Fornost Erain: Deadman’s Dike: Four shadowy figures continue their erstwhile search of the ruined citadel; Hunter the Ranger; the Elf Bragol, who calls himself Eldacar; his agent Mabs; and the lumbering Beorning Beoraborn. The four of them slowly edge closer to center of the once mighty citadel, the innermost ring of its layered design, testament to the Dúnedain who built it, thousands of years ago.
There is little to testify of the grandeur that permates the legends of the place, but Hunter still feels it, deep down in his Númenórean bones. This city once was the epitome of the post-cataclysmic Númenórean culture, and he is one of the last to remain of that great people. He takes the lead through the gently snow-covered streets, followed by Bragol , then Beoraborn, with Mabs brining up the rear.
The shadow of Angmar that once decimated the citadel can still be felt, and Bragol cannot help but feel shiver as he feels the evil that still taints this ground. He doesn’t share the melancholy sorrow for the loss as does Hunter; instead, it is the fear of the Darkness and the evil might of the Enemy.
Animated skeletons are stalking the streets. But they are not shambing aimlessly; far from it. They are moving in groups, patrolling the streets. Bragol immediately deduces that they are somehow controlled by someone, or some_thing_ – - which is indeed guiding them. He shares his terrible thought with the group, and Mabs all but confirms it, she apparently having her own senses of these things. Hunter tells them that they are free to take their leave, but for his own part, on his heritage, he must deal with whatever it is; he is willing to lay down his life to attempt its defeat… The others nod in grave and earnest agreement: their swords are his.
They venture deeper into the ruined capital, and as they are crossing an old courtyardMabs suddenly stops. She backs up a few steps: “I cannot go on….I must…rest… You three go on.” The colour of her face drains away with every word. She sits down, refusing to move. Bragol moves to her, tries to get her on her feet. But to no avail. Suddenly they can hear footsteps coming closer. The unmistaken sound of skeletons marching. Quickly they must hide!
Hunter, ever the master of shadows and stealth, manages to secret the entire group, including the fallen Mabs, in a derelict ruin. Bragol hides Mabs under his own cloak in the corner of a fallen wall. As he holds her close he can feel how cold she is. Then the cold spreads, from her and into his own body. He can feel his strength slip away, fear creeping into his body. A feeling much akin to when the eye saw him through the book. He can feel his willpower fading, fear begins to take hold. He knows that he must fight it, or else he will fade away and join the restless dead of the capital. And he can feel that it is much worse for Mabs, whom he dragged here. He is responsible for her, if she dies it will be because of him…that cannot happen!
Softly, ever so softly, he sings an old Elvish song into her ear. As much for himself, as for her. The skeletons begin to move again, searching for them. They are merely a few feet away.
Suddenly there is a dark, horrible voice, a voice not belonging to any body, but seeming to come from the air itself. No one present knows its tongue, but it is not a stretch to assume it is the Tongue of the Black One.
Hunter decides it is time to act. But not with his usual zeal and righteousness; instead, this is a time for guile and quick thinking. With the Rangers’ secret language of signs and gestures, he beckons to his little furry companion, the weasel Swift Jaws. The little animal finds use of every crack and crevace that the ruined city provides on his rounabout route, but after a short while there is an almighty clamour, as the creature plays the devil with a piece of rusted armour still attached to its unlucky wearer! The ruse works, and the dreadful Prescence appears to direct its wards to the direction of the distractions.
The skeleton disappear, and so does the spell that had affected Mabs and Bragol. Now there are no doubts in his or Hunters minds. They must find the evil behind this and destroy it!
Beoraborn takes the lead and makes an impossible jump straight up the citadels walls, leaving the three others to gaze in disbelief! He throws down a rope and a little while later they are all at the heart of the old capital. They decide to head for the monastery, betting on it to be a good place to start searching. They are correct.
The four of them halters just before opening the main doors…they can feel the evil inside. Upon searching the bulding they find two more doors. Peering in they can see a giant skeleton sitting inside, an iron crown on its head and rusted armor fused to its body. This must be it, the evil controlling the dead!
They do not have much time or choices. Skeleton are marching towards them and closing in. They go for a plan. Bragol will enter one door, walking towards it and keeping it occupied. Mabs will follow, refusing to let him go alone.
The other two will charge from the sides.
Bragol’s ace up the sleeve is a spell, it will also signal the attack.
He throws the doors open and march in: "I command you to leave this place, foul shadow of Angmar. Begone, you creature of the dark or else the power of the light will destory you!
The monster laughs and Bragol let his spell loose and…it fails! Mabs falls to the ground, gripped by the same fear the two of them felt before.
Suddenly they are in a bad spot!
This is the moment. Hunter launches a burning oilskin at the fiend, and suddenly it is ablaze! Bearaborn does not reach it in time, and it looks as if Bragol is going to be crushed beneath the thing’s enourmous mace. But calling on his mystical powers, Bragol jumps all the way to the beams in the ceeling, fifty feet up, thus avoiding the attack. Mabs is not as lucky. The undead hammers her with his mace, her arm taking the impact, breaking it like a twig. Bragol screams in defiance; it is like someone has run a sword through him, his blood turning to ice! Seeing Mabs taking such a punishment, knowing that it is his fault, that it is he who have put her in this danger, is more than he can bear.
