Rangers of the North

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.

S02E02 - Castles, Roads and Giants
In which Hunter and Eldacar visit Rivendell and meet a Giant, and Baran, Jack and Beoraborn restore Minas Brethil

Fabled Imladris: Hunter and Eldacar finally reach Elrond’s domain, weary, wet and cold. They are greeted by none other than Elrond’s daughter, Arwen, who brings news of her father’s commitments in the East; it seems some trouble is stirring, and as it requires the Lord of the Last Homely House, it must be dire indeed. Neither Elf nor Ranger would dare presume this is any of their business, however, and so they undertake to carry out their reports with their respective superiors. This leads them first to Longshanks – Helvorn – who does not seem to be faring terribly well; his hand has had to be amputated, and he looks years older than when last encountered.

They deliver their missives; a traitor is afoot, and he has most likely influenced Treadstone, who is not only shirking his duties, but travelling abroad with the infiltrator. It seems his identity is already known to the Rangers, and the two are merely confirming what has been suspected. They are charged with tracking the black pair, and finding a way to stop their actions. Meanwhile, Goodthought will return to his former post in the Bree-lands, to set right that which Treadstone has disdained.

Longshanks does not hide the fact that Hunter’s actions abroad are well known, and even celebrated, though Hunter himself is visibly uncomfortable with this high praise, claiming that anyone would have done the same in his place. Bragol however chimes in and lends his voice to the praising of the young ranger. He also voices his displeasure and fears about Treadstone.

Eldacar excuses himself, and makes his own, more insidious reports to his own master, Thurgolodh. It is decided that Helvorn’s mission be carried out.

The two realize that going up against two fighters might be more than they can handle alone, and knowing that Baran and Jack will be preoccupied send word by owl to Beoraborn to ask him to meet them at Bree. They also pay a visit to the herbmaster of Rivendell, and aquire the special herbs needed to hopefully heal Beoraborn’s damaged eye.

In the Trollshaws: Well on their way back through the snow and sleet, Hunter and Eldacar find themselves accosted by a forest troll while seeking shelter. They dispatch with the foul thing in short order, and then find cover in an old wolf’s den. The following morning they are surprised by the Giant they witnessed some weeks previous. It turns out that the amiable creature is named Tom, and that he is simply on walkabout. They exchange some gifts; a mountain goat, a bottle of wine, and Hunter fashions a hat for the Giant. Together, they travel out of the Trollshaws and through most of the Lone-lands, and Tom bids them farewell before they reach Inn of the Forlorn, and ambles off. The good natured and most lively encounter only strengthens Bragols curiousity and interest in Middle Earth and all it holds of mystery and wonder. How any of his fellow elves can grow tired and weary of this land he does not understand.

At Bree: Hunter and Eldacar rendevouz with Beoraborn, who also met Tom on his travels, and the three repair to the Prancing Pony. Here, Eldacar’s agent Mabs show up, compromising Eldacar’s position as “spymaster”, but gaining the party a valuable ally for the upcoming confrontation. Bragol is uncertain about bringing her with them on their mission. Not just because he does not truly know her, or if he can completely trust her, but because he fears for her safety…It would appear that the rouge stirs something deep inside the agent.

S02E01b - Honest work
In which Jack Fleetfoot goes about his business at Minas Brethil

These events take place during Episode One: Undertow.

After 13 hours of work, Jack is trobbing towards his workshop. There has been little time for food, and even less for rest, so saying that he’s a tired hobbit would be the underestement of the year. But tonight, Jack is hobbit in a good mood. He’s looking around, seeing various pieces of work he’s been directly and indirectly involved with, and he feels a joy he hasn’t felt in a long time. he looks up on a star-soaked sky and smiles. He dwells in his past for a moment, and comes to the conclusion that honest work isn’t so bad at all.

As he enters the workshop, Jack instantly sits down by his work bench and overlooks his plans for the Keep. Somewhat satisfied, he push them gently aside, and instead ponders about his new interest; Crafting with magic. “The possibilities could be endless”, he says quietly to himself with a decisive nod. But Jack knows that he will have to find a master to learn from before even thinking of is own form of crafting. And there are very few in Minas Brethil who knows the art. None to be exact. He will have to get some information about who to ask when next he visits a city.

