The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

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

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3rd Thrimidge, 2949 (Spring)

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

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

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

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

They cautiously approach as the evening draws in.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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The Questing Beasts
Session 47: Part 1

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3rd Aston, 2949 (Spring)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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End of Year Fellowship: 2948
Fellowship Phase

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The Company spend an End-of-Year Fellowship Phase at Rhosgobel:

Gilthannas gifts his gemstone to the Elven King, increasing his Standing, and himself and his companions are invited to a Royal Hunt this coming Spring; Dafydd gifts his cunning-make armour to the Woodmen, and learns all about his helmet and its qualities; Alberic confers with Radagast, learning more about exploring the Wilderland, and goes hunting with the Woodmen, gathering nuts and berries; the Hobbits spend most of their time eating, smoking, and sleeping. Popo journeys to the Easterly Inn as the snows thaw, settling down with his cousins to help build their blossoming pipeweed business. Wilibald continues with the Company, for now, wanting to learn about his shield before he returns to join his brother.

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A Darkness in the Marshes: Part 3
Session 46

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As the Company talk, they hear more horns sound in the mist-wreathed night. Orcs! Closing in on them, figures seen outlined in the mist by the weak moonlight. Lots of Orcs, heading their way.

Hauling Walar to his feet, they head off across the marshland, intent on returning to Mountain Hall as swiftly as possible. Pushing on through the night and day, barely resting, the Company force march their way back to the river. Several times the Orcs draw closer, as they pursue (some four dozen, the Company guess), but they keep ahead of them. Alberic, guiding them back to Mountain Hall, lets his wondrous boots do the walking, and they find a path through the marshes easily. At the river, they find a place to ford, and uses some of Radagast’s Mirkwood Cordial to boost their spirits. Its medicinal properties give strength to a flagging Walar, and they push on. Once across the river, Gilthannas opens the Storm Bag that they were given, and within minutes a storm appears overhead, the rain and wind and lightning aiding the Company in their escape: they leave the Orcs behind, and after a couple of days hard-hiking through the rolling foothills, they reach the safety of the settlement…

…or so it seems. As they approach, a line of bowmen meet them across the bridge, and they are ordered to come no further. Hartfast arrives, and accompanying him is none other than Magric the traitor. The Elder calls to them across the gorge:

“You are not welcome here. Magric has told us about how you tried to murder him in the marshes. You are outlaws and Orc- friends! If I see you again, I shall have you put to death. Leave now and never return!”

The companions tell him what happened, and send Walar forward to vouch for them and to tell him about the treachery of Magric. The traitorous guide is shaken, and a glint of a dagger catches the eye of the Elf. They shout a warning to Hartfast as Magric pulls out his blade; the old warrior shows why he still rules, when he stops the traitor with a powerful right-hook that sends the man sprawling. Immediately, two of the bowmen grab him.

With a cold fury, Hartfast turns on his former guide, snarling:

“How many of my people have you led to slavery? How long have you plotted with my enemies? Damn you! If it is gold that you want, then gold you shall have! Take him to the deepest part of the gold mine and wall him up in a side tunnel. Let the traitor live in the same darkness as his Orc-friends!”

With the guide taken away, Hartfast offers the companions an apology and welcomes them to his hall. As Winter is now upon them, they are welcome to stay as long as they need, and if they have to return home, he’ll provision them for the journey. They accept his kind offer and are bedded down in a small house, where they stay for a couple of nights to recover from their forced march from the Gladden Fields.

On their second night, they are awoken by Gilthannas, who has heard guttural voices outside. He peers out and sees several Orcs, one a large Orc, stealthily approaching. The rest of the Company quickly and quietly don their armour and grab their weapons. They ready themselves by the doorway, then Wilibald Took pulls open the door to allow Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred and the Elf to let loose with their bows, arrows plowing into the armour and hide of the lead Orc. He and two of the Orcs move out of sight, but not quickly enough, as Gilthannas gets another hit in on the lead Orc. One of the smaller orcs, a Snaga Tracker, lets loose with his own bow; the arrow strikes painfully against the Elf, but his armour prevents it piercing his flesh. Dafydd and Alberic take aim, and their arrows fly true: the two smaller Orcs still visible fall, dead.

