Journal Posts

Into the Depths
Having been knocked unconscious during our struggle to secure the inn, I cannot recount quite what happened until I awoke some time later in chains.

From Drogo’s account, he, the Hound, and Durim, along with the townsfolk in the inn and Rodwin, did their best to stave off the battering of the dead-faced soldiers, but eventually they broke in from the front, rear, and balcony. The soldiers surrounded us, forcing the furious Durim to surrender his axe. They chained us and most of the townspeople together at the wrists and necks.

In the oblivion of unconsciousness I believed I awoke in the late evening. The ruins of Haycomb surrounded me, and Irimë stood before me, contending with the inky shadow that had washed over us before. Her face was the picture of grim determination, but the shadow pulsed and writhed about her as she struggled. Once again my senses fled and darkness overtook me.

When next I awoke I was chained along with all the others, aching and weary. During our own struggles, Drogo had done what little he could to treat my wounds. The red armored soldiers strode through the town, looking for more villagers and chaining the stragglers. Any who resisted were slaughtered in turn. Strangely, those soldiers who had the appearance of corpses were no longer walking amongst us. We sat unmolested for a night and most of the next day. Aldor, Haeleth, Geb and Rodwin were all chained near us. When I mentioned that in my dream I had seen Irimë, Durim grumbled once again about elven magic, but would hear no more of it.

Eventually, the soldiers forced us all to our feet and we began to march south. Their whips cracked in our ears. For all of us weary folk, the march was exhausting. We walked for days. As people stumbled and fell, they were unchained and kicked aside. Aldor, who was old and not well to begin with, soon began coughing and stumbling. Durim did his best to keep our spirits up, but Geb interrupted, whining about how difficult the marching was. After many days of marching, crossing the Alduin and Gladden Fields, we faced the foreboding darkness of the Mirkwood.

Another troop of soldiers marched toward us, from the depths of the forest. In the evening gloom it took some time to see that they were not human soldiers, but orcs. Our captors showed no concern, and when the orc column met us, we were handed over to them with no further ado. The orcs led us further south before turning east, toward the forest. Over the trees we could see a shadowy, tall hilltop, wreathed in smoke and clouds. Dark writhing shapes could sometimes be seen flitting about within the gloomy clouds. The sight struck fear in our hearts as the orcs turned us toward it and into the darkest path we’d ever trod through the Mirkwood.

Trudging through the dark was even more difficult, and while our human captors had treated us mostly with indifference, the orcs prodded us cruelly. When anyone fell, they were promptly killed and dragged away, orcs cheering viciously for another meal. We were led to a dark hole at the base of the hill, and driven inside. The tunnel narrow tunnel led us deep into the mountain. In the dark, I was able to wriggle my hands free from my shackles, and feigning a stumble, picked up a rock. I desperately hoped for an opportunity to sneak away, or free my friends, but none came.

The orcs led us over rough bridges spanning pits of fire, forges, scenes of torture and horror. We were completely surrounded by orcs. Into a torchlit hall we were pushed, freed from our bondage, and shoved into an unlit cell. Our only luck was that we were not split up. Aldor, Haeleth, Geb, and Rodwin were locked into the cell with us. Aldor’s cough had turned to a dry hacking, and I did my best to make him comfortable so that he could rest and hopefully regain his strength.

Many hours passed in that dark hole, perhaps many days. Every now and then the door would swing open and an orc would toss in a basket of moldy bread scraps and a small skin of water. Aldor’s ragged breathing echoed in the darkness until it eventually stopped. Geb, who always scrambled first to the food, sulked and whined. We were all weary to the bone. The cell in which we were locked held no comfort. A shallow pool of caustic water sat in the middle, and the walls were hewn from rough stone, leaving not a single smooth spot to lean against. The darkness permeated all. Only the thinnest line of torchlight leaked in around the solid wooden door. Faint, shrill screams could be heard echoing some distance away. Durim asked Rodwin what she thought might happen.

“I suppose they will either turn us into those walking corpses, to do their bidding. Save that, we will all die and be tossed into orc cookpots.” Disheartened, we stopped talking. More time passed and eventually Aldor’s wheezing ceased. Drogo sang a terribly depressing song and we all felt very sad for the old man.

After another day or so, the door swung open again. This time, the figure of a man stood in the doorway, holding a tray from which wafted the most delicious smells of food. After nearly stumbling over Aldor’s body near the doorway, he backed out again. Moments later, orcs dragged away the corpse and the man entered once again with the food. As he offered up the tray, we scrambled to devour the steaming meat, bread, and fresh fruit. It was the most delicious meal I’d ever tasted.

As we ate, the man spoke. “Weary travelers, my name is Anater. I live here in the wood. I see you are enjoying this fine food. There is no need for you to suffer down here in the dark. Many men, dwarves, and others are in the service of my master, and live in the woods above. If you kneel to him, you may go.” After we’d cleared the tray, he gathered it and left us alone.

“We ought to do like he says,” said Geb with a belch. “I don’t want to stay down here.”

“You fool!” cried Durim. “His master is a foul sorcerer, master of the orcs who’ve held us down here. You cannot trust him.”

“I’m just being practical. We’ll all die down here. What does it matter? I’ll serve whoever.”

Drogo piped up from his seat in the darkness, and told Geb the tale of Feanor, son of Finwe, who was corrupted by the lustre of the Silmarils. Geb saw the danger of corruption and agreed not to swear fealty to this dark “master” above. When Anater returned, we all declined his offer, and he left us alone in the dark once again.

Time passed; perhaps another day. Our stomachs growled again and when the sound of boot steps clapped through the corridor, we anxiously awaited our next meal. The door swung open, and an orc grabbed Durim, who happened to be nearest the door. “The boys need some sport. You’re coming with me.” Durim, who had my rock still in his hand, lunged and bashed the rock into the skull of the orc. The beast staggered under the blow, grabbed Durim’s neck and roared into his face. The orcs behind him had drawn swords. “Stand down, lads. I’ll be all right. This one’s going to the pit.” Swinging a bag over Durim’s head, they dragged him out and banged the door shut behind him.

After an hour or so, orcs returned, flinging an unconscious Durim into a heap in the corner of our cell. One pointed at Haeleth, “You’re next, boy.” Haeleth began to weep quietly, and I tried to inspire him with a story, but he pushed me away with a sob.

Another day or so passed. Durim awoke, and told us his tale. He had faced a troll in some sort of arena, unarmed. It was a miracle he survived at all.

Disheartened, but determined to change our circumstances somehow, I sat near the door to wait for it to open again. When it did, I slipped out during the commotion of the orcs grabbing at a struggling Haeleth and snuck down the corridor. It was lined with closed doors, presumably cells like ours. Down a few turns I passed into a large cavern, full of pits of fire, forges, and corners where orcs whipped slaves to fuel their fires. Screams and grunts echoed through the air. In an abandoned corner, I found a rusty sword and picked it up. I tried to find my way back through the twisting corridors to our cell, though it took quite some time, for all the doors looked alike. I soon saw an orc standing guard outside a door, and thought it might be the cell holding my companions.

In my haste and desperation, I snuck up and attacked the orc guard. The rusty blade glanced off his thick hide, and he thrust his spear at me. I managed to dodge the blow, and hit him true, in the leg. He bellowed a loud alarm, and stabbed me in return. My next blow struck him in the neck and he tumbled to the floor. I could hear the boot steps coming down the hall as I slipped the key ring from his belt and slid back into the shadows up the hall. I knelt in hiding near some other doors as the orcs investigated their fallen comrade, arguing loudly and pushing one another. In the noise, I tried the keys in the door behind me, and after a few tries, one turned in the lock and I swung the door open. I whispered to the folk within that they may be able to get out if they were quiet and snuck across to the next door.

A man ran out of the cell, not at all quietly, and the orcs pursued him around the corner. I rushed back to our door and unlocked it. The screams of the man told of his fate, and the orcs returned just as I swung the door open. Haeleth’s lifeless body had been flung into the foul puddle of water and filth, but I had only noted that sad fact for but a moment when an eerie green light surrounded Rodwin, forming into the shape of a man next to her. A voice rung out from the darkness.

“Do you know what the Noldor witch has done? She could not face me alone, so she brought you here to do the work. She sacrificed you for her own sake.” Rodwin’s face flickered to that of Irimë’s as the green light undulated sickly around her. The body of Haeleth twitched and dragged itself to its feet, in a mockery of life. Its arms hung limply at its sides and its face writhed in a mask of hatred. Terrified, I swung my sword at the boy, and though my blow met flesh he did not react in pain.

I suddenly realized that this creature might hold some knowledge of how to defeat the evil that had brought us here, and to free my friends. I dropped the sword and knelt in submission. “I submit, my lord. Tell me your secrets!”

The green light surged as the Hound lunged for the fallen blade. He buried the blade in Haeleth’s neck with a growl. Durim’s shout rang out, “I would gladly die for fair Irimë!” as he ran into the corridor to face the orcs, Drogo at his heals. The shadowy figure grabbed me and drew me closer to it.

“So be it, share her fate!” shouted the voice. “Despair!”

A dark shadow swept over all of us, and we awoke to find ourselves in the High Pass among the ruins of Haycomb. Irimë lay near us on the ground. Her skin was pale and bloodless, eyes staring blankly into the sky. Durim shook her, but she did not respond. The Hound, after looking her over, said that her body was unharmed, but her spirit was gone.

We sat numbly, wearied from the strange ordeal. Soon a body of elves approached. The elf lord at their head was clad in bright, shining mail. He saw that Irimë was badly hurt and asked us for our tale. With halting speech, Drogo related our terrible story. The elf lords introduced themselves, as Elodon and Elohir, sons of Elrond. They carried Irimë to a horse and departed to take her to Rivendell.

Left with nothing to do but go home, we started off with heavy hearts. We followed the path out of the High Pass, remembering how we had walked this same trail last in chains. We did not begin to shake the dark feeling until we reached the Old Ford and turned north toward home.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 27 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Returning to Haycomb
The cold mountain wind whistled through the branches of the huge nest we awoke in. Perched near us was an enormous eagle, pruning its feathers and eyeing us warily. Looking over the edge of the nest, I could see that we were atop a high mountain peak. The foothills and river valley stretched out far below, the dark expanse of the Mirkwood on the eastern horizon. Though all of our party were in the nest, the Hound still lay wounded, though he had regained consciousness. Hurriedly, I treated his wound as best I could.

A sudden gust and loud flapping signaled the arrival of another huge eagle, this greater than the last. A golden crown circled his head.

“Greetings, Lady” he said to Irimë.

“I thank you for heeding my prayers,” she replied.

