We embarked last Saturday on Book 1 of a mighty fantasy epic, set in the Second Age of Middle Earth. We were a party of Elves and Dwarves, so there was a certain amount of tension intrinsic to the makeup of the party, particularly as the Elves were of mixed origin and old enough to remember a number of awkward moments like the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, the fall of Doriath, the attack by the sons of Fëanor on the Havens of Sirion...
Our two Dwarves were Thrandin son of Fundin(ladyofastolat), a great dwarf-hero of Durin's folk, and veteran of the great Dwarf-Orc battle of Mount Gundabad, and Thrár, son of Thangrin, a young Dwarf from a family from Belegost. Belegost dwarves, having had most of their original home fall into the sea, seem to be rather low status dwarves at the moment, and are somewhat penniless.
I was playing a Fëanorian Noldo, a smith named Angruin. I was born in Valinor and had been in the service of Maedhros son of Fëanor until his tragic death. Then I went to Eregion with Celebrimbor, where I, ahem, really had very little to do with Annatar Lord of Gifts, honestly, I barely met him. The fact that I was in Moria delivering a Ring of Power to the dwarf king Durin when Annatar/Sauron attacked Eregion and thus was one of the few survivors was pure coincidence.
With that background, I was quite prepared for most of the rest of the party to really not want to talk to me at all, but it turns out that a lot of water has flowed under a lot of bridges since the First Age. The dwarves were too young to remember me as anything but a helpful Dwarf Friend, and of course as a representative of Eregion, I was already friends with Thrandin. The young Noldo Thorofin ( chainmailmaiden) was young and dashing enough that he didn't seem too worried about my dubious past, (I tried not to mention the Havens of Sirion, where I really hope I didn't kill anyone too closely related to him...).
The Sindarin lady from Doriath, Sirithglor (king_pellinor) gave me some pretty odd looks to start with, but after I explained that deliberately retaining Silmarils that belong to other people when you've been repeatedly asked to hand them back is just a very stupid thing to do and asking for trouble, and she explained that she felt killing people was wrong, we seemed to be able to work together well enough. The nice thing about Sindar is that they are ever so forgiving. And let's face it, somewhat taller than they are bright, half the time, but we shall let that pass.
We also had a Falathrim member of the party, one Thingolodh of the Falas (pwibethran) , a friend of Cirdan's who was one of the First Elves that awoke at Cuiviénen. He had no belly button. Fortunately, he was so old he had apparently had a nice long nap and not noticed the whole Havens of Sirion Put to The Sword by Fëanorians incident, so he was a perfectly pleasant travelling companion.
In short, there were a few awkward moments, but I think I got away with mentioning the wars... ( The rest of the party also told me out of character that they felt that I was again playing ' your typical character type'. I am not sure how to greet this alarming news. Next time we roll characters, I resolve to play someone who is Jolly. Angruin is anything but jolly. His name is practically 'angst' ).
Bacchus, (Thrár), unlike most of the rest of us, he had not previously (out of character) had much interest in Middle Earth, so our fiendish GM philmophlegm suggested that he read the Silmarillion as preparation. I am still rather delighted by the fact that Bacchus dutifully and carefully read the entire thing, making lots of notes about place names and locations - then suddenly, almost at the end, the whole of Beleriand was downfallen, and all of his maps and plans were rendered vain! Somehow this seemed terribly appropriate.
Anyway, that's the Dramatis Personae.
Gil-galad (I've always wanted to meet him! ) and Elrond had a mission for us. They wanted us to investigate what was going on in the East, to look for allies lest Sauron return, and also have a look and see if we could spot him stirring things.
Here I am on the way, walking woefully through the ruins of Ost-in-Edhil, among the hollies, bluebells and rushes that have grown up around the banks of the Glanduin:
Only I hear the stones lament them: deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone.
Apart from me, that is. I was soon gone too, on the road East through the great and completely unsinkable dwarf-kingdom of Moria, where I greeted my many dwarf-friends with great pleasure.
Soon we were over the Anduin and starting to explore the nearer reaches of the distant East, where we visited the Iron Fist Dwarves in their mighty city. You couldn't see it too well approaching in daylight, but when the sun went down and the dwarf-lights went on in the windows it was truly spectacular. I took a picture.
The Iron Fist Dwarves were extremely pleased with themselves and their Iron Fists. In fact, their king was extremely bumptious, and was terribly rude to poor Thrandin, who was only attempting to forge diplomatic links with other dwarf-kingdoms on behalf of King Durin. We all looked rather embarrassed and didn't know what to say.
Then King Motsognir of the Iron Fists decided to have a go at poor young Thrár, the Belegost dwarf and called him a 'beggar of Belegost!'
I was utterly outraged by this. Thrár's heroic ancestor Azaghal rescued my lord Maedhros and all the rest of us with his heroic defence against the dragon Glaurung at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears! I wasn't going to hang around and listen to Azaghal's impoverished offspring, not to mention a hero of Gundabad, being badmouthed by some petty dwarf who didn't even realise how primitive his technology was by Noldor standards!
I did the thing where you stand up and suddenly become VERY VERY TALL, and the room all goes dark! And I told him all about the Nirnaeth and exactly how many pieces Sauron would carve a single foolhardy Dwarf-king into if he went around with that attitude.
Fortunately I rolled my dice well, and so did Thrandin, (holding onto his temper admirably under the circumstances). King Motsognir turned out to be the kind of bully that is impressed when you stand up to him and Thrár got to sing the new song he had just composed about Azaghal to the assembled multitudes of the Iron Fist Dwarves. They were very impressed, and I record it here (with permission) in honour of the noble Dwarves of Belegost.
My history tells of dwarves strong, true and brave:
How Azaghâl, fine ancestor of Thrár
Led mighty Belegost far north to save
The bless’d of Aulë and Ilúvatar.
Their lands in Arda Melkor sought to rout:
Fëanor’s sons fought somewhat, then collapsed.
Our Khazâd helped them find a safe way out,
Though Hurin (quite brave –for a man) got trapped.
Dwarf hero Azaghâl held harm at bay
Our future life in Arda at his cost,
While Elves and Men could bravely run away.
ALL HAIL!! The mighty dwarves of Belegost!
Bad Ulfang’s men fight sons of Bór instead
Of count’ring wicked Angband’s northern gains.
Flames spurt as Gothmod swings at Fingon’s head
Those flames are white for they are Fingon’s brains
The last hope: Azaghâl of Belegost
By (almost) smiting Glaurung, saves the day.
That dragon-belly-knife-stroke was his last,
But Men and Elves could safely run away.
Though this tale tells of deeds of former days,
Its mortal hero’s blood lives on in us.
Brave heirs of Azaghâl hold harm at bay
So joyful life in Arda is not lost
Dwarves, elves and men: drink, sing and music play!!
ALL TOAST!! The mighty dwarves of Belegost!
By Thrár, son of Thangrin
(Dwarf of Belegost)
The sun came out around now, and some of us sat outside in the sun.
I like the way the sparkly shoes and the skirt and the geranium all go together in the sunshine.
This has got really long, and I've only got to about Sunday. Next post this way