Wednesday, November 6, 2013

K18 - Cold rain over Mirkwood

This session introduced our new PCs and se the stage for the next chapter of the campaign. 

The dust is settling over Browek Bridge

At the end of the last session, the Mirkwood elves had learned from the dwarves that there was an orc nest with live elven sacrifice deep underground. Gormiel, the leader of the elves, managed to secure one of the key from Khazek. Four of them entered Sarn Goriwig, four accompanied the dwarves back to Browek Bridge while two other remained at large. After a few hours of grueling hiking, the orb was safe within the dwarf fort. 

On the following day, Drolf appropriated the second key of Sarn Goriwig and handed it to Gror. Drolf announced that the Ardacer was to leave to open the road while Gror would stay behind to hold the bridge. Gror, worried about giant spiders and orcs, ordered the Ledge-Lot to close the perimeter and the rangers to take stock of the surroundings. Gror's hold on the troop was very good (MoS 3), and his defensive plan excellent (MoS 3). The combination of patrols by the rangers and his own axmen allowed him to build a precise mental map of the surroundings (Intelligence Analysis, critical success).  The bulk of the orcs had melted away soon after their expedition within the tower. The reasons of this scattering was unknown, but probably related to the death of the wizard. 

Khazek, now solely at the head of 21 rangers, launched into increasingly far reaching patrols. His command of the troop was adequate (MoS 0), his tracking effort highly effective (MoS 7), which was instrumental in providing Gror with a clear situational awareness. About a few days later, Gormiel linked with the ranger. The tower was sealed, and elven wraiths were haunting it for now. Khazek realized that Gormiel was uncomfortable with the situation. Gormiel told Khazek that Prince Imeptanen was on his way to Browek Bridge to resolve the dispute over the ownership of the orb and the tower.   

Bain gets Farin to say "uncle"

Meanwhile, the Emerald had left Erebor and was making good time to Mirkwood. The weather was rotten, cold and with a relentless rain. Most of the dwarves units were not trained for open-sky operations and took traveling hard. Bain, seeing the situation degrading, got Tov to perform ritual chants with each of the attacks of the Emerald (Leadership, MoS 4). A lot of the grumpiness was caused by Farin II's high pace of travel. Farin, as nominal general for the Unit, had placed himself at the head of the train but was progressing so fast that he was detaching from the main body. Evidently, his gusto and leadership wasn't propagating along the train.

One morning Bain snapped: he donned his armor and sped ahead to catch up with Farin's Gold-Attack. He was accompanied by Thordar, his right hand. When the pair arrived near the Gold HQ, Thordar split and left Bain alone to enter the command tent. Bain found Farin carousing with officers and friends. Bain joined them and spent a little time taking stock of the commander (Psychology, critical success). Farin was relaxed and an open book. Bain, now pretty certain that Farin could be made to toe the line with the right words, sternly laid out the Emerald's difficulties and exposed to him his failure as force commander. Farin was left speechless, completely cowed by the Viceroy (Leadership, critical success). Not only Farin apologized, but he ordered immediately to stand down for a day and prepare food and shelter for the attacks rushing to keep up. 

Thordar takes a setback like a man (that he is)

While Bain was giving an arse-chewing to Farin, Thordar started to look around for his agent that went missing. Emerek was tasked to keep tab on Farin's HQ. Emerek had found a way to cook for the HQ. Thordar found the cooking fire and joined the crew that was, oddly, trying to smoke tree bark with their pipes. Thordar called them "ladies" as he reached for a cup of ale ( Carousing, modified by his machismo OPH, MoF -2) and got the cooks frowning. He apologized and eased the tension (Diplomacy MoS 4) and seated himself. The Gold-Attack's cooks were crude and held inane conversations. Thordar asked for Emerek. He got a cold response, was met with suspicion. Thordar eventually lost patience and flashed his smallsword to the cooks. The dwarves noticed a hint of madness in his eyes and softened their stance (Intimidation, MoS 2).  One of them told Thordar that they had nothing to the with "whatever happened" to Emerek. In hope to get rid of the troublesome intruder, he added that someone at HQ should know about Emerek. Thordar, on the brink of giving way to his bloodlust, smiled and left the bark-smoking rabble. 