“It was a grave thing indeed, to see you there in such peril. It is a wonder you all managed to survive. During your rescue my chieftan, Gaerthon, was badly wounded. We have been disturbed much lately by dark powers in the Anduin vales. Something creeps forth from south of the Gladden.”

Durim asked the eagle lord if we might see to the wounded eagle, as repayment for our rescue. “I suppose, if you have a healer among you, it would not hurt to try. Though his wounds are dire.”

The Hound and I, clutched gently by the talons of two eagles, were lifted to another eyrie where the wounded bird lay. Working together, we attempted to remove the spear that had pierced his breast. But after the Hound removed the weapon and I inspected the wound, I could see that a foul poison had taken hold deep in his flesh. The eagle shuddered under my hands as his life left him.

With heavy hearts we were carried back to the other nest. Irimë suggested we take advantage of our safe haven to rest and care for our own wounds. We heartily agreed and settled down to do just that. The following day the eagles allowed us to climb atop them, and carried us down to a familiar place in the High Pass: the ruins of the town we had passed on our first crossing. Durim hesitated, recalling the wraith that had attacked us on our earlier visit, but Irimë insisted it was the place where the sons of Elrond would be meeting her.

In her soft and wistful way, she recalled that she had visited this town in its prime. The town had been called Haycomb, and a great market had drawn visitors from distant lands. Darkness befell the town, she said, and it was long since abandoned.

I asked her why the orcs had been hunting her. She replied that there were forces of darkness that feed upon sorrow. “The forces of shadow want to destroy my kind, though I know not their reasons,” she said solemnly.

We waited there in the ruins for some time. Drogo readied dinner while Durim studied the stonework and the Hound and I kept a wary eye out for trouble. Irimë wandered about the ruins, humming quietly to herself and looking sad. Though dusk was gathering around us, a soft glow reflected off Irimë.

A strange, oily chill traveled over my skin and I knew something was wrong. I hopped up, startled, and looked toward Irimë. An inky shadow surrounded her, and she looked at it with fear and surprise. I ran toward her, the Hound and Canna at my side. I only made it a few steps toward her before the strange shadow had enveloped her completely, her face aghast. The darkness swept toward us and washed over us.

~~ ~~~ ~~ ~~~ ~~

Sitting up, we saw that the dusk that had surrounded us before the strange shadow overtook us had been replaced by bright, mid-day sun. The ruins where Irimë had been standing were now a bustling town, with rooftops peeking out over a high wooden wall and the sounds of commerce drifting through the open gates.

Irimë was nowhere to be seen.

Picking ourselves up, we felt strangely refreshed, as if we’d had weeks of rest. Curiously, we wandered into the village. Men and women carried about their lives and business, children scampered about the streets in play. The people here were fair-haired, much like the Woodmen, and all about us were the trappings of horses: many stables, leather-workers, farriers, and the like.

A group of children gathered around us, commenting happily on our size. Drogo introduced himself, and the Hound asked one of the older children if he’d seen a lady elf about town. The child thought for a moment and then said, “Oh, yes! I saw a lady elf at the ale house. At the Fallen Goat! I’ll take you there!”

We followed the boy to the Fallen Goat, as he chattered excitedly to the Hound. “My name’s Haeleth, sir. Do you need a squire? My father’s the captain of the guard, I know all about squiring. He’s been gone for a while. He went with south with the Alderman and the others. I could help you out, if you need a squire. Sharpen your axe, saddle your horse… do you have a horse? That’s an awful big dog! Does she bite? I could feed her and brush her, too, if you needed me to. I’d have to ask father, of course, but I’m sure he’d say ‘yes.’ He’s always saying I need to find something to keep myself busy. I sure wish he’d come back soon. Ah, here we are, the Fallen Goat!”

We approached a sturdy building, with a sign above the door depicting a goat tumbling off a mountainside. Through the doorway brought us into a room with a few tables, a warmly burning fireplace, and a bar at the far end of the room. A man idly strumming a lute sat with his feet propped at a table near the fireplace, and a hooded figure sat at the bar.

Durim and the Hound walked to the bar and were warmly welcomed by the bartender. I asked him for a mug of ale, and he mentioned seeing a group of hobbits not long ago. The Hound addressed the hooded figure, and as she turned to face him, we could see that it was indeed a lady elf. She introduced herself as Rodwin, and when asked if she knew of Irimë, she said she did not.

The barkeep, Aldor told us quite a bit about the town, Haycomb. The local lord, Heäfod had gone south with the Alderman, Captain of the Guard, and a company of soldiers. There had been dark tidings from somewhere in the southern Mirkwood, tales of sorcery and evil. The Hound asked Rodwin if she knew what year it was, but she did not know how men keep reckoning of the years.

I spoke briefly with Geb, the man strumming the lute, and gave him a coin to sing. After his song, his leering innuendos put me off talking to him anymore. Gathering among ourselves, we discussed the strange situation in which we now found ourselves. Durim felt pessimistic about the town, and worried about the tale Irimë had told of it.

Haleth, who’d been loitering around the doorway, gave a sudden shout. The Alderman and company had returned to town. Drogo flung the door open, but an enormous crowd of people were already gathered and pressed against the building. Only I was small enough to squeeze through the crowd. The column of troops was led by a man in armor atop a painted gold wagon. Following the local soldiers was another company of soldiers in strange red armor. I had an immediate aversion to the soldiers and a deep sense of dread. I dashed back to the alehouse just as the Alderman shouted his return and the soldiers began to attack the townsfolk.

Drogo slammed the door behind me and barricaded it. Aldor led Durim upstairs to a balcony to overlook the square. Durim leapt from the balcony into the fray below, in a desperate attempt to defend the folk being massacred. Aldor told us there was a back door, and the three of us ran toward it, but found only more soldiers outside. The Hound attacked and we could that the faces under their helms were like those of corpses, withered and dead. I ran back to the hearth to grab a flaming log from the fire, and holding it gingerly, I swung it at the soldiers.

Outside Durim fought furiously, the dead-like soldiers barely slowed by his blows. Durim chopped the wheel from a wagon, sending it toppling onto the soldiers he faced, allowing him momentary escape. He ran around the back of the alehouse to where we were fighting with more soldiers.

We managed to fend them off just enough for Durim to get back into the building. “We need to leave now!” Durim cried. But we could see no means of escaping this terrible nightmare.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 20 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
The Lady Irimë
We rested briefly at the Easterly Inn, enjoying the Shire beer and friendly faces of my family and the occasional traveler. The battle had taken its toll on me, and when asked to join Uncle Dindy on a journey to the Shire, I could not have accepted more readily. We joined a small caravan of men travelling over the Mountains of Mist, hoping that a larger group would not be as easy targets to the orcs and goblins. Our journeys there and back were uneventful; our time in the Shire restful and reinvigorating. It was good to be back. I spent much time relating stories from across the land.

Uncle and I returned to the Easterly Inn as summer drew to a close. My friends had once again gathered there. Durim had traveled to his home in Erebor over the summer. As tale had spread there of his accomplishments and heroism, he was presented with the Shield of Borin, his great- great-grandfather who was brother to Dain, the last King of Durin's Folk. He spent some time at the forge with his cousin Thrim's apprentice, a young Barding from Dale.

The days were growing shorter and the air cooler, and one day a Beorning man arrived at the inn. He had a message for us from Grimbeorn himself. He introduced himself as Hildebald, and told us that Grimbeorn asked that we investigate tales of orc sightings in the northern Mirkwood. Durim asked Hildebald how things fared over the summer in Beorning. The people had rebuilt Bowen’s Field, but Stonyford remained abandoned and pillaged. They had not discovered from whence the bandits had come, and with the death of Valter they had all but disappeared. We agreed to head up to the Mirkwood to look for signs or tales of orcs and return to report as soon as we could.

We set out in the morning, after second breakfast, heading north through the valley of the great river. After traveling for four days, we reached the Forest Gate. Mirkwood loomed, dark and wild, some distance to the east. Though the afternoon was turning to evening, the Hound insisted that we begin to hunt for orc signs. Canna led the Hound to the forest edge, where they found large boot tracks near a small stream. A large party had recently passed, the Hound told us. Drogo searched nearby and found small trees that had been hacked to bits, for no apparent reason.

As we studied the trees and discussed our next step, we suddenly became aware that we were not alone. Looking about, it was clear to us that we were, in fact, surrounded by nearly a dozen elves. Arrows nocked and bows drawn, the gazed at us with wary eyes.

Durim found his voice first, and gave a rousing introduction, explaining that we were seeking signs of orcs in this region. The elves did not seem impressed, and did not lower their bows. One stepped forward, “Yes. Orcs. Well, we’ve also been hunting orcs. And they’ve been hunting us.” He then questioned us about the land west of the Mirkwood. He asked after the condition of the roads and if we’d come across any trouble. Durim asked why they might step out of their mirky home and head into the valley.

“Powerful orcs from Mordor have come out of the heart of Mirkwood. We shall not allow them to live,” spoke the elf.

As he spoke, my attention was drawn by some movement in the shadows over his shoulder. From the edge of the wood stepped two more elves: a woman, clad in shimmering silver and white, and a man in the deep greens of the forest. They conferred in hushed tones, and I caught only hints of a musical language I had not heard before. The Lady’s gaze bore into me, as if she were looking through me. After a moment, the elf lord nodded to his companion and moved toward our group. His step was more graceful than that of even the elves who had us surrounded, not a leaf or blade of grass was disturbed by his passing. Above his shoulders rose the bone-handled hilts of two swords, and an elegantly carved bow of dark wood.

“I am Legolas of the Woodland Realm. I greet you in peace.”

The four of us were so befuddled by his sudden appearance that we made utter fools of ourselves, trying to introduce ourselves in turn. Legolas turned back to the lady behind him with a questioning glance, and she nodded solemnly.

“As Galion has said, there are orcs in this land that must be found and dealt with. The Lady Irimë requests that you escort her west, to the High Pass in the Hithaeglir. The Lady travels to Imlardis, in the hidden valley, known to you as Rivendell. Elrond will send a party to meet you in the High Pass to take the Lady there. Her safety is of utmost importance. We will continue to hunt these orcs and the Lady will accompany you southward. Do you accept?”

Durim replied, “Why has the lady chosen us? Though we are friendly and sympathetic to your cause, we are unknown to you, and you to us.”

“I do not know why the Lady asks for your escort. However she insists, and we must see to this orc intrusion. You will go in the morning.”

“Ah, well, we have other obligations that we must attend to. I’m not certain that we….” Durim began.

“The Lady insists that she accompany you, and that you take her to the High Pass. You will go in the morning,” Legolas repeated.

