Book 1: Act 1 - Don't Leave the Path

It is the year 2946 of the Third Age, and the lands east of the Misty Mountains are astir. From the cloud-shrouded peaks above the High Pass to the spider-infested gloom of the forest of Mirkwood, paths long-deserted are trodden once again. Busy merchants carry their wares to new markets, messengers bring tidings from foreign realms, and kings send forth armed men to extend their influence and the rule of law. Some say that a new age of freedom has begun, a time for adventure and great deeds to reclaim glories lost in long centuries of oppression and decline.

But adventures are not really things that people go out and look for. They are dangerous and rarely end well. While it is true that a handful of valiant individuals set out to make their mark on the world, for others it seems that adventure chooses them, as though it is the path they are fated to tread. They are restless warriors, curious scholars and wanderers, always eager to seek what was lost or explore what was forgotten. Ordinary people call them adventurers, and when they return successful, they call them heroes. But if they fail, no one will even remember their names...

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Re: Day 25: The Forest Gate

Post by Muskrat » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:39 am

"I will come with you as well. I am not keen to go back under Mirkwood's eaves without a proper rest. And I have visited the Woodmen before and would like to see them again," says Varuthil. She can't bring herself to say that she would also miss her companions' company, though the more intuitive of them may be able to deduce that for themselves.

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Re: Day 25: The Forest Gate

Post by Eilandor » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:53 pm

Wren hops off his barrel as they exit Mirkwood. "Ah, sunlight!" He is pleased that there appear to be no more voices, no apparent conversations with himself anymore. As he joins the others, something is a bit off. Wren is more reserved, less joking than before and he can't place it.

When the conversation turns to parting ways or continuing on, "I will see this through a bit more."
Number Two: "You are number six."
Number Six: "I am not a number, I am a free man!"
Number Two: "Muh ha ha ha ha!"

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Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by Vardaen » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:40 pm

Baldor smiles wide, "Excellent! Once we arrive in Woodland Hall I'll give you your reward as promised. No sense in unloading all that now. Its a little over a week from here, due south. We'll keep the forest on our left and not set foot in there again until we reach the Woodmen's lands."

You spend about and hour here, its a good time for a meal, and everyone just needs the rest. After that Borir falls back into his role as guide and gets you up and moving.

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You are on the edge of what is considered the East Upper Vales, but you turn your back on that land as you travel south. Pluck a stay-at-home Hobbit from his comfortable life in the Shire and drop him in the East Middle Vales of Wilderland, and — once he gets over the shock and has a revivifying cup of tea, some seed-cake, and a nice sit down — you will certainly hear him comment on how nice this region seems to him. “A little unkempt”, he'll say, “the grass needs cutting, the trees need a good trim, and you'll have to do something about the roads, but it somehow reminds me of the Shire.” The East Middle Vales are a region of rich, fertile land. Green meadows and low rounded hills run from the River to the Forest. Vast fields of flowers blossom with a thousand vibrant colours in the summer, and there is good hunting in the woods come autumn.

Despite appearances, this is still the Wild. The land may be bountiful, but it is far from safe. Even under Beorn's protection, the folk who dwell here must be stalwart and brave, for Orcs and other monsters often threaten to trespass. The Vales are bounded by the Great River on the west side, Mirkwood on the east side. To the north is the Elfwood and the hard land of the Viglundings. The south edge of this region is undefined. Beorn's territory once ended at the Old Forest Road, but now his followers have settlements many miles south of that. Where the Middle Vales end and the East Anduin Vales begin is a matter for debate between the Beornings and the Woodmen of Mirkwood.

Two days after leaving Mirkwood you pass a rocky height on the edge of Mirkwood. The twin-horned hill that the locals call the Giant's Axe-cut. It stands close to the border of Mirkwood, forty miles north of the House of Beorn. Ancient stones piled on the top of both hilltops seem to suggest that the hills once rose as one, and that a fort stood up there. Two days after that you are deep within the lands of the Beornings. The droning of bees and the chirping of birds is everywhere in the land of the Beornings. Huge bees as big as your thumb wander through the grasslands, looking for flowers. Foxes, rabbits, squirrels and other wild animals can also be found here in great numbers; the Vales are a profusion of life. These creatures are not tainted by the evils of Mirkwood. The squirrels of the East vales are fiery red, not the eerie black of their Mirkwood cousins. Unsurprisingly, many bears live in the thickets.

Baldor gives a wide birth to the forest coming up, "Not far to the east is a place known as the Grey Heath. They say once long ago a great battle with the Necromancer was fought there. Today nothing grows, and it is a evil and grey place to be avoided." He takes you a good few hours out of your way to avoid the place.

