After spending the rest of summer at Beorn’s House recovering from their recent ordeal, with most of the companions still miserable from a near defeat, the Company decide to head East in search of new, and perhaps more profitable, adventure. Whilst staying at Beorn’s, Gilthannas learnt that there was a ancient ruined tower not far from some old barrows close to the Old Forest Road, where it enters the gloom of Mirkwood. They also want to head to Erebor, so that Wilibald can learn more about his cursed shield.
They head off on the 1st of Halimath, with the leaves starting to fall and change colour as Autumn draws in. With clouds scudding across the pale blue sky, they hike across the fields until they reach the eaves of the forest, then make their way along the border towards the old road.
Three pleasantly uneventful days later they are passing under the canopy of the forest, when an Elf they recognise, Galion former cup-bearer to the Elven King and who they encountered whilst searching for the Dwarves in the Long Marshes steps out of the trees and hails them. He spots Dafydd and speaks directly to the Barding, having bonded over their short journey in the marshes. Both Popo and Gilthannas notice that there are other Elves in the trees, armed warriors keeping watch.
He speaks to them briefly, asking how the road West is, whether they’ve seen any Orcs about, and mentions that they– himself and the Elves he is with– are being harried by Orcs, and not just any old Orcs, but Mordor-orcs. As he speaks, Alberic spots two more Elves moving towards them: these are brighter, more solid, noble Elves, a Lord and Lady by their bearing. The Elf-lord wears well-kept hunter’s garb, while the Lady wears shimmering white and cloud-grey silks and silver armbands. They exchange words, too quiet even for Gilthannas to hear, and as Galion finishes exchanging news, the Elf-lord steps forward:
“Greeting! I am Legolas, son of Thranduil. This is the Lady Irimë, of the House of Gil-Galad. The lady is journeying West, to the High Pass. It was our errand to take her there, but these Orcs must be driven from our land.” He pauses and glances at the veiled woman, then goes on. “The lady has requested that you bring her the rest of the way.”
Naturally they agree, and are soon walking into the evening with a large company of Elves. They dine with them under a canopy of oaks, in a clearing laid with white silks, lanterns and enough food to satisfy even the Hobbits. They spend a restful evening listening to songs and tales, and sleep soundly that night.
In the morning all of the Elves except Irimë have gone, and the Company finds they’ve somehow travelled in the night, and awake under the shadow of a tall oak. Irimë is now dressed in simple travelling gear, a deep hood hiding her features. She patiently waits for them to ready for the journey, and as a chill wind blows in from the North, they head off along the fields, joining the Old Forest Road and head West, towards their frequent stopping point of The Old Ford.
During their travels, the Lady Irimë speaks of the past, again and again and again. It is as if all she can see is what once lay on the land centuries ago: she speaks of the bridge that once crossed the ford, of the Green Wood as it was before the Shadow fall upon it, of the strange small folk that once dwelt in burrows along the banks of the river, and of the Enemy that drove many from the lands. She never smiles, always looks a little sad, and spends her nights singing tales of the past. She is beyond beautiful, with sad eyes, and a far-seeing gaze.
Wilibald manages to almost make her smile when he teaches her a Hobbit pipe-smoking song, and she in turn teaches him an Elvish song about long-lost Beleriand.
After leaving the Old Ford behind, the Company soon become aware that they are being followed: Alberic scouts ahead, and finds a war-band of Orcs on their trail, hunting them. More are spied ahead, but further afield, possibly not hunting them. They leave the path and move off into the rolling hills as they draw closer to the foothills of the Misty Mountains.
About a day out from the mountains, where the ruins of a town lie before the entrance to the High Pass, as night draws in, these Orcs are suddenly much nearer and swiftly closing! In less than an hour they’ll be upon the Company: they spy a rocky hill nearby, defensible, steep slopes, and close enough that they’ll reach it before the Orcs do.
Hurrying across the rough terrain, the Company lead their ponies and Irimë up the slope, collecting bits of firewood as they go. At the top they surround the ponies and Elf-lady, set a fire, and prepare to fight.
Orcs swarm over the hills, surrounding the rocky hill. The Company are easily outnumbered twenty-to-one. As they gather, Irimë begins to sing, an Elvish song that sounds far too like a funeral dirge. The Orcs howl and scream, clash their swords and spears against their shields in an effort to drown our her words, but they fail. As her singing softens, becomes more like a chant on the wind, a large Orc steps forward, just out of bow range, and calls out to them: “Give us the Elf woman, and the rest of you can go free!”
“No! Leave now and you’ll live. Come at us, and you’ll die by sword, and spear, and axe,” say the Company.
“Good! Then tonight we shall dine on your flesh!” And with that, the Orcs charge!
Irimë raises her hand, and from the jewel of the ring she wears a bright light blooms, as if a star had uncloaked itself. The blaze dismays the Orcs. Some turn and flee, and those in the lead must raise their shields to shade their eyes from the Elf- light.
Taking advantage of their hesitation, the Company let loose a flurry of arrows, taking out an archer on a hill, peppering others; an archer retaliates, its arrow thudding heavily into Alberic’s mail, winding him.
Then the Orcs recover and are on them! Black uruk Orcs, smaller Goblins, and Orc soldiers clash with the companions. Gilthannas stands before Irimë, shooting at the Goblin archers shooting from the darkness. He takes one out, but an arrow nicks him, tracing a red line across his cheek. Alberic parries and swings, taking out an Orc, while Dafydd and Popo exchange blows with Orcs, forcing their foes back, but feeling the strain of the battle as they defend the hill.
Then a lone Goblin worms its way through the ranks and somehow manages to squeeze past, leaping up to attack Gilthannas with a jagged knife dripping with poison. The Elf sidesteps the blow as he lets loose another arrow, but then finds himself face-to-face with a Goblin and has to draw his own dagger.
And while all of this is going on, Irimë keeps on singing her Elvish chant, until suddenly her words falter and stop. She looks up at the cloudy night sky, eyes searching the darkness. Somewhere above there is a terrible screech.
And then the Orcs surge forward, their leader urging them on, as he starts his own approach, shoving aside his smaller brethren as he enters the battle…
End of Session
XP Awarded: 1 each.