The Darkening Wild

Session 11: The Gathering of Five Armies

During the third day of festivities, Ireth surprised all by achieving the title of Ranger of Dale, one of the most coveted, barely defeating a large group of skilled archers including Mirkwood Elves, men and women of Lake-town, and the elite Royal Guard of Dale.

All four heroes participated in the Grand Melee, and half of them fell to Ennalda, who was the ultimate victor, defeating Elistan after he was weakened by Ermendrud.

At the closing Feast, Ireth shared a rambling toast to start the festivities. Diltwiler presented a riddle for Gandalf. Grimbar sung a short ditty that was not well-received. Ermendrud followed Radagast around, and received a prophetic vision about her future – that she would be cold, surrounded by anger, and would subsequently drown. Grimbar dug into some kind of love triangle between King Bard, queen-apparent Signy, and the visiting Princess of Dorwinion, Runa. Diltwiler spent his time smoking and talking with Bilbo and Gandalf near the high table.

Among the various dignitaries were King Dain Ironfoot, Hartfast of Mountain Hall, the White Wizard Saruman, the elf-lord Glorfindel and elf-lady Imre.

Over the winter, Grimbar sought to relieve the oppressive Shadow through song. Ireth taught some of the poorer folks in Dale woodworking, and gained Oin as a Patron. Diltwiler gained Gandalf as a patron.

News trickled in from the Wide World: a huge man-eating wolf in southern Mirkwood; Woodland Hall without a Lord or Lady for yet another year; Beorn refusing to marry; rumors of a Cold Drake taking up residence in northern Mirkwood; King Thranduil’s melancholy and grief becoming more visible; Imre’s plans to travel to the Grey Havens in the West come spring; Easterling and Wainrider raids in the eastern Iron Hills, encroaching on Dwarven territory.

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Session 10: Dragontide

The heroes return to Lake-town as part of Thranduil’s entourage and stay for a brief time in town before continuing to Dale for the Gathering of Five Armies. Diltwiler enjoyed living above his means, and the heroes worked together to uncover a ring of child cut-purses employed by a creepy man who received their “take” at night. They captured him and turned him over to the city watch, but not before learning that his employer was a man calling himself the Bandit King, otherwise known by the name Leofric.

Ireth’s horn was stolen by a man dressed as a fox at the masquerade that opened the festivities in Dale, and he was able to elude her in the crowd. She donned a blue cloak and stalked the streets thereafter as the Bluebird Cloak, a largely unsuccessful vigilante.

During the second day of the Gathering, Diltwiler was named Riddlemaster of Dale, defeating Bilbo Baggins in an inspired exchange. Ireth threw herself into the competition for Drunkard of Dale, and won handily before blacking out. Grimbar was able to be named Songbird of Dale – likely the first such songbird ever to be armor-clad. Ermendrud, alas, did not experience a victory.

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Session 9: Mirkwood the Other Way Round

Taking their leave of the Easterly Inn, the company traveled east, once again taking the elven road through Mirkwood. Near the entrance they encountered a boy, Belgo, running down the path, shouting for help. His father, Baldor, had hired some mercenaries to serve as guards for his wagon of goods for Dale, but they turned on him. The companions arrived just in time, dispatching the bandits and capturing one of them, named Garrick.

Over the course of their journey, Ireth prevailed upon Garrick to share her interest in moral philosophy, and to be a better person. He gave up his banditry and promised to travel to Lake-town and seek gainful employment.

During their journey through Mirkwood, the companions found that their experience and new skills served them well, but Baldor was not so well-equipped. He panicked in the darkness and fled from the path, and Ireth had to track him down and then lead the companions to rescue him from spiders.

They ended their journey once again in the halls of the Elvenking, but unlike last time, they were guests, and spent nearly two months in feasting, merry-making and reverie among the wood-elves.

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Session 8: The Easterly Inn

Leaving aside the questions of the Gibbet King and the Chain they learned about when scouting out the Dwimmerhorn, the heroes rested and recuperated before returning to Beorn’s House, where Grimbar distributed gifts richly and generously, increasing her standing with that people. One such gift was Diltwiler’s King’s Blade, which she paid to repair and which the smith had completed.

