12th Narvinye - Growing Sea Legs
I write now swaying in a cabin of the Evenstar. I feel the river roll beneath the boat, and the hammocks sway gently in unison. The ship creaks around us. We have many leagues to travel, and I am sure that the ways of the ship will become more natural as we progress.
It has been a long day; we were woken early, before dawn, by servants with hot water for washing, and we were soon at breakfast with Cillis. He informed us that we were to sail in 2 hours, and we all ate heartily. I feel that in the back of our minds was the thought that food on board ship would be meagre fare compared to Cillis's table.
Before setting off, there was much that happened that we did not understand. As we left for the ship, we meet Sergeant Amferen outside with a number of troops standing to attention, carrying halberds and wearing breastplates. It was clear that these were to be the troops that would accompany us into the northern wastes. Oddly Erethor made a show of inspecting these troops, clearly with the agreement of Amferen and Cillis. I did not know that the rangers held any military rank, and now that I understand the circumstances, I believe it unlikely. There was more to this, but we were unaware of it at the time.
We then headed to the dock with Sergeant Amferen and the soldiers, leaving Cillis and Erethor to follow with men bringing supplies and necessities; we were met at the ship by Kissanen. Work on the Evenstar is clearly continuing apace, and yet the sailors were called from their work and lined up for inspection, again by Erethor. We thought at the time that Erethor had acquired airs above his station. This was further implied as Erethor was piped on board.
And finally we came together, in this cabin, and Erethor explained his actions and his subterfuge. The inspections were held in order that he could see all the men together who would be travelling with us. It seems by some trick of his tracking abilities he was able to identify who had travelled upon the path that we took last night in pursuit of the arsonists. There were two; those that he then chose to help us move our packs and belongings onto the ship. There is no evidence that these men travelled the path last night, and were therefore involved, they may have travelled that way at another time, however it is enough to raise suspicions, and we must take care. There are parties intent on preventing our quest, and we must use all our knowledge and capabilities to combat them. It was thought unnecessary to prevent the two from joining us on the trip. If they prove honest such an action would have reduced our crew unnecessarily, if they are enemies, it would have alerted them to our suspicions. We will keep an eye on these two, and judge them by their actions. Moth added a degree of caution to the conversation. She mentioned that certain magic influences could affect large groups of people. This was an unpleasant thought.
We are trapped together on a ship, on route to dangerous shores, with soldiers and sailors in whom we must place our trust whether we wish to or no, and the ship seems so small After he had called us back onto deck for the departure, Captain Kissanen told us about the Evenstar with the delight of a proud parent. She is a single-masted sailing vessel adapted from a coastal patrol boat. Although a sailing ship, there is provision for up to 48 rowers should the need arise. (I personally hope that it does not.) The ship is 70 foot long, has a beam of 20 foot. There is space for 75 crew, and it will travel at a speed of 5 to 9 knots. I must remember to ask someone what part is the beam, and how fast a knot travels. Is it a kind of seabird? In addition, at the rear of the ship are two ballistae. They look incongruous, and I hope that they will not be needed. Indeed I pray to the Maker that our travel will be without incident.
The full complement of the ship appears to be 34 Sailors, Captain Kissanen, first mate, 20 Soldiers, Sergeant Amferen; Turibor, Yawinawen, Moth, Erethor and I; a total of 62 souls.
I watched the soldiers as Erethor inspected them outside the Old Kings House. I hope that Sergeant Amferen has made suitable provision for their safety. I saw the metal breastplates and remembered my days as a defender of Erebor, my homeland. Metal armour can be a blessing and a curse. It is strong in defence, however when the bitter northerly winds blow, it can draw the heat and eventually the life from a body. It is essential that the undershirt be thick and well quilted to prevent such disaster. As we journey north the temperature will drop dramatically. I hope Sergeant Amferen has taken such necessities into consideration. My worm hide may be bulky, but at least I shall not freeze.
Erethor spoke to me late yesterday concerning what we companions will need upon the journey. He has great knowledge about the north and the cold into which we travel. I trust him to organise all that we will need.
Erethor spoke with Cillis much before we left, and with Kissanen and Amferen also. I guess now that much of this related to our two watched sailors, however I am sure that some of the conversation with Cillis will have related to Starfire. Erethor is clearly unhappy about the need to leave his steed, and friend, behind.
There are odd things about the ship that bother me, many that I cannot put name to. The experience is very strange to me. For example, in front of me I see the cabin door. I am a little disconcerted that there are bolts on both inside and out. I guess, or hope, that it is to ensure that the door can be fixed securely from the outside in rough seas and bad weather, however it seems that our imprisonment, however brief, in the Dunnish lands has had a lasting impression upon me.
