Thursday, September 5, 2013

047 - A journey up the Lhûn valley

The Gulf of Lhun

The Swan had entered the gulf of Lhun two days earlier and was making good progress against the current. A small elf-made craft approached the large Gondorian hulk as the harbor of Gray Haven got in sight. The elves on deck were neither friendly nor hostile, but made the whole crew uneasy. The ship attached itself and pushed a gangway up to the Swan's deck. An austere looking elf introduced himself as Alumnim, dockmaster of Mithlond, and informed the crew that Gondor was not allowed to sail passed this point.  

There was a pile-up in the leadership of the Swan as Arnadil, Galdor and the ship's captain all felt that they should address this edict. However, Arnadil had the key document: a letter from King Elessar. Arnadil introduced himself the best that he could in Sindarin, and managed to convince Alumnim to let the Swan enter the port under a number of restrictive conditions.

The Swan sailed into the harbor. On both sides were arrayed a number of ships being built to take more elves to the undying land. The Swan moored itself to a pole off the shore and a few of the crew members made it to shore with a rowboat.

A wine bar in Gray Haven

The company members to get off the ship were Kasper, Halin, Irina, Thannolf and Arnadil. Two elves chaperones were assigned to them to make sure that they "didn't get lost". For a city of this size and grandeur, Gray Haven was virtually dead. A few elves were walking about at a slow pace.

Kasper asked Arnadil to help request two pieces of laurel twigs from a gardener. They then proceeded to a library where Halin, Arnadil and Kasper split from the company. There was next to nothing to be found about the Lhun valley, and little about dragons in general. However, Arnadil found an interesting treatise on the relationship between dragons and dwarves: same life span, same maturation time, the fact that both originate from the Blue Mountains. Finally, and most interestingly, the treatise proposed that each documented rise of a dragon coincided with the apogee and rapid downfall of a dwarven nation.  Still, no information was available on Winter Drakes.

Thannolf and Irina decided to soak up the warm sun on the library's footsteps. Thannolf started to pay attention to the apparently erratic whereabouts of elves passing by [streetwise check, success]. He was looking for signs of shady business and money making opportunities. What he found instead was the location of a possible drinking hole. This was a small victory as elves do not use signage at all to announce business. Thannolf convinced Irina to enter and see what was going on in there.

The place was quiet, yet had over 15 elves sipping wine in groups of two or three. There was no barman, but a barrel of wine and a table full of crystal glasses. The chaperones entered as well. Thannolf and Irina helped themselves and tried to engage in conversations with the patrons [carousing check not successful enough]. Thannolf managed to get the chaperones to talk a bit. He got out of them that barbarians had come to Gray Haven a few weeks ago to try to acquire precious metal and gems. They were, however, denied to enter the city and had to be forcibly turned away after they tried to break through the city gate.

Meanwhile, Irina recognized someone and struck a conversation. It turned out that it was Nimrodel of Rivendell, an elf with whom she had fought alongside against Farathu. Nimrodel had returned from Rivendell to oversee the construction of the next ship. He also had been tasked by Elladan and Elrohir to keep an ear and both eyes on signs of trouble from the winter drake hatchling. Nimrodel explained that northmen from Arthon had come a few weeks ago, seeking riches. The belief was that Farathu was driving the northmen to pay tributes. This rumor corroborated with these that the company heard in Forochel last spring. Nimrodel agreed to join the company to help investigate the possible trail to Farathu's lair up the Lhun valley.

Supper with the King of the North

The company resumed their trek northward aboard the Swan up to a Northmen village called Ostock. There, they were met with surprise by a local noble calling himself the King of the North. The King claimed ascendancy to the Kings of Arthedain, and thus considered Gondor to be a close cousin. The evening was interesting in a culture shock kind of way, but a few key facts were pulled out of all the small talk. The first one was that Ostock was aware that Arthon had indeed paid tribute to Farathu. Furthermore, that the Numarii dwarves had indeed acted as tax collectors. The King confirmed that a desperate pair of Arthon hunters had attempted to trade their low quality wares for precious metal to the south, but had failed. Another interesting fact discovered was that Ostock was sourcing its ore from a dwarven nation called the Ghomarii. 

Halin managed to find out that a pair of Ghomarii traders were in the village that night. He left the party to interview them. The Ghomariis had heard of Durin's folk like Halin, but never met them in person. Halin figured out that the Ghormarii were neighbors of the Numarii but regarded them as quacks. The Numariis were convinced that dragons would bring greatness to their bloodline. They had managed to hatch a dragon egg, but the perfidious hatchling had overtaken them within a few years. As a results, an evacuation was called and Numarii women and children had trickled into the Ghomarii's homeland in the last year. Halin took this information back to the company: a picture of what was going on was starting to take shape. 

Going on horseback from here on

The Swan could no longer go up the river because of its draft. The company managed to purchase six good quality steed to continue on land. They realized that the Gondor celebin was grossly overvalued in Ostock and considered getting into the horse trading business. Halin pointed out that they could easily break their economy by buying all their horses for next to nothing, and that the company already had a bad track record at destroying cultures.

Sir Galdor and his page Mildred were tasked to lead the men on foot while the company rushed ahead. They arrived into another village called Kalt and met with the chieftain. Kalt had been besieged by Farathu in late winter but the drake had lost interest and left at about the time that the company confronted him in Mulkan.

Thannolf arrives in Arthon by midday.
Arnadil thought that it would be best to bypass Arthon and seek the Numarii home first. He proposed to cross to the west bank of the Lhun river and head for the mountains. However, before doing this, the company decided to sent Thannolf alone in a scouting mission in the beleaguered village.

Thannolf left at first light on September 12th to scope Arthon and find a way to the Gate of the Numarii homeland.

Thannolf's scouting was partially resolved in this session, but the story will have to wait for the next report.

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