Middle Earth: Sunset of the Fourth Age

Flying downhill, all snug in our handbasket

As Guthwyn leaned in to slice the throat of the female maia the sounds of the insects and birds of the plains fell silent. This was one of those moments that seemed to cause nature itself to pause. Guthwyn cut the throat of the maia and as her last breath fled from her, a bluish glowing mist rose up from the body and into the air. The silence stretched; the heroes stared. The mist flowed back toward the west, as though the maia’s spirit was reaching out to home and peace, but a breeze kicked up and the mist spread out, dissipating. A few seconds later, a cricket called, and then the symphony of nature resumed.

The consensus was that the dark elves were too dangerous. The party slit throats, except for a single prisoner under the watchful and wary eye of Bo, who delivered a punishing headblow each and every time the prisoner stirred and seemed like he might rise.

Nwalme-Anna and Araphor were too injured and too weary from their magical works to ride immediately, so the party was forced to put them in the cart with the prisoner and Bo on watch. Araphor was able to do first aid on Nwalme as they traveled.

Unsure which way to go, we made for the river, but the cart caused our heroes to have a nagging fear that they would be seen, they would be caught, and they didn’t need to imagine what their enemies would do to them.

After the first aid, Nwalme woke up and a few minutes rest was enough to get Araphor and Nwalme invigorated enough to ride on horseback under their own power. The party was able to ditch the cart and run off twelve exceedingly dim horses.

They made for a defensible location that Strongwülf knew about. There Nwalme was able to interrogate the prisoner. Nwalme’s well-known skill as the Grand Inquisitor was amply demonstrated – he was able to crack the prisoner’s resolve and a wealth of information flowed:

The prisoner was the equivalent of a colonel in the enemy forces, which meant that he had 1000 elves under his charge. (A half regiment.) His knowledge of the leadership was going to prove very useful for us. Unlike other dark elves we questioned, this prisoner was a true believer. There would be no reasoning with him and his knowledge was fought for.

At the sight of the ritual, we had been too late to stop the elves commander from going through the portal with 2,500 battle-hardened elvish troops. They were sent to the other side of the river near the castle where the Empress is currently going.

The other maia is alive and unhurt. He’s heading to a boat to cross the water and meet up with the other troops at the mouth of the river.

Speaking of the other troops: they have over 20,000 elvish troops (10 regiments, for those doing the math at home) and about a half a million orcish troops. The bulk of the orcs are still on this side of the river, bearing down on the water and the empress’s forces.

But while that is awful, that’s nothing compared to the leadership: 400 years ago their Supreme Leader went from being one of their greatest mages to someone indescribably powerful and much more ruthless and cruel. They don’t know what changed him, but they do know that their leader may be strong enough for them to conquer the West and take their rightful lands back from those that have stolen their birthright. The supreme leader has a trusted lieutenant: one of the greatest magic users that the elves have ever had. (And a magic user that specializes in spells that convince others and allow him to learn things that he would have no way of knowing.) The two leaders of the armies are always seen masked and they are always wearing grey/green robes.

Nwalme wracked his brain trying to think of anything that might have happened four hundred years ago that might have factored in or even caused the supreme leader to change, but there had been no sign of it in the west.

The enemies’ plan (at least as known by an underling like the prisoner) are to make their way west and reclaim their rightful inheritance, that had been denied them. They’ll cut off supplies, attack the Empress’ leadership, and coordinate with another attack battalion. Once the forces of the west have been defeated, they’ll give the mountains to the orcs — they so rightly deserve these for what they’ve endured — and then the dark elves will continue on to Valinor and their birthright.

Nwalme was able to cast telepathy upon the prisoner after he had been broken and ‘saw’ the elf’s memories: the supreme leader’s aura was off; it just wasn’t quite elvish. We’re thinking that this might be Sauron. The army leaders are definitely Nazghul.

At this point, Nwalme puts the prisoner to sleep and shared this information with the rest of the party. Once he’s rested from the spells he cast during the interrogation, he tries to reach out to the Empress, even though it is not the pre-arranged time. He fails, but feels a presence watching and paying attention to his attempts to communicate with the empress.

The party rode for the river, expecting hell to rain down upon them. They got to the river, they met up with the hobbits we left there. They shared that something must have happened at the mouth of the river, because there haven’t been any patrols since we left.

We know that elven forces are being sent from the Southern Greenwood as well as the Iron Mountains, but we’re not sure if the Empress was able to muster enough troops to be able to counter the dark elf forces in such a short time — the last three days.

One down...
...one to go

In the heat of battle…

Bo shoots at the wizard and hits. The maia is hurting, but maintains consciousness.
Araphor attacks and also hits.
Guthwyn attacks and hits the maia in the head.
Bad guy on cart disappeared into the cart.
Guard 1 near maia goes to swing at the maia, hit for a small amount of damage.
Guard 2 (under Bo’s direction) goes for the cart and attacks one of the bad guys still out; hits.
Blue wizard casts a spell, attempting to blow everyone away from her. [Note, last time the maia was “he” but someone got confused… Araphor, Guthwyn, and Guard 1 successfully stay alert and on their horses, but all move a few yards away and take some concussion damage. The maia moves away with great speed, attempting to escape.
E5 misses the guard.
E6 runs toward Bo.

Bo shoots E6 with a called shot to the vitals. E6 is hurt but not down.
Araphor’s superior riding skills allow him to overtake and attack and hit the maia again for significant damage.
Guthwyn’s even better riding skills also allow her to overtake the maia most handily. She swings again at the maia’s head, connecting resoundly.
The bad guy inside the cart emerges and heads toward Bo. Bo yells for help.
Guard 1 moves toward Bo.
Guard 2 disengages from the guy he was fighting (getting hit in the process) and moves toward E6 and attacks, hitting him.
Blue wizard cast another spell. A blue light surrounds Guthwyn and Araphor.
E5 tries to jump off the wagon but stumbles and falls, catching himself well enough to stand but do nothing else.
E6 disengages from Guard 2; Guard 2 swings and hit, doing decent damage.
E6 hits Bo, who tries but doesn’t dodge. [NOTE FOR JP: PICK SOME ARMOR! Why do you have only PD 1?! After this we assumed chain mail, PD 3 and DR 4]

Bo fast draws his short sword and attacks E6 – hitting VERY well! (critical success, double damage, rolled 11 – end result 27 pts of damage). E6 falls, unconscious or dead.
Araphor realizes his horse is moving very slowly; it feels as if he’s moving through jello honey. bq). [Chris: When did we come up against a Gelatinous Cube? Wrong world! ]
Araphor takes a moment to consider using a spell rather than an attack.
Guthwyn swings, but the maia dodges.
The spare elf dove under Guard 1’s horse in a beautiful acrobatic move, attacking as he moves — but does no significant damage.
Guard 1 attacks E5 and hits.
Guard 2 attacks and hits the spare elf, but not damage gets through.
Blue wizard appears to have healed herself.
E5 attacks Guard 1, who blocks.

