Mythgard RP!


Chapter 26: Shadowing the Trail

Gilglir shares a few quiet words with Elladan and Elrohir in the grey dawn before making his way back to the company's campfire. He looks around at them for a moment before nodding. As he sits next to Taylarin, he speaks quietly with her in the Elven-tongue as the others begin to stir.
Turodhor shifts slowly and sits up at the sound of speech and movement
Bialver slowly opens his eyes, and wonders about breakfast. The sensation of smoke getting in his eyes reminds him he's no longer in Rivendell, but at an elven camp
Gilglir finishes speaking with Taylarin and looks around at the others. 'Eat and make yourselves ready,' he says quietly. 'Once the sun is fully up, we will go our ways again.'
Trumodir stands and stretches out her muscles.
Turodhor rises and nods, pulling on his armor and gathering food to break his fast with

Minabel finishes braiding her hair onto the top of her head and takes the last few nibbles of her stale bread.
Bialver whistles for Utsending, and sees to her tack and breakfast before he packs he sets a few elven cakes near the coals to warm, dons his armour, and repacks his knapsack
Gilglir shakes his head at Bialver as he eats a piece of bread. 'We will leave the horses here this day. From here on, we go on foot through the hills. They are no place for a steed.'
Turodhor looks up from where he sits slicing a wheel of cheese, "I cannot say that I shall be disappointed by such a change. It is on foot or on the rolling decks of a ship that I belong."
Minabel looks at Brianna. "Do you think our horses will be safe here?"
Trumodir takes in Gilglir's words and goes to check on Marr's food and water
Bialver frowns but makes no rejoinder. He walks Utsending towards the two elven brothers, talking softly to her. A few moments later she's unsaddled and wandering curiously about the camp, and the Beorning is stuffing a number of oddments into his pack.

Gilglir smiles at Minabel. 'Breglobor will care for them as if they were his own kin. You have nothing to fear.' He glances at the others for a moment before continuing. 'We will be splitting into two companies for a short while. Bialver, Trumodir, Turodhor, and Minabel will come with me, while Ortrun, Eskild, and Greenstand will go with Taylarin.'
Turodhor nods and places his helm upon his head as he stands. "Aye, so be it."
Trumodir asks, "What is the plan? What direction shall we go?"
Bialver whispers to his kinswoman "Then we not want for good advice about the colour of our hair ribbons"
Gilglir takes a drink from his waterskin, and then says, 'Our company will head north into the hills from here. We will follow the trail of our enemy, while the others will head west along the road and come up another valley. I suspect I know whither our quarry flees, but I do not want him to slip by us.'
Turodhor grips the hilt of his sword more tightly, but nods.

Trumodir continues, "And what signs shall we be looking for? If this Nazgûl is unbodied, how will he leave signs on the land he passes through?"
Bialver murmurs to his kinswoman in the speech of their home <V> "I think you will feel them. I do not envy you that"
Gilglir glances at Taylarin before giving Trumodir a long look. 'The Gwetherain leave horror and terror in their wake, even among the birds and beasts and trees. They will tell us of his passing. As well, he leaves tracks which my eyes can see as plain as if we tracked a bear through snow or mud.'
Trumodir replies quietly, <V> "That is certainly true, yet I hope for physical signs as well"
Bialver muses, as though to himself "What material signs does terror leave in its wake? Creatures cowering who should be merry, nuts not gathered for the coming winter...."
Turodhor looks up in concern, "Terror in the hearts of the boldest and of gentlest animals. We heard rumor of such things before Osgilliath fell once more."
Bialver continues "...fledglings too old to be fed, but not yet left the nest. I think we shall see physical signs indeed."
Gilglir nods in agreement as the others speak. 'All this, and more beside. Taylarin and I have both faced these foes before, and we know the signs.' The elleth nods and smiles slightly beneath her hood.

Gilglir stands and buckles his sword-belt around his waist before fixing his pack under his cloak. He leans on his unstrung bow as he looks at the others. 'Shall we go?'
Turodhor says, 'Aye, let us be off.'
Trumodir nods silently
Minabel gives Brianna a last pat on the side of her neck. "Bye baby pony. I will be back soon." With that, Minabel gathers her pack and prepares to follow the others.
Bialver shoulders his pack, checks his weapons, and makes a silent after-you gesture.
Gilglir nods to Taylarin and says something in Sindarin, which she responds to in the same language. The ellon smiles slightly, and then turns to lead his company out of the ruins and down the valley to the north.

Trumodir slings her pack on her shoulder and follows warily
Turodhor adjusts his pack, pulls his cloak tighter around himself, and with one hand already gripping the hilt, he sets after them, head swiveling
Bialver brings up the rear, head swiveling, and nostrils snuffing the mountain air
Gilglir leads the company up a valley which winds its way between steep tree-clad slopes. As they go, the air seems strangely silent, as through the birds and beasts have fled. From time to time, the Elf stops and lays his hand against the trunk of one of the trees, speaking soft words none of them catch. In this manner, the day passes on to a dusk which swiftly falls on them.

Gilglir begins to set up a camp in a sheltered hollow as the first stars begin to peep out. 'Make yourselves comfortable. We will wait here until Taylarin and the others join us.' He settles himself down onto the ground near their small fire.
Turodhor sets down his pack and huddles close to the fire, sword across his knees
Gilglir looks around at the wilderness. 'I think there was not even any need to send them out,' he says. 'It seems clear to me that he is making for the Gladdalf, as I suspected.'
Turodhor looks up with a frown, "The Gladdalf?"
Bialver steps away from them, facing the darkness until his eyes have adjusted. His attitude is that of one listening hard for something he hopes not to hear.

Trumodir sits down carefully with a thoughtful expression on her face and visible tension in her body.
Minabel looks around apprehensively. "I hope we do not encounter it tonight"
Gilglir glances at Turodhor before understanding. 'Ah, my apologies. You would call it the Woodfen. It is a marshy glade to the north, and a haunt of wood-trolls.'
Turodhor nods slowly, "Ah, I see. I have not heard tale of such a place in my travels, but such news bodes ill."
Gilglir gives the others a look of concern. 'Please, take your rest,' he says. 'Neither our quarry nor the trolls shall trouble us this night.'
Turodhor leans back and closes his eyes to sleep
Bialver prowls in a circle around their small camp, a dark shape just out of the firelight
Trumodir continues to sit by the fire, absolutely still, fully alert. There will be no sleep for her tonight.

Gilglir sighs as he watches the others. He begins to sing softly, his voice weaving images of sleep, murmuring waters, the whisper of wind in the boughs of trees, and the light of the moon glancing through windows. A sense of peace and safety flows over the others.


Chapter 27: A Meeting in the Hills

Taylarin lead the others through the Wilds she knew so well, her eyes watching for the Nazgûl through the hills and trees. Slowly their path led North, bringing them closer to the others of their company. It was nearing dusk, the grey-clad elleth's step quickening.
Ortrun had her staff out, randomly tapping on small patches of ground as she kept pace with her party. Harris glided in a lazy circle above her, coming to berth on an outcropping of the rocky cliff. He lets out a loud caw, black eyes glittering.
Greenstand puffs contentedly on his pipe as he walks, seeing no signs of the enemy.

Gilglir leans back against the rocks, looking out over the hills and valleys near their camp. Though his eyes seem half-closed, he turns his head towards even the slightest sound. The day has passed without incident, but the Elf still seems like a tightly-wound spring, especially since Bialver and Turodhor announced they were going to scout and Minabel decided to go hunting.
Trumodir stares at the ground in front of her, her thoughts focused on picking up any hints of evil nearby. She looks over to the others and says softly, "I'd rather be in battle than having to wait for hidden things to become clear"
Gilglir glances at Trumodir for a moment before returning to his vigil. 'As would I, but we cannot move until we are certain that our quarry still remains near. And you need not worry for the others; I know where they are. I am long friends with these trees and stones, and they tell me they are yet safe.'
Trumodir sighs. "Perhaps some of my unease is from being in a forest that I do not know, and less able to read the signs about me"

Taylarin caught the sounds of conversation, knowing Gilglir's voice better than any other. A smile tugs at her lips and she redirects their course, coming up the hill to approach their camp.
Gilglir looks up at the sound of the hawk's call, concern evident on his face. It turns to a look of relief as he recognises the bird. 'Ah. It looks like your wish may soon be answered. The others are near.'
Harris cocks his head, letting out another caw followed by two earsplitting screes. Farther down the hill, Ortrun smiles suddenly. "The others. Harris found the others."
Trumodir turns around at the sound of the hawk and gives a loud and joyous cry of welcome to the group

Taylarin nods knowingly, giving a little smile as she turns her head towards Ortrun. "Yes," she says softly. A minute later, the golden glow of the fire came into view as they rounded the rocks, Gilglir and Tru seated nearby. Her smile broadens as her eyes settle on Gilglir and they enter the camp.
Greenstand waves at the others as they enter the camp. "Good to see we've all made it safely!" He notices Bialver and Minabel's absences. "Err...we HAVE all made it safely, I hope?"
Ortrun swaps her staff to her off hand, holding her right arm up and whistling. Harris squawks and flies down, perching on his mistress's arm and ruffling his feathers. Ortrun gives him a fond smile, before tilting her head at the newly-formed group at the fire. There were some missing. A recollection of those horrible swords and black cloaks sweeps over her, and she shudders a tad.

Gilglir stands to greet the others as they approach. 'Yes, we are all safe. Mina is out finding our supper, while Bialver and Turodhor are scouting around to ensure that no one has noticed us. Apparently, my statements that we are well hidden have not reassured them.' He chuckles softly.
Taylarin rounds the camp toward Gilglir, chuckling softly herself. "Perhaps it is more the fact the woods are unfamiliar that breeds such distrust." She says in amusement.
Trumodir agrees, "it is hard to read the signs in unfamiliar lands"
Gilglir settles himself by the fire as he nods. 'That is true,' he says. 'But, come. What of your road? Did you see aught on your journey of our quarry?'

Taylarin settles between Gilglir and Tru, pulling her bow and quiver from her back and setting them in her lap. She shakes her head. "Our journey was uneventful, and we saw no sign of the Nazgûl. Whatever their path, we did not cross it. What of your journey?"
Greenstand says, "I saw naught of any wraiths, but we did see the three trolls that I heard Mr. Baggins tell of when I was just a lad! I've always liked that story, but I like it even more now that I know it's true!"
Ortrun slides to a cross-legged position, Harris hopping off her forearm to perch comfortably next to her. She remains silent, letting Taylarin and Greenstand do the reporting.

Gilglir smiles at Greenstand's account before growing grave again. 'We following our quarry's trail from Thorenhad to this place,' he says. 'It continues to the north, towards the Gladdalf. I fear that the Gwatharan is attempting to incite the wood-trolls to move against us.'
Greenstand frowns. "Wood-trolls? I thought trolls were made of stone."
Trumodir looks up. "Who is Gwatharan?" she asks sharply.
Taylarin frowns, turning her head to look towards the North. "That is ill news." She says, voice softer than usual. She looks to Tru at the sharpness in her voice, but lets Gilglir answer.

Gilglir looks at the others. 'Gwatharan is one of the names in our tongue for our quarry. It could be rendered as "Shadow-king" in the Common Tongue. And while most trolls are made of the bones of the earth, there are also some who were wrought of wood in mockery of the Onodrim. Indeed,' he adds with a glance at Taylarin,' I have sometimes wondered if that is the sad answer to the riddle of the Enedviss.' He sighs and looks back to the fire.
Trumodir says, "There must be a story that needs telling. Your sigh tells me as much.
Greenstand responds happily, "I see!" He smiles brightly, momentarily excited just to have learned a new bit of lore.
Ortrun presses her lips together in a frown, half the names going over her head. Sighing a bit in exasperation, she fishes out a small piece of meat and feeds it to Harris, murmuring softly to him.

Gilglir looks over at Trumodir in slight surprise. 'Surely the tales of the Onodrim and their long sorrow have not passed out of the knowledge of the folk of Rhovanion? Why, the songs were still being sung up and down the Vales of Anduin only five centuries ago!'
Taylarin meets Gil's gaze and nods, giving a gentle smile and saying. "It is a mystery, but perhaps one day we will understand the mystery." She chuckles at Gil and says wryly. "Is that all?"
Trumodir responds, "Perhaps we know them by other names. Often the same tale can change to fit the region." She continues, almost speaking to herself, "And in truth, there is just one tale, a very long one, but beautiful"

Gilglir sits for a moment, thinking. 'Ah. I think they are called Ents in Westron. Perhaps you know them by that name?'
Taylarin listens to the others talk, pulling some rations from her satchel to eat while she listens in silence.
Trumodir nods, seemingly lost in her own thoughts. "Yes, we have tales of Ents in my land. They are part of the one tale, a sad but noble part."
Greenstand ponders. "I heard that name just this past year. Some of the refugees from the south were telling the children stories from their own lands. They are more than merely bedside tales, then?"
Ortrun sighs. "Sorry, but what are Ents?" she butts in, feeding another piece of coney to Harris.
Greenstand responds, "From the stories I heard, they're a people tall as trees, strong as trolls, and old as elves!"
Trumodir adds, "In our tales they are the guardians of the forest, wise and quiet in heart."

Gilglir glances at Greenstand. 'Not quite as old as elves,' he says with a smile. 'But, yes, the rest of what you say is true. My parents told me stories of how they met during the Great Journey, and I myself have seen them and spoken with them a few times. They are the shepherds of the trees, and very like trees themselves they seem.'
Trumodir nods, adding, "If our tales be true, their wives wandered far from them and they have much sorrow because they cannot find their wives."

Gilglir nods sadly. 'Let me see if I remember how one of the songs goes in the Common Tongue.' He sits in silence for a time, and then begins to sing softly.

‘When Spring unfolds the beechen leaf, and sap is in the bough;
When light is on the wild-wood stream, and wind is on the brow;
When stride is long, and breath is deep, and keen the mountain-air,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is fair!

‘When Spring is come to garth and field, and corn is in the blade;
When blossom like a shining snow is on the orchard laid;
When shower and Sun upon the Earth with fragrance fill the air,
I'll linger here, and will not come, because my land is fair.

‘When Summer lies upon the world, and in a noon of gold
Beneath the roof of sleeping leaves the dreams of trees unfold;
When woodland halls are green and cool, and wind is in the West,
Come back to me! Come back to me, and say my land is best!

‘When Summer warms the hanging fruit and burns the berry brown;
When straw is gold, and ear is white, and harvest comes to town;
When honey spills, and apple swells, though wind be in the West,
I'll linger here beneath the Sun, because my land is best!

‘When Winter comes, the winter wild that hill and wood shall slay;
When trees shall fall and starless night devour the sunless day;
When wind is in the deadly East, then in the bitter rain
I'll look for thee, and call to thee; I'll come to thee again!

‘When Winter comes, and singing ends; when darkness falls at last;
When broken is the barren bough, and light and labour past;
I'll look for thee, and wait for thee, until we meet again:
Together we will take the road beneath the bitter rain!

‘Together we will take the road that leads into the West,
And far away will find a land where both our hearts may rest.’

Trumodir stares intently into the fire, her eyes sparkling with recognition. "That is the same tale, then, with slight variations."
Gilglir sighs as he ends his song. 'They say that during the days when Sauron first rose again, before even he raised his armies in war against Eregion and Lindon, that the gardens of the Entwives south of Mirkwood were blasted with fire and plague. When the Ents went searching for them, they could not find the Entwives, and none know what has become of them.' He glances at Trumodir. 'Sometimes, I wonder whether that is how the Enemy wrought the wood-trolls: by taking and twisting the Entwives, as they say the Great Enemy did to my people to wrought the Orcs.'
Trumodir looks up with sadness in her eyes. "It seems to fit the tale, so it may be true."
Gilglir shakes his head. 'Truly, though, none know what has befallen them. For now, though, let us rest. The morrow will be a sore trial for all of us.'


Chapter 28: Into the Gladdalf

Gilglir sits and tends the fire as day slowly breaks over the Trollshaws. The Sun is veiled in clouds which had blown up from the west overnight, but a brisk wind blows down from the north, speaking of the coming winter. He sings softly to himself as he waits for those still at the camp to wake.
Taylarin sat next to Gilglir, her posture straight, though her eyes were closed and she was completely still but for the slow rise and fall of her chest. Slowly, her dark grey eyes opened and she pulled her hood a little lower over her face.
Trumodir stretches her arms wide while still lying on her back, and yawns loudly. She rolls over and sits up slowly, blinking and looking around her.
Greenstand yawns and stretches before reaching for his pipe, which is lit and in his mouth before he finishes sitting upright.
Eskild rolls over and wakes slowly. A particularly bothersome stick had stabbed him in the back all night, and Esk still felt tired upon waking. He sat up and stretched blinking wearily.
Minabel slowly begins to stir. She peeks out from her sleeping bag to see who also is awake before sliding out and stretching out.

Gilglir looks around as the others begin to stir. 'A good morn to you, friends,' he says. 'I trust you are ready to play your parts today?'
Trumodir stares thoughtfully into the fire as she tries to discern the source of the dread she feels, and nods her head slowly
Taylarin smiles slightly and turns her head towards Gilglir. "As I am every other day." She now rises to her feet, brushing any dirt or leaves that cling to her clothing away.
Eskild nods slowly as he recalls the previous evening.
Minabel nervously begins to gather her belongings into a pile in preparation for the day's hike.
Greenstand puffs his pipe and says, "Let us do what we must."

Gilglir nods as the others begin to prepare. 'We will eat on the way.' He looks at each of the others for a moment before saying, 'I do not know what we will find in the Gladdalf. Though the teryg should be hidden away during the day, the presence of our foe may drive them to action. Be wary, but take heart: both Taylarin and I have faced these foes before, and survived.'
Taylarin pick up her bow and quiver, slinging both over her shoulder before wrapping her weapons belt around her narrow waist, hooking her satchel on last. She nods to Gilglir's words, and adds, "Be ready, and cautious."
Minabel carefully begins brushing out her hair before rolling it into a bun on top of her head.
Eskild felt a hint of creeping doubt. While he was eager to partake in the adventures and some day return home with a lifetime worth of stories, he also wondered if he was getting in over his head. Packing was quick. He owned little and needed even less. Eskild double checked his blade and arrows to make sure everything was in good order.

Trumodir slowly turns from the fire and puts her bag of special items in its place under her tunic, patting it softly in a gesture that seemed to give her a greater sense of confidence
Minabel finishes touching up her hair and packing her things. "I am ready," she announces.
Greenstand checks his pouch to ensure he has an ample supply of pipe-weed and mentally prepares himself. Yes, it could be frightening to see trolls, but how many times does one have a chance to actually face such legendary evils?!
Trumodir looks over at Eskild, concerned that he may not be hale enough to undertake the journey. She sighs and pats her bag of special items again. There may be something in there to help her adopted son if he weakens on the march.
Eskild shoulders his pack and puts on a brave face for the day ahead. He'd made it this far, and if nothing else, just being able to say he saw a real troll would be enough to impress everyone back home.
Minabel takes a quick look around to see if she has forgotten anything, and wonders what more she should have packed before the group left Trestlebridge.

Gilglir looks at the others before snuffing the fire, shouldering his pack, and leading the company off to the northwest.
Taylarin waits for the others to follow first so that she can take up the rear. She offers any that look to her a reassuring smile from beneath the confines of her hood.
Greenstand looks over to Taylarin, and her smile reassures him. He adjusts his hat and sets off after Gilglir, excited to face the adventure.
Minabel sighs and takes one last look at the camp before setting off after the others.
Trumodir initially follows Eskild, to assure herself that he is in robust enough health for the day's activities.
Bialver shakes his head as he stumbles after the rest of the company. Darn those elves, their drinks are too good, too tempting, too sneaky…. He stumbles into his cousin, and grabs her shoulder to stay upright "Mjaðardrykkja with the Afdalrálfar" he mutters. "Bad idea"
Trumodir stumbles with the weight of Bialver against her, but steadies herself and him and takes his arm to lead him forward.

Gilglir leads the company up onto the ridgeline to the northwest, and then along it for perhaps an hour. As they walk, a smell of cold rot and stagnant water drifts up to them from the north. Eventually, they come to a slope which is shallow enough to allow them to descend into the Gladdalf. The woods to the north still hold many of their leaves, but the branches are twisted and gnarled, forming a thick canopy which shuts out much of the sunlight and air. Beneath the trees, shadows lie thick on the marshy ground and the reed-choked pools and channels. Apart from a rustle of wind in the branches, there is no sound. Nevertheless, a feeling of cold dread begins to creep over them as they come down the hill.

Trumodir shudders as she beholds the view before them, and glances over at Bialver, hoping that he's alert enough to prevent any unintended disaster from happening
Taylarin's nose twitched as the first smells of the bog reach her, though her steps do not waver. She holds the rear, looking around as they descend into the Gladdalf. The dread grows, weighing heavily on her until it feels like she can hardly breathe. "This is wrong." She looks around even more as though searching for an Unseen trail.
Eskild shivers as he feels a wave of cold dread run down his spine. There was an evil feeling to the place that left him unsettled. It was harder to keep up a brave face in the bog.
Greenstand muses, "This cold seems most uncanny. It's as if it's sucking out not just the warmth, but even the hope of ever again being warm!" He shivers, mostly from the chill and fear, but partly in anticipation.
Minabel sniffs the air and scowls. "The air is foul in this bog," she complains.

Gilglir glances back at the others. 'Our foe is still here,' he says softly. 'But it is this quiet which concerns me most. These trees have never been friends of my folk, but now they simmer with anger towards us. Go with caution.' With that, he leads the company forward under the dark boughs.
Minabel stays as close as she can to the others.
Trumodir walks quickly to get closer to Esklid in order to strengthen him, tugging at Bialver's sleeve to get him to pick up his pace so the three of them would be closer together.
Bialver gets enough of the whiff of something wrong that it slightly penetrates the haze he's in. He mutters to Trumodir in Valish <V> 'Clobber me with something. I need to wake up"
Taylarin didn't like the eerie quiet at all, and she pulled her bow from her back, stringing it as she walked.

Eskild feels heartened by the presence of the Beornings. "This place feels wrong. The trees...I could almost swear they have eyes." He grips the hilt of his sword just in case.
Greenstand speaks softly to Gilglir, "Master Elf, I've heard that the servants of the Enemy fear fire, but if the trees themselves strive against us, a flame may simply incite them more. What counsel you?"
Gilglir carefully wends his way northwards deeper into the marsh, sticking to the firmer ground where the others can walk safely. Once under the trees, there is little undergrowth; however, the trees seem strangely dense, especially for such marshy ground. He looks back at Greenstand. 'Fire may be our best weapon against the teryg, should they seek to waylay us. But I would not light one without need. The trees are angry enough as it is.' With that, he turns back to the path and continues on his way.
Eskild says, 'How can you anger the trees?'

Gilglir lets Eskild's question go unanswered, focused as he is on finding a safe path through the trees.
Taylarin eyes Gilglir for a moment, carrying her bow in hand though doesn't yet nock an arrow. She continues looking around, turning to peer over her shoulder behind them occasionally as well.
Bialver realizes Trumodir is too preoccupied with tracking something on the wind to have heard him, and sighs, looking around for something to brain himself with. He finds a stout branch that's not too waterlogged, picks it up, closes his eyes in resignation, and gives himself a good ringing blow to the crown
Greenstand notices Bialver's successful self-assault and asks, "What are you doing?"
Bialver, seeing Esk's surprised look, declaims softly but dramatically "Hann lýstr ofan í miðjan hvirfil honum!"
Bialver translates for Greenstand's benefit "He dealt him a blow in the middle of the crown", and adds "It is the way of heroes"
The lack of answers only sets Eskild more on edge. Whatever is wrong with this place--the bog and the trees, not event the elves want to talk about it. That in itself was cause for concern. He felt a growing lump in his throat and a nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, he should flee.

Gilglir stops suddenly as he begins to climb a small rise out of the lowest part of the marsh. He draws his sword and calls back to the others, 'Something comes!' As he does so, a large stump of a tree, perhaps twice the height of a man, suddenly stirs and steps towards the company, broken branches suddenly resolving into arms and a rough approximation of a head. The creature makes a discordant call, like the sound of an ill-turned horn or pipe, and roots suddenly snake up from the ground at the feet of the company. Before any of them can react, they are all rooted in place, arms firmly bound to their sides, as several of the nearby trees begin to move towards them.


Chapter 29: The Bones of the Earth

Minabel shrieks and begins to strike at the roots with her fists.
Greenstand flails, trying to hit the roots with his staff. "I've pulled my share of weeds, but this is the first time the weeds have pulled back!"
Trumodir stands completely still, searching deep within her memory for something that would show her how to break free. She has a vague remembrance of something that her father told her once, or was it in a tale that one of the older women of her tribe told her?

Eskild cowers in fear unsure of what's happening and not at all liking the fact that the trees can move.
Taylarin pulls her dagger from its sheath, stabbing the razor sharp blade into one of the roots that held her in place. One of the roots wrapped about Taylarin's legs writhes in seeming pain as her dagger cuts deep. It unwinds and slithers back into the marshy ground. The troll roars again as the trees edge closer to the company.
Greenstand asks the elf, "What say you? The choice seems near now between fire and death, Gilglir!"

Gilglir gives the roots a look of shock and anger, clearly not expecting this sudden of an assault. He clenches his fist and a silver sheen seems to fall about his feet, lightening the darkness of the fen. He cries, 'Á carë!' and the roots seem to loosen about the company.
Taylarin jumps backwards as her roots slither back into the ground, now nocking an arrow and looking for any foes that do not obey Gilglir's command.
As the roots loosen their grip, all of the company shake themselves free. The roots rear up from the ground and wave before the company like snakes preparing to strike. As Gilglir goes for his sword, one of the roots near him whips forward and wraps itself about his right arm, while another winds about his left ankle.

Gilglir manages to pull his hand free from the grasping vine, though the other is still binding him in place. As he does, he raises his hand and begins to Sing. The light falling around the elf brightens, and the troll takes a step back before roaring again. The trees and vines sway and halt for a moment, as though caught in a sudden cross-breeze.
The troll calls out something in a guttural, brutal tongue, and the trees shudder at the sound of his voice. However, they remain rooted in one place and do not advance on the company. The roots fall limp and lie still, as if listening to the Elf's song. The branches of the trees wave wildly, as though caught in a sudden windstorm, though the air in the Gladdalf is as still and heavy with cold decay as ever.

Trumodir suddenly roars into action, all her focus on saving her friends. She swings her axe in all directions about her, hoping to hit anything at all, since the attacks seem to be coming from all sides. Her swings all fly wild, failing to connect with any of the foes.
Minabel takes an arrow from her quiver and strings it in her bow. She takes aim at the closest target and lets the arrow fly. The arrow flies wild and disappears with a splash into one of the murky pools.
Eskild swings his sword at a nearby root with a sense of desperate frustration at the odds they're facing. The root bends with the blow from the sword and springs back as it passes, waving in the air like a snake rearing back to strike.

Taylarin nocks her arrow onto the string with all the grace of her elven kin, lifting her bow to take aim at the troll. She fires, pulling another arrow to nock immediately after that arrow left the string. The arrow sticks in the troll's hide, but it seems to have no effect on it. It continues to shout and growl in its rough tongue.
Greenstand growls fiercely at the trees, his voice full of menace. "You may be full of bad wood, but I bet once you're all properly seasoned you'll keep us warm and cozy many a winter's night!" The trees, being trees, completely ignore Greenstand's insult, if indeed they even heard it.

Gilglir pulls his foot free from the grasping root and begins to walk towards the troll, a red light beginning to glint from his upraised hand. As he continues to Sing, the light broadens about the company, and several of the roots retract back into the soil.
The troll takes a step back as the Elf frees himself, shrinking back from the light. It roars in anger and begins looking about, as though seeking aid. The roots turn towards the Elf and sway as if listening.

Trumodir pauses her wild thrashing as she perceives the trees hesitating, and focuses her attention on a single tree with an evil look. She has chopped down many trees in her life and hopes that this one, which can move, won't be so different. The Beorning's axe bites deep, lopping off a heavy limb. As the branch falls with a crash, the tree groans and sways.
Even as the trees creak and moan with anger and pain at seeing their fellow attacked, they remain rooted in place, no matter how the troll roars and rages at them.
Minabel in desperation from her previous failure, throws down her bow and begins to strike at a branch of the largest tree with both her fists. This goes about as well as one would imagine punching a tree would. The tree seems to take no notice, while Mina manages to bruise one of her hands

Eskild takes another furious swing at a swaying root. The blade fails to connect as the root begins to pull back into the earth.
Taylarin had already nocked an arrow and took aim at the wood troll again, taking swift steps closer to it to better her vantage point. She fires on the troll. The arrow buries itself deeply in the troll's chest. It stops its raging for a moment to look down at the shaft before breaking it off and turning towards the elleth. It bellows again, the sound ringing through the woods.
Greenstand looks around and fixes his eyes on the creature still fighting. "Right. You've been warned!" Puffing his pipe, he brandishes his staff and swings it as hard as he can at the creature's legs. The staff connects with a resounding crack, but the beast seems utterly unaffected by the blow.

Gilglir lowers his hand for a moment as he continues to Sing of light and life. It is only for a moment, however, as he draws his sword with a flash. The blade begins to gleam white under the dim tree-shadows. Several more roots subside and one or two of the trees grow silent and still at the song.
The troll wheels back towards the ellon, seeing enemies closing in about it. It screams to the trees and they stir again, as the roots begin to menace the company once again. Two roots burst out of the ground at Taylarin's feet, twining themselves about her like strangling snakes. Her arms are pinned at her sides.

Trumodir gasps as she tries to absorb the sense of the battle and what her best plan of attack might be. Go for the roots about Tay, who seemed to be in the most danger. She aimed carefully just to the side of Tay, where one of the roots had emerged, and gave a mighty swing. The axe-blow cleaves through one of the roots, which falls dead to the ground, lying still. Trumodir cheers.
Taylarin is solidly pinned by the roots, her bow and blades rendered useless. As Tru comes, she shakes her head at the beorning. "Go for the troll, he is controlling the roots!"
The trees begin to move towards the foes surrounding the troll, but they make no move to attack, seeming torn between two opposing powers.

Minabel grabs a fallen root and begins to swing at the troll, hoping to distract it so that one of the others may strike at it. The blow strikes the side of the troll's head, but fails to draw its attention away from more pressing foes.
Trumodir heeds Tay's words and turns to take as fierce a swing as she can muster in the direction of the wood troll. The whole scene is so alien—different from going axe-to-axe with orcs—that she's somewhat dazed. The axe bites into the troll's arm, but it seems to do little more than anger the creature. It wrenches its arm away with such force that it almost pulls the axe from Trumodir's hands.

