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.
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.