Bo runs to attack the spare elf with his sword, but the elf acrobatically dodges.
Araphor casts Dehydrate on the blue wizard.
Guthwyn swings again and hits.
Spare elf swings at Bo, who parries.
Guard 1 attacks E5 and hits but no damage gets through.
Guard 2 attacks the spare elf, who attempts an acrobatic dodge but fails, taking significant damage and falling unconscious.
Blue Wizard does something but we don’t know what.
E5 attacks Guard 1, who dodges.

Bo runs to stab E5 and he falls.
Blue wizard’s spell goes off. The honey-air dissipates, but the blue wizard seems to have a blurry dome around her.
Araphor continues his spell for a second round.
Guthwyn tries to stab through the dome but despite a good attempt, cannot connect.
Guards 1 and 2 move toward the maia.

Araphor’s Dehydrate goes off — the spell on the water wizard does significant damage, stunning and confusing her as well as ruining her spell.
Bo sheaths his sword and prepares his bow.
Araphor begins casting another Dehydration.
Guthwyn directs Arod to rear kick the maia, which disrupts the shield but doesn’t hurt the maia.
Guard 1 hits the maia.
Guard 2 moves closer and begins to pull his bow out.
Blue wizard is recovering and has no action.

Bo moves closer.
Araphor continues casting.
Guthwyn turns Arod and stabs the maia, aiming for the head (and therefore the brain) – for significant damage, knocking her out.

Araphor’s spell does a bit more damage.

Guthwyn provides the killing blow on the unconscious maia, but we don’t know what this sets in motion…

Wearing Out Our Welcome
...yet again

Outstanding questions

  • Where were the troops being teleported to?
  • Did the maia – one of the Blue Wizards – survive the explosion?
  • And the most pressing question: how the hell are we going to get out of here and survive this?

Barely Controlled Chaos

We watch to find out the best way out of the area, expecting the hordes of Dark Elves to be upon us at any moment after we destroyed their ritual. Instead, they left in two groups. A larger group (70-100) rode toward the sea, while a smaller group (between 7 and 30) rode toward the south and the main lines. Our initial fears were that they were separating to better flank us.

Araphor used his Bird Control to conscript a bluebird (we cannot vouch for its parentage, but we were happy to see it) and cast Rider Within to get a bird’s eye view of the smaller group. Through its eyes, the source of confusion became clear. There were only four riders, a little over a dozen horses, and a covered wagon being pulled by six more horses.

As this seemed to be sufficiently interesting (and weakly defended), we decided to follow in hopes of getting answers to some of our unanswered questions. We were unable to catch up with them before sunset, but hoped that we might be able to close the distance when they stopped for the night. Unfortunately, as the darkness grew, they deployed devices that cast a blue light ahead of them, and they continued on.

At nightfall, Nwalme-Anna telepathically reached out to the Empress to fill her in on the explosion, the splitting of the dark elvish forces, and where we were heading.

Undaunted, we still closed the distance, not riding hard enough to be immediately taken as a threat. Instead we kept more of a deliberate pace, in the hope that we could possibly be considered a patrol in the same direction.

When we were close enough, the dark elves stopped and called out a greeting. Nwalme-Anna used his Gift of Tongues to grasp the dark elves’ language, as they speak a tongue unknown in the West. Nwalme was able to bluff the rider in the back and give the impression that we were just a patrol. He found that the wagon held wounded dark elves on the way to the field hospital. These elves don’t seem to know what happened; they seem to think it was a spell failure, not sabotage. Nwalme gestures to the rest of the party to slowly move up, and they do.

Once Araphor was close enough to be seen clearly in the light, the ruse was spotted and a mêlée ensued. Guthwyn displayed the impressive horsemanship for which she is renowned, lopping the head off of one of the dark elves as she rode for the head of their convoy. Once she’d circled around the front, she leaped from Arod onto the wagon and rushed across it to come down on the other side, throwing herself into combat. Bo was able to put an arrow into the eye of a raging dark elf intent on running him down. Nwalme teleported from horseback to take to the ground, the better to be able to use his patented Death Touch™ maneuver. Unfortunately, his ploy was thwarted by one of the injured elves
teleporting out of the covered wagon. The other Blue Wizard, that we had previously only heard about had taken the field and oddly, he teleported in exactly as Nwalme had just done. This lead our experienced mage to wonder if the maia could steal spells or copy those that were cast in his area. The wizard looked really the worse for wear from the explosion. But unfortunately, not so bad that Nwalme’s Death Touch™ was able to destroy him.

The surviving dark elves rallied, and some of the injured spilled out of the covered wagon and cast protections to keep the party from getting inside. Guthwyn’s personal guard weighed in along with the rest of the party on the he-maia and the dark elves. One telling moment about the power of the maia was that when one of Guthwyn’s personal guard ran the he wizard down, the horse could not, or would not, strike him. The horses’ hooves missed the maia completely as the animal ran over him. In the mêlée, Nwalme was battered unconscious, but his last thought before surrendering to darkness was to wonder why a wounded maia would be traveling south.

Repeated attacks on the wizard were enough to force him to flee. He teleported to the front of the caravan, away from where he had been attacked. Bo shouted out this new location and aimed an arrow. Guthwyn and Araphor turned their horses and charged after the wizard…

Meeting new friends, staying a spell... or disrupting one
Maia in the Middle

Nwalme continues to study the bridge stone to see what other spells he can find on it and to figure out how to use the spells that he found on there.

The first Analyze Magic lets Nwalme know about the following features:

  • it can detect all of the other stones from the stone (within a half a mile)
  • it can connect to another stone and create a 35’ of ‘bridge’ between two stones (within 500 yards)
  • the bridge section moves automatically from one end to the other (The bridge is enough to bring us 4 with our horses and 8 more. We have 5 guards for Guthwyn: 3 women/2 hobbits.)
  • it can disconnect from the other stone

We have four stones total at the moment. We don’t really want to cross at pre-determined location where the enemy is likely to be listening/watching.

Bo recommends using Stormdancer (sans stones) to do a recon flight and check the area before we go over, just to be sure that there aren’t any elves. Araphor sends her out scouting and soon we’re able to find a good secluded area on the curvy river about five miles up. The closest elf is 500 yards or so away, behind a slight rise.

At first light, we head out. Araphor uses Beast Speech to instruct Stormdancer on placing the stone, and she successfully does. Nwalme uses the stone to detect others, but only finds the one we placed nearby. He then connects to the stone, creating the moving “bridge”. Bo aims in the general direction of the guard, as they cross.

We cross without incident. Araphor wants to figure out our direction, get some cover, and then we can try to find the enemy army’s northern headquarters, which Nwalme saw in his mental interrogation of one of the enemy elves. We decide against taking out the nearby guard, to avoid alerting anyone to our presence sooner than we’d like.

To our north is a base camp, with about 500 troops; patrols are scattered throughout the rest of the area. We head east-by-northeast toward the headquarters, with Stormdancer scouting from the air to help us avoid patrols and camps. Stormdancer can see mounted troops heading toward HQ and some of their encampments, moving along paths/tracks to get there. Some of the encampments are Easterlings, elves, etc.

