The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

The Seven Trials
Session 1

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30 Halimath, 2496

Having arrived at the village of Stonyford, the six new travelling companions find themselves taking part in the trials of the festival, sponsored by various families.

The first of the Seven Trials, the Stage of the Nobles, takes place on the centre stage setup in the middle of the village. Popo Took, fresh from the Shire, takes the stage and faces off against a series of lesser competitors until he finds himself in a battle of oratory against Gelvira, a potter from a nearby settlement. They end up at a stalemate, the audience unable to decide who was the most eloquent and over-the-top, so both are declared winners.

In the afternoon, after merrymaking that leaves Dafydd slightly the worse for wear (and therefore easily persuaded to put his name down for tomorrow’s nights song contest), a game of Thimblerig takes place, with Alberic proving himself by besting everyone else, including Ethal the Unkind, who sulks off complaining about outsiders intruding on their festival.

The main event of the first day, according to most, takes place as night falls. The Torch Race lines up several Beornings and Woodmen, including a nervous man called Rathwulf who almost turns up too late to participate. Gilthannas, eager to test himself, joins the race. The elf starts slowly, but soon outstrip the others, and speeds past Rathwulf, showering him with mud as the elf streaks past to win the race.

The night is full of song and stories, the normally sombre folk of Stonyford letting their hair down for the festival. Dafydd tries to back out of the singing, but the family sponsoring him insist he sticks to his word and takes part.

In the morning, shortly before dawn, the competition heads to the Seeking Field, where Veig, a dwarf that draws even more attention than the elf, since so few dwarves are seen this far west, completely fails to find the rocks he needs to seek: he finds rocks aplenty, but not the ones he needs. He fails miserably, much to everyone’s amusement.

Just as amusing, is Wilibald’s poor attempt at intimidating Mean Shurack; the bull instead has the hobbit running out of the corral before the contest is even over. So the hobbit instead takes part in The Ancient Game of riddles, but guesses wrong at each and every riddle, and hangs his head in shame as he exits the stage.

The evening draws to a close as the final contest takes place: The Lay of the Moon, a contest of song and rhymes. Dafydd, reluctant but participating, takes to the stage and struggles at first, then ‘finds his feet’, only to lose his nerve and quickly bow out.

With the trials over, the assembled winners, losers and audience, begin making their way to the Marshall’s Tent, where the Sickle will be awarded. As the companions approach, a cry goes out:

“The Sickle has been stolen! Goblins have took it!”

Ethel the Unkind comes out of the tent, crying alarm. She points inside the tent, “the Marshall is unconscious”, and then points to Rathwulf, who stands over the body of a Goblin. The tardy farmhand holds a sword, the tip bloodied. Someone runs off to get the thane, leaving the six companions to deal with the situation.

Gilthannas heads straight to Rathwulf and questions him, and when he examines the goblin’s body, he notices that it is cold and little blood is present. “This goblin has been dead some time,” he says. Ethel says she saw someone leaving the tent, but didn’t get a good look. Inside, Alberic finds a stunned Torbald, who has no idea what happened, other than being hit over the head and the Sickle now gone.

Outside, as Ava the Thane of Stonyford comes over, the two Hobbits find some tracks, but of booted feet, man-made, rather than goblin footprints. When confronted, Rathwulf breaks down and confesses that it wasn’t goblins, but a gang of thieves led by a man called Cenric; they stole the Sickle, using the dead goblin (killed elsewhere) as a distraction.

Ava takes Rathwulf into custody, and when the companions declare that they will hunt down the thieves, she agrees and welcomes their help. They are given a place to sleep for the night, since tracking the thieves in the dark seems foolish; as they sleep, Gilthannas asks a few questions to get a better idea of the land, and an interrogation of Rathwulf reveals that the thieves are heading to The Falrock.

In the morning, the first day of Winterfilth, the newly formed Fellowship head off following the tracks left by the thieves. An early rain that morning makes tracking difficult, with footprints being washed away, but a trail is found and by their best estimate, the thieves are only a day ahead.

They embark on a Forced March, but half the party grow tired and they gain no ground. A couple of days takes them to The Old Ford, where they cross the river and learn that four men came the same way yesterday. They hurry on, tiring a little, and after several more days they come within sight of their destination.

XP Awards

All except Dafydd gain 2 Experience Points (1 for attendance, 1 for progress); Dafydd gains 1 XP; everyone has gained several Advancement Points.

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The Falrock
Session 2

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8th Winterfilth (29 September) 2496

Dusk has fallen by the time the Fellowship reaches the Falrock. Hiding amongst the heather and long grass they spy the thieves camping in the ruins on the island that stands in the Rushdown waters, 10 or so miles downstream from Eagle Falls. There are four in all, three tired and desperate looking men, and an archer that is looking North, watchful.

As dusk lengthens, the Took brothers head upstream and find some driftwood, then cross the river by half-swimming, half-floating, to the other bank, tiring Popo out a bit by the time they reach it. They sneak closer to the ruins, taking advantage of their small, elusive size and the tall grass. From the South bank, Gilthannas, with his Keen-Eyes, keeps watch on them; to the rest of the Fellowship, the brothers are invisible. Up close, the three desperate men bear the marks of manacles, while the archer carries the Sickle on his belt. They head back up the river and cross back over, stealthily making their way back to the others, both wet and tired.

