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E채rendil's Quest ~ The Mirkwood Game

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  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: E채rendil's Quest ~ The Mirkwood Game
    Posted: 04 Jun 2009 at 8:37pm

The Mirkwood Game is played here!

 
 
E채rendil셲 Quest was conceived as a roleplay training game
(including GM skills)
for the Guardians of the Light, Imladris warriors...
but it can be played by anyone who wants the challenge of playing a free-roving warrior셲 journey that covers some of the lesser known regions of Middle Earth.

ALL RACES may play this game in a variety of ways on the basis of portraying one of the Free Peoples (sorry minions ~ maybe we셪l work on an ebil version some time!)
The Quest is played without time limits over two phases
~ The first phase can be attempted in two ways ~
 
Fast Track ~ in this option you work your way through the four regions of Middle Earth shown above and post once in each of the four smaller areas listed, writing about a different warrior 쁳ask in each one.
You choose how quickly you play through each of the regions and the order you play each area within them, until you have visited each of the areas once.
 
When you have posted in all sixteen areas you may go on to the second phase
THE MASTERS STAR GAME
 
OR you can go back and play the first phase again and visit the areas in a different order, as the tasks all vary depending on when each area is played ~ in other words you can play the fast track version of this first phase of the game as many times as you like without repeating yourself!
 
OR play the longer game
 
In Depth ~ is more complex to play and again the player determines the pace. In this option you may still visit each of the areas of the regions in any order you wish, but in this version you will be required to post four times in each of the four areas, tackling a different task in each post that forms a tiny integrated RPG for each distinct area.
 
You may only play the In Depth game once, but remember ~ you will be posting 64 times!
 
In depth is the version of the game for those wishing to gain formal recognition as a Guardian of the Light and you are awarded a different
 
Star of E채rendil
(shown in the legend just below our map)
 
for each region as you complete it, to recognize the great commitment you have shown by posting sixteen times in that region.
 
IMPORTANT ~ Because less commitment is needed to play the Fast Track game there will be no formal accreditation (in the form of the Star awards), other than posting points and tribute for either phase of the game. Tribute will be generous for people who perform well with interesting or creative posting, but the Fast Track game is primarily for those who don't want a long commitment or maybe just want an exercise in honing RP skills in a loosely combative format -  and in a fun way!
 
The 'Guardian of the Light' Tasks
vary from region to region
more information on these in the
 
 
Once Fast Track players have played through all the regions and In Depth players have earned all four Stars for all the regions, they can attempt the second phase...
 
~ THE MASTERS STAR GAME ~
 
where all the players who have posted their way around the regions (either the Fast Track or the In Depth options) will be given a loose mini-RPG scenario to adapt, direct and star in and this will earn the In Depth players the ultimate accolade the Lords of Imladris can give their Warriors
 
~ the Masters Star of E채rendil ~
more information on this in the
 
 
HOW TO SIGN UP & PLAY THE MAIN GAME
Please go to the OOC Thread ~ HERE!
 
And finally because there have to be some
THE RULES
Keep it family friendly at all times
Always follow instructions sensibly
 (and when in doubt discuss any queries with your TR ~ in the OOC Thread or by PM)
It셲 a warrior셲 life so have fun along the way!
The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one
will do ~ Thomas Jefferson
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2010 at 10:45am
Welcome to North Rhovanion and to Mirkwood Othimbr챕l! I hope you will enjoy your stay in this part of the world Smile
 
A few formalities so you can get yourself orientated and then we'll set off - doing is better than talking sometimes I think Wink
 
Warrior of the WOOD ~ Mirkwood tasks will test skills with archery, herblore, hunting, skinning and butchery, (you will find links and more information on these topics in the first post of the OOC thread and you may also of course discuss your tasks with me OOC)
 

Carrock ~ almost due west of High Pass & the Eagles' Eyries; mid-Anduin island, so access could be tricky; it's quite a big 'rock' - between 2-5 miles long & 1-2 miles wide; many pictures show it as quite steep; Beorn the 쁲kin-changer (the Hobbit) was said to have made the steps that went from the river all the way to the flattened top of the island.
Area
OP instructions ~ on the western bank of the Anduin you have met up with 3 guardians (name them as you like) from Imladris (roving warriors) who have been on foot patrol in the High Pass. After greeting each other you encounter one of Gwaihir셲 brethren (the Lord of the Eagles). He has spotted you and comes down to tell you of strange happenings on the Carrock, the great lone rock eyot in the Anduin, above the Gladden Fields. At present there are several of the Beornings camped on the island, seemingly searching for something though the Eagle does not know what that is.

The guardians have no specific orders other than to investigate anything unusual and so you all decide to make a detour (the Carrock is on the East/West road from the High Pass to Mirkwood ) and go to offer your help to the Beornings if wanted.
 

Your first task (herblore)

You are soon nearing the Anduin and can clearly see the Carrock (which is heavily wooded lower down and more rocky higher up), when you spy some delicious edible plants growing wild in the water margins. Knowing that the Beornings can be suspicious of strangers, you all decide that it would be a good idea to collect some of the delicious vegetation to offer them and not impose on whatever rations they may have of their own.

Describe the lush riverine area in which you go looking for food plants, what you find and how it looks / is used / tastes etc.

 
Please meet me in the OOC if you have any questions - your post should incorporate all of the OP and task information as you wish, to fit in with your own story/journey, but please do not take the post beyond collecting the provisions you are gathering for the Beornings. Your first meeting with them and your arrival on the Carrock will be dealt with in the next section Smile
Remember that you can make more than 1 post for this section.
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2010 at 6:08pm
The terrain had become more forgiving of late; trees had replaced rocks, dirt replaced sand, but the Anduin had picked up speed considerably, leaving Othimbr챕l in no cheer to reach the Old Ford. Though his kind were almost as at home around the water as they were among the trees, his pack was (despite his rapid appetite) still unpleasantly heavy and not at all appropriate for wading through raging rivers. There was also the constant uncomfortable feeling of being under the open sun for much of the time - true, the Anduin had not seen any activity from Dol Guldur in years, and rumours abounded that it was deserted, but growing up under Lorien's canopy had not left him in a mood to appreciate wide spaces, flanked even as they were by the undulating foothills to his left. Nevertheless, he kept up a brisk pace and a high head.
Presently he reached what must have once been the bridge of the Old Forest Road - a few stone columns remained, nothing more, and a lighter area where he needed to cross. To the west, somewhere over the High Pass, was Rivendell, and to the north by a number of miles was the Carrock, or so his map claimed. Othimbr챕l sighed.
"Unpleasant? Yes! Necessary? Yes. Well then, stalling is of little use, particularly to oneself. Onwards!"
He had barely set foot in the brown waters when a sound attracted his attention: Only a rhythmic thudding, no more, but he recognized footsteps anywhere. Who could possibly be out here, aside from the beasts and the elves? The Old Forest Road ended at Celduin, some miles from Esgaroth, and the Men rarely set foot outside their domain in any case. Deciding to halt and wait to see who it was, he waded back out of the river and rested against a tree, drying himself off just in time for a group of three to round the corner of the road, which wound its way through the sparse vegetation towards the gap in the twin peaks.
"Hail! What news of Rivendell?" he cried in his own language, waving down the party as they approached on foot. He needed not see their heads to know they were elves - no others could be so quiet on the road. The leader, a tall and stern-faced figure with a shock of silver hair, lowered his hood and looked down at Othimb챕l oddly.
"No news. What brings you here to the Old Ford?" he asked.
"I could ask you the same question," Othimbr챕l countered. The party exchanged looks, and the leader shrugged.
"We are on patrol from Imladris, watching the High Pass," the leader explained. "It was very concerning after orcs were found in the mountains, in Elrond's back garden for all intents. I am D청rmenel, these are my companions Arawathiel and Celiron. Now, who --"
D청rmenel broke off, staring up at the sky. Far above, mingling with the insubstantial clouds, a single flying shape could be seen. Othimbr챕l followed his gaze, blinking in the afternoon sun.
"It's an eagle," he said in wonder. "Larger than any I have ever seen, though."
D청rmenel nodded. "You have good sight, traveller. If it is an eagle, at that distance it must be one of the kin of Gwaihir - Lords of the Eagles. They are terrific creatures."
The four, bound to silence by mutual agreement, watched the airborne shadow drop lower and lower in a spiral until, with one final swoop, the great eagle alighted on the masonry column closest to shore. The elves approached nervously.
"A terrific creature," Arawathiel echoed, standing on the shoreline. "Alae!"
"Shush!" Othimbr챕l hissed, staring at the eagle's razor talons. "How does she know it will not devour us all?"
"Arawathiel has... a way with creatures. Yet more than you or I," said D청rmenel, nodding at the elf-maiden. "Besides, while Gwaihir's folk are great hunters, they are not murderers; they are intelligent, not cunning like dragons, but proud and great. It is even said among some that they could speak the languages of Men and Elves."
Your sources are quite correct, warrior, the eagle said, making Othimbr챕l jump - the creature's beak had not moved, and unless he was mistaken, no words had travelled on the air - it was communicating mind to mind, perhaps not even using words but thoughts that were interpreted by him and the other elves.
"Belegron, mighty one," D청rmenel muttered, striding forward and sinking into a half bow with a word. "What quarrel have you with us?"
Quarrel? With you? None. However, strange things abound at late and the bear-men have grown restless. You may know them as the Beornings, the sons and daughters of Beorn.
"Restless? In what way?"
Several have made camp on the Carrock upstream, and from the skies it appears they appear to be searching for something. I dare not ask them myself, as my kindred have been known to eat their sheep on occasion and they are none too friendly to the Lord of the Eagles for this - we tolerate them because we have a common cause, the eagle bowed its head. All kinds of good unite in the presence of true evil.
"What would you have us do?" asked D청rmenel as he straightened up. "My party is expected back at Imladris soon, and Elrond does not look kindly on laggards in these dangerous days. We would dearly love to help, but we have not the time nor, I suspect, the resources."
"I will go," Othimbr챕l said, surprised to hear his own voice. "I was travelling north east in any case."
The eagle fixed a beady eye on D청rmenel's party and croaked expectantly. The three exchanged thoughtful glances, modulated by wordless debate.
"If we assist this fellow in this endeavour," the leader said, carefully watching the creature's magnificent half-folded wings. "Would your people be willing to assist our journey back?"
I will ask, the eagle said evenly. Though it is rare that we carry two-legs through the air.
"Very well then," D청rmenel said, turning to smile thinly at Othimbr챕l as the eagle took to the skies. "Lead the way, stranger of the south."

They emerged, all soaked to the waist, at the other end of the ford, and journeyed northwards in the direction of the Carrock, where the river was supposed to split and continue around the rocky island. Othimbr챕l occasionally glanced nervously at the other three, especially the curiously silent and deeply hooded Celiron. The land grew lusher, groves of proper trees standing here and there and grassy banks that continued down to the blue Anduin. Soon enough they were treading their way though thick river-side plants, small but widespread affairs that drunk greedily from the river and covered the company up to their ankles in leaves. Soon after encountering this, Othimbr챕l thought of a worrying problem; He had been told stories of the Beornings, the strange Men that lurked near the edges of Mirkwood, breeding and caring for animals almost as if they were their own, and from what he had gathered they were none too trusting of strangers - all manner of evils lurked among the branches of Mirkwood and the Beornings had learnt to trust few that passed that way - it was likely not going to be an easy task to interact with them, especially with his own rations running low, meaning he would have to borrow. 
He ran an amateur eye over the vegetation, searching for something to either eat or offer the Beornings for compensation. It was a difficult task, as his knowledge of herbs and plants was limited to say the least, especially in parts unknown. While it surpassed many a human's knowledge, he was still at a loss - the surrounding plants were mostly of the common and slimy variety, wide-leaved and with little fruit between them. The leader looked around at Othimbr챕l, poking around in the leaf litter hopefully.
"Ai, tolo, come on! Or do you wish to spend all your time on the road searching for insects?" There was nothing here, it seemed; he jogged swiftly and caught up.
They caught their first sight of the Carrock around late afternoon: Elves run swiftly, no matter what their burden, and it had been morning when the encounter at the Old Ford had occurred. It was a rock, bleached white, steep and almost sheer in places, but quite accessible in others. Trees and other plants dotted the base, but they all appeared fairly lacklustre - and, near the top, an encampment was just visible.
They spent the next part of an hour approaching it, working their way around the difficult terrain - in keeping with the island's rocky nature, the riverside terrain had become rough and boulder-strewn in places; as if the Carrock had been heaved there by a massive giant and sent shards of rock flying throughout the surrounding area. As the company approached they talked little, though Othimbr챕l guessed at continuing communication between the three. They were almost ready to choose a crossing place when he spied a flash of yellow, almost hidden in the trunks of a sweeping beech, and walked lightly over to investigate.
"Hah!" he grinned, looking closer. A small plant was growing in the fork of the beech, living on the soil that had collected there over the years - bright yellow leaves, tinged with gold, and he would recognize it anywhere. It was mithurembas, a common growth in L처rien and, thankfully, in plenty supply there: it was used to make lembas, waybread, among other things, and in this carpet of greenery it was all he was going to be able to bargain with. 
Othimbr챕l tore off a corner of a leaf and chewed. Not nearly as good as lembas itself, but at any rate more satisfying than any other plant he was going to find here. Listening to the group's calling again, he uprooted the plant carefully and stuffed it in his pack.

