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 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
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