Adventures in Arda

2.4 The Dunlending Camp

The Dunlending Camp

Sunday 5 Hithui(Foggy) – (First Winter) T.A. 2758

The party pause to plan their attack and more importantly, an escape route North to avoid the main portion of the camp. When they reach the road they can move quickly back South towards the fortress. When they finish their plan, they skirt to the North of the low west bluffs. Cúthalion spots a Dunlending scout moving south around the edge of the bluffs. The party ignore the scout and drop down towards the caravan. They all play their parts to act as a returning scouting party with a new captive, and the men in the caravan pay no attention to them and focus on keeping warm. They join on behind a cart full of fodder at the end of the caravan. As they approach the campfires, a thick fog enshrouds the caravan as it slows down before entering the camp. The fog lessens as they get nearer to the fires. As they enter the camp, they can see a cart from an earlier portion of the caravan that tipped over. A few men work to haul the goods away from the spill as a burly guard yells and gestures at them.
When the party approach the guard, he sees the Elf and asks in a thick Dunael accent

Who is this?

Aramis steps forward to respond

It is a funny story actually…

Cúthalion looks at the man with contempt. As an elf, he is of course better than these hill folk. He does not open his mouth or do anything however.

Well I don’t have time to hear it. It is the end of my shift. Take him over to the stockade there and make them deal with it

The party push past and follow the fodder cart that they fell in behind. The cart proceeds to a large pile of hay with a few men pulling hay of off carts that reached the pile before them. When they arrive, the man leading the cart unhooks the cow that he was using to haul the cart. He takes it into the makeshift corral just next to the pile. When the men with pitch forks start to unload, the party make their way around the cart and proceed away from the corral. Aramis says to his companions, but loud enough for the Dunlendings to hear.

We need to take this one to the chief. He has always wanted to see an elf

When they get to the other side of the cart and make their way among smaller personal tents, a short young Dunlending steps in front and points his axe at Aramis. He asks

Where are you going.

Aramis responds in dunael

We are going to see the chief.

Take that prisoner to the stockades first. They are on the other side of the corral over there.

Our first duty is to the clan. If you want to go tell the chief why this prisoner was not brought immediately before him be my guest.

Aramis then pushes past and continues on towards the small tents. When the man goes past them back towards the clearing where the cart tipped, the party take a quick look around and find nothing. They make a quick plan as Cúthalion frees himself of his bonds and takes his longbow and rapier back. Aramis gives Cúthalion his corsair hat and the two of them decide to search the supply tents to find some oil to help light fires. Dagorhir and Gilfalassë decide to circle around the nearby tents and go to the back side of the fodder pile and start to free animals from the corral.

The Pirate and the Priest

Aramis takes off his heavy fur and leaves it in a pile to the side of the front of a tent. In his cloak he looks much more the scraggly corsair captive that had rowed ashore in Pelargir only months before. He takes Cúthalion, dressed in the large corsair hat, and approaches a large tent next to some cooking fires on the North side of the large entry clearing. They head through a gap in the tents and approach a small clearing with two large cooking fires, and numerous spits and smoking racks. Aramis directs himself towards the largest of the tents, but before he reaches the entrance he is stopped. A large gruff Dunlending in a thick greasy hide apron approaches the two and thrusts his fire poker out before Aramis and looks at the odd pair. Before the man can speak, Aramis keeps him on his toes by speaking with authority in the man’s native Dunael.

I am captain bloodfang’s quartermaster, his priest needs some oil for some rites.

he pauses to gauge a reaction before continuing

Medium sized barrel if you can spare it.

The man looks them both up and down and noticing the rapiers and hat says

Are you one of them pirate folk?

Sure am.

So how is it you speak Dunael?

I have been around here before.

The man does not answer and continues to look suspiciously. But before he can challenge the response, Aramis speaks up again.

I am not sure what good coin will do you in this winter but i can pay you for this imposition.

Before he finishes, he reaches into his pockets and produces four gold hundred piece coins, one between each finger. The cook gives him another suspicious eye but takes the gold and bites a piece before acknowledging the agreement by pointing to the largest tent directly behind him.

Wulf will help you with the barrel.

As the two move to step past the cook, he raises a thick hairy arm and puts his meaty hand in the chest of the half elf.

Just him.

He says as he nods towards Aramis. Cúthalion gives the man a cold look but resists the urge to draw his weapon and says nothing. His fingers twitch with the desire to teach the man a lesson for his insolence.