Cowed, we finally accepted the task and the elves led us through the wood to a moonlit clearing. A table at the center of the clearing was covered with all sorts of delicate food and the elves invited us to sit and dine. During the meal, Durim stood to recite a poem he’d been composing. It was not well received, and the elves looked at him in silence until he sat down in embarrassment.

I asked the fellow next to me how many orcs were nearby. He told me that Legolas believed the orc band to be stragglers from the Battle of Five Armies. The havoc and destruction they spread through the Mirkwood needs stopping, and Legolas is anxious to be about the task.

After we’d had our fill, we settled down to rest. The elves struck up a lovely, haunting song and I quickly drifted to sleep. We awoke to daylight filtering softly through the heavy boughs of the Mirkwood. The glade was quiet, but for the chirping of birds. The elves had disappeared, all but Lady Irimë. Now she was clad in the hushed greens and browns of travel wear. Delicate silver bracelets adorned her wrists, and a brightly sparkling silver ring flashed on her hand. Approaching her, I introduced myself.

“Lady Irimë, I am Poppy Brandybuck, a hobbit of the Shire. Very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Ah, it has been quite some time since I met with one of the periando. Your people are always full of surprises. I thank you for accepting my company as we travel to the west.” Her voice was soft and sorrowful, and as she spoke her gaze drifted from my face to some distance behind me.

“I cannot help but wonder, my Lady, why you’ve chosen to travel with us at all.”

“I cannot say more than that I see about you images of greatness and tragedy. Our fates are intertwined.”

“Hm, ah yes. Well, be that as it may, I must tell you that we are already on an errand and we must stop at the House of Beorn on our way south to the Forest Road. It should not take us more than a day or so, but we have an obligation that we must meet. You see, he is the one who asked us to travel here to see about the orcs in these parts, and we must tell him that the tales were right, and that Legolas and the others are on their trail.”

“Who is Beorn?” asked the Lady.

“He is the leader of the men who live in the area near the Old Forest Road, between the Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains. He is a man of noble spirit, and a fierce warrior. We fought at his side in the springtime, at the Battle of Bowen’s Field, to protect the peaceful village folk from a large band of raiders and wicked men. He does what he can to keep the land free and safe for travel.”

“I have known men like Beorn in the past. Long ago were days when man and elf lived alongside each other in peace. Though I fear that traveling to his house may take us farther from the path than you suspect.”

My companions then introduced themselves to Irimë, in turn, and we gathered our things and set out. As we stepped out of the shade of the wood we found ourselves on familiar ground, for but a short walk south brought us right to the Old Forest Road. Somehow, during the previous evening or night, we had traveled the distance of a three or four day walk. Stunned, it took us a moment to get our bearings, but the Hound was certain that we were indeed on the Old Forest Road and should continue west to the Old Ford. We would not be able to reach Beorn’s House without adding another two or three days on to our journey. Durim, muttering under his breath about elf magic, agreed that we must carry on.

We walked for two days to reach the Old Ford. Irimë was mostly quiet during our journey, though she would occasionally speak softly of the history of the land. Upon reaching the Old Ford, she recalled the bridge that once spanned the Anduin, built by dwarves. She spoke of great armies that once crossed the bridge, led by Gil-galad with his glittering spear. Later that evening, Irimë sang a sorrowful song of lost Beleriand, which sank beneath the waves.

We crossed the river, and walked for two more days through the valley toward the foothills of the mountains. Looking behind us at one point, I saw the glimmer of several camp fires at some distance. Irimë did not give any clue as to who might follow us, but the lights put us all on edge.

Further into the pass we climbed. The Hound spotted a band of orcs on the trail, and Drogo found a path around them. The craggy road, littered with broken paving stones, did not offer much in the way of cover, and as we snuck around them we realized that there were orcs behind us as well as ahead of us.

Durim hurriedly sought out higher ground, and we climbed to a rocky precipice. Durim and the Hound took the front line to block the narrow ledge, and Drogo and I took up the rear, with Lady Irimë behind us.

The orcs had found our trail and followed us to the bluff, nearly fifty in total. Behind us, Irimë began singing in a high, keening tone. Her song was full of grief and bitterness. The orcs began to howl with rage to drown out her voice. A large orc pushed to the front of the pack, shouting, “Give us the elf and the rest of you can go.”

The Hound growled in response, lifting Wolfbiter in challenge.

“The Naugrim will never falter against the Shadow!” cried Durim.

“Then tonight we dine well!” the orc shouted as he charged. As the orc horde washed over us, Irimë lifted her hand, her glittering ring shining as brightly as the sun for a moment. The orcs shrank back with hesitation, but as the light dimmed they rushed at us once more.

The fight was short and bloody. Though our blades and arrows felled a few of our enemies, we were soon overcome. The Hound was badly wounded during the fight, and soon I was knocked unconscious.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 13 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
The Battle of Bowen's Field
Dawn broke to the bustling sounds of Beornings readying themselves for their journey to battle. Grimbeorn, son of Beorn, stood in the center of the yard, shouting orders in his booming voice. “Ready yourselves, kinsmen! We ride to battle!”

Feeling somewhat restless ourselves, and wanting to assist these fine folk in defending the villagers, Durim, The Hound, Drogo and I decided it would be best to ride along and lend our limited knowledge and talents. There were about thirty Beorning men in the column heading south, amongst them Wiliferd, the young warrior of Stonyford, and Helmgut, Oderic’s father. Helmgut clutched his wineskin tightly, and as we marched toward danger it never seemed to leave his side.

Grimbeorn called Durim to his tent as camp settled at the end of the first day’s march. “Though I do not know you or your companions, my father has advised me to use your knowledge and talents on this quest. But let it be known, our goal on this mission is first to defend any villagers, to take this Valter the Bloody, dead or alive, and to capture Oderic alive, that he may be judged at the Carrock of Beorn.”

“Then this is a noble quest,” Durim replied somberly. “We shall aid you in whatever way we can. The encampment was a grim sight, full of warriors, with many good folk captured and enslaved. We would gladly rid the land of this Valter, and see justice done.”

The following morning, The Hound scouted ahead of the column, all but disappearing in the tall grass ahead of us. On the horizon ahead appeared a dark, oddly shaped cloud. It grew quickly, undulating in the sky. Soon it was close enough to see that the cloud was in fact a great flock of black birds. Fear grew in our hearts as the flock swooped low over our heads, sending men, hobbits, and dwarf diving to the ground and running in fear. As they passed over our band, Grimbeorn stood and bellowed, “Fear not Beornings! We must be brave in the face of dark omens. We march!”

Though clearly shaken, we gathered ourselves and braced our spirits, marching south once again. The Hound, Canna fast at his heels, met us along the way. “Those black birds,” he said to Grimbeorn, “they were the Crebain, servants of the Shadow. Used as spies by dark forces. I sense something foul afoot. We should be wary.”

“Indeed,” said Grimbeorn, “your scouting and knowledge of these things is useful. I would ask that you continue, and send back tidings of any signs of trouble you might see. I will send out scouts of my own as well, but your keen eyes may see what others miss.”

On the third day, I joined The Hound on his scouting mission. We crept through the tall grass and soon came upon signs that a large party had passed this way. The trodden grass belied a large force of men, who had been heading north, but turned at the crossroad and marched east, toward the dark forest Mirkwood. I scurried back to Grimbeorn and made my report.

Gathering Durim and a few of the Beorning warriors around him, Grimbeorn quickly scanned the map he pulled from his pack. “It is well done that you found these tracks. It appears that they are heading toward Bowen’s Field, a small hamlet to the east. We must hurry, for the people there have no defenses.” Standing, Grimbeorn called out, “We march with haste, kinsmen!” and the Beorning party settled into a quick jog. Shouldering my own gear, it was all I could do to keep up.

Shortly we smelled smoke on the air and came upon a farm, the house set afire and the animals slaughtered in the field. Fixed to the side of the barn, in a grisly display, was poor Geral the farmer, studded with arrows. Geral’s dead eyes stared out of a face twisted in fear.

Grimbeorn’s countenance changed from determination to anger, as he rushed over the next ridge with the Beorning company at his back. Hearing shouts and the clanging of metal, we steeled ourselves for the fight. Durim charged ahead, in the midst of Beorning warriors, his axe gripped tightly in his fists. Drogo held back with several other archers. The Hound and I skirted to the side, looking for villagers in need of help. The battle was a frenzy of shouting, smoke and the clash of metal. We faced nearly fifty raiders, who were well warned by the battle cries of the charging Beornings. Wiliferd, his face painted with fear, held his sword white-knuckled as he faced his first foes. Helmgut clutched his own two-handed axe with practiced ease, and as he took down his first enemy the haze seemed to clear from his eyes and he stood taller, rushing into the thick of battle.

The sounds of children crying perked my ears as the Hound and I rounded a corner to see a family huddled against the side of a burning barn. Seeing the defenseless family clutching each other in fear, two of the bandits sought to claim their lives. The Hound and I attacked. Canna growled and snapped at the bandits while I stepped between them and the family. “Run!” I cried to them, “back that way! Run to safety.”

“Ah, little girl!” growled one of the bandits. “I’ll take that tiny sword ye got and stick ye with it!” He swiped at me as I rolled to the side and my short sword slashed out, cutting into his leg. He fell to the ground with a cry and I jumped up, smashing the hilt of my blade into his face. He went out. The second bandit, struggling against Canna’s fierce bites, stumbled and fell to his knees in the dirt. The Hound knocked him out as well, and we turned to the trembling villagers. “Run, I said! Don’t just huddle here and die! Save your children.”

They nodded, their fear fading. Clutching at their children, they ran to safety behind the band of Beorning warriors. In the village’s center, Durim flung himself between Grimbeorn and three bandits. Lunging from one to the next, he took their blows valiantly, defending Grimbeorn so that he could lead his men. Beornings surrounded the group, and with great shouts they smashed against their foes. Grimbeorn nodded thanks to Durim and bellowed another rallying cry, his axe held high.

Though the course of the battle bode well for the Beornings, we wearied under the vicious attacks of the raiders. From the rear, Drogo and the other archers’ arrows rained into the battlefield, striking the bandits and slowing them.

The Hound, snarling in fury, faced a small band of raiders. As he raised Wolfbiter to strike, the men quailed in fear and broke, running for the distant tree line. I snuck through the village, flitting from shadow to shadow, seeking out Oderic. I saw him, fending off two Beorning warriors. He fought with grace, and while he parried their blows easily, he did not strike to hit them in return.

“Oderic!” I cried to him. “Surrender and throw down your sword. This is not the way! Your father is on the battle field. Will you let him see his son die like a coward, rather than face Beorn’s justice like a man?”