The large Orc and the two soldier Orcs smash their way into the house, through the wall and roof; but the companions simply rush outside, turning around and firing back into the house: another arrow grazes the large Orc, who now looks tired and frustrated; he bellows in rage and charges out, swinging his scimitar at Dafydd: the Barding stands his ground, grabbing his spear off the floor, and using the Orc’s own charge to impale the creature: it dies with a whimper. The others dive into the house, taking on the last two Orcs: Popo and Wilibald jointly take an Orc out, and Alberic deals with the last one as the Mountain Men guards arrive on the scene.

3rd Blotmath, 2948 (Winter)

The following morning, with the chilled North wind blowing hard, the Company bid farewell to Mountain Hall and head off back towards Rhosgobel. They first head to Stonyford, spreading the word about the Orcs in the marshes and the evil Spirit commanding them, then travel across the wide, frosty plaints to Woodland Hall, sharing news, then down to Woodmen Town, until finally they arrive at Rhosgobel, cold and wet from a downpour of sleet. They tell Radagast everything that happened, and then settle down for Winter to see out the end of the year.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each

The Company spend an End-of-Year Fellowship Phase and see out the Winter.

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A Darkness in the Marshes: Part 2
Session 45

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8th Winterfilith, 2948 (Autumn)

After crossing the river the Company hike across fields and plains, into the rolling foothills of the Misty Mountains. The journey is slow as they do their best to keep hidden, and the only potential trouble that they encounter are a pack of wild wolves that decide to leave a well-armed company alone, and a dangerous scree slope that they simply skirt around. Four days later they follow a mountain stream up to Mountain Hall, where they are hailed by the guards on the bridge and allowed to enter after they relinquish their weapons. They ask to be introduced to Hartfast, leader of the settlement, and are escorted deep into one of the mines, where they find the Elder listening at the wall of a large chamber. He looks up as they approach, and asks what they want.

Dafydd Ap Alfred and Alberic do most of the talking, telling him that Radagast sent them to learn about anything unusual happening West of the river. In exchange they share their news of the wider world with him, and he listens.

“Aye, there’s something afoot down south, in the Gladden Fields. There’s always trouble in those parts, around Dwimmerhorn. I pay it little heed – I’ve worries closer to home.”

They convince him to give his blessing to go and check out the Dwimmerhorn, and he even agrees to lend them a guide, Magric to take them their; in exchange, they are to share whatever news they have, so that his Men are forewarned of any danger.

He then gestures for them to listen at the wall: they hear a soft tap-tapping, which Gilthannas identifies as tools working away at stone.

“Goblins”, says Hartfast. “They dig in search of our mineshafts and tunnels. They want to find a secret way in to my hall. We’ve killed many on the surface, but they are more dangerous down here in the dark.”

He allows them to sleep in the Hall, and their weapons are returned to them. Fortunately, as it turns out, as in the night they are awoken by an alarm. Rushing out, they are in time to see guards calling out for help, and a trio of Goblins scaling the steep cliffs, hurrying out of the settlement. The companions fire a volley of arrows, but the Goblins are too far away to strike. Wilibald Took and Popo Took go to aid the guards, and spot a wounded man dangling from the edge of the cliff. He is rescued just in time, least he fell to his death in the icy river below. The companions earn the respect of the Mountain Men, and in the morning, when Magric joins them, they are well-provisioned and sent off with hearty thanks for Hartfast and the other elders.

Magric is a friendly, cheerful guide, who certainly knows his way around. The journey South with him to guide the way is fairly easy, even when they reach the river and have to find a ford to cross. They follow the Gladden River down to the marshes of the Gladden Fields, and begin searching for the Dwimmerhorn. It takes three more days, but they soon find an well-trodden path that leads through the mist to the rock that Men call the Dwimmerhorn.