The Fellowship decides to wait until full dark, while the thieves camp, then send in the Hobbits to sneak up and steal the sickle. To cover them, those with bows will keep watch, ready for a signal to fire if the need arises. As they wait, as the sun begins to set behind the Misty Mountains, another figure arrives from the North: a tall, thick-set man carrying a great axe. He calls out to the thieves, addressing the archer by the name of Cenric and asking if his has the prize. Cenric holds aloft the sickle.

Then it begins to rain. Soon, the rain is pouring down, rippling the waters as they flow around the island and rocks sticking out. The thieves huddle around the camp fire, using a cloak and a few sticks to make a crude shelter to keep the worse of the rain off. They cook a couple of rabbits, while the newcomer and Cenric quietly talk.

As soon as it is fully dark and all but the two talkers are asleep, Dafydd heads upstream and swims across to the other bank, wet and chilled as he slips out of the water and carefully approaches the camp. He almost comes unstuck when he slips closer to the ruins, but the resulting embarrassment that would occur if he buggered up the plan gives him a surge of hope, and he manages to keep his footing and draws close enough to hear the two thieves talking. The newcomer is called Guthred, and in the morning he and the three other men will head back to East Upper Vales, to hand the sickle over to Viglund. Cenric will head off on his own, his part done. Guthred orders Cenric to stand guard, and rolls over to sleep, sheltering from the rain by huddling up against the rubble. Cenric sits with his back to the wall, watching the guttering campfire.

Dafydd signals to the others, and with his Keen-eyes Gilthannas spots him and gives a nod to the Tooks. The brothers once again head upstream, then slip into the cold water and let teh flow take them to the middle of the island; they are cold when they reach the island and haul themselves out of the water, unseen by Cenric. Meanwhile, Alberic, Veig and the elf stand watch on the South bank, bows and mattocks ready in case the burglary fails.

To distract the half-alert archer, Wilibald sneaks up to the wall and dislodges a brick, ducking out of sight as Cenric gets up and comes over to take a look: he sees nothing, but while distracted, Popo crawls along the outer wall and makes his way over to where Guthred sleeps; with extraordinary stealth and nimble-fingers, the Took brother steals away the sickle without disturbing the sleeping thief, and manages to slip back into the rain and darkness without being seen as Cenric shrugs and returns to his wet vigil.

The brothers slip back into the water and swim tiredly back to shore and rejoin the others. Together, the five wet adventurers sneak upstream and send Gilthannas across the river to fetch Dafydd back, both getting cold and wet; the elf is almost swept downstream, but manages to swim to the shore before he goes too far.

Together again, the Fellowship shoulder their packs and quickly head back, following the Rushdown and hiking through the rainy night to put as much distance between themselves and the thieves before they notice that the sickle is missing.

End of Session

XP awarded: 2 each.
Gained: the Sickle of the Full Moon

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Ambush Near the Carrock
Session 3

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8 – 14 Winterfilth (28th September – 5th October) 2496

The company march on through the night, pushing themselves on to put the distance between themselves and the thieves that stole the Sickle. The rain stops just before dawn, but by that point Dafydd is weary from the night’s events, and the others are starting to feel the fatigue of the long journey.

They continue on as the dawn breaks over the Misty Mountains, travelling for several days, keeping a look-out for anyone following them and doing their best to cover their tracks and avoid being too out in the open. As dusk falls, as they draw adjacent to the mighty Carrock that divides the flow of the Anduin, Popo is too busy looking at the huge rock to notice the slinking approach of several wargs: most of the company spot them just in time, with Veig shouting out a warning to Dafydd, but Alberic is wondering where they can get a good night’s sleep and is surprised as the wild wolves burst out of the dark and attack.

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Opening volleys of arrows fail to hit anything, and then the wargs are upon them. Wilibald, a small Hobbit with a sword that resembles more of a knife that dwarves use to cut up their meat, manages to stab one of the wolves as it rears to bite him, scoring the first blood for the company. The honour of the first kill goes to Veig, however, as the dwarf swings his mattock and digs it deep in the wolf’s head, killing it instantly. Two other wargs are wounded by Dafydd’s spear and Gilthannas’ sword, and not to be outdone, Wilibald stabs his opponent again, the blade finding the creature’s foul heart and ending its life. Another falls to the Bardings’ spear, and Alberic the Woodman and Veig deliver blows to the wolves that are left.

Then one of the wargs leaps over the heads of the company, right at Popo (who, with the elf, is trying and failing to land any arrows in the creatures hides)… but Dafydd dives in the way, batting the wolf back with his shield, and leaving it open for Wilibald to step up and stab the creature in its black heart.

The last wolf backs off, then falls dead as Veig steps up and lands a hefty blow to its neck.

With the ambush dealt with, the company move further down the river and find a suitable place to rest for the night. In the morning– a bright, brisk autumn day– they continue on to the The Old Ford, exchanging a few words with the Beornings on watch. Dafydd tries to pass by without paying a toll, but his words are lost on the rugged men, and silver coins are handed over in the end. They company continue on, losing a day when their scout (Dafydd) takes down the wrong trail, finding a patch of marshy land that delays them.

A day out from the village of Stonyford, they take shelter in a small stand of beech trees as it once more begins to rain.

End of Session

XP awarded: 2 each.

