Middle Earth: Sunset of the Fourth Age

Anticipation

...that is, *they* have anticipated *us*...

We find our heroes in the forest, wrapping up the interrogation of a hostile Huregoth scout. It’s taken some time, as the elf views all but Nwalme as unworthy of his presence, and Nwalme as a traitor to the elven race.

The squad then considers how to proceed. It’s clear that they need to get to the artifact that affects the Huregoths’ racial magic, but it’s not clear how they can.

While Strongwülf argues for a quick strike to seize the key tents, Araphor counsels that against elves in the forest, this tactic is futile. In a similar vein, sneaking in is not an option – especially since they’re aware that we’ve found them.

After much discussion, Nwalme casts Seeker to hone in on the artifact, using the captive as the connection. It’s clearly in the Blue Wizard’s tent, but that’s about all he could get from the spell.

There is a brief discussion about the possibility of destroying the Wizard’s staff, but Nwalme doesn’t think it’s a useful thing to do at this point, especially as it may alert said Wizard.

As we talk, Nwalme notices someone – clearly another scout – watching the party, about 500 yards away. Nwalme decides to Teleport to him and take him out. He pops in right behind the elf – and immediately notices another two about a hundred yards away. He attacks the scout, Deathtouching him twice to devastating effect; the elf falls dead to the forest floor.

Nwalme teleports back to the group to report. As we scramble to leave, everyone can see five scouts in a semicircle around us (with a gap where the sixth should be). The way back to the castle, fortunately, is relatively open.

Araphor lends strength to Nwalme so that he won’t be dragging from fatigue as the party mounts up to return to the castle. At the first mention of leaving, Strongwülf quickly slits the throat of our captive, dropping him dead to the ground. Surprised (to say the least), the rest of the party holds their tongues as they’ve no time to lose.

They ride. The elves run, three staying parallel to our heroes, but never engaging. Bo shoots one of the elves, who goes down and doesn’t get back up. The other elves slow, and we pull ahead. The party easily reaches the safety of the castle.

At the castle, the Araphor and Guthwyn give Strongwülf a stern dressing-down for his behavior. Executing prisoners of war – at least, the non-spellcasting kind – is not how the Empress Guard operates. We discuss possible punishments for Strongwülf. Nwalme wants to be posted by his side while he sleeps, but Guthwyn argues against disrupting his sleep, because it would make him even dumber. Nwalme eventually concedes.

Through Stormdancer, Araphor sees that the Huregoth camp is now abandoned, with only some of the tents and equipment remaining.

As a nearly-exhausted Stormdancer returns to Araphor, she sees two groups of Huregoth. One group is south of the path we took, and includes three mages and five light fighters or scouts. The other was taking the path away from us, toward where the four other clans are encamped. Neither group seem to be carrying the camp equipment.

Nwalme casts another Seeker using the assassin’s knife to find the Prince, seeing him in the Huregoth’s southern main camp. Clearly a good portion of the northern camp came with him, as this camp is teeming with Huregoth.

Araphor suggests that since the four clans greatly outnumber the Huregoth, we should try to enlist their help in fighting those eerie elves. It’s not clear whether we can convince them that the assassin who killed their clan leader was sent by the Huregoth, but if we can we stand a good chance of gaining their alliance at least temporarily.

Nwalme retrieves the Blue Wizard’s staff, and the group heads toward the four clans’ camp on horseback, using the main east-west road rather than the forest trails. On the way, a group of elves —with the Blue Wizard— suddenly rise up to ambush them! Four mages stand beside the maia in the road, flanking him in twos, while archers rise from the grasses along either side of the highway.

Guthwyn, as the leading horse, lowers her lance and charges. Araphor and the bodyguards follow right behind, brandishing their weapons. (Araphor has no lance, but fast-draws his broadsword.) Nwalme also rides forward, Bo close alongside him. Nwalme attempts to Toss the Blue Wizard, but it doesn’t work. Still, the Blue Wizard seems a bit unsteady and annoyed.

The archers shoot. Three hit Guthwyn, but only one arrow gets a scratch through her armor. Guthwyn’s female bodyguard takes an arrow solidly and painfully to the side. Bo and Nwalme each shrug off an arrow harmlessly, and Araphor is surprised that fate is kind, not a single arrow touching him.

Nwalme again unsuccessfully attempts to Toss the maia, as the galloping party closes the distance to him and his mages.

As the leading horses approach the wizard in the road, a river begins to form across it, separating them from the maia and his cohorts. Luckily, they all notice and jump over it, barely breaking stride. Guthwyn lances one mage with a beautiful hit, killing him immediately as she follows through and past the maia. Strongwülf goes berserk, and also attacks the maia with his axe, pulling up alongside the wizard as the maia dodges his swing. Sans Nomenclature (Guthwyn’s other bodguard) attacks another mage, who also dodges.

Araphor swings forcefully at another mage, landing a solid blow as he rides by. The spellcaster is apparently of stern stuff, however, and remains standing. Bo fires an arrow at the maia, but barely scratches him.

Again the archers fire, concentrating on the rear half of the charge. Strongwülf suffers a nick from one projectile, but Bo and Nwalme both take several hits. Bo keeps his horse, but Nwalme slumps unconscious from the saddle, landing in the road atop the wizard’s staff only a yard or two past the riverlet.

The leading horses begin to turn around…

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