Rangers of the North

S04E02 - The Beast of Carn Dûm
Wherein Barhador and Brólin are accosted by a familiar fiend in the deeps of Carn Dûm

The walls of Carn Dûm are radiating with palpable evil, tainted and unclean from the centuries of serving as the lair of a dragon. They make their way ever deeper, until at last they find the Great Hall and the dragon’s hoard. No sooner are they within and found no trace of Jack Fleetfoot, that they hear the way barred behind them, and they hearken an insalubrious voice: “So you come at last, Oathbreaker.”
Both remain at a loss; no amount of Dúnadan, Elven or Dwarven lore explains the sobriquet.
“There are no Oathbreakers here,” calls Barhador from behind their cover. “You are mistaken, stranger.”
A guttural, harsh laugh echoes over the dragon’s hoard, and they hear long, heavy strides on the gold and jewel-strewn floor. “I know exactly who you are, Feredir, son of Tauron. Though you sent me to Hell, I have returned, and now I will have my vengeance.”
Barhador stands from behind cover, and beholds the Beast of Tyrn Hyarmen – the Werewolf of the South Downs. It is larger and more monstrous than in Barhador’s memory, but he stands proud and tall facing it, his mission a holy one, and all creatures of Evil his sworn enemies.
“The Enemy has been vanquished, Unclean Spirit. There is no place for you anymore on Middle-earth”.
The Beast laughs its coughing laugh again. “There is much place for many evils yet on this world, son of Man,” he snarls. “But you are broken. Your Fellowship is broken, and without it you are no one and alone. The lone Ranger you always feared to be.”
At this Brólin stands. “He is not alone yet.”
Barhador clasps his friend’s shoulder and smiles darkly. “I have all the Companions I have need of.”
“Oh, verily?” grins the Werewolf. “Hearken! The sounds of your fellows perishing carries from without!”
And true enough, the cries of warriors, the sounds of battle and the trumpeting of the dragon, echoes down the corridors and to their very ears.
Undaunted, Barhador and Brólin grit their teeth. They share a glance, and both can read the other’s intent.
“Stand aside, Foul Thing,” growls Barhador. “The dragon is our quarry, not some lowly lieutenant.”
The Beast’s eyes flash in anger.
“Stand aside? Or else, petty mortal?”
“Or else I destroy you again, as I have done before. Yea, you might appear more foul and formidable after your time in Hell, but know that also I am more formidable by far than when last I slaid you. Behold the wrath of the Valar!”
And with that Barhador pulls Aeglin from its sheath and thrusts it high in the air before the monster. The blade burns with a deep, clear blue, and crackles with its power. Though daunted, the Werewolf is not turned, and he turns to strike.
Barhador is quicker, and slashes it across the abdomen, scouring it with electric blue, bringing it to its knees. It staggers and struggles to rise, but manages to grasp a large piece of fallen masonry and hurls it at Brólin, making him miss his mark, swinging his terrible mace through empty air. Dismayed by the burning flame of Aeglin, the Beast attempts to leap clear of its biting path, but it is too slow, and Barhador strikes its legs out under it, and a blinding flash of lighting makes it cry out in pain. It leaps impossibly high, and lands on the parapet above, rolling to safety, panting. Leaning out over the ledge, it mocks: “Hearken! The sound of your Companion’s dooms draws nigh!” Barhador point to a half-hidden door below the ledge, and motions Brólin to follow.
Its terrible, though laboured laughter, accompany the two as they race down the secret tunnel from whence Jack and Feredir once emerged into the hall. Up and towards the light it leads, the terrible sounds of frantic combat grow ever louder, until they emerge onto a terrace, and the head of an oxen strikes the landing before them, almost crushing them.