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Return to Stonyford
Session 4

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14 Winterfilth (5 October) 2496

As dusk falls and more rain starts to fall, the Company make camp in the shelter of a small copse of trees a few hundred yards from the river. Suddenly, out of the dark, a figure staggers into the light of the fire: one of the thieves, looking weary and scared. He falls to his knees and pleads for the companions to help him.

Dafydd approaches the thief, menacing him with a spear [and gaining a Shadow point] as he asks what does the thief want. The man, who introduces himself as Roderic, says that he is fleeing Guthred, after that evil man discovered that the Sickle was missing; he blamed his men, thralls to Viglund, and he slaughtered the others as Roderic made his escape. He’s been running ever since.

While the thief is being interrogated, the others take a long look around them and spot movement in the growing darkness: several figures trying to sneak up on the camp. Willibald hides in the shadows of a nearby tree, when Gilthannas sees the sneaking figures draw closer, speeding up as they near the camp. He calls out a warning to the others, and this triggers a shout of “Take them!” from beyond the trees, as the thief’s allies charge into the camp to attack!

The Elf spots Cenric raising his bow to fire, but lets loose with a volley of his own first: before the archer has a chance to shoot, Gilthannas’ elven-arrow pierces his heart and sends the archer staggering back, falling dead to the damp grass.

Wilibald and Alberic let loose with their own arrows, both aiming at the hefty looking Guthred as he charges is, his great axe already swinging. Both arrows strike the man, but he merely shrugs them off and continues charing, straight for the Dwarf; the axe catches Veig a glancing blow, while Guthred mostly ignores the return strike from the Dwarf’s mattock.

The remaining two thieves find themselves battered back by Alberic, Popo and Wilibald, and Dafydd knocks Roderic back as that thief tries to rise and swing his axe at the Barding.

Wilibald finds himself without an opponent as the Elf shoots the thief and takes him down, the man crying out in pain before succumbing to it and falling unconscious. Free from fighting, he tries to rally his friends with a Song, but the last few days have proven quite wearisome, so his voice fails him and it comes out more like a croak.

Dafydd kicks Roderic out of the way, then spins around and jabs his spear into Guthred, piercing his chest and killing the large man. Veig steps over the body and returns the favour by whacking Roderic in the head, knocking the man unconscious. The last thief tries to fight his way out, but Gilthannas shoots him neatly with an arrow, which digs in deep, finishing off the last attacker.

The company see to their wounds– just a few cuts and bruises– and tied up the two thieves who are alive. When they awake they are questioned: Roderic and Beran are two thralls from North of the Elf Wood, where Viglund rules. Their families are slaves, and they were tasked with stealing the Sickle so that they could be freed from slavery. Now that they have failed, they are resigned to their fate. They surrender to the Company, knowing that there is no further point in fighting.

The Company break camp at dawn and are soon back at the village of Stonyford, where Thane Ava is glad to see them and relieved that the Sickle has been recovered. She holds a modest feast in their honour and the Company hand over the prisoners, for Ava to deliver justice to.

The companions spend the next nine days resting and recovering, swapping tales and learning from their small adventure, before getting ready to move on.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 3 each for successfully returned the artefact to the village.

Fellowship Phase

The Company (as yet unnamed) spend a short Fellowship Phase in the village (9 days) before the next Adventure Phase begins. Advancement and Experience Points are pooled and spent, and undertakings taken as follows:

  • Dafydd tries to relax and recover from the Shadow he gained after interrogating Roderic, but finds no peace this time.
  • Veig visits the local smithy and helps the blacksmith (a large man called Amand the Smith) to modify his armour: he gains the Cunning quality to his Dwarven Hauberk.
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The Road Goes Ever On and On: Part 1
Session 5

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25th Winterfilth to 22nd Blotmath, 2496

After spending some time resting in Stonyford, the Company are approached by Lodin, a merchant who trades in wines, spices and occasionally silks. He hires the Company to escort him and his brothers, Varr and Brand, and their caravan through Mirkwood and on to Lake-town; hopefully arriving in time for the first Gathering of the Five Armies, the fifth anniversary of the battle that freed Wilderland from the Shadow.

After some negotiation, the Company agree and payment is arranged for when they safely reach Esgaroth. [3 points of treasure per companion]. The leave that morning, heading North along the banks of the river in pleasant weather. After six easy days of travel, they arrive at an inn; the Easterly Inn. There they meet Agatha Brandybuck, who turns out to be a distant relative of Wilibald and Popo Took; a great Aunt or second Aunt, twice-removed, they’re not quite sure. She welcomes them with open arms, and that night everyone enjoys a relaxing and entertaining evening, with wine and fine food.

Songs are sung (badly), riddles told (poorly) and gossip shared. Rumours of goblins in the forest and disputes between Men of Viglund and the Beornings are rife, but nothing substantial. The evening draws to an end, when Gilthannas sings a beautiful Elvish song of ancient times and places, leaving everyone feeling nostalgic and happy. They sleep well that night.

In the morning they head off, leading the ponies around the borders of the Elfwood, and on to the F orest Gate. There the arched entrance looks like the archway to a tunnel, such is the dimness beneath the eaves of the trees. All is quiet as they approach the gate, but then suddenly a pair of Elves materialise from the trees and stand beneath the arch, blocking the path.

