Adventures in Middle-Earth

Game Master Wandering Wastrel

Being an account of certain deeds which took place in Middle-Earth towards the end of the Third Age, between the Battle of Five Armies and the downfall of the Lord of the Rings

REGION MAP I BATTLE MAP

Guide: Morwen (Survival)
Scout: Bergur (Stealth; Investigation)
Hunter: Illryia (Survival)
Look-Out: Harry (Perception)


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Scribe of Middle-Earth

It is the year 2946 of the Third Age, five years after the death of the great Dragon, Smaug. King Bard of Dale has sent out a Proclamation to all in the North, inviting them to take part in his vision for restoring the land to its former glory. Many of the Free Peoples have gladly accepted this invite, and made their way to the city at the base of the Lonely Mountain to answer the King’s call. This is the tale of one such group.


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Scribe of Middle-Earth

Our story begins...

Bergur:

21 November 2946

The uniform may not make the soldier, but if your time back as a civilian has taught you anything it’s that a soldier without a uniform is just as much a nobody as everyone else. Where recently you might have bustled along these streets, the crowd melting out of your way (with an occasional admiring glance from any girl either young, or young at heart), now your short stature works against you. Being swift and stealthy is no bad thing, but in the thronged cobbled streets of Dale only the privileged or the sizeable (like the visiting Beornings) make swift progress.

It’s not the only area where progress is difficult: your answer to King Bard’s call doesn’t seem to be getting heard very quickly. Whatever you might have hoped or thought or imagined, striding in as a former soldier of Dale (“yeah, yeah, you and a hundred others”) hasn’t put you at the front of the queue. Or the middle. Always the same answer: Come back tomorrow. Come back tomorrow. Come back tomorrow...

(In fairness, if you’re inclined to be fair, the officials King Bard has appointed to the task are doing their best, mostly. It’s just that nobody seems to have anticipated the sheer number of people who would respond.)

So another day passes, from pillar to post, from one meeting hall to the next, here a promise of a meeting with a decision-maker, there a rumour of someone who is looking to put a group together, whispers, like spectral seedlings that never seem to bear fruit (Come back tomorrow. Come back tomorrow. Come back tomorrow...)

The sun has long since set in this late-autumn evening as you plod your way through the crowded streets towards the lodging-house that is your current home. A hasty meal and then to bed to fret and wait for another day.

It will be tomorrow.

The gift-curse you have, the foresight you never asked for, that brought you to such grief. It’s not always accurate, or to be more truthful, you have not always interpreted it accurately. But now, for once, you are sure. It will be tomorrow. A fleeting vision, like a waking dream, flashes past your eyes: a dwarf who is not, a broken shield and a bitter flame.

Feel free to RP this out – or not – when you post, I’m just moving forward to the next day to get things going :)

22 November 2946

Waking earlier than usual, you go through your usual morning preparations before heading out into the chill unwelcoming day. It’s early enough that the mist off the river hasn’t yet lifted – dawn (such as it is this late in the year) is still some hours off.

Making your way back across town towards the palace, perhaps luck – or something else – is with you: the streets are near-deserted, save for those whose employment it is to get the city ready for tonight. Five years to the day, and tonight the city celebrates. It is rumoured that many of the great and the good from the Battle have returned to celebrate their deeds and perhaps make new toasts of friendship for the future. But that is for later, if you decide to go at all.

For now, you follow the same routine: join the queue, and wait. But today there is no queue. Making your way inside, you are directed to a small antechamber where perhaps a dozen other folk sit: mostly Bardings, but not all.

You have scarce had time to set yourself down when a slightly flustered man – a courtier no doubt, from his cap to his doublet to those rather silly pointy shoes they seem to wear – arrives on the scene, still out of breath. He mops his face. “Oh dear now. Oh dear. Yes, let me see… you, you, you and you.” He points at a squat, broad man (shorter even than you but twice as wide at the shoulder), two tall women (one red-haired, one with blonde braids)… and you.

“Do come this way, please.” The courtier leads you through a maze of corridors and into yet another antechamber; although this one has more comfortable seats and a tray of hot drinks and pastries. The man gives you all a small smile, the conjured-up courtesy of one for whom manners are all: “I’m afraid I’m running a little late already. Please do make yourselves at home. I’ll be no more than ten minutes.”

Leaving without another word, he crosses the corridor through a doorway into what looks like an office (you catch a brief glimpse of a veritable mountain of parchment, as though a library had exploded).

This is the bit where you introduce yourselves. Make sure you provide a good description of what the others see :)

Harry:

21 November 2946

Goodness, it’s cold. Bree can be wet and windy, of course, but Dale (beautiful city, of course, such fabulous stonework) has a wind that comes off the Mountain and cuts like a knife. But then, it is nearly Winter, after all.

Whatever your plan was, the journey here took considerably longer than you anticipated - but then it is such a very, very long way and there are so many interesting sights to draw your attention. Why, the Misty Mountains alone were... and then the Old Dwarf Road, with the ford over the mighty Anduin, that legendary river - and then a detour, not through Mirkwood as you had thought, but in the company of a group of Bardings and Dwarves on their way to their respective homes, you instead travelled along the Vales of Anduin and through the Narrows of the Grey Mountains... such sights, such stories!

And then of course, to Dale, which is...well. Bree is impressive in its own way, of course - its history and its enduring presence throughout the Ages - but Dale! And Erebor!

Sadly, quite a lot of people seem to think the same way: the place is absolutely teeming with people from all regions. King Bard's appeal obviously landed on fertile soil (yes, yes, a mixed metaphor, but an apt one). And while you are made perfectly welcome, it's evident that nobody seems quite to know what to do with you. And so the days have stretched into weeks, and now almost a month. And now another day has passed as you wend your way through the stone-flagged, thronged streets back to your small inn where you have been staying. It is one of the few inns of Dale that has nothing to do with dragons, or arrows, or bowmen and their various anatomies - the rooms aren't the best, and it's not the cheapest, but it is quiet. The Scrivener's Quill.

A thoughtful meal and then to bed, ready for another day.

Feel free to write something in response to this in your post, I’m just moving forward to the next day to get things going :)

22 November 2946

Waking at your accustomed time, you go through your usual morning preparations before heading out into the chill unwelcoming day. It’s early enough that the mist off the river hasn’t yet lifted – dawn (such as it is this late in the year) is still some hours off.

Making your way back across town towards the palace, perhaps luck – or something else – is with you: the streets are near-deserted, save for those whose employment it is to get the city ready for tonight. Five years to the day, and tonight the city celebrates. It is rumoured that many of the great and the good from the Battle have returned to celebrate their deeds and perhaps make new toasts of friendship for the future. But that is for later.

For now, you follow the same routine: join the queue, and wait. But today there is no queue. Making your way inside, you are directed to a small antechamber where perhaps a dozen other folk sit: mostly Bardings, but not all.

You have scarce had time to set yourself down when a slightly flustered man – a courtier no doubt, from his cap to his doublet to those rather silly pointy shoes they seem to wear – arrives on the scene, still out of breath. He mops his face. “Oh dear now. Oh dear. Yes, let me see… you, you, you and you.” He points at a short, skinny Barding (who looks barely old enough to shave), two tall women (one a Ranger, by your guessing, red-haired, which is unusual for those folk; and one with blonde braids)… and you.