"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Oct 2010 at 9:24pm
Clap Bravo! - a most promising and engaging start Othimbr챕l. There are some small things to discuss, so I will post them soon on the other thread and we can talk them over before proceeding to the next part of the story Thumbs Up
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Oct 2010 at 2:00pm
Ready for some more action? Smile 
 
Part 2 ~ this section covers the task of hunting.
 
In the dry season the Anduin is shallow at the eastern fords, built by the Beornings, so you can all safely get across without even soaking your boots! The steps to the top of the Carrock, beginon the eastern side then spirals around the rock and the Beornings are camping beside it about halfway up. They are keeping close watch on both shores and can see you coming over so come down to meet you. You explain that you are here to help them if they need it.
 

They are on the Carrock trying to find the lair of a gigantic lynx that has been plundering their fish traps on the east bank and has even killed some of their cattle when they come down to drink. A few days before it had badly mauled and bitten one of their friends, who has since died of his wounds.

You are doubtful about the size of this 쁞ear-sized cat until they show you some old tracks by the base of the steps, then some newer ones made a few hours back that lead away from the steps and into the wild steep terrain on the western side of the island.

The Beornings are good trackers but, being very large and heavily-muscled men, with the undergrowth being so dense away from the steps, they are making too much noise to sneak up on the wily animal, so it always eludes them.

Of course you agree to help them and all four of you set off to hunt the lynx in the high crags.

Describe how you track the cat through the heavy undergrowth at the base of the island and then further up across the rocky trails.
Stop writing when you find signs of it stalking a roe deer
 
 
Again - feel free to come over to the other thread to discuss. You may post your response at any time convenient to you if you are too busy presently Thumbs Up
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Oct 2010 at 4:41am
"What occupied your time so?" the leader complained as Othimbr챕l approached the group by the river's edge. "Look. The river is low at this time of year and yet further shallow at the ford. Easy to cross. Now come on!"
Wordless, the company followed, single file along the slippery stones, Othimbr챕l gazing up at the Carrock's numerous tree-encrusted folds. Whatever the Beornings were indeed searching for, it had plenty a place to hide.
Order was prevalent in the chaos, however - a single staircase had been hewn from the solid rock, the foot at their landing spot and the head visible on the island's bald crown. Othimbr챕l pointed.
"Who created that? The Beornings?"
"No. It is said it was made by Beorn himself in the old days. I never passed this way in that time," explained D청rmenel. Celiron looked around suddenly, his head still swathed in shadows even in the light of midday
"It was Beorn," he murmured, stalking towards the foot of the stairs. "Though none know how, nor exactly why. Men are fleeting, as he no doubt knew, and he left a number of unanswerable questions in his wake. Perhaps it is his way of preserving his memory."
The clatter of footsteps on stone attracted the elves' attention, approaching with speed. Celiron backed away carefully and, sure enough, in less than a minute two Men burst into view, swords drawn. The larger one took one look at the group and struck the other behind the head with his free hand.
"Fool! They are elves, not orcs. Surely you can tell the difference, otherwise what good is a lookout? Five-hundred steps from here to the camp, and you made me run every single one."
The other mumbled something unintelligible, recovering quickly, but the large man was grinning.
"Elves of the woods! What brings you this far west, or east as it may be? Few of you have passed through our realm, and there's certainly nothing to bring you to the Carrock: What business do you have here?"
D청rmenel stepped forward, head held high - he only came up to the man's neck. He spoke, slowly at first, but in the language of men.
"Your camp has not gone unaccounted, friend; a servant of Gwaihir, Lord of Eagles, told us of it only this morning at the Old Ford."
"The great eagles are monsters," the Beorning sneered, leaning forward unpleasantly at the proud elvish captain. "We take no chances with them. Why send you here, anyway?"
"It was at his wishes that we investigate. You are searching for something, and if necessary we will help," D청rmenel said stiffly. The man looked almost as if he was trying to stare the elf down - though he would have sooner success flying over the sea, by the look of things. He grunted.
"We do not need help. We are the Beornings, owners of this land; there is no room for your elvish nonsense in our search. We will search this island from bottom to top and the accursed creature will not escape with its life. Ack!" he cried, slamming a palm over his mouth.
"You are hunting something?" Arawathiel said sharply, striding forward. "Describe it."
The man shook his hairy head, frowning. "No. I have said already too much. I would accept help, but we are suspicious of all in this age and I cannot let any more into this problem."
Othimbr챕l fumbled around in his pack, realising that, if ever, now was the time to use his bargain. Standing in D청rmenel's shadow, he handed him the plant.
"H챤r n챠n? Give him this, iesten." The elf leader turned, a look of surprise spreading across his carefully arranged features.
"Mithurembas! Surely you would not deliver it to this unwashed..."
"It may be our only path."
D청rmenel stared at him, new opinions forming behind his grey eyes, and nodded, turning back to the men.
"My companions present this as a gift of trust to your people. It is a valuable plant among my kindred - yours may find it likewise useful," he said, giving them the yellow-golden plant. The smaller Beorning examined it with interest, but the larger one was quick to reply.
"It is a small courtesy, and shows nothing on whether you are to be trusted. However," he sniffed, catching the scent of the plant as it drifted on the river breeze, "It seems I have little choice in any case. Follow us - the camp is around halfway up the Carrock."
"As for what we are hunting? A giant lynx; larger than any seen before, at least as large as a bear. I myself have not sighted it, but it has been plundering the fish-traps we leave on the west side of the island and ambushing our cattle. One time a party of trackers encountered it by chance, but it savaged Alblum and escaped. He has died since, bless him. Every warrior in the camp has sworn to make it pay in blood."
"A giant lynx?" D청rmenel snorted in his own language, leading towards the stairway. "These men are deluded fools: I have never heard of such a thing."
"Nor I," Celiron said, "but there are a great many unusual things in this world, and it takes a long-lived traveler to see them all."
Arawathiel, looking around at the base of the stairs, suddenly laughed, alighting off the stone onto the dirt and walking a few meters into the trees.
"You are the ellons who have been made fools of, I feel! Come, see here," she said, beckoning.
Othimbr챕l gazed on grimly: There was indeed a footprint, some several days old now but still larger than any paw-mark had rights to. He had learned the basics of hunting and tracking under L처rien's sweeping branches - not so long ago, it seemed - but it was far too old for him to reliably follow. D청rmenel watched with a similar expression of defeat.
"It seems such a thing truly exists, and it is here," Celiron murmured, a faint smile on his lined face. "The men speak the truth."
He turned to the larger Beorning, speaking their language with ease.
"I heard the Men that bordered Mirkwood were excellent trackers. Can ye not capture this creature yourselves?"
"Ah, as I say, elf - we cannot. This is a crafty beast, and it is said it can hear for a mile. We are not the quietest people by nature and beyond this path the vegetation grows thick and fast: There is no way for us to travel silently enough to catch it unawares, no matter what our planning."
"O!" Celiron said, turning back to his assembled company. "I should think our choice of course is obvious, do you not, D청rmenel?"
"Maer, we will hunt this lynx down, no matter what its size. It should be a paltry task, but even so," he paused, facing the Beorning. "Have your men found any tracks of recent hours?"
"Indeed! The creature crossed the stairway further up but a few hours ago."
"Come then, Othimbr챕l of L처rien," D청rmenel gave a rare smile. "You have already assisted us once on this pursuit - how efficient a hunter are you?"

No sooner had they left in another direction off the stair, watching the two Beornings wave them away, when Othimbr챕l realised how tense he had become since the Old Ford: no sooner had he stepped among the sweeping treetops when he relaxed, almost palpably: This was his element now, the environment he had grown up and trained in, and he was as at home as any creature he cared to find among the branches.
He took a moment in the silence to smile up at the sun through the fractured canopy, pleased, despite the task at hand. D청rmenel called him over.
"Othimbr챕l! Would you consider yourself capable of leading our hunting expedition? Your eyes may be of some use in this dense undergrowth if anything, and you are the only one here with the look of a tracker about you; would I be correct?"
"Basic training, no more, my lord," Othimbr챕l replied. "I am far from capable, but if I am the only one available then I suppose I must."
"You will do. Lead on."
It seemed sensible to follow the rough trail that wound among the trees; occasionally there were signs of the lynx or a very similar creature - bark scratched off trees, recent footprints - and the track wound its way aimlessly through the vegetation, mostly covered by leaf litter. The party moved onwards, making no more sound than a trail of ants as they slipped across the dense woodland.
Presently they came to a clearing, almost symmetrically round and cleared of leaves.
"Hm," said D청rmenel. "Did something dwell here once, perchance? Maybe even our missing lynx?"
Othimbr챕l ignored him for the moment, looking at the mixed marks in the dirt, and frowned. There were indeed further footprints here, like the one seen at the base of the Carrock, but they were woven with other marks. Here and there were hoof-prints, as though a deer had passed through, and two bushes on one side had been prised apart, as if something had departed in a hurry. Pleased, he announced his findings.
"And which one arrived here first?" D청rmenel asked, tilting his head to one side.
"I do not know; H챤r n챠n, my lord, I still feel you are greatly overestimating my ability. I have never hunted down but a simple rabbit, and an overlarge lynx is hardly the place to begin. The trees sway at their passing, it is true, but it takes a great mind to separate that from the effect of the wind!"
"There is always a place to start," the elf captain commented dryly, "and you have done well so far. Do you know where the creature left?"
"Both of them exited in this direction," Othimbr챕l pointed to the gap in the bushes. "Perhaps an hour or two ago."

They followed the signs to the best of their ability, occasionally assisted by Arawathiel, but as the trail wound up into the island's slopes, the terrain grew sparser and the signs grew few and far between: A brush with a rock here, a broken branch there. The rocky ground became more difficult to traverse and occasionally they found themselves in single file, following a narrow ridge around the slippery western slopes as the trail grew further erratic. Finally, Othimbr챕l paused at the base of a boulder, staring around.
"I fear I have lost the trail," he said, looking grim. "I have seen no signs of either creature for almost a mile, though there are still signs of disturbance upon the earth."
"Nor any of us, unfortunately," Arawathiel said. "But there is little way that they could deviate now! Keep going, and we shall find something."
Othimbr챕l sighed, staring into the shallow dirt by his feet. It was several seconds before he realised what he was truly seeing, and he laughed in relief.
"Fear not! We are still on its trail - right on its heels, if I am any judge. Here is another footprint, right by mine own boots, and it has not fallen to erosion even in this windy spot. And furthermore, see the marks in front and behind it. The deer has passed here as well - and now we know it is in front, because the lynx's print has wiped some of them away!"
"We are not the only ones hunting here, then," D청rmenel said, smirking. "Our catch is looking for its own dinner."

"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Oct 2010 at 12:58am
Part 3 covers Archery Smile
 
You and your friends have followed the lynx셲 trail through the steep, dense undergrowth and are nearing the crest of the Carrock.

You are proceeding carefully for the cat셲 trail is very fresh and you now know it is stalking a roe deer.

Suddenly you hear the Lynx squalling in triumph and you all hasten to surround it without detection (so stay downwind perhaps?) as it subdues its prey.

The lynx is truly huge and you all wonder if this is indeed a natural beast But it is obviously dangerous and so you all aim your bows carefully, ready to let loose as it succeeds in suffocating the young buck and settles down to eat.

Describe how you set your shot up. Your friends are also doing the same, but it is important you all make every arrow count. Say where you aim to hit the creature and any hazards there are such as wind direction, or other natural drawbacks that may affect your cover and aim.

