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CHAPTER 12: Troubles from Home

Started by tomcat, Jan 19, 2014, 05:26 PM

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tomcat

Jan 19, 2014, 05:26 PM Last Edit: Apr 16, 2014, 08:30 PM by tomcat
Prologue

The gray rider pushed his horse on in haste, mindless of any potential harm to himself or the beast he rode upon. He had been riding now for two days without stop and his horse was keeping on by his will alone. The shadows pursued. He needed aid. He needed heroes with brave hearts. He would need to once more employ the ones who had come through lo just two years past.

As they came into a clearing of the woods a small campfire burned. Mithrandir pulled back on the reins and yanked his mount to a halt, but it was too much. The beast keeled over and they both crashed to the ground. The man that had witnessed the wizard's fall stood with his mouth agape. His name was Madoc and he was of Cardolan - Tharbad to be precise - and he had wandered north to seek lands that were still... alive. His own people having suffered at the hands of the folk of Angmar and Rhudaur, along with orcs, and finally, the sickness that had swept up from the south two years past and taken many lives of men, women and children.

"Are you going to help me up or just stand there with your mouth hanging?" croaked the old man that was pinned under his panting steed.

Almost a year and a half had passed since the winter of Durgil's arrest. In that time, many changes had occurred including the wedding of Durgil and Gléowyn - the sister of Fengel, woman of the Éothraim folk - and also Dirnhael and Ioreth in the spring of the new year, 1638 of the Third Age. For both Dúnedain, it was a time to rest, heal and to take on a life of normalcy. Both had traveled far the years prior with tasks for family, friend and king, but now they were able to enjoy their homes and their land.

For Durgil, the time had seen a great revival of his folk in Dorthad and a bountiful season for crops. The demise of Methilir and the conveyance of his lands, by King Argeleb, to Dirnhael and Ioreth allowed for a peaceful exchange of goods and equipment, which then allowed for both houses to prosper. Dirnhael had been land-granted a smaller claim upon his knighting, but soon after the king requested he take up position within the house of Methilir. Both Ioreth and Dirnhael were hesitant to accept, but knew that it would secure the position of Dorthad if the barony was strengthened. Dirnhael knew that that was the reason for the king's request and so acquiesced to his wishes.

Now the summer breeze blew softly across his lands causing his fields to shimmer with alternate shades of green under the sunlight. Dirnhael smiled to himself. He had at last found contentment.




:ooc: Welcome back to Middle-earth! I am going to be making some posts over the next day of our new chapter - some of this stuff I will be capturing from our original Chapter 12 - the rest of it will be all new.
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦♦○] Dmg 10/12  |  Edge 8  |  Injury 16/18
Nimronyn [Sindarin Pale gleam] superior keen, superior grievous longsword - orc bane
Foe-slaying - when attacking a bane creature, reduce Edge of weapon by value of bearer's Valour

Shadow bane [when in Forward stance, add 1 success die to each attack]
Skirmisher [if carried encumbrance is 12 or less, increase Parry by +3 when in close combat stance]

tomcat

Madoc's peace by his campfire was broken as a man - and an old one at that - crashed through the tree line on horseback only to fall to the ground. The rogue quickly stood, one hand reflexively going to his sword hilt, but the old man's words spurred him to movement.

"What in the name of all that is holy were you doing, galloping through the woods at night?" Madoc asked as he grabbed the horse's reigns and tried to urge it up to its feet. "Were you trying to kill yourself, old man? In any case, you nearly startled me out of my skin!"

The most Madoc was able to do was draw the horse up to where it lay on its stomach, but it was enough to free the old man's leg. Once done, the panting animal rolled back down onto its side. Mithrandir lay his hand on its neck and whispered in a language that Madoc had only heard in old tales told by travelers that passed through Tharbad and would leave his mind filled with images of legends. The horse seemed to respond to both word and touch and relaxed more, its panting subsiding if only a little.

The old man looked at the rogue, sizing him up, "Beware when you ask another's errand, you may find it falling in your own hands." Madoc could feel that there was something more about the grey-bearded wanderer, although he could not put his finger on it. More that he felt that the old man's presence was subdued. The gruff response did not seem to cause him much consternation, in fact, he took the rebuke as advice.

"But 'nothing's lost by asking,' as my mum used to say," Madoc replied to the stranger's advice. He felt himself begin to smile a bit. He rather liked the old man.

"Wisdom in a mother's words," smiled the old man. Mithrandir continued, "Since you appear to still be within your skin, perhaps you could spare a cup of drink for an old man and a bit of food?" While he talked, the wizard perused Madoc's camp taking everything in that the rogue had for himself.

The old man's eyes roving over his camp stoked suspicion in Madoc and he inserted himself between the stranger and his pack, which contained all of his belongings that were not on his person, aside from the remaining rabbit meat that hung on a spit over the small fire. He was beginning to like the old man, but not yet well enough to drop his natural suspicion. Madoc grunted, "Aye, there's some rabbit left over the fire, and there's a small stream a few yards that way." He paused for a moment and then added, "If we are to share a camp, even for a bit, we'd best introduce ourselves. I'm called Madoc. What can I call you?"

