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The Narrative for this game so far (STORY SPOILERS!)

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Exactly one hour later...

 

The Dread Realm:

The Dread Realm

The capital of Angmar was a terrifying place. Once the heroes had defeated the Orcs guarding the entrance and made their way inside, all was eerily quiet in comparison to the battle raging outside. The halls of Carn Dum were cld and lonesome, though no matter where the heroes ventured within its walls, the feeling that they were being watched never ceased. The realm of Angmar had claimed immeasurable lives over many hundreds of years in its long war with the Dunedain. With each step they took, their burden grew worse.

The fortress was sprawling, but if they strained their senses, they heard cries of pain coming from below. So, deeper into the stronghold they ventured, down many long and steep flights of stairs, the corridors becoming narrower, the stone walls pressing in all around them.

Somewhere within these catacombs, surrounded by the watchful dead, their friend Iarion was struggling in torment. Spurred onward by steel resolve, the heroes began their search…

As you descend into the catacombs beneath Carn Dum, you find yourself overcome with terror. Still, you press onward, knowing that Iarion’s fate—and perhaps the fate of the north—lies in your hands.

Daechanar’s powers of sorcery and necromancy are strongest here, in the capital of the Witch-realm where the Lord of the Nazgul once resided.

A final scream fills the dreadful halls of Carn Dum, and you suspect the worst. As you enter the site of Daechanar’s dark ritual, your fears come to life. Iarion stands before you, cracking his neck and gripping the blade at his side tightly, as though testing his muscles. Only it isn’t him.

Daechanar, in the body of your ally Iarion, laughs wickedly. Despair and frustration are the only thoughts that enter your mind. In the end, you were too late to stop this cruel fate. “Finally! Yes, this body will do nicely,” the wraith wearing the guise of your friend muses. He draws his blade.

The impostor in Iarion’s body collapses in agony, and a piercing shriek echoes through the halls as the sorcerer exits Iarion. “Thank you,” Iarion says with a pained smile before his eyes close for the last time. Before you can mourn your loss, the walls begin to shake and crack. The catacombs are collapsing!

The heroes had but seconds to spare as the catacombs rumbled and collapsed around them. They ran as fast as they could, trying to remember the route they took through Carn Dum’s dark and labyrinthine halls. The walls shook and screeched as a dark power coursed through them. Walking corpses collapsed and decayed, foul spirits dispersed, and the power that Daechanar had summoned began to crumble with his defeat.

The dark clouds above the fortress scattered, and the light of day washed over the battlefield. With the defeat of their master and the sun glaring down at them, the Goblins fled south to their mountain refuge. The remaining Elves and Rangers, rallied by the turning tide, drove the Orcs into a full rout. The battle was won… but the victory was bittersweet. As the heroes emerged from the fortress carrying Iarion’s body, their company was filled with a great sorrow. Though they were able to defeat Daechanar and stop his plans from coming to fruition, they were too late to save their friend. The tragedy of slaying the Ranger with their own hand was something the heroes would never forget, although they had his final words to comfort them.

The return trip was melancholy, but swift. Although winter had come to the north in full force, the deadly, unnatural weather they had become familiar with seemed to subside with the fall of Daechanar, and the evils of Angmar no longer dared to emerge and stand in the heroes’ way. Once they had put the peak of Mount Gram behind them, the Elves decided to part ways, heading back to Rivendell. The heroes thanked them for their aid, and in return the Elves told them they were welcome to return to Imladris once their business with the Dunedain was finished. The rest of the company continued west to Fornost, to lay to rest their fallen comrades.

The Rangers and the heroes buried the dead in a tomb dedicated to those who fell in defense of the North, and gathered together to speak words in memory of their valiant sacrifice. After everyone but the heroes and Amarthiul had left, the young Ranger approached Iarion’s sepulcher, holding the pendant of the hawk-in-flight. “I was not able to save him,” he said as the heroes approached. The death of Amarthiul’s mentor weighed heavily upon his heart.

“None of us were,” one of the heroes replied, mournfully. “But had you not been determined to pursue Thaurdir and rescue your friend, who knows what horrors Daechanar would have unleashed upon the lands your kin protect?”

The Ranger nodded, clutching the pendant tighter. “He had no siblings or heirs. The line of Iarion and Daechanar is ended.” With that, Amarthiul stepped forward to place Iarion’s pendant atop his tomb. Letting go of Iarion’s pendant seemed to be a difficult act. As he lay the pendant on the tomb of his friend, he calmly sang:

A fearless man in darkest night

A faithful brother bright with mirth:

His spirit now is taken flight

Beyond the circles of the earth.

One of the heroes rested a hand on Amarthiul’s shoulder. The Ranger had come a long way and had grown much during their journey. “Iarion was a noble warrior. He would be proud to see how strong you’ve become.” They lingered for some time, grieving their loss, before they finally emerged from the quiet tombs of Fornost. “What will you do now?”

“I pledged my swords to you, remember?” Amarthiul said with a warm smile. “The Dunedain are in your debt. I aim to repay that debt. If you ever need my assistance, do not hesitate to call upon me.” With those words of friendship, they parted ways. The heroes traveled back to Rivendell and spent the rest of winter under the care of the Elves, recovering from their many journeys and battles. Before the snows thawed, however, a messenger came for them bearing a scroll with a peculiar seal.

