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CHAPTER 9: The Council of the North

Started by tomcat, Jan 01, 2020, 07:55 pm

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tomcat

Jan 01, 2020, 07:55 pm Last Edit: Jan 01, 2020, 08:00 pm by tomcat
A sharp wind blew through the town. The few structures that stood trembled at the gusts, while tents and yurts flapped with a vigor.

Three men moved quickly in the gloom towards the largest building that resembled a pillared temple. Before its gates stood two hulking shapes, like trolls they were, but a keener wit was in their eyes. They watched as the men passed in through the door, a faint glow of fire flickered across the walls. A shadow of an iron gibbet cast across the walls inside, swinging in the wind. The shape of a body was constricted within.

Now inside the temple, a fear caused the trio to pause. They had crossed the threshold into a darker place with a Shadow greater still. Mustering their courage they approached the iron cage. Standing next to it was another guard, an orc strong and proud. This was Ghor the Despoiler who had come here from the Mountains of Shadow and none would rival him. He was at the height of his strength, with a fearful iron helm bearing the sign of the Red Eye.

A stuttered voice, "We have come with news."

"He is aware of your presence. Speak, he will listen," replied the orc in the tongue of Men.

"It is done, my Lord," said the man that stood in the center of the group. His voice bore a strange accent not spoken by the Men of the Vale.

She is dead? came a whispered reply. Within the gibbet, the broken corpse's eyes became alight with an eerie green.

"Yes, Master, as was ordered. Still, we lost many in the retribution that came from those folk."

And the last of them?

"He is in place. He was taken and recruited by the Messenger of Mordor and so given his instruction. All to the will of the Lord of Iron."

There was a hiss of... disdain? The thing in the gibbet did not move, but all were aware of an apparent resentment. Still, a feeling of satisfaction filled the chamber.

Let the Bear eat his own. We shall continue to create strife between them all. Never shall they trust and unite and thus each shall be weak on their own. We shall await our next act to bear fruit.

"What is our task now?"

Go north. Enter the bounds of the folk of Viglund. There you shall incite the fervor for their need for revenge.
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦○○] Dmg 9/11  |  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

:ooc: I will follow up with more tomorrow. Feel free to start any narrative that you want that pertains to the time spent since the Field of Heroes.
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦○○] Dmg 9/11  |  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]

Eclecticon

The stars turn in the heavens, the days change their names and the seasons flow one into the next, and stone by well-laid stone the Forest Road lengthens, until by the middle of Autumn it girds the breadth of Mirkwood from one edge to the other.  Along with a number of other Men, younger sons seeking their fortune and rootless wanderers who have long since left their kinfolk behind them, Arbogast and his family follow its steady progress eastward.  At last, they pass across the bridge spanning the narrow, half-stagnant channel that separates Mirkwood proper from the Long Marshes.  There, at the very end of the Road, stands the Eastfort, its structure almost the twin of that which the Fellowship of the Helm held against the inhuman masters of Mirkwood years ago.  A great brazier stands atop its roof, to mark its presence, and a sturdy wooden pier juts out into a deeper waterway, ready to receive the trading boats that may now make their way from north and south. 

But for a few Dwarves, already retained by Bófri and Rorin, the folk do not tarry there, but instead find passage north in the now-empty hold of a boat which once carried grain and ale to the hungry workers.  The boatmen work quickly and skilfully to pilot the boat out of the marshes and on to the Long Lake, and despite having seen the vales of the Anduin Arbogast finds that he can scarcely believe the breadth of the country that now surrounds them.  The October air is fresh in his lungs, and that of his wife and children, after months spent in the stillness under the trees, and so clear that they can see the Lonely Mountain rise, impossibly far in the distance. 