But no more work tonight, he’s too tired to keep his eyes open. Jack turns off the lights, and fumbles his way between materials and benches, and finally, to his bed. He lies down, and pulls a blanket over himself. Before long, he’s in deep sleep with a content smile on his face, ready for a new day of honest work.

S02E01A - Duties
In which Feredir goes about his duties as Ranger in the Bree-lands.

These events take place during Episode One: Undertow.

The hour grows late. I have been making my way around the communities, calling on those I know, and those I’m told I need to know. Good folks. Ordinary folks. Folks who despair when the winter is long, and cruel. There is talk of the Great Winter, when wolves ran deep into the Shire, but I don’t hold with that kind of talk. For those who can read the signs, this winter isn’t going to get much worse. It’s only weeks away from turning, I can feel it.

I visit the Thurgoods out in Clayside; they lost their little girl since I was last along the way, and I pay my respects. They know me well; I was there after they lost their lad to the Goblins in Midgewater. I am suprised to learn Treadstone has not been here since that time. In fact, he has never paid a call. Though I keep attempting to persuade them otherwise, the Thurgoods believe they owe me for my part in clearing out those fiends. It makes it awkward, but I also feel an obligation to them for believing they owe me; like I must needs live up to their ethereal debt. I bring them the bushel of apples I received from the Waterfords, whom I visited earlier with words from their cousins in Reedhaven. While visiting Goodie Withlow this morning, I learnt that the Thurgoods’ crops had been poor, and as I have no need for apples where I am going, to Rivendell, I asked them to relieve me of them. They thank me and attempt to give me a coin of silver, the last thing left from Old Thurgood, but this time I manage to decline without causing insult.

Next I see to Muddy Claydown three miles outside Staddle, who claims there is a poacher taking to his pigs, and has been for weeks. I ask whether or not he has taken this up with Sheriff Blackthorne or Treadstone. Eliard has been about, but he has not found anything (I am not suprised; a good heart though he has, Eliard is no tracker). According to Claydown Treadstone asked flat-out why Claydown expected him to have any interest in missing hogs. I go out, but it is impossible to track any single person in the down-trodden, silty ground. It is not so much snow as frozen mud, and the pigs come together to brave the cold. I do find several sows belonging to Claydown among Grenwyns’ sounder, but it appears to me that the sows have wandered over on their own accord, what with the free rangings in the Chetwood. I explain this to Muddy, and leave it for the parties to sort it between themselves.

Widow Worthington has had the roof of her cottage partially cave in on account of the heavy snowfall last month, and no one has been around to help her mend it. The poor old biddy has been living in her stables for weeks. Why hasn’t Treadstone been around her place to help? Mending the shingle-covered roof takes care of the rest of my afternoon, and after this I have my supper with old Farmer Giles. He tells me a story of how he once went West and lived with the Elves, but nowadays no one comes to visit him. In fact, no one has been here since my last visit two months hence. It leaves me with a heavy heart, but I carry on.

With the eventide I visit the Ferngullys. I expect their son, Gundo, to greet me as I walk into their yard, but it is his mother who gratefully takes my hands, and leads me to the kitchen, where she supplies me with a cup of tea and a sad tale. It seems that after the last year of hardships Gundo went to see Treadstone and beg his help, but was not only turned down, but told that if he was unable to step up and be a man, he was responsible for the hardships befalling the Ferngully farm. I literally cannot believe what I am hearing, but in comes old Gil and confirms his wife’s tale. Gundo has left, they tell me, to go about the lands in search of adventure and riches. Of all the foolish notions…! Especially with the hinterlands as dangerous as they are now. They’re no place for a damn fool of a farmboy! What more, the Ferngullys are even worse off, for the old man isn’t able to take proper care of the sheep especially now that they’ve lambed, and he’s lost most of them today. I see no other choice that to pay them out enough copper to ease their way through winter, and then round up what lambs are still unaccounted for. I find three frozen to death.It is hard tracking by moonlight, but the afterglow from the snow helps. The count is right. I pray the copper will see them through winter – I cannot in good conscience give them more, for they do need to be able to stand on their own, and besides they would quite probably be horribly insulted. A few coppers for bread and cheese is hard enough to swallow. I leave them with my good wishes, and set back to Bree.

