Adventures in Middle Earth

The Dark Mage of Rhudaur, Part 5

Edra snapped awake from an extremely troubled sleep – one where he was all alone in the dark, underground somewhere. There was only one other person in the room, and while he could not see who it was, he could feel hatred radiating from them.

Once he got his bearings, he discovered what woke him was the sounds of pounding on his door. He opens it and is face to face with Glorfindel, who urges him that they leave immediately. Edra says that he wants to talk to Glorfindel about a theory that he has first – their source of trouble may be Dark Elves. Edra believes that may be one of the only explanations that he could think of that would draw Easterlings this far from their homeland. Glorfindel believes that is an interesting thought, and mentions that he will meditate on it. Speaking of Easterlings, he says, he spotted them heading towards the Northwest on his way here – the area where he and his men can feel pulses of evil radiating.

Besides Glorfindel, only Alfrin and two other elves seemed ready to accompany them on their jounrey. Edra wondered if the other elves that were in Glorfindel’s entourage were too afraid of the forest, due to the evil radiating from it. Glorfindel agrees, adding that it’s probably due to the stories from the Second Age, where Elrond lead a mix of men and elves into the forest to defeat an evil witch, and only the men managed to escape alive. When asked about the events that happened in the forest, Elrond only would mutter “It is contained”.

Once the rest of the group was awakened, they assembled in the courtyard. The elven horses refused to move any further towards the forest, shaking their heads in disobedience. The regular horses, seeing this, followed suit, so the party decided that it may be best to head out on foot.

After the rest of the group has been awakened, they assembled in the courtyard. The elven horses refused to move any further towards the forest, shaking their heads, and the regular horses followed suit.

On the way, Glorfindel says it’s likely that the Bronze Guard will be between them and the deep end on the forest. Since his men are heavily armored, Glorfindel wants to keep to the back while the rangers go on ahead and whittle them down using any means necessary.

Addromyr, Alfirin and Niana go on ahead to see where the Bronze Band may have gone in the forest. As they head up the hill, the footprints start to diverge, which they find interesting – they may have gone to a post that they are possibly guarding. Looking closer, Alfirin can see a set of footprints going up a tree, and looking up she sees the man that she scarred aiming for him with a bow and arrow. She tumbles forward as the arrow grazes past, catching part of her coat.

As Alfirin dodges two more arrows, a cloud moves in front of the moon and it goes pitch black. The group moved in formation – Adromyr and Einar moved up in the trees, while the others pulled out their bows and broke out in all out battle with the Bronze Band. The enemy fell quite quickly, all but two, which Addrok captured for questioning.

Edra tells the two remaining that they will spare their lives, if they follow Placro back to the castle and submit to Meryndil in surrender, after they give further information. They tell him that Ethnakali is an Easterling, a powerful mage, and is in the northeast with his men. Edra then says to the two men, if they know what’s good for them, will reject their life of sin and danger and return to Rhaudar. He also says that while he is the master, who is very strong, his servent Placro is even stronger, and they should be afraid of him if they were to escape his presence. Placro prods them with his cooking knife as they start marching back towards the castle, everyone else saluting as he heads off.

Alfirin asked the trees for any information – they say that there is an evil in this forest, both old and recent. As they move in further, they run into a group of Easterlings, though they managed to stay unseen. They discuss a plan with Glorfindel, where they distract as the rangers pick off the Easterlings from behind. Glorfindel and his men charge into the camp, glowing and blowing their hunting horn and completely decimated their forces.

As the group travel further, they eventually make it up on top of the hill and viewed the valley from below. The trees in the valley below are completely dead, seemingly from unnatural forces, though there is an unusual patch of woods that is burned instead. There is also a large group of Easterlings that are making a camp below.

Edra has an idea of lighting pine on fire and volley arrows on the Easterlings, to scatter their forces as they take them out. After a few rounds of fire, it was enough for the Easterlings to begin fleeing, and the group set fire to their camp to destroy the supplies. They were unable to find anything of value, and took a very short rest before moving forward towards the center of the forest.

Niana got a vision of a group of people creating a temple, the second group of people slaying them and creating a mound on that spot, while a third decided to live there though some evil was unleashed during their time there. It seems that when a fourth group decided to come across it and dig, it disturbed the forces there again. She can also feel a feeling of great sorrow coming from the ground, along with a feeling of great hatred.

Shortly after, they come across very unusual footprints – large, round and bipedal. They follow it to the center of the forest, where they find the mound, though cannot find the entrance inside. The group decide to go as a group around the perimeter and eventually come across a spot where there is disturbed earth and a hole that descends further underground.

Glorfindel thanks the group for accompanying him, and agrees to go first. He pulls out his sword, which starts to glow blue, and begins to descend further underground, with the group following behind. Eventually the hole leads to a staircase, which leads to an unnatural tunnel.

As they move forward, they suddenly hear a voice chuckling, “Come closer… please… come to my sanctum, where I am most powerful.” Edra starts to run towards it, believing it’s his time, though Glorfindel catches him. He says, “One should not run towards his destiny, but rather savor it.”

They come towards doors that are 40 feet wide, made of marble, with red veins running through it. Entering inside, they see three doors. Tracks suggest that most go to the right, some go to the center, and none go to the left. By looking at the tracks, there are troll tracks on the right, though the rest are completely humanoid.

The group decide to pursue the middle path – they begin to see skeletons, all looking as if they were felled in combat, all human. There are one set of tracks that lead to the very end of the room, then appear to have turned around and left. After some investigation of the door at the end, some words appear in black speech, saying “Keep Out – Heavily Trapped Treasure Room”.

As Edra looks over the room, Addrok asked someone to look over the rear, and one of the elves happily agrees. As he goes back, suddenly, he was hit with a large rock, crying that he wasn’t told that there would be trolls here. He chuckles and then starts running away.

The rest of the group turns to the door and try to figure out the riddle to open it. Edra says numerous things in Black Speech but it doesn’t work. It wasn’t until Alfirin stood up and said “Password” that a small door pops open and reveals a panel of three numbers and a button. After some arguing, the group decide its not a good idea to pursue, so they leave the room and instead go to the right.

As they go down the stairs, they finally come across a door that has runes pulsating in red. Glorfindel throws a rock into the door and it bursts in flame for a few seconds before petering out. He turns to the group and says that they should be safe to cross through now. They are confronted with two doors, and they proceed to go down the hall of one of them.

It didn’t take long until they are faced with three cave trolls. The group, while taking major injuries initially, manage to fell them eventually. Once they are done, and Glorfindel works to heal the rest. They find nothing in this room – it appears as if it was just used for storage.

As they turn around, they are suddenly faced with a human female, clearly dead, standing in the hallway where they came in. She asks Glorfindel if he recognizes her. He wonders why should he, she is a creature of Sauron. She says that she wasn’t always, and she introduces herself as Sabriel. Glorfindel, surprised, says that she was the most beautiful human he had ever laid eyes on, why did she do this herself? Sabriel said that she loved him but could not join him in eternal life, so she went to Morgoth to find it. She was given to Sauron as a toy to experiment with, but Sauron succeeded where the elves could not – she is still here, still alive.

Glorfindel creates an illusion of a mirror and had her look at herself, and she backed away in recoil – completely disgusted. Glorfindel then says sadly, “You gave up everything and I’m not impressed.” As he turns away, she lunges forward, the two of them engaged in grapple. Sabriel’s dagger slices through his armor and makes a clean hit with his arm. Ditching the dagger, she then makes a quick exit.

One of the elves picks up the blade with a cloth, saying that Elrond needs to take care of this, though the evil force in here needs to be defeated as soon as possible. They say that they need to take him to Rivendell as quickly as possible, and ask the scouts if they will continue on to defeat the evil inside of this cave.

Glorfindel stirs slightly, mutters one last time that “Her vanity was always her biggest weakness….” before passing out. Bidding the elves well wishes and safe travels, the rest of the party continues on further in the cave.

The Dark Mage of Rhudaur, Part 4

Niana hears pounding at her bedroom door. Due to her sleepwalking condition, it happened to be locked, so it took her and the person on the other side awhile to open it. Once they manage, she’s greeted face to face with Anfled, the healer. She comments with surprise that the door was locked, but then quickly mentions to Niana that there’s smoke coming from the kitchen.

Niana mentions that maybe the top priority was to put out the flames, but Anfled seemed more concerned about the cook that was inside. When the two of them reach the kitchen, they find the assistant cook and the dishwasher dead. With eyes glassed over and butchers’ knife in hand, the cook turns around to the both of them and whispers in a creepy voice, “…. Pretty….”

He then looks directly at Niana, smiles and says “You’re special – you remind me of my doctor, Dr. Ethnakali. He was the one that stopped me from causing things to burn. It’s been ten years since I last heard from him and last received his hypnotism. That is, until ‘that ring’ came in my presence. That just seemed to wipe everything away….”

Placro at that moment walked into the kitchen, looking for snacks for Edra for the siege. He looked around bewildered at the events that were unfolding before him in the kitchen, and then shouted “There’s a man with a knife in here!!”