No idea whether Harry would be able to identify a Rider of Rohan, I leave that to you :)

“Do come this way, please.” The courtier leads you through a maze of corridors and into yet another antechamber; although this one has more comfortable seats and a tray of hot drinks and pastries. The man gives you all a small smile, the conjured-up courtesy of one for whom manners are all: “I’m afraid I’m running a little late already. Please do make yourselves at home. I’ll be no more than ten minutes.”

Leaving without another word, he crosses the corridor through a doorway into what looks like an office (you catch a brief glimpse of a veritable mountain of parchment, as though a library had exploded).

This is the bit where you introduce yourselves. Make sure you provide a good description of what the others see :)

Illyria:

21 November 2946

Over two hundred leagues now lie between you and what is – was? – your homeland. But you are come – at long, long last – to the lands of the Northmen. They themselves are not especially impressive in stature, and what passes for a horse round here would be an object of pity and derision back home (many is the admiring, and sometimes even covetous, glance that Fæstlîeg has received on your journey).

But they surely know how to build a city. Compared to the stone-flagged splendour of Dale, Edoras is but a thatched barn where brigands drink in the reek and rats roll on the floor with the dogs; and compared with your glimpses of Erebor, the Lonely Mountain home of the dwarf-folk, Helm’s Deep looks like a child’s scratchings in the dirt of what a castle might be. Yes, these Northmen might be physically unprepossessing, but any who can build this in a short span of years are worthy of caution, if not respect.

The guards at the gate are respectful, and more or less welcoming – once they have reassured themselves that you are not a bandit or a troublemaker, which doesn’t take long. They are happy to direct you towards an inn (The Roaring Welcome, which is apparently a play on words to do with the Dragon’s roar) where you might stay, which turns out to be in the Merchant’s Quarter, where most of the other foreign visitors appear to be corraled as well: mostly tall, stout, bearlike people whom you learn are known as Beornings. They share a certain resemblance to the Men of Dunland, which might make you wary if not for the fact that they mostly seem happy to ignore you.

A few enquiries over a meal and a drink or two (it seems that the preferred drink here is mead, rather than the ale you know from your own lands – grain grows but little this far north and cannot be ‘squandered’ on frivolities like alcohol) confirm that most here have the same purpose as yourself: to answer the call of King Bard the Dragonslayer.

Your journey has been long, and so another drink or so later it is time to turn in for some sleep: your first in a real bed for some months.

Feel free to write something in response to this in your post, I’m just moving forward to the next day to get things going :)

22 November 2946

Waking early, you go through your usual morning preparations before heading out into the chill unwelcoming day. It’s early enough that the mist off the river hasn’t yet lifted – dawn (such as it is this late in the year this far north) is still some hours off.

Making your way back across town towards the palace proves to be something of a challenge: the city is a maze of stone, with no view of the horizon and very little in the way of means to get your bearings. However, you are able to ask directions of those few who are around at this hour and – a little later than you might have hoped – you find yourself at your destination. Making your way inside, you are directed to a small antechamber where perhaps a dozen other folk sit: mostly Northmen, but not all.

You have scarce had time to set yourself down when a slightly flustered man – a courtier no doubt, from his cap to his doublet to those rather silly pointy shoes they seem to wear – arrives on the scene, still out of breath. He mops his face. “Oh dear now. Oh dear. Yes, let me see… you, you, you and you.” He points at a short, skinny Northman (who looks barely old enough to shave), a squat, broad man who you at first think might be a dwarf (shorter by far than you are, but twice as wide at the shoulder), a red-haired woman as tall as yourself… and you.

“Do come this way, please.” The courtier leads you through a maze of corridors and into yet another antechamber; although this one has more comfortable seats and a tray of hot drinks and pastries. The man gives you all a small smile, the conjured-up courtesy of one for whom manners are all: “I’m afraid I’m running a little late already. Please do make yourselves at home. I’ll be no more than ten minutes.”

Leaving without another word, he crosses the corridor through a doorway into what looks like an office (you catch a brief glimpse of a veritable mountain of parchment, as though a library had exploded).

This is the bit where you introduce yourselves. Make sure you provide a good description of what the others see :)

Morwen:

OK, so I’m taking a liberty here and assuming that at least some of your Known Lands are on this side of the Misty Mountains – but I’ll leave it for you to decide which ones :)

21 November 2946

It’s safe to say that your views are sufficiently well-known (notorious, even) among your own people that there wasn’t too much in the way of protest when you left to go east and seek what wisdom and comfort you could find in Dale. All of the Dúnedain live a life of exile; but few there are indeed who are exiled from their own people, voluntarily or otherwise.

Whatever your feelings are on leaving the lands you know so well, the journey over the Misty Mountains required your full attention and left little time for thought or reflection. Which may itself have been a blessing. What was immediately clear is that this late in the year, once you were through there was no going back until at least Spring. Fortunately, the lands of the Anduin and Rhovanion are not entirely strange to you: you have wandered further in many directions than most of your people. As such, you had a clear path towards your destination and the Elf-road of Mirkwood was open to you, as it is to many others. With the passing of the Dragon, the Elvenking has regained control of the forest (at least the northernmost part) and there has been safe passage from the Vales of Anduin through to the Lonely Mountain for several years now.

You met several groups passing through under the deep shadow of the mighty trees; all were friendly and grateful for the company of another who is as skilled at arms as yourself, although fortunately nothing stirred in the gloom of the deep woods and your journey was without incident. The city of Dale was but a short trek further – it is an impressive sight, although one you have seen before. The guards at the gate are respectful, although the sight of your red hair seems to make them think you are one of the Woodmen of Wilderland. But maybe that’s easier than trying to explain to them who your people truly are – this far over the Misty Mountains cold, the Dúnedain and the realm of Númenor are long forgotten, pale enchanted legends.

As far as you are concerned, there is only one tavern in the city that is worth staying in: The Missing Scale (or just The Scale to those in the know), a large inn of oak and stone situated in Market Square, the heart of the city. Inside, the common-room is dominated by the baleful image of a Dragon. Crafted from wrought iron and lit from behind with candles, the glowing image runs along the wall opposite the bar. One of the busiest inns in the city, it is the peerless wine (together with its location near the palace) that gives the place its success.

It is also the premier place in the city to get news of events both near and far; for the price of a few goblets of wine, you quickly learn that the King’s proclamation has brought many people to Dale, and that the place to go is the palace. This information comes with a solemn reassurance that many have waited months for an audience.

Your journey has been long, and so after another goblet or two it is time to turn in for some sleep: your first in a real bed for some months.

Feel free to write something in response to this in your post, I’m just moving forward to the next day to get things going :)

22 November 2946

Waking early, you go through your usual morning preparations before heading out into the chill unwelcoming day. It’s early enough that the mist off the river hasn’t yet lifted – dawn (such as it is this late in the year this far north) is still some hours off.

The palace is but a short walk from The Scale – another reason for staying there. There is a small queue, but you are inside quickly enough and are directed to a small antechamber where perhaps a dozen other folk sit: mostly Northmen, but not all.

You have scarce had time to set yourself down when a slightly flustered man – a courtier no doubt, from his cap to his doublet to those rather silly pointy shoes they seem to wear – arrives on the scene, still out of breath. He mops his face. “Oh dear now. Oh dear. Yes, let me see… you, you, you and you.” He points at a short, skinny Northman (who looks barely old enough to shave), a squat, broad man whom you identify as a Breelander (as far from home as you are yourself), a woman with blonde-braided hair… and you.

