To my dearest Sister,
This adventuring thing certainly is full of suprises, and I find myslef remaining away from home for longer than expected. The others and myself will be living with the Woodsmen at Woodland Hall, on the Southwestern edge of Mirkwood. The atmosphere is quite the contrast from our home of carved stone and anvil fires. Wood is their people's crafting material, which being so near the woods makes a certain amount of sense, though the smell is…I'm told fresh is the correct word, but I find its more a mix of sap, smoke…and wet dog. They have these mighty dogs that they train to assist them in hunts, keep watch, explore, and even just as imposing comrades. Though they certainly can be adorable at times. Strange though I haven't seen them walk on two legs like Beorn's dogs.
But I am getting beyond your interests here, but I'm sure my other tale is going to be more to your liking. Our first adventurous task was to assist the Legendary Balin and his two protégé on gauging how salvageable the old Dwarf Road through Mirkwood was. It was an arduous journey, the woods were haunting more often than enchanting, and we were beset by all manner of beast of flesh and even bark! Unfortunately, during an orc attack that we fought off inside an abandoned and shambling dwarf watchtower, the mighty dwarf protégés and brothers, Torrun and Barrak, fell while protecting Balin. The two were worthy of praise and honor, and they had earned this well before this journey. Unbeknownst to me until we bid Balin farewell as we journeyed back to the Woodland Hall, I saw Balin to the outskirts of our divergent paths. It was there he showed me the legacy of the brother's family, for in his hands was a Helm of Awe!
Even not being donned, it has a fire to it, you can feel the fierceness of all the dwarven fore bearers that came before, including the echoes of Barrak. Not only did it host such energy, but the craftsmanship shines upon those of the ancient days! The stories etched into its fierce draconic maw make we wonder if Barrak's ancestors took part in the Battle of Nirnaeth Arnoediad, standing alongside Lord Azaghâl against the fierce Glaurung! I was literally in awe of its make, that I swore I misheard Balin when he told me that he had decided to give such a legendary treasure to me. Even to this moment, I'm not sure I am the right dwarf to carry such a legacy, record it maybe…but bear it? Balin was so certain and I dare speak him no ill accidentally for my doubting of myself. But you just have to see it, its truly an honor for our family to continue its legacy.
Well, I must get back to the studying! It's proving difficult with all the new wonders I've seen on my journey, but I feel I am beginning to figure out the pieces to that rune I was working on before I left on this journey. Should I just be able to get it to ignite, it will no doubt be useful in such places as Mirkwood. I hope everything is well at home, let Veig and Idúnn know that I am well and in good company.
May your hammer always ring true,
Well, our time with the Woodsmen was certainly an interesting experience. I was unused to not being pulled around to this or that, and was impressed to see the bonds that the Woodsmen all have for one another. It goes beyond being one people, there is the fire of kinship within each of their eyes, and even the most minor of grievances the people face as a group.
Woodmen of Wilderland: Hardy folk composed of families and greater clans. Survivors of many threats with the strength of their bonds of kinship with one another. Woman live up to the same standards as the men, expected to hunt and battle alongside their husbands and friends as they all fight for each other. Train large dogs that assist them in hunting, keeping watch, and more. I've been told that they are often assisted by Radagast the Brown, the Wizard!
It was certainly an eventful stay for my companions. Brunhild spent a lot of time training with her shield learning, it seems, to utilize it not only for defense, but Offense as well. Additionally, she seemed to join in some of the revelry of the songs and stories around her, you could see the ease wash over her.
Dorian had some unexpected visitors during our stay, cloaked individuals that share many looks to the man they sought, they delivered some impressive long, black-feathered arrows. I'm told that they are called Númenórean Arrows, and I'm sure with such a delivery system that there is a truly amazing story to their history, I will have to ask Dorian when we have time next. Addtionally, Dorian and Sassafras both joined the Woodsmen on a hunt, and they brought back a mighty, and delicious, boar together. Both seemed to learn much from the venture.
The hunt fit in well with Sassafras's training with the bow! Elrynn was able to show her some new tricks, but based on the gleam I saw on Sassafras's eyes, well besides the stars from being near Elrynn, the hobbit has a few new tricks all her own with that bow.
Besides the training sessions with Sassafras, both of them sharpening their skills with the weapon, Elrynn spend much of his time time wandering the hills and nearby trees with a mighty beat ringing from his lips. It seems he was working on a song of Victory to share with all of us in the company. From what I've heard it sounded like things were really coming along, and it will no doubt shake the bravery from our foes. Also, with the help of the Woodsmen, Elrynn had his buckler reinforced for better protection.
