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.
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.