The two Elves introduce themselves as Amroth and Guilin, who recognise Gilthannas, and are known by him as Wayward Elves; prone to mischief and carefree fun. They inquire as to why the Company are travelling this way, not overly impressed when Dafydd and Wilibald do most of the talking, and help Gilthannas with his own words. They sneer at the others, but allow them to pass freely. The two Elves disappear back into the trees, laughing at some private joke.

The Company enter Mirkwood and travel along the Elfpath, slowly and carefully, watching their footing and guiding the laden ponies over the rough terrain. The path is obvious, more or less, and while clear from overgrowth and webs, it twists and turns and sometimes becomes steps over ridges and gullies. The going is slow, but at least there is a path to follow.

After a few days the forest becomes as dark as a cave, the trees looming overhead and so close you can reach out from the path to touch them. The odd shroud of webs can sometimes be seen in the trees, but nothing close to the path itself. Food and water are scare, and soon rations and wine become the main source of nourishment. The days stretch into weeks, the forest beginning to feel like a long tunnel deep underground, and the journey starts to wear on the companions and traders.

The journey is made more difficult as sometimes the path temporarily disappears, or sounds of some unknown creature makes them pause and hide, but nothing appears. It is soon obvious, to Gilthannas at least, that the Elves they encountered before are playing tricks on them. He does what he can to hinder and counteract them, but they lose a few days before the Wayward Elves stop their mischief. By then, the Company are two-thirds of the way through the great forest, and deep in its heart. If it wasn’t for the path they follow, they’d be lost and probably dead by now.

Nine days from reach the end of the forest, Veig, acting as their guide, notices that the webs in the trees are thicker and closer. By torchlight he steers them clear, and manages to find a suitable place to camp away from the webs and close to the path. They settle down for the night, some more weary than others, and set guards to watch.

It is during that night that the Company are suddenly woken by cries of alarm, as Varr, brandishing a burning branch from their dwindling campfire, shouts out “We’re under attack! Orcs!”

As the companions throw off their blankets and grab their weapons and shields, they can see in the faint illumination a number of short, wiry figures surrounding the ponies. Already some are heading off into the depths of the forest, carrying rolls of silk, bottles of wine and sacks of spices; others are trying to cut the ponies free. The three brothers race over to stop them, and the companions find themselves facing off against six Forest Goblins that turn to confront them!

Dafydd leaps straight into close combat, skewering an orc with his spear and claiming his first orc kill. Gilthannas shoots one between the eyes, and Veig smacks one across the shoulder; then the Dwarf blocks another as it tries to spear Wilibald Took, but he isn’t able to help the Took’s brother, and Popo Took takes a spear to his side, wounding the Hobbit! He retreats rearward, swapping places with Alberic, who swings his axe and knocks a goblin back.

Wilibald, angered by the injury dealt to his brother, stabs his attacker, and kills the orc! The Hobbit’s first goblin kill! He’s not sure whether to be happy or sad, but has no time to ponder as the goblins press closer. Another orc falls dead as the Elf shoots its down, and a spear to the buttocks sends another goblin staggering towards Wilibald, who stabs it in the chest. That orc falls dead at his hairy feet. Veig tries to show-off by propelling himself off a tree, which breaks and sends his aim wide. It does, however, cause the last goblin to dodge, get whacked in the leg by Alberic, and then straight into the path of another arrow, and Gilthannas claims the last orc’s life.

In the aftermath, with the brothers managing to secure the ponies, they find most of their trade goods stolen. As Alberic treats Popo’s wound, Lodin begs the companies to hunt down the goblins and return what goods they can, as without anything to trade they’ll be in serious trouble.

As the Company decide what to do, the sounds of the thieving orcs grows fainter and fainter…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each
Kills: six Forest Goblins.

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The Road Goes Ever On and On: Part 2
Session 6

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With the sounds of the goblins fading into the night, the companions hurry after them. Popo stays behind, tending to his wound, along with the brothers who guard the camp and will come looking for the others if they do not return by dawn.

Wilibald proves to an excellent tracker, and leads the way through the forest. The find themselves heading South, deeper into the eaves of Mirkwood, in the direction of the Mountains of Mirkwood that lie twenty or so miles distant. Soon, after only a few miles, the sounds of the goblins changes as the Orcs stop and gather. Voices are heard, harsh and guttural. The flicker of a camp fire peeks through thick clumps of black ivy that all but strangles the trees, densely packed together. The Hobbit sneaks up and peers through a gap:: half-a-dozen Forest Goblins are stacking the stolen goods off to the side of the hollow they are camped in; trees and ivy surround their camp, and in the centre a low-burning fire sits in a ring of stones. Sat there, glaring and uttering orders to the goblins is another Orc, taller and larger than the goblins, wearing mail and carrying a shield with a red lidless eye painted on it. The other goblins bear a different device on their smaller shields: a crude picture of a butchered Elf. Gilthannas recognises it as belonging to goblins that have been seen raiding Elven settlements.

The companions prepare to ambush the Orcs. They crawl and slink into position, using the trees as cover. Alberic, Dafydd, Wilibald and Gilthannas drew their bows and let loose a flurry of arrows at the tall Orc: the fell creature falls dead, transfixed by arrows. Before the goblins can do much more than cry out, shocked, Veig leads the charge into the hollow and takes the head off an Orc with a mighty swing of his mattock.