They then journeyed northward, where Diltwiler once again located the forgotten garden of tobacco-plants and harvested the rest of them for his supply. While exploring, they came across the Easterly Inn, run by two Hobbit brothers Dodinas and Dinodas Took and Dindy’s wife Agatha Brandybuck. The inn is Dody’s dream, and Dindy came along, bringing Agatha, who perhaps imagined something different when they set out for Wilderland. Ireth Elanessë carved them a beautiful new sign, and they continued on their way toward the darkness of Mirkwood and, ultimately, the Gathering of Five Armies in Dale.

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Session 7: The Shadow of the Dwimmerhorn Part 3
How Grimbar got her groove back

The heroes recovered in the house of Hartfast, and take part in the trial of Magric. Ireth Elanessë’s torture is revealed, and Magric gains early sympathy, but her impassioned words spoken against his treachery sway the crowd. Walar spekas up as well against the traitor, less eloquently but more personally. Lastly Grimbar calls for lenience. Hartfast, however, is not a lenient lord, and so he beheads Magric then and there, executing his judgement by his own hand.

The heroes chose to ambush the goblin chieftain, encamped south of Mountain Hall to wait out the daylight before he attacks. In flanking them, making their careful way along stony ledges above the mountain stream, Grimbar falters and then plummets into the waters, disappearing from view. She is presumed dead, and Ermendrud makes a halting attempt at giving a eulogy mid-climb.

They came to a position where they can see the goblin camps, and wait until the signal – a flash of fire and smoke as the men of Mountain Hall toss pots of flaming oil and loose fire arrows down on the goblins. They are driven out in a rage to give chase and return arrows, drawing them away from the heroes and, for a moment, their chieftain.

The heroes ambush the chieftain and his two lumbering bodyguards. In a fierce melee Diltwiler is battered and Ermendrud is wounded, before Grimbar rides into the fray, shouting a challenge to the chieftain.

For he is Naur the One-Ear, an orc who waylaid Grimbar during her journey north, taking her ancestral blade and very nearly her life. She charged, and struck, but Diltwiler finished the orc by leaping on him and driving the Shadowblade the rest of the way into his body. He died instantly, his life seemingly drained away in an instant.

The ambush turned into a rout as Ermendrud brandished Naur’s severed head and Grimbar winded her battle-horn, and the goblins fled into the mountains, followed by the arrows of Hartfast’s men.

The fellowship took time to recover, and were granted sanctuary in Mountain Hall as long as Hartfast rules there. They took refuge in song and their fellowship. Grimbar traveled north to see an ancient ruin of her people, now a waypoint for traveling bands of goblins. Ermendrud traveled south and west, seeking out Radagast, but did not find him until she had turned home in frustration. She still carries the flask he gave her, however.

On their journey north, the fellowship experienced no mishaps, and found once again the lost garden of Hobbit leaf. They also met Gelvira and spent a night at her Hall of the Crossing, built near the Old Ford. They also met Dodinas and Dinodas Took and Agatha Brandybuck, Dinodas’ wife. They are the builders and proprietors of the Easterly Inn, a cozy little place that is perhaps too out of the way to be a commerical success. Ireth, however, provided them with a brand new wooden sign, and the fellowship offered to advertise their services to other travelers. They heard of the only other wayfarers the Inn had seen in recent days, a man from Breeland named Baldor and his son Belco, as well as the three guards they had hired to protect their wagon of trade goods.

The spent their last evening before their journey into the dark begins, camped under the eaves of Mirkwood.

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Session 6: The Shadow of the Dwimmerhorn Part 2
Holes

Failing to build up cameraderie and cheer, the fellowship headed south again, re-supplied by Hartfast and following their recollection of what Magric showed them. They promptly became lost. Ireth Elanessë was able to carry Diltwyler Whitfoot the Bellowlung pick-a-back up into a tree for a better vantage point, and he was able to espy the distant shadow of the Dwimmerhorn

Diltwiler went ahead to scout out, finding a rebuilt fortress on a glowering hill, scattered fields tended by slaves, and a well-guarded single entrance. Drawing upon his deep knowledge of holes and their uses, he was able to locate a small tunnel leading into the heart of the fortress. Carefully sneaking in and then up, he overheard a discussion between a Man, an Orc, and a third raspy, sinister voice. They were discussing an attack on the north, and a chain that was also a weapon, but the sinister voice counseled patience and that was the end of the discussion. Dilt determined that the large rectangle blocking his view was in fact a sacrificial altar.