And then Beoraborn is on the skeletal Lord. With one mighty blow he crushes the shield arm of the fiend clear off its body. Apparently unheeding, the wraith respomds, and smashes the Beoraborn to the ground, stunning the mighty fighter. At last Hunter reaches the fiend, brandishing a burning blade, soaked in oil, and with one fell swoop his blade cleaves the skeleton’s skull in twain! Incredibly, it is not enough to fell it, and even as Hunter unbalances the monster and spins it round, sending bits of splintered bone flying, the eight foot monster is far from stopping. Its mace lifts in a menacing move, as if daring its assailants, and the prone Beoraborn’s eyes widens as he prepares to meet his end. Hunter continues his frantic attack, fearing for his companion’s life.
But Bragol fears not. He chooses the only course of action he can think of to stop the monster. He loosens his grip on the beam and let himself fall towards the ground.
The impact shatters the undead, crushing it under the weight of the Elf. But Bragol does not escape undamaged. His ribs breaks instantly, the wind knocked out of him and his entire body set afire with pain. But he is lucky. He is alive!
Mabs crawls over to him, her voice filled with concern, astonishment and perhaps a mixture of gratitude and anger over the sacrifice Bragol just made: “That was the stupidest thing I have ever seen! Are you all right?” Bragol can but growl in pain as a reply.
Having stabilized the two, Hunter and Beoraborn finally have a chance to look around the ancient temple. There is pride and sorrow in Hunter’s eyes; pride for what his people has achieved, sorrow for what has befallen it. But they are far from safe: although it would appear that destroying the evil Skeleton Lord has left its troops in disarray, they still seem to be coming for the only source of life in the citadel: them!
Quickly, they barricade the doors, and add fuel to the still burning skeleton, to reduce it to ashes. They destroy most of the defilation to the Temple, and Beoraborn searches in vain for a secret passage out: it seems the only entrances to the Temple are the three doors they already are familiar with.
Hunter turns to the crusader leaning on his sword at the altar. He moves over, credulous as to what he might find, but it does not appear to be any evil around the crumbling shape, so perfectly intact in its praying position. As Hunter touches the hilt of the sword, he once again experiences the sensation of attuning with an object. In his trance he sees the Northman, a truly righteous man, travelling Eriador fighting evil. He sees the spirit of the fallen man, who bequeaths upon him to find his true successor, someone who is worthy to take up his mighty Greatsword and carry on the fight. Hunter vows to do so, and together he and Beoraborn lay the man to rest in one of the old crypts. Hunter speaks words over him, and can almost feel his soul laying to rest.
Then they help their companions out to the best of their abilities, leaving behind them the tainted, evil city.
Outside the city, they meet Wolf’s Bane and a young apprentice. They join their campfire, and share news of what has been transpiring. As darkness descends, a small beacon of hope is stirring in the form of a campfire, and the combined efforts of a few, brave companions.
Vale of Brethil:
Baran and Fleetfoot rode out with 60 lances and many others to purge orc threat. The mine was located and an attack was initiated on the fort the orcs had built.
The tactic of making a quick frontal surprise attack proved to be disastrous, as the gate was supposed to be opened by a troll.
Finally, they had to make a controlled withdrawal, to obtain reinforcements and rescue the wounded lances. Baran traveled along with a handful of men back to the mine to try to burn
down parts of the fort with lamp oil and caravan trailers parked outside the fort. This they succeed in and after the flames have done their storm the fort while crossing my fingers that
reinforcements are just around the corner.
“Need to figure something out! Need a plan, and it cant come fast enough. Think, THINK!”
A mess of thought spin around in Jacks head whilst he runs down the stair heading down to the mine. He can hear the slamming on the gate outside, and the screams of soldiers being wounded in battle. He needs to help them. Help his friend, who is leading the assault. The archers in the tower is his current mission. Somehow, find a way to neutralize them. But there are four orcs and two goblin in the top of that tower, and he is not about to take em all on alone. But something must be done quickly, or this whole operation may turn into a disastrous failure. While he’s looking for something… no, anything, that can be of help, his thoughts fall on Minas Brethil, and the work they are doing there. a part of him misses the peace there, but another part, possibly the biggest, has longed for the tension of battle. No oil barrels to burn, but he’s brought some himself. not huge amounts, but more than enough to start a fire in the tower, just beneath the floor on the top, where the archers are standing. He lits it, just by the hole leading downstairs. The fire ignites fast, and the orcs and goblins panic instantly. The first screaming figure appears by the laddertop. One of the orcs is climbing down the long ladder to escape the rising fires above. The goblin suddenly feels screaming pain in his side. confused he lets go of the ladder, and as he falls, squeeking, he meets the eyes of a hobbit, hiding in the dark parts of the ladder, with a bloody knife in his hand. Jack thinks to himself; One down… plan is actually working. just five more to go… for now.