Eskild finds the roots to be particularly frustrating and takes a rather inelegant approach of hacking and slashing at one that's been taunting him. The youth's sword-strikes fail to connect with the root, driven as he is by irritation
Taylarin is held firmly, unlable to reach any of her weapons. She turned her grey eyes to the troll and began to Sing, her Song barely above a hoarse whisper. Her Song was one of growth and new life. While the roots binding Taylarin quiver a little, they remain firmly wrapped around the elleth, the troll seemingly unaffected by the Song.
Greenstand furrows his brow in frustration at the creature, so different from the wild beasts he's used to dealing with. He decides to try something different. He jabs his staff into the space between the creature's legs, and attempts to twist it to leverage the troll off balance. In his eagerness to throw the troll off balance, Greenstand actually loses his own footing on the soft ground of the mire, falling on his face in the muck.

Gilglir continues to Sing as he stands just outside the reach of the troll's arms. His Song wavers slightly as he sees his companions in difficulty, and the troll roars again, aiming a swipe with one of its massive fists at the foes surrounding it. The elf quickly dodges out of the way as the troll strikes out at him. The creature winces slightly as it steps out of deep shadow, but roars again to the trees.
As the troll's attention moves to more pressing matters, several of the roots, including those binding Taylarin, fall limply to the earth. A few, however, remain to menace the company. Though the troll continues to bellow at them, the trees remain rooted in place, their branches swaying as though caught in a tempest.
Minabel tries to quiet her breathing. "Need to concentrate," she tells herself. She carefully notches her bow and pulls an arrow from her quiver on her back. Taking careful aim at the troll, she calms her nerves by repeating over and over to herself, "Aim for his ugly face." She lets the arrow fly straight at the troll's head. The arrow strikes square between the troll's sunken eyes, but it seems to do no damage. In fact, the beast seems entirely unconcerned by it.

Trumodir looks about wildly, wondering how the group will ever find a way to free themselves. She takes a deep breath and then aims carefully at the troll's feet—or roots, she's not sure which. She raises her axe over her head to bring it down with full force. The axe falls like a thunderbolt and bites deep into the troll's outstretched arm. The troll gives a deep-throated bellow of pain and rage as the Beorning tugs the axe out of the wound, sap dripping like blood from the blade's edge.
Eskild gives up trying to hack at the root and just goes in for a mighty punch. Surprisingly, this course of action seems to work, as the root rears back for a moment as though confused, before diving back down into the ground.
Now that Taylarin is free of the roots, she nocks an arrow with elvish speed, lifting her bow to take aim at the troll and fires. The elven arrow flies true, striking deep into the troll's neck. While such a blow would be fatal to most things else, the troll simply gives another roar of anger and pain, wheeling around as its foes close in about it.

Greenstand pulls himself partway up out of the mud, and swings again at the troll's legs with all the strength he can muster. The blow strikes the troll in the back of its legs, throwing it off-balance and knocking it to the ground.
Gilglir 's Song falters as he leaps back out of the way of the falling troll. The troll heaves itself back to its feet, spitting out a great gob of muck and glaring at the Elves and Men surrounding it.
As the troll clambers back to its feet, roots erupt from the ground all around it, striking out at those near the beast. Greenstand, Gilglir, and Eskild are all caught and bound, while a root wraps itself around Trumodir's legs, pulling her to the ground. As she falls, another root wraps itself around her neck and begins to tighten.
The trees begin to advance on the archers, as one of them swipes at Taylarin with a thick branch. She ducks beneath the blow and leaps back, putting distance between herself and the tree.
Minabel looks around her and settles on trying to take out a tree instead of the troll. She takes aim at one of the trees and lets her arrow fly- hoping that this time it hits its mark. The arrow flies through the branches, taking a few leaves with it, but doing no more damage than that

Trumodir grabs at the root that has twined itself around her neck, trying to get a piece of it in her mouth, hoping she can bite down hard enough to cause it to let go. The root twists away from her grasp and tightens around her neck.
Eskild struggles to break free from the roots. He forces an arm out of the root's entangling grasp and pulls it off of him by main strength.
Taylarin frowns as the wood troll remains far too strong. She nocks another arrow and takes careful aim for an eye and releases.

As the troll lifts its head to look around, there is a sudden thudding sound as one of its eyes goes dark, a grey-feathered shaft sticking out of the socket. It staggers forward into a shaft of sunlight which has pierced the dense canopy overhead. It gives a roar of rage and fear as it rears back, but too late: as the company watches, the troll stiffens and turns to stone in the light of day. When it does, the trees quiet themselves and the roots withdraw back into the ground. A silence descends on the Gladdalf again, pierced only by the breathing of the company as they look around at the aftermath.

Gilglir puts up his sword with a quick glance and smile at Taylarin. He makes his way over to Trumodir and kneels beside her in the mud, feeling at her throat as a livid bruise begins to darken the skin. 'Can you breathe, friend?'
Taylarin breathes a faint sigh of relief as the troll turns to stone. She turns to Gilglir as he looks to her, returning his smile. She makes her way over to Eskild, asking. "You are alright?"
Greenstand stares at the ex-troll for a moment, frustrated that his vengeance has been thwarted. "I'm at least taking a foot to have fashioned into a new pipe," he mutters. Seeing that the others are recovering, he sets to work chiseling out a reasonably-sized chunk of rock.
Eskild feels his knees go weak, and there's a rather impressive bruise over his knuckles from punching a tree root. He nods wearily. "I think so. En't shot by no orc arrows this time, so s'pose that's improvement."
Trumodir takes a few shallow breaths, then deeper ones as she feels her throat, nodding to Gilglir. She rolls over and stands up, staggering a little.

Gilglir offers Trumodir a hand to her feet, should she wish it. Satisfied that she is breathing with no ill effects, he walks over to where Bialver lies in the muck and looks down on him, shaking his head incredulously. 'Did he truly brain himself in an attempt to drive off the last bits of sleep?'
Greenstand says, "I heard Mr. Baggins tell a tale about how one of his companions fell asleep and they had to carry him through a forest. We're not going to have to do that, are we?"
Taylarin nods to Eskild, setting a gentle hand on his shoulder and offering him a little smile. She looks over to assess the others.
Gilglir looks around at the others. 'I should hope not. With luck, I can rouse him. Otherwise, I fear we must leave him somewhere safe and collect him after we find our quarry.' With that, he leans down and lays a hand on Bialver's forehead.


Chapter 30: A Light in the Shadows

Gilglir closes his eyes and mutters a few words which go soft in the gloom beneath the boughs. He then remains silent for a long moment, waiting.
Greenstand looks at the sleeping form thoughtfully. "I've got some extra-potent pipe-weed that may help rouse him, if need be."
Minabel rubs her sore arms. She feels exhausted after the heavy fighting and having to repeatedly fire her bow.
Eskild meanders back to Bialver, the sounds of battle still ringing in his ears and the strange realization that he was fighting a tree. Because trees don't come alive, or at least they're not supposed to. And frankly, no one at home was going to believe him about an aggressive tree.
Trumodir looks down at her kinsman's inert body and then at Gilglir with an expression somewhere between doubt and hope on her face
Taylarin moves silently around the area, collecting all of her arrows, as well as the arrows of her companions. She returned, setting the arrows of the others down for them to sort.

Bialver utters a mighty groan, and his eyes open as he mumbles "What? Who? Cider?"
Greenstand nods to the waking Bialver. "You have an interesting way of working yourself up for a battle, my friend. Personally, though, I'll stick to threatening trees."
Gilglir smiles slightly before opening his eyes. He climbs to his feet and extends a hand down to Bialver. 'Welcome back.'
Bialver somehow gets himself up on one elbow and looks around in confusion. "Who hit me!" he demands irritably
Minabel answers him, "Walking firewood."
Taylarin smiles slightly at Bialver, then looks to Gilglir with a nod.
Trumodir sniggers slightly

Gilglir shakes his head and chuckles. 'You did,' he says as he grabs the Beorning's forearm. 'Come, let's get you on your feet. We have little time to waste.'
Bialver takes Gilglir's arm and groans to his knees, then wobbles to his feet. He appears to search his memory. "Oh." he says. "Well then, what's for breakfast?"
Eskild feels a revival of energy and launches himself at Bialver for a massive bear hug. "You missed the whole fight! There was a troll and lots of trees!"
Minabel feels her mouth salivating at Bialver's question. She looks around to see if there are any boars that can be made into little sausages.

Bialver gives Esk a bone-crunching hug. "And how many did you hew, Hero of Trestlebridge?"
Eskild looks a little crestfallen. "Not so many. Tree roots are fast and hard to hit. But I punched one so hard, it went away!” He reluctantly disentangles himself and stands aside.
Bialver shares a smug smile with Trumodir. "He punched a tree."
Trumodir smiles broadly, first at Bialver, then at Esk. "He did well," she says simply, and gives Esk a hug.

Gilglir pats Bialver on the shoulder as he gets to his feet. He looks around at the group. 'Are we ready to press on? Our quarry awaits deeper into the Gladdalf.'
Bialver grunts a thank you to their leader, plants his feet and manages not to fall over.
Taylarin nods to Gilglir, still silent, though she is already nocking another arrow in preparation.
Bialver mutters to himself "Tree-Puncher....Wood-Whopper...Bark-Fist....."
Eskild nearly glows under the affection, strange and rewarding as it is. He resolves to continue trying harder and making his new parents proud.
Minabel looks around at the others. "I do hope that we are done with walking trees and other unnatural beings."
Trumodir turns to Gilglir and says "I doubt we've seen the last of those evil trees, even if all the trolls are hidden away from the sun." She adds, "maybe it would be good to carry some torches with us"
Greenstand adds, "That sounds good to me. Fire may make the trees angry at us, but I don't see that it could make things worse than they already are."
Minabel looks at her bow and wonders if the fact that it is made out of cherry wood has angered the trees more than usual and caused them to attack.

Gilglir shakes his head at the suggestion of fire. 'All the wood here is green, and carrying lit torches would do little more than anger the trees which sleep now. Courage and main strength are our best weapons against the foe ahead.' He reaches into his belt pouch and pulls out a small flask. 'Here. Take a mouthful, each of you. It will hearten you as we go forward.' He hands the flask to Bialver.
Taylarin's eyes were trained on their surroundings, searching for anything that was moving that shouldn't be.
Bialver sniffs curiously at the mouth of the flask, and takes a mouthful
Trumodir nods silently to Bialver and holds out her hand for the flask
Bialver sighs and passes it over, but his eyes follow the flask as it passes from hand to hand.

Gilglir gestures to Bialver as he passes the flask along. 'It is precious, and every drop has virtue. You will all have need of it, I fear, lest you be sterner of heart and will than men's wont.'
Trumodir takes a quick sip and passes the flask to Eskild
Eskild eyes the liquid, sniffs it, and rather hesitantly drinks before passing it on.
Minabel sniffs the flask delicately. ‘Is it like wine?’ she asks. ‘Where did you get it?’
As the company drink of the flask, a warmness and vigour courses through their hearts and limbs. The shadows around them seem to lessen as their minds shake off some of the terror which blankets the marsh.

Trumodir runs her thumb along her axe to reassure herself that it's sharp
Greenstand takes the flask when offered to him. "I'll try anything once." He takes a sip and his eyes open wide as he reluctantly passes it on. "Capital stuff!"
Taylarin's lips curled slightly as she takes the flask, taking only a small sip before passing back to Gilglir.
Gilglir takes the flask back and puts it in his pouch. 'Very well, mellyn,' he says. 'Come, follow me. And keep heart.' With that, he turns and continues deeper into the marsh.

Greenstand follows, feeling ready for anything.
Minabel slings her bow across her back and follows behind Giglir.
Bialver is testing words with which to praise the cordial as he follows
Taylarin motions for the others to go, taking up the rear as she usually did.
Bialver mutters to himself, "The bees whose honey make this mead have wings of moonlight and crystal, and bodies of purest gold! Would I had a hive of such"
Trumodir takes a deep breath, looks about her, and follows the others, her hand on her axe haft. Although she is feeling stronger, she doesn't put full trust in her feelings.

Minabel shivers for a moment.
Eskild sticks close to Bialver and Trumodir, almost looking forward to facing the challenges yet to come.

Gilglir leads the company through the marsh quickly and quietly, heading towards the north as he follows a path which none of the others can see. Eventually, the pools and soft ground comes to an end as they clamber up on to the skirts of the hills which ring the lowland. The trees are thicker and darker than ever here, and their going slows, both from the undergrowth and from a subtle feeling of wrongness which begins to creep over them.

Gilglir holds up a hand suddenly. 'Daro!' he hisses.
Taylarin frowns as she hears the sound of voices ahead. In her own hoarse voice, she whispers to the others. "Everyone halt.… I heard voices." She pauses to listen, head tilting a little. "Two… one deep and rumbling and one thin… like a hiss. I cannot tell what they are saying."
Trumodir becomes aware of two voices up ahead. She perks up her ears and tries to catch what they are saying, but either they are speaking an unfamiliar tongue or they are too far away to make out clearly.
Minabel halts and darts behind a tree. She looks out, trying to see who is up ahead.
Bialver catches his kinswoman's eye, and cocks his head, asking a silent question.
Greenstand stops and gets a better fighting-grip on his staff.

Gilglir holds a finger to his mouth as he looks at the others, before gesturing to them to follow him quietly. He loosens his sword in its sheath and begins to edge forward in a silence which is slightly unsettling. Not a twig cracks or a leaf rustles at his passage.
Eskild screws up his face trying to hear voices but can only make out what sounds like normal cave noises. And he has no idea who this Daro is or why he's important. He only stops and keeps quiet because everyone is doing so.
Taylarin moves to find a better vantage point, following Gilglir though moves off to the side in order to try circling around their foe, cutting off an escape.
Greenstand follows as best he can, summoning all his woodcraft in an attempt to stay silent.
Trumodir tries to move more quietly, though he kind are not known for their ability to do so well.
Eskild follows Gilglir on tiptoes trying his best to be quiet because for some reason, everyone's being quiet. Maybe Daro has sensitive ears like a cat.
Trumodir looks at Bialver with a reassuring grin and beckons him to walk next to her, as quietly as he can
Bialver lumbers over to her side, both of them comforted by the other's presence

Gilglir carefully leads the company forward through the dense trees, the voices growing louder as they near them. Soon, all of the company can hear them and make out the words. A deep voice, which rumbles as if out of the earth itself, says, 'We remember oaths. We serve as before.' A hissing voice, thin and cutting as a frigid wind, replies, 'That is well for you and yours, Olog. The Great Lord does not deal kindly with traitors or cowards. Now, tell me again what you will do.' The deep voice replies, 'First crush sneaks in home. Then wait for dark and go south to smash elfs.'

Minabel feels faint at the sound of the eerie voices, but steels herself and follows Giglir into the trees.
Taylarin silently walks, her grey eyes seeking the owners of the voices through the trees.
Gilglir scowls under his hood as he catches the words, glancing quickly back at Taylarin.
Greenstand shudders upon hearing of "The Great Lord," and shoots questioning glance at the others. Between that title and the commanding tone, could this be their quarry?
Taylarin glances back to Gilglir and nods.

Trumodir sucks in her breath as she now hears clearly what the voices are saying. She grips the haft of her axe as her anger rises. These enemies may rely on fear but she won't be cowed by them!

Eskild hesitates as the story he thought he knew no longer made sense. Olog was the grumbly voice who apparently had a snake infestation, though Esk couldn't remember seeing any snakes. Unless he meant tree roots? Daro had to be the hissy voice. Very cat-like. And the Great Lord… was Olog having landlord troubles? But why were the elves involved? That still didn't make any sense unless the elves released snakes into Olog's home, but that was a very un-elf-like thing to do.
Gilglir nods back to Taylarin, then speaks in an undertone to the others. 'Our quarry is ahead. They know we come. Let me begin, then follow.'
Trumodir nods, more to herself than to Gilglir, steeling herself for what lies ahead. She searches Bialver's face for any sign of confusion and waits for Gilglir's signal.
Greenstand whispers to Gilglir, "Tell us what we need to do and we'll do it!"
Gilglir stands and walks forward, no longer concerned with secrecy.

Perhaps twenty yards further along, the path curves to the left and suddenly opens into a small glade. The thick boughs of the trees block all sun from the ground, and only a dim half-light filters through. There in the clearing stands a towering wood-troll, easily twice the size of the one they fought before. The smaller figure, however, is the true source of the terror in the woods. A shape the size of a tall man, hooded and cloaked in black, stands watching the entrance to the glade. As the Elf steps forth, the black-clad shape speaks. 'Ah, they have come of their own accord. Now, Taushakh, show your devotion to the Great Lord and slay these fools.'

The troll turns and gives a roar, but Gilglir seems unconcerned. He throws back his hood and draws his blade, the steel shining a dazzling white in the darkness. 'Nay, Gwatharan,' he says. 'I am your foe, not your slave's. We have crossed swords before. Or do you not remember?' With that, he lets the light of his spirit blaze forth, shining like a beacon for those with eyes to see in the Unseen. For the others, it seems that a slight shimmer falls about his feet, though the gleam of his sword outshines it.

Bialver takes his war axe, Kinnhöggva, from his back, and stands ready to see what will happen
Trumodir feels a thrill of understanding run through her body as suddenly all becomes clear to her where before she had had only intimations of what they were facing. Her senses all clear, she stands and waits for the propitious moment to act
Minabel gasps to see this change in Gilglir. She turns her gaze from him to the dark cloaked figure in front of them and feels a cold sensation come over her body.
Taylarin saw more than the humans would have, her perceptions of the unseen world one of her gifts. Seeing Gilglir in all of his glory was no small matter, but one that she was accustomed to. She draws her bow and nocks two arrows, hoisting her weapon up to her grey eyes, now silvery with her own internal light.
Greenstand feels fear wash over him as the Nazgul speaks, but becomes somewhat bolder at the Elf's words. He steels himself and readies his staff, looking around the area for any other, less-obvious trouble.
Eskild draws his sword, still very confused as to exactly what's going on, but Gilglir seems to know what he's doing and the bears seem equally confident. He vaguely realizes that he should be more afraid, but courage comes out on top.
Minabel continues to stare at the Nazgul with a combination of fear and awe- the coldness in her body continuing unabiding.

The massive troll bellows a challenge to the Elf in its own brutal tongue before rushing towards the entrance to the glade. As the troll aims a fist at Gilglir, the elf steps out of the way with an almost effortless grace before rushing at the Nazgûl. The Nazgûl makes no reply to the elf's challenge, but simply gives a heart-chilling cry of rage and hate before drawing a pale blade to meet the charge.
As the Nazgûl shrieks his hate and anger, a wave of cold fear washes over the company, a blackness covering their hearts and minds.

Eskild rushes at the troll with an echoing roar. He raises his sword over his head with two hands and throws his weight into the downward swing at the troll's knee. Eskild's strike glances off the thick hide of the troll. It then turns its attention to the little Man who thought to hurt it.
Gilglir gives a ringing laugh in response to the Gwatharan's cry as he closes with the foe. He raises Anglaer, the blade gleaming like lightning as it strikes. The Elf raises his voice in a song of battle as the blade scores a gash in the side of the Nazgûl's robe. The foe gives another cry, but this time of pain and fear as he falls back before the light in the elf's eyes.

Taylarin has already nocked two arrows and with a silvery flash in her eyes, released her arrows towards the large troll. The arrows fly straight and true, piercing deep into the troll's shoulder. It reels for a moment, as if stunned it could be hurt, before turning on the elf who dared wound it.
Trumodir shakes herself out of the terror that momentarily paralyzed her and puts her focus on the troll who is now coming after Tay
Greenstand loses his courage as the shriek tears through him. He had never in his entire life heard anything near so great a mixture of anger, hatred, and despair. "Can this truly have been a human once? How can we hope to stand against something so twisted?"

The Nazgûl strikes at Gilglir with his own sword, which glints with a pale, cold light in the gloom of the tree-shadows, but the Elf meets steel with steel and turns it aside with a ringing crash.
Minabel covers her ears and cowers in response to the scream of the Nazgul. Tears roll down her eyes, but she is determined to fight through the terror.
Bialver is shaking as he tries to draw his axe back over his shoulder, but it’s as though he’s been frozen in place
The troll gives a bellow of rage and strides towards the grey-clad elf. It swings a massive fist towards her head, but she ducks and rolls to her side, avoiding the blow.
Eskild sticks his tongue out at the troll.

Eskild waves his sword at the troll. "Oi! You oversized ugly oaf! You great big pansy! Afraid of the light, are ya? Can't even defend your own home?! You en't even got a brain for how big you are! Just some mindless pawn for Mister scary robes over there, and he's just as useless at crap as you! Worthless inept monster!" He goes to kick the troll's ankle.
The troll looks over as the man yells at it, but it doesn't seem to understand, instead remaining focused on the elf. Eskild's kick connects, but doesn't seem to cause the troll any pain or even distract it. Eskild, however, feels a sharp pain bloom in his toes as his boot connects. It feels like kicking a boulder.

Gilglir continues to sing as he presses the attack on the Gwatharan. The blade moves too fast for the others to follow, revealed only by the flashes of light and the ring of steel as the Nazgûl meets it blow for blow. The fear begins to fade, however, as the others see that their foe can be fought.
Taylarin's job was fairly simple: she nocked another arrow and lifted her bow, aiming for the troll. Her lips move in a silent prayer as she releases her shot, sending her silvery arrow singing through the air. The arrow pierces deep into the vitals of the troll, sinking almost up to the fletching in its belly. The troll reels again and turns to strike at her once again, roaring with pain and frustration.
Trumodir sees the danger her companion is in and leaps into the fray with a loud roar. She aims at the troll's knees, knowing that if she can disable him there he'll be out of action. The axe-blow bites deep into the side of the troll's leg. Its leg folds and it falls to one knee as Trumodir yanks the axe free.

Greenstand sees his comrades fighting and steels his resolve. With a shout of, "Combe! Combe and the Bree-lands!" he charges in and swings his staff at the side of the troll's head with all his might. There is a resounding crack, and the troll is knocked to the ground, sprawling on its face in the muck.
The Nazgûl continues to press the attack against Gilglir, though it is clear that they are evenly matched. He gives another scream of hate, though this time it is tinged with fear, as well.

Minabel takes a look at the muddy troll sprawled in front of her and frowns. "Ugly ogre," she yells, not caring that he does not understand. Then she takes a branch that is lying nearby and swings at the trolls' head with all her strength. The branch cracks over the troll's head, but the creature seems unhurt by the blow.
Bialver steps forward with a furious roar of “LANGELFRSDALR!!”,hoists his axe, and swings at the fallen troll’s neck. Though the troll manages to put its hand up to block the blow, the axe still cuts deep, shearing the hand from the arm. The troll gives a massive bellow of pain, the trees trembling at the sound, before clambering to its feet.

As the troll climbs to its feet, a thick dark sap flows from the stump. The troll looks from foe to foe, confused and angered, before swinging towards Bialver with its good hand. In its rage, the blow goes wide and strikes a tree, shattering the trunk.
Eskild, through smarting eyes and the sense that he just kicked a boulder hops awkwardly behind the troll and throws his weight into a downward slash with his sword at the troll's leg. Eskild's aim seems to be off, perhaps due to the pain in his foot. The sword-blow glances off the thick hide of the troll. Fortunately, the beast seems to take no notice of it.

Gilglir give a clear laugh as he presses the attack against his foe. He cries out, 'Come, Easterling! Whither has fled your boasting and pride?' The Nazgûl gives him a cold glare of hatred as he turns the strike from the elvish steel. At the sound of the Elf's laughter, Trumodir and Greenstand feel the fear fall from their minds.
Taylarin nocked a silvery fletched arrow, glancing to the Nazgul. She was no stranger to these foes, though she wouldn't lie and say she was unafraid. But the troll still raged and so she took a deep breath, she exhaled and released, aiming for the troll's face. The troll rears back and gives an enormous bellow of pain as the grey-fletched arrow suddenly sprouts from its left eye. The troll wheels on the elleth and advances towards her, swinging both fists in a blind rage.
Trumodir looks up to see the troll lunging toward Tay and summons up all her energy to deflect his forward movement. She makes a strong side swing of her axe, hoping to cause him to stumble. While the blow isn't strong enough to wound the troll, it still knocks it off-balance enough that it stumbles and falls once again.
Greenstand seeks to take advantage of the troll's fall, and swings at the ground-level head with his staff. While the staff connects with a solid crack, it seems not to affect the troll.

The Nazgûl continues to parry the Elf's strikes, though its hood glances in the direction of the troll as Taushakh falls to the ground again. The wraith takes a step towards the trees behind it, falling back as the Elf comes on.

Minabel gives the troll on the ground a look of utter disgust as she reaches into her quiver and pulls out the largest of her arrows. She notches it in her bow and takes dead aim at the troll's head as it lies on the ground. Mina's arrow has less luck than Taylarin's. Though it strikes the troll's head, it simply sticks in the thick bark-like skin, seemingly doing no damage.
Bialver roars the one insult he knows in Trollish (something to do with Trolls’ fathers and their feelings about goldfish, he’s never been quite sure what) in hopes of getting the troll’s attention as he charges in with Kinnhöggva whirling over his head. Taushakh looks over at Bialver with a glower and bats the axe out of the way as he climbs back to his feet.

As Taushakh climbs to his feet, he staggers from his wounds and falls back to a knee, growling in Trollish.
Eskild narrows his eyes and goes to start hacking away at the flesh behind the troll's knee. The blow carves a small chunk out of the back of the troll's knee, but not enough to do any real damage.
Gilglir sees the Nazgûl give back before him, and he smiles widely, the light in his eyes brightening. 'What troubles you, Gwatharan?' he mocks. 'Not so bold away from home? You gave a good account before the Morannon!' He aims a series of vicious strikes at his foe, who parries them, barely.

Taylarin is getting sick and tired of this troll and with a few strides, she draws her sword and dagger, slashing at the troll's arm, her blades gleaming with their own light. There is a flash of light and the sound of steel on steel, and the troll's other hand falls to the ground. It reaches out to club Taylarin with the stump, but she simply bends out of the way, like a sapling in a gale.
Trumodir is still reeling from her last lunge but through the sweat that's running down her brow she can see her chance and aims her axe directly at the troll's good eye. As the blow comes swinging in from the side of the troll's head, the blade drives through the unwounded eye and buries itself deep. Taushakh gives a low groan and slumps to the ground, nearly pulling the axe from Trumodir's hands.

As the troll-lord falls, the Nazgûl wheels and flees into the trees to the north, giving a piercing cry of anger and frustration as he goes. The trees close behind the wraith like a solid wall, and not even the swift strikes of elvish steel can part them. Gilglir sighs and puts up his blade.
Trumodir collapses on the ground in exhaustion, amazed that the fight is finally won.
Bialver kicks the dead troll "Vanmáttigr smáfiskr-samblandar", he mutters.
Minabel breathes a sigh of relief as the troll falls and looks at the others, thankful that they did not have to face the Nazgul for longer than they did.
A stillness settles over the Gladdalf as the presence of the Nazgûl fades. In the distance, there is the quiet sound of birdcalls returning to the woods.

Greenstand leans heavily on his staff and breaths hard. "I didn't realize we'd be fighting so many trees and rocks! I may need to find something a bit heftier to fight with."
Eskild gives the troll one last good stab before finally letting go of his sword and checking to make sure that his foot is still in one piece.
Taylarin breathed a sigh of relief, sheathing her blades and looking around to the others in search of any who might be injured.
Greenstand turns to Bialver. "Those Nazgul sure are frightening wretches, aren't they?"

Gilglir turns back to look at the others, the light about him fading even as a few fingers of sunlight begin to pierce the dense boughs overhead. 'You fought well and bravely, mellyn,' he says. 'Are any of you injured?'
Bialver grins at his kinswoman "You struck hard a true, Daughter of the Knurrbjornner!"
Minabel says "I may have broken a nail, but I think I am still in one piece. I thank you for your concern."
Trumodir almost whispers, "water" as she looks around at the others

Gilglir walks quickly over to Trumodir, concern evident on his face. He pulls a waterskin from his belt and hands it to her as he lays a hand on her forehead.
Eskild grimaces. "Don't think so, but it feels like that was a stone troll. Tough skin."
Bialver also unslings his waterskin and hands it to Trumodir
Greenstand frowns at the request. "Are you alright, Miss Trumodir?"
Gilglir removes his hand from Trumodir's head with a slight smile. 'You did well,' he says simply. 'Few even among the Elves can boast of a blow such as you struck.'

Trumodir nods, but stays where she is, still in a somewhat stunned state of mind
Taylarin looks each one over, pulling out her own water flask to offer it to each, should they need something refreshing to drink.
Gilglir pats Trumodir on the shoulder and walks towards Taylarin. He speaks softly and urgently in the elven-tongue.
Bialver sizes his kinswoman up, and carefully unwraps a small honeycomb from a clean piece of linen, offering it to her with a proud beam on his face
Trumodir looks up at Bialver and her eye twinkles, and a smile breaks out on her face
Minabel curtseys and thanks Taylarin for the water flask. As usual, she has failed to keep her water flask filled.

Eskild sheathes his sword and limps over to Trumodir and the others. "Yer a troll slayer now. Doubtful many can say as much."
Trumodir takes Esk's hand and gives it a squeeze.
Bialver nods with satisfaction at Esk's words, and holds out his hand to his cousin
Taylarin looks back to Gilglir and nods, murmuring her answer in the same tongue.
Trumodir takes his hand gratefully and scrambles up, wobbling a little in the process.
Gilglir shakes his head as he answers her in Sindarin.

Bialver wraps his arm around her shoulder to steady her, and gestures for her to finish the honeycomb.
Greenstand pulls his pipe-weed pouch out of his pack and offers some to Trumodir. "That was a hard fight. Need something to steady you a bit?"
Trumodir shakes her head in response, but with a smile on her lips.
Taylarin looks thoughtful as she pulls her hood a little lower over her face. She was quiet for a moment, then answers Gilglir softly in their tongue.

Gilglir nods and turns back to the others. 'If you are able, friends, let us leave this dark place. Perhaps it will be a little less dark now, but I would like to be on our way while the sun shines.'
Greenstand slowly withdraws the pouch before filling his own pipe and lighting it. As he begins puffing, he offers some to the others.
Minabel politely declines the pipe-weed.
Bialver takes his about-to-get-pompous stance, and declaimsto Trumodir and anybody else who happens to be listening "A mighty blow and well struck! You are no longer Ffrændmær to me, but Ffrændkon and Fyrirkona!!"

Gilglir smiles at Bialver. 'Perhaps we should save the boasting and cheer until we are back among friends? I would not linger here any longer than we must, even with the lord of the bog dead and the Gwatharan fled.'
Taylarin gathered up her arrows, as well as any others that she found. She looks around the area for anything else they might need before returning to the group. "We should go." She says softly.
Minabel nods her head in agreement with Gilglir. "Let us leave this dreary place with these evil trees."
Bialver nods agreement to the Elf "That was my last comb! We cannot return to fertile lands too soon to please me!"

