Friends in Dark Places

Word had come, spontaneously, to Durrow through an unsigned letter. The letter warned about a transport of slaves moving through the region from Dol Guldur to Carn Dum. Atanamir had taken an obvious interest in the matter, and asked for anyone that could to come and help him put down the caravans before they reached Angmar.

A small group came north to lie in wait for the caravan. There were more than a few concerns about the authenticity of the letter, and most expected a trap. When the lightly guarded waggon came into their sight, it reaffirmed their concerns. Perhaps more concerning were the two hulking wargs that skulked in the tracks of the waggon. Despite Feygil's, Eruviel's, and Mathdor's efforts to strike the wargs first, it seemed they expected the attack and easily avoided their assault. Though initially distracted, the orc guards turned on the group after their position was given away. They proved to be little challenge, however, and were easily dispatched. The wargs kept their distance, not inclined to fight despite the constant attacks on them. When the last orc fell, one of the wargs howled in calling, but nothing answered. They then fled to the east.

Inside of the waggon appeared to be just what they were told; Rows of female slaves, chained and in transport. Much to their surprise, however, the women already knew they were coming. They informed them that there were whispers among the slaves about the transport being ambushed. They went on to tell them that there was a second waggon of men, several hours ahead of them, and that one man among them held message to give them.

Another disturbing piece of the puzzle was the presence of the Four Lords in Dol Guldur. As Cwendlwyn and Maludir questioned what the wargs hoped to do, one of the slave women, Bryn, told them that the wargs belonged to the High Priestess, Nênanî. Their howls were meant to trigger her warriors: Women driven mad and made into violent warriors. Bryn was meant to be one of them, but she resisted the call. After all the information was relayed, Feygil escorted the women back to Trestlebridge while the rest pressed on after the second waggon.

They came upon it just before the pass into the Ram Duath, and crafted a plan to strike at it. Feygil distracted the overseer, a massive female orc, while the others dealt with the rest. During the fight, Eruviel deftly unhitched the horses from the waggon from afar. Though most of the orcs went down easily, the overseer was another matter. Through everyone's combined efforts, she eventually fell, though. Just as the battle came to a close, the female orc called out for the wargs, who watched from a nearby cliff. Instead of waking the prisoners, the wargs simply turned and left instead, refusing to answer the command of an orc. Feygil swiftly put the orc out of her misery.

Sage quickly opened the waggon after it seemed the danger had passed, and, as before, the slaves sat inside, as promised. They, too, knew someone was coming to free them, and were quite eager to be unchained and out of the waggon. One man, an irascible Dunlending, spoke more loudly than the others, and was also the one to bear the message for them: "When the thaw comes, the Flame of Carinel will rise over the Anduin in the shadows of Celebrant."

Atanamir seemed baffled by talk of the Flame of Carinel, what he knew as just a tale. In the tale, the Flame remade the body of Carinel, but at the price of sacrificing her own sister, who later sought revenge. When the Dunlending described the man who gave him the message, Sage was convinced it was Pharazanû. Though his motivation remained unclear, it seemed either a warning from him, or a cry for help.

Feygil and Margaret tended to the two slumbering women in the caravan, and soon they led the men away and back to Trestlebridge to reunite with the women. With the coin found on the overseer, the now former slaves had the means to return to their homes.

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