Tales from Middle-Earth

The Marsh-Bell - Part 1

The first adventure

When Spring 2946

Setting Starts in Esgaroth (Lake-Town)

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What Two Dwarven messengers left the Lonely Mountain several days ago on an errand. They now seem to have disappeared in the Long Marshes. The Kingdom under the Mountain is astir, and the news quickly reaches Dale and Esgaroth.

While visiting Esgaroth to seek his fortune, Veig, had met and befriended a hobbit female named Pansy Proudfoot. Pansy had travelled to Lake-Town to visit where “Mad” Baggins had found his fortune, or so the story went. During her journey Pansy met two folk of the Woodland Realm, Sid and Luvon Uranlys who now accompanied her. Veig put up with the elves because of Pansy.

One afternoon while visiting the market, Veig, was met by Hraf son of Hrabin, a Raven of the Mountain. Hraf related sinister tidings to Veig. ‘Two Dwarven messengers who left the Lonely Mountain on an errand are nowhere to be found. The Kingdom under the Mountain is astir, and Glóin the Dwarf himself has spread word that whoever provides news of the missing Dwarves will be richly rewarded.’

Hearing of this the companions agreed to meet with Glóin.

Glóin welcomed the company to his hall. He emerged from his private quarters, wiping ink from his fingers with barely contained impatience as his duties in Esgaroth kept him busy with lots of paperwork. At this time Glóin is 163 years old and an accomplished veteran who likes to consider that his adventuring days aren’t over yet. He was wearing rich clothes of different colours with white trimming, matching the hue of the two points of his forked beard. Glóin who is said to be very courteous and fair-spoken under most circumstances, was found to be impatient and in a foul mood with no time for cunning words. He glanced suspiciously at the two elves.

Wisely the group had chosen the Dwarf, Veig, to speak for them. This seemed to put Glóin somewhat at ease.

While sketching a route the two lost dwarves had planned to take on a piece of parchment Glóin related the following:

“My cousin Balin son of Fundin has left the Lonely Mountain with a companion. He was meant to personally deliver a letter, a formal invitation from King Dáin Ironfoot to the Lord of the Eagles for the coming Gathering of Five Armies, an important meeting to be held at the beginning of summer. He planned to go south along the Running River, to investigate the conditions of the Old Forest Road and possibly traverse it, now that the threat of Goblins has been greatly reduced.”

“I don’t know what happened, but unfortunately the possibilities are many in these days of doubt… if the perils of Wilderland were not enough, there are always the suspicious dwellers of the Woodland Realm to consider. They are sworn enemies of the Shadow, but unfortunately they don’t love Dwarves and watch their land jealously. I hope my concerns are ill-placed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Balin had found himself again a guest of the Elvenking’s celebrated hospitality…” he ended again glancing at Sid and Luvon.

The company also learned from Glóin that his older brother Óin was the dwarf that accompanied Balin.

Glóin promised that if the two missing Dwarves are brought back alive to Lake-Town, every surviving adventurer would be awarded with much silver and gold. (in game terms 5 points of Treasure)

Glóin provided the company with the map he sketched out and papers permitting them to borrow boats from the Lake-men.

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The group planned their route and departed Esgaroth for the Stair of Girion. The Stair of Girion is a paved portage trackway, built long ago by the Lake-men with the help of Dwarven masons, allowing for the swift transport of boats and their contents from the lake down to where the Running River resumes its course beyond the falls (or up to the lake from the river, for boats coming from the south). Entire boats can be loaded on wheeled carts, that are then pulled along grooves dug into the paved trackway.

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The companions arrived at the Stair the evening of their first day of travel. They were met by the young porters, who were excited to see adventurers and invited them to stay the night before they continued their journey.

The Lake-men, while being entertained with song by the travelers, introduced the company to an ancient-looking individual, old Nerulf: the decrepit Northman was hardly intelligible when he spoke, but when told that the companions were heading south he began to repeat over and over again what seemed some words of warning or rhyme of lore he may have learnt when he was a child: “If you go south in the marshes take heed: tread lightly and fear the gallowsweed…”

Navigating the marshes proved to be more difficult than the group had planned for and they found themselves growing wearier and wearier as the days wore on. As if the difficulty of traveling the marsh wasn’t enough, the oppressiveness of this dank, blighted place caused them to question why they set out on this mission in the first place.

Eventually the more keen-eyed of the group was able to spy out the path followed by Balin and Óin. They followed this path were they came upon the traces of a days-old encampment. Searching the area they found that the two Dwarves had set up camp but for some reason didn’t sleep there. They also found a small ivory jewel case tucked in a rotten stump and covered with a Dwarven Spell of Secrecy. The jewel case was intricately carved with images of regal-looking birds: the Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains. The box was found to contain a written and illuminated parchment, King Dáin’s letter to the King of the Eagles. The letter was rolled and wound about by a fine necklace of twisted gold wire, holding a magnificent precious stone of a snowy colour the size of a small fist: when the box was first opened, the surrounding light was caught and multiplied by the jewel’s countless facets, making the box shine as if it contained an inner light. It was most assuredly a lordly gift, intended to pass from one king to another. The heroes overcame a desire to possess the stone which began to kindle in their hearts when the first viewed it.

The exhausted group set up their camp in the same location as the dwarves camp and quickly fell into a deep slumber.

Sid was on watch when he saw a prodigious number of flickering lights emanating from a nearby pool. When he rose to investigate it he was attacked by a wounded Stone-Troll that had been hiding nearby.
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The company archer closed to combat the troll calling out for help. Luvon was the first roused from his slumber to assist his fellow elf. The rest of the heroes eventually joined the battle. All the while the brave Sid, a trained archer, battled the troll toe to toe attempting to give as good as he got. Luvon smote the foul beast with several mighty blows. Pansy and Veig also acquitted themselves quite well in this first test of the groups combat prowess. The battle ended none too soon with the troll vanquished and Sid all but unconscious. They inspected the trolls corpse and saw that it had recently been injured by a mighty axe blow. If not for that injury, the companions wondered how else might the fight have turned out.

While the story ends here for now…..the adventure will continue….

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lordrodd

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