The tide of the battle had turned, however, and the Beorning band was flagging. The Hound was struck a nasty blow and fell to the ground. Durim, who had suffered much in his defense of Grimbeorn, also fell. Drogo ran to his side to prevent further attack on his fallen comrade. A commotion began near the rear of the field, and a grim chant started up amongst the Beorning warriors, growing louder with each shout: “Beorn. Beorn. Beorn! BEORN!”

His claws a blur, Beorn took to the battlefield in the form of an enormous black bear, tearing through the bandit raiders like nothing I’d ever seen. He flew through his foes, and the battle broke as men began to flee in fear. The Hound and Durim, regaining consciousness and finding their feet, noted Valter, Oderic and two other bandit men running off the field. We pursued, shouting for aid.

As we caught up to them, the miscreants turned to face us with their weapons at the ready. Tears streaked down Oderic’s dirty face. Valter laughed menacingly, his face awash with arrogance.

“Oderic, son of Helmgut!” shouted Durim. “Now is the time to prove if your heart is noble or corrupt!” Oderic faltered, his arms dropped to his sides in defeat. His sword, which had been swung with skill, slipped from his grasp and stuck quivering in the dirt at his feet. With a strangled gasp, Oderic looked down at himself in surprise as the blade of his companion’s spear jutted through his chest, thrust from behind his back. “What have I done?” Oderic gurgled as his life’s blood spilled from the wound.

“Coward,” muttered the bandit, leaving the spear jutting from Oderic as he drew another blade.

“Faron, kill the dwarf. You, take the hobbits,” Valter ordered with a laugh. The bandits lunged. Durim reacted quickly, burying his axe in the belly of the one called Faron, who crumpled to the ground in a heap. Valter’s sword flashed in an attack on the Hound, hitting him and knocking him to one knee. Durim’s axe whirred through the air, bashing into the head of the third villain, who collapsed in the dirt with a grunt. Valter, facing the four of us alone, swung once more at The Hound, who fell to the blow. In desperation, I hurled myself at Valter’s feet, allowing Durim to strike, but Valter deflected the blow easily. Valter, laughing, kicked me to the side and I blacked out.

Though I came to moments later, I was too dazed to get to my feet. Drogo had drawn his sword and hurled himself between Durim and Valter, but was tossed aside as I had been. Durim, with a mighty shout, swung his axe high and smashed the flat of the blade against his head. Valter’s knees buckled and he fell to the ground, unconscious.

Quiet fell around us, as our fight was the last of the battle. The Beornings were tending to the wounded and securing the villagers. We tended to ourselves and Grimbeorn tied Valter, hand and foot.

Durim searched through Valter’s belongings, uncovering a cloth sack out of which tumbled a withered human head. The gray skin pulled tightly over bone belied a long dead relic. A rusted iron band circled its crown. Durim nudged it over to The Hound with a booted foot. “What do you suppose this is, friend?”

The Hound shook the last daze from his eyes and looked over the ghastly thing at his feet. “I’ve heard of such a thing. Some dark force has enchanted this, to carry his orders over great distance. It is an evil thing, and should be destroyed.”

Striding up, Grimbeorn agreed. “Indeed, it is a treacherous thing. Do what you must to see it destroyed.” With one blow from Wolfbiter, the head crumbled into dust.

Durim, turning to Grimbeorn, spoke. “I am sorry that we could not recover Oderic alive. It seemed as though he might surrender, but these criminals stabbed him in the back.”

“Friend dwarf, this battle was well fought. Perhaps Oderic found the justice he deserved, after all. We shall take this Valter back to the Carrock where he will meet his doom.”

As we worked our way through the town, looking for villagers and wounded warriors we came upon Wiliferd, whose tunic was soaked in the blood of his enemies. The fear had left him, and he strode through the camp as if hunting for more foes. In a mill near the center of town we found a mother and her two small children kneeling over the body of Helmgut. They told us how he died, defending them to his last breath from three bandits. Calling for assistance, we collected him to be buried with a hero’s honors.

Once the dead were buried and the villagers secure, our band made its way back to the House of Beorn. There, we feasted once again in celebration of our victory, toasting the honored dead. Grimbeorn gave us each a small pouch of silver as a reward for hunting down Oderic. For his valor on the battlefield, he awarded Durim with a bejeweled axe belt. Ava, having heard a tale of my rescuing the villagers, rewarded me with another hefty purse of coin. That evening was spent with rousing songs, and tales regaled of the Battle of Bowen’s Field, and in the morning our small party departed for the Easterly Inn to rest.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Feb 06 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Epic × 2!
Beorn's Quest (part two)
Since we had followed Oderic's tracks to the village, we decided to talk to the people he might have returned to to see if he was still hiding somewhere nearby. When we entered Helmgut's hovel and tried to extract any details from him, he was despondent and lost in drink, so we left. Then we asked around where we might find Brunhild, Rathfic's wife, and were directed to the burial mounds outside town where she crouched in silent vigil.

Poppy gained her confidence and the girl admitted that Oderic had visited her a few days ago, and told her of his flight from the orcs. She attested that Oderic had killed Rathfic by accident, and that Rathfic had been the one to draw the knife while the two men argued. Durim argued that by evading Beorn's justice, the man had all but damned himself, but if he could be returned to the Carrock to face justice, he just might be spared.

The brash young man had reportedly left to head west, across the river, and so that is where our trail led next. One of the boats had been stolen; we found it abandoned on the opposite shore, a few miles downstream.

The Hound tracked him relentlessly, until we found ourselves near the Gladden Fields, and woods where wicked men were said to live. At the remains of a camp, we found splinters of a broken shield and the riven haft of a spear. The Hound determined that one man had been set upon by many and a struggle had ensued--apparently, our quarry had been snared by someone else!

It was easier to follow the trail of many men, which had headed directly into the woods. The Hound, followed by the sneaky hobbits, crept into the forest to scout ahead. After a few minutes, Durim followed, noting a wisp of smoke on the horizon that suggested an encampment might be found nearby.

Poppy and Drogo soon outdistanced the Hound, who was being more cautious. The hobbits were trying so hard to remain quiet they forgot to listen, and didn't noticed a group of sentries until they were nearly on top of them! Four men of dangerous countenance were stalking carefully through the wood, one of whom glimpsed the hobbits out of the corner of his eye and quickly looked toward them. Poppy disappeared into the underbrush and Drogo froze, relatively unobscured on a deer-path. Poppy threw a rock, distracting the men enough for Drogo to crawl away, but alerting them that something was amiss.

Drogo retreated far enough to come across the Hound, and explained the situation in a whisper. As they wondered whether to wait it out (gleaning some information by watching them) or try to go around, Poppy recklessly threw a rock at them, capturing their full attention. The Hound stepped up boldly and charged into battle with Canna at his side.

Two men armed with bows aimed for the hobbits while The Hound threatened the others with his steel. Durim came running, having heard the commotion, and immediately hit the dirt as an arrow sailed past him. He stood and faced his attacker, trying to rally his companions, but the battle was almost won already; the Poppy and the Hound had dealt with their men and Drogo fired an arrow through the neck of one of the archers, killing him instantly. The fourth man tried to flee but was run down by Canna and The Hound.

When the three surviving men had been restrained, we considered our options. It could be hours before our prisoners woke to be interrogated, and by then their camp might notice their disappearance. So the Hound decided to scout further, followed again by Poppy (to his chagrin), while Durim and Drogo sat quietly in the wood, awaiting the inevitable sounds of battle.

The Hound made his way to the wicked men's camp, and was surprised to see that it was even larger than the village of Stonyford. The camp consisted of perhaps a hundred people, including women and children, many of whom were clearly slaves. So the men were slavers who had been press-ganging innocent people! That seemed to explain what had happened to Oderic. But as he scanned the encampment from the vantage point of a tall tree at the outskirts of the clearing, the Hound saw a young man who must be Oderic, sword in hand, consulting with the apparent leader of the bandits! Stunned by this revelation, but only just, the woodman made a quick estimate of how many armed men there were in the camp (approximately 40!) and returned to the others to share what he had learned.

Durim supposed Oderic had impressed the slavers with his steel--overlooking that the young man might have been in league with them for months. Regardless, a frontal assault would be suicide, and it was clear that there was no easy way to sneak into the encampment and confront the boy, and no guarantee he would leave peaceably if we were to somehow manage it.

When the captured sentries awoke, we got what we could from them. They knew Oderic but didn't trust him. Their leader, a fearsome man named Valter the Bloody, apparently had been learning what he could about Oderic's home. Our captives didn't know what their next raid target was, but it sounded like they were getting ready to set out the next morning.

It appeared that Stonyford was in danger! We set out quickly, and kept a hurried pace to get to the village as soon as we could. We told them of the danger to the town, and implored them to leave, and come with us to the safety of Beorn's house. Helmgut refused to leave until The Hound, with shadow in his heart, threatened to feed the old man to his dog, piece by piece. By the end of the morning the townsfolk had gathered what they could and had started the slow trek to Beorn's house. And none to soon--on the morning of the second day, a column of smoke rose behind them, portending the destruction of the village. Durim likened it to the plight of the Dwarves of Erebor, and as such, lightened the spirits of many of the villagers; for Beorn would surely rout the bandits, and there would be no dragon awaiting them when they returned home.

After a few more days we arrived at Beorn's house with our refugees in tow. Hearing of the bandit army, Beorn became fierce, and not many hours later a fighting force began to assemble. "We ride out in the morning! To Battle!"
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Jan 30 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: bandits , Beorn
Beorn's Quest (part one)
After guarding the Easterly Inn for a year, the wise hound Shadrach was ready to return home to his master. Dody asked us to accompany the noble canine back to Beorn's house. We set out at once, glad to stretch our legs again after a cozy winter.

It was a pleasant journey until Poppy's ears perked up at the sound of a boat bumping against the shore of the great river. Creeping closer to investigate, she came across a terrible scene: Two dead men lay in the boat, apparently felled by orc's arrows. Orc raiders this close to Beorn's home was worrisome.

We looked over the wreck, but the clues we found only heightened our fears: The men were clearly thanes of Beorn; loyal warriors entrusted by the great chief to protect and serve. At the bottom of the boat lay severed lengths of rope, and one of the thanes' swords was missing, as if a hostage had sat there but escaped in the chaos of the ambush.

Durim repurposed the boat as a funeral bier and we pulled the bodies of the men along the road to Beorn's house.

First the dogs came out to meet us, howling almost mournfully, and then Beorn himself came striding up on long legs and cried out "I know these men!" and bid us enter his home and tell him the story of how they had died. While we could only speculate on what had happened, his despair was tempered by appreciation for our returning the fallen beornings.

