– Blackwolds –


1
Archet was destroyed and many fell that night, but despite everything the Shadow seemed to have moved away from that place and the survivors were already starting to re-build Archet, now was John Brackenbrook who lead the community and i am sure he will be a good leader for many years.
My help was no longer needed and nothing held me there, Brackenbrook thanked me and suggested to direct me to Combe, maybe at the inn I could have find out more informations about the fate of Amdir.
Combe is a little bigger than Archet, but offers many more services: a blacksmith, some sellers and the less welcoming inn I’ve ever seen: the Comb and Wattle Inn, on entering I could see only four drunks sitting at a table, a few hens scratching on the floor and the surly owner behind the counter.
The room was lit by few candles, in a shadowy corner sat a figure, who, for what I was able to see it seemed to be different from the inhabitants of the area: it was definitely taller and slimmer… perhaps more elegant, spur of the moment I did not pay much attention to him.
I ordered a drink, and I put out some extra coin to the owner in order to have some informations, everything she said was that the day before a Ranger reserved a room upstairs.

2
Toradan he was sitting in his room resting I think, when I entered after knocking I had the feeling to be expected, I introduced myself, and he told me that he already knew my name and was already aware of what happened to Archet; I spent the following hours asking questions and getting some answers, I learned about the Morgul blades and their effects, then Amndir was victim of a curse and for this he had followed the Cargûl spontaneously. The imperative was therefore find Amdir, Toradan suggested me to start my search throughout Chetwood, the wood was in fact the main refuge of the Blackwolds and there fled the survivors of the attack on Archet; I thanked Toradan and promised him to return soon with good news.
It was clear that I could not sift the wood alone.
I stood in front of the fireplace thinking about how I could get help in that village when with my great surprise the help came to me without being asked: the figure who when I entered stood in a shadowy corner now was in fron of me handing a mug of ale.
An Elf!I could not believe my eyes and I almost laughed, he was standing there smiling at me with that sly smile that only the Elves have.

3
He was Talarka, a young Elf of Lindon, I willingly accepted the ale, and while we were drinking he told me about his activity as timber merchant and how he was silently helping the local woodsmen to keep away the Blackwolds so it was explained to me that the tactic of “the ghost Elf” (who was becoming a legend in the area), Talarka used a decoy to distract the enemy while he attacked them from another direction, then I told him about my situation and Amdir and he agreed to help me, I had found my ally.
We headed east towards the forest, it was night when we passed the woodsmen camp and entered the Chetwood, we moved silently to the side of the main path, I could see that the forest was far from be deserted, Chetwood had become the house of many ferocious wolves and other foul creatures.
The Blackwolds were very well organized, they had guard posts and patrols along the main path, many of them we killed that nignt along our way and we could see that Talarka’s tactic worked even better in two, relying on two bows the enemies were always took in our crossed fire.

4
We entered a lot deeper into the wood, and there we found the ruins of an ancient fortress, here the Blackwolds had established a big camp from which they launched their attacks, the enemies were too many, but we decided to take a look anyway getting advantage of the darkness.
Alas there was no sign of Amdir, and nothing held us there, so we decided to go back to Combe and report what we had seen to Toradan.
An assault to the Blackwold’s base (and therefore the search for Amdir) would have required a larger group and this Toradan knew.
Therefore I decided to follow Talarka on his way for the Blue Mountains.

5

– Assault –

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At Archet no one seemed to realize what was going to happen, they were all absorbed by their daily activities; Brackenbrook had not wanted to spread the news of the impending attack to not create panic, he believed that when the time would have came the villagers would have been able to defend themselves.
There remained a last hope, the son of Brackenbrook: John, chased out of the town few years before for have putted in doubt the loyaltyof Calder Cob, he went to live in a cottage east of the village here he gathered around him several hunters, as far as they could they kept away from the village wolves and other wild animals.
He and his group of hunters could have been the last hope of Archet.
I learned that Strider had to leave for a matter of vital importance, useless were my attempts to convince him to stay, nor remind him that Archet could have been destroyed that night, he merely rplied that he was leaving us because all the world would have been destroyed soon.
I gave up and thanked him for having saved me then I looked him ride away.
It was up to me then run to warn John Brackenbrook, I left the Hobbits to watch over Amdir and I borrowed a horse from the prison warden and rode eastward.

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Brackenbrook was a young man tall and strong with resolute manners,  the story of the betrayal of Calder Cob did not surprised him, he was in fact banished six years before for having suspected him, he did not lost heart even though he knew that the attack was imminent, looking from a window in fact we could see the evening shadows begin to lengthen.
Gathered all the men Brackenbrook John explained the situation, he spoke of Calder Cob and his plan to take the power during the speech also a Dwarf spoke, he was Atli who chosen to lives in those lands many years before, he spoke about an ancient East trail  that the robbers would have definitely tried to use to catch on the side the people of Archet,  but this path was infested by spiders, smaller than those of Mirkwood  but no less dangerous, they would have probably slowed down the enemy but anyway we could not lose more time.
We headed for the village, when we took the old path was getting dark; the more we were approaching to Archet the more we could see the glow of a fire, the attack had begun, perhaps the enemy had moved faster.
When we arrived there were people fighting everywhere, I saw the keeper of the prison succumb under the blows of a brigand, many I shot down but more and more seemed to arrive.
I was with John Brackenbrook who seemed determined to reach the main square of Archet, we advanced but more brigands came, we continued to fight meanwhile tha flames all around us the flames were higher and higher, the starry sky was gone in its place an orange glow was all that I could see.

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We finally reached the square,  there the survivors had erected the last barricade and waited for the enemy, with surprise I saw the  old Brackenbrook held sword and shield direct the operations, father and son embraced each other and shed tears each sorry for what had happened years before and for what was happening in that moment,  I found with my great pleasure also the two Hobbits fortunately they were fine, the same was not for Amdir who was sitting on the ground motionless and pale, without even the strength to talk; the time for pleasantries, however, was destined to be short-lived and a new wave of enemies was rushing into the square, the Brackenbrook throwed blows with the swords, Atli swung his ax and I rant my arrows, we repeled them back, some brigand was already running away and the battle seemed won, but it was at that point that they arrived.

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The same fear that I felt on seeing the Black Knight, the same feeling of death immobilized me and everyone else  no one dared to look at the two figures dressed in red who had made their way into the square; with them was Calder Cob with his sneer, admiring the flames that enveloped all the buildings around us, and the completion of his work.
So the “Red Knights” as I call them,  spoke with words that everyone could understand, their voice was still made ​​of wheezing and other strange sounds, they no longer wanted to spend time with us so they called him.

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Amdir, as if hypnotized, he stood up and at the command of one of the “Red Knights” followed them; useless were our cries  it was as if we did not exist, so it was that Amdir walked awa.
Was him part of the plan? Was he working for the enemy? And how Calder Cob could have such powerful friends?
He was realizing his plan, he killed the old Brackenbrook with no pity; that was the last straw, everybody shake the fear off then Calder Cob could not survive, his fool plan was finally ended.
The brigands left were fleeing toward Chetwood, the “Red Knights” had left with Amdir, Archet was burning but we were alive.

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