The Darkening of Mirkwood

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Prologue

The One Ring: The darkening of Mirkwood
This is the first session of the new campaign and a large part of it consisted of making characters. However, the characters are all descendants or relatives of our characters from the previous One ring campaign.
My character, Narvi, Son of Bolder of Erebor (Bolder is conflicted) is approached by Sigmund of Laketown wanting to get a look at the maps Narvi’s father made during his travels when he dealt with the Werewolf of Mirkwood. They go to see dad, but Auli, the servant, tells them that Bolder left six-months previous in quite a hurry. An examination of Bolder’s study shows that he took his maps and his notes concerning the Werewolf.
Narvi’s concern and Sigmund’s avarice take them to the halls of the Elf King to see if Bolder stopped in to see his old friend Lyralin the Archer. She confides that Bolder had been by several months earlier and had gone to see Radagast the Brown. Lyralin suggests that her daughter, unpronounceable elf-name (Appellin, Apylelerin, Appadappa?), go with them so as to see the world.
On the way they stop at Garrick’s mead hall and enlist him on their quest and at Ulfric’s lumber mill. Ulfric’s mother is the only other surviving member of Bolder’s party and she joined Bolder on his trip to Radagasts, so the several friends (Narvi, whatshername, Garrick, Ulfric) all set off to see the wizard.
Radagast tells them that they went to the Mountains of Mirkwood to investigate “the returning howls” and the party decides to follow. The trip was mostly uneventful, which is good for any trip through Mirkwood, until they were forced to leave the path(always a bad idea) to get to the mountains, and then the corruption checks set in (sixteen of them).
Everyone in the party now has numerous shadow points, except those who will begin the next session suffering from bouts of madness.

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1st Entry - Written with bloody fingers
Only the most vile things live here....

I begin this Journal with fingers coated in the blood of the dead and the dirt of the grave.

Narvi and I have only recently finished putting the last bit of dirt over the bodies of the dwarven merchants that we discovered after Sigmund accidentally lead us off the path and deeper into the Mirkwood forest.

Narvi…a Dwarf himself, is currently pouring over a journal that we found stashed within the rotted and soiled sacks of the Merchants wagons.

He believes that it belonged to his father and might hold clues as to where he and my mother have run off to. Yet at the moment I feel as if all hope of finding any trail of them has been lost.

I had failed to find yet a single woodman’s body among the torn and incarcerated sacks of meat that once been a party of living dwarves.

I would not even be able to hold the small sliver of hope that flickers within my heart that my mother is still alive.

I cannot say if this accident of fate was for the better or worse, for we are still not closer to finding my Mother; nor Narvi’s farther, and as the sun slowly sets upon this dark and twisted forest.

I find my back stiffing with the apprehension of having to spend yet another night surrounded by the foliage of the damned.

How did my mother survive this place…

Why would she chose ever to come back here. For I see not but the ruin of life here, in a place that should be teaming with it…..

But I must not lose focus. I must try and keep my mind from slipping into the dark, keep my thoughts from the shadows of this place.

mirkwood_01.jpg

Already I fear that even after just a few short weeks of trudging after a month old trail, that some part of this foul place has seeped into me, and tainted my very soul with its corruption.

I once asked my mother why she never spoke of her adventures here, never boasted of her great conquest as the other Woodsmen did.

When they sat across the fire’s from one another and passed jugs of ale from one hand to another. Everyone with a story, or a tale tall that that used to set my small childlike heart flutter, as I sat perched upon my father’s knee.

Or, when I was much older, beside the other men, a fresh kill of venison roasting within the flames and the heat of are most resent hunt still cooling against my skin.

The very forest of Rhosgobel would seem at times to sing with the sounds of insects and night birds as the night skies above would bloom with stars so bright it was almost a kind of day.

There are no stars here at least not the ones that the elves used to sing praises to.

For here the nights are either deathly cold or muggy hot and often both within the same span of an evening.

When we do see the sky it often through twisted branches covered by sickly leaves and cobwebs that I swear exist only to stick and itch at your skin as you walk. And each night seemed to filled with the stretching and crying of dying or…..

worse things that by all things holy seemed to….at least for the time being….fear the light of our fire.

I know now why she never spoke of this place; my mother,

and why it was only from others that heard of the tales about her,

and others like her, tracked down and killed the mighty Werewolf of Mirkwood.

Because this is an unholy place, inhabited by darkness and shadow, where hope cannot live and only the most vile of life can survive……….

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2nd entry - An Axe left behind
The blackness left inside my mothers Soul

I have always held deep within my heart a bit of the wondering spirit. images.jpg

And spent the majority of my adolescence rootless and wyld as I traveled up and down the great river of wilderland, past the gilded fields and once even all the way down Loriem,

before my mother, fearful that I might take up the adventure’s mantel as she did and thus end up like her father; my grandfather with my head stuck upon some Orcs pike.

