We talked with the escaped slave who had fled from the orcs of Dwimmerhorn and learned some very interesting information. It seems that our guide to Dwimmerhorn, Magrick, is actually tainted by the Shadow and he has been guiding people into the wilderness and delivering them into the hands of the enemy. Slave labor, or perhaps a food source, for the orcs.
The escaped slave, Lefstan, was keen to exact his revenge on his captors and Magrick so he equipped himself with some orcish weaponry and showed us a goat path up the mountain which he had used to escape. He said that it would lead us into the fortress of Dwimmerhorn safely and undetected.
It was not an easy climb though. Several times, members of the Fellowship, even the nimble Falco, slipped and fell dangerously back down the path, twisting ankles, bruising muscles and, most importantly, injuring their pride. After many hours, we reached the top of the trail to a small breach in the walls of the fortress upon Dwimmerhorn.
We needed our wits about us to remain undetected inside the fortress as we soon discovered that it was heavily populated with both orcs and humans working together. Humans are such weak-willed people and easily subverted to the Shadow. I was disheartened to see the alliance of Man and Orc on the mountain top.
Luckily, we had magical charms given to us by Radagast the Brown which aided us mightily in our reconnaissance mission. Any time that an enemy would get too close to us, birds and other animals would distract them so that we remained unseen.
We sneaked around the courtyard of fortress, keeping to the shadows of the walls. Tremendous noise was coming from the central building in the courtyard and we went over to have a listen. Foul orcs filled the building and they were complaining about the boredom of their posting here, how much they wanted to eat a hobbit, and other standard Orcish nonsense. If it weren’t for the critical nature of our secret reconnaissance, I would have enjoying feeding those Orcs to Mornrukh, my mattock. Alas, the mission required stealth and secrecy so I held down my bloodlust.
There were also three pits in the center of the courtyard where the orcs were keeping human slaves. Lefstan let us know that was where he had escaped from. We discussed the possibility of trying to free them but given their general ill health and the dangers to both us and the mission, we decided that returning for them later with an army was the best option.
We searched out two buildings before we declared the mission a success and we left the mountain top. The first was a building next to a temple. It was that building where I write these words now. There is a passageway leading down into the mountain and as we started our descent, I was overcome with a sense of dread and doom from some ancient evil within. Knowing that this foe was beyond us, I cautioned the fellowship to withdraw from that building lest we awaken whatever lay below. Realizing that I would not recommend withdrawal from an enemy lightly, the Fellowship heeded my warning and we left.
We then stealthily approached the temple, with both Bifur and Falco expertly leading the group from blind spot to nook and cranny. It was almost as if they were invisible, such was their skill in evading detection from the enemy. It was an evil looking black temple with large brass doors. The doors so big that Falco was convinced that oliphants must be inside. Of course, there were not and I suspect Falco was a bit disappointed.
We snuck into the temple and kept to the shadows. On the far end of it, we saw a shrine near a casket with green glowing chains in it. A Man and Orc were talking to each other and a long dead corpse in robes was between them on the floor. We approached silently; close enough to hear their words.
The Orc mentioned that the goblin tribes they had summoned to Dwimmerhorn were getting restless and needed battle. Any nearby villages are in imminent danger. Then, a shock; doubly so. The corpse itself started talking. Not only that but it was in the voice that was in my head during the ordeal of Dol Guldur. The voice that drove me to despair.
It said that the chains were a weapon of immense power but they were currently useless to them until they mastered the secrets of the chains. We would find out later from Radagast the Brown that the chains the corpse was referring to were the Chains of Fangorodin; an ancient artifact dating back to the First Wars which were used to chain and control dragons. If we had known that at the time, we probably would have tried to escape with them to keep them out of the Enemy’s hands but alas, we did not.
The Man and Orc were the only two people in the temple besides us and we were sorely tempted to butcher the two of them then and there but, again, the nature of the mission stayed our hands. We hid as they exited the temple after the corpse stopped talking. We approached the chains and they were difficult to get close to. A pain in my chest, as if my heart was ready to implode, grew the closer I got to it. Ancient artifact evil, indeed.
We left it behind and made a stealthy retreat from Dwimmerhorn. The reconnaissance mission perfectly executed, we traveled back to the Mountain Hall and told Hartfast what we discovered. Magrick was with the Mountain Men and whispering poison into Hartfast’s ears; no doubt telling him that us in the Fellowship were his enemies and not to be trusted. However, after a convincing speech from Falco, Hartfast saw the truth of Magrick’s darkness, threw him into the river and ordered his archers to shoot him dead. We grimly watched Magrick’s corpse, full of arrows, float away down the river. A deserved end for those who betray their own.
We feasted at the Mountain Hall with Hartfast and his Mountain Men that night. We explained the urgency of the danger of the orcs from Dwimmerhorn and he invited us to travel with him to the Folkmoot of the Woodsmen at Rhosgobel. There the Council of Woodsmen would decide what action was needed against Dwimmerhorn.
At the Folkmoot, we met many distinguished and lordly people, such as Ingermer, Head of the Woodlands, Firtwald the Runner, Amarleoad, Shield Maiden of the Black Tarn, Cywin the Generous and Boffry, son of Boffer. Bifur and myself fit right in. Radagast the Brown and Hartfast also in attendance, of course.
There were several proposals discussed at the Folkmoot with an additional surprise proposal which happened after uninvited guests on horseback arrived at the Moot. The riders were led by one called Mokdread of Tyrant’s Hill. He has another name and it shocked the Council. He is Ingold, the long last son of Ingermer, having at last returned. He brought “gifts” of decapitated orc heads to present to the Council. That increased his worth in my eyes immensely. Mokdread said that he and his riders have been battling orcs and keeping the lands of the Black Tarn safe and he demanded a seat on the Council for his efforts.
The other less surprising proposals included an attack on Dwimmerhorn that Mokdread insisted that he lead, a trade alliance proposed by Cywin the Generous with his people, an expansion of the villages around the Black Tarn proposed by Amarleoad and a survey of the Old Forest Road proposed by Boffry, sent by Dain II Ironfoot, the King under the Mountain.
This last proposal interested myself and Bifur the most as it was from one of our own and the intention of the survey is to see if the Old Forest Road can be reopened and trade allowed on that road thereby avoiding passage through the lands of the Elves of Mirkwood. Any chance to stick it to the elves needs to be explored and, of course, our father is still being held captive in Gundabad so the opportunity to increase our standing with Durin’s Folk and potentially raise an army to wipe out the Orcs of Gundabad and rescue our beloved father is essential.
All proposals passed with the Council though the inclusion of Mokdread on the Council wasn’t a sure thing but I added my voice in support of him. Wisely, the Council heeded my advice and the vote passed.
After the Moot, we wasted no time and the Fellowship returned to Dwimmerhorn with a small army of Mokdread’s riders. We were all eager to destroy orcish scum but, alas, in the time since we were there, the orcs had moved on. Dwimmerhorn was deserted. The human slaves in the pits were all dead and all signs of the Enemy gone. It is almost as if they knew we were coming and fled their inevitable destruction. A traitor amongst the members of the Folkmoot who tipped off the orcs, perhaps?
Mokdread declared the mission a success – “We came to clear out the orcs and they are cleared out so job done,” he said. I have yet to see him battle so he is still untested in my opinion. Mokdread and his riders then left Dwimmerhorn. The Fellowship remained and spent the time to search through the courtyard and buildings. In particular, the sense of Ancient Evil from below still persisted and Bifur insisted that he collapse the entrance to whatever lies below. So I’ve been writing these notes while Bifur is hard at work.
Wait. That feeling… it is getting stronger. It approaches……