The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

Servant of Tyrant's Hill
Session 35

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8th Afterlithe, 2948

The Company arrive back at Rhosgobel with their prisoner in tow, one of the Servants of Tyrant’s Hill, a man called Baldac. He has been quiet throughout the three-day journey and smiles as they approach the gates.

They are stopped at the gate by the Woodmen on guard, who are wary of letting them in with a prisoner in custody. They send for Iwald, the chieftain of this settlement, and he refuses to let them inside, saying that they’re bringing nothing but trouble to his gates and they have no desire to make things worse with Mogdred by taking a prisoner in for interrogation. If the Company want to deal with this prisoner, then they are on their own. He closes the gates to them, and tells them they’re welcome back when they’ve ditched their prisoner.

Not particularly happy with the turn of events, they are discussing whether to head off to one of the other Woodmen settlements instead, when another Woodman approaches them. He informs them that his name is Barac and that although they may not recognise him he fought with them at the Battle of Stonyford. He heard them talking and believes that the Woodmen need to know what threat Mogdred poses, so he offers them the use of his hunting hut a couple of miles into the forest, on the condition that they tell him whatever they discover so that he can feed it into conversations with his kin. That way the Woodmen will know what is going on, even if their chief isn’t interested. The companions agree and escort their prisoner to the hut, and leaving him inside while they plan the interrogation.

Their conversation goes back and forth, from violent threats and actual torture, to more gentle persuasion and just letting him go; they even discuss whether to let him go after they’ve learnt what they can, or just kill him. In the end Dafydd Ap Alfred goes in, while the others wait outside. Gilthannas and Popo Took stand guard, making sure they are not disturbed.

Inside the hut Dafydd does his best to appear intimidating, but his soft voice and words are more persusaive that threatening, and actually end up convincing Baldac that it is in his best interest to talk. By the time the Barding swaps places with Alberic, Baldac is happy to tell them what he knows in exchange for his freedom.

Seeing the wisdom in answering their questions, Baldac tells the companions that Tyrant’s Hill is a well-stocked fortress with over a hundred warriors, three dozen warhounds and two dozen warhorses. They are well-armed, trained soldiers who have spent the past few years defending the borders against Orcs and other foul creatures. In exchange for this information, he wants his freedom and to be allowed to return to his home, The Toft . If allowed to do so, he also tells them that Mogdred has a ‘pet’ troll that he keeps in the cellars.

Satisfied that he has told them what he can, they take him back towards Rhosgobel and let him go. Then, after informing Barac what they learnt, they decide to leave the Woodmen to their fate and head off on their own journey, looking for something more adventurous and profitable than acting as guards and scouts for the ungrateful Woodmen (as they see it).

They head off due West, to the Great River where the Gladden Fields sits on the opposite side. In the distance they spy a great rock rising out of the marshes, which tempts them but for now they pass on, following the river North, briefly stopping at the island further upstream where the River-folk trade; they exchange news, and all seems quiet of late. The River-folk tell them something about the large rock they saw: the Dwimmerhorn, a place of evil said to have once held a temple dedicated to the Necromancer of old. No one goes there and it is a refuge for Orcs and other foul beasts.

They continue on, and several days later arrive safely at Stonyford where they rest in the Thane’s Hall, their very own dwelling.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Baldac of Tyrant's Hill
Session 34

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1st Afterlithe, 2948 (Summer)

As the moot draws to a close and the various traders, representatives and envoys return to their homes, the Company takes it upon themselves to head through the Narrows of the Forest into Southern Mirkwood, to scout out the threat posed by Tyrant’s Hill.

They set off on a fine sunny morning, the long days of Summer ahead, and track the horses that Mogdred and his men rode in on, travelling along the Western edge of the forest until the horse prints disappear into the Narrows. Alberic lets his boots guide him to a sheltered dell a mile inside the forest, a defensible and comfortable spot to make camp. The night is uneventful and in the morning they follow old gaming trails that the horses took, making slow progress as they follow the tracks, sometimes losing them amidst the overgrown thickets and carpets of ivy and brambles. Soon they find themselves moving deeper into the South of the forest, the trees now black firs with thick canopies that block out the light. The mirk is deeper here, the shadows darker, and there is a staleness to the air.