Each patrol is 5-6 humans with one elf. They aren’t wearing uniforms, but have some standard leather armor, clothing, etc. In order to appear as a patrol (except up close), we decided to reduce our numbers to six, and leave behind the hobbits. They plan to stay near our entry point for an hour or two just in case we need to escape much sooner than planned. They take a bridge stone so that they can get back.

Within a couple of hours – pausing to cache our bridge stones along the way – we get about two miles outside the headquarters. The HQ has four camps similar to the forward base by the river, surrounding a small town in the center, with beaten tracks connecting them to it. Stormdancer can spot a 1000-foot diameter ring in the dirt, centered on the town square.

Araphor and Stormdancer watch troops march in and set up in the middle of the ring – then vanish. Nwalme recognizes it as similar to the teleportation circle near Mount Doom through which several nazgul escape from us, in a encounter some time ago.

Araphor and Stormdancer get a really good look at the ritual and the location. There are two inner circles at the town square. One is of four pillars, between each path, with a staff-wielding elf at each path. The very center of the square contains an inlaid tile circle, upon which stands the maia, triggering the spells. We note that groups of 100 troup queue up on one of the paths into town, and are carefully kept outside the outer circle until each group is teleported away from the center.

There’s not much cover between the outer circle and the town. It would be impossible to cross while troops move constantly around the area. So we wait and watch, learning the patterns and numbers.

Over three hours, she can send 800 troops (600 in the first two hours; 200 in the last); then 3 hour rest and then she goes again.

As we watch, we discuss various ways to disrupt the teleporter, hopefully in a lasting way. By midafternoon, Nwalme educates the party on magical circles and their weaknesses and strengths. When we realize we can probably disrupt things by crossing the spell circles/domes with any object, a plan becomes clear: Araphor can find and control some birds, sending them flying into the spell dome at a key moment.

The party bides their time, and Araphor chances on a gaggle of three geese resting nearby. He successfully controls them, and sends them flying generally, but not directly, toward town, waiting for the right moment.

The troops come into the inner circle and start to set up. The elves on the outer circle do their ritual. The outer circle powers up, visibly glowing a slight orange. Several minutes later the second circle comes up.

Some elves look up at the birds, and become visibly agitated. They try to cast bird control to move the birds, but they’re too far away. The birds turn in, which agitates the elves even further. Bows are brought out and wiser mages stop them from doing that. They then shout to try to get the attention at the elves nearer town.

One elf in town gets his bow out and hits a goose; it drops from the air fairly quickly, dead. Araphor immediately sends the remaining birds diving at the center of the circle. Moving fast, they manage to avoid more arrows. The inner circle comes up, and a minute or so later the birds dive through it. Heat lightning from the circle blinds Stormdancer, and through him, Araphor, and Araphor loses the Rider Within link. Five seconds later, we hear thunder.

We can see smoke from the center of town, and cries going up. Some of the elves quickly send out patrols to find the culprit.

We ride hell for leather.

Ten minutes later, Araphor is able to re-connect with Stormdancer. She’s awake, on the ground under a bush and her senses are reduced to human levels. She can see that they’re pulling elf pieces, bodies, etc… and being stacked. She can’t see the center, but she can see the results. Pits are quickly being dug.

The elves have to know something happened magically, they’re coming looking.

A prairie isn’t the best terrain to evade people looking for you…

Old Friends, New Targets
The Dreorg-ining, this time it's personal

We find our heroes back at the northern secondary camp, questioning captured dark elves. Around this time, reinforcing Empress Guards show up, including Dreorg, with whom the party had worked with in the past.

We welcome Dreorg back and we all catch up. We fill him in on how badly things are piled against us. So we don’t go with “Gus”, the friendlier dark elf, and then move on to one of the angrier elves that we talked with last time. The most highest ranking of the captured elf, that we’ll now call Grumpy.

Nwalme does telepathy and his normal ungodly high interrogation, detect lies, etc…

When asked about the Maia’s plan, Grumpy tries to hide things by thinking about simple math tables. Nwalme uses his favorite pain spell to try to distract him, but unfortunately that doesn’t work. Instead, he had to resort to Mind Reading to do a deep delve.

The elf’s mind is very very organized, which is helpful. The best thoughts are that the maia is heading toward the empress or heading back across the sea to regroup. We think the empress would be surrounded by enough people to be safe, which makes us think the other way. (The maia talked about going after the empress as her ultimate goal after this worked. Unfortunately, this didn’t work. Her other plan was working a large spell to empower the elf brethren that would empower them, but that would come perilously close to turning them into orcs – which was why that wasn’t done originally.)

Araphor had seen the maia head more or less due north across the Sea of Rhun.

Thaliondor’s squad will take Gus (if he wants to go) and Grumpy across the Anduin. Gus is perfectly willing to go, but he’s unsure. (This is one of the core tenets that they have taught their whole lives.)

While that’s going on, Araphor recommends checking the shore line. Guthwyn is thinking about yelling loudly. Happily, she was outvoted. We weren’t able to get anything from the maia which would help Nwalme with his tracking spells.

We don’t know much about the spell, but assume that a high mana area will make it more feasible. The big assault was thrown back when the river cut them off.

Grumpy is getting better at noticing and trying to avoid Nwalme’s mind probe. His real name starts with O, and he’s hiding it well within his mind.

Gus doesn’t know much, but he does know where the army’s headquarters are: East from the pointy part of the W, and then down a bit. Where Araphor was hoping to head anyway.

We figure that heading there directly, we might be able to either catch up with her there or find her trail.

If we wait a day, we can have boats from the west coast. They’re already on their way.

There are a couple of people we can trust to be in charge while Guthwyn is gone. The Count of the Eastern Marches or the hobster that we’ve been traveling with. Anyone in charge will be leaning on the Count anyway, as Guthwyn has.

We leave the two of them in charge, as the Empress is due to arrive soon anyway.

We head to the town where we’ll meet the boats that are en route. We get there around nightfall.

At the usual time, we contact the Empress and bring her up to date and warn her of the threat. She’s happy with our plan to head to the army’s headquarters and try to find the maia there. She’s OK with the Thaliondor side trip. She’ll arrive at the camp in three days.

About a mile before the party reaches the village, Bo and Araphor notice something quiet and stealthy in the woods paralleling us.

Dreorg likes the idea of splitting into two groups and have the group not followed fall back and try to catch the follower. Araphor and Bo are the stealthy types, who try to be in a second group.

Araphor uses his Plant Sense and tracking skills, learning that it is human-sized and bipedal. It had started moving away when we stopped, and is going fairly quickly. He thinks this is an elf, armed with steel and probably a bow.

Bo cocks his bow and Araphor readies his spear as they follow the elf through the forest.

Once he got to the stream, we would probably have lost him, except Araphor is still able to track thanks to his plant sense.

Meanwhile, five minutes out of town, Dreorg and Guthwyn have a loud argument to try to draw the tracker(s) to them. They head into town, and Nwalme contacts the two hunters. Guthwyn busily tries to find ways to get involved in the hunt and is being rebuffed by Nwalme and her bodyguards. Alas, nothing she can do but wait.

