Back at Grams, I left Chucaro at her den to prepare for the difficult journey ahead. We were going to need help getting out of the Coldfells… we needed a group that was small enough to travel quickly and without being noticed, yet large enough to create the diversion we’ll need for this to succeed… I knew just the group that may make this plan work…
Chucaro met up with the group and me near a warg den outside the walls of Grams. Our group consisted of a couple of defilers, Rezinu and Akbarfer, some black arrows, Grimsniper and Shatterbones, and Talverd, a reaver… a diverse enough group to allow us to complete our task… or so I hoped.
I told Chucaro that the group knows about Wargiepoo and that we needed their help.
“So, what’s the plan?” Talverd asked in his normally blunt way.
“We need to get past the Coldfells and out of the Ettenmoors if we are to rescue Wargie. Glân Vrain is too heavily guarded, so the direct route is out of the question. There is a back way through, though, that is not as heavily guarded. That entrance is near Ost Ringyr,” I explained.
“So, it’s a suicide mission,” Talverd replied.
“I never said it wouldn’t be dangerous, but if you want out, now is the time to say it. This goes for everyone else, as well,” I said, looking each creep directly in the eyes.
“Don’t get your fur all ruffled up… I never said I wouldn’t do it… in fact, I actually relish this challenge,” Talverd responded, with a look of what can only be described as near-insanity in his eyes. The rest of the group also voiced their commitment to the mission. “So, then, how are we to accomplish this?” Rezinu asked.
“The plan is simple, really… the black arrows will provide cover fire and ranged assault while Talverd runs in creating some chaos. The defilers will hang back out of range and offer healing as needed. During this momentary chaos, Chucaro and I will attempt to sneak through the defenses and past the entrance. Once past, we should be ok from there. This is the first time I know of that anything like this has ever been attempted. I don’t know if we’ll succeed or not, but we have to try. The Rangers of Esteldin are the elite archers of the free people and are the best at what they do. In order for this to work, everyone has to hit them at the same time… we’ll only have one shot at this, so we need to make it work. I cannot stress how dangerous this will be, nor do I know if any of us will make it through, but I’ve been with you all for quite some time and I feel this group is the best to make the attempt.” I said.
“You and Chucaro just make it through alive… we know what we have to do,” Grimsniper replied.
“Yeah, we have the easy part,” Shatterbones added, with a hint of excitement detected in his voice.
“You two just find Wargie and bring her back… we’ll take care of getting you past the rangers,” Akbarfer said.
“You have no idea what this means to mean, nor will I ever be able to repay this debt to any of you,” Chucaro said in a relieved tone. “But when we get back with Wargie, I will be forever indebted to each of you.”
“Bah, such talk is unnecessary and is just wasting time… let’s get this plan rolling before we lose the cover of darkness.” Talverd interjected.
We made our way eastward, following the mountain pass to our north. We were in a small enough group that we were able to make our way to Grothum in good time and without much trouble… a small patrol of dwarves and a couple of bears served as quick tests to our battle skills and there was little resistance.
After reaching Grothum, Chucaro and I went down the pass to TR to scout a bit while the remainder of the group rested up and replenished their supplies. As we made our way to the base of the hill, I noticed a distinct absence of rangers nearby. As we edged further out, my suspicions were realized as I detected the scent of uruk archers nearby. So all the battle preparations from earlier were to overtake TR, which was a success. “This will make getting to Ost much easier,” Chucaro said, snapping me out of my thoughts. “If we’re lucky, we can hit the entrance before the free people have a chance to regroup and come back to TR with a massive force. We won’t have a very big window to accomplish our goal.” I nodded in agreement. “We’ll move out as soon as we get back to Grothum and get the others… then we will strike swiftly!” I could sense both excitement and anxiety in Chucaro… Wargie is her only young one and I could only imagine the turmoil she is going through. “Let’s head back and get the others. The time to act is near.”
As we approached Grothum, the remainder of the group met us at the entrance… all ready to move out. We took a path overlooking the broad area where TR was a fixture. We took our time, knowing we were close to Ost Ringyr and there would be scouts patrolling the area. We quickly dispatched the three scouts we came across without an alarm being raised… that would happen eventually when the bodies were discovered, but we planned on being long gone by that time.
It was still pitch black when we approached the entrance we were looking for. There were only three rangers guarding the archway, but we knew they were more than capable of dispatching a group 5 times their number or more… we had to be careful, yet swift if this were to succeed. “Ok, Grimsniper, Shattebones… remember, when you see Chucaro and myself sprint towards the archway, that is your signal to launch the volley of arrows. Then it’s up to you, Talverd… your diversionary run should buy us the time we need to get past them,” I said.
“Leave it to me, boss. You just concentrate on getting through the opening,” he replied… the moonlight glistening off his ragged teeth as he smiled evilly.”
“Are you ready, Chucaro?”
Nodding in anticipation, we moved out stealthily. It was all or nothing from this point forward. We approached 100 meters to the arch and didn’t sense anything nearby… this all seems too easy… something didn’t feel right, but I kept my focus on our surroundings and proceeded forward… still nothing at 75 meters… as we approached the 50 meter mark, I noticed something as we were about to start our sprint… another ranger hidden in a rocky ledge near the archway! Before I could stop Chucaro, she began her sprint.
“Damn!” I cursed to myself as I took off after her and went out of stealth to distract the ranger taking dead aim at her… it was still dark enough to not be seen by the rangers at the arch, but the hidden one changed his target as he saw me approaching… an arrow flew past my ear, narrowly missing me as I could feel the volley of arrows falling to the target zone. The ranger was only slightly surprised by the rain of arrows, but it was enough for his attack to miss… his mistake as my jaws tore into his throat. I didn’t have time to hit stealth as Talverd was already engaged with the rangers… I took off in a sprint towards the archway and prayed I would make it… I couldn’t see Chucaro and hoped she was already through. The sounds of an alarm could be heard in the distance but I was already near my target… a few more strides and I would be through! I heard Talverd cry out, but didn’t dare turn to see what had happened… I was at the archway! As I ran through, I thought we were home free! I was about to look around for Chucaro when I felt a sharp, searing pain in my left side… I was sent tumbling through some underbrush and into a rock wall… I felt my breath leave my lungs at the collision and everything suddenly went dark…….