As they gaze upon it, they hear the sound of many feet ahead: through the mist, there is movement. The Company slip off the path, hiding in the reeds and mist. A man stumbles out of the mist, manacled and looking half-dead. He trips and collapses just beyond where the companions hide, and then Orcs can be seen ahead.

Suddenly, Magric leaps up shouting “Ambush! Ambush!”, altering the Orcs to their presence! He rushes to the side of the Orcs, and points at the companions as they reveal themselves.

The Orcs rattle their weapons and move in to attack: their leader, a Black Uruk, , flanked by several wargs snarls in Orcish, and another Orc puts a horn to its thin lips and blows a deep, wailing alarm. The leader then falls dead to the muddy ground as Dafydd, Popo and Gilthannas send arrows into his chest and heart. Another Orc lobs a spear in retaliation, which strikes Popo, slightly winding him as his armour deflects the brunt of the blow.

Then battle is joined, and Magric takes the opportunity to flee before anyone can stop him. An Orc quickly falls to Popo’s blade, and a Wolf is shot out of the air as it leaps at the Elf. Another swings at Dafydd, but Wilibald pops up and blocks it with his Dwarven shield. Another Orc jabs Alberic hard, winding the Woodmen, and the other Wolf leaps at Gilthannas, but is batted aside, and instead turns to flee. It finds itself blocked by Wilibald, who jabs it in the chest; the Elf finishes it off with an arrow to the back of its head.

Dafydd runs an Orc through with his spear, and finds himself stuck as an Orc tries to impale him; but Wilibald once again slips in, parrying it with his shield, and giving Dafydd time to pull his spear free, and whack the Orc over the head, crushing its skull. Alberic chops down an Orc, and the last Orc turns and flees; the Woodman chases him, catching him up before the Orc has gone even a dozen paces; its head rolls along the path, and disappears with a soft plop into the marsh.

The companions gather by the manacled man, freeing him and quickly questioning him. His name, it turns out, is Walar and he has been a prisoner and slave of the Orcs for months, working for them atop the Dwimmerhorn. He knows little, just that they Orcs have fortified the old temple and buildings, had him and others rebuilding walls and working in the smithy, and that he only escaped after taking a chance when some Orcs were fighting. He slipped out, unseen, and down an old goat trail. An unfortunate encounter with an Orc patrol was almost his undoing, when the companions appeared. He also knows Magric, who was the one who brought him here only to betray him to the Orcs.

The Company look up at the dark mass of the Dwimmerhorn, and ponder their next move, wondering how soon the enemy will respond to the warhorn the Orc sounded?

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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A Darkness in the Marshes: Part 1
Session 44

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After binding their wounds and taking a chance to catch their breath, the Company loot the tomb: in the rusted iron chest behind the throne they find silver and gold, a few small gemstones, and also a delicate looking Green Crystal Elvish jewel shaped by the Dwarven jewellers of Erebor into the shape of an oak leaf (which Wilibald Took takes; and an ancient helm that bears carvings of mountains along the sides and front, peaks forming a ridge up the nose-guard and along the scalp, with trees descending to the rear. It fits surprisingly well, is sturdy and hard as only Dwarf-steel can be. Dafydd Ap Alfred takes it, and its fits snugly on his head.

They decide to spend the night in the cellar, but during the early hours of the dark, ghostly lights begin to manifest inside the tomb, and Alberic quickly wakes the others, including their goblin captive, and they all swiftly grab their gear and head outside. Having no desire to remain in the vicinity, they cut the Goblin loose and send him on his way (even giving him some food) and then head off through the night to the edge of the forest. The mist swirls around them as they pass through the rows of barrows, and Gilthannas and the two Hobbits become separated from the others. The Elf lights a torch and hears the shouts of his companions, and finds Dafydd and Alberic a short distance away. Wilibald finds them shortly aftwards, but it takes nearly an hour for Popo Took to find them, and the experience leaves him feeling miserable and anxious.

They trudge on through the night, then rest briefly at dawn before heading West to their home-away-from-home, Stonyford. Tired and in need of rest, they settle there for a couple of days, then set off to see Radagast to tell him everything they have learnt.

