Elves! Haarith and the Scorpion’s sting

With a way-point taken from the squat sons of Durin, Haarith and his men had taken a huge step towards creating great trade relations with the Orcs of the Misty Mountains. Once the dwarves fled, Haarith and his men established a perimeter and held their positions.

Their orders were to await the arrival of a band of orcs who would take control of the camp from there. They waited a week, until a decent crowd of Goblins, including the one with the message before, who would be taking refuge for now.

“I will pray to the ancestors that you do not forget who it was that took this land for your masters, imp,” Haarith snapped at the tiny goblin atop the warg. Then, He gestured to a large building, on which the sign of the scorpion of Abrakhan had been scrawled in purple and gold paint. “But my spear-brother Yazan does not trust the ancestors that much.”

“You cur!” The goblin dismounted, more or less falling on his face. How he has taken a leadership position if any kind could not be imagined. “You insult me and my master by leaving this here! We know who to pay when the time comes. You’ll get your gold in the south. But now you have made this ruin an obvious sign of the Harad having been here. Any passers by will see it. Makes it an obvious  target for…”

Haarith stepped to the goblin with frightening speed, his new poisoned spear to the throat of the runt, interrupting him. “Maybe that will be all the more reason for you and your kin to keep a better eye out for it this time rather than falling to dwarfs axes.”

Bakr and Abaan came to back their leader, but again Yazvan intervened. “We’ve cleared the land and claimed it in our own way. If your masters can’t deal with a little flair, they can take that up with The Golden King. This is our culture and we will do as we please at victory.”

“Ugh… fair enough.” spat the goblin. “Here’s more orders. Deliver this  to our kin in the east, in the southern forests of the Great forest near Dol Guldur. The map will tell you where to go.”

Haarith took the map. “We can find the way. ” With that, Haarith mounted his new horse and he and his men went down the road. Their message was meant to be delivered as soon as possible. It was given to Bakr for safe keeping as they traveled the road. And it was during this journey that the Scorpion’s Sting came upon their next battle.

It was near a small stream that Harad warriors came across a small band of High Elves… fully armored… they could see it in their eyes they were in need of the same type of speed that was needed by the Harad. A messenger was on its way to someone with a letter of great import. The Haradrim quickly formed up and stood their ground, firing at the one archer of the enemy. These prim and proper elves could not be brought down by arrows. Multiple volleys did nothing. So it was that Haarith could not wait any more. He charged in with his mount and with that he was ready to ride down this archer. His men stayed back to be able to take some shots at the enemy. It was then that the elves charged the hasty lieutenant of Harad, surrounding him and his horse.

Haarith was ready, though… but  it was then that his brashness was met with a fateful moment. Na’Man saw a chance to bring down the elf scum and shot his bow… but a sudden slip of the finger lead to a shot going right through the arm of Haarith’s left arm… and he fell from his horse, and the horse fled. Na’Man saw his leader fall in horror. He would get the lash for that…

This was the beginning of the end of battle. Bakr and Abaan and the rest charged in … Bakr stayed in the back, knowing his message was more important than his leader’s life.

One by one, the rest of them succumbed to the the enemy until only Bakr and Na’man were left… but the message had to be delivered. Bakr and Na’man retreated as quickly as they could, being chased by the fleet feet of the Elves behind them. They ran and ran and finally dove into the river beside them and were swept down-stream. The swift river would nearly drown them, but it sped them away so the elves could not give chase.

Bakr and Na’man eventually made their way near the battle field, where they met their limping and bleeding friends. When the Haradrim finally made their way to a cave in the Misty Mountains, They tended their wounds. Haarith could barely use this arm, and so they slung it.

When they had all sat themselves down to rest, Haarith finally spoke his mind. “Your incompetence today cannot be over stated!” he shouted. “And you!” He turned to Na’man. “Your shotty bow work could have killed me! I hope you are prepared to deal with the consequences!” Haarith unstrung his bow, now useless to him with a wounded arm. “Bakr, Abaan. Bind him.” They used the bow string to tie his hands to a tree. Haarith manically began stripping the armor and clothes from his back. The horn, ivory and sinew of the Haradrim Bow whistled as the wounded leader beat the bare back of his underling. Once. Twice. Seven times. Ten times. Fifteen. Twenty. Twenty-five. With one more mighty THWACK! the bow was shattered. The young warrior’s back was bleeding profusely. But no tears came from the perpetrator. This was not the time to show weakness. The warriors of Harad do no show fear. They have no other option but to take their beatings.

“Let that be a lesson to the rest of you.” Haarith was seething. The incompetence! The utter stupidity! The only man it seems he could count on was Bakr. “I hope you will learn from this… failure.” And so he stormed off to be alone.

Haarith was livid. What would he tell the masters back home? Fortunately the message was still in their possession, anything less than victory is a loss in the eyes of the Golden King of Abrakhan, and  “We need more men. I won’t be much use with one arm, mounted or no! and we still must deliver this message to the Orcs of Dol Guldur.” He contemplated for over an hour , always coming back to what sort of punishment could be received from his masters on his return. But he also came back to another thought. “We need more men.”

Then he made quick letter in the language of his people. He went back to his men. “Stay here, Mumak, dung. I will return. Bakr, you take the lead.” At this Abaan eyed his rival up and down.

With that, Haarith mounted up and rode back to the Way point from which they came. After a few hours ride, he saw the orcs, lounging about. “So this how they repay our labor to return this place to them,” he thought. “Vermin. A drunken, slothful recline, as if after a hard slog. Meanwhile, we find ourselves against an enemy we barely know!“ But he kept his mouth shut for the moment. Yazan’s wisdom had taught him at least some things.

“Welcome back, Southron!” said the stunted Goblin, feeding his warg. “What happened to you?” he croaked, seeing the arm wound. then he began trembling and pulled his knife, realizing that this could mean a fight nearby. “Where are your men? are there more out there?”

“It doesn’t matter. The elven filth are gone. I bring a message to be sent to my masters in Abrakhan. Can you get it there?”

“Yes i can. What is it for?”

“That is for me to know, alone.”

“Very well. We’ll send it as quick as we can. No promises,” he said as he turned to hand the message to a warg-mounted courier. “They way south is crawling with Whiteskins, both horse lords and the bastards with the Tree. Are you sure there’s no more elves about?”

When he turned back, Haarith had already mounted and was riding away, and shouted, “It may be that they are! It would be good for you to keep a look out!”

As he rode away, in the distance he heard a faint, ”You Oliphaunt riding rats are such bastards!”

Through Spiders and Darkness

Wailing, screaming and whimpering echoed throughout the eastern foothills of the Misty Mountains. The captured goblin was not one to suffer silently, as he made his pain known to all that could hear him. The company feared that the cacophonous wailing would draw all of the enemies east of the Misty Mountains to them. They tried beating him, but he only yelled more. They tried ignoring him, but he only called them by name. In a final attempt at silencing Gitnick, Corunir gave him food and loosened his bonds. Surprising this worked, but Brognir was not happy that the wants of an evil creature had been appeased. Gitnick transformed from a whimpering pitiful creature, to a servile simpleton.

During this transformation, Gitnick repaid his captors for their mercy by giving them what they wanted. He began talking about a small unknown trail upon the edge of Mirkwood. He claimed that it would lead to the dark masters that were driving the orcs to the mountains.

It took them two weeks to travel from the Misty Mountains to Mirkwood, however they did not yet enter, for the trail was further south. As they made their way south along the forests edge, the trees began to grow closer and closer together. Then when it seemed as if each tree was choking the other, a small partition appeared. The darkness of the path made it stand out amongst the many trees. Each member of the company entered the dark path one by one as it was not large enough to allow them to walk abreast one another.

As they made their way through the trail a sense of dread crept up upon the company. It became darker and darker as they proceeded through. Gitnick, who had almost constantly made noise since his capture, was now quite. He began to say “It won’t be long until we meet the dark ones, they lie further down the path”. Brognir then took his spear to Gitnick’s throat , threatening him with death, and said “If you betray us, you betray your own life”. Gitnick replied “Me only showing nice rangers what they asked for, I no trick you. Me too dumb for that”. Brognir was however not convinced and made it his personal mission to make sure that the captive did nothing outside of his sight. That night they found a small clearing and made camp.