Scouting a short distance ahead, Dafydd spots several Men approaching; all armed with swords and bows, one leading with a hound sniffing at the ground. They bear the markings of Tyrant’s Hill: a silhouette of a dragon coiled around a tower. The Barding slips back to warn the others, and they try to hide in the foliage. Both Hobbits disappear, fading into the dark; the Elf clambers up a tree, whilst the Woodmen and Barding simply duck behind the black trunks of trees.

Intend on ambushing the Men, neither Alberic nor Gilthannas realise that they are exposed, until a shout goes out and the Men appear ahead, spreading out as they realise something is amiss.

Dafydd Ap Alfred lets loose with an arrow, his unprovoked attack catching the leader of the Men in the arm; another arrow flies from the Elf’s bow, glancing off the leader’s mail. They cry out, a warning to each other, and a call to arms, and with swords draw the Men charge! Their leader lets loose his hound, while he takes up his own bow and lets loose an arrow at the Elf in the tree, striking his arm and almost knocking him from the branches.

Suddenly, Wilibald Took springs up out of nowhere, his brother Popo Took close behind, their King’s Blades striking at the man as he struggles to bring his sword up to defend himself: the man’s hound leaps at the Hobbits, but is cut down by Wilibald’s blade. Behind them, Dafydd and one of the Servants of Tyrant’s Hill clash, the Barding’s spear clashing against his opponent’s sword. Another charges at Alberic, who swings his axe high, decapitating him with the vicious blade of Wolfbiter.

The leader parries a blow from Popo, then bashes him on the head, and kicks the Hobbit in the chest, winding him. The Hobbit jabs with his own blade, and the small sword slips through the leader’s mail, piercing his heart and ending his life.

The other Servants jab and cut, driving Dafydd back with a series of blows; his mail keeps the blades from wounding him, but he is quickly worn out from the effort of parrying their blows. Another slips past, catching Alberic a glancing blow with his sword. That Servant suddenly staggers and falls as Gilthannas shoots him from above, then slips down from the tree. Dafydd rallies and thrusts with his spear, taking out another of the Men. One turns tail and flees, swiftly vanishing into the forest. The last Servants tries to follow, but finds his way cut off by the Hobbits.

“Surrender,” says Dafydd, trying his best to persuade the Servant to throw down his sword. The Man shakes his head: “Never!” He hurls himself at the Barding, but is knocked back by an arrow from Gilthannas, a kick from Alberic, and a shove from behind by Popo. The man trips over a root and crashes to the ground, his head striking the earth with enough force to knock him out cold.

The companions quickly grab some rope and tie him up. They pick him up and move away, seeking a safe place to camp. They decide to abandon scouting out Tyrant’s Hill and head back to Rhosgobel instead, with their prisoner in tow.

Three days later, pulling their laconic prisoner (whose name is Baldac) behind them, they arrive safely back at the settlement. Over those days their prisoner barely said a word, but now, he looks up at the hedge and the warriors guarding the gate, and smiles a cruel smile.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Folk-moot at Rhogobel
Session 33

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27th Forelithe, 2948

Three days before the midsummer Folk-moot at Rhosgobel the Company arrive safely at the settlement escorting the two Dwarves, Bofri and Regin (now with a wooden peg-leg). They immediately head off to see Radagast and find him having tea with another bearded old man, this one dressed in grey and sporting a blue hat. His keen eyes blaze above a busy beard, and he sizes the companions up as they pretty much barge in and pluck a mummified head out of their bag.

The grey man is introduce as Gandalf, the Grey Pilgrim, and a fellow Wizard and friend of Radagast. The name is familiar to some, but they know little about him. He, however, has been told all about them, and is fairly impressed by what he has heard. He’s only visiting, passing through on his way North, but is most interested in the mummified head they brought in.

The two Wizards confer as they prod and poke at the head, and reach a conclusion fairly quickly: this head has been subjected to foul sorcery, dark magic not seen in the land for many years. Whatever enchantment lay upon it has now gone, but Radagast will examine it further to see what link it may have to the recent happenings with the Orcs and outlaws.