End when you all hit your target but do NOT approach the lynx just yet

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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2010 at 1:12pm
The jagged stone of the ridge was aglow with orange as the sun waned low in the sky, setting the Anduin ablaze far below. Othimbr챕l halted the party at the edge of the deeper undergrowth, gazing thoughtfully at the higher slopes as he became aware of the chill breeze coming in from the south.
"Dartho, wait," he said, holding out a hand as he scanned the rough trail ahead. "We should go onwards with caution from here; the lynx is very close, and it is still hunting something."
"Deer?" Arawathiel asked.
"A young one, if that - perhaps a buck."
The elf-maiden nodded, mouth set in a grim slash. They continued on, clambering over the unsteady ground and winding their way through the undergrowth as it gradually thinned, trees spreading further and further apart on the erratic slopes. Othimbr챕l felt once again uneasy, not through the widening of spaces but through the unnatural silence - it was quiet, quiet enough to hear the trees drink and the worms shift. And, all at once, it was shattered; A triumphant squall arose from the trees ahead, mingled with the distant sounds of struggling and thrashing, causing the company to exchange very brief and varied looks of apprehension.
"It has made its catch," D청rmenel said, glaring over the canopy. "Could we catch it unawares?"
"It will be the only chance we get," Celiron said, and cried "Hurry!"
They ran, sliding on the leaf litter as they headed further uphill, following the noises of the attack. The wind whistled in Othimbr챕l's ears as he followed, keeping steadily up with the elvish captain as they neared the crest of the next ridge. All at once, D청rmenel held out an arm.
"Nan Aear a Geil!" he breathed, gazing with fascination out over the treetops. "Look!"
Though the vegetation obscured much of his vision of the area below, it was not nearly enough to obscure the creature from Othimbr챕l: The lynx was finally visible, tussling with the buck on a rock strewn runoff-slant.
"Truly, it is massive," he said, checking the surrounding terrain. "But how to subdue it?"
"Arrows," D청rmenel muttered. "I fear it is not any natural lynx, whatever size - it will not be easy to take. You have a bow, I trust?"
Othimbr챕l swelled with undisclosed pride; he practiced regularly with a bow, and had brought it purely out of sentiment - now it seems it would be put to good use. He nodded.
"May I suggest we do not tarry here overlong?" Celiron frowned, pointing down at the scuffle. "It is distracted at the moment, but we are upwind here and it will soon catch our scent if we are not careful." 
"Well thought," D청rmenel said. "Each of you, take up your own positions around the creature. When I give the indication, shoot for its belly, correct?"
They quickly separated, taking their own careful routes down to the lynx. Othimbr챕l paused for a moment at what he judged to be a safe distance, unpacking his bow carefully and testing the string. Satisfied, he grabbed a further handful of arrows and continued onwards, spotting D청rmenel to the west moving in a wide circle.
At the base of the slope, where the lynx could still be seen, suffocating the buck, the smooth rock gave way to long grass and scattered bushes of another kind unknown to Othimbr챕l; however, he took up site there, on the basis that the plants were spiny and in the event of discovery he was well-defended. Keeping his head low, he strung his bow and nocked his first arrow. Though he couldn't see the creature, he soon heard the crunching sounds of it settling down to eat as it split the deer's ribs, and tightened his grip on the string. The scent of death would have hung in the air, thick and cold as it was, but it rode away on the brisk southern wind.
Preparing to shoot, Othimbr챕l crouched in the shadow of a tree on the edge of the space, almost invisible amongst the long grasses, and sighted along the shaft of the arrow; the lynx was a more or less still target, but the wind was irregular and it was higher up, making it all the harder to fire on. Still, he had hit more difficult targets, though none that would have killed him if he missed...
But as always, disaster strikes on those who least expect it: He pulled it slightly harder and, with a loud snap, his bowstring suddenly unwound, wrenching the strip of willow out of Othimbr챕l's hand. The lynx's head snapped around, eyes flashing in the undergrowth as if it was a mere veil, and it turned, growling suspiciously.
"Now!" cried D청rmenel's voice, laced with urgency and the air was filled with the sound of whizzing arrows, several of which ended with satisfactory thunks. The lynx stumbled, one leg pierced, and squealed as another sunk into its side. It lunged out, still a considerable distance away, and collapsed as another round was launched. In but seconds, it was already over. Othimbr챕l sat for a few moments, affixed to the spot in a kind of shock, and slowly rose up, waving to where from the arrows issued.
"Halt!" D청rmenel commanded. "Stay exactly where you are!"
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Oct 2010 at 2:32pm
Clap Well done Othimbr챕l - excellent writing. Some more comment on its way soon
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Oct 2010 at 4:31pm
Very well Othimbr챕l - when you are ready here is your final and concluding task on the Carrock which is concerned with skinning and butchery.
 
Carefully you all come out from your cover and approach the enormous beast. Something strange is happening though as the form of the lynx shimmers and dissolves to reveal a very large Beorning indeed. In fact a Beorning woman!

She is the largest female mortal any of you have ever seen and you are all rather shocked that you have killed her

The Beornings have been following you at a distance and so you call out to them and they hurry up to you. When they see the woman, they too are amazed but are not angry that you killed her. Apparently she was a witch who had been driven out of one of the Beorning villages and had cursed them all. The attacks by the lynx had begun not long after this

They carry her back to their camp further down by the steps leaving the four of you to bring the roe deer with you.

Whilst the Beornings prepare to finally dispose of their evil enemy, you all begin to ready her last kill for the celebratory feast in honour of your deed (hint: hunting cats, once their larger ungulate prey is dead, tend to eviscerate and eat the choice edible internal organs then lick the meat joints to de-hair - so you will have some of the work started for you...).
Describe how you skin and clean the venison for cooking. Concentrate on how you butcher the animal, but feel free to go on and cover the cooking process and joining the Beornings in feasting if you wish.
 
When you have finished you have a choice of venue for your next challenge ~ Esgaroth on Long Lake east of Mirkwood or a two-part adventure starting in Dol Guldur and moving to the Domain of Thranduil (King of the Wood Elves)
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Oct 2010 at 4:52pm
It was a further short time before Othimbr챕l heard the sound of D청rmenel's voice again.
"Come out," he cried. "It is safe again."
Othimbr챕l approached cautiously, unconsciously moving from bush to bush as he approached the fallen lynx. Celiron and Arawathiel both approached, and D청rmenel was already standing over the corpse, looking at it with interest. His eyes fell on the unstrung bow.
"Fool," he berated, but with good humour. The silvan gave him a wan smile, and sat against the corpse, re-threading the bowstring as the other two reached the slope. Something shifted under his spine, and he leapt up, crying out.
The dead lynx was shimmering, flickering as if seen through a summer pond, as the area under its hide shifted and writhed. Staring in fascination, the company watched as, slowly, its skin faded and dissolved, leaving a human figure in its wake.
"Yrch!" choked D청rmenel, backing away. It was a woman, sparsely clad, much larger than any normal man, and face down. The arrows still protruded, horribly real against pale flesh and tattered robes, as blood ran down through crevices in the rock. Celiron himself had gone a sickly shade.
"This is ill news," he said, grimly. "No doubt this is one of their own people."
"Nay, why did it attack them if that was so?" D청rmenel asked, regaining composure. "To any end, the Beornings are the bear-men - they do not manifest their ability like this!"
"Who then? And what?"
"Perhaps we could ask the men themselves?" Othimbr챕l asked. "Even now, they approach to the sound of our attack. Listen!"
As they tuned their ears to the surrounding forestry, it was indeed apparent that they had been followed: the tracking party of the Beornings could be heard from almost a half-mile away. Waiting patiently, the elves called when the group approached, and were swiftly joined by half a dozen men, clad in hunters' gear. The ringleader cried out, pointing at the corpse, and soon a great uproar arose among the hunters, their speech too incoherent to decipher. Celiron exchanged despairing glances with the elf captain, watching as the men argued in a tongue common to themselves, and looked almost relieved when one shouted, calling for silence. The same Beorning stepped forward.
"I am speaking on the behalf of my companions here - that is right, is it not?" he asked, looking back. "And we wish to thank you for your deeds. To have slain such an evil creature..."
"Wait!" D청rmenel said, holding up a hand. "Surely we have killed a woman, not a beast; is she not of your people?"
"Ah, true enough sir, she was one of ours once," the heavyset Beorning nodded sagely. "But at the same time, she is not: She was a witch, my friends! Arfylef the witch, driven out of my childhood village not long ago. I confess that I hear she cursed us - "Cursed be thine, wretched kin of the bear-man," she cried, as she fled at our pursuit. It seems she was right."
"A witch," murmured Othimbr챕l, half-kneeling on the cooling rocks. "Certainly, it excuses a great much of this tale. But when did the lynx first appear?"
"I do not know absolutely, elf-kin," the man nodded slightly. "But it must have been not long after."
A brief silence of contemplation followed, with measures of whispered conversation among the hunting party. D청rmenel stood, brushing himself down and observing the site with a cold eye.
"Very well then," he said, speaking in common speech for the good of all. "What is to be done?"
"We will dispose of the corpse," the Beorning said, beckoning to a number of his followers. "Much care must be taken to ensure she does not wreak havoc even in death."
"Truly, the earth groans under her presence," Othimbr챕l said wryly, testing the re-fastened bow. "But what of the buck? The meat appears in still good condition."
"A feast!" grinned another man, eyes widening. This was met with good cheer among the rest, and even D청rmenel looked hopeful.
"Do you have the time to waste here, my lord?" Othimbr챕l asked in a quiet aside. "Are you not expected at Rivendell?"
"Maer, it is true. But we are but a day late, and I am sure we would rather set off on our return on hearty stomachs. Remember our agreement with the Eagle, too."
"It is settled then," called the head of the Beornings' party. "Your elves take the deer back - I would offer to show you to our camp, but I daresay you could all find it blindfolded," he chuckled, and was met with general amusement. "One of your own can prepare the meat for the feast, I am sure. You cannot all feed on wildberries and honey!"

The company half-dragged, half-shouldered the deer, back down the Carrock's tree-crusted slopes, working around the peak until they reappeared, slightly weary, in the Beornings' camp. The hunting party had already returned, filling many of the tents that dotted the irregular ground, and hailed them as they passed. Othimbr챕l finally dropped the creature's leg, laying it near the center of the camp, and dropped his pack by its side. Here was a cleared space, perhaps intended by the Beornings as a center to any camp-sites, and the Men passed from tent to tent, muted activity in the air.
"Who is it to be, then?" asked D청rmenel, facing his subordinates. "One must prepare this meat, though I am sure the bear-men intend to cook it themselves."
"Normally I believe it is the privilege of the one who strikes the killing blow," Celiron said. "But I fear this does not sit well with our situation."
"Privilege?" laughed D청rmenel hollowly. "Maybe among barbarians. I myself find it an idle chore. Othimbr챕l, you tracked the lynx, and were foolish enough to nearly let it kill you - This is your task."
Othimbr챕l smiled grimly, bit his lip, and nodded.
While the others left to recuperate, he rolled the deer over and inspected the lynx's efforts. It had already severely mauled the creature, splitting the ribs clean open and eating much of its organs, so at the very least he had some of his task already done. Othimbr챕l had never enjoyed this to a great degree - it was necessary, of course, but dismantling a creature that had been living not too long ago still unsettled him.
Drawing his knife from his belt, he split the pelvis and started by cutting free what offal remained - the liver, odds and ends he did not speculate on, kidneys and a nauseating bladder - and tossed them on the fire, which smouldered in the center of the clearing. The head had to be disposed of, but his knife was but a slender dagger, unsuited to the cutting of tendon and bone, and he enlisted the help of a passing Beorning carrying a wood axe and a pile of logs. The legs he snapped away too, to clean and cook separately.
The lynx had already set about removing the hide, which was hairless and frayed at the edges where it had eviscerated the deer. Othimbr챕l worked methodically from there, stripping the rest away in sharp strokes, and laid a cut from the neck downwards to help split the hide. Once it was separated, he left it flat under the carcass as a makeshift bench, and turned his attention to the meat itself.
How was one meant to go about this? Deer may be popular sport among his brethren in Mirkwood, but they were rare in L처rien and he had little experience with the larger kills. Uncertain, he attempted to fillet the venison from the buck's sides, but soon found it too tough for the blade; it was yet further irritating to spot several Beornings walk by with clear signs of amusement. Every one would lend a hand if needed, but he did not ask, nor did he complain.
Night fell, shrouding the camp in flickering darkness as the Beornings went about lighting torches and feeding the fire, and beyond the borders of the camp, the shadows themselves danced in nightly respite. Eventually he hacked much of the meat from the sides, leaving ugly cuts deep into the remains of the carcass, and rested for a while. Arawathiel and D청rmenel wandered over, looking far more refreshed than he - Othimbr챕l was up to his forearms in grime and his tunic sleeves were stained with dried blood. He glanced up at their approach.
"That will be enough, I think," D청rmenel smiled evenly, grabbing his dagger arm gently. "You have enough to feed the entire camp here, and if need be they can use the rest for perhaps a day after. Come, we ought to tell them to prepare, and you, my friend, need to wash. When did you last rest?"
The silvan counted the days, thinking back to his last night in L처rien. He had not predicted this turn of events, and so he had walked day and night since leaving to approach the Old Ford quicker; now it seemed that there was a limit to his endurance, to which he was approaching. He nodded, feeling the weight of his own head, but did not reply. The other two both left, followed by a silent Celiron, and Othimbr챕l leaned over, pausing for a few brief seconds to think.
He rose from his waking dreams some time later, with the moon high overhead and the clearing lit with a tattered orange blaze - noise filled the air, no doubt what had roused him, as around twenty assorted Beornings, coupled with D청rmenel's party, crowded in a wide ring around the leaping fire, as drink and honey both ran freely. Some were singing; some were shouting; many were eating. Othimbr챕l smiled thinly: though he had not cooked it himself, it was pleasing to see one's handiwork appreciated. Though he was in the darkness at the edge of the clearing, D청rmenel spotted him rise.
"Here, Othimbr챕l!" the elf captain cried, waving a skewered cut. "Did you plan to sleep through the entire feast? Rest assured, we have saved some for you." Evidently he had grown more merry with drink - the elf was not all cold steel. Othimbr챕l smiled again, this time still weary, and approached around the outside.
"Goheno nin, h챤r n챠n; Forgive me, my lord, but I fear that as the one who cut it I have a meager appetite for venison - it is something in seeing the creature go from life to food."
"Is that so?" D청rmenel raised his gaze. "As you wish."