Many hours went by underneath the darkness of the trees, but none could really tell when the night ended and the day began. When each had their rest they began treading down the path once more. Before long the path became cluttered with thick webs that could barely be cut through. When the webs became so thick that they could scarcely make their way through, Gitnick started yelling hysterically. Brognir tried to silence him, but before he could do anything large dark skittering shapes could be seen amongst the trees. Arrows sung forth from the rangers as they huddled together in a defensive circle. Large spiders hungry for fresh meet had the company. The spiders skittering between the trees made them hard to hit, and their ghoulish appearance made the hearts of the ranger’s race in terror. They began shooting their sticky webs incapacitating some of the rangers, but each of them fought on stabbing and slashing at the dark shapes as they lunged into the melee. Whenever a spider fell, another took its place. They would have to escape if they were to get out alive. One by one some of the rangers fell to the sticky embrace of the webs. The situation was looking dim, but out of nowhere arrows came out of the darkness pierced the spiders.

Out of the darkness stepped a group of elves dressed in greens and browns. Each of them had a bow in their hands and a dagger at their side. As happy as the rangers were to see the elves, they did not appear so joyful. The elves looked upon them with disdain and clearly thought them fools for having needed rescuing. The elves said nothing, but pointed further down the path, seemingly knowing what the company sought.

The engagement with the spiders and the visitation of the elves was so quick and chaotic that No one individual could really know everything that was going on. After all was said and done Gitnick could not be found, and had presumably escaped. Brognir felt personally responsible as he took the task upon himself to do correctly. He cursed himself and the slippery goblin, but could not allow himself to be overcome with guilt. Despite his failing, he pressed on as the company made its way down the path once again.

So far the path had been dark due to the closeness of the trees, but now the trees themselves were different. They were gnarled, withered, and diseased specimens that somehow produced an even thicker layer of canopy. The degree of their sickliness became more pronounced as they made their way further and further into the darkness. When the trees became so sickly that none believed they still lived, a lone dark tower atop a bald hill could begin to be seen in the distance. Dark pillars of smoke, and moving throngs of small shapes could be seen emanating from the foreboding structure. The company stealthily made their way to the dark tower, creeping as quietly as possible. As they got closer, the shapes began to sharpen and turned into orcs, goblins and even swarthy looking men. Before the great host, was a group of nine darkly clad figures, all clad in the heaviest of armor. Where there should have been a face, there was nothing but a terrifying empty void that seemed to be sucking the light in from around it. They turned to the massed throngs and spoke in the blackest of tongues, and in response the masses rose up their blades and spilt their own blood for their new masters. In turn, each of the nine had a pouch that they gave to the leaders of the eclectic assembly. What the rangers could not understand in speech they could in action. These terrible figures were promising more than a simple pouch of gold, this was just a taste of what is to come. Quickly Tarandir had the company retreat and make their way back to the tower. The captain must know of the evil in Mirkwood.

The Dwarf Ruins- Brigade of the White City

Ondoher had finally recovered from his injuries from the fight against the men of the East. Ondoher sat and thought long about what had transpired, and knew that his rash behavior had caused the loss. He forced his men to run too hard, and that lead to their exhaustion. He charged in without thinking of the consequences of fighting an enemy with pikes. He was made a fool, and for what? The chance to regain his honor? It was now that a change would need to be made if he was to forge ahead with this endeavor.

He got up and began stretching his legs. He surveyed his men and the damage that had been taken. Poor Turin. He thought of him as a brother, and now his brother was laid on the ground with a serious wound in his hip. He continued to find his choices going awry. To the detriment of his own men, he had taken on a battle-hardened enemy that was not forgiving. It was a hard notion to deal with.

Battle-Hardened enemies, those Easterlings. What were they doing this far West? They have no lands under their control further than the Brownlands. The treachery that Beren, the son of Lord Elgamoth, Steward of Gondor, had sent this company to investigate and help defend against must have run deeper than the lord had guessed. this was no mere rabble of orcs and Goblins. This must have some sort of organization to it. War parties gathering. But who could coerce the the Dark Lord worshippers to leave their lands?

After having lingered in his thoughts, he saw that Mablung had returned from scouting about. But he was not Alone. There was another warrior Minas Tirith, but younger than Mablung. Ondoher looked in his eyes and recognized a young recruit that he knew from years gone by. He had seen about the barracks here and there, but did not know him by name. But there was no way that Lord Beren could have sent out another man for assistance so quickly. What was he doing here?

“Mablung! Your joining our party has come at a most pivotal moment. I was rash and it lead to our men being injured, and my friend Turin will likely never be the same. And in this hour, you come to our rescue, even as we lie helpless on the battle field. You have guarded us well.” Ondoher said these words, and then offered his hand in gratitude, which Mablung took with grace. He bowed his head in humility to his commander. Ondoher continued. “And it appears you have been given assistance…” He looked the new comer in the eye, showing no emotion. “Lord Beren had not mentioned any additional assistance was coming in his letter. Though we can be glad for strong arm, if strong his arm be.” Ondoher turned, with wry smile, and took a drink from a bucket nearby.

“Um, Yes, sir,” said Malbeth. “Sorry for the confusion, sir! I was a bit behind Mablung, here. I do hope that my tardiness will not be punished too severely.” Mablung looked at his long-time friend, as if to say “Are you mad!?” Malbeth gave a hard elbow into his comrade’s ribs as Ondoher turned back to face them.

“Uh, of course, sir. How could I be so foolish?” Mablung asked frantically. “I should have made mention of him before, Lieutenant. “

“Interesting,” replied Ondoher. He would continue his little game. “Why would Lord Beren forget to mention that a second man was coming? He is not an unintelligent man. I would say he is one of the smarter men i have known. It is not like him to omit such details.”

He looked back at Malbeth. His face showed no sign of wavering from his story. Mablung, however appeared to be quite nervous. “Well, I am happy to have you in spite of the circumstance.” the lieutenant said, finally. “You were here when we needed you, and when Mablung needed you. For that I commend you.” Ondoher laid himself back down on a bed roll. “We need the men, and he does not have evil intent, I am sure,” he thought.

The rest of the men continued to recover. Arveleg would not be able to fight any time soon, and Turin… his would would heal, but it could wind up affecting him for his life. When they all were able to sit up on their own and converse without wheezing or hurting, Ondoher spoke to the lot of them.

“As your commander, I must beg your forgiveness. It was rash of me to take you all out so quickly. When we came to the Eastlerings in the field, we were already all exhausted and it lead to our defeat. Fortunately, Mablung was able to get us out alive, and relatively unscathed. I must also express my indebtedness to you all.  In spite of my reckless behavior, you all fought bravely to the end of the battle.”

“I pledge to you all that the leadership of this company will not continue to ask for your lives to be thrown away needlessly, especially if they are not willing to do so themselves. This is what separates us from the hordes of darkness.” There were cheers of “Here, here!” from the company.

Suddenly, the sound of a galloping horse approached. Those who were able girted themselves quickly, but it was not needed. “I seem to be here in the nick of time, sir!” He said as he dismounted, seeing his brothers-in arms bandaged and bruised. Arveleg, barely able to stand, sat up and said, “Well it is about time! You missed out on all the action, just to show up conveniently right after it ended!” The men cackled.  “I am confident you never took that sword to the gut.  Hirgon, the fearless one, indeed! You probably saw those goblin rats and feigned the wound to avoid battle!”

“Well, if you weren’t already half dead, I’d clock you, trickster,” retorted Hirgon. At this they all called out, but in more hushed tones. Hirgon once charged and vanquished  a wild Warg on his own with no gear, so his doughty nature was usually never questioned, even in jest.

Arveleg laughed, and then wheezed. “Someone must be irritable because he’s saddle soar!”

“Enough of this,” said Ondoher, calmly. “It is time we all knew the plan. Lord Beren sent word with Mablung when he first came to us of a dwarf relic of great import. Some dwarves from the Iron Hills appear to be seeking out that device, and we have the intelligence needed to retrieve it.”

“Iron Hills Dwarves,” remarked, Mablung. “I have heard tales of their armies. Rank upon rank of heavily armored phalanxes of the hard Dwarf Folk. Their skill is legendary, and their ferocity more so. I hear they have dwarf magic that even prevents arrows from even hitting them!”

“Aye! And Uh ‘ear theirrr wuhmen have the mo’ beautiful beards!” Arveleg chimed in in the most atrocious dwarf accent.

