The Fourth Age

Memories of the Dead
Shadows of Angmar, Part 3

The Shadows of Angmar: Memories of the Dead

The Undertowers Adventuring Company travelled to the Barrow Downs on a gamble. Éowyn Fairbairn pointed to a passage in the Red Book of Westmarch where Meriadoc Brandybuck awoke from slumber after he was dragged into a tomb by the barrow wights. In his dreams, he had relived the memories of the one buried in the tomb. Éowyn suggested that if they were to enter the old tombs in the Barrow Downs, they might relive the memories of the kings and heroes of Cardolan, and in those memories they might find clues as to the locations of the morgul blades.

First they discovered the tomb of Beregorn, one of the last kings of Cardolan. His body was raised as a barrow wight, which the companions defeated. Nawfal laid upon the tomb and relived one of Beregorn’s last memories. As he lay on his deathbed, Argeleb of Arthedain sent an embassy demanding that he recognize Arthedain’s suzerainty, as it was the only of the three kingdoms split from old Arnor that was still ruled over by a descendant of Isildur. During the discussion, one of Beregorn’s advisors mentioned that Findegil did not succeed in destroying all of Angmar’s caches.

Without, the fog on the Barrow Downs separated the companions. A fell wraith sent by the Dark Lord to hunt the company caught Thorondir and attacked him. The battle attracted the other companions, who together were able to defeat the wraith, who swore that the Dark Lord would send more like him until they were destroyed.

Beregorn’s last memory directed them to the barrow of Findegil, a captain of Cardolan. This tomb, too, was guarded by a barrow wight. There Éowyn laid upon the tomb. Her dreams relived the fall of Findegil as he and the soldiers under his command attacked a watchtower guarding the path to Carn Dûm, the capital of Angmar. In those watchtowers, the Witch-realm stored their weapons caches. It was Findegil’s mission to destroy those caches, and in particular the morgul blades kept there. They had destroyed several, but here they faced endless waves of orcs. Findegil was slain. With his dying breath, Findegil ordered his men to fall back, that Yiltîg must lead them back home.

The company next sought out the barrow of Yiltîg, a man of Rhudaur who turned against his kingdom when it allied itself with Angmar and acted as Findegil’s guide to destroy the Witch-realm’s most potent weapons. Yiltîg led the survivors back down the Frozen Path, and in the end turned to face the orcs who hunted them at a narrow pass so that the men of Cardolan could make it back home with their warning: not all of Angmar’s morgul blades had been destroyed, and worse, Angmar was excavating tunnels into the ancient Pits of Utumno.

From Yiltîg’s memories, the company knew where the remaining morgul blades were, and how to navigate the Frozen Path to reach them. If this new Dark Lord possessed these morgul blades, did he control the ruins of Carn Dûm? And if he did, was he going to gain access to the Pits of Utumno, that hell from the First Age where Morgoth created orcs, trolls, dragons, and all the other great evils of Middle-earth? What other ancient evils might remain in those dark, festering pits? Winter was approaching, though, so the companions separated to go home, promising to meet again in the spring to mount an expedition to Carn Dûm.

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Ghosts of Eregion
Shadows of Angmar, Part 2

The Shadows of Angmar: Ghosts of Eregion

The Undertowers Adventuring Company discovered the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil, the ancient capital of Eregion. A monstrous troll had taken up residence there, and nearly defeated them, but the company slew him instead. They discovered several treasures within, including a crown from fallen Númenór and 30 ells of hithlain rope woven by the Noldorin elves. Nawfal discovered a black spear surrounded by Fëanorian runes set in mithral explaining that this was the spear of an evil king of the Easterlings named Aglarân. He was given a ring of power by Sauron and transformed into one of his Nazg&ucircl — indeed, the chief among them, the Lord of the Ringwraiths. This magical weapon was what the company had come seeking: a weapon with which they could fight the ghosts and wraiths that lay before them.

