The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 1
Session 27

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19th Aston, 2498

One early Spring morning, as the Company is travelling along the Great River, delivering a message to Beorn from Radagast, they approach a wooded stretch where crows circle and caw.

Under the shelter of the trees a dull thump, like a muffled drum, can be heard. A thud, thud, thud, and the buzzing of flies attracts the attention of the companions as they lead their ponies along the bank. Ahead, just visible through the branches, a rowing boat can be seen, above which the crows circle. Gilthannas nimbly climbs a tree to get a better look over the area, while Dafydd Ap Alfred and Wilibald Took cautiously approach the boat, Alberic and Popo Took keeping watch.

In the boat are two dead men, pierced by black-shafted arrows, the arm of one man thumping against the side of the boat. They congregate around the dead, respectfully lifting the bodies out: both as Beornings, with well-made cloaks and travelling gear; each has a silver bear-head pin, and a sword lies still sheathed on one of the men. The other’s sword is missing. There is also some rope, cut and frayed, lying in the boat and provisions for another day or two’s journey. Wherever these men were travelling, they were escorting someone (a prisoner maybe?) and were close to their destination. The arrows are of orc-craft.

With Beorn’s Hall less than a day away, they lift the bodies onto the backs of their ponies, collected the gear, and head off.

When they arrive at the Hall, they find a pack of intelligent hunting hounds following them in, howling mournfully as they scent the dead men. Beorn himself sits in front of his house, whittling wood, and takes the grim news well all things considered. He ushers the companions into his Hall whilst a Beorning comes to collect the dead and stable the ponies.

Inside they impress Beorn with their words and deeds, and deliver Radagast’s message as well: he is interested in any news of Orcs in the area, after the [[Words of the Wise: Part 2 | Battle of Woodland Hall]]. Beorn tells them that there have been sightings of Orcs, and that he is none too pleased about it. He’ll deal with them if he comes across any intruding on his land.

The Company dine with him and other Beornings who come in, sharing tales of the dead men (Merovech and Odo, Thanes of Beorn and some of his most trusted men). The mood threatens to turn grim and sad, but then Alberic and Gilthannas sing tales of heroism about rescuing Hobbits and meeting the Elven King, and the mood lightens again.

They spend the night, and in the morning break their fast with Beorn, who has piled a dozen Orc helms on the table. He tells them that he went out last night, found some Orcs, slew them, and determined that there was a prisoner on the boat with Merovech and Odo, who escaped and fled. He was heading South along the river, and as a favour to him, he asks the companions to track down this prisoner and bring him back for judgement. They agree and politely decline the offer to attend the funeral, saying that they wish to give chase straight away and honour the fallen by completing their mission. Beorn is impressed, gives them his Blessing and some twice-baked honey cakes, and sends them on their way.

Over the course of the next few days the Company follow tracks and signs, chasing the prisoner along the river. They come across a dead Orc, slain by a fine-edged sword; meet an Old Man at a farm where a stranger spent the night; and exchange news with some Woodmen on their way to Mountain Hall, who tell tales of murder in the nearby village of Stonyford.

Upon approaching Stonyford, they are met by Hartwulf, Ava and Wiliferd, an old greybeard, his daughter and the village spokesperson, and their best warrior. They reluctantly welcome the companions in, although demand they hand over their weapons for the duration of their visit. The fact that they have been here before, albeit briefly, and are on a mission for Beorn helps ease their worries. As soon as they are welcomed in, they insist on holding a village meetings, and quickly learn that a murder took place several days ago, when Oderic murdered Rathfic, over some quarrel concerning Rathfic’s wife, Brunhild; the wife is absent, so they head to her house and interrogate her, seeing through her lies, and learning that Oderic was there only a couple of days ago, and that the murder may have been an accident fuelled by rage. She helped him steal a boat and cross the river, and he vowed never to return.

After a night spent at the village, they cross the river themselves early in the morning, and head off in search of Oderic.

End of Session

Current Date: 25th Aston, 2498.

XO Awarded: 1 each.

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Words of the Wise: Part 2
Session 26

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1st Rethe, 2498

As soon as they are ready the three companions head off, following the edge of the forest towards Woodland Hall, where they collect Popo Took and Gilthannas, and filling them in on recent events as they travel on to The Old Ford, where they spend a night in a clearing sheltered by a few budding oaks. The Beornings on duty tell them that there have been rumours of Orcs in the forest, but that they’ve not seen any in the past few weeks.