To be continued…

S04E02 - The March to Angmar
Wherein the Company of the Dragon comes to Angmar

The signs of the Coming of Scorba were many, to those that could interpret them. In the Song of the woods Idhrhis could hear them, and in the stars above Elthir read them. Many small creatures were fleeing across the North Downs, and at Nenuial many Men saw in them foreboding omens of infestations of vermin. And omens they were, but none could discern the true meaning behind these migrations, apart from Barhador of the Rangers of the North. He had come to Nenuial with the Company of the Dragon, having repaired to these lands to make their final preparations before setting out for their long trek to Angmar and the lair of Scorba. They had oxen and great carts, and long pieces of secret equipments hidden in great tarpaulins. Some Brock had made in the great furnaces of Thorin’s Halls, some they had acquired through bribery and other means among the construction workers at Annúminas, and some were from as far away as Rivendell, the homes of the Beijabar in the upper Vales of Anduin, and Dale and the Iron Mountains. For most of the way, the Company employed drivers and attendants, but when they reached the last of the North Downs, these were dismissed. They undertook the arduous march across En Udanoriath alone, and would risk no others.

This was a desolate land, but not empty. Once fertile farmland pertaining to Northern Arnor, the grasslands were dotted with old, broken towers and ruins. It was not a hard land, but with grass reaching their shanks, it was hard going with the great wheels on the ox-carts. Not seldom did the Men and Dwarves have to spend their strength shouldering the carts up the gentle slopes of golden grasslands. The sun was still warm, but their sweat cooled rapidly in the coming night-chill, and the four had to wrap themselves tightly in their cloaks and skins at night while the Elves kept watch. The closer they came to Angmar, the less open fires did they build, and their provisions were spread out accordingly, with the perishables early in the journey, and taking mostly what they could eat uncooked towards their end. An end that they could see approaching across the vast downs, almost quicker than they should wish, even though the trek was painfully drawn out despite their hurry. They knew that although their initial plan was to have the element of surprise on the Dragon, Barhador cautioned them that it might wake at any moment, and that it would seek them out. Thus they came to prepare each camp as if it were their trap, ready to spring it at the cry of the watchman.

This came to pass.

They had come onto the old roads leading into Angmar, and could espy the western tip of the northern mountains in the distance. The Elves could already see their goal: Carn Dûm, though many leagues lay between them and the Dragon’s Dwarf-citadel lair. They crossed the Angsîr, and made their camp, but had not rested long when Idhrhis cried alarm. His Elven eyes could well see the shadow coming across the Nan Angmar, and yet it was upon them before they were even fully roused for battle, Barhador pulling on his helmet just as the Dragon thundered down among them and spewed his deadly fire across their camp. Dodging ahead, Barhador cast aside his cloak, and cried out: “Valar valuvar, lan i Valaron arcanwar tauvar! – The will of the Valar will be done, while the Thrones of the Valar endure!” He thrust his mighty blade Aeglin high into the air; Aeglin, forged in Gondolin, having tasted the flesh of Dragons more than once over the six thousand years since its forging, and with the conviction of the Valar imbuing Barhador with his prayer, he shone as if with the White Light of Valinor itself. Scorba recoiled in terror, and fled in a circle above them, out of the reach of the many arms the Company had fashioned to slay him, which they now futilely shook at him, and he snarled, his scales shuddering and reverberating, his mouth spitting deadly fire in disgust. Shamed and routed, the Dragon feigned disinterest, announcing to his assailants below that he would soon as not get to them; instead, he would rather deal with his other robbers first, and leave them to ponder their doom. And with that, and accompanied by the song-arrows of Idhrhis, he whirled around and disappeared southwards, soon out of sight.

Although they had been expecting an assault by the Worm, the Company was greatly shook by the ordeal. Some few had burns that needed tending, and some of their equipment had been broken when the Dragon landed among them. But though unsettled, they were not yet daunted: instead, it was with a grimmer resolve that they picked up their equipments, struck camp, and strode on. Barhador entertained a moment’s anguish for the other members of the Conspiracy; Salabon, Beoraborn and Eadyth all held golden coins from the Dragon’s hoard. But it passed as reason reentered him: Salabon dwelled in Minas Tirith, and Beoraborn in Greenwood the Great; both far too removed from the Dragon’s wrath. He would not chance leaving even Eriador with his treasures untended. And even if he dared voyage all the way to Rohan – which Barhador also doubted – he knew that Eadyth had passed away, having visited with her while she was on her death bed. No, the only peril was to themselves, and from Dragon Lore they all knew the Dragon would now hunt enough to fill himself, and either fall into a slumber on the banks of some river, or would return engorged to its lair and rest before his next assault. And having been routed so thoroughly already, even though he did not suffer any wound, he was unlikely to risk another blind attack in his pride. His next strike would be shrewd, not unsubtle.