I make a silent vow to find that boy. I fear he is already done for, and I am not at liberty of going off on a wild goose-chase after one boy, but wherever I go I shall keep an eye – and an ear – out for him. And when I find him, there will be Words. His folks need him, now more than ever. Curse that Agarwaen for his damn importunate words. He really does not know how to deal with these people at all. I feel guilt for my long absence – even though this isn’t my charge at all. If I find him having met his demise – - well, his folks deserve to know. Better to know.

With those thoughts I make my way to the Prancing Pony and a night of fitful sleeping. In the morrow, I make for Rivendell with Bragol.

S02E01 - Undertow

A dark stone hallway. Grimy, black feet shuffle through the corridor, tattered cloak dragging on the floor, soles slapping on the cold stone.

A door opens, the feet cross a threshold. Raised voices, all gravel and rasping. Fire. Fists slamming on the table.

“Silence!” A clear, commanding voice. “How fares establishing the new trade routes?”
“With difficulties, your worship”, croaks another Man. “There hain’t no comin’ through the mountains without them Gundabad rabble, and still that’s days through Elf-lands” The last few words were spat. “There’s always the possibility of goin’ ‘round, though that’s difficult to arrange in your what you might call incongruous manner. If only there was some way of goin’ through The Angle..”
“The Angle?”
“Yes, your worship, if we could use the crossings, we’d cut transportation times manyfold.”
“So if we had a route through the Egladil, that would solve it?”
“Yes, your worship, but where’d we find that?”

Flying across the Angle, over the Vale of Brethil, to the keep at Minas Brethil. A troop of Red Lances ride across the open terrain, on patrol. The keep is being rebuilt, a scene of bustling activity. The only tower still standing, marred by fire, a man, Baran Sîdhoneth standing there, surveying the domain. He holds a mug of steaming tea, a look of fulfilment on his face. Another approaches him from the stairwell.
“If you please, m’lord, but the Hobbit wishes to know what you’d have done with the tunnel. For his plans, m’lord.”
“The tunnel? Why, I’m sure there’s a way for us to capitalise on it…”

[Intro Titles]

Two weeks earlier.

Feredir, disappointed in Salabon, leaves Fennas Drúnin and returns to patrolling the South Downs, putting off returning to Bree as long as he is comfortable with. He takes his tasks seriously, visiting old contacts and exploring new territory, even going as far West as Sarn Ford, hailing the Rangers stationed there. But nothing. There are no news, nothing stirs, not since the bandits in Tharbad were routed, and Feredir did that task himself, with his companions… His former companions. He is brooding, using his charge as a means to keep himself occupied; methodically occupied, but after three weeks he knows that it is time. Time to return to Bree, to face Agarwaen, and to find out how much the latter is going to complicate his life on account of the recent events.

After Feredir, Salabon and Bragol respectfully declined Paetric offers, Baran entered, and immediately accepted. The offer goes a long way for Baran to realise his dreams, and being able to return to his father having gained the respect he deserved. After working out the deal – and the initial budget – with Paetric, he sets forth to Minas Brethil, to join Jack Fleetfoot and Beoraborn. They also have a right to a stake in the keep, and Baran has a fairly good idea of how to take advantage of that while giving as little as possible away…

Salabon is initially unsure of what road to take, but eventually he ends up traveling to Minas Brethil to join up with Baran, Jack and Beoraborn, to help the survivors of the brutal reign of the Dark Forces.

Bragol ties up loose ends in The Angle, and travels to Bree to see to his agent there.

In Bree, Feredir discovers that Agarwaen has been on extended Rangings with a strange Ranger, seldomly bothering with the affairs of the Bree-folk. Feredir opens a letter from Salabon, with a sketch of a suspected traitor or undercover agent within the Rangers. Feredir has seen him before:

FLASHBACK: A mysterious man strides into the clearing where Feredir has made his most recent temporary abode. He gives no name, but is garbed as a Ranger, and says he comes from Rivendell. He charges Feredir with a secret duty: In Deadman’s Dike birds have reported seeing shapes lurking around the collapsed lower levels of the citadel. Feredir must find his way there, and find answers to what is transpiring. While snooping around the ruins he is accosted by and taken prisoner by a band of brigands. Unbeknownst to Feredir, among them is the Hobbit he will later come to know under the name Jack Fleetfoot. From the low murmur of the brigands he gathers that they have been hired to locate something, but having been badly beaten he is unable to glean exactly what. In his faintness he is vaguely aware of someone rifling through his effects, but he soon discovers that his bonds has been cut. He seizes the opportunity to overcome his one guard, and makes his way, weary and beaten, from the bandit’s camp. Later, he is sought out by the strange Ranger once more, and tells him the tale. The man is not impressed, and leaves in rage, very unlike a Ranger, but Feredir is still injured, and so is more apprehensive of his wounds. He is also aware of being stalked, or attempted to be stalked, but manages to elude his would-be assassins at every turn, his animal companions leading them astray time and again. Eventually he recovers, but he pays no heed to the strange mission and its outcome. It had been a mistake, and he had been played for a fool.