As for myself, I did much of the usual. Mostly locked myself to my books, the Woodsmen didn't seem the kind for physical copies of lore. I listened to their many tales, and have inscribed the ones that I could to the best of my abilities. Just, reading back, some of them seem to have lost the narrative flair that active storytelling exudes. I also managed to get the rune I was working on to finally glow with power, if only briefly. The only way to tell if the spell works, I suppose, is field testing it. I'm sure the others won't mind, as it promises us more constant travels and safer rests with no watch needed…well at least if there is a place to carve it…and if it works. Besides that, I have been adjusting to the wondrous gift that Balin bequeathed to me. The helm has a fierceness to it that I am unsure that I can reflect, not being a dwarven warrior. When no one was looking I would sneak into the pens and practice being ferocious with the dogs. They were nice enough to play along…I think. Though the animals seemed to notice the ridiculousness of the practice too. Just hope no one saw me, I can be quite sneaky when needed. Grr. At least I got some laughs out of it, and my caution has made me, at least I feel, a little bit better at reading people…and maybe even dogs.
Still all things come to an end eventually, and I'm sure the whole company was ready to get a move on. As if answering our wanderlust, a Raven of the Mountain found my ear. Its name was Holth, and it was a friend of Gloin. It flew all this way to tell us that Gloin wishes us to return to Lake-Town to meet with him, as he has received a letter from none other than King Bard, King of the Dale, and wishes to deliver it to us. After I thanked Holth and he flew away, I went to deliver the news to the rest of the Company.
With a new goal, we all said our farewells and bid Ingomer thanks for his hospitality before hitting the roads again. We decided not to venture along the Old Dwarf Road, the path still in too bad of condition to travel on with any speed or hint of safety. And so, we headed North past Mirkwood altogether and then around the forest to Lake-Town. While it was a longer journey, it was much safer and a lot faster when time is considered, and we arrived back to Lake-Town's sloshy embrace once more on September 28th.
After a quick stop to say hello to the Mercer family, who were gladdened at our safety, we proceded to visit Gloin's mansion. Seems Balin was excited to share tales of our journey, which is good news for us, as Gloin already seemed well informed in our ventures. Not only that, but Balin had retrieved the borrowed boat we had used and left our hidden treasure with Gloin, who handed it over along with paying us for our last venture to Gwaihir. After talks of the journey, Gloin told us that he believed that Balin had spoke of our tales to King Bard and is creating quite a reputation for us, as Gloin handed us a scroll sealed with the image of a thresh.
Dorian opened it and read it for us. It was a short and sweet message summoning our Company to King Bard's courts to speak with him of a matters of great importance! The company didn't seem the type to keep a King waiting, and all were for investigating the King's desires. Gloin asked us if we had been to the Dale recently, as well as if we had much knowledge on the place. Brunhild mentioned that she visited the Dale from time to time on business, but other than that it seems our Company's experience with the city was limited. Gloin, in good spirits, told us that should we need assistance journeying through the city, we could use his son Gimli as a guide. Dorian said that Gimli's assistance would be most generous. It will be nice to learn from another dwarf about the city.
After Gloin's welcoming meeting, and a few comments from the others of having a smell about me (maybe I was hanging with the dogs more than I thought?) we began to prepare for our venture to Dale. Gloin recommended that we take a boat as it would spare us the walk (which I'm sure our feet would thank us after our journey around Mirkwood) and reduce the travel time to less than a day. That seemed like a brilliant idea, and while most of us worked on renting a boat, Brunhild set out on discovering a buyer for the amulet she discovered inside the Troll's warren. While there wasn't currently a buyer in Lake-Town, Brunhild did discover that an elf named Lothiriel could be a potential buyer, and luckily for us she resided within Dale! So we all boarded our rented vessel and prepared for the journey Northward across the Celduin River
Around Mid-day we reached the Northern end of the Lake and were granted a breath-taking view of Erebor and the city of Dale that resided below the mountain's mighty gaze. And as the sun began to set we entered the outskirts of the Dale.
The city of Dale: Daale has been rebuilt mostly with the help of the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain. Across the are over one hundred bell towers of differing sizes and shapes, some even looking rather exotic for the area, and others almost impossible to tell the builder's origins. The bells ring providing music or ringing the hours throughout the day. Brunhild tells me that they are called Merry Bells.
Merry Bells: Famous bells that ring throughout Dale's multitude of towers that are constructed as part of the noble's promise to build Dale to the sky.. Built as a compeittion between nobles of Dale to see who can be the best or biggest bell tower for a chance to serve as advisers to the King. Interesting way to choose who should give you advice.
Even as we only beginning to float into the port of Dale, it was easy to see it was busy…if not busier than Lake-Town. A Diverse display of boats fought with one another for entry, exit, or a place to rest its bows. Some boats have come the many reaches of Middle-Earth, and of which I am just now seeing for the first time. Many shops are built throughout the stone masonry of the city that incorporates the river as it flows its way around the town, stone bridges stretching to connect the separate pieces.