30th Halimath, 2948

As the days grow shorter and colder, the Company reaches Rhosgobel safely and make their way straight to the Brown Wizard. He’s expecting them, and have a supper already laid out for them. He tells them he has heard from Elrond, and the news is grave: Irimë did not make it. He goes on to say that he has a mission for them, and it is even more urgent than he thought after they tell him everything that has recently happened, from the Dream and the spirit, to those fought in the ruins a few days ago.

“News – well, rumour and wild stories – has reached me of late. There is talk of Orcs moving across Wilderland, of evil things stirring up, of disquiet and sorrow and all manner of unpleasant things. This news comes from all quarters, but mostly from the west.”

“I was so concerned that I sent word south to the head of my order, Saruman the White, who is wise beyond all others. He said that the best thing to do would be to act quickly and quietly, and with caution. My intent is to send you in search of the root of these stories. Your mission is to gather information and report back – learn all you can, but do not reveal your presence to the enemy!”

“I think the best place to start is Mountain Hall, the main settlement of the Woodsfolk west of the Great River. Hartfast is head of the council of Elders there – he is a good man, very sensible, and little happens in the vale of Anduin that does not escape his notice. Ask him for news.”

When they ask him what they should be looking for, he answers:

“As you may know, some years ago, the Necromancer was driven from Dol Guldur. He could be back – and if it is him, then you must be very careful indeed. He is a foe beyond any of you, and beyond me too for that matter.”

“More likely, though, the withdrawal of the Necromancer means that some evil thing, perhaps one of his servants, is trying to fill the void he left.

We forced the Necromancer to leave, but there are any number of Orcs, spirits and mean-spirited men in the lands around Dol Guldur who would obey a new overlord.”
“So, you are looking for… well, I don’t know. Something evil. With luck, it is just some bandit, with less luck, a new Great Goblin. If I knew what it was, I wouldn’t be sending you, would I?”

He lets them sleep in his cottage that night, and in the morning they head off, meeting up with another of the Wizard’s agents just outside. This is Bana, a guide who knows the land better than most. She is a cheerful, inquisitive woman, and guides them across the fields and plains to the river, where they find some boats cunningly hidden in the reeds and trees. They row up-stream, through the edge of the Gladden Fields, close to where they where just a few days ago (Stonyfrod, just a dozen or so miles North). There Bana bids them farewell, and the Company disembark and set off towards Mountain Hall.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Draugr Tor
Session 43

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21st Halimath, 2948 (Autumn)

As the dawn pierces the eaves, causing the swirling mists to glow with ethereal light, the Company breaks camp and heads towards the ruins that they can just about see rising out of the mist a few hundred yards away, peeking out of the surrounding trees. The ruin is crumbling walls and an arched doorway, an ancient watchtower that may once have been used by the Northmen. Not it lies in ruins, little more than the walls remaining. However, inside the vine-choked and overgrown interior, partially obscured by debris, a doorway opens onto a spiralling stairway that descends below the ground: faint sounds can be heard coming from the stairwell, and the flickering light of torches makes the shadows dance.

Gilthannas, with his heightened hearing, hears snippets of voices, arguing, urgent and then a chilling voice that tells them all to be quiet and hurry: a voice that he recognises from the dream in which they lost Irimë. They send Wilibald down to spy: he comes back quickly, telling of half-a-dozen Forest Goblins, a large Orc and a pair of wargs. A Man sits by a stone door, chiselling away at the seal around its frame, while a shrunken Elven head with glowing eyes urges him to hurry. He stayed there a moment too long, as one of the wolves started sniffing and let loose a deep-throated growl as it sniffed out the Hobbit. He came back quick.

That warg comes out of the doorway not long after, but by then the companions are in place: but all it takes is a swift and true-aimed arrow, and the wolf falls dead, Gilthannas’ arrow between its eyes. They drag its body away, make a noise to try and draw others out, but then the eyes of the dead wolf glow and the voice of the spirit tells them it sees them, that they are too late, and that they will all soon die.