It seems the heroes were needed once again. Fully rested and ready for adventure, they thanked Elrond for his hospitality and ventured back into the wild, riding as fast as they could to the west… Toward the Grey Havens.

 

Epilogue

Iarchon did not bother to clean the Orc blood from his sword as he stepped over the creature’s body. His nose twinged, the coppery smell of blood mixed with the scent of ash and scorched wood overwhelming the battlefield. The ringing of steel swords and the clamor of battle echoed across the hills, drowning out the sound of the flowing Bruinen. He gripped his sword tighter than ever before, cursing his own kin for the treachery that had led to the downfall of his people’s kingdom. Something—sweat, blood, or both—trickled down his forehead. “Daechanar,” he called to the figure standing across the steep plain that flanked the ford. “This ends, now.”

His older brother simply laughed – no, not his brother. This accursed man who stood before Iarchon could not be his brother, could never truly have been. Not after betraying his family and pledging himself to the Witch-king. Not after setting loose cruel hillmen on their ancestral home, and driving his sword through many of Iarchon’s own kin.

Daechanar drew his blade from its scabbard, and it ebbed with dark power, like a hundred poisonous whispers in Iarchon’s ears. He didn’t recognize the strange sword his brother wielded, dark runes etched upon its handle. The traitor examined it for a moment, admiring its handiwork and keen edge. “You are a fool, Iarchon,” he said calmly, a malicious smile tugging at his lips. “My master offered you a place at his side, as he has given me, but you refused. Now I must kill you, instead.” He took several long strides forward, his tattered cloak billowing in the wind.

Iarchon’s heart wrenched. He was prepared to fight his brother to the death, but had hoped to avoid such a confrontation. Seeing now the murderous intent in Daechanar’s eyes, he knew it was the only option. The lieutenant of Angmar showed no mercy, advancing swiftly and slashing savagely with the edge of his blade. Iarchon raised his sword in a defensive posture, deflecting each of Daechanar’s blows. He could not bring himself to strike his brother.

“How long?” Iarchon screamed. “How long has your mind been seized by the Enemy? How long have you plotted the demise of our kingdom?” He parried Daechanar’s sword to the side, twisting and letting his brother’s momentum carry him forward, past Iarchon. Before Daechanar could regain his footing, the noble brother was upon him, his sword spurred by vengeful wrath. Though he landed several scathing blows, his blade tearing through his adversary’s cloak and leather hauberk, Daechanar’s expression was still twisted into an uncanny grin.

“Tell me little brother, who do you think will win this war?” Daechanar asked over the sound of their swords clashing. “Do you think you stand any chance against the armies of Angmar?” Iarchon gritted his teeth. His brother’s words cut deep. They had already suffered loss after loss, and now the Witch-king’s forces threatened to overwhelm all of the north. Daechanar took the advantage, pressing Iarchon backwards with each of his powerful blows. Against the swiftness and strength of Daechanar’s attacks, the noble brother was barely able to defend himself, the dark b lade slicing into his armor and flesh several times. Blinded by arrogance and seeing his imminent victory, the traitor hadn’t realized the trap until it was too late.

When they were children, they used to spar with wooden swords in their keep’s courtyard. The older brother was the fiercer, nimbler fighter, but the younger brother more cunning. Whenever Daechanar tasted victory, he relished in it and abandoned his defense in order to end the fight. Iarchon put himself on the brink of defeat before his opening appeared—a gap in Daechanar’s defenses. He swiftly ducked under a slice meant for his neck and drove his sword into Daechanar’s chest. The turncoat’s eyes widened and his face twisted into an expression of agony.

“I know not who will win,” Iarchon responded, pushing his blade deeper into his brother’s chest, “only that you will not survive to see the war’s end.” Daechanar gasped for air, his lungs pierced by Iarchon’s blade. His voice croaked, one last gasp before his breath escaped him.

“You’re wrong, little brother,” he smiled. “I will outlive all of you and haunt your descendants long after you are dead. My master has seen to that.”

Then the life fled from Daechanar’s eyes, and he fell into his brother’s arms.

 

Angmar Awakened Cycle Design Notes

“No one lives in this land. Men once dwelt here, ages ago; but none remain now. They became an evil people, as legends tell, for they fell under the shadow of Angmar. But all were destroyed in the war that brought the North Kingdom to its end. But that is now so long ago that the hills have forgotten them, though a shadow still lies on the land.” –Aragorn, The Fellowship of the Ring

The story of “The Lost Realm” and the “Angmar Awakened” cycle explores the rich history of the Dunedian of Arnor and their long war with the Witch-realm of Angmar by introducing a new conflict between those two powers in the time period of The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. During that time, the Witch-king commands the tower of Minas Morgul and the kingdom of Angmar has been abandoned for centuries, so for the purposes of our story we introduce a powerful sorcerer, Daechanar, who is rebuilding the ancient kingdom by drawing all manner of evil creatures into his service.