On deck this afternoon, as we sailed down the Gwathlo, the sky was clear, the breeze strong and steady. I whisper a prayer of thanks to Aule. On the fore deck we met with Turibor. He is as cheerful as ever; with ever a song on his lips, and his voice remains harmonious. We greeted each other as old friends. I congratulated him on his singing, and reminded him that, at our last meeting, I had agreed to teach him some Dwarven songs. He seems eager to learn. I feel sure that there will be plenty of time for such things upon the journey. Moth, always the enquiring mind, asked whether there are superstitions concerning singing on ship. It was a good question. I understand that sailors are often a superstitious folk. They are at the whim of the sea, and it is unlikely that any have the wisdom to ask for Aule's grace. Turibor agreed to find out for us; he has an easy way with folk of all sorts.
I investigated these sleeping quarters earlier this afternoon and made myself accustomed to these hammocks. They are very difficult to get into, especially for one of my stature, and it does not seem an appropriate way for a dwarf to sleep, although I am slowly becoming more easy with the experience. I admit that the practice was in the hope that I would not embarrass myself this evening. This proved beneficial, as I had little difficulty tonight. Erethor too had no difficulty, whereas Moth struggled greatly to climb in to her sleeping sling, and Yawinawin even hurt herself in the attempt.
And so the night is upon us. I hear the movement of sailors outside the cabin with unease. We travel on a ship that my companions and I have no skill with. We are chasing north into a cold harsh environment that only Erethor has experienced first hand. We know that there are forces bent on preventing our success; some may be many days ahead of us on the Black Swan, others may even be upon this very vessel. However my companions, my friends, are with me, Turibor is with us. I have confidence in Sergeant Amferen and Captain Kissanen, and above all my god is with us, and I feel his hand guiding and protecting his servant. Also I seem to have found my sea legs, unlike a few of my companions.
13th Narvinye - Ocean wide.
Today we left the river, and turned north. The ocean is huge. To our right, to the East, the shore is barely in sight, and West there is but sunlight on the waves. Even the white birds that followed the boat this morning have departed. We have passed a few rocks in the water, however it was the talk of sea monsters that was most disturbing.
We passed out of the river mouth shortly after breakfast (porridge from a barrel on deck, but peculiarly good in the fresh morning breeze). Turibor called us to the prow, and we saw the ruins of an old port upon the headland as we passed. There were people on the sand picking through the rocks and debris. Turibor called it Londare or something similar. It was a Numenorean port 1000 years ago. The name caught on a memory in my mind. I am sure that I remember some ancient story concerning a mithral vault. Clearly there is no time to pause and investigate now, however I hope that we may be able to return in quieter days, perhaps even upon our return journey.
Turibor seems to live for song. He has already learnt some of the sailor's shanties, and sung with them. My singing voice appears to be improving, as Turibor praised me for it earlier today.
Moth is still to find her sea legs. The waves seem to disturb her greatly, and she eats little.
We are learning the ways of the ship, where to lend a hand, and when to leave the sailors to their ropes. I am learning some new knots. Today we have passed the mouth of the Nen Llun. There are apparently white towers overlooking the shore, however we were too far away to see them.
The rain falls heavily. The sea is a deep green. We have seen no sea life, not even birds, for some time, and I believe the Captain is becoming worried.
More rain. No sea life or birds. There is something that the Captain fears.
24th Narvinye - Storm Fall
I believe that it is the 12th day of our voyage, however as I write this I doubt myself as to the date. Much has happened. It seems that the lack of birds and sea-life were the indicators that a great storm was coming. It is this that the Captain feared.
As it became clear that the storm would indeed be upon us, the ship was prepared. As the sky darkened, sails were rolled and everything was made fast. Barrels of fresh water were strapped tightly to the railings. The thunder rolled.
A nausea came upon us, and then the storm hit us hard. Waves crash over the ship, right over the top of us. Two crew were swept clean overboard into the black waters that raged around and over us. There was no way that they could be recovered; vision was reduced such that we could not even see them in the pounding waves. We scurried below, a prayer on my lips and waited in the cabin as the storm roared and the sea railed against us. It was several hours later that Captain Kissanen knocked upon our door. The fact that we heard the knocking brought us to the awareness that the storm had abated.
The Captain informed us that he had taken shelter in the bay of an island that did not appear on his charts and maps. Alas he also told us that a total of three sailors were lost in all, one from an unfortunate accident. He suggested that we go ashore and look around the island. The ship had taken some damage and the crew would need about a day to make repairs.
