Rangers of the North

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?

S01E20 - Darkness at Minas Brethil, pt. 2
Der våre heltar må mønstre ein halsbrekkjande redningsoperasjon i ondskapens leir...

Feredir oppdagar raskt spor, men dei er metodiske og profesjonelle: her er dei ein ferdamannsmeister på ferde!

Dei legg beina på nakken, og ser snart ei lita gruppe frakte Salabon mot porten til borggarden. Gode råd er dyre; dei kan ikkje gå til åtak utan å bli oppdaga av styrkene utanfor festningsverket. I staden tek dei seg rundt slottet, og over muren.

Samstundes vaknar Salabon bunde fast og hengt opp i taket i tårnet. Han fresar og brukar sitt dominerande nærvær til å overtyde fangevaktaren sin om at han eigentleg er ein av dei, og at vedkomande som har gjort denne tabben vil betale dyrt. Det lukkast, og ein orsakande, svartkledd form slepp han ned, og er straks på veg ut døra etter leiaren sin.

I mellomtida har dei fire andre kome seg inn, og fram til døra ved tårnet. Dei høyrer nokon løpe nedover, og ser sitt snitt til å løpe opp, i håp om at dei held Salabon her. Beoraborn oppdagar over eit snes hestar, og vert att for å sale opp fem til ein kort retrett. I andre etasje kjem dei over vapenlageret, og ein etasje til gjev dei ei låst dør (kort arbeid for Middle-Finger). På den andre sida sit Salabon i ei svart kutte med sølvknappar. Bragol, som mistenkjer at det er ein spion blant ferdamennene, blir straks mistruisk, og Feredir forlangar å få vite kva dette er for taskenspeleri, og Salabon klarar å overtyde dei om at han berre speler eit spel, og at det er best dei speler med. Dei skjular seg raskt for bakhaldsangrep; sjefen er på veg opp!

Beoraborn høyrer nokon ta seg opp trappa innanfor døra, og bestemmer seg for å snike seg opp etter dei. Diverre er ikkje den røslege beijibaren nokon småfugl, og planen dei fire andre la går i vasken i dét fiendane vender nedatt for å undersøkje. Beoraborn har ikkje anna val enn å gå i kamp med ein svær, langhåra og værbiten krigar, medan i andre etasje slår døra opp, og ein kappekledd fyr kjem inn. Feredir hoppar ut, og slår han i svime. Dei bind, blindar og kneblar han, medan Bragol hiv seg nedover trappa for å hjelpe Beoraborn før det er for seint. “Ta han i live!” ropar han i dét han prøver å slå krigaren i svime bakfrå, men ikkje lukkast

Men den store krigaren er for mykje for dei to å overrumple, og snart høyrer dei rop og lyden av føter, og Beoraborn har ikkje anna val enn å gje han eit banehogg. Krigaren mister foten og går ned, men no er fiendens styrkar like utanfor.

Salabon og Jack står over ein bastebunda form i eit laboratorium i øvste etasje i tårnet.

Feredir er i sprang nedover trappene.

Beoraborn og Bragol tek i mot den falne krigaren i dét han går ned.

Og utanfor nærmar fiendens styrker seg med stormskritt.

Samstundes i Fennas Drunin:

“Er dette alt du har å seie?” Baran sine auge smalnar i ei faretruande mine. Den andre sine auge smett fram og attende i rommet, medan kald sveitte rend nedover panna hans.

“J…ja…?” Sveitten svir han i augene no, og han løftar ei nervøs hand mot panna for å tørke den vekk. Baran stivnar som om han skal trekkje sverdet, og den andre frys, før han veldig forsiktig tørkjer sveitten. “Eg lovar deg, fem femmarar…”

“Då seier eg seks seksarar,” brølar Baran, og smeller sin eigen terningkopp i bordet.

S01E19 - Darkness at Minas Brethil, pt. 1
Der våre heltar dreg til Vale of Brethil for å finne fleire spor etter Fienden

Mørkret hang framleis tungt over Fennas Drúnin, men ferdamennene som kvilte ut etter god mat i røykjestova på The Oak Grove vart likevel ikkje overraska over å sjå Paetric då han steig inn i rommet, flankert av si dotter Jayelle. Det var forventning, spenning og antydning til frykt å lese i andletet til den ærbårne byrårdleiaren i Fennas Drúnin.