In the forest, the target is 400 yards off and getting more distant. Keeping up with an elf is difficult.

Araphore & Bo head after the stealthy elf for a couple of miles. Another mile in, Araphor is able to spot some of our scouts. The elf we’re tracking knows which way to go through to avoid notice. We follow the elf to the river, but still don’t see the elf. We can hear our scouts. And spot a glow.

150’ away, a 5’-25’-wide deep blue glow is on the river. Bo cocks an arrow and tries to spot the elf. At 100’ or so away, they see the glow better, 10-15’ wide, extending from the bank into the river as though it’s creating a bridge.)

Bo lets fly an arrow at the half-seen elf crouching in semi-cover by the glowing translucent bridge. He hits her in the vitals, causing a muttered accented elvish curse.

An arrow flies back, stricking Bo in his unhelmeted head..

Bow fires again, missing by inches. He reloads and aims. He pulls back his mighty arm and drills one into the elf’s knee. She falls on her face as her leg is crippled, sinking into the water.

As Bo is firing, Araphor gives chase to the elf, bounding onto the bridge himself. He soon notices, however, that the bridge isn’t a single span across the water, but a moving platform that is making its way across to the other side. He decides to jump off into the river before the moving “bridge” strands him on the far side of the river with an elf he can’t catch running anyway.

Meanwhile, the scouting parties nearby have lit up their signal fires, having noticed the commotion. This causes Nwalme to get in touch telepathically with Araphor again to get an update, and learns of the injured enemy scout being carried his way by the river. He, Guthwyn, and Dreog muster some troops to get a handful of the village’s fishing boats out onto the river to try and catch the elf.

Bo heads forward to try and help Araphor and look to see if their quarry is visible. Together they head down the river toward, keeping and eye on (and pace with) the elf.

Guthwyn considers lighting up the river to search for the elf, but realizes that would be bad with an army on the other side. They instead set up fishing nets between the boats.

The elf is treading water, near the center of the river about 300’ off of the bank.

Nwalme magically create a shark warrior to go after the elf. A shark appears, falls in the water and swims after the elf. He has the shark keep the elf away from the shore and herd the elf toward us.

Bo happily fires off another arrow, which catches her in the head.

Dreorg aims and fires, but misses.

Nwalme’s mage sense starts tingling and can tell that someone is telepathically talking to the elf. He attempts to listen in. He has a crappy connection and can get pieces: The elf is making her final report: a bunch of empress’ guards are coming here, one is the leader; she didn’t make contact with any of her squad mates. The other caster realized that someone was breaking into the telepathy and cut it off.

The elves on the other side were the ones that cast the blue bridge.

The boat is closing on the shark and the elf. The elf is fighting against the shark that’s trying to herd her toward them. Nwalme tried to tell the shark to drag her toward them. He ends up having to use telepathy and finds out that the elf had drowned herself. He lets the spell go, and the shark disappears.

Now the enemy elves know we’re coming.

Nwalme heals up Bo.

We set up guards, alert the Empress, scouts go around and look. They find a blue quartz that looks like sapphire where the bridge went up. They sent out scouts up and down the river to search for the elves.

Nwalme casts History on the stone to try to find out more about how it was used and what the elf had done with it. The stone didn’t do much in the last week, it’s primary user was a fussy dark elf that kept her in a bag with 15 more like it. Four days ago it was placed in that spot. Two days ago, it made a bridge, and then again today.

Nwalme uses the stone to cast Seeker to try to find the other stones. He can sense two more that he knows exactly where, one more that he can sense more vaguely, and can vaguely sense the other every quarter mile or so along the river.

He senses a little more about the spells on the stone. He can study a bit more and analyze magic to better understand the stone and how to use it himself or at least — maybe — trigger it.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Maian
All wet...

When last we left our heroes: the maia had escaped. StormDancer (and Araphor) had spotted her, she is injured and gathering driftwood to put together a raft. We spent the fifteen minutes to get the mages back up to full, after communicating with the Empress.

The Maia is two hours of heavy riding away on the shore, putting together a raft. One dark elf dead, one unconscious dark elf, and guarded by two wounded hobsters and one not-so-wounded hobster to head back to the others. Nwalme heals up the hobsters to help make their trip safer.

We head the two hours to chase down the maia. The trip is relatively straightforward and not all that difficult. StormDancer is watching the maia building a boat. Even using driftwood, she was able to perform some woodshaping magic and the raft becomes more and more of a boat, planks, etc… About an hour out, she seems to detect us and she gestures. We notice an unfortunate result: the ground becomes more moist and the travel due to the increased muck more difficult. The two hour trip becomes three and she is able to build a sail boat and launch when we are three miles away. She makes good speed being able to control the water and the wind.

She gets away, leaving us heading after her. The ground doesn’t seem to be getting any worse than the swampy land we were dealing with. Araphor tries to keep Stormdancer watching to try to get an idea where she’s going but she’s moving much faster than he can fly. He’s good for sprints, but she’s keeping it up and he can’t.

We head back. When we get back, we find the prisoner securely trussed, gagged, unconscious and hooded.

(At the base, we do experience!) -——————

Last experience was 2/10/12

Post Experience -——————

Interrogation! Bo falls back and keeps an eye on the prisoner, as Nwalme does his thing with the prisoner. He is a powerful dark elf that hates Nwalme with a fiery passion because Nwalme sides with those that are keeping the elves from their birthright and are blocking them from their travels west. (It’s believed that the elves cannot come back after going West.)

The Vala (the gods) found the elves and welcomed them, getting them boats and helping them sail to the West. At various points on their journey various elves got off their journey and became green, gray, naldor, etc… elves. After the War of the Ring, it’s assumed that any elves can travel west.

The dark elves believe that they cannot make the final journey to the West, because they were left behind on purpose and could not come across. (Nwalme knows that the Vala gave a decree so that all elves can go.) The dark elves must have descended from elves that didn’t want to make the journey. The dark elves said that any elves that try to cross the Anduin (the great river of Middle Earth) come back dead or broken – clearly from the Vala. They haven’t tried this since just after the War of the Ring. But even then, they shouldn’t have come back dead or broken. Nwalme tries to understand if it’s really the Vala, rather than just the maia doing it and blaming the Vala for doing it. The dark elves believe the Vala are evil because they are denying the elves their birthright.

Their belief is more than they are in a world of pain and death that is always getting harder and the Vala is keeping them from gaining access to the promised land where their pain will be lessened.

The dark elves are trying to make the Middle Earth a better place to live by taking land and destroy those in their way.

Knowing that we have crossed the Anduin and recently, Nwalme offers to take the prisoner to cross the river. The prisoner needs to think on the offer – as he’s worried that we plan to kill him.

Talking amongst ourselves, we wonder if coming back broken meant that they were remade into orcs. (That was what was going on.)

