Rangers of the North

Faradir's Journal - Freedom from Fetters - Entry One

Dismissed for the winter, I headed back home to see mother and sister and recover from my wounds. It was good to be home. I spent much time with my sister, teaching her to hunt stag, and helping around the farm. But still, I felt restless, and my dreams at night were often filled with battle, death, and darker things. Secretly I was glad to leave for Barad Naith when the time came.

We set out with Grithir in late March towards Rivendell. The journey east was uneventful, and I was overjoyed to finally feast in the halls of Elrond, delighting in the company of the Elves, who are filled with song and stories of bygone days.

While in Rivendell I met a very interesting Elf, a Noldo smith, who has been alive almost since the High Elves first returned to Middle Earth in the First Age. His name is Tologion, and he had worked his craft in Gondolin. I asked him of my father’s sword, and indeed, Tologion knew its maker. It was a friend of his from those ancient days by the name of Thanben, who fell beside Ecthelion to a Balrog’s mace.

We rode out from Rivendell with a sizable company of Eldar warriors, including the noble sons of Elrond. Many Elves sat along the trails as we left, filling the forest with joyful song. My spirits were high as we departed.

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Faradir's Journal - A Short Patrol
Rescue of Haedirn

Girithron 2nd, 2945 T.A, at Barad Naith

We tried to save Haedirn and Alphros. We attempted to ambush the meeting between the Dunlendings and the Orcs, but their wolves must have smelled us. Several dozen foul Orcs riding their treacherous wolves had us surrounded. They wanted us to surrender, and when we refused fierce, battle by starlight was joined. The bodies of our enemies piled up around us. I slew more Orcs and wolfs that night than in all my previous years combined. When the wolves cam,e I took up my torch: that seemed to keep them at bay to some extent. When they saw they could not beat us, they fled, but we were in no condition to press on. We failed to save our companions.

We marched to Barad Naith in great haste. Our only hope was that we could convince the captain to launch a rescue party. Maybe then there would be a chance that we could intercept the Orc slavers before they returned it to their lair in the mountains. I was close to death for much of our journey back. We had to take a dangerous route through open country. At one point, we camped nearly right on top of a Troll’s den, but we were able to flee before it could attack.

Captain Grinthir did not think twice about sending a rescue party. We leave in the morning with a dozen or so good men. Judging by our previous fight with these orcs, we have the advantage, if we can find them.

Girithron 14th, 2945 T.A., at Barad Naith

Haedirn has been saved! We made good time back towards the Misty Mountains. The stupid Orcs were lazy and unwatchful, likely thanks to the nearness of their lair. We caught them encamped and unawares and made a great slaughter of them. My father’s blade quenched its thirst that day. It is a good thing too because I am quite useless with my bow. I will have to work on that when we get some down time. Haedirn, Orchalthand, and Alphros were both okay. Definitely the worse for wear, but they will recover. I feel my strength returning with my friend at my side once again.

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Annûngûr's Diary - A Short Patrol - Entry Two

9th Hithui, 2945

We’ve been resting, recovering and drying out. I’ve been keeping an eye on the hole that opened up in the ground and noticed the water level has dropped to only puddles. I decided it was time to go take a closer look at that plate, so I went down into the pit, fashioned a rope around it and hoisted it up with the help of the others. I cleaned it off as best as I could and could tell that it was definitely made of silver. There were no visible markings – perhaps moonscript? Sure enough, when we looked later that evening when the moon parted from the clouds I recited the following song to the company.

Beyond sunken lands, beyond broken peaks
Across broad seas, across grinding ice
The bells of Valimar ring still in our hearts
Oaths uttered in Galathilion’s shade still hang in the air
O Star-kindler, O Ever-white
Many are the years since we heard your song
Yet, never have you forsaken us
Ever have you kept us strong!

This song of course was a dedication to Varda.

10th Hithui, 2945

We resumed our march to Hollin ridge and the gates of Moria. That night I heard a snuffling in the dark. Nothing came of it except in the morning we noticed paw prints in the mud near cap. The prints look to be from wolves – not a good sign.

14th Hithui, 2945

We arrived at the patrol camp. The gates of Moria lay two leagues to our East. Beyond the gates rise two mighty mountains. We split into two teams to patrol the area. Alphros and Orchalthand will stay in camp.

15th Hithui, 2945

Faradir finds orc tracks that are no longer than a week old which appear to be coming from the gates of Moria. This was a fairly large company of orcs. Echadamath sees plumes of smoke to the West. We will continue our scouting tomorrow.