Dafydd kicks a goblin to the floor, leaving it open for Wilibald to nip in and stab it; the creature falls dead; Alberic whacks another, staggering it back towards the trees, where Gilthannas transfixes it with an arrow. One of the goblins jabs at Dafydd, who blocks the spear thrust but the ring of stone against his shield weakens his arm, and the already tired Barding becomes increasingly weary under the eaves of the dense forest.

Then suddenly a deafening roar fills the hollow, and a black beats towering twice as tall as any man, explodes from the trees, tearing apart the remaining goblins that stand too close. The big black bear, its thick fur marred by broken shafts and blades sticking out of its hide, turns its glaring yellow eyes on the companions and fixes its stare on the Dwarf.

With a terrible road, it charges straight for Veig and knocks the Dwarf back, winding him. The others dive in, sword, spear and axe swings and thrusting; all glance off its thick hide, its matted fur or off the splintered haft of a broken spear. The Elf tries to shoot between its eyes, but the arrow misses by an inch and ricochets off into the trees.

The beast claws at Veig, and again knocks him back, and all the Dwarf can do is remain standing, and his legs are already shaking from the force of the blows. Another one like that and his knees would buckle.

Wilibald tries to rally his friends, but his voice is hoarse and tired and his words fail him. Dafydd decides that maybe this is actually Beorn, in bear-form, out hunting Orcs and it is all a misunderstanding. He tries to appeal to the bear’s better nature, but his words fall on deaf ears; this is not Beorn, but a monster from the depths of the forest. The creature backhands Dafydd for his trouble, sending him sprawling to the floor; it nips in for a bite, but the Barding’s mail absorbs the worse of it.

Veig, hardly able to stand now, retreats and the others move in to protect him. With the Dwarf out of reach, the beast turns on Alberic, clawing his and denting his mail, forcing him to his knees. He calls out “Run, you fools! This beast is too much for any of us!” Dafydd and Wilibald heed him, and manage to back out of reach, heading for the trees and following in Veig’s footsteps. Alberic finds himself all but alone, and unable to flee; the beast claws him again, shaking him; the Woodman’s axe feels heavy in his hands. Gilthannas also escapes, by leaping up into the trees and scurrying away through the branches, fully expecting Alberic to follow.

Alberic tires to move away, but the beast blocks him and bats him back with a claw; the Woodsman falls, and pretends to be dead. His laboured breath gives him away, and he is clawed again, and again, and this time he finds himself losing conscious and the blackness takes him.

To the dismay of the others, the huge beast grabs Alberic and a dead goblin by a leg and starts to drag them off into the forest, shoving trees aside like they were nothing more than reeds along the marshes. Unwilling to leave their companion behind, they follow. As Gilthannas, Dafydd and Veig head one way, ready to grab their friend, Wilibald takes a risk and moves off by himself, hiding in a bush just ahead of the bear. As it draws near, he begins to sing:

“See the little goblin
See his little feet
And his little nosey-wose
Isn’t the goblin sweet?”

The distraction works, and the beast drops its ‘food’ and heads to the bush to investigate, tearing apart the forest to find no one there: Wilibald has already sneaked off, and joins the others who have quickly rushed in, thrown Alveric over the Elf’s shoulder, and fled back into the trees.

Thankfully, the beast does not follow, and they reach their camp without being attacked or getting lost. Popo is relieved that his brother and the others are alive, and within a short time, Alberic regains consciousness. The companions also managed to grab the stolen goods on their way back (except a few broken bottles of wine and spilled spices), and the three brothers are overjoyed and thankful.

They spend an uneasy night, doubling their watch, but nothing more happens that night. In the morning they head off, keeping an eye and ear out for more goblins or deadly bears. As they continue to follow the path, Gilthannas recalls a legend about a monstrous black bear and shares the story with the Company and traders:

The giant black bear known as Mor’du is a legend told to Wayward Elves, misbehaving Woodmen children and Dwarves that take too much interest in the forest. Legend tells of a great warrior who was cursed by Dwarves from Erebor after the warrior stole artefacts from the Lonely Mountain; the act was well-intentioned, as he sought to use the artefacts to bolster himself and his men in their fight against the Orcs, but he was consumed by its power and by the gold he found with the artefacts, and was cursed as a result: he became the giant black bear that now roams Mirkwood, killing, feasting, hunting. Mor’du has an especial hatred of Dwarves and goes to great lengths to kill them.

The beast is thirteen feet tall with thick leathery skin covered in coarse thick, matted fur the colour of the deepest night. Broken weapons protrude from his hide and fur, creating a layer of armour that adds to the beast’s invulnerability, or at least as legend has it; for it is said that Mor’du cannot be slain.

23rd Blothmath to 1st Foreyule, 2496

The rest of the journey goes without a hitch, although by the time eventually reach Lake-town, only a couple of days from the beginning of the festivities for the Gathering of the Five Armies, most are weary. Popo’s wound has healed and they are feeling better once they leave the forest. As they passed by the Elven Halls, Gilthannas spent a night at home, but was unable to persuade the Elves to allow his friends to also spend a night in the Halls; but that was fine, and no one held a grudge.

At Esgaroth, the traders thanked and paid the companions well, treated them to a modest but fine feast, and bid them farewell. The Company settled in to enjoy the festivities, and talked about how best to spend the Winter months.

End of Session

XP Awarded: 5 each.
Treasure: 3 points each.
Kills: 6 Forest Goblins, 1 tall Orc

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End of Year 2496
Fellowship Phase

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The majority of the Company spend their winter at Lake-town, while Gilthannas heads home to spend time amongst his kin. Veig goes off on his own wanderings, promising to return in the Spring.

