11th Wedmath, 2950 (Summer)
A day or so from reaching their new home, the fort they have had built on the Old Forest Road the Company are hailed by two Grey Mountain Dwarves, Anar and Beli. They tell the companions that they are in need of help, as six of their kin have disappeared into the Pale Rider Caves and have not returned. No, correction, one did come out, shouting something about Orcs, but was struck down by an arrow in the back. They are too inexperienced and anxious to go in themselves, so it was fortunate that the Company turned up when they did.
Leaving Niping with the two Dwarves, the rest of the Company approach the chalky caves where Northmen of old used to dig for limestone. They find tracks of the Dwarves but nothing else, but they do identify the arrow that killed the Dwarf lying face-down on the ground as an Orc arrow, and Gilthannas is sure he can hear the sound of a wolf or warg inside the cave the tracks disappear inside.
Lighting torches, lobbing one ahead to light their way and reveal any enemies, the Company advances down the passage, weapons at the ready. They hear footpads disappearing into the darkness and then are surprised by a warg as it leaps out of the shadows over the fighters at the front, right into the Elf. He parries its jaws, and Grimgar impales it on his spear with a huff and a puff. He shakes it free without a word, and they advance deeper into the caves.
At a junction they find a cave-in, and follow tracks away from it, into dark passages. An arrow speeds through the air at one point, narrowly missing them. They continue, and are ambushed by two Orcs: one manages to flee after firing an arrow at the wall, but the other is felled by a swift retaliation from Gilthannas’ bow. They move on, and arrive at a larger cave. There are Orcs there, and one, their leader, tells the Company to surrender or else they’ll kill the Dwarves.
Thinking that the Dwarves are held captive by the Orcs in the cave, and not wanting to surrender to any damned Orc, the Company charge into the cave… straight into a flurry of arrows!
The Orc leader roars in the Black-speech, his voice echoing throughout the tunnels. Arrows pelt Grimgar, Alberic and Storr, and a Warg leaps over to attack Gilthannas again. He strikes back, forced to use his poorer sword-skill, whilst Dafydd Ap Alfred leaps into battle, forcing an Orc to back away.
The Orcs drop their bows and wield axes, battering at shields and blades, quickly wearying just about everyone. For a few moments it seems that their bold move was a mistake, but then the heroes turn the tide of battle: Grimgar and Dafydd impale Orcs, shoving their corpses off the spear-points, Alberic cuts one open with his axe, and Storr slashes open the throat of another. Gilthannas slays the wolf, picks up his bow, and takes shots at the Orc leader: the larger Orc has snake-like reflexes, dodging the arrows and blows from the others. He moves in to take on Alberic, his greater strength rapidly knocking the Woodman down, stunned and dazed to the floor. He parries blow after blow from Dafydd, ducks arrows, until Gilthannas manages to catch him put and sticks an arrow into his chest. The leader curses the Elf, and as more of his Orcs fall dead around him, he leaps over their bodies and flees through the nearest tunnel.
Leaving the last Orcs to the others, Gilthannas and Dafydd give chase, while Grimgar fells the last Orc and Storr tends to Alberic, using some of their Mirkwood Cordial to bring him around. As soon as he is up, they follow the others.
They soon lose sight of the Enemy, and narrowly avoid an ambush. Waiting for the others to catch up, Gilthannas and Dafydd then lose track of the Orc leader and the other Orcs he joined up with. But then they find the missing Dwarves: all dead, butchered by the Orcs.
Deciding to exit the caves, with most of them being weary, the Company slowly move towards the entrance, but go via the Orc cave, in case there is anything of interest there. Turns out the Orcs also returned then, and lying in wait, they manage to catch most of the Company by surprise: all except Gilthannas, who puts an arrow in the leader’s eye, killing him instantly. The other three Orcs quickly fall to arrows fired by Storr, Alberic and the Elf again, and the last by the spear of Dafydd Ap Alfred as he charges into their midst.
They search the cave, finding a map of the area that the Orcs have been drawing. They exit the caves, taking the two Dwarves outside with them, promising to send people back for the Dwarf bodies once they reach the fort. They get there without any trouble, send people back, and settle down for a few days to rest.
Once rested, Dafydd, Alberic, Gilthannas, Storr and Grimgar head off again. They travel first to Beorn’s House, updating him on recent events, then travel to the Easterly Inn where Dindy and Dody ask them if they would be interested in escorting a caravan to Bree. They agree, after a short detour to the Forest Gate where they hand over a sealed letter to an Elf (Lotho), a letter to the King telling him about a possible traitor in his realm. Duty done, they return to the inn, and a few days later are heading to the Old Ford with the Hobbit caravan, planning on travelling West to Bree for new adventures over the mountains, before returning home after Winter.
End of Sessions
XP Awarded: 2 each.