He knows what he must do; Agarwaen is clearly being influenced and tricked by this traitor, and Feredir must stop them. He quickly goes to the Prancing Pony to locate any allies to alert, but finds neither Goodthought, Isig, Strider or Gandalf there, nor any of his own companions, of course. Barliman Butterbur confirms that the man in the sketch is Agarwaen’s mystery companion, and Feredir realizes that although his initial reaction is to go after Agarwaen and the traitor, that is also the surest way of being killed without accomplishing anything. The wisest course is to go to Rivendell with his news.

But as he is leaving, there is Bragol in the doorway. Glad to see old companions, they shake hands and settle over a cup of mulled wine. They confer, Bragol having the same information about the traitor. They bid each other well, with arrangements to meet on the morrow. Feredir sees to the many locals who need aid and succor, helping those who has no one else. That night he mended the roof of an old widow’s cottage, kept an old man company for supper, captured a poacher and recovered some lost lambs. All the while Bragol consolidated with his agent, laid plans and continued building his web. Although their methods were seemingly without common ground, both of them did what they did for the good of Eriador, and both strove to make the world better, one small deed at the time. In a sense, they recognised that in each other, and so it was, on the following morning that together they set out for Rivendell, following the less-walked paths, the less-traveled roads, braving a harsh winter in a dangerous, wild land.

In the thickest Trollshaws, some days out of Rivendell. Bragol is busy setting up camp while Feredir is taking stock of their stores, sorting out what will be needed to arrange the meal of the day: roast rabbit. A drop of good wine goes a long way, as does the collection of precious herbs the Ranger has busied himself collecting in the South Downs. As they ordinarily do, the Elf and the Ranger prefer to sleep in the open, but on account of the unusual snowfall they have decided to dig a pit, and raise their canvas tarpaulin across it. Under their cloaks and blankets they will be snug as anything. Bragol has just finished scooping out the main lair, and is about to fix a rope between two trees to suspend the tarpaulin over, and Feredir is carefully pouring a measure of wine into a cup, for reference. He has dug away most of the snow, so the cup is sitting on the bare ground. He hesitates, a questioning look crossing his face. No, he didn’t imagine it, the surface of the wine gave a little, as if there was a tremor.
And a third time.

