Lords of the North

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The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

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That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

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Journey to Marbelain pt1
Session 1

The Party Gathers

Nar, The Lord Chancellor of Erebor summoned the high elf Daeron in order to speak to him. Calling him down to the furnaces, they stood on one of Erebors precarious stone walkways, over looking the remaining coal supplies, while above a great big brass bulls head opens it’s mouth and a torrent of liquid iron comes on out. He outlined to him the dire situation of Erebors coal supplies and the need for someone to make the journey to Marbelain.

With the journey so perilous, Nar gives to Daeron three letters, each addressed to someone he believes would be suitable for the journey. One is for Durin, a fellow son of Erebor who has done much traveling and would be an ideal companion and representative for the Dwarves at Marbelain. The second was to Thorondir, a noble of Gondor and a Dunedain who has lost all lands and title and has now come to Shepard refugees to Erebor. The last letter was to Berwin, a shield maiden of Rohan. Her story not entirely known, but there is little doubt she would be invaluable in surviving Mirkwood.

To the Long Lake

Having gathered all three companions, the group set off at first light, meeting with Oin a dwarven bargemen who has been distributing aid to refugees making the journey north. He operates his barge along with his three sons, Berwin, Gror and Lofur.

When they reached the Long Lake, they pulled to shore near the mouth of the Forest River and broke camp for the evening. It was then that a young boy burst from the forest in a panic. His name was Belgo and he was the son of Baldor, a trader whose guards had just turned on him. Belgo got away as his father distracted the thugs and led them away.

Intent to save Baldor they made for the camp where the conflict had started and then picked up on the tracks left that go into Mirkwood. A short distance in and they hear the sounds of someone been struck and follow it to it’s source. Their they found Baldor holding off the thugs with a tree branch.

Words were exchanged and swords were drawn, it looked like blood would be spilled yet again, when a few rousing words from Thorondir made them think twice. The guards took half their pay and walked away. Baldor impressed with what had happened, and finding they were going the same way, offers to pay the party like he did the guards to go to the Elf Kings halls.

The Elf King

Traveling with Baldor and Belgo they get to the Elf Kings halls. A celebration of sorts is occurring and while the party’s efforts are appreciated, all of them bar Daeron and Baldor are asked to remain below.

While those left behind enjoy Elven hospitality in the lower halls, Baldor and Daeron receive an audience with Thranduil. Though on getting into the upper halls, this celebration is made clear as they realize it is in honor of two elves who are going West. Still Baldor is giving a reward for his recent endeavors and Thranduil speaks privately with Daeron. The King makes a request of him, that if Marbelain still stands, that on the first barge down there is but on cask of Din’Aro, a local drink worthy of elven patronage. If he could do this, he would be well rewarded.

On Foot to Marbelain

Without the barge they follow the path West, till finding a small stone bridge that crosses the forest River. They make camp and later have visitors as a barge of refugees passes them by. They break bread with Eiruin the leader of the group and hear about how woodmen villages are under threat of spiders that have crossed into Northern Mirkwood. What’s worse is that a band of mercenaries is now wondering the forest intent on wiping the spiders out, burning everything that the spiders have left their mark on. Entire villages have been put to the torch.

A few days later, Durins raven companion Blackwing swoops on in and whispers into his masters ear about a nearby village that has suffered at the hands of the spiders and their pursuers. But that amidst the ruins there is an item of interest.

Taking a small detour they go to the village and find the burnt out ruins. The treasure found was in a small stash. Possibly the whole wealthy of the village it amounted to a pouch of coin and a goblet of Dwarven craft. Durin took the goblet as a treasure of his people and gave the coin to Thorondir to do with as he saw fit. The afternoon was then spent properly burying the dead.

The Castle of Eight Legs

Failing to get to the shelter that Baldor wanted to, they have to spend a night in an open clearing, once been a festive ground of the woodland Elves. They make camp and set watches for the evening. Not quite dawn, Baldor wakes up to relieve Berwin of her watch. They talk for a bit before Baldor goes to get a drink from the stream. However a dark enchantment has fallen on it and in a daze Baldor walks into the forest.

Roused from their sleep, Berwin, Durin and Daeron pursue the bewitched Baldor into the woods, while Thorondir stays with Belgo, fearful that something may befall him while they rescue his father.

The three adventurers find that Baldor has been taken by spiders and track the creatures back to their lair at a ruined castle. They rescue Baldor but not without rousing the spiders from their sleep. Scarcely avoiding a bloody end, they defeated a horde of the spiders and made their way back to camp.

Belgo hasn’t entirely forgiven Baldor for what happened, but he was happy to have his Dad back and unharmed.

Smoke on the Horizon

Traveling North they eventually come to see smoke in the distance and the sound of people shouting. Someone is in distress…

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Journey to Marbelain pt2
Session 2

Smoke on the Horizon

Traveling North the party come across a town in distress. A small fire has taken hold near their village, which for Mirkwood is on surprisingly dry land and at risk of truly going up in a wild fire. The party enter to find the villagers have already formed bucket chains and are tackling the fire under the supervision of their chieftain.

Eager to help, Berwin offers up her steed to carry water to the front while Daeron is ready to just jump in. However as they talk to the chieftain a female member of the villain comes running out, having realised her children aren’t within the safety of the village. With the fire raging she fears the worst.

Heading out into the burning forest they search for the two missing children. Durin calls upon his familiar, the Raven ‘Shadow’. While he goes off to search by air they continue on foot to look for clothes. By happen chance they find a few tracks that leads them to where two backpacks belonging to the children have been left, but no sign of the children. Shadow returns and says he’s found a dog stuck amidst the fire. Knowing the children had gone out with the families faithful hound they go after it hoping the dog would know where they are.

However the task of saving the hound is no easy task. It is caught in a small clearing where the fire has taken hold. In the end it took the combined efforts of both Berwin and Dareon to get the hound free. Happily the creature did then help to find the children, taking them to a big tree that is currently safe from the fire. With a small nook at the base of it the hound barks on out and everyone expects to see the children, but they do not. Checking out there is every sign that the children had taken refuge here. But another set of tracks is found and it would seem that the children were taken away by someone.

With no leads left to follow, and the sound of a horn bellowing from the village for them to return they abandon the search. Though when they return, as if by a miracle the children are already there. The Chieftain explained that a large figure, covered in a black cowl to hide his face just laid the children out and fled before anyone could say anything. Still everyone is eternally grateful to the party for what they did and what they tried to do. The mother welcomes them all into her hut to rest and recover before traveling again. With most of the part weary, they are more than happy for this.

The Storm

An almost supernatural storm closes on the group. Lightning streaks across the sky, thunder booms and they are pelted with rain. Desperately needing shelter they come across a huge tree and taking inspiration from the children they see it as the one bit of shelter that would likely not get blown over by the storm.

However from the smell it is clear something else uses the hollow under the tree. But while there is a smell, there is no actual occupant. Getting in they try to dry off, but it’s then that they notice on the inside someone has crudely drawn depictions of horrible scary faces, faces in torment and faces of people who are very angry. There were also markings, strange symbols, which Daeron realised were the lettering of the dark language. On edge the party carefully watches for the occupant of the hollow to return. For the better or worse the storm ended before that happened and they were able to pass on.

The Last Leg

Nearly out of the woods, the mountains of the North are now so very close. However it is on this last day that a dark malaise falls over the group. There is a buzzing in their ears like flies are all around them. A laziness creeps up from the ground into their legs. Daeron talks with Baldor, trying to distract themselves from this unnatural feeling, and Durin joins in as well. But then they look around and notice something most unpleasant, Berwin and Belgo are no where to be seen and they aren’t exactly sure when last they were together. They are left with no doubt that something must have lured them off the path, as Berwin had left behind her horse, something she would never do.