Nwalme heads back to tell him a story (with illusions) to tell them the story of the lands of Mordor and Sauron. (The dark elves seem to think of him as a great leader that rebelled against the evil Vala but was corrupted in his struggles and fell into evil methods for honorable goals and then he was thoroughly corrupted.) He explains about Sauron and remaking elves into the orcs. The dark elves heard from the orcs that they were captured by the Vala or the people of the west such as Saruman that allied themselves with Sauron.

The dark elves seem to be at a distance from the history of Middle Earth with their eastern-centric view of it.

Araphor reminds us about the friendly orcs – the Yrrch – that we had met in the past up in the Ettenmoors. (Eric and Jp don’t remember this at all.) They were living in isolation.

Away from the prisoner, we wonder whether the dark elves will turn into orcs just from crossing the Anduin. We don’t know for sure, but we assume that the maia are deceiving the elves and we assume that they’re not on the side of angels since they didn’t take part in the War of the Ring.

We talk with the Empress. She can be at the front in three days. She thinks our priority should be finding the maia and taking them out. They are not the white Wizard and they have limitations. Guthwyn is more lippy with the Empress than usual. Nwalme also thinks that the dark elf crossing the Anduin could turn some of the elves. The Empress does think that it may be useful but worries that there’s not enough time. Guthwyn wonders if taking the dark elf to cross the Anduin may bring the maia to us, which Nwalme is starting to buy, but Bo and Araphor aren’t sure. The Empress pushes for us to use our pet elf to see if he knows where the maia is, or is headed.

Nwalme is going to talk with the friendly elf (we don’t think we have a name for this NPC – Chris likes ‘Gus’) to verify the Anduin story that we just heard from this dark elf. We wonder if the friendly elf would/could cross the Anduin without the level of guards that the chief dark elf would need.

The other option is to question strongly the chief dark elf for more information.

Follow The Leader
...until she disappears...

When last we left our heroes, they had just captured mind-controlling segregationist elves that are oddly pro-orc and anti-human, and several of them have escaped.

Bo looks for a magic bow and finds one that looks like it may be magic, but it’s the wrong size and wrong type of pull. It will take him a great deal of time to practice and relearning to use the thing. (He does have Nwalme look it over to see if he can tell if it’s magic or cursed or what not.)

Araphor sends Stormdancer up in the air. She spots two groups: 3-4 and 3. Araphor does his best to help coordinate the hunting.

20 minutes after they left, one of the hunting party frogmarched in a wounded dark elf.

Bo fades back to keep an arrow on the prisoner from far enough back that he’s out of range – hopefully, anyway. Araphor recommends keeping the prisoners unconscious and that they do more coordinating than actual escaped prisoner hunting. Guthwyn prefers a more hands-on approach and wants to ride them down and catch them, herself. That may have to do with the fact that she learned that all but two of her bodyguards were killed in the escape attempt. And the two are very injured.

Nwalme is healed up and ready to figure out what to do next – question the prisoner to find out about their regrouping plan? Or determine if they’re after a specific target?

The prisoner sent to Nwalme telepathically, “I just want to go home.” Nwalme finds out that they’re conscripts and the wizards have their families. The wizards are evil and some of his former friends have done some evil things.

This group of elves have been coming west for 30 years or so, they’d find a new settlement and pacify it. Take slaves, etc…

About 15 years ago the cousins (elves that they hadn’t seen) came and found them. They started trading. They heard about the rising power in the east. They heard about the blue twins. They’ve done some incredible things: healing the sick, stopping a volcano, etc… Many of the elves consider them gods.

The prisoner was very happy he was captured. He feels that most of the elves are some of the most powerful mages, he’s seen. Himself, he has a natural aptitude for magical strength that can be tapped in ritual magic. Nwalme, always distrustful, verifies what the prisoner is thinking with sense emotion, detect lie, and his telepathy. Once Nwalme felt that the prisoner was telling the truth, Nwalme thawed (infinitesimally) and told him that there wasn’t much that they could do at the moment; he’d have to be a prisoner for a while.

The big thing that Nwalme learned was the leader of the expedition was one of those that escaped. (It looks like we have a way for Guthwyn to hunt and still be in charge.)

Nwalme used the prisoner’s knowledge of the leader to successfully cast a seeker spell. He can tell the leader is heading north/north west, back toward the lake where we found them initially. He’s hurrying, but not quite running.

We quickly decide that Araphor, our best tracker, is the best choice to lead the group to catch the fleeing elves: the leader and two others. We go along with three hobster bodyguards for Araphor; it’s nice to all be back in our little assault group again.

The hobsters busily repair the camp and clear around it, so that they can see in and out easier.

We think we know where the elves are going. They have a half hour lead on us, but Nwalme’s Pathfinder spell let’s us know that he’s two miles away and gives us a route to get there. We’re gaining.

About four hours later, we meet up with the three hobsters that were chasing them. Two continue, one fills us in: they’re 500 yards ahead and pausing regularly. The hobsters have been waiting for them to camp, so that they can set up an ambush, but now that we have numbers, he thinks that a frontal attack might be the best option.

Guthwyn wants two groups and a pincer maneuver. Bo asks whether they were able to get ranged weapons; Araphor (through Stormdancer) can tell they have swords, but no ranged weapons.

We don’t know much about the terrain, so Araphor recommends just running them down. We have the numerical advantage: ten of us to three of them.

The attack begins! They’re out of range, but we’re charging. Stormdancer sees that they’ve spotted us. The elves find a spot with a couple of trees and a rock to give them a bit of cover and protect themselves from being ridden down or lanced.

Nwalme wants to eyeball the land and teleport in behind them. Bo is looking for the high ground to prepare to snipe down upon them; it’s not present, so he gets 10 yards away and starts aiming. Araphor prepares by casting walk through plants.

The dark elves all have swords, one has a 6’ wooden staff (one assumes it’s for magical distance touching).

Guthwyn called out to surrender or die. As we don’t speak the same language, it’s not really doing much good. Guthwyn and her guards charge forward as a clump. The leader casts a spell and water opened up around the chargers. Some of them are struggling to deal with the new pool of water that just opened off under them. Guthwyn swims without a problem. Unfortunately, some of her guards are struggling. Guthwyn’s full armor isn’t helping as much as she might like in the water.

More water pools open up the dark elves’ spells.

Bo aims for two rounds and then fires. Luck be a lady, tonight! Critical success to take out the crouching ritual mage. He prepared another arrow and moved to get another shot.

Guthwyn and the hobsters do their best to clamber out of the pool. While they’re doing that Araphor jumps over them (and the pool) to get into the fight.

While they all have everyone’s attention, Nwalme teleports in behind the elves and uses the Strike Blind in his curse missile staff to get the leader. She shrugs off the curse; Nwalme realizes that the leader isn’t an elf, nor a male. He thinks that she might be a maia – a lesser god.

Araphor charges, but his strike is parried effortlessly. The other elf moves to attack Araphor, who is able to parry himself. Guthwyn and her guards charge to attack the elf and the maia, but fail. One of the hobbits did his best to snipe in, which hit the maia for no effect.

Araphor and the hobsters attacks are largely ineffective. The maia and the dark elf both seem to be very good with the sword, parrying attacks without much trouble. But unfortunately, the dark elf is no match for Guthwyn. She knocks the dark elf unconscious with a single blow.