Grey skies heralded the sunrise, pressing heavily down on the Carrock as they swallowed up the smoke of the dying fire. Othimbr챕l woke, rested as he was against the crook of a tree, and glanced around, feeling much refreshed. He wandered around, murmuring softly, feeling a strange delight in being the only one awake, and spotted Arawathiel sitting by the smoking embers. She glanced up as he approached.
"It is you. Celiron is fetching more water."
"Where is everyone? The Beornings? Surely they do not wake so late by the norm."
Arawathiel smiled sympathetically. "You are quite young, are you not? Men do not take lightly to the effects of drink, and will not be in a state to move for at least an hour yet, you should know. It may come in useful some time."
"Thank you," he murmured, sitting on a half-log by the fire pit. They both looked away for several seconds, each sunk in their own thoughts.
"Where do you go next?" the elleth asked. Othimbr챕l shook his head.
"I know not. I was going east, and I wish to see the lake-towns of Men on Esgaroth. I still wish to go there, but from there, who knows?"
"Go, then. We must return to Rivendell, of course."
"Will our paths cross again?" he asked, embarrassed at the earnestness in his own voice. Arawathiel laughed.
"Who knows? If you encounter situations of this sort regularly, I should not worry; you will have quite an interesting enough life without meeting old comrades," she said.
They sat for a while in contemplation, watching the sunrise. On the horizon, an eagle drifted into view.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Jano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Oct 2010 at 9:08pm
Well done ~ Clap time to move on and straight into another, less dangerous hunt...
 
Esgaroth ~ the principal town on the western side of Long Lake on a greater site also used for earlier settlements destroyed during the lifetime of Smaug: Entirely built of wood and extends out onto the Lake on stilts: Has no kings/military lords, but an elected Master based on a merchant economy - so modelled on medieval city-states and (probably) guild-led.
 
Having passed through northern Mirkwood and spent a pleasant time in the Fortress of King Thranduil, you have been asked to accompany the King and some of his warriors to join with a dozen Guardians out of Rivendell who form an honour guard to Glorfindel. The hero of Gondolin and the King have been asked to represent the Eldar as part of an official visit to Esgaroth to celebrate the election of a new Master, who is a man of vision and wishes to trade more closely with the Elves east and west of the Hithaeglir. It is traditional for invited guests to contribute to the great feast and so, as you travel through the Long Marshes with the luminaries and their following, Glorfindel decides that Rivendell's contribution will be to provide fresh duck-meat for the feast
 
That night you join the Imladhrim (Glorfindel stays with Thranduil) and enter the Long Marshes as the dawn approaches. There is a light mist that will burn off when the sun rises.

Scouts have already ascertained where the ducks are roosting in the reeds. Some of you will be occupied with flushing out the water birds whilst the rest of you take up positions so you can bring down as many of them as possible with your bows.

Describe your arrival in the marshlands and the preparations made as you wait to spring the trap in the run up to shooting the birds down.

The Sun has not risen yet, so do not start flushing and DO NOT SHOOT ANYTHING in this post.
 
As always I am waiting in the other thread if you have anything you wish to query Smile
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Oct 2010 at 1:35pm
It was only the best part of a day after the events of the Carrock until Othimbr챕l passed once again under the comforting sweep of branches - Rather than return south and follow the Old Forest Road, he struck out directly east and crossed the fields to Greenwood the Great.
The forest edge sprung up on him suddenly: The border was as well-defined as a garden wall, or a cavalry line, and despite his unease in the open, it still looked forbidding at best. Mirkwood felt old, not dusty and faded like his home L처rien, nor such a place ignored by time like the fabled Entwood; old in a hateful and twisted manner, long tortured under the dark shadow of Amon Lanc and still suffering. It still held an errant beauty, but few other than an elf could appreciate it, especially those who would be forced to hack their way through the troublesome vegetation and cobwebs.
He travelled on for several days, hoping to pass through the realm under Thranduil's rule, where his Eastern kindred dwelt, on his way to Esgaroth. The mountains soon appeared to his distant south, and slowly moved by from day to day. Wind rarely stirred Mirkwood, for there was little difference in terrains to provoke it, but the sun and the moon had their own troubles in breaking through the convoluted treetops. It was a realm of dark and stillness, but he was an elf in a forest; there was nothing here he could possibly fear, and it was immensely peaceful during the day. Night was less favourable, as the innumerable bats and moths swarmed through the air, but he walked even then, only pausing in the hours before dawn.
As Othimbr챕l bore northwards, Mirkwood lost many of its signs of damage: Trees spread further and grew lusher, and Dol Guldur was no longer visible from a distance, its wretched sight having dropped short of this land. It was plain to see why Thranduil's folk had retreated to here as the Necromancer advanced. He continued for half a day, judging that he was deep into their realm, when he first encountered other Silvan.
For much of the morning he had been aware of company - distant footfalls and voices, a mere sense of movement - but the sun was high in the sky when he rounded a great oak and came near face to face with up to six, travelling the other way.
"Na vedui!" he cried, striding over. "It has been long since I had seen the faces of my own kind." To his surprise, they glared at him and several drew their daggers.
"Halt, who are you?" asked one, who himself carried a most impractical curved greatsword on his back. "Why do you wander in our lands?"
"I am Othimbr챕l of L처rien," he said, sinking onto one knee and raising his hands in submission. "I was travelling west to Esgaroth through your realm, and I wished to see the dwellings of my Eastern kindred on the way. Is there a problem?"
"Forgive me, friend ," the elf said, lowering his weaponry. "You are not a familiar face, and we have few visitors in these lands, rarely allies.  So, from L처rien! It is good to see you, Othimbr챕l; we have had little contact with the Lady Galadriel and no news of your realm passes our way. Thranduil will be pleased if nothing else - he only sent us out for herbs." This coaxed a chuckle from several of the party, who were already sheathing their weapons. "I am Nirlonnion, and these are my warriors - the honour guard of Thranduil himself. Of course," he laughed, "when there is little guarding to do, he finds other jobs for us. Come."
Othimbr챕l followed the group back at their wish, arriving at King Thranduil's stronghold in the early evening. It was on the very north-east edge of Mirkwood, at the end of a great avenue of trees, and protected by two great stone doors.
The stronghold was unusual to one who had dwelt in and under trees for the greater part of a century - it was underground, filled with twisting passages and great halls, yet lit brightly by hundreds of torches, and strangely abundant in fresh air. He was forced to speak with the wood-elf king himself; he delivered news, answered questions, engaged in conversation with many living in Thranduil's court, and was finally granted spare lodgings. 
And there he stayed for another three days, quietly reveling in the chance to not just rest in comfort but also in the company of his own kind - the elves of Thranduil's realm were alike to those of his home-land in so many ways. He could have stayed there for much longer if he wished, perhaps years, but he was a wanderer; he had planned to leave for Esgaroth, and would depart at the first opportune time. 
Othimbr챕l had not long to wait: It was soon announced that the wood-elves' king was leaving for no less than the lake-town itself. A new Master of Esgaroth had been announced, and as part of fostering new trade with the Firstborn, both east and west of the Misty Mountains, he had invited two groups from both Rivendell and Mirkwood to be present. The Mirkwood party was to be headed by King Thranduil; the Rivendell party was to be with Glorfindel.
"Glorfindel! Of Gondolin?" exclaimed Othimbr챕l, on hearing the news. The carrier nodded.
"Is there a problem?" he asked.
"No, not at all," Othimbr챕l quietened, half-turning away. For as long as he could remember, Glorfindel had been a great hero among his people - and a special source of inspiration to himself. He quickly volunteered to join Thranduil's honour guard, of course; they drew lots on who would be allowed to stay back as he took their place.
They prepared over the course of another day, and as evening fell he found himself on the bridge, staring out across the wide river-waters. Several of Thranduil's warriors were already here, Nirlonnion among them, and presently the rest arrived, including the king himself, clad in elaborate but quite functional travelling gear and carrying an oak staff. Thranduil looked back at his fortress as the second stone door ground shut, and nodded.
"They will have no troubles without me. Now, eastwards, friends. We must not keep Glorfindel waiting."
They shouldered their packs and marched on for a time, single file, following the trails that the wood-elves themselves had wrought, and as the last of the sun's light faded they continued: Night was near as clear as day to any elf, and the moon still gave patterns of shattered light and shadow in places, for it was a cloudless night, islands of light in the forest's twisted gloom. It was all but silent, save the faint whisper of the wind in the branches and the patter of elven feet. Following around the base of a magnificent beech - for which Mirkwood's elves seemed to have a special affinity - Othimbr챕l was surprised when they suddenly halted. Listening out, he caught the edge of a faint murmur somewhere in the undergrowth to their south. Thranduil suddenly laughed.
"Come out, elves of Imladris! You will have to do better to truly take our surprise."
As the Rivendell group emerged, looking slightly miffed, from the undergrowth, Othimbr챕l lowered his head slightly and placed his right hand over his chest - he was pleased, with a sidelong look, to see the rest of the honour guard do the same a moment later as Glorfindel stepped onto the path next to Thranduil.
"횎l s챠la nan l청 e-govaded v챠n," the elven king said, leaning on his oaken staff. "A star shines on the hour of our meeting. It is good to see you again, gornon. I am still impressed in your ability to bring your own guard of this size all the way from Imladris in a matter of days."
"Ae, greetings to you, Thranduil," Glorfindel smiled. "It is no small task to traverse your forest with a full party of guards - I would go alone, but Elrond insisted on their following."
"Outside of my realm, Mirkwood is not safe: You would do well to heed his orders and appreciate company," Thranduil said. "But enough of that! If we are hasty, we can reach Esgaroth by late morning; I suggest we move on now and keep conversation for when we are feasting in their halls."
Bearing southeast again, the joined groups forded the forest river as to be on its south side, and followed it to the edge of the trees. Even as the undergrowth fell away, it was replaced by a great expanse of reeds and mud: They had reached the Long Marshes, which on this hour were shrouded in a cool mist.
"Ugh," muttered Othimbr챕l, realising how much of the fen was soft and wet. Similar expressions of disgust issued forth from others as they sought for higher ground. Glorfindel turned to Thranduil.
"Do your people not know the route through these marshes to the lake-side? I would have thought this was not your first time to approach the Men."
"It is true that we pass this way on occasion," Thranduil nodded. "But the tide has never been this high on our passing - and I have brought none with me who know the best way."
"Send out scouts then. Two of your swiftest, if you please."
Thranduil picked two unfortunate Silvan, who quickly vanished into the tall reeds with no more sound than the wind. Having little else to do, the company rested here, standing silent on the driest ground they could find. Occasionally a murmur passed from one guard to another, but aside from it, the only sounds were the wind and the frogs.
A rustle heralded the return of the scouts - they both were covered up to their knees in dried mud, and presented themselves in front of Thranduil.
"It is chiefly dry ground if we follow in a circle to the south," the taller one explained. "But if we divert north from halfway, there appear to be ducks roosting in the reeds."
"Ducks," Glorfindel smiled and turned to the king. "Are you aware of the lake-men's traditions, brannon n챠n? Those who attend their feasts are intended to bring something of their own to contribute, and I cannot help but notice that your food seems intended only for your own warriors."
"Nae! Oh, alas - I had forgotten," Thranduil exclaimed. "No doubt you are the same?"
"I had expected you to provide, my king. There are few foods worthy of the table that can be carried across the High Pass and the length of Mirkwood and still keep," Glorfindel said, smile turning to smirk. "Still, at least now we will have a chance to avoid showing up at the Master's gates empty-handed."
The elves circumvented the worst of the marshland to the south - and indeed, it was dry, and almost pleasant, but soon Glorfindel held up a hand and halted the company, before holding a brief whispered conversation with the second scout and setting off in another direction through thicker rushes. Silence was impossible in the rustling thickets, but it was still a credit to the elves of Imladris that they stayed at least as quiet as those of Mirkwood. The company rounded a bush-covered hillock and reached a wide crescent of land that all-but encircled a muddy pool, perhaps fifty yards across, and bunched together on the shoreline. On the distant side, the sounds of waterfowl could be heard in the deeper bullrushes.
"Very well then," Thranduil said. "We shall need one group to disturb the birds, and one prepared to fire on them. Split yourselves accordingly."
The results were immediate, with all those who had forgone a bow leaving in one pack to the other side of the small bay. Othimbr챕l unpacked his own and wondered where to take up a position: Though the hillock gave the best vantage, it was prickly and exposed, while the shoreline was too open to operate comfortably. He paused for a moment in his thought and took a moment to watch the first signs of the sun: a pale yellow glow that reflected off the underbellies of the clouds and faded as it reached the mists of the marshes. Soon it would rise, and that, of course, was when they would strike. In the end he knelt partly in the shadow of a clump of rushes, able to stand up straight and aim over the whole area at a moment's notice. The rest of the elves took up their own positions, shifted, and waited.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Oct 2010 at 3:38pm
Time for you to show off those bow skills! Wink
 
As the dawn breaks and the ducks start to wake as usual, the flushers begin to wade soundlessly through the reeds and the ducks start to panic

You are on the alert for this moment as the ducks rise up out of their nests.

