By John Abbot.
The war against the forces of The Eye has begun. The Nine have shown themselves by raising armies and sending their agents and emissaries forth. The Free Peoples must prevail or all will be swept into darkness. The neutral lands have not aligned with anyone that are known of.
Cirdan the Shipwright was the one who located the last hiding place of the Ring of Wind. It was in the Rhovanian plains just north of the Northern Gondor town of Romenost. The unknown was did any of the Dark Servants learn the whereabouts, as well? The mage power of the Nazgul was immense. Elrond sent forth requests of the Free Nations requesting assistance in retrieving the artifact. The Ring of Wind was the most powerful of all the items created to help those who work in stealth. Because of the importance of the item, Elrond decided to be the one who would face the danger. He would be accompanied by one of his twin sons, Elrohir. When father and son arrived at the site they were joined by two from the nations of men. One was Dudannis, an agent of the Northmen near the Sea of Rhun to the east. The other was Larissa, a scout from the Woodmen of the Greenwood. Though lately the vast forest had be renamed Mirkwood.
When the four made camp, Larissa went forth to scout the region. She returned with grave news. They were not alone in their search for the Ring of Wind. She had discovered Morathdur, a black numenorean mage who followed Akhorahil. Akhorahil was one of the Nine known as the Blind Sorcerer. Elrohir spoke up stating that it is highly unlikely that a mage of that power was here alone. Surely there is a guard. Larissa replied that she found no trace of any other.
Discussions on how to go about their search for the ring while an enemy mage of great power was close by went long into the night. The greatest concern was that the mage would find the location first and obtain the ring. Though there were many barrows to be searched, it was a very real possibility. There could also be undead guardians protecting the ring’s hiding place. Finally, if the evil mage was not alone, did he know of the presence of Elrond and his companions?
The plan chosen was a risky one, but the need to recover the Ring of Wind was critical to the war effort against the forces of The Eye. All four of the companions would spread out and search for the lost home of the Ring of Wind. Elrond would also try to challenge Morathdur to single combat. Larissa would scout for more enemies. Dudannis would guard the elven king. And Elrohir would use his magical knowledge to hunt for the lost ring.
In the days that followed the group searched for the hiding place of the ring. On the second morning Elrond heard a voice in the wind. His concern grew when he got close enough to make out what was being said. It was Morarthdur calling out a challenge of his companion Dudannis. That meant their concerns over the orc mage being alone were answered. He was not alone, and they knew of the party. What if Morarthdur found one of the human agents? Elrond called forth in an effort to draw the mage’s attention to himself. It worked, as Elrond challenged Morarthdur to combat. The numenorean mage turned to face his challenger, then a moment of recognition occurred. This was not a Northmen agent; this is the King of the Noldo. However, Morarthdur answered his acceptance of the challenge by sending forth a bolt of dark sorcery in an effort to cut the elven king down. Elrond, however, was clearly the more powerful. The elven king used his ancient sword, Helkaluin, to deflect the bolt as he riposted with a magical attack of his own. Elrond’s attack landed, and the mage was hurled back falling heavily but still alive. Elrond continued his attack and closed the distance while hoping to finish the him quickly. He could see now that the Morathdur had an amulet of power that aided in his defense. When he saw this, Elrond pressed his magical attack even harder giving him time to approach the mage of the Blind Sorcerer. Without hesitating, Elrond used Helkaluin to cut down his enemy to end the combat. He took the amulet that Morarthdur has used.
The next few days the group continued to search for barrow that contained the Ring of Wind. Then, around sunset on the fourth day after his battle, Elrond came upon what looked to be his objective. There was a barrow before him with an opened door. It was obvious that it was very recently done as scrape marks were present on the ground. As Elrond entered the crypt with his weapon drawn, concern for who had opened this tomb was ever in his thoughts. It did not take him long to learn the answer. He found two humans, a man and a woman, lying side by side clad in burial clothes. The worst had occurred. His companions had found the barrow first and had perished in the search.
He did not have time to lament for the spirits protecting the barrow wight attacked without warning. Elrond was assaulted from all sides, but his might was greater than the undead dwelling there. He dispatched evil spirits handily, and they wailed as their essence was ended. Elrond took the ring he had come for and called to Elrohir to help remove his doomed companions. That night Elrond and Elrohir buried the pair under the light of Elbereth in a wooded glen. Stone markers were left to identify the final resting places of Dudannis and Larissa.
The next day Elrond and Elrohir broke camp. The father and son went separate directions as they left. Elrond went to investigate another lost artifact while Elrohir returned to the northwest with the Ring of Wind. It was there that Elrohir learned of a new enemy encampment in the Misty Mountains. He set out to find who had established the dwelling. Elrohir approached the mountains from the east side. His elven eyes could make out faint lights coming from a mountain south of the Dwarven stronghold of Khazad-dum.
Finding the way up was easy. Elrohir moved without disturbing a pebble or making a sound. He could feel power of the Ring of Wind caused him to travel on the breezes like a vapor. He entered the caverns passing right by the guards as if they were not even there. It was a small group of orcs there. Just a camp. But, he knew that numbers could grow. He passed through several open chambers without detection and was confident that he had learned who was in charge.
