6th Halimath, evening, 2948 (Autumn)
The Orcs press their attack, arrows flying through the darkness, Uruks and mountain Orcs clambering over the rocks, and their leader shoving his way forward, twirling a jar of some foul-smelling concoction that the companions can smell from the hilltop. The jar shimmers with a heat haze, but no fire flickers forth. And above their heads, something flies through the night, wings beating, terrible screeches shredding the night; even the Orcs and Goblins look up, worried.
The companions seize the opportunity of that hesitation, driving back the Orcs: Wilibald and Dafydd taking out an Uruk each, sword and spear cutting them down; Gilthannas drops an archer with a well-aimed arrow, sending the Goblin crashing into the midst of its kin below. Alberic drives an Orc back by slamming his axe against its shield, and Popo keeps an Orc at bay as it tries to break past him to get to Irimë, who is still standing there, looking up into the sky.
The two Hobbits move back to shield the Elf, and they raise their voice in song, joined by Irimë’s sweet voice, and the sound of their combined song fills the hearts of their allies with renewed hope: they stand taller, parrying blows against them, driving the Orcs back a few paces. Alberic takes down an Uruk, cutting its legs from underneath it. The Orc leader stops and raises his arm to hurl it at the Company, but a well-placed shot from Gilthannas sends it flying back into the massed Orcs, setting several alight.
Then suddenly, from the sky, huge dark winged creatures drop from the night sky: Eagles! One sweeps down and lifts Irimë into the sky; others grab Orcs, rending them apart, sending them hurling to the rocks below; an Eagle grabs each of the companions, lifting them away. Wilibald is last, and as the eagle lifts him up, the Orc leader lets loose an arrow that takes the eagle in the chest. But despite this wound, the Eagle struggles into the air, and soon the Orcs and the hilltop are left behind.
The Eagles fly them to a wide ledge somewhere in the mountains. Then a giant Eagle, with a wingspan of 100-feet or more, swoops down out of the sky. It lands with a thud that shakes the ledge, and speaks first to Irimë:
“We heard your song on the wind, but it was the light that guided us to you. Long has there been friendship between your kind and mine, and we came when we were needed.”
The Eagle then turns to the companions and asks: “Gaerthor, one of my chieftains, was grievously wounded as he rescued you from the Orcs. Tell me, whose lives did he buy with his courage?”
They introduce themselves in a roundabout way, trying the patience of this Lord of Eagles. In the end he allows them a night of uninterrupted rest, and says them that he’ll ensure they are safe to continue their journey. His Eagles will even drop off near the
High Pass. He flies off, and the Company settle down for the night.
After being dropped off by the Eagles, the Company travel to the ruins that lie at the foot of the pass. The Company have been here before, about a year ago, when they went looking for the missing Hobbit and his caravan. They fought a wight there, and it is with wariness that they approach the ruins.
“I have been here before. This was Haycombe, the trader’s town leading to the Cirith Forn en Andrath. It was built by Middle-Men with golden hair who traded over the Mountains. They were a kind folk. They held a market here, and my kin from Lindon would come sometimes, and we would dance in the snow. The Men would laugh to see us run," says Irimë.
“They are gone, now. Some went South, with a brave chieftain called Eorl. Others stayed, until the shadow in the forest reached out and destroyed them. Treachery brought the enemy into the town, his horrors took the people here as slaves, and then there was no more laughter in the pass.”
She goes on to say that this is where the Lords of Rivendell will come to meet them. They will camp here. The companions set guards, camping in a place amongst the ruins that offer them the best protection.
While the two Hobbits are on watch, and Irimë walks nearby, gazing at the ruins as if seeing them in some other time, Popo spots something moving towards them: a shadow, vaguely humanoid, moving swiftly. It heads straight to Irimë, and as it grows nearer, a sudden darkness falls on the Hobbits, and before they can do anything, the shadow reaches Irimë, embraces her, and then everything falls into darkness!
The Company awakens in a field, by an old farmhouse, in the morning, to the sound of horses and wagons, laughter and voices. They find a town before them, on the ruins where they moved amongst in the night. A large town, full of life, with yellow-haired men on horses, traders coming to market, and a bunch of children looking at them over the low wall. There is no sign of Irimë.
“What’re doing, sleeping outside in this field?” asks one of the boys. “There’s a perfectly good inn just off the market square.”
The companions, confused and wondering just what the hell is going on, follow the boy into the town as he offers to show them the way to the inn. He introduces himself as Haleth, the son of the local guard’s captain. His father is returning soon with the Alderman, he tells them, as he leads them to the inn. Inside there are a few men, and an Elven woman in the corner, looking somewhat out of place. They pass the market, where a crowd is forming by the main road, eager and excited about something.
Inside the inn, they meet Aldor, the old greybeard they runs the inn, and Geb, a minstrel looking to make some money: for a few coins he tells them that it is the year 2460, and that the Alderman of the town with his guards went South to see if the Evil has returned to the forest. He is on the road now, returning from the South with news. The Elf in the corner, he tells them, is called Rowden, from Mirkwood. An envoy from the King.
The noise of the crowd outside grows louder: the Alderman and his men have returned. Haleth leads the companions upstairs, to look out of the window to see the crowd below. Further up the road comes a golden wagon, with the Alderman standing atop it. His men and strange warriors in red-garb flank and follow him. They reach the crowd and it parts around them. A few onlookers watch on, their faces turning serious, then confused, then fearful…
The Alderman – a tall man, wearing an exceptionally fine torc of gold and well-made armour – stands and raises his hands. “People of Haycombe! People of the North!” he announces. “Your true lord has returned!”
And then the killing begins.
His guards lift their heads, drawing swords, revealing pale dead skin and dead eyes: with their undead claws they tear into the crowd, rending flesh; others move towards the inn; and the red-garbed warriors suddenly charge into the midst of the crowd as well, cutting people down with long picks and axes; others too turn to the inn, especially when Dafydd, Popo and Gilthannas pepper them with arrows, taking two of the warriors out. The others race downstairs, helping Aldor, Geb, Haleth and Rowden barricade the doors: the undead warriors claw at the windows and doors, breaking into the inn; Wilibald manages to force them back, hacking off an arm in the process, but them keep standing and keep coming. He breaks off and rushes to the hearth, grabbing a lit piece of wood. Alberic hacks away at an undead warrior, but gets too close and is clawed across the mail coat he wears, tearing rings away. Dafydd races downstairs to help, joining in the battle below.
Upstairs Popo and Gilthannas take down another red-garbed warrior, and then see others moving in, torches blazing in their hands, and tracing arcs of fire across the street as they hurl the burning torches onto the roof of the inn: the fire catches and the inn starts to burn!
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.