As soon as the birds are high enough (you do not want to hit any of your friends remember) describe how you shoot accurately through the swirling confusion.

There are going to be a lot of people at this feast so have fun, but leave some for the other elves to bring down!
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 Oct 2010 at 1:45am
A chill wind blew across the marshes, coaxed by the rising sun into movement and sweeping away the night's mists. Othimbr챕l didn't yawn, for elves do not tire easily, but nevertheless he lowered his head briefly, glad of a rest in any situation. It had been some time since he had heard the last of the second group.
    He raised his head, checked his bow again, tightening the string-knots to be certain, and quietly arranged his arrows. As time wore on he grew strangely tense, wondering at the fates of the others. Were the waterfowl even there, or had some unforeseen catastrophe befallen them and the elves both? Othimbr챕l shook himself loose, smiling grimly. They were hunting ducks, of all things! The events at the Carrock seemed to have left him with an incurable wanting for chaos: He kept drawing the worst conclusions from everything.
    As he thought this he heard a distant rustle, and all at once, further splashes issued forth from the reeds. Othimbr챕l stood and strung the bow in a single motion, rising in time to see the confused pack of ducks spill forth from the rushes.
    His first impulse was to fire straight into the swarming mass of feathers, and indeed he noticed out of the corner of his eye several of Thranduil's guard drawing bowstrings in preparation - but not yet. At this height, any stray arrow could hit a fellow elf, and although he seldom missed an ideal target, the mere possibility of injuring his kin was chilling - certainly enough to wait a few more seconds.
    Now to pick a target. Several arrows already buzzed towards the flock, but in their owners' eagerness and the rough breeze they glanced off, only bringing one fowl fluttering to the marsh. Othimbr챕l watched carefully, keeping the bowstring tense, and spotted a larger one split away, bearing westwards. Sighting down the arrow shaft, he watched the duck follow an arc, pointed slightly to the right to compensate for the wind, and released.
    Whether it would have impacted or not would remain unknown to him - another arrow struck the fowl from the side and brought it down. Grimacing but undeterred, he quickly strung a new arrow, picked another, and repeated. Again the arrow flew, but a sudden gust from the south blew both it and the chosen duck off course. Othimbr챕l repressed a sigh, drawing back once more and sending an arrow winging idly into the rising flock.
    "Hah!" he muttered, watching as, to his surprise, the projectile hit the side of one bird mid-dive, sending it plummeting into the water. It was tempting to try the same again, but he passed it off to fate and continued to choose targets.
    They continued for a time, bringing down several more to each elf. Pleasingly, Othimbr챕l downed another one quickly after as it fell behind from the pack, and another two thereafter, but soon the remains of the flock were flying both high and far and had escaped the range of even those who had brought longbows. The splashes across the marsh halted, and quiet fell.

"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Nov 2010 at 11:17pm
And your next task is at hand - this time it's the herblore task Smile
 
As you and the other archers get back onto the path along the marsh, the rest of the Elves are waiting for you.
Whilst you were on the hunt, Thranduil and Glorfindel have been talking and apparently there are some valuable medicinal plants growing in the region.Three of the Imladris elves who are field healers are sent off with four of the Silvan warriors to harvest these herbs farther out in the marshes. You decide to join them as you never know when something like this might come in useful...
 
You will need to do some independent research here, although you will find some links to online references in the OP of the OOC thread.
Describe this/these 쁵aluable herbs/plants that would grow in this type of wetland environment and how you locate it it can be an ME or RL plant.
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Nov 2010 at 5:24pm
Othimbr챕l sighed, treading carefully through the shallow marsh pools as the occasional fowl carcass bumped against his ankles. To his left and right, others strode through, picking up their kills. It was foolish, to say the least, not to have considered it before, but nevertheless he had not the slightest inkling of where his downed targets might have landed. It was hardly a matter worth keening over - The supplies he had received at Thranduil's fortress would easily last him for another fortnight - but he did not like to part with his own arrows for good, even those that had missed entirely. After some time he found one, embedded in a large duck, but aside from that and another missing an arrow he was forced to return to the shore with only two waterfowl to his name.
Returning to the path and scraping the mud out of his boots, Othimbr챕l found Thranduil and Glorfindel in whispered exchange while the assorted warriors waited on hand. Recognising the leader of Thranduil's guard, Nirlonnion, he approached and tapped the elf questioningly.
"Man sy pent? What are they saying?"
"I hear that the scouts found something else," the warrior turned. "Herbs."
"What kind? Do you not know?"
Nirlonnion lowered his brow. "I might make my way by the point of a spear, mellon n챤n, but every child of Thranduil's realm learns herblore at their mother's knee. One scout spoke of angelica."
"Sorry," Othimbr챕l murmured, glancing away. Glorfindel was waving for attention.
"Excellent!" he cried, surveying the marshes and the early morning sun. "Friends, we require a group willing to search for the herbs to the north-east. I know of three healers among my own guard - Thranduil, whom would you have accompany them?"
The old elf watched his own warriors carefully, and pointed out four more to join the arranged healers. Othimbr챕l tightened his expression, feeling a sudden impulse, and stepped forward.
"May I... may some follow?" he asked, aware of piercing gazes falling on the back of his head. Thranduil looked askance at him.
"If you so wish, but it is a dull task. You are the one from L처rien, yes?"
Othimbr챕l nodded, stepping back behind the line of warriors with relief and searching for his pack: It had been short-sighted for him to leave home without any herbs to use, and it had been irritating him ever since.

By late morning they had diverted from the King's party, breaking away north over the thickest marshland. Though the elves tried to stay out of the mud, the marsh was filled with hidden bogs and fens and soon Othimbr챕l found himself up to his ankles in it, much to his own displeasure, and the others were in a similar situation. Though the mist had lifted over the immediate area, it still hung thin in the surrounding air, obscuring views of the distant marshland. Finally, one of the healers halted the party.
"This is foolish," she snapped, standing on an isolated grassy mound. "Are we to flounder helplessly in the muck like Men? It looks as if it grows dry to the west - I say we follow the high ground around until we can go on with some decorum."
This met with general agreement, and soon they found a track, unused; perhaps once made by travellers heading to Dale. The main roads across the marsh had been lost under Smaug's fiery watch, but their remains still turned up here and there. Othimbr챕l skulked at the back of the group, drawing the folds of his brown travelling cloak against the chill wind and feeling out of place as he struggled to identify the plants that the others occasionally pointed out: Having found the track, they were now full of cheer and laughed at his occasional clueless expressions, but were quick to correct. While the warriors were silent and businesslike, Glorfindel's healers had, once freed from the group, become somewhat talkative.
He knew of angelica - it grew in the damp and cold and was tall, with white tips. He had seen it used as a tonic, for stomach pains and the elderly, and it was at least useful in that respect, but he still felt he needed more potent elements to his collection. He tore a few sprigs of watercress from the shoreline, but it was hardly adequate, and most of his time was spent following the elf in front, scanning the wetlands for the elusive white-tipped shrub.
"There," said the leader, pointing out over the wetlands. Othimbr챕l followed the finger, spotting the plant for the first time that day. A collective murmur of disapproval went up from the party.
A few shoots of angelica were scattered along a nearby shoreline, but what drew their eyes was the much larger clump. It was growing on a small and flat isle, no more than a dozen paces across, at the center of a wide pool that stretched off into the mists. One of Thranduil's warriors shook his head.
"It is almost as if the Dark Lord himself seeks to beleaguer us," he said. "Could it be in a worse place?"
He did not need an answer, and for a moment they stood, clumped together against the cold, in their own thoughts. Othimbr챕l raised his voice.
"Well, it is poor fare for us to return with only what dry land provides. Some must wade across to the island," he said. A few of the elves turned their attention to him.
"No sense in us all returning with soaked boots," the leader added pointedly. "You at least seem somewhat eager --"
"O, if you wish," Othimbr챕l said, catching the elf's tone quickly, throwing down his pack and unfastening his cloak. Carefully, while the healers gathered what could be found on the shore, he stepped tentatively into the water and waded slowly across to the small isle. The plant covered the island, so he tore up many, but left a few standing to repopulate the grassy patch, and took only a few seeds of others - the seed of angelica being its most used part aside from the root, as far as he knew. Having gathered what he needed, Othimbr챕l tucked the collection under his arm and stumbled back into the muddy pool. Mindful of the water's level around his waist, he was sure to keep his prize as high as possible before emerging dripping on the bank.
"Well?" demanded the leader. "I see you have gathered some at least - Divide it among us all, please. Though I see not why you need of such a herb - you are plainly not a healer."
"I should probably need it sooner or later," Othimbr챕l murmured, with a faint smile. He used the excuse for many of his redundant possessions, but the truth was indeed that, though he knew little of caring for the health of himself or others, to traverse Rhovanion without any support of its kind seemed foolish. Once the seeds and roots had been equally split between the group of four, they straightened up.
"And now where to?" the leader spoke. "Do we meet our companions at the gates of Esgaroth, or try to seek them out over the marshland?"
"This mist is yet to rise," a haughty warrior added. "It would be near impossible unless they have stayed put."
The party turned east, and followed the shoreline.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Nov 2010 at 11:24pm
Clap Well done Othimbrel - I must say I don't much like marshes myself either! Wacko
 
And now for the last part of this Esgaroth story - skinning and butchery...
You just knew that there셝 be a messy task to do after shooting all these ducks. Yes that셲 right the feast is to be held that night so the King and Glorfindel says it셲 only right that the hunters save the cooks a job and pluck the plump birds, gut them (keeping the useful organs and bones for other delicacies or the stockpot) and chop them into portions ready for cooking

Describe how you and your comrades prepare the ducks to hand over to the Master셲 kitchens ready for the oven or the grill pan