The Fellowship waited for day break and then crept up to free a dozen of the fifty or so slaves held by the Goblins and Orcs of Dwimmerhorn. They killed four Goblins and two Men in the process, and then send the freed slaves north. Dilt led them to the hole and they entered.

Emerging in a stone structure repurposed as a temple of evil, Dilt and Ireth were able to kill a pair of Orc priests with arrows and Dilt’s newly-looted Shadow Blade. In response, a shadow crept over Diltwiler. His weapon was of no avail, and when the great armored shade touched him it burned like ice and weakened him like a wound. He collapsed, but Ireth was able to reach in and drag him away from the shadowy form before it could finish him off. The fellowship fled out the hole and into the Gladden Fields, racing north as quickly as they could. Evading Men and wolves by day and Goblins and wolves by night, they came at last to Hartfast, who took them in and listened as they told their tale.

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Session 5: The Shadow of the Dwimmerhorn Part 1
Choosing Sides

After a Fellowship Phase spent disbanded, the fellowship came together once again. Debating where to travel, it was decided to head to Mountain Hall, where Lord Hartfast still governs the Woodfolk nearby, along with his sons and grandsons.

The journey to Mountain Hall was delightfully uneventful, but upon arrival, the fellowship found a cold welcome. Hartfast was not impressed with their courtesy, and only Ireth Elanessë’s boasting was able to earn them a place to sleep for the night. They also met up with Osric, working to earn his place among the grim men of the Hall.

Some members of the fellowship offered to help Osric with the night watch, and that night the Goblins of the Misty Mountains attempted to sabotage the storeroom with some kind of bright, hard-to-douse fire. They were killed or driven off, and another guard was found near-drowned and bleeding from a stab-wound. Ermendrud nursed him back to health.

In the morning, Hartfast called upon the fellowship to travel south and investigate disappearances among his folk that have been happening. Most of his men are engaged fighting Goblins and he cannot spare enough to send himself. He also wanted to see the fellowship prove themselves. He sends a trapper, Magric, to serve as guide.

A somewhat disappointing hunter, Magric ultimately proved to be a traitor, abandoning the fellowship in the Gladden Fields just before a Goblin attack. Goblins had chased Verner, an escaped slave, for a day and a half, and he threw himself on the mercy of the fellowship.

Battle was joined, and the four Goblin trackers, two Great Wolves, and one big Orc were dispatched with minimal injuries. After interrogating one of the Goblin trackers, the fellowship learned that south of them is Dwimmerhorn, an ancient fortress of Men that is no inhabited by Goblins, Orcs, slaves, and something called the Gibbet King. The Goblin tracker was then killed while attempting to escape.

In a rage, Ireth chased down Magric and beat him unconscious. He was dragged back to camp and also interrogated. By which I mean tortured, by Ireth. He revealed more information about the Dwimmerhorn, and named the Gibbet King.

The fellowship brought Verner and Magric back to Mountain Hall for recovery and summary judgement respectively, and have made plans to head south once again and investigate the Dwimmerhorn for themselves. Meanwhile, Hartfast will be calling as many men as he can together for a possible attack to liberate the slaves still held there.

Osric, as a break from his labor at Mountain Hall, was sent East to seek out Radagast and inform him of what is happening.

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Session 4: Kinslayer
Murder and kinstrife at Stonyford

In which our heroes set forth, under the auspice of Beorn their erstwhile host, to seek out news and rumor of banditry plaguing his people. They came to find an abandoned boat on the Anduin, feathered with Goblin shafts and carrying the corpses of Odo and Merovech, both warriors in the service of Beorn. They found clues that a third party had been in the boat, and tracked this party over hill and dale, around village and through tree-stand, until coming at length to the village of Stonyford.

Challenged at the crossing by elders of the village Hartwulf, Ava and Wiliferd, our heroes were able to convince them to let them into the village. From Hartwulf they learned that there had been a murder in the village, and that the murderer, a young swordsman named Osric was sent north to Beorn for judgement.