Niana tries to dissuade the chef, though it fell on deaf ears and he starts to walk towards her with his knife. Placro jumps in front of her with his short sword, though misses hitting him with it. It was enough to distract the chef though – as he swung at Placro, Niana used her staff to knock the knife out of his hand. Placro then used the opportunity to stab his leg, though was unable to pull the knife back out. While the chef goes to remove it himself, Niana was able to land a huge hit on the top of the chef’s head, which knocks him out completely. At this time, Anfled comes back with two guards, and they all immediately work to put out the flames in the kitchen.

Meanwhile, the others begin to defend the castle from the siege, taking various positions around the castle as trolls start to force ladders on the sides and climb up.

Alfirin attempted to give a rousing speech to the castle troops, though around the third paragraph of the speech, Adromyr shoots one of the climbing trolls straight in the eye and caused it massive damage. With the adrenaline, he shouted a few sentences of encouragement and bravery to the men, which rouses them completely.

Through some smart maneuvering on the scouts’ part, such as knocking back ladders with trolls on them, only a few trolls managed to make their way up to the landing. The trolls proven themselves to be dangerous in such small spaces as they began to tear through some of their ranks, including Meryndyl and Penta. The healthy men managed to get the injured down the stairs to the healing bay, where Edra and Niana were at hard work trying to stop the bleeding.

Anfled though, was being unusually quiet. Niana soon noticed that she was over her own wrists with a dagger, crying that she actually doesn’t know how to heal at all – not only was it her fault that she couldn’t save the captains’ wife from dying in childbirth, but she is unable to save these men from dying either. Shaking, she says that she has dreams about the wife’s death every night, and that she is personally responsible and unfit for this place. Edra says that she has the ability to save people and does have the power within her.

The words were unable to reach Anfled, however, and she slit her wrists completely. Looking up weakly, she says “It hurts a lot more than I thought it would.” Niana does manage to save her in time and heal her, then berates her for being so foolish, saying that she needs to pay attention more in class next time.

One by one, the troll bodies began to crumple in a heap on on the landing. Soon it was down to the last one, and through the clever teamwork between Addrok and Adromyr, they manage to fell it. Looking down, they spot the Easterlings approaching the castle with their weapons, and the remaining team begins to roll the dead troll bodies over the edge as a form of intimidation. This worked for some, but there were a few that still marched forward. They were no match for the hot oil that some of the troops in the interior of the castle were preparing however, and made a hasty retreat once that was poured from all sides. Once the castle was confirmed to be free of any invaders, the men celebrated in complete victory.

Glorfindel and a band of twelve elves arrive, and Alfirin greets them. He says that he is not here for the castle and did not come to save them from their battle. Rather, there is such great evil in the forest that even Elrond can feel it from Rivendell. Glorfindel suggests that they march during the day when the forces inside of the forest will be at their weakest. Alfirin retorts that Glorfindel will need as much help as he can get, and her group needs to rest due to the battle. Glorfindel agrees, saying that his party also needs to rest – they got into a lot of skirmishes on their way over, and they need to replenish supplies and weapons.

As the group rests that night, Niana wakes up screaming and can hear a voice in her head, “….Any moment now.” Glorfindel also wakes up, due to sensing the evil in the forest. He tells the group that the Bronze Band has been hired in the forest, trying to stop anyone from going into it. He also warns them that it’ll be a difficult journey to even get in. Lastly, he tells them to keep in mind that they are all scouts – archery and sneaking is going to be their top priority.

The Dark Mage of Rhudaur, Part 3

The day goes on as the orcs continue to test their catapult, launching limestone rocks at the fortress. The Numenorian-built sections of the fortress are holding quite well against the barrage, though the castle residents fear that if the newer made parts were to be hit, the orcs would be much more successful.

Due to the urgency, the group decides to carry out the plan to sneak into the orc’s camp and sabotage the catapult before it’s too late. As Placro is sent elsewhere to perform a distraction, the rest of the group heads into the secret tunnel towards the inn.

Adromyr comes out of the entrance first and sees one orc working on a piece of wood. Using stealth, he was able to move behind the orc and shove a sword right into its chest, killing it instantly. Before he was able to move to a more secure area, he begins to hear murmurs of black speech and two figures coming towards him. Once Adromyr shouts for help, Alfirin casts Mystic Mists to cover the entire area in a deep fog.

The rest of the group jumps out through the hole and split up to charge the catapult from different angles – Addromyr and Alfirin to the left, Penta and his men forward with Niana in tow, Einar to the right, while Addrok stayed back to guard the tunnel. It didn’t take long before orcs showed up and the various groups engaged in combat. Einar held up for awhile on his own, though after sustaining damage, swapped places with Addrok to continue defending from the east flank.

Alfirin sneaked over by the Crones’ tent and started to cut the rope so that it fell on top of them. As she finished cutting it, her body started to spasm due to the spell that they cast on her. As Adromyr caught up to her to help her up, he sees the tent to start to levitate, and underneath were not a bunch of crones at all but rather a troll. Enraged, the troll tosses a tree trunk at Alfirin, managing to hit her. As she fell backwards, she began her retreat – leaving Adromyr as its next target.

Before Niana was able to reach the catapult to use a warping spell on it, she could hear the pained sounds of one of Penta’s men, who had received an arrow in the gut. Due to her kindness, she rushed back to heal him – however, as she performed the spell, she suddenly became attuned with everything in her surroundings. Niana was able to move gracefully towards the catapult and cast warp on it, feeling the integrity deteriorate underneath her fingertips despite its outward appearance. Once that was completed, she shouted for everyone to run.

Despite his best efforts to keep away, Adromyr was knocked back by a heavy blow from the troll, landing with a thump. He tried to move, but had fear struck into him. Niana was able to sense this and as she ran near him, she cast bravery on him so that he was able to move, then asked Penta and his men to carry her back to the tunnel. This was enough for Addromyr to keep his wits as he raced for his life to the entrance.

Placro was out in another area setting up a distraction by releasing some of the poisoned chaff into the water but was accidentally caught by the Dundeling chief. He asked Placro what he was doing out there – his response was that he was collecting mushrooms. The two of them have a short conversation, Placro suggests that the chieftain doesn’t drink the water, and takes his leave. Placro then meets up with everyone by the pig pen, though he was unable to see due to the mists and fell into the surrounding mud. Einar could see him and shouts for Placro to come towards his voice, then drops him into the hole once they found each other.

As people started going down into the tunnel, the mist suddenly dispensed – the crones have used an immense amount of power to get rid of it. It made little difference though – the last person fully made it down the hole and shut it right behind him. While everyone came out the other side safely before the tunnel became flooded, they found one dead orc who accidentally got scalded by the rushing water behind them.

A few hours later, they see a large stone get put on the catapult and just as they start to launch it, the entire structure explodes in splinters to the cheers and relief of the castle citizens and the screams of the Orc engineers.

Niana fell asleep from exhaustion, and then wakes up a while later in front of two extremely scared guards in front of the front gate, with no recollection on how she got there. They tell her that she used a powerful spell on them while she was sleeping, and they are now afraid of her. She hears a voice, Ethicali saying, “I owed you one for what you did to the catapult.”

The Parley happens later that day, with the leader of the Orcs there. He looks bruised and broken, and snarls at Edra, knowing that his faction must have been responsible for what happened earlier. Edra begins threatening his existence with an impressive speech, and the Orc found itself at his feet. The leader of the Bronze Band smirked, saying that he marked one of their guys last night and he looks forward to doing it again. One of the Easterling men was angry enough to draw his spear to attack Edra, though Einar saw it coming and disarmed it. Edra double downs and says that being here is a waste of time, they are going to continue to hold their ground, and then goes back to the castle.

Right before everyone disperses, a disembodied voice speaks in the middle of the group, saying that he likes how everyone’s true power is coming out and he looks forward to having a battle of wits against Edra.

Not long after the meeting the Orcs were back at work creating a battering ram to siege the castle. Niana uses “Shape Earth” to start creating a ditch in front of the castle, while Edra starts working on the roof to start a magic bravery rune to counteract the emotions that the bloodwights create. Alfirin uses her bow to protect Niana and some of the group from getting attacked as they work on the ditch. The captain comes up to Alfirin and suggests to use her bow to injure the wights. Alfirin thinks it may be a good idea to use barb and rope to pull it into the castle and then others will chop it into bits. After some discussion, the group agree to go along with the plan.

As the sun starts to set, several of the party were able to sense that something was amiss in the direction of the woods. Niana tried to send some animals out to investigate but they absolutely refused to do so out of fear – something bad is coming from that direction, they sense.

As Niana tried to camouflage the rest of the group, she started hearing Ethicali in her head, saying that there is no more Mr. Nice Guy and he’s going to crush her that night. She lets the party know that she can hear him as she finishes the camouflage.

Later that night, the wights come just as planned. When they land, Niana was hit with a large psychic force but was able to keep herself still and standing. They land on the roof, and Edra starts singing at them in order to distract them. Alfirin uses “Levitate” to raise herself on the roof and get a clean shot at one of them. The other one manages to see her and lets out a bellowing screech of warning, though it was too late as she fires her bow cleanly into the leg of the other. The injured wight drops the sword it was holding and starts sliding down the roof, Alfirin catches the roof with one hand, catches the sword with her other and she manages to keep her bow by the skin of her teeth.