Daechanar is just one of five key figures that we created for this cycle, and we hope that fans of The Lord of the Rings will appreciate our efforts to develop characters and a story that feel at home in Middle-earth. Daechanar in particular was an exciting character to explore: a traitorous Dunadan who became a powerful sorcerer under the tutelage of the Witch-king himself. His back story was inspired by the history of Rhudaur as described in the appendices of The Return of the King. From The North-kingdom and the Dunedain we learn that after the kingdom of Arnor was divided, the people of Rhudaur became allied with Angmar. So, for our story, we suggest that some of the Dunedain who lived in Rhudaur at that time became servants of the Witch-king. Daechanar would have been chief among them, and he learned to command the evil spirits of Angmar from his Nazgul master. His Wraith lieutenant, Thaurdir, would have been one of those evil spirits.

As for the Dunedain of Arnor, not many details are provided about their day-to-day life and culture in The Lord of the Rings, so we did our best to draw inspiration from the information that is available. We do know that the Rangers are a wandering people who keep a constant watch over the lands within the bounds of their ancient kingdom. For the purposes of our story, we suggest that the Dunedain may have used the ruins of Fornost as meeting grounds, since we know from The Return of the King that they visited those ruins from time to time.

To help represent the bravery and nobility of the Rangers of the North, we introduce two Dunedain characters: Iarion, and his pupil, Amarthiul. We hope that their story of kinship is one that the players enjoy. For the character of Iarion, we assume that other Dunedain, besides the heir of Valandil, are able to trace their ancestry to noble families from the three kingdoms of Arnor. It is Iarion’s lineage, as a descendant of Iarchon, that ties him to the villain Daechanar. That bond is what drives our story forward. For the character of Amarthiul, we explore the question of how the Dunedain grow to manhood and attain their renowned skills. Since we know that the Rangers are primarily a houseless people, we suggest that young Dunedain live in the wild with a mentor, most likely their father, and learn from following him. The bond that would result from that close friendship would undoubtably be strong, as we see in Amarthiul’s determination to rescue Iarion.

Overall, we hope to have told a compelling tale that conceivably could have rested within Tolkien’s historical framework for Middle-earth. We hope players enjoyed our attempts to stay within Tolkien’s vision, and we hope, above all, that the players had great fun in overcoming the challenges presented in the “Angmar Awakened” cycle.

Edited by Ecthelion III

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Treachery of Rhudaur:

The Treachery of Rhudaur

Having escaped imprisonment in the Goblin dungeons of Mount Gram and an icy death in the rugged Coldfells at the hands of hungry Trolls, the heroes had finally reached the woods of Rhudaur. The company made good time for several days, fair weather and plentiful food motivating them to travel at a brisk pace. Yet, no matter how many leagues they crossed, the dark presence and fear that had been tugging at the back of their minds ever since escaping Mount Gram never ceased to haunt them. When they slept, they were plagued by dreadful nightmares, and every waking moment was filled with the sensation of being pursued.

As they traveled, evidence of the kingdom’s collapse peppered the woods. They crossed through ancient ruins and made their way around towers of stone and rubble, long forgotten and ravaged by years of disrepair. “This area has been largely uninhabited for centuries,” Amarthiul explained to them. “Once Rhudaur was annexed by the Witch-king, those loyal to him were called to fight in his long war with Arthedain. The kingdom of Rhudaur was abolished and left to ruin.”

“They should have you teaching young pupils,” one of the companions said with a chuckle, and Amarthiul himself gave a smirk.

“Perhaps, but this is the path I chose for myself,” Amarthiul disclosed. His expression grew solemn. “When I was younger, I followed Iarion and several other Rangers on a hunting expedition. I was eager to prove myself to the others, that I could be one of them. But I was too brash and foolish, and the orcs captured me. Iarion risked his life to save me. His determination, his willingness to sacrifice everything, inspired me to become more than a scholar or healer. I swore that I would repay my life debt with steel and blood. I wanted to become a warrior and a leader like him, to save others like he saved me.” The Ranger gave a sigh and rubbed his forehead, worried. “Now he is the one held captive, tortured or worse, and I am powerless to help.”

Amarthiul appeared inconsolable. It had been tough watching the young Ranger’s determination go unrewarded for so long. “I understand now why you are so driven to find him,” one of the heroes said. “Do not lose hope. We are not defeated yet.”

Just then, the young Ranger’s gaze was drawn behind the heroes, deeper into the woods, and his eyes widened. “Is that what I think it is?” he muttered, and ran ahead. They hadn’t seen Amarthiul run that swiftly since departing from Fornost. It didn’t take long to catch up to the Ranger—the building he had seen lay fifty meters away, obscured by trees and brush. The pinewood forest opened into a small clearing, concealed on all sides by dense overgrowth. At the other end of the clearing, they saw a stone gatehouse, decrepit from years of disrepair, forgotten by time, but standing strong nevertheless. Behind the gatehouse stood the ruins of an ancient keep tucked into the woods. They had seen several such ruins throughout their journey, but what caught their eyes was the symbol painted upon the wooden door of the gate. It was the symbol of the regal hawk-in-flight. Amarthiul pulled Iarion’s pendant from underneath his tunic, where he wore it on a thin chain. “This symbol… It’s the same!” he exclaimed, holding the pendant up next to the symbol on the door.

