Rangers of the North

S02E07A - The White Gauntlet
This spring in The Rangers Of The North

Treadstone awakes to the smell of pipe-weed. It is still night. “Caremnir. Remember? Strict light discipline.”
“Do not worry. They will not be following us for a while. They have other affairs to take care of.”

- – -

Grohl tries to hold on to both the book and the boat as the dingy bounces down the river. He escaped, barely. Now he’s hoping for calmer waters and that the Gruth tribe will be marching for the Angle. Grohl is pretty sure that’s what Ahrm said they would do. The book must be kept safe, else ill will befall him as the white handed man spoke.

- – -

The gavel strikes the table as Faegwin speaks. “It is decided. We must take action agains Lord Sîdoneth. We simply cannot sit still and watch as he lures all our best workers into the woods with sweet words of gold and green land. The winter has been hard, springs flood will soon follow and the forts need repairs after the war. I know, Paetric, that these are your friends, but we simply cannot abide this theft. If you are no longer with us, then you are against us, and we will be forced to take action. It is decided.”

- – -

Dear brother.
This will be the last letter I write before i come north.
I cannot stay here any longer. The shadows keep haunting me, whispering to me. Tales of burning. Tales of darkness. Tales of yearning and utter nonesence. Ill fares the land and I am afraid if I stay, I wll not be me any longer. Meet me in Minas Tirith.
-Love sister

- – -

“He is bleeding out! Do SOMETHING!!!” Mabs, on the brink of hysteria keeps shouting at Wolf’s Bane, who tries to stop the flow of blood coming from Puck’s neck.

S02E06 - The Witching Hour
In which a band of loyal Orc soldiers find themselves haunted by something far more terrible than themselves

Cameth Brin: The two Men had departed. The Orcs the White Man had ordered to accompany them were left reluctantly guarding the deserted tower on Twisted Hill, far away from any battlefield, and any prospect of the glory the White Man had promised. Among these stood, Grohl of the Urughâsh, a lowly goblin of no particular repute, but cunning and wily, and able to maintain against his more brutal cousins. Their leader, Urk of the Uruk Uflag, is starting to lose his grip on his power, a power he has maintained by brute force, when the keep is penetrated by an unknown force, striking terror in the otherwise fearsome Orch.

One by one Urk’s warrior falls to the unseen foe, some sort of monstrous form bellowing in the darkened halls, until at last Grohl finds himself in a last stand beside Urk himself, Ganrosh the Ashkai and Ragnok of the Thrakburzum. As Urk and Ganrosh take their stand, Grohl and his only friend Ragnok steal away, and break into the most guarded of places in Cameth Brin, the Secret, unknown sanctum and treasure of the Men. Here they find only sleeping quarters, a treasure chest, and an old book resting on a raised plinth. Desperate, Ragnok attempts to break the lock on the treasure chest, only to be stung by a posion needle, the toxins spreading quickly through his veins.

As Grohl can hear Urk and Ganrosh retreating up the stairs, the attackers on their heels, he does the only thing he can think of to save his life. He steals the book, quickly ties together linens and bedsheets to make a makeshift rope out of the window, picks up his fallen comrade and – - drops him out the window. Then he makes for the ledge outside the door, where he can stand unseen until all have passed.

Within minutes the intruders have Ganrosh within the chambers, and Grohl has stolen away. They attempt to interrogate Urk about where his last men have gone, but he is unable to explain, so they slay him as well.

Meanwhile Grohl slips away and creates as much distance between Cameth Brin and himself as he possible can.

Left behind are Hunter, Beoraborn and Eldacar, with no clues and no leads, and a lot of dead Orcs.

S02E06C - Tiny teeth, tiny claws
In which two sleek, minute and furry forms play havoc on the Orcs

Out into the winds, the rain, the sleet, the cold. Swift Jaws runs through the underbrush, his paws finding their footing without any visible effort, his hide continuously below the protecting heather. Near him runs the larger ferret, its musk both familiar and alien – dangerous – to the small weasel. Together they hunt tonight, for their masters, Green Hide and Shaggy.

It takes them long to find their way safely into the buildings of stone below the looming hill, the weather threatening the whole way, and leaving both mustelids irritated and snapping at each other. But they use their tempers to good effects when they see one of the smelly fangmen coming from the long slope up to the opening – the opening Green Hide and Shaggy wanted them to find. They’ve found it! Swift Jaws jumps excitedly, fuffing at the hulking creature. It stops in its tracks, and licks its lips with a red tongue, its pronounced fangs almost in the way. It moves to draw a weapon, and as it takes half a step forwards the ferret drops onto hits head, a blur of claws and teeth, as Swift Jaws simultaneously shoots up its legs and goes for the jugular. It is over before the fangman has even properly registered what is happening.