“Uh, Bragol…” Feredir slowly comes to his feet. His mind races, trying to place a creature large enough to cause the slight vibration. A troll? Surely not large enough, but a giant…? Giants do not usually come down this far, even in the Trollshaws. These were open hill countries, with patches of small woods clothing the hills only partially, not the usual stomping ground for giants. But still…
Bragol looks up. “What is it?”
“I am not entirely certain, but to be on the safe side…” He gestures Bragol to throw him the one end of the rope.
“What are you about?”
“Let’s just carry out what is on my mind, and if I am mistaken, no harm done.” Bragol needs no conviction, his inquisitive Elven nature often leading him to follow along to see where things go, and soon they have secured the rope between two thickening birches, a good thirty feed from the hollow that makes up their camp. A simple tripwire, but about two feet from the ground, useless to stop most foes, as Bragol subsequently points out.
Feredir, watching the darkening hill precipice, retorts; “Not Giants…”
Bragol’s brows knit, but not for long, for he, too, senses it now. Not only the minute, almost non-present vibrations in the snow-covered ground – even weaker when muffled by the snow, and probably indeterminable had it not been for Feredir’s grounded cup. No, there is more; a crude, rumbling humming, as if large boulders gnashing together, and then a silhouette forms over the dimming hills… Quickly, quietly, the two secret themselves in the thickets, finding good vantage points to be able to strike when their quarry is down. And sure enough, here comes the Giant; an ambling, round-faced character, with great dimples and full, lidded eyes, turned as if in a gentle smile. Both Feredir and Bragol hesitate; this isn’t one of the blood-thirsty Ogres of legend? This fellow looks more like some sort of mirthful, overgrown Hillman. His loins are covered by a treated skin, his feet bound with leather straps, like shoes. He wears adornments in the form of primitive bracelets and charms, and is much more hirsute than most men, but there is something about this creature… Who subsequently stops up, its brows scrunching, and looks down. It gives a sort of quizzing sound, and bends down, it’s enormous hand closing in around the tripwire. Feredir groans inwardly, as the twelve-foot Giant pulls at the rope as it stands back up, not tearing the rope free of the birches, but rather pulling the trees themselves from the ground. The Giant exclaims in a resounding laughter, and wipes his eye, before suddenly noticing something. Bragol and Feredir follow his gaze, and both feel a shudder as they see what the Giant has noticed: The horses. Though too snowed-over to offer grazing, the ground has been littered with hay, but the horses are no longer feeding; both have raised their heads, and are looking straight at the Giant, as if considering their options and unsure of the situation. The Giant licks his lips, and slowly begins to spin the rope-and-trees around its head like a make-shift bola. Bragol and Feredir stare in horror as the “bola” is picking up speed, knowing that their invaluable mounts will be crushed to pieces from the weapon. Feredir’s eyes widen, and his hands dart to his ever-present herb kit. He slides it impatiently open, and rummages through his labels, before his fingers close on his target: Kingsfoot! He grabs the bottle of wine he was using for his cooking, yanks out the cork with his teeth before carefully emptying the entire pouch of dried Kingsfoot-leaves into the bottle. All this done in seconds, he rams the cork back in, and underhandedly sends the bottle rolling over the packed snow, softly hitting the Giant’s feet. This distraction causes the Giant to slip his “bola”, sending it crashing through the trees uncomfortably close to Bragol. But the distraction worked! The Giant picks up the bottle, gazing at it, shaking it, sniffing it, before picking out the cork between two huge fingers, and peering into the small hole of the neck. He sniffs it again, flinches, sniffs it again, his face turning to mild consternation, before venturing a small sample. He jolts as the brew hits his tongue, and looks at it in amazement, before trying again – - and again – - and again, having emptied the contents of the large bottle in three, small sips. Feredir grins like a small, expectant child, but while the Giant lurches slightly on his feet, it recovers, and then suddenly begins singing. In a loud, loud bass voice. The horses scatter, and birds lift from the nearby trees, shrill voices sounding the alarm, and the two Rangers feel an urge to cover their ears. But as unexpectedly as it appeared, the Giant makes it’s sortie, carrying on in the same ambling gait as before, down the hills towards the streams. Bragol and Feredir look at each other, both having the same though, and both acknowledging said fact with a nod; better to follow it and find out where it keeps its lair, in case it proves a threat. They stretch their considerable skill at stalking, but might as well have walked along right behind the Giant, it is oblivious to everything but its own singing, clearly enjoying itself immensely. But there is no lair; its footprints do not cross, there is no particular pattern, and looking at the Giant’s gear it is likely that it has strayed down from the mountains because of the unusually hard winter. Eventually, the Giant sits down by the stream, brushing away some snow, and in slow stages gradually falls asleep, smiling and warm.

Feredir makes an utterance, and shakes his head, looking bemused. “I feel richer for having witnessed this creature,” he confesses. “Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have continued believing the tales of their evil natures. This creature is not evil, I’d be suprised to find that it is even wicked. Sound sleep and safe travels, big fellow”, he murmurs, squatting down to pat its immense head.
“I concur,” offers Bragol. “This creature is no more a threat than any number of natural beasts. It is not in league with any dark powers, we would have noticed it.”
Feredir nods. “But unlike natural beasts, this one clearly has a manner of intelligence. Did you notice the analytical glean in his eye as he tore out those trees?”
“Indeed. There is wisdom and cunning in that overgrown, slightly misshapen head, this much is evident.” A pause, then Bragol continues, “What did you give him?”
“Kingsfoot. A powerful sleep draught when mixed into wine, like a cold tea. For a moment I was worrying that I’d have given him a too-powerful dose; what he drank should have felled six grown Men.”
“It doesn’t look as if you’d have needed to worry,” interjects Bragol. “He seems to have handled it admirably.”