In the meantime, Radagast wants the Company to attend the Folk-moot on his behalf, and sway the minds of the Woodmen to walk down the correct path in whatever decisions they have to make. He won’t elaborate further, merely saying if they follow their hearts they’ll know what to do. He also tells them that Ceawin the Generous is already here and has been asked for them. He shoos them out, turning his back on them as he and Gandalf continue with their tea and examining the mummified head.

Ceawin is housed in a guest hall, and welcomes the companions as they arrive. He is most pleased to see them, and wants them to put in a good word with the elders at the moot. He wants to unite his followers with the Woodmen, for mutual trade and exchange of knowledge. Dafydd Ap Alfred, Alberic and Wilibald Took convince him that mutual protection would also be a good incentive, and he agrees.

On the day of the moot, midsummer, mid-year, amidst a mix of festivities and trade, the elders discuss many mundane matters– trade, rumours, arming against raiding Orcs that are becoming a nuisance again– before moving on to more important matters.

Bofri makes a few deals with the Woodmen, asking for their help and support in re-opening the Old Forest Road and makes the offer to the Company as well. It is an ambitious endeavour, one that will take many years, but if successful it will make trade between East and West much easier.

Then the moot truly begins, with Amaleoda, Shieldmaiden of the Black Tarn up first: she announces that the people of Black Tarn wish to build a settlement on the North shore, raising a Hall where the river joins the lake, and welcomes any Woodmen who would settle there. Their harvests have been good of late, the fish in the lake are plentiful, and pestilent fogs from the South of Mirkwood have gone. It is a good time to build.

Next up, is Ceawin, and he speaks of the kin of the Woodmen in the East Bight, where the soil is fertile, and trade with Dale, Lake-town and Dorwinnion is within reach. They are already building a settlement there, and want nothing more than to be counted amongst the Woodmen, uniting together to share knowledge, skills and offer each other protection.

Ingomer Axebreaker, respected elder of the Woodmen, calls for silence as the Woodmen discuss the two offers, and raises his hand to call for a vote. But before he calls out, there is sound of a hunting horn, and cries from the gates. A bird flies down to Radagast, twittering about strangers at the gates. The elders, warriors, and of course the Company head to the gates to find a dozen riders approaching: they are well-armed, foreboding, and their weapons look well-made and well-used. Two large sacks hang from two horses.

“Only Woodmen and their friends are welcome here,” declares Ingomer.

The stranger removes his helm. “But I am a Woodman, by blood and birth. Don’t you recognise me? You called me Ingold, your son, though men now call me Mogdred.” Shaken, Ingomer sits down.

Mogdred address the crowd. “For many years, I was a slave in the dungeons of the Necromancer! Now I am lord of the place you call the Tyrant’s Hill, and I command many men.” He points his sword at Amaleoda. “You and yours would be long dead if it were not for our protection. Darkness returns to the forest, had you but eyes to see it. There are Orcs in Fenbridge, and shadows stir in Dol Guldur.”

A warrior in the crowd wants to know what Mogdred asks of this folk-moot. He responds with scorn, “A seat in the councils of the Woodmen, tribute from the Black Tarn, wives for my warriors, gold from the mountains. That stranger -” he points at Ceawin the Generous, “offered you trinkets and sweetcakes. My offer is of a more practical sort.”

His two followers up-end the sacks they brought with them. Dozens of Orc-heads tumble from them. “What say you?” he demands arrogantly. (Darkening of Mirkwood, page 15-16).

Always vocal, the companions make it known to all that these men are not to be trusted, that they attacked them and come from a place called Tyrant’s Hill. Not a name that conjures up friendship and alliances. The Woodmen are inclined to agree, but a vote is still called for.

Mogdred warns them that to reject his offer is asking for trouble, and threatens the Company. He also throws a bag of gold at his (allged) father’s feet: “Weregild to have Dagmar released”. Reluctantly they agree.

As the Woodmen discuss how to vote, the companions move amongst them, offering suggestions and advice, gently swaying opinion but generally just reinforcing what the Woodmen are already considering.

The vote is called: the Woodmen accept the proposals of both Amaleoda and Ceawin, and reject that of Mogdred. The Lord of Tyrant’s Hill and his Servants storm out, warning that they have not heard the last of him. He rides off with his men, and the Woodmen feel a chill as he leaves.

