After my recent diversions, I resolved to meet with Radagast. Gadaric Munce at The Forsaken Inn had told me I might find him at Ost Guroth, a fortified settlement to the east of the Lone Lands. Once there I reported to Frideric the Elder who, after checking my credentials, pointed me to Radagast.
My discovery of wights in Haragmar, the southern reaches of the Red Swamp, alarmed Radagast and he suspects the involvement of powers from Angmar. An aura of corruption had drawn Radagast to the Red Swamp but he needed help to uncover the source of this corruption.
‘The land itself is turning against us, and I know not the reason why. Even the shepherds are twisted shadows of their former selves. I speak of the bog-prowlers, those that tend to the trees. If there are wights, I fear there are other fell creatures haunting the swamp, as well.
“I can smell death in the moss, as if it was plucked from an ancient grave. This stench of decay and evil is not a thing from nature. I believe that the wights are to blame. Wights are the bones of the dead, stirred by fell spirits out of Angmar and Rhudaur. The wars here long ago made Haragmar as ripe for wights as the Barrow-downs in the west.
The sheer number of wights in Haragmar indicates the presence of gaunt-men, vile necromancers who serve the Dark Lord. In ages past, they dwelt in the Witch-realm of Angmar, but the White Council believed them all destroyed. Clearly, they were wrong. Only the strongest of the gaunt-men, the Gaunt-lords, have the power to summon the spirits of the Shadow Realm. The war-singers carry the Sigil of their Gaunt-lord. But who is he?
This land was the site of many battles in the past. Some say the swamp takes its name from the blood of fallen Men that stains the earth red. But my knowledge of the swamp’s history is limited.
I do know of a man named Aric, a wise man of the Eglain, though only by reputation. He is a Stone-speaker, a scholar who studies the stones and collects knowledge from their markings. Aric knows much of the local lore.
Travel to him and ask for his help. He currently dwells south of here, beyond Talath Gaun, down in Harloeg. He may provide us with the knowledge we seek”.
So, I travelled south through a desolate land until I reached some ruins where I found Aric. He told me that the dead might hold the answers I sought.
“You can learn many things from the dead. But there is one troublesome shade called Emelin that resists all attempts at communication. Perhaps you may succeed where I have not. Emelin is…difficult. He is bound by pride and deems the living beneath contempt. If you can prove yourself to him, this might grant enough status in his eyes to lend you aid. Beware when you speak to him. He will try and win your trust with pleasant words, then send you off to your doom. You will find him within the ruins”.
Of course, Aric was right. I found Emelin and he promptly challenged me to prove myself against two of his warriors. Easily done! And now, he is happy to talk to me.
Emelin told me about his failure to protect one of the River-maidens and the curse it brought down upon him and his men. He agreed to help me if I accomplish a task for him.
“This land was corrupted by the war which raged here. Blood, much blood, spilled into the springs of the Lady, until all became red, and the springs became a swamp. The Lady, whose name is not remembered, became the Red-maid, a creature lost and corrupt. Ivar the Blood-Hand came not long ago and awakened her again and claimed power over her. Now Ivar is a greater threat than ever he was.
You must strike against him to restore the balance between Man and Nature. Until the Red-maid be redeemed or destroyed, my brethren and I are doomed to this wretched state.
First, you must travel to the west and destroy the wight-lord Brudhraw and his soldiers. They serve the Blood-hand and must be destroyed”.
I was lucky to find two companions within the ruins who were looking for adventure. I promised them any loot we could find if the helped me to defeat Brudhaw. As one was a Champion and one a Minstrel healer, we made a mighty team and soon accomplished our task. I returned to Emelin.
“The wars corrupted this land, drowning it in the blood of innocents. The Lady drowned as well, choking on death and evil while we did nothing to save her. Twice we failed our duty and seven-times cursed were we by the one the Elves called Iarwain Ben-adar.
When the Lady became the Red Maid, she brought further ruin to her own home, to the land and to the beasts. She was terrible, and we dared not face her. When there was no more living blood to spill, she slept…until Ivar awakened her once more.
That is my sad tale. Now go, return to Radagast and speak to him of this secret past. Remember our fate, Seolferwulf, and do not fail in thy duty”.
Radagast told me of how two of the Eglain, Elsa and Eriac had entered Agamaur, the northern marshes of the Red Swamp to fight the evil. The Eglain knew of a passageway to the area, the Red Pass, and Radagast said he would lead us there. Radagast still believed the Eglain to be alive, and I had the hope to believe him.