“Vi kjem med både gode og vonde tidningar, min ven,” forklarte Feredir, og Paetric tok raskt ein ledig stol attmed dei som allereie var til stades, slik at dei forma ein halvsirkel rundt den lune og lindrande eldstaden.

Feredir og Bragol framla situasjonen slik den førelåg reint objektivt; dei delte ikkje informasjonen som dei mellom seg hadde bestemt å hade løynd, og heller ikkje sine eigne roller i slaget delte dei. Men Paetric fekk tidingane han så angstfylt hadde venta: Slaget var over, og både Thuin Boid og Harnalda stod framleis. Men lettelsa var kortvarig: Dei to har grunn til å tru at slaget og beleiringa berre var ein avleiingsmanøver frå — ja, kva, det har dei ikkje funne ut, og spora er få. Men dei er overtydd om at det er ein bedragar og forræder i Fennas Drúnin, og det er difor dei har vendt attende.

Få visste om oppdraget til ferdamennene; Paetric sjølv og dottera Jayelle, stallkaren som stilte med vogn og esel, og kjøpmannen og læresveinen hans som utrusta karavanen. Saman formulerer dei ein plan for å lokke dei tre sistnemnte frå sine husvære, for så å la Bragol og Jack Fleetfoot, som har gjort seg fortent til det nye aukenamnet Middle-Finger grunna hans klåfingra natur, gjennomsøkje desse. Avledninga vil vere ein fest for å feire oppdraget sin suksess og besigringa av fienden.

Bragol fortel at han har grunn til å mistenkje at den gamle festningen Minas Brethil kan halde det dei onde søkjer etter. Paetric fortel det han kan om staden: Minas Brethil er den urgamle hovudstaden som ikkje har vore i bruk på fleire hundreår, kanskje tusen. Den falt i Krigen mot Angmar, men vart siden restaurert, men fann likevel aldri attende sin posisjon, og har difor lagt tom i manns minne. Meir klarar ikkje dei sju å finne fram til, med unntak om at staden ligg åtte-ni timars riding frå Drunin.

Ferdamennene gjer opp meining om å dra ut for å speide rundt Minas Brethil; festen skal finne stad om to dagar, men dei vi ha tid til å undersøkje om ondskapen har fotfeste, og kanskje få eit overtak på kven enn forrædaren er. Baran vert attende i Drunin for å sjå kva han kan finne ut her.

Ikkje langt frå Minas Brethil. Feredir rir i front for å speide, som vanleg. Brått værer han fare; han rettar merksemda mot omgjevnadane, og kjenner eimen av våt hund og død: Vargar! Han rekk å tre av hesten og sende den vekk før ein rabiat varg er på han. Med eit pileskot og eit velplassert hugg med langsverdet sender han styggedomen i bakken, og gjer ende på kreket. Han kallar på hesten og rir som bestett mot dei andre.

Salabon, Bragol, Beoraborn og Jack værer óg ulvane, og Salabon set hælane inn i sida på hesten den vegen han trur Feredir er. Ein varg kjem frå ingenstads og feller Jack sin ponni etter eit kort forsøk på å ri klar, og Beoraborn kastar seg frå hesten i eit overmenneskeleg sprang og deler ulven i to i dét Feredir rir inn i klaringa. Meir varsame held dei fram mot Minas Brethil.

Utanfor ein skog som omkransar Vale of Brethil finn dei fem ein passande plass å setje hestane, før dei tek seg gjennom skogen til fots. Dei kjem snart fram til sjølve dalen, der slottet reiser seg opp langs ein åskam. I dalen ser dei to leire med Hillmen. Feredir, Bragol og Jack avanserer for å speide ut leirane; Salabon og Beoraborn følgjer ein avstikkar av Mitheithel som leier rundt slottet. Beoraborn ser fort spor etter orkar, og dei følgjer sporet til ei hule i fjellet, nedanfor slottet. Han sender sin ilderkompanjong for å finne Feredir, og etter å ha fullført rundturen rundt slottet møter dei tre speidarane Salabon og Beoraborn ved hula. Beoraborn forklarar at han på spora kan sjå at orkane er utmatta og og slitne, og at det moglegeins er ein eller fleire Uruk-Hai blant dei.

