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Reaping (July) 14th
Behind enemy lines, leading the frightened villagers away from Gealand where they were held captive by the forces of Harad. The group of 75 villagers trudges its way toward the unsure safety of the hills, as fast as the motley group can move.
Adara, Noctem, and Rhiannon, have now recovered somewhat and with the aid of the healing powers of Roland and Noctem the group is able to recover fully. (See 1 on Map below) Though tired from the rescue the mercenaries know that there is little time for rest, as the Harad army is surely on their heels. As the ragged group makes it into the hills proper they are met by another 20 of the resistance fighters, that have come to aid their escape. The resistance leads them south westerly deeper into the hills. Scouts are sent out, the group is able to make it another three miles before a rear scout returns and tells them what they feared. The group of nearly 50 Harad pursues them and will overtake them in less than an hour. (See 2 on Map below)
The group of warriors gather in an attempt to form some type of plan, many suggestions are offered, but unfortunately there is too little time and not enough warriors to implement many of those plans. There is talk of separating the villagers in hopes that it will confuse the forces of the Harad, and even if it does not some villagers escaping is better than none. Noctem and Adara volunteer to use their skills as trackers to obscure the trails of the split groups, but that is not enough. Roland in a moment of insight offers an idea. He will attempt to lead the Harad off by creating a false trail. Rhiannon and Roland accompanied by 11 of the resistance fighters, will walk their horses, making their group appear larger than it is and continue along the same heading that the group was going. The resistance fighters will split the fleeing villagers into three groups and lead them off in different directions. The old and infirm villagers, along with the family of Roland will be led to a hidden canyon and will await the return of Roland's group. Elonan realizes that this is a good plan but there is still not enough time to get away. Something must be done to delay the pursuing forces. A plan comes to mind and although dangerous it should delay the group of Harad horsemen somewhat. Elonan will use his magical cloak to fly, invisibly back toward the Harad. Once over the pursuing horsemen he would attempt to encase the group within a web. The plan is set and ready to put into action Roland suggests another grand idea. The group leading the false trail shall drop their numbers by 2 at random intervals and the Harad will find themselves pursuing an ever smaller group until they follow nothing at all. Its a good plan, and hopefully it will work well.
The plan is now set to motion, Noctem and Adara set about obscuring the tracks of the fleeing villagers. Roland takes his group and lays the false trail toward the south. Elonan utters the words that will make him unseen, and soars off toward their pursuers. Elonan reaches the group of soldiers, moving more slowly now in the rougher terrain. Upon seeing the many archers, Elonan decides that a shield spell would be in order, it will help deflect the arrows that will surely come his way. Weaving the incantation, the web sprays forth from his hands covering the Harad in the sticky strands. (See 3 on Map below) As the magic that kept Elonan invisible fades, he turns to the west and heads toward the assigned meeting spot where he will join up with Roland's group. Unfortunately not all of the Harad, are encased in the web, and many arrows hurl through the sky toward the mage. One finds its mark and grazes Elonan. He mutters a thanks for the shield and speeds off through the sky.
Meanwhile Noctem and Adara continue to disguise and cover the tracks, paying special attention to the group of villagers that will be led to the hidden canyon. Roland is making his way through the valley creating the false trail. Upon reaching a particular narrow spot in the trail Roland decides to make use of his powers granted by Heimdal and brings forth a wyverns watch to guard their passing and to hopefully delay the pursuers further. The Harad soldiers reach the spot where the group stopped to form their plans. The forces spit into three, the largest group continued along the main track left by Roland and Rhiannon the other two began to search around the area.
Roland is now able to see his pursuers and blows his mighty horn. (See 4 on Map below) The two groups searching the area hear the horn and turn their attention toward Roland's direction, thundering off toward their prey. Roland and his group throw caution to the wind and double up on the horses in an attempt to gain distance from the soldiers. Roland chuckles to himself in thought of what will happen to the first of the group that crosses the wyvern watch. Back at the area where the Harad split up, five of them still search the edges of the valley for tracks and manage to see the trail that Noctem and Adara were attempting to hide. Noctem and Adara wait quietly with weapons drawn at the top of the hill as the five Harad gain sight of the trail and slowly move toward their position. Halfway up the hill Noctem calls upon the plants for aid and 3 of the Harad are entangled within the suddenly writhing plants. (See 5 on Map below) The 2 in the lead are met by Adara charging down the hill to meet them and a hail of arrows from Noctem. Noctem in a rare good shot skewers the first and he drops dead in his tracks. Adara crushes the brains of the other with her sturdy morning star. The remaining 3 are quickly put down, their cries of alarm going unnoticed by their comrades chasing down Roland's group. Noctem and Adara make their way back to the group of villagers at the secluded valley.