Addrok channels Tulkas and grabs the rope, pulling the injured one with all of his strength into the tower while Einar protects him by keeping the other wight in check with his spear. Alfirin shoots another arrow right into the heart of the second one, who screeches into the night.

Placro points and shouts at the area where the Orcs are, and sees 20 trolls charging towards them with giant ladders, along with the Easterlings with their battering ram. Alfirin uses some power to mist the top of the tower, which was timely as a large flame comes hurdling over them.

Edra hears the note of a Elven horn in the distance – a welcome sound telling the castle that Glorfindel is near, sword in hand, with reinforcements from Rivendell.

The Dark Mage of Rhudaur, Part 2

Once the group arrives at the inn, aptly named Inari’s Drift for its owner, they were dragged inside by none other than the innkeeper itself. The man, portly with a scowl on his face, chided the group for being out in the cold as he shoves them into the main room. Penta winks at the rest, promising good food despite the décor, and settles into a large chair.

As they are taking food and drink, everyone suddenly hears the distinct sound of arrows hitting the door and window shutters. Inari yells that they are under attack and they need to get out to the castle, while Dhargar shouts to save the horses.

Adrokk leads the charge out of the back door and managed to block a giant crossbow arrow using his shield. Inari was able to spot them, telling the rest that the “Bronze Band” is there for them – dangerous mercenaries that were born of the former rangers of Rhuador. The rest of the group start to make their way over to the barn as Adrokk protected them, though suddenly found themselves being shot at from the other side as well. It wasn’t until Einar and one of Penta’s men carried a table from the burning inn to cover the group where everyone was protected enough to make their way inside the barn.

Without much time, the team started to prep the oxes and horses to charge out of the barn. While Addromyr and Niana stayed on the cart, Einar and Addrok decided to join Penta and his men on foot as they plan to protect any attackers from getting near the rest. At Placro’s request, he and Edra are hoisted onto a horse to make their way separately.

As they move out, arrows started to volley all at their direction as it makes its way toward the castle. Due to the chaos, the oxen start to get spooked and start to head towards the forest, though Niana was able to take some control and force it back towards its goal.

The cattle that was in the barn managed to scatter some of the troops on land, though three of them held steadfast and charged at Penta, Adrokk and Einar – and were dispatched without too much trouble. Arrows continued to volley over the field, causing injury to Niana and Penta as they take one each in the stomach. However, due to luck or some divine intervention, all of the arrows simply went around Edra and Placro as they continued their relaxed jaunt towards the castle.

Adrokk and Einar did not see Penta take his injury until it was too late. Despite the large man’s insistence that he was fine, he failed to shake it off and the two of them try picking him up by arm and start to carry him up the hill. Two more soldiers jump out to attack though, and they had to leave Penta behind for a bit as they handled them. While Einar was distracted after slaying his enemy, he also took an arrow to the leg and instantly lost control over it, falling over. Adrokk relies on the strength of Tolkus to fireman carry Einar as they continue to charge up the hill. Addrymir spots this, then shouts for the Dunelings on horses to go get the wounded on the battlefield, and they were successfully convinced to go pick up Penta and Einar.

Alfirin is able to see the destruction from the top of the tower and tries to convince the guard to make a volley at the Inn below, but was unsuccessful in her efforts. As she watched the destruction below, she was able to see the injuries to her team from the top of the tower, and starts going berserk. Alfirin was able to pinpoint where the shot came from, where she saw a man using a wooden elf bow, which she assumes was stolen from a dead body. Once he got in range, she aimed for the neck and successfully lands one in the face. Despite his intentions, he managed to live, and successfully staggers off into the woods.

The battle stops shortly after as the group was able to make it into the castle doors, with Alfirin agressively shooing arrows at the stragglers as they retreat. Addrymir shouts for a medic and a beautiful woman came out to greet them. She introduces herself as Anfled, offers her help then assists Niana in getting to work. The rest of the group is then introduced to the rest of the castle, meeting Sargent Aldhelm and Lieutenant Oswin. They were told of the captain of the guard, Meryndil, though he does not bother to come out of his room.

As they retire for the night, Niana has an encounter while she sleeps. The stranger, Ethakali, congratulates her while she’s sleeping, saying that they’re glad that she made it out okay though suggests that she is in a bad spot. They suggest that she could be in a better place, and they offer to get her out if she simply asks for it. They also ask about Edra, wondering if he’s really dangerous – his compatriots say that Edra reminds them of Gandalf, who has killed a lot of their kind. Before parting, Ethakali also mentions to pass along a message to the “elf maid” that Hilgrem is going to give her an arrow to the face someday.

The next morning, Alfirin goes on dawn patrol with a group of people from the castle. She learns that there are two war bands of over 50 people each, camped out well beyond arrow range. The arrows that are coming at them currently are from the Bronze Band, and because they continue to be attacked, they are unable to scout very far and need to retreat back into the castle. They believe that her group, if they were fully prepared, could do some damage though the standards that this group was able to make it difficult.

Alfirin relays the information to the rest, and goes to ask Meryndil if he could go and light the tower. He disagrees, saying that this behavior is to be expected – they try to take the castle before the winter and then as it gets colder, they will instead retreat. Once he is alone, Addymir pulls Meryndil aside and hands him the ring, saying that he’s for payment of a debt. He puts the ring on absentmindedly, finishes his food and goes back into his room.

Alfirin then has Niana send out two birds, one to Weathertop to report, and a second one to Elrond letting him know about Hilgrem, who they found out was the name of the person with the elven bow that she shot.

A couple days later they were able to see some activity come from the inn – recon found out that it was Orcs, who are using the remains to build something. That night, Niana encounters Ethakali again in her dreams, where he asks if she has given any thought to his offer. When she says that she’s fine, Ethakali says that it would be a shame if she died prematurely, and that she should give it more thought.

At breakfast the next day, some of the party along with some of the castle guard suddenly get tired and feel less energetic. Edra and Niana notice the slowdown – Edra does a bit of alchemy and found no results, while Niana comes to the conclusion that the wheat has possibly gone bad. Later that night at dinner, several other people including Einar, Oswin and Anfled just pass out completely and are unable to be awaken. Edra does some investigating into the wheat and found out that all of the wheat that they brought in has been affected.

Addymir goes to find Nassar, and finds him at the front door – unusual because it’s nowhere near the dining hall nor his sleeping area. He approaches Nassar under the pretense regarding the ring for Meryndil, and they start walking towards the captains’ quarters. Once Addymir determines a good spot, he instead grabs him and starts interrogating him. Nassar breaks down rather easily, saying that it “wasn’t fair” – the caravan should have been his. Addymir yells at him, saying that he doesn’t care about Nassar’s stupid company, just that Nassar put everyone in danger. Nassar asks Addymir about his own situation – e has a chance about dying as well. Addymir pushes his dagger against Nassar’s throat, saying that he will die an even worse death if he doesn’t spill the beans. Nassar says that during the summer, he was approached by a man named Ethakali, who promised the company to Nassar as long as he followed orders. The ring that Meryndil has also came from Ethakali, with the simple instructions to give it to Meryndil.

Addymir throws Nassar in the castle’s jail and then relays the information to everyone else. Niana goes to work on an antidote, though it failed and caused one person to go into convulsions.

Edra, Alfirin, and Addymir goes to get the ring back from Meryndil, who allows them all to come in. The room is rather beautiful, and drawings of his departed wife covers all the walls. He tells them that he simply wants to be left alone, so he can just remember his wife in peace. As they try to talk and distract him, he goes to grab his axe and moves like a warrior, asking once again to be left alone.

Addymir goes to grapple him to choke him out, but Meryndil was able to move around and capture him instead. As Meryndil was busy, Edra takes his staff and whaps him against his head, while Alfirin punches him. Meryndil puts Addymir in a full Nelson and threatens to dislocate his shoulders if they don’t leave him alone, and then goes through with it once the party disagrees. After he drops Addymir, he looks straight to Edra and says that he’s next.

As he takes Edra’s staff, Alfirin tries to cast a “Fear” spell on him but it bounces right off. Meryndil then swings the staff at Edra’s head, knocking him out. Meryndil then sighs at Alfirin, and said that she should have left him alone. Alfirin then insulted his wife, which causes him to go into rage and start changing her around the castle. She managed to wear him out and he passes out from exhaustion, then tells a little lie about it to the guard as she takes the ring from him.

As the group goes to fall asleep, Niana is able to sense something on top of the tower, something that is radiating sorrow and lust. Adrokk goes to investigate the top of the tower, and as he opens the hatch two winged creatures become startled and take off. Alfirin tries to take a shot at one of them with her bow but misses as the creatures escape to the hills. Once the group goes back downstairs to relay information, the people under the wheat sickness started to stir awake. Einar tells of his dream of being chased by a bat winged creature in a maze, which not only lined up with the dreams that the other ill people had, but matched the description of the creatures that were on the top of the tower as well.

