After a very interesting stay at the enigmatic Beorn’s home, where the dogs served us dinner on two feet not four, and after Beorn had returned from a secretive evening, bearing a bag of orc helms that he used as our dining table centerpiece, a plan was made. Beorn assigned us a guide who himself was to make good with the King of Eagles. His name was Merovech . We were also provisioned with good food from Beorn’s stores for the final leg of our journey.
As we left the great pine palisade, Merovech told us to expect a three-day journey after crossing the river. Coming to a high place a little later, I noted brambles and fallen trees that could present a problem with the route Merovech was used to taking. On my word, we made a change that kept us on schedule. By the end of the day we reached Beorn’s men’s camp near the ford where they had already had a fire and were roasting some local fare. They generously invited us to take up forks!
On what was agreed to be the 14th of June we survived a slippery crossing to the west side of the mighty Anduin. Then we began the trek through the lowest hills of the Misty Mountains towards the Eagles Eerie. As we made our way, the trees began to change from leafy elms and oaks to straight pines and as we went further up they began to shrink as the air thinned.
The weather held but was cooling with blue skies when we reached what was known as the Western Middle Vales. We took the path that led into Eagles Vale. In this crevice, we discovered oaks and elms again but then had to begin the first of our steps of our ascent. Only a short way up we heard far above us a tinkling of stones and thought not much of it but then the sound became a clamour of cracks and thumps and the ground shook! Then the horizon became a wave of boulders and earth… an avalanche!
I moved for Sassafras but slipped, as did Sas! Like a darting brownie, Elryn spirited her out of the path of the breaking mountain! At the last minute, I rolled just behind a huge outcropping that saved me from an early grave! We all just escaped certain peril and then took time to collect ourselves and after another march, reached an alpine flat to make camp.
Elryn, who seems to never tire, took his bow and made off to find foul or beast to sup. Shortly before he returned we saw a great Eagle start from the trees, angle up and swoop overhead. While not a giant eagle it was still several times that of normal eagles.
The next day we traveled much the same and came to another plateau around noon. This area however was much larger and had at one time a stone village of sorts. Now it was but ruins, but these ruins were odd in that the once protective walls appeared melted from a long time past. Myself and Hannar had a bad feeling about this place and I recommended to all that we move past it but Brunhild would not have it. She persisted in searching it, saying “This is why I am out here.” So Hannar and I took up positions at the perimeter. Nothing was found of interest within and no ill came to us.
Night came as we reached another suitable spot to camp.
After a short trek the following morning, we spotted far up but within sight, a stark outcropping, like a great thorn sprouting from the mountain. This was the Eerie! Brunhild, from a vantaged position, picked a fair path for us, but which did included working through and up a narrow ravine. As we were finally escaping it’s deep shadow, at least a score of men wearing garb not so dissimilar to mine but bearing masks, marked us from behind rock and shrub. One scoundrel called down to us, “You’ll be leaving any coin you have with us if you mean to make your way any further.”
I was in no mood to let the Dwarf part with his coin as I know Dwarves value gold and silver like men value their freedom. To keep the peace I was willing to pay for us all if it be a fair toll. “And what is your price, Warden?” I asked.
“All that you have of course. All of you.” He replied in a cock-sure manner, and just enough to bother me. I am not bothered oft by hill-bandits but this fellow had a way. Others in our party weighed in as well but I could not hear through my blood-filled ears. An arrow whizzed between us, but Elryn, quick as a March hare, sent an arrow true, hitting the man next to the speaker. A swarm of arrows took flight!
Mine found it’s mark then I charged upward over rock and briar with both hands on my forbearer’s blade. The fool swung and missed, I shouted to their leader, “Your deaths are not worth the gold you demand!” I then ran the man through that had failed so sadly against me, sending him rolling down the steep ravine.
Sassafras rarely missed! Hannar moved in and would slay men with every other swing! Elryn’s bow sang, his arrows whistled and his targets screamed! Brunhild moved with purpose, and landed many well placed blows.
I slew two or three more and took a few blows. I am then caught in the knee, I wince and let out in pain, the leader pounces and deals me a grievous blow! My breath is caught and I steady myself for the next, but then the leader drops his sword, his expression gone and at my feet he falls dead in front of me. Standing in his place, looking at me is Brunhild, a wry smile and a welcome sight!
My vigor renewed, I prop myself up with Orion’s Flame on the fallen man and shout with the forbearance of my kin, “Death has found your leader and nigh, death is upon you!” As the echo still tumbled down the mountain, all had fled but one who dropped his weapon and took a knee. Answers were not on his tongue but neither were they in his clutch. We sent him away with only his sword.
Not long after cresting the next few ridges, we gained the base of the eerie. There, we fell under the shadow of a great eagle we came to know as Landroval. He spoke in a noble tongue, and waited for introductions. We returned our salutations with names, surnames, deeds and purposes. Balin was struck with awe more than any of us and found it hard to speak thus. Landroval, seeming satisfied, took up Balin and took flight to the Eerie.
Hours later as all the lands and sky seemed darkened by the wall of the Misty Mountains and the stars came out in droves, we lit a fire and I spoke of the breaking of the three early kingdoms in the North and of Arnor and the Rangers and of Angmar and orcs and our never ending vigilance against the growing powers from the east.
As the fire was dying and we began to welcome sleep, a great wind swept our camp as the stars were blotted out and our fire was blunted by Landovall’s great claw. Balin slides off the wondrous bird and the great eagle tells us that a number of his flock will land in Esgaroth at the anniversary of Smaug’s death and that we are done here and may leave.
We spoke with Balin for a while after Landovall returned to the air and then we each found our way into restful dreams. In the morning, Balin explained that he would be taking another path back for his own reasons. And so we parted ways with kind words and another adventure tucked in our belts.