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  1. #191
    For the purposes of this dive into Nemir's thoughts, time is frozen or at least going very slowly but I thought it would add a bit of flavour and insight into where she's at right at that moment (since there's a very real possibility this could be one of the last times I write in her perspective and I wanted to really milk it haha).

    So this is it, Nemir thought to herself right before their attacks fell on them, All of our adventures together and it's led to this? Death by the hands of glorified ruffians, outnumbered and half-dead already? It's not even heroic - not like the tales father used to read with me - instead, we'll die without anyone knowing about it and we will soon be forgotten. I suppose there was a part of me that thought that I could become the kind of hero I used to look up to, that I could forge and write my own story and if I died, it would be a glorious death on a battlefield or saving lives. The kind of death scholars would teach for generations. And what have I done? I haven't made a name for myself yet - I'm still only the daughter of an elf lord; I'm still only a traveller that found a couple of artifacts; I'm still only that elf that helped kill a troll that one time...

    I'm still only Nemir.

    Nemir tightened her grip on her bow and forced back a defeated and bitter laugh.

    And I had such plans too. To become someone in Dale - I still have the favour of the King and my reputation, surely he would've granted me a title. To become someone in Mirkwood - I have the knowledge of scrolls and scrolls of Quenyan writings that I could've shared with them. I had a promise to fulfil to my prince - to tell him what Dale will do about the orcs to the North. And with the ear of Dale's Queen too? Would it have been such a stretch to believe that I could've become someone? And Saxulf. My dear Saxulf, I had every intention of teaching you elvish but it looks like I might be forced to break my promise. These Viglundings you see, they mean to kill me. To kill all of us. I hope my letter was enough. I wrote it thinking that you might be the one to die before we meet again but I never thought it might be me.

    Nemir looked to Beli, his axe in his hands and ready to fight.

    And yet here I am. Beli won't run so I have to stand by him and fight. I can't bring myself to abandon him. He says it would be an honour to die fighting alongside me but for once, I wish he would take the coward's choice and slip away. At least then, he would be safe. Alive. If I died giving him time to escape - to live - it would've been worth it. I would be remembered, even if it was just by one person. If that one person was Beli, it would've been worth it. He, more than anyone, knows what I've been through because he's lived through it with me. Still, I will protect him until the very end. No matter what.

    Eru protect and guide me. I may just do something stupid to save the dwarf's life.
    Last edited by Poppyseed; May 10th, 2020 at 16:22.

  2. #192
    Great stuff, as always, Poppyseed! The stakes are high in this scene… I will post some stuff about what players can prepare for and look forward to in our next session.

  3. #193
    Dolarhyde's Avatar
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    With a grunt and clinched teeth, Beli began his march near the front with Beldan. The veteran Dwarf still wasn’t much of a talker, even after these few years. But much could be learned from him if one but just watched.

    Nearly every uneven step on this path was fire in my side where the packed medicinal herbs still worked their curative effects. At least it wasn’t draining as much this morning and most of the effects of the Orc poison had worn off. Only a splitting headache remained from that foul substance. Leaf Soles’ skills as an herbalist and healer had been tested and found exceptional.

    I was exceedingly tired and weary. Much of this day was spent merely putting one foot in front of the other. Just one more step. And another. And another. Just one more. Somewhere along the way I found myself using my Mattock as a cane. I hope Beldan didn’t notice; he’d surely frown upon my using a weapon in this manner. But it helped.

    As if from a dream state, we were nearly surrounded by Viglundings. An ambush had been laid in order to take Baren to their chieftain to answer for some crimes. Beldan lead the discussions for our side. I’ve little recollection of what was said. It’s all echos and ringing in my ears.

    There goes Nemir again, talking Elvish to a damn tree or something. Peculiar people, these Elves.

    Beldan snapped my thought back to the moment at hand and asked me if I was ready to fight, I think. “Yes, I’ll be fine. And I’m ready,” I replied through clenched teeth. Okay, so pull yourself together, Beli. They need you to be ready. They need you to fight.

    It had been so cold, and now I’m roasting and lathered in sweat. Praps the poison is still working it’s way out of my body.

    I heard Nemir tell me something about a path or clearing to the south. I guess the birch and oaks gave her an answer. “What’s there,” I asked? She replied safety. But no, I cannot leave my companions. Beldan is a friend I cherish and respect. I look to him like I might my own father, we’re he still alive. I cannot leave him to die whilst I scurry away through the woods like a rat. More importantly I cannot leave Nemir. I know full well she is an elf, but she is my closest friend in this world. I don’t even know how that came to be, if I’m being honest. I hope she knows that. And I hope she doesn’t know that, too. I’d never hear the end of it.