They burst out in hooting and howling, the wounded man trying to make his hands into a beard while he batted his lashes. Ondoher rolled his eyes, but you could see a smile cross his face. After the laughter died down Ondoher spoke again. “With this information, we must find the land on which this dwarf relic can be found and find it before the enemy takes it into its own hoards. Lord Beren marked it on this map, here. He said that some farm had scorched and a dwarf settlement’s bones were revealed beneath.”

“What are we even looking for, Sir?” asked Malbeth. “I have never seen a single thing in my life made by dwarves. How do I know what it is if I see it?“

“Well, as with many dwarves artifacts, and even with their common objects,” Turgon spoke up. “it will be likely very easy to tell that it is of dwarfish make, especially in comparison to what buildings of Men are near. The woodsmen and farmers nearby will likely be Middle-men. You should not be struggling to tell the difference.”

Hirgon stood up. “That is good enough for me,” he said. “ What shall we do with the horse, sir? And what of Arveleg and Turin?”

“Don’t worry about me! Just set me up in a hole in the ground and I’ll lie in wait for the enemy!” He Went to take a stab at the air with his arm, but he began coughing.

Turin finally spoke. “I will wait with him. Leave the horse. Should we need to escape, we can ride it. I at least have the strength to fight should we be found. My wound is not yet ready to let me go off to an all out skirmish, though.”

“Then it is settled,” declared Ondoher.  “We shall go forth to the land and begin our search.”

So the company made their way many leagues to the immediate west of the Misty Mountains. When they arrived at the location on the map, it took some time for them to find a place as described by their lord. Then, they saw it. On the edge of this land were 2 groupings of thick woods, but you could see that there once were dwarf foundations set here on the edge of the thickets. Indeed, these foundations were strong, but you could see places where possible dwarf valuables might have been stored.

That is when they saw them: some of the biggest orcs Ondoher had ever seen in his entire life. It would be a race to see who could find the artifact of the folk of Durin first, and who would leave with it.

“Quickly!” Ondoher cried. “Form up, men!” Ondoher and Malbeth formed the front of the shield wall, with Mablung and Hirgon and their spears behind.

Meanwhile, Turgon took Hurin and formed their own archer line. “With haste,” said Hurin. ”They are using the wood for cover!” A few of the large orcs drew into the wooded areas, while one ran off to the fat left flank, and the another orc and a companion flanked to the right.

The men of Gondor’s shield wall made it to an object in the middle of the battle field, but Ondoher quickly realized that it was nothing of value. Seeing this, they chose to peel away to the right flank. They charged to the next item that appeared to be what they might be looking for.

They got close, but Ondoher saw that this may end up being a diversion from the truth Relic.  He let the enemy take it first. As he did so, he looked and saw an orc even bigger than the others. He was dripping with blood from the helm he wore, and he bore a large sword. This thing was ready for battle, and would not be an easy kill.

Meanwhile, Hurin and Turgon fired at the enemy hiding in the woods. Turgon missed wide, but it was Hurin who kept hitting on target, but the thick armor of these orcs would not be sundered so easily. They continue to fire as Ondoher and the shield wall approached another item.

It was then that the Orc picked up the the chest. the creature opened it, and found what it was that he was searching for, and began to turn off to run, but the chest was slowing him down. Ondoher saw this, and immediately charged into the foe, and Mablung assisted him with his spear. The fight was evenly matched, but Ondoher suddenly shoved the orc back and struck him down with mighty blow.

The bigger orc suddenly whipped himself into a frenzy, and darted for the chest, and picked it up, and began to run off with it, but it slowed him down too much. Ondoher and Mablung charged the berserker and were assisted by the mighty spear of Hirgon, who struck the killing blow to lay this mighty orc low.

With great speed, a new wall was formed, but this one was to stand in the way of arrow fire from the orc bowman. Mablung slung his shield and spear to his back and picked up the chest, running off toward where the enemy had come from, with Ondoher, Hirgon and Malbeth forming up at his side.

Turgon and Hurin saw that their companions had the item they needed, so it was then that they charged the orcs in the brambles, seeing their bows were not effective, especially when the orcs began heading towards their comrade. Turgon slew the enemy leader with a great blow to the head, and then charged in to help Hurin fight off another orc. This one was able to fight the two of them off. The orc bowman shot at the shield wall as it charged off at a slow pace. “Steady men! Don’t falter! We can still win the…Agh! “ Ondoher was interrupted by an arrow through his knee. He immediately fell to the ground. “Forge ahead, men! We must retrieve this for our allies!”

At this, Hurin and Turgon continued to fight, Hurin slaying an orc, but as their friends continued off into the distance, they were over run and knocked unconscious and could remember no more.

The men of Gondor were able to slay a few more orcs, until finally, Mablung was able to flee the field. His valor had won him the day.

Once the battle had subsided, the comrades were able to come together. The Company brought their prize back to the camp where they left Turin and Arveleg.

Turgon and Hurin survived the ordeal with relatively no serious damage to show for it. The leg wound Ondoher received would slow him down, but with the Horse promised him by his Lord and benefactor, this would hinder him little on the battle field from now on.

Turgon, however, had learned from his experience. His devotion to the whole of his company and for his People shined through today, being willing to take on many for the sake of the White City. Ondoher also learned from the skirmish. His strength was not what it should be, so he began training to increase his strength.

Hurin had been through much. Ondoher knew it would please him greatly to join the ranks of the rangers of Ithilien, so he sent a letter back as swiftly as possible to Minas Tirith with a strong recommendation for him to join their ranks. “I think, Hurin, it would be beneficial to us all for you to drop the Armor of the white city for some Ranger gear.”

Yes sir! He quickly dropped his armor and took the facade of a ranger. The lighter armor made it easier to fight, and easier to shoot. Ondoher could see the light in his eyes, gladly taking on the ranger role of the crew.

“And Mablung,” Ondoher said. “Tales of your deed shall be sung by that of the dwarves for many years to come.”

“That is not what one thinks when they say that tales will be sung of you, but i will gladly welcome a stiff dwarf ale if they are willing to buy!” responded Mablung.

With that, the company laughed, again. They were in good spirits after their victory and remained rather merry.

With this victory came The promise of additional support. Yet another Spearman was sent by Beren to get their assistance, named Thorondir. The company had grown to quite the skirmishing force. They were now ready for whatever it was that they may face.

At the coming of Thorondir, it suddenly dawned on Ondoher: they had not even opened the chest with the prize they sought. What was this great dwarven artifact they were charged with retrieving? Ondoher opened the chest, his company gathered around him. Then, they saw it. They were all shocked and amazed to see the object inside….

To be Continued…

Drunken Ambush

The fires had long died out and the sound of content snoring rose through the night air.  The embers of the fire cast a very small bit of reddish light over the slumbering orcs, who had made it to the edge of Mirkwood after surviving the ambush of the spiders.

Creeping stealthily away from the camp, Iggy Yellowmug grasped a tankard of black syrupy grog and slurped it down happily.  He hated the forest, hated the smells, and hated the spiders, but the first real victory that his companions had achieved had brightened his foul mood considerably.

Padding next to him, the cowardly scout Lister looked about nervously.  He was picking at the crud and dirt under his blackened finger nails with an iron dagger, and his warg growled with annoyance at not being able to rest.

“Snaga is growing more powerful.”  Iggy remarked, tossing the now-empty tankard to the side and wiping his mouth with the back of a dirty arm.  “Pretty soon he’ll have us grovelin in the muck and cleanin up his bidness.”  The orc let out a loud belch that echoed through the night.

“Shut your pie hole idiot, we may be out of the depths of that Mirkwood, but them spiders is still lurkin about and we aint no match for…” Lister’s statement was cut abrupt by the emergence of a stranger that seemingly stepped out of the blackness of the night.

Clad in a black cape that shrouded a fully armored body and a crowning helm that added another six inches of height, the man cut a powerful figure.  Lister immediately drew his blade and his warg prepared to charge the lone warrior, while Iggy stared dumbfounded in his drunken stupor.

“Sheathe your weapon, tool of the master.  I have been sent by the dark one to guide your leader and your company back to the road of the righteous.  Your failures will be righted.”  The man said.