As we landed the ship, and began to disembark we noticed there was a dwarf waiting on the pier. Seeing us, he waved and approached. Gloin was right in that his picture wasn't up-to-date, as the prominent dwarf that stood before us was a much older version of Gloin's son. His name was Gimli and he seemed eager to assist us in finding our way around the vast city. Gimli informed us that, at this late hour, it would be unlikely for us to get an audience with King Bard, but with that in mind we were free to peruse the city at our leisure. Gimli was ready to advise us on the multitude of shops and services in the town, but couldn't host us for the night as his home was instead within the Erebor.
Dorian is the first to make a request, seeking a tavern to wet our whistles, I believe is how he put it, and preferably one with an Inn as well. Gimli offered a whole host of places in which we could go, but the one that captured Dorian's fancy, at least the first time, was the King's Crown Tavern & Inn.
King's Crown Tavern & Inn:Gimli informs us that it's a family run establishment with private drinking rooms, food offerings ranging from a simple cheese platter to seven course meals all served by enjoyable servers.
However, the place that the Company decides to head to first is instead the Laden Platter, I think Dorian was worried that the King's Crown Tavern & Inn may be a bit pricey for our Company. I was slightly disappointed at the time that we could have missed out on opportunity to sleep on a finer bed, the decision was made and Gimli weaved us through the streets of Dale.
Laden Platter: A place ran by an unlikely pair. A Human from the Eastern lands named Kimic Farstrider who is quite a storyteller, even if they are somewhat naughtier tales. Charismatic and always draws in a crowd. Farstrider's partner is the Dwarf named Ru'gen Stoneheir who seems to be competing with Bombur to be the fairest dwarf in all the land. With a jovial belly, Ru'gen makes quite the chief sitting in a throne-like chair within a cut counter to fit him.
The roads of dale seemed to all be paved with different stones, each with a varied color to denote the street one was currently on, with the streets named after the color. The way was illuminated by streetlamps, and was decorated by magnificent fountains that acented the sounds of the calm river floating visitors and goods through the canal. Crossing the river are dozens of stone bridges using double and sometimes triple arches. Some were wide enough only for people to walk across in a single file line, but others would allow much larger traffic and wagons to cross. Construction and improvements are still ongoing throughout the city, and the clanging of anvils and even the burst of explosions cam be heard coming from the direction of the Raven's Gate, which opens up to the path leading to Erebor. Echoing the beat of the anvil were the cries of the salesmen, with some shops being open all night long…though with the expected quieter calls. We pass what appears to be a woodworker's shop putting the finishing touches of a caravan together, and a warehouse that we could hear what sounded like an auction underway. Additionally, we pass The Nest which hosts the guard.
The Nest: A Strange looking officials building that serves as the home to the main guard of the town. It's a heavily reinforced keep named after the emblem of a thrush that all the guards wear. It's the largest of the guard keeps and patrols leave it in squads four men strong.
Finally, we arrive at the feast halls of the Laden Platter. Inside all visitors shared tables or a seat at the large bar that was located near the kitchen. A couple of large fires roar and illuminate the building as waiters carry orders around the floor and customers. Behind the counter one can see one of the proprietors, Farstrider, wearing a turbin, and talking to a number of patrons. Nearby in his throne-like chair Ru'gen was chopping vegetables for someones future meal.
We all sat down and called a waiter over for some drinks. The bar was serving a wide variety of beverages ranging from cheap, watered down ale to fancy, and expensive, wine. Brunhild orders some wine that Elrynn and her share. Sassafras and Dorian order themselves some beer and I just get some ale. Gimli orders himself a beer as well and tells us about the Drunken Stone, an event held at the Festival of the Five Armies, that is basically a drinking contest, of which Gimili plans on entering.
As for food, the menu was marked on a large chalkboard, with several erase-caused streaks showing that is changes as the seasons do. Dorian orders himself some fish and Sassafras orders some Perch. Brunhild, at the waiter's recommendation, ordrs some pheasant and turnips while Elrynn orders some elven greens. I keep thing simple with a fine cut of beef and, of course, some cram and butter to enjoy with it.
After we all enjoy our meal, we follow Dorian up to the bar where we listen with the crowd to some of Farstrider's tales, this particular one about a woman being seduced in Harad. Despite the stories content, Farstrider's smokey eyes could easily pull in any crowd, and his vibrant exuberance was enrapturing, he was quite the storyteller. Around 10 PM, we decide it's probably time to order our rooms, unfortunately for us, however, we were told a group of fifteen dwarfs had recently arrived and rented out the last few rooms. Needing a place to stay, the Company once again consulted with Gimli on finding a place to rest. The Starry Crown was brought up, but I mentioned that Dorian had already mentioned staying at the King's Crown Tavern and Inn, though this was purely me hinting that I'd prefer it to a less reputable place, and the company agreed.
The Starry Crown: a fairly rowdy place, but not anywhere near as ill-reputable as the Loused and Soused.