Any apprehension that the Fire-watcher and his family may have had about leaving their home for an uncertain future in a new country is swiftly quashed by the overwhelming novelty of Esgaroth.  Rising from innumerable piles driven deep into the lake-bed, it is as if they have exchanged a life beneath the trees for one lived atop them.  Not does the shock of the new end there, for the sheer size of the town outstrips anything Arbogast had imagined.  He knows not how many souls, both residents and travellers, may dwell within, but fancies that it must be in the thousands.  He wonders whether it is larger even than the great cities of the southern lands, of which he has heard Esgalwen tell tales. 

He soon realises, however, that no matter how open the gates of the town may be, it's heart is closing off.  His ears mark the speech of Woodmen from the Sunstead mingling with the northern tongue of Dale, and even the language of Men from places so far removed that he cannot guess their names.  But his eyes see each man's guarded looks at those he passes along his way.  Not does he fail to mark the fact that the more richly dressed and lordly-seeming of the townsfolk go about their business in the company of armed bodyguards.

Still, it appears that children here are the same as children anywhere in the world, and Lafwyne and Cyffa are invited suddenly, and apparently wordlessly, to join a racing and hiding game from which it takes nigh an hour to extract them, and then only with the promise of food.  This proves difficult to fulfil, however, for the Men of Mirkwood know little of the ways of trading folk, not have they aught to sell that interests the Men of the Lake.  The Fire-watcher is fortunate enough to have coin in his purse enough to buy a dry pallet and hit broth at the hospital until he finds work as a guard at the house of Sigvald the cloth-trader, whose young son is among the children who first drew his daughters from his side, and who greets them in the manner of a lifelong friend.

Thereafter, he and his family have lodgings in a corner of Sigvald's warehouse, and are fed from his kitchen.  Many who came to Esgaroth with them, though, are not so fortunate, and Arbogast finds himself ashamed to run off two men, visibly hungry and desperate, when they come being at the door of his new master.

Though it may lie less heavily, he thinks, the Shadow is too be found even in this place.  And perhaps the more dangerous for its invisibility.
Reason is a tool.  Try to remember where you left it.  - John Clarke

The Warden's Axe: :dmg: 5/7, Edge 9, Injury 18/20
Woodcrafty - In wooded areas, Parry is based on favoured Wits score.
Character sheet

tomcat

Jan 06, 2020, 05:17 pm #3 Last Edit: Jan 07, 2020, 08:07 am by tomcat
October was quickly passing and Esgaroth was bustling. The merchant squares were thick with peddlers that brought in wares and crops from the surrounding lands. Wealthy men from Dale bid on corn, wheat, apples, and fish, even as granaries were filled for the season. Animals were brought in to be butchered and cleaned, and then salted and cured. Wines from Dorwinion were also on display, as was exotic jewelry from the east made with polished blue and white stones and other mysterious beads. Gold and silver from the mountain also shifted back and forth from buyers to sellers and back again.

Arbogast was not certain if Lindwine liked their new, temporary home, but he was certain the children did. The girls marveled at the sites of so many people from so many strange places. Clothing and hats were worn like they had never seen and men wore strange cut beards, while women veiled their faces. They laughed and played with the other children as his wife watched in silence, a distant smile on her face. The Fire-watcher knew that he would need make this journey short.

Still, the family was pleased that they were welcomed as they were. Arbogast was sure that a small bit of that came with the fame of his deeds. He was not aware that word had traveled so far, but it had. Tales of he and his companions were spoken around hearths in Dale, Erebor, and Esgaroth of how the Fellowship of the Helm had defeated the Beast of the Wood and saved children from the Slavers of the Northern Vale - and other things he did not know he did. The notoriety came, he was certain, from Dale and the efforts of Esgalwen, who he knew now resided there. It brought them much favour, but not food and shelter - and so he worked.

He met many new people - some he called friends: Old Tobe the smith; Fen and his two sons who fished the northern shores; Bosley, a cooper of some renown; Harrim, a swarthy man from the east that traded in the square; and his current benefactor, Sigvald the cloth-trader. They were good people, though foreign and different from the simple Woodmen families to the south.