The two mustelids leaps about with pride and joy, but both refuse to feast on its blood or flesh. It’s foul! Instead, they make off with its heavy key chain, taking turns at dragging it all the way back to where Green Hide, Shaggy and Fluffy Head rest…

S02E06B - Who Goes There?
On the Next Rangers of the North

There was a creak. Grohl was startled awake, and his armour clanged as he awkwardly stood to attention. Now there was a clatter. It took him a moment to realize that the sound was coming from himself, from his breast-plate vibrating with his own shudders. He forced himself to calm down. There was nothing here, surely? No living thing apart from the troops to which he belonged. Nothing would be stupid enough to come to this ungodly place. Nothing stupid enough – - or powerful enough? Weren’t the legends steeped with weird and horrible things? He swallowed. He knew that he was the thing that went bump in the night, it was he that mothers told their children about to scare them into sleep. What did he have to fear? But there it was again. The creak. His grip on his javelin tightened, and his spare hand felt for the assuring coldness of the hilt of his scimitar.
The lads had said… The lads had said that Ugrot had simply disappeared in the day, leaving no trace. And didn’t Ugrot carry the keys to the gate? But that made no sense: If there was anything in these horrible halls for him to fear, surely it wouldn’t need keys? Or maybe they also needed the keys to unlock the doors from the inside? He swallowed again, wishing he’d never thought that.
Then, a short scuffle, and a stifled groan from where Borath should be standing. His eyes widened, and he noticed he was gaping. Remembering himself, he shut his mouth. He gripped his javelin tight with both hands, and brought it up to bear.
“Who goes there?!” he shouted, a nervous twinge in his voice that made him even more unsure. “Who goes there?!”
And then he saw the shadows on the wall.
And then he fled.

S02E06A - Ghouls, Ghosts 'N Goblins
On the Next Rangers of the North

Minas Brethil.
Jack Fleetfoot opens his eyes, finding himself tucked in a comfortable bed in a room bathed in light. The pain in his foot is there, but it’s not nearly as extremme as he’d thought. It’s obvious that he’s been healed. By the bed he finds a couple of wooden cruches. Jack carefully finds his way down the stairs and finds himself in a familiar place. Minas Brethil. How he has missed this place, despite not having been away for a very long time. First things first. Food! Jack’s stomach is aching from hunger. He makes his way to the kitchen, and he’s being served a tasty breakfast. As he’s eating, one of Baran’s servant approaches him. Jack is eager to hear tidings of the battle of which he missed most parts of. After a while, Jack almost wished he’d never asked. The servant tells a very grim story. So many of the red lances fallen in battle. Jack shudders, feeling heavy guilt for those who did not make it back. So much he could have, and should have done different. The servant carries on, and Jack learnes that Baran has left for Fennas Druinen to complain about the Red lancers decision to leave his cause. Jack is also told that there’s a crate waiting for him in his forge. Curious of nature, Jack bids his farwells, and stumbles his way to the forge, where he finds the crate. Opening the massive construct proves littles issue. Inside he discovers to his enourmus surprise a massive anvil. Something’s different about this anvil. I’t not made of the metal normally used for anvils, and there are runes inscibed in it. Jack dont need much time to get a feeling for this magical anvil’s unparalelled possibilities. There’s not much time to test it, though. With Baran far away, all the paperwork of the city is laid in Jack’s hands. It’s ALOT of work. After a couple of days, mostly used to designing items of basicly any form of use with the anvil, or manging the heaps of paperwork constantly flowing in, Jack wakes up late at night, hearing sceams outside the keep’s gate. “Help us, save us!! The UNDEAD are attacking…….!”

S02E05B - The Road of the Healer, Part One
In which Salabon faces some hard choices make, and some hard roads to walk.

Salabon’s Journal, Early Spring, T.A 3011

«I believe I have finally found the solution to my sister’s madness. Having caught the first caravan out of Fennas Drúnin heading south in Spring, all I need do is make a brief stop at Minas Tirith. My hopes are high, but my spirits are low. I had to leave Minas Brethil far too early. The new House of Healing is understaffed and underfunded. My poor replacement has the heart but not the skills, nor the experience needed to successfully run the House. I keep telling myself what I already know all too well. That I am only one man. That I can’t help them all. That this world has been dying a slow and painful death for the last two millennia, and that the only thing I as a healer can do is ease her passing. Perhaps time and distance from my friends will ease my pains. Still, I cannot help but wonder whether I truly am lost in darkness without Feredirs guidance. Time will tell.»

S02E05A - The White Man in the Tower
In which the White Man sends out his most trusted agent.

These events take place during Episode Five, Weathering.