That night, as Wilibald Took takes his turn on watch, an unseasonal chill settles on the camp. The Hobbit draws his blanket over his shoulders and shuffles closer to the dying fire, throwing a few twigs on it. The wind seems to whisper, whistling through the branches of the trees, almost as if a fell voice was uttering some mystic incantation…

In the morning, the others awake to find Wilibald is missing, his watch abandoned and his brother left sleeping. The others look for tracks and find his footprints, and his alone, leading off along the river. They break camp and follow the tracks, and find a sleepy Hobbit under a twisted old silver birch with its thin branches hanging over the Hobbit. Wilibald can remember little of what happened, and feels ill-at-ease long after they leave the tree behind.

On the 14th Rethe, after spending a pleasant night at the Easterly Inn, they arrive at the Forest Gate. The journey so far has been largely pleasant, the first signs of Spring all around them, budding plants and trees unfurling their colourful leaves, flowers peeping from their sleep, the ground shrugging off the frost of Winter. Birds are singing, the river flowed fast and chill with the melting of snow and ice further up the mountains, and the Company find themselves refreshed and invigorated as they stand outside the tunnel-like path that leads deep into the Mirkwood.

They shoulder their packs and loosen their weapons, and start down the twisting, turning Elfpath. As the day draws on, and the sun fades away beneath the canopy of the forest, Gilthannas becomes aware of figures in the trees: Elves following them. He quietly alerts the others, and so no one is surprised when a voice calls out to them and an Elf steps forth: Gilthannas recognises him instantly; it is his elder brother, Haldir. The two parted on ill-terms when he last saw them and although his icy stare seems to have thawed somewhat, he still speaks down to his younger brother. He tells them that they are expected, as Radagast had sent word ahead. They are to follow him into the forest, North of the path, to meet with an envoy of the King.

For the next couple of days, Haldir and half-a-dozen Elven hunters escort the Company along secret paths and trails, travelling swiftly through the forest. They soon arrive at a clearing where the stump of an ancient oak sits draped with cloth-of-gold, laden with fruit and goblets of fine wines, meats and other refreshments. More Elves stand close, watchful and on guard. Haldir tells them to wait, and leaves to fetch the King’s envoy.

Not long after an Elven Lady arrives, beautiful in that otherworldly way of the Elves. Gilthannas recognises her as a respected member of the King’s court: this is Irimë, one of the Noldor and an ancient Elf. It is rare to see her outside the court of the King.

Irimë accepts the message from Alberic after he tells her that he is willing to trust her (which does not seem to go down too well with the Elves), and after gently quizzing them about its nature, she disappears back into the forest. A few hours go by, during which time Alberic helps himself to the food, and is at first rebuked by Haldir, but then the Elf reluctantly allows the companions to refresh themselves while waiting.

Irimë eventually returns, along with a travel-stained tall Elf, who Gilthannas immediately recognises as none other than the King himself, Thranduil. He quickly whispers this to the others, and everyone is immediately on their best behaviour.

They explain what happened at Rhosgobel and that the Brown Wizard asked for advice and help. They are courteous and persusaive, although a little unlearned in the ways of talking to a King. Thranduil is short with them, but by the end of their short conversation is impressed enough to send a War Party back with them, with Haldir in charge. He allows them to spend the night in the clearing, and departs with Irimë.

The next morning the Company head back to Rhosgobel with a hundred Elves, and the journey back is easy and swift. Radagast is overjoyed to see so many Elves and quickly holds a meeting with Haldir, the village Elders and the Company. Word is that the Orcs are on the move, heading to attack Woodland Hall. The Wizard wants them all to hurry there, collecting able-bodied Woodmen on the way, to make a stand against any Warband sent against them. There is general agreement, and the next day they head off.

6th Aston, 2498

The town of Woodland Hall is quiet as the day draws on a close. The families are safely hidden in the caves or sent away to nearby farmsteads. Woodmen man the stockade, the platforms in the trees, and the Elves are hidden all around. The Company are behind the gate, acting in reserve, while the Wizard moves about, doing whatever it is that Wizards do.

As the sun sets, the Orcs attack.

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There seem to be hundreds, although it is difficult to tell in the darkness. As the enemy charge in, screaming and hollering, the Elves send fiery arrows flying through the darkness, setting alight to bales of hay and carts of firewood. Flames leap up, throwing light on the charging Orcs. Arrows fly back and forth, spears hurl through the play of light and shadows, and battle is joined as the Orcs clash against the hedge and stockade.

Most of the battle is heard by the companions, but not seen; other than silhouettes of Orcs fighting Woodmen and Elves, arrows whizzing by, and glimpses of swords flashing in the firelight.