The King's Crown seems as nice as it was told to us, and, upon us purchasing our rooms (Brunhild and I being able to host the rest of the company) Gimli bid us his farewells before heading for his home in Erebor, telling us that he would return in the morning.. As we relaxed in the tavern, Dorian seemed to take an interest in the game of Chess that seemed to be played within. Seeing his interest, I offered to teach him how to play, with the caveat that I haven't played in some time. Dorian agreed and we played several matches together. I must admit I played maybe overly well on the first game, though Dorian was only learning so it doesn't say much to my skill. In fact, as Dorian got more and more a hang for the game, it seemed like I got sloppier and sloppier. I still won the next two matches, but Dorian was close and it was by no means the most beautiful of victories. Sassafras then offered to play, and she won that match. She, and I, were confident in her skills, though I think we were both getting tired as I'm sure it could've gone better for both of us. During all these chess-capades Elrynn and Brunhild practiced the song that Elrynn had written, too bad the chess victories weren't as exuberant as the song was.
Soon we all retired to our rooms, the ladies in theirs and the men in ours. Elrynn seemed preoccupied this particular evening, and seemed to be keeping his eye on the door as if waiting for someone to barge in. Dorian on the other seemed to believe that the bed should be shared, despite me calling it and was all too willing to share. The next morning, however, I've heard that I make quite the uncomfortable sleeping companion, which I'm unsure if that is a good thing or bad thing. The bed, however, was quite comfortable and much improvement over the dirt and mud of mirkwood and its swamp, and even the cots of the Woodsmen. I was ready for the day!
Gimli was already enjoying himself a nice beer in the tavern when we all awoke, he certainly is an early riser! Would probably make a great adventurer. We order a nice breakfast of gruel and biscuits, Brunhild receiving some honey to help her biscuits truly shine. I believe most of us had the tea. As we enjoyed the morning's meal, Gimli informed us that King Bard has been interviewing more than one group, and told us that we may have to prove ourselves in order to earn the task, Sassafras was shocked at the idea to be summoned all this way just for an interview for a job. Dorian found the situation interesting and, I'm surprised to say, said he was looking forward to the interview. I wasn't too sure of it, I'm good once I'm talking about topics that I'm knowledgeable about, but the politics of introduction seems silly, why not just a simple introduction and get to what everything is about instead of all the grandiose performance? Still, I felt confident in my companions of making a good impression, and maybe the Helm of Awe could make me appear more worthy of respect.
Brunhild asked Gimli if he had discovered what this was all for, but unfortunately Gimli was as informed as we were on that front. Still, we had an audience with the King to look forward to today, and much to do to prepare for it. Our first stop was to the bank, were we all deposited some, in my case all, of our collected treasures that we had gathered on the trip to the Aerie so it wouldn't weigh us down on our next journey, that was hopefully sometime soon. Then, we took Brunhild to sell her amulet at Lothiriel the Jeweller.
Lothiriel: A half-elven jeweller that works within the city of Dale. She has what appears to be a simple shop, but contains a vast array of jewelry displayed in glass fixtures all of which worth a pretty penny and only accessible to a wealthy buyer. I know not what the other half of her blood is, but she almost appears like it could be Dunedain.
Brunhild informs Lothiriel of how she obtained the wondrous amulet (from the warren of a troll), and with a obviously enamored listener Brunhild set the starting offer well above its worth (75 treasures). With her sales background, however, Brunhild was easily able to get a deal worth more than we believed the piece to be (55 treasures), but Lothiriel had to obtain the amount and told Brunhild to return by the end of the day and she would have the agreed amount. Brunhild thanked her and complimented Lothiriel's vast collection of beautiful jeweled pieces. As we were leaving, Dorian mentioned to Brunhild that she may want to keep the amulet as it could make a good bargaining chip in the Company's future (As Lothiriel mentioned King Thranduil as a prospective buyer). Brunhild told him that she would think of it.
With all the fun with money taken care of, we ask Gimli to guide us to the Royal Palace, it was time to seek an audience with the King. As we arrive at the Palace's gate, we are stopped by its guards who requested what our business was at the palace. Dorian was all to willing to procure our invitational letter form King Bard and present it to the pair. They seemed to look at it with an overly inquisitive gaze, my guess is they didn't know how to read, but they do let us pass telling us that they recognized the Seal.
King Bard's throne sat across the Palace's main chamber, engraved with the Emblem of the Black Arrow. The throne itself was a gift of the Elven King. Scattered about the room were the Nobleman of the court, all who seemed especially young for their positions, as most were warriors that fought alongside the King during the Battle of Five Armies. As we enter, we don't see any other groups awaiting the King's ear, at least it wasn't going to be a live competition I suppose. As we waited for our chance to see the King, Brunhild took a good look around at the faces of the King as well as the nobleman and was able to deduce some information. It seems Bard shows more respect to Valorous individuals more than those that show only Wisdom. Additionally, Bard prefers the intimacy of proper individual introductions as opposed to us being introduced as the Company as a whole. Soon after Brunhild divulged this information to us, was it our time to approach. As we did so, King Bard motioned at the other nobles and they all began to leave until there was only us and the King with his advisers. With his regal demeanor, King Bard asked why we were there…and it began…
King Bard: Formerly known as Bard the Bowman and once a man of Laketown. Utilizing the Black Arrow of legend, King Bard was the one who killed the dreaded Dragon Smaug and was one of the heroes of the Battle of Five Armies. It is said that a Thrush spoke to King Bard and told him of Smaug's weakpoint, and that is why it has become his symbol. A young King, but he is said to be fair in his judgments.
