Rangers of the North

S04e01
Awakenings

“Life is good.” Beoraborn, the last of the shape shifting beornings, thought out loud, basking in the last of the warm sun rays of summer. Fall would soon be upon his tribe and harvest would be good this year. Greenwood was as good as clean from the vile taint of the shadow. All but the old fortress of the necromancer, but that too would come to pass into sunlight. He grabbed a handful of honeyed forest nuts and quaffed them down with a mouthful of cellar cool ale he had traded earlier this summer. This little village had become a sort of trading post in the middle of Greenwood connecting the people of Dale and Laketown with the horse men of Rohan. His was a safe village, and people knew this. A veteran of the war 15 years past as well as all of the adventuring with his friends had made him an expert warrior knowing how to take care of his people. When nostalgia crept upon him, Beoraborn would retire to his little smithy where he would find his adventuring gear, his weapons and his small treasures. By old habit he opened his glass treasure box finding the most valuable item. The gold coin from the horde of the dragon, Scorba, where his old friend, the hobbit Jack Fleetfoot, was still fast asleep where he had sacrificed himself to eternal sleep with the dragon. “How strange” Beoraborn said to himself. “The gold is warm to the touch. As if the coin has been lying in the sun for several hours. This must mean…” He stopped. Turned around and whistled a sharp tone, calling for his animals. “You must find my friends.” He told them. “And hasten before it is all too late!”

Salabon sat behind his oaken desk in the library in Minas Anor.
He had just finished a lecture in the magical healing powers of the herbs of north.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Bree, Anuminas, Minas Brethil, The North” he though as he poured himself some tea sweetened by honey. “I wonder if I’ll ever gaze upon the beauty of these places one again.” His thought were interrupted by a know at the door.
“Who knocketh without? Speak, friend, and enter.” Salabon shouted.
The door opened and a you man clad in travelers clothes of the Horselords.
Hair and beard of the fiery red of Eadyth’s clan and the angled features of a numenorian.
The two men gazed upon each other, sizing each other up and trying to make sense of the existence of the other.

“Fagnið föður! Hér er ég.” The younger man finally spoke in the tongue of the Rohirim.
“Rejoice father! Here I am.”
“This makes sense” Salabon replied remembering the night before the fight with Corlagon. The night with Eadyth talking about how that might be their last light alive, how the fear of dying and the warmth of Beoraborn fortified mead had combined into a lust for life, and some canoodling in the bushes. He smiled. He now had an heir. A bastard heir, but an heir nontheless. Father would hate that. Salabons grin grew even wider.
“I have news of Eadyth, mother.” The young man, Edmund, told him of Eadyth’s wound during the war and her reclining health. “…and she gave me this.” Edmund handed Salabon a golden coin. He knew that coin for it was a coin from the dragon Scorba’s horde. It was warm to the touch, as if had been left by a warm fireplace for some time. “It is time” Edmund said. “The Dragon is awaking.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barhador ducked, blocked, feigned, slashed, turned and stabbed. He had found the ork tribe 2 days ago, and had followed them to this dell. A perfect place for an ambush. So he had chosen to sneak in to the camp at broad daylight and attach from within. The orks never stood a chance. Keep one alive to tell the tale Barhador reminded himself. The something struck him. Not physically. It was more as if some magic connection was reestablished. That feeling of awakening. It was coming from the medallion. That medallion he had found in his backpack more than 30 years ago. The one that connected him to the halfling. Suddenly he was wide awake, as if the last 20 years had been a dream, as if he had been sleepwalking the whole time. He was more real, the colors were more vivid. Time was almost standing still. His reactions were sharper. He were now in total control of the fight. It was as dancing. He knew the steps. Left, slash, right,feign, backhand, duck, underhand, stab, two steps right, cross swipe. “I should have left one alive” he came to realize. And then he stopped. “I am awake” he thought, “Really awake. He grabbed his purse producing his gold coin from the horde of Scorba. It was warm.” “This means Jack is awake. THIS MEANS….”

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S04E00 - Epilogue

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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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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