The Devourer

A letter arrived at Ravenhold, carried by Atanamir's raven, Auvryndar, begging for assistance in the Old Forest. It was covered in blood, and suggested that Atanamir couldn't hold out for much longer on his own. The Wayfarers quickly gathered their things and hurried out to help him.

Auvryndar guided them through the forest to Atanamir, but the forest itself was in an odd state; There were very few signs of any of the normal wildlife. They eventually came upon the pond in which Atanamir was known to train and meditate at, and were sickened by the sight of countless emaciated corpses of creatures, such as bears, insects, and wolves. A heavy, cold dread hung over the scene.

When they finally came upon Atanamir, he seemed unharmed, much to the confusion of his companions. His words made little sense to them, however, claiming Oendir to be a liar for his absence, and that they were too late to save himself. Feygil attempted to approach him to smack the sense back into him, but she was entangled by a foul magic, and pulled beneath the surface of the water where Atanamir stood. He watched in sinister delight as she writhed and struggled to get to the surface, while explaining Atanamir would have no interest in returning with any of them - The trust between them was false, and all would abandon him anyway. Feygil was eventually released, and suddenly the forest's trees lurched, spiders watched from overhead, and wolves howled. Atanamir told them to run if they could, and allowed the forest's anger to finally be unleashed on them.

The group ran desperately from all the dangers of the Old Forest. Gaelyn was bitten by one of the many snakes that pursued them, and weakened quickly from the venom. Though they made their escape, Atanamir promised he would come for them and expose the darkness in their hearts.

Once out of immediate danger, Mannati explained what he knew of the situation. Atanamir was being controlled by a fell "spirit", constructed by Calmacil and forced upon Atanamir as a measure of control. Although it was only one entity, it was created through countless spirits, fused by the worst emotions of rage, pain, paranoia, and fear. The longer it had a hold on Atanamir, the longer it would feed on him, killing the host slowly while strengthening itself. In the meantime, Oendir produced a music box that Atanamir had said would help if something was to go wrong. They determined it to be a map, and it marked four specific locations. Though they agreed he wouldn't have treated the information so particularly if it wasn't important, they expressed concern over the uncertainty of it all.

The first map point The Wayfarers decided to explore was the closest: In the northern stretches of the Shire. They stopped to rest in the nearby town of Overhill, and were startled by the rumors of a monster that came to steal the townsfolk in the night. They were particularly moved by Aster Boffin, the young wife of one of the town's bounders. She explained that her husband was taken by the monster, and begged desperately for them to help look for him. They were only allowed to stay in the town after agreeing to investigate.

When night descended, they staked out the town while the villagers were safely tucked away in their homes. To their horror, a huge spider came from the forest to the north of the town, seeking anything that moved around there. Though most remained hidden from it, Beacher stumbled out a bit too far, and the spider pounced on him. The others immediately came to his defense, and the spider fled when it became wounded. With Beacher not seriously injured, they pursued the spider.

It led them to a secluded glade deep in the heart of the forest. Though it was likely once a beautiful place, spider webs covered it from the top to the bottom. Undeterred, but on their guard, they proceeded into the glade. The spider was not immediately seen, their attention taken to a glowing, hollowed out tree. Upon examination, a beautiful, glowing stone was found inside of it. Atanamir appeared on the cliff above them with the spider, explaining that the stone was a rare, but naturally occurring formation of elemental magic.

While Atanamir was explaining the stone, and taunting them, the others found Aster's husband, still alive within a cocoon. He was close to regaining consciousness, much to everyone's relief, but Atanamir's ire was provoked when he felt his words were not being taken seriously. To make an example to them, the Bounder was immediately devoured by Atanamir's fire, burning him to death in front of them. Shocked and horrified, they cried out, cursing Atanamir, but Atanamir maintained that The Wayfarers let people down constantly. Letting down one hobbit woman they didn't even know shouldn't be a problem to them. He left them with that sentiment, and it was a hollow victory in taking the stone.

After returning to Bree-Land, some more answers came from Idhror, who had recently returned from Moria. He produced an ancient, broken blade he had recovered there, and explained that the stone they had found in the Shire, along with the others that were marked in the map, could give the sword the power to kill the Devourer. Having no real other options, they continued their search.

Some expressed surprise that Atanamir had not returned to Durrow as claimed he would. It remains uncertain why that was.

They sought out the next stone at the edge of the Trollshaws, just beyond the Last Bridge. As they came upon the bridge, however, Atanamir was there waiting for them. He produced the two other stones that they had not pursued yet, and told them that they were wasting their time. Some tried to call out to get through to him again, but others, namely Beacher and Gaelyn, felt it wasn't going to work, and swiftly attacked him. Taken off guard, Atanamir sustained fairly serious injuries from the assault, and dropped one of the stones. Beacher and Gaelyn were thrown from the bridge and into the water in a burst of magic, giving Atanamir room to back away. Another distraction came when explosions were set off near Ost Guruth, and Atanamir warned that they should hurry if they wanted to help the injured there. In the confusion, Atanamir slipped away and into forest. The group decided to split ways - One to seek the stone and pursue Atanamir, the other to return to Ost Guruth to provide assistance.

The Ost Guruth group was surprised upon their return, finding the townsfolk shaken, but unharmed. The kegs of black powder were set strategically around their walls so the stone would block most of the impact.

The other group found only a blood trail in their pursuit of Atanamir, that led away from where the stone should be. They decided to seek the stone instead of braving the forest. They came upon it with no further conflict, buried in the ground beneath a blossoming tree.

After another brief respite in Bree-Land, the Wayfarers decided to seek Atanamir out directly, and followed his trail north into Taur Gonwaith, and into an immense cave there. Although they didn't find Atanamir, who was likely still heavily injured, they came across a standing mirror in one of the large chasms. When they came too close to it, the shadows struck out against them, and they were rendered unconscious.

Though each of them experienced something different while unconscious, they all encountered a strange boy in their dream that resembled a scarless, child-Atanamir. The proved to know little of the current circumstances, though he expressed a want to get out of the mirror. When he showed them the mirror, they saw no reflection, but their unconscious forms on the other side. Then, a manifestation of their darkest fears arose, and they could only escape by either fighting it away, or accepting it.

They awoke on the other side afterwards. Though the child was still stuck in the mirror, only Hal saw him from the other side. He reached into it, and was given the last stone. With all the stones in their possession, they returned to Bree-Land to complete the sword.

When they returned to Taur Gonwaith with the reforged Dragonfang, the cave was no longer abandoned. The giant spider from the Shire attacked them before they got far in. Although it gave them some trouble, it began to flee to the mirror chamber when it was injured.

They pursued it, and came upon it by the mirror, along with an emaciated, physically weak Atanamir. He fondly pet the spider, then promptly killed it, putting it out of it's pain. As the Wayfarers advanced on him, the shadows made their return, rooting their arms and legs into place. He appealed to them once again to open their eyes to all of the lies and darkness that they hid, becoming frustrated when no one seemed to take him seriously again.

As they tried to have him recall the real Atanamir again, a flicker of him came through. He looked around and desperately asked for his father and Oendir, becoming upset again when neither of them were present. Beacher continued to push him, and he eventually pushed the spirit from his body. While Idhror, Feygil, and others were dealing with stores of black powder, Beacher used the Dragonfang to slay the Devourer.

Atanamir was freed with that, albeit physically and severely weakened from the ordeal, and was taken back to Bree-Land to recover.

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