The next morning, Edra and Addymir go to talk to the Lieutenant Oswin. They tell him about Nassar and the rings’ affects on his Captain. He apologizes, saying that he’s rather angry at the moment, and Addyrmir suggests that he can take out his anger on the captor. Oswin suggests he goes to them to visit the Captain again, since the two of them was on rather good terms.

When they go to visit the Captain, he is in his room drawing yet another picture of his wife. Edra says that the picture is very nice, and asks more about her. He says that his wife didn’t want him to be here, that it was beneath him, yet he took it due to service and regrets it. His wife haunts his dreams every night. Addymir tells him the same information that was told to Oswin, and that they have also encountered what was wearing her skin last night. The Captain looks up and asks someone to fetch his axe – it needs sharpening.

The creatures that were spotted were described to the people in the room, and Edra was reminded of Blogard – supreme manipulator of life itself, equivalent to Sauron. In the second age, she was defeated by Elrond’s party. Her minions, bat like creatures called Bloodwights, were believed to be destroyed with her due to their bonds, and have not been seen for thousands of years, though they do match the description of what was seen last night and would definitely fit the build of weird dreams, terrible feelings and haunting that plague them currently.

The Captain then asks if the beacon should be lit. Addymir, thinking of the poisoned wheat, the war groups outside of the castle, the orcs building the catapult and the bloodwights, suggests that it should happen. Not long after the light the beacons, they start receiving responses and are relieved that they may be getting reinforcements soon. Though, it wasn’t long before the castle spots one test stone being hurled towards them – however, falling quite short. The lieutenant then comes running back with a message, saying that Hilgrem and his band want to parley. Edra is sent down with others to speak with them, and is slipped the ring to give as a token.

Hilgrem says that there has been rumors that leadership in the castle has been incapacitated. Edra says that due to his status as nobility, he outranks everyone in the castle and that he is in charge. Hilgrem then says that he wants the castle, and should get it if they want to live. He says that he was promised the castle by the Witch King of Angmar, and he promises the group their survival if they politely leave. He does give another offer though, if the castle army can beat both warbands, they will be convinced to retreat. Hilgrem then asks Edra if he will take the offer, and Edra says that his group needs to sleep on it and will come with an answer tomorrow.

The group then discuss what to do back in the castle, and wondered how to take care of the various bands that surround the castle, as well as what to do with the orcs. The captain who was listening brings in Inari, who tells them of a secret passage that connects the castle to the inn, which is how he was able to get there during the initial attack. It’s possible for them to poison the water of the two warring bands, and use the passage to take care of the orcs, and the group start to ruminate further on how to proceed with that plan.

The Dark Mage of Rhudaur, Part 1

The events at Cameth Brin has left Rhudaur very shaken. The Hill King was abruptly replaced by a Black Numenorian that claims he is next in line, not only for this country but for the throne of the other two as well. Many suspect that he was placed in his position due to his best talent – the ability to suck up to the Witch King and not die.

The court of Rhudaur stepped forward towards Arthedain with an offer. They would like to re-establish the court in their own country,at the very edge, by Rivendell. They want to work on gaining an alliance with Elrond on their own, to the point where they will not need the aid of the Arthedain army, especially at a time when the Witch King is busy with the hillmen to the north of the country. A few ranger groups have been invited to help the Court in their efforts, in which Alfirin’s group is one of them.

The group is outfitted with better crafted weapons. Alfirin, in secret, also receives a package from Rivendell. After taking weeks of slowly opening the package, writing and thinking about it, she fully unwraps it and discovers that it is a wood elf bow imbued with luck. The package also contains a note from the wood elf that had made it, that asks her to not share the secret that it only works sometimes.

They are then assigned to a caravan that is making it’s way to the fortress called Tirthon. The caravan is carrying a thousand pounds of wheat, along with other supplies, to sustain the fortress over the winter months. The caravan needed the extra protection due to it being “Trolls’ Season”, where young trolls are out in greater force. Overall, the trip spans five days – two days at different fortresses, one day completely out in the open, and one day at an allied Duneling village before they finally reach the fortress proper.

Dhagar, the son of the caravan leader, meets the group at the local inn, the Yellow Dawn. He tells the group about the road they are traveling and has absolute confidence that it will work out well. As he continues to drink, he brings the group to the caravan to show them around. On his way out, he almost falls over but his assistant “Old Pad” helps him up. Dhagar then introduces the group to Nasan, who is his father’s book-keeper and was going to inherit the business until Dhagar finally made up with his father.

They were also introduced to Penta, who was drinking back at the inn, and greeted the gang with a huge belch before sitting back down. Penta is quite tall for a Norseman, even more so compared to his Duneling cohorts. He points as Addrok and asks if he is a “Dumbedain”, then says that he, Penta, can’t be ordered around. Despite the insult Addrok says that he looks forward to fighting side by side. Alfirin asks if he has any experience with the Troll Days, and Penta says that’s why they have the Dunelings with them because they have knowledge of the area and can assist with that part of it.

Nasan talked to Addrymir separately, telling him that he believes this may be his last trip. He pulls out a ring and says that he needs to deliver this ring to a man named Marendyl in Tirthon. Since Nasan believes that things may go wrong and he may not survive, he gives Addrymir the ring to deliver it to the man – he believes Addrymir with his skills may be most likely to survive and carry out the favor on his behalf.

Penta suggests a drinking contest as an act of bonding, and Addrok and Einar sign up. The three of them, along with the two Dunelings, take their turns drinking and each of them fall one by one until Addrok is left standing. Since he was still conscious, Addrok was able to take a drinking cure from Niana rather easily before bed and was able to feel no repercussions the next morning, unlike Einar who was finally able to force it down after vomiting several times.

Niana had a dream that she bumped up next to someone while wandering in a forest. He asks who she is, and was surprised when she was being honest. He introduced himself as Edrakani, and he says that he values honesty, then wishes her well and says that they will meet again before departing.

Addrymir pulls Edra aside to see if he may know anything about the ring – he doesn’t believe that Nasan is being honest about the ring and its background. Edra can see that it’s a rather valuable ring that may have belonged to the original house of Rhuadar, and that it may have a bit of magic in it.

The first two days of travel went by rather peacefully as they made their way through both fortresses.
During the second night, Niana encounters the same presence again in her dreams, where he tells her that she is called the Forest Walker. He has heard that she kills orcs, and that makes him happy – where he goes, he kills orcs too. He asks where she is going, and hopes that someday the two of them will meet. May she always walk in peace.

The next day, Niana finds some warg tracks as she is scouting along the path, though nothing happened as they made camp for the night. As the sun starts to go down, heavy wet snow starts to pile onto the camp. Niana, on watch, notices that the weather has a strange feeling to it and announces that it may not be natural. Not long after, they see furry shapes moving towards them from a distance.

A pack of wolves charge at the camp, splitting off to attack different sections of it. The team was able to fend them off rather easily – even Addrok was laughing as he was tackled to the ground, wrestling with them. The only one who had difficulties was Edra, who was inside of his tent when the wolves jumped on top and trampled both him and poor Placro.

Once he was free from the wolves, Edra goes to file a complaint against Panta, since he said he was going to protect him. Panta apologies, saying that he was busy killing four of them, and due to the snowstorm he couldn’t really see. Edra tells them that this magic is is caused by their enemies, possibly the Witch King in the north. Alfirin was able to see some runes in the air to confirm that the snowstorm exists due to magical means.

The next morning, there were 10 inches of snowfall on the ground, though as they slowly moved forward, the snow starts to vanish and the whole caravan became more mobile. Even with the slow start, they were able to make it to the village by nightfall. Niana and Alfirin – the scouts that were ahead of the caravan – made it to the village first to hail the town, and found it unusual that there seemed to be little activity. There were no people on the walls defending the village, and very little smoke coming from the communal buildings.

Then they see hundreds of crows fly off into the sky, and Alfirin becomes worried. Niana also sees an archer wearing clothes and armor that she has never seen before, and the two of them take off to talk to the caravan. Niana describes the man, which Edra believes to be an Easterling.

The group goes to the stables by the village and find a bunch of dead Dunelings with their horses. Addrymir was able to determine that the arrows belong to both the Easterlings and the Dunelings, and they must have been in some sort of fight. The chieftain of the village was found without his arms in front of his quarters. The Dunelings that were traveling with them pale, saying that it means that there is no quarter.

The group take a look inside the longhouse. As Edra looks under the table, a sword comes out at him and barely misses. Edra greets him, and the young man says that he will defeat them all. As Edra and Alfirin talk to him, the young man calms down, apologizes and rests on the ground. They were able to see that he has an infection from a wound, and Niana goes to work patching him up quick. Along with Edra’s surprising knowledge, the two of them were able to cure the young man.

The young man, Bega, was able to tell the story of what happened – a group from the East came to their village and were greeted warmly, saying that they are trying to go through the mountain before winter. It didn’t take long before they turned though and attacked the village, leaving him the only survivor. Panta gives the young man a drink, and says that he always has a place in their caravan.