He has a hunch that the island is Himring. Yawinawen told us that Himring was the sight of a fortress in the First Age. Now that we have seen the fortress with our own eyes, indeed have met one of its early owners, there is little doubt that this is the case.
Before us were big cliffs and a small beach, with a promise of mountains beyond in the haze. Erethor believed he could see a tower, but I for one, could not.
Sergeant Amferen took us ashore in a small rowboat. He and 3 of his men remained on the beach, and under the direction of Moth and Erethor we started to ascend a steep path. I think that we all felt happy to have solid ground once more beneath our feet after the storm. On the beach we had found a well-seasoned bit of wood recently broken from something. It has been brought back to the ship, but I do not know whether it has any significance.
The climb was easy enough, although Yawinawin stumbled a few times and required a helping hand. At the top was a narrow ledge which I would have had great difficulty crossing had not Erethor carried my shield for me. We then scrambled up another scree slope, and, at the top, noticed the remains of a road that probably once lead all the way from the shore.
In front of us stood the ruins of a large keep. There is about 500ft of a central tower surrounded by the stubs of eight others. An outside staircase, covered in rubble, runs up to a door about 50ft up.
The cold breeze cut through our clothes as we stood high on the cliffs. Looking back we saw our ship, but there were no others in view. The mainland was a faint darkness on the edge of sight.
The door was made of Eog. Eog! Rarer than mithral. I recall something about Eog being easier to enchant than mithral. The door was clearly thick, and it was very large. At first we thought that it might have been quicker to break through the wall! Whoever placed this door here wanted to ensure that this tower remained secure for centuries. Erethor searched carefully for traps, yet found none. The door had three large hinges on the left, and Erethor and I agreed after some work, that it was undoubtedly locked. However, it had stood there for a very long time. Even if the tower beyond was empty, the door itself was worth a Kings ransom. Direct action was needed. I centred my thoughts, put my full force behind my wall shield and charged down the door. It had stood here long. The hinges gave way, and revealed a dark staircase leading down. Beyond the doorway the dust was thick, the air was stale and the odour was particularly foul.
And the door lies up there still. It will have to be reinstalled, or more likely transported back to Minas Tirith at the will of the King. Its bulk means that there is little chance of us getting it down to the beach, let alone onto the ship. And yet there was greater wealth to follow.
So we proceeded into the depths of the tower, Yawinawin having called her lights to aid us. There was water at the bottom, which rose to my chest. The bottom of the tower is a circular passageway. There are a number of doors, each with a few stone steps leading up. The area is covered in a moss that glows a little; it did so particularly under Yawinawin's light. Our first sight at the bottom of the stairs was a statue of a horned horse. We decided to investigate each of the doors. Each led to a single room. There were 7 in all.
Room 1. The door was wooden, and I bashed it down with ease. Inside was a music room. The ceiling was unusual, made of hexagonal sections at differing heights, and probably aided in some way the echoiness of the room. Inside were a very large gold harp, a harpsichord, a violin and a flute. Yawinawin was entranced. The Harpsichord was out of tune, however the harp sounded enchanting under her gentle caresses. The flute is made of mithral, and there is clearly something unusual about it. Yawinawin took it with her when we left.
Our presence attracted attention from a previous owner however. Whilst we stood in the music room Moth glimpsed movement, and a ghostly figure appeared in the passage. The shade was angry with us, and called for us to leave his house. He told us that this keep and this land were given to him by Morgoth. I told him that Morgoth was dead, hoping that the truth would help him depart this realm, and yet it merely angered him more. He came at me and tried to strike me, but being a phantom there was no physical blow. While I considered whether any of my weapons would have any effect, Erethor clearly came to a swift decision. His arrow unfortunately became embedded in me rather than the ghost. The shade disappeared at this point, and, bleeding profusely I called upon Aule to grant me his healing light.
Undeterred we proceeded to the next door. I barged it down only to find that it wasn't locked, and there was no resistance. Feeling a little foolish I looked into a room of shrubs and fountains. The cornices were mosaic and rather well done.
Room 3 was harder to enter, but the door was aged, and eventually it gave way. The room was a simple office, holding a desk, a wardrobe, and an ornately carved chair. There was an empty frame on the wall, and the remains of documents on top of the desk. The room spoke to me of age and decay. In the draw was a set of keys. I was impressed that the desk had survived so well that the locked draw needed to be forced open. There was a single white cloak in the wardrobe, the only item to have survived the centuries. Erethor took it with him.
Now we had keys, it seemed sensible to merely unlock the doors rather than destroy them. The next door, the 4th, we tried the lock, however Erethor received a shock, and was stunned and unmoving for a few moments. It seemed likely that it was necessary to use the correct key for each door. And so we worked our way back around the rooms we had already investigated, eliminating keys as we went. We reached the point where we had entered this dank cellar, and we started on the doors the other side.