    “If this is the end, then it would be an honor to die fighting beside you, Nemir.” Indeed, it would. Indeed, it seems it will be, in fact. I cannot bear the thought of seeing Nemir fall. There must be some other way.

    I asked what monetary price there might be for Baren, as I’d gladly pay it not to have to fight right now, but their captain rebuffed my question.

    More words echoing in my mind and then Baren surrendered himself. In starts and fits, it seems; but, yes, he’s going over to them in surrender. It’s honorable, but they’ll surely kill him, I think as a rage swells inside me. How many of these Viglundings are there? Too many to count with this fire burning in my side.

    At least this madness is done for now. They have what they wanted and we can go aid Baren later when we’re not so ragged and worn.

    What did that pig-faced mule just say? Give him all of our weapons? He meant to fight us from the beginning regardless of whether Baren surrendered or was given over or not. And we let Baren go with them. How cheap is our friendship?

    Beldan is saying something to them, but i see how he just shifted his Mattock there. Imperceivable to others most likely, but a clear message to me; this will be blood.

    I take a quick look around at my companions . . . hopefully not for the last time.

    Euric is there. An excellent rider and fighter. I’m glad he’s with us. Leaf Sole . . . a strange name even for Woodland people, but I can vouch for his medicinal skills. Achernar has been with us from the beginning. I should get to know more about him if we survive this day. His sister is there, too. I wonder if he knows how much she drinks from my stash of whiskey? Ha! None of his business, I say. I will honor them this day.

    Turning back I see Beldan in his wroth. Damn if I’d want to face that veteran in battle, even on my best day. I’ve tried to learn what I can from him. Does he know how much I respect him? I will honor him this day.

    I cannot even look at her. I cannot even think her name. Does she see the fear in my heart? Does she know it’s not for my life? Does she know I march forth in this blinding pain for the sake of our friendship? I will honor her this day.

  4. #194
    First class, Dolaryhde! This is truly dramatic storytelling.

  5. #195
    The Viglundings and the companions finally came to blows. Euric sent his squire, Draigoch to escape and potentially find help but stayed to fight himself until he fell. Unwilling to see his sister harmed, Achernar called out that he surrendered and laid down his weapons with his sister next to him. Leaf Sole slipped away with Bofri, unnoticed by the Viglundings who were focussed on dealing with Achernar's surrender, and Beldan's attacks, covered by Beli and Nemir who stayed and fought.

    Beldan had a little success, which gave the Viglundings pause for a moment, but Nemir could see her escape route slipping away. Fighting any longer meant giving up the chance to slip away but Beli was still standing, fighting. He wouldn't leave Beldan but she couldn't leave him behind. Knowing, perhaps, that it was futile, she pleaded with Beli to escape with her but Beli refused. He continued fighting alongside Beldan, who only told him "Go". Still, Beli couldn't bring himself to run away and abandon Beldan. As Beldan made a rush to Beran, to try to free him, drawing some of the Viglundings with him, Nemir pleaded once more, sensing their last opportunity and not wanting Beli to die in the battle, until an idea came into her head. It would mean swallowing all of her pride and bearing the humiliation that would surely follow from the jibes and jabs of the Viglundings and her own mind fighting against her but would it make them more willing to spare Beli if they had another prisoner instead of another escapee? Short of knocking Beli out and dragging him away, it was her best chance.

    While Beli joined Beldan and they fought until they couldn't anymore, Nemir surrendered. It's for Beli, she told herself but the shame ate away at her even as she placed her bow down and was forced to the ground. She was fighting every instinct she had that was telling her to run. The forest was calling out to her and she wanted desperately to heed it but she'd blown her chance the second she laid down Tyelca. Her precious woodland bow - what would they do with it? What would they do with her? Was this just prolonging death? She clenched her jaw and gritted her teeth. It's for Beli.

    The Viglundings bound them and soon, they were travelling as prisoners - "criminals", as one of the Viglundings was very quick to point out to them. Every word was venom. Nemir glanced over to Beli. Still breathing, still alive. Bound like the rest of them. One thing was to be said about her kind: they endured - and she would endure this and much more to come, even if it weighed heavily on her heart, even if all other hope seemed to be lost, she would endure it. As long as she kept reminding herself what she was fighting for. She would fight for the chance to make a name for herself and create a story of her own, for the chance to see her family again and the woodland halls - in all her wanderlust, as the possibility of seeing her home again grew dimmer, she suddenly felt homesick - for her companions themselves, who were the reason she kept wandering far from home and reason enough to continue doing so... and for the dwarf who had become the unlikeliest of friends but meant as much to her as family.
    For Beli.