Eskild tries to mouth out all the foreign words and finds himself only getting tongue-tied. "We're not going to kill Gawathran? Not sayin’ no to a warm bed and a hot meal or nothin’."
Bialver says softly to Trumordir "But I would give a hundred of the best to see you strike such another blow, Fyrirkona of the Knurrebjorner"

Gilglir shakes his head at Eskild. 'Such as him cannot be slain easily. He is fled, though, which is much. Come, let us go, and we can discuss our next course when we are back among friends.' With that, he turns and leads the company back out of the Gladdalf by the swiftest way, back south towards Thorenhad.
Trumodir walks with her kinsman, grateful for his words, which meant much to her, and grateful to have that trial past her.
Greenstand draws on his pipe thoughtfully as he follows the elf. Thinking of the Nazgul he has encountered, he mutters, "What a fate..." and shakes his head sadly.


Chapter 31: The Next Stage

Gilglir leads the company back to Thorenhad after a day and a half's journey through the hills. Nothing assails them, and as they go south, the usual sounds of a wood in autumn surround them. At the camp, a few short words of greeting pass between Gilglir and the other Elves as they make their way to one of the fires for some well-earned rest.

Trumodir plops herself down by the fire, takes off her boots and stretches out her legs to warm her feet
Taylarin smiled at the other elves as they returned, heading to the fire to take a seat next to Gilglir. A moment later, her quiver was in her lap and she had begun systematically checking her arrows for damage.
Eskild collapses on his back not far from the fire, much relieved to be done traveling for at least a short while.
Minabel sits down.

Trumodir turns to Bialver with a look of concern on her face. "Are you all right? You look ragged around the edges. I have some honeycakes I made less than a week ago; here, have one". She rummages in her pack and pulls out a carefully wrapped honeycake and passes it to Bialver.
Greenstand stretches before the campfire, and lights his pipe, thankful to be in relatively friendly lands once more.
Bialver shrugs off his pack and takes the honeycake.
Gilglir looks around at the others as they settle themselves around the fire. 'I am sure that we are all glad to be back among friendly faces again,' he says softly. 'We will rest the night here, and then take our horses and return to Imladris.'

Bialver unwraps it slowly with his nose no more than an inch from the wrapping, inhaling slowly as the scent wafts up. He smiles at what greets his nose, and at the mention of horses whistles for Utsending
Eskild sits up abruptly, rummages around in his pack, and finally settles into sharpening his blade.
Trumodir muses softly, almost to herself, "I hardly remember that place, it seems so long ago that we were there. But I can't forget the kind words that Elrond had for me when..."Her words break off.

Taylarin looked thoughtful as she inspected her arrows. "I will enjoy being home again, though we should not waste time in speaking to Lord Elrond."
Minabel smiles to think of the baths that the elves had and the lovely drinks and cakes and honey wines.
Bialver is greeting his mare with whispered reassurances, but looks up in concern at the tone in his kinswoman's voice
Greenstand smiles. "Some more food and song would be good, but mostly I would just like to share a pouch of pipe-weed with Mr. Baggins and hear more of his tales.
Minabel whistles and Brianna appears from behind a tree; fresh grass trailing from her mouth. Minabel pats her and says "Do not worry my darling steed. There will be plenty of oats in Rivendell."

Gilglir smiles slightly at Trumodir's words before nodding in agreement with Taylarin. 'Indeed. Master Elrond will wish to know what became of our encounter in the Gladdalf and whence our foe has fled.' As he speaks, he spreads a small cloth on the ground by him and begins to unbraid his hair, setting the gems and beads carefully aside.
Taylarin's lips curl into a little smile as Gilglir unbraids his hair, ever envious of his beads and gems.
Eskild glances up at Gilglir. "Master elf, how'd ya greet someone in your language? Not a friend or no one close. Just in general."
Gilglir laughs softly as he catches Taylarin's glance. 'You could always grow your hair out again, melethril. It has been an Age.' He glances over at Eskild. 'Suilad. Or, you could say "mae lovannen." Why do you ask?'

Eskild repeats the phrases a few times under his breath trying to memorize them. The words feel foreign, but he holds an expression of unusual determination. "Err, no reason. Not really."
Trumodir mutters "Suilad… suilad… suilad.” She looks up at Taylarin and gives her a small grin. "And how do you say, ‘I'm glad to be here?’" she asks.
Bialver eats the honeycake slowly, relishing the taste...almost...of home. He sneaks a look at this kinswoman over his shoulder before feeding a corner to Utsending
Eskild turns a bright crimson and busies himself with sharpening the sword and feeling extremely awkward.

Taylarin smiles at Tru and speaks with her usual soft voice. "You can say 'Êl síla erin lû e-govaned 'wîn' which means 'The stars shine on the hour of our meeting."
Greenstand nods appreciatively. "I've never been much good with languages, but the Elf-speech is always a joy to hear, whether I understand it or no."
Trumodir snorts in a half-laugh and turns to Bialver. <V>"Elvish is too different from our own language; the sounds are all strange. I doubt I'd ever remember what she said to repeat it"
Eskild tries muttering the new phrase as well and feels more and more like he's spouting unintelligible nonsense. But, he does his best to remind himself that it should all be worth it when they return to Rivendell.
Bialver lets Utsending lick the last of the crumbs off his hands before he turns to fully face Trumodir.
Taylarin sees them struggling and smiles beneath her hood, chuckling. "Perhaps this will be easier. 'Ni veren an dhe ngovaned' means 'I am happy to meet you all'."

Eskild really wishes he could write this all down not that the letters would make much sense to him. "And if it's only one person?"
Bialver says, <V>”I for one will not leave the home of the Half-Elven without I tell him of the mighty, Troll-Felling Blow blow struck by a certain Daughter of the Knurrebjörnner in the battle just past"
Trumodir blushes a little and gives Bialver a big smile
Bialver snickers and adds "And if he will not hear me Tell it, I will Sing it, and he will be heartily sorry"
Taylarin smiles and says, emphasizing the one difference. "Ni veren an LE ngovaned."
Trumodir nods vigorously, laughing out loud.

Gilglir simply listens to the others as he finishes unbraiding his hair. He pulls an ivory-handled brush from his pouch and laughs at Bialver. As he brushes the long dark strands, he says, 'Perhaps you would be better served telling Lindir or Master Baggins about the deed. They could cast it into song properly.'
Trumodir turns to Gilglir and says, "we Beornings may not be known for our singing, but our hearts are large toward our kinsmen."
Bialver nods. "And woe to their ears in that case. But the Half-Elven did a kindness to my Ffrændkon, and he should know these tidings"
Gilglir nods slightly to the Beornings. 'He shall know of our deeds. Indeed, he must, if he is to counsel us rightly. I fear our chase is not yet done, truth to tell.

Eskild sets down his work, the blade sharper than intended. There was nothing to be ashamed of, and it wasn't like there was any prohibition on trying to make friends.
Trumodir turns to Gilglir. "Tell us what you perceive, friend elf. My thoughts are troubled, even after the battle was won."
Bialver nods at the tall elf's words "Good it is to rest after battle, and good to be ready to face trouble to come."
Taylarin's brow furrows and she resumes her arrow inspection as she listens to the other speak.
Eskild looks slightly crestfallen at the news that they'll have to rejoin the chase again so soon. "Will we not have a few days to rest in Rivendell?"

Trumodir continues, "I see a dwarf in league with this evil wraith that we chased, and fell deeds to stir up trouble in the mountains."
Greenstand turns to Gilglir as his pipe puffs thoughtfully. "Will we pursue that unhappy creature farther? What means do we have to drive him away from these lands?"
Trumodir turns to Bialver and whispers to him in Valish, "I have never trusted dwarves, and if my vision is true, as my visions usually are, this confirms my suspicions about them."
Gilglir ties his hair away from his face and looks at the others for a moment before speaking. 'Our foe fled to the northeast, towards the mountains--' He pauses suddenly as Trumodir speaks. 'Say on, Taerhen,' he says softly. 'Your words ring true, and I would fain hear more.'

Trumodir responds to Gilglir slowly, closing her eyes as though seeing things inwardly. "There are fell things in the mountains, that we know well, and my heart forebodes that this wraith has the power to stir them up to his purposes. If there is a dwarf - or perhaps many dwarves - involved, he would have much strength at his service."
Bialver looks thoughtful at his kinswoman's words. <V> "They are a mixed lot, truly, the Diggers and Delvers. And I have faith in what your Seeings tell you"

Gilglir's face darkens as Trumodir speaks. 'The only dwarves I know of who are in these lands are those who came with Master Glóin with tidings from Erebor, and they are firm friends, true of heart and strong of deed. If the Shadow-king has indeed fled to the Hithaeglir, they must be told ere they set out on their homeward journey.'
Bialver shakes his head and muses, as if to himself "What could turn the hearts of such masters of craft? I have never understood them.… do dark thoughts breed in the dark where they delve?"
Taylarin glanced up only to look at the faces of the others as they discussed their near future. She tugged her hood a little lower over her furrowing brows, tucking her still intact arrows back into her quiver.
Trumodir replies, “I know not the purpose of this dwarf - and possibly companions with him, but in my mind I see him standing with the wraith. I must trust your judgement of the dwarves you speak of, for I have not met them, but I tell you true, the dwarves I have met I have not found to be trustworthy. They seem to love the works of their hands over much, and are quick to anger."

Gilglir shakes his head at Bialver's words. 'I have long friendship with the Naugrim, and I once learned from their maker in my youth. They are strong to endure and ill suffer the dominion of any but their own lords. But their hearts are easily swayed by the things of their own making and by the lust of wealth. All too easily does the dragon-sickness fall on them, save on those of the line of Dúrin. But even they are not free from such temptation, as Thorin has shown all too truly. But for one of the Children of the Smith to ally with Mordor? I have not heard of such a thing since the Dark Years.'

Greenstand adds, "The dwarves that travel through the Bree-lands don't seem like a bad lot, on the whole of it. Most just keep to themselves, though some can be a bit stingy with their coin, now that you mention it."
Minabel looks at Greestand and adds, "I remember when I was little girl, that the dwarves made dolls that had a frame made of a shiny silver and wore silk dresses with silver threads. I always thought it was strange that they made toys because I never saw any dwarf children"
Bialver looks at the tall elf with interest "I have heard of this Dragon-Sickness in my travels, in tales and histories, but it is ever hints and allusions. Is it merely greed?"
Trumodir asks Gilglir, "Have you heard nothing of any of the dwarven race who have turned to evil in these mountains then? My heart forebodes that there are some whose hearts have been turned to the Dark Lord in hopes of gaining something precious to them."

Gilglir replies to Bialver, 'Oft when it is mentioned, it is merely poetic speech for simple greed. However, there is an ill influence which often lingers around treasure over which a dragon has brooded, and this can infect those who harbour greed and anger in their hearts.' To Trumodir, he says, 'The dwarves of the Hithaeglir are those of Dúrin's race, who have never served the Shadow. I wonder, though.' He turns to Taylarin. 'Were you in Lindon perhaps five yéni ago? Was there not rumour of a dwarf who fell to jealousy for unending life and made an attack on Edhelion? Could these be his kin?'

Bialver nods "Even the mildest of the Dvergr will harbor a grudge, if he thinks he's been wronged - or even suspects it"
Greenstand observes, "Attempting to claim unending life seldom ends well..."
Trumodir responds, "Yet we of the Vales have had the misfortune to be confronted by dwarves who have no respect for others, chopping down trees wantonly and killing our friends with no respect for life. I ken that these dwarves must be from a different realm than those whom you know."
Taylarin shook her head. "I was not there, no, but I know of whom you speak. It was a dreadful day, though I did go into the caves beneath at a later date. The dwarf's body was not found, from what I understand."

Bialver shakes his head as though trying to remember something "That night near Bree...the Blackwolds...there was a Mad Dvergr!"He shudders "So much to happen in a single evening...I had blocked much from my mind."
Gilglir gives Bialver a sharp, sudden look. 'What do you mean, a "mad dvergr"? And this was near Bree, you say? Tell me more!'
Greenstand mutters, "Blackwolds. They never were pillars of the community, but to involve themselves in matters like these… they must have gone mad!"
Bialver looks up. “Did not our friend "Matt" send your people word of this?”
Gilglir looks at Bialver in confusion. 'I do not know a Matt,' he says. 'And our folk have no concerned ourselves with the town at the crossroads for many years. The Dúnedain watch over those lands.'

Bialver shivers a little at the memory "We went to seek a ranger… Amdir, his name was. We thought we were hunting outlaws, but there was Dvergr who was as one in the grip of some evil… and… and another! Another of those….” He gestures towards the site of their just past battle "...another of those...."
Greenstand asks, "What happened to Amdir?"
Minabel breaks through the fog of her memory. "Yes, that ugly dwarf who was there when that brave and handsome young Dunadan ranger died."

Gilglir listens intently to Bialver, but suddenly jumps to his feet at the mention of the Nazgûl. 'We had been told recently that the Nine were in Bree, as they pursued some travellers almost to the doorstep of Imladris. But I did not know that one of the Naugrim was serving them! This is ill-tidings, indeed!'
Greenstand doffs his hat slowly. "I'm sorry to hear it. Amdir was a good fellow. Always insisted on paying top price for my pipe-weed."
Minabel adds, "Although that poor ranger had changed into something rather dreadful."
Trumodir listens intently to all that is being said, her eyes fixed on the fire.
Bialver nods "Yes! The Rangers… one of them stabbed Amdir, and he found his peace, but what he became before that was… I do not like to think of it"

Taylarin looks between Bialver and Gilglir, shaking her head slightly. "A Morgul blade..." She murmured, her brow furrowing deeply.
Gilglir nods in quick agreement with Taylarin. 'It is good that such matters were swiftly dealt with. But what of this dwarf you speak of? What did he do?'
Minabel purses her lips as she thinks back to that day. "Well, the ugly dwarf was very rude and aggressive. He hurled insults at us, and then he took his sword and plunged it into some of his own Blackwolds. Then he turned that brave young Dunadan ranger into a hideous wight like being."
Minabel begins to weep. "It was so dreadfully awful. Such a loss of a brave man."

Gilglir stares in shock at Minabel's tale. 'This dwarf was able to call upon spirits, and they answered him? Ai! That is ill, indeed! Our errand is all the more urgent, in especial if this dwarf is now in the mountains. Should the dwarf and the wraith meet, I shudder to think what they could work to our woe.'
Taylarin was up on her feet by the end of the tale, looking from Mina to Gilglir. "Perhaps we should not wait, and leave now for Rivendell."
Bialver looks moodily down at the fire, remembering how fear paralyzed him that night

Gilglir settles back to the ground wearily. He stares into the fire for a time before speaking. 'We should all of us get rest. We must ride hard on the morrow so that we can speak to Elrond as soon as may be.' He looks over at Greenstand. 'I fear that our rest in Imladris may not be as long as we could wish it.' He looks at Taylarin and shakes his head. 'Nay. The road is long, and trolls still roam it of a night. If we rest here the night, we will ride the faster tomorrow.'
Trumodir stirs and speaks up. "Then my seeing was on the mark. This must be brought to Lord Elrond if we are to prevent an evil that even Imladris may not be able to withstand."
Bialver whispers "an entire illgøraflokkr...I had not thought...."
Taylarin nodded slightly to Gil, though looked off into the distance towards Rivendell.
Gilglir stands and looks at the others. 'I must speak to Elladan and Elrohir about this news. For now, though, you should go to your rest. Tomorrow, we will see Imladris once again, even if only briefly.'


Chapter 32: Back to the Valley

After a dangerous journey into the hills of the Trollshaws, the company finally returns to the safety and light of Rivendell. The morning after their return, they gather in the dining hall to break their fast with the others in the House.
Trumodir enters the hall eagerly, looking forward to the tasty repast that the elves set out, and glancing about for a sight of her companions
Taylarin enters the Hall of Fire clad in her usual grey scouting attire, though at least was weaponless today. She slipped in and made her way towards the dancing flames, though halted as she neared the table of food.
Eskild walks in conversing with another elf. Upon seeing Trumodir, he makes his excuses and rather badly mangles a bit of Elvish. The two part ways, but Eskild is in a rather good mood.
Greenstand is already in a corner of the room, puffing on his new pipe as he talks with Bilbo Baggins.

Trumodir notices Eskild as he enters and envelops him in a big bear hug. "Hungry?" she asks with a broad grin. "The elves here have the best vittles west of the Vale, in my opinion - maybe even better in some respects."
Minabel looks around to see if she can find freshly baked bread and honey.
Gilglir was at the feasting hall before any of the others, if indeed he had even slept. He is deep in conversation with a couple of other Elves at one of the side tables, though he looks up and smiles as he sees the others of his company come in.
Eskild doesn't mind getting the air squeezed out of him. "Very hungry. But, it is tough to be hungry for long here. I could get used to this." He makes his way to the food table and starts loading a plate with a veritable mountain of food.
Taylarin selected a plum from one of the trays, pausing to glance up to Tru with an amused expression. It had been a very long time since she heard the term 'vittles' and she chuckled lowly before taking more food onto her plate.

Trumodir ambles over to the section where a wide variety of fruit is displayed and takes a generous portion of each type. Being unfamiliar with some of her selections, she sniffs those carefully before lading her plate with them.
Eskild eats heartily and with ravenous intent. He's far from an elegant dining partner, but at least he doesn't eat loudly or with his mouth open.
Gilglir says his farewells to his dining companions and makes his way towards his travelling companions, plate in hand.
Taylarin takes a seat once her plate is full, smiling over to Gilglir as he arrives.

Greenstand notices the others enter and start into breakfast. "Bless me! I fear I've kept you much longer than I intended, Mr. Baggins! Thank you for indulging me with your tales, and I hope my Bree-land pipe-weed wasn't too inferior to what a Shire hobbit is used to!"
Bilbo laughs and waves away the concern. 'No apologies are needed, Master Greenstand! It was nice to have a taste of home, even if it wasn't the genuine Southfarthing article, and even more pleasant to have a new set of ears to hear my tales!' The old hobbit leans in conspiratorially. 'Truth to tell,' he whispers, 'I think the Elves just listen to indulge me. My adventures can't hold a candle to the stories of the Elder Days. But I ramble. Go on, go on! I'll still be here if you want to hear more of what happened over the Mountains. And I'll want any news you can share of the Shire!' With that, Bilbo waves the man off towards his company.

Trumodir is happily munching away at the fruit along with the amazingly light and buttery bread that is the elves' specialty, of course with additional butter slathered on it
Gilglir takes a detour past the food tables before coming over to the company. 'Well, mellyn. I trust that a night of peace in this valley has helped ease your cares? I know it has mine.' With that, he settles himself in a chair next to Taylarin.
Greenstand takes his leave of the old hobbit, insisting that he keep the remainder of that pouch, and joins his comrades. He helps himself to various fruits and some piping hot sausages.
Bialver lends half an ear to the conversation, but most of his attention is going to a very large honeycomb that some kind elf has set on his plate
Eskild wolfs down another bread roll and fruits. "I was up late last night talking, yet I feel very well rested. I think I could get used to life here."
Bialver mumbles stickily to Trumodir, and looks around hopefully for that elf

Gilglir nods to the others as they speak. 'That is well, for I fear we may have to take another, even more difficult journey. But that is only a possibility for the moment. Take your ease for now, and when you have finished your meal, let us go and speak to Lord Elrond of what we discovered.'
Bialver sees the elf who gave him the honeycomb re-enter the hall, and nearly stands on the table to get her attention
Taylarin's eyes remain fixed on Gilglir's as she takes a bite, a thoughtful expression on her face.
Bialver needn't have worried, however. She returns with an entire plate of combs, and basket full of *something* carefully wrapped in waked cloth
Eskild cranes his neck some to see where his new acquaintance got off to. Upon finding him in deep discussion with another elf, Eskild returns his attention to his food and stuffing himself past bursting.
Trumodir chews her food with a thoughtful expression on her face in response to Gilglir's word.
Bialver nods to Esk. "Good! If you fight like a Hero, you must eat like a Hero!"
Trumodir smiles at Bialver's words and rises from her chair to get more berries and soft elven bread rolls

Greenstand takes a bite of one of the sausages, and grimaces, pushing the rest to the side of his plate. As he works his way through the fruit, he asks, "What could be more difficult than facing what we faced, I wonder?"
Bialver murmurs to Trumodir in the speech of the Vales, <V>"Especially if you're going to punch trees as a regular thing"
Gilglir looks over at Greenstand. 'Climbing the Hithaeglir on the edge of winter,' he says simply as he pops a piece of cheese into his mouth.
Bialver chokes on his honey. "Climbing...the..." is as far as he gets
Taylarin finishes her meal, carefully eating within the confines of her hood. When she finished, she pushed her plate up and out of her way, leaning back comfortably in her chair as she looks around to the others with a little smile directed at Bialver.
Greenstand looks rather blank. "A mountain, or mountains, I presume?"

Gilglir nods to the Man. 'Yes. They are the mountains which rear their heads above the valley. In the common speech, they are called the Misty Mountains.
Greenstand thinks about this response, and as he does so a smile begins to form on his lips. Greenstand has never been in real mountains before, winter or otherwise.
Bialver nods. "The 'Niflfjallgarð' in our speech, but 'mist" is not quite.…" He turns to the elves. "What do you call the frost that fills the air, chokes the throat, clogs the weary feet?" he asks
Minabel adds, "My father spoke of mountains far away, which he called the Misty peaks. We named our wolfhound Misty".
Eskild half recognizes the Elvish name for the Misty Mountains. His friend mentioned it, but the boy feels certain that he couldn't repeat it properly.
A far-off look sets in Gilglir's eyes as he says, 'Hitharn.' He pulls himself out of memories and looks at the others with a slight smile. 'But have no fear. We will not face such on our road. It is not yet deep winter, and the road will not be choked with snow and ice yet.'
Taylarin glances over to Sogadan, lifting a gloved hand to catch his attention. He knew what she preferred and brought her a small goblet of wine, to which she murmured her thanks. She looks around at the group, then to Gilglir. "When is Lord Elrond expecting us?"

Gilglir glances at Taylarin. 'He did not say, Elessilmë. Simply that we should see him at our leisure ere the noon-meal.'
Taylarin nods, relaxing a little more with the knowing they were not keeping the Lord of the Vale waiting. She sips on her wine, content to listen to the others talk.
Bialver beams at the back of the retreating elf, who has left the entire basket of cloth-wrapped packages on the table beside him
Trumodir smiles to herself, remembering how significant her last conversation with Elrond had been. With the thought of being in his presence again soon, she quickly finishes what's on her plate and prepares to leave
Gilglir relaxes in his seat as he finishes his breakfast, eating in no great hurry.

Minabel finishes her biscuits and honey and sips the last of her mead.
Trumodir glances at Gilglir, having finished everything on her plate. "Let's go!" she says rather loudly, trying to get the attention of the rest of the group.
Taylarin sips at her wine, waiting patiently for the others to finish eating. She had finished already, though was content to enjoy the quiet of the morning for as long as they had it.
Bialver looks around the table
Minabel yawns leisurely and then dabs at the corner of her mouth. Time for a final hot bath before they go and see the half-elf.
Bialver decides, with some regret, that there's nothing more he absolutely needs to eat

Greenstand sets down his tableware and picks up his pipe, ready to head out.
Bialver tucks the basket of mysteriously-wrapped packages under his arm and stands up
Gilglir drains the last of his wine and stands to go, seeing that the others have finished. 'If you are ready, mellyn, please follow me.'
Trumodir responds "Ready!"
Bialver stands and walks up behind Trumodir and Esk, humming softly under his breath
Gilglir makes his way out of the hall and into the corridors of the House, taking the same path as previously.
Taylarin rises, taking one last sip of her wine and prepares to follow the others.

Gilglir leads the company once again through the halls of the House to Elrond's study. This time, the door is standing open and a cool breeze is blowing through the open windows. Elrond is standing behind his desk, perusing maps of the lands west of the Mountains.
Taylarin enters Lord Elrond's study, her steps silent as she heads towards his desk. She had been here often enough over the centuries, and she offered the elven lord a smile from beneath her hood, as well as a polite dip of her head. She murmured a soft greeting. "Lord Elrond'"
Bialver fidgets, longing to look more closely at the maps, but unsure if it would be rude
Trumodir stops just behind Gilglir; she suddenly feels abashed in the presence of the Lord of Rivendell and not wanting to be directly in his gaze

The Lord of Imladris looks up as the company enters, nodding a greeting to each of them. 'Welcome again, friends. Please, come in and make yourselves comfortable.' He gestures at the chairs and couches which line the walls.
Minabel comes in behind the others and gives a polite curtsey to Elrond.
Bialver keeps one eye on his kinswoman as they find seats
Greenstand makes a respectful bow towards his host, and selects a firm but comfortable couch to sit on.
Minabel finds a beautiful sofa and sits down
Bialver gets a faraway look in his eyes as he goes over in his mind what he will tell Elrond of his kinswoman's victorious blow in the battle
Taylarin takes a seat on one of the couches, her eyes focusing on Lord Elrond as she waits for him to speak.

Gilglir settles himself on a chair near the desk. He glances over at the others as he says, 'I have already spoken with Elrond about our encounter with the trolls and the wraith. I promise I have left nothing out.' He smiles at Bialver.
Bialver looks at the tall elf, then at his cousin
Minabel shudders to remember how ugly the trolls were
Bialver bows deeply to Elrond, one eyebrow lifted
Greenstand taps his new pipe fondly.
Trumodir closes her eyes, being somewhat overwhelmed by the surroundings, the presence of Lord Elrond, and the thought of their recent battle
Bialver 's eyes remain fixed on Elrond's face

Trumodir gives herself a stern talking-to inwardly and forces herself to open her eyes and observe what is happening.
A slight smile plays across Elrond's face, almost too quickly for the others to be sure of it. He then says, 'Indeed. Gilglir has told me of your encounter. Grieve not overmuch for the escape of the Nazgûl. Your bravery and swift action put an end to his designs for the teryg.'
Bialver inclines his head slightly at the Elf-Lord’s words
Trumodir looks at Lord Elrond quizzically. "Teryg?" she says to herself
Taylarin shakes her head slightly, taking the loss of the Nazgul more personally. "He will not be far off, disrupted plans or no." She says softly.
Bialver asks Elrond directly ''We will fight more of this kind, Half-Elven?''
Trumodir looks anxiously at Bialver, startled at the thought of more battles like the last one

Elrond looks to Taylarin and nods. 'Indeed, Tirisindë. I have spoken with Mithrandir of your tidings, and I believe that your next steps are clear. So long as the wraith lingers near the Vale, he remains a threat, not only to us, but to all of the West. Therefore, you must continue your pursuit.'
Bialver lays a hand briefly on his kinswoman's shoulder and murmur's something too soft for the others to hear
Trumodir sighs, her shoulders slumping, as she considers her commitment to remaining with the company. Does she have the stamina and the discernment needed to face such a foe again?
Greenstand nods slowly at Elrond's words. "I do not wish to hear that despairing cry again, but someone must face him. Who is in a better position than us?"

Bialver continues softly in the language of their home. <V>''Yours will not be the least of blows struck in this War, Fyrirkona of the Knurrebjorner''
Minabel also considers whether she can face a supernatural creature such as that wraith.
Trumodir murmurs to Bialver, "Do you have the will to stand against this thing? Will you stay with the company?"
Bialver replies, <V>”My bones turned to jelly at his cries, but yes, Fyrirkona of the Knurrebjorner, I will stand against them for the Heimdalr''
Gilglir looks around at the others. 'I will go with you again, friends. I have seen your hearts, and they are firm as stone.'

Minabel nods and adds, "if you are all determined to go, then I will steel my heart to fear and accompany you."
Trumodir looks long at Bialver and replies, “Then I will too. I have seen my weakness as I had never seen before, but I am strong enough – at least I hope so – when I am with my friends"
Taylarin looks to Gilglir before glancing to the others. "This task is given to us, and we will not fail." Her voice carries a soft determination in it as she gives the others a firm nod.
Bialver grins fiercely in reply "If any survive, Fyrirkona of the Knurrebjorner, they will ever fear your name....and your arm!"
Bialver nearly whispers to Tru, "Will you speak for The Vales, or shall I?"
Trumodir whispers back, "You do, please, I have lost my words for such things"

Elrond nods in agreement with Gilglir. 'I do not send you off alone. Not only will Gilglir and Taylarin continue with you for the time, but you should also seek out Glóin of the Lonely Mountain. He has but recently left the Valley and set up a camp at the pass that leads into the mountains. His scouts and warriors will aid you.'
Greenstand is deep in doubt, despite his brave words, but his ears perk up at the name of Glóin. "Is that one of the same dwarves I heard Mr. Baggins speak of in his tales?"
Bialver stands and bows to the Elf-Lord. <V>"The Children of Beorn will fight this evil with all the strength of heart and hand, Half-Elven"
Trumodir smiles almost unconsciously at the words "Misty Mountains" - the ancestral home of her kindred. She looks over at Bialver with a twinkle in her eye and mouths the words to him.
Bialver beams, happy to see her spirits rising "To roll down slopes of snow!" he chuckles
Taylarin gives Elrond a faint nod at his instructions. She looks between Tru and Bialver with a hint of amusement, though it vanished quickly as her thoughts returned to their dreaded task.

The Lord of Imladris bows his head at Bialver's words, replying in an extremely ancient form of the same tongue. <V>'And the Lord of the Vale heareth thine oath, son of Beorn. But swear thou not over-rashly nor over-boldly, for the ending of your road is hid even from the most wise.' He glances at Greenstand and smiles. 'Indeed, he is one and the same. Glóin is well-known in this house, and is a trusted friend.' Elrond turns to look at Gilglir. 'You should set out as soon as you may. Cloaks and warm gear shall be made ready for each of you, as well as weapons proof against the servants of the Enemy.'

Gilglir bows his head in agreement and stands. 'As you wish, my lord. I will take them to the stores, and see that all is ready ere nightfall tomorrow. The sooner we depart, the warmer it will still be when we enter the mountains.'
Taylarin nodded to Elrond. "Le hannon." She said softly before looking to Gilglir, nodding her agreement.
Her heart considerably lighter, Tru looks around at each member of the company in turn, her heart full of warmth for the bonds that have been forged among them.
Bialver’'s eyes grow somber at the Elf-Lord's words, but he inclines his head and answers soberly, stumbling a little over the archaic forms. “Then needs must all the Peoples of this world stand together. If any Beorning lives past this, their song will make the Vales ring.”
Elrond stands as well. 'That is well. Go with my blessing, and may the stars of Elbereth shine on your road.'

Gilglir bows in farewell and turns to go, waiting for the others.
Taylarin dips her head to Lord Elrond and makes her way to the door, stopping next to Gilglir to wait.
Minabel gives Elrond a final curtsy and thanks him for his promise of new weapons. She smiles to think of having a elven bow and arrow.
Bialver looks carefully at his cousin, then makes his bow to the Elf-Lord and turns to the door
Greenstand bows and thanks Lord Elrond for his continued hospitality. "Blessed is the land of Rivendell, where tales and legends walk still under the living sun!"
Trumodir bashfully bows deeply to Elrond and follows Bialver out the door
Bialver mutters to her, "if the Elves will not sing of your Monster-Felling Blow, then I will, by Beorn's Beard!"
Gilglir smiles at Bialver's words, but says nothing as he leads them to the storerooms in the House.
Trumodir gives Bialver's arm a squeeze of affection.


