Middle Earth: Sunset of the Fourth Age

So long and thanks for all the fish

Araphor, the codfather

The first thing our heroes do is to try to figure out their next move. There is vital information that needs to be given to the Empress and others, but how was the important question. Assumptions were made about the Great Leader™ (presumably Sauron in disguise) where he is and where the best place would be for us to be situated to try and deal with him. We realize that the information we’ve surmised is largely a death sentence from the leader of the dark elves, whether or not it’s actually Sauron.

Bo points out that it might be a good idea to have redundancy in our delivery, expecting that the Great Leader™ would do anything to keep his enemies from having our knowledge. He thinks that splitting up the hobsters to go to the next closest encampments to get the word out, as we head to the third closest encampment based on where we expect the Great Leader™ to be heading and where the Empress will want us to be. Nwalme thought that this would mean that we would need to go the mouth of the river. Araphor didn’t think that we should take the chance with General Guthwyn. If she were to be killed, it would dishearten the army. Having to worry about the morale of a greater army was new to us, as was the thought of keeping Guthwyn out of the middle of the fray.

As we continued to discuss our options, we traveled across the river, where we bumped into guardsmen that couldn’t wait to hop to Guthwyn’s orders. Surprising everyone that had known her well — and Bo — who hadn’t — Guthwyn embraced the full power of being the general and started giving orders. She had listened to the debate that had waged around her and forged her own stubborn way through the arguments and counter-arguments. She sent a pair of hobsters to their next communication station to get the information out in via that medium. She sent three guardsmen to ride as fast as they were able to the castle — they were to go straight to the Empress and tell her our news. That left our small group of irregulars (our heroes™) to go to the mouth of the river themselves with our smaller group: two hobsters, and two remaining guardsmen (Strongwulf and an unnamed female guardsman).

Three miles north (about 20 minutes of travel – which gives you some indication of the roads and how Arod could push us to travel on them), we got to the hobster communication station. They signal us to let us know that they’d heard the news that we had sent about the assault planned on the mouth of the river and toward the Empress’ castle. As of twenty minutes ago (the last communication along that stations), there was no word of any attack at the mouth of the river. It was all still and quiet. It was sunrise, about an hour from when Nwalme was scheduled to make his normal contact with the Empress.

At the designated time, he contacted her. Both Nwalme and the Empress realize that someone else is listening and as such, they’re circumspect in how they discuss the news of the enemy. Nwalme reported the numbers (20,000 elves; 500,000 orcs) and possible locations of the enemy troops, and also that one of the blue maia has died by our actions; the Empress wished that she had Wizards on her side. The listener made his appearance known with a chuckle and said that our information was better than he thought and that he’ll have to rectify that. When Nwalme gave the location of the troops that had teleported away, the voice says our information was too much better and the connection was severed. [The amount of magic and skill to do that must have been phenomenal.] Nwalme tried again and the ‘Empress’ asked what happened, but gave away the game with an unusual idiom, when the other magic user (presumably the Great Leader™) realized that the ruse was up, the connection is severed again and then used the connection to do damage directly to Nwalme. The true Empress contacted Nwalme and gave a quick message: defend the line, thanks for the warning, don’t contact us and prepare to disconnect quickly, if contacted. We realized that the telepathic communication channel (one of our greatest assets in the field) was now mostly useless.

Nwalme healed himself fully as we rested for a few minutes.

We continued on and catch the high ground as we approached. From our vantage point, we were able to see the enemy forces, using an unnatural mist to conceal an armada advancing on the village. As we’re pretty much on the front line – the villagers are largely long gone and it’s largely encampments with some villagers left to be part of the war effort – Guthwyn sends the unnamed guardsman riding like hell to the village to warn them, and use the communication point in town to get the word out. There ships are elvish longboats: we think there a couple of thousand people attacking (40-80 boats) – not sure how many of them are combatants versus rowers/slaves. We try to get an idea on how many might be spellcasters. As before with these group spells, there’s at least one spellcaster keeping the mist spell going and others feeding him/her energy.

Once again, we try to figure out what to do. We think there are 30 boats, but then they seem to have some of them fading away, as we watch. We’re not sure whether this is an illusion spell, or invisibility kicking in to hide them. This village is basically 100-150 people (two archer units: 50 together). The alarm goes off and the sentries realize that the armada is too big. It’s time to run — they give the signal to evacuate. But unfortunately, this means we can’t stop the elves from landing and must cede these two miles of coastline.

Araphor brought back up the idea of setting the forest on fire make a break and make it harder for the enemy elves to pass. Nwalme tried to cast See Secrets to figure out what’s going on. Araphor did his best to try to spot wakes and other options to tell what’s really going on with the boats. Guthwyn remembered that she has a Ring of See Invisible, which she gives to Bo. He looks out and can now see that there are 25 boats, and illusions of boats to make it seem that there are a lot more. (That means 25 w/ 20 people on them – so only 500 of so enemies to fight. 7 visible; 18 hidden)

It looks like the male maia is magically raising the mist from the front ship. It looks as though they’re bypassing the village and heading up the river. We realize that the earlier attack we’d seen before we crossed the river was to take out the defenses to make this attack possible. The Great Leader™ and his people know something about tactics and strategy.

From our vantage point, we can see the five invisible boats heading along the bank of the lake; and the remaining 13 started to fade into visibility to head up the river.

Araphor came up with a brilliant idea of summoning all the fish within ten miles of the fishing village, in order to really really muck up the armada’s attack. Nwalme will feed him fatigue to help him maintain the spell. While Guthwyn and Bo will try to get the archers in position to attack the elves. As soon as Bo sees the male maia become distracted, he is to shoot. That’s going to be the signal for all the archers to let fly to take out as many elves as they can.

As with many things, there is the plan, and there is the execution. Araphor’s plan executed brilliantly. In the first minute, the river stopped being smooth and there were a lot of fish agitating the water. In the second minute, the last three of the elves’ boats began slowing down significantly. In the third minute, all of the boats are slowed – the last five or six boats aren’t in control any more as the sheer number of the fish is making the water flow in the wrong direction. Halfway through the fourth minute, the male maia’s boat stops moving and he’s trying to figure things out. Two of the boats capsize. The maia was distracted. Nwalme failed his first attempt to share strength, but was able to still get enough energy to Araphor to keep the spell working through those critical first few minutes.

Seeing the male maia distracted, Bo aimed and let fly his arrow to critically hit the vitals of the male maia – severe damage to the vitals, bypassing armor. Once again, we forgot how bad it can be for a mage that’s channeling multiple spells and the energies of other magic users, when they take a great deal of damage while concentrating.

The five boats become visible. On five of the boats people stop rowing, and fighting breaks out as the slaves therein mutiny.

The other archers let fly. The elves are not happy as as the arrows hit their targets. On the lead ship, Bo hit the maia and someone else hit his elven spellcaster.

[NOTES from Pam on the first volley of shots. There were two archers aimed at each boat and the first 10 boats all have three aimed at them.]

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