During their time in the town, Alberic and Dafydd spend time visiting blacksmiths and having their armour made cunning, allowing it to fit better and ease somewhat the burden of wearing their mail coats while travelling.

Wilibald, after disappearing into the forest for a short time to bury some of the treasure he acquired, finds a parcel waiting for him back at the inn the companions are staying at. It is an old short sword, one of those plundered from tombs by too curious Hobbits, a King’s Blade, sent as a gift from Agatha of the Easterly Inn; a note says it is an heirloom of the family, and she felt it was better kept in the hands of a more adventurous Hobbit.

Popo also finds himself a parcel, again from Agatha, with another heirloom, a suit of Lucky Armour that he replaces his old, now worn armour that failed to save him from being [[The Road Goes Ever On and On: Part 1 | wounded]] by that goblin-spear.

Over the course of the next few weeks, after attending the festivities of the first Gathering of the Five Armies, Dafydd, Popo and Wilibald pay a visit to the town’s famous market and acquire several high quality items to aid them during their next travels. Alberic, meanwhile, heads out into the marshes, skirting the edges looking for herbs. He comes back with enough White Lilies to last a while.

Gilthannas returns to the Woodland Realm and while there he pays a visit to the wise old Sentinel Oak, learning the ways of the woods and receiving its blessing.

As the mild Winter turns to a cool Spring, the companions meet back up in Lake-town, except for Veig, who sends word that he is otherwise occupied but will catch up with them soon.

On that first day of Spring, the Company hears a rumour of two Dwarves going missing, and that Glóin himself is looking for any information or help in locating them, and will pay handsomely too. The Company, driven by a desire to help more than the treasure it would bring them head off to pay a visit to the famous Dwarf.

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The Marsh Bell: Part 1
Session 7

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9th Rethe, 2497 (Spring)

The Fellowship find themselves in the hall of Glóin, the famous Dwarf who was part of the Company that freed Erebor from the dragon and fought in the Battle of Five Armies. Today he is an envoy and diplomat for King Dain Ironfoot, and spends some of his time in Lake-town looking after affairs.

Word has reached the Company that the Dwarf is looking for help; two Dwarves have gone missing after they embarked on an important journey and Glóin is worried. When the Company meet him, the Dwarf seems uneasy and rushes through introductions. Dafydd acts as spokesperson for the Company, with all but Gilthannas further introducing themselves. Even with the presence of an Elf, Glóin is impressed and gladly accepts their help. He explains that Balin and Óin left the Lonely Mountain on an important errand for the King, but the ravens who were keeping an eye on them lost track of them somewhere in the Long Marshes, close to the Old Forest Road. The two Dwarves had planned on travelling down what remained of the road, to see how much work would be needed to restore it. Glóin suspects that they have not made it that far, and it is a few days now, and they have not been seen.

The Company accept the task and are promised a bag of 5 gold coins each upon their successful, and also receive a letter to procure a boat, as well as a letter of introduction that they can show to Balin when they find him, just to prove them are there as friends. Glóin is wary of the Elf, and warns that Balin may well have run foul of Elves, due to their dealings with them in the past.

Passing by the market to purchase a couple of stout ponies (to carry some of their gear), the Company heads off to the docks and are soon on a sturdy boat large enough to hold them all as well as their ponies (Dafydd and Wilibald have both bought ponies) and necessary feed. A day out, a pleasant journey across the lake, they reach the Stair of Girion, where younger Men of the Lake occupy huts at the top of a waterfall. There are paved, sloping stairs that the Men of the Lake can use to haul boats and their cargo down to the river below. The Company spend the night too, listening to Old Man Nerulf sing a little rhyme, that Wilibald recognises from stories he has heard:

“If you go south in the marshes, take heed: tread lightly and fear the Gallows-Weed”.

The next day they continue down the river, soon entering the edge of the forest where it overlooks the borders of the marshes. The journey through the marshes is slow and hard-going, tiring not only from dealing with obstacles such as thick roots that threaten to trap the boat, to biting insects and the general gloom of it all.

During the first day into the marshes, with Dafydd piloting the boat and navigating through the difficult terrain, Alberic scouts about looking for evidence of the two Dwarves. He spies a few broken branches that indicate someone went through recently, but no idea who. They do find evidence of a former camp, meagre and not much there, but on a patch of dry ground next to a stagnant reed-covered pool. All throughout that morning, Popo was also certain that someone was following them, but no one could spot anything amongst the trees.

The day drawing to a close, they stop by the old camp, and Wilibald starts searching about to make sure it is safe.

As he does so, the sun sets behind the forest, and as the darkness draws in, the surface of the reed-covered pool ripples…

End of Session

XP: 2 each.

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The Marsh Bell: Part 2
Session 8

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12-14th Rethe (Spring) 2497

Dafydd is checking the campsite to ensure it is a good place to stop, when he notices the pool rippling. Just in time he shouts out a warning to the others, allowing Alberic and Gilthannas time to draw their weapons. The two Hobbits, however, are momentarily frozen in place as a huge creature bursts forth from the pool, shouting “Come ‘ere ya tasty morsels, I’m hungry!”

