The Boarslayer and Denethor spent their year-end fellowship in the Halls of the Woodland Realm, Denethor’s home. Brand returned home to Dale to help his father. In the Spring, Brand joined the other two in the Woodland Realm for the great white stag hunt.
After several days of feasting, the characters had a rather unsatisfactory encounter with Ruithel, the Warden of the Woodland Realm when seeking advice about the customs and etiquette of the great hunt. She was quite abrupt and simply warned the PCs to stay out of her way. We did hear once again about the Woodland Elves displeasure that humans were cutting down trees in the eastern part of their realm. We may have to pick up on this hook at some point, just so we can quit hearing about it.
After this, the group had a chance to swap riddles and songs with the Hobbit himself, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. It was a jovial encounter and Bilbo gave us the gifts of a bag of Longbottom Leaf and a map of the North Downs, west of the Misty Mountains. Along with this gift was a quest to find any evidence whether a band of Hobbit archers had participated in the Battle of Fornost, some thousand years prior.
Not long after this, the hunt began. Different parties were released in waves, with Thranduil and Ruithel leading the first wave, and our little party released in a much later wave, fitting our lowly station. We endure a long series of travel checks and random checks that keep coming up empty for us, with the result that we spend several weeks wandering the forests without spotting any of our target game.
Finally, Denethor spots a deer-bed with a black stag standing near it. His Lore check gave him some reservations about shooting a black stag, and he decided to let it go. On investigating more closely, we discover a pit, clearly dug and not a natural feature. Brand spots something shiny in the bottom of the pit and climbs down in. It turns out to be Ruithel’s famous Bow of Sudden Fury. Clearly, the pit was a trap sprung some time ago, and equally evident, Ruithel was its victim.
The Boarslayer has hound sniff the bow and attempt to track the scent, but he merely goes to a nearby tree and starts to claw at it. We can see nothing unusual about the tree, but after a few moments, we hear a click from the other side and discover two dwarf brothers, Polin and Polman. They warn us that we are trespassing and to begone.
We begin to question them about the pit trap and whether they have Ruithel as a prisoner. They readily admit that they do, but refuse to turn her over to us. Apparently the two of them, along with Frar The Beardless (rendered Beardless by Ruithel herself!) are outcasts from their clan and have made a new home here in a tree in Mirkwood Forest.
Negotiations are lengthy and confusing as the two dwarfs are complete idiots and won’t take any independent action until Frar returns from business in a few weeks time. We finally convince them to release Ruithel to our custody in exchange for the pouch of Longbottom Leaf and allowing them to hold hostage the Bow of Sudden Fury as assurance of her return to them in four weeks time to face the justice meted out by Frar.
After securing her release, we go back to hunting. The Boarslayer makes a good hunting check to track the quarry, and Denethor spots the stag. Boarslayer attempts to creep closer but just misses the target on his stealth check. The stag leaps away, and Denethor and Boarslayer are each going to have one and only one shot at the hart.
Denethor (with 4 pips in Bows) misses. Boarslayer (with 2 pips in Spears) rolls 9-6-6 – a hit with an exceptional success delivering 11 damage. In addition, the 9 on the feat die meets the Edge for a spear, and the stag fails its protection test.
We gut the stag and prepare to return with it, victorious, to the Halls of the Woodland King.