You would think from the silence that nothing RPG has been happening in my life. The Mirkwood campaign went quiet as the summer holiday season kicked in and certain members of the group moved house. Even now we can’t seem to organise a day before Christmas to play. My work on the next part of the Cloak of Zahara has become bogged down in me doing a bit of world-building for the plot to work and my commitments to the Imaginary Turtles Collective, which I can finally start to mention.
It has been a bit of a slog and a lot of mission creep but we are in the final stages of publication. Check out the website for more information.
Our budding Bounders are taking their ease in the Midnight Rooster at Wibblesham when they are summoned urgently to the nearby village of Crissingham. The breathless messenger explains that two of its citizens have been mysteriously turned to stone and that Mayor Twofoot wishes the support of the Sherriffs to investigate. Spurred on Alvi, Aelfric and Brega are soon at the village Grange where most of the villagers have gathered in a worried mob around the Mayor. It appears that another four villagers have been turned to stone. Mobbed in a chorus of voices some fear a fearsome monster, others a snake or perhaps some kind of bat or miniature dragon. The midwife reports seeing a chicken in the window of a building near where one of the victims were turned to stone.
Reflecting on the information Aelfric remembers the tales of his Granny about a fearsome creature of sorcery called a Cockatrice. A mixture of chicken, snake and bat that could turn a man to stone with its beady gaze. Once these were released by evil sorcerers to terrorise villages back before the men from the West Isle came to the shores of Middle Earth. Armed with this mythical knowledge, the party cautiously enter the Market Square to investigate. With a “cluck cluck” leading them on, with the exception of Alvi, they take precautionary action by hiding in the nearest house. There is a moment of embarrassment and then a plan is hatched. Soon the Cockatrice is spotted with the chance of surprise. Brega immediately launches a Shock Bolt at the monster and alerts it to their presence. Unfortunately, both Aelfric and Brega are immediately turned to stone by the Cockatrice’s beady gaze. Luckily, Alvi holds her nerve long enough to launch into a soothing tune that sends the capricious chicken to sleep, at which point she dispatches it before it can reawaken.
Alvi attempts to revive her companions but they appear to be immune to any method of revival that she has at her disposal. Bravely, she explores further to check if this was the only Cockatrice. At the statues of Pancho and Sago Foxburr (the first two victims) she finds the remains of an oily, iridescent eggshell in the hen coop but no more. Reassured she returns to the Grange to inform the Mayor that the problem has been solved. The villagers though are uncertain and decide to wait out the night at the Grange.
During the evening Alvi has a strange conversation with a sandy-haired hobbit called Latana. She admits to feeling guilty as she was the one who gave Pancho the egg (the boy loves chickens). She hints that she did not acquire the egg by legal means and it may have come from a tower in the nearby Red Hills across the Brandywine.
Soon Pancho and Sago are found alive and unfrozen and this is swiftly followed by other villagers until finally Aelfric and Brega are also fully mobile again. Alvi shares her findings with her companions as the village begins to return to normal. They decide that Latana and her role in discovering needs investigating further.
Having saved the Polliwot hobbits and the local Eriadorians from the Orc raiding party the thrown together band of heroes feted and weighed down by as much victuals as can be spared consider where to travel next. Pick, Billwise and Dagaard, already feeling obligation to the memory of Limolas, wish to travel back to Caras Celairnen to deliver the recovered crystal to Mithparvandir. Ydal and Denig lacking horses and any definite destination join them.
Mysteriously, Mithparvandir is no longer at his lodgings in the Causeway district. Windows and doors boarded, it appears that the scholar has not been in his lodgings for many weeks. The party decide to find lodgings in an out of the way inn where Denig’s stone features will attract less attention. They end up at the Captain’s Daughter in the Shore District where Hrothgar is used to strange adventurers.
After a few days of welcome idleness, the party is visited by Mithparvandir who is looking travel weary and strained. It turns out that he has come for more than the crystal recovered from Elvellon manor. He has discovered the location of a second crystal in the long deserted lands of Hollin. However, he clearly fears other forces are searching and tells the party that they should have little contact so that the watchers will be unaware of the connection.
More concerned about her missing Mearas and its lack of return, Ydal sets off alone to search for her missing horse. The remaining adventurers, gather supplies for the road and set out along the East road for the bridge over the Hoarwell where they plan to head south into Hollin. The journey is relatively uneventful apart from a poor attempt at highway robbery that left the remaining miscreants running for the hills.
The party travel on into the haunted lands of Hollin, dogged by the sense that they are being watched. Each day there seems to be a crow somewhere in the sky on a nearby holly tree. Yet, aside from this, they travel to the site of the Villa of Casaredhel without incident.