Within the ruins, they found a wraith before a special forge. It was Gelmir, once one of the greatest smiths of Eregion. He said that a fell rite pulled his lord, Celebrimbor, back to Middle-earth. Gelmir was drawn back to Middle-earth with him, but could not discover his lord’s fate. Instead, he was bound to this anvil: a special anvil that he made to Celebrimbor’s specifications to help his lord forge the rings of power for Sauron. Dwalin revealed that he had with him Thráin’s Ring. Gelmir possessed him and together they remade the ring, ridding it of the Enemy’s influence. Gelmir did not leave Dwalin, though; he wanted to find Celebrimbor and recover as many of the rings of power as still remained to remake them as well.

Pursued by wargs and vampires, the company fled from the ruins of Ost. Once away, Éowyn Fairbairn pointed to a passage in the Red Book of Westmarch where Meriadoc Brandybuck awoke from slumber after he was dragged into a tomb by the barrow wights. In his dreams, he had relived the memories of the one buried in the tomb. Éowyn suggested that if they were to enter the old tombs in the Barrow Downs, they might relive the memories of the kings and heroes of Cardolan, and in those memories they might find clues as to the locations of the morgul blades.

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Old Treasures and Ancient Lore
Shadows of Angmar, Part 1

The Shadows of Angmar: Old Treasures & Ancient Lore

On Mid-year’s Day, the Undertowers Adventuring Company met in Bree to undertake a long and dangerous mission. Their previous adventure in Minas Tirith revealed a far-flung and powerful Melkorist cult in possession of morgul blades — evil artifacts of Angmar that turned those cut by them into wraiths, bound to the will of the blade’s master. The fellowship resolved that they must discover the means by which the cult had gained possession of such blades, and put a stop to it. They knew that this would likely put them in the path of wraiths, which could not be harmed by any weapons they possessed. And so, before they could confront their enemies directly, they would need to explore the ruins of Arnor to find ancient treasures that would give them a chance to defeat their enemies.

The fellowship rode south and east towards Hollin, which was once the elven kingdom of Eregion, the famed elf-smiths who worked alongside the dwarves of Khazad-dûm to forge many of the greatest items ever seen in Middle Earth. Along the way they tried to help a child who had fallen into a well, apparently tricked by a ghost. Things seemed to be going well until the ghost attacked again. The girl hit her head, and not all of Garivald’s medicine could heal her.

The fellowship passed through the growing city of Tharbad, and explored the nearby falls after hearing the stories of merchants who hid their treasures there when the city had fallen in the Third Age. They fought the great marsh ogre that lurked there and discovered the treasure, but they found no ancient weapons among them that could harm a wraith.

They came to Hollin, and realizing how close they were to Khazad-dûm, decided to travel there. Dwalin compared records only recently rediscovered by his kin re-occupying their ancient home, and traced the old names of rivers and mountains to conclude that the old capital of Eregion must lay where the rivers Sirannon and Glanduin meet.

They went to that region and began exploring. They were attacked by wargs and won that battle, but one escaped, posing the threat that more would come later. Soon, though, they discovered the ruins of an ancient elvish city, and descended into the dark of Ost-in-Edhil.

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The Cult
The New Shadow, Part 2

The New Shadow: The Cult

While Éowyn Fairbairn and Thorondir apprehended Qusay eb Hannad at the Harlond, Dwalin, Garivald, and Nawfal ambushed the cultist who met with the young “orcs” terrorizing the streets of Minas Tirith. He came with a morgul blade, intent on sacrificing one of their number to turn him into a wraith bound to their service. This terrifying revelation meant that the cult had dug up artifacts from Angmar, and may have any number of wraiths already bound to them.

Afterwards, the fellowship sought out Saelon, son of Duilin at the Old Guesthouse. He offered to bring them in to a cult ceremony that night. Before that could happen, though, Éowyn was summoned by Hallas, son of Halbarad, who lay in the Halls of Healing after being attacked. The guard were looking for Gilraen for information about the assault. An attack on one of the king’s counsellors was taken very seriously, and Hallas worried that the king would resort to having Gilraen tortured for information. He asked Éowyn and her fellowship to find Gilraen before the king’s men did. They eventually did find her, hiding out in the basement of the shop owned by her suitor, Finduilas. Dwalin used his runes to help hide her.