Chapter 33: Onto the Moors

Gilglir stands nears the falls of the Bruinen as the shadows of night begin to fade in the east. He looks out over the vale as he listens for the approach of the others from the House.
Minabel shields her eyes from the brightness of the first light of dawn as she comes out the front door of the Last Homely House. She looks for Giglir and then walks over to him to await the others in the group.
Trumodir steps through the great door, her senses tingling with all the information she's picking up from the breeze. She turns to see if Bialver and Esk are following her.
Greenstand draws on his new pipe as he exits the House. He counts items off on his fingers to see if he forgot to pack anything.
Taylarin comes up the path with her usual silent step, approaching the group already gathering, dipping her hooded head towards them in greeting.
Bialver shepherds Esk after Trumodir, a large full basket of small wrapped packages tucked under his arm, and a sly smile on his face
Eskild offers his elf friend a quick farewell before taking a few jog-steps to catch up with Trumodir and being dragged along by Bialver.

Bialver cuts his eyes at Esk and innocently remarks that a true traveler makes friends wherever he goes
Eskild has no remorse over making friends. "He's nice is all. I don't mind having different company."
Gilglir turns to face the others as they come out of the House. Gone are the green and brown leathers, replaced with gleaming steel armour, flashing in the first light of the dawn. The Elf smiles as he sees the others approach. 'Suilad, mellyn. Are you ready to depart?'
Taylarin looks over the other members of their company as though assessing their readiness, then looks over to Gilglir, giving him a little nod. "Are there any last instructions?" She asked, her voice soft.
Trumodir nods vigorously, replying "what a wonderful day for travel! Everything is so alive here…. I guess it will be awhile before we are actually out of the Valley?”
Eskild smiles to himself at actually being able to recognize the phrase. "Are we taking the horses into the mountains?"
Minabel looks around at all the peace and quiet that surrounds the group there in that elf valley and her expression becomes mournful. "Do you suppose we will ever see this valley again" she asks.

Greenstand nods. "Aye, Lord Gilglir! It looks a good day for traveling. Let's see...I've got my flint, my pouch, my winter coat...I can't help feeling I've forgotten something..."
Gilglir points to the north side of the valley. 'It will be perhaps a day ere we climb up onto the lower slopes of the mountains, but we will be out of the valley by perhaps the second hour of the morning. The moors will be more chill than this vale, but not biting.'
Gilglir smiles at Greenstand as he begins walking down the path. 'If you have forgotten aught, I am sure the Dwarves will gladly loan you what you need. Or sell it.' He chuckles before speaking to Minabel. 'Be not so gloomy! We shall return once our errand is done! This is my home, such as it is on this side of the Sea.'
Taylarin smiles gently. "And what the dwarves don't have, I'm sure one of us will have what is needed. We will make do."

Eskild looks a bit more alert at the mention of dwarves. "There are still dwarves living in the mountains?"
Bialver mutters to Trumodir "Dverge!"
Greenstand turns toward Eskild. "Not just dwarves! Elrond mentioned seeing THE Gloin!"
Gilglir shakes his head at Eskild's question. 'No, none of them live in the Hithaeglir now, sadly. These Dwarves are those who came east with Lord Glóin, and return to the Lonely Mountain with him.' He sighs slightly. 'Ah, would that the dwarf-halls beneath the mountains were filled with light and beauty once again, as in the days of Hadhodrond!'
Trumodir turns to Bialver: "Tsk!" she whispers

Eskild shoots Greenstand a curious look. "I heard that the dwarves once built magnificent halls under the mountains and mined mithril. And they had kings all named Durin. But then they got greedy and aren't there anymore. And that's about all the dwarvish history I know."
Trumodir glances over at Esk, amazed at the depth of his knowledge. "Esk, where did you learn all that? I didn't know that men from Bree-land even knew that dwarves were real!"
Taylarin looks over to Eskild with a smile. "That is the basics, yes." She looks over to Tru. "Dwarves pass through Bree quite often, trading goods and such."
Greenstand responds, "We get dwarves through the Bree-lands occasionally. They usually keep to themselves, but every once in a while one'll open up with some fascinating stories."
Bialver cocks an eyebrow "This is the Lore they teach in Trestlebridge?"
Eskild says, "We know they exist and bring money and that's about it. The history lesson came from my friend. He also tried telling me the history of the elves, but I can't keep any of the names straight."
Trumodir raises her eyebrows in surprise at the content of the conversation. So much to learn!

Gilglir nods at Eskild's comment. 'Those are the broad strokes, yes.' He smiles with remembrance. 'I liked Durin III. He was well-spoken, and a fast friend to us of Eregion. He was very eager to have his gates built, though.' He chuckles.
Trumodir looks thoughtful as she tries to take in this new piece of information
Taylarin chuckles softly and looks around the group before her dark grey eyes settle on Gilglir. "Are we ready to go, then?"
Minabel sighs, "I suppose I am ready," she says.
Bialver slaps Esk on the back and says "The Hero is Ready!"

Gilglir looks back to the road up out of the valley. 'Indeed. Let us continue on our way.' As they go, he says, 'I have never visited any of the dwarf-holds in the northern reaches of the Hithaeglir. We will have to depend on the memories of Durin's Folk to guide us, should we have to delve into any of their ruins.'
Greenstand nods. "I'm ready. Perhaps we could hear more tales of the dwarves as we walk?"

Minabel adds, "the only thing that I know about them is that they are a funny people. It is said that they keep to themselves and do not relate to others except to trade."
Gilglir glances over his shoulder at Mina. 'That is true in these latter days, but it was not always the case. The tale of the sons of Aulë is long and sad.'
Trumodir strides alongside Bialver, humming to herself as she takes in the scenery that they are walking through
Taylarin adjusts her bow and quiver on her back and sets off, taking up the rear.
Bialver feeds his senses with the delights of the valley as they leave it, knowing that stranger, wilder scenes await them.
Greenstand feels somewhat reluctant to leave the valley, but also eager to meet Gloin.
Trumodir slows down at every stream and waterfall to smell deeply of the clean, cool water

Eskild is quite happy to regale Greenstand with stories about the dwarves at Othrikar, though his knowledge is spotty at best.
Bialver gives a whistle as they pass the stables, and Utsending's unmistakable whicker floats back to them in the breeze
Taylarin looked around the valley as though with a wistful look, never knowing how soon she would return. She listened with some amusement to Eskild's tales of the dwarves.
Greenstand asks some questions of Eskild, but for the most part is content simply to listen and hear new stories.
Gilglir chimes in from time to time with a slight correction or clarification to Eskild's accounts, but is content to sing softly as he walks.

Minabel listens to Giglir's song. "That is lovely. What is it that you sing?"
Gilglir replies to Minabel, 'It is an old song of Beleriand. Speaking of the Mountains of Mist put me in mind of the mountains of my home, and this song is one we made in the first years of our exile, remembering them and mourning our loss.'
Minabel nods silently in acknowledgment

After perhaps an hour, the path begins to climb steeply up out of the valley, weaving back and forth along the face of the cliff through the pine-woods which cling to the rocks.
Gilglir looks back to make sure that the rest of the party is not overly pressed by his pace.
Bialver sniffs the air, and grins at Trumodir .<V>"Snow! Ice! I can almost taste them!" he says in the language of their home
Taylarin looks as comfortable walking at this steep incline as she would on flat ground. She murmurs soft encouragement to any who seem to be lagging or struggling.
Trumodir nods vigorously, responding in their native tongue, "I have missed the cold – it has been too long since we have enjoyed it!"

Eskild is starting to show some signs of fatigue, but he keeps marching on to keep up with the group.
Minabel slips in some mud on the path. She falls down on her bottom, curses silently, then looks around to make sure no one heard her. Satisfied that no one did, she gingerly picks herself up and begins trying to traverse the steep hillside again.
Taylarin has elf hearing, she heard Mina and chuckled softly.
Greenstand breathes a little harder than normal but manages to maintain the pace.
Trumodir looks around for Esk and realizes that he is lagging behind. She stops and waits for him, and asks Bialver to let Esk have a drink from his flask of mead
Gilglir slows his pace somewhat, so as to make the trek easier on the other members of the company. He smiles at the Beornings' talk, and says in somewhat clumsy Valish, 'Snow and cold are come, but not for a day yet.'
Trumodir nods, but responds, "yet we smell them even now, and it makes our hearts glad"

Minabel realizes that her feet are starting to hurt from the ascent up the cliff. "How much longer till we reach a camp," she asks Giglir?
Eskild tries to wave off the mead in vain. He does end up drinking, though, and it's enough to keep him going for awhile longer.
Gilglir raises an eyebrow at Trumodir. 'You smell them?' he says in the Westron. 'But how-- Ah. So the tales I have heard are true, then.' He nods knowingly, but says no more. Turning to Mina, he says, 'We have a long day of walking ahead of us yet. But the slopes will be easier once we climb out of the valley. Not more than half an hour ere we reach the moors.'
Greenstand is somewhat disappointed that the constant aroma of pipe-weed about him prevents him from similarly smelling the distant mountains, but soon forgets that concern as he hums a walking song.
Taylarin looks up towards the mountain peeks, then to their path ahead. "We are nearly past the worst of it." She agrees with Gilglir.

True to the elves' words, the path finally reaches the lip of the valley before climbing out onto the open moors again. Now, the party can see the mountains rising up, rank on rank, in the blue distance in the east. A chill wind whistles down from the snowclad peaks, bringing a foretaste of winter.
Gilglir seems utterly unconcerned by the biting wind, simply adjusting his pack and his shield on his back as he leans on his spear, looking at the others.
Trumodir stops, nose up, a look of ecstasy on her face
Minabel pulls her cloak closer around herself and prepares to brave the hours of walking ahead.
Greenstand stares, astonished, at the endless peaks. He asks the Valelings, "You've crossed these? You mean, these do actually end at some point?"
Trumodir she turns to Bialver and gives him a broad smiles, which he returns, doing a little shuffling dance to go with it
Taylarin pulls her hood a little lower over her face as the wind picks up, not from being cold, but to prevent her hood from blowing off. She holds it in place as they continue.
Eskild looks on at the mountains in wonder thinking about what the Vale could be like. Though, the thoughts are disrupted by the creeping chill.

Bialver answers Green by saying, "these mountains are our ancestral homelands, and they present no barrier to us. But they DO end", he adds a bit ruefully.
Gilglir adds to Bialver's words. 'They are not more than 10 leagues wide, though they stretch for 250 leagues from Gundabad to Methedras.' He turns and begins to walk towards them, following a path barely to be seen amongst the bracken and grasses.
Greenstand nods. "Well then, by your leave, I look forward to seeing these homelands."
Trumodir cries, "oh they are wonderful! So refreshing, so bright with snow in winter, and the smell of the spruces and firs in the summer!"
Gilglir nods in agreement. 'Beautiful they are indeed, but also dangerous in recent years. The Orcs have begun to multiply again, alas.'
Taylarin chuckles softly at Tru. "Your enthusiasm for snow is a rare treat, but goblins have taken up residence deep within the mountains as well. We must be wary."

Bialver gives a low growl in response to Gil's mention of orcs, and he clenches his fists.
Gilglir gives Bialver a grim smile. 'Patience. My heart tells me you will have your chance ere long, and I will be alongside you. I bear them no more love than do you.'
Eskild is not nearly as thrilled about the idea of snow, but if it means making it to camp, he can keep going.
Greenstand looks thoughtful at the mention of orcs. "I've heard many stories with goblins in them, but I've never yet encountered any."
Taylarin gives Green a sidelong glance. "Let us hope you never do."


Chapter 34: The Misty Mountains

Gilglir stands on the edge of the company's camp as the sky brightens in the east. His bright eyes scan the road to the north, up into the mountains. A chill wind blows down from the cloud-wrapped peaks, whipping his cloak about him.
Trumodir rolls over on her sleeping skin but shows no sign of waking up; in fact, she looks very peaceful and quite asleep
Taylarin rose from the place she had been sitting, picking up her bow and quiver and slinging them over her shoulder, looking upwards to the peaks that surround them. Her head tilts a little, almost looking like she is listening for something.
Bialver is dreaming of high snowy mountains, with frozen waterfalls like purest crystal, and, cracking open one eye, gives a loud ''chufff!'' of delight to see where he is.
Minabel sighs and stretches her arms over her head before sliding out of her cozy bear skin sleeping bag.
Greenstand reaches a shaky hand towards his flint, and takes a couple tries to light his pipe. Once it's going, though, he leans back and sighs contentedly.
Bialver scrambles out of his blankets and, before he dresses, goes running up the nearest snow-covered slope, and launches himself into a long rolling slide, raising a plume of snow behind him

Gilglir glances back at the camp as he hears the others stir, but says nothing. Instead, he simply sings softly to himself as the day continues to break.
Bialver stops about 100 yards from the camp, and gives himself a through all-over scrubbing with snow, then calmly proceeds to dress.
Bialver carefully saves a good handful of snow, and returns to camp with it in his hand, looking back and forth between the recumbent forms of Trumodir and Minabel, as though trying to make a decision...
Taylarin watches Bialver, her thoughtful expression giving way to amusement for a moment. She looks around the camp, smiling at any who look at her before she heads over towards Gilglir, saying nothing, only coming to stand at his side.
Greenstand looks at Bialver, and has seen enough snowfalls to see where this is going. He lets out an exasperated sigh but says nothing.
Bialver grins at Green, and carefully tucks a good pinch of snow down the back of his kinswoman's beck

Gilglir glances towards Bialver, a smile flashing across his face. He turns away as the man strikes, and simply lays his arm across Taylarin's shoulders. His song continues unabated.
Trumodir snorts loudly and opens her eyes with a smile. She looks over to her kinsman and her smile widens as she says <V>”I had a dream about Beormodir - I saw her so clearly in the sky last night!”
Bialver smiles at the thought, and holds out the rest of the snow.
Trumodir jumps up, grabs the snow from Bialver and tries to put some down his back as she laughs heartily
Taylarin steps closer to Gilglir, coming to rest against his side. A soft chuckle escapes her and she shakes her hooded head. "We head into certain danger, yet they play like children." She murmurs to Gilglir.
Gilglir smiles back at the others and then down at Taylarin. <S>'Let them play,' he says softly. 'If it keeps their hearts up, I'll not grudge them their joy.'

Bialver tries to fend Tru off, but is laughing so hard she tumbles him over on his back, where he proceeds to make a snow-wizard before picking himself up
Taylarin looks up to Gilglir and nods. <S> "I wouldn't dream of stopping them. It warms my heart to watch them."
Greenstand picks up a couple handfuls of snow, and starts packing it into a smooth, round ball.
After tussling with Bialver, Tru plops down on the ground and states loudly, "I'm hungry! Time for some honey-cake!" and reaches over to get some from her pack.
Minabel looks over to Trumodir. "That makes me think of honey, cream, ice, and berries. What I would not give for some right now."
Bialver picks up another white, powdery handful, and looks at Mina with a gleam in his eye. ''We can start with the snow'', he growls.

Trumodir turns to Mina. "Why don't we go look for some berries? There should still be some of the hardier ones on the bushes."
Minabel squeals and claps her hands. “Yes, let’s!”
Trumodir turns toward a promising area, sniffing as she goes and beckoning Mina to follow
Gilglir smiles down at Taylarin once more before turning back to the others. 'Sadly, we have no time to forage for berries. We have another long road ahead of us today, and I mean to finish our journey into the mountains. Bedding down in the dwarf-hold will be far preferable to camping in the high snows.'
Trumodir turns back ruefully, murmuring, "I could smell some over there, not far away."
Taylarin glances back up the pass and to the peaks. "We should reach our destination by nightfall, if we hold to our task without distraction."
Bialver sighs at the Tall Elf's words, but knows serious business when he hears it. He packs his handful of snow into a tiny ball, and chucks it underhand at Greenstand

Gilglir walks back to the campsite and shoulders his pack. He seems to have not set out a bedroll for the night.
Trumodir reluctantly walks back to where her sleeping skin and pack are, and gathers them up
Greenstand lets the snowball hit his chest. He then fixes his scarf on the end of his staff to form a sling, puts his own snowball in it, and launches it at Bialver.
Taylarin heads to where she had sat all night, picking up her own pack and adjusting it on her back along with her quiver. She looks around the camp, waiting patiently for the others to be ready.
Bialver has unwisely turned away to fold his blankets, and straightens up with his pack just inb time to intercept Green's snowball with the back of his head.
Greenstand quickly turns and begins fiddling with packing his gear, feigning innocence.
Trumodir bursts out laughing, full of joy at being so near the high mountains and endless snow!
Bialver picks himself from his unexpected face-plant in the snow, and shoulders his pack before he turns to give Green an indignant glare.

Gilglir smiles at the others and their antics. He waits patiently as he watches them.
Bialver walks over to Taylarin with a smile, and makes a ''lead-on'' gesture
Greenstand notices Bialver's glare and shrugs guiltily. He then laughs and offers Bialver his pipe-weed pouch.
Trumodir turns toward the clump of greenery with – she is sure – berries hidden among the bushes, and gives Bialver a wistful look
Bialver digs out his pipe and fills it from Green's pouch with a smile.
Taylarin lifts a brow at Bialver, smiling and nodding. "As you wish" She says softly, turning to head up the path with an amused glance to Gilglir.
Bialver notices Tru's dilemma, and raises his voice ''Wait! What is that in those bushes!!??!!"
Bialver fakes his best look of alarm

Gilglir sighs and shakes his head. 'Forage if you wish, but tarry not over-long.' With that, he turns and begins to walk towards the mountains.
Bialver dives for the bushes, muttering to Tru ''Elves and humans, we can catch up at our ease''
Trumodir shoots a look of gratitude at Bialver, and beckoning to him, scurries off to the bushes to look for berries
Trumodir quickly finds a few that are still plump and gathers them, handing some to Bialver, and saving a few for Mina
Gilglir fishes an apple out of his belt pouch and eats it as he walks. Though he takes long strides, his pace is not too fast for the others to keep up (or catch up, as the case may be).
Minabel looks around but has a difficult time finding berries in this snowfall seeing as she is not experienced with gathering in these conditions.
Taylarin looks over her shoulder with a little sigh as the Beornings go off to find berries, though her stride doesn't stop. She continues heading into the mountains.
Trumodir pops the rest into her mouth with a huge grin, closing her eyes as she savors them
Bialver grins and wraps them in a cloth before stuffing them into his pack...then grabs and swallows a few more before following the rest of the party
Trumodir notices that Bialver has started up the path and quickly turns to follow him

The route up into the mountains winds up and down over the foothills. Each time they descend into a valley, however, the further slope is longer and steeper. By mid-morning, they strike a path clear to see winding down from the east, and, when the Sun climbs over the ridges ahead of them near noon, the party is already far up onto the lower slopes. The lands to the west spread out dim and blue with distance beneath them.
Bialver stumps sturdily along, but pauses now and then to gaze upwards at the slopes, or back at the lowlands
Trumodir walks behind him, her thoughts elsewhere than on her immediate surroundings
Taylarin stepped lightly over the snow, her boots hardly making a mark as she winds up the path, seeming unbothered by the constant uphill trek.
Gilglir continues at a steady pace, even as the slope increases. Though the snow thickens on the ground, the Elf's feet seem to leave no imprint, even though he walks in steel boots.

Greenstand looks back, and begins to feel a bit woozy at the sense of height and distance. He quickly turns around and focuses on the path ahead.
By some sense or another Tru becomes aware of Green's dis-ease and stops to open her pack and get an aromatic leaf from it. This she hands to Green saying, "Here, keep this in your hand and take a sniff when you feel disoriented."
Greenstand sniffs the leaf and brightens. "Thank you! What is this?"
Bialver looks at Esk, who is keeping up, but with a determined line deepening between his brows, and motions for him to take some of the same leaf from Trumodir
Trumodir replies to Green, "It's an herb that we grow where I come from, and use for various afflictions. It clears the mind."
Minabel looks down as they wind up the path and begins to feel faint headed as well. "Please can I have some of that leaf as well?" she asks Trumodir.

Gilglir glances back at the others, noticing their lagging and discomfort. He points to some flat rocks in the lee of a few tall pines a half-mile up the path. 'Only a little further, mellyn, and we can pause for the day-meal.'
Trumodir offers a leaf to Mina and says to all, "these leaves are quite sturdy, as you can see by the touch. Be careful with them and they will last for many days."
Taylarin pauses, letting the others catch up.
Minabel nibbles at the leaf and smiles. " It is quiet yummy” she says. “Can you make it into a tea? I shall have to take a few home."
Bialver smiles at the thought of food, and a chance to properly look around, and casually puts his hand on Esk's shoulder, propelling him along in a way that, for a Beorning, is relatively subtle
Trumodir retreats back into her walking meditation or whatever it is that seems to take her far from her surroundings

Taylarin smiles at the others and beckons them. "Come, it isn't much further before we can stop and eat."
Gilglir leads the company up the slope to the large rocks. A few pine trees help shield the company from the wind, while the stones have been pleasantly warmed from the bright fall sun. Gilglir unslings his pack and settles himself on the stone.
Taylarin follows Gilglir towards the stones, pausing to look towards the others, ensuring they were alright as they climbed.
Bialver gently propels Eskild up the slops, then allows him to collapse on the sun-warmed surface of the stone. and
Minabel collapses on a large warm stone- too exhausted to continue. She lies there for a few minutes just taking in the warmth of the stone and the beating sun.

Greenstand makes it up the slope and leans heavily on his staff, too winded even to light his pipe.
Trumodir follows behind her kinsman, humming happily to herself as she takes in the surroundings with evident deep satisfaction
After seeing the young Trestlebridger settled, Bialver begins to range around the stone, stopping here and there to taste pinches of snow
Bialver breaks to crust to find a stunted bay plant, and gathers a few leaves, which he brings back to Tru
Gilglir looks at the others as he fishes some food out of his pack. 'We have made better time than I expected. We can take an hour ere we set out again.' He breaks off a corner of a piece of bread and begins to chew.
With a nod of thanks, Trumodir takes the leaves from Bialver and carefully inspects them, then taking a small pouch from her pack she puts them into it
Greenstand recovers his breath a bit. "It's a pleasant surprise to find such warm stones amid such cold snow."

Once everyone is settled, Taylarin takes a seat on the warm rock and pulling out a small parcel of rations, nibbling a little as she looks upwards into the hills. "We should make good time the rest of the way as well, once we are rested."
Bialver grins at the good news, and begins to range further from the rock. He is almost out of sight when the company hears the unmistakable FLOOOFTHUD of a Beorning belly-flopping into a snowbank. The sound is followed by a stream of curses in Valish, as it seems the snowbank was not quite as deep was anticipated
Trumodir smiles to herself at her kinsman's antics as she inspect her store of herbs and unguents to see what she might need to forage for.
Minabel takes out some dried boar meat, an apple, and a container with some dried leaves in it. She nibbles away at the jerky and the apple and puts the container down on the ground.

Gilglir cuts pieces from a small block of cheese and eats them as he gives the others appraising looks. He occasionally looks up the slope towards the nearer peaks and up to the sky, watching the wind and the weather.
Greenstand sits down, leans against a tree, and lights his pipe. He closes his eyes a bit, taking in the sounds and scents… at least those he can discern past his pipe-weed.
Bialver wanders back to the group, looking a trifle damp. He fishes in his pack and finds a couple of honeycakes, which he settles down to eat
Satisfied that she has enough healing herbs in her pack, Tru pulls out a honeycake and begins to munch greedily; the cooler weather has increased her appetite tremendously
Taylarin finishes her dried meat and rises, absently brushing off her trousers before wandering towards the path, heading up a little, though not out of sight. She watches the road ahead, her head tilting a little as though listening.

Taylarin's eyes catch the slightest bit of movement and she looks upwards, holding her hood on her head as her silvery grey eyes follow a bird heading towards Rivendell. She slowly turns, trying to make out the details. "A bird from high up in the mountains is heading towards Rivendell." She says softly. "But I cannot make out what it is, it is too far away."
Greenstand asks, "Is that unusual, for a bird to fly towards the valley?"
Gilglir looks up, scanning the skies until he, too, catches sight of the bird. He shakes his head at Greenstand's question. 'It is unusual for one to come from the mountains,' he says. 'Perhaps it bears a message from Gloín to Elrond.'
Taylarin looks towards Green and nods in agreement with Gilglir. She hesitates before shaking her head. "It usually means news… important news. I am more curious than I should be, perhaps."
Trumodir glances toward the elves, listening closely to their conversation

Gilglir watches the bird until it dwindles into the distance, descending towards the valley. He then shakes his head. 'I fear we must cut our rest short, mellyn nîn. If matters are dire enough that the dwarves would send word to Rivendell, then we must speed on our way.'
Bialver stands, stretches, and repacks his back, keeping a honeycake in his hand to munch while they walk.
Greenstand almost leaps to his feet, much renewed at the reminder that they're going to meet Gloin.
Trumodir follows her kinsman's lead, slinging her pack on her back and stepping in line alongside him
Bialver nudges his kinswoman, and points to Esk, who is gently snoring in the sun
Trumodir smiles, and quietly goes up to him and tickles him under his chin
Eskild jumps up with a startled look on his face and yawns loudly
Bialver grins and stuffs the honeycake into Esk’s mouth
Gilglir smiles slightly at Trumodir and Eskild as he slings his pack back on his shoulders. After waiting a moment to ensure that the others are ready, he sets off at a steady pace up the path.
Minabel sighs and picks the container she put on the ground up and puts it into her pack- time for tea later.
Minabel moves into line with her companions as they get ready to move
Taylarin collects her pack and moves back to the group, following Gilglir as he starts up the path.
Bialver stays a couple of paces behind Eskild, ready to steady him if he falter.

Through that afternoon, the company takes the climbing paths up into the mountains. As they ascend, the snows come down from the peaks to meet them, spreading a white blanket over the rocks and grass. Still the path goes up, even as their shadows stretch out before them.
Gilglir walks with a tireless pace on their way. As the snows deepen before them, he continues to pace on top of the drifts and banks, his booted feet leaving no imprint as he passes.
Bialver stumps sturdily along, but as the snowbanks grow larger and deeper, his feet begin to lag, and he gazes wistfully off the trail they follow
As before, Tru seems lost in her thoughts as she almost unconsciously follows the elves up the trail
Greenstand trudges through the snow, thankful for the tall boots he was given in Rivendell before their journey.
Minabel struggles to keep up with the others as snow begins to come up around her lower legs
Taylarin, like Gilglir, does not sink into the snow nor does she leave an imprint. It was as though she was never there. She often turns to keep an eye on the others, heading towards Mina as she struggles with the snow. "Come, I will help." She extends her hand to Mina.
Gilglir glances back at the others, and, noticing their troubles, slows his pace somewhat.
Minabel thanks Taylarin and takes her hand. "This snow is too much. I hope it does not slow us down too much."
Taylarin tries to help Mina through the snow, offering her a gentle smile. "We will do what we can." She murmurs softly.

As the day fails and the Sun falls towards the distant Sea, the company comes to the ruins of a once-broad road, edged at steady intervals with large pillars of worked stone. The going is easier on this stretch, as the snow is less on the road. They follow this further up into the mountains, until they eventually come to the end of this stretch of their journey: a broad set of steps, bordered by watchtowers, leads up to a gate in a stone wall which is flung out from the side of one of the peaks. Looking up, the company catches sight of windows in the mountainside glinting red in the last light of the Sun.

Trumodir looks up with an expression of anticipation. "Look, a homely house here in the mountains! I wonder if a kinsman is there?"
Greenstand stares at the structure, amazed. "I had heard of folk living in the mountains, but I wasn't expecting it to be IN the mountain!"
Gilglir looks back at the others, a smile plain to see in the dusk. 'Where else would the dwarves live? Surely you have heard of the great mansions of the Naugrim beneath the mountains? But, come. There will be fire and food within, and much to discuss.' With that, he makes his way up the stairs towards the gate.
Bialver scratches his head. I have never heard of any such. Beornings, living in houses of stone? And yet it might be.
Taylarin chuckles softly at the conversation, though says nothing, merely following the others towards the structure.
Minabel perks up her ears at the mention of fire and food. Finally, some relief for her poor feet.

As the company climbs the steps, they suddenly hear a gruff voice shout, 'Halt! Who comes so bold and openly to the halls of the Longbeards? You are not of our folk. Speak your names and business, and do it quickly!'
A stout figure stands atop the wall above the gate, flanked by half a dozen guards on either side with bows bent on the company.
Bialver exchanges glances with Trumodir, and loosens his club
Greenstand looks to Gilglir, expecting their leader to placate the dwarves.
Minabel moves behind Greenstand just in case Gilglir cannot calm the excitable dwarves.

Gilglir takes a step or two forward, holding his hands outward in token of peace. 'Hail and well met again, Authi Skjallrson! Morthalion Gilglir Galgadron am I, at your service!" He bows deeply. As he stands, he says, with a twinkle in his eye, "Is it so soon that you forget the tales we shared in the Hall of Fire but a fortnight gone? We come on errand from Elrond of Rivendell."
Taylarinn turns her eyes upwards and smiles slightly, dipping her head to the Naugrim. "I am Taylarin of Imladris." She says softly, giving her name without hesitation, and if they could see beneath her hood, they would see her amusement.
Minabel moves out from behind Greenstand and hesitantly addresses the dwarves, "Minabel of Bree, at your service. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Minabel curtseys politely.
Bialver takes his hand off his club, and makes the deep, formal bow of the Vales, naming himself, and Eskild Puncher of Trees

The dwarf starts a moment before giving the elf a long look. He suddenly laughs. 'At your service, Master Elf, and your family's! Nay, I've not forgotten, but things are grimmer than we expected in the mountains of late. Come in out of the cold and we can speak more at length of them. Open the gate!' he shouts down behind the wall, and the gate swings open with a grinding of chains and a creaking of hinges.
Gilglir turns to the others and gestures for them to follow as he climbs up the remaining stairs and passes through the gate.
Trumodir takes a deep breath and mutters to herself as she follows the elf into the dwarven keep. She clearly is not pleased with the idea of being a guest of dwarves.
Minabel looks with wonder at the enormous hall before them; her mouth ajar with wonder at the glorious sights.
Bialver looks longingly over his shoulder at the snows-covered slopes, but shrugs & follows the others
Greenstand stares in awe at the great Dwarven construction. "I thought dwarves would build… well… cosier, like the hobbits do. I had not imagined their buildings would be so impressive!"

Minabel turns and whispers to Greenstand, "Do you suppose they have many jewels in this place? I so like beautiful things."
Eskild gawks at the dwarven architecture. While he had heard of their halls of stone, words could barely scrape the extent of the craftsmanship. It certainly surpassed anything he'd seen in his lifetime, and he jogged a couple paces to keep up, not even realizing that he'd slowed.
Bialver shakes his head. "They are the Sons of Stone, and stone is their comfort and their mainstay"
Taylarin smiles under her hood and looks at Greenstand. 'You might not want to say that so loudly,' she murmurs. 'Dwarves can be... touchy about such things.'
Greenstand whispers back to Minabel, "Mr. Bilbo's tales mentioned jewels; one so beautiful that a battle was almost started over it!"
Minabel responds, "Mr. Bilbo? Was he the hobbit that we met in the Hall of Fire. The eccentric little fellow?"She adds, "He seemed pleasant enough, although his clothes did not match and they were out of fashion."

