Laketown – Spring 2956
As my companions wander South to find adventure and riches, I’m stuck in bed recovering. Curse these healers, I told them I’m quite ready to get goi…
the following lines are smudged with specks of blood
All right, not quite, but give me a couple of days and for sure I will…
more blood stains
Well, this is just great, and my last good bit of parchment too. My Apologies Lord Steward, but this will have to do as my report.
I would report about our visit to Elrond and the wonders of the Last Homely Home, but Falco says we’re not supposed to talk about it. Some rule about “what happens in Rivendell”. Suffice to say that we went there and our companions had a variety of recovered items entrusted to Elrond. For some reason Khorum was much better company afterwards.
As we spent the winter at the, The Easterly Inn messengers came to announce that King Bard was calling another Council of the Northern leaders in the Spring. The meeting would be had at Laketown this time around, so as not to suggest that Bard puts himself above other leaders. Being the only man of Gondor around these parts, I was afforded an invitation as a special guest and observer.
The travel was blessedly free of skirmishes with spiders, or elves, and Khorum’s mattock did not bash any heads, for which the rest of us were all thankful. By the time we arrived some of the dignitaries were already occupying the various inns and the town was getting quite crowded. However we did manage to find rooms with one of Falco’s “business partners”, once the bales of weed had been moved away. Representatives of the various Woodsmen faction were already here, as well as from Erebor and even the Grey Mountains.
More unusual was the presence of an envoy from the Viglundings, and none other than Viglund’s daughter, Astrid. If you’ve not read about them yet, Viglund and his folk are Beorn’s estranged cousins, who live in the harsh lands of the northern Anduin Vale. They are a harsh people themselves, living near goblins and even trading with them, and that’s not nearly all of their unsavory customs.
Of Beorn himself, and his folk, there was not a peep. Maybe we should have gone down to meet him before we rode here. As for the Elves of Mirkwood, King Thranduil had not sent a large delegation this year, probably still offended at his trees being cut down, so apparently he had tasked our companion Eladren to represent him.
There were also a few other special guests like myself. One of such was Frah, probably the second strangest Dwarf I’ve ever met (Bifur does, and always will hold the crown there). He went by the name of Frah and he seemed to have adopted the manners, and clothing of the Mirwood elves over those of his people, which made for a peculiar sight indeed. Apparently he was here to solicit help and funding to explore some forgotten Dwarf stronghold in the mountains, as he’d happily explain to all who approached him.
Last but not least was Mogdred of Tyrant’s Hill, who I’d heard of from Falco. A dour fellow, we was even more straightforward about why he came here. He needed weapons and support to fight the Orcs of Dol Guldur, and he cared little about anyone else’s problems.
We tried to approach Astrid separately, but although she’d accept a drink readily enough, she remain tight-lipped about her agenda. She had much better manners than her companions, but hard eyes in a face sharp as a knife. I must say I didn’t really know what to make of her.
During one night at one of the city’s inns, while we were still trying to gleam tidings and rumors, but mostly just enjoying good ale, I suddenly felt a tingle up my spine. I turned back and across the tavern, there was a man in woodsman garb, staring at me with dark eyes. I tapped my drinking companion’s shoulder and asked him if he knew the man, but when I turned back he was nowhere to be seen. I asked around the tavern and a few people who had caught glimpse of the man had recognized him as Haldar, a woodsman hunter who had supposedly vanished into Mirkwood a few months back. Strange enough but try as I might there was no finding the man, so eventually I went back to my mug.
A couple days later, the new Master of Laketown, a plump man with funny hair and tiny, sausage-like fingers proclaimed the Council of the North open. A variety of issues were discussed, which I’ll arrange in a neat list for ease of reading.
- King Bard started the discussion with matters innocuous enough: He planned to open more farmlands around the Dale, which nobody had any issue with.
- Then came a much trickier issue. Following skirmishes in which Beorn’s peple had allegedly attacked Viglundings around the Forest Gate, Astrid sought a resolution against Beorn, to formally recognize her people’s right to occupy the Forest Gate. Apparently shed had been busy trying to convince the other leaders of her cause, and with Beorn not here to defend himself it seemed for a moment that she might get her way – the Master seemed undecided, but eventually both the Dwarves and Elves moved to quash the idea.