The ruins of the villa lie in a valley which helpfully supplies the party with a vantage point to survey the lie of the land. Deciding it is relatively safe, Billwise sets out to scout the ruins. He notes the passage of some large creature from a small out building where a natural cave leads underground and calls the rest of the party to investigate. They are unable to determine what type of creature but are unwilling to enter into its den to discover its nature. Instead, assuming it is nocturnal, they investigate the ruins and discover two potential entrances that lead to under the villa. The first is clearly a trap door built for easy access to whatever lies below and the second is a small gap in the hypocaust that would allow a very tight crawl without armour.
After Billwise has crawled some way through the latter and discovered that this route leads to the lair of the beast, the adventurers choose the trapdoor and the stairs down. They cautiously enter and explore a small work room complex which has been emptied many centuries ago. All that remains are a few forgotten scraps of parchment with Dwarvish runes and Tengwar script. The Dwarves easily decipher the runes which appear to be part of a text on a weapon forged to defeat the dragons of the first age that used the heart of a dragon. Should the weapon be discovered and broken then the dragon would be released. The Tengwar is just gibberish and they decide to wait and find a translator later.
In the main workroom there are three levers by an iron door. Fearing a trap but also thinking that they open the doors, Denig tries each lever in turn. No disaster befalls the adventurers and finally they push on opening the doors that lead to the forge room. It is here that they discover another crawl space that leads to the beast’s lair. Careful searching also reveals a secret room in which a casket sits on a pedestal. Denig uses a series of intuitions to determine the nature of the rooms traps and finding that removing the casket will result in the deaths of all the party advises that taking it and running is not an option. They party spend much time debating how to defeat the trap and after a very slow lock pick and an ingenious use of an axe to prevent the exit of a trap dart confirm the presence of the crystal in the casket. Again Denig intuits that removing the crystal would result in everyone’s deaths as the ceiling collapses in workroom. Much discussion revolves around replacing weights and and bracing until the party realise that there is a way out of the room without being crushed by rocks. Only it also involves the beast in the lair, which most suspect is a troll.
Billwise is dispatched through the narrow tunnel to confirm this. Unfortunately, he also disturbs the troll in its sleep and a failing arm crushes a hobbit toe. The hobbit yelps in pain awakening the troll and although Billwise escapes safely the troll is now aware of strangers. The troll, is also very keen for a bit of dwarf pie as pickings have got a bit lean in recent years. Not being keen on fighting the troll underground the adventurers agree to go outside and wait for the sun to set and the troll to emerge.
So as the valley is cast into shadow, our worthy heroes confront the enraged troll as it emerges from lair. Denig fires a flaming arrow which seems only to make the troll angrier and Billwise leaps from behind to attack from behind with little effect. Meanwhile, the dwarves close with the colossal foe and Pick leaping high slams his war hammer into the troll’s sternum driving bone splinters into its heart. The troll reels backwards almost crushing Billwise as it does so. Having anticipated a mighty battle the rest of the party look a little crest-fallen: although are also relieved.
After rooting through the troll lair and recovering a few items, the adventurers prepare to remove the crystal from the secret room. At the last minute Pick realises they had not thought through how the hobbit was going to climb up to crawl way entrance in the forge room. A hasty escape route built out of ramps from old bookcases and all is ready. Billwise retrieves the crystal without incident apart from the ceiling collapsing where expected.
The adventurers then spend the next day investigating the ruins and obelisk in the wood in case they have missed something but are unable to discover any other hidden passages. With nothing left to loot and feeling rather out of pocket on this quest they set off back towards the Last Bridge. They have travelled a few days onto the Ettenmoors, again with the crows shadowing their journey, when they are attacked by a band of Orcs. The Orcs attack with savagery clearly bent on recovering the crystal. Most of the party are asleep and slow to rouse putting them on the back foot. Both Dagaard and Pick are significantly wounded being hard pressed on all sides. Billwise attempts to draw off an Orc by running away, a tactic that proves ineffective, forcing Billwise to seek a rear advantage in close combat. The stone-skinned Denig battles with magical energies but only gains a small advantage before being forced back into a defensive stance. Soon though the Dwarven hammers are hitting their marks and orcs fall until none stand.
Pick and Dagaard’s wounds are healed by Denig, and the untouched Billwise removes the orc bodies. The adventurers are a little concerned about the nature of the attack and puzzled at how the orcs knew they had a crystal and why they would want it. However, they are soon back at the Last Bridge Inn and such musing can be done at leisure and in safety.
Rewards and Reputation
Billwise gains a satchel of a long forgotten explorer containing a +10 OB dagger, +5 Pick Lock kit, a map of the villa somewhere and a leather pouch with 50TP. Denig receives Time’s Arrow (+20OB sends target back 10 secs in time) and a Rune of Restoration. Pick has gained the monicker of Troll Slayer amongst the party.