Suddenly, a group of Orcs scale the hedge and vault over the stockade, where a gap has left it undefended. Ten sword and spear-wielding Orcs land with a thud, sneers on their faces. Two are caught by surprise as arrows from Dafydd Ap Alfred and Gilthannas glance off their dirty mail coats; then the Company charge to deal with the intruders, arrows and spears flying back and forth as axes and swords clash, glancing off shields and mail.

The first Orcs fall to Alberic’s Wolfbiter and Dafydd Ap Alfred grievous spear; another staggers back after Gilthannas lodges an arrow in its leg. Popo Took finds himself parrying a blow from a vicious Orc, the ringing of steel almost making his knees buckle. Then, he sees a stag standing amidst the battle, still as a statue, and all about him the battle seems to still and quiet; the moment passes, and everywhere else it seems that the battle has moved on, and there is no sight of the stag.

One of the Orcs slashes at Dafydd with its bent-sword, but the Barding’s mail protects him; then the Orc suddenly looks at him with horror and turns and flees! Another Orc lashes out at Alberic, almost rending his armour. The Woodmen shouts out in challenge, dropping his shield and wielding his axe in both hands: he swings wildly, his rage getting the better of him, and ends up missing the Orc. Wilibald Took leaps behind the Orc, jabbing it in the leg from behind, and another falls to the Elf’s arrows.

Then, from nearby, another Woodman sees the fight and hurries to help… but it is no Woodman. It is none other than Dagmar, who has been a thrall since her attack the previous year. She spots Dafydd, and seeking revenge she attacks him, wielding an Orc sword she picked up from the dead. She deals a glancing blow against him, and the Orcs swarm around them, leaving them to duel as the others continue the fight.

The two Hobbits fight back-to-back, taking out an Orc and injuring another; a rain of arrows from the Elf takes out another Orc and makes another duck. Then an Orc turns on Alberic, and deals the Woodman a staggering blow, forcing him to his knees.

Dafydd stabs Dagmar, who decides flight is better than fight; and she turns and flees; but Dafydd simply draws his bow and shoots her in the back, sending her sprawling into the earth. He grabs his spear and rejoins the battle, jabbing an Orc through the chest and slaying it with a single blow. He swivels and takes out an Orc Wilibald just stabbed, and suddenly there is only one Orc left standing… but not for long, as Alberic manages to master his anger and deals the last killing blow.

The night has advanced considerably, and the first glimmers of dawn spread through the trees. The battle outside is all but over, the Orcs dead or routed. As dawn breaks over the settlement, a cheer goes up, and the Battle for Woodland Hall is over.

End of Session

XP: 2 each.

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Words of the Wise: Part 1
Session 25

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1st Rethe, 2498

While wintering at Rhosgobel, Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred and Wilibald Took are invited to take part in a hunt to celebrate the end of winter.The best hunters of the settlement are boasting and bragging as they form hunting parties, while the rest of the townsfolk watch on and bless their hunting, with children playing and laughing as the dogs run around. The companions join a party of four, led by a boastful Woodman named Amalric, accompanied by his younger and eager to please brother, Evoric; with them are warrior called Heva, a woman as fierce and as strong as any man, and a laconic hunter called Thorismund, who is still grieving the loss of his wife the previous winter.

There is a healthy sense of competition between the parties as they head off into the woods, and Amalric is soon bragging about his and his brother’s hunting prowess, which irks Dafydd. They decide to split up and hunt stag and deer as they come across prints and spot their prey between the trees ahead. The companions are left alone to hunt as many deer as they can, and are soon giving chase to a small herd as they stumble through the woods. Dafydd fells a deer with his great bow, but the others fall behind and lose sight of the each other.

Suddenly, there is the sound of horns blowing nearby, cut off just as suddenly with the accompaniment of a cry of pain, a shout, and the clash of iron. Alberic and Dafydd race into a clearing to find five Orcs and three Goblin Archers engaged with the rest of their hunting party; Amalric stands over the unconscious body of his brother, while a wounded Thorismund is felled by an arrow as the heroes rush in, while Heva fends off three of the Orcs, but is struggling to keep them at bay.

The battle is joined, with goblin arrows flying into shields and thudding into trees; then one of the goblins shrieks as Wilibald suddenly appears behind it, stabbing it in the back. He then shoves past the creature and dives into the fight, scoring a lucky hit and taking out an Orc fighting Heva. Alberic rushes past, and up the slope to take out the wounded Goblin, while Dafydd shrugs off an arrow, then spears an Orc through the heart. Another Orc falls as Alberic charges back down the slope, Wolf-Biter glowing blue as it reacts to the Orcs; the Orc shows fear as the axe-head swoops down, but has little chance to react more as its head flies from its shoulders.