Driven by a sense of urgency, and because nothing is coming out, they take the fight downstairs: Dafydd leads the way, Alberic following close behind; then the two Hobbits, followed by the Elf bringing up the rear, his bow ready to let loose death. The Goblins are ready for them, and hurl spears, which just bounce off mail, stone, or miss completely. Gilthannas aims over their heads and takes out the chiselling Man before he can lift his head to see what’s going on. The Orc in charge, a larger one that the Goblins, orders them to “kill them all!” and charges into the fray.

The battle is swift and deadly: Goblins falls quickly to sword thrusts, axe cleaves and piercing arrows and spears. Alberic takes an unlucky hit, a jagged knife thrusting deep into his side. He retaliates by lopping off the Goblin’s head, but the wound has been dealt. The glowing eyed head is crushed under Gilthannas’ heel, and as they cut down the enemy, a lone Goblin, last survivor, throws down its knife and surrenders. He is bound, briefly interrogated (but reveals nothing of any use) and is then gagged and shoved into the corner, with the Took brothers guarding him.

The other three approach the stone door, and decide to see what’s on the other side. Gilthannas finishes breaking the seal and the door falls open: a vaulted chamber, rows of pillars creating an avenue that leads to an old throne atop a dais. On the throne, a skeletal figure dressed in ancient mail, a winged helm on its head, a great-sword across its lap. Behind it, in an alcove, an old chest. With the Hobbits guarding the Goblin and keeping an eye on what’s going on, and Dafydd standing in the doorway, Alberic and Gilthannas enter the room. They haven’t gone very far when a voice, coming from the figure on the throne, but echoing in their minds in their own language, speaks: “Welcome strangers, to my Great Hall. Forgive me if I do not rise. Who are you are, and why do you disturb my slumber?”

They give a brief answer, which does not seem to satisfy the skeletal figure. In fact, the conversation deteriorates quickly and the figure stands, and begins to walk towards them. As it does it tells them that it intends to rule again, and that it will subjugate the Woodmen and makes them his followers. The Company are having none of it, and despite the fear the creature generates, all but the Hobbits grit their teeth, raise their weapons, and attack!

The creature, The Last Chieftain as it calls itself, batters at the three companions as Dafydd leaps in to help: they are forced back, wearied by the constant blows; Alberic is disarmed, but the Barding and the Elf distract it long enough for the Woodman to retrieve his axe. Despite the strength and stamina of the wight, the companions are relentless, and it is soon nothing more than dust, rust and rags. Its spirit screams in rage as it is forced from its body, and a silence settles over the tomb.

End of Session

*XP Awarded: * 2 each.

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Corpse Lights
Session 42

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13th Halimath, 2948 (Autumn)

Weary, miserable, and feeling in need of a rest, the Company say goodbye to their friends at The Old Ford and head off to Stonyford, settling down in their hall whilst the rains pelt the roof and water the land.

During the week they join the Beornings in song, drink and a last feast before Winter sets in and they have to preserve their supplies. The songs and companionship, laughter and tall tales help lift their spirits, and both Dafydd Ap Alfred and Alberic of Woodland Town feel a renewed confidence, their hope blossoming as the end of the year draws ever near. The others feel less confident, but even they feel less of the burdens they faced up in the High Pass, and as the days grow colder and the rain stops for a time, they pack up their gear and head East.

Planning on eventually ending up either at the Lonely Mountain or perhaps back down to Rhosgobel, they cross over into the forest, following on the rumours of the ruined tower that Gilthannas heard from Beorn. They cross the fields, entering the forest just South of the Old Forest Road, passing into the misty dell of the Barrows of the Northmen: nine rows of ancient barrows, wreathed in mist as evening draws in. They find a sheltered spot to make camp, and set watch as they eat a cold meal and keep and eye out for danger.

23rd Halimath, 2948 (Autumn)

During the night, Popo Took wakes the others. He points out small, flickering lights visible in the mist, like candles but with flames that are blue and bright. They seem to be leading off deeper into the mist. Recalling the tales, they grab their gear, leaving the ponies at the camp, and move off into the mist. The two Hobbits move ahead, keeping quiet and virtually invisible. Wilibald Took takes point, and sees the lights disappearing into the hollow of a barrow. The lights flare and suddenly blink out as the companions gather closer to the hill.