Shackled me a lumber mill that she had purchased long before I was born with some of the treasure’s that she’d managed to bring back with her from her youthful adventures.

When I tried to parley for my freedom, arguing that I had no intention of ever crossing that thin line that separates are lands from Mirkwood.

And even if I did, the werewolf has been long dead; at her hand no less. So what further dangers could that fates forgotten forest even posse anymore?

“And even if there are still Orcs and other monsters within those woods,” I recall myself saying. “I am no coward to hide behind walls of stone.

I am a woodsmen! My axe is sharp, my sense keen, and I doubt that there is anything within that ancient forest that could ever cause my hands to shake or my bowls to water.”

This…pronouncement….did not go over much too well with my dear mother,

and she all but dragged me from my floating river palace; a sturdy raft that I had used to float my way down most of that long ancient river.

800px-Pine_Creek_Log_Raft.jpg
Before setting her own axe to the ill-fated craft and swearing in grandfather’s name that if I did not return home with her that she’d shave my young beard from my face with that same axe and drag me back home tied upside down upon pole.

As if I was some young buck just recently hunted down and killed before being carried back for the skinning.

I know now that it was my blatant disregard for the trials and terrors of this accursed forest that what set her on edge and that brought the blackness that she usually kept so secreted away from springing forth to harden face and darken her eyes with cold rage.

As a child, my father had need to protect us from that rage, that…

“bit of those blackwood’s…” As my father used to say. “..That just won’t leave your mothers spirit alone.” And had; in those days, cause to push her to heavy drink that seemed only to drive her to even greater fits of maddening rage.

Now as I enter my eighteenth summer, the mere memory of these fits still causes my shoulders to stiffen and my guts to turn with apprehension.

Even though it has been half a score since she suffered from one, not since the day when she gave up the drink.

Which had been preceded by perhaps the worst night of our family’s life.

When, in some delusional state of excess drink, my mother tried to drowned my sister in the lake by our house. When my Father tried to stop her, his beloved wife picked up our families axe…

the very axe that had slain the werewolf of mirkwood itself, and struck at him with it. Nearly taking his arm from his shoulder and instead leaving a very vicious scar across his chest.

That he shall carry from now until the end of his days.

After that she never touched the drink again and her fits of madness ceased, replaced instead by a dispassionate exterior that was as warm and inviting a starving wolves den in the dead of winter.

Perhaps all this was what first drove me from my family’s hearth, set me wondering far from home and, though it shames me to admit, likely would have forever kept me from ever returning.

Had not my casual disregard of the dangers that lay just beyond the forest edge reawakened the valkyrie of furry that had lain dormant within my mother’s soul for over ten years.

I confess that after this most threating of displays, my young, brave adventures heart, fled within an instant and I quickly found myself traveling the sullen road back home.

To take up the profession of lumber jack, and spend my days swing my axe not in combat, but in logging, and woodcutting, and sawing and hauling and hundred other things that I feared would dull my spirits to death.

Even though they two years I spent at this trade did well to hone the child like chubbier from my face and put a ripples of muscle down my front even as tight cords sprang up to wrap themselves about my arms and back.

In time, a part of me came to love to steady, rhythmic routine of day to day labor, and perhaps had not Narvi and his small party come looking for me.

In search in fact for my mother, who they believed might know where Narvi’s own Father had run off to. I might have remained there.

Swinging my axe not men or beasts of the wyld, but only at tree’s, for it was not long after meeting Narvi, that I discovered that my mother had Vanished.

My Father told us that Boulder came to see her, a wail back and that the two had spoken at great length in private, before the old dwarf had left.

And fearing to trigger one of her fits,

he’d asked her nothing of it, but in the morning, after a night where his battle hardened wife had spent lashing uncharacteristic affection upon him.

He found that in the morning that she had gone.

My grandfather’s axe removed from beneath the floor boards from which it had been hidden of so long ago, but strangely not taken with.

Narvi had collected quite a following at this point, a small band consisting of A clever and well-spoken barding of Dale who went by the name of Sigmund.

A beoring who smelt of mead, sweat and honey cakes who was called Garrick,

and an Elf, the first I’d actually ever seen despite all my youthful journeys down the river, who was called Allydial.

And who was the proud daughter of Liralen. The original founding members of my mother’s fellowship and fought by grandfathers side when he did defending the town of long lake from raiding party of Orcs.

I knew not why my mother had left, but something inside me said that I had to find her, had to follow her into those dark woods.

For if I didn’t, if I her youngest son did not come after her, that she would most certainly die.
And thus, picking up my Grandfathers axe,

I Joined Narvi’s unlikely fellowship and together the five of us set off after our kin. Without any idea as to what horrors where to be awaiting for us within those black woods.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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