“Do come this way, please.” The courtier leads you through a maze of corridors and into yet another antechamber; although this one has more comfortable seats and a tray of hot drinks and pastries. The man gives you all a small smile, the conjured-up courtesy of one for whom manners are all: “I’m afraid I’m running a little late already. Please do make yourselves at home. I’ll be no more than ten minutes.”

Leaving without another word, he crosses the corridor through a doorway into what looks like an office (you catch a brief glimpse of a veritable mountain of parchment, as though a library had exploded).

This is the bit where you introduce yourselves. Make sure you provide a good description of what the others see :)


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Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

21 November 2946

Illyria is weary, saddle-sore and aware that she smells intensely of horse, but the sight of the stone city and the Lone Mountain beyond it makes her sit up straighter on Fæstlîeg. The wilderness between here and the lands of the Riddermark didn’t offer anything to hint that her journey would end in such a spectacular sight. She does her best not to gawp like some slack-jawed yokel as she rides the last few leagues towards the gate. She nods politely but distantly to the guards and heads towards the inn they have recommended. She hopes it has a good stable. Fæstlîeg is her companion and after a journey of such length he deserves a suitable place to rest. Once she has tended to his needs and reassured herself that the stable-boy isn’t going to do any permanent harm to himself or her horse, she enters the Roaring Welcome. She takes a room and gladly pays the extra (although her coin is rapidly diminishing) for a bath. It will take more than one before she feels truly clean again, but it refreshes her enough that she discovers her appetite beneath the fatigue.

She couldn’t tell you what she had to eat, only that it was warm and filling and gave her the best night’s sleep she has had in more than a year.

22 November 2946

The grey-eyed young woman looks with curiosity at the others. She is a shade under six feet tall, with that distinctive breadth to her shoulders that speaks of long practice wielding sword and spear. Her long blonde hair is elaborately braided and swept back in a knot that keeps it out of her face. A cloak of crimson red, faded and worn in places from much travel, is wrapped closely around her. It is obvious that she feels the cold intently, even here indoors, and she eyes the steaming hot drink on the table appreciatively. She wears dark leather riding boots and although her left foot is clearly turned inwards it doesn’t appear to prevent her from walking with normal ease. A bronze band, elaborately decorated, is wrapped around her left arm. Anyone familiar with the ways of the Rohirrim would be able to identify it as proclaiming her status as a member of the King’s Guard. Even if you don’t know that, it is clearly the only thing she wears that is decorative rather than useful.

She is the first to break the silence. Someone has to. “Well met.” Her speech-patterns and mannerism mark her clearly as not being from around here. “I am Illyria, sh-” she bites the word off. You can’t be a shield-maiden without your shield, and she has no wish right now, or ever, to recall the circumstances of losing it. “that is, I am shortly arrived from Rohan to the south. It would be good to know something of you since it seems we are like to be grouped together.”


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Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

21 November 2946

Having been once again turned away, Bergur trudges slowly back to the lodging-house. More comfortable than the barracks, and certainly more private, but not home. Never home.

Bergur sighs, pulling off his cloak and preparing for bed. Long habit keeps the majority of his clothes on. ('Paranoia', others had whispered. 'Never wanting to risk being caught off guard in case of an attack.')

People always believed what they wanted to believe. Saw what they wanted to see.

A wry smile crosses Bergur's face. If anything, the past few days have reinforced his decision to remain, well, him. If a young man, a soldier trained, was having this much trouble being accepted into a group, what chance would a woman have had?

Not for the first time, he considers setting off on his own. But...no. He's no fool, to rush in unprepared and die without cause. He'll die, yes, but on his terms. Doing something worthwhile.

And besides...

A flash of foresight. People he's never met, but knows he'll know. Tomorrow. Yes, come back tomorrow.

He lays down on the bed and sleeps. Tomorrow will be eventful. He should be well-rested for it.

22 November 2946

The young man eyes the others as he nibbles on a pastry. (Free food is never to be turned down.) A simple leather jerkin covers a loose grey tunic. His short light brown hair is cut in the style of the men of Dale, and moreover, that of a soldier of Dale. Not that the people with him, foreigners all, will likely be able to tell the difference.

His brown eyes turn to Illyria as she speaks, the flash of foresight once again running through his mind. A broken shield. He knows little of Rohan, but he vaguely remembers hearing that they had shield-maidens.

(Would things have been different, were Brigg born in Rohan rather than Lake-town?)

A slight smile crosses his face. Two women taller than him, and a man shorter. An interesting group indeed, although whether that boded good or ill he couldn't yet say. "Well met, Illyria. I am Bergur."

He sits up a little straighter in his chair. "Until recently I was a soldier here in Dale. Trained as a scout. Now, well. I hope to answer King Bard's call to make the Northern lands safe once again."


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Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

21 November 2946
The scholar scribbles just a little longer. Barely crumbs remain of the quite-pleasant fare he has recently enjoyed, thanks to the good staff of the The Scrivener's Quill.

He peers at the page and nods, quite satisfied with his notes of the day's events. Reminders to himself for a future reminsicence of lengthier verbiage. He relaxes and thinks to himself:

A fine meal, readying me for the ardour of another day. After a good night's rest of course!

He chuckles out loud, heartily and heartfelt. Then begins to make a move towards his bed, his own ink and paper disappearing into his luggage.

22 November 2946
Harry turns to the courtier with a question in mind...

"Where are you..."

...but does not quite manage to get it out before the man rushes off once more.

"...going?"

He stratches his head briefly then remembers his manners and turns to the others.

They will see a broad -i f short - man, 4' 8" in height and with a head topped with undistinguished light brown hair. Harry has green eyes which gaze with endless curiosity out from a kindly, bearded, and quite youthful face. He wears simple but travel-worthy clothing which has seen some wear already, including a backpack and a fur-lined travelling cloak. At his side, Harry also carries a sling and various pouches. A stout walking stick completes the set of his visible belongings.

He sees the features of those near him and smiles.

"Well met, indeed! I am Harry Kettlegrass of Bree, from Breeland. I am most pleased to make your acquaintance, all. Illyria, you are Rohirrim, correct, not just from the direction of Rohan? Your hair and build are quite distinctive and oft repeated in tales!"

Bergur, safer lands will make for safer homes and hearths. It is a worthy goal and I would aid it in what way I can, gathering lore on the way."


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Illyria looks curiously at both the men as they introduce themselves, especially the short broad man who seems to know of her people. She nods in assent: "Yes, I am of the Rohirrim, or the Eorlingas as we call ourselves. Sword and spear are my calling. But I have never heard of this Breeland. Is it far from here?"

She gives Bergur a nod of respect as the boy (she finds it hard to seem him as anything but that, given his obvious youthfulness) declares himself a soldier. "Scouting is a worthy endeavour, indeed. Knowledge of the enemy is-" she trails off, as memories she has tried hard to bury start to return. She pushes them away. "Knowledge of the enemy is a step to victory."

Seeking to turn the conversation away from herself, and especially her reasons for being here rather than in Rohan, she addresses the other woman, who has so far remained silent. "What of you, where would you say your talents lie?"