- Next was the thorny issue of trade tariffs through the elf-path of Mirkwood. Predictably, everyone but Thranduil wanted those lowered, so poor Eladrin became a bit wild-eyed at the pressure and apparently wished he were back in the woods. The discussions were long and Mogdred started to grunt his impatience. Eventually the Elves gavein that they may lower the tariffs, if their other grievances regarding the cutting of trees were addressed.
- The cutting of trees was next, and both Bard and the Master were very noncommital when it came to chopping fewer trees. The Master proposed a strange scheme in which his people would cut the trees, and make the Elves pay for them but nobody paid him much attention. The Elves were frustrated at this and vowed that the matter should be discussed further.
- Next was an envoy from far away Dorwinion – a finely dressed man with a thin, waxed mustache and a extravagant feathered hat. He brought us the sad news that no wine would be forthcoming from his lands this year, as they had been hit by a plague from the South, and the once fertile wineyards had become barren. He implored our assistance to provide his lands with any kind of fertilizer to restore their soil – manure being the most obvious. Everyone was at a loss as how to carry manure to such distant lands, but I made a note to inform Falco, he fancied himself an expert in pig-shit, and he might well come up with one of his crazy business schemes.
- Frah, who had been getting impatient, got to present his proposal for an expedition into the norther mounts, seeking a lost Dwarven city and its treasure. Strangely enough the Master was quite interested there, but the other leaders were mostly indifferent, so the good Dwarf was left with some fairly empty promises, and some jeers from his fellows from Erebor.
- An envoy from Black Tarn informed us about increasing spider attacks in that area, and requested urgent help for their defense, as well as healers skilled in curing spider’s poison. The Elves agreed so send healers, while King Bard said he’d send what warriors he could spare, giving our assemble party a pointed glance.
- FInally Mogdred, who was positively fuming at this point, got to make his case. He needed men and weapons to defend Southern Mirkwood from increasing Orc attacks out of Dol Guldur. He intimated that this was for everyone’s safety and offered no payment in return.
The Dwarves had been angling to sell weapons from their forges, but the last bit cut them short. On my side, I’d been mulling over an idea and stepped up to speak.
“My Lords, Tyrant’s hill is far to the South from here, across arduous lands. My own Kingdom is not much farther a journey from there than the road here. It just so happens than our armories hold many more swords than we have warriors, so maybe we could start some for of trade with the Woodsmen.” This was well received and we agree to try and put a first caravan together as soon as possible – with your permission of course.
Bard didn’t have any warriors to commit to the area, but agreed to send some trusted observers (I wonder who that could be) to gauge the situation. His business done, Mogdred departed without further ado.
- The last to speak was an envoy – or rather a refugee – from the East Bight. Apparently the ruler of that Woodsmen settlement, Ceowyn, had gone practically overnight from a fair and generous ruler, to an unhinged tyrant, and his people were being increasingly oppressed under his rule. I cut Bard short at this point and indicated that his “trusted observer” may find their way there in their travels.
The council was called to an end after that, and we headed out of the great hall. I happened to step outside just ahead of Bard and his wife, and my gaze was drawn up at a rooftop some distance away: a dark silhouette in what looked like elf garb – but something was off about that – was aiming a longbow at us. Whether at me, Bard or his wife I couldn’t know, but I had just the time to yell and jump in front of them before the archer let loose, unbelievably fast. They was an incredibly loud “thunk!”, then another and my shield arm, which I’d raised, wouldn’t budge from my chest any more. Then the world started spinning backwards, I heard my elf friend cry in pain near me, and I knew no more.
I’m afraid you’ll have to hear about the aftermath from my companions, as I was comatose for days under the healer’s ministrations. King Bard however sent his best healers and trusted guards to watch over me, and he is much indebted to Gondor for his and his wife safety – he has agreed to give us a full voice at future councils.
I must say I’ve been cared for well in Laketown, Falco even traveled to visit me, and is right now arranging the caravan that should bring you this letter – along with a few other items for trade.
Your humble servant, Brodomir.