If you wish to go on and describe the feast please feel free to do so Thranduil and Glorfindel are so pleased with all your hard work today he has given you all the night off!
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Nov 2010 at 3:01pm
It was near midday when the party finally arrived on the shores of Long Lake, having crossed the marshland. Othimbr챕l hung behind for a moment, gazing across the water: He had never seen a lake, nor a sea or the ocean, and such large expanses of water were quite alien to him. His only disappointment was the beach, made of a coarse, grey silt that slipped underfoot, rather than sand as he had been told. Having yet to dry off in the cool breezes, he shivered only marginally.
Esgaroth was only visible as a oblong blur from here - as they moved down the shoreline, it resolved itself into a great arrangement of rooftops, seemingly floating on the water until they saw the great piles, driven deep into the lake-bed. News of Smaug's destruction of Lake Town had reached L처rien during Othimbr챕l's childhood, and it seemed in light of this the Men of the lake had made a few precautions - in places, the buildings were mud or stone, rather than wood.
Thranduil and Glorfindel both were at the guard house, which was the Lake-Men's only land dwelling, as their warriors waited by. Glorfindel waved down the lead healer as they arrived.
"How went the search? Tiro, this one is soaked!" he chuckled, nodding at Othimbr챕l. The elf bowed his head respectfully in return.
"We found enough," the healer said. "It should be adequate for a while yet."
"Good. Thranduil halted the warriors here until you arrived - it wouldn't do if the Men refused entry to you."
"Are we all together?" the Elven King asked, leaning on his staff. "Then let us move on."
The guards of the town quickly let them through the gates, and after crossing the bridge the convocation found themselves among the town's thatched rooftops. Pushing through the busy crowds, which were doubtless anticipating the events of the eve, the party halted by the Marketwater, the great pool in the center of town where the boats landed and traded on water. Othimbr챕l leaned over the wooden rail, watching the smaller skiffs glide back and forth on the glassy surface and listening to the excited chatter as the people of the lake noticed the elves.
"Well!" said Glorfindel, raising his voice to be heard among his warriors. "We are here now, and the new Master's feast is tonight. I do not see any need for a guard until then, so perhaps you can wander by yourselves for a while."
"Do not forget to deliver your waterfowl to the Master's kitchens," warned Thranduil, as though they were an assembly of children. Glorfindel looked around, speaking more quietly but within earshot.
"It does not seem particularly kind to hand his cooks the unprepared meat, do you think, my King? I suggest the warriors butcher the meat themselves - we will find more favour with him, if nothing else."
"Favour? He wishes for our favour in this endeavour, not we for his - even if we are his guests. My people can survive perfectly well without the Lake-Mens' trade routes."
"Maybe so, but I would wager they lose a few comforts," Glorfindel smiled thinly. "You yourself, I hear, have a taste for the wines of Dorwinion. Regardless, it will not take them long."
"Very well," conceded Thranduil, and explained to his warriors. For a few minutes, the elves loitered uneasily, before the group slowly broke apart as they drifted away into the crowd. Soon Othimbr챕l was the only one left, sitting by the Marketwater and watching the world of Men proper for the first time. Nearly all of his life had been spent living on flets among the branches of L처rien, and now he had been all but thrown into a centre for human trade, without so much as a guide. The Secondborn seemed to burn so much brighter and faster than he and his kindred: Their lives so short; filled with all the passion and emotion that befitted them, but much more fleeting. They were haphazard, pungent and noisy and changeable, but somehow, there was a small part of him that was tinged with envy.
Othimbr챕l released a small sigh, trying to move his thoughts to something less gloomy, and decided to deal with his caught waterfowl while he had the chance. Ignoring the occasional passing stare, he weaved through the busy throng and found a more empty street, where the lake gurgled beneath the boards, and took the ducks out of his pack, feeling thankful that it was cool and they had kept relatively well. Soon he sat and laid one across his lap, wondering to begin: It needed to be plucked, but the head was near useless, so he took his knife to it and set it aside to be thrown away later, before starting to work.
Plucking proved to be unpleasant and repetitive, much as he had expected, and by the end the tips of his fingers were quite senseless, but he still picked up his knife and started to slice the meat from the duck's bones, starting by clearing the skin of any stray feathers. The wings, he quickly decided, had to come off separately, but the tendons were thick and needed more force than he first expected, which culminated when, slicing downwards with frustration, he felt the muscle give way and, more importantly, white hot pain lance across the palm of his other hand and send a shock through his veins.
"Ae! L첵gion!" he cursed, dropping the knife and clutching his wrist. Blood trickled down his arm, the result of a wide slash across his right hand, and dripped onto the wooden floor. Still muttering self-rebukes, he grabbed hold of the damaged flesh and kept it bound tightly between thumb and forefinger until the bleeding slowed, before breathing out and watching the ruptured skin unhappily. 
His reactions had saved the worst of it, but it would still hinder him for a brief time. Elves heal quickly, but they are still flesh and blood: The latter was most evident right now. He returned to his task quickly, treating the blade more clumsily but, in equal measure, more carefully. The rest of the meat came off and was laid aside, before Othimbr챕l turned his focus to the innards. 
He had learned another lesson on the Carrock, after a brief talk with one of the more sober Beornings, and this time when gutting set aside various edible organs and made sure to be especially careful with the liver - apparently it was a delicacy, though he still disliked it. The remaining carcass he packed away again - if time stayed plentiful, he could work at making arrowheads from the bone, or offer it to someone who had a better use for it. Time passed, and Othimbr챕l repeated with his other catch, albeit slower, and finally packed everything back again separately.
The elf stood and stretched, feeling his right hand twitch and itch. It had been a small and foolish mistake, and he would likely pay for it later, but it was a harsher lesson to something he had overlooked once again: Out from under Lothl처rien's eaves, things were no longer faultless - certainly not him. Shaking his head at his own blind naivety, he shouldered his pack and immersed himself in the crowd again, this time aiming for the town's steep-roofed hall on the other side of the Marketwater.
Othimbr챕l found the kitchens via a side door, as well as several of Thranduil's warriors. Having given the duck meat to one of the cooks, and dropping the remaining organs in a large stock pot over the fires, he left in time to see the sun setting over the lake. The moon had risen and the torches were lit before the town's streets quietened, and the elves gathered again outside the Master's hall.
"Well done, friends," Thranduil said, holding one torch to better see his guard. "We travelled in good time today and see now; the Master's feast begins.  He has not personally invited any aside from Glorfindel and I, but once you have escorted us inside you are quite welcome to share in it. Stay inside if you will."
Othimbr챕l remembered little of the next hour or so - as always, pain stood out from such memories while pleasure melded into a seamless impression. Though he resisted debauchery, he still recalled eating and drinking, possibly too much. Thranduil's warriors in particular consumed a great deal of wine. Time passed in a blur of firelight and laughter, but sense was restored when he went outside. The lunar crescent shone overhead tranquilly, lighting the lake waters and picking out the few boats that were still out. Aside from the occasional passing trader, he was alone by the water.
He smiled headily at the moon. He was not entirely in his right mind, he knew, but regrets would not come for a time - for the moment, he was content, at peace and in good company. Such times, he suspected, were rare in the lands beyond the trees.
To where next? He could not say - He longed to stay in Mirkwood, if only for a few days longer, and when Thranduil's guard left for the stronghold on tomorrow's eve, he was always allowed to follow. Yet it would not do to cower among the trees when the rest of the world awaited: He would return to Mirkwood, but after that his destinations all lay far away, many in lands he had never seen outside a map. For now, however, he was content to sit and watch the stars.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Nov 2010 at 3:39pm

DOL GULDUR ~ Stronghold of the Necromancer (Sauron), the other dark tower built on the Hill of Sorcery was raised around 1050-1100 of the TA; close to the Anduin & Lothl처rien on the SW border of Mirkwood; source/home to evil creatures (incl giant spiders), spirits & also Khamul the ringwraith (commanded it after the White Council 'forced' Sauron out); the site is on a bare hill (it was originally called Amon Lanc - the naked hill) that rises above the forest and was originally settled by Oropher after the wars in Eregion in the SA, as a result of  a serious disagreement he had with his kin Amd챠r & his son Amroth and Celeborn, over traffic between the Golden Wood and Moria and other political factors. Nearer the end of SA he took his people into the north-east of the forest prior to the Last Alliance leaving Amon Lanc abandoned and growing increasingly wild and dangerous from the beginning of the TA.


Our storyline ~ King Thranduil has gone to Master Elrond for help with eliminating a terrible new threat that is plaguing the southern borders of the Wood Elves territory. Several of the Elven deer hunts in that area have been disrupted and a few Elves have been badly injured or killed by what appears to be a Black Unicorn (Sind. Rocherras as our best guess - horned horse) that hates all life and kills indiscriminately.

The King has sent scouts to track the dread beast as far as they can and only one has returned - with a terrible poisoned gore wound to his leg sustained just as the scouts sighted the creature only a few miles away from Dol Guldur. The scout survived his own wounding by chewing on the eldritch plant mandragora and has made a shocking discovery - the Black Unicorn wears a huge rusting iron collar and is shod with cruel spiked iron shoes on his hooves. This is obviously the work of the Nazg청l who now occupy the Necromancer셲 old stronghold

 

Master Elrond has sent three elves to southern Mirkwood, one a young loremaster (must  be virginal, but assign gender and a name as you wish) and two experienced Guardians/warriors with instructions to find the rare and powerful mandragora plant (mandrake), so the Black Unicorn can be freed from the evil spells that afflict it.
 
Please note in this area you may post more than once for any of the tasks if you wish. You may also NPC any other characters or invite the TR, other players or friends in to interact with you.
 
Read the storyline section carefully.
This part is concerned with herblore which is an important component in this area of RP

The two Guardians are a little disgruntled to be saddled by this whipper-snapper Loremaster who has been put in charge of the mission. Why can셳 they just go in, find the wretched beast and slay it? Patiently the learned Elf tells you all why...

The Unicorns are sacred spirits and dedicated to the service of V찼na of the Valar, and so can never be slain, but they can be enslaved with iron and controlled with dark magic that gradually drives them into an insane hatred of all life. So the mission is in fact to capture the Unicorn and try to undo the corruption the Ringwraiths have wrought on the poor creature (three were known to abide at Dol Guldur under the command of Khamul, second in strength to the Witchking).

 
The first thing you have to do is find a female mandragora plant that grows in the domain where the Unicorn dwells, and so you have to go straight to the area around Dol Guldur. Luckily the Loremaster tells you that the Unicorn is far away at this time
Describe your journey into the dark forest and how you find this legendary root (use our list of online references or follow your own line of research on this aspect. We셱e interested in how you write it - not having a botany lesson). Tell us what it looks like and then take it back to the Loremaster. DO NOT post beyond this point in the story and do not sight or engage with creatures from Dol Guldur during this section.

Because there is no proper canon on Unicorns in any of Tolkien's ME writings please negotiate with your mentor in the OOC thread as often as needed in order to keep the RP threads straight Smile
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 1:50pm
A cool breeze from the marshes swept down the rough track by the Forest River, reminding Othimbr챕l of his experience by the Long Lake not long before. In truth, he thought, leaning idly against a crooked beech and watching what little he could of the sunset, it was a little worrying to think he needed reminding of it. Only a few weeks had passed since he stood by the Marketwater of Esgaroth; insignificant for his kind, but it seemed all the more distant for it. Time had a poor sense of humour.
His plan had been to leave Mirkwood and make a heading for South Rhovanion via the Anduin, but the lands to the south seemed less safe with every passing day: Dol Guldur's shadow seemed to grow over the forest, and rumours of a black unicorn that moved like smoke and attacked savagely had abounded inside Thranduil's fortress. He was not one to believe such things until his eyes were set upon them, but there was a sense of unease in the cavernous fortress quite unlike anything he had witnessed before.
That was not to say that his time had been spent doing nothing; with a scouting party sent to the far south of the forest, Othimbr챕l had been chosen to fill in for their guard duties, which had occupied him since Esgaroth and finally resulted in him being here, standing by the side of the Forest Road in the dark with one of the stronghold's spears in one hand. There was precious little to see by - mostly moonlight off the river's torpid waters - and even fewer distractions. He might have once become impatient with the tedium of his post, but in truth there was something pleasing about the timeless isolation, though he couldn't slip into any manner of trance and lose alertness. Smiling wearily at the shadows, he idly watched the road, safe in the knowledge that nothing could possibly be following it.
Othimbr챕l was surprised, then, to hear padded footsteps somewhere in the distant gloom. The whistle of the wind in his ears had masked them, it seemed, but now they were drawing close, and there was no reason to be on the road at this hour. He readied his spear just in case - a cumbersome weapon, he felt, but Nirlonnion had insisted on it while he took guarding duties - and concentrated on the sound. Three sets of feet, perhaps, all of them moving at a quick pace. They seemed heavier than usual, but it could just be his perception.
Eventually the owners of the feet came into view; he recognised them as the group of guards that were posted to the Enchanted River and the foothills of Emyn-nu-Fuin. The leader, whose face was ashen in the twilight, called out as they approached.
"Na vedui! How far to the fortress, friend?"
"Less than a league," replied Othimbr챕l, lowering the spear and relaxing his grip, "but what troubles you so at this hour? Ae!"
So he cried, at least, as he caught sight of their cargo. Slung between the other two elves, a makeshift stretcher carried a motionless body, hastily covered with a blanket. One leg was still visible, covered by the tattered remains of some leggings and plainly gored by some large creature. The wound itself, he noticed with increasing trepidation, was black and festering, and was covered in the dried crust of some kind of poison. Rather than stay guarding the road, he turned and followed the group as they hurried along the rough path.
"What befell him?" he asked, trailing their leader. "No ordinary creature could do such a thing to any of us - certainly not here, in Mirkwood!"
"We can only guess," said the elf, keeping sharp eyes on the road ahead as they slowed to talk. "Perhaps he was caught off guard. My companions found him crawling in the forest. He babbled of the black unicorn, at least while he was still awake, and I think he may be of the scouting party that went south. I fear they are dead, and I don't believe he would have survived this long - but it seems he has been chewing on mandragora for a time."
Othimbr챕l nodded, remembering the little he knew about the plant; It grew in the dark and damp, and had potent properties of healing and harm, neither of them easy to obtain. Though it was prized among masters of herblore, they seldom used it - it was said to cause strange visions and twist perception.
"Thranduil needs to be told," he voiced idly, slowing down slightly. "He sent out those scouts, and I am sure his healers will consent to looking after this one."
"I will do it," muttered the elf, waving him away. "You return to your post; it is no business of yours."
Slightly disheartened, but seeing sense, Othimbr챕l turned away and left them to their task.

More time slipped by. A sense of unease grew in in the tunnels under north-east Mirkwood, a feeling that propagated whispered conversations and hurried footsteps in the echoing halls. News of the last scout's return quickly spread throughout the fortress and the surrounding forest, but it was rarely voiced aloud, as if the people were fearful to merely speak of such events in idle conversation. Othimbr챕l paid little attention to it, all too occupied with his own duties and studies. In planning his journey to the southern reaches of Rhovanion, he had discovered Thranduil's archives - a paltry comparison to the collections of Imladris, or even L처rien, but nevertheless a dusty chamber, deep below the usual workings of the fortress, filled with scrolls, maps and books about distant places and unheard-of people. He had quickly found them an excellent way to spend the long hours of spare time, expanding the world within his mind just as the world outside began to show strain. Eventually, to his immense surprise, he received a summons from Thranduil.
"Why?" he asked the messenger, removing his bow and quiver and hanging them up in his cramped quarters; somehow it seemed altogether wrong to bring weapons to the Elvenking's court. "What does Thranduil want from me?"
"I know not, but you are not the only one - he has sent out for one of his Loremasters as well. Some task that he needs you both for, perhaps."
"Perhaps," echoed Othimbr챕l, and gave a small smile of amusement. "Many thanks."