The tower. The Grandfather, the Wise One, he who the Orcs call The White Man.
A dim room, the only light emanating form a glowing Orb, and a few, scattered beams of light from high-ceiling windows.
The White Man bends awkwardly as he stands there, huddled almost protectively around the Orb, his hands stroking the air around it. He turns to another man, a shadowy character standing with a surprisingly nonchalant air in a doorway.
«They call him Salabon.» the White Man booms.
The man in the doorway grins. «Herbs? How droll.»
«He is becoming quite powerful, and he is walking a narrow path. I want him to take a path that leads him to me. The Path of the White Hand. Can you manage that?»
«Yes, my lord» replies the other. «I can, at that. By any means?»
«Any means necessay. Take these gems, they should be sufficient to tide you over.»
The shadowy man bows, and retreats. «My lord».
As he stalks these dark, jagged halls, he grins despite himself. He is doing what he was born to do, and he is loving it.

S02E05 - Weathering
In which our heroes must face a number of beasts and trials

The Barnfeathers’ homestead, North Downs. Mabs leans over Bragols feverish body. It’s been a few hard nights since they brought him into the Barnfeathers farm. A rib had probably punctured his lung, and now it looks like he’s got pneumonia. Although Wolf’s Bane gave him some herbs to speed up the recovery, he’s been healing slowly. Mabs hand is almost good enough to work with, but Bragol is not getting better. Mabs bring a wand out of her backpack. It’s been years since she used it last, but Bragol is dying. She holds the wand over his shivering body and prays to the gods. His feverish body is turning cold. This is a good thing, she whispers, almost too scared to hope. She can feel the wand is dead, and she tosses the rowan stick into the fire.

Midnight comes, and he’s still cold. Did I use too much of the wand’s magic? Mabs wonders. He should be normal now. Bragol tosses and turns in his makeshift bed by the fire. What kind of nightmare is he struggling with? Mabs crawls under the blanket with him and holds him close. Bragol lets out a sigh of relief.

Morning breaks. Mabs is standing in the doorway with a cup of tea in hand. Bragol can smell egg and bacon being cooked over open fire. «Where am I?» he asks. «The last thing I can recall is sitting with Feredir in a camp with Beoraborn, Isig and yourself…»
«You caught a fever» Mabs explains. «You’re good now.» She smiles and draw a deep breath. The air smells good. Spring is in the air.

The Lone Lands. Hunter, Beoraborn, Wolf’s Bane and the boy Puck are travelling east after having having seen Bragol safe at the farm where the horses are laid up. He is in and out of consciousness, but Wolf’s Bane has done what he can for him, and is confident that all he needs is rest. And with that, they set out.

They boy, Puck, is given the task of Outrider, as he is in his training, and despite the quick advance across the Oiolad, the three others hang back, and let the boy take the lead.

After two days of riding they come across a crumbling ruin; a folly, all that remains from the long-lost Dúnadan kindom, and later, the Empire of the Witch-King of Angmar. The boy is sent to scout it out, but soon comes running for his life, chased by an enraged nanny goat!

They all have a good laugh, and proceed with setting up camp a while away. Later, Hunter and Beoraborn decide to take a closer look at the folly, and find the goat asleep with a litter of kids. Small wonder she was so protective!

They do a quick search through the folly, but find little of importance – apart from a large and evil-looking mace. Hunter quickly discerns that it is, indeed, a fell weapon of great evil, most likely forged in the fires of Angmar itself. The two decide that this fell weapon would be dire in the wrong hands, so they bury it under a massive rock, making a note of where, to later tell Rivendell.

The next day they continue, over the wind-blown wastes of the Oiolad, where there is nothing but gently rolling hillocks clothed in snow for as long as the eyes can see. The snow is very shallow, making it no challenge for the horses.

But on the fourth day: As Puck is riding ahead into some low slopes, he is suddenly violently struck from his horse by a boulder: There are trolls in the hills!

Wolf’s Bane gasps. «Puck!» Hunter needs no more than Isig’s outburst. He spurs his horse into a frantic gallop, to save the boy. Wolf’s Bane strikes the troll dead with a single arrow, and Beoraborn struggles to come down from his horse in order to fire his own bow. «Damn stirrups! How can you blasted nobs get anything done in these?!» he thunders. But despite him, the battle is joined.

Four more trolls appear over the bluff, and Wolf’s Bane is dangerously struck in his shield arm. Luckily, the damage is light: his shoulder dislocated, and Hunter rides like a man possessed in between the raining boulders, all the size of a troll’s head, manages to scoop ut the dazed Puck, and flee with a accelerating Cave Troll hot on his trail.