“You said Iarion wore this pendant proudly as a symbol of his lineage,” one of the heroes said, and the company exchanged anxious glances. “This is a fortuitous discovery. We have not the slightest clue why Thaurdir—and this Daechanar who commands him—took Iarion captive at Fornost. If Amarthiul is right and the Wraith was after Iarion in particular, these ruins might hold the answer to this mystery.”

There was a murmur of agreement, and Amarthiul nodded. “Then what are we waiting for?” he declared, an eager light in his eyes. But as soon as they opened the door to the gatehouse, a furious gale, chill as ice, knocked them to the ground. The wind shrieked. There was a foulness in the air all around them—in the ruins, and in the woods behind them. Something evil haunted Iarion’s ancestral home, and worse, the malevolence that had followed them from Mount Gram was close behind…

You have decided to explore the ruins of this ancient keep, but Thaurdir pursues you, and time is of the essence.

When you touch a dark blade, you can feel a cursed power coursing through it. In Tengwar, the name “Daechanar” is inscribed upon its handle.

You look through the keep’s many torn and ancient records, hoping to find information to help you understand the Enemy’s plan. You find a tattered, barely legible scroll dated over 1000 years ago, summoning those loyal to the Witch-king of Angmar for an assault on Rivendell.

You search through the ashes of the keep’s destroyed rooms. If you are diligent, you may be able to find a clue as to Iarion’s ancestry. You find a pendant, similar to the one you’ve seen Iarion wearing. The inscription on the back says: “Iarchon, may this pendant guide you away from the shadow that dwells within us all. –Your loving father”

As you study the clues that you’ve found, you feel a chill wind flow through the keep. “You will not leave this place alive,” a sinister voice echoes throughout the halls. “My master Daechanar wills it so.”

“Thaurdir!” Amarthiul exclaims, unsheathing his blades.

The wraith you fought in Fornost has followed you since your flight from Mount Gram. Your only hope is to escape with the clues you’ve found.

The company’s investigation of the ruins was fruitful, but dangerous. Iarion’s ancestral keep was haunted by the wights of Dunedain who had sided with Angmar, and the spirits of those they had slain in their wicked pact. It seemed that few Dunedain had managed to escape from this place alive, just as the heroes were barely able to escape with their lives.

Once they had reached a reasonable distance, they began to piece together what they had found inside the keep as they walked at a brisk pace. Most of the ancient documents they found were too tattered and faded to read, but some were still legible. Among them was a family tree, inscribed inside a leather tome bearing the hawk crest they had become familiar with—the crest of Iarion’s family.

“Look!” the hero holding the tome shouted, pointing to the tree. “I recognize this name: Daechanar. That is the same name as the one who commands Thaurdir—the “lord of Angmar” mentioned in the Goblin dungeons!”

One of the companions shook her head, pondering what they had learned. “It cannot be the same person. It’s been over a century. The Dunedain are long-lived, but they are not immortal. The Daechanar in this family tree should be long dead by now…” They pondered that thought for some time, but they were too weary from their hardships to come to any conclusions. While they were starting to understand the events that had unfolded in Arnor many hundreds of years ago, there were too many pieces of the puzzle still missing.

“We should continue to Rivendell,” one of the heroes declared at last. “Even Thaurdir cannot pursue us there, and we can consult Elrond about these matters. If there is anyone who will understand what we are dealing with, it is he.” There was a murmur of agreement, and the company continued traveling with great haste. The ghostly presence of Thaurdir hung over them still, an ominous stormcloud threatening to overtake them if they dwelled any longer…

 

The Battle of Carn Dum:

The Battle of Carn Dum

The leaves had fallen and winter’s cold bite had crept ever southward by the time the heroes’ company reached Rivendell. They were greeted by Elven guards who recognized the heroes and welcomed them, escorting the company into The Last Homely House and offering them food and drink, which they accepted heartily. When they asked to see Elrond, they were granted a swift audience and brought into Elrond’s Hall.

The Elf-lord entered soon after, bidding the heroes to sit and tell their tale. The company spoke at length with Elrond about their long journey—their discovery at Amon Forn, the attack on Fornost, their imprisonment in Mount Gram, and the information they found in the ruins of Rhudaur.

When they mentioned the name Daechanar and showed Elrond the tome they had found in the home of Iarion’s ancestors, his eyes narrowed with recognition and his jaw clenched. “That is a name I have not heard spoken in over a thousand years,” he said. “The Daechanar you speak of was once a Dunadan of Rhudaur. It is he who paved the way for the kingdom’s collapse, defecting to the side of Angmar and joining the Witch0king as one of his trusted lieutenants. His brother Iarchon and his sons were among the few Dunedain who managed to escape, fleeing here to Imladris to dwell for a time.”

Elrond knew of what he spoke by memory. He had lived through these events, and not read of them in a book. “Not long after, the forces of Angmar lay siege to Rivendell. We were beset by our enemies for some time, but after many seasons we broke the siege. Iarchon was among those who fought to defend Imladris. I watched as he met his traitorous brother on the fields of battle. Daechanar was slain and the battle was won, but Iarchon was disturbed by his brother’s last words and came to me seeking counsel. I still remember those words, to this day: ‘I will outlive all of you and haunt your descendants long after you are dead. My master has seen to that.’ I feared that the lord of the Nazgul had taught some manner of foul sorcery to his lieutenant, that which knits dead flesh and traps spirits long-deceased within this realm.”