Our heroes approached the widow Brunhild, whose husband, Rathfic, had been stabbed by Osric. Attempts were made to engage her in conversation, but ultimately Diltwiler, child of the kindly West, was able to win her trust by helping her repair the damage to her garden done by an over-zealous Elf. At length, he learned a secret – that it was Brunhild who stabbed her husband, and Osric who took the blame for the act.

Following Osric’s trail, the heroes came to the encampment of Valder the Bloody, a group of questionable men somewhere between a woodland militia and a band of bandits. They were able to overwhelm Farron, the man assigned to watch over Osric, and convinced Osric to come with them.

At length, the plan emerged for Osric to determine the true nature of this “militia”, and to meet the heroes at the house of Radagast the Brown. He did so, having learned to his dismay that they were in fact bandits, and were planning a raid on Stonyford. Word was sent north to Beorn by way of deer, and the heroes gathered with Osric and a band of Beornings led by Ennalda to face off against Valder the Bloody’s men.

Outnumbered almost two to one, the heroes were able to prevail through preparation, and beat back the fierce assault. Valder the Bloody felled two Beornings, but was felled in turn by Ennalda, with the aid of a thrust of Diltwiler’s blade. Alas, the blade broke upon his armor, but it was enough to distract him from Ennalda’s killing stroke.

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Session 3: Two Kings
The Hospitality of Elves and Eagles

In which our heroes enjoyed the fabled hospitality of King Thranduil, having failed to be sufficiently courteous, and were later able to escape with the help of Ireth Elanessë‘s charms, Diltwyler Whitfoot the Bellowlung’s silent feet, and the selective neglect of a certain Prince.

Following that, they were able to sample the delights of northern Mirkwood, including the local fauna, the inedible food, tenuous path, suffocating air and night-dark boughs.

A leisurely trip down the Vales of Anduin brought them to an encounter with Thane Tor and then with Gwaihir the Windlord, and an agreement was negotiated between the Great Eagles and the Woodmen of the western vales, such that sheep would be provided at set times, in order to sate avian hunger and bring peace between peoples.

At close, a month or so was spent in the House of Beorn, during which our heroes shed the clinging gloom of Mirkwood through the creation of song and works of beauty.

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Session 2: Cannibals are the WORST
The Marsh-dwellers

After fighting that troll off and getting sufficient rest, we continued to make our way through Mirkwood. Grimmy was still sore from fighting, and Dilt… well… still all bruised up from when I shot him out of that gallowsweed thing (sorry, man), but all in all we were doing alright and making decent enough time.

While making our way through the forest, I went to scout ahead and see if I could spot anything from the tree tops. That’s when I saw and heard this weird bell… and then I really wanted to go to it. My stupid friends tried to stop me, though… but I guess if Ermendrud hadn’t snapped me out of it I would’ve drowned in a lake the bell was pulling me towards. Thanks, Ermie!

We made our way around the body of water standing in our way and ended up finding an abandoned village. We found the ruined bell tower, made some torches, and proceeded down into an underground complex. It seemed fairly well traveled and lived in, and there was totally poop in the corner, which is NOT okay.

Almost immediately after finding ourselves there we were lucky and ended up finding the dwarves right away in a nearby room. They looked starved and like they’d been down there for ages, but before we could get the poor lil’ guys out of there some weird cannibal things started approaching us and saying they’d eat us. Even though we kicked some of their asses, more and more kept coming, which is when I decided to give them our food so they could leave us alone and we could leave in peace. Dilt wasn’t too happy about that…

The trip back was thankfully not as stressful as meeting the cannibals. Dilt was sour about ditching the food, but oh well he’d get over it. I didn’t know hobbits could be so… sour. I thought only dwarves were sour!

We eventually made it back to Laketown with the dwarves, who helped vouch for us when we offered to take on the dwarves’ mission instead. Their word, combined with my stories of spider-slaying, helped convince Gloin to give us the job.

Now we’ll just have to make our way through the Elf Road and… I’m not gonna lie. I’m feeling a little nervous about this one. Thranduil is kind of a dick.

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