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

In response to Illyria, Harry responds:

"Well, Bree-land is quite a distance to the west, in the old Eriador region, well more west-southwest really. East along the East Road, through the Misty Mountains. The old dwarf road then, with a ford over the great Anduin - a powerful river indeed! I had reckoned on continuing along that road east through Mirkwood but then ran into a friendly group of Bardings and Dwarf-folk. So up north we went through the Anduin Vales and then east through the Narrows of the Grey Mountains, and finally south-east to Dale proper!"

Harry is very clearly enthused and wrapped up in descibing such matters.


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Morwen had wrapped her blue scarf around her head, making it into more of a hood. When she had been picked with the others she had moved silently and properly. She made no effort to speak to anyone at the time. As she wasn't here for them.

However then they began to speak to her. Looking them over Morwen chose to reply, after all it was only polite. "I am good as surviving." She answered. "I can find a way through the wilds of almost any land." Morwen finished explaining before she shifted her weight to one leg. "You may call me Morwen."


Scribe of Middle-Earth

Feel free to back-post any replies you have to each other. I'm going to move this forward.

After no more than ten minutes, just enough time for you to get briefly acquainted and enjoy a hot drink and a pastry or two, the door re-opens and the florid-faced courtier beckons you inside: "Come in, come in. And apologies for keeping you waiting."

Parchment - and the smell of parchment, and the dust of parchment - form the principal theme of the man's office. He gives a rueful smile and gestures you towards the seats, which look as though they have only just been cleared of paper in order for you to sit down. "Please, take a seat." Having steered you inside, he returns to sit behind his desk, where he steeples his rather chubby fingers and looks at you politely. "Some introductions would seem to be in order. Why don't I go first? I am Sir Varin, principal under-secretary to Thegn Jofur, who has been tasked by King Bard with finding work for our volunteers."

He gives you a benign smile. "And now I feel it is your turn to do the talking."

AUDIENCE MODE

You are now in an Audience - any of you can roll for Insight, but only ONE of you should make the Traditions roll and introduce yourselves. Spoilers are on the honours system.

Insight DC 10:

You spot dark circles around Sir Varin's eyes, and his face is lined. He is clearly over-worked and will not appreciate over-lengthy speeches or attempts to waste his time.

Insight DC 15:

You spot dark circles around Sir Varin's eyes, and his face is lined. He is clearly over-worked and will not appreciate over-lengthy speeches or attempts to waste his time.

In addition, it's clear that although he is too polite to say anything, he has no real idea of Breelanders, Rangers or Rohirrim, but he has recognised Bergur as a fellow Barding. He'd probably be more at ease listening to one of his own.


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Bergur smiles at Harry's enthusiasm. Tales, eh? A scholar of sorts it would seem. "It seems you are well-traveled. If we are given the chance you will have to tell me the tales of your homeland."

Knowledge, any knowledge, is important. Who knows if Bergur might find himself in Bree-land? In his vague thoughts of spying on the Enemy he had always pictured going East, but the Enemy could be anywhere. Or everywhere.

He's interrupted in these thoughts by the return of the frazzled courtier. Casting a slightly mournful glance at the remaining pastries, (food is not to be wasted), he follows the man into the crowded office. His fingers itch to take up some of the papers and read them, but no. Now is not the time.

Instead Bergur sits and smiles politely at the man. "Greetings, Sir Varin. I am Bergur, son of Ragni. I recently completed a term of service as a scout under Captain Lifstan of the Vanguard. I thought perhaps my skills could be of use in King Bard's call to reclaim the North."

Audience Rolls:
Insight: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (5) + 6 = 11


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Insight: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13

Aware that this podgy man seems to want to keep things brief, Illyria confines herself to a short introduction. "I am Illyria, from Rohan. My skills lie in sword and spear as well as horsemanship."


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

In response to Bergur, Harry smiles, as his hand reaches for a delectable-looking pastry:

"But of course, Bergur! Bree-land is of course the region I know best of all, though that may change on my travels."

When the courtier returns, Harry swiftly brushes away the crumbs of the now-only-in-memory baked good, and follows into the office.

Insight: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (4) + 5 = 9

Once Illyria ceases speaking, Harry launches into a near-continous speech:

"Well met! I am Harry Kettlegrass of Bree, from Bree-land. I am something of a scholar and seek to find lore about the history of Bree-land and its people from very long ago. As for what I have learned already, that includes quite a bit about herbs and healing, bits and pieces about many things, and above all, something of the ways of the endlessly fascinating peoples of this Middle-Earth. King Bard sounds like a wise chap and I would help him - and those who help him - in any goodly way in which I am able."


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Insight: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (12) + 4 = 16

"You're wasting his time." Morwen spoke up, possibly even interrupting some others. "He has more to see, you should keep it short." She told them. "Basic, simple, like Illyria did."

"You can call me Morwen, I'm a good shot with a bow and some what decent with a blade. My true skills are within the wilds themselves. I can get you anywhere you need to go. I come from over the Misty Mountains. That is all you really need to know for now."


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry is surprised by Morwen's interruption but swiftly takes it on board.

"My apologies, good Sir Varen. We wish to know how we can best help you."

Harry wants to keep adding more but knows that for now, less *is* more, and hopes that he has emphasised what he truly needs to.

Traditions: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20


Scribe of Middle-Earth

Sir Varin nods, clearly appreciating what he is hearing from you. His frown at Harry's lengthy introduction turns into a more neutral expression as the scholar shows that he can, in fact, keep it short and simple.

He looks at Bergur first. "A scout, hmm? Well. Tell me what you saw from your entry into the Palace until this room."

Bergur should make an Investigation roll to recall the details. Feel free to roleplay according to the success of the roll (as long as you don't include anything too outlandish, we're good)

Then it's Harry's turn. "What do you know of the Elves of Mirkwood? Have you any experience in their customs and traditions?"

Harry should make a Traditions or Lore roll (your choice)

Next is Illyria: "Rohan - I have heard of that place. Famed for its horses, yes?"

Illyria should make an Animal Handling roll to demonstrate her expertise.

Finally, he looks at Morwen. "Getting through the wilds is a useful skill. What would you expect to encounter on a journey at this time of year between Dale and the Anduin Vales?"

Morwen should make a Survival roll


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

For a long second Bergur just stares at Sir Varin. What had he seen on his way in? He...hadn't actually been paying attention, too caught up in the vague sense of fate weaving around him.

I should have expected some kind of test. Should have treated this as an enemy engagement, not a morning stroll.

Well, too late now. He'll just have to improvise with the few details he can recall.

"The Palace is far emptier than usual, with most people busy preparing for the celebration tonight. There were only a dozen people waiting in the antechamber, all Bardings with the exception of these three." He nods in the direction of Harry, Illyria, and Morwen. "Shortly after I'd arrived you came and separated us out from the rest of the group, leading us to the antechamber behind us. The drinks were still hot and the pastries were fresh; they must have been made this morning. After a few moments of preparation, you then invited us into this room." He smiles slightly. "Where most of what I see is mountains of paperwork."

"The deluge of volunteers for the Call must have been keeping you quite busy, Sir Varin. I appreciate the hospitality you have shown us."

Rolls/OOC:
Investigation: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9

So many skills, but Investigation is sadly not an option for the Treasure Hunter.


