The Darkening of Mirkwood

Dark News

Sigmund emerged from the great hall and walked towards the horse-drawn wagon carriage from which a lantern hung. Swinging in the breeze, the light from the lantern showed that the driver, a hobbit, sat with one hairy foot propped up and was smoking a pipe.
Sigmund laughed as he approached. “When they said a child in a wagon wished to speak to me outside, I should have known it was you. But I confess, I did not ever expect to see you again, Rufus North Took.”
“Hello Sigmund, my friend. Yes, I imagine this is quite a surprise,” the hobbit replied. Something in his tone gave Sigmund pause and he slowed his advance. Rufus stood up and bowed, as was the custom of his people. Sigmund returned the gesture stiffly.
“What is it, my friend? What is wrong?” Sigmund asked in a deep voice.
“I bring dark news. It’s about the …” Rufus choked, unable to finish.
“Ah, the assassination of Una, I mean, The Queen. Yes, I know. We all heard two days ago. Dark news is swift, they say.”
“I was there,” Rufus added.
“You? In Esgaroth, you mean? Did you witness it?” Sigmund asked.
The hobbit nodded. “I was there. I was holding her hand.” Rufus broke down in tears. Unsure what to do, Sigmund put his hand on the hobbit’s shoulder. He was shocked when Rufus flung himself into his arms like a child.
Minutes passed before the hobbit seemed to regain control of himself and Sigmund placed him back on the wagon.
“Tell me,” said Sigmund. “Everything.”
Rufus recalled the council meeting that took place and then told Sigmund about the parade on the last day and how he snuck through the crowd to talk to the woman that he and Sigmund had once spent months with traveling from her lands.
His voice went flat as he relayed how the first arrow struck King Bard and how The Queen immediately dropped Rufus’ hand and was at his side. He told how two arrows struck her in the back instead of hitting her husband. He described how the life vanished from her eyes and how the dark blood pumped from her body after he removed one of the arrows.
Rufus then reached into his shirt and pulled out a silk scarf, its fabric stained dark and crusted with dried blood. He held it in both of his hands as he described comforting the queen’s son, Prince Bane, as his mother’s body was carried away.

The two sat in silence for several minutes. Sigmund stared up into the night sky. He said nothing.
“There is more,” Rufus said. “But I hesitate to share it. It is a secret that will burden you greatly.”
“Speak,” said Sigmund.
“Before the assassin’s arrows flew, she asked me about you. She asked if you were with me,” Rufus said. "When I told her you were not, she tried to hide it, but I could see she was disappointed.”
Sigmund stared at the hobbit. Unsure what to say.
“Here,” Rufus said. He handed the bloody scarf to Sigmund. “This should be yours. I’m leaving now. I’m returning to The Shire for a time. Taking the long way around, as they say, to my inn before hiking over the mountains. I’m coming back, but I’m not sure when. Narvi is dead. Allydial is … not well. I’m heart-sick and weary. But I’ll be back. There’s more to be done.”
Rufus picked up the reins and started the horse moving, but then stopped it again.
“You know her son, Bane? Well, he is seven now. He was born nine months after we brought her safely to Esgaroth,” Rufus said.
“He doesn’t resemble The King in the least,” Rufus added. He clapped the reins and the horse began moving again, down the rutted road to the west.

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Against the Spiders
Rufus sings Bilbo's taunting spider song during combat

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Lazy Lob and crazy Cob
are weaving webs to wind me.
I am far more sweet than other meat,
but still they cannot find me!

Here I am, naughty little fly;
you are fat and lazy.
You cannot trap me, though you try,
in your cobwebs crazy.

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The Writings of Rufus North Took 4

Rufus undertook revising his earlier song about a cursed place in the river into an epic poem about cursed treasure and the lives it destroyed. One section of the poem is about a man imprisoned for 30 years because he took a share of the cursed treasure. Another section tells of a portion of the treasure taken by the people of a town and thus they were poisoned too. Another talks about brave warriors who lost their lives at a river crossing where a share of that cursed treasure was once lost.