Tunnelen er vakta over av to orkar, og det er tydeleg fleire innanføre. Til Jack si gru legg dei fem andre ein plan som går ut på å lokke orkane frå tunnelen. Beoraborn skiftar ham, og like etter tassar ein bjørn ut frå buskassa nord for tunnelen. Orkane kallar inn i hula, og fleire kjem ut, og set etter bjørnen, som forsvinn inn i buskane. Jack ligg i skjul, og Feredir og Bragol kjem inn bakfrå: snart er det berre blodige spor att etter orkane. Dei vender attende til der Salabon venta på dei, men oppdagar til sin skrekk at han er borte!

S01E18 - Aftermath
Der våre heltar vendar attende til Fennas Drúnin med bange anelser...

Slaget om Harnalda er kanskje over, men det betyr ikkje at det er mindre travelt for dei seks heltane. Både under og lenge etter at slaget er over er Nestaron opptatt med å ta seg av dei såra og jobbar i ett med å operere, amputere og forbinde.

Så snart slaget er over og fienden har flykta, nyttar Bragol sjansen og tar seg ut til leiren der elitesoldatene til fienden budde. Her går han igjennom telta på jakt etter informasjon. Det han finn setter ein støkk i han og bygg opp under teorien om at det finnes ein forræder blant Ferdamennene. Han finner også ein scroll som avslører at fienden veit at dei leitar etter dei tapte palantirene, nok eit teikn på at det finnes forrædere.

Ein dagbok som avslører at to agenter frå samme familie opererer her. I tillegg viser det seg at angrepet på Harnalda berre var ein avledningsmanøver, men for kva er ikkje kjent. Derimot oppdager Bragol at det er ein som vet dette, ein av fiendens agenter som går under kodenavnet the sand viper.

Bragol rapporterer dette til alvene fra Rivendell og får i oppdrag å kontakte ein mann ved navn Patrick i Fennas Druinen, den einaste mannen kan kan stole på. Bragol finner også ein bok,eit orkisk gudebildet, ein ring og ein amulett. Gudebildet øydelegg han, ringen og amuletten viser seg å være magiske gjenstander som styrker ein persons magiske kraft.

Samme natt for Feredir besøk av ei mystisk kvinne som fortel at hun er ein av Ferdamennene. Hun fortel Feredir det samme som Bragol har oppdaga: At angrepet var ein avledning og at ein agent ved namn the sand viper veit meir. Ho ber han oppsøke Patrick.

Under festen for å feire sigaren fortel Feredir eit heltekvad av episk proporsjon, men Bragol er opptatt med å analysere den eine boken han fann. Nestaron kvittar seg meg litt pengar og spanderer drikke på alle der, som viser seg å være fleire enn han først hadde trodd. Baran er travelt opptatt med å feire sigaren. Såra han pådro seg under kampen plager han ikkje, men han må se å få ein ny streng til buen sin.

Når Bragol endeleg får opp låsen på boka, fell han under ein magisk makt og glir inn ein katatonisk tilstand. I denne føler han den mørke fiendens øye på seg, og det er bare rask tenkning fra Jack Fleetwood som redder han. Hobbitten oppdager at noko er galt, han handler raskt og lukker boken. Bragol kjem seg og han gir boken til Jack og tar han med seg til smien. Her får han Jack til å øydeleggje den, noko som viste seg å være vanskeleg! Men dei lykkes.

Bragol fortel Feredir det han veit, då han er trygg på at Feredir er ein lojal ferdamann. Dei to vært einige om å reise til Fennas Druinen, men om å ikkje seie noko om grunnen til dei andre. Bragol fryktar at enten Nestaron eller Baran kan være spionar for fienden.

Vell framme i Fennas Druinen får dei seks seg ein fortjent kvil, god mat og varme bad. No venter Bragol og Feredir på åmøte Patrick, mens resten er klar for å leite etter urten dei treng for å gi Beoraborn synet tilbake.


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