Amarthiul’s eyes went wide with fear and realization, and he rose to his feet. “Do you mean to tell us that the Daechanar who commands the dead we have encountered is this same Daechanar, who died so long ago?”

“Just so,” Elrond replied, and bid the young Ranger to sit once more. “Only I believe he was never truly defeated—his body was broken, but his spirit remained. ‘I will haunt your descendants long after you are dead.’ You say that Iarion was captured alive at Fornost, and I do not believe this to be coincidence.” He paused for a long moment, considering what he had heard. “Iarion is of Daechanar’s blood. I believe be means to possess Iarion, to use as his new body. Then, his return to this world will be complete. With the Witch-king in Minas Morgul, Daechanar would rule over the dark land of Angmar—you’ve already seen orcs at his command and the Goblins of Mount Gram in his allegiance. The safety of the north would be shattered.” It seemed difficult to believe, but the wisdom of Elrond did not lie, and the heroes did not doubt for a moment the truth behind his words. Finally, everything they had experienced made sense.

“Iarion has been captive for weeks,” one of the heroes said mournfully, hoping all was not lost. “Are we too late to stop Daechanar’s plan from coming to fruition?”

Amarthiul clenched the pendant of the hawk-in-flight which hung from his neck, and spoke passionately. “We must head north immediately!”

Elrond spoke calmly despite the dire situation, raising his palm to the Ranger. “Your bravery is admirable, young Ranger, but have patience. A powerful ritual such as this is not something easily cobbled together. It is no coincidence that Thaurdir and his forces attacked when they did. In several weeks, midwinter will be upon us. It is the coldest and darkest day of the year’s cycle, the last day before life begins to spring anew. On midwinter’s night, Daechanar will find his passage into Iarion’s body easiest. If I am correct, he is biding his time and waiting for the right moment. That means we have time to gather our strength, and for you to rest. You must be weary from your long journey.” The Elf-lord then called several Elves into the hall, and tasked them with traveling south and west to find as many Rangers as they could and summon them to Imladris. “I do not have a host of Elves to send into battle, but those I can spare will accompany you north, to the fortress of Carn Dum.”

The heroes looked at one another and nodded, confirming their intentions and rising to their feet. One of them gave Elrond a short bow and addressed him politely. “Daechanar must be stopped. We shall venture north as well, and see this mission to its end.”

Amarthiul turned to the heroes, his expression full of stern determination. “My friends, time and time again you have put your life on the line for my kin. Please, allow me to join you. Wherever your travels lead you, my swords shall be yours if you give me leave to assist.”

“You have earned your place among us,” one of the heroes said, clasping Amarthiul’s forearm. “We are grateful to have you fighting by our side.”

For over a fortnight the company rested well in Rivendell, recovering from their wounds and exhaustion. Each day more Rangers responded to Elrond’s call, arriving in Imladris for their brethren who fell in Fornost. They waited as long as they could to prepare for the assault, but they were soon out of time and could tarry no longer if they wished to reach Carn Dum before the winter solstice. With a small but determined band of Elves and Rangers at their side, their only hope was to fight their way into the fortress so they could stop Daechanar’s ritual…

Your company has made its way swiftly north, and finally the fortress of Carn Dum looms before you. Unsure if you have arrived in time, you can only hope beyond hope that Iarion is still alive.

Thaurdir has mustered the defense of Carn Dum. There is no turning back now. “For Iarion!” the Rangers begin to shout, unsheathing their swords.

A swirling dark cloud starts to gather above you, and a cold wind tenses your muscles. “I have a bad feeling about this…” you hear Amarthiul mutter. It seems Daechanar’s ritual has begun. Sensing you have little time to spare, your company rushes to the gates of Carn Dum.

As they slew Thaurdir, his remains crumbled and decayed into ash before their very eyes, and his armor and weapon clattered to the ground harmlessly. But before they could rejoice in their victory, the howling of wolves sounded in the air, as if all around them.

“Goblins!” One of the Rangers in the rear ranks shouted, “Goblins from Mount Gram!” The company found themselves assaulted from the south by Goblins while the Orcs of Carn Dum rallied their defenses once more. They had but a moment to slip into the fortress before they were surrounded on all sides. One of the Elves that had accompanied them from Rivendell turned to the heroes with a grim expression and shouted over the clamour of battle, “You must make your way into the fortress and stop Daechanar’s ritual!”

“What about you?” one of the heroes replied, worried. “You cannot hold off these Goblins forever!”

“Then do not take forever! Now go!” he beseeched the heroes again before joining the fray. The heroes had no choice but to leave the rest of their party to fend off the Goblins, slipping through the gates of Carn Dum. They slew the few Orcs that remained in their way, and infiltrated the enemy’s stronghold to confront Daechanar and rescue their friend…

 

Amarthiul backstory:

Amarthiul

Iarion placed his hand on the hilt of his sword as he often did when he spoke sternly to his pupil. “You are not coming with us on this mission. I have made myself clear on this matter numerous times.” His order was firm, his gaze unwavering. Years ago, when Amarthiul’s father fell in battle, it was Iarion who had taken the body in and become his mentor, teaching him the ways of the Dunedain. The boy was smart, but reckless.

