After we had cleared out the outer city (and found one of the wraiths that had betrayed the defenders of the city by opening the gates so long ago) in a tower full of foul water, we now walked through a passage into a higher part of the ruins. I was in the company of my fine friends Hedgerow, Perilena, Heminhaw, Hroik and Finggers. We first came to a small courtyard with a balcony on the left. There was some kind of strange ritual going on. In the middle of the courtyard stood two groups of five goblins in a row facing each other, wielding spears and scimitars and screaming at each other. Might also be they were encouraging each other as they were about to join the battle they had heard going on a bit further down. At the far end, in front of a closed wooden door, a very large orc stood, undoubtedly their squad leader.
The others said I should walk up to the big guy and ask him if we could pass. They were going to hide and cheer me on. Well, great idea… I mustered my courage, but he became aggressive right away, saying that we came far enough. All the goblins stopped screaming and attacked our backline, while on the balcony orc archers appeared. I saw Finggers running up the stairs taking them on and followed, while, unfortuately, the goblins started to swarm all over the small hobbits. It was a chaotic fight, we had to retreat and regroup once, then I was running back to help them out, the big orc close behind me. Heminhaw lay down a lot of traps and Finggers was hiding in the shadows, becoming almost invisible and attacked them from behind. The goblins fell and we were now only facing their leader, but without his guards we managed to drop him.
Next to the door was a chest. Finggers picked the lock and inside we found a key to open that wooden door.
Behind the door we entered what looked like the former inner city. Now it lay all in ruins, with big crumbling walls, dry fountains and cobblestone walkways. But we were not alone here. Trolls and goblins wandered around or were gathered in small groups around fires. We had to fight them if we wanted to make any progress and venture deeper into the heart of Fornost. Some of the trolls wore heavy armor and sometimes the goblins ran away to call for help, but we we were not deterred and advanced nonetheless. We also found a couple of catapults that Finggers destroyed by making use of powder-crates the enemy had conveniently placed right next to them.
In a corner we encountered a particularly large troll who we took on. Seeing that he focused his attention on me, I stepped behind him, so that he had to turn around. I hoped to divert his attention from the rest of my friends that way, so they wouldn’t get hurt, as that troll was getting really angry and wildly swinging a heavy club which could have also hit the others. They were quite happy with this strategy and able to poke on him most of the time without him really noticing.
As we continued on, we walked under a bizarre, full red moon and had to disrupt the dinner of a group of trolls eating ants or maggots by a fire. Finggers tried some of those roasted ants. I know hobbits can eat anytime and almost anything, but this even got the other hobbits a bit dismayed.
Walking through Fornost under a full red moon
We finally reached the entrance of a large tower. Inside were what looked like cages with trolls trapped inside. The noise and smell of the enraged trolls was almost unbearable. Why were the trolls imprisoned, or were it just holding pens like for animals, as Hroik suggested? The way further up was blocked and we had to fight through a few of these trolls to reach several levers which in turn opened more of these cages. But finally, one of the levers yanked open a gate to a set of stairs leading upwards. Finggers scouted ahead. I had a hard time seeing him and he totally scared my beard off when he suddenly reappeared right next to me!
He reported trouble, a hallway full of trolls and goblins. They weren’t too difficult though and we got past them. One toppled over and broke a door leading to another stairway. Again, Finggers scouted ahead and this time he came back screaming. “There is a monster up there with no face!” he said. And it was true. It looked like a walking suit of armor, but there was nobody inside… Hedge immediately realized that this must be another one of the four wraiths, one of the commanders that that had thrown himself into a sword after his betrayal, thus becoming immortal or something and now rules over Fornost. He (or it) was standing in the middle of the room, smoke around him.
Again, Hedge told me to go ahead. An then, when we entered, it started talking. “Please, come in dwarf. I have been waiting for you.” Eh, did he know me? “You think to find Amarthiel here, do you?” That name again… The same the oathbreaker captain mentioned and that worried Mincham and Halbarad so much. Then he called forth trolls and small pale goblin-kind of people. A big fight broke out and I got confused by all these monsters that were suddenly rushing in on us. I don’t know where they all came from, maybe some side chamber. It was a trap, yes must be. They noticed our infiltration and set a trap for us.
Perilena lost her courage early in the fight, but the rest of us all fought back as good as we could. Heminhaw laying traps and shooting arrows, and Hroik doing some things with his stones. Finggers sneaked around somewhere, I didn’t see him much, only sometimes I caught a glimpse of him, standing behind a troll or the wraith. I half-blindly whirled around my axes and was encouraged by Hedge's beautiful singing. Well, at that moment I thought it was beautiful at least. Maybe it was not singing either, more like cries for help, but ha, useless in battle? No way! I lost track of the big boss, but then, when the last troll fell, he was somehow gone too… And on the small platform in the center of the room lay his smoking armour, and in it we found the hilt of another blade. I have two of them in my possession now, but I hate that things and it frightens me. Black-magic items, I don't want them, they give me the shivers and bad dreams too. I think we should bring them back to Esteldin as fast as possible, lest the wraiths may rise again.
There were also a few stoned trolls in that room. I wondered, maybe Gandalf was here before us? I had seen him stone a troll once, back at Thorin’s Hall, or was it just another one of my weird dreams? If Gandalf had been here, when was that, just days before we came, or years? Or was it the wraith’s wrath that befell them trolls? Anyway, we did make good progress, that is what matters. One of the next days we will try to go even deeper, or rather higher up? There was another exit in that tower, but we didn’t go through it yet.