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Rolls/OOC:

Animal handling: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23

Illyria nods in reply. Her pride in Rohan's horses is obvious. "You have heard aright Sir Varin, the Riddermark is justly renowned for its horse-lords. My steed is called Fæstlîeg, or Swift-flame in our tongue. I raised him from a colt and he has never failed me yet - indeed, I owe him my life." She trails off at that point, because she really doesn't want to think about that part of her life too much.


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry thinks about stories, and ones that will not take too long, and his mind wanders to the Barrows...

"The elves rarely die but when they do, their kin raise cairns of stones above their burial site then remember the dead in song and memorial feasting."

Rolls/ooc:

Traditions: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (10) + 7 = 17


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Rolls/OOC:
Survival: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (19) + 4 = 23

"Wild animals and scouts of the north mostly." Morwen answered. "However the closer I got to Dale the less of a problem there was. I did also come across some traveling merchants even. Wild men are also a problem. But ever since the battle of the Five armies most things have cleared out. So if you stay to the roads you've little to fear. That can't be said of those who step off of the road or dare to travel once night has fallen." Morwen explained. "But that is if you take the Elf-path. The Old Forest Road has some straggling goblins and the road isn't really passable any longer. [b]"Since Mirkwood has reopened their boarders and have thrived. The elves watch the path with keen eyes."


Scribe of Middle-Earth

DM Screen:

1d20 - 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 ⇒ (10) - 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 2 = 14

Sir Varin listens to each of the companions as they speak in turn, occasionally scribbling notes; the *scritch, scritch* of the quill on parchment is off-putting enough to Bergur that the youth stumbles in their presentation. The courtier frowns slightly as Bergur's voice comes across as lacking in confidence, but he doesn't look up.

Once Morwen has finished, Sir Varin makes some final notes before his quill-pen falls blessedly silent. There is a pause while he shuffles the manuscripts together, binding them with a length of red twine. Finally, he speaks. "It is well, I think. Yes." He speaks almost as though he is trying to persuade himself.

Steepling his rather chubby fingers together, he looks at you once more.

"I have been informed that His Majesty King Bard wishes to bestow a considerable favour upon a certain, er," he checks his notes to make sure "yes, a certain Master Dodinas Brandybuck, Esquire. I understand that the gentleman in question has taken up residence within the Vales of Anduin, on the lands of the Beornings. More than that, I have not - alas - been able to ascertain."

He coughs, slightly uncomfortably. "Be that as it may, His Majesty was hoping to present the gentleman with this gift as soon as possible and ideally before Winter is upon us and travel becomes too perilous. I am fully aware that is not ideal for any party to set out on a trek to the other side of Mirkwood this late in the year, which brings me to another, er, request."

"An acquaintance of mine, by the name of Belgo, wishes to leave Dale for, er, personal reasons. He has encountered difficulties in finding anyone willing to escort him through the forest of Mirkwood this late in the year. As I understand it, he is in good standing with the Elves of that forest and they are willing to grant him safe passage at least to the halls of the Elvenking provided that he meets them at the edge of the forest."

"If you are willing to escort him through Mirkwood, you will at least be travelling in safety to the Elvenking's court. Belgo is currently staying at The Archer's Mark, a tavern located just by Trader's Gate. I will send a messenger to let him know that you are coming."

He indulges himself in some more shuffling of parchment.

"Now. As to reward. For delivering the King's gift to Master Brandybuck, and for escorting Belgo to the Forest Gate on the western side of Mirkwood, I am willing to offer each of you a payment of 25 silver pieces, payable once I have confirmation of the tasks' completion. In addition, you will have the favour of one who is close to Thegn Jofur - and once you have proven yourselves to be reliable, opportunities for greater reward will be at hand, no doubt."

He places his palms flat on the desk. "Are there any questions?"

Insight DC 15:

Sir Varin seems torn between guilt and hope: guilt at handing you an assignment that he truly believes could be dangerous; and hope that he has found the right people for the task at hand.

Investigation DC 15:
You have heard rumours of late that there is increasing tension between the Elves of Mirkwood and the Bardings of Dale: the great Dragon Smaug levelled every tree around the Lonely Mountain, so there is a considerable shortage of wood. Some Bardings have been felling the trees of Mirkwood, which the Elves do not take lightly. That might explain why the Elves are not willing to meet this Belgo in Dale itself.


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Rolls/OOC:

Insight: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (2) + 5 = 7
Investigation: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (8) + 5 = 13

Harry looks at Sir Varin, listening intently. Though to be fair, he normally is. Then the scholar replies.

"Escorting a gift and escorting a fellow. That sounds quite doable with our company. I for one would accept gladly!"


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Rolls:

Insight: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 4 = 24

Illyria is conflicted: on the one hand, that sounds like a worthy thing to do and it gets her out of this city of faceless stone. On the other hand, the offer of pay makes her feel like a mercenary.

Still and all, she has to eat and she is running out of coin. She nods in agreement with Harry. "You seem to think this task is dangerous. What do we face?"


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Rolls/OOC:
Insight: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22

Investigation: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (5) + 1 = 6

Bergur tilts his head slightly as he listens to Sir Varin's proposal. He's aware he didn't make the best first impression, but it seems he is to be given a chance anyway.

Although one thing worries him about the proposed task, and it's not the prospect of danger.

'Personal reasons?'

Traveling to present a favor to someone on the other side of Mirkwood...yes, that makes sense. It is the kind of task he expected. A good opportunity to begin making contacts and start learning of the lands beyond Dale.

Escorting a traveler also makes a certain amount of sense. The roads are dangerous to travel alone; most people either gather a group or hire some mercenaries to accompany them. Since they'll be traveling that way anyway so there's no reason Sir Varin can't take advantage of that to help out an acquaintance.

But for said traveler to be desperate to leave Dale immediately, despite the danger in traveling so late in the year...that is worrisome. The line between 'traveler' and 'fugitive' can sometimes be thin.

Please don't let him take offense, please don't let him take offense...

"My apologies Sir Varin, but I must ask. Why does Belgo wish to leave Dale so late in the year? I have no objections to accompanying him, but it seems...strange."


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Rolls:
Insight: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (18) + 4 = 22
Investigation: 1d20 + 0 ⇒ (18) + 0 = 18

"He said it was for personal reasons." Morwen said to answer Bergur's question. "If it is very personal than it isn't our place to ask that. If the reason was something that endangered us, I would expect we would know." She pointed out.

"We should focus upon getting Belgo to the Mirkwood court first. If winter decides to come early that will make it even more difficult. We're the ones being charged with his safety after all." She told them.


Scribe of Middle-Earth
Illyria of Rohan wrote:
"You seem to think this task is dangerous. What do we face?"

Sir Valin frowns slightly at being addressed with such familiarity, but he seems willing enough to dismiss the impertinence as a foreigner not knowing her place. "It is no secret that Mirkwood is a dangerous place."

He looks at Bergur, as something approaching grief shadows his face, there and then gone in an instant. "It is a reasonable question, but one for Belgo to answer you, if he so wishes."

It seems that your audience is now over. He is a very busy man, after all.


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Illryia has come to the same conclusion: they are finished here. Time for them to leave. "Does anyone know the way to the place this Belgo is staying?" She looks around at her companions - for it seems that they are now such, given they will be travelling together - to see if they are about to mock her. "Put me on a horse anywhere within the Riddermark and I will find my way home, but this city is a maze to me."