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The Writings of Rufus North Took 3
2950

Rufus North-TookIn 2950, Rufus wrote what became a popular hobbit drinking song. It is a countdown song similar to the nursery rhyme, 10 in the Bed. The song tells the story of ten brave adventurers and one hobbit who happen across the path of a troll. The ten adventurers choose to fight and the hobbit decides to hide. The adventurers beat and cut and bash and crash the troll and he swings and misses and swings and misses and swings and SPLAT! Then there were nine adventurers. The song repeats counting down, eight adventurers, seven, six, etc. Eventually, the last adventurer dies and the troll lays down for a nap while the hobbit steals his treasure and the song ends.
This drinking song will become very popular in the Shire and will be sung with 10 small glasses of beer which are downed in succession and at the end the drinker will lay down like the troll.

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The Writings of Rufus North Took 2
Late 2949

Rufus North-TookAlso in the Year 2949, Rufus began writing a love story about a dwarf warrior who fell in love with an elf of Mirkwood. She was the captain of the guard and he was the son of a smith. At first, of course they hated each other and she threw him in prison. But he escaped and eventually saved her life. The two eventually have to work together for the good of both of their people against a great evil and their love blooms only to end with the dwarf dying in battle.
When first published, the story was well-received by hobbits. It was scoffed at as a completely unrealistic fantasy by dwarfs and elves alike. After all, a dwarf and elf could never fall in love. But secretly the story did find readers in both elf and dwarf culture. Eventually, during the War of the Ring, at the end of the Third Age the story was seen as one of the first building blocks that allowed the Armies of the North to join together and fight Dol Guldur.
Two ages later, a man named Jack Peterson would basically rip off the love story and place them in the blockbuster movies Dwarf Quest Pt. 2 and Dwarf Quest Pt. 3.

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The Writings of Rufus North Took

In the Year 2549, Rufus undertook writing a series of far-eastern princess tales. The stories were quite charming, filled with fairy godmothers, dragons, potions, evil step-parents and the like. They took him several years to finish because he was not very devoted to them.
During this year he also wrote a song about a cursed place a river. The song tells the story of a curse laid upon this place by a treasure. The treasure was taken by the people of a town and thus they were poisoned too. And brave warriors lost their lives at that cursed river defending one who was fair. And travelers should be forever wary of that cursed river and the bridge that crosses there.Rufus North-Took

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6th entry - The Abandoned Fort
The wolf at our heels

“When the Shadow first fell upon the wood,” Allydial had explained to use as we trecked through Mirlwood toward the ruins of the old fort.

“My people built a fortified town in the mountains.”

“They ringed this place with silver beeches,” She explained further, a hint of reverence in her voice as she spoke of the legendary trees.

“and hid their many of the treasures they took from their old halls at Amon Lanc.”

“We had to abandon the refuge nearly 1,500 years later, as the Shadow returned with greater strength and loosed the Werewolf of Mirkwood upon us.”

She said an edge coming into her voice. “ Today, the Refuge is mostly in ruin. I here that a few overgrown walls still stand, but that the Orcs cruelly cut down any of our beloved silver beeches that they can find.”

The journey there, while not as long as one that we took from Rhosgobel, was just as tasking if not more. It was as if that evil wood knew that we were close upon are query, and thought to throw every many of ill will upon us as we traveled.

Spans that should have been covered in a hour, seemed to take days and I fear that Sigmund, are barding from Dale, seemed to feel it the worse of any of use.

For he retreated into himself so completely that he would not speak to any of us, or join us by the fire, as if some grave illness had pulled him away and there was not anything any of us could do to help him.

I wish to say that are arrival at the ruins relieved this oppressive gloom, but at its sight, and all the hewn stomps of silver beechs that we saw scattered about a pure ruin of a what had obviously been a grand town of exquisite elven design.

But that now had follow into rot and ruin, as everything else did this accursed forest, I fear many of our hearts sank ever the deeper.

Sigmund collapsed, the heavy tangible weight of the shadows will at last too much for his barding shoulders to bare and as I and Narvi tried to help him up, Garrick, are scout at that time, caught sight of something moving fast and hard through the trees in the distance.