But as the troll is about to remove Hunter’s head with a huge stone at point-blank range, an arrow portrudes from its shoulder: Beoraborn has managed to flank it, and delivered a precious wound. This makes the stone go wide, and only grazes Hunter’s pack on his back, making his neck twinge, as he feels something warm. He has no time to think on that, however: The troll is far from struck down, but it buys Hunter the time he needs to get out of there. Beoraborn swings back into his own saddle, and with the struggling Wolf’s Bane they ride as far as they can on their now-winded mounts, but it is clear that the trolls will not relent, and they will have to make a stand.

Bragol and Mabs have now been on the road for three days, after Bragol’s fever broke. They follow the others, guided by a Nighteyes, Hunter’s owl. They keep a good pace, despite at one point being chased by an angry moose.

On the third evening, while setting camp, the two travellers hear strange noises in the distance. The two travellers proceed more carefully now. Next night while cooking food on the campfire something flies out of the night and latches onto the Bragols left arm, sinking sharp teeth into his flesh. Daftly the elf pulls his dagger and stabs the creature, burrying the weapon to the hilt. Another flies above their heads, but Mabs quickly swats it with her sword. «Bats!»
«Vampire bats,» Bragol replies. «Bleeding giant bats. Hope that one didn’t give you any nasty diseases.»
«Indeed, but I’m more concerned with that sound we keep hearing. Its louder and I’m sure we’ll come across what ever it is tomorrow. If it doesn’t come across us during the night. I think it best that we put out of the fire, just in case.»

Walking up in the morning Bragol can feel the cold in his body, only offset by the blanket and Mabs. The rogue has snuggled up to the elf during the night in an attempt to keep warm. Bragol cannot deny that the nice feeling of her warm body against his. She’s an asset, don’t get attached. But he does not wake her or move, instead closing his eyes and keep still. One more thing he notice is that the sound has died away some time during the night.

Some hours of travel later it is Bragol who breaks the silence. «Trolls.»

«Dead trolls.» Their eyes survey the field and the dismembered troll bodies that litter it.
«There are two of them, what’s left of them that is.» The elf shakes his head. «Three, there’s another one over there.»
«By Durin’s hammer you’re right. You think it was these three that made that sound we heard?» «Likely would explain why it suddenly stopped. And I’m sure our friends are behind this. I hope they are all right, they are certainly close. Lets find them!»

The previous night…

“Master Wolf’s Bane, the horses are spent!We must make a stand!” Hunter’s shout can barely be
heard over the sound of the trampling hooves of four horses flying across the rolling tundra.
“I know!” the old Ranger replies “Search for any advantage!”

But in the desolate wastes of the Oiolad, there is no relief, no quarter and certainly no shelter. A wide bluff, alone in a completely level area, is their only advantage. Hunter leaps from his saddle, and hastily sets the older Ranger’s shoulder, whose only display of pain is a faint grimace.

«Stay your horses on this bluff, and wait here!» Hunter exclaims, and then leaps from his horse. He half-runs, quickly pacing out an approximate range for their bows down the faint slope, strikes in a red cloth, easily visible in the moon-lit and white tundra, and runs back: On his return, he scatters a good amount of his nasty, long caltrops on his way. Then, working without a word, he uses his grappling hook and two long knives to create a makeshift tripwire, which runs in a Z pattern. He almost visibly swells with pride as he hears Wolf’s Bane address Puck, «…and that is how one levies the ground to one’s advantage.»
«They come,» rumbles Beoraborn.

And sure enough, the trolls are already in sight.

They brace for the attack. As soon as the trolls are within range, they let slip their shafts, but the hail of arrows does little more than slow down the oncoming trolls. They clash with the trolls, swift swords against clubs and stones, and working in unison they overcome the trolls. Beoraborn, seeing the trolls beat, takes off at a run to meet the last, arrow-wounded troll half way. Hunter makes a desperate run for his bow to level the field for the frenzied Beorning, but only manages to let fly a single arrow. But it is enough: The mighty Beijibar warrior cuts down the troll, and the battle is won.

Heading back, Hunter feels his spine chill as he sees Wolf’s Bane covered in blood, but he is quickly assured that the older Ranger only slipped in the troll’s own blood. He laughs it away to save face, and Hunter gladly indulges him. Having his old mentor die here and now, before having been able to confront him about the mysterious ice front between them, which seems to have thawed as of late, would have been devastating, in addition to losing one more he counts as family.

They all recover their items and horses, and Hunter checks his neck. No blood, nothing at all, but he notices the lining of his pack is remarkably warm. There is something within! He brings out his knife and unstitches the seam, and pulls out a small pendant, the face of the amulet worn away by time and wear. As he touches the amulet, he experiences yet another unexpected flash: He finds himself transported, standing in a dark, dank dungeon, and before him: Jack Fleetfoot. Hunter gasps and takes a step closer as he sees the state of his Hobbit friend. He is in a terribly state, obviosly having been tortured, and Hunter suddenly realizes that this is a vision, but also that what he is seeing is true. He futilely reaches out to the Hobbit, and calls his name. «Jack! Jack Fleetfoot!»