Bega also mentions that the Easterlings came from the castle up ahead. Niana sends a falcon ahead to Tirthon to see if the castle is unharmed. It didn’t take long for the falcon to come back, saying that it’s fine. Niana later hears a voice in her head, complaining that they had taken the fun out of it. They wonder what the group would have done without knowledge, then they say “off to the next phase”!

After some deliberation, the group charge on ahead to the castle through the night. The chilling wind was howling at them as they move towards the dawn. Addrok’s feet suffer so badly from the frostbite that he falls over, with Addrymir suffering as well. Niana forces the both of them on the wagon and tends to their feet to slow the frostbite.

Outside of the castle wall, the group stumbles onto an inn without a sign. They knock on the door and the man slides a hole open, checking it out. He was surprised that they are almost a day early, and they let him know what happened to the village. The man allows them into the inn, and they start to tend to Addrok’s injured feet more seriously. With concentration, Edra and Niana were able to save everything.

Alfirin goes to the fortress in the middle of the castle, announcing to the guard outside that the supplies are delivered. She also lets them know about the village west of there, which takes the guards back by surprise. A lieutenant comes down to meet her, introduces himself as Oswin. He tells her that the Easterlings never came through here, which contradicts Bega’s story. Oswin says that it’s troubling that there’s Easterlings in the area, and wonders if they may have to light the tower. Alfirin says they shouldn’t go that far, but the captain at least should know.

The captain says that nothing should be done at the moment except sending scouts out to survey the area. As they discuss their options, they look down at the surrounding land below and were able to see the trouble brewing at the inn….

Cameth Brin- Rescuing the Princess

After receiving the mission regarding the rescue of Argeleb’s daughter in their previous mission, the group sets off towards Rhaglaw yet again. The trip there was quite uneventful, and the town was surprised to see the adventurers again after being there so recently. Alfirin asked about Gandalf, who apparently were already there just a couple days ago and went ahead. The town was able to give more information regarding the lay of the land, and the best entry point across the river.

The group travels to that point and make a permanent camp before trying to cross by themselves, planning to keep the horses at the camp for safety. Niana can sense rain, which will cause the river to course faster, so the group decides to try and cross the river that night before it completely destroys the remaining ice from the winter. Alfirin uses levitation to cross over to the other side, then uses it to get the others over slowly.

Shortly after everyone crosses and set up a camp for the evening, it begins to rain heavily. Despite the rains, they were able to see a group of riders dressed in black cross by on the road on horses. Expecting trouble, they hid from sight, and then took a deer trail the next morning in order to stay hidden.

They reach the top of a hill, and can see a village and a fortification to the distance. While the village is populated as far as they can tell, the farms surrounding the area are wildly abandoned as far as they could tell. The group makes their way down to the farms to investigate further. Inside of the farmhouse, they discover several skeletons on the ground, possibly dead from the Plague that ravaged the land. Inside of the barn, it’s discovered that it was rat infested and unable to make a shelter out of it. Many of the other farms were the same, or completely abandoned.

Edra and Addrymir go into the village in order to scout it out while the rest of the group wait in the driest abandoned farmhouse. The village appears to be originally of Dunedain make, though a lot of the newer houses are made of sod, with a tall tower in the middle of the town. A guard comes out and challenges the two of them, asking what they want, since they don’t get many villagers. Edra tells them that they lost their village to the Angmar army and are passing by, needing shelter for the night due to the rain. The guard gives them a pass and lets them into the village, pointing them to the “Red Hooves Inn”, the only tavern in town.

Once they step into the inn, they are hit with a wave of humidity. The building is super crowded with several ill people and many animals. A man comes up to them and gives them a tasty stew and mead, then asks where their coin is. Edra hands them coin, and the bartender realizes that the coin is of Arthedain make. The inn became suddenly silent and the sounds of weapons start to rustle. Edra quickly says that the money was easy to take from Arthedain and the inn calmed down. The bartender allowed him to trade it for the local currency, which he happily accepts.

After some observation, they are able to make out that there are two major groups in the inn – the hillmen and the dundelings. Addymir sees a group of people hunkered down, whispering to each other and pointing at them. Addymir started to believe that these men believed Edra to be an easy target for pickpocketing, and his suspicions were confirmed later in the evening. As one of the men try to make a pass at Edra’s coin purse, Addymir successfully threatened him to the point where they received more respect from the tavern through the rest of the evening.

They find out from various conversations throughout the night that Cameth Brin is half empty right now and is occupied by hillmen. There is a representative of Angmar there, with orc bodyguards. The plague killed off the previous residents of the fortress, though shortly after the hillmen settled down, a lot of them caught the plague too. It managed to wipe out a lot of the farmers, though they were lucky enough to salvage enough food to barely survive the winter. Cameth Brin tends to be invitation only, where guards have to lead people through the castle due to the number of traps. They also overheard a tale of a back entrance into Cameth Brin, and while they suspect that it may be underneath the tower that is by town, it’s near impossible to confirm due to the ghosts, according to the locals.

Once they regroup, the team decide to split into two parties – Addymir and Alfirin decide that they will try to see if the back door is underneath the tower, while the rest go in through the front door as a diplomatic party.

Addymir and Alfrin leave first and made it up the cliff to the tower rather effortlessly. Once they scale the tower and find their way inside from a window high up, Alfirin finds a foundational plaque inside, with a sentence saying that the “Numenorians will rule this land forever”. They open a door in the tower, and Alfirin comes into an encounter with several ghosts, circling her and saying in Numenorian, “Leave us alone!”. She responds that she means them no harm, and the ghost says that the “White Council will meet”. More ghosts come out of the walls and ask why she’s here. She says that she is looking for secrets lost, specifically the entrance into Cameth Brin. They tell her that the entrance through this tower has been blocked off by the hillmen many moons ago. She tells them that the hillmen have taken over their lands, and they are very upset. They wish they could do something about it, but they are bound by a spell and are trapped in this world until the Witch King frees them. Telling the ghosts that they will think about it, the two adventurers were able to take their leave from the tower.

The second group walk to the entrance of Cameth Brin itself and tell the guards that they wish to meet with the King, on behalf of Arthedain. It didn’t take long for them to be summoned, and the group was blindfolded, led through the trap room, and brought down the stairs. King Bragga is there with his wife, wearing a turtle crown. He looks at Edra and said that he is surprised that they were able to come so quickly since he had only sent his letter a few days ago. Edra said that Arthedain had the foresight for this situation, then gives the king a large coin purse, saying it is a gift from Arthedain. As Edra is speaking, he sees that the ambassador of Angmar is there with his orc bodyguards, trying to intimidate them.

As a demonstration of strength, it is suggested that Arthedain and Angmar should have their bodyguards fight – first one to draw blood loses. Einar volunteers and does battle with one of the orcs, though has trouble with the spear that he was given and ends up losing. The orc calls him a weak human and puts him to shame, and Bragga calls the demonstration rather boring overall.

Edra calls for best two out of three, in which the Angmar diplomat laughs at him and asks about his third. Addymir serendipiously shows up after their adventure this morning at the tower, and Edra immediately introduces him. The ambassador takes one look at his smaller build and laughs, saying that his orc can snap him in half. Edra said that he will surprise you, and that’s why he is going second. Once the two face off, Addymir immediately takes out his dagger and throws it at the orc’s leg, drawing blood and ending the fight right away.

The ambassador said that was cheating since it was supposed to be a melee battle. The king found it impressive due to quick wit, though says that the next fight will be melee only. Edra introduces Addrok, who calls out to Toklus as he draws his axe, and then was easily able to bury the weapon in the orcs’ chest.

King Bragga is very impressed, and said that Arthedain has regained their honor and standing. He says that in exchange for the princess, they want food for their land. Edra said that they will write a letter, and that they want to see the condition of the princess. The guards bring her out, and she is rather feisty, trying to fight her way out of their grasp. After being prompted, she looks at the group from Arthedain and says that she doesn’t recognize Edra or any of the others, until her eyes lay on Niana. She manages to break out right there and starts running towards her. The guards catch up and start to restrain her again, eventually pacifying her by giving her a good knock on the head.

Edra steps in and says that the deal is conditional on the health of the princess. Bragga said that they have tried but she is very aggressive. He does let Niana towards her since they seem to know each other, and the two of them talk in Dunedain. She asks Niana if this is a rescue attempt, which Niana nodded. The princess smiles slightly and says that she will not try to break out until they go through with it. She also gives Niana a ring to give to her father to let him know that she is okay. Upon closer examination, Niana notices that the ring has a snake eating its tail on it.

In order to keep their end of the bargain, Edra writes letters to all of the petty lords to see if they will contribute on the behalf of the king. Niana also sends a letter via bird to Alfirin to keep her updated on what’s going on. The group then comes up with the plan that they are going to honor the deal, though before the food comes they will find the underground passage to whisk her away and blame it on Angmar.

The next morning, Niana wakes up and finds a note crumpled at the floor saying that “The princess of Arthedain will die tonight unless you do something”. The whole group was summoned to review the letter, and Edra was surprised that it was written in Gondorian.