Weak as we were, we had no hope of facing whatever it was that was coming for us, so he searched frantically for some place to hide, some place to make a stand, but all we found was rubble and the hapless ruin of once great people.

Fate however, at that moment, seemed to send us a ray of hope, fur as me and Narvi struggle to carry Sigmund deeper into the forest.

The old dwarf let his hand stray to some odd bit of stone wall that had someone managed to survive the woods oppressive degradation and yanking his hand back he explained.

“This wall his hallow!” The pronouncement brought everyone near, as Narvi set all of Sigmund’s weight upon my shoulder and set to feeling up and down the stone.

“There’s a….a room beyond this wall…a door…just here…but…I can’t find a way to open it.”

“Let me.” Allydial whispered as she strode forward and Narvi reluctantly stood aside. The young elf stood there, before the hidden door, hand placed upon the stone, eyes closed in concentration and all the while we could feel it.

Like the monster of some vicious nightmare, barring down upon us though we had yet to see or anything.

I feel my legs start to quiver, though if it was from my efforts to hold Sigmund up on my own or the ever growing terror that was currently tingling its way down my spine I could not tell.

Allydial said something, I couldn’t make it out, but instantly the wall shuttered and stone ground against itself as the wall pulled itself out with agonizing slowness.

From somewhere, I swear I could hear the sounds of a wolf bawling in rage, but I had no time for it, the instant the door was open enough for us to travel through.

Narvi took up his position again by Sigmund’s side and all of us rushed into.

Away from certain threat and into the dark unknown of the elves fallen fortress.

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5th entry - The worst song every sung
Ulfric sings over the dead

Allydial told us that she knew what and where the Ruins of the Refuge where and that it was not far from where we now stood.

All of us instantly began preparing to leave, but then I saw Narvi standing once again beside the graves, a grave darkness seeming to have settled behind his eyes.

Narvi?” I asked approaching him from the side. “Is everything alright?”

“It’s not right that they should be left here,” He whispered almost inaudibly. “To rot inside this accursed forest.” He finished with all but the slightest of nods at the graves. “So far from their home and…”

He trailed off into silence and I feared that silence might consume him whole.

Narvi I’m sure…” I tried to say, but the words failed me and I just turned to look out over graves as he did.

Feeling the darkness spreading over my own eyes, I reached out for anything, for something to bring my Friend; if newly made, as well as myself, back from the brink.

And without thinking, I began to sing.

It was the only dwarfish song I knew and it wasn’t even in dwarfish and I without the aid of heavy drink, I feared I bungled the mess.

A fear Narvi confirmed an instant after I had finished, as he looked at him as if I had just sprouted gills.

“That was perhaps,” The young dwarf began. “The….worst performance of that song that I have ever had the displeasure to listen to.”

For instant my heart sank, but then I caught the glint of a smile spread crack its way across Narvi’s cheeks.

“Well it was the only one I knew.” I said feeling a similar smile growing.

“Well do me favor and never sing it again.” He said with a scoff and turning, moved to gather his things and join the rest of party. With me following not far behind.

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4th entry - Boulders Journal
The reason for my Mothers flight

Narvi and Garrick, having called a trace, had found it while searching the wagons, and while I had dug and Allydial had searched, Narvi had read and his father’s words had apparently not given him hope.

As the many years had passed, disturbing rumors had reached Boulders ears that a second were-wolf, likely corrupted by the same dark essence that had created the first, had started to prowl once more the corrupted woods of Mirkwood.

When he could no longer pretend that the shadow of that malicious beast had not returned to once again cast its dark essence across the land once more.

Boulder set off to toward woodland hall, in search of not of my mother, but of me. A reveal that I must admit shocked my heart briefly into stillness.

Finding instead my Mother, his old companion and the original killer of the wolf of Mirkwood, insisting on taking my place, the two of them gathered up what supplies they could, then headed off into those dark woods.

