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  #136  
Old Nov 19th, 2020, 07:08 PM
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The Woodmen of Wuduseld lived hard lives, and death was a constant companion. Yet, the suddenness of Grimfara's demise left Braegar stricken with dismay. He had been happily excepting a slobbery reunion with his hound when the big man slumped down to a leafy bed. Braegar's half-smile lingered frozen as he stood caught between shock and denial.

Shadowmaw let out a series of whimpers by his side. Though young, the hound had seen enough death to recognize its scent. Nolmendil had immediately rushed to Grimfara's side, and soon the elf's expression of grief confirmed it; the Beorning had departed Middle-Earth forever.

Braegar fixed Baldor with a glower, feeling his anger at the man's foolishness kindled anew. He turned from the group, making his way to the edge of the camp. Shadowmaw moved to follow him, but braegar made a gesture with his hand, and the hound
halted, ears flattening as he let out another whine.

Braegar seated himself in the crook of a tree. I should leave at first light, he thought, as he picked up a stick from the ground and started whittling furiously with his carving knife. He wasn't sure what it was he was making, he just felt he needed to be doing something with his hands. Braegar's anger turned inward as he worked. It had been he who had been guarding Grimfara's retreat, he who had been beside the Beorning, telling him which way to run. Yet he never saw the foe that felled him? Never saw him take a blow or noticed the wound on his back? How could he call himself a Warden of Woodland Hall? He had made it his duty to guard and guide those who travel Mirkwood's dangerous ways. Yet when measured, he had been found wanting. He passed the night under that tree; his thought's a stormcloud of doubt and regret.

By morning, there was a scent on the wind that brought a promise of rain. Braegar woke to find Shadowmaw sleeping with his head in his lap. He rubbed the beast's ears, waking him, and they both rose, joining the others for Grimfara's final farewell. He learned then that Baldor had regained his memory, and with it the shame of what he had caused. Though the anger was still there, Braegar now felt a pang of empathy and pity for the older man and the weight of conscience he must now carry.

Braegar winced guiltily upon seeing the grave Vormund had dug for Grimfara. He had chosen to brood alone like a child, while the ranger worked to honor their fallen friend. "Forgive me, "said Braegar, though he could not meet Vormunds eyes "I should have help last night. I offer no excuse."

He turned to address the rest of the company, "I've decided to remain with the company, at least until we reach the Forest Gate. I was the one that was by Grimfara's side, I should have kept the spiders away from him. I need to atone for that failure." Then addressing Nolmendil, "Beorn's homestead lies between the Forest Gate and Woodland Hall. It shouldn't be too much out of the way."

This time, Braegar helped to bury the warrior, still muttering apologies. After the last bit of dirt was moved, Braegar reached into his pocket and removed a tiny figurine, and placed it atop Grimfara's grave. It was roughhewn, for it had been carved in the dark, but it was plain to see that its shape was that of a bear.


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Last edited by Helvorix; Nov 19th, 2020 at 07:14 PM.
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  #137  
Old Nov 20th, 2020, 06:07 PM
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Vidar
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Death was not something Vidar chose to relish in.

Durin's folk had seen their fare share of death and of the shadow. They had been chased from their homes and hunted by the creatures of darkness. Vidar and his father had sworn to stand against such threats and not run like their kinfolk had done in the past. Yet when it was all said and done Vidar too had run and Grimfara had paid the ultimate price for it. If he had stood his grown perhaps he would have made it?

No, Vidar knew better. The allies he had at the tower would not have left any one of them behind just for their own safety. Not Grimfara nor any of the others. This was a choice that was made by them all, despite their need to flee. If they had stayed and fought more of them would have been taken by the shadow. Vidar was starting understand why his ancestors had given up the mountain. There had to be more to it though, there had to be a way to strike back at the shadow, to make Grimfara's death mean something, anything.

"Do not blame yourself Braegar." he said to the Wanderer as he embraced his shoulder. "Grimfara knew what he was doing and he would not have left any of us to take his place if he could help it. Now we must make the most out of the opportunity he has given us and when the shadow calls... we give it an axe to its throat." he exclaimed.

"Let us move on and out of this horrible place."

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  #138  
Old Nov 23rd, 2020, 10:32 PM
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Journey through MirkwoodDestination: The Forest Gate
Approximate Travel Length: 160 miles (9 days travel)
Peril Rating: 3
  • Guide: Vormund
  • Scout: Vormund + Braegar (help action gives advantage)
  • Hunter: Braegar
  • Look-out: Nolmendil or Vidar (help action gives advantage)
Traveled Thus Far: 3 Days - 45 Miles

The Storm
The companions each dealt with the loss of Grimfara in their own way, though the pain was shared by all, made only the more acute by the knowledge that the beorning had chosen to sacrifice himself so that that they might live.

There was little option but to bury the large man in the elven glade, with at least on elf present to offer his blessing over what otherwise might not have been taken kindly.

The morning of the third day of their expedition through Mirkwood was a quite one, each still reflecting on the loss and trauma sustained less than a day ago. Belgo assisted in getting the team ready, while occasionally stealing glances at his father, though looking away before the man would ever meet his son's eyes. If ever the rift that now existed between father and son were to be healed, it was likely at the end of a long and difficult road.