Back tracking down the path they are lucky and spot the disturbance of where they left the path and crossed into the low brush. Rushing on ahead they soon catch up to their companions and find a most horrendous sight. Between a copse of trees was a hole into the ground, a well of sorts, of which crawling on out of it was a mass of tendrils. Thick and jagged muscle, knotted together to make long appendages that almost resembled rose vines. The creature had the both of them, who were unconscious and seemingly embracing the creatures hold of them.

Naturally Daeron and During launched to the rescue of their friends. Though what was more surprising was the deft hand-work of Baldor. He slipped Thorondir’s sword from it’s sheath before even he could and charged on forward. It was a close won victory, but with Baldor hacking away to free Belgo, the impressive axe work of Durin and the arrows of Daeron, the creature was forced to flee, seeming to abandon it’s tendril like appendages and whatever was the source of the creature fleeing into a network of tunnels.

The two ensorcelled comrades soon recovered, and from the pit that the creature was in, much treasure was found. It would seem that the ‘Thing in the Well’ had been there for a long time, luring all manner of people down into the depths.

The Journeys End

Free from the forest of Mirkwood the great expanse of the North lays ahead of them.A great plain with the forest river cutting through and the Grey Mountains looming over it all. The huge mountain range spreads before them, along with in the distance can be seen the peak of Kanduras, it’s peak shrouded in what looks like a storm, the flash of lightning occasionally seen within it.

The Barge Way

Marbelain is in sight, but there is something wrong. The groups first stop is to the small barge community that resides at the edge of the forest river. It could be seen that everyone who lived there was out. Three small families, one of which was a family of hobbits, and a lone guardsman who wore chain-mail and a brilliant blue cape.

Meeting with the guardsman who identified himself as Alaric a member of the Cerulean Guard, he explains that everyone is out because something weird has happened. A barge was finally returned up the Greylin, the first merchant the town has had in months. Getting off with a cart he had gone up to the gates of Marbelain and entered on in. Now the gates have been closed, and the Hobbit father of the family was sure he sure people going up the mountain pass to the High Cage.

Alaric can’t leave his post. If something has happened and miscreants are around, he can’t abandon the three families he is sworn to protect. Initially he didn’t trust the party either, however Daeron reminding him he is a member of the Elder, persuaded him that men and elves must come to trust each other. Agreeing to that he asked if they (except Baldor and Belgo) would go to Marbelain and see what the fuss is about.

They made their way to the bridge and crossed to the halfway point where there was the Keep of Dragon Fell. Heading on up into it they find the guard station, door unlocked and the two guardsmen inside and slumped over the table, two empty goblets, a full one and a half drunk bottle of wine. Daeron had a smell and with his knowledge of medicine realised that they had been poisoned but were still alive. Berwin rode back to Barge Way with the two poisoned guards and got them some help, then charged his horse on back to catch up to the others who were nearly to Marbelain.

Marbelain is 15 miles away, most of the town not visible to the horizon, but the mountains that circle them are, along with the Tower of Cinder and The High Cage are. The people now stood about are concerned. A number of barges have come up stream, but they don’t look like ones their used to seeing. Now the gates have closed (which is strange for the time of day).

Gates to Marbelain

The gate was still closed as they arrived, but calling on out they get the attention of the sole guardsman who is up there. Another member of the Cerulean guard, who goes by the name of Reinald. He briefly explains that they have been attacked by an unknown assailant, but not knowing the group he doesn’t know if their involved. At which point Berwin presented Alaric’s helm, which had been given to her when she took the two guardsman back. Knowing Alaric wouldn’t hand over his helm without good reason, he chooses to trust them, explaining what has happened.

The trader came up the path with his cart and was eagerly welcomed. But the moment he placed one foot inside Marbelain a great mist rose from his feet like it was the most natural thing to do. It spread on out through every alley and street in the town. Then from the cart corpses began to get on up and soon infested the town. The mist covering their movements it started a panic in the town. The guard are now occupied trying to deal with the undead incursion. Reinald was with the guard captain trying to put down the undead who kept getting back up again till they started burning the bodies. However realizing this could spill on out of the town to the farmland, or more of the man’s associated by turn up, he volunteered to go on his own to close the gate.

Agreeing to work with the group, Reinald told them he would open the gate, but to be ready to fight, as some of the undead had followed him on back to the gates. The group ready, he opened up the gate and let them fight the two raised corpses. Joining them, they then made their way to the mountain pass, believing that is where the ‘man’ had gone. As they made their way up the pass, Reinald talked about what he thought the ‘man’ might be after. At the top of the mountain pass are two towers, the HIgh Cage which is the towns prison, and connected to it by a skybridge, the Tower of Cinder. He explained that Celeborn gave to Fram at the founding of the city, a phial of light from the blue star Luinil. The blue flame helped to cast back the cold from Forodwaith and allowed the city to prosper. Member of the Cerulean guard make their pledges in front of it when they swear to defend the town, hence the blue capes.

h1. Up to the tower

The path is long and they make their way up is as fast as they can. Getting near the top they spy a figure making his way across the bridge. Shortly after they encountered three more of the risen dead, which together with Reinald they put down. Just as they entered into the High Cage, two more figures went running across the bridge.

Inside the High Cage they found two more guardsmen having been poisoned. Reinald unsure whether to take the men back down to town or stay and fight with the others, looks to Daeron for guidance. Daeron, having weighed up the situation told Reinald to get his men back down to town and to an apothecary. It left just the four group members to go up and face whatever was on the bridge.

Finally catching up to his strange ‘man’, they see him to be a figure clad in black leather armor, his flesh pale white and his face showing much scarring and strange disfigurement. Daeron recognised him as a servant of the enemy, a most foul servant, one who had given himself totally. He was a black Numenorean, and great enough to already be engaged with two opponents. The guard captain was with a High Elf and not faring two well. As the group charge over the guard captain was bashed into submission by the black Numenorean’s mace. Shortly after the Elf took a blow, knocking him off his feet and over the edge of the bridge where he was lost from sight.

Now left to stand before this foe along, the black Numenorean turned his attention to them. Everyone knew this was a foe they couldn’t take, even at full strength it would be no mean feat, but now with half of them battered and weary from such a long journey, it was hopeless. Speaking to them in a low guttural voice, the black Numenorean spoke to them.

_“So young you all are and so much you could become, it is unfair that you should end here, but life… simply… is unfair and I know… only cruelty”
_
Then a strange power fell upon the group and their adversary. A red hue was cast upon the bridge, as if the sun no longer shone white light, but instead red. This crimson haze was then met by something coming up behind the party. A silhouette was cast over them of a figure on a horse. They could feel the breath of the horse on their backs, as it snorted and bayed. No one dared to turn around to face it, but the black Numenorean was clearly looking at whatever was behind them. Seemingly a mixture of angry and confused by it’s presence, he spoke to it, saying:

“Bane of Rhudaur consign yourself to memory"

A hiss came from the figure that cast the silhouette over them, before speaking in the black tongue.

“Na Makrig Kalkurt Urgl Mart”

“… when next we meet I will not be so moved by your presence”

With that the black Numenoreaon pulled his cloak around himself and in a burst of black feathers became a flock of crows that caw madly and swept away mockingly. The red haze receded, the silhouette with it. At that, Berwin turned pale white and started to drop, caught quickly by Daeron.