That evening there was a feast (delivered on sheepback and waited by dogs with the ability to stand upright on hindlegs), and a wake, and the Hound told him of adventures in the forest--a sad tale, but moving--and Durim related an unpolished, but very well received verse about our adventures rescuing Dindy in the High Pass. When the dwarf's account reached its climactic resolution, wherein we battled the goblin chief in his dining hall, Beorn cheered. Overall the mood of the Beornings was cheerful and reflective instead of somber, especially thanks to the presence of the delightful hobbits who sang and cavorted merrily.

That night, after Beorn had left and shut the door behind himself, Poppy woke to hear strange noises, like the sound of a large animal shuffling and snorting outside Beorn's hall. When she snuck out to determine the cause of these noises, she saw large tracks in the mud, like those of a huge bear, but could not see the source of them.

In the morning, Beorn had returned. A pile of dented helmets of goblin-make lay in a heap on a table--apparently the great man had been busy last night!

Over a delicious breakfast of honey-cakes Beorn told us more about the slain men, Odo and Merovech, who had left some time ago to act as roaming justices and settle disputes in the many towns under Beorn's protection. It appeared they had been returning with a prisoner who would stand trial at the Carrock, and that that prisoner had escaped, taking the pouch of silver they had carried.

As he had quickly grown to like us, the great chief asked us to complete a quest on his behalf: to track down the escapee and bring him back, preferably alive so he could face Beorn's justice.

We agreed, and set out at once. Heading south, we picked up a trail we hoped would lead us to our escapee. Following the signs we came across a slain orc, suggesting our quarry was a trained swordsman. Then we came across a kind farmer, who told us he had had a guest, a young man calling himself Oderic, who had paid him a whole silver coin for a night's rest. Now we knew our quarry's name, and set out on his trail once more.

Later, in the woods, we were attacked by an orc raiding party, evidence that the shadow is gaining strength in the North once more. We fended them off, slaying them to the last despite their leader's hideous toughness; Canna dove in front of his master and was wounded, but the Woodman dressed it neat and had no fear the dog would recover quickly.

We headed east, and met some men on the path who had heard of a man by that name who had been accused of murder in a village not far away, called Stonyford.

We picked up the trail and indeed it led to Stonyford. We were met with an odd hostility by the town elder, his daughter Ava (who was de facto leader of the village due to her father's advanced age) and an obviously inexperienced boy swordsman, who we learned had been promoted to town defender after the former holder of that title--a man named Rathfic--had been murdered.

Though defensive and reluctant to give us information, we were able to get some of the story around Rathfic's death. It was said that Oderic, foster son of a man named Helmgut, was a troublemaker, somehow entangled with Rathfic's wife, a young woman named Brunhild, and the conflict had somehow escalated into cold-blooded murder.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Jan 23 2013 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
The Goblin Feast
As Ubhurz the tall orc lunged over the fort of the small wall, the goblins behind him howled out their hatred and pressed in for a third attack. The Hound swung Wolfbiter, striking one of the goblins, but was grazed by an incoming arrow. I faced two goblins, while Drogo’s arrows struck one after another. Ubhurz’s mighty curved blade flashed in the dimming afternoon light, the Hound its target.

Durim, suffering under the blows of a few goblins, stood his ground and shouted, “Hold your ground! We’ll stand together and hold ‘em back. We’ll drive ‘em into the mud!” Our small party rallied, and Wolfbiter struck a deadly blow against one of the goblins. One of Drogo’s arrows whistled through the air, hitting Ubhurz in the chest causing him to howl again in rage. Ubhurz’s blade swept at the Hound, knocking Wolfbiter from his grasp. The bearded axe spun through the air, landing with a thunk in the dirt floor of the small fort. Durim shouted menacingly, and one of the goblins facing him turned to flee in fear. As the Hound dashed for his axe, the goblins bore down on us in a fierce attack.

Having suffered several blows from the goblins, I swung my sword to feebly defend myself, while Drogo’s trusty bow sent arrow after arrow into goblin flesh. Durim leapt to my defense, knocking one of the goblins to the ground. The Hound, having regained Wolfbiter, swung the axe in a deadly arc, taking off the knife-bearing arm of a goblin and sending it tumbling through the air.

In the chaos, I struck against one of the goblins, knocking him down. Another of Drogo’s arrows flew toward Ubhurz, but it struck the orc’s giant shield and he bellowed an evil laugh.

Durim called out once again, “Only three left, lads and lassie! Now’s the time to strike true!” In the brief lull, Hound swung Wolfbiter again at Ubhurz, who staggered under the blow. Durim’s own axe knocked down a goblin who splashed in the mud at our feet. Finally, just as Drogo’s final arrow killed the last goblin, Wolfbiter split the skull of the tall orc and we were dazed by the sudden quiet.

Durim and Drogo broke out in a cheer, the Hound brandishing Wolfbiter with a victory shout. Behind us, the three men huddled around Andy, shaken but relieved. Durim climbed over the body of Ubhurz, tearing off his armor and pushing the corpse down the steep hill.

“Where’s Dindy?” Drogo asked. Looking around we saw a torn scrap of Uncle Dindy’s vest near the hole out of the fort. From a distance, I heard the faint voice of Uncle Dindy shouting for help. Drogo dashed to the side of the fort where he saw Uncle being dragged away by more goblins. Durim ran after and we all followed, but when we reached the cave into which they’d taken my uncle we realized we’d need torches to pursue.

Drogo hurriedly retrieved the torches and we lit one and cautiously entered the cave. The dark tunnel was damp and dreary. Not at all like the soft, warm hobbit-holes of the Shire. This hole stank of bat droppings and fungus, and it was littered with the signs of goblin traffic. Briefly searching, the Hound and Canna picked up the trail of Uncle Dindy and we followed deeper into the mountain. The darkness and closeness of the passage weighed heavily on the Hound, though we smaller folk were not much hampered.

From deeper down the passage we suddenly heard the raucous, dissonant voices of orcs and goblins singing:

[goblin song]

Sneaking forward out of the range of our torch-light, I rounded a corner and could see two orcs sitting near the entrance to a chamber, passing a bottle between them. I quietly hearkened Drogo forward and together attacked the orcs from the darkness. Drogo’s arrow struck the first orc in the shoulder and my sword swung true at the other. In the confusion, Durim and the Hound rushed forward. The scuffle ended quickly, and the two orcs were too confused by our sudden attack to raise an alarm. The four of us peaked into the chamber and were quite surprised at what we saw.

Barrels, shelves, and larders were stacked with food, jars, and dishes of all sorts. A large cookfire burned in the middle of the room, some animal turning on the spit above it. And at a table just past the fire stood Uncle Dindy, hurriedly chopping potatoes. His hair was disheveled and his clothes tattered. Smears of dirt caked his face and knuckles. The dark stain of a bruise colored his forehead.

Drogo quietly approached, catching Uncle Dindy’s eye. “Shh! We’ll get you out of here in no time, Dindy.”

“Oh, it’s no use,” Dindy replied, pointing to his ankle. “I’m chained up. They told me I had to fix ‘em a grand meal, or they’d eat me instead. I s’pose it’s only a matter of time before they do anyway. You all get out of here! I couldn’t bear it if they got you too.”
“Nonsense,” said Durim, examining the chain. “Well, this chain is of fine make, not dwarven. I haven’t the tools to break the lock. Is there a key?”

“The goblin chief locked me up. I think he has the key. They’re all in the other room, singing their horrid songs. I’ve got to get this food ready! Get on out of here!”

From the tunnel on the other side of the chamber, we heard the faint sounds of approaching footsteps. I hid behind a barrel, Drogo inside another. Durim and the Hound flanked the door, ready for whatever might come through. Two goblins, carrying platters scattered with bits of fat and bone plodded into the kitchen.

The blades of Wolfbiter and Durim’s dwarven axe lashed out, killing them both simultaneously. As the goblins’ bodies toppled I slid forward to catch the trays they carried, but I was not fast enough. One slipped from my grasp and clattered to the floor.

“Oi! Where’d the cook go?” Durim shouted, giving his best impression of a goblin. Shortly, two orcs followed their goblin brethren into the chamber, while we crept back into our original positions. The orcs were well armored, but as they walked through the doorway, Durim’s axe took the head right off one of them. Hound buried Wolfbiter into the other’s belly, in another lucky blow.

All the while, Uncle Dindy muttered worriedly at his table, chopping potatoes and onions and filling a big pot. Durim asked him what the chief’s name was, clearly trying to hatch some sort of plan. As soon as Uncle Dindy spoke Durim shouted again in his goblin voice, “Hey Warkettle! We need you to open a can of butter in here.” But the goblins’ raucous laughter had picked up at the same and his shout went unheard.

Thinking up another plan, Drogo decided to creep down the corridor. Down the tunnel he went, finding at the end another large chamber. This dining hall, of sorts, was filled with several tables and nearly a dozen goblins and orcs. They were dressed in the remnants of Uncle Dindy’s caravan goods. Poorly fitted vests and trousers clad their filthy bodies. They gobbled up their food messily, sloshing flagons of beer and telling foul jokes in a mockery of refinement.

Drogo crept back up the tunnel and into a side passage where he found several barrels of beer. He uncorked the barrels, letting the beer spill out onto the floor. On his way out of the room, he came up face to face with a goblin whose arms were full of empty mugs. Surprised, the goblin let out a quick squeal just as Drogo’s arrow flew into his eye. The flagons dropped to the floor in a clatter, the noise silencing the goblin party beyond.

Two goblins clamored into the tunnel, Drogo fast at their heels. As they skidded to a stop outside the kitchen, Drogo smacked into their backs and they fell to the ground in a tangle of flailing limbs and gnashing teeth. I hurled myself onto the pile, desperately trying to free Drogo from their grasp. From above, the Hound’s blade whispered past me, cutting one of the goblins into pieces. Drogo and I untangled ourselves as Durim fought off the other and pushed ahead to meet the coming attack.

Our blades and wits were sharp in the darkness of the goblin tunnels. Goblins and orcs fell one by one. The goblin chief shouted from the rear, “How dare you interrupt my feast?”

“You fool!” Drogo called in reply. “Those clothes don’t even fit you!”

We fought once again for our lives, Durim’s rage like a shield before us. With a cry, Durim swung his axe at the goblin chief, hitting the foul creature.

“Dwarves in my caves? Unpossible!” The goblin chief’s own axe blade came down upon Durim, bashing his shield and knocking him back. Drogo, the Hound and I furiously defended ourselves from the mob of goblins and orcs. In a moment of folly, I dashed between Durim and the goblin chief’s axe, taking a perilous wound under the arm. I fell back to a safer position, but it was all I could do to defend myself further.