Though he had come into contact with the king while on the journey to Esgaroth, Othimbr챕l still knew little of Thranduil and his ways; the elf was an elder, much older than himself and by all means experienced enough for the position held. Entering the throne room and standing a respectful distance away, he bowed his head and crossed his hand over the heart as the king rose from his oaken chair.
"Ae, it is good to see you again, Othimbr챕l. Stand up straight, or I shall have to speak to the top of your head and hope it listens well," the king chuckled, faded eyes piercing his own with unsettling clarity.
"As always, it is better to see you, brannon n챠n, my lord," he replied, feeling the small sting in his words as he said them: Thranduil may be king of Mirkwood and the wood elves, but his faith and servitude still rested with Lady Galadriel. The old elf stared briefly, and laughed.
"If that is how you see it. Now, where is the Loremaster I asked for? Doubtless she is deep in the scripts of old, and refuses to come up until notes have been made. Such is the stubbornness of those who work with words, but they are rare in the twisted branches of my realm and I cannot choose as I like."
"You waited almost half a moon before receiving word from the House of Elrond, O king," murmured a brown-robed figure, detaching itself from the recesses of the hall. "I think a few more seconds are easily justified."
"Mae govannen. Well met, Loremaster Numenorel," said Thranduil, nodding. "I see I am still here for your idle amusement." Stepping forward, the Loremaster came into the light; Othimbr챕l was almost immediately struck by how young she looked, for a Loremaster at any rate. He had traditionally associated them with great age, as they accumulated knowledge over hundreds of years, but this one could be barely older than himself. Reasoning to himself that all had to begin somewhere, he realised that she also couldn't possibly be of the Silvan - not being as pale as she was, unless it was a result of long hours spent in the dark and dry.
"I'm sorry, Thranduil," said Numenorel, bowing her head slightly out of deference and looking up again. "But if we are to speak of amusement, I must ask." She pointed at Othimbr챕l. "Is this the 'guard' your messenger spoke of? One of your hapless soldiers, doubtless nothing more than a small hindrance. If you fear for my safety so much, I must tell you that this stripling will do nothing."
Othimbr챕l glared at the elleth, indignant and surprised. He would not have chanced a reply, not with the Loremaster smiling wanly back at him. Thranduil shook his head.
"You may be surprised," he said, sinking back into the carved chair. "But that is not important either way. I must explain to you your tasks."
"You have heard, I know, of the only scout to return from the southern borders of my realm - of his injury, grievous as it is, and the stories he retold. A unicorn, so the rumours spoke, of darkest black, one that spreads only death and destruction. You may also be pleased to hear of his recovery - but what I tell you now is all we have pried from his mind. He still suffers, and could only tell us what he remembered."
"This black unicorn exists, but it is no natural creature, not even of Melkor's hands. It was once a pure being, but now it is bound with an iron collar, and shod with iron spikes, which have corrupted its heart and turned it to dark acts. I fear there is only one explanation for this: It is the black art of the Nazg청l, and they have returned to Dol Guldur under the Necromancer's order."
"I would not ask you, nor any of my people, to fight such creatures for me until they were at our front door, and nor shall I ask you to fight the unicorn, for it is a sacred creature and slaying such a thing is a crime beyond words. I can only imagine one other solution: You must search the forest around Dol Guldur for the unicorn, cure it, and free it from the Nazg청l's iron grip."
The Elvenking turned slightly, and focussed his attention on the Loremaster.
"Sadril, Numenorel," he addressed her. "Lore-master of Elrond's house. If there is a solution then I think there is no elf in these caverns who could better find it. I know you planned to return to Imladris, but I ask of you this one service before you leave Mirkwood."
"Othimbr챕l," he said, turning again. "You have proved yourself useful several times before, and have worked hard since then. You are going in my stead; as my eyes and ears, as the presence of the Silvan. Whatever happens in my realm, I must know about it - and I must have servants who will be there to tell me."
Othimbr챕l nodded in acceptance and stood back, thoughts of packing and preparation already on his mind. In a way he was relieved to be moving, wherever he was going and even if he must return. Thranduil raised an arm and called as they turned to leave.
"Dartho!" he said. "I have been preoccupied of late, and forgot to tell you - you two will not be alone in this task. I have contacted Master Elrond, and he has consented to send two of his warriors to help you and guard against the unicorn,  should you need it. They will meet you at Rhosgobel in thirteen days."
"Rhosgobel?" asked Othimbr챕l, curious. The name was familiar, but the maps were but a vague memory.
"Home of Radagast the Brown, near the Forest Road," said Numenorel. "You know of the wizard, surely? He is friend to the beasts and the birds, and built his house on the western fringe of the forest. It is the only certain meeting place for at least fifty leagues."
"I... remember," Othimbr챕l said, staring down the Loremaster. They knew between that look he was lying, but his pride didn't fold quite so easily. Stripling indeed!
"Excellent," said the Elvenking, smiling ingratiatingly . Aged though he was, he knew enough of the silent exchange to infer the meaning. "You must leave within a week, less if you can. I would have asked for more help, but a larger company moves slowly and there has been brisk trade of late; far too much to spare others under my care. Do what you can."
"Le hannon; Thank you, my lord," Othimbr챕l said stiffly,  leaving the chamber with Numenorel behind him. Neither spoke to the other, and they soon parted to their separate ways.

A week of preparing for the expedition was quickly left behind, and it was not long before Othimbr챕l found himself standing once more on the familiar bridge over the Forest River, waiting for a silhouette to pass out through the great stone doors of the fortress. Daybreak was sending the night retreating across the sky, and there was a slight chill in the air.
Eventually Numenorel appeared, a travelling cloak thrown over her Loremaster's robes and a pack slung across one shoulder. They drew level and exchanged dull glares for a moment.
"Are you ready?" Othimbr챕l asked. "We can make good distance if we leave while it's still early. Rhosgobel will be to the south-west."
"Would I have come out here if I was not prepared?" said Numenorel, as they both began walking. "But you should remember you are Thranduil's pet ambassador in these affairs, nothing more. I shall be directing everyone from here onwards."
"Be iest l챠n," he muttered, adding, "if that is what you insist." They crossed the bridge, taking the first steps of the journey into the depths of Mirkwood.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Quark Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Apr 2011 at 11:11am
The first part of the journey, the short trek to Rhosgobel, passed mercifully without pitfall. Othimbr챕l and Numenorel spoke little - He was glad that the Loremaster had refrained from passing any more remarks, and it was likely she was thinking similarly. Though the wood elves had forged many tracks through the forest, none connected Thranduil's caverns to Rhosgobel, and so they were left to find their own way through Mirkwood's tangled undergrowth, which grew darker and more twisted as they went south and passed the realm of the giant spiders. Even carrying packs, this was little hindrance to either of them, and they were at the tail of the mountain range by the eighth night. After walking through the first seven, Numenorel insisted they stopped at the base of the hills and rested until morning. Othimbr챕l agreed, feeling tiredness in his own legs, but refused a fire.
     "Oh? Why should I forsake warmth on a night like this?" the Loremaster asked, drawing her travelling cloak tighter against the bitter evening air.
     "Have you not seen it before?" asked Othimbr챕l. "The forest is awash with moths at night. Light a fire and they shall swarm us in the thousands. And it is not even that cold."
     "Ignorant," she muttered in disgust, and opened her pack. "Are these not your people? Do you think they hold their outdoor banquets and celebrations in the dark?"
     "I am of the same race as Thranduil's Silvan, nothing more," retorted Othimbr챕l angrily. "Dispute has long since driven us apart."
     "I will forgive you, then," Numenorel said, holding a pinch of dried leaves. "This plant is fairly common in Mirkwood, but the moths abhor its smell; burn it, and they shall leave us alone for a while."
     The evening wore on, now with a fire to light up the sparse camp. Othimbr챕l felt he had chanced enough argument for a time, but there questions still to ask before they left for Dol Guldur, and his patience was waning. Some time later he began to pace in front of the embers, if only for something to distract from the future. The black unicorn had seemed absurd, but now that they were leaving for its territory, he was starting to feel fear - unfamiliar and unfounded, but it still clawed at his stomach and chest. Frowning, he glanced at the Loremaster, hunched over on the other side of the fire.
     "May I ask this much of you, then: What plan have you prepared?" he questioned.
     "Na d챠nen! Be silent," Numenorel hissed, head remaining bent. "It is not done yet, and if I cannot think clearly then it may never be. Wait until Rhosgobel!"
     By sunrise the next morning they had already left, moving in a straight line through the undergrowth to the supposed location of Radagast's home. Somewhere to the north-west, Othimbr챕l knew, lay the Carrock, where the Beornings were doubtless returning to their normal lives - and far to the south-west lay Lothl처rien. Home, though never to be returned to until he found fortune in the world outside. It seemed increasingly unlikely with every passing day, but he suppressed thoughts of homesickness and instead led the way through the bracken.
     By the eleventh day, the trees thinned and they reached Rhosgobel - a great tower of wood and stone, built on the edge of the river plains. As the two approached it from behind, Othimbr챕l noticed a change in the air; it seemed everywhere, and yet he could not determine what it was. Only when a thrush crossed their path did he realise.
     "Birds!" he exclaimed, as a flock of starlings passed overhead. "They are everywhere!" He passed a hand over the dark wood, feeling faded lights pass behind his eyes: the tower was ancient, easily older than any elf he had ever known. Nothing more than a flicker remained of the life that filled all things growing.
     Numenorel nodded. "This is Rhosgobel, I am sure. Nowhere else does Radagast's influence manifest so easily. It is said he loves the birds."
     The house of Radagast turned out to be large and well-kept, filled with halls and rooms built of the same old wood and stone, but also noticeably stark and lacking in comforts or decoration. Most discomforting of all, there was no sign of the wizard himself. Othimbr챕l concentrated on the sounds of the house, but above the chatter of birds and the modulated hum of the wind, there was nothing - not a scratch of a quill, nor a creak of a floorboard or the tell-tale crackle of a lit torch. Confused, he met the Loremaster in the small central courtyard, under the solitary oak that dominated the sunny space.
     "I can find no signs of the man - indeed, no sign that anybody has lived here for nearly a month. You?" she asked. Othimbr챕l shook his head.
     "Then he has left on some unknown errand. We are alone, and must continue to act as guests in an empty house, or at least until these guards of mine arrive. Do not do anything foolish in the mean time, please? I am afraid I still cannot trust you loose in the house of a wizard."
     "Is that so?" Othimbr챕l countered, annoyed with the ever-present contempt. "Then I have failed you, Loremaster, and the expectations of everybody whom I ever knew. I shall try to resist the urge to burn the place to the ground."
     Numenorel laughed hollowly, turning away and leaving to explore the building further. Othimbr챕l watched her go, and chose instead to sit in the crook of the oak for a while in rest. He stayed until the sun set; until the moon was high overhead, and chose to brave the cold rather than sleep in Rhosgobel's unfamiliar halls.