Authi comes down the steps from the wall towards the company, giving them an appraising look as he does. He gives a small nod, half to himself, as he looks them over. Spreading his arms, he says, 'Welcome to our humble lodgings! I'd do more of the pleasantries and formalities, but I feel like my nose is about to fall off. Besides, I'm sure Lord Glóin will want to see you as soon as may be. Let's get inside.' With that, he makes his way towards a large set of double doors set into the mountainside at the back of the courtyard.
Greenstand answers, "Yes! He passed through Bree many years ago with a small company of dwarves. He told marvelous tales at the Pony of some adventures he had had in his younger days."
Gilglir laughs lightly at Authi's words, but follows him towards the hall and its promise of warmth and light and company.
Bialver pauses to inspect the workmanship of the doors, which, though somewhat battered, are cleverly wrought

Authi leads the company and a number of dwarves through the doors and down a long ramp, which open into a wide hall whose ceiling is lost in the darkness above. Sounds of stamping and the smell of horse let the party know that a number of beasts of burden are stabled here, but the dwarves lead them on into the next chamber, which is even larger. A double line of pillars marches down the hall, tall statues of dwarves with beards down to their ankles standing between the pillars. There are a number of fires burning in hearths along the walls, with food cooking on them. Towards the far end, there is a raised dais, with tables set on and near it. A sizable company of dwarves cluster about them, and in a high chair at the centre of the dais sits a dwarf with a long white beard braided and tucked into his golden belt, his head bent down in conversation with another dwarf of near his age. The songs and conversation pause as the company draws near, surprise evident to see a group of men and elves here. The white-bearded dwarf stands and comes to the edge of the dais, bowing low as the company approach.

Eskild keeps quiet and sticks close to the two Beornings. While apparently hospitable, he has no intention of giving the dwarves any reason for provocation.
Minabel turns her nose up in disgust at the smell of horses inside of a dwelling.
Greenstand keeps turning around as he walks, trying to take in everything and nearly stumbling several times in the process.
Bialver looks over at the stables and grumble to Trumodir that their horses would have been perfectly comfortable on this part of the trek
Trumodir glances toward the horses with a smile and goes over to speak with them in low tones
In response to Bialver's comment, Tru whispers to him that the beasts are well fed though they would prefer to be outside in the fresh air

Gilglir walks up to within a few paces of the dais and bows even lower, smiling as he stands up again. 'Morthalion Gilglir Galgadron at your service, Glóin Gróin's son!'
Bialver makes a deep bow, naming himself, Trumodir of the Mighty Arm, and Eskild Pine-Puncher, and praising the enticing smells coming from the hearths
Minabel also notices the aroma coming from the hearths. “What meats are you good lords roasting? I, myself favor a good roasted boar which I have hunted myself."
Trumodir looks about her but doesn't find her surroundings to her liking; her countenance is impassive
Greenstand bows as low and respectfully as he can manage while saying, "Lord Gloin! It is truly an honor to meet such a distinguished dwarf as yourself! Gilbert Greenstand at your service!"
Eskild bows somewhat awkwardly and hopes that it's low enough so as not to offend.

Glóin smiles under his beard as he says, 'At your service, and your families'! Be welcome, friends, to Nâlagathol. Though,' he says with a glance to Authi, 'I had no idea to expect a company from Rivendell so soon. We just sent for aid this morning. But, come!' He gestures to seats at the high table. 'Sit and eat while we speak! There is much to discuss.'
Bialver nudges Tru, and points to an oven cleverly built into the wall of one of the hearths, just as the door is opened and steaming loaves of bread are drawn out
Trumodir turns her attention to the odor of roasting flesh and suppresses an irritated growl. Why must they spend time in this dark and smelly place?
Trumodir shrugs at Bialver's gesture and tries to focus on the bread although the smell of the meat almost nauseates her

Gilglir climbs to the dais and takes a seat across the table from Glóin. He helps himself to bread and a slice of roast, as well as a mug of dark beer, before he speaks. 'Truth to tell, we passed your bird on our way up into the mountains. We have come on our own errand, but we will give you what aid we can. If the company is willing?' He looks at the others as he says this.
Trumodir nods glumly
Taylarin nods as she takes a drink. 'Of course,' she murmurs. 'Our task is pressing, but we will help as we can.'
Bialver glances at this kinswoman with concern, but nods solemnly at the tall Elf's words
Eskild is practically salivating at the smell and barely able to contain the joy at seeing such a spread. He has no problem with helping himself to a rather sizable portion of food.
Bialver grabs a loaf from a passing tray, and breaks it open. The bread smells of barley and oats as much as wheat. Rough fare after the dainty tables of the elves, but filling. He makes a great show of eating heartily, but confines himself to the bread and the beer, which, to give the Dwarves there due, is quite good.
Trumodir looks at the bread being offered and is pleased to see it made of something substantial; she takes a large helping and begin to soften her opinion of the dwarves. Surely if they eat such humble but tasty fare they can't be completely unworthy of respect.
Minabel loads her plate with slabs of meat.
Greenstand takes only a little of each dish, trying to sample as much as he can. The mountain vegetables in particular look strange to him, but are tasty and nourishing.
Bialver makes a quiet "whew" sound at seeing his cousin's scowl softening, and devotes himself to making sure her mus stays full of beer

Glóin nods as the company speaks. 'That's well, very well indeed,' he says. 'We're eager to be on our way home, but we've a job that Dáin asked us to see to before we return home. We made some good progress at first, but things are so stirred up the last couple of days, that I can't see how we'll have done with it.' He shakes his head as he takes a bite of meat.
Gilglir frowns slightly at the news. 'What do you mean, "stirred up"?'
Trumodir perks up her ears at Gloin's remark, wondering what he has been tasked to do.
Greenstand looks towards Gloin upon hearing the name Dain.
Being well filled with tasty bread, Trumodir finds herself much more interested in the reason for the dwarves' presence here in the Misty Mountains, since this area was not known to be inhabited by dwarves as far as she knew.
Bialver reaches out and places his fist in the very middle of the table, where it bulks large and brown "My arm is at your service, Lord Gloin" he says "if you will have it."
Trumodir turns to Bialver and whispers to him, "Cousin, have dwarves lived here in the past? If so, I haven't heard tell of it."

The old dwarf shakes his head in frustration. 'It's these blasted goblins! I had thought we'd put paid to them after the Battle of Five Armies, but they've been getting bold of late. And the last couple of days, they've been stirred up much more than is usual. One of my scouts caught sight of a whole camp of them miles from their warrens off east. They've even got camps out in the open on the slopes north of here, and that's not a thing I've ever heard tell of before! By Durin's beard, I hope they're not planning to try to cut off the High Pass!'
At the mention of goblins Tru jumps up with a start and says, "where are they? They don't belong here in the mountains! We must rid this fair land of their foul presence!"
Bialver whispers back "These halls were not built in a day. They must have traded here, if naught elds"
Eskild perks up at the mere suggestion of eradicating more goblins. "We should kill 'em off fore they can get any further."

Gilglir exchanges a look with Taylarin, who nods at him. Turning back to Glóin, he says, 'I think, my lord, that our tasks are more closely-knit that we may have thought.' Lowering his voice, he says, 'We come on the trail of one of the Nine. I was at the Council, so I know you know of what I speak. Such a creature could inspire ambition and terror among the forces of the Enemy.'
Minabel shudders, "Oh, please do not speak of those foul things. They give me the creeps. Imagine, undead men, so unnatural. Dressed only in black robes, with no bodies. Nothing to show that they are men and not terrible figments of one's nightmares."
Greenstand enjoys post-meal pipe as he listens to the discussion.

Glóin smiles grimly at the offers of help and the desire to rid the passes of the goblins, but he shudders at the mention of the wraith. 'What, one of those... things here?! The tale young Master Baggins told of them was enough to chill my heart, and you think one of them is nearby? If that's the case, we must find him quickly before he can do more harm!'
Gilglir nods in agreement. 'That we must. But, one matter at a time. Let us deal with the simpler task first. Where is this goblin camp you mentioned?'
Bialver looks at Gil to see what answer he will make to Gloin
Bialver looks at Gloin to see what answer he will make to Gil
Minabel jumps when she hears Gloin say "find him". "I agree with Gilglir, it is far better to clear out the goblins first."
Greenstand puffs his pipe pensively, understanding Gilglir's wisdom, but at the same time wanting to deal with the root of the problem.

Glóin gives another shudder before controlling himself. 'I suppose you're right, master Elf. You'll have to ask Vighar for the specifics of where the camp is. All I know is that it's off to the north and a little east, up near Pinnath Fenui. Vighar can tell you how far and where exactly it is. If you would go and take care of the goblin chieftain, that'd toss them into disarray. While you do that, my scouts will head out and see if they can find this Black Rider's track for you.'
Eskild asks, "Is there any way to make sure they don't come back? We could just wipe out the whole camp."
Trumodir nods vigorously in agreement; the presence of goblins is an insufferable affront, and they do not know for certain that the black wraith is in the area. "It's better to go after our enemies who are at our doorstep than wander around looking for one who may not be near at all", she says.
Bialver says, “Should we not deal with the greater enemy, before he… before it… is aware of us?”
Greenstand speaks up, "Forgive me if I speak out of turn, but why do we not search for the Rider first? Without him in the area, the goblins will be easily pushed back. We could get two birds with a single throw."

Gilglir looks at the others and gives a nod. 'I have more experience hunting the servants of the Enemy, friends. He will not reveal himself unless pressed to the brink, as happened in the Gladdalf. Instead, he will lead from the rear, using his slaves as his weapons. If we remove the threat of the goblins, it will leave him open to us. Indeed, he may even flee if we remove his army.'
Eskild asks, "And do we really have any ideas where this Rider is? Somewhere in the mountains isn't exactly specific."
Glóin nods. 'Also, I agree with your companion there.' He points to Trumodir. 'We don't know where he is yet, or even if he is here. Dealing with the goblins will give us time to search the valleys and the ruins in these peaks. Once we find him, we can plan our attack.'
Bialver shrugs "We will clear away the rats before we deal with the lerger vermin, then"
Greenstand shakes his head in frustration. "I've always preferred taking out the nest before dealing with the stragglers. <sigh> But I suppose that's not an option this time, as Eskild pointed out."

Glóin nods at the discussion. 'Well, if that's settled, let's leave the grim work for tomorrow. There's food and cheer here tonight, and song eventually, too. Make yourselves at home, friends! The Elves here I know, at least by sight, but I've not met any of the rest of you. Tell me of yourselves and of your homes. Tales from afar are always welcome on a cold night.' He settles himself back in his chair and prepares to listen.
Bialver takes a deep breath, determined to tell the story of Trumodir and her mighty, troll-felling blow, even if it puts everyone to sleep
Greenstand offers some of his pipe-weed to any who want it, as he briefly recounts how he first heard the tales of Bilbo Baggins and began desiring his own adventure.


Chapter 35: Scouting the Heights

The sun shines down through high thin clouds as the company makes their way up the snow-covered slopes of the Misty Mountains. Though from a distance, many of the trees seem dead, it becomes apparent that many pines and firs are simply shrouded in thick blankets of snow. Some small birds flit from tree to tree, their high thin songs echoing from the rocks, while the occasional hare or fox in a winter coat crosses their path or sits up to stare at them as they go. In fact, it would be a merry journey, but for what certainly lies at the end.

Gilglir looks back at the others as they make their way up and down the slopes. 'Come, friends!' he calls. 'We've put many miles behind us already, and we should soon reach Vighar's camp. Keep up your hearts!' He turns back to the trail, pacing lightly on top of the packed snow.
As they walk, Minabel takes a swig from her flask. She is not usually one to drink, but with the heavy snows and cold of the Misty Mountain, even she is driven to take a little warmth where she can find it.
Bialver slogs contentedly along, enjoying the snow, wind, and sky, and keeping an eye on Tru and Esk
Taylarin was in the rear as usual, dark grey eyes lifting to watch the group, ensuring none fell behind. A smile graced her lips as she looked up into the mountains and into the skies above them.
Eskild is breathing heavily and shivers even under his wool cloak. He's lagging somewhat near the back and leaving deep gouges in the snow with each step.
Greenstand ploughs through the snow, thankful once again for the tall boots he was given in Rivendell. He puffs contentedly on his pipe, letting the smoke's warmth spread through him.
Minabel trudges along behind the others-aware of a growing headache that is developing as the altitude increases.
Bialver notices Eskild's flagging energy, and drifts back to walk behind him

Perhaps another hour passes as the sun climbs up the sky before them. They crest another small hill and come down into a deep-cloven valley between three peaks. Pines cluster in the valley's bottom, sheltering the ground from the snow. The keen-eyed among them can pick out the glint of a fire under the branches.
Gilglir stops and points. 'That, I believe, is our destination. There we can take our rest for a time and have our noon-meal before we begin the hunt in earnest.' With that, he leads them down the hill towards the trees.
Greenstand picks up his pace slightly, eager for a chance to eat and rest.
Bialver take's the Trestlebridger's arm, and doesn't quite drag him down the hill
Taylarin pauses, setting a hand on Eskild's shoulder as she shares some of her strength with him, filling him with a sense of warmth and a renewed vigor. "We are almost there." She says softly.
Minabel pushes herself to climb the last stretch of mountain before they reach the camp and collapses on the ground.
Eskild forces a weak expression of determination. "Thanks. Can't say I ever seen mountains afore. Not ones this big."

As the company passes under the trees, a gruff voice calls to them. 'Hold! Who goes there? Plainly not orcs, but not dwarves either. State your names and business!'
Bialver makes sure he's within arm's reach of Esk & Tru, but waits for the Elves to speak
Gilglir calls back. 'Is this the camp of Vighar Roadwalker? Lord Glóin bade us seek you out. He said you could aid us in our task. I am called Gilglir, an Elf of Imladris. May we join you at your fire?'
Taylarin was content to let Gilglir do the talking, smiling beneath her hood to the Naugrim.
Minabel looks the two dwarves up and down. She is not sure what to make of these stout men, but her manners require that she acknowledge them. "Pleased to meet you, I am Minabel of Bree" she says as she curtseys before the them.
Eskild sticks close to Bialver and Tru more than content to let the elves do the talking.
Greenstand nods politely at the Dwarves, but lets the group's leader make the introductions.

There is a long pause, followed by a grunt of assent. A black-haired Dwarf steps out from under the shadows of the trees, lowering a bow. 'If you come from Nâlagathol, you're most welcome. I assume you're here to deal with the goblins?' He motions for them to follow him as he walks back towards his campsite.
Bialver trades looks with his kinswoman, and starts slowly forward
A second Dwarf joins them as they step into the trees. He slings a bow over his shoulders and says, 'Larus Sharpshard at your service. You've already met Vighar. You'll forgive the gruff welcome; not many friends out in these parts.'
Taylarin follows the dwarves, though her eyes turn to the hills, her keen eyes searching for signs of the goblins.

The dwarves lead the company to a small campsite, little more than a pair of tents, some supplies, a fire, and a few crude windbreaks. Vighar gestures to logs set around the fire as Larus attends to the coneys roasting over the flames.
Greenstand can feel his mouth watering at the scent of roasting meat. He takes out his pipe-weed to refill his pipe, and then offers some to the Dwarves.
Minabel too looks at the coneys with desire and thinks about the taste of juicy roasted game.
Gilglir settles himself on a log by the fire and stretches out his legs. 'My thanks for the warmth, the food, and the rest,' he says to Vighar.
Bialver attempts to distract his kinswoman from the stench of roasting flesh by pointing out a couple of berry bushes nearby
Bialver says "Look, Cousin! Winter-berries so low down in the mountains. Do you think they will taste as good as they do at home?"

Taylarin clears her throat gently and looks back to the dwarves. "What sort of goblin issues have you been noting? Have any dwarves been seen amongst them? We are in search of one in particular."
Bialver catches Eskild's eye behind Trumodir's back, and motions him towards the fire
Eskild 's eyes widen at the smell of good food. He happily settles in near the fire glad to shake off the cold for a bit.
Trumodir gives Bialver an at-least-you-tried smile, but goes to investigate the berries anyway, happy to be away from the odor of burning flesh
Vighar waves away the compliments before turning to Taylarin. 'Aye, they've been getting bold of late. I was off hunting up north a few days ago, and I saw a whole mess of the smelly beasts camped out on the mountainside, bold as you please! They were so loud, I could hear them chanting 'Gurzmat' over and over. I guess it must be their chief's name.'
Larus chuckles at Vighar. 'I think they were wanting to know where they could find them, cousin.'
'I was getting to that!' Vighar snaps. 'Anyway, if you head back west maybe half a mile, you'll see a narrow valley running up into the mountains to the north. Head up that, and you'll come out on to a higher ridge. There's a small pond there called Caldwell. They've got their camp set up on the ridges above the pond.'
Taylarin nods, her brow furrowing slightly, though chuckled softly at Larus' comment, nodding. "Yes, that would be most helpful."

Minabel looks at the others and wonders whether she really wants to meet the "chief" of the gobins.
Bialver listens thoughtfully, and settles his weapons where he can best reach them during a fight
Taylarin takes a seat next to Gilglir at the fire, nodding gratefully to the pair of dwarves. "Thank you, we shall go there and see what we can do." She looks around to the others as though awaiting their opinions.
Bialver looks at the tall elf and asks "What need those know about goblins, who have not fought them before?"
Greenstand is both a little nervous and a little excited at the idea of facing orcs.

Gilglir nods his thanks to the dwarf as he pulls a barley-cake out of his pack. 'Many of us have already faced their larger cousins, save for you, Master Greenstand. These kind are little different, save that there are usually more of them. However, they are far more cowardly than the larger breeds of Yrch. If a number of them fall, the others will like break and flee. They will certainly do so should we fell their chief. Orcs of all types are not bold without a strong whip-hand at their back.'
Bialver nudges Esk "So kill them while you can!" he whispers
Eskild looks up from staring at the fire. "Is the plan just to run in and kill goblins, or is there some way to keep them from fleeing back into the mountains?"
Bialver winks proudly at Trumodir
Gilglir laughs softly. 'Chasing them back in to the mountains is the best we can hope for, Eskild. If we can kill this Gurzmat, all for the best, but I would be comfortable with driving them back in disorder. His failure would disgrace Gurzmat, should he survive, and few of the other maggot-folk of these mountains would follow him after that. The only thing their kind respect is strength, and the fear it inspires.'
Eskild nods. "Then when do we start?"

Vighar grunts in agreement. 'Aye. There's far too many for the lot of you to handle. There's even too many for the whole of our company to take by ourselves. Otherwise, we'd have handled this already. If you lot go in and make trouble for them, that'll show them that this is more trouble than it's worth. Though it would be best if you could bring back this chief's head.'
Bialver looks meaningfully at Eskild
Taylarin pulls a small parcel of rations out of her pack to nibble on as she thinks. "I am not certain as to the rest of you, but I am ready and willing to leave at any time."
Minabel looks around at the others and sighs. "We just got here, but if you think it is best to leave right away and take the goblins unawares, then I am ready to leave."

Greenstand nods. "If we're to fight these creatures, no sense in putting it off longer than we have to."
Gilglir finishes his cake and looks at the others. 'As am I. Though perhaps some of the others are not?' He glances at Eskild and Minabel, in particular.
Eskild stands up in pure defiance of being seen as the weakest one in the group. "Ready."
Minabel grabs her little flask of wine from her pack. "Let me just get another mouthful down and comb my hair and I am ready to face those ugly little things."
Bialver wraps the last handful of berries Tru has given him in a scap of cloth & tucks it in his pouch, then stands up and rechecks his axe, Kinnhöggva, his dagger Býstokk, and his club, Apaldrskylfa
Taylarin tucks the remainder of her rations back into her pack and nods, rising as well. "The element of surprise will be our best advantage, though I hope not our only one."
Bialver resolves to walk softly and carry a big stick
Gilglir looks each of the company in the eyes. As he does, they feel a curious sensation, as though the rooms and chambers of their mind were being explored. The feeling passes when the Elf's eyes move on to the next person. Finally, Gilglir nods and stands.

Taylarin looked as though she was perfectly used to such sharing of minds and pulled her pack up to her back, looking to Gilglir expectantly. "We shall scout first and formulate a plan." She stated as though it was obvious to everyone.
Eskild visibly recoils from the sudden intrusion not knowing what's going on. Even as the sensation fades, he's noticeably discomforted.
Minabel nibbles at a piece of bread and tries not to think about what she felt in her mind as Giglir probed it.
Greenstand frowns slightly, unused to such intrusions. As Gilglir's gaze passes, however, he nods and feels relieved that whatever the Elf was doing, he seemed satisfied.
Gilglir bows to Vighar and Larus. 'Thank you, friends, for your company and your counsel. I know not if we will see you again, but if you come back to Nâlagathol, I would be glad to spend time sharing tales.' With that, he turns and walks back towards the west, trusting the others to follow.
Taylarin motions for the others to go, waiting to take up the rear like usual. She dips her head gratefully to the dwarves, murmuring her thanks before she follows.
Bialver waits for Tru to finish speaking to Esk, then follows after them
Greenstand says farewell and follows the others, though not without a little regret at not having time to ask the Dwarves of more tales.
Minabel turns and gives one final curtsey to the dwarves before following the others
Eskild follows along touching one hand to his sword hilt in anticipation of the coming fight.

As Vighar said, the company soon comes upon a valley climbing steeply up into the northern hills. They turn and follow the narrow scar up until the way opens up into a highland snowfield.
Gilglir pauses as he comes to the end of the valley. He steps into a small stand of trees near the southern cliffs and looks out over the field to the east.
Taylarin climbs the rest of the way up, pausing along the cliffs to look over the valley in search of the pond and the goblins.
Greenstand initially tries to help look for signs of goblins, but his eyes keep getting pulled to the occasional statue or ruin dotting the landscape. "Was all of this land claimed by the Dwarves?" he asks.
Taylarin's eyes narrow thoughtfully as she spies the goblin camp, counting campfires and noting the amount of movement on the hill. "That is a larger camp than I anticipated." She murmured to anyone who might be listening.
Greenstand notices a massive bridge in the far distance and stares at it, transfixed.

Gilglir nods in agreement with Taylarin as he looks over the camps on the hillside. 'We will need to take our time and scout carefully. There must be a way we can either distract the guards, scare them away, or sneak in.'
Minabel sits down on the packed snow and rubs her feet as she watches what the others are doing.
Gilglir stands at the edge of the trees and looks out at the goblin camp. His gaze passes from the tents and palisades on the hillside to the open ground between their hiding place and the camp. He sighs and shakes his head.
Taylarin was perched higher up on the mountain for a better vantage point of the goblin's camp on the hillside, dark grey eyes in search of the one called Gurzmat. She heard Gilglir's sigh echo up the mountain slope and glanced down, saying softly but knowing he would hear. <S> "It is not hopeless, merely difficult."
Trumodir slumps down on the snow, tired of waiting for something to happen. The feel of the cold fresh snow invigorates her and she looks up at Gilglir hopefully.

Gilglir smiles slightly at Taylarin's words. He crosses his arms and looks up at the sky. 'If we are going to scout, it is best we do so while the Sun shines. The Orcs will be asleep for the most part, and those few who are astir will be sluggish and hiding from her gaze. Would that these clouds would break....'
Eskild climbs just past the camp in hopes of a better vantage, though his eyesight is by no means as good as an elf's. Still, there might be some tactical advantage hidden in the landscape that ends in more goblin deaths.
Trumodir sighs deeply and wonders how much longer the wait will be. Her axe is thirsty for goblin blood!
Gilglir glances back up at the canopy of clouds, and the bright spot which shows where the Sun walks above the mountains. He shrugs slightly. <S>'It is worth the attempt, at the least.' He begins to Sing softly, watching the clouds.

For a time, nothing seems to happen. But then, a wind begins to blow from the West, soft at first, but soon rising. As it does, blue rents are torn in the grey canopy above them as the clouds roll into the East. Soon, the Sun shines down dazzlingly bright upon the snow. The Elf's song ceases, and he smiles broadly.
Eskild shields his eyes against the bright sun blinking several times after being nearly blinded by the snow.
Trumodir leans back in the snow, closes her eyes and revels in the sun shining on her face. Sun and snow – What a perfect combination!
Taylarin nods at Gilglir's words, continuing her vigil over the camp. A smile tugs at her lips as the skies brighten, turning to look down towards Gilglir before sliding easily and silently down the slope to rejoin the others.
Gilglir looks out over the camp, the pool, and the surrounding mountain-slopes, seeking any advantages in the bright light of day.

Gilglir points to the frozen surface of the pool and the lower slopes of the camp. 'Look,' he says softly.
Taylarin looks around as Gilglir does, looking to the place where he points in search of what he sees.
Gilglir points out the wargs to the others. 'Gurth an nGaurhoth!' he mutters. 'We cannot hope to pass that way unimpeded, much less unseen.'
Eskild returns to the camp to rejoin the others. "Then we must kill them before we can reach the goblins. Bait them with poisoned meat so it doesn't alert their masters?"
Trumodir sits up, alerted by the movements of the others, who seem to be trying to make out the number of wargs at the frozen pond nearby. She, of course, knew that they were there in great numbers – she could smell them, a foul smell, but as the company didn't seem to be in any hurry to move she had said nothing.

Gilglir shakes his head at Eskild's suggestion. 'Have you any meat ready to hand?' he asks. 'Or any poison? We have no time to prepare such a trap, and even if we did, I would not consign even such foul beasts as the Gaurhoth to a slow death by poison. No, we must needs find another way.'
Taylarin frowns as she follows Gilglir's gaze, murmuring. "We may need a rather large diversion..."
Eskild falls silent in thought. Strange to think of elves being caught unprepared or even surprised when they seemed to see all and know all. "They seem too spread out to lure them away together. But picking them off one by one hardly seems effective."
Taylarin looks around again with a thoughtful look. "What about an avalanche? Or another way to draw the wargs and some of the goblins? I'm sure we could create a scene that would suffice."
Trumodir casts about in her memory, wondering what type of diversion might be effective in this instance, but nothing comes to mind. Her experiences fall mostly either to direct attack of an enemy, or finding a way around them so as not to be detected.

Trumodir starts suddenly; an idea has presented itself! "Gilglir, I can smell wood smoke - lots of it. The goblins must have large fires burning. Could we use fire somehow?
Eskild perks up feeling inspired by the suggestions. "Possibly a large fire to draw them closer together and then an avalanche to bury the whole camp?"
Gilglir looks up at the heights of the mountains above the camp, which are unhelpfully bare of snow. 'I fear that an avalanche will not work,' he says. 'While fire may prove a defence for us, it would not help us in drawing in the wolves. If anything, it would drive them away.'
Trumodir lets another deep sigh escape and slumps back down in the snow. At least they are in the snow....
Taylarin looks around. "What if I ran past to draw the wargs away? I can lead them away while the rest of you head into the camp."

Gilglir glances up at the pine tree rising above them. He lays aside his shield and sword, and leaps lightly up into the lower boughs of the tree. He swiftly climbs to the top, barely dislodging any snow as he goes. Wrapping one arm around the thin trunk, he leans out, shading his eyes with the other hand.
Trumodir opens one eye and looks up into the tree that Gilglir is in. She can only see a large shape high up, but she watches him in mild interest, wondering at his ability to keep his balance without holding on
After a time, the Elf leaps back down to the ground, landing with nary a sound on the light powder beneath the trees. 'I may have found a way in to the heart of the camp,' he says. 'Come, let me show you.' He leads those who would come up the slope to the south of their hiding spot.
Taylarin muses softly. "Perhaps if we had a large reflective surface, we could...." She pauses as Gilglir jumps down, nodding to him and following.
Eskild brushes snow off his clothes and follows the elf.
Trumodir jumps up from her reverie and follows after the elves, glad that some action is finally being taken.

Gilglir climbs as high as possible on the slope and points over to the far side of the camp. 'A path climbs up to the High Pass from the far side of the pond,' he says, 'but it seems that the far side of the camp comes right up to the edge of those cliffs. I would have to look closely to be sure, but I may be able to climb that cliff, should it be no worse than this one above us, and then let down a rope so that the rest of you could follow. That way, we could strike quickly at the heart of their camp, cause a diversion, and be away before they knew what was happening.'
The cliff above the company climbs nearly straight up for perhaps fifty feet, with few handholds or cracks to be seen.
Trumodir mutters to herself. Being hauled up a cliff on a rope is not something she has any desire to experience.
Eskild stares straight up at the cliff wondering how anyone could climb it, elf or no. "What kind of diversion did you have in mind? And is there any way to keep the goblins from getting out of their caves?"

Taylarin studies the cliff face, then looks over to the camp, then back to the cliff face as though gauging distances. She nods with a thoughtful look, glancing at Eskild as he voices the same question she was about to ask.
Gilglir smiles slightly. 'I am old friends with these mountains,' he says simply. 'I would not worry about the orcs swarming from their holes, if they have even burrowed so far yet. And as for the distraction, leave that to me.'
Trumodir burst out, "And what if it takes so long for us to get up the cliff that the goblins detect us? What if one of us is still only halfway up and the one who is pulling is attacked at the top of the cliff?"
Taylarin winces a little at Tru's volume, hearing her voice echoing off the mountains. "I will shoot the goblins, should that happen." She murmurs matter of factly.
Gilglir glances at Trumodir. 'I intend to tie the rope off ere I begin hauling anyone up,' he says simply. 'But, come. I would hear how you would deal with this problem without bringing a horde of orcs and wolves down on our heads.'
Trumodir isn't satisfied with Tay's response but doesn't want the others to see her fear, so she says no more.

Eskild says, "Can elf magic command a bunch of bears to rampage the camp?" It's a stretch, and considering the elf's reluctance to poison evil wolves unlikely to be taken well, but it's worth a shot all the same.
Taylarin murmurs softly. "it isn't magic..."
Gilglir smiles at Eskild's suggestion, but shakes his head. 'I could ask, but I could do no more than that,' he says. 'Beasts in general are rather wilful, and bears more so than most. Besides, I'd not want to risk hurting them for a fight not their own.'
Taylarin asks simply. "What about cracking the ice of the pond to swallow the wargs?"
Trumodir perks up at this statement. "Do you know where bears gather in this region? I could persuade them to help us – they hate goblins as much as any of us do"
Eskild dismisses several other ideas of dealing with the goblins as being even less probably. Shooting big rocks out of the sky, giant whirlwinds, summoning a dragon to breathe fire on the camp, or maybe even impersonating a goblin chief and getting them to all fight each other. It's almost more fun imagining the impossible than coming up with any 'real' solutions.