Thus the Company of the Dragon trudged on, and so they came before the lair of Scorba in the Halls of Carn Dûm, even before the coming of the Worm. And while the other Companions swiftly laid out their elaborate traps, Barhador and Brólin stole into the halls of Carn Dûm; Barhador to search for Jack Fleetfoot, and Brólin to marvel at his ancestors’ craftsmanship. But when they came to the prodigious hoard, they found no living soul.

Jack Fleetfoot was not there.

S04e01 - Darkness Awakens
Wherein the Dread Wyrm Scorba stirs...

Beoraborn was a Man, the last of the shape-shifting Northmen known as Beornings. His line could be traced all the way back to the Three Houses of the Edain in the First Age, a legacy that could be read in his formidable height and massive strength. Many years had passed since Beoraborn had felt toil and strife on his thick hide. Now, he lay basking in the last of the warm sun rays of summer. Autumn would soon be upon his tribe and harvest would be good this year. He had gathered to him all the remaining kin of his kind, and they had rebuilt their steads and holdings. Greenwood was cleansed of all but the most stubborn of evil; all but the old fortress of the Necromancer, but that too would come to pass into sunlight. He grabbed a handful of honeyed forest nuts and quaffed them down with a mouthful of cellar-cool ale he had traded earlier this summer. A make-shift trading post had grown up around the small steading on the skirts of Greenwood, and here came the people of Dale and Laketown, the horse-men of Rohan, and all others who would trade between Anduin and Rhovanion. As most Beornings, Beoraborn was at first loathe to welcome strangers into his lands, but he was of a different ilk than his predecessors, and he had wandered far beyond the Woods and the mountains, and knew many tongues and ways of Men. Even with strangers traipsing about, his was a safe village, and people knew this. They also knew of Beoraborn. He was a named warrior, a champion of the War of the Ring, an experienced adventurer, a man who could be counted on to care for those under his protection. When wistfulness got the better of him, Beoraborn would, as he did now, retire to his little smithy (a quaint feature in a Beijabar dwelling – the love of iron was what drove Beoraborn from his people all those many years ago), where he would find his adventuring effects, his arms and his small treasures. By old habit he opened his glass treasure box finding the most valuable item. The gold coin from the hoard of the Dragon,Scorba, where his old friend, the Hobbit Jack Fleetfoot, slept under an enchantment, having sacrificed himself to eternal sleep with the Dragon. “How strange” Beoraborn said to himself. “The gold is warm to the touch. As if the coin has been lying in the sun for several hours. This must mean…” He stopped. Turned around and whistled a sharp tone, calling for the many beats with which he shared his home. “You must find my friends,” he told them. “And hasten, before it is all too late!”

Nestaron Mistion, Salabon to his close friends, sat behind his oaken desk in the library in Minas Anor. He had just finished a lecture in the healing powers of the herbs of the North.
The subject awoke in him deep longings. “It has been such a long time since last I walked the lands of Bree, Anuminas, Minas Brethil…” he mused, as he poured himself some tea sweetened by honey. “I wonder if I’ll ever espy the rustic beauty of the North again.” His thoughts were broken by a knock at the door.
“Who knocketh without? Speak, friend, and enter,” cried Salabon.
The door opened and without stood a young Man clad in traveling accoutrements of the Horselords.
His were hair and beard of the fiery red of Eadyth’s clan, yet his face carried the unmistakably Aquiline features of the Númenoreans.
The two men gazed upon each other, each gauging the other and trying to make sense of the other’s person.

