We rejoin our heroes, their liege, and her retinue atop a mountain deep in Mordor, embroiled in battle.
A Ring-wraith throwing fireballs is in the base of the nearby tower, and the four soldiers who have breached the gate there enter after him.
Along the path threading by it, a pair of soldiers assaults the ruined building opposite, attempting to root out the sniper within. One stands in the building’s entrance, firing his crossbow into the ruins; the other tries to peer through the flames which Smial’s Molotov started.
On the raised and cobbled platform, Guthwyn and Thaliondor* square off against the formerly dead lieutenant (“FDL”), while Rene, Alfirin, and another female soldier continue to battle with the blinded Nazgul. Rene’s fighting ability has become seriously impaired, however, as the Nazgul has Dazed him. Nwalme, the Empress, Araphor, and Smial meanwhile make their way along the path to the platform.
Nwalme is close enough to note that Rene has been Dazed, and so casts Spasm on Rene’s backside to snap him out of it. (Rene maintains bowel control.) Once Rene is awakened, Nwalme turns back to heal the soldier who had been blown away from the tower by a fireball.
The platform fight has a few frustrating rounds for our heroes. Guthwyn cannot seem to land a blow on the FDL for all his parrying, and Thaliondor ends up switching to his heavy flail in order to get past the FDL’s armor when he does hit. The Nazgul, meanwhile, has created some sort of force field around himself. While Alfirin and Rene are trying to target the Black Rider’s ring hand, they notice their weapons stopping short a few inches before coming into contact with their victim.
The Ring-wraith attempts to escape while his shield protects him,and Rene slams him – or rather, tries to. He connects with the Nazgul, but fails to knock him down. While the female soldier continues her assault on the Black Rider, Rene suddenly changes course. He hands his anti-Nazgul sword to Alfirin, and turns away to run back to the Empress.
Off near the tower, Nwalme performs a perfect Healing on the fallen soldier, who quite literally springs to his feet. Inside the tower, the battle rages on, and a large flash of a fireball is visible through the arrow slits and breached door at its base. Two soldiers, their clothes smoking and flaming, emerge and make their way around the path toward the platform.
The fight with the FDL takes a turn for the worse, as well, as he strikes Guthwyn hard, causing her to drop her weapon. Meanwhile, Rene swiftly approaches the Empress, who has just reached the platform with Araphor. Araphor takes note of the odd behavior from Rene, and protects the Empress by tackling her, landing atop her to shield her from Rene’s blades.
Alfirin manages to ready the anti-Nazgul sword after somehow awkwardly holding both it and her normal sword in the same hand for a split second. Guthwyn also manages to recover and ready her weapon. She strikes at the FDL, crippling his weapon hand with a well-placed blow. The FDL immediately retaliates by punching her solidly in the face with his off hand.
Rene, meanwhile, attacks the fallen Empress, his choices limited by the fact that Araphor is covering most of her with his body. He makes a deeply biting sweep of the Empress’s legs, in what might well have been a fatal stroke if a more vital target had been reachable.
Off by the tower, the Nazgul within emerges, and tosses a fireball at Nwalme, hitting him squarely. The Black Rider then turns and launches itself off a 120-foot sheer cliff, picks itself up at the bottom, and starts running away.
From within the ruined building, a crossbow bolt comes whistling out of the flames at the soldiers, but does not hit anyone.
Araphor cries out that Rene has been enchanted, and the Empress must be defended from him. Suddenly, Smial comes barreling up the stairs to the platform, and slams into Rene, knocking him down.
Back on the center of the platform, Alfirin cleaves off the blinded Nazgul’s ring hand. With an unearthly scream, the Ring-wraith collapses – and Rene is released from its hold. Rene immediately calls out for Nwalme to heal the Empress, and tries to crawl away from Smial.
Alfirin continues to hack at the Nazgul until it stops moving, deflating into a pile of tattered black clothes. While she does, Smial tries to disarm Rene by kicking at his sword arm. Rene, trying to keep his sword in hand, parries with the flat of its blade, all the while trying to convince Smial that he is no longer under the control of the Ring-wraith.
The FDL, meanwhile, desperately grapples Guthwyn’s sword arm, preventing her from attacking him further. Smial turns away from Rene, and sends a crossbow bolt singing into the FDL’s chest, knocking him unconscious.
Araphor arises to turn his attention to the FDL, but finds him unconscious in Guthwyn’s arms, and declines to attack. While the Empress heals herself, Alfirin secretly pockets the Ring of Power from the fallen Nazgul.
The two men who had been assaulting the ruined building emerge from it, a captive in tow. They cry out that the have captured the Usurper, and the Empress turns and heads down along the path to join them.
Guthwyn slits the FDL’s throat, and drops him to the ground. Smial immediately grabs the man’s ring hand, which having been nearly separated from his arm by Guthwyn’s blade, comes off.
As the Empress goes to confront the villain, Araphor plants himselfat the top of the stairs to the platform, and insists on accounting for the Rings of Power from the fallen foes. Smial clearly has the one from the FDL, but the one from the deflated Ring-wraith has not been revealed. Nwalme, having arrived at the platform, uses his Truthsayer spell on the three who had been fighting the Nazgul, starting with Rene. Once Rene has been cleared, he tries to go after the Usurper, but Araphor continues to deny him egress from the platform until the remaining Ring is brought to light.
Nwalme soon discovers that Alfirin has the Ring, but that she will not willingly give it up. He calls upon the Empress for help, and she forces Alfirin to drop the Ring, so that Smial can take it up.
Once the Rings are accounted for, everyone goes to the captive Usurper, to begin questioning him. Rene is most eager to help with any persuasion, but Nwalme has it well in hand.
The Usurper relates the story of the recovery of six of the nine Rings of Power belonging to humans. More importantly – and more surprisingly – he reveals that Sauron has managed to manifest once again, although in a considerably weaker state than he was in the days before Aragorn claimed the throne of Gondor. Thus the Mouth of the High King is actually the Mouth of Sauron. While he wears no Ring of Power, he is a powerful wielder of magicks, particularly necromancy. He and the Nazgul who escaped via the portal have rejoined Sauron in his lair somewhere in the distant east.
At this time, the party can account for the six remaining Rings of Power as follows:
Four in Smial’s bag, from:
- Braga the Artificer ( see log #1, “The story so far…” )
- Thaliondor/FDL ( see “Thaliondor, One-Handed” 2000-11-17 )
- the Witch-Queen of Angmar ( see log #1 )
- the Nazgul that was just defeated on the mountaintop
It is assumed that while in Mordor, the party will cast these four Rings into Mt. Doom.
- One on the Black Rider who just jumped off the cliff and escaped
- One on the Ring-wraith who just escaped through the portal