“I must be dreamin.  There’s a bloke in the forest tryin to tell us what is ‘appenin?”  Iggy said, reaching for his blade, but finding nothing as he had forgotten his weapon back at the camp some distance away.

“The master sent you you say?”  Lister said, partial fear creeping into his voice.  His mount continued to growl in a low perfunctory manner.  “‘ow do we know this aint some kind of trick?  That you aint one of them rangers?”

The man grinned behind his iron helm, and drew a wicked blade of steel the like fashioned in the furnaces of Angmar.  A Black Numenorean, and foot-soldier of the Witch King.

“Together we will accomplish a great many things.”  The man said through clenched teeth.  “I am Gorn.  Gorn the Black.  My blade is at your leader Snaga’s service.  He has been chosen by our master and your loyalty must be absolute.”  The clanking sound of his plate armor was soft, as if suppressed by leathers or sorcery.

The two orcs looked at each other for a moment, aware that the man had overheard their conversation concerning Snaga moments before.

A branch snapped out in the darkness, and a voice called out full of scorn.

“What do we have here?  Are we interruptin’ an orcish weddin’!  Well bless your heart, I am having a score to settle with your kind tonight and look who happens upon our path!  Look sharp lads!  We got ourselves some orc filth to kill!”

The voice belonged to a stout dwarf who stepped out from the trees.  Several more accompanied, two holding crossbows.  Both were aimed at Iggy’s head.

Lister made a whining noise as he clicked his tongue in command to his warg, preparing to flee for his life.  Only Gorn appeared unconcerned, deftly swinging his sword in great arcs and turning to face the dwarf company, who gave pause at the man’s display for a moment.

It is a wise person that exercises caution when a Black Numenorean appears arrayed for war before you, as any old wife will tell her children and their children’s children.

Mission:  Rescue

Synopsis:  The dwarf force stumbled upon Iggy’s drunken nighttime walk and is tasked with killing the orc hero.  He is accompanied by two other models (Lister and Gorn the Black).  Mr. Slave and the other orcs will arrive across the table and enter on turn one, but the dwarfs deploy 18″ into the table… putting them almost into direct contact with Iggy.

Victory Conditions:  The dwarfs must slay Iggy.  The orcs must reduce the dwarfs down to below 50% and keep Iggy alive.

Initiative:  The dwarfs always start out with priority.

Jon would be commanding his dwarf company after losing the Mirkwood scenario.   He would have seven dwarfs as one was injured from the battle with the spiders still.

Mr. Slave’s force had just come off of a victory against the spiders of Mirkwood and were at twelve strong, seven of which are now heroes!  The point discrepancy would give the dwarfs two re-rolls and two bonus influence points.

The game begins with the dwarf leader Mhulo calling for a heroic march and burning a might point.  This would let the dwarfs move forward an extra 3″ and the ram rider (in this picture on the larger base… Jon’s models haven’t arrived from Nottingham yet) an extra 5″.

Iggy and Lister both retreat back as fast as they can, with Lister shielding Iggy and Gorn posted in front with the hopes of his Terror kicking in and stopping a charge or two.

Mr. Slave and his forces arrive and begin the long march foward.  Slave is calling out to Iggy to move faster and join the orc formation so that they can drive the sodding orcs off, while Blish the assassin and the orc bowman Tasty position themselves on an elevated position to try and provide some supporting fire.

Blish and Tasty loose their arrows at the ram rider, but a sweet sweet pair of snake eyes see both black arrows streak off into the woods far off from their target.

Iggy and Gorn reach the main orc line, while Lister peels off to the flank, outside of the ram rider’s range but enough to threaten the flank.

Unfortunately, a dwarf with a crossbow had taken up position in the tree 20″ away.  The dwarf hero Thoif grinned to himself and squeezed the firing lever on his weapon.  The bolt sprang out, and a “5” was rolled to hit (good).  The In-The-Way roll for Gorn the Black was passed with a “4”.  All that was left was the wound, as Iggy had no fate point.

A “6” was tossed.

Iggy dropped to the ground, squealing in pain as the bolt buried itself in his ass cheek.  The dwarfs laughed loud and were filled with mirth as they blended back into the night.  Victory was theirs.

Mr. Slave walked over to the wailing Iggy and looked down at him with contempt.  The twin ghost-lights that shone in Slave’s eyes terrified all that looked upon him, and Iggy’s heart clenched at his leader’s look of scorn.

“Failure you are.  You will carry the drum Iggy Yellow Mug.”  Mr. Slave’s boot lashed out, catching Iggy in the face and knocking the orc warrior unconscious.

End Result:  Dwarf Victory

Upgrades and Post-Battle:  Thoif the dwarven hero leveled and received Steady Aim.  Additionally, Jon bought him a dwarf bow to benefit this new skill and a concealing cloak.   The dwarf leader Mhulo spent influence on an healing herb.

Mr. Slave’s force didn’t receive much at all.  Nothing leveled up.  The influence was spent on buying a war drum which Iggy Yellow Mug will now carry (and a model must be painted in his honor… and the orc in question will indeed have a yellow face).

With that, Mr. Slave’s February battles come to an end and we look to March and the end of Part I of the campaign which happens to lie during Adepticon at our Campaign Day.


The Black Death- A Grand Crusade Story


The Black Death

The great palace on the Throne World of Crimea is filled with the energy of life, but not the same life you or I would think of.  Starting in the air plague drones and their nurgling counterparts buzz through the air followed by huge swarms of rot flies and clouds of pure pestilence and stench.  The world rotates at just the perfect speed as to ensure half of the planet is light all of the time and half is dark.    Daemons go back and forth across the threshold of light and darkness as if it doesn’t exist, but the millions of cultists, zombies, and slave alike won’t venture near the border.  Plague Marines stand guard at each of the entrances to the Palace. Every once and a while releasing streams of bile purification onto groups of cultists and/or slaves as they pass by.  Cackling and watching as they transform into nothing but zombies within minutes of the deluge.

Within the walls of the Palace Nurglings move about creating daemon havoc throughout the halls and otherwise empty Palace rooms.  Setting each other ablaze in toxic filth, fighting and clawing, and just a quickly laughing uncontrollably.  The Chaos inside is the worst torture you could imagine.  One where the torturers find pure joy in their work.  As you make your way into the inner sanctums off the palace the Nurglings abate and the order one would expect from 10,000 plus years of warfare sets in from the Plague Marines.  This leads into the center throne room, where a gigantic Daemon Prince broods over a throne and a map of the galaxies within his control.  The Daemon’s name is lost to the ages, and he is now referred to as only the Black Death.  It’s believed that this name comes from some ancient Terran history and this Daemon Prince is in fact some derivation of a soul that was once mortal from Tera prior to being part of Dusk Raiders and then Typhus’s own Grave Warden Terminators during the Horus Heresy.

The name is very fitting as the Black Death doesn’t take over world the same way most other Chaos Space Marine warlord’s do.   Himself and a select group of would be world conqueror’s infiltrate shipping vessels bound for new and developing worlds. By the time the ship reaches its port it is always fully given over to the plague god.  As the souls inside pour out they start the process that within days to weeks will usually encompass the entire world.  The Black Death uses Papa Nurgle’s favor to its fullest often only fighting small battles to take of enormously prosperous worlds.  The citizens of those worlds having two choices; bending the knee and joining the cults of the black death or becoming one of the mindless zombie swarms carrying his plagues across the face of their home world.

The map in front of the Black Death glows with trophies of his world’s conquered.  The Fortress world of Devastation one of the brightest trophies on the map is his most recent conquest.  Somewhat smaller but still outshining the others is the Forge World of Torment.  These two worlds surrounding by a Death World with no name, an Agri-World of Abundance, a Shrine World renamed The Fall, and a Quest World referred to as The Salted World.  It’s clear the dark lord is contemplating his next conquest, and possibly what it could mean to his larger goals.

Within the circles of his Plague Marine followers all whisper about the goals of his many larger goals.  The one rumor that stands out the most is that this whole conquest is an effort to prove to his former Captain Typhus that his former Terran status doesn’t take away from his favor with Father Nurgle.  Similar rumors exist in smaller volume that he is still trying to win favor with Mortarion.  The one truth is that his favor with Grandfather can’t be denied.  His Daemonhood alone being enough, but the way the plague flows when he hits a new world can only be compared to Typhus Grandfather’s Herald himself.  The Black Death only has one more map in his throne room and that is Tera.  His lust for worlds that may lead him to this place to take on the false Emperor is directly tied to whatever it is the Black Death is trying to prove.