It hurts to admit she doesn't really know what she's doing, but pretending that she did got a lot of good people killed. Maybe letting someone else take the lead would be sensible.


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Bergur nods, relieved. Not at the answer, (which was really just a more polite version of Morwen's 'it's not your place to ask'), but at the way Sir Varin responded. No hesitation, no manufactured outrage to discourage any further inquiries, and no sign of a lie that he could tell.

Perhaps everything is as it seems: a man taking advantage of the chance to do a friend a favor.

He bows. "Thank you very much for your time and your trust, Sir Varin. We will ensure the safety of both Belgo and the King's gift to Master Brandybuck. Do you have the gift here, or should we recover it some other time? Also, is there some token we should bring to Belgo to prove that we have been tasked with escorting him?"


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry listens to his companions, realising that they have insights that he entirely missed.

I was right to put faith in them!

As the meeting breaks up, he says:

"Sir Varin, thank you for your time and your trust!"


Scribe of Middle-Earth

Sir Varin suggests that you return in the morning to collect the King's gift. "After all, I assume you will be staying in town tonight for the five-year anniversary of the Dragon's fall! After all, they say the King under the Mountain and the King of the Elf-woods will be attending. What a spectacle it promises to be!"

He promises to send a messenger to Belgo to let him know to expect you.

With that, you are out of the palace and at your own disposal once more.


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

"Really?" Morwen asked with a raised eyebrow. this was something that seemed to actually peek Morwen's interest.

"Three Kings all in one place. I'm unsure if that has ever happened before." She pointed out with a slight chuckle before she is lead out of the palace with the others.


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry muses:

"That would be a rare event indeed! Perhaps after TA 861, when Eriador broke into the kingdoms of Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. But I am unsure of any actual such meeting after the civil wars..."


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Morwen seemed to shift a bit uncomfortably when this scholar mentioned the braking of Eriador. "And just what do you know of the Kingdoms?" She asked through narrowed eyes.


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Bergur casts sideways glances at his new companions as they exit the palace. A scholar, a wanderer, and one of the Rohirrim. Not the companions I expected, but fate has drawn us together for a reason.

"Are there any supplies you need to purchase before we leave on the morrow? I could take you to the suppliers used by the army." The corner of his mouth tilts up slightly. "There are unfortunately many merchants in Dale who see foreigners as an opportunity to raise the prices of their wares."

"Otherwise perhaps we could meet again for the festivities tonight. It will be a long road we travel together; we should get to know each other as much as possible."


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry muses silently for a moment then resumes answering Morwen:

"To be frank, not nearly as much as I would like. Which is part of the reason I am here. I have read Lemuel Heathertoes's 2921 of the Third Age work History of the Four Villages cover to cover several times. The great Hobbit scholar lays out evidence that traces Bree's history to a fortress and stables established on order of Eärendur, the last King of Arnor - goodness - it's *Arnor* not Eriador I had meant earlier! - for the good of travellers in 843 of the Third Age. That fortress did not survive the civil war that ensued after Eärendur's passing between his three sons that resulted in the successor kingdoms of Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur. Cardolan being the kingdom which the area known as Bree ended up within."

When Bergur makes a suggestion, Harry lights up:

"But of course! So many stories to share! I think I am in good order for the road, thank you."


Scribe of Middle-Earth

After making whatever purchases you require at the suppliers recommended by Bergur, you regroup in the afternoon and make your way to The Archer's Mark tavern to meet this acquaintance of Sir Varin.

Let me know what - if anything - you are buying and mark off from your stash of coins. (Rope is definitely a good idea. Ask Sam Gamgee.)

Trader's Gate is aptly named: it is the main thoroughfare through which all visitors, returning locals and others all pass in and out of Dale. Wandering merchants, itinerant traders and vagrant vagabonds all make their way to and fro, under the watchful eye of the city guards. The tavern itself is at the lower end of what could still be acceptably called middle-class: not seedy by any means, but it has seen better days. The weathered sign itself has clearly not been re-painted for some time, and inside is clean and tidy but the assorted tables and chairs, as well as the bar itself, have clearly seen much use.

It is however doing a good trade this lunchtime: the food may not be plentiful but it looks filling, and the two serving-girls move to and fro delivering full tankards of mead to the numerous customers.

The tavern-keeper is a balding, mousy fellow who blinks in surprise when you ask for Belgo - clearly the man does not receive many visitors. Hastening off to find him, he returns a few minutes later with two individuals: a sad-eyed man in his mid to late thirties, his red hair and mutton-chop whiskers turning prematurely to grey; and at his side, somewhat timidly hiding behind him, a youngish girl of perhaps ten (clearly no longer a child, but not yet a young woman either). She shares the same reddish hair as her father (there's a clear family resemblance between the two of them). Both father and daughter are dressed in good-quality clothes, although the fading and patches suggest they haven't been replaced for a while.

The man forces a smile: "I am Belgo. And you must be the group that Varin mentioned. I am grateful to find travellers willing to escort someone through Mirkwood so close to Winter." He gives a bow of greeting. "This is my daughter, Halla - give these nice people a curtsy, dear - perhaps we could sit and get to know one another? We are likely to be travelling together for some time, after all."

Moving to an unoccupied corner table, he pulls a chair out for himself and his daughter. Halla is clearly wishing she were somewhere else, but she does as her father instructs, and gives you a curtsy before sitting down. She gives you all a solemn look, her gaze lingering on Morwen and Illyria.

Belgo forces another smile. "Let me buy these drinks - and lunch, if you have not eaten yet?"


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Illyria notices Morwen's discomfort when Harry raises the topic of Kings, but most of the scholar's explanation flies over her head. Northern Rhovanion is enough of a mystery to her, and the history of Eriador is several closed books in a locked library.

She's glad enough when the lad Bregur takes the lead and suggests that they get equipped. "That makes sense. Who knows when we'll be around a trader again."

I've put a discussion on shopping into the discussion thread to avoid clogging this one up with metagaming.

She would never have found the tavern on her own, despite the fact it's near the gate she came in through. This city and its stone streets and high stone buildings is playing havoc with her sense of direction. It feels like an age since she last saw the horizon.

By the time she gets to the tavern, she's starving. Those few pastries seem a long time ago. She nods when Belgo introduces himself, but she gives a very slight curtsey to return his daughter's greeting. "Thank you for the offer. I'll gladly have lunch, breakfast was a long time ago. I am Illyria and this is Harry, Bregur and Morwen." She's willing to let the others do most of the talking, it's not really her thing.

Charisma, Belgo: 1d20 ⇒ 9

When she notices the girl's gaze lingering on her, she gives Halla a smile and a quick wink.

Charisma, Halla: 1d20 ⇒ 16


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Bergur has not previously been to The Archer's Mark, but he recognizes the type. No doubt it had been built shortly after the reconstruction of Dale began. Many inns had been opened back then, only to find themselves struggling years later once the Bardings had all claimed homes of their own.

He smiles politely as Belgo approaches and offers a bow of his own. "Good afternoon, Belgo. I am Bergur." His eyes flick over the pair, analyzing, and many things snap into place. A daughter but no wife. The sadness on their faces and the way she's looking at Morwen and Illyria...they must have lost her. Perhaps recently, or perhaps when the dragon attacked. The anniversary was a time of celebration, but it was also a time of mourning. Many lives had been lost that day.