Jack rouses somewhat and looks straight through him, and Hunter somehow knows he was heard. Whatever fate his friend is suffering, he hopes that his contact at least could have been of some comfort. With a profound sense of sadness and despair he finds himself back on the windswept plains of the northern Lone Lands.

Mabs and Bragol make their way into a two travellers come up on a tiny, picturesque dell. Here, the stink of trolls permates the otherwise staunch beauty of the terrain. Under a tumble of tors they spot a small camp – or rather, a camp appears to reveal itself to them, as if it had a will of its own. Leisurly draped around the small fire are their friends.
«Welcome to our humble cave,» Hunter greets them with a smile. «Eldacar, Mabs».
«Friends, it is good to see you», replies Bragol.
«How was your crossing?» The question comes from Wolf’s Bane, a bit frayed around the edges, but otherwise seemingly no worse for wear.
«Between vampire bats and strange noises in the night, I am unsure who had the most eventful journey,» admits Bragol, indicating the troll cave with a nod.
«Trolls?» rumbles Beoraborn. «That is nothing. Sit a while, and share our fire, and I will tell you of the devil-goat of the Lone Lands, and how she almost had our boy here for her supper!»
Puck smiles embarrassedly, and Hunter and Wolf’s Bane break out in laughter.

The Rangers share with them knowledge of what they have found inside. A fortune in small coin and a very precious gem. There is a magical tome that Bragol deems to be related to magics on physical change, remarkably preserved, and a beautiful mace, clearly Dwarven-made.

The following day, about midday, Wolf’s Bane halts and points across a narrow, but steep valley. «Behold. The Twisted Hill.»

The swift, treacherous Hoarwell lies between them and a beatiful vale, allegedly the only one in the Trollshaws. From the looming, steep, natural hill stretches a tortured, pointing finger of black granite outcropping draping the village of Tanoth Brin below in its ominous shadow. The tower seems impossible, rising what looks to be almost a thousand feet above the vale below, but it has endured for more than a thousand years, and likely will endure more.

As the group takes in the breathtaking sight, Wolf’s Bane nudges Hunter, and points. Their eyes fall upon two men on the other side, who also see them. Is this their prey, the very same two villains they seek? The two strangers accelerate, off away from Cameth Brin.

«Master Wolf’s Bane, you are the senior Ranger here, and our next step is your call. Shall we split up?» Hunter ventures.
«I believe we should» says Wolf’s Bane. «I’ll go after these two blackguards, and Puck
and the lady will joing me. But you three have come too far to ignore this cursed citadel, and you know best of all what it is you look for. If those two are not the ones we seek, you will have lost valuable time. I will give chase. The rest of you carry on to Cameth Brin.»
Hunter nods. «Sound thinking, Master». Bragol casts a pained glance at Mabs, hoping that no one noticed, but nods in acknowledge.

They ride.

Seeing movement in the vale, they find a remote crossing across the river, and ride in a wide circle around to the back of the hill, approaching the tower from behind. From the looming tower’s vantage point above, they see that crude attempts to rebuild the buildings have been made. Tracks from Orcs litter the valley, but they can still see the horsetracks leading up to the tower. Surveying the area they notice an Orc patrol leaving the valley. The Enemy is clearly present in force here, more than just a refuge for evil creatures. This is an organised base.
Finding the back gates locked, and no other way in from this direction, they retreat to the relative safety of a small grove of trees some miles further down.
A storm is welling in the horizon, and Hunter finds a good shelter, and the three wait out the storm. Hunter and Beoraborn sends forth their small weasel companions. Hunter whispers and uses hand signals, and Bragol sits entranced, as it seems as if he is hypnotizing the beasts; their heads loll in tune and sequence with the Ranger’s moving figures. As the winds and torrents approach, the two animals scuttle off into the dimming lights…