By the time the Thordar got to the command tent, Farin already looked like a toddler with his hand stuck in the cookie jar. Thordar asked Bain whether Farin had mentioned anything about a missing dwarf. Bain shrugged. Thordar noticed that Farin's chronicler, an odd-looking eastern dwarf, was paying close attention to his arrival. By them Bain was theatrically uttering the closing remarks of his "pep-talk" as he stormed out of the tent. Thordar followed. 

In the following days, Thordar concluded that Emerek was gone. He tried to locate one of his agent assigned to the Steel-Attack, but in vain (Contact check, failed). In last resort, he pleaded to Varyk, an Herd-Lot in the Gold-Attack, but didn't manage to draw the warrior from the bustle of his duties. Thordar had lost a good agent and ran out of options to replace him. Farin's HQ was now as silent as the dark side of the moon (as they say in Erebor, oddly enough).

The Viceroy and his retinue enters Browek Bridge

The chance encounter happened 20 km to the East of Browek Bridge. Khazek and a few rangers were probing for tracks of orcs and spiders when they smelled the unmistakable aroma of unwashed dwarves. The scouts of the Gold-Attack met with them. Khazek bypassed the spearhead and headed down in hope to find the Viceroy. Khazek updated Bain on the situation. Gesdrek was particularly interested by the news of the Obsidian tower and Yavanna's eye. Gesdrek remembered having wandered underneath this tower during his time in the underdeep. The tower, a volcanic spire had partially collpased and couldn't be used as a gate to the outside world at that time. He remembered that the obsidian of the tower caused inordinate amount of bleeding if it was to cut the skin. He had been told that the tower itself was ladden with traps. Under the tower, he remembered the way to Misty mountain as a pulsating wave kept on drawing the living towards Kahzad-dum. The air was barely breathable, but nothing that a war chanter and a large group of dwarves couldn't handle with a manly song. 

Bain and his retinue rushed forward and entered Browek Bridge by the end of the following day.  Bain reviewed the site and praised with gusto his son for running the show with such mastery. Off the side of the road, there was only one burial site due to marauding by the giant spiders. Bain ordered Gror to coordinate with Farin so as to get the area cleared. 

Gesdrek insisted in having a close look at Yavanna's eye. The lore was that the eye was a Palantir made to keep watch over the great forest (Hard hidden Lore check, Mos 6).  Goldo weighed in that it once belonged to King Thrandhuil and had been stolen from the elves a long time ago (History check, MoS 2). 

While the Emerald caught up with the Viceroy, Gresdrek requested to be left alone to study the eye. Bain suggested that Lathmelen, Queen Ildamadui's niece, be included in the study. Gesdrek first discounted the young elf, but she proved rather useful. They discovered together how to use the eye to scry into distances. He found out that they could speak through the device, but couldn't listen. Finally, Lathmelen discovered that she could project her elven magic through the eye. This artifact definitely was a very valuable and useful device (Thaumatology check, assisted, MoS 4).

Prince Imeptanen lays claim on... everything

A mere week later, the dwarves of the Emerald were well rested and eager to move on. There was a rumour that the dwarves had captured a tower and that they'd be moving in very soon. However, another rumor claimed that the elves had stolen the key and had them shut out into the rain indefinitely.

It is under these circumstances that Khazek returned in company of Prince Imeptanen, the son of King Thrandhuil. The Prince was formal and slightly aloof. He summarized his case and layed claim on the eye and on the tower. Bain agreed that the eye shall be returned, but suggested that the time frame be in the order of a few decades. This answer didn't please the Prince who firmed up his stance.

It was decided that the Viceroy, his retinue  and the elf prince would return to Sarn Goriwig to explore the tower. They left of the following day and made their way to the Moutains of Mirkwood. The tower was quiet, a few groups of orcs were campaign nearby, but scurried into the hills as the contingent approached. Gror's and the prince's obsidian keys opened the gate.  Inside, there were a number of troll and orc bodies rotting. The contingent stepped around and made their way to the main hall, then proceeded on to the stairs leading up.

In a upper level, they found a library and a laboratory. Goldo and Lathmelen immediately started to scan for treasures. The rest of the contingent kept on climbing up the stairs until they reached a door leading to the outside. Beyond the door, there was a dormant huorn blocking the way to the top of the structure.

... and then it was quitting time. See you in two weeks! We did all this in 2 hours? With microphone troubles?

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