17th Hithui, 2945

It’s been an exhausting day. It started early in the morning when I heard movement around the dell from the East. I woke the company and by then the sounds seemed to be coming from the East and the West. We’re told in a foul tongue to surrender. Alphros shouted for us to fight our way through to the West. We slew the entire group of a dozen orcs, but our patrol camp was compromised and we had to move out. We collected a coin of Khazad-dum off one of the bodies a souvenir from Moria. We set out Westward towards smoke trails. Mid-day we halted when our scout spotted mounted figures riding towards the river. We split up the group and explored, again with Alphros and Orchalthand staying behind in a saddle hidden amongst the trees. The patrol came across a large group of 150 to 200 men tending a herd of cattle. After spending the day scouting we returned to saddle and are unable to locate Alphros or Echadamath. While searching for them we hear voices approaching so we hid. About half a dozen men come up the hill towards us. They noticed me, so I had to run off as does Faradir. Echadamath and Haedirn stay behind. Eventually, we link back up and agree that Alphros and Orchalthand must have been captured. We left some signs for them and set off for the high ground to survey the camp.

18th Hithui, 2945

As we are nearing the top of the nearby lookout peak we heard a light snore. We send Haedirn to investigate and without much trouble he captures their lookout allowing the rest of the group to approach and take the two sleeping scouts captive. As it turns out they are all drunk. We got what we could out of them. Apparently this is a Dunlanding slaver camp and our companions are among the slaves. Sure enough upon closer investigation from this vantage point we could make out what appears to be a large group of slaves in a pen near the river. The worst part is the slaves are to be traded to the orcs of Moria any day. The sneakiest member of our patrol Haedirn volunteers to go down and take a closer look.

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Annûngûr's Diary - A Short Patrol - Entry One

27th Narbeleth, 2945

To be honest I think I could have used another week or two of rest in Barad Naith. Well maybe rest is a stretch, as I’ve been working pretty hard getting mom’s place ready for winter. She appreciates it though, I know because I’ve been rewarded with my favorite meals lately. I know it bothered her that I was gone for most of the summer and I think she was hoping that I’d be in Barad Naith for the winter. I’m not looking forward to breaking the news to her that Grithnir has dispatched a patrol to Hollin that will include me. I think that I’ll recommend to her that we bring the family together and celebrate with song after a good meal tonight. It will serve me well while I’m away.

28th Narbeleth, 2945

The patrol left Barad Naith today at a brisk pace and consists of myself, Alphros, Orchalthand, Echadamath, Haedirn and Faradir.

4th Hithui, 2945

We made it to the foot of Hollin Ridge. Alphros is sure pushing us to get to Hollin. I’m noticing some of our patrol is struggling to keep up. He’s right though: we have winter coming and we haven’t patrolled Hollin all summer, so we need to get our eyes and ears down there now. I fear the weather is going to start turning on us.

5th Hithui, 2945

We ascended Hollin Ridge. Bad storm and we had a hard time finding shelter.

6th Hithui, 2945

We thought we’d dry out and get back on the path. Well that was before the earth shook and opened up swallowing Alphros. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He fell in what appears to be an Elven ruin from a time when they inhabited Eregion early in the Second Age. We managed to scramble down into the room and dig him out before he drowned. He ended up banging his head pretty good and I had to talk him into resting – he was in no shape to march. I’d like to inspect the subterranean ruin more, especially the statue of Varda. It was one of the most amazing sites I have seen with the mithril crown studded with diamonds. I’m most curious as to what the purpose of a black plate in the muck near the base of the statue. I couldn’t make out any text on the plate, but perhaps it was due to the oxidation and low light within the room. I’d like to further investigate this plate and room.

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Shadow on the Hoarwell - Morning Patrol

Naturally, our heroes want to investigate the corpse. For that matter, Captain Alphros wants to investigate as well. After all, it is not every day that a corpse appears in the wilderness of Eastern Eriador. However, the Rangers at Barad Naith have a rule that Alphros is loth to break: none shall cross the rivers in daylight lest foes discover the garrison. Alphros decides to lead a patrol the following morning to reconnoitre the far bank; he advises our heroes that they shall accompany him.

The five Rangers return to Barad Naith. Annûngûr, Emynion, and Tirithadan prepare their gear and attempt to rest whilst other members of the garrison prepare boats. The day and evening pass in a blur, our heroes enjoying varying degrees of success at sleeping thanks to their anticipation of a mission that may, in fact, involve real danger.