From out of the shadows a robed figure emerged. The creature called forth for the Scion of Elrond, Elrohir, to stand forth in single combat. Elrohir was confused. How could they know he was there? As he turned to face his challenger, the color drained from his face while his eyes struggled with what they saw. It was Celedhring, one of the most powerful of the ancient mages. He was a follower of Khamul, the Dragon Lord. Celedhring was one of his father’s oldest foes and was vastly superior to the young Noldo.
Elrohir tried to use the Ring of Wind to conceal his attack, but Celedhing shielded himself in a globe of magical power. Then, Celedhring emitted a bolt of energy that caught Elrohir square in the chest. He was hurled across the cavern and fell lifeless to the floor of the cave. Celedhring glided across the cavern and instructed an orc to bring him the ring. He smiled as it was handed to him.
Glorfindel and Erestor of the Noldo had been dispatched to search for the other agent’s ring. The Ring of Curufin had been made long ago by the son of Feanor. It was legendary in its ability to change the appearance of the wearer into nearly any other creature or object. It was lost somewhere in the Dunlands near the river and the woods, but the exact location was not known.
Great care was taken in choosing the route through the land of the Duns who had not yet decided which alliance to follow. Aethelan of the Arthedain and an emissary of Cardolan had also been dispatched to aid in the hunt. The four adventurers concentrated in separate areas. It was Glorfindel who found the small dwelling that housed the ring. Aethelan came to guard Glorfindel as he tried to retrieve it. Erestor and the Cardolan emissary left the area. When Glorfindel touched the door of the small stone cabin, it changed appearances as runes of power appeared. As Glorfindel read the elven inscription, he smiled and looked at Aethelan because the answer was something he was very familiar with. Something he had grown up around.
“Beleriand,” was what he replied.
The outline of the door became more pronounced as it swung open with a hiss of escaping air. Inside was a dwelling that looked like it was still being used. On a table was a small wooden box. Inside the box was the Ring of Curufin wrapped in an oil cloth which he quickly placed inside a pouch. Glorfineld and Aethelan returned to their camp to determine their next course of action.
It was shortly after dark while the pair was preparing dinner that Aethelan gasped and pointed towards something. Glorfindel turned but was too late. A shape was standing over their traveling equipment and had the pouch containing the ring in his hand. Glorfindel was able to see through the shadow that surrounded the figure and was able to make out the dragon shape wrought into its armor. It was Khamul, the Dragon Lord. Aethelan was notching an arrow as Glorfindel drew his sword and summoned a spell in his free hand. However, as both moved to attack the Nazgul chuckled and simply vanished, taking the Ring of Curufin with him.
Erestor surveyed his newly founded camp in the wooded foothills south of the Blue Mountains. He had come here searching for the Collar of Might, a mage artifact of tremendous power. Elbereth had blessed him in his search for the collar. He found the hidden grotto quickly and dispatched the minor spirits without taking any injuries. Since he had extra time Erestor searched into the forest and mountains and convinced homesteaders to come and organize a new township. He had some from all the free people races. The varied citizenry of elves, men, and even a few dwarves seemed happy to live under the guidance of the Noldo.
Thus it was with great surprise when one of the younger elves came running up to Erestor with great fear in his eyes. A Black Rider had openly ridden into the tents where the families were dwelling causing all to flee for safety. Erestor gathered his battle gear and followed the young elf down the path and into the open fairgrounds where the markets were held. The Black Rider was there astride an evil mount. Its eyes glowed and steam emitted from its nostrils. Erestor recognized the rider as he dismounted and through back its hood. Khamul, the Dragon Lord, had come.
Erestor issued challenge and Khamul quickly accepted. A great battle of sorcerery ensued as both used all the power each could summon. Erestor’s Collar gave tremendous aid to him, but it was countered by the enchanted armor worn by Khamul. The battle was horrible to witness and the area was greatly damaged by the power wielded.
Several minutes into the battle the two had come very close to each other. Khamul threw his magical bolo hoping to entangle Erestor, but Erestor was able to jump over the weapon. This gave him the opportunity to drive his staff directly into the torso of Khamul. The direct contact with Erestor’s staff caused attacked to penetrate deeply into the Nazgul. There was a great screech emitted from the Black Rider as his essence was destroyed and his body vaporized.
The black steed also screamed at the defeat of its master. It tried to flee, but the citizens of Wood Shoals filled the evil creature with arrows killing it. Erestor lay still on the ground in a heap, but when he was rolled over his eyes opened. He had won!
It took assistance for him to stand and move. He instructed those around him to bring a thick bag and place all of the Dragon Lord’s possessions in it. On the finger of Khamul’s gauntlet Erestor found the Ring of Curufin, that had been stolen from his countryman, Glorfindel.
Glorfindel retired to his tents to rest and heal. In the days that followed word spread of the great battle. Many came to see where the Nazgul had fallen, and many of those also stayed to live in the camp. Huts and small houses began to replace the tents and the village of Wood Shoals emerged. Finally, Erestor was able to travel. He took the bag of Khamul’s armor and weapons and with the Ring of Curufin in his pocket he set out to return to the War.