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…

Episode 1 – Introductions

This is the first entry into the Tomb of Annihilation and with it I would like to explain how the format will work.

The game consists of a Dungeon Master, who will from this point be abbreviated as DM, and a number of players.  To begin this adventure, we have two main characters that start off the story:  Auticus and Devito.

Auticus and Devito are twin brothers, born of the noble Ser Gwain of Toth and his wife Esmeralda.  Ser Gwain is a sworn knight of the order of the White Swan and member of the household guard of King Errin the Pious, king of the lands called Northlund.

This tale does not really concern itself with Northlund, its king, or its knights, however.  Suffice it to say that Auticus and Devito were raised in comfortable surroundings and enjoyed the privileges of an influential knight and a well-polished upbringing.

Though Auticus and Devito are twin brothers, they look nothing alike.  Auticus stands tall and has set shoulders, whereas Devito has the stature of a dwarf, and an ugly one at that.

Auticus was raised among books and learning, and was submitted for learning at the Tower of the White Crystal, where he apprenticed as a young wizard.  He was not the greatest of pupils, often earning the ire of his professors in his attempts at using his status and upbringing to his advantage, and he became known for cutting corners where he could;  a practice he often referred to as Time Management.

Devito was loved by his parents, though his physical stature marked him for mockery and judgement by all of his peers.  Whereas Auticus succeeded through influence and intellect, Devito had a marked interest in alcohol, whores, and the shadowy underworld of Northlund.

The two brothers were close despite their differences and abilities.  It is because of that closeness that when Auticus hears tell of an expedition set for a far away city called Chult, a place full of lost cities ripe for exploration, that Devito insists that he come along as well to keep his brother company and to keep him safe.

But such is the world that expeditions to far away cities are niceties that cover other darker things that entangle the world in shadow.  For the past several days the talk on the streets and in the taverns has been all about a horrible wasting curse that has begun afflicting the people seemingly at random!

The victim grows thinner and weaker each day, slowly but steadily sliding toward the ferryman’s possession.

Temples and scholars of divine means are at a loss to explain this curse that has affected the entire region, and perhaps even the entire world…

Auticus has little interest in this disease, however.  The invincibility of youth cloaks his thoughts and his interests lie in the hidden troves of knowledge and the arcane that the ancient civilizations near Chult have buried and forgotten about.

And so on a late-summer evening, Auticus and Devito are summoned to the house of the wizard-merchant to meet their benefactor and learn of the details of their expedition to the steamy jungles of the south…