“Āhlehh fæder: Hér bió ic!” The younger man finally spoke in the tongue of the Rohirrim.
“Rejoice father: Here I am!”
Rhaich!” muttered Salabon under his breath. “I see it now.” Well he remembered the night before the fight with Corlagon, when Eadyth came to his bed, waxing about how it might be their last night alive, how the fear of dying and the warmth of Beoraborn’s fortified mead had combined into a lust for life, and some mîl in the bushes. He smiled despite himself. He now had an heir. A bastard heir, but an heir nontheless. Father would hate that. Salabons grin grew wider.
“I bring tidings of Eadyth, Mother,” the young man, Edmund, told him. He recounted the tale of Eadyth’s wound during the war and her reclining health. “…and she gave me this.” Edmund handed Salabon a golden coin. He knew that coin for it was a coin from the dragon Scorba’s horde. It was warm to the touch, as if had been left by a warm fireplace for some time.
“It is time” Edmund said. “The Dragon is awaking.”

Barhador sat by the shore of lake Evendim as the sun set behind the mountains in the west. Lately he had felt as though he was slowly awakening from a dream. That feeling you have just before you open your eyes after a nights rest. But forget about that. The ruins of Annuminas were now safe from the bands of orks that had made the old Numenorian buildings their home these last years. The emissaries, engineers and working men from Gondor had now nothing to fear. The King would soon be able to travel to a rebuild city.
Barhador rose and walked westwards. A thrush had told tales of ork kind and maybe a troll.
There were always work to do.

“My husband will see you know” the queen spoke to them.
Edmund had never seen such beauty as the queen. But then again, he had never seen any Elves. Or heard any. The way her words seem to come together as if they were sung. Her demeanor were not that of authority, but of a close friend. Were his true father really friends with King Elessar and Queen Arwen?
The King too greeted them as old friends.
“Salabon! Sit. Speak. I heard you come bearing news?”
“Yes. Grave words I am afraid.” Salabon handed the King the warm piece of gold coin.
“The Dragon awakes, so I am afraid I must away at great haste.”
“Go! Hurry! You have my blessing and my horses. I will personally see to it that your responsibilities are taken care of. Away at once and god speed.” The king hurried them along for he had been told the tale of Corlagon, Scorba and the sleeping Halfling.

Below her the White City seemed much like a beehive, but smelled worse. How the humans could live like this were beyond her reason, but the bear-man had told her to fly here, fast, to find the man-who-smelled-of-dried-flowers and tell him of dragon.
She knew where to find him, for she had delivered messages before.
She landed in the window to the forrest-room and waited for he man.
And not long after he came.
“Dragon” she cawed.
“I know” the Man replied.
“Tell bear-man to meet us at horse-home.”
“Food! Silver!” she cawed.
Flower-man gave her some dried fruit av a piece of glittering silver and she took of. Happy to return home to the green forrest

Beoraborn packed his bear sack, filling it with honey cakes, newly sharpened and polished weapons and his armor. Said goodbye to his wives and took of. Horse-home, Rohan, Salabon had told the crow. The middle point between the dale lands and Gondor.
In bear form he would spend a few days running. He were an enormous bear when he chose animal form. People would see him at miles distance and most would stay away. There would be no trouble, he knew that. Both elves and Rohirim respected the large beorning and knew of his prowess as a fighter. As he croseed the border to Rohan he knew the Eorlingas would keep their eyes on him, but he knew also that he would be greeted as a friends for he was always glad to share his skills both as a brewer and as a smith, teaching both the art of blacksmithing as well as weapon and armor smithing.

“We will fight till first blood from the torso” Salabon said. “I need to know of you skill with the sword. After that we will have an hour of elven poetry and then some knowledge in the art of espionage”
Salabon stood in a classical defense stance.
Edmund lifted his sword as if to strike, but feigned and hit Salabon across his chest with his shield. Dazed Salabon could do nothing but put all his swordsman’s skill into defense. The boy showed great potential. The steel rung as Salabon parried the young man’s assault. Downstroke, backhand, overhand and spinn. His mother had taught him well. Salabon stepped left leading with his sword in a quick stabbing motion. Edmund feigned left then right and bashed with his shield again. A sharp pain by his ribs told him he had lost, but his father fell by the hard strike of the shield. Salabon opened his eyes as stared up on his bastard son. “You won” Edmund told him. If Salabon had won, he couldn’t feel it. Luckily it was only his ego that had been bruised.
It wasnæt only swordplay his mother hat taught him. Edmund were also an apt skald. Words came easy to him though he chose them well and did not spend them frivolously.