The next door, call it door 7, was unlocked, and beyond, the room was completely empty.
The following, door 6 was also unlocked, and the contents of the room beyond proved to be of great interest. It had clearly been an armoury. Upon racks stood an array of weapons: 5 long knives of a kind I have seen elves use, a handaxe, clearly of good Dwarven make, a spear, a longsword and a bow, a longbow. The longbow was very unusual, as it appeared to have no string. The ghost appeared again, I grabbed the axe, Erethor loosed an arrow from the ancient bow, and the ghost vanished once again. Also on the racks were two normal sized shields. The size is not ideal for my fighting technique, therefore I did not consider taking one. Erethor was loathe to leave anything of value behind however, and has brought them back to the ship. The image on the shields is of an iron hand clutching a green jewel.
The next room was a training room. Around the top of the room was a frieze illustrating battles, and on frames stood 2 full metal plate suits of armour. I would estimate that each was probably designed to fit a humanoid of about 8foot in height, and this clearly spoke of Elves. Lastly, upon the back wall hung a sword, and yet none of us considered attempting to wield the weapon. It was a two handed sword, a great sword, and was over twice my height in length. Not even Erethor could have wielded it with any success.
And so we returned to room 4, this time with the correct key. Beyond the door lay a huge circular table surrounded by 7 upright chairs. Both chairs and table were made of eog, and upon the back of each chair was a runic inscription in mithral. In the centre of the table was a huge piece of angular rock. I could identify neither the rock, nor even the veins of metal that ran through it. The red traceries of the rock made the room glow. In the centre at the rear of the room was the bust of an Elf. Either side of the bust were paintings of the two trees of Valinor. The inscriptions on the chairs are likely to be names, but I did not recognise any of them. This room spoke of such wealth, I had difficulty comprehending. To make chairs of Eog and then decorate them with mithral was astounding, decadent beyond understanding.
Moth, wishing to see the nature of the room and its history, carefully removed a glove and touched the surface of this most expensive and unusual of tables. She tells me that the vision she received was of 7 Elves sat around the table in discussion. A council. When later we spoke to Turibor, the meaning became clear.
Before leaving the tower we locked all the doors that my shield arm had not destroyed. Upon our return we must let the King know of the tower. It must be protected. There is great wealth here, and an ill will in spectral form.
Later, over food on the Evenstar, Turibor told us tales of Himring. The name means Evercold in Sindarin. It was the northern boundary of ancient Eastern Beleriand, now sunk beneath the waters. The council that Moth glimpsed was the meeting of the 7 sons of Feanor. This explains the great wealth. Later the keep may have been promised as the spoils of war to the Easterlings, and it seems likely that it was a chief of the Easterlings whose ghost we witnessed. Whatever his allegiances in this world, I pray that Aule grant him rest in the world that comes after.
The new axe, or should I say the very ancient axe, lays before me. I have honed it and polished it. As mentioned it is of fine Dwarvish make. I will carry it with me and test the edge upon my next foe.
30th Narvinye - Ice bound
We have reached the bay, the peninsula, and the ice. It is very, very cold. There is no sign of the Grey Swan.
We entered the 100 mile long bay of Forochel, and it was not long before the floating blocks of ice began to trouble the ship. We skirted the coast until Moth was able to identify the peninsula that she recalled from the vision. It seems we have arrived. The ship is at anchor. We have discussed our next move with Kissanen and Amferen. We shall leave at first light, taking 2 rowboats. We will take 6 of the soldiers with us to protect the boats. As they are sea borne troops I must become used to calling them marines.
Over the last few days we have spent some time investigating the items we picked up in Himring. The axe I have mentioned; there is no enchantment laid upon it that we can identify, however it is well balanced and very keen. Erethor has tried the cloak, and it appears to allow him to blend into snow and ice with ease, although it seems to offer no warmth. The knives and shields are of excellent quality, again with no enchantment. The spear, bow and longsword have something more to them, and I would describe them as magical. The bow Erethor has employed, and he finds that he can loose arrows more rapidly than usual. The bow is clearly enchanted, the string is not simply very fine, it is invisible. From the inscriptions and the like, we believe the spear to cause damage by intense cold, as well as by its very efficient pointy tip. The longsword appears to be an ancient elven weapon made for the destruction of orcs, and in addition will allow the wielder the additional energy to make a flurry of attacks. Moth has taken the spear. Although her experience with weapons is limited, it seems she has more of a feel for polearms than the rest of us.