The companions set forth from Annúminas, heading east towards the Ettenmoors, the journey expected to take two weeks. Braving the unseasonable cold, they rode along the ancient road between Annúminas and the ruined city of Fornost, which the local folk know called “Deadman Dike”. Wisely, the companions chose to avoid the city, deciding that they would leave the road when it crossed the Brandywine river, and travel towards the northeast, avoiding the ruins.
On the fourth day of the journey, the elves smelled campfires in the distance. That night, they (keeping watch as they needed no sleep) spotted the distant fires with elf-sight. They woke Zaka the Dwarf to keep watch over the remaining companions, and crept silently through the hills northward to investigate. The Dwarf immediately went back to sleep.
The elves spotted an encampment of perhaps a dozen orcs, travelling with what appeared to be two Black Trolls of Mordor. The squad slept beneath a banner bearing an unknown sigl: a snow-white cloth with a single blood-red drop shape. As they moved closer to perceive more details, the Troll on watch appeared to catch their scent, and the elves were forced to retreat back to their own camp. As morning came, they told everyone what they had seen. Kaine, well-versed in military matters, opined that the force was a scouting party from a vastly larger group, and if they were moving south, word needed to be sent back to the Prince at Annúminas. The elves spoke to a kindly hawk, who agreed to carry the message for them.
The companions’ journey bore them northeasterly, into the North Downs, as a cold soaking rainstorm hit. Fearing what might lurk among the Barrows and Downs, the party decided to ride through the night, led by the elves, with horses tethered together. However, midway through the night, they discovered that Beornia of Rohan was missing from her saddle. Investigation revealed what looked to be webbing on the saddle-horn, and so the companions set forth into the pouring tempest to save the Rohirrim maiden.
Their investigations led them to a barrow with an open, ragged hole leading into it. As they approached, they were set upon by a clutch of vile spiders. Battle raged, and when it was over, the companions had slain five of the dark creatures, and rescued Beornia, who was poisoned and wrapped tight in webbing. Malinear used some Athelas to revive her, and the companions searched through the ancient barrow which served as the spiders’ lair. Among the bones of countless past victims, they found many coins (which Zaka and Murk Proudfoot gladly kept), and several items of power: Kaine took a midnight-blue cuirass of mithril plate, emblazoned with the crown-and-stars sigil of the Royal Family of Arnor of the Second Age. Zaka laid claim to Torogrist (“Troll-hammer”), the legendary Troll-bane hammer of Dáin. Malinear took the sword Anarmacil (“Sun-sword”), a flaming blade of the heroes of the Second Age. Lastly, Aerlaer found Elenya, one of the lesser Rings of the Elves…but, given her knowledge that the Dark Lord, in the days when he posed as Annatar, Lord of Gifts, had a hand in the ring’s creation, she placed the ring upon a cord and held it for safekeeping, rather than letting any wear the ring in these uncertain times.
The journey through the North Downs continued, again with the companions resting their horses during the day, and travelling as often as possible, by day and night. On the night of the 6th day of the journey, they were attacked by an Etten, a two-headed variety of Troll, from whom the Ettenmoors are named. The companions felled the creature, the flaming sword and the glowing Troll-bane hammer contributing much to the swiftness of the victory.
Half of the journey has passed. Ahead of the companions lay the plains of Arnor, and beyond them, the Ettenmoors, and the hidden city of Zarak-dum: the lair of Scorba the Wyrm.
…and that’s what Brooke gets for missing a session. :)