It is a Stone-Troll, twice as tall as the Men, nearly twice as wide, clutching an old tree trunk as a club. The Hobbits shake off their fear, and dart in with their King’s Blades flashing in the dying light; Wilibald slaps its leg, making it hop, and Popo stabs it in the gut, wounding it. Dafydd smashes the haft of his spear into its head, snapping it to the side, in place for Alberic to swing his long-hafted axe overarm, and down into the monster’s head, cleaving is skull in twain.

Gilthannas lowers his bow, and slide his unspent arrow back into its quiver.

The Company spends the night, keeping watch. In the morning they resume their journey, Alberic tracking the signs of passage that they hope indicates where the missing Dwarves went. Popo still reckons they are being followed, and is proven right as the second day in the marshes draws to its end, and a quartet of Elves steps out of the nearby trees as the boat punts across the narrow river.

Armed but not openly hostile, the lead elf introduces himself as Galion, who Gilthannas knows is the King’s former cupbearer, sentenced to dismal patrol duty in the marshes due to a misdeed five years ago. The Elf introduces the Company, but it is Dafydd who takes the lead in the conversation, sweet-talking the Elves and persuading them to give up information on the missing Dwarves: Galion is interested in why the Dwarves are passing this way, but is satisfied that the companions know nothing more than they went missing, and they are searching for them. Galion leads them to Balin’s camp, where the Elves were keeping an eye on them before they suddenly disappeared.

Before night falls, they search the camp and find the broken and submerged boat, tracks of booted Dwarf footprints and some webbed prints, and no sign that they slept here, only that they set up camp. Popo manages to find something more, which he hides from the Elves: in a rotten stump he finds an ornate jewellery box, decorated with eagles, hidden hastily and ensorcelled with Dwarven Runes of Secrecy. He pockets it, intending to return it to Balin once they find him, but not opening it himself. Too decent for that.

The Elves, persuaded and impressed by Dafydd’s speeches, spend the night with the Company sharing duties, and in the morning take their leave. Once they are out of sight and sound, the Company begin following the footprints, deeper into the marshes.

They travel for several hours, leaving the boat behind at the camp, hidden amongst the reeds. As they pass through a clump of dense foliage and crowding trees, Alberic, Gilthannas and Wilibald suddenly find themselves tangled in tendrils of vines, that tighten and hoist them up to the branches, strangling them! Too late they remember the warning of the Gallows-Weed. Thankfully, Alberic manages to pull a vine free and falls down, gasping but safe; Wilibald wriggles out of the tendrils, tired by the ordeal but also safe. The Elf finds the vine tightening around his throat as the others try in vain to free him. He relaxes, focuses on his surroundings, then takes advantage of a momentary loosening of the vines, and with a backflip and a twist, is suddenly free. They hurry on, keeping low to avoid the dangling vines, and swiftly pass through the dangerous trees.

Night is falling when they come across older, more substantial ruins, and a pool of stagnant water centre-most. The tracks they were following end at the pool. A marble arch stands over looking the water. Large crows sit in the surrounding trees, cawing loudly.

Wilibald and Popo stealth ahead, sneaking up to the edge of the pool. There is no sign of life other than the crows. Then they hear a sound, faint and dull, as if from far away and from beneath the ground: a bell, deep in sound. Entranced by the ringings, the two Hobbits start to wade into the pool…

…and when the others come after them, worried that the scouts had not yet returned, Alberic, Dafydd and Gilthannas see no sign of the two Hobbits. Footprints end at the pool. The pool looks deep, and a submerged tunnel can just be made out as the light begins to fail and the shadows lengthen.

Then they too hear the sound of a bell, but the deep tones have no effect other than to make them wary. Seeing no sign of the Hobbits, but concerned for their safety, the three remaining companions prepare to wade into the water…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 for Alberic, Dafydd and Pop, but only1 for Wilibald and Gilthannas.

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The Marsh Bell: Part 3
Session 9

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Popo and Wilibald Took awake in near-darkness, soaking wet and disorientated. As their eyes adjust to the faint glow of phosphorus mushrooms and slimy moss, the dull sound of a bell fades from the cold, dank air. They are lying with their legs dangling in water, across steps that descend into cold and murky water. More water, stagnant and foul smelling puddles on the floor of the small flooded chamber, and the glow comes from an archway ahead. Beyond they can just about make out a large room, a cellar of sorts, with a faint beam of dwindling light coming from a chimney or alcove across the far side of the room.

The two Hobbits carefully stand and make their way to the archway, listening intently. Faintly, they can hear the sound of wet slaps, footsteps splashing through the puddles somewhere beyond the arch. The chimney has a rope dangling and it seems to lead up, out of the chamber, and that is certainly natural light peeking through meekly, as if afraid of disturbing the dankness below. They sneak into the room, and freeze as movement from a side passage draws their attention: a pair of softly glowing eyes peer from the darkness, as a humanoid figure begins visible. The Hobbits stealthily cross into a passage opposite, the middle of three, mirrored opposite. They duck behind some rocks and broken masonry, keeping an eye on the figure, while looking towards the chimney with its rope and possible exit.

Meanwhile, above ground, by the murky pool, Alberic and Dafydd hold a rope as Gilthannas secures his gear and dives into the water, following the sub-terrain passage to a set of steps that lead out into a dark flooded chamber. He immediately hears movement ahead, beyond a crooked arch, and moves to the corner, drawing his bow and sighting along it. In the room beyond, a large and ancient cellar, glowing eyes belong to some slimly humanoid creature peer through the darkness: those eyes seem to pause as they sweep in the Elf’s direction, and the creature lets out a gurgling missing croak that is reciporocated from another passage: the same one that the two unseen Hobbits are sheltered in! The Elf tugs on the rope, alerting Alberic and Dafydd, who quickly sow their gear and wade into the water, swimming and treading as fast as they can to join their companion.