Chapter 1:

The Black Death has chosen his favored Plague Marines to join him in his next round of conquests.  As befitting his team, he will have volumes of plague spitting weapons, as to ensure that the plague his follows spreads makes as much contact as quickly as possible.  He also brings two marines with flails, as to help their ability to ensure they can spread death and pestilence to as many individuals, as possible.  The final member of this quest is always a Plague Marine leader with power fist.  If the Black Death isn’t close there will always need to be a method of tearing down any barrier.  The rest of their army will be created once they hit the next port.

The Black Death has a secondary support team that he hasn’t shared with any of his followers.  They will be coming from the Forge World of Torment, and may only be seen in the worst of circumstances or the greatest opportunity to get closer to the Emperor of Mankind.  The real question is can his weapons of plague and pestilence be enough to overwhelm who is likely waiting for him in the warp.  Will the False Emperor hear the prayers of his followers that slave on the worlds of the Black Death and send his own to take down the Dark Lord of Pestilence?   Would the golden warriors of the emperor be enough to bring down the Black Death, or will the Black Death be able to overwhelm them in droves of zombies and cultists?  Is the favor of Grandfather enough to overcome the desires of the Emperor?

Chapter 2

The Black Death emerged from the warp on the Death World of Feces.  This Death World is overcome with excrement from the giant slug like creatures that inhabit the planet.  The slugs will eat anything and everything they come into contact with almost instantly turning that into waste. The Imperium had realized that these slugs represent a particular type of execution for Heretics, and have operated this Death World as an execution planet for centuries now.  The Black Death knew of a particular Heretical marine who was wearing a suite of armor when he was executed that drew him to this world.  This armor carried the faith of Grandfather Nurgle providing the bearer with an ability to not only shrug off the most violent of attacks but also to spew Grandfather’s favor back on the enemies of the wearer, many times turning them instantly into the wearers legions of Poxwalker zombies.  As the Black Death had slowly grown his territory and favor since his days as a Human helping to spread the Black Plague on Terra ages ago, he continued to pursue this new relic.

His movements were no longer completely in the shadows, and the Emperor was able to catch a glimpse of this ferocious traitor has he landed on Feces.  The Emperor had known the former sole of this Human, had tracked down his work thousands of years ago has he helped to spread the Black Plague.  This was one of the oldest of all traitors, as this time represented the rise of the Chaos God known as Grandfather Nurgle and this traitorous servant must die.  The Emperor was able to see and realize the history of this Daemonic Prince all at once. He was able to see that this traitor would later infiltrate the ranks and receive the gene seed of this Dusk Raiders.  He would then move onto the ranks of the Death Guard as Mortarion became their Primarch, and then serve in the 1st Company under glorious Capitain Typhon.  This traitor had been the designs of Grandfather Nurgle all along, and potentially helped to spread the corruption that would eventually turn Typhon to Typhus and bring the peril of the entire Death Guard legion.  The Custodes were dispatched immediately.

This Black Death may have always been in Grandfather Nurgle’s favor, but he had never compared to Typhus and Mortarion.  He was a member of their Death Guard, and even have thousands of years of service to Grandfather he was still beneath them.  It created a desire to carry their favor, his job was to bring them to Grandfather, and once that happened it never ended.  It was a fascination of proving that he belonged in Grandfather’s favor to them.  Little did he know that a battle was coming on this world of Feces, that would grab the attention of at least one of these glorious leaders.

The Black Death almost immediately started to break open the Heretical Death Camps the Imperium was operating turning the recently freed prisoners into his cultists, and creating an uprising across the planet that would enable him to wade through the mountains of excrement on Feces for the armor with Grandfather’s favor.  Many of those cultists choking and drowning to death in the rivers of excrement, and becoming zombies further turning the planet to Grandfather’s favor.  Then the warriors in gold appeared.  It’s as if they knew exactly where the Black Death would be, it’s as if they could see all of his moves in the warp, it’s as if they were three steps ahead of him.  However, the Black Death new this for what it was, his opportunity to prove his was one of the greatest warriors in Grandfather’s army.  The two sides clashes almost immediately the Golden warriors having to wade through newly freed heretical prisoners driven by Grandfather’s new freedom to gain revenge for their death sentences. This was almost futile for them, but as the Custodes killed them in droves they weren’t actually dying they were creating an entirely new force of Poxwalker zombies that they would have to wade through once they finished off the cultists.  Would this stream of corruption ever end?  The Black death unleashed his secret weapons.  These disgusting tanks of vile ooze were his most recent development and his Forge World did not disappoint.  The pounded the Custodes from behind the legions of zombies.  The Custodes were extremely resilient, but were breaking underneath the weight of the never-ending stream of zombies.  The Black Death was slipping and sliding in and out of the Warp attacking where and when he wanted, but taking damage from the ferocious warriors each step of the way.  He only needed to create a diversion long enough to for his never-ending stream of new freed prisoner cultists to find the armor.   His was nearing the end of this existence when they finally did. He took to the warp knowing that as his disappeared so would the final remnants of the Custodes.

As he re-emerged from the warp on a near-by mining world he looked back through the eyes of his zombies and realized that his Poxwalker zombies were able to overwhelm the Emperors guardians and take the Death World prison planet over, effectively adding this now useless pile of poop to his planetary conquests.  By silencing the Custodes they were also able to effectively keep the Emperor from being able to track the Black Death’s next movements.  His armor acquired he would wait on this mining world and heal before his next steps would be taken.

Chapter 3

Little did the Black Death know but his refuge mining world, was not as isolated as he had thought.  While he had started to create a cultist uprising to take the planet his was no ready for the Ork incursion that would meet him head on so early in his uprising.  The Orks were able to smash into his forces and kill his cultists before his plague was able to take hold enough to turn them to zombies.  Only the few zombies that followed him in the warp would make it to this planet, and they would need more time to develop into a force that would eventually be able to take the planet.  The Black Death jumped immediately into the battle newly invigorated by his new armor, and collapsed the Ork forces from the top down.  This newly capable warrior was finally strong enough to draw the attention of Typhus his former captain from a far with this battle.  This ferocious showing of strength would not only gain Typhus attention, but draw the Contagion Lord to his eventually location.

Chapter 4.

Typhus wanted to test his new toy and sent word via nurgling emissaries to the Black Death that a Dark Angel force on a near-by AgriWorld being fed from the fertilizer of his recently conquered planet of Feces was holding something insanely valuable.   The Black Death stowed upon a fertilizer ship to make his drop on the Dark Angels in an attempt to gain whatever it was that Typhus coveted so dearly.  Unfortunately, the warp is a fickle thing, and the Dark Angels seemed to have known about his presence almost as soon as he made land fall on their AgriWorld.  It’s known within the warp they are traitors, could it be that they have the favor of one of the Chaos gods themselves.

Regardless the Black Death knew this needed to be done quickly and he would have to get to this coveted item before he could take the entire planet.  Unfortunately, his haste cost him most of the forces that he brought to this challenge and left him with only he sweltering Poxwalker zombie force that was the remnant of the forces he brought with him.   He left them contained waiting for just the right moment to let the Dark Angels walk into his last trap.  The Dark Angels were clearly in the belief that his forces had something important to them, could this be Luther pulling strings?  Or is this their lord and master the Lion getting his information from the dark gods?  Regardless they committed the whole of their forces as they always do to taking this one bastion of zombie power.  The minute they breached the doors they were overwhelmed by a zombie surge that had been building within the ruined fortress since the Black Death had arrived.  The Black Death escaped through the warp to allow for the zombies to take care of the Dark Angels before returning to retrieve his prize.  To his delight the unleashed zombie plague had not only overwhelmed the Dark Angels but shortly thereafter been able to overwhelm the largest majority of the AgriWorld.

The Black Death reported his success back to Typhus immediately.  Typhus was so pleased he made the command decision to move Terminus Est to the Black Death’s throne world of Crimea and promised to share the next steps of his grand plan once he arrived!

Siren Call

A tale of ancient magicks and fierce rivalries

​Dolvin spun his heel into the dirt, and out of reflex his broad shield raised defensively as he listened again for that old familiar sound. His brother Duk, Mhulo’s right hand, sheathed his short sword and made eye contact- they nodded grimly. Their sparring session was over, but it was only to welcome the rush of real conflict: today, once again, they would dance with death.

