As you might have noticed, I’m making an effort to catch up with session write-ups for our ongoing The One Ring: Adventures Over the Edge of the Wild campaign. Real life has a habit of getting in the way, so I’m making them a bit shorter, in the hopes that it will help me keep on top of them.
In this write-up of our second ‘reboot’ session, from back in June, Malaric, Grunehild and Grimald, befriend the Northmen of Hirtherd and help them repair their village defences.
The story loosely continues the first part of Studio 9’s Caran Gaur campaign (published in the free French RPG Magazine Le Maraudeur No. 8).
*** SPOILERS – CARAN GAUR CAMPAIGN FROM LE MARAUDEUR MAGAZINE ***
Tales from Rhovanion – Part 2
The village of Hirtherd was typical of Northmen settlements throughout the Wilderlands. It consisted of a round fenced enclosure with a central hall, a dozen or so dwellings and pens for goats and sheep. As the company approached, a group of Northmen assembled at the gates to meet them. In those times it was normal to treat strangers with caution.
Suddenly a terrible howl came from the hills and the Red Warg could be seen silhouetted on the ridge overlooking the village. An answering howl came from another direction, followed by another and another. Soon Wild Wolves could be heard howling throughout the hills.
The Northmen in the village grew troubled and their head-man, Brohar, marched purposefully out to meet the company. He ignored the newcomers and angrily confronted the goatherd, Frael, demanding to know why his instructions, to stay out of the mountain pastures, had been ignored. “You have brought the beast’s wrath down upon us all,” he reprimanded.
“The creature is evil. It has to be slain,” Frael insisted.
“You are a fool,” Brohar countered. “Frea was my sister and I grieve for her also, but there are others to think of; your children, the rest of the village. We have a responsibility. The path you follow will lead only to our doom and destruction.”
Once he had finished with Frael, Brohar turned to the three travellers. “Who are these strangers? And why do they come here in these troubling times?”
The girl, Ailla, spoke up for them, recounting the earlier rescue from the Wolves, but Brohar remained unconvinced of their trustworthiness and was wary of admitting them to the village. It was only when Malaric chastised the head-man for his poor hospitality that Brohar relented and reluctantly agreed they could stay.
Grimald was taken to the village healer, a woman named Amalina, who cleaned and redressed his wound. He learned from her that the Northmen had founded the village a couple of years earlier, having migrated west from the eaves of Mirkwood in the wake of the Battle of Five Armies. Frael had brought two wolfhounds with him at that time, which was the first Amalina knew of the animals. The other dog had been slain in the same attack in which Frael’s wife, Frea, had been killed. Now the Wild Wolves terrorised the mountain pastures. Only Frael would go up there. The wolves had driven everyone else away.
Meanwhile Malaric and Grunehild were given food and drink in the household of Rodegar and Ishild. Malaric went to sleep early, but Grunehild stayed up and talked with their hosts for a while. Later, when Grimald joined them, Rodegar securely bolted the door and soon after they all went to sleep.
[COMMENTARY: Overnight recovery brings them up to: GRUNEHILD 29 of 29 END; MALARIC 19 of 29 END; GRIMALD 8 of 24 END + Wounded + Weary.]
The next morning, Malaric and Grunehild got up and inspected the village defences. They had been quick to notice that work was needed if the village was to withstand an attack.
Still feeling his wound, Grimald rested while Malaric and Grunehild went out to a nearby copse of trees and started cutting wood. After a while Mundovald, one of the Northmen, approached them and asked them what they were doing.
“Reinforcing your defences,” Malaric responded as he hacked at a tree trunk. “They are in need of repair.”
“Does Brohar know you are doing this?” Mundovald questioned.
Malaric stopped and sized the Woodman up. Ignoring the question, he challenged, “You seem to have time on your hands. Why don’t you do something useful and give us a hand? Are you any good at woodwork?”
Soon after, Brohar, his eldest son Bronach and a couple of other Woodmen marched out to where Malaric, Grunehild and Mundovald were working.
“What’s going on here?” Brohar demanded.
Malaric wiped the sweat from his brow. “We’re cutting wood to patch up your defences,” he said.
“And what business is that of yours?”
“None,” Malaric acknowledged. “But I’ve got nothing better to do today and it seemed like a friendly way to pay you back for your hospitality. If it’s a problem, I could always not bother.”
Brohar considered for a moment and then asked, “What are you proposing to do exactly?”
“Well, if you want to survive an attack, we need to block the channels where the stream runs under the fence, the front gate needs reinforcing and there are some sections of the enclosure that need repair. If we’ve got time, I’d also suggest, adding a row of stakes around the fence.”
Brohar nodded. “You have a rough and discourteous way about you Malaric of the Beornings but what you say makes a lot of sense,” he conceded. “Very well, let us do what you suggest.”
Word quickly spread and soon all of the village were helping with the defences. They worked hard and, with everyone contributing, spirits noticeably lifted.
[COMMENTARY: A series of extended tests were completed.]
By the end of the day, much of the planned work had been finished and everyone gathered in the central hall to eat and drink together. Afterward the Fellowship spent another night in the household of Rodegar and Ishild.
[COMMENTARY: Overnight recovery brought them up to: GRUNEHILD 29 of 29 END; MALARIC 26 of 29 END; GRIMALD 10 of 24 END + Wounded + Weary.]
The next morning they began work on placing stakes around the fence.
Mid-morning, work was interrupted when a badly injured Northman was spotted staggering towards the gates. Villagers rushed out to aid him and brought him inside, where Grimald acted quickly, keeping him alive until Amalina the Healer could reach him.
Villagers recognised the man as the head of a family who lived in a homestead in the next valley. It appeared that they had been attacked by Goblins.
Much debate ensued. Some of the villagers wanted to go and see if they could help the family but many, including Brohar, felt it was too great a risk. “Let us not be hasty. We are under threat of attack ourselves and they are probably dead already. We need everyone here to defend the village.”
At first Malaric agreed that rescue was unlikely, but Grimald maintained that there was a good chance they could still catch the Goblins because they were unlikely to travel far in daylight.
In the end a small group was assembled. Mundovald and Raganhildis joined Malaric, Grunehild and Grimald because they knew the family and could act as guides. And Rodegar, their host of the last couple of nights, volunteered because he and Ishild believed that a rescue should be attempted.
The six headed off into the hills and reached the homestead by mid afternoon. As expected, it had been attacked and ransacked, and the Goblins and the family were gone but, after a quick search, Grimald found tracks leading away westward towards the mountains. It appeared the group consisted of an Orc, several Goblins and five human captives.
They pushed on quickly, following the tracks into the hills. Hoping they could catch up before nightfall.
The afternoon wore on, but eventually they reached a rock outcrop where an overhang provided shelter from the sun. They spotted a couple of Goblin sentries, a good sign that they had found what they were looking for.
[END OF SESSION STATUS:
MALARIC – Hope: 10 of 13, Shadow: 0, Endurance: 26 of 29END, Fatigue: 18 (incl. 0 Journey Fatigue);
GRUNEHILD – Hope: 13 of 13, Shadow: 0, Endurance: 29 of 29END, Fatigue: 18 (incl. 0 Journey Fatigue);
GRIMALD – Hope: 9 of 14, Shadow: 0, Endurance: 10 of 24END + Weary + Wounded, Fatigue: 14 (incl. 0 Journey Fatigue).]