Silverdale, somewhere east of Minas Brethil, the dungeons of the silver mine.
Jack wakes up, but keeps his eyes shut. The first thing he notice is the pain in his head. instinctively, his arm tries to reach his head where the pain is strongest. But wait. He can’t move his arm.. He’s tied up. Thinking about it, he can’t feel the ground with his feet. He opens his eyes and finds himself tied up on both feet and arms, hanging above a dark pool. Jack surveys the room he’s strung up in. Difficult to see anything, really. Too dark. Suddenly, Jack hears a deep grunt, and following, a calm, chuckling laughter. A dimly glowing candle is lit on a table a few feet infront of him. A humanoid figure, cloaked in a dark, hooded cape. Jack can’t properly see his face. The figure is smiling. Beside him, stands a massive, disturbingly ugly creature. He looks somewhat like an orc, but he’s alot taller, and more muscular. Jack feels a chill running down his spine. Silence follows, untill the figure sitting behind the table finally opens his mouth. “I trust you’ve slept well?” I must apologize for the brutal.. invitation… to my quarters, but it seemed unlikely that you would follow by your own will." The figure pauses for a bit, keeping his sly grin on his face. He continues: " I’ve heard of your accomplishments in the tower, and of other feats from your past, and i have to say that im impressed. However it seems a shame that a resourceful hobbit as yourself should waste his many talents on people that wouldn’t know how to properly cherish… or reward it." He pauses again. Leaning slowly forward, sliding his arms forward on the table. As he opens his hands, he reveals underneath one of them, a considerable pile of gold coins, shining beneath the light. Underneath the other, a dagger revealed. The dagger is sinister-looking, and the blood on the blade is not comforting. “The choice… is yours” He smiles. Jack thinks for a while. Flickering images flies through his head. He looks at the figure: “What do you want?” The figure answer is quick; “First of all your loyalty. You would be free to go back to your home, but you will be available when you are summoned.” Jack looks at the gold… The figure smile broadens. Then Jacks confused and doubting face changes. He’s decided. His gaze move to the dagger, and he nods. The figure’s grin fades. “I am very disappointed, I must admit. I was certain a hobbit with your reputation would be able to see reason. I will attempt to ignore that very rude gesture you now displayed, and give you one more chance. You make take the gold and be free till we call you, or I will have to let Ban’Challos here decide your fate.” The massive creature standing beside the table smiles, revealing misshaped fangs. Jack nods again in the direction of the dagger. He adds: “Do what you must”. The big, orc-looking figure cant help himself from smiling, as he walks towards Jack. He’s carrying a big cudgel, armed with blunt spikes on metal rings. Jack sees him lifting his muscular arm. Then an excruciating pain, before he loses consciousness.

S02E04 - The Dread Lord of Norbury
Wherein our heroes decide to take a last stand against the evil that permeates the ancient Dúnadan capital, and Jack Fleetfoot must invoke the Warrior Within

Fornost Erain: Deadman’s Dike: Four shadowy figures continue their erstwhile search of the ruined citadel; Hunter the Ranger; the Elf Bragol, who calls himself Eldacar; his agent Mabs; and the lumbering Beorning Beoraborn. The four of them slowly edge closer to center of the once mighty citadel, the innermost ring of its layered design, testament to the Dúnedain who built it, thousands of years ago.

There is little to testify of the grandeur that permates the legends of the place, but Hunter still feels it, deep down in his Númenórean bones. This city once was the epitome of the post-cataclysmic Númenórean culture, and he is one of the last to remain of that great people. He takes the lead through the gently snow-covered streets, followed by Bragol , then Beoraborn, with Mabs brining up the rear.

The shadow of Angmar that once decimated the citadel can still be felt, and Bragol cannot help but feel shiver as he feels the evil that still taints this ground. He doesn’t share the melancholy sorrow for the loss as does Hunter; instead, it is the fear of the Darkness and the evil might of the Enemy.

Animated skeletons are stalking the streets. But they are not shambing aimlessly; far from it. They are moving in groups, patrolling the streets. Bragol immediately deduces that they are somehow controlled by someone, or some_thing_ – - which is indeed guiding them. He shares his terrible thought with the group, and Mabs all but confirms it, she apparently having her own senses of these things. Hunter tells them that they are free to take their leave, but for his own part, on his heritage, he must deal with whatever it is; he is willing to lay down his life to attempt its defeat… The others nod in grave and earnest agreement: their swords are his.

They venture deeper into the ruined capital, and as they are crossing an old courtyardMabs suddenly stops. She backs up a few steps: “I cannot go on….I must…rest… You three go on.” The colour of her face drains away with every word. She sits down, refusing to move. Bragol moves to her, tries to get her on her feet. But to no avail. Suddenly they can hear footsteps coming closer. The unmistaken sound of skeletons marching. Quickly they must hide!

Hunter, ever the master of shadows and stealth, manages to secret the entire group, including the fallen Mabs, in a derelict ruin. Bragol hides Mabs under his own cloak in the corner of a fallen wall. As he holds her close he can feel how cold she is. Then the cold spreads, from her and into his own body. He can feel his strength slip away, fear creeping into his body. A feeling much akin to when the eye saw him through the book. He can feel his willpower fading, fear begins to take hold. He knows that he must fight it, or else he will fade away and join the restless dead of the capital. And he can feel that it is much worse for Mabs, whom he dragged here. He is responsible for her, if she dies it will be because of him…that cannot happen!

