25th Aston, 2950 (Spring)
After spending a few days at Rhosgobel, waiting to see Radagast, the four companions are reunited with Grimgar, who is now acting as thane of Beorn and trading honey for medicinal herbs, and a representative from the Grey Mountain Dwarves, Niping the Proud. He is acting as an ambassador to the Woodmen, but with a background of wandering as a trader, he is looking for opportunities to make friends and gain favours. While resting, Storr finally gets through his depression and finds life to be lovely again.
One morning at Rhosgobel the Company learn from a recently returned Radagast that one of the Elves ( Tawar by name) that accompanied Haldir has been found, near-death stumbling about in the forest. Upon waking he asked for Gilthannas, and has word of his elder brother.
When they last saw Haldir, back in the Spring of 2948, after the battle at Woodland Hall, he had set out to investigate rumours of a Sorceress occupying Demon’s Tower , at the southern edge of the forest. On their journey there they spied on Mogdred and his men, skirted the borders of the Fen Marshes, and fought Orcs and Spiders that they came across.
When they reached the tower they had barely begun to scout out the area when a sizeable force of Orcs and Men ambushed them, killing many Elves, but capturing most. Those they captured were taken down into the dungeons beneath the tower and thrown into cells, kept there for weeks, given just enough to keep them alive. Haldir kept their spirits up, but one-by-one the Elves were taken away, upstairs to see the Sorceress. None returned. Despite the temptation to end their lives, Haldir remained convinced that an opportunity to escape would present itself, and his men were loyal enough to stay with him, even though they were weary and suffering.
One day, when their jailers came for another Elf, they made their move: for some weeks the Elves had been clawing at the bars, weakening them enough for some of the Elves to break free. These Elves fought the Orcs, but they were too weak to do more than delay the inevitable: but they were able to distract them long enough for Tawar to escape, on Haldir’s orders, and he fled through the tunnels, managing to evade the Orcs and Evil Men long enough to reach the courtyard. There he raced past the great tree that stood in the yard (a diseased willow, stained black) and evaded blows and arrows long enough to scale the walls and leap to the ground below. Tawar took an arrow in his shoulder as he leapt, broke a leg when he crashed to the ground, but kept conscious through sheer force of will and disappeared into the forest.
He has spent weeks making his way to Rhosgobel, slowed by his wounds, wearied and unarmed. He avoided capture only by hiding and waiting out his pursuers; came close to death when he stumbled into a nest of Spiders, but managed to fight them off with nothing more than a heavy branch. Nearly broken, poisoned, his wounds infected and slowing him greatly, he eventually made it to the river before he collapsed and was found by the Woodmen.
Tawar begs the companions to help his kin, to rescue them from the clutches of the Orcs and this Sorceress. He doesn’t know how long they have left, as there were only a dozen Elves left when he escaped. They were being taken away one at a time every week or two, so time is of the essence.
He knows no more, and in the night, his wounds too grave, he passes peacefully in his sleep.
Naturally, Gilthannas wants to rescue his brother and fellow Elves, and the others agree. Radagast tells them he can help, first by giving them some of his mirkwood cordial, but also by brewing up a concoction using some of Gilthannas’ blood, which will act as a guide to where Haldir is imprisoned. This brew the Wizard pours into a glass vial, worn on a leather throng around the Elf’s neck. It glows whenever it points to his brother, and will glow brighter the closer they get. The companions are joined once again by Storr, but also by Grimgar and Niping, both eager to do good deeds; Grimgar owes them, and Niping is hoping they will owe him.
That night they plan their route and decide to cut across the Narrows of the Forest to the Hall of Ceawin the Generous, then skirt the forest until they are in line with where Haldir can be found: then they’ll cut through the twisted, tangled mess of Southern Mirkwood and locate the tower known as Minas Raug. Once they get there, they’ll figure out the rest.
They set off early next morning, six companions of the New Alliance, crossing the sparser forest between Rhosgobel and The Black Tarn, taking three days to travel to the Narrows. The going is easy enough and without trouble. From there they head off East, towards the East Bight, taking 11 days through the twisted thickets and trails, avoiding any signs of bandits from Tyrant’s Hill. When they reach the Hall of Ceawin, they are welcomed as friends and rest for the night. The next day, refreshed and with suitable rations, they skirt the edge of the forest, travelling easily across the grass wild lands, without incident or meeting a soul. Six days later the concoction points straight West, and they decide now is the time to enter the forest, and spend the next 13 days struggling through the thick, tangled, dark intense forest. There are no signs of life, no trails or paths to follow, nothing to hunt, little to drink. The journey is tiring, and the weight of the forest is felt as the glowing brew gets brighter and brighter.
On the 13th day Gilthannas is certain they are near. Scouting ahead, Alberic and himself locate the tower of Minas Raug just after nightfall. A stone tower topped by iron spikes and stained glass, surrounded by a wall with numerous towers, patrolled by Orcs and Men. The concoction points directly at it, and glows now as bright as a candle. They find a sheltered spot to spend the night, set guards, and sleep restlessly.
In the morning Gilthannas and Dafydd Ap Alfred scout out the area, looking for possible ways in other than the main gateway. They find only windows in the tall tower, some of which are large enough to fit through, if someone can climb up the wall of the tower. Fortunately, the stone blocks it is made from have seams that would handholds for a climber, although the ascent would be hard. They return to the others and decide that the windows offer the best chance to get inside. They wait until dusk, move around to the North side of the tower, where the view from the walls is limited, and make their move.
First, Gilthannas sneaks across, followed by Dafydd. As soon as the Barding is there, the Elf climbs up to the window, making the ascent look easy. He listens at the window, hears nothing, sees no lights or movement, and manages to open the latch using his knife. Inside is a parlour of rich fabric and expensive furniture, a single door leading out. It is empty of life. He ties off a rope on a heavy table, lowers it down and signals Dafydd to follow. They wave to the others, hiding in the forest, and as the Barding begins to climb, Alberic makes his way across the clearing, up the slope of the hill, to the tower wall without being seen. He too climbs the rope and joins his friends in the parlour.
Then Grimgar starts across. For someone use to hunting, he is surprisingly clumsy and manages to kick stones and stumble as he scrambles up the hill. He knows he has been seen as arrows start flying towards him: one strikes him with enough force to wind him, and he staggers back down the hill, retreating to the forest and the others, not wanting to draw attention to those already inside.
In the courtyard there are cries of alarm, shouts for guards, and a voice calls out: “Don’t forget: if there are any Elves, don’t kill them, don’t eat them, and bring them back alive!”
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.