Three days passed, a feeling of wasted time resting on every one. Lacking direction or task, Othimbr챕l took to wandering the lands surrounding the tower while Numenorel spent more time in Radagast's small study, reading scrolls and papers written by the wizard in his own studies. Othimbr챕l would have liked reading such scrolls himself, if only out of curiosity, but the Loremaster would not appreciate his presence, and in any case it transpired that the writings were almost all in Westron, a language he could not read and could barely speak. Only on the third day since reached Rhosgobel, walking in the splintered terrain to the south of the tower, did Othimbr챕l finally encounter their arrivals - two figures, wading through the grasses of the river plains below. Even at a distance, he could see they were the elves sent by Master Elrond.
     As a wood-elf, born and raised under the branches and ancient stars, it filled him with a strange awe to behold the Guardians of Imladris; warriors of the Eldar and servants to the son of E채rendil. There was no greatness in their appearance, as they were lightly-armoured for the journey, but stories of the deeds of the Guardians had reached him in his earlier youth, and the times since Lothl처rien had done nothing to dispel them.
     "Suilad! Greetings and well met, friends," he said as they approached. "Rhosgobel is just over yonder hill, and Loremaster Numenorel waits within." Only then did formalities catch up to his thoughts, and he added, "I am Othimbr챕l, son of Ardr챤le and acting in Thranduil's stead."
     "Mae govannen, and well met to you too, Othimbr챕l," said the shorter of the elves, a small smile of amusement on his face. "The Elvenking must be busy with trade indeed, to send a helpless n챤th, a youth like this, on his errands."
     "Nay, be fair, Ilraendil," rebuked the second, drawing level and raising the hood of his travelling cloak. "Thranduil sends whom he trusts, and I can vouch for this particular youth. The trust is understandable."
     "D청rmenel!" he cried, only now recognising the familiar steely look. "You are a Guardian?"
     D청rmenel nodded curtly. "It is good to see you are still alive, tracker," he said, slightly mockingly. "From the nature of this task, I should guess you have not been idle either."
     "Far from it, my lord," said Othimbr챕l with a small smile, as he turned to lead the way back to the tower. As they passed through the long grasses, he recounted to them events as they had passed since the Carrock; Thranduil's fortress, the journey to Esgaroth, the unicorn, and the scout. The captain nodded thoughtfully.
     "Much, it seems, has happened, and yet I heard nothing of it until now. This lack of communication with Mirkwood is becoming a worrisome curse on our people. Can Thranduil not be convinced to repair old bonds?"
     "It is not my place to say," said Othimbr챕l, mounting the steps to the tower. "And I know nothing of the feud that started this. He seemed kindly enough to Numenorel and I, though neither of us are under his rule."
     The Loremaster herself met them in the hall, but though they were polite, neither Guardian looked nearly as comfortable in greeting her. Othimbr챕l watched the unease in their eyes for some time, but commented not, and watched from a distance. They agreed to leave at once, pausing only briefly to discuss the plan in Radagast's study, and it was here that all four found themselves as the sun began to set over Rhosgobel.
     "At last, we may speak of what we must do," said Numenorel, sitting in a sweeping motion. "I know how we may bring peace to Mirkwood once more, or at the very least, the parts that the Silvan frequent."
     "Please do tell, then," said Othimbr챕l, as the other three sat. "We have already delayed too long."
     "Hush," she murmured, in a patronising tone that greatly infuriated. "I shall tell."
     "This unicorn is said to hate all life, perhaps its own most of all, and does its utmost to destroy it all. Yet unicorns are sacred creatures - indeed, the very symbol of purity, dedicated to the service of V찼na - and could never bring themselves to such a thing normally. Evil cannot corrupt them like it can corrupt men, or even elves. They are immune."
     "There are other ways to fill a creature with evil: Dark rites, which I will not speak of in this place, but it suffices to say that our scout saw this unicorn bound with cruel iron - doubtless cursed by the metal itself, controlled by the Ringwraiths' own magic. It cannot ever give up its true nature, and yet it is being twisted like this; I fear, if we delay overlong, that it will go insane."
     "We have no choice, then," replied Ilraendil, rising from his seat. "We must slay it, before it goes too far! How long before it spreads their boundaries, attacks our people in our territory? Do we have the time? Can we even catch it."
     "Baw! Do you even listen, warrior?" cried Numenorel. "It cannot be so easily slain, not by earthly means; and even should we succeed, we would carry a terrible death on our shoulders - it is an innocent creature, however the darkness tells it otherwise."
     D청rmenel spoke. "Loremaster, he is quite right in saying we have to stop it, and I fear this is not the time for gentle persuasion. Whatever it once was, it is now a monster. Nobody could be blamed for defending themselves against such a creature."
     "If you wish to see if you can place a spear in its belly," said Othimbr챕l, glaring softly around the table. "Then you may go and do your best. I should not expect to see either of you again, and the Loremaster and I shall have to return in failure. I do not like the arrangement any more, but hold peace until we hear the plan."
     This seemed to calm the Guardians, though they stayed disgruntled. Numenorel looked around, as if expecting another interruption, and continued.
     "We cannot slay the creature," she said, "so it must be freed. The iron that binds it; that must be removed. The curses that torment it; they must be undone. Only once it is completely free can we return from Dol Guldur in safety. Though death never comes to a unicorn, it can still be brought down: Drugged, bound, even injured if we must. Once we stop it, I can remove the Ringwraiths' binds and restore its sanity."
     Ilraendil nodded begrudgingly. "Very well, but if anything goes wrong, understand that neither my companion nor I shall hesitate in killing it. Whatever curse such an act carries, it would be an easier burden than the death of you or the ambassador. Elrond should have our heads, at least if he catches us before Thranduil."
     "That will not happen if you follow my directions."
     "Then we shall have to trust you," said D청rmenel.
     The Loremaster gave a wan smile. "Surely you do not find that difficult?" she asked.

After another night in Rhosgobel, they left at dawn. The party followed the forest border for a while, walking silently through the long grasses as the trees loomed on one side, but soon they found themselves turning inwards until they were under the shadow of Mirkwood once more. Dark and rotten though it was, they were at home here, and moved faster than any other creature could have through the twisted undergrowth.
     They walked in single file, following the route that D청rmenel chose, and went on like this for some miles. Eventually, Othimbr챕l slowed down to draw level with Ilraendil, who was bringing up the rear. The older elf walked with a grim look on his face, likely from the apprehension of defending against the unicorn, but it seemed to be something else that occupied him.
     "You do not have faith in the Loremaster, do you, hiril n챠n?" Othimbr챕l said to him quietly, as they walked softly along. The Guardian looked around, surprised, but Othimbr챕l had worked this out over the previous night.
     "No, I do not!" he whispered harshly. "Look at us - following the orders of this child, blind as sheep to a slaughter. I care not for you - for you are only to be protected - but this elleth may be leading us to our deaths!"
     "You really fear her judgement is not sound because of her youth? If D청rmenel had put forward such a plan, would you have been confident in it?"
     "Maer. He is a wise captain, even if he is not learned in lore as she is. And what matter does this pose with you?" Ilraendil asked.
     "I want the four of us to escape alive and successful," Othimbr챕l smiled grimly. "If we are squabbling like this, I don't expect that to happen. Please, just do as she asks."
     "I will, but that does not mean I have to agree with it."

Driving the party deeper into the southern half of Mirkwood, only one thing changed under the dark canopy - it began to rain. Sometimes lightly, sometimes with great vigour, but always there was the steady drip-drip of water on the forest floor, turning the dirt to mud. When the rain did not soak them, the filth would find a way to get everywhere, and try as they might, it was impossible to stay untouched. D첬rmenel began to pick paths not based on whether they were the easiest, but whether they were the driest, and everybody gladly followed. At the end of one such day, where they had walked through the mud and rain from dawn to eve, Othimbr챕l found himself squeezing water out of his travelling cloak like a housewife's dishcloth, and sat close enough to the fire to feel the wound on his hand itching. The other elves were in a similar state, but nobody grumbled - it was, after all, only rain. Much worse was to come when they reached Dol Guldur.
     When they were actually going to reach it was a matter of some debate - after another fortnight of travel, they were all beginning to grow weary of the endless twisted vegetation. Occasionally when they found a suitable tree, one or more would climb up and take their bearings in the uncovered sky, the only way to be sure that they were truly progressing. On the southern horizon, a dark smudge gradually appeared, and grew closer from day to day, and the trees slowly turned to dead, blackened versions of themselves, covered in fungi and treading in a grey sea of leaf-litter. The elves passed silently, feeling as if they were walking through an endless graveyard.
     "Halt," said Numenorel, as dusk fell over Mirkwood. "We are close enough, now. This is the unicorn's territory."
     Though Othimbr챕l sensed the nervous sensation that swelled in the group, they gratefully dropped their packs and started on a fire: they had been walking for several days since their last stop, and the forest did nothing for morale. Flames soon crackled and light spouted forth from the camp, but nothing banished the feeling of isolation here - it was dark, grey, and silent. Not even the insects chirped, but skittered underfoot in fear.
     "At last, we can begin the task proper," said the Loremaster, sitting cross-legged by the fire and warming her hands. "It is better, perhaps, if I do not tell any of you the rest of the plan for now; after all, it may drive some of you to be... irrational. And no matter how dangerous the unicorn is, things shall be much worse if we are a danger to ourselves as well."
     "Very well," said Othimbrel. "Man iest? What would you have us do?"
     "I require the root of mandragora," she said, "from the female plant. It is a necessary ingredient, and grows in this area - you should have no trouble in a place like this."
     "Here!" cried D청rmenel in a harsh whisper. "You want us to go out into that creature's domain and pick herbs for you, as if on some common errand?"
     "If you fear for your own safety so much, I should warn you that we are no more safe here either - nor have we been for the last few days," said Numenorel. "The unicorn's domain stretches far beyond Dol Guldur, but this is also to our advantage; for it roams far and wide. Loremasters of Imladris are taught to sense the presence of such beings, and I can tell you that it is far, far away. We are safe here for now, at least from the unicorn we seek."
     "But why search for mandragora here?" asked Othimbr챕l. "Could you not have brought some beforehand?"
     The Loremaster shook her head. "It must be picked from the creature's realm, and nowhere else. If it is not, then it is next-to useless. D청rmenel," she added, pointing to the elvish captain. "You shall stay and guard me. Ilraendil can go with the ambassador in search of the herb. I trust that one of you two knows how to find it."
     "Of course," Othimbr챕l muttered in irritation. "It will be the only source of colour in this dank place."

Walking off into the trees with the Guardian by his side, Othimbr챕l felt the sense of isolation creep upon them once again until their footsteps, soft as they were, became the only noises to be heard. No wind blew; no rain fell - everything was silent, still, and damp.
     "This is unnatural," grumbled Ilraendil, as they followed a ditch downhill. "Why does nothing grow anew? Everything is either dead or dying."
     "It is probably the work of the Nazg청l," Othimbr챕l murmured. "I have heard tales of the Dark Lord's own realm: it is a blasted plain of dust and rock, surrounded by jagged mountains. Nothing grows there either."
     "Then what of this plant, this mandragora? How are we to find it?"
     Othimbr챕l paused, worry rising in his chest. In his haste and annoyance, he had left the Loremaster without asking how to find the plant - but it was out of the question for them to go back now; too much time wasted, and it was likely that if she had known, they would have been told.
     "It grows in the damp," he voiced without certainty, "and spreads its leaves wide, growing purple flowers." It was drawn from a distant memory, of a text once read in Mirkwood, or perhaps even Lothl처rien. "I can think of nothing else."
     "That is of little use," Ilraendil muttered, idly kicking up a drift of leaves. "Everywhere here is dark and wet, and the plants are shriveled husks."
     Othimbr챕l sighed. The Guardian was right - they would simply have to search everywhere.
     Hours must have passed in the dark, as they searched the ground fruitlessly, scouring it for signs of roots and leaves - but alas, there were only the trees, the fungi, and a few rotten weeds. By the end, the tips of his fingers were numb from sweeping leaves away, and yet there was nothing. Ilraendil looked up with an expression of concern, watching the darkness grow over the forest.
     "I fear it is too late to continue much longer. We should not want to be here when night falls proper," he said.
     Othimbr챕l slumped against one of the wretched trees and closed his eyes, pretending for a moment - childishly - that he was leagues away, against one of the beeches of Thranduil's realm, speaking nonchalantly to a passer-by, and that none of this had ever came to pass. The illusion lasted not a second, and the smell of rot filled his nose even then. Alongside it however, he suddenly realised, was another scent: Pungent and bittersweet, and thoroughly unfamiliar.
     Opening his eyes again, he glanced around to find the source and noticed the base of the tree he had leaned against was split asunder, with a small patch of soil nestled in its centre. In the dirt, he could clearly see several grey, twisted shoots growing, each of them secluded from the filthy, muddy forest floor, and with an appearance that seemed somewhat familiar, and the same scent he had caught. Each one had a few pale purple bulbs.
     "Dartho! Ae, na vedui; Wait! Ah, at last," he called out to Ilraendil, as he uprooted the shoots. "Here it is, I am sure. Mandragora!"
     "Are you certain? Check it carefully."
     Othimbr챕l held the plants high, trying to see if, in the dim light, they matched the description he read all those weeks ago. Satisfied, he wrapped the three roots and put them in his pack, then turned to leave. Ilraendil was waiting urgently, gazing nervously at the darkening skies.
     "Aphado nin, follow me," he said. "We only have a little time until night is upon us."
     They kept up a quick pace, but Othimbr챕l still began to fear for their safety. Several times, he jumped at passing shadows that moved in the wind, and in the silence, the distant, faint sound of hoofs still struck terror into them both. Whether the creature was following them or not, Othimbr챕l felt hunted - as they scurried to and fro under Dol Guldur's blank watch like helpless mice, he had a terrible, irrational urge to simply run and wail their fears, but he knew quite well what the price of that would be. At last, sighting the orange glow of the camp, they slowed down and each privately calmed their nerves.
"Oh god, he's got an arm that shoots BEES. BEEEES!"
-- Minicrit
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  Quote Silen Aranor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Apr 2011 at 6:04pm
Well done Othimbrel - comment left for you elsewhere Smile
 
Part 2 covers hunting tasks
 
You, the Guardians and the Loremaster are now close to Dol Guldur. Having found the magical female mandragora plant you take it back to Loremaster. She now has to make a powerful draught from the plant and while she makes it she tells you all to leave and go hunting for a fallow doe and her newborn fawn - but NOT to kill them - and bring them back to where you are camped. The idea is to use the deer as bait in a trap to ensnare the Unicorn.
 
Describe your deer hunt, how you track down the female and her fawn it will only be a few days old and so they will have left the herd for now. Explain how you capture them unharmed and subdue them. Feel free to use you imagination here as hunting does not generally end in keeping the quarry alive of course and so you will not find much to help you online! 

Remember that you are Elves and that they are fleet, agile and able to connect deeply with animals and birds - so this is not beyond your capabilities!

 
Take your prizes back to camp but DO NOT post beyond this point in the story.
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