In the smoky tent, Aramis finds the man Wulf and asks for his assistance in finding the barrel of oil. He grabs the medium barrel and carries it out the tent and gives a nod to Cúthalion to get him to turn away from the cook and head back towards the clearing to meet the others. They pass the line of tents bordering the cooking clearing and return to the smaller private tents where they split up. Aramis leaves Cúthalion in the open with the barrel as he returns to grab his furs a few tents down.
Just then, a skinny man comes running from around the corner of the tents and runs straight towards Cúthalion hollering something that he cannot understand. Before Cúthalion
is forced to react, the man runs straight past him into the large clearing and approaches the guard who first approached them when they entered the camp. Cúthalion cannot hear what they are saying but the tone of the skinny man seems to be frenetic. After Aramis puts his furs on, the man runs back towards Cúthalion and Aramis hears him yell

Helm is here! The Hammerhand is attacking

He slows down to approach the two in the clearing and shouts

Hey you two pirates, drop what you are doing. Helm is attacking the South side of camp.

Aramis responds

Last I checked I do not take orders from you, but I will inform my captain and brethren

He then turns away towards the private tents and shouts in common

Pirates, to me!

Two more dunlendings move through the clearing and approach Aramis urging,

Let’s go pirate!

Aramis turns away from them saying,

Where is that lazy bastard Haga

he enters the nearest tent and grabs the half elf and pulls him in. As their eyes adjust to the darkness, they see that the tent is empty. One of the men waits outside the tent and Cúthalion hears him set his axe on the ground and get ready to enter the tent. Cúthalion draws his rapier in preparation. Aramis does not hear the man outside but sees the draw and follows suit, drawing his dagger. The man pushes his way into the tent and stands at the entrance, blinking to adjust to the light. Aramis lunges at the man and stabs him in the neck. The man grasps at his throat, stunned by the attack. Aramis grabs him and finishes the job with the other dagger before the man can react. Cúthalion then sneaks out the back of the tent and hides alongside the large pile of fodder. Cúthalion says a quick prayer in Quenya and at his touch, the fodder starts to light up and he turns to make his way safely away from the flames.

Meanwhile, Dagorhir and Gilfalassë leave the other two to get the oil and they skirt behind the tents towards the darkness and the large fodder pile. They skirt around the pile and reach a makeshift corral fence. They begin untying some of the ropes, hidden under the darkness of the fodder pile. When their eyes begin to adjust, the two can see horses, cows, goats, and sheep all crowded in together. On the distant South side of the corral, they can start to make out a stockade with dark shapes, large and small, huddled against the cold.
After a few minutes of untying knots, the two can hear unintelligible shouts towards the clearing where they planned to meet with Aramis and Cúthalion. They decide to move away from the noise and skirt around the back side of the corral to the East. The two men reach the stockade and peer into the darkness to search for guards and find none. They begin to cut some of the bonds of the imprisoned riders and has them to start freeing the others as well. Among the riders, they see women children and old men as well. They tell the riders that some of their horses may be yet in the corral and they should mount up and get ready to leave. Dagorhir jumps over the adjacent corral fence while Gilfalassë moves quickly towards two empty carts to his West so he can hide and get a feel for the forces surrounding the armorer’s and weapons tents.
Dagorhir pushes further into the center of the corral and nears a stable hand tending a horse who spots the large knight and starts shouting. Dagorhir hears him and charges and plunges his sword deep in the mans shoulder and pulls it back out to hit on a back swing as well. The man steps back and tries to draw a knife while he is turning and running away. When he turns his back to run however, Dagorhir strikes him across the back and drops him in the field. As he reaches to take the weapon of his fallen foe, Dagorhir notices a fire starting to burn in the fodder pile to his North.
Gilfalassë sees a lapse in vigilance and decides to quickly make his way across the thirty ft open space to get alongside the nearest tent. As he comes around the cart he sees a man leaning on the carts who turned to look towards the shouting in the corral. Gilfalassë moves quickly to make the tent and cuts his way inside with his knife. As he does, the prisoners that he started to free begin moving over the fence to find their horses and cause havoc. The guard who had dozed off against the cart is now aware of what the noises were for and he runs towards the fence and jumps over it to subdue the escaped prisoners.

Aramis leaves the tent and when the fire is lit, he turns to run back towards the cooking tents. He starts shouting in Dunael

Fire! Fire!

Dunlendings start to emerge from their tents around Aramis and follow him towards the cooking tent to get barrels of water to douse the fire. Cúthalion tries to make his way between the tents unseen but the bright fire starting to burn behind him drew too many eyes and he is spotted. He pauses and in Westron speaks to the man saying one simple word.

Water

The man does not buy Cúthalion’s excuse and raises the alarm in Dunael. When Aramis reaches the cooking tent, above the clamor he faintly hears a man yell one treacherous word

Arson!!