  6. #196
    This is known as a down beat in fiction. Definitely an intensification of pressure on the protagonists. As the film director Sydney Pollack said, and I paraphrase, "For some reason you can't have just happy things happen to your hero and heroine, otherwise your movie ends up looking like a credit card commercial."

    Once again, very nice writing, Nemir. Thank you for chronicling the story.

    Running: GUMSHOE--Esoterrorists and The One Ring
    Want to play: City of Mist, Dresden Files RPG, Orpheus, Changeling (either version)

  7. #197
    Draigoch rode south towards Hartmut's Hall, having escaped from the battle on Euric's warhorse, to get help and Leaf Sole and Bofri, who had slipped away first, did the same. Draigoch arrived first to tell his tale to the Beornings, who all gathered to listen and were soon riled up by his tale even if the telling of it was long and rambling. The reaction was unanimous. Outrage and disgust. But they also seemed like they expected something like this to happen. There was a gathering filled with shouting and drinking that night, when Leaf Sole arrived with Bofri and began to re-tell the story of the battle and their companions' capture only to find they already knew - and that Draigoch was here.

    Bound and captured, the rest of the companions were at the mercy of the Viglundings. Achernar persuaded them to let him and his sister, Astrid, tend to the dwarves under the condition that they also tend to the injured Viglunding soldiers. Astrid protested at Achernar but he told her to just do it. As the Viglundings prepared to leave and secured their dead to the ponies, it became increasingly apparrent that they intended to leave Euric for the wolves so Nemir called out to them: "At least let us give him the dignity of a proper burial." Something in the note of her voice must have struck a cord with the second-in-command, as she gestured to allow it. Digging the grave alone was difficult work for her already weary body but Achernar was tending to Beldan and Beli and Nemir would be damned if she asked for the help of any of the Viglundings watching her. It would be an insult to Euric's memory and they would probably refuse anyway. Still, she pushed on until the grave was dug and covered, then, not knowing the funeral rites of his people, she followed as close to the elven traditions as the Viglundings would let her. She gathered flowers to place onto his grave, wishing she had seeds to plant or a sapling and sung an elven song of mourning softly, hiding the words and the melody from the Viglundings who were undeserving to pay witness to an elven burial song.

    The Viglundings and the captured companions headed to Viglund's halls, with bags placed over the companions' heads. Along the way. Beldan sowed seeds of doubt with every guard that delt with him after overhearing a goblin one night talking to them as a jester might. He also shouted about them being slave-takers and orc-friends when they entered settlements, sowing even more doubt with the locals as he touched on the idea that they might be next. Beli seemed to shut down in guilt and sorrow as they travelled and with the bag over her head, Nemir listened carefully to everything as something to distract her from the hopelessness she felt growing inside of her. She had to do something, else she felt she would fall into despair. In the settlements, Nemir overheard the talk of someone wanting to escape and another, convincing them to stay, and Nemir realised that they were afraid of the stories they'd been told of the elves in the forest. Paying more attention as they went further along, she noticed they were also afraid of her.

    The companions and Viglundings arrived and were brought to Viglund's Hall, where the war band's leader proclaimed them to be criminals and murderers, which Beldan and Nemir argued against, saying that they were only acting in self-defense and that they were the aggressors. Their bags were ripped off their heads and the companions finally saw the inside of Viglund's Hall but Nemir's eyes quickly found those of the two elves beside him and her soul flickered with rage and betrayal. Two dwarves were also beside him, grimacing at the reveal of the companions. Beldan furiously exchanged words with the dwarves, in Kuzdul, outraged that they would seemingly side with that of the Viglundings. Nemir straightened to her full height from slouching, beginning to look every bit the noble that she was raised to be despite her circumstances, and spoke in the elvish tongue: "If you side with these people, who take slaves and are friends and make deals with orcs, then you are traitors to your kind." It was met with a cold reply from the female elf (Nimrodel) that she did not know what she was interfering with and that she should hold her tongue. She addressed Nemir with "Nemir, daughter of Lord Thalon" and at the mention of her full name and title, with the commanding air she used it with, Nemir was silenced but Beli, hearing her name amongst the elvish started forward only to be quickly stopped by the guards. He shouted "You have no right to even speak her name!" but was met by idle skepticism at most by Nimrodel and the other, Aredhel. It soon dawned on the company that they had just been brought into the middle of some very tense diplomatic negotiations.