“I am a better fighter than any of the others my age, and the swiftest. I have passed every test the elders have given me. I am ready, I swear to you!” Though Amarthiul was only ten-and-four, he spoke the truth. Among his peers, he had proved himself to be of superior intelligence and skill at arms. The boy was quick to learn and already knew much of their people’s lore, but he was more interested in hunting Orcs and other agents of the Enemy.

“You believe that winning a hundred sparring matches and reading of the wars of our ancestors prepares you for anything, but you have never hunted an enemy such as this. Orcs are tough-skinned, mighty, and truly frightening. Their hate is overwhelming; it drowns their thoughts with rage and makes them more dangerous than you can imagine.

Amarthiul put on a brave face and began to speak, but his mentor shook his head and cut him off. “My word is final. You are to stay here and continue your training.” With that, Iarion and the other Rangers left Fornost with haste. Their mission was urgent. Scouts had reported Orcs venturing along the hills of Evendim. Whether they were agents of a greater plot or searching for victims along the shores of Lake Nenuial, the Rangers would deal with them all the same.

Amarthiul refused to be left behind so easily. He gathered several days’ worth of rations and armed himself with two blades from Fornost’s armoury. He followed the other Rangers west, close enough that he could track their prints, but too far for them to tell they were being shadowed. The young Dunadan took care to make sure he wasn’t spotted; he knew if he revealed himself close to the river Brandywine, the Rangers would have no choice but to let him tag along.

The Rangers’ pace was much faster than Amarthiul had anticipated, crossing many leagues each day. Though he struggled to keep up, he was determined to prove he was capable of the feats of his brethren, and his resolve spurred him onward. He fancied that when he finally revealed himself to the other Rangers, they would be proud of him, impressed that he was able to keep pace.

Unfortunately for Amarthiul, he hadn’t anticipated the Orcs traveling east along the Brandywine. Seeing an easy target, they came upon Amarthiul under the cover of night, when they were strongest and their foe was weary. When the first Orc screamed a battle-cry in its guttural tongue, Amarthiul froze and his heart pounded in his chest. The Orcs charged at him from all directions. Valiantly he drew his blades and tried to defend himself, but he was overcome with terror. His years of training fled from his mind, replaced by panic. Within seconds, he was overmatched.

The Orcs weren’t looking to kill the young one. Instead, they knocked him to the ground and disarmed him. One Orc grappled him, and he was blindfolded and bound tightly with thick rope.

“Har! What have we got here lads?” asked an Orc with a laugh, kicking the bound Dunadan cruelly.

“Looks like fresh meat,” answered another. “Let’s eat it!”

“Don’t be too quick! This one’s a young ‘in. I bet there’s more of his kind nearby. Let’s catch ‘em first. Then we’ll kill the whole lot.”

Amarthiul cursed himself for his foolishness. Because of him, the other Rangers would be waylaid by the band of Orcs they sought to hunt.

“No! I’m the only one—” he began to say, but one of the Orcs gagged him with a sash of heavy wool and his voice came out muffled.

They tied him upside-down from the branch of a high tree and hid, knowing that any other Rangers nearby would come to investigate the sounds of the scuffle. Before long, Amarthiul heard the sounds of leaves rustling around him, and suddenly the sounds of battle erupted like a storm. Blindfolded and unable to see, he could only listen helplessly as he heard swords whistle, bowstrings twang, the clash of steel on steel. And then, it was quiet.

Amarthiul was cut loose and dropped to the ground, his bounds cut one at a time, though he was held from behind firmly by his wrists with a gloved hand. When his blindfold was removed, it was Iarion who stared at him wordlessly. All around the boy, the Orcs lay slain at their feet. Many of the Rangers were wounded, their armor nicked or cut loose, bleeding wounds being tended with herbal paste and bandages.

Iarion said nothing. It was the silence that stung the most. He knew he had failed them, he had put them in danger. “I… I…” he began, his heart leaping into his throat as words failed him. “…I’m sorry,” was all he could say before he began to sob.

“It’s all right, young one,” his mentor said, taking the boy in his arms and resting a hand on his head. “One day, you’ll return the favor.”

Edited by Ecthelion III

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Voyage Across Belegaer:

The road west to the Grey Havens was as peaceful and uneventful as the company of adventurers could have hoped. The horrors they faced in the dread realm were far behind them, and with spring blooming, they were free to enjoy their travels for the first time in what seemed like ages. It wasn’t long before they passed the Tower Hills, and arrived at the gates of the Havens.

 

They were greeted warmly by Cirdan the Shipwright, the Master of the Grey Havens, leading a group of Elves. “Thank you for all responding to my letter so quickly. Allow me to welcome you to Mithlond, the last port of the Elves east of the great sea of Belegaer,” he said to the heroes with a smile. The wisdom of ages past shone in Cirdan’s eyes. “Follow me, and I shall bring you to our meeting chambers. There, you shall discover the reason why you have traveled many leagues from Rivendell.”