Edra goes to ask the captain of the guard, Valadan, who refuses to really tell much about himself. They notice his sword was Gondorian, and Addymir who was with him point out that he’s wearing the Gondorian equipment rather well, as if he was trained to wear it properly. Valadan has said that he took it from his dead father. They chat a bit about the secret entrances around the castle, though Valadan admits that he doesn’t know any more than Addymir. However, he does tell him about the passage from the Princess’ room down to the hot springs underneath the castle. After Addymir’s left, and as Edra was following, Valadan grabs his shoulder and whispers to Edra that they should beware the King’s wife.

To get on his good graces, Edra does tarot reading for Bragga and predicts that there some danger to him in his future. The king seemed rather guarded, and Edra tells the King that they need to meet again later that evening in order to continue reading his future, and also encouraged him to bring his wife as a way to distract her while the rest of the group works on rescuing the princess.

Niana goes out to meet with Alfirin to dig into the closed off tunnel underneath the tower as a possible passageway out of the castle. Ghosts comes to Niana and speak with her after bowing since the recongize the right that she was wearing, asking if they’re able to assist her in any way. She tells them that they need assistance with getting the princess out of Cameth Brin– once they dig the tunnel clear, and with permission, the ghosts would be able to wreak havoc over the agents of Angmar. The ghosts like this idea, and once they make an agreement, their binding starts to break which sends an instant message and location to the Witch King of Angmar. The power that was used prompts him to immediately move towards the citadel. Niana was able to sense this as well, and then starts to dig as much as she can using the power of the ring in her posession, along with assistance from Alfirin. It doesn’t take them long before they managed to make it into the Queen’s bedroom. They were surprised to stumble onto her, though she was deep asleep and did not startle when they stumbled into the room. They find it suspicious that she’s asleep at 11 am, and begin to worry if she is another entity entirely.

The two of them make their way out of the tower, and then notice that there is some slight steam coming out of some nearby rocks. Sensing that these may be linked to the fabled hot springs underneath the castle, they enter the nearby cave to investigate. As they are exploring the caves, which are short and they had to crouch, they eventually enter a room with tall ceilings. They see a craggy face in the wall and notice quickly that it is a troll that is resting. Niana casts Dull Hearing on him, which does snap him awake and he spots them, starting to charge. As Niana starts to take off, Alfirin takes the time to cast Grace on herself before running. The two manage to get out as the troll crawls on the ground looking for them.

Niana was able to recognize her way around and leads them into a huge room that is lit by water. The ceiling is rather high, and the room is rather warm. In the middle of the lake, there is an island with a huge snapping turtle in the middle, lounging around. The water, they noticed, has a magical component linked to it, which may be how the snapping turtle grew to such an enormous size. The two of them search for where the elevator is, and they eventually find a door. Niana works on getting the door open, and hears black speech as the door slowly opens. Alfirin is able to understand the speech and recognize it as Angmar’s people, who say that they only have another couple hours until they meet up with the “crazy bitch”.

The two of them then hear the turtle awakening, though they manage to hide themselves as the turtle moves to eat its dinner. The two of them take their chances by opening the door and moving inside into the dungeon. They find the dumbwaiter, and they pull it down to their level. They do not hear the orcs anymore and believe that they had already left, so they start climbing up the rope.

In the common room above, Einar, Addrymir and Addrok are waiting until the changing of the guard at 8 pm, which is when the room will be the least populated and gives them the greatest chance of rescuing the princess from her room. As the guard starts to gather and make their way through the castle, they notice that the diplomat from Angmar, his bodyguards and the queen are fully armed and heading towards the common room as well. The three men bolt directly into the common room and slam the door behind them. Addrok uses his body to keep it shut as Einar starts bringing a table from the middle of the room to assist. The two shieldmadiens that were guarding the room to the princess start heading over to the door, wanting it opened back up so that they can talk to the queen. Addymir convinces them that the orcs are after the princess, so that their duty is to protect the princess first.

Alfirin manages to emerge from the dumbwaiter, which surprised the two shieldmadiens, and they start running to capture her. As Addymir tells the maidens that Alfirin is part of the group and shouldn’t be harmed, the door disintegrates, exposing the queen and her posse behind it. Without thinking, the shieldmaidens shout “Magic” and start jumping towards the orcs in battle. Luckily, Alfirin was able to grab the key to the princess’ room before they dove fully into the fray.

Alfirin then runs up to the door and unlocks it, dodging a blow from a frying pan as she swings it open. The princess suddenly finds herself embarrassed, and takes a look around the room to assess the situation. Addymir loudly whispers to her that her life is in danger and that she needs to escape via the dumbwaiter. Niana shouts for her and motions her to join. As the princess gets on the dumbwaiter, she tells Niana that she has the most interesting idea for escape, and they start to make their way down. Before turning to the rest of the group, Alfrin relocks the door, bends the key slightly and drops it on the ground.

Addrok and Einar use the table as a makeshift door to buy the rest more time to get the princess out, but it doesn’t last long before the table completely disintegrates and they are left face to face with the orcs. As the group readies their weapons, Addymir shouts into the sleeping quarters that there is an attack in the castle, which prompts several soldiers to quickly grab their weapons and rush towards the door.

Using Addrok as a shield, Einar and the soldiers are able to attack from behind and cause damage to the orcs in front of them. As Einar manages to fell one of them, the queen comes up from behind and launches a shot of lighting directly at his chest, and he falls to the ground. Addrok shouts at them that he’ll continue to hold them off, but everyone else should try to escape as fast as they can. Alfirin and Addymir are able to tell that the dumbwaiter is available and start making their way down themselves. Shortly after, Einar had enough strength to grab onto the rope and ride it down with them.

The queen then launches a huge fireball to knock Addrok and the guards back, killing several and wounding Addrok in the process, which he thanks Toklus for leaving him standing. The ambassador steps up afterwards, saying that he was looking forward to facing Addrok one on one in battle. Addrok doesn’t think anything of him, yet readies himself for battle anyway. With every attack and block, Addrok moves closer to the dumbwaiter and once he is close enough, he makes a run for it. The ambassador runs after him and tries to swing at him with his axe, but he was surprised to discover that Addrok tossed himself completely into the hole.

Exhausted, the queen makes her way over to the princess’ room and tries using the bent key to get the door open. The group could hear the nastiest shriek as she discovers that the key is completely broken. Einar had little time to process it before Addrok hits him in free fall. Alfrin notices what is going on and manages to grab Addymir, moving themselves out of the way as the dumbwaiter hits the ground. Einar lands in a heap, and Addrok lands on top of him, leaving the two large men gasping in pain.

Niana heals them just enough so that they can move and make their quick escape. Due to exploring the caves before, Niana and Alfirin were able to lead the others through with little event, past the turtle and the troll, out into the open. It takes the group awhile to get back to the river, which is now flooding and rushing with water, which forces them to go to the nearest settlement to cross. Addymir tells the guard of the events at the citadel, along with the upcoming visit from the Witch King, which causes the small settlement to pale. Some decide to rally, asking if the group is with or against them. Addrok pipes up that they need to protect their women due to them being of childbearing age. As some of the group side-eye him, the guards are convinced enough to let them through.

They make their way back to Weathertop without much incident. Many of the group were rather glad, since it meant that they were able to get rid of the princess, who happened to be quite negative in certain aspects. She rode up separately, saying that she merely escaped with the help of the people that were there.

The princess meets with Niana once more, telling her that she was jealous that Niana was able to join the rangers – only males in the immediate family have that option, and it’s something she would rather do than the more domestic duties that are expected of her. Niana returns the ring to her. The princess smiles, and says that she is invited to Fornost at any time, and she will make sure that Niana is given more significant pull in the family.

The rest of the group is surprised by Gandalf, Elrond and his two sons, who seem to have yet another mission for them in wait….

Phantoms in the Northern Marches, Pt 2

Once the fires die down from the previous battle, Edra tries to apologize to Alfrond that he suspected him in the whole ordeal. Alfrond picked him up by his collar originally in anger, but Alfirin steps in and says that Rangers in their training are taught to be naturally suspicious. Edra adds that while he was initially suspicious, he asks for Alfrond’s help since they are clearly fighting against real evil. Alfrond then puts him down, kneels in front of him and offers his broadsword in fealty. The hunters are impressed except for Lheg, who snarls and says that he is better with his bow than that sword.

The group discusses what to do next and settled on setting the trap again during the day. Lheg volunteers all of his men, and promises that they are the best and would be able to find the wolves extremely easily. Due to the numbers, they believe that it’s possible to actually do both – hunt the wolves down and steer them into a set trap into the ravine. They finally decide that Edra and Einar are to go set the trap in the morning, and Addimyr, Adrokk, Niana and Alfirin keep watch outside until daytime, where they will go and track down the wolves. The evening was peaceful and the village crew were relieved to find the watch safe in the morning.