Softly, ever so softly, he sings an old Elvish song into her ear. As much for himself, as for her. The skeletons begin to move again, searching for them. They are merely a few feet away.
Suddenly there is a dark, horrible voice, a voice not belonging to any body, but seeming to come from the air itself. No one present knows its tongue, but it is not a stretch to assume it is the Tongue of the Black One.

Hunter decides it is time to act. But not with his usual zeal and righteousness; instead, this is a time for guile and quick thinking. With the Rangers’ secret language of signs and gestures, he beckons to his little furry companion, the weasel Swift Jaws. The little animal finds use of every crack and crevace that the ruined city provides on his rounabout route, but after a short while there is an almighty clamour, as the creature plays the devil with a piece of rusted armour still attached to its unlucky wearer! The ruse works, and the dreadful Prescence appears to direct its wards to the direction of the distractions.

The skeleton disappear, and so does the spell that had affected Mabs and Bragol. Now there are no doubts in his or Hunters minds. They must find the evil behind this and destroy it!

Beoraborn takes the lead and makes an impossible jump straight up the citadels walls, leaving the three others to gaze in disbelief! He throws down a rope and a little while later they are all at the heart of the old capital. They decide to head for the monastery, betting on it to be a good place to start searching. They are correct.

The four of them halters just before opening the main doors…they can feel the evil inside. Upon searching the bulding they find two more doors. Peering in they can see a giant skeleton sitting inside, an iron crown on its head and rusted armor fused to its body. This must be it, the evil controlling the dead!

They do not have much time or choices. Skeleton are marching towards them and closing in. They go for a plan. Bragol will enter one door, walking towards it and keeping it occupied. Mabs will follow, refusing to let him go alone.

The other two will charge from the sides.

Bragol’s ace up the sleeve is a spell, it will also signal the attack.

He throws the doors open and march in: "I command you to leave this place, foul shadow of Angmar. Begone, you creature of the dark or else the power of the light will destory you!

The monster laughs and Bragol let his spell loose and…it fails! Mabs falls to the ground, gripped by the same fear the two of them felt before.

Suddenly they are in a bad spot!

This is the moment. Hunter launches a burning oilskin at the fiend, and suddenly it is ablaze! Bearaborn does not reach it in time, and it looks as if Bragol is going to be crushed beneath the thing’s enourmous mace. But calling on his mystical powers, Bragol jumps all the way to the beams in the ceeling, fifty feet up, thus avoiding the attack. Mabs is not as lucky. The undead hammers her with his mace, her arm taking the impact, breaking it like a twig. Bragol screams in defiance; it is like someone has run a sword through him, his blood turning to ice! Seeing Mabs taking such a punishment, knowing that it is his fault, that it is he who have put her in this danger, is more than he can bear.

And then Beoraborn is on the skeletal Lord. With one mighty blow he crushes the shield arm of the fiend clear off its body. Apparently unheeding, the wraith respomds, and smashes the Beoraborn to the ground, stunning the mighty fighter. At last Hunter reaches the fiend, brandishing a burning blade, soaked in oil, and with one fell swoop his blade cleaves the skeleton’s skull in twain! Incredibly, it is not enough to fell it, and even as Hunter unbalances the monster and spins it round, sending bits of splintered bone flying, the eight foot monster is far from stopping. Its mace lifts in a menacing move, as if daring its assailants, and the prone Beoraborn’s eyes widens as he prepares to meet his end. Hunter continues his frantic attack, fearing for his companion’s life.

But Bragol fears not. He chooses the only course of action he can think of to stop the monster. He loosens his grip on the beam and let himself fall towards the ground.

The impact shatters the undead, crushing it under the weight of the Elf. But Bragol does not escape undamaged. His ribs breaks instantly, the wind knocked out of him and his entire body set afire with pain. But he is lucky. He is alive!

Mabs crawls over to him, her voice filled with concern, astonishment and perhaps a mixture of gratitude and anger over the sacrifice Bragol just made: “That was the stupidest thing I have ever seen! Are you all right?” Bragol can but growl in pain as a reply.

Having stabilized the two, Hunter and Beoraborn finally have a chance to look around the ancient temple. There is pride and sorrow in Hunter’s eyes; pride for what his people has achieved, sorrow for what has befallen it. But they are far from safe: although it would appear that destroying the evil Skeleton Lord has left its troops in disarray, they still seem to be coming for the only source of life in the citadel: them!

Quickly, they barricade the doors, and add fuel to the still burning skeleton, to reduce it to ashes. They destroy most of the defilation to the Temple, and Beoraborn searches in vain for a secret passage out: it seems the only entrances to the Temple are the three doors they already are familiar with.