Durim and Drogo fought mightily against the chief, their blows glancing off his shield. Finally, Durim landed a lucky blow with his axe and the chief fell. “I may be a bad house guest,” he muttered, “but at least I don’t go ‘round stabbing poor wee lassies.”
The key was indeed in the chief’s pocket, and it was short work to free Uncle Dindy and retrieve some of the most valuable items we could carry from the goblin’s horde. Uncle’s trade goods were all but destroyed, and while he was dismayed at the loss, he was utterly relieved to head home to the Easterly Inn.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Jan 16 2013 from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
A letter
To Thrim, son of Lofir, shield-bearer of Erebor, friend of Lake Town.


I hope this letter finds you well. The winds gusting down from the Misty Mountains grow ever colder, but the young far-runner to whom I handed this message seemed confident he could deliver it before the first snows reach Lake Town.

I trust that all is well under the Lonely Mountain. Give Thofir and Dwali my greetings. I bide my time in a small inn, the Easterly, run by hobbits on the edge of Mirkwood and the Men-i-Naugrim. It is a gentle place, with good food and a warm hearth. Though separated from my kinfolk, with the forge of battle I have tempered some warm friendships among hobbit- and man-kind.

Although I hoped that we might have years of peace before the Shadow returned, I'm afraid I have grey tidings--the Mountains grow dark again, and goblins and wargs have been encountered on the roads. Indeed my new companions and I had hastened to the High Pass to rescue a hobbit man, Dindy, whose caravan was beset by orcs. After routing the wretched goblins, we were grief-stricken to find that our man had been kidnapped whilst the battle raged. We followed the goblins who had taken him into their caves, took them unawares, and slew their chieftain. Freeing the hobbit, we fled the caves exhausted and wounded.

I'd like to say that Thurim, Thorim and Khulim would be proud, but my heart whispers that no amount of goblin blood shed will bring my elder brothers back to me. Still, my vengeance is not yet finished, and I know that my place is here, in the mountains, and wherever orcs might still draw breath. Although it may mean my death, I will not relent when danger is near.

May your forge burn bright,

Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Jan 16 2013 from 7:30 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
The High Pass
Our small party stayed at the Easterly Inn all summer. Durim, from whom we’d been separated in the Mirkwood prior to reaching the Elven Halls, found his way to the inn shortly after we arrived there. He had been very worried about us, and was surprised at our troubled tale. His own travel through the forest had been mostly uneventful, and his only story from the road was that he witnessed a doe birthing her fawn.

One evening in early autumn my family and friends gathered in the inn’s common room to chat with the travelers who were staying the night. My brothers played quietly on the floor with our dog and Canna, while Drogo and Durim sat at the bar near a group of dwarves who’d come from the Misty Mountains in the west. Father sat at a table with a band of Beorning men, who spoke of bandits to the south in Gladden Fields. Though grim news, the men sounded certain that Beorn would soon roust them from their den and the roads would be safe once more.

As the evening wore on and mother had put the boys to bed I decided to retire to my rooms. I was reading quietly when I heard bootsteps in the corridor and the muffled sound of voices. Just as I set my ear to the door I heard Drogo exclaim, “Well of course we’ll go after him! Dindy’s been a family friend for years and if he’s in trouble then we must find him. We’ll have to set out early in the morning, though, if Poppy’s not to come. You know how she is. I understand Dody not wanting her out in the mountains after what happened in the Mirkwood, but she’ll be so angry if we try to leave without her.”

“Keep your voice down, lad,” huffed Durim. “Try not to wake the whole house. We’ll leave before dawn. Dody’s gathered supplies for us in the stable.” The bootsteps traveled back up the hall and Drogo’s door shut quietly. I began packing my traveling gear immediately. Not knowing how long we’d be gone, nor quite where we were headed, I tossed in an extra blanket and my fur-lined cloak. Uncle Dindy had gone back to the Shire in early spring to gather supplies for the inn and was expected back soon. Perhaps the dwarves had told some dark tidings that I’d not heard. Whatever the reason for their secrecy, I was not about to be left behind like a child. I know father has only the best intentions, but how am I supposed to learn of the wide world if I’m always shut up at home?

I scrawled a note to father, not to worry, I’d be safely back soon with Uncle Dindy in tow. I then gathered my things and snuck out the kitchen door to hide in the stable’s hayloft. When the Durim and the others set out in the morning I’d be quick behind them.

The first rays of light were breaking in the east when quiet rustlings below told of my companions’ departure. I quietly followed for some distance as they headed south. It was easy enough to hide behind bushes and trees and escape their notice. The land near the inn is safe and free of the dangers we’d seen in the Mirkwood, and though they traveled swiftly they did not set watches or look much behind them.

When I appeared in their camp after the first day’s travel, none of my friends seemed the least bit surprised. Durim smiled widely and moved to clear a space for me near the fire. The men then told me the full reason for our journey. It seems the dwarves in the inn told tales of goblins and orcs in the High Pass, and father asked that they go to check on Uncle Dindy. He’s been expected back at the Easterly Inn soon, but not heard from since he was in Bree a few weeks ago. Father insisted they not tell me, of course. But they never promised to send me home if I happened to appear in their camp.

The following few days saw our company pass over the Great River at the Old Ford, where we paid a small toll to a group of Beornings guarding the road. They had not seen any travelers on the road in some days, they said. The land to the west of the river was rougher and the road ill-kept. We climbed further into the foothills of the Mountains of Mist.

One evening as we rested by the fire, a tall man strode out of the dark and into our midst. He surprised us all, for even I had not heard his approach. His long beard was streaked with gray and his dark hat and cloak helped him blend into the dark night around us. The Hound challenged him to introduce himself, but the man merely grinned impertinently at him, his yellowed teeth bared in the firelight. He slid his pack off his shoulders and settled himself next to the fire.

“What brings you to our fire, traveler?” asked Drogo.

“Warmth,” grunted the man.

“But where have you come from?” asked Drogo.

“West,” he replied.

Though the man was certainly uncouth, he did not seem to be threatening, so I introduced myself and asked him for his name. “Shanker,” he grunted.

“What sort of a name is that?” Durim grumbled quietly to himself as he settled back down near us. Durim asked if he’d seen any trouble in the pass through the mountains.

“Ah, well, trouble’s relative. Nay, I’ve not seen much trouble,” he replied. He pulled out a pipe and began to smoke. Drogo noted that he was smoking Shire Longbottom leaf and asked if he’d been to the Shire or where he’d gotten it. Shanker spoke of meeting a merchant caravan within the pass, and said that they’d certainly be seeing trouble soon, from the sound of things. We asked him to explain himself and he said they’d been safe when he left them, but the howling of wolves could be heard through the pass and a slow moving party was an easy target for goblins.

Knowing we’d need to hurry into the mountain pass to find Uncle Dindy’s caravan, we set out early in the morning and climbed higher into the mountains. Into the cold and rocky High Pass we climbed, and at the end of the first day in the mountains we came upon the ruins of an old village.

Drogo examined the stone structures, where he found the remnants of recent campfires, and declared that this must be a goblin encampment of some sort. He insisted we not stay the night there, though shelter was plentiful. Durim, The Hound and I all scouted around for more clues, but a strange sense of foreboding befell us and we agreed to move on, though night was swiftly falling and the sun had already set well behind the high peaks to the west.

We found another campsite further up the path and settled for the evening. The night passed quietly and I slept for a few hours until The Hound woke me for the last watch. I sat near the smoldering embers, listening to the distant howling of wolves when a sudden draught of wind caused Durim’s tent flaps to whip loose. Turning to tie them shut once more I saw a shadowy figure hovering above the tent, its arms reaching in. I shouted to rouse the others and slashed wildly at the figure. My sword passed through the shadowed shape and its shrill cry drove fear into my bones as it turned to face me. The creature’s face was as a dead skull, grinning eerily out of its mirky form. It raised a misty spear and thrust it at me, catching my shoulder and throwing me off my feet. Durim’s snores finally ceased and he struggled out of his tent clutching his axe.

“Get back, foul creature!” Durim cried. “The Dwarves of Erebor will not stand for your kind encroaching on the land of the living!” The wight shrieked and shrank back from Durim’s anger as The Hound and Canna leapt snarling from the shadows. The Hound swung a burning ember from the fire at the wight and it shrieked once more and recoiled further from the camp. Dropping my sword and reaching to the fire, I grabbed my own ember and swung again at the beast. It leveled its spear at Durim, but the blow did not land. The hound struck again with his fiery cudgel and the wight gave one last howl and its form dissipated into the early morning fog.

Looking around the camp, we noted that Drogo was nowhere to be found. From the quiet gloom we heard his muffled cries and sped toward them. Buried up to his neck in a shallow depression, Drogo struggled to free himself. As we dug him out, he told us of how he’d been yanked out of his tent and thrust into the earth by the shadowy spirit.

“Wights like that mean trouble for travelers along this road,” declared The Hound. “We must find its remains and destroy them, to put the spirit to rest.” Though we did not want to waste any time finding Uncle Dindy, we all agreed that this was a worthy undertaking. After a short search Canna turned up the remains in a nearby bog. The bones were greatly decayed, and only scraps of the warrior’s armor still clung to them. A torq circled the neck, and as we cleared the soil away, four good-sized gems gleamed out from the rotting leather casement. We pocketed the gems and built a small pyre on which to lay the bones. As the fire consumed the bones, a dark, shadowy mist gathered around us and we heard again a shrill howl as the spirit’s last link to the world of the living was broken.

That task done, we hurried once more up the path into the mountains, drawing hopefully closer to Uncle Dindy and his caravan. The Hound spotted the caravan’s tracks, along with many traces of small, booted feet and we followed them into a gully. A pony stood quivering, an arrow jutting from its rump. After short work we quieted the pony, and led it with us out onto the path. Following the tracks again we came upon a sort of stone and earthen embankment.

“Stop right there!” shouted a voice from inside. “Keep back!”

“Ho there! Is everyone ok? We’re looking for a hobbit named Dindy,” cried Drogo.

Uncle Dindy’s head popped over the wall. “Here, here! Oh Drogo, hello. You’d better get in here quickly, we’re surrounded!” His head disappeared and we were welcomed into the tiny fortress they’d set up against the goblins. The Breelander men accompanying Uncle quickly told us of their trouble. It seems they’d been cornered by goblins and fending them off over the course of a few days. Ewgar, their leader, had been struck by an arrow and was suffering from foul poison. I prepared a poultice from my herb pouch to draw out the toxins and Ewgar’s eyes soon cleared. Durim set to quick work examining the stonework of the walls and shoring up weaknesses, and in the process noted the opening to a small dirty tunnel. Hopping in, I scouted down into the tunnel, which led out to the bottom of the hill. Peeking out I saw two bands of goblins approaching from opposite directions and a third band with orcs and goblins near me at the bottom of the hill. I scurried back up to report what I’d seen just as the first of the goblin arrows whizzed over the walls.