Despite everything else, the remaining companions decided, to a man, to continue on the journey as they had originally intended. So it was they they were once more underway, heading down the elf-path. Although there were thankfully no more signs of the giant spiders, it was impossible to miss the gathering dark clouds that were visible through the occasional break in the canopy. As predicted, rain began to fall by midday and, in seemingly no time at all, the weather took a turn for the worse.

The forest began to grow as dark as midnight as high winds tore through the tree-tops, sending a hail of leaves and twigs down on the company. Larger branches creaked ominously, and rotten boughs cracked and tumbled. The clouds opened as though some great hand picked up the whole of the Long Lake and dumped it on the forest. Thunder and lightning crashed overhead, incredibly loud and perilously close, and water started trickling along the trees more and more copiously until dozens of little streams and rills started winding their way through the forest floor. With the path barely visible before them and the elements beating down around them, it did not take a woodsman to realize that continuing through this storm would likely be dangerous.

As lightning flashes, Vormund spots an unusual sight at some distance from the path. There is a huge dead hollow tree up ahead, and a thin plume of woodsmoke rises from the top. Someone is living inside the hollow tree!

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  #139  
Old Nov 25th, 2020, 12:40 AM
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Vormund
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Though he didn't say it, Vormund was comforted that the majority of his companions had chosen to remain. There was of course greater safety in their numbers, but it went beyond that... their time together had been brief, no more than a week, though the last three days in particular had shown the ranger the mettle of these folk. Vormund had made his share of acquaintances amongst the Lake Men during his years assisting in the rebuilding and relief efforts. He'd even made a few friends amongst the dwarves of the mountain. True companions were quite another story however, and it had been quite some time since the Dúnedain had been able to trust his life in the hands of others. Their presence brought him a measure of peace and confidence, and it was those warm thoughts that kept him going as the mournful day wore on. As the sky darkened, and the wind began to howl. As the debris from the canopy above rained down upon them, followed closely by actual raindrops.

Soon though, the storm became prohibitively dangerous, crashing thunder backing the torrential downpour that threatened to erase their road and wash them all away. Just when Vormund was questioning whether they could continue on though... the sight of smoke caught his eye. It seemed to be coming from a massive, dead, hollow tree directly ahead of them. Someone friendly? The ranger could only hope.

"STOP!" Vormund threw up a hand to signal the others, shouting to be heard over the storm. "SOMEONE'S UP AHEAD! I'M GOING TO GET A CLOSER LOOK. COVER ME AND WAIT FOR A SIGNAL!" Giving the party a nod, the ranger slung his bow over his shoulder and started forward, keeping to the path's edge as best he could as he tried to get a better look at who... or what... they had found.
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Vormund scouts the tree ahead of the party.

Stealth: 19
Perception: 15
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  #140  
Old Dec 23rd, 2020, 10:50 AM
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Nolmendil
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The elf welcomed the pouring rain and the howling wind, the rivers of mud they sloshed through and the darkness of the sky that was made all the more encompassing as it was shortly interrupted by the flashes of forked lightning. He embraced the storm because it seemed to reflect perfectly the chaos, pain and sorrow within his heart. He knew that every step he took away from Grimfara’s resting place should have made him more aware of the bigger picture behind the Man‘s great sacrifice and slowly transform his pain into bittersweet memory and gratitude. But it didn’t. Doubt and guilt poisoned Nolmendil’s perception and made it impossible for him to find meaning in what had transpired despite the beautiful words spoken and gestures performed as they had tried to honor the one who was lost forever.

The moment the elf felt the first raindrops against his cheeks, much like the tears he dared not let flow, he had looked towards the sky and given his silent permission. Rain, rain and carry away the burden of my heart. Let it be lost among the roots of the ancient trees of this dark forest, never to be seen again. Now however that the storm had grown so strong it seemed it might be the end of them, the cacophony of thunder rivaled by the noise of groaning and occasionally breaking wood all around them, Nolmendil regretted his eagerness to witness the full force of the elements. His immature and primitive desire added to his guilt as if he himself had somehow caused or was sustaining the storm. He knew the notion was foolish and that no other than the most powerful of the Istari could have had such control over the elements, but he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he was somehow responsible for the storm too.

When Vormund announced to them the existence of possible shelter, Nolmendil’s heart rejoiced. The smoke he saw escaping from the huge hollowed tree before them and the promise of fire it offered seemed like the only possible hope for the battered travelers, ist light and warmth the only thing that could keep away the darkness around them and the one within. Nodding to the Dúnedain to show him his agreement, the elf purposely approached Baldor and brave Belgo, whom he had not heard complaining once ever since the storm broke.

"Stay next to me!", he shouted, his words barely heard over the wind and pouring rain. Even his sharp elven eyes could just make out the tree hollow through the veil of heavy rain before him and the target. He unshouldered his bow, took an arrow out of his quiver and placed it against the weapon’s wood, all the while following with his gaze Vormund’s form that seemed to be as insubstantial as a shadow. I have to be ready if something goes wrong. I have to be ready!

 
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