Bark erupted from the tree next to Dolvin, and he shielded his face from the wooden shrapnel. He had known right- the sound of arrows loosed from their bows, and the sharp *WHIZZ* as they took flight towards their intended target. They had been spotted, but the dwarves knew not from where. The arrow that had impacted against the tree found its rest next to Duk’s foot- an oily black shaft thick as an iron rod, fletched with the bloody feathers of some ill-fated foul.

“Kemlek!” the brothers shouted together.

Per the snores still emanating from the Kemlek’s full beard, it seemed he had not been stirred quite yet, despite his shouting kin. The damned dwarf could sleep through anything, barring perhaps a kick to the gut.

​“UP! YOU BLOODY LOG, THERE’S ORC TER BE FIGHTIN’” Dolvin belted, and accentuated his alert with a swift kick to the sleeping dwarf’s side.

“AYE, I been dreamin’ o’ it, fer certain!” Came Kemlek’s rumblings. He had muttered more than that, but neither Duk nor Dolvin had the time to coax sense out of the groggy, and potentially drunk, fighter- all they needed was his mattock and his violent companionship.

Keeping low to the ground, the dwarves quickly found some shelter behind a section of downed trees. Behind them, Mhulo rounded the statue from where he had been honing his weapon and called out to the others.

“Any o’ you lot seen Thoif? Last I saw he was out on his watch!”
Another arrow whizzed past Kemlek’s tree, and rustled the bushes near where their camp lay.

“No sight o’ ‘im since he took his rounds.” Replied Duk. “We could use that bow o’ his ‘bout now.”

Dolvin cursed their fates. Why couldn’t these foul creatures come out and fight them face to face like a true warrior! He lifted his shield once more and peered out towards the direction the arrows had come from. Then all was revealed to him.

On the open hill to their direct west, a small Uruk-hai conclave gathered at its apex, hastily fortifying their overlook with anything they could grab with their greasy black and red hands. Their leader was a monstrous foe, towering and clad in the crude but effective metal plate oft boasted by their kind. An Uruk sword he clasped in one hand, a spiked shield in the other. Archers loosed more arrows towards the dwarves, but they skittered off of tree trunks and disappeared into the dirt before them.

“Oi! Mhulo! To the Northwest, on the rocks. He’s low!” called out Duk in hushed tones.

Dolvin adjusted his eyesight, and saw exactly what his brother spoke of- Thoif had found a vantage point atop a rocky outcropping over-looking the Uruk defenses. He lay prone, neatly tucked onto the rocks, his dark armor acting as a disguise against the dark granite.

“That’s it then, lads. Thoif has the make of it. On his mark, we act as one and charge into their formation. Duk and Dolvin to the fore- hoist thy shields high, and level thy war spears low.” Mhulo ordered.

“Fighting uphill, sir? With what army?” contended Duk.

“They may outnumber us, but it is not enough for them old friend. Do not doubt Thoif’s aim, for they shall outnumber us even less when battle is met.” Explained Mhulo. “Kemlek, trail low behind the shield wall and break loose once we join the fray. The cursed orc sport archers of their own, and we’d all be worse off without your ire in combat.”

​“Bugger the dirty orc archers! ‘Ave ‘em throw down those twig shooters and draw sword to fight me t’my face!” Exclaimed Kemlek. With that he brandished his mattock, gripping the leather tight and firm, and he crouched low, stance ready to run uphill.

Dolvin fixed his eyes back to Thoif, and in an instant he saw the signal they were all waiting for. Thoif let loose the first bolt, and its course stayed true, streaking down to punch a hole in the chest plate of the Uruk nearest the edge of their makeshift holdfast. Remarkably, a second bolt plummeted into the midst of the screaming throng, bringing down a scout clad in greasy brown and black leather- all before the minions of the Dark Lord knew what was happening. Thoif was surely earning his reputation as a marksman, and Dolvin thanked Durin that he was present to aid them.

Mhulo rose to full height, pointed forth his mattock to the confused crowd of rowdy Uruk, and turned to the others.

“NOW! For Durin and the Iron Hills! BARUK KHAZAD!!” bellowed Mhulo, charging up the hill to take advantage of the confusion.

His brothers in arms followed suit. Kemlek roared his approval and echoed Mhulo’s own battle cry. To their east, Dolvin spotted another Dwarf assaulting the hillside, lengthy, razor sharp war spear thrust forward in advance. Nasek had returned? Without his war goat? Curious indeed, but Dolvin cared not where his help arrived from- so long as it arrived.

Dolvin and Duk exchanged one final glance as they advanced, sharing a wordless bond.

“’Til the end, brother.”


The Dwarves of the Iron Hills tasted defeat that day. Whatever malevolent force guided the hands of the enemy was keen and precise. Whilst the hardy dwarven armor bore by Mhulo’s company stood hard against the meager arrows of the enemy, in fierce combat the Uruk’s numbers overwhelmed them, and they were forced to retreat into the forest.

For leagues the dwarves fell back, they could not afford to be caught by the enemy. Kemlek bore Mhulo’s weight- his chest wound had reopened in the battle with the ferocious leader of the Uruk-hai. Nasek had been courageous and unrelenting with his war spear, but had been surrounded and taken down with a wound to his leg. Dolvin was able to intervene in time for the Uruk to take flight, their leader ushering them elsewhere.

The forest continued to close in, becoming denser by the minute. Preternatural darkness started to fall in around the weary coterie. Finally after what seemed like hours, Dolvin pushed into a small clearing, Nasek in arm.

A small cottage stuck out amidst the vast labyrinth of wood and darkness. Its dim lights flickered through the windows, candles lit in observance of some sort of religious ceremony, or perhaps merely to see- Dolvin cared not, he could only guess. There remained no visual sign of occupation in the small farm, but a soft, sweet lullaby floated through the air. The feeling of belonging, of being loved, of being safe from harm. The sweet, sweet song- it warmed them all.
The others stopped to catch their breaths, and to rest their injuries. Dolvin lowered Nasek to the tall grass as he collapsed of weariness, ready to rest. Mhulo was given rest by a fallen tree covered in spongy moss. Kemlek was covered in blood.

The dwarves needed the help of the farmers, so Dolvin decided to ask for it. His armor jangled as he moved his impossibly heavy legs, and everything seemed so slow. His body needed to shut down, to rest. To find the peace he and his kin so desired, he had to open that wooden cottage door. He stepped onto the wooden door front, raised his mailed fist, and knocked.

But he didn’t knock.

There was no door.

There was no cottage.

There was no light.

Everything faded into a mist, and reality itself crumbled around Dolvin’s eyes-leaving him desolate in complete darkness. He was scared, for the first time in his life. A warrior of near unmatched martial prowess, reduced to emotion and desperation.

​Dolvin turned back to where the others were, only to find that there was no one.

“What foul sorcery…” he muttered, breathless.

Dolvin fell to his knees, consciousness escaping his overworked mind and body. As his head fell to the grass, his senses caught one last fleeting sound. The sound was laced with a malice that dripped through his ears, ageless in its eternal hatred, burning the very inside of his head. Dolvin screamed, but there was no noise.

“Welcome to Mirkwood, my friend.”

Of Goats and Hedgehogs

​Winter frosts had turned to Spring rains, and it was justly said that these rains in particular would seemingly never end. The chirping of the insects surrounding Thoif and company became a thunderous annoyance, and he could hardly stand it any longer. All of the dwarves had been in their moods of late , with never-ending downpours weighing down their boots as well as their spirits.

​With a miffed grunt Thoif hoisted his crossbow and stood from the log he had called his resting place. Streams of suffocating moisture rolled off the divots in the dark metallic armor, falling to miniature lakes where the dwarf stood. He was exasperated to the point of action- no longer could he sit and stare needlessly at the chittering bugs clambering for harbor from the relentless rains. He needed to take watch to distract himself from his thoughts, and so he did.

​Thoif made his way through the party’s campground, carefully stepping around a snoring Kemlek. How that dwarf slept in this dread weather baffled Thoif, but it was no matter. Duk and Dolvin sparred silently amidst a small, cleared patch of grass, trading practiced lunging maneuvers and defensive stances. Mhulo was awake whetting the axe head of his mattock, his back against an old broken statue resembling that of a man holding some sort of tome; Time and Nature ensured the features were well worn and nigh unrecognizable. Mhulo spotted Thoif, and with but a curt nod of recognition continued his tasks.