The weather had been nice for the early part of the month, but a cold hand of winter reached down out of the North and blanketed the land. Many of the fall festivals were cut short, as people were unable, or unwilling to be outside in the deep cold that seemed to not want to release its hold. Arbogast believed, too, that many were holding off and waiting for the upcoming Dragontide - the celebration of the fall of Smaug that would begin on the first day of November and last for three days.

Standing on a dock where a burning brazier warmed his hands, Arbogast stood his post while Fen idled alongside. A gloom could be heard in the fisherman's words.

"The shores are already freezing over. Makes it hard to drop our nets, or spear those we see. Sure, we can bore holes for ice-fishing, but I hoped it would be later in the season 'fore I had to do that."

Arbogast nodded. He knew the difficulties of fishing the Black Tarn when ice covered all.

"I even hear that some shepherds are losing a head or two with the night freezes. The flocks cling together for warmth, but not all make it. Some speak of darker things."

That piqued the Fire-watcher's interest, "Other things?"

Fen nodded, "Yea... some say there is a band of goblins that raid from the south marshes. Others say that the Marsh-Ogres are prowling. I think it's the Marsh Hags, meself. Those are some nasty critters and they mostly just stay in the lake for fish, but I have heard that they will come ashore when there's need."

The two men pulled their furs tight to themselves. Arbogast wondered why the fisherman was standing out in the cold with him. He had no need, save to spin his yarns and other gossip. The Woodman rubbed his hands over the fire and then cupped them and blew hot breath onto his fingers.

"Fen, why don't you go home and be warm? Surely your woman waits for you?"

The fisherman slowly shook his head, "Nah... she's probably just mending her dresses and spinnin' tales. No need for that."

Arbogast cocked an eye at the man, but then his attention was grabbed by a large shape walking down the dock towards him - the early winter dusk not providing ample light to see. The shape resolved itself into two and the Fire-watcher smiled to see that it was his companions - Grimbeorn and Hathcyn. The two had not left the road project as early as Arbogast had with his family. They must have gotten wind of his new station within the town.

Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦○○] Dmg 9/11  |  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]

Eclecticon

"Hail, Grimbeorn son of Beorn!  Hail, Hathcyn Longspear!"  The broad grin on Arbogast's face belies the formality of his words.  "Well is the hour that you are come to Esgaroth."

Indicating the man by his side, he continues "may I introduce Fen, master fisher of the Long Lake.  Have you lodgings?  My own are small, but warmer than the outside air."
Reason is a tool.  Try to remember where you left it.  - John Clarke

The Warden's Axe: :dmg: 5/7, Edge 9, Injury 18/20
Woodcrafty - In wooded areas, Parry is based on favoured Wits score.
Character sheet

Telcontar

Hathcyn approached with a warm grin and and exaggerated bow legged walk.
"How aptly you are named for here we find you watching fires! Is fire wise on this town made of sticks. I have a fear of falling off, or through, and here you are lighting fires."

He laughed and clapped him on the back and proffered his other with a steaming cup of mulled hot wine.

"What a marvelous and interesting place this is. The wine is delightful, the spices are magnificent. The dwarves must not have a taste for it because all we had from them was malty beer. Hail, Fen of the Lake. There is hot wine for you too, warm your hand, heart and belly all at once." 
T. Gingras

THE GAME MUST GO ON!

Hathcyn
Great Spear
2h :00: 2 :dmg: 9 Edge 9 Injury 16

Eclecticon

Arbogast takes the offered wine and raises his eyebrows mockingly at the Longspear.  "Can it be that the life we have led has left me blind to such common risks as fire in a town made entirely of wood?  Fortunate are we indeed, to have you here!" 