More arrows fly, and an Orc hacks away at Dafydd, pounding on his shield and armour, quickly wearing the Barding down; he kicks the Orc back, and that Orc turns and flees, but is taken down by one of the hunting hounds that is returning after hearing the call of the hunters horn.

Alberic races across the battlefield again, decapitating another Goblin, but grazed by an arrow for his trouble. Wilibald fends off an Orc, leaving it open for Dafydd to move in, and spear it. The final Orc falls down, dead; and the last Goblin, after exchanging blows with Alberic, finds itself caught by a wild swing of the Woodman’s axe, and falls to its death.

They help Heva and Amalric tend to the wounded, and after collecting a few tokens from the dead Orcs, they carry the wounded hunters back home. There they learn that there were other attacks, a coordinated effort to ambush the hunters; thankfully there were no deaths, just a few wounded men to deal with, and Radagast is found helping tend the injured.

The companions take their tokens to the Wizard and he takes a good, long look at them, and something he sees troubles him. He excuses himself, and returns a short time later, enough time for Dafydd to recover (with the help of one of the Wizard’s heavy brews). He hands them a scroll: “Take this message to the Elven King,” he says, " and see what help he offers. If Thranduil proves obstinate, remind him that the Beast is terrible, and that if its gaze was no longer focussed on the Woodmen, it would quickly turn North. If there is any indication that the Orcs are organised by some agency… matters are dangerous indeed. Go swiftly. There is no time to lose!”

They gather their gear, collect their ponies, and head off towards Woodland Hall to meet up with Gilthannas and Popo Took before embarking on their journey to the Woodland Realm.

End of Session

XP: 1 each for Alberic, Dafydd and Wilibald.

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An Easy Winter
Fellowship Phase

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21st Winterfith to 30th Solmath

End of Year Fellowship Phase

The Nameless Fellowship spend the rest of Autumn at Woodland Hall, then travel to Rhosgobel to spend the Winter so that they are close to Radagast in case he needs their aid.

Alberic spends a few weeks travelling with traders to Dale, where he has Wolfbiter reforged. He takes a slow trek back, in the company of some Dwarven craftsmen looking for work, and spends a good few nights singing and drinking away the Shadows that still haunt him. He arrives back at Rhosgobel before Winter sets in, joining the others enjoying the company of fellow Woodmen on the long, cold nights.

Dafydd spends some time sending gifts and messages back home to Dale, establishing himself as a Person of Interest, the gold going to help orphans from Orc attacks. Storr, an old friend of his father’s, sends back a message saying thank you. Dafydd also spends some time time with the Woodmen, exchanging tales and songs, and dispelling some of the lingering darkness of the past few months.

Gilthannas shares Elven songs with the Woodmen of Woodland Hall, lifting some of the sadness affecting his mood, and so impresses them that they ask him to join them in their hunting. He agrees and finds himself not as skilled at hunting as he would like to believe; still, the experience was a rewarding one, and he decides to stay on at the town for the rest of Winter, learning from the Woodmen. During his next hunt he fells a a Fat Forest Boar, and everyone feasts well that night.

The two Hobbits spend the first weeks ensuring that their fledging Pipeweed Business is still going, and find that they have broken even so far. Wilibald Took spends a few nights at the Easterly Inn, lifting the Shadows from his heart, and after he returns to Rhosgobel, he asks Radagast about his shield, learning from the Wizard that it is cursed with the Taint of the Shadow, and that so long as he carries it it will weigh heavily on his soul. Someone else may know how to lift it; Radagast also reveals that it is scored with Runes of Protection, and despite the curse upon it, the shield will be very useful to a small Hobbit.

Popo Took decides to enjoy the company (namely the food and drink, and the fireside tales) that the Woodmen of Woodland Hall offer, and stays there while the his brother heads back to Rhosgobel.

The weeks and months go by, and as the Winter days draw to an end, travellers bring gossip from further afield, and the companions hear some of the news from the rest of Wilderland:

  • A party of Dwarves from Erebor were attacked by a fierce Wolf when they ventured off the Elf-Path. Some say that the Werewolf of Mirkwood has returned, others think it was some trick of the Elves for wandering off the path.
  • Orcs have been sighted in the forest near the settlements, with them occasionally raiding farmsteads or small villagers.
  • Warriors from Tyrants Hill have been harassing travellers from the East Bight the Black Tarn, depending tribute to their Lord; so far violent conflict has been avoided.
  • There was a scuffle at the Easterly Inn, between a pair of Beornings and several Viglunders; the Bear-Men won, and sent the others running.

End of Fellowship Phase

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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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