Eskild nods solemnly. He didn't really have high hopes, but just the idea of a horde of bears descending Gilglir pauses for a moment and thinks about Taylarin's suggestion. 'That could possibly work, though I have little skill in speaking to water. Perhaps you could attempt it?' Turning to Trumodir, he says, 'I do not know where the bears gather in these parts. I know they frequent the forests near the source of the Bruinen, but that is some hours to the west.'
Taylarin smiles beneath her hood, and nods. "I have some skill with water, yes." She says softly. "I will do it."


Chapter 36: Blood on the Snow

Bialver sniffs the air and frowns
Trumodir glances at Esk, wondering if he might be timid seeing the sight of goblin blood after his close call in the Lone Lands. He has a troubled look in his eye, but he catches her look and says "I ain't afeerd of no goblins! Not surrounded by you all anyways."
No one seems to be stirring within the palisade, and there does not seem to be a guard on the gate. Looking down into the main camp, however, there are several goblin watchers looking out at the edges of the cliffs. Judging from the number of fires and tents, there is perhaps three score goblins in camp. Maybe more, maybe less.
Trumodir is strongly affected by the strong smell of goblins—there must be a lot of them! – and asks Gilglir, "what is your plan, sir, now that we are so near and outnumbered?"
Taylarin frowns at the sight of the black blood, studying it for a moment before looking around the rest of the goblin camp with a thoughtful look.

Gilglir scowls at the stench of orc-filth in the air as he says to Trumodir, 'The same as before: find their chief and kill him or drive him off. If we kill him, we bring his head, both as proof to Glóin of the deed and to strike fear into the hearts of his followers. I imagine he is in there.' He points to the palisade.
Trumodir responds, "Do we all rush the opening at once, or gain entrance by some other means? And once we're inside, we'll need to stay close or we'll be overwhelmed."
Bialver says to the youth from Trestlebridge ''we will pile of their skulls at the gate of their own fortress''
Taylarin frowns as she glances to the palisade before looking around the camp again. "It is not killing him that will be so difficult, it will be getting out of here after that will be more difficult."
Greenstand looks more excited than he should, bouncing a little on his heels as he comments. "Think of the story this will make!"
Gilglir smiles grimly. 'I'd not worry overmuch, friends. I have come through worse odds than this and still survived.'

Minabel looks around and wishes yet again that she can be at home in her warm bed. Too many goblins. She prepares herself mentally to face the goblin leader.
Taylarin looks over to the others, then to Gilglir. "I suppose we should make our way toward the palisade then. Do we have an approach in mind, perhaps some of us could slip around the back to prevent any means of escape?"
Bialver loosens his ax and makes sure he can reach his arrows, then goes to stand behind Eskild
Minabel pipes in. Perhaps I can climb that cliff and shoot any goblins that run that way.
Esk squares his shoulders, feeling much more confident with Bialver's great bulk next to him
Gilglir loosens Anglaer in its sheath and hefts Narbor in his right hand. The spear's bitter head gleams with a cold blue light as the Elf walks stealthily towards the gate. He pauses at the edge of the gate and carefully looks around it inside the palisade. After a moment, he looks back to Taylarin.

Taylarin strings her bow with elven grace and speed, putting arrow to string as she looks to Gilglir, giving him a faint nod at some silent instruction. She turns and looks to the others, bringing a finger to her lips in a shushing motion, beckoning the others to follow her. "Silent steps, the orcs are asleep." She begins to make her way up towards the gate.
Taylarin whispers to the others. "We can get into position while they slumber, strike fast, and remove Gurzmat's support."
Minabel silently trails the others in the group and looks around to ensure that no goblins sneak up on them.
Trumodir holds back, trying to separate out the individual stench of each goblin so she can attack accurately.
Bialver whispers to Esk "let them die by the dozens"
Greenstand crept up quietly with the others, his excitement turning to nerves as they reached the gate. "I sure could use a pipe right about now…"

As the others come up to the entrance of the palisade, any of them who glance around the corner would see several goblins asleep on the ground, clustered to the left around a fire, which has burned down to embers. To the right, there is a large tent (almost a pavilion) flanked by two other tents of good size. Another fire-pit has mostly burnt down to embers.
Trumodir is standing behind the others since she isn't relying on her sight to orient herself. She runs her fingers down the blade of her axe, almost unconsciously, as her thirst for goblin blood builds
Taylarin reaches the gate, looking around inside at the low fires and sleeping goblins. Whispers so lowly she is hardly audible. "What we could do with a little black powder right now..."
Bialver moves Esk over until they stand shoulder to shoulder with Tru
Trumodir turns to the two, her eyes glittering with a fierce fire."Ready?" she asks.
Minabel moves further back and watches the others to see what are their plans for attack.
Bialver nudges Esk and murmurs "dozens..."
Esk nods back, his face a mixture of excitement and terror.

Gilglir glances to the others, and whispers, 'Ready your bows. Trumodir, Greenstand, prepare to charge once the goblins wake.'
Taylarin nods, finding a place with a good vantage point from where she could shoot. She hoists her bow and takes aim, ready.
Trumodir is completely still, trying not to breathe too loudly.
Greenstand pales a little at the thought of charging in, though when he looks to Tru, is bolstered by her courage.
Minabel tries to steady her shooting arm as her gaze moves from the others in the group to the goblins ahead.
Bialver grips his ax, and checks to make sure he won't hit any of the fellowship when he swings
Gilglir hefts Narbor in his hand, draws back his arm, and launches the spear at one of the sleeping goblins.
Minabel suddenly Minabel feels a burst of courage and she takes aim at a particularly hideous looking goblin sleeping on the ground. She pulls back her bow and lets her arrow fly directly at his head.
Trumodir murmurs something to an arrow and nocks it in her bow. Taking aim directly at the goblin with the greatest stench she lets out an awful yell and lets the bow fly.
Taylarin let out a focused breath, taking aim at one of the larger goblins nearby. She loosed her own arrow, reaching for another as soon as the first left the string.
Bialver lets 3 arrows fly in quick succession

In the space of a breath, a flurry of missiles drive through the heads and chests of five of the sleeping goblins. However, the twang of bow-strings and Trumodir's yell rouse the others. The surviving goblins spring to their feet, blearily grabbing at their weapons, while two larger goblins burst out of one of the tents and a final goblin, almost man-high lunges out of the pavilion. The largest goblin catches sight of the slaughter and the intruders and gives a shrill yell in Orkish, followed by another shout. 'Stupid nargs not watch! Why keep around?! Get out and kill! Got tarks and... ILIDS!' The goblin's cry ends in a shriek, half of terror and half of anger.

Taylarin nocked another arrow with elven speed, lifting her bow to take aim at the large goblin that came out of the pavilion, releasing her shot in the hopes of silencing their foe before more goblins came pouring in.
Gilglir rushes forward as the spear leaves his hand, Anglaer flashing blue and cold from the sheath. As he rushes towards the two larger orcs, he shouts 'Gurth an Glamhoth!' as he swings the elven steel at the nearest foe.
The orc-chieftain quickly lifts his shield and catches the arrow, while his lieutenant rolls aside into the snow, snarling something in Orkish as Gilglir's stroke goes wide.
As the fight begins, a hue and cry breaks out in the camp below them, and four more goblins rush up the path towards the company. At the same time, two squat and broad shapes burst out of the other tent: black-haired Dwarves in close-fitting mail, wielding hammers! They give a shout in Dwarvish as they leap into the fray.
Greenstand runs over to the nearest fire pit, thrusts in his staff, and aims to fling one of the larger embers at the nearest dwarf.

As the burning ember flies at the dwarf, he knocks it away with his mallet, patting out some stray embers that land in his beard. He says something plainly mocking in Dwarvish, and spits towards Greenstand. He advances towards the man while his fellow aims a blow at the Elf. Meanwhile, the goblin lieutenants charge as well, one at the Elf and the other towards the main group.
As two of their foes strike out at Gilglir, the Elf parries the slash from the orc's scimitar while he takes the strike from the dwarf's hammer on his shield. The Elf takes a step back as he falls into a defensive posture. Meanwhile, the Dwarf Greenstand attacked rushes towards him, swinging his hammer. Though the blow strikes home, it only knocks the wind out of the Man. The blow almost knocks Greenstand's pipe right out of his mouth, but he manages to bite down on the stem just in time.
The goblin attacking the Beorning, however, gets a lucky stroke which cuts through the leather armour and bites into the man's side. Bialver roars in pain and staggers backward, almost losing his balance. But his great bulk works in his favor and he catches his balance and lunges forward at the goblin, who is much smaller than he. He lifts his axe to strike although his wound prevents him from being well-focused.

Gurzmat takes a quick look around the battlefield before rushing towards the main group, plainly scared by the tall Elf with shining eyes and bright sword. The other Elf, though, she'd tried to get him. He raises his swords and swipes at her, screaming something in Orkish.
Bialver's axe strikes down, but it glances off the dark steel mail the goblin is clad in. Gurzmat, however, slips inside Taylarin's guard and strikes a blow on her.
Taylarin slung her bow over her shoulder in one swift and graceful movement, drawing her sword and dagger as Gurzmat charged. The Orc reached her faster than anticipated and while she tried to dodge, his dagger sliced through her coat and into her flesh, eliciting a short gasp. She responds with a swipe of her dagger towards Gurzmat's ugly face.
Minabel finds a tall mound to climb up. She takes aim at Gurzmat, takes a deep breath and lets her arrow fly.
Eskild bellows a young man's version of a war cry and swipes his sword towards the dwarf that is charging toward them.
Once again, the orc-chieftain catches an arrow in his shield. As Gurzmat turns from Taylarin and leaps toward Minabel, the dwarf parries Eskild's blow with the haft of his axe.
As Gurzmat leaps up after Minabel, he swipes towards her. Luckily, her foot slips and she tumbles down the far side of her perch, away from his sword-blow.

Trumodir becomes enraged as she sees what Gurzmat has done to her kinsman and to Esk, and letting out a huge roar she lunges with all her force at him
The other goblins leap into action, giving shrill cries in their own ugly tongue. Several of them loose arrows while others charge forward brandishing spears. However, all their blows go wild in the chaos of the melee.
Gurzmat leaps away from the Beorning's axe, seemingly almost as scared of them as of the Elves.
Taylarin slips her dagger back into its sheath, pressing her palm over the wound in her side, responding with a step forward, swiping her elven sword at Gurzmat, the steel practically singing as it cut through the air towards the goblin.
Gilglir strikes back towards the orc nearest him while keeping his shield facing the Dwarf. As he attacks, he says something in Dwarvish which makes both Dwarves laugh in derision.
For once, the orc-chieftain is not able to avoid a strike, as Gwaelind cleaves easily through his mail and bites into his side, blood staining the snow black. His lieutenant, though, is able to avoid the blow from Gilglir, who seems somewhat preoccupied with fighting on two fronts.
Gurzmat shrieks in pain as the cut burns with cold fire, and he aims a wild stroke at the elf-woman.
The Orc's stroke goes wide as he clutches his side in pain.

Greenstand, incensed both at being unable to understand the Dwarf's curse and at almost losing his pipe, swings his staff back and aims to jab it right in the Dwarf's face. "How DARE you hurl insults we don't know the meanings of!"
The Dwarf scoffs at him and easily avoids the blow from the staff.
Gilglir's enemies strike back at him again, but he once again parries or avoids the blows. Meanwhile, Greenstand kicks some snow in the face of the dwarf attacking him, whose stroke goes wide as he curses again. The other goblin lieutenant swings at Eskild, but the young man parries the blow.
Enraged, Gurzmat swings again at the elf-woman, eager to bring her down.
Bialver staggers forward, hardly looking where he is going, clutching his side. The pain of his wound is filling his whole mind and he's barely aware of his surroundings. He aims vaguely at a nearby goblin—a small one—and lifts his axe.
Gurzmat's sword bites again, this time scoring a gash along Taylarin's leg. Meanwhile, Bialver's strike goes wide, missing his target completely.

Eskild, nearly stumbles back as his strike was blocked, but swings his blade around with growing anger, seeing blood on the armour of his friends. He swipes at the dwarf, trying to land a blow.
Minabel sighs as she notches another arrow in her bow. She says a little prayer to whomever out there who is listening and lets an arrow fly to the arrogant dwarf taunting the group.
Mina's arrow skips off the head of the dwarf's mallet, which makes him start back, avoiding Eskild's blow.
The goblins once again attack wildly, their strikes going wide.
Trumodir grows cold with fury in the intensity of the battle. She pulls all her focus inward and considers what might be an unexpected move that would reverse the tide of battle. She sees that the goblins are losing concentration (if they ever had any) and decides to run behind them while their attention is focused on the others, and see if she can attack from behind. Seeing an opening to get behind their enemies, she hurries around, and taking out her bow, fits an arrow into place and takes careful aim.
The arrow flies true and sinks into the eye of the goblin lieutenant facing Eskild. He falls with a thud to the ground, black blood staining the snow.

Gilglir turns his shield to the Dwarf and lunges out with his sword at the goblin, a cold light glinting from Anglaer's edge as it carves through the air.
Trumodir takes a deep breath and looks around for her companions to see who might be in distress
Bialver bleeds heroically, demonstrating for Eskild how it's done

Taylarin, in order to avoid gaining a third injury, leaps up into the air to avoid Gurzmat's blow, landing some distance behind their foe with a soft grunt, now seeing Gilglir in the midst of battle. Swiftly nocking an arrow, she lifts her bow and takes aim at the goblin he is in the midst of fighting, releasing with a twang of the bowstring.
The goblin lieutenant gives a harsh laugh as he raises his sword to parry Gilglir's strike. However, the Elf strikes too quickly for the orc, and the sword-arm is suddenly lying on the ground, black blood pouring from the stump. As the orc opens his mouth to cry in pain and surprise, Gilglir almost casually steps aside. Taylarin's arrow speeds past his face, the wind of its passage stirring his hair before it buries itself in the goblin's eye. The lieutenant falls to the ground in a heap.
Bialver murmurs to Tru "Elves. Good with Pointy Things"
Trumodir nods in agreement.

Greenstand swings his staff low at the dwarf, hoping to knock him off balance. "I'll give you an insult I'm sure you'll understand!"
The dwarf laughs and takes a step back, easily avoiding the blow. He spits towards Greenstand and advances again.
As the dwarf advances on Greenstand, he swings his hammer, but the Man jumps out of the way, using his staff to keep from slipping in the snow. At the same time, the other Dwarf swings his hammer at Gilglir's legs. The blow connects, knocking the distracted Elf to the ground.
Gurzmat see both of his underlings go down in the space of a few moments, and curses loudly in Orkish, yelling at his forces. He rushes at Trumodir, clearly still a little hesitant to face the Elves while there are other foes.

Bialver swings Apaldrsklubba with a silent prayer to the spirit of the tree that gave one of its broadest branches, aiming at the foul Chieftan's knee
As Gurzmat rushes screaming towards Trumodir, Bialver's club connects with a wet crack, knocking the goblin chieftain to the ground and sending him rolling a few feet into a snowdrift. He staggers back to his feet, clearly favouring one leg.
Minabel takes aim at the closest goblin holding a sword to her. She squints her eyes to focus on his big ugly head and lets loose one of her lucky arrows- the ones made with Dunland crebain feathers.
Eskild lifted his sword and swung it at a goblin that was approaching quickly, his own club raised as he moved into attack the lad.
Eskild's sword is blocked by the goblin's own blade, while Mina's arrow skips off of the armour of her target. That goblin seems a little shaken, however, especially now that the bosses have started to fall.
Trumodir sees her chance to exploit the opening she has to fell the goblin that Mina had aimed for. Lifting her axe high, she rushes toward him with a blood-curdling yell on her lips.
The goblin archers shoot wide, but the swordsmen rush in and strike blows: one on Bialver, one on Minabel, and two on Trumodir.
Trumodir crumples to the ground, breathing heavily. ‘I knew I should have used my bow,’ she murmurs

Gilglir rolls out of the way of a blow from the Dwarf's hammer and leaps to his feet. He advances on his foe, shield at the ready as he strikes out, shouting something in Dwarvish.
Taylarin frowns worriedly as she sees Gilglir go down and nocks another swift arrow, taking aim at the dwarf, firing.
The Dwarf seems shocked to hear words in his secret tongue come from his enemy. His surprise is short-lived, however, as an arrow pierces through his armour and buries itself in his back. At almost the same time, Anglaer comes down on his helm, cleaving it apart with a flash of white light. The Dwarf falls with sundered head.
At the shout in Dwarvish and the flash of light, the goblins glance over at Gilglir and the Dwarf. As the Dwarf falls, the Elves turn towards the goblins, a cold light starting from their eyes. At that sight, the goblin archers and swordsmen shriek and flee down into the main camp as Gurzmat yells after them.
Greenstand tenses and swings his staff with both hands at the side of the dwarf's head.
The staff smacks against the dwarf's head with a resounding CRACK, but the helmet seems to take most of the blow. The Dwarf staggers back, shaking his head. Greenstand says, "Talk about ringing the bells of Dale…"

As the dwarf catches his bearings again, he sees the corpse of his comrade bleeding on the ground with the Elf standing over it. He gives a hoarse shout in his own tongue and charges towards Gilglir, swinging his hammer wildly.
Gilglir sees the charge and braces himself, taking the blow squarely on his shield.
Bialver staggers, and falls to his knees, his expression half dazed and half determined
Bialver pulls his dagger Býstokkr out of his belt, trying to hamstring the foul Chieftain as he lunges
Gurzmat screams again after the retreating goblins before lunging towards Bialver
As Gurzmat lunges towards Bialver, screaming what is obviously bloody murder in Orkish, Bialver drops to one knee and slashes at the orc's hip. The dagger bites deep, and a gout of black blood rushes out, staining the snow. Gurzmat gasps in pain and surprise as his face goes white and his leg flops uselessly out from under him. He drops the sword and falls to the ground. As he lies there, he says weakly, 'You think you win, but Nargs and big boss....' He trails off as the breath leaves his body.

Trumodir looks up at Bialver from where she's lying and gives him a big smile. {V} A heroic deed, my cousin" she gasps.
Eskild might have missed his last swing, but he was not daunted! He swung again, this time with a war cry of substance. He was too busy with the last remaining dwarf to realize Gurzmat had fallen.
Minabel frowns as she beholds the pompous dwarf taunting the group in Dwarvish. She yells "fool, take this" as she lets another lucky arrow fly at his mocking mouth.
Bialver can't quite stand, but he walks on his knees to where his cousin lies in the snow, takes the last few berries from his pouch
Bialver grins through the black blood that lies thick on his face, before using a handful of snow to scrub it halfway off
Eskild's sword cuts deep into the Dwarf's side, but he does not fall yet. He grunts in pain and looks over at the young Man.
Bialver packs three great wads of snow, and hands two to his kinswoman to press to her wounds.

Gilglir smiles as Eskild's blow strikes home. He says something to his foe in Khuzdul before swiping at him with his sword.
Taylarin smiles slightly as Eskild's sword strikes true and nocks an arrow, drawing back and releasing, though careful not to hit her companions also battling the last dwarf.
Bialver nudges Tru, and cheers Esk on, then does a full face-plant into the snow and laughs somewhat deliriously
The Dwarf has no chance to make a reply, however, as an Elven arrow punches through his armour and Valinorean steel removes his head from his shoulders. The body collapses to the ground, and all is silent, except for shouts and the sound of running feet in the lower camp.
Gilglir looks around at the camp as the dwarf's head rolls to a halt in a snowbank. He wipes his sword off on the dwarf's jerkin before ducking into the tents. The sounds of rummaging come to the others.

Trumodir calls out, "Let's get out of here before the rest of the camp gets their nerve back and comes after us!"
Greenstand mutters about incomprehensible dwarven curses and looks around, noticing his comrades have offed all the remaining enemies. "Is everyone ok?"
Minabel staggers to her feet and looks over her dress to see the blotches of red where the goblins' weapons found their mark. All of the sudden, a feeling of faintness comes upon her and she grips the branch of a tree near her to steady herself.
Taylarin let out a long breath as their foe's head rolled over the snow, looking around to the others. "Is anyone hurt? I am a healer." She didn't seem to pay her own injuries much mind, more concerned about the others.
Bialver buries his head in the snow one more time, then rolls over and somehow gets to his knees, then eventually, to his feet

Gilglir comes out of the dwarves' tent, tucking some pieces of paper into his pouch. 'Indeed, we should haste away,' he says. 'But I am worried about the rest of the camp. Though they are routed now, there is naught to stop them coming after us once we leave.'
Eskild crouches by Tru and Bial, wondering what he can do for them. He waves Taylarin over
Greenstand looks at the snow surrounding them. "It'll be tough not to leave tracks, unless we go so slow that they could just follow us by sight, anyway."
Taylarin nods to Eskild and heads towards him and the others, looking each other to assess the most injured.
Minabel looks down at her feet and even though her toes are frozen, is suddenly thankful that as a hunter, she made a point to wear silent slippers on her feet rather than the usual boots.
Gilglir walks over to Gurzmat and looks down at the body for a moment. Suddenly, he draws his sword and cuts the head off of the body with a quick strike. He cleans the blade and put it back up, saying, 'We should bring it with us when we go.' He looks at the wounded members of the company thoughtfully.

Trumodir points to Bialver and gasps "tend to him first—he deserves it"
Having began to regain her senses, Minabel cautiously fills her water bag with clean snow, with the plan to start a fire as soon as it is safe to do so and make herbal healing tea.
Taylarin looks from Tru to Bialver, kneeling between them. She places her gloved hands on them both, one hand on each as her eyes nearly shut, a whispered song passing her lips. They would feel warmth flowing through them, their pain ebbing as their skin slowly begins to knit back together.
Gilglir shakes his head at Mina's actions. 'We have no time for that,' he says urgently. As he does so, the shouts down below get louder, and there comes the noise of howling wolves.
Greenstand lights his pipe and offers his pouch to any others who need it as he studies the camp below. "Do we have any way of getting a message to the dwarves?"
Bialver closes his eyes briefly, concentrating on the healing warmth as it flows through him

Gilglir walks over to Mina and looks down at her. He holds out his hand towards her. 'If I may?' he asks.
Minabel takes Gilglir's hand. "Thank you," she says. "What now? There are more of those monsters down below and we are so few up here.”
Eskild watches in awe as his friends' color goes from a disturbing pallor to (almost) their usual flush of health. He turns to Tay ''Is that… is that something I could learn?'' he whispers
As Mina lays her hand in his, Gilglir begins to sing, softly but full of power. At his touch, Mina would feel a rush of warmth shoot through her like fire as the edges of her wound begin to close. It is not a gentle feeling, and the wound burns like ice as it closes.
Taylarin her eyes open a little at the clamour and wolves below, though her healing doesn't cease just yet. Her song continues, their bodies healing just enough to carry them through to safety. "Can you manage until we are someplace safer?" She asks gently, looking wearily between Tru and Bialver.
Although the pain of her healing almost brings on another attack of faintness, Minabel gratefully thanks Gilglir for his kindness and begins to see how reliance on each other may get the group through this quest.
Taylarin glances at Eskild and shakes her head. "I have shared my fëa with them… my own spirit. That is not something you can do, I'm afraid."
Bialver opens his eyes at Taylarin's words. He meets her gaze and nods, albeit without any enthusiasm

Greenstand looks around for some way to further scatter the troops below. "If we run, we will be overtaken. If we stay, we will be overwhelmed. There must be some way to put off pursuit for a while."
Eskild sighs, thinking that of the races he's meeting, Men seem to have gotten the short end of the stick.
Gilglir sways a little as he falls silent, but he walks over and places a hand on Taylarin's shoulder. He glances at the others as he does so before nodding in agreement with Greenstand. 'There may be something we can do,' he says softly, 'though I am loathe to do it, for it will reveal us to those who have eyes to see. Or it will reveal some of us, at least.'
Taylarin seems to draw some measure of strength from Gilglir's touch, turning to look up at him with a slight frown.
Greenstand asks, "Could we pile some of the tent remains in front of the entrance, and set the whole thing on fire? It could keep them busy long enough for us to escape without them noticing."
Trumodir looks up gratefully at Esk as she swallows it carefully. She has been significantly weakened in the fight and all her focus is on trying to keep from passing out
Bialver raps Esk's arm and gestures at his own pouch "Honeycomb" he whispers "green cloth"

Gilglir ignores Greenstand's question for a moment as he holds Taylarin's gaze. He sighs and nods before looking at the others. 'We have not the time to gather them and light them,' he says in response to the man. 'Come, back down the rope and away. Taylarin and I will stop the pursuit, but we must move quickly and be away from here ere the orcs gather their courage.'
Taylarin nods and climbs to her feet.
Bialver asks the elves "Who should go first, to catch any after who might fall?"
Greenstand frowns around his pipe, but agrees to the plan. "Eskild and I are unwounded, and can best watch for any dangers at the bottom."
Gilglir looks at Taylarin in response to Bialver's question. 'Should you go first, or should I?' He nods at Greenstand and Eskild. 'Indeed, the two of you should go first, but one of us should join you.'
Taylarin knits her brows beneath her hood and murmurs. "Perhaps you are better suited to hand any foes, though I am willing to go if you think it wiser."

Gilglir nods at Taylarin and turns to go. He picks up the head of Gurzmat and carries it in his left hand as he walks to the edge of the cliff. Throwing the head down, he looks back at the others. 'Come as quick as you may,' he says. 'Loop the rope about your waist and use your weight to slow your fall, if you have not used such ladders before.' With that, he leaps off the cliff, grabbing at the rope with his free hand to slow his fall.
Anyone who looks down from the cliff would see the Elf standing calmly at the foot of the cliff, shifting his gaze between the top of the cliff and the path down the hill.
Eskild swallows, and follows Gil's instructions about the rope
Taylarin looks at the others and ushers them towards the rope. "Who is next?" She asks softly.
Bialver stands up slowly
Greenstand waits for Eskild to lower himself and follows suit. He's not as nimble as the elf, but he manages to make it down without incident.
Trumodir is eager to put as much distance as she can between her and the remaining goblins, and she almost eagerly takes hold of the rope and swings over the side. All fear of hanging from a rope has left her.
Minabel hesitates, then adjusts her black gloves and grips the rope firmly. She eases her way down and sighs in relief as she finally feels the bottom.
Bialver grins at the sight of his kinswoman's nimbleness, and lets himself down next, wincing all the way
Taylarin waits for everyone else to descend, keeping watch at the top before sliding easily down the rope to join the others at the bottom.

When Trumodir reaches the bottom, Esk retrieves the even more squashed-looking package from inside his shirt, and offers it uncertainly to Tru. "I was supposed" he says
Trumodir smiles at Esk, so young yet so valiant, and takes the package from him, glancing at Bialver as she does.
Gilglir reaches over to take the rope as Taylarin reaches ground. He speaks a few soft words which the others cannot hear before giving the rope a tug. The silver line comes loose and falls down into a pile on the snow, which the Elf quickly gathers up and hands back to Taylarin.
Greenstand pulls out his tinderbox and turns toward the rope just in time to see it fall. He puts his tinderbox away, disappointed.
Bialver grins at his cousin, opens his mouth, points approximately to his uvula, and makes chewing motions
Taylarin takes her elvish rope, smiling gently up to Gilgir as she tucks the coil back into her pack.

Gilglir looks at the others and nods. 'Now, come. We must away, and quickly. One of you bring the head. I will not be able to carry it for a time.' He leads the others away at a quick pace back the way they came. As they come out of the trees and near the edge of the pond, he pauses, looking back at the company and over at the camp of the orcs.
Taylarin motioned for the others to follow Gilglir before setting an even pace with him. As Gilglir pauses and turns she does the same, though her eyes are focused on the frozen pond that lay beneath the camp.
Trumodir trudges along happily behind Gil and Green, grateful that they didn't have to fight their way out of the camp.
Bialver is finding the head both unwieldy and odoriferous, but carries it resolutely
Greenstand follows Gilglir quickly while drawing silently on his pipe.
Minabel silently follows behind the others- thankful to still be alive and healed of her wounds.
Bialver mutters to Tru "I suppose we must give it to some elf or dwarf-lord. But think how well it would adorn Grimeborn's lodge back in The Vales!"

As the company reaches the edge of the stand of pines, they can see the orc-camp spread out on the slopes above the pond. Squat shapes of goblins are running back and forth, and some are beginning to cautiously climb the slope towards the site of the battle. Closer at hand, the wargs have ceased their prowling and have gathered together into a group on the ice near the camp's entrance, snarling and growling at each other in their foul tongue. Occasionally, a shout in Orkish or a howl from a wolf-throat echoes across the mountain-side. It seems plain that the orcs and wolves are preparing pursuit and vengeance.
Gilglir pauses at the edge of the woods and looks at Taylarin. He catches her gaze and nods.
Taylarin nods in return to Gilglir before looking back at the frozen pond, staring intently at the group of wargs now gathered. A hand extends as she whispers a series of elven words.
Gilglir lifts his left hand towards the camp as he watches the orcs scurry like ants. His eyes shine as he speaks words under his breath. Suddenly, a light flashes from his upraised hand as he cries, 'Ered o Hithaeglir, lasto beth nîn! Danno, nelig en Ennor, ah dolo in Glamhoth!'

As the Elves speak, there comes a sound like thunder, throughout the valley. For a long moment after, it seems that nothing has happened. As the company watches, however, a series of cracks begins to spiderweb across the surface of the ice on the pond, while at the same time, the face of the cliffs above the camp begins to splinter. Suddenly, with a pair of resounding cracks, the ice on the pond and the rock of the mountainside shatter. A wave suddenly comes up out of the pond, crashing over the wargs and pulling them under while boulders and shards of rock begin to rain down upon the camp. Then, with a final deafening roar, the face of the mountain slips and tumbles down upon the camp, burying it in a scree of rock and snow and ice. The final stones come to a halt on the shore of the pond as the echoes die away. Silence falls over the mountains.

Gilglir lowers his hand and the light fades from his eyes. His legs suddenly give out under him and he collapses to a sitting position, leaning against a tree-trunk. He leans his head back and closes his eyes, breathing heavily.
Greenstand stares at the ruin in wonder, even forgetting to draw on his pipe for a moment. "Well, that's one mission accomplished, then."
Esk whispers something rather long to Trumodir
Trumodir stands dumbstruck for a moment, then asks, "Gil, why didn't you do that in the first place rather than making us climb up the mountain on a thin rope?
Taylarin pants for air as silence fills the valley again, sinking to her own knees, exhausted.
Bialver watches Tay, and decides that lying down in the snow would be a great idea

Gilglir replies in a soft voice without opening his eyes. 'For several reasons. First, I wished to search the camp and find any reason for their actions. Second, to spend my spirit so is wearying. Finally, and most worrying, to do such a thing means revealing myself to those with eyes to see. I have shouted my name in a voice that all can hear from Mithlond to Dol Guldur.'
Trumodir turns to Bialver and mutters, <V> "elves! I doubt I'll ever ken their ways!"
Greenstand turns away from the wreckage and eyes Gilglir with concern. "Is there an immediate danger, do you think, or should we make camp here? You don't look like you could travel far at the moment, and all of us could use the rest, I think."
Bialver lifts his palms and shrugs, as if to say "Who can understand an elf?"