As the men shuffle around the brazier, attempting simultaneously to make room for the newcomers and remain as close as possible to the warmth of the flame, he continues more soberly.  "Fen was speaking of dark things venturing forth from their dens in the lake, and in the marshes to the south.  It would seem that the Shadow stirs in all parts of Middle-Earth." 
Reason is a tool.  Try to remember where you left it.  - John Clarke

The Warden's Axe: :dmg: 5/7, Edge 9, Injury 18/20
Woodcrafty - In wooded areas, Parry is based on favoured Wits score.
Character sheet

Telcontar

"If we run into any sages I shall ask them. Is the shadow following us, or does it just happen to be everywhere we go?"

Hathcyn looked into his cloak and produced some salted and cured meat links. Breaking several off he passed them around the group.

"Well let us take in some of the wonders of this place and learn what we may."
T. Gingras

THE GAME MUST GO ON!

Hathcyn
Great Spear
2h :00: 2 :dmg: 9 Edge 9 Injury 16

GandalfOfBorg

"The fall of the wyrm and the foulness of its carcass will no doubt continue to bring gloom to this land for many years," said Grimbeorn gruffly.  "The lesser creatures of filth are beckoned to it like moths to a flame."

The cold bites deep but it bothers not Grimbeorn like it does of his companions, yet the fire is welcome.  "Aye we having lodgings at inn for the evening.  Tomorrow I present myself to the King of Dale as emissary of my father."

Telcontar

"Dale. Now, that is a place I wish to see. None of this mere feet above the water living. Towers of stone, roads of water, a melding of man and the skill of dwarf. This is a sight I must see."
T. Gingras

THE GAME MUST GO ON!

Hathcyn
Great Spear
2h :00: 2 :dmg: 9 Edge 9 Injury 16

Eclecticon

"Tomorrow," Arbogast exclaims, his surprise clearly evident.  "I had not realised that the council would begin so soon!"  So unready am I, he thinks, with my clothes stained with much travel and my boots worn nearly through. 

He listens only cursorily as Fen and Hathcyn discuss the relative merits of Dale and Lake-town.  But then, so was I clothed when I presented myself to the Elvenking, and to Beorn, and to Caewin in the days when his open-handed generosity was still legendary.  Let the traders and courtiers think what they will of my rustic appearance.  Mine is still the heart of a warrior and a shield of the Free Peoples, and so I will present myself to their lords on behalf of the Woodmen of Black Tarn Hall.

To Grimbeorn, who has likewise remained silent, he says "I pray you, come and call on me before you go to the Council Hall.  I shall make my apologies to my employer and we shall attend the council together." 
Reason is a tool.  Try to remember where you left it.  - John Clarke

The Warden's Axe: :dmg: 5/7, Edge 9, Injury 18/20
Woodcrafty - In wooded areas, Parry is based on favoured Wits score.
Character sheet

GandalfOfBorg

Grimbeorn nods and draws from a wineskin. "Agreed.  Though my thoughts be dark these days, it does seem as though trouble follows regardless of how good a place seems to be.  Please, Fen, continue your interrupted tale."

tomcat

Today at 06:26 am #12 Last Edit: Today at 06:39 am by tomcat
Fen's eyes widened at the sight of those around him - Grimbeorn, son of Beorn! All three names had been rumoured and spoken of in taverns, over anvils, and the likes. The names had become synonymous with heroism and grand adventure. The vale was far away from the town on the lake, but still the exploits of the Company of the Helm had reached her shores - especially due to the slaying of the Beast.

The Lake-man's head went back and forth to each of his fellows, as they spoke. He often tried to interject a word, but he stammered at each try.

Quote from: ArogastIndicating the man by his side, Arbogast continued "may I introduce Fen, master fisher of the Long Lake.  Have you lodgings?  My own are small, but warmer than the outside air."

"Well, ehm, nice to make your acquaintances! Yep - there sure be a nip tonight."

Quote from: Hathcyn"How aptly you are named for here we find you watching fires! Is fire wise on this town made of sticks. I have a fear of falling off, or through, and here you are lighting fires."

He laughed and clapped him on the back and proffered his other with a steaming cup of mulled hot wine.