The four Breelander men, Ewgar Longleg, Bill the Bowman, Andy Blackthorn, and Tom Lumpyface defended one side of the fort, and our band defended the other. From outside, a tall orc stood and shouted, “Trapped in your little stone circle, like rats in your graves. Throw out your swords and Ubhurz will see that some of you live another day.” Andy Blackthorn quailed and reared back to toss his weapon out, but Durim leaped to the top of the wall and roared back. “Know this Ubhurz: the men you seek to kill are defended by the might of the Naugrim. Friends, we have the advantage here. The necks of these vermin will be hewn by good Dwarvish steel this day.” Andy rallied and stood taller, clasping the hilt of his sword tightly once more. The Hound and Canna leapt to the wall snarling and two goblins screamed and fled as the others flung themselves at our meager defenses.

Our blades flashed and Drogo’s arrows flew swift and true as we felled one goblin after another. The men at our backs struggled to hold off the goblins on their side of the keep. Drogo was assailed from behind, but it was short work to slay the goblin, whose jagged knife clashed against Durim’s axe. The fighting saw a brief lull and I noticed that Andy Blackthorn had suffered a wound to his side. I quickly tied the wound and Andy rallied himself once more. More goblins and orcs attacked as Ubhurz stood in the rear and laughed cruelly. In the hands of The Hound, Wolfbiter hewed the head off a goblin, sending it flying back over the wall. Canna’s growling sent more goblins fleeing, and while my friends and I took blows here and there, none of us were badly injured.

Cornered between a goblin and an orc, I struck first at the orc and then the goblin, and as my King’s Blade pierced the flesh of the goblin’s neck, Drogo’s arrow slew the lunging orc. Behind us Ewgar’s sword skewered the last of the rushing orcs and the men cheered.

From the side, Ubhurz the tall orc slunk over the top of the wall, his wicked scimitar held high above his head…
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 19 2012 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
Into Dark Places
Our journey through the dark Mirkwood has reached an end. As I sit safely in my family's chambers in the Easterly Inn, near a crackling fire and with a cup of tea at hand, I am still troubled by the events which carried us through that terrible forest. Though The Hound has well begun to mend, I'm afraid all of our spirits have taken a wound far greater than what befell his body.

~ ~ ~

As we walked through the blighted forest The Hound sensed a change in the air that foretold a storm. I hurriedly searched for shelter and just up the path found the strangest dwelling I've ever beheld. The stump of a giant tree hulked amid the forest, smoke rising from it's craggy top. After some deliberation, and The Hound searching for signs of habitation, I decided to seek an entrance amid the gnarled roots of the stump. In the deep twilight of the forest, I found a passage and wriggled my way inside. The room was low and lit only by the fire, which smoldered gently in the center of a ring of stones. An animal roasted upon a makeshift spit above it, and dried meat and herbs hung about the chamber on strings. Thunder cracked outside and I hurried everyone in just as the rain began to pour from the sky. Belgo and Baldor seemed much relieved to have so luckily found shelter. Yet The Hound and Drogo were increasingly wary, for we knew not what sort of man or beast made his home in the great stump. The Hound set Canna to watch near the entrance as we settled down to wait out the storm.

Presently we heard a scratching through the passage and a man came into the room. Well, I suppose I should say that his scent preceded him considerably, for he was the most filthy creature I have ever beheld. In my haste to find shelter, I had not carefully thought what kind of man might be living in the deep Mirkwood, but now it was revealed. As he turned his face to me, his haunted eyes bore into my very soul.

"Good day, sir. We were traveling though the forest when the storm broke outside. I hope you do not mind that we found your home and decided to shelter here. We mean you no harm and will be soon on our way," I said.

"Aye," he growled, voice gruff, "is it raining? Wet? Can't feel the wet. Can't feel naught but shadows. Shadows all round." He shuffled into the chamber, ignoring the enormous hound and crowd of damp travelers. His stringy hair shrouded him, and the reek of his filth enveloped us like a heavy fog. In one hand he carried a damp sack, which he dropped carelessly near the pile of furs and leaves that made up his bed. His other hand held a long spear. In the dim light of the fire, I saw that his wrists and ankles were badly scarred. "You got food?"

"Ah yes, sirree!" I broke off a piece of our travel rations and tossed it to him. He caught it in his grimy hand and shoved the whole thing in his mouth, devouring it in but a second.

"Care for some pipeweed, good sir?" called Drogo. "I've got some of the finest leaf this side of the Misty Mountains here to share with you."

"Don't got a pipe. Pipes like snakes, slide away through the shades. Take the leaf, though." The man's mumbled words barely reached my ears.

"Ah well, I've got an extra pipe!" Drogo packed the pipe, which the man stuck between broken and blackened teeth. He picked apart his roasted dinner, and ignored us while we ate our own meal. After dinner I recited a short poem I'd been composing about Mr. Baggins' adventures, but it was not very well received and the group was clearly growing drowsy.

"So, eh, mister," piped up Drogo, "what brings you to live out here in the dark woods?"

The man's face broke into a grimace, his brow furrowed and eyes narrowed. Before he could speak I began loudly strumming my lyre and singing a light rollicking tune, "Hop High." The man relaxed and sat back again in silence. As the song died down the man arose and shuffled over to his bed and settled down to sleep.

Taking his cue, we quieted down and set ourselves to rest. Not fully trusting our unkempt host, we decided to keep watch during the night. As I sat awake, listening to the rain pummel the roof and the wind raking through the branches outside, I overheard the stranger's gruff, mumbling once again from his corner. Though he stirred, he did not seem to wake and soon enough The Hound arose to relieve me. As the first beams of the mirky light of day came through the roof, our company roused itself and quietly retreated from the stinking stump chamber, out into the soggy and dripping forest. On the way out, our strange host sat up from his bed and spoke.

"Beware the skeleton who hangs from the gibbet! Skeleton lurks all around."

"Yes, well! Thank you, sir," I replied. "Thank you very kindly for your hospitality. You take care of yourself now. We'll sure keep an eye out for those skeletons!"

Though the rain had mostly ceased, the muck it left behind slowed our progress considerably. Exhausted and with low spirits, we trudged through the woods for several more days. Baldor was increasingly sullen and cool towards Belgo, who continued to worry the small wooden figure at his neck. The child's sunken eyes darted around the forest at every sound and he stumbled occasionally over roots and stones across the path.

~ ~ ~

As we walked, the air around us gradually warmed until we were quite hot. Stopping for a short break one day, The Hound turned to Drogo and I with something he had pulled from his pack. It shone dully in his hand, the metal tarnished from years of disuse.

"You know, it was the strangest thing," recalled The Hound. "This was given to me by our host as I sat up during my watch that night in the stump. I must have drowsed a bit, oddly, because suddenly he was right in front of me, with this in his hand. He didn't seem threatening, so I took it and put it away. Couldn't really see it in the dark anyway." He turned it over in his hand. "You know, these engravings... I think this is the axe, Wolfbiter. It was an heirloom of Woodland Hall, but lost many years ago." Strange indeed, that such a thing should fall into our possession.

After our brief respite, Drogo began scouting ahead and noticed something just off the path. He called back that he was going to have a look. As the Hound and I followed, Belgo dropped the reins of the ponies and bolted into the woods after Drogo. "Mama? Mama!" cried the boy. We ran after and through the trees we could just see what seemed to be the roots of a tree flailing up out of a stone well set in the ground. One of the limbs had wrapped itself around Drogo and another had Belgo by the legs.

"If you don't mind getting me loose, that would be nice," called Drogo. "What IS this thing? So very interesting..."

A root lashed out at the Hound and wrapped around his neck.

"Mama, oh Mama!" cried little Belgo, hugging at the roots that were dragging him toward the well's mouth. I slashed at the roots with my sword, but was also suddenly entagled. The Hound and I hacked at the limbs, but they squeezed until the Hound fell unconscious. In one lucky swipe I managed to free Drogo. Belgo wept and clung to the roots grasping him, even as they dragged him into the well. Soon the limbs receded, leaving Drogo and I sprawling breathless in the grass. Drogo seemed horrified at what had come over him. I tended to The Hound, who was unconscious and bleeding. His neck was badly bruised and he would not wake.

I crept closer to the well, though no sound stirred therein. Peeking over the side I could see down to the bottom, but it looked only to be soil, leaves, and sticks. A small ledge jutted from the side of the well, about halfway down. Determined to rescue the boy, I tied a rope around myself and beckoned Drogo to hold it steady while I went down to investigate. On the ledge I could see streaks of blood and as I looked closer at the floor below it bulged and rippled. As I was lowered just a bit further, I poked at the bottom with my sword and it gave just a bit and bulged up again. I sliced gently at the earthy mass below me and as it opened to reveal a sickly, grayish wet bundle, more of root-like limbs appeared all around. I shouted and Drogo pulled me up with all his might.

This time the limbs were sluggish and did not pursue me out of the well. As I caught my breath the truth of the situation dawned on me. Belgo was lost to us. Whatever foul beast dwelt in that well had surely devoured him, and it was beyond our power to save the boy.

With the heaviest hearts, Drogo and I carried the Hound back to the Elf Path where Baldor waited impatiently. "What has happened? Where is my son?" he bellowed as we appeared. In my fumbling attempt to relay our dreadful news, I'm afraid I only made things worse. Baldor sobbed and fell to the ground, weeping for his son.

Drogo and I could go no further, and the Hound was still wounded. Canna stayed faithfully by his side as we struck camp, though it was merely early afternoon. After we rested the Hound awoke, but Baldor still lay in despair. Drogo sat down beside him and tried to rouse in him some will to move on. Eventually Baldor did begin to move, though slowly and with little regard for the rest of us. After but one more day's walking we began to notice the tree cover becoming thinner and more daylight shining through.

We emerged from the great twilight of the Mirkwood into the grassy river valley near the Forest Gate. Baldor turned his cloudy eyes to us and bade us farewell. "I'll not be needing your services any longer. I'm heading south," he said.

Heading south ourselves, we asked him to stay at least until we reached the Easterly Inn, where father would surely put him up for at least a night. He agreed, and we came upon the inn as the sun was setting low over the distant mountain peaks. Baldor did indeed stay the night at the inn but was gone before we awoke in the morning. Uncle Dindy handed us the pay Baldor left for us, half the agreed amount.