Whitburt comes out with a rusty shield and axe, saying that he wants to redeem Gerst’s name – he heard that some of the hunters blame Gerst for the previous night and Whitburt knows that he would never perform these acts. Edra and Einar decide that Whitburt would be better and safer off with them setting up the trap. As they made their way to the ravine, a huge pile of snow fell from the crevice on top of them. Edra was able to dodge it completely, Einar took a bit of damage, while the other two hunters took a lot more. Once they freed the hunters and tended to their injuries, the group started to build the trap.

As for the rest of the group, they go over to the edge of the forest and the hunting dogs start to freak out. Niana cast a spell on the dogs in order to soothe them, and while they were able to start going forward, the dogs still were a bit nervous as they continued into the forest. Once they got deeper into the forest, the hunters were able to tell by the tracks that there were nine of them, they were smart enough to stop the bleeding of that one wolf, and that they were zig zagging through the forest finding prey as normal through the night.

As the hunters are making their way through the forest, Addimyr sees something golden up ahead and freezes. The others were able to see him freeze, and as they focus their vision, they were able to see that the golden thing is part of a building. Lheg was able to recognize that building as Tadashala, a building created by the Numenorian sorceress that lived in the area during the second age. The building, he says, is the reason why they had been protected throughout the ages – the sleeping king lies underneath there, and the legends say that the sleeping king will rise when the village encounters danger. While the building is extremely beautiful and ornate, there was no way to get inside of the building – there were no handles on the large, ornate doors, and due to the height it is impossible to reach the hinges. The group took their notes to come back later, and continue marching on the hunt.

After a short amount of time, they are able to spot house up an extremely large tree. Addimyr was able to tell that while the house is not of elven make, he’s unsure of it beyond that. The villagers had never seen it before, and are a little concerned about it. Once they get closer, they can start to see that the house of rather rude construction, with both human tracks and wild cats in the perimeter. Alfirin called up a greeting in both Western and High Elf, though nobody answered. Since the house was out of the way and not really of their concern at the moment, they took note of it and continued on the trail.

Once they get even further into the woods, the dogs start to freak out. Niana accidentally steps on the foot of one as it flailed around, which caused the dog to yelp loudly. Suddenly a howl is let out from 100 yards away, and it met with replies of other howls. One of the hunters turn to the other, saying that it was the loudest wolf they have ever heard, while the other said that they don’t think that it was a wolf. Niana freezes in place and starts praying. Addrok notices her panic, picks her up in a fireman’s carry and starts moving. As they start running, they are able to see a wolf hurdling in their direction. The bowsmen start drawing arrows to fire when ready, while the hunters with the boar spears starts going to the front. Niana snaps out of it, and shimmied down, grabbing her slingshot to defend herself.

The group finds themselves surrounded by the wolves. While Niana was able to scare one wolf off with a spell, the rest of them were able to dodge and charge forward. The team gets into ferocious battle with the wolves, taking and dealing blows ferociously with them. They were able to whittle the group down slowly, Addrok gains favor with Tolkus as he fights, breaking the leg of one and snapping the neck of the other. The amount of carnage that happened caused the other wolves to become disinterested in the fight and stay away.

As they were fighting off the wolves, a wolf man starts walking towards the group and towards Addrok. Addrok misses his swing towards the wolf man, and the man in return grapples him to the ground and claws at him, causing damage. The group tries to attack him with everything they have, but anything that landed caused very little damage to the wolf man. Once Addrok fell unconscious after wrestling with him, the wolf man turns his attention to Addimyr and grapples him. Addrok fainting caused the other two hunters to run away out of fear, though Niana was able to heal him in short order to bring him back to consciousness. The fight went on for some time, and the wolf man was too strong – draining them of all health and they fell unconscious.

The wolf man tells them as they come back to consciousness that they are much stronger than the little girl that he has been working with. He tells them that he left them alive just so they can tell the town to run away as far as they can, for his enjoyment. As they get up and start hobbling back, he says to make absolute sure to tell the town to run, especially that fat priest.

As they get back to town, Edra and Einar greeted them with relief since they had not run into them all day, then listened to what happened in the forest. Edra knew about the wolf man, and was able to relay the tale – Warg is a creature like Bjorn, so he is a shape shifter, though rather evil and would be out of their league if they were to go against it. The townspeople, especially Whitburt, do not want to leave their homes and the lives that they known. Edra was able to convince the townspeople to stay calm completely, and was so successful that the Thain believe that they’re in the middle of a legend being made.

The people that faced the wolf remembered that he mentioned a woman that was working with them, and brought in the healer woman to see what information she had. She mentions a girl named Hanyae, that lived in the village a few years ago, her parents died of plague. She was obsessed with the sword of Gerst, and the more that she became curious about it, the less comfortable Whitburt became discussing it with her, due to her interest in using it for violence. She left the village a few years ago on her own whim, and nobody had heard from her since.

As Adrokk is meditating, a voice comes from the tomb of Gerst, with the voice saying that he disturbed his sleep. Adrokk asks if he knows of Warg. Gerst says no, and Adrokk tells the voice what had happened to him. Gerst asked Adrokk if he yielded in battle. When Adrokk says no, Gerst asked when Warg is to arrive. When Adrokk said when, Gerst tells him to lure Warg to the tomb. Adrokk believes that it is doable, and Gerst bids him farewell, with Adrokk snapping out of his trance with a start.

Adrokk tells the group what had happened to the astonishment of everyone, especially Whitburt who became really excited about the event, since nobody had spoken to Gerst in over 200 years. The priest grabs Adrokk’s hand and asks him if he will become the next priest of Gerst, and while Adrokk refuses, Lheg steps up and says that he’ll volunteer to be the next priest. Whitburt initially refuses, but with encouragement from Alfirin, she was able to convince Whitburt to allow it to the surprise of everyone, including Lheg.

Einar and Edra go to check out Tadashala. Edra was able to tell that the building was a hybrid Norseman and Numenorian build, and that there would be a secret tunnel built somewhere. After finding a cave where it would potentially be, they find that the tunnel is caved in and that the tunnel is impassable. The two of them then go ahead to the treehouse.

Edra decides to go first, and as he climbs up the ladder, a sharp sensation pierces his hand. Before he knew it, he became wobbly from the poison that was on the barb and started to fall. Einar was able to grab him on his way down but unfortunately could not keep a hold of him as the two of them fell several stories to the ground. While Edra suffered injuries to his chest, Einar found one of his feet completely broken. Unlike Einar, Edra’s injury didn’t stop him from climbing back up into the treehouse again. Once inside, he finds a journal which he immediately pockets, then spots some runes on a shoddily made table. Upon examination, he can see that they have a potent bomb spell on them. Edra quickly pockets them as well and then climbs back down to meet Einar. Once they are able to fix his foot enough to walk again, the two of them disperse the runes in random places around the forest where it would be hard to gather.

The group gathers back to Gerstberg in the evening to finalize preparations. Not long later, Warg arrives on top of the hill, and tells the people to run as far as they possibly can. As Warg taunts, the tomb busts open and a Wight in armor walks out, dragging the sword of Gerst behind him. Gerst looks at Adrokk and talks to him telepathically, asking Adrokk to bring Warg close to him. Adrokk thinks that he would definitely be able to do that, and after getting Haste casted on him, he starts charging up the hill super fast towards Warg. Gerst then turns to Alfirin and greets her as an ancient one before going into the trees.

Adrokk encounters Warg and then leads him on with childish insults until he was able to bring him closer to Gerst. With a swing, Gerst was able to fell Warg on the ground and began beating on him with the sword. Gerst was surprised to see that he was healing, though the sword was doing massive damage to him. After a few more hits, Warg asks to try and make a deal with him – he promised to leave the village alone forever if the damage stops. Gerst adds that he must also fight evil for a month, which Warg accepts.

Gerst comes back to the village to a cheering populace, and starts going back into his tomb. Before he goes in, he turns to the priest and said, “thank you for keeping the faith”, then has the door slid on him. Whitburt faints in pure joy.

Edra reads the journal. Hanyae wanted to blow up Gerst’s tomb, went into Rhuador and ran into Warg. She promised him the sword of Gerst in exchange for help in destroying the tomb, especially against the priest who kept knowledge from her. She learned the bombs spell from a shaman in the hills and had most of the supplies to do it before the group shows up. Hanyae knew they were trouble and wanted to get rid of them, though felt that it may wake up the wight. Unlike Warg, Hanyae began to have nightmares, and her last entry mentioned that she is escaping to the hills.

Edra had dream sequence in regards to Tadashala – he was able to see that the magical items that were supposed to be in the tomb were all gone, with a note that said “I, Timone, dared”. He looked up Timone in a book, found out that he is famous explorer who went insane, same with people that came into items that he had until it fell into the hands of the elves. Edra writes a letter to the elves warning them about the items and that the items should be returned to their rightful resting places.

When they arrive back in Weathertop, they are surprised to find that the Sons of Elrond are waiting there for them along with the Arthedain Army. King Argeleb II’s daughter had been taken and announced that the Rhuador nation must pay – planning to send the army to march on the capital. When Alfirin goes to hide from the sons of Elrond, she runs into Gandalf who asked how the recruits are doing. She says that they are well, and that Gandalf did hear that they did a great job. He comments that while the King is normally wise, his brashness is unfortunate in this situation. Gandalf said that he would help find the daughter, though he fibbed a little bit – she’s not actually in the capital. He believes that a small team of Rangers could move faster than the army and find the daughter before any real damage can be done. He is going with the Sons of Elrond to set up base in Rhaglaw.