The following day, after bidding farewell to Ceawin and Amaleoda, the Company decide that they need to scout out Tyrant’s Hill to learn the level of threat it poses. They gather their gear and after planning their journey, they head South in search of their new enemy.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Against the Odds
Session 32

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The situation looks bleak. On all side there are Orcs and Goblins, the largest Orc standing over the slumped body of the Dwarf, the others all crowding around the companions; they in turn stand back-to-back, defending as best they can against overwhelming odds, Popo Took unconscious at their feet, his brother cut-off from the others, facing off against a pair of Orcs and their chief.

The Orcs surge forward, the smaller Goblins darting in with their stone spears; one falls as Gilthannas intercepts those attacking Dafydd Ap Alfred, cutting a Goblin down as it tries to jab the Barding with its spear. But one gets past, its spear digging into Dafydd’s ribs, nearly shredding his mail coat; in return the Goblin receives a whack to the head as Dafydd swings his spear, catching the foul creature a glancing blow that sends it staggering back a few steps. The act, however, pushes Dafydd too far, and his breathing grows laboured as he wearily tries to parry the blows of his relentless enemies.

Alberic, still going strong, pushes back agains the Orcs, swinging the mighty Wolfbiter two-handed, taking out two Goblins at once, their heads rolling across the ground. Another Goblin jabs its spear at Dafydd, the stone head glinting in the weak light, but the Elf dives in front, taking the blow, bruising ribs but preventing any further harm to the weakening Barding. Wilibald Took ducks a sword, his cap deflecting what otherwise might have been a mortal blow. The Hobbit rallies, slashing across the Goblin’s chest, drawing blood and causing the Goblin to rear back in surprise.

Alberic draws on his inner reserves, hoping to live to fight another day, and despite being weary he swings his axe low, cutting the legs out from under an Orc, who crashes dead to the floor. Dafydd, weary, wounded and barely standing, thrusts his spear with all his remaining strength, and a Goblin screeches in pain and then falls, dead. Another Goblin leaps over its fallen comrades, its spear stabbing with horrible strength against Gilthannas; the Elf is knocked back, winded and stunned.

Alberic and Dafydd, back-to-back and propping each other up, swings and stab, taking out another two of the foul creatures, and ahead of them, Wilibald jabs at the Orc chief, catching it by surprise as his King’s Blade digs into the Orc’s fleshy leg.

And suddenly, the companions are no longer quite so outnumbered, and the odds turn in their favour. Blocking the path to the Elf, the others grit their teeth and hack and slash; one Goblin falls, then another, and the chief staggers as an arrow strikes home; Gilthannas stands at the back, the way clear, his Woodland Bow in his hands, and another arrow already to fly.

Alberic takes a glancing blow to his helm, and retaliates with a weakened blow that sends the Goblin staggering backwards; then that Goblin simply turns and runs, disappearing into the forest. The chief Orc takes another arrow to his chest, and seeing the other Goblin flee, decides to follow the creature’s example and shoves the unconscious Dwarf at the Hobbit, then dashes into the trees and is quickly gone.

The last Goblins swiftly fall to the axe and spear, leaving the cramped clearing clear. Somewhere nearby there is a loud roar, as of some great beast, followed by a scream that is swiftly cut-off.

Alberic quickly bends over the unconscious Hobbit, singing an ancient song of healing to awaken Popo. Wilibald wakes up the Dwarf, who thankfully comes round and is uninjured. He and Gilthannas haul him to his feet, and as Alberic helps the wounded Dafydd, they hastily leave the area, travelling as far as they can before they settle down for an uneasy sleep, guards rotated throughout the night.

Nothing attacks or disturbs them in the night, and as the dawn breaks and the darkness of Mirkwood lightens a little, Alberic staunches Dafydd’s wound with a mixture of song and herbs, and with his wound treated, they hurry off through the forest. As they make their way through the dense forest, the Dwarf- Bofri- explains what happened: they were looking at the Old Forest Road, on their way to the Woodmen’s Moot, when they were attacked by a great black bear, which the companions believed to be Mor’du; then the beast ran into some Orcs, who fled, drawing the bear off, leaving him behind. The Orcs captured him, and used his as bait when they realised they were being followed by the Company. He is extremely thankful to have been rescued, and asks if they would be willing to escort himself and Regin to the Moot. They agree, and the next few days are spent travelling back to The Old Ford.