Nwalme successfully deals a vicious Death Touch to the maia. Touching her also let Nwalme know that she was indeed a maia – a very, very powerful one. The power radiates from her palpably.

After moving into position and aiming for two rounds, Bo is about to let fly when the maia disappears. Nwalme is pretty sure that she did some sort of a watery teleport.

Nwalme tries to use the water she disappeared into to try to cast a Seeker spell again. He learns that she’s not within a mile, but within 50 miles. His vision of her places her on the south side of the Sea of Rhun. A bitter defeat, but at least at the moment, we’re safe from her for the moment.

Guthwyn is ready to charge after her immediately. Stormdancer is sent to try to spot her. Bo and Nwalme caution getting word to the Empress.

Stormdancer spots her and sees that she’s bleeding profusely as she gathers driftwood to build a raft. The fifteen minutes that takes is enough to get the mages back to full. We’re about two hours ride from there.

Now You Think It, Now You Don't
elves slip our minds, and some slip away

Captured: two of the senior dark elves as well as assorted others.

Nwalme prepares for interrogation. We want to know where these elves come from and why are they aligned with the invasion force? Do they even know of Nwalme? How good is he without his killer rep?

He grabs one of the senior elves and starts his questions about reinforcements and then segues into general plan and troop movement. He separates out one of them to be away from the others, shielded by the wagon so that they can hear screams, but not make out the discussion. Bo stands in the distance with his bow to prepare for mop up, should the prisoner get the better of Nwalme and try to make a run for it.

The plan is telepathy and then pain should the previous options fail.

There is a language issue – even the older elvish tongue has problems. The prisoner doesn’t seem to understand Nwalme. Luckily, Nwalme has the Borrow Language skill at a sufficiently high level, overcoming that barrier.

The prisoner is fairly hostile, making it clear that he feels that Nwalme is a traitor to the elves. They feel that they don’t need reinforcements, they should be enough. They’re aligned with the orcs, because orces were brothers of the elves of old and they deserve to be freed. Free from persecution by the humans, traitorous elves, and dwarves.

The dark elves’ plan is to free the orcs, eradicate the vermin (i.e. humans) and bring them to the far western lands so that the gods will come back to them.

Nwalme wants to know if these are cultural beliefs or if this is brainwashing via using the mind-search spell. These elves feel abandoned since the rest of the elves went away over the last 10K years, but after the last 1000-1500 years alone, they’ve been largely alone except for the orcs and this culture has started to arise. Most of the knowledge that they have of the human lands is from the orcs and from their spies, rather than direct observation.

Orcs breed very quickly; they have over a million in the army coming over. Plus 4000-5000 elves. Who are the top tier leadership? The brothers: gods. Powerful wizard kings? Humanoid – humanish. They are twins, male/female, blue and green.

Nwalme sends him back and gathers his strength for the next interrogation.

Bo mentions that passing this on to the Empress as soon as possible. Upon resting up, he rings the Empress’ telepathic phone. She picks up and she’s kind of caught up on the million orcs, he reminds her of number of magic-using elves that HATE humans. The gods seem familiar, but the empress isn’t quite sure who they are yet.

Guthwyn wonders if going after the gods might not be the best use of our time. Decapitate the head and the body will fall, and all that.

Araphor wonders if it’s possible to do what their spell did in reverse and flood the river.

We discuss what to do next. We’re taking the prisoners to the more secure castle, which is the command center in the area.

Prisoner searching: half of the prisoners have green power stones, the other half have blue power stones (about 25 in all). There’s not a lot of power in them; they’re mostly 1-pt stones with some 2-pt stones.

Half a day to get to the point where we have real support; it’s a command post and supply center. Hobsters quickly notice that most of the prisoners weren’t actually tied…

Guthwyn puts on her “magic helmet”. Every couple of minutes something reminds us that this is weird. But then we seem to forget. The repeated cycle confuses Guthwyn, so she takes a walk to clear her head and realizes what’s going on – mind control magic. She’s got to get Nwalme out of there. She says that she needs Nwalme right now so that she doesn’t make a mistake. That gets the two of them out of there and helps to clear his head as well.

Nwalme realizes that it’s a lesser geas.

Bo used luck (20:57). Araphor put things together and realizes that every three minutes or so, he gets clueless and figures that it’s ritual magic with a central caster – who isn’t the number 3 or number 4. And then forgets.

They realize the range needs to be at least 40 yards to be out of range of the caster.

Guthwyn tries to send a note in to get Araphor and Bo.

Most everyone is asleep. The elves are grabbing weapons.

A hobster fires at the caster, catches a flunky. Nwalme prepares a curse missile. Guthwyn and Araphor draw swords. Bo readies his bow and draws an arrow and gauges who needs to be shot and killed.

Elves are slaughtering sleeping people and animals. Some are scattering for some other reason. Others are advancing on the party.

Bo hits. Nwalme fizzles his curse missile. Hobsters launch a volley. Some of the elves are down. Bo hits. The hobsters’ arrows fell short by 2-3 yards.

Nwalme teleports behind the advancing elves successfully, but can’t act this round. Luckily, Guthwyn, on Arod, is bearing down on them. Arod takes out a magic user with his hooves nearly immediately.

Nwalme runs toward them; as does Guthwyn and Araphor. Bo hits one of the three elves are are charging him. Hobsters fire another volley. Nwalme gets ready to death touch the friggin’ elves. Araphor is finally close enough to slash the leg of one of the elves, crippling the leg and sending blood into the air. Guthwyn prefers to stab with her sword, embedding her sword in the victim. Nwalme blasts an elf with that death touch he’d been priming. Arod isn’t as fortunate, but wasn’t hurt.

Bo takes out another one. Araphor cripples another leg and deals with their counter-attack easily. Nwalme is pumping more death touch into elf that he’s grappling. But the little bastard was still able to cast frost bite on Nwalme with his dying breath. Arod gets singed by the elf that he stomped.

Two elves are coming after Bo. Hobsters shoot at them, as Bo continues to do his best to take them out.

A couple of the others are still fighting. Araphor whacks at another leg, crippling it and taking down another elf that is able to counter attack. With Araphor’s ballet of violence, he’s in position for his next attack to take out the remaining wounded elf near him. The faster elf gets the first strike in, aiming for Araphor’s unprotected part; Araphor takes out his leg.

When the skirmish ends, a headcount reveals that ten of the captured elves have escaped. Guthwyn wants them caught. Bo proposes that searching in groups might be more useful. Nwalme backs him; groups of three in each hunting group.

While the others are hunting, Bo gathers his arrows and finishes off the wounded elves.

Strike That - Reverse It
Water, water, everywhere...

We rejoin our heroes in the foothills near the Sea of Rhun and the mouth of the river, having captured a dark elf who was moving to prepare a ritual magic site. In addition the General Guthwyn and her retinue, we have with us Corp and his company.

