The One Ring: The Nameless Fellowship

Orcs, Goblins & Bears! Oh my!
Session 31

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27th Thirmidge, 2498 (Spring’s End)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Session

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

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 4
Session 30

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The Battle of Stonyford

16th Thirmidge, 2498

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19th Thirmidge, 2498

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

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

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

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

End of Session

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

Date of Next Adventuring Phase: 27th Thirmidge, 2498 (end of Spring).

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 3
Session 29

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12th Thirmidge, 2498

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

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

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

14th Thirmidge, 2498

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

15th Thirmidge, 2498

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

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

End of Session

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 2
Session 28

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25th Aston, 2498

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Session

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

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Kinstrife & Dark Tidings: Part 1
Session 27

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19th Aston, 2498

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Session

Current Date: 25th Aston, 2498.

XO Awarded: 1 each.

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Words of the Wise: Part 2
Session 26

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1st Rethe, 2498

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6th Aston, 2498

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

As the sun sets, the Orcs attack.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Session

XP: 2 each.

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Words of the Wise: Part 1
Session 25

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1st Rethe, 2498

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Session

XP: 1 each for Alberic, Dafydd and Wilibald.

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An Easy Winter
Fellowship Phase

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21st Winterfith to 30th Solmath

End of Year Fellowship Phase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End of Fellowship Phase

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Butchering the Basilisks
Session 24

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As dusk falls the Company (along with Gillard and Holdwine the Outlaws) set about dealing with the basilisks. Gilthannas sneaks inside the cave, hearing at least one of the beasts, and believing there are probably more within. He slips back out to the others, and they prepare their ambush.

Alberic sets a snare in front of the cave, and a rope in a nearby tree to scamper up. He wields a couple of torches, ready to light. The Hobbits and the Elf head into the trees with Holdwine, bows at the ready, while Gillard and Dafydd Ap Alfred make their way up the slope and above the cave, spears at the ready.

Then Wilibald Took makes a racket with his pots and pans, and Alberic throws the lit torches inside and by the cave entrance; it isn’t long until a Sarnlug waddles out to see what all the noise is about; and it falls into the Woodman’s snare; the rope pulls tight, Alberic runs for the tree, and everyone starts pelting it with arrows and jabbing it with spears; it dies quickly.

Alberic immediately starts pulling the corpse towards him, but then another Basilisk comes waddling out of the tree, and spotting Dafydd above, it starts climbing the slope, mostly ignoring the arrows that fly through the air and rebound off its thick hide. Dafydd charges in, spear leading and glancing off the beast’s hide as more arrows ping and bounce off its hide; but the spear strikes home, and arrows soon manage to find cracks in its hide; with its last breath it spews forth its poisonous breath… but the Barding throws up his shield and huddles down, and the cloud passes harmlessly over him. He jabs up at the beast’s belly, and slays the monster.

A third comes out of the cave, but a flurry of arrows convinces it to crawl back into its lair.

Not wanting to waste any time, they haul the corpses away and cut out their hearts. Following Radagast’s instructions, Alberic boils the hearts, pulps them into a paste and applies it to the affected skin of Wilibald and Gillard. They drink the water, and feel much better. Already their skin is looking better.

The Company retreat to a safe distance from the caves and after setting watch for the night, they settle down amongst the pines and sleep.

14to to 21st Winterfilth, 2497

The next day they head East towards Woodland Hall, intent on spending the Winter there. It takes a week, with little to worry or obstruct them, other than weariness of the journey in the late Autumn weather. They bid farewell to Holdwine and Gillard after crossing The Old Ford, and are soon in the shelter of the woodland town.

End of Session & Adventuring Phase

XP Awarded: 1 each.

Next: End of Year Fellowship Phase

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Heart of the Basilisk
Session 23

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23rd Halimath, 2497 T.A

As Geirbald and the outlaws break camp, the Company decides to split the Fellowship and send the Hobbits heading back to Rhosgobel, accompanied by Gillard (also suffering from the petrifying poison) and Holdwine. The others will head back to the cave of the basilisk, to butcher it for its organs in the hope that something there will allow Radagast to brew up a cordial to cure them.

Alberic, Dafydd and Gilthannas force march through the day and night to reach the White Statues and immediately proceed into the caves, which are thankfully the same as they left them. They butcher the beasts, taking venom sacs and teeth, tongues and bladders, eyes and claws, and bloodied scales. They then force march South, and after a few days they catch sight of the Hobbits and outlaws as they are crossing the Old Forest Road and the Fellowship is united again.

Back together, they force march on towards Woodland Hall, fatigue catching up on them as they briefly rest for a few hours before continuing on. They procure some boats, and with Alberic and Gilthannas piloting the boats down the Black River, they make good time and eventually reach Rhosgobel only nine days since leaving the caves. By now all are weary, the Elf especially so, but the petrification has thankfully not worsened.

They go straight to see the Wizard, telling him all that happened and presenting him with the jars they found on the sacrificial table. He examines them and drags some ash from the fire, coats the jars and then places them in the fire: seconds later a hidden sigil is revealed in the hot ashes, a grinning skull with a flaming right eye.

“This is the mark of the Sorceress,” explains Radagast. “Said to dwell in the Demon’s Tower in Southern Mirkwood, a former fortress of Dol Guldur. I believe she was an apprentice to the Necromancer, and if she is involved, then there is foul sorcery afoot.”

The Sorceress can wait until later, he goes on to say. For now, there is the need for an antidote before the poison works its way into the system and Wilibald and Gillard are both turned to stone, forever.

Radagast tells what is needed:

The heart must be cut free within an hour of the beast’s demise, then boiled until it turns white. The heart must then be pounded and ground into a thick white paste, which must be applied to the affected areas of the body. The water the heart was boiled in must then be drunk by the victim

The heart is a notable organ missing from their butchery, but from the collected animal parts, the Wizard manages to make an ointment that will slow down the poison, and give them time to locate the basilisks. He also, as they asked, bestows upon them a Blessing of Travel to aid them in their journey to the Western Eaves, to hunt for the Sarnlug in their natural habitat on the slopes of the Misty Mountains.

They leave the next morning, keeping to the easiest routes but no longer marching through the night. They are weary by the time they reach the mountains, having passed through Woodland Hall, the village of Stonyford, and spending a night at The Old Ford. They follow the river, pass by the Falrock and head into the wooded slopes, searching for tracks.

A few hours later, as the afternoon darkens with the coming of evening, Alberic spots tracks and they locate a cave where they suspect a pair of basilisks lair. They keep in sight of it and plan their next move.

End of Session

Current Date: 13th Winterfilth (Autumn)

XP Awarded: 1 each.

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