During the last stretch of their journey, Popo, on look-out duty, spies the glint of gold caught in a thin beam of sunlight that has crept through the foliage. The gold spills out of a leather bag, its strap still hanging from a low branch. He draws closer, but upon seeing a couple of bloodied teeth amongst the coins, decides to leave it well alone as a feeling of unease creeps over him.

They leave the forest and their spirits lift as they follow the old path towards the ford. Gilthannas, out hunting, comes across a ruined farmstead that shows signs of Orcs having attacked it. There are no signs of life, and the scene, whilst disturbing, is nothing compared to what the Elf has seen in his long life. He carries on, catching some wild pheasants for the evening meal.

Eventually, on the eve of the 11th Forelithe, they arrive back at The Old Ford and the Dwarves are reunited. In the morning they bid farewell to Gelvira Pot-stirrer and the Beornings who guard the ford, and spend several days walking at a pleasantly slow pace to Woodland Hall, where they spend over a week tending to their wounds, joining in songs and drinking, reflecting on the last few weeks, and discussing the future.

When they are all rested, the two Dwarves join the Company as they head off towards Rhosgobel, for the mid-year Summer Moot, where they are all expected.

End of Session & Fellowship Phase

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Orcs, Goblins & Bears! Oh my!
Session 31

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27th Thirmidge, 2948 (Spring’s End)

After leaving the H ouse of Beorn with the mummified head taken from Valter the Bloody, heading back to consult with Radagast, the Company spends the night at The Old Ford, guests of Gelvira Pot-stirrer in her Hall of Crossing; a frequently visited hall whenever they pass this way. They are hailed by the Beornings present, some of whom they fought with at the Battle of Stonyford, and ushered into the hall. There, they are presented to a wounded Dwarf, missing a leg and badly mauled.

Gelvira is tending him and the Dwarf wakes soon after they arrive. He was found bleeding along the Old Forest Road, where it cut through a pasture of one of the farmsteads. It looked like he had dragged his way along the road for hours, leaving a bloody trail behind him. The Beornings were about to send for Beorn, but as the companions are now Thanes of his, they are asked to find out what’s going on instead.

As the Dwarf comes round, he is questioned. His name is Regin, and he was journeying with several other Dwarves, the leader of which was Bofri, son of Bofur. They had stopped off to investigate the state of the Old Forest Road before carrying on to the Woodmen’s Moot at midsummer. They came across some Orc tracks and were debating whether to leave or go hunting Orcs, when a giant black bear– its hide bristling with broken weapons– burst from the trees and attacked them. Regin was knocked down, mauled, his leg cleaved from his body, and left for dead. He saw Bofri fall and before he lost conscious he saw the bear dragging him away. The other two Dwarves fell too, but he did not see their fate. He begs the companions to find out what has happened to his friends, and they agree to investigate; although none want to face the beast known as Mor’du again, if the giant bear is the same creature that attacked them nearly two years ago.

The next morning they pack their ponies and head off, hiking along the ancient road, into the thickets and crowded interior of Mirkwood. After spending most of the day searching, they come across the place where the bear attacked: two dismembered Dwarves lie scattered amongst the trees, thick with buzzing black flies. A clear trail of broken branches, churned earth, and bear-prints leads deeper into the forest, drag marks following in its wake. Worryingly, there are also more recent Orc footprints, seemingly following the bear. Maybe a dozen in all.

They spend an uneasy night camped in and up the trees, but nothing disturbs them in the night, except for a deep throated roar that fades away quickly. The silence that follows is soon filled with the creak of the trees and rustle of the foliage.

Another day of exploring and searching finds the Company moving deeper North into the forest, away from the overgrown road. They come across signs of a battle, with Orc blood sticky on the trees and ground, and the two sets of prints separating. The drag marks now follow with the Orcs, so the Company sets out after them, moving away from the direction the bear took. As the darkness of the forest deepens the keen-eyes of Gilthannas spots a body ahead, slumped against a tree at the edge of a small, cramped clearing. No sooner has he alerted the others, a yell rises from the darkness and with a roar and a clash of spears and swords, more than a dozen Orcs and Forest Goblins explode out of the trees; a larger Orc moves out to stand before the slumped figure, pulling its head back to reveal the bearded face of an unconscious Dwarf, battered but alive. The Orc ducks arrows sent sailing his way by Popo and Alberic, dodging the missiles with snake-like speed. The large Orc sends it spear hurling towards the Woodman, who is struck a glancing blow, but whose armour thankfully prevents the blade from cutting into his flesh.