The stone that once blocked the entrance lies broken, covered by moss and obscured by weeds. A dark, low-ceilinged passage leads inside. They light torches and shine them in, seeing the tunnel sloping down into deeper darkness. Wilibald sneaks down the tunnel, and in the dim light cast by the torches he spies a domed chamber, a pair of stone biers in the middles, a pile of coins and some gemstone glinting faintly in the light. The biers are empty. Roots poke through the ceiling, stone blocks cracked where the roots have broken through. The air is stale, cold, and the Hobbit scurries back to tell the others.

They agree to all go in, and with torches raised they make their way through the tunnel and gather in the chamber.

Suddenly the earthen ground parts as a pair of Wood-Wight’s climb out of the cold earth, catching the companions momentarily off-guard. Alberic and Dafydd fling their torches to the ground as the Wights flank them; Gilthannas sends one staggering back with an arrow in its chest, but the creature just rears up, its skeletal form shaking the Hobbits and filling their bones with a deep chill; they retaliate with their King’s Blades, stabbing low as Dafydd thrusts with his spear at the creature’s chest, and Alberic swings high with his axe; another arrow flies into the creature’s chest: combined they send one staggering back against the wall, and another couple of jabs and a swing, and then the wight collapses as Popo slashes it apart with his sword, severing the bonds holding it together: brittle bones shatter, earth falls away, and the creature is gone.

The other tries to claw at the living, but Wilibald parries and dodges, keeping its attention of him as the others hack and slash, weakening it enough for Dafydd to deliver the final blow!

They seize the treasure, silver coins for the most part, but one particular item catches the eye of the Elf: an emerald of Numenor, reflecting and seeming to hold the light of the torches inside. He pockets it, and they exit.

Back to the camp they go, feeling lighter, happier. The ponies greet them warmly with soft neighs, and the Company settle down for the night. They sleep peacefully, and as dawn breaks, the dark forest become a grey, misty realm, and the search for the ruins begins.

End of Session

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Those That Tarry No Longer: Part 3
Session 41

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With the inn’s roof now ablaze, and the undead warriors forcing their way inside on the ground floor, the companions quickly find themselves fighting a losing battle. One-by-one they retreat upstairs, as the rafters catch fire and begin to collapse. Alberic, already exhausted from battling the relentless undead, gets knocked unconscious as a splintering timber crashes down and sends him sprawling.

With no way out, and all exits blocked, the companions have no choice but to surrender. Wilibald stubbornly refuses to give in, until the others are disarmed and threatened with death unless he surrenders too. Reluctantly he does so.

They find themselves chained up together with Aldor, Haleth, Geb and Rodwen, and most of townsfolk, passing traders and unfortunate travellers caught in the attack. Altogether, maybe a thousand are marched from the town, and taken East and South, driven by the warriors in red, whipped where necessary, but not needlessly cruel. Still, nearly half perish by the time they reach Mirkwood, and after passing through the Narrows of the Forest they are handed over to Orcs, who drive them deeper and further South.

All of this passes swiftly for the companions, seemingly without pause for breath or an opportunity to escape. The days are wearying marches, the nights cold and troubled, but all passes in what feels like a matter of minutes, but somehow feels like days have passed too. It is disorientating, and by the time they reach their destination– a fortress atop a hill, surrounded by dank marshland and a moat that they swear holds the faces of the dead– they are exhausted. Aldor in particular is suffering from the march and has a fever, a wracking cough and can barely stand without help.

The Company are taken into a tunnel, deep below the fortress, and are unceremoniously thrown into a pit of a cell, together with the feverish Aldor, terrified Geb, brave Haleth and depressed Rodwen.

At that moment, Gilthannas comes ‘awake’ and finds himself in their camp, his companions sleeping restlessly, while Irimë struggles with a dark shadow nearby. She turns to look at him, and her whisper carries to his ears:

“A spirit of despair – it has entrapped us all in sorcery! It will consume us if we cannot defeat it!”