As night fell, they met with Saelon and went to a manor on the sixth tier of the city, where the congregants gathered in the basement to sacrifice an elf. They stopped the ritual, though, and defeated the cultists, revealing Finduilas among them. Saelon intended to torture him, but the fellowship urged him to let them try a different way. They persuaded Finduilas to reveal everything he knew. He was the go-between for the cult. Through him, they had infiltrated the anti-monarchist movement and the growing rebellion within it. They hoped to defeat this movement, and give credit to one of their own number: Hallas. As Gilraen’s suitor, Finduilas could gather information on the rebellion, and as Hallas’s furrier, he could bring that information to him. With each victory against the rebellion, Hallas advanced in the court. Melkor and Sauron both yearned to be called “lord” more than anything else, but for Herumor, the goal is power, not vanity — even if he must rule from the shadows.

Dwalin had previously discovered the name of the new “dark lord,” Herumor, in ancient records — he and another Black Númenórean lord called Fuinur, had become great lords among the Haradrim after the fall of Númenór, and spread the faith of Melkor among them. Dwalin had presumed that this new Herumor had picked up the name from Haradrim histories, but when Thorondir revealed the existence of dark rites whereby a man might extend his life by bathing in elf blood, the fellowship realized that they may indeed be dealing with a Black Númenórean lord over three thousand years old.

The discovery also revealed again the extent of Herumor’s power: the cult regularly paid bandits near Greenleaves to kidnap wood elves and send them south to Minas Tirith for these dark ceremonies, meaning their influence stretched from the far north and west of Angmar, to the far north and east of Greenleaves, south even to King Eldarion’s court in Minas Tirith.

That last, however, the fellowship put a stop to. Saelon revealed himself a secret agent of the king working to uproot the cult and the rebels. Though much of the rebel conspiracy remained, with the fellowship’s help, they managed to stop the Melkorist cult in Minas Tirith, sending Hallas and Finduilas into exile in Rhûn.

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The Rebellion
The New Shadow, Part 1

The New Shadow: The Rebellion

Borlas, son of Beregond was not a wealthy man, but he had been a Captain of the White Guard, close to the Prince of Ithilien. He knew many people in Gondor and could make many valuable introductions, and so Éowyn Fairbairn traveled to his home in Pen-arduin to seek his patronage. Borlas expressed his concern for his son’s childhood friend, Saelon, son of Duilin, believing that he’d gotten himself mixed up in something sinister in Minas Tirith.

Meeting at the Undertowers Adventuring Company office in Minas Tirith, Thorondir and Garivald the Healer sought out Duilbarad, son of Duinhir to seek his support for the Rangers of Ithilien and their efforts to help restore the wastelands of Mordor. Duilbarad expressed support for their efforts, but said that the support that they really needed could only come from the king. If more power rested with a Council of Lords, as the anti-monarchists suggest, then he could apply pressure to help them. He asked them to attend a party the following night, and to invite their companions as well, so that they could relate their adventures in Khazad-dûm, and he could introduce them to some powerful and wealthy lords. The party ended on a sour note, though, when Duilbarad revealed his fighting pit to entertain his guests with a caragor fight.

A protest along Lampwrights’ Street passed the door of the Undertowers Adventuring Company office. They helped keep it from getting out of control, as some young people tried to instigate a riot. Thorondir met Gilraen, the leader of the rally, while Nawfal and Garivald chased down the instigators. They were members of a small street gang that dressed as orcs to rob, vandalize, and intimidate. They revealed their connection to a cultist who promised to teach them sorcery in return for their obedience in tasks like turning the rally into a riot.