Our captive has stones and water from 4-5 places along the river. After some questioning, the captive reveals where the ritual was going to happen: a spot of hill where they can see both, with a source of water into the river. The ritual group consists 72 dark elves all with magery

Araphor ponders starting a forest fire, to take out the whole area, but is concerned it won’t catch.

The party ponders whether or not it’s feasible to switch out the components for the spell, but feels it’s difficult to accomplish and of unknowable value.

Corp’s guy knows the area – he can get us to the area quickly, perhaps before the main group of elves arrives.

Approaching the clearing from a forest path, we notice cart tracks leading into the clearing. From an advantageous spot, we see two humans(?) at a lean-to, with 6-8 baskets of stuff. We’re about an hour ahead of the main body of elves, who are spreading out and slowing down.

Guthwyn walks up and chats up the men. They offer her coffee. They talk to her about the rocks in the baskets and even she can tell that they’re lying to her. She avoids the mistake of leaning into the lean-to at their suggestion.

Guthwyn gives the signal and Bo fires, killing one of them on the spot. Guthwyn quickly disables the other, capturing him (?)

We search the lean-to, and find river rocks (six baskets) and water (two leather containers).

Bo thinks about having Araphor make new useless water, but again it’s not clear whether that will have any more effect than no water at all. So instead they Araphor suggest dumping the water, and throwing the rocks far and wide in all directions. He recruits most of Corp’s men to assist with this while Nwalme questions the prisoner about the ritual, the elves, the plan, etc…

In ten minutes we were able to toss one and a half basket’s worth of stones. We continue as Nwalme questions them.

The elves are slowing down even farther. About a mile and a half away, they start spreading out and disperse into the woods.

Guthwyn wasn’t sure why the two men didn’t kill her.

The prisoner isn’t hard to question. He’s telling us things but we’re not sure if he knows much. He’s here to make sure that no one takes off with the rocks and water. He’s OK with working with orcs, as long as they pay. He thought 100 or so allies would be showing up, at which point he was to quietly accept his pay and take off, as they’re a touchy bunch. The leader was Benwa. He doesn’t know much. The elves won’t be showing up until a half hour before sunset.

Stormdancer is keeping an eye on the approaching groups of elves. They are in three loose groups and they stopped. They’re sitting with their heads down. Still far enough so that attacking one of the groups isn’t an option.

There’s a path out that he recommends. It’ll go toward the fort that’s nearby.

Guthwyn asks for a good spot to dam the creek/water. It’ll be hard because it’s not a fast-flowing water. The best is a few swampy areas that will become swampier. They are about a mile down the creek, an hour away, too far away.

When the baskets are light enough, we head out and scatter rocks as we walk.

As we’re clearly outnumbered, we discuss bringing in more troops to take out the elves.

We can spot section leaders, but not the overall leader. We can set up an ambush, but we could set up an ineffective fire.

Araphor recommends watching to see what they do and maybe listening by linking up with a local varmint. Bo watches, ready to fire into a ritual if needed.

Araphor uses his magic to reach out and find a helpful rabbit, to sneak in closer to the ritual area and be his eyes and ears.

Half an hour before sunset, the elves start coming up the hill. They mark out a ritual circle. Spotting the blood from the slain human, they become agitated and set up a perimeter to guard themselves.

They have their own baskets of water and rocks.

Araphor doesn’t understand what they’re saying; they’re speaking an Elvish tongue he doesn’t know. Nwalme gives Araphor the gift of tongues so that he can suddenly understand what’s being said by the elves. They talk about what they don’t have and how to assemble what they’ll need.

Nwalme can tell that the ritual area is a very high mana zone.

As they’re still setting up, the party decides that they’ve a good enough vantage point, and open fire. Bo gets two shots into both of the main spell casters. Nwalme gets a strike blind into one of the other ritual mages.

The rest of the troops (primarly Corp and his men) catch up and fire arrows into the elves, and the ritual is disrupted. The cauldron glows blue (leading Bo to surmise that it’ll be creating water rather than destroying it) and then it turns into a geyser, shooting water 100 feet or more into the air. It slows down after a few seconds, but water continues to pour from it steadily.

Nwalme blinds the elf bowman closest. We attack. The elves form two lines. Elves are down to 20 each. Bo snipes at the leaders as usual.

20 elves from the inner circle were washed away by the geyster, flooding, and some psychic blow-back from the spell collapse. Our forces approach to try to knock ’em down.

The elves ask for quarter. Guthwyn bypasses them and tries to kill those slow to speak. 27 captives, 22 dead, rest of the 72 missing…

Among those captured is one of the inner circle (#3 or #4), as well as several squad leaders.

Session notes, 11/9/2012
raw, for now...

Present: Pam (GM), Megan, Eric, Chris and Jp

Araphor and Bo have two prisoners. The one that Araphor shot has a deep and dangerous wound. (First aid will make sure he doesn’t die quickly.) The other isn’t walking any where.

Bo goes to signal the others to send Nwalme. Araphor successfully performs first aid on the gut shot prisoner. Nwalme gets up there and finds that the guy that’s gut shot doesn’t have much left at this point. He puts a major healing into him to get him stabilized enough to talk, etc… He can’t do much with the other guy.

(To recap: we went to the village that was the fallback point for the resistance; they had clearly been there and bugged out, but they left two watchers, which we caught.)

John Hawkward (Corp’s Company) is the guy with the leg wound. Guthwyn introduces herself as the Gen’l of the Roherum. She demands his orders: they were supposed to watch and report whether Corp was followed. They were supposed to be told where to go and they hadn’t been told anything yet. Supposed to hear back tomorrow.

(He’s been part of Corp’s company for three years now.) Guthwyn plays the “we’re after someone that is cohoots with the orcs”. Corp (big, ugly and scared) doesn’t sound like who we’re looking for. But the fair-haired guy that Corp works for does sound like the one that we’re looking for.

John talks about relocating the people that were there and how the fair haired guy raped the women. Corp walked in on it and pulled the locals and dragged out the women to bring them to the next village. Corp left with them.

Guthwyn shows him the sigil of the shield of the guy that we’re looking for. John thinks that it’s a white horse shield – which usually means royal guard – or someone that worked for the 3rd Prince.

The other guy has only been part of the company for a couple of weeks. He may or may not be connected to the fair-haired (possibly royals).

The other guy hasn’t woken up. That may or may not be feigned based on the amount of damage he’d taken before being healed. Nwalme slaps him awake.

Once Guthwyn mentioned Nwalme’s name; this guy clearly looked freaked and worried. Bo’s comments about Nwalme bringing him back from the brink of death for answers didn’t help. Nwalme goes back to work with mind reading for surface thoughts and detect lies, etc…

It’s certainly not a good sign that the prisoner (Roland) is doing his best to think of bland thoughts to hide his thoughts. Asking about Benwa (the person that we’re looking for) causes his mental façade to flutter briefly as he imagines a creature with a red eye and says ‘No’. Oddly, Nwalme doesn’t get a feeling that he’s lying.

Guthwyn wheedles to try to get him to talk. Bo and Guthwyn do their best to psych him out. Nwalme does a death touch to really hurt him (after the pain was only mildly annoying). His mental façade is starting to fai.