Sometime after midnight, our heroes assemble with Alphros and the men who will man the two boats to bear them across the river. The march takes nearly two hours in the dark. The heroes help carry the boats from their hiding place in a small draw a few hundred yards from the river bank, everyone sweating by the time the boats slide into the water. The crossing itself is fast; the boatmen do not look forward to carrying the boats upstream and want the journey to be as short as possible.

The party moves off the bank and some fifty yards into the grass and brush, Captain Alphros leading them to a small stand of beech trees where they pause for half an hour to permit their senses to grow accustomed to the early morning sounds on the west side of the river. The sound of oars slipping into the river soon fades and our heroes begin to notice the almost deafening roar of crickets, owls, and other night life. Finally, Alphros resumes movement, keen to be in position to investigate the scene when the sun rises.

In the moonlight, the party spots the black shape of the corpse without difficulty. The time passes slowly as they impatiently wait for sunrise for the second morning in a row. A fog washes over their position but dissipates after a short time. When the night gives way to morning twilight, Annûngûr and Tirithadan watch the bank and their trail whilst Alphros and Emynion clear the nearby trees and brush to ensure no enemy lies in wait. After satisfying himself that they may investigate the area unmolested, Alphros directs the party to begin its search for clues in earnest.

Unfortunately, the party can discern little from what evidence they discover. The corpse, swollen, stiff, and ripe from a day in the sun, is that of a man in his twenties or thirties, bearded and with long dark hair. Tirithadan believes him a Dunlending based on his dress – loose woollen leggings and shirt, the former in a cross-hatched pattern typically associated with the hill peoples who live south of Hollin and the Greyflood – an assessment with which the captain agrees. Tirithadan also identifies deep cuts on the man’s hands and a stab wound in his stomach.

The party also searches the wooded area along the river bank, finding indicators that a group of some size encamped at this location a day earlier. Based on the size and number of places where the grass is crushed and branches were broken or moved, the party estimates the size of the group as between a dozen and a score.

“Look!” Annûngûr points to a set of well-defined tracks on the edge of area occupied a day earlier. “They passed this way.”

“Ah, no…” Captain Alphros rubs his chin, briefly looking uncomfortable. “Those are your tracks, Annûngûr.”

The party finds nothing else of interest despite searching the area thoroughly. Nothing remains but to wait for the day to pass in the concealment and shade of the trees along the Hoarwell. It is little wonder that our heroes welcome the opportunity to rest. Once the sunsets, they waste no time marching back upstream where they meet the boats and return to the Angle.

Associated with Shadow on the Hoarwell.

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Shadow on the Hoarwell - A Night at Rostor's Roost

Growing up, a boy of the Dúnedain hears tales aplenty of bloody battles against long odds, grim journeys in the face of great perils, tragedy, hope, Orc-work and Elf-spells. Somehow, the elders neglected to mention the more mundane aspects of Ranger life: combat training – grappling, swordplay, shooting at the butts – carpentry and blacksmithing, arms and armour maintenance, and, of course, guard duty. Long hours spent in silence, waiting and hoping for something, anything, exciting to happen, yet knowing that excitement nearly always equals danger. Boredom is better in principle, but it is a fine point oft-forgotten in the cold, dark hours of the early morning.

Annûngûr, Emynion, and Tirithadan find themselves once again at Rostor’s Roost, a look-out post maintained on the ridge extending northward from Barad Naith for over one league. Overlooking the Hoarwell and manned only at night, it is perhaps better called a listening-post. This evening, however, the waning moon and stars reflect brightly off the river and illuminate the wide banks of fist-sized round stones. Still, where the far bank meets tall grass and scattered beeches and alders some twenty yards from the water’s edge, all is shrouded in darkness.

Occupied almost every night for centuries, Rostor’s Roost is well-camouflaged and well-appointed, and reached by a spur off the hidden path connecting Barad Naith to the Dúnadan villages to the north. The three young Rangers take turns between resting and watching, at least two remaining alert at all times. At the moment, Emynion and Tirithadan chat in whispers, imagining life after the Rangers – marriage and children, farms and flocks of sheep – whilst Annûngûr naps behind them.

“My uncle says the farming is better by the Evendim. It is no surprise that Elendil built his capital on its shores.”

“I wonder if he says that because your family held a castle there in fief to the sires of Arvedui.” Though Emynion cannot see the smirk, he can hear the sarcasm.