 

Eager to assist in whatever manner they could, the company followed the Elves through the gates and were escorted to a tall white tower overlooking the Gulf of Lune. Elegant Elven ships were docked in the harbors, tall and white with the star of Earendil shining upon their sails. They were as much works of art as they were sailing vessels, beautiful examples of the exceptional craftsmanship of the Elves. Strangely, there were also two Gondorian vessels docked in the port, the White Tree of Gondor emblazoned upon their sails.

 

The tower’s circular meeting chamber was beautifully decorated. Open arched windows facing the west allowed for a steady breeze of sea-wind that kept the company cool as they waited. Soon after their arrival, a wiry middle-aged man entered the room. He had long black hair, a thinning beard, and high cheekbones. “This is Lord Calphon of Dol Amroth,” Cirdan introduced the man, “and he has come a long way by sea to seek our assistance.” Lord Calphon stood and smiled, shaking their hands one by one. His eyes were equal parts relief and worry.

 

“It would be easier if I started at the beginning,” Calphon explained as he sat down at the table, worriedly fidgeting with his clasped hands. Cirdan made a gesture to the nobleman as if to give him the floor, and Calphon told his tale. “It started but a few months ago; I had a peculiar dream, the most vivid dream I’ve ever had. In this dream, I saw a beautiful island in the wide ocean, and I longed with all my heart to go there. I saw ruins of ancient Numenor that sprawled across the island, reaching even deeper below the waves. The moment I awoke, I knew that it was not a simple dream. But that was not the only dream I had.

 

“I continued to dream of the island and its secrets for months. To this very day, I have visions of its temples and ruins. I did not believe the island could exist, because we in Gondor are taught that Numenor sank beneath the ocean in its entirety. I’d heard of the wisdom and foresight of the Elf-lord Cirdan, and thought that if any should know of the great ocean of Belegaer, it would be the Elves who sail its seas. So I took my ship, the Dawn Star, and the fastest ship from the fleet of Dol Amroth, the Silver Wing, and ventured here in the hope Cirdan could lend his wisdom.” He nodded to Cirdan, who turned to address the heroes.

 

“I have been assisting Calphon in interpreting his dreams, and have come to the conclusion that the island in this visions is but a sunken peak of Numenor. That land indeed drowned beneath the waves when the Valar unleashed their wrath upon the Numenoreans. But I believe its highest peaks may have survived its Downfall. It cannot be coincidence that Calphon, one of Numenorean blood, dreams of his ancient homeland.”

 

The heroes listened to Calphon’s story and the wisdom of Cirdan with great interest. Once Cirdan had finished speaking, one of the heroes stood and politely asked, “Even knowing of the island’s origin, finding it in the open ocean would be quite an undertaking. Of what assistance can we be on this venture?”

 

Cirdan walked to the chamber’s open windows and looked out to the Gulf of Lune and the harbor of Mithlond. “This will be a long journey, and while I cannot see what dangers Calphon should face, I sense that great peril follows in his wake. I have not the power to command you, but should you desire to assist, I would ask that you sail with him and help him reach the island from his visions. I sense the utmost importance in this quest.”

 

The heroes looked among themselves for a time, but there was no argument or debate. The urgency in Cirdan’s voice and his fabled foresight were all the heroes needed. They nodded to one another in agreement. “We shall accompany Lord Calphon on his voyage,” one of the heroes stepped forward and spoke. “But, we have not a vessel of our own.”

 

Cirdan smiled and his eyes shone bright, as though he knew the heroes would accept. He bid the heroes follow him, and exited the chambers with eager steps, the company following close behind. They accompanied the Shipwright down many flights and through white archways, until they came at last to the docks of the Havens. Sunlight danced on the water’s surface, and seagulls sang over the Lune. “Behold!” said Cirdan, motioning to the nearest dock.

 

A beautiful Elven ship lay anchored in port. It was white, with folded wings on its sides, and on its prow was carved a majestic swan. “I envisioned this vessel long before Calphon reached out to us,” the Elf-lord said, placing his hand upon the side of the ship with care. “It was built for a voyage of paramount importance, but has never yet left the Gulf of Lune. I believe this is the journey for which it was built. From here on, this ship shall be known as Oloroitare, the ‘Dream-chaser.’ I give this ship and its crew to you, the champions of Gandalf and Elrond, to keep you safe in your journey. There is another vessel docked in this port, the Narelenya, which you may also find useful, should you need it. These ships, and those of Lord Calphon, shall be your fleet.”

 

The Dream-chaser’s strength and beauty were second to none. The heroes thanked Cirdan with all their hearts, humbled by the greatness of the Shipwright’s gifts. “We shall not fail in our quest,” spoke one of the heroes, bowing low. “Nor shall we fail to keep safe the gifts of the Havens.”

 

“I do not doubt it,” Cirdan replied, smiling. And with that, preparations were made for their long voyage…

 

The Dream-chaser and her fleet depart from the Grey Havens, in search of the island from Calphon's dreams. Only a week out from the coast, the black sails of Corsair ships can be seen in pursuit!