A Reward and a Responsibility

The firekeeper came from the Tower of Cinder and walked over to the group. He immediately recognized the affliction of Berwin and had the others bring her into the tower. Before the guard captain could join them, the firekeeper told him this was not for him and closed the door.

Explaining to the party the importance of the light of Luinil, he also explained how the Cerulean guard made their vows and bathed in the light of the star. For what they had done, he offered to let them make the same vows and bask in Luinils light.

The choice was there’s to make.

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Life in Marbelain
Session 3

Respite

Having made their vow and bathed in the light of Luinil, the party were taken on down from the tower by the Cerulean guard. They saw that the mist had receded and that the fighting was dieing down, while small pyres burnt the bodies of the dead. They were taken to the towns rather prosperous inn, The Golden Lion.

There they met Elerai the inn keeper, who had graciously offered to put them up for a while in return for their heroic deeds in coming to the towns defense. Spending a night to recover near a warm fire and with good food and drink, they talked about how the town had fared and learned of it’s woes during the war.

The Council

In the morning they were taken under guard to the council chambers, where they learned the town was overseen by a ruling council of merchants, headed by the chief of the council who is dubbed the Aldermen.

Entering into the public council chamber they were greeted by all five members,

Aldritch the Elder – Alderman to Marbelain.
Lady Dalla – Representing the business interests of the Valley
Lady Fayne – Representing the business interests of the River Magic brewers
Master Magni – Representing the mining communities
Master Erik – Representing the rural communities and the farmers.

Aldritch offered the sincere thanks of the town and bestowed upon them the title of honorary members of the Cerulean guard, gifting them a blue cape to wear when acting in the name of Marbelain and at all formal functions.

Lady Dalla then rose to gift them yet further. Asking if they did indeed plan to settle themselves in Marbelain, she then went on to explain that their were functions within the town that needed filling. Stressing that they did not have to accept these, she went on to say that:

With the passing of the blacksmith in last nights sad events, his station and the duty of training his apprentice is available.

The town has many stonemasons that are able to do the small repairs that are needed to the town. However they need someone who can really organize them and do the planning necessary to undertake some of the large projects.

The librarian passed away several months ago, since then the library has remained closed as the town has no bookbinders or illuminators. The records just stand in dust and ruin, waiting for someone with the right touch to continue the chronicling.

Lastly, there is the need for someone with true command to take over the running of the Forest River trading outpost.

Each was offered to a member of the party who it most suited, though Dalla stressed that they only slightly knew the individuals in question and that they wouldn’t hold them to any position if they didn’t feel suited.

Returning to the matter of why they were sent, the party declared the need for Marbelain to send barges down to Erebor. However this did throw up a new problem. The town had sent down one barge when the war was over, but it never returned. The two brothers that owned the trading outpost, then went themselves down in another, hoping to find out what had happened to the first. With both barges now gone, they will need to shift one barge from one river and over to the next before sending it on down.

The party then retired to some private council chambers to discuss the offers made to them and whether or not to go down with the barge themselves in a week when it was ready. The discussion raged on till ultimately they agreed to disagree and that it was best to wait and see what happened in the following week.

Leaving they met up with Reinald who had been tasked for the day to show them around time and help them settle in.

A description of Marbelain

_Cobblestone streets with marble houses, placards and signs hanging from every building. Outdoor stalls have shoe makers hammering away at fresh soles, while furriers hark there wares that are stretched on out like canvasses around them. Indoors more refined tailors carefully stitch and sow. However this is not Gondor or Rohan, the weather is cold here and so find silks and satin are replaced with garments of thick wool and animal hide. Still not everyone is so lucky to be able to afford the best or the fresh. Old ladies sell their wares between buildings, a practical mound of ragged clothes that have been stitched together in a patchwork mess, cater to the less discerning and more destitute.

However song and merriment still carries on through the open streets and the central lane. People gather around the outdoor barbers, chatting and discussing away in leisure with the affable gentlemen. While also nearby you spot the barber surgeons in their more prestigious indoor parlours. The smell of fresh dough fills the air as pastry chiefs display their delights openly, often to be bought in bulk by the swathe men and women you identify as restaurant owners and cooks. A few open stalls have spies on display in sacks, the tops of them open to let the air get filled with their pungent aromas. Though it is a little over shadowed by the fish mongers. Freshly cut and gutted brown trout, eel, mudfish and carp are but a few on offer. With two fishmongers in business, the lane is filled with the shouting of the merchants as they try to outdo one another.

A ways from this central hub is all the craftsmen. The air filled with the smell of saw dust and soot. The sawing and hammering of carpenters and masons, sculptors and weavers. Then there is the more intricate work of the buckle maker, and the long suffering sight of the rope makers. Nearby is the more artistic sculptor and woodcarver, the craftsman stood studiously working away, each perfecting their art on every piece. As you go further down there is even the sweet smell of soap, wax and sap, the mark of chandlers. Carts trundle past you, some laden with the heavy bolts of cloth produced by the mercers, others rattles with half a dozen barrels in them, the produce of the coopers. Other barrels just get rolled on down, straight from the shop and down to their respective buyers.

The smell then turns more acrid as you get to what most consider the dirtier professions. The smell of the tanners yard, hidden away behind big wooden fences is unmistakable. It is fed it’s raw produce by the much more unpleasantly overt knacker yard. Carcases hang by rope from the rafters and several long tables are a festering mess of gore, easily swept away by buckets of water. The leather from the tanners will go to the scabbard-makers, the purse makers, the glove maker and the rug makers, and lest of all the saddlers.

Away from the grime the gore and the unpleasant smells, even away from the hustle and bustle is the more refined parts of the town, nearer to the town hall. There are a total of 13 clear and distinct manor houses, walled off and with iron gates. Though they don’t stand in isolation, the unmistakable signage of advocates office can be found around, as well as the residence of the town doctor. Else where you had seen the signs for apothecaries, possibly students of this here physician or mere the practitioners of herbal remedies. The symbol of the crossed keys informs you of the residence of the town locksmith. The streets are genuinely quiet, save for the trundling of the water carriers. You could find them in any part of town but they always make sure to come here first. What is oddly missing is the jewelers, neither here in the noble district or down in the craftsman, the presence of a white smith is noticeable. What is not missing though is the studio of an artist. Numerous canvases of quality work stand on display under a canopy.

And all this is only in the valley floor that you can easily walk through. From an upper vantage point you an see the rest of the town sprawling off. Five hills, each crested with beds of flows house the bee keepers, there workers already present in the fields. While south outside of town, along the lane towards the bridge are the two breweries. While north past the hills and there is the trail going up into the grey mountains. On the slope sides are a few little shacks, surrounded by flocks of sheep and goats. While high on up, past where the cattle can easily live, there is the start of one of the settlements, the colonies of miners and tree shepherds. The only sign of the other two settlements is the smoke that rises into the air. _

Meeting Lady Rena

At the end of the tour, Reinald was ready to take the party to see Gerbert the town doctor and to the guards whose lives they saved by making the right choice. However before they could a runner boy delivered a message that the Lady Rena wanted to meet the heroes of the hour.

Reluctantly Reinald agreed, explaining to the party that Lady Rena has a foul reputation. That of a poisoner due to the circumstances of how her late husband died. Reinald himself tries not to think ill of her, however he worries that her bad reputation would rub off on new people in town if they associated with her too much. She has of course been cleared of the crimes that were put against her.

Going to her manor, it is explained to them that her husband was one of the brewer owners for the towns slightly less famous drink ’Dra’Liq’, a rather strong whiskey with a sour taste. She has since then sold the brewery and just lives as a lady of leisure.