Hunter turns to the crusader leaning on his sword at the altar. He moves over, credulous as to what he might find, but it does not appear to be any evil around the crumbling shape, so perfectly intact in its praying position. As Hunter touches the hilt of the sword, he once again experiences the sensation of attuning with an object. In his trance he sees the Northman, a truly righteous man, travelling Eriador fighting evil. He sees the spirit of the fallen man, who bequeaths upon him to find his true successor, someone who is worthy to take up his mighty Greatsword and carry on the fight. Hunter vows to do so, and together he and Beoraborn lay the man to rest in one of the old crypts. Hunter speaks words over him, and can almost feel his soul laying to rest.

Then they help their companions out to the best of their abilities, leaving behind them the tainted, evil city.

Outside the city, they meet Wolf’s Bane and a young apprentice. They join their campfire, and share news of what has been transpiring. As darkness descends, a small beacon of hope is stirring in the form of a campfire, and the combined efforts of a few, brave companions.

Vale of Brethil:

Baran and Fleetfoot rode out with 60 lances and many others to purge orc threat. The mine was located and an attack was initiated on the fort the orcs had built.
The tactic of making a quick frontal surprise attack proved to be disastrous, as the gate was supposed to be opened by a troll.
Finally, they had to make a controlled withdrawal, to obtain reinforcements and rescue the wounded lances. Baran traveled along with a handful of men back to the mine to try to burn
down parts of the fort with lamp oil and caravan trailers parked outside the fort. This they succeed in and after the flames have done their storm the fort while crossing my fingers that
reinforcements are just around the corner.

“Need to figure something out! Need a plan, and it cant come fast enough. Think, THINK!”
A mess of thought spin around in Jacks head whilst he runs down the stair heading down to the mine. He can hear the slamming on the gate outside, and the screams of soldiers being wounded in battle. He needs to help them. Help his friend, who is leading the assault. The archers in the tower is his current mission. Somehow, find a way to neutralize them. But there are four orcs and two goblin in the top of that tower, and he is not about to take em all on alone. But something must be done quickly, or this whole operation may turn into a disastrous failure. While he’s looking for something… no, anything, that can be of help, his thoughts fall on Minas Brethil, and the work they are doing there. a part of him misses the peace there, but another part, possibly the biggest, has longed for the tension of battle. No oil barrels to burn, but he’s brought some himself. not huge amounts, but more than enough to start a fire in the tower, just beneath the floor on the top, where the archers are standing. He lits it, just by the hole leading downstairs. The fire ignites fast, and the orcs and goblins panic instantly. The first screaming figure appears by the laddertop. One of the orcs is climbing down the long ladder to escape the rising fires above. The goblin suddenly feels screaming pain in his side. confused he lets go of the ladder, and as he falls, squeeking, he meets the eyes of a hobbit, hiding in the dark parts of the ladder, with a bloody knife in his hand. Jack thinks to himself; One down… plan is actually working. just five more to go… for now.

S02E03 - Deadman's Dike
Wherein our heroes make their way to the infamous ruins of the former capital of Arnor

Hunter, Eldacar and Beoraborn are joined by Mabs, and together they make their way into the treacherous ruins of Fornost Erain. They have just about set foot within the ruins before they take notice of the skeletal undead that stalk its crumbled streets. They are beset by the things while resting, and spends the rest of their stay constantly looking over their shoulders.

Hunter, as the only Dúnadan among them, is mortified at the state of his people’s once-great citadel. It awakens the sadness so inherent in his people, but that, in turn, makes him only stronger. There is a brother in peril – granted, a slimy, back-stabbing, sanctimonious, and above all, incompetent, brother, but a brother no less, and he must be saved.

But there is also a spark in him that wishes that he could find traces of the glory that was Fornost, and perhaps bring some of that glory back to his brethren. Who knows, maybe it could rekindle some old spark that could help in the oncoming storm?

Meanwhile, Baran makes his way to Fennas Drúnin… Why, you might ask? Well, so do we.

There was a message from Fenner Druinen, orcs were observed in the Minas Brethil area, and that the lances had to be sent out to clean up.
A bar of silver was also found on a captured orc.
Baran began investigating a bit, and found that once upon a time there had been a silver mine in the area.

To avoid having to search through the entire Minas Brethil valley and surrounding hills, he traveled to Fenner Druinen to look for information about the mine in the archives there.
There he found out that information about the mine had been removed, most likely stolen, but no traces of tampering. He found an old account still on mine, describing the aproximate whereabouts and a drawing of the entrance of the mine. Rest assured that he would be able to find a silver mine, but worried about what was going to meet him there, Baran traveled
back to Minas Brethil claiming its right to mine.


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