Since Alfirin’s group had just been in the area, they would be good candidates for this mission. Gandalf requests this from an old friend, and would really appreciate it if they were willing to volunteer. He did request six extra horses, and they would be able to make haste if they wanted. Alfirin, after some persuasion, was able to bribe the Rangers in charge that they had not checked in yet, then went to regroup with the team in order to discuss what to do next.

Phantoms in the Northern Marches, Pt 1

A group of scouts meat at Weathertop in mid-March of 1642. The commander of this newly trained team congratulates them for graduating Ranger class. He then introduces the group to an elf woman, named Alfirin, who has a spectacular reputation among the Dunedain and has been assisting them for over 800 years. The commander tells the group that they would do best to listen to her, as she has been through a lot and has great wisdom to pass. Alfirin, after all, will be the one taking the group on their first real mission.

Speaking of mission, he says, he also mentions that there will be two more people joining them on their journey. With a slight bit of pain in his voice, he calls them out to introduce themselves. An older gentleman steps out to meet the group, along with a hobbit valet. The servant, Placro, introduces his master as Edranel, an influential baron who believes that he has a lot to contribute to the rangers. Placro then begins to speak to each person individually, learning of their particular tastes so that he can begin making preparations for the journey ahead.

The commander then begins to brief the group on their mission – one that he believes is challenging, but probably not deadly. After all, if anyone wanted to be a dead hero, they were welcome to join the military – the Rangers want live scouts. The group is charged to go to a small town called Rhaglaw, one that is technically in Rhudaur, but voted a long time ago to be part of Arthedain and has been paying their dues to the country since. They had never asked for assistance until now, where they believe they are having issues with ghosts – though the Rangers believe that it’s not actually the case, and that there must be something else going on. Due to some research on Edranel’s part, it was discovered that Rhaglaw was once the site of a trading empire during the Second Age, though it eventually dissipated.

The trip to Rhaglaw took about a week long and was mostly quiet, apart from the howling of wolves on their way. Once they arrived, they noticed a strange thing about the town – there were no fully completed walls, only some that were started but never finished. One of the scouts, Addrimyr, was able to tell that the walls, due to the style, were first started over 1000 years ago but had never been completed since then and wondered if it was because they felt that there was no need to.

Some of the village guards came out with spears in hand and demanded to know who these travelers are. Once they saw Alfirin, they lowered their guard a little – very few people in the village had ever seen an elf in the flesh, which surprised them. After learning that the group were the rangers that the thain had called for, they took the group to meet with him.

The thain, dressed in white furs, introduces himself as Lavoric, and then tells the guard to summon the local priest Whitburt to the inn, so that they can discuss the haunting problem. Once they all arrive at the inn, they meet with a local ranger named Alford, who had been a part of the town since fall, and then sits himself down with the rest of them without even being asked. Lavoric’s son, Lehg, also sits down with them as well, to everyone’s annoyance. He tries to take his place to Alfirin’s side, cozing up to her, with his dad on the other side of her. Alfirin sharply tells Lheg that she needs her “advisor” next to her. Lheg stubbornly refuses to move and had to basically be evicted by Adrokk and Einar to give Edranel a seat.

After the matter is settled, Lavoric starts telling the group of some of the weird events that had happened in their small town – in the fall, they began to have issues with their sheep disappearing into the woods. Hunters have been found dead with no marks on them, and in positions that suggest that they had been running away from something. Other folks had been going missing – the most recent being two shepherds that went to go looking for their missing flock a month ago and had never returned. As for those in town, they had noticed things moving without anybody touching them, and lights have been spotted floating around the hills with no bodies attached. Strange graffiti has appeared on several buildings, written at night while people were sleeping.

The locals strongly believe that their ancestors protect them, especially the “sleeping king”, and had believed that this is the reason why they never really dealt with trouble for a long time – until now. Whitburt the priest finally arrives and introduces himself as a priest of Gerst, one of the heroes that fought evil for the town and protects them even to this day. The priest also tells the group that there was one more event that very few people had heard of – a rotting, skinned sheep’s head was left on his doorstep as of this morning. Since the group had gotten in very late, they agree to go in the morning to look it over.

The group begin to chat with the ranger Alfrond, who had settled in the area in the fall, and does enjoy his time there. As Alfrond talks about his background, he mentions all the different languages that he knows. Edranel then decides to lean over and whispers “fear” in black speech, which elicits a reaction from Alfrind and Alfrond. Edranel gets a slap in the a face, one on each cheek from the both of them, for using such foul language, the rest of the group left a bit confused.

The group then decide to go their separate ways for the evening. Whitburt and Adrokk have a discussion about Gerst, who Adrokk found very impressive. Adronk then starts talking about Tolkus, the god that he worships, and Whitburt also gotten very into it. The two discussed over several pints of mead, with Whitburt telling more and more outrageous stories about Whitburt. Einar was coerced into helping the hobbit Placro intimidate his way into the kitchen to make Alfirin a vegetarian dinner. Niana got uncomfortable with the amount of people in the inn, so she ended up wandering into the local hall and poked around for awhile. Alfirin starts to play on the mandolin in front of the whole inn and blows Alfrond, who was also playing, out of the water.

Alfirin wakes up very early and notices something strung across the front door. When she lights a candle and looks closer, she realizes that it’s sheeps’ intestines. Once she gets over the initial shock, she notices graffiti in black speech that “this town in doomed” and noticed that the graffiti was written on other important buildings as well. The group starts to have suspicions about Alfrond, since he is the only one that they know who knows the black speech. The group then decide to split into two – one group goes to Gerstbroc to visit with the priest while the other group go hunting for the lost shepards.

Whitburt greets the group that is visiting them and then bring them to go look at the sword of Gerst, which is “frozen in a heart of a drake”. He takes them to an old, yet solid, building. The minute that they walk in, the building radiates cold. They see a massive two handed sword with all sorts of runes on it, stabbed in a rock of ice with a heart in the center of it. Addrimyr was able to tell that it was very impressive, forged in the second era, and could have actually been used to slay a dragon. Edranel tries to go and read the runes, though there is so much magic radiating from that area, where he is not sure where it is coming from – either the heart or the blade itself. Wanting badly to explore the tomb beneath where Gerst is buried, the group fights their urges and instead leaves the building.

The group then goes to talk to Odelar, who is the local healer. She says that she came here originally during the Great Plague since the area needed a healer. When asked about the strange happenings about town, and she thinks that the evil must be coming from the outside, since she is familiar with everybody in the area and would never suspect that anyone would do such a thing. She is concerned about the local hunting accidents that have been happening around town – people have been hitting traps that they have no knowledge setting, and believes that there is trouble in the woods. With that knowledge, the group departs to head back.

The hunting group went into the hills and find a couple of deer that have had their throats ripped out by a warg. Lheg doesn’t see the big deal, but Alfrond does, and tells him of the danger. They send Lheg back to the village to gather more people, with Niana following him. The rest of the group went further in, and heard the howls of wolves, which was weird in the middle of the afternoon. The group decided to fall back to a nearby farm until the rest of the group can catch up. Niana managed to catch up with the group that went to the priest and brought them back to the farm where everyone else was staying.

The group decided to use some bait to lure the wolves out in order to strategically attack them. They bought the pig from the farmer, slaughtered it, and as they are going to go out and execute their plan, the roof of the barn starts on fire. As one of the hunters try to escape, he catches an arrow to the side and calls out “ambush” before falling over. The group decide to release the animals and then intermingle with them as they leave the barn. Niana goes to run for the man who was shot by the arrow, and encountered a wolf, who jumped on top of her and gave her a slight wound. Another wolf shot at Adrokk, who blocked the attack with his shield and took a shot at it with his weapon. Addrimyr also dodged the wolf that lunged after him, but was not able to inflict any wounds on it.

As the group escape the barn, they see a large and imposing figure shooting flaming arrows from the bow, stunning several of the group. Several of the hunters shouted that it was Gerst and started to run away from the situation. The shadow man calls out for the wolves, and they run back towards him, going through him as they run back into the hills. Addrimyr was able to rally various hunters from running away, which breaks Adrokk from being stunned, though Alfrin and Einar still continue to be shocked about the situation. As Niana goes and healed the damaged, another arrow is shot towards Alfrin and Einar. Alfrond was able to block the arrow from the two of them and fell to the ground, injured.

As the group manages to try and contain the chaos, the shadow man goes back into the woods. When the fires died down, they found an arrow in the roof of the barn. Addrimyr was able to determine that it is man-made, modern, and probably local. The group believes that they may be dealing with a real wight, and that it may be getting help from a local man. Adrokk mentions that he did inflict the wound on one of the wolves, and it must be dripping blood on its way back to its home. They then begin to discuss their next steps on whether to strike when the iron is hot, and if it would be beneficial to follow the trail…


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