It is clear from entering the manor that she is not well liked. For someone of affluence she can only get the services of a gardener to take care of her estate. She answers the door herself and welcomes them into her parlor and servers out some tea. The talk is somewhat brief, she gives an account of the ‘uglier’ nature of the town which is been hidden from her, the political bickering and the vastly diverse communities. The conversation would suggest she had more to tell, but was eager to answer the questions that interrupted her talk.

She suggested that the positions offered to them were good, and a not a con to remove them from the center stage. Though she hoped that was the only people in time that don’t label her as a poisoner, that they would continue to befriend her and possibly offer her their assistance for payment. As a show of good faith, she opened up her manor to them to live at, since they would soon out stay their welcome at the inn.

Going to the Doctors Office

Going to their original meeting at the doctors, they meet Gerbert. He thanks them like everyone else, but says he’s concerned about one of his patients. Of the two that were brought in from the high cage, one would survive, the other has consumed too much and needs a stronger remedy. The doctor explained there is a herb near by that he could use, but its’ in the ruins of Framburg. They agree to get it, while the Doctor warns of the risk of Goblins, nomads and other wild creatures. Though his last words are the one that sticks in their minds the most:

“Whatever you do, don’t piss off the Woses!”

The Ruins of Framsburg

The party make their way south and enter into the ruins of Framsburg. It is hard to navigate with all the twisting streets, dead ends, collapsed building and general debris. In their search for the herb they first come across a camp. Bedrolls left behind their is no sign of the occupants and the fire is cold. Searching around they found blood on the ground and thought it best not to linger.

Calling on the Raven Shadow, he takes flight and search around for the herb for them, eventually coming back and saying he has found some, a few miles away. He also agrees to circle the place to help them to find it, but warns they need to be quick as there is movement in the shadows, clearly taking an interest in them.

Having the idea to ambush this threat before it ambushed them, Daeron agreed to walk ahead in the street, while the others follow nearby in the shadow. The trap works, and several Wargs get ready to pounce the elf before the others then spring from the shadows. No one is wounded and all but on the Wargs ends up dead.

Quickly they make their way to the herb and gather it up, having found it in a small quad near a apple tree. On the return journey they decide to retrace their footsteps, save for going around the sight of the battle. This leads them to bumping into a few anomalies on the way back.

While going through a small plaza, or possibly what was once a communal forum. They find markings all around the walls in the same strange Mordor scrip that was found inside the hollow tree. Though this time it is just the lettering, no scary faces. Feeling ill at ease, they leave quickly.

Lastly they run across the strange sight of one hovel, in a much better state than the others, which oddly still had a door. Every other wooden door had rotted away over the years, this was the only one left and there was no clear reason why. Lifting the latch they peer in to see a room with a few belongings. Once more they decide to move on, not wanting to disturb things.

From off in the distance to where the fight occurred their came a roar. It was not that of a Warg. The party are very happy they didn’t go back the exact same way. Avoiding whatever came out looking for them, they get back to mountain and hand over the herbs.

All In a Days Work

With the sergeant at arms given the best chance of survival he could have, they retired once more to the Golden Lion and meet up with their estranged friends Baldor and Belgo. They talk about everything that has happened and Baldor even volunteers to stay with them and help with the running of the trading post.

A night of trying to get the Inn singing ends with a mixture of merriment and depression thanks to the Elf’s long Ballard. They found out the hard way that Elerai doesn’t appreciate sea shanty’s in his Inn. It was good to once again be in civilization.

The culprit

Tomorrow brought the news that most of the guards had woken up, and they all swear that the person who brought to them the poisoned wine as a young man called Leiknir. The lad in question was a cooper, who had once wanted to join the Guard until he broke his arm. He was a regular to go up to the High Cage of the Keep and spend time with the men on guard.

The party then split to tackle separate matters. Thorondir went to the doctors to speak with the Sergent at Arms, trying to comfort him on the fact his days of service were over and to check that it was indeed Leiknir who had done this. While at the same time Durin went up to the High Cage to speak with the lad himself, finding out that he wouldn’t give an alibi or talk to the Jarl the Guard Captain. Speaking with Durin he said only to go and speak to the councilmen Erik. Meanwhile, Daeron went to have a private word with the Fire Keeper.

Having been to the Doctors, Thorondir went to the blacksmiths, finding the apprentice and seeing whether against all odds there was a sword he could buy. In luck, there was the blacksmiths own blade that he fell with. Kol needing the money and wanting the sword to go to a good home, sold it to Thorondir. The three then met by the city gate.

Heading on out, Daeron and Durin went to speak with Erik. The conversation yielded much, as the council member admitted that he knew the whereabouts of the boy and could vouch for him, and indeed planned to do so. However he needed the time to think how he was going to approach this, as the boy was with many of the farmers at a local dog fighting pit. This wouldn’t be a problem if Marbelain hadn’t outlawed the practice, something which is at great contention with the rural community. Still he promises the truth will come out at the council meeting been held tonight.

Meanwhile Thorondir went to Bargeway to see the outpost he would stand to inherit if he took Dalla up on her offer. At the same time though he met Baldor and Belgo who were already doing a stock check. Taking the opportunity he gives the sword to Baldor.

The Council Meeting

Going up once more to the High Cage, the return of Durin and the ground leads to an angry confrontation with Jarl the Guard Captain. Relising that he hadn’t been told everything of what got said when Durin spoke to the lad, he storms off to go to the council meeting and challenge Erik.

They briefly speak to Leiknir and Durin says a few things he shouldn’t in a rage. They realise where Jarl is off to and the lad pleads with them to go after him and be the voice of reason before this gets out of hand.

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A Plea for Help
Session 4

The Council Meeting

Arriving at the council halls, they find that the discussions have already started, with Erik and Jarl shouting at each other while the other Councillors looked on in dismay.

Jarl “The practice is barbaric and you should be ashamed of yourselves”
Erik “Do you call it barbaric when your men take up the wooden sword and beat each other until their black and blue?”
Jarl “They are training to keep this town safe!”
Erik “And our pit fighting hones our mutts into more efficient killers, all the better for when the next goblin incursions happens and your not around!”
Aldritch “Erik, Jarl Please! This back and forth sparring gets us no where. Now please, sit down and lets talk like civilised people”
Dalla “This fighting over the damn dogs pulls us away yet again from what is important, the poisoner”
Erik “The dogs are important to—-”
Aldritch “To you Erik, yes we are away”
Erik “No Aldritch, to the whole community, you may not understand it but we do”
Jarl “Have you forgotten already what happened last time, when you let the shadow in?”

Reigning the argument in, Aldritch opens up discussions to the new people in town, hoping for an outsiders perspective. Much was discussed, but ultimately it was decided that the dog fighting would continue and that Berwin would look after the welfare of the dogs and make sure no further incidents happened with the shadow.

Most of the party returned to the manor of Lady Rena, finding that Baldor and Belgo are already there and that they have taken a shine to her ladyship. Especially Belgo who was constantly hovering around her. Baldor enjoying the warmth of the fire and some quality pipe weed relaxed the night away. All was well.

Burchst and Fannella

The next morning breakfast is interrupted by a visitor to the manor, a Mr Burchst of the Northern farmers. He has come seeking help as his prize pig Fannella had been taken during the night. Explaining that she wasn’t the first animal taken, that several others had gone from other ranches, however his was the first to be taken from inside of a barn. Because of this he was sure that it must be the work of trolls! or something else, big stupid but capable of opening a barn door.

While not everyone was convinced it was trolls, they did agree to go look into this matter. Taking them down to his farm stead the tracks left by the creatures were unmistakable and could well have been big enough to be trolls.