 

Calphon squints at dark storm clouds on the horizon. "In my dream, the skies were dark and full of wrath... Perhaps the island lies within that squall?" You hesitate. Guiding your ship into a deadly storm is foolish, at best... But what if he’s right?

 

After days of aimless travel at sea, a dark mist settles along the ocean's surface, obscuring your visibility and frightening your ships’ crew. "Wait," Calphon says, "this happened in my dream, too... I think if we find a way through this mist, we shall be one step closer to the island."

 

Calphon bursts into one of the heroes’ quarters in the middle of the night, sweating profusely and breathing heavily. “I saw it again!” he cries. “It was the same island as before, only the sun was rising behind it, bathing the sky in orange. It must be to the east!” You can change course to follow Calphon’s vision, but you risk being discovered by the Corsairs chasing you...

 

Calphon recognizes a bright star in the night sky, pointing to it. "There! That star! I remember that star from my vision. I believe we must follow that star if we are to reach the island." Calphon’s guidance has led you this far. But none of your maps or almanacs make any mention of this bright star...

 

Calphon insists you are very close to finding the island, but Corsairs still shadow your fleet. You must either fight them or outpace them before you can reach the island and weigh anchor.

 

“I don’t see any more of them,” one of the heroes shouted, looking out over the great sea for any sign of black sails. The Corsairs had pursued them across many leagues of ocean. To see the horizon with no signs of the enemy was a great relief to the heroes, and to the crew.

 

“I don’t understand,” Calphon said quietly. “Gondor is a hated enemy of the Corsairs of Umbar, ‘tis true. But why would these Corsairs pursue us for so long, and so far?”

 

“I’m more concerned with the fact that they were so far north to begin with,” the hero chimed in. “We were only several days out from the Havens when we first spotted them. It can’t be a coincidence,” she concluded. “They must have followed your ships from Dol Amroth.”

 

Calphon’s eyes widened, and he was stricken with concern. “What? But, I hadn’t seen any signs of them in my voyage north…” He gripped the ropes of the ship tightly, his knuckles turning white. “…It pains me greatly to think that my actions may have put the Elves of the Havens in danger. I hope that Cirdan will forgive me.”

 

The hero comforted Calphon with a smile. “Don’t worry. All this confirms is that our journey is not in vain. The Corsairs must have pursued us this far for a reason. Our aim should be to discover that reason. Let us find the island from your dream, and see for ourselves what secrets it holds.”

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Like Psychorocka said, the game suggests the heroes won each scenario in the history of Midlle-Earth. If we had failed Shadows of Mirkwood, Gollum would have been somewhere else and couldn't help Frodo and Sam entering Mordor. If we had failed Dwarroldelf... nothing should have happened. The odd one. If we failed Against the Shadow, Cair Andros would have been taken, Osgiliath still in possession of the enemy and Faramir would be either captain of Mordor or emprisoned by refusal to be. If we had failed The Ring-Maker, Saruman would have not gained his Ring of Power, created the Uruk-Hai and allied an united Dunland. If we had failed Angmar Awakened, Daechanar would have conquered the North, including the Shire and possibly found the Ring and become ultrapoweful. If we had failed The Dream-Chaser... We will see.

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Updated with the Angmar Awakened Cycle complete including backstories for Amarthiul and Rossiel and Design Notes. Thanks so much to Ecthelion III for helping out big time!!! I will try and get the narrative for The Dreamchaser deluxe box up when I have time!

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THE GREY HAVENS AND DREAMCHASER CYCLE

 

Voyage Across Belegaer

The road west to the Grey Havens was as peaceful and uneventful as the company of adventurers could have hoped. The horrers they faced in the dread realm were far behind them, and with spring blooming, they were free to enjoy their travels for the first time in what seemed like ages. It wasn't long before they passed the Tower Hills, and arrived at the gates of the Havens.

They were greeted warmly by Cirdan the Shipwright, the Master of The Grey Havens, leading a group of Elves, "Thank you for all responding to my letter so quickly. Allow me to welcome you to Mithlond, the last port of the Elves east of the great sea of Belegaer," he said to the heroes with a smile. The wisdom of ages past shone in Cirdan's eyes. "Follow me, and I shall bring you to our meeting chambers. There, you shall discover the reason why you have traveled many leagues from Rivendell."

Eage to assist in whatever manner they could, the company followed the Elves through the gates and were escorted to a tall white tower overlooking the Gulf of Lune. Elegant Elven ships were docked in the harbors, tall and white with the star of Earendil shining upon their sails. They were as much works of art as they were sailing vessels, beautiful examples of the exceptional craftsmanship of the Elves. Strangely there were also two Gondorian vessels docked in the port, the White Tree of Gondor emblazoned upon their sails.

The tower's circular meeting chamber was beautifully decorated. Open arched windows facing the west allowed for a steady breeze of sea-wind that kept the company cool as they waited. Soon after their arrival, a wiry middle-aged man entered the room. He had long black hair, a thinning beard and a high cheekbones. "This is Lord Calphon of Dol Amroth," Cirdan introduced the man, "and he has come a long way by sea to seek our assistance. "Lord Calphon stood and smiled, shaking their hands one by one. His eyes were equal parts relief and worry.

ONGOING PROJECT

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