Some days later they arrived in Edoras. Salabon, greeted as a friend, often stopping an giving sweets to the children and chatting with men and women alike. Asking farmers of the harvest to come and giving advise of ails and remedies. As a summer thunderstorm Beoraborn were upon them gathering them both in a proper bear hug nearly relieving them of breath. “Friends!” he said. “It is good to see you! Long time!” His grin was fitting a man his size. Beoraborn put them both down and lokked from one man to the other. “I knew your mother” Beoraborn told Edmund. “I fought with her, she were a great warrior, you should be proud. How is she?” Edmund told the tale of Eadyth once more for he felt a great familiarity with this enormous man. “I am sad to hear of here health, but I am even more sad to tell you what I have discovered.” Beoraborn looked grim.

In a glade in a forest Barhador fought as a man not wholly awake. His form was impeccable, his foes chanceless, but he was going through the motions, not fighting with art in his heart. Something was preoccupying him, and he was unable to put his finger on it. It had taken him less than two days to discover the whereabouts of the raiding Orcs, and leading them to this glade he had arranged a perfect ambush. Aided by the sunlight, he attacked them in the open, completely unexpected. The Orcs never stood a chance. Keep one alive to tell the tale, Barhador reminded himself. The he struck, as if violently, but in his spirit, not his body. He felt as if awakening. It emanated from the medallion he had found within his pack now more than 30 years before, the one sown in there by Jack Fleetfoot. Suddenly he was wide awake, as if the last 20 years had been but a dream, as if he had been sleepwalking the whole time. He was more real, the colours more vivid. Time was almost standing still. His reactions were sharper. He was if possible in even greated control of the fight. It was as dancing. He knew the steps. Left, slash, right,feign, backhand, duck, underhand, stab, two steps right, cross swipe. “I should have left one alive” he came to realize. And then he stopped. “I am waking” he thought, “Truly waking”. He grabbed his pouch producing his gold coin from the hoard of Scorba. It was warm." “If I am stirring, so is Jack. And if he stirs…. Then it is time.”

S04E00 - prologue: The Company of the Dragon
Wherein Barhador forms the Company of the Dragon

Throughout the years of his imprisonment Feredir held report with those birds that would come to him, and knew much of what occurred outside, but he was ever unable to deliver a message, as any allies proved too far removed, save one, who shared his cell. His trusted companion Ancalagon, though greatly outliving other of his marten-kin, lived hidden among the prisons for many years. But though long-lived, he could not escape his doom as a lesser beast, and would seldom find his way to the dungeons of Feredir and Salabon, as the guards kept many beasts with which to torment and guard their prisoners. Greatly did Feredir mourn the loss of his trusted ally. Grey Cloak, the great wolf of Evendim, returned to Angmar, and guarded the entrance to Scorba’s lair. Many Orcs did he slay there after the War, who had come seeking a new Master. When Feredir finally escaped captivity, Grey Cloak knew it in his heart, and set off across Middle-earth, to meet with his master on the borders of Rohan, where they were finally reunited.