Then Gilthannas falls face-first into the cold water that partially floods the cell; it stings his skin, and the others are with him, all unarmed, stripped to their base clothing, weary and troubled. He tells them what he saw, and they decide that this has to be a dream. But how do they escape it?

Time moves swiftly it seems, and to keep their spirits up they sing and attempt to escape (but to no avail; everything they try ends up a faliure). Alberic tends to Aldor, but only delays the inevitable: the old innkeeper dies in his sleep a few days later.

At one point, the door opens (coincidentally at the same time the companions try to ‘will’ it open), and a Woodmen brings in wholesome food and offers them a deal:

“There’s no need for you to suffer down here. The Master of this place has many Men in his service – aye, and Dwarves too, and other folk. Kneel to him, accept him as your lord, and you shall be given a place of honour in his service. Think on this offer, friends – it is better to live than to die, is it not?”

He tells them he will return in the morning, and when he does they refuse to join this ‘Master’: but Geb does, and no one dissuades him from going. They never see him again.

A day later, or perhaps several, it’s hard to tell, Orcs come and demand that one of them come with them as ‘sport’: Dafydd is picked out, but decides to try and escape: their attempt fails, but the Orcs grab Haleth and drag him away instead. A few hours later they return, and throw his dead body inside.

By now the companions are despairing, frustrated, miserable, and trying to figure out how to end the dream. Then they feel an unsettling presence fill the room, and the shadows grow darker. A humanoid figure, all Shadow and nothing more, manifests in the room and grabs Rodwen by the throat, lifting her high in the air. Dafydd and Gilthannas grab hold of her, and her form flickers: one moment she is a terrified Rodwen, the other a determined but weakening Irimë. The Shadowy spirit speaks to them, using the mouth of the dead child, Haleth:

“Do you know what the Noldor-witch has done? She dared not face me alone, so she dragged you into this dream to defend her. This has ever been the way of the High Elves – to use others as their pawns! They despise the race of Men, fearing your growing strength. They hate the Dwarves, and are jealous of your craft. Even their own kin they do not trust. I am more merciful than she. Leave her to her fate. Deny her, here and now, and you may awaken.”

They naturally refuse, and the darkness grows deeper and darker, until there is nothing but blackness. A light momentarily shines, but is quickly snuffed out.

Suddenly they awaken, as the light of dawn reaches over the ruins and shines upon their sleeping faces: they see a Shadow rise from the limp and prone body of Irimë, and disappear into the hills and gullies as the sun rises; but that sunlight is masked by a cloud, and a cold wind blows.

Hastily they rush to Irimë’s side, to find her barely breathing, no light in her cold eyes. Dafydd offers his life in exchange, but there is no one to make such a deal. They cradle her head as movement from the High Pass draws their attention: a party of Elves, led by a pair of Elf-lords arrive, and hurry over when they see Irimë lying on the ground. One of the Elf-lord’s examines her, and shakes his head:

“What has happened here?” he asks. “She still lives, but all her strength is gone from her.”

When the company explain the events of the dream, he nods in understanding.

“An evil spirit assailed her, and she was unable to defeat it. Her body is here, but her mind wanders a dark labyrinth and may never return. We shall take her to my father’s house, where she may find healing.”

He introduces himself and the other Elf-lord: they are the Sons of Elrond, and will take Irimë back to Rivendell, to see if their father can heal her. They agree to send word to the Company, but refuse their offer of help. They bid them farewell, and take Irimë away.

The companions are left alone on the pass, feeling as cold and grey as the morning. Dafydd believes they’ve been somehow betrayed by the Elves. The others are tired and frustrated as the seemingly impossible task of defending and saving the lost Elf-lady. They gather their gear and hike back along the road, taking care to avoid being seen by any Orcs about, but make it safely back to The Old Ford. There they rest for the better part of the day, and after a night amongst friends, they ponder on where to head next.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.

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Those That Tarry No Longer: Part 2
Session 40

the-eagles.png

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.

8th Halimath

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!

Sometime Later

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.

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