Mhulo’s wound from their encounters with the raiding Orc warbands in the Coldfells had been healing well. Many times better than expected, if truth were told. Almost unnaturally the wounds sped up their healing processes- but then again the means by which they were treated were not exactly natural. As Thoif rounded an elongated boulder lined with drooping purple vines, he corrected the course for his patrol and brought up the memories of fortnights past……

The sound of hooves thudded repetitively in the distance. The dwarves pulled up and formed a defensive perimeter around their wounded and ailing leader- all of them exhausted, their heavy, rapid breaths fogging up the morning air. They had been fleeing for nearly a day, should it be much longer and they would surely perish from lack of rest and supplies.

After their stalemate with an Orc warband led by some evil creature with a whip, they fled south to find respite somewhere, anywhere that had yet been touched by the foul taint of the dark minions. Here they were found, and here they would make their stand. But what creatures of Evil would be riding mounts with hooves?

Seconds would pass, and they would know the answer.
Thoif readied his crossbow, sliding a bolt into place and cranking the lever. With a *CLICK*, the taut string pulled and set. Wordlessly, Duk and Dolvin flanked Thoif. They planted their heavy iron shields, and lowered their war spears. Kemlek shouted a hardly intelligible insult at whatever was coming, and dug his feet into the ground next to Mhulo. At this juncture, the fetid wound in their leader’s chest was surely going to be the end of him. Dwarves were known far and wide for their belligerent nature- the fact that the company had made it this far without losing Mhulo outright was a testament to his resolve and fortitude.

The clamor finally rounded the hill behind which their small, weary party stood- and a sigh of palpable relief washed itself over the dwarves; this was soon followed by joviality, and in turn, quite unexpectedly, curiosity. In any case, the dwarves lowered their guard, welcoming the sight in front of them as a lost Halfling to its mother’s breast.

A large mountain goat barreled around the corner; a glorious and noble armoured steed ridden by a dwarf- and someone else. The goat rode up to the circle of dwarves and slid to a halt, the rider on the rear hopping off almost clumsily. This being bore dirty brown cloaks, and wore a hat of some sort of fur. He had a long beard, was as tall as a human man, and had a lopsided gait that was almost, just almost, intentional.

“Many thanks for the ride my friend! It seems your horned companion has a heart of fire- almost as if he sensed the dire need of your kin.” The stranger said. “Back in the long ago I too had a majestic goat friend, he was very good at finding my stores of fruits and nuts, irritatingly. But I digress! AH, what we have here my weary looking…. Dwarves eh? Not that I should be too far surprised, I just travelled all sorts of distances with your-“

A gurgling laugh came from Mhulo as he lay on the ground, apparently pleased or amused at what he was witnessing. Whatever it was broke the stranger’s rambling.

​“Oh dear, yes, so sorry my friend. I forget myself. My name is Aiwendil. I’ve been following your little party for a moon’s minute. I had means to catch up to you myself, I’ve got some extravagantly quick hares that adore a good sprint, but I found your friend Nasek here and just couldn’t say no to a goat ride! Thankfully the steed found me fit for a travel partner, otherhow he’d have probably thrown me off in way east Rhovanion. This little squeaker is my hedgehog friend. He has no name, but I think-“

“Do not take us so eager for a long talk, stranger.” Kemlek rumbled. “Our leader here is dying from disgusting wounds and here you are going on and on and on. Can you help us or will you merely talk us all to death?”
“My deepest apologies, let me get right to it…” muttered the wizard as he lit a pipe and knelt with Mhulo.

A snapping twig brought Thoif back to the fold. The rain had ceased, but there were other worries at hand. The goat rider from the Iron Hills that had been introduced by the strange mage, Nasek was his name, had departed from their crew shortly after the healing of Mhulo. He had a “quick errand” to run, and gave promises of his return to them soon. They needed his help now more than ever, but wait they did.

Another tree in the distance was ruffled, and Thoif lay low, concealed and covered by wet leaves and dirt. As he peered into the forest in the direction of the noise, he discovered the culprit- a stray Uruk scout slowly crept through the drooping foiliage. Thoif had to warn the others, but how could he do so without alerting the enemy? There remained no easy answer, so he aimed and pulled the lever….

Ondoher’s Wrath- Brigade of the White City

With their pyrrhic victory against the goblin scum of Moria left Ondoher in a foul temperament. The evils of the enemy gave him quite a frustrated demeanor. Turgon could see that the injuries he suffered went further than that of the sword wounds he received. “Thank the Valar that there was no poison on the blade,” he thought. Trying to encourage his leader, he spoke up. “We can carry Hirgon back to the Farmer and allow him time to heal.” Hurin and Arveleg helped carry their fallen brother-in-arms.

“Brother, do not despair!” Said Turin, hoping to help lighten Ondoher’s spirits. “You may have been brought down by the scum, but you can’t expect to win every battle. We were outnumbered by the filth and their leader was able to throw down Hirgon, and you besides, but in any case, we did manage to  beat them senseless for it! Then they skittered away like the cowards they are!” Turin was rather pleased with how the battle had gone, having brought many of the Moria Rats down himself.

This did not encourage Ondoher any more. He remained silent as they finally arrived at the house fo the Farmer. As before, the man was kind to them and offered to let them all stay in the farmhouse with him for the time being, until Hirgon had the strength to leave himself. And they did stay for a fortnight.

The rest of the men were glad to find rest for a bit, but the rest did not help Ondoher. He was often pacing back and forth, reliving the battle in his head, thinking of what could have been done differently. But the fury of his heart would not be quenched by re-living the experience.

It was on the 14th day of rest that a new comer to the company arrived. Mablung, a spearman of Minas Tirith arrived, his strong hand brought with him. He was on a horse, and he was bringing a message  from Beren, the Steward’s son. This is how it read:

To Ondoher Lieutenant of the White Tower

News of the defeat in Eriador reached us quickly, which lead us to believe things were worse than i could have feared. I have decided to send  Mablung, the courier of this correspondence, to provide more assistance. The Steward believes his family to be one of hardy stock, and a strong arm. May he bolster your company.

I also bear news of another kind that i think will greatly benefit the Cause in the North. There is tell of a farm near the Misty Mountains that was burned to the ground. We are not sure if it was from an orc raid or from a natural fire, or something more sinister. That aside, there appears to be ancient dwarf relics hidden in it that our allies in the North believe could be a great asset. Items of ancient craft of the Sons of Durin that could help secure the alliances of some of the dwarves in the region that have come to their aid.

A dwarf of the Iron Hills named Mhulo seeks relics of his kin, and securing his loyalty to the cause of defending Arnor Could be of great benefit.  If you can successfully obtain this relic, you will be rewarded greatly. Indeed, with the horse Mablung rides on! I pray that your men can muster the fighting gumption to gather up this relics. Our Northern kin are in great need.  A map has been provided with the location.

Beren, Son of the Steward.

Ondoher saw that this was his chance to gain back the Honor that he had lost. “Stable this horse! We leave now. We cannot wait for Hirgon to  heal. We must leave at once!”

“Leave now? He is not yet on the mend!” replied Arveleg. “What are we to do? Just leave him here while we few go out tramping about these unfamiliar lands? How will he ever find us?”

“ We do not have time for this questions. Sir, you know this land, do you not?”

The old farmer agreed he did know the land and would tell Hirgon how to find them at the location of the Relic.

So it was that the men of Gondor set out again. they had traveled a few days nothing and no one hindering them. Ondoher was pushing them hard to their destination. But then, something happened even many wise would not expect.

Hurin, having keen sight, looked on the horizon. There was a number of ruinous walls here and there, but then he looked and saw a small shrine, a left over building of a by-gone age. in it stood the most unlikely imaginable enemy: the corrupt and evil Men of Rhûn. “Men of the East!” he cried.

Ondoher knew much of the Easterlings. Their people were a sworn enemy of Gondor, and were worshippers of the Dark Lord, once upon a time when he still walked Middle-Earth. Knowing what threat they could posed, he knew he could not let them stay in the region. It was the time for them to scare them off, showing that even the Might of Gondor was able to be dispatched this far North.