Thereafter for four years Barhador, as he now named himself, and Grey Cloak wandered much in Eriador, in Númeriador, and into Mirkwood and Wilderland, and even beyond, a solitary vigilante, ever fighting the scattered agents of Sauron where he would find them. But much lore and knowledge he sought, as was the chief purpose of his roamings, and he would wander to any village, stead or ruin that held rumour of Dragon lore. Much he knew already, and much he learned. Thus, he became known to many as the Dark Sage, for he would oft-times be swaddled in his long, grey cloak, his grizzled face shadowed by his wide-brimmed hat, perhaps resembling one of the Wizards, or other dark loremasters of legend. And ever his companion was the great wolf Thingol, striking fear among Men, but never harming any living creature save the servants of Sauron. Others named him Erefarad, the last of the Rangers, and truly, so he was, the only one of that people still roaming the wilderness. Others called him Shadow, or Ghost, or the Grey Wolf of the Downs, for he would stalk forests and ditches and fens, and only be seen when he wished to be so, and woe unto the enemies of Men and Elves who crossed his paths. Orcs knew of him, and trolls, and other fell beasts hiding from the Reckoning after the War, and they feared him, for they knew not who, or what, he was. Had they known, they would have feared him still, for his heart burned, as did his eyes, with the fervour of the Valar, to whom he had pledged himself completely. His task that he had set before him was to rid Middle-earth of the servants of Darkness where he would find them, though the doom of Scorba the Great was his plight, and that path was his own alone. He had long since decided to seek this task alone, to spare his one-time Companions. He still felt the pain of Salabon’s betrayal too great, and shame for the loss of Baran, sorrow for not being able to defend Eldacar who lost his fate of Elves, and great grief for Jack Fleetfoot’s sacrifice. But he would be confounded to that end, for although he found great joy in seeing Beoraborn reclaiming his people, and contenmnet that at least one of his Companions had found peace, he would inevitably cross paths with his other Companions, Idhris the Lindoner, Brólin of the Iron Hills and Svendir the Spearman, and those Companions would not be refused in aiding in the downfall of Scorba.

In those days he rekindled his friendship with the birds and beasts. Therefore, he vowed to no longer eat any flesh nor slay any living thing that was not in the service of Sauron, as a tribute to the line of Beren Erchamion, his distant kinsman echoing through the Ages. They would aid and guide him, and never betray him, for they, too, recognised the strange kinship with Beren, and eventually, they led him back to Imladris.

Bròlin, Idhrhis and Svendir had receiced word of his coming, for many creatures and omens spoke of it, and so they were all there, in Rivendell, when Barhador arrived. At first, Barhador would not allow his old friends to join him, but they managed to persuade him that they had all read signs and portents that this was their path, and he was therefore unwilling to deny them. Therefore, the Companions took counsel with the Sons of Elrond, and they it was that pointed to the clouded lands beyond the Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. For in that mysterious and distant land, said they, were the last vestiges of Beleriand that was before, destroyed in the battles against the Black Enemy in the War of Wrath, in Ages past. When Beleriand fell, Men, Elves and Dwarves all fled south and east, and all else was swallowed by the wrath of Ossë and his master Ulmo. These tales Barhador knew well, for they were often told in the Imladris of his youth. There, said they, the Dwarves of old knew secrets that had allowed them to drive away even the mighty Glaurung, Father of Dragons, himself. With them, the Sons of Elrond sent Elthir, young in the years of the Elves, but knowledgeable about the Elven-lore of the creatures of Morgoth, and trusted and loyal servant of Imladris. So say the Sons of Elrond. He would therefore serve as the representative of Imladris, if Barhador and the Companions wanted any help from the Elves of Rivendell. And so, their party swelled, grudgingly accepted by Barhador, the Companions set out from Imladris to the distant mountains beyond the Lhûn.

In the ancient days, the Blue Mountains were an unbroken chain separating Eriador from Beleriand, before they were brought to ruin during the War of Wrath. And so, they ruptured, and gave way to the sea under the might of Ossë and his master Ulmo. The great Dwarven citadels Nogrod and Belegost were also ruined when the mountains broke, and most of the Dwarves migrated east, towards Khazad-dûm. Now, these cities are but a distant memory, and the Dwarves of Ered Luin are mostly Thorin’s folk, dwelling in the halls of his people. Here, Dwalin still lives, once Bilbo’s companion, and ally to Feredir, Brólin, Idhrhis, Beoraborn and Svendir during the Battle of the Borderlands. Dwalin welcomes them as such, and they spend some time with him learning such lore of Nogrod and Belegost as survived with the refugees from the War of Wrath. When Dwalin learns of their quest, he tells them of a Dwarf named Brock, a prodigious smith and lorekeeper, who has spent much time trying to delve after the remnants of Belegost on the western slopes of the Ered Luin. Many artifacts has he found, though most have been destroyed beyond use, but Dwalin forebodes that he will have valuable counsel in this quest. Dwalin himself leads them through many secret passes into Forlindon, and points them to the hidden path that leads to the dwellings of Brock. Brooding and fierce, Brock is at first unwilling to talk to the four strangers, especially as two are Elves, but as he learns of their Quest, a glint is born in his eyes, and he disappears to rummage around in his hut for some time, before emerging with several ghastly hoods in a leather-like metal. He explains that these are his attempts at recreating Dwarf-masks of Azaghâl. It were these which allowed the Naugrim of Belegost to withstand better than any others in Beleriand the fires of Glaurung, Father of Dragons, and the secret that allowed them to defeat the Worm. They have prodigious resistance to fire, but Brock has no way of knowing if they actually serve their purpose against an actual Dragon. The Companions are desperate enough to take the risk, and so their ranks swell again, as Brock the Dwarf packs up his portable smithy, and sets off with the others, along the secret paths and passes back into Númeriador.