"What a marvelous and interesting place this is. The wine is delightful, the spices are magnificent. The dwarves must not have a taste for it because all we had from them was malty beer. Hail, Fen of the Lake. There is hot wine for you too, warm your hand, heart and belly all at once."

"Well fire is a dangerous friend in our wooden town, but we does our best to keep it bridled! Still - no better place to quench a flame than over a lake," the Lake-man winked. "In times past, if a building had become engulfed and a loss, we just cut it from the pilings to save the rest."

Fen smiled at the wine and cured meat that was offered. "Don't mind if I do!"

Quote from: Arbogast"Fen was speaking of dark things venturing forth from their dens in the lake, and in the marshes to the south.  It would seem that the Shadow stirs in all parts of Middle-earth."

Quote from: Hathcyn"If we run into any sages I shall ask them. Is the shadow following us, or does it just happen to be everywhere we go?"

The Lake-man nodded at Arbogast, "Never fails when winter bites! The shadows creep longer from their holes."

The other three friends continued on about things that did not directly relate to Fen and so he fell into quiet observation. They spoke of lodgings and councils, and of the city of Dale. That was something Fen could speak about, "Quite beautiful a place, I must say, though I am not all about the stone. My feet prefer the motion of the water over the solid ground. But the labours of Men and Dwarf has been a marvel to see... that is, erm... the few times I get to make the journey north." The Lake-man seemed to deflate at his words, and his small world that he had experienced, compared to these men who have traversed afar.

Grimbeorn could see the man's discomfort and brought the conversation back to the local troubles.

Quote from: Grimbeorn"Agreed.  Though my thoughts be dark these days, it does seem as though trouble follows regardless of how good a place seems to be.  Please, Fen, continue your interrupted tale."

"Well, as I says to Arbogast... the troubles have started with the cold. We suffer the raids of a small band of goblins that reside in the wood. The Master says we just need to be more vigilant, but doesn't offer any of the guard to disburse the warren of yyrks! And if it is not them, then we's deal with the trolls and hags out the marshes! Them's I know is real, as I have seen 'em me-self." The Lake-man's face took on a calculative look, "Was last Spring, maybe? I was re-stitchin' a net in my boat, as I sat just off the south shore near where the marsh fens begin, and out of the morning mists this monster appeared! Three heights of men, he was, if my name's not Fen Marshside! Anyway, he strode between the mudflats, sloshing along as he did, looked out at me, ran a tongue across his cracked lips, and then disappeared in the fog. I can tell you, I immediately set pole to bottom and pushed my boat back towards home. There was nothing gonna make me fish the rest of that day."

What Fen left out of the story was the ridicule he received from his fellow fishermen that said he saw no troll. Good ole Fen tipping back in his boat again, prolly! Hittin' the ale and thinking mudflats move and lick their lips! There had been a great deal of laughter at his expense. Well, he knew these three men before him had seen such things and most assuredly would not refute his telling.

Quote from: undefined"Tomorrow," Arbogast exclaimed, his surprise clearly evident.  "I had not realised that the council would begin so soon!"

Fen interrupted, "No, no, Arbogast! What I understand is the council, called by King Bard, will not be until November's end. They say it will commence on the 25th. We still need get through the Dragontide festival - the celebration of the death of the drake! You have time aplenty."

:ooc: Just a timeline note:

The Dragontide celebration is a three-day festival that begins on the 1st of November to the 3rd. The town and its larger neighbor to the north are very busy through this time with other small festivals and end of season celebrations for crops, flocks, and catches. The only thing different this year is that winter has set in early with late October and it has been pretty bitter. It could be a fluke of nature and disburse soon, or it could be a harbinger for a long, cold winter.

Bard's Council of the North is scheduled to begin on the 25th of November. Grimbeorn could still go there early to announce his arrival to the King and that he will be present in the region for the month.
Narrator: Darkening of Mirkwood | Chronicle of the North | Tempest Rising | To Boldly Go | Welcome to the 501st!
Esgalwen [♦♦♦♦○○] Dmg 9/11  |  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]