With long strides, the old man walked over to the small fire, "You may call me Gandalf, Sir Madoc, and I thank you for your hospitality."

Gandalf sat down and relieved himself of a few items, including laying a long gnarled staff beside him, but he made no effort to partake any of Madoc's food. The rogue looked at his guest, studying him from top to bottom. Gandalf was aged by seeming countless winters, but Madoc had no idea how old he was. The old eyes gleamed with wisdom, but there was a hint of weariness. His eyebrows were thick and met the brim of the high, pointed hat. They both turned to see the horse rise to its stomach and then climb back to its feet. "Ah, good," smiled Gandalf. "I feared I had ridden him to his last, which was never my intent. So... what business keeps you out beyond the walls of any normal settlement? Are you a hunter?"
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦♦○] Dmg 10/12  |  Edge 8  |  Injury 16/18
Nimronyn [Sindarin Pale gleam] superior keen, superior grievous longsword - orc bane
Foe-slaying - when attacking a bane creature, reduce Edge of weapon by value of bearer's Valour

Shadow bane [when in Forward stance, add 1 success die to each attack]
Skirmisher [if carried encumbrance is 12 or less, increase Parry by +3 when in close combat stance]

tomcat

"Well, Sir Gandalf, one might ask the same of you - as I already have," Madoc replied lightly. "But since you ask, aye, it could be said that I am a hunter, after a sort; though I've done as much hunting of orcs and hillmen as of late as game. I'm on my way north, to the lands where a king still rules. I'm hoping to find a living there, and perhaps help, from those who are still capable of giving it, for those who still survive in Cardolan." He idly fingered the hilt of his sword for a moment and then spoke. "So, what is it that drives you to ride wildly through the woods at night, Gandalf? It's obvious, sir, that you're not on an idle errand."

Gandalf smiled as he took from a deep pocket on his grey cloak a long stemmed pipe and filled it with tobacco weed from a small pouch. Taking a burning stick from the fire and clenching the stem in his teeth, he puffed three times and then blew the most perfect of smoke rings. "Have you tried this? T'is a good pipeweed from the East Farthing in the Shire? Or have you not ventured that far north yet?" The wizard did not wait for Madoc to finish, knowing the answers to his own questions. "Well fortune favors us both, then Madoc, for I race through the night in search of," he pointed at the man, "you."

The man of Cardolan took on a puzzled look, but Gandalf continued, "I have ridden far o'er the last three days and I am in need of your aid. I need you to take word to the north, in Arthedain, to a man named Dirnhael. He is a friend of mine, you might say, and he will know of what these words mean. My fortune in finding you allows me to take another path to the south, where I have urgent business of another kind." The wizard took a scroll from his cloak and his gaze seemed to pierce right through Madoc. "Can you do this for me?" he asked - his voice now a whisper that seemed strained.

Madoc hesitated. He looked away from the old man for a moment and then returned his gaze. Gandalf seemed deadly serious. Madoc shrugged, "I am going that way. Why not?" He paused for a moment and then added, "Would there happen to be any money in it for me? Not to be rude, but I could dearly use it."

A look crossed Gandalf's face - not of disappointment but resignation to the ways of men. He sighed, "Aye, there could well be a king's ransom in store should you take up this task."

Suddenly the air went still and Gandalf's horse's ears went flat to its head. It whickered nervously. The air went cold even though both men stood by a fire. A creeping dread began to fill Madoc's heart and the rogue felt a terrible urge to run. Something was now in the woods around them - and it wasn't alone.

"Eh?" Gandalf stood and picked up his staff. Madoc could now see shadows in the darker night around them - unwholesome and cruel were the feelings that seemed to exude from the terrible shapes. "Quickly! Take my horse! Ride now for Fornost and from there to Dorthad!"

Madoc gave an incredulous look at the old man - why would he want him to leave him alone, now, and with no horse? Perceiving his look, Gandalf answered grimly, "These foes are beyond you, my friend... flee now and carry forth the message while you can."

A shadow moved in the flickering campfire light and now hovered just outside of the ring by a tree. To Madoc, Gandalf seemed to rise up and grow in stature and power. He called to the horse, "Teli roch! Achas al-dae!One more journey you must make."

The animal, though terrified, hurried over to the wizard and stood at the ready. "Mount my horse and go!"

Madoc stared in horror at the shadows encroaching on the camp, but Gandalf's cry broke him out of his terror. The rogue hurriedly tucked the message into his tunic and grabbed his bag and bow as he jumped onto the horse. "Farewell, Gandalf!" he cried and spurred the horse to a run.
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦♦○] Dmg 10/12  |  Edge 8  |  Injury 16/18
Nimronyn [Sindarin Pale gleam] superior keen, superior grievous longsword - orc bane
Foe-slaying - when attacking a bane creature, reduce Edge of weapon by value of bearer's Valour

Shadow bane [when in Forward stance, add 1 success die to each attack]
Skirmisher [if carried encumbrance is 12 or less, increase Parry by +3 when in close combat stance]