the Chamber of Mazarbul Under Erebor, where Munin the Keeper of Records will help them with their quest. They agree, and tell Gloin that Storr will be able to guide them to the ruins.

Inside the chamber they spend most of the day searching the records, until Gilthannas comes across a book of curses. In its pages are reference to Mor’du and a cursed amulet that is the source of its power and immortality. They record it on parchment and after bidding farewell to the Dwarves, they head out and spend the night in Dale. The next day they meet up with Grimgar and tell him everything they have learned.

The Curse of Mor’du

The manuscript was a book of curses, and as an example of turning one’s rage against themselves, the legend of Mor’du is given was told. It tells how an amulet is used to grant the wearer the strength of ten men, but if used in rage and for nothing just or noble, each use changes the user until they become a great bear, full of rage, their own identity driven out. Immortality is granted, at the cost of eternal suffering. To break the curse is to also remove the power, and is a simple matter of shattering the amulet. If this is done to Mor’du, then its immortality is removed; however, the curse has lain long upon it, and its strength does not ebb immediately; it takes a week to lose its great strength, reducing it to merely a dangerous black bear.

Going on a Bear Hunt

Grimgar is delighted and, over the course of an evening drinking, somehow manages to convince the others to join him in his hunt for the Black Beast; he knows where it has made its lair, and is convinced he can end the threat it poses once and for all.

They spend the next day gathering supplies and preparing for their journey, down to the Mountains of Mirkwood, where the beast’s lair lies. They purchase some strong nets, rations for the journey, and plenty of arrows.

It is at this point that Wilibald Took bids them farewell, hopefully only temporarily, as he heads off to the Easterly Inn to meet up with Popo Took and see to their growing business.

The three remaining companions, Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred and the Elf Gilthannas take off with Grimgar, the Beorning acting as guide.

They spend a week travelling back through the Long Marshes, then enter the dark depths of Mirkwood, as the first days of summer warm their backs, leaving the sunlight behind. For half-a-dozen days they hike through the thick forest and along the foothills of the Mountains of Mirkwood, until Grimgar draws them to a halt. He tells them that they are close, little more than a mile away. He leads them cautiously to the clearing where the beast lairs, the sky peeking through the canopy and revealing a star-lit night. They see a low hill, standing stones, and the entrance to some ancient barrow. They retreat and make camp at a safe distance, and as they settle down for the evening, plans are made…

End of Session

Current date: 17th Forelithe, 2949

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Secrets of the Long Marshes: Part 4
Session 50

marsh-ruins.png

While Gilthannas stays with Alberic, keeping him warm and doing his best to stop the Woodman’s blood from flowing from his wounds, the others head out in search of treasure and anything that might be of help tending to Alberic.

Storr loots the nest of the Marsh-Dwellers, finding a few coins and small trinkets of value. Dafydd and Wilibald fetch the locked chest from the room that was sealed. The Hobbit manages to pick the lock, and inside are more coins and gemstones. Wilibald pockets a lovely looking brilliant cut ruby that sits inside a fine mesh-cage of mithril, ready to be fastened to a necklace or chain. There is nothing else of value or use that they can find.

Leaving Storr to look after Alberic, the other companions head back down to the cave via the entry hall. While passing through the broken pillars, Gilthannas takes a look at the shattered-face statue that stands in an alcove shrouded in thick shadows. The air around it is cold, and a chill runs through him as he looks at the statue of a richly attired man, his face broken. A chill settles over the Elf, and he backs away, unsettled by the shadows that cling to the alcove.

Down to the cave they go, where the Orcs were slain and the bronze globe stood. They are surprised to find the bodies are missing, and Gilthannas spots a trail of blood swirling through the rising water: the trail leads up the rock ledge opposite, and the glimpse of an Orc hand can be seen peeking over the edge. Along the other ledge, a pool of still, black water stands. The cave feels chilled, and a sense of unease fills the chamber.

Deciding that there is no chance they could ever move the globe, the companions agree to leave it be and get out of the ruins. They craft a makeshift stretcher for Alberic and carefully hoist him up into the cold, misty night. They find a sheltered dell to make camp, fetch the two Orc-horses from where they are grazing nearby (Gilthannas uses his Elvenness to force them to obey) and make Alberic as comfortable as possible. They rest for the night.

11th Thrimidge, 2949

Alberic survives the night! His fever breaks thanks to the tender care of Gilthannas, and using the last of the Mirkwood Cordial that Radagast gave them the Woodman regains consciousness. Although wounded and weary, he is strong enough to mount one of the horses and travel. They slowly make their way through the marshes, avoiding potentially dangerous paths, and after more than a week hiking through the marshes and along the river, they safely return to Lake-town and find a place to stay.