Radagast led us through the Red Pass, and we saw the poisonous marsh Agamaur. At least in Haragmar it seemed like a few things could survive, like the insects. Northward, the Red Maid’s influence was much more complete. Even the trees had become evil and untoward in the blood-red water.
There was hope, however; as we defeated the giant trees, small animals came forward to talk with the brown wizard. He spoke to them as if talking to children. It sees that Radagast is somewhat of a Lore-Master and has a keen affinity with living creatures. I think I would like an animal companion, a fierce wolf perhaps. Anyway, soon, we had a small parade of animals following our fellowship.
After slaying a company of wights guarding the ruins, which Radagast believed the lost Eglain to be holding, we found ourselves faced with a heavy iron gate. Radagast used what seemed like magic and the gate raised. Inside the ruins a single shade stood watching our approach. The Eglain were not yet found.
Dannasen, the forsaken shade, wished to help us, but his commander-after-life had allied with The Enemy. Dannasen had no power to betray his commander, even if it meant killing innocent Eglain. He hinted to Radagast that if his dead commander could be banished, Dannasen and his company of accursed shades could help us defeat Ivar.
Neven, the wight lord was found just north of the hold Dannasen was protecting. He sat on a makeshift throne surrounded by wights, and like Dannasen, found himself amused by our approach. His humour only improved when I challenged him for the release of the shades.
And defeat him we did. I commanded our fellowship to group in a tight formation. The two vile wights that accompanied Nevin were felled by our champion while I occupied Neven. Then we disposed of him.
We returned to Dannasen, and the veil of his curse lifted. He could not believe he had been following a wight’s orders for the untold years. It was time, he said, to rise up now that he saw the light of hope.
The shade shouted to his companions-in-death, and immediately the whole area arose with a force of ghostly heroes. They charged outward and led us towards Garth Agarwen, where the gaunt lord would be found. The sight of following the cursed shades into battle to fight The Enemy filled me with such great hope. They were unstoppable, and wights fell before our mortal blades could reach them.
After the din of the ghostly blades vanished into the background, we found ourselves surrounded by Eglain and Radagast. It seemed that during our battle with Neven, Radagast had come upon the two lost Eglain and their company.
I spoke with Elsa briefly, and she said that Ivar was far too powerful. He controlled the wights, the water, and even the trees. She felt that with Radagast at her side we might have a chance, but Ivar was not the source of evil.
We strode towards the gates of Garth Agarwen, and as Elsa had predicted the water rose up against us again. Radagast called a halt to Ivar’s weak manoeuvres and summoned the gaunt lord forward. Ivar appeared and tried to use foul magics to stop us where we stood. Radagast smirked as he was impervious to the Angmar-magics.
Ivar said “Who calls me forth? Have you come to sacrifice yourself to me like the others? Ah, the fool in brown! Agamaur is lost to you as is the River-maiden, Radagast!”
Radagast responded “Cease your prattling tongue. You hold no sway over me! I trust in the Secret Fire. You have no power over me! Methedan luith!”
Ivar screamed at this “Aaah! Enough of this! I shall waste my time with you no more!”
It was a battle like none I had ever seen. Radagast called lightning from the sky while Ivar called evil spirits from below. The gaunt man was the first to cry out in pain, and ran away. He claimed the Red Maid would have us soon enough, but the wizard’s final words were stronger in heart.
And so we returned to Barad Dhorn – the new forward Eglain encampment. The wizard thanked us for the help. He said he would be staying with the Eglain for sometime to help combat the now known threat but he knew our paths would cross again, in some form.
After a brief respite, I met Radagast at his new study in On the way in, Elsa and her spectral companion, Dannasen, both thanked me again for my help. The battle lines were now fully drawn in the Lonelands. Radagast thanked me with little ceremony and few words. He knew our paths would cross again, in some form, and I knew that with the wizard behind the Eglain, the white light of hope was shining strong across the red swamp.
I had agreed to carry packages from Elsa back to Ost Guruth, as I was heading there anyway. These I delivered to Hana and Frideric. The latter told me that I was now considered an Ally of the Eglain and that I could always call on their aid.
And now, its back to the Bird and Baby. I am tired and bruised; those trees in the Red Pass could give a might wallop and I had taken a few. I foresee hot baths and massages, beer and pies in my immediate future.