Back to Middle Earth
Week 8, The Trek to the Dwarves
Just to keep things written down, here are the traveling names that some of us are using: Pfusand is going as "Dunwine." Sophie is going as "Nolien," an Elvish translation of "Sophie." Chris is going as "Arandil," the closest Elvish translation of "Christopher" that we could come up with, given the English/Elvish dictionary we have. Tom is going by a Japanese name that translates as "Second Prince." Details next log.
When last we left the Pantope crew, they had just defeated the wolves and werewolves that had attacked them in a pass through the Ered Mithrin. Daewen slept through the whole thing. We tell her to go back to sleep, it's over. Some of us are wounded; Pfusand is negative. We reset watches and the night passes.
Lorelei works on Pfusand and heals him enough that he feels capable of continuing the trek. We do. We come out of the woods after a couple hours hike, and come face-to-face with a second range of mountains that are even higher than the ones we just passed through. Plausible paths are to the east and west.
Since we've just come through a pass, Cantrel suggests that we might look for inhabitants. Most mountain passes, no matter how desolate, have people living near them.
Searching around, we find a small stone cabin a bit to the west of us. Chris knocks. No one answers. Lorelei probes the door and finds that there is no one home. We search around and find nothing of interest. We're pretty sure that the inhabitants we not dwarves from the height of the chairs. There are two other small buildings, a tool shed and an outhouse.
The favorite theory we have (advanced by Cantrel) is that the cabin is the home of the werewolves that attacked us last night. What little stuff we find supports this theory.
Scouting around, we find another small building. We decide to make a fire and camp here. While foraging, Pfusand finds some wolf footprints. More data for Cantrel's theory. He embellishes it, adding that there might be females and children hiding in the woods.
After a good dinner, a bit of napping, and nightfall, we notice lights in the distance and decide to go investigate. We decide against leaving anyone back at camp, so we wake the sleepers and tromp in the direction of the lights.
We find a sprawling camp off in the woods to the west of us. Chris, Alag, and Lorelei decide to investigate. They sneak near enough to notice that the campers are not human. Probably orcs. We were told that there were orcs in the north. We decide to head back to our old camp, and spend the night quietly, and with no fire. During the night, Daewen hears something near the out-buildings and finds footprints. More data consistent with Cantrel's theory.
Lorelei and Alag heal Pfusand some more. We have a certain amount of debate as to which direction to go in. Chris, Sophie, and Lorelei have been pouring over the map. There is possibly a marked pass to the west. There are what look like caves to the east. The orcs are to the west. Pfusand has been wanting us to go east ever since we tried scaling the Ered Mithrin. Cantrel asks Chris to flip a coin and dice it to show us the right direction. Chris mutters that divination by dicing has never worked all that well, but Cantrel says it's as good a method as any, and others agree. So Chris flips a coin and it comes up east. We head east.
We notice several possible high passes, but none that we particularly like. We keep heading east. By nightfall, we are at the foot of the mountain that has the caves marked on it. During the night, Lorelei, Alag, and Tom notice lights higher up on the mountain.
Day 7 -- First Pick-up Day
Pfusand gets healed fully. Cantrel wants to do some aerial reconnaissance. He has the idea that if he is glamoured to look like an eagle, then flying about should be pretty safe. Alag mentions that the glamour that he and Daewen do often changes the nature of what they glamour -- if they do it enough, Cantrel might really become an eagle. Cantrel growls that he had better not, for Alag's own sake. Properly glamoured, Cantrel sets aloft. Not bad looking at all. A bit clumsy, perhaps a bit more like a gooney bird than an eagle, but not bad.
Cantrel finds a cave higher up the mountain. Wary of what might be in it, he makes a couple of quick flights by it, but does no exploring. He also scouts us out a pass through the mountains.
A bit of debate ensues. It's possible that Cantrel could fly himself and Tom off to the Pantope pick-up point and steer the Pantope over here to save us some walking. Ultimately, we decide against it.
Cantrel asks Alag to put a couple of triggered glamours (triggered by the word "tweet") on him so that he can turn into an eagle at will. Cantrel has been bothering Chris lately by using TK to brush Chris's hand as he plays the guitar he's carrying. Chris puts triggered levitations on Cantrel as Alag places the glamour on Cantrel. Chris neglects to mention this to anyone.
We go through the pass. It involves a little climbing, but it's no sweat. We camp for lunch, and rest in the pass. Pfusand finds a booted footprint a day or so old. We make it out into the valley by nightfall.
Cantrel decides to go off on a recon flight. As he says "tweet," he turns into an eagle and lifts up into the air, in a gradual ascent. Much better flight this time. Really looks like an eagle. We are suitably impressed.