    Upon request by the elven and dwarven emissaries, Viglund allowed the companions to be unbound and for the emissaries to summon and talk to their people. Nemir rubbed her wrists as the bindings came off, glad to be free of them, and the companions were given their first few moments of privacy in many days. Until now, she had been trying to hold herself together - making sure Beli ate the food the Viglundings gave them on the journey despite not having much of an appetite herself, listening to her surroundings in distant hopes of escape, reminding herself of what she was fighting for - but she was exhausted both physically and emotionally. Once the eyes were off her, the hopelessness she had been fighting to keep at bay sank into her and weighed heavily - too heavily - on her heart. She knelt and hugged the unsuspecting Beli and, in the hug, murmured "We'll be alright" but it sounded more like she was trying to convince herself of it. Subtly, he leant into the hug. Her hopelessness eased a little and gathering her resolve, Nemir quickly broke from the hug and straightened, once again resembling nobility as she watched the room, waiting to be summoned. She rubbed her wrists again absently but otherwise did her best to hide her discomfort. Hugs were not something she was particularly used to giving, being a more human form of affection, and this might not have been the best time to try it but it was a little too late to start thinking that now.

    Soon enough, Beldan and Beli were summoned by their people and Nemir was summoned by hers. Left to analyse the halls, Achernar spotted the man that guided them to the forest route and set them up for ambush. Beldan told the dwarves of their mission, what they had seen, and the orc-poison that Beldan had taken off of one of them. They discussed the situation between the nobles that had authorised the missions, finding conflict in the approaches taken and the dwarves vowed that they would help Beldan and Beli out of this mess but worried for the cost it might bring them.

    Nimrodel spoke coldly and condescendingly to Nemir as she called her a child, told her to keep quiet in the proceedings that followed and said her "little outbursts" brought shame to the elves and her kingdom. Her last point hit a nerve with Nemir and she bit back with "And making deals with slave-takers and orc-friends does not?". Nimrodel seemed unbothered as she said "Such is the way men are", with the exception of the woodmen and Nemir got angrier. Her mind went to Achernar, Astrid, Leaf Sole, and Euric, to Saxulf, King Bard, and Queen Una. Such is not the way men are, she thought. "Not the men of Dale," she said, "nor Laketown, nor anyone except from the Viglundings. I expect better of men - I have known better." In their exchange, Nimrodel told her that ensuring their border was secure was the only concern and it took Nemir aback. Is that really all the King cares about? The border that separates our kingdom from the rest of the world? She couldn't quite believe it to be true. Surely, her own kind was not so willing to turn a blind eye to the Viglunding's cruelty? Surely they were not so willing to overlook dealings with orcs and goblins? And yet here was an emissary, sent by King Thranduil himself. It couldn't be true... could it?

  8. #198
    Once again a great first person perspective, Poppyseed, and also a very helpful journal of many events in a busy session (which the LM deeply appreciates [bows low]). It’s also important that you have unpacked a number of crucial diplomatic nuances of this charged situation—valuable for all players.

    Thank you!

  9. #199
    Dolarhyde's Avatar
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    Brilliant as always, Poppyseed.

  10. #200
    Draigoch and Leaf Sole urge the Beornings to haste, both gaining alliances and with Draigoch becoming closer with Garsendis over tales of Beran. After a few days, they prepare to set off in the morning with the Beorning caravan and travel ahead of the group to help with the stockade and position themselves with advantage at the parlay site.

    During their time as prisoners and political hostages, Beli and Beldan got into a fight with two Viglunding warriors who used schoolyard bully tactics to provoke them, Achernar spread words amongst the Viglunding servants that he befriended of what he had heard and seen. The dwarven and elven diplomats both gave the same message: let them handle things at the hearing. Achernar introduced himself to a lady who was revealed to be the Aesid, daughter of Viglund, who he noticed sitting upon the dais with a man standing beside her. Nemir saw the recognition in Achernar's eyes as he looked at Aesid and through reading the body language and scene, could tell that Aesid saw no use for the man, presumably her betrothed, to her side.

    During the hearing Viglund agreed that Beli and Beldan would be given over to the dwarves and Nemir to the elves after the parlay that would take place the next day. It was only after Beldan's prompting for Achernar and Astrid to also be handed over that the dwarven diplomat, and then elven diplomat from not wanting to lose an opportunity to the dwarves, began negotiating for their release too. It was agreed. Viglund afterwards made a show of killing an orc with the orc-poison, ignoring the comments from the company of it already being somewhat obvious that they could succumb to their own poison, and Beldan's comments about using it being orc-work. In the morning, they would set off together to the parlay site.

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