As the Company talk, they hear more horns sound in the mist-wreathed night. Orcs! Closing in on them, figures seen outlined in the mist by the weak moonlight. Lots of Orcs, heading their way.
Hauling Walar to his feet, they head off across the marshland, intent on returning to Mountain Hall as swiftly as possible. Pushing on through the night and day, barely resting, the Company force march their way back to the river. Several times the Orcs draw closer, as they pursue (some four dozen, the Company guess), but they keep ahead of them. Alberic, guiding them back to Mountain Hall, lets his wondrous boots do the walking, and they find a path through the marshes easily. At the river, they find a place to ford, and uses some of Radagast’s Mirkwood Cordial to boost their spirits. Its medicinal properties give strength to a flagging Walar, and they push on. Once across the river, Gilthannas opens the Storm Bag that they were given, and within minutes a storm appears overhead, the rain and wind and lightning aiding the Company in their escape: they leave the Orcs behind, and after a couple of days hard-hiking through the rolling foothills, they reach the safety of the settlement…
…or so it seems. As they approach, a line of bowmen meet them across the bridge, and they are ordered to come no further. Hartfast arrives, and accompanying him is none other than Magric the traitor. The Elder calls to them across the gorge:
“You are not welcome here. Magric has told us about how you tried to murder him in the marshes. You are outlaws and Orc- friends! If I see you again, I shall have you put to death. Leave now and never return!”
The companions tell him what happened, and send Walar forward to vouch for them and to tell him about the treachery of Magric. The traitorous guide is shaken, and a glint of a dagger catches the eye of the Elf. They shout a warning to Hartfast as Magric pulls out his blade; the old warrior shows why he still rules, when he stops the traitor with a powerful right-hook that sends the man sprawling. Immediately, two of the bowmen grab him.
With a cold fury, Hartfast turns on his former guide, snarling:
“How many of my people have you led to slavery? How long have you plotted with my enemies? Damn you! If it is gold that you want, then gold you shall have! Take him to the deepest part of the gold mine and wall him up in a side tunnel. Let the traitor live in the same darkness as his Orc-friends!”
With the guide taken away, Hartfast offers the companions an apology and welcomes them to his hall. As Winter is now upon them, they are welcome to stay as long as they need, and if they have to return home, he’ll provision them for the journey. They accept his kind offer and are bedded down in a small house, where they stay for a couple of nights to recover from their forced march from the Gladden Fields.
On their second night, they are awoken by Gilthannas, who has heard guttural voices outside. He peers out and sees several Orcs, one a large Orc, stealthily approaching. The rest of the Company quickly and quietly don their armour and grab their weapons. They ready themselves by the doorway, then Wilibald Took pulls open the door to allow Alberic, Dafydd Ap Alfred and the Elf to let loose with their bows, arrows plowing into the armour and hide of the lead Orc. He and two of the Orcs move out of sight, but not quickly enough, as Gilthannas gets another hit in on the lead Orc. One of the smaller orcs, a Snaga Tracker, lets loose with his own bow; the arrow strikes painfully against the Elf, but his armour prevents it piercing his flesh. Dafydd and Alberic take aim, and their arrows fly true: the two smaller Orcs still visible fall, dead.
The large Orc and the two soldier Orcs smash their way into the house, through the wall and roof; but the companions simply rush outside, turning around and firing back into the house: another arrow grazes the large Orc, who now looks tired and frustrated; he bellows in rage and charges out, swinging his scimitar at Dafydd: the Barding stands his ground, grabbing his spear off the floor, and using the Orc’s own charge to impale the creature: it dies with a whimper. The others dive into the house, taking on the last two Orcs: Popo and Wilibald jointly take an Orc out, and Alberic deals with the last one as the Mountain Men guards arrive on the scene.
3rd Blotmath, 2948 (Winter)
The following morning, with the chilled North wind blowing hard, the Company bid farewell to Mountain Hall and head off back towards Rhosgobel. They first head to Stonyford, spreading the word about the Orcs in the marshes and the evil Spirit commanding them, then travel across the wide, frosty plaints to Woodland Hall, sharing news, then down to Woodmen Town, until finally they arrive at Rhosgobel, cold and wet from a downpour of sleet. They tell Radagast everything that happened, and then settle down for Winter to see out the end of the year.
End of Session
XP Awarded: 2 each
The Company spend an End-of-Year Fellowship Phase and see out the Winter.