Taylarin turns her hooded head towards Eskild, offering a weary, but gentle smile. "I will be alright." She whispers in her usual soft voice. "Gilglir is correct, though. Any hope of secrecy we had is now gone. We cannot stay here, we must move on, though… just a moment, if we may. I need to recover some strength, as does Gilglir."
Gilglir opens his eyes and looks at Greenstand. He shakes his head and moves to stand. 'No. We cannot linger. We must away, and quickly.' As he climbs to his feet, he sways and leans against the tree. Fishing in his belt pouch, he pulls out a small leathern flask. He works the cork out and take a mouthful before holding it out to Taylarin. After the draught, he seems steadier on his feet, though he still has something of a haggard look in his eyes.
Taylarin takes the flask with a grateful look, taking a long pull from it before handing it back. She looked as exhausted as Gilglir. She took a deep breath before slowly pushing herself to her feet.
Bialver looks at the elves in concern, and peers into his pouch, but the last of the honeycomb is gone

Gilglir looks at the others and nods. 'Come now. Let us go back to Larus and Vighar. We can spend the night there ere we return to Glóin.' With that, he sets off along the shore of the pond and back down the slopes of the mountain.
Taylarin looks around the group, gesturing for them to follow Gilglir before she would take up the rear.
Bialver picks himself up off the snow, packs as much snow as he can into and around the goblin head, and follows along
Greenstand watches Gilglir head out, and shakes his head as he follows.
Trumodir also feels deeply weary. Although she has the strength to walk the several miles back to the dwarves, she keeps her eyes on the ground as she trudges forward, not wanting to stumble in her exhaustion.


Chapter 37: Back to the Hold

After a night spent at the camp in the High Pass, the company makes their way back to Nâlagathol under a clear sky with a light wind.

Gilglir walks with a light step over the snow lying on the last slopes below the hall. As he comes in sight of the gates, he raises his hand and hails the guards, who open the gates and let them in to the fortress. They quickly pass through the courtyard and inside the warmth of the hall, stamping the snow from their boots and warming cold hands and faces.
Minabel gingerly pulls her gloves off- thankful to be back indoors and temporarily away from danger.
Taylarin follows Gilglir into the fortress, giving nods and smiles to the dwarves as she passes them. She lightly brushes away any snow that collected on her coat, looking un-bothered by the cold.
Bialver slings his cloak off his shoulders, carefully lays it down away from the fire, and sets the snow-packed head on it
Greenstand smiles at the familiar-yet-foreign comforts of the dwarf-hold.
Trumodir settles herself before the fire, for once scarcely bothered by the smells of roasting meat drifting past her sensitive nose

Gilglir paces steadily through the corridors until he comes to the main hall. There, he makes his way to Glóin's seat and bows his head in greeting. 'Hail and well met again, Glóin son of Gróin! We have returned victorious.' He gestures towards the head Bialver has.
The old Dwarf smiles broadly as he catches sight of the trophy. 'Ah, that's wonderful news,' he says laughing. 'I trust they won't be bothering us again for a long while. Very glad that you've helped us with that problem. But, please, come! Have a seat and get the cold out of your bones. I've news for you, as well.'
Bialver picks the head up by it's hair and holds it high, then brings it to lay before the Dwarf-Lord, looking distinctly smug
Bialver gestures Tru and Esk to him, and the three make low bows before Gloin
Minabel gives the goblin head a contemptuous look and wrinkles up her nose in disgust.
Minabel curtseys before Gloin.
Greenstand sweeps his hat off his head as he bows to the Dwarf-Lord.
Taylarin takes a seat with a gracious smile, looking to Gloin with interest. "What news?"

Gilglir smiles at Bialver's actions and settles himself in a seat near the Dwarf-lord, helping himself to a cup of mulled wine. 'No, I think those orcs have been quite certainly dealt with,' he says, glancing at Taylarin. 'But there is some other troubling news from the camp which you need to know of. When we fought Gurzmat, the battle was joined by a pair of Dwarves, of a house I have never met before.' He takes a few papers from his belt-pouch and hands them to Glóin. 'I found these in their tents, but I could not make any sense of them. I thought I knew your tongue from my days in Eregion, but this dialect is unknown to me.'
Bialver declaims, ceremoniously, "Never fear, Lord Gloin. The Beorning strength and constancy are at your service."
Trumodir looks steadily at the Dwarf, eyes slightly narrowed as she waits to see what he will say
Minabel takes a cup of mulled wine and sips it while intently listening to the conversation.
Esk is torn between pride at being included by Tru and Bialver, and feeling quite overwhelmed by Gloin's grandeur
Greenstand accepts a drink and tries to focus one ear on the conversation while the other ear strains to catch snatches of dwarf-song coming from another part of the hall.
Esk makes the best bow he can, but can't quite keep himself from squiring as he rises

Glóin looks across the table, seemingly alarmed but not overly surprised. 'Dwarves working with goblins, you say?' he grumbles. 'Let me see those papers.' He peruses them for a few moments and then throws them away in disgust. 'Pah! Just as I suspected! The filthy Dourhands are working with the goblins as well. No surprise, that. They've been a stone in our boot this last year, ever since that ridiculous story started going around about Skorgrim coming back from the grave or some such thing. By the beards of the Fathers, it's not like he's Dúrin!'

Minabel turns and addresses Gloin, "pardon me good dwarf, but are the Dourhands not your kin?"
Bialver exchanges a look with Tru and says (V) "Dwarf is leagued against Dwarf. How they must suffer from the knowledge that their own have turned on them. But they are not as we of the Vales"
Greenstand frowns. "Dourhands? I seem to recall some dwarves of that name passing through Bree earlier this year. They seemed an unfriendly lot compared to most dwarf travelers we get."
Trumodir shakes her head ''They are not one people? May such a fate never fall on us!''
Glóin looks over at Minabel and shakes his head with a scowl. 'They're of our race, but they're no kin of ours. They've always been a surly and unfriendly lot, but this last year, they've taken to banditry and consorting with goblins and trolls.' He turns his head and spits towards the fire in disgust.
Minabel turns away from Gloin in embarrassment; having clearly offended him.

Gilglir starts slightly at the comments about Skorgrim. 'Back from the dead, you say? How can this be? I know the tales of Dúrin the Deathless, but did he not always return through rebirth?' He glances across the table at Taylarin.
Taylarin frowns as she listens to the conversation, her brow furrowing at the mention of 'raised from the dead'. Her eyes turn to meet Gilglir's.
Trumodir thinks back over their travels and grows quiet, thinking of one Beorning who could not escape the evil that is abroad
Greenstand chimes in, "Back home we have tales of the dead walking in the Barrow-downs. Perhaps this Skorgrim suffered a similar fate."
Minabel would have shuddered to hear "raised from the dead" a year ago, but so much had happened since the party left Bree that now resurrection no longer fazed her.

Gloin nods at Gilglir's words. 'Aye, that's true. When Durin returns to us, he has always done so in the same way any Dwarf comes into the world. But the Dourhands say that Skorgrim's been raised again like he never died.' He shakes his head. 'I don't credit it myself, but the Dourhands do, and that's all that matters. In fact, the reason me and mine are still here is because King Dain asked me to rout the Dourhands out of the pass so travellers can pass unhindered. One of my scouts managed to find where they've been holed up, and that's the other news I had for you.'
Greenstand begins to smoke.
Gloin takes a long drink before continuing. 'They're hiding out in an old keep called Gabilazan, not too far south of where the goblin camp was, actually. But, while he was watching the keep, my scout saw a pair of figures ride up to the fortress. One was a dwarf, and the other was a tall man all wrapped up in a black cloak. From the way the Dourhands stopped what they were doing and cheered, Authi guessed that the Dwarf was Skorgrim, but I suspect that the other was the wraith you're hunting.'

Taylarin frowns deeply at the mention of a tall man in a black cloak.
Bialver remembers their encounters with the wraiths, and shudders
Gilglir looks into his cup for a time before replying. 'It would seem so,' he says finally. 'Then our two tasks appear to be one.' He looks up. 'How do you propose we enter the keep? I know well that dwarf-holds are nearly impenetrable without an army to hand.'
Greenstand 's eyes widen at the mention of the wraith, and he forgets even to draw on his pipe for a few moments.
Trumodir stands, crosses her arms, and glares at both Gilglir and Gloin "oh, aye, we swore faith for this journey, and faithful we'll be. But a handful of venturers against *that* evil?"
Taylarin seems just as interested in the idea of storming the keep as Gil.
Greenstand eventually draws long on his pipe before speaking, "I don't know how much we can hope to hinder them, but what other choice do we have but to try?"

Gloin smiles grimly at the conversation. 'Oh, don't think that we're going to let you lot have all of the fun!' he says. 'Me and my lads are coming with, but I've got a plan.' He takes another drink and continues. 'I've sent a couple of my dwarves to sneak in and find the plans for the keep. That way, we can come at them from behind and take them by surprise. Then, while the others with me take care of the garrison, you lot, my son Gimli, and me will go find Skorgrim and this wraith of yours.'
Gilglir nods in agreement. 'That plan seems sound enough,' he says. 'It is certainly better than trying to wait them out in a siege or storming the walls.'
Taylarin nods, looking thoughtful. "Perhaps a diversion would be needed?"
Greenstand nods slowly in agreement. Wraiths and walking dead would be terrifying to face, but they would surely make for a great story...if anyone survives to tell it.
Esk looks at the elf with something of Trumodir's fierce grin "I can sneak real good, but I can also holler like a thousand mad badgers is after me. I'm your man for diversions!"

Gloin smiles broadly again. 'So, we're agreed, then? Good! I'll send word to Rivendell to have Gimli join us as soon as he may, and we'll wait for the scouts to come back with the plans. Shouldn't be more than a day or two, and then we can draw up our battle lines in earnest. In the meantime, make yourselves at home! The beds might be a bit small, but I'm sure you lot can make do.'
Bialver has a quiet conversation with one of the Dwarves about the possibility of sleeping outside, then waves his kinswoman over
Gilglir smiles back at Gloin. 'Indeed, we shall,' he says. 'I thank you again for your hospitality and for your aid in our endeavour. May the Valar grant it be a success!' With that, he settles into a discussion of mining and crafting, accompanied by meat and drink and song from time to time.
Bialver reclaims the head, and takes it outside to pack in snow again.
Taylarin heads off to discuss various topics on scouting with some dwarves.
Esk seats himself at the table to eat and drink as he feels a hero should, but soon has to be helped off to his bed by an obliging dwarf
Greenstand puffs thoughtfully on his pipe as he listens to dwarvish song and muses quietly, "How does one prepare to face a wraith and a dead dwarf?"
Bialver and Trumdir are led to a safe spot underneath some sheltering pines, and settle down to sleep to sleep of smug beornings, which involves a great deal of snoring


Chapter 38: Planning the Attack

Gilglir sits in a chair near a fire in the main hall, listening to a Dwarvish minstrel sing the tale of the Battle of Azanulbizar. He glances around the hall from time to time, looking for the others in his group.
Minabel sits near the fire, sipping at a glass of mulled wine and nibbling at cubes of cheese.
Trumodir wanders into the hall, her face flushed from the cold. She has been wandering in the surrounding forest, looking for winterberries. "Hail, Gilglir!" she cries upon seeing him. "Any news?"
Greenstand is talking with Gloin, pestering him for more details about the adventure of Bilbo and the dwarves.
Maethis has been outside, enjoying the sight of the bright clear stars, and how they light up the sky in this cold, high place. A door opens, and the sound of Dwarvish music is suddenly loud behind her. Maethis heads inside, dodging around an impromptu snowball fight, and moves close to the fire.

Gilglir glances over at Trumodir as she comes up. He shakes his head. 'Nay. The scouts have yet to return. Though they are expected today or tomorrow at the latest.' He gestures to the other seats near him. 'Come, sit. You would enjoy this. It is a tale of how the Dwarves killed an entire army of Orcs.' He smiles.
Maethis settles into a chair near another elf, who is telling someone else about the Dwarvish performance.
Minabel looks out at the group of dwarves sitting around the fire and wonders how many of them have faced off against wraiths.
Greenstand listens attentively as Gloin recounts the dwarves' adventure with the Spiders of Mirkwood, as Greenstand shares some of his best pipe-weed.
Gilglir looks over as someone enters the hall. He smiles broadly as he recognises the newcomer. Standing, he says, 'Ah, Maethis! Mae govannen! I did not expect Elrond to send you to check on matters here!'
Taylarin turns at Gilglir's exclamation, and the familiar name that accompanied it. She turns, peering to Maethis from beneath her hood, smiling gently as she dips her head. "Mae govannon, Maethis. It has been some time since we have spoken. It is a pleasure to see you again." She rises, dipping her head to the other elleth.

Maethis smiles and returns his greeting. "Mae govannen! Master Elrond is concerned with many things, Friend Gilglir! He indicated that I might be of some small help to those working here." She looks at the elleth closely for a moment, then suddenly steps forward with a smile. "Taylarin! It has been too long!"
Bialver looks 'round as the elf passes, and is just about to speak when a well thrown snowball of Esk's momentarily blinds him
Trumodir looks at the new elf with curiosity, her brows slightly furrowed in puzzlement. It seems that the company is becoming more elvish.
Minabel turns and looks at the newcomer. Another hunter- and one of those most elegant elves.
Bialver brushes the snow out of his eyes, then runs over to the young Trestlebridger to proclaim him the victor - lifting his hand so high into the air that his feet dangle above the snow
Taylarin's smile grows as she meets Maethis, embracing the other briefly. "I am glad you have come, we can certainly use help."
Trumodir sits down heavily, clearly uncomfortable with the addition of another elf.
Maedhis says, "Tell me then, how goes your mission? I hear that you are awaiting scouts?
Greenstand is too enthralled with the dwarf's tale to notice the newcomer, until Gloin excuses himself to go welcome the elf.

Gilglir turns to Mina and Trumodir. 'My apologies, mellyn. This is Maethis, late of Imladris. It seems that Elrond sent her to follow up on the message Glóin sent while we were on our way here. Given our task, I welcome any help we can find.' Glancing back to Maethis, he nods. 'We have tracked our quarry to an old Dwarf-hold. Glóin has dispatched scouts to find a way for us to enter the keep, while he and his dwarves battle the Dourhands who hold the fort.'
Maethis looks over at the loud thump from a nearby chair. A... not-elf has plopped down, and was scowling at her. Casually, she shifted to put Gilglir and Tay between them. “This is good news! It is good that Master Glóin is here. Dwarven strongholds will have no secrets for him, and we can fix our hearts on our purpose.”
Bialver says "Well fought, Bjarnhúnn! Now, let us see who this latest visitor may be", and leads him inside
Bialver enters the hall, laughing and shaking off the snow, but pauses when he sees the look on his kinswoman's face.

Bialver shoots Tru a questioning look, then makes an all-purpose bow to the company
Maethis sees the looks passing between the scowling not-elf and these newcomers. She is a bit uncomfortable, and greets them only with a polite smile and nod of her head.
Gilglir chuckles at Maethis' comment. 'They hold few secrets for me, though it is rather easier for Longbeards to search out the hold than it would be for me.' He turns to Esk and Bialver. 'This is Maethis, one of Elrond's folk. He has sent her to aid us.'

Gloin approaches the group, followed by Greenstand. "Welcome, and well met!" says the dwarf, "What counsel does Lord Elrond send?"
The newcomers, Maethis notes, are also not-elves. Not for the first time, she feels her lack of experience of the world.
Trumodir sighs deeply and visibly struggles to compose herself. She sits up straight in her chair but can't bring herself to greet the newcomer.
Bialver murmurs in the speech of the Vales <V> "What troubles you, my Fyrirkona?"
Maethis bows deeply to Gloin. "Greetings, Master Glóin! Lord Elrond received word that you are making progress in clearing this region of the servants of the Enemy. He is relieved, as the matter you know of has been set in motion. If we can both hold their attention here, and drive them back, it is all to the good."
Trumodir responds to her kinsman in a whisper <V> "another elf! I can barely put up with the ones in our company..." and sighs again.
Bialver sighs and replies <V> "In for a comb, in for the whole hive"

Gloin laughs heartily. "If they don't give us their full attention, we'll do more than drive them back!"
Maethis leans close to Glóin and lowers her voice. "Lord Elrond reminds you, that Durin's folk have weapons that we firstborn cannot know, and that stone will outlast all else."
Greenstand makes a respectful bow towards Maethis. "Gil Greenstand, at your service."
Maethis bows to Greenstand. "I am called Maethis. May the stars that shine on our meeting see only joy."
Taylarin chuckles softly at the reactions of the others, finding her seat once again as she turns her attentions to Gloin and his news.
Trumodir turns in Gloin's direction, somewhat mollified by his laugh. Although she's no more comfortable with dwarves than with elves, at least they have a more earthy attitude.
Bialver goes to stand behind his kinswoman's chair, where he stands with his arms crossed and a neutral expression on his face

Maethis thinks about this, and nods warily. "Truly, until very recently I had not traveled myself beyond the peaceful glades of my home. I have often been at a loss among the customs of others." She turns to Trumodir, and in a carefully neutral voice asks, "Where are the Vales? Are they far from here?"
Trumodir looks up at the elf and a warmth creeps into her heart. Her homeland! She could say a lot about it if the elf is truly interested.
Trumodir starts, "the Vales are the most beautiful part of this world…. So many flowers, and a close community, including all the animals whom we care for. A land of plenty, cream and honey enough for all…."
Maethis nods with interest. Another place she has missed out on so far! She briefly wonders how any of her people can sail west when there is so much left to discover and love about Middle Earth, then brings her attention back to the woman.
Trumodir sinks back into her chair, a faraway look in her eyes.

There is a sudden bustle near the gates as they swing open and a pair of harried and rather bedraggled dwarves rush in. Excited shouts in Dwarvish echo through the hall, as it appears that the scouts have returned.
Minabel listens to the conversations with a certain amount of fascination. To her surprise, she is coming to admire the elves with their beautiful speech and elegant ways.
Bialver smiles down at his kinswoman, and makes a slight bow to Maethis "The Vales of the Great River are home to our people. We call them the Heimdalr, or, more properly, the Langelfrsdalr, the Long Flood."
Taylarin turns her head to look at the newcomers, brow arching a little as they shout excitedly.
Gilglir looks ready to interject when the scouts burst in. He looks over, listening intently to the shouts.
Bialver nudges Tru, "Now perhaps we shall see another good fight!" he says
Maethis nods. "That would be to the south, I think...." Her voice trails off as she realizes that everyone is focused on the shouting dwarves.

At the newcomers' entrance, Glóin hurries towards the entrance to the hall. He speaks quickly with the scouts, who pass him a thick bundle wrapped in oilcloths. Glóin carries it back towards the high table before unwrapping it and looking over the parchments it contains.
Gilglir stands and walks over to the high table, looking down on the plans as well. 'It seems your scouts comported themselves well,' he says.
Taylarin also rises, heading towards the table to curiously look over what the dwarves had brought back.
Maethis remains seated, not feeling comfortable following her friends to peer over the Dwarf Lord's shoulder. She leans towards them, listening for any hint of what is to come.
Trumodir takes no notice of the bustle surrounding her, seemingly lost in thoughts of her homeland.
Greenstand follows the others to the table and looks at the documents. "What do they say? I do not know this writing."
Minabel takes another glass of mulled wine- dreading what they will do next now that the dwarf scouts have returned.
Bialver leans back and lights his pipe, his eyes are half-closed as though he is drowsing, but the alert prick of his ears gives his interest away

Glóin ignores the others for a few moments, clearly engrossed in the plans for Gabilazan. After a time, he looks up. 'This is better than I hoped for!' he says. 'Not only does this show the location of the secret way into the keep, it also gives the opening word for the door! With this, we can take them by surprise while my warriors keep them busy at the front gate." He passes the plans over to the others, pointing out the key points as he mentions them.
Greenstand draws on his pipe, anticipating the discussions that will come in determining their next move.
Taylarin nods, looking over the plans briefly before glancing towards Gloin. "This is most fortunate."
Bialver stretches as though awakening, looks up with an expression of surpries and mild curiosity, then stands and ambles over to the table
As Lord Glóin clearly intends to include the group, Maedhis rises and moves to where she can see the plans. They are meaningless to her, lines on a page. She glances at the others, who are clearly getting a lot more out of this than she is, and settles for staring at the parchments and occasionally nodding.
Gilglir nods in agreement with Taylarin as he reads the Dwarvish notations on the plans. 'This is very well, indeed. Do you have any more word on whether Skorgrim or the Gwatharan remain in the keep?'

Glóin nods. 'So far as the scouts could tell, both are still there. I'll leave you lot to deal with the wraith; such things are outside my experience. But I want to be there to deal with Skorgrim. He has much to answer for.'
Maethis shudders at the mention of the Gwatharan. She is lucky not to have seen them in person, although they have been following the same paths.
Bialver 's ears prick up at the word "Gwatharan". He looks at the tall elf and exclaims "Skuggikonungr? Again?"
Gilglir gives Glóin a grim look as he nods. 'Very well, but beware. My heart tells me that there is more to this matter than it seems.' Looking at Bialver, he says, 'Yes. That is the whole reason why we have come. We must drive him away from Imladris, and soon.'
Maethis nods. "Lord Elrond is concerned that he has chosen this location in order to both keep watch on the comings and goings from Rivendell, and to prepare an attack when it will do the most harm. The Last Homely House shelters many that the Enemy would destroy.

Glóin sighs as he continues to look through the plans. 'I was afraid you'd say something of the sort,' he says. 'But we'll do what we must. Now,' he says, pointing to a sketch of the inner keep, 'they'll probably be holed up here. I should be able to taunt Skorgrim into coming out and facing us, but I don't know about this wraith. He might be a tougher rock to hew. But I can't see any other way for him to get out except past us. Unless he can walk through solid rock.' He scoffs at the last.
Maethis sighs and shakes her head. "We must move quickly, good Dwarf. How soon can we set forth?"
Glóin turns to Maethis. 'I need to speak with my captains and arrange a battle-plan. We will leave within the next two days, and march as a group. Take your ease until them, but be ready to move when I pass the word.'

Taylarinn nods to Gloin and murmurs. "We shall be ready."
Gilglir nods. 'Very well. Give the word, and I will be ready. I look forward to fighting by the side of Durin's Folk once again.' He smiles.
Bialver stands tall and makes a deep bow "The Vales shall not fail in this!"
Greenstand nods and determines to hear as many dwarven tales as he can before they have to set out.
Maethis nods and stands up. "I thank you for your hospitality, and your courage. Both are a beacon to the heart in dark times." She bows to him again.
Minabel lets out a big yawn.


Chapter 39: Towards Gabilazan

After a day and a half of steady marching, the company from Rivendell, along with the Dwarves of Glóin's company, finally come in sight of the fortress of Gabilazan. The dwarf-hold is perched in a narrow cleft in the mountains, guarding the southern route to the High Pass. Glóin raises his hand to signal a halt while the company still has the shelter of the woods.

Taylarin, who was in a position at the rear like usual, paused her step at Gloin's signal, looking ahead to the fortress, and up at the surrounding cliffs.
Trumodir plops herself down in the snow with an audible thud. She peers into the distance at the apparently invincible dwarf-hold and sighs.
Maedhis pushes her hood back and gazes around her. These mountains—so dramatic, all sharp peaks and dramatic fall offs. She gazes past the treeline and smiles. How typical of the dwarves to build on stone, with no trees about them.
Greenstand gazes at the fortress with some wonder, though he does not find it as captivating as the hold of Gloin's folk.
Bialver stands by his kinswoman, watching the Elves and Dwarves and fingering his great war-axe, Kinnhöggva
Minabel moves over to the shelter of a tree with a large rock in front of it. She sits down on the rock and looks at the dwarf fortress- hoping that this will not go too badly for the group.
Gilglir pauses with the rest of the company, leaning against a tree and looking up at the fortress before glancing over at Glóin.

Greenstand whispers to Minabel, "If Combe had walls like that, we'd never have to worry about brigands!"
Minabel agrees and adds, "and the stone is so much more beautiful."
Maedhis turns to Minabel. "A well-builded stone wall truly is beautiful, is it not? See how the sun brings out the color, and it seems to grow from it's perch? And yet, each type of wall has it's own beauty. As I recall Combe, the walls spoke of gardens, and neighbors, not of death and danger."
Minabel agrees. "I hope that death and danger do not come to Combe as it did to Archet. I remember the fire."
Bialver looks curiously at the newest member of the fellowship, thinking it is rare to find an Elf with such an appreciation of the Dwarven medium
Greenstand nods. "If we do not wish for death and danger to come to every town, village, and hamlet in Middle-earth, we must do what we can to fight."

Glóin looks around at the Dwarves, Elves, and Men gathered with him. 'Well, we've come thus far, and it looks like they're unaware of us. What say you, Eywind?' he asks to a red-haired Dwarf near him. 'Should we wait till nightfall, or press our attack now?'
Gimli weighs his axe in his hand and mutters ''What time like the present?" But his eyes rest on his father as he speaks

Trumodir stirs uneasily. "What is our plan of attack? Do we know how many we are up against?"
Bialver says "How well will they maintain their guard by night?"
Maedhis waits quietly, watching the flight of birds over the fortress. She knows that her military skill is lacking, and will follow the counsel of those with greater experience.
Greenstand says, "If they're expecting trouble, they may be anticipating a night attack, and be on higher alert then. Not to mention the fact that they know their fortress in the dark far better than we. Perhaps it would be better to attack a little earlier."
Taylarin studies the guards at the front gate for awhile, trying to determine their schedule and habits. She listens to the discussion of the group, though remains quite for the time being.

Eywind scowls up at Gabilazan before answering. 'Authi and his boys said there's probably no less than two score Dourhands holed up in there, and their patrols seem the same by night or day.' He shakes his head. 'I can't say which would be better.'
Glóin stands silent for a long moment, looking at the company. Finally, he nods. 'I think you're right, son,' he says. 'If we all still have the strength, I say we attack now.'

Gilglir nods back to Glóin. 'I am ready, but I cannot speak for the others of my company.' He gives them a look, plainly urging them to speak.
Minabel pipes up, "Granted I am not a proven warrior, but I believe that if we can use deception to gain entry, it would be best. Perhaps one of the dwarves may pose as a merchant and scout out the area and then report back to us where the weak points are."
Trumodir says in a heavy voice, "Let us do what we came to do, and hope that luck is with us"
Greenstand answers, "I'm ready. Too bad we don't have any hobbits with us. Some of the younger ones in Combe were quite skilled at sneaking and causing mischief, as I recall."

Bialver says "We of the Vales can wait long in the snow and not suffer, but it is not so with others. If we attack sooner, that will not trouble us"
Eywind glances at Minabel and scoffs. 'And how many traders do you think they get up here, girl?' he asks gruffly. 'They're off the main road, and only their own folk would come or be welcome.'
Bialver furrows his brow. "The dark one, the shadow-wight, he is inside?"
Minabel frowns and sits down in the snow, "fine, do not ask my opinion since I clearly do not know anything about dwarf culture."
Maedhis turns to Glòin. "It seems to me, Lord, that we would be best served by a simple plan, and not elaborate preparations."
Glóin listens to the others before holding up his hand for silence. 'We have a plan,' he says in response to Maethis. 'And, yes, the wraith is still here, so far as we know,' he says in response to Bialver, though he glances at Gilglir as he says this.

Greenstand lights his pipe and puffs on it as he listens to Gloin.
Gilglir narrows his gaze as he looks at the fortress, and then tilts his head slightly as if listening. 'Yes, he is still within,' he says finally. 'Again, I urge you to leave him to me. He is a foe beyond any of you, and almost beyond me.'
Trumodir shudders and tries to gather her inner strength for the battle about to be joined.
Gimli breathes deeply and curls his hand firmly around the shaft of his axe, making a place inside himself for the battle-fury which will fill him with the Dwarven fire

Glóin gives the Elf a doubtful glance, but nods his head. 'Very well, then. Here is the plan. Eywind, I want you to take our folk and march up to the gates. Probably should cut down a tree or two, since I'm sure the Dourhands won't be inclined to swing open the doors for us.' Eywind nods at this and dispatches a handful of Dwarves to head back and fell some trees.
Gloin looks back at the others. 'You lot, however, are going to come with Gimli and me. We're headed up and around to the back door.' He points to a narrow path which winds up onto the mountain-slopes to the east. 'We're going to come in the back way and take them by surprise. With luck, we can get the gate open, but we're going to find Skorgrim and this wraith and make sure they give us no more trouble.'

Greenstand nods. "It is long past time for both of them to take their final rest."
Taylarin nods her approval at the plan, adding. "Perhaps the commotion at the gates will be enough of a diversion to allow the rest of us to gain entry unhindered."
Maedhis nods, glad that all her companions seem to be in agreement.
Trumodir looks at Gilglir. "And would you have us do anything special to give you more ease in facing the black shadow and the dwarf?
Bialver watches the conversation, both wishing Eskild could be here to see the battle, and feeling glad the youth is safely on his way to Rivendell
Gilglir smiles at Trumodir. 'I am certain you can handle the Dourhand. Assuming, of course, that Glóin and Gimli will let you.' He chuckles a little at that, and continues. 'Simply stay away from the Gwatharan as much as you can. And keep up your hearts. Courage is your best defence against him and his kind.'

Trumodir considers Gilglir's words and her eyes suddenly sparkle with understanding. The heaviness in her heart has a source outside herself!
Taylarin chuckles softly, knowing the dwarves and Beornings will make short work of the dwarves, though her brow furrows as she considered the wraith. Her eyes slide towards Gilglir.
Maedhis looks at Gilglir with some surprise, then smiles. She looks around her again, noting the beauty and joy in each line, and feels suddenly lighter.
Bialver grins fiercely "And courage this fellowship does not lack," he proclaims.
Gilglir gives Taylarin a slight smile in return.
Greenstand looks toward Gloin, and tries to bolster his spirits by reminding himself that he is getting to live out an adventure, surrounded by heroes of legend.
Minabel wishes she had the courage of the others in the group, but she knows that after weeks with them, she must be true to each and every one of them.
Gimli says, "Indeed, in the line of Durin, the blood does not run thin!"

Gloin laughs softly and smiles. 'Well, if that's settled, then, let's be off! We've a ways to go, and I'd like to be outside their door before Eywind and his boys draw their attention.' With that, he claps Gimli on the shoulder and sets off for the path he mentioned, moving at a steady pace.
Trumodir jumps up and follows Gloin, the blood of battle beginning to stir in her heart
Maedhis moves to follow the Dwarves, her light slippers barely breaking the surface of the snow. She moves from shadow to shadow in the wood, not so much to avoid detection, but from the joy of dancing with the dapple shadows.
Bialver follows his kinswoman, running over in his mind the battles they've fought together, a low growl rising in his throat
Greenstand says aloud, "If I should fall today, others will tell my-" He stumbles over some uneven ground and just barely stops from falling then and there.
Gilglir raises his hand in farewell to Eywind and the other Dwarves. 'Have no fear,' he says with a smile. 'We will try to leave some for you.' With a light laugh, he turns away and follows Glóin and the others up the path.
Taylarin follows the others of their company with a light and deliberate step, her head swiveling to keep watch for any that might spot them.