As with most councils of war, the subject of leadership and planning reared its ugly head. Denig, the stone man, counselled that he and Ydal should scout the area to assess the location of the Orcs camp. Billwise and Pencho disagreed complaining that the Big People were as noisy as Dwarves in chainmail. Although Pick and Dagaard did not express much of an opinion, it was Pick who swung the vote of all the adventurers towards Billwise’s plan and grudgingly, the stone man was forced to agree.
After a second breakfast, Billwise and Pencho stealthily set off into the woods. Billwise is shown how a Hobbit could move undetected by others through the wood and notice large patches of sunlight where the pursuit of Orcs could be hindered. Following a sunken road, they find an abandoned ruin which appears to be occupied by two Orcish shamans. Below, in a dark defile, a large number of Orc voice can be heard, indicating the main body of the force is larger than the number of adventurers and Hobbits. During their time scouting the area, a cloaked figure, who carries a distinctive pipeweed odour, arrives and converses in Morbeth with the Orcs. Billwise and Pencho, not speaking the language, understand none of this but do catch a few words spoken. They continue their scouting, noting the small patrols of Orcs moving through the wood and a set of riverside huts in which prisoners appear to be kept.
Back at the smial, the scouts inform the council of what they have discovered. The adventurers all agreed that the first task is to free the prisoners, who are probably being kept as a food store. With two Hobbit guides, the adventurers travel through the woods to the riverside without any untoward events unfolding.
Near to the huts, the party formulate a plan. Denig insists that he and Ydal can pacify up to ten Orcs and insists that they are the only ones to enter the camp and that the rest attack any fleeing Orcs first. The Dwarves are unconcerned so long as Orcs are killed and Billwise prefers to wait and see what unfurls before to committing to combat.
As Denig and Ydal move towards the hut where the Orcs appear to be sheltering from the day, they are surprised by a hidden sentry. Ydal attempts to cast her Calm spell but is unable and so retreats. Denig charges to the door of the hut and cast his Calm spell on the occupants of the room. Immediately, one of the occupants relaxes into a calmed state. Unfortunately, the other five are very much active and with a sentry charging, he looks to be very much in trouble.
Realising his only hope is to hold the doorway until help arrives, Denig chooses to engage one Orc in the doorway and ignore the sentry. Ydal shoots wide in haste and the Dwarves rush in, whilst Billwise seeks an opponent to shoot. Soon the sentry is felled by Dagaard but the remaining Orcs seek to escape through the flimsy rear wall. Denig is driven back by the Orc’s charge but both appear evenly matched. At the rear of the hut, both Dwarves engage the remaining Orcs, war hammers breaking bone like winter twigs. At the front, Billwise races through the trees and with element of surprise dispatches the Orc fighting Denig with a thrust through its backbone sending it reeling back into the hut. Unfortunately, the act also disarms Billwise. Fortunately, there are no more foes.
After freeing the captives, the valiant heroes and the weary, starved prisoners return to the smail where the immediate concern is where to house and feed the extra mouths. This is closely followed by decisions about how to remove the Orcs from the woods!
Returning from their audience with the King of Arthedain and feeling very smug that they are now Royal Rangers, Pick and Limolas meet up with Billwise and Dagaard at the King’s Rest. In the common room of the inn they adventurers listen to the news of the prevention of an assassination and roaming bands of Orcs. They talk to the recovering Galabron and gain information about strange events by the Royal Barrows and of bandits on the southern Greenway.
Refreshed and resupplied the party sets of along the Greenway.The first night out and Pick observes a passing group of wandering elves passing to the west. Although notes this event he does not consider it significant and tells no-one in the morning. The heroes continue southwards until they near the Royal Barrows where they climb the high hills of Tyrn Gorthad to investigate. The sun shines on the burial tombs of the last King of Cardolan and his sons. The party spend a day investigating and foraging for food without incident and so continue on their journey toward the Manor of Elvellon.
Nearing the region in which Elvellon Manor is located the adventurers come across a canvas-sided caravan studded with arrows. Using his uncanny ranger abilities Limolas is able to intuit that a previous associate by the name of Jeremiah Fallowhide was here recently. Just as he informs the rest of the party of this fact, who should poke his head out of the canvas flap than the aforementioned manic hobbit. Jeremiah explains to the party that he was embarked upon his latest mercantile adventure of transporting some Dwarven steel ingots down to the kingdom of Saralainn when he was attacked by Dunlending bandits. Escaping only by good fortune where his guards did not, Jeremiah has been camped out in his wagon with no way to go forward or back. He looks upon the arrival of the heroes as another sign that fortune on his side as they will surely chase down the bandits and recover his goods for him. However, this time the Pick and Limolas are less than willing to risk all for the unhinged merchant preferring to stick to the task of finding the crystal. Yet, when Jeremiah describes the direction that the bandits went in (confirmed by Limolas’ tracking skill), they agree to keep an eye out. After some pleading by Jeremiah, they also leave the hobbit with some food to allow him to wait out the time it takes for them to investigate.