~ ~ ~

We've decided to rest for the summer here at the inn. Father is quite pleased with that, and has also invited The Hound and Canna to stay while his wounds heal. Upon hearing my tale of our journey, father presented me with a very keen old sword that's been in the family for a few generations. My great grandfather found it many years ago, and it's been handed down ever since. The hobbit folk call such things "King's Blades," though if it ever truly belonged to a king I'll never know. Father says if I insist on gallivanting about Middle-earth I might as well have a decent blade at my side.

The Hound has decided to have the axe blade Wolfbiter reforged into a serviceable weapon. He's very happy to have it once again in the hand of a Woodsman and may one day return it to Woodland Hall.

Drogo is planning to take the summer to seek a bit of training in sword fighting, and I think The Hound is helping him out with that.

I'm still quite curious about those elves we met in the forest. I do hope I get the opportunity to visit again, and perhaps learn a few of those songs and a bit more about their long history. Strange to think they've been holed up in their caverns for so many years while the forest all around them teems with darkness and danger.

I cannot help but think of poor little Belgo and his terrible end. I hope that whatever glamour that foul creature had cast upon him did not lessen in his final moments and he perished believing he was in the loving embrace of his dear mother. May we all be so fortunate to find such an end.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 12 2012 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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A Sticky Situation
It took about three days to reach the Elven Halls upon the rafts. The ponies, though unfettered, stood stock still the whole time. I never saw a pony so well behaved. The Mirkwood loomed about us, dark as night. From the elvish lights on the rafts, we could see naught in the forest but the occasional dark flitterings of strange insects, and bits of webbing in the branches above. The trees on both sides were thick and dense, looming over the river through which we poled.

The elves are kind folk, and traded their stories of the Elven Halls for our own of the Shire. They told us of their king, Thranduil, and how they settled in the great Greenwood long ago. Over time, Shadow befell the wood and drove the elves underground in the north of the forest. The darkness, spiders, and other foul creatures of the Mirkwood today are the lingering evidence of the Necromancer's presence here, though he was driven out by Gandalf the Grey. The underground Hall of the elves remains, providing a retreat and a home for the elves of this forest. I told them of the rolling green hills, streams, and light-dappled woods of the Shire. I also invited them all to visit father's inn on the other side of the forest for the best Shire beer and pipeweed on this side of the Misty Mountains.

Eventually the river widened and the elves poled us into a cave, under a portcullis, and through a torch-lined tunnel deep into the earth. As the rafts pulled up to the docks, Baldor was greeted warmly by a richly dressed elf. Baldor introduced him as Lindar, and I greeted him in proper hobbit fashion. Can you believe he'd never met a hobbit? Lindar invited Baldor and Belgo to rest in his home, but asked us to remain in the storage areas near the docks. Not knowing how long we'd be staying here (and wanting to see the wondrous Halls of King Thranduil) Drogo managed to persuade him that we'd be no trouble at all. With Baldor's reassurance that we were indeed good folk, Lindar relented and we followed him deeper into the caverns. The halls were quite grand, in an elven sort of way. Quite comfortable, with lovely singing all around. Fresh food, wine, and plenty of rest were had there. Sadly, I could not find any sort of library or bookshelf in the whole place. Every time I tried to peek down a corridor some elf or another would turn up to distract me with a song or question about the Shire or hobbit customs. After every engagement, I'd find myself curiously back at my chamber.

After two days, Baldor gathered our party to journey onward. Lindar led us back out to the forest, warning us as we passed over a stream not to drink of it, for it was enchanted. He also warned us quite sternly to stay upon the Elf Path, as it was the only safe way through the forest.

Soon enough the Mirkwood once again surrounded us in gloom. Above and ahead we could see the evidence of great spiders. Drogo noticed them moving in the branches above, but found a deerpath for us to avoid their webs. Days wore on as we trekked through the darkness until one day we came upon a clearing. From the clearing we could even see the sky! Drogo found the remnants of an old campsite and we decided to rest for the day in the clearing. Drogo cooked for us a fine meal and we rested around the flickering firelight. I told stories to Belgo, who responded with a tale of his own. Several years ago, when he was just a small child, he and his family lived in Lake Town where his father was a successful merchant. One terrible day the dragon Smaug attacked the town and his father's house was caught in the dragon's flames. Baldor saved Belgo from the blaze, but his wife, Halla, perished. Baldor also lost quite a fortune in the fire, and ever since they'd been traveling and trying to make their way in the world. Belgo said that his father had never quite healed from that day, and he always tried his best to help his father in their travels.

During the night as I sat up for watch, I could hear Baldor tossing and mumbling in his sleep. Suddenly he sat up, stretched and rubbed his eyes. He mumbled some nonsense about getting better rest when you're awake and wandered away from camp to the nearby stream. After splashing his face and drinking the water he whipped about and shouted "Who are you? What have you done with my son? Where is my wife? The dragon is coming!"

"Baldor," I said, "it's me, Poppy. Don't you remember? Belgo is right here in the camp! He's sleeping, you'll wake him with your shouting. We're your friends." Belgo and the others awoke from the ruckus, sitting up. Baldor shouted once more and dashed off into the woods. The Hound and Canna sprang to action, following him into the woods. Though they picked up his trail they could not follow into the darkness without light. Drogo readied torches and the three of them set off after Baldor again. I stayed behind in the clearing with poor little Belgo, shouting for Baldor. "Where's my papa?" cried Belgo, as he worried the pendant round his neck. After a short while Drogo came back into the clearing and told me that they'd found Baldor's tracks and needed my help to find him. "Stay here with the ponies, Belgo" I said. "Do not leave the clearing. We will return very soon with your father. Never fear."

Drogo and I sped back off into the deep wood just as day was breaking. We met with the Hound who pointed us to markings on the ground that looked as if he'd fallen and been dragged. The marks led us into another clearing, this one strewn with the ruins of an old keep. Spider webs draped the broken walls and tower but we could see none of the spiders. Webbed sacks full of light knows what hung about and we noticed one bulky, wriggling sack swaying from the wall above.

The Hound leapt to the wall, adeptly dodging the webbing and scaling upwards. He quickly reached the dangling bundle and lifted it to cut Baldor free. As he freed Baldor from the webbing and slipped his rope under the dazed man's arms, a large spider skittered over the top of the wall. Drogo readied his bow and aimed at the dreadful thing. The Hound began to lower Baldor and the spider crept closer. Drogo loosed his arrow and it landed square in its nasty eye. The spider collapsed and curled its legs under. Just then more spiders appeared. I waited at the base of the wall as the Hound hurriedly lowered Baldor, and Drogo readied another arrow to shoot a spider on the wall. Baldor safely reached the ground and I helped him out of the rope. We ran to the edge of the woods to hide, but the spiders were too fast. Two spiders were attacking Drogo, two more were upon the Hound at the top of the wall, and one followed me to the edge of the clearing. I managed to sneak around the one near me to attack the spider on top of Drogo, who'd been ensnared by the beast's web. I stabbed at the hideous things as well as I could and one went down. As I distracted the spiders, Drogo got free of his webs and ran back out of the clearing. The Hound dodged a few attacks but was struck several times as he tried to climb back down the wall without falling. I struck down another of the spiders near me as the Hound was struck unconscious by the spider's biting fangs. I crouched and dodged, fighting for my life as one spider then another went down. From the edge of the clearing Drogo's final arrow shot, whizzing past the last spider, distracting it while I landed the killing blow. We shook the Hound awake and dragged him back into the relative safety of the woods.

Baldor seemed to have regained some of his senses and luckily hadn't run off again. Wearily we tramped back to the campsite where little Belgo stood crying. At the sight of his father, Belgo scrambled over and flung his arms around Baldor, crying "Papa, papa!" Baldor pushed him away roughly and would not speak. I tried to comfort Belgo as much as possible while we caught our breath and the Hound recovered his wits. We quickly left the clearing and the stream that seems to be the source of our trouble.

It is now a few days since the spider attack. Baldor is in a dark humor, and did not take the news of his wife's death well. Belgo is also increasingly withdrawn, though still steady with the ponies. His hand is always at his neck, worrying that curious little pendant he wears. We've come upon some blighted area of the forest. The trees are rotting around us, branches cracking and creaking as we pass. I do not care for this dreary place and hope we reach father's inn soon. A hot fire and warm bed will do us all some good.
Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Dec 05 2012 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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Epic × 2!
Having decided to go out herb-hunting for the afternoon, Drogo, Durim, The Hound and I tidily packed up our things and headed to the shores of Long Lake. Drogo decided he'd search along the beach to see if any of old Smaug's gems had washed up recently while Durim enjoyed the late spring sunshine. I'd just found a lovely little bundle of Kingcups and tucked one into my hair when The Hound alerted me to some sound coming from the direction of the woods.

Just as my ears perked up a young man-child burst through the undergrowth and rushed toward us, crying and calling for help. Through his sobs we learned that his father, a merchant, was in some sort of trouble - perhaps being threatened by brigands. We all rushed off with the boy to help.

The boy led us into the wood and down a narrow side-path to a clearing where three armed men were menacingly threatening an older man wielding a rather large stick. Durim planted himself squarely and challenged the armed men. After a brief and fruitless conversation with the ruffians, one attacked Durim. Fending them off was quick work for Durim and The Hound, while Drogo and I hung back a bit and tried not to get in the way too much. Luckily the two of us managed to land a few blows on one of the Big Fellows, causing him to surrender his sword. All the while, the fellow with the stick flailed it about and managed to whack the miscreants a few times as well.

Once the men were dispatched, the boy flung himself in his father's arms. We disarmed the Big Fellows and took their boots as punishment for their misdeed. Baldor, the merchant, thanked us and asked if we would accompany him back west through the Mirkwood, to serve as protection. We agreed to do so, as I think my father would like to see that I made it all the way through the Mirkwood and back unscathed. Belgo, the merchant's young son, rounded up their pack ponies and we headed off into the Wood.

Baldor seemed to be quite the worry-wort, jumping at every twig-snap and fussing over little Belgo. However, along the way he told us we would be meeting up with some elves who would raft us down the river to the Elven Halls, from whence we would travel on foot. When we reached the river, the elves greeted Baldor and Belgo warmly and began unloading the packs onto the rafts. Now here we sit atop the rafts on the Forest River, on our way down to the Elven Halls.

What a day it has been! I have a feeling there is more to this merchant than meets the eye, but he and his son seem like decent folk and it's always nice to have good company on a long journey.

Session: Game Session - Wednesday, Nov 28 2012 from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM
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