Leaping out of the heaps of leaves six giant Hunter Spiders ambush the three companions. Warned by Dafydd Ap Alfred, they manage to let loose a flurry of arrows, taking out one of the Spiders at it leaps to attack; then they find themselves surrounded, fending off the sharp beaks of the venomous arachnids.
Alberic cuts the legs from one, leaving it open to a killing shot by Gilthannas, whiel Dafydd trades blows with another, eventually gaining the upper hand and impaling the beast. He and Alberic take out a couple more, then shift position to let the Elf let fly with more arrows. The final Spiders fell to their blows, and with a final swing of his axe, Alberic takes out the last one.
They leave the area, make camp, and spend the next six days travelling out of Mirkwood and through the Long Marshes, reaching Lake-town on midsummer’s day; just in time to meet Frar of the Greydelve at the inn.
The travel-stained, haunted-eyed, grouchy Dwarf has been waiting for them, and thanks them for their help with his kinsmen, Polin and Pomin. The companions explain that they are interested in helping his cause, reclaiming the ancient Dwarf-home of Greydelve. and may be able to bend the ear of the King Under the Mountain. They persuade him to gather his kin, as many as he can convince, and bring them to one place, to prove to the King that he has a following and that they cannot just be ignored. Frar agrees, and decides to set off straight away. He’ll return with news before Winter falls, and will meet them again on the festival of Dragontide, a few months away.
They agree, and decide to go further with their original plan. They take off on a long journey, travelling back down to the Woodmen, via the Woodland Realm, then back up to Dale and Erebor, spreading their wealth and building on their reputation, establishing themselves as worthy adventurers willing and able to work with the leaders of Wilderland. They manage to convince all the leaders of the realms to be their patrons, and get them to agree to establishing a holding on the border of the Old Forest Road, just down from The Old Ford. There they’ll set up an outpost, manned and commanded by one of each culture: Dwarves, Elves, Woodmen, Beornings and Bardings. Representatives of the Five Armies.
Dafydd Ap Alfred is nominated as the representative of the Bardings, while Alberic is the spokesman for the Woodmen. Gilthannas acts the King’s Man for the Elves, and Bofri for the Dwarves (also agrees to use the outpost as the base for his project to re-open the Old Forest Road). Beorn agrees to send a representative as soon as the outpost is built, and in the meantime sends men and supplies to help.
Despite their good standing, and wise and persusaive words, none of the leaders agree to lend aid to Frar and his kin. There are no armies strong enough to spare the men, and few are willing to risk the lives of their countrymen in what looks like a fool’s errand.
1st Blothmath, 2949 (Autumn)
The three companions return to Lake-town, in time to participate in Dragontide. They give Frar the bad news, but suggest that he brings his kin to their new holding, for next Spring, and he agrees. If nothing else, the trek to the mountains will be easier from there.
The companions take part in the archery contest, each getting through the Wreath and Wand shots, but only the Elf scores highly: in fact, he outshines all the other contestants and wins through to the Ring Shot round. There he narrowly gets through the first round, and the second, and on the third round, cheered on by his comrades, he beast the other competitors and successfully wins the contest! He is awarded a gold replica of the Black Arrow and is cheered by the crowds.
In the aftermath, the three companions are invited to a feast and festival at the end of the month, and take some time out to rest and relax while they can.