– Baugarch –


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I traveled with Talarka to the Ered Luin, along the way we talked a lot about our experiences, and I think that Talarka as Elf  is rather unusual, it is very different from the Elves of Mirkwood, certanly more sociable.
Anyway he gave me some good advice, as I was running out of  money and had no place to live, Talarka introduced me into the timber trade; Ered Luin are in fact the home of two communities that consume a lot of timber: the Elves of Celondim send it to the Grey Havens where Cirdan the Carpenter uses it to build new vessels, the Dwarves of Thorin’s Halls instead use it for their industrial activities.
Left Talarka to his own business I have  spent a few days exploring the region, which seemed safe enough at that moment apart for some disorder caused by th Dourhand;  as a man of Esgaroth the Dwarves have welcomed me kindly and I started to trade profitably with them, by the time I have conquered their trust and they even allowed me to own a home inside one of their halls under the mountains.
I think I will live there one day or another…
Unfortunately the duty called me soon, and I had to leave for Bree-land once again.

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Another threat was looming among Combe, an enormous Warg was spotted wandering in Chetwood and sometimes at night he pushed towards Combe, and who knows maybe this new event could have some connection with Amdir’s matter. this is what Constable Underhill wrote in his letter to me, he was trying to put togheter a group of hunters to ward off the Warg from the forest.
So I set out to Combe.
The first hunt for Baugarch consisted of four members, there was me, Berawena a woman from Archet who had lost her parents and her brother during the attack of the Blackwolds, then there was Pada a man coming from the lands around Bree, and  Elrhandir a gondorian captain on mission in the North.
We received instrunctions to start our search from the lumberjacks camp, eas of Combe, from there we would have entered the wood; none of us knew what to expect, we searched for a long time throughout the night and when we finally found the beast it was dawning.
It was called Baugarch, “terrible fangs”, two meeters long with indeed terrible tusks, a terrible smell of death came  from his jaws, the fight was very hard and everybody risked to be eaten more than once but at last we had reason of him.
We went back to Combe and partied, but in the following days other Wargs similar to the first returned to threaten the area.

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There were other hunts, Talarka took part to one of them too, and there I met for the first time Jullian and Berenthel; but at that point was clear that “the Baugarchs” were invited to come and take residence in Chetwood by the Blackwolds, we had to find a definitive solution.
Ellie Cutleaf a woman of Combe, breeder of dogs, was approached some time before by the Blackwolds, they asked her to breed wolves for them in change of riches, although she accepted in a second time she understood her mistake and she decide to get out of that matter, she suggested us the way of the poisoning, we had to penetrate the enemy camp in the deep of Chetwood and poison the beasts food.
We waited for the darkness to attack, we killed many of them in their sleep, we poisoned every carcasss we found, but above all we have been able to kill Jagger Jack the mind behind the plan of create a wolf pack to use as a weapon against Breeland. This last event opened a door in the Amdir’s matter…

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– Archet –

Archet

After having left behind us the brigands camp Strider led us through the night along paths that only he seemed to know, he lighted up the trail with a torch while I was carrying Amdir on my shoulders, the two Hobbits kept up despite their short legs and I could not help but notice how much they are resilient, they were not weary nor they complained about the rugged ground on which we proceeded, where I had diffuculty to go on with my thick boots they moved swiftly and silently barefoot; just Mundo blabed about the fact that a gentlehobbit as him could not be treated in that manner, but no one was paying attention to his words.

It was the dawn when we finally arrived to a village, located in a small valley was surrounded on two sides by high cliffs the uncovered part was protected by a palisade made of pointed log, I learned shortly after that that place was called Archet.

We received a very cold reception from the guards at the gatewho seeing us instantly stopped us, our prayers were useless, they were willing to let us outside regardless our wounded friend and the condition of all of us, but the arrival of an officer named Calder Cob changed the situation he let us enter with the promise to leave as soon as the wounded Ranger would have been able to walk.
We all slept except Strider who watched his friend who did not seem to perk up, all the inhabitants of Archet were watching us but none approached us to help.
Strider told me that the Rangers were not well seen in those lands, and was at that point that he explained me that that small and peaceful village was in a great danger, he and the Rangers had in fact watched the brigands and their movements reavealing their intensions: assault and seize Archet.
Strider asked me to inform the “mayor” Captain Brackenbrook, a man with long mustche and white hair, from his looking and posture one would have thought he had everything under control; I explained him what Strider told me before, I also told about the Black Rider but to no avail, Brackenbrook would not listen any reason.