So it was that the adventurers began to climb into the hills of Cardolan following the tracks of the Dunlendings and away from the Greenway. Within half a day the party had sighted the ruins of Elvellon Manor and noticing smoke rising, approached the ruins with caution. Both the Elf and Hobbit scouted ahead of the less stealthy Dwarves and in doing so discovered the bodies of fifteen slaughtered Dunlendings. Limolas and Billwise returned to the Dwarves and reported what they had seen and the party then entered into the ruins to secure the area.
In the ruins of the keep, there are signs of a hurried defence against superior numbers of possible Orcs and something bigger which has pulled the heads of some of the Dunlendings. The party discover two heavy chests and decide to leave these until they have explored the area more. Scouting further the heroes discover a sunken room in which two small Goblins are sheltering. Quickly, they dispatch the two small Orcs and then proceed to investigate the wall on which a freize of Dunedain princes in battle with Orcs is painted. Limolas quickly discovers a secret door and also that further in are more Orc guards.
After a quick discussion to plan an attack, the adventurers decide to rush the guards with the Dwarves cutting off any escape as quickly as possible and Limolas and Billwise wounding the guards with missile fire. It takes less than a moment, for the party to quell any resistance and none of the Orcs escapes to warn their companions. Justifiably, the heroes begin to feel very pleased with themselves.
Cautiously, the heroes explore the underground complex. In one room, Limolas sets off a trap that releases a cloud of mist, but it seems that the trap has deteriorated with age. Further in, they party locate the rest of the Orcs and decide to leave the area rather than risk a confrontation with a large party of Orcs. Consequently, they descend to the next level.
Below, in a great hall, the party come across a depressed Troll moaning about being sent down below by the Orcs and not being wanted. The Troll’s misery doesn’t last for long and the heroes begin to explore further. At the far end of the hall, there are two doors protected by wards. In his exploring, Limolas discovers a secret passage which leads to a number of rooms not accessible through the two additional, unwarded doors that lead off the main hall.
The party explore several rooms down the secret passage. A plain blue room appears to have some sort of magical properties but not understanding the lore of magic, the heroes move on. An alchemy laboratory and plush room are soon explored and the party of soon loaded with a few additional weapons and a few potions of unknown use.
The explorers descend another level and discover an ossuary full of bones, which unfortunately animate as they enter the bone repository and the party are suddenly outnumbered. Dagaard full of war-like confidence charges in and engages the skeletons, closely followed by Pick who joins more out of a sense of Dwarvish solidarity than a real desire to wade into a room full of walking bones. Limolas remembers that a bow is ineffective and belatedly puts away his bow and joins the battle with his longsword drawn. However, this prevents Billwise from entering the room. Quickly, the adventurers dispatch the skeletons, helped in the most part by the Dwarven hammers.
A door led off the room, which of course being adventurers, they opened. Unfortunately, the room was home to a Wight which immediately attacked. Pick overcome with fear ran in panic leaving only three to face the fearsome undead. Heroically, the three fought against the malicious spirit vanquishing it with their combined might. Finding no treasure the three victors went in search of the missing Dwarf.
Sometime later, having recovered Pick, the adventurers continued their exploration of the third level. The party began to wonder at the purpose of the crypt when the discovered a bier in a room decorated with a scene taken from the lays that appeared to show Morgoth triumphing over the Elves. Beyond this room lay a discovery that only served to confirm this idea. Behind a rotten door, the party were met by a hideous sight. A creature composed of the flesh of many humanoid creatures roiled in the darkness. Many heads and limbs seemed to lurch out towards the surprised adventurers; Limolas barely escaping the first grasping hand. Battle was quickly enjoined; Dagaard was nearly lost to the folds of the creature but for the arrow loosed by Billwise which finally incapacitated the creature.
Relieved, the party continued on and after dodging some caustic slime by using their shields as protection, discovered a cave system. This is where Pick took the lead, a confident caver he determined that one route might lead to the surface. The adventurers decided to investigate this first to see if they could escape the caverns without having to go past the Orcs on the first level. Eventually, they reached the open air and debated what would be the next course of action. Knowing that rest was needed and worrying that the horses might be discovered by the Orcs they decided to return with the horses back to the Greenway and Jeremiah Fallowhide.