The Orcs, surrounding the Company and outnumbering them three-to-one, clash in the middle of the clearing, the companions back-to-back as they fight for their lives. Wilibald, having ducked out of sight as the Orcs rushed in, pops up by the captive Dwarf, activating his Rune-scored shield as he whacks an Orc on the back of the legs as it rushes past him.

Dafydd, Alberic and Popo find themselves pressed close together as the Orcs jab away with spears and slash with their bent-swords; two strike Dafydd and Popo, winding blows that their armour turns away. The Barding retaliates with a well-placed jab, sending an Orc falling to the ground clutching its bleeding guts; Alberic nearly cuts another in half with Wolf-Biter, and Wilibald’s King’s Blade digs deep into the black heart of another.

Gilthannas finds himself defending with nothing more than a dagger, so it is no surprise when a Goblin’s spear gets past his parrying and sends the Elf staggering back with the horrible strength of the blow. Dafydd finds himself momentarily alone as the Elf staggers, and tries to block a heavy thrust of a spear: he fails, catching his foot on a raised root, and cries out in pain as the spear’s broad head cuts through his armour and scores red across his chest. Weary, Dafydd parries another blow, and looks for an opening.

And then Popo suddenly goes down as a pair of Goblins batter him senseless with the shafts if their spears. The Hobbit falls to the ground, losing consciousness as the Goblins swarm over him, heading straight for the Elf…

End of Session

XP Awarded: none yet, in midst of a fight for survival!

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 4
Session 30

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The Battle of Stonyford

16th Thirmidge, 2948

It is twilight, the glimmer of dawn just visible along the tops of the forest. The village of Stonyford is lit by torches and bales of hay set alight, archers and warriors lining the hastily built walls and palisades, watching the darkness for the enemy they know lurks beyond their light. To the South and East dwindling campfires mark the night, but there are no signs of movement, and no one is sure if there are dozens of warriors encamped nearby.

Atop the hill, where the old watchtower once stood, Valter the Bloody stands, bellowing commands for his men to stand their ground, be ready, keep watch. Oderic is close, clutching his stolen sword, watched by the ever-present trapper that shadowed him at the outlaws camp.

Then, suddenly, the silence of the night is shattered as three-dozen Beorning warriors bellow and charge in from the North, supported by Woodmen archers sending arrows over the barricades and into the outlaws. At the head of the charge, the Fellowship, sometimes Nameless, sometimes laughingly calling itself the Fellowship of the Frog, the Company let loose with arrows, felling an outlaw archer as they draw their swords, axe and spear, and clash with the warriors at the walls; behind them, moving to get a better aim, the Elf darts in and out of the shadows, arrows whizzing by.

Such is the ferocity and might of their army, that the companions quickly find themselves through the outlaws line of defence, scaling the walls, vaulting over the falling palisade; Popo shoots down an archer as he dives behind the wooden stakes but finds himself caught between the wall and an outlaw, whose axe cuts through the Hobbit’s armour, slashing him across his chest; his brother, Wilibald follows, stabbing the outlaw in the leg, sending him crashing to the ground. Another rears up behind him, but Popo jabs up and to the side, and the outlaw falls back, clutching his open stomach. The Hobbits fade into the chaos of the battle as it spreads out into the village, and disappear from sight.

Alberic and Dafydd wade into the midst of the outlaws, swinging axe and stabbing with spear, felling warriors, knocking others aside, moving through the enemy towards the hill where Valter, Oderic and Faron are plainly visible. The trapper spies them, and hurtles down the slope, his great axe swinging wildly as he charges into their midst. Gilthannas sends arrows towards him, but the trapper’s snake-like speed makes him a difficult target, and he dodges the deadly shafts.

Dafydd and Faron clash, axe clanging against spear, the Barding staggering under the impact; the clash slows the trapper down, allowing Alberic to catch him; and with a mighty swing of his axe, Faron falls!