Risky Woods

Following the tracks they travel north to the small wood at the base of the mountain. There they found that the forest was as disturbed as the Mirkwood, however it was a presence of expulsion, rather than an all encompassing smothering. Daeron felt he could sense the disturbance and led the party in search of it, distracting themselves from the trolls momentarily.

They enter into a clearing, a grassy glade that was unremarkable save for the stone in the middle of it. The stone was roughly rounded and worked to have a smoother suface, though was not truly polished stone. It was crowned in dried blood and felt like the source of the woods ill. Daeron also noticed that the grass of the clearing was bent slightly as if crossed down. From above it forced a spiral pattern, going from the outside in.

Unhappy with this, they swore to destroy the place once they had dealt with the trolls.

On the trail

Berwin was forced to leave her mount behind for a while, as they got to the slope of the mountain and realized it was a going to be a steep climb. Indeed it was steep enough that only Daeron was able to easily overcome the trek, many of the others following behind and having to rest. When they reached the top, they found themselves stepping onto snow, and that what they were pursing had left very easy to follow tracks.

Interrupting there excursion though they find a large statue covered in snow. At the base of it were wooden stakes, driven into the ground, and on the stakes were the heads of animals, chiefly one which was the pig head of Fannella. They were placed to face towards the statue, that was seemingly looming over the grim spectacle. With no face to speak of, it instead had like a wreath crown made of stone in place. Daeron cleaned some of the snow away and uncovered one of the statues arms.

With no business with the statue, they moved on to follow the tracks. Finding they led to a cave it was here that Thorondir sneaked on ahead in the hope of finding the creature inside. Getting in he found a spitted pig that had been cooked and eaten, along with a pen of distressed ponies and a sleeping troll. However what he did not see, was the trolls accomplice who ambushed the man before he could get out. Having no choice other than to yell for help and get ready to fight, a grim combat did ensue.

Both sides suffering through the conflict, the leader of the trolls tried to sue for peace, agreeing to enter into a riddling contest to decide on whether they could stay or not. However before the contest could be agreed upon the chivalry of man and dwarf both failed. Berwin and Daeron walked away in disgust, while Durin and Thorondir slew the trolls on the spot, who died cursing the lies that had been spoken to them. The ponies were freed, some treasure was found and the party walked back in silence not speaking a word to each other.

Ends Never Justify the Means

Returning back to town they gather up the Cerulean Guard and a number of the local farmers, taking them into the woods to pull out and destroy the stone. Digging it up, it was found that the lower parts of the rock, hidden by the grass and soils had markings in matching those that had been found in the big tree and in the ruins of Framsburg. Dragging it back to the farm, the stone masons got their hammers and stakes and starts to track it on open.

To the horror of those gathered the stone split and from the inside of it a score of snakes slithered on out. People ran, screamed and even took up arms and killed some of the slithering beasts before they got away. However most disappeared in the wilds.

Word quickly spread about what had happened, but what was more was that some dark curse fell across Marbelain. A shadow had fallen across the hearts of all who dwelt here. For the party it was hard to know whether it was from whatever had been released from that stone, or whether it was the darkness that some of them had let into their hearts.

All was not well.

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The Shadow Draws In
Session 5

The Green Flame

Before finally retiring for the night, the guests of Lady Rena oddly found the colour of their candle flame changed to green. Concerned by this they quickly suited up ready for battle. In that time the flame leaped from the candle and split into two. Then as it got to the floor is changed shape, resembling that of a little person, like a sprite. Before any shenanigans could happen, Berwin threw water over the sprites, evaporating them instantly.

Else where in the town people had not been so lucky and the sprites had been let loose, swiftly starting a number of fires. Thorondir who was sleeping at the inn, awoke to find now a fire, but that a strange magical sigil had carved itself into his room like a waist height banner. He quickly grabbed his gear and went in search of Daeron.

All meeting outside of Lady Rena’s manor, they also encounter Jarl, who asks what the hell is going on in his town, or more specifically if they know what actually caused the fires. Unhappy to hear it was sorcery, he takes them all with him to put out the fires, save for Daeron and Thorondir who break away to the inn to see the writing on the wall.

When they all finally are together putting the fire out, one of the Honey Badgers from the hills comes on over. They pester Jarl while he tries to co-ordinate the fire fighting effort. Brushing them off, they walk away dejected, only to be approached by the party. The Honey Badger explained that something is wrong in the graveyard, people are moving through it and no one should be in the graveyard at this time. Making a hard choice, the players decide to go investigate, having got Jarls blessing, resolving that this could be the people who did this and that’s important.

They get to the cemetery to find the graveyard attendant in presence, though stood on top of one of the larger tombs, battling off the undead. It would seem unnatural fires were the least of the sorcery for the night. They leap forward in defense of him, cutting down the six recently risen corpses. As they fight though, Daeron notices another group of the undead, much larger coming towards them. Holding them back though was a large cloaked figure with a spear.

They soon dispatched the first undead that were trying to claim the life of the grave keeper, only to look and see that the unknown figure was now gone and that the undead were once more shambling towards them. Fearing for the town if all these got to it, they stand and fight. Though they are joined in battle by Ramwulf and Miraldinir, who heard the horn call that the Dwarf made.

Though it was a hard fought battle, and Thorondir was wounded, they eventually managed to lay to test the dead once more. Though their respite was short lived as a most horrific call was made else where within the grave yard. They quickly race on over, coming to the slightly hidden part of the grave that was known as the pit. The mass grave for all the towns murderers and other fiends. Nothing was to be found at the sight, save to see that the ground had been disturbed in four different places. Thorondir looked shaken, he feared he knew what created had risen from the pit.

But the nights ills were not yet over. The grave keeper shook his head in horror as he looked on over to the largest hill in the cemetery. The royal mausoleum that belonged to the Kings of Framsburg lay open, a wreath of green fire around it. Reluctantly to let whatever had left the pit get away, they go up the hill to see what had happened at the mausoleum. Inside they found one of the crypts broken open, putting together the fragments they find out that the name of that particular King had been chiseled out.

With no tracks of the floor of the mausoleum, they know whatever left did not walk. Beaten and tired, they informed Jarl what had occurred and then got what rest they could.

The Firekeeper comes

The firekeeper visited both groups of the players. He came and gave a tall glass of honey to Thorondir and then did the same at the manor, dropping off a larger pot to be shared between the three of them. Very quickly, he is then gone.

The morning was actually then left to the party to do as they wished. Durin got moving on replacing the stone door of the royal mausoleum. Berwin went to go meet her apprentice and get started on the backlog of work for the blacksmith, and found the young lad to be competent, though slow. Thorondir met with lady Dalla to agree to take the trading post, and then went in search of the Firekeeper, though went a long way up a mountain to find him not there.

Lastly, Daeron went to the library and found out very much. His predecessor was actually looking into the King of Fram before he died. His diary would suggest he was researching into the possability that Fram’s line didn’t end with Hauladin. But what was more it did give Daeron an idea of whose spirit was awoken last night. It would seem Hauladin’s father, had his name stricken from the annuals. The only reference ever made to him was ‘The Bloody King’.

The only other noticed things in the library, was two mirrors in the chamber, one of which was cracked and a silver ring with the head of a lion on it. It was then time for the council meeting.

A short meeting

Aldritch referenced talking to an authority of the dead and revealed what Thorondir already knew, that what had risen up from the pit was a Morhg. A creature that has risen from the remains of a person who let the shadow into their life, who had truly fallen to Souron in life. Before they could get much further, it was noticed that the firekeeper was in the room… though when he had come in no one could say.