Meanwhile, Hallas, son of Halbarad sought out Éowyn Fairbairn after meeting her at Duilbarad’s party, and sought her help in rooting out a conspiracy in the anti-monarchist movement plotting rebellion. He knew that another of the party’s attendees, a Haradrim merchant named Qusay eb Hannad, was in fact a representative of the pirate lord Jibran the Red. The rebels hoped that Jibran’s pirate fleet would provide a navy for their rebellion. He urged Éowyn to stop Qusay before he made it out to sea.

The young “orcs” would meet with the cultist on the same night that Qusay would slip out to sea, so the fellowship split themselves into two groups: Dwalin, Nawfal, and Garivald to catch the cultist, while Éowyn and Thorondir would stop Qusay.

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The Warchief
Expedition to Moria, Part 3

Expedition to Moria: The Warchief

The Undertowers Adventuring Company made weapons in secret and fomented rebellion among Gazhûl’s dwarven slaves. They led them in an uprising against the orcs. Amidst the fighting, Gazhûl emerged to fight the instigators personally. With his control on the line, Gazhûl faced Dwalin, Éowyn, Garivald, Nawfal, and Thorondir alone. He was defeated, and when he fell, there was an ominous burst of flame that left his body. Dwalin took the ring that he wore around his neck — Thráin’s Ring.

The dwarves believed that Thráin’s Ring’s was taken by Azog before the Battle of Azanulbizar, and that it remained in Moria through the centuries that followed. None knew that Thráin had escaped and been taken by the Necromancer, and that his ring had passed back into Sauron’s possession. However, by chance, the Undertowers Adventuring Company had come to Moria just as “the Eye” had come to Gazhûl as the emissary of a new “dark lord,” presenting Thráin’s Ring as a token, placing the ring within their grasp despite their mistake.

When they had first entered Moria, Tauriel sent word to Thranduil, who passed the news along to Durin VII, knowing the growing expectations among his people to mount an expedition to retake Khazad-dûm. The King Under the Mountain knew that his hand was forced, and began marching south with an army. The king arrived to find Khazad-dûm retaken by a dwarven slave revolt already hunting the last orc survivors in the deep tunnels. His army moved in to re-establish their kingdom. Durin named Dwalin his Royal Ringbearer, responsible for the stewardship of Thráin’s Ring, which joined the Arkenstone and his crown as the symbols of his office and authority. The Undertowers Adventuring Company spent the following winter in Khazad-dûm, aiding the dwarves in re-inhabiting their ancient halls.

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The Orcs of Moria
Expedition to Moria, Part 2

Expedition to Moria: The Orcs of Moria

The fellowship quickly discovered that Moria remained the dominion of orcs even in the Fourth Age. They heard of their vicious warchief, Gazhûl, the father of Azog the Defiler who ruled from Mount Gundabad in the Third Age, and the grandfather of Azog’s son Bolg, who was slain at the Battle of Five Armies.

Following the descriptions from the Red Book of Westmarch, Éowyn Fairbairn led her companions to the seventh level of Khazad-dûm, to the Chamber of Mazarbul. It was the seat of Balin in the days of his expedition, and there he was entombed, and after that the redoubt of the Fellowship of the Ring when they passed through the mines. Dwalin refortified it and protected it with magical dwarven runes, and even made comfortable lodgings there for the fellowship. From this base, the fellowship began to venture forth and explore the orc-infested kingdom of the dwarves.

As he snuck through the tunnels, Nawfal — who knows the Black Speech of the orcs and could understand their clacking gossip — overheard them speaking of a visit from “the Eye,” sent to their warchief Gazhûl by a new “Dark Lord” that he has been forced to serve. The destruction of the One Ring broke Sauron’s power forever, but as one of the maiar he can never be destroyed altogether. He roams Middle-earth as a shadow, a wraith — bereft of power, perhaps, but not of memory or secrets. That in this state he has been reduced to the role of a messenger and servant to a new “Dark Lord,” and is being sent to individuals like Gazhûl to recruit them to this master’s cause, is chilling news, indeed.