According to his Journal, Boulder and My mother can across the tracks of merchants cart that had apparently wandered off the old elf path, fallowing them, they caught up with the merchants and attempted to try and lead them either out of Milkwood, or back onto the safer rout laid down by the elves.

It was then that my mother realized that they were being stalked and given the sizes of the prints, he could be none other than the dreaded werewolf itself.

They tried to outpace it, to lose it in the confined or confusing woods, or at least make it back to the path, but this was where the dark essence of that lycanthrope had been born. And thus it could be lost or out maneuvered.

Boulder’s entries become more erratic after that, more filled with suspicion that some of the merchant dwarves traveling with them, where somehow in league with werewolf. His sporadic paranoid filled entries becoming more and more unreadable as they diverged into an unreadable scrawl.

The last understanding able bits merely detailing how he wished only to grab Albrina; my mother, and flee to something called the ruins of refuge.

Before his scribbles descended completely into madness, the last intelligible scrawl upon the final page simply stated………

IT IS HERE!

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3rd entry - The Merchant Caravan
Keeping the peace, but burying the dead.

After I finished writing last night I felt as if a small weight had been lifted from my shoulders, enough that I was able to lift my head up from my own woes to see that my companion Narvi was not in good straights.

The Journal that he had found had most certainly been written by his own father’s hand, but it’s rather than elevating him with its words it seemed to darken that light behind his eyes.

I found him standing over the graves of the dead merchant dwarves just as the last of that horrible day’s light was fading from the sky.

He said nothing as I approached, merely starred off into the distance, his father’s journal held so loosely between his the fingers of his hand, as it draped to his left side, that I feared that it might slip and fall into the grave dirt at our feet.

Rubbing my swore fingers I approached him from the side, not wanting to startle him and then get the same as Garrick did earlier in that day.

After Narvi had caught him going through the pockets of the dead and slipping what gold he found there into his own purse.

The scuffle had been quick and Narvi managed to both blacken and bloody the young Beorning face before Garrick managed to pin him into a head lock until the dwarfs furry faded with his consciousness.

Garrick had been the one to find the tracks that had lead us to this despoiled bit of forest at the foot of the Mountains.

And he’d seemed much offended at Narvi’s reaction to his redistribution, as he put it, of the now deceased Merchants supplies.

As the Elf seemed to have slumped into some kind of depressed state of idleness at the site of so many savaged corpses and the barding was nowhere to be seen at that moment.

It was left to me to try and make peace between them, or at least get Garrick to make more of covert effort as he relocated certain supplies into his pocket.

In an effort to keep the peace, I volunteered to take over with the burials, a task I was most reluctant to set myself to, as many of bodies had not just been savaged, but torn apart, before being tossed about as if these dwarves had been little more the sacks of red wine ripped upon by the jaws of some rapid alcoholic bear.

Yet oddly what disturbed me more, where not the grotesqueries of the savaged; though I am assured they shall hunt my nightmares for years to come regardless, but that of the few bodies that looked to have been giving a; if such a thing exists, a clean death.

There wounds speaking of simple axe blows or hard strikes to the temple by some kind of hammer. Something about those latter wounds tickled at my memory, but try has I might could not bring recognition to the forefront of my thoughts.

Allydial, having somehow managed to slip briefly from her stupor to search about the area, had managed to return with news that lightened my gloom upon my heart, if just a little.

For she had found two sets of tracks, leading out of the camp, but that disappeared quickly into the forest where she did not dare to continue on alone.

I knew that one of those tracks had belonged to my mother, as I had found no Mortal remains among the dwarfs.

But as to where the other had been Narvi’s sire, it was difficult to tell, as many of the dead had been so brutalized as to deny identification.

It took me most of the day to find all the parts, as my companions searched the wagons and the surrounding area for signs of survivors.

And it was nearing dusk by the time I had all the holes dug and bodies ready to be covered over when fatigue at last drug me down and I had to rest.

It had been then I had noticed Narvi and the concern upon his face.

“He is alive.” The young dwarf all but whispered out, with slight shrug toward the hand that held his father Journal. “and I fear that he has fallen into shadow….”

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