Rangers of the North

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

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

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

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

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

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

And thus, the Company of the Dragon is formed.

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

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

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

His blood-brother Feredir has vanished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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S03E15 - Betrayal in Minas Tirith

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

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S03E14 - The Star of Elendil

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

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

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S03E13 - By Isildur's Hand

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

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S03E12 - Pelargir
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S03E11 - Friends and foes

Bragol and Salabond are finally given the name of noble the mysterious agent of the dark lord wants, them to subvert or kill. They are surprised to find that it is the third son of a noble lord, a young dilletant without any apparent value to the enemy. Why would this person be of any interest? Salabond vaguely remembers the young man, he used to hang around the society of the written word, always trying to gain their attention and praise, never succeeding.

Together the two formulate a plan to initate contact with the youg lord. Bragol follows the man for a few days, learning his movements and routines. Once this is done, they choose the place and time when Salabond just “happens” upon he man, recognises him and offers him friendship.

But an unforseen event complicates matter. The courtyard is filled wih people in quite an upheaval. It seems that Gandalf the grey is visiting the White City and many are wondering what he is doing here. Seeing and opening Bragol shouts: “Look, is it not Gandalf that cometh this way?” And with all faces turned and attentions busy Salabond "accidentally walks into Egel, spilling his books and begging his pardones. Then he “regonises” him and the two falls into discussion.

It would seem that the Egel is much given to study the history of the old seeing stones of Arnor. Could this be why the enemy is after him? This and if the two are not mistaken there is an aura of some power about the lad, could it be that he has some potential for magic? This could explain why the enmy would be interested in such a little waif…

Suddenly Bragol notices something disturbing. The air seems filled with signs of some form of magic, as if someone is scrying upon them. Scanning the crowd he attempts to uncover their source, but before he can succeed his attention is drawn to a most peculiar and disconcerning sight.

A gaunt figure of a man, dressed in rags and with long, wild hair is approaching the Salabond and Egel, drawing everyones attention towards them. Even more disturbing is what the old vagabond is crying out: “Eldacard, I am searching for Eldacar. Are you him? I can see power in you, but you ar enot him. Where is Eldacar? I must speak with him!”

Fearing what is afoot, but not wanting to expose himself the elf remains quite and watches. It does not take long for the guards to appear and apprehend the beggar. Salabond ends his meeting with promises of seeing hte youg man again and unable to locate the source of magic he detected, Bragol decides to follow the guards and the strange man in order to uncover who he is and what his purpose might be.

Salabond however is surpised, gladly so, by the sudden appearance of an old aquitance, one Adamar, whom he knows through Sauroman the white. The two falls into conversation and retire to Salabonds office.

Bragol however employs his special skill set and succeeds in breaking the old man out of the guards prison. and brings him back home. Learning that the man suffers from visions, visions that directed him to search for one Eldecar. Uncertain of what to make of it, he offers the homeless tramp to stay with him in hopes of uncovering the meaning of it all.

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S03E10 - The White Tower

A long time has passed since Bragol and Nestaron first entered the White City in search of the enemy agent that they believe is situated there.

At first all went well. They were successfull in infiltrating the city and keeping their cover intact. They opened a breakfasthouse named Eldecar’s Breakfast house in the first ring, and later a shop dealing in fine goods in the forth ring. With the help of Mabs Bragol began to set up a spy network.

But they soon hit a dead end; the enemy agent made no contact and the months passed. More than a year and stil no word. Then one day Nestaron arrives at the breakfasthouse and discovers a message, finally the game is afoot. But who are the mysterous strangers that follows Bragol to the drop sit? One is a young ruffian, clearly hired by the enemy. But who is the other one? The professional?

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S03E09 - The Battle of the Borderlands
Wherein our heroes and their Dwarven allies wage war
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