The companions left the North Downs and ventured across the plains of Rhudaur. Their passage was hampered by the onset of snow, earlier than any could remember. At camp on the 9th night of their journey, the companions heard the howling of wolves in the distance to the north. They prepared for the worst, but the night passed without event.
The following evening, Kaine was visited by a dream of a beautiful golden-haired elf maiden, who called him by his birth-name, Aethelmare. She beckoned him, and it seemed to him as though she approached, until he realized that it was he who approached her, and that he could not control himself. He felt as if he knew her–perhaps a figure from his missing years (the Gondorian noble having a period of years with no memory of what had happened to him, save horrible scars on his body). As he approached closer, he could hear her say “a place has been prepared for you, at my side.” Fear gripped his heart as a long-lost trace of memory told him that he was terrified of this elven woman. He awoke with a scream, and soon told the companions of his dream.
That day, the travellers came upon the corpses of half a dozen orcs and their warg mounts, riddled with arrows. The arrows appeared to be of Dunedain make. This was confirmed by the next day, when the companions encountered a group of Rangers, led by their captain, Tarthalion. The northmen told them of recent incursions by orc scouting parties sweeping down from the north, all beneath the banner of a blood drop on a snow-white field. Tarthalion said that it seemed that the orcs of Mount Gundabad had been organized and brought into a larger force. Kaine, thinking of his dream, asked the Rangers about any Elven women that might be involved. Tarthalion said that he had seen nothing, but that one of the orc captives that his Rangers had questioned had spoken of his “Dark Queen, who burns as bright as the sun.” He originally had thought the creature mad with pain.
Tarthalion theorized that the larger body would be moving against Annuminas, and, once the companions revealed the fate that had befallen the King and Queen,he said that his Rangers would travel west, to offer their service to Prince Eldarion…for the Ranger captain feared that the actions against Elessar and Arwen proved that the Northern Capital was under direct threat. The parties said their farewells, and parted ways.
The following night, the companions were again alerted by the sounds of howling. This time, a scouting party of warg-riders charged into their midst. Malinear attempted to use the power of the sword Anarmacil to strike the foul creatures with the Flame of Anor, but the spell took more power than she could muster and she nearly fell from the strain. The companions fought bravely, as they were set upon by the snapping jaws of the wargs and the spears and swords of the riders. The minstrel Aerlaer was seized by the slavering jaws of a warg, and she cut the beast’s throat with a dagger, even as she nearly died from the wound. Malinear shook off the weariness that gripped her, and leapt to the defense of her friend, killing the orc who was prepared to slaughter the defenseless minstrel. Zaka the Dwarf grew angry as Beornia of Rohan finished off a warg that Zaka had been fighting. “THAT ONE WAS MINE!” he roared, chasing the Rohirric maiden across the field of battle, so that he could “steal” one of her kills. One of the orcs cut his own throat rather than be captured, robbing Zaka of another victory, but the dwarf assuaged his bruised honor by hurling his hammer across the length of the battlefield to decimate the sole remaining orc, who had been facing Kaine.
The battle had cost the companions dearly. Nearly everone was hurt…none, however, worse than Aerlaer, who lay at death’s very door. Malinear practiced her healing arts upon the companions, wielding the knowledge of the elves, and the leaves of Athelas, and her efforts resulted in the miraculous recouperation of not only Aerlaer, but everyone else as well. However, the companions had been forced to stop and heal, losing days of vital time.
The journey continued. Kaine was visited again by a dream of the elven woman. Again, he was terrified–and this time, she offered him his heart’s desire: “Imagine it,” she said, “Osgiliath restored, and taking its rightful place as capital of the southern realms, with you upon the throne. Your hand, in the south. My hand, in the north.” As she reached her hand towards him, and his hand to hers, he awoke from the dream, and again told his companions. Aerlaer said that she knew of a rumor, nothing more, of a group of elves known as the Lossildil, or snow-elves, who supposedly thrived in the wastes beyond Forochel, but none had ever been seen or discovered. Beside that, as the companions all knew, no elf had ever fallen, entering the service of the Shadow. Such a thing was impossible…and yet, none were comforted by this knowledge.
As the companions approached the Ettenmoors, they encountered a group of three Olog-hai. Battle was immediately joined, with Malinear mustering enough strength to strike the leader with the Flame of Anor. To the horror of the companions, however, the Black Troll stood and cast a spell in return, savaging Malinear with the power of the Flame of Udun. They were faced with a Troll of wicked intellect, capable of wielding the power of fell sorcery! The Troll-sorcerer next caused Kaine’s sword–the sword of his father–to dissipate into smoke. With a guttural cry of anguish, the Gondorian drew a short sword and charged the creature. The companions fought bravely, finally destroying the Olog-hai–with Kaine delivering the coup de grace against the foul creature who had destroyed his father’s sword.
The Troll-captain was carrying a sheepskin map of the area, which marked not only the dragon’s lair in the Ettenmoors, but also marked two locations with the blood-and-snow banner: The orc nest of Mount Gundabad, and, further to the north, the citadel of Carn Dûm–the former capital of Angmar, the early Third-age kingdom ruled by the Witch King–the Lord of the Nazgul.
No game next week, due to familial obligations!