The adventurers reorganise back at the Greenway. Jeremiah’s caravan is pulled off the road and the horses and heavier items of loot are stashed with the hobbit. With a rest period completed, Pick, Dagaard, Limolas and Billwise return to the caverns and resume their explorations. They soon discovered a bridge crossing an underground river and beyond this a cavern that led to steps up to a metal door. The only problem, four skeletons that guarded the door. Dagaard rushes recklessly to engage the skeletons. After being victorious over skeletons recently, the now more confident Pick and Limolas quickly join him. The battle appears to go well until Limolas is caught off-guard and finds himself skewered by a skeleton’s sword. Having dispatched the remaining skeletons his companions rush to his aid but they are too late, Limolas’ spirit is already travelling to the Valinor. Having noticed a subterranean lake, the heartbroken party dispatch the Elf’s mortal remains to the depths of the lake along with his beloved fishing gear. From the depths, a giant catfish breaks the surface before diving to the depths once more.
Determined to find the crystal so that Limolas’ death would not be in vain, the hobbit and dwarves return to exploring. More skeletons block their path and locked rooms thwart them. Until eventually, they discover the crystal sitting in a casket. Unfortunately, it sits behind a set of iron bars which also appear to have prevented a number of skeletons from escaping, judging by the armour and the desperate way two cling to the bars. Pick devises a plan to lift the bars and wedge them open with a stone from a nearby empty sarcophagus. This plan has to be slightly altered when they realise that Billwise is incapable of moving the heavy stone lid into place under the bars as the Dwarves lift the metal obstruction.
Stealthily, Billwise moves across the room amongst the scattered skeletons to pick up the crystal. As he reaches to take the crystal he hears a scraping sound as soft a paper. It soon becomes apparent that the skeletons are reanimating, which means it is time for a quick exit. Thankfully, only two skeletons escape before the bars are lowered back into place and these are swiftly dispatched by the three companions, who then vacate the area for safety.
Taking stock of the aims of the exploration, the adventurers decide the cost has been high enough with the death of Limolas and that with the profits from Jeremiah’s ingots and the contents of the captured from the Dunlendings there are sufficient rewards to support further adventuring. As a result of the discussions, the party return to Jeremiah with a chest containing 20,000CP and the ingots.
A crown with some jewels – value unknown
Five potions of unknown use
A collection of short swords, daggers and arrows
5 ingots of dwarven steel +5 belonging to Jeremiah (% of profits)
Handaxe that glows red at evil or undead the party aren’t really sure yet.
Collect the crystal shard from the ruins of Elvellon Manor
The party of two dwarfs, an elf and a hobbit were instructed to enter Bree and listen for rumours and information that might be vital to the house Noirin or the Crown. Billwise, who has family in Bree, decided to visit distant cousins in Chetwood to discover if they had any news. Dagaard, feeling that his main purpose of discovering the mysterious poisoner was being side-tracked, went off in search of other hints and rumours. So it was Limolas and Pick who rode into Bree to the King’s Rest to discover what they could about the current state of events.
A lively mixture of travellers were gathered along with a large number of locals. Pick naturally gravitated towards the two travelling dwarves in the room and discovered that in Moria things are unsettled, with rumours of increased clashes with goblins under the Misty Mountains. Limolas, being the open and innocent abroad, tried to strike up conversations with everyone in the room, and was confused to be rebuffed by a group of Rhuadrrim fur traders. Finally, he found easier conversations with One-armed Harry, a veteran of the Northern marches campaigns. By the fire, a wandering minstrel is entertaining the crowd with a lively mix of tales and song, an island of merriment amongst the heated arguments raging in the bar.
During the evening, a fifth Rhudaurian enters and joins his countrymen. The arguments and jibes clearly disagree with him as he is soon spitting insults at all an sundry as he leaves the bar. Moments later, his companions gather their bundles and also leave, followed soon after by the minstrel. Curious, Limolas follows and as he nears the entrance to the stables hears a shout. Closely followed by a cry of pain. Risking a look into the stable yard, Limolas notices the minstrel prostrate on the floor and the Rhudaurrim mounted and about to ride rapidly from the gate. Letting the horse pass, Limolas rushes into the courtyard to give aid to the fallen bard. The bard croaks a warning about an evil plot but no more before he passes out. Limolas rushes into the inn to gain more help in assisting the wound songster.
In the commotion of discovery, the grandson of King Argeleb reveals himself to the patrons of the inn and requests aid in pursuing these enemies of the realm. Already feeling that they should involve themselves, given their newfound status as retainers to House Noirin, Limolas and Pick step forward.
Swiftly, the party saddle horses and set off up the North road in pursuit of the Rhudaurrim. At the North gate, they find the guards have been drawn off and only a single gatekeeper, rendered unconscious, remains. Fearing losing ground, the party push on, hoping that the recumbent fellow will be found soon. The trail is soon located by Limolas and the hunt under a full moon is on.