The Hobbits race across the room, heading for the chimney. They duck into the alcove, hidden amongst the debris (rocks, feathers, bones). Wilibald chucks a rock to try and distract the creature that comes out from the passageway, but only causes them to turn his way, their pale green eyes fixating on him; they move towards the Hobbits, just as Alberic and Dafydd wade out of the water, joining Gilthannas by the archway. The three warriors are just in time to see the Hobbits rise form their hiding place, and for Wilibald Took to grab hold of the rope in an attempt to climb…

…the rope pulls down, and a bell rings out loudly in the chamber, momentarily deafening the Hobbits.

Then, from the passages, more of the creatures, Dwellers from the Marshes, squelch into the main chamber, six in all, splitting off into two groups as they spot the companions. Then, much to everyone’s worry, another four shamble out of the passage closest to the archway, and head towards the two Men and the Elf.

The three warriors let loose with their arrows, felling two of the Marsh-Dwellers before they advance. Gilthannas moves back behind the others, as Alberic wields his long-hafted axe and Dafydd draws forth his spear; across the room, the two Hobbits draw their King’s Blades and prepare to defend themselves.

The creatures attack with tooth and claw, blocked at the arch by Alberic and Dafydd; they slap aside blows and stab, felling another, then another as Gilthannas transfixes it with an arrow; Dafydd gets bitten, but his armour absorbs the worse of it. The Hobbits find themselves outnumbered, striking the creatures with stinging blows, but bashed in return. Wilibald parries with his sword, ducking and dodging, but Popo takes a blow to the side of his head, winding him. Then more of the creatures come out of the passage, crowding both groups. At the archway the warriors struggle to hold them back, and start to give ground. The Hobbits are hemmed in at the chimney, holding their own as more of the creatures swipe at them with their sharp claws.

Alberic and Dafydd combine their attacks, bashing one across the head, allowing the Barding to spear it in the chest; the creature falls, only to be immediately replaced by another. Gilthannas shoots over their heads, felling one of those attacking Popo, but as Dafydd ducks to avoid the shaft, a Marsh-Dweller whacks him across the chest, forcing him back as he begins to feel weary. He jabs one in the gut, and Alberic delivers a glancing blow against another, but both warriors are separated, forced back into the flooded chamber, only just keeping the creatures from reaching the Elf. By the chimney, Wilibald rolls and ducks, his small and elusive nature allowing him to avoid the sweeping claws; Popo, on the other hand, finds himself weary from blows and staggers back. He sees a gap before him, and dives through, rolling out of the fight and retreats to the nearest passage: a coloured archway of old, crumbling bricks, a short series of marble steps leading down. He hurries down, out of the way, and finds himself face-to-face with a sturdy reinforced door, marred by deep claw groves.

Alberic forces a Marsh-Dweller back, but the effort tires him. He tries to position himself to help Dafydd, as the Barding finds himself hemmed in, and then one of the creature’s claws him badly, shredding mail as it draws blood. He staggers back, in pain, but manages to deliver a blow to its jaw. The Elf shoots it in the head, and it falls back into its brethren, dead. Wilibald, still avoiding blows, stabs one in the chest, killing it, and looks around to see his brother disappear down the steps.

Seeing his companions harried, Alberic lifts his voice in song, momentarily lifting everyone’s spirits; it obviously has some effect, as Dafydd manages to pull back as another Marsh-Dwellers rakes its claws across his chest. He almost falls to his knees, close to exhaustion, but remains standing and lashes out at his opponent. Gilthannas takes out another, an arrow in its eye.

At the reinforced door, Popo tries to pick the lock, but finds none. Suddenly, the door swings open, and a pair of weary, starving Dwarves are revealed: one old, one young, both barely standing. Popo says something along the lines of ‘come with me if you want to live’, and the Dwarves follow the Hobbit out of the wine cellar, where there’s no exit, and cautiously look out onto the battlefield. They quickly introduce themselves as Balin and Oin; the two missing Dwarves!

Dafydd is knocked back by a Marsh-Dweller, but the staggering blow takes him away from the fight momentarily, allowing Alberic to sweep his arc in a long arc, decapitating one of the foul reeking creatures; another falls dead as the Elf pierces its heart with an arrow, and by the chimney, Wilibald crosses blade with claws, then fells another; three remain.

As Popo escorts the stumbling Dwarves across the room, heading for the arch and the pile of bodies, his brother takes his last opponent out as it is distracted by the fleeing party, and follows in their footsteps.

By the arch, Gilthannas takes out the next to last creature, clearing the way for the Hobbits and Dwarves. The last one faces off against Dafydd, who summons the last reserves of his strength, and rams his spearhead straight through its chest, exploding its heart and tearing out of its back. The last Marsh-Dwellers slides off, dead.

In the passages, faintly, more footfalls can be heard, wet and slapping. With most of them weary, one wounded, the company quickly wade into the water and prepare to swim back to the surface…

End of Session

XP Awarded: 2 each.
Wounded: Dafydd.

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