Meanwhile, Wilibald pops up by Oderic, and they face off, swords out. The Hobbit tries to persuade the young man to surrender, and it almost works, but then Valter shouts at him to slay the child, and Oderic swings at the Hobbit… and strikes him down! Gilthannas slows him down with a well-placed arrow, and then up comes Alberic, and with a whack of his axe’s shaft, the Beorning-turned-outlaw slumps, unconscious.

Valter the Bloody looks down upon the battlefield and for the first time since coming to this land he feels fear: his men are dying, fleeing, the Beornings have started chanting “Beorn, Beorn” and in the growing light, a giant bear is breaking through the ranks, flinging men aside like they were nothing. He turns to flee himself, but comes face-to-face with Dafydd; the Barding ducks as the Elf yells a warning. An arrow embeds itself into Valter’s shield, the force of the impact forcing him to his knees. Dafydd raises his spear high, and with a mighty jab, pierces the large man’s mail coat, stabbing him in the heart.

Valter the Bloody dies as he is named, covered in his own blood.

19th Thirmidge, 2948

It is midday, at the top of the Carrock. Beorn sits in judgement of Oderic, captured during the battle. The companions have given their testimony, and largely thanks to his compliancy in the attack on Stonyford, Oderic is found guilty and sentenced to exile; to return to these lands will mean his death.

In the aftermath of the battle, with nearly two dozen of their own dead, Beorn took command, the dead were buried, the outlaws hunted and routed, and the village liberated. The Company, for their bravery and capture of Oderic, were asked to accompany Beorn to the Carrock, where his judgement would be made. By the time they reached the sacred rock, their weariness had passed and their wounds were healed.

As the Beornings escort Oderic out of their land, Beron thanks the companions and invites them back to his house for a celebratory feast. There he pays them the silver he promised, but more than that, he agrees to be their patron, and even more than that, he bestows upon them the title of Thane, and grants them land in the village they saved.

They spend the week at his home, enjoying the rest. Amongst the spoils of the battle they found a shrunken, mummified head that Valter was carrying with him. Beorn, wanting nothing to do with such strangeness, tells them to ‘go see the Wizard’, and so off they go to see Radagast as the last days of Spring brighten the land as Summer approaches.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each
Fellowship Phase as well: all Received Title of Thane, with a Holding in Stonyford (rating x).

Date of Next Adventuring Phase: 27th Thirmidge, 2948 (end of Spring).

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 3
Session 29

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12th Thirmidge, 2948

At The Old Ford the Company gather in the shelter of a farmstead, together with three dozen Beornings, a dozen Woodmen, and Beorn himself; who is bemused by the chatter of the companions as they plan and speculate about the outlaws and how to deal with them. He agrees to let them plan the battle, and hands over command of his men. As for himself, he heads off by himself, telling them that he will appear when they need him, and will bring the rage of Beorn down upon their enemies.

The companions watch him go, wondering if this is some sort of test as well, and the eyes of the warriors gathered around them all turn to the company.

The plan is a mix of stealth and brute-force: they intend to march their army close to the village, and hide them away in woods nearby. Then the company will lure away patrols of the outlaws, using the Hobbits and their ponies as bait, then take care of any outlaws that come to investigate a pair of Hobbits travelling alone with laden mounts. They head off soon after, an army of armed warriors on the move, the Company leading the way.

14th Thirmidge, 2948

Wilibald and Popo Took are camped with a pair of laden ponies, seemingly oblivious of the four outlaws sneaking up on the small, vulnerable Hobbits. The others, together with a pair of archer Woodmen, lie in ambush; but one of the Woodmen stumbles as he rises, alerting the outlaws, who shoot and take out the Woodmen with a well-placed arrow. That archer is in turn taken out by the well-aimed arrows of Gilthannas. The other Outlaws turn tail and run, but one finds his path cut off by the Hobbits, and manages to stab Wilibald, wounding him in the leg; they stab the outlaws in return, taking him out, but the other two, despite a quick arrow shot by the Elf, manage to escape into the night and head back to the occupied village to warn Valter the Bloody.