Through the darkness, the hunters continue on the trail of their quarry, who are making little effort to hide their trail as they pass into the woods north of Chetwood. As the pursuers, exit the darkness of the wood into a night lit by a full moon they spy the riders fleeing towards the Weather Hills. In the distance, Limolas notices a dark figure stood high on a rocky outcrop. A chill in the air becomes noticeable. Mist begins to form. Soon, the quarry is lost, as is the moon, in a thick white fog. Sound becomes muffled and shapes loom out of the mist as the party pick their way into the broken terrain of the Weather Hills.
Dawn and the rising suns weak light casts an eerie glow when Pick’s sharp eyes spot a hidden attacker. His swift warning alerts the party and soon a swift combat is finished without incident. Well except for the inexplicable moment where Pick winded himself by overreaching his killing blow.
On into the mist, the party intensely followed the trail of the final conspirator. All the while progress was hindered by the mist and the fear of another ambush. As evening closed in, the party were stopped in their tracks when they heard voices ahead. Limolas slipped into the mist, leaving his companions virtually unaware of his absence. Moving into a safe position, Limolas was able to observe two shadowy figures in the mist yet the conversation carried to his companions further back. The conversation revealed a plan to sow chaos with a raid by the Orc-band led by Gashtrak and in that chaos, using stolen uniforms, to waylay the emissaries from the south who were making their way to the conference. Furthermore, a man of noble bearing and mixed Dunadan/Hillman blood appeared to secure the uniforms. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the mist gave way and Limolas was revealed.
Realising he was outnumbered, by a large band of Orcs, now no longer hidden by mist, Limolas ran yelling warnings as he went. The party were thus able to prepare and although the party were outnumbered two to one they valiantly vanquished the foe. Although, Limolas managed to not only fell his own mount (without injury) in a misguided attempt to ride over the rocky difficult terrain.
Encouraged by the Prince, the party set out in pursuit of the mysterious mastermind. The mist had thickened again. The sun had drifted below the horizon. Darkness was falling. Slowly, lupine muzzles slipped out of the darkness. The party froze. A band of Wolf riders led by an imposing brute of an Orc began to drift into vision. Belegil identified the Orc as the feared Gashtrak. The party turned tail and fled.
Heading south in the hope of reaching the forces encamped around Amon Sul, they rode with wargs nipping at the very heels of their mounts. Time elongated. Fear rose in their hearts and turned to elation when the lights of the campfires became visible. Spurring their mounts to the limits of endurance, the party raced the wargs to safety. Finally, safety was assured as cavalry sallied forth in defence.
There were meetings and representations. A prince was reprimanded. Limolas and Pick were rewarded with citizenship and the King’s hand. The found that they were also honoured to be amongst the Royal Rangers and additional responsibility that left them wondering what would happen next. Meeting with their liege, the Dame Noirin, they managed to argue for a leave of absence in which to fulfil previous obligations, which was granted but with conditions.
Limolas and Pick have now been granted citizenship of Arthedain and granted rank within the Royal Rangers. Each has received a silver brooch that is the symbol of the Rangers and instructions to join the training base at Fornost. They have been granted permission to continue the investigation of a ruin in the Cardolan waste, but must also investigate rumours of strange things in Tyrn Gorthad on the way.
Limolas and Pick are resting in one of the local hostels in Caras Celairnen when they are approached by a small hobbit by the name of Billwise. The enthusiastic hobbit is interested in the pairs recent adventure and appears to be over friendly but as he is buying the drinks the pair humour him.While they are in conversation they are approached by a nervous scholar by the name of Mithparvandir who offers them a chance to find treasure if they will recover items for him from distant locations that would prove difficult for the scholar to enter. He is unwilling to specify what these might be as he is afraid of being overheard in such a place that promises to meet them later in the day at the Causeway gate and explain if they agree to help him.
As the spring sunshine fades and the warmth leaches from the air, the three adventurers wait for Mithparvandir by the gate. Late traffic is leaving the town, including a travelling knight and his retinue. Soon though these sights are forgotten as the Mithparvandir arrives with a sorry looking mule loaded with food for four weeks travel. He explains that he is afraid that other treasure hunters might reach the hidden locations in the site he has discovered. Also explaining that he is still deciphering some ancient texts that hint at a hidden treasure trove which requires some kind of key. Cautiously, the three accept the commission a little unsure of if the deserted mansion in the fallen realm of Cardolan will still contain treasure.
Before setting out, Pick decides to see if Dagaard will join them and, after a long conversation about gems after visiting Dagaard’s workshop, Dagaard agrees to join the party.