When Cantrel comes back, he mentions that the glamour seems to be working much better this time, and not only that, but he lifted off into the air even before he started to fly. "Maybe you're starting to turn into an eagle." suggests Chris, helpfully. "I better not, for his sake!" grumbles Cantrel, motioning at Alag.
That night, on last watch, Daewen notices more booted footprints. They were not there at dinner time.
We start heading off toward the dwarves' castle. During lunch, Lorelei thinks she notices someone behind a rock. Alag goes off to investigate and finds a well - equipped dwarf, who joins us for lunch. His name is Vestri.
Vestri asks about us, and we tell him we're going to see the dwarven king. He mentions that for a time, he thought we were going to try to kill the dragon that lives in the cave Cantrel flew by. We swallow hard.
We continue on to the dwarven lair, escorted by Vestri.
We arrive there toward the end of dinner time, and Vestri says that he'll try to get us an audience with Fulla III, the king, tomorrow. He finds us rooms in the bowels of the dwarven lair.
Late in the morning, a dwarven lad finds us and asks if we've had breakfast. We haven't. We're taken to a big hall with lots of tables, and wee pick over what's left of breakfast. Vestri arrives later, very hung over. He hadn't seen the fellows in quite some time, so last night they all tossed back a few kegs and told stories and caught up on gossip. He'll try to make us an appointment around lunch time. He suggests that we not go wandering, and then wanders off himself. We get left in the dining hall again.
Later, another dwarf comes and finds us there. He takes Tom and Sophie off to see an aged dwarf who makes us an appointment to see Fulla tomorrow morning. We're told to bring Vestri. Vestri, we hear, is out of it and back in bed. We're assigned a guard, one Gaun.
Gaun finds us better rooms, ones befitting people awaiting an audience with Fulla. Vestri put us up in a spare room back where the barracks are. Vestri shows up later, looking somewhat better. He can now see out of one eye. We learn that the dwarven lair is called Az'n-Ulab'r-džm, or the Red Valley Mansion for those of you not up on your Kh'zad.
Vestri arrives in the morning, looking chipper and polished. We go to see the king, telling our tale of woe yet again. We show him Dain's letter of introduction, and they're impressed. Fulla asks if there's some reason that Dain recommended us so highly. We say that we did pay rather well for Dain's services. Fulla likes this. We agree to pay Fulla to see his crowns, at the rate of .3155 gold pieces per crown, the same we paid Dain (100 gold for 317 crowns). Fulla likes this. We go off as they assemble the crowns. It's not any of them (figures).
Fulla tells us again about Bilbo's part of the horde. This is the third time we've been told this, by Thranduil, by Vestri, and by Fulla. All of them tell us that Bilbo has two crowns. When we searched him, some fifty years ago, he had only one. Furthermore, we're told that Bilbo left with six trunks of treasure, and he had only one when we roughed him up.
This is starting to sound depressing. Of the three "missing" crowns, we now have possibilities of where they are. Bard has one, Bilbo two. You don't suppose that he ditched the other one somewhere, do you? You don't suppose that the reason we got surprised by the worldbenders the last time we hit Bilbo is that we had already hit him before? When will we ever learn that it's best to do things in chronological order?
We decide that we're going to pack up for an expedition to the Shire. We replenish our supplies from the dwarves. Chris spends some time with Vestri pouring over the maps, marking in the dwarven roads (which were not on there and would have made travel easier). Other notations on the map are clarified. While Chris, Tom, and Sophie are studying the map late at night, Lorelei comes over to where they are and mutters, "Are we really going to walk all the way to the Shire?" They shhh her and give her a wink.
We set out on day 14, and arrive in the Pantope without incident.
We're left with possible courses of action including:
I omitted to mention that Vestri made some comment about our man-bird and asked if they were common in the East. We said that they were not.
We also know that Vestri has three brothers, one of whom is named Ostri. We suspect that the others are something like Nordri and Sudri. (Get it?) We said that we had never met Ostri.
We had debated checking over the crowns owned by the dwarves of the east before dealing with Bilbo. The advantage of this is that we eliminate all other crowns before going to deal with Bilbo. As seductive as this may be, there are a couple disadvantages.
One is that it looks a bit peculiar. We can probably pass it off (since we're inscrutable Easterners), but it does involve an amount of zig-zagging (assuming the dwarves don't have the crown). As inscrutable Easterers, it might make sense that we would check the many before the two, but...
The other is some nagging feelings that Sophie has about Ostri. Suppose we meet him. Suppose he's really been to the East. Ostri could in fact be far more dangerous to us than Bilbo.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.