Aramis stops as he reaches the front of the cooking tent. He asks the burly cook if he has an barrels of wash water to douse a fire. The cook is not pleased and wants answers

What have you done you pirate scum

Aramis reponds

I have searved on a ship for many years, fire is no joking matter

The cook turns to another Dunlending with a thick beard and says

Grab this pirate and hold him while we put the fire out

Aramis has no choice but to comply and steps towards the man with his arms outstretched for him to grab.

Cúthalion quickly stabs the shouting man with his rapier before the man draws his axe and is poked again. He swings the axe at the half elf and misses. More men pour out from the nearby tents and draw there weapons as they approach. He hits the first man again with his rapier before shouting in Adûnaic to keep the Dunlendings from understanding.

Come help me!

Inside the armorer’s tent, Gilfalassë’s eyes must adjust and he soon finds weapon hafts, javelins, and other unwrought weapons. He uses his flint and steel to light a flame in some oily cloth and sets it among the javelins. Staff in hand, he looks outside the tent and is spotted by a man no more than ten feet away who shouts to him before running to investigate

What are you doing?!

He swings his smithy tongs at the intruder but misses. Gilfalassë smashes the man’s face with his staff and jumps over the budding fire to exit the tent while the Dunlending stands holding his face.

In the corral, Dagorhir tries to sneak towards the north fence and fodder pile. He attempts to jump over the fence but his heavy booted foot slips off the slick rung and he collapses on the inside of the fence. One of the men who previously had worked to offload the hay from the carts had come to the inside of the corral to investigate and sees Dagorhir run towards the fence. He runs over to the knight on the ground and threatens him with his pitchfork before he can roll over to stand up. When he does stand he is stabbed by the pitchfork. He swings his longsword in response and easily hits the unarmored man.
On the other side of the now flaming pile, Cúthalion is set upon by many men fresh from their tents. The guard who let them into the camp was running towards the fire upon hearing Aramis’ call. But when he heard the alarm being raised, he drew his heavy axe and made directly for Cúthalion. He pushes another unarmed man out of the way and makes to attack the half elf. Seeing that he is vastly out numbered and alone, Cúthalion turns to flee between the tents and back towards the fire. He dodges a parting axe swing from the guard and using his elven grace, he vaults over the two half full fodder carts between him and an open escape. The Dunlendings circle the tent to find him but did not see him vault the carts and temporarily lose him.

Aramis, in the strong grasp of the assistant cook, tries to talk his way free.

As much fun as I am having here, shouldn’t we be fighting that fire there

Aye, I was thinking the same thing. But I have orders

After continuing to try and talk the man into letting him free he finally says

Seriously, let’s go put out this fire

Alright let’s go.

Lead me to some water

The man lets go of Aramis and leads him into the same tent where he had originally grabbed the barrel of oil. The two men grab a barrel between them and go back out the front of the tent towards where they had entered. Suddenly, Aramis summons all his strength and catches the man off balance and pushes him into the large cooking fire still burning behind him. The man stumbles and falls into the flames. Aramis quickly turns back into the tent and starts putting holes into as many oil barrels that he can find. The dirt floor soon becomes soaked in oil. Soon, the man storms into the tent, his breeches still flaming, and he charges at Aramis. He slides on the oiled floor and wildly misses his swing. He manages to keep his balance but in the frenzy, his flaming breeches light the oil all around him. Aramis stabs him once and runs out the tent and uses the chaos to flee North to exit the camp altogether and flee towards the predetermined escape route. The angered man, now wreathed in flame, chases Aramis and tries to tackle him and bring him down before he can leave. Aramis strikes him again, this time piercing the man’s lung. A gurgling sound escapes the man’s mouth as he stands in shock, flames creeping higher up towards his face.

As Gilfalassë exits the tent, a blacksmith assistant notices the flames starting to envelope the tent and enters the other side. He finds his friend stunned inside a tent with a fresh fire. He pulls him away from the flames and tends to his face as he tries to figure out what happened to him. Gilfalassë enters another tent and starts to quickly light another fire. When the flames start to take hold in another pile of oiled rags, he leaves the tent and moves into the next. He finds a tent full of finished weapons and continues his work of disrupting their weapon supply. Gilfalassë leaves this tent and grabs a flaming torch out of one of the blacksmith fires and approaches a half full cart of weapons and supplies that came in with the caravan but was abandoned in the ensuing chaos. He throws the torch in the cart.

Cúthalion lands on the side of the clearing near the fodder carts and runs straight away from the fire, towards the edge of camp where they initially came in. Some of the blacksmiths who were responding to the fire, see the half elf and move to hit him with their hammers. He stabs with his rapier and moves to continue running past the two lads. They swing with their hammers but are too slow for the swift half elf. He runs further away but the two blacksmiths charge directly at him with their hammers and try to bring them down on him, nearly missing. Cúthalion says an urgent incantation to himself in Quenya and after one last swing, the blacksmiths seem to lose hope in attacking the half elf. They instead notice Gilfalassë a few paces South and move to attack the man. Cúthalion draws his bow as some of the original combatants come around the side of the tents to restart the battle with him.