Brunhild opened up for the group, telling King Bard that Gloin presented us with the King's letter requesting our group to pay him a visit. She introduced us as the Company of Free Folk, and herself as Brunhild of Laketown, her parents being merchants there. Brunhild said that she was glad that the King was even aware of us, after Blain and Gloin had invited us to journey upon a dangerous road where we defeated mighty trolls and cruel bandits. Bruhild present that she hopes that the King can see our group potential and then motioned to Dorian to step forward and present himself, Brunhild's introduction seemingly being found favorable in the King's eye.
Dorian stepped forward and introduced himself politely and presented the King Guiná Dagnïr as the emblem of his family line and strength. However, despite Dorian's manners, the King seemed to have already looked onward towards myself. I was sure I was sweating under Barrak's helmet, but I pushed my feet forward, continuing Brunhild's tale of the dangerous road with those unmentioned, such as the mighty Huorn and the fateful orc battle that led to me also carrying the legacy of Torrun and Barrak, and their great strength, with me. The King seemed impressed with my tales, I wasn't expecting that.
Elrynn then stepped forward and introduced himself with great elegance, complimenting the King of his many good works, and was well received in the court. Sassafras, however, had seemingly vanished somewhere and avoided the conversation entirely.
With introductions out of the way, King Bard looked at Brunhild, Elrynn and myself (sorry Dorian), and asked of us why we think we can come into his service. After a pause, we were told what the service would be. It seems that The Black Arrow, while a treasure of the King's Family, was lost during the families greatest moment! King Bard wished that he had retrieved it that day, thus it wouldn't have been lost, but gains hope of the Arrow's discovery. A thief was recently caught who requested amelioration by telling the King that the Black Arrow was in the possession of the Old Master of Laketown who had fled with the money they were sent for the cities repair after Smaug's attack. King Bard looked at us and asked if we were to be the ones to recover the Black Arrow for him. King Bard continued, telling us that while the tales seem fanciful, he still holds to hope that it will be recovered. And, that, since the pickpocket had initially escaped with the Old Master, then perhaps the pickpocket would know where the Old Master went.
That is when I felt a tug on my back. It was none other than Sassafras who wanted to warn us that she had pieced together from the King's story that he did not suffer fools and we should be careful not to appear as one. I attempt to get a read on the King myself, perhaps to formulate a clue as to how to proceed, but the King was difficult for me to read, especially through this helmet, and I wasn't able to provide any additional insights.
Brunhild, however, immediately begins to sell the Company, detailing our diverse set of skills and our desire to assit the Crown with this task. Her words made King Bard nod as he glanced at us, seemingly impressed at our skill sets.
Elrynn presented the King with a song of our past victories against the dreaded orcs fighting by Balin's side. It was quite the inspiring tale, even without Elrynn adding embellishment to the tale and our deeds spoke loudly in the song impressing the King greatly.
I didn't even need to add anything as Brunhild and Elrynn had already managed to impress the King without me, and he told us that we had convinced him to allow us to do this monumental task for him. King Bard told us that he had spoken to many others, and yet we were the most convincing of being the ones for the task. The King told us that he would provide us with a writ to show that we are now woking for the crown as well as provide for us the needs of the journey. Dorian took the writ, as Bard continued, inviting us to also join him for dinner so that he can hear more of our adventurous tales. With this, we are dismissed and we all bow before the King before heading out. As we are leaving, the King's adviser stops us to inform us on when the dinner will be held, as well as to “advise” us that we should plan on dressing nicely. I'm sure at that moment, all eyes went on Dorian.
Outside Gimli awaited our arrival expectantly and asked if we had gotten the job. When we told him that we did, Gimli announced that it was time to celebrate and wanted us to all go out for a drink together, but Sassafras told him that we needed to go shopping instead as we were invited to join the King for Dinner. At that, Gimli informed us he knew just the place to get the fineray needed and guided us to Gellir's Garments.
On the jounrey to the tailor's place of business, I tried to convince Gimli to join us when we go to the King's feast, but Gimli decline telling me that it was our show and he would eventually get his time in the limelight. I was a bit disappointed as I know Gimli had what it took to be a great hero and I was hoping I could assist him in getting his big break. Perhaps next time.