And thus, the Company of the Dragon is formed.

S03E17 - Epilogue: The Ranger's Blade
Wherein Feredir passes into the night

And so it was that, bedraggled and beaten, Herbs and the Huntsman were brought forth from the hole in the wall where they were kept, and were stood before their liege lord, known to them as Strider, sometimes Aragorn, son of Arathorn, but now King Elessar. After all these years of hardship, growing ever more hardened and bitter, his fists tempered like steel on the jaws and skulls of oppressors and fellow inmates alike, his face never before such a testament of abuse and violence, his back so scarred as to resemble a map of nearby Lebennin, his will more resolute and unbending as never before. And yet never once a smile, never a saddened shine in his eye, never a frustrated sigh. Only cold, pure anger. But now, brought reluctantly before his King, the Huntsman finally wept. He fell trembling to his knees, and so knelt and kissed the royal seal, and asked his King’s pardon. And Elessar laid his hand upon his broken subject’s bowed head and wept tears of grief of his own. He lifted the Huntsman to his feet and kissed his cheeks, and proclaimed him Barhador, son of Tauron, a champion of the Rangers and all peoples of Middle-Earth, and that to have been so abused and ill-kept was a horrendous crime. The prison-master was brought before the King and asked to answer for his sins, but he creature, having turned sides as the prison was taken by the Enemy, and then changed his colours again as the War was over, only hid behind weak excuses. King Elessar in his justice banished the wretch from both Realms, cursing him to walk the wilds until his death.
Then, turning to Barhador, the King spoke, “I believe this belongs to you.” To Barhador he presented a beautiful, ornate sword, clearly of Elvish make, with nary an equal. Aeglin of Gondolin. “I cannot, my lord,” protested Barhador. “I am not worthy”. Then King Elessar laughed, the great, booming laughter of his people, echoing down the corridors and prison walls, and causing fright in many a poor soul already humbled by the presensce of their majesty, no-good miscreants, murderers and criminals of all sorts that they were.
“If not you, then who in all of Middle-Earth?” asked the King. “Did you not clear the Chetwood of bandits, the Midgewater Marshes of goblins and dread ghouls? Was it not you who led the band who ended the threat of Wargs in the Angle, and saved Thuin Boid and Harnalda from invasion, reclaiming the ancient fortress of Minas Brethil? Are you not the hero of Fennás Drúnin? Did you not root out conspiracy within the very ranks of the Rangers, a traitor who had blackened your name to further his own cause? And were you not he who rallied the Rangers of the Hills of Evendim to end a terrible threat brewing in Annúminas, right behind our backs? And was it not you who slew the Werewolf of the South Downs? Did you not lead the quest to slay the Worm Colargon, and reclaim this very blade, for the glory of Men? No, dear fellow, there are none so worthy as you.”
Barhador breaks then, his knees buckling. The men at either side have to hold fast as he shakes uncontrollably.