He took the party away, seeing he had need of them and when they left showed his distaste for council meetings and all the chuntering that goes on. Going up to his tower, he seemed satisfied that there they would not be listened in on. He revealed he had much knowledge of what was going on, or at least thought that he did.

He told the story of the Bloody King, that he was the next to last King of Framsburg and that like many powerful men do he got obsessed with his mortality. His last act was to tie each of his six daughters to trees, in the area known as Maidens Grove. There he left them, till they rotted and were gone. For that his name was removed from all the annuals and he would only be known as the Bloody King.

He also admitted that the Firekeepers had since that time been keeping secret the whereabouts of the Kings Crown. He worries that with it, the Bloody King could become manifest again. Revealing that it was hidden within Castle Grunhold, he always thought it safer away from the town, but not why that was the case. Either way he asked them to go recover the crowd for fear the phantom of the King would go and claim it.

For such a perilous adventure, he gives them a few warnings. Do not be in the castle after the sun goes down, or your soul is lost. Do not go into the dungeon or the spire, for another dark phantom haunts that place. Lastly… do not piss off the woses.

To the castle

Choosing to follow the river to go through as little of the ruins as possible, they have a remarkably uneventful journey on down. Save for stumbling across the tracks of something they would rather not. They found that the Morgh had gone into the ruins and later that it had crossed the river, looking like it was heading towards Mirkwood.

Leaving that for now, they headed to the castle. All around there was the sound of the inhabitants of the ruins, but nothing had caught onto them. They found that the castle had a trench around it and a drawbridge that was the only way across. Taking their time to study their surroundings they identified a few ways to get in. Ultimately though, they resolved to make a fake campfire to lure the nomads away, while they got across the drawbridge.

The plan almost went perfectly, had it not been the premature creation of the smoke before Thorondir was away. Managing to run for his life, the four of them got across the drawbridge while the nomads were distracted. Finally they were inside the castle.

Castle Grunhold

While the town had rotted and decayed, the castle remain an unnatural splendor, though one they choose not to explore too much. Following the directions given, they went upstairs and through the coat room to get to the music hall. There was the great organ where the crown was hidden.

Sadly retreiving it was not so easy. One failed climb up the pipe leg to the elf hitting the floor rather hard, awakening some of the castles residents. A clacking sound could be heard in several of the rooms. When finally Thorodin managed to get it out, they came to realise that there was no light in the hall anymore.

Turning to where the light had been, there was now a grim specter of the King. Hovering off the floor, he wore all the splendor of one of the great Kings, though where there should be flesh there was only bone, save for on his chin were came a long curled goatee beard.

“Too long has this land been without a ruler, one who has inherited the right to wear the crown. Give now what you have taken and be the first to kneel before the new rulers of this land”

Berwin called out to him, declaring him kinslayer who deserves the title of bloody King. When he protested she asked what they should call him. At that the specter came much more gloomly, admitting he could not remember his name anymore, and that it was such a shame they wouldn’t serve him. He vanished before then undead soldiers clad in the Armour of soldiers came walking on in.

Choosing not to fight, Durin grabbed the curtain of the balcony window and pulled it and the rail down. While Berwin shot an arrow into one of the glass windows shattering it. Letting the rail get trapped on the door frame, they threw the curtain of the side and then used it to get down from the balcony.

Running around the other side, they found a group of the undead walking out of the castle, scarring away the Nomads. Alas Durin was the only one to make it to the drawbridge before the undead got in the way of them all. It came down to a fight, one which was won but not before Thorodir, who already suffering from a wound, take another grievous blow and fell.

It was a close call, however with the healing arts of Daeron and getting him back to town, his life was spared. The rest made there way up to the Tower of Cinder to see the firekeeper.

Handing over the crowd he put it in a small chest and locked it away, thanking them for recovering the item before the Bloody King got a hold of it and corrupted it’s use. He also admitted that the other specter of the Castle was Hauladin the last King of Framsburg. Father and son now reunited, it was these two that led to the great cities destruction, two catastrophic and evil men.

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Back Down the River
Session 6

Farewells

With the boat moved into the other river the party were able to start their journey back down the forest river to Erebor to get that crucial coal to the furnaces. On getting down to Barge Way, they were met with the family of Dody and Agatha. The hobbits wished to say their goodbyes as they were off to retake their inn and set up business on the Anduin once more. After which the council gave their goodbyes, with Jarl assuring them the town would be safe until they returned.

Down the River

Stopping off one night, the party had their evening meal and then all passed out. They awoke the next morning to find that several of them were naked, their bodies covered with markings in a feint red dye. Baldor advised them to wash off and that they wouldn’t speak of the event again.

A few days later, they found the two other barges that had been sent down. Advising Baldor to hold off a bit, they moored up, upstream from the other barge. From there they went on down to find that the boats had been attacked, black arrows from orcs stuck into them. An unknown voice then started to talk to them.

The figure never revealed themselves and the voice came from an indeterminable place. It told them that the orcs had attacked both boats and taken most of what was on them, save for the coal which was dumped into the river. It said that the occupants had been taken, but it was not clear whether alive or dead. It informed them that the orcs resided in an old camp of the Woses, who had left this part of the forest long ago.

Deciding that they didn’t want to be ambushed at night, they took it upon themselves to go hunting for the orcs. Scouting around they picked up the trail and started to follow it back to the orcs camp. Along the way they found a lot of traps designed to ensure men and the like. Tactically they re-purposed the traps, however it was to little avail. As they came across the camp they let their presence be known and the whole camp of orcs descended on them.

It was a bloody fight, taking down the whole war band, though stands as a testament to the group bravery. They felled the orcs and their chief, Karzen. Later they took to searching the orcs camp and found that the orcs were acting under the instruction of a great power and that they were piling up bodies underground.

Knowing this was a bad place, they collapsed the warren in.

A quick detour

Returning to Thranduils court they made the delivery of river magic and were well played. They chose not to say and the offer was extended that they would gladly trade for more rivermagic, though at a more reasonable price.

Return to Erebor

Met at the banks of the River by Nar, they were welcomed to their former home. Immediately they were swept away to meet with King Thorin III. There they were given their treasure as a reward for the perilous journey they undertook. Furthermore they were declared friends to the lonely mountain and that hospitality would be granted to them, whenever or for however long they so desired.

With that they were taken to private chamber to rest and recover. In that time they were approached by one of the lords of Erebors halls and asked if they could acquire some of Marbelains famous whiskey and whether it could be sent down regularly. Likewise Thorondir approached Nar to ask if he knew of any other experienced boat crews and how many boats he would be willing to send.

With these answers and the suggestion to find Oin and family, they departed the following morning.

Lake Town and the Long Ride Home

Meeting with Oin at laketown and he agreed he and his boys would man one of the boats up the river to Marbelain and set up a trade route. However a previous engagement meant that he couldn’t go on up with them, leaving them to make the journey back on their own.

The adventure concluded as they rested on more time by the side of the river. A storm had come on down and made the river unsafe to travel. As lightning streaked across the sky, they heard the shrill cry of an eagle. Only to look up and see one fly by overhead and then crash on down into the forest.

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Return to Marbelain
Session 7

Queen of Eight Legs

The eagle made enough of a crash landing that the party were able to track the creature down to where it lay. Wounded and hurt there was little they could immediately do for it. The eagle himself implored the party to leave, that with his dramatic crash the spiders of the Mirkwood would have realised what had happened and they would swiftly come to claim their prize. Refusing to abandon the eagle to it’s fate at the hands of the spiders, they stayed and got ready to fight.