Gellir's Garments was quite a nice establishment, and the tailor was excited to begin designs on outfits for the Royal Dinner. Well, until he discovered that it was going to happen this same day, which made him have to change plans and with the help of his assistance, they got Dorian's, Sassafras's, and Elrynn's measurements to begin to adjust already made pieces for the festivities. Dorain was even nice enough to pay, despite me being willing to do so, and withdrew some money from the bank to do so. Brunhild and I, however, already had some nice outfits from which to draw from and so we didn't need to add to Gellir's stressful patching.
While we waited for the clothes to be prepared, the Company decided that it would be best if we got right to work on the King's request and had Gimli guide us to the prison to speak with the pickpocket, Holgeir.
City of Dale Gaol: Located within the Harbor District, the Gaol within Dale is ran by a the lead jailor, a man named Mardil who served with King Bard in the Battle of Five Armies. Large building that could probably hold about one hundred people.
Holgeir: a pickpocket in his mid-thirties who looked much older than his age. His hair has already receded and turned grey and his face Is gaunt and drawn, representing a life begging on the streets.
Whe we arrived at the Gaol, the City Watch already seemed to be expecting us, before we can even pull out the writ (and I feel Dorian is quite skilled in quickly producing such documents as seen earlier), we were already waved in and being guided through the dark building. The stone was cold and moist and the journey through was filled with the moaning and complaining of the jails occupants, as well as with an occasional drunken song. We arrive at the door holding Holding Holgeir and the guard unlatches the door, telling us to knock when we wanted back out. I laughed a bit at the idea of the door holding us, knowing a spell that would unlatch it for us, but luckily I wouldn't be needing to demonstrate that ability in front of Holgeir. The man looked horrible for his age, even with him covering himself with his cowl. His clothes were raggity and torn and he had a creepy smile accented by yellow teeth.
Holgeir asked us to “please sit” though it was clear there was no way to accomadate that request, seeing as the cell barely had room for him and his chamber necessities, let alone us. This false hospitality seemed to bring a slight smile to the man though as Dorian asked him if he could ever get out of this cell. Holgeir told us that he was told that he could be pardoned if he provided enough information to guide us to King Bard's Black Arrow. Before he would tell us what he knew of the Black Arrow's current whereabouts, Holgeir asked for food of which Dorian supplied some rations(not that the prisoner was in any position to ask for anything, but Dorian seemed to have quite the heart to him).
With the food delivered , we were told an elaborate story of Holgeir's boss's greed. At first, as they fled with the gold promised to Laketown's recovery, they began heading to Grimar's Hall, but then, The Old Master suddenly turned East and began heading into the Wastes. Despite the complaining from those accompanying him, the old master refused to budge on his path. Soon, plans to ditch the Old Master and take the arrow began to be formulated, as well as plans to just kill the Old master. However, when an assassination plot was attempted, it was quickly stopped by the Old Master's bodyguard. With the plan stopped the group of men left the bodyguard and the Old Master, heading South were they headed Northwest towards the Grey Mountains. Holgeir believed that the Old Master was not in his right mind, for not only as the path foolish, but he often saw the Old Master holding the Black Arrow close to him and never letting it out of his sight.
Before they had left with the stolen treasures, Holgeir remembers the Old master seeking out and speaking to Trugdel, an old dwarven smith who had recently returned from the Iron Hills a week prior (at the time). Holgeir didn't know what the two of the spoke about, however. Elrynn asked where the dwarf could be found, and we were informed that Trugdel currently resided in Dale. We also learned the name of the Old Master's Bodyguard, Kodi who was apparently a Beorning.
When asked by Dorian, Holgeir was able to detail the path as best he could, showing us the jouney actoss the lake and then heading North towards the Wastes. After doing so, Holgeir asked if we would put in a good word for him. Droian asked Holgeir what he was good at, and was informed that Holgeir felt he was pretty good at tracking. Brunhild alos brought up that she has observed that pickpockets are often good about noticing qualities in people, and asked if Holgeir had noticed anything about Kodi or the Old Master. Holgeir told her that the Black Arrow changed the Old Master, if not everyone as well, as the Old Mster always held the Arrow tight and the others wanted it more than the treasure they were carrying with them. At this, Elrynn and Dorian promised to put in a good word for Holgeir should this information pay off. Brunhild and Sassafras deserned with their keen insights that Holgeir appeared to be desperate and truthful. Brunhild asked Holgeir if he knew anything about the way that they went, saying she knew little of the area herself. Holgeir told her that it was not a place anyone would want to journey as their si nothing to hunt, nothing to eat, the water is poisonous and the very land tries to trick you. And, at night, you can hear strange cries.
