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.