The journey is uneventful, apart from discovering that Billwise’s claim to be an excellent cook is false.At the end of the second day, the sun setting red and a storm closing in, the party notice the knight and his retinue ahead. Closing quickly in the hope of sharing a campsite for the night, Limolas spots a party of what looks like bandits preparing for an ambush. The adventurers hurry to the wooded defile, which although a good place to camp is also a good site for an ambush. Elf and dwarves task the newest member of the party to baggage duty, not trusting his size in battle and doubting his temperament and skill. Limolas, raced ahead and soon his sharp eyes spotted an old adversary amongst the bandits, Culwine.Unfortunately, the elf’s progress and those of his dwarven companions is noticed; a pair of bandits break off to intercept the adventurers.
Limolas, bow in hand, fires and although injuring one bandit, does nothing to halt their progress. He runs. The implacable dwarves continue their steady progress and soon battle is joined. Limolas continues to offer missile support. Doughty Dagaard dispatches his opponent quickly. Pick drops his weapon and is forced to use his shield in both offence and defence. Meanwhile, a poor pack mule enters the arena of combat as the remaining bandits join their companions in battle. So it is with some surprise that the experienced fighters observe Billwise appear behind one of the attackers and dispatch him with a single blow. Soon, only one bandit remains standing, but appears to be evading the blows of three opponents. Dagaard having dispatched Calwine charges on, sure that more combat will be found further into the valley.
Finally, Billwise and Limolas manage to dispatch the remaining bandit, but Pick is beginning to look punch drunk. Leaving Pick to continue at his own pace, the elf and hobbit chase Dagaard into the valley. Rounding the corner they come upon the main site on Ambush. The knight has been felled as has most of his retinue, only Dagaard and the knight’s young squire continue the fight. A carriage, with smoke billowing out, is pulled up across the road. Within seconds, Dagaard and the squire collapse to the ground leaving Billwise to face three bandits alone. Fortunately, the hobbit uses his natural speed to stay out of trouble until reinforcements arrive, and although the foes prove troublesome to defeat, the remaining adventurers are victorious.
Assessing the situation, the brave fighters ascertain that Dagaard, the knight and his retinue are merely unconscious. After time to recover they discover the tale of the ambush and that this was an attempt to assassinate the heir to the noble house of Noirin. Valanaque is the nephew of the current head of the house and the heir apparent to his aunt.
When sufficiently recovered, the enlarged party make their way to the family seat of the house Noirin.With great thanks, the band of heroes are rewarded by being granted the rights of retainers to the noble house. In return, Limolas and Pick share the discovered documents that they believe indicate there may be spies within Arthedain. With these revelations the Dame Noirin, orders the adventurers to accompany her to Bree, which she will pass through on the way to a meeting with the King at Amon Sul, and there to listen out for hints of potential plots.
Granted rights and responsibilities of a retainer of the House Noirin and supplied with a mount suitable for that position along with livery.
In the last session, our hapless heroes had become separated and their stories had taken different paths. Recovering in the Dwarven enclave of Caras Celairnen, the dwarves had begun to search for possible news of the return of Limolas to civilisation, more in hope than any real sense of success. As a result, they did not tax their own resources too heavily, instead relying on using the elf’s cash reserves to pay some street urchins to pass on news of any sightings. Then, feeling that duty had been done, they set about resting and planning on how to return to the Edanaar, the golden frog, to complete the task.
Meanwhile, sometime later, Limolas returning to the town shorn of is belongings and trousers – is detained by the city guard. Attempts to engage the city militia in contacting his friends fail miserably, and the elf is forced to sit and wait in a cell. Finally, he is taken to a court in front of the Arquan of the Karras and a chance to plead his case. However, his dishevelled appearance and lack of means do not help his poorly constructed arguments of being an adventurer down on his luck with companions in town. Perhaps it is not a good idea to mention your friends are dwarves when you are an elf. After deliberation, the elders of the city decide that Limolas is a potential risk to the safety of the city and decide – in the interest of security – to bad the elf from the city. So it is that down-on-his-luck elf finds himself contemplating the long walk along the two-mile causeway towards the next chance of shelter and food.
At that same moment, the dwarves receive word of an elf who matches their description has just been thrown out from the town. With maximum dwarven haste, the pair make their way down to the causeway gate and a short dash across the causeway soon reunites them with their lost companion. After briefly swapping tales, the party hatch a plan to house Limolas for long enough for them to complete the quest.
Reasoning that it is only a matter of time before the banishment will be forgotten, Limolas settles into the shore camp occupied by many of the river’s itinerant travellers who stop-over at the Karras. When Limolas is sufficiently recovered, the party travel into the fens again and with only minor incidents return to the bower of the Golden Frog. Upon the presentation of the gifts to the idol, a golden mist swirls around and miraculously Edanaar stand before the adventurers.
Within a matter of days, Edanaar and been reunited with his long-lost love. The party rewarded both in coin and some minor items settle into the town to finally reflect on their adventure and again on how being reunited allowed the lost lovers to be united again.