The two make their way back to camp, sleeping soundly that night in the knowledge that the sleeping Giant’s presence will have scared off anything that might have posed a threat, and the next day they carry on to Rivendell. Richer, as Feredir said, and wiser in a way. Neither of them can shake the feeling that this chance encounter with such a legendary creature means something more, but if so, they cannot form it into coherent thoughts, let alone words. But they have changed, and their task to save Eriador from Darkness is now both harder – and weirder.

S01E23 - Ranger, Healer, Soldier, Spy
In which our heroes try to untangle the web of corruption they have followed, and new threads are beginning to form...

With the Sand Serpent and his henchmen safely locked up, our hereos decides to use the remainder of the night to catch up on their sleep.

They end up using much of the following day for this as well and its afternoon when they all join up for a hearty breakfeast, an order met with sniggering from the staff at the inn.

With their bellies full they head for the home of the Sand Serpent. They left it under guard and a small feeling of relief flows through Bragol when he finds it undisturbed.

They set to with the time consuming task of searching the building from top to bottom. While ransacking the lavish, private abode of Amril, the astute Feredir uncovers a lockbox. The box is hidden in the large bed, but as his hands reach down, ready to jimmy the lock open his eyes fall on a small hole, just under the keyhole. Upon closer inspection he is able to identify it as an angmarian neelde trap.

Unfortunately neither Feredir, nor Bragol is able to disable the lock. The the nimble Jack Fleetwood out of town, they wisely leave the lockbox locked and calls for a locksmith. The memory of being pricked by a poisoned pin and the good fortune in surviving is stil fresh in Bragols memory.

Focusing their attention on the only other locked door they find the guestroom. Here a chest with a false bottom is found, and it 35 pieces of gold. Nothing else of any interest is found.

They proceed to the tower, finding a large workspace. Someone has been living here, and modestly so. A cot, a blanket and no frills.

Feredir immediately recognise Crebain droppins on the windowstill…

There is a small writing desk towards one side of the wall. Over towards a windows stands small telescope. Having desired one for a long time, Salabon moves closer. His eyes however is not drawn towards the telescope, but rather a small crystal on a pedestal besides the lookingglass.

This is lost on Bragol and Feredir. Their attention lies fully with the papers they have found. Ledgers, accounts, books and reports. It’s not only a who’s who of the city, but a list over who can be bought, who can be blackmailed, in short people the enemy can use to furhter his cause.

Salabons hands close around the crystal, picking it up he moves over to Feredir. He gives him the crystal, asking if he can figure out what it is.

As soon as Feredirs hands clasps the item, his mind is filled with visions of its past. He can feel the shard in his mind, information pulsing from it and through him. He is lost in time and space for a while, oblivious to the outside world. Bragol realises that something is wrong, and his own experience with the dark book comes to mind. He throws a cloth over it, but it is pointless. Feredir is back to normal, he gasps and begins to talk in a low voice.

“It’s not an evil item, the Sand Serpent has not poisned its power. It appears that it will greatly improve magical spells, making them last longer for instance…” He pockets the items and their attention is drawn to another oddity.

A brick in the wall looks loose. Salabond removes it and a box can be seen. Opening it, it is immediately clear what it contains. Messages, meant to be carried by crebain.

Unfotunately they are written in black speech, a language they cannot read. But wait, isn’t there something odd with the way Salabon studies the notes? The way his eyes move, his face reacts…its almost like he is able to understand what the texts says. Bragol’s suspicions becomes stronger, something is not right here…Confronting him, Salabon gives a reasonable explanation: He recognise the word Bree, and so they do.

Back at Patrick they give their report. As long as the messages are not translated, it will not be enough evidence to have the Sand Serpent convicted.

He has other news though, and with great words he declares that he is prepared to make them the rulers of Minas Berethiel, with all the rights and responsibilies that entails.