Fellowship Phase

The Company bids farewell to Storr, and spend over a week recuperating. During that time they shop at the Market-pool, go hunting for herbs, and Alberic recovers from his wounds. Then, one night, they are all sitting at a table enjoying a round of ale, when a large Beorning approached them, enquiring if they are the warriors who faced Mor’du and lived to tell the tale. He tells them his name is Grimgar, who has been hunting the great bear for several years and has discovered that the beast is cursed. He believes the secret to breaking that curse, and therefore making Mor’du vulnerable and no longer immortal, lies in the ancient records of the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain. He wants their help getting that information.

The Company agrees, so long as there is no violence or subterfuge involved. They agree to ask their Dwarf friends and get him the information he needs. The next day they head off to visit Gloin and convince him to write a letter to introduce them to the Keeper of Records. He even agrees to go with them, to help get them inside without any trouble.

They pack their gear and head off to the mountain, to visit the Keeper of Records, and perhaps arrange a meeting with the King as well.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Secrets of the Long Marshes: Part 3
Session 49

orcs.jpg

The companions charge into the chamber, bringing battle to the three large Orcs that stand before the bronze globe that dominates the room. Maurdor, the lead Orc, slayer of Dafydd Ap Alfred’s father, an Orc of great size with a thickened hide and splendid armour (for an Orc) stands firm as Dafydd charges in, spear leading. The others are close behind, Alberic and Wilibald Took harrying the two elite Orcs, while Storr joins Dafydd, and Gilthannas keeps to the rear, loosing arrows at their foes.

The fight is long and hard, largely because Maurdor is so large and his hide so thick, that their blows slide off his skin and ping off his armour; while the two elite Orcs are worn down and dealt with swiftly, but before one of them falls, he delivers a mortal wound to Alberic, felling him. The other is taken out as Dafydd switches targets and spears the Orc; the feller of Alberic is taken down as Dafydd penetrates its armour and sends it to its death. The larger Orc eventually falls to a final arrow by Gilthannas, and the battle is won.

With Alberic down, the companions retreat from the cave and take the Woodman to the ruined hall, setting his body down on the stone table. They gather some wood from outside, light a fire, then settle down to decide what to do now.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Secrets of the Long Marshes: Part 2
Session 48

marsh-ruins.png

10th Thrimidge, 2949 SR

The stream running along the gully spills over the edge of the pit, the water cascading down the slope and splashing onto stone below. A pair of dark-skinned, red-eyed draft horses stand close, eyeing the Company as they stop at a safe distance. The early morning light filters through the rising mist, and aside from the sound of water falling, birds twittering away unseen, and the soft snorts of the horses, all is quiet.

Wilibald stealthily approaches the pit, where a spear has been plunged into the ground, a frayed rope hanging down. The horses snort a little as he approaches, but otherwise ignore the Hobbit. He peers down, seeing a 30’ shaft ending in stairs descending into darkness. He can’t see or hear anything, but the prints of Orcs are easily seen in the mud, and scuff marks on the mossy sides of the shaft tell of climbers heading down.

A plan is formed. Dafydd and Alberic both try to shoo the horses away, but it takes a lit torch to actually get them moving. They herd them further into the marshes, out of sight of the pit. Then they spend a couple of hours digging away at the slope, diverting the stream so that it starts to flow down into the pit instead. Then the Company and Storr back off to wait, making camp on the bank of the gully, guards keeping watch. Nothing happens after an hour, so Alberic ties a lit torch to the rope, and dangles it down: that gets a reaction, and an arrow speeds out of the dark, striking the torch and sending it crashing into the side, doused immediately by the waterfall. As the Company continue to wait, hoping to draw the Orcs out, Gilthannas looks around for more tracks or other ways in: he finds no other entrance, but does find the tracks of Marsh-dwellers, that they fought a couple of years back, the first time they ventured into these marshes.

The hours pass by and the day wears on. Late in the afternoon the toll of a bell echoes from the pit: the sound reverberates in the minds of the companions and they have to shake off the impulse to stride to the pit, heading to the bell. In fact, Wilibald, Storr and Gilthannas all find themselves suddenly pulling off their blankets and begin heading to the shaft. Alberic moves in front of the Elf and with a hearty slaps brings him to his senses; Dafydd does the same with the Hobbit, but Storr gets past them; but a las-second dive by Dafydd tackles the guide to the floor, and a slight struggle later, Storr finds himself free of the impulse.

And from below, they can all hear the sound of fighting: Orc voices, hissing voices, the clash of iron against stone and wet slaps of flesh being cleaved. It is over quickly, and in the silence Alberic drops another torch down. They heard Orcs cursing and the shuffle of feet as they retreat from the pit. Voices call out, then it goes silent again. Wanting to waste no more time, with evening coming on, the companions make a move: they secure two more ropes to trees, then rappel down the pit: Dafydd and Alberic go first, followed by Storr and Gilthannas, the Hobbit last. Storr and Wilibald light torches, and they start down the steps.

