Back to Middle Earth
Week 7, To the Dwarves of the Grey Mountians
We find our heroes trudging down the road over the northern plains, on their way to see the dwarves of the Grey Mountains. They have been on the road four two weeks. In one more week, they are scheduled to rendezvous with the pantope in the Uthrael Beoac, "Valley of the Lords," near the ruined towers of Thyrn Suel, "Wind Thrones."
We are looking for a pass through these mountains, to get to the valley. From hunch and his map, Tom suggests leaving the road and heading northwest. Half a day later, the country is getting rough and looks no more promising ahead. We back off and head more nearly due west.
Day 1 since we left the road: We look for a pass in the western foothills. Nothing.
Day 2: We think we may see a HIGH pass, so we head into the mountains. The hiking and climbing is exhausting and we camp early.
Day 3: Around noon, we are struggling through the pass and Cantrel spots a figure in the distance. It looks like a large human, clad in furs, with a walking stick and maybe a small backpack. Once we are above the tree-line, we sometimes hear four-footed padding from a distance. Daewen finds tracks that could belong to a large wolf, small bear, or large cat. That night, we hear wolves baying.
Day 4: We make good progress at first, then come to a sort of cul-de-sac. We split up, trying to find the best way to cope with it. Cantrel goes back along our trail to see if we're being followed. Alag goes straight up. Daewen and Tom go right, then up. Soon they are forced to go sideways. Chris and Pfusand go left, then up. It's very bad climbing. Eventually, Alag, Chris, Pfusand, Daewen, and Tom meet each other. This leaves Lorelei and Sophie waiting patiently at the bottom; since none of the better climbers can go up further, we rather wish we'd done the same. We back off and try again.
We find a steep grade and go hiking up it. Daewen hushes us and we can all head pipes playing in the distance. Alag scouts stealthily ahead and discovers our fur-clad wanderer from yesterday, on a small peak, regarding a flock of mountain goats from a distance and tootling on his pipe. He doesn't see Alag.
Alag returns and reports, so Chris and he go back up to ask this local directions. They sneak up to about eight feet away, then deliberately kick a peddle. He jumps in a very satisfying manner. After polite if guarded greetings, they ask where a good pass is and get directions. He also tells us the dwarves are a day or two down the valley from here. Then they bid him good day and leave. That's all. He looks disconcerted as they leave.
The directions prove good, though Alag almost falls while we're following them. But Cantrel TKs him to prevent toppling over. Toward the end of the day, we see the valley spreading out before us. A little extra hiking gets us below the tree-line. As we're setting camp, we see our guide running and jumping down the valley, through loose rock. We wave, but he's too busy to reply and soon passes us.
That night, in the middle of the first watch, Tom and Pfusand see a figure approaching. It's the guide again. Again, he ignores our hails and vanishes into some nearby brush. Pfusand goes to investigate. He appears to be just sitting. Suddenly, he attacks Pfusand and starts throttling him. Then he BITES and Pfusand finds he is being attacked by a wolf, with hands. He retaliates by turning into a bear.
After a bit, Tom hears the scuffling in the bushes, shouts to the sleeping party, and heads off to the rescue. He nearly trips over a second wolf. Chris shows up at the same time as a third wolf. All three werewolves do very respectable damage with both teeth and highly un-canine claws.
Then Alag and Lorelei rouse. Lorelei puts Sophie to the job of building up our campfire and gets her sword. Alag starts lobbing our magical arrows into the wolves; they work very well, which is just as well for both Chris and Tom, who had wolves wrapped around them, winning.
Pfusand eventually beats his into insensibility, but it was a good stiff fight. Around the time the other two are going down, Cantrel is up and notices Something watching from the bushes in another direction. So does Lorelei. Tom notices them noticing and kicks in his newly-learned Second Sight. This penetrates the darkness, revealing three MORE wolves in the bushes. He informs the others. Lorelei casts Wards around herself and Sophie.
The three wolves come leaping out of cover together, threatening Cantrel with growls. He threatens them with the sword and with the information that the other three are dead. (Not quite yet, but we're working on it. Pfusand has killed his, and Tom is getting ready to dispatch the other two.) Hm. Cantrel notes that these three wolves show no sign of comprehending his words.
Alag's arrows knock out one of the new wolves, and knock down another. Cantrel takes out after the third, but nearly collides with Chris, who was doing the same thing, in the dark, in the rush. The third wolf gets away.
Meanwhile, Tom's wolf comes back to life for one rousing finale, costing Tom a little more blood before Alag's heat-seeking cruise arrow finishes it off.
We note that the first three wolves resume human form once they are dead. Not so the last two we killed. Around then, Daewen wakes up. "What's going on?"
"Well, it looks like we WERE being attacked by three werewolves and three wargs, but it's over now." She goes back to sleep and we leave our heroes bandaging their wounds. Alag is collecting trophies off the wolves, to show the dwarves later. We trust the dwarves don't like werewolves any more than we do.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.