As he soars to the rendezvous Elonan realizes that at his current rate of he will not be able to make the meeting spot with Roland and uses his cloak again to fly at utmost speed toward the rendezvous. Elonan comes to rest on the ground just as Roland with his now smaller group barrels into the clearing. Elonan quickly jumps on his horse and the group is off again. (See 6 on Map below) The group, now comprised of Roland, Rhiannon, Elonan, and one resistance guide are still pursued by a group of at least 15 of the Harad who are gaining. The situation looks grim for our heroes indeed.
Here ends excerpts from the Journal of Elonan...
Reaping (July) 14th Cont.
Roland, Elonan and Rhiannon with their Angharad guide move through the growing gloom of the forest, for the first time realizing that they have been on the move all day and that their horses cannot be run anymore or they risk ruining them. At least the Harad following them have to be just as tired. The diversions seem to have worked, now they just have to shake off this last group and make their way to the hidden valley. After consulting the Angharad fighter on his knowledge of the territory, he recommends continuing on this trail at whatever pace they can manage until darkness, then backtrack a bit and head totally off the trail leading the horses. The three members of Thorn all agree with this plan, since none is eager to fight at nearly 3 to 1 odds after the long day of flight. (See 7 on Map below) After the party puts the plan into action, Rhiannon lags back at the rear of the party for about an hour before catching up the the group. There is no sign of pursuit, the Harad have been lost in the darkness. Wearily the four lead their horses several more miles before making camp. (See 8 on Map below)
Reaping (July) 15th
Early the next morning Roland's group sets off leading their weary horses and are able to reach the back entrance to the hidden valley by sunset that eve. (See 9 on Map below) The whole small valley was as beautiful and serene as could be wished for and had obviously once been part of a druid grove. A small spring fed a pond and streamlet which had carved the gullies on both sides of the canyon. By accident or design neither path could be found unless you happened upon them directly or made a treacherous and steep climb to the summit of one of the surrounding hills. The members of Thorn breathed a sigh of relief at being reunited and caught up on news since they had split up. Noctem reported that from her vantage point at the western valley entrance she had seen the Haradan force riding back toward Gealand through pass below this afternoon. That evening after everyone was fed and watches set, Elonan left the group for a period of time. He returned with rubbings of stones he had found and then intently copied them down into his journal.
Reaping (July) 16th
The members of Thorn, along with about 30 villagers and 15 Angharad fighters left the next morning under cover of a thick fog. There goal was a local Angharad village located in a large valley about ten miles northeast. After making the village Thorn was going to escort whichever of the villagers wanted to leave Gealand forever onward toward the Carill ford and hopefully safety. The Angharad clansmen offered shelter to any of the Gealanders who wished to wait out the war and return to their homes and farms. The going was slow with most of the people in this group being oldsters and mothers with children, but they made it to the village by the next afternoon without mishap. Upon arrival, the village which was about the same size as Gealand was found empty. No sign of violence could be found and almost anything of value had been taken. Knowing that their people had been ready to go hide in the hills at the slightest sign that the Harad were riding their way the Angharad were not overly concerned. The Angharad dug up some hidden supplies and there was plenty of space, so for the first time since fleeing Gealand everyone had plenty of warm food and good rest. (See 10 on Map below)
Reaping (July) 17th
Unsure as to why the village was abandoned, the Angharad clansmen and the liberated Gealanders decide that it would be best to continue on as a group toward the safety of the the Carill Ford fort. Another good day of travel finds the group in yet another wooded valley near the trail through the hills to the Carill Ford. (See 12 on Map below) Noctem volunteers to scout out the way ahead to be sure that Eradain forces are still in control of both banks of the Ann River. She does not return until late the next morning, but has joyous news. Not only are they Eradain forces there but it appears that soldiers of King Elcadan and the northern border lords are encamped on the southern side of the river! The news is passed around the camp and everyone quickly makes ready to travel to the ford. That afternoon after being picked up by patrols they were brought into the heart of the encampment. Under unobtrusive guard, the whole group is shown a place to camp and asked to stick together until someone can be found to deal with them. Extra blankets and a few tents are found from somewhere and they everyone settles in for another night together.