The stairs end at a vaulted chamber, the floor damp and a pool of water forming; water gushes down more steps to their left, tunnels lead off on either side, and at the far end an alcove holds a broken statue. Columns line the room, some fallen and lying broken on their side. The shadows dance in their torchlight. Some of the shadows move, and Orcs are revealed as the light falls on them: before the Orcs can react, the companions are already moving.

Gilthannas brings up his bow and lets fly a couple of arrows in quick succession, taking out an Orc archer that pops up from behind a fallen column. Alberic charges into a pair of Orcs, his axe landing a heavy blow, and his own mail coat taking the brunt of a spear that hurls his way. The others move past, engaging Orcs coming out of the tunnels: Storr runs one through with his sword, the others swiftly fall to axe and spear and sword, arrows flying from the Elf’s bow taking out another. The last Orc falls to Wilibald’s King’s Blade. Dafydd quietly explores the nearest tunnel, finding dead Orcs and Marsh-dwellers, a nest where the marsh monsters laired, and an old hall with a dented bell hanging from the fireplace. Further tunnels leading off are blocked by ancient cave-ins.

Slowly they explore the ruins, finding empty rooms, collapsed tunnels, a crypt and a locked door that opens into a room with a chest that holds coins and gems. There is also a flight of stairs leading further down, water flowing over the steps. From down there is a flicker of torchlight, and the sound of things moving. Gilthannas hears the sound of grunting, of exertion, faint curses in the Black Tongue of Orcs. He stealthily descends, but Dafydd follows, splashing loudly; the sound of swords being drawn is clearly heard, and with a shout for the others to follow, the Barding and the Elf charge down the stairs…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Secrets of the Long Marshes: Part 1
Session 47: Part 2

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3rd Thrimidge, 2949 (Spring)

The Company arrive safely at Lake-Town and go to visit Gloin, but the Dwarf is away, attending the King of the Lonely Mountain. They retire to an inn, and encounter an old family friend of Dafydd’s, a former soldier called Storr.

Storr, whilst scouting out the Long Marshes for some clients, spotted a warband of Orcs lead by the Great Orc (Maurgor) who slew Dafydd’s father during the Battle of the Five Armies. He agrees to take them to where he last saw them, and help Dafydd track down the Orc, to deliver justice for his late father.

The Company take a boat through the Long Marshes, leaving it behind (hidden in reeds) when they reach the centre of the marshland. On foot they hike across the boggy land until they locate the tracks of the Orcs.

The Company track the Orcs through the marshes for several days (to the 10th Thrimidge): the Orcs are searching for something, slowly moving through the land, allowing the Company to quickly catch up to them. The tracks come to an end in a gully, where a pair of dark-skinned, red-eyed draft horses stand by a pit, a rope hanging down inside, signs of Orcs all about, but none in sight.

They cautiously approach as the evening draws in.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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The Questing Beasts
Session 47: Part 1

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3rd Aston, 2949 (Spring)

The Company have been invited to participate in a Royal Hunt for the rare White Harts of Mirkwood, due to the generosity and increased Standing of Gilthannas.

Popo takes his leave of the Company, remaining at the Easterly Inn to help manage the Hobbits growing trade in Pipeweed.

From the Elven King’s Halls they venture out with groups of Elves, notably an Elf-maiden called Ruithel, who has recently been promoted to lead the border patrols and wields the symbol of the office, The Bow of Sudden Fury.

The hunt takes several days, but the Company spot a White Hart and manage to take it down, with the combined shoots of Gilthannas, Alberic, and a final arrow from Dafydd. As they approach it, they come across a pit, wherein the Bow of Sudden Fury can be seen. As Gilthannas climbs down and retrieves it, a pair of Dwarves (Polin and Pomin) appear out of an old tree, through a cunningly hidden door. They are wary of the companions, and it seems that they’ve taken Ruithel prisoner, believing her to be responsible for shaving the beard off their chieftain, Frar of the Greydelve. They intend to ransom her when he returns, to secure aid for reclaiming their home in the Grey Mountains.

The companions manage to convince the Dwarves to let her go, in exchange for agreeing to meet their chieftain and lend their aid in raising support to reclaim the Greydelve.

They free Ruithel, and to appease her, Dafydd offers the esteem of taking down the White Hart to her, rather than himself (as he sent the fatal arrow into its heart). She warily agrees, and they return to the Halls for a celebration and great feast, leaving both the Dwarves and the Elf-maiden in debt to the Company.

The Company leave the Halls in good-spirits and travel to Lake-Town.

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