15th Thirmidge, 2948

Another camp is set, but this time the ambush is much more successful. As eight outlaws attempt to sneak up on the camp, unaware that the blankets hide nothing but packs and branches, the Elf’s keen eyes spot them early on. The Company lie in wait, this time with half-a-dozen men, and they leap out of hiding amongst the tall grasses and attack. The outlaws don’t stand a chance: Alberic, Dafydd and Gilthannas take out two before they even know what’s happening, their Woodmen allies take out another two of the outlaw archers; two try to flee, but the Hobbits leap out of hiding and between them take the runners out, leaving the last two to Dafydd and Gilthannas.

They return to their army, and plan their next move: drawing closer, now that the patrols are dealt with, close enough to charge up to the village to attack. The send others off to the East and South of the village, and those men set up fires to make it appear as if a small army is surrounding them; the outlaws barricade themselves in, and the stage is set for the Battle of Stonyford.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 2
Session 28

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25th Aston, 2948

After crossing the river, the Company soon finds sings of Oderic’s passage: the stolen boat is found a mile downstream, hidden amongst some reeds; boot prints only a few days old lead off towards woodland in the distance. They follow the tracks throughout the day, camping quietly and peacefully as night falls, picking up the trail again in the morning. In the afternoon they come across signs of a campfire, along with the broken blade of a knife that matches the one on Beorn’s men. On they Company travel, and on their third day out from the village, on the outskirts of the forest known locally as the Wolfswood, a place a favourite haunt of outlaws and wolves.

There the keen-eyes of Gilthannas spot signs of a fight, several men against one, who was captured and dragged off into the woods. They follow the tracks inside, and see signs of a larger body of men: tracks, felled trees, a lack of game about, smoke on the wind, and soon a faint murmur of voices muffled by the trees.

The rest of the Company settle down to hide amongst the leafy green, while Wilibald Took sneaks off to scout ahead, and soon finds himself looking down upon a sprawling camp of ill-made huts and lean-tos, bivouacs and ditches. Outlaws, their women and children, stray dogs, all mingled amongst the trees, many of which have been felled to build and fire. He spots patrols, and spies Oderic by the main tent in the centre, where a large and fierce looking man holds court. Being small and elusive, the Hobbit sneaks into the camp, hiding in the shadows and behind trees, listening to the rough voices: he quickly learns that they are led by a would-be King of the North, a man called Valter the Bloody, who has led these Southern Men here, promising them riches and land once they invade Wilderland. Oderic, it appears, is his guest, but it is obvious to Wilibald that he is also a prisoner, guarded and shadowed by a grim looking man bearing all the trapping of a Trapper and Hunter.

There are roughly fifty able warriors, nearly two hundred outlaws in all, including all the family and hangers-on that came with them. They are preparing to march to war, but only Valter knows where they’re going.

Wilibald goes back and tells the others, and they discuss– at length– what to do: in the end they decide to abandon their mission for Beorn and head to Stonyford to warn them, fully expecting that is where the outlaws are going to attack first. They leave immediately, setting off on a forced march to get ahead of the outlaws by as many days as possible. It tires them, but they are getting used to travelling, and in a couple of days they reach the village.

Dafydd and Alberic convince Ava and the other leaders to evacuate the village, taking everyone and as much as they can carry up to The Old Ford, escorted by all the Company except Gilthannas, who is sent off to Woodland Hall to warn them and ask for help. He heads off as they village empties, and the others make their slow way up following the river, taking several days to reach the Ford. There they send one of the Beornings off to warn Beorn, while sending the villagers off to Beorn’s House where they hope they’ll be safe.

In the meantime, Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred, Popo Took and Wilibald Took head back to the village, and after a couple of days they come in sight of the village, and see that the outlaws are already there and have been for a day or two, already fortifying it and occupying the few houses. They briefly scout the area, counting fifty warriors, give or take, and head back to the ford.

There they find Gilthannas together with a dozen Woodmen, and word that Beorn is coming with an army of Beornings, two days away.

The Company waits and starts to plan their attack on the occupied village of Stonyford

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each for Alberic, Dafydd and Wilibald.

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 1
Session 27

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19th Aston, 2948

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, 2948.

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Words of the Wise: Part 2
Session 26

thranduil.jpg

1st Rethe, 2948

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, 2948

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.

orcs.jpg

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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