“Maybe so, though the castle is nothing more than broken black stone and thick green moss these days, according to my father.”

Tirithadan muses, “Duty in the North Downs must be better than this. I –.”

“Shhh.” Emynion places his hand on Tirithadan’s arm with intensity. “I think I hear something.” The breeze, blowing from the west, rustles the leaves that camouflage their post. Yet, it also carries snatches of voices, yelling in fact. Both heroes strain to make out the words, but they are indecipherable.

It now occurs to someone that Annûngûr should be awakened and Tirithadan wakens their friend. In hurried whispers, Emynion and Tirithadan explain the situation to Annûngûr. Still rubbing his eyes, Annûngûr now joins the other two at the lip of the window overlooking the Hoarwell.

There is a loud ring of metal striking metal… then silence.

Long minutes pass. Had Annûngûr not heard the bang, he might wonder if his friends woke him as a joke. Emynion suggests descending from the post, hopeful that more might be heard closer to the river, but Annûngûr and Tirithadan agree that maintaining their current position is the wiser course of action. In that vein, Annûngûr despatches Tirithadan to Barad Naith.

Finally, after a seeming eternity of no more than half an hour, Emynion spots a dark shape slowly moving where the bank meets grass. He points out the location, but it nevertheless takes Annûngûr a few minutes to mark out the humanoid form creeping toward the water. Emynion secures his bow, still keen to leave the post and investigate more closely. Annûngûr counsels patience even as the form reaches the water’s age and becomes still.

Captain Alphros, Cordof – another Ranger – and Tirithadan return more than an hour later, even as the sky gradually begins to change from a deep blue-black to dark grey. No further sounds break the silence of the early morning, nor does the form stir. To the east, the Sun begins to crest the Misty Mountain, crowning the white peaks with a crown of gold and sending long shadows from the ridge over the Hoarwell. What was a suspicion is now all-but-confirmed: the dark form is a body, Man- or Orc-sized.

Associated with Shadow on the Hoarwell.

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Late Spring, 2945

WHO: A patrol of Rangers assigned to the garrison at Barad Naith.

THE HEROES:
Annûngûr (Eric) the Slayer; energetic and a good judge of character;
Aruvion (Edgar) the Wanderer; quiet and introverted, preferring solitude to the company of men;
Baradir (Ken) the Wanderer; bold and thoughtful;
Emynion (Ethan) the Scholar; skilled at leechcraft;
Tirithadan (Tim) the Warden; merry, keen-eyed, skilled at leechcraft and herb-lore.

THE SUPPORTING CAST:
Grithnir the grizzled Commander of Barad Naith, presently in the Ettenmoors leading the garrison’s contingent in support of Lord Glorfindel;
Alphros the Captain, in command at Barad Naith until Grithnir’s return.

WHEN: Nórui 2945 TA.

WHERE: Eastern Eriador, The North.

SEASON: Late spring. The days are growing warmer, though the nights remain cold. Fog is typical for the morning and showers are frequent both night and day. In the farmers’ fields, sowing gives way to haymaking whilst in the downs, livestock grazes hungrily on the late spring grass and the sheep-shearing begins.

RUMOURS:

  • Orcs spotted in the Ettenmoors, the first raiding parties identified since the Battle of Five Armies four years ago. Rangers from all the garrisons in the Angle have provided troops to augment the wandering companies of Glorfindel and the sons of Elrond.
  • On the far side of the Misty Mountains, a Woodman chieftain named Beorn has claimed the Ford of Carrock. He promises to hold the Ford against Orcs and Trolls, but claims a tithe from any who would cross the Anduin within the compass of his lands.
  • Bandits spotted on the Old East-West Road west of the Last Bridge. After skirmishing with a band of Dwarves marching from the Blue Mountains to Erebor, they clashed with a Troll. Two Eldar — Gûrthondir and Limaurion — came to their aid. After the battle, the bandits robbed the two Elves, slaying Limaurion and leaving Gûrthondir for dead. The bandits, still between fifteen and twenty in number, were last seen moving southwest from the Last Bridge after murdering the Ranger Daervin.

Associated with Shadow on the Hoarwell.

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Tirithadan's Field Journal 01

- Spring, Year 2945 of the Third Age (four years after the Battle of Five Armies)

The messenger Ivorben comes with a message for Commander Grithnir, calling him and men to rally and repulse an Orcish raid. Captain Alphros is left in command.