"I will gratefully accept your offer of lunch. It has been rather a while since breakfast." Bergur takes a seat, deliberately picking one that puts his back toward a wall. "Sir Varin said that you were on good terms with the elves of Mirkwood. Have you traveled often through the forest?"


Scribe of Middle-Earth
Bergur, Son of Ragni wrote:
"I will gratefully accept your offer of lunch. It has been rather a while since breakfast." Bergur takes a seat, deliberately picking one that puts his back toward a wall. "Sir Varin said that you were on good terms with the elves of Mirkwood. Have you traveled often through the forest?"

Belgo shakes his head firmly. "No, I have never had to go through that forest before. When we lived in Esgaroth, I was a lumber-merchant - I have a small amount of the Elven language, and between that and my wife's family connections I ran most of the lumber consortium, buying from the Elves of Mirkwood and selling it in Lake-Town. But the Elves would fell the timber and raft it down to the edge of the marshes, so I never had to go into the forest. But I am assured of a welcome at the Elvenking's court, I have a letter to prove it." He speaks quietly, but with a certain dignity: from his clothing and manner he has clearly fallen on hard times, but it's not hard to believe he is someone who once traded with the Elves.

Illyria of Rohan wrote:
When she notices the girl's gaze lingering on her, she gives Halla a smile and a quick wink.

Halla stares at Illyria solemnly for a second, before giving a small, quick, smile. Then a curious stare at the Rohirrim's braids: "What happened to your hair? Did it get too knotted? I know mine gets really bad if I don't brush it often enough."

Her father gives her a quick, startled glance, obviously surprised to see her talking to a stranger; he gives Illyria an embarrassed smile, but doesn't say anything.


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

"I've everything I need." Morwen stated. "I carry pretty much all I need on me." She added when she answered Bergur's question.

When they met up woth Belgo and his daughter, Morwen seemed to soften a bit. "How did you get in contact with the Elvenking's court?" Morwen asked curiously. "And if the Elvenking is going to be here for the anniversary why not just go with his group?"


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

As Harry enters The Archer's Mark, his gaze keeps moving about, taking it all in as he usually does.

It is all he can do not to just pull out paper and write notes about the day.

When the group meets Belgo - and Halla - he stays quiet for some moments.

The poor family!

He then realises that he hasn't answered the man!

"Good afternoon, Belgo and Halla. I am Harry Kettlegrass, of Bree, a scholar from Breeland. I would love to have lunch and beverages and get you to know you both better!"

He listens intently to the talk back and forth.

Insight: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (12) + 5 = 17


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

If Illyria is surprised by the blunt question, she doesn't show it. "I knotted it myself. It's a custom where I come from. I have to undo it and brush my hair out each morning to re-braid it. Maybe if you wake up early enough in the morning I will show you."


Scribe of Middle-Earth
Morwen of House Isildur wrote:
When they met up woth Belgo and his daughter, Morwen seemed to soften a bit. "How did you get in contact with the Elvenking's court?" Morwen asked curiously. "And if the Elvenking is going to be here for the anniversary why not just go with his group?"

The trader shakes his head. "I'm not in contact with the Elvenking at all! His court moves far above the circles I am in - especially these days," he adds with a sad smile. "One of the Elven timber-merchants I traded with on the shores of the Lake is now the master of the Elvenking's cellars. Lindar is his name - he wrote to me recently to assure me that our friendship was still in good standing, even if my credit is not." This with a sour twist of his mouth.

Harry:
You pick up on the sense of loss - it's clear that both father and daughter have been bereaved recently. You don't get the sense that Belgo is hiding anything from you. He's pleasantly surprised that you aren't the usual run-of-the mill sellswords/mercenaries that he was worried he might have to deal with.

Let me know if there was anything else you wanted insight into.

Illyria of Rohan wrote:
If Illyria is surprised by the blunt question, she doesn't show it. "I knotted it myself. It's a custom where I come from. I have to undo it and brush my hair out each morning to re-braid it. Maybe if you wake up early enough in the morning I will show you."

Halla's eyes gleam. "I get up very early." Her father gives a slight laugh, ruffling her hair. "That she does. You may want to be careful what you offer."

As the conversation progresses, he relaxes his guard a little and by the end of lunch, he has clearly decided to accept you as his escort (not that he has much choice: Dale isn't exactly brimming with people willing to brave Mirkwood in Winter). It certainly doesn't hurt that Illyria has made an effort to befriend Halla.

"Will you join the two of us for the celebrations tonight - unless you have other plans, of course?"


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry nods.

"I think that you have been true with us, Master Belgo. I look forward to hearing more tales of your dealings with the elves, if you are willing to tell them tonight and during the trip."


Male Barding Treasure Hunter 1 | HP: 9/9 | AC 14 | Perception +4 | Initiative +3 | Insight +6 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +1

Bergur sits quietly, mentally taking notes. He's grateful to allow Harry to guide much of the conversation; while he certainly capable of talking to people, he prefers to listen.

"To be able to claim friendship with the Elves is a rare and valuable thing, even in these days of open trade." Bergur takes a sip of his ale. "It is fortunate that you have been able to maintain those connections. They should serve you well in your future endeavors."

"I would be happy to join you and your daughter for the celebrations this evening."


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Scribe of Middle-Earth
Bergur, Son of Ragni wrote:
"To be able to claim friendship with the Elves is a rare and valuable thing, even in these days of open trade." Bergur takes a sip of his ale. "It is fortunate that you have been able to maintain those connections. They should serve you well in your future endeavors."

Belgo gives a wry smile that isn't really a smile. "Let us hope so."

You agree to return to The Archer's Mark that evening and proceed to the festivities together.

If anyone wants to do anything between lunch and evening let me know and we'll retcon it

It is no understatement to say that all of Dale has been awaiting these festivities: almost every citizen, plus a throng of out-of-towners, crowds the streets leading into the main square in front of the Palace. Tables are set up on every avenue and courtyard, and every inch of space in the main square. Being relative nobodies, you don't get into the main square at all, but manage to secure some space at a table which does afford you some view of it. King Bard has opened his treasury doors, and a vast feast is provided for all who attend: an entire bevy of pigs, sheep, cows and deer must have been slaughtered to ensure an almost endless procession of vast platters brimming with cuts of roast meat, gravy and vegetables. There is mead, and even some wine from Dorwinion for those with a taste for such living (most people accustomed to mead find red wine to be too sour).

As the evening progresses and the food is consumed, various groups around the tables find their own forms of entertainment: story-telling, boasting contests, riddles; for those of a less cerebral inclination, there are drinking contests and wrestling matches. Of course, there is no obligation to take part - every endeavour needs its cheering spectators, after all!

Storytelling/Boasting/Riddle contests:
Make 5 rolls of the appropriate skill (performance, deception, riddle) and roleplay it out

Drinking/Wrestling:
Make 5 Con saves or 5 Athletics rolls

As night falls, coal braziers are brought out to ward off the November chill, and the festivities continue. Halla stifles several yawns, but insists she's not tired; it's well past her bed-time but her father indulges her this once. Once the food is well and truly consumed, and the plates are cleared away, a gong strikes and in its reverberations, silence falls over the crowd. King Bard ascends to a balcony on the Palace, overlooking the square. With him are two figures, regal and otherwordly in their resplendent garb: the rumours are true, and both the Elfking and the King Under the Mountain have come to pay their respects and renew their friendships. Or at least, so you assume: many speeches are made and there is much cheering, but from where you are sitting the voices do not carry.