As Feredir and Bragol is busy thanking and at the same time declining the great honour, Salabon breaks in. On the table in front of them he puts down several pages. Pages containing translations of all the notes. All eyes fall upon him and the room goes deathly quite…

End credits

S01E22 - Spies and Sand Serpents
In which our heroes attempt to confront the Sand Serpent

Feredir does what he can for Bragol’s wounds and Baran’s hearing, administering potions made from herbs and mushrooms under the watchful eye and interfering tongue of Salabon. Some times, it turns out, the right herb can do what a skilled healer’s hands cannot. Baran is given a draught carefully tipped into his ears, made from the mushroom Febfendu. Not knowing how long the draught will take to have effect, Baran is left to his impatience, hoping his hearing will return. Bragol is treated by having his worst sores pricked with Witchbriar-thorns, granting him a speedier healing process. He is also given a tea made from Goldenmint, which though not really further the healing, but grants him respite from the excruciating pains.

Feredir also shows Bragol the orb they located in the treasury, as well as the notebook of gibberish mentioning Palantír. Bragol manages to discern that the orb, though deeply magical, is not a Palantír. They dare not leave it with the rest of the loot, however, and as they prepare to make the journey back to Fennas Drunin, they secure it at the bottom of Feredir’s sturdy sack. Beoraborn and Jack stay behind to oversee the vast treasures anticipating a heavily guarded escort from Fennas Drunin and Harnalda. Jack because he volunteers, Beoraborn because no one really trusts the Hobbit thief with the loot…

Time is not on the party’s side; few have had a full night’s sleep in several weeks, many are still affected by wounds, and all of them have suffered brutally. And any illusions of making a quiet and discreet entry to Fennas Drunin are soon dispelled; people line the city walls and streets calling out, cheering, and chanting their names: surprise is a moot point.

Tired and dishevelled, the party repairs to the Oak Grove, and secure their prisoner in the cellars.

After resting what little they can afford, Bragol interrogates the prisoner, persuading him to give everything up in exchange for the promise of speaking for him when his fate is to be decided.

It turns out that Bragol’s theory involving a Palantír proves true; the Enemy has been combing Minas Brethil in search of one, but the search has failed, only coming up with a clearly magical orb that is nonetheless no Palantír.

The captured animist – who calls himself Alkaur The Northman – has traveled with the group for five or six years, only recently meeting up with the bands of Orcs. The leaders of the band was the fighter slain by Beoraborn’s hand in the tower stairs, and they were all under orders of an entity or person called The White Hand, whom apparently is not only looking for this fabled Panlantír, but allegedly is on the trail for several others. “That would indeed be a devastating victory for the Enemy!” shudders Feredir. Thank the Stars the Enemy’s forces was destroyed so completely. But it leaves a loose end, or rather three.

Of the three potential spies in Minas Brethil, Alkaur names two of them – and a third; Leoric and Descar, and the Sand Serpent itself – Uzathor.

There is no more time than simply prepare for the feat at Paetric’s estate, so any move based on this newly uncovered information will have to be improvised.

Arriving at the ostentatious grounds surrounding Paetric’s majestic manor, the party is greeted and introduced by their full names as the Heroes of Harnalda (though Feredir is, to his relief, only named “Hunter – a Northman”, having never introduced himself as anything else. Prudence can pay off, it turns out). Feredir slips a discreet note to Paetric, informing him that the identity of the traitors are known, but to play it careful as they don’t yet know they are smoked. The feast is lively and spirited, but a terrible strain for Baran, who finds it tiresome and confusing without his hearing. Stepping gingerly out onto a balcony to gain some respite and air, he feels a shimmer as the atmosphere changes, and he realizes that it is the audible world returning to him.
“…don’t think we have been discovered”, he hears a voice, mumbling.
“But where have they been? We know they didn’t come straight from Harnalda?”
“You don’t think they’ve been to Brethil…?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think so, after all, we still seem to be safe. But to be on the side of caution, go to the warehouse and see if any messages have arrived. Go swiftly, now.”
Baran carefully peers across the ledge, and there below him in the garden, hidden by shadows, are two figures. One detaches itself and disappears from sight, while the other lingers. Baran straddles the ledge, but the figure below stiffens, and brings up his sword as Baran springs from the balcony.

He lands awkwardly, and finds himself impaled through the thigh on the other man’s blade. Wincing in pain, he finds his head temporarily muddled over as the weeks of fatigue comes over him, and he collapses on the floor.

At this point Bragol comes out to find a secure location to talk to Paetric, and takes in the view of the gardens. He is surprised to see a figure scaling the fences to get out, and as soon as he looks down he discovers why. He signals Salabon and Feredir, and the first immediately sets to aiding Baran, whilst the second sets of in pursuit of the man. “It’s Amril – he’s Uzathor, the Sand Serpent” Bragol calls after him, and then turns to Paetric, asking him to arrest Leoric and Descar.