King Elessar orders Feredir and Salabon brought to better quarters: Isíl Lúna, a nearby villa untouched by the terrible war, with instructions to appear before him in his capital Minas Tirith when they are restored. And so they rest and recuperate, very slowly regaining a modicum of their former vivre, though both men will show their tribulations likely for the rest of their lives. Salabon soon recovers his fine spirits, but finds Feredir keeping to himself, closeted in his quarters, and hardly even accepting the offerings of fine food and drink set before them by the King’s orders. Soon he does not even accept this. Concerned, Salabon eventually makes his way into Feredir’s quarters. Shocked, he finds them vacated. Outside he discovers the paw prints of a large wolf, and nothing more.

His blood-brother Feredir has vanished.

Tharbad. Infested by bandits, the broken city is a gruesome place. But there are parts of that even the worst of the bandit gangs fear to tread. Parts where they say a terrible wolf-monster hunt and rip to shreds those fool-hardy enough to enter.

The South Downs. Bands of maurauding Orcs have plagued the area for years, having no leadership after the war, and the Crown not having the organisation to root out as of yet. But lately the bands of Orcs have started to dispersed. The ripped-up bodies of Orcs with their faces locked in pure terror start showing up on the borders. Rumours have it that the Wererwolf has returned, others say it is a vengeful Wraith… But why does it only prey on Orcs?

Hobbiton. A small remnant of the Great Wargs plague the outskirts near the Old Forest for a short while, but when a band of braves dare the hedgerows to confront them find them all mysteriously skinned and tanned, in convenient bundles. All around the area are large wolf prints, and some say they have seen a mysterious figure in a large hat moving about, someone not wearing yellow boots…

Minas Brethil. Having weathered the War by playing both sides, the Brotherhood have started preparations for abandoning the old keep and returning east. Rumours have it
the ancient citadel is haunted. Some say by a large apparition in tattered cloaks and hat, other say it is a wolf-demon, as evidenced by their leader turning up in pieces scattered all across the master’s suites…

Cillien. The small town near Healer’s Hall was repopulated right after the War, but has since fallen prey to a band of vicious bandits. Cowed and driven into the woods, the locals have begun emerging after rumours of someone or something driving out the bandits. Very few are found alive, and those are scared stupid, muttering about a terrible monster.

There are also other rumours of a mysterious vagabond with a wide-brimmed hat and a large wolf traversing Eriador, some times as far as Ghundabhund and the Númeriador, some times as far north as Angmar, his blade thirsty for the blood of fiends and brigands. But can this person really be Feredir, or is the mysterious stranger simply a rural legend?

S03E16 - End of the Watch
Wherein the journeys of Feredir and Salabon come to an end

Feredir is visited by a bird with a message: Salabon is in need of aid in the White City. He breaks camp, bids his Companions farewell, and sets out across Middle-earth to help his old friend, betrayal or no betrayal.

He manages to gain entry to Minas Tirith, and tracks Salabon down in a prison in the Outer Ring. But even though he receives permission from the authorities to visit his friend, he is assailed by the guards. Defending himself, he wounds many guards before soldiers arrive and end the tumult. Feredir is thrown in prison without judgement.

A corrupt officer sells illegitimate prisoners to a prison camp in Harondor, and Feredir and Salabon are among the chattel sent here. It is not long before the War breaks out, and the camp is seized by the Haradrim, used for prisoners of war. The conditions go from bad to terrible.

Here the two remain until several years after the War, the King is presented with Aeglin, found in the unlawful hoard of the corrupt officer. A blade carried by his own distant kinsman…

S03E15 - Betrayal in Minas Tirith

Salabon, Bragol and Gauthir return to Minas Tirith. They are soon beset upon by soldiers, charged with treason. Bragol and Gauthir manages to escape, but Salabon is caught.

S03E14 - The Star of Elendil

The party discovers the whereabouts of the Star of Elendil, but learns that it is long gone, now in possession of the Oathbreakers in the Paths of the Dead.

Adamar leaves the party, and travels to the Paths, where he is given the Star by swearing allegiance to the rightful King. He agrees on the grounds that there is no rightful king, and that he therefore has nothing to lose. Returning to Orthanc, he brings his master not only the requested information on Palantíri, but also this new prize. He smiles contentedly.

S03E13 - By Isildur's Hand

The party learns that the letter from Isildur contain information on the whereabouts of the Star of Elendil.

S03E12 - Pelargir

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