Part One – Where Rivers Run with Gold
In high summer, Ulthaine and Polo are walking along the edge of Long Lake when they both hear the cry of a boy.
“Help! Please help! My father – his guards – they’re going to kill him! We’re going to Mirkwood and they’re going to kill him! He told me to run! Find help! Help!”
Running out of the long grasses along the sure comes a boy, the same boy they saw with the old man and three ruffians in Lake Town just a few days before.
Half guessing what must be happening, the fellowship ran towards the trees not far from the shore and discover the older man facing off against Jonar, Kelmund and Finnar. The three thugs are moving in on the old man with blades drawn. He is holding them off with a thick branch, but his breath is ragged and it’s clear that they will not have to wait long before his defences break and they finish him off.
Unbeknownst to the everyone else, the noise as drawn the attention of Logar, a Woodsman that is making his way to Lake Town after travelling with traders through Mirkwood. He watches, his bow drawn and raised.
Ulthaine and Polo’s attempts at intimidation fail and the Jonar turns to attack them, but Logar’s arrow takes him in the shoulder as he raises his dagger to strike. Jonar drops and the other two men flee towards Esgaroth.
The boy comes forward and throws himself in the arms of the man, sobbing and they both sinking to the ground together. Ulthaine turns his bow towards the Woodsman and there is a tense moment as the two bowman measure each other. Slowly they lower their weapons and Logar steps from the trees. He explains that he is but a traveller and was drawn by the sounds of combat.
The old man, whose name is Baldor, is a merchant that is planning on travelling across Mirkwood to the Anduin Vale with his son Belgo. He was once one of the richest merchants in Lake-town but lost a great deal, including his beloved wife, Halla, when Smaug attacked the town. Though others have found prosperity in the years since the death of the Dragon Baldor has not been so lucky, and so his plans are to start a new life on the far side of the great forest. Even with the blessing of the elves, and the darkness of The Necromancer but a horrible memory, Mirkwood can still be dangerous so Baldor hired anyone willing to protect him during the journey. It seems that Jonar, Kelmund and Finnar weren’t even prepared to travel to the eves of the trees before betraying him.
Now Baldor is at a loss, he has sold everything and needs to travel to Woodsman Hall right away, and he doesn’t know what to do…
In an act that would seal their fate more ways that they could possibly know, the companions offer to help Baldor and his son Belgo. They are joined by Logar the Woodsman who says that he is prepared to travel back through the eves to his homeland. Baldor thanks them and promises are coin or two for their help, once they reach the Forest Gate, and the more civilised lands of the Beorning folk.
Part Two – The Edge of the Woodland Realm
Once the companions are ready the caravan, well stocked with four ponies, makes ready to leave. Baldor explains that he has already arranged transport with the raft-elves to the Woodland Realm of the Elvenking. With that the company makes it’s way to the Forest River and, twilight a trio of rafts emerge from the evening mists. The elves greet the company warmly, they are fascinated by the boy Belgo, welcome their kinsman warmly, but eye the hobbit Polo with suspicion; the tale of Bilbo’s escape from their halls is still a subject of some consternation to the fair folk it seems…
Part Three – The Long Road
The elves leave the companions where the Enchanted Stream crosses the Elf-path. Even since the Battle of Five Armies and the foul Necromancer being expelled from Mirkwood by the White Council, the forest still remains a dangerous place for travellers. They are advised to stay on the path at all times.
They do, and make good passage through the intimidating darkness of the forest. Around them they see the eyes of the spiders, and their webs.
During the long uncomfortable days they learn more of Belgo and Baldor, of the loss of Baldor’s wife in Smaug’s attack on Lake Town and of their hope for a better life on the far side of the forest.
Mirkwood is hard on the best of travellers and over the days and weeks that follow they begin to lose heart as fatigue takes them.
The forest, with it’s eyes, seems endless.