Nwalme keeps pushing to get an answer on where Benwa and Corp went. Roland says he doesn’t know. He thinks about them going to the sea; and Nwalme gets the thought that he thinks that he’s going to be rescued. The mental façade blocks Nwalme’s ability to tell whether he’s lying. Nwalme lets the rest of us know that Roland’s expecting rescue and Guthwyn calls for reinforcements. Nwalme pushes to find out where the signal device that just needs two taps to call in reinforcements; he learns it’s in his shoe. Bo pulls off both of his shoes and they find a stylized iron eye in his left shoe.

Nwalme decides that he needs to be dead, rather than alive and working against us. Nwalme learns that he’s a magic user when Roland starts gathering energy for a spell. Nwalme zaps him with a death touch.

Roland says that he’s already signaled and no one seems to be coming. A burst of energy came through the signal device and Roland died with a smile on his face, as he remembered the good things in his life.

John starts muttering about whether Corp realizes how bad a contract that they took was.

Only a day and a half away, going to the sea would be running toward the defensive line? Or up into the hills, if they’re going onto the other side to meet an orc army. (To the north.)

Aside about magic items, putting them under running water will disrupt them, but they can be found; melting them down in a great enough heat will do the job; wrapping them in silk is also supposed to help.

John thinks that they’re probably not going not going to the direct route. Since he didn’t see them (and neither did we), so the next route will be to the pass up into the hills to the west – then down river to the sea (to the North).

We track them, which isn’t all that difficult as there are about 33 people which are hard to hide. (5-6 Benwa and his people; the rest is Corp’s company). We need to back track now and again based on terrain; after a day’s trailing/tracking, we don’t feel that we’re catching up.

Night falls. And morning picks it back up. Fairly uneventful. Mid-morning, we find where they camped about a day and a half ago. We continue on and come to two cottages with their pig poke around dusk (4-5p). There are a couple of women (one old and one young) and a passel of loud kids.

Guthwyn asks if they heard of their quarry. They passed through here late yesterday afternoon. (We’re catching up with them!) Guthwyn warned the kids and the young mother to be wary of Benwa. They didn’t treat them too badly and didn’t foul the well. They’re heading to business down on the coast. Bo thought to ask about how they were paid for their pigs; Guthwyn gives her double the value for a silver coin that came from Corp himself. Hopefully, Nwalme will be able to use them to communicate with Corp. Guthwyn warns the women to be careful and that army might be coming. Araphor helps them by creating water into their tub to make up for what Corp and his people took from their well. (He creates five gallons of water for them.) No rapes, so Corp seems to still be influencing Benwa. And we’re only about 20 hours behind.

After 15-20 minutes of rest, we hit the road and find their camp about 20 minutes away. Further showing Corp’s influence.

Now comes the big question: to try telepathy to connect John Hawkward and Corp to try to warn him of what he’s in bed with. Guthwyn warns that contacting the Empress first might be useful. (Nwalme brings her up to date and it’s clear that the stress is getting to Her, as she complains about more trash that needs to be cleared out of the place. The Empress knows him. She gives him a pass code “elly says hi to maggie”. Still mustering troops, not much new news.

Now, Nwalme tries to initiate telepathy between Corp and John. Guthwyn brings up the awkward issue that it’s possible that one of the demonic magic users could be in front of us and could pop his head like a zit. Nwalme admits that there are dangers, but he and Araphor both think that going to Corp will help.

Nwalme successfully connects to John and then to Corp. Nwalme tries to gently wake Corp and get him to accept the telepathic call. He dreams of being in court in front of the empress and the emperor. Nwalme tries to impose himself in Corp’s dream to wake him up. As he’s dreaming of Maggie, Nwalme uses the passcode. Corp comes awake enough. Corp knows that Benwa is in league with the orcs and is trying to stop things.

Nwalme learns that they going to Dwarven Rock Falls and lets Corp know that we’re on our way and that we’ll do our best to try to get him in time. They should be on the coast around 1-2p; Nwalme says that he’ll try to contact him again around noon. (They’re about 6-8 hours away and we could catch up.)

If we rush in, we could lose the element of surprise. Guthwyn would like to be there when they hit the coast. We could set it up, so that we’re no more than an hour behind them at noon; we could be in a position to pounce. We can communicate back through the hobbits to the main force.

Storm Dancer can see them from first light, which makes following them much much easier.

The hobbits were able to pass the information found back to the group.

If it’s big party, attack early and get information out; if it’s a small party, attack earlier to make it two smaller groups.

Nwalme contacts Corp. He tried to slow them down, but it didn’t help much. They’re about 15-20 minutes away from the cove. Corp’s setting up a perimeter and knows that they’re meeting three boats with special passengers, but that could mean almost anything. And especially bad, Nazghul. Corp doesn’t want to attack until the boats arrive. He thinks it’s not a big deal with the boats.

Three viking long boat style boats, black, each with 20-30 people. All elves?! Some elves were left in the east. They seem a little fairer than usual.

We need to capture Benwa and get his information – hopefully about a way to warn off the elves. We need to get this information out. Nwalme tells Corp what’s going on; the hobbits pass information about the dark elves out the other way.

Corp takes Benwa and his boys. They’re heading toward us.

Boats are coming in.

Bo looks for some good places for sniping. Araphor wants to trick the elves into leaving; especially, as there’s no doubt that they can’t track us and catch us quickly.

Within 5 minutes, we’re all together.

Storm Dancer and Araphor keep an eye on the elves. Bo grabs the high ground and tries to defend/snipe. Nwalme wants to find out what elves deal is, but got nothing from Benwa.

The elves landed, left one elf on each boat. The elves split up and take the two paths out. They’re walking, but with the ground eating elvish pace.

Nwalme tries again to get the information out of Benwa. He learns that they’re here to drain the river and they’ve already been paid. We don’t know where the ritual has to take place or how it will be done. Rumors of the very dark elves were that they were really into the wild nature magic and controlling things. And with ritual magic, they can bring an immense amount of energy to play given enough time.

How far are they away from the river? Five days back. Gullies and rocky. Then plains and gullies.

If they’re doing it here, could their be an underground spring or lake that they are using? And why here, rather than closer to the river? Do they seem to be aware of us? They’re acting as though they’re on guard. They don’t seem to be coming toward/attacking us, though they’re clearly on guard.

A half an hour after we bug out, we realize that the elves and we are going in different directions. They’re going toward the castle. They’re definitely moving faster than us.

Nwalme learns that Benwa and his men have four bags of water and four bags of stones from different locations within the river that they were supposed to hand over to the elves. They are supposed to go to a plateau by the castle where they can see both the river and lake; that’s supposed to be where they’re going. Araphor mentions that he’s not above setting a forest fire to stop them.

But the question becomes how to set a forest fire? How feasible would it be? Unfortunately, currently the fire danger is currently low.

Hobbits get the message that some humans tried to force the river and failed.

Storm Dancer hasn’t seen any Nazghal.

Thaliandor is sending two of his men with forty roherem. The elves are helping, but aren’t at the main group yet.


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