Night watch, little activity. Sounds heard by Emynion are worrisome enough that I am sent back to the garrison to report to Captain Alphros. Captain Alphros is concerned enough to bring more of our men down to investigate and we cross the river to check the body of a man that has died. We attempted to identify a cause of death, as well as track the victim’s route. The victim was wearing the clothing common to Dunland. We return to the garrison, where we find Ivorben waiting with news of bandits, Orcs, and Trolls.

Captain Alphros designates Annûngûr as party leader for a tracking expedition to follow the bandits; I of course step forward to accompany him. Baradir and Emynion also volunteer. Aruvion, an accomplished scout, is also assigned to accompany us. Weather is on the cool side of comfort, with showers and clouds obscuring the light of the stars as we cross the river.

Day One, Pursuit-
We are unable to find any tracks to follow from here, so the company elects to travel southward in an attempt to make up ground on the enemy who we expect is at least a day ahead of us. We manage a couple hours, only covering a short distance before bedding down for the night.

Day Two, Pursuit-
We make a forced march the next day, in an attempt to close the distance. We make good time, and Aruvion is able to discern that we are on the trail of our quarry. We maintain the chase, gaining ground. we believe, and hope that we are close to catching the enemy.

Day Four, Pursuit-
We come across the burnt ruins of a small settlement on day three of the chase. It had been sacked and burnt to the ground, but Baradir and I investigated, hoping to find survivors. Alas, there were no survivors, and the scene was enough to turn the stomach. The villagers had been slaughtered, and the structures burned to the ground. The stories from other Rangers were not enough to prepare me for the reality of innocents slain in such a brutal manner. It did afford us the opportunity to replenish some of our stores, but I wish that we had never come to this place.

Day Five, Pursuit-
The trail is becoming clearer; I think we are closing on the enemy. Breaking through a stand of trees, we found another settlement, larger than the last, well-fortified. Two gates were lightly invested by what may have been the very bandits we were in pursuit of. Cultivated fields and their hedgerows to the north allowed our company to close with the possible hostiles undetected, just as the nearest group began to circle the village in our direction. We quickly formulate a plan, and Baradir broke cover as if he was a farmer returning to the village, and promptly turns and bolts back toward us when the bandit party notices. They take the bait, and pursue en masse. We sprung our trap as the bandits breached the hedgerow, slaying two, and wounding two. The remaining three fled to rejoin their comrades, but our brief attempt at pursuit results in one of the wounded bandits escaping custody. We did manage to secure the remaining injured man, and I stopped the bleeding despite my inclination to let him die for what he had done to those people at the last village.

Day Six, Pursuit-

Day Seven, Pursuit-
Weather has gotten much warmer and more oppressive. Rain in the evening, cleared just in time for it to get frigid overnight.

Day Eight, Pursuit-
Encountered bandit group doubling back on their trail, we managed to kill one enemy before breaking contact. Aruvion likewise managed to kill another with a bow shot from his position behind the enemy. The company is forced to withdraw, regrouping at nightfall.

Day Nine, Pursuit-
The swamp nights are full of noise. While uncomfortable, the night passed uneventfully. We move out to the southwest again in the morning, hoping to pick up the trail of our enemy once again. Aruvion identifies two voices, which turn out to be a pair of boys attempting to tend to their injured father. I manage to enlist the help of the boys in finding appropriate herbs and stabilize the man, despite their initial wariness. Once we tended the man, we set off again, following a trail through the marsh. Stopping for the evening, it appears clear that the trail we have been following was not that of our quarry.

Day Ten, Pursuit-
We managed to acquire two targets that we recognized from Tref Trallwng. Tracking them proved challenging, but we managed to do so, following them until they make camp. We manage to take them unawares, capturing them without a fight. Splitting them apart, I question a man of Rohan named Hrothgar, who seemed to understand that he was in a very bad situation and immediately cooperated. Hrothgar seemed disconcerted that I made the connection to the burnt homestead and other banditry, immediately offered his possessions as weregeld. He stated that he and his companion became fed up with the greater part of the bandit party and have left that life behind them. We manage to get good information regarding the main group’s size and demeanor, and the fact that they are based out of Tharbad. After claiming weregeld, Hrodhgar and his companion are released and the company travels onward toward Tharbad.

Day Eleven, Pursuit-
Traveling. A storm broke, but we managed to find shelter and suffered no hardship. We sighted a mounted patrol after the storm cleared, but we managed to find cover and they passed without noticing us.

Day Twelve, Pursuit-
We finally reach the town of Tharbad.

Associated with Shadow on the Hoarwell.

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