The men of Gondor setup behind a wall. Turgon and Hurin fired their bows, managing to strike down an warrior. “We have it now, men! “ Cried Ondoher. “Follow me! Form up!”

Forming a small shield wall, archers in the rear, the men of Gondor charged in to get up to another to setup a defensive position. Many of the enemy’s arrows flew, but none could penetrate their Gondorian shields and plate armor. Once to the wall, the scrap really began.

The enemy charged in, and in turn flanked the Men of Gondor. The Easterlings made great use of the reach of their pikes, only requiring one man to go toe to toe with Ondoher, but being support by 2 others.

As the two lines clashed, Turgon charged in with Arveleg, and made an attempt to take down their enemy to help  Turin beyond them, but was fought back by the ferocious  response of the single warrior. Turin would fight, and fall on his own.

The Men of Minas Tirith  rumbled with the enemies of Rhûn for some time, but one by one, they all fell. Mablung, the new comer was able to hold his ground, but the battle was not longer in his favor against the many. It was in this moment that he fled, knowing there was no honor in dying when his brothers needed tending to.

Mablung lost the Easterlings, but was able to come back around and gather his comrades up. He hid them quickly, and they rested for some time.

He sat long silently in defense of his friends, when he heard a rustling in the woods. He readied himself to shove his spear into the face of the first Easterling that came through… But then appeared a familiar face. A young warrior of Gondor made his approach. “Well, what has you on the swords edge, friend?’ He suddenly looked around, “Is the enemy at hand?” He drew his sword… It was Malbeth, a long time friend of Mablung. They had gone through the basic training together, and became fast friends through their duties.

“You nearly caught a spear to the eye, halfwit! We were waylaid by Easterlings and many fell.

“Then i suppose that means it is good that i followed you here! It would have been terribly dull without you to scrub the floor of the barracks with me,” replied Malbeth in a hushed voice. “Looks like you could use a hand.”

Mablung sighed.  “You are a fool, but a welcome site nonetheless. They may court martial you for leaving your post.”

“Then i expect a shining recommendation from you when this Ondoher asks about it.”

With that, they sat quietly, awaiting for the company to get the rest they needed. Before long, they all made a Full recovery, but Turin received a wound that would remain with him for some time, and Arveleg was would not be able to fight for some time.

Snaga’s Finest Hour in Mirkwood

Snaga and his orcs bullied their way through the forest.  The elves had to be near, and they would not escape the wrath that was due them.  Snaga swore the oath to see the remnants of their cowardly company slain and their heads put on pikes.

The others gave Snaga a wide berth.  Since the night time encounter with the dark master, and the battle with the elven battle company, the orc had undergone significant changes.  Once small, he now appeared larger.  Not hulking, but larger in presence.

His skin had darkened and cracks appeared like dried mud.  Snaga’s eyes were the most disturbing of all.  Filled with an ethereal light, they were empty pools of hate that terrified even the stoutest of his orc warriors.

The forest darkened around them and soon they realized that they were lost.  Snaga said not a word.  He kept along the ancient path, letting the fates guide him to his destination.  He had heard of Mirkwood, full of elven sorcery and witchcraft that was built to confuse and befuddle those that went in.

Forward.  Forward was the only way.

Webbing became visible.  A little at first, like wisps of silk, but getting heavier and heavier as they progressed further in.  Large shapes, cocooned in webs, hung from the tree limbs.

Snaga’s orcs were clearly nervous.  Fear began creeping into their bellies.  The scent of it was thick.

Lister, the warg riding orc scout, padded up next to Snaga as they walked.

“There are enemies about great Snaga.”  The cowardly scout said, avoiding eye contact.  “Spiders and other fell creatures.  We can sense them watching.”

Snaga regarded his scout for a moment as they walked before speaking.  His voice was darker, deeper, and full of the dark master’s authority.

“If they are foolish enough to attack, we will claim their forest kingdom for our own.”  Snaga said with bravado.

A screeching sound was heard off beyond the thick trees.  Scuttling shapes could be seen in the canopy of leaves above.

“And foolish they seem to be.”  the orc barbarian Grumshaz muttered, taking a swig of brownish liquid from his skin before hefting his large military pick in two great hands.

Scenario:  Mirkwood Forest
The game lasts 9 turns.  Snaga’s orcs must last until the end of the game, or the game ends when their force drops to 25% of its size, meaning if three models remain the orcs lose.

The orcs would face four respawning mirkwood spiders which would randomly spawn in up to six different forest locations on the table.

Spiders dont’ care about terrain and climb over intervening terrain with ease, so trying to bottleneck them would be a challenge.  The key would be to try to keep the spiders engaged with either a swarm of orc attacks, or find a way to keep them one on one so only one orc could drop as spiders have two attacks each and could drop two warriors a turn each with good rolls.

Three of the four spiders spawned in the same area to the left of the image above, while one spawned to the right.

Turns 1 – 3

Snaga had his main force back to the cliff to defend it, while Lister on his warg broke off the flank to keep himself safe and look for opportunities to charge a flank as needed (provided he could pass a Courage 2 terror check… )

Snaga wanted to minimize contact as long as possible.  The two orc archers climbed the tree behind them to get better vantage.  Blish, the orc assassin, managed to land a poisoned arrow into the eye of one of the spiders coming in.

However… the spiders did not care about the tree and one climbed up and over it, taking Blish out while leaving Tasty to remain in the tree.

Still, going into the middle of the battle with only losing a single orc was doing pretty well!

The spider along the right side of the picture (shown as the bottom above) attacked the cliff edge twice but couldn’t get through the orc defenses stationed there, even taking a wound for its troubles!

Turn 6

The spiders managed to whittle down a few orcs, but by turn 6 there were still 8 models standing.  Snaga kept himself and two others nearby, hoping his Terror would keep the remaining spiders at bay, while the three on the cliff were succeeding at holding that down.

With three spiders moving in, Iggy Yellow Mug charged forward at one of the spiders.  It was a reckless move but one that would hopefully buy Snaga and his warriors time.  The other spiders had to charge him as well since he was the closest enemy, and then Iggy did something that was amazing… he shielded and with his two attack dice won a duel against six duel dice coming back at him… surviving an additional turn and keeping the attacks off of Snaga’s main group.

Iggy’s sacrifice would be remembered, for he rolled a ‘6’ on promotion later on, becoming an orc hero…

Turn 9

The spiders were dying, but more were spawning.  Fortunately for Snaga they were spawning in the same areas.  The cliff wall was eventually lost, and Lister couldn’t manage to pass a single courage check to charge a spider, preferring to keep himself and his warg safe.

The final turn approached and the spiders had to drop two orcs to feast on their rancid flesh and win the scenario.

One orc fell…. then the cliff side battle was won in favor of Snaga.  It came down to Mr. Snaga and the last spider.  The spider won the duel… but failed to wound the terrifying orc leader.

With that, elven hunters moved into the area and began dispatching the spiders.   Snaga, realizing that he was best off not seen at all, took his injured company and slunk off into the shadows where they were able to rest and recoup.

Snaga’s finest hour and first victory in the campaign… and what a turning point it could be!

5 influence gained
Rolled a special which turns out to be a Black Numenereon (with influence bump to add 1 to the roll)

Almost all of the orcs leveled as they were all on the cusp.

Meetles, Tanakash, Yoz, and Iggy Yellow Mug all rolled “6” on their promotion roll, making them heroes.

Eskir the Oiled was promoted to a Morranon Orc.

Gorn the Black was recruited into the warband as a black numenereon warrior.

Grumshaz the barbarian hero bumped his fight value to 4.

Bilsh the orc assassin received Steady Aim.

Now that Snaga and his warriors are out of Mirkwood… vengeance will be dealt.

Beneath the Boughs of Mirkwood

Having long departed from home, your battle company has begun a long journey in pursuit of enemy forces.  Your company must either traverse the dense woodland terrain of Mirkwood, or spend many more weeks going around.

Opting to press onward along the winding and gloomy paths, it is not long before the powers of the wood begin to take hold.

Doubt and confusion start to seep into the minds of those within the forest, clouding their judgement and leading them away from the safety of the path.  Now they are hopelessly lost within the constant gloom of the forest, and some cannot shake the feeling that they are being watched…

The truth is far worse than they feared.