The spiders soon descended upon them, first a few and then many. Even Baldor stayed and with sword drawn got into the fray. Many of the lesser spiders fell onto the heroes blades. However then came something most dark and evil. The area of the forest they were in fell into an unnatural shade and from that shade 8 menacing eyes began to bear down on them.

The spider queen made herself known, a most horrifying visage that shook most of the characters right at their core. She snared the elf and then proceeded to try and feast upon Berwin. Realising how powerful a foe she was, the might of the party fell upon. Several deep cuts were made into her hide, before finally the most surprising of her adversaries, Baldor, rushed forward and sunk the sword of the Blacksmith into her hide.

When the queen fell, her children turned upon her and eat her carcass. While this bestial display of cannibalism was carried out, the party fled with the eagle and crossed the river into Northern Mirkwood. While on the other side, the party rested and tended to their wounds. The eagle properly greeted them and declared his name to be Balathorn, a young eagle (essentially a juvenile).

Balathorn explained that he had made his home within Angmar, assuming the shadow upon the area to be gone with the death of the Witch King and that of Souron himself. However he came to learn that Angmar and the city of Carn Dum had been claimed by a dragon called Urgnost.

Balathorn had since been left homeless and had come to Mirkwood to try and find a territory to call his own, when since he had got caught in the storm and wounded. Meanwhile, Baldor beamed with pride at his accomplishment and had decided to start calling his sword Spider Bane.

Balathorns Tip

In return for saving them Balathorn informed the party of an interesting site he had seen while flying over the Mirkwood. What was perhaps an old Wosey treasury, a set of standing stones with a stone locker, was only a few hours walk from the edge of the River. Knowing where it was, he promised to tell them where to moor up and where to go to find this place.

Intrigues by the possibility of finding what the Woses had left behind, they moored up at the point told to them by Balathorn and went in search of this repository. While walking through the woods they come across a number of strange items. Hanging from the tree’s were twigs, fashioned together to look like little place.

Despite been careful, Daeron and Thorondir bumped into these little dangling charms, which then fell from the tree. Daeron tried to put his back up, but found tieing the knot just came undone and the little wooden man fell to the ground again. Unsure what to do, he put it into his pocket. Whereas Thorondir was disturbed by this, apologised profusely for knocking into it and left the charm on the ground.

Finding the standing stones they inspect the area and find there to be nothing that would suggest the Woses had been here for some time. The stone lid was heavy and took some moving, but on been shoved slide back to reveal it was a repository for all the things the Woses had clearly found over the years.

However as they took from the casket, the brush was parted by men made of wood that resembled the hanging trinkets, but which were full size and stood like any man. Clacking and moving in a rickety fashion, they stumbled on over. Thorondir thinking they were protecting the treasure, told everyone to put it back. However as they passed by him and took a hold of Daeron, it became clear they were after something else.

Figuring it out, Daeron gave back the little wooden man, and two of the full size ones left with it. However the remaining four began to drag him away, until Berwin intervened and demanded they leave him alone for he had done no harm. Seeming to respect her authority, they let go and amble back into the woods.

Safe once more they took the treasures, which included much gold coins, a bracelet, necklace and beard ring of dwarvish design, along with a shaft of wood, seemingly of Elf craft.

Once more back on the river and little happened. Save for Daeron complaining that the frogs wouldn’t leave him alone at night.

Back to Marbelain

Returning to Marbelain they met with Erland and Kelda, the former river boat craftsman that in hard times had become fisherman. They welcomed everyone back and marvelled at the eagle Belethorn. Leaving him behind with them two, the group made their way to Marbelain to meet with the council, knowing they had a matter to deal with.

Baldor took the chance to talk to them about the decision they were making. He reminded them that the Eagle would come with an expensive upkeep if he remaining in the town, but agreed that having such a guardian living in the mountain would be greatly beneficial. He also reminded them that politics isn’t always about the right ideas and sometimes just devolves into people disagreeing just to antagonise a rival.

With that in mind they set about to divide and conquer the council. Thorondir and Durin went to meet with Aldritch and get his support, while Daeron and Berwin went to get the fire keeper and get his support, asking him to only make the suggestion that the Eagle would perch atop the tower of Cinder.

In two hours it will be time for the council session.

Having gathered up the remaining river boats, they got back to Marbelain with few other distractions.

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On Feathered Wings
Session 8

The Council Meeting

With the council starting without Burwin and Daeron, it left Thorondir and Durin to starting the discussions. The eagles case was presented and in a surprising twist, the reception by the councillors was positive, if practical. The issue of food was raised, and soon after of housing. Aldritch was adamant that the town treasury couldn’t be given the burden of compensating the farmers for all their lost animals over the years.

It thus fell to the group to pay for Belethorn. Unsure if they come, they received aid from Lady Dalla. Choosing to side with them, she offered to pay the remaining cost to the council. Afterwards it was commented that the party truly are having a positive impact on the town. No one else has ever got the council to so universally be behind something.

The last little bits

The councils offer was extended to the eagle, who graciously accepted, commenting on how wonderful Marbelain must be, in been so accepting of strangers. Shortly after Aldritch came to formally offer a place to him and the two shook hands to accept (in a fashion).

From here Thorondir spend a few days getting to know his employees. Berwin spent time with Kol and Durin visited Lady Rena along with Daeron. Everyone was home, and everyone was happy.

The Fellowship Phase

Over the winter the characters did much to pass the time.

Durin helped rebuild the towns orphanage, a charitable act indeed. While Berwin was equally charitable in forging several dozen finest shields in order to equip a standby militia. Daeron spent much time tending to the home of Lady Rena, particularly to the garden. While Thorondir took to the art of fishing… or at least singing while fishing.

Later Berwin would go on to forge her most recent master piece. A great shield of most perfect made Dwarven steel and elven wood. While Daeron poured over Marbelains library and came to find a secret a lost secret, involving a talking statue from Fram and the rough whereabouts of it’s location. Lastly Thorondir made good on one of his promises, getting Erebor an emergency supply of coal, helping build up it’s store once more.

The winter was also the time of a few revelations. Berwin was visited by Lady Fayne of the council:

In a friendly warning she said to ignore the little bickering of the council as mere friendly rivalry and that the only person to truly be weary of was Elerai, the Inn keeper.

Durin by happen chance came across Banruff, the towns spice merchant, who he had only ever seen in passing. Banruff eagerly thanks Durin and his friends for all the help they had done, particularly commenting on how well they seemed to bring everyone together.

Daeron however got to see the gradual changes in Lady Rena. As her ladyship spent time in her newly renovated home, now showing fine elven craft, and her garden which had practically become magical in nature. He saw how much improved she seemed, and how he hadn’t noticed before, but how much shadow actually lay over her. Yet seemingly with new friendships and something deeper, and the wellness of an Elven garden, she is now a new person.

Finally Thorondir was visited with Ramwulf, who came to make mention that he was leaving town for a bit to go into the mountains. Locals had started talking about some beast that was lurking around, and that there had been two disappearances. So as the towns ‘premier’ hunter, he was going on up to take care of the problem and that he wouldn’t likely be back until later in the summer.

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The Lost Retreat pt 1
Session 9

The start of spring

With the events of the winter now behind them, the scattered members of the group get back together to discuss their plans now that spring was here. They met at Thorondirs trading post, and while the other local families broke bed together outdoors, the group met in private and shared food alike.

So much had happened it was hard for them to think what was the most pressing matters. A poisoner was still at large, as was the Morag, not lease the black numenorean and the Two Wayward Kings. But most of Daerons mind was what he had learnt over the winter by reading through the Annuals. The statue that offered wisdom and perhaps counsel in all matters.