A day after that you cross the Old Forest Road. The Dwarf-road (Men-i-Naugrim in the Elvish tongue) is a wonder of the northern world. It runs for two hundred miles across the middle of Mirkwood, and is the dividing line between the north and south parts of the forest. The road is ten feet wide, and paved with stone. Your path takes you over it, a notable landmark for you last leg. Borir comments on the work of his kin, "The western part of the road uses stone brought from the vales of Anduin, but the eastern portion was quarried in the Mountains of Mirkwood. The road is flanked on either side by a ditch for drainage and a raised stone embankment to keep the forest back. The Dwarves built a waystation every twenty miles. These were sturdy stone buildings with extensive cellars and stables for ponies. They also built three larger keeps, one at either end of the road and the third roughly halfway. The Westfort which once stood at the western end of the road is gone, as Northmen quarried it for stone long ago. Most of the smaller waystations are either gone the same way or swallowed by the forest." He stands on the road a bit longer than the rest of you.

South of the Old Forest Road you enter into the East Anduin Vale. A visitor to this part of the Vales of Anduin would be
forgiven for thinking that this land is empty. The land rolls on for hundreds of miles beside the river, endless green valleys running down to the Great River. To the east is the ever-present shadow of the forest like a black stain on the horizon. While few people live here, the land remembers them. There were kingdoms here, long ago, and armies watered the soil with their blood. The visitor must clamber over ruined stone walls, or perhaps make camp amid the barely-visible foundations of some old village. The tumbledown remains of ringforts crown every large hill from the Old Ford to the Undeeps and Elven paths run along the border of Mirkwood for many miles. The Woodmen of Mirkwood live in this region — or at least their herds do. Their villages lie deep in the forest, but they keep herds of cattle and sheep in the open dales. Young men and women tend to the herds with the help of dogs, and run back to the shelter of the forest when threatened.

Some of the denizens of Mirkwood, like the black boars and stags, emerge from the darkness of the forest and cross the vales here, but they are a rare sight. More commonly encountered are the usual wildlife of the Anduin valley, like foxes, badgers, otters, wild ponies and sheep. Hunting Eagles from the Eyrie often cross the river in search of prey. The Woodmen of Mirkwood let their animals graze in the valleys of this region. They maintain pens and herder's cabins close to the edge of the forest.

You turn east, into the eves of Mirkwood once more, but your trip is short this time only about ten miles from the edge of Mirkwood into the forest. The forest seems less evil here, and the signs of hamlets or villages hidden among the trees lifts that doom you felt in the north.

Finally eight day after leaving Mirkwood, and thirty three after leaving the Elven Hall of Thandruil, you can see your goal in front of you. It has been nearly forty days since you met Baldor and Belgo outside the kite festival in Dale, and now you have all arrived in Woodland Hall.


Woodland Hall — Wuduseld in the language of the Vales of Anduin — is the youngest but also the largest of the Woodman settlements in Mirkwood. Those fleeing the returning Shadow in the south chose this place around five hundred years ago, and they built their first home atop a defensible mound. They found that the northern forests gave good hunting, and attracted many settlers from both the southern settlements and outside Mirkwood.

The folk of Wuduseld are the friendliest and most open of the Woodmen. They have the most contact with the Beornings and the Elves, and are somewhat sheltered from the worst evils of the forest. However, without the protection of powerful allies like Radagast, they are especially vulnerable to the threat of the Shadow.

An intricate hedge surrounding the village is the tallest the Woodmen have ever raised west of the forest. It is reinforced by an ancient stockade, raised atop an earthen rampart. The older stakes composing the wooden barrier are intricately wound with carvings, and are considered to magically protect the hall.

Baldor stands looking at the Woodman Town with a smile. "We made it."
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This tract of oakwood is the most thickly populated region in Mirkwood. Here dwell the Woodmen of Mirkwood. Their small hamlets and cottages are within a mile inside the forest edge — deep enough to offer protection from attackers, but not so far from their farmland. Their two larger settlements are hidden in the shadowy depths of the wood, and the trails to these refuges are well hidden and guarded by sentries. Whenever the Woodmen fear attackers, the farmers on the forest fringe pack up and bring their families and herds to the safety of Woodland Hall or Woodmen-town.

To the east of this region flows the Dusky River, which springs somewhere in the Haunted Hills and meanders west and south. The river's water is silted and dark, hence its name, but the water is drinkable — most of the time. Sometimes, animal carcasses — rotting and curiously misshapen, as if they were mutilated before they died — wash down from the Haunted Hills, and they carry with them illness and foul water.