Dagorhir continues his fight with the pitchfork man and they trade blows back and forth for a while. Behind him, the riders that were freed from the stockades have climbed the fence and started to gather their mounts. The stockade guard entered battle with the unarmed prisoners but the sheer number and will of the prisoners have given the guard a tough task. A fiery chestnut steed seemed to be more than passively aiding the riders as well. Dagorhir finally dispatches his foe and moves to help the men only to see they had already defeated the foe. He moves to gather an unclaimed old horse and mounts while the riders are doing the same. He rides to the back end of the corral and starts banging his longsword on the front of his glowing shield. The cattle and goats in the corral initially seem to be unsure about where to go to escape both the raging hay fire and the clamor of the mounted knight. Soon they move towards the entrance of the corral when it is opened by one of the prisoners. The women and children start to move towards the front of the corral and the riders form a loose guard around them to keep them safe.

The blacksmiths who turned from the half elf to charge Gilfalassë approach the man and miss with their hammers. Cúthalion hears Gilfalassë speaks an old verse in Quenya before grabbing one of the lads with his bare hands and tries to use the lad’s momentum against him. He manages to stay on his feet and tries to counter throw but is unsuccessful. Cúthalion runs after the lads and speaks the same incantation from the fodder pile before grabbing the same lad Gilfalassë tried to throw. The other lad sees this and swings his axe and hits the half elf but could not break his concentration. The lad writhes in searing pain at the touch and his clothes catch fire on his back as well. The remaining chasers close in on the half elf but fail to hit their lithe enemy. Gilfalassë swings his quarterstaff at one of the young lads and jumps back over the cart tipped over at the entrance to the clearing. The camp guard closes on the half elf with the burly cook by his side and they both attack the half elf. He moves to run after his ally and when enough distance has been put between him and his foes, he once again raises his voice towards the power of his favorite Vala Lórien. Soon, the thick dry bushes and grass push their way up through the thin snow in the main clearing and wrap around anything they can find. The enemies that were chasing the half elf find themselves rooted in place, unable to continue the chase. Some try to throw their axes only to see them fall harmlessly short.
Gilfalassë skirts around the edge of the newly reinforced thicket and returns to the cart that he had tossed the torch in. He grabs a new flaming brand and throws it onto the top of the last weapon tent as he makes his way back in towards the corral. He sees a panicked horse fleeing the corral and approaches it at the gate and works his way to placing a reassuring hand on the muzzle. He mounts the horse as Dagorhir and some of the riders push the livestock out of the corral with the freed prisoners in tow. Gilfalassë gestures to stay away from the bramble thicket and work their way around to escape from the camp.
Cúthalion follows him towards the corral and is followed by two Dunlendings who just escaped the edge of the thicket. He turns and rapidly shoots two arrows at the young men. He hits them both and they quickly decide to flee with their lives and run deeper into the camp. Cúthalion uses his affinity with nature to help Dagorhir herd the animals away from the camp, driving them past the helpless enemies still caught in the brambles.
Gilfalassë takes his horse and rides quickly to the North to find and follow the tracks of Aramis and meet the party back on the road around the outside of the camp.

* A Narrow Escape*

Gilfalassë, a very skilled ranger, quickly tracks down Aramis and catches him. The two of them share the horse and make for the road to the fortress. They reach the road and ride quickly and silently to make for safety and gather any assistance that they can. When they reach the fortress, they ride up the causeway and are challenged by the guards at the gate. They tell them who they are and of the mission they were on and request to enter and regain their bearings and send help for their remaining friends. They are held outside until one of the guards returns with Háma, the second marshal of the mark. He confirms their statements and commands the gates be opened. He also orders a detachment of knights be sent up the road to help defend the others in tow.

Some of the women and children are placed on the backs of the driving cows and goats as the difficulties of the camp are past but the difficulties of returning safely just begin. The riders, Dagorhir, and Cúthalion all drive the livestock quickly to put as much distance between them and the camp that they can. The numerous fires and destruction left in the camp should help to stall the pursuers as they work to salvage anything still left to them. The band reach the road and turn down to the South to drive towards the fortress. One of the riders charges forward down the road to alert the fortress of their coming and summon any help that can be spared. They progress through the darkness, constantly in fear of an all out assault, yet meeting no resistance. Finally, with the darkness lifting in the East, they reach the entrance to the deep valley containing the fortress and are met by two score mounted knights come to escort them. They push through the valley and enter the gate. Guards posted above the gate make no motion but others push to peer over the walls and see the results of the raid and look for returning loved ones and friends.

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