After gaining this information, Dorian offers Holgeir a whole turnip that Brunhild graciously cuts up for the pickpocket, not that he deserves it. As we leave, Brunhild mentions that gaining this information was seemingly to easy, and, perhaps, Holgeir has more motive than merely getting out of his cell. Still, it was time for us to follow our next lead, and the Company decided it would be best to seek out Trugdel. When we asked Gimli if he knew of Trugdel's residency Gimli did indeed know. Apparently, Trugdel lived in town and runs a shop called the Crooked Nail (weird name for a blacksmith, don't you want your nails to be straight?) on Anvil Street. However, Gimili has never dealt with Trugdel before, but assumed that he would be like any other Dwarf, rough around the edges but a good man.
As Gimli lead us towards Anvil Street, Brunhild inquired with Dorain if he knew of any influence of the Shadow on the arrow. Dorian, however, said that he hadn't heard anything about that.
Anvil Street was a bit different from the other streets, not being pieces together by colored stones. However, the ring of the anvil and hammer certainly signified enough that we were in the right place. Several houses and shops were scattered about and large number of them seemed to be hosted by Dwarfs. In fact, with the bellows billowing, the ringing of metal on metal, and tinkering of small tools almost echoed the sounds of the halls of Erebor.
Dorian did bring up the idea that we may need an appointment, and Gimli, while telling us that it can be sometimes hard to get an appointment, it might be possible with two dwarfs in the group. Sassafras brought up the writ to, and Dorian said that perhaps the mission for the King would be enough. As we arrived at the home of Trugdel we see a dwarf hard at work at his forge wearing only pants and boots; He was all sweaty and grimy. However, as we were about to approach, a teenage boy stepped in oru way. Dorian tried to weasle his way in saying something about a requisite for equipment, but the boy would not budge on setting up an appointment, the next available one wasn't going to be for nine days. With my Helm on and trying to keep up my confidence I pressed that the right now would be the perfect time and began to trek may way closer, slightly nudging the boy to demonstrate my desire to press through. It seemed to work as the boy got a little bit more skiddish and began to cave a bit, asking why were had come and we show the boy the writ from King Bard. The boy tries to tell us that the his dwarf teacher may be upset, and Dorian tried to ease the boys mind by telling him that could the meeting at least happen today, Though Brunhild was quick about cutting him off and pushing with the immediate meeting plan. The boy said he would check and went back to speak to Trugdel, and Sassafrass seemed to disappear again. We watch the boy who seemed a bit frantic talk to Trugdel and then begin working on stoking the fires as Trugdel struts over to us.
Dorian pushes me forward and I get right to business, a fact that pleased Trugdel, telling him that we are on a mission for King Bard and trying to discover where the Old Master went. He told us that the Old Master was asking about Zirak Kimber, an old Dwarven Fortress in the Grey Mountains on the Grey Hips. Something in the Old Master's manner, Trugdel told us, told him that the Old master was planning on heading there, even if he didn't say it. Brunhild asked what could be found at Zirak, and Trugdel was swift in tellign us Death! Trugdel told us that the ruins have long been abandoned and taken over by coal drakes, and that only the foolish would go there. And when we asked why the Old Mster would want to we were told that the Old Master didn't tell him even why he was investigating Zirak in the first place. Dorian asked if Trugdel had seen the Black Arrow on the Old Master, but we were told that he had not. And when asked when this conversation took place, we were told that it was around four years ago. Before we bid Trugdel our farewell, we got from him the basic instructions on how to get to Zirak Kimber and thanked him for his time.
Both Elrynn and myself have heard about Zirak Kimber, Elrynn hearing surprisingly more than myself (he is well knowledgeable in many subjects I wouldn't think of for an Elf). It was a place named after the peak that it lies on, with only a narrow road leading up to the gates of the watchtowers, It was, in fact, watchtowers made to keep watch on the Withered Keep and it was believed to have been attacked by Smaug before it could warn Erebor of the dragon's coming. Or, the alarm came much to late. Elrynn also knew that judging by the path to get to Zirak, that Holgeir's story seems correct.
Dorian shared that he feels that we all guessed that the Black Arrow, at one point, was embraced by the Shadow. Dorian told us that it wasn't always clear how the Shadow manifests itself, but it does so in places, people, and things. Dorian wasn't sure when or by what the arrow could've been embraced by the Shadow, suggesting that perhaps it was affected by the Old Master himself. Brunhild offered instead that it was changed while it was lodged in Smaug's chest. However, it did beg Dorian to question why the Old Master is or was driven or called to the North by the Black Arrow? Elrynn proposed that perhaps the Loremaster would know more.
Gimli, however, had his doubts, telling us that we might be disappointed in the “Loremaster.” While he is recognized for being the greatest master of language in the area, Gimli told us that the Loremaster has become somewhat senile in his old age. Though, of the multitude of languages that the loremaster could decipher both Black Speech and even Dwarven were apparently in his arsenal (how did he learn to translate Khuzdul? The Dwarfs themselves barely use it in front of any none-dwarfs! Now I was curious in this loremaster).