The river is navigable, and the Woodmen use flatbottomed boats to travel between Woodland Hall and Woodmen-town. The river empties into a wide lake called the Black Tarn. The still waters here are mirror-smooth and tranquil. Herons wade amid the reeds on the edges of the lake, hunting fish and eels. The southern edge of the lake is ringed by low wooded hills.

Hidden trails from the northern banks of the lake run through tangled pine-woods to the forest edge and the home of the wizard Radagast, Rhosgobel.

Parts of the Western Eaves, especially around the Woodman settlements, are almost pleasant. The Woodmen thinned the trees, letting a little sunlight filter through the canopy. They made clearings as woodland pasture for their herds. Children play in the bushes near Woodmen-town. Still, this is Mirkwood — the pall of darkness still hangs heavy, even under the noonday sun. There is no safety in Mirkwood. One of those running children might stray five minutes walk from home, and find herself utterly lost amid unfamiliar trees.
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"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by TetNak » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:29 pm

"Woodland Hall," Aerth says, looking up at it from afar. "It has been ten years since I was here last," he says off-hand. "I have friends here."

He looks over to Baldor, suddenly realizing their fellowship has ended. He wonders if the man and his son will be able to return through Mirkwood. Aerth doubts it, but does not ask of Baldor's plans as of yet.
"Kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies."

- King Stannis Baratheon, First of His Name

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by Trogdor » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:54 pm

"I didn't come south of the Old Forest Road on my trip out of Dale," Pipkin adds. "So I never saw Woodland hall before. I'm eager to see how the Beornings live."

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by Vardaen » Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:38 pm

Baldor corrects Pipkin, "These are the Woodmen, do not confuse them with the Beornings. While the two are friendly for the most part, they are not the same. Since the Beornings started to move south of the Old Forest Road tensions have started to grow." He points, "Come on, let's head to the gate. We can find a place to stay, and I can divide up your rewards. Belgo and I will be staying here till spring. I don't know your plans but I'm sure the Woodman will welcome you through winter if you want to stay."
We are nearing the end of the adventure phase. Please look up the Fellowship Phase. In the OOC we can chat about options and things you'll want to do, setting up Sanctuaries and other things, along with spending XP and AP.
"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by Muskrat » Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:20 am

"I have visited the Woodmen before with my foster father, but I have not been here before. I will be interested to see this place," says Varuthil. "And I certainly have little desire to travel through Mirkwood in the winter."

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by TetNak » Thu Feb 06, 2014 9:42 pm

"I have to agree with Varuthil on that point," Aerth says, "The less Mirkwood the better."

"Come, I can negotiate with somewhere we might stay."
I'm assuming that Aerth has been here, V. He's a 'woodsman' and this area is his wheelhouse. He could have distant relatives/friends here.
"Kings have no friends, only subjects and enemies."

- King Stannis Baratheon, First of His Name

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Re: Day 33: Woodland Hall

Post by Shurijo » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:38 pm

Borir glances back towards the road a few times and then hints at it as they continue walking. "Too bad, there's not a road heading this way. That was some fine craftsmanship, huh?"

Once they arrive in the town, the dwarf continues alongside the others waiting to see the village and facilities.

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Settling In at Woodland Hall

Post by Vardaen » Thu Feb 06, 2014 10:45 pm

Aerth is home. He may have elven blood running through veins, but he was raised here in Woodland Hall, and the surrounding villages. So with Baldor, who also has been here before, you make your way through the hedge gate and into the small woodmen town that circles around Wuduseld. Over the course of the next two days you get yourselves settled into a nice little Inn to spend some time and help Baldor and Belgo make contact with his partners and unload his trade good. He makes sure to suitably reward you all, and you soon each have a chest of gold coins that will make your stay here very very comfortable. As promised Baldor is very grateful for your help, but over the course of the winter, should you stay here, you loose touch with him, but from time to time you spot Belgo running the streets with the other children in Woodland Hall; the shadow that was over him lifted, and the weakening bond between him and his father seems to not deter him from being a child.

It is coming to the point where winter has arrived, snow is seen on the trees, and the cold morning turn into cold days, and stay through the night. You have come to a point in your adventure where you turn your thoughts to less dangerous past times, of food and hearth, of brightening your time here, or of returning home before it is too late.
Everyone gets 2 Points of Treasure for getting Baldor's Caravan here without a loss of cargo! And with Aerth being a Woodmen you have no trouble locating a place to stay within your budget.

We are at the end of the Adventure Phase. Please look at Fellowship options. The Fellowship Phase will be its own thread and starting soon. You have one loose end I want to wrap up before we move on to that. Also check the Advancement thread for XP/AP. I also added a map of Woodland Hall to the OOC as well.
"He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf
J.R.R. Tolkien, Council of Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring

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