Captain Brackenbrook

Back to Strider he gave me another duty, find a medicinal herb: the Kingsfoil, the night before I had experienced its effects when the Ranger mashed some leaves in a bowl to make a cold pack on Amdir’s wound, its fragrance has the power to cheer up everyone, and in the expert hands of Strider could have given relief to Amdir.
Leaving Archet I was faced by Calder Cob, I thanked him for having let us enter but he made me an half smile saying that we were fools to think that the village would have been attacked and anyway he did not see any brigand around, he rather warned me to be careful  in the woods because none could know what could have happened to me going alone in the woods, said that he turned his back on me laughing loudly.
I remembered the place where Strider collected the herb the night before but in the darkness I could not notice the impressive ruins that right now in the full light of the afternoon stood in front of me; staircases and columns, marble blocks, who knows what great men had left such works! Certanly not the people of Archet, perhaps only the Dwarfs could equal the greatness of those buldings.
I found the gras and when I collected enough I decided to give a close look to the ruins, arrived on the top of what have been once a tower I found a banner hanging from a pole, immediatly appeared clear that it was there since little time; while I was examining the banner I heard footsteps behind me, I turned and I saw a man with a wolf on a leash coming towards me, luckily I had brought my weapons with me, I barely had time to nock an arrow that immediatly the wolf lunged to me, I tensed the rope then the arrow stabbed in the neck of the beast who fell lifeless to the ground, meanwhile the man was getting close, too close to let me use the bow, so I had to pull out my daggers; the man yelled to me that it was too late, that I could not hinder their planand in the mean time he tried to kick me with a great club, just I was able to get closer I threw a to his throat, I could see the open flesh and blood comes out, I was alive.
I runned back to Archet but at the gate I had another surprise, Calder Cob looked at me with an expression somwhere between surprise and angry then he came closer and whenhe was sure that none else could her him he told me that I had been lucky to survive, and that if it was not for the guards he would have killed me in that moment, he laughed once again and concluded saying that soon he would have dealed with all of us.

Calder Cob

I told everything to Strider who immediatly told me that a brigand was being held prisoner there in Archet and to go to question him; it was quite easy, as soon as I shown him my dagger covered in blood he instantly told everything, after that I talked with Brackenbrook once again and now he seemed to be moved from his positions therefor he decided to send me to the farm of CalSpigley, some of his laborers were in fact disappeared recently; speaking with the farmer I learned that Calder Cob was sent there before toinvestigate but was opinion of Cal that he done nothing.
After have received some guidance I moved to east, there flowed a stream over i could see other ruins; walking along the river bank i found the bodies of the labourers then I saw the smoke rising from the ruin; I crossed the creek and hid in some bushes, from there I could see many guards patrol the area, that surely had to be the enemy’s main base.
I runned back to the farm there Cal Sprigley that sent me to Combe a small town to the south in order to ask reinforcements, but another bitter surprise was waiting for me on the road, the robbers were surrounding Archet, no aids would have come; the inhabitants of the village would have to fend for themselves.
Brackenbrook had to be convinced, Calder Cob was a traitor and Archet would be attacked that night.

The brigands

– Escape –

Everything that followed the appearance of Strider in front of my cell happened very quickly, and insofar as I can I will try to report it hereunder.

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Strider had found my clothes, so I dressed as quickly as I could, then I found my bow beside one of the guards killed by Strider, the arrows were not a problem since several full quivers were hung on the wall of the guard room, there I could find my daggers too.
We got out from what had been my prison, and then I realized that that place was much more big than I thought, more than an encampment it was a little village with rock houses, stables and other things that could not be found in a temporary encampment, I realized then that I was not the only prisoner there, indeed Strider ordered me to proceed toward other farther courtyards where while he was coming he saw a couple of Hobbits detained there, while he would take care of freeing others prisoners inside rock bulidings on the right.
Fortunately there were few guards in that area that I could knock out in ashort time, although I had not yet recovered my strenght; freed the little Hobbits I proceeded with them looking for a way out from that horrible place, and was there that I saw him!

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An imposing figure entirely dreesed of black clothes that covered every part of his body except for the hands on wich he wore a pair of armoured gloves; he was riding a mighty black stallion who whinnied and scraped the ground.
A terrible Black Rider was in front of me.
There where should have been the face of the rider I could not see nothing, was perhaps because of the low light (it was just dawning), or because of the black hood he was wearing, but I could swear there was no face at all, just a shadow.
Meanwhile, someone has started a fire, the thatched roofs of the hunts were on fire and I could hear the noise of some collapse.
in front of the rider another Ranger was standing, I have been able to notice the similarity of traits with those of Strider, armed only with a torch he threw chops right and left trying to scare away the rider, but alas the rider pranced his horse lowering a chop on the man’s shoulder, the Ranger fell to his knees  then I would expect to see the rider dismount to kill the man, but he did not, indeed the black figure turned towards me and the Hobbits who I freed just before and with a shrill voice he said “Which is the “Baggins” promised me?” I could not help but notice that  it was the second time I heard pronouncing that name in a short time, but nothing I could do so was the terror that paralyzed me; only a grating separated us from the rider who was approaching, but at that point all around us and a large fire was raging and then a burning beam crashed down right in front of the horse who instantly pranced, the Black Ridersent out terrible curses in his shrill language that never I heard before then he fled.

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Then Strider appeared running on the other side of the courtyard and we all rushed to help the wounded Ranger, I knew then called Amdir; the wound did not seemed deep but he was however already very pale, he tried in vain to stand up, I decided then to help Strider to carry Amdir, the two Hobbits followed us; so it was that we setted out to the woods while behind our backs the fire was consuming what once were the refuge of the brigands.

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