Chapter 40: The Siege of Gabilazan

Glóin leads the company up a narrow path which winds up onto a shelf above the main pass. The wind blows cold and chill, with few trees to screen the company from its bite, but the old Dwarf seems untroubled by it. He turns and waits until all of them have made their way up.
Maedhis stops near the Dwarf and looks around nervously, feeling very exposed to hostile view.
Trumodir looks up at the imposing architecture and mutters to herself, "I prefer wood to stone; wood warms the heart and stone doesn't"
Gilglir walks at an easy pace up the steep slope, looking about as he does. When he reaches the top, he turns and looks towards the fortress, now hidden behind a shoulder of rock. He begins to sing softly, the words almost inaudible over the moaning wind.
Taylarin also seems unbothered by the wind and biting cold, her eyes focused on the fortress. She pauses and tilts her head a little as Gilglir begins to sing.
Maedhis turns toward Gilglir, smiling softly at the sound of his song. She takes a step closer to him, feeling comforted by his obvious prowess.

Minabel begins to shiver and hug herself as she trudges behind the others; cursing the biting cold.
Gimli narrows his eyes and shifts his grip on his axe, not quite fidgeting, but obviously eager to be on the offensive
Greenstand stares in wonder as he approaches the fortress. "Dwarvish structures sure are built to impress, aren't they?"
Trumodir grunts in response to Green's comment. "Only if you go in for that sort of thing", she says.
Bialver, overhearing his cousin, smiles and says "Are they not the people of the stone?"
Gloin chuckles at Greenstand's words. 'We do try, lad,' he says proudly. 'Durin's Folk built all of these holds. The Dourhands are just squatters.' He grins widely. 'Let's go serve them an eviction, shall we?' With that, he turns and heads along the ledge towards the fortress.

Trumodir turns to Bialver and says {V} "stone buildings, stone hearts—at least they show their character clearly"
Bialver smiles and replies in kind {V} "And heads"
Greenstand grins at the dwarf's words. "Aye, sir!"
Bialver leans over to Gimli and says "I have fought alongside your people, but never against a Dwarf. What should my axe aim for?"
Maedhis looks at Gloin thoughtfully. She had not realized that these halls were also stolen from Durin's folk.
The ledge, though narrow in places, is mercifully free of snow, seemingly swept clean by the constant winds. After perhaps half an hour, the ledge comes to an end, butting up against the main mass of the mountain perhaps a hundred yards from the main gate of Gabilazan, which is now 50 or so feet below them.

Gimli gives the Man of the Vales (for so he imagines him) a look of surprise. "Anywhere but the head,” he replies, somewhat curtly
Maedhis asks "Why not the head, good Dwarf?" as she had been planning to aim her arrows between the eyes.
Gloin leads the company to a few boulders which seem to have tumbled from above and come to rest in the angle of the two cliffs. He pulls a piece of parchment from his pouch and looks over it before going over to the wall by the boulders. Running his hands over it, he speaks some soft words in Dwarvish and then turns to the others. 'Now, we wait for the boys down below to pay our ill-mannered cousins a visit. Shouldn't be too long now.' With that, he sits down on one of the boulders and begins to hone his axe.
Gimli grins grimly and raps his knuckles against his helmet. "Too hard for an axe" he replies.

Taylarin pulls her bow from her back and strings it, her eyes trained on the fortress below. "What is our plan then?" She asks softly.
Greenstand makes sure his pipe is lit and well stocked, as there will be little time to refill it during battle.

Maedhis chuckles at Gimli's jest, and moves closer to the wall. They seem so close to the main gate, that she is concerned they will be seen by the defenders. She consoles herself that, if this were true, Gloin would be more concerned.
Bialver leans over to his kinswoman "Go for the feet" he says softly
Trumodir looks up at him and smiles. Aiming for feet was not part of her repertoire.
Bialver shrugs "Or the neck", he says
Minabel looks at Bialver and smiles. She always shoots for the head or the heart. The last thing that she wants is an enemy that can fight back.
Gloin looks up from his axe and says, 'This gate leads to two passages: one which issues just behind the gates and another which leads into the inner keep. First, we will surprise the gate guards from behind and open the way for my fighters to join the fray. Then, we make our way to the inner keep, where our quarry is sure to be hiding. If our luck holds, we can go by the secret way. If not, then we fight our way in with the rest of the company'

Maedhis moves to the section of wall that Glóin had addressed. It seems no different than the rest. She leans against it, listening for what it might tell her.
Gimli closes his eyes briefly, perhaps reminding himself that these are allies, and may be valuable
Gilglir nods in agreement. 'That seems sound,' he says. 'But remember: should we come upon the Gwatharan, do not seek to fight him. Leave him to me.'
Taylarin nods her own agreement in silence, glancing to Gilglir at the mention of the Wraith.
Gimli shoots the tall elf a sharp glance, clearly holding his temper
Greenstand draws sharply on his pipe at the mention of the Ringwraith, then nods slowly.
Maedhis looks at Green, hiding a smile. Clearly, she will learn much of his inner thoughts by observing his pipe!

The company waits for perhaps ten or fifteen minutes, trying to keep as warm as they can in the biting wind, when suddenly they hear the sound of harsh Dwarven voices from below, seemingly coming from the gate. After a moment, there is a reply, seemingly from Eywind, followed by a chorus of mocking laughter from the gate. The first voice gives a cry, and there is the sound of bowstrings, followed by the sound of arrows hitting shields. The Dwarves of Gloin's company give a shout, and then there is a crashing BOOM which echoes through the valley, followed by a shout from many throats: 'Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!'

Gloin stands up and slips his axe back into his belt. 'Well, it sounds like things are going well down there,' he says. 'Shall we join them?'
Gimli nearly cheers "My axe is thirsty."
Maedhis jumps away from the wall at the first shout, and turns to Glóin when he speaks, ready to follow.
Greenstand says, "Absolutely!" as he grips his staff firmly.
Gilglir smiles at Gloin and gestures towards the wall. 'If you would be so kind.'
Bialver stands shoulder to shoulder with Trumodir, ready to spring at a word
Trumodir turns to her cousin, her eyes glittering with the excitement of the battle
Taylarin is quite ready to join the fray and murmurs. "Lead the way, Master Gloin."
Minabel looks at the others and grips her bow and strings it- ready to shoot when the signal is given.
Bialver smiles "We will show them what Beorn's Children are made of!" he says
Trumodir nods, but says nothing.
Gimli slips up to stand beside his father

Gloin walks back over to the wall and lays his hand against it. He says two words in Dwarvish and then steps back. Suddenly, the signs of a hammer, an anvil, and seven stars flash from the wall, and small cracks appear in the stone. Quickly widening, they outline a door, which swings open silently, revealing a dark chamber behind.
Greenstand whistles softly at the appearance of the hidden door. "That's certainly a useful trick."
Bialver cuts his eyes sideways and murmurs "There is a trick or two to this stone, seemingly"
Gloin makes his way into the chamber, motioning for the others to follow him. As he steps through the door, his feet disturb a thick layer of dust. Plainly, the Dourhands either do not know or do not care about this passage.
Maedhis slips behind the Dwarves into the chamber, bow at the ready.
Gilglir follows the Dwarf into the chamber. His feet, though steel-shod, leave no prints in the thick dust.
Bialver falls back, deciding to bring up the rear, lest there be any discovery of their party
Trumodir takes note of the musty air in the passage and turns to Bialver with a knowing look. "unused, clearly" she whispers.
Bialver nods "A good sign!" he replies
Minabel coughs and frowns. Clearly these dwarves do not dust their rooms.
Greenstand heads in, ready to test the famous hard-headedness of dwarves against good, honest, Bree-land Ash.
Taylarin looks around the chamber, noting the dust, though her eyes look to the walls.

As the last people enter the chamber, Gloin turns and grasps a handle on the inside of the door and pulls it closed. The door swings easily, and suddenly, the company are in a blank dark, the sounds of the wind and the shouts cut off, though the walls still tremble with the blows on the gate.
Minabel trembles and leans up against the first warm body she feels. Fear grips her as she tries to pierce the dark with her eyes and wonders who else is here with them.

Maedhis stands quietly, listening to the echo of their breathing and movements, and feeling the air currents, slow and meandering as they are. She cannot tell much beyond where they are. Mayhap the dwarves are not hindered by the lack of light.
Greenstand looks odd in the darkness, with his face just barely lit by his pipe. Seemingly a face alone in the black emptiness.
Minabel is thankful to see one friendly face in the dark.
Trumodir is little concerned about the lack of light, since her eyes are not her strongest sense-gatherers. Rather, she relies on her nose to get her bearings.
Bialver sticks close to his kinswoman, knowing she will find her way to foe by the beating of their unclean hearts and the pulsing of the corrupted blood.
Maedhis is shocked by the seeming glare of Greenstand's pipe as he draws on it, almost blinded, although in truth, it is so dim that only his face, made menacing by shadow, is visible.

Gilglir begins to walk forward towards the far wall of the chamber, where an open door had been visible before the light was cut off. As he does, a soft glow begins to fall about his feet, making the dust of the chamber look like snow under starlight. The glow steadily brightens until it is enough for the others to make their way by.
Maedhis feels her heart lift as the light grows.
Gloin looks up as the light appears. He gives a muffled grunt of approval and puts away the tinderbox he was beginning to prepare. He follows the elf to the door to the passage into the keep, motioning to the others.
Taylarin steps forward over the dust as it alights, her boots not disturbing the sight as she walks towards the door and the passage that lay beyond.
Gimli is at his father's shoulder every step of the way, nearly bouncing on his toes with eagerness to engage
Greenstand follows the elf absentmindedly, suddenly reminded of soft snowfalls back home in Combe.
Minabel goes behind Greenstand- determined not to be the one who brings up the rear.
Bialver leans close to Tru's ear to whisper "This dust. What does it smell of to you?"

Maedhis glances at the rest of the party. She and Minabel seem to be the only archers. She leans close to Minabel and says, "perhaps we should be at the back, and let those who deal out blows to be at the forefront?" She is a little puzzled that the Woman has moved so close to what will undoubtedly be the fray.
Trumodir considers her cousin's question, and slowly answers, "mouse droppings"
Minabel nods back at Maedhis. "Good idea," grateful for any plan that puts her further away from the fighting.
The passage beyond the further door leads down at an angle for perhaps 100 feet before it suddenly ends. Two other paths branch left and right.
Bialver raises his eyebrows "No ancient blood? No close-kept vengeance? No slow-festering resentment twixt kin and kin?"
Taylarin looks between the two passages and asks softly. "Which way?"
Maedhis makes a note to figure out if Bialver is joking, or if his cousin can really smell such things.

Gloin makes his way to the front and points down the right-hand passage. 'This is the way to the gates,' he says in a low voice. 'If the plans were true, then the passage should let out in the lower chamber of one of the gate-towers. If we're lucky, then it will be the one with the winch for the gate. If not, then we'll have to fight across the wall to the other one.'
Trumodir replies to him in Valish, "No, this passageway has not seen battle; it appears to have been forgotten long ago"
Gilglir nods in reply to Gloin and turns down the right-hand passage.
Taylarin waits for the others, taking up the rear before following the company down the right passage.
Maedhis moves ahead of Tay, watching the shadows of the rest of the party move across the walls. The noise of the gates shaking behind them fades, but she is beginning to hear faint cries and blows ahead of them. They are coming full circle, it seems.

The passage slopes down for 40 feet before it turns into a staircase which spirals down through the living stone. After a couple of flights, the path continues towards a door 20 feet ahead of them. The blows on the gate are very loud here, and faint shouts can be heard through the stone.
Greenstand walks along, trying to think of some play on words he can cry as he hits the enemies. Then he considers possibly insulting them in a language they don't understand, just to see how THEY like it.
Bialver follows the smell of Greenstand's pipe, making sure of his weapons as he pads softly along
Trumodir moves slowly and very quietly, trying to pick up the scent of the dwarves on the other side of the stone wall
Gloin pauses at the door and pulls his axe from his belt. 'Ready yourselves,' he says. 'We'll catch them by surprise, but they won't be flat-footed for long, so make it count.'
Gimli grips his axe, determined to wreak havoc amongst the traitors
Gilglir draws Anglaer as he nods to Gloin. The sword's edges glint slightly with a white flame.
Taylarin nocks an arrow to her bow string, lifting her bow and ready to fire.
Trumodir nudges her way forward so she can get the full scent of her prey.
Maedhis readies her bow, moving to the side to enable her to fire over Gloin's head through the doorway when it opens without endangering the party.
Bialver looks back at the two archers, then forward at his cousin

Gloin looks around at each of the company and then gives a nod. With that, he pushes the door open. As it slowly swings back, the company are greeted with the sight of what appears to be a barracks. There are several beds in the chamber, as well as chests, a table, and a fireplace. A staircase climbs up to the next level, and down it comes shouts in deep Dwarven voices.
Maedhis moves to the side, covering the staircase over the head of the two Dwarves, leaving room for the others to go past her into the chamber.
Trumodir sniffs the air with a look of distaste. The smell of unwashed dwarves is none too pleasant.
Greenstand looks up towards the noise. "Can anyone make out what they're shouting?"
Minabel also wrinkles her nose at the smell of the dwarves.
Gloin gives a slight grunt of surprise. 'Well, looks like we found a little piece of luck,' he says softly. Looking over at Greenstand, he says, 'The Dourhands are mainly hurling insults at my folk. Let's go teach them some manners, shall we?'
Gimli smiles wolfishly ''Gladly!''. he says
Taylarin holds her bow at the ready, eyeing Gloin and Greenstand, a gentle smirk finding her lips. "Naugrim rarely change..." She murmurs under her breath.
Gilglir smiles. 'Indeed. Let us go, but warily. The longer we can keep them unaware of us, the better.'
Bialver grins at Tru "We will have no trouble finding them in the dark, eh, Daughter of the Knurrebjörnner?"

Maedhis moves forward into the room. She can tell from the way the voices echo that there is no one shouting at the top of the stairs. She steps lightly up the stairs, stopping when she can just see the floor.
Minabel draws her bow back, ready to fire at any moment. She edges along the wall, watching the others to see their movements. Fortunately with her slippers on, she is almost silent.
Trumodir nods at Bialver, her nose straining to pick up any unusual odors - anything other than dwarf, which is fairly overpowering her nostrils at the moment
Greenstand nods at Gloin's words, and prepares to charge in when the word is given. He desperately struggles to come up with a suitably insulting battle cry before the fight is joined.
Minabel works her way up the staircase edging against the wall and keeping in the shadows. She peers ahead, trying to see what is going down at the top of the stairs.
Maedhis pauses for a second, turning her head, then calls down softly. "No one here. This seems to be where they store their weapons. Their voices fall with the sunlight from a higher floor." She runs forward quickly, then returns. "Are any in need of a means to bludgeon? There are plenty here—mace, maul, axe"
Gloin nods to the elf on the stairs. 'Then let's head up and make our final preparations.' That said, he takes his own advice and makes for the stairs.

Bialver makes a half bow to Maedhis and says "My club Apaldrskylfa will stand by me, as I will by it and the Mother-Tree that gave it me"
Greenstand follows Gloin and whispers to him, "Is there any particular name or title these Dourhands would find particularly insulting?"
Taylarin slowly makes her way into the room, looking around before taking a place at the bottom of the steps.
Gloin smiles at Greenstand. 'They understand the common speech, even if they won't speak it. Shout whatever you want at them.'
Maedhis moves to join Taylarin.
Bialver gives his club a quick rub with the side of his nose, almost as a bear would do with its snout, and holds it at the ready
Gilglir makes his way up the stairs and takes a position at the base of the next staircase, keeping guard.
Bialver steps softly up the stairs, club at the ready
Taylarin looks up the stairs. "I suppose it’s now or never." She murmurs
Greenstand follows Gloin up the next landing, and looks around at the room they're in.
Maedhis whispers to the other elves "Are all non-elves this slow into battle?"
Greenstand lowers his weapon, momentarily distracted by examining the dwarven stonework. Not as impressive as the Longbeards' structures, of course, but far better than anything in the Bree-lands. He taps his staff against the wall a couple times appreciatively.

Gloin glances around at the company. 'Are we all ready?'
Bialver nods tersely, for once without a pompous speech to deliver
Trumodir nods, gripping her axe with a familiar born of long usage
Maedhis nods, fitting an arrow into the string.
Greenstand returns to the moment at Gloin's words. "Let's see if dwarf skulls are truly as hard as tales make them."
Gimli murmurs the Dwarvish equivalent of ''Lemme at 'em''
Minabel nods. She is as ready as she will ever be.
Gilglir nods to Gloin and takes a few steps up the staircase, just far enough that he can glance into the next room.
Taylarin nods, readying her bow.
Gilglir looks back at the others and motions them to follow him as he makes his way up the stairs into the next room.
Taylarin follows after Gilglir with silent steps.
Bialver steps softly after the Forstórr Ljósálfr
Maedhis motions for the others to follow, intending to take the rear.
Greenstand follows Gilglir, trying trying very hard to focus on the upcoming fight and not let his mind wander.
Trumodir comes next, somewhat distracted by the musty smells mixed with something else that she can't identify

As the company makes their way up the stairs, they come into another room. This one has an open door on the far wall, as well as arrow-slits in two of the walls. The Dwarven shouts are very loud now, coming through the door. It appears that the door leads out onto the top of the gate.
Gloin edges his way to the door and glances around the jamb. He looks back to the others and gestures to either side of the door.
Gimli stands to the right of the doorway, as close to the jamb as he can be and remain unseen
Maedhis turns to put her back against the wall, allowing her to make sure that no one comes up behind them while still climbing the stairs.
Taylarin keeps to the rear, ready to follow or shoot any Dourhands than come through the door.
Bialver plasters his back against the wall, watching Tru's face while her nose questions the air
Greenstand peeks through one of the arrow slits.
Minabel stands behind Greenstand, hoping to catch a sign of the fight above over his shoulder.
Gilglir moves to one side of the door and readies himself.
Maedhis moves to the other side of the door, arrow at the ready. Listening, it seems to her that the Dwarven voices come from outside and then are answered from below. A duet in insults.

Gloin nods to the others, then suddenly hefts his axe and charges through the door, shouting 'Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!'
An answering shout comes from the Longbeards outside the gate, followed by a renewed assault by the battering rams. There is a clash of metal on metal, and Gloin gives a shout of frustration.
Maedhis pivots quickly to look out the door, checking for targets.
As the others look out the door, they see a path along the top of a wall, perhaps 15 wide with a waist-high wall to their left. The wall runs for 60 feet before ending at a tower much like the one they are in now. Several Dwarves are scattered across the bridge, turning to look at the commotion, while Gloin is engaged with the nearest foe.
Trumodir tries to get a sense of what the others may be encountering up ahead. She is behind most of the company and loath to plunge into battle when so many of her own allies are standing between her and the enemy.
Maedhis begins firing at the nearest Dwarf not battling Glóin.
Gilglir wheels around and charges through the door, Anglaer raised and the fire of battle gleaming in his eyes. With a shout of 'an Doriath!', the Elf charges into the fray.
Bialver is torn between staying by his kinswoman, and shouldering ahead to start swinging. He notices that Gimli has hesitated not at all, and is already working hard with his axe
Greenstand leaps out after Gloin, and panics in his haste, forgetting all the battle cries he had worked so hard on. All he can think to shout is, "Combe and get it!" as he takes a swing at a dwarf near the edge of the bridge.

Gilglir rushes to Gloin's aid and manages to drive his foe back a step. However, he is unable to get a strike in, as the Dwarf is in the way.
Minabel finds a corner where she can take cover and takes aim at the closest Dourhand to her. Minabel takes aim at a particularly arrogant looking Dourhand and lets fly an arrow. The arrow grazes his cheek before striking the wall behind him.
Maedhis finds her shots blocked by the others in her party. She runs quickly through the door and leaps onto the parapet to give herself a clear line of fire. Her bow sings a lovely melody as she fires steadily. A gust of wind takes Maethis' arrow and it flies away, landing somewhere inside the keep.
Trumodir is waiting for a clear shot through the doorway once the rest of the company ahead of her are all the way through
Taylarin moves through the door, swinging around to take aim at the Dourhand attacking Gloin, and fires. Her arrow flies true and drives deep into the Dourhand's eye. The Dwarf falls to the ground, his hammer falling from his lifeless hands.
Gimli's rush bears him past his father and into the fray, but his reckless attack goes wide and his foe takes a step back.
Greenstand charges forward and follows Gimli, but his blow also goes wide as the dwarf steps back to avoid the axe-blow.
Trumodir finally sees the opening through the doorway that she's been waiting for and rushes out, roaring with all her might, swinging her axe violently as she aims for the nearest Dourhand. As she runs forward, her foot slips on a patch of ice and she goes down, her axe clattering on the stone.

Gilglir sees that the nearest Dourhands are already handled, and charges towards the Dwarf seemingly in charge of the defence, intent on stopping him raising a cry for more guards. He swings Anglaer in a savage blow at the Dwarf's neck. His blow goes wild as the Dwarf raises his axe haft to guard himself.
The Dourhand gives a grin and pushes back against the Elf's charge, forcing him towards the inner edge of the wall. Gilglir plants his feet and stops himself being pushed off the wall. He and the Dwarf sway back and forth, weapons locked.
Greenstand realizes that simply hitting the armored dwarves with his staff is unlikely to work, and tries using it instead to push one of the Dourhands towards the edge of the wall. His blow forces the Dwarf back a step or two, but isn't enough to push him off the edge. He is caught flat-footed for a moment, though.
Taylarin nocks an arrow, leaping up onto the wall in the hopes of finding a better vantage point to fire on the dwarf locked in combat with Gilglir. She pauses until an opportunity presents itself to not hit Gilglir and fires. Her arrow flies across the wall and pierces the back of the Dwarf's gauntleted hand. He gives a cry of pain and drops his axe as he pulls the arrow out of the thick leathers and gives his hand a couple of shakes.
Trumodir peers ahead, trying to make out friends and enemies in the scuffle ahead of her. She notices the dwarf that was knocked off balance and is staggering and lifts her bow, knocks an arrow, and shoots, hoping her bad eyesight doesn't play her ill. The Dwarf catches sight of Trumodir aiming at him, and quickly tries to duck out of the way of her arrow. He slips on the snow and falls on the stone as the arrow goes whistling over his head.
Maedhis hesitates, looking from the dwarf that was sparring with Gilglir to the one pushed by Greenstand, trying to decide which was the better target. As the first dwarf sprawls on the ground, she aims at him and lets fly. As the Dwarf climbs to his feet, trying to keep his defences up against the Man and the Dwarf facing him, he looks up just in time to catch Maedhis' arrow in his throat. He goes down again with a wet gurgle.

One of the Dourhands on the far side of the bridge hefts a hammer and rushes towards the Elf fighting with his captain. He swings his hammer in a wide arc, hoping to catch the enemy off his guard as he's locked in combat. Gilglir catches sight of the Dwarf out of the corner of his eye, and raises his shield to take the hammerblow.
The one remaining Dourhand on the near side of the wall looks at the two fighters nearest him, and draws a handaxe from his belt, rushing towards them with a yell. At the same time, the other two dwarves on the far side shift their aim from the Longbeards below to the new enemies on the wall, bending their bows.
Gimli catches the blow from the axe on the haft of his own axe, forcing the Dourhand back. Meanwhile, two arrows fly towards the company. One strikes harmlessly against the tower behind them, but the other strikes Maedhis in the upper arm.
Gimli bellows and stares down his opponent, using his ax to try to push the Dourhand over the wall. Her bears his opponent back towards the edge of the wall, where he catches against the parapet. As they waver for a moment, strength matched against strength, Gimli gives a shout of 'Baruk Khazad!' and kicks the Dourhand in the chest. The other Dwarf topples with a cry and lands on the outside of the wall. A fierce shout goes up from the Longbeards outside. If the Dourhand survived the fall, he certainly didn't survive the vengeance of the Longbeards.

Minabel takes aim at the captain of the Dourhand's head and lets fly a particularly thick arrow with a large tipped head. The arrow grazes the side of the captain's helm, striking sparks from the metal band about the brow. However, it does nothing but cause the Dwarf to take a step back in surprise before stooping to grasp for the axe he had let drop.
Seeing their enemies begin to fall, Gloin gives a shout in Dwarvish which is answered by the Dourhands from below, who begin to beat on the doors with their rams again. As they do, Gloin raises his axe and rushes to Gilglir's side, aiming a vicious blow at the captain on their foes. The captain stooping for his axe likely saved his life, as Gloin's strike would have cleaved his head where he stood. As it is, the Dourhand grabs his axe and rolls to one side across the wall, barely avoiding the Dwarf-lord's back-swing.
As the Dourhand rolls to his feet, he aims an upward strike with his axe at Gloin, spitting a curse at him in Dwarvish. Gloin takes a step back to let the blow pass harmlessly before his face as he replies to the Dourhand with just as much venom.
Bialver, seeing a chance to repay the many risks the Tall Elf has taken on behalf of the fellowship make a mad berserker's rush, crying "(V) The Vales to the Allvöxtuligr Ljósálfr at Bay!" and takes a mighty swing. The Beorning's mad charge pans out, as his axe-blow bites deep into the Dourhand's arm, though it catches somewhat on the mail. The Dwarf gives a shout of pain and drops his axe again, this time from nerveless fingers, as he seems to be having trouble closing his hand.

Gilglir laughs as Bialver strikes a blow on the Dourhand captain. He presses the advantage and follows the Beorning's axe-blow with a strike from Anglaer. Gilglir's sword strikes true, as the Dourhand's head goes flying from his shoulders. The body slumps in a heap as the Elf raises his shield to defend against their remaining foes.
Greenstand charges the nearest archer and leaps to bring his staff down as hard as he may on the dwarf's head. "Back into the ground with you!" he shouts. The archer watches Greenstand's charge across the wall and almost casually leans out of the way of the blow. The Dwarf gives a wicked grin as he readies an arrow.
Taylarin looks between the remaining foes and lifts her bow, arrow nocked. She takes aim at the dwarf preparing to fire on Greenstand and releases her shot. Greenstand's attacker never gets a chance to loose his arrow, as Taylarin's shot comes flying over the heads of the group before burying itself in his eye. The Dwarf crumples without a sound.
Trumodir peers out at the remaining dourhands being engaged and aims for one who isn't near anyone in her company. She lifts her axe in a swinging arc and rushes out with a roar to attack the one that seems furthest from any others. Her charge carries her all the way across the wall. Unfortunately, it's quite clear to her foe that she is coming for him, so he easily readies himself for the blow and ducks out of the way of the axe.
Maedhis shakes her head, pushing away the sudden burst of pain. She takes a steadying breath and aims at the archer dodging away from Trumodir. As she looses her arrow, a sudden gust of wind blows snow into her eyes, and she shoots wildly. The arrow arcs off the side of the wall and vanishes among the stones of the fortress.

As the Dourhand captain goes down, the remaining hammer-bearer eyes the Elf with some trepidation. He turns instead towards Gloin and swings his maul in a wide arc, catching the Longbeard in the chest. Gloin stumbles back, clearly staggered from the blow as the breath is knocked out of him.
Greenstand shouts, "Lord Gloin!"
Trumodir turns around at Green's shout and tries to make out what happened.
The archer raises his bow and shoots an arrow at the Beorning bearing down on him. As she turns at the shout, the arrow strikes her in the shoulder, sticking in her leathers. Trumodir gasps, but turns back and refocuses her attention on the dwarf. He has truly aroused her anger and she is intent on making a kill.
Gimli howls in anger as he sees his father take a blow, charging towards the warrior who just landed the blow on his dear dad. Raising his shield and then his hammer, he gives a dwarven war cry and tries to bowl over the archer. His charge catches his foe by surprise. As the Dwarf comes to his father's aid, the Dourhand catches a blow from Gimli's axe. Though not enough to strike a wound, the Dourhand is knocked to the ground by the force of the blow.
Minabel takes aim at the hammer bearer- furious that he has done so much damage. With a side glance at Tay, she lets fly a barbed arrow at the Dourhand's forehead. The Dourhand catches sight of Minabel aiming at him, and manages to barely roll out of the way of the arrow as it skips off the stone next to his head.
Gloin takes a step back as the wind is knocked out of him. As he catches his breath, he raises his axe over his head, aiming a blow at the Dourhand before him. Unfortunately, Gloin aims for where the Dourhand was, as the Dwarf rolls out of the way of the arrow. By chance, he also misses the axe-blow.
Bialver dithers for a moment, trying to figure out whether to stand shoulder-to-ribcage with the Foraðshár Ljósálfr, or try and flank the remaining Dourhand while he’s distracted. He decides that Club vs Hammer is his best bet, and replaces Kinnhöggva with his favorite club, Apaldrskylfa. He lunges to one side and swings The Beorning's blow goes wild as his foot slips in the snow on top of the wall. The club gives a resounding crack as it strikes the stone.

Gilglir aims a strike at the foe before him, hoping to end the fight quickly. His blow misses as well, as the Elf's allies cluster too closely around the foe to safely strike at him.
Greenstand is undeterred by his previous miss, and angry about the attack on Gloin. In his fury, he rushes toward the final archer, and can't even come up with a quip, but rather just roars his frustration as he swings his staff. The archer seems pleased with himself at his attack on the woman in front of him. So much so that he fails to notice the angry man running towards him until it is too late to dodge the blow from his staff. There is a wet crack as the Dwarf falls with a broken neck.
Taylarin nocks another arrow and takes aim at the dwarf Gilglir and the others are trying to end hopping up onto the wall for a better vantage point. Taking careful aim to not hit her companions, she fires. Her arrow flies between the shoulders of Gilglir and Bialver before burying itself in the throat of the Dourhand as he begins to climb back to his feet.

As the last Dourhand falls, Gloin gives a shout in Dwarvish to his soldiers below. As a cheer goes up, he turns to the others. 'Come, guickly! We need to get the gate open before more Dourhands come to join the party!' With that, he heads towards the other tower.
Greenstand looks around at Gloin and his other companions. "Is everyone ok?" he asks, as he starts after the dwarf.
Trumodir jumps down from the wall and head toward the others.
Bialver tucks his club into its baldric, shrugs, and follows
Maedhis jumps down from the parapet, wincing a little as her arm feels the jolt. She starts to follow Lord Glóin across the open area.
Gilglir gives the others in the company an appraising glance as he follows the dwarf-lord into the other tower.


Hey there, folks. I realize I've neglected this thread for a while, but it seems like an update to the forum software is refusing to allow me to upload posts of more than 10,000 characters. Given that a short log easily runs upwards of 8000 characters and that combat-heavy ones like the next ones can go over 25,000 characters, I'm going to have to stop posting to this forum.

However, that doesn't mean I'm stopping posting logs. If you want to follow the continuing adventures of our intrepid band, go to for periodic updates.