Feredir follows Amril on a wild chase through the city, but the Ranger proves the swiftest and most enduring of the two, and he catches up with his quarry in an alley.

“Yield now, Sand Serpent, and your life will be spared”, he warns the traitor, who sneers and lunges at him, promising Feredir that “this isn’t over”. However, his skills with the sword – a particularly evil-looking blade – proves no match from the deadly Outrider, and he soon finds himself disarmed. At that moment the rest of the party arrives by coach, and Baran advances and punches Amril squarely in the face, sending him to the floor.

Bragol recoils at the sight of the traitor’s blade – Elf Slayer, an infamous and evil thing from the Witch-King’s forges.

With Amril secured, the party advances to follow the progress on securing the rest of the Sand Serpent’s organization.

S01E21 - In the Dark
Der våre heltar vert fanga i ein bokstaveleg tala heitt stad!

Gjengen barrikaderer seg i dei to øvste romma i tårnet, medan styrkene nedanfor visar seg å inkludere magikarar, som går til verks for å få kål på intrengarane i tårnet. Eit stummande, magisk mørkre legg seg, som gjer samtlege temmeleg nervøse, og i tillegg vert golvet i andre etasje glovarmt, så varmt at det er umogleg å stå der. Gode råd er dyre, og Bragol bestemmer seg for å handle. Han snik seg ut vindauget med hjelp frå Feredir. Sistnevnte er overhovud ikkje klar over at alven har kasta magi, og han slepp seg ned på kringvernet, og landar utan ei skramme. Han kjem seg ut av mørkret, og må handskast med magikere. Dette gjer han ved å rulle ned av muren, for så å levitere opp og skyte på han med boge. Etter ei stund byrjer dei andre å få panikk oppe i tårnet, og risikerer alt ved å kaste ut eit tau og klarte ut vindauget og ned bak slottet. Heldigvis er dei trygge! Styrkene i slottet oppfattar kva som skjer, og sender ut tropper for å ta seg av rømlingane, men då dukkar Baran og dei raude lansene opp!

Kampen er kort, men det er mykje arbeid å ta seg av. Bragol er seriøst forbrent, og må behandlast med urter; Salabon og Feredir samarbeider og hjelper han, men han må framleis ha meir hjelp. Salabon gjer han nokre soveurter, og han er ute resten av episoden.

Det tek lang tid å katalogisere og utforske slottet og tunnelen. Tunnelen visar seg å vere ein utgravd gang under Mitheithel. Feredir blir bleik i det han innser at det er nettopp denne elva som står mellom fienden og invasjon av Arthedain og Bree-land. Dei einaste vegane inn er Last Bridge, Fennas Drunin, og Tharbad, men ein snarveg under elva kunne vore katastrofe.

Dei finn tydelege spor etter onde krefter, mellom anna ei trone, og kennel for vargar. I tillegg finn dei mangfoldige slavar, som dei overgjev til Dei raude lansene for å ta seg av og hjelpe. Inne i sjølve slottet vert dei overrumpla av ein necromancer, og før dei klarar å ta knekken på han gjer han Baran døv med magi! I necromancerens rom møter dei sitt bokstaveleg jævligste syn; drøssevis av daude kroppar i ulike stadier av dekomposisjon, heilt tydeleg brukt i onde ritualer. Dei andre klarar knapt å vere i rommet, og nesten alle spyr, men Salabon finn ein morbid fascinasjon ved dette. Han finn óg ei bok om Necromancy han diskré pakkar vekk…

Innanfor det grufulle rommet oppdagar dei ein ENORM skatt. Dette er det gamle skattkammeret frå den gongen Minas Brethil var hovudstad, nok til eit heilt lite kongerike, nok til å hjelpe The Angle attende på beina.

Med oppdrag utført gjeld det å prioritere rett. Fleire av medlemmane i gruppa treng lækjarhjelp som ein berre kan få i Rivendell, men dei har noko uoppgjort i Fennas Drunin: The Sandserpent er framleis på frifot… Kan Salabon reise aleine til Rivendell med tre pasientar, gjennom livsfarlege område, medan Jack og Feredir dreg til Drunin for å knyte opp dei lause trådane?


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