'what did he say? blessed are the cheesemakers?'

There is no mistaking the gesture however when King Bard clasps the arms of both Elf and Dwarf, and the three of them bow solemnly to the assembled crowd, before taking their leave indoors (doubtless to discuss matters of great import), to resounding cheers from the populace. Once the nobility have departed, the festivities begin again in earnest, with hot mugs of spiced fortified mead and trays of sweet cakes being passed around under the glitter and crash of the fireworks of Dale.

Finally, the proceedings are brought to a close when a tall figure, venerable and cowled in a grey cloak, appears on the balcony where the three Kings stood. He does not speak, but throws his arms upwards, and high above in the cold, clear night sky, a flaming, winged apparition descends down towards the town.

(Halla gives a squeak and disappears under the table. A number of those present look like they might wish to do the same.)

Red wings and a fearsome, flaming roar trail and spiral through the sky, descending ever more speedily - before a dark shape speeds upwards just as fast, striking the enormous thing in its chest.

There is a vast, thunderous explosion and a myriad, myriad sparkling starbursts of every colour trail across the sky.

The silence that descends indicates that the party is over.


Female Rohirrim Slayer 1 | 13 HP | AC 15 | Perception +4 | Initiative +2 | Insight +4 | Wis save +2 | Con save +3 | Portrait

Illyria isn't one for speeches much anyway, so not being in earshot of the Kings is no big deal. (Although anyone paying attention to her will spot the occasional glance she gives to the bronze band clasped around her left arm.)

The food is excellent, especially after so many days and weeks spent in the saddle to get here. The mead is ok, but not the sort of thing she really wants to gulp down. She gives a broad grin when the wrestling matches start up. "That's my kind of entertainment!"

rolls:

Athletics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Athletics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Athletics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Athletics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Athletics: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23

When she returns to the table, she's clearly much happier, flushed and breathing hard from her exercise. She's obviously given far, far better than she got. But she expected no less. These Northern city-dwellers seem a bit soft to her. She digs back into her food with eagerness.

The firework finale leaves her speechless. She doesn't duck under the table like Halla does, but she's aware at the end that she's just standing there with her mouth open, gawping like some dumb yokel.

She hastily clamps her lips together and looks around. Maybe it's the dark, maybe it's the mead, maybe it's just her unfamiliarity with cities, but she's completely disoriented. She looks at her companions. "Any of you tell me where the Roaring Welcome tavern is? These streets all look the same to me."


Abilities:
Healing Dice (d8): 1/1 | | | |
Male Bree Scholar 1 | HP 8/8 | AC 11 | HD 1/1 1d8+0 | Insp. 1/3 | Per +5 | Ins +5 | Init: +0 | Saves STR +0 DEX +0 CON +0 INT +5 WIS +5 CHA +1 | Spd 30 | Effects:

Harry is absolutely delighted with the spectacle. The sights! The sounds! The fine meats! The tongue-striking vine-juice!

And of course, the riddles. Once he realises that riddle contests are ongoing, Harry makes a beeline. He tries to just listen for a while but his enthuasism gets away with him and he speaks up when he gets a chance, the first of several back-and-forth effots on his part.

"Light brings me to life, but darkness kills me. What am I?"

OOC/Rolls:

Riddle: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Riddle: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Riddle: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (9) + 5 = 14
Riddle: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
Riddle: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16

Some times later, he wraps up with:

"At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?"

When the firework finale comes, Harry gawps. Then cheers, clapping wildly!


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

Rolls:
Athletics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
Athletics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (18) + 3 = 21
Athletics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
Athletics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (19) + 3 = 22
Athletics: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20

To say that things such as this were not the place Morwen would prefer to be was an understatement. Her people never gathered in so many numbers like this... So it sent Morwen on great edge.

The food and drink was welcomed however, being able to eat without worry about the place around her. She found the red wine sour yet she liked that. Maybe it was the wine or maybe it was because Morwen wished to show what she could do, but she did join the Wrestling along side Illyria.

When the fireworks went off she flinched greatly till the lights lit up the sky and she settled back into her more stoic nature. However she seemed even more unnerved when the grey figure seemed to send upon them a massive winged creature. To the point she thought the small child had the right idea! When it trails across the sky, Morwen visibly settles down.

With the end of the festivities, Morwen makes her way through Dale seeking the [i[The Archer's Mark[/i].


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Scribe of Middle-Earth

Illyria (and to a lesser extent Morwen) are devastatingly successful in their bouts. The redheaded Dúnedain is bested only twice, both times by a vast man with a barrel-chest covered in a coarse blonde beard that falls almost to his waist. The same opponent grapples with the braided Rohirrim, but Illyria slips out of his grasp and the two of them fight one another to a draw, to the cheers of the assembled crowd.

Morwen gains 1 point Inspiration; Illyria gains 2 points Inspiration

Harry's initial riddles are met with some puzzlement ("Candle?"), but are eventually guessed as "Shadow!" and "Stars!" respectively. However, the Bree-lander reaches deep into his memory and quickly pulls out half a dozen more, each more fiendishly difficult than the last, and the crowd has to eventually concede that they are out-witted.

Harry gains 1 point Inspiration

You eventually make your way through the crowded streets and to bed, early to rise the next morning.

23 November 2946

A foggy, dank morning greets you - this late in the year, the sun will not rise for some hours yet. In the quiet hushed way of those rising so long before dawn, you proceed towards Trader's Gate to rendezvous with Belgo and his daughter, who is still tousle-headed and sleepy after being up so long past her bedtime last night.

Belgo's goods and belongings are loaded upon the back of four rather mournful-looking ponies. They whicker nervously as Illyria's great horse passes them by, and shuffle their hooves out of the stallion's path. Belgo himself wrestles with a map of the region. "Right, we are here." His finger stabs at the mark representing the city of Dale. "I have arranged to meet with our Elven companions here, on the edge of the river." His finger points at your destination. "It seems to me that we are best going around the Long Marshes, although it may add to our journey slightly." His finger traces the proposed route and he looks at you for approval.

Map updated to show where you are going and the proposed path (you may need to zoom in to see it properly!)

STATUS:

HIT POINTS

B 9/9
H 8/8
I 13/13
M 12/12
O 14/14

INSPIRATION

B 0
H 1
I 2
M 1
O 0

SHADOW (P)

B 0(0)
H 0(0)
I 0(0)
M 0(0)
O 0(0)

CONDITIONS

B
H
I
M
O


Female Dúnedain Wanderer 1 | HP: 12/12 | AC 15 | Perception +3 | Initiative +3 | Insight +4 | Wis Save +2 | Con Save +4

"Never do you want to pass through marshes." Morwen spoke up as she looked at the map over his shoulder. "Even more so this close to winter, some areas will freeze over while others will still be watery but have the top frozen over. You're more likely to get lost and misstep into the waters." She explained. "Some times you are forced to do it but we're not, for the moment. Plus trying to take animals through a marsh is a headache." She added with a shrug. "So yes, going around the marsh is the best idea."

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