In the previous session, the party had finally discovered the location of the labyrinth of thorns and recovered amber stones. Now faced with the potential of a long slog back through the swamp with diminishing rations; the adventurers decided to camp in the dark, misty wood to allow Limolas to forage for food.
After a fruitless day of searching for food, Limolas decides that a night hunt would be more productive. The Dwarves knowing that their sneaking through woods was not something that would help gain supplies let Limolas forage alone. Confidently, the elf ranger slipped into the dark woods.
Alone, but unconcerned by the mist-enshrouded wood, Limolas foraged for ways to supporting the party’s diminishing rations but found little wildlife and precious little in the way of edible plants. The night wore, and unusually for the wood-wise elf, branches began to snag at his clothes. Soon a branch had a grasp of his arm, and it was only good fortune that he was able to escape. Soon the pressure of being alone in a misty wood where living trees were attempting to take his life was too much. The elf broke and ran. In blind panic he ran; he stumbled; he created cover under a pile of leaves and slept.
Meanwhile, the dwarves waited the night watches out. They too discovered that they were not alone in the woods. Dagaard becomes suspicious of an ancient and decaying tree. Convinced that it has moved location he awakens Pick and the pair waited on alert. After a few anxious hours, the peril of the living tree becomes a reality and the heroes hammer away at the rogue tree. Under the pressure of the dwarves mighty warhammers, the tree is soon broken. Fearing for their companion alone in the woods, a sleepless watch is maintained by the pair of warriors for the remains of the night.
In the previous episode, the brave heroes had fought the Zombie King and survived the devious traps protecting the Iron Rose held beneath a rotten tree. Now Pick, Limolas and Dagaard set out to try and discover the location of the final item required to release Edananar from his frog form. Progress was again slow, but the party took heart when they could see the rising Hills of Evendim; this giving the small hope that the depths of the swamp would soon be left behind.
Soon the band of adventurers found themselves warily entering a forest of dead trees. Mists floated in from the swamp obscuring the view further, but untroubled the heroes pushed deeper into the woods and soon came upon a thicket of thorns. It was clear from their previous information that this should be the labyrinth of thorns spoken of as the resting place for the amber stones. A quick survey of the perimeter revealed three entrances and the wanderers soon realised that a strategy to defeat the labyrinth was in order.
Sadly, after many hours of debate, the best plan they could come up with was to pick the nearest entrance and take the left turn until no more turns could be made and then return to the last turning. Pick, by far the most intelligent of the band, being only slightly below average intelligence, suggested leaving a marker at each turn, and so with bundles of sticks the band set off to explore.
The thorns of the maze pushed in on the adventurers as they explored through the mist. In the mistaken belief that they were efficiently exploring, the party pushed on into the Labyrinth. The tension grew as every wrong turn meant retracing steps and finding the marker sticks, which were becoming less with each wrong turn.
Warily, the party pushed on. Soon Limolas’ sharp ears heard a clacking sound and so the party were aware of the approach of a pair of skeletons. Unfortunately, the close-packed thorns left no room for manoeuvre and so Pick was forced to deal with both at the junction. Limolas let fly volleys of arrows, but alas they had little effect when his aim was true. So alone and beset on two sides, the brave dwarf swung is mighty warhammer in defence of his comrades. So it is perhaps fortunate that this was the time for our heroes to discover that weapons that break bone, are more effective against the skeletal form of undead.
The guardians of the Labyrinth dispatched, the explorers pushed on in their haphazard way seeking the centre of the maze. The going was slow and there were many encounters with more skeletons. The dauntless dwarves covering both the van and rear guard dispatched these with ease, and despite evidence to the contrary Limolas continued to use piercing weapons to provide support.
A cold damp night later, the explorers gained the centre of the maze. In front of them stood a twelve foot high dark green dodecahedral tower, and atop gleamed the prized amber stones. Now the heroes could grab the loot and depart this depressing maze. However, between them and the stones stood a band of skeletal warriors. Faced with odds of three to one, Limolas thought to thin the numbers using his skill as a bowman. His efforts continued to have the same effect as before and the skeletal figures advanced with purposeful menace. The dwarves, taking a more pragmatic view advanced with warhammers swinging and soon the sound of breaking bone filled the centre of the maze. Limolas, finally abandoning his bow, joined the fray swinging his longsword to and fro. Within a few minutes, the floor was littered with a carpet of shattered bones and the heroes could turn their attention to the high pedestal on which the amber stones sat.
A combination of a lack of height and acrobatic skill made it clear very early on that recovering the stones would need a solution that did not involve a tower of two dwarves and an elf. However, by standing on both the dwarves shoulders and using his spear Limolas was eventually able to push the amber stones off the pedestal, where they were soon rolled into the magical bag ready for transport back to the golden frog form of Edananar, All that remained was to find their way back to him through the miles of damp, dreary, dangerous, swamp.