Dwalin wanted to go to Moria to recover Thráin’s ring, one of the seven given to the dwarf lords by Sauron in the Second Age. He believed, as most did, that it was taken by Azog at the Battle of Azanulbizar and remained somewhere in Moria. In fact, Thráin was captured by Sauron, then disguised as the Necromancer of Dol Guldur, who took back the ring. Now, though, Sauron has brought the ring back to Moria as a gift to Gazhûl to entice him into the service of his new master, placing the object of Dwalin’s desire — entirely by chance — within his grasp.

Lurking through the tunnels, Nawfal killed one of the uruk-hai commanding the orcs named Zagrat the Bone Collector. He made a gruesome display of Zagrat’s body to terrorize the orcs who found him. Éowyn and Garivald concocted a strong poison, and Thorondir made it seem that another uruk-hai, Maugor Heart-Eater, was responsible, so that the orcs turned upon him brutally.

The fellowship discovered that the orcs keep dwarven slaves, employed in working subterranean farms of slimes, molds, and fungi, and sometimes use them even as livestock. They began stealing what arms they could from the orcs to prepare them to rise up against their oppressors.

Nawfal caught a glimpse of Marroc Fairbairn robbing an orc treasure room, and though he could not reach him for the orcs that stood between them, he confirmed at once that Éowyn was right that her brother entered Moria, and that he was alive and active within its halls.

The fellowship struck out against one of the cave trolls still living within the mines. They slew a patrol of orcs as well, leaving evidence to the orcs that they were hunted in their own homes — that a secret war had begun against them in the shadows of Moria.

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The Dimrill Gate
Expedition to Moria, Part 1

Expedition to Moria: The Dimrill Gate

When Dwalin, son of Dori came to Minas Tirith, the library was abuzz with the news that Éowyn and Marroc Fairbairn had come to the White City, bringing with them the Red Book of Westmarch — the firsthand account of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins of the War of the Ring, as well as Bilbo’s translations of many elvish legends and religious texts. Dwalin met them and learned of their business: the Undertowers Adventuring Company. He proposed to them an expedition to Moria. The Red Book told of the defeat of Durin’s Bane by Gandalf, and it seemed reasonable to think that the orcs, too, may be gone by now. Through the winter, Éowyn recruited three other adventurers to join their fellowship: Garivald the Healer, Thorondir, son of Thorongil, and Nawfal of Núrn. They spent the winter planning and preparing for their adventure. When spring broke, they set out upon the Great Western Road, towards Edoras.

As they passed by Drúadan Forest, Garivald sang with the birds, who called out the Wood Woses. Thorondir was honored to meet them and trade lore with them. A few days later, they came upon a merchant on the road named Mablung, son of Malbeth, who complained that King Elessar’s ban on any entering that forest now made it a safe haven for the savages to mount violent raids upon the people. However, the company was suspicious of the merchant’s story, and refused to enter the forest to hunt down Wood Woses, no matter how much coin he offered. Realizing that these wanderers would not help him, and that they might more likely turn upon him, Mablung hurried away.

At Edoras, the company acquired ponies and turned north and east, toward the Entwade. In the Wolds, they spent a night with a poor cowherd’s family. They had trouble crossing the Limlight, but Marroc and Dwalin discovered a Balchoth arrowhead on the old battlefield at the Field of Celebrant.

As they entered Lothlórien, they were surrounded by elven scouts led by Tauriel, but Marroc slipped away. She forbade the company from entering Moria, telling them that a sizable force of orcs still lived there, led by a great and terrible warchief rumored to have survived since the Second Age. Nonetheless, Dwalin insisted on at least seeing the Dimrill Gate before he left, after coming so far. Éowyn felt sure that Marroc would find a way into the mines. As the elves escorted them to the gate, she knew that if she did not break her promise to the elves at that moment and rush into the mines, she would not have another chance, and would be forced to abandon her quest — and quite likely her brother, as well. When she ran, the others rushed in after her without time for deliberation or thought. The elves refused to follow them in.

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