This adventure is intended for a group of adventurers that needs an excuse to travel in a specific direction, which one does not really matter but the adventure assumes that they are in the valley of Anduin to the west of Mirkwood and heading south.
A marketplace has grown at a road junction close to a ford and ten to fifteen merchants has gathered there and many a farmer and huntsman has come to trade and share news. The market has been going for a few days and will probably start to break up in a day or two. One of the visitors have a letter they want to have delivered to their sister that lives some weeks travel to the south, are the adventurers maybe headed in that direction?
Once there they will get the chance to becomes heroes and save the family’s son and daughter from an orc on an errand, which one is up to the Loremaster do decide if that fits the campaign.
Your travels have brought you to a small market that has sprung up at the junction of two roads, close to a ford across a tributary to Anduin. You have spent a few days at the market, keeping an eye on the goods from the ten to fifteen merchants to find good deals and generally enjoying the company of other travellers of the roads and sharing tales and news.
You are lounging at your campsite around your fire, among several similar campsites set up by visitors to the market, when a man approaches you and politely asks if he may disturb you. As you indicate him to get comfortable near the small fire, he lowers himself with ease and sits down cross-legged in front of you and puts the short sword he carries behind him.
My name is Evoric and I’ve heard that you are travelling and I am wondering if you by chance is on your way south?
He looks expectantly at you, awaiting confirmation…?The neighbour of my cousin’s, Ragnacar, sister Heva lives with her family on the brink of the forest, at the Narrow of the Forest, some twenty to thirty miles south of Rhosgobel if you are familiar with were it is…? I would like to kindly ask you, on behalf of Ragnacar, if you able to take a letter to his sister or bring it on its way and find someone to carry it the remaining distance?
The letter is written on three sheets of low quality paper, folded in half and put in a leather envelope, about fifteen times twenty centimetres and slightly less than one centimetre thick. It is common to carry letters from one place to another, any reward is usually not paid as it is a matter of trust, hospitality and general kindness. Once they have agreed to start a mail service, Evoric gives a little better directions on how to find the homestead of Heva and her husband (whose name Evoric does not know as Heva is not his sister).
How far away the homestead is, is up to the Loremaster, as well as what dangers awaits. The homestead is a fairly new settlement, built twelve years ago and is home to Heva’s family, four farmhands and three maids. Since it is so close to the Forest it has a four metres high stockade and the houses are built for defence. The main livelihood is hunting, some crop farming close to the stockade and goat farming.
After a probably long travel, the adventurers sees at a distance a large clearing cut in the brink of the Forest and in the middle of it a sturdy stockade. Smoke comes out of the stockade indicating that someone is living there. When they arrive they will be met by two farmhands who have spotted them at a distance and meets them with a wood axe and a sickle in their hands, not hostile but wary of these strangers who carries gears of war. They greet the adventurers with caution but will within seconds realise that the group is not dangerous and will then show them in past the gate. Inside they see four smaller houses and one large house, all part of a simple but prosperous farm. On some racks a few animal skins are left to dry and one some ropes between two of the smaller houses there is some washing hanging to dry. They can see a handful of hens walking around. The two farmhands shows the visitors the well and one of them helps them get some water to drink and refresh themselves while the other goes to find their master, Barald.
Meeting Barald and Heva can be run as an encounter if this is run as an introductory adventure to new roleplayers, but the stakes are not high. The rules of hospitality demands that the adventurers are not turned away and that they are given food.
The handover of the letter is a quick affair, and Heva thanks them for it. If the adventurers really impresses their hosts they will be allowed to sleep in the house, otherwise they will be offered to stay in the goat house (it can be sectioned off to allow for some peaceful sleep). They will be joining the rest of the family for dinner at the long table in the house unless they really put their feet in their mouths, in that case their dinner will be brought to them in a cauldron to the goat house.
It will be a few hours before dinner and the weary traveller can find some rest before it is time to refresh themselves to get seated at the table. About an hour before dusk a maid prepares a table with washing bowls and soap and brings a bucket of water from the well and all cleans themselves. The adventurers can notice that something worries Heva, she looks anxiously toward the gate and even walks out looking around. Unless the heroes asks, she will talk to one of the farmhands and Barald and asks
Where could Gelvira and Amalric be?
Their two children Gelvira (7) and Amalric (9) are keeping the goats in the forest and should be back by now. Barald tells two farmhands to follow him to go looking for the children. Que the heroes to become heroes, and join the effort.
They walk quite briskly into the forest, as Barald and the farmhands knows the forest well, and after about a kilometre into the dense woods they start to run into stray goats happily eating or settling in for the night. Quite concerned, the group starts to search for clues while also shouting the children’s names, and an additional couple of hundred metres they find a goat’s carcass and some further away they find another. Both goats has been partly eaten. Now Barald is alarmed and runs off into the forest, nearly on random, shouting for Gelvira and Amalric.
The adventurers can run after and stop him to talk some sense to him, which would be a Hard skill roll for Awe, Inspire, or Persuade. If they succeeds they soon decide to split up in two teams, if not one of the farmhands calls to the heroes
Search in that direction, we follow Barald! and runs after their master. The result is that Barald and his two men, who have small axes and knives (never walk into the forest unarmed), heads of in one direction while the heroes boldly goes into another.
It is now dark and the adventurers probably have to light their way with lanterns or torches, but they find bloodied tracks and occasional foot prints of small children (Moderate difficulty for Hunting). They also find other tracks that worries them more; that of wolfs paws and heavy boots.
Finally the hunts comes to its conclusion; behind a thick fallen tree a messenger from Lugbúrz rests against the trunk. Around him a number of wolves stand snarling, awaiting order from their master to attack. Amalric and Gelvira lies bound at the feet of the seated messenger. Amalric has taken a severe wound to his chest, a wolf’s bite, and the messenger is also seriously hurt but from a previous fight with a spider. The orc were bringing a message from somewhere to Dul Guldur when he was waylaid by spiders and he had to take a detour, which brought him to the children. He had strict orders to leave no witnesses, that is why he just couldn’t slay them on the spot. Even if he is hurt, he is still a formidable foe and there are enough wolves to prove this to be a challenging encounter.
There are as many wild wolves (rules book page 246) as there are heroes and the Messenger has only 8 Endurance, but 6 Hate (rules book page 238).
Hopefully the heroes survives with the children and can bring them back to their parents. Barald arrived just before the adventurers, anxiously asking for any news.
It will take some time before the family can settle for something that resembles dinner, much of the attention will be focused on the wounded, and even longer before everyone will go the sleep.
The heroes will always be welcome to the household of Barald and Heva in the future.
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