The others intrigued by this decided it was something they could do, though that they should know more about before they pursued it. They resolved to go meet with the fire keeper the next morning.

Up to the tower

Visiting the fire keeper they inquired as to whether he knew what this statue might be, having seen to be the local expert on all things to do with Framsburg. He revealed that a statue had been part of the treasure chamber of castle Fram, which was known as the Tennbriss. A statue that had been crafted in the exact likeness Nerdanel, the wife of Feanor. By perfectly resembling her it had no small amount of her essence in it and so had a life of it’s own, dispensing wisdom, much like Nerdanel was renowned for.

Other than that, he knew bugger all. But it would be great if it could be found and brought to the Tower of Cinder for safe keeping.

Back to the Risky Woods

Following the path they knew back to the snowman, they crossed by Burchest’s farm. The rancher was doing well, though warned them that since the cracking of the stone, the forest had become even more foreboding than usual. He recounted how it felt like the edge of the woods were further away, like it had receded, but how it had got denser and more tightly closed. He also warned that at night it hissed.

With no choice but to go in, they approached the edge of the forest and found that none of the paths they followed before actually were there. Instead abruptly ending at the edge of the woods which now had a thick layer of undergrowth.

Pushing on in, they entered the smothering forest and felt the heavy weight that hung within the air. The forest more than ever gave a foreboding feeling, like one which naturally wanted to make the heroes leave. Still, two seasons of walking through Mirkwood had steeled them against such malign powers and the group thought on to the other side and out.

The mountains and the snowman

From there they scaled up the mountain to the snowy top and to where the snowman resided. Inspecting over the strange monolith they found that no new heads had been mounted on the spikes, at least reassuring them that the trolls had no followers. The snowman however, for what could be seen of it had changed. The worked stone, while not having any features simply emanated anger.

While Thorondir amused on whether sacrifices should be made to the statue to stop it’s wrath from falling on the town, the other urged that such shadowy practices should never be performed, even for a greater good.

Exploring the peaks and troughs of the rough mountain top, it took some time before finally they had passed all the noted landmarks and came to what must be the cave entrance they were after. Seemingly too wide to be a normal cave, Durin commented that this had once been natural but then had been worked to make it wider. Thorondir however noted all the tracks that came from cave, at least two different beasts resided within.

Inside the cave

Entering on in they came to found just how honey combed this part of the range was with caves. A central shaft seemed to slope on down and was the natural way to progress, however the character made note of how many smaller paths left off. However it seemed that the area isn’t always so hospitable, a crack in the mountain left a 12ft ravine. With no choice but to get across it, they tired Thorondir off and let him make the jump.

What should have been an easy leap however turned awry, when at the last minute Thorondir stumbled in his stride having seen something that spooked him. He jumped off course and didn’t have the momentum to carry him across. Painfully the rope caught him and swung him on back to their side, colliding with the edge of the ravine.

Slightly wounded, he reported how at the last moment he had seen an undead figure looking at him from the other side. Berwin challenged him on this having stood guard. During resolved to jump across himself, been possibly the best suited to fight an undead menace in such close quarters. He made the jump and found nothing on the other side, the rest soon followed.

The Tunnel Collapse

Following the central shaft, they soon come to a dead end. A collapsed section barred their way, though oddly they found half of the remains of someone who had been caught out by the collapse. The rusted armour was suggest to be that of a member of one of the first Cerulean guards, back in the early age of Framsburg. With him was his sword, which as Daerom picked it up the rotted scabbard fell off to find an impossibly preserved sword whose edged still gleamed and glittered in the light. Along with this was his satchel, most of the contents rotted to dust, save for one finely worked signet ring. It bore the head of a lion, like another ring that had been found.

The Elven Sanctuary

Having to via off course and find away around the blockage, they stumbled through the dark till they found the one chamber that had it’s own light. Shards of ice grew from the floor, or down from the ceiling and were filled with a pale blue light, much like that of Luinil. They felt of elven craft and care, lending that natural magic that all elves put into their works. To the touch they softly resonated. A miraculous wonder but not the one they were after. Carefully they made their way through to not disturb the garden of ice.

The Trolls Lair

In the lower parts of the cavern, they came across the unmistakable tracks of the troll, the other inhabitant of the caves. Entering into his lair, they find themselves luckily coming in when he’s not around. For the most part his lair was just piles of rotten remains, a shag pile of fur and stolen garments from the town and other trinkets. Of interest was the pile of ‘shinys’ that he had collect and tossed to one side when he was bored with them.

Cats Lair

Rejoining the main path that they had been force off they descended down into the lowerst chamber and found what they were looking for. Striding out onto a centre isle, the chamber was large enough that most of it was lost to darkness, particularly a horse shoe shaped area around the isle that clearly was standing water of unknown depth.

From the edge of the darkness, two eyes opened on up with cat like pupils. A gruff though somewhat impressive voice called on out, challenging the perceived ‘treasure hunters’. Denying them entrance he called their bluff when one protested their innocence, having pointed out they bore treasure taken from the trolls horde.

Luckily Berwin came into action and showed off the blue cloak of the cerulean guard that they had been given. It was then the huge snow cat bound from the edge of the room and into their light to be seen for the first time. Larger than any other snow cat, it was also clearly able to talk and had no small amount of wisdom.

Conversing Daeron explained what it was they were after. The cat, referring to the statue as ‘Mother’ refused them to take it, stating categorically that she would not be taken away, but they they may seek her counsel, and as members of the Cerulean guard they were free to come and seek such wisdom whenever they may.

Bounding off to the darkness again, leaving only the eyes watching them from the shadows. They were left to walk on forward and through one inch of frigid water, as they walk to the back of the chamber and to the shrine. Worked stone had properly been carved to make a shrine fitting of the visage of Lady Nerdanel. However it was no ordinary statue, crafted not from stone, the statue was in fact perfect cast metal, polished to the point of not a single rough edge. It perfectly captured the beauty of the lady who was posed with her arms out to her side though lowered, one palm open while the other was closed into a fight.

Without having needed introduction, she welcomed each hero by name and position. Then offered them for the dangerous path they had taken one of two gifts. A gift of the now from the open hand, or a gift of the tomorrow from the closed first. After much debate they chose the closed first. To which the statue said:

“Where stone falls onto white snow, wait till the light of first sun and scatter prismatic glass of wondrous light, then rejoice as the path yields onto you”

Her closed hand reached out and opened, letting a number of small glass beads of various colours fall onto the floor. Not one bounced away, instead all landing and forming a perfect little pile. Berwin thought for a moment on what she had said, and then remembered how she had been told of ‘Hook Peak’ where one of the local mountains ended not in the typical peak, but instead in a hook, shielding one of the sides from snow been able to settle. There for most of the year instead a wall of stone cascades down to the plateau of the range where great snow drifts form.

Other questions were asked, and matters discussed, but for now they had got what they came for, or at least all they would get. Leaving they met once more with the Great Cat, who asked two promises of them, in return for a quicker way out of the cave network. He asked them to tell no one of where Mother was, that they quested for her but she was never found. Secondly that they ask the eagle to not hunt around the pastures of that part of the range. Food is scarce enough, and cat has never got on with bird.

The return home

With the shortcut out, they soon found themselves back in the wood. This time so much more weary and beaten. Daeron did not have the strength to cast off the darkness and while the others tried to carry on, he came sullen and agitated. His hand on his bow in ill-conceived anger, it looked for the worse until Berwin started to sing, and led him out of the plagued woods.

They were home.

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