Caldon the Scholar: The residential Loremaster of the Dale known as the greatest local scholar of languages in the area of the Dale. Unfortunately, he has become somewhat senile in his venerable age and there is only a slight chance that he is fully lucid. However, it is said that while he is, he can fluently translate most known languages including Quenya, Sindarin, Dalish, Khuzdul, Adunaic, and even some Black Speech!
When we arrive at Caldon's abode, we are instead greeted by a middle-age man who wondered why we had come. After informing him of our intentions of speaking to Caldon, we are told that he is currently taking a nap and isn't available. We were told to return in two hours and perhaps Caldon would be able to speak with us then. It was currently around Noon and Dorian wanted to head, deciding he wants Fish Stew Gimli guids us into the Harbor district for some.
After a hearty meal and some exploring, we return as planned back to Caldon's home where we are invited in. The building smelled musty and of book mold (those poor books) and was also poorly lit. Several shelves of books and scrolls are scattered about and one measly candle attempts to fight the darkness back from the room. Caldon is a short man, and seemingly half-blind. The assistant tells Caldon that he has visitors and we are guided into the room. Caldon gets asks if it is true we have come from the King, and Elrynn tells him that we are and that we figured we start at the top in our information gathering. When Caldon asked if we needed a translation, Elrynn told him not at this time, and despite translation being Caldon's specialty we came to see if in his multitude of books he had any information on the Grey Mountains.
However, we learned very little from Caldon about the Grey Mountains, only that he believed that they were all abandoned since Smaug's arrival 150 years ago and no one has returned since. Caldon had no idea why anyone would want to go there and had no maps of that area, though did suggest checking with Erebor, if we could get in. Caldon told us that the dwarfs are secretive and would likely resist a meeting. I had my doubts on the meeting part, though I know all too well on the Dwarf's secrecy.
Caldin did know a little bit more on the Black Arrow, saying that it had been in King Bard's family for a long time and that it seemed fated that Bard used it to slay Smaug, as Gerion tried to use it to slay the dragon, but missed. Caldin informed us that no one really knows who crafted the Black Arrow, but he suspected it may be dwarven. However, before we could ask more questions, it seemed like the loremaster had fallen asleep. We thank the now sleeping man and saw ourselves out.
Still having some time to kill, we all begin to craft our travel plans, with the majority of us confident in the path we would have to take, though not necessarily in how well the journey would go. It would be thirty miles through the Upper Marches first, which is mostly farmland, going around the Lonely Mountain and then heading due North. As soon as we hit the waste we would have toughly thrity more miles of travel, but the conditions would deteriorate almost immediately. It would be rough road, but it would lead us to where we were told the assassination attempt on the Old Master was made. From there, we would need to head Northwest to the watchtower. Water would be scarce and what was there would be poisonous and there were certainly be almost no food. It would be colder conditions and very windy. It was sounding like a lovely journey. I was curious if by the end we all grow to miss even Mirkwood's cold embrace again.
Around 4 or 5 PM we return to Gellir's Garments to collect the outfits for Dorian, Elrynn, and Sassafras and Brunhild went to go sell her amulet. When Brunhild returned, she was quite richer with another fancy brooch that looked like a bird along with her. Brunhild was generous with the wealth and offered up a even split to us all, but I had to refuse the generous gift as I didn't really need it and it was her amulet that was sold so I felt she deserved the rewards that came with it. Brunhild accepted her money back. We get cleaned and dressed and head back to the palace. I once again try to get Gimli to join us, but he again declines and leaves us to the dinner and a pleasant night, bidding us farewell once again.
Within the Palace we are taken to a private dining chamber where we all sit at a large table. While we were located on the same half of the table as the King, we were still quite distant from him. We also learned the King Bard has no Queen at his side.
As we ate, King Bard requested tales of our journey to which Brunhild was more than happy to provide, but she embellished a bit making it all the better to tell. We were the stars of an entire portion of the evening. The food was most excellent as was the wine. In fact, some of the food was game hunted by the King himself! However, after the meal the King left early and we were guided to our own individual rooms. It was a very restful night…though it may be our last for awhile so I had to enjoy it as best as I could…though thoughts of the Wastes does keep one up.
The next morning we were served a wonderful breakfast, but the King was already out hunting and so we dined alone. As we prepared to leave, Dorian asked me if we should try Erebor to gather more information. I didn't see why not, and it would be good to see the great dwarven city a second time, especially if I got a chance to peruse its libraries! Dorian said it was a bold move, unconvinced it would work, I didn't understand why….
Until we weren't even permitted to enter the gates. We were told that they were under strict order to not let anyone in without King Dain's official invitation. Not even King Bard's writ could get me in alone. I was shocked at the ridiculousness of it all, but it seems Erebor was out of the question. But we still had our plan, and besides now all the knowledge lost in Zirak would be uncovered to me with no need to drag Erebor's politics into it. What an exciting prospect, and I want to share that knowledge!
Well….if we can get there even….Oh and we should probably find the Black Arrow too, I almost forgot!